In the furthest distance of the chamber sate an old dim-eyed man, poring with a microscope over the torso of a statue which had neither basis, nor feet, nor head; but on its breast was carved Nature! To this he continually applied his glass, and seemed enraptured with the various inequalities which it rendered visible on the seemingly polished surface of the marble.—Yet evermore was this delight and triumph followed by expressions of hatred, and vehement railing against a Being, who yet, he assured us, had no existence. This mystery suddenly recalled to me what I had read in the holiest recess of the Temple of Superstition. The old man spake in divers tongues, and continued to utter other and most strange mysteries. Among the rest he talked much and vehemently concerning an infinite series of causes and effects, which he explained to be-a string of blind men, the last of whom caught hold of the skirt of the one before him, he of the next, and so on till they were all out of sight; and that they all walked infallibly straight, without making one false step, though all were alike blind. Methought I borrowed courage from surprise, and asked him—Who then is at the head to guide them? He looked at me with ineffable contempt, not unmixed with an angry suspicion, and then replied, “No one. The string of blind men went on for ever without any beginning; for although one blind man could not move without stumbling, yet infinite blindness supplied the want of sight.” 1 burst into laughter,

which instantly turned to terror-for as he started forward in rage, I caught a glimpse of him from behind; and lo! I beheld a monster bi-form and Janus-headed, in the hinder face and shape of which I instantly recognised the dread countenance of Superstition-and in the terror I awoke.


SceneA spacious drawing-room, with music-room


Katharine. What are the words ?

Eliza. Ask your friend, the Improvisatore; here he comes. Kate has a favor to ask of you, sir ; 'it is that you will repeat the ballad that Mr.

sang so sweetly.

Friend. It is in Moore's Irish Melodies ; but I do not recollect the words distinctly. The moral of them, however, I take to be this :

Love would remain the same if true, When we were neither young nor new; Yea, and in all within the will that came, By the same proofs would show itself the same. Eliz. What are the lines you repeated from Beaumont and Fletcher, which my mother admired so much ? It begins with something about two vines so close that their tendrils intermingle.

Fri. You mean Charles' speech to Angelina, in 66 The Elder Brother.”

We'll live together, like two neighbour vines,
Circling our souls and loves in one another !
We'll spring together, and we'll bear one fruit;
One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn;
One age go with us, and one hour of death
Shall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy.

Kath. A precious boon, that would go far to reconcile one to old age—this love—if true! But is there any such true love?

Fri. I hope so.
Kath. But do you believe it?
Eliz. (eagerly.) I am sure he does.

Fri. From a man turned of fifty, Katharine, I imagine, expects a less confident answer.

Kath. A more sincere one, perhaps.

Fri. Even though he should have obtained the nick-name of Improvisatore, by perpetrating charades and extempore verses at Christmas times ?

Eliz. Nay, but be serious.

Fri. Serious! Doubtless. A grave personage of my years giving a love-lecture to two young ladies, cannot well be otherwise. The difficulty, I suspect, would be for them to remain so. It will be asked whether I am not the “ elderly gentleman ” who

“ despairing beside a clear stream," with a willow for his wig-block.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Eliz. Say another word, and we will call it downright affectation.

Kath. No! we will be affronted, drop a courtesy, and ask pardon for our presumption in expecting that Mr. would waste his sense on two insignificant girls.

Fri. Well, well, I will be serious. Hem! Now then commences the discourse; Mr. Moore's song being the text. Love, as distinguished from Friendship, on the one hand, and from the passion that too often usurps its name, on the other

Lucius (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the 1 trio, in a whisper to the Friend.) But is not Love the union of both ?

Fri. (aside to Lucius.) He never loved who thinks so.

Eliz. Brother, we don't want you. There! Mrs. H. cannot arrange the flower-vase without you. Thank you, Mrs. Hartman.

Luc. I'll have my revenge! I know what I will say !

Eliz. Off! off! Now, dear sir,-Love, you were saying,

Fri. Hush! Preaching, you mean, Eliza.
Eliz. (impatiently.) Pshaw !

Fri. Well then, I was saying that love, truly such, is itself not the most common thing in the world: and mutual love still less so. But that enduring personal attachment, so beautifully delineated by Erin's sweet melodist, and still more touchingly, perhaps, in the well-known ballad, “ John Anderson, my Jo, John,” in addition to a depth and constancy of character, of no every-day occurrence, supposes a peculiar sensibility and tenderness of nature ; a constitutional communicativeness and utterancy of heart and soul; a delight in the detail of sympathy, in the outward and visible signs of the sacrament within—to count, as it were, the pulses of the life of love. But above all, it supposes a soul which, even in the pride and summer-tide of life-even in the lustihood of health and strength, had felt oftenest and prized highest that which age cannot take away, and which, in all our lovings, is the Love ;

Eliz. There is something here (pointing to her heart) that seems to understand you, but wants the word that would make it understand itself.

Kath. I, too, seem to feel what you mean. Interpret the feeling for us.

Fri. -I mean that willing sense of the unsufficingness of the self for itself, which predisposes a generous nature to see, in the total being of another, the supplement and completion of its own ;-that quiet' perpetual seeking which the presence of the beloved object modulates, not suspends, where the heart momently finds, and, finding, again seeks on; lastly, when “life's changeful orb has pass’d the full,” a confirmed faith in the nobleness of humanity, thus brought home and pressed, as it were, to the very bosom of hourly experience; it supposes, I say, a heartfelt reverence for worth, not the less deep be

« 前へ次へ »