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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

If inward love is so all sufficient


I

have said on this subject more than I intended. I meant only to state a fact clearly enough to use it. The rest "whistled itself." Practically, I do not know that I have any quarrel with any marriage that is real, whether it come after the first or fiftieth attempt. Judging from general observation, I should suppose that most people might marry half a dozen times, and not be completely married then.

If, as Perthes seems to have thought, all this is the natural course of events, why do you make all womanly honor and happiness converge in the one focus of marriage, unless like a Mussulman you believe that on such condition alone can women aspire to immortality? But even then it would be a hard bargain. Immortality is dearly bought at the price of immorality. When all other arguments fail, and you would mount to your sublimest heights of moral elevation, you assure a woman that, no matter how lofty her life may be, nor how deep her satisfaction may seem, if she fails of marriage she fails of the highest development, the deepest experience, the greatest benefit. You tell her that she misses somewhat which Heaven itself cannot supply. But, on the other hand, you have previously shown that marriage is but a temporary arrangement, an entirely mundane affair. Love belongs as completely to this world as houses and barns,--is in fact rather supplementary to them,--especially to the house. It is of the body, and not of the spirit; for the spirit lives forever,

but when the body dies, love dies also. There are no claims beyond the grave. Nay, it does not reach to the grave. The delight, the spontaneity, the satisfaction, the keenness, all die out before the person dies. The pulp shrivels, and only a wrinkled skin of habit remains. But a woman is immortal. Can a mortal love satisfy an immortal heart? Is it possible that an undying soul must find its strongest development in a dying love? Does a creature of the skies incur an irreparable loss, miss an irreclaimable jewel, suffer an incurable wound, when it loses, or misses, or suffers _anything_ which is but of the earth earthy? Can anything finite be indispensable to an infinite life?

Again, if this accession of toil, and this diminution and decay of perceptible love, and this falling back on inward love, is the natural course of events, why not say so in the beginning? If inward love be satisfactory at one time, why not at another, as well before marriage as after? Why, when a man has once made and received affidavit of love, should he not be content, and neither proffer nor demand manifestations? Let men be satisfied with inward love during courtship, and the honeymoon, if inward love is so all-sufficient. Not in the least. Men are not one tenth part so capable of inward love as women,--I mean of an inward love without outward expression. Their inward love becomes outward love almost as soon as it becomes love at all. They are ten times more tumultuous, more demonstrative, more _phenomenal_, than women. They are as impatient as children, and more unreasonable. They cannot, or they will not, brook delay, suspense, refusal. Women accept all these drawbacks as a part of the programme, and with "the endurance that outwearies wrong," while men fiercely, if vainly, kick against the pricks and talk about _inward love_!


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