Friday, February 21, 2014

The Hebdomadal Chesterton

“A wall of pebbles”

If the mass of citizens are to rule, it is absolutely necessary that they should have very strong common principles of thought. Where the State is ruled by a few wills (as of a king or nobles) its action and unity is preserved by the mere helplessness of the other parts. But if it is to be ruled by a great number of wills, these must have had some standard which they regard as orthodoxy, or, at least, as common sense. That is behind the half-truth of those who say that art and science (at least the wilder sorts) flourish better under an aristocracy. A certain sort of looseness cannot be permitted in a democracy. A wall can be built of large loose rocks, because there are few of them. But if you want to build a wall of pebbles you must have a very strong cement.

The Illustrated London News, 13 January 1912.

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