Selected Essays

Selected Essays

Selected Essays

Selected Essays

Excerpt

When we pass in review the works of any great writer, we ask ourselves one question before we decide whether to place him amongst those who belong to the heights. Does he possess the key by which he can open that door which leads the way to an understanding of all things? There are some writers into whose house it is necessary for us to enter during a phase of our development, and having drunk of their wine, to depart, and return no more. We salute them and are grateful for what they have done, but not again do they raise and inspire us. There is another kind of writer, the master, to whom we come at last, and with whom we stay: or, if we journey out into the world and then come back, we find his house not empty for us, nor swept and garnished, but fuller and more commodious. This man must be a mystic, this man must be a poet. Primarily he may be other things--scholar, scientist, philosopher--but such must be his roots. It is not rare to find the poet who is only a poet and the mystic who is only a mystic. It is rare to find the scientist who is also a mystic, the scholar who is also a poet. So rare, in fact, that when it happens we are unprepared for it.

That is the position of Havelock Ellis. His Herculean task as a scientist, and his wide intellectual knowledge, have blinded many to the fact that he is a mystic and that all his work is informed with the poetic vision. At the age of nineteen he suffered the invasion of an unusually complete religious experience and passed for ever out of the valley of the shadow of intellectualism into the grace of vision. From thenceforth, as he tells us in his essay 'The Art of Religion,' he felt at home in the universe. We must use such words as we possess: if the word Mysticism is confused with mysteriousness, Religion with theology, and Vision with visions, we cannot help it; and if there . . .

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