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Not Gullible, Not He Post by :captkirk Category :Essays Author :Robert Cortes Holliday Date :November 2011 Read :1469

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Not Gullible, Not He

"Sir," said Doctor Johnson, "a fallible being will fail somewhere," So far as penetration, at least, is concerned, this is not true of Dean. He is never caught without his grains of salt.

Dean believes nothing that he reads in newspapers. He is not caught, for one thing, believing anecdotes of celebrated persons. These anecdotes are pretty stories yearned for by a sentimental public. The public is amusing, composed as it is of simple, guileless people who know nothing of the world. Newspapers are concoctions of press agents, for the most part--bait for the gullible. A citizen of the word is Dean, and he has, alas! lost his innocence. This pleases him. You can't impose on Dean's credulity. He hasn't got any credulity. In this respect he has much the same effect upon his company as the Mark Twain dog that didn't have any hind legs had upon the mind of his antagonist. That dog was hardly a pleasure to his opponent. He was baffling.

It is perhaps a man's misfortune that he should be so without delusions. Dean has found out there is no Santa Claus, in a manner of speaking, while the rest of us are yet humbugged. So while we may be pleased with our callings or our hobby-horses, our coins, or our cockle-shells, our drums, our fiddles, our pictures, our talents, our maggots and our butterflies, he can only shrug his shoulders and depreciate them to the best of his ability, saying that they are very poor cockle-shells, to be sure, though no man more than he deplores it that this is so. Though no doubt it must be a melancholy thing to feel so severely the failings of all, Dean's cavilings are cheerfully made always, and they come to us filtered through a humorous nature. And to do him justice, he is whimsically aware of his own idiosyncrasies, and readily acknowledges them as he sees them, which is in a mellow, kindly light. "Now I could never make money," he says humorously, as it were. But that is not the sum of life, he knows perhaps too well.

He sees the vanity of it all, does Dean. He sees the vanity of all useful endeavor. He sees the vanity most of all perhaps, of success. What is this success we see around us, after all? What is the fame of this man, this Mr. So-and-So, but sensationalism? Of what the success of that other, but cheap notoriety, and a rich wife? They are both of them, very probably, at heart as miserable as Dean. Ah me! 'tis a profitless world, and there's no satisfaction in it anywhere. "Though probably you are hardly of an age to see it yet," says Dean, and he smiles at the juvenility of ambition. You will see it, however, when you too have failed.

"In this age when every man you meet is a genius," says Dean--it amuses him that he is not of the many--"I have really seen only one really great man, and I have been compelled to know a good many of the geniuses too." This remarkable, unique gentleman, it appears, was an old sou'easter sawbuck of a codger up in the backwoods of Maine, where he lived hermit-wise in a shanty, being a squatter. When Dean met him there he felt instinctively that here he was before a man. Uncle Eli was old: he was a trifle filthy; he was addicted to drink; and not what you would call much good in any way. He was uncouth; a man with the bark on; one of nature's noblemen. He lacked culture, and education, and intelligence; but he had eye-teeth. Lord! He wasn't polite; he wasn't learned; but when it came to downright bull-headed horse-sense he knocked the socks of all of them. He was a philosopher, this old B'gosh half-idiot wreck. By George, he was, and a great one. He reminded Dean of Lincoln. Some of his philosophical splinters from the old rail, rough they were but ready, rather laid over the wisdom of Hercules himself. "Ef 'n ol' hoss wus a Billygoat mighty few Christians there be 'ud git to Heaven." That hits the nail on the head, Dean reckons.

(The end)
Robert Cortes Holliday's essay: Not Gullible, Not He

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