Page images

I see

9th September 1880. — It seems to me that with the decline of my active force I am becoming more purely spirit ; everything is growing transparent to me. the types, the foundation of beings, the sense of things.

All personal events, all particular experiences, are to me texts for meditation, facts to be generalised into laws, realities to be reduced to ideas. Life is only a document to be interpreted, matter to be spiritualised. Such is the life of the thinker. Every day he strips himself more and more of personality. If he consents to act and to feel, it is that he may the better understand ; if he wills, it is that he may know what will is. Although it is sweet to him to be loved, and he knows nothing else so sweet, yet there also he seems to himself to be the occasion of the phenomenon rather than its end. He contemplates the spectacle of love, and love for him remains a spectacle. He does not even believe his body his own; he feels the vital whirlwind passing through him, — lent to him, as it were, for a moment, in order that he may perceive the cosmic vibrations. He is a mere thinking subject; he retains only the form of things; he attributes to himself the material pos

session of nothing whatsoever; he asks nothing from life but wisdom. This temper of mind makes him incomprehensible to all that loves enjoyment, dominion, possession. He is fluid as a phantom that we see but cannot grasp; he resembles a man, as the manes of Achilles or the shade of Creusa resembled the living. Without having died, I am a ghost. Other men are dreams to me, and I am a dream to them.

Later. - Consciousness in me takes no account of the category of time, and therefore all those partitions which tend to make of life a palace with a thousand rooms, do not exist in my case; I am still in the primitive unicellular state. I possess myself only as Monad and as Ego, and I feel my faculties themselves reabsorbed into the substance which they have individualised. All the endowment of animality is, so to speak, repudiated; all the product of study and of cultivation is in the same way annulled ; the whole crystallisation is redissolved into fluid; the whole rainbow is withdrawn within the dewdrop; consequences return to the principle, effects to the cause, the bird to the egg, the organism

to its germ.


This psychological reinvolution is an anticipation of death ; it represents the life beyond the grave, the return to Scheol, the soul fading into the world of ghosts, or descending into the region of Die Mütter; it implies the simplification of the individual who, allowing all the accidents of personality to evaporate, exists henceforward only in the indivisible state, the state of point, of potentiality, of pregnant nothing

Is not this the true definition of mind ? is not mind, dissociated from space and time, just this ? Its development, past or future, is contained in it just as a curve is contained in its algebraical formula. This nothing is an all. This punctum without dimensions is a punctum saliens. What is the acorn but the oak which has lost its branches, its leaves, its trunk, and its roots — that is to say, all its apparatus, its forms, its particularities — but which is still present in concentration, in essence, in a force which contains the possibility of complete revival ?

This impoverishment, then, is only superficially a loss, a reduction. To be reduced to those elements in one which are eternal, is indeed to die, but not to be annihilated : it is simply to become virtual again.

9th October 1880 (Clarens). – A walk, Deep feeling and admiration. Nature was so beautiful, so caressing, so poetical, so maternal. The sunlight, the leaves, the sky, the bells, all said to me, — Be of good strength and courage, poor bruised one. This is nature's kindly season; here is forgetfulness, calm, and rest. Faults and troubles, anxieties and regrets, cares and wrongs, are but one and the same burden. We make no distinctions; we comfort all sorrows, we bring peace, and with us is consolation. Salvation to the weary, salvation to the afflicted, salvation to the sick, to sinners, to all that suffer in heart, in conscience, and in body. We are the fountain of blessing; drink and live ! God maketh His sun to rise upon the just and upon the unjust. There is nothing grudging in His munificence; He does not weigh His gifts like a money-changer, or number them like a cashier. Come, there is enough for all !

29th October 1880 (Geneva). — The ideal which a man professes may itself be only a matter of appearance

a device for misleading his neighbour, or deluding himself. The individual is always ready to claim

for himself the merits of the badge under which he fights; whereas, generally speaking, it is the contrary which happens. The nobler the badge, the less estimable is the wearer of it. Such at least is the presumption. It is extremely dangerous to pride oneself on any moral or religious specialty whatever. Tell me what you pique yourself upon, and I will tell you what you are not.

But how are we to know what an individual is? First of all by his acts ; but by something else too — something which is only perceived by intuition. Soul judges soul by elective affinity, reaching through and beyond both words and silence, looks and actions.

The criterion is subjective, I allow, and liable to error; but in the first place there is no safer one, and in the next, the accuracy of the judgment is in proportion to the moral culture of the judge. Courage is an authority on courage, goodness on goodness, nobleness on nobleness, loyalty on uprightness. We only truly know what we have, or what we have lost and regret, as, for example, childish innocence, virginal purity, or stainless honour. The truest and best judge, then, is Infinite Goodness, and next to it, the regenerated sinner or the saint,

« PreviousContinue »