Page:Sappho and the Vigil of Venus (1920).djvu/18

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Readers who know something of the passionate attachments between girls at school and college, of their adoration for each other and their teachers, will not think it strange that we find evidence in these poems of similar links of love between Sappho and some of her girl-students, that we find records of rapturous happiness, of adoring worship, of burning reproaches, passioning and thrilling through these immortal lines. Human nature has not changed in five-and-twenty centuries. Disraeli, in Coningsby, wrote: "At school, friendship is a passion. It entrances the being; it tears the soul. All loves of after life can never bring its rapture or its wretchedness; no bliss so absorbing, no pangs of jealousy or despair so crushing and so keen! What tenderness and what devotion; what illimitable confidence; infinite revelations of inmost thoughts; what ecstatic present and romantic future; what bitter estrangements and what melting reconciliations; what scenes of wild recrimination, agitating explanations, passionate correspondence; what insane sensitiveness, and what frantic sensibility; what earthquakes of the heart and whirlwinds of the soul are confined in that simple phrase—a school-friendship!" Those words might have been penned by one who had been listening to the echoes that have pealed down the corridors of time from those halls where gathered the girl-friends of Sappho.

But in after-ages, when nameless vices became rife in Greece, and when the days of intellectual queens at Lesbos were no more, and the degraded