whilst Sophia accompanies them on the piano):
The light of the sun is flooding
The breadths of space;
The song of the birds is filling
The heights of air;
The tender plants are shooting
From the kind earth;
And human souls in reverent gratitude,
Rise to the spirits of the world.
Now, children, go to your rooms and think over the words we have
(Sophia leads the children out.)
How do you do, Sophy? I hope I'm not intruding?
Oh no, Estelle. I am very glad to see you.
(Asks Estella to be seated and seats herself.)
Have you good news from your husband?
Very good. He writes to me saying that he is interested in the
Congress of Psychologists; though the manner in which they treat
many great questions there does not appeal to him. However, as
a student of souls, he is interested in just those methods of
spiritual shortsightedness which makes it impossible for men to
obtain a clear view of essential mysteries.
Does he not intend speaking on an important subject, himself?
Yes, on a subject that seems important both to him and to me.
But the scientific views of those present at the Congress prevent
his expecting any results from his arguments.
I really came in, dear Sophy, to ask whether you would come with
me this evening to a new play called Outcasts from Body and from
Soul. I should so like to hear it with you.
I'm sorry, my dear Estelle, but to-night is the date set
for the performance of the play, which our society has been rehearsing
for a long time.
Oh yes, I had forgotten. But it would have been such a pleasure
to have spent this evening with my old friend. I had set my heart
on having you beside me, and gazing with you into the hidden depths
of our present-day life. ... I only hope that this world of
ideas, in which you move, and which is so strange to me, will
not finally destroy that bond of sympathy, which has united our
hearts since we were at school together.
You have often said
that before; and yet you have always had to admit that our divergent
opinions need not erect barriers between those feelings which
have existed between us in our companionship from our youth upwards.
True, I have said so. Yet it always arouses a sense of bitterness
in me, when, as the years roll on, I see how your affections are
estranged from those things in life that seem to me worth while.
Still, we may be of much mutual help to one another if we
recognize and realize the various points of view which we reach
through our different inclinations.
Yes! My reason tells me that you are right. And yet there is
something in me that rebels against your view of life.
Why not candidly admit that what you require of me is the renunciation
of my inmost soul-life?
But for one thing, I should admit even that. And that is, that
you always claim that your view is the more profound. I can readily
understand that people whose conceptions differ radically may
still meet in sympathy of feeling. But the nature of your ideas
actually forces upon you an inner assumption of a certain superiority.
Others can compare views and realize that they do indeed diverge
towards different standpoints, but they nevertheless stand related
by an equality of values. You, however, seem unable to do this.
You regard all other views as proceeding from a lower degree of
But you realize, I hope, from our previous discussions, that those
who think as I do, do not finally measure the character of man
by his opinions or by his knowledge. And while we consider our
ideas such, that without vital realization of them life has no valid
foundations, we nevertheless try most earnestly not to over-estimate
the value of the individual, who has been permitted to become
an instrument for the manifestation of this view of life.
All that sounds very well, but it does not remove my one suspicion.
I cannot close my eyes to the fact, that a world-view which ascribes
to itself illimitable depth must needs lead through the mere appearance
of such depth to a certain superficiality. I rate our friendship
too high to point out to you those among your companions who,
whilst they swear allegiance to your ideas, yet display spiritual
arrogance of the most unmitigated sort, despite the fact that
the barrenness and banality of their soul speaks in their every
word and in all their conduct. Nor do I wish to call your attention
to the callousness and lack of sympathy shown by so many of your
adherents towards their fellow men. The greatness of your own
soul has never permitted you to stand aloof from that which daily
life requires at the hands of the man whom we call good. And yet
the fact that you leave me alone on this occasion, when true and
artistic life comes to be voiced, shows me that your ideas too
with reference to this life are to a certain extent superficial
— if you will forgive my saying so.
And wherein lies this superficiality?
You ought to know. You have known me long enough to understand
how I have wrenched myself away from that manner of life, which,
day in and day out, only struggles to follow tradition and convention.
I have sought to
understand why so many people suffer, as it seems, undeservedly.
I have tried to approach the heights and depths of life. I have
consulted the sciences, so far as I could, to learn what
But let me hold
fast to the one point which this moment presents to us. I am aware
of the nature of true art; I believe I understand how it seizes
upon the essentials of life and presents to our souls the true
and higher reality. I seem to feel the beating of the pulse of
time, when I permit such art to influence me, and I am horrified
when I have to think what it is that you, Sophy, prefer to this
interest in living art. You turn to what seem to me the obsolete,
dogmatically allegorical themes, to gaze on a show of puppets,
instead of on living beings, and to wonder at symbolical happenings
which stand far away from all that appeals to our pity and to
our active sympathies in daily life.
My dear Estelle, that is exactly the fact that you will not grasp
— that the richest life is to be found just there where you only
see a fantastic web of thoughts: and that there may be, and are, people
who are compelled to call your living reality mere poverty — if
it be not measured by the spiritual source from whence it comes.
Possibly my words sound harsh to you. But our friendship demands
absolute frankness. Spirit itself is as unknown to you as it is
to the multitude. In its place you know only the bearer of knowledge.
It is only the thought side of spirit of which you are aware.
You have no conception of the living, the creative spirit, which
endows men with elemental power, even as the germinal power of
nature shapes living entities. Like many another, for instance,
you call things in art which deny the spirit, as I conceive it,
naive and original. Our conception of the world unites a full
and conscious freedom with the power of spontaneous creation.
We consciously absorb this power, and do not thereby rob. it of
its' freshness, its fullness, and its originality. You believe
that the character of man shapes itself, and that we can merely
form thoughts and considerations about it. You will not
see that thought itself actually merges into-creative spirit;
reaching the very fountain of Being; and developing thence into
an actual creative germ.
Our ideas do not
teach, any more than the seed-power within a plant
teaches it how to grow. It is the actual growth itself, and
in like manner do our ideas flow into our very being, kindling and
dispensing life. To the ideas that have come to me, I am indebted for
all that makes life worth while; not only for the courage, but also
for the insight and power that make me hopeful of so training
my children, that they shall not only be capable and useful in
ordinary everyday life, in the old traditional sense, but that
they shall at the same time carry inward peace and contentment
within their souls. I have no wish to stray from the point, but
I will say just one thing. I believe — nay I know — that
the dreams which you share with so many can only be realized when
men succeed in uniting what they call the realities of life with
those deeper experiences, which you have so often termed dreams
and fantasies. You may be astonished if I confess it to you:
but much that seems true art to you is to me a mere fruitless
critique of life. No hunger is stilled, no tears are dried, no
source of degeneracy is discovered, when merely the outer show
of hunger, or tear-stained faces, or degenerates are shown upon
the stage. And the customary method of that presentation
is unspeakably distant from the true depths of life, and the true
relation-ship between beings.
I understand your words indeed, but they merely show me that you
do prefer to indulge in fancies, rather than to look upon the
realities of life. Our ways, indeed, part. — I see that my
friend is denied me to-night. (Rises.) I must leave you
now. But we remain friends, as of old, do we not?
We must indeed remain friends. (While these last words are
spoken, Sophia conducts her friend to the door.)