Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/252

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gust. For all violent pleasures, as Shakespeare says, are cruel and not to be trusted.

A bliss in proof and, proved, a very woe:
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream . . .
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted and, no sooner had,
Past reason hated.

Past reason, indeed. For although an impulsive injustice is inherent in the very nature of representation and cannot be overcome altogether, yet reason, by attending to all the evidences that can be gathered and by confronting the first pronouncement by others fetched from every quarter of experience, has power to minimise the error and reach a practically just estimate of absent values. This achieved rightness can be tested by comparing two experiences, each when it is present, with the same conventional permanent object chosen to be their expression. A love-song, for instance, can be pronounced adequate or false by various lovers; and it can thus remain a sort of index to the fleeting sentiments once confronted with it. Reason has, to be sure, no independent method of discovering values. They must be rated as the sensitive balance of present inclination, when completely laden, shows them to stand. In estimating values reason is reduced to data furnished by the mechanical processes of ideation and instinct, as in framing all knowledge; an absent joy can only be represented by a tinge of emotion dyeing an image that pictures