301 CHRONICLESntime, yields superman.nAldrich surely does not intend suchna conclusion, for he betrays a complicatednsensibility in attributing his ownnnoblesse oblige to something callednpietas. I would like very much tondefine what he means by the word, butnonce again poetry works against him.nDescribing its effects — a reverence forngrandparents, a sense of history, anvague belief in eternal recurrence —nhe seems to be transplanting ancestornworship from the temples of Tokyo tonthe mansions of Newport. It survivesnthe journey, but emerges more muddled,nif possible, than it is at its place ofnorigin.nTo distinguish, finally, betweennthose who use money from those whonmerely possess it, Aldrich resorts to thenpyrotechnics of contrast. He discerns anhistoric contentiousness between “oldnmoney” and its necessary opposite,n”new money.” By “new money” henmeans the big-spending entrepreneur,npromoted to wealth by hard effort ofnhand and mind. A recent arrival burstingnwith pride and appetite, “newnmoney” denies obligation to society.nInstead of speaking of the bottom linenin hushed, somewhat embarrassedntones, “new money” flaunts wealth,nelevating it to preeminence on thenscale of human worth: a man is nothingnunless he earns. The factions, ofncourse, are bitter enemies, and nevernmore so than at present. “Ronald Reaganninstalled an administration composednalmost entirely of self-made menn(men, indeed, who were determined tonuse their offices to make it), and by thenend of his second term Reagan had fedna flock of torrent birds whose droppingsnnauseated patrician sensibUities asnnothing had since the days of RichardnWhitney.”nNow, Whitney went to Sing Singnfor stealing from the trust accounts ofnpersons as rich and well-connected asnhe was himself. As an example ofnerrant wealth, the main virtue of hisncase has to be its relative recencyn(1938), because for sheer venality Aldrichnmight have — but of coursenwould not have — chosen his ownnfamily’s grocer-patriarch of the OceannState. When Senator Aldrich went tonWashington in 1881, he was worthn$50,000. Thirty years later, havingnengaged in no business but politics,nthat figure was $12 million. Bribery,napologizes his grandson, was an acceptednpractice when today’s “oldnmoney” was new.nIn attempting to draw boundariesnusing dates of accession, Aldrich fails atnhis second project: weighing the successnof “old money” as a social force.nThe difference, Aldrich perceives innthe agnostic dimness of his NortheasternnRepublicanism, is ultimately intangible.n”Patricians . . . know that life isnnever so fair, so meritocratic, as thenentrepreneur would have it. … But itnis in their interest to know, too, thatnwhile this unfairness can be ameliorated,npreferably by them, it cannot benundone.” They know this even asngrocers, for what Aldrich speaks of isnthe natural aristocrat—this time withoutnquotation marks. For such aristocrats,nwho, as Russell Kirk has written,nstand out in whichever human subgroupnthey find themselves, money isnincidental. When present, howevernand whenever obtained, it is a vehiclenfor great deeds. But when money isnabsent, the deeds go on. The naturalnaristocrat performs dramas of heroicnproportions whatever the size of hisnstage.nI refer to “agnostic dimness” becausenthe remarkable thing aboutnAldrich’s argument, and the root of itsnconfusion, is its Godlessness. Thenname of the Deity appears three timesnin the book, first in a joke, next in anchild’s sentimental prayer, and finally,nin a eulogy, as the essence of “the windnand the weather, the line of the shoren— things one couldn’t do anythingnabout.” Considering that his argument,nand the social hierarchy it defends,nare medieval, God should benwrit large. God is the ill-defined sourcenof strength in Aldrich’s pietas; God’snlaw, as they understood it, inspired thenearlier American aristocrats to acts ofnsplendid generosity; God’s gracen(which Aldrich obscures by the generalityn”life”) set apart rich from poor.nWithout Him, Aldrich’s claim of “oldnmoney” superiority is at best mysticism,nat worst arrogance.nIt would be best to ask a theologiannhow the natural aristocrat subject tonGod differs from the vegetative aristocratnof Aldrich’s vision, an aristocrat tonwhom things simply happen andnwhose authority is his pocketbook. Bynway of summary, it is perhaps sufficientnto say, using paradox in the manner ofnnnChesterton, that the one retains hisnfree will by losing it, while the othernloses everything. For the Godless aristocratnof pure wealth, be his justificationn”old money” or “new,” cuts himselfnloose from the chain of being, fromnthe Augustinian scheme of earthly existencenthat justifies — and ennobles —ninequality by placing God at its apex.nTo God we are all unequal, yet by Himnequally beloved.nLate in Old Money, Aldrich reprintsnword-for-word a touching address thatnhe delivered at the funeral of his father.nNelson W. Aldrich (1911-1986) wasnan architect, a painter and, betweenntimes, trustee of Boston institutionsnpublic, private, educational, cultural.n”He thought it was the task of one’snlife,” said his only son, “to make thenmost ofwhatever one had. . . . He wasnblessed, and knew it. Indeed, therenwere times—when you were nearby,nfor example — when he felt he couldnbless.” If the late Aldrich was really likenthat, he was living proof why the poornhate the rich. They hate them fornrefusing to be humble. By acceptingnonly so much of the medieval argumentnas is convenient, the rich pervertnthe myth that is their legitimacy. Thenmyth becomes not an expression ofnwonder but an entangling web of lies,nfrom which “old money” can buy nonrelease.nEnduring Wisdomnby H. Lee CheeknThe Wise Men Know What WickednThings Are Written on the Skynby Russell Kiik, Washington, DC:nRegnery Gateway; $17.95.nWise Men is a collection of 11 livelynessays by the wise old sage who isncontemporary conservatism’s mostnable prophet. The Kirk neophyte willnfind these essays most alluring; it isnunusual to experience such an affirmationnof the “permanent things” in ourncurrent age. The Kirk devotee will findnthis slim volume to be an encapsulationnof a lifetime against the tide of thenleveling influences at work in modernnthought.nThe book is a compilation of publicnlectures delivered at The HeritagenFoundation from 1982-1984; whilen