Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Into the Breach!

While Arevanye is away, I'm filling in. Fear not, she will be back and take over in a few more days. I don't have the C.S. Lewis resources that she does, so forgive me if the excerpts are a bit lacking in novelty. Arrogance and Humility are today's topics.

"But I want her," cried the Prince. "I must have her. I shall die if I do not get her--—false, proud, black-hearted daughter of a dog that she is! I cannot sleep and my food has no savor and my eyes are darkened because of her beauty. I must have the barbarian queen."

"How well it was said by a gifted poet," observed the Vizier, raising his face (in a somewhat dusty condition) from the carpet, "that deep drafts from the fountain of reason are desirable in order to extinguish the fire of youthful love."

This seemed to exasperate the Prince. "Dog," he shouted, directing a series of well-aimed kicks at the hindquarters of the Vizier, "do not dare to quote the poets to me. I have had maxims and verses flung at me all day and I can endure them no more." I am afraid Aravis did not feel at all sorry for the Vizier.

The Tisroc was apparently sunk in thought, but when, after a long pause, he noticed what was happening, he said tranquilly:

"My son, by all means desist from kicking the venerable and enlightened Vizier: for as a costly jewel retains its value even if hidden in a dung-hill, so old age and discretion are to be respected even in the vile persons of our subjects. Desist therefore, and tell us what you desire and propose."

"I know," said Aravis. "I felt just the same. Shasta was marvelous. I'm just as bad as you, Bree. I've been snubbing him and looking down on him ever since you met us and now he turns out to be the best of us all. But I think it would be better to stay and say we're sorry than to go back to Calormen."

"It's all very well for you," said Bree. "You haven't disgraced yourself. But I've lost everything."

"My good Horse," said the Hermit, who had approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass. "My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really so humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must learn to listen to sense. You're not quite the great Horse you had come to think, from living among poor dumb horses. Of course you were braver and cleverer than them. You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another. And now, if you and my other four-footed cousin will come round to the kitchen door we'll see about the other half of that mash."
~C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy (1954)

3 Comment(s):

At Wed Jul 13, 10:57:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I'm liking this team-posting thing, Bob. :) Thanks so much.

deep drafts from the fountain of reason are desirable in order to extinguish the fire of youthful love

Wish someone had been around to quote that one to me a time or two during my high school crushes. Not that I would have listened or anything...

At Thu Jul 14, 01:59:00 PM EST, Blogger Bob said...

That often seems to be the whole point of such maxims, does it not? Quotable nuggets of wisdom that everyone ignores except when quoting them to bolster one's own argument, neh?

At Thu Jul 14, 03:41:00 PM EST, Anonymous Kimi said...

Look at the speaker and the context, though. The vizier is a corrupt and venal person, and he is eager to embark on a marriage with not a trace of love in it. His motivation for marriage is that it's a politically/socially advantageous alliance, perhaps seasoned with lust for a beautiful young maiden (who gets no say in the matter).

I venture to suggest that Lewis would have more sympathy for youthful passions than for the likes of the vizier :-) A warm heart, not a cold and twisted one.

Which is not to suggest that I think there's anything admirable in Rabadash's feelings. His are about power and revenge (and lust), not about affection.

We also see a perversion of the relationship between parent and child here, with the mutual mistrust and dislike between Rabadash and the Tisroc.


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