Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Varied Types.
nous? It is this potentiality for enthusiasm among the mass of men that makes the function of comedy at once common and sublime.  Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is a great comedy, because behind it is the whole pressure of that love of love which is the youth of the world, which is common to all the young, especially to those who swear they will die bachelors and old maids.  “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is filled with the same energy, and there it falls even more definitely into the scope of our subject, since it is a comedy in rhyme in which all men speak lyrically as naturally as the birds sing in pairing time.  What the love of love is to the Shakespearean comedies, that other and more mysterious human passion, the love of death, is to “L’Aiglon.”  Whether we shall ever have in England a new tradition of poetic comedy it is difficult at present to say, but we shall assuredly never have it until we realise that comedy is built upon everlasting foundations in the nature of things, that it is not a thing too light to capture, but too deep to plumb.  Monsieur Rostand, in his description of the Battle of Wagram, does not shrink from bringing about the Duke’s ears the frightful voices of actual battle, of men torn by crows, and suffocated with blood, but when the Duke, terrified at these dreadful appeals, asks them for their final word, they all cry together Vive l’Empereur! Monsieur Rostand, perhaps, did not know that he was writing an allegory.  To me that field of Wagram is the field of the modern war of literature.  We hear nothing but the voices of pain; the whole is one phonograph of horror.  It is right that we should hear these things, it is right that not one of them should be silenced; but these cries of distress are not in life, as they are in modern art, the only voices; they are the voices of men, but not the voice of man.  When questioned finally and seriously as to their conception of their destiny, men have from the beginning of time answered in a thousand philosophies and religions with a single voice and in a sense most sacred and tremendous, Vive l’Empereur.


There are a great many bonds which still connect us with Charles II., one of the idlest men of one of the idlest epochs.  Among other things Charles II. represented one thing which is very rare and very satisfying; he was a real and consistent sceptic.  Scepticism, both in its advantages and disadvantages, is greatly misunderstood in our time.  There is a curious idea abroad that scepticism has some connection with such theories as materialism and atheism and secularism.  This is of course a mistake; the true sceptic has nothing to do with these theories simply because they are theories.  The true sceptic is as much a spiritualist as he is a materialist.  He thinks that the savage dancing round an African idol stands quite as good a chance of being right as Darwin.  He thinks that mysticism is every bit as rational as rationalism.  He has indeed the most profound doubts as to whether St. Matthew wrote his own gospel.  But he has quite equally profound doubts as to whether the tree he is looking at is a tree and not a rhinoceros.

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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