George Santayana

Dialogues in Limbo

Democritus. Bring the Stranger, bring the Stranger. Let us see how he is put together. I smell one goodish ingredient, but the compound is new-fangled, yes {sniffing), and ill mixed. Alcihiades. You can’t possibly scent him at this distance. Not even a dog could. For a Christian he is rather well washed. Democritus. Before you contradict an old man, my fair friend, you should endeavour to understand him. The Stranger might be as clean as a river-god, who cannot live out of running water, and I should not be prevented from discerning the odour of his thoughts. Your barbarians, I know, have no proper regimen. The few bathe too often, out of luxury or fussiness, perhaps in steam or in hot water ; and the many never bathe at all. Thus those who wash among them are quite washed out, and yet the sodden smell of them is perceptible and most unpleasant. But it was not of their soft bodies that I was speaking, but of their rotten minds. Did you never hear that a philosophy can be smelt ?
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