Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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A Sermon on "Nature."
A Man writes me a brilliant and witty letter,
wherein he gives me both commendation and
criticism for some of my published utterances.
    Of course, when you agree with a man's senti-
ments, he thinks you are a monument of wisdom;
when you conflict with them, he thinks you a fool.
    This delightfully witty fellow thinks me liberal,
but not liberal enough; truthful, but not truthful
    He says: "The work of civilization has been in the
past, and is to-day, to oppose, strangle, and pervert
nature.  The policy is a false one, also stupid, also
    "It is largely the work of religious orders, bent
on turning a man of flesh and blood into a saint,
and incidentally to fill pockets with filthy lucre.
    "When Truth begins her rule, all nonsensical ideas
of religion will pass away, and we shall live as we
ought to live, and not need another life because we
have made a failure of this."
    I would suggest that this young man (I am sure
he is young) turn his gaze backward upon the
nations who have already lived according to his idea
of truth.  There was an ancient Greece and old
Rome.  They believed in "truth" as my corre-
spondent understands the word, and in "nature."
They lived in the pleasures of the senses, with no
anxiety or ideal regarding a future life.
    They degenerated into worse than nothing--they
have passed from the face of the earth.
    To be sure, we all pass away--every race, every
nation, every individual.  But there is a difference
in the results left behind, in the influence which
spreads before.
    When we think of ancient Greece, we think of its
statues, and old Rome reminds us of luxurious
baths.  Both are good in their way.  But there is a
great deal of time in a human life of three-score
years and ten which is not filled by looking at
statues or bathing in jeweled tubs.
    When that glorious time of which my correspond-
ent writes arrives--the time when we shall scoff at
any belief in immortality, and live in the indulgence
of our appetites--what is to keep us from mel-
ancholy madness and suicide?  What can take the
place of faith to support us through vicissitudes of
sickness and old age?
    It is all very well to talk about a short life and a
merry one, but life has a habit of being long, oft-
times when least desirable, and after mirth has
    It is only by exercising self-control and cultivat-
ing a religious faith in youth, that we have the moral
strength to endure the sorrows and trials of later
    My correspondent forgets that, if we lived abso-
lutely according to "nature," we would wear no
clothing, and men would tear each other, with teeth
and nails, in the strife for possession of the female.
    Nature is a beautiful thing sometimes--some-
times it is horrible and repulsive; and human nature
is a dangerous guide to follow, unless it holds in its
hand the torch of divine illumination.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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