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The fair veins and colors are all clear now, and so stern is nature's intent regarding this, that not only will the polish show which is best, but the best will take the most
polish. You shall not merely see they have more virtue 5 than the others, but see that more of virtue more clearly;
and the less virtue there is, the more dimly you shall see what there is of it.
66 hated of David's soul”: see 2 Samuel v. 6-10 for an account of the taking of Jerusalem. — everlasting hills: see Genesis xlix. 26.
No soul can be perfect in an imperfect body: no body perfect without a perfect soul. Every right action and true 10 thought sets the seal of its beauty on person and face;
every wrong action and foul thought its seal of distortion ; and the various aspects of humanity might be read as plainly as a printed history, were it not that the impres
sions are so complex that it must always in some cases 15 (and, in the present state of our knowledge, in all cases) be impossible to decipher them completely.
Nevertheless, the face of a consistently just, and of a consistently unjust person, may always be rightly distinguished at a glance; and if the qualities are continued by
descent through a generation or two, there arises a complete distinction of race. Both moral and physical qualities are communicated by descent far more than they can be developed by education (though both may be destroyed by want of education); and there is as yet no ascertained o limit to the nobleness of person and mind which the human creature may attain by persevering observance of the laws of God respecting its birth and training.
The perfect type of manhood involves the perfections of his body, affections, and intelligence. Material things, 10 therefore, which it is the object of political economy to produce and use (or accumulate for use), are things which serve either to sustain and comfort the body, or exercise rightly the affections and form the intelligence. Whatever truly serves either of these purposes is “useful” 15 to man, wholesome, healthful, helpful, or holy. By seeking such things, man prolongs and increases his life upon the earth.
On the other hand, whatever does not serve either of these purposes, — much more whatever counteracts them, 20 -is in like manner useless to man, unwholesome, unhelpful, or unholy; and by seeking such things man shortens and diminishes his life upon the earth.
And neither with respect to things useful or useless can man's estimate of them alter their nature. Certain sub- 25 stances being good for his food, and others noxious to him, what he thinks or wishes respecting them can neither
change nor prevent their power. If he eats corn, he will live; if nightshade, he will die.
If he produce or make good and beautiful things, they will re-create him (note the solemnity and weight of the 5 word); if bad and ugly things, they will “corrupt” or
“ break in pieces,” – that is, in the exact degree of their power, kill him. For every hour of labor, however enthusiastic or well intended, which he spends for that which is not bread, so much possibility of life is lost to him.
His fancies, likings, beliefs, however brilliant, eager, or obstinate, are of no avail if they are set on a false object. Of all that he has labored for, the eternal law of heaven and earth measures out to him for reward, to the utmost
atom, that part which he ought to have labored for, and 15 withdraws from him (or enforces on him, it may be)
inexorably, that part which he ought not to have labored for until on his summer threshing floor stands his heap of corn; little or much, not according to his labor, but to his
discretion. No “commercial arrangements,” no painting 20 of surfaces, nor alloying of substances, will avail him a
pennyweight. Nature asks of him calmly and inevitably, What have you found, or formed — the right thing or the wrong? By the right thing you shall live; by the wrong
you shall die.
To thoughtless persons it seems otherwise. The world looks to them as if they could cozen it out of some ways and means of life. But they cannot cozen it: they can only cozen their neighbors. The world is not to be cheated of a grain; not so much as a breath of its air can be drawn surreptitiously. For every piece of wise work done, so much life is granted; for every piece of foolish work, nothing; for every piece of wicked work, so much death ; is allotted.
This is as sure as the courses of day and night. But when the means of life are once produced, men, by their various struggles and industries of accumulation or exchange, may variously gather, waste, restrain, or dis- 10 tribute them; necessitating, in proportion to the waste or restraint, accurately, so much more death. The rate and range of additional death are measured by the rate and range of waste, and are inevitable; the only question (determined mostly by fraud in peace, and force in war) 15 is, Who is to die, and how?
Such being the everlasting law of human existence, the essential work of the political economist is to determine what are in reality useful or life-giving things, and by what degrees and kinds of labor they are attainable and 20 distributable.
munera pulveris (moo'ne-ra pool'we-ris or mún'e-ra půl've-ris): gifts of dust. The reference is to a line in Horace (Book I, Ode 28), and the meaning is that the body and the soul have mutual obligations; that the body may have gifts for the soul as truly as the soul for the body. – summer threshing floor : see Daniel ii. 35. Ruskin's writings are full of references to the Bible.
EDWARD ROWLAND SILL
EDWARD ROWLAND SILL (1841-1887) was an American poet and essayist. He was a man of rare character and insight.
This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream :
A craven hung along the battle's edge,
That blue blade that the king's son bears — but this
Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead, 15 And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
shocked: came together with a shock. craven : coward. a blade of finely tempered steel. — sore bestead: in great peril.