Episode #8 – The Renaissance, Power, & the Money Monopoly
December 22, 1981
The Reaper – By: R.E. McMaster Jr.
The Hard Money Investor – By: Hale Bryan
Splendor At Court: Renaissance Spectacle in the Theater of Power – By: Roy Strong
Governments Money Monopoly – By:Henry Mark Holzer
Lepanto – By: Gilbert K. Chesterton
Written Consent and Disclaimer Concerning Having Children
The Gold Standard
Democratization of Western Culture
Washington DC and Versailles
Mystery of the Crown
Ballet and Royalty
Renaissance Literature: Man as God
Greek Heroics and Opera
The Virtual Deification of Man
Fearful Men are not Conquerers
A Horse, a Septic Tank, & a Skunk
Defeatism Within Christianity
Transcript of Episode:
Radio Announcer: The Reconstructionist Radio Podcast Network presents The Easy Chair with R.J. Rushdoony.
Radio Announcer: The Easy Chair with R. J. Rushdoony is brought to you by the Chalcedon Foundation and the GCS Apprenticeship Program. For more information, visit chalcedon.edu and gcsapprenticeship.com.
R.J. Rushdoony: This is R.J. Rushdoony and this is Easy Chair talk number eight. Before we begin with something serious I’d like to share something in a lighter vein with you. We’re all familiar with the fact that the Great White Father in Washington is so much concerned with our health that every pack of cigarettes has on it, every cartoon and pack, everything including the ads. Warning this may be hazardous to your health. Well, it seems the women’s livers have gotten the idea also.
In one state, a representative, a woman, who is a strong women’s liberation leader has introduced a law that would require a man to obtain a woman’s written consent before they engage in sexual intercourse and to inform her that she might become pregnant and that childbirth could be hazardous to her health.
The making of foolishness, there is no end. I’d like to discuss the economic outlook very briefly. This past week I read two excellent economic reports. The first one I will mention is familiar to many of you. I won’t take too much time to mention it because I know that a number of you are familiar with it. I’ve mentioned this one to some of you and you’ve commented about this when we talked in person. This is The Reaper by R.E. McMaster, Jr. which is published weekly or 44 times per year for 225 years. A trial issue of five issues cost $25. The address is P.O. Box 39026 Phoenix. Arizona 85069.
Now, the December 18 issue speaks off the possibility of a return to the gold standard perhaps by June of 1982. The crisis of confidence is a very real one. The Reagan administration began with a tremendous public support. One of the things that interested me as I traveled across country was to find that liberals who had voted for Carter were very strongly pro-Reagan because their attitude was we can’t afford to have any more problems or we are finished. The economy will go down the drain, and similar statements. There’s been a great deal of public confidence to sustain rather in that year.
Now, of course as the situation worsens, Reagan’s popularity is plummeting and it’s a matter of very real concern in Washington. As McMaster comments and I quote “A gold standard will benefit the Federal Reserve as well as the US government and the American people. Notice that the gold standard will not do away with the Federal Reserve, the central bank, or the fractional reserve banking system. What we face in effect is a prostituted gold standard but the general public won’t know it. Most financial analysts won’t know it. The press will trumpet this compromised gold standard as a return to stability and good times and the instant psychological fix will be on, expect it to take.” At least for a time as it goes to say the long-term implications are emphatically not good.
Now, the other economic report is not a well-known one, in fact it’s only the second volume or year of its publication. R.E. McMaster is very a faithful friend of Chalcedon and so too is [Hal Brian 00:05:37], a very old personal friend that is old in terms of years of knowing each other because Hal is an airline pilot as well as a good economist. In fact, if Hal had been able to do this kind of writing 20 years ago he would have made a lot of money for people.
Now, what Hal Brian does in the hard money investor is simply to deal with economic facts not investment facts. Before I cite his hard money investor, let me say that it is published monthly for $35 a year, first class mail, box 11 E-N-U-M-C-L-A-W Enumclaw Washington 98022.
Now, Hal Brian deals with the expectation of some but we are possibly facing deflation and how emphatically disagrees. He writes and I quote, “In the United States, inflation rates are measured by movements and a consumer price index, the CPI. The CPI is a poor short-term yardstick because it tracks prices, not the rate of injection of unbacked inflationary purchasing media into the economy.
“Despite the fact that nearly everybody equates price increases with inflation, they are not at all the same thing. The CPI measures all price factors, not just inflation-induced rises. If there were an accurate way of measuring the total unearned money and credit introduced on a current basis, we would know the inflation rate. As it is, we do not have a clear idea of how much prices have been influenced by discounting on the part of businesses caught in the liquidity squeeze. Which decreases could be offsetting inflationary increases?
“We believe the recently lower CPI represents only a transitory condition and that upward trends will continue and accelerate, unquote.”
Now, Hal Brian goes on to say that we are as a matter of fact facing hyperinflation. Hyperinflation seems to be a boundary which is passed when the price level begins to double in six months or less. He goes on to say and I quote, “This is a description of acute hyperinflation. If investors wait for such a symptom, they will truly have missed the boat. How then should those in the market identify the onset of hyperinflation? Besides the behavior of government spending discussed above, one may note an apparent shortage of depreciating paper currency but perhaps, the best indicator is ebbing confidence in the value of the monetary unit itself. Such feelings are expressed in the market by reluctance on the part of investors and lenders to make long-term money commitments even at high rates of return. Finally, all available paper money assets are immediately converted into hard goods and hard money.”
What Hal Brian says is that we are moving from creeping inflation to creeping hyperinflation into accelerating hyperinflation. He says and I quote, “Does this mean we have absolutely no idea of the timing of a hyperinflationary phase? No. While it’s already stated, we do not make predictions, we do make projections which are we are the first to admit are susceptible to error through many changeable factors, but which we believe are at least as useful as other forecasting tools.”
Hal Brian earlier had a four-part series on the mathematics of hyperinflation, which you can purchase from the same address for $12 or free with a year subscription. He makes this note, let me leave the rest for you to study and read. I quote, “Is it coincidence that the bureau of been graving and printing has purchased a new high-speed press from the same German manufacturer who supply the Bundesbank in the 1920s.” Well, I think these reports do merit your very careful attention.
Now, I have been discussing gambling and drinking and the role in American, and I trace the whole thing to in large part, the democratization of western culture, which went hand in hand with an imitation by the people of the nobility and the royalty. The idea was to be drunk as a lord and to spend money like a lord and to put on [airs 00:11:57] so that the democratic movement in history has not been an appreciation of the common man and a desire of all to live as the common does but rather everybody a king, everybody a lord, a lady, everybody living as though or having the right to live as though they belong to some royal family.
Now, we see this in a number of areas of life. For example, in architecture, a great deal could be said here and a lot of what I’ve been giving you on the subject, I intend to develop into a book sometime in the future and I’m still collecting material on it. I mentioned the Louis XIV in Versailles and the key role there of Louis XIV and Versailles in converting the nobility from a working element of leaders in society to gamblers and fornicators, adulteress, people carrying a chain for the king. Well, the courts of Europe all imitated Versailles. The nobility imitated Versailles. They became useless as a result.
We should remember that we have an imitation of Versailles here in the United States, Washington DC. It was not planned that way. George Washington selected the site. He did it with a view to the future of the United States. Washington was a good geopolitician, one of the most underrated men in American history. Washington saw that the North and South were drifting apart. He could see ahead tension over the issue of slavery. In the north, the farmers were small farmers, merchants, businessmen, for whom slavery was not practical. The plantation system made slavery a little more practical but even then it was not economically sound. That’s another issue. Also, the cavalier tradition in the South made the South more prone to a lordly use of people. I don’t say this unkindly.
Now, Washington himself, a southerner, a Virginian, felt that there was a way of healing that reach. Because of his work as a surveyor, he had seen the tremendous coal deposits in what is now West Virginia. Long before anyone thought of using them Washington saw their potential in terms of an industrial nation. He felt that the materials of the South, essential coal but he had suspicions of more, could be utilize together with the industrial interest of the North, The North and South thus brought together at a good meeting place, Washington, D.C., the District of Columbia. It would be close to the coal deposits. It would be a good court for shipping to the entire world. It would be an ideal capital and industrial center for the nation.
Thus, as Washington viewed the District of Columbia, he envisioned it as a tremendous urban complex, an industrial complex, a working center for the economy. At the same time, he felt it was the logical point for a western migration through the Cumberland Gap so that he saw goods being shipped out to all of the world from Washington, D.C., immigrants coming in there and going over the gap into the western territories. The North and South brought together into an economic unity but one man killed that, Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson from his days in Europe and at Versailles was very much taken with the ideal of Versailles. He deliberately worked to make Washington, D.C. another Versailles, to be built up as a beautiful city, a monument of art, not as an industrial center.
Our history would have been dramatically different if the vision of Washington had prevailed. I suspect you would have to read a great many books before you would ever encounter a reference to this aspect of Washington’s thinking.
It’s a sorry fact but our American history leaves a lot to be desired. Well, to get back to the Versailles idea. The Versailles idea brought to the focus something that began with the renaissance. The renaissance princes and nobility saw themselves as patrons of the arts replacing the church. They saw themselves as the kings of creation and as little gods. As a result, their corpse became a focal point to express this new theology of the state, now granted that very often the states were very small as in the case of various Italian states, small city states, but they were tremendously wealthy.
A few years ago in a book that is no longer in print, Roy Strong wrote about these parts. The title of his book was Splendour at Court: Renaissance Spectacle and the Theater of Power published by -Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston in 1973.
Now, it may surprise those of you who know opera and ballet to realize that these, especially ballet, represented once the liturgy of courts, a liturgy replacing the liturgy of the church. Remember that neoplatonism had a tremendous revival with the renaissance. You have poetry written at that time about the music of the spheres. That music, the harmony of the spheres, that neoplatonism believed in was to come to focus at the highest point of power in the universe, the court, the royal or the princely court.
The prince represented the high point of civilization. One might say that my w Hegel formulated much later as his philosophy that state is God walking on earth really had been in a different way more politically, artistically stated at the time of the renaissance. Thus, Roy Strong calls the goings on at the court including the ballets as the liturgy of the state. They were very definitely church oriented in their background and an imitation of the church’s liturgy.
The idea was in place of the mystery of the sacrament of the communion elements to present the mystery of the crown so that as Strong says and I quote, “With whether Tudor, Habsburg or Valois, all transmuted the traditional forms of secular entertainment into a vehicle for dynastic apotheosis.” Apotheosis, deification.
As a result, wherever you turn at that time you were confronted with the majesty, the divinity of the state in the person of the monarch or the nobility. The prince or the nobleman was the idea incarnate and his control of the universe was set forth in the ballet, the order, the music typify the Platonic dream of the synthesis of all perfection at the high point of the universe, in the nobility and in the royalty.
Strong traces this in the rulers of the time, in Charles V, in Elizabeth for example, and Bishop Jewel’s justification of her and so on. Some years ago, in a study I wrote which has never been published, which I hope sometime to revise and add on to and publish, I called attention to the very, very great body of literature in England that compared Queen Elizabeth to the Virgin Mary, very openly very empathically done. She was the virgin queen, the queen of heaven and so on, so that no language used in the Catholic Church was lacking in application to Elizabeth and with no restraint. Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones in the court of the King James I of England did match to further this kind of royal theology.
The king, as Strong points out, was seen very plainly, very definitely as a little God. Charles I of course received from his father, Emmanuel, Basilicon Doron which he had composed for the training of his son. The first two lines of the sonnet, which he wrote for the opening of the book read “God gives not kings the style of gods in vain for on his throne, his scepter to they sway.” James then went on to say and I quote, “Therefore, you are a little God to sit on his throne and rule over other man.”
Now, what Ben Johnson and Inigo Jones did for the court of James I was to strive for the visual realization of these principles to impress on all the nobility, all the members of the court.
Well, one of the problems of art since then has been that first it had the church as its focus and God, the doctrines of the faith. Then it became the doctrines of the divine nobility and royalty. Since then art has been in the service of the state. It’s amazing how even today we see the statist drive of so many men in the arts when they have an abundant amount of evidence of what happens in such states as the Soviet Union and Red China when their little god or false god triumphs. Being humanist, that is their theology. They work to bring about the realization of their theological drive.
Now, I mentioned that Washington, D.C. was patterned after Versailles. This has been well known for generations since Jefferson’s day. I can recall when I was very young and when kings were more common in Europe that a great many Americans took pride that the president of the United States was important as any king. Some felt that perhaps he should live in a better palace than the White House. I think it’s a sign of the times that Nancy Reagan has been criticized of late as she has been.
The Reagans have been living in the style of nobility as all our presidents have but now the people are reacting against it. In other words, the theology of state is beginning to collapse rather dramatically. This is why the state is striving for more power even as Rome did. When Rome was finished as far as any faith on the part of the people is concerned then Roman political theology most emphatically asserted the deity of the emperors and their powers and most fanatically, increased the claims of the state over everyone. We’re seeing the same thing today.
I do not believe the American people today would be happy at thinking of any president, Democrat or Republican as another Louis XIV.
Few years ago, that was tolerated. We know that, for example, John F. Kennedy lived like the kings of old and that he wanted a continual stream of mistresses. The press protected him. The publisher of the Washington Post protected him. In fact, the one newsman who became outraged over that and wrote a book which did not sell about it was a catholic newspaperman who as a devote catholic was outrage by everything that John F. Kennedy represented and to him, it was a nightmare that the first catholic president would be that kind of men. Well, he was ostracized.
Now, that was only 20 years ago. In that time we have seen the bankruptcy of the modern state manifested. For that, we owe a debt of gratitude to do Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and little Jimmy Carter, and also to the Reagans.
At that point, I am ready to appreciate those presidents, but the theology of the state is now bankrupt. Who wants a Versailles? We want a different kind of presidency today and that is an excellent sign, a very healthy one.
Now, to go back to another facet of the whole tradition, what I have been discussing, the development of humanism and the theology of the state. With the renaissance, a man began to see not God as God, but man as God. That’s the essence of humanism. The effect on renaissance literature was very, very great. When we read renaissance literature we find, really, a virtual deification of man. Man is seen in grand heroic terms.
Now, heroic is a very important word. The hero is the figure out of Greek mythology. The hero was usually somebody who was a son of God. The gods had come down and fallen in love with some women or desired her, begotten a child on her and taken off. You had this demigod, this hero. That’s the real meaning of hero and heroic.
The renaissance revived that meaning very definitely and it was the essence of the courtier that he sought to be heroic. Castiglione said that the true prince, the true courtier was one who played to a human audience. In battle, he would wait until someone like the prince could see him and then he would charge forward swinging his sword and make a heroic display of himself on horseback. The heroic play which dealt precisely with this kind of figure became very prominent and the generation that followed. The opera was born out of the heroic play. This is why the opera, the old-fashioned opera has so much dramatics to it.
The melodramatic aspect of men talking in a grand eloquent way and displaying so much a bravado regarding their feelings as cosmic because in terms of being heroes, that’s precisely what they are supposed to be. The whole modern temper has bought that heroic temperament.
If you’re the child of Zeus in some wench well, you’re important. The gods are keeping an eye on you and when you are sad, why, the heavens are troubled and when you desire of something the heavens are concerned. Modern men right down to the modern adolescent has bought that sick doctrine. I’m upset. The whole world has to be upset. The whole family has to be upset. Every time a person has any kind of feeling, let the whole world respond. There’s something wrong with the world if they don’t feel for me. Now that’s the heroic play. That’s the old operatic temper and that’s what we’ve inherited out of the world of the Greeks and the renaissance.
Well, I mentioned the virtual deification of man. My favorite example of course is from the play, Elizabethan play by Chapman in which the hero, a swashbuckling character, if there ever was one, finally gets it. He gets it in a form of a pistol shot and he’s dying. He sees the blood running out and he’s shocked and he says, and I quote, “Is my body then but penetrable flesh? And must my mind follow my blood? Can my divine part add no aid to the earthly in extremity? Then these divines are but for form, not fact. Man is of two sweet courtly friends compact, a mistress and a servant; let my death define life nothing but a courtier’s breath. Nothing is made of naught, of all things made, their abstract being a dream but of a shade. I’ll not complain to earth yet, but to Heaven.”
Now, there you have the essence of renaissance, humanism. He’s going to complain to heaven because he can die. It’s all right for him to swing his sword and kill others, but for him a hero, to bleed and to die, that means life is meaningless and he is going to complain to heaven. You better be sure of it. That’s the modern mood. If things don’t work out well for me what’s a God for. I am quoting something I actually once heard someone say. I think that summed very, very tellingly the entire modern mood.
Well, that type of temperament is still with us in a very much weakened form and a whining form. Chapman’s hero is strutting and being glorious. The modern relic of the old hero is a whiner and a complainer. We are at the end of an age of this kind of garbage. This is why this is so important a time for us as Christians. It’s not a time for half Christians and Sunday morning Christians but full-time Christians because we have a world to conquer. We’re not glad to be conquering it if we are fearful.
One of my favorite stories is about two men who left work, their office, late one night and their car was down a little ways on a block in a parking lot. They saw two young hoodlums following them. Two men and two hoodlums in the back and they got scared. The one said to the other, “Let’s hurry and get in the car. There are two of them and we’re alone.” I think that’s the attitude of a lot of Christians today and of too many conservatives.
On the one hand, they talk about being the majority. On the other hand as they face the evil, man, suddenly, they’re scared and alone and they’re talking about survivalism and holing up and making a last stand. Well, our task is to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth. We cannot do it with a baggage or falls opinion, of falls doctrines.
I want to discuss briefly another book, a very, very important one. It’s not a popular book, it’s not easy reading, but it’s urgent reading I would say for anyone interested in economics or history or law because it is simply a collection of a number of key Supreme Court and other legal decisions, which have led us to our present monetary plight. The author is a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School where he teaches constitutional law, administrative law and other courses. His name is Henry Mark Holzer, H-O-L-Z-E-R. The title of the book is Government’s Money Monopoly. The cost is 19.95. It is published by Books in Focus, P.O. Box 3481 Grand Central Station New York, NY 10163.
Now, this is a book that economists should read and historians as well and lawyers. It should be in libraries so colleges should not be without it.
What professor Holzer does is to trace the history of monetary debasement in the United States. In the constitutional era, this is closely associated with a doctrine that is of incalculable theological importance, the doctrine of sovereignty or lordship, which the bible says belongs to God alone. Lordship and sovereignty are the same words. One is a little more old-fashioned.
Because of our Christian background and Washington’s insistence, the word sovereignty was left out of constitution. There was no real disagreement on that. They had just gotten through fighting a sovereign power. They believed in the sovereignty of God and they had no desire to create a sovereign state. The word sovereignty does not appear in the constitution.
Let me add that more than once I called attention to that fact in my testimony and various church and state trials. The interesting thing to me is that on each occasion, the judge and the state or federal attorney have manifested surprise of that fact. Sovereignty is so routinely taken for granted by them.
Well, Holzer, besides giving us a history of monetary debasement, gives us and this is a collection of legal opinions with some commentary, dealing precisely with that issue. Alexander Hamilton who justified the national bank very early asserted sovereignty, the sovereignty of the federal government.
In McCulloch versus Maryland, John Marshall did set that forth very clearly. Since then, we’ve had a number of legal tender cases, all of which have furthered this doctrine of sovereignty so that today, the United States federal government is God walking on earth.
Let me ask a question now of Chuck Wagoner here. Chuck, did I ever tell my story about John Marshall? I intended to several times, I did that tell that story.
Chuck Wagoner: About?
R.J. Rushdoony: Yes, about …
Chuck Wagoner: [inaudible 00:44:30]
R.J. Rushdoony: [inaudible 00:44:31], yes. All right. Now, this is the legal decision we’ve had in these sovereignty cases so that today, it’s no wonder that the federal government is striking at the Christian faith. After all, the God of scriptures is a sovereign God, the sovereign God. How can another sovereign tolerate the claims of a sovereign within his realm? For this reason, the federal government today is visibly trying to disallow the claims of the sovereign God.
We are in a theological war and that war is going to be settled by this question. Whom do Americans recognize as the true God, the God of Jesus Christ, the triune god of scripture or the federal government? This is the question.
Well now, we’ve been dealing with some very serious things so let’s turn to something a little lighter, something that happened just a few years ago in Florida. The firemen were called because an 1800-pound horse had fallen through the roof of an old septic tank. The horse was mired up to its shoulders and the septic tank was not a job the firemen were very happy with. They had trouble. Several times, they almost had the horse out and he slipped and fell back in. There was a lot of profanity on the part of the fireman who by that time were very annoyed. They were using an auto tow truck.
Well, finally, they just about had the horse out when a skunk wondered on at the scene and shot them all up. That has to be on all time hard luck story for a fireman. That was by the way at a Vero Beach, Florida wherever that is.
Well, I’d like to share with you now a poem which is a great favorite of mine by a poet who died within the lifetime of some of us, Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Chesterton was born in 1874, was a very delightful and remarkable man, a thoroughly dedicated Christian scholar who did write some very lovely poetry.
What I’m going to read is Lepanto. Now, Lepanto is a ballad. It tells the story of the Battle of Lepanto which was fought on October 7th 1571 between the Turkish navy and the combined navy of a Holy League of Christian Nations. The Turks just conquered Cyprus. They were a tremendous threat to all of Europe. Pope Pius V called for Europe to rally to the defend Christendom against the Turks.
Most of the forces were supplied by Venus and Philip II of Spain. Philip gave the general command of the Christian fleet to Don John of Austria, his illegitimate son. Herein lies a story too. The legitimate son was an idiot who did a lot to contribute to the downfall of the Spanish empire. Everyone knew how bad he was. Don John seemed more like an old-fashioned knight but because he was illegitimate, he could not inherit the realm. All his life, Don John of Austria charged this way and that hoping to earn a kingdom for himself.
In fact, behind the bitter ambitious war against the Netherlands was a dream of perhaps reconquering that realm or subduing it and making it a realm for Don John. Well, the battle resulted in a tremendous victory for the Christians. The Turkish fleet and men outnumbered the Christians, but the Christian fleet had better boats and better discipline and they were to withstand this tremendous onslaught. The Turks lost about 20,000 men, the Christians about 8,000 and the naval power of the Turks never recovered from that battle. It was also the last major battle in which galleys were used to any extent.
Now, to Lepanto, “White founts falling in the court of the sun, and the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run. There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared. It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard. It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips, for the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships. They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy. They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea. And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss and called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross. The cold queen of England is looking in the glass. The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass. From evening isles, fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun and the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. Dim drums throbbing in the hills half heard, where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred, where risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall, the last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall.
“The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung, that once went singing southward when all the world was young. In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade. Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far, Don John of Austria is going to the war. Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold, in the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold, torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums. Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes. Don John laughing in the brave beard curled, spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world, holding his head up for a flag of all the free. Love-light of Spain hurrah. Death-light of Africa! Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
“Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star, Don John of Austria is going to the war. He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees. His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas. He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease and he strides among the treetops and is taller than the trees, and his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing. Giants and the Genii, multiplex of wing and eye, whose strong obedience broke the sky when Solomon was king. They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn from temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn. They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea where a fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be.
“On them, the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl, splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl. They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground. They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound and he saith, ‘Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide, and sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide, and chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest, for that which was our trouble comes again out of the west. We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under the sun, of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done, but a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know the voice that shook our palaces four hundred years ago. It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not fate. It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate. It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth. Put down your feet upon him that our peace be on the earth.’ For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar. Don John of Austria is going to the war. Sudden and still, hurrah, bolt from Iberia. Don John of Austria is gone by Alcalar.
“St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north. Don John of Austria is girt and going forth. Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift and the sea folk labor and the red sails lift. He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone. The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone. The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes and dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise, and Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room, and Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom, and Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee, but Don John of Austria is riding to the sea. Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips, trumpet that sayeth ha! Domino Gloria. Don John of Austria is shouting to the ships.
“King Philip’s in his closet with a fleece about his neck. Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck. The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin, and little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in. King Philip holds a crystal phial that has colors like the moon, he touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon, and his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day, and death is in the phial, and the end of noble work, but Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk. Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed. Booms away past Italy the rumors of his raid. Gun upon gun, ha! Ha. Gun upon gun, hurrah. Don John of Austria Has loosed the cannonade.
“The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke. Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke. The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year, the secret window whence the world looks small and very dear. He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea the crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery. They fling great shadows foe-wards, marking cross and castle dark. They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark and above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs, and below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs, Christian captives sick and sunless, all a laboring race repines like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines. They are lost like slaves that sweat and in the skies of morning hung the stairways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
“They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon. Many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell, and he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign. Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line. Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop, scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds, breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds, thronging of the thousands up that labor under sea white for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty. Vivat Hispania. Domino Gloria. Don John of Austria has set his people free.
“Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath. Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath. He sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain, up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain, and he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade. Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.”
You see the figure at the end, Cervantes, was one of the knights who fought with Don John of Austria. Apparently, elements of what Don John’s vain quest for a throne represented went into the making of Don Quixote. In spite of that, Don John won a great victory for Christendom.
Well, there is much more as usual that I want to go into, but we’ll have to hold those for perhaps next time or the time after. I have a number of things in mind for the next two Easy Chairs. I do look forward to these and when I read, as I do constantly, I’m always marking something and saying, “Now, that I have to share with everybody.”
Thanks for listening. It’s a real joy. This is the December the 22nd 1981. I forgot the date of this Easy Chair at the beginning.
Well, let me see. One of the things I do, I have a minute or two more, want to go into. I don’t know which time, but I shall be going into very shortly, something I touched on, the defeatism that is so prevalent among Christians and conservatives. I also want to go into the matter of human sacrifice. A very interesting book has been written on the subject and a great many very important things that said therein. Well, it will have to wait until next time or the time after or the time after. Thank you and goodbye.
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