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Page 198

PART III - THE PAST
CHAPTER V - CARDAN

are probably at hand : heresy has grown, the arts of life will be despised, certainties will be relinquished for uncertainty. But that time has not yet come. We can still rejoice in the flowering meadow of spring.
' I cannot say that I regret my lot. I am the happier for having known so many things which are important and certain and rare. And I know that I have the immortal element within me, and that I shall not wholly die.'

Besides hoping for immortality beyond the grave, for which there is some justification, Cardan hoped for immortality this side of it, for which there is no justification at all. The Italians of the Renaissance found their life so wonderful, that they believed that men would remember for ever that they had lived, and that the intensity of their emotions could not be dissipated by time. Cardan, who is the last of that Renaissance, is less ambitious in his demands. ' I do not mind whether it is known what kind of a man I was, but I should like it to be known that I existed.' Sir Thomas Browne, who lived still later, and who is prepared for total oblivion, sees the futility of such a compromise. ` To be content that times to come should only know there was such a man, not caring whether they knew more of him, was a frigid ambition in Cardan, disparaging his horoscopal inclination and judgment of himself.'
To raise up a skeleton, and make it dance, brings indeed little credit either to the skeleton or to us. But those ghosts who are still clothed with passion or thought are profitable companions. If we are to remember Cardan to-day let us not remember him as an oddity.

travel books:
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