The Shogun says: "There are sentimentalities of many kinds, some present

less dangers than others, but from every point of view they are

prejudicial to the acquisition and exercise of common sense. To cultivate

sentiment over which the Will has no control is always to be regretted.

"Sentimentality is multiform.

"It presents itself, at times, under the aspect of an obscure appeal to

sensuality and brings with it a passing desire of the heart and of the

senses, which produces an artificial appreciation of the emotion felt.

"In this first case sentimentality is an unconscious manifestation of

egotism, because, outside of that which provokes this outward

manifestation, everything is alienated and becomes indistinct.

"The incidents of existence lose their true proportion, since everything

becomes relative to the object because of our preoccupation.

"The impulse reigns supreme there when sentimentality establishes itself,

and the desire of judgment, if it makes itself apparent, is quickly

shunned, to the profit of illusory reasons, in which pure reason does not


"This sentimentality amalgamating the springs of egotism bereaves the

soul's longing of all its greatness.

"The anxiety to attribute all our impressions to emotion is only a way of

intensifying it for our personal satisfaction, at the expense of a

sentiment far deeper and more serious, which never blossoms under the

shadow of egotism and of frivolous sentimentality.

"Never will common sense have the chance to manifest itself in those who

permit such ephemeral and enfeebling impressions to implant themselves in

their souls.

"However they must be pitied because their artificial emotion often

results in a sorrow which is not lessened by repetition, but whose

manifestation is none the less prejudicial to the peace of their being.

"All those who do not harmonize common sense and the emotions of the

heart become passive to the investiture of a sentimentality which does

not wait to know if the object be worthy of them before it exists in


"From this state of mind arise disillusions and their recurrence entails

a defect in the conception.

"Men who are often deceived in allowing themselves to feel a sorrow which

is only based on the longings of sentimentality become pessimists quickly

and deny the existence of deep and enduring affection judged from its

superior expression.

"This superior expression of sentiment is freed from all personality and

such judgment which differentiates it from other sentiments.

"If we wished to appeal to common sense we should acknowledge, too often,

that in the search for expansion we have only recognized the opportunity

to satisfy the inclination which urges us to seek for pleasure.

"Sentiment reasons, and is capable of devotion. Sentimentality excludes

reflective thought and ignores generosity.

"We are capable of sacrificing ourselves for sentiment.

"Sentimentality exacts the sacrifice of others.

"Therefore, profiting by the principles already developed, he who

cultivates common sense will never fail to reason in the following


"Opening the symbolic fan, he will encounter, after perfection, the

memory which will suggest to him the recollections of personal and

strange experiences and he will record this fact: abegation is rarely


"The inclination of our thoughts will suggest to us the difficulties

there are in searching for it.

"Deduction will acquaint us with the temerity of this exaction, and

precaution will attract our thoughts to the possibility of suffering

which could proceed from disillusion.

"Following this, reasoning and judgment will intervene in order to hasten

the conclusion formulated by common sense.

"It follows then that, abnegation being so rare, common sense indicates

to me that it would be imprudent for me to allow my happiness to rest

upon the existence of a thing so exceptional.

"For this reason this sentimental defect will find common sense armed

against this eventuality.

"There is another form or sentimentality not less common.

"It is that which extends itself to all the circumstances of life and

transforms true pity into a false sensibility, the exaggeration of which

deteriorates the true value of things.

"Those who give publicity to this form of sentiment are agitated (or

imagine themselves to be agitated) as profoundly on the most futile of

pretexts as for the most important cause.

"They do not think to ask themselves if their ardor is merited; also

every such experience, taking out of them something of their inner

selves, leaves them enfeebled and stranded.

"Every excursion into the domain of sentimentality is particularly

dangerous, for tourists always fail to carry with them the necessary

coinage which one calls common sense."

After having put ourselves on guard against the surprizes of mental

exaggeration, Yoritomo warns us of a kind of high respectable

sentimentality which we possess, that is none the less censurable

because under an exterior of the purest tenderness it conceals a

profound egotism.

It concerns paternal love from which reasoning and common sense

are excluded.

"Nothing" said he, "seems more noble than the love of parents for their

children, and no sentiment is more august when it is comprehended in all

its grandeur.

"But how many people are apt to distinguish it from an egotistical


"I have seen some mothers oppose the departure of their sons, preferring

to oblige them to lead an obscure existence near to them, rather than

impose upon themselves the sorrow of a separation.

"These women do not fail to condemn the action of others, who, filled

with a sublime abnegation, allow their children to depart, hiding from

them the tears which they shed, because they have the conviction of

seeing them depart for the fortune and the happiness which they feel

themselves unable to offer them.

"Which of these are worthy of admiration? Those who condemn their

children to a life of mediocrity in order to obey an egotistical

sentimentality, or those who, with despair in their hearts, renounce the

joy of their presence, and think only of their own grief in order to

build upon it the happiness of their dear ones.

"The common sense of this latter class inspiring in them this magnificent

sentiment, and forcing them to set aside a sentimentality which is, in

reality, only the caricature of sentiment, has permitted them to escape

that special kind of egotism, which could be defined thus: The

translation of a desire for personal contentment.

"Ought we then to blame others so strongly?

"It is necessary, above all, to teach them to reason about the ardor of

their emotions, and only to follow them when they find that they are

cleansed from all aspiration which is not a pledge of devotion."

Now the Shogun speaks to us with that subtlety of analysis which is

characteristic and refers to a kind of sentimentality the most frequent

and the least excusable.

"There are," he tells us, "a number of people who, without knowing that

they offend common sense in a most indefensible manner, invoke

sentimentality in order to dispense with exercising the most vulgar pity,

to the profit of their neighbor.

"A prince," he continues, "possest a large? tract of land which he had

put under grain.

"For the harvest, a large number of peasants and laborers were employed

and each one lived on the products of his labor.

"But a prolonged drought threatened the crop; so the prince's overseer

dismissed most of the laborers, who failed to find employment in the

parched country.

"Soon hunger threatened the inmates of the miserable dwellings, and

sickness, its inseparable companion, did not fail to follow.

"Facing the conditions the prince left, and had it not been for two

or three wealthy and charitable people the laborers would have

starved to death.

"This pitiful condition was soon changed, abundance replaced famine, and

the master returned to live in his domain.

"But amazement followed when he addrest his people as follows: Here I am,

back among you, and I hope to remain here a long time; if I left you, it

was because I have so great an affection for all my servants and because

even the bare thought of seeing them suffer caused me unbearable sorrow.

"I am not among those who are sufficiently hard-hearted to be able to

take care of sick and suffering people and to be a witness of their

martyrdom. My pity is too keen to permit of my beholding this spectacle;

this is why I had to leave to others, less sensitive, the burden of care

which my too tender heart was unable to lavish on you."

And that which is more terrible is that this man believed what he said.

He did not understand the monstrous rent which he made in the robe of

common sense, by declaring that he had committed the vilest act of

cruelty due to excessive sensitiveness since it represented a murderous

act of omission.

Examples of this form of sentimentality are more numerous than we think.

There exist people who cover their dogs with caresses, gorging them with

dainties, and will take good care not to succor the needy.

Others faint away at sight of an accident and never think of giving aid

to the wounded.

One may observe that for people exercising sentimentality at the expense

of common sense, the greatest catastrophe in intensity, if it be far away

from us, diminishes, while the merest incident, a little out of the

ordinary, affects them in a most immoderate manner if it be produced in

the circle of their acquaintances.

It is needless to add that, if it touches them directly, it becomes an

unparalleled calamity; it seems that the rest of the world must be

troubled by it.

This propensity toward pitying oneself unreasonably about little things

which relate to one directly and this exaggerated development of a

sterile sentimentality are almost always artificial, and the instinct of

self-preservation very often aids in their extermination.

"Among my old disciples," pursues the Shogun, "I had a friend whose son

was afflicted by this kind of sentimentality, the sight of blood made him

faint and he was incapable of aiding any one whomsoever; that which he

called his good heart, and which was only a form of egotistical

sentimentality, prevented him from looking at the suffering of others.

"One day, a terrible earthquake destroyed his palace; he escaped, making

his way through the ruins and roughly pushing aside the wounded who told

about it afterward.

"I saw him some days after; instead of reproaching him severely for his

conduct, I endeavored to make him see how false was his conception of

pity, since, not only had he not fainted at the sight of those who,

half-dead, were groaning, but he had found in the egotistical sentiment

of self-preservation the strength to struggle against those who clung to

him, beseeching him for help.

"I demonstrated to him the evident contradiction of his instinctive

cruelty to the sentimentality that it pleased him to make public.

"I made an appeal to common sense, in order to prove to him the attitude

which he had, until then, assumed, and I had the joy of seeing myself


"My arguments appealed to his mentality, and always afterward, when he

had the opportunity to bring puerile sentimentality and common sense face

to face, he forced himself to appeal to that quality, which in revealing

to him the artifice of the sentiment which animated him, cured him of

false sensibility, which he had displayed up to that time."

Sentimentality is in reality only a conception of egotism, under the

different forms which it adopts.

Yoritomo proves it to us again, in speaking of the weakness of certain

teachers, who, under the pretext of avoiding trouble, allow their

children to follow their defective inclinations.

"It is by an instinctive hatred of effort that parents forbid themselves

to make their children cry when reprimanding them," said he.

"If the parents wish to be sincere to themselves, they will perceive that

the sorrow in seeing their children's tears flow, plays a very small part

in their preconceived idea of indulgence.

"It is in order to economize their own nervous energy or to avoid

cleverly the trouble of continued teaching, that they hesitate to provoke

these imaginary miseries, the manifestation of which is caused by the

great weakness of the teachers.

"Common sense, nevertheless, ought to make them understand that it is

preferable to allow the little ones to shed a few tears, which are

quickly dried, rather than to tolerate a deplorable propensity for these

habits which, later in life, will cause them real anxiety."

And the philosopher concludes:

"A very little reasoning could suffice to convince one of the dangers of

sentimentality, if the persons who devote themselves entirely to it

consented to reflect, by frankly agreeing to the true cause which

produces it.

"They would discover in this false pity the desire not to disturb their

own tranquility.

"They would also perceive that, in order to spare themselves a few

unpleasant moments in the present they are preparing for themselves great

sorrow for the future.

"In parental affection, as in friendship or in the emotions of

love, sentimentality is none other than an exaggerated amplification

of the ego.

"If it be true that all our acts, even those most worthy of approbation,

can react in our personality, at least it is necessary that we should be

logical and that, in order to create for ourselves a partial happiness or

to avoid a temporary annoyance, we should not prepare for ourselves an

existence, outlined by deception and fruitless regrets.

"Sentimentality and its derivatives, puerile pity and false

sensitiveness, can create illusion for those who do not practise the art

of reasoning, but the friends of common sense do not hesitate to condemn

them for it.

"In spite of the glitter in which it parades itself, sentimentality will

never be anything but the dross of true sentiment."

THE DAILY MIRACLE THE DESIRE TO EXCEED ONE'S PROGRAMME facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail