There is the loneliness of the midnight hour, and the loneliness of the desert and the uninhabited isle, and the heavy, depressing solitude of the mountains. But the worst loneliness of all is the loneliness of the crowd—the solitude of the city. You pass up and down the busy highways, and look into the windows of thousands of homes, and pass thousands of men and women hurrying hither and yon on their respective errands. They are men like yourself, of the same passions, hopes, fears, capacities for joy and sorrow. Multitudes, multitudes of faces! Yet your heart grows sick within you when you reflect that beyond the ordinary ties of humanity you are nothing to those thousands of persons, and they are nothing to you. If you have joy, you cannot share it with them; if you are bearing a heavy load of anxiety or care, they will not help you with it. You could lie down on the sidewalk and breathe your last, and not a heart among all those thousands of hearts would beat more rapidly, and not an eye would be suffused with tears. "No man cared for my soul" (Ps. 142:4) is the appalling realization that suddenly grips your mind.
At the summit of Crampton Gap, where a battle was fought two days before Antietam, is the picturesque mountain home of one of the most celebrated of the war correspondents; and not far from his home is a noble archway erected as a memorial to the correspondents of the Civil War. Some years ago a friend saw this famous correspondent at the depot in New York, hurrying for a train. The friend halted him and asked him whither he was bound. His response was "I'm going down to my home in the mountain in Maryland. It's too lonely here in New York."
There is a noble loneliness of the soul, the loneliness that sometimes comes in the path of duty, the loneliness that comes as the price of conviction, the loneliness of dissent from what is sinful. One can imagine that Vashti, the queen of Ahasuerus, was lonely after she had been deposed from her high office and separated from the Persian court because she refused to expose herself on the night of that drunken banquet, when Ahasuerus entertained a thousand of his lords. But it was a queenly and honorable and immortal loneliness, because it was the loneliness which was the price of honor and of self-respect. Far better to be lonely with a good conscience than to be in gay company with a bad conscience!