From The Book of the Courtier (trans. George Bull):
It is true that, through the favour of the stars or of Nature, certain people come into the world endowed with such gifts that they seem not to have been born but to have been formed by some god with his own hands and blessed with every possible advantage of mind and body. Similarly, there are many to be found so uncouth and absurd that it can be believed simply that Nature was motivated by spite or mockery in bringing them into the world at all.
Castiglione is an important read for conservatives. The book is written as a fictionalised account of a conversation between various public intellectuals of the day. Although we can find ourselves disagreeing with particular ideas (that noble birth was necessary for excellence, for example), we can still appreciate the style and manner in which ideas are canvassed and explored. Morally excellent people can disagree, but we all remain committed to excellence, defending the elite and civilised against barbarism and nihilism.
Conservatives gain nothing by declaring themselves ideology-free. We should be nothing but ideological, nothing but idealistic. If we aren’t, we have no grounds to criticise political opponents when they fail to uphold ideals such as dignity, civility, and cultural pride.
Castiglione speaks to modern conservatives in a way that Thatcher, Hayek, and Andrew Bolt cannot. He speaks to our better natures, rather than to our worst.
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- Ignore the (other) advice, Ed. Be your own man (thetimes.co.uk)
- Photographs of the Countess de Castiglione (emblah13.wordpress.com)
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