And, that I may not be misunderstood, I would say that the doctrine of Duty agrees perfectly with every form of religion—a man may be Roman Catholic, Church of England, Presbyterian, Agnostic, or what he will; and, if a form aids him in the least to be sincerely honest, it would be a pity for him to be without it. Truly there are degrees in forms, and where I live in Italy I am sorry to see so many abuses or errors in them. But to know and do what is right, when understood, is recognising God as nearly as man can know him, and to do this perfectly we require Will. It is the true Logos.
ATTENTION AND INTEREST.
“To the fairies, Determination
and Good-Will, all things are
possible.”—The Man of the Family, by C. REID.
It happened recently to me, as I write, to see one afternoon lying on the side walk in the Via Calzaioli in Florence what I thought was a common iron screw, about three inches in length, which looked as if it had been dropped by some workman. And recalling the superstition that it is lucky to find such an object, or a nail, I picked it up, when to my astonishment I found that it was a silver pencil case, but made to exactly resemble a screw. Hundreds of people had, perhaps, seen it, thought they knew all about it, or what it was, and then passed it by, little suspecting its real value.
There is an exact spiritual parallel for this incident or parable of the screw-pencil in innumerable ideas, at which well-nigh everybody in the hurrying stream of life has glanced, yet no one has ever examined, until someone with a poetic spirit of curiosity, or inspired by quaint superstition, pauses, picks one up, looks into it, and finds that It has ingenious use, and is far more than it appeared to be. Thus, if I declare that by special attention to a subject, earnestly turning it over and thinking deeply into it, very remarkable results may be produced, as regards result in knowledge, every human being will assent to it as the veriest truism ever uttered; in the fullest belief that he or she assuredly knows all that.
Yet it was not until within a very few years that I discovered that this idea, which seemed so commonplace, had within it mysteries and meanings which were stupendously original or remarkable. I found that there was a certain intensity or power of attention, far surpassing ordinary observation, which we may, if we will, summon up and force on ourselves, just as we can by special effort see or hear far better at times than usually. The Romans show by such a phrase as animum adjicere, and numerous proverbs and synonyms, that they had learned to bend their attention energetically. They were good listeners, therefore keen observers.