Detmold: A Romance: Part Iv

THE

ATLANTIC MONTHLY:

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, SCIENCE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VIII.

SAN ZENO.

ART has its tiresome aspects. An original picture, much less a copy, is not the result of a single flash of inspiration. It goes forward touch by touch. There are oils that dry too slowly and varnishes that dry too quickly ; colors give out at the wrong moment, and are to be mixed and matched. The back is weary, the head aches from undue straining after elusive effects that escape behind a chevaux-de-frise of mechanical difficulties.

Alice arose, at times, from her task at the Mnseo Civieo and wended her way homeward, tired, heavy-eyed, her toilette a little flattened and the bloom of her brightness for the moment dimmed. Her solicitous mamma would declare that such application was unheard of, — that it was ruinous, — the study must be abandoned. Then there was usually a few days’ respite.

Detmold set forth persistently every morning to add still other pages to his voluminous sketch - books. They contained façades in full, and fragments more charming than the wholes. There were palaces and basilicas, the battlemented bridge of the Castel Vecchio, with its unequal, downhill arches, the curious staircase in the court-yard of the Municipio, and a corner of the Chamber of Commerce. There were door and window openings, with arched heads of party-colored stone, their tympanums filled with sculpture or mosaic; there were campaniles, turrets, chimney-pots of a hundred varieties, balconies, figures or single heads from bas-reliefs and frescoes ; but above all, a collection of the lovely porches which are the crowning glory of Verona. They are light and simple. Their arches are of contrasted stones; they are inlaid with sculpture ; their columns — sometimes single, sometimes clustered and superposed —are of red marble, and rest upon grotesque animals. The ruddy sunshine invades them and the warm air blows through them. They cast rich, strong shadows, in which there is not a suggestion of gloom.

One morning, in the tenth century basilica of San Zeno, Detmold looked up from his drawing and saw Alice, Miss Lonsdale, and Hyson beside him.

“ Pray, do not let us disturb you,” said Miss Lonsdale. “ We like to see you work. Perhaps we can steal your process.”

“How pretty your sketches are!” said Alice. “I wish I could do that.”

Copyright, 1878, by H. O. HOUGHTON & Co.

“ I am sure you could, if you would.

It is very easy.”

“ Of course it is, when one knows how; but I have tried. The perspective always bothers me. I am very stupid about perspective.”

“ But you have a correct eye, and this can be done even without perspective, Imagine the space you wish to include in your drawing to bo perfectly flat. Do not think of projection at all. Then try to see what angles and shapes the different objects in this flat space assume. Anybody who can draw a figure as correctly as you can do it. Of course, perspective is an assistance. I do not mean to make light of it.”

“That seems a good idea,” said Alice. “If I had some paper, I might make the experiment now.”

Detmold gave her the requisite materials. She seated herself upon the steps that lead down to the floor of the nave from the entrance, and began a view somewhat like Detmold’s. The singular wooden roof of the vast interior is supported upon alternate massive columns and piers. They have bizarre capitals of intertwisted foliage, serpents, and animals. A flight of broad stone steps rises to the chancel, and at its sides two other flights descend to the ancient crypt, plainly visible, where, behind a grille and under a canopy supported by forty marble shafts, the bones of the ancient patron of the basilica repose. Along the chancel railing, as at St. Mark’s, at Venice, pose themselves a row of life-size figures.

“ This is quite improving, of course,” said Hyson; “but, meanwhile, what is to become of us? ”

“ You can go and see the cloisters,” said Alice; “ they are very nice.”

“ Not at all,” replied Hyson; “ what Miss Lonsdale and I will do is to go and see the Castel Vecchio. Nobody has yet been inside of it, and we shall have the advantage of you all. Shall we call for you after that? ”

“If you will, please. I do not feel like climbing, to-day; and besides, this is really an important discovery I have made.”

Alice abandoned this sketch, presently, as too vexatious. She could not keep the idea out of her head that the lines came towards her. Things would not stay flat. She procured more paper, and wandered about with a deliberative air in search of another subject. She placed herself, at length, before the sitting statue of San Zeno. It is an archaic work, and of colored marble, in accordance with the tradition that the venerable patron was an African. The exaggeration of some intended expression of spiritual rapture gives the features a grotesque appearance of laughing.

“ Why do you choose such a sorry figure? ” asked Detmold. “ I shall have a less exalted idea of your taste,”

“ I like it because it is odd and comical,” she replied. “ Besides, I wish it to be understood that I make my sketches without regard to age, sex, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

She contemplated the figure with one eye shut and her pencil held up to make measurements. Detmold forsook his own subject, and furtively made a drawing of her, instead. They were not too far separated to converse. Alice had learned from him something of the characteristics of the style in the midst of which they were, and had even taken an interest in acquiring some of the architectural terms. Detmold affected to conduct a cross-examination, to see if she had forgotten anything; He asked her, What is an arcliivolt? what is an abacus? what is a chamfer?

She replied to a few of the queries with an imitation of school-girl readiness; then, with a pretense of supposing that he was really inquiring for his own information, said with an inflection conveying surprise and commiseration, “ Oh, don’t you know what a chamfer is? Almost anybody knows that.”

The best kind of love-making does not necessarily consist in excessive manifestations of affection or epithets of endearment. It is quite as often in the circumstances of routine conversation and intercourse, when tones, glances, gestures, the sentiment of pleasure in each other’s appearance and delight in each other’s company, play in and out among the ordinary words and illuminate them. There are charming conversations in which not a single striking idea is advanced.

What is a morning’s conversation between two such people? It is not a sustained argument nor alternate disquisitions. If taken down in short-hand it might fill a volume. It would be broken, illogical, trivial. One wonders as to the reason of some circumstance or phenomenon; explanations are suggested, or one who already knows informs the other. They call up reminiscences. They say how they enjoyed their ride or row at such a date, or the labyrinth figure in a certain german at the Jacksons’. Or they speak of people they have known, and analyze them and their careers, — the drowning of Smith, the curious marriage of Brown; or of persons they met in the diligence, crossing the mountains ; or the peculiarities of the landlord at Bellinzona. Or they go a little into their individual characteristics, if intimate enough. One confesses to a tendency to alternate moods of elation and sadness, without assignable cause; the other prescribes philosophic rules for the cultivation of an equable temper. Through the whole are scattered banter and slight coquetries.

The sound of Alice’s voice, the animation of her countenance, the grace of her attitudes, were wisdom enough for Detmold; it made very little difference what she said.

The morning was passing. The sun mounted to the zenith; the shadow of the basilica returned slowly from its march to the westward, and drew its strong line close to the sculptured porch. The young man and the pretty woman came out to see if their friends were not returning. At each side of the portal a great space is covered with ancient basreliefs in panels. There are Adam and Eve in Paradise, and all the scriptural personages; saints, knights in armor, and King Theodorie in full chase after a deer which his dogs have seized, while a sardonic demon lies in wait to seize the king himself. The doors are faced with bronze reliefs of the earliest mediæval make. The figures are as rude as the plastic achievements of children, but full of a biting energy, and disposed in accordance with an instinctive feeling for effect. The tall red columns of the porch rest upon the backs of red marble lions crouching upon the stone platform.

“ Is it not a barbarous taste to support such structures upon the backs of animals? ” said Alice. “ When caryatides came into use in the classic style, I believe we are to consider it a symptom of decadence, are we not ? ”

“ But not this. It is bold and picturesque. The figures do not represent actual animals, you see. If this were an imitation of a real lion,” said he, placing his hand upon the head of one of the monsters, “ that would be quite a different matter. They are conventionalized.”

Alice rested comfortably against the back of the other, like a modern Ariadne in a muslin robe.

“ But in society, yon know,” returned she, argumentatively, “we do not like conventionalism. We profess admiration for what is spontaneous and natural. If we do not like conventional people, why should we like conventional lions? ”

“ Conventionalism in common things,” said Detmold, “ is a species of toadyism; it is an imitation of models that are generally not worthy of imitation, and it prevails at the expense of originality and independence. Conventionalism in art is so different a thing that it ought to be distinguished by a different name. Of course there is good and bad conventionalism in art, too. But in its best sense it is a species of imagination. It is the ingenious fitting of something to circumstances by seizing its essential spirit and neglecting the rest. This so-called lion is not a lion at all, but only an abstraction of the sturdiness and bold outlines of one. The lion is merely the theme on which the composition is made. This is really an imaginary animal, expressly created for the work of holding up porches. That is why there is nothing disagreeable about it. If it were a good imitation, we should be involuntarily nervous lest he should move and bring the porch toppling down upon us.”

“ I am certain that this one is not in the least disposed to,” said Alice, tapping the grotesque head with her parasol.

“ I don’t know that I find that so surprising,” said he in something of an undertone. Then he went on without interruption : " The theory is that it is bad art to apply a perfect likeness of anything to a purpose to which the thing itself could not be adapted. An ideal race of creatures and flowers and foliage must be created for capitals, gargoyles, carpets, and wall-papers. They may be based upon familiar objects, but must not exactly imitate them.”

“But you see such imitations so often,” said Alice.

“ Of course you do, and you undoubtedly always will, simply because there is a hundred-fold more bad art in the world than good.”

“ Yon do not think that perhaps the Lombards made lions this way because it was the best they knew how, do you? ” asked Alice; “because they were ignorant, and it was the nearest resemblance they could get, you know? ”

“ They show too much skill in other respects,” said Detmold. “ They had a pretty intimate connection with the East, and knew what lions were as well as ourselves, if they had wished to copy them. ”

Hyson and Miss Lonsdale returned, and the little group rode away together. On the facade of the basilica is a great sculptured wheel of fortune, with a king at the top and a naked beggar beneath. Detmold translated the motto from the text in the guide-book: —

“ All mortal things I rule at will, Raise up, cast down, give good or ill.”

“It would not be so bad,” said he, “ if it went all the way round. It generally oscillates a little way up, then a large way back. If it were only established that everybody should make the complete circuit, — undergo in turn all the phases of existence, — that would be something like justice, and a cosmopolitan experience. As it is, it picks up a favored few and whirls them to the top, while the most it leaves at the bottom and crunches them like a cart wheel.”

“None of us here present seem to have any bones broken,” said Hyson.

“ Perhaps we have not yet felt its full weight,” said Detmold.

IX.

THE MUSEO ClVICO.

Detmold’s admiration knew no bounds. In every aspect and phase of character he found Alice unspeakably charming. Some accent of hers, some delicate pose of the head, some evanescent contraction of the brows, with an expression between smile and frown, came to him at moments in his work like an aroma. He could close his eyes and conjure up her face, blown round with its shining hair. All the details of her dress, each of the pretty, fashion-changing buttons, buckles, clasps upon it, seemed as precious as jewelry, and the material of which it was made as valuable as the rarest Oriental fabrics. Her person connected itself with ideas of all fragrant spices.

His wandering in the great galleries since be first set foot upon European soil was simply a long series of comparisons. He found no stateliness of Leonardo, no pensive grace of Raphael, no golden hair of Titian, so perfect as hers. He would admit in her no possible imperfection. If her figure was slightly flat, it was a suggestion of the sweet austerity of Gothic sculpture, which shows no swelling contours, but only straightfalling draperies and serene and noble faces. If at twenty-seven many less favored women have passed the most perfect moment, this age was in her only a guarantee of exquisite, stored-up sweetness.

He drew her with aureolas about her head. He conceived the idea of painting her, in her ordinary dress, upon a gold background, like a saint of Fra Angelico, and actually made a commencement. He intended to give it no exaggerated air of religious aspiration, but to try to portray the sanctity of a type of pure and sterling modern loveliness.

On her side, what was this goddess, this paragon of all conceivable perfections? There were people who did not coincide with Detmold as to her transcendent beauty. She had a few freckles, and her hair was a little off color, neither blonde nor brown. She was admitted by some to be a “ stylish ” girl,

— nothing more. Her family had not discovered anything phenomenal, either, in the way of goodness. There had even been displays of willfulness and temper by no means congruous with aureolas and gold backgrounds. She sang ballads in an agreeable voice enough, but of no great compass, and as to her artistic talent, a sufficient judgment has already been passed upon it. She would hardly achieve .imperishable renown by means of it. She was a little spoiled by having been kept entirely away from the graver aspects of life, and was wedded to its conventional good things, —how much it would be hard to say.

The ineffable perfections conceived by Detmold were largely within himself. The imagination needs only an adequate resting-point to move with its lever the whole of existence, and Detmold had found it.

Still, his extravagance of feeling might have been lavished in many a less worthy direction. Alice had a kind heart, a frank nature, a quick and graceful mind, and an appreciation of beauty that rivaled his own. The pleasure of the artist is not confined to the few poor subjects which he can transfer to canvas and place before the eyes of others. Colors combine, draperies fall, objects dispose themselves, and fugitive lights and shadows play at every turn to fill his educated sense with enjoyment. Alice had gone far enough beyond the mere mechanical preliminaries of her study to have some conception of this. Possibly there was no great harm in Detmold’s idealizing process. A pretty woman, with an average head and an honest and delicate nature,

— the limit to which admiration of her may justly extend has nowhere been definitely fixed. And if one be so constituted as to be a little extreme in his sentimental appreciation one might easily lapse into faults much worse.

Unless there were special engagements to prevent, Alice went daily to the Museo Civico. It is one of the heavy designs of San Michele, and lies on a quay of the Adige. It was formerly the palace of the Count Alexander Pompeo, and was presented by him to the city for a gallery and museum, — which accounts for the pictures being poorly lighted, only from side windows. The amateur of painting who chooses to spare a day from the greater glories of Venice, Milan, or Bologna, close at hand, finds at Verona a collection of minor masters belonging almost exclusively to its own school at a time when every Italian city had its school. There are Orbettos, Benaglios, Badiles, and Morones, — lesser lights in the great constellation which flamed so splendidly afterwards at Venice. They have painted the usual Sibyls. Saint Sebastians, and Flagellations at the Pillar, rigid, cold, and cadaverous, with only here and there a gleam of beauty flickering upon them, as though it might be burning softly behind all the dreary canvas, and could only for the present make its way out at minute crevices.

Among the rest—more fully represented than any other— is one Cavazzola, who had the singular fortune to be entirely neglected by the critical writers who treated of his contemporaries for three hundred years. An endeavor was made to exclude him from the pantheon of history. But after coming down unnoticed from the sixteenth century to the year 1853, there arose a Veronese poet, Aleardo Aleardi, says a recent eulogist, who deserves well of his city and the confraternity of painters for having published a biography full of the sufflation of poesy and art, in which the unfortunate master is vindicated from the long obloquy of silence.

Alice had adopted the fashion of the Veronese ladies, who in summer discard the hat for a long, black lace veil depending from the hair, and serving also as a mantilla. It gave a princess-like stateliness to her slender figure, as she moved forward with her easy, gliding motion. Sometimes Detmold accompanied her to the Museo, or called for her to return. He walked beside her with a fond pride. Sometimes he made it consist with his own occupations to repair thither and spend an hour in her society. It was cool in the small and quiet galleries, while the sun poured hotly down upon the quay outside. Here they conversed together in low, sedate tones that breathed again in the memory of Detmold during many a sad day long afterwards. The eyes of the ancient paintings looked out at them with a stiff sympathy. A few other copyists, belonging to the academy below-stairs, were scattered through the galleries at long intervals. Now and then the stillness was broken by slight clatterings, echoing hollowly from a distance, where the custodian occupied himself with small repairs, or mounted upon a ladder to shift the position of a picture.

The work upon which Alice was engaged was a copy of a portion of the portrait of the warrior Pasio Guarienti, by Paul Veronese. The face is ruddy with exposure and comfortable living, and fringed with a grizzled beard; the figure is resplendent in armor of steel, embossed in black and gold.

One day, when Detmold entered, she had just concluded some touches which seemed to meet with her decided approval. The brush was still poised in her hand, a little way back from the canvas, as though its continued proximity were necessary to maintain the charm of a successful result.

“How is the future San Michele — or Palladio—which shall I say?” said she, playfully, turning her head towards him, with her eyes still lingering upon the work, as he came and stood by her easel.

“ If you care to consult my taste, suppose you say Giotto or even Pugin I should have no great fancy for the reputation of one of these Renaissance architects.”

“ Why not? ”

“ Mainly because I have no great fancy for their works. The best of them are cold and ugly, and I have seen things of Palladio’s at Vicenza that might have been done to order for some of my own customers at Lakeport. ”

“ Oh, the Renaissance. To be sure. It is only Gothic we are to like.”

“ I wish I had the control of some clients who were as docile as you pretend to be,” said the young man, laughing at this thrust at his enthusiasm. “ No, people may like Renaissance if they please. I can give æsthetic reasons why I personally do not. At the same time it is possible that the real reason is only because I have not yet exhausted the pleasure I take in Gothic, and am not in search of a novelty. Perhaps there is no such thing as ultimate perfection — or at least ultimate content with it— possible in architecture. No sooner was Gothic developed to its highest point than the world turned away from it at that very moment, and fell in love with the revived classic, its diametrical opposite. After the latter had been extraordinarily perfected, back went the fashion to Gothic. Since then there have been re-revivals of classic and re-revivals of Gothic, and eclectic minglings together of the two, without end. We like to change the style of our architecture just as we like to change the style of our clothes. Novelty is what we are after, and, in one case as well as in the other, sometimes we retrograde and sometimes we advance. When we hold fast what is good in garments and add to it, without ever going backwards, and pause finally when they are made fully worthy of the dignity of the human figure, perhaps we shall be ready to do the same thing with buildings. A house is only a larger kind of an overcoat, after all. It does not wear out as quickly, hut it performs about the same sort of service, and is naturally subject to the same sort of fluctuations.”

“That is less hopeful than your usual strain. I do not know whether I shall believe in you, any longer, as the coming inventor of the great American style.”

“ I am as likely to be it as anybody else, notwithstanding. There is not going to be any. If there is any style at. all, after this, it will be a universal one. But how is the future Angelica Kauffmann, or shall I say Rosa Bonheur? ”

“ If it is equally convenient, suppose you do not retort, and only say Alice Starfield. I was getting on very well when you came in. See if you do not think I have caught the tones in that shaded cheek pretty well. It seems so to me. Please say you think so. You cannot imagine how I have fussed over them, and painted them in and out.”

“ You certainly have,” said Detmold. “ Anybody who should find fault with that part of your copy, at least, ought to be drawn and quartered. It is exactly right. ”

Do you think so? I am so glad! I wish I could be an immense egotist. I am a little of one now, but I mean perfectly enormous, So as never to have any misgivings.”

“ I am sure I can think of nobody who has less reason for them,” said Detmold.

“ That is one of the kind of things for which Mr. Hyson says, ‘ Pray consider my hat off.’ But really, what a comfortable thing it must be to be perfectly satisfied with everything you do. Fame and the commendation of others are nothing to it, because they are irregular and uncertain. Everything is included in self - approbation. If little can be added to it from the outside, nothing can be taken away. Does it make any difference whether you really have genius or not, if you firmly believe you have? A thorough egotist, such as one or two I know of, ought to he happier than Michel Angelo or Napoleon Bonaparte.”

11 Or our friend Cavazzola, in there.”

“ Ah, poor Cavazzola! Is not his case truly melancholy? To do something that is really worthy of recognition, and not to get the slightest credit for it for three hundred years, while all the glory there is goes to one’s inferiors !”

“ I do not know whether it is an instance of the general incapacity of the human race for original thinking, and its persistency in following authorities through thick and thin, or of the fondness of some modern writers — of whom Signor Aleardo Aleardi, poet as he was, may have been one — for contradicting and taking the Opposite side of everything that was considered settled. After such an experience, the merit of this much - neglected light of the school of Verona is at least open to doubt. The real article usually asserts itself in less time so strongly that it cannot be choked off.”

“ These interminable schools!” cried Alice. “ I can make nothing of them. There are not simply some pictures at Verona, but ' the school of Verona.’ And the school of Padua and Mantua and Pisa, and I suppose schools of every village and hamlet in the country ; besides the schools of the great cities and of all the foreign countries. I shall never make any progress in egotism as long as they puzzle me so.”

“ Do you know most of the dates? ” inquired Detmold.

“ What a dreadful question! Of course not. It is more than I can cope with to attempt to find out something of their respective characteristics, without adding any such element of confusion to the task.”

“ Oh, I mean in a general way.”

“ No ; I do not like dates even in that way.”

“ I used to find it. handy,” said Detmold, “ to look at the subject chronologically, in a very general way. One naturally has the idea that the schools were all buzzing alongside of each other at the same time, doing the same thing in different manners. But they were very little contemporaneous. They followed in succession. That takes one element out of the complication. Another is got rid of by remembering that the local writers about a place, as Verona, for instance, usually talk of the pictures painted there as belonging to its school, when in reality it had no school different from those of half a dozen other places, where the same sort of thing was done. The really tangible schools for the most part succeeded each other. This Italian art reached its climax about the end of the fifteenth century, — but this is preaching.”

“ Will you go on, please? ”

“ Then comes German art in the sixteenth, Flemish and French early in the seventeenth, Spanish later, and English in the eighteenth, — but all following directly from Italian influence. Then the three great schools of Florence, Rome, and Venice, in Italy itself, started unequally, but for a time carried on their respective specialties, namely, form, expression, and color, side by side. Out of them sprang the advanced schools of Bologna, Milan, Parma, and Naples. That is about all there were. Then if you divide the practitioners of the main schools into about three chronological periods, on the basis of capacity,—when they were, you might say, trying in turn to walk, to run, and to fly, — you have the whole thing in a nutshell.”

“ Then you would not bother about the school of Verona and its precise relations ? ”

“ Not if it puzzled my head very much. I should set It down as an incipient Venetian school, and put in my time some other way to better advantage.”

This was the manner of their talk: his, considerate, almost tender, and informing without pretense; hers, sprightly, fanciful, and above all feminine. Sometimes she rose and yielded him her seat for a moment, that he might take observations of the progress of the work from her point of view, while her light drapery rustled on the polished floor about him. Once, for the purpose of some comparison, she had him stand at the opposite side of the room, while from her place she measured his figure by holding up her pencil and keeping one eyelid closed with two taper fingers. At another time he placed himself at a little distance, for her to make a rapid sketch of his head and shoulders in a certain position.

“ This is not to be a finished likeness, you know,” said she, regarding him quizzically, as the work drew to a close. “You are not particular about having the nose in, are you ? ”

“ Not at all, —don’t mention it. You might omit the eyes and mouth also, if it is any object. ”

“ I have them in already; they are not so hard to do as noses.”

Then she showed him a remote resemblance to himself, much flattered. He carried it off, after the emergency for which it was needed was over, and cherished it as one of his principal treasures.

That day it happened he forgot there one of his sketch-books. She took it home with her own materials, and restored it to him on the occasion of his next visit. In turning over its leaves, enjoying the slight drawings full of feeling and delicacy with which it was filled, she came upon a copy of verses upon a scrap of paper, evidently never intended for public inspection. They were in his own handwriting. The paper bore a scribbled date near that of the memorable interview at Paris, in May.

There was every indication that they were his, and the motive of them no other than herself. She wondered at their extravagance, but was touched by it. She said, “ Poor fellow! ” and shivered a little at their direful suggestions, which she devoutly hoped had never been anything more than the poet’s permissible exaggeration.

X.

THE ARENA.

Without bending her attention to the details, Alice supposed that it was in the ordinary course of things that she should marry. She had not as yet cherished any excessive sentimentalism about it. She was not inclined to demand one only ideal being, predestined for her from all time, as she for him. Possibly there were within her potential circle a number of gentlemen of unexceptionable character, fortune, and social position who would make excellent husbands and improve upon acquaintance. It was to some such orderly marriage — perhaps with one considerably her senior—that she had been accustomed to look forward, if she looked at all. The feeling, therefore, of the two ardent young men, if she could have seen it in its full intensity at this time, would have called forth her wonder and even some consternation. She was ever reluctant to construe quickly indications that might seem to point in this direction. Of the feeling of Castelbarco she had only a faint suspicion, and of its seriousness none whatever. Such as it was, however, it was sufficient to make her more and more averse to his exaggerated politeness, his open admiration, and his gifts.

The aim of Castelbarco was now to find a suitable opportunity to make to Alice his impassioned offer. But it was not easy to secure, since the party at the Torre d’Oro had most of their occupations in common, finding in companionship an added zest. He did not wish to seek a formal audience, through apprehension that its object might be divined and the case decided, perhaps adversely, beforehand. He had much of the experience of Detmold at Paris, aggravated by the chafing of his more impatient nature. Alice was sometimes alone, it is true, at the Museo Civico, and returned unaccompanied; but Castelbarco, whose taste ran very moderately to the fine arts, knew only of the Museo, from some past experience, as a crowded school, where there was no privacy. In the attempts he made to encounter her in the street, he had had the fortune to find her accompanied by Miss Lonsdale, her French cicerone, or by Detmold, who seemed to have been drawing at the Museo also.

The pleasant evenings in the parlor of Mrs. Starfield went on as usual. Hyson, returning from a flying visit to Milan, gave an account of some theatrical performance he had witnessed there.

“ But why have we no theatres here? ” inquired Alice. “It is strange that in so large a city we have yet found nothing of that kind to attract us.”

“ There are, at the right season, I suppose,” answered Hyson; “but in summer they usually close up, and the actors take a vacation.”

“ Yes,” said Castelbarco, in his elegant stilted diction; " profuse operas and ballets are set forth at the Filarmonico at their fitting seasons, —notably during the Carnival. The dramatic art, also, is sufficiently well exemplified in five others. At present, we have of it nothing save a poor summer theatre in the Arena.”

“ The plays there are pretty fair, as well as I can make out, ” remarked Hyson.

“ They are not literary or excellent; they are esteemed by us of a low grade,” said Castelbarco, with an air of compassion.

“ It would be novel and interesting to see one, nevertheless,” said Alice.

“ Will the Signorina Starfield do me the honor to accept an invitation?” asked Castelbarco, upon whom it flashed that there might be in this the opportunity he coveted.

Alice said, hesitatingly, “ Yes — certainly— if the rest will go, I should like to very much.”

The idea was accepted as a good one, and it was arranged that the four —Detmold was not present — should go on the following afternoon.

The Arena is a great oval ruin, similar to the Coliseum at Rome in construction and only second to it in size. It has held forty thousand people to welcome the triumphal entry of a king since modern Italy has had the fortune to have one. The arched passages beneath it are gloomy and drip with moisture. Some of them are used for shops of various sorts. In one may be purchased antiquities and the fossil fishes of Monte Bolca. The summer theatre is a shabby little affair of wood, in the open air, with a few rows of benches about it; the whole a mere box set down in the midst of the vast amphitheatre. The scenery, in the searching daylight, was peculiarly wan and ragged.

The performance began at six, and only the concluding portions needed the assistance of lamp-light.

Our friends entered through a soiled turnstile to a select situation, secured by the payment of a small addition to the billet of ingress. Close by them sat a young priest in a silk habit, accompanied by a pretty, vivacious young lady whom they took to be his sister. The audience consisted largely of soldiers from the garrison, for whose benefit a special low rate is fixed by law.

On all sides stretched back the innumerable rows of lonesome steps which once served as a.qtiarry to whoever would avail himself of the material. Later on the noble monument was the place of deposit for all the garbage of Verona. The Visconti in their time turned an honest penny by renting it out for duels, at twenty-five Venetian lire a head for the privilege.

The sun was still bright, and the spectators sheltered themselves with fans and parasols until it should have gone down behind the edge of the great encompassing wall.

“ Poor old battered structure,” said Hyson, sympathetically, " how respectable it is yet! I wonder if this is a fair contrast between the ancient and modern style of doing things. There is their theatre, and here is ours. It is like a tooth-pick alongside of a man-of-war, or a penny torpedo in presence of a ton of dynamite.”

“ They might have had a few magnificent buildings like this, superior to anything of ours,” said Miss Lonsdale, “ but in what an immense number of respects we surpass them! Think of the comforts, conveniences, and luxuries by which we are surrounded, of which they had no conception! ”

“ I am not so sure of that,” said Hyson. “ I thought so once, myself. In my school days I had a dreary idea of the Greeks and Romans as forlorn individuals hanging around in some great temple or coliseum, with no place to go to at night but perhaps a hay-stack or dry-goods box. It is simply because a few great monuments remain, while the surroundings of every-day life, everything that was ephemeral, have perished. But the probability is that they had Paris Opera Houses and Albert Halls, brownstone fronts, quail on toast, dresses from Worth’s, morning germans, the redowa, and everything else of the first water, like ourselves. It is not reasonable to suppose — even if we had no other means of judging — that the ancients put up a great amphitheatre here and there, and scrimped themselves on everything else, but rather that the rest of their furniture was on a scale corresponding.”

“ The Arena has associations equally great with those of antiquity,” said Castelbareo, to hold his share of the discourse. “ It is said to have furnished to Dante, by its vast concentric circles and its exits and entrances at different heights, the plan of his Inferno.”

“ Dante was an old gentleman who had a true conception of what it was to be a poet,” remarked Hyson.

“ I should think so, indeed,” said Castelbarco, in whom this flippant tone produced a displeased expression.

“ It was down below, in one of those very archways, that he committed the assault and battery that should endear him to the heart of every author who is interested in accurate piracy, whether there is an adequate copyright law or not.”

“ I am afraid I do not understand,” said Alice. “ What was it about? ”

“ An old party was misquoting his verses,” continued Hyson, “a blacksmith, or something that way, singing and blowing his bellows and misquoting away as hard as ever he could. Dante steps in and begins to throw horseshoes, pincers, sledge - hammers, anything that came handy, at his head.

“ ' Hallo! Stop! Murder!’ said the blacksmith.

“ ‘ ] won’t stop,’ said Dante.

“ ‘ Well, what do you mean? what is it all about? ' exclaimed the blacksmith, dodging an anvil.”

“ Oh, an anvil?” said Alice. “Is your account strictly historical? ”

“ Well, a grindstone, then,” consented the narrator. “ ‘Yes,’ says Dante, ‘ I won’t stop.’

“‘ Why not?’ says the blacksmith. ‘ You will break everything all to pieces,’

“‘Just what I want to do,’ said Dante; ‘you have misquoted my verses, sir; you have damaged my property, sir. I shall use yours the same way you use mine. ’ ”

But now the curtain rose, and general attention was drawn to the stage. The main feature of the entertainment that awaited them was set forth in the playbill:—

GRAND RECITAL, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLDFAMOUS CHARACTER ACTOR

LUCIANO BOLDRINI.

The dramatic company Emanual-Castali, under the direction of the renowned manager Giovanni Emanuel, will present

A POLITICIAN OF THE DAY,

COMEDY IN FOUR ACTS BY CESARE CASALT, HIS VERY LATEST.

PERSONS

The Candidate,

Rosita,

The Burgomaster,

The Doctor,

Lucian,

The Viscount Fabris,

The General Corio,

Francois,

Gasparo,

Adelaide,

Carmosina,

L. Boldrini.

E. Cartali.

F. Tilche.

C. Tamberlani.

S. Meschini.

G. Gagliardi.

G. Prodocini.

N. Pasquali.

P. Ruppi

A. Boldrini. R. Emanuel

The comedy was preceded by a broad farce which depicted the impositions of a charlatan at a country fair. He gave out that he cured all diseases and infirmities without pain. “Without pain! without pain! ” he shouted, striding up and down with a prodigious swagger. “ Who will be the next to submit a headache, a toothache, a cancer, a distorted limb, to the unfailing skill of the celebrated Doctor Abracadabra, who has practiced in the families of all the crowned heads of Europe, Asia, Africa, Sicily, and the United States of America? Without pain! without pain! ”

His final exploit was to draw for an astonished rustic, by means of a string attached to the ball of a pistol, which he fired off, a huge wooden tooth, but little less in size than his head.

The little party from the Torre d’Oro were seated with the ladies in the centre and the gentlemen upon each side. Castelbarco was next to Alice. He could speak to her in low tones without being overheard. Her perfumed muslin robe touched him. Her small gloved hands lay crossed in her lap. He held above her a parasol, the tempered light through which suffused her complexion with a soft radiance that might have been thought to emanate from within. He ventured a number of compliments, the delicacy of which was perhaps lost in transit through an unfamiliar tongue, since they came forth almost offensively overpowering. She could give by her presence, he said, merit equal to the best to the rude representation they were witnessing. Her beauty, also, was capable of redeeming the homeliness of such or any other surroundings. An ingenious compliment may imply matters which if directly stated are nauseating.

“ I must tell you that I am not in the least vain, Mr. Castelbarco,” said Alice. “ When I hear such things I never believe them.”

“ But if they are truly meant, dear Miss Alice, and not mere empty sayings,” said he, honestly.

“So much the worse,” she replied.

In the Politician of the Period was shown a gentleman — personated by the renowned character actor Luciano Boldrini himself — who was endeavoring to secure an election to Parliament. The wife of the renowned character actor, the Signora Boldrini, played Dolores, his daughter. She had several lovers, all of whom and their influence the candidate tried to secure in his favor by alternate encouragement of their aspirations. It would appear from the Politician of the Period that the exercise of the suffrage in Italy, limited as it is, is scarcely more free from demagogism and truckling subserviency than among ourselves. The candidate remitted old debts, loaned money, bought goods freely that he had not the slightest need of, forced his family to brim over with affability to persons they detested, made promises for the future regardless of all normal capability of fulfillment, and after all was — lamentable result —defeated.

The pace of the dialogue seemed bewilderingly rapid, but with the aid of interpretations of Castelbarco they were able to follow it with considerable satisfaction.

One of the lovers of Dolores, called Ruppi on the bill, — he came so near to it that Hyson named him Guppy, —was a shambling youth who when refused by the object of his admiration wept abjectly, using a vast expanse of red handkerchief, at which the audience were much amused.

“ It would be interesting to know,” said Hyson, speculatively, “ just why we laugh at this one and sympathize with the other two. He is a well-meaning, honest fellow. Here he is, thrown off his centre, completely upset in his dearest project. He does not dress as well or strut as loftily as the high-toned ones, but I will venture to say that his misery is just as keen as theirs.”

“ He is a ridiculous, impertinent fellow,” said Castelbarco.

“ Of course we know his misery will not last long; that is one reason,” said Miss Lonsdale. “ He makes us laugh, and so we think very little of him. Perhaps we really ought to think more of him on that account, because he has done us a service. Humorists get a good deal of consideration, but I have sometimes thought not the kind, after all, to which they are entitled. They lighten the burdens of life so much that it would be fair to look upon them as physicians and systematic philanthropists. To say nothing of the great writers who are humorists and something more, I think Artemas Ward, Mark Twain, and the Danbury News Man have a much better claim to statues than a great many who get them.”

‘‘Miss Lonsdale and I have turned philosophers,” said Hyson. “That is my opinion. I am in favor of the statues. I even go further. I wish to see a bust of the Jumping Frog in Central Park and a colossal group of the Nelson Street man putting up his stove-pipe on the Pincian.”

“ But Mary was serious,” said Alice, bending forward to look at him, reproachfully.

“ So am I, I assure you,” said Hyson.

For the last act of the piece the footlights and a chandelier were lighted. The stage was a spot of brightness, while all about remained obscure. At the conclusion the audience strolled out under the old arches and over the old pavements much in the same way as the Roman subjects of two thousand years before, perhaps exchanging not greatly different gossip; the tall soldiers might have belonged to the tenth legion of Germaanicus instead of to Victor Emmanuet’s foot-guards. The visitors lingered, and with the permission of an attendant climbed the measured grade of the ancient steps to see the lights of the city and its silhouetted outlines from the top of the wall. While they gazed, the great tawny disk of the moon emerged above the hills. A military band began to play in the piazza below.

They descended and passed up the Via Leoncino, the Via Leoni, the Via Sebastiano, the Via Capello, — the foreign streets whose names fall so softly from the tongue. After the heats of the day, all was animation. Fruits, ices, mischio, could not be dispensed rapidly enough at the cafés. The fountain splashed in the Piazza Erbe. Hyson kissed his hand to the statue, in passing.

“ She seems to me a faithful old guardian, standing there in all sorts of weathers,” said he. “ Out-of-doors seems less lonesome.”

“ If we could only have a glimpse of the tombs of the Scaligers by moonlight, before returning,” suggested Miss Lonsdale; “ it is such a lovely night.”

“Let us first take some ices,” proposed Hyson.

They passed under the Volta da Barbaro, an archway signalized by the murder of an estimable prince in its shade. The greater part of the Piazza de’ Signori was in shadow. The moon began to wage with the brilliant lights of the café a calm contest in which it knew it should, later in the night, be victorious.

“ This is the spot where I first met Detmold, whom I had not seen before for years,” began Hyson, as they sipped their ices; “ and also, now that I think of it, my friend Antonio, who did me the honor to take me for a lunatic.”

“ Oh no, not a lunatic! ” protested Castelbarco.

“ I was tired, from being cramped up all day in a railway carriage, and indulged in some amateur elocution, — that is all. The place impressed me, when I first came into it, like the stage of a theatre.”

“It is theatrical; I have often remarked it. Is it a dagger as I see before me?” mocked Alice, waving her spoon, with an infinitesimal portion of ice in it, and then placing it between her white teeth.

“ Good! ” said Hyson. “ You have a genius for tragedy. I engage you for my stock company.”

“ There is Mr. Detmold!” exclaimed Miss Lonsdale, as a shapely figure arose at a table near by.

“So it is,” said Alice; “and papa and mamma, too, as comfortable as possible. It is evident that our company is not necessary to their happiness.”

But the others observed them also, and the two parties amalgamated.

“ Come,” said Hyson, “you shall all join my company. Your daughter, Mr. Starfield, is a queen of tragedy. You shall be the heavy father, Detmold the young leading man, Miss Lonsdale the first walking lady and confidante, Antonio the ” —with a good-natured sarcasm at the expense of the serious young man — “ the light comedian, Miss Alice the young heroine and loveress, and Hyson,” slapping himself complacently on the breast, “the villain.”

“ Perhaps you flatter yourself,” said Alice. “ Are you sure you are wicked enough? ”

“ There ought to be an Italian villain, according to all the precedents,” said Miss Lonsdale. “ Our travelers always represent the country as full of wickedness.”

“ I will not resign in anybody’s favor. I know my own qualifications, I suppose. Besides, I do not agree with our travelers if they say that. I have not met a much straighter and honester set of people anywhere than these Italians, — and I do not say it under compulsion from my friend Castelbarco, either.”

The party presently arose and moved on under another archway to the tombs of the Scaligers.

These tombs of a splendid line of princes are in a small paved court by the side of a church. A lofty grille, which is a miracle of the metal-worker’s art, surrounds them. The sarcophagus of the first of the line is as simple as the origin of its occupant, — a hardy soldier who carved his way to fortune with his sword. Can Grande, the fifth in descent, who received Dante at the most magnificent court in Italy, rides upon his warhorse, in full armor. But the crowning glory of the whole, the monument that embodies the essence of Gothic richness more fully than any other, is raised above the ashes of one who gained and preserved their inheritance to his sons by a double fratricide. It springs high into the air and supports upon its pinnacle an equestrian statue. Its whole mass is fretted with such complicated loveliness of canopies, gables, niches, sculptured saints, armorial bearings, crockets, flowers, and finials, as if it would charm Heaven into forgetfulness of the awful guilt of its founder. The inclosure was shut at that hour. Our friends stood without and conversed softly. In such a scene Detmold spoke with involuntary eloquence. The moonlight played amid the rich tangle of sculpture, and here and there threw out the spider lines of the grating like a pattern of lacework against some deep shadow within. The sculptured warriors reposed upon their tombs with folded hands, as if in an enchanted sleep.

W. H. Bishop.