“He was born with a strong, subtle intelligence, always restlessly searching to discover some ultimate truth and significance in human existence. But his search had been frustrated by the congenital, fundamental division in his nature. Never had he been able to reconcile the skeptical realism of his judgment with those ideal aspirations which alone commanded the enthusiasm of his heart. Indeed, he had long ago given up trying to do so; and, resigning himself to accept the fact that he would never be sure of the ultimate value of anything, he had surrendered himself, in a spirit of cheerful ironical detachment, to such immediate satisfactions as life offered to him--to the pleasures of society and the interest and excitement of great affairs. So long as he was vigorous and zestful, this policy had worked well enough. Now it did not do so any more. Against the injurious onset of time, age and death, the human soul is fortified by two things only: faith and love. Melbourne had no one who depended on his love, nor had he ever been able to find ground on which to build a sure faith.... After many changes of fortune the lifelong battle between his sanguine temperament and his questioning, destructive intellect had ended in his temperament's decisive defeat. At last he was forced to feel, as well as to think, that life was a vain and empty dream. A gray sense of the insubstantiality and fleetingness of things human possessed his spirit.... Melbourne never attained the famed serenity of old age. Few people do. Serenity implies an ability to rise above trouble, whereas age and weakness generally make people more susceptible to it."
From The Young Melbourne by David Cecil, p 427.
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