Impressions of Theophrastus Such eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 202 pages of information about Impressions of Theophrastus Such.
human race; and when they fall into ungraceful compliment, excessive smiling or other luckless efforts of complaisant behaviour, these are but the tricks or habits gradually formed under the successive promptings of a wish to be agreeable, stimulated day by day without any widening resources for gratifying the wish.  It does not in the least follow that they are seeking by studied hypocrisy to get something for themselves.  And so with Hinze’s deferential bearing, complimentary parentheses, and worshipful tones, which seem to some like the over-acting of a part in a comedy.  He expects no appointment or other appreciable gain through Tulpian’s favour; he has no doubleness towards Felicia; there is no sneering or backbiting obverse to his ecstatic admiration.  He is very well off in the world, and cherishes no unsatisfied ambition that could feed design and direct flattery.  As you perceive, he has had the education and other advantages of a gentleman without being conscious of marked result, such as a decided preference for any particular ideas or functions:  his mind is furnished as hotels are, with everything for occasional and transient use.  But one cannot be an Englishman and gentleman in general:  it is in the nature of things that one must have an individuality, though it may be of an often-repeated type.  As Hinze in growing to maturity had grown into a particular form and expression of person, so he necessarily gathered a manner and frame of speech which made him additionally recognisable.  His nature is not tuned to the pitch of a genuine direct admiration, only to an attitudinising deference which does not fatigue itself with the formation of real judgments.  All human achievement must be wrought down to this spoon-meat—­this mixture of other persons’ washy opinions and his own flux of reverence for what is third-hand, before Hinze can find a relish for it.

He has no more leading characteristic than the desire to stand well with those who are justly distinguished; he has no base admirations, and you may know by his entire presentation of himself, from the management of his hat to the angle at which he keeps his right foot, that he aspires to correctness.  Desiring to behave becomingly and also to make a figure in dialogue, he is only like the bad artist whose picture is a failure.  We may pity these ill-gifted strivers, but not pretend that their works are pleasant to behold.  A man is bound to know something of his own weight and muscular dexterity, and the puny athlete is called foolish before he is seen to be thrown.  Hinze has not the stuff in him to be at once agreeably conversational and sincere, and he has got himself up to be at all events agreeably conversational.  Notwithstanding this deliberateness of intention in his talk he is unconscious of falsity, for he has not enough of deep and lasting impression to find a contrast or diversity between his words and his thoughts.  He is not fairly to be called a hypocrite, but I have already confessed to the more exasperation at his make-believe reverence, because it has no deep hunger to excuse it.

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Impressions of Theophrastus Such from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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