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usual in the young to accuse themselves of want of discrimination and prudence; no, they had rather ascribe their disappointment to the universal unworthiness of human nature. They are unhappy, really and seriously unhappy; and what is harder still, they are perhaps suffering the punishment which ought, of right, to have fallen on those whose duty it was to teach them a better exercise of the judgment. It is, however, undeniable, that in spite of every precaution, every advantage of education, such disappointments will frequently occur, owing to the ardour and credulity of youth. To meet them with fortitude, and to reap from them that wisdom which may prevent their recurrence, will then be the best lesson to inculcate.
The above observations apply almost equally to attachments of a yet tenderer nature, equally liable, if not more so, to end in disappointment, and that of a much more serious kind; for, however unfeeling persons, and those who have survived the influence of the affections, may jeer and disbelieve, disappointed love has broken many a young and confiding heart. The more sensitive, and pure, and amiable, the deeper penetrates the wound; and the misery is not the less real because it may have been produced by self-delusion.
Love, in grosser natures, is comparatively transient: it may be violent while it lasts, but it sooner reaches its climax, sooner yields to the
influence of other passions. If gratified, it is equally apt to subside; if disappointed, it is readily transferred to a new object. It is in the breast of the gentle and the disinterested alone that love, whether of imaginary or real excellence, takes deep root, and proves either a blessing or a misfortune. When love has its source in selfdelusion, the latter inevitably must be the consequence. If unrequited, there is great danger of its destroying the happiness, if not the life, of the innocent being under its influence; if terminating in marriage, I know not which of the two results is preferable, but am inclined to think death less dreadful than the permanent misery of an illassorted marriage.
To awaken, after we have irrevocably fixed our fate, to the painful consciousness, the unavailing regret of having been deceived in the object of our choice, of having linked ourselves for life with one we can never esteem, never again hope to behold in the same light which so deluded us, is, I conceive, of all the misfortunes that can befall humanity, the most insupportable. To be rescued from such a fate, by what is usually called a disappointment in love, however much of acute suffering such disappointment may cost us, ought to be regarded as a mercy.
The same means which I have recommended for the prevention of misguided friendships, namely, the early exercise of the judgment, and a proper subjugation of the imaginative faculty, united with habitual self-control-will best preserve the youthful heart from wasting the treasures of its affection upon the unworthy.
Poets and romance-writers have ever maintained the doctrine, that “ love's blighted flower,” to use their own flowery language, “can never bloom again.” There can be no greater fallacy inculcated. Only in cases where the deserving object of a first affection has been snatched away by death, can such doctrine have a shadow of truth in it, or ought it. The transfer of the affections maynay, must-with the sensitive and the refined, be a work of time; not a sudden revolution, as with the sensual and the coarse-minded; but it is certain that the heart, recovered through the exercise of reason, from the influence of a misplaced attachment, chastened, too, by experience, and subdued into a frame of more rational expectations, is much more likely, in forming a new attachment, to choose well and wisely, and for its own happiness, than before.
Why we should suppose that the capability of loving real excellence must, of necessity, have been annihilated by the misfortune of having loved imaginary excellence, I cannot understand. This frequently-repeated heresy has, I am convinced, in
many instances, had the bad effect of hurrying young persons disappointed in first-love, into rash unions, void of affection, through sheer despair. Persuaded by the sophistry of these false-sentimentalists, that it is impossible for them ever to
love again, and thinking-infatuated that they are! — to take vengeance on those who have deceived and forsaken them, they sign themselves over for life to a lot in which they have not even the charm of the imagination to sustain them.
One great cause of unhappiness and disappointment in the married state is the system of deception so often practised on both sides during the halcyon days of courtship. Instead of candour and sincerity, it seems to be the chief aim of lovers, by pretending to tastes and qualities which they are conscious of not possessing, to create in each other false impressions. If they practised, after the first months of married life were over, a tenth part of the self-government, and continued to cultivate and to preserve even a portion of those graces which rendered them so attractive in each other's eyes before the indissoluble knot was tied, the chances would be greatly increased of their passing the succeeding years of life together, if not exactly like turtle-doves, still in the enjoyment of a very fair share of affection and contentment. “In all the marriages I have seen," observes Steele, - most of which have been unhappy ones, the great cause of evil has proceeded from slight occasions.”
Leaving out of our calculation those mercenary matches brought about by the maneuvring, establishment-seeking system of modern society, and we may say of vanity, that it is the origin of half the marriages that take place. Vanity and selflove are also guilty of a very large proportion of those disappointments of the heart, and ill-assorted unions of which we have been treating. A young lady hears, or herself perceives, that a certain gentleman is smitten with her charms; or, rice versa, a certain gentleman hears that a certain young lady is tenderly sensible of his merits; can the individual so distinguished do otherwise than immediately invest the person displaying so much good taste with every good quality under the sun? From that moment, every action is viewed through the medium of gratified vanity, and the love of self is misconstrued into the love of another. The ear becomes deaf to all language but that of praise, which it greedily desires to hear in order to sanction the preference entertained. The slightest whisper of the perfection not being quite so perfect, is regarded as a base and spiteful calumny, and resented as a personal affront; in a word, self is prominent in all; self is the idol worshipped in the form of another.
The result of unions formed upon this corrupt principle, it is almost needless to point out. The same vanity which created the delusion before marriage, precipitates its detection after marriage. Self-love, active as ever, returns to its natural channel. The attention which was for a season exclusively directed to the discovery of perfections, is now exclusively occupied in finding out defects; and these, again, are so exaggerated, through the