experience, i can say "probatum est."
'god knows the original qualities of things; man can only hope to attain to probability.' we speak in almost the same words of human intelligence, but not in the same manner of the uncertainty of our knowledge of nature. the reason is that the latter is assured to us by experiment, and is not contrasted with the certainty of ideal or mathematical knowledge. but the ancient philosopher never experimented: in the timaeus plato seems to have thought that there would be impiety in making the attempt; he, for example, who tried experiments in colours would 'forget the difference of the human and divine natures.' their indefiniteness is probably the reason why he singles them out, as especially incapable of being tested by experiment.
"odd formations on slopes of highest mountains. great low square blocks with exactly vertical sides, and rectangular lines of low, vertical ramparts, like the old asian castles clinging to steep mountains in roerich’s paintings. impressive from distance. flew close to some, and carroll thought they were formed of smaller separate pieces, but that is probably weathering. most edges crumbled and rounded off as if exposed to storms and climate changes for millions of years."
they had already ransacked the city for chinese toys. they had gone to every fair, visited every toy-shop, called upon every private dealer, and paid high prices for samples of their best work made especially for the royal child. there were crowing cocks and cackling hens; barking dogs and crying infants; music balls and music carts; horns, drums, diabolos and tops; there were gingham dogs and calico cats; camels, elephants and fierce tigers; and a thousand other toys, if only he had had other children to share them with him. but none of them pleased him. they lacked that subtile something which was necessary to minister to the peculiar genius of the child.
among the foreign toys there were some in which there was concealed a secret spring which seemed to impart life to the otherwise dead plaything. wind them up and they would move of their own energy. this was what the boy needed,--something to appeal to that machine-loving disposition which nature had given him, and budge and toddy were never more curious to know "what made the wheels go round" than was little tsai tien. he played with them as toys until overcome by curiosity, when, like many another child, he tore them apart and discovered the secret spring. this was as much of a revelation to the eunuchs as to the child, and they went and bought other toys of a more curious pattern, and a more intricate design, and it was not long until, at the instigation of the enterprising dane, the toy-shops of europe were manufacturing playthings specially designed to please the almond-eyed baby emperor in the yellow-tiled palace in peking.
in this place also i had my grapes growing, which i principally depended on for my winter store of raisins, and which i never failed to preserve very carefully, as the best and most agreeable dainty of my whole diet; and indeed they were not only agreeable, but medicinal, wholesome, nourishing, and refreshing to the last degree.
`all the duties of a man and a citizen derive from these two principles engraved on all hearts by nature: do not do unto others that which you would not they should do unto you; do constantly unto others the good you would wish to receive from them.''
and these rare qualifications would count for nothing if this creature of fancy had not the most amiable temper, a fine figure, intelligence, and, above all, if he were not slender. to be lean, a personal grace which is but fugitive, especially under a representative government, was an indispensable condition. mademoiselle de fontaine had an ideal standard which was to be the model. a young man who at the first glance did not fulfil the requisite conditions did not even get a second look.
you may think that i am subtilizing my impressions on purpose, but you may take it from a man who has lived a rough, a very rough life, that it is the subtleties of personalities, and contacts, and events, that count for interest and memory--and pretty well nothing else. this--you see--is the last evening of that part of my life in which i did not know that woman. these are like the last hours of a previous existence. it isn't my fault that they are associated with nothing better at the decisive moment than the banal splendours of a gilded cafe and the bedlamite yells of carnival in the street.
we three, however (almost complete strangers to each other), had assumed attitudes of serious amiability round our table. a waiter approached for orders and it was then, in relation to my order for coffee, that the absolutely first thing i learned of captain blunt was the fact that he was a sufferer from insomnia. in his immovable way mills began charging his pipe. i felt extremely embarrassed all at once, but became positively annoyed when i saw our prax enter the cafe in a sort of mediaeval costume very much like what faust wears in the third act. i have no doubt it was meant for a purely operatic faust. a light mantle floated from his shoulders. he strode theatrically up to our table and addressing me as "young ulysses" proposed i should go outside on the fields of asphalt and help him gather a few marguerites to decorate a truly infernal supper which was being organized across the road at the maison doree--upstairs. with expostulatory shakes of the head and indignant glances i called his attention to the fact that i was not alone. he stepped back a pace as if astonished by the discovery, took off his plumed velvet toque with a low obeisance so that the feathers swept the floor, and swaggered off the stage with his left hand resting on the hilt of the property dagger at his belt.
meantime the well-connected but rustic mills had been busy lighting his briar and the distinguished captain sat smiling to himself. i was horribly vexed and apologized for that intrusion, saying that the fellow was a future great sculptor and perfectly harmless; but he had been swallowing lots of night air which had got into his head apparently.
mills peered at me with his friendly but awfully searching blue eyes through the cloud of smoke he had wreathed about his big head. the slim, dark captain's smile took on an amiable expression. might he know why i was addressed as "young ulysses" by my friend? and immediately he added the remark with urbane playfulness that ulysses was an astute person. mills did not give me time for a reply. he struck in: "that old greek was famed as a wanderer--the first historical seaman." he waved his pipe
vaguely at me.
"ah! vraiment!" the polite captain seemed incredulous and as if weary. "are you a seaman? in what sense, pray?" we were talking french and he used the term homme de mer.
again mills interfered quietly. "in the same sense in which you are a military man." (homme de guerre.)