Sunday, 18 March 2012


I am a snapper up of unconsidered trifles. (I suppose John Aubrey was the frst blogger, perhaps followed by Robert Burton, and both of these are my great soul-mates and favourites.) I found this posted anonymously on the Daily Telegraph site in a comment on a tiresomely politically correct blog post and thought it worth repeating:

Tolstoy wrote:
“The fifth rule of our Lord is that we should take special pains to cultivate the same kind of regard for people of foreign countries, and for those generally who do not belong to us, or even have an antipathy to us, which we already entertain towards our own people, and those who are in sympathy with us.”
On which G.K.Chesterton commented:

“I should very much like to know where in the whole of the New Testament the author finds this violent, unnatural, and immoral proposition.”

On first reading Tolstoy's dictum seems admirable, an example of loving one's neighbour as oneself, but replace 'foreign countries' with 'other people's parents or wives' and our 'own people' with 'our parents or wife'.

I come quite close to fulfilling Tolstoy's injunction.  I feel I  love every country with all my heart, as much as my own one though I do know England (or rather Great Britain) is the best one. And not only do I live in a very foreign country but I almost avoid other British people here. But love of one's country is rather like love for one's mother and love of foreign countries a bit like other love of other women.

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