Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/228

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And he answered: If not, the refraining would be through lack of nerve or courage, never through any thought that my life was more valuable than his. My life could be by no means valuable if it would not attempt this very thing, if it had not the courage to risk itself whenever destiny offered a fair stake against it. The issues of all action are quite beyond human calculation; the instincts prompting to action each one can judge for himself. The doctor who has prolonged the lives of many patients would be very hard bestead to prove that it would not have been quite as well, or even better, for the world in general and the patients themselves had their lives not been prolonged. No worker of what are called good works can be sure that in the long run he does more good than harm. He fulfils his own nature, as it is right for him he should.

He also said: The sage hath it somewhat thus, "The people are many millions, and the most of them are fools." But were the most foolish as wise as the most wise are now, and were the wisest proportionately wiser, the saying would be none the less stinging. Some men stand but five feet, others stand six and even seven feet, and the difference is large in ratio to the average height of the race: but what is the height of seven feet to the diameter of the earth, to the distance of the moon, of the sun, of the nearest star? Supposing we stood from fifty to seventy feet, would any of us be absolutely great? Therefore, he added, let my son be a commonplace wight, and not a genius or a sage; for the little wisdom he will thus have less is so incalculably small in comparison with any really great standard, that the lack thereof will be compensated a thousandfold by the social comfort of always living among creatures whose thoughts and feelings are very similar to his own.

He once remarked: Certain so-called Spiritualists and Materialists, usually accounted most opposite in their