Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/210

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
198
OPEN SECRET SOCIETIES

that many simple people confuse the parody with the original, the artificial with the natural. I shall have to speak of the respective parodies in speaking of a few of the originals; for one must come to the concrete in order to be plain and intelligible. In the concrete, however, I care only to describe somewhat in detail a few of the best and most generally distinguished. It is bad work dwelling on the bad; and it would be endless work trying to mention all the orders, genera, species, sub-species, and so on, through an infinitude of divisions and subdivisions.


II.

There is the Open Secret Society of the Heroes. Their mystery has been published in books, in songs, in world-famous deeds of life and death, to all men of all nations and languages; yet only the heroic brotherhood really comprehend it, and are fully possessed by its inspiration. Other men may have transient glimpses of its meaning, and may thrill with its divine enthusiasm in rare moments; but soon the great door shuts, and they are cowering again in the darkness and the cold; nor can they even truly remember these rare moments in other hours and days, though they remember well enough the words of the chant or the details of the action with which the inspiration happened to be connected. But one of the brotherhood understands and feels always. The mystery which he understands so thoroughly and feels so triumphantly is simply this: That in the whole range of the universe, from highest heaven to deepest hell, there is no thing or circumstance, creature or being, dreadful to a man; that out of himself there is nothing which a man need fear; that no nature can be born into a realm unconquerable by that nature; and, moreover, that the