Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

wreath of flowers on the oldest brows. But here is a strange fact; it may seem to many men, in revising their experience, that they have no fairer page in their life's book than the delicious memory of some passages wherein affection contrived to give a witchcraft surpassing the deep attraction of its own truth to a parcel of accidental and trivial circumstances. In looking backward, they may find that several things which were not the charm have more reality to this groping memory than the charm itself which embalmed them. But be our experience in particulars what it may, no man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain, which created all things new ; which was the dawn in him of music, poetry, and art; which made the face of nature radiant with purple light, the morning and the night varied enchantments; when a single tone of one voice could make the heart beat, and the most trivial circumstance associated with one form is put in the amber of memory; when we became all eye when one was present, and all memory when one was gone ; when the youth becomes a watcher of windows, and studious of a glove, a veil, a ribbon, or the wheels of a carriage; when no place is too solitary and none too silent for him who has richer company and sweeter con

versation in his new thoughts than any old friends, though best and purest, can give him; for the figures, the motions, the words of the beloved object are not like other images written in water, but, as Plutarch said, ‘ enamelled in fire,’ and make the study of midnight. “Thou art not gone being gone, where'er thou art ;

Thou leav'st in him thy watchful eyes, in him thy loving heart.”

In the noon and the afternoon of life we still throb at the recollection of days when happiness was not happy enough, but must be drugged with the relish of pain and fear; for he touched the secret of the matter who said of love,

“All other pleasures are not worth its pains:’

and when the day was not long enough, but the night too must be consumed in keen recollections; when the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on ; when the moonlight was a pleasing fever, and the stars were letters, and the flowers ciphers, and the air was coined into song; when all business seemed an impertinence, and all the men and women running to and fro in the streets mere pictures.

The passion re-makes the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant. Nature grows conscious. Every bird on the boughs of the tree sings now to his heart and soul. Almost the notes are articulate. The clouds have faces as he looks on them. The trees of the forest, the waving grass, and the peeping flowers, have grown intelligent; and almost he fears to trust them with the secret which they seem to invite. Yet nature soothes and sympathises. In the green solitude he finds a dearer home than with men.

* Fountain-heads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves,
Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
Are safely housed, save bats and owls,
A midnight bell, a passing groan,—
These are the sounds we feed upon.’

Behold there in the wood the fine madman He is a palace of sweet sounds and sights ; he dilates; he is twice a man ; he walks with arms akimbo; he soliloquises; he accosts the grass and the trees; he feels the blood of the violet, the clover, and the lily, in his veins; and he talks with the brook that wets his foot.

The causes that have sharpened his perceptions of natural beauty have made him love music and verse. It is a fact often observed, that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion, who cannot write well under any other circumstances.

The like force has the passion over all his mature. It expands the sentiment; it makes the clown gentle, and gives the coward heart. Into the most pitiful and abject it will infuse a heart and courage to defy the world, so only it have the countenance of the beloved object. In giving him to another, it still more gives him to himself. He is a new man, with new perceptions, new and keener purposes, and a religious solemnity of character and aims. He does not longer appertain to his family and society. He is somewhat. He is a person. He is a soul.

And here let us examine a little nearer the nature of that influence which is thus potent over the human youth. Let us approach and admire Beauty, whose revelation to man we now celebrate, – beauty, welcome as the sun wherever it pleases to shine, which pleases everybody with it and with themselves. Wonderful is its charm. It seems sufficient to itself. The lover cannot paint his maiden to his fancy poor and solitary. Like a tree in flower, so much soft, budding, informing loveliness is society for itself, and she teaches his eye why Beauty was ever painted with Loves and Graces attending her steps. Her existence makes the world rich. Though she excludes all other persons from his attention as cheap and unworthy, yet she indemnifies him by carrying out her own being into somewhat impersonal, large, mundane, so that the maiden stands to him for a representative of all select things and virtues. For that reason the lover sees never personal resemblances in his mistress to her kindred or to others. His friends find in her a likeness to her mother, or her sisters, or to persons not of her blood. The lover sees no resemblance except to summer evenings and diamond mornings, to rainbows and the song of birds. Beauty is ever that divine thing the ancients esteemed it. It is, they said, the flowering of virtue. Who can analyse the nameless charm which glances from one and another face and form 2 We are touched with emotions of tenderness and complacency, but we cannot find whereat this dainty emotion, this wandering gleam points. It is destroyed for the imagination by any attempt to refer it to organisation. Nor does it point to any relations of friendship or love that society knows and has ; but, as it seems to me, to a quite other and unattainable sphere, to relations of transcendant delicacy and Sweetness, a true faerie land; to what roses and violets hint and foreshew. We cannot get at beauty. Its nature is like opaline doves'-neck lustres, hovering and evanescent. Herein it re

« AnteriorContinuar »