Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nio's quote of the day

Words of wisdom for the new president-elect:

"Whoever examines, with due circumspection, into the annual records of time, will find it remarked that War is the child of Pride, and Pride the daughter of Riches:—the former of which assertions may be soon granted, but one cannot so easily subscribe to the latter; for Pride is nearly related to Beggary and Want, either by father or mother, and sometimes by both: and, to speak naturally, it very seldom happens among men to fall out when all have enough; invasions usually travelling from north to south, that is to say, from poverty to plenty. The most ancient and natural grounds of quarrels are lust and avarice; which, though we may allow to be brethren, or collateral branches of pride, are certainly the issues of want. For, to speak in the phrase of writers upon politics, we may observe in the republic of dogs, which in its original seems to be an institution of the many, that the whole state is ever in the profoundest peace after a full meal; and that civil broils arise among them when it happens for one great bone to be seized on by some leading dog, who either divides it among the few, and then it falls to an oligarchy, or keeps it to himself, and then it runs up to a tyranny. The same reasoning also holds place among them in those dissensions we behold upon a turgescency in any of their females. For the right of possession lying in common (it being impossible to establish a property in so delicate a case), jealousies and suspicions do so abound, that the whole commonwealth of that street is reduced to a manifest state of war, of every citizen against every citizen, till some one of more courage, conduct, or fortune than the rest seizes and enjoys the prize: upon which naturally arises plenty of heart-burning, and envy, and snarling against the happy dog. Again, if we look upon any of these republics engaged in a foreign war, either of invasion or defence, we shall find the same reasoning will serve as to the grounds and occasions of each; and that poverty or want, in some degree or other (whether real or in opinion, which makes no alteration in the case), has a great share, as well as pride, on the part of the aggressor."

From "The Battle of the Books" by Jonathan Swift, first published in 1704. Text from the 1886 Cassell & Co. edition, via Project Gutenberg.


chayaruchama said...

How can I NOT respond to Nio, hmmm ?
Even if my world is a-fucked, royally ?

You have SUCH SAGE pets.
How DO you do it ?

[Love you, Gracie. Be blessed, my girl]

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Swift would think of Bush's war: there's plenty of pride, bluster, and greed but certainly no want. On the other hand, Swift's is a cautionary tale for a society with such a disparity of means between rich and poor. You could ask Tsar Nicholas about that.

BitterGrace said...

Oh, but there is want, Bozo--want of oil. As Swift said, it's the perception of want, not the reality, that counts. And the other great thing about this observation is that it takes everybody into account. Tyrants and aspiring tyrants have identical motives, and the legitimate needs of the people can never be safely ignored.

Chaya, I hope Nio's smile gave you a tiny lift. He would come visit and lift your spirits if he could.

Mary said...

Nio has such a sweet face. :)

Swift sums it all up so neatly, but I'm afraid he does dogs little justice in comparing that noble species with humans.

BitterGrace said...

Nio is 100 pounds of sugar, Mary. I think you're right that dogs are more noble than us--but they're magnanimous enough to tolerate the comparison. Especially if there's a guilt cookie in it for them.