Sunday 12 January 2020


Sacred to the Memory of Lt Col John Brown Accidentally Shot Dead By His Batman On The Fourth Day Of April, 1882. 'Well Done, Thou Good And Faithful Servant'. Tombstone in the North-West Frontier, according to the wildly unreliable Ned Sherrin.

It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil...he is the only explanation of it. Mgr. Ronald Knox (In its obituary the Times called him the "wittiest Churchman in England since Sydney Smith”.)

Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired. Dean Swift (via my well read reader, Toma)

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by ‘thou shalt not’, the individual can ‘practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by ‘love’ or ‘reason’, he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else. George Orwell in "Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver's Travels".

Because our education is defective, because we are superficial and ill-read, we are forced to make the most of that position, of ignorance. Hence America is a vast know-nothing party, and we disparage books, and cry up intuition. Ralph Waldo Emerson in his journal, in 1857

Sir: Roger Scruton, in a very personal and moving portrait of his year (‘My Strange Year’, 21 December), reminds us that crisis is opportunity; and concludes that the meaning of life is gratitude — something we may only realise when, as Virgil put it, ‘mentem mortalia tangunt’.
I think that language may betray us a bit on this great question and that there is no meaning of life. Rather, the meaning is life. Our response to this is-ness — this amazing, often painful gift — may be to turn aside into the ressentiment which Nietzsche warns against; or — as Roger Scruton does — to feel wonder and sheer gratitude at what is, might never have been, and one day will not be.
A letter published in this week's Spectator,
 from Hugh Hetherington

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