Friday, January 04, 2013


Sick of Visions and Systems

Horace Walpole, letter to George Montagu (November 21, 1765):
What has one to do, when one grows tired of the world, as we both do, but to draw nearer and nearer, and gently waste the remains of life with the friends with whom one began it! Young and happy people will have no regard for us and our old stories, and they are in the right: but we shall not tire one another; we shall laugh together....I must tell you, I desire to die when I have nobody left to laugh with me. I have never yet seen or heard anything serious, that was not ridiculous. Jesuits, Methodists, philosophers, politicians, the hypocrite Rousseau, the scoffer Voltaire, the encyclopedists, the Humes, the Lytteltons, the Grenvilles, the atheist tyrant of Prussia, and the mountebank of history, Mr. Pitt, all are to me but impostors in their various ways. Fame or interest are their objects—and after all their parade, I think a ploughman who sows, reads his almanac, and believes the stars but so many farthing candles, created to prevent his falling into a ditch as he goes home at night, a wiser and more rational being, and I am sure an honester than any of them—Oh, I am sick of visions and systems, that shove one another aside, and come over again, like the figures in a moving picture! Rabelais brightens up to me as I see more of the world; he treated it as it deserved, laughed at it all, and (as I judge from myself) ceased to hate it; for I find hatred an unjust preference.

Jean Georges Vibert, Reading Rabelais

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