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132 / james for the general reader When [del Ferice] had begun talking of revolutions to Madame Mayer and to half-a-dozen hare-brained youths, of whom Gouache the painter was one, he had not really the slightest idea of accomplishing anything. He took advantage of the prevailing excitement in order to draw Donna Tullia into a closer confidence than he could otherwise have aspired to obtain. [ . . . ] Del Ferice had hopes that, by means of the knot of malcontents he was gradually drawing together, he might ruin Giovanni Saracinesca, and get the hand of Donna Tullia in marriage. (S, 85) Donna Tullia plays at revolution because she enjoys the intrigue; she has no real ideological agenda, and her sympathies are easily swayed. Crawford himself seems to have felt some compunction about placing his villains , however superficially, in the revolutionary camp, and he offers a retraction of sorts in his epilogue, where he explains that he was not painting all revolutionaries with the same brush through del Ferice, who he says “represented the scum which remained after the revolution of 1848 had subsided” (S, 450). Like the false revolutionaries in The Princess Casamassima, the revolutionaries of Saracinesca are driven by personal, not world-historical, motives. Between the Corona/Giovanni and Tullia / del Ferice extremes, a fifth character with an independent storyline offers an interesting, and not immediately explicable, counterpoint. This figure is the expatriate French painter named Anastase Gouache, who initially caucuses with del Ferice and Donna Tullia but who comes to see the error of his ways and joins the Papal Zouaves to fight against the revolutionaries. Gouache is an aristocrat of a sort, a revolutionary aristocrat, with a long pedigree: “His grandfather had helped to storm the Bastille, his father had been among the men of 1848; there was revolutionary blood in his veins, and he distinguished between real and imaginary conspiracy with the unerring certainty of instinct, as the bloodhound knows the track of man from the slot of meaner game” (S, 237–38). He thinks revolutions are aesthetically useful—good subject matter—but he does not really subscribe to a political viewpoint, despite long hours spent in the confidence of the purported conspirators. “It was a good thing for him to paint a portrait of Donna Tullia, for it made him the fashion, and he had small scruple in agreeing with her views so long as he had no fixed convictions of his own” (S, 236). What separates Gouache from his associates is his combination of innate talent and dedication to craft; Donna Tullia observes , in a moment of self-awareness, that “the part she fancied herself james for the general reader / 133 playing was contemptible enough when compared with the hard work, the earnest purpose, and the remarkable talent of the young artist” (S, 92). Gouache is the genuine article, but he has fallen into a bad set— probably just because he is from out of town. When he finally enters into prolonged conversation with a truly principled man, the Cardinal, Gouache readily understands that a “true republic” is not socialist—America and the Netherlands, for example, qualify (as does the ancient Roman Empire)—and that the church is consistent with that kind of republicanism. A “hierarchy existed within the democracy, by common consent and for the public good, and formed a second democracy of smaller extent but greater power” in the early church, insists the Cardinal (S, 242), an explanation that satisfies Gouache and leads him to the conclusion that “if the attack upon the Church were suddenly abandoned, your Eminence would immediately abandon your reactionary policy . . . and adopt progressive ways” (S, 244). Whether Crawford’s political gymnastics here are valid is beside the point; the turn that Gouache makes brings him in line with his true nature, makes his talent and his ethics consistent with each other, and aligns him, finally, with the natural aristocrats of the novel. He appears in the closing scene of the novel, in pursuit of a fugitive del Ferice. After riding for a bit with Giovanni and Corona, he stops to admire their beauty, and then the beauty of the landscape: Gouache dropped behind, watching the pair and admiring them with true artistic appreciation. He had a Parisian’s love of luxury and perfect appointments as well as an artist’s love of beauty, and his eyes rested with unmitigated pleasure on the riders and their horses, losing no detail of their dress, their simple English accoutrements , their firm...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781439906699
Related ISBN
9781439906682
MARC Record
OCLC
794700744
Pages
256
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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