Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reflections on Equality

The following excerpt, from The Worm Forgives the Plough (1973) by John Stewart Collis (1900-1984), appeared in the latest bulletin of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir to which I belong, and I think it's relevant for monarchists as well.

"I took a short cut and made for the Big House and entered the Old Garden. It was not open to the public, but it was open to the private, so to speak. No one seemed to be in residence at the moment. The door through the wall in the garden was not locked and I went in. I sat down on a seat backed by the high wall and fronted by a pool of lawn cliffed by ancient trees..."

"...I fell into contemplation of the Old Garden. Aloof in the melancholy shade of history, it gave out peace and cast the ancient spell. How did it come into existence? By some men being rich and others poor, by inequality, by privilege. Entering the era of equality, shall we then throw them open to the public? The moment we do so they will become--something else. They will, no longer be gardens: they will be parks. Instantly their essence will evaporate and they will no longer be what they were. We must face the logic: the moment privilege becomes public it ceases to be privilege, for you cannot have a privileged many--they would not then be privileged. So our question is--Shall we have a privileged few? Well, the many do not like this kind of place anyway; secluded reverie is alien to them, quiet reflection wholly unsought--they prefer the definite peopled park. But they also enjoy on occasion the parade of circumstance and the pomp of power. And I said--Let us not throw everything away in the name of Equality. Let there be privilege! Let there be pride! Let there be palaces though they be built out of the pennies of the poor! The time is coming when the flood-tide of the multitudinous Many shall flow through all the gates and into all the courts of pleasure; but even then, let there be here and there a too favoured Few, so that scattered throughout the land there may yet remain, enwalled from the world's babel, the sequestered place, the pool of silence, the repository of peace, into which the wanderer may come and bathe in the spirit of the past and hold converse with the mighty dead!"

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