grow into a fire which shall warm and
light the whole world?"

"There is something more at stake than
the mere happiness or unhappiness of my
children," answered Vere, "at all events
than such happiness as they might get
from belief in an after life. There is
the happiness, the safety of their con-

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"Do you think you can save their conscience by sacrificing your own?"

may, is nowadays only momentary, does
not outlive our first grief at death, for we
moderns have not a very vital belief in a
future state. Well, we ought also to think
of what was the state of things when such
a belief thoroughly existed, when what
you call the phantasmagoria of love was
a reality; bring up to your memory the
way in which the mystics of the Middle
Ages, and, indeed, the mystics of all
times, have spoken of life as a journey
during which the soul must neither plow "I should not be sacrificing my con-
nor sow, but walk on, its eyes fixed science were I doing that which I felt
upon heaven, despising the earth which bound to do, Baldwin. Would you have
it left barren and bitter as when it came. me teach my children that this world,
"Servate tanquam peregrinum et hospi- which they regard as the kingdom of a
tem super terram, ad quem nihil spectat just and loving God, whose supremest
de mundi negotiis," that is what the "Im- desire is the innocence and happiness of
itation" bids us do. Ask yourself which his creatures, is in reality the battle-field
is the more conducive to men making or the playground of physical forces, with-
the world endurable to others and them out thought or conscience; nay, much
selves, to men weighing their wishes and worse, is the creation either of a principle
thoughts, and bridling their desires, and of good perpetually allying itself to a
putting out all their strength for good, principle of evil, or of a dreadful unity
the notion that there is a place beyond which permits and furthers good and evil
the grave where all is perfect, where all alike? What would you think of me were
sloth and unkindness, and repeated folly I to tell my children that all that they
and selfishness may be expiated and re- had learned of God and Christ is false-
trieved; or the notion that whatever hood; and that the true gods of the world
excellence there can be, man must make are the serenely heartless, the foully
with his own hands, that whatever good bloodthirsty gods of early Greece, of
may be done, whatever may be felt, re- Phoenicia, and Asia Minor? You would
paired, atoned for, must be done, felt, certainly think me a bad father. Yet this
repaired, and atoned for in this world. old mythology represents with marvellous
Even were I logically convinced of the accuracy the purely scientific view of the
existence of a future life, I should be world, the impression given by the mere
bound to admit the enervating effect contemplation of nature, with its conflict-
thereof on our sense of responsibility and ing and caballing divinities, good and bad,
power of action. I should regret the ter- black and white, resisting and assisting
rible moral tonic of the knowledge that one another, beneficent and wicked, pure
whatever of good I may do must be done and filthy by turns. The chaos, the con-
at once, whatever of evil I have done, be fusion, the utter irresponsibility, which
effaced at once also. But let this be, and struck the framers of old myths, is still
answer me, Vere, do you believe that a there. All these stories seem to us very
single individual has a right to hide from foolish and very horrible: an omniscient,
others that which he believes to be the omnipotent Zeus, threatened by a myste-
truth? Do you seriously consider that a rious, impersonal Fate, looming dimly be
man is doing right in destroying, for the hind him; a Helios who ripens the crops
sake of the supposed happiness of his and ripens the pestilence; a Cybele for-
children, the spark of truth which hap- ever begetting and suckling and mutilat
pens to be in his power, and which be- ing; we laugh at all this. But with what
longs neither to him nor to his children, do we replace it? And if we look at our
but to the whole world? Can you assertprosaic modern nature, as is shown us by
that it is honest on your part, in order to science, can we accuse the chaotic and
save your children the pain of knowing
that they will not meet you, or their moth-
er, or their dead friends again in heaven,
to refuse to give them that truth for which
your ancestors have paid with their blood
and their liberty, and which your children
are bound to hand on to their children,
order that this little spark of truth may

vicious fancy of those early explainers of
it? Do we not see in this nature bounty
and cruelty greater than that of any early
gods, combats more blind than any Titan's
battles, marriages of good and evil more
hideous than any incests of the old divin-
inities, monster births of excellence and
baseness more foul than any Centaur or

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Minotaur; and do we not see the great gods of the universe sitting and eating the flesh of men, not unconsciously, but consciously, serenely, and without rebuke?"

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Baldwin waited till Vere had come to an end.

"I can quite understand all that you feel, because I have felt it myself," he said, unshaken by his friend's vehemence. "I was telling you of the terrible depression which gradually came over me as I perceived what the world really was; and which for a couple of years at least, made me live in constant moral anguish, especially after the death of that friend of mine had, as I told you, brought home to me how the disbelief in a future life took away the last possibility of believing in a just and merciful Providence. I revolved

"That's a curious observation of yours,' put in Rheinhardt; "but it would appear as if there had been a difference between the two generations; that with the Semitic the feeling of right and wrong, of what ought or ought not to be in the abstract, entirely overshadows mere direct perception, scientific perception of nature, and considers all phenomena, not with respect to their necessity, but with reference to their ethical propriety; while, as you re-in my mind every possible scheme for mark, the Aryan race

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But Rheinhardt's generalizations were altogether wasted upon his two friends. "Such is nature," pursued Vere, with impetuosity; "and in it you scientific minds bid us to seek for moral peace and moral safety. How can we aspire, as to the ideal of moral goodness, to that which produces evil ineffable, inevitable evil? How measure our moral selves against this standard; how blush before this unblushing god? How dare we look for consolation where our moral sense, if enlightened, must force us to detest and to despise? Where, then, shall we seek the law, the rule by which to govern our lives? And the horror of horrors lies in this that we are forced to conceive as evil all that which is at variance with the decrees of nature, of this same nature which is forever committing evil greater than any of us could commit, herein, that we cannot rebel. As long as nature meant the Devil, it might be opposed; but we know that for us there can be no good save in obeying nature obeying that which is not good in itself; it has, as if with intentional malice, forced us to bend, to walk in its ways; if we refuse solidarity with it, we are sucked into a worse evil still. The sight of individual misfortune can never bring home this horrible anomaly as does a study of the way in which whole peoples have been sacrificed first to sin, then to expiation; of the manner in which every rebellion against this evilpolluted nature, every attempt of man to separate himself, to live by a rule of purity of his own, has been turned into a source of new abominations. Am I to show all this to my children, and say to them: Only nature is good; and nature is the evilest thing that we can conceive, since it forces to do evil and then punishes. Would a belief in Ashtaroth or Moloch not be as moral as this one?"

conciliating the evil inherent in the world with our desire for good. Christianity, Buddhism, Positivism, they all assumed to quiet our conscience with the same hollow lie; Positivism saying that the time would come when nature and good would be synonymous; Christianity reminding us that man may have but a moment wherein to become righteous, while God has all eternity; always the same answer, the evil permitted or planned in the past is to be compensated by the good in the future, agony suffered is to be repaid in happiness, either to the wornout, broken soul in another world, or to the old, worn-out humanity in this. Such answers made me but the more wretched by their obvious futility: How efface the indelible? can God himself undo the accomplished, cancel that which has been committed and suffered? Can the God of religion, with his after-death, Paradise joys, efface the reality of the agonies endured upon earth? Can the inconceivable of Positivism efface with the happiness of the men of the twentieth century the misery of the men of the nineteenth? Can good cause evil in the same individ ual, the warmth and honor of the old man cancel the starvation and cold and despair of the youth? Can evil suffered be blotted out, and evil committed be erased? Forgiven perhaps; but effaced, taken from out of the register of the things that have been, never. This plea of the future, whether in this world or another, what is it, but a half hour which the mercy of man gives to his God wherein to repent and amend and reprieve; a half hour of centuries indeed, but a half hour none the less in eternity, and to expiate the evil done in a lifetime of infinitude?"

"What is the use of going on like that?" said Rheinhardt; "why cannot you two be satisfied with the infinite wickedness of mankind, without adding thereunto the

wickedness of nature? As Wolfram von | to explain them, except with reference to Eschenbach remarked already six cen- human society, and that to ask for moral turies ago, 'Ihr nöthigt Gott nichts ab durch Zorn,' try and reform man, but leave God alone. But in truth all such talk is a mere kind of rhetorical exercise, brought into fashion by Schopenhauer, who would have been horrified at the waste of time and words for which he is responsible."

"We shall certainly not make nature repent and reform by falling foul of her," answered Vere; "but at all events, by protesting against evil, however inevitable, we shall prevent ourselves being degraded into passive acceptance of it."

aims and moral methods of mere physi cal forces, which had no moral qualities, and which were not subject to social relations, or to ask for them of any Will hidden behind those forces, and who was equally independent of those human and social necessities which alone accounted for a distinction between right and wrong, was simply to expect one set of phenomena from objects which could only present a wholly different set of phenomena: to expect sound to be recognized by the eye, and light and color to be perceived by the ear. In short, I understood that man was dissatisfied and angry with nature, only because he had accustomed himself to think of nature as only another man like himself, liable to human necessities, placed in human circumstances, and capa ble, therefore, of human virtues and vices, and that I had been in reality no wiser than the fool who flew into a rage with the echo, or the child who strikes the table against which it has hurt itself."

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nature had never heard of morality. It appears not to have struck you that this utterly neutral character of nature, this placid indifference to right and wrong, left man in a dreadful moral solitude; and might make him doubt whether, since morality did not exist for nature, it need exist at all; whether, among all these blind physical forces, he too might not be a mere blind physical force."

"I was going to say," went on Baldwin, "that I went through all these phases of moral wretchedness. And while they lasted, the temptation to have done with them, to free myself by a kind of intellectual suicide, was constantly pursuing me; it seemed as if every person I spoke with, every book that I opened, kept repeating to me, Disbelieve in your reason, and believe in your heart; that which may be impossible to your logic, may "I see," said Vere bitterly, your yet be possible to God's goodness.' It moral cravings were satisfied by discov seemed to me as if I would give every-ering that nature was not immoral, because thing to be permitted to lay down my evil convictions, to shut my intellectual eyes, to fall into spiritual sleep, to dream to be permitted to dream those beautiful dreams which consoled other men, and never again to wake up to the dreadful reality. But I saw that to do so would be mean and cowardly; I forced myself to keep awake in that spiritual cold, to see things plainly, and trudge quietly forward upon that bleak and hideous road. Instead of letting myself believe, I forced myself to doubt and examine all the more; I forced myself to study all the subjects which seemed as if they must make my certainty of evil only stronger and stronger. I instinctively hated science, because science had destroyed my belief in justice and mercy; I forced my self, for a while, to read only scientific books. Well, I was rewarded. Little by little it dawned upon me that all my misery had originated in a total misconception of the relative positions of nature and of man; I began to perceive that the distinction between right and wrong conduct had arisen in the course of the evolution of mankind, that right and wrong meant only that which was conducive or detrimental to the increasing happiness of humanity, that they were referable only to human beings in their various relations with one another; that it was impossible

"On the contrary," answered Baldwin, "when I came to understand why morality was not a necessity for nature, I also understood why morality was a necessity for man; the rule of the road, the rule that each coachman must take a particular side of the street with reference to other coachmen, could certainly not exist before the existence of streets and of carriages being driven along them; but without that rule of the road, gradually estab lished by the practice of drivers, one carriage would merely smash into another, and the thoroughfare be hopelessly blocked. Thus it has been with morality. Rules of the road are unnecessary where there are neither roads nor carriages; and morality would be unnecessary, indeed inconceivable, where there are no human interests in collision; morality, I now feel persuaded, is the exclusive and essential qualification of the movements of an assemblage of men, as distinguished

from an assemblage of stones, or plants, | son from our neighbors. I was very much struck to-day, while listening to Monsignore's sermon, with the thought that that man feels it his duty to teach others that which he believes to be the truth, and that we do not."

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or beasts, the qualification of man's relation, not with unsentient things, but with sentient creatures. Why go into details? You know that the school of philosophy to which I adhere has traced all distinctions of right and wrong to the percep- "It is a priest's profession to preach, tions, enforced upon man by mankind, my dear Baldwin," put in Rheinhardt; and upon mankind by man, of the differ-"he lives by it, lives off his own preachence between such courses as are conducive to the higher development and greater happiness of men, and such other courses as are conducive only to their degradation and extinction. Such a belief, so far from leaving me in moral solitude, and making me doubt of my own moral nature, brings home to me that I am but a drop in the great moral flood called progress; that my own morality is but a result of the morality of millions of other creatures who have preceded me and surround me now; that my morality is an essential contribution to the morality of millions of creatures who will come after me; that on all sides, the more society develops, there is a constantly increasing intricacy of moral connection between the present, the past, and the future. If I refuse to press on in the ranks of good, there will be so much the less havoc made in the ranks of evil; if I fall, those on either side of me will be less united and less vigorous to resist, those following after me will stumble; I must therefore keep in my place, be borne by the current mass of moral life, instead of being passed over and trampled by it."

ing and off the preaching of all the other priests that live now or ever have lived." "We unbelievers - I should rather say we believers in the believable". swered Baldwin, "should all of us be, in a fashion, priests. You say that Monsignore lives off his own preaching and the preaching of all Catholic priests that ever have been. Well; and do we not live spiritually, do we not feed our soul upon the truth which we ourselves can find, upon the truth which generations of men have accumulated for us? If, in the course of time, there be no more priests in the world, I mean in the old sense, it will be that every man will be a priest for his own family, and every man of genius a priest for the whole of mankind. What I was thinking of just now is this: that this Monsignore, whom we consider a sort of clever deluded fool, and this old peasant woman, whose thoughts scarcely go beyond her village, are impressed with the sense of the responsibility incurred by the possession of what they consider superior truth the responsibility of not keeping that truth to themselves, but participating it with others; and that herein Vere did not answer. He looked vague- they both of them assume a position far ly toward the window, at the ghostly bil-wiser, far more honest, far nobler, than do lows of the downs, dark blue, bleak, we unbelievers, who say, 'What does it unsubstantial, under the bright, cold, matter if others know only error, as long windy sky. The wind had risen, and as ourselves know truth?"" went moaning round the farm, piping shrilly in all its chinks and crannies, and making a noise as of distant waters in the firs of the common. Suddenly in the midst of the silence within doors, there came from the adjoining room a monotonous trickle or dribble of childish voice, going on breathless, then halting suddenly exhausted, but with uniform regularity.

"It is Willie reading the Bible to his grandmother," remarked Rheinhardt; "the old lady is left at home with him on Sunday evenings, while her husband goes to the village. It is a curious accompaniment to your and Baldwin's pessimistic groanings and utilitarian jubilations."

"You forget," answered Rheinhardt, "that both Monsignore and our landlady are probably persuaded that unless they share their spiritual knowledge with their neighbors, they will be responsible for the souls of those neighbors. And if you remember what may, in the opinion of the orthodox, happen to the souls of those persons who have been slightly neglected in their religious education, I think you will admit that there is plenty to feel responsible about."

"You mean that there is nothing for us to feel responsible about. Not so. Whatever may happen to the souls of our fellows will indeed not happen in an after"I think," remarked Baldwin, after a world, nor will they suffer in a physical moment's fruitless listening to catch the hell of Dante, or enjoy themselves in a words from next door, "I think in some physical Paradise of Mahomet. But there matters we unbelievers might take a les-is, nevertheless, for the souls which we

"That is the difference of our philosophies," he remarked, with satisfaction; "you tear to pieces the few roses that are given us, and we pick up their leaves, and get the pleasant scent of them even when withered."

"The definition is not bad," put in Baldwin, throwing a bundle of fagots on the fire, and making it crackle and flare up lustily, flooding the room with ruddy light.

Vere turned away his face from the glow, and looked once more, vaguely and wistfully, into the bleak blueness of common and downs lying chill and dim in the moonlight.

know, for the souls which look up to us for | about responsibilities. One doesn't see instruction and assistance, a hell. A hell the mischief one's fingers are up to." of moral doubt and despair and degrada And Rheinhardt, who was a tidy man, tion, a hell where there is fire enough to rose, and carefully swept the pink petals scorch the most callous, and ice enough and the yellow seeds off the table into his to numb the warmest, and mud to clog hand, and thence transferred them into a and bedraggle the most noble among us. little earthenware jar full of dry roseYes. There is a hell in the moral world, leaves, which he kept, in true eighteenthand there is heaven, and there is God; the century style, on his writing-table. heaven of satisfied conscience, the God of our own aspirations; and from this heaven, from the sight of this God, it is in our power to exclude those most beloved by us. Shut them out because we have not the courage to see them shiver and wince one moment in the cold and the light of truth; shut them out and leave them to wander in a world of phantoms, upon the volcano crust of that hell of moral disbelief, unaware of its existence, or, aware too late, too suddenly of the crater opening beneath their feet. That old woman in the next room is teaching, feels bound to teach, her child the things which she looks upon as truth. And shall a man like you, Vere, refuse to teach your chil dren what you know to be true? Will you leave them to believe that the world and man and God, the past and future and present, are wholly different from what they really are; or else to discover, unaided, with slow anguish or sudden despair, that all is different from what they thought, that there is falsehood where they relied on truth, and evil where they looked up to good; till falsehood and evil shall seem everywhere, and truth and good nowhere? You spoke of the moral happiness and safety of your children; will you let them consist in falsehood, and depend upon the duration of error? Will you your children run the risk of losing their old faith, without helping them to find a new one? Will you waste so much of their happiness for themselves, and of their usefulness for the world?"


Vere did not answer; he remained as if absorbed in thought, nervously tearing the petals off a rose which stood in the glass before him.

"Do please leave that flower alone, Vere," remonstrated Rheinhardt; "that is just the way that all you pessimists behave -pulling to pieces the few pleasant things which nature or man has succeeded in making, because the world is not as satis factory as it might be. Such a nice rose that was, the very apple of our landlady's eye, who picked it to afford you a pleasant surprise for supper, and you have merely made a mess of it on the table-cloth. That's what comes of thinking too much

"What you have been saying, Baldwin," he at last remarked, "may perhaps. be true. It may be that it would be wiser to teach my children the things which I believe to be true. But you see I love my children a great deal; and Well, I mean that I have not the heart to assume the responsibility of such a decision."

"You shirk your responsibilities," answered Baldwin, "and in doing so, you take upon yourself the heaviest responsibility of any."

From The Contemporary Review. AGNOSTIC MORALITY.


AGNOSTICISM, if we may trust some recent indications, is passing out of the jubilant stage and entering one of wellbefitting seriousness. There lies the experience of a generation between the delirious exultation of Harriet Martineau over her "Spring in the Desert," and the sober sadness of the writer in the last number of this review on "The Responsibilities of Unbelief." The creed that

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philosophy founded on science is the one thing needful," which the first considered to be "the crown of experience and the joy of life," has become to the second a burden and a sorrow-a "spring" indeed, but of waters of Mara. "I have been shorn of my belief," says one speaker in Vernon Lee's dialogue, "I am emanci


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