of Childhood is a Dream
and an Illusion
What do we know about childhood? The brain of the child is the
home of dreams, of castles, of visions, of illusions and of delusions.
In fact, there could be no childhood without delusions, for delusions are
always more alluring than facts. Delusions, dreams and hallucinations are
a part of the warp and woof of childhood. You know it and I know it. I
remember, when I was a child, the men seemed as tall as the trees, the
trees as tall as the mountains. I can remember very well when, as a little
boy, I swam the deepest spot in the river for the first time. I swam breathlessly,
and landed with as much sense of glory and triumph as Julius Caesar felt
when he led his army across the Rubicon. I have been back since, and I
can almost step across the same place, but it seemed an ocean then. And
those men whom I thought were so wonderful were dead and left nothing behind.
I had lived in a dream. I had never known the real world which I met, to
my discomfort and despair, and that dispelled the illusion of my youth.
The whole life of childhood is a dream and an illusion, and whether
they take one shape or another shape depends not upon the dreamy boy but
on what surrounds him. As well might I have dreamed of burglars and wished
to be one as to dream of policemen and wished to be one. Perhaps I was
lucky, too, that I had no money. We have grown to think that the misfortune
is in not having it . The great misfortune in this terrible case is the
money. That has destroyed their lives. That has fostered these illusions.
That has promoted this mad act. And, if your honor shall doom them to die,
it will be because they are the sons of the rich.