One may sacrifice an over-ruling passion to the sober calls of reason and humanity

— Sheridan [née Chamberlaine], Frances (1724-1766)

Place of Publication
Printed for R. and J. Dodsley
One may sacrifice an over-ruling passion to the sober calls of reason and humanity
Metaphor in Context
Disappointment in a first love, has, I think, been ever accounted a grief scarce surmountable even by time: but this can only be the case, where the heart, extremely vulnerable by nature (like Miss Burchell's) suffers itself to be so entirely immersed in that passion, that all the other duties of life are swallowed up in it; and where an indolent turn of mind, a want of rational avocations, and perhaps of a new object, all contribute to indulge and confirm the disease. This you know was not my case. I loved, 'tis true; but it was with temperance; and though my disappointment afflicted me, it did not subdue me. I got the better of it, I think I got the better of it even before I married; but sure I am, I totally conquered all remembrance of it after I became a wife. I then laid down a new Scheme of happiness, and was for a time in possession of it; how I was thrown from this is still bitter to remembrance. You well know what I suffered, when I found myself deprived of my husband's love, and suspected of a crime at which my soul shrunk. But it pleased the just God to deliver me from this heavy misfortune, and I think the happiest days of my marriage were those which I passed with Mr. Arnold after our re-union. Then it, was, I was thoroughly sensible that the heart can love a second time, truly and ardently; but I was soon again plunged into affliction by the death of a husband endeared to me more than ever by his misfortunes. My grief for him was proportionate to my love. Yet, my friend, as time is an universal conqueror, it might have healed this wound as well as the former one; and a few, a very few years would perhaps have disposed me to return Mr. Faulkland's still unabated passion, if a variety of circumstances had not interposed, that strongly forbad our union. Convinced as I was of this, I acted agreeably to the dictates both of my reason, and my conscience, in persuading Mr. Faulkland to make Miss Burchell his wife. I should have been grieved and mortified had he rejected her, and I had determined never to have seen him more. Yet how deceitful is the human heart! this very act which I laboured with so much assiduity to accomplish, and on the accomplishment of which, I had founded, I know not how, a fort of contentment for myself, has been the very means of destroying what little peace of mind I was beginning to taste before. Sure that man was born to torment me in a variety of ways! If I was disappointed in my early love, I had however duty, and a consciousness of what I then thought superior worth, to support me. If on his account I suffered cruel and injurious aspersions, the innocence of my own self-acquitted heart bore me up under it: but he has at length sound the way to punish me without leaving me any resource. My pride is of no use, he has raised himself in my esteem superior to every thing. His whole behaviour so generous, so candid; a love so disinterested, so fervent; what noble, what uncommon proofs has he given me of it! and at length what a triumphant sacrifice has he made of that over-ruling passion, to the sober calls of reason and humanity! He has left me, my dear, to gaze after him with grateful admiration! and sometimes perhaps to sigh that our fates rendered it impossible for us to meet. But if I do sometimes sigh, it is not at the advantages of fortune, which I might have enjoyed with him; no, no, surrounded as I am with distress, I do not envy Miss Burchell's affluence or splendor. If that motive could have had weight with me, I might have been mean enough not to have acted as I have done. 'Tis the qualities of the man's mind I esteem; I think our souls have something congenial in them, and that we were originally designed for each other. And if I believed the doctrine which teaches us that there are little officious spirits that preside over the actions of men, I should think that our two evil geniuses laid their heads together in conjunction with Miss Burchell's active demon, to thwart and cross all our measures.
(pp. 52-5)
Searching HDIS for "ruling passion"
9 entries in ESTC (1761, 1767, 1772, 1782, 1786, 1796).

Text from Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph, Extracted from Her Own Journal, And now First Published. In Three Volumes. (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley, 1761). <Link to ESTC>
Ruling Passion
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.