Twilight of the Heroes

Downton Abbey’s fourth season premiered tonight. What a pity it is that the humanitarian impulses of chivalry have been lost, lost forever, to an epoch of gape and glot masquerading under the guise of ‘progress,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘equality.’

I don’t care if some sniveling disciple of Howard Zinn drones on about the show’s Romantic infatuation with the beneficiaries of Edwardian society. I don’t care if it offends the militant sensibilities of feminism’s avant-garde. Men of a certain station should drink whisky, smoke cigars, read Macaulay, challenge blackguards, suppress feelings, and love one woman for their entire life. They should live their lives in a heroic metre, not because the dehumanizing realities of life are amicable to heroism, but because the aristocratic refusal to abide by them keeps alive that flicker which was once a flame prior to the advent of Nietzsche, nihilism, and social history.

Intelligence is a fine thing. Education is even finer. But neither approximates the instinctual preference for death over dishonour and fealty over ‘freedom of choice.’ Such noble aspirations were extinguished as soon as Butcher Cumberland triumphed over the Jacobites at Culloden and Walter Scott published his subtle critique of their backwardness. They became obsolete as soon as it was made fashionable to demystify the story of Western civilization and to bludgeon it beyond all recognition, until all school children took it for granted that ‘oppression’ and ‘prejudice’ characterized its luminaries.

Whenever a man strikes us as bigoted, benighted, or retrogressive, we must remember that his apparent spleen may owe itself in part to the fact that he has played the game of life to a more elevated tune than his peers, and is therefore disgusted by the deadening implications of modern society’s lust for mediocrity.

And these people wonder why one in four women claim to have been sexually assaulted. Fine. Discount the lies and exaggerations. In either case, it’s because there’s no one there to challenge these infernal bastards to a duel. Dredge up all the statistics and conceited Victorian ridicule that you want. Their shortcomings do not negate the pursuit of the ideal.

You say ‘progress,’ I say ‘defaillance.’ The game is played correctly by only a precious few anymore. All its piss and vinegar have been quenched.

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