( Originally Published 1879 )
"Oh happy state! When souls each other draw,
Love is such a giant power that it seems to gather strength 'from obstructions, and at every difficulty rises to higher might. It is all dominant—all conquering; a grand leveler which can bring down to its own universal line of eqalization the proudest heights, and. remove the most stubborn impediments: "Like death, it levels all ranks, and lays the shepherd's crook beside the scepter." There is no hope of resisting it, for it outwatches the most vigilant—submerges everything, acquiring strength as it proceeds; ever growing, nay,. growing out of itself. Love is the light, the majesty of life: that principle to which, after all our struggling, and writhing, and twisting, all things must be resolved. Take it away, and what becomes of the world! It is a barren wilderness! A world of monuments, each standing upright and crumbling; an army of gray stones, without a chaplet, without a leaf ,to take off, with its glimpse of green, their flat insipidity and offensive uniformity upon a shrubless plain. Things base and foul, creeping and obscure, withered, bloodless, and brainless, could alone spring from such a marble hearted soil.
Love's darts are silver; when they turn to fire in the noble heart, they impart a portion of that heavenly flame which is their element. Love is of such a refining, elevating character, that it expels all that is mean and base;_ bids us think great thoughts, do great deeds, and changes our common clay into fine gold. It illuminates our path, dark and mysterious as it may be, with torchlights lit from the one great light. Oh! poor, weak, and inexpressive are words when sought to strew, as with stars, the path and track of the expression of love's greatness and power ! Dull, pitiful, and cold; a cheating, horny gleam, as stones strung by the side of precious gems, and the far-flashing of the sparkling ruby with his heart of fire ! The blue eyes of turquoises, or the liquid light of the sapphire, should alone be tasked to spell along, and character our thoughts of love.
The loves that make memory happy and home beautiful, are those which form the sunlight of our earliest consciousness, beaming gratefully along the path of maturity, and their radiance lingering till the shadow of death darkens them all together.
But there is another love —that which blends young hearts in blissful unity, and, for the time, so ignores past ties and affections, as to make willing separation of the son from his father's house, and the daughter from all the sweet endearments of her childhood's home, to go out together, and rear for themselves an altar, around which shall cluster all the cares and delights, the anxieties and sympathies, of the family relationship; this love, if pure, unselfish, and discreet, constitutes the chief usefulness and happiness of human life. Without it, there would be no organized house-holds, and, consequently, none of that earnest endeavor for competence and respectability, which is the main-spring to human effort; none of those sweet, softening, restraining and elevating influences of domestic life, which can alone fill the earth with the glory of the Lord and make glad the city of Zion. This love is indeed heaven upon earth; but above would not be heaven without it; where there is not love, there is fear; but, " love casteth out fear." And yet we naturally do offend what we most love.
Love is the sun of life; most beautiful in morning and evening, but warmest and steadiest at noon. It is the sun of the soul. Life without love is worse than death; a world without a sun. The love which does not lead to labor will soon die out, and the thankfulness which does not embody itself in sacrifices is already changing to gratitude. Love is not ripened in one day, nor in many, nor even in a human lifetime. It is the oneness of soul with soul in appreciation and .perfect trust. To be blessed it must rest in that faith in the Divine which underlies every other emotion. To be true, it must be eternal as God himself. Zeno being told that it was humiliating to a philosopher to be in love, remarked: "If that be true, the fair sex are much to be pitied, for they would receive the attention only of fools." Some love a girl for beauty, some for virtue, and others for understanding. Goethe says: "We love a girl for very different things than under-standing. We love her for her beauty, her youth, her mirth, her confidingness, her character, with its faults, caprices, and God knows what other inexpressible charms; but we do not love her understanding. Her mind we esteem (if it is brilliant), and it may greatly elevate her in our opinion; nay, more, it may enchain us when we already love. But her understanding is not that which awakens and inflames our passions."
Love is blind, and lovers cannot see
Remember that love is dependent upon forms; courtesy of etiquette guards and protects courtesy ,of heart. How many hearts have been lost irrecoverably, and how many averted eyes and cold looks have been gained from what seemed, perhaps, but a trifling negligence of forms. Men and women should not be judged by the same rules. There are many radical differences in their affectional natures. Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeks for fame, for fortune, for space in the world's thoughts, and dominion over his fellow-men. But a woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her ambition seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked her case is hopeless, for it is bankruptcy of the heart.
Man's love is of man's life a thing, a part;
Woman loves more than man because she sacrifices more. For every woman it is with the food of the heart as with that of the body; it is possible to exist on a very small quantity, but that small quantity is an absolute necessity. Woman loves or abhors ; man admires or despises. Woman without love is a fruit without flavor. In love, the virtuous woman says no; the passionate says yes; the capricious says yes and no,' the coquette neither yes nor no. A coquette is a rose from whom every lover plucks a leaf; the thorn remains for the future husband. She may be compared to tinder which catches sparks, but does not always succeed in lighting a match. Love, while it frequently corrupts pure hearts, often purifies corrupt hearts. How well he knew the human heart who said, "we wish to constitute all the happiness, or if that cannot be, the misery of the one we love."
Woman's love is stronger than death; it rises superior to adversity, and towers in sublime beauty above the niggardly selfishness of the world. Misfortune cannot suppress it; enmity cannot alienate it; temptation cannot enslave it. It is the guardian angel of the nursery and the sick bed; it gives an affectionate concord to the partnership of life and interest, circumstances cannot modify it; it ever remains' the same to sweeten existence, to purify the cup of life on the rugged pathway to the grave, and melt to moral pliability the brittle nature of man. It is the ministering spirit of home, hovering in soothing caresses over the cradle, and the death-bed of the household, and filling up the urn of all its sacred memories.
The affection that links together man and wife is a far holier and more enduring passion than the enthusiasm of young love. It may want its gorgeousness—it may want its imaginative character, but it is far richer, and holier, and more trusting in its attributes. Talk not to us of the absence of love in wedlock. No ! it burns with a steady and brilliant flame, shedding a benign influence upon existence, a million times more precious and delightful than the cold dreams of ~ philosophy. Domestic love ! Who can measure its height or its depth? Who can estimate its preserving and purifying power? It sends an ever swelling stream of life through a household, it binds hearts into one "bundle of life;" it shields them from temptation, it takes the sting from disappointments and sorrow, it breathes music into the voice, into the footsteps, it gives worth and beauty to the commonest office, it surrounds home with an atmosphere of moral health, it gives power to effort and wings to progress, it is omnipotent. Love, amid the other graces in this world, is like a cathedral tower, which begins on the earth, and, at first, is surrounded by the other parts of the structure; but, at length, rising above buttressed wall, and arch, and parapet, and pinnacle, it shoots spire-like many a foot right into the air, so high that the huge cross on its summit glows like a spark in the morning light and shines like a star in the evening sky, when the rest of the pile is enveloped in darkness.
He who loves a lady's complexion, form and features, loves not her true self, but her soul's old clothes. The love that has nothing but beauty to sustain it, soon withers and dies. The love that is fed with presents always requires feeding. Love, and love only, is the loan for love. Love is of the nature of a burning glass, which, kept still in one place, fireth; changed often; it doth nothing. The purest joy we can experience in one we love, is to see that person a source of happiness to others. When you are with the person loved, you have no sense of being bored. This humble and trivial circumstance is the great test—the only sure and abiding test of love. With the persons you do not love you are never supremely at your ease. You have some of the sensation of walking upon stilts. In conversation with them, however much you admire them and are interested in them, the horrid idea will cross your mind of "What shall I say next?" One has well said, "In true love the burden of conversation is borne by both the lovers, and the one of them who, with knightly intent, would bear it alone, would only thus cheat the other of a part of his best fortune." When two souls come together, each seeking to magnify the other, each in a subordinate sense worshiping the other, each, helps the other; the two flying together so that each wing-beat of the one helps each wing-beat of the other—when two souls come together thus, they are lovers. They who unitedly move themselves away from grossness and from earth, toward the throne crystaline and the pavement golden, are, indeed, true lovers.