Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  Solitude

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Lionel Strachey (1864–1927)


From “The World’s Wit and Humor”

ALONE! Yes, utterly alone, without a friend, without a companion, in this great melancholy waste of mournful woe! Why do I find myself thus isolate from joy and pleasure and mirth? What have I done that I should be a wretched, solitary outcast, condemned to everlasting neglect? Wherefore has my lot shaped itself so cruelly? Ah, ’tis a bitter, bitter thing indeed! Surrounded once with gaiety and gladness, I am now cut off from all congenial souls. The kindly eye, the ready smile—the light of neither shall I see again. In vain might I lift up my voice, and cry aloud; none would hear me, none would understand. For I am banished to a place where all is darkest gloom; I felt its fatal dreariness creep into the marrow of my being, until now I am sunk down, down, down, to that unfathomable depth of desolation whence there can be no return. Set about by the terrors of this awful solitude, I would plead to man’s compassion, yea, to sweet Heaven itself, for merciful deliverance. But only too well am I aware that my cry must go unheeded. It is useless to hope: my spirit is crushed, my faith is lost. Whatever belief I might once have cherished that I should some day escape, and (far away from here) be greeted by smiling faces—that trust died within me long ago. Broken to dumb resignation, have I yielded up the very memory of cheerfulness and delight. Laughter is to me a forgotten sound. So my complaint shall cease; it is of no avail, for I have long known the worst: I guessed the horrid solitude that must be mine the instant I came to this afflicting place of saddest, blackest tribulation, grief, and sorrow—I, the Only Joke in this whole volume.