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Man is the sensorium commune of nature, the point at which all values are interchanged. Mind is the plastic medium, the principle, and the result of all; at once material and laboratory, product and formula, sensation, expression, and law; that which is, that which does, that which knows. All is not mind, but mind is in all, and contains all. It is the consciousness of being – that is, Being raised to the second power. If the universe subsists, it is because the Eternal mind loves to perceive its own content, in all its wealth and expansion — especially in its stages of preparation. Not that God is an egotist. He allows myriads upon myriads of suns to disport themselves in His shadow; He grants life and consciousness to innumerable multitudes of creatures who thus participate in being and in nature; and all these animated monads multiply, so to speak, His divinity.
4th August 1880. -I have read a few numbers of the Feuille Centrale de Zofingen.* It is one of those perpetual new beginnings of youth which thinks it is producing something fresh when it is only repeating the old.
* The journal of a students' society, drawn from the different cantons of Switzerland, which meets every year in the little town of Zofingen.
Nature is governed by continuity — the continuity of repetition ; it is like an ofttold tale, or the recurring burthen of a song. The rose-trees are never tired of rose-bearing, the birds of nest-building, young hearts of loving, or young voices of singing the thoughts and feelings which have served their predecessors a hundred thousand times before. Profound monotony in universal movement, there is the simplest formula furnished by the spectacle of the world. All circles are alike, and every existence tends to trace its circle.
How, then, is fastidium to be avoided ? By shutting our eyes to the general uniformity, by laying stress upon the small differences which exist, and then by learning to enjoy repetition. What to the intellect is old and worn-out is perennially young and fresh to the heart; curiosity is insatiable, but love is never tired. The natural preservative against satiety, too, is work. What we do may weary others, but the personal effort is at least useful to its author. Where every one works, the general life is sure to possess charm and savour, even though it repeat for ever the same song, the same aspirations, the same prejudices, and the same sighs. “To every man his turn,' is the motto of mortal beings. If what they do is old, they themselves are new ; when they imitate, they think they are inventing. They have received, and they transmit. E sempre bene!
24th August 1880. — As years go on I love the beautiful more than the sublime, the smooth more than the rough, the calm nobility of Plato more than the fierce holiness of the world's Jeremiahs. The vehement barbarian is to me the inferior of the mild and playful Socrates. My taste is for the well-balanced soul and the welltrained heart - for a liberty which is not harsh and insolent, like that of the newly enfranchised slave, but lovable. The temperament which charms me is that in which one virtue leads naturally to another. All exclusive and sharply-marked qualities are but so many signs of imperfection.
29th August 1880. — To-day I am conscious of improvement. I am taking advantage of it to go back to my neglected work and my interrupted habits ; but in a week I have grown several months older,
- that is easy to see.
The affection of those around me makes them pretend not to see it; but the looking-glass tells the truth. The fact does not take away from the pleasure of convalescence ; but still one hears in it the shuttle of destiny, and death seems to be nearing rapidly, in spite of the halts and truces which are granted one. The most beautiful existence, it seems to me, would be that of a river which should get through all its rapids and waterfalls not far from its rising, and should then in its widening course form a succession of rich valleys, and in each of them a lake equally but diversely beautiful, to end, after the plains of age were past, in the ocean where all that is weary and heavy-laden comes to seek for rest. How few there are of these ull, fruitful, gentle lives! What is the use of wishing for or regretting them? It is wiser and harder to see in one's own lot the best one could have had, and to say to oneself that after all the cleverest tailor cannot make us a coat to fit us more closely than our skin.
*Le vrai nom du bonheur est le contentement.'
The essential thing for every one is to accept his destiny. Fate has deceived you; you have sometimes grumbled at your lot; well, no more mutual reproaches ; go to sleep in peace.
30th August 1880 (Two o'clock). Rumblings of a grave and distant thunder. The sky is gray but rainless; the sharp little cries of the birds show agitation and fear; one might imagine it the prelude to a symphony or a catastrophe.
'Quel éclair te traverse, ô mon coeur soucieux ? :
Strange - all the business of the im. mediate neighbourhood is going on ; there is even more movement than usual; and yet all these noises are, as it were, held suspended in the silence - in a soft, positive silence, which they cannot disguise silence akin to that nich, in every town, on one day of the week, replaces the vague murmur of the labouring hive. Such silence at such an hour is extraordinary. There is something expectant, contemplative, almost anxious in it. Are there days on which “the little breath' of Job produces more effect than tempest ? on which a dull rumbling on the distant horizon is enough to suspend the concert of voices, like the roaring of a desert lion at the fall of night ?