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THE NEW AGE

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Previous Page  ...T. E. Brown, ascribes to it the rise of the spirit of nationality, and speaks of a suspicion, which is gradually becoming a belief on his part, that the intense national feeling of the Welsh and their determination to keep their own language are matters of the nineteenth century romance movement. In the eighteenth century, he believes, the Welsh desired nothing more than to be thoroughly English (1).

The Catholic Reaction, then, is an integral part, or an aspect, of the great Romantic Revival. Both rest in the last resort on the sense of mystery surrounding human life; both are irreconcilably opposed to the spirit which regards the universe as explainable, or which would dismiss as outside our sphere that in it which cannot be explained. On the contrary, it is just the inexplicable which is important: nothing worth proving can be proved.

But philosophy also has to be listened to; for philosophy is not only itself a part of literature, but, like religion, it wields power far beyond the limits of its own domain. Besides, philosophy deals, more directly than anything else, with ideas; and in it the thought which in poetry or painting may only be seen as through a glass darkly, frequently comes into full view. Now, philosophy bears the same witness as religious thought to the two-fold current running through the whole intellectual and moral life of the nineteenth century. On the one hand, we find in it the various forms of rationalism, carrying on the characteristic and dominant thought of the eighteenth century. We find in particular the powerful school of the Utilitarians, disciples of Jeremy Bentham, but all owning the paternity of Hume, and essentially English in spirit as in origin. With them must be classed many of the physicists, especially those of the earlier part of the century. Cognate to them in some respects, though deeply coloured by the mind of France, are the Positivists, whose singular religion is, not perhaps a very profound, but certainly a very interesting manifestation of the human spirit. Kinship may be claimed for them also with the scientific evolutionists, Herbert Spencer, Darwin, and their followers; for the theory of Darwin ...Next Page

1 Letters, Aug. 18, 1886.




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