The Last Leaf eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Last Leaf.
What variety!  What metamorphoses!  Gold sparkles, jewels emit light, the purple draping imprisons within its rich folds the radiance of the lustres.  The light is reflected from shining silk.  Threads of pearl are spread in rows upon brocades sewed with thread of silver.  Golden embroideries intertwine in capricious arabesques, costumes, jewels, appointments so extraordinarily rich that the stage seems a mine of glory.

The fashionable world of our time has little taste for such pleasures.  This old splendour we cannot produce; but the words which the magnificent lords and ladies spoke to one another as they blazed, were those that make up the Poetry of Fletcher’s Faithful Shepherdess, Ben Jonson’s Sad Shepherd, and, finest of all, the Comus of Milton.  They are the most matchless frames of language in which sweet thoughts and fancies were ever set.  After all, before this higher beauty, royal pomp even seems only a coarse excrescence, and all would be better if the accessories of the rendering were very simple.  Already in my mind is the grove for Comus designed; the mass of green which shall stand in the centre, the blasted trunk that shall rise for contrast to one side, and the vine that shall half conceal the splintered summit, the banks of wild-flowers that shall be transferred, the light the laboratory shall yield us to make all seem as if seen through enchanter’s incense.  I have in mind the sweet-voiced girl who shall be the lost lady and sing the invocation to Sabrina; the swart youth who shall be the magician and say the lines,

  “At every fall, smoothing the raven down
  Of darkness till it smiled”;

and the golden-haired maid who shall glide in and out in silvery attire, as the attendant spirit.  Come, Fastidiosus,—­I shall invite too the editors of David’s Harp,—­and you shall all own the truth of Milton’s own words, “that sanctity and virtue and truth herself may in this wise be elegantly dressed,” when the attendant spirit recites: 

  “Now my task is smoothly done,
  I can fly or I can run
  Quickly to the green earth’s end,
  Where the bowed welkin low doth bend;
  And from thence can soar as soon
  To the corners of the moon. 
  Mortals that would follow me,
  Love virtue; she alone is free,
  She can teach ye how to climb
  Higher than the sphery chime;
  Or if virtue feeble were,
  Heaven itself would stoop to her.”



In January of 1870, having decided to teach rather than preach, I embarked for Germany to enjoy a year of foreign study.  Like Western professors in general (to borrow the witticism of President Eliot) I occupied not so much a chair as a sofa, and felt that I needed enlargement for the performance of my functions.

Project Gutenberg
The Last Leaf from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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