A Book of Modern Essays

By Bruce Welker McCullough; Edwin Berry Burgum | Go to book overview

THE RHYTHM OF LIFE*

ALICE MEYNELL

(The title of Mrs. Meynell's essay is easy to understand. Evidences that life has its rhythms are so personal as to be apparent to all of us. Our blood leaps in response to the heart's contracting, and then waits sluggishly for the next impulsion. We throw a stone into the water and watch the recurrent circles expand. We put our ear against a shell and listen to its throbbing measure. But these examples are too superficial for Mrs. Meypell. She finds a rhythm also in the natural alternation of work and rest, of speech and silence, and in the delights of life that are compensations to her as they were to Emerson for its inevitable disappointments.

Such illustrations of the rhythm of life are by no means elementary. To understand them demands the communion of the thoughtful mind with a lifetime of experience, and some knowledge also of the way in which the mind of the mystic penetrates to the soul of man and the center of life that it may find them pulsating with the spiritual presence of God. And so, unless we read her essay carefully, the rhythm of its own logic may escape us. We shall be repaid by a re-reading; and if we do so, we shall find the development of her essay more logical than the writings of that earlier mystic, S. Thomas à Kempis, whom she quotes with affection. For every sentence brings us a new illustration of her theme and leads us nearer to the heart of it.

Alice Thompson was among those whom the movement instituted by Cardinal Newman brought into the Church of Rome.

____________________
*
From Essays. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913.

-147-

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A Book of Modern Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • "Highbrow" and "Lowbrow" 1
  • What is a Puritan? 17
  • Portrait of a Family 45
  • The Norwegian Migration to America 63
  • The West and American Ideals 79
  • The Once Open Road 101
  • Sentimental America 113
  • Louisiana: (Madame de la Louisiane) 127
  • Fez 141
  • The Rhythm of Life 147
  • Summer 153
  • On an Unknown Country 161
  • Ideals and Day-Dreams 169
  • Castles in Spain 187
  • Science and the Faith of the Modern 201
  • On Friendship 219
  • A Relic 225
  • The Cheerful Breakfast Table 235
  • Conversation 249
  • Trivia 259
  • On Jargon 265
  • Names Practical and Poetic 285
  • The American Language 297
  • What the American Rhodes Scholar Gets from Oxford 321
  • Literary Taste 339
  • Dickens 347
  • The Vicar of Wakefield 365
  • Don Quixote 373
  • The Novel Démeublé 389
  • The Politics of Martha and of Mary 397
  • Autumn Tints in Chivalry 419
  • Index of Authors 431
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