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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Spectres of Hell

Again, hell has a river, the waters of which are heavy, dark, and muddy. You will be thinking of the waters of Lethe. Ah no, my friend, there is no Lethe here whence souls might draw forgetfulness—that is a happy myth; but the river I speak of is real, terribly real. It is fed by the falsehood and injustice of the world; every lie, every wrong, helps to swell it. That is why its waters are so turbid, so fearfully foul, looking like clotted blood at times. And sometimes, when the world is more wicked than usual, the river rises and floods its banks, leaving stench and pestilence behind it. It is scarcely to be endured. But we, hardened spectres of hell, we endure.

Sometimes, I am told, it rains here and snows, but not so often as one would think. It happens when folly and vanity upon earth overflow their measure. The world can stand a good deal, we know, but there are times when even the world has too much of it. The surplus then will drop into hell, and we say, by way of former fashion of speech—Look, it rains; or, Behold it snows!

Letters from Hell, L. W. J. S., Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1889