The Defendant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 81 pages of information about The Defendant.
to be the deity who had least smiled upon them.  But these capering maniacs, disowned alike by the old world and the new, were men who had seen a great truth unknown alike to the new world and the old.  They had seen the thing that was hidden from the wise and understanding, from the whole modern democratic civilization down to the present time.  They realized that democracy must have a heraldry, that it must have a proud and high-coloured pageantry, if it is to keep always before its own mind its own sublime mission.  Unfortunately for this ideal, the world has in this matter followed English democracy rather than French; and those who look back to the nineteenth century will assuredly look back to it as we look back to the reign of the Puritans, as the time of black coats and black tempers.  From the strange life the men of that time led, they might be assisting at the funeral of liberty instead of at its christening.  The moment we really believe in democracy, it will begin to blossom, as aristocracy blossomed, into symbolic colours and shapes.  We shall never make anything of democracy until we make fools of ourselves.  For if a man really cannot make a fool of himself, we may be quite certain that the effort is superfluous.

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A DEFENCE OF UGLY THINGS

There are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us.  There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.

But while nothing in this world would persuade us that a great friend of Mr. Forbes Robertson, let us say, would experience no surprise or discomfort at seeing him enter the room in the bodily form of Mr. Chaplin, there is a confusion constantly made between being attracted by exterior, which is natural and universal, and being attracted by what is called physical beauty, which is not entirely natural and not in the least universal.  Or rather, to speak more strictly, the conception of physical beauty has been narrowed to mean a certain kind of physical beauty which no more exhausts the possibilities of external attractiveness than the respectability of a Clapham builder exhausts the possibilities of moral attractiveness.

The tyrants and deceivers of mankind in this matter have been the Greeks.  All their splendid work for civilization ought not to have wholly blinded us to the fact of their great and terrible sin against the variety of life.  It is a remarkable fact that while the Jews have long ago been rebelled against and accused of blighting the world with a stringent and one-sided ethical standard, nobody has noticed that the Greeks have committed us to an infinitely more horrible asceticism—­an asceticism of the fancy, a worship of one aesthetic type alone.  Jewish severity had at least common-sense as its basis;

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The Defendant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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