“in minute particulars”


He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.

— William Blake, Jerusalem


Some train of thought today got me to recall a memory that I haven’t recalled for a long time.

I was thinking about people who are self-righteous about rectifying what they see as wrongs, in general.

Amway, the memory is as follows. I will probably be seen as trying to portray myself in a positive light, as a saintly figure. That’s not my wish or intent. It’s just that a certain action I recall seemed relevant and brought to mind the quote from Blake.

And, I do feel that I have a large capacity for empathy, which I undoubtedly got from my mother And that, along with writers such as Blake, the teachings of Christ in the Bible, mostly gotten by me in Sunday school, had a major influence on what I perceive as right or desirable when I am acting at my best.

It was a very cold winter night during the period when I was newly married. My wife and I were living on a first floor apartment on the East Side. I was walking home from the 86th Street subway station. It was a ten or fifteen minute walk to our apartment.

I passed a sleeping man on the sidewalk of a side street. He was insufficiently protected against the cold. No blanket. I don’t recall what he was wearing.

I went home. My wife and I had a blanket which I valued highly. It was old. My wife had had it for I know not how long. An old, thick brown blanket. Woolen. It always kept us warm.

I hated to part with it, but I thought to myself, that homeless man needs it. Now. I took the blanket back to the spot where he was sleeping, draped it over him, and left. He didn’t stir.

Something else that may have stirred this memory. Late tonight, I wrapped a blanket around my wife, who was sleeping on the couch. It makes me feel good to do this for her.


— Roger W. Smith

   February 16, 2022

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