Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. III.

LOVE.

Till Hymen brought his love-delighted hou
There dwelt no joy in Eden's rosy bow'r !
In vain the viewless seraph ling'ring there,
At starry midnight, charm’d the silent air;
In vain the wild bird carol'd on the steep,
To hail the sun, slow-wheeling from the deep;
In vain to soothe the solitary shade,
Aërial notes in mingling measure play'd, .
The summer wind that shook the spangled tree,
The whispering wave, the murmur of the bee :
Still slowly pass'd the melancholy day,
And still the stranger wist not where to stray,
The world was sad, the garden was a wild,
And man, the hermit, sigh’d-till woman smil'd.

CAMPBELL.

Love is the most delightful of all the human passions. None of the pleasures of human life, excepting those arising from religion, are equal to the pleasures of Love. Pure and unadulterated Love, comprehends, in its composition, all that is kind, and social, and generous. În the retired sweets and solace of this allpowerful passion, we find relief from every woe. Love smooths the brow of care, and is a constant source of genuine delight. It is difficult to describe this passion :

'Tis that delightful transport we can feel,
Which painters cannot paint, nor words reveal,
Nor any art we know of,—can conceal.
Canst thou describe the sunbeams to the blind,
Or make him feel a shadow with his mind ?
So neither can we, by description, shew
This first of all felicities below.

When happy love pours magic o'er the soul,
And all our thoughts in sweet delirium roll;
When contemplation spreads her rainbow wings,
And every flutter some new rapture brings-
How sweetly then our moments glide away,
And dreams repeat the raptures of the day !
We live in ecstasy, to all things kind,
For love can teach a moral to the mind.

Plato has given a most enchanting description of this passion. He demonstrates it a sentimental union of minds as well as of persons, far superior to the range of vulgar pleasure; for ever increasing by constancy, and only suspended by death. Theocritus, in his Idylls, has much fine sentiment. Ovid is rich ii. his descriptions, but deficient in chastity. Virgil and Tibullus, with great force and sublimity, have done honour to this passion. But of all the moderns, Pe'trarch is the most inimitable in his descriptions. ,

The faculty of loving has assuredly a right to claim a high station of honour among the benevolent conceptions of nature ; for among all the sentiments of which man is susceptible, it is the only one that no person ever could feign completely. There are a thousand ways of expressing hatred, conternpt, indignation; there is but one tone for saying, I love you, which can be believed.

No human being can resist the influence of this mighty passion; for,

- When love directs her eyes
To pierce where every passion lies,
Where is the firm, the cautious, or the wise ?

ENSIDE.

St. Pierre observes, “ that in the season of Love, all the affections natural to the heart of man unfold. Then it is that innocence, candour, sincerity, modesty, generosity, heroism, holy faith, piety, express themselves with grace ineffable in the attitude and features of two young lovers. Love assumes in their souls all the characters of religion and virtue. They betake themselves to flight, far from the tumultuous assemblies of the city, and far from the corruptive paths of ambition, in quest of some sequestered spot, where, upon the rural altar, they may be at liberty to mingle and exchange the tender vows of everlasting affection. The fountains, the woods, the dawning Aurora, the constellations of the night, receive by turns the sacred deposit of the oath of Love. At times, in an enthusiastic intoxication, they consider each other as beings of a superior order. The mistress is a goddess, the lover becomes an idolater. The grass under their feet, the air which they breathe, the shades under which they repose, all, all appear consecrated in their eyes, from filling the same atmosphere with them. In the widely extended universe, they behold no other felicity but that of living and dying together, or rather. they have lost all sight of death. Love transports them into ages of infinite duration, and death seems to them only the transition to eternal union.

Noble and well-formed minds are alone susceptible of a pure, disinterested, elevated passion. To love a beautiful and virtuous woman, requires a taste for what is beautiful and honourable. To please her, we must resemble her. A lover is not courageous, sensible, humane, generous, because he loves : he loves because these qualities are innate ; and it is with the mask of these qualities, that men seduce the female who has not a sufficient degree of patience to put them to the trial.

Genuine affection is the lot of a few. It requires too many qualities to be general. It demands too much constancy for the volatile, too much ardour for the sedate, too much restraint for the turbulent, too much delicacy for the simple, too much enthusiasm for the cold and icy, too much activity for the indolent, too much desire for the philosopher, too much selfdenial for the libertine.

Genuine love demands a considerable degree of elevation and energy of soul; generosity, sensibility, and rectitude of heart; a warm imagination ; and inviolate attachment to the principles of virtue and honour. It cannot exist in the bosom of luxury, in the midst of tumult, and in the distractions of numerous

ductive of hem exalted thge and virtue.er

have degt. Since is becom

and polite assemblies. · It requires simplicity of manners and retired life.

In times of happier manners, when the sex was adored by the men, they respected themselves, and endeavoured to render themselves worthy of the homage that was paid to them. Their esteein was the recompense of courage and virtue. The desire of pleasing them exalted the imagination, and was pro. ductive of heroes : but voluptuousness and sensuality have degraded us. We are no longer gallant; we are depraved. Since they are no longer considered as divinities, the sex is become too human; their influence on the character of men is now as pernicious, as it was formerly beneficial. To soft illusions, to the enthusiasms of love, succeed facility of enjoyment, followed by quick disgust. Philosophy and debauchery take place of that heroic gallantry, which anciently constituted love and virtue.

Formerly, as it was more difficult to please one woman, than it is now to seduce many, the reign of moral affection prolonged the power of passion. By restraining, directing, and fanning the passion with delusive hopes, desires were perpetuated, while they preserved their force. Love could not be made; it was an impulse ; it was even the child of innocence, and was nourished by the sacrifices which it made, instead of being extinguished by voluptuous gratifications.

True Love mingles respect with the passion. If it were placed on mental qualities alone, the senses would be without energy; if placed solely on the charins of person, the head would be vacant. A genuine lover is equally struck with the virtues and with the attractions of his mistress :

When first on earth, illumin'd from above,
The spotless bosom felt the glow of Love ;
Each thought was chaste, each sympathy confest •
Each only wish,-in blessing, to be blest;
Each hope,--the mutual transport to impart,

And waft the pure vibrations to the heart.
The tender passion of Love is one of the most

prominent features of nature; and that man is described as a monster, who never felt its soft emotion:

Ah! whence art thou, of wealth the slave ?
Go' seek the haunted gloom, the grave;-

Whose eye, on money taught to roll,

Admits not beauty to the soul :
Fly thou the day, who scorn'st the fair,
For thou wert born an iinp of care.
But who art thou, with anxious eye,
With panting hope, and melting sigh,

Who biddest tempting gold depart,

And only woo'st the virgin's heart?
Go thou where Beauty holds her throne,
For bliss was form'd for thee alone!

Wolcott. The same poet, in the following lines, describes the stillness of the night as favourable to the influence of the tender passion :

When dew-clad evening's modest blushes fade,
And nature sinks amid the deep'ning shade,

And labour pauses on the fainting light;
When beetles hum, and bats in circles skim,
When hilis and hamlets, trees and tow'rs, grow dim,
And silence steais upon the gloom of night;
With joy I tread the secret grove,

To meet the idol of my love. Beauty-divine, powerful, soul-transporting, and captivating beauty—is the most enchanting object of the human vision. Every heart acknowledges its power, and every imperfection lies concealed within its blaze :

- Since first the vital spark
Awak'd the human breast, and man arose
To conscious being, the fair female form
Dazzled his eye, and thro' his panting breast

Shot beauty's ray. The power of female beauty on the heart of man is supreme and universal :

Female beauty's matchless charms,
Stronger far than warrior's arms ;
Nought with beauty's armour vies ;
Beauty fire and sword defies.

« PreviousContinue »