« AnteriorContinuar »
the crowd must be content to remain at the foot of the mountain, while the few who have climbed the summit aspire to descend or to expect a fall. In old age, the consolation of hope is reserved for the tenderness of parents who commence a new life in their children, the faith of enthusiasts who sing Hallelujahs above the clouds, and the vanity of authors who presume the immortality of their name and writings.
ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD
But know that thou and I must part;
Where bend unseen thy trackless course,
And in this strange divorce,
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame,
Or dost thou, hid from sight,
Through blank oblivious years the appointed hour,
say what art thou, when no more thou’rt thee?
Life! we've been so long together,
Choose thine own time;
Bid me Good-morning.
JAMES NORTHCOTE, R.A.
TERE God, he said, to leave him to select his own
heaven, content would he be to occupy that little painting-room [his studio in Argyle Street, London] with a continuance of the happiness he had experienced there— even for ever."
VON GOETHE (1749-1832) THE common fate of man, which all of us have to
bear, must fall most heavily on those whose intellectual powers expand very early. For a time we may
1 - Life.”
grow up under the protection of parents and relatives ; we may lean for a while upon our brothers and sisters and friends, be supported by acquaintances, and made happy by those we love, but in the end man is always driven back upon himself, and it seems as if the Divinity had taken a position towards men so as not always to respond to their reverence, trust, and love, at least not in the precise moment of need. Early enough, and by many a hard lesson, had I learned that at the most urgent crisis the call to us is, “ Physician, heal thyself ; and how frequently had I been compelled to sigh out in pain, “I tread the wine-press alone !” i
I have ever been esteemed one of Fortune's chiefest favourites; nor will I complain or find fault with the course my life has taken. Yet, truly, there has been nothing but toil and care; and I may say that, in all my seventy-five years, I have never had a month of genuine comfort. It has been the perpetual rolling of a stone, which I have always had to raise anew. My annals will render clear what I now say. The claims upon my activity, both from within and without, were too numerous.
My real happiness was my poetic meditation and production. But how was this disturbed, limited, and hindered by my external position! Had I been able to abstain more from public business and to live more in solitude, I should have been happier, and should have accomplished much more as a poet.?
At the age of seventy-five one must, of course, think
1 From Autobiography.
sometimes of death. But this thought never gives me the least uneasiness, for I am fully convinced that our spirit is a being of a nature quite indestructible, and that its activity continues from eternity to eternity. It is like the sun, which seems to set only to our earthly eyes, but which, in reality, never sets, but shines on unceasingly.1
Man should believe in immortality; he has a right to this belief; it corresponds with the wants of his nature, and he may believe in the promises of religion. But if the philosopher tries to deduce the immortality of the soul from a legend, that is very weak and inefficient. To me the eternal existence of my soul is proved from my idea of activity ; if I work on incessantly till my death, nature is bound to give me another form of existence when the present one can no longer sustain my spirit.” 2
The Futures hides in it
And solemn before us,
While earnest thou gazest
Comes boding of terror, 1 From Conversations with Eckermann (1824).
2 Ibid. (1829).
Come phantasm and error;
Here eyes do regard you
MADAME ROLAND (1754-1793) THE JHE glorious idea of a Divine Creator, whose provi
dence watches over the world; the immateriality of the soul, and lastly its immortality, that consolation of persecuted and suffering virtue—can these be nothing more than amiable and splendid chimeras ? Yet what absurdities enwrap these difficult problems!
What accumulated objections involve them if we wish to examine them with a mathematical rigor !But no: it is not allotted to man to behold these truths in the full day of perfect evidence; and what does it signify to the sensible soul that he cannot demonstrate them? Is it not sufficient that he feels them ? 2
In the silence of the closet and the dryness of dis1 Translated by Carlyle. 2 From Private Memoirs.