Constanze was prostrate with grief; so ill was she that she could not even follow her husband's body to its pauper's grave. But she mourned him truly. And in her mind his memory remained always fresh and green through all the fifty years which elapsed before death summoned her. Indeed, not until 1842 was she finally released to join the man of whom once she said : "He was an angel on earth, and now is one in heaven."
Trial that may Strengthen Character
Of all human emotions, love is the master passion.' From time immemorial it has swayed the destinies of nations; it has made strong men weak, and weak women strong; it has controlled the lives of countless thousands; it is a passion shared by the barbaric and the civilised worlds; it is the fundamental root of good, and a great deal of that which is evil.
' Love is strong as death; many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." Yet sometimes it has to be renounced, and life has to be lived. Love that has absorbed every thought, that has been the pivot on which existence turned, has, to be relinquished; there is nothing to fill the blank which remains, and yet life has to be lived. The living is not easy - it is so difficult as to be almost impossible - but it is one of those things which has to be done, and done cheerfully.
Being in love is so absorbing that it is apt to make people very selfish; being compelled to renounce one's love very frequently renders one more selfish still, and though love is the greatest thing in life, it is not, nor ever can be, the only thing; and if the great sacrifice is demanded, there are forces within each individual which will enable one to make it nobly; but often it happens that these inner forces are never called into requisition at all, and the life that was fed and nurtured by love alone lies stricken when its nourishment is withdrawn.
The coming of love is like the breaking of the dawn; the losing of love is like black darkness after a radiant day, but, be it never so dark, the lover has to walk through the darkness till he emerge into the light again, and to do that it is necessary to believe that the light is there, and that it is worth striving to regain.
Love comes in many different ways - suddenly, sometimes, like a great storm, sweeping everything before it, or slowly, gently, cautiously almost, advancing gradually step by step; but once it has taken possession, whether by storm or strategy, its dominion is absolute, its power autocratic.
It is so easy to fall in love - sometimes it is done quite unconsciously; it is a very different matter to fall out again, if such an expression may be used, yet often it is a process absolutely necessary to both the happiness and well-being of the individual.
There are many circumstances in which this may be the case, because love is not always, and not necessarily, reciprocal, and both women and men sometimes make mistakes which cause them much suffering.
Take, for example, the case of a man and a woman who are great friends : on the one side it is a pure friendship, deep, loyal, and affectionate, but on the other it has deepened into love, and between love and affection . there is a fathomless gulf. Sooner or later the awakening will come, and the lover will realise that while he craves for bread, he is being offered a stone.
The situation which arises is almost intolerable; it is not only difficult, but, with certain natures, it is extremely dangerous. There is no flaw found in the beloved one, only he has nothing to give in return for what is lavished upon him. The lover has made a mistake; there is no one else to blame, and love once given is not easy to recall, yet to foster such a sentiment is only to cause a deeper wound. The love must be recalled. Assuming the woman to be the lover, the wise thing to do will be to break off the friendship. It cannot be done all at once, because the man would demand the reason of the change, and most women would suffer any pain rather than let a man discover they had given their love unasked.
There is one great and special danger which often accrues from this state of affairs - the woman, perhaps to prove to the world, or to the man, that she did not really care, perhaps to try and divert herself from the pain of unrequited love or wounded pride, marries some other man. By doing this she goes from folly into disaster. From the initial mistake she would have recovered in time; from the second deliberate act of folly there is no escape. .
The rnan she marries is always at her side, the man she loves is always on the horizon of her life. Between them both she is torn and distracted; the result is misery for herself and disillusionment and disappointment for her husband.
She may start her married life well, fortified with good resolutions. She may honestly intend to deal faithfully by her husband, she may even think that the barrier she had placed between them will help to keep her thoughts away from the man she loves, but in nine cases out of ten she will find this idea a mistake. The very fact that she has deliberately put him out of her reach often makes the man's attraction stronger, and the woman's position daily becomes harder to bear.