of a Homo Unius Libri 163
private ownershipsóbarring, of course, highways and com-
mons. So the universe, which looks so big, may be supposed
as really all parcelled out among the stars that stud it.
Or the public ear is like a common ; there is not much to
be got off it, but that little is for the most part grazed down
by geese and donkeys.
Those who wish to gain the public ear should bear in mind
that people do not generally want to be made less foolish or
less wicked. What they want is to be told that they are not
foolish and not wicked. Now it is only a fool or a liar or
both who can tell them this ; the masses therefore cannot be
expected to like any but fools or liars or both. So when a
lady gets photographed, what she wants is not to be made
beautiful but to be told that she is beautiful.
The ages do their thinking much as the individual does.
When considering a difficult question, we think alternately
for several seconds together of- details, even the minutest
seeming important, and then of broad general principles,
whereupon even large details become unimportant; again we
have bouts during which rules, logic and technicalities en-
gross us, followed by others in which the unwritten and un-
writable common sense of grace defies and over-rides the law..
That is to say, we have our inductive fits and our deductive
fits, our arrangements according to the letter and according
to the spirit, our conclusions drawn from logic secundum
artem and from absurdity and the character of the arguer.
This heterogeneous mass of considerations forms the mental
pabulum with which we feed our minds. How that pabulum
becomes amalgamated, reduced to uniformity and turned into
the growth of complete opinion we can no more tell than we
can say when, how and where food becomes flesh and blood.
All we can say is that the miracle, stupendous as it is and -
involving the stultification of every intelligible principle on
which thought and action are based, is nevertheless worked a
thousand times an hour by every one of us.
The formation of public opinion is as mysterious as that of
individual, but, so far as we can form any opinion about that
which forms our opinions in such large measure, the pro-