The Genius of Hawthorne
TO understand the Marble Faun, or, as the English publishers compelled Hawthorne to call their edition, “ Transformation,” it should be read in the atmosphere of Rome. Everything in that moral, or rather entirely immoral, atmosphere serves to interpret the artistic work of an author in whom intellect and sensibility are one to a degree that scarcely can be predicated of any other ; and whose power to express what he felt with his mind, and thought with his heart (we use these expressions advisedly), are unsurpassed, if not unsurpassable.
Every one, whether cultivated or uncultivated, acknowledges the charm of Hawthorne’s style ; but the most cultivated best appreciate the wonder of that power by which he wakes into clear consciousness shades of feeling and delicacies of thought, that perhaps have been experienced by us all, but were never embodied in words before.
We are not prepared to fully adopt the dogmatic statement of a recent critic, who declared prose composition a higher kind of expression than that which the world has hitherto united in calling poetry ; but Hawthorne goes far to prove that language even without rhythm is an equal organ of that genius which, whether it speak in music, sculpture, painting, or measured words, is a still more ethereal image of the Infinite in the finite ; an utterance of the divine by the human which may not always be understood at once, but which creates understanding within us more and more forever.
Judging by this standard, — the power of creating understanding within those whom he addresses, — Hawthorne takes rank with the highest order of artists. For it is not the material in which a man works that determines his place as an artist, but the elevation and fineness of the truth his work communicates. Was ever a more enduring house built by architectural genius, or made more palpable to the senses of men, than The House of the Seven Gables ? Or did any sculptor ever uncover a statue of marble that will last longer than the form of Judge Pyncheon, over whose eyeball the fly crawls as he sits dead ? And what painted canvas or frescoed wall by any master of color has preserved a more living, breathing image of the most evanescent moods of sensibility and delicacies of action than are immortalized in the sketches of Alice and of Clifford, and the tender nursing of the latter after the arrival of Phæbe ?
The House of the Seven Gables is a tragedy that takes rank by the side of the Trilogy of the Agamemnon, Choephoroi, and Eumenides, without the aid of the architecture, sculpture, verse, dancing, and music which Æschylussummoned to his aid to set forth the operation of the Fury of the house of Atrides that swept to destruction four generations of men. It takes two hundred years for the crime which the first Pyncheon perpetrated against the first Maule to work itself off,—or, we should rather say, for the forces of the general humanity to overcome the inevitable consequences of one rampant individuality, that undertook to wield the thunderbolts of Omnipotence against a fellow-mortal possessing gifts not understood, and therefore condemned. The peaceful solution of the problem of fate in the modern tragedy is undoubtedly due to the Christian light which the noble heathen lacked; it is love, in every pure and unselfish form, that undoes the horrible spell which pride of possession and place and a pharisaic lust of rule laid upon the house of Pyncheon. As soon as the father of Phæbe freely followed out, in his own individual case, the genial impulse of nature, which consumed in its passionate glow the family pride that had proved so fatal, and thus admitted the general humanity into equality, or rather sued, as lovers wont, to be allied to it, even at the expense of all the external advantages of his birthright, the good providence of God accepted and justified the deed, bysending into the first real home that a Pyncheon had made for himself one of those “angels that behold the face of the Father,” who, in process of time, goes back to the desolate old house to bless it, without consciousness of the high place she holds among ministering spirits, or what a mighty deed she does by simply being the innocent, sweet, loving creature she is ; while the corresponding last Maule in the light of the science which the general progress of society has given him finds an explanation of the peculiar power which the exceptional organization of his lineage had made hereditary ; and, exercising it in a common-sense way, and with simple good feeling, the curse of the first Maule upon the first Pyncheon is at last replaced by a marriage blessing and bond, laying to sleep the Fury of Retribution, attendant on the crime which is the key-note of the whole story, and which had reappeared through so many generations, — for it makes the two families one.
In The Marble Faun we have a picture of Rome, not only as it appears to the senses and to the memory, but also to the spiritual apprehension which penetrates the outward show. Genius in Hawthorne was limited, as that of all men must be, by his temperament, but less than that of most men by his will. To “give his thought act” was not his impulse, but to represent it to other men. He was not, therefore, so much an effective power among other powers in the current life, as the quiet, open eye that gathers truth for other men to enact. His vocation was to set forth what he saw so clearly with such accuracy of outline, fulness of coloring, and in such dry light as would enable other men to interpret the phenomena about them as he did. He does not invent incidents, much less a dramatic narrative. He loved best to take some incident ready made to his hand, and to work out in thought the generation of it from eternal principles, or the consequences of it in the spiritual experience of those concerned in it, whether actively or passively. Most writers of fiction not only tell you what their heroes and heroines do, but why ; dogmatically stating how they feel and what they think. Hawthorne seldom does this. He does not seem to know much more about his heroes and heroines than he represents them to know of each other; but, recognizing the fact that most outward action is from mixed motives, and admits of more than one interpretation, he is very apt to suggest two or three quite diverse views, and, as it were, consult with his readers upon which may be the true one ; and not seldom he gives most prominence to some interpretation which we fecl pretty sure is not his own.
This characteristic peculiarity is nowhere more conspicuous than in The Marble Faun. He does not seem to know whether Donatello has pointed and furry ears or not. He touches the story of Miriam with such delicacy that those readers who are more interested in the gossip of temporary life than in the eternal powers which underlie it, generating a spiritual being which is never to pass away, are angry with the author, and accuse him of trifling with their feelings by raising curiosities which he does not gratify, and exciting painful sympathies which he does not soothe ; they even call it a malicious use of a power which he ought to consecrate to increasing the enjoyment of his readers.
But few authors are really so little guilty as Hawthorne of any wanton use of their power over other minds. A work of literary art he did not view as merely an instrument for giving pleasure, but as a means to discover truth, or, rather, to put his readers on the track of discovering it in company with himself. What he especially seeks for are those great laws of human thought, feeling, and action which are apt to be covered from self-consciousness by transient emotions, and the force of outward circumstances of habit and general custom. In The Scarlet Letter, for instance, he is plainly inquiring into the law of repentance, or the human being’s sober second thought upon his own action, after it has become an irrevocable fact of nature ; and he also asks what is the part that the social whole has to do, or does do, to make this sober second thought work the cure of the sinning soul and of wounded society. In one of the Twice-told Tales (Endicott and his men) he brings before our eyes, by the magic of his art, a day of the Puritan life of New England which was historical ; for the dry chronicles tell us of Endicott’s cutting the Red Cross out of the English banner on a “ trainingday,” when the news suddenly reached him from England of some untoward act of Charles I. As usual, Hawthorne gives a framework to this historical incident from the characteristic phenomena of Puritan life as it appeared at that period in New England. “ Training-day ” was always the afternoon of “lecture-day,” when all the people were required to assemble for a sermon, and the militia were in their uniforms. It was on this day that all the wrongdoers were punished. Among these he mentions a woman standing on the " meeting-house ” steps, with the letter A on her breast, which, he adds, she was condemned to wear all her life before her children and the townspeople. For our fathers, he observes (we quote from memory), thought it expedient to give publicity to crime as its proper punishment. And then he queries whether the modern mode of keeping certain kinds of crime out of sight were better, or even more merciful, to the criminal and society. A friend asked Hawthorne if for this particular punishment he had documentary evidence ; and he replied that he had actually seen it mentioned in the town records of Boston, but with no attendant circumstances. This friend said to another at that time, “ We shall hear of that letter A again ; for it evidently has made a profound impression on Hawthorne’s mind.” And in eight or ten years afterwards appeared the romance of The Scarlet Letter, throwing its lurid glare upon the Puritan pharisaism and self-righteous pride, and engraved with spiritual fire on the naked breast of the unsuspected sinner.
If the musty chronicles of New England history could afford an artist material for such a sharp-cut high-relief of real life as excited him to a study of its meaning so earnest that it has drawn into sympathetic interest tens of thousands of readers, who feel as if they were living in the midst of that terribly bleak locality and day, we cannot wonder that Rome, whose very aspect is so picturesque, and whose history combines such varieties of human experience, should have awakened emotions and suggested questions of a kindred depth. Many such questions are certainly asked and answered, at least hypothetically, in The Marble Faun. It is rather remarkable that criticism has not yet attempted to analyze the power of this book, or even to pluck out the heart of Miriam’s mystery, — the key to which, as we apprehend, is to be found in the conversation over the copy of Beatrice Cenci’s portrait in Hilda’s studio.
It is entirely characteristic of Hawthorne’s genius to take up such a subject as the history of Beatrice Cenci, and to inquire what was her internal experience ; how a temperament so delicate and a spirit so innocent as Guido’s portrait shows Beatrice’s to have been stood before herself, whether as a victim or as a participator in the bloody deed for which she suffered death. Still more would he be apt to inquire what would be the spiritual result of the same outrage upon quite another temperament and cast of mind, — Miriam’s, for instance. And again it was inevitable, as we have already intimated, that Rome should have suggested to his mind questions upon the efficacy or inefficacy of ritualistic confession and penance on the various degrees of criminal consciousness. Hilda says of Beatrice Cenci, that “ sorrow so black as hers oppresses very nearly as sin would,” for she was innocent in her own eyes until her misfortune had driven her into parricide ; which, trusting to the fidelity of Guido’s portrait of her remembered face, and comparing that with the portrait of the stepmother, may be believed to have been not the suggestion of her own mind, though “ that spotless flower of Paradise trailed over by a serpent,’’ as Beatrice has been well described, was too much bewildered by the incomprehensible woe in which she found herself involved, and her will was too much paralyzed to do other than obey the impulse given by the only less outraged wife. The same calamity met by the clearer reason and stronger character of Miriam would not only suggest means of escape, especially if she had, as is intimated, wealth, and other easily imagined favoring circumstances, but would give energy to accomplish a certain moral independence of her most unnatural enemy, and would excite her intellect and creative imagination, rather than “oppress her whole being.” It would seem from the sketches which Donatello found in Miriam’s portfolio, that her hideous circumstances had not failed to arouse thoughts of murderous revenge which had governed her artistic creativeness in the selection and treatment of subjects, but that she had not thought of any more harmful realization of the dark dreams that haunted her than upon canvas. Until the fatal “look” passed from her eyes, which tempted Donatello to give free way to the impulse of hatred, with which his love for her had inspired him, towards one who was evidently her enemy, — and no common enemy,— the author plainly accounts her not only actually innocent, but a most humane person, and, like Beatrice, “ if a fallen angel, yet without sin.” Thus he speaks of her “natural language, her generosity, kindliness, and native truth of character,” as banishing all suspicions, and even questions, from the minds of Hilda and Kenyon, to both of whom he ascribes the fine poetic instincts that intimate more truths concerning character than we can account for by phenomena.
These traits insured to her their warm friendship and confidence, though her history was no less unknown and mysterious to them than to the public, who had speculated on it so wildly. They therefore acquiesced in the generally received opinion, that “ the spectre of the catacomb ” was her model; nor ever asked why it was that he followed her so pertinaciously. Any relation between Miriam and him other than the most superficial and accidental one was effectually forbidden by their sense of her character, which also annulled in the mind of Kenyon the strange significance of the “ Spectre’s ” own words : —
“ ‘Inquire not what I am, nor wherefore I abide in the darkness,’ said he, in a hoarse, harsh voice, as if a great deal of damp were clustering in his throat. 'Henceforth I am nothing but a shadow behind her footsteps. She came to me when I sought her not. Site has called me forth, and must abide the consequences of my reappearance in the world.’”
But the reflective reader, not being, like Kenyon, under the spell of Miriam’s individuality, will hardly fail of detecting the relations between her and the so-called model, if he will compare this not unmeaning speech with the conversation in Hilda’s study, to which we have already referred, when that inexperienced child pronounced the parricide an "inexpiable crime ” : —
“ 'O Hilda ! your innocence is like a sharp steel sword,’ exclaimed her friend. ‘ Your judgments are often terribly severe, though you seem all made up of gentleness and mercy. Beatrice’s sin may not have been so great; perhaps it was no sin at all, but the best virtue possible in the circumstances. If she viewed it as a sin, it may have been because her nature was too feeble for the fate imposed upon her. Ah,’ continued Miriam, passionately, 'if I could only get within her consciousness! — if I could only clasp Beatrice Cenci’s ghost, and draw it into myself! I would give up my life to know whether she thought herself innocent, or the one great criminal since time began.' As Miriam gave utterance to these words, Hilda looked from the picture into her face, and was startled to observe that her friend’s expression had become almost exactly that of the portrait, as if her passionate wish and struggle to penetrate poor Beatrice’s mystery had been successful. ‘ O, for Heaven’s sake, Miriam, do not look so ! ’ she cried. ' What an actress you are ! and I never guessed it before. Ah ! now you are yourself again,’ she added, kissing her. ‘ Leave Beatrice to me in future.’
“ ‘ Cover up your magical picture then,’ replied her friend, ‘ else I never can look away' from it.’ ”
And again, further on in the same chapter : —
“ Hilda read the direction; it was to Signor Luca Barboni, at the Cenci Palace, third piano.
“ 'I will deliver it with my own hand,’ said she, ‘ precisely four months from today, unless you bid me to the contrary. Perhaps I shall meet the ghost of Beatrice in that grim old palace of her forefathers.’
“ ‘ In that case,’ rejoined Miriam, ‘ do not fail to speak to her, and win her confidence. Poor thing ! she would be all the better for pouring her heart out freely, and would be glad to do it if she were sure of sympathy. It irks my brain and heart to think of her all shut up within herself. ’ She withdrew the cloth that Hilda had drawn over the picture, and took another long look at it ' Poor sister Beatrice ! for she was still a woman, Hilda, — still a sister, be her sins what they might.’ ”
And still further on in the same chapter she says : —
“ ‘ After all, if a woman had painted the original picture, there might have been something in it we miss now. I have a great mind to undertake a copy myself, and try to give it what it lacks.’ ”
And again, having in a touching manner alluded to Hilda’s devout habits of mind, she says : —
“ ' When you pray next, dear friend, remember me.’ ”
These significant sentences may be compared with others in Chapter XXIII. when Miriam, after the catastrophe of the Tarpeian rock, seeks Hilda ; who, with the unconscious pharisaism of a child’s innocence, repulses her because she knows her to have consented to a murder. Here the author makes Hilda appeal to Miriam for adviece in her own uncertainty as to what she should do with her distressing knowledge, and adds:—
“ This singular appeal bore striking testimony to the impression Miriam’s natural uprightness and impulsive generosity had made on the friend who knew her best.”
He also makes Miriam’s answer justify Hilda’s instinctive confidence : —
“ ‘If I deemed it for your peace of mind,’ she said, ' to bear testimony against me for this deed, in the face of all the world, no consideration of myself should weigh with me an instant. But I believe that you would find no relief in such a course. What men call justice lies chiefly in outward formalities, and has never the close application and fitness that would be satisfactory to a soid like yours. I cannot be fairly tried and judged before an earthly tribunal; and of this, Hilda, you would perhaps become fatally conscious when it was too late. Roman justice, above all things, is a byword.’ ”
It is certain that Hilda’s narration of the scene of the murder had “ settled a doubt ” in Miriam’s mind. She took it, gladly perhaps, as collateral evidence that Donatello had not been mistaken when he said she had commanded his action with her eyes ; for then she had all the responsibility of it. But how was it, then, that she was not crushed by remorse, seemed to feel no remorse ? Was it not that she felt herself “in the circumstances ” that made the crime “her best possible virtue ” ? The “ sorrow that was so black as to oppress (Beatrice) very much as sin would ” (which was the limit of Hilda’s view of her case) did actually, in Miriam’s case, not only excite to artistic expression, but drove her further; and she was not “ too feeble for her fate,” as site proved in the Chapel of the Cappucini, when —
“ She went back, and gazed once more at the corpse. Yes, these were the features that Miriam had known so well; this was the visage that she remembered from a far longer date than the most intimate of her friends suspected; this form of clay had held the evil spirit which blasted her sweet youth, and compelled her, as it were, to stain her womanhood with crime. .... There had been nothing in his lifetime viler than this man; there was no other fact within herconsciousness that she felt to be so certain ; and yet, because her persecutor found himself safe and irrefutable in death, he frowned upon his victim, and threw back the blame on her. ' Is it thou indeed ? ’ she murmured, under her breath. ‘ Then thou hast no right to scowl upon me so ! But art thou real or a vision ? ’
“She bent down over the dead monk till one of her rich curls brushed against his forehead. She touched one of his folded hands with her finger. ' It is he,’said Miriam, ‘ there is the scar which I know so well on his brow. And it is no vision, he is palpable to my touch. I will question the fact no longer, but deal with it as I best can. It was wonderful to see how the crisis developed in Miriam its own proper strength and the faculty of sustaining the demand which it made on her fortitude. She ceased to tremble; the beautiful woman gazed sternly at her dead enemy, endeavoring to meet and quell the look of accusation that he threw from between his half-closed eyelids. ‘No, thou shalt not scowl me down,’ said she, ‘neither now, nor when we stand together at the judgment-seat. I fear not to meet thee there ! Farewell till that next encounter.’ ”
Surely there is but one interpretation that can be put upon the power this vile wretch had over the noble Miriam, more than once bringing her to her knees:—
“ She must have had cause to dread some unspeakable evil from this strange persecutor, and to know that this was the very crisis of her calamity ; for, as he drew near, such a cold, sick despair crept over her, that it impeded her natural promptitude of thought. Miriam seemed dreamily to remember falling on her knees ; but in her whole recollection of that wild moment, she beheld herself in a dim show, and could not well distinguish what was done and suffered ; no, not even whether she were really an actor and sufferer in the scene.”
But Hilda had settled all doubts by her narration : —
“‘He approached you, Miriam; you knelt to him,’ ”
The hardly bestead, noble Miriam ! Was there ever pictured a more tragic moment of human life than that brief one in which she knelt on the verge of the Tarpeian rock in spiritless deprecation ? Only in Rome does natural innocence and virtue kneel in helplessness before personified vice, clad in the sacramental garments, and armed with the name and prestige of a Father !
And did not the genius of humanity hover over its priest when he gave that master-stroke to his picture, — making Miriam a symbol of Italy, beautiful in form, with the natural language of all nobleness; true to herself with all the unspent energies of her youth ; and, in spite of outrage ineffable, reduced by the stress of her natural relationship to beg as a mercy, not the protection she has a right to demand, but mere immunity from its extreme opposite ? Italy! outraged so beyond credibility that no one dares to tell the tale, lest humanity should be too much discouraged by the knowledge of the hideous moral disabilities her misfortunes involve ; leaving her no path to purity and peace but through violence and civil war, which are apparently her “best possible virtue in the circumstances,” or certainly not to be accounted as sin.
An æsthetic critic must needs shrink from the work of elucidating the dark shadow which seems to be Miriam’s evil fate; for the author himself seems to endeavor to hide its secret, as Hilda says Beatrice seemed to try “to escape from (her) gaze.” There is a delicate moral sentiment in the author, which shrinks from giving definite outlines and name to a crime that is an unnatural horror. He says in Chapter XI.: —
“ Of so much we are sure, that there seemed to be a sadly mysterious fascination in the influence of this ill-omened person over Miriam ; it was such as beasts and reptiles of subtle and evil nature sometimes exercise upon their victims. Marvellous p was to see the hopelessness with which, being naturally of so courageous a spirit, she resigned herself to the thraldom in which he held her. That iron chain, of which some of the massive links were round her feminine waist and the others in his ruthless hand, or which perhaps bound the pair together by a bond equally torturing to each, must have been forged in some such unhallowed furnace as is only kindled by evil passions and fed by evil deeds.
“ Yet let us trust there may have been no crime in Miriam, but only one of those fatalities which are among the most insoluble riddles propounded to mortal comprehension; the fatal decree by which every crime is made to be the agony of many innocent persons, as well as of the single guilty one.”
Again, when in pity for her tormentor, she suggests prayer and penance: —
“ In this man’s memory there was something that made it awful for him to think of prayer, nor would any torture be more intolerable than to be reminded of such divine comfort and success as await pious souls merely for the asking. This torment was perhaps the token of a native temperament deeply susceptible of religious impressions, but which he had wronged, violated, and debased, until at length it was capable only of terror from the sources that were intended for our purest and loftiest consolation. He looked so fearfully at her, and with such intense pain struggling in his eyes, that Miriam felt pity. And now all at once it struck her that he might be mad. It was an idea that had never before seriously occurred to her mind, although, as soon as suggested, it fitted marvellously into many circumstances that lay within her knowledge. But alas ! such was her evil fortune, that, whether mad or no, his power over her remained the same, and was likely to be used only the more tyrannously if exercised by a lunatic.”
This chapter of "fragmentary sentences ” has suggested to some readers the idea that a mutual, or at least a, shared crime, was “ the iron link that bound ” these two persons together. But a careful reading will find no proof of this in any word of the author or of Miriam ; and the “ unmitigable will” which she tells him he mistook for an “iron necessity” is quite sufficient to explain the identification which the possible madman insists on at that time, and intimates afterwards, by beckoning her to wash her hands in the Fountain of Trevi when he did so himself.
To all those who ask if the author meant to represent Miriam, previous to the fatal night on the Tarpeian rock, as guilty of any crime, we commend a consideration of her words in her last conversation with Kenyon, when she tells him her history and name.
“‘You shudder at me, I perceive,’ said Miriam, suddenly interrupting her narrative.
“‘No, you were innocent,’ replied the sculptor. ‘ I shudder at the fatality that seems to haunt your footsteps, and throws a shadow of crime about your path, you being guiltless.'
“‘There was such a fatality,’ said Miriam ; ‘ yes, the shadow fell upon me innocent, but I went astray in it,—as Hilda could tell you, — into crime.’ ”
What crime it was that first threw the shadow the author does not tell. It was unspeakable; and yet it is “an open secret” to his readers, after all the indications that he has given. It took place “some time after” she had repudiated the proposed marriage with a man
“So evil, so treacherous, so wild, and yet so strangely subtle, as could only be accounted for by the insanity which often develops itself in old close-kept races of men.”
Yet it is plain that this intended husband was not “ the spectre of the catacomb,” any more than that Miriam was an accomplice in the crime of which she was suspected. When she refers to this suspicion in her narrative : —
“ ‘ But you know that I am innocent,’ she cried, interrupting herself again, and looking Kenyon in the face.
“ ‘ I know it by my deepest consciousness,’ he answered, ‘and I know it by Hilda’s trust and entire affection, which you never could have won had you been capable of guilt.’
“‘That is sure ground, indeed, for pronouncing me innocent,’ said Miriam, with the tears gushing into her eyes. ‘ Yet I have since become a horror to your saintlike Hilda by a crime which she herself saw me help to perpetrate.’
The fatal word which Miriam so dreaded was unquestionably that which would prove that she had not “committed suicide,” and so expose her, like Beatrice Cenci, to an ignominious death, notwithstanding her innocence.
“ 'Looking back upon what had happened,’ Miriam observed, she now considered him ‘ a madman. Insanity must have been mixed up with his original composition, and developed by those very acts of depravity which it suggested, and still more intensified, by the remorse that ultimately followed them. Nothing was stranger in his dark career than the penitence which often seemed to go hand in hand with crime. Since his death she had ascertained that it finally led him to a convent, where his severe and self-inflicted penance had even acquired him the reputation of unusual sanctity, and had been the cause of his enjoying greater freedom than is commonly allowed to monks.
“ ' Need I tell you more ? ’ asked Miriam, after proceeding thus far. ‘ It is still a dim and dreary mystery, a gloomy twilight into which I guide you; but possibly you may catch a glimpse of much that I myself can explain only by conjecture. At all events, you can comprehend what my situation must have been after that fatal interview in the catacomb. My persecutor had gone thither for penance, but followed me forth with fresh impulses to crime.' ”
What a fine sarcasm it is to put this man, than whom, whether mad or not, " nothing was viler,” into the brown frock and cowl of a Capuchin, and bury him in earth of the Holy Land in all the odor, such as it is, of Capuchin sanctity ! Why not ? He had said prayers at all the shrines of the Coliseum, going on his knees from one to another, until his devotions (?) were interrupted by Miriam’s unexpected and unintentional appearance before his eyes, awakening in him “fresh impulses” of the passion in which he was lost.
It is not unlikely, however, that Hawthorne, who, like Kenyon, “ was a devout man in his way,” was half unconscious of the sarcasm, in the deep religious earnestness with which he was treating those problems, inevitably presented to his mind in the place where he certainly first conceived the idea of this romance. As we have already intimated, how could such a man be in Rome, which pretends to be the centre of the spiritual universe, without having perpetually presented to his mind spiritual and moral problems deeper than all questions of ritualism without asking what is the nature of sin ? what is its relation to crime ? and for what were men put on the earth by God ? Was it to outrage and lead each other astray; to dominate, and punish, and make each other suffer? or was it to “honor all men,” to “further one another” in worthy action, “ preferring one another in love ” ?
Or was it the Divine idea, that men Should get into relation with God by becoming isolated from each other; denying the nearest relations in which they find themselves with each other as well as with outward nature? Is human existence a curse or a blessing ? Is dying the business that God has given men to do ? Is self-denial the substantial essence of human life, instead of the pruning of an exuberant tree, in order to its more beautiful growth ? Where is the life of God to be seen?—in the exuberant sport of happy childhood; in the rush together of young hearts in love ; in the subjection of stone and marble to beautiful forms that flow from the thinking mind; in the transfiguration of earths and minerals into the seven colors of light, to symbolize the glowing affections of the heart; in the heroic virtue, that, conscious of its own immortality and divinity, imperially gives away the lesser life of the senses, whenever it interferes with the larger life of the spirit ? Is it, in short, in all manner of manifestation of the inner man to kindred men, in humble imitation, as it were, of God creating the outward universe to manifest himself to his rational and sensible creatures ? Or is it in the asceticism of all these religious orders ; in some of which the members make it their specialty never to speak to each, other, much less do each other any service ; who indulge in no natural sympathies ; who, even when they actually do serve each other, eliminate all the spontaneity of love from the service, superseding it with a ritual by which they are earning a curtailment of the pangs of purgatory, or an immunity from everlasting suffering? This is not declamation. Vincent de St. Paul, in his manual for the Sisters of Charity, tells them that if they do the deed of the good Samaritan from compassion for the poor man mho has fallen among thieves, and bind up his wounds with an absorption of heart and mind in the relief of his suffering which shall make them forget themselves ; if their outgushing sympathies for him cause a momentary oblivion of those church formulas to which are attached indulgences, and the pater-nosters and ave Marias are not consciously repeated as they do their charitable work, — their deed gains no indulgences, nor forms any part of their own divine life (which is the only meaning of being accepted of God).
The highest human activity, that which has a more spiritual quarry than marble, color, or whatever is the material of the so-called fine arts, is entirely unknown in Rome. Instead of a state which receives the coming generation as the father of a future age, leaving it free as a son to find “ the business which God has given it to do,”pondering all its expressed intuitions, and nurturing it with all means of development ; giving it to eat of the fruit of all the trees of the Garden of Life, and only restraining it by the warning of love from the poisonous influence which will lead it into a lower plane of existence, — in short, instead of a state such as might be composed of men with the freedom to will, tender to nature, encouraging to spirit, cherishing infinite varieties of harmonizing and harmonized power, the Church gives this whited sepulchre of the Papacy, in winch ghastly skeletons of humanity, or, what is worse, half-corrupted bodies, like those filthy Capuchins, — in their loathsome dresses (which they are compelled to wear three or four years without laying them off for the purposes of cleanliness), and hardly less disgusting Franciscans, doing nothing for the welfare of themselves and other men, but walking about idly, and begging, — alternate with magnificently arrayed ecclesiastical princes, expending upon their own pleasures and pompous environment whatever of wealth flows to this centre of Christendom from all parts of the world, over which it preposterously claims a dominion in the name of God, exacting taxes wrung from the fear of everlasting punishment, which it has made it its great business of fifteen centuries to exasperate to madness, until that base and selfish passion has wellnigh swallowed up all the nobleness, as well as beauty, of human nature.
It was in this mockery of a Church and State that Hawthorne seized the idea of his chef d'æuvre ; and the more we shall see into his multifarious meanings, the more we shall acknowledge that he has uttered no idle word from the beginning to the end. In the whole sweep, from the nameless miscreant whose blackness makes the shadow of the picture, up through Miriam, Kenyon, Hilda, to Donatello, his imagination does not fail him in the effort to grasp and represent the common life, whose actions and reactions within itself kindle the fire that purifies, till, as the prophet says, the Refiner may see his own image in the furnace. Deeply as Hawthorne was impressed with “what man has made of man ” in Rome, his own exquisitely endowed organization opened every pore to the revelations of the nature in the midst of which Rome had grown up. Nothing is more wonderful than the power with which, in the whole delineation of Donatello, he withdraws himself from the present of Rome, heavy as it is with the ponderous ruins of time, and looks back to the original Italy, and even still further to the age of the world before this sinshadowed human experience began. The innocence of Donatello is as far above the ordinary human experience as the evil of the so-called model is below it. If the latter is the nadir, the former is the zenith, of the natural universe ; and yet we observe that the model is not treated as out of the pale of human sympathy, much as his own unnatural depravity has done to put him out. By a single stroke of genius, he is associated with “ the lost wretch ” who betrayed the early Christians, but “ pined for the blessed sunshine and a companion to be miserable with him,” which, as Kenyon is made to playfully suggest, “ indicates something amiable in the poor fellow.” And when he is dead, the author says that
“A singular sense of duty .... impelled (Miriam) to look at the final resting-place of the being whose fate had been so disastrously involved with her own,.... and to put money into the sacristan’s hand to an amount that made his eyes open wide and glisten, requesting that it might be expended in masses for the repose of Father Antonio’s soul.”
Besides the artistic balance of Donatello’s innocence and joyousness with this monster’s guilt and wretchedness, there is another fine contrast of his indescribable gayety with Miriam’s unutterable sorrow, all the more touching because we see that in her proper nature she has an equal gayety. Her occasional self-abandonment to the pure elixir of mere existence, — witness the wild dance in the Borghese villa ; the intellectual freedom that lifts her above her fate into creative genius,—witness her sporting with it in her pictures, her petulant criticisms on Guido’s archangel, and the stories she invents to connect herself with the spectre of the catacomb; above all, the balm she finds for her wounded soul in Donatello’s unqualified devotion to her, although for his sake she will not encourage, but even deprecates it,—all go to prove that her suffering has a source essentially out of herself, but yet so intimately connected with herself, that, as Hilda had said of Beatrice Cenci,
“ ‘ She knows that she ought to be solitary forever, both for the world’s sake and her own.’ ”
In Chapter XXIII. the author has said of the portrait: —
“Who can look at that mouth, with its lips half apart as innocent as a baby’s that has been crying, and not pronounce Beatrice sinless ? It was the intimate consciousness of her father’s sin that threw its shadow over her, and frightened her into a remote and inaccessible region, where no sympathy could come.”
Miriam had at one moment looked so like that picture “of unutterable grief and mysterious shadow of guilt” that Hilda had exclaimed, “What an actress you are ! ” (Chap. VIII.) But, for all the difference between Miriam’s powerful and Beatrice’s feebler temperament, she could only momentarily dwell in the mood of mind that would give that expression of face, and immediately afterwards feel that there was something missed in Guido’s portrait which she could have given to it.
No one can say that Hawthorne does not appreciate “the night side” of human nature. Many have maintained that he is morbid in the intensity of the shadows thrown over his delineations of character. So much the more, then, do we see and feel the inspiration of an insight which goes back beyond all historic memory, and sees men as they came forth from the creating breath, bound to one another by flesh and blood, instinct with kindly affections, and commanding all animated nature below him with a voice “soft, attractive, persuasive, friendly”; and lying upon the universe like the smile of God which created it.
Donatello, like Undine, like Ariel, is a new creation of genius. As Hawthorne himself says, in the Postscript that his philistine English publishers compelled him to append to their second edition : —
“The idea of the modern Faun loses all the poetry and beauty which the author fancied in it, and becomes nothing better than a grotesque absurdity, if we bring it into the actual light of day. He had hoped to mystify this anomalous creature between the real and fantastic in such a manner that the reader’s sympathies might be excited to a certain pleasurable degree, without impelling him to ask how Cuvier would have classified poor Donatello, or to insist upon being told, in so many words, whether he had furry ears or no. As respects all who ask such questions, the book is to that extent a failure.”
But there are other questions which he intended his readers should ask, of a different nature, and whose answers are suggested in the representation of Donatello: What is or was man before he was acted upon from without by any moral circumstances, — a blank paper, an evil propensity, or the perfection of passive nature, every one of whose parts,including the phenomenon man, are so many words of God’s conversation with all men ? Donatello first comes upon us in the passive form of his existence, — a healthy sensibility, — when, as Madame de Staëd has said of the child, “The Deity takes him by the hand, and lifts him lightly over the clouds of life.” His soul lives in the vision of natural beauty, and his whole expression is joy. He sympathizes with all harmless forms of animal life, and the innocent animal life, in its turn, recognizes his voice. Woman, the citadel and metropolis of beauty, so completely fulfils his conscious identity, that he seems to himself only to have lived since he knew Miriam, in whose “bright natural smile” he was blest; But whose sadder moods disturbed him with a presentiment of pain he did not understand; and whose extremity of suffering inspired him with a “fierce energy” to annihilate its manifest cause, that “kindled him into a man.” For it is certafn that his spiritual life began in the deed revealing to him that the law it broke came from a profounder and wider love than that which impelled him to its commission. If the reader asks then, with Hilda, “Was Donatello really a faun ? ” he is referred for an answer to the words of Kenyon, in the original conversation in the Capitol, on the immortal marble of Praxiteles, where he says of
“ That frisky thing .... neither man nor animal, and yet no monster, hut a being in whom both races meet on friendly ground. (Chap. II.) In some long past age he really must have existed. Nature needed, and still needs, this beautiful creature; standing betwixt man and animal, sympathizing with each, comprehending the speech of either race, and interpreting the whole existence of one to the other.”
It was nothing less unsophisticated that could have served the author’s purpose of simplifying the question of the origin of sin, which both etymologically and metaphysically means separation,— conscious separation from the principle of life. It was the perfected animal nature that revealed to his hitherto unreflecting mind, that an action which certainly originated in his “loving much ” was a crime. In one of his conversations with Kenyon he reveals this unawares. That “ long shriek wavering all the way down,” that “thump against the stones,” that “ quiver through the crushed mass, and no more movement after that,” of a “ fellowcreature (but just before) living and breathing into (his) face,” awakened the idea in poor Donatello, — who himself clung to the life which he had felt to be “so warm, ’so rich, so sunny,” — that there is a bond which antedates all the attractions of personal affinity, and whose violation takes the joy out of all narrower relations, however close they may be, startling the spirit into moral consciousness with the question de profundis, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
It is true that for a moment the excitement of the action which took him so completely out of himself was felt both by him and Miriam to have “cemented” their union “with the blood of one worthless and wretched life,” — for that moment when they felt that neither of them could know any more loneliness ; that they “drew one breath ” and “lived one life.” But immediately afterwards they began to see that they had joined another mighty company, and “melted into a vast mass of human crime” with a sense of being “guilty of the whole ” ; and the next day, the sight of the corpse in the Chapel of the Capuchins, and the sound of the chant for the dead, made Donatello’s “heart shiver,” and put “a great weight” in his breast; and the love which he had felt to be his life was disenchanted ! When Miriam saw that this was so, and, in spite of her warmly declared affection, which he had hitherto so passionately craved, that he “shuddered ” at her touch, and confessed that “nothing could ever comfort” him, “with a generosity characteristic alike of herself and true love ” she bade him leave and forget her: —
“‘Forget you, Miriam,’said Donatello, roused somewhat from his apathy of despair. 'If I could remember you and behold you apart from that frightful visage which stares at me over your shoulder, that were a consolation and a joy.’ ”
But, as he could not do this, he reciprocated her farewell with apparent insensibility: —
“ So soon after the semblance of such mighty love, and after it had been the impulse to so terrible a deed, they parted in all outward show as coldly as people part whose mutual intercourse has been encircled within an hour.”
This parting, with all the reaction upon Donatello of what he had impulsively done, whether in the “fiery intoxication which sufficed to carry them triumphantly through the first moments of their doom,” or in the blind gropings of his remorse, when he had returned to the old castle of Monte Beni, Hawthorne would evidently have us see, as in a pure mirror, that the fundamental principle of humanity, the brotherhood in which God created all souls, is affirmed in the law inscribed in our hearts, and handed down in all civilized tradition, which forbids an individual to assume over his fellows the office of judge and executioner; for that is the inherent prerogative of the social whole, which, and nothing less, is the image of God created to sit at his own right hand.
As long as Donatello fulfilled the law of impartial humanity by his geniality, easy persuadability, and glad abandonment of himself to friendship and love, though there might be “ no atom of martyr’s stuff in him " considered as “ the power to sacrifice himself to an abstract idea,” yet there was no discord in all the echoes of his soul. As soon as he had made an exception to the universality of his good-will by executing on his sole responsibility a capital judgment on a fellow-pensioner of the Heavenly Father, he felt himself to be mysteriously and powerlessly drifting towards perdition, and his voice was no longer sterling in nature. Hawthorne is perhaps the only moral teacher of the modern time who has affirmed with power, that the origin of sin is in crime, and not vice versa. But it was affirmed of old by the most venerable scripture of the Hebrew Bible, in the statement that the first murderer was also the first who “went out from the presence of the Lord,” and began the dark record of fallen humanity.
It was, therefore, an inconsiderate reader of the romance of Monte Beni, who said: “ But Donatello, with his unappeasable remorse, was no Italian; for, had he been one, he would at once have gone and confessed, received absolution, and thought never again of ‘ the traitor who had met his just doom. ' " Hawthorne was not painting in Donatello an Italian such as the Church has made by centuries of a discipline so bewildering to the mind as to crush the natural conscience bysubstituting artificial for real duties, yet not restraining men, or itself refraining, from bursting into God’s holy of holies, the destined temple of the Holy Spirit, — an Italian incapable of dreaming of anything holier than a passionate deprecation of that punishment for his crimes which he should crave as their expiation,— life for life. Donatello is an original inhabitant of Italy, as yet “guiltless of Rome.”
In the genealogy of the Counts of Monte Beni, historic vistas open up beyond recorded memory to
“A period when man’s affinity with nature was more strict, and his fellowship with every living thing more intimate and dear.”
But of this the author himself may have been unconscious ; for it was not historic facts, but the eternal truths they embody, on which his eye was fixed ; and in the intimation that the Church ritual to which Donatello resorted to heal the wound of his soul, and which all his earnest sincerity of purpose found as ineffectual for that end as it had proved to the lost sinner whom the sight of the object of his vile passion had driven forth alike from the Catacombs he had sought as a penance and the shrines of the Coliseum which he was visiting on his knees, we have hints of an interpretation of Christianity more vital than has yet been symbolized by any ritual, or systematized by any ecclesiasticism. This is generally put into the mouth of Kenyon, who seems to be the keystone of the arch of characters in this story, combining in his own healthy affections and clear reason, and comprehending in his intelligent and discriminating sympathy all the others.
It is almost impossible to make extracts from the chapters describing the summer in the Apennines with his saddened friend, to whom he ministers with such unpretending wisdom and delicate tenderness. Quoting almost at random, his words seem to be oracles. For instance, in Chapter II. of the second volume : —
“ ‘ What I am most inclined to murmur at is this death’s heack It is absurdly monstrous, my dear friend, thus to fling the dead weight of our mortality upon our immortal hopes. While we live on earth, ’t is true we must needs carry our skeletons about with us; but, for Heaven’s sake, do not let us burden our spirits with them in our feeble efforts to soar upwards ! Believe me, it will change the whole aspect of death, if you can once disconnect it in your idea with that corruption from which it disengages our higher part.’ ”
And when Donatello subsequently says: —
“ ' My forefathers being a cheerful race of men in their natural disposition found it needful to have the skull often before their eyes, because they dearly loved life and its enjoyments, and hated the very thought of death.’ ‘ I am afraid,’ said Kenyon, ‘ they liked it none the better for seeing its face under this abominable mask.’ ”
Again, in Chapter III. of the same volume, Kenyon says:—
“‘Avoid the convent, my dear friend, as you would shun the death of the soul. But for my own part, if I had an insupportable burden, if for any cause I were bent on sacrificing every earthly hope as a peaceoffering towards heaven, I would make the wide earth my cell, and good deeds to mankind my prayer. Many penitent men have done this, and found peace in it.’
“‘Ah! but you are a heretic,’said the Count Yet his face brightened beneath the stars, and, looking at it through the twilight, the sculptor’s remembrance went back to that scene in the Capitol where both in features and expression Donatello had seemed identical with the Faun, and still there was a resemblance; for now, when first the idea was suggested of living for his fellow-creatures, the original beauty, which sorrow had partly effaced, came back, elevated and spiritualized. In the black depths the Faun had found a soul, and was struggling with it towards the light of heaven.”
Afterwards, in Chapter IV. of the second volume, we find this wise advice : —
“ ‘Believe me,’said he, turning his eves towards his friend, full of grave and tender sympathy, ‘you know net what is requisite for your spiritual growth, seeking, as you do, to keep your soul perpetually in the unwholesome region of remorse. It was needful for you to pass through that dark valley, but it is infinitely dangerous to linger there too long ; there is poison in the atmosphere when we sit down and brood in it, instead of girding up our loins to press onward. Not despondency, not slothful anguish, is what you require, but effort! Has there been an unutterable evil in your young life ? Then crowd it out with good, or it will lie corrupting there forever, and cause your capacity for better things to partake its noisome corruption.’ ”
It is an originality of the religious teaching of Hawthorne, that he really recognizes the inherent freedom of man, that is, his freedom to good as well as to evil. While he shows forth so powerfully that “grief and pain” have developed in Donatello “a more definite and nobler individuality,” he does not generalize the fact, as is so common, but recognizes that “ sometimes the instruction comes without the sorrow, and oftener the sorrow teaches no lesson that abides with us ” ; in fine, that love like Kenyon’s and Hilda’s reveals the same truth much more fully and certainly than did the crime which is made so cunningly to lie between Miriam and Donatello, that they become one by it in sorrow, as Hilda and Kenyon become one in joy ineffable, by their mutual recognition of each other’s humility and purity.
Yet Hilda is not put above that " common life” which is never to be lost sight of, being God’s special dwelling-place, into any superhuman immunity from the “ ills that flesh is heir to.” She suffers, as well as Miriam, from “ the fatal decree by which every crime is made to be the agony of many innocent persons.” Hence we are told of
“ That peculiar despair, that chill and heavy misery, which only the innocent can experience, although it possesses many of the gloomy characteristics of guilt. It was that heartsickness which, it is to be hoped, we may all of us have been pure enough to feel once in our lives, hut the capacity for which is usually exhausted early, and perhaps with a single agony. It was that dismal certainty of the existence of evil in the world which, though we may fancy ourselves fully assured of the sad mystery long before, never becomes a portion of our practical belief until it takes substance and reality from the sin of some guide whom we have deeply trusted and revered, or some friend whom we have dearly loved.”
And, besides, Hilda is indirectly developed into a larger sphere of duty and more comprehensive practical humanity, by the share she necessarily has in the misfortunes and sorrows of Miriam and Donatello.
Her conversation with Kenyon, after the relief experienced by her communication of the cause of her long-pent sorrow, leaves on her mind the painful doubt, whether in her struggle to keep “the white robe” God had given her, “ and bade her wear it back to him as white as when she put it on,” “ a wrong had not been committed towards the friend so beloved ” ;
“ Whether a close bond of friendship, in which we once voluntarily engage, ought to be severed on account of any unworthiness which we subsequently detect in our friend.”
Here we have Hawthorne’s judgment upon a subject which is often an importunate practical problem in our daily conversation : —
“ In these unions of hearts — call them marriage or whatever else — we take each other for better, for worse. Availing ourselves of our friend’s intimate affection, we pledge our own as to be relied on in every emergency..... Who need the tender succor of the innocent more than wretches stained with guilt? And must a selfish care for the spotlessness of our own garments keep us from pressing the guilty ones close to our hearts, wherein, for the very reason that we are innocent, lies their securest refuge from further ill.... ‘Miriam loved me well,’ thought Hilda, remorsefully, ' and I failed her in her utmost need.’ ”
This adjustment of the contending claims of the law of individuality and the law of our common nature frequently solicited Hawthorne’s attention ; and in The Blithedale Romance he has discussed it with earnestness. That Romance was intended to meet a peculiar and transient mood of mind in a special locality when there seemed to spread abroad a sudden doubt of those natural social unions growing out of the inevitable instincts and wants of human beings, which insure the organization of families. In The House of the Seven Gables he had shown how the tendency of families to isolation results, when unchecked by a liberal humanity, in physical deterioration, morbid affections, and malignant selfishness. In The Blithedale Romance, on the other hand, he teaches that by wilfully adopting schemes of social organization, based on abstractions of individual intellects, — however great and with whatever good motives,— we are liable ruthlessly, even if unconsciously, to immolate thereto living hearts that are attracted to us by profound affinities and generous imaginations. Zenobia, — was she not murdered by Hollingsworth as certainly, though not as obviously, as was Father Antonio by Donatello ? No real philanthropy can grow out of social action that ignores the personal duties of parents, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, friends, and lovers.
The last conversation between Hilda and Kenyon upon Donatello is one of those great touches of art by which Hawthorne is accustomed to lead his readers to a point of view from which they can see what the personages of his story, who seem to see and say all, certainly do not say, if they see: —
“ ‘ Here comes my perplexity,’ continued Kenyon. ' Sin has educated Donatello, and elevated him. Is sin, then, which we deem such a dreadful blackness in the universe, — is it like sorrow, merely an element of human education through which we struggle to a higher and purer state than we could otherwise have attained ? Did Adam fall that we might ultimately rise to a far loftier paradise than his ? ’
“'O, hush!’ cried Hilda, shrinking from him with an expression of horror which wounded the poor speculative sculptor to the soul. ' This is terrible, and I could weep for you if you indeed believe it. Do not you perceive what a mockery your creed makes, not only of all religious sentiment, but of moral law, and how it annuls and obliterates whatever precepts of Heaven are written deepest within us ? You have shocked me beyond words.’
“‘Forgive me, Hilda!’ exclaimed the sculptor, startled by her agitation ; ‘ I never did believe it! But the mind wanders wild and wide ; and, so lonely as I live and work, I have neither polestar above, nor light of cottage window here below, to bring me home. Were you my guide, my counsellor, my inmost friend, with that white wisdom which clothes you as a celestial garment, all would go well. O Hilda, guide me home.' ”
We must bring this protracted article to a close, though we have by no means made an exhaustive analysis of the Romance of Monte Beni. The mere drama of it is wonderfully knit together, all its incidents growing directly out of the characters, and their interaction with universal laws. As Hilda’s imprisonment is the direct consequence of her faithful execution of Miriam’s commission, and complicated with her involuntary knowledge of Donatello’s crime, so her deliverance is the immediate motive of the self-surrender of Donatello, which Miriam makes to bear this fruit of practical justice. He is no martyr, therefore, even at last, “ to an abstract idea,” but sacrifices himself for a substantially beneficent end. And it is left probable that the sacrifice proved by Divine Providence no immolation ; for the last words of the original romance are, after asking, “ What was Miriam’s life to be ? and Where was Donatello? .... Hilda had a hopeful soul, and saw sunlight on the mountain-tops.” Thus we are led to hope that “ the bond between them,” which Kenyon had pronounced to be “for mutual support, .... for one another’s final good, .... for effort, for sacrifice,” and which they had accepted “ for mutual elevation and encouragement towards a severe and painful life,” “but not for earthly happiness,” did at last conciliate “ that shy, subtle thing” as “a wayside flower springing along a path leading to higher ends.”
We shall have done quite as much as we had proposed to ourselves in this review, if we shall induce any of our readers to recur to the book and study it; for in it they will find earnestly treated the highest offices and aims, as well as the temptations and limitations, of art, in its well-discriminated and fairly appreciated varieties of mode; they will find there delicate criticisms on pictures and statues, ancient and modern, with original thoughts on nearly every subject of moral, intellectual, and æsthetic interest presenting itself to a sojourner in Italy, to whose richest meanings, whether sad or glad, the romance will prove the best of guidebooks. But we must not close without observing that whatever short comings in theory or iniquities in practice the author hints at or exposes in the Roman Catholic Church and state, he exhibits no narrow Protestantism. In many time-honored customs, in “ the shrines it has erected at the waysides, as reminders of the eternal future imbosomed in the present ” ; and especially in the description of the “world’s cathedral” where he makes the suffering Hilda find relief, he does not fail to recognize whatever Romanism has appropriated of the methods of universal love.
But he puts the infallible priesthood to school, as it were, to the pure soul which has preserved by humble religious thought “ the white robe ” of pristine innocence God had bid her “wear back to him unstained,” and has faithfully increased in the knowledge of God by the study and reproduction of beauty, without making into stumblingblocks, as the merely instinctive too generally do, the stepping-stones given for our advancement from the glory of the natural to the glory of the spiritual life.
Hilda’s rebuke to the priest, who would narrow the sacred confidences of his office to orthodox ritualism and her confession, which she tells Kenyon would have been made to him if he had been at hand, express the idea that in the loneliness created by sin, not only in the guilty, but in the guiltless soul, it is at once inevitable and legitimate to claim human sympathy; also that “ it is not good for man to be alone,” because God created us in countless relations, which it is our salvation to discover and fulfil, as is revealed by the very etymology of the word conscience. In fine, may we not say that The Marble Faun takes a high place in that library of sacred literature of the modern time which is the prophetic intimation of the Free Catholic Christian Church, “ whose 'far-offcoming’ shines,” — a Church whose credo is not abstract dogma, but the love of wisdom and the wisdom of love; whose cathedral is universal nature, and whose ritual is nothing short of virtue, truth, and charity, the organs of piety ?