I love Dickens, warts and all. Sometimes he is sententious, and (like the mediocre modern I am) at such points I am willing to listen non-ironically. This bit here struck me hard enough to stop and write it down:
I mean a man whose hopes and aims may sometimes lie (as most men's sometimes do, I dare say) above the ordinary level, but to whom the ordinary level will be high enough after all if it should prove to be a way of usefulness and good service leading to no other. All generous spirits are ambitious, I suppose, but the ambition that calmly trusts itself to such a road, instead of spasmodically trying to fly over it, is of the kind I care for. It is Woodcourt's kind.
(John Jarndyce to Esther Summerson, Bleak House, ch. 60)
Woodcourt is, of course, one of the heroes of the story. It is a heroism that is attractive to me.
Here is a similar idea, from the Screwtape Letters
. In the satirically inverted logic of that book, the “Enemy” is God, the enemy of the devils but the author of good:
The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the, fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.
(C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, ch. 14)
Though I will be happy with a good Bazaar, I also dream of Cathedrals. Put whatever name you like on it, as long as I get some part in the fun of building a good one.