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not seen, and felt, and thought, as I could never again see, or feel, or think? Why desire old age-which is but the same world, with dimness and a film drawn over the vision of the man? Better lapse at once from youth into oblivion. What there is of brief and fitful enchantment in this life of man, I too have partly known. I have heard music, I have seen mountains, I have looked on the sea, and clouds, and flowing rivers, and the beauty of woman. I have loved; vainly or foolishly, I still have loved. I have known, too, that other enchantment, second only to love, that early dawn of meditative thought, when the stars of heaven are still seen in the faint fresh light of the morning afterwards there is more light upon the earth, but there is no star, and we wait till the dark comes down upon us, before we see the heavens again !"
There is compensation in all things, though many find it not. Joy and trouble are bound up in every event of life, even as opposite poles are inseparable in the magnet. Pity it is that the night of trouble is at times so dark, or the mental eye of the sufferer so feeble, that the interwoven gold with which Providence relieves the woof of calamity remains undiscovered. It was not so now with Thorndale. His load fell off as he saw himself near the end of his journey. If not happy, he is at least imperturbably calm as the silence and solitude around him. "No long vista, dark with extinguished hopes," he says, now lies before me to be trodden to the end. Those coming years, so pale and joyless-those spectres of the future will haunt me no more. At every pause of life they stood before I could not see the little plot of sunshine at my feet for gazing upwards at those fearful shadows. Now all this is changed. Time has once for all set down his hour-glass before me there it stands-a few sands, precious as gold, are all that remain. How swiftly they run! and there is no hand can turn the glass!" His intellectual being energises to the last, and new lights continue to break upon him like stars as the night comes down. Immortality to
human beings, he now sees, would be a useless gift and an insupportable burden. "We should do nothing with it: for every task there would be an eternal to-morrow: we run to waste unless our very days are numbered. Think, too, what eternity would be to one whose nature it is to fill all futurity with the sadness and terror of the present moment. How would he look eternity in the face, who recoils like a scared child at a few blank years before him?" "Wish for no amaranths," he says again. "Amaranthine flowers!'. it is very like eternal tinsel!" The very limitation of the term of enjoyment has much to do with the exquisiteness of life's pleasures. It is the perishable blossom that is so pre-eminently beautiful." It is a sense of our own transitoriness that heightens our emotion at the sight of the enduring beauties of Nature. Strange!" murmurs the invalid as he leans over the parapet, looking down on the coloured glories belowstrange how the beauty and mystery of all nature is heightened by the near prospect of that coming darkness which will sweep it all away!"
The invalid of the Villa Scarpa is a man worth knowing. Half-poet, half-philosopher, his is a nature coloured to its core by poetic feeling and beautiful thought-protected, by the possession of a competency, from hard bustling contact with the world, but only thereby more liable to an undue development of that dreaminess of nature and susceptibility of nerve, for which the common work of life is the best prophylactic. Viewed externally, his life presents little that is very interesting; but the truth is, that the outside gives one no notion of his life at all. His intensest life has been within. That mind so full of speculation-that heart so steeped in sensibility-that poetic imagination, creating new environments for him at every turn of the kaleidoscope of feeling what can be known of their workings from without? Nothing. And this is precisely the relation in which the common world stands to hundreds of those who walk through it In how many lives there lurks a hidden romance or a
hidden terror! If we could unscale our eyes and look with spiritual glance into the inner life of those around us, we should certainly see many a dark corner that now escapes us, but would we not also see many a beauty and tenderness which at present lie veiled from view? The sunshine of propitious circumstances might bring forth that inner loveliness; but, as the world goes, much of it will ever be forced to bloom only in the occult world of mind, palely like the flowers of Elysium that never drank the sunlight. Of poets especially it is true that the romance of their soul's story often appears but as commonplace in their outward career. "The inner life of every true poet," it has been said, "must be poetical; and could we trace the private workings of their souls, and read the pages of their mental and moral development, no biographies could be richer in instruction, and even entertainment." As poet and philosopher in one, and of a shy reserved temperament withal, our friend Thorndale is one to whom these remarks are specially applicable. Fortunately, we have a key to his inner life. In that solid manuscript-book, in which of late he has been writing so much, are jottings of past emotions of which the world never got sight, and most clear and legible tracings of those mental conflicts which constituted the main tenor of his life. Without the help of this key, even his most intimate friends would fail to know one-half the real life of Charles Thorndale; for with him it was the inner life that was the true one, the substance; and of this his outer career gave no better token than the lumbering husk of the cocoa-nut does of the fruit within.
Not long after our sight of him on the terrace of the Villa Scarpa, Thorndale passed away from this world, which so much perplexed him, and in which, from his boyhood to the grave, he hardly ever seemed to feel at home. He had written his Diary for himself, not for others-for his own mental satisfaction and recreation, and he left it unheeded and uncared for. A kindly chance afterwards rescued the book from destruc
tion, and we shall see by-and-by what was the nature of its contents. But first let us turn over its pages, and from the scattered souvenirs obtain a glimpse of Thorndale's life. The earliest glimpse we get of him—for his life is given in pictures, rather than in a connected narrative-is playing under the same skipping-rope with his little cousin Winifred, at his uncle's residence of Sutton Manor, near the bank of the Thames. We see two merry children coursing along the smooth turf, and the rope flying over their heads. Each holds in one hand a handle of the skipping-rope; each has one arm locked round the waist of his companion. They have no thought but of holding fast, and keeping step and time, as the rope flies round, and they dance onwards under it, laughing and singing. And a lady calls from the terrace-it is his ever-watchful mother: "Charles, take care of Winifred !-see that she does not fall!" As he emerged from boyhood into youth, Thorndale, left an orphan, was transferred to the guardianship of his uncle at Sutton Manor,-the heads of which establishment he has cleverly described in a couple of sentences. His uncle, Sir Thomas Moberly, was "a wealthy man; hospitable, kind, a little pompous, proud of his pedigree, a member of Parliament withal, and hugely solicitous to stand high in the county." Of Lady Moberly one "could say nothing but what was commendable; only the commendable qualities moved within narrow limits, such as were drawn by a very restricted intelligence. She took her place in the fashionable world; she also took a recognised position in the evangelical world: these two strokes being given, the rest of the portrait may easily be traced. An exemplary woman-most doctrinal, most unspiritual!" The shy lad, with his wounded spirit and passionate regrets, felt ill at ease in that great house and under such tutelage. Only one person seemed fully to tolerate and sympathise with him, and that was his cousin Winifred.
A gentleman's son, with a fair competency, Thorndale was designed for Oxford, and is sent as a preparatory step to study with a clergyman. For three years he is absent from Sutton
my seat on the mossy trunk, engrossed in the Lay of the Last Minstrel. How long the fascination of that poet had held me, I cannot say; but when I lifted up my eyes from the page-lo! there stood before me the veritable fairy -the baronet's daughter and my sweet cousin Winifred. She had returned for her book. Finding how I was engaged, she stood smiling before me, in playful mood, waiting to see how long she might remain there looking on, and herself unseen. She started, and blushed a little, I think, amidst her laughter, when our eyes met. How beautiful she had grown! My little cousin so late my playmate how my heart bounded, how it trembled before you! . . there she stood, in no stately drawingroom, but in the greenwood, with the light of heaven playing on her open brow, and on that fair head: for I well
remember that, to enjoy the breeze and freedom of the place, she had taken off her hat, and hung it by the strings, basket-fashion, on her arm. She stood before me in the free air, and in the golden light of day; and the poet-the truest-hearted and most chivalrous of poets was our only master of the ceremonies. It was fortunate for me that he came to our rescue: I could pour out on him, and on his heroines, the language of admiration. Never was
poet so much extolled-never so completely forgotten.
"We often afterwards. met in that
shrubbery-walked there and talked. What poetry we more than talked-we lived! No antique grove devoted to god or goddess was ever more sacred And, indeed, this early love, so pure and than those shady avenues became to me. so devoted, is more akin to worship than anything else to which I can resemble it."
tical postscript soon breaks on the The full meaning of the enigmadreaming youth, and extinguishes whatever spirit of ambitious enterprise he might otherwise have had. The blow fell with double weight upon one like him, with no natural impulse to an active career; and when, on leaving Sutton Manor, he installed himself in the cloister of Oxford, he was as indifferent to the world as any monk of the middle ages could have been. "Academical honours," he says,
The daily bread' was secured, and "had no sort of charm for me. neither law, physic, or divinity could have given me my Winifred!" When the "long vacations" came round, instead of repairing as usual to Sutton Manor, he generally gave out that he was going to Wales or Cumberland to read." "That house," he says, "which in common parlance was called my home, was not indeed closed to me, but was made difficult of entrance, embarrassing, and perilous by the very attractions it possessed. I, if I pleased, might love my fair cousin to my heart's contentor its destruction,-that was my affair; but I must not ask my cousin to return this love." On finally quitting the University, however, it seemed expected that he should pay a somewhat longer visit than usual to Sutton Manor. It was his last; and the following glimpses he gives us of it and of Winifred, in his Diary, are so exquisitely beautiful that we quote the passage nearly entire :
"From time to time I had continued to see Winifred. To me she was always the same kind, beautiful, irresistibly lovable. Only one of us, I suppose, felt or understood what embarrassed our intercourse. She wondered why I stayed away so long, and why my visits were so brief. Even Lady Moberly seemed to think that I over-acted my
precautionary part. Sir Thomas had at length come to the conclusion that I was altogether an irreclaimable bookworm, who would do nothing in the world or in society-nothing either in public or in private life; a result he entirely attributed to that home education which he had so often inveighed against in vain. No one suspected what a complete tyranny was exercised over the soul of this wandering bookworm! Flight, and the involving myself in some abstruse speculation, to steal from me the natural man,' were my only resources.
"Attracted-then warned by many a sharp pain; flying, and again attracted; it was the old story of the Moth and the Flame! During the visit I now paid, I gave myself up with a quite holi day delight to the fascination of Winifred's society. At all events, I said to myself, the penalty falls on one of us only. And as for me-it matters not; I shall for this whole month persist in loving! I shall see her every day, talk with her, walk with her, ride with her, be her boatman on this beautiful river. Yes, let the storm threaten what it may, I will simply love on!
“I did!—I had what I have since called my month of Elysium.
Lover as I had been of nature, I never knew till then what beauty there was in the simple landscape, in the fields, the flowers, trees, and the running stream. I never knew what roses were, or could be, till I saw Winifred in her own garden standing amongst them.
"I cannot describe her. I cannot see her for the light love threw, and still throws around her. Beautiful she was, for every one proclaimed it; and kind she must have been, for everybody loved her. When I talked with Winifred, my philosophy was ever hopeful and full of faith. It was the faith I formed for her that I was giving to myself. I saw the heavens opening, for I looked with her eyes, and looked-for her. After love, how poor a thing is admiration ! It is only the admiration that goes before love, and ushers it in, that is worth having.
"When I look back upon this golden time-this month of Elysium, as I have called it I am amazed to think of the capacity for happiness that is in us. Let any philosopher, with his mental chemistry, try to analyse the complex and intricate felicities that the presence of one loved person can bring us! he will make nothing of it. He may as well count the ripples of light upon yonder ocean when the rising sun strikes it. How fortunate are they with whom the ecstasy of such
an epoch ushers in the calm and life-long friendship! With me it had to subside
how it could—into mere cold despondency. Some of us worship very madly. How, in imagination, do the arms open, and we fold so tenderly, for ever and for ever, to our hearts-mere shadow! We open our arms to the empty air. Will not the idol come down from its pedestal? Never!-never to us! Yet we worship before it still.
"I cannot tell how others in like case have felt; with me there was a division and a rebellion in my own soul. My anger turned ever upon myself. I can say that I felt no bitterness against any other living being. But this mad grief seemed to arm my right hand with an imaginary dagger, pointed always against my own heart. To such self-combat and suicidal rage was my Elysian happiness conducting me!
"Again the Moth gathered strength and wing enough to take flight. I broke from the enchanted garden. I pretended some urgent necessity for travelling to Scotland. Railway, coach, steamboatI made no pause till I found myself at the well-known inn at Tarbet, on Loch Lomond. I had spent one night at the inn, and the next morning I was sitting on the margin of the lake. Very majestic is Ben Lomond, very beautiful the lake: but all this inanimate beauty was powerless now. I saw it not. Memory was stronger than vision. In vain had I travelled some three hundred miles or more; I was still in the garden at Sutton Manor; I was on the river there, or in the park or shrubbery; I was still with Winifred!
"And then came all manner of delusive reasonings-so prodigally produced on these occasions. What if, after all, nothing was wanting, but, on my partcourage!-one bold step! Would not all yield to the wish of Winifred? was she not omnipotent over the affection of both parents? And how could Winifred express her wish if I did not tempt forth the secret of her heart? And what was that which, sitting at the piano, she had drowned in a perfect storm of music! What ought to have followed on that 'unless-unless?' A thousand such resistless arguments-that seemed resistless, and are light as air-crowded into my mind, till I wrought myself into the conviction that I, indeed, was my own greatest enemy, by the unbroken silence I had hitherto maintained. I started up from the spot where, for some hours, I had been sitting like a statue. I flew to the inn, I flew to the steamboat, I travelled back. I travelled without ceasing
day and night. I seemed only to pause to draw breath, when I stood once more at the gate of the shrubbery at Sutton Manor. Then indeed I paused. Leaning on the half-opened gate, I saw again my own position in its true and natural light. Was it not always known and understood that such a thing was not to be? One after the other, all my falla cious reasonings deserted me. What madness could have brought me there? I hoped no one had seen me.-Slowly and softly the half-opened gate was closed again. I walked away,-retracing my steps as unobserved as possible through the village."
The tide of circumstances ran strongly against poor Thorndale, and he had not nerve to venture to breast it. Probably, if he had, the issue would have been the same. But was ever the "old, old story" told more exquisitely! "I cannot describe her, -I cannot see her for the light love threw around her!" These are the words of true lover and poet. What a vain thing is a mere catalogue of features, the disjecta membra of beauty, giving no idea whatever of the living loveliness. There is ever such a halo of brightness around beauty, especially when idolised by love, that we see it simply as a living lustre or splendour, rather than as a composite of separate forms and features. Crushed and quivering in spirit, Thorndale could not seek refuge, where many seek it, in the whirl of gay life. In the season, when the Moberlys occupied their house in town, he had opportunities of seeing what is especially called Society, and might have circulated through a considerable circle of it. But ball-rooms did not suit him he found no excitement there-they were only a weariness. "Well," he said to himself, as he returned from such scenes, "I must live then in solitude, say rather in companionship with the noblest minds, speaking to me in their noblest moods. This is highest society-society of the truly great. What nobility and what royalty can compare with those? I live with the kings and emperors of the realm of thought. Nay, is it not the chariot of the sunbright god himself that I ascend, when I ride with the spirit of the poet, and survey and comprehend
the wide world beneath us?" His solitary nature, therefore, when he turned away from the gate of Sutton Manor, took to the country, and he went a-roaming over the romantic hills and dales of Cumberland and Westmoreland, with their lovely lakes, which he had visited a year or two before in the company of his poet friend Luxmore. "But how changed a mind," he says, "did I now bring with me to the very same scenes! Not all the light on all the hills could now disperse or compete with the vision of one fair girl." Had Providence taken him by the shoulders and set him to hard work, especially if of a physical kind, it would have done Thorndale a hundredfold more good than any amount of vacant roamings and journeyings. Change of worldly fortune, or six weeks at the plough, would have been the best specific for his beautiful but morbid passion, and might have given him back to the world, still a dreamer indeed, but not a slave. And Thorndale himself must have known this; for one day, at an earlier period of his life, amid his rural musings, he tried his hand at turning a furrow, and did it not amiss,-but the tremor of muscle extended into the region of mind, and, by temporarily shaking the framework of his speculations, showed him that the feasibility of uniting high intellectual and emotional culture with labours like these was much more doubtful than he had formerly imagined. But circumstances did not force him to hard work, and his temperament was averse to it so he continued as he was. And O cynic! who art preparing to sneer, before doing so ask your dry little brain, what instances you can name in which a man has shown himself more powerful than the nature which God gave him, and the circumstances in which he was placed. So Thorndale wandered on, speculating instead of working, and unable to shake off his tyrannous bitter-sweet thraldom. Ever and anon there fell upon him such a sense of blankness and utter desolation. "It could not be otherwise," he says. "I was not framed of that granite strength that can stand alone.