Sunday, February 18, 2024

"The only guide to a man is his conscience"

On Sundays, The Free Press publishes Douglas Murray's "Things Worth Remembering," essays about things he has memorized. For the past twelve months, he chose poems. For the next twelve, it will be speeches. His first entry is from a speech delivered by Winston Churchill, a eulogy for Neville Chamberlain delivered in the House of Commons. Chamberlain had advocated the appeasement of Hitler. Churchill had vigorously disagreed. Events had proven Churchill right. But Churchill's eulogy was nevertheless, Murray writes, a "Gracious Farewell." The portion Murray quotes:
It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise, life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values. History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.

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