look upon his heroic or occasional phases, but will seek him in his habitual moods of vacancy and tiresomeness.”
Tis simply illustrates Coleridge
's remark that we may safely take every man's opinion of the value of that which he knows, but should distrust his opinion as to the worthlessness of that which he does not know.
The point asserted is valuable; the point denied implies narrowness in the denier.
that the sincere observer of man will seek him in his tamest moods; why should sincere observation not follow him also into his heroic or occasional phases?
Admit that a young man of twenty-one is worth painting as he lies in a hammock and smokes a cigarette; that is not the question.
The question is whether he is utterly worthless as an object of art when he rides to certain death in a cavalry charge.
Is he not then also “real?”
This is the whole point at issue between Mr. Howells
and what he calls “the childish demands” of his contemporary critics.
If it be said that it is because the uncommonplace demands too much skill that authors avoid it, that is a legitimate excuse.
Only let this be called, as it is, a confession of weakness, not a claim of strength.
The trouble is that by yielding to this weakness we confirm it, so that there comes to be a distrust of everything which does not lie close on every side of us. When Mr. Pickwick
explains to Mr. Peter Magnus