Laxdale Hall: A Novel

Laxdale Hall: A Novel

Laxdale Hall: A Novel

Laxdale Hall: A Novel

Excerpt

'IF I were a writer,' said Mr. Crantit, 'I would write, in times like these, only small, restrained and agreeable books. I would insist, though quite unobtrusively, on being civilized. Especially if I were young, for youth should always attach itself to some impossible, high purpose--if only for the sake of exercise--and certainly the great lost cause of this interesting century appears to be civilization.'

'What,' asked General Matheson, 'do you mean by civilization?'

'Not exactly what you mean perhaps,' said Mr. Crantit, putting down his glass. 'Your ideas, I fancy, would be too strenuous for my taste, and your view too rigid. You see it, I dare say, as victory exacted from the darkness, and I shan't complain of that. But I want a long perspective. I don't want a victory so recent that we are still patting each other on the back. Self-congratulation is a vulgar gesture, and civilization, to escape vulgarity and be worthy of its name, must have forgotten its sense of achievement. It should, indeed, have begun to go down hill a little.--And there, a mile or two below the crest, in the mellow but declining rays of afternoon, how charming it can be!'

'When it's already decadent,' said the General gruffly.

'When its flavour is ripe,' said Mr. Crantit. 'When people have exchanged their harsher virtues for a certain grace. When we remember the lost heroism of our fathers with admiration but without regret. When we teach our children to keep their balance rather than their virtue: to keep their balance on the downward slope lest they descend too far, and in the shadows lose their manners and their happiness.--Yes, that's the climate I prefer, and the light . . .

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