Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/229

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217
SAYINGS OF SIGVAT.

opinions, appear to me like persons working out the same algebraic puzzle in the same manner, but using different symbols for the unknown quantity. The process of the one bristles with X's (say spirit), that of the other bristles with Y's (say matter); yet their solutions in the end are identical. It was a saying of his: Absolute life is indefinitely superior to the highest art; yet life as we see it in the men living actively around us is so poor and mean, that he who takes refuge in art must be impuissant indeed if he cannot amply vindicate his choice.

Once when it was told him that a certain sage had written to the effect that "perchance man, when he hath tamed all the other inferior animals, may begin to tame and civilise woman," Sigvat said: This I am happy to believe quite impossible. Women are tamest where the men are most savage, and show wilder and wilder as the men grow less rude: the squaw is the slave of Indian and Kaffir; John Bull, rich, respectable and educated, is the very humble and obedient servant of his wife. As for the civilisation of women, I ardently love and admire the sex, but I am bound to say that I never yet knew a woman with even the most elementary idea of truth and justice. They are all born deceivers; the only difference being that the good ones are always deceiving us for what they think our good, while the bad ones are always deceiving us for what they think their own good. The best woman would overthrow the equilibrium of the universe for the sake of her lover, her child, or her husband. And as for the taming of civilisation in general, I want to know how long we could exist on the earth were we all thoroughly tame and good. Very well-meaning and stupid people nowo'days are doing their best (a poor little ludicrous best it is) to get us civilised off the face of the earth; they don't see that we need some very tough and rough savagery to keep a firm hold