Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

which strong men battled fiercely in noble tender light which is not wholly of the civil war for lofty principles; and is sur. earth. He is true, but is drawn with a rounded by the color, warmth, languor, of certain intentional unreality; he is not the soft south, and the sunny land of mu- quite actual, but is faithful to a high ideal sic, art of misery and vice. It is the type of partly diseinbodied spirit. And time of the afterglow of the Renaissance, yet Inglesant loved the life of art and with all its splendors and its shames; and delicate luxury; loved to dress finely and Mr. Shorthouse knows thoroughly the to lie softly ; loved to live in kings' palstate of Italy at that period, the corrup- aces, and cared for all elegant surroundtion of the Church, the misgovernment of ings. Mr. Shorthouse always supplies the people, and the general sufferings and his hero with ample means; and environs crimes.

him with music and all sensuous

not

sensual - delights. It cannot have escaped your notice, since you have been in Italy, that there is much that

Very characteristic is Inglesant's subis rotten in the state of government, and to be jection to the teaching of the great Quiet. deplored in the condition of the people. I do ist, Molinos, who has an additional attracnot know in what way you may have accounted tion for the Englishman in respect that he for this lamentable condition of affairs in your is, virtually, in antagonism to the ordinary own mind; but among ourselves there is but teaching and practice of the Romish one solution - the share that priests have in priesthood; and is, in striving for the betthe government, not only in the Pope's terri- ter life, earning the crown of martyrdom tory, but in all the other courts of Italy where in this life. The doctrines and example they have rule.

It requires to be an Italian, of Molinos differ widely from those of De and to have grown to manhood in Italy, to estimate justly the pernicious influence of the Cressy; but we have, in Mr. Shorthouse, clergy upon all ranks of society.

a guide who can lead us through all ten

tatives of spiritual struggle; and who Inglesant carried with him to Italy his writes, with full comprehension and real religious aspiration combined with free sympathy, of all movements and tendenspeculative opinion; his sorrowful striv. cies which even profess to strive for light ings after divine truth, his refinement and and guidance. A man who goes to Rome his culture ; but he also bore with him for religion, may find it, as Luther did, in “his weakness and bis melancholy ;” and a sense that he dreamed not of; and Inhe suffered under strained nerves, de: glesant found that the ordinary clerical pressed vitalism, and an oppression and life of Rome tended to sap the foundaconfusion of the o'ercharged and weary lions of religion. He found, in high brain. He has become in part, “ brain places, the tone of pagan philosophy; and sickly.” To his diseased organization, perfect tolerance of opinion, combined the fair earth seemed wrapped in a hot with lofty indifference to dogma or to docsteaming mist of swooning liaze. To his trine. The many conversations between dream-fever, men and things appeared Inglesant and cardinals, and the like, are faint, shadowy, unreal; and all life was often as much doctrinal as dramatic; and clouded with a vaporous veil. Illusion seem to be — perhaps are meant to be was his nearest actuality; and men moved the dialogue between the "two voices” about him, acted upon him, almost as which debate in Inglesant's own restless spectres, which appeared to be without soul.. Among the "obstinate question. clear volition, or very real existence. ings ” which puzzle his will is the doubt

The slight, sad cavalier, fair as was about the life of man as it is ; about man Milton in his youth, gentle and graceful, as he is instead of as, according to theolocourteous, serene, and tender, breathed gians, he should be. in a fine, delicate air of phantasy, and only Popular lise and pagan survivals prehals realized mortal life and human inter- sent an incessant, many-sided problem to ests.

bis intellect. He cannot overcome his In this highly pitched romance, all natural sympathy with frail, faulty human. events and occurrences are subordinated ity, acting in accordance with its natural to spiritu aims and ends. Love, ambi- impuls and instinctive needs. Human tion, action, revenge, in Inglesant, all play life may be more than any theories about parts which tend to exemplify the sorrow life. Nay, that voice within Inglesant ful strivings of a yearning soul. The which is personated by the sensuous other characters seem more actual and pagan cardinal finds tolerance even for objective when contrasted with Inglesant's the “beast within the man;

even for dreamy intangibility and philosophic ab. “the worship of Priapus, of human life, straction. He moves about in a soft and in which nothing comes amiss or is to be

a

staggered at, however voluptuous and idleness of the innumerable religious sensual, for all things are but varied mani- orders,” but, knowing all this, he yet festations of life; of life, ruddy, delicious, did not decline the mission. The worldfull of fruits, basking in sunsbine and wearied and death-dreading duke tells plenty, dyed with the juice of grapes.” Inglesant, “ I cannot see the figure of the Inglesant in this mood sympathizes with, Christ for the hell that lies between.” and yet pities the natural instinct which Ah, Altezza,” says Inglesant, his eyes seeks for natural pleasure, which desires full of pity, "something stands between to attain to those joys of sense which are us and the heavenly life. . . . It seems to agreeable to man's created nature. Ingle- me that your Highness has but to throw sant, at least, never bows to the religion off that blasphemous superstition which of personal fear; and there are times in is found in all Christian creeds alike, which his thought leans to a love of mere which has not feared to blacken even the humanity as that exists in fact. The earth shining gates of heaven with the smoke of claims her son.

hell.” The result of Inglesant's political train- Ultimately the priests gain their point; ing was, that a life of intrigue and policy and the success in Umbria is ascribed to had become a necessity of his nature; Inglesant, who had characteristically jugbut it is noteworthy that he cares for the gled with his dimmed conscience by not Jesuit's crast, and not for the statesman's pressing directly upon the duke the policy honor. His nature was subdued to what of bequeathing his state to Rome. The it worked in. He sought no open and grateful old man, who had conceived a responsible political position; but would strong regard for the courteously symundertake any secret mission even though pathetic emissary of the Church, rewards it were not of a noble nature. Noble ac. Inglesant, in a princely manner, by the tion in public affairs, or right morality in gift of a fief in the Apennines, consisting politics, had lost all meaning for him. of some farms, and of the villa-castle of His will was doininated by the Society of San Giorgio, which confers the title of Jesus; and he had, as his merited pun cavaliere upon their owner. ishinent, obscured the conscience. The Around the path of Inglesant flickers only form of action that he contemplated frequently the phantom of the murderer was intrigue. We have seen how, at St. of Eustace - Malvolti — who burns to Clare's bidding, he worked to introduce murder the avenging brother of his former into England Irish Papist murderers; and victim, and who makes several futile atnow the Jesuits have found for him an- tempts upon the life of John Inglesant. other ignoble mission.

This wretch is even a rival for the hand of The old Duke of Umbria, tired of the Inglesant's new love, Lauretta. The world, is near bis end, and it is the object dissolute and unprincipled brother of Lau. of the Society of the Gesù to cause the retta is, unknown to Inglesant, an accomold man to make over the succession of plice of the assassin of his brother; and his state to the Holy See. Such a step the pair plot together to get Inglesant into would be taken to the prejudice of the their toils, and to tempt him to ruin by heirs, and to the infinite injury of the poor exposing him to a trial of the senses in people of the duchy. In Inglesant, "the which Lauretta shall, unconsciously, act old habit of implicit obedience was far as the temptress. Inglesant is selected from obliterated or even weakened, and to accompany Lauretta in a night flight though St. Clare was not present, the su- from Florence to Pistoja. The lady is preme motive of his influence was not fleeing from the tyrannous brother who unfelt;” and yet the emissary felt, in his threatens to force her into a loathed union better nature, when he saw the duke, that with that Malvolti, whose infamous char“his conscience smote him at the thought acter is well known to the Italian lady. of abusing bis[the duke's] confidence, and During their night ride the lovers pause of persuading him to adopt a course which to rest and sup at a pavilion of the duchInglesant's own heart warned him might ess in the forest. They find all things not in the end be conducive to the duke's prepared for them at the pavilion. The own peace, or to the welfare of the peo. | moonlit night is soft and warm. 'The ple.” Inglesant was well acquainted with wine is good; the solitude complete. the cruel misgovernment to which the Alone with Lauretta in the lonely cham. inhabitants of the unhappy duchy would ber, in the still, voluptuous hour, she rebe subjected under the rule of the Holy clines, in all her loveliness, on a couch, See; he knew the "oppression and waste and her lover's arms encircle her; and caused by the accumulated wealth and | Inglesant is exposed to a terrible tempta

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

66

[ocr errors]

tion in which the senses seem about to Malvolti can John Inglesant know peace, lead him to dishonor; to a dishonor which or attain to blessedness. The long-hauntwould have depraved his moral instinct | ing problem is solved in this wise.' On and confused his sensitive purity. But the road from Umbria to Rome, Ingleacross the impulse of the sorely tempted sant, clad in a suit of shining armor, girt senses arise the visions of the sacramen- with a jewelled sword, both gifts from the tal Sundays at Little Gidding - of the dying duke, rides with due escort over the pure eyes of the dead Mary Collet - and hills and down the long, wooded slope into Inglesant resists and overcomes. " It is the valley. A presentiment of some comnot so easy to ruin him with whom the ing fate or danger oppresses his weary pressure of Christ's hand yet lingers in brain," and the recollection of his brother the palm."

rose again in his remembrance, distinct Many charming episodes in this charm- and present as in life.” Suddenly, in the ing book, many characteristic Italian oc- faint morning light, at the turning of the currences, must, of necessity, be passed road, face to face with Inglesant, stood over in so brief a study; but the greatest Malvolti, who had treacherously murepisode — for episode only it remains dered his brother, and had sought Inglein Inglesant's Italian life is his marriage sant's own life. The escort, in answer to with Lauretta. Mr. Shorthouse means, Inglesant's inquiry of "what is due” to probably, to indicate that his hero was such a villain, replies, “ Shoot the dog incapable of deep love, of mighty passion; through the head. Hang him on the near. and he weds a woman, the most lightly est tree. Carry him into Rome and torsketched figure in the book, who cannot ture him to death !” fill his beart, or share his higher life. In an agony of terror, the wretch Lauretta touches our hearts as little as screams to Inglesant, Mercy, monshe did that of her husband. The only signore ! mercy! I dare not, I am not fit true love of which Inglesant was capable to die. For the blessed Host, monsignore, lies buried in the grave of Mary Collet. have mercy – for the love of Jesu – for

A typical papal election is finely de. the sake of Jesu!” scribed in Chapter XXX. ::

The cruel light faded out of Inglesant's

eyes. He was both above and below re. If, perchance, there entered into this Convenge; above it in virtue of his Chris. clave any old Cardinal, worn by conflict with tianity, below it in respect of his physical the Church's enemies “in partibus infidelium,” irresolution. He spares the culprit. amid constant danger of prison or death; or

Close by was a little chapel, in which perchance coming from amongst harmless peasants in country places, and by long ab- the bell had just ceased ringing for mass. sence from the centre of the Church's polity, Inglesant entered, with his train, and when ignorant of the manner in which ber Princes the priest offered Inglesant the sacrament, trod the footsteps of the Apostles of old, and he took it. by the memory of such conflict and of such Inglesant then told his story to the innocence, and because of such ignorance, was priest, and gave up his jewelled sword, led to entertain dreams of divine guidance, two saying, " Take this sword, reverend faor three days' experience caused such an one ther, and let it lie upon the altar beneath to renounce all such delusion, and to return to the Christ himself; and I will make an his distant battlefield, and to see Rome no offering for daily masses for my brother's

soul.” Of course, Inglesant takes a lay part in The good priest was “ one of those the weariness, the perils, and terrors childlike peasant priests to whom the including the apparition of a phantom of great world was unknown;

" and to such murder – of the Conclave.

à man "it seemed nothing strange that To one always living on the verge of de. the blessed St. George himself, in jewlirium, the three years of marriage peace, elled armor, should stand before the altar at San Giorgio, may have been of service in the mystic morning light;" so he took - but to loglesant permanent rest was not the shining sword and placed it on the permitted. He has won such love as he altar. yet was capable of : he has yet to get quit But Inglesant's visit seemed like unto of his long-projected, long.desired questa vision; and remained a legend.

Long of vengeance upon his brother's mur. afterwards, perhaps even to the present derer. That state of chronic bitterness, day, popular tradition took the story up of vague desire for revenge, wars against and related that once, when the priest of a soul which would be at rest in Christ. the mountain chapel was a very holy man, Not until he shall have reckoned with the blessed St. George himself, in shining

more.

ול

[ocr errors]

to

armor, came across the mountains one different expression to the face. His manner morning very early, and partook of the was courteous and polite, almost to excess. sacrament

The legend was sup- We like to look upon Joho Inglesant ported by the evidence of the sword itself; as, in his latter days, he lived, and moved, and the vision had this basis of merit, and had his being. We find him much that it referred to a good priest and to a what we should have expected him to be ; noble knight.

and gaze upon him with pleasure before In quest of his wife's wicked brother, he vanishes forever from our eyes, and Inglesant travels to Naples when the becomes only a possession of the fancy, a plague is raging there. Mr. Short house phantom of the memory. The virtuoso has not Defoe's matchless imaginative brought with him a violin, inscribed" Jarealism, but his description of the pesti. cobus Stainer, in Absam propé Eniponlence in the doomed city is touched with tem, 1647," and played upon it with a fine spiritual grace. Blind, disordered mastery, after the Italian manner. The in brain, Malvolti once more crosses the tone seemed to me,” says Mr. Lee, path of Inglesant; but this time the terri. exceed even that of the Cremonas.” ble expiation imposed for terrible crimes

On minds of virile force, Rome, when moves Ioglesant to pity. The conversion known intimately, exercises gradually of Malvolti is, indeed, a somewhat mirac- more repulsion than attraction, and John ulous one. During his absence, Lauretta Inglesant, who had all but joined her com. and his boy have died at San Giorgio, and munion, is, as the result of his experience, Inglesant is wifeless and is childless.

ultimately repelled by her. Mr. Short. In Rome the better side of his nature house does not preach against that Church, sympathizes in so far with the doomed but he teaches by showing; he attacks by Molinos that the Society of the Gesù illustration ; and he furnishes an arınory resents his action. The general of the of practical argument against Papacy and Society of the Gesù tells him that, in

Jesuit. Rome, they do not need such high-class Mr. Lee said “that as Mr. Inglesant agents; we require only agents of a far had had much experience in the working lower type: " and he urges Inglesant to of the Romish system, he should be glad return to England. As this advice is to know his opinion of it, and whether he given while the cavaliere is in prison in preferred it to that of the English Church.” Sant Angelo, it is implicitly and even From Mr. Inglesant's long reply we may gratefully followed.

extract the following: We next — and for the last time — meet

This is what the Church of Rome has ever with John Inglesant in England and at Oxford. How changed the fair old col- done. She has traded upon the highest inlegiate city from the days in which the stincts of humanity, upon its faith and love, its young cavalier acted there before Charles denial, its imagination and yearning after the

passionate remorse, its self-abnegation and 1. and his queen and court! How changed unseen. ... To support this system it has the man himself, who returns, sadder and habitually set itself to suppress knowledge and wiser, to the old scene! How changed freedom of thought, before thought had taught the England to wbich he returned! The itself to grapple with religious subjects, belast glimpse we get of him is from a let-cause it foresaw that this would follow. It ter of Mr. Valentine Lee, chirurgeon, of has, therefore, for the sake of preserving intact Reading, addressed to Mr. Anthony Pas- its dogma, risked the growth and welfare of chall, physician, London ; but in that letter humanity, and has, in the eyes of all except

those who value this dogma above all other Inglesant's own words are reverently re.

things, constituted itself the enemy of the hucorded.

I have, perhaps, occupied a posiFirst, for the physical appearance of tion which enables me to judge soinewhat our hero:

[ocr errors]

advantageously between the Churches, and my

earnest advice is this, You will do wrong He wore his own hair long, after the fashion mankind will do wrong - if it allows to drop of the last age, but in other respects he was out of existence, merely because the position dressed in the mode - in a French suit of on which it stands seems to be illogical, an black satin, with cravat and ruffles of Mechlin agency by which the devotional instincts of lace. His expression was lofty and abstracted, human nature are enabled to exist side by side his features pale and somewhat thin, and his with the rational. carriage gave me the idea of a man who had The English Church, as established by the seen the world, and in whom few things were law of England, offers the supernatural to all capable of exciting any extreme interest or who choose to come. It is like the Divine attention. His eyes were light blue, of that Being Himself, whose sun shines alike on the peculiar shade which gives a dreamy and in evil and on the good. Upon the altars of the

man race.

[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]

a

Church the Divine Presence hovers as surely, | dejection arising from baffled straining to those who believe it, as it does upon the after an upattainable divine ideal. He is splendid altars of Rome. The way is ever striving, but never fully convinced. open ; it is barred by no confession, no human To the comfort of conviction in his expriest. Shall we throw this aside? It has been won for us by the death and torture of alted spiritual ideals of revelation he can. men like ourselves in bodily frame, infinitely not fully attain, and remains in an attitude superior to some of us in self-denial and en- of sad, high, longing discontent. For he durance. Let us, says Mr. Inglesant, further, desired, with an unspeakable yearning, above all things hold fast by the law of life we and through many tentatives, to see the feel within.

face of God, to behold the beatific vision ;

though while acting in cieca obedienza, as The essence of his last utterances may the conscienceless automaton of priestly be condensed into the sad, deep saying: and immoral despotism, he could but ob" Absolute truth is not revealed.

scure the light towards which he strained. "John Inglesant” is a work of rare and Inglesant could reach to rapture in a temdelicate merit, and it has become a per- porary or seeming conviction of transient manent possession of our literature. It emotion; but in the cold light of common seems scarcely likely that Mr. Shorthouse day, in the long hours of ordinary life, the will become a voluminous writer. His weary wings of aspiration flagged and profound, conscientious, thoughtful art failed, and let the soul sink down again to needs to work slowly, and to mature its question and to doubt. conceptions before they are set forth in And then came back the nameless sorart shape and form. His intellect is, per- row, drawn from the depths of some haps, subtle and fine rather than robust divine despair, and the renewal of languid and virile; and, the creature being the effort after the ever-receding unseen goal. product of the creator, his hero is distin. His profound reverence, his ceaseless guished more for sweet grace and tender. struggle, the ever-burning fame of his Dess than for strong, clear, healthy man- devout thought, seemed to droop under bood. “Joho Inglesant” is a moral study the chronic depression of a down-weighed in morbid pathology; but none the less is spirit. There are men who are led by the the study valuable and delightful, and facts of life to doubt of the beneficence of pregnant with deep meanings. Not, an inscrutable Deity; there are men who tberefore, is it less interesting to thought- get no comfort from their faith, who get ful readers who care for the higher things no answer to their prayer. The faith can. of question and of thought.

not penetrate mystery, the prayer does Mr. Shorthouse's style is one of calm, not seem to pierce through mist; and yet grave flow, deep and full, and always such men must still endeavor to trust, musical and picturesque. There is, in will pray though no answer be vouchsafed. this writer, no effervescence of mind, no But the state of soul which results from tone of levity: Singularly suited to the the long conflicts in which they have not theme, the style does not rise above the been victorious is joyless and is dull. level streain of sustained dignity and phil. They trust, not faintly but firmly, the osophic seriousness. There are not many larger hope; but they know that hope is dramatic movements, nor does the writer hope, and not conviction.

They have ever soar to tragedy. Placid and even, knocked, but it has not been opened to with a sweet use of finely chosen words, them; they have yearned, but the yearn. parrative, action, pictures, philosophy, ing has not led to the promised result. disquisition, and dialogue, are all main. They have failed to feel the quickening tained in the exact tone which is true to touch of the living God of revelation. the keynote of the deep and delightful They cannot hide that, as is sung in lines book.

written long after the day of John Ingle. The individual spiritual needs and striv- sant, ings of Joho Inglesant - long since quiet

Some have striven, are of moment to us, not Achieving calm, to whom was given only as they affected the individual, but as The joy that mixes man with Heaven : types of the sorrows and struggles of the soul of man. He, like so many other men, but they also feel in deep dejection stands sadly in the shadow of infinite is sung in lines written long before the light and of divine truth. He wrestles

day of John Inglesant, but surely unas so many other men wrestle — with known to him — that we are but thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls, Impotent pieces of the game He plays and he suffers eventually from the deep | Upon this chequer-board of nights and days;

in the grave

[ocr errors]

as

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »