Chapter XVI
BRIEF CANDLE

We must all in future be more political than ever before.

Farewell Address to Undergraduates of University College, Oxford, March 11, 1945.


I. Lighting of the Candle

A S my second Report -- on Full Employment -- neared completion in the spring of 1944, I began to think what I should do thereafter. My next subject for study and writing was settled; it was the question of how to make lasting peace. On our American journey in 1943, I had invented the security tripod -- peace, a job when one can work, an income when one cannot work. "Security is like a stool which will stand on three legs but falls to the ground if any of the three is missing or proves too weak." So I had written in a chapter added to the American edition of The Pillars of Security. Not content with one metaphor, I had gone on to a second one. "The different nations are like many families, large and small, living on a flat piece of country near the sea. For security of life and work, each family needs a wall to keep out floods from the sea, each needs a house and each needs furniture in the house." Full employment and Social Security I compared to the house and the furniture. "External security -- security against war-corresponds to the sea-wall. It must be built and maintained and watched jointly. It is absurd for each family to try to build its own private wall around its home, or to leave the job of keeping out the sea wholly to others, or to think that it lives so far from the sea as to be safe from flooding."1 Sea-walls have been part of my mental furniture ever since I read The Misfortunes of Elphin, and the Warden Seithenyn's defence after dinner of having some of his wall rotten: "the parts that are rotten give elasticity to those that are sound: they give them elasticity, elasticity, elasticity. If it were all sound, it would break by its own obstinate stiffness: the soundness is checked by the rottenness, and the stiffness is balanced by the elasticity. There is nothing so dangerous as innovation." We have all heard our

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1
The Pillars of Security, American Edition, p. 222. The quotation that follows from Peacock The Misfortune of Elphin is in chapter ii (p. 30 of the Aldine Edition of 1894).

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