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among the ruins of Dryburgh, which we have so often visited in gaiety and pastime. No! no! She is sentient and conscious of my emotion somewhere—somehow; where we cannot tell; how we cannot tell; yet would I not at this moment renounce the mysterious yet certain hope that I shall see her in a better world, for all that this world can give me.1
The evening sky of life does not reflect those brilliant flashes of light that shot across its morning and noon.
Yet I thank God it is neither gloomy nor disconsolately lowering; a sober twilight—that is all.2
What is this world ? A dream within a dream; as we grow older, each step is an awakening. The youth awakes, as he thinks, from childhood—the full-grown man despises the pursuits of youth as visionary—the old man looks on manhood as a feverish dream. The Grave the last sleep ?-no; it is the last and final awakening 3
I am drawing near to the close of my career; I am fast shuffling off the stage. I have been, perhaps, the most voluminous writer of the day; and it is a comfort to me to think that I have tried to unsettle no man's faith, to corrupt no man's principle, and that I have written nothing which on my death-bed I should wish blotted.4
Written two days after his
1 From Journal, May 18, 1826. wife's death.
2 lbid. February 1, 1827.
Lockhart, I may have but a minute to speak to you. My dear, be a good man — be virtuous - be religious—be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here.
SYDNEY SMITH .
(CANON OF ST. PAUL's)
E count over the pious spirits of the world,
the beautiful writers, the great statesmen, all who have invented subtlely, who have thought deeply, who have executed wisely: all these are proofs that we are destined for a second life; and it is not possible to believe that this redundant vigour, this lavish and excessive power, was given for the mere gathering of meat and drink. If the only object is present existence, such faculties are cruel, are misplaced, are useless. They all show us that there is something great awaiting us; that the soul is now young and infantine, springing up into a more perfect life when the body falls into dust.2
“Hîc jacet !"-0 humanarum meta ultima rerum !
, Qui motus animorum et quanta pericula nostra Acciperent facilem sine caede et sanguine finem !
1 From Life, by Lockhart (1832). Last words on his death-bed.
2 From a sermon on the “Immortality of the Soul.”
Tu mihi versare ante oculos, non tristis imago,
[“Hîc jacet !”_0 last goal of human things, beyond which labour and mourning and cares are at rest,beyond which riches and glory are weighed as nothing, and this vain and turbid life returns to nought! Oh that men would thus regard thee! What wars throughout the world, what passions of the soul, how many dangers besetting us, might so obtain an easy termination without slaughter or blood! Mayest thou be present before my eyes, not a mournful image but an admonisher, that I should regulate myself; since this house is to me the vestibule of the tomb, and the next to closing seat of my old age !)
COLERIDGE : 1772–1834
F the duty of living were not far more awful to my conscience than life itself is agreeable to my
feelings, I should sink under it. . . . But God's will be done. To feel the full force of the Christian religion it is, perhaps, necessary for many tempers that they should first be made to feel, experimentally, the hollowness of human friendship, the presumptuous emptiness of human hopes.?
1 Lines supposed to have been composed by him shortly before his death.
2 From letter to W. Collins, A.R.A. (December 1818).
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair-
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow, Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow. Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may, For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away! With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll: And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul? Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve, And Hope without an object cannot live.
Verse, a breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
When I was young!
When I was young ?—Ah, woful When!
That fear no spite of wind or tide! 1 “Work without Hope” (lines composed February 21, 1827).
Nought cared this body for wind or weather
Ere I was old !
When we are old :