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ter, for instance, he is plainly inquir- of The Scarlet Letter, throwing its ing into the law of repentance, or the lurid glare upon the Puritan pharisahuman being's sober second thought ism and self-righteous pride, and enupon his own action, after it has be- graved with spiritual fire on the naked come an irrevocable fact of nature; breast of the unsuspected sinner. and he also asks what is the part that If the musty chronicles of New Engthe social whole has to do, or does do, land history could afford an artist mato make this sober second thought terial for such a sharp-cut high-relief work the cure of the sinning soul and of real life as excited him to a study of wounded society. In one of the of its meaning so earnest that it has Twice-told Tales (Endicott and his drawn into sympathetic interest tens of men) he brings before our eyes, by thousands of readers, who feel as if the magic of his art, a day of the Puri- they were living in the midst of that tan life of New England which was his- terribly bleak locality and day, we cantorical ; for the dry chronicles tell us not wonder that Rome, whose very of Endicott's cutting the Red Cross out aspect is so picturesque, and whose of the English banner on a “training history combines such varieties of huday," when the news suddenly reached man experience, should have awakened him from England of some untoward emotions and suggested questions of act of Charles I. As usual, Hawthorne a kindred depth. Many such quesgives a framework to this historical tions are certainly asked and answered, incident from the characteristic phe- at least hypothetically, in The Marble nomena of Puritan life as it appeared Faun. It is rather remarkable that at that period in New England. “Train- criticism has not yet attempted to aning-day” was always the afternoon of alyze the power of this book, or even " lecture-day," when all the people were to pluck out the heart of Miriam's required to assemble for a sermon, mystery, — the key to which, as we and the militia were in their uniforms. apprehend, is to be found in the conIt was on this day that all the wrong- versation over tie copy of Beatrice doers were punished. Among these Cenci's portrait in Hilda's studio. he mentions a woman standing on the It is entirely characteristic of Haw“ meeting-house " steps, with the letter thorne's genius to take up such a subA on her breast, which, he adds, sheject as the history of Beatrice Cenci, was condemned to wear all her life be- and to inquire what was her internal fore her children and the townspeople. experience; how a temperament so For our fathers, he observes (we quote delicate and a spirit so innocent as from memory), thought it expedient to Guido's portrait shows Beatrice's to give publicity to crime as its proper have been stood before herself, whether punishment. And then he queries as a victim or as a participator in the whether the modern mode of keeping bloody deed for which she suffered certain kinds of crime out of sight death. Still more would he be apt to were better, or even more merciful, to inquire what would be the spiritual the criminal and society. A friend result of the same outrage upon quite asked Hawthorne if for this particular another temperament and cast of mind, punishment he had documentary evi- - Miriam's, for instance. And again dence; and he replied that he had it was inevitable, as we have already actually seen it mentioned in the town intimated, that Rome should have sugrecords of Boston, but with no attend gested to his mind questions upon the ant circumstances. This friend said to efficacy or inefficacy of ritualistic conanother at that time, “ We shall hear of fession and penance on the various dethat letter A again; for it evidently has grees of criminal consciousness. Hilda made a profound impression on Haw, says of Beatrice Cenci, that “sorrow thorne's mind.” And in eight or ten so black as hers oppresses very nearly years afterwards appeared the romance as sin would,” for she was innocent in her own eyes until her misfortune had These traits insured to her their warm driven her into parricide; which, trust friendship and confidence, though her ing to the fidelity of Guido's portrait history was no less unknown and mysteof her remembered face, and comparing rious to them than to the public, who had that with the portrait of the stepmother, speculated on it so wildly. They theremay be believed to have been not the fore acquiesced in the generally received suggestion of her own mind, though opinion, that “ the spectre of the cata“ that spotless flower of Paradise comb” was her model; nor ever asked trailed over by a serpent,” as Beatrice why it was that he followed her so has been well described, was too much pertinaciously. Any relation between bewildered by the incomprehensible Miriam and him other than the most woe in which she found herself in- superficial and accidental one was efvolved, and her will was too much par- fectually forbidden by their sense of alyzed to do other than obey the impulse her character, which also annulled in given by the only less outraged wife. the mind of Kenyon the strange signifiThe same calamity met by the clearer cance of the “Spectre's” own words :reason and stronger character of Miri
“Inquire not what I am, nor wherefore am would not only suggest means of
I abide in the darkness,' said he, in a hoarse, escape, especially if she had, as is in- harsh voice, as if a great deal of damp were timated, wealth, and other easily imag- clustering in his throat. Henceforth I am ined favoring circumstances, but would nothing but a shadow behind her footsteps. give energy to accomplish a certain mor- She came to me when I sought her not. al independence of her most unnatural She has called me forth, and must abide enemy, and would excite her intellect the consequences of my reappearance in and creative imagination, rather than the world.” “oppress her whole being." It would But the reflective reader, not being, seem from the sketches which Donatello like Kenyon, under the spell of Miriam's found in Miriam's portfolio, that her individuality, will hardly fail of detecthideous circumstances had not failed to ing the relations between her and the arouse thoughts of murderous revenge so-called model, if he will compare this which had governed her artistic creative- not unmeaning speech with the converness in the selection and treatment of sation in Hilda's study, to which we subjects, but that she had not thought have already referred, when that inexof any more harmful realization of the perienced child pronounced the parridark dreams that haunted her than cide an "inexpiable crime”: upon canvas. Until the fatal “look” passed from her eyes, which tempted
“O Hilda! your innocence is like a Donatello to give free way to the im- sharp steel sword,' exclaimed her friend. pulse of hatred, with which his love for though you scem all made up of gentleness
'Your judgments are often terribly severe, her had inspired him, towards one who and mercy. Beatrice's sin may not have been was evidently her enemy, — and no so great; perhaps it was no sin at all, but common enemy, — the author plainly the best virtue possible in the circumstances. accounts her not only actually innocent, If she viewed it as a sin, it may have been but a most humane person, and, like because her nature was too feeble for the fate Beatrice, " if a fallen angel, yet without imposed upon her. Ah,' continued Miriam, sin.” Thus he speaks of her “natural passionately, “if I could only get within her language, her generosity, kindliness, consciousness ! --- if I could only clasp Beaand native truth of character,” as ban
trice Cenci's ghost, and draw it into myishing all suspicions, and even ques; whether she thought herself innocent, or the
self! I would give up my life to know tions, from the minds of Hilda and
one great criminal since time began.' As Kenyon, to both of whom he ascribes Miriam gave utterance to these words, the fine poetic instincts that intimate Hilda looked from the picture into her face, more truths concerning character than and was startled to observe that her friend's we can account for by phenomena. expression had become almost exactly that
of the portrait, as if her passionate wish with her distressing knowledge, and and struggle to penetrate poor Beatrice's adds : mystery had been successful. “O, for
“This singular appeal bore striking testiHeaven's sake, Miriam, do not look so !’she cried. • What an actress you are ! and I uprightness and impulsive generosity had
mony to the impression Miriam's natural never guessed it before. Ah! now you are
made on the friend who knew her best.” yourself again,' she added, kissing her. * Leave Beatrice to me in future.'
He also makes Miriam's answer jus“«Cover up your magical picture then,' tify Hilda's instinctive confidence: replied her friend, 'else I never can look “If I deemed it for your peace of mind,' away from it.'"
she said, “to bear testimony against me for And again, further on in the same this deed, in the face of all the world, no chapter:
consideration of myself should weigh with
me an instant. But I believe that you “ Hilda read the direction; it was to
would find no relief in such a course. What Signor Luca Barboni, at the Cenci Palace, third piano.
men call justice lies chiefly in outward for“ * I will deliver it with my own hand,'
malities, and has never the close applica.
tion and fitness that would be satisfactory said she, “precisely four months from to
to a soul like yours. I cannot be fairly day, unless you bid me to the contrary.
tried and judged before an earthly tribunal ; Perhaps I shall meet the ghost of Beatrice
and of this, Hilda, you would perhaps bein that grim old palace of her forefathers.' “In that case,' rejoined Miriam, 'do not
come fatally conscious when it was too fail to speak to her, and win her confidence.
late. "Roman justice, above all things, is a
byword.'” Poor thing ! she would be all the better for pouring her heart out freely, and would
It is certain that Hilda's narration of be glad to do it if she were sure of sympathy. the scene of the murder had “settled It irks my brain and heart to think of her a doubt" in Miriam's mind. She took all shut up within herself.' She withdrew it, gladly perhaps, as collateral evidence the cloth that Hilda had drawn over the that Donatello had not been mistaken picture, and took another long look at it.
when he said she had commanded his Poor sister Beatrice! for she was still a
action with her eyes; for then she had woman, Hilda, — still a sister, be her sins what they might."
all the responsibility of it. But how was
it, then, that she was not crushed by And still further on in the same chap- remorse, seemed to feel no remorse? ter she says :
Was it not that she felt herself “in the “* After all, if a woman had painted the circumstances” that made the crime original picture, there might have been “her best possible virtue"? The "sorsomething in it we miss now. I have a great row that was so black as to oppress (Beamind to undertake a copy myself, and try to trice) very much as sin would” (which give it what it lacks." "
was the limit of Hilda's view of her And again, having in a touching man- case) did actually, in Miriam's case, not ner alluded to Hilda's devout habits of only excite to artistic expression, but mind, she says : —
drove her further; and she was not “When you pray next, dear friend, re
“ too feeble for her fate," as she proved member me."
in the Chapel of the Cappucini, when These significant sentences may be
“She went back, and gazed once more at compared with others in Chapter XXIII. the corpse. Yes, these were the features when Miriam, after the catastrophe of
that Miriam had known so weil ; this was the Tarpeian rock, seeks Hilda ; who,
the visage that she remembered from a far with the unconscious pharisaism of a
longer date than the most intimate of her child's innocence, repulses her because held the evil spirit which blasted her sweet
friends suspected; this form of clay had she knows her to have consented to a youth, and compelled her, as it were, to stain murder. Here the author makes Hilda her womanhood with crime. .... There had appeal to Miriam for advice in her own been nothing in his lifetime viler than this uncertainty as to what she should do
man; there was no other fact within her
consciousness that she felt to be so certain ; recation? Only in Rome does natuand yet, because her persecutor found him- ral innocence and virtue kneel in self safe and irrefutable in death, he frowned helplessness before personified vice, upon his victim, and threw back the blame on her. “Is it thou indeed ?' she murmured, armed with the name and prestige of a
clad in the sacramental garments, and under her breath. • Then thou hast no
Father! right to scowl upon me so! But art thou
And did not the genius of humanity real or a vision?" “ SI bent down over the dead monk till
hover over its priest when he gave that one of her rich curls brushed against his master-stroke to his picture, - making forehead. She touched one of his folded Miriam a symbol of Italy, beautiful in hands with her finger. “It is he,' said Mir. form, with the natural language of all iam, there is the scar which I know so well nobleness ; true to herself with all the on his brow. And it is no vision, he is pal- unspent energies of her youth; and, in pable to my touch. I will question the fact spite of outrage ineffable, reduced by no longer, but deal with it as I best can. It
the stress of her natural relationship was wonderful to see how the crisis developed in Miriam its own proper strength she has a right to demand, but mere
to beg as a mercy, not the protection and the faculty of sustaining the demand which it made on her fortitude. She ceased immunity from its extreme opposite? to tremble; the beautiful woman gazed Italy! outraged so beyond credibility sternly at her dead enemy, endeavoring to
that no one dares to tell the tale, lest meet and quell the look of accusation that humanity should be too much discourhe threw from between his half-closed eye- aged by the knowledge of the hideous lids. “No, thou shalt not scowl me down,' moral disabilities her misfortunes insaid she, “neither now, nor when we stand volve; leaving her no path to purity together at the judgment-seat. I fear not and peace but through violence and to meet thee there! Farewell till that next
civil war, which are apparently her encounter.'”
“best possible virtue in the circumSurely there is but one interpreta- stances,” or certainly not to be action that can be put upon the power this counted as sin. vile wretch had over the noble Miriam, An æstbetic critic must needs shrink more than once bringing her to her from the work of elucidating the dark knees :
shadow which seems to be Miriam's “ She must have had cause to dread some
evil fate; for the author himself seems unspeakable evil from this strange persecu.
to endeavor to hide its secret, as Hilda tor, and to know that this was the very cri- says Beatrice seemed to try " to escape sis of her calamity; for, as he drew near, from (her) gaze.” There is a delicate such a cold, sick despair crept over her, moral sentiment in the author, which that it impeded her natural promptitude of shirinks from giving definite outlines thought. Miriam scemed dreamily to re
and name to a crime that is an unnatumember falling on her knces; but in her
ral horror. He says in Chapter XI.:whole recollection of that wild moment, she beheld herself in a dim show, and could "Of so much we are sure, that there not well distinguish what was done and suf- seemed to be a sadly mysterious fascination fered ; no, not even whether she were real- in the influence of this ill-omened person Jy an actor and sufierer in the scene.” over Miriam; it was such as beasts and
reptiles of subtle did evil nature sometimes But Hilda had settled all doubts by exercise upon their victims. Marvellous it her narration :
was to see the hopelessness with which, be"Ile approached you, Miriam ; you ing naturally of so courageous a spirit, she knelt to him.'”
resigned herself to the thraldom in which
he held her. That iron chain, of which The hardly testead, nolle Miriam !
some of the massive links were round her Was there ever pictured a more tragic feminine waist and the others in his ruthmoment of human life than that brief less hand, or which perhaps bound the one ia which she knelt on the verge pair together by a bond equally torturing of the Tarpcian rock in spiritless dep- to cach, must have been forged in some guiltless.
such unhallowed furnace as is only kindled sideration of her words in her last conby evil passions and fed by evil deeds. versation with Kenyon, when she tells “Yet let us trust there may have been
him her history and name. no crime in Miriam, but only one of those fatalities which are among the most insolu
" • You shudder at me, I perceive,' said ble riddles propounded to mortal compre
Miriam, suddenly interrupting her narrahension; the fatal decree by which wery
tive. crime is made to be the agony of many inno
"No, you were innocent,' replied the cent persons, as well as of the single guilty
sculptor. 'I shudder at the fatality that one.”
seems to haunt your footsteps, and throws a
shadow of crime about your path, you being Again, when in pity for her tormentor, she suggests prayer and penance:- “There was such a fatality,' said Mir“In this man's memory there was some
iam ; 'yes, the shadow fell upon me innothing that made it awful for him to think of cent, but I went astray in it, as Hilda prayer, nor would any torture be more could tell you, - into crime.'” intolerable than to be reminded of such
What crime it was that first threw divine comfort and success as await pious
the shadow the author does not tell. souls merely for the asking. This torment was perhaps the token of a native tempera
It was unspeakable; and yet it is “an ment deeply susceptible of religious im- open secret” to his readers, after all pressions, but which he had wronged, vio
the indications that he has given. It lated, and debased, until at length it was took place “some time after” she had capable only of terror from the sources that repudiated the proposed marriage with were intended for our purest and loftiest consolation. He looked so fearfully at her, and with such intense pain struggling in his
“So evil, so treacherous, so wild, and yet eyes, that Miriam felt pity. And now all
so strangely subtle, as could only be ac
counted for by the insanity which often at once it struck her that he might be mad. It was an idea that had never before seri
develops itself in old close-kept races of
men." ously occurred to her mind, although, as soon as suggested, it fitted marvellously into Yet it is plain that this intended husmany circumstances that lay within her band was not “the spectre of the cataknowledge. But alas ! such was her evil
comb," any more than that Miriam was fortune, that, whether mad or no, his pow- an accomplice in the crime of which er over her remained the same, and was
she was suspected. When she refers likely to be used only the more tyrannously
to this suspicion in her narrative :-if exercised by a lunatic." This chapter of “fragmentary sen
“ But you know that I am innocent,' she
cried, interrupting herself again, and looktences” has suggested to some readers
ing Kenyon in the face. the idea that a mutual, or at least a
"'I know it by my deepest consciousshared crime, was “the iron link that
ness,' he answered, and I know it by Hilbound” these two persons together. da's trust and entire affection, which you But a careful reading will find no proof never could have won had you been capaof this in any word of the author or ble of guilt.' of Miriam ; and the “unmitigable will ” * * That is sure ground, indeed, for prowhich she tells him he mistook for an nouncing me innocent,' said Miriam, with “iron necessity” is quite sufficient to
the tears gushing into her eyes. “Yet I explain the identification which the pos
have since become a horror to your saintsible madman insists on at that time,
like Hilda by a crime which she herself and intimates afterwards, by beckoning
saw me help to perpetrate.' her to wash her hands in the Fountain The fatal word which Miriam SO of Trevi when he did so himself. dreaded was unquestionably that which
To all those who ask if the author would prove that she had not "commeant to represent Miriam, previous to mitted suicide,” and so expose her, the fatal night on the Tarpeian rock, as like Beatrice Cenci, to an ignominious guilty of any crime, we commend a con- death, notwithstanding her innocence.