Friday, April 28, 2017

It Comes, It Comes, as Holy Darkness Can

A Ballade of the First Rain
by G. K. Chesterton

The sky is blue with summer and the sun,
The woods are brown as autumn with the tan,
It might as well be Tropics and be done,
I might as well be born a copper Khan;
I fashion me an oriental fan
Made of the wholly unreceipted bills
Brought by the ice-man, sleeping in his van
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills).

I read the Young Philosophers for fun
—Fresh as our sorrow for the late Queen Anne—
The Dionysians whom a pint would stun,
The Pantheists who never heard of Pan.
—But through my hair electric needles ran,
And on my book a gout of water spills,
And on the skirts of heaven the guns began
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills).

O fields of England, cracked and dry and dun,
O soul of England, sick of words, and wan!—
The clouds grow dark;—the down-rush has begun.
—It comes, it comes, as holy darkness can,
Black as with banners, ban and arriere-ban;
A falling laughter all the valley fills,
Deep as God's thunder and the thirst of man:
(A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills).


Prince, Prince-Elective on the modern plan
Fulfilling such a lot of People's Wills,
You take the Chiltern Hundreds while you can—
A storm is coming on the Chiltern Hills.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Elements of Modal Logic, Part II

Part I

Let's do a little more carefully what we did in the previous post. We are taking inventories of universes of discourse and keeping track of these inventories with tables; these need to be compared, but also to be kept distinct. We need to keep track of what's going on in these comparisons of different tables, and the easiest way is also to put it in a table. We can call this the Reference Table. It's where we'll find our modal information. The Reference Table can describe different things, depending on what we are doing. The second most important things in modal logic is usually to know what your Reference Table is and how you are using it; a lot of mistakes in modal logic are caused by switching Reference Tables, or forgetting to track things consistently with it.

(Is the Reference Table just like the tables it is keeping track of? Depending on what you are doing, the Reference Table is sometimes set apart, but it can also be one of the tables we are keeping track of. For instance, you could be doing something with times, and want to make the Reference Table 'now' -- then the Reference Table is one of the tables of times. We could also set things up so that any table can be the Reference Table for other tables. There are lots of ways we can do it, and we will have to consider some of them eventually. But we need to start with the easiest case. In the example that follows, the Reference Table is just a different sort of thing from the tables it describes.)

The single most important thing in modal logic, however, is to know exactly what all your other tables are supposed to describe. Suppose you want to compare the Tolkien books on the top shelf of your bookcase; and, as it happens, you have three: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. We will therefore have one table for each of these. We can make a table for each of these, and put down some of the things we know about the characters in those books.

Characters mentioned in the Tolkien books on the top shelf of my bookcase
TABLE 1: The Hobbit TABLE 2: The Lord of the Rings TABLE 3: The Silmarillion
Bilbo BagginsBilbo BagginsGaladriel
Frodo BagginsFrodo Baggins

Now, if this is all we know about the characters, we still can put some information on our Reference Table. We could have a lot of different rules, depending on exactly what we want to track. Let's make these our rules:

(1) If we would find something on any table there might be, we can list it in our Reference Table as Box (□).

(2) If there's something definitely on some table somewhere, we can list it as Diamond (◇).

(Note that rule 1 is tentative in a way rule 2 is not, since it doesn't actually tell us that there are any other tables besides the Reference Table, while rule 2 always gives us a table; the reason for this difference is complicated, and somewhat arbitrary, but it's the way many systems are set up, so we'll go with it for now.) The Box tells us that, for the things we are talking about, something is found always or everywhere or necessarily or without exception or invariably, no matter what table we might be looking at; the Diamond tells us that something is on some table. How we translate Box or Diamond -- what it represents in practice -- depends on what we're talking about and what comparison we are making. In the above example, Box tells us about every Tolkien book on the top shelf and Diamond tells us about some Tolkien book or other among those on the top shelf.

REFERENCE TABLE: Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf
□(Elrond is a character)
□(Gandalf is a character)
◇(Bilbo Baggins is a character)
◇(Frodo Baggins is a character)
◇(Galdriel is a character)

This is not an exhaustive list of statements we could make, since there are lots of others, like ◇(Elrond and Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins and Galadriel and Frodo Baggins are characters), which is a description of Table 2, but this will do for our purposes, since we're keeping things simple for now. (Note, too, why our Reference Table is separate from the other tables: the Reference Table talks about specific Tolkien books on the top shelf. But there is no Tolkien book on the top shelf that is called 'Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf'.)

So now we've taken our original tables, where there are no modal statements, and created a table of modal statements out of them. But in many cases of modal reasoning, we aren't just summing up our information with modal statements; we are working backwards from modal statements to try to see what they tell us about the things they describe.

So let's forget our first three tables for a moment, and suppose that someone else did all the work to get the Reference Table, and we are trying to reconstruct the information in the other tables just from what the Reference Table tells us, without knowing anything about what the books are. Because our Reference Table does not describe the other tables in exact terms, we will not be able to reconstruct them exactly. Let's see how close we can get, though.

REFERENCE TABLE: Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf
□(Elrond is a character)
□(Gandalf is a character)
◇(Bilbo Baggins is a character)
◇(Frodo Baggins is a character)
◇(Galdriel is a character)

We'll do the Diamond statements first, because each one tells us something about some table somewhere. But, they don't tell us which tables. The statements might be true for the same table, but they might not be. And since we have three Diamond statements, we get three tables, which might be different or might not, and which might be all of the original tables or only some of them:

some table or other (1)
Bilbo Baggins is a character

some table or other (2)
Frodo Baggins is a character

some table or other (3)
Galadriel is a character

But our Box statements still need to be added! By rule 1, they tell us that any tables the Diamond statements give us have the other statements, too. So now our tables look like:

some table or other (1)
Bilbo Baggins is a character
Elrond is a character
Gandalf is a character

some table or other (2)
Frodo Baggins is a character
Elrond is a character
Gandalf is a character

some table or other (3)
Galadriel is a character
Elrond is a character
Gandalf is a character

And remember, just from what our Reference Table tells us, we don't know if these are all the same table, or if two of them are the same, or if none of them are the same; likewise, we don't know whether these are all the tables or just some of them. The information in our Reference Table was very incomplete and not very precise. But it still gave us enough information to reconstruct something about the Tolkien books on the top shelf.

Most reasoning in modal logic is like this last example: we have a Reference Table and are trying to see what its implications are. You can think of it like a puzzle, in which the Reference Table is a list of clues that someone else gave you, and you are trying to see what those clues tell you.

To move forward, we need to look at how some slightly more complicated cases work. What you'll find, though, is that we've pretty much covered all the essentials of basic modal reasoning -- it all works exactly like this, and more complicated cases are only more complicated because they give us more information to use.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Elements of Modal Logic, Part I

This is a reworking of an experiment I began but never quite finished a while back, on a different approach to modal logic. What is the simplest way to teach it that allows the greatest kind of flexibility for intelligent use of it? The idea is that instead of trying to jump into standard modal logic systems, one should actually get some sense of how one builds modal logic from scratch, without necessarily going into all the technicalities that are there are only to get a system of a particular shape for reasons of purely logical convenience. I actually think this is a problem with a lot of 'introductory' logic courses; they are usually actually courses in using technical formulae to solve narrow ranges of problems. This is an excellent thing to have. But it's not really introducing you to anything except very particular technical formulae.

Whenever we are reasoning, some things are relevant and some are not. The universe of discourse, in the sense we will use it here, is the category that includes all the things that are relevant and leaves out all the things that are not relevant. Everything in the reasoning presupposes it. For instance, if I say, "Dragons breathe fire," it matters considerably whether we are talking about characters in a story or real-life monitor lizards -- if I switch from one to the other, it is like we are in a completely different universe of topics. A universe of discourse can be any kind of thing that you can talk about -- a time, a place, a shelf, a ball, an animal, anything whatsoever.

Sometimes we want to take an inventory of things that are in a universe of discourse. For instance, your universe of discourse might be 'Things that are scheduled at 2 o'clock'; and it might be important to know what some of these things are. Imagine we had a table corresponding to this universe of discourse; on this table we could keep track of our inventory of the universe of discourse:

Tom's party
Gabriel's job interview
The End of the World

But in real-life discussion, things can get more complicated than this. So, for instance, we might have a very simple table, for claims about Greek philosophers, on which we've written:

Socrates is strange.
Plato is not strange, but elegant.
Aristotle is not strange, but bossy.

We could then put these together in ways logically implied by these premises, and say that these things are 'true for the Table 1 inventory' or just 'true at Table 1'.

But we aren't always considering only one category; sometimes it is necessary to compare things across categories while keeping clear about the fact that they are in different categories. For instance, Table 1 might correspond to Greek philosophers at a certain time, but we might then also be interested in the same Greek philosophers but at different times. So we could have different tables. If Table 1 is for Greek philosophers on Tuesday, perhaps another thing we are interested in is the same group on Wednesday, so we can make another table corresponding to that, e.g.:

Socrates is strange.
Plato is strange.
Aristotle is not strange, but bossy.

Strictly speaking, each table works on its own. For instance, on Table 1, we can reasonably conclude that neither Plato nor Aristotle are strange; but on Table 2, this is false. This is not a contradiction, since in drawing each of these conclusions we only stay on the relevant table, and don't leap from one to the other.

But we may also be interested in how the universes of discourse compare to each other. And we certainly can say something about that. For instance, we can say, if these are our only two tables, "'Socrates is strange' is constant for all our inventories." We can also say, "We can find an inventory with the claim that Plato is strange." In our example, the tables in question are interpreted as days, but they could be anything else. We could have tables that represent cities, possible worlds, stories, or whatever we please, because the tables just list things in universes of discourse, and anything we can talk about can be a universe of discourse.

At its most crude and basic, this is all that modal logic is. "On any table, we would find that Socrates is strange" is a Box proposition; we could also say it has a strong modality. "We can find a table on which Plato is strange" is a Diamond proposition, which is a weak modality.

Even this on its own is, logically speaking, very important. But we can do so much more! For instance, we've been assuming that it's easy to know what you have to do to find the right information. But you might still be learning what's in the inventories for each universe of discourse! It could be that there are restrictions on what we can know. There might be tables that we can find if we start at one table but not if we start at another. Likewise, one table might be able to teach you about other tables. There are lots of possibilities, because there are endlessly many universes of discourse; and what we need to do is to start thinking about how to handle all of these possibilities.

Part II

The Sunbeams of Thy Face

Psalm 57
by Lady Mary Sidney

Thy mercy, Lord, Lord, now thy mercy show:
On thee I lie;
To thee I fly.
Hide me, hive me, as thine own,
Till these blasts be overblown,
Which now do fiercely blow.

To highest God I will erect my cry,
Who quickly shall
Dispatch this all.
He shall down from heaven send
From disgrace me to defend
His love and verity.

My soul encaged lies with lions’ brood,
Villains whose hands
Are fiery brands,
Teeth more sharp than shaft or spear,
Tongues far better edge do bear
Than swords to shed my blood.

As high as highest heav’n can give thee place,
O Lord, ascend,
And thence extend
With most bright, most glorious show
Over all the earth below,
The sunbeams of thy face.

Me to entangle every way I go
Their trap and net
Is ready set.
Holes they dig but their own holes
Pitfalls make for their own souls:
So, Lord, oh, serve them so.

My heart prepared, prepared is my heart
To spread thy praise
With tuned lays:
Wake my tongue, my lute awake,
Thou my harp the consort make,
Myself will bear a part.

Myself when first the morning shall appear,
With voice and string
So will thee sing:
That this earthly globe, and all
Treading on this earthly ball,
My praising notes shall hear.

For god, my only God, thy gracious love
Is mounted far
Above each star,
Thy unchanged verity
Heav’nly wings do lift as high
As clouds have room to move.

As high as highest heav’n can give thee place,
O Lord, ascend
And thence extend
With most bright, most glorious show
Over all the earth below,
The sunbeams of thy face.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Smith on Sensibility and Self-Command

As taste and good judgment, when they are considered as qualities which deserve praise and admiration, are supposed to imply a delicacy of sentiment and an acuteness of understanding not commonly to be met with; so the virtues of sensibility and self-command are not apprehended to consist in the ordinary, but in the uncommon degrees of those qualities. The amiable virtue of humanity requires, surely, a sensibility, much beyond what is possessed by the rude vulgar of mankind. The great and exalted virtue of magnanimity undoubtedly demands much more than that degree of self-command, which the weakest of mortals is capable of exerting. As in the common degree of the intellectual qualities, there is no abilities; so in the common degree of the moral, there is no virtue. Virtue is excellence, something uncommonly great and beautiful, which rises far above what is vulgar and ordinary. The amiable virtues consist in that degree of sensibility which surprises by its exquisite and unexpected delicacy and tenderness. The awful and respectable, in that degree of self-command which astonishes by its amazing superiority over the most ungovernable passions of human nature.

[Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, I.1.45. It is interesting to find this juxtaposition outside of Sense and Sensibility, although it could just be a convergence or influence from the general ambience. But I'm not sure it is consistent with the general thrust of S&S to divide up virtues into sensibility-virtues and self-command-virtues like this.]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Evening Note for Monday, April 24

Thought for the Evening: Progymnasmata and Language-Learning

A comment by Cristina on the evening note about developing a treasury of ideas led me to think about the possibility of adapting classical rhetorical pedagogy to language-learning -- or, to be more exact, to learning of language fluency (since the basics would have been covered by grammar rather than rhetoric). It makes considerable sense, actually, if you think about it, since rhetoric is concerned with speaking and writing well.

Classical rhetoric is constituted by the five canons -- inventio or heuresis (discovery of appropriate things to say), dispositio or taxis (organizing what is said in a coherent way), elocutio or lexis (style in which it is said), memoria or mneme (vocabulary, patterns of discourse, and the like), pronuntiatio or hypokrisis (which includes pronunciation but is more broadly the whole acting-out of what is said, so would include things like gestures and tones, or punctuation in writing). These can operate more or less simultaneously in actual speaking and writing, so they can be considered the elements of speaking or writing well, and together constitute the goal of rhetorical pedagogy.

Actual classical rhetorical pedagogy usually broke up into two parts: progymnamsata and gymnasmata. Gymnasmata were full-scale rhetorical declamations on any topic, and thus practice for advanced students. Progymnasmata were more rudimentary exercises designed to focus on specific skills needed for the more advanced work, and thus slowly to get you to the point where declamation was a real possibility. They could vary, but there were twelve or thirteen that were traditionally standard. (There could be some overlap, but they were broadly speaking in sequential order.)

(1) Mythos: Students would be given a fable, usually from Aesop, and would have to adapt it -- both summarize it in simpler terms and expand upon it by adding descriptions. One can see the advantage of doing this in language-learning: the fable provides a sort of frame that the student can rely on while exercising their skills. They can use the same patterns of speech, the same phrases, and like, but have to modify it to new use.

(2) Diegema: This exercise would go a bit further by having the students tell a complete story, and would be varied by telling the whole story from the beginning, or starting from the middle, or starting from the end.

(3) Chreia: Students would start with an anecdote with a precise point -- a specific action or saying, or the like; a wide variety of different kinds of anecdotes would be used, and they would be varied in different ways (rephrased as praises or condemnations, given brief explanations, or compared to other anecdotes). While the story would be simpler, the skill would be more advanced, since it requires both concision and precision, as you would have to do strictly what was required to fulfill the various tasks.

(4) Gnome: This would work the same way, but with proverbs and maxims.

(5) Anaskeue: Students would be given a myth or legend and argue that it was absurd, or doubtful, or useless, etc.

(6) Kataskeue: Students would take the other side and argue in favor of the myth or legend, that it was reasonable, or probable, or practically valuable, or the like.

(7) Koinos topos: Students would talk about general virtues or vices, qualities, or characteristics, or talk about general types of people.

(8) Enkomion: Students would go beyond (7) by praising virtues, abstract qualities, specific people, places, or all sorts of other things in close and varied detail.

(9) Psogos: This would work the same way, but from the opposite side, criticizing things in detail.

(10) Ethopoeia: Students would construct a speech for a historical or mythological character, speaking from that person's point of view, and in a way appropriate to that person. This would start getting quite advanced, because you would need to consider things like how polished or concise or florid a person's style might be, and, of course, you would have to change it up with different characters.

(11) Ekphrasis: Ekphrasis is basically word-painting, in which one uses all the resources of language to describe something (often a work of art, like a literal painting, or a sculpture) to give people who had not seen it a vivid imaginative picture of it.

(12) Thesis: With thesis one would develop precise, specific arguments for this or that being the correct answer to a general question (like whether it was beneficial to marry, or whether the world is spherical. At this level the exercises are starting to take the same form as the later declamations, with introductions, descriptions, arguments for and against, and conclusions. The exercises would be varied not only by questions but by different kinds of argument -- whether things were legal, or just, or useful, or beneficial, or possible, and the like.

(13) Nomou eisphora: While (12) is at a general level, this exercise (which literally means 'proposal of law') would go further by dealing with specific questions (specific laws, specific policies). At this point, the student is taking the first steps in full-scale declamation.

Throughout every stage, there would be a lot of imitation and borrowing -- full creativity would be one of the things that would distinguish progymnasmata from gymnasmata -- as well as detailed analysis of examples to see how they worked so that the student could do the same. One sees this to some extent in ordinary language-learning -- think of all the endless dialogue-fragments one gets in standard language textbooks -- but, of course, language textbooks tend to focus on grammar; rhetorical proficiency is another level of language-learning on its own.

Various Links of Note

* Samizdat is a form of political resistance involving the self-publishing of works to get around state censors. One of the more notable samizdat publications is the very long-running periodical, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, also known as the LKB kronika, which ran from 1972-1989 and kept track of the oppression of the Catholic Church (as well as related oppressions) in the Lithuanian SSR. Copies would be handtyped and then smuggled around, and then out to where they could be read over Vatican Radio (thus giving it a much larger audience than most samizdat did). It makes interesting reading. Very grim, but also there are regular sparks of hope -- a poem smuggled around, a report of Catholics being confirmed despite Soviet inquiries, and the like. And, of course, it kept going and going and going. You can read a number of the issues translated into English online.

* Lydia Moland, Friedrich Schiller, at the SEP.

* Joe Gibes, How to Make Nazi Doctors

* James Hannam, Medieval Science in Medieval Fiction

* Andrew Loke, The resurrection of the Son of God: a reduction of the naturalistic alternatives

* An English translation of the Suan shu shu, which I believe is currently the oldest extant Chinese mathematical text, dating from about the second century BC.

Currently Reading

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Donald Ainslie, Hume's True Scepticism
Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Michael Flynn, Eifelheim

A Poem Translation Draft

by Arthur Rimbaud


You are not serious when you are seventeen;
- a fair night, thick with stein and lemonade,
bright cafes, chandeliers in sheen,
- you walk the green linden promenade.

The lindens smell fine on fine June nights,
the eyes close from breeze sweet and clear,
the wind is charged with noise -- not far the city lights --
perfumed with vine and perfumed with beer....


Here we see a somber blue on a little felt,
by a little branch set in frame,
quilted by malignant star that melts
with shivers soft, a small, fair flame.

June night! Seventeen! You drink deep;
youth's sap is a heady champagne....
You wander, on your lips still keep
a kiss; a quivering soul, it remains....


Through novels the crazy heart robinsonades
when in the streetlight's clarity pale
a girl walks by with her charms displayed,
though partly by her father's collar veiled....

And, as she finds you all innocent,
while tapping by in little heels,
she sudden-turns, full of life up-pent;
- on your lips die melodic peals....


You are in love, till August placed.
You are in love. - Your poems she takes in fun.
Your friends have left; you are in poor taste.
- Then one night she writes, your worshiped one!

- That night... - you return to the cafe-sheen,
asking for the beer-stein and the lemonade.
You are not serious when you are seventeen
and you still have green lindens on the promenade.

Rimbaud is a challenge, always. Here is the French; here is an English translation by Wyatt Mason.


In ancient days of yore, when blogging was relatively new, we did a lot of quizzes just to be doing things; but they are rare these days.


Of course, with any sort of centrist designation, it is always difficult to tell whether it indicates an actual position in the center or a position that is not easily measured on the scale. I had several Neutral/Not Sure answers, usually because I thought the question too vague. And the Equality/Wealth numbers are heavily affected by the strength of my opposition to communism as a political ideology. (I think it is in practice at least as bad as fascism. I also think it's an error, tempting as it may be, to treat capitalism as the opposite of communism, an opposition that requires treating communism as labor-ism. It's unsurprising that communists do tend to put themselves forward as the champions of Labor over Capital, but this characterization doesn't survive any serious analysis, I think. The opposite of modern communism is something for which we have no definite name, a society in which people are not reduced to their political-economic role, one based on ethical principles rather than economic plans and in which civic friendship and shared traditions matter more than means of production.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Passages on Self-Command in Sense and Sensibility

Chapter 8:

"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it! But the whole of their behaviour to each other has been unaccountable! How cold, how composed were their last adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes of an affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave them purposely together in the course of the last morning, and each time did he most unaccountably follow me out of the room. And Elinor, in quitting Norland and Edward, cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is invariable. When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied in it?"

Chapter 11:

Elinor could not be surprised at their attachment. She only wished that it were less openly shewn; and once or twice did venture to suggest the propriety of some self-command to Marianne. But Marianne abhorred all concealment where no real disgrace could attend unreserve; and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which were not in themselves illaudable, appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort, but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions. Willoughby thought the same; and their behaviour at all times, was an illustration of their opinions.

Chapter 19:

Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account.

Such behaviour as this, so exactly the reverse of her own, appeared no more meritorious to Marianne, than her own had seemed faulty to her. The business of self-command she settled very easily;—with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit. That her sister's affections WERE calm, she dared not deny, though she blushed to acknowledge it; and of the strength of her own, she gave a very striking proof, by still loving and respecting that sister, in spite of this mortifying conviction.

Chapter 22:
"It is strange," replied Elinor, in a most painful perplexity, "that I should never have heard him even mention your name."

"No; considering our situation, it was not strange. Our first care has been to keep the matter secret.— You knew nothing of me, or my family, and, therefore, there could be no OCCASION for ever mentioning my name to you; and, as he was always particularly afraid of his sister's suspecting any thing, THAT was reason enough for his not mentioning it."

She was silent.—Elinor's security sunk; but her self-command did not sink with it.

"Four years you have been engaged," said she with a firm voice.

Chapter 23:

The necessity of concealing from her mother and Marianne, what had been entrusted in confidence to herself, though it obliged her to unceasing exertion, was no aggravation of Elinor's distress. On the contrary it was a relief to her, to be spared the communication of what would give such affliction to them, and to be saved likewise from hearing that condemnation of Edward, which would probably flow from the excess of their partial affection for herself, and which was more than she felt equal to support.

From their counsel, or their conversation, she knew she could receive no assistance, their tenderness and sorrow must add to her distress, while her self-command would neither receive encouragement from their example nor from their praise. She was stronger alone, and her own good sense so well supported her, that her firmness was as unshaken, her appearance of cheerfulness as invariable, as with regrets so poignant and so fresh, it was possible for them to be.

Chapter 32:

Elinor only was sorry to see them. Their presence always gave her pain, and she hardly knew how to make a very gracious return to the overpowering delight of Lucy in finding her STILL in town.

"I should have been quite disappointed if I had not found you here STILL," said she repeatedly, with a strong emphasis on the word. "But I always thought I SHOULD. I was almost sure you would not leave London yet awhile; though you TOLD me, you know, at Barton, that you should not stay above a MONTH. But I thought, at the time, that you would most likely change your mind when it came to the point. It would have been such a great pity to have went away before your brother and sister came. And now to be sure you will be in no hurry to be gone. I am amazingly glad you did not keep to YOUR WORD."

Elinor perfectly understood her, and was forced to use all her self-command to make it appear that she did NOT.

Chapter 37:

She was very far from wishing to dwell on her own feelings, or to represent herself as suffering much, any otherwise than as the self-command she had practised since her first knowledge of Edward's engagement, might suggest a hint of what was practicable to Marianne. Her narration was clear and simple; and though it could not be given without emotion, it was not accompanied by violent agitation, nor impetuous grief.—THAT belonged rather to the hearer, for Marianne listened with horror, and cried excessively. Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs; and all the comfort that could be given by assurances of her own composure of mind, and a very earnest vindication of Edward from every charge but of imprudence, was readily offered.

Chapter 37:
"Yes. But I did not love only him;—and while the comfort of others was dear to me, I was glad to spare them from knowing how much I felt. Now, I can think and speak of it with little emotion. I would not have you suffer on my account; for I assure you I no longer suffer materially myself. I have many things to support me. I am not conscious of having provoked the disappointment by any imprudence of my own, I have borne it as much as possible without spreading it farther. I acquit Edward of essential misconduct. I wish him very happy; and I am so sure of his always doing his duty, that though now he may harbour some regret, in the end he must become so. Lucy does not want sense, and that is the foundation on which every thing good may be built.—And after all, Marianne, after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant—it is not fit—it is not possible that it should be so.— Edward will marry Lucy; he will marry a woman superior in person and understanding to half her sex; and time and habit will teach him to forget that he ever thought another superior to HER."—

"If such is your way of thinking," said Marianne, "if the loss of what is most valued is so easily to be made up by something else, your resolution, your self-command, are, perhaps, a little less to be wondered at.—They are brought more within my comprehension."

"I understand you.—You do not suppose that I have ever felt much.—For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature; knowing that it would make you and my mother most unhappy whenever it were explained to you, yet unable to prepare you for it in the least.— It was told me,—it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects; and told me, as I thought, with triumph.— This person's suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose, by endeavouring to appear indifferent where I have been most deeply interested;—and it has not been only once;—I have had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again.— I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever, without hearing one circumstance that could make me less desire the connection.—Nothing has proved him unworthy; nor has anything declared him indifferent to me.— I have had to contend against the unkindness of his sister, and the insolence of his mother; and have suffered the punishment of an attachment, without enjoying its advantages.— And all this has been going on at a time, when, as you know too well, it has not been my only unhappiness.— If you can think me capable of ever feeling—surely you may suppose that I have suffered NOW. The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion;—they did not spring up of themselves;—they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first.— No, Marianne.—THEN, if I had not been bound to silence, perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely—not even what I owed to my dearest friends—from openly shewing that I was VERY unhappy."—

'Self-command' is used once in Persuasion, once in Pride and Prejudice, three times in Mansfield Park, five times in Emma, and not at all in Northanger Abbey. It is notable that of the eight times it occurs in S&S it is only attributed to Elinor, and it is put center stage in Chapter 37, where it is used twice, and discussed specifically between the characters, rather than simply being a passing comment.

Flowers Laugh Before Thee on Their Beds

Ode to Duty
by William Wordsworth

Jam non consilio bonus, sed more eo perductus, ut non tantum recte facere possim, sed nisi recte facere non possim"

"I am no longer good through deliberate intent, but by long habit have reached a point where I am not only able to do right, but am unable to do anything but what is right."
(Seneca, Letters 120.10)

Stern Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work, and know it not:
Oh! if through confidence misplaced
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them cast.

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried;
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust:
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance-desires:
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong.

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee: I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
Oh, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two Maps

From The Hunting of the Snark:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!

“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:”
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!”
From Sylvie and Bruno Concluded: