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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

BEQUEST

OF
ANITA D. S. BLAKE



v> , ^



W



THE GREAT WORD



THE

GREAT WORD

BY

HAMILTON WRIGHT
MABIE



Think, when our one soul understands

The great Word which makes all things new,

When earth breaks up and heaven expands,
How will the change strike me and you

In the house not made with hands ?

ROBERT BROWNING.




NEW YORK

DODD, MEAD & COMPANY
1905



Copyright, IQOI, 1904, 1905,
BY THE OUTLOOK Co.

Copyright, 1905,
BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY.



Published September, 1905



GIFT



THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.




HI4



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE MYSTERY PLAY .... 7

II. THE BIRTH OF LOVE .... 16

III. INFINITY, IMMORTALITY, AND LOVE 25

IV. THE VISION OF THE IMMORTAL . 33
V. THE GREAT ADVENTURE ... 41

VI. THE MYSTERY OF PERSONALITY . 50

VII. LOVE AND WORK 60

VIII. THE APPEAL OF LOVE .... 68

IX. THE SILENCES OF LOVE ... 76

X. DAY UNTO DAY UTTERETH SPEECH 88

XI. LOVE S SECOND SIGHT .... 97

XII. THE STEEP ASCENT . . . . 106

XIII. THE CREDIBILITY OF LOVE . . 116

XIV. THE ULTIMATE COMPANIONSHIP 127

XV. THE PROPHECY OF LOVE . . . 136



513



Contents

CHAPTER PAGE

XVI. THE INTIMATIONS OF LOVE . . 144

XVII. THE ART OF LOVE . . . . 153

XVIII. LOVE AND LAW ..... 164

XIX. THE INFINITE IN THE FINITE . 174

XX. THE EXPECTATION OF LOVE . 1 84

XXI. THE HIGHEST SERVICE OF LOVE 192



VI



CHAPTER I

THE MYSTERY PLAY

TN the beginning there was Light;
a torch held aloft that the form
and shape of things might be seen,
and their uses ; and in the first bright
ness, filling the void, the slow, sublime
stirring of the seeds of which worlds
were to be the fruit ; the silent order
ing of stars in their places, and the
unrolling of the curtain of night shut
ting out the splendour of the day and
making a quiet space of darkness for
the coming of the stars. So the stage
was set for the drama of life and for
the man and woman who were to play
it ; sometimes turning all its rich hu
mours into sparkling comedy ; some-
7



The Great Word

times rendering all its myriad shades
of feeling in a monotony of weariness
and disillusion ; sometimes driving
all its tremendous forces tumultu-
ously on to tragic ends. A little time
of learning the mysteries of the stage;
a little time of learning how to play
one s part; a little time of action,
great or small ; a little time for mem
ory ; and then other actors, a new
audience, and silence !

Meantime the stage remains vast
beyond the reach of thought, majes
tic or beautiful beyond the touch of
art; itself part of the drama which in
continuous acts is played by vanish
ing generations of actors to the slow,
sad rnusic of mortality. They come
and go, the men and women who
wear the masks of comedy or tragedy,
whose breath sounds the music or
discord of speech in manifold tones
8



The Mystery Play

and words; but the clouds that cur
tain the stage, and the hills that form
its background, and the glitter of stars
that light it keep their ancient form,
and their ancient silence remains in
violate.

Is it but a moving show of vanish
ing figures, this mystery play of life,
or has it some strange, sweet mean
ing, full of pathos and beauty, spoken
in a hundred languages from one deep
heart? Every actor has his own
speech, but there is something held
in common which interprets every
man s language to his fellow. There
are myriad differences of expression,
but there is one great experience
through which all are passing and
which each strives to understand and
to put into words. Every man plays
what pleases him, for they who think
their parts are set for them do not
9



The Great Word

see how voice, gesture, and bearing
conspire to commit them to the roles
they take. From out the vast range
of parts each man elects his part and
plays it well or ill as pleases him, and
always with the haunting conscious
ness that the play is at bottom an
eternal reality and that what he seems
to be he is; that the players speak
their lines and go off the stage and
are, for the most part, speedily for
gotten ; but that somehow, some
where on another stage, the play goes
on and each man takes the part which
he has chosen and becomes at last
that which he would be. The stage
is never without the witness of this
haunting consciousness of reality, this
sense of something permanent behind
the shifting scenes, this prevision of
hidden relation between the man and
the part he plays ; and of a deeper and

10



The Mystery Play

more mysterious drama, not under
stood, in which each has his place and
into which all parts are fitted at last.

There are hours when the play
seems very noble and majestic and the
lines have a stately cadence, full of in
timations of something divine slowly
and sublimely speaking through
words of human making; there are
other hours when the play sinks to
the level of low comedy and of coarse
farce; and there are still other times
when the stage echoes to "mere sound
and fury, signifying nothing; * and
yet in farce, comedy, and tragedy some
note is always sounded from beyond
the bounds of the action, and in the
most frivolous moment the piece sud
denly turns to tragedy.

There are countless books of the
play, each with its own account of the
plot and the parts, its description of



ii



The Great Word

the stage and the scenes, its story of
the making of the drama; and he who
reads finds some truth in each, some
insight into the meaning of the acts,
some hint concerning the shaping and
movements of the parts; but nowhere
is the mystery of the play dispelled,
nowhere is its ultimate issue revealed.

Clouds and darkness, the rush of
storms among the hills, the roar of
tossing seas, the tumult of conflicting
winds, envelop the stage or roll their
deep tones over it; and are them
selves part of the mystery. The cur
tain rises and falls continually ; there
are laughter, outcries, tears, passionate
tones wild with anguish, voices sweet
with all peace, thunders of applause ;
but the final scene is never disclosed,
the curtain is never rung up on the
last act.

The actors in this mystery play are

12



The Mystery Play

always two: the man and the woman.
Each plays many parts, there are
countless roles, and manifold plots
run side by side or merge in one dra
matic climax. There are moments
when these two vanish from the stage
or are lost in the masks they wear;
and the stage is given over to fighters,
leaders, thinkers, scholars, masters of
affairs, seekers after truth, fame, ad
venture, fortune ; but always at the
heart of the play and investing it with
a meaning deeper than all vocations
are the man and the woman, the only
original forces on the stage ; in whose
natures, not in whose vocations, are
the roots of the comedy and the trag
edy. They wear a thousand masks
and are disguised by fashions beyond
number ; but no thrill comes, there
is no stir of imagination, no hint of
the vaster drama, until the heart of



The Great Word

the man and the woman suddenly
charge with elemental power the vari
ous speech they use, and through all
disguises the original personality is
disclosed. A thousand times the play
runs out in minor parts and subordi
nate plots and takes on the monotony
of mere function and form and task ;
and then suddenly, behold, the man
and woman emerge again and the
lines flash with contending humours or
turn to poetry or sink to the deepest
levels of tragedy. Vocations, occu
pations, uses domestic and public of
all sorts, places, services, careers, are
the mere dressing of the parts ; when
the word is spoken which " leaps im
mortal from out the painted pag
eantry " it is the voice of the man
and woman which speaks. They hide
behind a thousand parts and are con
cerned in a thousand plots and wear
14



The Mystery Play

disguises as various as their tastes,
their interests, their ambitions ; but
the interest of the play rests ulti
mately and solely in them, not in
their roles; and their passions, qual
ities, and natures are the stuff of
which its immortal substance is wo
ven. The deeper their differences of
temperament, the more profound and
definite the difference of tempera
ment and trait between them, the
richer and fuller the play of the forces
that divide them the one from the
other, the more will they bring to
the mystery play, the deeper will be
its interest, the more expressive its
lines of the ultimate meanings of
life.



CHAPTER II

THE BIRTH OF LOVE

TN far-off space in a far-off age a
god, so the legend runs, was mak
ing a piece of earth for men to live
on. For uncounted centuries he had
dreamed of the hour when the divine
power that was in him should flow
out and fashion something as beau
tiful as his thoughts ; upon which
he could rest his eyes, which saw
only the emptiness of space ; a great
reality which should issue from him
and yet be no longer a part of him ;
something he could brood over and
build upon ; which should give him
the joy of contrast and opposition,
the interest of responsibility, the
16



The Birth of Love

delight of ownership. For this god
had lived for innumerable ages in
solitude, in the pure ether, disturbed
by no sound, approached by no swift
or halting feet, companioned by no
fellow, challenged by no foe. Re
mote, isolated, encompassed by un
speakable sublimity and loneliness,
in the heart of an uncreated uni
verse, he had meditated and dreamed
through seons of which no record
remained ; for there was none beside
himself to keep count of eternity;
and for him, because there was no
action, there was no memory.

No sun made his day glorious
and no splendour of stars lay across
the heavens at night like the trail
of a vanished day ; no earth swept
through space amid other worlds in
rhythmic harmony of motion ; no
voices of men rose in appeal and no
2 17



The Great Word

voices of women in praise and prayer ;
and the silence was unbroken by
any cry of children from bound to
bound. Through all the vast range
and stretch of space the stillness of
an unborn universe reigned, and the
solitude was as vast and awful as the
unsown fields of space which it en
compassed. The god was silent and
motionless in the heart of the still
ness ; for he was in a dream full of
divine visions of the things that
were to be. As yet he knew not
himself, nor had any true sense of
his power come to him. All things
were within his reach, but he had
never put forth his hand to take,
to build, or to destroy. He had
meditated and dreamed, but he had
never acted, and the joy and power
and fertility of divinity were not his ;
for he had yet to live.
18



The Birth of Love

And as he meditated and dreamed,
the solitude became more appalling
and the loneliness more unbearable,
until he could no longer bear the
burden of thought without action ;
the pain of repression, of power un
used, of a nature undeveloped, of
thought without speech, was too great
for his spirit, and through his divine
nature there ran the tremors, the fore
bodings, the premonitions of coming
birth ; for the god was emerging from
the shadows of dreams and stood on
the verge of life, and all its tremen
dous possibilities were stirring him.
And he said to himself, " I will ease
the pain of thought by action. I
will create a world. " And in a far-
off stretch of space he created a
world, and made it vast and majestic
as a temple; but there were no wor
shippers at the shrine, and still the
9



The Great Word

loneliness was unbroken. Then he
took the matter of which the world
was made, and sowed it deep with
the seeds of beauty, so that out of
its hidden recesses exquisite shapes
arose, and the air was sweet with the
glances and the breath of flowers ;
and the god gave a great sigh of
content.

But still silence reigned, and the
loneliness of the new earth smote the
god and made him aware afresh of
his solitude ; for there was no one to
understand his work, to use it or to
be grateful for it. Then, in feverish
haste, the god made men, saying to
himself: "They surely will compre
hend and companion me." And
over the face of the earth men ap
peared and built their homes and
plied their trades and multiplied ;
and some worshipped and some
20



The Birth of Love

cursed, but none understood ; and
the loneliness of the god was deeper
than before and the burden of it was
greater than he could bear. He had
put forth his power and created, and
the earth gave him back his thought
in a beautiful and convincing reality ;
and he had made man, and man saw
something of the wonder in which he
lived and built shrines to the invisible
maker of it ; but no one shared the
thoughts and burdens of the god, nor
did any voice speak his language.
The power in him had gone forth
and realised itself in creative activity,
but the heart in him remained silent
and was hid in mystery, so that he
understood not himself nor divined
where his divinity lay.

Then on a radiant morning so
the legend runs a goddess saw the
world, that it was fair and sweet in

21



The Great Word

the light ; and, being as yet unvexed
with emotion and untroubled with
the deep things of the divine life, she
passed through space, and set her
foot on the edges of the earth, and
ran swiftly through a great wood,
and came upon a wide meadow in
which flowers gleamed as the stars in
heaven, and the air was full of the
breath of budding things and of the
desire for life stirring in the roots of
the earth. And through the veins
of the goddess there ran a tremor as
if some divine event were at hand,
and her heart was swept like a sea
that is lifted in surges, and the soul
in her seemed to struggle for space
and light and air; for her whole
nature was swept toward blossoming
and fruitful ness.

And when she lifted her eyes in
that mysterious and wonderful mo-

22



The Birth of Love

ment of her birth into conscious
divinity, the eyes of the god were
looking into hers ; and they both
saw and understood and were as one
in the rapture and revelation of the
spring morning in the fertile earth.
For the heart of the god went out of
him into the keeping of the goddess,
and his sleeping spirit awoke in the
morning light of love, and he lived at
last after all those centuries of lone
liness. For not even the gods live
until they put forth their power, and
the divine in gods and men is realised
only when the heart pours forth its
sweetness, surrenders itself in order
to find itself; and the spirit comes to
self-knowledge and the fulness of
life only when it meets its fellow
and the two are made one in that
lavish giving of self which is self-
realisation, and in that fellowship
23



The Great Word

and comprehension which are perfect
self-expression. For life fulfils itself
in love, and in loving becomes divine
and immortal.



24






CHAPTER III

INFINITY, IMMORTALITY, AND
LOVE

AND then, so the legend runs, these
immortal lovers found not only
the secret of joy but of life. Through
uncounted ages they had thought
about life, probed it, searched it, pen
etrated it by a thousand paths ; now,
at last, they lived. The slumbering
divinity within them awoke ; they
were enveloped in a flood of light;
all manner of half-understood things
became clear; up from the depths of
being countless springs gushed forth
and fertilised them ; and with a pas
sion of energy, born of their swift
25



The Great Word

discernment of the unfulfilled power
hidden in their souls, they poured
out their creative power like a flood.
Through all the secret places of their
spirit swept the imperious impulse to
surrender, to give the divinest that
was in them. Their happiness radi
ated like the benignant glow of a flame
vast enough to warm the world. It
searched and lighted every hidden and
secret place ; it sank into the earth,
and sent a thrill through the roots of
things great and small concealed in the
darkness ; it filled the air as with a
finer ether, and the breath of it became
a caress that drew every delicate and
beautiful thing out of its hiding ; and
through the stars it shone with a soft
and kindling radiance as if the beauty
of the invisible heavens had passed
into the arching sky.

But it was not alone the silent fil -
26



Infinity, Immortality, and Love

tration of the divine nature that set
all the pulses of life and joy beating
in the new earth ; it was also the
shaping thought seeking in every
man the sources of life that it might
fill them, and the passionate love
eager to share with all the fulfilment
and function of the divine nature come
at last to a knowledge of itself and to
the possession of its own.

The lovers went about the earth,
and as they passed the world grew
beautiful about them, and that which
lay in their hearts formed a language
for itself in the colour of flowers and
the songs of birds, in voices soft with
all gentleness and rich with all the
deeper meanings of things, in fields
which overflowed with fertility and
flung waves of grain to the very edges
of the woods and far up the mountain
sides, in forests which spread their vast
27



The Great Word

foliage like a protecting shield over
brooks vocal with the peace of undis
covered springs and pure with the
innocence of virgin depths of shade.

As they passed, the lovers looked
at men and found them burdened with
care and bent under toil and encom
passed with strange fears ; and they
gave them strength for labour, and
security from anxiety, and peace amid
their struggles ; and men became as
happy children whom the gods shielded
from all harm and protected from all
danger ; but as yet they knew not they
were men, with the joys and the an
guish and the bliss of love.

And when the lovers saw how fair
the world was, and how abundant were
its harvests, and how sweet was the lot
of man without thought of the morrow
or the poignant bliss of the stirring of
the soul within them, they were con-
28



Infinity, Immortality, and Love

tent and rested from their labours ; and
the blossoming world was a bower of
delight to them. And the years passed
like a shadow over the face of the sun,
and men had no history ; for they were
children of the day and knew not the
vastness and mystery that enfolded
them. And still love grew deeper and
more tender between the immortals,
and they had no speech for it; and their
happiness, which stirred the earth with
flooding life, and poured light through
the wide arch of heaven, had no echo
in the souls of men. Then the long
ing for speech became a pain to the
lovers, and they knew that something
was held back which might be given;
that something of the divine power
within remained still to be put forth
in order that men might understand
and in understanding become akin with
themselves; for a zone of silence lay
29



The Great Word

between the immortals and the happy
children whom they had created.

So on a radiant morning they
touched the spirits of men with a
new power of comprehension, and
love entered into the hearts of all that
bore the human image ; and suddenly
the universe swept into view, and
men knew that they were the children
of the gods ; for within the mortal
mind, as in a richly carven lamp, the
light of the divine shone forth and
men looked into one another s faces
and understood whence they had
come and whither they were going,
and the awe and wonder of it fell on
their souls. The lovers knew also
that love alone had been lacking, and
that with the gift of love there had
come to men the knowledge of
infinity and immortality ; so that
they had power at last to enter into
30



Infinity, Immortality, and Love

fellowship with the immortal lovers
who had builded the earth and made
it a garden of delight to the eye.
For there is no word for infinity and
immortality in any language, divine
or human, save the word love ; for
nothing save love has compass
enough to hold and to express the
life of the gods. For its fulfilment
love needs the limitless range of
eternity and the boundless vastness
of infinity. Amid the things that
perish it knows itself imperishable,
and in a world of limitation it knows
that it is illimitable. As it pours
itself out in utter surrender it fills
the springs that it may have more to
bestow ; as it passes over the bounds
which confine and baffle it, the ardour
for a vaster range of life and speech
and action lifts it on stronger wings
for a farther flight. Alone in a
3 1



The Great Word

perishing earth it abides, untouched
by time and change and decay ; alone
in a life of limitation it knows that it
is free to compass all things, to sur
vive all mutation, and to escape death
by the power of its immortality.



CHAPTER IV

THE VISION OF THE IMMORTAL

r |~ 1 HE dramatists and novelists have
often vividly conceived of love
as a sudden and overpowering pas
sion, a kind of divine possession of
the senses and the emotions, an in
stantaneous blooming of all the finer
hidden resources of the nature. The
earth is cold and bare ; not a green
thing shows itself anywhere ; sud
denly, without a note of warning,
the sun rests on the soil, and, behold !
out of the depths there blooms a
flower of ravishing beauty. In Dush-
yanta, in Romeo, in Richard Feverel,
who may stand for the countless
multitude of lovers since time began,
3 33



The Great Word

this miracle is wrought with such
swiftness that in an instant all the
vagrant impulses flow tumultuously
to one end, all the forces of passion,
emotion, will, move harmoniously to
one goal, the whole nature, with its
secret wealth of resources, emerges
into the light, and becomes luminous
with aspiration, devotion, adoration.
There is, in all the range of vital
expression, nothing more appealing
and divinely suggestive of the ulti
mate capacities of the soul for com
panionship and comprehension than
these sudden unclosings of the eyes
to the vision of the loveliness of the
soul, these sudden surrenders to the
revelation of the immortal affinities
of spirit with spirit.

Like the Days in Emerson s poem,
we are all masked in this strange
journey of life; our immortality is
34



The Vision of the Immortal

hidden by all manner of garments of
mortality, and we move along the
highway like perishing apparitions.
The stars from their serene heights
seem to look down pitifully on our
weary marches, although we name
and measure and weigh them ; the
earth, which is to call us to itself in
the end, seems to smile on our few
and broken years, although we master
its forces and comprehend its uses
and make scales strong enough to
weigh its mountains and delicate
enough to weigh its dust. And we
forget, in the haste of our journey
and the ever-thinning ranks of those
with whom we move, that we are of
royal birth, and that our immortality
is only partially hidden by the occu
pations and possessions with which
we concern ourselves.

Then, suddenly, the man looks up
35



The Great Word

as he moves in the ranks, and his
eye rests on the woman, and, like
a flash of light on a flower, he sees
the loveliness of her spirit behind
the mask she wears, and knows that
he is in the presence of immortality.
Jt is this sudden recognition of spirit
by spirit which makes the eternal
romance of life; the disclosure that
the king is hidden behind the work
man s garb, and the queen within the
peasant s dress; that the familiar land
scape is a bit of fairyland, and the
commonest things have a touch of
magic on them. Dushyanta is hunt
ing in the woods in which all the
Rajahs have hunted before him, so
that if there were a race memory
every tree would be familiar to him
and every passage through the forest
an ancient pathway ; and he looks
up and there stands Sakuntala, and,
36



The Vision of the Immortal

behold, the old world of routine and
work and care has vanished, and a
new heaven and earth have descended
wherein dwelleth beauty alone ; for
the immortal has suddenly shone
upon him from out the obscurity
of the mortal. Romeo wanders care
less and empty-hearted among mask
ers, and suddenly, like a star rising
splendid above the horizon, Juliet is
beside him and his life is at the flood,
let the tide carry him whither it may.
On the sweet summer day Richard
Feverel floats down the quiet English
river full to its soft and fragrant
edges, wondering in his heart of
youth what all this tender beauty
means, and there, on the bank,
stands Lucy, "at the founts of the


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