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“Sometimes, a young artist instead of going on with a copy of the picture before which he had placed his easel, would enrich his canvas with an original portrait of Hilda at her work. .... She was pretty at all times in our native New England style, with her light brown ringlets, her delicately tinged but healthful cheek, her sensitive, intelligent, yet most feminine and kindly face. But every few moments this pretty and girlish face grew beautiful and striking, as some inward thought and feeling brightened, rose to the surface, and then, as it were, passed out of sight again ; so that, taking into view this constantly recurring change, it really seemed as if Hilda were only visible by the sunshine of her soul.” Vol. I, p. 83.
Hilda, like Miriam, had come to Rome with a view to improve a native talent for pictorial art; but, like many others, after a brief residence in the Eternal City had been contented to acquire a more substantial fame, by becoming an accurate and self-sacrificing copyist of immortal antiques, in some cases surpassing the original. Hilda had taken up her residence in a ruined tower, in which was an image of the Vir. gin, her aerial habitation being called the Dove Cote, from the tribe of those birds who inhabited it, whence or from the purity of her nature she had derived her appellation of the Dove, and though a Paritan maiden, had devoted herself to the labor of keeping the lamp perpetually burning before the Virgin's shrine.
To return to the course of the story. Availing himself of a careless appointment of the former, Miriam and Donatello meet in a suburban villa, where Donatello again pressing his suit, Miriam at length reluctantly yields, and the happy pair indulge in a brief period of innocent hilarity and enjoyment. The chapter describing this scene, for gracefulness of narration and felicity of expression is one of the best in the book.
""What are you, my friend?' she exclaimed, always keeping in mind his singular resemblance to the Faun of the Capitol. If you are in good truth that wild and pleasant creature whose face you wear, pray make me known to your kindred. They will be found hereabouts, if anywhere. Knock at the rough rind of this ilex tree and summon forth the Dryad! Ask the water-nymph to rise dripping from yonder fountain, and exchange a moist pressure of the hand with me!
“Donatello smiled; he laughed heartily, indeed, in sympathy with the mirth that gleamed out of Miriam's deep, dark eyes. But he did not seem quite to understand her mirthful talk, nor to be disposed to explain what kind of creature he was, or to inquire with what divine or poetic kindred his companion feigned to link him.
“Why should you love me, foolish boy ?! said she. “We have no points of sympathy, at all. There are no two creatures more unlike, in this wide world, than you and I.'
“You are yourself, and I am Donatello,' replied he. Therefore, I love you! There needs no other reason.' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "You have had a happy life, hitherto-have you not, Donatello ?' "Oh, yes,' answered the young man. .... “But never so happy as now.' *In these delightful groves ?' she asked. “Here, and with you,' answered Donatello. “Just as we are now.'
* What a fullness of content in him! How silly, and how delightful !' said Miriam, to herself. Then, addressing him again, ‘But, Donatello, how long will this happiness last?'
"How long !' he exclaimed, for it perplexed him even more to think of the future than to remember the past. Why should it have any end? How long! Forever! forever! forever!'” Vol. I, pp. 101-105.
Kenyon is a young American artist, who, like the others named above, has set up his studio in Rome, and has hitherto been successful in the department of art to which he has devoted himself, that is, sculpture. The author introduces us to his work-shop, and in the course of the narrative, in the list of statuary which the sculptor has in hand, or has already completed, takes occasion to pay a handsome compliment (which must be as gratifying to the individuals as it is justly deserved) to the works of two well known American artists, viz, “The Pearl Diver,” by Paul Akers, and the magnificent bust of “ Cleopatra," by W. W. Story. The former, to the merits of which we can heartily subscribe, is delineated in the following passage :
“ Miriam admired the statue of a beautiful youth-a pearl-fisher- who had got entangled in the weeds at the bottom of the sea, and lay dead among the pearloysters, the rich shells and the sea-weeds all of like value to him now.
The poor young man has perished among the prizes that he sought,' remarked she. But what a strange efficacy there is in death! If we cannot win pearls, it causes an empty shell to satisfy us just as well! I like this statue, though it is too cold and stern in its moral lesson ; and physically, the form has not settled itself into sufficient repose.'” Vol. I, p. 150.
Again, referring to some painful reminiscences of her former history,
“ As he (the sculptor) attended her through the ante-chamber, she pointed to the statue of the pearl-diver.
My secret is not a pearl,' said she, 'yet many a man might drown himself in plunging after it.'" Vol. I, p. 165.
We regret that our limits will not permit us to transcribe the passages relating to “Cleopatra,” for a description of which the reader is referred to the volume.
Between Hilda and Kenyon an attachment subsists like that between Miriam and Donatello, which forms a sort of minor episode in the narrative.
But we may not linger in this part of the work, fascinating as it may be, but hasten on to Chapter XVIII, entitled “On the Edge of a Precipice,"—the catastrophe to which we have before alluded, and which occurs in this wise. Donatello, enamored as he is of Miriam, has an equal hatred of her model—the personage mentioned as the Specter of the Catacomb, whose reappearance she has learned to dread, and whom she regards with positive aversion. Understanding from her the real state of the case, and the impossibility of ever severing the painful tie that binds Miriam and this man together, and instigated by her, in the first place, to comunit the crime, he suddenly hurls his victim headlong from the Tarpeian rock, who becomes a mangled corse in the valley below. Chapter XIX is entitled “The Faun's Transformation," and portrays graphically the effect produced by the committal of the murderous deed, on the character of the Faan, raising him, through the influence of remorse on its account, from an individual neither man nor animal to an intelligent human being. In this part of the work the reader is forcibly reminded of the scene in “The Scarlet Letter," between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, which is rendered still more striking in a subsequent part of the book. We transcribe the opening passage :
"The door of the court-yard swung slowly and closed itself of its own accord. Miriam and Donatello were now alone there. She clasped her hands and looked wildly at the young man, whose form seemed to have dilated, and whose eyes blazed with the fierce energy that had suddenly inspired him. It had kindled him into a man; it had developed within him an intelligence which was no native characteristic of the Donatello whom we have heretofore known. But that simple and joyous creature was gone forever. •What have you done!' said Miriam, in a horror-stricken whisper.
The glow of rage was still lurid on Donatello's face, and now flashed out again from his eyes.
'I did what ought to be done to a traitor,' he replied. "I did what your eyes bade me do, when I asked them with mine, as I held the wretch over the precipice.
Did you not mean that he should die ?' sternly asked Donatello, still in the glow of that intelligence which passion had developed in him. There was short time to weigh the matter, but he had his trial in that breath or two while I held him over the cliff, and his sentence in that one glance when your eyes responded to mine! Say that I have slain him against your will—say that he died without your whole consent_and in another breath you shall see me lying beside him.'
'Oh, never,' cried Miriam, .my one own friend. Never! never! never!'" Vol. I, pp. 216–218.
This part of the story is worked up by our author with wonderful power, and in vigor of description and pathos is not surpassed by anything in Mr. Hawthorne's preceding volumes.
The usual effect of the commission of crime, is next shown, in the mutual wretchedness of its perpetrators, more, however, in the case of Donatello than of Miriam, whose pride enables her to keep up the semblance of a mind at ease, while Donatello is completely overcome by the terrible consciousness of the deed. The result of this is a separation, resolved on between the two, at the instance of the latter, since they can no longer live together, so repulsive has become their dreadful bond of union. This is succeeded by a similar estrangement and divorce between Miriam and her friend Hilda, who is involun. tarily an eye-witness of the tragedy, and who can no longer regard Miriam with the feelings which she has been wont to entertain towards her, leaving her to struggle alone, in utter hopelessness of companionship or relief. She is burdened with a dreadful secret, which she is either unable or unwilling to reveal, the effect of which, on her highly sensitive and
pure nature, is to make her, physically and mentally, almost as miserable as Miriam herself.
The scene next changes to a tower in the Apennines, whither we are transported by the wand of the (Salem) magician, where the sculptor, Kenyon, makes a visit to the proprietor, who turns out to be our old acquaintance, Donatello, or, to give him his real title, “ The Count of Monte Beni.” Here he is received and entertained for some time as a guest, and partakes of the good cheer which his host has provided, in the shape of a particular and choice wine made from the vineyards of Monte Beni, from its peculiar exhilirating qualities called “Sunshine,” and which is delineated in the chapter entitled “Sunshine.” In the course of his visit he learns that the Count and his domestics are not the only occupants of the castle, but that a female, unknown to the Count, inhabits an apartment of the building, inclosed in its gloomy precincts, whom the reader at once understands to be our old friend-Miriam.
Vol. II opens with an account of the pedigree of Monte Beni, which is only a reproduction of the traditionary legend respecting the house traced back to the time of its first ancestor, who is represented as having formed a union with one of the fair divinities inhabiting in the earliest times the Arcadian forests, whence the origin of the Faun-Donatello. This part of the book is very interesting, and is in Hawthorne's best vein, showing a highly poetic and imaginative genius on the part of the writer. At the suggestion of Kenyon, with whom Miriam contrives to have an interview, a reconciliation is planned between the estranged though not divorced lovers, which is consummated at length by the reunion of the pair, by appointment, in the great square of Perugia, where they receive the benediction of the Bronze Pontiff, (the Statue of Pope Julius III.) Here again we are forcibly reminded of the thrilling scene in “The Scarlet Letter," where Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale with little Pearl, the offspring of their guilty intercourse, stand together in the open moonlight in the public sqnare to make public acknowledgment and do penance for their mutual offense. Hilda, who still carries locked up in her