Equestrian Portrait of Cornelis and also Michiel Pompe van Meerdervoort via Their Tutor and also Coachmale, byAelbert Cuyp, c.1652–53. The Metropolitan Museum of Art,The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931.

You are watching: A man who never loves gives no hostage to fortune

He that hath wife and children hath provided hosteras to fortune, for they are impediments to good enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.—Francis Bacon

Councilor to Queen Elizabeth, lord chancellor to King James I, believed to be the wisest guy in Shakespeare’s England also, Sir Francis overlooked the threat on the other side of the exadjust. His advice is sound, but the possibilities of acting on it uneasily accessible to the impediments—to wife and kids held hostage to the fortune of having actually been born or married to a villain, a bankrupt, or a fool. The uneven distribution of the sentiment favored the interemainder of the state, a policy that Lord Bacon fondly adopted. He was an attentive courtier skilled at the seeking of grace and also privilege from the perfumed hand of majesty, deft at the removals of unpleasing reality, and also through a handsome rotate of expression he circumvented the awkward fact that family members is a game of opportunity. 

A throw of the dice, sometimes lucky, as regularly not, the question of nurture as opposed to nature as well and also truly answered by an astrological authorize or a poisoned fig as by a storm at sea, a DNA sequence, or a marital relationship to the king of France. Families flourish as do the flowers and the weeds, of their very own accord and as they will. Sometimes they lay waste to empires; sometimes they achieve the dignity of a dress label, however always they furnish a society through its living tproblem and its intimations of immortality, imcomponent to the individual a feeling of self if not a criminal document or a noble name.

Which is as near to a ethical as is likely to be attracted from the message and also illustration gathered in this concern of Lapham’s Quarterly. The topic is better addressed with memoir and biography than with a manifesto or a sermon. But during the forthcoming election year, we can expect recurring recommendation to “household values” in the project speeches supplying safe return to the actual America dvery own house in a painting by Norman Rockwell, and so it’s worth at least the hazard of a guess as to what the words suppose. Which households, and also what values? The Kennedys playing footround in McLean, Virginia? The Corleones contemplating a murder on Long Island? Joan Crawford reading to her kids from A Day in Fairy Land ?

The Three Ages of Woman (detail), by Gustav Klimt, 1905. Galleria Nazionale d"Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy. 

The acquainted expression tends to uncover me at a loss bereason the family members values that I require to be my own are four a century behind the times, more in line via those espooffered by Lord Bacon than through those that sustain the ratings of television situation comedy. I was born into a family derived from ancestors who had actually settled in New England in the 1630s, brought up listening to stories told around the risings and also reversals of its fortunes through the passing of the generations—of honor won at Bunker Hill and Saratoga, reputation shed in the War of 1812; of ship captains in the beforehand China profession, some of whom passed away safe and also well-off at house in Maine, others reported absent at sea somewbelow west of Hawaii and also eastern of Borneo. The great-grandpa for whom I was called in 1935 had actually been a founder of what became the Texas Oil Company kind of, which gave him via a save of wealth that his eldest child, a gambler and also a sportsmale, managed to utterly ruin. During my grandfather’s term as mayor of San Francisco in the 1940s, assorted members of the extfinished family (never-before-watched in-legislations, near and far-off cousins) gathered for Christmas at his house on Jackson Street to play cards and talk about City Hall politics and also the war. Instead of saying grace, my grandfather was given to declaiming “The Wreck of the Hesperus” or “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”; the younger children were expected to understand, and also if dubbed upon to stand also on their chairs and remention, the verses of Rudyard Kipling or Lewis Carroll. Runs of poor luck were to be expected, as it wregarding be expected that the Walrus and also the Carpenter would dine on oysters, or that at leastern among the grandkids would certainly topple challenge down right into the fruit bowl or the soup. To my limited knowledge at the age of ten, household was simply the method things were, all present hostperiods to fortune, value measured out in the unalso distribution of power quite than in a scale of justice or by the levels of sentiment.

I was fifteen before I witnessed any kind of develop of television, twenty by the moment I was properly presented to the nuclear Amerihave the right to family happily in residence on netjob-related television—Mom and also Dad, both white and also presumably Protestant, content in their love for one an additional, his steadiness of heart and mind matched by her comforting spirit and knowledgeable regulating of the household that was clean, well-lit, over all nice; 2 kids, both adorable and also neither of them well-known to the police; no crippling disease or babsence civilization anywhere in sight; nobody talking around money. 

I’d never before met such civilization, didn’t understand the neighborhood, however supposedly it is their exemplary innocence and also cinjury that the saviors of the republic these days have actually in mind when they map the reason of many of our sorrows earlier to the degradation of the once-upon-a-time triple-A-rated American family members values. The voices of alarm attract upon a excess of statistics proving the theorem of nationwide decline—around half of all first marriages ending in divorce, 40 percent of America’s children being born to unwed mothers, the high-school dropout price in significant U.S. cities standing at nearly 50 percent, 16.4 million children under the age of eighteenager condemned to live in abject poverty.

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The numbers have actually changed over the distance of the last sixty years, as have actually the situation research studies and the emotional anecdotes, however no matter what the trouble in the forefront of the news—the 1960s sex-related radvancement, the battle in Vietnam, the feminist and civil-civil liberties activities, the 1980s society battle, the stable loss of Christian conscientific research, villainy in Washington—the keepers of the nation’s conscience someexactly how regulate to change the fault from the game in which all current find themselves hosted hostage to the flawed habits of the impediments—on the component of spoiled children, tie-dyed and also degenerate; on the component of spendthrift wives shirking wifely duties; on the part of the country’s political and also corpoprice overlords offering no thshould posterity, content to market out the public great for a mess of exclusive pottage. The economy stumbles into recession, the institutions degeneration, the currency is debased, the middle class implodes, the hope of the future is foreclosed, and also why, pray tell, is that? Not enough family values left in the minds of the totally free and also the hearts of the brave.


The message doesn’t absence for historic antecedent. I listen to President Obama in his weekly resolve preach the prominence of being a parent, or to Rick Santorum at an Iowa dinner say, “We can’t have actually restricted federal government without strong households,” and also I’m come aacquire to a Roguy forum in the late first century bc to hear the emperor Augustus remind the available young bachelors in the crowd of their marital duties to the state. How was Rome to sustain its greatness unmuch less it gave birth to succeeding generations of manly citizens, therefore making its mortality immortal? And wright here were those successive generations to be discovered if the city’s young and also unmarried optimates squandered “all their virile energy on greasy slave girls and nasty Asiatic-Greek prostitutes”? Or, even even more “loathsome,” if they lived a life of sexual debauch that led to no fruitful gain of enterprise, either of virtue or of mischief? Young males “unwilling to perform any type of of their organic social duties” the emperor likens to “beasts” and “brigands,” and as recounted by the poet Robert Graves, the speech can serve as a Tea Party blog short article denouncing gay marital relationship or as an dispute for sealing the nation’s borders versus any kind of immigration, legal or illegal, on the grounds that 44 percent of youngsters under eighteen belong to a minority, forecasting within an additional thirty or forty years the spectacle of an America no much longer recognizable in Normale Rockwell’s family paints.