Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Shape of the Cross of Christ by Henry Dana Ward 1872


The Shape of the Cross of Christ by Henry Dana Ward 1872

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STAUROS KAI XULON, stauros and xulon, are the only words in the Greek Testament descriptive of the wooden cross of Christ. Neither of them admit of the radical idea of a cross in English, or in any other modern language. In all the languages of Christendom, across consists of one line drawn through another. Two sticks, one crossing the other, are essential to constitute, and to present the universal idea of, a material, visible cross.

No such idea is conveyed by the Scripture words stauros and zulon. Stauros means "an upright pale," a strong stake, such as farmers drive into the ground to make their fences or palisades—no more, no less. To the stauros the Roman soldiers nailed the hands and the feet of the King of glory, and lifted Him up to the mockery of the chief priests and elders of the people. Over Him, on the stauros, Pilate put His title: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." And no mortal is at liberty to affirm any other form of stauros on which our Saviour was lifted up than is implied in the meaning of that word, which alone the four Evangelists in the four Gospels use to describe the wood on which Jesus was lifted up.

Zulon, which I write for the easier pronunciation zulon, means "wood cut ready for use, a stick, cudgel, or beam; any timber; a live tree." This is, as I have said, the only word besides stauros employed in the New Testament to signify the cross of Christ The Evangelists use this word to signify the clubs or staves with which the company were armed when they arrested Jesus by night in Gethsemane. In the Acts, and rarely in the Epistles, it signifies the wood or timber on which Jesus was impaled, alive.

Zulon, then, no more than stauros, conveys the English sense of a cross. Zulon and stauros are alike the single stick, the pale, or the stake, neither more nor less, on which Jesus was impaled, or crucified. Stauros, however, is the exclusive name given by all the Evangelists to the wood of Christ's cross. The stauros Jesus bore, on it He was hanged, from it He was taken down dead. The Evangelists use this word also in a figurative sense: "Come, take up thy stauros, and follow me" (Mark x. 21). "Let him take up his stauros and follow me" (Matt. xvi. 24, Mark viii. 34, Luke ix. 23). "He that taketh not his stauros and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matt. x. 38). Neither stauros nor zulon ever mean two sticks joining each other at an angle, either in the New Testament or in any other book.

THE BRAZEN SERPENT

When Israel in the wilderness murmured against God, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. The penitent people besought Moses to pray the Lord to take away the serpents. Moses's prayer was answered, not by removing the serpents, but by providing a remedy against their bite. By command of the Lord, "Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole. And it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived" (Numb. xxi. 9). The healing power was not in the "pole," neither was it in the brazen serpent, but in the word of the living God. The healing virtue resided not in these lifeless forms singly or jointly, but in the faith of the word which turned the eyes of the wounded to look that they might live. After the lapse of eight centuries, Judah came to believe there was miraculous power in that image, and they worshiped it. They did not make an image; they worshiped with incense, the same which Moses, by divine command, had made, and had elevated in the healing sight of the congregation. They worshiped it, not as the work of their hands, but as an instrument of salvation, set up by their great lawgiver. Notwithstanding, that good King Hezekiah, such as "after him was none like him, nor any that were before him," when he removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves, brake in pieces also "the brazen serpent that Moses had made; and he culled it Nehushtan," i.e., brass (2 Kings xviii. 4). So, were the veritable wood of Christ's cross now before our eyes, it should sooner be cut in pieces, and burned for wood, than be adored with incense, and reverence, and love. Is it any holier and better to reverence and love an image ot that wood, to kiss it, to wreathe it with laurel, to bow down and worship before the image, which, whether of wood or stone, is man's device, wrought into shape by the hands of man?

Not an instance of exalting or of honoring the visible form of the cross occurs in the New Testament. On the contrary, it is the emblem of our humiliation and sorrow, which being endured in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, through Jesus and the resurrection, "when our captivity will be turned again, as the streams in the south, our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing;" for we shall not only see Him as He is, but be like Him, having our vile body changed into the likeness of His glorious body, and our joint inheritance of all things with Christ Jesus in eternal life.

THE PUNISHMENT OF THE CROSS

This was inflicted on hardened criminals, and on resolute enemies, and on vile murderers and slaves, among all the renowned nations of antiquity. The manner and circumstances of the execution do not concern us now, so much as the instrument, respecting which Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible" gives large information. "In Livy," says Smith, "even crux means a mere stake. More generally, the cross is called arbor infelix—Livy, Seneca; or lignum infelix-—Cicero. The very name of the cross was abhorrent not only to the flesh, but even to the eyes, ears, and thoughts of Roman citizens—Cicero pro Rab. 5."


Crosses must have been commonly of the simplest form, "because they were used in such marvelous numbers. Of Jews alone, Alexander Jannanis crucified 800, Varus, 2000, Hadrian, 500 a day; and the gentle Titus so many that there was no room for the crosses, nor crosses for the bodies."—Smith's Dict, of the Bible. Alexander the Great crucified 2000 Tyrians, and both the Sogdian king and people, for their brave defense of their several countries. And Augustus crucified 600 Sicilians. Under such circumstances, men could not he particular about the form of the stauros, or the manner of applying it. Some were nailed, others were tied hand and foot and lifted up on the stauros; others on the tree. Others, also, were spiked to the earth with the stauros driven through their body, and others were spitted on it. Thus the crucifying or impaling was executed in the crudest manner, and the sufferers were left to rot unburied, or to be devoured by the birds and beasts. In deference to the Mosaic law, the bodies were in Judea removed and buried, and the crosses were burned, to avoid legal defilement by the accursed thing, as it is written: "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but in any wise thou shalt bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that the land be not defiled" (Deut. xxi. 23).


G.K. Chesterton on Socialism 1922


G.K. Chesterton on Socialism 1922

Socialism is one of the simplest ideas in the world. It has always puzzled me how there came to be so much bewilderment and misunderstanding and miserable mutual slander about it. At one time I agreed with Socialism, because it was simple. Now I disagree with Socialism, because it is too simple. Yet most of its opponents still seem to treat it, not merely as an iniquity but as a mystery of iniquity, which seems to mystify them even more than it maddens them. It may not seem strange that its antagonists should be puzzled about what it is. It may appear more curious and interesting that its admirers are equally puzzled. Its foes used to denounce Socialism as Anarchy, which is its opposite. Its friends seemed to suppose that it is a sort of optimism, which is almost as much of an opposite. Friends and foes alike talked as if it involved a sort of faith in ideal human nature; why I could never imagine. The Socialist system, in a more special sense than any other, is founded not on optimism but on original sin. It proposes that the State, as the conscience of the community, should possess all primary forms of property; and that obviously on the ground that men cannot be trusted to own or barter or combine or compete without injury to themselves. Just as a State might own all the guns lest people should shoot each other, so this State would own all the gold and land lest they should cheat or rackrent or exploit each other. It seems extraordinarily simple and even obvious; and so it is. It is too obvious to be true. But while it is obvious, it seems almost incredible that anybody ever thought it optimistic.

I am myself primarily opposed to Socialism, or Collectivism or Bolshevism or whatever we call it, for a primary reason not immediately involved here: the ideal of property. I say the ideal and not merely the idea; and this alone disposes of the moral mistake in the matter. It disposes of all the dreary doubts of the Anti-Socialists about men not yet being angels, and all the yet drearier hopes of the Socialists about men soon being supermen. I do not admit that private property is a concession to baseness and selfishness; I think it is a point of honour. I think it is the most truly popular of all points of honour. But this, though it has everything to do with my plea for a domestic dignity, has nothing to do with this passing summary of the situation of Socialism. I only remark in passing that it is vain for the more vulgar sort of Capitalist, sneering at ideals, to say to me that in order to have Socialism "You must alter human nature." I answer "Yes. You must alter it for the worse."

The clouds were considerably cleared away from the meaning of Socialism by the Fabians of the 'nineties; by Mr. Bernard Shaw, a sort of anti-romantic Quixote, who charged chivalry as chivalry charged windmills, with Sidney Webb for his Sancho Panza. In so far as these paladins had a castle to defend, we may say that their castle was the Post Office. The red pillar-box was the immovable post against which the irresistible force of Capitalist individualism was arrested. Business men who said that nothing could be managed by the State were forced to admit that they trusted all their business letters and business telegrams to the State.

After all, it was not found necessary to have an office competing with another office, trying to send out pinker postage-stamps or more picturesque postmen. It was not necessary to efficiency that the postmistress should buy a penny stamp for a halfpenny and sell it for twopence; or that she should haggle and beat customers down about the price of a postal order; or that she should always take tenders for telegrams. There was obviously nothing actually impossible about the State management of national needs; and the Post Office was at least tolerably managed. Though it was not always a model employer, by any means, it might be made so by similar methods. It was not impossible that equitable pay, and even equal pay, could be given to the Postmaster-General and the postman. We had only to extend this rule of public responsibility, and we should escape from all the terror of insecurity and torture of compassion, which hag-rides humanity in the insane extremes of economic inequality and injustice. As Mr. Shaw put it, "A man must save Society's honour before he can save his own."

That was one side of the argument: that the change would remove inequality; and there was an answer on the other side. It can be stated most truly by putting another model institution and edifice side by side with the Post Office. It is even more of an ideal republic, or commonwealth without competition or private profit. It supplies its citizens not only with the stamps but with clothes and food and lodging, and all they require. It observes considerable level of equality in these things; notably in the clothes. It not only supervises the letters but all the other human communications; notably the sort of evil communications that corrupt good manners. This twin model to the Post Office is called the Prison. And much of the scheme for a model State was regarded by its opponents as a scheme for a model prison; good because it fed men equally, but less acceptable since it imprisoned them equally.

It is better to be in a bad prison than in a good one. From the standpoint of the prisoner this is not at all a paradox; if only because in a bad prison he is more likely to escape. But apart from that, a man was in many ways better off in the old dirty and corrupt prison, where he could bribe turnkeys to bring him drink and meet fellow-prisoners to drink with. Now that is exactly the difference between the present system and the proposed system. Nobody worth talking about respects the present system. Capitalism is a corrupt prison. That is the best that can be said for Capitalism. But it is something to be said for it; for a man is a little freer in that corrupt prison than he would be in a complete prison. As a man can find one jailer more lax than another, so he could find one employer more kind than another; he has at least a choice of tyrants. In the other case he finds the same tyrant at every turn. Mr. Shaw and other rational Socialists have agreed that the State would be in practice government by a small group. Any independent man who disliked that group would find his foe waiting for him at the end of every road.

It may be said of Socialism, therefore, very briefly, that its friends recommended it as increasing equality, while its foes resisted it as decreasing liberty. On the one hand it was said that the State could provide homes and meals for all; on the other it was answered that this could only be done by State officials who would inspect houses and regulate meals. The compromise eventually made was one of the most interesting and even curious cases in history. It was decided to do everything that had ever been denounced in Socialism, and nothing that had ever been desired in it. Since it was supposed to gain equality at the sacrifice of liberty, we proceeded to prove that it was possible to sacrifice liberty without gaining equality. Indeed, there was not the faintest attempt to gain equality, least of all economic equality. But there was a very spirited and vigorous effort to eliminate liberty, by means of an entirely new crop of crude regulations and interferences. But it was not the Socialist State regulating those whom it fed, like children or even like convicts. It was the Capitalist State raiding those whom it had trampled and deserted in every sort of den, like outlaws or broken men. It occurred to the wiser sociologists that, after all, it would be easy to proceed more promptly to the main business of bullying men, without having gone through the laborious preliminary business of supporting them. After all, it was easy to inspect the house without having helped to build it; it was even possible, with luck, to inspect the house in time to prevent it being built. All that is described in the documents of the Housing Problem; for the people of this age loved problems and hated solutions. It was easy to restrict the diet without providing the dinner. All that can be found in the documents of what is called Temperance Reform.

In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad. All that official discipline, about which the Socialists themselves were in doubt or at least on the defensive, was taken over bodily by the Capitalists. They have now added all the bureaucratic tyrannies of a Socialist state to the old plutocratic tyrannies of a Capitalist State. For the vital point is that it did not in the smallest degree diminish the inequalities of a Capitalist State. It simply destroyed such individual liberties as remained among its victims. It did not enable any man to build a better house; it only limited the houses he might live in—or how he might manage to live there; forbidding him to keep pigs or poultry or to sell beer or cider. It did not even add anything to a man's wages; it only took away something from a man's wages and locked it up, whether he liked it or not, in a sort of money-box which was regarded as a medicine-chest. It does not send food into the house to feed the children; it only sends an inspector into the house to punish the parents for having no food to feed them. It does not see that they have got a fire; it only punishes them for not having a fireguard. It does not even occur to it to provide the fireguard.

Now this anomalous situation will probably ultimately evolve into the Servile State of Mr. Belloc's thesis. The poor will sink into slavery; it might as correctly be said that the poor will rise into slavery. That is to say, sooner or later, it is very probable that the rich will take over the philanthropic as well as the tyrannic side of the bargain; and will feed men like slaves as well as hunting them like outlaws. But for the purpose of my own argument it is not necessary to carry the process so far as this, or indeed any farther than it has already gone. The purely negative stage of interference, at which we have stuck for the present, is in itself quite favourable to all these eugenical experiments. The capitalist whose half-conscious thought and course of action I have simplified into a story in the preceding chapters, finds this insufficient solution quite sufficient for his purposes. What he has felt for a long time is that he must check or improve the reckless and random breeding of the submerged race, which is at once outstripping his requirements and failing to fulfil his needs. Now the anomalous situation has already accustomed him to stopping things. The first interferences with sex need only be negative; and there are already negative interferences without number. So that the study of this stage of Socialism brings us to the same conclusion as that of the ideal of liberty as formally professed by Liberalism. The ideal of liberty is lost, and the ideal of Socialism is changed, till it is a mere excuse for the oppression of the poor.

The first movements for intervention in the deepest domestic concerns of the poor all had this note of negative interference. Official papers were sent round to the mothers in poor streets; papers in which a total stranger asked these respectable women questions which a man would be killed for asking, in the class of what were called gentlemen or in the countries of what were called free men. They were questions supposed to refer to the conditions of maternity; but the point is here that the reformers did not begin by building up those economic or material conditions. They did not attempt to pay money or establish property to create those conditions. They never give anything—except orders. Another form of the intervention, and one already mentioned, is the kidnapping of children upon the most fantastic excuses of sham psychology. Some people established an apparatus of tests and trick questions; which might make an amusing game of riddles for the family fireside, but seems an insufficient reason for mutilating and dismembering the family. Others became interested in the hopeless moral condition of children born in the economic condition which they did not attempt to improve. They were great on the fact that crime was a disease; and carried on their criminological studies so successfully as to open the reformatory for little boys who played truant; there was no reformatory for reformers. I need not pause to explain that crime is not a disease. It is criminology that is a disease.

Finally one thing may be added which is at least clear. Whether or no the organisation of industry will issue positively in a eugenical reconstruction of the family, it has already issued negatively, as in the negations already noted, in a partial destruction of it. It took the form of a propaganda of popular divorce, calculated at least to accustom the masses to a new notion of the shifting and re-grouping of families. I do not discuss the question of divorce here, as I have done elsewhere, in its intrinsic character; I merely note it as one of these negative reforms which have been substituted for positive economic equality. It was preached with a weird hilarity, as if the suicide of love were something not only humane but happy. But it need not be explained, and certainly it need not be denied, that the harassed poor of a diseased industrialism were indeed maintaining marriage under every disadvantage, and often found individual relief in divorce. Industrialism does produce many unhappy marriages, for the same reason that it produces so many unhappy men. But all the reforms were directed to rescuing the industrialism rather than the happiness. Poor couples were to be divorced because they were already divided. Through all this modern muddle there runs the curious principle of sacrificing the ancient uses of things because they do not fit in with the modern abuses. When the tares are found in the wheat, the greatest promptitude and practicality is always shown in burning the wheat and gathering the tares into the barn. And since the serpent coiled about the chalice had dropped his poison in the wine of Cana, analysts were instantly active in the effort to preserve the poison and to pour away the wine.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats By The Brothers Grimm

The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids By The Brothers Grimm

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There was once upon a time an old goat who had seven little kids, and loved them with all the love of a mother for her children. One day she wanted to go into the forest and fetch some food. So she called all seven to her and said: ‘Dear children, I have to go into the forest, be on your guard against the wolf; if he comes in, he will devour you all—skin, hair, and everything. The wretch often disguises himself, but you will know him at once by his rough voice and his black feet.’ The kids said: ‘Dear mother, we will take good care of ourselves; you may go away without any anxiety.’ Then the old one bleated, and went on her way with an easy mind.

It was not long before someone knocked at the house-door and called: ‘Open the door, dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something back with her for each of you.’ But the little kids knew that it was the wolf, by the rough voice. ‘We will not open the door,’ cried they, ‘you are not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice, but your voice is rough; you are the wolf!’ Then the wolf went away to a shopkeeper and bought himself a great lump of chalk, ate this and made his voice soft with it. Then he came back, knocked at the door of the house, and called: ‘Open the door, dear children, your mother is here and has brought something back with her for each of you.’ But the wolf had laid his black paws against the window, and the children saw them and cried: ‘We will not open the door, our mother has not black feet like you: you are the wolf!’ Then the wolf ran to a baker and said: ‘I have hurt my feet, rub some dough over them for me.’ And when the baker had rubbed his feet over, he ran to the miller and said: ‘Strew some white meal over my feet for me.’ The miller thought to himself: ‘The wolf wants to deceive someone,’ and refused; but the wolf said: ‘If you will not do it, I will devour you.’ Then the miller was afraid, and made his paws white for him. Truly, this is the way of mankind.

So now the wretch went for the third time to the house-door, knocked at it and said: ‘Open the door for me, children, your dear little mother has come home, and has brought every one of you something back from the forest with her.’ The little kids cried: ‘First show us your paws that we may know if you are our dear little mother.’ Then he put his paws in through the window and when the kids saw that they were white, they believed that all he said was true, and opened the door. But who should come in but the wolf! They were terrified and wanted to hide themselves. One sprang under the table, the second into the bed, the third into the stove, the fourth into the kitchen, the fifth into the cupboard, the sixth under the washing-bowl, and the seventh into the clock-case. But the wolf found them all, and used no great ceremony; one after the other he swallowed them down his throat. The youngest, who was in the clock-case, was the only one he did not find. When the wolf had satisfied his appetite he took himself off, laid himself down under a tree in the green meadow outside, and began to sleep. Soon afterwards the old goat came home again from the forest. Ah! what a sight she saw there! The house-door stood wide open. The table, chairs, and benches were thrown down, the washing-bowl lay broken to pieces, and the quilts and pillows were pulled off the bed. She sought her children, but they were nowhere to be found. She called them one after another by name, but no one answered. At last, when she came to the youngest, a soft voice cried: ‘Dear mother, I am in the clock-case.’ She took the kid out, and it told her that the wolf had come and had eaten all the others. Then you may imagine how she wept over her poor children.

At length in her grief she went out, and the youngest kid ran with her. When they came to the meadow, there lay the wolf by the tree and snored so loud that the branches shook. She looked at him on every side and saw that something was moving and struggling in his gorged belly. ‘Ah, heavens,’ she said, ‘is it possible that my poor children whom he has swallowed down for his supper, can be still alive?’ Then the kid had to run home and fetch scissors, and a needle and thread, and the goat cut open the monster’s stomach, and hardly had she made one cut, than one little kid thrust its head out, and when she had cut farther, all six sprang out one after another, and were all still alive, and had suffered no injury whatever, for in his greediness the monster had swallowed them down whole. What rejoicing there was! They embraced their dear mother, and jumped like a tailor at his wedding. The mother, however, said: ‘Now go and look for some big stones, and we will fill the wicked beast’s stomach with them while he is still asleep.’ Then the seven kids dragged the stones thither with all speed, and put as many of them into this stomach as they could get in; and the mother sewed him up again in the greatest haste, so that he was not aware of anything and never once stirred.

When the wolf at length had had his fill of sleep, he got on his legs, and as the stones in his stomach made him very thirsty, he wanted to go to a well to drink. But when he began to walk and to move about, the stones in his stomach knocked against each other and rattled. Then cried he:

 ‘What rumbles and tumbles
  Against my poor bones?
  I thought ‘twas six kids,
  But it feels like big stones.’

And when he got to the well and stooped over the water to drink, the heavy stones made him fall in, and he drowned miserably. When the seven kids saw that, they came running to the spot and cried aloud: ‘The wolf is dead! The wolf is dead!’ and danced for joy round about the well with their mother.

When Native American Indians Owned Slaves By Herman Jeremias Nieboer 1910


When Native American Indians Owned Slaves By Herman Jeremias Nieboer 1910

See also: When Blacks Owned Slaves, by Calvin Dill Wilson 1905 and A History of White Slavery by Charles Sumner 1853 and When the Irish were Slaves, article in The Month 1890

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According to the census of 1860 several Indian tribes had Negro-slaves. Our informant enumerates the Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks and Chickasaws. Slavery was carried on to a great extent; some owners had from 50 to 200 slaves. We may remember that all these originally had no slaves.

The Creeks already in Bartram's time (1789..."The Creek and Cherokee Nations") had slaves. He tells us of a chief who kept 15 Negroes; they were slaves until they married Indian women, and then acquired the privileges of the tribe. Schoolcraft informs us that if an Indian should murder a Negro, the law is satisfied with the value of the Negro being paid to the owner.

The Seminoles also had Negro-slaves, according to Roosevelt and Gregg. But Maccauley is not quite certain about it. He observed a few Negroes living with them. It had been said that they were slaves; but our author is not of that opinion. Maccauley's account, however, dates from a later period than the other statements. (Gregg: Karawanenzuge durche die westlichen Prairieen und Wanderungen in Nord-Mejico; Roosevelt: The Winning of the West; Maccauley: The Seminole Indians of Florida)

The Shahnees in Gregg's time also kept a few Negro slaves.

Amongst the French Creoles the rich possessed slaves, Negroes imported from Africa and Indians overcome and taken in battle.

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From STATEMENT OF J. COODY JOHNSON, A CREEK FBEEDMAN, MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE CREEK NATION (Five Civilized Tribes, Congressional Edition 1907)
You are doubtless aware that the citizenship of the Creek Nation is composed of a mixed multitude, I might say, of people of various nationalities. One of the reasons for that is that in 1866 and prior thereto the Creek Indians, along with other citizens of the United States, were pleased to own slaves—persons of African descent and blood—and on the abolition of slavery the proclamation of emancipation found these slaves—these persons who had been slaves—residents of the Creek Nation. The Creeks, in making their treaty of 1866 between themselves and the United States Government, saw fit to make citizens of these people who had been their slaves. Some gentlemen take the position that they became free in spite of the Indians; but I say that they made citizens of them of their own free volition. That is evident, because there was no reason why those people should be given citizenship among those Indians if the Indians had not so desired.

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From Indians: the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory: The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Chocktaw, Creek and Seminole By United States. Census Office. 11th Census, 1890
The negroes, once slaves of The Five Tribes, are of much interest in connection with the final settlement of the land question. The Five Tribes, except the Seminoles, all owned slaves prior to and during the war.

Don Cheadle Finds Out Native Americans Owned His Ancestors


A Criticism of Sherlock Holmes - article in The Academy 1897


Sherlock Holmes - A Criticism, article in The Academy 1897

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“MY point is that the character, the theories the position, and the methods, always, and the incidents and phrases often, which have made Sherlock Holmes a household word, are taken directly from Dupin and from Lecoq." This is the clinching sentence of a four column article on Dr. Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” series of stories, with which Mr. Robert Blatchford has just surprised the readers of the Clarion. Mr. Blatchford, like the rest of us, heartily enjoyed Dr. Doyle's stories when they appeared in the Strand Magazine; but he had his own opinion about Holmes as compared with such detectives as Poe’s Dupin or Gaboriau’s Lecoq. It will be remembered that Dr. Doyle had his too. In “A Study in Scarlet" he makes Sherlock Holmes say:

“No doubt you think you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin. Now, in my opIimon, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. . .he had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.

Lecoq was a miserable bungler; he had only one thing to recommend him, an that was his energy. That book made me positively ill. The question was how to identify an unknown prisoner. I could have done it in twenty-four hours. Lecoq took six months or so. It might be made a text-book for detectives to teach them what to avoid.”

It is clear that this passage has rankled in Mr. Blatchford's mind; indeed, he admits it, and when an attack of influenza suddenly widened his leisure, he began to look into the matter. With this result: “Let us see," says Mr. Blatchford, “how far Mr. Sherlock Holmes’s contempt for his masters is justified by the facts”; and he proceeds to give an example of the work of that “very inferior fellow,” Dupin:

“A girl was murdered near New York. The case created a great sensation, all the leading papers suggested theories of the crime, and the police were completely baffled.

Then Edgar Allen Poe wrote a story called ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget,’ in which he set his imaginary detective, Dupin, to work to explain how the murder had been committed. Poe wrote at a distance from the scene of the crime, and with no other data than those found in the Press. He kept closely to the facts of the murder, changing only the names of places and persons, and he made Dupin unravel the whole mystery by a process of pure inductive reason.

Some years afterwards two persons at different places and at different times confessed, and in their confessions confirmed in full ‘not only the general conclusion, but absolutely all the chief by hypothetical details by which that conclusion was attained.’

That is to say, that Dupin, the trifler, the ‘inferior fellow’ actually applied to a real case the methods supposed to be peculiar to Sherlock Holmes, and discovered not only the murderer but all the steps taken in perpetration of the crime.

Should we be justified now in calling Sherlock Holmes is trifler or an inferior fellow if in any one of Conan Doyle's stories he had actually explained, and truly explained all the mystery of the crimes of Jack the Ripper?”


Mr. Blatchford, who is evidently extremely well versed in Poe and Gaboriau, goes on to give extracts and instances tending to show that Sherlock Holmes’s methods of criminal investigation have been anticipated by these writers. The following passage will show Mr. Blatchford’s line of criticism:

“Dr. Doyle's second book, ‘The Sign of Four,’ absorbs a good deal of Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue.’

Thus, in Poe's tale the murders are done by an ape, which has escaped from a sailor. In Conan Doyle's tale the murder is done by a small savage from the Andaman Isles, who is with a sailor. In both cases the murder is done against the sailor's wish. In the one case Dupin deduces the ape from a handprint, in the other Holmes deduces the savage from a footprint.

‘I wish you particularly to notice these footmarks,’ he said; ‘do you observe anything noteworthy about them?’

‘They belong,’ I said, ‘to a child or a small woman.’

‘Apart from their size, though, is there nothing else?’

‘They appear to be much as other footmarks.’

‘Not at all. Look here! This is the print of the right foot in the dust. Now I make one with my naked foot beside it. What is the chief difference?’

‘Your toes are all cramped together. The other print has each toe distinctively divided.’”

Now compare Dupin and his hand-print:

“‘You will perceive,’ continued my friend, spreading out the paper upon the table before us. ‘that this drawing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. There is no slipping apparent. Each finger has retained— possibly until the death of the victim—the fearful grasp by which it originally imbedded itself. Attempt now to place all your fingers, at the same time, in the respective impressions as you see them.’

I made the attempt in vain.

‘We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial,’ he said. ‘the paper’s spread out upon a plain surface; but the human throat is cylindrical. Here is a billet of wood, the circumference of which is about that of the throat. Wrap the drawing around it and try the experiment again.’

I did so, but the difficulty was even more obvious than before. ‘This,’ I said, ‘is the mark of no human hand.’

But the resemblance between the methods of Holmes and those of the ‘very inferior fellow,’ Dupin, does not end there, for in the ‘Rue Morgue’ Dupin takes up a volume of Cuvier, and shows his friend an account of a large and fierce outrang-outang, with special allusion to his hands, and in ‘The Sign of Four’ Holmes shows Watson in an encyclopaedia an account of the savage races of the Andaman Islands, with special allusion to their feet. See ‘Sign of Four,’ pp. 158-9 and ‘Rue Morgue,’ p. 213-14.

In ‘The Sign of Four’ the description of the sailor, Jonathan Small, is very like the description of the Maltese sailor in ‘The Rue Morgue.’ In ‘The Sign of Four’ Holmes says:

‘I argued that the launch must be no great way off in spite of its invisibility. I then put myself in the place of Small, and looked at it as a man of his capacity would.’

Compare the words in italics with Poe's statement in ‘The Purloined Letter.’

‘Now this mode of reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows termed “lucky,” what, in its last analysis, is it?’

‘It is merely,’ said I, ‘an identification of the reasoner’s intellect with that of his opponent.’

One cannot read ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ and ‘The Purloined Letter’ together without being struck by the analogy. In one story the thin to be recovered is a letter stolen from the Queen of France. In the other it is a portrait given to a lady by the King of Bohemia. In both cases the detective enters the room of the person holding the desired object; in both cases an emeute is organized by the detective outside the house. In both cases the method of attack and the process of thought employed are identical.

Let anyone with a good knowledge of Sherlock Holmes study the three stories by Poe, and he cannot fail to perceive the indebtedness of Conan Doyle to the American author.”

It must not be supposed that Mr. Blatchford is not an admirer and a great admirer, of Dr. Conan Doyle's most famous creation.

After examining many other instances of Mr. Sherlock Holmes's feats of detection, and finding in them, as he thinks, traces of indebtedness to the creators of the heroes of Poe's and Gaboriau’s stories, Mr. Blatchford says:

“Is there, then, nothing new in the new detective? There is. One of the most fascinating and ingenius characteristics of Sherlock Holmes is his faculty for reading the men and women he meets as though they were books. His deductions from a soiled hat, a scratched watch, a splashed trouser, or a scarred hand, are peculiar to him, and always come upon the reader as a surprise. Mycroft Holmes, also, is a fine character, and I, for one, wish that Dr. Doyle would give us more of him. . . Dr. Doyle is more ‘readable’ than Gaboriau or Edgar Allan Poe. His language is simpler, his stories are shorter, his mode of telling is clearer; he uses short sentences, and he judiciously waters down Poe's abstruse philosophy, and avoids Gaboriau's labored sentiment. But, after all, he is only an industrious and skillful mechanic: Edgar Allan Poe was a genius and an inventor.”

We do not know that the keenly scrutinizing Sherlock Holmes has been so scrutinized before. But we fancy that the range of invention possible to a writer of detective stories is smaller than is commonly imagined— The Academy.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Prejudice Against the Occult by Henry S Whitehead 1922


Editorial Prejudice Against the Occult by Henry S Whitehead 1922

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Said a famous editor not so very long ago in writing to one of his contributors: " . . . but my dear fellow, if you are aiming to enlist against you the suspicion — nay, the actual enmity — of the average editor, send him a Ghost Story, a Fairy Story, or a Dream Story. If you want to be absolutely certain of such an effect, make it a Dream Story!"

These three classes of stories may be said to merge into what is generally understood under the caption, "The Occult." And "the occult" in this general sense of the term is banned by most magazines. Authors who "try one on an editor" are apt to get their tales back in haste; yet there is the well known fact that readers revel in tales of this general type! Moreover, there is hardly an author of note who has not done good work in this field, or at least tried his hand at "the occult."

It is, for example, to "The Messenger," written in the golden nineties, that the partizans of Robert Chambers are apt to turn in his defence when pressed. It appears to be conceded that "The Mark of the Beast" is Rudyard Kipling's high-water mark. Has any comparatively modern tale been reprinted more times than "The Phantom Rickshaw"? Does not Bram Stoker's finger clasp relentlessly the edge of "The granite brink in Helicon" (Ezra Pound) because of "Dracula"?

Possibly the editorial tradition noted is still laboring under the weight of the Gothic Ghost — the kind of ghost which rattled its chains in "The Castle of Otranto"; but Walpole was not a Mary Wilkins Freeman. The ghosts of the pre-Poe period are quite hopeless unless as material for getting a Ph.D.! They are not the "ghosts" of Arthur Machen, or Rudyard Kipling; of M. R. James, or Algernon Blackwood. They are not even kindred to the "ghosts" of Elliott O'Donnell, Miss Freeman, George Adams Cram, or Ambrose Bierce, to say nothing of William Hope Hodgson and his "Carnacki," or even W. W. Jacobs, who has to sandwich his "ghosts" in between talcs of "Ginger Dick" and "Wapping Old Stairs" to get a hearing for them!

What real reader does not know "John Silence"? Who, once having dipped into "The House of Souls" would not set it down as the third of the five books to take into life imprisonment with him — or even the second, if he be a Baconian.

It seems hardly necessary to adduce to-day's enormous interest in spiritistic phenomena in this connection, although this would be a legitimate argument in favor of "the occult" as showing which way the popular wind is blowing. The word "spiritism" at once conjures up the names of Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as The Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. And it is a fact that there is just now growing up a generation of readers for whom the Doyle of "Sherlock Holmes" is an obsolescent figure, disappearing behind the Doyle who is championing spiritism.

Fairy Stories! Howard Pyle! Andersen! The Gebruder Grimm! Andrew Lang! Why, the last-named dear old gentleman must have made a comfortable fortune with his kaleidoscopic catena of Fairy Books! It would be interesting to know what proportion of the constant readers of the Strand Magazine take it for the monthly fairy tale.

Dreams! "Peter Ibbotson"! "A Dream of Armageddon"! "Gerontius"! "Dream Life" and "Reveries of a Bachelor"! "Dreams"! Du Maurier, H. G. Wells, Cardinal Newman, Donald G. Mitchell, and Olive Schreiner! Could any other common interest conceivably have brought together such a group of diverse intellects? Dreams make queer assortments of literary bedfellows. And it is simply because dreams have invaded the realm of scientific psychology as contrasted with literary, that Sigmund Freud has become one of the great ones of earth. Many of the "intelligentsia" to whom Freud and his satellites Jung and Adler are restaurant-words (there being no longer households to have words among the "intelligentsia,") have never heard, say, of Jelliffe, or Janet, or Edward Cowles, all of them very much greater psychologists than Freud and his immediate following. Yet there is perhaps nothing today, not even excepting the late excitement about the League of Nations, which has so intrigued the popular mind as Freud's Dream Psychology, and its concomitant, psychoanalysis.

From the day of Joseph, backward and forward, dreams and the occult have been fascinating people's minds with the perennial lure of their mystery. Ghost Stories, Fairy Stories, and Dream Stories — the occult in fiction — have always been unfailingly alluring to the popular mind. The inventor of the ouija board is said upon sound authority to have made more than a million dollars from, its sale!

In Erse and Choctaw, in the Hieroglyphics and in the Sumerian; in Kalmuck, and Finnish, and Hebrew, there are and always have been Ghost Stories, and Fairy Stories, and Dream Stories. They have been told and are being told — and read — from the bazaars of Oodeypore to the Steppes; from the lamaseries of Tibet to the Beach of Easter Island. In China, in Afghanistan, in Ireland, and Down in Maine, people are positively clamoring for Ghost Stories and Fairy Stories and Dream Stories.

Why, O why, do not the magazine editors give the people what they want?

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Importance of Plato by Alexander Wilder 1898


THE TEACHINGS OF PLATO BY PROFESSOR ALEXANDER WILDER, M.D. 1898

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"'Eagle! why soarest thou above that tomb?
To what sublime and starry-paven home
Floatest thou?'
'I am the image of great Plato's spirit
Ascending heaven; Athens doth inherit
His corpse below.'"

"OUT of Plato" says Ralph Waldo Emerson "come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought." All else seems ephemeral, perishing with the day. The science and mechanic arts of the present time, which are prosecuted with so much assiduity, are superficial and short-lived. When Doctor James Simpson succeeded his distinguished uncle at the University of Edinburgh, he directed the librarian to remove the text-books which were more than ten years old, as obsolete. The skilled inventions and processes in mechanism have hardly a longer duration. Those which were exhibited at the first World's Fair in 1851 are now generally gone out of use, and those displayed at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876 are fast giving place to newer ones that serve the purposes better. All the science which is comprised within the purview of the senses, is in like manner, unstable and subject to transmutation. What appears to-day to be fundamental fact is very certain to be found, to-morrow, to be dependent upon something beyond. It is like the rustic's hypothesis that the earth stands upon a rock, and that upon another rock, and so on; there being rocks all the way down. But Philosophy, penetrating to the profounder truth and including the Over-Knowledge in its field, never grows old. never becomes out of date, but abides through the ages in perennial freshness.

The style and even the tenor of the Dialogues have been criticised, either from misapprehension of their purport or from a desire to disparage Plato himself. There is a vanity for being regarded as original, or as first to open the way into a new field of thought and investigation, which is sometimes as deep-seated as a cancer and about as difficult to eradicate. From this, however, Plato was entirely free. His personality is everywhere veiled by his philosophy.

At the time when Plato flourished, the Grecian world had undergone great revolutions. The former times had passed away. Herakles and Theseus, the heroes of the Myths, were said to have vanquished the manslaying monsters of the worship of Hippa and Poseidon, or in other words supplanting the Pelasgian period by the Hellenic and Ionian. The arcane rites of Demeter had been softened and made to represent a drama of soul-history. The Tragedians had also modified and popularized the worship of Dionysos at the Theatre-Temple of Athens. Philosophy, first appearing in Ionia had come forth into bolder view, and planted itself upon the firm foundation of psychologic truth. Plato succeeded to all, to the Synthetists of the Mysteries, the Dramatists of the Stage, to Sokrates and those who had been philosophers before him.

Great as he was, he was the outcome of the best thought of his time. In a certain sense there has been no new religion. Every world-faith has come from older ones as the result of new inspiration, and Philosophy has its source in religious veneration. Plato himself recognized the archaic Wisdom-Religion as "the most unalloyed form of worship, to the Philosophy of which, in primitive ages, Zoroaster made many additions drawn from the Mysteries of the Chaldeans." When the Persian influence extended into Asia Minor, there sprung up philosophers in Ionia and Greece. The further progress of the religion of Mazda was arrested at Salamis, but the evangel of the Pure Thought, Pure Word, and Pure Deed was destined to permeate the Western World during the succeeding ages. Plato gave voice to it, and we find the marrow of the Oriental Wisdom in his dialectic. He seems to have joined the occult lore of the East, the conceptions of other teachers, and the undermeaning of the arcane rites, the physical and metaphysical learning of India and Asia, and wrought the whole into forms adapted to European comprehension.

His leading discourses, those which are most certainly genuine, are characterized by the inductive method. He displays a multitude of particulars for the purpose of inferring a general truth. He does not endeavor so much to implant his own conviction as to enable the hearer and reader to attain one intelligently, for themselves. He is in quest of principles, and leading the argument to that goal. Some of the Dialogues are described as after the manner of the Bacchic dithyrambic, spoken or chanted at the Theatre; others are transcripts of Philosophic conversations. Plato was not so much teaching as showing others how to learn.

His aim was to set forth the nature of man and the end of his being. The great questions of who, whence and whither, comprise what he endeavored to illustrate. Instead of dogmatic affirmation, the arbitrary ipse dixit of Pythagoras and his oath of secrecy, we have a friend, one like ourselves, familiarly and patiently leading us on to investigation as though we were doing it of our own accord. Arrogance and pedantic assumption were out of place in the Akademe.

The whole Platonic teaching is based upon the concept of Absolute Goodness. Plato was vividly conscious of the immense profundity of the subject. "To discover the Creator and Father of this universe, as well as his operation, is indeed difficult; and when discovered it is impossible to reveal him." In him Truth, Justice and the Beautiful are eternally one. Hence the idea of the Good is the highest branch of study.

There is a criterion by which to know the truth, and Plato sought it out. The perceptions of sense fail utterly to furnish it. The law of right for example, is not the law of the strongest, but what is always expedient for the strongest. The criterion is therefore no less than the conceptions innate in every human soul. These relate to that which is true, because it is ever-abiding. What is true is always right—right and therefore supreme: eternal and therefore always good. In its inmost essence it is Being itself; in its form by which we are able to contemplate it, it is justice and virtue in the concepts of essence, power and energy.

These concepts are in every human soul and determine all forms of our thought. We encounter them in our most common experiences and recognize them as universal principles, infinite and absolute. However latent and dormant they may seem, they are ready to be aroused, and they enable us to distinguish spontaneously the wrong from the right. They are memories, we are assured, that belong to our inmost being, and to the eternal world. They accompanied the soul into this region of time, of ever-becoming and of sense. The soul, therefore, or rather its inmost spirit or intellect, is of and from eternity. It is not so much an inhabitant of the world of nature as a sojourner from the eternal region. Its trend and ulterior destination are accordingly toward the beginning from which it originally set out.

The Vision of Eros in the tenth book of the Republic suggests the archaic conception generally entertained that human beings dying from the earth are presently born into new forms of existence, till the three Weird Sisters shall have finished their task and the circle of Necessity is completed. The events of each succeeding term of life take a direction from what has occurred before. Much may be imputed to heredity, but not all. This is implied in the question of the disciples to Jesus: "Which sinned, this person or his parents, that he should be born blind." We all are conscious of some occurrence or experience that seems to pertain to a former term of life. It appears to us as if we had witnessed scenes before, which must be some recollection, except it be a remembrance inherited from ancestors, or some spiritual essence has transferred it as from a camera obscura into our consciousness. We may account it certain, at any rate, that we are inhabitants of eternity, and of that eternity Time is as a colonial possession and distinct allotment.

Every thing pertaining to this world of time and sense, is constantly changing, and whatever it discloses to us is illusive. The laws and reasons of things must be found out elsewhere. We must search in the world which is beyond appearances, beyond sensation and its illusions. There are in all minds certain qualities or principles which underlie our faculty of knowing. These principles are older than experience, for they govern it; and while they combine more or less with our observations, they are superior and universal, and they are apprehended by us as infinite and absolute. They are our memories of the life of the eternal world, and it is the province of the philosophic discipline to call them into activity as the ideals of goodness and truth and beauty, and thus awaken the soul to the cognizing of God.

This doctrine of ideas or idealities lies at the foundation of the Platonic teachings. It assumes first of all, the presence and operation of the Supreme Intelligence, an essence which transcends and contains the principles of goodness, truth, and order. Every form or ideal, every relation and every principle of right must be ever present to the Divine Thought. Creation in all its details is necessarily the image and manifestation of these ideas. "That which imparts truth to knowable things," says Plato, "that which gives to the knower the power of knowing the truth, is the Idea of the Good, and you are to conceive of this as the Source of knowledge and truth."

A cognition of the phenomena of the universe may not be considered as a real knowing. We must perceive that which is stable and unchanging,—that which really is. It is not enough to be able to regard what is beautiful and contemplate right conduct. The philosopher, the lover of wisdom, looks beyond these to the Actual Beauty,—to righteousness itself. This is the episteme of Plato, the superior, transcendent knowing. This knowledge is actual participating in the eternal principles themselves—the possessing of them as elements of our own being.

Upon this, Plato bases the doctrine of our immortality. These principles, the ideals of truth, beauty and goodness are eternal, and those who possess them are ever-living. The learning of them is simply the bringing of them into conscious remembrance.

In regard to Evil, Plato did not consider it as inherent in human nature. "Nobody is willingly evil," he declares; "but when any one does evil it is only as the imagined means to some good end. But in the nature of things, there must always be a something contrary to good. It cannot have its seat with the gods, being utterly opposed to them, and so of necessity hovers round this finite mortal nature, and this region of time and ever-changing. Wherefore," he declares, "we ought to fly hence." He does not mean that we ought to hasten to die, for he taught that nobody could escape from evil or eliminate it from himself by dying. This flight is effected by resembling God as much as is possible; "and this resemblance consists in becoming just and holy through wisdom." There is no divine anger or favor to be propitiated; nothing else than a becoming like the One, absolutely good.

When Eutyphron explained that whatever is pleasing to the gods is holy, and that that which is hateful to them is impious, Sokrates appealed to the statements of the Poets, that there were angry differences between the gods, so that the things and persons that were acceptable to some of them were hateful to the others. Everything holy and sacred must also be just. Thus he suggested a criterion to determine the matter, to which every god in the Pantheon must be subject. They were subordinate beings, and as is elsewhere taught, are younger than the Demiurgus.

No survey of the teachings of the Akademe, though only intended to be partial, will be satisfactory which omits a mention of the Platonic Love. Yet it is essential to regard the subject philosophically. For various reasons our philosopher speaks much in metaphor, and they who construe his language in literal senses will often err. His Banquet is a symposium of thought, and in no proper sense a drinking bout. He is always moral, and when in his discourse he begins familiarly with things as they existed around him, it was with a direct purpose to lead up to what they are when absolutely right. Love, therefore, which is recognized as a complacency and attraction between human beings, he declares to be unprolific of higher intellect. It is his aim to exalt it to an aspiration for the higher and better. The mania or inspiration of Love is the greatest of Heaven's blessings, he declares, and it is given for the sake of producing the greatest blessedness. "What is Love?" asked Sokrates of the God-honored Mantineke. "He is a great daemon," she replies, "and, like all daemons, is intermediate between Divinity and mortal. He interprets between gods and men, conveying to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to men the commands and replies of the gods. He is the mediator who spans the chasm that divides them; in him all is bound together and through him the arts of the prophet and priest, their sacrifices and initiations and charms, and all prophecy and incantation find their way. For God mingles not with men, but through Love all the intercourse and speech of God with men, whether awake or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts or handicrafts, is mean and vulgar. Now these spiritual essences or intermediaries are many and diverse, and one of them is Love."

It is manifest then, that Plato emulates no mere physical attraction, no passionless friendship, but an ardent, amorous quest of the Soul for the Good and the True. It surpasses the former as the sky exceeds the earth. Plato describes it in glowing terms: "We, having been initiated and admitted to the beatific vision, journeyed with the chorus of heaven; beholding ravishing beauties ineffable and possessing transcendent knowledge; for we were freed from the contamination of that earth to which we are bound here, as an oyster to his shell."

In short, goodness was the foundation of his ethics, and a divine intuition the core of all his doctrines.

When, however, we seek after detail and formula for a religious or philosophic system, Plato fails us. Herein each must minister to himself. The Akademe comprised method rather than system; how to know the truth, what fields to explore, what tortuous paths and pitfalls to shun. Every one is left free in heart and mind to deduce his own conclusions. It is the Truth, and not Plato or any other teacher, that makes us free. And we are free only in so far as we perceive the Supernal Beauty and apprehend the Good.

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Arthur Schopenhauer on Intellectuals



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When one sees the number and variety of institutions which exist for the purposes of education, and the vast throng of scholars and masters, one might fancy the human race to be very much concerned about truth and wisdom. But here, too, appearances are deceptive. The masters teach in order to gain money, and strive, not after wisdom, but the outward show and reputation of it; and the scholars learn, not for the sake of knowledge and insight, but to be able to chatter and give themselves airs. Every thirty years a new race comes into the world—a youngster that knows nothing about anything, and after summarily devouring in all haste the results of human knowledge as they have been accumulated for thousands of years, aspires to be thought cleverer than the whole of the past. For this purpose he goes to the University, and takes to reading books—new books, as being of his own age and standing. Everything he reads must be briefly put, must be new! he is new himself. Then he falls to and criticizes. And here I am not taking the slightest account of studies pursued for the sole object of making a living.

Students, and learned persons of all sorts and every age, aim as a rule at acquiring information rather than insight. They pique themselves upon knowing about everything—stones, plants, battles, experiments, and all the books in existence. It never occurs to them that information is only a means of insight, and in itself of little or no value; that it is his way of thinking that makes a man a philosopher. When I hear of these portents of learning and their imposing erudition, I sometimes say to myself: Ah, how little they must have had to think about, to have been able to read so much! And when I actually find it reported of the elder Pliny that he was continually reading or being read to, at table, on a journey, or in his bath, the question forces itself upon my mind, whether the man was so very lacking in thought of his own that he had to have alien thought incessantly instilled into him; as though he were a consumptive patient taking jellies to keep himself alive. And neither his undiscerning credulity nor his inexpressibly repulsive and barely intelligible style—which seems like of a man taking notes, and very economical of paper—is of a kind to give me a high opinion of his power of independent thought.

We have seen that much reading and learning is prejudicial to thinking for oneself; and, in the same way, through much writing and teaching, a man loses the habit of being quite clear, and therefore thorough, in regard to the things he knows and understands; simply because he has left himself no time to acquire clearness or thoroughness. And so, when clear knowledge fails him in his utterances, he is forced to fill out the gaps with words and phrases. It is this, and not the dryness of the subject-matter, that makes most books such tedious reading. There is a saying that a good cook can make a palatable dish even out of an old shoe; and a good writer can make the dryest things interesting.

With by far the largest number of learned men, knowledge is a means, not an end. That is why they will never achieve any great work; because, to do that, he who pursues knowledge must pursue it as an end, and treat everything else, even existence itself, as only a means. For everything which a man fails to pursue for its own sake is but half-pursued; and true excellence, no matter in what sphere, can be attained only where the work has been produced for its own sake alone, and not as a means to further ends.

And so, too, no one will ever succeed in doing anything really great and original in the way of thought, who does not seek to acquire knowledge for himself, and, making this the immediate object of his studies, decline to trouble himself about the knowledge of others. But the average man of learning studies for the purpose of being able to teach and write. His head is like a stomach and intestines which let the food pass through them undigested. That is just why his teaching and writing is of so little use. For it is not upon undigested refuse that people can be nourished, but solely upon the milk which secretes from the very blood itself.

The wig is the appropriate symbol of the man of learning, pure and simple. It adorns the head with a copious quantity of false hair, in lack of one's own: just as erudition means endowing it with a great mass of alien thought. This, to be sure, does not clothe the head so well and naturally, nor is it so generally useful, nor so suited for all purposes, nor so firmly rooted; nor when alien thought is used up, can it be immediately replaced by more from the same source, as is the case with that which springs from soil of one's own. So we find Sterne, in his Tristram Shandy, boldly asserting that an ounce of a man's own wit is worth a ton of other people's.

And in fact the most profound erudition is no more akin to genius than a collection of dried plants in like Nature, with its constant flow of new life, ever fresh, ever young, ever changing. There are no two things more opposed than the childish naïveté of an ancient author and the learning of his commentator.

Dilettanti, dilettanti! This is the slighting way in which those who pursue any branch of art or learning for the love and enjoyment of the thing,—per il loro diletto, are spoken of by those who have taken it up for the sake of gain, attracted solely by the prospect of money. This contempt of theirs comes from the base belief that no man will seriously devote himself to a subject, unless he is spurred on to it by want, hunger, or else some form of greed. The public is of the same way of thinking; and hence its general respect for professionals and its distrust of dilettanti. But the truth is that the dilettante treats his subject as an end, whereas the professional, pure and simple, treats it merely as a means. He alone will be really in earnest about a matter, who has a direct interest therein, takes to it because he likes it, and pursues it con amore. It is these, and not hirelings, that have always done the greatest work.

In the republic of letters it is as in other republics; favor is shown to the plain man—he who goes his way in silence and does not set up to be cleverer than others. But the abnormal man is looked upon as threatening danger; people band together against him, and have, oh! such a majority on their side.

The condition of this republic is much like that of a small State in America, where every man is intent only upon his own advantage, and seeks reputation and power for himself, quite heedless of the general weal, which then goes to ruin. So it is in the republic of letters; it is himself, and himself alone, that a man puts forward, because he wants to gain fame. The only thing in which all agree is in trying to keep down a really eminent man, if he should chance to show himself, as one who would be a common peril. From this it is easy to see how it fares with knowledge as a whole.

Between professors and independent men of learning there has always been from of old a certain antagonism, which may perhaps be likened to that existing been dogs and wolves. In virtue of their position, professors enjoy great facilities for becoming known to their contemporaries. Contrarily, independent men of learning enjoy, by their position, great facilities for becoming known to posterity; to which it is necessary that, amongst other and much rarer gifts, a man should have a certain leisure and freedom. As mankind takes a long time in finding out on whom to bestow its attention, they may both work together side by side.

He who holds a professorship may be said to receive his food in the stall; and this is the best way with ruminant animals. But he who finds his food for himself at the hands of Nature is better off in the open field.

Of human knowledge as a whole and in every branch of it, by far the largest part exists nowhere but on paper,—I mean, in books, that paper memory of mankind. Only a small part of it is at any given period really active in the minds of particular persons. This is due, in the main, to the brevity and uncertainty of life; but it also comes from the fact that men are lazy and bent on pleasure. Every generation attains, on its hasty passage through existence, just so much of human knowledge as it needs, and then soon disappears. Most men of learning are very superficial. Then follows a new generation, full of hope, but ignorant, and with everything to learn from the beginning. It seizes, in its turn, just so much as it can grasp or find useful on its brief journey and then too goes its way. How badly it would fare with human knowledge if it were not for the art of writing and printing! This it is that makes libraries the only sure and lasting memory of the human race, for its individual members have all of them but a very limited and imperfect one. Hence most men of learning as are loth to have their knowledge examined as merchants to lay bare their books.

Human knowledge extends on all sides farther than the eye can reach; and of that which would be generally worth knowing, no one man can possess even the thousandth part.

All branches of learning have thus been so much enlarged that he who would "do something" has to pursue no more than one subject and disregard all others. In his own subject he will then, it is true, be superior to the vulgar; but in all else he will belong to it. If we add to this that neglect of the ancient languages, which is now-a-days on the increase and is doing away with all general education in the humanities—for a mere smattering of Latin and Greek is of no use—we shall come to have men of learning who outside their own subject display an ignorance truly bovine.

An exclusive specialist of this kind stands on a par with a workman in a factory, whose whole life is spent in making one particular kind of screw, or catch, or handle, for some particular instrument or machine, in which, indeed, he attains incredible dexterity. The specialist may also be likened to a man who lives in his own house and never leaves it. There he is perfectly familiar with everything, every little step, corner, or board; much as Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's Nôtre Dame knows the cathedral; but outside it, all is strange and unknown.

For true culture in the humanities it is absolutely necessary that a man should be many-sided and take large views; and for a man of learning in the higher sense of the word, an extensive acquaintance with history is needful. He, however, who wishes to be a complete philosopher, must gather into his head the remotest ends of human knowledge: for where else could they ever come together?

It is precisely minds of the first order that will never be specialists. For their very nature is to make the whole of existence their problem; and this is a subject upon which they will every one of them in some form provide mankind with a new revelation. For he alone can deserve the name of genius who takes the All, the Essential, the Universal, for the theme of his achievements; not he who spends his life in explaining some special relation of things one to another.