Times change. In olden days, under primogeniture, it was easier than now for a noble family to flourish for many generations, since assets (land, knights, ladies in waiting, livestock, servants, tapestries, treasure, peasants, hunting dogs, armor, fine plate) were not disbursed through many lineages, but kept as one. Tutor in that era was a kind of dual passport serving-professional. He was both of noble birth himself (the second son of a country squire), and also a morals tutor to a noble family. (He had gone to Oxford, and gotten a degree in Divinity.)
Last night, in an old National Geographic, Tutor, as we bedded down for the night, came across a photo of his old castle, or more correctly that of his Lord and Master, whose name is now but a footnote in history, though Tutor lives on, through this Blog, immortal. The Great Hall, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen, the Dungeons, the Chapel, are all empty. The moat is full of water, but the drawbridge has collapsed. Once, Tutor told me, long ago, when the young lady of the castle was ill, Dr. Rabelais himself came when sent for. "Whether he made her better or worse," says Tutor, "she was never again the same, but seemed much happier. Apparently she was better, but she was always asking her mother to send for him again, so whatever she had, it must have been chronic." Apparently, no one lives there now but ghosts. It may be sold, the article says, to a hedge fund manager or a Silicon Valley entrepreneur for some large fraction of a billion, pounds, euros or dollars, I don't know which. Since the article was from two years ago, it probably already was sold.
Times change, but not human nature. Today's highest level families, like those in the olden days, need Moral Mentors. "Even today, a degree in Divinity," says Tutor, "is the gold standard. Charles Collier, Matt Wesley, Paul Schervish, Keith Whitaker. They are following in my footsteps, as best they can, not being themselves of noble birth." Tutor, long since past his prime, naked and regal on his garbage-sacks of old books, snug in our Dumpster at the Corner of Wealth and Bondage, as drunk as a lord, dreams of making a come back.
"I know that Castle, every back stair, every secret passage, every dungeon, each stall in the stables, the altar in the chapel, the confessional. I knew the mason who hewed the first foundation stone. I know the peasant who died laying it, and whose skeleton may still lie there, for all I know. The Bible has not changed a bit, though I hear it has lately been translated into the vulgate. And I can still dance a jig. Yes, My Lord. No, My Lord. Why not mentor the new heirs as we did the old? In those days we did have families that flourished for a lot more than 100 years. Some I mentored ruled the yeomanry and basically owned the peasants for a thousand years. The knights swore fealty on their knees touched by their Master sword." He started to tell me how he mentored the heirs, but I can't repeat on a blog devoted to passing on Family Values, under current conditions, except in the more traditional Christian Families, where the old ways are still accepted as the best way, and most of those families are not rich enough to keep a private Parson on retainer.
I told Tutor he has a lot reading to do if he is to qualify or stand out against the burgeoning competition. "Rabelais?" He asked, or "Mother Goose? Aesop? La Fontaine? La Bruyere?" "No," I said, "maybe Virgil, but nothing funny, obscene, or silly, except maybe Chaucer, and nothing too cryptic. Today's ultra high net worth clients are not so good with hidden meanings." With that he assumed the most scholarly face imaginable, and rose up as if to preach a sermon, or give a scholarly lecture, buck naked, tipsy, pompous as could be. A quite convincing priest or scholar, except for the high-flown nonsense that came out of his mouth. And of course it made me laugh. I can't imagine how even in the Dark Ages a guy like that passed for credible. "The title of my sermon," he intoned is, "The Proper Use of Riches, and my subtitle is Human Flourishing, or Paradise on Earth, How to Obtain and Retain it, Best Practices of the Wise, Virtuous and Wealthy in all Eras from Ancient Times to the Present." Maybe a thousand years ago, in the Dark Ages, he got away with it as the younger son of noble family, but today our clients expect us to wear clothes.