Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Malbone: An Oldport Romance Thomas Wentworth Higginson

V. A Multivalve Heart

Page 2 of 4

Table Of Contents: Malbone: An Oldport Romance

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

It was, perhaps, no drawback on the popularity of Philip Malbone that he had been for some ten years reproached as a systematic flirt by all women with whom he did not happen at the moment to be flirting. The reproach was unjust; he had never done anything systematically in his life; it was his temperament that flirted, not his will. He simply had that most perilous of all seductive natures, in which the seducer is himself seduced. With a personal refinement that almost amounted to purity, he was constantly drifting into loves more profoundly perilous than if they had belonged to a grosser man. Almost all women loved him, because he loved almost all; he never had to assume an ardor, for he always felt it. His heart was multivalve; he could love a dozen at once in various modes and gradations, press a dozen hands in a day, gaze into a dozen pair of eyes with unfeigned tenderness; while the last pair wept for him, he was looking into the next. In truth, he loved to explore those sweet depths; humanity is the highest thing to investigate, he said, and the proper study of mankind is woman. Woman needs to be studied while under the influence of emotion; let us therefore have the emotions. This was the reason he gave to himself; but this refined Mormonism of the heart was not based on reason, but on temperament and habit. In such matters logic is only for the by-standers.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

His very generosity harmed him, as all our good qualities may harm us when linked with bad ones; he had so many excuses for doing kindnesses to his friends, it was hard to quarrel with him if he did them too tenderly. He was no more capable of unkindness than of constancy; and so strongly did he fix the allegiance of those who loved him, that the women to whom he had caused most anguish would still defend him when accused; would have crossed the continent, if needed, to nurse him in illness, and would have rained rivers of tears on his grave. To do him justice, he would have done almost as much for them,--for any of them. He could torture a devoted heart, but only through a sort of half-wilful unconsciousness; he could not bear to see tears shed in his presence, nor to let his imagination dwell very much on those which flowed in his absence. When he had once loved a woman, or even fancied that he loved her, he built for her a shrine that was never dismantled, and in which a very little faint incense would sometimes be found burning for years after; he never quite ceased to feel a languid thrill at the mention of her name; he would make even for a past love the most generous sacrifices of time, convenience, truth perhaps,--everything, in short, but the present love. To those who had given him all that an undivided heart can give he would deny nothing but an undivided heart in return. The misfortune was that this was the only thing they cared to possess.

This abundant and spontaneous feeling gave him an air of earnestness, without which he could not have charmed any woman, and, least of all, one like Hope. No woman really loves a trifler; she must at least convince herself that he who trifles with others is serious with her. Philip was never quite serious and never quite otherwise; he never deliberately got up a passion, for it was never needful; he simply found an object for his emotions, opened their valves, and then watched their flow. To love a charming woman in her presence is no test of genuine passion; let us know how much you long for her in absence. This longing had never yet seriously troubled Malbone, provided there was another charming person within an easy walk.

Page 2 of 4 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Malbone: An Oldport Romance
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004