I’ve found various arguments in this thread concerning, inter alia, the Spanish Inquisition, rather fascinating, especially since my position stands somewhat in between the correspondents therein (incidentally, the poster in that thread called “Jane” was substantially influential in the actualisation of my reversion from atheism a few years back through my observing over the years in various fora her utter decency under intense ad-hominem pressure.)
Broadly speaking, while I suspect much English and French (from which a fair proportion of the former is derived) calumny concerning the Spanish Inquisition was exaggerated and paid inadequate attention to the general coarsening of European manners prevalent for most of its operation, talk of its “mercy” seems question-begging at best, and blithe of grave procedural concerns at worst.
Admittedly on a gut level at present, it also seems implausible and potentially disingenuous for certain ultramontane controversialists to assign the preponderance of blame for postulated abuses under the Spanish Inquisition’s ægis to agents of the Castilian, Aragonese and (from 1713-1834) Spanish Crowns. I see nothing inherent to the Cloth per se which renders those in said estates/orders more immune from cruelty than would pertain to diligent persons in lay offices.
From what I can discern, journalists tend to make far too much bother about purported leadership tensions in political parties. Above a certain point, increased titular power brings diminishing returns in terms of influence.
Take my own party, for instance. While I’m not too keen on either of the Hon. Members for Wentworth or Higgins (much preferring the Hon. Member for Bradfield), both men have nonetheless maintained in their public life a certain integrity and dignity which seems ill-served by their respective ambitious acolytes.
Assertions that Mr Costello faces a stark choice between assuming the Liberal Leadership and resigning as an MP strike me as fatuous. The Station of back-bench MP is a fine one which allows for greater detachment from the sharp end of decisions than are requisite to one fully bound by considerations of Cabinet Solidarity while still allowing for the excercise of discernment and advocacy.
As such, so long as he remains capable of doing so (confirmed by the occasional customary bout of support from his electors and pre-selectors), I see no impediment to Mr Costello honourably discharging his duties as Member for Higgins. Should it somehow come to pass that Mr Costello is eventually prevailed upon to be made Leader of the Commonwealth Parliamentary wing of my party, his resistance to flattery shown so far should place him in good stead.
When I consider men of golden talents,
I’m delighted, in my introverted way,
To discover, as I’m drawing up the balance,
How much we have in common, I and they.
Like Burns, I have a weakness for the bottle,
Like Shakespeare, little Latin and less Greek;
I bite my fingernails like Aristotle;
Like Thackeray, I have a snobbish streak.
I’m afflicted with the vanity of Byron,
I’ve inherited the spitefulness of Pope;
Like Petrarch, I’m a sucker for a siren,
Like Milton, I’ve a tendency to mope.
My spelling is suggestive of a Chaucer;
Like Johnson, well, I do not wish to die
(I also drink my coffee from the saucer);
And if Goldsmith was a parrot, so am I.
Like Villon, I have debits by the carload,
Like Swinburn, I’m afraid I need a nurse;
By my dicing is Christopher out-Marlowed,
And I dream as much as Coleridge, only worse.
In comparison with men of golden talents,
I am all a man of talent ought to be;
I resemble every genius in his vice, however heinous –
Yet I write so much like me.
– Ogden Nash / Good Intentions. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1942. pp. 81-82.