Sir Walter Raleigh and His Time, With Other Papers (Classic Reprint)
'Truth is stranger than fiction.' A trite remark. We all say it, again and again: but how few of us believe it 1 How few of us, when we read the history of heroical times and heroical men, take the story simply as it stands. On the contrary, we try to explain it away: to prove it all not to have been so very wonderful: to impute accident, circumstance, mean and commonplace motives: to lower every story down to the level of our own littleness, or what we (unjustly to ourselves, and to the God who is near us all) choose to consider our level: to rationalize away all the wonders, till we make them at last impossible, and give up caring to believe them: and prove to our own melancholy satisfaction that Alexander conquered the world with a pin, in his sleep, by accident.
And yet in this mood, as in most, there is a sort of left-handed truth involved. These heroes are not so far removed from us, after all. They were men of like passions with ourselves, with the same flesh about them, the same spirit within them, the same world outside, the same devil beneath, the same God above. They and their deeds were not so very wonderful. Every child who is born into the world is just as wonderful: and, for aught we know, might, mutatis mutandis, do just as wonderful deeds.
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