Impressions of Theophrastus Such eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Impressions of Theophrastus Such.
which fill up a man’s time first with indulgence and then with the process of getting well from its effects.  He had not, indeed, exhausted the sources of knowledge, but here again his notions of human pleasure were narrowed by his want of appetite; for though he seemed rather surprised at the consideration that Alfred the Great was a Catholic, or that apart from the Ten Commandments any conception of moral conduct had occurred to mankind, he was not stimulated to further inquiries on these remote matters.  Yet he aspired to what he regarded as intellectual society, willingly entertained beneficed clergymen, and bought the books he heard spoken of, arranging them carefully on the shelves of what he called his library, and occasionally sitting alone in the same room with them.  But some minds seem well glazed by nature against the admission of knowledge, and Spike’s was one of them.  It was not, however, entirely so with regard to politics.  He had had a strong opinion about the Reform Bill, and saw clearly that the large trading towns ought to send members.  Portraits of the Reform heroes hung framed and glazed in his library:  he prided himself on being a Liberal.  In this last particular, as well as in not giving benefactions and not making loans without interest, he showed unquestionable firmness.  On the Repeal of the Corn Laws, again, he was thoroughly convinced.  His mind was expansive towards foreign markets, and his imagination could see that the people from whom we took corn might be able to take the cotton goods which they had hitherto dispensed with.  On his conduct in these political concerns, his wife, otherwise influential as a woman who belonged to a family with a title in it, and who had condescended in marrying him, could gain no hold:  she had to blush a little at what was called her husband’s “radicalism”—­an epithet which was a very unfair impeachment of Spike, who never went to the root of anything.  But he understood his own trading affairs, and in this way became a genuine, constant political element.  If he had been born a little later he could have been accepted as an eligible member of Parliament, and if he had belonged to a high family he might have done for a member of the Government.  Perhaps his indifference to “views” would have passed for administrative judiciousness, and he would have been so generally silent that he must often have been silent in the right place.  But this is empty speculation:  there is no warrant for saying what Spike would have been and known so as to have made a calculable political element, if he had not been educated by having to manage his trade.  A small mind trained to useful occupation for the satisfying of private need becomes a representative of genuine class-needs.  Spike objected to certain items of legislation because they hampered his own trade, but his neighbours’ trade was hampered by the same causes; and though he would have been simply selfish in a question of light or water between himself and a fellow-townsman, his
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Impressions of Theophrastus Such from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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