source from which it derived—other than that which hadnto do with good taste and especially with a sense of decencynas the inviolate tenet of acceptable human behavior.nYvor Winters dared to carry the implications of thisnpremise a little further by claiming that James’s moralnconsciousness was “the product of generations of disciplinenin the ethical systems of the Roman Catholic and Anglo-nCatholic Churches, a product which subsisted as a traditionalnway of feeling and of acting after the ideas whichnformed it . . . had ceased to be understood or, as ideals,nvalued.” One could almost say the same, in our own time,nfor that supreme novelist of manners, Evelyn Waughn—though, in his case, the Church, even when perceived tonbe withering away, was nevertheless valued precisely becausenof its ideas.nOne of the most remarkable statements in contemporarynappraisals of Henry James comes from a rather unlikelynsource—that is, from the Manichaean sensibility of thennovelist Graham Greene. Greene wrote four refreshinglynkeen appreciations of James. O’ne essay was written to refutenthe notion that the religious sense is singularly absent innJames’s works. Greene cites letters, travel writings, thennovels and shorter fictions as rich in allusions to thencurious, if tenuous, hold that Catholic Christianity had onnHenry James.nEven this much, however, must not be taken as annaesthetic attraction merely, the comforts of which Jamesncould just as readily have found in similar, and perhapsneven more refined, manifestations within the Algonquinncommunity. What he sought instead were those certaintiesnof Catholic definition on Hell, Purgatory, supernaturalnIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles of Culture:nDead Selves and Higher Thingsn”Nothing in this whole wide uni”erse is as unsafe asnfreedom. In fact, that could be a definition of it. Risk isn\hat \c pa} with to lunc a chance at life. Otherwise, wenwould onh” hae a cliance at safety. A continent discoverednand dc”elopcd b” those who were able and willing tonrisk is gradualK” being transformed into a nlaground forntliose willing to ha”C us all domesticatenmr own schcs tnlies we ha”e l)ccn using, so •, in our dealiiiEnworia, but stnig to witness. I ‘nam, b oemg alin261 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREn-from j’The Promise of Life”nh Momcilo SelicnRussell Kirk on M.E. BradfordnThomas Molnar on the Catholic bishopsnPaul Gottfried on George SteinernThomas McDonnell on Geoffre Hillnnnevil, and prayers for the dead, etc., which might morenproperly inform an art and life sourced largely by now in thenethos of European culture itself. However, as Greenenprudently concludes, “It would be wrong to leave thenimpression that James’s religious sense ever brought himnnearer than hailing distance to an organized system.” Jamesnwas a novelist and did not have it in him to become a flawednreligionist in the bargain. Although in this sense he was ankind of deracinated conservative, Henry James paid his duesnto society and to art—to the latter very much in full, ofncourse, and to our everlasting enjoyment. But there remains,nin any retrospective reading of the great last novels, anpervasive sense of sadness. It is like the sadness of a waltznthat is danced in slow-motion time, to a music almostnunheard, and at the end of which the dancers themselvesnfade into the darkness.n”The truth is God’s,” says the ancient lady in The AspernnPapers, “it isn’t man’s; we had better leave it alone. Whoncan judge it—who can say?” (echoing Montaigne’s eternaln’Que sais-Je?’). Perhaps this was as far as Henry James darednto go. He could not quite strike roots into that abidingnsource which continues to animate, however diminishingly.nWestern civilization. As for his Pilate-like sense of thentruth, the saddest prospect of all was that James never fullynrealized that it may indeed be given to large portions ofnhumanity to know at least something of the truth, and tonknow that it can be ours. In this regard, too, it is almostnheartbreaking to read James’s superb letter to Grace Nortonnon the question of human suffering: “Sorrow comes in greatnwaves,” he concludes, “It wears us, uses us, but we wear itnand use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after anmanner see.” With these biblical intonations of the naturalnlaw, James’s letter remains a thoroughly Christian statement;nbut the pity of it is that he would also perceive in hisncomforting advice to Grace Norton the more demandingn”voice of stoicism,” as he called it—anything, it seems,nthan have to admit the Christian connotation.nWe have only to hope of James, therefore, as thentranslator Donald M. Frame has said of Montaigne’s earlyn”stoicism,” that it was more an admiration than a conviction.nOtherwise, the best we can hope for beyond anself-serving form of the conservative impulse is what Hawthornenhad earlier recognized as the fidelity of an unchangingnheart. James certainly had that much to his credit. Butnit would be left to Yvor Winters later to discern all toonclearly that one of James’s major defects was that he hadnattempted “to understand ethical problems in a pure state.”nThere seems little question of that now.nIn the main, it must also be said that James lacked anynfull—or fulfilling—sense of the human context beyond thenperiphery of his own privileged experience. This has alwaysnbeen the fatal error of the deracinated conservative. It thusnremains one of the more interesting paradoxes of Anglo-nAmerican letters that an intelligence as incandescent asnHenry James’s, present on almost every page he wrote,ncould have written indeed so knowingly about the phenomenonnof human manners without having seen in thisncomplexity the unifying presence of a sacred mystery. Innthe end, the only sacred fount he knew was the onenensconced in the private garden of his own art andnimagination. ccn