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without need of a chorus. What is one man's vertebræ out of kilter, among so many, anyway? There are just as many hansoms in Fifth Avenue are there not? Even though your own clock runs down, time is measured by other people as calmly as though the most important tick, tick, tick, of all were still heard. You had your fling about loneliness in your letter. How strange it is as one gets older that loneliness which seemed in youth the one impossible malady, should become as natural as wrinkles or gray hair, and be it said, no more painful than these. The Roman's “When I am alone then am I least alone," seemed such insufferable priggishness at twenty, but later, one wonders how any sensible man can think or feel otherwise. The very fact of the development of individuality sets a man apart from others. It is this early development of individuality that made Keats, and Shelley, and Byron, and Goethe seem so uppish and offish, and affish (this is a new word from the German Affe) in their youth. I suppose most men of real ability are lonesome, though some of them conceal it better than others.
I must stop. The back is aching a bit, and I have written you a long rambling screed. Do you remember the delightful mot of the younger Pliny, who wrote to a certain correspondent: “I must e'en write you a long letter since I have no time to write a short one?” How true it is that
it takes time to condense.
Write me soon again. Tell me where you are, and what you are doing, and what other people without lame backs are doing. There must be a lot of life left yet to the wheel-chair-less half of the world.
MY DEAR PERCY:
I did not speak of your accident because I imagined the subject had been exhausted by your friends in letters as well as words. The real value of spoken sympathy is problematical. It is one of the lies we train ourselves to believe in, but “ I'm so sorry seems to me as empty a phrase as “I forgive.” The sympathy that takes an active form, you may judge me by later. It is impossible for me to talk religion with you, for I am one of those originals who will not talk about things of which they know nothing. However, I will tell you that I met at luncheon the other day a Jesuit priest. Whether he was a “lay” or otherwise, I do not know, but he struck me as being a brilliant corporation lawyer. What he said to me over several small brandies, and what I said to him, belongs to a class of professional secrets, but I do say again, he was, while speaking of his Church and its advantages, as well as in its defence, a brilliant corporation lawyer; most of those Jesuits are. You, of course, have nothing of the priest about you, or you could not be my dear old Pal. You are simply a man with a white soul and inclusive brain, trying to turn black souls into a dull gray. Oh, what a waste of time is there, my countrymen! Golden days set in a leaden life - I prefer to string mine on a band of red velvet, something with warmth, colour, and softness.