Meaning: the quality of being inadequate or falling short of perfection; "they discussed the merits and demerits of her novel"; "he knew his own faults much better than she did"
Meaning: a mark against a person for misconduct or failure; usually given in school or armed forces; "ten demerits and he loses his privileges"
Now I am humbly and sincerely conscious that this is a demerit in me and not in Hamlet; and yet it would not do me any good to pretend that I like Hamlet as much as Macbeth when, as a matter of fact, I don't.
He had written only a short time before, "With an awe that is not fear, and a consciousness of demerit which does not exclude hope, I await the opening, before my steps, of the gates of the eternal world." Dead at sixty-one!
And therefore whatever past actions it cannot reconcile or APPROPRIATE to that present self by consciousness, it can be no more concerned in than if they had never been done: and to receive pleasure or pain, i.e. reward or punishment, on the account of any such action, is all one as to be made happy or miserable in its first being, without any demerit at all.