As to the main point,--may we never live to doubt it!--as to the better

centuries that are coming, the artist was surely right. His error lay

in supposing that this age, more than any past or future one, is

destined to see the tattered garments of Antiquity exchanged for a new

suit, instead of gradually renewing themselves by patchwork; in

applying his own little life-span as the measure of an interminable

achievement; and, more than all, in fancying that it mattered anything

to the great end in view whether he himself should contend for it or

against it. Yet it was well for him to think so. This enthusiasm,

infusing itself through the calmness of his character, and thus taking

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an aspect of settled thought and wisdom, would serve to keep his youth

pure, and make his aspirations high. And when, with the years settling

down more weightily upon him, his early faith should be modified by

inevitable experience, it would be with no harsh and sudden revolution

of his sentiments. He would still have faith in man's brightening

destiny, and perhaps love him all the better, as he should recognize

his helplessness in his own behalf; and the haughty faith, with which

he began life, would be well bartered for a far humbler one at its

close, in discerning that man's best directed effort accomplishes a

kind of dream, while God is the sole worker of realities.

Holgrave had read very little, and that little in passing through the

thoroughfare of life, where the mystic language of his books was

necessarily mixed up with the babble of the multitude, so that both one

and the other were apt to lose any sense that might have been properly

their own. He considered himself a thinker, and was certainly of a

thoughtful turn, but, with his own path to discover, had perhaps hardly

yet reached the point where an educated man begins to think. The true

value of his character lay in that deep consciousness of inward

strength, which made all his past vicissitudes seem merely like a

change of garments; in that enthusiasm, so quiet that he scarcely knew

of its existence, but which gave a warmth to everything that he laid

his hand on; in that personal ambition, hidden--from his own as well as

other eyes--among his more generous impulses, but in which lurked a

certain efficacy, that might solidify him from a theorist into the

champion of some practicable cause. Altogether in his culture and want

of culture,--in his crude, wild, and misty philosophy, and the

practical experience that counteracted some of its tendencies; in his

magnanimous zeal for man's welfare, and his recklessness of whatever

the ages had established in man's behalf; in his faith, and in his

infidelity; in what he had, and in what he lacked,--the artist might

fitly enough stand forth as the representative of many compeers in his

native land.