292 Material for Erewkon Revisited
cautioning the readers against believing the criticisms they
see, inasmuch as .personal motives will underlie the greater
They defend the universities and academic bodies on the
ground that, but for them, good work would be so universal
that the world would become clogged with masterpieces to an
extent that would reduce it to an absurdity. Good sense
would rule over all, and merely smart or clever people would
be unable to earn a living.
They assume that truth is best got at by the falling out of
thieves. " Well then, there must be thieves, or how can they
fall out ? Our business is to produce the raw material from
which truth may be elicited."
" And you succeed, sir," I replied, " in a way that is beyond
all praise, and it seems as though there would be no limit to
the supply of truth that ought to be available. But, consider-
ing the number of your thieves, they show less alacrity in
flying at each other's throats than might have been expected."
They live their lives backwards, beginning, as old men and
women, with little more knowledge of the past than we have
of the future, and foreseeing the future about as clearly as we
see the past, winding up by entering into the womb as though
being buried. But delicacy forbids me to pursue this subject
further : the upshot is that it comes to much the same thing,
provided one is used to it.
Paying debts is a luxury which we cannot all of us afford.
" It is not every one, my dear, who can reach such a counsel
of perfection as murder."
There was no more space for the chronicles and, what was
worse, there was no more space in which anything could hap-
pen at all, the whole land had become one vast cancerous
growth of chronicles, chronicles, chronicles, nothing but
The catalogue of the Browne medals alone will in time come
to occupy several hundreds of pages in the University Calendar.
There was a professor who was looked upon as such a
valuable man because he had done more than any other
living person to suppress any kind of originality.