Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/67

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

disordered apparition that reels itself off amid sporadic movements, efforts, and agonies. Now gorgeous, now exciting, now indifferent, the landscape brightens and fades with the day. If a dog, while sniffing about contentedly, sees afar off his master arriving after long absence, the change in the animal’s feeling is not merely in the quantity of pure pleasure; a new circle of sensations appears, with a new principle governing interest and desire; instead of waywardness subjection, instead of freedom love. But the poor brute asks for no reason why his master went, why he has come again, why he should be loved, or why presently while lying at his feet you forget him and begin to grunt and dream of the chase—all that is an utter mystery, utterly unconsidered. Such experience has variety, scenery, and a certain vital rhythm; its story might be told in dithyrambic verse. It moves wholly by inspiration; every event is providential, every act unpremeditated. Absolute freedom and absolute helplessness have met together: you depend wholly on divine favour, yet that unfathomable agency is not distinguishable from your own life. This is the condition to which some forms of piety invite men to return; and it lies in truth not far beneath the level of ordinary human consciousness.

The story which such animal experience contains, however, needs only to be better articulated in order to disclose its underlying machinery. The figures even