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Attaining Moral Turpitude Is Not a Sudden Thing

Attaining Moral Turpitude Is Not a Sudden Thing

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Published by: Saint Benedict Center on Nov 25, 2013
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12/10/2013

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Dr. Robert Hickson 6 November 2013 Saint Leonard of Limoges Saint Leonard of Reresby 
Attaining Moral Turpitude Is Not a Sudden Thing:G.K. Chesterton's Insights about “Evil riendships in !istor"#Epigraph
 Nemo repente fuit turpissimus
 !"#vena$% Satire &&% '3()No one *as been+or ,as+ com-$ete$y vi$e a$$ of a s#dden
 Nemo repente fit turpissimus
 !/.. *esterton%
 As I was Saying 
 !136(% -.()No one s#dden$y becomes t*oro#g*$y base Not $ong before *is ,ide$y $amented deat* on 1 "#ne 136% /.. *esterton *ad -#b$is*ed afres* co$$ection of *is essays% entit$ed
 As I Was Saying 
% an ant*o$ogy e4-ressing some of *is ,e$$5 -ondered #dgments after *is fo#rteen ferti$e and gratef#$ years as a Roman at*o$ic.
1
&n *is essay% “7bo#t S*ame$essness% *esterton is es-ecia$$y concerned ,it* t*e $eve$ing and*omogeni8ing effects of certain instit#tions and fas*ionab$e trends of modern society and c#$t#re%es-ecia$$y t*e $eve$ing effects of t*e State Sc*oo$s in 9ng$and+to inc$#de t*eir grad#a$ e4tir-ation of t*e variety of differentiated o#ntry Dia$ects. 7fter first mentioning t*e desirab$e matter of -reservingt*ese manifo$d dia$ects of 9ng$and% *e ,i$$ go on to dee-er t*ings of good taste% manners and mora$s%and t*ereby -re-are #s better to receive ,*at *e a$so earnest$y tries to convey in *is trenc*ant essay%“7bo#t :o$taire% ,*ic* is a$so abo#t ;onti#s ;i$ate and Herod% and one of :o$taire<s cynica$ andsneering “=e#tonic friends% t*e *ig*$y c#$t#red and at*eistica$ >rederick t*e /reat of ;r#ssia. ?e s*a$$ *ave m#c* to consider t*ere% b#t *esterton s*a$$ first s-eak on t*e iss#e of Dia$ects@
1/.. *esterton%
 As I Was Saying 
 !Ne, Aork@ Dodd% Bead C om-any% 136(. =*is co$$ection% a$so -#b$is*ed in 136 in London by Bet*#en C om-any% contains 22' -ages of te4t% in 36 varied c*a-ters !individ#a$ essays(% ,it* a$$ c*a-ter5tit$es beginning ,it* “7bo#t+from “7bo#t Bad Beta-*ors to “7bo#t Roya$ ?eddings. =*e c#rrent essay  -ro-oses to consider and co#nter-oint on$y t,o of t*ese essays% one entit$ed “7bo#t S*ame$essness and t*e ot*er “7bo#t :o$taire+,*ic* essays are to be fo#nd in *a-ters :& !--. 352( and &E !--. FF561(% res-ective$y. 7$$ f#t#re  -age citations ,i$$ be to t*e 136 7merican 9dition of
 As I Was Saying 
% and -$aced in -arent*eses in t*e main body of t*e te4t above. Boreover% a$$ bo$d or ita$ici8ed em-*ases in t*e te4t ,i$$ be my o,n% and not *esterton<s% #n$ess ot*er,ise s-ecifica$$y indicated.
1
 
=*ere are some ,*o act#a$$y $ike t*e o#ntry dia$ects ,*ic* State ed#cation issystematica$$y destroying. =*ere are some ,*o act#a$$y -refer t*em )
e.g 
.% t*ose“of S#sse4 or S#ffo$k to t*e ockney dia$ect ,*ic* State ed#cation issystematica$$y s-reading....7mong t*e eccentric reactionaries )$ike /...,*o *ave act#a$$y observed t*is )$eve$ing c*ange ,it* regret% a f#rt*er andmore c#rio#s fact *as been remarked more t*an once.....&n s*ort% t*is)red#ctive% $eve$ing% ockney sort of t*ing is not a variation or a form of varietyG on t*e contrary%
it is an inabilit" to see that there is an" variet"
. &t isnot a difference in t*e sense of distinction )amongst ot*er dia$ects%
it is asudden $ailure in the po%er to &ae an" distin(tion
. ?*atever is distinctmay -ossib$y be disting#is*ed )and% as t*e c$ear5minded Sc*o$astics #sed tosay@ “t*e o--osite of
 Distinctio,
or 
 Distinguo
% is
Confusio
. !353'(7s is *is ,ay% and in *is $ongstanding combat against Hebet#de% o#r *esterton ,i$$ grad#a$$yno, take #s f#rt*er into t*e dee-er menta$ and c#$t#ra$ im-$ications@#t t*e )red#ctionist and $eve$ing c*ange *ere in I#estion is somet*ing
&u(h&ore $or&less and &u(h &ore $or&idable
 t*an anyt*ing t*at co#$d arisefrom t*e most #nco#t* or #n$#cky of $oca$ or r#stic accents.
It is a (ertain losso$ sharpness
% in t*e ear as ,e$$ as t*e tong#eG
not onl" a $lattening o$ thespee(h) but a deadening o$ the hearing
. 7nd t*o#g* it is itse$f a re$ative$ysma$$ matter% es-ecia$$y as com-ared ,it* many -ara$$e$ matters%
it is e*a(tl"this +ualit"
 t*at makes it
s"&boli( o$ the so(ial proble&s o$ to,da"
. !3'(7$most t,o *#ndred years $ater% and going some,*at f#rt*er% & t*ink% t*an David H#me<s o,nfamo#s 1F essay “Jf t*e Standard of =aste% *esterton says@>or
one o$ the deepest troubles
 of t*e day is t*is fact@ t*at somet*ing is beingcommended as a ne, taste ,*ic* is
si&pl" the (ondition %hi(h $indsever"thing tasteless
. &t is sometimes offered a$most as if it ,ere a ne, senseG b#t it is not rea$$y even a ne, sensibi$ityG
it is rather a pride in a ne%insensibilit"
. !3'(Boving no, into t*e rea$m of mora$s and manners% as ,e$$ as of n#anced -erce-t#a$ art% *eto#c*es #-on ot*er as-ects of ben#mbing nonc*a$ance+in t*e contrast bet,een vivacity and d#$$ness@?*en some o$d -iece of decor#m )% for instance% is abo$is*ed%...it is a$,ayss#--osed to be com-$ete$y #stified
i$ 
 -eo-$e become
 -ust as dull in a((eptingthe inde(en("
 as t*ey )-#r-orted$y ,ere in acce-ting t*e decency )
i.e
.% of t*eabandoned decor#m. &f it can be said t*at t*e grandc*i$dren “soon get #sed tosomet*ing t*at ,o#$d *ave made t*e grandfat*ers fig*t d#e$s )of *onor to t*edeat*% it is a$,ays ass#med t*at t*e grandc*i$dren *ave fo#nd a ne, mode of )better $iving....#t
the ps"(hologi(al $a(t
 is e4act$y t*e ot*er ,ay. =*e2
 
d#e$$ists
&a" have been
 fastidio#s or fantastic%
but the" %ere $right$ull"alive
. =*at )-arado4ica$$yis ,*y t*ey died.
Their sensibilities %ere vividand intense
% )and by t*e on$y tr#e test of t*e finer sensibi$ities% or even of t*efive senses. 7nd t*at )test is t*at
the" (ould $eel the di$$eren(e bet%een onething and another
 )s#c* as t*e doctrina$ at*o$ic >ait* in its entirety% andsomet*ing distinctive$y ot*er,ise. &t is
the livelier e"e
t*at can see t*edifference bet,een -eacock5b$#e and -eacock5greenG it is
the &ore $atiguede"e
 t*at may see bot* of t*em as somet*ing very $ike grey )or ec#menica$$y%and essentia$$y% one and t*e same. &t is
the +ui(er ear
 t*at
(an dete(t
 in anys-eec*
the shade bet%een inno(en(e and iron") or bet%een iron" andinsult
. &t is
the duller ear
 t*at *ears a$$ t*e notes )tones as monotone% andt*erefore monotono#s. !3'53(?it* a fina$ bit of e4-ected -$ayf#$ness% *e com-ares someone+even an #--ity s,aggerer+ ,*o may sti$$ be ab$e and dis-osed to “sniff t*e different sme$$s of t*e ,or$d% and -er*a-s )even todetect t*eir difference%,it* t*e man ,it* a “drearier and more detac*ed sense of -ride )oinsensibi$ity% t*e sort of man ,*o “may be said to t#rn *is nose do,n )not #- at everyt*ing% ,*ic*is on$y “a more de-ressing ,ay of t#rning everyt*ing do,n. !3( D#$$ness $eads to a-at*y anddes-ondency. >or% *e im-ortant$y adds@ “9ven t*e mere senses...
attest to this truth
 )% name$y% abo#t
viva(it" going %ith di$$erentiation
.7fter giving e4am-$es abo#t t*e “absence of taste in diet% as in t*e matter of ,ine% ,*ic*“robs t*em of a reasonab$e taste in vintages% *esterton ret#rns #s to somet*ing more im-ortant% a$$t*ings considered@#t ,*at most -eo-$e do not see is t*at
this dullness in diet
% and simi$ar t*ings% is
e*a(tl" parallel to the dull and indi$$erent anar(h" in &annersand &orals
. Do not be -ro#d of t*e fact t*at yo#r grandmot*er ,as s*ocked atsomet*ing ,*ic* yo# are
a((usto&ed
 to seeing or *earing
%ithout beingsho(ed
....&t may mean t*at yo#r grandmot*er ,as an e4treme$y $ive$y andvita$ anima$% and t*at yo# are a ) -*ysica$ and mora$ -ara$ytic. !0(>#rt*er i$$#strating *is meaning% *e considers t*e so-*istry of some “very -rosaic -ara$yticst*at ca$$ t*emse$ves N#dists and ,*o c$aim t*at “
people 'soon get used' to being degraded
...to t*e*abits of t*e beasts of t*e fie$d. &ronica$$y% *esterton t*#s re-$ies@ & *ave no do#bt t*ey doG #st as t*ey soon get #sed to )“gro,
accustomed 
 to being dr#nkards or dr#g5fiends or ai$5birds or -eo-$e ta$king ockney insteadof ta$king 9ng$is*. ?*ere t*e arg#ment of t*e )so-*istica$ a-o$ogist fai$s is ins*o,ing t*at it is
better 
 to get #sed to an inferior stat#s after $osing a s#-erior 3

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