From ‘An Eastern Vision’
Bombay Gazette, 5 April 1820
An Eastern Vision
Translated from Reality!
[This essay offers a vision of marriage from the point of view of the wife’s abandoned lover. The narrator is a ‘grey headed sage’, who tells his ‘enthusiastic pupil’ about the last in a list of ‘dangers and temptations’ he must guard against: ‘This idle pageant of an hour, this airy vision of the Boy, this day-dream of the Maid, this Utopian heaven of the old and young, the ugly and the beautiful is called “Wedlock”’. The allegory that follows describes the struggles of those who journey towards the ‘Temple of Matrimony’ in search of ‘Wedded Bliss’, of whom ‘scarce two in a million arrived at the Altar’, while ‘the other miserable wretches lay gasping in the dust by the road side’. The visionary is drawn to one couple in particular, who though ‘both in the bloom of Youth and health’ are moving ‘confusedly and in silence’; he is indifferent, she is veering between ‘impetuosity’ and movements ‘irresolute and almost inclining to retrograde’. The vision continues:]
A black cloud hung threateningly over her head, growing more portentous and louring as she approached the temple; almost at the threshold of the Porch, she stopped, turned pale as death, and cast her eyes to Heaven with such an imploring action that I felt deeply interested for her. Again she moved onwards and now had placed one foot on the steps of the Altar, when throwing a fitful Glance towards the right hand boundary, her face flushed deeply, then assumed a deadly hue until overcome with excessive emotion she sunk senseless to the ground. Following the direction her eyes had taken, I perceived behind the shrubs a young Man in an attitude of the deepest despair, in his hand he grasped a faded myrtle bough and a lock of dark glossy hair his grief appeared too great for utterance his impassioned gaze was intently fixed upon the fallen female, in the bitterness of his agony he dashed himself on the ground and tore the hair from his head, his bosom heaved almost to bursting. I felt as if I could hear every throb of his bleeding heart; with the most fretful impatience, he sprang from the Earth and strained his eye balls towards a great road which led from the West as if expecting the approach of some one. In the mean time the Bridegroom had raised the maid from the ground, who soon after opened her eyes and with fear and agitation slowly turned them to the spot where the Youth was still standing, their eyes met both burst into tears, she then turned as if to retrace her steps, this caused a gleam of hope to brighten up his emaciated countenance, he turned to the West. A figure appeared at a distance, he knelt in gratitude, his emotion seemed to chain him to the spot; at length he rushed to the messenger, seized a packet, opened it, uttered a scream of joy and with one bound was at the edge of the fearful Barrier with maddening impatience he made a desperate leap at the impediment, but whilst in the Air and before he reached the opposite bank, his lynx-like eye caught sight of the Mystic Ring glittering on the finger of the maid, and as his feet touched the ground, I saw his heart was broken, he uttered a shriek of wild and frantic agony, and fell back into the Abyss, a victim to the rashness and inconstancy of the first Maiden he had loved! The impetuosity with which I endeavoured to rush forward and save the unfortunate Youth, awoke me from the sleep into which I had fallen. The Vision faded away, the cool breeze of twilight refreshed me, my eye lids were yet moist with the tears I had shed in my slumber, and just as the faintest glow of the summer Sun had vanished from the West, I rose from my knotty seat and whilst returning slowly to my humble cottage I reflected that such had been the fate of many a warm hearted Youth, who relying upon the virgin-vows of some impatient female, obey’d the calls of Duty and Honour and returned to the object of his Adoration time enough to find her.
“The Bride of Another”!!
If this plain tale will not open the Eyes of Modern Lovers to the danger they encounter by trusting their happiness to the keeping of a Woman, let them establish a club and for its rules and Guidance I refer them to No 30 of the Spectator.