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half manfully, he at last said a farewell, and hurried away. But it was not at once that he tore himself from his home. He was many days out on the ocean in a kind of dreamy insensibility before his heart came back to him. It lingered around his home long after he himself had gone. The mind was filling itself with recollections which were to sadly burden his life. It seems sometimes hard that man cannot be gifted with forgetfuluess—that he cannot cast from him all the meinories which often so strangely embitter existence. Themistocles once prayed that he might forget!
It was summer when Rialti left his home; and when another summer came round, he was in a small studio at Rome, under the instruction of Diodati Pisano. He had been to the great schools of European art, the Louvre and the Vatican; he had stopped in Venice, and Bologne, and Florence; he had long revelled in the grand and the beautiful, the wild and the terrible; and he had now buried himself in a little shabby dwelling, near the pillar of Trajan, to learn more perfectly how to embody the emotions he had felt, and present them to men.
There were few incidents in this long wandering of Rialti. Indeed, the life-time of genius is hardly to be divided up into the chronology of mere outward events. Its workings are almost entirely within-always silent, unseen; so that events and years fly past as matters of slight worth. The coming of a new thought is the only great circumstance-the only notable era of a life; and it is an event in the life of the artist, as truly as the founding of a realm or the fighting of a battle in the history of the statesman and the warrior. In the still realms of the inward being must be felt the experiences and aspirations, the glees and glooms of the intellectual man. The din of crowds, the hurry of business, the strifes of societies and nations, have but little to do with the solitudes of genius. The hurried footfalls of time can wake no echoes in the shadow-land of beautycan reach no creation of the inspired soul. All distance is destroyed, all time is forgotten in the rapt moments of intense feeling. Youth creeps into age-buoyant hope into decrepid helplessness. Genius cannot get old. It ever lives in its childhood more than in its age.
Gradually did the young artist become more and more disconnected from the things about him, as he became more deeply immersed in his art. He could not thrust back all the memories of his early home at once. For a time letters came full of sprightliness and glad hopes. He said he was making fast progress in his art, and would ere long return again. But at length his letters became less frequent, and then were wholly filled with matters of his calling. They were all interesting in themselves, but people wondered when he wrote so rarely, and sent so far, that he did not ask oftener about his home and his friends. One time he gave a long account of the best works of his master. It was done with a pupil's partiality, and perhaps with a novice's fondness. But it contained many points of fine criticism, many touches of high artistic judgment. At the close he spoke of art generally, its elements and its forms.
“The more paintings I see,” he wrote, “the better I fancy am I familiarized with the souls of men, with the spirit of beauty and truth everywhere around me. I look upon each work of art as but the peculiar expression of what each artist conceives to be true and beautiful in kind and degree. The different forms of art seem to be only differently written lan
guages, by which poetical genius would speak to men. The conceptions are alike before written, or chiselled, or painted; and the manner of execution alone makes them appear unlike. Looking through the symbol, we enter into the same spirit realm. We find beauty and truth ever sitting the enthroned goddesses there. And all paintings, and statues, and poems are but shadows drawn out of the ideal land, and imperfectly reflected to us on canvass, and marble, and paper. All creations of art seem to be the spirit of beauty and truth in varied masquerade—sometimes in garbs simple and meek, sometimes gorgeous and bold-at one time in form and mien stern and majestic, at another, lovely and divine. This spirit exists above art, and is that from which all art springs. It is of necessity an element of our being, and had its birth at the creation of being. At the earliest dawnings of humanity it was present to mould and to tinge. Nor first did it reveal itself through the forms of inatter. There was music before the winds sighed through the canes on the banks of the Nile; there was painting before the Corinthian maid traced the shadow of her lover upon the wall; there was poetry before the Hebrew prophet sung. The world had not waited two thousand years before it listened to the sadness or rapture of the human voice, before it stamped images of loveliness upon its memory-before it felt the mysteries and sublimities of its being. Music, and painting, and poetry, all had an existence when the heart first spoke from its instant life.”
A few weeks after his letters ceased altogether. No one could guess the reason. He might be ill; he might have forgotten his home for a brief space in his enthusiasm for his art; but he could not be inconstant to his early attachments.
Rialti had been laboring two long months by daylight and by candle-light in copying a work of his master's. It was the sublimest conception that ever came from the soul of Pisano. 'It represented the ascension of Elijah. The Prophet was in the cloud, pityingly and encouragingly gazing from the flaming chariot down upon his desolate-hearted brother. His heavenly mantle was falling through the air. And Elisha stood on the earth there, speechless with wonder and sorrow—his arm out-reached, and a tear falling from his eye!
“ Heavens !" said Rialti, as he copied the tear, “could I only paint a sigh! Ha! the tear is wet—is warm-is falling! It is the only thing I have ever painted. But the sigh–I would give my left arm if I'could paint a sigh.”
The young artist stopped; and out of the narrow side-room stepped Pisano.' He overheard his pupil, and came to see the tear. It was a scene for a painter to have taken. There stood the great easel with its stagings. The young
artist had come down to the floor to look at his work. And Pisano stood breathless by, his manly features covered with the wildest joy; and then the tears fell! He stepped to Rialti and grasped his hand.
“ Thou hast painted the tear,” he said, “ far better than thy master ;” and his judgment was the best through all Rome. I can instruct you no more. Henceforth Pisano shall be pupil.” And he shook his hand long and heartily-looked at the face of the Prophet again, and said the work should be called Rialti's, and his own painting should not live. It was a great moment-an epoch in the life of both. The master was scarcely prouder of the pupil, than was the pupil of the master.
Bnt as Pisano went to his little room, he turned to speak of the sigh. “ You can never put on canvass half you feel. There is something like a sigh in those parted lips, in that steadfast eye. I fear too much. There can be but one scene shadowed on the canvass, and that must not be the last. Something must be left to the imagination, or the work is cold and dead. A feeble artist of Athens painted Medea killing her children. No one would look at it. Timomachus painted her meditating the act, and all Greece came nigh running mad. It was thought to be almost the work of a God."
From that moment Rialti copied no longer. He was now known as an artist over Rome, and he toiled as though to live was but to paint. Many have said, that as they passed the studio of Pisano late at night, and, too, before the dawning of the day, there was always a dim light flickering out at the small window over the entrance. Rialti was constantly at his labor there. His master used to chide him, and tell him he would not live to finish a work—that he was but a man—that his strength was fast wasting away—that he would be the destroyer of himself! But the young artist felt strong and well enough. It is ever bard to reason with youthful enthusiasm; and Pisano now found it so.
“ Art," said Rialti, “is my life. The easel is my bride- Ah! why did that word linger on his lips ? Why did he pause, and set himself down sadly, and remain speechless a whole hour ? It was time his home and his other bride should be remembered again. He had Joog forgotten them both! The whole world had been in that studio, and he had known no other. As he gazed upon the ring which he had so long unconsciously worn, a thousand recollections of childhood came fresh back to him. The last fears of his loved one had for once become true. He was far away in a foreign land, and the name which he had so long worshipped had well nigh died out of him.
But genius never remains long inactive. The day after, Rialti had a conception ready for the canvass—and the world rolled back as a dead and foreign thing again. He was alone there with his vision, and it was a wild and fearful one! The great Earth is supposed to be swimming slowly in space-mantled with dark rolling clouds, with the lightning sometimes gliding out of them. The Spirit of Death is abroad, and has claimed the world, with its streams, and its fields and hills, and godlike man, too, to be his. He is about to set his throne on the Earth. But the Spirit of Life comes, and declares all things to be her's—that life is everything, even in death and dust—that Death itself must soon be dead, and known no more. The out. line represented the point of Time, when the sylph-like Life-spirit was asserting its power—when the hideous Death-spirit stood back agbast and convinced. It was a proud conception, and well it might chain the artist to his easel. “I will paint it,” shouted Rialti, “and it will last a life-time to gaze upon. The name of Rialti shall yet stand by the side of Angelo." It was the enthusiast that spoke, not the artist. He little thought what a labor he had sketched out. It was the work of years, not of days.
Rialti created a solitude there, in the midst of populous Rome. People came and went, but he was a hermit and alone. He heard no voices, he knew no persons. He saw nothing but his canvass, and all things else faded away as shadows.
The shadow he would realize was the only living reality. But sometimes the artist would stop his work, as the ring on his finger caught his eye. He would often make a long pause, and stand motionless, gazing on vacancy : then he would grow light-hearted, and toil on again. But he found the associations, which clustered round this remembrancer of his plighted faith, were making deep inroads upon his art. He knew that
genius never acts in its full might, except when it acts with single purpose. The ring must be forgotten! “Thou art an evil spirit,” he said, " and wouldst hinder my work, and distract my brain.” So he took it off and laid it by. He thought himself free now and unfettered—but no, he was the greater slave! He was led on with the more recklessness in the chase of his visions. There was no tie to bind him to man-no voice to call him back from his ideal abstractions. He had almost disconnected himself from the earth. Alas! for the memories that were buried in that ring!
Day after day, Rialti painted on the Conflict of the Spirits. Pisano used often to leave his drawings and come out from his little room to see the progress. It was a painting which an artist only could feel the full power of. Pisano would stand there until his eyes filled with tears, and he could see no longer. Well might it affect him. It was a great, a mighty triumph of art; and his pupil was fast growing pale and thin-and the old artist feared he could not live to complete the vision. He had given up chiding
Rialti's ears had grown deaf, even to the voice of Pisano. A few weeks after, the Life-spirit was done. But that was all. There were a few pencillings besides, but they were only the rough outline; yet all Rome had thronged the studio. The name of Rialti was indeed beginning to be coupled with that of Angelo. Artists came to study his clouds and his drapery. And many there were, who drew cheer from the work of Rialti; and many, too, who threw down the brush in despair.
But the artist scarce knew aught of what was thought or said about him at Rome.
When he left his painting, it was only to go into a back-room and rest a little. But his sleep was often more tiresome than his work, for he would talk all the while. His mind ever lingered on his art. Once Pisano heard him muttering wildly and fast, and went to his bed. Rialti was describing the Fall of Lucifer through the clouds and fire into the fathomless abyss. It was a vast and terrible conception. Pisano bent over him and eagerly caught his words ; but when Rialti waked, feared to repeat them, for he knew that his pupil had then more on his hands than his life could do. He was daily wasting away, and those who came to witness his work would often be hurried by their sympathies into tears.
At midnight, in the middle of his fourth summer in Rome, Rialti fell from his staging. Nature had borne up long under its toils, and the inward fire could sustain it no longer. He fell, utterly helpless and senseless! The next morning Pisano found him there in the most alarming of fevers. And when he recovered his reason, for a moment, late on the next day, he asked for his paints and his pallet. “I am losing time," he said; “I must go on with my works."
“But no!" said Pisano sadly, “ it may not be! You cannot stand-you cannot see well-your hand trembles—your brain is yet hot and wild. The nobleman Lavani with his leech has been here, and they say you must keep from your art, and shut out all care for a month, or your body will never get strong, nor your brain well again.”
All at once Rialti felt the truth, and said he would renounce his brush for a week. Alis! it was not for a week, but forever! He laid it down never to take it up again!
A raging delirium came, and then a deep lethargy followed. It was many weeks before the artist became conscious of anything about him. The Count Lavani, who had conceived a noble friendship for one whose genius promised so largely, had carried him to his dwelling; and the leech watched over him night and day. And when, by constant care, he at last came to himself, he said he could scarcely see. And the next day, when the sun was shining brightly and cheeringly into his chamber, he asked La
vani, who stood sorrowful by, how long it might be before day. He said he wanted to see the gay sunlight again, and feel the warm air of the morning.
“Alas !” said the nobleman, “it is noon; and the sun has been up and playing about you for a half day.”
“Ah !" groaned Rialti, and his countenance sickened into despair, “then I am blind! I cannot see the sun—I cannot see you! Let me feel your hand."
And when he grasped it, he strained his sightless orbs long and painfully to see if he could catch aught of Lavani’s form. But no! he was blind! And oh! the agony of the thought ! beauty was to be shut out from his eyes forever; but not from his soul ! It was to be felt there as before; it was to torture and sadden his life ever after. He could never get it out of him, but it must stay pent up there forever. He could never reveal it to another. He had learned only the language of colors, and he knew no other way of imparting his holiest thoughts to men.
When he found he must forget his art, he was in a manner cut loose from Rome. Far away over the wide ocean his thoughts wandered, until he was in his home once more. A thousand bitter remembrances came thronging around him. His distant friends, his village, his early affection, all had been as though they were not. It was not to be so again. He was to forget them never more!
The entrance of Pisano awoke him from his reverie. His old master for the first time learned that his pupil was blind. He stood motionless and pale, and at length vented his grief in tears! His was a noble and generous heart. He felt the blindness of Rialti more keenly than if it had been
“ The world has lost an artist," said Pisano, “and I a teacher. You have indeed taught me more than my own masters. The Conflict of the Spirits will never be finished ! Who shall put hands to it now ?” And master and pupil wept together!
“ Bring me some paper,” said Rialti sorrowfully, “I would write.” Pic sano reached the paper, and would have written for him, but knew the offer would only wound the anguish of his pupil. The letter was to Laura Methender, the fondly loved image of his youthful heart. It was in a rough, straggling hand, as though it were traced in the dark.
“I had long loved the canvass more than you,” he wrote, “and heaven has at length rebuked me. Your image had grown a rare visiter, but now it is ever by me. I had wedded art, but it is now dead to me! It is buried from my sight ever-more! Buried ? No! it is worse ! The ideal visions still live within me, and will make my life a pang! I can never express myself—I can never paint again ! Laura, I am blind! Henceforth think me dead. I give you back your heart. Give it to a worthier, and be happy. Let me fade from your memory—let me be forgotten. Your loveliness shall not be wasted on one who cannot see ! Ah! I am blind-I cannot see-never more- -never !!!
There were a few tracings more, but no one could read them. It was signed Rialti; and beneath the name were the stains of tears !
Laura Methender was standing by the grave of her last parent! Her father had been buried for many years, and the tall rank grass was waving over him ; and her mother was now laid by his side, and ihe sand was falling upon her coftin. An epidemic had swept through the village, and had