Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/35

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Presiden tia I A d dress, 2 3

that is strong enough to bear up the theory I present to you : that the human race passed through a period of infancy, when its imaginative faculties were dormant; that in the childhood of the race those faculties had a surprising development, and man imagined grander generalisations than any that have ever since been supposed by him ; and that as the race grows to manhood, its imagination becomes weaker, for it is more controlled by reason. We have here a complete analogy between the history of the race at large and that of every individual. After the infancy of unconsciousness is over, every man enters upon a childhood full of brignl fancies.

He beholds the light and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy ;

The youth, who daily further from the East

Must travel, still is Nature's priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended ;

At length the man perceives it die away,

And fade into the light of common day.

23. You will observe that I have not mentioned the scientific imagination, and may think that I have used it too freely to do so with discretion. Nor have I made any but a passing allusion to belief in a Creator, and that for three reasons — first, there are no trustworthy means of fixing a time for its origin ; second^ it is rather an act of reason than of imagination, for the existence of the Deity is part of what used, when I was young, to be called Natural Theo- logy, and as an excellent writer to whom I have already twice referred most admirably puts it, a man who himself makes things may well reason that such things as he could not make must also have had a maker ; third, and this springs from the second, our ideas of the Supreme Being are necessarily and essentially anthropomorphic, lacking the saving grace of imagination. Even Christian art can find no better image of the Creator than the seated figure of an old man. In this we are no better than our fathers ; and a