Page:In defense of Harriet Shelley, and other essays.djvu/277

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THE GERMAN CHICAGO

rose. Rose and shouted and stamped and clapped, and banged the beer-mugs. Just simply a storm! Then the little man with his long hair and Emer sonian face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand Mommsen ! think of it!

This was one of those immense surprises that can happen only a few times in one s life. I was not dreaming of him, he was to me only a giant myth, a world-shadowing specter, not a reality. The surprise of it all can be only comparable to a man s suddenly coming upon Mont Blanc, with its awful form towering into the sky, when he didn t suspect he was in its neighborhood. I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble or tramp or cost of any kind. Here he was, clothed in a Titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men. Here he was, carry ing the Roman world and all the Caesars in his hos pitable skull, and doing it as easily as that other luminous vault, the skull of the universe, carries the Milky Way and the constellations.

One of the professors said that once upon a time an American young lady was introduced to Momm sen, and found herself badly scared and speechless. She dreaded to see his mouth unclose, for she was expecting him to choose a subject several miles above her comprehension, and didn t suppose he could get down to the world that other people lived in; but when his remark came, her terrors disappeared: 4 Well, how do you do? Have you read Howells s last book? 7 think it s his best,"

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