" How many," he asks, " have grasped the significance of my sequence, A Narrow Vessel? Critics either overlooked it altogether or adverted to it as trivial and disconnected. One, who prized it, and wished I had always written as humanly, grieved that the epilogue turned it into an unreal allegory. He could not understand that all human love was to me a symbol of divine love ; nay, that human love was in my eyes a piteous failure unless as an image of the supreme Love which gave meaning and reality to its seeming insanity. The lesson of that sequence is just this. Woman repels the great and pure love of man in proportion to its purity. This is due to an instinct which she lacks the habits and power to analyse, that the love of the pure and lofty lover is so deep, so vast in its withheld emotion, as her entire self would be unable to pay back. Though she cast her whole self down that eager gulf, it would disappear as a water-drop in the ocean. And though the lover ask no more than her little tremulous self may think fit to give, she feels that so vast a love claims of right and equity her total surrender. Though the lover be generously unexacting, that wonderful gift, she feels, exacts no less than all, and then she cannot with her entire potency and abandonment of love adequate the hungry immensity poured around it. So, with instinctive fear, she recoils from a love which her all cannot equal. Though the lover asks no more than she iplease to give, his love asks her very being, demands a continual upward strain. The narrow vessel dreads to crack under the overflowing love which surges into it. She shrinks with tremor ; she turns to the lover whose shallow love has nought to frighten her ; she can halt where she pleases, far short of total surrender. It is an easy beginning, which seems to involve so little and involves-how much ! For she does not understand that once she begins to love, her nature will not rest short of supreme surrender (I assume an average nature capable of love), and that she will end by wasting her whole self on this thin soil, which will reject and anticipate it (while) she recoiled with dislike and fear from the great love which would have absorbed and repaid it an hundred-fold. Now this is but the image and explanation of the soul's attitude towards only God. The one is illustrated by the other. Though God asks of the soul but to love him what it may, and is ready to give an increased love for a poor little, the soul feels that this infinite love demands naturally its whole self, that if it begin to love God it may not stop short of all it has to yield. It is troubled, even if it did go a brief way, on the upward path ; it fears and recoils from the whole great surrender, the constant effort beyond itself which is sensibly laid on it. It falls back with relieved contentment on some human love, a love on its own plane, where somewhat short of total surrender may go to requital, where no upward effort is needful. And it ends by giving for the meanest, the most unsufficing and half-hearted return, that utter self-surrender and self-effacement which it denied to God. Even (how rarely) if the return be such as mortal may render, how empty and unsatiated it leaves the soul. One always is less generous of love than the other. Now this was the theme and meaning of my sequence. It did not (as it should have done) follow on to the facile welcome of a light love. But that was by implication glanced at in the epilogue, which drew what I have shown to be the real conclusion of the entire study- even to the possible most tragic issue of all, in the soul which has taken the kiss of the Spouse (so to speak) only to fall away from Him, ' the heart where good is well perceived and known, yet is not willed.' "
That sequence, he said, was written solely in the interests of allegory. Obviously the episode was not sufficient unto itself. Only once had he known love really sufficient for love poetry.