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Sunday
Aug182013

A Boy Reading

"A Boy Reading"
Oil on Canvas - 1795
Ramsay Richard Reinagle

"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about `isms' and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator . . ."

"Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o'clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said."


--C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, "On the Reading of Old Books"
Wednesday
Aug072013

A Convoy, North Sea: Painted from an Airship off the Coast of Norway


"A Convoy, North Sea: From NS 7, Painted from an Airship off the Coast of Norway"
Oil on Canvas - 1918
John Lavery

"Ah . . . to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester! . . .
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
Anadyomene, silver-gold?
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain?… oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?"


--Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), from "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester"

Monday
Aug052013

Early Morning

"Early Morning"
Oil on Canvas - 1954
     
      "If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. Cleanliness is not next to godliness nowadays, for cleanliness is made essential and godliness is regarded as an offence . . . Especially this is so in matters of hygiene; notably such matters as lying in bed. Instead of being regarded, as it ought to be, as a matter of personal convenience and adjustment, it has come to be regarded by many as if it were a part of essential morals to get up early in the morning. It is upon the whole part of practical wisdom; but there is nothing good about it or bad about its opposite. Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before."

 

--G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles, "On Lying in Bed"

Wednesday
Jul312013

Albert with a Pipe

"Albert With a Pipe"

Oil on Canvas - 1978

Peter Burns

You and I have seen it in pictures. Our sons will say that they wish they had seen it in pictures. Our sons' sons will say it is all a lie and was never in anything but the pictures, and they will explain it by some myth or other.

 

--Hilaire Belloc, First and Last
Thursday
Jul252013

Belshazzar's Feast

 

"Belshazzar's Feast"
Oil on Canvas - 1820
John Martin


"Or ever the knightly years were gone
 With the old world to the grave,
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian Slave."
--W.E. Henley