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Page 39

PART I - THE PRESENT
CHAPTER IX - ROGER FRY: AN OBITUARY NOTE

ROGER FRY'S death is a definite loss to civilization. He was a great critic and a fine lecturer, and according to some a good painter ; he was in touch with the best continental opinion, particularly French opinion ; he was charming, polite, courageous and gay in his private life ; he was generous and energetic ; he was always helping people, especially the young and the obscure. On all these counts he will be missed, but the definite loss lies elsewhere. What characterized him and made him so precious irn twentieth-century England was that, although he was a modern, he believed in reason.
Belief in reason was common enough among the educated a couple of hundred years back, but it is rare to-day, because our knowledge has become greater and our problems more complicated. We can no longer divide mankind into philosophers, priests and dupes, as Gibbon or Voltaire could. Even when we style ourselves philosophers, we know that we are sometimes duped, and not always by the priests. We know that each of us carries about a mass of inherited instincts which enters into our judgments and complicates our actions. How is it possible for so mixed a being as man to be reasonable ? One might as well expect brass to behave as if it were unalloyed copper. Is notbelief in reason based upon a misconception of human nature which we should correct ? Since the war; an increasing number of people have come to feel this, and are taking refuge instead in authority or in intuition. Authority attracts our dictators and our serfs, because it seems to promise a stable society. Intuition attracts those who wish to be spiritual without any bother, because it promises a heaven where the intuitions of others can be ignored.
Now Roger Fry rejected authority, mistrusted intuition. That is why his loss is so irreparable. There is no one now living-no one, that is to say, of his calibre-who stands exactly

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