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all, it is only through many losses that this diviner wisdom comes; and it is the possession of this that makes Janet so much calmer than either of us; she has a true tranquillizing faith and trust in the unknown Future of this life.
“ It soon becomes the Present,” she says; "and if it be a present of sorrow and suffering, they, being human, after a season, pass away even from the memory; but if it shall be a sweet present of joy and happiness, they, being divine, remain forever. There is a lethean stream, my friend, flowing through our being, which, in time, quiets all murmurs, stills all unrest, and even throws a soft mist over the memory of past joys to prevent the disturbing effect of regret."
But now back again to we.” Who and what are “ we?” For I make it a rule always, in commencing a new journal, to describe my social surroundings, if at all differing from those which were with me at the beginning of the previous one. As my memory sweeps back, endeavoring to contrast this present with that past, it flaps a wearied wing, so wide and broad is the gulf of difference stretching out appallingly into a mare tenebrosum of hopeless separation from that past !
Enough of my individual self. My journal does not need that text dwelt on at the beginning. It is a sermon which all these pages are to bold and develop. Let me talk of those social domestic surroundings which, to a woman most especially, make her real “
her daily, hourly associates of Janet and Venitia ; for they are mine, — my
66 we.” These names did not touch the pages of the other journal during all its first three gloomy years. These two human beings, who are now so much to me, -one,
Janet especially, - I did not know even the existence of; and should that other journal be lost during its long voyage “home,” those who love me and who love to read these pages would be in a state of perplexity and wonder, while reading this one, who my new friends could be.
They are two sisters. A couple of years ago, when I came to this old Europe to seek, if not a grave for my body, one at least for my dead hopes, which lay in most unseemly state unburied, I met these two women under most pleasing social circumstances. Chance threw us much together; our tastes and pursuits we found to be alike. We were all three comparatively alone, not only in Europe, but in life, with only passing acquaintances which are most often to travellers like us but bits of straw hanging to the fringe of a garment, easily caught and as easily shaken off.
A severe illness of Venitia enabled me to be of service to Janet, and I grew deeply attached to her; we united with each other, made one home together, and without vow, or engagement, or troth-plight, only a loving look of need for each other's presence daily, I think we shall spend our future of this life together.
Janet is a widow, about my own age, or a little older. She is neither handsome nor homely, but has those nameless charms, those indescribable attractions, which are the only ones that can hold love after beauty of form and feature and intellect have grown familiar to us. She has also
A calm unfaltering voice, and the grace
She is a thoroughly educated woman. I do not mean by this her skill in Latin and Greek, nor her cleverness in positive sciences and mathematics, all of which she possesses, but I mean that her soul is so fully developed, drawn out,
that it seems to my mortal comprehension complete. She has a fine, highly cultured intellect, it is true, but, better than all, a judgment so clear that it is almost inspiration, and a pure, well-balanced character, every fibre firm and strong.
Janet is an American by birth and feeling, although the most of her life has been spent in Europe. Her father was for many years consul at some southern European port. The effect produced on Americans, particularly on some characters, by living in Europe any length of time, is very unsettling. Artificial habits are acquired, views of society and life, totally at variance with those entertained at home, are insensibly taken up, and this proved to be the case with Mr. Howard, Janet's father. After losing his consulship hè nerer returned to America, but went into a foreign banking-house, and remained the rest of his life abroad. For some reason or other he changed his abode many times, and they seem never to have had a settled or comfortable home. Janet has only visited America once since her childhood, and that was when she first grew up, just before the death of her mother, at which time she spent a few months with her kinsfolk in the United States, but returned to Europe to take charge of her young brothers and sisters, after the news of that saddest of all sad losses, her mother's death, reached her.
She is strongly attached to, and quickly drawn towards, that which she considers American. Of course, never having lived in her birthplace, she is more governed in her opinions and feelings by the views which she has taken at a distance, of our truly interesting government and its romantic success, than by actual experience. She has known intimately distinguished Europeans who have regarded the United States as the Utopia of their dreams. In her girlhood she often made one in the charming circle which gathered at La Grange around “ that hero of two worlds,” Lafayette, a delightful atmosphere which developed, if not created, artists and political dreamers.
After Janet became a woman, she knew De Tocqueville, and, later, Ampère, and certainly can theorize about the American States as patriotically, poetically, and with as much enthusiasm as the best dreaming philosopher of them all.
Her early life was one of bitter sorrow. Wrong, injustice, disgrace, every biting drop that could be distilled in the alembic of grief, fell on her young heart. After she had passed her early womanhood, without ever thinking of love or its sweet comforts, this great joy of life came to her. Here, on this beautiful lake shore, while striving to eke out a slender income, educate her young sister and some orphan nieces, and nurse a dying, brokenhearted widowed sister, she met with Paul Dale, a prosperous, cultured Englishman. She has told me, by short bits from time to time, her story, for Janet is not one who talks much of that which touches her feelings most: but her short, rapid utterance is very touching, of
“ How strange it should have seemed, and yet it did not, for Paul and me to love each other. I had no faith in mortal man left, and he came to teach me, by his own truth and excellence, perfect faith.”
Paul Dale must have been a man worthy of love. He gathered up the whole family and his Janet most tenderly to his heart; he took them to his beautiful English home; used his delightful wealth generously, made life pleasant to the dying widowed sister and her children ; soothed Janet, and when her heart ached with the sorrow caused by the deaths of the darlings for whom she had labored so courageously for years, he filled the goblet of life to overflowing with his own rich purple love, and pressed it tenderly to her lips. She dared not grieve, even when their only child, the boy for whose birth Paul had wished so earnestly, breathed one short breath and then died.
“O no," she has said to me, “I never uttered a murmur, for had I not Paul? And so long as death, which seemed then to be my only pursuing sorrow, did not touch him, I could not mourn."
At last, of her whole large family there were only two left, - Janet and Venitia, - the oldest and youngest! All had died just when prosperity came, and they could so well have enjoyed life together. Paul adopted Venitia, of whom he was very fond, and directed her education with as much care as taste. The girl early showed remarkable musical ability. To give her every advantage in her musical studies, he left England and resided in Germany for a while.
Then came death again ; and this time it took Paul, and with it Janet's best part of life. She brought him here, and laid him down under the shadow of that old church spire, where their baby boy was sleeping his little slumber, and where she also hopes to lie some day, “ God willing,” she says, with a soft submission most touching in one so self-sufficing and firm.
And now a few words about Venitia, then I must clasp my journal and go to bed, as it is past midnight. The beautiful girl has just been in to say good night and give me one of her caresses, which are so different from Janet's, though, much more profuse. Janet's touch my