Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Look Down, Look Down, Sweet Jesus Doesn't Care! (Or Does He?)

I love the internet!
There are so many
awesome Les Mis book
covers out there.
I'll start with this classic look.
Thought I forgot, didn't ya? Well, no, but I am already behind schedule. Never mind, it's fun, and I'll catch up soon. 

So, Book 1 of Volume 1 (Fantine - who has yet to make an appearance) of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. (This gets me to page 55 of 959, or 5%, according to my Kindle version.)

Book First - A Just Man
Introducing the Just Man himself, M. Myriel, Bishop of D--- (also known as Monseigneur Welcome because he is so, well, just, and welcome), who has made quite the example of himself. Gave up the palace and carriage and money, lives in a little single-story house that used to be the overcrowded hospital, except M. Myriel noted that the patients would fit better in the palace, and he and his sister and her servant would fit better in the house. Likewise, the riches that tended to accompany bishops would better serve the needy, and whenever he manages to get more money, he finds someone to pass it on to. And not only that, but he uses wit and kindness to show others how to make similar sacrifices:

  • Meeting the mayor of a nearby city while riding on an ass, much to the startled amusement of the citizenry, he says, "...I perceive that I shock you. You think it very arrogant in a poor priest to ride an animal which was used by Jesus Christ. I have done so from necessity, I assure you, and not from vanity." (p.22)
  • When setting off to visit a remote village through an area where brigands (lovely word!) have been roaming, he refuses escorts so as not to endanger them. He is begged not to go, because he is risking his life, and replies, "...is that really all? I am not in the world to guard my own life, but to guard souls." (p.34)
  • Monseigneur Welcome's general disposition and constant philosophy - 'There are men who toil at extracting gold; he toiled at the extraction of pity. Universal misery was his mine. The sadness which reigned everywhere was but an excuse for unfailing kindness. Love each other; he declared this to be complete, desired nothing further, and that was the whole of his doctrine.' (p.54)
So, this is the extraordinary man with an exalted rank who lived a simple life of goodness. His 'dwelling... was exquisitely clean from top to bottom. This was the sole luxury which the Bishop permitted. He said, "That takes nothing from the poor."
'It must be confessed, however, that he still retained from his former possessions six silver knives and forks and a soup-ladle... [which] glistened splendidly upon the coarse linen cloth....
'To this silverware must be added two large candlesticks of massive silver, which he had inherited from a great-aunt.' (p.31)

(Are you humming, "You must use this precious silver..." yet? Slow down! That's the next Book!)

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