“Just when we are safest,” cries Browning, meaning just when unbelief has successfully thrown off the last clinging trammels of the spiritual interpretation of life, and eliminated to its own satisfaction every trace of a divine purpose for the universe, and secured its position by a confident, impregnable dialectic—
Just when we are safest, there’s a sunset-touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one’s death,
A chorus-ending from Euripedes,—
And that’s enough for fifty hopes and fears
As old and new at once as Nature’s self,
To rap and knock and enter in our soul.
UNBELIEF IS AS much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn’t require much of anything at all.
You still shall tramp and tread on endless round
of thought, to justify your action to yourselves,
weaving a fiction which unravels as you weave,
pacing forever in the hell of make-believe
which never is belief.
And the longer and more beautifully the Lion sang the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he could have heard anything else even if he wanted to.