Sunday, 20 May 2012
For this week's quote I wanted to peruse James Austen's The Loiterer for a gem, and WOW, did I ever find one!
In the Number 2 issue, James is discussing "Truth" and how it was dead in all walks of life - and that was written 223 years ago. The shame of it is I have to agree with him because I see the same thing in today's world!
Here is the quote from the first paragraph:
Language has been commonly defined by Grammarians to be the Art of expressing our ideas. Nor was the definition a bad one, during those times when our rude ancestors were sufficiently uninformed in the Ars Rhetorica, to speak always what they really thought. But since we have wisely banished that absurd custom, I should humbly presume that the aforesaid definition might also be altered, and that from henceforward Language be entitled the Art of concealing our Ideas; and I will venture to assert it is used infinitely oftener for the latter purpose than the former, by all ranks and ages, and at all times and in all places. So totally indeed is a regard to veracity excluded from the system of modern ethics, that were it not for diseases, duns, and wives, who sometimes tell one disagreeable truths, one would imagine that Truth as well as Justice had left this degenerate world at the expiration of the Golden Age. And that I may not take an unfair advantage, I shall say nothing of the numerous tribes, whose situation authorizes and in some measure obliges them to a continual breach of veracity; (such as foreign ministers, ladies; maids, lawyers, an physicians; to which list I may also add lovers and their mistresses, who can claim so many precedents in favour of this practice, that they may be said to lie by prescriptive right) and only consider how little attention we all of us pay to truth in the common intercourse of life.
What is so hilarious is that he writes further on and gives examples from the perspective of several areas of life, such as the House of Commons, that are even true today. Well, I believe it to be so at any rate. You may read the entire issue here: http://www.theloiterer.org/loiterer/no2.html
I am continually amazed how things haven't changed in all these years.
Linda the Librarian
Pic: Jane Austen Reviews