Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?
—Measure for Measure
There is a passage in an essay by Henry James—it occurs in the obituary article he wrote on “Dumas the Younger” in 1895— which defines very exactly the feeling we are likely to experience when, at a certain age, we see the people we have known and who have meant a good deal to us pass away and become in death something very different from what they were in life, both in their own lives and in ours.
One of the things that most bring home his time of life to a man of fifty [James wrote] is the increase of the rate at which he loses his friends. Some one dies every week, some one dies every day, and if the rate be high among his coevals it is higher still in the generation that, on awakening to spectatorship, he found in possession of the stage. He...