Book the First - Recalled to Life
3. III. The Night Shadows
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is
constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that
every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret;
that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that
every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there,
is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!
Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to
this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved,
and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the
depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights
glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other
things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with
a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was
appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when
the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the
shore. My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling
of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and
perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality,
and which I shall carry in mine to my life's end. In any of the
burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper
more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost
personality, to me, or than I am to them?
As to this, his natural and not to be alienated inheritance,
the messenger on horseback had exactly the same possessions as
the King, the first Minister of State, or the richest merchant
in London. So with the three passengers shut up in the narrow
compass of one lumbering old mail coach; they were mysteries to
one another, as complete as if each had been in his own coach and
six, or his own coach and sixty, with the breadth of a county
between him and the next.