BENEDICT M. ASHLEY, O.P.: THE ARTS OF LEARNING AND COMMUNICATION
Examples and Analyses
The Matter of Works of Fine Arts
WHY WE NEED FINE ARTS
The following are the five examples of the kinds of discourse to which reference is made throughout the text of Part One. Examples I and II are poetic, the first in prose and the second in verse. Example III is rhetorical. Example IV is dialectical, although it makes use of many rhetorical devises, because its principal purpose seems not to be merely to persuade us, but to help us arrive at a correct definition of a commonly confused idea. Example V is scientific in mode. These particular examples have been chosen because they are very brief, and because they aim at essentially the same conclusion, namely, that patriotism is honorable.
THE LAST LESSON
A Little Alsatian's Story
(Note: This is a translation by Blanche Colton Williams of a story by a French author.* [*From A Book of Short Stories, by Blanche Colton Williams, copyright 1918, by D. Appleton and Co. Reprinted by permission of Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.] It refers to the occupation of the formerly French province of Alsace-Lorraine by the Prussians at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.)
That morning I was very late in going to school, and was much afraid of being scolded; all the more so, as M. Hamel had told us he would question us upon the participles, and I did not know the first word. For a moment I thought of playing truant and setting off across the country.
The weather was so warm and clear.
One heard the blackbirds whistling at the edge of the wood, and in the Rippert meadow, behind the sawmill, the Prussians who were drilling. All that tempted me much more than the rule of participles; but I had the strength to resist and I ran fast to school.
In passing by the mayor's office, I saw that a group of people had stopped at the little bulletin board. For two years all the bad news had come to us from there, lost battles, requisitions, orders from headquarters; and without pausing I said: "What is it this time?"
Then, as I crossed the square on the run, the blacksmith Wachter, who was there with his apprentice engaged in reading the notice, cried out to me:
"Do not hurry so, youngster; you w ill arrive soon enough at your school!"
I thought he was making fun of me, and out of breath I went into M. Hamel's little yard.
Usually at the beginning of a class, there was a great uproar which could be heard in the street-desks opening and closing, lessons being repeated all together at the top of the voice, the pupils stopping their ears with their fingers the better to learn them, and the big rule of the master tapping upon the table.
"A little silence!"
I counted on all this din to reach my seat without notice, but as luck would have it, on this day everything was quiet, as on Sunday morning. Through the open window I saw my schoolmates already in their places, and M. Hamel pacing back and forth with the terrible iron-tipped rule under his arm. I had to open the door and enter in the midst of the great stillness. Well you may think I blushed and was afraid.
But nothing happened. A Hamel looked at me without anger and said to me very gently:
"Go quickly to your place, my little Franz; we were going to begin without you."
I stepped over the bench and sat down at once at my desk. Then only, a little recovered from my fright, I noticed that our master had on his beautiful green frock coat, his carefully plaited shirt-frill, and the skull-cap of embroidered black silk which he wore only on the days of inspection and distribution of prizes. Besides, there was something unusual and solemn about the whole class. But what surprised me most was to see at the end of the room, on the benches that were usually vacant, the men of the village seated and silent like us; old Hauser with his three-cornered hat, the ex-mayor, the former postman, and others. They all seemed sad; and Hauser had brought an old dog-eared spelling book, which he held wide open on his knees, with his big spectacles placed across the pages.
While I was marvelling at all this, M. Hamel had gone up into his chair, and in the same gentle and serious voice with which he had greeted me, he said to us:
"My children, it is the last time I take the class. The order has come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine.... The new teacher comes tomorrow. Today's is your last French lesson. I beg you to be very attentive."
These few words overwhelmed me, Ah, the villains, that was what they had posted at the "mairie!"
My last lesson in French!
And I who hardly knew how to write.... I should never learn. I should have to stop there! How I blamed myself for the time lost, for cutting classes, to hunt bird's eggs or to practice sliding on the Saar. Mv books, which only a moment ago I found so tiresome, so heavy to carry, my Grammar, my Scripture History, seemed to me old friends from whom I should find it hard to part. It was the same with M. Hamel. The idea that lie was going to leave, that I should never see him again, made me forget punishments, blows from the ruler.
It was in honor of this last lesson that he had put on his handsome Sunday clothes; and now I understood why the old men of the village had come to sit at the end of the room. It was as if to say they were sorry they had not come more often to this school of theirs. It was also a way of thanking our master for his forty years of good service, and of paying their respects to the departing fatherland.
Such was the course of my thoughts, when I heard my name called. It was my turn to recite. What would I not have given to be able to say front the beginning to end the famous rule of the participles, in a loud, clear voice, without a mistake! But I got tangled up in the first words, and I stood swaying against my bench, with a bursting heart, not daring to raise my head. I heard M. Hamel speaking to me:
"I shall not scold you, my little Franz; you should be punished enough. That's the way of it. Every day one says to oneself, 'Bah! I have time enough. I will learn tomorrow.' And then you see what happens. . . . All, it has been the great misfortune of our Alsace always to put off learning until tomorrow. Now these people have the right to say to us: 'What! you pretend to be French, and you do not know how to speak or write your own language?' In all that, my poor Franz, it is not you who are most guilty. We have all a good share of reproaches for ourselves.
"Your parents have not sufficiently cared to see you instructed. They liked better to send you to till the fields or to work at the spinning mills, for the sake of a few extra sous. As for myself, have I nothing with which to reproach myself? Have I not often made you water my garden instead of working? And when I wished to go fishing for trout, did I hesitate to give you a holiday . . . ?
Then, from one thing to another, M. Hamel began to talk to us about the French language, saying that it was the most beautiful language in the world, the clearest, the most solid, that it should be kept among us and never forgotten; because when a people falls into slavery, so long as it holds fast its language it holds the key of its prison. Then lie took a grammar and read us our lesson. I was astonished to see how well I understood. Everything he said seemed to me easy, easy. I believed also that I had never listened so well, and that as for him be had never put so much patience into his explanations.
One would have said that before going away the poor man wished to give us all his knowledge, to make it enter our heads at a single blow.
When the lesson was over, we went on to writing. For that day, M. Hamel had prepared for us entirely new examples, on which he had written in a beautiful round hand: "France," "Alsace," "France," "Alsace." They looked like little flags waving all around the class, bung to the rods of our desks. It was something to see how each one applied himself, and in what silence. There was nothing to be heard but the scratching of the pens on the paper. Once some beetles flew in, but nobody paid any attention, not even the very little ones, who were busy tracing their strokes with a courage and conscience, as if even the pot-hooks were in French. Upon the roof of the schoolhouse pigeons cooed low, and listening, I said to myself:
"Will they not make them sing in German, too?"
From time to time when I lifted my eyes from my page, I saw M. Hamel motionless in his chair, taking a long look at the objects around him, as if be wished to carry off in his mind's eye all the little schoolhouse. . . . Think! Forty years he had been there in the same place, with his yard in front of him and his class just the same. Only the seats and the desks had been polished, rubbed by use, the walnut trees in the yard had grown taller, and the hop-vine which he had himself planted wreathed about the windows and up to the roof. What a heart-break it must have been to the poor man to leave these things, and to hear his sister as she went and came in the room overhead, packing their trunks. For they were to go on the morrow, to leave the country forever.
All the same he had the courage to go on with the recitation to the end. After the writing, we had our history lesson; and then the little ones sang the BA, BE, BI, BO, BU. Away at the end of the room old Hauser had put on his spectacles, and holding his A, B, C book in both hands, he spelled out the letters with them. He, too, was visibly applying himself; his voice trembled with emotion, and it was so funny to hear him that we all wanted to laugh and to cry. Ah! I shall remember that last lesson!
Suddenly the church clock struck noon, then the Angelus. At the same moment the trumpets of the Prussians who were returning from drill blared under our windows.... M. Hamel rose, very pale, from his chair. Never had be appeared to me so tall.
"My friends," he said, "My friends, I . . . I
But something stifled him. He could not finish his sentence.
Then he turned to the blackboard, took a piece of chalk, and bearing on it with all his strength, he wrote as large as he could: "VIVE LA FRANCE!"
Then he came to a stop; his head pressed against the wall, and without speaking he signed to us with his hand:
"That is all.... Go."
THE CONCORD HYMN
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Emerson was asked to write this poem for the dedication of the Battle Monument erected at Concord, Massachusetts, in 1837, in honor of the minutemen who died there in the American Revolution.
- By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
- Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
- Here once the embattled farmers stood
- And fired the shot heard round the world.
- The foe long since in silence slept;
- Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
- And Time the ruined bridge has swept
- Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
- On this green bank, by this soft stream,
- We set today a votive stone,
- That memory may their deed redeem,
- When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
- Spirit, that made those heroes dare
- To die and leave their children free,
- Bid Time and Nature gently spare
- The shaft we raise to them and thee.
(November 19, 1863)
Four-score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation -- or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated -- can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
A DEFENCE OF PATRIOTISM *
[*From The Defendant, 1907 reprinted by the kind permission of Miss Dorothy E. Collins and of Messrs. A. P. Watt & Sons, Hastings House, London.]
G. K. CHESTERTON
G. K. Chesterton wrote this essay during the period of growing ultranationalism in Europe which eventually led to the First World War. He was especially concerned about the attitudes in England which had led to the South African or Boer War (1899-1902) and which identified patriotism with imperialism.
The decay of patriotism in England during the last year or two is a serious arid distressing matter. Only in consequence of such a decay could the current lust of territory be confounded with the ancient love of country. We may imagine that if there were no such thing as a pair of lovers left in the world, all the vocabulary of love might without rebuke be transferred to the lowest and most automatic desire. If no type of chivalrous and purifying passion remained, there would he no one left to say that lust bore none of the marks of love, that lust was rapacious and love pitiful, that lust was blind and love vigilant, that lust sated itself and love was insatiable. So it is with the "love of the city," that high and ancient intellectual passion which has been written in red blood on the same table with the primal passions of our being. On all sides we hear today of the love of our country, and yet anyone who has literally such a love must be bewildered at the talk, like a man hearing all men say that the moon shines by day and the sun by night. The conviction must come to him at last that these men do not realize what the word "love" means, that they mean by the love of country, not what a mystic might mean by the love of God, but something of what a child might mean by the love of jam. To one who loves his fatherland, for instance, our boasted indifference to the ethics of a national war is mere mysterious gibberism. It is like telling a man that a boy has committed murder, but that he need not mind because it is only his son. Here clearly the word "love" is used unmeaningly. It is the essence of love to be sensitive, it is a part of its doom; and anyone who objects to the one must certainly get rid of the other. This sensitiveness, rising sometimes to an almost morbid sensitiveness, was the mark of all great lovers like Dante and all great patriots like Chatham. "My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober." No doubt if a decent man's mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery.
What we really need for the frustration and overthrow of a deaf and raucous jingoism is a renascence of the love of the native land. When that comes, all the shrill cries will cease suddenly. For the first of all the marks of love is seriousness: love will not accept sham bulletins or the empty victory of words. It will always esteem the most candid counsellor the best. Love is drawn to truth by the unerring magnetism of agony; it gives no pleasure to the lover to see ten doctors dancing with vociferous optimism around a death-bed.
We have to ask, then, Why is it that this recent movement in England, which has honestly appeared to many a renascence of patriotism, seems to its to have none of the marks of patriotism -- at least of patriotism in its highest form? Why has the adoration of our patriots been given wholly to qualities and circumstances good in themselves, but comparatively material and trivial: -- trade, physical force, a skirmish at a remote frontier, a squabble in a remote continent? Colonies are things to be proud of, but for a country to be only proud of its extremities is like a man being only proud of his legs. Why is there not a high central intellectual patriotism, a patriotism of the head and heart of the Empire, and not merely of its fists and its boots? A rude Athenian sailor may very likely have thought that the glory of Athens lay in rowing with the right kind of oars, or having a good supply of garlic; but Pericles did not think that this was the glory of Athens. With us, on the other hand, there is no difference at all between the patriotism preached by Mr. Chamberlain, and that preached by Mr. Pat Rafferty who sings "What do you think of the Irish now?" They are both honest, simple-minded, vulgar eulogies upon trivialities and truisms.
I have, rightly or wrongly, a notion of the chief cause of this pettiness in English patriotism of today, and I will attempt to expound it. It may be taken generally that a man loves his own stock and environment, and that he will find something to praise in it; but whether it is the most praiseworthy thing or no will depend upon the man's enlightenment as to the facts. If the son of Thackeray, let us say, were brought up in ignorance of his father's fame and genius, it is not improbable that be would be proud of the fact that his father was over six feet high. It seems to me that we, as a nation, are precisely in the position of this hypothetical child of Thackeray's. We fall back upon gross and frivolous things for our patriotism, for a simple reason. We are the only people in the world who are not taught in childhood our own literature and our own history.
We are, as a nation, in the truly extraordinary condition of not knowing our own merits. We have played a great and splendid part in the history of universal thought and sentiment; we have been among the foremost in that eternal and bloodless battle in which the blows do not slay, but create. In painting and music we are inferior to many other nations; but in literature, science, philosophy, and political eloquence we can bold our own with any. But all this vast heritage of intellectual glory is kept from our schoolboys like a heresy; and they are left to live and die in the dull and infantile type of patriotism which they learnt from a box of tin soldiers. There is no harm in the box of tin soldiers; we do not expect children to be equally delighted with a beautiful box of tin philanthropists. But there is great harm in the fact that the subtler and more civilized honour of England is not presented so as to keep pace with the expanding mind. A French boy is taught the glory of Molière as well as that of Turenne; a German boy is taught his own great national philosophy before he learns the philosophy of antiquity. The result is that, though French patriotism is often crazy and boastful, though German patriotism is often isolated and pedantic, they are neither of them merely dull, common, and brutal, as is so often the strange fate of the nation of Bacon and Locke. It is natural enough, and even righteous enough, under the circumstances. An Englishman must love England for something; consequently he tends to exalt commerce or prize-fighting, just as a German might tend to exalt music, or a Flammand to exalt painting, because he really believes it is the chief merit of his fatherland. It would not be in the least extraordinary if a claim of eating up provinces and pulling down princes were the chief boast of a Zulu. The extraordinary thing is, that it is the chief boast of a people who have Shakespeare, Newton, Burke, and Darwin to boast of.
The peculiar lack of any generosity or delicacy in the current English nationalism appears to have no other possible origin but in this fact of our unique neglect in education of the study of the national literature. An Englishman could not be silly enough to despise other nations if once he knew how much England had done for them. Great men of letters cannot avoid being humane and universal. The absence of the teaching of English literature in our schools is, when we come to think of it, an almost amazing phenomenon. It is even more amazing when we listen to the arguments urged by headmasters and other educational conservatives against the direct teaching of English. It is said, for example, that a vast amount of English grammar and literature is picked up in the course of learning Latin and Greek. This is perfectly true, but the topsy-turviness of the idea never seems to strike them. It is like saying that a baby picks up the art of walking in the course of learning to hop, or that a Frenchman may successfully be taught German by helping a Prussian to learn Ashanti. Surely the obvious foundation of all education is the language in which that education is conveyed; if a boy has only time to learn one thing, he had better learn that.
We have deliberately neglected this great heritage of high national sentiment. We have made our public schools the strongest wall against a whisper of the honour of England. And we have had our punishment in this strange and perverted fact that, while a unifying vision of patriotism can ennoble bands of brutal savages or dingy burghers, and be the best thing in their lives, we, who are -- the world being judge -- humane, honest, and serious individually, have a patriotism that is the worst thing in ours. What have we done, and where have we wandered, we that have produced sages who could have spoken with Socrates and poets who could walk with Dante, that we should talk as if we have never done anything more intelligent than found colonies and kick "Diggers"? We are the children of light, and it is we that sit in darkness. If we are judged, it will not be for the merely intellectual transgression of failing to appreciate other nations, but for the supreme spiritual transgression of failing to appreciate ourselves.
WHETHER PIETY IS A SPECIAL VIRTUE
DISTINCT FROM OTHER VIRTUES?
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
(from the Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 101, a. 3)
We proceed as follows to the Third Article:
Objection 1. It would seem that piety is not a special virtue distinct from other virtues. For the rendering of services and honor to other persons proceeds from love. And this pertains to piety. Therefore piety is not a distinct virtue from charity.
Objection 2. Furthermore, to render worship to God properly belongs to religion. But piety also renders worship to God, as St. Augustine says in The City of God, Book X, Chapter 1. Therefore piety is not distinguished from religion.
Objection 3. Moreover, since piety renders honor and duty to the fatherland, it seems to be the same as legal justice, which relates to the common good. And legal justice is a general virtue, as is evident from what the Philosopher says in his Ethics, Book V, Chapters I and 2. Therefore piety is not a special virtue.
On the contrary is the statement of Cicero that it is a part of justice, as he says in his On Invention at the end of Book II.
I answer that a virtue is special when it relates to some object under some special aspect. Since, then, the definition of justice consists in rendering another person his due, whenever a special aspect of something is due to a person, there must be a special virtue. But a thing is indebted to its connatural principle of being and government in a special way, and piety relates to this principle insofar as it pays duty and honor to parents and country, and to whatever is related to them. Therefore piety is a special virtue.
Reply to Objection 1: just as religion is a kind of testimony of our faith, hope, and charity by which man is first of all ordered to God, so also piety is a kind of testimony of the love which a man has to his parents and country.
Reply to Objection 2: God is the principle of our existence and governance in a manner far more excellent than our father or fatherland. And therefore the virtue of religion by which honor is rendered to God is a distinct virtue from piety, which renders honor to parents and fatherland. But things relating to creatures are predicated of God according to excellence and causality, as Dionysius says in his On the Divine Names, Chapter 1, Lesson 3; whence the worship of God is called "piety" of a more excellent sort, just as God is also called more excellently "our Father."
Reply to Objection 3: Piety is extended to our fatherland insofar as it is a principle of our existence; but legal justice regards the good of the fatherland as it is the common good: and therefore legal justice is more a general virtue than piety.