LOVE, DELIGHT, AND ALARM
On the previous evening, Pierre had arranged with Lucy the plan of a long winding ride, among the hills, which stretched around to the southward from the wide plains of Saddle Meadows.
Though the vehicle was a sexagenarian, the animals that drew it, were but six-year colts. The old phaeton had outlasted several generations of its drawers.
Pierre rolled beneath the village elms in billowy style, and soon drew up before the white cottage door. Flinging his reins upon the ground he entered the house.
The two colts were his particular and confidential friends ; born on the same land with him, and fed with the same corn, which, in the form of Indian-cakes, Pierre himself was often wont to eat for breakfast. The same fountain that by one branch supplied the stables with water, by another supplied Pierre's pitcher. They were a sort of family cousins to Pierre, those horses ; and they were splendid young cousins ; very showy in their redundant manes and mighty paces, but not at all vain or arrogant. They acknowledged Pierre as the undoubted head of the house of Glendinning. They well knew that they were but an inferior and subordinate branch of the Glendinnings, bound in perpetual feudal fealty to its headmost representative. Therefore, these young cousins never permitted themselves to run from Pierre ; they were impatient in their paces, but very patient in the halt. They were full of good-humour too, and kind as kittens.
'Bless me, how can you let them stand all alone that way, Pierre,' cried Lucy, as she and Pierre stepped forth from the cottage door, Pierre laden with shawls, parasol, reticule, and a small hamper.
'Wait a bit,' cried Pierre, dropping his load ; ' I will show you what my colts are.'
So saying, he spoke to them mildly, and went close up to them, and patted them. The colts neighed ; the nigh colt neighing a little jealously, as if Pierre had not patted impartially. Then, with a low, long, almost inaudible whistle, Pierre got between the colts, among the harness. Whereat Lucy started, and uttered a faint cry, but Pierre told her to keep perfectly quiet, for there was not the least danger in the world. And Lucy did keep quiet ; for somehow, though she always started when Pierre seemed in the slightest jeopardy, yet at bottom she rather cherished a notion that Pierre bore a charmed life, and by no earthly possibility could die from her, or experience any harm, when she was within a thousand leagues.
Pierre, still between the horses, now stepped upon the pole of the phaeton ; then stepping down, indefinitely disappeared, or became partially obscured among the living colonnade of the horses' eight slender and glossy legs. He entered the colonnade one way, and after a variety of meanderings, came out another way ; during all of which equestrian performance, the two colts kept gaily neighing, and good-humouredly moving their heads perpendicularly up and down ; and sometimes turning them sideways toward Lucy ; as much as to say—We understand young master ; we understand him, miss ; never fear, pretty lady : why, bless your delicious little heart, we played with Pierre before you ever did.
'Are you afraid of their running away now, Lucy ? ' said Pierre, returning to her.
'Not much, Pierre ; the superb fellows ! Why, Pierre, they have made an officer of you—look !' and she pointed to two foam-flakes epauletting his shoulders. ' Bravissimo again ! I called you my recruit, when you left my window this morning, and here you are promoted.'
'Very prettily conceited, Lucy. But see, you don't admire their coats ; they wear nothing but the finest Genoa velvet, Lucy. See! did you ever see such well-groomed horses?'
'Then what say you to have them for my groomsmen, Lucy ? Glorious groomsmen they would make, I declare. They should have a hundred ells of white favours all over their manes and tails ; and when they drew us to church, they would be still all the time scattering white favours from their mouths, just as they did here on me. Upon my soul, they shall be my groomsmen, Lucy. Stately stags ! playful dogs ! heroes, Lucy. We shall have no marriage bells ; they shall neigh for us, Lucy ; we shall be wedded to the martial sound of Job's trumpeters, Lucy. Hark ! they are neighing now to think of it.'
'Neighing at your lyrics, Pierre. Come, let us be off. Here, the shawl, the parasol, the basket ; what are you looking at them so for ? '
'I was thinking, Lucy, of the sad state I am in. Not six months ago, I saw a poor affianced fellow, an old comrade of mine, trudging along with his Lucy Tartan, a hillock of bundles under either arm ; and I said to myself—There goes a sumpter, now ; poor devil, he 's a lover. And now look at me ! Well, life 's a burden, they say ; why not be burdened cheerily ? But look ye, Lucy, I am going to enter a formal declaration and pro- test before matters go further with us. When we are married, I am not to carry any bundles, unless in cases of real need ; and what is more, when there are any of your young lady acquaintances in sight, I am not to be unnecessarily called upon to back up, and load for their particular edification.'
'Now I am really vexed with you, Pierre ; that is the first ill-natured innuendo I ever heard from you. Are there any of my young lady acquaintances in sight now, I should like to know ? '
'Six of them, right over the way,' said Pierre ; ' but they keep behind the curtains. I never trust your solitary village streets, Lucy. Sharp-shooters behind every clap-board, Lucy.'
'Pray, then, dear Pierre, do let us be off ! '
While Pierre and Lucy are now rolling along under the elms, let it be said who Lucy Tartan was. It is needless to say that she was a beauty ; because chestnut-haired, bright-cheeked youths like Pierre Glendinning, seldom fall in love with any but a beauty. And in the times to come, there must be—as in the present times, and in the times gone by—some splendid men, and some transcendent women ; and how can they ever be, unless always, throughout all time, here and there, a handsome youth weds with a handsome maid?
But though owing to the above-named provisions of dame Nature, there always will be beautiful women in the world ; yet the world will never see another Lucy Tartan. Her cheeks were tinted with the most delicate white and red, the white predominating. Her eyes some god brought down from heaven ; her hair was Danae's, spangled with Jove's shower ; her teeth were dived for in the Persian Sea.
If long wont to fix his glance on those who, trudging through the humbler walks of life, and whom unequal toil and poverty deform ; if that man shall haply view some fair and gracious daughter of the gods, who, from unknown climes of loveliness and affluence, comes float- ing into sight, all symmetry and radiance ; how shall he be transported, that in a world so full of vice and misery as ours, there should yet shine forth this visible semblance of the heavens. For a lovely woman is not entirely of this earth. Her own sex regard her not as such. A crowd of women eye a transcendent beauty entering a room, much as though a bird from Arabia had lighted on the window-sill. Say what you will, their jealousy—if any—is but an afterbirth to their open admiration. Do men envy the gods ? And shall women envy the goddesses ? A beautiful woman is born Queen of men and women both, as Mary Stuart was born Queen of Scots, whether men or women. All mankind are her Scots ; her real clans are numbered by the nations. A true gentleman in Kentucky would cheerfully die for a beautiful woman in Hindustan, though he never saw her. Yea, count down his heart in death-drops for her ; and go to Pluto, that she might go to Paradise . He would turn Turk before he would disown an allegiance hereditary to all gentlemen, from the hour their Grand Master, Adam, first knelt to Eve.
A plain-faced Queen of Spain dwells not in half the glory a beautiful milliner does. Her soldiers can break heads, but her Highness cannot crack a heart ; and the beautiful milliner might string hearts for necklaces. Undoubtedly, Beauty made the first Queen. If ever again the succession to the German Empire should be contested, and one poor lame lawyer should present the claims of the first excellingly beautiful woman he chanced to see she would thereupon be unanimously elected Empress of the Holy Roman German Empire ; that is to say, if all the Germans were true, free-hearted and magnanimous gentlemen, at all capable of appreciating so immense an honour.
It is nonsense to talk of France as the seat of all civility. Did not those French heathen have a [[w:Salique law|]]? Three of the most bewitching creatures—immortal flowers of the line of Valois—were excluded from the French throne by that infamous provision. France, indeed ! whose Catholic millions still worship Mary Queen of Heaven ; and for ten generations refused cap and knee to many angel Maries, rightful Queens of France. Here is cause for universal war. See how vilely nations, as well as men, assume and wear unchallenged the choicest titles, however without merit. The Americans, and not the French, are the world's models of chivalry. Our Salique law provides that universal homage shall be paid all beautiful women. No man's most solid rights shall weigh against her airiest whims. If you buy the best seat in the coach, to go and consult a doctor on a matter of life and death, you shall cheerfully abdicate that best seat, and limp away on foot, if a pretty woman, travelling, shake one feather from the stage-house door.
Now, since we began by talking of a certain young lady that went out riding with a certain youth ; and yet find ourselves, after leading such a merry dance, fast by a stage-house window ; this may seem rather irregular sort of writing. But whither indeed should Lucy Tartan conduct us, but among mighty Queens, and all other creatures of high degree ; and finally set us roaming, to see whether the wide world can match so fine a wonder. By immemorial usage, am I not bound to celebrate this Lucy Tartan ? Who shall stay me ? Is she not my hero's own affianced ? What can be gainsaid ? Where underneath the tester of the night sleeps such another ?
Yet, how would Lucy Tartan shrink from all this noise and clatter ! She is bragged of, but not brags. Thus far she hath floated as stilly through this life, as thistle- down floats over meadows. Noiseless, she, except with Pierre ; and even with him she lives through many a panting hush. Oh, those love-pauses that they know—how ominous of their future ; for pauses precede the earthquake, and every other terrible commotion ! But blue be their sky awhile, and lightsome all their chat, and frolicsome their humours.
Never shall I get down the vile inventory ! How, if with paper and with pencil I went out into the starry night to inventorise the heavens ? Who shall tell stars as teaspoons ? Who shall put down the charms of Lucy Tartan on paper ?
And for the rest ; her parentage, what fortune she would possess, how many dresses in her wardrobe, and how many rings upon her fingers ; cheerfully would I let the genealogists, tax-gatherers, and upholsterers attend to that. My proper province is with the angelical part of Lucy. But as in some quarters, there prevails a sort of prejudice against angels, who are merely angels and nothing more ; therefore I shall martyrise myself, by letting such gentlemen and ladies into some details of Lucy Tartan's history.
She was the daughter of an early and most cherished friend of Pierre's father. But that father was now dead, and she resided an only daughter with her mother, in a very fine house in the city. But though her home was in the city, her heart was twice a year in the country. She did not at all love the city and its empty, heartless, ceremonial ways. It was very strange, but most eloquently significant of her own natural angelhood that, though born among brick and mortar in a sea-port, she still pined for unbaked earth and inland grass. So the sweet linnet, though born inside of wires in a lady's chamber on the ocean coast, and ignorant all its life of any other spot ; yet, when spring-time comes, it is seized with flutterings and vague impatiences ; it cannot eat or drink for these wild longings. Though unlearned by any experience, still the inspired linnet divinely knows that the inland migrating time has come. And just so with Lucy in her first longings for the verdure. Every spring those wild flutterings shook her ; every spring, this sweet linnet girl did migrate inland. Oh God grant that those other and long after nameless flutterings of her inmost soul, when all life was become weary to her—God grant, that those deeper flutterings in her were equally significant of her final heavenly migration from this heavy earth.
It was fortunate for Lucy that her Aunt Llanyllyn—a pensive, childless, white-turbaned widow—possessed and occupied a pretty cottage in the village of Saddle Meadows ; and still more fortunate, that this excellent old aunt was very partial to her, and always felt a quiet delight in having Lucy near her. So Aunt Llanyllyn's cottage, in effect, was Lucy's. And now, for some years past, she had annually spent several months at Saddle Meadows ; and it was among the pure and soft incitements of the country that Pierre first had felt toward Lucy the dear passion which now made him wholly hers. Lucy had two brothers ; one her senior, by three years, and the other her junior by two. But these young men were officers in the navy ; and so they did not permanently live with Lucy and her mother.
Mrs. Tartan was mistress of an ample fortune. She was, moreover, perfectly aware that such was the fact, and was somewhat inclined to force it upon the notice of other people, nowise interested in the matter. In other words, Mrs. Tartan, instead of being daughter-proud, for which she had infinite reason, was a little inclined to being purse-proud, for which she had not the slightest reason ; seeing that the Great Mogul probably
possessed a larger fortune than she, not to speak of the Shah of Persia and Baron Rothschild, and a thousand other millionaires ; whereas, the Grand Turk, and all their other majesties of Europe, Asia, and Africa to boot, could not, in all their joint dominions, boast so sweet a girl as Lucy. Nevertheless, Mrs. Tartan was an excellent sort of lady, as this ladylike world goes. She subscribed to charities, and owned five pews in as many churches, and went about trying to promote the general felicity of the world, by making all the handsome young people of her acquaintance marry one another. In other words, she was a match-maker—not a Lucifer match-maker—though, to tell the truth, she may have kindled the matrimonial blues in certain dissatisfied gentlemen's breasts, who had been wedded under her particular auspices, and by her particular advice. Rumour said—but rumour is always fibbing—that there was a secret society of dissatisfied young husbands, who were at the pains of privately circulating handbills among all unmarried young strangers, warning them against the insidious approaches of Mrs. Tartan ; and, for reference, named themselves in cipher. But this could not have been true ; for, flushed with a thousand matches—burning blue or bright, it made little matter—Mrs. Tartan sailed the seas of fashion, causing all topsails to lower to her ; and towing flotillas of young ladies, for all of whom she was bound to find the finest husband harbours in the world.
But does not match-making, like charity, begin at home ? Why is her own daughter Lucy without a mate ? But not so fast ; Mrs. Tartan years ago laid out that sweet programme concerning Pierre and Lucy ; but in this case, her programme happened to coincide, in some degree, with a previous one in heaven, and only for that cause did it come to pass, that Pierre Glendinning was the proud elect of Lucy Tartan. Besides, this being a thing so nearly affecting herself, Mrs. Tartan had, for the most part, been rather circumspect and cautious in all her manoeuvrings with Pierre and Lucy. Moreover, the thing demanded no manoeuvring at all. The two Platonic particles, after roaming in quest of each other, from the time of Saturn and Ops till now ; they came together before Mrs. Tartan's own eyes ; and what more could Mrs. Tartan do toward making them forever one and indivisible ? Once, and only once, had a dim suspicion passed through Pierre's mind, that Mrs. Tartan was a lady thimble-rigger, and slyly rolled the pea.
In their less mature acquaintance, he was breakfasting with Lucy and her mother in the city, and the first cup of coffee had been poured out by Mrs. Tartan, when she declared she smelt matches burning somewhere in the house, and she must see them extinguished. So banning all pursuit, she rose to seek for the burning matches, leaving the pair alone to interchange the civilities of the coffee ; and finally sent word to them, from above-stairs, that the matches, or something else, had given her a headache, and begged Lucy to send her up some toast and tea, for she would breakfast in her own chamber that morning.
Upon this, Pierre looked from Lucy to his boots, and as he lifted his eyes again, saw Anacreon on the sofa on one side of him, and Moore's Melodies on the other, and some honey on the table, and a bit of white satin on the floor, and a sort of bride's veil on the chandelier.
Never mind though—thought Pierre, fixing his gaze on Lucy—I'm entirely willing to be caught, when the bait is set in Paradise, and the bait is such an angel. Again he glanced at Lucy, and saw a look of infinite subdued vexation, and some unwonted pallor on her cheek. Then willingly he would have kissed the delicious bait, that so gently hated to be tasted in the trap. But glancing round again, and seeing that the music, which Mrs. Tartan, under the pretence of putting in order, had been adjusting upon the piano ; seeing that this music was now in a vertical pile against the wall, with—' Love was once a little boy, ' for the outermost and only visible sheet ; and thinking this to be a remarkable coincidence under the circumstances ; Pierre could not refrain from a humorous smile, though it was a very gentle one, and immediately repented of, especially as Lucy seeing and interpreting it, immediately arose, with an unaccountable, indignant, angelical, adorable, and all-persuasive ' Mr. Glendinning ? ' utterly confounded in him the slightest germ of suspicion as to Lucy's collusion in her mother's imagined artifices.
Indeed, Mrs. Tartan's having anything whatever to do, or hint, or finesse in this matter of the loves of Pierre and Lucy, was nothing less than immensely gratuitous and sacrilegious. Would Mrs. Tartan doctor lilies when they blow ? Would Mrs. Tartan set about match-making between the steel and magnet ? Preposterous Mrs. Tartan ! But this whole world is a preposterous one, with many preposterous people in it ; chief among whom was Mrs. Tartan, match-maker to the nation.
This conduct of Mrs. Tartan, was the more absurd, seeing that she could not but know that Mrs. Glendinning desired the thing. And was not Lucy wealthy ?—going to be, that is, very wealthy when her mother died ;—(sad thought that for Mrs. Tartan) and was not her husband's family of the best ; and had not Lucy's father been a bosom friend of Pierre's father ? And though Lucy might be matched to some one man, where among women was the match for Lucy ? Exceedingly preposterous Mrs. Tartan ! But when a lady like Mrs. Tartan has nothing positive and useful to do, then she will do just such preposterous things as Mrs. Tartan did.
Well, time went on ; and Pierre loved Lucy, and Lucy, Pierre ; till at last the two young naval gentlemen, her brothers, happened to arrive in Mrs. Tartan's drawing- room from their first cruise—a three years' one up the Mediterranean. They rather stared at Pierre, finding him on the sofa, and Lucy not very remote.
'Pray, be seated, gentlemen,' said Pierre. ' Plenty of room.'
'My darling brothers ! ' cried Lucy, embracing them.
'My darling brothers and sister ! ' cried Pierre, folding them together.
'Pray, hold off, sir,' said the elder brother, who had served as a passed midshipman for the last two weeks. The younger brother retreated a little, and clapped his hand upon his dirk, saying, ' Sir, we are from the Mediterranean. Sir, permit me to say, this is decidedly improper ! Who may you be, sir ? '
'I can't explain for joy,' cried Pierre, hilariously em- bracing them all again.
'Most extraordinary ! ' cried the elder brother, extricating his shirt-collar from the embrace, and pulling it up vehemently.
'Draw ! ' cried the younger, intrepidly.
'Peace, foolish fellows,' cried Lucy—'this is your old playfellow, Pierre Glendinning.'
'Pierre ? why, Pierre ? ' cried the lads ' a hug all round again ! You 've grown a fathom ! who would have known you ? But, then—Lucy ? I say, Lucy ?—what business have you here in this—eh ? eh ?—hugging-match, I should call it ? '
'Oh ! Lucy don't mean anything,' cried Pierre—' come, one more all round.'
So they all embraced again ; and that evening it was publicly known that Pierre was to wed with Lucy.
Whereupon, the young officers took it upon themselves to think—though they by no means presumed to breathe it—that they had authoritatively, though indirectly, accelerated a before ambiguous and highly incommendable state of affairs between the now affianced lovers.
In the fine old robust times of Pierre's grandfather, an American gentleman of substantial person and fortune spent his time in a somewhat different style from the green-house gentlemen of the present day. The grandfather of Pierre measured six feet four inches in height ; during a fire in the old manorial mansion, with one dash of his foot, he had smitten down an oaken door, to admit the buckets of his negro slaves ; Pierre had often tried on his military vest, which still remained an heirloom at Saddle Meadows, and found the pockets below his knees, and plenty additional room for a fair-sized quarter-cask within its buttoned girth ; in a night-scuffle in the wilderness before the Revolutionary War, he had annihilated two Indian savages by making reciprocal bludgeons of their heads. And all this was done by the mildest hearted, and most blue-eyed gentleman in the world, who, according to the patriarchal fashion of those days, was a gentle, white-haired worshipper of all the household gods ; the gentlest husband, and the gentlest father ; the kindest of masters to his slaves ; of the most wonderful unruffledness of temper ; a serene smoker of his after-dinner pipe ; a forgiver of many injuries ; a sweet-hearted, charitable Christian ; in fine, a pure, cheerful, childlike, blue-eyed, divine old man ; in whose meek, majestic soul, the lion and the lamb embraced fit image of his God.
Never could Pierre look upon his fine military portrait without an infinite and mournful longing to meet his living aspect in actual life. The majestic sweetness of this portrait was truly wonderful in its effects upon any sensitive and generous-minded young observer. For such, that portrait possessed the heavenly persuasiveness of angelic speech ; a glorious gospel framed and hung upon the wall, and declaring to all people, as from the Mount, that man is a noble, godlike being, full of choicest juices ; made up of strength and beauty.
Now, this grand old Pierre Glendinning was a great lover of horses ; but not in the modern sense, for he was no jockey ;—one of his most intimate friends of the masculine gender was a huge, proud, gray horse, of a surprising reserve of manner, his saddle-beast ; he had his horses' mangers carved like old trenchers, out of solid maple logs ; the key of the corn-bin hung in his library ; and no one grained his steeds, but himself ; unless his absence from home promoted Moyar, an incorruptible and most punctual old black, to that honourable office. He said that no man loved his horses, unless his own hands grained them. Every Christmas he gave them brimming measures. 'I keep Christmas with my horses,' said grand old Pierre. This grand old Pierre always rose at sunrise ; washed his face and chest in the open air ; and then, returning to his closet, and being completely arrayed at last, stepped forth to make a ceremonious call at his stables, to bid his very honourable friends there a very good and joyful morning. Woe to Cranz, Kit, Douw, or any other of his stable slaves, if grand old Pierre found one horse unblanketed, or one weed among the hay that filled their rack. Not that he ever had Cranz, Kit, Douw, or any of them flogged—a thing unknown in that patriarchal time and country—but he would refuse to say his wonted pleasant word to them ; and that was very bitter to them, for Cranz, Kit, Douw, and all of them, loved grand old Pierre, as his shepherds loved old Abraham.
What decorous, lordly, gray-haired steed is this What old Chaldean rides abroad ?—Tis grand old Pierre ; who, every morning before he eats, goes out promenading with his saddle-beast ; nor mounts him, without first asking leave. But time glides on, and grand old Pierre grows old : his life's glorious grape now swells with fatness ; he has not the conscience to saddle his majestic beast with such a mighty load of manliness. Besides, the noble beast himself is growing old, and has a touching look of meditativeness in his large attentive eyes. Leg of man, swears grand old Pierre, shall never more bestride my steed ; no more shall harness touch him ! Then every spring he sowed a field with clover for his steed ; and at midsummer sorted all his meadow grasses, for the choicest hay to winter him ; and had his destined grain threshed out with a flail, whose handle had once borne a flag in a brisk battle, into which this same old steed had pranced with grand old Pierre ; one waving mane, one waving sword !
Now needs must grand old Pierre take a morning drive ; he rides no more with the old gray steed. He has a phaeton built, fit for a vast General, in whose sash three common men might hide. Doubled, trebled are the huge S-shaped leather springs ; the wheels seem stolen from some mill ; the canopied seat is like a testered bed. From beneath the old archway, not one horse, but two, every morning now draw forth old Pierre as the Chinese draw their fat god Josh, once every year from out his fane.
But time glides on, and a morning comes, when the phaeton emerges not ; but all the yards and courts are full ; helmets line the ways ; sword-points strike the stone steps of the porch ; muskets ring upon the stairs ; and mournful martial melodies are heard in all the halls. Grand old Pierre is dead ; and like a hero of old battles, he dies on the eve of another war ; ere wheeling to fire on the foe, his platoons fire over their old commander's grave ; in A.D. 1812, died grand old Pierre. The drum that beat in brass his funeral march, was a British kettle-drum, that had once helped beat the vain-glorious march, for the thirty thousand predestined prisoners, led into sure captivity by that bragging boy, Burgoyne.
Next day the old gray steed turned from his grain ; turned round, and vainly whinnied in his stall. By gracious Moyar's hand, he refuses to be patted now ; plain as horse can speak, the old gray steed says—'I smell not the wonted hand ; where is grand old Pierre ? Grain me not, and groom me not ; where is grand old Pierre ? '
He sleeps not far from his master now ; beneath the field he cropt, he has softly lain him down ; and long ere this, grand old Pierre and steed have passed through that grass to glory.
But his phaeton, like his plumed hearse, outlives the noble load it bore. And the dark bay steeds that drew grand old Pierre alive, and by his testament drew him dead, and followed the lordly lead of the led gray horse; those dark bay steeds are still extant ; not in themselves or in their issue ; but in the two descendants of stallions of their own breed. For on the lands of Saddle Meadows, man and horse are both hereditary ; and this bright morning Pierre Glendinning, grandson of grand old Pierre, now drives forth with Lucy Tartan, seated where his own ancestor had sat, and reining steeds, whose great-great-great-grandfathers grand old Pierre had reined before.
How proud felt Pierre : in fancy's eye, he saw the horse-ghosts a-tandem in the van ; ' These are but wheelers,' cried young Pierre—'the leaders are the generations.'
But Love has more to do with his own possible and prob- able posterities, than with the once living but now impossible ancestries in the past. So Pierre's glow of family pride quickly gave place to a deeper hue, when Lucy bade Love's banner blush out from his cheek.
That morning was the choicest drop that Time has in his vase. Ineffable distillations of a soft delight were wafted from the fields and hills. Fatal morning that, to all lovers unbetrothed ; ' Come to your confessional,' it cried. ' Behold our airy loves,' the birds chirped from the trees ; far out at sea, no more the sailors tied their bowline-knots ; their hands had lost then* cunning ; will they, nill they, Love tied love-knots on every spangled spar.
Oh, praised be the beauty of this earth ; the beauty, and the bloom, and the mirthfulness thereof ! The first worlds made were winter worlds ; the second made, were vernal worlds ; the third, and last, and perfectest, was this summer world of ours. In the cold and nether spheres preachers preach of earth, as we of Paradise above. Oh, there, my friends, they say, they have a season, in their language known as summer. Then their fields spin themselves green carpets ; snow and ice are not in all the land ; then a million, strange, bright, fragrant things powder that sward with perfumes ; and high, majestic beings, dumb and grand, stand up with outstretched arms, and hold their green canopies over merry angels—men and women who love and wed, and sleep and dream, beneath the approving glances of their visible god and goddess, glad-hearted sun, and pensive moon !
Oh, praised be the beauty of this earth ; the beauty, and the bloom, and the mirthfulness thereof ! We lived before, and shall live again ; and as we hope for a fairer world than this to come ; so we came from one less fine. From each successive world, the demon Principle is more and more dislodged ; he is the accursed clog from chaos, and thither, by every new translation, we drive him further and further back again. Hosannahs to this world ! so beautiful itself, and the vestibule to more. Out of some past Egypt, we have come to this new Canaan; and from this new Canaan, we press on to some Circassia. Though still the villains, Want and Woe, followed us out of Egypt, and now beg in Canaan's streets : yet Circassia's gates shall not admit them ; they, with their sire, the demon Principle, must back to chaos, whence they came.
Love was first begot by Mirth and Peace, in Eden, when the world was young. The man oppressed with cares, he cannot love ; the man of gloom finds not the god. So, as youth, for the most part, has no cares, and knows no gloom, therefore, ever since time did begin, youth belongs to love. Love may end in grief and age, and pain and need, and all other modes of human mournfulness ; but love begins in joy. Love's first sigh is never breathed, till after Love hath laughed. Love laughs first, and then sighs after. Love has not hands, but cymbals ; Love's mouth is chambered like a bugle, and the instinctive breathings of his life breathe jubilee notes of joy !
That morning, two bay horses drew two Laughs along the road that led to the hills from Saddle Meadows. Apt time they kept ; Pierre Glendinning's young, manly tenor, to Lucy Tartan's girlish treble.
Wondrous fair of face, blue-eyed, and golden-haired, the bright blonde, Lucy, was arrayed in colours harmonious with the heavens. Light blue be thy perpetual colour, Lucy ; light blue becomes thee best—such the repeated azure counsel of Lucy Tartan's mother. On both sides, from the hedges, came to Pierre the clover bloom of Saddle Meadows, and from Lucy's mouth and cheek came the fresh fragrance of her violet young being.
'Smell I the flowers, or thee ? ' cried Pierre.
'See I lakes, or eyes ? ' cried Lucy, her own gazing down into his soul, as two stars gaze down into a tarn.
No Cornwall miner ever sunk so deep a shaft beneath the sea, as Love will sink beneath the floatings of the eyes. Love sees ten million fathoms down, till dazzled by the floor of pearls. The eye is Love's own magic glass, where all things that are not of earth, glide in supernatural light. There are not so many fishes in the sea, as there are sweet images in lovers' eyes. In those miraculous translucencies swim the strange eye-fish with wings, that sometimes leap out, instinct with 'joy ; moist fish-wings wet the lover's cheek. Love's eyes are holy things ; therein the mysteries of life are lodged ; looking in each other's eyes, lovers see the ultimate secret of the worlds ; and with thrills eternally untranslatable, feel that Love is god of all. Man or woman who has never loved, nor once looked deep down into their own lover's eyes, they know not the sweetest and the loftiest religion of this earth. Love is both Creator's and Saviour's gospel to mankind ; a volume bound in rose-leaves, clasped with violets, and by the beaks of humming-birds printed with peach- juice on the leaves of lilies.
Endless is the account of Love. Time and space cannot contain Love's story. All things that are sweet to see, or taste, or feel, or hear, all these things were made by Love ; and none other things were made by Love. Love made not the Arctic zones, but Love is ever reclaiming them. Say, are not the fierce things of this earth daily, hourly going out ? Where now are your wolves of Britain ? Where in Virginia now, find you the panther and the pard? Oh, Love is busy everywhere. Everywhere Love hath Moravian missionaries. No Propagandist like to Love. The south wind woos the barbarous north ; on many a distant shore the gentler west wind persuades the arid east.
All this Earth is Love's affianced ; vainly the demon Principle howls to stay the banns. Why round her middle wears this world so rich a zone of torrid verdure, if she be not dressing for the final rites ? And why provides she orange blossoms arid lilies of the valley, if she would not that all men and maids should love and marry ? For every wedding where true lovers wed, helps on the march of universal Love. Who are brides here shall be Love's bridesmaids in the marriage world to come. So on all sides Love allures ; can contain himself what youth who views the wonders of the beauteous woman- world ? Where a beautiful woman is, there is all Asia and her Bazaars. Italy hath not a sight before the beauty of a Yankee girl ; nor heaven a blessing beyond her earthly love. Did not the angelical Lotharios come down to earth, that they might taste of mortal woman's Love and Beauty ? even while her own silly brothers were pining after the self-same Paradise they left ? Yes, those envying angels did come down ; did emigrate ; and who emigrates except to be better off ?
Love is this world's great redeemer and reformer ; and as all beautiful women are her selectest emissaries, so hath Love gifted them with a magnetical persuasiveness, that no youth can possibly repel. The own heart's choice of every youth seems ever as an inscrutable witch to him ; and by ten thousand concentric spells and circling incantations, glides round and round him, as he turns : murmuring meanings of unearthly import ; and summoning up to him all the subterranean sprites and gnomes ; and unpeopling all the sea for naiads to swim round him ; so that mysteries are evoked as in exhalations by this Love ;—what wonder then that Love was aye a mystic ?
And this self-same morning Pierre was very mystical ; not continually, though ; but most mystical one moment, and overflowing with mad, unbridled merriment, the next. He seemed a youthful Magian, and almost a mountebank together. Chaldaic improvisations burst from him, in quick Golden Verses, on the heel of humorous retort and repartee. More especially, the bright glance of Lucy was transporting to him. Now, reckless of his horses, with both arms holding Lucy in his embrace, like a Sicilian diver he dives deep down in the Adriatic of her eyes, and brings up some king's-cup of joy. All the waves in Lucy's eyes seemed waves of infinite glee to him. And as if, like veritable seas, they did indeed catch the reflected irradiations of that peUucid azure morning; in Lucy's eyes, there seemed to shine all the blue glory of the general day, and all the sweet inscrutableness of the sky. And certainly, the blue eye of woman, like the sea, is not uninfluenced by the atmosphere. Only in the open air of some divinest, summer day, will you see its ultramarine,—its fluid lapis lazuli. Then would Pierre burst forth in some screaming shout of joy ; and the striped tigers of his chestnut eyes leaped in their lashed cages with a fierce delight. Lucy shrank from him in extreme love ; for the extremest top of love, is Fear and Wonder.
Soon the swift horses drew this fair god and goddess nigh the wooded hills, whose distant blue, now changed into a variously shaded green, stood before them like old Babylonian walls, overgrown with verdure ; , while here and there, at regular intervals, the scattered peaks seemed mural towers ; and the clumped pines surmounting them, as lofty archers, and vast, out-looking watchers of the glorious Babylonian City of the Day. Catching that hilly air, the prancing horses neighed ; laughed on the ground with gleeful feet. Felt they the gay, delightsome spurrings of the day ; for the day was mad with excessive joy ; and high in heaven you heard the neighing of the horses of the sun ; and down dropped their nostrils' froth in many a fleecy vapour from the hills.
From the plains, the mists rose slowly ; reluctant yet to quit so fair a mead. At those green slopings, Pierre reined in his steeds, and soon the twain were seated on the bank, gazing far, and far away ; over many a grove and lake ; corn-crested uplands, and Herd's-grass low-lands ; and long-stretching swales of vividest green, betokening where the greenest bounty of this earth seeks its winding channels ; as ever, the most heavenly bounteousness most seeks the lowly places ; making green and glad many a humble mortal's breast, and leaving to his own lonely aridness, many a hill-top prince's state.
But Grief, not Joy, is a moraliser ; and small moralising wisdom caught Pierre from that scene. With Lucy's hand in his, and feeling, softly feeling of its soft tinglingness ; he seemed as one placed in linked correspondence with the summer lightnings ; and by sweet shock on shock, receiving intimating foretastes of the etherealest delights of earth.
Now, prone on the grass he falls, with his attentive, upward glance fixed on Lucy's eyes. 'Thou art my heaven, Lucy ; and here I lie thy shepherd-king, watching for new eye-stars to rise in thee. Ha ! I see Venus' transit now ; lo ! a new planet there ; and behind all, an infinite starry nebulousness, as if thy being were backgrounded by some spangled veil of mystery.'
Is Lucy deaf to all these ravings of his lyric love ? Why looks she down and vibrates so ; and why now from her over-charged lids, drops such warm drops as these ? No joy now in Lucy's eyes and seeming tremor on her lips. 'Ah ! thou too ardent and impetuous Pierre ! '
'Nay, thou too moist and changeful April ! know'st thou not, that the moist and changeful April is followed by the glad, assured, and showerless joy of June ? And this, Lucy, this day should be thy June, even as it is the earth's ? '
'Ah, Pierre ! not June to me. But say, are not the sweets of June made sweet by the April tears ? '
'Ay, love ! but here fall more drops,—more and more ;—these showers are longer than beseem the April, and pertain not to the June.'
'June ! June !—thou bride's month of the summer,—following the spring's sweet courtship of the earth, my June, my June is yet to come ! '
'Oh ! yet to come, but fixedly decreed ; good—as come, and better.'
'Then no flower that, in the bud, the April showers have nurtured ; no such flower may untimely perish, ere the June unfolds it ? Ye will not swear that, Pierre?'
'The audacious immortalities of divinest love are in me ; and I now swear to thee all the immutable eternities of joyfulness, that ever woman dreamed of, in this dream-house of the earth. A god decrees to thee unchangeable felicity ; and to me, the unchallenged possession of thee and them, for my inalienable fief.—Do I rave ? Look on me, Lucy ; think on me, girl.'
'Thou art young, and beautiful, and strong ; and a joyful manliness invests thee, Pierre ; and thy intrepid heart never yet felt the touch of fear ;—But——'
'But what ? '
'Ah, my best Pierre ! '
'With kisses I will suck thy secret from thy cheek !—but what ? '
'Let us hie homeward, Pierre. Some nameless sadness, faintness, strangely comes to me. Foretaste I feel of endless dreariness. Tell me once more the story of that face, Pierre, that mysterious, haunting face, which thou once told'st me, thou didst thrice vainly try to shun. Blue is the sky, oh, bland the air, Pierre ;—but—tell me the story of the face, the dark-eyed, lustrous, imploring, mournful face, that so mystically paled, and shrunk at thine. Ah, Pierre, sometimes I have thought,—never will I wed with my best Pierre, until the riddle of that face be known. Tell me, tell me, Pierre ;—as a fixed basilisk, with eyes of steady, flaming mournfulness, that face this instant fastens me.'
'Bewitched ! bewitched !—Cursed be the hour I acted on the thought, that Love hath no reserves. Never should I have told thee the story of that face, Lucy. I have bared myself too much to thee. Oh, never should Love know all ! '
'Knows not all, then loves not all, Pierre. Never shalt thou so say again ;—and Pierre, listen to me. Now,—now, in this inexplicable trepidation that I feel, I do conjure thee, that thou wilt ever continue to do as thou hast done ; so that I may ever continue to know all that agitatest thee, the airiest and most transient thought, that ever shall sweep into thee from the wide atmosphere of all things that hem mortality. Did I doubt thee here ;—could I ever think, that thy heart hath yet one private nook or corner from me ; fatal disenchanting day for me, my Pierre, would that be. I tell thee, Pierre—and 'tis Love's own self that now speaks through me—only in unbounded confidence and interchangings of all subtlest secrets, can Love possibly endure. Love's self is a secret, and so feeds on secrets, Pierre. Did I only know of thee, what the whole common world may know—what then were Pierre to me ?— Thou must be wholly a disclosed secret to me ; Love is vain and proud ; and when I walk the streets, and meet thy friends, I must still be laughing and hugging to myself the thought,—They know him not ;—I only know my Pierre ;—none else beneath the circuit of yon sun. Then, swear to me, dear Pierre, that thou wilt never keep a secret from me no,—never, never ;—swear ! '
'Something seizes me. Thy inexplicable tears, falling, falling on my heart, have now turned it to a stone. I feel icy cold and hard ; I will not swear '. '
'Pierre ! Pierre ! '
'God help thee, and God help me, Lucy. I cannot think, that in this most mild and dulcet air, the invisible agencies are plotting treasons against our loves. Oh ! if ye be now nigh us, ye things I have no name for ; then by a name that should be efficacious—by Christ's holy name, I warn ye back from her and me. Touch her not, ye airy devils ; hence to your appointed hell ! why come ye prowling in these heavenly purlieus ? Cannot the chains of Love omnipotent bind ye, fiends ? '
'Is this Pierre ? His eyes glare fearfully ; now I see layer on layer deeper in him ; he turns round and menaces the air and talks to it, as if defied by the air. Woe is me, that fairy love should raise this evil spell !—Pierre?'
'But now I was infinite distances from thee, oh my Lucy, wandering baffled in the choking night ; but thy voice might find me, though I had wandered to the Boreal realm, Lucy. Here I sit down by thee ; I catch a soothing from thee.'
'My own, own Pierre ! Pierre, into ten trillion pieces I could now be torn for thee ; in my bosom would yet hide thee, and there keep thee warm, though I sat down on Arctic ice-floes, frozen to a corpse. My own, best, blessed Pierre ! Now, could I plant some poniard in me, that my silly ailings should have power to move thee thus, and pain thee thus. Forgive me, Pierre ; thy changed face hath chased the other from me ; the fright of thee exceeds all other frights. It does not so haunt me now. Press hard my hand ; look hard on me, my love, that its last trace may pass away. Now I feel almost whole again ; now, 'tis gone. Up, my Pierre ; let us up, and fly these hills, whence, I fear, too wide a prospect meets us. Fly we to the plain. See, thy steeds neigh for thee—they call thee—see, the clouds fly down toward the plain—lo, these hills now seem all desolate to me, and the vale all verdure. Thank thee, Pierre.—See, now, I quit the hills, dry-cheeked ; and leave all tears behind to be sucked in by these evergreens, meet emblems of the unchanging love, my own sadness nourishes in me. Hard fate, that Love's best verdure should feed so on tears ! '
Now they rolled swiftly down the slopes ; nor tempted the upper hills ; but sped fast for the plain. Now the cloud hath passed from Lucy's eye ; no more the lurid slanting light forks upward from her lover's brow. In the plain they find peace, and love, and joy again.
'It was the merest, idling, wanton vapour, Lucy ! '
'An empty echo, Pierre, of a sad sound, long past. Bless thee, my Pierre ! '
'The great God wrap thee ever, Lucy. So, now, we are home.'
After seeing Lucy into her aunt's most cheerful parlour, and seating her by the honeysuckle that half clambered into the window there ; and near to which was her easel for crayon-sketching, upon part of whose frame Lucy had cunningly trained two slender vines, into whose earth-filled pots two of the three legs of the easel were inserted ; and sitting down himself by her, and by his pleasant, lightsome chat, striving to chase the last trace of sadness from her ; and not till his object seemed fully gained ; Pierre rose to call her good aunt to her, and so take his leave till evening, when Lucy called him back, begging him first to bring her the blue portfolio from her chamber, for she wished to kill her last lingering melancholy—if any indeed did linger now—by diverting her thoughts, in a little pencil sketch, to scenes widely different from those of Saddle Meadows and its hills.
So Pierre went upstairs, but paused on the threshold of the open door. He never had entered that chamber but with feelings of a wonderful reverentialness. The carpet seemed as holy ground. Every chair seemed sanctified by some departed saint, there once seated long ago. Here his book of Love was all a rubric, and said—Bow now, Pierre, bow. But this extreme loyalty to the piety of love, called from him by such glimpses of its most secret inner shrine, was not unrelieved betimes by such quickenings of all his pulses, that in fantasy he pressed the wide beauty of the world in his embracing arms ; for all his world resolved itself into his heart's best love for Lucy.
Now, crossing the magic silence of the empty chamber, he caught the snow-white bed reflected in the toilet-glass. This rooted him. For one swift instant, he seemed to see in that one glance the two separate beds—the real one and the reflected one—and an unbidden, most miserable presentiment thereupon stole into him. But in one breath it came and went. So he advanced, and with a fond and gentle joyfulness, his eye now fell upon the spotless bed itself, and fastened on a snow-white roll that lay beside the pillow. Now he started ; Lucy seemed coming in upon him ; but no—'tis only the foot of one of her little slippers, just peeping into view from under the narrow nether curtains of the bed. Then again his glance fixed itself upon the slender, snow-white, ruffled roll ; and he stood as one enchanted. Never precious parchment of the Greek was half so precious in his eyes. Never trembling scholar longed to unroll the mystic vellum, than Pierre longed to unroll the sacred secrets of that snow-white, ruffled thing. But his hands touched not any object in that chamber, except the one he had gone thither for.
'Here is the blue portfolio, Lucy. See, the key hangs to its silver lock ;—were you not fearful I would open it ?—'twas tempting, I must confess.'
'Open it ! ' said Lucy—'why, yes, Pierre, yes ; what secret thing keep I from thee ? Read me through and through. I am entirely thine. See ! ' and tossing open the portfolio, all manner of rosy things came floating from it, and a most delicate perfume of some invisible essence.
'Ah ! thou holy angel, Lucy ! '
'Why, Pierre, thou art transfigured ; thou now lookest as one who—why, Pierre ? '
'As one who had just peeped in at paradise, Lucy ; and—'
'Again wandering in thy mind, Pierre ; no more—Come, you must leave me, now. I am quite rested again. Quick, call my aunt, and leave me. Stay, this evening we are to look over the book of plates from the city, you know. Be early ;—go now, Pierre.'
' Well, good-bye, till evening, thou height of all delight.'
As Pierre drove through the silent village, beneath the vertical shadows of the noon-day trees, the sweet chamber scene abandoned him, and the mystical face recurred to him, and kept with him. At last, arrived at home, he found his mother absent ; so passing straight through the wide middle hall of the mansion, he descended the piazza on the other side, and wandered away in reveries down to the river bank.
Here one primeval pine-tree had been luckily left standing by the otherwise unsparing woodmen, who long ago had cleared that meadow. It was once crossing to this noble pine, from a clump of hemlocks far across the river, that Pierre had first noticed the significant fact, that while the hemlock and the pine are trees of equal growth and stature, and are so similar in their general aspect, that people unused to woods sometimes confound them ; and while both trees are proverbially trees of sadness, yet the dark hemlock hath no music in its thoughtful boughs ; but the gentle pine-tree drops melodious mournfulness.
At its half-bared roots of sadness, Pierre sat down, and marked the mighty bulk and far out-reaching length of one particular root, which, straying down the bank, the storms and rains had years ago exposed.
'How wide, how strong these roots must spread ! Sure, this pine-tree takes powerful hold of this fair earth ! Yon bright flower hath not so deep a root. This tree hath outlived a century of that gay flower's generations, and will outlive a century of them yet to come. This is most sad. Hark, now I hear the pyramidical and numberless, flame-like complainings of this Eolean pine ;—the wind breathes now upon it :—the wind,—that is God's breath ! Is He so sad ? Oh, tree ! so mighty thou, so lofty, yet so mournful ! This is most strange ! Hark ! as I look up into thy high secrecies, oh tree, the face, the face, peeps down on me !—"Art thou Pierre ? Come to me "—oh, thou mysterious girl, what an ill-matched pendant thou, to that other countenance of sweet Lucy, which also hangs, and first did hang within my heart ! Is grief a pendant then to pleasantness ? Is grief a self-willed guest that will come in ? Yet I have never known thee, Grief ; thou art a legend to me. I have known some fiery broils of glorious frenzy ; I have oft tasted of revery ; whence comes pensiveness ; whence comes sadness ; whence all delicious poetic presentiments ;—but thou, Grief ! art still a ghost-story to me. I know thee not,—do half disbelieve in thee. Not that I would be without my too little cherished fits of sadness now and then ; but God keep me from thee, thou other shape of far profounder gloom ! I shudder at thee ! The face !—the face !—forth again from thy high secrecies, oh tree ! the face steals down upon me. Mysterious girl ! who art thou ? by what right snatchest thou thus my deepest thoughts ? Take thy thin fingers from me ;—I am affianced, and not to thee. Leave me !—what share hast thou in me ? Surely, thou lovest not me ?—that were most miserable for thee, and me, and Lucy. It cannot be. What, who art thou ? Oh ! wretched vagueness—too familiar to me, yet inexplicable,—unknown, utterly unknown ! I seem to founder in this perplexity. Thou seemest to know somewhat of me, that I know not of myself what is it then ? If thou hast a secret in thy eyes of mournful mystery, out with it ; Pierre demands it ; what is that thou hast veiled in thee so imperfectly, that I seem to see its motion, but not its form ? It visibly rustles behind the concealing screen. Now, never into the soul of Pierre, stole there before, a muffledness like this ! If aught really lurks in it, ye sovereign powers that claim all my leal worshippings, I conjure ye to lift the veil ; I must see it face to face. Tread I on a mine, warn me ; advance I on a precipice, hold me back ; but abandon me to an unknown misery, that it shall suddenly seize me, and possess me, wholly—that ye will never do ; else, Pierre's fond faith in ye—now clean, untouched—may clean depart ; and give me up to be a railing atheist. Ah, now the face departs. Pray heaven it hath not only stolen back, and hidden again in thy high secrecies, oh tree ! But 'tis gone—gone entirely gone ; and I thank God, and I feel joy again ; joy, which I also feel to be my right as man ; deprived of joy, I feel I should find cause for deadly feuds with things invisible. Ha ! a coat of iron mail seems to grow round, and husk me now ; and I have heard, that the bitterest winters are foretold by a thicker husk upon the Indian corn ; so our old farmers say. But 'tis a dark similitude. Quit thy analogies ; sweet in the orator's mouth, bitter in the thinker's belly. Now, then, I '11 up with my own joyful will ; and with my joy's face scare away all phantoms :—so, they go ; and Pierre is Joy's, and Life's again. Thou pine-tree !—henceforth I will resist thy too treacherous persuasiveness. Thou 'It not so often woo me to thy airy tent, to ponder on the gloomy rooted stakes that bind it. Hence now I go ; and peace be with thee, pine ! That blessed sereneness which lurks ever at the heart of sadness—mere sadness—and remains when all the rest has gone ;—that sweet feeling is now mine, and cheaply mine. I am not sorry I was sad, I feel so blessed now. Dearest Lucy !—well, well ;—'twill be a pretty time we'll have this evening ; there's the book of Flemish prints—that first we must look over ; then, second, is Flaxman's Homer—clear-cut outlines, yet full of unadorned barbaric nobleness. Then Flaxman's Dante ;—Dante ! Night's and Hell's poet he. No, we will not open Dante. Methinks now the face—the face—minds me a little of pensive, sweet Francesca's face—or, rather, as it had been Francesca's daughter's face—wafted on the sad dark wind, toward observant Virgil and the blistered Florentine. No, we will not open Flaxman's Dante. Francesca's mournful face is now ideal to me. Flaxman might evoke it wholly—make it present in lines of misery—bewitching power. No ! I will not open Flaxman's Dante ! Damned be the hour I read in Dante ! more damned than that wherein Paolo and Francesca read in fatal Launcelot ! '