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Love of God i" No, no more than the setting out of your best cheer for your chosen guests, or the tying of a nosegay for your beloved. No! If the room is to be swept, I would rather you or I should sweep it not for anyone else's love, but for the love of the room and of sweeping things clean. Since, as my Satan knows, much to his sorrow, that also is love and is denied to him. Then, says my friend, what you want instead of Idealism, is that people should think as clearly as they can, suspect their own emotional delusions as much as is humanly possible, in fact, be honest and wise and sympathizing from a sense of service?Perhaps that may be at the bottom of my meaning. And yet, no! Service, when it does not suggest servility, has a smack of self-righteousness, of religious offices; and that I am not sure whether I really like; it is, as the French say, se gober, gulping one's self down in a ridiculous fashion. On the whole, I should like people, beginning with a regenerate self, to be discriminating, sceptical, imaginative, generous, sympathetic, scrupulous; making allowances for the future and the unknown; feeling the needs of others as a consequence of feeling one's own; and to be this, or to try to do it, out of decency, behaviour to themselves mirrored in behaviour to others. Decency, like the decency which causes you to clean your person and properties, and desist from soiling, more latino, the public street and field paths; decency, lack of which makes you horribly uncomfortable when it is in yourself, and disgusted and contemptuous when it is in others. To be decent. The expression has become English slang; it has long been in common use (anstdndig) among the people at present called Huns. Decent; I like that better even than decorous, which suppresses the notion of what is due to oneself and substitutes something cognate to decoration or adornment. And, as I said, the mischief of Idealism is largely that it is too decorative. Noble, as the Muse remarked, but, like Adventure, a trifle overdressed. . . . April, 1911~March, 1919.
LOVE OF ADVENTURE"Satan is always bored." I Quite at the beginning of the war, Mr. Lloyd George held out, among other inducements for enlisting, the wonderful oasis of adventure which the war would constitute in the drab and monotonous lives of our working classes. Such as survived would cherish the priceless memories of those fervid weeks and months. How many of his listeners (he spoke in early autumn, 1914) have survived to justify his words, it is perhaps best not to inquire; neither how much of that feeling of oasis remained after the adventure had lasted four years and a ?[uarter. Mr. Lloyd George would probably be justified in so ar as such of those survivors as survive sufficiently to become red-coated and doddering old Kaspers (as in the Battle of Blenheim), will derive some senile satisfaction, if not from their recollections of this war, at all events from their narratives of it; thus predisposing some future audiences of recruiting speeches to put some colour and liveliness into their drab, dull, lives by similar war-like interludes. The veteran, like the stay-at-home, is invaluable in keeping up the reputation of war as a Splendid Adventure. An Adventure which, thanks to that established reputation, the drab-lived yokels and factory hands did quite undoubtedly snatch at when the Kaiser, and sundry others, among whom Mr. Lloyd George himself, offered them a chance. An Adventure, moreover, which other youths, of more variegated life, had undoubtedly hankered after (especially in France) for some years past; and one which, when they were killed off in time, like Charles Peguy and Rupert Brooke, was probably rapturous enough. As regards the surviving yokels and factory hands, they are, the war being over, suggesting to Mr. Lloyd George that he should see to their lives being the least little bit less drab and monotonous; and not by the repetition of such oases or interludes of war Adventure, whereof they are so incredibly unappreciative as to say, in their speech, that they are fed up; and refuse to take a fresh helping.
Let us return to those who, being neither yokels, nor miners, nor factory hands, indeed men of fairly variegated lives, yet snatched with equal avidity at that unique Adventure. There can be Adventure in the world of the spirit; you can make perilous explorations in your own soul, risking death and wounds to know how yourself will feel in hairbreadth, rapturous or ghastly situations. It was, I take it, that kind of inner Adventure, places and things only its external mechanism, which the younger generation talked (and was talked to by adventurous dons) about, under the name of Experience of Life. Not experience rushed through in desperate Faust-like quest after a consummate moment, to which one cries: "Stay! thou art fair." Experience of Life rather to be compared with an endlessly turned over picture-book, displaying on every page one's own soul in some different attitude or emotion. This simile is mine; and prejudges the case in an unfriendly spirit. Let me, therefore, exchange it for a better one; better because arising in the mind of a young man at the very moment of thanking the Gods that since War must needs be, he should have been in time to take part in it. It occurs in a letter, written in 1914, by Frederick Keeling, a social investigator and reformer, whom the war duly killed off. He regrets, he says, that (thanks to the progress of civilization) his little son will not be given a chance of such " a bite into the apple of life." Perhaps some of poor Keeling's surviving comrades may now agree with me, that life is not an apple for even the most privileged to bite into. Even, I am inclined to think, that thus to bite into it is a worse offence than that of our earliest parents, hungering as they did for the solid sustenance afforded by the Tree of Knowledge; an offence, indeed, not against the Powers above, but the Powers on all sides encompassing Mankind, and one whose wages may well be, spiritual, and not merely, as with poor Keeling, bodily death. This question of biting into the apple of life is, therefore, not without moral importance; indeed, connected, as you shall see, not only with the Ballet of the Nations, but with Satan the Waster. So, the better to make myself understood, let me premise that this desire for a bite into one's unknown self (since that is what experience means in this case) is not to be confused with that mere crisis of dissatisfaction which comes, but also comes speedily to an end, in the existences of so many young people of parts. That, I mean that passing thirst for change as such, may possibly be due to some temporary physiological impoverishment after the completion of growth; more certainly, as many of us can testify, to the uneasy emergence of the individual man or woman out of the warm nest of habits and beliefs furnished by the home and the school, furnished by inheritance and tradition, by everything which young people are given and accept, almost without inventory; emergence therefrom meaning the discovery of oneself on a rather bleak and solitary branch, and not much blossom or fruit within reach. Such hunger for change accompanying the nonfulfilment of youth's conventional ideals and its egoistic, childish, takings-for-granted, I want to recognize as a frequent and natural phase of growth. Recognize also that from it may sometimes arise the hankering after those Bites into the Apple of Life. But it is not the same thing, such discontent being transient and oftenest ended by a fresh zest for interests and purposes, however humdrum. The attitude symbolized by Biting into the Apple of Life is not a passing one. What changes is mostly the Apple. For it is not one particular Apple you long for; in fact it is not any Apple at all, but your emotion of biting. What becomes of the bitten-into Apple is of no consequence; you may throw it away uneaten, or go on munching in hopes of some new sensation. Nine times out of ten you look round for another, a different Apple, or some other fruit, each Apple standing for a new phase of yourself. And the passing from Apple to Apple (please remark, without Faust's blase consistent search after the one and only Apple) is what was preached and practised before this war, under the rubric of taking life as an Adventure; and again, of cultivating curiosity as such. Curiosity as such, comparing it with the child's impulse to taste of and sniff at every bottle, especially every closed one, is doubtless useful in our earliest stages; although even with regard to the lowest organisms, biology seems to replace Herbert Spencer's notion of fumbling, by that of organized, hereditary attractions and repulsions, linking the individual to its surroundings and constituting the elements of all life's essential changes. Be this as it may, the mature human being ought to have no need for such crude curiosity, or rather neither time nor energy for it, because he should be dominated by curiosity which is not crude, by interests and problems and purposes differing from individual to individual according to his kind, a part of that great give-and-take between the ego and the surroundings. And here, we are back at Keeling's Apple of Life. I may be prejudiced, but I suspect that the person who has curiosity to spare for biting into the Apple of Life must, for one reason or another, be at a loss for problems, interests, jobs, and let me add the old-fashioned word, duties. Also, for what is as necessary in, and for, life: at a loss for tastes, preferences and those impulses to thought and action bringing the human creature into contact with the Otherness, and, little as he may suspect it, freeing him from himself. It means being at a loose end. That such was the case, and with a resultant desire to Bite into the Apple of Life, among the generation which the war has decimated or perhaps cured, seems to me evident. Also, that this quest for intellectual and emotional Adventure (Adventure of which their own soul was the field) made many, just like Keeling, welcome the war, and welcoming, justify it. I do not pretend to know what led to the existence of this state of mind. I can only suspect some hidden connexion, some parallelism of causes, between it and that "drab monotony" making, as Mr. Lloyd George told us, that other class of men welcome the war, the men supplying our necessaries and conveniences, our food, warmth, light, clothes, and our leisure, while sharing in them so very unequally. Our younger intellectuals, even those working not at art or poetry, but at social questions, were apt, like Keeling himself, who was perpetually wondering how his work affected himself, to take even the Service of Man as a superior sort of game, and question whether some other might not be better worth the candle of their attention. Is it not probable, I cannot but ask myself, that these privileged youths, these of the variegated, as opposed to the