Tuesday, June 18, 2013
A Wise Man Is Known by Much Laughing
Ride, si sapis, ô puella ride [Martial 2.41.1: Laugh if you are wise, o girl, laugh]; If thou beest wise, laugh: for since the powers of discourse, reason, and laughter, bee equally proper unto Man onely, why shall not hee be onely most wise, who hath most use of laughing, as well as he who hath most of reasoning and discoursing?
I alwaies did, and shall understand that Adage,
Per risum multum possis cognoscere stultum,That by much laughing thou maist know there is a foole, not that the laughers are fooles, but that among them there is some foole, at whom wisemen laugh: which moved Erasmus to put this as his first Argument in the mouth of his Folly, that shee made beholders laugh; for fooles are the most laughed at, and laugh the least themselves of any.
And Nature saw this faculty to bee so necessary in man, that shee hath beene content that by more causes we should be importuned to laugh, then to the exercise of any other power; for things in themselves utterly contrary, beget this effect; for wee laugh both at witty and absurd things: At both which sorts I have seen Men laugh so long, and so earnestly, that at last they have wept that they could laugh no more.
And therefore the Poet [Martial 3.20.1, 21, paraphrased] having described the quietnesse of a wise retired man, saith in one, what we have said before in many lines; Quid facit Canius tuus? ridet. [What is your Canius doing? He's laughing.] We have received that even the extremity of laughing, yea of weeping also, hath been accounted wisedome: And that Democritus and Heraclitus, the lovers of these Extremes, have been called lovers of wisedome. Now among our wisemen I doubt not, but many would be found who would laugh at Heraclitus weeping, none which weepe at Democritus laughing.
At the hearing of Comedies or other witty reports, I have noted some, which not understanding jests &c. have yet chosen this as the best meanes to seeme wise and understanding, to laugh when their Companions laugh; and I have presumed them ignorant, whom I have seene unmoved.
A foole if he come into a Princes Court, and see a gay man leaning at the wall, so glistering, and so painted in many colours that he is hardly discerned from one of the pictures in the Arras, hanging his body like an Iron-bound-chest, girt in and thicke ribb'd with broad gold laces, may (and commonly doth) envy him. But alas! shall a wiseman, which may not onely not envy, but not pitty this monster, do nothing? Yes, let him laugh.
And if one of these hot cholerike firebrands, which nourish themselves by quarrelling, and kindling others, spit upon a foole one sparke of disgrace, he, like a thatcht house quickly burning, may bee angry; but the wiseman, as cold as the Salamander, may not onely not bee angry with him, but not be sorry for him; therefore let him laugh: so he shall bee knowne a Man, because hee can laugh; a wise Man that hee knowes at what to laugh, and a valiant Man that he dares laugh: for he that laughs is justly reputed more wise, then at whom it is laughed.
And hence I thinke proceeds that which in these later formall times I have much noted; that now when our superstitious civility of manners is become a mutuall tickling flattery of one another, almost every man affecteth an humour of jesting, and is content to be deject, and to deforme himselfe, yea become foole to no other end that I can spie, but to give his wise Companion occasion to laugh; and to shew themselves in promptnesse of laughing is so great in wisemen, that I thinke all wisemen, if any wiseman doe read this Paradox, will laugh both at it and me.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Freaks and Fancies of Nature
How astonishing are the freaks and fancies of Nature! To what purpose, we say, is a bird placed in the woods of Cayenne, with a bill a yard long, making a noise like a puppy dog, and laying eggs in hollow trees? The toucans, to be sure, might retort, to what purpose were gentlemen in Bond street created? To what purpose were certain foolish prating Members of Parliament created?—pestering the House of Commons with their ignorance and folly, and impeding the business of the country? There is no end of such questions.
Like a Quiet Room
The moon has risen, the little golden stars are shining out bright and clear in the sky; the forest stands out black and silent, and the white mist rises wondrously from the meadows.The German:
How quiet the world is, how cosy and friendly in the mantle of the dusk, like a quiet room where you may sleep away the sorrows of the day and forget them.
Can you see the moon up there? Only half of it is visible, but it is round and beautiful for all that. It is the same with many things which we laugh at without thinking, because our eyes cannot see them.
Der Mond ist aufgegangen,Here are links to sheet music (.pdf files) for settings by
Die goldnen Sternlein prangen
Am Himmel hell und klar;
Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,
Und aus den Wiesen steiget
Der weisse Nebel wunderbar.
Wie ist die Welt so stille,
Und in der Dämmrung Hülle
So traulich und so hold!
Als eine stille Kammer,
Wo ihr des Tages Jammer
Verschlafen und vergessen sollt.
Seht ihr den Mond dort stehen?
Er ist nur halb zu sehen,
Und ist doch rund und schön!
So sind wohl manche Sachen,
Die wir getrost belachen,
Weil unsre Augen sie nicht sehn.
It was a hard, wearing, toilsome journey, but it had its bright side; for after each day was done and our wolfish hunger appeased with a hot supper of fried bacon, bread, molasses and black coffee, the pipe-smoking, song-singing and yarn-spinning around the evening camp-fire in the still solitudes of the desert was a happy, care-free sort of recreation that seemed the very summit and culmination of earthly luxury. It is a kind of life that has a potent charm for all men, whether city or country-bred. We are descended from desert-lounging Arabs, and countless ages of growth toward perfect civilization have failed to root out of us the nomadic instinct. We all confess to a gratified thrill at the thought of "camping out."
Saturday, June 15, 2013
The Air of Equality
Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life—snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.—had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word 'comrade' stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality.
O king, my lord!
Age is here, old age arrived,
Feebleness came, weakness grows,
Childlike one sleeps all day.
Eyes are dim, ears deaf,
Strength is waning through weariness,
The mouth, silenced, speaks not,
The heart, void, recalls not the past,
The bones ache throughout.
Good has become evil, all taste is gone,
What age does to people is evil in everything.
The nose, clogged, breathes not,
Painful are standing and sitting.
Odi et Amo
Philos[ophy]. But what is your profession? that at least is essential.The Greek:
Lu[cian]. I profess hatred of pretension and imposture, lying, and pride; the whole loathsome tribe of them I hate; and you know how numerous they are.
Philos. Upon my word, you must have your hands full at this profession!
Lu. I have; you see what general dislike and danger it brings upon me. However, I do not neglect the complementary branch, in which love takes the place of hate; it includes love of truth and beauty and simplicity and all that is akin to love. But the subjects for this branch of the profession are sadly few; those of the other, for whom hatred is the right treatment, are reckoned by the thousand. Indeed there is some danger of the one feeling being atrophied, while the other is over-developed.
Philos. That should not be; they run in couples, you know. Do not separate your two branches; they should have unity in diversity.
Lu. You know better than I, Philosophy. My way is just to hate a villain, and love and praise the good.
ἡ τέχνη δέ σοι τίς; ἄξιον γὰρ ἐπίστασθαι τοῦτό γε.
μισαλαζών εἰμι καὶ μισογόης καὶ μισοψευδὴς καὶ μισότυφος καὶ μισῶ πᾶν τὸ τοιουτῶδες εἶδος τῶν μιαρῶν ἀνθρώπων· πάνυ δὲ πολλοὶ εἰσιν, ὡς οἶσθα.
Ἡράκλεις, πολυμισῆ τινα μέτει τὴν τέχνην.
εὖ λέγεις· ὁρᾷς γοῦν ὁπόσοις ἀπεχθάνομαι καὶ ὡς κινδυνεύω δι᾽ αὐτήν. οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν ἐναντίαν αὐτῇ πάνυ ἀκριβῶς οἶδα, λέγω δὲ τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ φιλο τὴν ἀρχὴν ἔχουσαν· φιλαλήθης γὰρ καὶ φιλόκαλος καὶ φιλαπλοϊκὸς καὶ ὅσα τῷ φιλεῖσθαι συγγενῆ. πλὴν ἀλλ᾽ ὀλίγοι πάνυ ταύτης ἄξιοι τῆς τέχνης, οἱ δὲ ὑπὸ τῇ ἐναντίᾳ ταττόμενοι καὶ τῷ μίσει οἰκειότεροι πεντακισμύριοι. κινδυνεύω τοιγαροῦν τὴν μὲν ὑπ᾽ ἀργίας ἀπομαθεῖν ἤδη, τὴν δὲ πάνυ ἠκριβωκέναι.
καὶ μὴν οὐκ ἐχρῆν· τοῦ γὰρ αὐτοῦ καὶ τάδε, φασί, καὶ τάδε· ὥστε μὴ διαίρει τὼ τέχνα· μία γὰρ ἐστὸν δύ᾽ εἶναι δοκούσα.
ἄμεινον σὺ ταῦτα οἶσθα, ὦ Φιλοσοφία. τὸ μέντοι ἐμὸν τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν, οἷον τοὺς μὲν πονηροὺς μισεῖν, ἐπαινεῖν δὲ τοὺς χρηστοὺς καὶ φιλεῖν.
Friday, June 14, 2013
At the Back of His Mind
At the back of his mind were Homer, Pindar, Aeschylus, Dante, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Camoens and St Paul, all read in the originals. These were his standards of judgement. He recognised greatness when he met it and saw no reason why he should waste time on triviality.
The very poor results of average school instruction are due chiefly to the indifference or soft-heartedness of parents. We have ourselves taught big lads in this country who have wept over their lessons, and brought letters of excuse from their mothers for bad work for which they richly deserved to be flogged. Schoolmasters must have uncommon virtue and zeal for their profession, when they sacrifice, as they are continually doing, their own 'interests' for the sake of doing their pupils more good than their own fathers and mothers wish them to receive! But is it wise to offer a premium to a schoolmaster for carelessness and dishonesty?
'But poor Tom is so delicate—he cannot study so hard; his lessons are too long; and our physician warns us not to overtax his brain'. Poor baby! Is he too tired to sit up till ten or eleven o'clock at night? Does his feeble constitution yield to anything but school work? No; he is only imposing on your good-nature; he is not sick, but lazy; and the best medicine you can give him is a letter to his tutor requesting him to give 'poor Tom' twice as much to do.
It is quite possible for a spirited master to produce a fashion of hard work. Raise the average of lessons. Do it slowly, if necessary; a few lines or pages at a time. But it can easily be done. The clever, industrious boys will like it; and the dunces will be dragged up. Masters know far better than boys what the boys can do. Excuses may sometimes be accepted for sickness, or unavoidable absence; but excuses should only relieve a boy from punishment, not from the necessity of making up lost ground. No excuse can get him over the fifth proposition of Euclid's first book, if he has never learned the fourth; no knowledge of the subjunctive mood can possibly compensate for ignorance of the indicative. Failure should be made disgraceful; idleness should be regarded as a crime.
Moreover, a change of work is a rest—from ancient languages to modern; from mathematics to natural philosophy; from history to literature—and ample provision should be made for thorough recreation, out of doors and in; but never sheer idleness. If a boy is really tired, let him go to bed. Bed, for a lad who shams fatigue, is one of the very best of punishments. It is intensely disagreeable; it keeps a mischievous lad out of the way; it rests the body and soothes the temper; it commends itself to the reason as the very kindest treatment for an overtaxed brain.
You Won't Get On
The first Malburnian poem certainly by John appeared in the issue of 26 March 1923. A pastiche of Thomas Moore's 'The Minstrel Boy', it was aimed at the classics as taught by old Mr Emery, the Fifth Form master, two of whose favourite phrases, 'You little owl!' and 'You won't get on!' were mocked."Mr Emery" was Cecil Antonio Emery (1873-1931).
The Classical boy to his Fifth has gone,
In the chairs at the top you'll find him,
Pondering over his Xenophon,
For which the Lord designed him.
You little owl! quoth the master stern
Who out of the window starest,
When will the difference you discern
Between the present and aorist?
The Scholar gazed with a look of alarm
And he murmured the wrong translation
But a volume of Vergil under his arm
Gave him classical consolation.
'For two long terms have I taught this form
But it brings my proud soul under.
You won't get on,' did the master storm
In a classical clap of thunder.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
There really should be lunatic asylums for nations as well as for individuals.
I Care Not
I.19 as Naso said: Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.150 (ultima caelestum terras Astraea reliquit)
Did you hear of the News (O the News) how it thunders!
Do but see, how the block-headed Multitude wonders!
One fumes, and stamps, and stares to think upon
What others wish as fast, Confusion.
One swears w'are gone, another just agoing, 5
While a third sits and cries,
'Till his half blinded eyes,
Call him pitiful Rogue for so doing.
Let the tone be what 'twill that the mighty Ones utter,
Let the cause be what 'twill why the poorer sort mutter; 10
I care not what your State-confounders do,
Nor what the stout repiners undergo:
I cannot whine at any alterations.
Let the Swede beat the Dane,
Or be beaten again, 15
What am I in the Croud of the Nations?
What care I if the North and South Poles come together;
If the Turk, or the Pope's Antichristian, or neither;
If fine Astraea be (as Naso said)
From Mortals in a peevish fancy fled: 20
Rome, when 'twas all on fire, her People mourning,
'Twas an Emperour could stand
With his Harp in his hand,
Sing and play, while the City was burning.
Compendium Theologiae Moralis
Kepe well X,1 and flee fro VII;2
Rule well V,3 and come to heven.
1. The Ten Commandments.
2. The Seven Deadly Sins.
3. The Five Wits (Senses).
Naked I came, when I began to beRobert of Brunnè's Handlyng Synne, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall (London: Roxburghe Club, 1862), pp. 269-270 (lines 8697-8702):
A man among the Sons of Misery,
Tender, unarm'd, helpless, and quite forlorn,
E're since 'twas my hard fortune to be born;
And when the space of a few weary days
Shall be expir'd, then must I go my ways.
Naked I shall return, and nothing have,
Nothing wherewith to bribe my hungry Grave.
Than what's the proudest Monarch's glittering Robe,
Or what's he, more than I, that rul'd the Globe?
Since we must all without distinction die,
And slumber both stark naked, He and I.
The lorde that made of erthe, erles,
Of the same erthe made he cherles;
Erles myght, and lordes stut,
As cherles shal yn erthe be put,
Erles, cherles, all at ones,
Shal none knowe yhoure, fro oure, bones.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I never take leave of anyone, for any length of time, without a deep impression upon my mind of the uncertainty of human life, and the probability that we may meet no more in this world.
Para Thina Poluphloisboio Thalasses
The three elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful, and varied. For it is a mistake to talk of the monotone of ocean or of the monotonous nature of its sound. The sea has many voices. Listen to the surf, really lend it your ears, and you will hear a world of sounds: hollow boomings and heavy roarings, great watery tumblings and tramplings, long hissing seethes, sharp, rifle-shot reports, splashes, whispers, the grinding undertone of stones, and sometimes vocal sounds that might be the half-heard talk of people in the sea.
Let Nobler Views Engage Thy Mind
No more thus brooding o'er yon heap,
With Av'rice painful vigils keep.
Still unenjoy'd the present store,
Still endless sighs are breathed for more.
Oh! quit the shadow, catch the prize, 5
Which not all India's treasure buys!
To purchase heav'n, has gold the pow'r?
Can gold remove the mortal hour?
In life, can Love be bought with gold?
Are Friendship's pleasures to be sold? 10
No—all that's worth a wish, a thought,
Fair Virtue gives unbrib'd, unbought.
Cease, then, on trash thy hopes to bind,
Let nobler views engage thy mind.
With Science tread the wondrous way, 15
Or learn the Muse's moral lay;
In social hours indulge thy soul,
Where Mirth and Temp'rance mix the bowl;
To virtuous love resign thy breast,
And be, by blessing Beauty, blest. 20
Thus taste the feast by Nature spread,
Ere Youth and all its joys are fled;
Come, taste with me the balm of life,
Secure from pomp, and wealth, and strife.
I boast whate'er for man was meant, 25
In health, and Stella, and content;
And scorn, oh! let that scorn be thine!
Mere things of clay, that dig the mine.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Be Thine Own Home
Be thou then thine owne home, and in thy selfe dwell;49 Inne: "lodge, find lodging, sojourn" (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. inn, v., sense 2.a)
Inne any where, continuance maketh hell.
And seeing the snaile, which every where doth rome,
Carrying his owne house still, still is at home,
Follow (for he is easie pac'd) this snaile,
Bee thine owne Palace, or the world's thy gaole.
And in the worlds sea, do not like corke sleepe
Upon the waters face; nor in the deepe
Sinke like a lead without a line; but as
Fishes glide, leaving no print where they passe,
Nor making sound; so closely thy course goe,
Let men dispute, whether thou breathe or no.
Nikolaus Reusner (1545-1602), Aureola Emblemata (Strassburg: B. Jobin, 1587), no. LVII (click to enlarge):