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ing of the brow, drawing down of the corners of the mouth, and somewhat rasping voce di petto, to Fal staff's nine men in buckram. Everybody looked up I believe the old gentleman opposite was afraid I should seize the carving knife; at any rate, he slid it to one side, as it were carelessly.]
I think, I said, I can make it plain to Benjanin Franklin here, that there are at least six personalities distinctly to be recognized as taking part in tha! dialogue between John and Thomas.
(1. The real John; known only to his Maker.
2. John's ideal John ; never the real one, and often Three Johns.
very unlike him. 3. Thomas's ideal John; never the real John, nor -John's John, but often very unlike either.
1. The real Thomas. Three Thomases. 2. Thomas's ideal Thomas.
3. John's ideal Thomas.
Only one of the three Johns is taxed; only one can be weighed on a platform-balance; but the other two are just as important in the conversation. Let us suppose the real John to be old, dull, and ill-looking. But as the Higher Powers have not conferred on men the gift of seeing themselves in the true light, John very possibly conceives himself to be youthful, witty, and fascinating, and talks from the point of view of this ideal. Thomas, again, believes him to be an artful rogue, we will say; therefore he is, so far as Thomas's attitude in the conversation is concerned, an artful rogue, though reaily simple and stupid. The same conditions apply to the three
It follows, that, until a man found who knows himself as his Maker knows him, or who sees himself as others see him, there must be at least six persons engaged in every dialogue between two. Of these, the least important, philosophically speaking, is the one that we have called the real person. No wonder two disputants often get angry, when there are six of them talking and listening all at the same time.
(A very unphilosophical application of the above remarks was made by a young fellow, answering to the name of John, who sits near me at table. A certain basket of peaches, a rare vegetable, little known to boarding-houses, was on its way to me via this unlettered Johannes. He appropriated the three that remained in the basket, remarking that there was just one apiece for him. I convinced him that his practical inference was hasty and illogical, but in the mean time he had eaten the peaches.]
- The opinions of relatives as to a man's powers are very commonly of little value; not merely because they sometimes overrate their own flesh and blood, as some may suppose; on the contrary, they are quite as likely to underrate those whom they have grown into the habit of considering like themselves. The advent of genius is like what florists style the breaking of a seedling tulip into what we may call high-caste colors,—ten thousand dingy
Aowers, then one with the divine streak; or, if you prefer it, like the crming up in old Jacob's garden of that most gentlemanly little fruit, the seckel pear, which I have sometimes seen in shop-windows. It is a surprise,—there is nothing to account for it. All at once we find that twice two make five. Nature is fond of what are called “gift-enterprises." This little book of life which she has given into the hands of its joint possessors is commonly one of the old story-books bound over again. Only once in a great while there is a stately poem in it, or its leaves are illuminated with the glories of art, or they enfold a draft for untold values signed by the million-fold millionnaire old mother herself. But strangers are commonly the first to find the “gift” that came with the little book.
It may be questioned whether anything can be conscious of its own flavor. Whether the muskdeer, or the civet-cat, or even a still more eloquently silent animal that might be mentioned, is aware of any personal peculiarity, may well be doubted. No man knows his own voice; many men do not know their own profiles. Every one remembers Carlyle's famous “ Characteristics” article; allow for exag. gerations, and there is a great deal in his doctrine of the self-unconsciousness of genius. It comes under the great law just stated. This incapacity of knowing its own traits is often found in the family as well as in the individual. So never mind what you