709: Battle.

There is another form of impressing the truth, and testifying to it, and doing good by it, which is the dogmatic assertion of truth by the old and the experienced and the revered, to the young. It is out of fashion; it is invaluable. I can myself testify to […] such experiences which stand out supreme among many hundreds in my own early life. I am afraid they may seem trivial to my readers; I can only say that for myself they were as strong experiences as any great joy or pain could be. One was a sentence which Cardinal Manning said to me when I was but twenty years old. […]

The profound thing which Cardinal Manning said to me was this: all human conflict is ultimately theological.

It was my custom during my first days in London, as a very young man, before I went to Oxford, to call upon the Cardinal as regularly as he would receive me; and during those brief interviews I heard from him many things which I have had later occasion to test by the experience of human life. I was, it may be said, too young to judge things so deep as sanctity and wisdom; but, on the other hand, youth has vision, especially upon elemental things; and Manning did seem to me (and still seems to me) much the greatest Englishman of his time. He was certainly the greatest of all that band, small but immensely significant, who, in the Victorian period, so rose above their fellows, preeminent in will and in intelligence, as not only to perceive, but even to accept the Faith. Not only did his powerful mind discover, but his powerful will also insisted upon all the difficult consequences of such an acceptation. He never admitted the possibility of compromise between Catholic and non-Catholic society. He perceived the necessary conflict, and gloried in it.

This saying of his (which I carried away with me somewhat bewildered) that all human conflict was ultimately theological: that is, that all wars and revolutions and all decisive struggles between parties of men arise from a difference in moral and transcendental doctrine, was utterly novel to me. To a young man the saying was without meaning: I would almost have said nonsensical, save that I could not attach the idea of folly to Manning. But as I grew older it became a searchlight; with the observation of the world, and with continuous reading of history, it came to possess for me a universal meaning so profound that it reached to the very roots of political action; so extended that it covered the whole.

It is, indeed, a truth which explains and co-ordinates all one reads of human action in the past, and all one sees of it in the present. Men talk of universal peace: it is only obtainable by one common religion. Men say that all tragedy is the conflict of equal rights. They lie. All tragedy is the conflict of a true right and a false right, or of a greater right and a lesser right, or, at the worst, of two false rights. Still more do men pretend in this time of ours, wherein the habitual use of the human intelligence has sunk to its lowest, that doctrine is but a private, individual affair, creating a mere opinion. Upon the contrary, it is doctrine that drives the State; and every State is stronger in the degree in which the doctrine of its citizens is united. Nor have I met any man in my life, arguing for what should be among men, but took for granted as he argued that the doctrine he consciously or unconsciously accepted was or should be a similar foundation for all mankind. Hence battle.

(Hilaire Belloc, The Cruise of the “Nona”. London: Constable & Co., 1955, pp. 54–56).

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709: Battle.

708: People Begin to Arm Themselves with Law.

Human beings endlessly create problems for themselves, but they also find solutions. Having abolished one solution, of necessity we create another. Manners were a solution to the problems of social existence. They enabled people to raise one another up to a higher plane — a plane on which they appeared as idealized, spiritual beings, open to intimacy but only toward those who had established a right. Manners enchanted the human world and filled it with a congenial mystery: the mystery of human freedom.

In a world organized and disciplined by manners, therefore, strangers could have confidence in one another. They did not feel threatened in the street or in public gatherings; they negotiated their passage with relaxed, easy gestures. Take manners away, and public space becomes threatening, relations take on a provisional aspect, and people feel naked and exposed.

In such a situation, people begin to arm themselves with law.

(Roger Scruton, “Real MenHave Manners,” City Journal, Winter 2000).

708: People Begin to Arm Themselves with Law.

705: Modern and Morbid Weakness.

They suffer from the modern and morbid weakness of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal. […] There is a spirit penetrating all our society to-day by which the exception is allowed to alter the rule; the exile to deflect patriotism, the orphan to depose parenthood, and even the widow or, in this case as we have seen the grass-widow, to destroy the position of the wife.

(G.K. Chesterton, The Superstition of Divorce. London: Chatto & Windus, 1920, pp. 43–46).

705: Modern and Morbid Weakness.

704: Living Fabrics.

As with most metaphors, so fault may be found with that of a march to express the increase of civilisation. In some aspects it is like a stream that has ceased to run in its old channels. For the first time in history, from no cause that has ever been explained, we are without living architecture. In every former age, one desiring to build a house or a church instructed his architect as to the scale of the work, but never thought it necessary to specify the style; that was spontaneous. In the eleventh century the windows and doors would have round arches; in the thirteenth century, pointed with capitals on the pilasters; in the fifteenth century the mode dispensed with capitals — and so on. In each age it was assumed that the new building would be in the fashion of the day. Even when that fashion was a renaissance, it was a uniform, well-defined renaissance. Not till Walpole built Strawberry Hill and Scott followed with Abbotsford was it evident that architecture had ceased to live. Henceforward pretty and interesting piles might be reared with the bones of the mighty dead (with becoming respect to comparative anatomy), but houses could no more be living fabrics.

(Sir Herbert Maxwell, “Civilisation.” In: Meridiana: Noontide Essays. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1892, p. 156).

704: Living Fabrics.

703: A Benefactor.

The first motive which leads men to build good houses is, no doubt, that of increasing largely their own comfort and happiness. But it is easy to see that, in this country, where so many are able to achieve a home for themselves, he who gives to the public a more beautiful and tasteful model of a habitation than this neighbors, is a benefactor to the cause of morality, good order, and the improvement of society were he lives. To place before men reasonable objects of ambition, and to dignify and exalt their aims, cannot but be laudable in the sight of all. And in a country where it is confessedly neither for the benefit of the community at large, nor that of the succeeding generation, to amass and transmit great fortunes, we would encourage a taste for beautiful and appropriate architecture, as a means of promoting public virtue and the general good.

(Andrew Jackson Downing, “On the Moral Influence of Good Houses,” The Horticulturist, Vol. II, No. 8, 1848, p. 347).

703: A Benefactor.

700: The Fall of Greatness.

The fickleness of fortune is one of those proverbial truths which has not grown old with time; and still, as in the old time, it is in the world of politics that her strangest whims and most startling infidelities are displayed. Happily the vicissitudes of political life bear a very different signification from that which attached to them in former times, and we can contemplate their possibility, and study their progress, with scarcely severer twinges of sympathy than we should feel for pieces that were unexpectedly taken in a game of chess. The fall of greatness was a thing to be mourned over in days when men were really great, and when they really fell. Now, they mount to so moderate an elevation, that when the turn of fortune comes they have not far to fall. The rulers of a democratic state are blessed with immunities of the same kind as those which are enjoyed by the rider of a humble domestic animal. His rate of progression may be moderate, and the figure which he displays to bystanders may not be impressive; but when his own imperfect horsemanship, or the temper of the animal on whom his fate depends, condemn him to quit the saddle, the catastrophe is more disfiguring than dangerous in its results. But the position of a politician is as precarious as ever it was, though the tumbles to which he is exposed are no longer terrible.

(Lord Salisbury, “The Position of Parties,The Quarterly Review, Vol. CXXXIII, 1872, p. 558).

700: The Fall of Greatness.