« AnteriorContinuar »
creep in, until they give up at last, and turn to ice sitting at the same table.
Others, again, find each other out as we have been finding out this continent. They nestle down at first among the meadows, close by the clear streams; then they go on through a belt of shadow, lose their way, and find it again the best they know, and come out into a larger horizon and a better land; they meet their difficult hills, and climb them together, strike deserts and dismal places, and cross them together; and so at last they stand on the further reaches of the mountains, and see the other ocean sunning itself sweet and still, and then their journey ends. But through shadows and shine, this is the gospel for the day: they keep together right on to the end. They allow no danger, disaster, or difference to divide them, and no third person to interfere; for if they do it may be as if William and Mary of England had permitted the great Louis to divide their throne by first dividing their hearts.
Did you ever hear my definition of marriage? A wise and witty man1 says: "It resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them." The definition is as witty as it is wise; and he might have added, Part the shears, and then all you have left is two poor daggers.
1 Sydney Smith.
So it is possible we may grow aged in finding each other out, and wondering why we never saw that trait before, or struck that temper; but if there be between us a true heart, if the rivet holds, then the added years will only bring added reasons for a perfect union, and the sweet old ballad will be our psalm of life :
"John Anderson, my Jo, John,
We clamb the hill togither;
We must find each other out; and then it is possible that, like my mother's old shears, over which I used to ponder when I was a child, one side is greater, and the other, by consequence, less.
I found James Mott delighted, one evening when I went to call on him, because, while he was working in his garden, two men went by, and one said,
That is James Mott."-"And who is James Mott?"-"Why, don't you know? He is Lucretia Mott's husband." Now, James Mott was by no means a common man : with a lesser half, he would have seemed a great man; and he was great in his steady and perfect loyalty to truth and goodBut his wife was the woman of a century,
while he was so noble and great of soul as to be glad and proud of her greatness, and at the same time he seemed all the greater for his worship, feat, I notice, few men are able to accomplish.
Audubon, our great naturalist, married a good, sweet woman; and when she began to find him out, she found he would wander off a thousand miles in quest of a bird. She said "Amen!” and went with him, camped in the woods, lived in log huts and shanties on the frontier, anywhere to be with him. She entered into his enthusiasm, shared his labor, and counted all things but loss for the excellency of the glory of being Audubon's wife. When the children began to come to them, he had to wander off alone; but he could not go into a valley so deep, or a wilderness so distant, that the light would not shine on him out of their windows. He knew exactly where he would find her, and how she would look; for while, as Ruskin reminds us, the clouds are never twice alike, the sunshine is always familiar, and it was sunshine he saw when he looked homeward. So, if you have read his notes, you will remember how his heart breaks forth into singing in all sorts of unexpected places as he thinks of the wife and children waiting his return; and in that way they lived their life until they dropped into the lap of God like mellow fruit. It was laid on the man to do this curious wild work. How the woman's heart yearned to have him home, we may
well imagine, and how gladly she would have given. up some of his greatness to keep her children's father at her side: but she did not tell him so, if she was the woman I think she was; and so she is changed into the same image, from glory to glory. Growing aged together in the body, they are touched now in the spirit with immortal youth.
The little idyl ends without telling us how the answer came to this cry on a wedding night, or whether it came at all as they expected and hoped. But that it did come in some good, sweet way, is certain; for there is no word about a convulsion, and they have six sons. They move away, when the good wife is dead; and after that we only see the man who lives, the neighbors believe, to be a hundred and twenty-seven. It makes little difference, that we do not know exactly how their life together ended. If they kept these safeguards, and followed this inspiration I have tried to touch, I know it was all right.
When Oberlin was eighty years old, and very infirm, climbing one of his native mountains one day, he was obliged to lean on the arm of a younger man, while his wife, who was still strong, walked by herself. Meeting one of his parishioners, the old man felt so awkward at his seeming lack of gallantry, that he insisted on stopping and telling just how it was she could not lean on his arm, but she leaned on his heart all the same; they had grown
aged together, but he had shot a little ahead; they must not think there was any other reason; it was as it always had been, only he was the weaker vessel now, and would his friend please say so when he happened to mention what he had seen? So it would be with these twain, in that far-away Eastern valley they would keep together; and, when the arm failed, the heart would still abide in the old beautiful strength.
"And what did you see?" I said once to a friend who had been into the Lake country, and who, on his return, told me he had gone to Wordsworth's home. "I saw the old man," he said, "walking in the garden with his wife. They are both quite
but they seemed just
old, and he is almost blind; like sweethearts courting, they were so tender to each other, and attentive." Miss Martineau tells us the same story, with the additional particulars of a near neighbor, how the old wife would miss her husband, and trot out, and find him asleep perhaps in the sun, run for his hat, tend him and watch over him till he awoke; and so it was that when he died they made one grave deep enough for both, and when she died they were one, one in the dust as they were one in heaven, and had been on earth for over forty years. The world came to Wordsworth at last, but the wife at first. "Worse and worse," Jeffrey said, when a new poem came out: "Better and better," said the wife. The world