« PoprzedniaDalej »
eries are tokens of a no less fiëry eruption; and as the one changes the whole face of a country, so the other discovers new features in the character. Sometimes, in the male youth, a passionate love for dogs and horses is the smoke that portends a fire, while in the female, quick tears, sudden resolutions to walk in the street, and to be less regardful of dress than is usual -smiles and sadness, unaccountable and mysterious — show that a change is at hand. The future poetic lover will often show it, in regard for inanimate objects, a favorite spot, a plant, a book. Great amativeness of temperament will, at this time, be apt to fix itself to things, with life and warmth. In the first, love will be a genial glow, that shall ripen his nature, and fertilize his mind. In the latter, it will be a tornado of passion, full of gusts, and squalls, and shipwreck, hurrying him to unripe enjoyments, and forbidden scenes.
Bulwer says finely, in Ernest Maltravers : ‘Nine times out of ten, it is over the bridge of sighs that we pass the narrow gulf from youth to manhood. That interval is usually occupied by an illplaced or disappointed affection. We recover, and find ourselves a new being. The intellect has become hardened by the fire through which it has passed. The mind profits by the wreck of every passion, and we measure our road to wisdom by the sorrows we have undergone.' This is the notion of Shakspeare, modernized.
Now it often happens in these affairs — yes, nine times out of ten — that our lover' fixes himself as a worshipper at the shrine of some one older than himself. The youth at eighteen or twenty loves the full-blossomed rose of twenty-two or twenty-four. Schoolmisses are too fond of laughing, to appear to have any serious feel. ings, and young lovers are very solemn. He loves with the devotion of an idolater. He loves the richness, the fulness, the ripeness, of his mistress. Her careless laughter has become tempered to winning smiles, and her sweet seriousness feeds his sad passion. He thinks it is a melancholy sympathy with his fate; for having read that the course of true love never did run smooth,' he is already preparing himself for a catastrophe. Reason, too, tells him that it all must come to nought. Passion, love of love, urges him on. • He sucks in melancholy as a weasel sucks eggs.' It nourishes him. He hopes against hope, and conforms to his fate. Happy may he consider himself
, who gives his early romance of feeling, (we will not call it love, in the apostolic sense,) to a worthy object; one who can appreciate the part she has to act toward these young enthusiasts. Woman is never so worshipped, as by those younger than herself. No influence is so powerful as that she may exert over her admirer none so salutary to him.
None can so ripen his taste, his love of elegance and refinement. None can so shield him from the corrupting examples of the world. She will give a meaning to his studies, and the idea of beauty in his mind will call up in him a respect for the beautiful in nature and morals. He will revolt at vice, and recoil from the suggestions of sense. Wherever he is, his divinity is present with him. She is veiled in the cloud, and whispers to him in the breeze. He dreams of her by night, and the thought of her by day gives a tinge of romance to the most common and laborious pursuit. He writes a 'ballad' to her
eye-brow, or to her glossy hair; he paints the rose on her cheek, (for ourselves we do not like red cheeks,) or dwells upon the sweetness of her lips; but it is a 'woful ballad,' for his instinct tells him that she will love another. He knows she ought not to love him; he never expected she would. If she could condescend to that to love him to bend from the throne of her peerless beauty, to give to him those harvest charms! Ah, no! He only pleads to admire, to worship, to adore. Man never really loves his superior, nor woman her inferior. When the former occurs, it is idolatry, which never thinks of matrimony, not love.
* And now the day, the hour has come,' when our lover' must wake from this trance of youth, and wake he will, like Rip Van Winkle on the mountains, to find all changed. The lady may meet her .true love,' or he may force open the secret by a hasty avowal, in some hour of mad passion, or may wake naturally, as one wakes from sleep, when he has got enough. There are ways enough to break our youthful dreams. Then despair and thoughts of suicide may be in his mind, while one might count an hundred, and then a fiood of tears, long or short, according to the secretions. He already feels better. For the succeeding three months, he will be much by himself, and spend his hours in reading, walking, thinking. Our lover' is rather shy of women, and he is become reserved. He has something he does not tell to any. Still he is sorrowful in his cheerfulness, and his smiles are efforts to conceal tears. He grows apace. How ripe his thoughts ! How manly his deportment ! How respectful to women! In a year or so, our lover' will make a capital husband.
We commiserate those who mistake passion for love, and who hurry into matrimony with those whom nature only intended as instruments to fit them for marrying somebody else. This is no injustice to women; for the benefit is often mutual. Women have as much need to undergo this discipline, as men. Very false, then, is the course of those parents who immure their daughters within walls, and teach them to regard a man, unless the one chosen by themselves for a husband, as a kind of dangerous animal. How can a woman be likely to select a proper mate for herself, when any
person whom she may chance to meet, immediately, from her ignorance, becomes invested with a mystery which may easily be nourished into passion by a warm imagination ? Perhaps it is not saying too much to affirm, that most unhappy connections in marriage are the result of passion, falsely denominated love. The less of passion in matrimony, the better. Life then, if not wedded bliss, is serene confidence, and respectful affection. Passion, from its very nature, must subside ; and it is better that it be experienced in a harmless love affair, and be suffered to evaporate, like a tight-corked soda bottle, drawn forcibly, in foam and sparklings, than to ooze away gradually in wedded bonds, like the same beverage, with a leaky cork, which soon becomes a stale and insipid dose, even for the thirsty.
There is hardly to be found a common saying, which has not some sense at the bottom of it; and though the one we are about to quote contains abhorrent associations, yet for the reasons above noted, it is, in a sense, true. It is said, that 'a reformed rake makes the best
husband.' Why, except that, if he marry at all, he commits the act without passion? Very imaginative men make poor marriages, generally, because they wed upon the spur of the occasion. If we had by us D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature,' we might fill pages with sorry anecdotes to this point. Patterns for good wives are found, oftener than any where else, at the tables of those who have married some years after the age of writing 'woful ballads to their mistress' eye brow,' in a calculating spirit, and with a fair balance of profit and loss. This may be a revolting doctrine to those who are yet in the swaddling clothes of inexperience; but as matrimony is to be judged a benefit or disadvantage, according as it produces happiness or misery, we prefer to offend romance rather than fact.
There is great choice in the circumstances under which the lover must be educated for the husband. He must not learn disgust and hate for women; for, take them all in all, they are potent sweeteners of life. He must not learn his early sorrow at the hands of a coquette, who will joy in her conquest, and perhaps excite revenge in his bosom. A young man may learn a great deal about his social nature, and arrive at very considerable knowledge of the sex, by an engagement brought about by friends and aunts, under the approbation of parents. This is the hot-house culture of love. In this case, he may be entitled to privileges. He may take the lady's arm under his own, in coming from church, and in walking Broadway. He may visit her at any hour between eleven a. M., and ten P. M.; lounge upon her sofa, wear a silk pocket-handkerchief, and go unperfumed. He may give advice about walking-shoes, insist upon a shawl, help on with India-rubbers, and other occasional gear. A young man of sober blood, (none but second-rate men ever submit to this training,) will grow amazingly in this course. Such an one will soon be cured of smoking, ultra whiskers, or any other extravagance. He will be considered a 'safe man,' and the old merchants, if his father-in-lawto-be is rich, will notice him not a little. The prudent and cold will say he is a nice young man,' and every body will pretend to take a deep interest in him, and at the same time feel for him — nothing. A sober serenity shall indeed crown his days, for a season, but he may not thus know the sweetness of the poet's love. Dear is the secret treasure of the heart; and how like heavenly music does that voice sound, that we have run risks to hear! What ecstacy like that short stolen interview, the work of months, the precursor of years of separation - a meeting and a parting in a breath; when tears and smiles are commingled on the cheek, like summer sunshine cooled by summer showers ? No; he may not even have the excitement of a quarrel, or the stimulus of a jealous pang; and when the explanation comes, if happily it does come at all, it will be a very orderly affair, and the breaking such feeble bonds will not strain a muscle.
But let it not be thought there is no romance in life, because we contend for the wearing away of this early enthusiasm of passion. The romance of reality, the romance of good sense, is the deepest, the fullest, the highest of all. That is not romance which hurries a young man into the arms of his mistress, and brings both to disappointment and poverty. It is merely nonsense and folly - shortsightedness and rashness. It is thought that we must be uncommon, to be romantic, no matter how false and unnatural our position. Novelty of circumstance is often mistaken for romance. In love affairs, some, therefore, run away; a lady marries her footman; a master his maid-servant. The mistake in these people is, that though they make the world stare, and sometimes laugh, the actors are aware of their true relation all the time; and the end of the play having come, the curtain, whether of green or dimity, having fallen, the trial begins. Goldsmith never said a wiser thing than his remark, 'that he is a great fool who measures his happiness by what the world thinks of it;' and we complain that there is so much gotup-romance in love and matrimony, so much acting, so much regard to what the world will say, in a matter so entirely private in its nature. It is not infrequent to find the characters in the latest novels and poems being acted out, with much straining and effort, in the very world we walk in. We go to the theatre, and shed tears with the fictitious characters before us; but our eyes are not blinded with grief, because we know it is 'all in fun.' The very next day we have a real fac simile of this unreal distress, in which the actors are only kept from crying themselves, because they have the excitement of playing a part. The pageant of the funeral keeps the mourners' eyes dry. It is only at home that we feel sorry.
When a woman of sense let her have beauty too, (and she will, of some sort, if she be sensible and amiable,) gives her heart to a man of established character, who perhaps has . sighed like furnace' and got over his fever, and been out in the world to struggle for his place and his reputation; ono who has kept his feelings for woman pure by his chasteness, and not mingling too much with them, there is a romance acted; but it is all inside, in the heart. The
arrangements for the wedding are made without flutter, and our gentleman, about the right time, walks with composed and dignified step to the house of his betrothed, rejoicing like a strong man to run a race. There is no giggling to hide tears, but some honest laughter; there are no melancholy faces, for it is a contract reason approves. There is something natural about it. He takes his wife like a man who walks by day-light. There are no glorious uncertainties here; this is no love-in-a-cottage business. The romance, the delight, we feel in thinking of such a case is, that a man has had the force of character to work his way to deserve the respect of a sensible woman, and to put himself in a situation to repay her affection ; that he has subdued his passions to his reason; that he is the oak around which woman, the ivy, may bind its caressing tendrils, and be lifted by it into sunshine. How can you associate that beautiful idea of Irving's with one of the very romantic, dapper little matches of the season ? Year goes
still husband and wife are always together, an union of heart and mind. Now it is, that the world wonders ; now they are called 'the romantic couple' — love each other so'. * nothing like it.'
Probably the romance Shakspeare meant to satirize, cannot and ought not to be found in present civilized life, where his language is spoken. That romance of passion the poets love, where life is valueless without woman's smile ; that admiration of beauty, which
nerved the arm of the young knight, who gloried to do battle for any petticoat, is extinct; partly because woman is capable of taking some care of herself, and castles are left unguarded. Indeed, our present state of civilization is founded upon a surrender of our tastes and passions to reason and law, no less than the giving up certain privileges for certain protection in life and property. We tacitly agree to conform to general rules in courtship and marriage. Hence the poet and novelist are driven to tell what people think and feel in love, rather than what they do and say; so that romance is the ‘history
of mind' more truly now, than when it was said to be so, by some great man.
The manner of wooing among the aborigines of our country is delicate and respectful, and what is meant by the term romantic. The lover seats himself near the wigwam of his mistress, and during the long night, pours out the constancy and sincerity of his passion through the reed. The air is monotonous, and plaintive, and full of devotion. We all know how long this devotion lasts. They trap their squaws with music and promises, and make them slaves. The most ardent lovers do not always make the best husbands; and though one may sigh like furnace,' and write sonnets to his mistress' eye-brow,' still such eruptions of passion are safest at a distance; and the volcano can only be approached with pleasure and success, when the fire is well smothered.
The age we have endeavored to illustrate, is deeply interesting to the old and the young. The former love to look back upon its fervid interests and wild excitements; perhaps to philosophize upon the passions, and perhaps to find their present safety the result of some sad experience. The latter grow strong in hope, as they feel swelling in their bosoms the energies that begin to pant for action. With the world all before them where to choose, and a self reliance worthy of chivalrous days, no period of life awakens warmer sympathies than that of youth, full of ardor, of generosity, and devotion. But the young man must take care, lest like him who left the caravanserai early in the morning, and was lured from his path by the flowers and syren songs about him, until night set in, and despair took possession of his soul, he also shall sit down and weep bitterly over a too improvident haste, and rash yielding to his impulses.