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begin to be frightened themselves. But let me think seriously of it. My will did this deed; and my passion made my will do it, and my constitution and education and circumstances at the moment made my passion; and something previous made my constitution and education and circumstances at the moment; and something else previous made that previous something; and so on beyond sight and prospect, beyond the mental horizon, away, away, into the infinite distance. And who knows what there may be in that infinite distance, away beyond the intellectual horizon? Perhaps some God as bad as, or worse than, my father's God. Some more malignant, more vindictive, more despotic tyrant than even he. No; impossible; for malignancy, despotism, vindictiveness, are not beyond, but within, the intellectual horizon; are here at our very hand; are caused; and it is their cause we want, something that shall explain them, that shall account for their existence and to find which something we must of course go away beyond them. Some good being then, some amiable, forgiving, merciful, wise being; some being, all wise, all good, all amiable, all perfect, such as my father tells his God he is, when he wants to cajole and wheedle him to his purpose. No, equally impossible; for it is the cause of this goodness, this amiability, this perfection, we want, and the cause must be away beyond the effect. It is not this thing, or that thing - this goodness, this badnesswhich we seek, but the cause of this goodness, this badness; something therefore which is no thing. That is my God; no thing, but the cause of all things; that which is neither good nor bad, nor high nor low, nor great nor small, but which was and is beyond and before all these things and every thing, and of which I know nothing, and of which nothing can by any possibility be known except the mere negative, the pure and absolute nothing.
And is this all I know? With all the force of my understanding can I arrive at no more? If at no more, at least at no less. Ignorance rather than error. The ignorant mind may receive knowledge, for the field is open; the erring mind cannot receive it, for the field is full, full of error. Foolish man, vain, foolish, wicked, and hypocritical man, would fain hide ignorance behind error. But who am I that talk of vanity and wickedness? I, the murderer of my brother? Yes, why not I? what is VAIN? what is WICKED? what but men's opinion of certain acts, and why not my opinion equal to another's? What is the murder of my brother but the killing of my brother? what makes the killing of my brother murder, and his killing of me, if he had killed me in his selfdefence, not murder? what but the opinion of men who declare that the act done with the one passion or instinct is murder, the act done with the other passion or instinct not murder? But where is the difference between the passions or instincts? What makes one better or worse than another? He offended me and my blood rose and I killed him. I offend him and his blood rises and he kills me. Where is the dif ference but in degree? that my blood rises quick, his slow? Men judge that it is for their advantage a man's blood should rise slow and not quick, and punish me and reward him. It is the judgment of men; nothing else. Were sheep to judge, it is my brother were pronounced the murderer, who kills them in cold blood; them who have never offended him. But killing sheep does no harm to men, and therefore men do not call him who kills them murderer, nor punish him. And so it is. Men are right, and I blame them not. They have made this rule among themselves; and I am one of them myself, and a consenting party to the rule. Sheep would do so if they could, and do so as far as they can. Lions and wolves do so. Every thing that lives does so, as far as it can; makes its rules according to what it thinks its greatest
interest, and calls observance of those rules right, and violation of them wrong. I have done this wrong, this great wrong; broken the rule made by my friends and species and self, and must bear the consequence. Dreadful consequence! Better not have been born! Death a thousand times better. What? death? yes, death a thousand times better; next best to not to have been born. Death then, death. My friends cannot frown on me there. Men cannot expel me there; cannot hate me there; cannot mark me there; cannot hunt me down there; cannot hie their God, their demon, upon me there. My sorrow cannot torment me there. There at least I am safe. My passion cannot rise again there; my blood boil again there; and make my will kill another man, murder another brother. Come then, death; sweet, gentle death, long and last oblivion, come; best, kindest friend of man, come; Oh! come, come,
GLENAGEARY COTTAGE, DALKEY (IRELAND). Autumn of 1851.