Saturday, 9 July 2011

"Keep the world from running backwards"

I came across the following in an essay by Joseph Epstein in the New Criterion. It is a quotation from a book by F.L. Lucas, called Style (1955). It is a paragraph that could be used as a definition of sanity.
It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars.”

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