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CHAPTER XIV. A CHAPTER ON LOVE.




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LOVE is an old threadbare subject in print; but it is ever present, ever fresh, ever beautiful in real life. It in fact forms a part of the vast unfathomable depths of poetry. Poetry, who can afford a legitimate definition of what it means? Poetry itself is old in books, but ever varied, ever new, ever present in the world. Some have regarded poetry as an idle art; many men have written books of rhyme, who might have been better engaged in acquiring useful knowledge; yet that cannot be urged against poetry which is genuine, and often devotional feeling. The intense reverence which the uneducated peasant feels for his Maker is poetry of the most beautiful description. "The ladder which Jacob saw in his dream" says Richard Howitt in a letter published in the Port Phillip Gazette, "was poetry," and indeed he might have added that the whole of the Bible records sparkle with the most sublime, the most brilliant poetical effusions. Milton copied but from the Bible, and he has been placed in the temple of Apollo first—no mean honour. We find, then, that poetry and love are human feelings, and that wherever human beings are they will love.

It is true that love is a more ardent, potent, refined, and hallowed feeling among the highly civilised and the educated than among the vulgar or semi-barbarous.


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Poetry sheds an illusory colouring over the loved one; happiness is present only where that one is; we cannot trace the feeling any farther than to poetry, for all genuine feeling is poetry. Have any of our readers—our young readers—at any time dreamed of some one they loved, and enjoyed a pleasure such as the dull world, with all its learning, grandeur, and pleasures, cannot grant? Richard Howitt has named this feeling in “Sleep's Phantasy.”He says—

“I had a deep and pleasant sleep,
And such a dream of joy I dreamt;
If I such mood awake could keep,
My life would be from care exempt,
And this dull world of dreary hours”

We introduce a chapter on love with this apology. However diffident, we must proceed with our history.

“What signifies the life of man,
An' 'twere na for the lasses, oh?”

So writes Burns, a natural poet, and a person who possessed considerable literary attainments; and we ask the young reader, what would be the use of writing a biography unless a true account be given of the loves of the person we are endeavouring to crown with immortality? Without this, it would be but a dry record; when it is found, the dry bones are reanimated; it is like the comparison of Shelley's lovely woman— “There was a lady beautiful as morning,
Sitting beneath rocks upon the sand
Of the waste sea—fair as one flower adorning
An icy wilderness.”




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The many journeys which Arabin had to perform from town to his station were very convenient for cementing the friendship accidentally formed with Mr. Butler and his family. When he was upon his own station, he was dull, with not a creature to speak to. He had often tried to devote the evenings to study, but he could not bring his mind into the proper frame out of his own little parlour where he was accustomed to read and write. He could not smoke or drink, and he would soon have become half insane but for the kind neighbours. He often tried to spend the evening with them; and indeed he began insensibly to be unhappy every hour in the day when absent. Time stole on, and his visits were more frequent. At last he was unable to disguise the truth even from himself —he was in love.

We have already mentioned the young lady, but done scanty justice to her merits. We shall not even attempt to enter into their detail. For some time after she was introduced to the “Bushranger”—for our readers must remember that he was introduced to her as a professional of that character—she did not look upon him in the light of a lover, but soon “She knew,
For quickly comes such knowledge, that his heart
Was darken'd with her shadow.”

And she did not discover this with indifference. We must tell the truth, that she had already a sincere regard for him, and at every visit she found out new beauties in his mind. As his character had never been tainted with the breath of slander, her sister and


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her sister's husband favoured him. Everything went forward prosperously, and Arabin had so far changed his opinion that he now said he should be well contented to remain in Australia during the remainder of his existence, if—he did not finish the sentence, and we can only guess at the qualification.

We must bring this chapter to a conclusion. We beg to give the history of Arabin's first love as he recited it one evening, when alone with Mr. Butler, in his most humorous style.

“The first person I fell in love with was the sister of the wife of an old friend; rather singular, by-the-bye. She was an old, young lady, with all the prim airs of a fine woman, which took with me most astonishingly; in the same manner that Miss Cecilia Stubbs captivated the heir of Waverley Honor, did the superannuated beauty cast her spells over me. I can remember to this hour her well-worn black silk dress and dingy straw bonnet, and how she paraded in an old cap adorned with blue ribands in the drawing-room. I was mad with love. It is of little purpose to add whether the belle returned the passion; I believe she did at first, because I bad been misrepresented as a rich young doctor and a great catch. She sighed, and returned my amorous looks. I wrote her amorous songs, after the fashion of Barry Cornwall's pieces of poetry: one compared her to the flower of Arabia, which flattered her exceedingly. At last my passion could no longer be controlled; I tried once or twice to speak it, but I could only think it, for my face grew pale and the words died on my lips. At last I was unable to eat or live, and I determined


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to write my sentiments, being unable to screw my courage to the sticking-point. The letter I still have; I retained it as a literary curiosity—in its way it most decidedly is one. I have it in my pocket; I shall read it—let it speak for itself.

‘DEAR MADAM,

‘As I have often wished to speak to you on a subject nearest my heart, but not having the power, I write you this line. I love you, and if you like to cast in your lot with me, I have no doubt we shall be happy for life. I have little but my profession and an unimpeached character, but think there is little doubt we shall be happy in our little way. Please give me an answer as soon as convenient, and we will talk over our little arrangements. If you should not incline to my suit, please return me this note.

‘I am, Madam,

‘Yours for ever and ever,

‘ARABIN’

“Well, my lady-love read this letter, and went to her sister. That worthy lady came as a delegate from her to me, and expressed her general approval of the match, and cross-examined me about the means I had to support her when we were married. I seemed to take this in good part; I however would not reply then, but gave her an evasive answer. I promised to make a full explanation of the money I had, and my future prospects, after, and the matter stood over. They waited patiently for a week or two, but I was silent, for, in truth, I had become sick of them; my lady-love became suspicious, and, to be beforehand with me, returned my note and declined my offer—the offer she had conditionally accepted before. How it must have stuck in her throat! I took a curious mode to revenge


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myself. I called once, and only once, again, and made them believe I had just received my uncle's fortune, who was in India, and very rich. I left them bursting with jealousy, which they vainly endeavoured to conceal under an air of indifference. I was young then, and had but little experience of the world: I have to thank my lucky stars that I escaped the worst at that time. I think many have been ruined by marrying when very young. There is a noble ambition in the young, which wears down after marriage; although it is impossible to dispute that it is an honourable state. I should not allow any child of mine, with brilliant abilities, either to marry or go into the Colonies. There is much of enthusiasm in genius which should be fostered, and marriage injures the poetic fire, which ought to be studiously preserved, because there is frequently only a shade of difference between a genius and an enthusiast.”

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