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Copyright, 1891,
BY WILLIAM WETMORE STORY.

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.

EXCURSIONS IN ART AND LETTERS.

MICHEL ANGELO.

The overthrow of the pagan religion was the deathblow of pagan Art. The temples shook to their foundations, the statues of the gods shuddered, a shadow darkened across the pictured and sculptured world, when through the ancient realm was heard the wail, “ Pan, great Pan is dead." The nymphs fled to their caves affrighted. Dryads, Oreads, and Naiads abandoned the groves, mountains, and streams that they for ages had haunted. Their voices were heard no more singing by shadowy brooks, their faces peered no longer through the sighing woods; and of all the mighty train of greater and lesser divinities and deified heroes to whom Greece and Rome had bent the knee and offered sacrifice, Orpheus alone lingered in the guise of the Good Shepherd.

Christianity struck the deathblow not only to pagan Art, but for a time to all Art. Sculpture and Painting were in its mind closely allied to idolatry. Under its influence the arts slowly wasted away as with a mortal disease. With ever-declining strength they struggled for centuries, gasping as it were for breath, and finally, almost in utter atrophy, half alive, half dead, - a ruined, maimed, deformed presence, shorn of all their glory and driven out by the world, — they found a beggarly refuge and sufferance in some Christian church or monastery.

The noble and majestic statues of the sculptured gods of ancient Greece were overthrown and buried in the ground, their glowing and pictured figures were swept from the walls of temples and dwellings, and in their stead only a crouching, timid race of bloodless saints were seen, not glad to be men, and fearful of God. Humanity dared no longer to stand erect, but groveled in superstitious fear, and lashed its flesh in penance, and was ashamed and afraid of all its natural instincts. How then was it possible for Art to live ? Beauty, happiness, life, and joy were but a snare and a temptation, and Religion and Art, which can never be divorced, crouched together in fear.

The long black period of the Middle Ages came to shroud everything in ignorance. Literature, art, poetry, science, sank into a nightmare of sleep. Only arms survived. The world became a battlefield, simply for power and dominion, until religion, issuing from the Church, bore in its van the banner of chivalry.

But the seasons of history are like the seasons of the year. Nothing utterly dies. And after the long apparently dead winter of the Middle Ages the spring came again the spring of the Renais

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