« 前へ次へ »
Eliz. Off! off! Now, dear sir,-Love, you were saying
Fri. Hush! Preaching, you mean, Eliza,
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
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 un
sufficingness 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 because divested of its solemnity by habit, by familiarity, by mutual infirmities, and even by a feeling of modesty which will arise in delicate minds, when they are conscious of possessing the same or the correspondent excellence in their own characters. In short, there must be a mind, which, while it feels the beautiful and the excellent in the beloved as its own, and by right of love appropriates it, can call Goodness its playfellow; and dares make sport of time and infirmity, while, in the person of a thousand-foldly endeared partner, we feel for aged virtue the caressing fondness that belongs to the innocence of childhood, and repeat the same attentions and tender courtesies which had been dictated by the same affection to the same object when attired in feminine loveliness or in manly beauty.
Eliz. What a soothing—what an elevating thought!
Kath. If it be not only a mere fancy.
Fri. At all events, these qualities which have enumerated, are rarely found united in a single individual. How much more rare must it be, that two such individuals should meet together in this wide world under circumstances that admit of their union as Husband and Wife. A person may be highly estimable on the whole, nay, amiable as neighbour, friend, housemate-in short, in all the concentric circles of attachment save only the last and inmost; and yet from how many causes be estranged from the highest perfection in this! Pride, coldness, or fastidiousness of nature, worldly cares, an anxious or ambitious disposition, a passion for display, a sullen temper,- one or the other—too often
“ the dead fly in the compost of spices,” and any one is enough to unfit it for the precious balm of unction.
For some mighty good sort of people, too, there is not seldom a sort of solemn saturnine, or, if ursine vanity, that keeps itself alive by sucking the paws of its own self-importance. And as this high sense, or rather sensation of their own value is, for the most part, grounded on negative qualities, so they have no better means of preserving the same but by negatives—that is, by not doing or saying any thing, that might be put down for fond, silly, or nonsensical;—
-or (to use their own phrase) by never forgetting themselves, which some of their acquaintance are un
charitable enough to think the most worthless object they could be employed in remembering.
Eliz. (in answer to a whisper from Katharine). To a hair! He must have sate for it himself. Save me from such folks!
But they are out of the question.
Fri. True ! but the same effect is produced in thousands by the too general insensibility to a very important truth; this, namely, that the misery of human life is made up of large masses, each separated from the other by certain intervals. One year, the death of a child; years after, a failure in trade; after another longer or shorter interval, a daughter may have married unhappily; --in all but the singularly unfortunate, the integral parts that compose the sum total of the unhappiness of a man's life, are easily counted, and distinctly remembered. The happiness of life, on the contrary, is made up of minute fractions—the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of playful raillery, and the countless other infinitesimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling.
Kath. Well, Sir; you have said quite enough to make me despair of finding a John Anderson, my Jo, John,” with whom to totter down the hill of life.
Fri. Not so! Good men are not, I trust, so much scarcer than good women,
but that what
another would find in you, you may hope to find in another. But well, however, may that boon be rare, the possession of which would be more than an adequate reward for the rarest virtue.
Eliz. Surely, he, who has described it so well, must have possessed it?
Fri. If he were worthy to have possessed it, and had believingly anticipated and not found it, how bitter the disappointment! (Then, after a pause of a few minutes),
ANSWER, ex improviso.
The fancy made him glad !
But e'en the meteor offspring of the brain
Unnourished wane; Faith asks her daily bread, And Fancy must be fed. Now so it chanced-from wet or dry, It boots not how I know not whyShe missed her wonted food; and quickly Poor Fancy stagger'd and grew sickly. Then came a restless state, 'twixt yea and nay,