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for love, like great sorrow, is almost sacred ; and advice, or even suggestions, may appear intrusive. But the love period of a true woman's life is the most important portion of her mental existence; and a period, too, which needs reflection, discipline, and self-control, to avoid many dangers and ensure many blessings.
Why love should be what it is, what it always has been, and no doubt always will be, is one of the many mysteries by which we are surrounded. It is different from affection and from friendship, while uniting some of the characteristics of each of those sentiments. is certainly not always-indeed, very seldom-a matter of preference dictated by reason; but it is the selection by an overpowering instinct of some one person who is, for no reason that can be defined, but by an impulse which over-rules every other consideration, dearer, and, magnified by the eyes of love, more heroic and fascinating, than any other in the wide world—to be lived for, hardly lived without ; to be died for, and to be died with.
This universal passion, this masterful impulse, which has been the same in all ages, which is scarcely ever experienced a second time in any man or woman's life, must be a great elemental force in the mental world. It stimulates, elevates, strengthens, and ennobles the whole character. It makes the boy a man, the girl a woman, by developing a mental life heretofore latent; it makes
the weak, for the time, strong; the mean almost generous and noble. “Base men," says Shakespeare, " being in love, have then a nobility in their nature more than is native to them ;'' and assuredly the time of love, when there is such an awakening of the more ardent qualities of our nature, is not the time when low and ungenerous motives are most likely to influence our thoughts and actions.
One-sided love is imperfect love. Marriage, hich is the heaven-appointed result of love, consists in union of two; so love, which comes first, is a voluntary, informal contract, which requires two parties. True love is the affinity which brings two souls together, each to depend upon, and be elevated and strengthened by union with the other. If one loves, and the other does not-to use a familiar, perhaps undignified, but forcible phrasethere is a mistake somewhere, and an effort of will must be made to reconsider the validity of the emotion. Then love must be conquered; it is an anomaly, a positive without a negative. There is nothing respecting which human nature is so easily deceived as the reciprocity of love ; and nothing in which the consequences of a mistake are more disastrous. A young girl, herself sincere, incapable of duplicity, meets with a young man who appears, by some mental process which she cannot and does not care to define, to be the beau ideal of all that is admirable and loveworthy in man. Her maidenly reserve almost shrinks from the new idea which has taken possession of her mind; but she is tremblingly conscious of happiness in his presence, and of unhappiness in his absence; and her candid, transparent nature cannot conceal from his observant eyes that he is an object of peculiar regard. He, too, may experience a responding impulse, but also he may not, and flattered by the effect he has created, allow himself to offer attention very commonplace in the eyes of other people, but of the deepest import to her. If she is one, a marriage with whom might, in the estimation of a merely worldly nature be desirable, he may proceed to more explicit declarations, simulating the devotion she really feels; and then comes marriage, and the eyes of the poor girl are opened to the deception of one-sided love. She is a wife in name, perhaps receiving respectful attention and decorous kindness; but where is love ? :
It is not strange or cruel-it is, indeed, natural, and one of the highest exercises of affection—that 'parents and her friends should endeavour to use their influence to make the girl see more clearly. They may know that the man of her choice is unloving, if not otherwise unworthy, and in all affection warn her of the consequences of the match she is making. When such warning is given, evidently in a spirit of affection, it should not be disregarded ; and love is not so strong in its shackles that they cannot be thrown off by all except weak and irresolute natures.
Where love is really mutual, it is the strongest of all bonds. Marriage does not change its nature, but developes it, by adding more certain knowledge, Love walks by faith; marriage is a life of certainties. Happy the youth or maiden who finds the life partner to be what the ideal of courtship promised. Each learns from the other ; each has a keener comprehension of the nature of the other ; each has a noble ambition to be more like the other. The husband's character is modified by emulating the womanly tenderness, sincerity, and devotion of his wife; she becomes stronger and more calmly resolute by association with him..
This is the true union which love should foreshadow; if it does not, it is a sham love, a self-deception, which should be torn out of the heart, however great the pain. But it does foreshadow it, and if it is really the mutual love
of two human beings drawn together by mysterious but all-powerful affinity, it cannot be rent asunder without a destruction of the spiritual life. “Prudent' parents who “pooh-pooh sentimentality, and who do not believe in broken hearts and nonsense of that kind,” and insist that their daughter shall cast off one and accept another, from their point of view more eligible, are simply setting up their own short-sighted wills against one of the preeminent facts of the moral government of the world; and the result is shown in the cold, loveless, conventionally decorous, but at heart hateful, unions; or, worse still, the open rupture of all ties.
The“ broken heart," the blighted life hidden in an early grave, appears much more frequently in fiction than in real life ; but the withered heart, the heart that bears no fruit of love, is unfortunately common. The body lives long enough, perhaps, to see a cheerless old age, with no happy memories, no sympathy and affection ripened by years; but the inner heart of cheerful, hoping, trusting love died in youth, and ever since there has been a concealed mourning over its grave.
Love is not to be talked about, to be displayed like a new dress or ornament, not to be expressed to confidantes, or to “gush " in letters and poetical quotations. It is very much between two people, and of very little interest to anybody else, except to those to whom the happiness of the young lovers is of paramount interest. It is a treasure locked in the heart of hearts; if paraded much, most probably it is a sham, not a real jewel.
Love has been called a divine madness, because it is so predominant in its influence; but the epithet is misapplied. Madness is a perversion of the faculties; love a luxuriant development, not a morbid growth, which will be absorbed into and strengthen the entire mental fabric. Girls in love—and young men, too-should remember this, that in loving now they are preparing for what is to come. They are on the first fight of an ascent, and the future will be affected by the present. Loving glances, tender words, mutual confidence for a season, are not all of love. There is a future as well as a present; and to ensure the happiness of the future, there must be patience, prudence, resolution to bear and forbear, which qualities are not cold, hard antagonists of love, but its truest safeguards and supports,
HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS.
IN those days, there was a pleasant spice of uncertainty
about Southern journeyings. Cars, steamboats, and stages ran in happy independence of each other and the time-table. The traveller never knew at what point of juniper swamp, or pine barren, or cotton plantation, he would be set down to while away some hours in botanical or ethnological investigations, if his mind were sufficiently at ease, or in chewing the bitter cud of impatience, if it were not. Defective machinery and lazy officials laboured mightily together to miss connections, and wherever human inefficiency came short, down swept a hurricane from the skies, and strewed the roads with prostrate trunks of trees, through which the cumbrous stage-coach had literally to hew its path.
More than one such delay attended Bergan's progress southward. Under their teasing friction, the shadowy anxiety with which he had set out, increased to a positive weight of alarm. Reaching Savalla on the twelfth evening, he stopped neither for rest nor refreshment, but looked up a horse, Aung himself into the saddle, and set off towards Berganton at a rapid rate. Outside the city limits, however, he was forced to slacken his pace. The night was dark, no faintest gleam of moon tempered the black obscurity of the tree-arched and swamp-bordered road. Compelled thus to feel his way, as it were, it was dear midnight when he came upon the outlying fields of Oakstead. Reluctantly he told himself that an interview with Carice, to-night, was out of the question ; she and all the household were certain to be fast asleep, it was doubtful if even the faintest outline of the darkened dwelling would be discernible through the murky night. He had no choice but to ride on to Ber. ganton.
Scarcely had he reached this conclusion, when a radiant window shone vision-like through the trees ; a little farther on, and the cottage, though yet distant, came full into view, through an opening in the forest, brilliantly illuminated from roof to foundation as for a festivity of ho ordinary magnitude. Even the surrounding lawn was lighted up into the semblance of day; and in its remotest porner, a group of negroes, dancing to some strain of music inaudible to the wondering spectator, looked fanastic enough for the unsubstantial images of a dream.
For a moment or two, Bergan suspected his jaded enses of playing him false, as a step preparatory to aking leave of him altogether. There was something too acongruous to be real, between this gay scene of festivity nd the picture presented by Doctor Remy's last letter,—a all
, silent, house, its master a feeble, exacting con
valescent, its mistress and daughter worn out with anxiety and watching. An intuition of some unlookedfor calamity seized him. Putting spurs to his horse, he dashed over the mile that intervened between him and the cottage, at a scarcely less furious rate than that with which Vic had borne him over the same road-how well he remembered it!-just one year ago. He did not suspect that he was now to taste the bitterest consequences of that ride.
In a very few moments, he rode through the open gates of Oakstead. · Here, he found the avenue to the house encumbered with teams and saddle-horses, tied to every tree and post. The every-day aspect of these sleepy animals was like a bucket of cold water to his excited imagination. Strains of dancing music, too, came to his ear,—Autes and violins, none too well played, sent forth the notes of a popular air. Plainly, he had been a fool to connect the thought of calamity with anything so exceedingly common-place as an evening party. If Godfrey Bergan chose to call in his friends and neighbours to dance over his restoration to health, who should gainsay him? Convalescents had their fancies, and must be humoured.
In this cooler frame of mind, it naturally occurred to Bergan that he was in no fit condition to face a festal throng. His appearance, thus way-worn and travelstained, would be scarcely more timely than that of the Ancient Mariner to the wedding guest. It would look as if he, too, had a tale of horror to impart, and Carice might be unpleasantly startled, Carice, who little imagined him so near to her! At the thought, a strange, indefinable thrill and shiver passed over him, hard to define as either pleasure or pain.
After a moment's consideration, he dismounted, and walked quietly round to the spot where the negroes still kept up their lively dance. One of them, Bruno by name, stood a little apart, a smiling spectator of the merriment that he was too old to join. It was easy to touch him on the shoulder, without attracting the notice of the rest. The negro turned, and instantly recognized Bergan; but his exclamation of surprise was cut short by the young man's significant gesture, and he silently followed him to a spot equidistant between the cottage and the dancers.
“All well, Bruno ?” was Bergan's first inquiry.
"All berry well, Massa Arling. You's welcome back, sah. But I'se sorry you's too late for de weddin'.”
The wedding,—the word fell almost meaninglessly on Bergan's ear, so intent was he on satisfying himself that