Friday, June 5, 2015

Scholars impress

They sat gazing at me with bewildered apprehension. Lucinda sought or offered reassurance by surreptitiously clasping her brother's hand.
            "I don't understand how you know all this,' said Lucian. 'You seem to know things that no one could know except us."
            "I am a scholar," I said. "Few mysteries are impenetrable to the trained mind."
            They continued, however, to gaze at me with a sort of superstitious dread, as if supposing me studied in some darker and more secret learning than is to be found in the statutes of Edward I or the books of Glanvil and Bracton. My heart warmed to these delightful young people: it was such a different response from any I could have hoped for in Lincoln's Inn, where my carefully reasoned deductions would have been described as mere guesswork, or else as so childishly simple that the members of the Nursery, had they not been occupied with more important matters, could have worked them out for themselves in half the time.

--Sarah Caudwell, The Shortest Way to Hades (New York: Dell, 1995), pp. 270-71. (copyright 1984)

"But you do find things out, don't you? Things that one wouldn't expect."
            "It is by way," I said, not ungratified, "of being my profession. The Scholar is dedicated to the pursuit of Truth, most of all when she is hidden and elusive."
            "Isn't the pursuit sometimes fruitless?"
            "Where nothing at all is known, even Scholarship is helpless; but even a small amount of information, perhaps of little apparent relevance, will enable the Scholar to detect the minute inconsistencies which betray the boundary between truth and falsehood. It is logically impossible, you see, for a lie to be perfectly consistent with truth: in order to tell an un-[page break] detectable lie, it would be necessary to invent an alternative universe."
Id. at 286-87.

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