Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Golden Quotebook: Saki on Turkish Baths and Massacres

On this momentous date, when we commemorate both the attack on the Twin Towers twelve years ago and General Pinochet’s coup d’état of 1973 in Chile (yes, indeed: him that ‘brought Democracy to Chile’ in the Iron Lady’s immortal words), it is perhaps a useful thing to remind ourselves that not all evil actually has a purpose. Or, in the words of the inimitable Hector Hugh Munro:

Spayley had grasped the fact that people will do things from a sense of duty which they would never attempt as a pleasure. There are thousands of respectable middle-class men who, if you found them unexpectedly in a Turkish bath, would explain in all sincerity that a doctor had ordered them to take Tur­kish baths; if you told them in return that you went there because you liked it, they would stare in pained wonder at the frivolity of your motive. In the same way, whenever a massacre of Armenians is reported from Asia Minor, every one assumes that it has been carried out "under orders" from somewhere or another; no one seems to think that there are people who might like to kill their neighbours now and then.

[Saki: ‘Filboid Studge, the story of a mouse that helped’.]

Armenia 1915


  1. That looks horrific. Human beings can be such brutes. Perhaps the monkeys are better off eh?


  2. Some monkeys eat other monkeys... I fear Darwin was right...