727: And Not England Alone.

“Bourgeoisie,” says Hertzen, “is no other than the sovereign mob of John Stuart Mill’s ‘conglomerated mediocrity,’ which reigns over all things, — the mob without ignorance, but without education as well… Mill beholds everything around him becoming vulgar, small; he looks with despair upon these crushing masses of some prolific spawn, compressed out of the myriads of bourgeois shallowness… He does not at all exaggerate when he speaks of the contraction of intellect and energy; of the obliteration of personalities; of the constant degeneration of life; of the constant exclusion from it of all universally human interests; of its resolving itself into the interests of the counting room and the well-being of the bourgeoisie. Mill proclaims plainly that by following this course England will become China — we will add: and not England alone.”

(Dmitry Merezhkovsky, The Menace of the Mob. New York: Nicholas L. Brown, 1921, pp. 22–23).

727: And Not England Alone.

726: Imaginary Game.

“Imagination is but a name for the free play of thought, one of the most important features of which, but still only one, is its attachment and sensibility to the memories of sight.” There is the whole root of the matter. Imagination is not a thing by itself, but a mental quality akin to physical agility, enabling the reason to act with greater velocity and certainty, intensifying faith, quickening conscience, rendering memory more vivid, sympathy more sure, judgment more certain. Every intellectual quality is intensified for good or for evil by imagination.

“There is nothing,” writes George Eliot, “more widely misleading than sagacity if it happens to get on the wrong scent; and sagacity, persuaded that men usually act and speak from distinct motives, with a consciously proposed end in view, is certain to waste its energies on imaginary game.”

Imagination, on the homœopathic principle, is the surest influence to preserve sagacity from following the scent of “imaginary game”; but it is a formidable power, imposing great risks, as well as high privilege, on its possessor. Of the former, an anecdote which occurs somewhere in Sir Walter Scott’s writings is a good illustration : —

“An Italian nobleman, suffering from ague, was inveigled by his valet into such a situation as involved a ducking and a severe fright. The valet’s intention was good — namely, to cure his master’s disease; and the cure was effectual. But his master, determined to punish him appropriately for the trick, had him tried for his life and sentenced to decapitation. He was led to the scaffold blindfolded, and laid his head on the block, when the executioner, acting on his instructions, dashed a jugful of cold water on his neck. The joke was then complete; but poor Gonella did not see it, for it was found that he had died from the shock to his nerves.”

In other words, his imagination had killed him.

(Sir Herbert Maxwell, “Imagination.” In: Meridiana: Noontide Essays. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1892, pp. 205–206).

726: Imaginary Game.

725: Centres of Associations.

In its happiest efforts, translation is but approximation; and its efforts are not often happy. A translation may be good as translation, but it cannot be an adequate reproduction of the original. It may be a good poem; it may be a good imitation of another poem; it may be better than the original; but it cannot be an adequate reproduction; it cannot be the same thing in another language, producing the same effect on the mind. And the cause lies deep in the nature of poetry. “Melody,” as Beethoven said to Bettina, “gives a sensuous existence to poetry; for does not the meaning of a poem become embodied in melody?” The meanings of a poem and the meanings of the individual words may be produced; but in a poem meaning and form are as indissoluble as soul and body; and the form cannot be reproduced. The effect of poetry is a compound of music and suggestion; this music and this suggestion are intermingled in words, to alter which is to alter the effect. For words in poetry are not, as in prose, simple representatives of objects and ideas: they are parts of an organic whole — they are tones in the harmony; substitute other parts, and the result is a monstrosity, as if an arm were substituted for a wing; substitute other tones or semitones, and you produce a discord. Words have their music and their shades of meaning too delicate for accurate reproduction in any other form; the suggestiveness of one word cannot be conveyed by another. Now all translation is of necessity a substitution of one word for another: the substitute may express the meaning, but it cannot accurately reproduce the music, nor those precise shades of suggestiveness on which the delicacy and beauty of the original depend. Words are not only symbols of objects, but centres of associations; and their suggestiveness depends partly on their sound.

(George Henry Lewes, The Life and Works of Goethe. London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1908, p. 483).

725: Centres of Associations.

722: Only Manured.

The essence of reading is sincerity. Each man must discover for himself what it is necessary that he should read, since he who turns over another’s best hundred books loses at once his time and his honesty. After all, nothing belongs to you that does not correspond to your temperament; and the scholar who surrounds himself with books which he can never make his own, incurs the reproach that he is “not cultivated but only manured.” […]

The truth is, that reading is a rare and delicate art. “Some books,” said Bacon, “are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

(Charles Whibley, “Musings Without Method,” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. CLXXV, 1904, pp. 581–582).

722: Only Manured.

721: Civilization.

To civilize meant at one time to wean a savage people from their rudeness. Dr. Johnson would not admit the word “civilization” into his dictionary, though Boswell “with great deference” thought it “better in the sense opposed to ‘barbarity’ than ‘civility.'” Two days earlier, after a discussion on Lord Monboddo’s opinions on the superiority of the savage life, the word “civilities” is used repeatedly by Boswell in the sense of “courtesies.” lf civility were indeed all, there has been but little civilizing among us since Johnson’s time. At one end of the social scale, the respectful salute of the laboring peasant is the exception and not the rule, probably for the logical reason that his respect for “the quality” has diminished. At the other end, what civilities have not vanished? Deportment as a fine art dropped out with the use of the snuff-box and of the subjunctive mood. But the word “civility” was defined by Johnson as freedom from barbarity; and he was justified in refusing “civilization” because it is not to be found in the works which he cited. Johnson’s conservatism and Boswell’s liberalism justified each in his own opinion. The need for the expression “civilization” was in the balance on March 23, 1772. and Boswell was probably right in judging that the time had come for adopting it. Differentiation between civility and civilization was needed when people realized that they could have material progress without an associated intellectual advance; something accomplished, something done, without any corresponding development of mind, morals or manners. The battue, the rubber-cored golf-ball, the halfpenny newspaper and a University degree in Engineering serve as samples of civilization in this sense.

(Alexander Pelham Trotter, “The Tide of Civilization,” The Living Age, Vol. CCXXXVIII, 1903, pp. 379–380).

721: Civilization.