It is not necessary to follow Colleoni's fortunes in the Regno, at Aquila, Ancona, and Bologna. He continued in the service of Caldora, who was now General of the Church, and had his Condotta gradually increased. Meanwhile his cousins, the murderers of his father, began to dread his rising power, and determined, if possible, to ruin him. He was not a man to be easily assassinated; so they sent a hired ruffian to Caldora's camp to say that Bartolommeo had taken his name by fraud, and that he was himself the real son of Puho Colleoni. Bartolommeo defied the liar to a duel; and this would have taken place before the army, had not two witnesses appeared, who knew the fathers of both Colleoni and the bravo, and who gave such evidence that the captains of the army were enabled to ascertain the truth. The impostor was stripped and drummed out of the camp.
At the conclusion of a peace between the Pope and the Bolognese, Bartolommeo found himself without occupation. He now offered himself to the Venetians, and began to fight again under the great Carmagnola against Filippo Visconti. His engagement allowed him forty men, which, after the judicial murder of Carmagnola at Venice in 1432, were increased to eighty. Erasmo da Narni, better known as Gattamelata, was now his general-in-chief—a man who had risen from the lowest fortunes to one of the most splendid military positions in Italy. Colleoni spent the next years of his life, until 1443, in Lombardy, manoeuvring against Il Piccinino, and gradually rising in the Venetian service, until his Condotta reached the number of 800 men. Upon Gattamelata's death at Padua in 1440, Colleoni became the most important of the generals who had fought with Caldora in the March. The lordships of Romano in the Bergamasque and of Covo and Antegnate in the Cremonese had been assigned to him; and he was in a position to make independent engagements with princes. What distinguished him as a general, was a combination of caution with audacity. He united the brilliant system of his master Braccio with the more prudent tactics of the Sforzeschi; and thus, though he often surprised his foes by daring stratagems and vigorous assaults, he rarely met with any serious check. He was a captain who could be relied upon for boldly seizing an advantage, no less than for using a success with discretion. Moreover he had acquired an almost unique reputation for honesty in dealing with his masters, and for justice combined with humane indulgence to his men. His company was popular, and he could always bring capital troops into the field.
In the year 1443 Colleoni quitted the Venetian service on account of a quarrel with Gherardo Dandolo, the Provoditore of the Republic. He now took a commission from Filippo Maria Visconti, who received him at Milan with great honour, bestowed on him the Castello Adorno at Pavia, and sent him into the March of Ancona upon a military expedition. Of all Italian tyrants this Visconti was the most difficult to serve. Constitutionally timid, surrounded with a crowd of spies and base informers, shrinking from the sight of men in the recesses of his palace, and controlling the complicated affairs of his Duchy by means of correspondents and intelligencers, this last scion of the Milanese despots lived like a spider in an inscrutable network of suspicion and intrigue. His policy was one of endless plot and counterplot. He trusted no man; his servants were paid to act as spies on one another; his bodyguard consisted of mutually hostile mercenaries; his captains in the field were watched and thwarted by commissioners appointed to check them at the point of successful ambition or magnificent victory. The historian has a hard task when he tries to fathom the Visconti's schemes, or to understand his motives. Half the Duke's time seems to have been spent in unravelling the webs that he had woven, in undoing his own work, and weakening the hands of his chosen ministers. Conscious that his power was artificial, that the least breath might blow him back into the nothingness from which he had arisen on the wrecks of his father's tyranny, he dreaded the personal eminence of his generals above all things. His chief object was to establish a system of checks, by means of which no one whom he employed should at any moment be great enough to threaten him. The most formidable of these military adventurers, Francesco Sforza, had been secured by marriage with Bianca Maria Visconti, his master's only daughter, in 1441; but the Duke did not even trust his son-in-law. The last six years of his life were spent in scheming to deprive Sforza of his lordships; and the war in the March, on which he employed Colleoni, had the object of ruining the principality acquired by this daring captain from Pope Eugenius IV. in 1443.
Colleoni was by no means deficient in those foxlike qualities which were necessary to save the lion from the toils spread for him by Italian intriguers. He had already shown that he knew how to push his own interests, by changing sides and taking service with the highest bidder, as occasion prompted. Nor, though his character for probity and loyalty stood exceptionally high among the men of his profession, was he the slave to any questionable claims of honour or of duty. In that age of confused politics and extinguished patriotism, there was not indeed much scope for scrupulous honesty. But Filippo Maria Visconti proved more than a match for him in craft. While Colleoni was engaged in pacifying the revolted population of Bologna, the Duke yielded to the suggestion of his parasites at Milan, who whispered that the general was becoming dangerously powerful. He recalled him, and threw him without trial into the dungeons of the Forni at Monza. Here Colleoni remained a prisoner more than a year, until the Duke's death in 1447, when he made his escape, and profited by the disturbance of the Duchy to reacquire his lordships in the Bergamasque territory. The true motive for his imprisonment remains still buried in obscure conjecture. Probably it was not even known to the Visconti, who acted on this, as on so many other occasions, by a mere spasm of suspicious jealousy, for which he could have given no account.
From the year 1447 to the year 1455, it is difficult to follow Colleoni's movements, or to trace his policy. First, we find him employed by the Milanese Republic, during its brief space of independence; then he is engaged by the Venetians, with a commission for 1500 horse; next, he is in the service of Francesco Sforza; once more in that of the Venetians, and yet again in that of the Duke of Milan. His biographer relates with pride that, during this period, he was three times successful against French troops in Piedmont and Lombardy. It appears that he made short engagements, and changed his paymasters according to convenience. But all this time he rose in personal importance, acquired fresh lordships in the Bergamasque, and accumulated wealth. He reached the highest point of his prosperity in 1455, when the Republic of S. Mark elected him General-in-Chief of their armies, with the fullest powers, and with a stipend of 100,000 florins. For nearly twenty-one years, until the day of his death, in 1475, Colleoni held this honourable and lucrative office. In his will he charged the Signory of Venice that they should never again commit into the hands of a single captain such unlimited control over their military resources. It was indeed no slight tribute to Colleoni's reputation for integrity, that the jealous Republic, which had signified its sense of Carmagnola's untrustworthiness by capital punishment, should have left him so long in the undisturbed disposal of their army. The Standard and the Baton of S. Mark were conveyed to Colleoni by two ambassadors, and presented to him at Brescia on June 24, 1455. Three years later he made a triumphal entry into Venice, and received the same ensigns of military authority from the hands of the new Doge, Pasquale Malipiero. On this occasion his staff consisted of some two hundred officers, splendidly armed, and followed by a train of serving-men. Noblemen from Bergamo, Brescia, and other cities of the Venetian territory, swelled the cortege. When they embarked on the lagoons, they found the water covered with boats and gondolas, bearing the population of Venice in gala attire, to greet the illustrious guest with instruments of music. Three great galleys of the Republic, called Bucentaurs, issued from the crowd of smaller craft. On the first was the Doge in his state robes, attended by the government in office, or the Signoria of S. Mark. On the second were members of the Senate and minor magistrates. The third carried the ambassadors of foreign powers. Colleoni was received into the first state-galley, and placed by the side of the Doge. The oarsmen soon cleared the space between the land and Venice, passed the small canals, and swept majestically up the Canalozzo among the plaudits of the crowds assembled on both sides to cheer their General. Thus they reached the piazzetta, where Colleoni alighted between the two great pillars, and, conducted by the Doge in person, walked to the Church of S. Mark. Here, after Mass had been said, and a sermon had been preached, kneeling before the high altar he received the truncheon from the Doge's hands. The words of his commission ran as follows:—
'By authority and decree of this most excellent City of Venice, of us the Prince, and of the Senate, you are to be Commander and Captain General of all our forces and armaments on terra firma. Take from our hands this truncheon, with good augury and fortune, as sign and warrant of your power. Be it your care and effort, with dignity and splendour to maintain and to defend the Majesty, the Loyalty, and the Principles of this Empire. Neither provoking, not yet provoked, unless at our command, shall you break into open warfare with our enemies. Free jurisdiction and lordship over each one of our soldiers, except in cases of treason, we hereby commit to you.'
After the ceremony of his reception, Colleoni was conducted with no less pomp to his lodgings, and the next ten days were spent in festivities of all sorts.
The commandership-in-chief of the Venetian forces was perhaps the highest military post in Italy. It placed Colleoni on the pinnacle of his profession, and made his camp the favourite school of young soldiers. Among his pupils or lieutenants we read of Ercole d'Este, the future Duke of Ferrara; Alessandro Sforza, lord of Pesaro; Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat; Cicco and Pino Ordelaffi, princes of Forli; Astorre Manfredi, the lord of Faenza; three Counts of Mirandola; two princes of Carpi; Deifobo, the Count of Anguillara; Giovanni Antonio Caldora, lord of Jesi in the March; and many others of less name. Honours came thick upon him. When one of the many ineffectual leagues against the infidel was formed in 1468, during the pontificate of Paul II., he was named Captain-General for the Crusade. Pius II. designed him for the leader of the expedition he had planned against the impious and savage despot, Sigismondo Malatesta. King Rene of Anjou, by special patent, authorised him to bear his name and arms, and made him a member of his family. The Duke of Burgundy, by a similar heraldic fiction, conferred upon him his name and armorial bearings. This will explain why Colleoni is often styled 'di Andegavia e Borgogna.' In the case of Rene, the honour was but a barren show. But the patent of Charles the Bold had more significance. In 1473 he entertained the project of employing the great Italian General against his Swiss foes; nor does it seem reasonable to reject a statement made by Colleoni's biographer, to the effect that a secret compact had been drawn up between him and the Duke of Burgundy, for the conquest and partition of the Duchy of Milan. The Venetians, in whose service Colleoni still remained, when they became aware of this project, met it with peaceful but irresistible opposition.
Colleoni had been engaged continually since his earliest boyhood in the trade of war. It was not therefore possible that he should have gained a great degree of literary culture. Yet the fashion of the times made it necessary that a man in his position should seek the society of scholars. Accordingly his court and camp were crowded with students, in whose wordy disputations he is said to have delighted. It will be remembered that his contemporaries, Alfonso the Magnanimous, Francesco Sforza, Federigo of Urbino, and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, piqued themselves at least as much upon their patronage of letters, as upon their prowess in the field.
Colleoni's court, like that of Urbino, was a model of good manners. As became a soldier, he was temperate in food and moderate in slumber. It was recorded of him that he had never sat more than one hour at meat in his own house, and that he never overslept the sunrise. After dinner he would converse with his friends, using commonly his native dialect of Bergamo, and entertaining the company now with stories of adventure, and now with pithy sayings. In another essential point he resembled his illustrious contemporary, the Duke of Urbino; for he was sincerely pious in an age which, however it preserved the decencies of ceremonial religion, was profoundly corrupt at heart. His principal lordships in the Bergamasque territory owed to his munificence their fairest churches and charitable institutions. At Martinengo, for example, he rebuilt and re-endowed two monasteries, the one dedicated to S. Chiara, the other to S. Francis. In Bergamo itself he founded an establishment named' La Pieta,' for the good purpose of dowering and marrying poor girls. This house he endowed with a yearly income of 3000 ducats. The Sulphur baths of Trescorio, at some distance from the city, were improved and opened to poor patients by a hospital which he provided. At Rumano he raised a church to S. Peter, and erected buildings of public utility, which on his death he bequeathed to the society of the Misericordia in that town. All the places of his jurisdiction owed to him such benefits as good water, new walls, and irrigation works. In addition to these munificent foundations must be mentioned the Basella, or Monastery of Dominican friars, which he established not far from Bergamo, upon the river Serio, in memory of his beloved daughter Medea. Last, not least, was the Chapel of S. John the Baptist, attached to the Church of S. Maria Maggiore, which he endowed with fitting maintenance for two priests and deacons.
The one defect acknowledged by his biographer was his partiality for women. Early in life he married Tisbe, of the noble house of the Brescian Martinenghi, who bore him one daughter, Caterina, wedded to Gasparre Martinengo. Two illegitimate daughters, Ursina and Isotta, were recognised and treated by him as legitimate. The first he gave in marriage to Gherardo Martinengo, and the second to Jacopo of the same family. Two other natural children, Doratina and Ricardona, were mentioned in his will: he left them four thousand ducats a piece for dowry. Medea, the child of his old age (for she was born to him when he was sixty), died before her father, and was buried, as we have seen, in the Chapel of Basella.
Throughout his life he was distinguished for great physical strength and agility. When he first joined the troop of Braccio, he could race, with his corselet on, against the swiftest runner of the army; and when he was stripped, few horses could beat him in speed. Far on into old age he was in the habit of taking long walks every morning for the sake of exercise, and delighted in feats of arms and jousting matches. 'He was tall, straight, and full of flesh, well proportioned, and excellently made in all his limbs. His complexion inclined somewhat to brown, but was coloured with sanguine and lively carnation. His eyes were black; in look and sharpness of light, they were vivid, piercing, and terrible. The outlines of his nose and all his countenance expressed a certain manly nobleness, combined with goodness and prudence.' Such is the portrait drawn of Colleoni by his biographer; and it well accords with the famous bronze statue of the general at Venice.
Colleoni lived with a magnificence that suited his rank. His favourite place of abode was Malpaga, a castle built by him at the distance of about an hour's drive from Bergamo. The place is worth a visit, though its courts and gates and galleries have now been turned into a monster farm, and the southern rooms, where Colleoni entertained his guests, are given over to the silkworms. Half a dozen families, employed upon a vast estate of the Martinengo family, occupy the still substantial house and stables. The moat is planted with mulberry-trees; the upper rooms are used as granaries for golden maize; cows, pigs, and horses litter in the spacious yard. Yet the walls of the inner court and of the ancient state rooms are brilliant with frescoes, executed by some good Venetian hand, which represent the chief events of Colleoni's life—his battles, his reception by the Signory of Venice, his tournaments and hawking parties, and the great series of entertainments with which he welcomed Christiern of Denmark. This king had made his pilgrimage to Rome and was returning westward, when the fame of Colleoni and his princely state at Malpaga induced him to turn aside and spend some days as the general's guest. In order to do him honour, Colleoni left his castle at the king's disposal and established himself with all his staff and servants in a camp at some distance from Malpaga. The camp was duly furnished with tents and trenches, stockades, artillery, and all the other furniture of war. On the king's approach, Colleoni issued with trumpets blowing and banners flying to greet his guest, gratifying him thus with a spectacle of the pomp and circumstance of war as carried on in Italy. The visit was further enlivened by sham fights, feats of arms, and trials of strength. When it ended, Colleoni presented the king with one of his own suits of armour, and gave to each of his servants a complete livery of red and white, his colours. Among the frescoes at Malpaga none are more interesting, and none, thanks to the silkworms rather than to any other cause, are fortunately in a better state of preservation, than those which represent this episode in the history of the Castle.
Colleoni died in the year 1475, at the age of seventy-five. Since he left no male representative, he constituted the Republic of S. Mark his heir-in-chief, after properly providing for his daughters and his numerous foundations. The Venetians received under this testament a sum of 100,000 ducats, together with all arrears of pay due to him, and 10,000 ducats owed him by the Duke of Ferrara. It set forth the testator's intention that this money should be employed in defence of the Christian faith against the Turk. One condition was attached to the bequest. The legatees were to erect a statue to Colleoni on the Piazza of S. Mark. This, however, involved some difficulty; for the proud Republic had never accorded a similar honour, nor did they choose to encumber their splendid square with a monument. They evaded the condition by assigning the Campo in front of the Scuola di S. Marco, where also stands the Church of S. Zanipolo, to the purpose. Here accordingly the finest bronze equestrian statue in Italy, if we except the Marcus Aurelius of the Capitol, was reared upon its marble pedestal by Andrea Verocchio and Alessandro Leopardi.
Colleoni's liberal expenditure of wealth found its reward in the immortality conferred by art. While the names of Braccio, his master in the art of war, and of Piccinino, his great adversary, are familiar to few but professed students, no one who has visited either Bergamo or Venice can fail to have learned something about the founder of the Chapel of S. John and the original of Leopardi's bronze. The annals of sculpture assign to Verocchio, of Florence, the principal share in this statue: but Verocchio died before it was cast; and even granting that he designed the model, its execution must be attributed to his collaborator, the Venetian Leopardi. For my own part, I am loth to admit that the chief credit of this masterpiece belongs to a man whose undisputed work at Florence shows but little of its living spirit and splendour of suggested motion. That the Tuscan science of Verocchio secured conscientious modelling for man and horse may be assumed; but I am fain to believe that the concentrated fire which animates them both is due in no small measure to the handling of his northern fellow-craftsman.
While immersed in the dreary records of crimes, treasons, cruelties, and base ambitions, which constitute the bulk of fifteenth-century Italian history, it is refreshing to meet with a character so frank and manly, so simply pious and comparatively free from stain, as Colleoni. The only general of his day who can bear comparison with him for purity of public life and decency in conduct, was Federigo di Montefeltro. Even here, the comparison redounds to Colleoni's credit; for he, unlike the Duke of Urbino, rose to eminence by his own exertion in a profession fraught with peril to men of ambition and energy. Federigo started with a principality sufficient to satisfy his just desires for power. Nothing but his own sense of right and prudence restrained Colleoni upon the path which brought Francesco Sforza to a duchy by dishonourable dealings, and Carmagnola to the scaffold by questionable practice against his masters.
* * * * *
CREMA AND THE CRUCIFIX
Few people visit Crema. It is a little country town of Lombardy, between Cremona and Treviglio, with no historic memories but very misty ones belonging to the days of the Visconti dynasty. On every side around the city walls stretch smiling vineyards and rich meadows, where the elms are married to the mulberry-trees by long festoons of foliage hiding purple grapes, where the sunflowers droop their heavy golden heads among tall stems of millet and gigantic maize, and here and there a rice-crop ripens in the marshy loam. In vintage time the carts, drawn by their white oxen, come creaking townward in the evening, laden with blue bunches. Down the long straight roads, between rows of poplars, they creep on; and on the shafts beneath the pyramid of fruit lie contadini stained with lees of wine. Far off across that 'waveless sea' of Lombardy, which has been the battlefield of countless generations, rise the dim grey Alps, or else pearled domes of thunder-clouds in gleaming masses over some tall solitary tower. Such backgrounds, full of peace, suggestive of almost infinite distance, and dignified with colours of incomparable depth and breadth, the Venetian painters loved. No landscape in Europe is more wonderful than this—thrice wonderful in the vastness of its arching heavens, in the stillness of its level plain, and in the bulwark of huge crested mountains, reared afar like bastions against the northern sky. The little town is all alive in this September weather. At every corner of the street, under rustling abeles and thick-foliaged planes, at the doors of palaces and in the yards of inns, men, naked from the thighs downward, are treading the red must into vats and tuns; while their mild-eyed oxen lie beneath them in the road, peaceably chewing the cud between one journey to the vineyard and another. It must not be imagined that the scene of Alma Tadema's 'Roman Vintage,' or what we fondly picture to our fancy of the Athenian Lenaea, is repeated in the streets of Crema. This modern treading of the wine-press is a very prosaic affair. The town reeks with a sour smell of old casks and crushed grape-skins, and the men and women at work bear no resemblance whatever to Bacchus and his crew. Yet even as it is, the Lombard vintage, beneath floods of sunlight and a pure blue sky, is beautiful; and he who would fain make acquaintance with Crema, should time his entry into the old town, if possible, on some still golden afternoon of autumn. It is then, if ever, that he will learn to love the glowing brickwork of its churches and the quaint terra-cotta traceries that form its chief artistic charm.
How the unique brick architecture of the Lombard cities took its origin—whether from the precepts of Byzantine aliens in the earliest middle ages, or from the native instincts of a mixed race composed of Gallic, Ligurian, Roman, and Teutonic elements, under the leadership of Longobardic rulers—is a question for antiquarians to decide. There can, however, be no doubt that the monuments of the Lombard style, as they now exist, are no less genuinely local, no less characteristic of the country they adorn, no less indigenous to the soil they sprang from, than the Attic colonnades of Mnesicles and Ictinus. What the marble quarries of Pentelicus were to the Athenian builders, the clay beneath their feet was to those Lombard craftsmen. From it they fashioned structures as enduring, towers as majestic, and cathedral aisles as solemn, as were ever wrought from chiselled stone. There is a true sympathy between those buildings and the Lombard landscape, which by itself might suffice to prove the originality of their almost unknown architects. The rich colour of the baked clay—finely modulated from a purplish red, through russet, crimson, pink, and orange, to pale yellow and dull grey—harmonises with the brilliant greenery of Lombard vegetation and with the deep azure of the distant Alpine range. Reared aloft above the flat expanse of plain, those square torroni, tapering into octagons and crowned with slender cones, break the long sweeping lines and infinite horizons with a contrast that affords relief, and yields a resting-place to tired eyes; while, far away, seen haply from some bridge above Ticino, or some high-built palace loggia, they gleam like columns of pale rosy fire against the front of mustering storm-clouds blue with rain. In that happy orchard of Italy, a pergola of vines in leaf, a clump of green acacias, and a campanile soaring above its church roof, brought into chance combination with the reaches of the plain and the dim mountain range, make up a picture eloquent in its suggestive beauty.
Those ancient builders wrought cunningly with their material. The bricks are fashioned and fixed to last for all time. Exposed to the icy winds of a Lombard winter, to the fierce fire of a Lombard summer, and to the moist vapours of a Lombard autumn; neglected by unheeding generations; with flowers clustering in their crannies, and birds nesting in their eaves, and mason-bees filling the delicate network of their traceries—they still present angles as sharp as when they were but finished, and joints as nice as when the mortar dried in the first months of their building. This immunity from age and injury they owe partly to the imperishable nature of baked clay; partly to the care of the artists who selected and mingled the right sorts of earth, burned them with scrupulous attention, and fitted them together with a patience born of loving service. Each member of the edifice was designed with a view to its ultimate place. The proper curve was ascertained for cylindrical columns and for rounded arches. Larger bricks were moulded for the supporting walls, and lesser pieces were adapted to the airy vaults and lanterns. In the brickfield and the kiln the whole church was planned and wrought out in its details, before the hands that made a unity of all these scattered elements were set to the work of raising it in air. When they came to put the puzzle together, they laid each brick against its neighbour, filling up the almost imperceptible interstices with liquid cement composed of quicklime and fine sand in water. After five centuries the seams between the layers of bricks that make the bell-tower of S. Gottardo at Milan, yield no point of vantage to the penknife or the chisel.
Nor was it in their welding of the bricks alone that these craftsmen showed their science. They were wont to enrich the surface with marble, sparingly but effectively employed—as in those slender detached columns, which add such beauty to the octagon of S. Gottardo, or in the string-courses of strange beasts and reptiles that adorn the church fronts of Pavia. They called to their aid the mandorlato of Verona, supporting their porch pillars on the backs of couchant lions, inserting polished slabs on their facades, and building huge sarcophagi into their cloister alleys. Between terra-cotta and this marble of Verona there exists a deep and delicate affinity. It took the name of mandorlato, I suppose, from a resemblance to almond blossoms. But it is far from having the simple beauty of a single hue. Like all noble veined stones, it passes by a series of modulations and gradations through a gamut of associated rather than contrasted tints. Not the pink of the almond blossom only, but the creamy whiteness of the almond kernel, and the dull yellow of the almond nut may be found in it; and yet these colours are so blent and blurred to all-pervading mellowness, that nowhere is there any shock of contrast or violence of a preponderating tone. The veins which run in labyrinths of crossing, curving, and contorted lines all over its smooth surface add, no doubt, to this effect of unity. The polish, lastly, which it takes, makes the mandorlato shine like a smile upon the sober face of the brickwork: for, serviceable as terra-cotta is for nearly all artistic purposes, it cannot reflect light or gain the illumination which comes from surface brightness.
What the clay can do almost better than any crystalline material, may be seen in the mouldings so characteristic of Lombard architecture. Geometrical patterns of the rarest and most fanciful device; scrolls of acanthus foliage, and traceries of tendrils; Cupids swinging in festoons of vines; angels joining hands in dance, with fluttering skirts and windy hair, and mouths that symbol singing; grave faces of old men and beautiful profiles of maidens leaning from medallions; wide-winged genii filling the spandrils of cloister arches, and cherubs clustered in the rondure of rose-windows—ornaments like these, wrought from the plastic clay, and adapted with true taste to the requirements of the architecture, are familiar to every one who has studied the church front of Crema, the cloisters of the Certosa, the courts of the Ospedale Maggiore at Milan, or the public palace of Cremona.
If the mandorlato gives a smile to those majestic Lombard buildings, the terra-cotta decorations add the element of life and movement. The thought of the artist in its first freshness and vivacity is felt in them. They have all the spontaneity of improvisation, the seductive melody of unpremeditated music. Moulding the supple earth with 'hand obedient to the brain,' the plasticatore has impressed his most fugitive dreams of beauty on it without effort; and what it cost him but a few fatigueless hours to fashion, the steady heat of the furnace has gifted with imperishable life. Such work, no doubt, has the defects of its qualities. As there are few difficulties to overcome, it suffers from a fatal facility—nec pluteum coedit nec demorsos sapit ungues. It is therefore apt to be unequal, touching at times the highest point of inspiration, as in the angels of Guccio at Perugia, and sinking not unfrequently into the commonplace of easygoing triviality, as in the common floral traceries of Milanese windows. But it is never laboured, never pedantic, never dulled by the painful effort to subdue an obstinate material to the artist's will. If marble is required to develop the strength of the few supreme sculptors, terra-cotta saves intact the fancies of a crowd of lesser men.
When we reflect that all the force, solemnity, and beauty of the Lombard buildings was evoked from clay, we learn from them this lesson: that the thought of man needs neither precious material nor yet stubborn substance for the production of enduring masterpieces. The red earth was enough for God when He made man in His own image; and mud dried in the sun suffices for the artist, who is next to God in his creative faculty—since non merita nome di creatore se non Iddio ed il poeta. After all, what is more everlasting than terra-cotta? The hobnails of the boys who ran across the brickfields in the Roman town of Silchester, may still be seen, mingled with the impress of the feet of dogs and hoofs of goats, in the tiles discovered there. Such traces might serve as a metaphor for the footfall of artistic genius, when the form-giver has stamped his thought upon the moist clay, and fire has made that imprint permanent.
Of all these Lombard edifices, none is more beautiful than the Cathedral of Crema, with its delicately finished campanile, built of choicely tinted yellow bricks, and ending in a lantern of the gracefullest, most airily capricious fancy. This bell-tower does not display the gigantic force of Cremona's famous torrazzo, shooting 396 feet into blue ether from the city square; nor can it rival the octagon of S. Gottardo for warmth of hue. Yet it has a character of elegance, combined with boldness of invention, that justifies the citizens of Crema in their pride. It is unique; and he who has not seen it does not know the whole resources of the Lombard style. The facade of the Cathedral displays that peculiar blending of Byzantine or Romanesque round arches with Gothic details in the windows, and with the acute angle of the central pitch, which forms the characteristic quality of the late trecento Lombard manner. In its combination of purity and richness it corresponds to the best age of decorated work in English Gothic. What, however, strikes a Northern observer is the strange detachment of this elaborate facade from the main structure of the church. Like a frontispiece cut out of cardboard and pierced with ornamental openings, it shoots far above the low roof of the nave; so that at night the moon, rising above the southern aisle, shines through its topmost window, and casts the shadow of its tracery upon the pavement of the square. This is a constructive blemish to which the Italians in no part of the peninsula were sensitive. They seem to have regarded their church fronts as independent of the edifice, capable of separate treatment, and worthy in themselves of being made the subject of decorative skill.
In the so-called Santuario of Crema—a circular church dedicated to S. Maria della Croce, outside the walls—the Lombard style has been adapted to the manner of the Mid-Renaissance. This church was raised in the last years of the fifteenth century by Gian Battista Battagli, an architect of Lodi, who followed the pure rules of taste, bequeathed to North Italian builders by Bramante. The beauty of the edifice is due entirely to its tranquil dignity and harmony of parts, the lightness of its circling loggia, and the just proportion maintained between the central structure and the four projecting porticoes. The sharp angles of these vestibules afford a contrast to the simplicity of the main building, while their clustered cupolas assist the general effect of roundness aimed at by the architect. Such a church as this proves how much may be achieved by the happy distribution of architectural masses. It was the triumph of the best Renaissance style to attain lucidity of treatment, and to produce beauty by geometrical proportion. When Leo Battista Alberti complained to his friend, Matteo di Bastia, that a slight alteration of the curves in his design for S. Francesco at Rimini would 'spoil his music,' cio che tu muti discorda tutta quella musica, this is what he meant. The melody of lines and the harmony of parts made a symphony to his eyes no less agreeable than a concert of tuned lutes and voices to his ears; and to this concord he was so sensitive that any deviation was a discord.
After visiting the churches of Crema and sauntering about the streets awhile, there is nothing left to do but to take refuge in the old Albergo del Pozzo. This is one of those queer Italian inns, which carry you away at once into a scene of Goldoni. It is part of some palace, where nobles housed their bravi in the sixteenth century, and which the lesser people of to-day have turned into a dozen habitations. Its great stone staircase leads to a saloon upon which the various bedchambers open; and round its courtyard runs an open balcony, and from the court grows up a fig-tree poking ripe fruit against a bedroom window. Oleanders in tubs and red salvias in pots, and kitchen herbs in boxes, flourish on the pavement, where the ostler comes to wash his carriages, and where the barber shaves the poodle of the house. Visitors to the Albergo del Pozzo are invariably asked if they have seen the Museo; and when they answer in the negative, they are conducted with some ceremony to a large room on the ground-floor of the inn, looking out upon the courtyard and the fig-tree. It was here that I gained the acquaintance of Signor Folcioni, and became possessor of an object that has made the memory of Crema doubly interesting to me ever since.
When we entered the Museo, we found a little old man, gentle, grave, and unobtrusive, varnishing the ugly portrait of some Signor of the cinquecento. Round the walls hung pictures, of mediocre value, in dingy frames; but all of them bore sounding titles. Titians, Lionardos, Guido Renis, and Luinis, looked down and waited for a purchaser. In truth this museum was a bric-a-brac shop of a sort that is common enough in Italy, where treasures of old lace, glass, armour, furniture, and tapestry, may still be met with. Signor Folcioni began by pointing out the merits of his pictures; and after making due allowance for his zeal as amateur and dealer, it was possible to join in some of his eulogiums. A would-be Titian, for instance, bought in Verona from a noble house in ruins, showed Venetian wealth of colour in its gemmy greens and lucid crimsons shining from a background deep and glowing. Then he led us to a walnut-wood bureau of late Renaissance work, profusely carved with nymphs and Cupids, and armed men, among festoons of fruits embossed in high relief. Deeply drilled worm-holes set a seal of antiquity upon the blooming faces and luxuriant garlandslike the touch of Time who 'delves the parallels in beauty's brow.' On the shelves of an ebony cabinet close by he showed us a row of cups cut out of rock-crystal and mounted in gilt silver, with heaps of engraved gems, old snuff-boxes, coins, medals, sprays of coral, and all the indescribable lumber that one age flings aside as worthless for the next to pick up from the dust-heap and regard as precious. Surely the genius of culture in our century might be compared to a chiffonnier of Paris, who, when the night has fallen, goes into the streets, bag on back and lantern in hand, to rake up the waifs and strays a day of whirling life has left him.
The next curiosity was an ivory carving of S. Anthony preaching to the fishes, so fine and small you held it on your palm, and used a lens to look at it. Yet there stood the Santo gesticulating, and there were the fishes in rows—the little fishes first, and then the middle-sized, and last of all the great big fishes almost out at sea, with their heads above the water and their mouths wide open, just as the Fioretti di San Francesco describes them. After this came some original drawings of doubtful interest, and then a case of fifty-two nielli. These were of unquestionable value; for has not Cicognara engraved them on a page of his classic monograph? The thin silver plates, over which once passed the burin of Maso Finiguerra, cutting lines finer than hairs, and setting here a shadow in dull acid-eaten grey, and there a high light of exquisite polish, were far more delicate than any proofs impressed from them. These frail masterpieces of Florentine art—the first beginnings of line engraving—we held in our hands while Signor Folcioni read out Cicognara's commentary in a slow impressive voice, breaking off now and then to point at the originals before us.
The sun had set, and the room was almost dark, when he laid his book down, and said: 'I have not much left to show—yet stay! Here are still some little things of interest.' He then opened the door into his bedroom, and took down from a nail above his bed a wooden Crucifix. Few things have fascinated me more than this Crucifix—produced without parade, half negligently, from the dregs of his collection by a dealer in old curiosities at Crema. The cross was, or is—for it is lying on the table now before me—twenty-one inches in length, made of strong wood, covered with coarse yellow parchment, and shod at the four ends with brass. The Christ is roughly hewn in reddish wood, coloured scarlet, where the blood streams from the five wounds. Over the head an oval medallion, nailed into the cross, serves as framework to a miniature of the Madonna, softly smiling with a Correggiesque simper. The whole Crucifix is not a work of art, but such as may be found in every convent. Its date cannot be earlier than the beginning of the eighteenth century. As I held it in my hand, I thought—perhaps this has been carried to the bedside of the sick and dying; preachers have brandished it from the pulpit over conscience-stricken congregations; monks have knelt before it on the brick floor of their cells, and novices have kissed it in the vain desire to drown their yearnings after the relinquished world; perhaps it has attended criminals to the scaffold, and heard the secrets of repentant murderers; but why should it be shown me as a thing of rarity? These thoughts passed through my mind, while Signor Folcioni quietly remarked: 'I bought this Cross from the Frati when their convent was dissolved in Crema.' Then he bade me turn it round, and showed a little steel knob fixed into the back between the arms. This was a spring. He pressed it, and the upper and lower parts of the cross came asunder; and holding the top like a handle, I drew out as from a scabbard a sharp steel blade, concealed in the thickness of the wood, behind the very body of the agonising Christ. What had been a crucifix became a deadly poniard in my grasp, and the rust upon it in the twilight looked like blood. 'I have often wondered,' said Signor Folcioni, 'that the Frati cared to sell me this.'
There is no need to raise the question of the genuineness of this strange relic, though I confess to having had my doubts about it, or to wonder for what nefarious purposes the impious weapon was designed—whether the blade was inserted by some rascal monk who never told the tale, or whether it was used on secret service by the friars. On its surface the infernal engine carries a dark certainty of treason, sacrilege, and violence. Yet it would be wrong to incriminate the Order of S. Francis by any suspicion, and idle to seek the actual history of this mysterious weapon. A writer of fiction could indeed produce some dark tale in the style of De Stendhal's 'Nouvelles,' and christen it 'The Crucifix of Crema.' And how delighted would Webster have been if he had chanced to hear of such a sword-sheath! He might have placed it in the hands of Bosola for the keener torment of his Duchess. Flamineo might have used it; or the disguised friars, who made the deathbed of Bracciano hideous, might have plunged it in the Duke's heart after mocking his eyes with the figure of the suffering Christ. To imagine such an instrument of moral terror mingled with material violence, lay within the scope of Webster's sinister and powerful genius. But unless he had seen it with his eyes, what poet would have ventured to devise the thing and display it even in the dumb show of a tragedy? Fact is more wonderful than romance. No apocalypse of Antichrist matches what is told of Roderigo Borgia; and the crucifix of Crema exceeds the sombre fantasy of Webster.
Whatever may be the truth about this cross, it has at any rate the value of a symbol or a metaphor. The idea which it materialises, the historical events of which it is a sign, may well arrest attention. A sword concealed in the crucifix—what emblem brings more forcibly to mind than this that two-edged glaive of persecution which Dominic unsheathed to mow down the populations of Provence and to make Spain destitute of men? Looking upon the crucifix of Crema, we may seem to see pestilence-stricken multitudes of Moors and Jews dying on the coasts of Africa and Italy. The Spaniards enter Mexico; and this is the cross they carry in their hands. They take possession of Peru; and while the gentle people of the Incas come to kiss the bleeding brows of Christ, they plunge this dagger in their sides. What, again, was the temporal power of the Papacy but a sword embedded in a cross? Each Papa Re, when he ascended the Holy Chair, was forced to take the crucifix of Crema and to bear it till his death. A long procession of war-loving Pontiffs, levying armies and paying captains with the pence of S. Peter, in order to keep by arms the lands they had acquired by fraud, defiles before our eyes. First goes the terrible Sixtus IV., who died of grief when news was brought him that the Italian princes had made peace. He it was who sanctioned the conspiracy to murder the Medici in church, at the moment of the elevation of the Host. The brigands hired to do this work refused at the last moment. The sacrilege appalled them. 'Then,' says the chronicler, 'was found a priest, who, being used to churches, had no scruple.' The poignard this priest carried was this crucifix of Crema. After Sixtus came the blood-stained Borgia; and after him Julius II., whom the Romans in triumphal songs proclaimed a second Mars, and who turned, as Michelangelo expressed it, the chalices of Rome into swords and helms. Leo X., who dismembered Italy for his brother and nephew; and Clement VII., who broke the neck of Florence and delivered the Eternal City to the spoiler, follow. Of the antinomy between the Vicariate of Christ and an earthly kingdom, incarnated by these and other Holy Fathers, what symbol could be found more fitting than a dagger with a crucifix for case and covering?
It is not easy to think or write of these matters without rhetoric. When I laid my head upon my pillow that night in the Albergo del Pozzo at Crema, it was full of such thoughts; and when at last sleep came, it brought with it a dream begotten doubtless by the perturbation of my fancy. For I thought that a brown Franciscan, with hollow cheeks, and eyes aflame beneath his heavy cowl, sat by my bedside, and, as he raised the crucifix in his lean quivering hands, whispered a tale of deadly passion and of dastardly revenge. His confession carried me away to a convent garden of Palermo; and there was love in the story, and hate that is stronger than love, and, for the ending of the whole matter, remorse which dies not even in the grave. Each new possessor of the crucifix of Crema, he told me, was forced to hear from him in dreams his dreadful history. But, since it was a dream and nothing more, why should I repeat it? I have wandered far enough already from the vintage and the sunny churches of the little Lombard town.
* * * * *
CHERUBINO AT THE SCALA THEATRE
It was a gala night. The opera-house of Milan was one blaze of light and colour. Royalty in field-marshal's uniform and diamonds, attended by decorated generals and radiant ladies of the court, occupied the great box opposite the stage. The tiers from pit to gallery were filled with brilliantly dressed women. From the third row, where we were fortunately placed, the curves of that most beautiful of theatres presented to my gaze a series of retreating and approaching lines, composed of noble faces, waving feathers, sparkling jewels, sculptured shoulders, uniforms, robes of costly stuffs and every conceivable bright colour. Light poured from the huge lustre in the centre of the roof, ran along the crimson velvet cushions of the boxes, and flashed upon the gilded frame of the proscenium—satyrs and acanthus scrolls carved in the manner of a century ago. Pit and orchestra scarcely contained the crowd of men who stood in lively conversation, their backs turned to the stage, their lorgnettes raised from time to time to sweep the boxes. This surging sea of faces and sober costumes enhanced by contrast the glitter, variety, and luminous tranquillity of the theatre above it.
No one took much thought of the coming spectacle, till the conductor's rap was heard upon his desk, and the orchestra broke into the overture to Mozart's Nozze. Before they were half through, it was clear that we should not enjoy that evening the delight of perfect music added to the enchantment of so brilliant a scene. The execution of the overture was not exactly bad. But it lacked absolute precision, the complete subordination of all details to the whole. In rendering German music Italians often fail through want of discipline, or through imperfect sympathy with a style they will not take the pains to master. Nor, when the curtain lifted and the play began, was the vocalisation found in all parts satisfactory. The Contessa had a meagre mezza voce. Susanna, though she did not sing false, hovered on the verge of discords, owing to the weakness of an organ which had to be strained in order to make any effect on that enormous stage. On the other hand, the part of Almaviva was played with dramatic fire, and Figaro showed a truly Southern sense of comic fun. The scenes were splendidly mounted, and something of a princely grandeur—the largeness of a noble train of life—was added to the drama by the vast proportions of the theatre. It was a performance which, in spite of drawbacks, yielded pleasure.
And yet it might have left me frigid but for the artist who played Cherubino. This was no other than Pauline Lucca, in the prime of youth and petulance. From her first appearance to the last note she sang, she occupied the stage. The opera seemed to have been written for her. The mediocrity of the troupe threw her commanding merits—the richness of her voice, the purity of her intonation, her vivid conception of character, her indescribable brusquerie of movement and emotion—into that relief which a sapphire gains from a setting of pearls. I can see her now, after the lapse of nearly twenty years, as she stood there singing in blue doublet and white mantle, with the slouched Spanish hat and plume of ostrich feathers, a tiny rapier at her side, and blue rosettes upon her white silk shoes! The Nozze di Figaro was followed by a Ballo. This had for its theme the favourite legend of a female devil sent from the infernal regions to ruin a young man. Instead of performing the part assigned her, Satanella falls in love with the hero, sacrifices herself, and is claimed at last by the powers of goodness. Quia multum amavit, her lost soul is saved. If the opera left much to be desired, the Ballo was perfection. That vast stage of the Scala Theatre had almost overwhelmed the actors of the play. Now, thrown open to its inmost depths, crowded with glittering moving figures, it became a fairyland of fantastic loveliness. Italians possess the art of interpreting a serious dramatic action by pantomime. A Ballo with them is no mere affair of dancing—fine dresses, evolutions performed by brigades of pink-legged women with a fixed smile on their faces. It takes the rank of high expressive art. And the motive of this Ballo was consistently worked out in an intelligible sequence of well-ordered scenes. To moralise upon its meaning would be out of place. It had a conflict of passions, a rhythmical progression of emotions, a tragic climax in the triumph of good over evil.
At the end of the performance there were five persons in our box—the beautiful Miranda, and her husband, a celebrated English man of letters; a German professor of biology; a young Milanese gentleman, whom we called Edoardo; and myself. Edoardo and the professor had joined us just before the ballet. I had occupied a seat behind Miranda and my friend the critic from the commencement. We had indeed dined together first at their hotel, the Rebecchino; and they now proposed that we should all adjourn together there on foot for supper. From the Scala Theatre to the Rebecchino is a walk of some three minutes.
When we were seated at the supper-table and had talked some while upon indifferent topics, the enthusiasm roused in me by Pauline Lucca burst out. I broke a moment's silence by exclaiming, 'What a wonder-world music creates! I have lived this evening in a sphere of intellectual enjoyment raised to rapture. I never lived so fast before!' 'Do you really think so?' said Miranda. She had just finished a beccafico, and seemed disposed for conversation. 'Do you really think so? For my part, music is in a wholly different region from experience, thought, or feeling. What does it communicate to you?' And she hummed to herself the motif of Cherubino's 'Non so piu cosa son cosa faccio.'—'What does it teach me?' I broke in upon the melody. 'Why, to-night, when I heard the music, and saw her there, and felt the movement of the play, it seemed to me that a new existence was revealed. For the first time I understood what love might be in one most richly gifted for emotion.' Miranda bent her eyes on the table-cloth and played with her wineglass. 'I don't follow you at all. I enjoyed myself to-night. The opera, indeed, might have been better rendered. The ballet, I admit, was splendid. But when I remember the music—even the best of it—even Pauline Lucca's part'—here she looked up, and shot me a quick glance across the table—'I have mere music in my ears. Nothing more. Mere music!' The professor of biology, who was gifted with, a sense of music and had studied it scientifically, had now crunched his last leaf of salad. Wiping his lips with his napkin, he joined our tete-a-tete. 'Gracious madam, I agree with you. He who seeks from music more than music gives, is on the quest—how shall I put it?—of the Holy Grail.' 'And what,' I struck in, 'is this minimum or maximum that music gives?' 'Dear young friend,' replied the professor, 'music gives melodies, harmonies, the many beautiful forms to which sound shall be fashioned. Just as in the case of shells and fossils, lovely in themselves, interesting for their history and classification, so is it with music. You must not seek an intellectual meaning. No; there is no Inhalt in music' And he hummed contentedly the air of 'Voi che sapete.' While he was humming, Miranda whispered to me across the table, 'Separate the Lucca from the music.' 'But,' I answered rather hotly, for I was nettled by Miranda's argument ad hominem, 'But it is not possible in an opera to divide the music from the words, the scenery, the play, the actor. Mozart, when he wrote the score to Da Ponte's libretto, was excited to production by the situations. He did not conceive his melodies out of connection with a certain cast of characters, a given ethical environment.' 'I do not know, my dear young friend,' responded the professor, 'whether you have read Mozart's Life and letters. It is clearly shown in them how he composed airs at times and seasons when he had no words to deal with. These he afterwards used as occasion served. Whence I conclude that music was for him a free and lovely play of tone. The words of our excellent Da Ponte were a scaffolding to introduce his musical creations to the public. But without that carpenter's work, the melodies of Cherubino are Selbst-staendig, sufficient in themselves to vindicate their place in art. Do I interpret your meaning, gracious lady?' This he said bending to Miranda. 'Yes,' she replied. But she still played with her wineglass, and did not look as though she were quite satisfied. I meanwhile continued: 'Of course I have read Mozart's Life, and know how he went to work. But Mozart was a man of feeling, of experience, of ardent passions. How can you prove to me that the melodies he gave to Cherubino had not been evolved from situations similar to those in which Cherubino finds himself? How can you prove he did not feel a natural appropriateness in the motifs he selected from his memory for Cherubino? How can you be certain that the part itself did not stimulate his musical faculty to fresh and still more appropriate creativeness? And if we must fall back on documents, do you remember what he said himself about the love-music in Die Entfuehrung? I think he tells us that he meant it to express his own feeling for the woman who had just become his wife.' Miranda looked up as though she were almost half-persuaded. Yet she hummed again 'Non so piu,' then said to herself, 'Yes, it is wiser to believe with the professor that these are sequences of sounds, and nothing more.' Then she sighed. In the pause which followed, her husband, the famous critic, filled his glass, stretched his legs out, and began: 'You have embarked, I see, upon the ocean of aesthetics. For my part, to-night I was thinking how much better fitted for the stage Beaumarchais' play was than this musical mongrel—this operatic adaptation. The wit, observe, is lost. And Cherubino—that sparkling little enfant terrible—becomes a sentimental fellow—a something I don't know what—between a girl and a boy—a medley of romance and impudence—anyhow a being quite unlike the sharply outlined playwright's page. I confess I am not a musician; the drama is my business, and I judge things by their fitness for the stage. My wife agrees with me to differ. She likes music, I like plays. To-night she was better pleased than I was; for she got good music tolerably well rendered, while I got nothing but a mangled comedy.'
We bore the critic's monologue with patience. But once again the spirit, seeking after something which neither Miranda, nor her husband, nor the professor could be got to recognise, moved within me. I cried out at a venture, 'People who go to an opera must forget music pure and simple, must forget the drama pure and simple. You must welcome a third species of art, in which the play, the music, the singers with their voices, the orchestra with its instruments—Pauline Lucca, if you like, with her fascination' (and here I shot a side-glance at Miranda), 'are so blent as to create a world beyond the scope of poetry or music or acting taken by themselves. I give Mozart credit for having had insight into this new world, for having brought it near to us. And I hold that every fresh representation of his work is a fresh revelation of its possibilities.'
To this the critic answered, 'You now seem to me to be confounding the limits of the several arts.' 'What!' I continued, 'is the drama but emotion presented in its most external forms as action? And what is music but emotion, in its most genuine essence, expressed by sound? Where then can a more complete artistic harmony be found than in the opera?'
'The opera,' replied our host, 'is a hybrid. You will probably learn to dislike artistic hybrids, if you have the taste and sense I give you credit for. My own opinion has been already expressed. In the Nozze, Beaumarchais' Mariage de Figaro is simply spoiled. My friend the professor declares Mozart's music to be sufficient by itself, and the libretto to be a sort of machinery for its display. Miranda, I think, agrees with him. You plead eloquently for the hybrid. You have a right to your own view. These things are matters, in the final resort, of individual taste rather than of demonstrable principles. But I repeat that you are very young.' The critic drained his Lambrusco, and smiled at me.
'Yes, he is young,' added Miranda. 'He must learn to distinguish between music, his own imagination, and a pretty woman. At present he mixes them all up together. It is a sort of transcendental omelette. But I think the pretty woman has more to do with it than metaphysics!'
All this while Edoardo had bestowed devout attention on his supper. But it appeared that the drift of our discourse had not been lost by him. 'Well,' he said, 'you finely fibred people dissect and analyse. I am content with the spettacolo. That pleases. What does a man want more? The Nozze is a comedy of life and manners. The music is adorable. To-night the women were not bad to look at—the Lucca was divine; the scenes—ingenious. I thought but little. I came away delighted. You could have a better play, Caro Signore!' (with a bow to our host). 'That is granted. You might have better music, Cara Signora!' (with a bow to Miranda). 'That too is granted. But when the play and the music come together—how shall I say?—the music helps the play, and the play helps the music; and we—well we, I suppose, must help both!'
Edoardo's little speech was so ingenuous, and, what is more, so true to his Italian temperament, that it made us all laugh and leave the argument just where we found it. The bottles of Lambrusco supplied us each with one more glass; and while we were drinking them, Miranda, woman-like, taking the last word, but contradicting herself, softly hummed 'Non so piu cosa son,' and 'Ah!' she said, 'I shall dream of love to-night!'
We rose and said good-night. But when I had reached my bedroom in the Hotel de la Ville, I sat down, obstinate and unconvinced, and penned this rhapsody, which I have lately found among papers of nearly twenty years ago. I give it as it stands.
Mozart has written the two melodramas of love—the one a melo-tragedy, the other a melo-comedy. But in really noble art, Comedy and Tragedy have faces of equal serenity and beauty. In the Vatican there are marble busts of the two Muses, differing chiefly in their head-dresses: that of Tragedy is an elaborately built-up structure of fillets and flowing hair, piled high above the forehead and descending in long curls upon the shoulders; while Comedy wears a similar adornment, with the addition of a wreath of vine-leaves and grape-bunches. The expression of the sister goddesses is no less finely discriminated. Over the mouth of Comedy plays a subtle smile, and her eyes are relaxed in a half-merriment. A shadow rests upon the slightly heavier brows of Tragedy, and her lips, though not compressed, are graver. So delicately did the Greek artist indicate the division between two branches of one dramatic art. And since all great art is classical, Mozart's two melodramas, Don Giovanni and the Nozze di Figaro, though the one is tragic and the other comic, are twin-sisters, similar in form and feature.
The central figure of the melo-tragedy is Don Juan, the hero of unlimited desire, pursuing the unattainable through tortuous interminable labyrinths, eager in appetite yet never satisfied, 'for ever following and for ever foiled.' He is the incarnation of lust that has become a habit of the soul—rebellious, licentious, selfish, even cruel. His nature, originally noble and brave, has assumed the qualities peculiar to lust—rebellion, license, cruelty, defiant egotism. Yet, such as he is, doomed to punishment and execration, Don Juan remains a fit subject for poetry and music, because he is complete, because he is impelled by some demonic influence, spurred on by yearnings after an unsearchable delight. In his death, the spirit of chivalry survives, metamorphosed, it is true, into the spirit of revolt, yet still tragic, such as might animate the desperate sinner of a haughty breed.
The central figure of the melo-comedy is Cherubino, the genius of love, no less insatiable, but undetermined to virtue or to vice. This is the point of Cherubino, that the ethical capacities in him are still potential. His passion still hovers on the borderland of good and bad. And this undetermined passion is beautiful because of extreme freshness; of infinite, immeasurable expansibility. Cherubino is the epitome of all that belongs to the amorous temperament in a state of still ascendant adolescence. He is about sixteen years of age—a boy yesterday, a man to-morrow—to-day both and neither—something beyond boyhood, but not yet limited by man's responsibility and man's absorbing passions. He partakes of both ages in the primal awakening to self-consciousness. Desire, which in Don Juan has become a fiend, hovers before him like a fairy. His are the sixteen years, not of a Northern climate, but of Spain or Italy, where manhood appears in a flash, and overtakes the child with sudden sunrise of new faculties. Nondum amabam, sed amare amabam, quaerebam quod amarem, amans amare—'I loved not yet, but was in love with loving; I sought what I should love, being in love with loving.' That sentence, penned by S. Augustine and consecrated by Shelley, describes the mood of Cherubino. He loves at every moment of his life, with every pulse of his being. His object is not a beloved being, but love itself—the satisfaction of an irresistible desire, the paradise of bliss which merely loving has become for him. What love means he hardly knows. He only knows that he must love. And women love him—half as a plaything to be trifled with, half as a young god to be wounded by. This rising of the star of love as it ascends into the heaven of youthful fancy, is revealed in the melodies Mozart has written for him. How shall we describe their potency? Who shall translate those curiously perfect words to which tone and rhythm have been indissolubly wedded? E pur mi piace languir cosi.... E se non ho chi m' oda, parlo d'amor con me.
But if this be so, it may be asked, Who shall be found worthy to act Cherubino on the stage? You cannot have seen and heard Pauline Lucca, or you would not ask this question.
Cherubino is by no means the most important person in the plot of the Nozze. But he strikes the keynote of the opera. His love is the standard by which we measure the sad, retrospective, stately love of the Countess, who tries to win back an alienated husband. By Cherubino we measure the libertine love of the Count, who is a kind of Don Juan without cruelty, and the humorous love of Figaro and his sprightly bride Susanna. Each of these characters typifies one of the many species of love. But Cherubino anticipates and harmonises all. They are conscious, experienced, world-worn, disillusioned, trivial. He is all love, foreseen, foreshadowed in a dream of life to be; all love, diffused through brain and heart and nerves like electricity; all love, merging the moods of ecstasy, melancholy, triumph, regret, jealousy, joy, expectation, in a hazy sheen, as of some Venetian sunrise. What will Cherubino be after three years? A Romeo, a Lovelace, a Lothario, a Juan? a disillusioned rake, a sentimentalist, an effete fop, a romantic lover? He may become any one of these, for he contains the possibilities of all. As yet, he is the dear glad angel of the May of love, the nightingale of orient emotion. This moment in the unfolding of character Mozart has arrested and eternalised for us in Cherubino's melodies; for it is the privilege of art to render things most fugitive and evanescent fixed imperishably in immortal form.
This is indeed a rhapsodical production. Miranda was probably right. Had it not been for Pauline Lucca, I might not have philosophised the Nozze thus. Yet, in the main, I believe that my instinct was well grounded. Music, especially when wedded to words, more especially when those words are dramatic, cannot separate itself from emotion. It will not do to tell us that a melody is a certain sequence of sounds; that the composer chose it for its beauty of rhythm, form, and tune, and only used the words to get it vocalised. We are forced to go farther back, and ask ourselves, What suggested it in the first place to the composer? why did he use it precisely in connection with this dramatic situation? How can we answer these questions except by supposing that music was for him the utterance through art of some emotion? The final fact of human nature is emotion, crystallising itself in thought and language, externalising itself in action and art. 'What,' said Novalis, 'are thoughts but pale dead feelings?' Admitting this even in part, we cannot deny to music an emotional content of some kind. I would go farther, and assert that, while a merely mechanical musician may set inappropriate melodies to words, and render music inexpressive of character, what constitutes a musical dramatist is the conscious intention of fitting to the words of his libretto such melody as shall interpret character, and the power to do this with effect.
That the Cherubino of Mozart's Nozze is quite different from Beaumarchais' Cherubin does not affect this question. He is a new creation, just because Mozart could not, or would not, conceive the character of the page in Beaumarchais' sprightly superficial spirit. He used the part to utter something unutterable except by music about the soul of the still adolescent lover. The libretto-part and the melodies, taken together, constitute a new romantic ideal, consistent with experience, but realised with the intensity and universality whereby art is distinguished from life. Don Juan was a myth before Mozart touched him with the magic wand of music. Cherubino became a myth by the same Prospero's spell. Both characters have the universality, the symbolic potency, which belongs to legendary beings. That there remains a discrepancy between the boy-page and the music made for him, can be conceded without danger to my theory; for the music made for Cherubino is meant to interpret his psychical condition, and is independent of his boyishness of conduct.
This further explains why there may be so many renderings of Cherubino's melodies. Mozart idealised an infinite emotion. The singer is forced to define; the actor also is forced to define. Each introduces his own limit on the feeling. When the actor and the singer meet together in one personality, this definition of emotion becomes of necessity doubly specific. The condition of all music is that it depends in a great measure on the temperament of the interpreter for its momentary shade of expression, and this dependence is of course exaggerated when the music is dramatic. Furthermore, the subjectivity of the audience enters into the problem as still another element of definition. It may therefore be fairly said that, in estimating any impression produced by Cherubino's music, the original character of the page, transplanted from French comedy to Italian opera, Mozart's conception of that character, Mozart's specific quality of emotion and specific style of musical utterance, together with the contralto's interpretation of the character and rendering of the music, according to her intellectual capacity, artistic skill, and timbre of voice, have collaborated with the individuality of the hearer. Some of the constituents of the ever-varying product—a product which is new each time the part is played—are fixed. Da Ponte's Cherubino and Mozart's melodies remain unalterable. All the rest is undecided; the singer and the listener change on each occasion.
To assert that the musician Mozart meant nothing by his music, to assert that he only cared about it qua music, is the same as to say that the painter Tintoretto, when he put the Crucifixion upon canvas, the sculptor Michelangelo, when he carved Christ upon the lap of Mary, meant nothing, and only cared about the beauty of their forms and colours. Those who take up this position prove, not that the artist has no meaning to convey, but that for them the artist's nature is unintelligible, and his meaning is conveyed in an unknown tongue. It seems superfluous to guard against misinterpretation by saying that to expect clear definition from music—the definition which belongs to poetry—would be absurd. The sphere of music is in sensuous perception; the sphere of poetry is in intelligence. Music, dealing with pure sound, must always be vaguer in significance than poetry, dealing with words. Nevertheless, its effect upon the sentient subject may be more intense and penetrating for this very reason. We cannot fail to understand what words are intended to convey; we may very easily interpret in a hundred different ways the message of sound. But this is not because words are wider in their reach and more alive; rather because they are more limited, more stereotyped, more dead. They symbolise something precise and unmistakable; but this precision is itself attenuation of the something symbolised. The exact value of the counter is better understood when it is a word than when it is a chord, because all that a word conveys has already become a thought, while all that musical sounds convey remains within the region of emotion which has not been intellectualised. Poetry touches emotion through the thinking faculty. If music reaches the thinking faculty at all, it is through fibres of emotion. But emotion, when it has become thought, has already lost a portion of its force, and has taken to itself a something alien to its nature. Therefore the message of music can never rightly be translated into words. It is the very largeness and vividness of the sphere of simple feeling which makes its symbolical counterpart in sound so seeming vague. But in spite of this incontestable defect of seeming vagueness, emotion expressed by music is nearer to our sentient self, if we have ears to take it in, than the same emotion limited by language. It is intenser, it is more immediate, as compensation for being less intelligible, less unmistakable in meaning. It is an infinite, an indistinct, where each consciousness defines and sets a limitary form.
A train of thought which begins with the concrete not unfrequently finds itself finishing, almost against its will, in abstractions. This is the point to which the performance of Cherubino's part by Pauline Lucca at the Scala twenty years ago has led me—that I have to settle with myself what I mean by art in general, and what I take to be the proper function of music as one of the fine arts.
'Art,' said Goethe, 'is but form-giving.' We might vary this definition, and say, 'Art is a method of expression or presentation.' Then comes the question: If art gives form, if it is a method of expression or presentation, to what does it give form, what does it express or present? The answer certainly must be: Art gives form to human consciousness; expresses or presents the feeling or the thought of man. Whatever else art may do by the way, in the communication of innocent pleasures, in the adornment of life and the softening of manners, in the creation of beautiful shapes and sounds, this, at all events, is its prime function.
While investing thought, the spiritual subject-matter of all art, with form, or finding for it proper modes of presentation, each of the arts employs a special medium, obeying the laws of beauty proper to that medium. The vehicles of the arts, roughly speaking, are material substances (like stone, wood, metal), pigments, sounds, and words. The masterly handling of these vehicles and the realisation of their characteristic types of beauty have come to be regarded as the craftsman's paramount concern. And in a certain sense this is a right conclusion; for dexterity in the manipulation of the chosen vehicle and power to create a beautiful object, distinguish the successful artist from the man who may have had like thoughts and feelings. This dexterity, this power, are the properties of the artist qua artist. Yet we must not forget that the form created by the artist for the expression of a thought or feeling is not the final end of art itself. That form, after all, is but the mode of presentation through which the spiritual content manifests itself. Beauty, in like manner, is not the final end of art, but is the indispensable condition under which the artistic manifestation of the spiritual content must he made. It is the business of art to create an ideal world, in which perception, emotion, understanding, action, all elements of human life sublimed by thought, shall reappear in concrete forms as beauty. This being so, the logical criticism of art demands that we should not only estimate the technical skill of artists and their faculty for presenting beauty to the aesthetic sense, but that we should also ask ourselves what portion of the human spirit he has chosen to invest with form, and how he has conceived his subject. It is not necessary that the ideas embodied in a work of art should be the artist's own. They may be common to the race and age: as, for instance, the conception of sovereign deity expressed in the Olympian Zeus of Pheidias, or the conception of divine maternity expressed in Raphael's 'Madonna di San Sisto.' Still the personality of the artist, his own intellectual and moral nature, his peculiar way of thinking and feeling, his individual attitude towards the material given to him in ideas of human consciousness, will modify his choice of subject and of form, and will determine his specific type of beauty. To take an example: supposing that an idea, common to his race and age, is given to the artist for treatment; this will be the final end of the work of art which he produces. But his personal qualities and technical performance determine the degree of success or failure to which he attains in presenting that idea and in expressing it with beauty. Signorelli fails where Perugino excels, in giving adequate and lovely form to the religious sentiment. Michelangelo is sure of the sublime, and Raphael of the beautiful.
Art is thus the presentation of the human spirit by the artist to his fellow-men. The subject-matter of the arts is commensurate with what man thinks and feels and does. It is as deep as religion, as wide as life. But what distinguishes art from religion or from life is, that this subject-matter must assume beautiful form, and must be presented directly or indirectly to the senses. Art is not the school or the cathedral, but the playground, the paradise of humanity. It does not teach, it does not preach. Nothing abstract enters into art's domain. Truth and goodness are transmuted into beauty there, just as in science beauty and goodness assume the shape of truth, and in religion truth and beauty become goodness. The rigid definitions, the unmistakable laws of science, are not to be found in art. Whatever art has touched acquires a concrete sensuous embodiment, and thus ideas presented to the mind in art have lost a portion of their pure thought-essence. It is on this account that the religious conceptions of the Greeks were so admirably fitted for the art of sculpture, and certain portions of the mediaeval Christian mythology lent themselves so well to painting. For the same reason the metaphysics of ecclesiastical dogma defy the artist's plastic faculty. Art, in a word, is a middle term between reason and the senses. Its secondary aim, after the prime end of presenting the human spirit in beautiful form has been accomplished, is to give tranquil and innocent enjoyment.
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From what has gone before it will be seen that no human being can make or mould a beautiful form without incorporating in that form some portion of the human mind, however crude, however elementary. In other words, there is no work of art without a theme, without a motive, without a subject. The presentation of that theme, that motive, that subject, is the final end of art. The art is good or bad according as the subject has been well or ill presented, consistently with the laws of beauty special to the art itself. Thus we obtain two standards for aesthetic criticism. We judge a statue, for example, both by the sculptor's intellectual grasp upon his subject, and also by his technical skill and sense of beauty. In a picture of the Last Judgment by Fra Angelico we say that the bliss of the righteous has been more successfully treated than the torments of the wicked, because the former has been better understood, although the painter's skill in each is equal. In the Perseus of Cellini we admire the sculptor's spirit, finish of execution, and originality of design, while we deplore that want of sympathy with the heroic character which makes his type of physical beauty slightly vulgar and his facial expression vacuous. If the phrase 'Art for art's sake' has any meaning, this meaning is simply that the artist, having chosen a theme, thinks exclusively in working at it of technical dexterity or the quality of beauty. There are many inducements for the artist thus to narrow his function, and for the critic to assist him by applying the canons of a soulless connoisseurship to his work; for the conception of the subject is but the starting-point in art-production, and the artist's difficulties and triumphs as a craftsman lie in the region of technicalities. He knows, moreover, that, however deep or noble his idea may be, his work of art will be worthless if it fail in skill or be devoid of beauty. What converts a thought into a statue or a picture, is the form found for it; and so the form itself seems all-important. The artist, therefore, too easily imagines that he may neglect his theme; that a fine piece of colouring, a well-balanced composition, or, as Cellini put it, 'un bel corpo ignudo,' is enough. And this is especially easy in an age which reflects much upon the arts, and pursues them with enthusiasm, while its deeper thoughts and feelings are not of the kind which translate themselves readily into artistic form. But, after all, a fine piece of colouring, a well-balanced composition, a sonorous stanza, a learned essay in counterpoint, are not enough. They are all excellent good things, yielding delight to the artistic sense and instruction to the student. Yet when we think of the really great statues, pictures, poems, music of the world, we find that these are really great because of something more—and that more is their theme, their presentation of a noble portion of the human soul. Artists and art-students may be satisfied with perfect specimens of a craftsman's skill, independent of his theme; but the mass of men will not be satisfied; and it is as wrong to suppose that art exists for artists and art-students, as to talk of art for art's sake. Art exists for humanity. Art transmutes thought and feeling into terms of beautiful form. Art is great and lasting in proportion as it appeals to the human consciousness at large, presenting to it portions of itself in adequate and lovely form.
It was necessary in the first place firmly to apprehend the truth that the final end of all art is the presentation of a spiritual content; it is necessary in the next place to remove confusions by considering the special circumstances of the several arts.
Each art has its own vehicle of presentation. What it can present and how it must present it, depends upon the nature of this vehicle. Thus, though architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, meet upon the common ground of spiritualised experience—though the works of art produced by the architect, sculptor, painter, musician, poet, emanate from the spiritual nature of the race, are coloured by the spiritual nature of the men who make them, and express what is spiritual in humanity under concrete forms invented for them by the artist—yet it is certain that all of these arts do not deal exactly with the same portions of this common material in the same way or with the same results. Each has its own department. Each exhibits qualities of strength and weakness special to itself. To define these several departments, to explain the relation of these several vehicles of presentation to the common subject-matter, is the next step in criticism.
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Of the fine arts, architecture alone subserves utility. We build for use. But the geometrical proportions which the architect observes, contain the element of beauty and powerfully influence the soul. Into the language of arch and aisle and colonnade, of cupola and facade and pediment, of spire and vault, the architect translates emotion, vague perhaps but deep, mute but unmistakable. When we say that a building is sublime or graceful, frivolous or stern, we mean that sublimity or grace, frivolity or sternness, is inherent in it. The emotions connected with these qualities are inspired in us when we contemplate it, and are presented to us by its form. Whether the architect deliberately aimed at the sublime or graceful—whether the dignified serenity of the Athenian genius sought to express itself in the Parthenon, and the mysticism of mediaeval Christianity in the gloom of Chartres Cathedral—whether it was Renaissance paganism which gave its mundane pomp and glory to S. Peter's, and the refined selfishness of royalty its specious splendour to the palace of Versailles—need not be curiously questioned. The fact that we are impelled to raise these points, that architecture more almost than any art connects itself indissolubly with the life, the character, the moral being of a nation and an epoch, proves that we are justified in bringing it beneath our general definition of the arts. In a great measure because it subserves utility, and is therefore dependent upon the necessities of life, does architecture present to us through form the human spirit. Comparing the palace built by Giulio Romano for the Dukes of Mantua with the contemporary castle of a German prince, we cannot fail at once to comprehend the difference of spiritual conditions, as these displayed themselves in daily life, which then separated Italy from the Teutonic nations. But this is not all. Spiritual quality in the architect himself finds clear expression in his work. Coldness combined with violence marks Brunelleschi's churches; a certain suavity and well-bred taste the work of Bramante; while Michelangelo exhibits wayward energy in his Library of S. Lorenzo, and Amadeo self-abandonment to fancy in his Lombard chapels. I have chosen examples from one nation and one epoch in order that the point I seek to make, the demonstration of a spiritual quality in buildings, may be fairly stated.
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Sculpture and painting distinguish themselves from the other fine arts by the imitation of concrete existences in nature. They copy the bodies of men and animals, the aspects of the world around us, and the handiwork of men. Yet, in so far as they are rightly arts, they do not make imitation an object in itself. The grapes of Zeuxis at which birds pecked, the painted dog at which a cat's hair bristles—if such grapes or such a dog were ever put on canvas—are but evidences of the artist's skill, not of his faculty as artist. These two plastic, or, as I prefer to call them, figurative arts, use their imitation of the external world for the expression, the presentation of internal, spiritual things. The human form is for them the outward symbol of the inner human spirit, and their power of presenting spirit is limited by the means at their disposal.
Sculpture employs stone, wood, clay, the precious metals, to model forms, detached and independent, or raised upon a flat surface in relief. Its domain is the whole range of human character and consciousness, in so far as these can be indicated by fixed facial expression, by physical type, and by attitude. If we dwell for an instant on the greatest historical epoch of sculpture, we shall understand the domain of this art in its range and limitation. At a certain point of Greek development the Hellenic Pantheon began to be translated by the sculptors into statues; and when the genius of the Greeks expired in Rome, the cycle of their psychological conceptions had been exhaustively presented through this medium. During that long period of time, the most delicate gradations of human personality, divinised, idealised, were presented to the contemplation of the consciousness which gave them being, in appropriate types. Strength and swiftness, massive force and airy lightness, contemplative repose and active energy, voluptuous softness and refined grace, intellectual sublimity and lascivious seductiveness—the whole rhythm of qualities which can be typified by bodily form—were analysed, selected, combined in various degrees, to incarnate the religious conceptions of Zeus, Aphrodite, Herakles, Dionysus, Pallas, Fauns and Satyrs, Nymphs of woods and waves, Tritons, the genius of Death, heroes and hunters, lawgivers and poets, presiding deities of minor functions, man's lustful appetites and sensual needs. All that men think, or do, or are, or wish for, or imagine in this world, had found exact corporeal equivalents. Not physiognomy alone, but all the portions of the body upon which the habits of the animating soul are wont to stamp themselves, were studied and employed as symbolism. Uranian Aphrodite was distinguished from her Pandemic sister by chastened lust-repelling loveliness. The muscles of Herakles were more ponderous than the tense sinews of Achilles. The Hermes of the palaestra bore a torso of majestic depth; the Hermes, who carried messages from heaven, had limbs alert for movement. The brows of Zeus inspired awe; the breasts of Dionysus breathed delight.
A race accustomed, as the Greeks were, to read this symbolism, accustomed, as the Greeks were, to note the individuality of naked form, had no difficulty in interpreting the language of sculpture. Nor is there now much difficulty in the task. Our surest guide to the subject of a basrelief or statue is study of the physical type considered as symbolical of spiritual quality. From the fragment of a torso the true critic can say whether it belongs to the athletic or the erotic species. A limb of Bacchus differs from a limb of Poseidon. The whole psychological conception of Aphrodite Pandemos enters into every muscle, every joint, no less than into her physiognomy, her hair, her attitude.
There is, however, a limit to the domain of sculpture. This art deals most successfully with personified generalities. It is also strong in the presentation of incarnate character. But when it attempts to tell a story, we often seek in vain its meaning. Battles of Amazons or Centaurs upon basreliefs, indeed, are unmistakable. The subject is indicated here by some external sign. The group of Laocoon appeals at once to a reader of Virgil, and the divine vengeance of Leto's children upon Niobe is manifest in the Uffizzi marbles. But who are the several heroes of the AEginetan pediment, and what was the subject of the Pheidian statues on the Parthenon? Do the three graceful figures of a basrelief which exists at Naples and in the Villa Albani, represent Orpheus, Hermes, and Eurydice, or Antiope and her two sons? Was the winged and sworded genius upon the Ephesus column meant for a genius of Death or a genius of Love?
This dimness of significance indicates the limitation of sculpture, and inclines some of those who feel its charm to assert that the sculptor seeks to convey no intellectual meaning, that he is satisfied with the creation of beautiful form. There is sense in this revolt against the faith which holds that art is nothing but a mode of spiritual presentation. Truly the artist aims at producing beauty, is satisfied if he conveys delight. But it is impossible to escape from the certainty that, while he is creating forms of beauty, he means something; and that something, that theme for which he finds the form, is part of the world's spiritual heritage. Only the crudest works of plastic art, capricci and arabesques, have no intellectual content; and even these are good in so far as they convey the playfulness of fancy.
Painting employs colours upon surfaces—walls, panels, canvas. What has been said about sculpture will apply in a great measure to this art. The human form, the world around us, the works of man's hands, are represented in painting, not for their own sake merely, but with a view to bringing thought, feeling, action, home to the consciousness of the spectator from the artist's consciousness on which they have been impressed. Painting can tell a story better than sculpture, can represent more complicated feelings, can suggest thoughts of a subtler intricacy. Through colour, it can play, like music, directly on powerful but vague emotion. It is deficient in fulness and roundness of concrete reality. A statue stands before us, the soul incarnate in ideal form, fixed and frozen for eternity. The picture is a reflection cast upon a magic glass; not less permanent, but reduced to a shadow of reality. To follow these distinctions farther would be alien from the present purpose. It is enough to repeat that, within their several spheres, according to their several strengths and weaknesses, both sculpture and painting present the spirit to us only as the spirit shows itself immersed in things of sense. The light of a lamp enclosed within an alabaster vase is still lamplight, though shorn of lustre and toned to coloured softness. Even thus the spirit, immersed in things of sense presented to us by the figurative arts, is still spirit, though diminished in its intellectual clearness and invested with hues not its own. To fashion that alabaster form of art with utmost skill, to make it beautiful, to render it transparent, is the artist's function. But he will have failed of the highest if the light within burns dim, or if he gives the world a lamp in which no spiritual flame is lighted.
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Music transports us to a different region. It imitates nothing. It uses pure sound, and sound of the most wholly artificial kind—so artificial that the musical sounds of one race are unmusical, and therefore unintelligible, to another. Like architecture, music relies upon mathematical proportions. Unlike architecture, music serves no utility. It is the purest art of pleasure—the truest paradise and playground of the spirit. It has less power than painting, even less power than sculpture, to tell a story or to communicate an idea. For we must remember that when music is married to words, the words, and not the music, reach our thinking faculty. And yet, in spite of all, music presents man's spirit to itself through form. The domain of the spirit over which music reigns, is emotion—not defined emotion, not feeling even so defined as jealousy or anger—but those broad bases of man's being out of which emotions spring, defining themselves through action into this or that set type of feeling. Architecture, we have noticed, is so connected with specific modes of human existence, that from its main examples we can reconstruct the life of men who used it. Sculpture and painting, by limiting their presentation to the imitation of external things, have all the help which experience and, association render. The mere artificiality of music's vehicle separates it from life and makes its message untranslatable. Yet, as I have already pointed out, this very disability under which it labours is the secret of its extraordinary potency. Nothing intervenes between the musical work of art and the fibres of the sentient being it immediately thrills. We do not seek to say what music means. We feel the music. And if a man should pretend that the music has not passed beyond his ears, has communicated nothing but a musical delight, he simply tells us that he has not felt music. The ancients on this point were wiser than some moderns when, without pretending to assign an intellectual significance to music, they held it for an axiom that one type of music bred one type of character, another type another. A change in the music of a state, wrote Plato, will be followed by changes in its constitution. It is of the utmost importance, said Aristotle, to provide in education for the use of the ennobling and the fortifying moods. These philosophers knew that music creates a spiritual world, in which the spirit cannot live and move without contracting habits of emotion. In this vagueness of significance but intensity of feeling lies the magic of music. A melody occurs to the composer, which he certainly connects with no act of the reason, which he is probably unconscious of connecting with any movement of his feeling, but which nevertheless is the form in sound of an emotional mood. When he reflects upon the melody secreted thus impromptu, he is aware, as we learn from his own lips, that this work has correspondence with emotion. Beethoven calls one symphony Heroic, another Pastoral; of the opening of another he says, 'Fate knocks at the door.' Mozart sets comic words to the mass-music of a friend, in order to mark his sense of its inaptitude for religious sentiment. All composers use phrases like Maestoso, Pomposo, Allegro, Lagrimoso, Con Fuoco, to express the general complexion of the mood their music ought to represent.