From The Early Years

Coming one Thursday in the late autumn from an engagement beyond Dulwich, my way led up to the top of the Herne Hill ridge. I came along the level out of which rises the steep hill I had to ascend.

While I was on the lower ground, riding in a hansom cab, I saw a light before me, and when I came near the hill, I marked that light gradually go up the hill, leaving a train of stars behind it. This line of new-born stars remained in the form of one lamp, and then another and another. It reached from the foot of the hill to its summit.

I did not see the lamplighter. I do not know his name, nor his age, nor his residence; but I saw the lights which he had kindled, and these remained when he himself had gone his way.

As I rode along I thought to myself, “How earnestly do I wish that my life may be spent in lighting one soul after another with the sacred lame of eternal life! I would myself be as much as possible unseen while at my work, and would vanish into eternal brilliance above when my work is done.”

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