The Angel and the Author
[Philosophy and the Daemon]
Philosophy, it has been said, is the art of bearing other people's troubles. The truest
philosopher I ever heard of was a woman. She was brought into the London Hospital
suffering from a poisoned leg. The house surgeon made a hurried examination. He was a
man of blunt speech.
"It will have to come off," he told her.
"What, not all of it?"
"The whole of it, I am sorry to say," growled the house surgeon.
"Nothing else for it?"
"No other chance for you whatever," explained the house surgeon.
"Ah, well, thank Gawd it's not my 'ead," observed the lady.
The poor have a great advantage over us better-off folk. Providence provides them with
many opportunities for the practice of philosophy. I was present at a "high tea" given last
winter by charitable folk to a party of char-women. After the tables were cleared we
sought to amuse them. One young lady, who was proud of herself as a palmist, set out to
study their "lines." At sight of the first toil-worn hand she took hold of her sympathetic
face grew sad.
"There is a great trouble coming to you," she informed the ancient dame.
The placid-featured dame looked up and smiled:
"What, only one, my dear?"
"Yes, only one," asserted the kind fortune-teller, much pleased, "after that all goes
"Ah," murmured the old dame, quite cheerfully, "we was all of us a short-lived family."
Our skins harden to the blows of Fate. I was lunching one Wednesday with a friend in the
country. His son and heir, aged twelve, entered and took his seat at the table.
"Well," said his father, "and how did we get on at school today?"