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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)

Facts and Factotums

Facts and Factotums.

A child is happy as long as it is imbued with a sense of wonder; when it ceases to wonder it is no longer a wonder. Of course there are people who regard babies as mere instruments of torture, but the wise know that the man who is fifty per cent, child is hundred per cent. man. Knowledge is power, dear reader, but what is power? We are open to be searched.

On the other hand, Wonder is a lack of definite knowledge which makes conjecture a pleasant pastime, and frees the mind from the limitations of Fact. Too many facts make man a mere factotum. I'll wager that a lot of people lost a lot of fun and excitement when it was proved that to fall over the edge of the earth was impossible. The chief kick to be gained from ocean travel before the days of enlightenment must have lain in the danger of overshooting the terminus and prolonging the voyage ad infinitum, even if the passenger did lose the benefit of the pink portion of his ticket. Nowadays the most one can anticipate from a circumnavigation of the globe is that he will make his point of departure his point of arrival. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but too much is more than enough.

Nowadays everything is staked out, indexed, labelled, and priced up, and the “optopest” or “pessimop” (as the case may be) who questions the identity of the proverbial spade, is indexed under L.

Too many facts make man a bore,
The flavour of wisdom lies not in the
There's meat in conjecture and virtue
in dreams,
And nothing, I'll warrant, is just
what it seems.
The proof of the pudding is all in the
And not in the knowledge of spices
and paste.
Let highbrows deny it, and egotists
The plum in the pie of existence is

Of course, shocked reader, that drear old dear, Common Sense, demands that we gather knowledge, and doubtless she is
“A lack of definite knowledge makes conjecture a pleasant pastime.”

“A lack of definite knowledge makes conjecture a pleasant pastime.”

page 16 right; but the mind, like every other whole, is constructed of two halves. The citizen who can utilise one-half of his upper upholstery to the accumulation of facts, and reserve the other for recreative purposes, will never suffer from air-pockets in his mental atmosphere.