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simple and lovely masses of its color, than on gorgeousness of clasp or embroidery. Whether we can ever return to any of those more perfect types of form is questionable; but there can be no question, that all the money we spend on the forms of dress at present worn, is, so far as any good purpose is concerned, wholly lost. Mind, in saying this, I reckon among good purposes the purpose which young ladies are said sometimes to entertain—of being married; but they would be married quite as soon (and probably to wiser and better husbands) by dressing quietly as by dressing brilliantly; and I believe it would only be needed to lay fairly and largely before them the real good which might be effected by the sums they spendin toilettes, to make them trust at once only to their bright eyes and braided hair for all the mischief they have a mind to I wish we could, for once, get the statistics of a London season. There was much complaining talk in Parliament of the vast sum the nation has given for the best Paul Veronese in Venice—£14,000: Iwonder what the nation meanwhile has given for its ball-dresses! Suppose we could see the London milliners' bills, simply for unnecessary breadths of slip and flounces, from April to July; I wonder whether £14,000 would cover them. But the breadths of slip and flounces are by this time as much lost and vanished as last year's snow; only they have done less good: but the Paul Veronese will last for centuries, if we take care of it; and yet we grumble at the price given for the painting, while no one grumbles at the price of pride. Time does not permit me to go into any farther illustration f the various modes in which we build our statue out of snow, and waste our labor on things that vanish.
Things which are a mere luxury to one person are a means of intellectual occupation to another. Flowers in a London ball-room are a luxury; in a botanical garden, a delight of the intellect; and in their native fields, both; while the most noble works of art are continually made material of vulgar luxury or of criminal pride; but, when rightly used, property of this class is the only kind which deserves the name of real property; it is the only kind which a man can truly be said to “possess.” What a man eats, or drinks, or wears, so long as it is only what is needful for life, can no more be thought of as his possession than the air he breathes. The air is as need. ful to him as the food; but we do not talk of a man’s wealth of air, and what food or clothing a man possesses more than he himself requires, must be for others to use (and, to him, therefore, not a real property in itself, but only a means of obtaining some real property in exchange for it). Whereas the things that give intellectual or emotional enjoyment may be accumulated and do not perish in using; but continually supply new pleasures and new powers of giving pleasures to others. And these, therefore, are the only things which can rightly be thought of as giving “wealth” or “well being.” Food conduces only to “being,” but these to “well being.” And there is not any broader general distinction between lower and higher orders of men than rests on their possession of this real property. The human race may be properly divided by zoologists into “men who have gardens, libraries, or works of art; and who have none;” and the former class will include all noble persons, except only a few who make the world their garden or museum; while the people who have not, or, which is the same thing, do not care for gardens or . libraries, but care for nothing but money or luxuries, will include none but ignoble persons: only it is necessary to understand that I mean by the term “garden” as much the Carthusian's plot of ground fifteen feet square between his monastery buttresses, as I do the grounds of Chatsworth of
Kew; and I mean by the term “art” as much the old sailor's print of the Arethusa bearing up to engage the Belle Poule, as I do Raphael’s “Disputa,” and even rather more; for wher. abundant, beautiful possessions of this kind are almost always associated with vulgar luxury, and become then anything but indicative of noble character in their possessors. The ideal of human life is a union of Spartan simplicity of manners with Athenian sensibility and imagination, but in actual results, we are continually mistaking ignorance for simplicity, and sensuality for refinement.
In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes. All the other passions do occasional good, but wherever pride puts in its word, everything goes wrong, and what it might be desirable to do quietly and innocently, it is morally dangerous to do proudly.
To be content in utter darkness and ignorance is indeed unmanly, and therefore we think that to love light and seek knowledge must always be right. Yet wherever pride has any share in the work, even knowledge and light may be ill pursued. Knowledge is good, and light is good, yet man perished in seeking knowledge, and moths perished in seeking light; and if we, who are crushed before the moth, will not accept such mystery as is needful for us, we shall perish in like manner. But, accepted in humbleness, it instantly becomes an element of pleasure; and I think that every rightly con. stituted mind ought to rejoice, not so much in knowing anything clearly, as in feeling that there is infinitely more which it cannot know. None but proud or weak men would mourn over this, for we may always know more if we choose, by working on; but the pleasure is, I think, to humble people, in knowing that the journey is endless, the treasure inexhaust, ble,--watching the cloud still march before them with its summitless pillar, and being sure that, to the end of time and to the length of eternity, the mysteries of its infinity will still open farther and farther, their dimness being the sign and necessary adjunct of their inexhaustibleness. I know ther are an evil mystery and a deathful dimness,—the mystery of the great Babylon—the dimness of the sealed eye and soul: but do not let us confuse these with the glorious mystery of the things which the angels “desire to look into,” or with the dimness which, even before the clear eye and open soul, still rests on sealed pages of the eternal volume.
The ardor and abstraction of the spiritual life are to be honored in themselves, though the one may be misguided and the other deceived; and the deserts of Osma, Assisi, and Monte Viso are still to be thanked for the zeal they gave, or guarded, whether we find it in St. Francis and St. Dominic, or in those whom God's hand hid from them in the clefts of the rocks.
We refine and explain ourselves into dim and distant suspi. cion of an inactive God, inhabiting inconceivable places, and fading into the multitudinous formalisms of the laws of Nature.
All errors of this kind—and in the present day we are in constant and grievous danger of falling into them—arise from the originally mistaken idea that man can, “by searching, find out God—find out the Almighty to perfection;” that is to say, by help of courses of reasoning and accumulations of science, apprehend the nature of the Deity in a more exalted and more accurate manner than in a state of comparative ignorance; whereas it is clearly necessary, from the beginning to the end of time, that God's way of revealing Himself to His creatures should be a simple way, which all those creatures may under. stand. Whether taught or untaught, whether of mean capa city cr enlarged, it is necessary that communion with their Creator should be possible to all; and the admission to such communion must be rested, not on their having a knowledge of astronomy, but on their having a human soul. In order to render this communion possible, the Deity has stooped from His throne, and has not only, in the person of the Son, taken upon Him the veil of our human flesh, but, in the person of the Father, taken upon Him the veil of our Human thoughts, and permitted us, by His own spoken authority, to conceive Him simply and clearly as a loving Father and Friend;—a being to be walked with and reasoned with; to be moved by our entreaties, angered by our rebellion, alienated by our coldness, pleased by our love, and glorified by our labor; and, finally, to be beheld in immediate and active presence in all the powers and changes of creation. This conception of God, which is the child's, is evidently the only one which can be universal, and therefore the only one which for us can be true. The moment that, in our pride of heart, we refuse to accept the condescension of the Almighty, and desire Him, instead of . stooping to hold our hands, to rise up before us into His glory, —we hoping that by standing on a grain of dust or two of human knowledge higher than our fellows, we may behold the Creator as He rises,—God takes us at our word; He rises, into His own invisible and inconceivable majesty; He goes forth upon the ways which are not our ways, and retires into the thoughts which are not our thoughts; and we are left lone. And presently we say in our vain hearts, “There is no #Od.”