Page:Will to Believe and Other Essays (1897).djvu/54

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IS LIFE WORTH LIVING?[1]


WHEN Mr. Mallock’s book with this title appeared some fifteen years ago, the jocose answer that “it depends on the liver” had great currency in the newspapers. The answer which I propose to give to-night cannot be jocose. In the words of one of Shakespeare’s prologues,—

“I come no more to make you laugh; things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,”—


must be my theme. In the deepest heart of all of us there is a corner in which the ultimate mystery of things works sadly; and I know not what such an association as yours intends, nor what you ask of those whom you invite to address you, unless it be to lead you from the surface-glamour of existence, and for an hour at least to make you heedless to the buzzing and jigging and vibration of small interests and excitements that form the tissue of our ordinary consciousness. Without further explanation or apology, then, I ask you to join me in turning an attention, commonly too unwilling, to the profounder bass-note of life. Let us search the lonely depths for an hour together, and see what answers in the last folds and recesses of things our question may find.

  1. An Address to the Harvard Young Men’s Christian Association. Published in the International Journal of Ethics for October, 1895, and as a pocket volume by S. B. Weston, Philadelphia, 1896.