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vanced age. The character of his love for her is visible from his frequent conversation as related by one of his pupils, afterwards his biographer. He never ceased to recall the memory of Vittoria Colonna, and to expatiate on all the perfections of her mind and shape. Often he exclaimed, that, while she was expiring, he stood motionless and sorrowful at her bedside; and, to the last, lamented that he had not impressed one kiss on those lips through which so pure a spirit passed to heaven.
Perhaps there is no community, individually or collectively, which is more tenacious of its honour than that of ghosts. Little is said of them now; but the race still exists, if it ever did, and without the degeneracy common to most classes of beings, labouring under the consciousness of increasing unpopularity and inevitable decay. 'Tis true, that even fashion now conspires against them: the spectre who, in “My Master's Secrets,” sports a suit of nankins, and a straw-hat with green ribands,” must have felt the gravity of his calling sadly outraged. Indeed, till something can be done for them in the way of costume, it is no wonder that they keep so much at home. Why cannot they have a “Repository of Arts” 'embellished for their instruction? A work so spirituel would overcome their aversion to society, and render such traits as the following mere every-day occurrences.
To this hour is living a lady who long boasted of inviting and receiving them by day and night, with no purpose but mutual satisfaction. The Highland Seers, who fancied they inherited the fate of such converse, and the astrologers who wilfully sought the power, were weak enough to grow haggard and emaciated in the service; not so the lady in question. I allow that her tête-à-tétes were the least frequent of her interviews, with her own set. Neither they nor herself liked performing to empty benches; the more numerous the circle to which she introduced them, the better. Her friends might, indeed, have remained unconscious of the honour done them, (by visiters who came so far, and put themselves so out of their way,) but for the would-be significance of eyes fixed on congenial vacancy, with which their hostess announced the frequent and familiar droppers-in; some one or other of whom would be for ever "coming in and going out, like a pet lamb.” What a pity that she could not give her friends
any farther advantage from this unearthly acquaintance, as they would, if visible, have proved a perpetual supply of all eclipsing embellishments for her parties !
If « Lions” from the extremity of this world be so enviable, she might defy competition, who had interest enough to summon a display of eccentricities from the other—we won't decide which.
'This hecatising converse lasted some years, lending its professor a mystic influence over the minds of fools (pardon the paradox), of servants, and of children.
At last she found one acquaintance who so caricatured the peculiar etiquette of the first reception she was called on to witness, and cast such reflections (not personal I own) on the whole fraternity, that there was from that moment an obvious coolness between the lady and her guests; their enlivening society being far less frequently afforded her; for she still hinted the continuance of their occasional visits in private.
Bolder grown, the sceptic, knowing how many will boast high connexions they never possessed, now began to imply doubts of so friendly a footing ever having existed at all, and, lamentable to add for the credit of ghostly courage, though doubtless within hearing, they might have risen to confront their asperser, they not only omitted the opportunity at the instant, but never came again! It was not long, however, before their motive became evident; for, one morning, their former friend found on her dressing-table a note, which had not been seen there when she retired at night; it was written on fancy paper, with a crow's quill, or perhaps, more appropriately, with a raven's. Its perfume was esotic, but not suspiciously so, and on the whole, it may be regarded as the latest criterion of the state of letters in the sphere from which it came; it ran thus: “ Madam!
“ Knowing that you have permitted us to be abused as No bodies, low company, and up-starts, we must inform you of a rule amongst us, the enforcement of which in the present case we owe to ancient usage and our own dignity; namely, never to enter a house, where one individual has the temerity to treat us with irreverence or mistrust." Signed,
“Certain Appearances, and Sounds of
"This conduct at least was spirited. After this, neither friend nor foe saw more of these inestimable visiters: and if really existing intruders would as quickly take a hint, and act with as much pride
and delicacy, it would do even more good than thus freeing a weak head from the fatigue of inventing, or its tongue from that of uttering, such useless and inexcusable falsehoods.
No tears of silent sorrow steal,
My bosom long has learnt to feel;
No sighs the tale of love impart,
The sadness of a bursting heart.
I wear the semblance of repose,
To gild the darkness of my woes:
O'er the dim vale a blaze of light,
The herald of a cheerless night.
“I have done penance for contemning love ;
Old Play. I have been all my days hovering on the very verge of the Kingdom of Love, without having ever once penetrated fairly into it. My whole “May of life” has been lost in wandering alone among the Alps which overlook that beautiful region, and form the barrier between it and the dull, flat, wintry plains which lie on this side: I have reached their highest accessible points, and have dwelt there for years and years; with rocks and ice-crags standing silently all about me, with clouds rolling beneath my feet, and the perpetual murmur of mountain torrents in my ears. I have dwelt there as if spell-bound, -not content to remain, and yet disdaining to descend into the Italy that lay smiling and basking in the sunshine below me. Fool that I was! I prided myself on this; forgetting that the earth is a globe, and that if I could have gone away from it in a balloon, till “Epping forest appeared no bigger than a gooseberry bush,” I should still have been beneath the feet of nine-tenths of its inhabitants. It seldom happens that what we pride ourselves upon does not, at one time or another, become our torment and our shame. Thus it is with me: I have dwelt among the rocks and ice-crags of the world, till I have become as hard and cold and senseless as they.
That my sojourn in that dreary country may not be without its use, at least to others, I intend to disclose a few of the observations and discoveries I have made there; leaving the application of them to those whom it may concern. But if, in doing this, I should see occasion to adopt a style not consonant to the taste and habits of the general reader, I bespeak either his forbearance or his neglect; but I protest against his censure. He may pass over what I write, as something in which he feels no interest; but he will have no right to complain either of the matter or the manner, provided the one be true to nature, and the other intelligible. We may very fairly refuse to attend to a man who talks of nothing but himself, on the ground that his talk is either uninstructive or uninteresting to us; but to accuse him of not being able to talk of himself, without being at the time an egotist, is more than idle. Besides, to accuse a man of egotism, who is nameless and unknown, and who is likely for ever to remain so, will be neither philosophical nor good-natured; and it will savour not a little of egotism in the accuser.
“ The fool hath said in his heart," there is no love!* On this belief or rather, on this unbelief-I have thought, and argued, and acted; till, for me, the lie has become a truth. The whole of my youth has been passed in fondling the wayward child in my arms—in gazing on his form, inhaling his breath, drinking in the light of his eyes, and the beauty of his aspect; and all the time I have been scoffing at his power, and even denying his existence. My punishment is at once the most appropriate and complete that could have been devised: it is this, that, for me, he has no power—for me he has ceased to exist.
* “Oh love, no habitant of earth thou art!
An unseen seraph, we believe in thee:
The mistake I made was, that I began to be wise too early. “Will Cupid our mothers obey?”—I set out with the determination to be a prudent and reasonable lover: for Reason and Prudence were ever the gods (I will not call them the goddesses) of my earthly idolatry; and they are so still, in the face of my bitter experience, and in despite of my better judgment. In order to make my love more available for the common purposes of life—more malleable I have always contrived to mix up with it an alloy of worldly wisdom. By so doing, I thought to have produced a mixture that should be to the pure love of poetry and romance, exactly what Hall-marked gold is to the pure metal,-more capable of being worked up into articles of utility or ornament, and susceptible of a higher polish. But, even if I had succeeded in this, I forgot that I should, at best, have been possessed of a substance easy to be imitated, and liable to tarnish and change its colour. I now find, that by subjecting it to this process, I have necessarily destroyed its essential character, and made it neither love nor wisdom, but, on the contrary, a something not partaking of the qualities of either, The ingredients have been slowly and silently undergoing a chemical change; till at length the ethereal essence of the one has passed off in the form of an invisible vapour ;—the cohesion of the other has been destroyed; and the residuum is a shapeless, colourless, tasteless caput mortuum.
I have made this, toʻme, fatal discovery too late to repair, but not to repent of it; and there is still left me the forlorn hope of throwing myself at the foot of the Confessional, and humbly and sincerely avowing that, unlike “ the best of cat-throats,” I have loved “ too wisely, but not well.” But let me leave reflections—which disturb my remaining peace in the exact proportion that they are apt and true, and precisely because they are so;-and turn to the remembrance of facts and feelings—which bring back the remembrance of that which is gone ;-in most cases the next best thing to the reality.
We are apt to say of any important event in our lives, “I shall never forget when such a thing happened.” How should it be otherwise, when the past gives the whole form and substance to our being ? For me the Past is every thing; the Present is nothing. And, as to the Future, it is, so to speak, less than nothing. I throw myself into the
Thy unimagined form as it should be.
And to a thought such shape and substance given,
Ch. Harold, c. 4.
past, as into a sanctuary, forgetting all that is, and disregarding all that is to come!
And yet I tremble to approach the relation of this my first adventure in the enchanted region of Love. It is a vulgar error, to suppose that we necessarily take delight in recalling to the memory events which gave us delight as they were passing, but which are actually passed, and can never be renewed. The certainty that they are passed, and cannot return, more than neutralizes the pleasure the remembrance of them might otherwise bring to us: it changes the phantom of joy into a mockery of it. This was well known to one who looked more deeply into the dungeons of the human heart than any other modern has done : and it has been tacitly acknowledged by a living writer somewhat similar in habits of feeling, and whose authority is of great weight in such matters.
Nessun maggior dolore
What greater pain
In the midst of grief? Such are the words the mighty poet of the Inferno puts into the mouth of his gentle Francesca, when she is called upon to relate the story of her love-to tell the brief tale of her past happiness, while she is pining and withering away in penal fires. Mark, too, the effect even on the poet himself, mere spectator as he is, and “one, albeit, unused to the melting mood :"
“Mentre che l' uno spirto questo,
E caddi, come corpo morto cade.”
Prone to the earth, as a dead body falls. A less deep insight into the secret places of the human heart, would have induced the poet to invest the lips of his lovers with a momentary smile, at the imaginary renewal of their loves.
It is true that, by means of a healthful, active, and well-disciplined imagination, we may in some measure re-create, and enjoy over again past pleasures, provided the heart that is to be thus acted on by the imagination be noť thoroughly worn and withered; because, what once has been, can never entirely cease to be. But, if the heart be utterly blighted, then, like the spirits of the damned, it is susceptible of pain alone; and the imagination becomes a curse, greater or less, in proportion to its activity and its power. If it can place before its victim a picture more or less vivid of past bliss, it is only to call to his recollection what has been his :-if it can “show his eyes,” it is only to “grieve his heart."
But to my task. I stand shivering on the edge of my story, when I should plunge fearlessly in, and let its stream bear me onward, “as a steed that knows its rider." The penitent, who willingly presents