Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/176

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164
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

baseball in America. What interests us in the sport is the display of strength and activity: which may be shown in one game as well as another. The great writer is great because he displays a powerful intellect or a vivid imagination, and does not cease to be great because he applies his reasoning to particular questions or casts his imagery into the artistic mould of the day. There are obvious dangers in 'provincialism.' A man shut up in a village may be ignorant of the thoughts that are stirring outside; he may express himself in a dialect unintelligible to the larger world, or his mind may be atrophied for want of collision and excitement, and he may therefore limit himself to trifles interesting to a petty circle alone. But every man has got to be incarnate at a particular time and place, and to apply his mind to the questions which are stirring in them. Holmes was not the less a New Englander because he was also an individual; nor the less a citizen of the great world because he belonged to this particular province. The New England of his day, whatever its limitations, was seething with important movements as interesting, in slightly different applications, on this side of the Atlantic as well as on the other; and the fact