Speculative Disinterest/can speculation render one useless

Very few men have ever arrived at a complete disinterestedness of Mind: very few have been influenced by a pure desire of the benefit of others—in the greater part of the Benefactors & to Humanity some meretricious motive has sullied their greatness—some melodramatic scenery has fascinated them—From the manner in which I feel Haslam’s misfortune I perceive how far I am from any humble standard of disinterestedness—Yet this feeling out to be carried to its highest pitch, as there is no fear of its ever injuring society—which it would do I fear pushed to an extremity—for in the wild nature the Hawk would loose his Breakfast of Robins and the Robin his of Worms The Lion must starve as well as the swallow—The greater part of Men make their way with the same instinctiveness, the same unwandering eye from their purposes, the same animal eagerness as the Hawk—The Hawk wants a Mate, so does the Man—look at them both they set about it and procure on in the same manner—They want both a nest and they both set about one in the same manner—they get their food in the same manner—The noble animal Man for his amusement smokes his pipe—the Hawk balances about the Clouds—that is the only difference of their leisure’s. This it is that makes the Amusements of Life—to a speculative Mind. I go among the Fields and catch a glimpse of a stoat or a fieldmouse peeing out of the withered grass—the creature hath a purpose and its eyes are bright with it—I go amongst the buildings of a city and I see a Man hurrying along—to what? The Creature has a purpose and his eyes are bright with it. But then as Wordsworth says, “We have all one human heart”—there is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify—so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of a new heroism—The pity is that we must wonder at it: as we should at finding a peal in rubbish—I have no doubt that thousands of people never heard of have had hearts completely disinterested: I can remember but two—Socrates and Jesus—their Histories evince it—What I heard a little time ago, Taylor observe with respect to Socrates, may be said of jesus—That he was so great a man that though he transmitted no writing of his own to posterity, we have his Mind and his saying and his greatness handed to us by others. It is to be lamented that the history of the latter was written and revised by men interested in the pious frauds of Religion. Yet through all this I see his splendour. Even here though I myself am pursueing the same, instinctive course as the veriest human animal you can think of—I am however young writing at random—straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness—without knowing the bearing of any one assertion of any one pinion. Yet may I not in this be free from sin? May there not be superior beings amused with any graceful, though instinctive attitude my mind may fall into, as I am entertained with the alertness of a Stoat or the anxiety of a Deer? Though a quarrel in the streets is a thing to be hated, the energies displayed in it are fine; the commonest Man shows a grace in his quarrel—By a superior being our reasoning may take the same tone—though erroneous they may be fine—This is the very thing in which consists poetry; and if so it is not so fine a thing as philosophy—For the same reason that an eagle is not so fine a thing as truth—Give m this credit—Do you not think I strive—to know myself? Give me this credit—and you will not think that on my own account I repeat Milton’s lines

“How charming is divine Philosophy

Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose

But musical as in Apollo’s lute”—

No—no for myself—feeling grateful as I do to have got into a state of mind to relish them properly—Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced—Even a Proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it—…

-John Keats (1795-1821)