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).

Anúncios
709: Battle.

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.

680: Inequality is the Source of All Delight.

Dr. Johnson, who sometimes let fall, in off-hand talk, sayings of such depth, simplicity, and significance that we must go back to the philosophers of antiquity to find the like of them, once remarked that “inequality is the source of all delight.” This saying, which must seem surprising to most modern ears, is absolutely true and even demonstrable.

All delight — not all pleasure, which is quite a different thing — will be found, when thoroughly examined, to consist in the rendering and receiving of love and the services of love. Hence the great and fortunately inextinguishable fountains of delight in the relationships of man and woman and of parents and children. It is true that a low and inorganic form of national polity may, to some extent, suppress even these pure springs of felicity; but, so long as there are women and children in the world, it can never become quite joyless. The doctrines of liberty, fraternity, and equality are known instinctively only by very bad children, and most women, when once they have been in love, repudiate such teaching indignantly, under whatever polity they may have been born.

“Between unequals sweet is equal love;”

and the fact is that there is no love, and therefore no sweetness, which is not thus conditioned; and the greater the inequality the greater the sweetness. Hence the doctrine that infinite felicity can only arise from the mutual love of beings infinitely unequal — that is, of the creator and the creature. Inequality, far from implying any dishonour on either side of the mutual compact of love, is the source of honour to both. Hooker, writing of marriage, says: “It is no small honour to a man that a creature so like himself should be subjected to him;” and we all know that the honour to woman which the chivalry of the middle ages made an abiding constituent of civilisation, was founded upon Catholic views of her subjection, and the obligation to give special honour, as of right, to the weaker vessel. Look also at the relations which usually subsist between an hereditary gentleman and his hereditary unequals and dependents, and compare them with the ordinary fraternal relations between a Radical master-tradesman and his workmen. The intercourse between the gentleman and his hind or labourer is free, cheerful, and exhilarating, because there is commonly in it the only equality worth regarding, that of goodwill; whereas the commands of the sugar-boiler or the screw-maker to their brothers are probably given with a frown and received with a scowl. Social inequality, since it arises from unalterable nature and inevitable chance, is irritating only when it is not recognised. The American plutocrat may be forced to travel for a week in the company of a hodman, because American theories discountenance first and third class carriages, but catch him speaking to him! Whereas an English duke, if by chance thrown into the companionship of an honest countryman, would be on the best of terms with him before an hour was over, and the good understanding between the two would be made all the easier should the latter have on his distinguishing smock-frock. The genuine Tory is the most accessible of persons, the genuine Radical the least so. The one takes things as they are and must be, the other views them as they are not and cannot be, and, kicking against imaginary evils, often pays the penalty of finding himself firmly saddled with the realities.

(Coventry Patmore, “Thoughts on Knowledge, Opinion, and Inequality,” The Fortnightly Review, Vol. XLII, 1887, pp. 264–265).

680: Inequality is the Source of All Delight.

678: Ancient Soil.

The ancient soil of our country, surcharged as it was with the most marvellous creations of the imagination and faith, becomes day by day more naked, more uniform, more bare — nothing is spared. The devastating axe attacks alike forests and churches, castles and hotels de ville. One would say that the intention of our contemporaries was to persuade themselves that the world began yesterday, and was to end to-morrow, so anxious are they to annihilate everything whose duration exceeds the life of a man.

(Charles de Montalembert; quoted in Margaret Oliphant, Memoir of Count de Montalembert, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1872, pp. 242–243).

678: Ancient Soil.

676: The Clown.

Western man for centuries now has lost the key to his own meaning. He has been striving for a long time to break out of the ruins of a City half destroyed at his own hands. Political Liberalism of the old-fashioned Marxian variety grew out of a psychological desire to get away from where man actually found himself. Post-World War II existentialist despair, considered as a socio-historical reality, is a philosophical justification for this urge to break all existing cultural and historical limits. What must be done, at all costs, is to exorcise our common historical heritage, our faith, our corporate memories. A fresh beginning can be the only beginning. This is a presupposition that is operative everywhere, most concretely in the arts, most consciously in philosophy, and most dangerously in religion.

Such is the estrangement modern man has carved for himself. In social and economic life the masses are estranged from their spiritual and cultural past. Politically, techniques forged by Western man himself have alienated him from his ancient freedom. The home, the nation, the Church, the West, the past, roots, origins — these are always wrong, always wicked: only the wilderness of the future promises salvation. The poet has retreated to that uniquely modern place invented in the early nineteenth century — the state of mind called Bohemia. His destiny seems assured when he has pruned away everything reminiscent of the objective order, and when he finds himself alone with his broken soul. Philosophically, the age has had urged on it the clever monstrosity that since consciousness renders to me what is Other than Myself, then my personality is defined by a negation. Theologically, the Barbarian God of the peat bogs has come back with “neo-orthodoxy,” and man is told that he is so utterly other than God that he is in no sense the image of his Creator. The human fabric has been so cut to ribbons that man has been reduced to a nothing that can parade his utter absurdity only by putting on a mask. The clown has come into his own.

(Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1953, pp. 44–45).

676: The Clown.

674: States of Life.

It is a grave error to place exclusive confidence in old men. The mission of old men is to hinder evil. That of the young is to do good; and this double destination requires the united action of both states of life. Give the helm to a young man, he will upset everything under the pretext of reforms. Give it to an old man, he will let everything become corrupt for fear of innovation. But as all human institutions hold within themselves the germ of decay, and one must continually repair if one would not see the building fall in ruins it follows that public affairs cannot get on without the activity of youth. Old age learns nothing, corrects nothing, establishes nothing.

(Joseph de Maistre; quoted in T.L.L. Teeling, “Joseph de Maistre,” The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XX, 1895, p. 837).

674: States of Life.