I

Love, in thy youth, a stranger knelt to thee,

With cheeks all red and golden locks all curled And cried, 'sweet child, if thou wilt worship me,

Thou shalt possess the kingdoms of the world.' But you looked down and said, 'I know you not,

Nor want I other kingdom than my soul.' Till Love in shame, convicted of his plot,

Left you and turned him to some other goal And this discomfiture which you had seen

Long served you for your homily and boast, While, of your beauty and yourself the queen,

You lived a monument of vain love crossed, With scarce a thought of that which might have been

To scare you with the ghost of pleasures lost.

II

Your youth flowed on, a river chaste and fair,

Till thirty years were written to your name. A wife, a mother, these the titles were

Which conquered for you the world's fairest fame. In all things you were wise but in this one,

That of your wisdom you yourself did doubt. Youth spent like age, no joy beneath the sun,

Your glass of beauty vainly running out.

Then suddenly again, ere well you knew,

Love looked upon you tenderly, yet sad. 'Are these wise follies, then, enough for you?'

He said; 'love's wisdom were itself less mad.' And you: 'What wouldst thou of me?' 'My bare due,

In token of what joys may yet be had.'

III

Again Love left you. With appealing eyes

You watched him go, and lips apart to speak. He left you, and once more the sun did rise

And the sun set, and week trod close on week And month on month, till you had reached the goal

Of forty years, and life's full waters grew To bitterness and flooded all your soul,

Making you loathe old things and pine for new. And you into the wilderness had fled,

And in your desolation loud did cry, 'Oh for a hand to turn these stones to bread!'

Then in your ear Love whispered scornfully, 'Thou too, poor fool - thou, even thou,' he said,

'shalt taste thy little honey ere thou die.'

As grown-ups have such difficulty in understanding children, so do men and women find it hard to understand each other. Many a young husband, often 'one of the best,' deeply wounds and pains his wife quite unintentionally. It is a mistake to be too sensitive; we must take people as they are. To most men it will always be as Coventry Patmore so prettily says:

A woman is a foreign land,

Of which, though there he settled young,

A man will ne'er quite understand The customs, politics, and tongue.

Owen Meredith translates the same thought in the reverse way, and with a more personal note, thus:

Dearest, our love is perfect, as love goes!

Your kisses fill my frame and fire my blood; And nothing fails the sweetness each bestows

Except the joy of being understood.

If for one single moment, once alone, And in no more than one thing only, this

Moreover only the most trivial one,

You could but understand me - Ah, the bliss!

One of the ideas I find most common in women, and not only young ones, is that in starting a Platonic affection with a man, sometimes at a certain sacrifice to themselves, they believe they do it for his sake, and that they are raising his moral nature. I am very doubtful whether the influence that comes through that kind of love between men and women, which in these days is called 'friendship,' ever works very much for good, as the influence savours of that old-fashioned education I have already condemned, which tries to make persons what we wish them to be, in contradistinction to making them understand that their only possible growth or improvement must come through their own self-development. Self-deception comes in when the woman persuades herself that she is helping the man to do that which he could not do alone. This means that at best she is only a temporary prop, which never yet strengthened anybody. The man who sees the position, and wishes to continue the 'friendship,' always uses the argument that the matter rests with the woman, but that if she gives him up things will be worse with him than they ever were before. In a publication I have already mentioned, called 'The London Year-Book,' there is a long poem on social life with the title 'Flagellum Stultorum' (The Flogging of Fools). In it I find a passage which once more lays bare the absurdity and false sentiment of such a position:

. . . Woman's saddest mental dower Is not to know the limits of her power. And thus 'tis chief of woman's wild intents To know men's motives and their sentiments. Believe me, gentle sex, there's not a man, However mean his intellectual scan,

But comprehends us better far than do

The wisest, keenest, cleverest of you.

The street-boy understands, upon my life,

The Lord High Chanc'llor, better than his wife.

So, when a woman turns her wits again,

And hopes to modify the ways of men,

I look to see, when faith and practice meet,

Her tears bedew the pathway to defeat.

Samuel Johnson, who married a widow twenty years. older than himself, and quarrelled with her on his way to church, as he said he was not to be made the slave of caprice, and was resolved to begin as he meant to end, also said in after-life: 'Praise from a wife comes home to a man's heart.' I am sure this is equally the case with the wife. I have known many happy couples, but never one that did not beam with joy at real praise and appreciation from husband to wife, or wife to husband. Of course, however, all flattery must be given with discretion.

Every girl after marriage should expect to be not understood, and to remember this is part of the mysterious scheme of life which probably on the whole tends to good; at any rate, it sharpens the interest of life. How far do we not go to find 'an undiscovered country'? Besides, if it is a trial it is lightened by remembering it is the same for all. Lucas Malet seems to think it is universal: