26 October 2006

from The Four Loves, chapter IV, Friendship (C.S. Lewis)

Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.

19 October 2006

from The Roman Revolution, chapter VII, The Consul Antonius (Ronald Syme)

Born in 82 B.C., Antonius was now in the prime of life, richly endowed with strength of body and grace of manner, courageous, alert and resourceful, but concealing behind an attractive and imposing façade certain defects of character and judgement that time and the licence of power were to show up in deadly abundance. The frank and chivalrous soldier was no match in statecraft for the astute politicians who undermined his predominance, stole his partisans, and contrived against him the last coup d’état of all, the national front and the uniting of Italy.

The memory of Antonius has suffered damage multiple and irreparable. The policy which he adopted in the East and his association with the Queen of Egypt were vulnerable to the moral and patriotic propaganda of his rival. Most of that will be coolly discounted. From the influence of Cicero it is less easy to escape. The Philippics, the series of speeches in which he assailed an absent enemy, are an eternal monument of eloquence, of rancour, of misrepresentation. Many of the charges levelled against the character of Antonius – such as unnatural vice or flagrant cowardice – are trivial, ridiculous or conventional. That the private life of the Caesarian soldier was careless, disorderly, and even disgraceful, is evident and admitted. He belonged to a class of Roman nobles by no means uncommon under Republic or Empire, whose unofficial follies did not prevent them from rising, when duty called, to services of conspicuous ability or the most disinterested patriotism. For such men, the most austere of historians cannot altogether suppress a timid and perhaps perverse admiration. A blameless life is not the whole of virtue, and inflexible rectitude may prove a menace to the Commonwealth.

05 October 2006

from The Etiquette of Party Giving: Bachelor Parties (Mrs. Heaton Armstrong)

A marked feature of modern society is the number of entertainments given by bachelors. In the former days men used to go everywhere without a thought of returning hospitality; but of late years the conscience of the bachelor appears to have grown morbidly sensitive on this point, and he is always trying to get up something in the way of entertainment. Tea in the Temple after the Chrysanthemum Show is a very ancient institution, and a tea-party in a man's rooms has always been a necessary incident in going round the colleges; but these entertainments have been of a thoroughly informal character, and it is only of late years that the bachelor has grown bold enough to send out invitation cards notifying the fact that he is at home, and intends to swell the list of party-givers. A bachelor must be well known before he can give parties, and an unpopular man should not make such an attempt.

But if the host is popular he is likely to find great support; he becomes exceedingly interesting to all his lady acquaintances, who are always delighted to give him advice as to the arrangements. When they arrive, they come determined to be pleased, and they make up their minds to overlook all deficiencies. Bachelors' parties always go off well, and it is possible that all entertainments would be equally successful if the guests always came in such a kindly spirit. Ladies always wear their prettiest dresses out of compliment to a bachelor host, and they are careful to assume their best tempers with their most becoming bonnets.

[...] Flowers should be a great feature in a bachelor entertainment, as their presence is a delicate compliment to the lady guests. Bouquets are generally presented to the lady vocalists by the host, and if he cannot ascertain the colour of their costumes beforehand, he should be careful to get colours which will not clash with any dresses. A bouquet which upsets the costume is a dreadful present, and the feelings of a lady are decidedly mixed when she receives a present of a bouquet of crimson roses when she is wearing a nasturtium-coloured gown. The host cannot be too attentive to his guests. He should effect plenty of introductions, and if there are any ladies unattended by gentlemen, he should escort them to their carriages, supposing it to be an evening party.

[...] A party is rather an anxiety to a bachelor, and it is a great relief to him when it goes off well.