639: No Right.

It seems to me that until a man has read all the old books, he has no right to prefer the new ones.

(Montesquieu, Persian and Chinese Letters. Washington: M. Walter Dunne, 1901, p. 202).

Anúncios
639: No Right.

638: Desmedida Exigência de Felicidade.

A fragilidade do matrimônio decorre de uma desmedida exigência de felicidade, ou melhor, da aplicação dessa exigência a uma coisa que não suporta tal pressão. Há um insolência nossa nessa impaciente cobrança de ventura, e há sobretudo um equívoco, porque pretendemos tirar da casa, do matrimônio, do amor humano, um infinito rendimento, quando é finita e sempre muito exígua a nossa própria contribuição. Depositamos com mesquinharia e queremos juros generosos, infinitamente generosos. E no desejo desse absurdo balanço nós somos injustos com o próximo, e injustos com Deus. Realmente, por mais esquisito que isto pareça, se alguém imagina que a sua noiva, e mais tarde a esposa, lhe possa dar plena felicidade, não terá direito de queixar-se nos dias de decepções, porque foi ele, inicialmente, o primeiro culpado de injustiça.

(Gustavo Corção, “A Casa,” O Globo, 3 de Janeiro de 1976).

638: Desmedida Exigência de Felicidade.

634: Character, Too, Has Its History.

In modern history, as we have seen, personality has played, on the whole, a rôle of minor importance as compared with the times of classical antiquity. In fact, there is practically only one personality in modern history who, in many respects, is a true rival of the great personalities of antiquity, and in whom character of the mightiest force has had ample play. We mean Napoleon. He has, more especially by H. Taine, been likened to the men of the Renaissance. It is more correct to place him beside the men of classical antiquity. His intellect was indeed a most finely and evenly balanced instrument of thought, memory, and imagination. Yet his intellect alone could not have raised him to the height of his unparalleled position. It was the indomitable power of his character that turned circumstances, chances, and ideas into a mighty army of conquest and organisation. We are still too near to this colossal figure to be able to judge of him adequately. It is, however, certain that there was in Napoleon, in addition to the genius of the intellect, a genius of character, if one may use this expression. His very faults, nay, blunders, are manifestly the faults and blunders of character. He, together with the other character-Titans of history, help us to see more clearly how character, when given sufficient elbow-room by the impersonal causes of history, may influence the trend of events to an incredible extent. The very progressiveness innate in human intellect is hostile to the individual intelligence; whereas character, less elastic, less progressive, ranges itself with all the conservative and staying forces of history. The error, then, of the casual student of history consists either in a total neglect of the influence of character on human events, or in an exaggerated estimation of the effect of character on all the periods of history. Character, too, has its history; and it is part of the most important tasks of the historian to allot to character its due place in the array of the causes that have produced the great drama of man.

(Emil Reich, “History and Character,” The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. LXIII, 1908, p. 271).

634: Character, Too, Has Its History.

633: A Dickens Character.

A solemn friend of my grandfather used to go for walks on Sunday carrying a prayer-book, without the least intention of going to church. And he calmly defended it by saying, with uplifted hand, “I do it, Chessie, as an example to others.” The man who did that was obviously a Dickens character. And I am disposed to think that, in being a Dickens character, he was in many ways rather preferable to many modern characters. Few modern men, however false, would dare to be so brazen. And I am not sure he was not really a more genuine fellow than the modern man who says vaguely that he has doubts or hates sermons, when he only wants to go and play golf. Hypocrisy itself was more sincere. Anyhow, it was more courageous.

(G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1936, p. 20).

633: A Dickens Character.

632: Proverbial Philosophy.

In many cases, though the ideas may be familiar enough, we might find it difficult to match Creole proverb with English equivalent. “It’s the old pot that makes the good soup,” might well be the motto for a Conservative association. “If your petticoats fit you well, don’t try to put on your husband’s breeches,” reminds us of one of Mrs. Lynn Lynton’s scolding diatribes; and “eating once doesn’t wear out the teeth” makes us think of Oliver Twist and his impertinent demand for more. In some of these sayings there seems to lurk a sombre irony. “It is when death comes that you think about your life;” “He who kills his own body works for the worms;” “The leprosy says it loves you, while it is eating your fingers.” There is something here, deeper and more mordant than is common in proverbial philosophy. Those who are proud of low aims and ignoble ambitions, may find a word for them in the homely saying, “Chickens don’t boast what good soup they make.” A delightful laxity in the law of slander seems to be indicated in the brief sentence “The tongue has no bones,” while, on the other hand, a strictness in the legal code is hinted at in this, “He who takes a partner takes a master.” A patriotic if mistaken zeal is shown in the protest against the custom of the rich planters who Send their sons to be educated in Europe, “He went to school a kid, and came back a sheep.” That we should learn by the misfortune of others seems to be the moral of this saying: “If you see your neighbor’s beard on fire, water your own.” “Behind the dog’s back it is ‘dog’, but before him it is ‘Mr. Dog,’” reminds us at once of a certain barrack-room ballad:

Oh, it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’
Tommy go away,
But it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins,” when
the band begins to play.

Good people who are over-sanguine as to the immediate accomplishment of all their little plans are quietly assured that “When the sky falls, all the flies will be caught.” Two pithy sayings deal with the root of all evil: “Money is good, but it’s too dear;” “Money has no blood relations.” Fair-Weather friends are hit off rather neatly in the next: “It’s when the wind is blowing that folks can see the skin of a fowl.”

(“Creole Proverbs,The Living Age, Vol. CCXVI, 1898, pp. 471–472).

632: Proverbial Philosophy.

630: Religion Alone.

Who knows whether there has been enough of warfare? But never will it cease, till the palm-branch be grasped, which a spiritual power can alone extend. So long will blood continue to flow over Europe, until nations shall become conscious of the fearful frenzy, that urges them round in a vicious circle, and until touched and softened by celestial music, they shall return in motley crowds to their ancient altars, perform works of peace, and, on the reeking battle-plain, amid tears of joy, solemnize the festival of peace, the great repast of love. Religion alone can resuscitate Europe, can give security to nations, invest Christendom with new glory, and reinstate her in her old pacific functions.

(Novalis; quoted in James Burton Robertson, “Life and Writings of Novalis,” The Dublin Review, Vol. III, 1837, pp. 298–299).

630: Religion Alone.

629: In the Dark.

I think that, in an ascending age, the classic of yesterday becomes the degenerate of to-morrow. […] In a descending age, the degenerate of yesterday becomes to-morrow’s classic. People too readily accept the endorsement of posterity as a demonstration of an artistic claim to merit. But if posterity is inferior to the age which condemned the artist originally, obviously the admiration of posterity is worth nothing, and a man who finds his works increasingly admired as he grows older, should ask himself whether the age is getting better or worse. It may be the increasing vulgarity of his contemporaries which alone accounts for his increasing popularity. Therefore, to outline the probable character of a work of art of the future is to grope entirely in the dark. For if man continues degenerating, modern standards will be too far above his head to be comprehended. And if he becomes more desirable than he is at present, modern classics will appear as so much rubbish.

(Anthony Ludovici; quoted in Meredith Starr, The Future of the Novel. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company, 1921, p. 46).

629: In the Dark.