“The stalwart ignorance of it! Little Latin and less Greek even Ben Jonson allowed our William, and manifestly he was fed on Tudor translations. And the illiteracy of Michael Angelo is just an inspiration of Chamberlain’s. He knows his readers. Now, in itself there is no marvel in this assertive, prejudiced, garrulous ignorance; it is semi-sober Bierhalle chatter, written down; and, God forgive us! most of us have talked in this way at one time or another; the sign and the wonder for you, Boon, is that this stuff has been taken quite seriously by all Germany and England and America, that it is accepted as first-rank stuff, that it has never been challenged, cut up, and sent to the butterman. It is Modern Thought. It is my second sample of the contemporary Mind of the Race. And now, gentlemen, we come to the third great intellectual high-kicker, Nietzsche. Nietzsche, I admit, had once a real and valid idea, and his work is built upon that real and valid idea; it is an idea that comes into the head of every intelligent person who grasps the idea of the secular change of species, the idea of Darwinism, in the course of five or six minutes after the effective grasping. This is the idea that man is not final. But Nietzsche was so constituted that to get an idea was to receive a revelation; this step, that every bright mind does under certain circumstances take, seemed a gigantic stride to him, a stride only possible to him, and for the rest of his lucid existence he resounded variations, he wrote epigrammatic cracker-mottoes and sham Indian apophthegms, round and about his amazing discovery. And the whole thing is summed up in the title of Dr. Alexander Tille’s ‘Von Darwin bis Nietzsche,’ in which this miracle of the obvious, this necessary corollary, is treated as a huge advance of the mind of mankind. No one slays this kind of thing nowadays. It goes on and goes on, a perpetually reinforced torrent of unreason washing through the brain of the race. There was a time when the general intelligence would have resisted and rejected Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Chamberlain, Shaw; now it resists such invasions less and less. That, Boon, is my case.”

Wilkins, with his little pile of books for reference, his sombre manner, and his persistence, was indeed curiously suggestive of an advocate opening a trial. The Mind of the Race was far less of a continuity than it was when a generally recognized and understood orthodox Christianity held it together, as a backbone holds together the ribs and limbs and head of a body. That manifestly was what he was driving at, as Dodd presently complained. In those stabler days every one with ideas, willingly or unwillingly, had to refer to that doctrinal core, had to link up to it even if the connection was used only as a point of departure. Now more and more, as in these three examples, people began irresponsibly in the air, with rash assertions about life and race and the tendency of things. And the louder they shouted, the more fantastic and remarkable they were, the more likely they were to gather a following and establish a fresh vortex in the deliquescent confusion.

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