Sunday, 29 December 2013

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 256

The subject of "Truth" in all areas of our lives has recently been brought to my attention. That naturally led me to wonder what Jane and Tom had to say about it. I was not disappointed.

This will be Part 1 and concern Jane's encounter via her brother James and what he wrote in The Loiterer, of which I am sure that our Jane was well aware. Here is the first paragraph of Issue No. 2 of The Loiterer:

Ars Rhetorica, from Vimeo

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.

Due to my limited education, it was necessary to define Ars Rhetorica and the Golden Age. As you can see by the above quote, James deplores the then terrible world condition of Truth.

Lately (in the past 10 years at least) I have noticed those same "conditions" in today's world. Evidently from what James wrote it has been going on for quite some time and I cannot disagree with him.

I can't help but wonder how this condition (of lack of Truth) may have possibly shown up in Jane's works. However, that research would be a book in itself.

I never cease to be amazed at how smart all those Austens and their contemporaries really were. Now, you may check Part 2 and Tom's thoughts.

Yours in Truth,
Linda the Librarian

No comments: