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PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER I - A NOTE ON THE WAY

AFTER letting myself go lately on the depressing subject of military tattoos and tainted investments, I thought, as I often do, of a line of Matthew Arnold's :` Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my mind ?' It is a line that rather makes me smile. For one thing the difficulty of pronouncing ' skst ' is almost insuperable, for another Matthew Arnold's ` bad days ' are Halcyon when compared with our own. He belonged to an age which was concerned with problems of faith, doubt, and personal survival ; he was worried by these, but the collapse of all civilization, so realistic for us, sounded in his ears like a distant and harmonious cataract, plunging from Alpine snows into the eternal bosom of the Lake of Geneva. We are passing through a much rougher time, perhaps the roughest time that has ever been. And if we look back into the past for comfort, we see upon the faces of its great men a curious mixture of comprehension and of blankness. They seem at the same time to understand us and not to understand. If public violences increase and Geneva itself disappears-who is going to prop our minds ? They ? The great minds of the past ? They, who imagined, at the worst, a local or a philosophic catastrophe ?
Yes. They are going to do something. If we have read them, or have listened to good music, it is going to be some use. The individual who has been rendered sensitive by education will not be deserted by it in his hour of need. But the help won't be given as directly, as crudely, as Matthew Arnold thought. An educationist as well as a poet, he believed one could 'turn ' to writers-to Homer, Epictetus and Sophocles in his own caseand by quoting their beauties or remembering their thoughts could steel oneself against injustice or cruelty. I don't think they are going to bring their help that way. Their gifts are received less consciously and often provoke no thanks. But it is a great mistake to assume that nothing is going on, and a great

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