misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or
haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is
ignorance of the world. Misanthropy arises from the too great
confidence of inexperience; you trust a man and think him altogether
true and good and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to
be false and knavish; and then another and another, and when this
has happened several times to a man, especially within the circle of
his most trusted friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled
with them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has
any good in him at all. I dare say that you must have observed this.
Yes, I said.
And is not this discreditable? The reason is that a man, having to
deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; for if he had knowledge
he would have known the true state of the case, that few are the
good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the interval
How do you mean? I said.
I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and very
small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large or a very small
man; and this applies generally to all extremes, whether of great
and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul, or black and white:
and whether the instances you select be men or dogs or anything
else, few are the extremes, but many are in the mean between them. Did
you never observe this?
Yes, I said, I have.
And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a competition of
evil, the first in evil would be found to be very few?
Yes, that is very likely, I said.
Yes, that is very likely, he replied; not that in this respect
arguments are like men-there I was led on by you to say more than I
had intended; but the point of comparison was that when a simple man
who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true which