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Philosophical Letters: 2. Theosophy Of Julius
by [?]

There are moments in life when we are impelled to press to our heart every flower, every remote star, each worm, and the sublimest spirit we can think of. We are impelled to embrace them, and all nature, in the arms of our affection, as things most loved. You understand me, Raphael. A man who has advanced so far as to read off all the beauty, greatness, and excellence in the great and small of nature, and to find the great unity for this manifold variety, has advanced much nearer to the Divinity. The great creation flows into his personality. If each man loved all men, each individual would possess the whole world.

I fear that the philosophy of our time contradicts this doctrine. Many of our thinking brains have undertaken to drive out by mockery this heavenly instinct from the human soul, to efface the effigy of Deity in the soul, and to dissolve this energy, this noble enthusiasm, in the cold, killing breath of a pusillanimous indifference. Under the slavish influence of their own unworthiness they have entered into terms with self-interest, the dangerous foe of benevolence; they have done this to explain a phenomenon which was too godlike for their narrow hearts. They have spun their comfortless doctrine out of a miserable egotism, and they have made their own limits the measure of the Creator; degenerate slaves decrying freedom amidst the rattle of their own chains. Swift, who exaggerated the follies of men till he covered the whole race with infamy, and wrote at length his own name on the gallows which he had erected for it–even Swift could not inflict such deadly wounds on human nature as these dangerous thinkers, who, laying great claim to penetration, adorn their system with all the specious appearance of art, and strengthen it with all the arguments of self-interest.

Why should the whole species suffer for the shortcomings of a few members?

I admit freely that I believe in the existence of a disinterested love. I am lost if I do not exist; I give up the Deity, immortality, and virtue. I have no remaining proof of these hopes if I cease to believe in love. A spirit that loves itself alone is an atom giving out a spark in the immeasurable waste of space.


But love has produced effects that seem to contradict its nature.

It can be conceived that I increase my own happiness by a sacrifice which I offer for the happiness of others; but suppose this sacrifice is my life? History has examples of this kind of sacrifice, and I feel most vividly that it would cost me nothing to die in order to save Raphael. How is it possible that we can hold death to be a means of increasing the sum of our enjoyments? How can the cessation of my being be reconciled with the enriching of my being?

The assumption of immortality removes this contradiction; but it also displaces the supreme gracefulness of this act of sacrifice. The consideration of a future reward excludes love. There must be a virtue which even without the belief in immortality, even at the peril of annihilation, suffices to carry out this sacrifice.

I grant it is ennobling to the human soul to sacrifice present enjoyment for a future eternal good; it is the noblest degree of egotism; but egotism and love separate humanity into two very unlike races, whose limits are never confounded.

Egotism erects its centre in itself; love places it out of itself in the axis of the universal whole. Love aims at unity, egotism at solitude. Love is the citizen ruler of a flourishing republic, egotism is a despot in a devastated creation. Egotism sows for gratitude, love for the ungrateful. Love gives, egotism lends; and love does this before the throne of judicial truth, indifferent if for the enjoyment of the following moment, or with the view to a martyr’s crown–indifferent whether the reward is in this life or in the next.