Skimpole on Bees

    Mr. Skimpole was as agreeable at breakfast, as he had been over-night. There was honey on the table, and it led him into a discourse about Bees. He had no objection to honey, he said (and I should think he had not, for he seemed to like it), but he protested against the overweening assumptions of Bees. He didn't at all see why the busy Bee should be proposed as a model to him; he supposed the Bee liked to make honey, or he wouldn't do it--nobody asked him. It was not necessary for the Bee to make such a merit of his tastes. If every confectioner went buzzing about the world, banging against everything that came in his way, and egotistically calling upon everybody to take notice that he was going to his work and must not be interrupted, the world would be quite an unsupportable place. Then, after all, it was a ridiculous position, to be smoked out of your fortune with brimstone, as soon as you had made it. You would have a very mean opinion of a Manchester man, if he spun cotton for no other purpose. He must say he thought a Drone the embodiment of a pleasanter and wiser idea. The Drone said, unaffectedly, 'You will excuse me; I really cannot attend to the shop! I find myself in a world in which there is so much to see, and so short a time to see it in, that I must take the liberty of looking about me, and begging to be provided for by somebody who doesn't want to look about him.' This appeared to Mr. Skimpole to be the Drone philosophy, and he thought it a very good philosophy--always supposing the Drone to be willing to be on good terms with the Bee; which, so far as he knew, the easy fellow always was, if the consequential creature would only let him, and not be so conceited about his honey!
Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1852-3) chap. viii.

June 29, 2004 in Apiary | Comments (0)

Seven Roads of Japan

Shinagawa: external link to larger image
After the Reformation of the Taika Era (645) and the establishment of an elaborate central government system with administrative and judicial institutions modeled after the Tang Dynasty in China, a road network covering all of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu was established. This public road network system on a nationwide scale is the system of Seven Roads, and it included the famous Tokaido, Tosando, Hokurikudo, San-indo, San-yodo, Nankaido, and Saikaido.
They were built by adapting to and overcoming the restrictions of Japan's complex topography, and became the prototype of highways and roads in later periods. Arterial railways constructed after the Meiji Era and the expressways that have successively opened since 1964 roughly follow the same routes taken by these roads. In short, the Seven Roads established during this age are the backbone of today's traffic routes in Japan
From the History of Japanese Roads, courtesy of the Road Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
The image of Shinagawa (the first stop on the Tokaido) is from Ando Hiroshige's "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido" (first, or Hoeido, series) which can be found here at the superb Woodblock Prints of Ando Hiroshige website.

June 24, 2004 | Comments (0)


There are some centuries which, in arts and studies (not to mention other matters), presume to remake everything, because they know how to make nothing.
Giacomo Leopardi, Thoughts (Pensieri), trans. by J.G. Nichols (Hesperus Press, 2002).

June 6, 2004 | Comments (0)


Asked why the Shakers, who expected the end of the world at any moment, were nevertheless consummate farmers and craftsmen, Thomas Merton replied: "When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well."
Wendell Berry, "Discipline and Hope," in A Continuous Harmony (1972).

June 1, 2004 | Comments (0)