Democrats, Gods, Demons & Angels

At that same time at which every man, raising his eyes above his country, begins at length to discern mankind at large, the Deity is more and more manifest to the human mind in full and entire majesty. If in democratic ages faith in positive religion be often shaken and the belief in intermediate agents, by whatever name they are called, be overcast, on the other hand men are disposed to conceive a far broader idea of Providence itself, and its interference in human affairs assumes a new and more imposing appearance to their eyes. Looking at the human race as one great whole, they easily conceive that its destinies are regulated by the same design; and in the actions of every individual they are led to acknowledge a trace of that universal and eternal plan by which God rules our race. This consideration may be taken as another prolific source of poetry which is opened in democratic times.

Democratic poets will always appear trivial and frigid if they seek to invest gods, demons, or angels with corporeal forms and if they attempt to draw them down from heaven to dispute the supremacy of earth. But if they strive to connect the great events they commemorate with the general providential designs that govern the universe and, without showing the finger of the Supreme Governor, reveal the thoughts of the Supreme Mind, their works will be admired and understood, for the imagination of their contemporaries takes this direction of its own accord.

Of Some Sources of Poetry Among Democratic Nations

Alexis De Tocqueville: Democracy in America, published 1835–1840

3 comments on “Democrats, Gods, Demons & Angels

  1. Lawrence says:

    I asked Euterpe, Calliope, and Erato about Monsieur de Tocqueville, and they laughed in scorn. Euterpe’s laugh was merry, Calliope’s deep-voice, and Erato’s something of a sigh; together they were wonderfully harmonious.

    Poor Monsieur!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lawrence says:

    He was facile in his superficial touristing, and by not reading up Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the lads about democracy’s built-in suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

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