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Monday
Apr202015

Progress


"Progress"
Oil on Canvas - 1957
Terence Tenison Cuneo 

The truth is that any advance in science leaves morality in its ancient balance; and it depends still on the inscrutable soul of man whether any discovery is mainly a benefit or mainly a calamity. This is, perhaps, the strongest argument for a morality superior to materialism, and a religion that refuses to be bullied by science. Moral progress must still be made morally; and a modern scientist who has invented the most complex mechanism, or liberated the most subtle gas, has still exactly the same spiritual problem before him as that which confronted Cain, when he stood with a ragged stone in his hand.

--G.K. Chesterton, from "The Efficiency of the Police." 

Monday
Apr202015

Progress


"Progress"
Oil on Canvas - 1957
Terence Tenison Cuneo

When Dean Inge reproved me for resisting the eugenic projects of coercion, he comforted himself by saying that science would march on and continue to produce its marvels whatever idealists might say. I ventured to reply by pointing out to what sort of triumph the science of Germany did actually march, and what sort of marvels it did actually display to the admiration of mankind. There is no doubt that a Zeppelin is a wonderful thing; but that did not prevent it from becoming a horrible thing. If human sin can produce such abomination out of the beautiful vision of aviation, out of the science that takes the wings of the morning to abide in the uttermost parts of the sea, it is absurd to say that nothing evil can come out of a eugenical science that studies atavism and apes. The truth is that any advance in science leaves morality in its ancient balance; and it depends still on the inscrutable soul of man whether any discovery is mainly a benefit or mainly a calamity. This is, perhaps, the strongest argument for a morality superior to materialism, and a religion that refuses to be bullied by science. Moral progress must still be made morally; and a modern scientist who has invented the most complex mechanism, or liberated the most subtle gas, has still exactly the same spiritual problem before him as that which confronted Cain, when he stood with a ragged stone in his hand.

--G.K. Chesterton, from "The Efficiency of the Police." 

Thursday
Dec112014

Hounds Putting Up a Swan

"Hounds Putting Up a Swan"
Oil on Panel - Date Unknown
Abraham Hondius

”Every young man starting life ought to know how to cope with an angry swan, so I will briefly relate the proper procedure. You begin by picking up the raincoat which somebody has dropped; and then, judging the distance to a nicety, you simply shove the raincoat over the bird’s head; and taking the boat-hook which you have prudently brought with you, you insert it underneath the swan and heave. The swan goes into a bush and starts trying to unscramble itself; and you saunter back to your boat, taking with you any friends who happen at the moment to be sitting on roofs in the vicinity. That was Jeeves’s method, and I cannot see how it could have been improved upon.”

--P.G. Wodehouse, “Jeeves and the Impending Doom”

Thursday
Oct302014

Hamlet and the Ghost

"Hamlet and the Ghost"
Oil on Canvas - 1901
Frederick James Shields 

"As a matter of fact, like most of the men of strong sense in his tradition, Dickens was left with a half belief in spirits which became in practice a belief in bad spirits. The great disadvantage of those who have too much strong sense to believe in supernaturalism is that they keep last the low and little forms of the supernatural, such as omens, curses, spectres, and retributions, but find a high and happy supernaturalism quite incredible. Thus the Puritans denied the sacraments, but went on burning witches. This shadow does rest, to some extent, upon the rational English writers like Dickens; supernaturalism was dying, but its ugliest roots died last. Dickens would have found it easier to believe in a ghost than in a vision of the Virgin with angels. There, for good or evil, however, was the root of the old diablerie in Dickens, and there it is in Oliver Twist." 

--G.K. Chesterton, Appreciations and Criticisms of Charles Dickens


"For my part, I have ever beleeved, and doe now know, that there are Witches; they that doubt of these, doe not onely deny them, but Spirits; and are obliquely and upon consequence a sort, not of Infidels, but Atheists. Those that to confute their incredulity desire to see apparitions, shall questionlesse never behold any, nor have the power to be so much as Witches."

--Sir Thomas Browne
Thursday
Aug282014

The Coronation of King Gustav III of Sweden

"The Coronation of King Gustav III of Sweeden"
Oil on Canvas - 1782
Carl Gustav Pilo 

A few weeks after we returned from the wonderful trip, I was notified that I had been awarded the Nobel Prize of that year for Literature. It was a very great honour, in all ways unexpected. 

It was necessary to go to Stockholm. Even while we were on the sea, the old King of Sweden died. We reached the city, snow-white under sun, to find all the world in evening dress, the official mourning, which is curiously impressive. Next afternoon, the prize-winners were taken to be presented to the new King [Gustav V]. Winter darkness in those latitudes falls at three o’clock, and it was snowing. One half of the vast acreage of the Palace sat in darkness, for there lay the dead King’s body. We were conveyed along interminable corridors looking out into black quadrangles, where snow whitened the cloaks of the sentries, the breeches of old-time cannon, and the shotpiles alongside of them. Presently, we reached a living world of more corridors and suites all lighted up, but wrapped in that Court hush which is like no other silence on earth. Then, in a great lit room, the weary-eyed, overworked, new King, saying to each the words appropriate to the occasion. Next, the Queen, in marvellous Mary Queen of Scots mourning, a few words, and the return piloted by soft-footed Court officials through a stillness so deep that one heard the click of the decorations on their uniforms. They said that the last words of the old King had been ‘Don’t let them shut the theatres for me.’ So Stockholm that night went soberly about her pleasures, all dumbed down under the snow.

 --Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself