On Compromise eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 203 pages of information about On Compromise.
by a single element of rationality, and weigh, if you can, the huge burden of custom, unrelieved by a single leavening particle of fresh thought.  Ponder the share which selfishness and love of ease have in the vitality and the maintenance of the opinions that we are forbidden to dispute.  Then how pitiful a thing seems the approval or disapproval of these creatures of the conventions of the hour, as one figures the merciless vastness of the universe of matter sweeping us headlong through viewless space; as one hears the wail of misery that is for ever ascending to the deaf gods; as one counts the little tale of the years that separate us from eternal silence.  In the light of these things, a man should surely dare to live his small span of life with little heed of the common speech upon him or his life, only caring that his days may be full of reality, and his conversation of truth-speaking and wholeness.

Those who think conformity in the matters of which we have been speaking harmless and unimportant, must do so either from indifference or else from despair.  It is difficult to convince any one who is possessed by either one or other of these two evil spirits.  Men who have once accepted them, do not easily relinquish philosophies that relieve their professors from disagreeable obligations of courage and endeavour.  To the indifferent person one can say nothing.  We can only acquiesce in that deep and terrible scripture, ’He that is filthy, let him be filthy still.’  To those who despair of human improvement or the spread of light in the face of the huge mass of brute prejudice, we can only urge that the enormous weight and the firm hold of baseless prejudice and false commonplace are the very reasons which make it so important that those who are not of the night nor of the darkness should the more strenuously insist on living their own lives in the daylight.  To those, finally, who do not despair, but think that the new faith will come so slowly that it is not worth while for the poor mortal of a day to make himself a martyr, we may suggest that the new faith when it comes will be of little worth, unless it has been shaped by generations of honest and fearless men, and unless it finds in those who are to receive it an honest and fearless temper.  Our plea is not for a life of perverse disputings or busy proselytising, but only that we should learn to look at one another with a clear and steadfast eye, and march forward along the paths we choose with firm step and erect front.  The first advance towards either the renovation of one faith or the growth of another, must be the abandonment of those habits of hypocritical conformity and compliance which have filled the air of the England of to-day with gross and obscuring mists.


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On Compromise from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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