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in preference. Perhaps I shall have an opportunity of explanation. The subject requires it very much.
December 31st.* I placed that good young man, my music-seller's shopman, in an awkward situation, owing to inadvertency and dullness of hearing. He came to settle my account, and asked me why I did not get a cover for the square Piano. Upon my inquiring the price, I thought he told me five shillings; but he had said twenty-five shillings. Surprised at the cheapness of the article, I ordered one, and sent for five shillings to Margaret, which I gave to him. Unable to understand that this was payment for the cover, and remembering that in my transactions with his master, he had had a great deal of trouble, he thought the five shillings were a present. Upon examining the account, I found £1. 58. charged for the cover, and no entry for five shillings. Mr. Thom did me the favour to inquire about this mistake. The poor young man, when called to account for such a state of things, plainly and honestly explained the whole. He did the same to me, and wished to return the five shillings, and take back the cover. I could not hear of such a thing, and requested him not to trouble himself. The next day, however, I sent him a present of a sovereign, as a token of my confidence,
[* This is only one of a thousand characteristic instances of considerate generosity and kindness, of which he rightly made no record.]
with a note, acknowledging my blunder and his good behaviour. He is an intelligent man. His answer was that of a gentleman.
Since I made the last entry, my sufferings have had no relief. Mr. Archer urged me to have leeches on the swelling of the neck. I had a dozen, but experienced no relief.
And now this year of cruel pain and misery is over. The New Year begins sadly for me: the only blessing I can hope for is Death: my only prayer that it may be a gentle one. Amen.
THE RATIONALIST A-KEMPIS,
Meditation and Prayer. On thou great Being, who, from the dawn of my reasor, didst reveal thyself within my heart, to Thee I may venture to speak humbly but freely, in the sanctuary of my soul. It is there that I obtain the nearest approach to Thee: there alone I know Thee face to face, not in the figure of a man-not in the coloured shadows of Imagination,—but in the truly spiritual character of Knowledge, Power, Will, Consciousness. Thou hast identified me with Thee; and yet Infinitude lies between us. Thus mysteriously united and distinct, a mere thought undraws the spiritual veil of the oracle to which Thou hast consecrated me a Priest: I am instantly conscious of thy
[* These thoughts, essentially biographical, were all written in 1840, and are therefore placed here. If they are felt to interrupt the more personal interest, the reader may proceed to the next Chapter first.]
presence. No fire or thunder, no smoke weltering in the flames, no sound of the trumpet from the summit of a blazing mountain, can so surely attest that nearness. Thy “still small voice” penetrates my very essence, and I reverence Thee from the mysterious centre where my Being and my Nothingness unite. How great, how little I am! Less than dust and ashes ; nobler than the morning star, by my powers of Thought;—though not a breath of Life is properly my own, yet I can confidently pour the workings of my heart into thy infinite bosom; nay, those spiritual workings which I call mine seem to proceed from Thee.—What! if in passing through me they become subject to obscurity and distortion ! I will every moment refer them back to the eternal, immutable light which is their Source, and much of the distortion will cease.
Nor shall I be deterred because other men tell me that these very thoughts are grievous offences in Thy sight. To exert my mind under a vehement desire that my thoughts may conform with Thine, is the only form of worship in my power, not unworthy of Thee. Eternal Spirit! I am thy child : to trace and to increase in myself a likeness to my Father, is bliss unspeakable. This is what I would purchase with ten thousand lives : this is that which I have but one way to accomplish: a way which Thou didst show to one, who, in spite of many human imperfections, did ardently love Thee, and was frequently taught by Thee. I must,“ with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, (be) changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Spirit of the Lord.”* Strange! that I am invited to approach thy glory with open face, and yet my fellow-creatures would abash me when I frankly manifest my thoughts to them! Oh! there are spots on this earth, on which were I to declare to men, what I do not endeavour to disguise before Thee, my life would fall a sacrifice to their indignation. Alas! this weight of misery which crushes me while I am slowly and painfully recording the thoughts I now address directly to Thee, what is it but the result of the treatment I have received from my fellow-Christians, my fellow countrymen, my own flesh, my dear friends? They thought Thee too remiss in avenging my freedom. Let them however be zealous for Thee in the manner most opposed to Thy dealings with me. Thy internal blessings—(may I not say external too?)— have been multiplied in proportion as I have gained confidence to let my soul appear before Thee, without attempting to disguise myself from myself; in proportion as I became practically convinced that a lie can under no circumstances be agreeable to Thee : that man cannot serve Thee with a lie. What I do at this moment is the natural and unsought-for result of the growth of my reverential openness towards Thee. It is delightful to open my heart before Thee, oh Eternal Being. Men will not bear to hear me; a very few who may have undergone the fiery prepara