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There shall sit down.
JEAN INGELOW (1880-1897) I LIVE by hope and in hope ; and I find hope sweet
enough to give a meaning to my life, to console me for the loss of youth, and to make the fear of death fade to little more than wonder over the long-desired change.
THOMAS EDWARD BROWN
AM not at all sure that immortality will not turn
out to be a conditional thing, the conditions being in no way theological, but natural, almost mechanical. A soul that has got weight and momentum will naturally tend to go on. A light-textured paper-bag sort of soul will be blown by “ a violent cross-wind ... transverse
into the devious air.” ... We don't know-a force of persistence may be generated by the nisus of progression, and, morally, we may be worth going on
1 From "Time Flies,” December 12.
2 From letter to a friend in 1872.
with. But if the prochain numéro is never to be issued, and our story breaks off quite suddenly and incomplete, I am quite satisfied; I would not trouble the “Omnipotens et Sempiterne" about such a trifle.
My plan always was to recognise two lives as necessary—the one the outer kapelistic life of drudgery, the other the inner and cherished life of the spirit. It is true that the one has a tendency to kill the other, but it must not, and you must see that it does not.2
In my life I have been so much alone, it cannot be helped. Where is the comrade ? I never had one. The absolute self is far within, and no one can reach it. I will not cant, but God reaches it, and He only. I used to envy the surface people, obviously happy, and in their happiness all there, so to speak, the full complete presence of one being to another-no, it is not for men of a certain temperament. Yet we love candour, sincerity, thoroughness, and would fain saturate ourselves with free communication. Poor old Emerson and his over and under soul, he was not far wrong. His friend Carlyle broke down the division habitually—smashed the two souls into one great smudge of discontent. I would not do this. Keep them both going separately. A strong man has strength enough to do this, and all his surroundings benefit thereby. Moreover, in a sweet ancillary way they reflect upon us their sunshine.3
You say you don't believe in a future state, but you
1 From letter written February 1892.
have “gleams of hope.” We are all much in the same plight. “The gleams” are blessed things, just caught at our noblest throbs and in our most ecstatic moods. That they are ecstatic, as apprehended by us, does not disprove their essential permanence. Rather it suggests the contrary. Metaphysically the balance is in favour of a future state. To a sceptical nature like mine, the balance is everything. That is what I get from my own reflections, or rather, what I got ages ago, helped by Plato, confirmed by Butler. It was done once for all; you can't reopen these metaphysical problems. Let sleeping dogs lie. I invite no one to go back into them with me. To those who have no aptness for metaphysical speculations I would say, “Stop where you are! Accept the opinion of the majority. The greatest thinkers of all ages have believed in the future state. They have thought it out for you, be content. In a hundred difficult matters you act upon similar testimony.” Rest assured it is not parsons and such folk that have passed through the region of shadows into the light of the eternal day; no, but the great fixed stars of the human race, pondering, reflecting, judicious. If, at the end of their great communings, somewhat of a rapture of intoxication has seized them, what wonder? They have seen the King in His beauty. Give them credit for honesty, for intelligence, for a sympathy with human wants, for absolute fairness, for burning love. That is how I think of them and feel towards them. With tottering steps I have accompanied them. But that was years ago. Now I don't want to totter, but to walk steadily. Therefore I say, unhesitatingly, “I believe." 1
1 From letter written June 15, 1897. ,
As in a theatre the amusëd sense
(1832–1883) YOU COU know that I am not without religion, and I
sometimes think that if trials and sorrows are a law imposed upon us by Providence, an end to them is vouchsafed to those who without weakness have drained the bitter cup to the dregs.?
I have read ... what
what you say of our old recollections (in this I am always English) of Boulogne, and of our gambols with Ingram on the sands. O nos vingt-ans! 0 les beaux vingt-ans ! Neither you nor I thought, in those days, of days of mourning, of failures, of sorrows. Only many years later did we reflect that we must learn a little philosophy; and we were ignorant of the maxim 1 From Collected Poems (“At the Play”).
2 Written 1873.
of the ancient sage of the East, “ To live is to see others die," or of the other, “Suffering is the end of all science.”
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
HEN I had the youth I had no money; now I
have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life. I suppose it's the discipline I need; but it's rather hard to love the things I do and see them go by because duty chains me to my galley. If I come into port at last with all sail set, that will be reward perhaps.
Life always was a puzzle to me, and gets more mysterious as I go on. I shall find it out by and by and see that it's all right, if I can only keep brave and patient to the end.
LEWIS CARROLL (1832–1898)
(CHARLES LUTWIDGE Dodgson) ONE NE subject you touch on-"the Resurrection of
the Body”—is very interesting to me, and I have given it much thought (I mean long ago). My conclusion was to give up the literal meaning of the material body altogether. Identity, in some mysterious way, there evidently is; but there is no resisting the
1 From letter written in 1882. 2 From Journal, January 1874.