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be much worse without a religion, and without this religion. Every religion proposes an ideal and a model; the Christian ideal is sublime, and its model of a divine beauty. We may hold aloof from the churches, and yet bow ourselves before Jesus. We may be suspicious of the clergy, and refuse to have anything to do with catechisms, and yet love the Holy and the Just, who came to save and not to curse. Jesus will always supply us with the best criticism of Christianity, and when Christianity has passed away the religion of Jesus will in all probability survive. After Jesus as God we shall come back to faith in the God of Jesus.
Five o'clock P.M. - I have been for a long walk through Cézargues, Eseri, and the Yves woods, returning by the Pont du Loup. The weather was cold and gray. A great popular merrymaking of some sort, with its multitude of blouses, and its drums and fifes, has been going on riotously for an hour under my window. The crowd has sung a number of songs, drinking songs, ballads, romances, but all more or less heavy and ugly. The muse has never touched our country people, and the Swiss
race is not graceful even in its gaiety. A bear in high spirits — this is what one thinks of. The poetry it produces too is desperately vulgar and commonplace. Why? In the first place, because, in spite of the pretences of our democratic philosophies, the classes whose backs are bent with manual labour are æsthetically inferior to the others. In the next place, because our old rustic peasant poetry is dead, and the peasant, when he tries to share the music or the poetry of the cultivated classes, only succeeds in caricaturing it, and not in copying it. Democracy, by laying it down that there is but one class for all men, has in fact done a wrong to everything that is not first-rate. As we can no longer without offence judge men according to a certain recognised order, we can only compare them to the best that exists, and then they naturally seem to us more mediocre, more ugly, more deformed than before. If the passion for equality potentially raises the average, it really degrades nineteen-twentieths of individuals below their former place. There is a progress in the domain of law and a falling back in the domain of art. And meanwhile the artists see multiplying before them their bête-noire, the
bourgeois, the Philistine, the presumptuous ignoramus, the quack who plays at science, and the feather-brain who thinks himself the equal of the intelligent.
• Commonness will prevail,' as De Candolle said in speaking of the graminaceous plants. The era of equality means the triumph of mediocrity. It is disappointing, but inevitable ; for it is one of time's revenges. Humanity, after having organised itself on the basis of the dissimilarity of individuals, is now organising itself on the basis of their similarity, and the one exclusive principle is about as true as the other. Art no doubt will lose, but justice will gain. Is not universal levelling-down the law of nature, and when all has been levelled will not all have been destroyed ? So that the world is striving with all its force for the destruction of what it has itself brought forth! Life is the blind pursuit of its own negation; as has been said of the wicked, nature also works for her own disappointment, she labours at what she hates, she weaves her own shroud, and piles up the stones of her own tomb. God may well forgive us, for • we know not what we do.'
Just as the sum of force is always identical in the material universe, and presents
a spectacle not of diminution nor of augmentation but simply of constant metamorphosis, so it is not impossible that the sum of good is in reality always the same, and that therefore all progress on one side is compensated inversely on another side. If this were so we ought never to say that period or a people is absolutely and as a whole superior to another time or another people, but only that there is superiority in certain points. The great difference between man and man would, on these principles, consist in the art of transforming vitality into spirituality, and latent power into useful energy. The same difference would hold good between nation and nation, so that the object of the simultaneous or successive competition of mankind in history would be the extraction of the maximum of humanity from a given amount of animality. Education, morals, and politics would be only variations of the same art, the art of living – that is to say, of disengaging the pure form and subtlest essence of our individual being.
26th April 1868 (Sunday, Mid-day). - A gloomy morning. On all sides a depressing outlook, and within, disgust with self.
Ten P.M. - Visits and a walk. I have spent the evening alone. Many things to-day have taught me lessons of wisdom. I have seen the hawthorns covering themselves with blossom, and the whole valley springing up afresh under the breath of the spring. I have been the spectator of faults of conduct on the part of old men who will not grow old, and whose heart is in rebellion against the natural law. I have watched the working of marriage in its frivolous and commonplace forms, and listened to trivial preaching. I have been a witness of griefs without hope, of loneliness that claimed one's pity. I have listened to pleasantries on the subject of madness, and to the merry songs of the birds. And everything has had the same message for me: •Place yourself once more in harmony with the universal law; accept the will of God; make a religious use of life ; work while it is yet day ; be at once serious and cheerful; know how to repeat with the Apostle, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.",
26th August 1868. — After all the storms of feeling within and the organic disturbances without, which during these latter