I believe that many a person has examined man with a microscope in every age of the world; has found that he did not even resemble the creature he pretended to be; has perceived that a civilization not proper matter for derision has always been and must always remain impossible to him -- and has put away his microscope and kept his mouth shut. Perhaps because the microscopist (besides having an influential wife) was built like the rest of the human race -- ninety-nine parts of him being moral cowardice.
I am such a person myself. I used my microscope during fifteen years, and then put the result on paper five years ago. When ever I wish to account for any new outbreak of hypocrisy, stupidity, or crime n the part of the human race, I get out that manuscript and read it, and am consoled, perceiving that the outbreak was in obedience to the laws of man's make, and was not preventable.
My wife does not allow the manuscript to be published, and as ninety-nine parts
of me forbid me to make myself comprehensively and uncompromisingly odious,
it has been difficult to persuade me to restrict the reading of it myself!
- Letter to Carl Thalbitzer, 26 November 1902. Reprinted in Harper's Magazine, December 2009.
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