“Laughter is as divine as tears”

To most people, however, there is a fascinating inconsistency in the position of St Francis. He expressed in loftier and bolder language than any earthly thinker the conception that laughter is as divine as tears. He called his monks the mountebanks of God. He never forgot to take pleasure in a bird as it flashed past him, or a drop of water as it fell from his finger: he was, perhaps, the happiest of the sons of men. Yet this man undoubtedly founded his whole polity on the negation of what we think the most imperious necessities; in his three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, he denied to himself and those he loved most, property, love, and liberty. Why was it that the most large-hearted and poetic spirits in that age found their most congenial atmosphere in these awful renunciations? Why did he who loved where all men were blind, seek to blind himself where all men loved? Why was he a monk, and not a troubadour? These questions are far too large to be answered fully here, but in any life of Francis they ought at least to have been asked; we have a suspicion that if they were answered we should suddenly find that much of the enigma of this sullen time of ours was answered also.

Twelve Types (1903).

Published in: on June 20, 2018 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

“No difference”

Why do people think it intelligent to say, “I can see no difference”? It is nowadays quite a mark of culture to say that one can see no difference between a man and a woman, or a man and an angel, or a man and an animal. If a man cannot see the difference between a horse and a cow across a large field, we do not call him cultured: we call him short-sighted. Now there are really interesting differences between angels and women; nay, even between men and beasts, and all such things. They are differences which most people know instinctively, as most people know a cow is not a horse without looking for its mane; or most people know a horse is not a cow without looking for horns. Whether the difference ought to count in this or that important question is a completely different matter; but it ought not really to be so difficult simply to see the difference…

This is a strange epoch; and while, in some ways, we have quite dangerously encouraged the appetites, we have quite ruthlessly crushed the instincts.

— The Illustrated London News, 14 December 2012.

Published in: on June 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm  Comments (1)