Monday, November 28, 2011

Quote of The Day

I am currently making my way through Hume's History of England - a pure joy - and ran across a quote to share. In his discussion of the 1640 Long Parliament and the execution of Lord Strafford, he has this to say about the Puritan leaders Pym, Hambden and Vane:

Some persons, partial to the patriots of this age, have ventured to put them in a balance with the most illustrious characters of antiquity; and mentioned the names of Pym, Hambden, Vane, as a just parallel to those of Cato, Brutus, Cassius. Profound capacity, indeed, undaunted courage, extensive enterprize; in these particulars, perhaps the Roman do not much surpass the English worthies: But what a difference, when the discourse, conduct, conversation, and private as well as public behaviour, of both are inspected! Compare only one circumstance, and consider its consequences. The leisure of those noble ancients was totally employed in the study of Grecian eloquence and philosophy; in the cultivation of polite letters and civilized society: The whole discourse and language of the moderns were polluted with mysterious jargon, and full of the lowest and most vulgar hypocrisy.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

I wonder if Hume -- or anyone else -- ever considered the lustrous patina afforded to common parlance by some sixteen centuries of veneration? A Shakespearean slop bucket -- though now a 'valuable antique' by virtue of survival -- remains a slop bucket.