Page:Chesterton - The Defendant, 1904.djvu/47

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35
A DEFENCE OF PUBLICITY

tial quality of sentiment. Such phrases are all parts of one peddling and cowardly philosophy, and remind us of the days when ‘enthusiast’ was a term of reproach. But of all this vocabulary of unconscious eulogies nothing is more striking than the word ‘pompous.’

Properly speaking, of course, a public monument ought to be pompous. Pomp is its very object; it would be absurd to have columns and pyramids blushing in some coy nook like violets in the woods of spring. And public monuments have in this matter a great and much-needed lesson to teach. Valour and mercy and the great enthusiasms ought to be a great deal more public than they are at present. We are too fond nowadays of committing the sin of fear and calling it the virtue of reverence. We have forgotten the old and wholesome morality of the Book of Proverbs, ‘Wisdom crieth without; her voice is heard in the streets.’ In Athens and Florence her voice was heard in the streets. They had an outdoor life of war and argument, and they had what modern commercial civilization has never had—an outdoor art. Religious services, the most sacred of all things, have always been held publicly; it is entirely a new and debased notion that sanctity is the same as secrecy.