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occur after her death, are a beautiful finale to the rich music of her life. But can we realize the character ? does it belong to human life, and Attic life ? No. It is a lovely dream of Mrs. Child's imagination.
We might go on still further, but our'readers will be better satisfied with some specimens of the book. We cannot leave it, however, without expressing our persuasion that it will take a permanent place in our elegant literature ; for, though deficient in some points of execution, it has the vital qualities that will save it from the common doom.
Every page of it breathes the inspiration of genius, and shows a highly cultivated taste, in literature and art. The structure of its style is such as belongs only to a mind of fresh and vigorous powers; and the greatest fault of its plot, —its tendency to an excessive idealism, - will perhaps scarcely abate its popularity.
“The room in which the guests were assembled, was furnished with less of Asiatic splendor than the private apartment of Aspasia; but in its magnificent simplicity, there was a more perfect manifestation of ideal beauty. It was divided in the middle by eight Ionic columns, alternately of Phrygian and Pentelic marble. Between the central pillars stood a superb statue from the hand of Phidias, representing Aphrodite guided by Love and crowned by the goddess of Persuasion. Around the walls were Phæbus and Hermes in Parian marble, and the nine Muses in ivory. A fountain of perfumed water from the adjoining room diffused coolness and fragrance as it passed through a number of concealed pipes, and finally flowed into a magnificent vase, supported by a troop of Naiades.
“In a recess stood the famous lion of Myron, surrounded by infant loves, playing with his paws, climbing his back, and decorating his neck with garlands. This beautiful group seemed actually to live and move in the clear light and deep shadows derived from a silver lamp suspended above.
“The walls were enriched with some of the choicest paintings of Apollodorus, Zeuxis, and Polygnotus. Near a fine likeness of Pericles, by Aristolaus, was Aspasia, represented as Chloris scattering flowers over the earth, and attended by winged Hours.
“It chanced that Pericles himself reclined beneath his portrait, and though political anxiety had taken from his countenance something of the cheerful freshness which characterized the picture, he still retained the same elevated beauty, — the same deep,
quiet expression of intellectual power. At a short distance, with his arm resting on the couch, stood his nephew Alcibiades, deservedly called the handsomest man in Athens. Ile was laughing with Hermippus, the comic writer, whose shrewd, sarcastic, and mischievous face was expressive of his calling. Phidias slowly paced the room, talking of the current news with the Persian Artaphernes. Anaxagoras reclined near the statue of Aphrodite, listening and occasionally speaking to Plato, who leaned against one of the marble pillars, in earnest conversation with a learned Ethiopian.
“The gorgeous apparel of the Asiatic and African guests, contrasted strongly with the graceful simplicity of Grecian costume. A saffron-colored mantle and a richly embroidered Median vest glittered on the person of the venerable Artaphernes. Tithonus, the Ethiopian, wore a skirt of ample folds, which scarcely fell below the knee. It was of the glorious Tyrian hue, resembling a crimson light shining through transparent purple. The edge of the garment was curiously wrought with golden palm leaves. It terminated at the waist in a large roll, twined with massive chains of gold, and fastened by a clasp of the farfamed Ethiopian topaz. The upper part of his person was uncovered and unornamented, save by broad bracelets of gold, which formed a magnificent contrast with the sable color of his vigorous and finely-proportioned limbs.
“ As the ladies entered, the various groups came forward to meet them; and all were welcomed by Aspasia with earnest cordiality and graceful self-possession. While the brief salutations were passing, Ilipparete, the wife of Alcibiades, came from an inner apartment, where she had been waiting for her hostess. She was a fair, amiable young matron, evidently conscious of her high rank. The short blue tunic, which she wore over a lemoncolored robe, was embroidered with golden grasshoppers; and on her forehead sparkled a jewelled insect of the same species. It was the emblem of unmixed Athenian blood; and Hipparete alone, of all the ladies present, had a right to wear it. Her manners were an elaborate copy of Aspsia; but deprived of the powerful charm of unconsciousness, which flowed like a principle of life into every motion of that beautiful enchantress.”- pp. 34 - 36.
"At a signal from Plato, slaves filled the goblets with wine, and he rose to propose the usual libation to the gods. Every Grecian guest joined in the ceremony, singing in a recitative tone:
Dionysus, this to thee,
“Music, from the adjoining room, struck in with the chorus, and continued for some moments after it had ceased.
“ For a short time, the conversation was confined to the courtesies of the table, as the guests partook of the delicious viands before them. Plato ate olives and bread only; and the water he drank was scarcely tinged with Lesbian wine. Alcibiades rallied him upon this abstemiousness; and Pericles reminded him that even his great pattern, Socrates, gave Dionysus his dues, while he worshipped the heaven-born Pallas.
“The philosopher quietly replied, 'I can worship the fiery God of Vintage, only when married with Nymphs of the Fountain.'
“But tell me, O Anaxagoras and Plato,' exclaimed Tithonus, if, as Hermippus hath said, the Grecian philosophers discard the theology of the poets? Do ye not believe in the gods ?'
“ Plato would have smiled, had he not reverenced the simplicity that expected a frank and honest answer to a question so dangerous. Anaxagoras briefly replied, that the mind which did not believe in divine beings must be cold and dark indeed.
“. Even so,' replied Artaphernes devoutly; blessed be Oromasdes, who sends Mithras to warm and enlighten the world ! But what surprises me most is, that you Grecians import new divinities from other countries as freely as slaves, or papyrus, or marble. The sculptor of the gods will scarcely be able to fashion half the images.'
“ If the custom continues,' rejoined Phidias, 'it will indeed require a life-time as long as that conferred upon the namesake of Tithonus.
“« Thanks to the munificence of artists, every deity has a representative in my dwelling,' observed Aspasia.
“I have heard strangers express their surprise that the Athenians have never erected a statue to the principle of Modesty,' said Hermippus.
“So much the more need that we enshrine her image in our own hearts,' rejoined Plato.
“ The sarcastic comedian made no reply to this quiet re
" buke. Looking toward Artaphernes, he continued: “Tell me, O servant of the great king, wherein the people of your country are more wise in worshipping the sun, than we, who represent the same divinity in marble ? '
"The principles of the Persian religion are simple, steady, and uniform,' replied Artaphernes; but the Athenian are always changing. You not only adopt foreign gods, but sometimes create new ones, and admit them into your theology by solemn act of the great council. These circumstances have led me to suppose that you worship them as mere forms. The Persian Magi do indeed prostrate themselves before the rising Sun; but they do it in the name of Oromasdes, the universal Princi. ple of Good, of whom that great luminary is the visible symbol. In our solemn processions, the chariot sacred to Oromasdes precedes the horse dedicated to Mithras ; and there is deep meaning in the arrangement. The Sun and the Zodiac, the Balance and the Rule, are but emblems of truths, mysterious and eternal. As the garlands we throw on the sacred fire feed the flame, rather than extinguish it, so the sublime symbols of our religion are intended to preserve, not to conceal, the truths within them.'
". Though you disclaim all images of divinity,' rejoined Aspasia, 'yet we hear of your Mithras pictured like a Persian king, trampling on a prostrate ox.'
“With a smile, Artaphernes replied, 'I see, lady, that you would fain gain admittance to the Mithraic cave; but its secrets, Jike those of your own Eleusis, are concealed from all save the initiated.'
". They tell us,' said Aspasia, that those who are admitted to the Eleusinian mysteries die in peace, and go directly to the Elysian fields ; while the uninitiated wander about in the infernal abyss.
"Of course,' said Anaxagoras, ' Alcibiades will go directly to Elysium, though Solon groped his way in darkness.
“ T'he old philosopher uttered this with imperturbable gravity, as if unconscious of satirical meaning; but some of the guests could scarcely repress a smile, as they recollected the dissolute life of the young Athenian.
“If Alcibiades spoke his real sentiments,' said Aspasia, 'I venture to say he would tell us that the mystic baskets of Demeter, covered with long purple veils, contain nothing half so much worth seeing, as the beautiful maidens who carry them.'
“She looked at Pericles, and saw that he again cautioned her, by raising the rose toward his face, as if inhaling its fragrance.
“ There was a brief pause ; which Anaxagoras interrupted, by saying, “The wise can never reverence images merely as images. There is a mystical meaning in the Athenian manner of supplicating the gods with garlands on their heads, and bearing in their hands boughs of olive twined with wool. Pallas, at whose birth we are told gold rained upon the earth, was unquestionably a personification of wisdom. It is not to be supposed that the philosophers of any country consider the sun itself as any thing more than a huge ball of fire; but the sight of that glorious orb leads the contemplative soul to the belief in one Pure Intelligence, one Universal Mind, which, in manifesting itself,
produces order in the material world, and preserves the unconsused distinction of infinite varieties.'
"Such, no doubt, is the tendency of all reflecting minds,' said Phidias; 'but in general, the mere forms are worshipped, apart from the sacred truths they represent. The gods we have introduced from Egypt are regarded, by the priests of that learned land, as emblems of certain divine truths brought down from ancient times. They are like the Hermæ at our doors, which outwardly appear to rest on inexpressive blocks of stone; but when opened, they are found to contain beautiful statues of the gods within them. It is not so with the new fables which the Greeks are continually mixing with their mythology. Pygmalion, as we all know, first departed from the rigid outline of ancient sculpture, and impressed life and motion upon marble. The poets, in praise of him, have told us that his ardent wishes warmed a statue into a lovely and breathing woman. The fable is fanciful and pleasing in itself; but will it not hereafter be believe ed as reality? Might not the same history be told of much that is believed ? It is true,' added he, smiling, ‘that I might be excused for favoring a belief in images, since mortals are ever willing to have their own works adored.'
“What does Plato respond to the inquiries of Phidias ?' asked Artaphernes.
“The philosopher replied; Within the holy mysteries of our religion is preserved a pure and deep meaning, as the waters of Arethusa flow uncontaminated beneath the earth and the sea. I do not presume to decide, whether all that is believed has the inward significancy. I have ever deemed such speculations unwise. If the chaste daughter of Latona always appears to my thoughts veiled in heavenly purity, it is comparatively unimportant whether I can prove that Acteon was torn by his dogs, for looking on the goddess with wanton eyes. Anaxagoras said wisely, that material forms lead the contemplative mind to the worship of ideal good, which is in its nature immortal and divine. Homer tells us, that the golden chain resting upon Olympus reaches even to the earth. Here we see but a few of the last links, and those imperfectly. We are like men in a subterranean cave, so chained that they can look only forward to the entrance. Far above and behind us is a glowing fire; and beautiful beings, of every form, are moving between the light and us poor fettered mortals. Some of these bright beings are speaking, and others are silent. We see only the shadows cast on the opposite wall of the cavern, by the reflection of the fire above; and if we hear the echo of voices, we suppose it belongs to those passing shadows. The soul, in its present condition, is an exile from the orb of VOL. XLIV. — NO. 94.