The Island Pharisees eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 272 pages of information about The Island Pharisees.
of bursting, and then are hastily, often clumsily, enlarged.  The ninety desiring peace and comfort for their spirit, the ninety of the well-warmed beds, will have it that the fashions need not change, that morality is fixed, that all is ordered and immutable, that every one will always marry, play, and worship in the way that they themselves are marrying, playing, worshipping.  They have no speculation, and they hate with a deep hatred those who speculate with thought.  This is the function they were made for.  They are the dough, and they dislike that yeasty stuff of life which comes and works about in them.  The Yeasty Stuff—­the other ten—­chafed by all things that are, desirous ever of new forms and moulds, hate in their turn the comfortable ninety.  Each party has invented for the other the hardest names that it can think of:  Philistines, Bourgeois, Mrs. Grundy, Rebels, Anarchists, and Ne’er-do-weels.  So we go on!  And so, as each of us is born to go his journey, he finds himself in time ranged on one side or on the other, and joins the choruses of name-slingers.

But now and then—­ah! very seldom—­we find ourselves so near that thing which has no breadth, the middle line, that we can watch them both, and positively smile to see the fun.

When this book was published first, many of its critics found that Shelton was the only Pharisee, and a most unsatisfactory young man—­and so, no doubt, he is.  Belonging to the comfortable ninety, they felt, in fact, the need of slinging names at one who obviously was of the ten.  Others of its critics, belonging to the ten, wielded their epithets upon Antonia, and the serried ranks behind her, and called them Pharisees; as dull as ditch-water—­and so, I fear, they are.

One of the greatest charms of authorship is the privilege it gives the author of studying the secret springs of many unseen persons, of analysing human nature through the criticism that his work evokes—­criticism welling out of the instinctive likings or aversions, out of the very fibre of the human being who delivers it; criticism that often seems to leap out against the critic’s will, startled like a fawn from some deep bed, of sympathy or of antipathy.  And so, all authors love to be abused—­as any man can see.

In the little matter of the title of this book, we are all Pharisees, whether of the ninety or the ten, and we certainly do live upon an Island.  John galsworthy.

January 1, 1908





A quiet, well-dressed man named Shelton, with a brown face and a short, fair beard, stood by the bookstall at Dover Station.  He was about to journey up to London, and had placed his bag in the corner of a third-class carriage.

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The Island Pharisees from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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