Friday, 27 March 2009

At the Disposition of Fortune

“It seems to me, upon the whole matter, that to save or redeem a nation . . . from perdition, nothing less is necessary than some great, some extraordinary conjuncture of ill fortune, or of good, which may purge, yet so as by fire. Distress from abroad, bankruptcy at home, and other circumstances of like nature and tendency, may beget universal confusion. Out of confusion order may rise: but it may be the order of a wicked tyranny, instead of the order of a just monarchy. Either may happen: and such an alternative, at the disposition of fortune, is sufficient to make a Stoick tremble! We may be saved, indeed, by means of a different kind; but these means will not offer themselves, this way of salvation will not be opened to us, without the concurrence, and the influence, of a Patriot King, the most uncommon of all phaenomena in the physical and moral world.” [1]

One may suspect that “the most uncommon of all phaenomena” has not taken the curious form of a one-eyed Calvinist with a grin as stiff and crooked as his soul.

[1] Lord Bolingbroke, The Idea of a Patriot King (1738), in The Works of the Late Right Honourable Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, Vol. IV. (London: J. Johnson, 1809), pp.230-1.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

Ah hae ma doots that he's a Calvinist. I increasingly suspect that he's like Richard Nixon - narrow and thrawn but of some ability, and slowly going bonkers.