Saturday, January 14, 2006

Merlin on war

My kid keeps stealing my book I'm reading for my bookclub. Title: The Once and Future King by T. H. White. This is about King Arthur, a classic book, I'm told. I'm going to have to buy another copy because I need to finish reading for our meeting next week.

So far, Merlin is my favorite character of all. When I read Merlin's thoughts on war, the words seemed so apropros to this time. These came from Merlin's counseling session with a young naive King Arthur:
"...There is no excuse for war, none whatever, and whatever the wrong which your nation might be doing to mine---short of war---my nation would be in the wrong if it started a war so as to redress it...

...Any reasoning man...who keeps a steady mind, can tell which side is the aggressor in ninety wars out of a hundred. He can see which side is likely to benefit by going to war in the first place, and that is a strong reason for suspicion. He can see which side began to make the threat of force or was the first to arm itself. And finally he can often put his finger on the one who struck the first blow.

...Unless you can make the world wag better than it does at present, King, your reign will be an endless series of petty battles, in which the aggressions will either be from spiteful reasons or from sporting ones, and in which the poor man will be the only one who dies...."
Chapter IV, from "The Queen of Air and Darkness". Merlin the wizard as pacifist: Gee, I wonder what the author, T. H. White, was thinking. I need to look up his bio. The book was published in 1939. Anybody know? Anyways, too bad we don't have a Merlin advising our king and too bad our king is far from being a King Arthur.