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sort of aid which is no less necessary than criticism to success in art; he thus soon gains fortune and distinction, and is finally honored with a commission from the Pope. Maldura, on leaving the seminary, goes to Florence, and, his patrimony being sufficient for his subsistence, he determines to win fame as a poet. Unlike his friend, however, he does not love his art for its own sake, but only for the sake of applause. He is well received among the literati, and elected very early a member of the Della Crusca Academy. All goes smoothly with him, till the production of his first long poem, to which he has devoted all his skill, and of the entire success of which he entertains no doubt. At last it is published; he waits, day after day, expecting to hear it praised, till at length, the Count Piccini, “a kind of talking gazette,” details to him the manner of its reception at the conversazione. All had ridiculed it except Alfieri; he had said “nothing.” Stung to the quick, but full of self-confidence, Maldura determines to have vengeance; and for that purpose he is now bent on gaining not only fame but literary power. He accordingly goes to Rome, and sets to work at a satire and a tragedy. The satire he sends to Florence under a feigned name; it is completely successful, and he regards its triumph as an earnest of the success of his tragedy. He now again mixes in society, which he had for a while abandoned. His manners and reputation for learning, procure him easy admittance to the best circles. Among other friendships, he acquires that of a distinguished advocate, Landi, with whose beautiful daughter, Rosalia, he falls in love. She rejects him, and soon after comes a death-blow to his ambition, from the manager at Florence, to whom he had sent his tragedy. These double disappointments quench all his hopes and leave only his pride; he turns world-hater, retires to an unfrequented part of the city, and is soon forgotten. About two years afterwards, Monaldi, being in Rome, accidentally meets his old friend, who reluctantly recognizes him, and, it being near his house, invites him in. Sitting at an upper window, overlooking the Campo Vaccino, they have a long conversation, from which Monaldi at length retires with the melancholy impression that
Maldura's brain is unsettled. The view from the window in this splendid chapter, though not above the general tone of the description, may be quoted as complete in itself:—
“The air was hot and close, and there was a thin yellow haze over the distance like that which precedes the sirocco; but the nearer objects were clear and distinct, and so bright that the eye could hardly rest on them without quivering, especially on the modern buildings, with their huge sweep of whited walls, and their red-tiled roofs, that lay burning in the sun, while the sharp, black shadows, which here and there seemed to indent the dazzling masses, might almost have been fancied the cindertracks of his fire. The streets of Rome, at no time very noisy, are for nothing more remarkable than, during the summer months, for their noontide stillness, the meridian heat being frequently so intense as to stop all business, driving everything within doors, with the proverbial exception of dogs and strangers. But even these might scarcely have withstood the present scorching atmosphere. It was now high noon, and the few straggling vine-dressers that were wont to stir in this secluded quarter, had already been driven under shelter; not a vestige of life was to be seen, not a bird on the wing, and so deep was the stillness that a solitary foot-fall might have filled the whole air. Neither was this stillness lessened by the presence of the two friends—for nothing so deepens silence as man at rest; they had both sat mutely gazing from the window, and apparently unconscious of the lapse of time, till the bell of a neighboring church warned them of it.”
Monaldi had come to Rome to fulfil a commission from the Pope, who had ordered of him a companion picture to a Madonna of Rafaelle. He goes to see the Madonna, which is in a splendid private gallery of the best works of Roman and Venetian art. Here, although almost bewildered with delight, yet in passing a door at the end of the gallery, his eyes fall on an object to which every other immediately gives place.
“It was the form of a young female who was leaning, or rather bending, over the back of a chair, and reading. At first he saw only its general loveliness, and he gazed on it as on a more beautiful picture, till a slight movement suddenly gave it a new character—it was the quickening grace that gives life to symmetry. There is a charm in life which no pencil can reach—it thrilled him. But when he caught a glimpse of the half-averted face, the pearly forehead, gleaming through clusters of black, glossy hair—the lustrous, intellectual line beneath, just seen through the half-closed eyelids—the tremulously-parted lips, and the almost visible soul that seemed to rush from them upon the page before her—even the wonders of his art appeared like idle mockeries.”
This is the same Rosalia Landi who had refused the addresses of Maldura. Her father, who is the owner of the collection, comes in just in time to relieve his daughter and the young artist from embarrassment. The conversation which ensues must not be wholly omitted.
“‘Nay,” said Monaldi, ‘Rafaelle is one whom criticism can affect but little either way. He speaks to the heart, a o of us that never mistakes a meaning; and they who have one to understand should ask nothing in liking him but the pleasure of sympathy.’ “‘And yet there are many technical beauties,” said the Advocate, “which an unpracticed eye needs to have pointed out.’ “‘Yes—and faults, too,” answered Monaldi; “but his execution makes only a small part of that by which he affects us. But had he even the color of Titian, or the magic chiar' oscuro of Correggio, they would scarcely add to that sentient spirit with which our own communes. I have certainly seen more beautiful faces; we sometimes meet them in nature—faces to look at, and with pleasure—but not to think of like this. Besides, Rafaelle does more than make us think of him ; he makes us forget his deficiencies—or, rather, supply them.” “‘I think I understand you: when the heart is touched, but a hint is enough,” said Rosalia. “‘Aye,’ said the Advocate, smiling, “’tis with pictures as with life; only bribe that invisible finisher, and we are sure to reach perfection. However, since there is no other human way to perfection of any kind, I do not see that it is unwise to allow the illusion— which certainly elevates us while it lasts; for we cannot have a sense of the perfect, though imaginary, while we admit ignoble thoughts.” “‘This is a great admission for you, sir.’ said Rosalia; ‘’tis the best apology for romance I have heard.” “‘Is it 2 Well, child, then I have been romantic myself without knowing it.—But the picture before us—' “‘ I could not forget it if I would, interrupted Monaldi, with excitement— that singlehearted, that ineffable look of love : yet so pure and passionless—so like what we may believe of the love of angels. It seems as if I had never before known the power of my art.’ “As he spoke, his eyes unconsciously wandered to Rosalia. The charm was there ; and his art was now as much indebted to the living
presence as a little before it had suffered from it. “‘If one may judge from his works,’ said Rosalia, ‘Rafaelle must have been a very amiable man.” “‘We have no reason to think otherwise, answered Monaldi. “He at least knew how to be so; if he was not, his self-reproach must have been no small punishment, if at all proportioned to his exquisite perception of moral beauty. But he was all you believe, according to the testimony of his cotemporaries, by whom he appears to have been as much beloved as admired.’ “‘I could wish,” said Rosalia, “that tradition had spared us either more or less of the great author of that Prophet;’—they had turned to a cartoon by Michael Angelo. “They say he was morose; and many affect to find in that the reason why he does not touch their hearts. Yet, I know not how it is, whether he stirs the heart or not, there is a something in his works that so lifts one above our present world, or at least, which so raises one above all ordinary emotions, that I never quit the Sistine Chapel without feeling it impossible to believe any charge to his discredit.” “‘Never believe it !” said Monaldi, with energy. “He had too great a soul—too rapt for an unkind feeling. If he did not often sympathize with those about him, it was because he had but little in common with them. Not that he had less of passion, but more of the intellectual. His heart seems to have been so sublimated by his imagination that his too refined affections—I can almost believe—sought a higher sphere—even that in which the forms of his pencil seem to have had their birth; for they are neither men nor women—at least like us that walk the earth—but rather of a race which minds of a high order might call up when they think of the inhabitants of the planet Saturn. To some, perhaps, this may be jar#". not here, I venture to hope.” Rosaia bowed. “Nay, the eloquent confession I have just heard could not have been made had not the spell of Michael Angelo been understood as well as felt.” “‘You have assisted me to understand him better,’ said Rosalia, ‘and if I do, perhaps I might say, that he makes me think instead of feel. In other words, the effect is not mere sensation.’ “Monaldi answered her only by a look, but one of such unmingled pleasure, as would have called up a blush, had not a similar feeling prevented her observing it. He felt as if he had been listening to the echoes of his own mind. “‘Upon my word, Rosalia, said her father, ‘I did not know you were so much of a connoisseur; ’tis quite new to me, I assure you.’ “Rosalia now blushed, for the compliment made her sensible of her enthusiasm, which now surprised herself: she could not recollect that she had ever before felt so much excited. “‘Nay, my dear, I am serious—and I need not say how pleased. How you have escaped the cant of the day I can’t guess. "Tis now the fashion to talk of Michael Angelo's extravagance, of his want of truth, and what not —as if truth were only in what we have seen 1 This matter-of-fact philosophy has infected the age. Let the artists look to it! They have already begun to quarrel with the Apollo—because the skin wants suppleness But what is that? A mere technical defect. Then they cavil at the form—those exquisite o and where would be his celestial lightness, his preternatural majesty without them 7. Signor Monaldi will forgive this strain: perhaps I should not hold it before an artist.’
Monaldi presently retires, leaving the Advocate delighted with his visitor.
“—‘I can almost fancy that we have been talking with Rafaelle. He has not disappointed you, I am sure.”
“No, replied Rosalia, “on the contrary She felt provoked with herself that she could say nothing more.”
After this interview, and a few subsequent visits at Landi's house, Monaldi thinks of nothing but Rosalia. He becomes nervous in her presence, and she is no less so in his. One evening they attempt to play a duet before the old upright piano, which has a mirror in the back; he lets fall his violin, and, with a stammered apology, something about indisposition, rushes out of the house. When he is gone, Landi asks for his favorite air, but Rosalia is unable to play aught that he recognizes. The next interview leads to a declaration, and, in short, it is not long before Monaldi and Rosalia are man and wife; and he now only desires to find his friend, as he feels assured that no melancholy could long withstand Rosalia's sympathy.
Maldura has gone to Sienna, to take possession of a large estate, left him by a rich relative; but this sudden accession of fortune works no change in his embittered heart. One evening, in a coffee-house, he overhears some one tell of the marriage of Monaldi, the great painter, to Rosalia Landi, daughter of the rich advocate.
From that moment his only purpose is revenge: to think that one whom he had always looked down upon, should be rich, honored, and above all, the husband of
her who had rejected himself, is inspiration to him. He rushes from the coffeehouse, and though it is almost dark, mounts his horse and sets off, unattended, for Rome. Somewhat after nightfall, going up the mountains beyond Radicofani, he is stopped by a robber, in whom he recognizes the famous Count Fialto, the most notorious outlaw and libertine in Italy— infamous particularly for his power over the sex, and his numberless seductions. This man was sometimes tolerated by the gay cavaliers at Rome for his brilliant conversation and it was there Maldura had seen him. The story was, that he had even seduced a nun. Maldura now tells him that he has need of his services, and money to pay for them. Fialto leads the way to a concealed cavern among the rocks, where they are met and waited on by a haggard and wasted woman whom the robber calls Marcellina, and who obeys him like a slave. Here Maldura unfolds his unholy scheme, which is to employ Fialto to make Monaldi jealous of his beautiful wife. But to secure himself, he ascertains, by suddenly mentioning the Inquisition, that Marcellina is the stolen nun: the life of each thus becomes the pledge of good faith. They travel together towards Rome, always separating when they come to towns. At Viterbo Fialto sees Monaldi in the inn yard, and learns that he is on his way to Florence to attend to the putting up of a picture in some church; he will be away from home a fortnight at least, and his wife is not with him. That will give them time, and they therefore push on eagerly to take advantage of it. Arrived in Rome, Maldura takes lodgings in a distant part of the city, while Fialto establishes himself near the painter's house, which he begins to seem to haunt—passing slowly up and down a dozen times a day, stealing glances at the windows, caracoling before it on a restiff horse, affecting to throw something from his pocket into the court-yard, and the like; all to excite the suspicions of the neighbors, so that when Monaldi returns, his arrival is noted among them with shrugs and winks, and one, Romero, a poor mosaic worker, whose shop is opposite, and who dislikes Monaldi, for not, as he thought, praising him enough, now vents his spleen in dark inuendos. One day Monaldi going out, sees a man at his gateway, who draws down his hat and retreats; the next day he observes from a window the same person standing over by Romero's door, and conversing, apparently, by signs, with some one in his house. Who can he be 2 He rushes down to the street, but before he reaches it the man is gone. He observes him, also, many times after, always hanging about and avoiding him.
One evening, Landi and he go alone to the opera, Rosalia having declined on account of a headache. They are scarce seated when Landi points out a handsome cavalier in an opposite box. Monaldi looks and sees the stranger. “Who is he?” he inquires quickly.
Landi then enlarges upon the striking contrast of his noble countenance and his innumerable crimes, especially his sins against women. In the middle of the act, Monaldi observes a person bring him a letter, upon glancing at which, he hastily withdraws. But all is presently forgotten in the delightful music, till, on returning home alone, he perceives a man at his gateway; he steps under a lamp—the man passes quickly, and he sees that it is— Fialto. His heart sinks within him, and he stands in a bewildered revery, till suddenly the closing of a window above arouses him. He looks up and sees a light in his wife's chamber, and a female figure passing from the window.
For the first time, the poison takes deep hold. But his nature does not readily yield; it cannot be—his wife had merely retired early on account of her being unwell—that was all. He enters his house, and finds her sitting in the very room where he had left her.
“‘You are home early, observed Rosalia; ‘I hope you have been entertained.’
“‘Perhaps too early, replied Monaldi, hesitating, and almost shuddering at the strangeness of his own voice.’ ‘You seem surprised. What if I should be so at finding you here 2' “Me 2 why so Oh, I suppose you thought my headache would have sent me to bed. But it is quite gone off.” “‘Indeed! and pray—who has cured it 2' “The question seemed forced from him by torture, and his utterance was so thick that Rosalia asked what he said. “‘Your headache. I asked who has cured it.” “‘Oh, my old doctor—nature.” “‘Rosalia' said Monaldi. “‘What? but what disturbs you?' “‘Nay, what should “‘I am sure I know not.” “If you know not—but I'm afraid you have passed but a dull evening alone.’ “‘Oh, no, I have been amusing myself—if it may be called amusement to have one's flesh creep—with Dante. I had just finished the Inferno as you came in.' “‘As I came in 2 The Inferno, I must own, seems hardly a book of entertainment for a lady’s bed-chamber.’ “I don't understand you.’ “‘Or will not.” “Dear husband!' said Rosalia, looking up with surprise, and a feeling as yet new to her, “you talk in riddles.’ “‘Is it a riddle to ask why you should choose to read in your chamber 2 }. there you were when I entered.’ “Who, I ? No, I have not been up stairs this evening.’ “‘A lie 'groaned Monaldi, turning from her with an agony that would not be suppressed. ‘Oh, misery! 'tis then too—too—' “A maid servant, at that instant, came in to tell her mistress, that as the night was damp, she had shut her chamber windows, though without orders. “‘You have done well,” said Rosalia. “‘Thank God!” said Monaldi, as he heard this explanation. “Away—away, forever, infernal thoughts o' + + + + k + sk “‘Oh, Monaldi, I am blessed above women o' “‘And dost thou think so 7” “At least I know not how I could be happier. For what more could I ask, with such a husband?” “‘Or I with such a wife 2 Amen with my whole soul.’”
A few days after, Romero sends for Monaldi to give his opinion upon a miniature copy of a Magdalen by Guido, telling him it is ordered by his friend, the Count Fialto. Monaldi, surprised, denies that he has any acquaintance with the man. The
mosaic worker apologizes, saying that he took him to be his friend from seeing him come so frequently out of his dwelling— adding that he came to his shop oftener than he should relish, had he a pretty daughter, or—wife. Monaldi is almost stunned by this news, and has barely strength to reach his gateway, where, leaning against a pillar, he hears his wife singing a new polacca, the only air upon which their tastes disagreed; another time he would not have noticed it, but now—
“He turned for a moment towards the court of his house, then pressing his hand to his brain rushed from the gate. Whither he was going he knew not; yet it seemed as if motion gave him the power of enduring what he could not bear at rest; and he continued to traverse street after street, till, quitting the city, he had reached Ponte Molle, where, exhausted by heat and fatigue, he was at length compelled to stop.
“It was one of those evenings never to be forgotten by a painter—but one, too, which must come upon him in misery as a gorgeous mockery. The sun was yet up, and resting on the highest peak of a ridge of mountain-shaped clouds, that seemed to make a part of the distance ; suddenly he disappeared, and the landscape was overspread with a cold, lurid hue; then, as if molten in a furnace, the fictitious mountains began to glow ; in a moment more they tumbled asunder; in another he was seen again piercing their fragments, and darting his shafts to the remotest east, till, reaching the horizon, he appeared to recall them, and with a parting flash to wrap the whole heavens in flame.
“Monaldi groaned aloud. ‘No, thou art nothing to me now, thou glorious sun--nothing. To me thou art dead, buried—and forever, in her darkness; hers whose own glory once made me to love thee."— “A desolate vacancy now spread over him, and leaning over the bridge, he seemed to lose himself in the deepening gloom of the scene, till the black river that moved beneath him appeared almost a part of his mind, and its imageless waters but the visible current of his own dark thoughts. “The very sense of pain will soon force the faculties to return to their wonted action, to pursue again their plans of peace and hope. * * * The intense longing for relief brought on a re-action. ‘No, said he, starting up, “some fiend has tempted me, and I have mocked myself with monsters only in my brain —she is pure—she must be ""
He returns homeward, but as he crosses his threshold, and pauses for an instant to
collect his thoughts, with his hand upon the latch of the door of the ante-room, his wife, from within, mistaking him for a servant, bids him come in, and starts back with an exclamation of surprise when she sees it is he. This awakens his former despair; he thinks she has mistaken him for her gallant. His manner fills her with alarm.
“‘Dearest husband, oh, speak to me!’ said Rosalia, as soon as she could find words; “are you ill o'
“ . No.”
“‘Then why do you look so? Has anything happened 7°
“‘Oh, do not say so; something must, or you would not be thus.’
“‘How thus 7”
“‘As you never were before.”
“‘True, I never—pshaw—there's nothing the matter; and I have told you I am very well.'
“‘Nothing !’-This was the first instance of reserve since their marriage. Rosalia felt its chill as from an actual blast, and her arms mechanically dropped by her side. “Ah, Monaldi: you have yet to know your wife. And yet, I ought—I do honor your motive ; you would spare her pain. But if you knew her heart, you would feel that your unkindest act would be to deny her the privilege of sharing your sufferings.” *k sk *k sk “There is a certain tone—if once heard, and heard in the hour of love—which even the tongue that uttered it can never repeat, should its purpose be false. Monaldi heard it now ; there was no resisting that breath from the heart; he felt its truth as it were vibrating through him, and he continued gazing on her till a sense of his injustice flushed him with shame. For a moment he covered his face ; then turning gently towards her, ‘Rosalia,” said he, in a softened accent—but his emotion prevented his proceeding.
“‘Speak, my dear husband, and tell me that you think me not unworthy to be one with you in sorrow.” “My wife thou art indeed my own o' said Monaldi, clasping her to his bosom. ‘Oh, what a face is this . How poor a veil would it be to anything evil. Falsehood could not hide there.” Then quitting her for a moment, he walked up the room. “I have read her every thought,” said he to himself: ‘had they been pebbles at the bottom of a clear stream, they could not have been more distinct. With such a face she cannot be false.” As he said this, an expression of joy lighted up his features, and he turned again to his wife. There needed not a word to interpret his look;-she sprang forward, and his arms again opened to receive her,