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care to the altar! Unless I saw awry (for which, God wot, the hour gave poor excuse,) there was a cast of care upon the brow of my Lady Lovell, avouching that the past had more share than the present in her passing thoughts. After all, friend Elias, the fairest flowers have canker in the bud. Light-hearted as at times she may appear, it would not surprise me that this good and gracious creature,—maid, wife, widow,—yet enjoying no privilege from either of her conditions, -were at heart as sad as night.”
Such were the eventful destinies of the lovely woman described in the outset of our history. For though the domiciliation in her household of two persons of the age of Hope and her bridegroom became a guarantee for the extension of her sports and hospitalities, it was noted by the whole county that the bolder grew Lady Lovell's exploits in the field, and the more she strove to enliven the old hall with concerts of music and other delectable entertainments, the more noticeable became that absence of mind, which, in the midst of the throng, imparted vacancy to her eyes and imposed silence on her gentle lips.
It was only the veteran general, however, who obtained privilege to rally her upon these passing fits of sadness. Yet even he never presumed to advert to his suspicion that they arose from rumours of the libertine career of her husband. *
* To be continued.
THE BRITISH PATRIOT'S SONG.
BY THOMAS RAGG.
They talk to me of eastern realms, where the sun more brightly glows,
Where science and philosophy first dawned upon the earth,
They tell of far Columbia, the new, the western world,
They talk too of Australia, where, from the desert won,
“ Te dies, noctesque amo, te cogito, te desidero, te voco, te expecto, te spero, tecum oblecto me, totus in te sum.-P. A.
The first pang which absence inflicts upon us is, undoubtedly, in the positive act of separation—in the tearing ásunder of the links which bound us to one whom we possibly love far better than ourselves ; which tearing away cannot be effected without a certain quantity of pain, or without producing a wound which will not very easily heal. Then, when the separation has taken place, we mourn because we miss the much-prized presence in which we lately moved. We then look in vain for the smile which was wont to greet us, and for the kind word which was used to soothe us, for the gently stealing pace which had a music in itself, and for the hand-pressure which spoke more than words could do : and this is a positive and (if I may so call it) physical bereavement, and, as such, justifies us in our grief. But this is the sorrow with which we sorrow for the dead-for those whom we know that we may no more see-between whom, and us, the link has been clearly divided, cut away with a sharp knife, leaving a chasm which no hope can fill. Now, absence has other and greater griefs than these. It may appear paradoxical to say that hope adds to our sorrow, but so it is. When the torch of hope is quite extinguished, the darkness is, no doubt, at first great and drear ; nevertheless the eye becomes accustomed to it by degrees, and the day comes sooner or later, when it forgets that there was ever such a thing as light; whereas, while the torch only burns dimly and in the distance, casting forth at intervals a sickly flash, which lasts but for a second, the attention continues fascinated and riveted to the feeble ray, and watches feverishly and longingly its rise and fall.
The peculiar sting, or rather gnawing of absence, seems to me, in the ignorance which we naturally experience of the doings, sayings, and thinkings of those whom we have left: in the feeling which
“ Grows all too anxious,
L. E. L. in the vague and misty idea which has superseded the vivid picture: in the liability under which we labour of (for want of knowledge) rejoicing when we should be sad, and weeping when we should be full of joy-in the quantity of life and existence which is spent apart; not so much because by this means there remains the less to spend, (although this is necessarily in itself a grief,) as because we feel an involuntary jealousy of that time having existed for him or her, and not having been ours. In the uncertainty in which we live—in the doubts which naturally beset us—in the degrading selfishness which makes us grieve on hearing that she from whom we are parted is
presence when he
joyful and gay–in the sickening of heart when day follows day, and week follows week, and month comes after month, and no letter, no token arrives to gladden our soul. It is in these moments that we sometimes call upon forgetfulness to come to our aid, and strive to cheat ourselves into a belief that we may wipe away the past as with a sponge, and begin our lives anew : futile attempt! The tree of memory is so firmly rooted as to defy the axe. Nothing but a slow and gradual decay will work its destruction. Coeval with the heart whose sap has nourished it, it withers with it, slowly and sadly, and only falls when the soil from whence it sprung is for ever parched and dried
up Madame d’Abrantes has somewhere said, en peut se séparer d'une personne aimée, mais on ne l'est que materiellement ; la pensée est un lien que rien ne saurait rompre.” And this is true. Oblivion will not come at our call, and perhaps, if it would, we should act like the old man in the fable,* who cried out to death to release him from his toils, yet shrank from his
These are some of the pangs brought to us by absence, and I set them (in many cases) above those caused by a separation worked by death : in the one case the blow is heavy, but it falls but once: and though the bruise is severe, yet after a time it has nothing to do but to get well as quickly as it may; whereas, on the other hand, the wound which seemed far more light at first, continues to fester and inflame, and to poison, with its increasing irritation, the purest springs of life.
Nor is this all; for such is the weakness of human nature, that fear must ever accompany and add to our grief. Absence is generally considered, and not without reason, the great test of the affections. Who shall say that the feeling which now is, to-morrow will be ? It is one thing to be a hot lover, full of sighs and oaths, protesting of constancy, while under the beam of his mistress' eye, and another to be the faithful watcher in a distant land, treasuring, with a painful joy, the memory of things gone past. Constancy, if by it be understood one undeviating devotion to the eidolon which we have set up, is not given to every one.
There are a thousand things which may happen in the brief space of a month or year, which, in some constitutions, will change the whole current of the feelings, and render that indifferent which was once most dearly prized. Burton, that quaint old anatomist of the human mind, tells what he rightly calls a
pleasant story,” out of Petrarch, of a young man, who, desperately loving a damsel who had lost one eye, was sent by his friends to travel, in the hope of weaning him from his ill-placed passion. On his return, meeting with the object of his pristine flame, he scarcely noticed her. She exclaiming with surprise, “ Ego sum,” he replied, “ at ego non sum ego," I am no longer the same man; and forthwith questioned her how, and by what chance, she had lost her eye.
6. No," answered she, I have lost none, but you have found yours."
“ Fuge littus amatus,” is a medicine prescribed by the poet as likely to extinguish love; and the Grecian historian thought there
La Fontaine's Fables. Fab. xvi. liv. 1.
were few passions from which a man might not be restored in an absence of a year.
On the other side we have several beautiful examples of affection which has survived the deadening influence of absence, as well as the rude grasp of separation. Penelope, as sung by Homer, Imogene, one of the fairest of Shakspeare's fair creations,* Griselda, that most patient lady so infamously used by Saluzzo, and the fair Amanda,+ who having sought her lover throughout the world, and at length meeting him, fell dead from joy in his arms. These are instances in which absence failed to show its usual power, but their very celebrity proves that, although beautiful, they are rare.
It was a custom in Britanny, a few centuries since, that when a maiden was betrothed, she should wear a veil over her features during the absence of her future lord, thus betokening grief and an indifference to the pleasures of the world : but on his return she went forth
au soleil comme une fleur, faisant jouir de la vue de ses attraits, et le ciel et l'amour.” This might be well imitated in our days, wherein forms are too much neglected, not that as a mere exterior show it could be of much value, but as the outward form might tend to cherish and maintain a corresponding feeling within.
Shakspeare, in Sonnet 97, has beautifully chided absence, saying,
• How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
And indeed there are few who have not felt the force of the above quotation : who have not looked upon a world which, although teeming with all the riches of summer, has been a blank to them, whose fruits have been without savour, whose flowers without charm, and this only because one has been away.
Absence, however, does not always act equally upon the mind; there are times and moods in which we suffer much less from it than at others : for instance, “ il est facile de s'éloigner de sa maîtresse," § says a shrewd French writer, “ aux deux extremités de la chaine qui nous lie: heureux où on a la confiance, irrité ou trahi on en prend le courage: mais dans la mobilité des impressions, dans la fièvre du doute, le sacrifice est au-dessus de nos forces." Unfortunately that
fièvre du doute” is what we chiefly live in, for, with the best dispositions towards trustfulness in the world, we cannot always free ourselves from a certain dread.
That the most fickle and volatile have sometimes bowed and wept beneath the spell of absence, biography affords us many proofs ; Everard, better known as Johannes Secundus, having lost his love, desponded for awhile, and doubted whether
66 An calor hic alias possit sibi quærere sedes,
Hactenus hunc certi, Julia sola tenet.”||
* See the Decamerone-Boccaccio.
+ Sterne-Tristram Shandy. I Tristan le Voyageur,
Grangeneuve. By H. Delatouche. || Joh. Secundus, Epist. Petro Clerico.