Common Sense such as we have just described it, according to Yoritomo, is

the absolute antithesis of dreamy imagination, it is the sworn enemy of

illusion, against which it struggles from the moment of contact.

Common sense is solid, illusion is yielding, also illusion never

issues victorious from a combat with it; during a struggle illusion

endeavors vainly to display its subterfuges and cunning; illusions

disappear one by one, crusht by the powerful arms of their terrible

adversary--common sense.

"The worship of illusion," says Yoritomo, "presents certain dangers to

the integrity of judgment, which, under such influence, falsifies the

comparative faculty, and sways decision to the side of neutrality.

"This kind of mental half-sleep is extremely detrimental to

manifestations of reason, because this torpor excludes it from imaginary


"Little by little the lethargy caused by this intellectual paralysis

produces the effect of fluidic contagion over all our faculties.

"Energy, which ought to be the principle factor in our resolutions,

becomes feeble and powerless at the point where we no longer care to feel

its influence.

"The sentiment of effort exists no longer, since we are pleased to

resolve all difficulties without it.

"In this inconstant state of mind, common sense, after wandering a moment

withdraws itself, and we find that we are delivered over to all the

perils of imagination.

"Nothing that we see thus confusedly is found on the plane which belongs

to common sense; the ideas, associated by a capricious tie, bind and

unbind themselves, without imposing the necessity of a solution.

"The man who allows himself to be influenced by vague dreams," adds the

Shogun, "must, if he does not react powerfully, bid farewell to common

sense and reason; for he will experience so great a charm in forgetting,

even for one moment, the reality of life, that he will seek to prolong

this blest moment.

"He will renounce logic, whose conclusions are, at times, opposed to his

desires, and he will plunge himself into that false delight of awakened

dreams, or, as some say, day-dreams.

"Those who defend this artificial conception of happiness, like to

compare people of common sense to heavy infantry soldiers, who march

along through stony roads, while they depict themselves as pleasant

bird-fanciers, giving flight to the fantastic bearers of wings.

"But they do not take into account the fact that the birds, for whom they

open the cage, fly away without the intention of returning, leaving them

thus deceived and deprived of the birds, while the rough infantry

soldiers, after many hardships, reach the desired end which they had

proposed to attain, thus realizing the joys of conquest.

"There they find the rest and security, which the possessors of fugitive

birds will never know.

"Those who cultivate common sense will always ignore the collapses which

follow the disappearance of illusions.

"How many men have suffered thus uselessly!

"And what is more stupid than a sorrow, voluntarily imposed, when it can

not be productive of any good?

"Men can not be too strongly warned against the tendency of embellishing

everything that concerns the heart-life, and this is the inclination of

most people.

"The causes of this propensity are many and the need for that which

astounds is not the only cause to be mentioned.

"Indolence is never a stranger to illusion.

"It is so delightful to foresee a solution which conforms to our desires!

"For certain natures, stained with moral atrophy, it is far sweeter to

hope for that which will be produced without pain.

"One begins by accelerating this achievement, so earnestly desired, by

using all the will-power, and one becomes accustomed progressively to

regard desires as a reality, and, aided by indolence, man discounts in

advance an easy success.

"False enthusiasm, or rather enthusiasm without deliberate reflection,

always enters into these illusions, which are accompanied by persuasion

and never combatted by common sense.

"Vanity is never foreign to these false ideas, which are always of a

nature to flatter one's amour propre.

"We love to rejoice beforehand in the triumph which we believe will win

and, aided by mental frivolity, we do not wish to admit that success can

be doubted.

"The dislike of making an effort, however, would quickly conceal, with

its languishing voice, the wise words of common sense, if we would listen

momentarily to them.

"And, lastly, it is necessary to consider credulity, to which, in our

opinion, is accorded a place infinitely more honorable than it deserves."

And now the sage, Yoritomo, establishes the argument which, by the aid of

common sense, characterized these opinions.

According to him, "It does not belong to new and vibrating souls, as many

would have us believe.

"When credulity does not proceed from inveterate stupidity, it is always

the result of apathy and weakness.

"Unhappiness and misfortune attend those who are voluntarily feeble.

"Their defect deprived them of the joy derived from happy efforts. They

will be the prey of duplicity and untruth.

"They are the vanquished in life, and scarcely deserve the pity of the

conqueror; for their defeat lacks grandeur, since it has never been

aurioled by the majestic strength of conflict."

Following this, the Shogun speaks to us of those whom he calls the ardent

seekers after illusion.

One evening he related the following story: "Some men started off for an

island, which they perceived in the distance.

"It looked like a large, detached red spot, amid the flaming rays of the

setting sun, and the men told of a thousand wonders about this unknown

land, as yet untrodden by the foot of man.

"The first days of the journey were delightful. The oars lay in the

bottom of the boat untouched, and they just allowed themselves to drift

with the tide. They disembarked, singing to the murmur of the waters, and

gathered the fruits growing on the shores, to appease their hunger.

"But the stream, which was bearing them onward, did not retain long its

limpidity and repose; the eddies soon entrapped the tiny bark and dragged

the men overboard.

"Some, looking backward, were frightened at the thought of ascending the

river, which had become so tempestuous.

"Escaping the wreckage of the boat as best they could, they entrusted

themselves again to the fury of the waters.

"They had to suffer from cold and hunger, for they were far from shore,

and as, in their imagination, the island was very near, they had

neglected to furnish themselves with the necessities of life.

"At last, after the fatigues which forethought would have prevented, they

found themselves one evening, at sundown, at the base of a great rock,

bathed in the rosy light of the departing sun.

"This, then, was the island of their dreams.

"Tired out and exhausted from lack of food, they had only the strength to

lie down upon the inhospitable rock, there to die!

"The disappearance of the illusion, having destroyed their courage and

having struck them with the sword of despair, the rock of reality had

proved destructive of their bodies and souls.

"The moral of this story easily unfolds itself.

"If the seekers after illusions had admitted common sense to their

deliberations, they would certainly have learned to know the nature of

the enchanted isle, and they would have taken good care not to start out

on their journey which must terminate by such a deception.

"Would they not have taken the necessary precaution to prevent all the

delays attendant upon travels of adventure, and would they have entrusted

their lives to so frail a skiff, if they had acquired common sense?"

We must conclude, with Yoritomo, that illusion could often be transformed

into happy reality if it were better understood, and if, instead of

looking upon it through the dreams of our imagination, we applied

ourselves to the task of eliminating the fluid vapors which envelop it,

that we might clothe it anew with the garment of common sense.

Many enterprises have been considered as illusions because we have

neglected to awaken the possibilities which lay dormant within them.

The initial thought, extravagant as it may appear, brings with it, at

times, facilities of realization that a judgment dictated by common sense

can alone make us appreciate.

He who knows how to keep a strict watch over himself will be able to

escape the causes of disillusion, which lead us through fatal paths of

error, to the brink of despair.

"That which is above all to be shunned," said the philosopher, "is the

encroachment of discouragement, the result of repeated failures.

"Rare are those who wish to admit their mistakes.

"In the structure of the mind, inaccuracy brings a partial deviation from

the truth, and it does not take long for this slight error to generalize

itself, if not corrected by its natural reformer--common sense.

"But how many, among those who suffer from these unhappy illusions, are

apt to recognize them as such?

"It would, however, be a precious thing for us to admit the causes

which have led us to such a sorry result, by never permitting them to

occur again.

"This would be the only way for the victims of illusion to preserve the

life of that element of success and happiness known as hope.

"Because of seeing so often the good destroyed, we wish to believe no

more in it as inherent in our being, and rather than suffer repeatedly

from its disappearance, we prefer to smother it before perfect


"The greater number of skeptics are only the unavowed lovers of illusion;

their desires, never being those capable of realization, they have lost

the habit of hoping for a favorable termination of any sentiment.

"The lack of common sense does not allow them to understand the folly of

their enterprise, and rather than seek the causes of their habitual

failures, they prefer to attack God and man, both of whom they hold

responsible for all their unhappiness.

"They are willingly ironical, easily become pessimists, and villify life,

without desiring to perceive that it reserved as many smiles for them as

the happy people whom they envy.

"All these causes of disappointment can only be attributed to the lack of

equilibrium of the reasoning power and, above all, to the absence of

common sense, hence we cannot judge of relative values.

"To give a definite course to the plans which we form is to prepare the

happy termination of them.

"This is also the way to banish seductive illusion, the devourer of

beautiful ambitions and youthful aspirations."

And, with his habitual sense of the practical in life, Yoritomo adds the


"There are, however, some imaginations which can not be controlled by the

power of reasoning, and which, in spite of everything, escape toward the

unlimited horizons of the dream.

"It would be in vain to think of shutting them up in the narrow prison

walls of strict reason; they would die wishing to attempt an escape.

"To these we can prescribe the dream under its most august form, that

of science.

"Each inventor has pursued an illusion, but those whose names have lived

to reach our recognition, have caught a glimpse of the vertiginous course

they were following, and no longer have allowed themselves to get too far

away from their base--science.

"Yes, illusion can be beautiful, on condition that it is not constantly


"To make it beautiful we must be its master, then we may attempt

its conquest.

"It is thus that all great men act; before adopting an illusion, as

truth, they have assured themselves of the means by the aid of which they

were permitted first to hope for its transformation and afterward be

certain of their power to discipline it.

"Illusion then changes its name and becomes the Ideal.

"Instead of remaining an inaccessible myth, it is transformed into an

entity for the creation of good.

"It is no longer the effort to conquer the impossible, which endeavor

saps our vital forces; it is a contingency which study and common sense

strip of all aleatory principles, in order to give a form which becomes

more tangible and more definite every day.

"We have nothing more to do with sterile efforts toward gaining an object

which fades from view and disappears as one approaches it.

"It is no longer the painful reaching out after an object always growing

more indistinct as we draw near it.

"It is through conscious and unremitting effort that we attain the

happy expression of successful endeavor and realize the best in life,

for slow ascension in winning this best leaves no room for satiety in

this noble strife.

"We must pity those who live for an illusion as well as those whose

imagination has not known how to create an ideal, whose beauty illumines

their efforts.

"It is the triumph of common sense to accomplish this transformation and

to banish empty reveries, replacing them by creating a desire for the

best, which each one can satisfy--without destroying it.

"The day when this purpose is accomplished, illusion, definitely

conquered, will cease to haunt the mind of those whom common sense has

illumined; vagaries will make place for reason and terrible disillusion

will follow its chief (whose qualities never rise above mediocrity) into

his retreat, and allow the flower of hope to blossom in the souls

already filled with peace--that quality which is born of reason and

common sense."

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