The 5th of July It would have been rude, perhaps even obtuse & insensitive, to deliver myself of another Loyalist

rant on the 4th of July. And besides, after 237 years, it would be arcane to argue the Declaration of Independence point by point. The document landed in London without much of a thud; it was more noticed by the progressive factions there, than by the authorities it proposed to defy. But in due course, a few Tory hacks took note of Jefferson’s wild effusion, & pulled it apart, fact tact & premiss. Someone should reprint it all today (perhaps someone has): the full, contemporary Tory response, or rather, the full response — for rebuttals to the Declaration came mostly from self-described Old Whigs. Some, even among those sympathetic to the political aspirations of the American “Patriots,” were nevertheless embarrassed by such an over-the-top chargesheet. In the meantime we fall back on our beloved Doctor Johnson, for a summary of the reactive, contrary position: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” In America, there could be little debate, for the British offer to concede American independence by a peaceful settlement under the Crown had been ignored, & the matter was now being settled by arms. My own people were on the losing side of that exchange, which is perhaps why I still harbour some mild annoyance in the matter. I think of men like my maternal great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Stetson Holmes of Massachusetts, who actually fought on the side of the Continental Army, but was so disgusted with the treatment of his old Loyalist neighbours in the wake of their defeat, that he followed them into exile. There were many, many stories like this, that don’t fit any “official narrative.” Ditto, for symmetry, the plight of so many Loyalists, smugly abandoned to the convenience of British negotiators after the war, who switched sides to the Patriots, though at less personal cost. That war was far more complicated & messy than is taught in the myths of national chauvinism, whether from my traditional Canadian, or the traditional American side. As too, our respective recollections of the invasion of Canada in 1812, which even where they can agree on fact, diametrically oppose on principle. Each naturally supplies facts to the other, in a somewhat selective manner; each finds the other side strangely deaf. Though equality in error does not follow from this, it may well follow that the discussion is pointless. Yet, get me started, & I’ll be glad to resume it, easily provoked by the simplistic & disingenuous account long provided, to the young & impressionable on the other side of what became “the world’s longest undefended border.” As I was saying just yesterday to some provocateur from Texas, pushing that account too aggressively into my face: “You really must dirty your brain with a little historical reading, for it appears to have been too thoroughly washed by the State education system.” Not everything taught in our State schools (both sides of every border) is a lie, of course. But when formative national myths are expounded, none of the teachers are quite under oath. I long defended the need for such propaganda, in holding a nation together, or a religious sect. With age, it now seems to me that lies are just lies — & that a key objection to the whole project of Modernity, from Reformation through Enlightenment & forward — along with every nationalist revolution along the way — is its foundation upon a few big lies, with a lot of little ones cemented into the buttressing. Had the lies been all on one side, however, the edifice might have keeled over by now. For the whole Baroque scheme of opposition to Modernity, splendid as it may first appear, rests itself upon the same loose gravel: the vanity of a worldly struggle for power. Men cannot be trusted. And in a mysterious way, lies from one side buttress lies from the other. They perpetuate each other in fulfilment of the prophecy I attribute to Christ in his mysterious instruction: “Resist ye not evil.” It is hard to discern in the heat of controversy, that rather than push back against the evil with equal & opposite force, we should flee, & let it collapse under its own weight & thrust. (And may I recommend that we run very quickly.) * There are reasons to celebrate the 5th of July, as we do up here in the High Doganate. It is the day in history when Constantine’s great bridge over the Danube was opened (anno 338); when the Auld Alliance was declared between Scotland & France (1295); when Newton’s Principia was published (1687); when the Battle of Wagram was fought (& darn that Napoleon, 1809); when the Salvation Army was founded (1865). At Mass we recall the Italian, Saint Antonio Maria Zaccaria (d.1539), a larger figure in history than is generally acknowledged, whose dozen surviving letters are absolutely extraordinary. One could do worse today than listen to any one of these letters (available free from the Barnabite Fathers, through iTunes). Notwithstanding all these important events, I think rather of the 5th of July, in its secular context, as the day after the 4th. The reason

& every satisfaction of revenge. We make the best of a botch. … for dust thou art. a burden upon them? Does it make each more free to pursue his salvation. nor Tom Paine & the rest of them. or impose. or enslave us all to the dust? . to my mind. It will probably remain for a few years yet. The 5th of July is a day on which. I think this can be formulated in guiding questions. They are doomed to keep trying to repeat it. feeding our appetites more than our bellies. we still cannot be happy. The Clowd-capt Towres. but the journey of a thousand loads begins with a single washing cycle. & down into a Hell in which even when we have every material comfort provided. the highest truth. or impede. to immortality in fame or in works. scattered here & there. Yea. I think of it indeed as a costcutting measure — the determined writing-off of poor investments. to conceive of this world in quite another way. This. We ask of the world what the world can’t provide. & Girles all must. but must recall the irony in all our proud aspiration to make some national or material order that can outlive time. we start thinking again — the way they’re still not doing in Egypt. shall dissolve. illustrating a formative truth. in light of all that our ancestors achieved to make the world the mess that we have inherited. And yet it can be recovered in a moment. & unto dust shalt thou return. And it is implicit not only in every personal deliberation. as in life more generally. till thou return unto the ground. & cannot honestly deny that he must. against the prudently discerned background of what is really there. The Iron Law of Paradox tells us that only by “living in the past” — by some conscious intellectual effort to overcome the anachronism in all propaganda history — can we even begin to understand the botch at which we have most recently arrived. We start from where we are. I might even tag it. And like this insubstantiall Pageant faded. but in every political decision that must be made — when one man must necessarily choose for another. As Chimney-Sweepers. “the Christian libertarianism”: Does this measure aid. in the light of our politics & traffic today. we must start from where we are to get any purchase. In politics. Not. & we are right to accommodate it in our general scheme of current realities. that we may ask of ourselves in every public choice. … Or perhaps Shakespeare put it better still in the song from Cymbeline. The case is worse than that.” Is this not so? And does wisdom not begin at this beginning? And does every aspiration to worldly renown. It was a superb poster. in a really amateur way. to build everywhere in view of the Hereafter. not return to dust with us? Prospero put this very nicely in the Tempest. & recovering a few elementary truths? I should think any effort in this line would yield public dividends. every act that impinges upon the fate of others. into thin Ayre: And like the baselese fabricke of this vision. It is a view that seems unrecoverable. It depicted a rag doll being fed through a wringer. before the Western Schism. how can we go about deconstructing the lies. Indeed: we usually do. is that the United States can no longer be prevented. the great Globe it selfe. largely for the better — it has been a fact of life ever since. This has remained the intention of remnants. It is the road not taken. Those who don’t read history are not doomed to repeat it. the salvation of our fellow men? Does it lift. is the error that has dragged us through centuries of spiritual misery. yet from a fork that presents itself again & again: the choice between Salvation & the road that cannot lead there. Leave not a racke behind. The solemne Temples. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. As a first step. on the wall by her washing machine. come to dust. & the truth will make you free. where Guiderius turns upon a groaner pun. And the curious thing is that some history is required to understand the botch. “That you will know the truth. all which it inherit. not assuredly. arguably.” My mama used to have a poster with this caption. For better & for worse — indeed.we don’t bother to argue with Tom Jefferson any more. It was the wisdom of Christendom. consecrated not to God but to our own genius. about “these our actors”: … melted into Ayre. thereby refusing cheap sentiment: Golden Lads. the gorgeous Pallaces. not from where we’d like to be.

among the ancient lamentations (Waley’s translation. Don’t think about the sorrows of the world.Confucius. no. conveyed this peculiarly well. Don’t think about the sorrows of the world. Don’t think about the sorrows of the world. You will only load yourself with care. You will only make yourself dusty. . You’ll be stifled with dust. Don’t escort the big chariot. Or you will never escape from your despair. You won’t be able to see for dust. You will only make yourself wretched. I think — this striving not to go along with fashion & false “progress” in the Procession of the State. 286): Don’t escort the big chariot. For he included in his Book of Songs. Don’t escort the big chariot. the very great political philosopher.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful