'WE ARE LIVING IN AN AGE OF CHANGE.' Is there anyone who has not uttered the hackneyed words? And have there been any times in the world's past when they have not been uttered? "Time's ever rolling stream bears all its sons away!"
Constant change, we may agree, is the lot of man. But are there not higher and lower crests in this endless procession of the waves across the sea of history? Historians dearly love to find 'turning points of history'. They refer to 'the fall of Rome', the Renaissance, the French Revolution, as 'ends of an epoch' or 'the beginning of a new age'. Such periods, we may agree, formed major crests. May not our own age mark another? The halcyon days of the nineteenth century ended with the roar of the guns in that August of 1914 and since then two world wars have brought vast changes in every aspect of life, from mere technical devices to the profoundest regions of belief, all in less than a single lifetime Whether the changes that we have witnessed are greater or less in magnitude (and what is the measure of magnitude?) than those of times past is immaterial: they are great.
This book has already referred to previous changes of magnitude: the swing from seventeenth-century puritanism to eighteenth-century rationalism, and the swing away from that 'Age of Reason' to the nineteenth-century romanticism and sentimentalism, with its contrapuntal echo of the seventeenth century. To-day we have swung far from the nineteenth-century orbit of our great-grandfathers and once again, one sometimes thinks, the contrapuntal echo can be heard: an echo, this time, of that eighteenth century long ago, but a distorted echo. We have left behind Victorian prudishness and sentimentality: we stare at life with eyes as hard as those of the 'men of reason', and the buildings that we put up (our best reflections), like theirs, run to lean straight lines, without ornament. But our eyes may be less assured than those of the eighteenth cen