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   Chapter 4 No.4

On the Art of Writing / Lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge 1913-1914 By Arthur Quiller-Couch Characters: 2199

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


But how shall Man ever attain to understand and find his proper place in this Universe, this great sweeping harmonious circle of which nevertheless he feels himself to be the diminutive focus? His senses are absurdly imperfect. His ear cannot catch any music the spheres make; and moreover there are probably neither spheres nor music. His eye is so dull an instrument that (as Blanco White's famous sonnet reminds us) he can neither see this world in the dark, nor glimpse any of the scores of others until it falls dark:

If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

Yet the Universal Harmony is meaningless and nothing to man save in so far as he apprehends it: and lacking him (so far as he knows) it utterly lacks the compliment of an audience. Is all the great orchestra designed for nothing but to please its Conductor? Yes, if you choose: but no, as I think. And here my other quotation:

That all spirit is mutually attractive, as all matter is mutually attractive, is an ultimate fact…. Spirit to spirit- as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.

Yes and,

all spirit being mutually attractive, far more than this! I preach to you that, through help of eyes that are dim, of ears that are dull, by instinct of something yet undefined-call it soul-it wants no less a name-Man has a native impulse and attraction and yearning to merge himself in that harmony and be one with it: a spirit of adoption (as St Paul says) whereby we cry Abba, Father!

And because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of

His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.

That is to say, we know we have something within us correspondent to the harmony, and (I make bold to say) unless we have deadened it with low desires, worthy to join in it. Even in his common daily life Man is for ever seeking after harmony, in avoidance of chaos: he cultivates habits by the clock, he forms committees, governments, hierarchies, laws, constitutions, by which (as he hopes) a system of society will work in tune. But these are childish imitations, underplay on the great motive:

The Kingdom of God is within you.

Quid aliud est anima quam Deus in corpore humano hospitans?

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