The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, June 1912
Who was the man, one of the gracious company of idlers, who was wont to write on low-tide sands reviews of life, to which pitiful waters afterwards gave sweet oblivion, restoring the scalloped sand to its own again? All honour to him, for this is page on which I would everyone might be content to write, a page secret from the searing eye of the critic, where all thoughts of all dimensions should find a refuge, where there was no Open Sesame, and where alone the Creators, little and big, knew the number of the combination. Then at the ill-written, there is none to laugh, and as to the well-written, is it not our own, which we may keep at heel without reproof? Yet the peacock side blinds us to its folly, and the Editor gives to one Gold, to another Glory, to each according to his article. So the secrets give place to the truisms, the enchantments of mystery to the misery of disillusion.
It is not this Unsolicited Wisdom that is the want of our civilisation. So much profit from another, so much loss to ourselves. Work out your own salvation. Man rushes us with tumultuous experience, odds of this and ends of that, flung pell-mell over our senses; we swirl apart awhile, and then the sluggish current catches us, and along we straggle after our successors, haphazard as Maoris down a highway. Easily comes the habit : the article is made in Germany, and as we slip down the ages, there comes monopoly and the loss of individualism. The tender fancy, the gay phantasy, the absurdities which are ours (for though Woman is informed that she must not ape man, the Humorist, yet there is little in my sex that I cannot find comic), these may not find expression; but all the merely commonplace, or even the abstruse, if only another created it, is possible to the shunner of ostracism.
Those old hermits, society forsaken, found in solitude alleviations of loneliness other than "cushions plump." Jettisoned were the ceremonial counters with which of a foretime they had to play—with minds unfettered by routine and rigmarole, they in themselves found themselves.page 20
But hermits are not fashionable—to see such a one in speech with himself on his way down Willis Street (for your modern hermit is a man of cities) is immediately to revile, or at the least to ridicule him. "The hermit leaves unperformed his duty to man." I tell you that it is Man, or the rest of him, who leaves unfulfilled his duty to the hermit. The root of the hermit aspect, that primitiveness you would have us discard, and what that root becomes and grows are the real : that which we graft on to the root is the artificial.
Which is why "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers." Knowledge comes unasked, a wretch thick-skinned, but Wisdom dallies long with the invitation, Leave alone the Andes, till you know your Rimutakas—to stroll dreamwise through the glades another has fashioned is "to lead thyself the road of Nothing down." Be wise in your own right!