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That inimitable critic of schnitzels and life, George Jean Nathan, occasionally enters the territory where angels fear to tread. In his last group of clinical notes he disputes no less a person then a gentleman and writer, now too often slighted, one Quintus, Horatius Flaccus of Rome and the Sabine Hills. This Flaccus, whose poetry has gone into several editions, even being used as a text for stylists, once amiably asserted that there was truth in wine. Mr. Nathan objects: there is no truth in wine.
"The effect of intoxicating liquids upon the average man, as anyone who takes the trouble to investigate the matter will quickly observe, is to exaggerate in him all his qualities of pretense and simultaneously to reduce in him all his qualities of forthrightness and probity." Now since this is apparently a generalization, and one must be wary of generalizations, and since the aforementioned Roman gentleman was rather a keen observer of men, there is really no reason for placing too much faith in the words of the clinic conductor.
That there is truth in wine Horace offered in no dogmatic way. He meant merely to suggest that the concealing, congealing, civilized man became more honestly himself, more obviously himself when in his cups. And though Mr. Nathan may have had more psychological training above Cayuga's waters than did Horace above the Fountain of Bandusia, he knows little more of men. A liar is nearly always a liar. But he is only more obviously a liar when drunk. And when Mr. Nathan disputes the axiom of his elder he is missing this point. But then one cannot expect an eclectic critic to realize every point when there are so many pages to write and so many schnitzels.
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