Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XII / The Picture of Judgment; Or, The Grotta Del Tifone >> Page 225

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription THE DOOMED STRANGERS. 225
as doomed victims, of the terrible fiend of Etruscan mythology.
To this condition some terrible tale was evidently attached.
Both of these pictures were portraits. For that matter, all were
portraits in the numerous collection. With those two excep-
tions, the rest were of the same family, and their several fates,
according to the resolve of the painter, were all felicitous.
They walked erect, triumphant in hope and consciousness, elas-
tic in their tread, and joyous in their features. Not so these
two : the outcasts of the group�with but not of them�pain-
fully contrasted by the artist,�terribly so by the doom of the
awful Providence whose decree he had ventured thus freely to
declare. The features of the man had the expression of one
whom a just self-esteem moves to submit in dignity, and without
complaint. The face of the woman, on the contrary, is full of
auguish, though still distinguished by a degree of loftiness and
character to which his offers no pretension. There were the
portraits, and there the effigies, and beneath them, in their stone
coffins, lay the fragments of their mouldering bones�the relic
of two thousand years. What a scene had the artist chosen to
transmit to posterity, from real life ! and with what motive ?
By what terrible sense of justice, or by what strange obliquity
of judgment and feeling, did the great Lucumo of the Pomponii
suffer the members of his family to be thus offensively perpetu-
ated to all time, in the place of family sepulture ? Could it
have been the inspiration of revenge and hatred, by which this
vivid and terrible representation was wrought ; and what was
the melancholy history of these two strangers�so young, so
beautiful�thus doomed to the inexpiable torments of the end-
less future, by the bold anticipatory awards of a successor or a
contemporary ? To these questions our explorers of the " Grotta
del Tifone" did not immediately find an answer. That they
have done so since, the reader will ascribe to the keen anxiety
with which they have groped through ancient chronicles, in
search of an event which, thus wonderfully preserved by art for
a period of more than twenty centuries, could not, as they well
conjectured, be wholly obliterated from all other mortal records.
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