The Nachlass of A.N. Prior
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Children of the Damned

By Arthur N. Prior on NA/NA/1942

This text has been transcribed and commented by Per Hasle, The Royal School of Library and Information Science - Copenhagen University, [removed]

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1 CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED by Arthur N. Prior The belief that one is certainly and irretrievably doomed to everlasting damnation is now regarded as a form of insanity – in popular parlance, of "religious mania". "Insanity", however, is a notoriously relative conception; and in earlier ages, when religious forms of thought were taken for granted as "normal", this gloomy conviction was more common, and was regarded in a different light. The larger churches, indeed, regarded such convictions as erroneous; they held that God had ordained that this life should be a real "trial" for us right to its end, and therefore kept its issue hidden until the time for judgment came. But the denial of this by a man’s conviction that it was a foregone conclusion that his "trial" would issue in perdition, was treated
as a heresy, a theological error, or a weakness due to some moral fault, rather than a form of madness. Madness itself, of course, considered as demoniac possession, was not over-sharply distinguished from these other works of the devil; but this particular depression was not generally regarded as making a man a case for "Bedlam" and was rather met by patient and careful reasoning. In the 19th century, which was the period of transition from the older to the newer approach to this subject, the "last attempts" to meet the illusion in the old way called forth, in at least one case, real genius. I propose to consider this case, and to pass on from it to other 19th century instances of theological genius, and one 20th century one, with roots of a connected kind. THE CASE OF FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE
Frederick Denison Maurice is one of the few English theologians of the Victorian age – perhaps the only one – whose influence has increased rather than diminished as the new century has worn on. In his own day he was noted as a "Christian Socialist", and was victimised for denying the
This text has been edited by Per Hasle, Fabio Corpina, Max Cresswell, Martin Prior and Adriane Rini. There are two MS of the text, MS1 and MS2. Both of them are kept in the Prior collection at Bodleian Library, Oxford, Box 6. The page numbers in the original text have been put in curly braces. All underlinings are from Prior’s. [Note by Per Hasle:] This paper examines the cases of four persons directly or indirectly influenced by a perception that they themselves, or one of their parents, were irretrievably damned. The persons in question are Frederick Denison Maurice, a Victorian-age English theologian, Søren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish Christian philosopher, "Rabbi" John Duncan, 19th century Scottish Presbyterian minister and missionary to the Jews, and James Joyce. In each case a Freudian analysis is offered as an explanation of their preoccupation with damnation, especially with reference to the Oedipus-complex. The paper in general seems to embrace Freudian theory to a degree, where it must lead to atheism. The analyses offered appear sharp and inventive. Mary Prior has added that this item may have been published - perhaps in The Presbyter.
2 doctrine of everlasting torment. He was, however, no ordinary "Universalist", and no ordinary socialist either. In his own mind his socialism and his Universalism were very closely connected. He held that "salvation" was a social rather than an individual conception. It was essentially the restoration of right relationships between man and God, and between man and his fellow-man, and these two not separately but as one process, a process he described as the creation or {2} restoration of the great "Body" of which Christ was the Head and all men were members. This "Body of Christ" was both the Church and Mankind – the Church, for Maurice, was simply mankind restored to its proper state, with all its divisions into warring parties and units healed. Men, he held, could not be saved alone; to stand apart from other men, even in the consciousness of salvation, was itself perdition; the individual’s salvation lay in forgetfulness of himself and love for others, and this love itself ultimately guaranteed the salvation of those loved – for those must be saved whom we cannot be saved without. Maurice believed in life after death, even in personal life after death, but spoke of it very little, and never spoke of it as the survival of particular individuals, but as the eternity of restored "mankind". [He believed in missionary enterprise, not merely as a means of rescuing others from hell, but even more as a means of improving the spiritual health of the "sending" Church by bringing new blood into it; & held that the correction given to the English Church by the new Christians of Africa & Asia was itself a part of "salvation" & not just a preparation for it
3

Maurice himself was fully conscious that he had been "led" to these views by the family life in which he had grown up. His view of the relation of God and man was such that he could recognise this without being led by it to suspect that his religion was an illusion. It was, for him, natural and right that God should reveal His character and purposes through human relationships – that was how He had always revealed them; the whole Bible was a story of God’s revealing Himself in precisely that way. The family in which Maurice grew up was one torn by religious dissension. His father was a Unitarian minister. His mother was a Calvinist, a keen-minded woman who had come to the conviction that the Calvinistic "plan of salvation" was correct and true, but who had never been able to find or produce in herself those emotional experiences which her co-religionists regarded as signs of being among God’s "elect". She was thus forced to the conclusion that she was excluded from God’s saving plans, and held this conviction right until her death. One of his sisters was also a Calvinistic "Dissenter", but had had no difficulty in finding the "marks" of election in herself, and so held her creed much more happily than her mother. Another sister was a very aggressive member of the Established Church, with pronounced and dogmatic opinions of the errors of "Dissenters". Maurice was profoundly impressed by the fact that these violent differences of opinion did not prevent all these people from being united by their family relationship in a way which he could only regard as religious. In the family bond he therefore saw hope for them all; and that was the starting-point of his own religious outlook. He became a member of the Church of England because it was united, not by opinions, but by the bond of nationhood, which was analogous {3} to the tie which made his own family a divinely constituted unity whatever the opinions of its members might be. He did at the same time whole-heartedly accept the doctrinal
This section placed in [...] has been added in handwriting in Prior’s MS1 (and identically in MS2).
3 positions of the Church of England, as he found them in the Prayer-book and the Thirty-nine Articles, because he regarded these positions as providing the natural intellectual basis for the "social" view of salvation which meant so much to him. The doctrine of the Trinity laid the grounds for his picture of restored mankind as the Body of Christ; and infant baptism enabled him to call upon men not merely to enter this Body but to recognise that they were already members of it, and to enjoy the privileges and exercise the responsibilities which, if they could but see it, were already theirs. It is plain that Maurice’s "message" was in the first place a message to his family, and only secondarily a message to the world. All that he proclaimed to the world was addressed primarily to his parents and sisters – they were the divided individuals whom he was for ever
summoning to recognise the unity God had already given them, and to build upon it. And first and foremost his message was addressed to his tormented mother, His whole life-work was an attempt to make her see that her lack of the requisite "feelings" did not matter, and that she was living in relationships which meant that she was already saved; and after her death, his work was an attempt to keep up the conviction that what he had said was true – true even though his mother had not been completely comforted by it at the time. She had been comforted in a curious
way by the thought that her son was among the "elect" even though she was not among them herself, and took great pleasure in his becoming a minister. Maurice’s whole viewpoint amounted to an insistence that if he was saved, as she believed he was, then so was she, for his salvation could not be complete without hers; and that such selfless joy as she felt in his salvation even though she thought herself excluded from it, was as sure a mark of a "saved" person as anything could possibly be. Maurice’s position, with its emphasis on external relationships and low estimation of inward feelings, enabled him to believe – in fact, enabled him to "feel" – that his failure to remove his mother’s religious depression did not finally matter. She was saved, whether she
knew it or not, and she would know it at that "Last Day" which he always insisted was a day of
revelation rather than of "judgment" in the popular sense. The fact remains, however, that he did
fail to "cure" his mother by his arguments. Even a position worked out with such desperate ingenuity, such genuine intellectual greatness, as he brought to its elaboration, {4} failed to bring peace to the one person for whom it was all meant. We know now that this form of "religious mania" cannot be effectively dealt with if we remain on the religious plane – no matter how good the arguments produced, the illusion persists on some excuse or other. It can only be removed, if at all, by an analysis of a deeper kind than Maurice attempted – an analysis which in his case would almost certainly have revealed that his mother’s sense of guilt, and his own sense of "mission", were fed by a love between them of a kind which they felt to be wrong, which they never permitted to come into their consciousness, but which endlessly tormented the one with inexplicable fears, and goaded on the other to his endless theoretical and practical Christian labours.
In MS2 there is an addition in the left-hand margin. It is not indicated, however, where the text should be placed, but if it were meant to be included in a fully typed future version it would probably have been at the end of the section on Maurice. The addition is: "(It is quite conceivable that Maurice himself would have welcomed this conclusion, as it was an essential part of his version of Christianity - his "Christian Socialism" and "State-Churchism" - that God’s action is
4 THE CASE OF SÖREN AABY KIERKEGAARD
This view of the relation of Maurice and his mother, which one might be tempted to [discuss] dismiss as a mechanical and doctrinaire application of the theory of the "Oedipus complex", is given added cogency when we consider another 19th century theological figure, this time not from Victoria’s England but from Denmark, who is also "coming into his own" at the present time. The influence of Maurice on contemporary English Christianity is almost negligible compared with that on European Christianity – and even on European Judaism and atheism – of Sören Aaby Kierkegaard. At least one modern English "Maurician", George Every, has attempted to find some way of expressing the relation between Maurice’s thought and Kierkegaard’s. It is a difficult task. Both men were exponents of what might be called a "critical orthodoxy"; but they seem in other ways poles apart. The disconcerting flashing in and out of differences and similarities in their thought may be illustrated by their approaches to the doctrine, which both believed, that the preaching and sacraments of the Church have a value which is independent of the character and sincerity of those dispensing them. To Maurice this was a gladdening truth; it meant that in the Church there were set up means of grace and comfort on which all men could rest without thinking about the state of their feelings or anyone else’s. To Kierkegaard, however, the same doctrine was a source of anxiety, and he formulated and justified it in this way: The hearer of a sermon, he said, should not regard the preacher as an actor on whose performance he is to sit in judgment, but as a "prompter" to his own "acting" before God. God is the only Spectator of this
play; God will judge the prompter’s prompting, and what the hearer has to worry about is not that, but God’s judgment of his performance; and he {5} should be thankful for all the help the
prompter can give him, and anxiously heedful of it. Both men wrote finely against self-righteousness; but Maurice taught that all men were Christians, members of the Body of Christ, if they but knew it, and could be brought to recognise it by a Church which did not shut itself off from them as if it had all goodness in its own keeping; while Kierkegaard taught that no men were Christians, and regarded it as his mission to
scourge a Church which lowered God’s standards of belief and conduct so as to conceal the fact that it was impossible for any man to come up to them, and that it was only in brokenness and humility and in spite of ourselves that we could enter the Kingdom. On the Question as to whether the Last Day would be one of "revelation" or of "judgment", the Englishman and the Dane were in flat contradiction. Kierkegaard insisted with all grimness that each one of us must go to meet his Judge, and that in that day each must answer for himself alone. He hated the mass and the crowd, and sought to call out "the Individual" from them, and to address him and awaken him to his responsibility. In this, it may be, the difference from Maurice is again one of emphasis; for Maurice also feared the mass and the crowd, holding that in them the individual
not confined to the "religious" sphere, and that religion depends as much on man’s common life as the latter on religion)." In MS1, the typed word in this place is ‘discuss’. This has in MS1 been cancelled out by hand and the word ‘dismiss ‘added instead. Apparently Prior forgot to copy this change in MS2, but we follow MS1 in this case, since ‘dismiss’ makes better sense.
5 was not really "related" to those standing beside him, but was an isolated atom, for all his crowdedness. [Prior’s note: But he certainly took more seriously than Maurice such texts as "He that hateth not father or mother is not worthy of Me" The identity in difference, and difference in identity, between these two thinkers, appears in a new light when we learn that Kierkegaard also was the child of one who suffered from this conviction of being damned. In his case, however, the sufferer was not his mother but his father. Kierkegaard the elder did not reach this conviction by the same path as Mrs. Maurice; he was not a Calvinist, but he was one of those who have been drawn by a fatal fascination to the saying of Jesus that he who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven in this world or the next, and who have stood giddy by this precipice until they have been unable any longer to resist the impulse to commit what they believe is the unforgivable sin. Such a one was the preacher Williams described by George Borrow; and such a one was Michael Kierkegaard; and the reaction to his misery which his son’s theology suggests, when it is compared with the theology of Maurice, is exactly what the theory of the "Oedipus complex" would demand. Kierkegaard was himself conscious that his own sense of guilt concerned his relation to his father, but the things for which he blamed himself were the usual fantastic trivialities which worry the burdened believer (like the {6} boyish fruit-stealing which depressed St. Augustine) – such things as wasting his time in mild frivolities at the University. The real sin which these trifles hid was, it may be surmised, a desire to keep his father in his misery, an end which all his theological writings would seem admirably designed to serve. His relation to his father was the "ambivalent" one which Freudian theory leads us to expect; he admired and identified himself with this husband of his mother, but feared and hated him too. He took his father’s certainty of damnation seriously, because he could wish it to be true; but feared also that in damning his father he was damning himself – doubly; on the one hand because he identified himself with his father, and on the other because it was a damnable thing to hate him so. In his theology he fights against this consequence. One of his best-known charges against contemporary conventional Christians is that they are "Christians, just as Jews are Jews, by birth" – it would be a sorry thing for him if his own spiritual state were an inheritance and reproduction of his father’s. And so his views on immortality are intensely individual – he does not wish, like Maurice, to eliminate the division of men into heaven-destined and hell-destined; he wishes for that division, that his father might be damned, even if it means that he himself might be damned too. In the one case the tormented parent is an object of love, in all senses, and in the other case an object of jealousy. THE CASE OF JOHN DUNCAN
The nineteenth century was a little late for the appearance of men of genius who, like William Cowper, themselves thought they were damned. If any religious soil could still produce such a
phenomenon, it would be that of Scotland; and there was in fact one 19th century Scottish theological genius who came very near to this position. "Rabbi" John Duncan, Church of Scotland missionary to the Jews in Hungary, and then Old Testament professor in the Free Church College, wrote no books, but was well "Boswelled" by his friends, and his recorded sayings reveal a mind of unusual sharpness as well as erudition, and justify the reputation for
The sentence placed in [...] has been added in handwriting in MS1 (and identically in MS2).
6 genius which he enjoyed in his time. He had a flair for languages, and also a fine mastery of language, a sense of the "mot juste" and power of expressing abstruse matters with a quaint
precision and aptitude. Among his aphorisms was the statement that extreme Calvinism (he had in mind the English sectarian kind espoused by such people as Mrs. Maurice) was like a house without a door, while Arminianism (the doctrine that salvation depends on our free choice) was like a door without a house. The {7} salvation freely offered by Arminians was not very enticing and above all not very sure – in the human will, the chain depended on a very weak link. The salvation spoken of by extreme Calvinists was both sure and glorious, but there seemed no way of entering into it. In his own history, after a period of atheism, he was "converted" by a Swiss revivalist who made the way to salvation a very open door; but almost immediately afterwards he went through a period of extreme depression, feeling that his joy and assurance had been shallow. He recovered his poise later – he called it his "second conversion" – but was never so sure of himself again, and was subject to constant fits of depression in which he always insisted that he was not certain he was damned, but this very way of expressing himself indicated that he was so near to
it that the difference did not matter. In the circles in which he moved it was generally considered best for men in charge of the souls of others to keep such disquiet to themselves, but Duncan could never do so. As a professor he was always pathetically asking his students to pray for him, and especially to pray "that his faith fail not". At a religious service conducted by a friend, when "inquirers" were invited to come and sit on special seats after the service, this honoured Churchman went and sat among them. Other ministers present thought it was a case of his notorious absentmindedness, and one went over and explained to him, "These seats are for the anxious". He replied earnestly and simply, "But I’m anxious". In his dealings with others he
refused to apply rigid tests of the reality of conversion, and regarded it as vain and cruel to attempt to stereotype the path of religious experience; but he could never bring himself to deal so charitably and wisely with himself. The dominating feature of his mind and heart was undoubtedly a passionate love for "God’s people Israel", expressing itself both in material charity and in missionary labours. He identified himself with Jewry to a remarkable degree, and in his theology not only stressed the abiding authority of the Old Testament in the Church, and the Church’s Jewish origin, but also held that God’s special promises to the Jewish race would be fulfilled, and that Israel was being kept by divine providence as a separate body for a special purpose. A day would come when Israel as a body would recognise its Messiah and would not only join the Church but lead it; of
which future, present conversions of individual Jews were a foretaste. This picture of the future was derived from the 11th chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which brings to a triumphant conclusion a series of three chapters, at the beginning of which the Apostle says with remarkable vehemence, "I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh". In the 11th chapter the same {8} theme of being damned that others might be saved, is taken up in a new way. The Jews, Paul says, have been cast away only in order that the Gentiles might be brought in; but the Gentiles in their turn are being saved only in order that the Jews might be "provoked to jealousy" and themselves be saved in the end. The completion of the salvation of the Gentiles depends on that of the Jews. Into these intricacies Duncan entered enthusiastically; and he, like Paul, wished to be damned for the sake of those who were damned for the sake of mankind. He wished it, and so half believed it. (It is significant that his sense of guilt commonly attached itself to his frequent feverish absorption in the study of foreign
7 languages). Hence that touching, anxious, awkward way in which this Prince of Zion would again and again embarrass his friends and admirers by placing himself publicly among the "unconverted". Earlier Calvinists sometimes held that complete submission to God’s will demanded that one should be willing to be damned "for His glory". Duncan held this too; but his own willingness to be damned was for God’s "glory" in a new, dynamic sense. He thought of God’s plan for advancing His Kingdom as one involving "strategic retreats" from some fields (e.g. Israel), followed by new attacks from better points of vantage; and he could wish for his own damnation as part of such a "strategic retreat". In this there was less of pure submission to God’s sovereignty than of love to those whose salvation was made possible by his loss. This is something like a partial psychoanalysis of the earlier Calvinism - the inhuman and irrational submission to God’s arbitrary will has been revealed as a product of essentially human feeling. Nor was this a purely individual phenomenon - there was a general movement in Duncan’s day to think of God’s glory more "dynamically" (it was the period when Hegelianism was popular), and to admit the love of others as the ground for submission to God’s will; though Duncan’s special concern for Israel was not as strongly felt by everyone affected by this tendency. But the analysis was not complete - there remained an element of the fantastic in Duncan’s apparent willingness to be actually damned for the sake of the Jews - a serious and persistent uneasiness going decidedly beyond Paul’s momentary vehemence - and one cannot but suspect that such feelings for Israel concealed some other "love". In the case of Mrs. Maurice, she was no doubt prepared to be damned for the salvation of her son, and believed at heart that she was
so. Her subconscious process would be to take upon herself the entire blame for the "incestuousness" between them, so that no guilt would fall upon Frederick. And in a way she did
"save" her son by her own loss - her belief that she was lost provoked and fed his faith that he, she and all mankind were saved; her loss was the source of his endless intellectual and practical constructiveness, and was secretly necessary to it. Her joy in his being a minister was a recognition that the salvation she had bought for him was not to be enjoyed by himself alone, but would be passed on to others as well - perhaps in the end, to herself too (as on Duncan’s view it would pass back to the Jews from the Gentiles for whom the Jews had been first rejected). But here she was in an impasse; for Frederick’s mission to others depended on her own damnation; so how could it save her too? Mrs. Maurice "mechanism" is clear; but who was it that John Duncan loved, and what was the "salvation" of the loved one which he felt demanded his own perdition?]
MS1 has in this place the word ‘real’. In MS2, Prior has first copied ‘real’, then cancelled it and instead has written ‘essentially’. MS1 at this place continues with the words: "the object of love (in Duncan’s case, Israel) was
still an entity defined in terms of its relation to "God", and not a purely human one. What lay behind this?". This has at first been copied in MS2, then cancelled and replaced as can be followed in the text above, till the start of the next paragraph opening with ‘In the case of Mrs. Maurice,...’. The text MS1: “[But the analysis was not complete – the object of love (in Duncan’s
case Israel) was still an entity defined in terms of its relation to “God”, and not a purely human one. What lay behind this? ] The text in [...] has been added in handwriting in the MS1 and in a slightly altered form in MS2. The insertion has been appended at the end of the MS (both of them).
8 The Church is commonly spoken of in Christian literature as the "mother" of believers, and in Scottish Christian literature not only the New Israel but the old also was described in maternal imagery. Ancient Israel was called Christ’s "mystical mother". Israel and the Church were both "mothers" to John Duncan, and he longed with a passionate longing for them to be one. It can surely be no accident that he himself had two mothers; his own died when he was a child, but he loved his step-mother also, and she him. He may well have been subconsciously tormented by the thought that his love for each was a disloyalty to the other, and his longing for them to be one would be refracted in his consciousness into this longing for the unity of Israel and the Church, which he was ready to be damned to achieve. His twofold "conversion" seems also to reflect his twofold "childhood". On the subject of personal immortality, Duncan, like Maurice, had little to say. He believed in God’s judgment, and feared it, but shrunk from portraying its details, and stressed rather God’s demands for faith and obedience in this life. [(He regarded Christ’s being forsaken by His Father on the cross as "damnation," & this was no mere figure speech – he wept during a lecture at the thought that Christ[?] "took damnation lovingly".)10 This, it may be, was part of his identification of himself with the Jews. Personal immortality has a very small place in the religion of the Old Testament. THE CASE OF JAMES JOYCE
It seems a far cry from the Scottish missionary to James Joyce, the twentieth-century infidel Irishman; but there are curious points of contact between the two. Duncan’s linguistic erudition, and sense for the "mot juste", are marked in Joyce too; and also a certain Jewish materialism. In Joyce, the belief in personal immortality has quite gone; {9} and "immortality" through the family and the race alone remains. But Joyce and Duncan use the same unusual method of expressing the unity of the human race through its common ancestry. In the opening pages of "Ulysses", Stephen Dedalus is depicted as ringing up Adam and Eve through a telephonic cable made of the umbilical cords of all those who link him and them. Duncan also once solemnly said to an interlocutor, "The umbilicus is a wonderful thing!" – considering it as a mark of the unity of the human family [& hold that the umbilicus refuted the individualism of Kant11 Joyce also has Duncan’s knack of placing himself among the "reprobate", and even more specifically among the Jews. In "Finnegan’s Wake" the name which he gives himself is "Shem" – the father of the Semitic tribe. (His Shem and Shaun certainly symbolise Jew and Gentile12, whatever else they symbolise as well.) The spirit in which Joyce does this is, indeed, very different from Duncan’s. Duncan accepts the Christian picture of the world, and is anxious about his own place in it, and tentatively places himself among those who are quite really damned. Joyce rejects Christianity, and with it the reality of hell, and his placing himself among the "outsiders" is a gesture of defiance, and of fun. But is that really all it is?
Throughout "Ulysses", Joyce, in the person of Stephen Dedalus, betrays a remarkable obsession with13 an incident described in his "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". When his
10The text in [...] has been added in handwriting in MS1 (and identically in MS2). 11The text in [...] has been added in handwriting in MS1 (and identically in MS2). 12 [Prior’s note: ] Shem and Shaun are James and John, respectively the most Jewish and the most Hellenistic of the Apostles. 13 [Transcribers’ note:] there is a typo here ‘wtih’.
9 mother was dying she begged him to take the sacrament, and he refused; it was rumoured that this was what had finally killed her. His subtle Catholic friend, Cranby, suggests that if he had been a real atheist he would not have minded taking the sacrament to make his dying mother happy; it could have done no harm. His act, Cranby insinuates, seemed to show that faith still lingered in him, and that he was afraid of the consequences of communicating unworthily. Stephen’s reply is highly unsatisfactory and unconvincing – he speaks vaguely of his fear of the effects of "two thousand years of history". And in "Ulysses" Stephen constantly passes himself off as a Catholic in the most curious way (as Ivan Karamazov, in Dostoievsky’s novel, writes a theological article as if he were not an atheist). Joyce’s identification of himself with Jewry is an identification of himself with those who are said to be damned that others might be saved. Did Joyce wish to be damned that another might be saved? It is evident that he loved his mother – did he in some sense refuse the sacrament for love of her, bitterly as it hurt her? There is one way in which this is conceivable. Though he did not believe {10} Catholicism to be true, he wished that it were true, so that his
mother might go to heaven, so that her hopes might not all be turned to illusion (and so that he himself might pray to her there). And he wished this so much that he wanted Catholicism to be true even if it meant his own exclusion from grace. Hence the act that he performed was one which did signify his exclusion from grace, rather than simple atheism.
The death and mortality of his mother seem to have preyed on Joyce to the end of his own life. The concluding pages of his last work, "Finnegan’s Wake", are in effect a sad confession that his youthful sacrifice was of no avail, that by placing himself among the "excluded" he still could not make Catholicism true when it was not; he could not give his
mother immortality. Anna Livia, the character in "Finnegan’s Wake" who represents the river Liffey and the mother of the family, flows out to the sea, bearing one little leaf upon her, and is lost there, and that is the end. The river, indeed, still flows on, but it is a new river – Anna insists
on that; her husband will have a new wife and she will be forgotten. The idea which pervades the rest of the book, that though all things change they "live on" in their new forms ("Nought is nulled. Only is order othered"), seems to be rejected here; it is no comfort. The wheel has come full circle – now when14 personal immortality has gone, we wish it could be brought back again, even though it may bring damnation back too.
14 MS1 has in this place the (typed) word ‘that’. In MS2, Prior has cancelled it by hand, and instead has written ‘when’.
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