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

Now one begins to see why Beauty is necessarily the bugbear, more or less, of all religions, or, as I prefer to regard them, “organized moralities”; for Beauty is neither moral nor immoral, being as she is a purely spiritual force, with no relations to man’s little schemes of being good and making money and being knighted and so forth.  For those who have eyes to see, she is the supreme spiritual vision vouchsafed to us upon the earth—­and, as that, she is necessarily the supreme danger to that materialistic use and wont by which alone a materialistic society remains possible.  For this reason our young men and maidens—­particularly our young men—­must be guarded against her, for her beauty sets us adream, prevents our doing our day’s work, makes us forget the soulless occupations in which we wither away our lives.  The man who loves beauty will never be mayor of his city, or even sit on the Board of Aldermen.  Nor is he likely to own a railroad, or be a captain of industry.  Nor will he marry, for her money, a woman he does not love.  The face of beauty makes all such achievements seem small and absurd.  Such so-called successes seem to him the dreariest forms of failure.  In short, Beauty has made him divinely discontented with the limited human world about him, divinely incapable of taking it seriously, or heeding its standards or conditions.  No wonder society should look upon Beauty as dangerous, for she is constantly upsetting its equilibrium and playing havoc with its smooth schemes and smug conventions.  She outrages the “proprieties” with “the innocence of nature,” and disintegrates “select” and “exclusive” circles with the wand of Romance.  For earthly possessions or rewards she has no heed.  For her they are meaningless things, mere idle dust and withered leaves.  Her only real estate is in the moon, and the one article of her simple creed—­“Love is enough.”

       Love is enough:  though the world be a-waning
       And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
       Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
       The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
       Though the hills beheld shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
       And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
       Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
       The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
       These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.

Those who have looked into her eyes see limitless horizons undreamed of by those who know her not, horizons summoning the soul to radiant adventures beyond the bounds of Space and Time.  The world is so far right in regarding beauty with a sort of superstitious dread, as a presence almost uncanny among our mere mortal concerns, a daemonic thing,—­which is what the world has meant when it has, not unnaturally, confused it with the spirits of evil; for surely it is a supernatural stranger in our midst, a fairy element,

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