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better faith: that affection given, I knew, by God's own

I decree could not fail of affection returned: that my trust was anchored on Heaven and Désirée.

O blessed faith, and lost beyond earthly redemption ! that angels might envy, and ruined by her voice who revealed it! O for one hour of that innocent confidingness I forfeited without transgression-one return in the warmth of reality to what I know only by remembrance one instant's Childhood !—The phantoms seem to rise at my call : I see the image of Long-ago, the visionary child, the features honoured from youth, the truthful and confiding eyes, the frank smile of undoubting heartsome affection, Désirée as I saw her here : speak Was this indeed so predestined from the beginning? Was there no truth in the prophecy of childhood ? Was there no prophecy in the omens of youth? Was there no confidence in the confiding: no tenderness in the tender-hearted: was there no love in love ? Could it have been decreed so?— mercy unmerciful: womanhood pitiless : the cry of nature hushed : the hands of supplication cast off : affection despised, the honour of years lightly valued : the loss absolute : the regret implacable, the farewell everlasting?

XXXVIII I have little to add to a narrative, as it is perhaps too extended. There is no need to enter on later details, the where or whither of a life which, in

any

human sense, had lost its purpose and ideal in Désirée. Already the bitter consolation of calling these things to memory has passed : the dull narcotic of this mechanical exercise is exhausted of any palliating virtue. · Non-existence', as the deep-thinking poet of Athens said, “is inestimable': Better, no doubt, not to have been, but, having been, better to have loved and lost, better expiate even thus the crime of love, than not to have known her. Here,

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at least, if here only, there is no regret for the past : here, if in this Aux of life, man may anywhere possess assurance, no shadow of change possible in the hereafter. These confessions began with protest against the common doctrine on the fate of sorrow; and so with calm conviction I may close them. Biologists tell us, one essential difference between substances animate and inanimate is, that the prime elements, compounded in these by a simple binary arrangement, are in the former united by force of life into subtler and more complex combinations. And thus, by the long lapse of years and of passion, often it has seemed to me, and that the more forcibly, when endeavouring, it might be, in the hope to save some happiness from the wreck, to persuade myself I might elsewhere find a return of so long-rejected affection—that this love was incorporated within me by indissoluble immanence : that by some spiritual anastomosis the one thought of the soul had been transubstantiated into that bodily frame to which the soul is welded : that every drop which visits this sad heart has in it something, I know not what, but something still of Désirée.

Ah dear, but come thou back to me:

Whatever change the years have wrought,

I find not yet one lonely thought
That cries against my wish for thee.

- Would he who wrote this have written it the less, if he had felt at the moment that the desire was unattainable ?

XXXIX Without presumption, the narrator may believe he has reached the final experience, the latest crisis at least, of life: that he sees the dead desert level before him, the array of the unreconciling years. There I shall confront the gradual indifference of friends to one inevitably dissonant from their tone of unmerciful and

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healthy happiness, the world's bitter scorn of sorrow, the absence of Désirée : there patience will bring no peace, and submission no comfort, duty be without reward, and love almost without loveliness. So fearful a prospect, must it not lead any one to ask whether the wiser part were not to relinquish the vain warfare, give hands of surrender to victor Fate, and take my Lady Death for Bride, where no further hope remains? If, not from deference to this world's contempt or censure, but to the soul's own ignorance of the further world, we refrain,—we may live, it must not be concealed from self, to regret the years that are to come. • Othat I might have my request, and that God would

grant me the thing that I long for ! What is my strength, • that I should hope? and what is mine end, that I should • prolong my life'? The one only left is now the Patriarch's pathetic prayer :-yet this consummation even may annihilate the remembrance, which with its bitterness whatever, I would not willingly surrender, if Heaven itself is to be gained by transit of Lethe. Life is dark, but death is darker. Vivi adunque : nullo ti puo di questo privare.

But, ah! dear one-whose name I think, but shall not even write henceforward,—thus to die, and without having lived, is the true sting of death. Of what may lie beyond, when we have said inscrutable, we have said all. That veil will be rent for us by no earthquake : nor can we foretell if the great darkness beneath which we shall pass will dawn into humanly conscious resurrection. Like the Lady of Athenian drama, ούτε τι του θανείν προμηθής, τό τε μη βλέπειν έτοιμος, when surrendering in the reluctances of final agony the last thought and fond movement of affection towards thee, the soul will know no more than at the hour of birth what manner of life shall follow this which she

has purchased so dearly .... O what blessedness beyond prophetic anticipations, should that new world be the completion and sunlight ideal of this—should we retain all that was pure in mortal hope and aim, our memories of the earthly past, our own better selves in glorified but unbroken identity; should faithfulness at last meet with the one reward, love so long given with love at last returned, at last-Fool, again the dream, the fancy! So fearful is the mystery of earth, are not things done here which cannot be undone by Thrones and Dominations, by all the Powers of Heaven ?

I think I have loved truly : I struggled long : I have been corrected in anger, and brought to nothing: do manus : it is in vain. Far out in the western sea there is a broken rock; the birds of heaven know it, the Atlantic smiles around, the sunlight sleeps on it for a summer's day in a peace which seems of more than earthly peacefulness. But the moon has arisen, she draws the waters toward her, caressingly at first, then more and more angrily they heave themselves and beat :—the heavens are gradually overshadowing, but the moonbeams work behind ; Ocean obeys, the white-edged waves set their teeth against the pillar. As they rise to cover it, the warfare and the antagonism deepen, louder and higher the voices of sea and land are heard, some great drama appears in agitation between living Powers, some superhuman catastrophe,-long visible by the light of foam, by the straggling and misty stars, by the moonbeams seen as if in another world spread upon the far horizon. The waves press on, they cast themselves in columns over the rock, the sea boils as if impassioned by inner fires : here is haste, and night, and thunder, and final agony; there, above the solid clouds, peace and holy light, and the fair face of the dominant spirit. She looks down:

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but the night has gathered far beyond her piercing, and the issue of that conflict is blotted out :-hoarse shouting, sounds as if of beating hands, prayers, and cries, and crashing weapons : then silence. . Is it peace or death? There is no answer, no atom of light in earth or heaven, the waters are voiceless now, and the last eddy circles away into infinity and the blackness of darkness.

The tide has its reflux, and the storm its pacification : but there is no better day for this evil, no after-hope of any blessing.

Ah, dearest — I said to die unsatisfied is the worst bitterness of Death : but this I find bitterer still, that I may not dare to promise thee an eternity of affection, this love from childhood through the real Ever.

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Feuillade pri Gertie
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