Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sanctity of Property, and The Necessity of Violence

"Well, Huw," said Mr. Gruffydd, "some trouble with the Philistines, then?"

"Yes, sir," I said.

"How did this pencil-box come home like this?" Mr. Gruffydd asked me. "I asked you to take care of it."

"From the way he came home," my father said, "I wonder he had the sense to bring it with him."

"Let Huw answer, Mr. Morgan," said Mr. Gruffydd. "Property must not be broken like this without some action taken to stop it happening twice. Huw had it in his care. He was not to blame. Who was?"

"Those who left their marks on him," said my father.

"I was out of the room when it was done, Mr. Gruffydd," I said, "but I said I would fight all of them, and I will. So they shall have payment for it, whomever they were."

"Kennel-sweepings," said Mr. Gruffydd, "and only kennel-sweepings could smash a little box like this. I am in a mind to cut myself a handful of twigs and go down there tomorrow and take the skin off their backs."

"Good," said my mother, "and burn the old place up."

"Hisht, girl," said my father. "Better to let Huw fight his own way, Mr. Gruffydd. I am just as able to go down there, and God help them if I did. But it is Huw's fight. Not ours."

"It is our fight, Mr. Morgan," Mr. Gruffydd said, and putting the box on the table. "Huw can teach them he is the better with his fists, but he will never teach them the sanctity of property. The vandal is taught physical fear by superior violence, but he cannot be taught to think."

"Will twigs do any better?" asked my father, and pulling on his pipe not to smile.

"Far better than fists," said Mr. Gruffydd, and starting to laugh, "for fists are between man and man. But twigs and reason are the universal law, good for all men. Fists will teach you to fight better if you have heart and head, and your fists will teach other men to let you have your share of the road in peace. But twigs and a talk will teach you to think to live better. And that is why I am in a mind to go down there to-morrow morning."

"I am going to mend the box, Mr. Gruffydd," I said. "There will be no signs when I have done with it. Like new, indeed."

Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley