« VorigeDoorgaan »
"If the value of life," said Marsham, "is gained by a fruitless longing for what makes it valuable, is not a beggar rich only because he longs for riches? Is not a starving street-boy filled only because he stares into a cook shop window?"
"Stop," she cried. "Mr. Marsham, I beseech you, stop! The world is full of mysteries. Why turn the probe round in the painful wound? Do not think of what others cannot do, but of what you can do. You are not excused from choosing the right, because it is not open to all, as it is to you, to choose it. You are not your own,' she went on. "Should another ask your heart of you, you owe it to yourself and her to give it, not to keep the treasure of it laid up in a napkin. You know not the crime that you might commit by doing I have a friend who has loved a man long, but she has met with no return from him. My poor friend-I know her and her sorrows well; and I know that love unrequited, or withdrawn if half given, makes a woman spiteful and embittered. All the milk and honey of her nature turn to gall; and, besides hating the man she ought to love, she ends by despising herself, whom she ought to reverence. But you," she said, something of the old bitterness for a moment coming back to her, you will make no sacrifice for another. Your love is given utterly to this idle aimless life-this life, not of love, but of love-making, not even of pleasure, but of pleasure-seeking. Seethere is the boat coming for you. You must go now. Go-go. The night is getting chilly. You cannot stay longer, and I am too tired to again face the party. Alas, my friend! I can wish you nothing worse than that you may continue a life like this. But go. I shall see you soon again-shall I not? And think over meanwhile what I have said to you.'
“I fear you will not see me again for some time," he said. say give up nothing I delight in. I do delight, I confess it, in this idle life here; and yet to-morrow I am going to give this life up. My place is already taken by the mid-day train to-morrow, and the morning after I shall be in the fogs and frosts of England. Business, and business not of my own, but of others-of others whom I still try to help, but for whom I feel no affection-calls me away; and I choose to obey the call. Do not fear for my sake. I am not unhappy, though I am not happy, and I try to do my duties, though I make no solemn face whilst I am doing them. In England, in June, perhaps we may meet again; and if meanwhile happiness should come to me in the form of love, it will be so much the better for me, for we all welcome happiness; and I will ask you to congratulate me on the unhoped-for treasure. But if it does not, I shall remember with gratitude your interest in me all the same; and will only ask you not to waste your compassion on one who knows how to give a frolic welcome both to thunder and to sunshine, and whose worst crime it is, that he cools, with light amusements, brows that might otherwise be often aching."
He said good bye to her, but she hardly answered him. In another instant he was gone, and the voices of his friends soon mounted up to her as he was entering the boat. Lady Di remained motionless as a statue, leaning on the balustrade. "Going!" she moaned to herself. "Far off-gone-to-morrow!"
She was remaining lost in thought, when she was startled by a few chords struck suddenly on a guitar, the sound of which floated up to her, clear from the surface of the water. There was some woman," she exclaimed-“I remember they said so now-that was going to sing one of his songs as they rowed home! and has he the heart to ask it of her? Can he see nothing? Can he understand nothing?" She did not move. She stood there as if petrified, with her lips half parted.
Saxea ut effigies bacchantis constitit Evoe.
She was fearful and yet expectant of the woman's voice-the voice of the Countess Marie-of which she had often heard, but with which she had never dreamed of having such associations. Soon it came; and there came mixed with it a splash of oars, and a tinkling of the faint guitar-strings. The voice seemed to rise from the bosom of the moonlight, and so light and liquid, so aërial and so plaintive, were the sound and melody, that they might have come from some soulless mermaid or Siren; and seemed expressive half of exultant buoyancy, half of extreme sadness.
"Hollow and vast starred skies are o'er us,
"Row, young oarsman, row, young oarsman;
What of the shore and friends? Young oarsman,
"See how shadow and silver mingle
Here on the wonderful wide bare sea;
And shall we sigh for the blinking ingle-
"Are we fain of the old smiles tender?
The happy passion, the pure repose?
"Row, young oarsman, far out yonder,
"Not a fetter is here to bind us,
Love and memory loose their spell:
"Row, young oarsman, far out yonder,
Over the moonlight's breathing breast.
"Row, young oarsman, row, young oarsman!
What of the shore and friends? Young oarsman,
Lady Diotima could not distinguish the words; but she stood listening for the last faint sounds till long after they had become inaudible. Then she turned and walked slowly back towards the villa. Tears fell slowly from her eyes. She started to find herself shaken with a convulsive sob. Life indeed," she cried bitterly, "has a perfect happiness for all of us, if we only long for it, no matter whether or no we win it!" Then once more she turned towards the sea, and to the silver track on which she knew the boat was floating, and exclaimed, half aloud, in the still flower-scented night-air, as she looked :
"And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part;
You, as your business and desire shall prompt you-
Such as it is-and for my own poor part,
Look you, I will go pray."
W. H. MALLOCK, in Nineteenth Century.
THE ARTISTIC DUALISM OF THE RENAISSANCE.
INTO the holy enclosure which had received the precious shiploads of earth from Calvary the Pisans of the thirteenth century carried the fragments of ancient sculpture brought from Rome and from Greece; and in the Gothic cloister enclosing the greensward and dark cypresses of the graveyard of Pisa, the art of the Middle Ages came for the first time face to face with the art of antiquity. There, among pagan sarcophagi turned into Christian tombs, with heraldic devices chiselled on to their arabesques and vizored helmets surmounting their garlands, the great unsigned artist of the fourteenth century-be he Sienese or Florentine, be he Orcagna, Lorenzetti, or Volterra-painted the typical masterpiece of medieval art, the great fresco of the Triumph of Death. With wonderful realization of character and situation, he painted the prosperous of the world, the dapper youths and damsels seated with dogs and falcons beneath the orchard trees,
amusing themselves with Decameronian tales and sound of lute and psaltery, unconscious of the gigantic scythe wielded by the gigantic dishevelled Death, and which, in a second, will descend and mow them to the ground; but the crowd of beggars, ragged, maimed, paralyzed, leprous, grovelling on their withered limbs, see and implore Death, and cry, stretching forth their arms, their stumps, and their crutches. Further on, three kings in long embroidered robes and gold-trimmed shovel caps-Lewis the Emperor, Uguccione of Pisa, and Castruccio of Lucca-with their retinue of ladies and squires, and hounds and hawks, are riding quietly through a wood. Suddenly their horses stop, draw back; the Emperor's bay stretches out his long neck, sniffing the air; the kings strain forward to see, one holding his nose for the stench of death which meets him; and before them are three open coffins, in which lie, in three loathsome stages of corruption, from blue and bloated putrescence to well-nigh fleshless decay, three crowned corpses. This is the Triumph of Death, the grim and horrible jest of the Middle Ages: equality in decay; kings, emperors, ladies, knights, beggars, and cripples, this is what we all come to be stinking corpses; Death, our lord, our only just and lasting sovereign, reigns impartially over all.
But opposite, all along the sides of the painted cloister, the amazons are wrestling with the youths on the stone of the sarcophagi; the chariots are dashing forward, the Tritons are splashing in the marble waves; the Bacchantes are striking their timbrels in their dance with the satyrs; the birds are pecking at the grapes, the goats are nibbling at the vines, all is life, strong and splendid in its marble eternity. And the mutilated Venus smiles towards the broken Hermes; the stalwart Hercules, resting against his club, looks on quietly, a smile beneath his beard; and the gods murmur to each other, as they stand in the cloister filled with earth from Calvary, where hundreds of men lie rotting beneath the cypresses, "" Death will not triumph for ever; our day will come."
We have all seen them opposite to each other, these two arts, the art born of antiquity and the art born of the Middle Ages; but whether this meeting was friendly or hostile, or merely indifferent, is a question of constant dispute. To some, medieval art has appeared being led, Dante-like, by a magician Virgil through the mysteries of Nature up to a Christian Beatrice, who alone can guide it to the kingdom of heaven; others have seen medieval art, like some strong, chaste knight, turning away resolutely from the treacherous sorceress of antiquity, and pursuing solitarily the road to the true and the good; for some the antique has been an impure goddess Vehus, seducing and corrupting the Christian artist; the antique has been for others a glorious Helen, an unattainable perfection, ever pursued by the medieval craftsman, but seized by him only as a phantom. Magician or witch, voluptuous, destroying Venus or cold and ungrasped Helen, what was the antique to the art born of the Middle Ages and
developed during the Renaissance? Was the relation between them that of tuition, cool and abstract, or of fruitful lore, or of deluding and damning example?
The art which came to maturity in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries was generated in the early medieval revival. seeds may, indeed, have come down from antiquity, but they remained for nearly a thousand years hidden in the withered, rotting remains of former vegetation, and it was not till that vegetation had completely decomposed and become part of the soil, it was not till putrefaction had turned into germination, that artistic organism timidly reappeared. The new art-germ developed with the new civilization which surrounded it. Manufacture and commerce reappeared; the artisans and merchants formed into communities; the communities grew into towns, the towns into cities, in the city arose the cathe. dral; the Lombard or Byzantine mouldings and traceries of the cathedral gave birth to figure-sculpture; its mosaics gave birth to painting; every forward movement of the civilization unfolded as it were a new form or detail of the art, until, when medieval civilization was reaching its moment of consolidation, when the cathedrals of Lucca and Pisa stood completed, when Niccolo and Giovanni Pisani had sculptured their pulpits and sepulchres, painting, in the hands of Cimabue and Duccio, of Giotto and of Guido da Siena, freed itself from the tradition of the mosaicists as sculpture had freed itself from the practice of the stone-masons, and stood forth an independent and organic art.
Thus painting was born of a new civilization, and grew by its own vital force, a thing of the Middle Ages, original and spontaneous. But contemporaneous with the medieval revival was the resuscitation of antiquity; in proportion as the new civilization developed, the old civilization was exhumed; real Latin began to be studied only when real Italian began to be written; Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio were at once the founders of modern literature and the exponents of the literature of antiquity; the strong young present was to profit by the experience of the past.
As it was with literature, so likewise was it with art. The most purely medieval sculpture, the sculpture which has, as it were, just detached itself from the capitals and porches of the cathedral, is the direct pupil of the antique; and the three great Gothic sculptors, Niccolo, Giovanni, and Andrea of Pisa, learn from fragments of Greek and Roman sculpture how to model the figure of the Redeemer and how to chisel the robe of the Virgin. This spontaneous mediæval sculpture, aided by the antique, preceded by a full half-century the appearance of medieval painting; and it was from the study of the works of the Pisan sculptors that Cimabue and Giotto learned to depart from the mummified monstrosities of the Miratic, Byzantine, and Roman style of Giunta and Berlinghieri. Thus, through the sculpture of the Pisans the painting of the school of Giotto received at