Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion AHAVA Hero Products 250x250

בס"ד

The Triumph of Love

(Concluded from p. 414.)

By Grace Aguilar

“The will of the Eternal,” he said in answer, “produced at the same instant these lovely beings, and breathed into both the <<456>> spirit which thou seest. Their souls are twin-born—twin-born in sensation, in power, in beauty, formed of the highest, most ethereal essence, and thus creating that which earth terms genius; destined at the same moment to animate the beautiful habitation formed for each, and at the same moment depart from it. Until now, their fate hath been, with little variation, the same, differing only according to their station: the one standing amidst the highest and noblest of her land, findeth fit companions, for that nobleness and refinement, indivisible from genius; the other already feeleth there is that within her incomprehensible to those around her; yet is the consciousness of little moment, for freely and joyously she roams amid the varied scenes of nature. She mingles but with those eager and anxious to enhance her innocent pleasures,—to give to her exalted mind and gentle virtues the homage naturally their due. She looks on the world from a distance, and hath peopled it with all things fond, and bright, and beautiful, which take their exquisite colouring from her own lovely and loving mind. She yearns for appre­ciation, as thou seest—for the praise of the multitude won by her talents, but she asks not to mingle with them. She seeks but the love of one, and the proud consciousness of doing good to many. She demands not a statelier home, a prouder station. Thus, then, thou seest the earthly fate of these twin-born spirits hath rolled on the same;—but now it is the will of the All-wise, All-merciful, All-just, that a shadowy change should pass over the one, and bliss, fuller, dearer, perfect as earth may feel, be dawning for the other. Thou halt marked the quick throb of joy, now playing on the heart of the noble child of genius. She beholds her first triumph in the book she clasps. The thoughts that breathe, the words that burn, have found their echo in the multitude, and loving friends throng around to proclaim her dawning fame. There are tears in those lovely eyes; but ‘tis a mother's voice of love, of tenderness, that calls them there. See, clasped to a parent’s bosom, the swelling fullness of the spirit finds vent in tears, for joy, that pure, stainless joy. which is sent as the dim whisperings of heaven, ever turns to pain on earth and had it not relief in tears, would bear the soul away <<457>> to that world of which it speaks. She hath flown from the detaining throng, and hark!—hearest thou not the hymn of thanksgiving ascending upon high, till the tumultuous joy subsides, and peace is gained once more.”

He ceased; a brighter radiance passed over his benignant brow, and the voice of the seraph spontaneously flowed forth in kindred harmony with the hymn of earth, bearing it on the wings of melody to the realms of song. ‘Twas hushed, and the Hierarch again spake.

“Behold!” he said, the music of his voice subdued and softened, “Behold, yet murmur not! It is the will of the Eternal, and therefore it is well.”

The seraph gazed on a changed and darkened scene.—As deep, as full, as was the bliss from which his eye had that moment turned, so deep, so intense was the anguish he now beheld. The gentle being in whom that twin-born spirit breathed, knelt beside the couch of the dead. He marked the wrung and bleeding heart; he read in its utter loneliness, its agonized despair; he read, it was a mother’s loss she mourned,—a more than mother, for by her, by her alone, her child’s ethereal soul, her fond imaginings, her strong affections, had been known, and loved, and fostered: to her, her beautiful had ever come, to seek and find that sympathy which she found not in another,—and she was gone, and the dark troubled strivings of that desolate heart not yet could deem it love.

“She weeps, and shall we condemn, young brother, that not yet her voice may join in the universal hymn? She weeps, yet knows not all her woe. The stability, the honour, the strength of her father were derived from the mild councils, the gentle unobtrusive virtues of her mother: in him they have no stay. That moral evil, too darkly prevalent on earth, once more will gain dominion, and the joys of the innocent, the helpless, are blighted ‘neath its poison. On earth she stands alone—Yet hark! What means that burst of triumph in the skies?”

Ineffably brilliant was the smile on the countenance of the angel; and Zephon, startled, yet entranced, looked again on that bleeding heart. The dark and troubled waves within were <<458>> stilled; there was no voice,—no sign; but the lamp of faith was lit; her soul had murmured Love! and bowed, adoring and resigned.

IV.

Again did the youthful spirit gaze down on earthly joy, chastened in its fulness yet ecstatic in its nature. Love, pure, perfect, faithful love, had twined around that fair and gifted child of earth, and filled the blank which yet remained; though fame, appreciation, triumph, sympathy, affection, all were hers. She had found a kindred soul, round which to weave the clinging tendrils of her own; virtues to revere, piety to support, uphold, and cherish the soakings of her own. She had found one whose praise might still those passionate yearnings, the which to satisfy, she had vainly looked to fame;—one, from whose lips, how sweet became the praise of the world;—one to give new zest to her exalted genius; for by him it was most valued, most beloved. Zephon looked on the beautiful blossoming of genius, the expansion of intellect, the flowering of every budding hope; and he saw, too, the chastened humility, the unwavering love, which traced these rich gifts to their source, and lifted up her heart in universal love and grateful adoration; and again his voice joined hers in thanksgiving.

Once more, at the voice of the archangel, he sought and found the kindred essence, and love was on that heart, deep, almighty, whelming love, hearing before it for awhile even the sere and withered leaves, with which its depths were strewed. He looked on the wreck of that which he had seen so lovely,— the wreck of all, save the gentle virtues, the meek submission which had characterized her youth; the rosy dreams, the glowing visions, presented but a crushed and broken mass; their bright fragments seeking ever to unite, but ever rudely severed. Genius, in its deep wild burnings, its impassioned breathing, feeding as a smothered fire upon her own young heart, seeking ever to find a vent, an echo,—to be known, acknowledged, loved; but falling back with every effort, till even genius seemed increase of sorrow,—and hope yet glimmered there, pale, sickly, shadowy, <<459>> in its faint rays emitting but increase of light, to be immersed in deeper gloom. And love was there, intense, all-mighty, yet it brought no joy.

“She loves—she was beloved,” again spake the angelic voice; “but the sin of the father is visited upon the child. A little while he appeared devoted unto her, and to the memory of the departed; and though he led her from the scenes she loved, to mingle more closely with the world, his affection soothed, his hopes inspired; but he knew not the ethereal nature of that soul, and the scenes which earth terms gay and joyous, touched no answering chord in her, and led him once again astray. Yet for a brief while, happiness was hers, banishing those vain yearnings, ever proceeding from a soul too sensitive for earth; but the same hour which awoke her to a consciousness of love, given and returned, turned back that fountain of bliss upon her seared and withered heart, and changed it into gall. The child of a dishonoured parent, was no fit mate for nobleness and honour, and earth is gone once more.”

Tears, the sweet bright tears, that angels weep, bedewed the eyes of the seraph; yet riveted their gaze on that one sad child of earth, as if in its dark and troubled chaos, there were yet more to read. He saw, too, the slight and beautiful shell in which that spirit was enshrined, quivering beneath the tempest, till at length it lay prostrate, and unhinged, and intense bodily suffering heightened mental ill.

“‘Tis the struggle for submission and resignation, that hath done this,” continued the angel. “Soest thou, no dream of unbelief, no murmur of complaint hath entered that heart; anguish may wither up the swelling hymn; may check the voice of love; but faith is there! and mark! though in His unquestionable wisdom, the Eternal’s will is to afflict, though in impenetrable darkness, save to those beside His throne, He hideth the secret wherefore of that will. Invisibly His ministers are charged to hover round His favoured child, to comfort and sustain, though lone and desolate on earth. Behold!”

Bright, beautiful spirits robed in light and glory, hovered round the couch of sorrow; yet, earth hid them from their kin<<460>>dred essence. She saw them not: felt not the mild reviving influence of their spiritual presence, save that gradually and slowly the chains which bound those beautiful limbs were loosed. The whirlwind sweeping over that heart, subsided into partial calm; and strength was given her to struggle on and live.

Zephon looked on the child of sorrow, and a faint shadow stole over the brilliant iris of his wings; the living rays on his brow grew dim.

V.

Again did the seraph look down on earth, again did he gaze on the favoured child of joy. The ecstatic sense of bliss, he had marked before, had subsided into happiness as full, as pure, as thrilling, yet chastened in its fulness. There were young, and lovely forms around her; a mother’s love had added its unutterable sweetness to her lot. He looked on her heart, and marked how sweetly and beautifully its every dream, its every hope, had bloomed to full maturity. How softly its slight cares were soothed by sympathy, and love on earth, and trust and hope in Heaven; how earnestly it sought to pour back its every gift into the gracious hand from which it sprung, and lead her children as herself to the threshold of Eternal joy. He looked on that unveiled heart, as, wandering with those she loved, amid the glorious shrines of nature, she found in every leaf and stream. and bird, and flower, somewhat to bid her children love, and add to the inexhaustible spring of poesy and genius, which rested still within, and gave new zest, new brightness to her simplest joy.

He gazed on her alone, amidst the books she loved, the studies her genius had craved; he read the deep, pure, shadowless joy: it was to feel, that gift had done its work, and sent its pure and lucid flame amidst the unthinking crowd, and carried blessings with it; that its rich music had left its impression on many a thoughtless heart; had shed sweet balm over hours of sad, lonely sickness; had spoken its soft sympathy to the diseased and sorrowing mind, and sent new, brighter, purer joyance <<461>> to the young, eager, and imaginative soul. It had done these things, and was it marvel she rejoiced!

Zephon gazed; but the shadow passed not from his wings, and hastily and silently he turned once more to seek the kindred essence. The whelming woe had given place to a strangely complicated mass, of crossed and twisted strings, which tightly fettered down each glorious gift, each cherished hope, each fond aspiring; yet gave them space to throb, and live and whisper still. The bright undying flame of genius never seemed to burn with more o’er-sweeping power; yet, the flashes that it sent but scorched the heart that held them. Hope was still there sending forth her lovely blossoms; but to be nipped and blighted ’neath the close and icy strings that stretched above them. There were chains upon that spirit, binding it to earth, when most it longed to spring on high. And the shell, the lovely shell which held it, was dwindling ’neath its withering spell. The seraph marked the tension of each vein and nerve, and pulse, till it seemed as if the very next breath of emotion, however faint, would snap them in twain; the painful effort to restrain the irritation of bodily and mental suffering, the agony of remorse, which, the slightest ebullition of impatience caused.

He beheld her hour by hour, the centre of a noisy group of children, possessing not one attribute to call forth that torrent of love and tenderness, with which her soul was filled. He marked the starting of each nerve, the bounding of each pulse, at every shout of rude and noisy revelry, the inward fever attending every effort to restrain and instruct. He saw her, when midnight enwrapped the earth, alone for a brief space, in a poor and comfortless room; the bright visions of genius thronging tumultuously on mind and brain; incongruous and wild, from their having been so long pent up in darkness and woe. He beheld the effort to give the burning fancies vent; the utter failing of the mortal frame; the prostration of all power, save that which yet would lift up heart and hands in the low cry: “Father, it is thy will; I know not wherefore; yet, oh! yet, if Thou willest it, it is, it must be well!” And he heard unnumbered harps bear up that voice of Faith, in melody overpowering in its deep rich <<462>> tones. He marked the spirits of light and loveliness, still hovering around, moulding those burning tears into precious .gems, changing each quivering sigh to songs of glory. Yet still his sight seemed strangely dimthe shadow passed not from his wings.

“And man, her brother man, hath he no love, no tenderness, no thoughts for sorrow such as hers?” the seraph asked; “knows he not of the precious gifts, the gentle virtues that frail shell enfolds? Wherefore is she thus lone?—hath man no answering chord?”

“Man sees not the interior of that heart, as thou dost,” rejoined the Hierarch. “When through disobedience sin entered yon beautiful world, man’s eyes became darkened towards his fellows, and but too often his rebellious and perverted mind willfully refuses knowledge of his brother; lest sympathy should bid him share the griefs of others. In some, envy, foul envy, the base passion which first darkened earth with death, willfully blinds, lest the genius and the virtue of the poor should be exalted above the rich; in others it is ignorance, contempt, neglect, springing from that rank poison—selfishness, or the loathsome weed indifference, which flings a thick veil over others’ woe, and so confines the gaze, it sees no farther than itself. To mortal vision yon gentle being is composed and calm. Man marks but the outward frame; love alone might trace the decline of strength, the failing of bodily power; but there is none near to love. Poverty hath flung those chains upon the heart, confining the ethereal spirit, dragging it down to earth; yet deadening not its power. Poverty, privation, have thrown her amongst those whose grosser, more material natures, are incapable of appreciating the heavenly rays of genius; of comprehending its effect upon the temperament and the frame. They deem her lot a happy one, for they cannot know how much more she needs,—what cause she has for sorrow. They would laugh in bitter scorn at those griefs which have their birth in feeling, whose intensity, whose depth of suffering, are to them utterly unknown. No! man may not alleviate woes like hers. In the dark circle her fate is fixed: earth, mortal fading earth is all; they have no time for dreams <<463>> and thoughts of heaven. A spirit like to hers, bearing on its brow a stamp of glory not its own. Alas! my brother, man will not mark such things. Sin, foul sin hath dimmed its gaze.”

The seraph folded his beautiful wings around him. There was a strange dim sense of pain upon him, undefined, yet sad, as the first clouding of mortal vision unto man, ere sight departs for ever. When he looked forth again, the scene was changed, and it was bright and beautiful, though death was there.

The blessed, the loved, the cherished!—she lay there, calm, yet rejoicing,—though the loved around her wept. Recalled to its native home, ere age or sorrow dimmed the spirit’s glory; joyfully, willingly, she heard the call, for death had no pang for her. She knew she parted from her beloved to meet again, “where never sounds farewell.” She knew she was departing to that blissful bourne, whose glorious light had beamed so softly and beautifully on her earthly course, gilding MORTAL happiness IMMORTAL glory; to that goal, where each bright gift would be made perfect, her finite wisdom find completion in infinity. Still, still the comfort of her voice consoled the hearts that wept around; her lip yet sent forth gentle words to soothe and bless when she was gone; the mind, the beautiful mind, yet shone in all its living light. Death had no power to dim its lustre; brighter and brighter, gleamed the departing soul; and thoughts, sweet thoughts, came thronging on that heart, of duties done, of life that sought but good, of universal love, benevolence, and peace. And blessings of the poor, the needy, and the sorrowing, hovered round her as angels robed in light. Joy! Joy! Oh, still was that gentle spirit wreathed in joy,—the grave had lost its sting, and death was swallowed up in victory!

Irresistibly and rapidly the seraph sought the twin-born spirit, —which, at the same hour, was to wing her flight from earth. There were none to weep around her couch of loneliness and pain; but one, a kind and lonely hireling, was near to mark that spirit’s parting pang,—to smooth the pillow, and whisper of repose. No sign of luxury was there, no gentle hand with luscious fruit or cooling draught, to tempt the fevered lip, the parched and tasteless tongue. Dark, close, confined, the chamber of the <<464>> dying—but a few pale flowers, children of field and brook alone stood beside her, to whisper ’twas a poet’s dying home. Save that, perchance, the treasured volumes still round, disclosed that the mind was bright, and strong, and lovely still. Her thin hand still clasped a book, her eyes lit up as they gazed upon the page, and for a brief space, her cheek shone with a bloom that scarce could seem of death. Zephon looked within the heart and started. Hope gleamed up amidst its crushed and broken chords; hope, ay, and one bright flash of joy darting forth as a sunbeam midst the shrouding mass of clouds, and momentary, coeval with that joy, the wish, fond wish to live.

“Start not, my brother!”—the thrilling accents of the angel once more spake. “She gazes on her own fond dreams, her own pure visions,—she clasps their record in the volume that she holds. Acknowledged, sought. appreciated; her genius has burst through the veil of obscurity and woe; and fame, undying fame, hath wreathed his laurels to adorn the dead. Man will weep upon her grave, will wreath her name with glory, will reverence too late the genius that hath gone,—and therefore would she live. It is the last struggle, the last pang,—the spirit is too pure, too free, to fold too long the chain which earth holds forth, even though its links are joy. Behold!”

The seraph looked once more. There had been a struggle—a brief and anguished pang; joy and hope lay crushed for ever, beneath the sickening consciousness ’twas all too late, and she must die! There came one murmuring doubt, one paining question—wherefore she was thus called away, when earth gave promise of such sweet reviving flowers? And darkness spread forth her pall, and shrouded up that heart; but speedily it passed; a soft and mellowed light gleamed up; the blackened shade rolled up and fled; the ruin and its chains were gone, and PEACE, and Faith and Joy, twined hand in hand together.

VI.

Zephon looked not on the abodes of man. The Hierarch alone stood before him, surrounded by a blaze of glory. Ineffable brilliance shone forth, from his brow and wings; yet softened <<465>> into compassionating tenderness, was his radiant look, his thrilling voice. A trembling awe spread over the seraph, and involuntarily he bowed before him.

“Thy will is accomplished, youthful brother, thou hast glanced on man,” spake the angelic voice; “yet know, that which thou hast seen is but as a single grain amid the spreading panda of the boundless desert; as a single spark of earthly fire amid the countless stars and blazing suns of heaven, compared with the scenes of woe yon world of beauty bolds. When Sin entered, Joy fled trembling up to the heaven whence he came. Twined as he was with purity and innocence, without them, earth could have for him no stay, no resting;—man reaps the fruit he sows,—for not in a guilty world, may the Eternal mark the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. In that which thou hast seen there was no guild no sin. Twinborn in purity as in their high ethereal essence, yet from the imperfection of earth, so widely severed their mortal fates, so strangely parted, if such things are, is’t marvel that the hymn of love, of praise, from lips of man should be so faint and weak? Zephon! thou hast looked on earth; thou hast marked the dealings of our Father with His children. Speak then, my brother! oh, speak! will the song of joy—of adoration, still flow from thy lips, still, still canst thou proclaim Him Love?”

The harps of heaven were stilled. The invisible choirs hushed their full title of song. Darker and darker, for a brief space, became the shadow around the youthful seraph; and his radiant brow was buried in its shrouding folds. Deep, awful was that momentary pause, for it seemed as if the hosts of heaven themselves were hushed in sympathy and dread.

A sudden flood of dazzling effulgence burst through the gloomy shade, dispersing it as a thin vapour on either side. Beams of living lustre illumined that glorious brow, and in liquid music his voice flowed forth.

“Shall I be less than mortal—I, who serve my Father amidst His chosen choirs, who knew Him, unobstructed by the veil of earth? Let the full song burst forth; let the bright seraphim strike, the bold harps again; let the rich hymn swell out in <<466>> deeper glory; Hallelujah to our Father and our King! His ways are dark, but His will is love! Praise Him, ye myriads of angels; praise Him, ye heaven of heavens; proclaim, proclaim Him Love! His ways are pleasantness, His paths are peace,—Praise Him, ye glorious hosts—Hallelujah, He is Love!”

VII.

There was rejoicing amidst the heavenly choirs, rejoicing amidst the seraph band; for a bright and beautiful spirit, whose lot, even on earth, was joy, released from mortal chains, had joined their glittering files. Wafted from earth amidst strains of glory, lifting up her voice with theirs in thanksgiving, and consummating in the centre of that glorious band, the hymn of beauty and of love commenced on earth.

There was rejoicing amid the angelic choirs, beside the shrouding veil, which softened even from their purified orbs, the transcendent glory of their Father’s throne—rejoicing amidst the archangelic choirs; for a bright and beautiful spirit, whose earthly doom had been shrouded in the impenetrable mists of darkness and woe, was wafted towards them on a golden cloud, amid a rich burst of glad triumphant harmony, rejoicing!—for mystery and gloom were removed from a child of God, and unsealed for her, the secret of his ways.

There was rejoicing in the angelic hosts,—rejoicing through the central choirs,—for a youthful seraph, springing upon the bright wings of faith and love, had joined their glittering files, and songs of joy and melody encircled him, rejoicing!—above, below, within, till each resplendent court of heaven darted forth rays of inexpressible brilliance, and the whole universe of space, peopled with its myriads of angelic and archangelic spirits, sent forth its mighty depths of harmony, its thrilling voice of song; and still, oh still, its theme was Love!—Eternal, changeless, unfathomable Love!