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“I say ‘poor fellow’ too, Louis, but High-Muck has not put his finger on the right spot. It was not the man’s pride that was wounded; nor did he die of a broken heart. He died because he had not reached his pinnacle, and that is quite a different thing. What blinded him and destroyed his reason—for it cannot be thought very sensible for a man to abandon a certain fixed income for a rainbow—was not your reviving his belief in himself, but your giving him, for the first time, an opportunity to spread his wings. But for that you could not have persuaded him to write a line. The pitiful thing was that the wings were not large enough—still they were wings to be used in the air of romance, and not legs with which to tread the roads of the commonplace, and he knew it. He had felt them growing ever since he was a boy. It is only a question of the spread of one’s feathers, after all, whether one succeeds soaring over mountains with a view of the never-ending Valley of Content below, or whether one keeps on grovelling in the mud.”

As Herbert paused a tremulous silence fell upon the group. That he, of all men, should thus penetrate, if not espouse, the cause of failure—the hardest of all things for a man