Impressions of Theophrastus Such eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 202 pages of information about Impressions of Theophrastus Such.
and gigantic growth.  Your audibly arrogant man exposes himself to tests:  in attempting to make an impression on others he may possibly (not always) be made to feel his own lack of definiteness; and the demand for definiteness is to all of us a needful check on vague depreciation of what others do, and vague ecstatic trust in our own superior ability.  But Lentulus was at once so unreceptive, and so little gifted with the power of displaying his miscellaneous deficiency of information, that there was really nothing to hinder his astonishment at the spontaneous crop of ideas which his mind secretly yielded.  If it occurred to him that there were more meanings than one for the word “motive,” since it sometimes meant the end aimed at and sometimes the feeling that prompted the aiming, and that the word “cause” was also of changeable import, he was naturally struck with the truth of his own perception, and was convinced that if this vein were well followed out much might be made of it.  Men were evidently in the wrong about cause and effect, else why was society in the confused state we behold?  And as to motive, Lentulus felt that when he came to write down his views he should look deeply into this kind of subject and show up thereby the anomalies of our social institutions; meanwhile the various aspects of “motive” and “cause” flitted about among the motley crowd of ideas which he regarded as original, and pregnant with reformative efficacy.  For his unaffected goodwill made him regard all his insight as only valuable because it tended towards reform.

The respectable man had got into his illusory maze of discoveries by letting go that clue of conformity in his thinking which he had kept fast hold of in his tailoring and manners.  He regarded heterodoxy as a power in itself, and took his inacquaintance with doctrines for a creative dissidence.  But his epitaph needs not to be a melancholy one.  His benevolent disposition was more effective for good than his silent presumption for harm.  He might have been mischievous but for the lack of words:  instead of being astonished at his inspirations in private, he might have clad his addled originalities, disjointed commonplaces, blind denials, and balloon-like conclusions, in that mighty sort of language which would have made a new Koran for a knot of followers.  I mean no disrespect to the ancient Koran, but one would not desire the roc to lay more eggs and give us a whole wing-flapping brood to soar and make twilight.

Peace be with Lentulus, for he has left us in peace.  Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact—­from calling on us to look through a heap of millet-seed in order to be sure that there is no pearl in it.



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Impressions of Theophrastus Such from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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