January 2, 2005

In the Winters

"I see you very plainly, sir," she said. "I see you for the hypocrite you are. You make your voice solicitous and sympathetic, but your heart is hard and unforgiving. You have won men over by saying they can be better men and love one another, but better men for you are the better sort, the rich and mighty who have all in their hands and yet want more. There are the men who have your love. Those who are truly in need of love and grace and pity, they go disregarded and reviled. From your rich friends you demand only that they continue as before, keeping all and sharing none. From the rest you demand that which they cannot give. You demand of them sobriety, thrift, truth, prudence, order. You demand industriousness and fidelity. You demand chastity and virtue, piety and obedience. You demand respect, discipline, hard work and prayer."

The Master began to recover something of his wits. "For this you indict me?" he said, incredulous. "Is sobriety a vice in your estimation, mistress? Chastity? Discipline? Why should such things not be asked of men?"

"Because men cannot give them!" Elizabeth cried. "Not in the measure you require. They are frail. And when they cannot answer your demands, you judge them and condemn them...."

-- Ronan Bennett, Havoc, in Its Third Year