“You can’t judge cigars hy the picture on the box,” says one of the characters in a two-penny novel. As with cigars, so with men. Appearances are not of the least help in ascertaining the component parts of the characters of those with whom we have to deal. At the first meeting, they show their best side subsequently, on getting more intimate with them we find that we have to revise our opinion aḥout them.
We live in a world where keeping up appearances is a necessity. We are constantly obliged to humbug each other. The student, who very frequently shakes his head and smiles at a professor’s lecture, is not in the least following the lecture. He is only trying to appear so. The professor who every morning utters the high-sounding names of about half a dozen books is not learned ten to one he has not read them. He. too, is only trying to keep up appearances. There are probably only two places in the world where people are not required to keep up appearances-the jail and the asylum. Living in society one cannot do without this practice. It is this necessity for keeping up appearances that leads a poor student in a college to pawn his books and have a smart suit to parade in. It is again to satisfy this necessity that a man brags about achievements (his own) and failures (of other people).
A person who is perfectly frank and open is invariably considered somewhat of an ass and is usually kicked with the opprobrious epithet “worthy.” There is no greater condemnation of a person than to call him “worthy.” A “worthy” man lacking in brains, a man whom any fool even yourself-can get round.
The modern age is essentially an age of appearances. Things are not what they appear. The primitive man used to spit in the face of his enemy. Modern society shakes its enemy by the hand and does not spit until he has passed by. Under a thin veneer of frankness and henevolence, we find every day our worst enemies. One who seems to do us to most good is almost invariably sowing the seeds of our ruin. We always pretend to feel pleasure in those persons and things that only bore us and we have all cultivated the art of speaking ill of our neighbors and friends only in their absence. The truth is that we are all like that silly old wolf who masqueraded in a sheep’s garb.