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LETTER XII.

LEONARD TO STEPHEN.

April 24, 18-3. The world is full of inequalities; Man's life is all an inequality; His joys, emotions, sins and sympathies Are, like the tidal wave which is the fruit Of two unequal sources of attraction, Mere outward signs of inequality Between his inward self and what he deems His outward self should be. I know this now, And felt it along ago; I call to mind A time when some one gave me a toy horse Whose head was on a hinge and moved about

As the horse moved; the hinge broke, and the head

Dropped off; I know I wept for many days

Over the headless body,—kept it safe,
And took it out in secret to weep over,
Knowing not wherefore; now the cause I know;—
It was the strange bewilderment I felt
To find what disproportion stood between
My joy, and that which was the outward sign
Of all my joy,—the hinge that quickly broke,
And in its breaking left me desolate.

0 my true friend, if softly all my days

1 go henceforth,—if bitterness of soul
Be my remaining portion, it will be

(God knows I speak not lightly!) it will be
The child's lament over the broken hinge.
I have had letters,—letters meaning well,
And not unconscious of my grievous loss,—
But all with this one burden, either sung
In these plain words, or plainly hinted at;
'Learn through your grief some lesson; learn to
know

'The ways of life more clearly.' What to learn?
And how more clearly? I can say with Keats
That all my knowledge is that joy is gone
And this thing woe crept in upon my heart,
There to abide for ever. Have they learnt,
Who fain would have me learn, so much as this?
I cannot answer them; but now to you,
My truest friend in that you hold your peace
And mock me not with little cups of grief,—
Me, whom an ocean capable to fill
All conduits of sorrow, circles round,—
To you I would say something.

Verily
There have been times, there still are times, in

which I seem to have fulfilled the wish of those Who would that I learnt clearly, through my loss, Some lesson; yet with this great difference,— That they would bring me comfort, while despair, Clear, black, despair is all that I can reap

From what at such times is the meeting point

Of my remembrances. 'It better were

'That he should have a millstone round his neck,

'And drown, than tempt God's feeble ones to sin.'

This is my millstone; which indeed at times

Has been, and is, and oft will be again

More clearly felt by me than by my teachers

Were ever seen or felt those ways of life

Which they profess to know. O selfish wretch,

I cry at such times, was thy charity,

Which should bear all things, hope, believe, endure

All things for all men,—was thy charity

Too weak to stoop to what had been to her

The complement of her fidelity,

The armour for her weakness, and to thee

A giving up of nothing? Dost thou give

Thy body to be burned, or all thy goods

To feed the poor? Or dost thou speak as one

Endowed with tongues of angels, one to whom

All mysteries are open? Yet wilt thou

Refuse thy charity, and lead in sin
Not only her, but many after her?
Then art thou nothing; be condemned and die.

This is my millstone; O, a heavy one!

I sink beneath it down, and down, and down;

I seem to come to where dead bodies float

For ever in suspension; then I say,

'If she has sinned through me, she should be here;

'I find her not;' and then a light breaks through

From some immeasurable height, by which

I see her, not beside me, but far off

Where that light falls from; then I rise again,—

Not to her level; what that level is

I shall not learn, save that it lies by far

Above my own, for certain centuries ;—

Not to her level, no ;—and yet to one

Above that level whence I lately sank.

And thus my one clear lesson waxes dim,

And I am left in that perplexity

H

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