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- Dawn - 1/61 -

Edited by Charles Aldarondo (






They sat together in the twilight conversing. Three years, with their alternations of joy and grief had swept over their married life, bringing their hearts into closer alliance, as each new emotion thrilled and upheaved the buried life within.

That night their souls seemed attuned to a richer melody than ever before; and as the twilight deepened, and one by one the stars appeared, the blessed baptism of a heavenly calm descended and rested upon their spirits.

"Then you think there are but very few harmonious marriages, Hugh?"

"My deep experience with human nature, and close observations of life, have led me to that conclusion. Our own, and a few happy exceptions beside, are but feeble offsets to the countless cases of unhappy unions."

"Unhappy; why?" he continued, talking more to himself than to the fair woman at his side; "people are only married fractionally, as a great thinker has written; and knowing so little of themselves, how can they know each other? The greatest strangers to each other whom I have ever met, have been parties bound together by the marriage laws!"

"But you would not sunder so holy a bond as that of marriage, Hugh?"

"I could not, and would not if I could. Whatever assimilates, whether of mind or matter, can not be sundered. I would only destroy false conditions, and build up in their places those of peace and harmony. While I fully appreciate the marriage covenant, I sorrow over the imperfect manhood which desecrates it. I question again and again, why persons so dissimilar in tastes and habits, are brought together; and then the question is partly, if not fully answered, by the great truth of God's economy, which brings the lesser unto the greater to receive, darkness unto light, that all may grow together. I almost know by seeing one party, what the other is. Thus are the weak and strong--not strength and might--coupled. Marriage should be a help, and not a hindrance. In the present state of society, we are too restricted to know what marriage is. Either one, or both of those united, are selfish and narrow, allowing no conditions in which each may grow."

"Do I limit you, Hugh?"

"No, dearest, no; I never meant it should be so, either. When I gave you my love, I did not surrender my individual life and right of action. All of my being which you can appropriate to yourself is yours; you can take no more. What I take from you, is your love and sympathy. I cannot exhaust or receive you wholly."

"But I give you all of myself."

"Yet I can only take what I can absorb or receive into my being. The qualities of a human soul are too mighty to be absorbed by any one."

"What matters it if I am content in your love that I wish for none other?"

"I have often feared, dear Alice, that your individual life was lost in your love for me."

"What matters it, if you give me yourself in return?"

"It matters much. If we are not strong for ourselves, we are not strength to each other. If we have no reserve force, we shall in time consume each other's life. We can never be wholly another's."

"Am I not wholly yours, dear Hugh?" she said, raising her eyes tenderly to his, in that summer twilight.

"Not all mine, but all that I can receive."

"It may be true, but it seems cold to me," she replied, a little sadly.

"Too much philosophy and not enough love for your tender woman nature, is it not, darling?"

"I think you have explained it. I feel as though you were drifting away from me, Hugh, when you talk as you do to-night. Although I dearly love progress and enlarged views of life, I do not like many of the questions that are being agitated in reference to marriage."

"Because you do not take comprehensive views of the matter. I can, I think, set you clear on the whole subject, and divorce from your mind the thought that liberty is license. Liberty, in its full, true meaning, is the pure action of a true manhood, in obedience to the laws of the individual. For a simple illustration, look at our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Danforth. She, as you well know, is an ambitious woman; smart, and rather above the majority of her neighbors, intellectually, but not spiritually. Her husband is a kind-hearted man, content to fill an ordinary station in life, but spiritually far her superior. His nature is rich in affection; her nature is cold and intellectual. He knows nothing of other woman's views, consequently has no standard by which to form an estimate of those of his wife. If she was wise, as well as sharp, she would see that she is standing in her own light; for the man whom she wishes to look upon her, and her only, will soon be a pure negation, a mere machine, an echo of her own jealousy and selfish pride. Now, freedom, or his liberty, would give him the right to mingle and converse with other women; then he would know what his wife was to him, while he would retain himself and give to her his manhood, instead of the mere return of her own self. At present he dare not utter a word to which she does not fully subscribe. She talks of his 'love' for her; it should be his 'servility.' They live in too close relation to be all they might to each other. I have heard her proudly assert, that he never spent an evening from home! I think they are both to be pitied; but, am I making the subject of freedom in any degree clear to your mind, my patient wife?"

"Yes, I begin to see that it is higher and nobler to be free, and far purer than I supposed."

"Yes, dear one," he said, drawing her close to his heart, "we must at times go from what we most tenderly love, in order to be drawn closer. The closest links are those which do not bind at all. It is a great mistake to keep the marriage tie so binding, and to force upon society such a dearth of social life as we see around us daily. Give men and women liberty to enjoy themselves on high social planes, and we shall not have the debasing things which are occurring daily, and are constantly on the increase. If I should take a lady of culture and refinement to a concert, a lecture, or to a theatre, would not society lift up its hands in holy horror, and scandal-mongers go from house to house? If men and women come not together on high planes, they will meet on debasing ones. Give us more liberty, and we shall have more purity. I speak these words not impulsively; they are the result of long thinking, and were they my last, I would as strongly and as fearlessly utter them."

"I feel myself growing in thought, to-night, Hugh, and O, how proud I feel that the little being who is soon to claim our love, if all is well, will come into at least some knowledge of these things."

In a few weeks she expected to become a mother, and was looking hopefully forward to the event, as all women do, or should, who have pleasant homes and worthy husbands.

"I, too, am glad that we can give it the benefit of our experience, and shall be proud to welcome into the world a legitimate child."

"Why, Hugh! what do you mean? All children are legitimate, are they not, that are born in wedlock?"

"Very far from it. In very many cases they are wholly illegitimate."

His wife looked eagerly for an explanation.

"All persons who are not living in harmony and love, are bringing into the world illegitimate offspring. Children should be born because they are wanted. A welcome should greet every new-born child, and yet a mere physical relation is all that exists between thousands of parents and children, while thousands who have not given physical birth are more fitted by qualities of heart and soul to be the parents of these spiritual orphans than the blood relations, who claim them as their own. I often think that many in the other life will find, even though they may have had no offspring in this, that they have children by the ties of soul and heart-affinity, which constitutes after all the only relationship that is immortal."

Ten days after the above conversation, the eventful period came. All night she lingered in pain, and at daybreak a bright and beautiful daughter was laid at her side. But, alas! life here was not for her. Mother and babe were about to be separated, for the fast receding pulse told plainly to the watchful physician that her days were numbered. Her anguished husband read it in the hopeless features of the doctor, and leaning over the dear one he loved so well, be caught from her these last words,--

"Call her DAWN! for is she not a coming light to you? See, the day is breaking, Hugh,"--then the lips closed forever.

Dawn - 1/61

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