Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Varied Types.
gold, was actually this paradox of the nation of foreigners.  It was a republic of incognitos:  no one knew who anyone else was, and only the more ill-mannered and uneasy even desired to know.  In such a country as this, gentlemen took more trouble to conceal their gentility than thieves living in South Kensington would take to conceal their blackguardism.  In such a country everyone is an equal, because everyone is a stranger.  In such a country it is not strange if men in moral matters feel something of the irresponsibility of a dream.  To plan plans which are continually miscarrying against men who are continually disappearing by the assistance of you know not whom, to crush you know not whom, this must be a demoralising life for any man; it must be beyond description demoralising for those who have been trained in no lofty or orderly scheme of right.  Small blame to them indeed if they become callous and supercilious and cynical.  And the great glory and achievement of Bret Harte consists in this, that he realised that they do not become callous, supercilious, and cynical, but that they do become sentimental and romantic, and profoundly affectionate.  He discovered the intense sensibility of the primitive man.  To him we owe the realisation of the fact that while modern barbarians of genius like Mr. Henley, and in his weaker moments Mr. Rudyard Kipling, delight in describing the coarseness and crude cynicism and fierce humour of the unlettered classes, the unlettered classes are in reality highly sentimental and religious, and not in the least like the creations of Mr. Henley and Mr. Kipling.  Bret Harte tells the truth about the wildest, the grossest, the most rapacious of all the districts of the earth—­the truth that, while it is very rare indeed in the world to find a thoroughly good man, it is rarer still, rare to the point of monstrosity, to find a man who does not either desire to be one, or imagine that he is one already.


The celebrations in connection with the millenary of King Alfred struck a note of sympathy in the midst of much that was unsympathetic, because, altogether apart from any peculiar historical opinions, all men feel the sanctifying character of that which is at once strong and remote; the ancient thing is always the most homely, and the distant thing the most near.  The only possible peacemaker is a dead man, ever since by the sublime religious story a dead man only could reconcile heaven and earth.  In a certain sense we always feel the past ages as human, and our own age as strangely and even weirdly dehumanised.  In our own time the details overpower us; men’s badges and buttons seem to grow larger and larger as in a horrible dream.  To study humanity in the present is like studying a mountain with a magnifying glass; to study it in the past is like studying it through a telescope.

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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