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THE MODERN AGE

There, then, they are, these three great ages; and we turn the page for the last time to come to our own day. And what do we find here?

No one could deny the intellectual activity of the present age.

The discoveries, the achievements, of modern science will compare with that of any epoch. It is too familiar a fact to need any comment at all.

And men woke up to the fact that we could not live without morality. The Borgias, the Louis, the Stuarts were obviously insufficient; man was not to end there, and so we get a great moral awakening and, in spite of all the strictures that can be passed upon the morality of our day, there is a zeal about it, a sympathy about it, that would strive to help humanity and an honest general endeavour to live an upright life that is very different from the cynical disavowal of moral obligation that marked the Renaissance in Italy.

But have we not made exactly the same mistake that was made by our predecessors, and, in moving on to the one before, have we not

also left out the one behind ? Cromwell got rid of the profligacy of the court of Charles, but he also got rid of the finest art collection in the world.

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What about our Art? Can we approach the modern city and say that it looks like a jewel in the surrounding landscape, or must we rather say that it is like some festering sore, spreading its smoke and chemical fumes and destroying the vegetation for miles around? Picture the approach through miles of hideous money-sucking advertisements. Look at the ugly factories, the ungainly warehouses, the mean streets and the drab costumes, and, above all, the squalid and appalling horror of the slums.

No, there is no general, all pervading love of beauty; we have to confess that we have

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substituted the love of material and the love of sensational amusement for the love of beauty, and the result is that our age is marked by a sordidness, a hideousness, a squalour, a sensationalism, a materialism and a grossness, not only unsurpassed, but entirely without parallel in the history of the world.

And do we think that for us, and for us alone, the laws of the universe are to be altered and that we can trifle with impunity with the great fundamental facts of our being? Can we not see that no other age can exist upon twothirds alone of that tripartite nature that makes man, without immeasurable loss to its whole being. Is not our intellectuality base and tending to be touched by utilitarian ends? Are not our morals and religion lacking in “sweetness and light,” as Matthew Arnold has demonstrated?

If we loved the beautiful it would save us from this materialism, this grossness, this sensationalism. These things could not be; these cities could not exist. We could not endure to behold them, quite apart from any moral question.

We say that it is economic conditions that cause these things and we deceive ourselves. There is far greater wealth per head than

there has ever been amongst mankind before. The economic trouble is simply because we do not care to spend our enormous wealth, that surpasses the old days' wildest dreams, upon making things beautiful. The lack of the love of the beautiful is the source of the economic trouble; otherwise its hideousness would be a stinging pain to us, driving us to frenzied exertion. Quite apart from whether we had any interest in these sunken people, our feeling for beauty could not allow these things to last.

Go to old Japan, beautiful old Japan, before the poison of modern industrialism had entered in. The economic wealth was as nothing to that of the nations of the West; but there was

none of that sordidness, that squalour, that brooding horror of the Western city. And there you might see whole populations trooping out in the Springtime, not to a football match, not to a Coney Island, nor to make money, but to enjoy the beauty of the fruit blossoms of the early year.

We may think that we shall set the world right on two-thirds of a man; but we never shall. We go to these unfortunate dwellers in the slums and we take them our science, our economic science, our sanitary science,

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