Friday, November 18, 2011


Heaven and Hell

Jerome K. Jerome, Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1898), pp. 226-228:
Few things had more terrors for me, when a child, than Heaven, as pictured for me by certain of the good folks round about me. I was told that if I were a good lad, kept my hair tidy, and did not tease the cat, I would probably, when I died, go to a place where all day long I would sit still and sing hymns. (Think of it! as reward to a healthy boy for being good.) There would be no breakfast and no dinner, no tea and no supper. One old lady cheered me a little with a hint that the monotony might be broken by a little manna; but the idea of everlasting manna palled upon me, and my suggestions concerning the possibilities of sherbet or jumbles were scouted as irreverent. There would be no school, but also there would be no cricket and no rounders. I should feel no desire, so I was assured, to do another angel's "dags" by sliding down the heavenly banisters. My only joy would be to sing.

"Shall we start singing the moment we get up in the morning?" I asked.

"There won't be any morning," was the answer. "There will be no day and no night. It will all be one long day without end."

"And shall we always be singing?" I persisted.

"Yes, you will be so happy you will always want to sing."

"Sha'n't I ever get tired?"

"No, you will never get tired, and you will never get sleepy or hungry or thirsty."

"And does it go on like that for ever?"

"Yes, for ever and ever."

"Will it go on for a million years?"

"Yes, a million years, and then another million years, and then another million years after that. There will never be any end to it."

I can remember to this day the agony of those nights, when I would lie awake, thinking of this endless heaven, from which there seemed to be no possible escape; for the other place was equally eternal, or I might have been tempted to seek refuge there.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Waste Books G.11 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
Herr Camper related that when a missionary painted the flames of Hell to a congregation of Greenlanders in a truly vivid fashion, and described at length the heat they gave out, all the Greenlanders began to feel a strong desire to go to Hell.

Herr Camper erzählte, daß eine Gemeinde Grönländer, als ein Missionair ihnen die Flammen der Hölle recht fürchterlich malte, und viel von ihrer Hitze sprach, sich alle nach der Hölle zu sehnen angefangen hätten.

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