« AnkstesnisTęsti »
hollow-hearted. You think it would be a pleasure to you to call me yours, and to have me for your slave. But you think of nothing beyond your own pleasure. You have no high, no solemn aim in what you propose.
You do not even think of my good, far less of the glory of God.”
"Upon my word, Kate, you have learned to preach, and, if you were only a man, we would have you tonsured and clapped in a casşock forthwith. In what theological seminary have you been studying the last year?”
“I understand your sneer, Mr. Morton, and its intent. I have studied in no seminary ; I am a weak and sinful woman ; but I have learned this much, thanks to other teachers than those you provided me, that I was made for a higher destiny than can be attained on this earth, and that in all I do, even in the tenderest and most sacred affections of the human heart, I am to seek the greater glory of God. My mind, heart, soul and body are his, and must be dedicated exclusively to his service; and though I may love and marry, it must be for love of him, because by so doing I can best honor and serve him. Marriage is a holy sacrament, and you — you believe in no sacrament, and hold marriage to be nothing but a gross union for low, earthly, and sensual purposes. How could there be marriage between us ?"
“ You talk finely, Kate, but marriage is a union of two hearts which mutually love, for their mutual happiness."
“Say for their mutual pleasure, and you will express your thought with more precision. The pleasure being the end of the marriage, when it ceases to be attained, the marriage is null, and either party is at liberty to seek pleasure elsewhere. Such, I am aware, are your views of marriage ; but I hold marriage to be a holy union, and incapable of being formed except when both parties form it for the love of God, and form it not for their own personal pleasure, but for the purpose of serving God and obtaining his blessing. I can never consent to be united to a man who entertains such views as yours, because there could be no marriage between us, and nothing but profanation of the temple of God.”
Really, much you say, Kate, seems to me like nonsense. True, such notions have been taught by a certain class of professed Christians, refining on notions borrowed from Oriental philosophy, and reinforced by the asceticism of monks and anchorets of the ages of Popish superstition and ignorance. But
you know that no such notions are countenanced in the school in which we were brought up. My father was your father's minister, your own spiritual father, and I am sure he never taught any such nonsense about marriage. He taught that the marriage is in the mutual love, and that where the love is, there is valid marriage in the sight of heaven, and that it is merely for the purpose of maintaining some little order and regularity in society that the formal ceremony of marriage is at all necessary. Those who are united by love God has married, and whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.”
“I respect your father, Mr. Morton, as my father's friend, and for the many amiable qualities and generous dispositions he possessed. But I have learned, God be praised, to abjure his doctrines. It is not mine to judge him. He has gone to give an account for what he taught, and I leave him in the hands of his God, who will do him justice tempered with infinite mercy. But the blasting effects of his doctrine you may read in your own unprofitable life. From the very bottom of your heart you despise the life you lead, and all who can be the dupes of your sophistry. To what baseness are not you, who call yourself a gentleman, prepared to descend ? and at what a terrible expense are you not willing to purchase your own selfish gratification? What can you say in your defence ? ”
“ And yet you will continue your course, and continue to do that which you cannot justify in your own eyes, and in defence of which
have not one word to offer." “Very likely.”
“And you ask me to love you, to give myself up to you, to be yours, to love, serve, and obey you until death" “Yes. Where will you find one more worthy of you?
I am not, perhaps, just what I should be, and yet I do not feel particularly humbled when I compare myself with others. Few men, I apprehend, can be found who are my superiors ; and I do not think the proudest of your sex would stoop very much if they should stoop so low as to accept the offer I have made you."
** You rate yourself very highly, Mr. Morion. I would much rather be the wife of the meanest laborer in the streets, in case the grace of God has renewed his heart, than to be the wife of such a man as you.”
“You said you had forgiven me. It is not true. You think you have me in your power, and you are now taking your revenge. You imagine you triumph over me. Well, triumph away ; I cannot blame you.
“No, I seek no revenge, no triumph. I tell you plainly why I cannot accept your proposal. I will be the wife of no
man, who I have not good reason to believe is a true believer in Jesus Christ, and who loves his God even more than he will
so much that he would not even for my sake do aught against the divine law,- and certainly I can never be the wife of one who never knew any love but love of himself.”
"Well, if I were a good Christian in your sense, could you, would you, then consent to be mine ?"
“It will be time enough for you to put that question, and for me to answer it, when you have become a good Christian. Till then let it rest. If you should seek to become a Christian for the sake of obtaining me for your wife, you could not be
There are other reasons enough why you should seek to become a Christian. You have your own soul to save, and you will find it much harder for you to spend eternity without God, than this short life without me. But,” said she, rising, and speaking with great dignity and solemnity, “go now, and make your peace with God. We meet no more. Without Christ there is no good for you; with him you can desire no other good. Farewell, and may God in mercy touch your heart, and make you his child."
So saying, she left the room. In a few moments the old man reëntered.
“Well, Edward, your proposal was listened to, was it not ?"
“ Yes, with a vengeance.” “Accepted ?"
" Why do you mock me. You had trained her before I saw her, and she has but followed your instructions. But no matter. She shall be mine yet. By heavens! I will not be thwarted by an old dotard and a silly young girl of nineteen. I give you fair warning.
fair warning. She shall be mine. Her pride shall be humbled, and yours too. Remember what I say. Nothing but death shall snatch from me my prize."
“You are young, and have not learned the vanity of big words. You are imprudent, too, for so wise a man.
You should not threaten, you should keep your purpose to yourself. However, it must be as God wills. The girl, I think, is safe under his protection.”
The old man was right, and I felt humbled under a sense of my imprudence; but I could not consent to abandon my resolution. I would suffer no woman to thwart my desires, or to triumph over me and live. Moreover, I became more attached VOL. II. NO. I.
to Katharine than ever. True, her views of marriage were not such as I could entertain for myself, but they were precisely such as every man wishes his wife to entertain and act upon. Most men, too, however little they care for religion and piety themselves, are well pleased to have their wives religious and pious. Katharine's recent conversion, though it had carried her, as I could easily gather from the tone of her remarks, into a church with which I had no sympathy, and which I looked upon as long since dead and buried, rather enhanced her in my estimation, and made me still more desirous of possessing her, of calling her mine, and binding her to me for life.
Nevertheless, I was no stranger to the arts of the sex. I did not believe her rejection was positive. She felt that I was at her feet, and there she intended to keep me till she had enjoyed her triumph. No woman can forego the opportunity of exercising her power, and of sporting with her victim. But I was too old to become a dupe, and too much the master of myself to become the slave of another. In the present case, the triumph should be on the other side. “Kate shall be mine," said I, as I returned to my room. " She is a splendid creature, and, with her, I half believe I could be as good as Parson Middleton himself, or, which is somewhat more, as good as his creed requires him to be. For her I think I could leave off my follies, and be faithful, considerate, and kind. She has mind, too, and knows what she says. She is none of your weak, puny creatures, that dissolve in your arms, and leave you nothing but the memory of having embraced an unsubstantial vision. She has sentiment, that I know; but she knows how to control it, and let it appear only as it is wanted. She is just the woman a man like me, satiated and wearied with the world, and the whole herd around him, needs for his wife. · Heaven's best gift is the last.' She shall be mine.
“ But that old dragon is no duenna. There is no tampering with him, and he has as many eyes as Argus, and is as omnipresent as the Devil.
He keeps strict watch, and there is no eluding him. If I believed in spirits, whether good or bad, I should half believe him more than mortal. He has certainly Fortunatus's cap, and has the power of seeing without being
Then he seems to be able to read more than can be
He knows one's thoughts, most secret thoughts, and I much doubt whether he is not now taking note of what is passing in my mind and heart. Never mind, old man. bent on thwarting me, but I know a spell which will prove too mighty for you. Your ward loves, and loves me too.
If so, my
but sit quiet and she will seek me of her own accord. She is pious, too, and will think it a sad thing that my soul should be lost. She believes I love her, and that she can have power over me which may be exerted for my spiritual good. It would be so glorious a thing to pluck me as a brand from the burning. She must try. Love, disguising itself under the form of Christian charity, will make her anxious to meet me, anxious to converse with me, and — the rest is easy enough.”
All this was consoling, and relieved my mortified vanity not a little. Nevertheless, I had a secret misgiving. I did not really fear that my free notions and practice would be in my way, for your pious women are rarely afraid of the dissolute, and in general rather prefer the rake, probably out of charity, in hopes of being the instrument of reforming him. But there was something so calm, so frank, so sweet, and withal so firm, in Katharine's manner, that I feared that her heart was far from being desolate. It had found an object, whether a human or a superhuman, was more than I could say ; but evidently her heart was satisfied, and she had no longer the craving to love or to be loved. It can't be so, and yet it must. chances are small; if not so, I can hardly account for her perfect quiet and serenity. There are those who speak of the doubts and anxieties of love, who tell us what they call the pains of love are worth all other pleasures. It is true, we cling to these pains, we cherish them, we are afraid to let them go, afraid to find ourselves free from them, and it must be admitted that they give a piquant variety to the dull monotony of the voluptuary's life ; but pain is pain, and I have never yet found pain pleasant, nor preferable to pleasure. hold on to these pains with a death-grasp, not because we would retain them, but because we dread that if we lose them we shall find something worse, and because we hope they will soon end in pleasure. But alas! vain is the voluptuary's hope. He never is, but is always just a-going, to be blessed. He perpetually renews the old myth of Tantalus. He is parched with thirst; the bubbling fountain sparkles before his eyes ; it rises almost to his lips ; he stoops to drink; it recedes, and keeps ever beyond his reach. He is famished. Trees grow around him; their branches loaded with delicious fruit, bending down, invite him to reach forth his hand, to take and eat. He extends his hand, a breeze wafts the branch aside, or it rises just enough to keep him from grasping it. Yet there it hangs, and ever does he reach forth his hand, sure this time he shall succeed; but ever as before does it elude his grasp. But my