Page:Evolution and Ethics.djvu/46

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37
THE BATTLE WITH COSMIC NATURE

be able to do something towards curbing the instincts of savagery in civilized men.

But if we may permit ourselves a larger hope of abatement of the essential evil of the world than was possible to those who, in the infancy of exact knowledge, faced the problem of existence more than a score of centuries ago, I deem it an essential condition of the realization of that hope that we should cast aside the notion that the escape from pain and sorrow is the proper object of life.

We have long since emerged from the heroic childhood of our race, when good and evil could be met with the same 'frolic welcome'; the attempts to escape from evil, whether Indian or Greek, have ended in flight from the battle-field; it remains to us to throw aside the youthful overconfidence and the no less youthful discouragement of nonage. We are grown men, and must play the man


strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,


cherishing the good that falls in our way and bearing the evil, in and around us, with stout hearts set on diminishing it. So far, we all may strive in one faith towards one hope:


It may be that the gulfs will wash us down,
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

. . . . but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be done. (21)