Wednesday, June 04, 2008

G K Chesterton on Us Westerners

A wonderful rumination.

EVERY man of us to-day is three men. There is in every modern European three powers so distinct as to be almost personal -- the trinity of our earthly destiny.

The three may be rudely summarized thus: First and nearest to us is the Christian, the man of the historic Church, of the creed that must have coloured our minds incurably whether we regard it as the crown and combination of the other two, or whether we regard it as an accidental superstition which has remained for two thousand years.

First, then, comes the Christian; behind him comes the Roman -- the citizen of that great cosmopolitan realm of reason and order, in the level and equality of which Christianity arose. He is the Stoic who is so much sterner than the Ancorites. He is the Republican who is so much prouder than kings. It is he that makes straight roads and clear laws, and for whom good sense is good enough.

And the third man: he has no name, and all true tales of him are blotted out; yet he walks behind us in every forest path and wakes within us when the wind wakes at night. He is the origins -- he is the man in the forest.

Some who visit here would only be two of those (and perhaps only one...). Perhaps that marks the retrogression, then.

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