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of horror, the viscous fleshy things, clammy polypi, bulging, translucent cucumber-objects smelling of the peevish brine. They are struggling, heaving, dying ; on them,
, on these creatures of the silent, moving sea, settles the nauseating faintness of the unsubstantial air. Such pleasure as they give him is horrible, physiological, almost obscene.
But the Idealist, to use an exquisite simile of Mr. Henry James' in “The Middle Years," is the man who visits“ the great glazed tank of art.” There in the vivarium, through the glimmering panes, under the loops and lines of light, and among the bursting bubbles, on the dim sand, in dusky corners, on jutting shelves of the rock, the strange sea-monsters, all humps and horns, lie at their ease. Strange they are and horrible; but it is a cleanly, a spectacular horror.
They are quiet, they are at home. They twiddle their mandibles, they rise and walk, with clumsy groping motions. But there is no vile invasion : they are safe behind the crystal wall.
It is thus that I have tried to show my own gallery of persons. I have not burrowed into heir secrets, or tried to nose out scandals. Beyond their studies I have not followed them. Chere has been none of that “ripping up, like rigs," which Lord Tennyson so forcibly depreated. I have tried to respect the reticences of hese persons, their concealments, their caprices.
They are not sliced into sections and bottled, but sketched with what would fain be a careful and affectionate hand. We can
never see too much of desirable people. Though my heroes did not all deal with life in a sharp, business-like way, making the most of its pleasures, and shirking its pains, yet they lived and wrote with dignity.
Dignity! That is the saving quality! No matter how mean the surroundings, how squalid the furniture of life, dignity is always possible, always desirable. Victor Hugo's old rag-picker, cataloguing the horrors she disinterred, with her plate, her pot, her basket, respected herself and her calling, and thought her disposition of scraps worthy of interested description.
Only, our dignity must not be a mere mask; it must not be studied for itself; it must not be a robe sedulously arranged over a skeleton ; but it must be the outer radiance of truth and hope and courage.
For of all fates the most deplorable is, as the wise Greek said, to be opened and found empty.
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