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|Date (year)||1816||117 - 1982|
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"Victory after all, I suppose!" he said, feeling his aching head. "Well, it seems a very gloomy business."
In the course of reading he became more and more melancholy and finally became completely gloomy. When the reading was over he uttered in a voice full of sorrow: "Goodness, how sad is our Russia!"
The character and conquest of the invincible champion are ever the same. A Lacedaemonian died while writing with his own blood on a rock — " Sparta has conquered!" But, O,there is an illustration higher and better than any derived from mere earthly annals. Jesus veiled His glory in the skies; shrouded divinity in mortality, and with godhead and humanity coalesced in His person, entered the lists with more than mortal strife against the powers of hell. He drank the bitter cup with sublimer resignation than the sages of earth ever knew; contended victoriously where finite champions must inevitably have been destroyed; fell, like the strong man, destroying His foes by His death; persevered on our behalf in all the fearful descent from the august throne of the Eternal to the stony floor of the cold and gloomy sepulchre; that Hope's sweet fountain might gush up for mankind in Golgotha, and Salvation plant her banner with immortal triumph at the portal of the conquered tomb.
My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye.
A gloomy guest fits not a wedding feast.
And rolling far along the gloomy shores The voice of days of old and days to be.
The masters of the fairest and most wealthy climates of the globe turned with contempt from gloomy hills, assailed by the winter tempest, from lakes concealed in a blue mist, and from cold and lonely heaths, over which the deer of the forest were chased by a troop of naked barbarians.
Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.
"Oh, Richard!" exclaimed she, on one occasion, "if you would but dismiss such gloomy subjects from your mind, you would live as long as any of us; at least you would live to see the girls married, and yourself a happy grandfather, with a canty old dame for your companion."
Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.
The gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination, the melancholy madness of poetry without the inspiration.
Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.
I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern. My hopes, indeed, sometimes fail; but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy.
When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
The building itself is hostile: cracked plaster, broken windows, splintered doors and carved up desks, gloomy corridors and metal stairways, dingy cafeteria (they can eat sitting down only in 20 minute shifts) and an auditorium which has no windows. It does have murals, however, depicting mute, muscular harvesters, faded and immobile under a mustard sun.
During the late contest for the Union, the air was full of 'nevers', every one of which was contradicted and put to shame by the result, and I doubt not that most of those we now hear in our troubled air will meet the same fate. It is probably well for us that some of our gloomy prophets are limited in their powers to prediction.
People who have what they want are very fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it, And I wish I could afford to gather all such people into a gloomy castle on the Danube and hire half a dozen capable Draculas to haunt it. I dont' mind their having a lot of money, and I don't care how they employ it, But I do think that they damn well ought to admit they enjoy it.
These are the gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the inspiration.
With rushing winds and gloomy skies The dark and stubborn Winter dies: Far-off, unseen, Spring faintly cries, Bidding her earliest child arise; March!
In the middle of the sixteenth century, Spain was the incubus of Europe. Gloomy and portentous, she chilled the world with her baneful shadow.
Silence! Oh, well are Death and Sleep and Thou Three brethren named, the guardians gloomy-winged, Of one abyss, where life and truth and joy Are swallowed up.
Though outwardly a gloomy shroud, The inner half of every cloud Is bright and shining: I therefore turn my clouds about And always wear them inside out To show the lining.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, Che la diritta via era smarrita. In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray, Gone from the path direct.
Ask a wise man to dinner and he'll upset everyone by his gloomy silence or tiresome questions. Invite him to a dance and you'll have a camel prancing about. Haul him off to a public entertainment and his face will be enough to spoil the people's entertainment.
I myself have not met a self-confessed liberal since the late fifties (and even then it was a tacky thing to admit, like coming from the middle class or the Middle West, those two gloomy seedbeds of talent), yet hardly a day passes that I don't read another attack on the "typical liberal" — as it might be announcing a pest of dinosaurs or a plague of unicorns.
Our foolish minds are weak; they are more than willing to be drawn—and there is so much that wants to draw us to itself. There is pleasure with its seductive power, the multiplicity with its bewildering distractions, the moment with its infatuating importance and the conceited laboriousness of busyness and the careless time-wasting of light-mindedness and the gloomy brooding of heavy-mindedness—all this will draw us away from ourselves to itself in order to deceive us.
If the street life, not the Whitechapel street life, but that of the common but so-called respectable part of town is in any city more gloomy, more ugly, more grimy, more cruel than in London, I certainly don't care to see it. Sometimes it occurs to one that possibly all the failures of this generation, the world over, have been suddenly swept into London, for the streets are a restless, breathing, malodorous pageant of the seedy of all nations.
Gloomy calm of idle vacancy.
Nothing that has happened has made me feel gloomy or remain depressed. I love my life.
You must rise above The gloomy clouds Covering the mountaintop Otherwise, how will you Ever see the brightness?
Black, (blak), adj. Destitute of light, devoid of color, enveloped in darkness. Hence, utterly dismal or gloomy, as "the future looked black.
Every time I see a photograph of Freud I wonder how a man who spent his whole life tête-à-tête with sex can look that gloomy.
For me Fate gave, whate'er she else denied, A nature sloping to the southern side; I thank her for it, though when clouds arise Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
If a man be gloomy, let him keep to himself. No one has a right to go croaking about society, or, what is worse, looking as if he stifled grief.
Gloomy grammarians in golden gowns, Meekly you keep the mortal rendezvous, Eliciting the still sustaining pomps Of speech which are like music so profound They seem an exaltation without sound.
Being gloomy is easier than being cheerful. Anybody can say "I've got cancer" and get a rise out of a crowd. But how many of us can do five minutes of good stand-up comedy?
Our Lord Byron — the fascinating — faulty — childish — philosophical being — daring the world — docile to a private circle — impetuous and indolent — gloomy and yet more gay than any other.
Their shields are black, their bodies dyed. They choose dark nights for battle, and, by the dread and gloomy aspect of their death-like host, strike terror into the foe, who can never confront their strange and almost infernal appearance.
When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find that far more, and far more hideous, crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
The dullest was struck by the contrast between the harsh, taciturn, gloomy commander, and the pirate whose laugh was gusty and ready, who roared ribald songs in a dozen languages, guzzled ale like a toper, and--apparently--had no thought for the morrow.
The journey down to the abyss Is prosperous and light: The palace gates of gloomy Dis Stand open day and night: But upward to retrace the way And pass into the light of day There comes the stress of labour; this May task a hero's might.
His manners are to 99 in 100 singularly repulsive—; brow-hanging, shoe-contemplative, strange. … he is, I verily believe, kindly-nature; is very of, attentive to, and patient with children; but he is jealous, gloomy, and of an irritable pride — and addicted to women, as objects of sexual indulgence.
While we get ready to rejoin the others and begin war again, the dark and storm-choked sky slowly opens above our heads. Between two masses of gloomy cloud a tranquil gleam emerges; and that line of light, so blackedged and beset, brings even so its proof that the sun is there.
The sun, that brave man, Comes through boughs that lie in wait, That brave man.Green and gloomy eyes In dark forms of the grass Run away.The good stars, Pale helms and spiky spurs, Run away.Fears of my bed, Fears of life and fears of death, Run away.That brave man comes up From below and walks without meditation, That brave man.
But life is sweet, though all that makes it sweet Lessen like sound of friends’ departing feet; And Death is beautiful as feet of friend Coming with welcome at our journey’s end. For me Fate gave, whate’er she else denied, A nature sloping to the southern side; I thank her for it, though when clouds arise Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
But life is sweet, though all that makes it sweet Lessen like sound of friends' departing feet; And Death is beautiful as feet of friend Coming with welcome at our journey's end. For me Fate gave, whate'er she else denied, A nature sloping to the southern side; I thank her for it, though when clouds arise Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
In literature and in art, alike, this gloomy fashion of regarding Death has been characteristic of Christianity. Death has been painted as a skeleton grasping a scythe, a grinning skull, a threatening figure with terrible face and uplifted dart, a bony scarecrow shaking an hourglass - all that could alarm and repel has been gathered round this rightly-named King of Terrors.
What has changed is that my life then was less difficult and my future seemingly less gloomy, but as far as my inner self, my way of looking at things and of thinking is concerned, that has not changed. But if there has indeed been a change, then it is that I think, believe and love more seriously now what I thought, believed and loved even then.
Through us you got guidance in the darkness and secured high position, and through us you got out of the gloomy night. The ears which do not listen to the cries may become deaf. How can one who remained deaf to the loud cries (of the Qur'an and the Prophet) listen to (my) feeble voice. The heart that has ever palpitated (with fear of Allah) may get peace.
There appears to me to be no device at present but between an absolute surrender of the liberties of the People and a vigorous exertion...My view of things is I own very gloomy, and I am convinced that in a few years this Government will become completely absolute, or that confusion will arise of a nature almost as much to be deprecated as despotism itself...This is a great Crisis.
On the way I stood a moment looking out across the marshes with tall cattails, a patch of water, more marsh, then the woods with a few birch trees shining white at the edge on beyond. In the darkness it all looked just like I felt. Wet and swampy and gloomy, very gloomy. In the morning I painted it. My memory of it is that it was probably my best painting that summer
This view will doubtless seem to many a paradox, an exaggeration, and a gloomy and depressing view at that. Yet it is nothing of the sort. It is not gloomy; on the contrary, it seeks to throw light upon a subject which ordinarily is left in obscurity. It is not depressing; on the contrary it is uplifting, since it views every man in the aspect of the highest demand made upon him, that he be spirit.
You ask about Queen Victoria's visit to Brussels. I saw her for an instant flashing through the Rue Royale in a carriage and six, surrounded by soldiers. She was laughing and talking very gaily. She looked a little stout, vivacious lady, very plainly dressed, not much dignity or pretension about her. The Belgians liked her very well on the whole. They said she enlivened the sombre court of King Leopold, which is usually as gloomy as a conventicle.
Rousseau has said in his Emile (book iv.): "Even though philosophers should be in a position to discover the truth, which of them would take any interest in it? Each one knows well that his system is not better founded than the others, but he supports it because it is his. ...The essential thing is to think differently from others. With believers he is an atheist; with atheists he is a believer." How much substantial truth there is in these gloomy confessions of this man of painful sincerity.
Cimourdain was a pure-minded but gloomy man. He had "the absolute" within him. He had been a priest, which is a solemn thing. Man may have, like the sky, a dark and impenetrable serenity; that something should have caused night to fall in his soul is all that is required. Priesthood had been the cause of night within Cimourdain. Once a priest, always a priest. Whatever causes night in our souls may leave stars. Cimourdain was full of virtues and truth, but they shine out of a dark background.
Then sought out Envy in her dark abode, Defil'd with ropy gore and clots of blood: Shut from the winds, and from the wholesome skies, In a deep vale the gloomy dungeon lies, Dismal and cold, where not a beam of light Invades the winter, or disturbs the night. ... She never smiles but when the wretched weep, Nor lulls her malice with a moment's sleep, Restless in spite: while watchful to destroy, She pines and sickens at another's joy; Foe to her self, distressing and distrest, She bears her own tormentor in her breast.
"Ah! this beautiful world!" said Flemming, with a smile. "Indeed, I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all gladness and sunshine, and Heaven itself lies not far off. And then it changes suddenly; and is dark and sorrowful, and clouds shut out the sky. In the lives of the saddest of us, there are bright days like this, when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms and kiss it. Then come the gloomy hours, when the fire will neither burn on our hearths nor in our hearts; and all without and within is dismal, cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."
Wallace's emotions on discovering such marvels must surely be echoed by all of us who follow him. This is what he wrote: "I thought of the long ages of the past during which the successive generations of these things of beauty had run their course. Year by year being born and living and dying amid these dark gloomy woods with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness, to all appearances such a wanton waste of beauty. It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man, many of them have no relation to him, their happiness and enjoyment's, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone."
Gloomy as night he stands.
Poor child! You've lived a terrible life- gloomy, tragic. You're fun starved! You must learn to play!
Grand, gloomy and peculiar, he sat upon the throne, a sceptred hermit, wrapped in the solitude of his awful originality.
To man, that was in th' evening made, Stars gave the first delight; Admiring, in the gloomy shade, Those little drops of light.
One gloomy and pessimistic writer with a powerful style affects a whole generation of writers, who in turn affect almost every educated person in the country.
I accept that climate change is a challenge, I accept the broad theory about global warming. I am sceptical about a lot of the more gloomy predictions.
It is impossible for a poet to characterize his own work. From other people I gather that I am a gloomy poet, if not a tragic one.
People always called The Cure gloomy, but listening to The Cure made me happy. There was something about the gloominess that gave me comfort, and I think we're the same way.
You can't marry this Archibald. He's a gloomy, miserable cripple that hides himself away in that horrible house. You've said it yourself, you can't believe you love him and neither can I!
Through the sharp air a flaky torrent flies, Mocks the slow sight, and hides the gloomy skies; The fleecy clouds their chilly bosoms bare, And shed their substance on the floating air.
The past is necessarily inferior to the future. That is how we wish it to be. How could we acknowledge any merit in our most dangerous enemy: the past, gloomy prevaricator, execrable tutor?
Lord, what am I, that, with unceasing care, Thou didst seek after me, — that Thou didst wait, Wet with unhealthy dews, before my gate, And pass the gloomy nights of winter there?
Where's the superficial? I was, and therefore am, dim, gloomy, a drag, unfashionable, unfanciable, and awkward. This doesn't seem like superficial to me. These aren't flesh wounds. These are life-threatening thrusts into the internal organs.
A prophet such as we could use again today,strong,zealous,angry and gloomy in opposition to the leaders,the masses indeed the whole world.(Letter to his pastor Julius Schubring ,1846 regarding Medelssohn's choral work 'Elijah' published that year)
At last, the golden orientall gate Of greatest heaven gan to open fayre, And Phœbus, fresh as brydegrome to his mate, Came dauncing forth, shaking his dewie hayre; And hurls his glistring beams through gloomy ayre.
So variously seem'd all things wrought, I marvell'd how the mind was brought To anchor by one gloomy thought; And wherefore rather I made choice To commune with that barren voice, Than him that said, "Rejoice! rejoice!"
You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people. Why not make earnest effort to confer that pleasure on others? You will find half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy.
The facts, indeed, connected with this gloomy department of statistics show that the most valuable period of human life—that in which a man is producing more than he is consuming—is that which provides the greatest number of victims.
Noory: Had you been on the program today, and had they not been found, would you have felt as if, because they had heard no sounds, that this was a very gloomy moment, and they might have all died?
Remorse is as the heart in which it grows; If that be gentle, it drops balmy dews Of true repentance; but if proud and gloomy, It is the poison tree, that pierced to the inmost Weeps only tears of poison.
For is there aught in Sleep can charm the wise? To lie in dead oblivion, loosing half The fleeting moments of too short a life— * * * * * * Who would in such a gloomy state remain Longer than Nature craves?
When everything you see appears in dark, gloomy shades, and seems baleful, and you want to tell others only bad and unpleasant things, do not trust your perceptions. Treat yourself as though you were drunk. Take no steps and actions until this state has disappeared.
Far southward, as his lord decreed, Wise Hanumén, the Wind-God's seed, With Angad his swift way pursued, And Tara's warlike multitude. Strong Vinata with all his band Betook him to the eastern land, And brave Sushen in eager quest Sped swiftly to the gloomy west.
Then grew a wrinkle on fair Venus' brow, The amber sweet of love is turn'd to gall! Gloomy was Heaven; bright Phœbus did avow He would be coy, and would not love at all; Swearing no greater mischief could be wrought, Than love united to a jealous thought.
If a man is dying for want of bread, and you give him bread, is that to make him gloomy? That is what Christ is to the soul — the Bread of Life. You will never have true pleasure or peace or joy or comfort until you have found Christ.
The actors feel that the music played before the curtain rises will put the audience in the wrong mood. The playwright suggests that the (purposefully lugubrious) music be played at twice-speed. This peps it up somewhat while retaining its essentially dark and gloomy character. The actors listen carefully, and are pleased.
As for hair in the nose, it is picturesque, and with a little practise it can be made to quiver, like the antennae of one of the more intelligent and sensitive insects. Anything which gives interest to the gloomy, immobile pan of the average Canadian should be cherished and not extirpated with circular scissors.
As it is so strangely ordained in this world, what is amusing will turn into being gloomy, if you stand too long before it, and then God knows what ideas may not stray into the mind... Why is it that even in moments of unthinking, careless gaiety a different and strange mood comes upon one?
By historical standards and given the gloomy corporate profits outlook in an environment of high corporate debt and rising interest rates, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is considerably overvalued at late-2006 levels and should be avoided. I say that, even setting aside the imminent prospect of a collapsed dollar and the recession and hyperinflation that would accompany it.
When a country produces a man of genius he is never what it wants or believes it wants; he is always unlike its idea of itself. In the eighteenth century Scotland believed itself religious, moral and gloomy, and its national poet Burns came not to speak of these things but to speak of lust and drink and drunken gaiety.
In general, the nightmare quality of Marx's thought gives it, in this bedevilled age, an air of greater reality than the gentle complacency of the orthodox academics. Yet he, at the same time, is more encouraging than they, for he releases hope as well as terror from Pandora's box, while they preach only the gloomy doctrine that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Twenty years ago we heard many predictions that there would be no Indians left in Brazil by the end of the decade. These gloomy forecasts were wholly wrong. We are now optimists — hopeful that right thinking will prevail and the destruction of tribal peoples and their environments will stop. Tribal peoples will survive against extraordinary odds — but they do need the help of concerned people throughout the world.
When the weather is bad as it was yesterday, everybody, almost everybody, feels cross and gloomy. Our thin linen tents — about like a fish seine, the deep mud, the irregular mails, the never to-be-seen paymasters, and “the rest of mankind,” are growled about in “old-soldier” style. But a fine day like today has turned out brightens and cheers us all. We people in camp are merely big children, wayward and changeable.
...this indeed is one of the most mischievous effects of the proceedings of the Radicals, that by abusing popular privileges they establish precedents for abridging them. My views of the state of the country are more and more gloomy. Everything is tending, and has for some time been tending, to a complete separation between the higher and lower orders of society; a state of things which can only end in the destruction of liberty.
If you expect the worst from a person, you can't ever be disappointed. Only the disappointed resort to violence. The pessimist, which is another way of saying the Augustinian, takes a sort of gloomy pleasure in observing the depths to which human behaviour can sink. The more sin he sees, the more his belief in Original Sin is confirmed. Everyone likes to have his deepest convictions confirmed; that is one of the most abiding of human satisfactions.
It was on the afternoon of the 17th of September that Colonel Cooke and his men surrendered themselves at Anton Chico. On the morning of the 20th these betrayed and unfortunate men passed through the edge of San Miguel on their long and gloomy march towards the city of Mexico. We were not permitted to see them, but were informed by the women who visited us, that they had been stripped of nearly everything, and were badly treated in every way.
Disadvantages... can be entirely removed by... the ridge-dormer. By its use space in the roof, otherwise of little value, becomes the most desirable. Instead of being gloomy, stuffy and hot, the dormers render it perfectly ventilated, light at all times, and cool in hot weather. In frame buildings, it is not so easy, because there must be tie beams... to withstand the thrust of the roof. ...Where low stone walls are used... the strength of the walls is sufficient to withstand the thrust...
John Calvin... set up an Asiatic despotism of his own, modeled upon that of the pope. ...The high point of his career was the brutal burning of Servetus, one of the most brilliant men of his time. Calvin was the Paul of early Protestantism, and the greatest of all the Protestant theologians. To this day his gloomy and nonsensical ideas remain in high esteem among the faithful... He was the true father of Puritanism, which is to say, of the worst obscenity of Western civilization.
I have never consciously "used" humour in my life. Such humour as I may have is one of the elements in which I live. I cannot recall a time when I was not conscious of the deep, heaving, rolling ocean of hilarity that lies so very near the surface of life in most of its aspects. If I am a moralist — and I suppose I am — I am certainly not a gloomy moralist, and if humour finds its way into my work it is because I cannot help it.
Ten years ago the place where we are gathered was an unpeopled, forbidding desert. In the bottom of a gloomy canyon, whose precipitous walls rose to a height of more than a thousand feet, flowed a turbulent, dangerous river. The mountains on either side of the canyon were difficult of access with neither road nor trail, and their rocks were protected by neither trees nor grass from the blazing heat of the sun. The site of Boulder City was a cactus-covered waste. The transformation wrought here in these years is a twentieth-century marvel.
All morning, before the tornado, it had rained. The day was dark and gloomy. The air was heavy. There was no wind. Then the drizzle increased. The heavens seemed to open, pouring down a flood. The day grew black…Then the air was filled with 10,000 things. Boards, poles, cans, garments, stoves, whole sides of the little frame houses, in some cases the houses themselves, were picked up and smashed to earth. And living beings, too. A baby was blown from its mother’s arms. A cow, picked up by the wind, was hurled into the village restaurant.
There’s one bright spot in the generally gloomy picture know as the Pacific Conflict Zone. According to my calculations, by the year 2500 or so we should have killed off every last member of our species who is stupid enough to take part in so futile a pastime as this war between “ideals,” and with luck they won’t have left their genes behind because they’ll typically have been killed at an age when society thinks they’re too young to assume the responsibility of childbearing. After that we may get some peace and quiet for a change.
O power of Love, O wondrous mystery! How is my dark illumined by thy light, That maketh morning of my gloomy night, Setting my soul from Sorrow's bondage free With swift-sent revelation! Yea, I see Beyond the limitation of my sight And senses, comprehending now, aright, Today's proportion to eternity. Through thee, my faith in God is made me sure, My searching eyes have pierced the misty veil; The pain and anguish which stern Sorrow brings Through thee become more easy to endure. Love-strong I mount, and heaven's high summit scale; Through thee, my soul has spread her folded wings.
No author, without a trial, can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything but a commonplace prosperity, in broad and simple daylight, as is happily the case with my dear native land. It will be very long, I trust, before romance writers may find congenial and easily handled themes, either in the annals of our stalwart republic, or in any characteristic and probable events of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens and wallflowers need ruin to make them grow.
The peculiar, withdrawn attitude of the philosopher, world denying, hostile to life, suspicious of the senses, freed from sensuality, which has been maintained down to the most modern times and has become virtually the philosopher’s pose par excellence—is above all a result of the emergency conditions under which philosophy arose and survived at all; for the longest time, philosophy would not have been possible at all on earth without ascetic wraps and cloaks, without an ascetic self-misunderstanding. To put it vividly: the ascetic priest provided until the most modern times the repulsive and gloomy caterpillar form in which alone the philosopher could live and creep about.
There are men who stalk about the world gloomy and stiff and severe — self-righteous embodiments of the mischievous heresy that the religion of peace and good-will to all mankind — the religion of love and hope and joy, the religion that bathes the universal human soul in the light of paternal love, and opens to mankind the gates of immortality — is a religion of terror — men guilty of misrepresenting Christ to the world, and doing incalculable damage to His cause, yet who find it in them to rebuke the careless laughter that bubbles up from a maiden's heart that God has filled with life and gladness.
More than one reader will reproach me no doubt for departing from my first intention and forgetting the lasting happiness I promised my pupil. The sorrowful, the dying, such sights of pain and woe, what happiness, what delight is this for a young heart on the threshold of life? His gloomy tutor, who proposed to give him such a pleasant education, only introduces him to life that he may suffer. This is what they will say, but what do I care? I promised to make him happy, not to make him seem happy. Am I to blame if, deceived as usual by the outward appearances, you take them for the reality?
This is both a gloomy and a hopeful book. The subject itself is gloomy. A Dark Age is a culture's dead end. We in North America and Western Europe, enjoying the many benefits of the culture conventionally known as the West, customarily think of a Dark Age as happening once, long ago, following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. But in North America we live in a graveyard of lost aboriginal cultures, many of which were decisively finished off by mass amnesia in which even the memory of what was lost was also lost. Throughout the world Dark Ages have scrawled finis to successions of cultures receding far into the past.
What varied pleasures we enjoy in this delightful way of travelling, not to speak of increasing health and a cheerful spirit. I notice that those who ride in nice, well-padded carriages are always wrapped in thought, gloomy, fault-finding, or sick; while those who go on foot are always merry, light-hearted, and delighted with everything. How cheerful we are when we get near our lodging for the night! How savoury is the coarse food! How we linger at table enjoying our rest! How soundly we sleep on a hard bed! If you only want to get to a place you may ride in a post-chaise; if you want to travel you must go on foot.
I must confess that my estimate of Lovecraft would not have pleased his most ardent admirers. The view I expressed in that book was that, while Lovecraft was distinctly a creative genius in his own way, his pessimism should not be taken too seriously; that it was the pessimism of a sick recluse, and had about it an element of rassentiment, a kind of desire to take revenge on the world that rejected him. In short, Lovecraft was a 19th century romantic, born in the wrong time. Most men of genius dislike their own age, but the really great ones impose their own vision on the age. The weak ones turn away into a world of gloomy fantasy.
We feel that we are surrounded by the congregated bones of the great men of past times, who have filled history with their deeds, and the earth with their renown. And yet it almost provokes a smile at the vanity of human ambition to see how they are crowded together and jostled in the dust; what parsimony is observed in doling out a scanty nook, a gloomy corner, a little portion of earth, to those whom, when alive, kingdoms could not satisfy, and how many shapes and forms and artifices are devised to catch the casual notice of the passenger, and save from forgetfulness for a few short years a name which once aspired to occupy ages of the world's thought and admiration.
With the blood of Christ to wash away the darkest guilt, and the Spirit of God to sanctify the vilest, and strengthen the weakest nature, I despair of none. Too late! It is never too late. Even old age, tottering to the grave beneath the weight of seventy years and a great load of guilt, may retrace its steps and begin life anew. Hope falls like a sunbeam on the hoary head. I have seen the morning rise cold and gloomy, and the sky grow thicker, and the rain fall faster as the hours wore on; yet, ere he set in night, the sun, bursting through heavy clouds, has broken out to illumine the landscape and shed a flood of glory on the dying day.
In the ages to come man may be able to predict, perhaps even to control,the wayward courses of the winds and the clouds, but hardly will his puny hands have strength to speed afresh our slackening planet in its orbit or rekindle the dying fire of the sun. Yet the philosopher who trembles at the idea of such distant catastrophes may console himself by reflecting that these gloomy apprehensions, like the earth and the sun themselves, are only parts of that unsubstantial world which thought has conjured up out of the void, and that the phantoms which the subtle enchantress has evoked to-day she may ban to-morrow. They too, like so much that to the common eye seems solid, may melt into air, into thin air.
I must confess that my estimate of Lovecraft would not have pleased his most ardent admirers. The view I expressed in that book [i.e., The Strength to Dream: Literature and the Imagination (1961)] was that, while Lovecraft was distinctly a creative genius in his own way, his pessimism should not be taken too seriously: that it was the pessimism of a sick recluse and had about an element of ressentiment, a kind of desire to take revenge on a world that rejected him. In short, Lovecraft was a 19th century romantic, born in the wrong time. Most men of genius dislike their own age, but the really great ones impose their own vision on the age. The weak ones turn away into a world of gloomy fantasy.
But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born — a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun, that pour down the rain, and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to us? Can our gross feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator?
It appears that we moulder to a heap of senseless dust; to a few worms, that arise and perish, like ourselves. Jesus Christ asserts that these appearances are fallacious, and that a gloomy and cold imagination alone suggests the conception that thought can cease to be. Another and a more extensive state of being, rather than the complete extinction of being will follow from that mysterious change which we call Death. There shall be no misery, no pain, no fear. The empire of evil spirits extends not beyond the boundaries of the grave. The unobscured irradiations from the fountain-fire of all goodness shall reveal all that is mysterious and unintelligible, until the mutual communications of knowledge and of happiness throughout all thinking natures, constitute a harmony of good that ever varies and never ends.
On the 14th we made our entrance into the town of El Paso del Norte (This place is often known among Americans as 'The Pass.' It has been suggested in another place, that it took its name from the passing thither of the refugees from the massacre of 1680; yet many persons very rationally derive it from the "passing" of the river (el paso del Rio del Norte) between two points of mountains which project against it from each side, just above the town.), which is the northernmost settlement in the department of Chihuahua. Here our cargo had to be examined by a stern, surly officer, who, it was feared, would lay an embargo on our goods upon the slightest appearance of irregularity in our papers; but notwithstanding our gloomy forebodings, we passed the ordeal without any difficulty.
Lord Jesus Christ, our foolish minds are weak; they are more than willing to be drawn-and there is so much that wants to draw us to itself. There is pleasure with its seductive power, the multiplicity with its bewildering distractions, the moment with its infatuating importance and the conceited laboriousness of busyness and the careless time-wasting of light-mindedness and the gloomy brooding of heavy-mindedness-all this will draw us away from ourselves to itself in order to deceive us. But you, who are truth, only you, our Savior and Redeemer, can truly draw to person to yourself, which you have promised to do-that you will draw all to yourself. Then may God grant that by repenting we may come to ourselves, so that you, according to your Word, can draw us to yourself-from on high, but through lowliness and abasement.
Words are not deeds. In published poems — we think first of Eliot's "Jew", words edge closer to deeds. In Céline's anti-Semitic textbooks, words get as close to deeds as words can well get. Blood libels scrawled on front doors are deed. In a correspondence, words are hardly even words. They are soundless cries and whispers, "gouts of bile," as Larkin characterized his political opinions, ways of saying, "Gloomy old sod, aren't I?" Or more simply, "Grrr." Correspondences are self-dramatizations. Above all, a word in a letter is never your last word on any subject. There was no public side to Larkin's prejudices, and nothing that could be construed as a racist — the word suggest a system of thought, rather than an absence of thought, which would be closer to the reality, closer to the jolts and twitches of self response.
I have somewhere found it recorded that as Johann Gottlieb Fichte progressed with his first reading of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason," he was moved to tears. To those who have labored through the tortured pages of the great German thinker this would be no matter for surprise, were it not for the quality of the tears: not those of vexation and baffled understanding, indeed, but of enthusiasm and sheer gratitude. For Fichte had fallen into the melancholy persuasion of Spinoza. At least, certain views of this austere thinker of the seventeenth century appeared to Fichte as no less gloomy in their implication than irresistible in the logic which led to them. Irresistible were the reasons which had driven Spinoza to look upon nature as governed by inexorable Fate. In the world as a whole there was no purpose, in its parts there was no freedom.
As for New England as a seat of weirdness—a little historic reflection will show why it is more naturally redolent of the bizarre & the sinister than any other part of America. It was here that the most gloomy-minded of all the colonists settled; & here that the dark moods & cryptic hills pressed closest. An abnormal Puritan psychology led to all kinds of repression, furtiveness, & grotesque hidden crime, while the long winders & backwoods isolation fostered monstrous secrets which never came to light. To me there is nothing more fraught with mystery & terror than a remote Massachusetts farmhouse against a lonely hill. Where else could an outbreak like the Salem witchcraft have occurred? Rhode Island does not share these tenedencies—its history & settlement being different from those of other parts of New England—but just across the line in the old Bay State the macabre broods at its strongest.
The best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration. Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert's knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.
To judge of it, let the reader put himself in my place. I saw all the happy future which I had depicted to myself vanish in a moment. All the dreams of happiness which I had so fondly cherished disappeared, and I, who from my youth had never considered my existence except in connection with hers, for the first time found myself alone. This moment was frightful! those which followed were all gloomy. I was still young, but the pleasant feeling of enjoyment and hope which animates youth, deserted me for ever. From that time my sensible being was half-dead. I saw nothing before me but the melancholy remains of an insipid life: and, if now and again an image of happiness floated lightly across my desires, this happiness was no longer that which was peculiarly my own: I felt that, even if I succeeded in obtaining it, I should still not be really happy.
He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.
The day I became a poet was a sunny day of no particular ominousness. I was walking across the football field, not because I was sports-minded or had plans to smoke a cigarette behind the field house — the only other reason for going there — but because this was my normal way home from school. I was scuttling along in my usual furtive way, suspecting no ill, when a large invisible thumb descended from the sky and pressed down on the top of my head. A poem formed. It was quite a gloomy poem: the poems of the young usually are. It was a gift, this poem — a gift from an anonymous donor, and, as such, both exciting and sinister at the same time. I suspect this is the way all poets begin writing poetry, only they don't want to admit it, so they make up more rational explanations. But this is the true explanation, and I defy anyone to disprove it.
The usual thing — the statistically normal thing — is for the speaker to tell the graduating class that they are going out into a world torn by dissent, racked by problems of unprecedented knottiness and difficulty, and headed for the abyss of destruction unless the graduating class shoulders its burden and does something splendid to put everything right. The speaker generally admits that he is at the end of his tether: he is old, and broken on the wheel of Fate; his decrepitude and his wounds have been received in this great battle with the world's problems. Nothing — absolutely nothing — is to be expected of him in the future. From his failing hands he throws the torch; he plants the task of setting the world right square on the graduating class. He says that he does it with confidence. But he is usually so gloomy that one wonders how much his confidence is worth. Sometimes one gets the impression that immediately after Convocation he is going home to die.
In a time of sickness with the pleurisy, a little upward of two years and a half ago, I was brought so near the gates of death that I forgot my name. Being then desirous to know who I was, I saw a mass of matter of a dull, gloomy color, between the south and the east; and was informed that this mass was human beings in as great misery as they could be and live; and that I was mixed in with them, and that henceforth I might not consider myself as a distinct or separate being. In this state I remained several hours. I then heard a soft, melodious voice, more pure and harmonious than any I had heard with my ears before; I believed it was the voice of an angel, who spake to the other angels. The words were: “John Woolman is dead.” I soon remembered that I once was John Woolman, and being assured that I was alive in the body, I greatly wondered what that heavenly voice could mean.
One of the most terrifying aspects of publishing stories and books is the realization that they are going to be read, and read by strangers. I had never fully realized this before, although I had of course in my imagination dwelt lovingly upon the thought of the millions and millions of people who were going to be uplifted and enriched and delighted by the stories I wrote. It had simply never occurred to me that these the millions and millions of people might be so far from being uplifted that they would sit down and write me letters I was downright scared to open; of the three-hundred-odd letters that I received that summer I can count only thirteen that spoke kindly to me, and they were mostly from friends. Even my mother scolded me: "Dad and I did not care at all for your story in The New Yorker," she wrote sternly; "it does seem, dear, that this gloomy kind of story is what all you young people think about these days. Why don't you write something to cheer people up?"
During the late contest for the Union, the air was full of 'nevers', every one of which was contradicted and put to shame by the result, and I doubt not that most of those we now hear in our troubled air will meet the same fate. It is probably well for us that some of our gloomy prophets are limited in their powers to prediction. Could they commend the destructive bolt, as readily as they commend the destructive word, it is hard to say what might happen to the country. They might fulfill their own gloomy prophecies. Of course it is easy to see why certain other classes of men speak hopelessly concerning us. A Government founded upon justice, and recognizing the equal rights of all men; claiming no higher authority for its existence, or sanction for its laws, than nature, reason and the regularly ascertained will of the people; steadily refusing to put its sword and purse in the service of any religious creed or family, is a standing offense to most of the governments of the world, and to some narrow and bigoted people among ourselves.
To those who doubt and deny the preponderance of good over evil in human nature; who think the few are made to rule, and the many to serve; who put rank above brotherhood, and race above humanity; who attach more importance to ancient forms than to the living realities of the present; who worship power in whatever hands it may be lodged and by whatever means it may have been obtained; our government is a mountain of sin, and, what is worse, it seems confirmed in its transgressions. One of the latest and most potent European prophets, one who felt himself called upon for a special deliverance concerning us and our destiny as a nation, was the late Thomas Carlyle. He described us as rushing to ruin, and when we may expect to reach the terrible end, our gloomy prophet, enveloped in the fogs of London, has not been pleased to tell us. Warning and advice from any quarter are not to be despised, and especially not from one so eminent as Mr. Carlyle; and yet Americans will find it hard to heed even men like him, while the animus is so apparent, bitter and perverse.
This sign I give unto you: every people speaketh its language of good and evil: this its neighbour understandeth not. Its language hath it devised for itself in laws and customs. But the state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen. False is everything in it; with stolen teeth it biteth, the biting one. False are even its bowels. Confusion of language of good and evil; this sign I give unto you as the sign of the state. Verily, the will to death, indicateth this sign! Verily, it beckoneth unto the preachers of death! Many too many are born: for the superfluous ones was the state devised! See just how it enticeth them to it, the many-too-many! How it swalloweth and cheweth and recheweth them! "On earth there is nothing greater than I: it is I who am the regulating finger of God." — thus roareth the monster. And not only the long-eared and short-sighted fall upon their knees! Ah! even in your ears, ye great souls, it whispereth its gloomy lies! Ah! it findeth out the rich hearts which willingly lavish themselves!
Well it's a gloomy, rainy old day to be here in London, but it could be worse; I could be in Saudi Arabia where men are men, and women are cattle. Can I say that? The Saudi Arabian Human Rights Commission - now there's a collection of words to boggle the mind, but apparently this organization does actually exist - intends to complain this month at an event in Copenhagen that Muslims living in Europe are denied human rights and are not allowed to freely practice their religion. How about that, folks, we're being lectured on human rights by Saudi Arabia! What's next, animal welfare from the Koreans? I mean, does it get any more surreal, you ask? Well, yes apparently it does, because they also want us to stop linking Islam with terrorism. Pretty rich coming from the guardians of Islam, and the guardians of terrorism. Now, in a sane society, the guy who stands up to make this speech would be bum-rushed out the door the moment he opened his mouth, or even better, run out of town on a rail and dumped in a river. But this is Europe, and we will probably listen to what he says, take it all on board and change our ways to accommodate them, as usual.
The sky above Belgrade is wide and high, unstable but always beautiful; even during winter serenities with their icy splendour; even during summer storms when the whole of it turns into a single gloomy cloud which, driven by the mad wind, carries the rain mixed with the dust of panonian plain; even in spring when it seems that it also blooms, along with the ground; even in autumn when it grows heavy with the autumn stars in swarms. Always beautiful and rich, as a compensation to this strange town for everything that isn't there, and a consolation because of everything that shouldn't be there. But the greatest splendour of that sky above Belgrade, that are the sunsets. In autumn and in summer, they are broad and bright like desert mirages, and in winter they are smothered by murky clouds and dark red hazes. And in every time of year frequently come the days when the flame of that sun setting in the plain, between the rivers beneath Belgrade, gets reflected way up in the high celestial dome, and it breaks there and pours down over the scattered town. Then, for a moment, the reddish tint of the sun paints even the remotest corners of Belgrade and reflects into the windows, even of those houses it otherwise poorly illuminates.
Earlier, I have cautioned you against an outright pragmatist approach. Now I am cautioning you against an outright populist approach. Sometimes a populist decision is, in the long run, not beneficial to the masses. Neither pragmatism nor populism are fundamental political and socio-economic doctrines. Nor do I say that you should play it by ear. I have made this melancholy analysis in anguish. My jail surroundings have not influenced my objectivity. I do not want to see the whole world in a death-cell merely because I am in a death cell. I do not say that the High Court has pronounced a death sentence on the world because a law court has pronounced a perverse death sentence on me. I would be the happiest man if the gloomy winter of mankind were to give way to a shaft of sunlight and to coloured flowers. The world is very beautiful. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever". There is the beauty of the landscape, of the tall mountain, the green plains, the humped deserts. There is the beauty of the flowers and the forests, of the azure oceans and the meandering rivers. There is the splendour of architecture, the magnificence of music, and the sparkle of the dance. Above all, there is the beauty of man and woman, the most perfect creations of God.
If you accept the ordinary laws of science, you have to suppose that human life and life in general on this planet will die out in due course: it is a stage in the decay of the solar system... You see in the moon the sort of thing to which the earth is tending – something dead, cold, and lifeless. I am told that that sort of view is depressing, and people will sometimes tell you that if they believed that, they would not be able to go on living. Do not believe it; it is all nonsense. Nobody really worries much about what is going to happen millions of years hence. Even if they think they are worrying much about that, they are really deceiving themselves. They are worried about something much more mundane, or it may merely be a bad digestion; but nobody is really seriously rendered unhappy by the thought of something that is going to happen to this world millions and millions of years hence. Therefore, although it is of course a gloomy view to suppose that life will die out – at least I suppose we may say so, although sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think it is almost a consolation – it is not such as to render life miserable. It merely makes you turn your attention to other things.
When Bonaparte was to be dethroned, the Sovereigns of Europe called up their people to their aid; they invoked them in the sacred names of Freedom and National Independence; the cry went forth throughout Europe: and those, whom Subsidies had no power to buy, and Conscriptions no force to compel, roused by the magic sound of Constitutional Rights, started spontaneously into arms. The long-suffering Nations of Europe rose up as one man, and by an effort tremendous and wide spreading, like a great convulsion of nature, they hurled the conqueror from his throne. But promises made in days of distress, were forgotten in the hour of triumph...The rulers of mankind...had set free a gigantic spirit from its iron prison, but when that spirit had done their bidding, they shrunk back with alarm, from the vastness of that power, which they themselves had set into action, and modestly requested, it would go down again into its former dungeon. Hence, that gloomy discontent, that restless disquiet, that murmuring sullenness, which pervaded Europe after the overthrow of Bonaparte; and which were so unlike that joyful gladness, which might have been looked for, among men, who had just been released from the galling yoke of a foreign and a military tyrant. In 1820 the long brooding fire burst out into open flame; in Germany it was still kept down and smothered, but in Italy, in Spain, and in Portugal, it overpowered every resistance.
How emphatically would I speak if it were not so hopeless to keep struggling in vain on behalf of a real reform. More depends on this than you realise. Would you restore all men to their primal duties, begin with the mothers; the results will surprise you. Every evil follows in the train of this first sin; the whole moral order is disturbed, nature is quenched in every breast, the home becomes gloomy, the spectacle of a young family no longer stirs the husband's love and the stranger's reverence. The mother whose children are out of sight wins scanty esteem; there is no home life, the ties of nature are not strengthened by those of habit; fathers, mothers, children, brothers, and sisters cease to exist. They are almost strangers; how should they love one another? Each thinks of himself first. When the home is a gloomy solitude pleasure will be sought elsewhere. The charms of home are the best antidote to vice. The noisy play of children, which we thought so trying, becomes a delight; mother and father rely more on each other and grow dearer to one another; the marriage tie is strengthened. In the cheerful home life the mother finds her sweetest duties and the father his pleasantest recreation. Thus the cure of this one evil would work a wide-spread reformation; nature would regain her rights. When women become good mothers, men will be good husbands and fathers.
Mister Speaker, let us learn a lesson from the dealing of God with the Jewish nation. When his chosen people, led by the pillar of cloud and fire, had crossed the Red Sea and traversed the gloomy wilderness with its thundering Sinai, its bloody battles, disastrous defeats, and glorious victories ; when near the end of their perilous pilgrimage they listened to the last words of blessing and warning from their great leader before he was buried with immortal honors by the angel of the Lord ; when at last the victorious host, sadly joyful, stood on the banks of the Jordan, their enemies drowned in the sea or slain in the wilderness, they paused and made solemn preparation to pass over and possess the land of promise. By the command of God, given through Moses and enforced by his great successor, the ark of the covenant, containing the tables of the law and the sacred memorials of their pilgrimage, was borne by chosen men two thousand cubits in advance of the people. On the further shore stood Ebal and Gerizim, the mounts of cursing and blessing, from which, in the hearing of all the people, were pronounced the curses of God against injustice and disobedience, and his blessing upon justice and obedience. On the shore, between the mountains and in the midst of the people, a monument was erected, and on it were written the words of the law, 'to be a memorial unto the children of Israel forever and ever.'.
It was during the year 1851, while living almost unhappily among thoughtless, if not bad companions, in Gower Street a gloomy house on which I now look with dread it was then, and when I had got a quiet hour in my small bedroom at the top of the house, that I began to think that I could and ought to do more than others. A vague desire and determination grew upon me. I was then in the habit of saying my prayers like any good church person, and it was when so engaged that I thought most eagerly of the future, and hoped for the unknown. My reserve was so perfect that I suppose no one had the slightest comprehension of my motives or ends. My father probably knew me but little. I never had any confidential conversation with him. At school and college the success in the classes was the only indication of my powers. All else that I intended or did was within or carefully hidden. The reserved character, as I have often thought, is not pleasant nor lovely. But is it not necessary to one such as I? Would it have been sensible or even possible for a boy of fifteen or sixteen to say what he was going to do before he was fifty? For my own part I felt it to be almost presumptuous to pronounce to myself the hopes I held and the schemes I formed. Time alone could reveal whether they were empty or real ; only when proved real could they be known to others.
I thought of the long ages of the past, during which the successive generations of this little creature had run their course — year by year being born, and living and dying amid these dark and gloomy woods, with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness; to all appearance such a wanton waste of beauty. Such ideas excite a feeling of melancholy. It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions, doomed for ages yet to come to hopeless barbarism; while, on the other hand, should civilized man ever reach these distant lands, and bring moral, intellectual, and physical light into the recesses of these virgin forests, we may be sure that he will so disturb the nicely-balanced relations of organic and inorganic nature as to cause the disappearance, and finally the extinction, of these very beings whose wonderful structure and beauty he alone is fitted to appreciate and enjoy. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man. Many of them have no relation to him. The cycle of their existence has gone on independently of his, and is disturbed or broken by every advance in man’s intellectual development; and their happiness and enjoyments, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone, limited only by the equal well-being and perpetuation of the numberless other organisms with which each is more or less intimately connected.
Jesus’ “mysterious” affection for the sinners, which is closely related to his ever-ready militancy against the scribes and pharisees, against every kind of social respectability … contains a kind of awareness that the great transformation of life, the radical change in outlook he demands of man (in Christian parlance it is called “rebirth”) is more accessible to the sinner than to the “just.” … Jesus is deeply skeptical toward all those who can feign the good man’s blissful existence through the simple lack of strong instincts and vitality. But all this does not suffice to explain this mysterious affection. In it there is something which can scarcely be expressed and must be felt. When the noblest men are in the company of the “good”—even of the truly “good,” not only of the pharisees—they are often overcome by a sudden impetuous yearning to go to the sinners, to suffer and struggle at their side and to share their grievous, gloomy lives. This is truly no temptation by the pleasures of sin, nor a demoniacal love for its “sweetness,” nor the attraction of the forbidden or the lure of novel experiences. It is an outburst of tempestuous love and tempestuous compassion for all men who are felt as one, indeed for the universe as a whole; a love which makes it seem frightful that only some should be “good,” while the others are “bad” and reprobate. In such moments, love and a deep sense of solidarity are repelled by the thought that we alone should be “good,” together with some others. This fills us with a kind of loathing for those who can accept this privilege, and we have an urge to move away from them.
It was during the memorable retreat from Moscow that Mr. Nicholas B., in company of two brother officers — as to whose morality and natural refinement I know nothing — bagged a dog on the outskirts of a village and subsequently devoured him. As far as I can remember the weapon used was a cavalry sabre, and the issue of the sporting episode was rather more of a matter of life and death than if it had been an encounter with a tiger... The dog barked. And if he had done no more than bark three officers of the Great Napoleon's army would have perished honourably on the points of Cossack's lances, or perchance escaping the chase would have died decently of starvation. But before they had time to think of running away, that fatal and revolting dog, being carried away by the excess of his zeal, dashed out through a gap in the fence. He dashed out and died. His head, I understand, was severed at one blow from his body. I understand also that later on, within the gloomy solitudes of the snow-laden woods, when, in a sheltering hollow, a fire had been lit by the party, the condition of the quarry was discovered to be distinctly unsatisfactory. It was not thin — on the contrary, it seemed unhealthily obese; its skin showed bare patches of an unpleasant character. However, they had not killed that dog for the sake of the pelt. He was large. . .He was eaten. . .The rest is silence. . . A silence in which a small boy shudders and says firmly: "I could not have eaten that dog." And his grandmother remarks with a smile: "Perhaps you don't know what it is to be hungry."
It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population. Several generations have elapsed since the nations of the West have drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis—as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed.
Few men have had to struggle for so many years with circumstances more straitened and precarious than my father; few men have ventured to attack so many or such inveterate prejudices respecting the prevalent religion of his country, or have advanced bolder or more important opinions in opposition to the courtly politics of the powers that be; few have had to encounter more able opponents in his literary career, or have been exposed to such incessant and vindictive obloquy, from men of every description, in return for his unremitting exertions in the cause of truth; yet none have more uniformly proceeded with a single eye, regardless of consequences, to act as his conviction impelled him, and his conscience dictated. His conduct brought with it its own reward, reputation, and respect, from the most eminent of his contemporaries, the affectionate attachment of most valuable friends, and a cheerfulness of disposition arising in part from conscious rectitude which no misfortunes could long repress. But to me it seems, that conscious rectitude alone would hardly of itself have been able to support him under some of the afflictions he was doomed to bear. He had a farther resource, to him never failing and invaluable, a firm persuasion of the benevolence of the Almighty towards all his creatures, and the conviction that every part of his own life, like every part of the whole system, was preordained for the best upon the whole of existence. Had he entertained the gloomy notions of Calvinism, in which he was brought up, this cheering source of contentment and resignation would probably have failed him, and irritation and despondency would have gained an unhappy ascendancy. But by him the deity was not regarded as an avenging tyrant, punishing, for the sake of punishing his weak and imperfect creatures, but as a wise and kind parent, inflicting those corrections only that are necessary to bring our dispositions to the proper temper, and to fit us for the highest state of happiness of which our natures are ultimately capable.
The chief risks occur at the beginning of life; the shorter our past life, the less we must hope to live. Of all the children who are born scarcely one half reach adolescence, and it is very likely your pupil will not live to be a man. What is to be thought, therefore, of that cruel education which sacrifices the present to an uncertain future, that burdens a child with all sorts of restrictions and begins by making him miserable, in order to prepare him for some far-off happiness which he may never enjoy? Even if I considered that education wise in its aims, how could I view without indignation those poor wretches subjected to an intolerable slavery and condemned like galley-slaves to endless toil, with no certainty that they will gain anything by it? The age of harmless mirth is spent in tears, punishments, threats, and slavery. You torment the poor thing for his good; you fail to see that you are calling Death to snatch him from these gloomy surroundings. Who can say how many children fall victims to the excessive care of their fathers and mothers? They are happy to escape from this cruelty; this is all that they gain from the ills they are forced to endure: they die without regretting, having known nothing of life but its sorrows. Men, be kind to your fellow-men; this is your first duty, kind to every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity. What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Love childhood, indulge its sports, its pleasures, its delightful instincts. Who has not sometimes regretted that age when laughter was ever on the lips, and when the heart was ever at peace? Why rob these innocents of the joys which pass so quickly, of that precious gift which they cannot abuse? Why fill with bitterness the fleeting days of early childhood, days which will no more return for them than for you? Fathers, can you tell when death will call your children to him? Do not lay up sorrow for yourselves by robbing them of the short span which nature has allotted to them. As soon as they are aware of the joy of life, let them rejoice in it, go that whenever God calls them they may not die without having tasted the joy of life.
The second stage is like this: When God has drawn a person so far away from all things, and he is no longer a child and he has been strengthened with the comfort of sweetness. Then indeed one gives him coarse rye bread. He has become a man and has reached maturity. Solid, strong food is what is good and useful for a grown man. He shouldn't be given milk and soft bread any longer, and such is withheld from him. He is then led on a terribly wild path, very gloomy and forsaken. And on this path God takes back from him everything that he had ever given him. Then and there the person is left so completely to himself that he loses all notion of God and gets into such a distressful state that he cannot remember whether things had ever gone right for him, so as not to know any more if he were ever on the right path, whether he has a God or not, nor does he know if God does or does not exist, or if he is alive or dead and whether he is the same person; and he suffers such incredible pain that this whole wide world is too confining for him. A very strange sorrow comes over him that makes him think that the whole world in its expanse oppresses him. He neither has any feeling for nor knowledge of God, and he has no liking for any other things and even all the rest seems repugnant to him, so that it seems that he is a prisoners between two walls. It seems to him that he is suspended between two walls with a sword in back of him and a sharp spear in front. What does he do then? He can go neither forward nor back. He can only sit down and say, "Hail, bitterer bitterness, full of grace!" If there could be hell in this life, this would seem to be more than hell - to be bereft of loving and the good thing loved. Anything that one might say to such a person would console him about as much as a stone. And he could stand even less hearing about creatures. The more the sense of and feel for God stood formerly in the foreground, the greater and more unendurable are the bitterness and misery of this abandonment.
It is just as ridiculous to get excited & hysterical over a coming cultural change as to get excited & hysterical over one's physical aging . . . There is legitimate pathos about both processes; but blame & rebellion are essentially cheap, because inappropriate, emotions . . . It is wholly appropriate to feel a deep sadness at the coming of unknown things & the departure of those around which all our symbolic associations are entwined. All life is fundamentally & inextricably sad, with the perpetual snatching away of all the chance combinations of image & vista & mood that we become attached to, & the perpetual encroachment of the shadow of decay upon illusions of expansion & liberation which buoyed us up & spurred us on in youth. That is why I consider all jauntiness, & many forms of carelessly generalised humour, as essentially cheap & mocking, & occasionally ghastly & corpselike. Jauntiness & non-ironic humour in this world of basic & inescapable sadness are like the hysterical dances that a madman might execute on the grave of all his hopes. But if, at one extreme, intellectual poses of spurious happiness be cheap & disgusting; so at the other extreme are all gestures & fist-clenchings of rebellion equally silly & inappropriate—if not quite so overtly repulsive. All these things are ridiculous & contemptible because they are not legitimately applicable . . . The sole sensible way to face the cosmos & its essential sadness (an adumbration of true tragedy which no destruction of values can touch) is with manly resignation—eyes open to the real facts of perpetual frustration, & mind & sense alert to catch what little pleasure there is to be caught during one's brief instant of existence. Once we know, as a matter of course, how nature inescapably sets our freedom-adventure-expansion desires, & our symbol-&-experience-affections, definitely beyond all zones of possible fulfilment, we are in a sense fortified in advance, & able to endure the ordeal of consciousness with considerable equanimity . . . Life, if well filled with distracting images & activities favourable to the ego's sense of expansion, freedom, & adventurous expectancy, can be very far from gloomy—& the best way to achieve this condition is to get rid of the unnatural conceptions which make conscious evils out of impersonal and inevitable limitations . . . get rid of these, & of those false & unattainable standards which breed misery & mockery through their beckoning emptiness.
Again, monopoly destroys pleasure. Real pleasures are those which we share with the crowd; we lose what we try to keep to ourselves alone. If the walls I build round my park transform it into a gloomy prison, I have only deprived myself, at great expense, of the pleasure of a walk; I must now seek that pleasure at a distance. The demon of property spoils everything he lays hands upon. A rich man wants to be master everywhere, and he is never happy where he is; he is continually driven to flee from himself. I shall therefore continue to do in my prosperity what I did in my poverty. Henceforward, richer in the wealth of others than I ever shall be in my own wealth, I will take possession of everything in my neighbourhood that takes my fancy; no conqueror is so determined as I; I even usurp the rights of princes; I take possession of every open place that pleases me, I give them names; this is my park, chat is my terrace, and I am their owner; henceforward I wander among them at will; I often return to maintain my proprietary rights; I make what use I choose of the ground to walk upon, and you will never convince me that the nominal owner of the property which I have appropriated gets better value out of the money it yields him than I do out of his land. No matter if I am interrupted by hedges and ditches, I take my park on my back, and I carry it elsewhere; there will be space enough for it near at hand, and I may plunder my neighbours long enough before I outstay my welcome. This is an attempt to show what is meant by good taste in the choice of pleasant occupations for our leisure hours; this is the spirit of enjoyment; all else is illusion, fancy, and foolish pride. He who disobeys these rules, however rich he may be, will devour his gold on a dung-hill, and will never know what it is to live. You will say, no doubt, that such amusements lie within the reach of all, that we need not be rich to enjoy them. That is the very point I was coming to. Pleasure is ours when we want it; it is only social prejudice which makes everything hard to obtain, and drives pleasure before us. To be happy is a hundredfold easier than it seems. If he really desires to enjoy himself the man of taste has no need of riches; all he wants is to be free and to be his own master. With health and daily bread we are rich enough, if we will but get rid of our prejudices; this is the "Golden Mean" of Horace.
Touched with compassion towards human weaknesses through the profound conviction of his own failings, he viewed all men as the victims of their own vices and those of others; he beheld the poor groaning under the tyranny of the rich, and the rich under the tyranny of their own prejudices. "Believe me," said he, "our illusions, far from concealing our woes, only increase them by giving value to what is in itself valueless, in making us aware of all sorts of fancied privations which we should not otherwise feel. Peace of heart consists in despising everything that might disturb that peace; the man who clings most closely to life is the man who can least enjoy it; and the man who most eagerly desires happiness is always most miserable." "What gloomy ideas!" I exclaimed bitterly. "If we must deny ourselves everything, we might as well never have been born; and if we must despise even happiness itself who can be happy?" "I am," replied the priest one day, in a tone which made a great impression on me. "You happy! So little favoured by fortune, so poor, an exile and persecuted, you are happy! How have you contrived to be happy?" "My child," he answered, "I will gladly tell you." Thereupon he explained that, having heard my confessions, he would confess to me. "I will open my whole heart to yours," he said, embracing me. "You will see me, if not as I am, at least as I seem to myself. When you have heard my whole confession of faith, when you really know the condition of my heart, you will know why I think myself happy, and if you think as I do, you will know how to be happy too. But these explanations are not the affair of a moment, it will take time to show you all my ideas about the lot of man and the true value of life; let us choose a fitting time and a place where we may continue this conversation without interruption." I showed him how eager I was to hear him. The meeting was fixed for the very next morning. It was summer time; we rose at daybreak. He took me out of the town on to a high hill above the river Po, whose course we beheld as it flowed between its fertile banks; in the distance the landscape was crowned by the vast chain of the Alps; the beams of the rising sun already touched the plains and cast across the fields long shadows of trees, hillocks, and houses, and enriched with a thousand gleams of light the fairest picture which the human eye can see. You would have thought that nature was displaying all her splendour before our eyes to furnish a text for our conversation. After contemplating this scene for a space in silence, the man of peace spoke to me.
It is childish to talk of happiness and unhappiness where infinity is in question. The idea which we entertain of happiness and unhappiness is something so special, so human, so fragile that it does not exceed our stature and falls to dust as soon as we go beyond its little sphere. It proceeds entirely from a few accidents of our nerves, which are made to appreciate very slight happenings, but which could as easily have felt everything the reverse way and taken pleasure in that which is now pain. We believe that we see nothing hanging over us but catastrophes, deaths, torments and disasters; we shiver at the mere thought of the great interplanetary spaces, with their cold and formidable and gloomy solitudes; and we imagine that the revolving worlds are as unhappy as ourselves because they freeze, or clash together, or are consumed in unutterable flames. We infer from this that the genius of the universe is an outrageous tyrant, seized with a monstrous madness, and that it delights only in the torture of itself and all that it contains. To millions of stars, each many thousand times larger than our sun, to nebulee whose nature and dimensions no figure, no word in our languages is able to express, we attribute our momentary sensibility, the little ephemeral and chance working of our nerves; and we are convinced that life there must be impossible or appalling, because we should feel too hot or too cold. It were much wiser to say to ourselves that it would need but a trifle, a few papilla more or less to our skin, the slightest modification of our eyes and ears, to turn the temperature, the silence and the darkness of space into a delicious spring-time, an unequalled music, a divine light. It were much more reasonable to persuade ourselves that the catastrophes which we think that we behold are life itself, the joy and one or other of those immense festivals of mind and matter in which death, thrusting aside at last our two enemies, time and space, will soon permit us to take part. Each world dissolving, extinguished, crumbling, burnt or colliding with another world and pulverized means the commencement of a magnificent experiment, the dawn of a marvelous hope and perhaps an unexpected happiness drawn direct from the inexhaustible unknown. What though they freeze or flame, collect or disperse, pursue or flee one another: mind and matter, no longer united by the same pitiful hazard that joined them in us, must rejoice at all that happens; for all is but birth and re-birth, a departure into an unknown filled with wonderful promises and maybe an anticipation of some unutterable event … And, should they stand still one day, become fixed and remain motionless, it will not be that they have encountered calamity, nullity or death; but they will have entered into a thing so fair, so great, so happy and bathed in such certainties that they will for ever prefer it to all the prodigious chances of an infinity which nothing can impoverish.
My only set rule would be this: wherever I was I would pay no heed to anything else. I would take each day as it came, as if there were neither yesterday nor to-morrow. As I should be a man of the people, with the populace, I should be a countryman in the fields; and if I spoke of farming, the peasant should not laugh at my expense. I would not go and build a town in the country nor erect the Tuileries at the door of my lodgings. On some pleasant shady hill-side I would have a little cottage, a white house with green shutters, and though a thatched roof is the best all the year round, I would be grand enough to have, not those gloomy slates, but tiles, because they look brighter and more cheerful than thatch, and the houses in my own country are always roofed with them, and so they would recall to me something of the happy days of my youth. There I would gather round me a company, select rather than numerous, a band of friends who know what pleasure is, and how to enjoy it, women who can leave their arm-chairs and betake themselves to outdoor sports, women who can exchange the shuttle or the cards for the fishing line or the bird-trap, the gleaner's rake or grape-gatherer's basket. There all the pretensions of the town will be forgotten, and we shall be villagers in a village; we shall find all sorts of different sports and we shall hardly know how to choose the morrow's occupation. Exercise and an active life will improve our digestion and modify our tastes. Every meal will be a feast, where plenty will be more pleasing than any delicacies. There are no such cooks in the world as mirth, rural pursuits, and merry games; and the finest made dishes are quite ridiculous in the eyes of people who have been on foot since early dawn. Our meals will be served without regard to order or elegance; we shall make our dining-room anywhere, in the garden, on a boat, beneath a tree; sometimes at a distance from the house on the banks of a running stream, on the fresh green grass, among the clumps of willow and hazel; a long procession of guests will carry the material for the feast with laughter and singing; the turf will be our chairs and table, the banks of the stream our side-board, and our dessert is hanging on the trees; the dishes will be served in any order, appetite needs no ceremony; each one of us, openly putting himself first, would gladly see every one else do the same; from this warm-hearted and temperate familiarity there would arise, without coarseness, pretence, or constraint, a laughing conflict a hundredfold more delightful than politeness, and more likely to cement our friendship. No tedious flunkeys to listen to our words, to whisper criticisms on our behaviour, to count every mouthful with greedy eyes, to amuse themselves by keeping us waiting for our wine, to complain of the length of our dinner. We will be our own servants, in order to be our own masters. Time will fly unheeded, our meal will be an interval of rest during the heat of the day. If some peasant comes our way, returning from his work with his tools over his shoulder, I will cheer his heart with kindly words, and a glass or two of good wine, which will help him to bear his poverty more cheerfully; and I too shall have the joy of feeling my heart stirred within me, and I should say to myself—I too am a man. If the inhabitants of the district assembled for some rustic feast, I and my friends would be there among the first; if there were marriages, more blessed than those of towns, celebrated near my home, every one would know how I love to see people happy, and I should be invited. I would take these good folks some gift as simple as themselves, a gift which would be my share of the feast; and in exchange I should obtain gifts beyond price, gifts so little known among my equals, the gifts of freedom and true pleasure. I should sup gaily at the head of their long table; I should join in the chorus of some rustic song and I should dance in the barn more merrily than at a ball in the Opera House.