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Graham's Magazine Vol XXXII. No. 5. May 1848   By:

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[Illustration: J. Addison]

CLARA HARLAND

Engraved Expressly for Graham's Magazine

GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE.

VOL. XXXII. PHILADELPHIA, MAY, 1848. NO. 5.

CLARA HARLAND.

BY G. G. FOSTER.

[SEE ENGRAVING.]

CHAPTER I.

I am no visionary no dreamer; and yet my life has been a ceaseless struggle between the realities of everyday care, and a myriad of shadowy phantoms which ever haunt me. In the crowded and thronged city; in the green walks and sunny forests of my native hills; on the broad and boundless prairie, carpeted with velvet flowers; on the blue and dreamy sea it is the same. I look around, and perceive men and women moving mechanically about me; I even take part in their proceedings, and seem to float along the tardy current upon which they swim, and become a part an insignificant portion of the dull and stagnant scene; and yet, often and often, in the busiest moment, when commonplace has its strongest hold upon me, and I feel actually interested in the ordinary pursuits of my fellow beings, of a sudden, a great curtain seems to fall around, and enclose me on every side; and, instead of the staid and sober visages of the throng, vague and shadowy faces gleam around me, and magnificent eyes, bright and dreamy, glance and flash before me like the figures on a phantasmagoria. In such moments, there comes over me a happy consciousness that this is the reality and all else a dull and painful dream, from which I have escaped as by a great effort. The dreamy faces are familiar to me, and their large, spiritual eyes encounter mine with glances of pleasant recognition. My heart is glad within me that it has found again its friends and old companions, and the mental outline of the common world, faintly drawn by memory, becomes more and more dim and indistinct, like the surface of the earth to one who soars upward in a balloon, and is at length blended with the gray shadows of forgotten thought, which disturb me no more. But anon some rude and jarring discord, from the world below, pierces upward to my ear, and the air becomes suddenly dark and dreary, and dusty, and I fall heavily to earth again.

As years steal by, these fits of delightful abstraction become rarer and rarer. My visions seem to have lost their substantiality; and even when they do revisit me, they are thin and transparent, and no longer hide the real world from my sight yet they hold strange power over me; and when they come upon my soul, although they do not all conceal the real, yet they concentrate upon some casual object there, and impart to it a spirituality of aspect and quality which straightway embalms it in my heart. Thus do I invest the faces of friends with a holiness and fervor of devotion which belongs not to them; and when I have wreaked the treasures of my soul upon objects thus elevated above their real quality, I find what a false vision I have been worshiping its higher qualities mingle again with my own thoughts, whence they emanated, and the real object stands before me, low, dull, and insipid as the thousands of similar ones by which it is surrounded. Thus do I, enamored of qualities and perfections which exist only in my own thought, continually cheat and delude myself into the belief that a congenial spirit has been found, when some trivial incident breaks the spell the charms I loved glide back to my own soul, and the charmer, unconscious of change in himself, wonders what has wrought so sudden an alteration in me. Then come heart burnings and self reproaches against those I have foolishly loved, of treachery, hypocrisy, and ingratitude, which they cannot understand, and over which I mourn and weep.

I had a friend once not long ago, for the turf is still fresh over his gentle breast whose soul was fashioned like my own, save that he was all softness, and wanted the hardness and commonplace which events and years have given to me. For a long and delightful season we held sweet converse together; and, although he was much younger than I, yet was there no restraint or concealment between us... Continue reading book >>




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