Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/211
OPEN SECRET SOCIETIES
most dazzling lightning of ecstasy leaps from the blackest storm of danger. But neither he who writes nor he who reads is any nearer to the heart of the mystery through this interpretation: if he is of the brotherhood his pulse beat in unison with the throbs of this heart before; if he is not of the brotherhood his pulse will never beat in unison with these throbs, save at intervals and for moments similar to those in which the hands of a clock that does not go accurately may agree with the hands of another which is keeping true time.
The ingenious parodies of this natural Society of the Heroes are the armies of the nations, those elaborate artificial organisations or aggregations whose spirit and tradition are popularly supposed to be heroism. Yet any one who is acquainted with an army or with portions of an army has learned that genuine heroes are nearly as rare in the military as in any other trade. The battle blood-drunkenness and Schwärmerei of congregated thousands by no means imply true heroism. I have known pretty well some of the men who rode and rode well in the Balaclava Light Cavalry Charge; some brave fellows, and some good fellows not specially brave; but I do not remember a hero amongst them. How many soldiers cringe to their officers, how