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who is suffering from mere romantic restlessness. According to religion man must seek the satisfaction that the finite fails to give by looking not without but within; and to look within he must in the literal sense of the word undergo conversion. A path will then be found to open up before him, a path of which he cannot see the end. He merely knows that to advance on this path is to increase in peace, poise, centrality; though beyond any calm he can attain is always a deeper centre of calm. The goal is at an infinite remove. This is the truth that St. Augustine puts theologically when he exclaims: "For thou hast made us for thyself and our heart is restless until it findeth peace in thee." One should insist that this question of the two infinites is not abstract and metaphysical but bears on what is most concrete and immediate in experience. If the inner and human infinite cannot be formulated intellectually, it can be known practically in its effect on life and conduct. Goethe says of Werther that he "treated his heart like a sick child; its every wish was granted it." "My restless heart asked me for something else," says Rousseau. "René," says Chateaubriand, "was enchanted, tormented and, as it were, possessed by the demon of his heart." Mr. Galsworthy speaks in a similar vein of "the aching for the wild, the passionate, the new, that never quite dies in a man's heart." But is there not deep down in the human breast another heart that is felt as a power of control over this romantic heart and can keep within due bounds "its aching for the wild, the passionate, the new." This is the heart, it would seem, to which a man must hearken if he
1 "Quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te."
is not for a "little honey of romance" to abandon his "ancient wisdom and austere control."
The romantic corruption of the infinite here joins with the romantic corruption of conscience, the transformation of conscience from an inner check into an expansive emotion that I have already traced in Shaftesbury and Rousseau. But one should add that in some of its aspects this corruption of the idea of the infinite antedates the whole modern movement. At least the beginnings of it can be found in ancient Greece, especially in that "delirious and diseased Greece" of which Joubert speaks - the Greece of the neo-Platonists. There is already in the neoPlatonic notion of the infinite a strong element of expansiveness. Aristotle and the older Greeks conceived of the infinite in this sense as bad. That something in human nature which is always reaching out for more - whether the more of sensation or of power or of knowledge-was, they held, to be strictly reined in and disciplined to the law of measure. All the furies lie in wait for the man who overextends himself. He is ripening for Nemesis. "Nothing too much." "Think as a mortal." "The half is better than the whole." In his attitude towards man's expansive self the Greek as a rule stands for mediation, and not like the more austere Christian, for renunciation. Yet Plato frequently and Aristotle at times mount from the humanistic to the religious level. One of the most impressive passages in philosophy is that in which Aristotle, perhaps the chief exponent of the law of measure, affirms that one who has really faced about and is moving towards the inner infinite needs no warning against excess: "We should not give heed," he says, "to those who bid one think as a mortal, but so far as we can we should make
ourselves immortal and do all with a view to a life in accord with the best Principle in us." (This Principle Aristotle goes on to say is a man's true self.)
The earlier Greek distinction between an outer and evil infinite of expansive desire and an inner infinite that is raised above the flux and yet rules it, is, in the Aristotelian phrase, its "unmoved mover," became blurred, as I have said, during the Alexandrian period. The Alexandrian influence entered to some extent into Christianity itself and filtered through various channels down to modern times. Some of the romanticists went directly to the neo-Platonists, especially Plotinus. Still more were affected by Jacob Boehme, who himself had no direct knowledge of the Alexandrian theosophy. This theosophy appears nevertheless in combination with other elements in his writings. He appealed to the new school by his insistence on the element of appetency or desire, by his universal symbolizing, above all by his tendency to make of the divine an affirmative instead of a restrictive force-a something that pushes forward instead of holding back. The expansive elements are moderated in Boehme himself and in disciples like Law by genuinely religious elements
e.g., humility and the idea of conversion. What happens when the expansiveness is divorced from these elements, one may see in another English follower of Boehme
William Blake. To be both beautiful and wise one needs, according to Blake, only to be exuberant. The influence of Boehme blends in Blake with the new æstheticism. Jesus himself, he says, so far from being restrained "was all virtue, and acted from impulse not from rules." This purely æsthetic and impulsive Jesus has been cruelly 1 Eth. Nic., 1177 b.
maligned, as we learn from the poem entitled the "Everlasting Gospel," by being represented as humble and chaste. Religion itself thus becomes in Blake the mere sport of a powerful and uncontrolled imagination, and this we are told is mysticism. I have already contrasted with this type of mysticism something that goes under the same name and is yet utterly different - the mysticism of ancient India. Instead of conceiving of the divine in terms of expansion the Oriental sage defines it experimentally as the "inner check." No more fundamental distinction perhaps can be made than that between those who associate the good with the yes-principle and those who associate it rather with the no-principle. But I need not repeat what I have said elsewhere on the romantic attempt to discredit the veto power. Let no one think that this contrast is merely metaphysical. The whole problem of evil is involved in it and all the innumerable practical consequences that follow from one's attitude towards this problem. The passage in which Faust defines the devil as the "spirit that always says no" would seem to derive directly or indirectly from Boehme. According to Boehme good can be known only through evil. God therefore divides his will into two, the "yes" and the no," and so founds an eternal contrast to himself in order to enter into a struggle with it, and finally to discipline and assimilate it. The object of all manifested nature is the transforming of the will which says "no" into the will which says yes." The opposition between good and evil tends to lose its reality when it thus becomes a sort of sham battle that God gets up with himself (without
1 Cf. the chapter on William Law and the Mystics in Cambridge History of English Literature, 1x, 341-67; also the bibliography of Boehme, ibid., 560-74.
contraries is no progression, says Blake), or when, to take the form that the doctrine assumes in "Faust," the devil appears as the necessary though unwilling instrument of man's betterment. The recoil from the doctrine of total depravity was perhaps inevitable. What is sinister is that advantage has been taken of this recoil to tamper with the problem of evil itself. Partial evil we are told is universal good; or else evil is only good in the making. For a Rousseau or a Shelley it is something mysteriously imposed from without on a spotless human nature; for a Wordsworth it is something one may escape by contemplating the speargrass on the wall. For a Novalis sin is a mere illusion of which a man should rid his mind if he aspires to become a "magic idealist." 2 In spite of his quaint Tory prejudices Dr. Johnson is one of the few persons in recent times that one may term wise without serious qualification because he never dodges or equivocates in dealing with the problem of evil; he never fades away from the fact of evil into some theosophic or sentimental dream.
The rise of a purely expansive view of life in the eighteenth century was marked by a great revival of enthusiasm. The chief grievance of the expansionist indeed against the no-principle is that it kills enthusiasm. But concentration no less than expansion may have its own type of enthusiasm. It is therefore imperative in an age that has repudiated the traditional sanctions and set out to walk by the inner light that all general terms and in particular the term enthusiasm should be protected by a powerful dialectic. Nothing is more perilous than an 1 See Excursion, 1, vv. 943 ff.
2 In his attitude towards sin Novalis continues Rousseau and anticipates the main positions of the Christian Scientist.