The Changing World
The Changing World
That the world, during the nineteenth and the early part of the
has been passing through the death
pangs of an old era and the birth pangs of a new, is evident to
all. The old principles of materialism and self-interest, the old
sectarian and patriotic prejudices and animosities, are perishing,
discredited, amidst the ruins they have wrought, and in all
lands we see signs of a new spirit of faith, of brotherhood, of
internationalism, that is bursting the old bonds and overrunning
the old boundaries. Revolutionary changes of unprecedented
magnitude have been occurring in every department of
human life. The old era is not yet dead. It is engaged in a life
and death struggle with the new. Evils there are in plenty,
gigantic and formidable, but they are being exposed, investigated,
challenged and attacked with new vigor and hope.
Clouds there are in plenty, vast and threatening, but the light
is breaking through, and is illumining the path of progress and
revealing the obstacles and pitfalls that obstruct the onward
In the eighteenth century it was different. Then the spiritual
and moral gloom that enshrouded the world was relieved by
hardly a ray of light. It was like the darkest hour before the
dawn, when the few lamps and candles that remain alight do
little more than make the darkness visible. Carlyle in his
Frederick the Great writes of the eighteenth century thus: --
A century which has no history and can have little or
none. A century so opulent in accumulated falsities ...
as never century before was! Which had no longer the
consciousness of being false, so false had it grown; and
was so steeped in falsity, and impregnated with it to the
very bone, that -- in fact the measure of the thing was full,
and a French Revolution had to end it. ... A very fit
termination, as I thankfully fell, for such a century. ...
For there was need once more of a Divine Revelation to
the torpid, frivolous children of men, if they were not to
sink altogether into the ape condition. -- Frederick the
Great, Book I, Chap. I.
Compared with the eighteenth century the present time is
as the dawn after darkness, or as the spring after winter. The
world is stirring with new life, thrilling with new ideals and
hopes. Things that but a few years ago seemed impossible
dreams are now accomplished facts. Others that seemed centuries
ahead of us have already become matters of "practical
politics." We fly in the air and make voyages under the sea.
We send messages around the world with the speed of lightning.
Within a few decades we have seen miracles too numerous
1. [Written shortly after the First World War.]