Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/199

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BALFOUR

Revolution depends upon our minute knowledge of each passing incident, how much more nec- essary is such knowledge when we are dealing with the quiet nooks and corners of history — when we are seeking an introduction, let us say, into the literary society of Johnson or the fash- ionable society of Walpole! Society, dead or alive, can have no charm without intimacy, and no intimacy without interest in trifles which I fear Mr. Harrison 1 would describe as "merely curious. ' '

If we would feel at our ease in any company, if we wish to find humor in its jokes and point in its repartees, we must know something of the beliefs and the prejudices of its various members — their loves and their hates, their hopes and their fears, their maladies, their marriages, and their flirtations. If these things are be- neath our notice, we shall not be the less quali- fied to serve our queen and country, but need make no attempt to extract pleasure out of one of the most delightful departments of literature.

That there is such a thing as trifling informa- tion, I do not of course question ; but the frame of mind in which the reader is constantly weigh- ing the exact importance to the universe at large of each circumstance which the author presents to his notice, is not one conducive to the true enjoyment of a picture whose effect depends upon a multitude of slight and seemingly in-

1 Frederic Harrison, the essayist and philosophical writer, a follower of Comte.

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