Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Four ultimate types"

Through all my own dreams, especially waking dreams, there run and caper and collide only four characters, who seem to sum up the four ultimate types of our existence. These four figures are: St. George and the Dragon, and the Princess offered to the Dragon, and the Princess’s father, who was (if I remember right) the King of Egypt. You have everything in those figures: active virtue destroying evil; passive virtue enduring evil; ignorance or convention permitting evil; and Evil. In these four figures also can be found the real and sane limits of toleration. I admire St. George for being sincere in his wish to save the Princess’s life, because it is an entirely good and healthy wish. I am ready to admire the Princess’s wish to be eaten by the Dragon as part of her religious duties; for the Princess is generous, if a little perverse. I am even ready to admire the sincerity of the silly old potentate of Egypt who gave up his daughter to a dragon because it had always been done in his set. But there is a limit, the ultimate limit of the universe, and I refuse to admire the dragon because he regarded the Princess with a sincere enthusiasm, and honestly believed that she would do him good.

– The Illustrated London News, 29 October 1910.

The latest offering from The Hebdomadal Chesterton, to which you should all be subscribed.

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