“Truisms can come true”

It seems nowadays to be counted a prodigy that the truisms can come true. The discovery that a new notion is nonsense is itself treated as a new notion. There is a tradition, let us say, that jumping off a high precipice is prejudicial to the health; and therefore nobody does it. Then appears a progressive prophet and reformer, who points out that we really know nothing about it, because nobody does it. He urges, truly, that you and I have but rarely tested the matter by ourselves falling off high cliffs and carefully noting the results. He insists that there is seldom a long queue, or a continuous procession of persons, filing past Dover up to Shakespeare’s Cliff with this scientific object; and that there is, therefore, no sufficient number of cases of the needs of induction. At last some highly scientific character does jump off Shakespeare’s Cliff, and is found dead on Dover sands. And the other scientists, standing around his corpse in a ring, do not regard it as the remains of a fool or a hero or an example of the ancient human tragedy. They regarded as if it were some entirely new and interesting sea-beast thrown up by the sea. They have made a discovery. They hardly realize that it is merely the discovery that all their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers were right. But they are bound to admit it is the discovery that they themselves were wrong. And that is a very astonishing discovery indeed.

— Illustrated London News, 9 March 1918.

Published in: on February 19, 2020 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment