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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.


LIFE: I know not what thou art,
IFE! I know not what thou art,

But know that thou and I must part;
And when, or how, or where we met,
I own to me's a secret yet.
But this I know, when thou art fled,
Where'er they lay these limbs, this head,
No clod so valueless shall be,
As all that then remains of me.
Oh whither, whither dost thou fly,

Where bend unseen thy trackless course,

And in this strange divorce,
Ah tell where I must seek this compound I?

To the vast ocean of empyreal flame,
From whence thy essence came,
Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed
From matter's base encumbering weed ?

Or dost thou, hid from sight,
Wait, like some spell-bound knight,
1 From Memoirs of My Life, March 2, 1791.

Through blank oblivious years the appointed hour,
To break thy trance and reassume thy power ?
Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be?

say what art thou, when no more thou’rt thee?

Life! we've been so long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather ;
"Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
Then steal away, give little warning,

Choose thine own time;
Say not Good-night, but in some brighter clime

Bid me Good-morning.


(1746–1831) WE

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.”
2 From Northcote's Conversations with James Ward.

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.
2 From Conversations with Eckermann (1824).

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
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us—Onward !

And solemn before us,
Veiled, the dark Portal,
Goal of all mortal.
Stars silent rest o'er us-
Graves under us, silent.

While earnest thou gazest

Comes boding of terror, 1 From Conversations with Eckermann (1824).

2 Ibid. (1829).

Come phantasm and error;
Perplexes the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.
But heard are the voices,
Heard are the sages,
The Worlds and the Ages :
“ Choose well; your choice is
Brief, and yet endless."

Here eyes do regard you
In Eternity's stillness;
Here is all fulness,
Ye brave, to reward you.
Work, and despair not."

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.

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