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Without a word, a look of tenderness,
To be called up, when, in his lonely hours,
He would indulge in weeping. Like a ghost,
Day after day, year after year, he haunts
An ancient rampart that o'erhangs the sea ;
Gazing on vacancy, and hourly there
Starting as from some wild and uncouth dream,
To answer to the watch. — Alas! how changed
From him the mirror of the youth of VENICE ;
Whom in the slightest thing, or whim or chance,
Did he but wear his doublet so and so,
All followed ; at whose nuptials, when he won
That maid at once the noblest, fairest, best, 107
A daughter of the house that now among
Its ancestors in monumental brass
Numbers eight Doges — to convey her home,
The Bucentaur, went forth ; and thrice the sun
Shone on the chivalry, that, front to front,
And blaze on blaze reflecting, met and ranged
To tourney in ST. MARK's. — But, lo! at last,
Messengers come. He is recalled: his heart
Leaps at the tidings. He embarks: the boat
Springs to the oar, and back again he goes-
Into that very chamber! there to lie
In his old resting-place, the bed of steel;
And thence look up (five long, long years of grief
Have not killed either) on his wretched sire,
Still in that seat -- as though he had not stirred;
Immovable, and muffled in his cloak.
But now he comes convicted of a crime
Great by the laws of VENICE. Night and day,
Brooding on what he had been, what he was,
’T was more than he could bear. His longing-fits
Thickened upon him. His desire for home
Became a madness; and, resolved to go,
If but to die, in his despair he writes
A letter to the sovereign-prince of MILAN
(To him whose name, among the greatest now,
Had perished, blotted out at once and razed,
But for the rugged limb of an old oak),
Soliciting his influence with the state,
And drops it to be found. “Would ye know all ?
I have transgressed, offended wilfully;
And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
But let me, let me, if but for an hour
(Ye must consent — for all of you are sons,
Most of you husbands, fathers) -- let me first
Indulge the natural feelings of a man,
And, ere I die, if such my sentence be,
Press to my heart ('t is all I ask of you)
My wife, my children -- and my aged mother ----
Say, is she yet alive?”
He is condemned
To go ere set of sun, go whence he came,
man; and for a year to breathe
The vapor of a dungeon. But his prayer
(What could they less ?) is granted.
In a hall
Open and crowded by the common herd,
'T was there a wife and her four sons yet young,
A mother borne along, life ebbing fast,
And an old Doge, mustering his strength in vain,
Assembled now, sad privilege ! to meet
One so long lost, one who for them had braved,
For them had sought-death and yet worse than death
To meet him, and to part with him forever !
Time and their wrongs had changed them all — him most!
Yet when the wife, the mother, looked again,
'Twas he— 't was he himself
't was he himself -—'t was GIACOMO! And all clung round him, weeping bitterly; Weeping the more, because they wept in vain.
Unnerved, and now unsettled in his mind
From long and exquisite pain, he sobs and cries,
Kissing the old man's cheek, “Help me, my father !
Let me, I pray thee, live once more among ye:
Let me go home. My son,” returns the Doge,
Obey. Thy country wills it. »» 110
That night embarked ; sent to an early grave
For one whose dying words, “The deed was mine!
He is most innocent ! ’T was I who did it! "
Came when he slept in peace. The ship, that sailed
Swift as the winds with his deliverance,
Bore back a lifeless corse. Generous as brave,
Affection, kindness, the sweet offices
Of duty and love were from his tenderest years
To him as needful as his daily bread ;
And to become a by-word in the streets,
Bringing a stain on those who gave him life,
And those, alas! now worse than fatherless
To be proclaimed a ruffian, a night-stabber,
He on whom none before had breathed reproach
He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost,
Death followed. 0! if justice be in heaven,
A day must come of ample retribution !
Then was thy cup, old man, full to the brim.
But thou wert yet alive; and there was one,
The soul and spring of all that enmity,
Who would not leave thee; fastening on thy flank,
Hungering and thirsting, still unsatisfied ;
One of a name illustrious as thine own!
One of the Ten! one of the Invisible Three ! 111
'T was LOREDANO. When the whelps were gone,
He would dislodge the lion from his den;
And, leading on the pack he long had led,
The miserable pack that ever howled
Against fallen greatness, moved that FOSCARI
Be Doge no longer; urging his great age;
Calling the loneliness of grief neglect
Of duty, sullenness against the laws.
"I am most willing to retire," said he : "But I have sworn, and cannot of myself
. Do with me as ye please." —He was deposed, He, who had reigned so long and gloriously; His ducal bonnet taken from his brow, His robes stript off, his seal and signet-ring Broken before him. But now nothing moved The meekness of his soul. All things alike ! Among the six that came with the decree, FOSCARI saw one he knew not, and inquired His name.
'I am the son of MARCO MEMMO. “Ah!” he replied, " thy father was my friend.” And now he goes.
" It is the hour and past. I have no business here." 66 But wilt thou not Avoid the gazing crowd? That way is private.” “No! as I entered, so will I retire.” And, leaning on his staff, he left the house, His residence for five-and-thirty years,
By the same stairs up which he came in state;
Those where the giants stand, guarding the ascent,
Monstrous, terrific. At the foot he stopt,
And, on his staff still leaning, turned and said,
“By mine own merits did I come.
Driven by the malice of mine enemies."
Then to his boat withdrew, poor as he came,
Amid the sighs of them that dared not speak.
This journey was his last. When the bell rang
At dawn, announcing a new Doge to VENICE,
It found him on his knees before the cross,
Clasping his aged hands in earnest prayer;
And there he died. Ere half its task was done,
But whence the deadly hate That caused all this the hate of LOREDANO ? It was a legacy his father left, Who, but for FOSCARI, had reigned in Venice, And, like the venom in the serpent's bag, Gathered and grew! Nothing but turned to hate ! 112 In vain did FOSCARI supplicate for peace, Offering in marriage his fair ISABEL. He changed not, with a dreadful piety Studying revenge ; listening to those alone Who talked of vengeance ; grasping by the hand Those in their zeal (and none were wanting there) Who came to tell him of another wrong, Done or imagined. When his father died, They whispered, “’T was by poison !” and the words Struck him as uttered from his father's grave. He wrote it on the tomb 113 ('t is there in marble), And with a brow of care, most merchant-like,