Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/428

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of a less wild strain of blood. There was a personality like unto himself in each beast, bird and fish that he knew; a genius loci in every waterfall and mountain glen. The forces of nature were personal elements in his philosophy. He lived, this man of the long-forgotten past, as all men live—getting his food, begetting his kind, loving, hating, fighting, rejoicing in the coming of the spring, pleased with his own person and its adornment, repeating the tales of his forefathers about the fire—then vanishing into the all-containing soil of the earth whence he came.

What man, once quickened by the spirit of the earth and touched by its thousand sweet influences, would ever think of resigning this mortal inheritance, with all its certainty of dissolution, for an immortality in some unknown, untried sphere of existence? The perennially hopeful day; the charm of sex; the friendliness of fellowship; the mating of man and woman; the birth and nurture of children; the buffet of the elements; the warmth and glow of fire; the delight of working muscles; memory-haunting smells; food and drink; labor and rest; the night and sleep—these are man's heritage and joy.

If the old pagan spirit still dwells in the hearts of men it surely makes for the best and sweetest that life holds. In this spirit a man may come to regard the dissolution of his body with some degree of complacency, knowing that his mortal parts will again become incorporate with the soil of the earth, and the grass, and the all-sustaining air—things which entered into his being through all the days of his life—and yet trusting that the best of him—the part that found joy in living—will still find joy, somehow and somewhere, in the realm of beneficent nature.