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It may well and fittingly be complained that of late years we English folk have shown an unpardonable spirit of curiosity about things which do not concern us. We have brought into being more than one periodical publication full of gossip about the private life and affairs of folk of eminence, and there are too many of us who are never so much pleased as when we are informed that a certain great artist abhors meat, or that a famous musician is inordinately fond of pickled salmon. There was a time when, to use a homely old phrase, people minded their own business and left that of their neighbours' alonethat day in some degree seems to have been left far behind, and most of us feel that we are being defrauded of our just rights if we may not step across the threshold of my lady's drawing-room or set foot in the statesman's cabinet. The fact is that we have itching ears nowadays, and cherish a passion for gossip which were creditable to the old women of the open doorways. We want to know allwhich is to say as much as chance will tell usabout the people of whom the street is talking, and the more we can hear of them, even of the things which appertain in reality to no one but themselves, the better we are pleased. But even here, in what is undoubtedly an evil, there is an element of possible good which under certain circumstances may be developed into magnificent results. Since we must talk amongst ourselves, since we must satisfy this very human craving for what is after all gossip, let us find great subjects to gossip about. If we must talk in the streets let us talk about great folk, about great deeds, about great examples, and since our subjects are great let us talk of them in a great way. There is no need to chatter idly and to no purposewe shall be all the better if our gossip about great men and great things leads us to even a faint imitation of both.

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