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“ Wi' mony a vow and lock’d embrace,
“Our parting was fu' tender ;
" We tore oursels asunder.
“ That nipt my flower sae early !-
“ That wraps my Highland Mary !" Is this the gloating of sensuality ? Are these the records of impure unhallowed pleasures ? Nothing of that kind ever made an impression enduring beyond the feverish hour of temporary excitement, or that was not dashed with the bitter stings of remorse and disappointment; but here are delights, the memory of which are cherished as hidden treasures to the last pulsation of this mortal machine, and than which we can conceive nothing more exquisite or pure in the loves of unembodied spirits.
The feelings I have endeavoured to describe, however de. lightful, and apparently innocent, when confined within duly moderate bounds, are, nevertheless, not without their dangers, and it may be taken as a maxim, that they ought never to be indulged in at all, unless marriage is to follow; and, if this is resolved on, the sooner matters come to this desired consummation it will be the safer and the happier for the parties. Delays are nowhere more dangerous than here ; nor is there anywhere a greater number of fatal accidents which may occur to dash from our lips the
cup of happiness which seems within our grasp. All is at first smooth and delightful; but, if we are tantalized too long, fears and jealousies are apt to creep in, and convert that exalted state of feeling, which is the source of our raptures, into the occasion of the most acute torment.
“ I know thee, love ; on foreign mountains bred,
“ Got with fierce whirlwinds, and in thunder born.” It would be easy to describe, phrenologically, the causes of those pains and torments of which lovers complain, and which are the subject of so many interesting narratives in our novels and romances, and the prime movers in so many of our dramatic compositions. The first, if not the principal, source of these pains, is probably Cautiousness, whether excited by the occurrence or apprehension of obstacles without; or, by what is worse, the vacillating conduct of the parties themselves. These fears and troubles are tormenting enough when they arise from outward circumstances, from the frowns of fortune, the opposition of friends, and other obstacles, to our happiness-as, “ Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." But the lover's wretchedness is never entirely complete until it takes the shape of jealousy ; when a misgiving comes over him that he has been deceived, and that the affections, which he had fondly believed to be exclusively his own, are given to another. This is the very acme of distress to a lover, the source of his bitterest torments. And this appears to me to afford an additional proof, that in a lover's mind the desires of loving, and of being loved, are equal and co-ordinate, and that this circumstance is the very binge upon which the whole passion turns. Self-esteem, and love of approbation, are also grievously offended by any doubts like these. Cautiousness and Hope are also brought into a state of unconge. nial activity, giving rise to feelings of solicitude and disappointment. From these offended feelings proceed all the complaints of disdain, and coldness, and fickleness, and falsehood, which are so common in all amatory productions, and which form the subject of so many beautiful ballads, the fertile theme of poetry in all ages.
But, even when love is happy, it is to be indulged, like all other pleasures, in moderation ; otherwise it produces the most unfavourable effects upon the mind. It tends to dissolve the soul in softness and effeminacy, to destroy all manly activity and vigour both of action and resolution. Unless, therefore, it speedily leads to that proper end for which it was given, a virtuous and honourable marriage, it is most prudent and desirable for the parties, if possible, to shake it off, and to engage in active scenes, which shall occupy their attention, and prevent it from injuring their feelings and their prospects for ever.
When it does lead to marriage, it would indeed be a very juvenile mistake to suppose, that such a union, even in the happiest circumstances, is to be constantly a state of rapture, or that we are to experience in it a continuance of those extatic feelings which distinguished the first rise of the passion. Those feelings are no doubt strongest in the moment of their first gratification ; and, in a well-assorted union, they gradually subside into a kind of unobtrusive satisfaction, contributing, no doubt, greatly to the happiness of the individuals concerned, but not appearing much in any marked outward indication. It is conformable to the reason and propriety which dictates every part of Nature's arrangements that this should be so. The gorgeous array of clouds, the variegated tints and streaks which announce the approach of the God of Day, when he comes forth as a bridegroom from his chamber," do not accompany him in his after-course they would but encumber his light, and detract from the warmth of his beams. So it is with the fervours of youthful love, which hardly survive in their full vigour the period when hope is turned into fruition, and when we are blessed with the full enjoyment of all that we most desire. This led the poet, before quoted, to say, that “ Fancy dies in the cradle.” It has performed its office-and, like every thing else, does not endure beyond the period when its use is required. Men and women, married as well as single, have far too important duties to perform to afford to spend their lives in a state of lazy pleasure or rapturous excitation : not that we mean to say that the married state is without its joys, or that these are all of a tame uninteresting description. There are many occasions when the joys of wedded love are as acute as any that fall to the lot of the expectant lover. The pleasure of meeting after absence could hardly be more vividly expressed by the fondest lover than it is thus by Coriolanus to Virgilia :
0, a kiss
“ Hath virgin'd it e'er since.” Or, when Othello, on meeting Desdemona after their being in danger of shipwreck, exclaims
“O my soul's joy,
“ If it were now to die,
“Succeeils in unknown fate.” Nor could a lover's fondness express more ardent affection than the exclamation of Brutus:
“ You are my true and honourable wife,
“ That visit my sad heart." The calm satisfied state of a wedded pair, united in the pure bonds of mutual affection, is thus well described by Thom
“ Perhaps thy loved Lucinda shares thy walk,
“ Alone bestows, and on a favour'd few. Among those, however, who have been too sensual in their loves, who have expected in the married state a degree and a kind of happiness different from what it is calculated to yield ; there are some to whom this subsiding of their youthful raptures brings a kind of disappointment; and, if Adhesiveness be not strong, and the higher principles not well regulated,
this is a dangerous period, and apt to lead to conjugal infidelity. Such persons are apt to lay the blame of that languor which has come over their over-excited feelings, to the charge of the unfortunate partner of their original choice, and foolishly to think, that by a change of object these feelings, which were so delightful to them in their first excitement, may be excited again. But this is a miserable delusion. The first feelings attending an honourable love, once passed, can never be recalled ; and, least of all, can they be found in the turbulence of a guilty passion. The feelings here, instead of tending one way, so as to produce a general glow of unmingled delight, are in a state of irreconcilable warfare. How can “ love of approbation” be at ease when we are engaged in that which excites the disapprobation of all good men ? If benevolence be not extinguished, how must it be affected with the misery we are inflicting on a worthy object ? What are the joys to which Hope has to look in the prospect which lies before us ? And, if Conscientiousness be not utterly suppressed, will it not be ready to awaken within us the stings of remorse whenever we look back upon the past? If these feelings are possessed in any vigour, they will be sufficient, and more than sufficient, to poison all the miserable delights of illicit love, and to avenge upon us all the guilt we have contracted, and all the misery we have caused.
In some countries, where public morals are in a very relaxed state, and where conjugal infidelity is hardly regarded as a crime, intrigue is reduced almost to a system ; married men, and women too, avowedly and publicly entertain a succession of lovers, and enter into a series of petites affaires, as they are conveniently and complacently termed, just as their light inclinations prompt them. But the end of all this is vanity and vexation of spirit. It bespeaks a total want, at least a lamentable deficiency, of the affections; and, even in such countries, there are instances of faithful married pairs, who prefer the solid satisfaction of mutual faith to the unsatisfactory delights of variety. Such a course of life