Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/255

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

insure fame and the genius that wins it probably involve a high degree of vitality and many profound inward satisfactions to the man of genius himself; so that again the abstract love of fame would be reinforced by the independent and more rational desire for a noble and comprehensive experience. On the other hand, the minds of posterity, whose homage is craved by the ambitious man, will probably have very false conceptions of his thoughts and purposes. What they will call by his name will be, in a great measure, a fiction of their own fancy and not his portrait at all. Would Caesar recognise himself in the current notions of him, drawn from some school-history, or perhaps from Shakespeare’s satirical portrait? Would Christ recognise himself upon our altars, or in the romances about him constructed by imaginative critics? And not only is remote experience thus hopelessly lost and misrepresented, but even this nominal memorial ultimately disappears.

The love of fame, if tempered by these and similar considerations, would tend to take a place in man’s ideal such as its roots in human nature and its functions in human progress might seem to justify. It would be rationalised in the only sense in which any primary desire can be rationalised, namely, by being combined with all others in a consistent whole. How much of it would survive a thorough sifting and criticism, may well remain in doubt. The result would naturally differ for different temperaments and in different