Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The School of Love & Other Essays, March 31


IT does not require much insight or philosophy to discover that in spite of much that appears on the surface, and in spite of endless warn­ings and gruesome pictures, human nature is not wholly evil. Nay more, we can without much fear go further and say that no human being was yet made who was wholly evil.

Shakespeare tried to create one; but he acknowledged in the end that the being he had created was not human. Dickens tried several times over; but he did so only by omit­ting the human element in every case; the more fiendish are his characters, the less are they drawn from life.

In some human beings, it is true, the good that is in them may be much covered over; in others it may have had little opportunity for development; in others, again, it may be of a nature so little akin to the good that is in ourselves that we almost call it something else; yet others may have so preponderating a balance of evil in their com­position that the good may be utterly eclipsed.

Nonetheless is it there somewhere.

Human nature being what it is, we cannot doubt that it is never wholly evil; that belongs to the devil only, and even of the devil there are points of view which leave us mystified. At all events I do not know a description of a devil in literature which does not leave one with some sense of sympathy.

Milton's devils are admirable; Dante's devils stir our pity; Goethe's devil makes us feel what a good thing has been wasted. Human nature seems incapable of imagining that which is wholly bad, just because it is not wholly bad itself...

[continued tomorrow]
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918

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