Read CHAPTER XXXV of Eugene Aram, free online book, by Edward Bulwer Lytton, on ReadCentral.com.

Affection:  Its godlike nature. ­The conversation between aram and Madeline. ­The fatalist forgets fate.

Hope is a lover’s staff; walk hence with that,
And manage it against despairing thoughts. 
­Two Gentlemen of Verona.

If there be any thing thoroughly lovely in the human heart, it is Affection!  All that makes hope elevated, or fear generous, belongs to the capacity of loving.  For my own part, I do not wonder, in looking over the thousand creeds and sects of men, that so many religionists have traced their theology, ­that so many moralists have wrought their system from ­Love.  The errors thus originated have something in them that charms us even while we smile at the theology, or while we neglect the system.  What a beautiful fabric would be human nature ­what a divine guide would be human reason ­if Love were indeed the stratum of the one, and the inspiration of the other!  What a world of reasonings, not immediately obvious, did the sage of old open to our inquiry, when he said the pathetic was the truest part of the sublime.  Aristides, the painter, created a picture in which an infant is represented sucking a mother wounded to the death, who, even in that agony, strives to prevent the child from injuring itself by imbibing the blood mingled with the milk. [Note:  Intelligitur sentire mater et timere, ne mortuo lacte sanguinem lambat.] How many emotions, that might have made us permanently wiser and better, have we lost in losing that picture!

Certainly, Love assumes a more touching and earnest semblance, when we find it in some retired and sequestered hollow of the world; when it is not mixed up with the daily frivolities and petty emotions of which a life passed in cities is so necessarily composed:  we cannot but believe it a deeper and a more absorbing passion:  perhaps we are not always right in the belief.

Had one of that order of angels to whom a knowledge of the future, or the seraphic penetration into the hidden heart of man is forbidden, stayed his wings over the lovely valley in which the main scene of our history has been cast, no spectacle might have seemed to him more appropriate to that lovely spot, or more elevated in the character of its tenderness above the fierce and short-lived passions of the ordinary world, than the love that existed between Madeline and her betrothed.  Their natures seemed so suited to each other! the solemn and undiurnal mood of the one was reflected back in hues so gentle, and yet so faithful, from the purer, but scarce less thoughtful character of the other!  Their sympathies ran through the same channel, and mingled in a common fount; and whatever was dark and troubled in the breast of Aram, was now suffered not to appear.  Since his return, his mood was brighter and more tranquil; and he seemed better fitted to appreciate and respond to the peculiar tenderness of Madeline’s affection.  There are some stars which, viewed by the naked eye, seem one, but in reality are two separate orbs revolving round each other, and drinking, each from each, a separate yet united existence:  such stars seemed a type of them.

Had anything been wanting to complete Madeline’s happiness, the change in Aram supplied the want.  The sudden starts, the abrupt changes of mood and countenance, that had formerly characterized him, were now scarcely, if ever, visible.  He seemed to have resigned himself with confidence to the prospects of the future, and to have forsworn the haggard recollections of the past; he moved, and looked, and smiled like other men; he was alive to the little circumstances around him, and no longer absorbed in the contemplation of a separate and strange existence within himself.  Some scattered fragments of his poetry bear the date of this time:  they are chiefly addressed to Madeline, and, amidst the vows of love, a spirit, sometimes of a wild and bursting ­sometimes of a profound and collected happiness, are visible.  There is great beauty in many of these fragments, and they bear a stronger impress of heart ­they breathe more of nature and truth, than the poetry that belongs of right to that time.

And thus day rolled on day, till it was now the eve before their bridals.  Aram had deemed it prudent to tell Lester, that he had sold his annuity, and that he had applied to the Earl for the pension which we have seen he had been promised.  As to his supposed relation ­the illness he had created he suffered now to cease; and indeed the approaching ceremony gave him a graceful excuse for turning the conversation away form any topics that did not relate to Madeline, or to that event.

It was the eve before their marriage; Aram and Madeline were walking along the valley that led to the house of the former.

“How fortunate it is!” said Madeline, “that our future residence will be so near my father’s.  I cannot tell you with what delight he looks forward to the pleasant circle we shall make.  Indeed, I think he would scarce have consented to our wedding, if it had separated us from him.”

Aram stopped, and plucked a flower.

“Ah! indeed, indeed, Madeline!  Yet in the course of the various changes of life, how more than probable it is that we shall be divided from him ­that we shall leave this spot.”

“It is possible, certainly; but not probable, is it, Eugene?”

“Would it grieve thee irremediably, dearest, were it so?” rejoined Aram, evasively.

“Irremediably!  What could grieve me irremediably, that did not happen to you?”

“Should, then, circumstances occur to induce us to leave this part of the country, for one yet more remote, you could submit cheerfully to the change?”

“I should weep for my father ­I should weep for Ellinor; but ­”

“But what?”

“I should comfort myself in thinking that you would then be yet more to me than ever!”

“Dearest!”

“But why do you speak thus; only to try me?  Ah! that is needless.”

“No, my Madeline; I have no doubt of your affection.  When you loved such as me, I knew at once how blind, how devoted must be that love.  You were not won through the usual avenues to a woman’s heart; neither wit nor gaiety, nor youth nor beauty, did you behold in me.  Whatever attracted you towards me, that which must have been sufficiently powerful to make you overlook these ordinary allurements, will be also sufficiently enduring to resist all ordinary changes.  But listen, Madeline.  Do not yet ask me wherefore; but I fear, that a certain fatality will constrain us to leave this spot, very shortly after our wedding.”

“How disappointed my poor father will be!” said Madeline, sighing.

“Do not, on any account, mention this conversation to him, or to Ellinor; ‘sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.’”

Madeline wondered, but said no more.  There was a pause for some minutes.

“Do you remember,” observed Madeline, “that it was about here we met that strange man whom you had formerly known?”

“Ha! was it? ­Here, was it?”

“What has become of him?”

“He is abroad, I hope,” said Aram, calmly.  “Yes, let me think; by this time he must be in France.  Dearest, let us rest here on this dry mossy bank for a little while;” and Aram drew his arm round her waist, and, his countenance brightening as if with some thought of increasing joy, he poured out anew those protestations of love, and those anticipations of the future, which befitted the eve of a morrow so full of auspicious promise.

The heaven of their fate seemed calm and glowing, and Aram did not dream that the one small cloud of fear which was set within it, and which he alone beheld afar, and unprophetic of the storm, was charged with the thunderbolt of a doom, he had protracted, not escaped.