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'No one could have been in them this morning, then?'
Part 1 Chapter 8
"What I like," Dick broke in, "is to see the men getting in the salt hay with their horses on sleds."
188. In contrast to laisser-aller, every system of morals is a sort of tyranny against "nature" and also against "reason", that is, however, no objection, unless one should again decree by some system of morals, that all kinds of tyranny and unreasonableness are unlawful What is essential and invaluable in every system of morals, is that it is a long constraint. In order to understand Stoicism, or Port Royal, or Puritanism, one should remember the constraint under which every language has attained to strength and freedom—the metrical constraint, the tyranny of rhyme and rhythm. How much trouble have the poets and orators of every nation given themselves!—not excepting some of the prose writers of today, in whose ear dwells an inexorable conscientiousness—"for the sake of a folly," as utilitarian bunglers say, and thereby deem themselves wise—"from submission to arbitrary laws," as the anarchists say, and thereby fancy themselves "free," even free-spirited. The singular fact remains, however, that everything of the nature of freedom, elegance, boldness, dance, and masterly certainty, which exists or has existed, whether it be in thought itself, or in administration, or in speaking and persuading, in art just as in conduct, has only developed by means of the tyranny of such arbitrary law, and in all seriousness, it is not at all improbable that precisely this is "nature" and "natural"—and not laisser-aller! Every artist knows how different from the state of letting himself go, is his "most natural" condition, the free arranging, locating, disposing, and constructing in the moments of "inspiration"—and how strictly and delicately he then obeys a thousand laws, which, by their very rigidness and precision, defy all formulation by means of ideas (even the most stable idea has, in comparison therewith, something floating, manifold, and ambiguous in it). The essential thing "in heaven and in earth" is, apparently (to repeat it once more), that there should be long OBEDIENCE in the same direction, there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living; for instance, virtue, art, music, dancing, reason, spirituality—anything whatever that is transfiguring, refined, foolish, or divine. The long bondage of the spirit, the distrustful constraint in the communicability of ideas, the discipline which the thinker imposed on himself to think in accordance with the rules of a church or a court, or conformable to Aristotelian premises, the persistent spiritual will to interpret everything that happened according to a Christian scheme, and in every occurrence to rediscover and justify the Christian God:—all this violence, arbitrariness, severity, dreadfulness, and unreasonableness, has proved itself the disciplinary means whereby the European spirit has attained its strength, its remorseless curiosity and subtle mobility; granted also that much irrecoverable strength and spirit had to be stifled, suffocated, and spoilt in the process (for here, as everywhere, "nature" shows herself as she is, in all her extravagant and INDIFFERENT magnificence, which is shocking, but nevertheless noble). That for centuries European thinkers only thought in order to prove something—nowadays, on the contrary, we are suspicious of every thinker who "wishes to prove something"—that it was always settled beforehand what WAS TO BE the result of their strictest thinking, as it was perhaps in the Asiatic astrology of former times, or as it is still at the present day in the innocent, Christian-moral explanation of immediate personal events "for the glory of God," or "for the good of the soul":—this tyranny, this arbitrariness, this severe and magnificent stupidity, has EDUCATED the spirit; slavery, both in the coarser and the finer sense, is apparently an indispensable means even of spiritual education and discipline. One may look at every system of morals in this light: it is "nature" therein which teaches to hate the laisser-aller, the too great freedom, and implants the need for limited horizons, for immediate duties—it teaches the NARROWING OF PERSPECTIVES, and thus, in a certain sense, that stupidity is a condition of life and development. "Thou must obey some one, and for a long time; OTHERWISE thou wilt come to grief, and lose all respect for thyself"—this seems to me to be the moral imperative of nature, which is certainly neither "categorical," as old Kant wished (consequently the "otherwise"), nor does it address itself to the individual (what does nature care for the individual!), but to nations, races, ages, and ranks; above all, however, to the animal "man" generally, to MANKIND.
A more ludicrous incident now occurred. At and since their entrance, our party had heard what seemed the continued bark of a dog. A man on all fours came forward from behind a group, and with unmeaning face, and nostril snuffing up the wind, imitated to perfection the deep bay of a mastiff.
Miss Mary leaned towards me, one finger on my sleeve.
“I must sit here till nurse comes up from her supper,” she said. “Look at that seraph!”
Nothing is more hopeless than to reason with a placid person who has lapsed into a fit of ill-temper. The two elder girls realised this, and remained perfectly silent while Mellicent continued to wish for death, to lament the general misery of life, and the bad fortune which attended the wearers of black slippers. So incessant was the stream of her repinings, that it seemed as if it might have gone on for ever, had not a servant entered at last, with the information that the guests were beginning to arrive, and that Lady Darcy would be glad to see the young ladies without delay. Esther was anxious to wait and help Peggy with her toilet, but that young lady was still on her dignity, and by no means anxious to descend to a scene of gaiety for which she had little heart. She refused the offer, therefore, in Mariquita fashion, and the sisters walked dejectedly along the brightly-lit corridors, Mellicent still continuing her melancholy wail, and Esther reflecting sadly that all was vanity, and devoutly wishing herself back in the peaceful atmosphere of the vicarage.
There was also, I believe, an old family coachman in the stable behind the shrubbery; but he and his “old family” horses, and the still older and more decayed family brougham, had reached a decrepitude so advanced that they hardly ever emerged from the stable-yard, and guests at Queen’s Acre depended chiefly on station flies, or, in motoring days, on their own cars. Howard, though his means permitted every comfort, would never introduce electric light into the house, much less the telephone and central heating; and his reluctance to repair, to repaint or in any way renovate his dear old house, must have been part of the deep-seated “complex” which made him unwilling to take any decision on whatever subject; for he was the most generous of men, and as careless of money as he was indifferent to all material comforts except good food.
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora's nurse.
"Eh! dear ma'am, to think of your going out in an evening in such a thin shawl! It's no better than muslin. At your age, ma'am, you should be careful."
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