Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Virginia Woolf speaks

Pick a face to lie to. I offer you this one, sight heretofore unseen, because it would defeat my intention. Pick one, if you like, which might advance your own. Now, lie to him. Embellish your blandishments with oaths upon the souls of your grand-children, if you're a Corleone, or with casuistries spun from Salic Law, if you're a priest in Henry V. Dangle justice if a Don, Burgundy if a monk, and let the blood of thousands rinse equivocation from resolve with novel, grave commitments to the fallen. You have just set all the youth of England ablaze, and driven the United States into perdition. But what's a bit of heat, for pleasure's sake?

We'll be back to this paradigm of governing because of its notable sang froid in the face of what we take to be a treasurable resource. It wasn't our idea, it was Virginia Woolf's, in her aphorism against summoning historians, to give our reading hour its due. She said it was the imagination's job to make itself timeless and plain, and we accept that sobering ukase as people used to listen to E.F. Hutton. But here is our capital, and so our task is two-fold: to see what price the market will give us for it these days, and to conserve it as well as we can. Appreciation and dividends will take care of themselves, beyond our dreams.

William Shakespeare
Henry V
  I, ii, 1-220
J.H. Walter, editor
The Arden Edition of the Works
  of William Shakespeare
Methuen & Co., 1954


  1. Dink! Hen's teeth, themselves, quake at your scarcity in our forum, whose remission bowls us over with too much delight to query as you ask.