« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
THE BROKEN HEART.
It is a common practice with those who have outlived the susceptibility of early feeling, or have been brought up in the gay heartlessness of dissipated life, to laugh at all love stories, and to treat the tales of romantic passion as mere fictions of novelists and poets. My observations on human nature have induced me to think otherwise. They have convinced me, that however the surface of the character may be chilled and frozen by the cares of the world, or cultivated into mere smiles by the arts of society, still there are dormant fires lurking in the depths of the coldest bosom, which, when once enkindled, become impetuous, and are sometimes desolating in their effects. Indeed, I am a true believer in the blind deity, and go to the full extent of his doctrines. Shall I confess it !-I believe in broken hearts, and the possibility of dying of disappointed love. I do not, however, consider it a malady often fatal to my own sex; but I firmly believe that it withers down many a lovely woman into an early grave,
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 thought, 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 empires; it is there her avarice 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 a bankruptcy of the heart.
To a man the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs: it wounds some feelings of tenderness-it blasts some prospects of felicity ; but he is an active being -he may dissipate his thoughts in the whirl of varied occupation, or may plunge into the tide of pleasure ; or, if the scene of disappointment be too full of painful associations, he can shift his abode at will, and taking as it were the wings of the morning, can “fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be at rest."
But woman's is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and a meditative life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation? Her lot is to be wooed and won; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that has been captured, and sacked, and abandoned and left desolate,
How many bright eyes grow dim-how many soft cheeks grow pale—how many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is the nature of woman to hide from the world the pangs of wounded affection, The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise, she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her the desire of the heart has failed. The great charm of existence is at an end. She neglects all the cheerful excercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulses, and send the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken-the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams“dry sorrow drinks her blood,” until her enfeebled frame sinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little while, and you will find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, and wondering that one who but lately glowed with all the radiance of health and beauty, should so speedily be brought down to "darkness and the worm. You will be told of some wintry chill, some casual indisposition, that laid her low ;-but no one knows of the mental malady that previously sapped her strength, and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.
She is like some tender tree, the pride and beauty of the grove; graceful in its form, bright in its foliage, but with the worm preying at its heart. We find it suddenly withering, when it should be most fresh and luxuriant. We see it drooping its branches to the earth, and shedding leaf by leaf; until, wasted and perished away, it falls even in the stillness of the forest; and, as we muse over the beautiful ruin, we strive in vain to recollect the blast or thunderbolt that could have smitten it with decay.
I have seen many instances of women running to waste and self-neglect, and disappearing gradually from the earth, almost as if they had been exhaled to heaven; and have repeatedly fancied that I could trace their death through the various declensions of consumption, cold, debility, languor, melancholy, until I reached the first sympton of disappointed love. But an instance of the kind was lately told to me; the circumstances are well known in the country where they happened, and I shall but give them in the manner as they were related.
Every one must recollect the tragical story of young E- the Irish patriot; it was too touching to be soon forgotten. During the troubles in Ireland he was tried, condemned, and executed on a charge of treason. His fate made a deep impression on public sympathy. He was so young-so intelligent-so generous-so brave—so every thing that we are apt to like in a young man. His conduct under trial, too, was so lofty and intrepid. The noble indignation with which he repelled the charge of treason against his country—the eloquent vindication of his name and his pathetic appeal to posterity, in the hopeless hour of condemnation-all these entered deeply into every generous bosom, and even his enemies lamented the stern policy that dictated his execution.*
*This ill-starred youth was the son of Dr. Emmet, a gentleman of fortune and family, whose mind was deeply imbued with republican principles, which he was but too successful in impressing upon his children. His eldest son, Thomas Addis Emmit, being a suspected character, in 1793 he accepted the terms offered by Government, and retired to France, from thence he proceeded to New York, where he held the first place at the bar of that city, highly respected as a lawyer and esteemed as a man. Robert, the person alluded to by our author, either possessing more enthusiasm or less prudence than his brother, became involved in a series of insurrections, which at last attracted the attention of Government, and the unfortunate man was arrested while he lingered in his flight, in expectation of a last meeting with the lady to whom he was engaged. This amiable female, whose bard fate is described with so much pathos by our author, was the daughter of the celebrated Jobn Philpot Curraa. The following address was delivered by Enimet on his trial.
I am asked if I have any thing to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon me. Was I to suffer only, death, after being adjudged guilty, I should bow in silence; but a man in my situation has not only to combat with the difficulties of fortune, but also the difficulties of prejudice: the sentence of the law which delivers over his body to the executioner consigns his character to ob loquy. The man dies, but his memory lives; and that mine may not forfeit all claim to the respect of my countrymen, I use this occa
But there was one heart, whose anguish it would be impossible to describe. In happier days and fairer fortunes, he had won the affections of a beautiful and interesting girl, the daughter of a late celebrated Irish barrister. She loved him with the disinterested fervour of a woman's first and early love. When every worldly maxim arrayed itself against him; when blasted in fortune, and disgrace and danger darkened around his name, she loved him the more ardently for his very sufferings. If,
sion to vindicate myself from some of the charges advanced against
.I am charged with being an emissary of France'tis false! I am no emissary-] did not wish to deliver up my country to a foreign power, and least of all, to France. No! never did I entertain the idea of establishing French power in Ireland-God forbid. On the contrary, it is evident from the introductory paragraph of the address of the Provisional Government, that every hazard attending an independent effort was deemed preferable to the more fatal risk of introducing a French army into the country. Small would be our claims to patriotism and to sense, and palpable our affectation of the love of liberty, if we were to encourage the profanation of our shores by a people who are slaves them selves, and the unprincipled and abandoned instruments of imposing slavery on others.
"If such an inference be drawn from any part of the proclamation of the Provisional Government, it calumniates their views, and is not warranted by the fact. How could they speak of freedoin to their countrymen? How assume such an exalted motive, and ineditate the introduction of a power which has been the enemy of freedom in every part of the globe ? Reviewing the conduct of France to other countries, could we expect better towards us? No! Let not, then, any man attaint my memory by believing that I could have hoped for freedom through the aid of France, and betrayed the sacred cause of liberty by committing it to the power of her most determined foe: had I done so, I had not deserved to live; and dying with such a weight upon my character, I had merited the honest execrations of that country which gave me birth, and to which I would have given freedom.
• Had I been in Switzerland, I would have fought against the French-in the dignity of freedom, I would have expired on the threshold of that country, and they should have entered it only by passing over my lifeless corpse. Is it then to be supposed that I would be slow to make the same sacrifice to my native land? Am 1, who lived but to be of service to my country, and who would subject myself to the bondage of the grave to give her independence -am I to be loaded with the foul and grievous calumny of being an emissary of France ?
My lords, it may be part of the system of angry justice, to bow a man's mind, by humiliation to meet the ignominy of the scaffold ; but worse to me than the scaffold's shame, or the scaffold's terrors, would be the imputation of having been the agent of French despotism and ambition; and while I have breath, I will call upon my
then, his fate could awaken the sympathy even of his focs, what must have been the agony of her, whose whole soul was occupied by his image! Let those tell who have had the portals of the tomb suddenly closed between them and the being they most loved on earth—who have sat at its threshold, as one shut out in a cold and lonely world, from whence all that was most lovely and loving had departed. But then the horrors of such a grave! so frightful, so
countrymen not to believe me guilty of so foul a crime against their iiberties and their happiness.
. Though you, my lord, sit therc a judge, and I stand here a culprit, yet you are but a man and I am another. Thave a right therefore to vindicate my character and motives from the aspersions of calumny; and, as a man, to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in rescuing my name and my memory froin the afflicting imputation of having been an emissary of France, or seeking her interference in the internal regulation of our affairs.
• Did I live to see a French army approach this country, I would meet it on the shore, with a torch in one hand and a sword in the other; I would receive them with all the destruction of war! I would animate my countrymen to immolate them in their very boats; and before our nat oil should be polluted by a foreign foe, if they succeeded in landing, I would burn every blade of grass before thein, raze every house, contend to the last for every inch of ground; and the last spot on which the hope of freedom should desert me, that spot I would make my grave! What I cannot do, I leave a legacy to my country because I feel conscious that my death were unprofitable, and all hopes of liberty extinct, the moment a French army obtained a footing in this land. God forbid that I should see my country under the hands of a foreign power. If the French should come as a foreign enemy, Oh! my countrymen! meet them on the shore with a torch in one hand and a sword in the other: receive them with all the destruction of war; immolate them in their boats, before our native soil shall be polluted by a foreign foe! If they succeed in landing, fight them on the strand, burn every blade of grass before them as they advance-raze every house; and if you are driven to the centre of your country, collect your provisions, your property, your wives and your daughters; form a circle around them-fight while but two men are left; and when but one remains, let that man set fire to the pile, and release himself, and the families of his fallen countrymen, from the tyranny of France.
• My lamp of life is nearly expired-my race is finished : the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom All I request then, at parting from the world, is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph, for as no man, who knows my motives, dare vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them : let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, till other times and other men can do justice to my character.'