It was the anniversary of their marriage. Eleven years before they had stood at the altar and taken those holy vows. Well did Henry Howard recollect that bridal morning. And how had he fulfilled the trust reposed in him? With bitter remorse he gazed upon the wreck before him, and thought of that gentle being once so full of love and joy.
An earnest prayer broke from his lips, and his arms were clasped around her.
"Mary, dear Mary," he whispered, "may not the past be forgotten? Grievously have I erred, but believe me, it has been partly through ignorance. An orphan from my earliest childhood, I knew not the blessing of a mother's love. Cold and stern in my nature, I comprehended not the wants of your gentle spirit. I see it all now: your constant self-denial, your untiring efforts to please, until, wearied and discouraged, your very heart's-blood seemed chilled within you, and you became the living image of that cold heartlessness which had caused the fearful change.
"But may we not forget the past? Will you not be once more my loving, joyous bride, and the remainder of my life shall be devoted to your happiness?"
Almost fearful was the agitation which shook that feeble frame, and it was long before there was a reply.
At length, in the words of little Eva, she whispered, "Oh my husband! My own dear husband! My heart is so glad! I had thought it cold and dead, but now it again beats responsive to your words of love. The prayers of my angel-child have been answered, and happiness will yet be ours. My dear, dear Eva, how often have I wept as I thought of my coldness toward her, and yet all power to show my earnest love seemed gone for ever."
"It slumbered, dearest, but it is not gone. The breath of affection will again revive your warm-hearted, generous nature, and our remaining little ones will rejoice in the sunshine of a mother's love. Our Eva, from her heavenly home, will gaze with joy upon those she held so dear."
Another year, and few would have recognised that once dreary home.
Life's sunbeams shone brightly now. Those little messengers to the human heart,—the look of love, the gentle touch, the word of praise,—all, all were there. Trifles in themselves, but ah, how essential to the spirit's Life!
LETTERS TO A YOUNG WIFE
FROM A MARRIED LADY.
MY DEAR LIZZIE,
I have just received the pleasing intelligence of your marriage with one so worthy of your trust and affection. Of course, you are very happy; for there is no more perfect happiness for a young and loving woman than to centre her heart's best feelings upon one being—to feel her destiny bound up in his—to become, as it were, a very part of his life. Perhaps, at such a time, my dear girl, it may seem unkind to throw the least shadow over the bright sky of your happiness; but I cannot refrain from giving you some little advice now, at the outset of your new life.
You are looking forward—are you not?—with perfect confidence to the future. You think that the sea upon which you are launched, will ever remain calm and untroubled as now; that you will go on for ever thus, joyous and happy—thus, free from care and sorrow; but, Oh, remember, there is no sunshine that is not clouded over sometimes; no stream so smooth as to be always undisturbed. Then, make up your mind to have cares, perplexities, and trials, such as have never troubled you before; and be prepared to meet them.
As yet, you are to your husband the same perfect being that you were before marriage, free from all that is wrong—your follies even regarded as delightful. You are now placed upon a pedestal—a very goddess; but, believe me, you must soon descend to take your place among mortals, and well for you if you can do it gracefully. Believe me, dearest, I have no wish to sadden your spirit—only to prepare it for the trials which must come to perplex it.
You must learn to have your faults commented upon, one by one, and yet be meek and patient under reproach. You must learn to have those sayings which you have heard praised as witticisms, regarded as mere nonsense, You must learn to yield even when you seem to be in the right; to give up your will even when your husband seems obstinate and unreasonable; to be chided when you expected praise, and have your utmost endeavours to do rightly regarded as mere duties. But, be not cast down by this dark side of the picture. You will be happier, spite of all these trials, than you have ever been, if you only resolve to be firm in the path of duty; to strive to do well always; to return a kind answer for a harsh word, and, above all, to control your temper. There may be times when this may seem impossible; but always remember that one angry word provokes another, and that thus the beautiful gem of wedded affection is tarnished, until what seemed to be the purest gold is found only gilded brass. Amiability is the most necessary of all virtues in a wife, and perhaps the most difficult of all others to retain.
Pray fervently for a meek forbearing spirit; cherish your kindly impulses, and leave the rest to your Father in Heaven.
I shall, if you like, write you again upon this subject. You know I have been wedded long enough to have had some little experience, and if it can benefit you, you are welcome to it.
Adieu for awhile. Ever your friend.
MY DEAR LIZZIE,
I hardly know whether pleasure or pain was the uppermost feeling of my mind, while reading your reply to my last letter. You have some secret disappointment preying upon your young and thus far happy heart; and although you speak favourably of your new duties: as a wife, still there is not that couleur de rose about your descriptions of the present which used to tinge those of the future.
You have felt already, have you not, that the world has interests for your husband other than those connected with yourself—that he can be very happy even when you are not present to share his happiness? You are not the first, dear Lizzie, who has been thus awakened from an exquisite dream of love; yet do not repine nor fret, for that will only increase your sorrow, but reason with yourself. Think how many claims there are upon your husband's time and society—claims to which he must bow if he wish to retain the position he now holds. Before your marriage, you were the all engrossing object of his thoughts—all that he depended upon for happiness. There was all the excitement of winning you for his wife, which caused him for a time to forego every other pleasure which might interfere with this one great object. But now that is all over. Like all others, he must proceed onward, and ever look forward to something yet to be attained.
You say that he has left you alone one whole evening, and that you punished him for it by appearing very much offended when he returned. Now, dear Lizzie, was that the way to cure him of not appreciating your society? By making yourself thus disagreeable upon his return, would he not rather delay that return another time?
Think over what I have written, and when he is obliged to leave you again, wear no sullen frowns, nor gloomy looks, but part from him with smiles and pleasant words; amuse yourself during his absence with your books, your music, your work; make everything around you wear a cheerful look to welcome him home; and believe me, he will appreciate the kindness which is thus free from selfishness.
A man's home must ever be a sunny place to him, and it should be a wife's most pleasant duty to drive for ever from his hearth-side those hideous sister spirits, discontent and gloomy peevishness.
This way that young wives have of punishing their husbands, always comes back upon themselves with double force. Any man, however unreasonable he appears, may be influenced by kindly words and happy smiles, and there is not one, however affectionate and domestic, that will not be driven away by sullen frowns and discontented looks.
Do not allow, my dear girl, these feelings of gloom and sadness to grow upon you. Believe me, you can overcome them if you will, and now is the time for you to exert all your power of self-control.
I know there is much to make a young married woman sad. Ere many days of wedded life are past she begins to feel the difference between the lover and the husband. She misses that entire devotion to her every whim and caprice which is so delightful that all absorbed attention to her every trifling word; that impressiveness of manner which is flattering and pleasing; and she almost fancies that she is a most miserable, neglected personage.
This is a trying moment for a young and sensitive woman, but if she only reason with herself, and resolve to yield no place in her spirits to feelings of repining, she will be happier—far happier with her husband as he is, than were he to retain all the devotion of the lover.
I know this seems difficult to believe: but reflect a moment. Suppose your husband should remain just the same as he was before marriage, should give up all other society for you, should be constantly repeating his protestations of love, constantly hanging around you, watching your every step, living upon your very breath as it were; do you not agree with me in thinking that all this would after awhile become very tiresome? Would you not get weary of such a perpetual display of affection, and would you feel any pride in a husband who made no advancement in the world, even though it were given up for you? No, no! Think this all over, and you will see that it is just as well for you to relinquish his society sometimes; that is, if you welcome his return with a happy face.
Try my experiment, dear, when next he leaves you, and write me the result. Adieu for awhile.
MY DEAR LIZZIE,
A severe illness has prevented my answering your kind letter for some weeks, but now I am quite well again, and hope to continue without further interruption our pleasant correspondence.
Your last letter I have read and re-read, not without, I must confess, some little secret misgiving as to whether you have not taken one step to mar the happiness of your married life, now so perfect in its beauty.
You speak, in your own whole-souled affectionate manner, of a friend with whom you have met, and whose kindness has so won your affection and gratitude, that you have opened your whole heart to her. Now, my dear Lizzie, that same little heart of yours is quite too precious a volume to be thus shown to every new comer who wins upon you by a few kindly words. You have given it to your husband; let it be kept, then, only for his gaze; open every page of it for his inspection, and let him correct whatever errors he may find traced thereupon. Believe me, dear, you will find no truer or more disinterested confidant than him to whom you have pledged your marriage vows.
Do not think I wish to discourage all friendships with your own sex. Oh, no; they possess too great a charm to be thus rudely thrown aside. To me, there is hardly a more lovely sight in the world than the union of two congenial spirits in the tie of sincere and unselfish affection. But I do not dignify with the name of friendship those caprices of the moment, which so often assume its title and usurp its place. A young girl meets another at an assembly—she is pleased with her manners; thinks her amiable, because she smiles frequently; intellectual, because she converses easily; winning and fascinating, because she receives some kind attentions from her. Forthwith they become devoted friends. In a few weeks they discover that they are not so congenial as they imagined, and the friendship is broken off. Away with such desecration! One might as well compare the scenes of forest, grove, and field in a theatre, to those painted by nature's own hand, as this momentary impulse to that noble, unwavering affection which gives such beauty and dignity to the female character. There are many imitations of the precious gem, but although they are equally bright and beautiful at first, they soon tarnish and show themselves in their true and ungilded state.
There is another part of your letter, dear Lizzie, which gives me much uneasiness. After your piquant description of the soiree you attended, you say that you were quite a belle there, and that you met again Frank H—, your former admirer, who was very devoted to you. Lizzie, dear Lizzie, do not think thus, do not act thus, do not write thus a second time. Remember you are a wife. A sacred, solemn duty is yours, which will require all your powers to perform with unwavering fidelity. Let me be frank with you, darling, and tell you that love of admiration has ever been your greatest fault, and is one of the most dangerous that a young wife can have. Check it, control it now, before it has led you farther into a snare which may involve your everlasting happiness. If you find it impossible to drive it away from you entirely, endeavour to centre it upon your husband. Think of your personal appearance only so far as it will please him; your dress, so far as it will gratify his taste; your intellect, as it will make his home agreeable; your musical powers, as they will enable you to give him pleasure; learn to view all your charms and powers of pleasing in this light; improve them with this view, and all will go well with you and your married life.
I was quite charmed with your description of your sweet little home, dear Lizzie! What a lovely place it must be, and what a beautiful prospect of happiness there is before you!
You must be very watchful, dear, of your husband's tastes and peculiarities. Always continue to have his favourite seat ready when he comes home wearied with the day's business; his favourite slippers ready for immediate use; his favourite dishes set before him. There is much influence to be gained over a man by thus proving to him that he has been thought of while absent, and his particular fancies remembered. Always have a cheerful home, a bright fire, a happy welcoming smile, and, believe me, you will have a domestic husband.
I was very happy to learn that you tried the experiment I recommended, and met with so pleasant a result. Cultivate the cheerfulness you seem to have regained; do not allow a shadow to rest upon your spirit, and you will be doubly rewarded in the devoted affection of your husband, and the approval of your own conscience. Adieu for awhile.
My DEAR LIZZIE,
I have thought many, many times of your last beautiful, wife-like letter. It was so full of tenderness—so full of a spirit of humility—so free from all selfishness, that it called from my heart a gush of the warmest emotion. I have read it again and again, and each time with an increased feeling of interest and pleasure.
You are in the right path, now, darling—God grant that you may never be induced to deviate from it! Go on as you have commenced, and, believe me, more happiness will be yours than you have ever dreamed of. There is no richer treasure in this world—no greater blessing—no more unalloyed happiness to a woman than the perfect trust and love of a good husband. The tie that binds the wedded is one that must be guarded well, or it may become partially unloosed, and it is almost impossible ever to fasten it as at first.
Cherish that all-absorbing love for your husband, which now so fills your breast; regard nothing as beneath your watchful attention which adds to his happiness; consult his wishes, his tastes, in all your actions, your habits, your dress. Above all, never deceive him. Be able ever to meet him with an unflinching eye, a true and honest heart.
Ever be guided by the lovely light of principle; let this direct you in all your paths; keep your eye fixed upon it; lose not sight of it a moment, for it beams from a beautiful home of peaceful happiness, whither it would lead you, and where all arrive who follow its guidance.
Cultivate in your heart a love of home and home duties. Strive to make that place as attractive as possible, and do everything in your power to render it an agreeable resting-place for your husband. The daily routine of home duties, when performed in the right spirit, diffuse a feeling of cheerfulness over one's heart that can never be found in the applause of the world, or the gratification of any favourite desire.
Endeavour to make your husband's evenings at home as pleasant as you are able; call forth your powers of pleasing; bring up his favourite topics of conversation; amuse him with music; do all that you can to convince him that he has a most delightful wife, and trust me, dear girl, you will never fail to make his own "ingle side" the happiest spot in the world to him.
I once knew a wife who complained to me, with many tears, that her husband left her, evening after evening, to pass his time in the reading-room of a hotel. Rallying the husband upon his desertion of so pleasant a wife, he replied to me, that he had commenced his married life with the determination to be a kind, domestic husband, but that he had actually been driven from his home and for what, do you imagine, my dear Lizzie? Why, because he had not the simple privilege of enjoying a cigar! Yes, his wife actually would not allow him to smoke in the parlour where their evenings were passed, because, forsooth, she was afraid of spoiling her new curtains! They, it seems, were of more importance to her than the comfort of her husband. He had been confirmed in the habit of smoking for years, and could not pass an evening without it. He did not feel inclined to sit alone in a cold, cheerless room, so he went to a neighbouring hotel, which he found so lively and pleasant that he came to the conclusion, for the future, to enjoy his cigars there.
You may smile, and look upon this as a trifle, and so it was; yet was it of sufficient importance to drive a man from his own fireside, and render a woman lonely and unhappy.
Life is made up of trifles, and it is by paying attention to opportunities of winning love by little things that a wife makes her husband and herself happy. Are such means, then, to be neglected when they lead to such results?
I must bid you adieu now for a while, dear Lizzie. I think of you very, very often, and pray most fervently that you may be enabled so to perform your duties as a wife as to be a blessing to your husband and an example to all womankind.
Ever your friend.
BEHOLD, how fair of eye, and mild of mien Walks forth of marriage yonder gentle queen; What chaste sobriety whene'er she speaks, What glad content sits smiling on her cheeks, What plans of goodness in that bosom glow, What prudent care is throned upon her brow, What tender truth in all she does or says, What pleasantness and peace in all her ways! For ever blooming on that cheerful face, Home's best affections grow divine in grace; Her eyes are rayed with love, serene and bright; Charity wreathes her lips with smiles of light; Her kindly voice hath music in its notes; And Heaven's own atmosphere around her floats!
BE GENTLE WITH THY WIFE.
BE gentle! for you little know How many trials rise; Although to thee they may be small, To her, of giant size.
Be gentle! though perchance that lip May speak a murmuring tone, The heart may beat with kindness yet, And joy to be thine own.
Be gentle! weary hours of pain 'Tis woman's lot to bear; Then yield her what support thou canst, And all her sorrows share.
Be gentle! for the noblest hearts At times may have some grief, And even in a pettish word May seek to find relief.
Be gentle! none are perfect here— Thou'rt dearer far than life, Then husband, bear and still forbear— Be gentle to thy wife.
A TRUE TALE OF LIFE.
IN one of the New England States, the little church-bell in Chester village rung merrily in the clear morning air of a bright summer's day. It was to call the people together, and they all obeyed its summons—for who among the aged, middle-aged, or the young, did not wish to fitness the marriage ceremonies of their favourite, Ellen Lawton? Ere the tolling of the bell had ceased, the gray-haired man was leaning on the finger-worn ball of his staff, in the corner of his antiquated pew; the hale, healthy farmer came next; and then the seat was filled with rosy-cheeked boys and girls, till the dignified matron brought up the rear at the honourable head. The church became quiet, eager eyes were fastened upon the door. Presently a tall form entered, that of a handsome man, apparently about thirty years of age, on whose arm was leaning, in sweet childlike smiling trust, the young and loved Ellen Lawton, whose rose-cheek delicately shaded the pale face, and who looked more beautiful in her angel loveliness than ever before, even to the eyes of the humble villagers, to whom she ever was but a "thing of beauty" and "a joy for ever." If thus she looked to familiar eyes, how transcendently beautiful must she have appeared to him, who this hour was to make her his own chosen bride, the wife of his bosom, the pride, the priceless jewel of his heart. They stood before the altar; he cast his dark eye upon her—she raised hers, beaming in their blue depths, all full of love and tenderness, and as they met his, the orange blossoms trembled slightly in her auburn tresses, and the rose-tint, deepened on her cheek. The voice of the man of God was heard, and soon Frederic Gorton had promised to "love, cherish, and protect," and Ellen Lawton to "love, honour, and obey." As it ever is, so it was there, an interesting occasion—one that might well cause the eye to fill with tears, the heart to hope, fearfully but earnestly hope, that that young girl's dreams may not too soon fade, that in him to whom she has given her heart she may ever find a firm friend, a ready counsellor, a kind and forbearing spirit, a sympathizing interest in all her thoughts and emotions. On this occasion many criticising glances were thrown upon the handsome stranger, and many whispers were circulated.
"I fear," said one of the deacon's good ladies, "that he is too proud and self-willed for our gentle Ellen;" and she took off her spectacles, which she wiped with her silk handkerchief, as if she thought they were wearied of the long scrutiny as her own very eyes.
Is there truth in the good lady's suspicion? Look at Frederic Gorton, as he stands there in his stateliness, towering above his bride, like the oak of the forest above the flower at its foot. His eye is very dark and very piercing, but how full of tenderness as he casts it upon Ellen's up-turned face! His brow is lofty, and pale, and stern, but partially covered with long dark hair, with which lady's finger had never toyed. His cheek was as if chiselled from marble, so perfect had the hand of nature formed it. His mouth—another space of Ellen's unpenetrating discernment, would have been reminded of Shakspeare's
"O, what a deal of scorn looks beautiful In the contempt and anger of his lip."
There was about it that compression, so indicative of firmness, which, while it commands respect, as often wins love.
A perfect contrast to him, was the fairy thing at his side; gentle as the floating breeze of evening, trusting as true-hearted woman ever is, lovely, amiable, and beautiful, she was just one to win a strong man's love; for there is something grateful to a proud man in having a delicate, gentle, confiding girl place all her love and trust in him and making all her happiness derivable from his will and wish. Heaven's blessing rest upon him who fulfils faithfully that trust reposed in him, but woe be unto him who remembers not his vows to love and to cherish!
The marriage service over, the friends of Ellen pressed eagerly around her, offering their many wishes for her long life and happiness. The gray-haired man, and aged mother in Israel, laid their hands on the young bride's fair head, and fervently prayed "God bless thee;" and not a few there were who gave glances upward to Frederic Gorton, and impressively said,
"Love as we have loved the treasure God transfers to thee."
The widowed mother of Ellen gazed upon the scene with mingled emotions. Ellen was her eldest child, and had been her pride, her joy, and delight since the death of her husband, many years before. She was giving her to a stranger, whose reputation as a man of talent, of worth, and honourable position in the world was unquestioned; but of whose private character she had no means of acquiring a knowledge. It was all uncertainty if a stern, business man of the world, should supply the tenderness and devoted love of a fond mother, to her whose wish had been hitherto scarcely ever disregarded. Yet it might be—she could only hope, and her trust was in "Him who doeth all things well."
For the two previous years Ellen had been at a female boarding school in a neighbouring state, on the anniversaries of which she had taken an active part in the examinatory exercises. Frederic Gorton, who was one of the board, was so much pleased with her, that he made of the teachers minute inquiries in regard to her character, which were answered entirely satisfactorily—for Ellen had been a general favourite at school, as well as in her own village. Afterward he called on her frequently, and on her final return home, Frederic Gorton, who had ever been so confident in his eternal old bachelorship, accompanied her, and sought her from her mother as his bride. Seldom does one so gifted seek favour of lady in vain; and Ellen Lawton, hitherto unsought and unwon, yielded up in silent worship her whole heart, that had involuntarily bowed itself in his presence, and became as a child in reverence.
But Frederic Gorton had lived nearly thirty-five years of his life among men. His mother had died in his infancy, his father soon after, and he, an only child, had been educated in the family of an old bachelor uncle.
The influence of woman had never been exerted on his heart. In his boyhood he had formed, from reading works of fiction, an idea of woman as perfection in all things; but as he grew in years and in wisdom, and learned the falsity of many youthful ideas and dreams, he discarded that which he had entertained of woman, and knowing nothing of her, but by her general appearance of vanity and love of pleasure, he cherished for her not much respect, and regarded her as an inferior, to whom, he thought in his pride, he at least would never level himself by marriage. He smiled scornfully, on learning his appointment as trustee of the female school, and laughingly said to an old bachelor companion:—
"They will make me to have care of the gentle weak ones, whether I will or no."
"O, yes," replied his friend, who was somewhat disposed to be satiric, "classically speaking, 'pulchra faciant te prole parentum.' Depend upon it this will be your initiation; you will surely, upon attendance there, be caught by the smiling graces of some pretty Venus—but, be careful; remember there is no escape when once caught. Ah, my friend, I consider you quite gone. I shall soon see in the morning daily—'Married, on the 12th, Hon. Frederic Gorton, of M—, to Miss Isabella, Mary, or Ellen Somebody, and then, be assured, my best friend, Fred, that I shall heave a sigh imo pectore, not for myself only, but for you."
Some prophecies, jestfully uttered, are fulfilled—so were those of Frederic's friend; and when they next met, only one was a bachelor.
But we will return to that bright morning when the bell had rung merrily—when Ellen Lawton had returned from the village church to her childhood home as Ellen Gorton, and was to leave it for a new home. After entering the parlour, Mr. Gorton said,
"Now, Ellen, we will be ready to start in as few moments as possible."
"Yes," answered Ellen, "but I wish to go over to Aunt Mary's, just to bid her good-bye."
"But my dear," answered Frederic, "there is not time;" looking at his watch.
"Just a moment," persisted Ellen, "I will hurry. I promised Aunt Mary; she is sick and cannot leave her room."
And, as Frederic answered not, and as Ellen's eyes were brimful of tears, she could but half see the impatience expressed on his countenance, and hastily departed.
But, Aunt Mary had innumerable kisses to bestow upon her favourite, and many words and wishes to utter, brokenly, in a voice choked with tears; and it was many minutes ere she could tear herself away, and on her return she met several loiterers from the church, who stopped her to look, as they said, upon her sweet face once more, and list to her sweet voice again. She hurried on—Mr. Gorton met her at the door, and taking her hand, said, sternly,
"Ellen, I wish you not to delay a moment in bidding adieu to your friends—you have already kept me waiting too long."
There was no tenderness in his voice as he uttered this, and it fell as a weight upon Ellen's heart, already saddened at the thought of the parting with her mother and home friends, which must be now, and which was soon over.
As the carriage rolled away, Ellen grieved bitterly. Mr. Gorton, who really loved Ellen sincerely and fondly, encircled her waist with his arm, and said, kindly,
"Do you feel, Ellen, that you have made too great a sacrifice in leaving home and friends for me?"
"O, no," answered Ellen, raising to his her love-lit countenance, "no sacrifice could be too great to make for you; but do you not know I have left all I had to love before I loved you? And they will miss me too at home, and will think of me, how often, too, when I shall be thinking of you only! Think it not strange that I weep."
Nevertheless, Mr. Gorton did think it strange. He had no idea of the tender associations clustering around one's home. He had no idea of the depth and richness and sweetness of a mother's love, of a sister's yearning fondness, for they ever had been denied him; consequently the emotions that thrilled the heart of his bride could find no response and met with no sympathy in his own. It was rather with wonder, than with any other sensation, that he regarded her sorrow. Was she not entering upon a newer and higher sphere of life? Was she not to be the mistress of a splendid mansion? Was she not to be the envied of many and many a one who had feigned every attraction and exerted every effort for the station, she was to assume; and should she weep with this in view?
Thus Mr. Gorton thought—as man often reasons.
After having proceeded a little distance, they came within view of an humble cottage, when Ellen said,
"I must stop here, Mr. Gorton, and see Grandma Nichols (she was an elderly member of the church of which Ellen was a member), and when I was last to see her, she said, as she should not be able to walk to to see me married, I must call on her, or she should think me proud. I will stop for a moment—just a moment," she added, after a pause, observing he did not answer.
They were just opposite the cottage at that moment, yet he gave no orders to stop. With a fresh burst of tears, Ellen exclaimed,
"Please, Mr. Gorton, let me see her. I may never see her again, and she will think I did not care to bid her a last farewell."
But Mr. Gorton said,
"Really, Ellen, I am very much surprised at the apparent necessity of trifles to make your happiness. You went to see your aunt after I had assured you there was not time. I wish you to remember that your little wishes and whims, however important they may scene to you, cannot seem of such importance to me as to interfere with my arrangements. What matters it if my bride do not say farewell to an old woman whom I never heard of, and shall never think of again, and who will soon probably die and cease to remember that you slighted her?"
And he laid Ellen's head upon his shoulder, and wiping the tears from her face, wondered of what nature incomprehensible she was.
But, it did matter to her in more respects than one, that she was not permitted to call at the cottage. A mind so sensitive as Ellen's feels the least neglect and the slightest reproof, and is equally pained by giving cause for pain, as receiving. Besides, how much was expressed in that last sentence of Mr. Gorton's, accompanying the denial of her simple request! How much contained in that denial, too! How plainly she read in it the future—how fully did it reveal the disposition of him by whose will she saw she was herself to be hereafter governed! Though her mind was full of these thoughts, there was no less of love for him—love in Ellen Lawton could never change, though she wondered, too, how he could refuse what seemed to her so easy to grant. And so they both silently pursued their way, wondering in their hearts as to the nature of each other. This, however, did not continue long; and soon Ellen's tears ceased to flow, and she listened, delighted, to the eloquent words of her gifted husband, spoken in the most musical and rich of all voices.
Woman will have love for her husband so long as she has admiration, and Ellen knew she would never cease to admire the talents and brilliant acquirements of Frederic Gorton.
After several days travel through a delightfully romantic country, they reached the town of M—, where was the residence of Mr. Gorton. It was an elegant mansion, the exterior planned and finished in the most tasteful and handsome style—the interior equally so—and furnished with all that a young bride of most cultivated taste could desire. The eye of Ellen was delighted and surprised, even to tears, and inaudibly, but fervently in her heart she murmured, "how devotedly will I love him who has provided for me so much comfort and splendour, and how cheerfully will I make sacrifices of my feelings, 'my wishes and my whims,' for him who has loved me so much as to make me his wife!" and she gazed into her husband's face through her tears, and kissed reverently his hand.
"Why weep you, my Ellen? Are you not pleased?"
"O, yes; but you have done too much for me. I can never repay you, only in my love, which is so boundless I have not dared to breathe it all to you, nor could I."
Gorton looked upon her in greater astonishment than before. Tears he had ever associated with sorrow; and surely, thought he, here is no occasion for tears, and he said,
"Well, if you love me, you will hasten to wipe away those tears, and let me see you in smiles. I do not often smile myself, therefore the more need for my lady to do so. Moreover, we may expect a multitude of callers; and think, Ellen, of the effect of any one's seeing the bride in tears."
Calling a servant to conduct her to her dressing-room, and expressing his wish for her to dress in her most becoming manner, he left her.
It is unnecessary to say that Ellen was admired and loved by all the friends of her husband, even by his brother judges and politicians. Herbert Lester, the particular friend of Mr. Gorton, whose prophecy had thus soon been verified, came many miles to express personally his sympathy and condolence. These he changed to congratulations, when he felt the influence of the grace and beauty of the wife of his friend—and he declared that he would make an offer of his hand and heart, could he find another Ellen.
Meanwhile time passed, and though Ellen was daily called upon to yield her own particular preferences to Mr. Gorton's, as she had done even on her bridal day, she was comparatively happy. Had she possessed less keenness of sensibility, she might have been happier; or had Mr. Gorton possessed more, that he could have understood her, many tears would have been spared her. Oftentimes, things comparatively trifling to him would wound the sensitive nature of Ellen most painfully, and he of course would have no conception why they should thus affect her.
Occupied as he was mostly with worldly transactions and political affairs, Ellen's mind often, in his absence, reverted to the scenes of her youth, and her childhood home, her mother, and the bright band of her young sisters; and longings would come up in her heart to behold them once more.
Two years having passed without her having seen one member of her family, she one day asked Mr. Gorton if it would not be convenient soon to make a visit to Chester. He answered that his arrangements would not admit of it at present—and coldly and cruelly asked her if she had yet heard of Grandma Nichols' decease. Ellen answered not, and bent her head over the face of her little Frederic, who was sleeping, to hide her tears. Perceiving her emotion, however, he added,
"Ellen, I assure you it is impossible for me to comply with your wish, but I will write to your mother, and urge her to visit us—will not that do?"
Ellen's face brightened, as with a beam of sunshine, and springing to her husband's side, she laid her glowing cheek upon his, and then smiled upon him so sweetly that even the cold heart of Frederic Gorton glowed with a warmth unusual.
Seven years passed away, leaving their shadows as the sun does. And Ellen—
"But matron care, or lurking woe, Her thoughtless, sinless look had banished, And from her cheek the roseate glow Of girlhood's balmy morn had vanished; Within her eyes, upon her brow, Lay something softer, fonder, deeper, As if in dreams some visioned woe Has broke the Elysium of the sleeper."
Never yet, since that bright bridal morn, had Ellen looked upon her native village, though scarcely three hundred miles separated her from it. Now her heart beat quick and joyfully, for her husband had told her that business would call him to that vicinity in a few days, and she might accompany him. With all the willful eagerness of a child she set her heart on that visit, and from morning till night she would talk with her little boys of the journey to what seemed to her the brightest, most sacred spot on earth, next to her present home. And the home of one's childhood! no matter how sweet, how-dear and beloved the home the heart afterwards loves, it never forgets, it never ceases most fondly to turn back to the memories, and the scenes, and the friends of its early years.
One fault, if fault it might be called, among so many excellencies in Ellen's character, was that of putting off "till to-morrow what should be done today." This had troubled Mr. Gorton exceedingly, who, prompt himself, would naturally wish others to be so also, and notwithstanding his constant complaints, and Ellen's desire to please him, she had not yet overcome her nature in that respect, though she had greatly improved. The evening preceding the intended departure, Mr. Gorton said to his wife,
"Now, Ellen, I hope you will have everything in readiness for an early departure in the morning. Have the boys and yourself all ready the moment the carriage is at the door, for you know I do not like to be obliged to wait."
Almost before the stars had disappeared in the sky, Ellen was busy in her final preparations. She was sure she should have everything in season, and wondered how her husband could suppose otherwise, upon an occasion in which she had so much interest. Several minutes before the appointed time, Ellen had all in readiness for departure, the trunks all packed and locked, the children in their riding dresses and caps; and proceeding from her dressing-room to the front hall door, she was thinking that this time, certainly, she should not hear the so oft repeated complaint—
"Ellen, you are always too late!"—when, to her dismay, she met Georgie, her youngest boy, dripping with mud and water from the brook, whence he had just issued, where, he said, he had ventured in chase of a goose, which had impudently hissed at him, which insult the young boy, in his own conception a spirited knight of the regular order, could not brook, and in his wrath had pursued the offender to his place of retreat, much to the detriment of his dress.
Ellen was in consternation; but one thing was evident—Georgie's dress must be changed. With trembling hands she unlocked a trunk, and sought for a change of dress, while the waiting-maid proceeded to disrobe the child.
Just at this moment Mr. Gorton entered, saying the carriage was at the door. Various things had occurred that morning to perplex him, and he was in a bad humour. Seeing Ellen thus engaged with the trunk, as he thought, not half packed, various articles being upon the carpet, and Georgie in no wise ready, the cloud came over his brow, and he said, harshly,
"I knew it would be thus, Ellen—I have never known you to be in readiness yet; but you must know I am not to be trifled with."
And with this, not heeding the explanation she attempted to make, he seized his valise and left the room. Jumping into the carriage, he commanded the driver to proceed.
Ellen heard the carriage rolling away in astonishment. She ran to the door, and watched it in the distance. But she thought it could not be possible he had gone without her—he would return: and she hastened the maid, and still kept watching at the door. She waited in vain, for he returned not.
The excitement into which Ellen was thrown by the anticipation of meeting her friends once more, may be readily imagined by those similarly constituted with her, and the reaction occasioned by her disappointment, also. Her heart had been entirely fixed upon it, and what but cruelty was it in her husband to deprive her thus so unreasonably of so great an enjoyment—to her so exquisite a pleasure?
In the sudden rush of her feelings, she recalled the last seven years of her life, and could recollect no instance in which she had failed doing all in her power to contribute to her husband's happiness. On the other hand, had he not often wounded her feelings unnecessarily? Had he ever denied himself anything for her sake, but required of her sacrifice of her own wishes to his?
The day wore away, and the night found Ellen in a burning fever. The servant who went for the physician in the early morning, said she had raved during the latter part of the night. As the family physician entered the room, she said, mildly,
"O, do not go and, leave me! I am all ready—all ready. Do not go—it will kill me if you go."
The doctor took her hand; it was very hot; and her brow was terribly throbbing and burning. He remained with her the greater part of the day, but the attack of fever on the brain had been so violent that no attempt for relief was of avail.
She grew worse and about midnight, with the words—
"O, do not go, Mr. Gorton,—do not go and leave me!"—her spirit took its flight.
And the morning dawned on Ellen in her death-sleep—dawned as beautiful as that bright one, when the bell rang merrily for her bridal. Now the dismal death-note's pealed forth the departure of her spirit to a brighter world. Would not even an angel weep to look upon one morning, and then upon the other?
The birds, from the cage in the window, poured forth their songs; but they fell unheeded on the ears they had so often delighted. The voices of Fred and Georgie, ever as music to the loving heart of the young mother, would fall thrillingly on her ear no more. She lay there, still and cold—her dreams over—her hopes all passed by—the sun of her young life set—and how?
People came in, one after another, to look upon her—and wept that one so young and good should die. They closed her eyes—they laid her in her grave-clothes, and folded her pale hands—and there she lay!
And now we leave that chamber of the too-early dead. Mr. Gorton's feelings of anger soon subsided. In a few hours he felt oppressed with a sense of the grief Ellen would experience. His feelings prompted him to return for her. Several times he put his head out of the window to order the driver to return, but, his, pride intervening, he as often desisted. Yet his mind was ill at ease. He, also, involuntarily, reviewed the period of his wedded life. He recalled the goodness, and patience, and sweetness, which Ellen had ever shown him—the warm love she had ever evinced for him: and his heart seemed to appreciate, for the first time, the value and character of Ellen. He felt how unjust and unkind he had often been to her—he wondered he could have been so,—and resolved that, henceforth, he would show her more tenderness.
As he stopped for the night, at a public-house, his resolution was to return early in the morning. Yet, his business must be attended to. It was a case of emergency. He finally resolved to intrust it with a lawyer acquaintance, who lived a half day's ride distant from where he then was. Thus he did; and, about noon of the following day, returned homeward. He was surprised at his own uneasiness and impatience. He had never so longed to meet Ellen. He fancied his meeting with her—her joy at his return—her tears for her disappointment—his happiness in restoring her heart to happiness, by an increasing tenderness of manner, and by instantly gratifying her wish of a return home.
All day and night he travelled. It was early morning when he arrived at his own door. He was surprised at the trembling emotions and quickened beating of his heart, as he descended the steps of his carriage, and ascended those to his own door. He passed on to the room of his wife. The light gleamed through the small opening over the door, and he thought he heard whispers. Softly he opened the door. O! what a terrible, heart-rending scene was before him!—The watchers left the room; and Mr. Gorton stood alone, in speechless agony, before the being made voiceless by himself.
The sensibility so long slumbering within his worldly, hardened heart, was aroused to the very keenness of torture. And Ellen, gentle spirit that she was,—how would she have grieved to have seen the heart she had loved so overwhelmed with grief, regret, remorse, despair!
"Ellen! my own Ellen!"
But she could not hear!
"I have killed thee, gentlest and best!"
But the kindness of her heart was not open now!
"I forgive thee," could not fall from those lips so pale!
"I love thee," could never come upon his ear again—never—"NEVER!" thrilled his soul, every chord of which was strung to its intensity!
If anything could have added to the grief inconsolable of the man stricken in his sternness and pride, it was the grief of his two motherless boys, as they called on their mother's name in vain, and asked him why she slept so long!
Few knew why Ellen died so suddenly and so young; but, while Mr. Gorton preserved in his heart her memory and her virtues, he remembered, and mourned in bitterness and unavailing anguish, that it was him own thoughtless; but not the less cruel, unkindness, that laid her in her early grave.
Never came the smile again upon his face; and never, though fond mammas manoeuvred and insinuated, and fair daughters flattered and praised, did he wed again; for his heart was buried with his Ellen, whom he too late loved as he should have loved. His love—"It came a sunbeam on a blasted flower."
Washington Irving, in his beautiful "Affection for the Dead," says: "Go to the grave of buried love, and meditate. There settle the account with thy conscience, for every past benefit unrequited, every past endearment unregarded. Console thyself, if thou canst, with this simple, yet futile tribute of regret, and take warning by this, thine unavailing sorrow for the dead, and henceforward be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living!"
MAN AND WOMAN.
AN eloquent, true, and beautiful article from the pen of a woman and a wife (and no woman not a wife, do we believe fully competent to write on this subject), recently met our eyes in the pages of a periodical. Its title was "Conjugial Love." The Latin word conjugial was used by the writer to indicate the true spiritual union of man and wife in contradistinction to the mere natural union as expressed in the word conjugal. From this article let us make an extract—
"Man is an angular mathematical form, exactly true, but not beautiful. Woman seizes this form, and from the crucible of her warm love she moulds the truth into grace and beauty. For man's understanding deals in outermost truths. But the Lord has blessed woman with perceptive faculties above the sphere of man's reason, and while he looks to the outermost relations of things she at a glance perceives the inmost. Hence she becomes, as it were, the soul of his thought; she is the will and he the intellectual principle; she is governed and guided by him, while he in all things is modified by her will, and scarce recognises his own crude thought in her plastic feminine representation of it; hence he thinks oftentimes that he acts from her wisdom, forgetting that she has no wisdom except through him.
"Thus woman dwells in the heart of man, as in some fair and stately palace, and she looks forth into his garden of Eden, his whole spirit world of thought; she knows every lofty tree, every blooming flower and odorous plant and herb for the use of man, and every singing bird that soars heavenward in her beautiful domain, and she culls the fairest of flowers and weaves bright garlands, and adorns the brow of her beloved with his own thoughts, while he even thinks that she is bestowing treasures out of herself upon him. This gives to woman a sportive grace, a gentle lovingness, an apparent wilfulness, a delight in the power which she has through man, while she knows that he is the link that binds her to Heaven, and thus she is humble and grateful and yielding in the height of her power. How beautiful is the life of conjugial partners! The woman flows into the thought of man like influent life; she knows all things that are in him, hence she can adapt herself to his every variation; she calms him when excited, elevates him when he is depressed, regulates him by her heaven-given power, as a good heart regulates the judgment. The Lord loves the man through the woman, and loves the woman through the man, and these two distinct and separate confluent streams, from the fountain of Divine life, rejoice in their blessed and beautiful union, as like ever does when it meets its like. And it is only when the two streams unite that they can reflect the Divine image; they are noisy, turbulent, and turbid; until the meeting of the waters of life, and then in a calm, serene, deep, and beautiful blessedness they flow on so softly and smoothly that the holy heavens and the Divine sun mirror themselves in the clear waters; and if night, chill and drear, draws its darkening curtain around them, soon the silver moon of a trusting faith floods them with a gentle radiance, and bright stars of intelligence gild the night's darkness, and they patiently await the dawn of an eternal day, when their joyous waters will again flow in the sunshine of heaven."
"When the Lord in His Divine Providence brings the two together, in this life, that were created the one for the other, their union is wrought out by slow degrees. The false and evil is to be put off before the Divine life can ultimate itself—an unceasing regeneration is going on—a purifying from self-love is the daily life of two partners. The wisdom which the man has from the Lord, and the love which the woman has from Him, are ever seeking conjunction. But the false and the evil that clings to every earthly being is constantly warring against this Heavenly union; in conjugial partners, hell is opposed to heaven, and it is only by a steady looking to the Lord, that Heavenly love can be preserved. The Lord opens the inmost degree of thought and feeling in the two, and elevates their love to higher planes, and thus increases their joys and felicities; and when it is a true spiritual love, an entire union of heart and mind, then the two have entered heaven, and enjoy its beautiful blessedness even while their material bodies yet dwell upon this coarse outer world.
"How wonderful is the wisdom of the Lord! How blessed is His love, in thus creating two that they may become a one! The sympathy, the gentle affection, the loving tender confidence, that, like magnetic thrills, makes one conscious of the inmost life of the other, gives a charm—a fulness of satisfaction—a serene blessedness to existence, that no isolated being can possibly conceive of, let external circumstances be what they may.
"Conjugial love is independent of external circumstances; it is heaven-derived, and receives nothing from the earth. It gives heavenly joy to all of its surroundings. It is that glorious inner sunshine of life, that blesses the poor man as boundlessly as the rich. And how beautiful it is for two to realize that time and space have nothing to do with their union. In each other they see eternity; they know from whence their emotions flow, and know that the fountain is Infinite. The Lord is the beginning and end; to them, the first and the last. They live in Him, from Him, and to Him. They love only His Divine image in each other; they seek to do good to others, as organs of His Divine life. He is the glory and blessedness of their whole being.
"And if such blissful emotions can be realized in this cold, hard, ungenial, outer life, what must it be when the two pass into the conscious presence of the Divine Father, and behold each other not in angular material forms, and dead material light, but in the Divine light of Heaven, in Heavenly forms,—radiant in intelligence glowing in the rosy love of eternal youth—beautiful in the 'beauty of the Lord?'"
How pure, how wise, how beautiful! Here is the true doctrine, that man and woman are not equal in the sense so often asserted in these modern times; that they are created with radical differences, and that the life of neither is perfect until they unite in marriage union—one man with one wife.
THE FAIRY WIFE.
A MERCHANT married a Fairy. He was so manly, so earnest, so energetic, and so loving, that her heart was constrained toward him, and she gave up her heritage in Fairyland to accept the lot of woman.
They were married; they were happy; and the early months glided away like the vanishing pageantry of a dream.
Before the year was over he had returned to his affairs; they were important and pressing, and occupied more and more of his time. But every evening as he hastened back to her side she felt the weariness of absence more than repaid by the delight of his presence. She sat at his feet, and sang to him, and prattled away the remnant of care that lingered in his mind.
But his cares multiplied. The happiness of many families depended on him. His affairs were vast and complicated, and they kept him longer away from her. All the day, while he was amidst his bales of merchandise, she roamed along the banks of a sequestered stream, weaving bright fancy pageantries, or devising airy gayeties with which to charm his troubled spirit. A bright and sunny being, she comprehended nothing of care. Life was abounding in her. She knew not the disease of reflection; she felt not the perplexities of life. To sing and to laugh—to leap the stream and beckon him to leap after her, as he used in the old lover-days, when she would conceal herself from him in the folds of a water-lily—to tantalize and enchant him with a thousand coquetries—this was her idea of how they should live; and when he gently refused to join her in these childlike gambols, and told her of the serious work that awaited him, she raised her soft blue eyes to him in a baby wonderment, not comprehending what he meant, but acquiescing, with a sigh, because he said it.
She acquiesced, but a soft sadness fell upon her. Life to her was Love, and nothing more. A soft sadness also fell upon him. Life to him was Love, and something more; and he saw with regret that she did not comprehend it. The wall of Care, raised by busy hands, was gradually shutting him out from her. If she visited him during the day, she found herself a hindrance and retired. When he came to her at sunset he was preoccupied. She sat at his feet, loving his anxious face. He raised tenderly the golden ripple of loveliness that fell in ringlets on her neck, and kissed her soft beseeching eyes; but there was a something in his eyes, a remote look, as if his soul were afar, busy with other things which made her little heart almost burst with uncomprehended jealousy.
She would steal up to him at times when he was absorbed in calculations, and throwing her arms around his neck, woo him from his thought. A smile, revealing love in its very depths, would brighten his anxious face, as for a moment he pushed aside the world, and concentrated all his being in one happy feeling.
She could win moments from him, she could not win his life; she could charm, she could not occupy him! The painful truth came slowly over her, as the deepening shadows fall upon a sunny Day, until at last it is Night: Night with her stars of infinite beauty, but without the lustre and warmth of Day.
She drooped; and on her couch of sickness her keen-sighted love perceived, through all his ineffable tenderness, that same remoteness in his eyes, which proved that, even as he sat there grieving and apparently absorbed in her, there still came dim remembrances of Care to vex and occupy his soul.
"It were better I were dead," she thought; "I am not good enough for him."
Poor child! Not good enough, because her simple nature knew not the manifold perplexities, the hindrances of incomplete life! Not good enough, because her whole life was scattered!
And so she breathed herself away, and left her husband to all his gloom of Care, made tenfold darker by the absence of those gleams of tenderness which before had fitfully irradiated life. The night was starless, and he alone.
A BRIEF HISTORY, IN THREE PARTS, WITH A SEQUEL.
A GLANCE—a thought—a blow— It stings him to the core. A question—will it lay him low? Or will time heal it o'er?
He kindles at the name— He sits and thinks apart; Time blows and blows it to a flame, Burning within his heart.
He loves it though it burns, And nurses it with care; He feels the blissful pain by turns With hope, and with despair.
Sonnets and serenades, Sighs, glances, tears, and vows, Gifts, tokens, souvenirs, parades, And courtesies and bows.
A purpose and a prayer; The stars are in the sky— He wonders how e'en hope should dare To let him aim so high!
Still hope allures and flatters, And doubt just makes him bold; And so, with passion all in tatters, The trembling tale is told.
Apologies and blushes, Soft looks, averted eyes, Each heart into the other rushes, Each yields, and wins a prize.
A gathering of fond friends,— Brief, solemn words, and prayer,— A trembling to the fingers' ends, As hand in hand, they swear.
Sweet cake, sweet wine; sweet kisses, And so the deed is done; Now for life's waves and blisses, The wedded two are one.
And down the shining stream, They launch their buoyant skiff, Bless'd, if they may but trust hope's dream, But ah! Truth echoes—"If!"
If health be firm—if friend be true— If self be well-controlled, If tastes be pure—if wants be few— And not too often told—
If reason always rule the heart— If passion own its sway— If love—for aye—to life impart The zest it does to-day—
If Providence, with parent care, Mete out the varying lot— While meek contentment bows to share, The palace, or the cot—
And oh! if Faith, sublime and clear, The spirit upwards guide— Then bless'd indeed, and bless'd for ever, The bridegroom and the bride!
"EVER, evermore!" repeated a young man, bending with a smile over the fair face that rested on his breast.
"Yes! evermore!" softly breathed the smiling lips upon which he gazed, and. evermore shone from the melting, heavenly eyes.
"And you believe all these bright fancies you have been telling me of, darling?" asked the young man.
"Ah! yes—they are truth to me; they dwell in my heart of hearts—they belong to the deepest and sweetest mysteries of my being. I gaze out through the glory upon life, and I see no coldness, no darkness—everything is coloured with bright radiance from the eternal world. It is happiness that gives me this beautiful view. I have known that the world was filled, with love, but I have never so clearly seen it before. And sure I am that if I were to die now, this same splendour of love would still be poured through my soul; for it is myself, and I cannot lose it. If you were next week in Europe, far from me, would not your inner world be illumined with love and hope?"
"It certainly would!
"And can you doubt the durability, the truth and reality of this inner-life? Can this clay instrument be of any moment farther than it serves to develop life, in this, our first school?—we should not confound the earthly dwelling with the free man who makes it his temporary home. Ah! Horace, I feel, I am, sure, you will some day enjoy all these ennobling thoughts with me, and then existence will also be to you sublime."
An expression of radiant hope flitted over the young man's face, and he kissed the soft lips and eyes of his betrothed, while he murmured, "I would suffer the loss of all happiness on earth, I would bear every stroke the Almighty might inflict, if I could believe as you do, of a life beyond this. I am no unbeliever, you know. I read my Bible daily, but beyond this world everything to me is misty and dark. I shudder at the ghastliness of the grave, and would forget that I cannot always clasp your warm heart to my own. You were surely sent to be my good angel, to teach me all that is gentlest and best in my nature, and this holy love must last evermore. I have always smiled at the idea of love, at first sight, but when I first saw your face, Elma, none ever was so welcome; yet if you had not proved all that your face and manner promised, I should not have fallen in love. I half-believe matches are made in Heaven—ours will be Heaven-made, if any are. You think human beings are made for each other, as the saying is, do you not?"
"Yes! returned Elma, smiling, "I hope we are made to be partners in this world, and a better one, but how can I know it? When my happy womanhood first dawned, I had wild, sweet dreams that here on earth I and many others would surely meet the true half that belonged to us—one with whom every thought would find a response. I have met many whose views are like mine, and yet whose natures are so different that we could not see each other's souls; perhaps if they had loved me, I could have seen more clearly—but my rebellious heart went forth to meet you, although I tried so long to turn away—although I trembled to think the religion of our natures was so unlike."
"I once thought, love, that I should never win you—it was your pale lips and the mournful intensity of your look, when we met after a long absence, that gave me new hope; and I have often wondered, Elma, why you gave so unhesitating an assent, when you had for months at a time avoided me at every opportunity."
"It was because my views had changed in a manner—although still believing in the fitness of two out of the whole universe for each other, I began to think that on earth these very two might each have a mission to others, and others to them, which would more fully call out their characters, and perhaps develop the dark traits necessary to be conquered—so that perfect harmony might be evolved from chaos. It once seemed to me, with the views I held, that it would be a sin for me to unite my destiny with one who did not sympathize with me on all points. But the sad fate of Augusta Atwood made me reflect deeply. She was my bosom friend, and never did mortal go to the altar with brighter hopes—never did human being love more unreservedly. She whispered to me as I arranged her hair on the morning of her bridal:—'This seems to me like the beginning of my heavenly life—there is not a height or depth of my soul that Charles's nature does not respond to—I know that we two are truly one." And so it seemed for two happy years—his character took every one by surprise, perhaps himself, and now Augusta is a miserably neglected wife, toiling on like an angel to reap good from her desolated earth-life. Yet we see that her mighty love was not a true interpreter. No doubt her lover was sincere at the time in believing that they not only felt, but thought alike. I have known many instances, very many, where two, perhaps equally good and true, have thought themselves fitted for each other and none else; yet on the death of one, they have found a companion who was still more especially made for them. Thus we see that this is a matter where there appears to be little certainty and many mistakes. Doubtless, there are some few blessed ones who truly find their better—half; but in this sinful, imperfect state of life, we cannot believe that we are in an order sufficiently harmonious to have this a sure thing. Perhaps one-third of the women in the world never even loved half as well as they felt themselves capable of loving, simply because no object presented himself who could call forth all the music of a high and noble nature.
"So many a soul o'er life's drear desert faring, Love's pure congenial spring unfound, unquaffed, Suffers, recoils, then thirsty and despairing Of what it would, descends and sips the nearest draught."
But, Elma, my child, it is not pleasant to me that you should have a single doubt that we are not dearer to each other than any other mortals could ever be in this world, or the beautiful one you love to dream of."
"I am telling you, Horace, the thoughts that have been in my mind—I only feel now that you are good and gifted, and I love you more than I ever dreamed of loving."
"And you, sweet, are the breath of my life. It is heavenly to know that God has given you, and you alone, to be the angel ministrant of my oft tempestuous life: you have risen like a star over my cloudy horizon—may the light of the gentle star shine on my path, until it leads me unto the perfect day!"
"Only the light of the Sun of Righteousness can do that," returned Elma; then, with a tear glistening on her lash, she added, "I hope God will help me to be good and pure, that I may be a medium of good, and not evil to you."
Most blessedly passed the days to that hopeful maiden; it was a treasure full of all promise to have, not only the happiness of her lover, but as she trusted, his best good committed to her charge, next to God. When she knelt in the morning hour, her prayer was ever a thanksgiving—she lifted up the gates of her soul that the King of Glory might come in, and His radiant presence permeated her whole being—she left to Him the control of her life, all the strange mysteries of heavenly policy, which she felt and knew would ultimate in perfecting her too worldly nature; and she went forth, angel-attended, to her duties, fusing into them this effluent life that dwelt so richly within her. Every word of kindness and love that dropped from her soft, coral lips, bore with it a portion of the smiling life that overflowed her spirit. When she arose, her constant thought was, "Another day is coming, in which the work of progress may go on: I may perhaps this day conquer some evil, or do some humble good, that will fit me to be a still better angel to Horace, and which shall beautify my mansion in the Heavens."
At length the bridal day came, and fled also like other days, save that a sweeter brightness enwrapped the soul of Elma; so six months or more flitted away in delicious dream-life, for outward things made comparatively slight impression; Elma lived and loved more than she thought. But one morning reflection and pain came together; the latter led in the former, a long-forgotten friend, and the young wife asked herself how far she had travelled onward and upward since the bridal days, since her path had been all sunshine;—she bowed her head and wept bitterly. "Not for me, at least," she sighed, "is constant happiness a friend,—not yet am I fitted to enjoy the highest harmony of life. 'Therefore, burn, thou holy pain, thou purifying fire!' It is meet I should be wounded where my deepest joys are lodged. I see that it is the lash of pain which must drive me through the golden gates. Yes! I will arise, and thank my Father that He has not been as unmindful of my eternal well-being as I would be myself, if left to wander only among flowers of love and gladness."
And what was this grief that awoke the bride from her blissful dream? It would seem the merest nothing to the strong man of the world, to the gay woman who glides, superficially through existence. But many a young bride will understand how it might be more sorrowful than the loss of houses and lands. It was the husband's first frown, his first petulant word; it was the key that opened Elma's understanding to the true estate of the past. She could no longer blind her eyes, as she had done, to a certain worldliness in her husband, and which had also reached her through him. This morning, that revealed so much, Horace had impatiently exclaimed as Elma held forth her Bible to him, as usual,—
"I have not time for that now, child!" and hastily kissing her, he put on his hat, and went forth to his business.
A pale anguish settled on Elma's face as she sunk upon a chair.
"Is this the beginning of sorrows?" she murmured; "he never spoke to me so before, perhaps he will often do so again. If it had been about anything else, I think I could have borne it better! Oh God! is the angel leaving our Paradise?"
And she thought over and over again of this worldliness in her husband, and his want of the high standard in religion that was so dear to her; she felt that she was, in a measure, deceived in him,—surely once he seemed to dwell in an atmosphere that was more spiritual. Yes! Elma was deceived in him, but Horace had not deceived her. In the happy glow of his successful love, he had caught the warmth of Elma's thoughts; they had charmed his imagination, in a measure commended themselves to his understanding, and made a temporary impression upon him heart, so that he went out among men with a more benevolent spirit than he had ever done before. But truth, to be abiding, must be sought after with an eager thirst; and it came to Horace crowned with flowers; he condescended to take the charmer in, and obeyed her for awhile, then she was forgotten, he thought not why, and he imperceptibly returned to the real self, which Elma had never before had an opportunity to become acquainted with.
Three years went by. Horace was a devoted husband, no being on earth was to him so perfect as his wife—no human being had ever exerted over him the quiet, holy influence that belonged to Elma. She had gradually accomplished infinitely more than she suspected, yet many a time, and oft, had he caused her grieved tears to fall like rain. Many a time had despairing prayers risen from her soul for him, while she breathed out to her God a cry for strength. She felt that she saw through a glass darkly; but she sought with most earnest heart for every duty, knowing that thus her pathway would lead continually to a more sure and steady light.
Elma often wondered that so much joy was given to her earthly life; but she understood the true philosophy, for her every grief was regarded as a special messenger from the spirit-land, and amid her tears she looked up, and resolutely answered to the call, "Excelsior!" She was ever receiving with gratitude the blessings that clustered about her lot, and, as it were, transmuting all common things into pleasures, by seeking out a brightness in them.
But a heavier trial was in store for the wife than she had anticipated. Horace had been very unfortunate in business; he bore it with more gentleness than Elma had expected, but it wore upon his spirits; day after day he was busied in settling up, and came home with a look of sadness and anxiety. One evening he came in with a brighter look.
"What is the news?" asked his wife, as she read his face.
"I have an offer of a clerkship, at a very good salary, eighteen hundred dollars a year!"
"We can get along admirably with that!" said Elma, with a bright smile. "You know we are retrenching our expenses so much, that we can live on half that, and the rest can go towards your debts. In a few years you will be able to pay all you owe, will you not?"
"Perhaps so, by exerting every faculty, and living on less than you propose!"
"Oh! well, we can!" was the eager response. "I'll manage to get along on almost nothing; as small a sum as you choose to name. Every trifling deprivation will be an actual delight, that helps to discharge those debts. It will, indeed!" she added, as Horace smiled at her enthusiasm.
"I believe you, little one, every word you say!" and, with an air of cheerful affection, such as he had not shown for weeks, the husband drew his wife's head upon his breast, and, forgetful of cold business cares and the world, they were gay, tender, and happy.
It was with a different look that Horace entered his home the next evening; a shadow fell on Elma's heart when she saw him, and the evening meal passed in silence.
"What are you thinking of, Horace?" she timidly asked, some time after, approaching him as he stood by the window, gazing out gloomily into the star-lighted street.
"I have received a better offer, and have determined to accept it." It must be known that Horace came quickly to a decision, and then persevered in it; none knew the vanity of striving to change him, when fairly resolved, better than Elma; but in small matters he was yielding as Elma herself. She stood in a fearful silence, looking into his face, which he had turned towards her.
"I am going to California!" he said, almost sternly, for he feared Elma's tenderness might unman him.
"Not without me?" she asked, with pleading eyes.
"Yes! Elma, I cannot take you, for I shall be constantly travelling, and subject to the greatest hardships,—you could not bear it! I shall be back in a year and a half."
"I could bear anything better than to be left behind—you do not know as well as I what would be the greatest hardship for me. Ah! Horace, do not put me to this dreadful trial. Let me go with you, and you will find that I will not utter a complaint. You can leave me at some place, while you travel over the roughest country—you may be sick, and need me. I fear men grow hard and selfish there, and what you gain in purse, you may lose in what is dearest to me. 'It is not good for man to be alone.'"
"Hush, darling; every word is vain!" answered Horace, clasping her to his breast, and kissing her with passionate vehemence. For the first time in his life he wept without any restraint over her. "Do you think anything but duty would tear me from you? It is my duty to be just to all men, and to pay what I owe as soon as I can."
"But take me!" sobbed Elma.
"Dear child! you must be reasonable. I know that you fear the influence about me will not be as angelically pure as your own, and I love you for that fear. I shall go where no man will care for my soul as you do; but I shall not forget you, Elma. Now, cheer up, and show me the ready resolution you have always had at hand."
"I never had such a cruel blow as this before!" returned Elma, in an entire abandonment of grief. "Oh! take me with you, Horace, and nothing in the world will be hard for me."
The wife's pleadings were vain, and in a week she parted from her husband. After he had gone, she won back a spirit of resignation; indeed, as soon as she found her doom was sealed, she gathered up her strength, and strove to cheer Horace, whose spirits sunk miserably when he had no longer to support Elma. She laid out a plan for her life during her widowhood, as she called it, and this plan was after the example of One who went about doing good. The weary time passed slowly, but each day added a little gem to Elma's heavenly life, and when, at length, she received her husband's last letter before his return, her thanks gushed forth in gladness, as they had so often before done, in holy confidence. Part of his letter ran thus:—
And now, dear love, having told you of the outward success which has met my efforts, let me tell you a little of the heart that belongs to you—which you have won from darkness to light. It is filled with images of hope and love, and a light from your spirit shines through all—have been ever with me, ever leading me to that 'true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' I often gave you pain, my darling, when we were together; it was unintentional, and sprang from the evil of my nature; and a thousand times, when you did not suspect it, your gentle look and touch brought to my spirit better thoughts, and the thoughts brought better words and deeds. You have been the angel of my life still more during our separation; for my soul has yearned for your dear presence constantly, and every day I have said to myself, 'Would this please Elma?' and when I have been enabled to do a kindness, my heart glowed at the thought of Elma's approval. Your blessed spirit never seems so near to me as when I lift up my soul in prayer. I sometimes fancy your prayers, beloved, have unlocked the Kingdom of Heaven for me. Good bye, dearest life, we shall soon meet.
And when they met, the joy of their first wedding days seemed doubled. Elma rejoiced at the discipline she had been through, for it had better fitted her for the joyful existence that was before her. It had now become more of a habit for her soul to dwell in a heavenly atmosphere—she had learned to rely steadfastly upon her God for the good gifts of her life, and they were showered upon her abundantly; doubly beautiful, they were shared by a heart in unison.
LIVING LIKE A LADY.
MR. HAMILTON BURGESS was a man of limited means, but having married a beautiful and amiable woman, he resolved to spare no expense in surrounding her with comforts, and in supporting her, as he said, "like a lady."
"My dear Ammy," said Mrs. Burgess, to her indulgent husband, about a year after their marriage—"My dear Ammy"—this was the name she called him by at home—" you are too kind to me, altogether. You are unwilling that I should work, or do anything towards our support, when I actually think that a little exertion on my part would not only serve to lighten your expenses, but be quite as good for my health and spirits as the occupations to which my time is now devoted."
"Oh, you industrious little bee!" exclaimed Mr. Burgess, "you have great notions of making yourself useful, I declare! But, Lizzie, I shall never consent to your propositions. I did not marry you to make you my slave. When you gave me this dear hand, I resolved that it should never be soiled and made rough by labour—and it never shall, as long as I am able to attend to my business."
Mrs. Burgess would not have done anything to displease her husband for the world, and she accordingly allowed him to have his way without offering farther remonstrance.
But Hamilton's business was dull, and it required the greatest exertion on his part, and the severest application, to raise sufficient money to meet the daily expenses of his family.
"My affairs will be in a better state next year," he said to himself, "and I must manage to struggle through this dull season some way or another. I will venture to run in debt a little, I think; for any way is preferable to reducing our household expenditures, which are by no means extravagant. At all events, Lizzie must not know what my circumstances are, for she would insist upon a change in our style of living, and revive the subject of doing something towards our support."
Mr. Burgess then ventured to run in debt a little; he did not attempt to reduce the expenses of his housekeeping; he never gave his wife a hint respecting the true state of his business matters, but insisted upon her accepting, as usual, a liberal allowance of funds to meet her private expenses.
Lizzie seemed quite happy in her ignorance of her husband's circumstances, never spoke again of assisting to support the establishment, but seemed to devote herself to the pursuit of quiet pleasures, and to procuring Hamilton's happiness. But Mr. Burgess's circumstances, instead of improving, grew continually worse. His venture of "running in debt a little," resulted in running in debt a great deal. Thus the second year of his married life passed, and the dark shadows of disappointed hope and the traces of corroding care began to change the aspect of his brow.
One day a friend said to Hamilton—
"I am surprised at your conduct! Here you are, making a slave of yourself, while your wife is playing the lady. She is not to blame; it is you. She would gladly do something for her own support, if you would permit her; and it would be better for her and for you. Remember the true saying—
'Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do!'"
"What do you mean?" demanded Hamilton, reddening.
"I mean that, generally speaking, young wives of an ardent temperament, when left to themselves, with nothing but their pleasures to occupy their minds, are apt to forget their husbands, and find enjoyment in such society as he might not altogether approve."
"Sir, you do not know my wife," exclaimed Hamilton. "She, thank Heaven, is not one of those."
"I hope not," was the quiet reply.
Although Hamilton Burgess had not a jealous nature, and would never have entertained unjust suspicions of his wife, these words of his friend set him to thinking. He remembered that Lizzie was always happy, however he might be oppressed with cares; and now he wondered how it was that she could be so unmindful of everything except pleasure, while he was so constantly harassed. The consistent Mr. Hamilton Burgess undoubtedly forgot that he had taken the utmost pains to conceal his circumstances from his wife.
It was in this state of mind that Mr. Burgess one day left his business, and went home unexpectedly. It was at an hour when Lizzie least thought of seeing him, and on this occasion she appeared considerably embarrassed; nor did Mr. Burgess fail to observe that she was very tardy in making her appearance in the sitting-room.
On another occasion, Mr. Burgess returned home under similar circumstances, and going directly to his wife's room, found, to his astonishment, that he could not gain admittance. After some delay, however, during which Hamilton heard footsteps hurrying to and fro within, and whispering, Mrs. Burgess opened the door, and, blushing very red, attempted to apologize for not admitting him before.
"Who was with you?" demanded Hamilton.
"With me?" cried Lizzie, much confused.
"Yes, madam. I heard whispering, and I am sure somebody just passed through that side door."
"Oh, that was nobody but Margaret!" exclaimed Mrs. Burgess, hastily.
Hamilton could ill conceal his vexation; but he did not intimate to his wife that he suspected her of equivocation, nor did she see fit to attempt a full exposition of the matter.
Nothing was said of this incident afterwards; but for many weeks it occupied Hamilton's mind. All this time he was harassed with cares of business, and his brow became more darkly shrouded in gloom as his perplexities thickened. At last the crisis came! Mr. Burgess saw the utter impossibility of longer continuing his almost profitless trade, under heavy expenses, which not only absorbed his small capital, but actually plunged him into debt. But one honest course was left for him to pursue; and he resolved to close up his affairs, and sell off what stock he had to pay his debts.
It was at this time that Mr. Burgess saw in its true light the error of which he had been guilty, in opposing his wife's desire to economize, and devote a portion of her time to useful occupation.
"Had I allowed her to lighten our expenses in this way," thought he, "I might not have been driven to such extremities. And what has been the result of my folly? Why, I have kept her ignorant of our poverty until the very last, and now the sudden intelligence that we are beggars, will well nigh kill her!"
Satisfied of the danger, if not the impossibility, of keeping the secret longer from his wife, Mr. Burgess went home one day, resolved to break the intelligence to her without hesitation. Entering the house with his latch-key, he went directly to Lizzie's room, which he entered unceremoniously. To his surprise, he found on the table a gentleman's cap, of that peculiar fashion which he had seen worn by postmen and dandies about town. Anxious for an explanation, he looked around for his wife; but Lizzie was not in the room. Then hearing voices in another part of the house, he left the room by a different door from that by which he had entered, and hastened to the parlour, where he expected to find Mrs. Burgess in company with the owner of that cap. To his surprise, he found the parlour vacant, and meeting Margaret in the hall a moment after, he impatiently demanded his wife.
"She is in the room, sir," said the domestic.
Without saying a word, Hamilton again hastened to Lizzie's room, where he found her reading a late magazine with affected indifference!
"Madam," cried he, angrily, "what does this mean? Here I have been chasing you all over the house, without being able to catch you. What company have you just dismissed?"
"What company?" asked Lizzie.
"Yes, madam, what company?"
"Do not speak so angrily, dear Ammy. Why are you so impatient?"
"Because I wish to know what gentleman has been favouring you with such a confidential visit!"
Hamilton remembered other occasions when, on his coming home unexpectedly, his wife had shown signs of embarrassment; and, added to this, her present equivocation rendered him violently jealous. She appeared to shrink from him in fear, and became alternately red and pale, as she answered—
"There has been no gentleman here to see me!"
"No one, dear Ammy!"
Mr. Burgess was on the point of demanding to know who was the owner of the cap which he had seen on his wife's table, and which had now mysteriously disappeared; but emotion checked him, and he paced the floor in silence.
"This is too much!" he muttered, at length, in the bitterness of his heart. "I could endure poverty, without uttering a complaint for myself; I could endure anything but this!"
"Why, Ammy, what is the matter?" cried Mrs. Burgess, in alarm.
"Nothing—only we are beggars!" answered Hamilton, abruptly.
"Have you been unfortunate?" calmly asked his wife, affectionately taking him by the arm.
"Yes—the most unfortunate of men! I am ruined—we are beggars—but"—
"Dear Ammy, you must not let this cast you down. Business failures frequently happen, but they ought never to destroy domestic happiness. Come, how bad off are we? Are we really beggars?"
"My creditors will take everything," answered Hamilton, gloomily.
"They will not take us from each other," said Lizzie.
Mr. Burgess looked at his young wife with a bitter smile.
"Are you such a deceiver?" he muttered through his teeth. "Can you talk thus when you have just dismissed a lover?"
"Sir!" cried Mrs. Burgess, a glow of indignation lighting her fair face. "What do you mean?"
"Don't deny what I say!" replied Hamilton. "You were having an interview with a gentleman when I came in."
Lizzie trembled with indignation.
"I saw his cap on the table!"
Lizzie laughed outright. "Come here," she said, leading her husband away.
Hamilton followed her, and she went to a bureau, unlocked a deep drawer, and opening it, called her husband's attention to its contents.
It was half full of caps!
Hamilton looked at Lizzie in perplexity. Lizzie looked at Hamilton, and smiled.
"I suppose that you will now declare that there are twenty gentlemen in the house," said Mrs. Burgess.
"Lizzie!"' cried her husband, clasping her hands, "I am already ashamed of my suspicions. I ask your forgiveness. But explain this matter to me. I am dying in perplexity."
"Well", replied Lizzie, archly, "I made those caps."
"Certainly; that is, I and Margaret. I kept my work a secret from you, because you were opposed to my exerting myself, and although you have come near surprising me more than once, I have carried on my treasonable designs pretty successfully until to-day."
"But, dear Lizzie, how could you?"
"I can answer that question. I saw pretty clearly into your business affairs, and I knew that we could not live in this style long. So I thought I would disobey you. My cousin George, the hat manufacturer, seconded my designs, and privately sent me caps to make, nearly a year ago."
Hamilton opened his eyes in astonishment.
"Surprising, isn't it? But this isn't all. You insisted on my keeping Margaret, when I might just as well have done my housework myself; I thought I would make her useful, and made her help me work on the caps. Besides, you were not satisfied if I neglected to use all the spending money you allowed me, and I pretended to use that, just to please you. Now, before you scold me for my disobedience, witness the results of my industry and economy."
Lizzie opened her desk, and displayed to Hamilton's bewildered sight, a pile of gold which filled him with greater astonishment than anything else.
"There," continued Lizzie, without allowing him to speak—"there are three hundred dollars. Of course, this little sum wouldn't make anybody rich, but I hope it will convince you that a wife's economy and industry are not to be despised."
"Lizzie! dear Lizzie!"
"Oh, this is nothing—only a sample of what I can do. Come, now, acknowledge your error, and say that I may have my own way in future."
Hamilton replied by clasping his wife in his arms.
"There, say nothing more about it," she continued. "Don't think of your misfortunes, but remember that we can be happy even if we both have to work hard. Poverty cannot crush us; and I hope I have already convinced you that work will not make me lose attraction in your sight."
The young husband's heart overflowed with gratitude and joy.
"How have I misunderstood you, dear Lizzie!" he exclaimed. "You are worth more to me than southern riches; and now that I know poverty cannot crush you my mind is at ease. Lizzie, I am so happy!"
"And I may have my way?"
"Remember this!" cried Mrs. Burgess, archly.
With a lighter heart than he had felt for many months before, Hamilton went about the settlement of his business affairs, while Lizzie devoted herself to perfecting a new system of housekeeping.
When Mr. Burgess came home at night, he was surprised at the wonderful change which had taken place during his absence.
"Don't scold," said his wife, regarding him with a smile; "you said I might have my way."
"True—but what have you done?"
"I have been making arrangements to let half the house to Mr. Smith's family, who will move in next week. They are pleasant people, and as we had twice as much room as we actually needed, I thought it best to take them. Then again, we shan't need so much furniture, and if you like, you can sell Mr. Smith some of what we have, at a fair price."
Mr. Burgess neither frowned nor looked displeased, nor did he ever afterwards oppose his wife's designs. He soon found his expenses so reduced, that, with the fruits of his wife's industry added to his own, they were able to live quite comfortably and happily; and, although he soon became engaged in more profitable business, he never again urged her to indulge in the folly of "living like a lady."
LADY LUCY'S SECRET.
MR. FERRARS, who sat reading the morning paper, suddenly started with an exclamation of grief and astonishment that completely roused his absent-minded wife.
"My dear Walter, what has happened?" she asked, with real anxiety.
"A man a bankrupt, whom I thought as safe as the Bank of England! Though it is true, people talked about him months ago—spoke suspiciously of his personal extravagance, and, above all, said that his wife was ruining him."