4 December 2013

The False Humility of the Frog

Robert Lynd, "The Cult of Dullness," Books & Authors (London: R. Cobden-Sanderson, 1922), pp. 147-148:
The ordinary writer sets out with the hope of qualifying for a place in the temple of fame: he ends too often by merely qualifying for a place in the Dunciad. He may be a man of one talent, which would serve well enough if put to proper uses, but he prefers to hide it and to pretend that it is ten, railing all the while at others on the ground that they have only five. I used to think that it was un-Christian of the Founder of Christianity to give the man with one talent so poor a name compared to the man with five or the man with ten. But I have long since come to see that in doing so he spoke out of a profound knowledge of human nature. The man with one talent is the most likely of all to make no use of it. He does not see that even his poverty may be turned into riches, as is obvious when one remembers such Lilliputian and immortal poets as Lovelace. He is blinded by a sense of his insignificance. He has the false humility of the frog, which is not content to be a first-rate frog but must try to swell itself into a bull.
Sengai Gibon (1750-1837), Meditating Frog