S. Benedict says (RB 4,25) that not to make a false peace (“Pacem falsam non dare”) is one of the instruments of good works. There are a number of ways to take this. Dom Delatte, glossing it together with its context, writes: “It is the glory of the monastic life to be founded in loyalty and absolute sincerity, to be delivered from all the diplomacy and shiftiness of the world.” It occurred to me that that consummate mistress of diplomacy and shiftiness, Thackeray’s Becky (Sharp) Crawly, gives an astonishing example of one sort of “false peace”:
Becky, in the course of a very few hours, found means to make [George Osborne] forget that little unpleasant passage of words which had happened between them. “Do you remember the last time we met at Miss Crawley’s, when I was so rude to you, dear Captain Osborne? I thought you seemed careless about dear Amelia. It was that made me angry: and so pert: and so unkind: and so ungrateful. Do forgive me!” Rebecca said, and she held out her hand with so frank and winning a grace, that Osborne could not but take it. By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself to be in the wrong, there is no knowing, my son, what good you may do. I knew once a gentleman and very worthy practitioner in Vanity Fair, who used to do little wrongs to his neighbours on purpose, and in order to apologise for them in an open and manly way afterwards—and what ensued? My friend Crocky Doyle was liked everywhere, and deemed to be rather impetuous—but the honestest fellow. Becky’s humility passed for sincerity with George Osborne.