Books and Culture eBook

Hamilton Wright Mabie
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 123 pages of information about Books and Culture.

There is nothing which needs such constant reinforcement as this faculty of seeing things in their totality; for we are largely at the mercy of the hour unless we invoke the aid of the imagination to set the appearances of the moment in their large relations.  To the man who sees things as they rush like a stream before him, there is no order, progression, or intelligent movement in human affairs; but to the student who brings to the study of current events wide and deep knowledge of the great historic movements, these apparently unrelated phenomena disclose the most intimate inter-relations and connections.  The most despairing pessimism would be born in the heart of the man who should be fated to see to-day apart from yesterday and to-morrow; a rational and inspiring hope may be born in the soul of the man who sees the day as part of the year and the year as part of the century.  The great writers are a refuge from the point of view of the moment, because they set the events of life in a fundamental order, and make us aware of the finer potentialities of our race.  They are Idealists in the breadth of their vision and the nobility of the interpretation of events which they offer us.

Chapter XXIII.

The Vision of Perfection.

These writers are also, by virtue of the faculty of discerning the interior relations of appearances and events, the expositors of that ultimate Idealism which not only discovers the possibility of the whole in the parts, of the perfect in the imperfect, but which discovers the whole, the complete and the perfect, and brings each before us in some noble form.  The reality of the Ideal as Plato saw it is by no means universally accepted as a philosophical conclusion, but all high-minded men and women accept it as a rule of life.  Idealism is wrought into the very fibre of the race, and is as indestructible as the imagination in which it has its roots.  Deep in the heart of humanity lies the unshakable faith in its essential divinity, and in the reality of its highest hopes of development and attainment.  The failure of noble schemes, the decline of enthusiasms, the fading of visions and dreams which seemed to have the luminous constancy of fixed stars, breed temporary depressions and passing moods of scepticism and despair; but the spiritual vitality of the race always reasserts itself, and faith returns after every disaster or disillusion.

Indeed, as the race grows older and masters more and more a knowledge of its conditions, the impression of the essential greatness of the experience we call life deepens in the finer spirits.  It becomes clear that the end towards which the hopes of the world have always moved is farther off than it seemed to the earlier generations; that the process of spiritual and social evolution is longer and more painful; that the universe is vaster and more wonderful than the vision of it which formed in the imagination of thinkers

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