Изображения страниц

may give the death blow to slavery and the slave-trade. And because in industrial and educational appliances, in wealth, and science and art, they are poor and we are rich, they are weak and we are strong, therefore we will help them in a work whose toil shall be theirs, and theirs its honor and reward.

Oh, Africa! whose symbol hath been the chain and the scourge, whose soil hath been the hunting-ground of every conqueror, whose coasts the prey of every pirate, whose tribute to the wealth and civilization of other lands hath been the tears and blood of thy sons, lift up thyself at length, stretch out thy hands unto God who striketh thy shackles from thee, saying, "I will bring thy seed from the East, and gather thee from the West." The daughters of Jerusalem have scorned thee because thou art black-because the sun hath looked upon thee, thy mother's children were angry with thee, they made thee keeper of the vineyards-their field-hand, their slave. But lo the king hath looked upon thee, and the day of thy deliverance is at hand. Thy winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come. There is hope for thee, poor, despised, down-trodden daughter of the sun. Lift up thyself; stretch forth thy hands, reclaim thine own. "Say to the North give up; and to the South, keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth."

Has thy night been long and mournful?

Have thy friends unfaithful proved?
Have thy foes been proud and scornful?
By thy sighs and tears unmoved?
God, thy God, will now restore thee;
He himself appears thy Friend!
All thy foes shall flee before thee;
Here their boasts and triumphs end.
Great deliverance

Zion's king vouchsafes to send.


The Marble Faun; or, the Romance of Monte-Beni. By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. Two Volumes. Boston: Tick

nor & Fields. 1860.

It is not surprising that the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne should be little read, and less liked, by the mass of straight-forward, common-sense people, of Calvinistic views,— for while he seldom directly opposes the orthodox doctrines of religion, we look in vain for any recognition of them in his works. In fact the class of readers who thoroughly appre ciate and enjoy them is small. The complaint is almost universally made, that his views of life are altogether too gloomy and morbid.

[ocr errors]

For ourselves, while he evinces so little conception of the remedial system which God has provided for the sins and sorrows of mankind; while he dwells so much upon gloomy wrongs, and portrays the horrors of remorse, without showing its only legitimate relief,-hope of pardon through an atoning Saviour, we do not consider him a healthy writer, and cannot recommend the perusal of his works to immature and undiscriminating minds. Yet to reflective, imaginative readers, for whom Hawthorne more especially writes, his works are richly suggestive, though not always a source of unqualified enjoyment. But even among these, we suspect there are many who fail to penetrate the hidden meaning which generally lurks beneath his fanciful tales. We think this must be especially true with reference to his latest work,-"The Marble Faun,"for though great admiration is expressed for the exquisite descriptions of art and nature which it contains, we hear continual complaint of the obscurity of the story, and its strange and unsatisfactory conclusion. Taking it merely as a story, no doubt there is ground for such complaints, but we must remember that Hawthorne is no mere novelist; many of his stories are allego

ries, unfolding some ethereal fancy, or important truth. Had we time, we might illustrate this by reference to many of his earlier works, especially to some of the tales in the "Mosses from an old Manse;" such sketches, for instance, as "The Birth-mark;" "Rappaccini's Daughter;" "Goodman Brown ;" and "The Artist of the Beautiful." But our design, now, is merely to furnish what we consider as the key to the allegory of "The Marble Faun."

We understand that the four principal characters in the story personify the different elements which we perceive in our strangely-molded natures; the Soul or Will, whichever we may call it; the Conscience or Intuitive power; the Reason or Intellect; and lastly, the Animal Nature, or Body. These four we find united in companionship, and in a state of comparative isolation from all others. They form, so to speak, a little world in themselves, and are all, for the time being, sojourners in the ancient city of Rome, at a distance from their homes.


The beautiful and courageous Miriam represents the Soul, her judicious and honorable friend, the sculptor Kenyon, is the Reason. She ever finds in him a wise counselor, but he is too cold and austere to secure her full confidence, or to give her, in her great trial, the warm sympathy she seeks. Rightly is he represented as a worker in marble, even as the Reason deals with truths in their naked severity and coldness. The fair and lovely Hilda admirably personates the Conscience, and sustains, throughout, the purity and loftiness of so elevated a character. Sympathizing and kind, tender and true, though dignified and somewhat reserved, she dwells apart, in the sunrmit of a lofty tower, above the dust and miasma of the city; and though she comes down, and walks the filthy streets of Rome, her white robe is unsoiled, and she returns at night to feed her companions, the white doves, (pure thoughts and desires), and to keep the flame burning on the altar of Prayer. The others often refer to her as having a finer perception of the beautiful and true, than themselves; and though they sometimes complain that her standard of virtue is too high for them to reach, and her judgment upon their opinions and

conduct too severe, yet they are never satisfied that theirs is correct, unless it coincides with hers.

Miriam and Hilda are both artists, for our nature was formed to enjoy and to produce the beautiful, although Hilda does not now originate pictures, as in her native home, but copies from the old masters; that is, the Conscience refers us to the eternal standards of Right and Wrong. Associated with these high-souled friends, we find a gay and thoughtless youth, so simple-minded and careless that they regard him as a mere child in understanding, yet his graceful beauty and mirthfulness, and especially his affectionate and winning manners, afford them so much pleasure that they admit him to constant companionship. This is Donatello, who represents the Animal Nature. Kenyon woos Hilda with an admiration bordering upon reverence, and Donatello passionately loves Miriam, though neither finds his affection at first fully reciprocated; Miriam indeed often regards the childishness of Donatello with contempt. But after Hilda has sprained her delicate wrist, she grasps the strong hand of Kenyon; and when Miriam finds herself cast off by Hilda, and regarded with suspicion by Kenyon, she clings tenaciously to the tenderness yet remaining for her in the heart of Donatello. That is, when the Conscience has been weakened by intercourse with guilt, it is glad to lean somewhat upon the understanding; and after the Soul has become debased by crime, she loses much of her dignity and delicacy, and is even willing to confess, in the most humiliating manner, her subjection to the Body, and dependence upon it for happiness. "I lost all pride," says Miriam, "when Hilda cast me off."

Before his contact with guilt, Donatello is in a state of perfect, though childlike, enjoyment. He is in sympathy with the animal creation; understands the language of beasts and birds, and they come at his call. Whether he has really pointed and furry ears, being himself only an improved animal, we are left in doubt even at the end of the story.

That inysterious verse in the third chapter of Genesis: "And the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now lest he put forth his hand

and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever;" appears to have started in the mind of our author the question, "Whether sin has not been the means of bringing a simple and imperfect nature to a point of feeling and intelligence, which it could have reached in no other way?" This idea he introduces again and again; but he evidently sees the great objections to which it is liable, for he represents Kenyon (the Reason) as replying to Miriam, when she asks this question: "I dare not follow you into the unfathomable abyss, whither you are tending. Mortal man has no right to tread where you now set your feet." And again, when Kenyon asks Hilda, "Is sin then, like sorrow, merely an element of human education, through which we struggle to a higher and purer state than we could otherwise have attained?"-the Conscience answers: "Do you not perceive what a mockery such a creed makes not only of all religious sentiments, 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!"

In the very outset of the story, our party of four together visit the Catacombs. Prompted by a vain curiosity, the illfated Miriam wanders from her companions, and is for a moment lost in that labyrinth of tombs. In those sepulchral caverns she meets with a hideous mendicant monk, wandering there for penance, who now emerges with her into the light of day. He appears acquainted with her early history, alludes to crimes committed in the past with which they are both in some way connected, and declares that now he has found her, he will never again lose sight of her. He keeps his word, following her, from that day forward, like her very shadow, and darkening with his repulsive aspect every path she treads. Sometimes he stands suddenly before her, in the midst of the gayest dance; again, she sees his dark features reflected from over her shoulder, in a moonlit fountain. Often he waits for her, at nightfall, in the obscurity of some ruined arch, and follows her stealthily home in the dusk of twilight. Though he is not always near her, being absent sometimes for days together, yet she is ever liable to his intrusion, and cannot by any entreaties

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »