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prevail upon him to leave her entirely. So haunted is she by his disagreeable features, that they creep, imperceptibly to her, even into her best pictures, and injure the effect, so that not only is her life embittered by his persecution, but her prospect of excelling in her art seems blighted. Wandering in darkness, the soul has encountered the demon of Temptation, who, for some unexplained reason hidden in the past, some political crime of her ancestors, it is suggested, (the allusion is evidently to the sin of Adam), claims the right to pursue her.
We are taught that sin came at first through the animal nature, (Eve ate an apple), and the inducements to many of its forms are still presented through the bodily appetites. They are always more or less excited by temptation, but the soul can restrain them, and does, when she remains true to her high trust. So we see Donatello exasperated whenever the monk appears; but Miriam continually. soothes and quiets him, and prevents any violent outbreak of passion. At last, however, when both are irritated to the utmost degree by his persistent intrusion, Donatello, with an animal rage, holds the hated man over the brink of the precipice, at the Tarpeian rock, and looks to Miriam for permission to throw him off.
They are alone-without the restraining presence of either Hilda or Kenyon. In her excitement, Miriam forgets to restrain herself, or exercise her usual control over him who turns to her for guidance. By a look of sympathy and encouragement, she consents, and the dreadful deed of murder is done, which, afterwards, they would give worlds to undo.
The soul, by its silent acquiescence, must consent, or there can be no transgression of moral law. Temptation has done its work; the deadly sin has been committed; we next behold its consequences. For a moment, Miriam and Donatello exulted in that brief sense of freedom which violators of law always at first enjoy; but this is quickly followed by an unutterable horror in view of their crime, which gives place only to a life-long remorse. This remorse is, for a time, alleviated by a sense of companionship in sin. The author has here shown the subtlest analysis of thought and feeling. Is not the consideration that we are not alone in sin, the first and only relief that comes to the mind aroused to a sense of guilt? We
mean, of course, aside from any hope of pardon. We say immediately: "we are not alone! there are others as guilty as ourselves." But this very thought soon turns to a new instrument of torture. There is companionship, indeed,—but what terrible companionship! To use the words of Hawthorne: "A crowded thoroughfare, and jostling throng of criminals. It is a terrible thought that an individual wrong-doing melts into the great mass of human crime, and makes us who dreamed only of our own little separate sin-makes us guilty of the whole. And thus Miriam and her lover were not an insulated pair, but members of an innumerable confraternity of guilty ones, all shuddering at each other."
The next day they meet Kenyon, by appointment, at the church of the Capuchins, before Guido's picture of the Archangel Michael setting his foot upon the Tempter, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the face of the demon does not resemble that of Miriam's tormentor. Here they find themselves confronted by the evidence of their guilt in the corpse of the murdered monk, laid out in the garb of a Capuchin friar, with his cross and rosary, and candles burning around him. In the scene which follows, our author has not only faithfully delineated the courage and endurance which the soul develops in emergencies, but has shown his nice observation of its most hidden workings.
Though appalled at the awful spectacle, Miriam leads the shuddering Donatello close to the side of the dead monk, saying: "The only way in such cases, is to stare the ugly horror right in the face. Never a sidelong glance, nor a half-look, for those are what show a frightful thing in its frightfulest aspect. Lean on me, dearest friend; my heart is strong for both of us." More than this, she goes back alone, and confronts the severe, reproachful glances that come from the half closed eyes of the murdered man; yes, even touches the cold hands of the corpse, to assure herself that the likeness to her former enemy is not an illusion.
Thus the soul cannot, if it would, ignore its guilt. Painful as is the theme, the thoughts are perpetually recurring to it; so that after vaguely hoping for a while that it is some dread
ful dream that haunts us, some illusion that will presently vanish, we generally conclude, either in case of any overwhelming sorrow or oppressive sense of sin, that it is wisest to contemplate it steadily, till we have calmly decided just how much is real, and how much imaginary, and then brace ourselves to bear the worst.
Miriam and Donatello supposed themselves to be alone when he threw the monk over the precipice, (but the conscience is ever watchful over the soul, and especially in its hour of trial), and Hilda had noticed the monk gliding stealthily after Miriam, and returned to seek her friend. Through the half-opened gate of the court-yard she witnessed the deed of blood; then hurried away, with that deathly sickness of heart which the innocent suffer when they discover guilt in those whom they have loved and trusted, to stretch her hands towards heaven, and tell her disappointment only to her God.
The next interview between these friends, the meeting of the Soul and Conscience after sin, is beautifully delineated, and shows how innocence suffers from the mere knowledge of sin in others, and much more from direct contact with guilt. Up to this time they had delighted in each other's society. Miriam had said, "Nothing insures me such delightful and innocent dreams, as a talk late at night with Hilda." Now she fears, while she longs to meet that "white-robed friend," whose kind approval can give the soul a purer joy than the applause of all the world beside. But with truly noble courage she stills her beating heart, and climbs the long stairway of Hilda's tower.
With what a grieved severity Hilda motions her away, and warns her that their intimacy is now at an end! With what accuracy she explains to her the nature and extent of her guilt, replying to her inquiry, "What have I done?" "Ah, Miriam, that look!" "Donatello paused," she says, recounting the events of the night, "while one might draw a breath, but that look, ah, Miriam, that look!"
"It is enough!" replied the now convicted Miriam, bowing her head like a condemned criminal; "you have satisfied my mind on a point where it was greatly disturbed. Henceforward I shall be quiet. Thank you, Hilda."
The Soul, enlightened by Conscience, sees when, where, and just how far she has offended.
It is a well-known fact, that the capacity of pure and innocent physical enjoyment is paralyzed, often destroyed, by vice.
Here notice how completely our poor Donatello is changed. Before, he was the merriest creature in the world, and thought if Miriam could but deign to receive his love, he should be transcendently happy. But now, stupefied with horror at the crime he had committed, he has become incapable of pleasure, and though Miriam (the Soul) is so far degraded as to seek comfort and diversion from him, he can in no way console her. Benumbed and cold, he lies down in hopeless despair, while Miriam vainly strives to rouse him from his stupor, by lavishing upon him every expression of endearment. At last, finding that her presence must augment his grief, by constantly reminding him of his crime, she constrains herself to bid him a sad farewell.
Before sin, we saw him amid the gardens of Rome, reveling in the enjoyment of nature. But now he retires to his lonely castle, and confines himself in apartments formerly used as a prison, spending his days and nights in penance and remorse; that is, in weariness and pain. He no longer drinks the refreshing and fragrant wine of sunshine, for his hope and gladness, or animal spirits, are all gone. Feeling himself unworthy to enjoy the elevated society of his former friends, he exiles himself entirely from them.
"But why," the reader may ask, "are Miriam and Donatello, while so truly attached, so long separated? Can Soul and Body part, before the final division by death?" Certainly not; though they may be, to a certain extent, oblivious of each other. But we find that they were not widely separated. Miriam had followed Donatello to his retirement, though she does not intrude herself upon him, but occupies the stately and long unused apartments of the castle, while he remains secluded in his prison tower. Her presence is indicated to him, however, by the winning melody of her evening song, by which she wooes his return to her; an invitation which he longs, yet fears to accept.
We think Hawthorne here introduces the figure which Bunyan has elaborated in his allegory of the "Holy War," in the town of Mansoul. The nobler faculties of man are a constant reproof to any animal excess, and remind the fallen one of his debasement, so that any lapse into vice must necessarily interrupt all sweet communion between the inferior nature and the higher powers of the soul. When a man has yielded to his base passions he shrinks from reflection, nor does he wish to hold converse with his reason or his conscience.
But Kenyon visits Donatello and draws him forth to a better life. After much patient instruction, and many endeavors, he is enabled, under the blessing of heaven, to bring about a reunion between those who had been partially alienated, but who could not but be miserable in estrangement. They are united; but it is "for mutual support, for one another's final good, for effort, for sacrifice, but not for earthly happiness." To sinful man happiness is no longer a legitimate aim; those who seek it, chase a phantom which ever eludes their grasp. It comes, if it comes at all, as a "wayside flower, springing along a path that leads to higher ends."
Meanwhile, Hilda is left alone in Rome, and we are now shown the effect of sin upon the conscience. The loss of confidence in her friend has robbed her life of its joy; her guide and support, the Reason, is also absent. The pestilential air affects her with a dreamy languor; a torpor creeps over her spirit. She wanders gloomily through the vast galleries of art, in which she had formerly delighted, feeling that her keen insight into the spirit of the old masters is dimmed, and her enjoyment of their works wholly gone. She even questions whether they were ever so true and beautiful as she once supposed; for sin sometimes leads us to doubt whether there be any real goodness in the world. At last she throws off some portion of the burden that oppresses her spirits, by confessing her knowledge of the murder to the church. Remembering that Miriam had entrusted to her care a packet of important papers, she goes at the appointed time to deliver it to the authorities of Rome. She then mysteriously disappears, having been detained by the ministers of justice, until at the return