The mythic element cannot be eliminated out of history. Men who play leading parts on the world's stage gather about them the admiration of friends and the animosity of disappointed rivals or political enemies. The atmosphere becomes charged with legends of what they have said or done-some inventions, some distortions of facts, but rarely or never accurate. Their outward acts, being public, cannot be absolutely misstated; their motives, being known only to themselves, are an open field for imagination; and as the disposition is to believe evil rather than good, the portraits drawn may vary indefinitely, according to the sympathies of the describer, but are seldom too favourable. The more distinguished a man is the more he is talked about. Stories are current about him in his own lifetime, guaranteed apparently by the highest authorities; related, insisted upon; time, place, and circumstance accurately given-most of them mere malicious lies; yet, if written down, to reappear in memoirs a hundred years hence, they are likely to pass for authentic, or at least probable. Even where there is no malice, imagination will still be active. People believe or disbelieve, repeat or suppress, according to their own inclinations; and death, which ends the feuds of unimportant persons, lets loose the tongues over the characters of the great. Kings are especially sufferers; when alive they hear only flattery; when they are gone men revenge themselves by drawing hideous portraits of them, and the more distinguished they may have been the more minutely their weaknesses are dwelt upon. "C'est un plaisir indicible," says Voltaire, "de donner des décrets contre des souverains morts quand on ne peut en lancer contre eux de leur vivant de peur de perdre ses oreilles."
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)|