The Patient Observer

Simeon Strunsky
The Patient Observer, by Simeon

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Title: The Patient Observer And His Friends
Author: Simeon Strunsky

Release Date: September 22, 2006 [eBook #19359]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Stacy Brown and the Project Gutenberg Online
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And His Friends

New York Dodd, Mead and Company 1911 Copyright, 1910, by The
Evening Post Company Copyright, 1910, by P. F. Collier & Son
Copyright, 1910, by Harper & Brothers Copyright, 1910, by The
Atlantic Monthly Co. Copyright, 1911, by Dodd, Mead and Company

M. G. S.

I Cowards Page 1
II The Church Universal 10
III The Doctors 19
IV Interrogation 29
V The Mind Triumphant 37

VI On Calling White Black 45
VII The Solid Flesh 57
VIII Some Newspaper Traits 67
IX A Fledgling 80
X The Complete Collector--I 92
XI The Everlasting Feminine 100
XII The Fantastic Toe 111
XIII On Living in Brooklyn 119
XIV Palladino Outdone 130
XV The Cadence of the Crowd 138
XVI What We Forget 147
XVII The Children That Lead Us 159
XVIII The Martians 179
XIX The Complete Collector--II 189
XX When a Friend Marries 198
XXI The Perfect Union of the Arts 209
XXII An Eminent American 216
XXIII Behind the Times 227
XXIV Public Liars 238
XXV The Complete Collector--III 249

XXVI The Commuter 257
XXVII Headlines 270
XXVIII Usage 278
XXIX 60 H.P. 285
XXX The Sample Life 296
XXXI The Complete Collector--IV 313
XXXII Chopin's Successors 320
XXXIII The Irrepressible Conflict 327
XXXIV The Germs of Culture 336

Of the papers that go to make up the present volume, the greater
number were published as a series in the columns of the New York
Evening Post for 1910, under the general title of The Patient Observer.
For the eminently laudable purpose of making a fairly thick book, the
Patient Observer's frequently recurrent "I," "me," and "mine" have now
been supplemented with the experiences and reflections of his friends
Harrington, Cooper, and Harding as recorded on other occasions in the
New York Evening Post, as well as in the Atlantic Monthly, the
Bookman, Collier's, and Harper's Weekly.

It was Harrington who brought forward the topic that men take up in
their most cheerful moments. I mean, of course, the subject of death.

Harrington quoted a great scientist as saying that death is the one great
fear that, consciously or not, always hovers over us. But the five men
who were at table with Harrington that night immediately and sharply
disagreed with him.
Harding was the first to protest. He said the belief that all men are
afraid of death is just as false as the belief that all women are afraid of
mice. It is not the big facts that humanity is afraid of, but the little
things. For himself, he could honestly say that he was not afraid of
death. He defied it every morning when he ran for his train, although he
knew that he thereby weakened his heart. He defied it when he smoked
too much and read too late at night, and refused to take exercise or to
wear rubbers when it rained. All men, he repeated, are afraid of little
things. Personally, what he was most intensely and most enduringly
afraid of was a revolving storm-door.
Harding confessed that he approaches a revolving door in a state of
absolute terror. To see him falter before the rotating wings, rush
forward, halt, and retreat with knees trembling, is to witness a
shattering spectacle of complete physical disorganisation. Harding said
that he enters a revolving door with no serious hope of coming out
alive. By anticipation he feels his face driven through the glass partition
in front of him, and the crash of the panel behind him upon his skull.
Some day, Harding believed, he would be caught fast in one of those
compartments and stick. Axes and crowbars would be requisitioned to
retrieve his lifeless form.
Bowman agreed with Harding. His own life, Bowman was inclined to
believe, is typical of most civilised men, in that it is passed in constant
terror of his inferiors. The people whom he hires to serve him strike
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