Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Scoundrels With Golden Hearts"

"Most men--it is my experience--are neither virtuous nor scoundrels, good-hearted or bad-hearted. They are a little of one thing and a little of the other and nothing for any length of time: ignoble mediocrities. But a few men always remain true to a single extreme character: these are the men who leave a strong mark in history, and I should divide them into four classes. First there are the scoundrels with stony hearts...Next come the virtuous men with equally stony hearts...The third class are the virtuous men with golden hearts...And last and most rarely found are the scoundrels with golden hearts...It is the scoundrels with the golden hearts...who make the most valuable friends in time of need. You expect nothing from them. They are entirely without principle, as they themselves acknowledge, and only consider their own advantage. But go to them when in desperate trouble and say, "For God's sake do so-and-so for me," and they will almost certainly do it--not as a friendly favor but, they will say, because it fits in with their own crooked plans: and you are forbidden to thank them. These...are gamblers and spendthrifts; but that is at least better than being misers. They also associate constantly with drunkards, assassins, crooked businessmen and procurers; yet you seldom see them greatly the worse for liquor themselves, and if they arrange for an assassination you may be sure that the victim will not be greatly mourned, and they defraud the rich defrauders rather than the innocent and needy, and they consort with no woman against her will."

--from Claudius the God, Robert Graves.

1 comment:

John said...

The 'scoundrel with a heart of gold' sounds a lot like Mike, eh?