Imágenes de páginas

was from that moment an obvious coolness between the lady and ber guests; their enlivening society being far less frequently afforded her ; for she still hinted the continuance of their occasional visits in private.

Bolder grown, the sceptic, knowing how many will boast high connexions they never possessed, now began to imply doubts of so friendly a footing ever having existed at all, and, lamentable to add for the credit of ghostly courage, though doubtless within hearing, they might have risen to confront their asperser, they not only omitted the opportunity at the instant, but never came again! It was not long, however, before their motive became evident; for, one morning, their former friend found on her dressing-table a note, which had not been seen there when she retired at night; it was written on fancy paper, with a crow's quill, or perhaps, more appropriately, with a raven's. Its perfume was exotic, but not suspiciously so, and on the whole, it may be regarded as the latest criterion of the state of letters in the sphere from which it came; it ran thus :

“ Madam! “ Knowing that you have permitted us to be abused as No bodies, low company, and up-starts, we must inform you of a rule amongst us, the enforcement of which in the present case we owe to ancient usage and our own dignity; namely, never to enter a house, where one individual has the temerity to treat us with irreverence or mistrust." Signed,

“Certain Appearances, and Sounds of

uncertain extraction.” This conduct at least was spirited. After this, neither friend nor foe saw more of these inestimable visitors: and if really existing intruders would as quickly take a hint, and act with as much pride and delicacy, it would do even more good than thus freeing a weak head from the fatigue of inventing, or its tongue from that of uttering, such useless and inexcusable falsehoods.



Au! chide me not, that o'er my cheek

No tears of silent sorrow steal,
Nor deem the ardent passion weak,

My bosom long has learnt to feel ;
No words my secret flame reveal,

No sighs the tale of love impart,
Yet looks of outward peace conceal

The sadness of a bursting heart.
Yet do not blaine ine, if awhile

I wear the semblance of repose,
And woo a fleeting summer smile,

To gild the darkness of my woes :
Oh! 'tis the lingering ray that throws
O'er the dim

vale a blaze of light,
And bright in parting splendour glows

The herald of a cheerless night.

M. A.


NO. 1.-LOVE.
“ I have done penance for contemning love ;

Whose high imperious thoughts have punish'd me
With bitter fasts, and penitential groans,
With nightly tears, and daily heart-sore sighs ;
For, in revenge of my contempt of love,
Love hath chased sleep from my enthralled eyes,
And made them watchers of my own heart's sorrow."

Old Play. I have been all my days hovering on the very verge of the Kingdom of Love, without having ever once penetrated fairly into it. My whole “ May of life” has been lost in wandering alone among the Alps which overlook that beautiful region, and form the barrier between it and the dull, flat, wintry plains which lie on this side. I have reached their highest accessible points, and have dwelt there for years and


with rocks and ice-crags standing silently all about me, with clouds rolling beneath my feet, and the perpetual murmur of mountain torrents in my ears. I have dwelt there as if spell-bound, -not content to remain, and yet disdaining to descend into the Italy that lay smiling and basking in the sunshine below me. Fool that I was ! I prided myself on this ; forgetting that the earth is a globe, and that if I could have gone away from it in a balloon, till “ Epping forest appeared no bigger than a gooseberry bush,” I should still have been beneath the feet of nine-tenths of its inhabitants. It seldom happens that what we pride ourselves upon does not, at one time or another, become our torment and our shame. Thus it is with me: I havc dwelt among the rocks and ice-crags of the world, till I have become as hard and cold and senseless as they.

That my sojourn in that dreary country may not be without its use, at least to others, I intend to disclose a few of the observations and discoveries I have made there; leaving the application of them to those whom it may concern. But if, in doing this, I should see occasion to adopt a style not consonant to the taste and habits of the general reader, I bespeak either his forbearance or his neglect ; but I protest against his censure. He may pass over what I write, as something in which he feels no interest; but he will have no right to complain either of the matter or the manner, provided the one be true to nature, and the other intelligible. We may very fairly refuse to attend to a man who talks of nothing but himself, on the ground that his talk is either uninstructive or uninteresting to us; but to accuse him of not being able to talk of himself, without being at the time an egotist, is more than idle. Besides, to accuse a man of egotism, who is nameless and unknown, and who is likely for ever to remain so, will be neither philosophical nor good-natured ; and it will savour not a little of egotism in the accuser.

“ The fool hath said in his heart," there is no love!* On this belief

“ Oh love, no habitant of earth thou art !

An unseen seraph, we beliere in thee :
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart.
But never eye hath seen, or e'er shall see

-or rather, on this unbelief-I have thought, and argued, and acted; till, for me, the lie has become a truth. The whole of my youth has been passed in fondling the wayward child in my arms-in gazing on his form, inhaling his breath, drinking in the light of his eyes, and the beauty of his aspect; and all the time I have been scoffing at his power, and even denying his existence. My punishment is at once the most appropriate and complete that could have been devised: it is this, that, for me, he has no power—for me he has ceased to exist.

The mistake I made was, that I began to be wise too early. “Will Cupid our mothers obey?”—I set out with the determination to be a prudent and reasonable lover: for Reason and Prudence were ever the gods (I will not call them the goddesses) of my earthly idolatry; and they are so still, in the face of my bitter experience, and in despite of my better judgment. In order to make my love more available for the common purposes of life--more malleable—I have always contrived to mix up with it an alloy of worldly wisdom. By so doing, I thought to have produced a mixture that should be to the pure love of poetry and romance, exactly what Hall-marked gold is to the pure metal,-more capable of being worked up into articles of utility or ornament, and susceptible of a higher polish. But, even if I had succeeded in this, I forgot that I should, at best, have been possessed of a substance easy to be imitated, and liable to tarnish and change its colour. I now find, that by subjecting it to this process, I have necessarily destroyed its essential character, and made it neither love nor wisdom, but, on the contrary, a something not partaking of the qualities of either. The ingredients have been slowly and silently undergoing a chemical change; till at length the ethereal essence of the one has passed off in the form of an invisible vapour ;—the cohesion of the other has been destroyed; and the residuum is a shapeless, colourless, tasteless caput mortuum.

I have made this, to me, fatal discovery too late to repair, but not to repent of it; and there is still left me the forlorn hope of throwing myself at the foot of the CONFESSIONAL, and humbly and sincerely avowing that, unlike " the best of cut-throats," I have loved “too wisely, but not well.” But let me leave reflections which disturb my remaining peace in the exact proportion that they are apt and true, and precisely because they are so ;—and turn to the remembrance of facts and feelings—which bring back the remembrance of that which is gone; -in most cases the next best thing to the reality.

We are apt to say of any important event in our lives, • I shall never forget when such a thing happened.' How should it be otherwise, when the past gives the whole form and substance to our being ? For me the Past is every thing ; the Present is nothing. And, as to the Future, it is, so to speak, less than nothing. I throw myself into the

Thy unimagined form as it should be.
The mind hath made thee, as it peoples heaven
Ever with its own desiring fantasy;

And to a thought such shape and substance given,
As haunts the nnquenched soul, parch’d, wearied, wrung, and riven."

Ch. Harold, c. 4.

past, as into a sanctuary, forgetting all that is, and disregarding all that is to come!

And yet I tremble to approach the relation of this my first adventure in the enchanted region of Love. It is a vulgar error, to suppose that we necessarily take delight in recalling to the memory events which gave us delight as they were passing, but which are actually passed, and can never be renewed. The certainty that they are passed, and cannot return, more than neutralizes the pleasure the remembrance of them might otherwise bring to us : it changes the phantom of joy into a mockery of it. This was well known to one who looked more deeply into the dungeons of the human heart than any other modern has done : and it has been tacitly acknowledged by a living writer somewhat similar in habits of feeling, and whose authority is of great weight in such matters.

Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria.”

Infer. c. 5. Quoled in Corsair.

What greater pain
Than thinking upon happiness gone by

In the midst of grief? Such are the words the mighty poet of the Inferno puts into the mouth of his gentle Francesca, when she is called upon to relate the story of her love--to tell the brief tale of her past bappiness, while she is pining and withering away in penal fires. Mark, too, the effect even on the poet himself, mere spectator as he is, and “ one, albeit, unused to the melting mood :"

“Mentre che l' uno spirto questo,

L' altro piangeva si, che di pietade
I'venni men così, com' io morisse :

E caddi, come corpo morto cade.”
While one of these sad spirits thus discoursed,
The other wept so, that from very pity,
A death-like faintness seized me, and I fell

Prone to the earth, as a dead body falls. A less deep insight into the secret places of the human heart, would have induced the poet to invest the lips of his lovers with a momentary smile, at the imaginary renewal of their loves.

It is true that, by means of a healthful, active, and well-disciplined imagination, we may in some measure re-create, and enjoy over again past pleasures, provided the heart that is to be thus acted on by the imagination be not thoroughly worn and withered; because, what once has been, can never entirely cease to be. But, if the heart be utterly blighted, then, like the spirits of the damned, it is susceptible of pain alone; and the imagination becomes a curse, greater or less, in proportion to its activity and its power. If it can place before its victim a picture more or less vivid of past bliss, it is only to call to his recollection what has been his :-if it can “shew his eyes," it is only to “ grieve his heart."

But to my task. I stand shivering on the edge of my story, when I should plunge fearlessly in, and let its stream bear me onward, “ as a steed that knows its rider." The penitent, who willingly presents himself at the Confessional, must not deliberate, or he is lost. But, in order that these Confessions may not be so many tales“ signifying nothing,"—that they may not be without a moralit must be borne in mind that they are passages in the life of one who, though love has been the breath and food of his intellectual existence, has all along fallen into the fatal error of loving, as he said in the outset, too wisely, but not well,”—of one who sought to control that, the essence of which is to be incontrollable; to command that which was made to command; to bind that which is nothing if not free; to capitulate with that which will be obeyed: in short, of one who has treated love like a child, because he looks like one; forgetting, or neglecting to discover till it was too late, that he is—a god !

Prudence is a cardinal virtue in all affairs—except those of love; and there it is a cardinal vice—the worst of all, because it bears the outward aspect of a virtue. Four several times have I essayed to enter the Paradise of Love, linked arm-in-arm with this same worldlyminded Prudence, disguised under different habits ; and each time the seraph who guards the entrance has laughed to scorn my companion, and turned from me silently, and with a look of pity, mixed each time with an increased degree of contempt. A fifth time--after wandering alone about the confines, seeking in vain for an entrance, till my feet were as weary as the pilgrim's who has just reached the shrine of his saint; but, unlike him, with my hopes deferred instead of accomplished ;-at last I saw a gate suddenly open of itself to receive me, and heard the voices of a host of unseen seraphs inviting me to enter. But again I paused—again I pondered, debated, deliberated, and—was lost! for, before I could determine, the gate had closed, as it had opened, suddenly, and of itself; the voices changed their singing into shouts of laughter; and I felt at once that I was alone, and without hope, and that I deserved to be so. Before I turned away, to quit the spot for ever, I saw, in a niche beside the portal which had just closed itself upon me, a sculptured image of the god. It seemed instinct with life and motion, and did not frown at me, as I gazed upon it. I approached the beautiful figure-took it in my arms-clasped it to my breast, and, perchance, shed tears over it; but, as I did so, my touch seemed to change it into ice, and it struck a mortal coldness to my heart, which has never left it since !

Again I am wandering from my task. I must turn to it abruptly, and at once, or I shall go “ about it and about it” for ever, and to no purpose. Love is no respecter of persons. When I had left school a for good," as the phrase is, (and it is a phrase most “german to the matter" in this case, at least as it respects me,) I was fifteen years of age. At this time there lived, in a court near my father's house, a female fortune-teller.—The reader is mistaken in supposing that I am about to relate my having gone thither to consult her on my future destiny. Young as I was, Reason (twin sister to Prudence, and sworn foe to Love,) was already the goddess of my idolatry. I had exactly as much contempt for whatever could not be reduced to her principles, as I ought to have had respect for it on that very account, if I would fain have made myself a worthy and acceptable servant in the court of the baby monarch. There are times and circumstances in which reason is the worst of folly; but in the affairs of which I am now about to

« AnteriorContinuar »