IN the endeavour to improve the general welfare of society, it is wise to consider the physical, mental and psychical condition of individuals or factors of society. However, it is not the intent of this little volume to discuss health and disease; but to more fully elucidate the subject of love, which is a topic far more pleasant than disease can possibly be. We never care to hear of the headache, or to listen to a discourse upon the "liver complaints"; such subjects are always repulsive to us, and, from choice, we would have them deferred until the last hour of our existence, and even then we would be glad to leap into eternity without a pang. Not so with love.
This is always desired, is always too distant, and is too slow of approach. Love is what the soul craves, and what the heart most yearns for. Yet with all the craving and yearning, the question is asked, What is Love? We answer, It is a mystery! Poets delight to dwell on Love; they measure their lines and tune their songs to its harmony. Theologians tell us that God is Love, and that God is everywhere. Philosophers, too, have offered their opinions upon its nature, source, and use. And the less sentimental have declared love to be a material substance floating in the atmosphere, to be attracted by some and repelled by others. Still there are minds which are dissatisfied with each and every given version, and which dare to grapple with the mysteries of Cupid's power from their own standpoint of reason.
Love has been restricted to human hearts, but such a limited sphere is contradicted by the evidences which surround us, Love exists everywhere in Nature, although it may escape the recognition of the casual observer; but when the attention is directed to the various phenomena, it may be daily seen in action, and important lessons are often learned from lowly sources.
Love, like the atmosphere, water, or the sunbeam, is sui generis, possessing elements and forces peculiar to itself; not always exhibiting the same characteristics, but susceptible of variability, corresponding in its nature and expression to the conditions under which it is developed and sustained.
Attraction or force, which binds and holds together elements and atoms in the lowest forms of inanimate, no less than in the highest grade of animated nature, is synonymous with love. From the symmetrically shaped crystal to the revolving planets we see the play of attractive and repulsive forces.
Earth, air, and water alike exemplify the power of love. What is it that gently binds the particles of silex to form the massive rock, and holds with unseen force the minute grains of sand which make the earth we dwell upon? It is attraction love in its lowest phase, and known as cohesion. By this same force the misty vapour is condensed, making rivers, lakes, and mighty seas, upon whose waters huge vessels glide majestically, laden down with tons of freight and precious human lives. The violet and the branching oak owe their growth to this same force, which works on root and stem, cementing inanimate particles into living growing structures. The tender moss upon the rock, the lichen on the tree, in common with the dew-drop and the falling tear, are formed by the attractive forces which pervade the universe, existing in all matter, and co-existing with all mind essential attributes of Deity as recorded in the Scriptures "God is Love."
In the animal kingdom love manifests its dual forms by the physical expression in the development of an organisation through capillary and elective attraction, and the psychical or soul love by the attraction one living being has for another of its kind or for its protector. The smallest insects exhibit this the flies that flit about our room, also the fishes in the water, as every schoolboy knows who drops his line and catches one, and cries to his comrades, "This is where the fishes are, here they are!" "How do you know?" the comrade asks. "Because I have caught one, don't you see?" "But there may be no more," his comrade says. "Oh, yes, there are; where there is one you are sure to find others." For fishes love, and go together in schools or companies.
Birds love, too, from the greatest to the smallest, as is proved by their coming in the springtime, not singly and alone, but in groups or flocks, until the air is darkened by their presence, and when they alight the trees are burdened by their weight. Sometimes this love has been so strong among the feathery tribe that actual death has come where love has been denied, as in the instance of a pet canary which was cared for by a lady. She was so fond of it that she kept it in a cage, and there tightly locked, which was a cruel thing to do, and also very unwise; for the great restraint we often put upon our objects most beloved will wean their love from us. One day the lady's heart was softened, and the bird's cage door was opened to let her pet have exercise. It skipped about from chair to chair, then stopped upon the table, just before a mirror, in which it saw itself, and, no doubt, thought it saw another bird; it seemed so happy that it chirped, and chirped, as if it had found a mate; but the bird in the mirror did not respond, so the poor canary hopped upon its perch again, hung down its head, dropped its wings, and never left the cage again, but pined away and died died of a broken heart, of unrequited love; and many creatures, all over the world, much larger than canary birds, are dying from this same cause. Who that ever owned a pet of any kind, can doubt the love of animals? A cat enjoys caressing, and is fond in its affection; the faithful dog licks his master's hand, crouches at his feet, and wags his tail with affectionate delight. But we must leave the love of these friendly creatures and pass on to other phases.
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