George Walford: Notes & Quotes (59)

NEW babies don’t laugh, make war, walk erect, use tools, or make love at all seasons. Does any definition of humanity include them?

ABBOT John Chapman: ‘I wish I could join the ‘Solitaries,’ instead of being Superior and having to write books. But I don’t wish what I wish, of course.’

CHILDREN under 17 commit 20% of British crime. There seems to be something wrong with our handling of children or with our definition of crime.

INSTANCING Eliot, Pound, Yeats, Matisse and Stravinsky. Roger Scruton argues that aesthetic modernists have often been anti-modernist when it comes to social and political beliefs. With the Enlightenment enterprise now entering its third century, can opposition to it still be reckoned anti-modernist?

AN ENGLISH Radical of the 1790s had Paine’s Rights of Man and Burke’s Reflections (written in reply to it), bound in the same covers, saying that together they made a very good book.

DRUG revenues laundered through international banking are estimated at an annual one trillion US dollars. Legitimize drugs, impose a modest tax, and Britain’s share will go a long way to solve the NHS’s problems.

CAN the distinguishing feature of science fairly be defined as Precision? Well, consider this: Quantum electrodynamics predicts the magnetic strength of the electron as 1.00115965246; the measured value is 1.00115965221.

LONDON Tube authority, determined to improve services, has already taken the first step: making sure there is plenty of room for improvement.

DEADLY drug: How many deaths did British coroners ascribe to cocaine in 1992? One. (Sunday Times 10 January).

TATIANA Tolstaya remarks that it is no longer possible to skate on the Dutch canals. We no longer have Frost Fairs on the Thames at London, either. Does this say anything about the dangers of the degree of global warming predicted for the next century?

THEY’RE changing wives at Buckingham Palace. (Katharine Whitehorn)

PREACHING before Queen Victoria, a Scots minister found himself praying that ‘as the Queen became an auld woman she might put on the new man, and in all righteous causes stand before her people like a he-goat upon the mountains.’ (Stanley Weintraub).

BENEDICT Anderson defines a nation as ‘an imagined political community.’

LOUIS Menand reports that in the USA the distance between top and bottom of the income scale has greatly increased. This gives each rich person a wider range of lower incomes to descend to; is it what anarchists mean when they speak of widening choice?

POWER corrupts. Absolute power is even more fun. (Graffito)

SEXISM: A letter in Freedom says anarchists ‘should try to find out why women don’t come to our meetings.’ Why that ‘women,’ when practically all people don’t attend?

HUMAN beings naturally incline towards artificiality.

ADAM Smith, famous for his arguments against government control of trade, spent his last thirteen years as HM Commissioner of Customs for Scotland.

HELL is a despotism. So is heaven.

A SPANIARD always follows his priest – either on his knees, or with a club. (‘Classic’ remark, quoted by Al Richardson, Ethical Record, December).

ABOUT the last thing the reformers anticipated from Reagan’s presidency was progress towards ending the Cold War. President Clinton, whom some of them regard less unfavourably, will doubtless spring some surprises too.

LOVE may make the world go round, but it is apathy that stops it going off at every tangent. (Eric Stockton).

THE SUCCESS of any endeavour is in general inversely proportional to the number of people whose persuasion is necessary to its fulfilment. (H. Browne).

OCTAVE Mirbeau, anarchist, held (pre-1914) that the motor-car, making it easier to cross frontiers, would help the cause. (Sharif Gemie).

FIELD Marshall Montgomery: ‘As God once said – and I think rightly… ‘

SCOTTISH government ministers demanded the Poll Tax, believing it would be more popular than rates.

‘THE October Revolution was thus a calamitous accident.’ (L. Kolakowski).

BY the mid-1990s the conservatives will have been in power for 66 years of this century, mostly alone.

HEROIN and cocaine pastilles appeared in the Army & Navy Stores catalogue pre-1914.

FINDING the new recruit uncertain of his religion, the sergeant asked what he did on Sundays. ‘Well, I usually go rat catching.’ ‘Right, that makes you R.C.’

‘WOMEN’s studies is a jumble of vulgarians, bunglers, whiners, French faddists, apparatchiks, dough-faced partyliners, pie-in-the-sky utopians and bullying sanctimonious sermonizers.’ (Camille Paglia).

‘IT was ideological conviction… that propelled the October coup’ (M. Malia).

from Ideological Commentary 59, February 1993.