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May all of us who desire to meet elsewhere do so, and be then shown the secret of the great, the awful, yet, it is to be trusted, the beautiful riddle; for why so much half-beauty here, and such need for completing it, if complete it is not to be? I do not think that enough has been made of that argument from analogy, divine as was the mind of Plato, that suggested it. Oh, why did any kind of religious creed ever put such injustice into its better portion as to render it possible for any of the Maker's infirm creatures to wish it might not be true, even for others' sakes? For my part, infirm as I am, I fear it not for myself or for my body, trusting, as I do, to that only kind of divineness which it is possible for me to believe in, which has itself made it impossible for me to believe otherwise. As to the fulfilment of these yearnings on earth to be made entire in a future state, I can no more believe in the existence of regions in space where God has made halforbs in their heavens, or half-oranges on their trees, than I can believe He will fail to make these anxious, half-satisfied natures of ours, which thus crave for completeness, as entire and rounded in that which they crave for as any other fruits of His hands. 1
THOMAS DE QUINCEY
(1785–1859) OF FTEN and often, in years after all was gone, I
have passed old Brathay, , and, seating myself on a stone by the side of the mountain river Brathay, have staid for hours listening to the same
1 From the Autobiography.
sound to which so often Charles Lloyd and I used to hearken together with profound emotion and awe—the sound of pealing anthems, as if streaming from the open portals of some illimitable cathedral; for such a sound does actually arise, in many states of the weather, from the peculiar action of the river Brathay upon its rocky bed, and many times I have heard it of a quiet night, when no stranger could have been persuaded to believe it other than the sound of choral chantingdistant, solemn, saintly. Its meaning and expression were, in those earlier years, uncertain and general; not more pointed or determined in the direction which it impressed upon one's feelings than the light of the setting suns: and sweeping, in fact, the whole harp of pensive sensibilities rather than striking the chord of any one specific sentiment. But since the ruin or dispersion of that household, after the smoke had ceased to ascend from their hearth or the garden walks to re-echo their voices, oftentimes, when lying by the river-side, I have listened to the same aerial saintly sound, whilst looking back to that night, long hidden in the frost of receding years, when Charles and Sophia Lloyd, now lying in foreign graves, first dawned upon me, coming suddenly out of rain and darkness; thenyoung, rich, happy, full of hope, belted with young children (of whom also most are long dead), and standing apparently on the verge of a labyrinth of golden hours. Musing on that night in November 1807, and then upon the wreck that had been wrought by a space of fifteen years, I would say to myself sometimes, and seem to hear it in the songs of this watery cathedralPut not your trust in any fabric of happiness that has its root in man or the children of men. Sometimes
even I was tempted to discover in the same music a sound such as this–Love nothing, love nobody, for thereby comes a killing curse in the rear.
But sometimes also, very early on a summer morning, when the dawn was barely beginning to break, all things locked in sleep, and only some uneasy murmur or cock-crow, at a faint distance, giving a hint of resurrection for earth and her generations, I have heard in that same chanting of the little mountain river a more solemn if a less agitated admonition—a requiem over departed happiness, and a protestation against the thought that so many excellent creatures, but a little lower than the angels, whom I have seen only to love in this life-so many of the good, the brave, the beautiful, the wisecan have appeared for no higher purpose or prospect than simply to point a moral, to cause a little joy and many tears, a few perishing moons of happiness and years of vain regret! No! that the destiny of man is more in correspondence with the grandeur of his endowments, and that our own mysterious tendencies are written hieroglyphically in the vicissitudes of day and night, of winter and summer, and throughout the great alphabet of Nature ! But on that theme-beware, reader! Listen to no intellectual argument.
argument. One ment there is, one only there is, of philosophic value: an argument drawn from the moral nature of man, an argument of Immanuel Kant's. The rest are dust and ashes. 1
1 From the Autobiography.
BENJAMIN ROBERT HAYDON
(1786-1846) So O intensely, my great friend, is Christianity inter
woven in my Being, that I know it to be His revealed will as if I heard His voice. It is in my heart, my brain, my blood. What a trial of faith did I
pass through with Hunt, Hazlitt, Shelley; and yet all this added to my convictions. I am come now to consider death as a change of sensation only; to go from one scene to another, as the only thing that makes life worth enduring. This is no Cant, but Truth.1
Whether it be that imagination overrates the happiness that is to come and underrates that which exists, or that languor succeeds excitement and disappointment gratification, God only knows; but the longer a man lives the more he is convinced that honesty, peace, independence, and virtue are all that are requisite to ensure tranquillity on earth, and that this world is but a world of trial, imperfect and uncertain.2
I do not believe in “lie still ” until the Resurrection. There is nothing in creation analogous to that, or to annihilation. All existence is birth, destruction, reproduction; and why should the whole system be so, and man only and his nature be an exception after death ? The doctrine of instant consciousness after death is borne out by Scripture, and by the whole of creation, and by the solar system to boot. I see the same sun, 1 From letter to Wordsworth (September 1841).
2 From Table-Talk.
and moon, and stars that were beheld by the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Syrians, and Babylonians. Why should inanimate matter without the power of deduction and invention be re-animate only? Must that Divine gift of thought not be reproduced ? Impossible! How can we conceive that the Power which created us with such palpable inferiority in stability to the earth, the sun, the air, should not recompense the agony we feel at our weakness by a resuscitation after death, more stable than either? It must be. The idea of Annihilation after death could not be endured.1
SIR JOHN FRANKLIN
WOULD humbly offer my grateful thanks to
Almighty God that the peculiar circumstances of my situation, arising from want of society and full occupation, have led me to seek that consolation from the perusal of religious books which I have found especially in the Holy Bible - abundantly supplied. To this sacred volume I have applied for grounds of hope, comfort, and support, and never in vain ; and I am fully convinced that therein, and therein only, can be found the treasures of heavenly love and mercy.
Christ, who died for the salvation of sinners, is the way, the truth, and the life. Whoso cometh unto Him in full purpose of heart shall in no wise be cast out. Can anything be more cheering than these assurances, or better calculated to fill the mind with heavenly impressions, or lift up the heart in grateful
1 From Table-Talk.