Page:Path of Vision; pocket essays of East and West.djvu/48

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distant or too near. They were at home in the universe. Theirs was indeed a circumambient intellect. But this quality of the mind, in its colossal form, is a phenomenon in modern history. It appeared in England in the sixteenth century and on the continent in the seventeenth and eighteenth. It found its greatest exponents in Shakespeare, in Carlyle, in Voltaire and Goethe, in Hugo and Balzac.

With the average man of talent, however, a circumambient intellect too soon evaporates or crystallizes, resolving itself into its initial form, or its actual size,—thinning, in other words, into nothing, or settling down to a point. I have mentiond the exceptions. But even in Voltaire and Goethe, how many breaks and how many rusty links do we find in the golden circle of each. And how often, when they can not run or walk erect, do they seem to us as shuffling, limping, chicaning levites in their eagerness to maintain their reputation as the master builders of the Circumambient System of human knowledge? The buckramed man-