Confessions of a Platonic Lover
By Timothy Shay Arthur, 1838
"There are moments in life," says an eloquent writer, "into which are crowded the regrets and agonies of years!" From the paralyzing effects of such a moment of human misery, I am just arousing myself, after long, weary years have passed into oblivion. And yet, I have been no cool, calculating villain. I have meant nothing of deliberate wrong. Had such been the case, conscience would have now been seared, and my hardened soul would look back with something of exultation. But passion and a strange delusion led me on — not into actual crime, but into derelictions from the right and true affection, which broke the heart of a dear one who had bound herself to me in holy bondage, and who was half forgotten until her bruised and humbled spirit was crushed — until the flower withered and dropped from its over-laden stem.
I have thought that, perchance, the unvarnished story of my one great error might be a warning to some just giving themselves up to the same delusion; and for such reasons, have I re-strung, for a moment, my energies of mind, to write out the history.
In looking back now, and summing up my whole life, I find, in a comparison of cause and effect, that my early education was decidedly wrong; or rather, that I was allowed to educate myself wrong. My parents, who were in moderately prosperous circumstances, were, I am sorry to say, unfit for the proper education of their children. Not that they did not mean well, or were lacking in kindness and deep interest, or lacked any of the qualities usually considered indispensable in a parent. By no means. I was early taught to reverence and fear God; to be kind and charitable to the poor, and even to forgive injuries. The best teachers were selected for me at an early age, and at a proper time I was sent to college, where I always bore the reputation of a moral and upright young man. So far my education was considered faultless — and no one could see in that my parents were blamable. And yet, they were so; and, as a child who has awakened from an error which has wrought fearfully upon himself and others, I recorded here my testimony against them, and charge their lack of proper discrimination, and careful examination into and direction of my character — as the cause of my waywardness and present misery!
I do not do this, from bitterness of feeling towards them. No — the memory of their deep affection and sacrificing kindness is ever green in my heart. But as a warning to other injudicious and unreflecting parents, I do violence to my feelings, and write my censure here.
Naturally possessed of a lively and transforming imagination, I early in life was in the habit of investing such things as I did not possess with ideal excellencies. Thus, they became desirable, and the more ardent the desire — the more excellent and beautiful did they appear. From this cause I naturally became enthusiastic in the pursuit of anything, and never could be satisfied short of possession. Had my kind parents studied my disposition as parents always should study the disposition of a child, they might have trained my mind to guard against this error, and led me to more sober and matter-of-fact conclusions.
This they could not have done, by opposition to my wishes, which was often attempted, for this course but inflames imagination. Yet, it might have been done by a proper training of the mind, and an insensible but certain withdrawal, as far as possible, of all causes of an exciting tendency.
Books, modern books, too many of them but offsprings of diseased and depraved imaginations, were laid before me, and the more of them I devoured, the greater delight I afforded my fond parents, who rejoiced that their son was given up to mental improvement. They little imagined that I was every day drinking in of false sentiment, and filling my thoughts with images and colorings which were before long to change from beautiful symmetry and gorgeous hues — into deformity and darkness.
How well do I remember the delight I occasioned my father, when, in argument with a man of sobriety of temper and experience in life, I, by sophistry and superior facility of expression, appeared to get the advantage upon some question which contrasted the cold realities of life — with the tinsel and gilding thrown over almost everything by the pencil of imagination. How his benevolent face brightened up — how his eye filled and sparkled as I grew eloquent on the noble destiny of man in this life — when I pictured the happiness which must result from the knowledge of great mental powers.
In his heart, then, I was all that he could desire, and the blood coursed warmer through his veins as he looked upon me in the pride of affection. Alas! why did he not then warn me that the more ardent the pursuit — the less happiness in the possession? — that man was born of disappointment and trouble. Would that he had schooled me in the right lessons of life — that he had taught me to gather my principal happiness from the rational enjoyment of the present. Then I would not have had the fearful waking to reality and misery into which I have been crudely startled, never again to think of the present with peace, or to dream a pleasant dream of the future.
While at college, I became acquainted with a young lady, some five years older than myself, whose dignified and womanly beauty captivated my imagination. To become familiar with her was, for me, to love her; that is, as one can love whose heart is ardent, but whose observation and judgment have given place to the instincts of imagination. I invested her at once with all the graces and perfections of an angel, and she truly was an angel. From some cause, I know not what, she formed for me a sober, deep, and quiet love, whose flow was as calm and whose waters as pure as the stream that winds slowly on its caverned way, upon which no star has mirrored its beauty, nor even a flower fallen to disturb its tranquil surface. She was by nature good, and kind, and generous — always ready to conceal her own pain lest others should suffer, and willing to die for those she loved, if she could save them. Oh! she was an angel, whose offices of love I never understood until reflection came too late.
In the town where our college was situated, were several families, in which I was intimate, and among these were some three or four young ladies of talents and liberal education, with whom I was fond of associating and joining in sallies of wit, and verbal criticisms upon the works of the day.
Caroline Weston, whom I loved with the devotion of a warm heart, was not much given to brilliant efforts or forward conversations. Her thoughts were of the right kind, and her judgment clear upon all matters of propriety and correct thinking. Necessarily, she did not shine with the brilliance of her associates, and I was often forced into a contrast of her silence and common-place remarks — with their enthusiasm and critical allusions. Sometimes I was mortified, and sometimes provoked into a petulant remark upon her inattention to more exalted subjects, as I called them. But she took it all in apparent kindness of feeling — though her eyes would be brighter for a moment, and her cheek almost imperceptibly deepen in its tinge. Once, when I remarked on her indifference to literary matters, and the triumphs of mind, as I called them, she gently corrected me — and for a brief moment I stood corrected. But my imagination had been warped and excited by false culture, and I forgot the force of her admonition.
"Brilliant displays of intellect," said she, "are not all that is desirable or honorable in human nature. There is a moral perfection which elevates us nearer to God — the perfection of all perfection. In dazzling pictures — in ingenious sophisms — in finely wrought descriptions — in novel and striking thoughts, there is much to interest and captivate the mind — but it is all blinding and warping to the intellect. We may be melted into tears over the poet's fine description of human suffering, and may analyze all the happy skill he has displayed in his portraiture of woe — while, in a cold garret nearby, may be a child of affliction, pining in poverty and shivering in the cold blast that drives at the broken windows, and she utterly forgotten — or, if, perchance, remembered and ministered to, it is by one whose virtues and sensibilities are not intrusive, and who may chance to be despised for lack of talents and enthusiasms by the very ones who have forgotten, in the luxury of fictitious woe, the existence of one whose sorrows are of unmitigated endurance. Brilliant exhibitions of talents are not always evidence of a love for learning, nor an innate delight in the lofty and ennobling pleasures of intellect. More frequently they are the offsprings of vanity, and love of praise. Too many read, and analyze, and treasure up, merely as the actor does his part, and never give one sober thought to usefulness, or the necessary and serious duties of life. The perfect man or the perfect woman is one who can command the heart, and who can rightly understand the relative duties of life — who can act from motives entirely free from vanity — who can know when it is useful to speak and when to be silent."
I had always been pleased with Caroline when we were alone, and never heard her speak but with interest. Her judgment was good, and she was fond of reading — but not of such books as are too common among young people. With me she would converse for hours upon the heart, its virtues, and its right direction; but in company she was generally silent, and I was too often mortified when other young ladies would join in praise of the fine passages of Byron and Bulwer, and stir my feelings by their elegant quotations and enthusiastic comments. Many hesitated not to pronounce Caroline dull — but I knew better. I knew that she was superior to all the rest; but still, my diseased imagination made me delight more in the glowing language and eloquent themes of poetry — than in the quiet and unobtrusive remarks that would, on right occasions, fall from her lips.
Months wore away, and with heart unchanged in its affections toward Caroline, the time drew near for me to leave college and enter the world. To my parents, I had not yet divulged the secret of my affection for this amiable woman — but the period had now arrived for decision, and I made the communication. As they did not know her, and feared that my love was but boyish passion, they gave a decided negative. Unused to denial, and self-sufficient in all things, I urged Caroline to marry me in opposition to my parents' will. This she mildly but firmly declined — though her pale cheek, trembling lip, and swelling eye, witnessed her affliction. In the unreasonableness and disappointment of the moment, I charged her with lack of heroic love, a thing so noble in my eyes, and left her. On the next morning, uncorrected by a night of passionate musings, without seeing Caroline, I departed for home. When I arrived, my parents received me with affectionate concern; and when I related to their anxious ears the history of my love, and described Caroline Weston as she really was, and how she had refused to join me in disobediences to them, and how in anger I had left her — their hearts relented as their minds were convinced of her superiority.
Preliminaries need not be mentioned. In time Caroline became my wife, I at the age of twenty-one, and she five years older. I had studied law during my college days, and in the ensuing autumn after my marriage was admitted to the Bar.
With a moderate knowledge of my profession, united to some of the elements of enthusiastic eloquence, I was soon able to do a moderate share of business. Having considerable leisure on my hands, I indulged in literary pursuits, and was fond of literary company. In this respect, my wife was not a suitable companion for me; and I was often absent at literary clubs, and soon formed the acquaintance of some literary women, with whom I often spent an evening, charmed with their talents and conversation. Sometimes, indeed often, the picture of my sweet wife, sitting, all solitary at home, would come up before me, and I have blamed myself for neglect; but a moment more, and the fascinations of those around me would dispel the gloomy picture, and I would forget again.
Always on my return, I was met by a kind look and tone, and never was I chided for absence. At home, everything was conducted with the utmost regularity. I was never sensible of any little inconveniences, such as too many men are subjected to, and which are so calculated to cause peevishness and sour the temper. All was system and perfect order. No needless expenses were incurred, and my little income was managed with a careful hand.
All this I did not see, and frequently regretted that Caroline took no pleasure in such things as gave me delight. If I read a fine poem, she appeared pleased, but that was all. She did not enter into, and enjoy all the author's beautiful turns of thought and vivid imagery. Her mind was occupied in something else; and though she listened with interest, and never seemed wearied — yet she did not seem so delighted and enthusiastic as I had expected to find her. I would of course be disappointed, and after a while, ceased to read to her as usual. She did not appear to notice this; and when I was engaged in reading to myself, she would be careful not to disturb me; and often, on looking up, I have found her eyes fixed upon me, brightened by a glow of interest and affection, that warmed my heart like a gleam of sunshine.
At such times, when my imagination would be calmed down by some sober train of thought, which I might chance to be reading — I have felt my home to be a paradise, and my dear wife an angel-companion. After awhile, however, restless thoughts would come over me, and I would begin to desire the companionship of those in conversation with whom my own talents and abilities would come in contrast, and my vanity be excited into a glow of delight. Insensibly I would compare my right-minded wife with women whom I met abroad; and I blush to say that I allowed her to suffer.
One evening I met the sister of a literary friend. She was about my own age. Her fine productions I had frequently read in a literary periodical, and had often heard from her brother that she was greatly pleased with the few pieces which I had published. Prejudiced in her favor, I was not long in breaking through the reserve of a first acquaintance, and, before the evening was over, we were as intimate, and understood each other's bias of mind as well, as if we had been acquainted for years. I do not know that I ever spent an evening of such exquisite pleasure. I attended her home that night, though it was at a late hour when the company separated, and there I left her with sincere regret.
I think it was near twelve o'clock when I arrived at home, and my wife had not yet retired. I found her sitting pensively by her work table, her work still in her lap, and her head leaning upon her hand. She did not smile with as glad an expression as usual, and I thought that the trace of a hastily wiped tear was still visible on her cheek. I am not certain that this was so, but for the first time since our marriage, she did not seem happy. I sat down by her side, and affectionately taking her hand, inquired with concern if anything was the matter. Her sweet face instantly brightened up, (my manner had surely chased away some mysterious doubts and fears,) and she was again my own dear Caroline — the wife of my heart.
I remember, now, that I did not mention Miss Rawson to her — the lady with whom I was so pleased. Once or twice I was about speaking of her, but somehow or other something would check me. Had I possessed Caroline's intuitive sense of right and wrong — I would have now detected my error, and paused before there was no remedy.
The next evening was spent in Miss Rawson's company, and a more delightful, fascinating creature, I thought I had never known. The pure language of poetry was hers. She discoursed of green fields, blue skies, and leaping rivulets — until my imagination was burdened with nature's sublime and beautiful images. She delighted to enter the sanctuary of the heart, and read its tender and holy impulses. The lyre of her spirit seemed to have no jarring string — all within was harmonious, and every vibration of a chord burdened the ear with inspiring melody. She was a Siren, though I believe she knew not then of her power, nor had a thought or an intention which was not upright and holy.
It was as late as on the previous night, when I came home, and found that my wife had retired, an unusual thing for her — before I returned. She did not perceive my entrance. I bent over her with a slight feeling of remorse, which was heightened, when, on laying my cheek to hers, I found that it burned as with fever, and that she muttered in her sleep as if dreams disturbed her slumber. She awoke as I stood thus over her. I shall never forget the quick energy with which she threw her arms around my neck and drew my head down upon her bosom, nor how convulsively she held me there, for it was a display of strong feeling, unusual with her. I have since learned that a quiet demeanor often hides strong and even agitated feelings.
"O James!" said she, "I am so glad you have come! — I am glad it is all a dream!" And she wept as I had never seen her weep before.
"What dream, my love?" said I, smiling to reassure her.
Her self-possession was instantly regained, and laughing in a half careless tone, she said, "Oh, it was nothing but a foolish dream. I wonder that it should have so alarmed me."
"Won't you tell your dream, my love?" said I.
"O, it is not worth repeating. I would be ashamed if I were to let you know how foolish I was."
I did not urge her, for I knew her repugnance to being thought weak-minded or foolish — and there the matter ended. Still, the dream, whatever it was, must have returned; for I slept little that night, and she frequently moaned and startled in her slumber, a thing that had been unusual with her, as she had not an excitable imagination, and was regular and temperate in her habits.
I soon began to find that the society of Miss Rawson was, to my happiness, a thing indispensable; and now began the struggle between duty and inclination. From the idea of Platonic love, I at first turned with an instinctive sense of wrong. Gradually, however, I began to reason on the subject, and was at last so foolish as to ask Miss Rawson her idea of Platonic affection.
"Something that I have always admired," was her ready, and, to me, startling answer.
And now commenced an argument between us, in which I found myself the looser, voluntarily, I fear, at every point.
"There can be nothing purer or more holy," she argued, "than that affection which generally springs up in superior minds, for those of a congenial spirit. It matters not whether the sexes are the same or not — for it is a high and ennobling feeling that knows nothing of passion, nothing of desire. It is not of the earth, earthy, but of the spirit, spiritual and elevating. It is too rarely that such congenial spirits meet. Then why should they be debarred from that sweet fellowship of thought, when they do meet, which is free from all social reserves? The wife need have no fear for her husband, nor the husband any fear for his wife. It interferes in no way with marital bond."
I know not how it was, that I did not leave her at once and forever. I know not how it was, that I did not feel shocked, as I now do, while I record this rhapsody. But it was otherwise; I was fascinated — until I was cursed with moral blindness. I gradually became a convert to these dangerous doctrines; and almost every evening now found me in her society. While I think soberly of this matter now, I am not disposed to charge her with impurity of motive. She had madly, though almost unconsciously, formed a strong affection for me, and, knowing that I was bound up by marriage contract, she had reasoned herself into the belief that we could reciprocate feeling and sentiment — and remain innocent. It was a fatal error, fraught with agonies to more than one, which years of repentance cannot mitigate.
The company of my wife, now began to grow irksome. She became aware of my fondness for the society of Miss Rawson, who made no secret of her high estimation of my character, and frequently pronounced me the beau ideal of her imagination. Caroline did not remonstrate with me, but seemed distressed, which made me feel unpleasant at home, and, of course, in my then state of mind, caused a less frequent attendance there; still, she neither in word nor tone alluded to my singular and mad conduct, but always endeavored to receive me with a smile, but it was a forced smile, and grew fainter and fainter every day.
About this time, a dear child blessed our union, and soon won my heart away from its wanderings. I felt a yearning tenderness towards it which I had never felt for human being, and my own Caroline was rendered to me doubly dear. Still, the thought would for an instant flit across my mind, that if I had not been hasty in forming an early connection — Miss Rawson might have been my dearer companion, and the mother of my children. She was of a more congenial turn of mind, and I would have been a much happier man. But such thoughts were only for an instant. Daily and hourly my sweet little girl grew more interesting, and won upon my heart with such irresistible and strong affection, that I was scarcely happy when from home.
How the smile brightened on Caroline's cheek! — how the light of her eye grew more glad and playful as she noted the change, and fondly thought I was won back to my home! And if the charmer had not charmed with a sweeter tone, and the earnestness that I could not resist — I might have been saved from breaking the heart that loved me with unspeakable tenderness!
Miss Rawson, who had become acquainted with my wife, visited at my house, and thus was I thrown into the way of a temptation which I think I would have shunned! Frequently, when I returned from my office in the evening, I would find her on a friendly visit, and the charms of her conversations soon captivated me, and again I began to feel her society desirable. My wife could not, and did not treat her with warmth and cordiality. She was polite and attentive towards her, because she did not wish to give room for anyone to think, that she, even for a moment, suspected her husband as at all alienated in his affections. Nor do I think she had the most distant idea then that my heart had wandered away from its early love. She knew I was pleased with Miss Rawson's society, but thought it was simply because she was an intelligent young lady — yet she doubtless had misgivings which disturbed her peace, and rendered her unhappy.
Soon my wife became more absorbed in her household and maternal duties; and I found the little attentions of the married life less necessary and less reciprocal. My evenings were more frequently spent from home, and generally in company with Miss Rawson, at the house of a friend, where a number of literary gentlemen and ladies were in the habit of meeting. On my return home, be the hour ever so late, I would find my patient, uncomplaining wife, sitting beside her cradle, or with our dear babe in her arms, waiting for my return, and greeting me with a smile so affectionate and so glad, that my heart often smote me for neglecting her, for the society of others.
After this strife of feeling had continued for some time, a new and sudden revulsion took place, and I began to grow more than indifferent to my wife. And with this indifference, sprung up a wilder and more engrossing regard for Miss Rawson. Platonic love gave way to passionate affection, and even to a desire for possessing its object. How I sometimes used to censure the rashness of my youth, which had led me into a connection with one whom I persuaded myself had, with me, no congeniality of disposition — who was insensible to the sublime beauties of nature and the ennobling attributes of mind.
From my now cheerless home, I grew more and more estranged. Even the smile of my babe was less and less attractive, the more she grew daily in the likeness of her mother. When I came to my own door, all the poetry of home, the fascinations of the fireside were gone — and a morose, petulant creature, I entered to trample upon the heart that would have poured out its last drop for my safety.
A whole year passed away, and still I was a devout worshiper at the shrine of a false goddess, and had turned more and more away from the true faith. My wife's pale cheek warned me not of my folly — and her failing health caused me no thought — unless it was the quickly banished one, that she might soon die, and I should be free!
Every night now saw me in company with Miss Rawson. In the soft moonlight evenings of June, we would wander forth alone, and talk of the lofty themes of a cultured and unchecked imagination — investing all things around us with soul and feeling. And then we would lament that beings so harmonious in every thought as we, should thus be doomed to separation. One evening we were all alone. The moon and the bright stars looked through the casement upon us, as we sat together, conversing on our usual subjects, which were generally, now, in some way connected with our relative conditions.
"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove, then I would fly away and be at rest," said she in a mournful tone, after a long silence, and laid her head in abandonment of feeling, upon my shoulder. Every nerve thrilled — my heart beat thick and fast, and for a moment I was irresolute — she had never forgotten herself before. I felt a tear upon my hand — the tumult of passion overcame me — I clasped her to my bosom, and pressed a long, burning kiss upon her cheek. She made no motion or effort to release herself — and there she lay in my arms, the moonbeams streaming through the window, and lighting up her face, which seemed to glow as the face of an angel. Again and again I pressed my lips passionately to hers, and again clasped her to my bosom in an agony of wild delight.
From this dream of error — this mad delusion, I was aroused by a stern voice, and looking up, my eyes met the indignant scowl of her brother, a young officer, who had returned home a few weeks previous, and who never seemed pleased with my attentions to his sister. She screamed and fainted. Hastily tearing her from my arms, he almost flung her upon the sofa, and seizing me by the throat, dragged me with the strength of a madman to the door, and dashed me headlong into the street.
I arose to my feet, instinctively conscious that I could not retaliate this violence — for public opinion would be against me, and the exposure I feared would rob Caroline of peace forever. I went home under a conflict of emotions such as I had never before experienced. The indiscretion and cruelty of my conduct stared me in the face, and I was lost in shame and self-abasement. All my blinding delusion was gone, and I felt a strong sense of disgust for Miss Rawson, and wondered how I could ever have been so infatuated with one, who, at every stage of our acquaintance, had shown such looseness of principle, and such recklessness of the feelings and happiness of my wife. The image of my Caroline was now before me, with her quiet and gentle demeanor, and her anxious effort to please and interest me — and I writhed inwardly to think how I had returned all her affection with cruel neglect.
I arrived at home in a state of mind that I cannot describe. As usual, Caroline was up, and I met her earnest look with one of embarrassment and confusion. She seemed to notice the change; and fearful of exposing my feelings too much, I diverted her attention by a kind and even affectionate word, such as I had not used for a long time, and bent over and kissed her cheek. There was an earnestness in my manner, for I felt my love returning in a strong current, which she could not but observe.
She gently drew her arm round my neck and burst into tears. She wept long and passionately on my bosom, while, with every endearing tone, I strove to quiet her emotion. Soon nature exhausted itself, and she grew calm, and lifting her moistened eyes to mine, looked up with such an earnest, appealing look, that my heart melted into tenderness, and I again held her to my bosom in a strong embrace.
Thus we were reconciled without explanation, and I felt that I still loved her, now that the treacherous veil had fallen from my eyes — as fondly and as devotedly as ever. A new light seemed to break in upon me, as from beyond a wavering and beautiful curtain which had hitherto obstructed my vision; and I now saw realities in their natural positions, and blushed that I should have been deceived by an unstable mirage of the mind. If there had been no consequences to arise from my indiscretion, I should yet have been happy; but, alas! I was doomed to a long and bitter repentance of my folly. Late the next day I was alarmed to find that I had been posted by the brother of Miss Rawson, in terms the most opprobrious!
His placard ran as follows —
"Whereas, Mr. James West, although a married man and a father, has so far forgotten his duty to his family, his God, and society, as to trifle with the affections of an inexperienced young lady, and win her from propriety and almost decency of conduct; and whereas, Mr. James West, was, on Wednesday evening last, discovered by me, with said young lady reclining in his arms, and listening to his impassioned language; and whereas, I did then forcibly eject him from the house, without his then or since manifesting the least spirit. This notice is to denounce him as an offensive and dangerous man in society, and to warn parents, brothers, and guardians against allowing him at any time the privilege of visiting in their families!" John Rawson."
With a proud heart, high-toned feelings, and a love of the good opinion of the world — this was a shock that fell witheringly upon my spirits. I instantly turned towards my home, fearful that my wife might be abruptly apprized of my disgrace — while I was inwardly vowing eternal retribution upon the destroyer of my happiness.
I entered the house, and not seeing Caroline in the parlor, hastened tremblingly to the chamber. How shall I describe the terrible scene? Seated by a small dressing table, with an open paper in her hand, which I saw at a glance was the fatal handbill, was my wife, pale and rigid as marble. Oh, the frozen agony of that dear face! — when will its image fade from my recollection? I sprung to her side, and called her name, but she heard me not. I took her hand — it was icy, and fell from my grasp in leaden insensibility. Madly I called her, and by every tender appellation. I lifted her on the bed, and applied all the restoratives within reach, but she gave no sign of animation, save a faint gasp at long intervals, and an occasional wild rolling of her eyes, that were all the while open and staring with a strange intensity, as if looking beyond the bound of mortal vision. The servants entered — medical attendance came, but she heeded nothing. The physician, who at once guessed at the cause of her suffering, seemed strongly agitated, and requested an immediate consultation with four of the most eminent medical practitioners of the place.
The anguish which I endured in the next hour cannot be imagined. They physicians met in haste, and, after earnest consultation, blood-letting was decided upon; but, though the vein was opened several times — not a drop could be obtained. Other means were resorted to — but without effect. By this time animation seemed almost extinct. Strong external stimulants were now tried, and the rigidity of muscle gradually gave way, and the vital current began again to move sluggishly on, but neither sense nor sensibility returned — and before the next morning, she expired in strong convulsions!
And thus she died — and I was her murderer! Oh, how shall I look her in the face when the living and the dead, are brought to judgment!
I sought no revenge on the wretch, who, not content with his mad exposure, had, in the abandon of cruelty, directed one of the handbills to Caroline. My spirits were broken — my hopes prostrated. I was an object for the finger of scorn and the leer of derision. Children would point at me in the street, and maidens gather silently together as I passed.
The shock fell greatly on Miss Rawson, the partner of my folly. She was shunned and sneered at, until life became burdensome, when she left for another city, where I have since heard she is leading a life of shame and infamy. My little girl soon followed her mother in death — and I was left alone.
I know not why I should continue further this history of sorrow and pain. Dearly have I paid for my early indiscretion, and long have I mourned as one without hope. Grief, not years, has touched my head with lines of silver, and I am now going down to my long resting place, with the painful consciousness of having, not only lived to no good purpose myself, but of having drugged with bitterness, the cup of her I had promised, in the presence of God and man, to cherish with the tenderest solicitude.
This brief narrative will not have been written in vain, if it causes but one to pause, before he has broken by neglect and estrangement, the heart of one whose life is bound up in his affections!