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Monday: April 24, 2006

Law of the Conservation of Worries

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:13 PM GMT-0500

Ginny, of ChicagoBoyz, wonders whether we tend to worry just as much about our problems today as our ancestors did about theirs, even though theirs were for the most part far more serious. A. E. Housman thought so. Here is what he wrote in a letter to pacifist classicist Gilbert Murray on April 23, 1900:

I rather doubt if man really has much to gain by substituting peace for strife, as you and Jesus Christ recommend. Sic notus Ulixes? do you think you can outwit the resourceful malevolence of Nature? God is not mocked, as St Paul long ago warned the Galatians. When man gets rid of a great trouble he is easier for a little while, but not for long; Nature instantly sets to work to weaken his power of sustaining trouble, and very soon seven pounds is as heavy as fourteen pounds used to be. Last Easter Monday a young woman threw herself into the Lea because her dress looked so shabby amongst the holiday crowd: in other times and countries women have been ravished by half-a-dozen dragoons and taken it less to heart. It looks to me as if the state of mankind always had been and always would be a state of just tolerable discomfort.