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IN gathering together this little bundle of thoughts
on Life of which we know so little, and Death of which we guess in vain, I have seldom gone to seek them for the purpose of this book, but have chiefly followed the 'pencil-marks and “ dog's-ears of many happy years (may those not judge me hardly who love their books another way!). I hope they may not seem too incongruous in their unlikeness, and that some at least of kind readers may recognise a hidden bond that binds them together.
The number of those to whom I owe thanks and acknowledgment is large, and to the pleasant task of paying these I must address myself.
First to the Authors, who have shown theniselves most graciously generous—to Mr. Laurence Binyon, Mr. Robert Bridges, Mr. William Canton, Miss Elizabeth Rachel Chapman, the Rev. R. W. Corbet, Mr. Percy Dearmer, Mr. Edward Dowden, Mr. Rudyard Kipling, Mrs. Hamilton King, Mrs. Edward Liddell [C. C. FraserTytler], Mrs. Meynell, Dr. George MacDonald, Mr. Quiller Couch, Mr. Stephen Phillips, and Mr. W. B. Yeats.
I have to thank the families of the Rev. Canon Dixon, the Rev. Father Hopkins, the Rev. Andrew Jukes, the Rev. T. T. Lynch, Mr. Digby Mackworth-Dolben, Mr. Coventry Patmore, Mr. R. L. Stevenson, and the Author of Spanish Mystics, for allowing me to make selections from the works of these writers.
I have to acknowledge the kind permission of Mr. Shorthouse and Mr. Bernard Holland to use some of the thoughts of Molinos and Jacob Behmen, as selected and edited by them.
Among Publishers, I owe to Messrs. Macmillan the favour of being allowed to borrow from the poems of Matthew Arnold, of T. E. Brown, of Charles Kingsley, of James Russell Lowell, and of Christina Rossetti ; from the Trial and Death of Socrates, by F. J. Church; the Theologia Germanica ; and from The Increasing Purpose, by James Lane Allen. Also for confirming Mr. Rudyard Kipling's permission for a poem from the Jungle Book
I have to thank Messrs. Longman for selections from Fénelon's Letters to Women, from Max Müller's Vedanta Philosophy and Lectures on the Origin of Religion, and from Cardinal Newman's Dream of Gerontius ; The Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge, for those from Christina Rossetti's Verses, and from Hymns and Meditations, by Anna Lætitia Waring; Messrs. Oliphant, Anderson, & Ferrier, for a passage from Dr. Alexander Whyte's Appreciation of Jacob Behmen; Messrs. Burns & Oates, for one from the Manual of the Third Order of St. Francis ; Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton, for one from M. Sabatier's Life of St. Francis ; and Mr. David Douglas, for selections from The Spiritual Order, by Thomas Erskine of Linlathen.
To the Theosophical Publishing Society I am indebted for fragments from the Bhagavad Gita, translated by Mrs. Besant; to Messrs. Gibbings, for selections from the Carmina Crucis and Colloquia Crucis of Dora Greenwell; to Messrs. Luzac & Co., for those from Sir M. MonierWilliams' Indian Wisdom; and to Mr. John Murray and the Executors of the late Master of Balliol, for those from College Sermons ; to Mr. Sebastian Evans and Mr. Alfred Nutt, for those from the Mirror of Perfection ; and to the Editor of The Pilot, for a passage from The Road Mender, by Michael Fairless.
I have also to thank Mr. John Lane for permitting me to include parts of poems by Francis Thompson and Arthur Christopher Benson ; Messrs. Smith, Elder, & Co., for poems by Robert Browning; and Mr. Fisher Unwin, for a poem by Madame Darmesteter.
To Mr. G. F. Watts I am indebted for kind permission to use as a Frontispiece his beautiful picture, “Death crowning Innocence” L_“Our Sister Death,” as I should like to call her.
My difficulty has been, among books so rich in beautiful thoughts as many of those from which I have gathered, to know when to restrain my hand, especially among those whose writers have long passed beyond the region of copyright.
One book I long to include entire—the little volume of Meditations called Manchester al Mondo, written by an Earl of Manchester towards the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century, who says: “When I was occupatissimus, I delighted myself with this comfort, that a time would come wherein I might live to myself, hoping to have sweet leisure to enjoy myself at last—and this I am now come to—Disponendo non mutando me. The covenant of the grave is shewed to no man, saith the Wise Man, but the Watchword is given to all men
Sint lumbi precincti,
Lord, let me be found in this posture when I come to die." His contemplations of Death and Immortality are so sweet, so tender, so eager, that they make his reader go about the summer world all a-tiptoe to spring upward, to spread wings and fly away into that other of which he tells—and then, calming down, the spirit just rests and rejoices in the abiding thought of It, shining behind all the visible life " like the stars behind the blue.”
1 Photograph by F. Hollyer.
It has been a sorrow to me not even to touch that great storehouse of high thought, the Divina Commedia, but no translation seems in any way able to set forth its treasures worthily.
I must not dwell longer on my sources, or I would speak of Tauler and of Penington, and Behmen and William Law, and many another ; to whom I shall be very happy if this little book
lead some readers.
Happier still if some hearts are cheered among the lengthening shadows, and even helped to see light across the River by any words that it contains.