Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.

But, to conclude, it is all too possible that you who read this may have no such assets of a wilful well spent life to draw on as he whom I have pictured.  It may be that you have starved your emotions and fled your opportunities, or you may simply have had bad luck.  The golden moments seldom came your way.  The wilderness of life has seldom blossomed with a rose.  “The breast of the nymph in the brake” and “the chimes at midnight” were not for you.  And there is a menacing murmur of autumn in the air.  The days are shortening, and the twilight comes early, with a chilly breath.  The crickets have stopped singing, and the garden is sad with elegiac blooms.  The chrysanthemum is growing on the grave of the rose.  Perhaps already it is too late—­too late for life and joy.  You must take to first editions and entomology and other people’s interests in good earnest.  But no!  Suddenly on the wind there comes a cry—­a sound of cymbals and flutes and dancing feet.  It is life’s last call.  You have one chance left.  There is still Indian summer.  It is better than nothing.  Hurry and join the music, ere it be too late.  For this is the last call!

          When time lets slip a little perfect hour,
          Take it, for it will not come again.

VII

THE PERSECUTIONS OF BEAUTY

All religions have periods in their history which are looked back to with retrospective fear and trembling as eras of persecution, and each religion has its own book of martyrs.  The religion of beauty is no exception.  Far from it.  For most other religions, however they may have differed among themselves, have agreed in fearing beauty, and even in Greece there were stern sanctuaries and ascetic academes where the white bosom of Phryne would have pleaded in vain.  Christianity has not been beauty’s only enemy, by any means; though, when the Book of Martyrs of Beauty comes to be written, it will, doubtless, be the Christian persecutions of beauty that will bulk largest in the record—­for the Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty have been warring creeds from the beginning.

At the present moment, there is reason to fear, or to rejoice—­according to one’s individual leanings—­that the Religion of Beauty is gaining upon its ancient rival; for perhaps never since the Renaissance has there been such a widespread impulse to assert Beauty and Joy as the ideals of human life.  As evidence one has but to turn one’s eyes on the youth of both sexes, as they rainbow the city thoroughfares with their laughing, heartless faces, evident children of beauty and joy, “pagan” to the core of them, however ostensibly Christian their homes and their country.  In our time, at all events, Beauty has never walked the streets with so frank a radiance, so confident an air of security, and in her eyes and in her carriage, as in her subtly shaped and subtly scented garments, so conspicuous

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