Chivalry in Western Literature: The Unbought Grace of Life
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Oh, Primmins! And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Who hath brought it? All are thronging to the gate ; ' Warder — warder! Man — is this a time to wait? Meer instinct, and that not an instinct of the noblest kind, may produce this false oeconomy in perfection. The other oeconomy has larger views. It demands a discriminating judgment, and a firm, sagacious mind… Had the oeconomy of selection and proportion been at all times observed, we should not now have had an overgrown Duke of Bedford, to oppress the industry of humble men, and to limit by the standard of his own conceptions, the justice, the bounty, or, if he pleases, the charity of the Crown.
Disorders, Sir, and infirmities, there are—such disorders, that all attempts towards method, prudence, and frugality, will be perfectly vain, whilst a system of confusion remains, which is not only alien but adverse to all oeconomy; a system, which is not only prodigal in its very essence, but causes every thing else which belongs to it to be prodigally conducted.
It is impossible, Sir, for any person to be an oeconomist where no order in payments is established; it is impossible for a man to be an oeconomist, who is not able to take a comparative view of his means, and of expenses. But the age of chivalry is gone.
That of sophisters, oeconomists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! Europe undoubtedly, taken in a mass, was in a flourishing condition the day on which your Revolution was completed.
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How much of that prosperous state was owing to the spirit of our old manners and opinions is not easy to say; but as such causes cannot be indifferent in their operation, we must presume, that, on the whole, their operation was beneficial…. Nothing is more certain, than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners, and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles; and were indeed the result of both combined; I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.
They have found their punishment in their success. Laws over-turned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigour; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; every thing human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impoverished fraud, and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for the support of an empire, in lieu of the two great recognized species that represent the lasting conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of property, whose creatures and representatives they are, was systematically subverted.
Burke described the moral nature of political economy and political economists. This is because his political economy was an essential constituent of his politics of prudence. Were there two Burkes? I am sensible too, that the very operation of a plan of oeconomy which tends to exonerate the civil list of expensive establishments, may in some sort defeat the capital end we have in view, the independence of parliament; and that in removing the public and ostensible means of influence, we may increase the fund of private corruption.
But what, I confess, was uppermost with me, what I bent the whole force of my mind to, was the reduction of that corrupt influence, which is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of all disorder… I would therefore leave to the crown the possibility of conferring some favours, which, whilst they are received as a reward, do not operate as corruption.
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When men receive obligations from the crown through the pious hands of fathers, or of connections as venerable as the paternal, the dependences which arise from thence, are the obligations of gratitude, and not the fetters of servility. Such ties originate in virtue, and they promote it. My oeconomical reforms were not … the suppression of a paltry pension or employment, more or less. Oeconomy in my plans was, as it ought to be, secondary, subordinate, instrumental.
I acted on state principles.
I found a great distemper in the commonwealth; and, according to the nature of the evil and of the object, I treated it. A disposition to expence was complained of; to that I opposed, not mere retrenchment, but a system of oeconomy, which would make a random expence without plan or foresight, in future not easily practicable… Government is made for the very purpose of opposing that reason to will and to caprice, in the reformers or in the reformed, in the governors or in the governed, in Kings, in Senates, or in People.
Indeed, waste and superfluity should be rooted out. While admitting public frugality as a general rule, he refused to apply it mechanically to actual cases. He was convinced that politicians, including political economists, had to serve the general good by applying general rules to ever-changing circumstances under the guidance of prudence. The axioms of political economy, which Burke laid down or, more strictly speaking, scattered throughout his several works, were not absolutely dominant.
Burke and Smith had similar views on the prudent choice of commercial and financial policies rather than the speculative justification of a self-regulating market system. In conclusion, Burke was far from being a student of the cold logic of metaphysical and dogmatic laissez-faire doctrines. He based his choice of economic policies on prudence, not on principle. He was qualified as a political economist in the sense that he was a pragmatic and prudent politician, well informed about national finance and the balance of trade. Your time at college is too important to get a shallow education in which viewpoints are shut out and rigorous discussion is shut down.
Explore intellectual conservatism Join a vibrant community of students and scholars Defend your principles. Does fusionism have a future among conservatives in the 21st century? A historian of the movement says yes. As the debate about cinema vs. Thank you.
As I grow older in age and wisdom I start to feel that I must limit my interactions with the modern world to harden myself and gain more spiritual insight…an hour spent on the web is much better spent praying the Rosary….. My impression my training is in literature is that Romanticism to some extent embodied the Gothic impulse over against Classicism, which to some extent embodied Apollonian impulse to put it in Spenglerian terms. So the process of degeneration as Cologero has shown and argued is articulated by the dark powers through a species of playing off one against the other : by turns, each side is made wear the white hat, or the black hat, depending.
Both sides were involved in degeneration: what the Pre-Raphaelites did better than either was to use visual art and here I am speculating and out of depth to blend the best of both into something uniquely spiritual and also arguably English. Hence, their perennial and growing interest, even to people of Orthodox spirituality. This is also a quality found in some of the Victorians, like Dickens or Carlyle.
I hope this stimulates your thought — your question did mine…maybe Cologero or others could say more? Perhaps you or Cologero could help answer me this question….. I understood the points Charles Maurras made in one his early essays but the way I see it it can be just easily argued from the reverse that Neoclassicism is of the revolution and Romanticism is of the reaction. Spengler I believe had that notion.
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You are quite right about Spengler — he is a philosopher who discerns the Forms, handicapped by a lack of Tradition, who nevertheless does surprisingly well. This is a brilliant piece, Logres, and I must commend your erudition and precise exposition of the facts involved. To resolve the quandary of the Frank-Byzantine dispute, I can only cite the work of Spengler who saw the Western-Frankish-Roman culture that arose from the barbarians and blossomed under Charlemagne as a new culture with a distinct perception of God that was peculiar to itself — while the Franks and Byzantines both prayed to Christ, Christ meant a different substance to each.
Ultimately the Byzantine soul was much closer to the Islamic and so for them the constant alliance with Islam against the west was not a betrayal. I dont see Spengler as being contradictory to Guenon, if one does as Ptolemy did and posit smaller epicycles of cultures within the universal cycle. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
Learn how your comment data is processed. Romanides is clear what his argument is: The church in Francia remained in the grip of a tyrannical Teutonic minority. Share this: Facebook Twitter Email Tumblr. I have nothing more to add to your succint and brilliant analysis, Logres.