Tuesday, May 28, 2013
105 years ago, Edith Wharton travelled France by car. In her "Motor Flight Through France," she reflects on the Amiens Cathedral and the other great Gothic cathedrals of France:
[S]o strongly does the contemplation of the great cathedrals fortify the conviction that their chief value, to this later age, is not so much aesthetic as moral. ... Yes, reverance is the most precious emotion that such a building inspires: reverance for the accumulated experiences of the past, readiness to puzzle out their meaning, unwillingless to disturb rashly results so powerfully willed, so laboriously arrived at - the desire, in short, to keep intact as many links as possible between yesterday and to-morrow, to lose, in the ardour of the new experiment, the least that may be of the long rich heritage of human existence. This, at any rate, might seem to be the cathedral's word to the traveller from a land which has which has undertaken to get on without the past, or to regard it only as a "feature" of aeshetic interest, a sight to which one travels rather than a light by which one lives.