Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.



There have, of course, in all ages been those who made a business of running down the times in which they lived—­tiresome people for whom everything had gone to the dogs—­or was rapidly going—­uncomfortable critics who could never make themselves at home in their own century, and whose weary shibboleth was that of some legendary perfect past.

In Rome this particular kind of bore went by the name of laudator temporis acti; and, if we have no such concise Anglo-Saxon phrase for the type, we still have the type no less ubiquitously with us.  The bugbear of such is “modern science,” or “modern thought,” a monster which, we are frequently assured, is fast devouring all the beautiful and good in human life, a Moloch fed on the dreams and ideals and noble faiths of man.  Modernity!  For such “modernity” has taken the place of “Anti-Christ.”  These sad, nervous people have no eye for the beautiful patterns and fantasies of change, none of that faith which rejoices to watch “the roaring loom of time” weaving ever new garments for the unchanging eternal gods.  In new temples, strangely enough, they see only atheism, instead of the vitality of spiritual evolution; in new affirmations they scent only dangerous denials.  With the more grave misgivings of these folk of little faith this is not the place to deal, though actually, if there were any ground for belief in a modern decay of religion, we might seriously begin to believe in the alleged decay of romance.

Yes, romance, we not infrequently hear, is dead.  Modern science has killed it.  It is essentially a “thing of the past”—­an affair presumably of stage-coaches, powdered wigs, and lace ruffles.  It cannot breathe in what is spoken of as “this materialistic age.”

The dullards who repeat these platitudes of the muddle-headed multitude are surely the only people for whom they are true.  It is they alone who are the materialists, confusing as they do the spirit of romance with its worn-out garments of bygone fashions.  Such people are so clearly out of court as not to be worth controverting, except for the opportunity they give one of confidently making the joyous affirmation that, far from romance being dead in our day, there never was a more romantic age than ours, and that never since the world began has it offered so many opportunities, so many facilities for romance as at the present time.

In fact, a very little thinking will show that of all those benefited by “the blessings of modern science,” it is the lovers of the community who as a body have most to be thankful for.  Indeed, so true is this that it might almost seem as though the modern laboratory has been run primarily from romantic motives, to the end that the old reproach should be removed and the course of true love run magically smooth.  Valuable as the telephone may be in business affairs, it is simply invaluable in the affairs of love; and mechanicians the world over are absorbed in the problem of aerial flight, whether they know it or not, chiefly to provide Love with wings as swift as his desire.

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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