“My idea is this,” he says, “subject to an exception which I will state in a moment.” Taking up his exception, he makes it so lucid, so pregnant, so comprehensive, so irresistible, that it seems to us the whole and satisfying dogma; and then, suddenly turning it inside-outward, he reveals the seams, and we remember that it was only a trifling nexus in the rational series. He returns to his main thesis, and other counterpoising arguments occur to him. He outlines them, with delicious AEsopian sagacity. “Of course this analysis is only quantitative, not qualitative,” he says. “But I will now restate my position with all the necessary reservations, and we’ll see if it will hold water.”
We smile, and look at each other slyly, in the sheer happiness of enjoying a perfect work of art. He must be a mere quintain, a poor lifeless block, who does not revel in such an exhibition, where those two rare qualities of mind—honesty and agility—are locked in one.
Of course—it is hardly necessary to say—we do not always agree with everything he says. But we could not disagree with him; for we see that his broad, shrewd, troubled spirit could take no other view, arising out of the very multitude and swarm and pressure of his thought. Those who plod diligently and narrowly along a country lane may sometimes reach the destination less fatigued than the more conscientious and passionate traveller who quarters the fields and beats the bounds, intent to leave no covert unscrutinized. But in him we see and love and revere something rare and precious, not often found in our present way of life; in matters concerning the happiness of others, a devoted spirit of unrivalled wisdom; in those pertaining to himself, a child’s unblemished innocence. The perplexities of others are his daily study; his own pleasures, a constant surprise.
GOING TO PHILADELPHIA
Every intelligent New Yorker should be compelled, once in so often, to run over to Philadelphia and spend a few days quietly and observantly prowling.
Any lover of America is poor indeed unless he has savoured and meditated the delicious contrast of these two cities, separated by so few miles and yet by a whole world of philosophy and metaphysics. But he is a mere tyro of the two who has only made the voyage by the P.R.R. The correct way to go is by the Reading, which makes none of those annoying intermediate stops at Newark, Trenton, and so on, none of that long detour through West Philadelphia, starts you off with a ferry ride and a background of imperial campaniles and lilac-hazed cliffs and summits in the superb morning light. And the Reading route, also, takes you through a green Shakespearean land of beauty, oddly different from the flat scrubby plains traversed by the Pennsy. Consider, if you will, the hills of the idyllic Huntington Valley