The Path to Rome By Hilaire Belloc


































































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For when boys or soldiers or poets, or any other blossoms and prides
of nature, are for lying steady in - Page 8
The Path to Rome By Hilaire Belloc - Page 8 of 361 - First - Home

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For When Boys Or Soldiers Or Poets, Or Any Other Blossoms And Prides Of Nature, Are For Lying Steady In

The shade and letting the Mind commune with its Immortal Comrades, up comes Authority busking about and eager as though

It were a duty to force the said Mind to burrow and sweat in the matter of this very perishable world, its temporary habitation.

'Up,' says Authority, 'and let me see that Mind of yours doing something practical. Let me see Him mixing painfully with circumstance, and botching up some Imperfection or other that shall at least be a Reality and not a silly Fantasy.'

Then the poor Mind comes back to Prison again, and the boy takes his horrible Homer in the real Greek (not Church's book, alas!); the Poet his rough hairy paper, his headache, and his cross-nibbed pen; the Soldier abandons his inner picture of swaggering about in ordinary clothes, and sees the dusty road and feels the hard places in his boot, and shakes down again to the steady pressure of his pack; and Authority is satisfied, knowing that he will get a smattering from the Boy, a rubbishy verse from the Poet, and from the Soldier a long and thirsty march. And Authority, when it does this commonly sets to work by one of these formulae: as, in England north of Trent, by the manifestly false and boastful phrase, 'A thing begun is half ended', and in the south by 'The Beginning is half the Battle'; but in France by the words I have attributed to the Proverb-Maker, _'Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute'._

By this you may perceive that the Proverb-Maker, like every other Demagogue, Energumen, and Disturber, dealt largely in metaphor - but this I need hardly insist upon, for in his vast collection of published and unpublished works it is amply evident that he took the silly pride of the half-educated in a constant abuse of metaphor. There was a sturdy boy at my school who, when the master had carefully explained to us the nature of metaphor, said that so far as he could see a metaphor was nothing but a long Greek word for a lie.

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