The stars were paling over Etna, white and ghostly, as I came out to depart. In the dark street I met a woman with a young boy clinging to her side. Her black hair fell down over her shoulders, and her bosom was scantily clothed by the poor garment that fell to her ankles and her feet. She was still young, and from her dark, sad face her eyes met mine with that fixed look of the hopeless poor, now grown familiar; the child, half naked, gazed up at me as he held his mother’s hand. What brought her there at that hour, alone with her child? She seemed the epitome of the human life I was leaving behind, come forth to bid farewell; and she passed on under the shadows of the dawn. The last star faded as I went down the hollow between the spurs. Etna gleamed white and vast over the shoulder of the ravine, and, as I dipped down, was gone.
There was an old cry, Return to Nature! Let us rather return unto the soul. Nature is great, and her science marvellous; but it is man who knows it. In what he knows it is partial and subsidiary. Know thyself, was the first command of reason; and wisdom was an ancient thing when the sweet influences of the Pleiades and the path of Arcturus with his sons were young in human thought. These late conquests of the mind in the material infinities of the universe, its exploring of stellar space, its exhuming of secular time, its harnessing of invisible forces, this new mortal knowledge, its sudden burst, its brilliancy and amplitude of achievement, thought winnowing the world as with a fan; the vivid spectacle of vast and beneficent changes wrought by this means in human welfare, the sense of the increase of man’s power springing from unsuspected and illimitable resources,—all this has made us forgetful of truth that is the oldest heirloom of the race. In the balances of thought the soul of man outweighs the mass that gravitation measures. Man only is of prime interest to men; and man as a spirit, a creature but made in the likeness of something divine. The lapse of aeons touches