What could Christianity do, a frail, tilting, crusading St. George, up against the monster dragon Grab, who held us all in his coils? It's no use, Jukie; it never was and never will be any use. I suddenly grew very tired of that party. It seemed a monster meeting of Potterites at play mediocrity, second-rateness, humbug, muddle, cant, cheap stunts the room was full of it all.
I have more than once asked an American friend how he could endure such a daily repast of pointless vulgarity, slipshod English, and general second-rateness; but elicited no better answer than that one had to see the news, that the editorial part of the paper was well done, and that a man had to make the best of what existed. This is a national trait; it has simply to be recognised as such.
The luke-warm equable temperament, the narrowness of sympathy and passion, the fondness for mechanical forms of thought, the imperfect receptivity and lack of interest in facts as such, dissevered from their possible connection with a theory; nay, the very vividness itself, the keenness of scent and the pertinacity; these all are qualities which may easily make for second-rateness, and for contentment with a cheap and loosely woven achievement.
Perhaps the fact that we are on the look-out for great men, and complaining because we cannot find them, is the best proof of our second-rateness; I do not imagine that the Elizabethan writers were much concerned with thinking whether they were great or not; they were much more occupied in having a splendid time, and in saying as eagerly as they could all the delightful thoughts which came crowding to the utterance, than in pondering whether they were worthy of admiration.