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Youth, in contending with its feelings, in submitting them to the influence of circumstances, has a difficult part to perform. The passions are subtle casuists, more ready to elude reflection than to conform to its dictates. Many who have taken upon themselves to legislate for human nature, and have appeared to think prudence so easy of production, have not entered on their moral office till they have become passionless; some of them were probably never otherwise. Infinite would be the advantage to the world if the plan of keeping moral diaries or journals was adopted; then the sexagenarian might turn back to the record of his feelings, when he, like a son or a dependent, was but eighteen or twenty years of age: by such a review and comparison, he might be led to judge more justly, more kindly, of the young race around him. But legislators of all sorts are ever without sympathy for those they govern; the old make laws for the young; the rich for the poor; the men for the women: thus laws are not adapted to the necessities, or congenial to the nature of those obliged to obey them, but of those who dispense them; hence law is continually only another name for tyranny; it is the legalized will of the powerful brought into operation on the powerless, who, by resistance, (which as naturally arises from oppression as heat from friction,) create an under current running against control; from this conflict have sprung all the moral diseases which doctors, divines, and lawyers, with their poisons, prisons, and mad-houses have been called to remedy. All these professions have now been in active practice for some thousands of years, with little other result than that of maintaining their own orders at the expense of all the other orders of society.
Rapid and bright as had been the progress of Cyril's love, the sunshine was destined to be broken by a cloud as dense as any that can visit human fate. Mrs. Pembroke died suddenly, leaving her child to utter orphanage, and absolute destitution. The unresisting Caroline sank beneath the blow; but she was lifted, like a blighted lily, from her mother's bier to a husband's bosom. Passion and pity prevailed over every suggestion of prudence; and though Cyril had little to give beyond his tenderness and tears, those were consecrated to Caroline.
The strong necessity which impelled Cyril to act, gave him a power of management which he had never before evinced. Hitherto the common and current wants of life had touched him as little as most men; but now he showed that a mind of high powers can act to advantage in any case, provided the motive for action be sufficiently strong.
Caroline was made the mistress of a home, simple enough it is true, but such as a small exertion of skill might have invested with comfort and even grace, and of which mind might have made a temple! St. Pierre says that a fire is the brightest jewel in the poor man's cottage; there is a brighter than that-the
smile-lighted face of a loving heart, sustained by moral and mental energy..
Little has hitherto been said of Caroline, because she is of a class of women who say little for themselves, and for whom little can be said. That she had won the love of such a man as Cyril, was partly owing to his imagination, which (as the imagination of the passionate too often does) had endowed his idol with supposititious gifts, and partly from the conventional and poetical notions which he entertained of women. Experience was destined to awaken him to the truth, that it is art, not nature, which has made men and women so widely different, and that the simplest self-acting work of nature is worth more than the finest piece of clockwork which human skill ever constructed. He looked on women as women themselves look on babies-as things to be cared for and controlled-whose faults were to be forgiven for the sake of their weakness,-whose errors were pardonable on account of their ignorance-who if
⚫ Some few follies to their lot might fall,
Look in their faces you'd forget them all.'
All this does very well in theory, it may animate the spirit of gay gallantry in a drawing-room, where the ladies' slave trade' is a matter of passing amusement; where hearts kindle and catch cold in the brief space of ten minutes, and the sweets brought abroad for the evening, by some strange moral chemistry, turn to sours at home the next morning. She who desires to have a slave, deserves to have a tyrant; and she generally has her desert, for slavery is only an apprenticeship to tyranny. I think with Madame de Staël, that it is only in childhood that levity has a charm ; it seems as if the Creator still held the child by the hand, and assisted him to tread gently over the clouds of life: but when time abandons man to himself, it is only in the seriousness of his soul that he can find reflection, sentiment, and virtue.'
Let us not confound the elasticity of an excursive and excitable mind, the flashes of a buoyant imagination, with levity. They often have their source in the deepest springs of the soul, to which the spirit can retire, as the eagle to his eyry, and say unto the world, as that does to the winds, I can defy you. Let us define levity to be an utter absence of reflection on the past, and of any thing like calculation on the consequence of the present. It is this levity which may lead to everything bad and cruel in life.
Caroline Conway was a lovely woman, as far as symmetry of form and feature, fair skin, sweet eyes, and fine hair may constitute loveliness; she had, in addition, a soft voice and a graceful gentleness of carriage, which as much as anything about her won upon affection. Her small, yet beautiful forehead, too, indicated just that degree of intellect which men like to meet in women, that is, enough to appreciate male talent, not to rival it. But to even this extent Caroline's intellect had not been culti
vated. She had been from her birth very pretty, and her parents, who were as ignorant of human nature as an Esquimaux of mathematics, made her their idol, cherishing her with a pernicious tenderness, the consequence of which was utter enervation. At the time that she became a bride, and long previous, one sole ambition possessed her mind, (which the trash of a circulating library fed,)-that ambition was to be a remarkable instance of youthful delicate beauty. With this view she denied herself the nourishment necessary to sustain her strength, and lived almost literally on bread and butter.* Ignorant of the intimate sympathy which exists between all parts of the human economy-ignorant that there is beauty, great and various, beyond this blank beauty of form, she but imperfectly attained that at which she aimed; and she sank into a debility which rendered any mental action, beyond a feeble irritableness, impossible. To this was superadded habits of dress, at utter variance with health or the liberty of action to many of the functions of her frame; and thus, while aiming at perfect beauty, she was purchasing premature decay, and perpetual imbecility.
Unhappy Cyril! was this a being to brave with thee thy stormy fortune, and top the mountain billows in triumphant success? Was this the being to turn aside with thee at intervals from the toiling tasks of life, and recreate thee and herself at the unexpensive, yet rich, banquet of intellectual love? Was this a being to be the mother of thy children? What organic energy or mental culture could they derive from her?
* A fact.
Haller, Soemmering, and Cuvier, in speaking of the proportion of the brain to the body, regard it difficult to determine that proportion, because, they say, the body alters, that is, increases or diminishes, and the brain does not. On this Dr. Spurzheim observes, that the latter part of this proposition is refuted by experience; that though no adipose substance be deposited in the brain more than in the lungs, it still participates in the nutrition of the body as well as every other organic part; its convolutions are more plump and more closely packed together, and the whole brain is heavier, in well-nourished men and animals in the flower of youth and vigour, than in the old, lean, or emaciated, or in those who have died of hunger or of lingering diseases.
Dr. Southwood Smith (for whose observations on the enlargement of female knowledge, contained in his Philosophy of Health,' the wiser part of the world will honour him, and the other part yet learn to thank him) says that the pulsation of the heart goes on at the rate of a hundred thousand strokes every twenty-four hours, having at every stroke a great resistance to overcome. How extreme the folly, or how lamentable the ignorance, which permits women to suffer the pressure of whalebone, steel, or ligature, to impede the operation of this important function! The same intelligent mind has likewise observed upon the wonderful provision which makes the functions of the heart, on the uninterrupted action of which life depends, independent of the will; were it not so, existence must be devoted to anxious attention to keep the heart in motion, since the cessation of that motion would be death. An effect very analogous to what this would create, may be perceived in the anxieties of dress and deportment; the mind intent on these,-the mind which cannot for a moment forget them, lest they should make a dereliction from the right line of attrac tion, must inevitably be incapable of receiving impression from anything else; or if at intervals it does receive such, it must be incapable of developing them. Thus it is that soldiers and ladies on parade day are so parsimonious of words. How could they present arms, &c. &c., if they were suffering any distraction from feeling or fancy?
Behold, ye scribes and pharisees, or, rather, ye accursed of the earth-ye who first planted and have since fostered the principle of making woman a mere instrument of passion-behold what ye have done for the human race! and will yet do, until a purifying whirlwind of general execration sweep ye utterly from the earth!
When we consider how serious a matter marriage is, and has proved itself, it is wonderful to observe the carelessness with which it is contracted. Want of reflection, and the various influences of a state of dependence, operate with women; and a mental reservation, grounded on their moral, or rather immoral, impunity, operates on men. But both sexes are eminently open to the charge of superficial aims. Dean Swift says that young ladies employ themselves in making nets, not cages; with the good Dean's permission, I shall say the same of young gentlemen. The aim of all youth is to catch; but the great art is, keep, if any thing worth keeping be caught. When a law is enacted, people appear to fancy that a something is supplied which may be allowed to supersede nature, and thus with some the ceremony of marriage is enough; in the form they forget the spirit of union. Who can will to love at the command of law? Who can resist to love at the command of nature? That a woman continue to love her husband, does not depend upon herself, but upon him: that a husband continue to love his wife, does not depend upon himself, but upon her. The party desiring to be loved, must continue instinct with the attraction and worth which first magnetised admiration and love,-must continue to draw a spontaneous flow of feeling towards himself, almost independently of the slower action of reason: the latter may produce cold correctness, but it is only feeling that can give a glowing principle of action.
It is the absence of all conception of this which so often makes full dress courtships end in suits for separation, or habits of discord.
The softness, the silence, the bended head and blushing cheek, all which had been so eloquent to Cyril during his brief courtship, were at the marriage festival but scentless flowers. His ardent imagination had supplied to the averted eyes of Caroline language for which he now looked into them in vain. His heart thirsted to hear her sentiments and opinions, her hopes and expectations, to discover her tastes and to minister to them,-to draw from her new inspiration. He had not the fortune of Pygmalion-the fair statue was not to be warmed or animated.
In the course of a little time, Cyril, who had been accustomed to the intercourse of those whose thoughts, if rough, were yet racy, felt the necessity of mental exhilaration, and again he sought his old companions, But he was not what he had been; his increased claims on fortune had not made her more propitious, and his
mind was haunted by impressions which preyed upon his spirits. Often would the image of the little lonely automaton, sitting sadly at his frugal, too frugal, fireside, come across his thoughts, and then the light in his fine eye would become troubled, and the flow of his language suddenly or partially fail. On the first access of these feelings, he would yield to their force and go home; but no effort of this kind was ever sustained without it met sympathy and reward. Human nature least of any part of nature stands still; deterioration is certain to take place where improvement does not proceed. Neither is association ever without its effects; the weight which we cannot raise will drag us down. Caroline, in the self-weariness of utter ignorance, in the selfishness of physical weakness, with the purposeless repining of exertionless discontent, surrendered even such negative qualities as in her passed for virtues, and in little more than a year after her marriage, herself and a consumptive child were objects of hopeless compassion. And Cyril-he whom the noblest of the sex might have taken into her heart of hearts, and, great and gracious as he was, made him even a better and a brighter being-what did he become? (Oh, let every sinner against society beware of the recoiling shaft, and, if he have one generous emotion, mourn in ashes over the innocent breast that shaft may unmeritedly strike in its way!) Cyril, the bright, buoyant Cyril-he of the flowing heart and holy handfor it 'was open as the day to melting charity,' he yielded gradually to a mental paralysis, to arouse himself from which, and aided by the injudicious but well-intentioned efforts of his friends, he snatched the cup he had hitherto shunned, and without aid from which he had once been the sun of the table' wherever he sat.
There is no wreck over which thoughtful pity can forbear to mourn the patriarch of the forest, when he lies, with those branches, which once seemed as though they kissed the skies, bowed to the dust-the noble bark which has braved a thousand
storms and many wild voyages, when it lies a dismasted hull upon the waters waiting for wormy decay-the gallant steed, which almost outstripped the wind, when forfeited to the hounds he once outflew; but what are these, could all the feelings they command be condensed into one convulsive emotion, compared to the pang with which we contemplate the wreck of Genius? When we behold him, who was fitted to move among men like a descended god,' sold to the demon of debasement!
Let me draw a veil over the domestic wretchedness which, year by year, increased; during which Cyril grew more mad, and Caroline more weak; during which he sunk to a lower and a lower grade of convivial companions, and she formed a friendship (if such a term may be used) with her nurse, a rude, illiterate, superstitious old woman, yet eminently endowed with one redeeming quality good-nature-which gave her a sort of maternal feeling for