Her love of admiration grew by what it fed on, till the sound of applause became the sweetest music to her ear. She rose with this hope, lay down with this satisfaction, and month after month passed in this feverish life, with no wish to change it, but a growing appetite for its unsatisfactory delights, an ever-increasing forgetfulness of any higher aspiration than dramatic fame.
Even now, as I sit here in the stillness of desperation, afraid of I know not what, trembling with a strange dread of some impending doom, gazing in fright backward along the shores of the years whereon I see the wrecks of a thousand hopes, the destruction of every noble aspiration, the ruin of every noble resolve, I cry aloud against the utterness of the destroyer.
Action, growth, conduct, spring from the creating ideal and in the process of development they advance and enlarge together. "The ideal is the primary moving power in the human spirit," Professor Gidding says; "into his ideal enter man's estimate of the past and his forecast of the future his scientific analysis and his poetic feeling, his soberest judgment and his religious aspiration."
Does not each individual feel moved to accomplish something beyond the mere continuation of life? Is there not within us a vague aspiration to do well and be something good and fine, according to our means and tastes? Do we not want to be a success rather than a failure, both for our own sake and for the sake of those we love, who also love us, and cannot help being affected by what we do?
A boy may become deeply absorbed in a set of carpenter's tools and the things he can do with them. He can set his heart on making a pair of stilts, and a boat that will float and steer and sail, and tables and boxes and chests of drawers for his collections all of which may develop skill and determination and an aspiration to fine accomplishment.
Indeed she may be quite drifting away from the ideal that a woman ought to aim at if we are to have a society that is not always tending into a realistic vulgarity and commonplace. It is perfectly true that a woman is her own excuse for being, and in a way she is doing enough for the world by simply being a woman. It is difficult to rouse her to any sense of her duty as a standard of aspiration.
We must think with the symbols with which experience has furnished us; and when we so think, there does seem to be little that is even intellectually satisfying in the awful picture which science shows us, of giant worlds concentrating out of nebulous vapour, developing with prodigious waste of energy into theatres of all that is grand and sacred in spiritual endeavour, clashing and exploding again into dead vapour-balls, only to renew the same toilful process without end, a senseless bubble-play of Titan forces, with life, love, and aspiration brought forth only to be extinguished.
Thus had Robespierre now written; and as he calmly read over, and slowly copied, his own despatch, he saw nothing in it of which he could disapprove, as a reasoning being animated with a true love of his country. "Experience has too clearly proved to us that the offspring of slaves, who willingly kiss the rod of tyrants, will have no higher aspiration than their parents.
This is my highest aspiration, mine ardent desire, O Thou Who rulest all things, and in Whose hand is the kingdom of the entire creation. Thou, verily, doest what Thou choosest. No God is there beside Thee, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving. Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God!
William typified in his person a transitional time, the old Norse world, mingling strangely in him with the new. He was the last outcome of his race. Norse daring and cruelty were side by side with gentleness and aspiration. No human pity tempered his vengeance. When he did this, and when he refused Harold's body a grave, it was the spirit of the sea- wolves within him.