Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Moral Principle gets wet

Tarr Steps - Exmoor

A Moral Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough for but one.

“Down, you base thing!” thundered the Moral Principle, “and let me pass over you!” 

The Material Interest merely looked in the other’s eyes without saying anything. 

“Ah,” said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, “let us draw lots to see which shall retire till the other has crossed.” 

The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an unwavering stare. 

“In order to avoid a conflict,” the Moral Principle resumed, somewhat uneasily, “I shall myself lie down and let you walk over me.” 

Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange coincidence it was its own tongue. “I don’t think you are very good walking,” it said. “I am a little particular about what I have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water.” 

It occurred that way.

Ambrose Bierce - Fantastic Fables (1899)

One of Bierce's many word cartoons where the reader supplies their own image. A great alternative for those who can't draw. My mental image for Bierce's two chaps on the bridge is in the style of a Punch cartoon by Sir John Tenniel. For me it maintains the vintage aura.

Mind you, although there is a vintage aspect to Moral Principles fighting Material Interests on a bridge, the outcome is bang up to date.

From Wikipedia

2 comments:

James Higham said...

Can the two ever be reconciled?

A K Haart said...

James - only if the Moral Principle has the last say.