chapter  IX
Sillies
Pages 5

The social conditions are nearly unimaginable as those of a Renaissance academy; the ethos, though it survived export from Cambridge, assumed misleadingly degenerate forms. Mr. Leonard Woolf is clear that this society was of the greatest importance to him not only at Cambridge but throughout his life, even when, each man maturing in his own way, the old easy access to another's mind was ended. The tradition people cherished, a tradition of tolerance, and the products of this was the kind of person Mr. Woolf calls a 'silly', using the word, one supposes, with much respect for its etymology, for these 'sillies' are secular saints. Mr. Woolf is not, and was never, a silly. The society of friends at Cambridge and later has been the most important thing in his life; yet he had other friends and interests outside theirs. He is intellectually tough as well as sensitive. He prides himself on a congenital absence of a sense of sin.