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A SOLILOQU Y.
It 's done. Now let me reflect on it. Methinks it looks somewhat different already. I'm almost sorry I did it. I am sorry; very, very sorry. If I could but undo it! Alas! alas ! never, never to be undone. Terrible condition ! Better not have been born! Why then did I do it? Let me think. What
could not make myself do it. Myself make myself! Impossible. Then what made me? Let me think. It was this hand did it. What made this hand do it? I made this hand do it. Yes; I made, caused this hand to do it. “I” is my will. My will made, caused this hand to do it. It is the act of my will; that is, of myself; my own voluntary act. I willed it. But what made me will it? In the same way as something must have made my hand do it, something must have made my will will it. A desire made my will will it. Yes; a desire, an emotion. I felt it here. An impulse stirred my will, an instinct, a passion. I felt something stir my will, make my will will it. Cursed something! Cursed impulse, passion, desire, whatever it was! But what made this impulse, this passion, this emotion, this desire stir my will; make my will will it? How should I know? It was not my will stirred this passion, this emotion, this desire; but this passion, this emotion, this desire stirred my will; made my will do the act. But this passion, this emotion, this desire was not made by itself; therefore must have been made by something else, something antecedent; and that something antecedent was not made by itself but by something antecedent; and so on; each antecedent something by something antecedent still; how far? Till we come to a God? What God ? My father's God? Could my father's God make himself? Could any God make himself? Impossible. Therefore beyond a God, beyond my father's God, beyond all Gods. Each antecedent something by something antecedent still, till we come to what? To nothing? No; for out of that antecedent nothing there could come nothing. Therefore each antecedent something, out of something antecedent still, and so on, for ever, without end. Then there is no end. Is that possible? Yes; for as there is space beyond space, and space beyond space, and space beyond space, and no space beyond which there is not yet space; and as there is time beyond time, and time beyond time, and time beyond time, and no time beyond which there is not yet time; and as there is number beyond number, and number beyond number, and number beyond number, and no number beyond which there is not yet number, so there is thing beyond thing, and thing beyond thing, and thing beyond thing, and no thing beyond which there is not yet thing. It follows then that I could not help doing the deed; for my will did it, and my will was made do it by something which was made to make my will do it, and so on, for ever. My will was but a link in a chain, at one end of which was the deed and at the other end, what? no other end; but the chain stretching away and away and away into the infinite distance, beyond the vision of the mind even when strained to the utmost, and with the most painful exertion. But how does it happen that a chain, infinite and unending on one hand, should be limited and have an end at the other? The chain is only a-making at that end; the act of the will which is now the end of the chain being to be followed by its act or consequence or thing, and that act or consequence or thing by another act or consequence or thing, and that by another, and so on, into the infinite future. And thus the chain extends out of view on both sides; is equally without beginning and without end.
But if the act was necessary and could not be helped, whence this remorse? why do I accuse myself of it? why does Conscience reproach me for having done that which I could not but do ? Let me see. This remorse too must be caused. What causes it? I don't know. I can't see. Let me examine again. Is it real? Does Conscience really reproach me? First, what is Conscience? what more than feeling, sentiment? nothing more. I have a feeling that reproaches me, that says: — “Cain, you should not have done this.” Let me see if I can answer that feeling, if I can reason with it. What does it say? "Cain, you should not have done so." Let me try what I can answer: - "I could not help it; something made, caused me to do so." Is Conscience content with that answer is the feeling silenced? Yes, the feeling is silenced; it says no more "you should not have done so;" it is answered; I should do what I was made or caused to do, or rather there is no should or should not in the question; it is simply must. That is a happy thought; Conscience is answered, torments me no more. But stay: it is not silent yet; it is speaking again: let me listen; what can it be saying now? It is apologising, excusing itself: it says: – “Cain, my accusåtion was founded on the belief that you could have done otherwise. I now perceive that you could not. I now
perceive, what I never perceived before, that you do not command your will; that your will is commanded for you; caused to act by your passion, your emotion, the impression made on you; and your passion, your emotion, the impression made on you, caused again by your constitution, education, and circumstances at the moment. Your defence is good. I withdraw my charge, and pray forgiveness.” Well then; Con- . science accuses me no more; I feel remorse no longer; and yet I am unhappy; less unhappy than before, but still very unhappy. Why? let me try to find out wherein my remaining unhappiness consists: It is not remorse; what then is it? It is regret; deep, deep regret; sorrow for what I have done. Can I not silence this sorrow, as I just now silenced my conscience? Let me justify myself to my sorrow, as I did to my conscience: — “Sorrow, torment me not; I could not help it, I was made to do it.” What answers Sorrow ? "I torment thee, not because thou didst that which thou shouldst not have done, but because thou didst the deed at all.” “I was made to do it. I could not help it.” “I torment thee because thou wast made to do it.” “Unhappy man that I am, tormented because I was made to do the deed! better unborn!” “Yes; it is thy misfortune to have been born to do the deed; done, I must torment thee for it. Thou wast born to be tormented by Sorrow. But tell me why didst thou do the deed ?” “A feeling, a passion, an emotion moved my will to do it.” “And that feeling, that passion, that emotion whence?” “From my physical constitution, my nature, my education, my circumstances at the moment; from Adam my father, and Eve my mother, and from the maker or cause of them both.” “And canst thou not now tell whence I also come, and how it is as necessary Sorrow should torment thee, as it was necessary Will should do the deed? I too am an emotion, a passion, an instinct derived from thy physical constitution, thy nature, thy education, thy parents, and their maker, and the maker