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Page:Chesterton - Alarms and Discursions (Methuen, 1910).djvu/199

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profane poems out of them; men try to crush them like an ugly lust. Religion is only the responsible reinforcement of common courage and common sense. Religion only sets up the normal mood of health against the hundred moods of disease.

But there is this about such ghastly empty enigmas, that they always have an answer to the obvious answer, the reply offered by daily reason. Suppose a man's children have gone swimming; suppose he is suddenly throttled by the senseless--fear that they are drowned. The obvious answer is, "Only one man in a thousand has his children drowned." But a deeper voice (deeper, being as deep as hell) answers, "And why should not you--be the thousandth man?" What is true of tragic doubt is true also of trivial doubt. The voter's guardian devil said to him, "If you don't vote to-day you can do fifteen things which will quite certainly do some good somewhere, please a friend, please a child, please a maddened publisher. And what good do you expect to do by voting? You don't think your man will get in by one vote, do you?" To this he knew the answer of common sense, "But if everybody said that, nobody would get in at all." And then there came that deeper voice from Hades, "But you are not settling what everybody shall do, but what one person on one occasion shall do. If this afternoon you went your