of the kingdoms—and the new pattern ofrnconstitutional law—”human rights” in arnEuropean legal context—will supply therngroundwork for this change, but the newrnfunctions of the monarchy are still at therndesign stage. The chance that “thernCrown” will intend this new design tornenhance feelings of democratic confidencernand national sovereignty is notrnvery good. The elite want Europe andrnthe euro, and they will knowingly damagernany tradition that might preventrnthem from having their way.rnThe rule in Britain is that the RoyalrnStandard is flown, and only flown, wherernthe monarch is, and is never flown atrnhalf-mast. There was an outcry againstrnthis splendid rule last year; and it wasrnagreed—to quiet the multitude whosernmourning for Diana was being given arnmarked anti-monarchy spin by thernpress—that during Diana’s funeral, thernPalace would take down the Royal Standardrnand fly the Union flag at half-mast.rnThis concession was received grudginglyrnby those who complained that thernQueen had not understood the People;rnthey said that she had been stubborn andrnhad clung to protocol and had merelyrnbeen told what to do. But it was the Peoplern—as invented for this curious momentrnof national contemplation—whorndid not understand the custom they overthrew.rnThe things that have been of valuernin the British monarchy will be mostrnat risk.rnMichael Stenton teaches modem historyrnfor the Board of Continuing Educationrnat Cambridge, England.rnLetter FromrnFlorencernby Andrei NavrozovrnSomething of ArtrnIn Something of Myself, his 1935 autobiography,rnKipling remembers that whenrnhe was a young man, working for the Englishrnnewspaper in the Punjab, “I nornmore dreamed of dressing myself than Irndid of shutting an inner door or—I wasrngoing to say turning a key in a lock. Butrnwe had no locks.” Then follows a definitionrnof ultimate luxury, “luxury of whichrnI dream still.” It is a definihon which Irnhave tested on a number of persons of myrnacquaintance, if only to see whether flieyrnwould be able to comprehend it in all itsrnvastness, and all of them have admittedrnfliat they cannot. With the reader’s permission,rnI shall keep the magician’srnwhite handkerchief draped over the birdcagernfor a few moments longer.rnIn a recent issue oi Vanity Fair, a manrnintroduced as “a top information-age entrepreneur”rn—which is how one mightrnthink of introducing Lorenzo de’ Medicirn—describes how he bought himself arnprivate jet. He writes anonymously, becausernto his top information-age mindrnflie shame of being thought a sybarite isrngreater than the exultation of being consideredrnrich. Indeed, much of the storyrnof his $I2-million purchase and refurbishmentrnof the Gulfstream III (yes, anrninterior designer called Ms. Guice putsrnin an ostensibly long-legged appearance)rnis a kind of college sophomore’s simulacrumrnof a moral argument involving arnfurtive, shamefaced, mournfully subjectivernconscience (which asks, “who was Irnto spend this kind of money on myself?”)rnand a boastful, big-mouthed, practicalrnnecessity (which induces him to payrn$36,000 “for two flat-screen TVs”). Finallyrnhe drops the name of Warren Buffett,rnone of the world’s wealthiest men,rnwho has christened his private planern”The Indefensible as partial penance forrnthe incongruous luxury.” Ah well, iss awrnright th’n, innit, as fashionable peoplernsay nowadays in the Royal Borough ofrnKensington and Chelsea.rnKipling was nothing if not honest,rnboth as a writer and as a man, and therernis no reason to doubt that while in Lahorernhe never worked less than ten andrn”seldom more than fifteen” hours a day,rndespite persistent fever and chronicrndysentery. “I discovered,” he recalls,rn”that a man can work with a temperaturernof 104, even though next day he has tornask the office who wrote the article.” Typhoidrnand cholera were rampant, andrn”death was always our near companion.”rnAt the start of his six-year stint on the paper,rnhis salary was 100 rupees a month.rnHe was only able to return to London afterrnmanaging to sell the copyrights tornPlain Tales from the Hills and DepartmentalrnDitties to a native “who then conholledrnthe Indian railway-bookstalls.” Inrnshort, I would wager that the colonialrnjournalist had more stamina in his littlernfinger than the top information-age entrepreneurrnhas in his whole wallet. Luxuryrnis not necessarily enfeebling.rnEven tlie ultimate luxury experiencedrnby Kipling, which was. . . . Reader, beware.rnI am being perfectly straightforward.rnI am not about to drop some relativisticrnparadox of the Russian soulrnschool from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn,rnwhere a drink of water and a crust ofrnbread are like the costliest wines andrnviands, where a man bereft of everythingrndiscovers the joy of the smallest something,rnwhere a once proud and powerfulrnban vivant experiences ecstasy in a jaflrncell as his body begins to absorb the almostrnhuman warmth of a rude woodenrnstool. The ultimate luxury experiencedrnby Kipling was that every morning hisrnvalet would enter the bedroom while hernwas asleep bearing the razor and thernsoap, approach his master’s bed with feline,rnMachiavellian tread, and, withoutrnso much as a creak of a floorboard, beginrnto lather his cheeks.rn”I was shaved before I was awake!”rnCan the top information-age entrepreneurrnfawned over by Vanity Fairrnget his sophomoric conscience aroundrnthat one? Can I, a sincere sybarite in thernclosing years of the 20th century? Canrnanyone out there? But the real problem,rnof course, is not one of conscience. Thernproblem is that, in the closing years ofrnthe 20th century, nobody can find a professionalrnbarber even in a barbershop—rnin London I once had a shave atrnTrumpers, the sole surviving gentlemen’srnestablishment in Curzon Street,rnwith an aesthetic result as disastrous asrnthe spiritual wounds were enduringwhilernany prospect of engaging a valetrnwho happens to be an amateur barber, atrnleast capable of shaving his employerrnwhile he is awake, belongs to the realmrnof Hollywood fantasy. To expect him torndo what Kipling’s valet did is fantasyrncubed, a i d as I say, every man to whom Irnhave read the relevant passage has agreedrnthat the luxury it describes is closer to beingrnabsolutely and utterly unimaginablernthan any absurd fancy or secret longingrnwhich his own sinful mind has ever conceived.rnBut this is a letter from Florence, andrnI had better relate these musings to life inrnthe cradle of the Renaissance before anybodyrnfeels cheated. First of all, there arernstill a few barbershops left here. Secondly,rnapart from the usual sightseers,rntourists, and what British travel agentsrncall “holiday-makers,” the town isrncrammed to overflowing with students—rnMARCH 1999/37rnrnrn