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to say, and in the present case, the remark germinated, expanded, bore fruit-a great deal too much fruit and of an injurious kind. On ne badine pas avec la gloire.
I do not pretend greatly to blame the friend of the young criminal for his yarn about the authenticity of the hat. If he had said nothing, the result would have been the same. There it was—the glorious triangle, with its fine, clear, imperial contours, which took the heart of the young enthusiast by storm. The “psychic evolution"-as the learned say-was inevitable. The dreaming youth could by no means escape his destiny. He became a thief through his capacity for disinterested affection.
I find it interesting also as a psychological student, to trace the mental processes of this highly sympathetic kleptomaniac. The phenomena resemble those of "crystallization,” as described by
Stendhal. They begin with simple curiosity.
“What is that hat?”
“Why it is just a Bonaparte-hat. Nothing more.” (Reflection. Revery:with a gradual tendency toward the fixed idea.)
"See here! That hat_”
(He never told me that. I had to tear the precious secret out of him. He really has the immortal General's little three-cornered hat!)
And now jealousy comes in-that incalculable aid to love, which imparts to the tender passion invincible force, and insatiable concupiscence. Henceforth a vulgar bit of head-covering will be regarded as the rarest treasure under the sun. Its possessor must of course be perfectly happy; and yet the
idea that it is possessed is frightful, excruciating, a perpetual torment.
And who is the happy man? He is one-"aye, there's the rub!"-one wlio seems not to appreciate in the very least the worth of the beloved object; who treats it with familiarity and even contempt, as an ordinary article of domestic furniture. It is not to be borne!
Rape, under such circumstances, becomes a simple act of justice; or rather of homage richly due and basely withheld. It concerns the honor of the great Napoleon, that his hat should be in the possession of one who esteems it at its true worth.
A duty is to be performed, and no man of true delicacy would hesitate for
moment. O sophistry of passion! This is what "crystallization" comes to!
But let us reflect a moment. Do we not all go through the same process of reasoning-or rather of unreasoningwith regard to something? Do we not all, by the terrible help of the imagination, pass from admiration to passion, from passion to an ungovernable desire of possession, and from that desire to a deep conviction that we alone are the true and lawful owners of what we covet? The history of the young pickpocket is the history of mankind.
Mutato nomine de te
Fabula narratur. Each one of us has always by him his little three-cornered hat. There are degrees, of course, and we do not all go so far as to appropriate it. There are many chapters in the hat-story, and they are not all tragic. But every
who lives has thing in common with our culpable young hero.
Herein are to be found many and grave reasons for not being too hard upon one poor earth-worm gone mad about a star. Why should not a head be turned by a hat? It seems peculiarly fitting in a case like this, where the
hat is strong and the head weak! The two may not have been made for one another, but the ascendancy of the one over the other is easily understood. Never before, it may be, was a head so completely taken captive by a hat. Let
us freely forgive the head thus dominated. All about us, in obedience to perpetual cervical flexions, heads are turning hats, for bows or smiles. It must inevitably happen now and again that a hat turns a head.
THE AVERAGE MAN.*
What has the Master of Balliol to do with the average man? The master of Balliol had very little to do with him. And Dr. Caird, though standing sponsor for him, recommends "The Average Man" precisely because its author was not an average man, but something, as these sermons themselves sufficiently show, very far above him. The preacher in this case was evidently a man of large heart and fine sympathies, which, joined to high intellectual powers, removed him so far from the average man that he simply did not know him, and so was brought by the breadth of his charity to describe him in favorable terms. As is often the case, the greater and therefore the simpler man took the inferior at his own estimate and, doing out of generosity what other writers and talkers do out of self-recommendation, described the average man as the prime mover of everything that happens, the winner of every battle, the pillar of every State, the backbone of every Church, the peculiar object of God's favor. Cæsar is not in the running with him; S. Augustine is of no account beside him. Great men in fact are a trifle; the real thing in the whole world is just the average man. Were it not that the finer souls disdain sarcasm in the pulpit, while
the ordinary souls are unequal to it, we should unhesitatingly put down all such sermons as these to irony. As such it would be very effective rhetoric, though lost on all but those for whom it was not intended; for every quite ordinary man present would take it as obviously true, and go away from church soothed and comfortable at hearing what fine fellow he
The pecular insidiousness of this very favorite sermon (popular alike with congregation and preacher) is that it is truth with a twist. That the average man is the most conspicuous figure of the world in these democratic days is abundantly true, but the preacher's way of stating it suggests that he is so because he deserves to be; and that it is his abiding misfortune that his importance is not recognized. Fancy a spiritual teacher imagining that it is good for a man's soul to be told that he is the special object of Heaven's solicitude, and that the world neglects him only because it has not the Divine intuition to perceive his worth. And yet that is exactly what the "we cannot all be great" sermon amounts to. Its ethics are appalling; its ignorance of human nature astounding. The average
man neglected! The average man unhappy at his lot! Why, in the very nature of things he stands to be of all men the most pleased with himself. Not high enough to "look down upon the hate of those below," no
* The Average Man: and other Sermons. By the late Rev. William Granger. With a preface by the Master of Balliol. Paisley and London: Alexander Gardner. 1899.
contending tempests blowing round his head, he is yet at a comfortable altitude which enables him pleasantly to realize that there are others less fortunate than he. He is not lonely, for the great majority are like himself. His one real trouble is that there are his betters; to their existence he is not quite stupid enough to be blind. It is the one thing which mars his equanimity, for it compels him to have an idea, the idea of reducing these superior beings to his own level. That becomes the average man's life work from age to age, and slowly he succeeds. Not be. cause of his own ability; but from time to time, amongst the more than average men, one arises base enough to buy the commonplace man's support by assisting him with his superior ability to pull down the nobler sort to the average level. Such traitors abound in this day.
But apart from that perennial disturbance, the average man is a slow animal; he can comprehend nothing but himself and wants only to meet himself. His particular aversion is the clever man. In the first place it is an insult that there should be any one so unlike himself; in the second place the clever man troubles him by the suggestion, not successfully stifled, that his fixed persuasion that the clever man is of no account compared with the average man may not be quite sound. Similarly, a book or a journal which requires thought to be understood is an offence to him. Of course if he cannot understand it, it is a worthless book, but still there it is, there is something he can't understand. It has ruffled the stagnant waters of his mind; his brain has almost been put in motion, and he is annoyed. What he likes is his halfpenny daily and his weekly Moralizer. This is the average man's rule of life. Eat well, drink well, sleep well; don't work if you can help it, but if you must, do it regularly and make it
square with your habits. Outside your daily work never do anything but amuse yourself, and never let amusement have any connection with mind. Perhaps the supreme moment of satisfaction to the average man of the settled time of life comes about three o'clock on Saturday afternoons. Having lunched solidly, with the prospect of thirty-six hours' inaction before him, he takes up The Moralizer. There he finds himself faithfully reflected week by week; he can read and understand without even an attempt at thought. There he finds every one of his worldly ambitions recommended on the most moral grounds, so that his conscience is soothed and yet not a desire forbidden. He reads: "Let it be remembered that if the world were flat it would not be round." He pauses for a moment to ponder the striking generalization. “Yes,” he says, “it is true, if the world were flat, it would not be round. What a wonderful paper the Moralizer is!" He reads on: “Depend upon it, if the world were made flat to morrow, extraordinary things would happen." Then follows bold speculation and description exactly suited to
the average man's capacity, being in its improbable and absolutely irresponsible adventure just broad farce told in solemn language, suggestive of much wisdom. Finally, the reader sinks to sleep a happy and wholly self-satisfied man.
So far from the average man being neglected or made little of, it is just he who calls the tune to which the world hastens to dance. It is the average man who makes good drama well nigh impossible on the stage; who makes the path of a Marie Corelli broad and easy, of a George Meredith steep and narrow; who
makes “Answers" and "Comic Cuts," "Tit-Bits” and “Snapshots" the royal road to fortune; who crowds the Academy and thinks Sir William Richmond has improved S. Paul's; who rejoices when a prima
And here's her answer back to me;
My heart, my heart keep steady!
I'm King, I'm King already.
Alfred Perceval Graves.
THE LIVING AGE:
2 Weekly Magazine of Contemporary Literature and Thought.
(FOUNDED BY E. LITTELL IN 1844.)
NO. 2933. SEPT. 22, 1900.
SOME RECENT NOVELS OF MANNERS.
There is nothing more vexing and misleading than an arbitrary classification; but, after all, names are a necessity, and it is impossible to talk about the modern novel with any chance of distinctness unless one specifies the class of novel that is referred to. And, since prose fiction began to stand alone as a separate art, there have always been two main types of story-the novel of incident and the novel of observation. Naturally the types have overlapped; human intelligence more than anything else in the world refuses to be shut into watertight compartments; but still there exists a broad distinction between the story told as a traveller may tell his adventures in Abyssinia or Peru, and the story concerned from start to finish with circumstances familiar to the audience in their own daily life. And-broadly speaking again,the novel of incident commends itself to men, the novel of observation to women. Our curiosity is limited by our imagination, and the bulk of us care most for the recital of such actions as we can see ourselves
take part in. In the secret chambers of our mind we still play, as we played when we were children, at being heroes and heroines, though we select the precise type of heroism (or villany) with a little more discrimination. We do hot aspire after the entirely incongruous; if our flesh has succumbed under the ordeal of a Channel crossing, we avoid the identification of ourselves with the young rescuer of the shipwrecked. But still, there is scarcely a man so tied by custom in soul as well as body to his office-stool that he does not conceive it possible, and even desirable, that he too might take a hand in bloodshed and feel the lust of combat rise in bis veins. The battle instinct survives in the sex that did the fighting long after there had ceased to be any fighting for it to do. But woman, who in the old times readily identified her emotions with those of the valiant knight, and who listened- or so one may suppose from the old forms of literature with more interest to the recital of innumerable tourneyings than to any love song
• 1. The Danvers Jewels. By Mary Cholmondeley. London: Bentley, 1887.
2. Sir Charles Danvers. By Mary Cholmondeley. London: Bentley, 1889.
3. Diana Tempest. By Mary Cholmondeley. London: Bentley, 1893.
4. Red Pottage, By Mary Cholmondeley. London: Arnold, 1899.
5. Concerning Isabel Carnaby. By Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. London; Hodder & Stoughton, 1898.
6. The Double Thread. By Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. London: Hutchinson, 1899.
7. The Farringdong. By Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler. London: Hutchinson, 1900.