Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

moved by some unique thought, dream, for them—with feet planted firmly in or emotion. To this poetical concep- the solid earth, go on in a straight line, tion he dedicates his own work, and wrestling with present practical realifor this dedication we should at least ties, and content with to-day's experihave a degree of modest respect. And ence and gain—the artist, an instruyet an ignorant, inartistic public, ment whose chords must vibrate with enamored of sweet sounds without the the ebb and tide, the air and sunshine, slightest comprehension, apparently, of the common joy and sorrow, that the their especial significance, seizes a solo- weary world may be consoled, inspired, meant only for a solo, a love-song, per- liberated, lives ever with the unseen haps, a personal regret, hope, or reverie hope in a twofold existence, working -cuts it into four parts, and unites it from within outward. And that within to the words of some especial church -ah! who can fathom it! To-night I creed, or some drinking-chorus, without am too bitter and restless for sleep. I any consideration whatever for the bleed on the thorns of life! You have author's own intention. In an equally prided yourself on your strong will and barbarous manner concerted music is good sense, Herman Ehrthal ! Will diluted into solos. Symphonic move- you now forfeit all claim to those adments, too subtle for any language of mirable qualities ? the sense, are arranged by the G. F. May 20th.—This evening I heard Roots of the community for some ec- Herr play for the first time. What clesiastic organization, Romanistic or poetic comprehension ! what living fire! Puritan; duos and quartos, expressing I felt it a blessed privilege to listen to rage, jealousy, love, despair, are select- him, and I told him so; for I am always ed from the different operas, and sung proud and glad to acknowledge the to-day in the churches everywhere. And true in art er I find it. I am yet our noblest composers have left us a not easily satisfied, to be sure, and often wealth of true church-music, whose very grumble when others applaud. Mrs. inspiration was born of some grand Grundy calls this grumbling the ebullireligious idea or devotional sentiment. tion of jealousy; and people are afraid With such music attainable, the church often to speak their real thought for choirs substitute Verdi's operas in its fear of her tongue. What a near-sightstead, and the public not only tolerates, ed creature this same female is! How but approves. Verily, they have not little she comprehends that the true yet learnt here the A B C of the true artist loves his art infinitely better than mission of music. There is no rever- himself, and that, far from feeling a ence, no real comprehension; and the petty, ignoble jealousy, he glories in her pretended connoisseurship would be true advance and success.-A letter ludicrous, if it were not so sickening from mother to-day. That, and -'s and so saddening. Ah, my beloved noble playing, make me happy to-night. Art! God be my witness, I have been May 30th.–Four weeks have gone true to thee. I am weak to sue for by, four weeks of drudgery; but Duty thee, but it will be glory enough if I is an ennobling master. The Spring is may stand guard over thee, to shield really here in her fulness. I feel, shut thy pure robe from any profaning in by these stifling walls, like a fish touch. This evening I worked at com- thrown out on dry sand, hearing in the position, but heart and brain were too distance the sound of rushing streams. restless. Sometimes I wish I had been Since sunrise I have been singing, from born a plodding, practical man, any out of my brick-and-mortar imprisonthing that would spare me these quiver- ment, Handel's divine song from Riing pulses, these hopes and despairs, naldo, these heights and depths. Ah, the Lascia ch'io pianga, la dura Sorle artist-life! what a mystery! While the

O che sospiri la Liberta ?" maiter-of-fact men and God be thanked This evening, on my return home, I

[ocr errors]

" O Erd! O Sonne!

found a note from Mrs. Irving, inviting broken! Ah, this evening she was mine me to join Dr. A- on a little visit to in a peculiar sympathy. The handher country-home. It seemed an an- some young officer may have sweet swer to the song, and “la Liberta," privileges that are denied to me, but I clothed in a radiant robe, beckoned to have a power to move and thrill her me from the fields beyond. I went which is my especial secret and possesdirectly to see the Doctor, and prom- sion. ised to join him. So I shall see her June 4th.-Ye gods! what enchanting face again, and hear her voice! It may weather! O ineffable, immortal Spring! be rash; but I feel a moth's madness All day Goethe's delicious “ Frühlingsfor the light, and, to bathe myself in lied ” has been singing itself in my the alluring fire, am willing to accept brain. the moth's destiny. June 31.-Here you are, my Journal,

O Glück! O Lust!under the roof of a luxurious house! This afternoon we had a sailing-party. How do you like the change of posi- Miss Estelle sat apart from me, but she tion? How glorious to be again in the kept me always in the circle of the concountry! Through the crystalline clear- versation, and drew me out of my habitness of the fragrant air the eye catches ual reserve into discussion and descripfree sweeps of sky and earth, and the tion. She sang, too, on the water, the soul expands in the noble space. The song I asked for; but the Colonel was young Colonel is here on a visit. But at her side, and took eager care of her. this evening I had Miss Estelle quite Once, in wrapping her shawl about her, to myself. Mrs. I. proposed a whist- he touched her hair-only a touch, but party; the company repaired to the it maddened me. For a short moment I adjoining room, and I was left alone wanted to get down under the waterwith my young hostess. She sang our anywhere, anywhere, where his happisongs with an enchanting abandon, and ness would be neither visible nor audigave me again a new revelation of them. ble. Thanks to a muscular pride, howI, too, was musical, nerve and soul, and ever, I wore a most serene exterior. In played many things at the bidding the early twilight this evening, while of my charming companion. Then,

Then, the others still lingered on the piazza, through the avenues of subtilized sense, Miss Estelle decoyed me into the parlor, the gift of creation stole in entrancingly and, pointing to the piano, said, “In upon me. Beyond the open windows I this hour, of all others, I enjoy music; caught glimpses of amethyst skies and don't refuse me.” I gladly obeyed the moonlit paths, that seemed to lead back gracious bidding of my young hostess, into the mysterious horizon-land. The for my fingers craved the white keys passionate souls of the night-flowers which alone could liberate my imprisonbreathed themselves out upon the air in ed spirit. So, while the sunset-light a ravishing, languishing fragrance, that played triumphantly with early shadows entered my blood like a burning charm. through the room, I seated myself at Compassionate angels whispered heav- the piano, and many were the conenly promises into my ear; celestial fidences I gave my beloved instrument

I visions visited me, and took form under which no mortal ear might hear. When my fingers. I know not how long I I began to play, I noticed that Miss played, but I awoke from the intoxi- Estelle seated herself in the alcove of a cating dream to find my companion window near. Afterward, as I raised sitting near the window, with that rapt my eyes, I saw that another had joined expression of face and attitude peculiar her; but even with the glance came a only to him or her to whom music is fierce resolve. “He shall not hold her," supreme. I had hardly risen from my it said. Undoubtedly superb eyes, mel. seat, when the company entered from low tones, graceful gestures, and a bulthe adjoining room, and the spell was let-laden arm make an impressive tout

[ocr errors]

a

ensemble ; but I, who have none of these, sudden impulse she drew my hand from do yet possess a power that he knows the keys, and said, in quick, faint acnothing of, and through it I will draw cents, “I beg you to stop; you are her from his side to mine, like a magnet. restless and bitter. Your music makes And now my theme suddenly changed. me so unhappy. I cannot bear it." Through a network of harmonies, rav- That touch! soft as the fall of dew; a ishingly sweet, startlingly questioning, helpless, appealing touch; but it thrillI modulated into a wordless song, every ed to the quick. I turned from the note of which, as it dropped from my piano. "Since you will not permit me fingers, carried a drop of life-blood with to continue," I said, “and the cry is it. I knew that no sound was lost to still for music, you must sing. But you her exquisite sensitiveness, and that she must play your own accompaniments was throbbing under the mysterious in- this time, and make no mistakes. I am fluence. Another moment, and she rose, in a critical mood.” An instant since,

a took a seat somewhat nearer, and drop- and she was soft and imploring; now ped her head in her hand. The song she was gay and defiant. With a mockflowed on, but now it took another forming reply, she seated herself at the

- became wild, almost defiant, yet al- piano, while I crawled into the recess ways imploring. Closer and closer she of a window near. After singing one came, leaving with every step her hand- or two ballads, she modulated into the some admirer further behind her-she key of A bemol, and

sung

that divinest the bird, I the serpent, and a very devil of love-songs, that very epitome of all under the serpent-skin. If I were doom- heart-inspiration, Schumann's

“ Wided to be her slave, I would not lose my mung." At first the music awoke in me freedom for nothing. I kept my eyes only a keen desolation ; but it was the on the keys now, and did not know she misgiving of a renewed faith. On the was so near, till a faint perfume of violet wings of her heavenly tones I soared (for she always has violet about her- into an atmosphere whose very breath oh! the subtle, bewildering power of was spiritual intoxication. All pangs, odor-association !) first announced her all doubts, all despairs, were now but closer presence. This perfume, which is mocking shams, and the divine ideal so a part of her, sent to my pulses a became a fact to my innermost convicmingled thrill of bliss and anguish. For tion. Ah, can woman love as she sang an instant I was dizzy, but the instant she could ? With the last impassioned over, I felt a keener force than before. phrase, “ Mein besseres ich !” I crept Yes, I had triumphed, had drawn her through the window into the still garto my side, and, knowing I had the den, for I was in no mood now for compower to move her, I gloried in exercis- monplaces. The night was radiant. ing it. The wild, mystic spirit of the The moonlight filled the air with an Teutonic legends entered into me; now ethereal lustre; the faint murmur of the lambent flames leapt and played among water-an endless minor-note-came up the notes; now I was whirling on in through the deep quiet, and the flowers the bewildering revelry of the dizzy sent perfumed words on swift wings to waltz—my arm about her, bearing her every heart that could translate the on with me in the dreamy maze. She language. I wandered to a summerwas mine—mine now-so near that her house near the bank, and seated myself hair stirred with my breath, and I need within. I do not know how long I only whisper to be heard. But suddenly remained there, for I had been lost in she melted from my arms, and, with a thought; but suddenly I heard the mocking laugh, vanished. Then I be- sound of voices.

It died away,

then came mad, despairing; and yet-and grew clearer as the speakers drew near. yet, I knew it was all but a dream, for Suddenly they turned the curve by the I saw her step nearer, and heard the summer-house, and stood a moment at rustle of her dress at my side. With a the door, though the low hanging

man,

branches almost screened them from should we despise this phase of her life view. Then a voice, whose deep tones in its expression through Tone? This were unmistakable, said, “No, no, Es- afternoon, as I was sitting under the telle; you are not to blame-you have vine-shade of the southern piazza, readknown me long and loved me as a ing, Miss Estelle and a young friend of brother, and I was a fool to expect any hers, a neighbor, seated themselves at a thing else; but," and here he paused, window near. I could see them, but then added, impetuously, You must the luxuriant vine hid me from view. I answer me one question : Do you love continued reading dreamily to the inanother? Tell me—you must." She distinct murmur of their voices, when did not reply at first, and the silence suddenly I caught my name uttered by stung him. “You shall not leave here," her lips. Was it weakness that I stophe added, passionately, “ until you an- ped to listen?

" His first name is Herswer me this." Then she said, quickly, He is full of genius, but he will “Robert, you have no right to say never be popular; he is too highminded shall’to me. Let go my hand; you and modest.” “ Modest ?" said the hurt me.

We ought to go in; it is other voice. “Why, there is a hauteur getting damp, and I am chilly.” “Yes,” in his look and manner that makes me he replied, in scornful accents, “I see afraid of him; and then, what a veiled you are trembling. My suspicions were fire there is in his eye! I know he has right, then; you have become enamored a bad temper.” Miss Estelle laughed. of the pale-faced Dutchman. You, with “ Now, I find his eyes very beautiful, your name and position, would give and the proud carriage of his head I yourself to a poor musician-a foreign- particularly admire. He is not hander, for aught you know an adventurer- some, however-something better--no2—" But something in her look stop- ble-looking.” Here I rose; I had been ped him, and she replied, “ Mr. Ehrthal eaves-dropper long enough. I came up is a noble man, and a gentleman, and to my room directly, and studied myworthy of the true love of any true self in the mirror. I was in excellent woman. At present he is our guest, and spirits, and contemplated myself more any disrespect to him is incivility to favorably than ever before. I have me.” Her voice was low, but it cut the found some favor in her eyes, then ! air with its clear tones. She moved on; “Not handsome—something betterhe followed with an eager movement, noble-looking.” Pleasant words to sleep and said something, but I did not catch the words. I was startled by what I June 6th.-Another day to record ; had heard. I came quietly up to my

but not too quick, oh, my eager pen ! room, but not to sleep, for thought and After an early tea this afternoon, Miss feeling were never more awake.

Estelle and I went for a sunset-walk; June 5th. - The Colonel left this morn- but when we reached the water, we ing. Mrs. I. gave a lunch to-day to a were tempted to have a sail instead. In few invited neighbors, and I had my a moment we were off-shore. A soft part to perform towards the entertain- breeze caught the sail, and carried us ment of her guests. I suited myself to tranquilly on as if bound for the radiant my audience, and gave them light but horizon perspective beyond. Miss Esgood music. And after all, what is the telle leaned over the side of boat, meaning of this sanctimonious horror of and drew her hand through the water. light music among the so-called recher- “I wish I could catch that light," she ché connoisseurs ? Do we despise the said. “Why can't we ever have any sparkle of wit and humor ?—the exu- thing we want?” I laughed somewhat berant good-nature of animal life? Some scornfully. “Why need you want any merely frisky music is delightful. There thing? A spoiled child, that has been is an affluence of joy in mere existence. fed on luxuries, never knew for an inNature herself is full of sport, and why stant the pangs of poverty, loneliness,

on.

distrust, temptation. And yet you sigh Again I gazed into the distant sky, and that the very sunbeams should evade mocked at the wild hope of a moment your grasp!” “ The spoiled child is before. Even as I looked, Nature was weary of being pampered and never rapidly changing her aspect. A little truly fed. Do you think she is never cloud that hovered in the east as we hungry for deeper satisfactions ?” “Yes, left had now swollen to a full size, and deeper satisfactions !” I said ; " to be led a train of hurrying companions mistress of a palace all her own; to across the zenith. A cold, suspicious look abroad on fair lands, and say, wind crept suddenly over the water, * These are mine. In short, to wed a with a noiseless, treacherous step, and millionaire, and be borne abroad in the chilled like the touch of a sly foe—a finest establishment' in the country. guerilla wind, that seemed at times to A happy life, indeed! all success to hide itself that it might at last, all the her.” She turned upon me a flashing better, take you unawares. A weird glance. “So you think that my highest gloom stole on. The lines of the suraspiration? Well, you have an ambi- rounding shores faded gradually away, tion quite as unworthy. ' Under your and out from the lonely deep of the far modest demeanor you conceal a pro- horizon a single patch of pale, amber found sense of your own superiority. A light, cast a melancholy glimmer over millionaire feels no greater vanity in his the gray water. The clouds now gathpalace, than you in the very unpopular- ered thicker and darker, and under ity of your position.” I had stung her, their cover the guerilla wind finally and she turned on me. She was like a aimed its blow, lashed the sail heavily, young leopardess aroused now, and I and threw the water against the boat liked to study her under the spotted with an angry motion that growled low skin. I made no reply, but, assuming as it spent itself. I took in the sail an air of alarming recklessness, pulled partly, and held fast; then turned to my cap over my brow in bandit style, my companion: “Well, this is sudden; set my “fiery” eyes into a significant are you much startled ?"

Oh, no, stare, and informed her coolly that I indeed !” was the reply ; “ there is had brought her on the water for the something splendid in the commotion ; express purpose of drowning her. “You only I hope it won't rain, for just think see, I have the rudder," I added, " and of my new dress!” Sad, indeed,” I you are at my mercy. I am very strong, said ; " but accept the possibility of and it is such a delight to exercise something even more tragic-a hurripower.” She caught my defiant mood, cane, torn sail, broken boat, and the and, affecting a little mien of mock pathetic finale of two bodies drifted bravery, declared herself a match for ashore in the morning light as the any enemy. She looked, now,

tide went down.'” She laughed. “How thing made out of fire, so sparkling, so touching! Who would be worthy to wilful! And yet I knew how depend write the epitaph ?" The wind calmed ent she was upon me. I glanced from itself suddenly now, but the air was the spirited face to the tender form, the still penetrating, and I noticed that my soft hands; then at my own athletic companion drew her mantle about her arms, and laughed. Then I gazed into with an eager movement. I slipped off the distant horizon, and wished that my coat and threw it to her. She would ny haven might ever be there, so I had not accept it. I had drawn in the sail, her quite to myself. Heavens! as I and had fastened it well, intending to turned, I caught her eyes fixed upon scud to shore. My hands were free now, me with an intensity that sent my blood

and I resolved to have my own way. I in fiery pulses through my veins. A put my coat about her. As I did so, I mad longing interpreted the look to felt that the “new dress," alas! had suit its own need, but there was no met with the dreaded fate; it was quite time for hope to become certainty. drenched. A longing pity seized me,

like a

[ocr errors]
« IndietroContinua »