As gaslight is the best nocturnal police...

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carolmoraiss

Banned
Portuguese
Can somebody, please, explain the meaning of this sentence to me?

"As gaslight is the best nocturnal police, so the universe protect itself by pitiless publicity" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks!
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Emerson is telling you that people don't like to commit crimes when other people can see them as they commit those crimes.

    Gaslight lit up the night. It did a better job of protecting people's property than police did. Criminals hate well-lit areas because other people can see what they are doing.

    The universe protects itself from harm by "pitiless publicity": Journalists report the wrongdoings of others. People who want to do something evil must face the very real interest of the public in reading about their crimes. I've never seen the quote before, but I imagine that Emerson was using "the universe" as some sort of metaphor for the world of people and their activities.
     

    carolmoraiss

    Banned
    Portuguese
    yes, you seem to have hit ne nail right on the head.
    But I still don't understand what the connection ids between the gaslight and the pitiless publicity...
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Both gaslight and "pitiless publicity" ensure that witnesses will know when bad people do evil. Whether a witness sees a burgler breaking into a house by gaslight or the entire world reads about some banking scandal in a newspaper, people know that something is wrong.

    Does it make any sense to you now?
     
    Last edited:

    carolmoraiss

    Banned
    Portuguese
    it sure does... I wouldn't have been able to come to this conclusion if it hadn't been for you.
    I would never have linked the universe to newspapers...

    Thanks a lot!!
     
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