Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Varied Types.
There is one especially which is increasingly needed in an age when moral claims become complicated and hysterical.  That Queen Victoria was a model of political unselfishness is well known; it is less often remarked that few modern people have an unselfishness so completely free from morbidity, so fully capable of deciding a moral question without exaggerating its importance.  No eminent person of our time has been so utterly devoid of that disease of self-assertion which is often rampant among the unselfish.  She had one most rare and valuable faculty, the faculty of letting things pass—­Acts of Parliament and other things.  Her predecessors, whether honest men or knaves, were attacked every now and then with a nightmare of despotic responsibility; they suddenly conceived that it rested with them to save the world and the Protestant Constitution.  Queen Victoria had far too much faith in the world to try to save it.  She knew that Acts of Parliament, even bad Acts of Parliament, do not destroy nations.  But she knew that ignorance, ill-temper, tyranny, and officiousness do destroy nations, and not upon any provocation would she set an example in these things.  We fancy that this sense of proportion, this largeness and coolness of intellectual magnanimity is the one of the thousand virtues of Queen Victoria of which the near future will stand most in need.  We are gaining many new mental powers, and with them new mental responsibilities.  In psychology, in sociology, above all in education, we are learning to do a great many clever things.  Unless we are much mistaken the next great task will be to learn not to do them.  If that time comes, assuredly we cannot do better than turn once more to the memory of the great Queen who for seventy years followed through every possible tangle and distraction the fairy thread of common sense.

We are suffering just now from an outbreak of the imagination which exhibits itself in politics and the most unlikely places.  The German Emperor, for example, is neither a tyrant nor a lunatic, as used to be absurdly represented; he is simply a minor poet; and he feels just as any minor poet would feel if he found himself on the throne of Barbarossa.  The revival of militarism and ecclesiasticism is an invasion of politics by the artistic sense; it is heraldry rather than chivalry that is lusted after.  Amid all this waving of wands and flaunting of uniforms, all this hedonistic desire to make the most of everything, there is something altogether quiet and splendid about the sober disdain with which this simple and courteous lady in a black dress left idle beside her the sceptre of a hundred tyrants.  The heart of the whole nation warmed as it had never warmed for centuries at the thought of having in their midst a woman who cared nothing for her rights, and nothing for those fantastic duties which are more egotistical than rights themselves.

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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