February 24, 1934
More Galsworthy: "Well," said Hilary, "the position there is ironical for us parsons. It used to be considered unpatriotic to believe in limiting our population. But now that flying and poison gas have made food for powder unnecessary, and unemployment is rampant, I'm afraid there's no question but that it's unpatriotic not to believe in limiting our population. As for our Christian principles; being patriots, we didn't apply the Christian principle 'Thou shalt not kill' during the war; so, being patriots, we can't logically apply the Christian principle 'Thou shalt not limit' now. Birth control is essential for the slums anyway."
"And you don't believe in hell."
"I do, they've got it."
"You support games on Sunday, don't you?" Hilary nodded. "And sun bathing with nothing on?"
"I might, if there were any sun."
"And pyjamas and smoking for women."
"Not stinkers: emphatically not stinkers."
"I call that undemocratic."
"I can't help it, Dinny. Sniff". And he puffed some smoke at her.
"I sometimes think, Dinny, that the Law is overrated. It's really a rough and ready system, with about as much accuracy in adjusting penalty to performance as there is to a doctor's diagnosis of a patient he sees for the first time; and yet for some mysterious reason we give it the sanctity of the Holy Grail and treat its dicta as if they were the broadcastings of God."
"Here's a sentance from a book I'm reading: 'We belong, of course, to a generation that's seen through things, seen how futile everything is, and had the courage to accept futility, and say to ourselves: There's nothing for it but to enjoy ourselves as best we can.' Well, I suppose that's my generation, the one that's seen the war and its aftermath; and, of course, it is the attitude of quite a crowd; but when you come to think of it, it might have been said by any rather unthinking person in any generation; certainly might have been said by the last generation after religion had got the knock that Darwin gave it. For what does it come to? Suppose you admit having seen through religion and marriage and treaties, and commercial honesty and freedom and ideals of every kind, seen that there's nothing absolute about them, that they lead of themselves to no definite reward, either in this world or a next which doesn't exist perhaps, and that the only thing absolute is pleasure and that you mean to have it - are you any farther towards getting pleasure? No! you're a long way farther off. If everybody's creed is consciously and crudely 'grab a good time at all costs', everybody is going to grab it at the expense of everybody else, and the devil will take the hindmost, and that'll be nearly everybody, especially the sort of slackers who naturally hold that creed, so that they, most certainly, aren't going to get a good time. All those things they've so cleverly seen through are only rules of the road devised by men throughout the ages to keep people within bounds, so that we may all have a reasonable chance of getting a good time, instead of the good time going only to the violent, callous, dangerous and able few. All our institutions, religion, marriage, treaties, and law, and the rest, are simply forms of consideration for others necessary to secure consideration for self. Without them we should be a society of feeble motor bandits and street walkers in slavery to a few super crooks. You can't, therefore, disbelieve in consideration for others without making an idiot of yourself and spoiling your own chances of a good time. The funny thing is that no matter how we all talk, we recognise that perfectly. People who prat like the fellow in that book don't act up to their creed when it comes to the point. Even a motor bandit doesn't turn King's evidence. In fact, this new philosophy of 'having the courage to accept futility and grab a good time' is simply a shallow bit of thinking; all the same it seemed quite plausible when I read it."
"I was wondering, Uncle, as I came along. What was the use of you and Hubert and Dad and Uncle Adrian, and tons of others doing their jobs faithfully - apart from bread and butter, I mean?"
"Ask your Aunt?" said Hilary.
"Aunt May, what is the use?'
"I don't know, Dinny. I was bred up to believe there was a use in it, so I go on believing. If you married and had a family, you probably wouldn't ask the question."
"I knew Aunt May would get out of answering. Now Uncle?'
"Well, Dinny, I don't know either. As she says, we do what we're used to doing; that's about it."
"In his diary Hubert says that consideration for others is really consideration for ourselves. Is that true?"
"Rather a crude way of putting it. I should prefer to say that we're all so interdependent that in order to look after oneself one's got to look after others no less."
"But is one worth looking after?"
"You mean is life worth while at all?"
"After five hundred thousand years (Adrian says a million at least) of human life, the population of the world is very considerable larger than it has ever been yet. Well, then! Considering all the miseries and struggles of mankind, would human life, self-conscious as it is, have persisted if it wasn't worth while to be alive?"
"I suppose not," mused Dinny; "I think in London one loses the sense of proportion."
At this moment a maid came in.
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Page Mrs. Galer's Immortality of Influence. Galsworthy is gone; but he has left his mark on a speck in the middle-west. I know him only through his books. Why do untold numbers feed on the trash of cigar store libraries when our funny old public library is full of gems?
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