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Hazlitt on the Right: "If they pause it is to gain time; if they offer terms it is to break them"

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I quoted this in an earlier post, but it deserves attention for itself.

It's both music (beautifully written, by one of the now-forgotten geniuses of English prose) and great political wisdom. It prefigures Lincoln's Cooper Union speech.

This is William Hazlitt, writing in the 1820, on the what it's like to deal with the right (h/t Digby for the find). I've reparagraphed this, so you can savor each sentence. Enjoy:
They never give an inch of ground that they can keep; they keep all that they can get;

they make no concessions that can redound to their own discredit; they assume all that makes for them;

if they pause it is to gain time;

if they offer terms it is to break them: they keep no faith with enemies:

if you relax in your exertions, they persevere the more: if you make new efforts, they redouble theirs.
If they pause, it is to gain time. If they offer terms, it is to break them.

See what I mean? This is the Daleks or the Borg, 150 years before either were conceived.

He doesn't rest his pen in dealing with our side. As strong as they behave, we (the left) act from weakness, from nicety:
While they give no quarter, you [the left] stand upon mere ceremony.

While they are cutting your throat, or putting the gag in your mouth, you talk of nothing but liberality, freedom of inquiry, and douce humanité [sweet humanity].

Their object is to destroy you, your object is to spare them—to treat them according to your own fancied dignity.

They have sense and spirit enough to take all advantages that will further their cause ...

It is the difference between the efficient and the inefficient; and this again resolves itself into the difference between a speculative proposition and a practical interest.
This is the enemy, my dithering brethren. While we speculate (discuss), they act in practical interest.

From Hazlitt's mouth to your sweet ear, my progressive brothers and sisters.

Rule 4: Do something. If that doesn't work, do something else. This isn't grad school, folks; it's war. There's an army in the field. Time to deal with it.

Music for a Sunday.


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