Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Varied Types.
bodies attached to gigantic beaks, we do not feel that they are freaks of the fierce humour of Creation.  We almost believe that they are toys out of a child’s play-box, artificially carved and artificially coloured.  So it is with the great convulsion of Nature which was known as Byronism.  The volcano is not an extinct volcano now; it is the dead stick of a rocket.  It is the remains not of a natural but of an artificial fire.

But Byron and Byronism were something immeasurably greater than anything that is represented by such a view as this:  their real value and meaning are indeed little understood.  The first of the mistakes about Byron lies in the fact that he is treated as a pessimist.  True, he treated himself as such, but a critic can hardly have even a slight knowledge of Byron without knowing that he had the smallest amount of knowledge of himself that ever fell to the lot of an intelligent man.  The real character of what is known as Byron’s pessimism is better worth study than any real pessimism could ever be.

It is the standing peculiarity of this curious world of ours that almost everything in it has been extolled enthusiastically and invariably extolled to the disadvantage of everything else.

One after another almost every one of the phenomena of the universe has been declared to be alone capable of making life worth living.  Books, love, business, religion, alcohol, abstract truth, private emotion, money, simplicity, mysticism, hard work, a life close to nature, a life close to Belgrave Square are every one of them passionately maintained by somebody to be so good that they redeem the evil of an otherwise indefensible world.  Thus, while the world is almost always condemned in summary, it is always justified, and indeed extolled, in detail after detail.

Existence has been praised and absolved by a chorus of pessimists.  The work of giving thanks to Heaven is, as it were, divided ingeniously among them.  Schopenhauer is told off as a kind of librarian in the House of God, to sing the praises of the austere pleasures of the mind.  Carlyle, as steward, undertakes the working department and eulogises a life of labour in the fields.  Omar Khayyam is established in the cellar, and swears that it is the only room in the house.  Even the blackest of pessimistic artists enjoys his art.  At the precise moment that he has written some shameless and terrible indictment of Creation, his one pang of joy in the achievement joins the universal chorus of gratitude, with the scent of the wild flower and the song of the bird.

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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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