Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of him; the solemn doctor of divinity, who | been beloved, have hated and taken resits at a concert and nods approval, while venge; hope deserted me, then came rethe artists are whispering what hollow solution ; stung by the world's injustice, I brass he is, under his very nose! Society turned at bay, and made me a name is full of such examples; and a sensitive am mong men; now I have found no rest, man who has the humble soul of a true and I am willing to give up my life, for I artist must be prepared to meet “the believe in the mercy of Heaven.” But spurns that patient merit of the unworthy each particular of his experience he would takes,” with a cheerful fortitude that looks communicate in a large, simple, comprewithin for its reward. A great, pure soul, hensive way, that would include all variethat was born a worshipper of truth, is as ties of its kind, and hence would be intelmuch alone in the moiled rabble of the ligible to every living being. This would common world, as if it had dropped from certainly be as great thinking as can be some planet nearer the sun.

conceived. And still if such an individual We have often fancied that if the whole were to arise and address the world in that range of thought were gone over, of which manner, we cannot suppose that he would the mind is capable, and all thoughts con be understood and reverenced as a teacher. sidered with reference to their origin—that No--not for years. The crowd would then we might arrive at some simple ori- still move on, amusing itself with metaginals, fewer in number than the material physical bubbles, while the prophet would elements, which should contain the germs only have credit for attempting to teach it and roots of them all. Thus the plain what it knew already. view of human character and motive set We have quoted largely from those forth in the Holy Scriptures might be seen parts of Monaldi which contain criticism of to be not only true, but the most profound painting, not only because anything on that that can be taken ; and those torsos of subject from its author must be read ancient ballads, which abound in all litera- with interest, but more for their evident intures, might be seen to have survived the trinsic merit. The criticism is of that sort wrack of time, not by the result of accident, which sinks into the mind and is never forbut from their originating in greatness and gotten. There is hardly a technical word being thence adapted to the highest as well in it, but yet it goes at once to the very as lowest conditions of being. For it is as root of the matter. It deserves to be much as the most honest and earnest treasured along with Mozart's humorous seeker after truth can do, to conquer the oracular decisions in music. * Still there downward inclination to profundity, and is nothing in it hard to be understood, and when we consider how many there are who any reader who does not comprehend its have no scruples, but are ever anxiously main purport at a glance, may rest asendeavoring to astonish their fellows in this sured he never will; he may feel its truth wise, what wonder is it that generation in a higher and wider sense as he lives on after generation should be kept wandering and grows in experience, but the essence of in dark mazes and crooked ways, when, if the distinctions is as manifest in a moment they would but look upward, they might as they ever can be.

.

For they are walk in the direct beams of the eternal great simple truths, as obvious as the pressun! If one could experience all, could go through all the joys, sorrows, love, hope,

* For example :-"Your symphony is too much grief-all that ever was, or can be suf

crowded, and to hear it partially or piecemeal, fered, and come out of it with a still un would be, by your permission, like beholding an blenched resolution, what ideas, what forms in it: Some compose fairly enough with other peo

ant hill. I mean to say as if Eppes, the devil, were of thought and expression, may we sup- ple's ideas, pot possessing any themselves; others, pose such an one would use in addressing who have ideas of their own, do not understand his race-supposing his memory perfect case ; only do not be angry, pray! But

your song and his mind capable of grasping and rend has a beautiful cantabile and your dear Fraenzl ing asunder the veil of his spirit ? What ought to sing it very often to you, which I should could he say more than, “I have lived; I minuet may well clatter or tinkle, but it will never have lain down and gat me up day by day; produce music; sapienti sat. I am not very expert I have eaten and drank ; I have loved and how it ought to be done." Letter to the Baron V

ence of matter, and at the same time with acuteness and technical learning. The as little considered. Superficial thinkers lustre of the painter's radiant soul shines who read them will say to themselves, “ It over it; the silent power of his imaginaneeded no ghost to tell us that !” but the tion bears us along with him through a truly discerning will value them as the ex more noble and refined life, than we could ponents of the artist's character and pur- venture to image to ourselves in this dusty poses. Those who have hearts themselves road of ordinary existence. We rise from will need no panegyrist to point to the reading him with a feeling that the old greatness or the value to art, of those few boyish notion of a gentleman was not so sentences about the divine Rafaelle; but wholly absurd as the bad world would there are a sort who will prefer to fancy make us believe. We feel our confidence themselves wiser by reading long pages of refreshed, the manly pride invigorated, the technicalities, that never come to the pur- resolution established. Come not near pose. Mr. Jenkinson, in the Vicar of us now, thou dark phantom of Care, nor Wakefield, instructs George how to make you, ye bitter mockeries of the Past! For a figure among connoisseurs of this calibre : here is a charm, that is proof against your

• You will do very well if you observe two most deadly influences—the impierceable rules: always remark that the picture armor of the spirit of youth. We feel as would have been better if the artist had we read, that the glory and the dream taken more pains, and secondly, always shall not pass away; and that, though we praise the works of Pietro Perugino.” have fallen, yet will we not be utterly cast

Had only the principles which might be down, for underneath this gloomy, actual deduced from the few passages respecting day, there is a greener earth and a serener painting, in the opening chapters of this heaven, where souls who have tasted the story, (we have not quoted half of them,) fern seed of high conceits, may walk inbeen brought out, illustrated, invested, with visible, apart from their muddy vesture of the care a person would have used toward decay! them to whom they were his whole stock And what is most excellent in the imain trade, we should have had volumes in- gined phase in which this work is constead of paragraphs. But the author of ceived and wrought, is that it is not a conMonaldi was too rich in ideas of his dition put on, or with difficulty assumed, art, and its works, to care to husband his , and widely differing from the writer's thoughts; neither could he be profuse or actual state, but it seems a part of his ostentatious in the display of them. He real life. He must have passed his days simply introduces them because they are in the habit of thinking and feeling he here essential to the development of his ideal exhibits as author. For so, and not othercharacter, whom he, naturally enough, wise, could he have attained this peculiar, made a painter. And the result is, that marked, simple elegance of style, thought, they are in reality far more effective than and tone, upon which we have been comthey could have been in the garb of formal menting. His daily walk and conversation criticism.

could not have been far below the level of For they come to us under the modify- this volume—lofty and pure as it is. Had ing influences of the author's imaginative it been so, we should have had a greater power. That is to say, the tone and keep- impetuosity and less certainty; we should ing of the tale, the expression which seems not have had more of a tendency to fine to clothe the face of him who is all through bursts and relapses, and less perfection in talking with us, his character as here every part. The fire of genius, instead of written down, gives a force and meaning burning with a steady glow, would have to his words which otherwise they could now flamed up, now died away into a fitful not have. We know better how Rafaelle glimmer. must have appeared to him, from the But there are many observers who canmanifestation he has given of himself. We not see any fire except that which is wrathlearn to see with his eyes. Hence this fully blazing. They judge of genius by tale is fuller of instruction for artists than the immediate difficulties it overcomes, a cold, ill-natured, or low-minded book and think that alone powerful which bears could possibly be, though it were stuffed up its possessors for short periods with

violent throes. Now we should remem here we may see that the principal persons ber that it is not the birds who fly highest all bear the reflective tinge-enough to that make the most flapping. The bird place them far above melodrama, and give of our country, whom our poets and them no mean position among the best artists ought to imitate, measures whole productions of the highest and most rarely territories without stirring a pinion. His successful style of character-painting. home is in the upper region, and frequently The same characteristics of the artist he sails supreme so near the sun that our appear also in the characters themselves, dull eyes can no more behold him.

considered as living beings. Love and Is not this rather the most powerful gentleness shed a benign influence over all genius, that can bear up its possessor so of them. Even the wretch Fialto shows that his ideal shall pervade his whole pangs of remorse enough to make us pity being, and he thus shall come to be the him, (as Burns pities the " deil ;'') Malactual embodiment of his own high fancies, dura repents—indeed, he is in many reand shall address us with the simple spects so large-minded and noble, that, bad humility of one who has unconsciously as he is, we never quite lose a respect for taken on refinement till it has become a him; Landi is a kind father; Monaldi, part of his very self? Milton evidently though overflowing with impulse, and thought so, when he says that for one to sensitive to the very motion of the air, write a great epic, his life ought also to be bears up for a long while against proofs a true poem. And that this is so with all to which a small soul would have yielded great poets and artists, the meagre ac at once, and commands our sympathy counts we get of them out of their works longer than Othello does in reading the very plainly show. They are men trans- play, or seeing it with the part of Desdelated, and speak to us out of the heaven mona a little brought forward, in the hands to which their high imagination has raised of a good actress. But what shall be said them. The smaller ones, with whom the of Rosalia ? Truly, she is “ blest above vulgar have more sympathy, inasmuch as women,”-in fiction at least-for never they think they could easily imitate them, was there brought before the vision a more do but flutter up a little to hear the cack- perfect picture of a loving wife; never ling beneath them, and soon cease to be were the girl and the matron so harmoniremembered as phenomena.

ously combined; never was there created The same mental constitution, or genius, in all the pages of novels and poems, a which guided the author in his taste, and more charming lady. And yet she is not gave him the power of combining so great like any other in the glorious sisterhood. a carefulness in style and thought, and she is an individual, as much as though she raised his whole being into a life so fraught had actual being. In brief, she is so truly with delicacy, tenderness and elegance, as present to the fancy, and inspires such a well as abounding in strength, impelled feeling, that (all epithets being too poor) him also in his choice of characters, and it seems most decorous to “let expressive in the manner of their development. silence muse her praise." She was Never were ideal personages more vividly most dear lady, but now she is a saint in set before us; and yet their qualities are heaven! brought out in such a way that it is We suspect it was originally intended a philosophical study to examine the by the author that her husband should drawings. The author is so constantly kill her, but that when he came to that pointing out the secret springs of their ac- place he had not the heart to let him do it, tions, that we are made acquainted, not though, perhaps, it had been happier for with the surface merely, their obvious pur- her, in the end, had they done so. He poses and doings, but with the motives tries in vain to bring them together after which lie concealed from their own con- the murderous attempt; but with such sciousness, so that we read them inside natures, could Monaldi's reason have been and out; and as a nice observer may see spared, a re-union could hardly have been a little of the Hamlet in all of Shakspeare's happy; there would always be the terrible high characters, in Prospero, Richard the recollection, and of two such hearts, each Third, Macbeth, Henry the Fifth, etc., so would always be borrowing sorrow on ac

count of the other. The tale ends, there So concludes this beautiful story, of fore, in the only way it could have ended, which we have here spoken in the fullas pure tragedy; but yet in that lofty ness of affection, partly to introduce to our walk of tragedy where a faith in Chris- | readers a work which (if it be in print) tianity supplies the place of poetic justice many of them will read with great delight, -where the characters do not lie down in and no less to do some reverence to a book death under a pall of unmingled woe, but which every American lover of good literaascend to the skies, and are seen beyond ture may justly refer to with peculiar the dark river, passing upward to the gates pride. of paradise.

G. W. P.

FAME.

Shade of a sound, of nothing bred,

In tongues of fools and weakling brains,
For thee seek we a gory bed,-

Endure for thee a martyr's pains,-
For thee, peace, freedom, life, resign?

-
What price, O Fame, for these is thine ?

Envy; the soul's advantage lost;

Drear nights, and over-wearied days;
Invention in long torment tost;

False blame, and undeserved praise ;
Hate, from the bad, and, from the good,
The doom-to be misunderstood.

Then why this restless, ceaseless toil ?

Since well the vain effect appears !
Why gifts abuse, and pleasures spoil,

To reap but anguish, darkness, tears!
'Tis Fame deludes; her subtle fire
Fills all the breast with false desire.

Just as, for torments long endured,

The wooer wins but bitter sweet,
And hates the hour his frenzy cured,

When all his dreams fruition meet;
So hates my soul her long-sought praise ;

Her saddest times are harvest days.
VOL. I. NO. IV. NEW SERIES.

24

LAMARTINE'S GIRONDINS. *

The work, the title of which is prefixed | put nothing on record for which he cannot to this article, has attracted much notice quote both chapter and verse, and if the in Europe, as imbodying the opinions of a truth of his statements be assailed, professes man of acknowledged genius, on a sub- his willingness to defend it. It would ject of great and lasting interest. M. De have been better, wherever he differs from Lamartine offers his book to the public, not his predecessors in matters of fact, to have as a complete history of the events he re- assigned at once the grounds of that diflates, but as a sketch in which some of the ference. The instances cannot be so nucauses and effects of the French Revolution merous or important, as to have much are rapidly developed ; and the particular impeded the march of the narrative. Anagency of a small

, but powerful party, in other error which, with due respect be it the struggle of a nation for its rights, forms written, he seems to us to have committed, the chief subject of investigation. This is the introduction in his book of matter recital,” says the author, " has none of the which, though not adventitious, yet might pretensions of history, and should not af- better have been reserved for utterance on fect its gravity.” We own we do not see another occasion. He is now engaged in much reason for this disclaimer : M. De | the history of the Constituent Assembly, Lamartine's work, as far as it extends, is a a work in which his just and philosophic history in the fullest sense of the word; view of the influence of Voltaire and Rousmen and events are drawn, not with the seau on the spirit of their age,

would

apindistinctness of outline and expression pear, certainly, with more propriety. which marks a mere sketch, but with the The death of Mirabeau has been selectlights and shadows of a finished picture. ed by the author, as the starting point of Every material circumstance, from the his story. This extraordinary man, notflight of the King to the fall of Robespierre, withstanding his private vices, had in pubfinds its place in this record; and each lic life an integrity of purpose, which, united prominent individual, from Mirabeau to with his genius, might have enabled him Marat, is portrayed with vigor and seeming to secure two objects apparently incompattruth. The style, though brilliant, is oc- ible—the freedom of the people, and the easionally clouded by metaphysical subtle authority of the crown. The correspondties; it partakes, too, of that dramatic ence found in the iron chest at the Tuillecharacter, which may sometimes lead to ries, proves, that he had pledged himself the substitution of fiction for fact, but has to the King, so to direct the current of always the merit of keeping the reader's at- revolutionary opinion, as to preserve to the tention alive, and of imparting to the nar throne its due share of political influence ; rative an interest that seldom flags. but by what means he would have executed

Though M. De Lamartine disclaims for this purpose, must be left to conjecture. his work the dignity of historical charac- Mirabeau was not likely to miscalculate his ter, it is certainly not with the view of es strength : no man of his time possessed in caping the responsibility of the historian. an equal degree the faculty of lifting the He has not burthened his work with refer- veil from the face of the future, nor was ences to authorities; neither appendix, nor there one among the statesmen of that age, notes, reveal the sources of his informa- who, like him, could mould circumstances tion ; but he pledges his word, that he has to his will, and “pluck safety out of dan

* Histoire des Girondins. Par A. DE LAMARTINE. Paris, 1847.

History of the Girondins, or Personal Memoirs of the Patriots of the French Revolution. From unpublished sources. By ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE. Translated by H. J. Hyde. 3 vols. Svo. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1847.

« AnteriorContinuar »