“But,” said Glyndon, fixing his eyes earnestly on Zanoni, “if there be a power to baffle the grave itself—”
Zanoni’s brow darkened. “And were this so,” he said, after a pause, “would it be so sweet a lot to outlive all you loved, and to recoil from every human tie? Perhaps the fairest immortality on earth is that of a noble name.”
“You do not answer me,—you equivocate. I have read of the long lives far beyond the date common experience assigns to man,” persisted Glyndon, “which some of the alchemists enjoyed. Is the golden elixir but a fable?”
“If not, and these men discovered it, they died, because they refused to live! There may be a mournful warning in your conjecture. Turn once more to the easel and the canvas!”
So saying, Zanoni waved his hand, and, with downcast eyes and a slow step, bent his way back into the city.
The Goddess Wisdom.
To some she is the goddess
To some the milch cow of the field;
Their care is but to calculate
What butter she will yield.
This last conversation with Zanoni left upon the mind of Glyndon a tranquillising and salutary effect.
From the confused mists of his fancy glittered forth again those happy, golden schemes which part from the young ambition of art, to play in the air, to illumine the space like rays that kindle from the sun. And with these projects mingled also the vision of a love purer and serener than his life yet had known. His mind went back into that fair childhood of genius, when the forbidden fruit is not yet tasted, and we know of no land beyond the Eden which is gladdened by an Eve. Insensibly before him there rose the scenes of a home, with his art sufficing for all excitement, and Viola’s love circling occupation with happiness and content; and in the midst of these fantasies of a future that might be at his command, he was recalled to the present by the clear, strong voice of Mervale, the man of common-sense.
Whoever has studied the lives of persons in whom the imagination is stronger than the will, who suspect their own knowledge of actual life, and are aware of their facility to impressions, will have observed the influence which a homely, vigorous, worldly understanding obtains over such natures. It was thus with Glyndon. His friend had often extricated him from danger, and saved him from the consequences of imprudence; and there was something in Mervale’s voice alone that damped his enthusiasm, and often made him yet more ashamed of noble impulses than weak conduct. For Mervale, though a downright honest man, could not sympathise with the extravagance of generosity any more than with that of presumption and credulity. He walked the straight line of life, and felt an equal contempt for the man who wandered up the hill-sides, no matter whether to chase a butterfly, or to catch a prospect of the ocean.