The fire-tender. Probably it is the spirit shown in their writings.
The mistress. More likely it is a sort of tradition; I don’t believe that the world has a feeling of personal regard for any author who was not loved by those who knew him most intimately.
The fire-tender. Which comes to the same thing. The qualities, the spirit, that got him the love of his acquaintances he put into his books.
Mandeville. That does n’t seem to me sufficient. Shakespeare has put everything into his plays and poems, swept the whole range of human sympathies and passions, and at times is inspired by the sweetest spirit that ever man had.
The young lady. No one has better interpreted love.
Mandeville. Yet I apprehend that no person living has any personal regard for Shakespeare, or that his personality affects many,—except they stand in Stratford church and feel a sort of awe at the thought that the bones of the greatest poet are so near them.
The Parson. I don’t think the world cares personally for any mere man or woman dead for centuries.
Mandeville. But there is a difference. I think there is still rather a warm feeling for Socrates the man, independent of what he said, which is little known. Homer’s works are certainly better known, but no one cares personally for Homer any more than for any other shade.
Our next door. Why not go back to Moses? We’ve got the evening before us for digging up people.
Mandeville. Moses is a very good illustration. No name of antiquity is better known, and yet I fancy he does not awaken the same kind of popular liking that Socrates does.
Our next door. Fudge! You just get up in any lecture assembly and propose three cheers for Socrates, and see where you’ll be. Mandeville ought to be a missionary, and read Robert Browning to the Fijis.
The fire-tender. How do you account for the alleged personal regard for Socrates?
The Parson. Because the world called Christian is still more than half heathen.
Mandeville. He was a plain man; his sympathies were with the people; he had what is roughly known as “horse-sense,” and he was homely. Franklin and Abraham Lincoln belong to his class. They were all philosophers of the shrewd sort, and they all had humor. It was fortunate for Lincoln that, with his other qualities, he was homely. That was the last touching recommendation to the popular heart.
The mistress. Do you remember that ugly brown-stone statue of St. Antonio by the bridge in Sorrento? He must have been a coarse saint, patron of pigs as he was, but I don’t know any one anywhere, or the homely stone image of one, so loved by the people.