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Book of Scottish Story
Love at one Glimpse

Or, The Glasgow Gentleman And The Lady

Some years ago, there used to be pointed out, upon the streets of Glasgow, a man whose intellect had been unsettled upon a very strange account. When a youth, he had happened to pass a lady on a crowded throughfare—a lady whose extreme beauty, though dimmed by the intervention of a veil, and seen but for a moment, made an indelible impression upon his mind. This lovely vision shot rapidly past him, and was in an instant lost amidst the commonplace crowd through which it moved. He was so confounded by the tumult of his feelings, that he could not pursue, or even attempt to see it again. Yet he never afterwards forgot it.

With a mind full of distracting thoughts, and a heart filled alternately with gushes of pleasure and of pain, the man slowly left the spot where he had remained for some minutes as it were thunderstruck. He soon after, without being aware of what he wished, or what he was doing, found himself again at the place. He came to the very spot where he had stood when the lady passed, mused for some time about it, went to a little distance, and then came up as he had come when he met the exquisite subject of his reverie - unconsciously deluding himself with the idea that this might recall her to the spot. She came not; he felt disappointed. He tried again; still she abstained from passing. He continued to traverse the place till the evening, when the street became deserted. By-and-by, he was left altogether alone. He then saw that all his fond efforts were vain, and he left the silent, lonely street at midnight, with a soul as desolate as that gloomy terrace.

For weeks afterwards he was never off the streets. He wandered hither and thither throughout the town, like a forlorn ghost. In particular, he often visited the place where he had first seen the object of his abstracted thoughts, as if he considered that he had a better chance of seeing her there than anywhere else. He frequented every place of public amusement to which he could purchase admission; and he made the tour of all the churches in the town. All was in vain. He never again placed his eyes upon that angelic countenance. She was ever present to his mental optics, but she never appeared in a tangible form. Without her essential presence, all the world beside was to him as a blank-- a wilderness.

Madness invariably takes possession of the mind which broods over much or over long upon some engrossing idea. So did it prove with this singular lover. He grew "innocent," as the people of this country tenderly phrase it. His insanity, however, was little more than mere abstraction. The course of his mind was stopped at a particular point. After this he made no further progress in any intellectual attainment. He acquired no new ideas. His whole soul stood still. He was like a clock stopped at a particular hour, with some things, too, about him, which, like the motionless indices of that machine, pointed out the date of the interruption. As, for instance, he ever after wore a peculiarly long-backed and high-necked coat, as well as a neck-cloth of a particular spot—being the fashion of the year when he saw the lady. Indeed, he was a sort of living memorial of the dress, gait, and manners of a former day. It was evident that he clung with a degree of fondness to every thing which bore relation to the great incident of his life. Nor could he endure any thing that tended to cover up or screen from his recollection that glorious yet melancholy circumstance. He had the same feeling of veneration for that day, that circumstance, and for himself, as he then existed, which caused the chivalrous lover of former times to preserve upon his lips, as long as he could, the imaginary delight which they had drawn from the touch of his mistress’s hand.

When I last saw this unfortunate person, he was getting old, and seemed still more deranged than formerly. Every female whom he met on the , street, especially if at all good looking, he gazed at with an enquiring, anxious expression; and when she had passed, he usually stood still a few moments and mused, with his eyes cast upon the ground. It was remarkable, that he gazed most anxiously upon women whose age and figures most nearly resembled that of his unknown mistress at the time he had seen her, and that he did not appear to make allowance for the years which had passed since his eyes met that vision. This was part of his madness. Strange power of love! Incomprehensible mechanism of the human heart!—Edinburgh Literary Journal, 1829.

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