Page images

And with her brother, as when last we met
(When the first lark had sung ere half was said,
And as she stood, bidding adieu, her voice,
So sweet it was, recalled me like a spell)
Who but Angelica? That day we gave
To pleasure, and, unconscious of their flight,
Another and another! hers a home

Dropt from the sky amid the wild and rude,
Loretto-like; where all was as a dream,
A dream spun out of some Arabian tale
Read or related in a jasmine bower,

Some balmy eve. The rising moon we hailed,
Duly, devoutly, from a vestibule

Of many an arch, o'er-wrought and lavishly
With many a labyrinth of sylphs and flowers,

When RAPHAEL and his school from FLORENCE came,


nor less oft

Filling the land with splendor 2
Watched her, declining, from a silent dell,
Not silent once, what time in rivalry
TASSO, GUARINI, waved their wizard-wands,
Peopling the groves from Arcady, and, lo!
Fair forms appeared, murmuring melodious verse,
Then, in their day, a sylvan theatre,

Mossy the seats, the stage a verdurous floor,
The scenery rock and shrub-wood, Nature's own;
Nature the architect.



GENEROUS, and ardent, and as romantic as he could be, MONTORIO was in his earliest youth, when, on a summerevening not many years ago, he arrived at the Baths of With a heavy heart, and with many a blessing on his head, he had set out on his travels at day-break. It was his first flight from home; but he was now to enter the world; and the moon was up and in the zenith when he alighted at the Three Moors, 213 a venerable house of vast dimensions, and anciently a palace of the Albertini family, whose arms were emblazoned on the walls.

Every window was full of light, and great was the stir, above and below; but his thoughts were on those he had left so lately; and, retiring early to rest, and to a couch the very first for which he had ever exchanged his own, he was soon among them once more; undisturbed in his sleep by the music that came at intervals from a pavilion in the garden, where some of the company had assembled to dance.

But, secluded as he was, he was not secure from intrusion; and Fortune resolved on that night to play a frolic in his chamber, a frolic that was to determine the color of his life. Boccaccio himself has not recorded a wilder; nor would he, if he had known it, have left the story untold.

At the first glimmering of day he awaked; and, looking round, he beheld-it could not be an illusion; yet anything so lovely, so angelical, he had never seen before no, not even in his dreams a lady still younger than himself, and in the profoundest, the sweetest slumber by his side. But, while he gazed, she was gone, and through a door that had escaped his notice. Like a zephyr she trod

the floor with her dazzling and beautiful feet, and, while he gazed, she was gone. Yet still he gazed; and, snatching up a bracelet which she had dropt in her flight, "Then she is earthly!" he cried. "But whence could she come? All innocence, all purity, she must have wandered in her sleep." 214

When he arose, his anxious eyes sought her everywhere; but in vain. Many of the young and the gay were abroad, and moving as usual in the light of the morning; but, among them all, there was nothing like her. Within or without, she was nowhere to be seen; and, at length, in his despair he resolved to address himself to his hostess.

and her two daughters,

"Who were my nearest neighbors in that turret?" "The Marchioness de the ladies Clara and Violetta; the youngest beautiful as the day!"

"And where are they now?"

"They are gone; but we cannot say whither. They set out soon after sunrise."

At a late hour they had left the pavilion, and had retired to their toilet-chamber, a chamber of oak richly carved, that had once been an oratory, and, afterwards, what was no less essential to a house of that antiquity, a place of resort for two or three ghosts of the family. But, having long lost its sanctity, it had now lost its terrors; and, gloomy as its aspect was, Violetta was soon sitting there alone. "Go," said she to her sister, when her mother withdrew for the night, and her sister was preparing to follow, "go, Clara. I will not be long." And down she sat to a chapter of the Promessi Sposi.15

But she might well forget her promise, forgetting where she was. She was now under the wand of an enchanter;

and she read and read till the clock struck three, and the taper flickered in the socket. She started up as from a trance; she threw off her wreath of roses; she gathered her tresses into a net; 216 and, snatching a last look in the mirror, her eyelids heavy with sleep, and the light glimmering and dying, she opened a wrong door, a door that had been left unlocked; and, stealing along on tip-toe, (how often may Innocence wear the semblance of Guilt!) she lay down as by her sleeping sister; and instantly, almost before the pillow on which she reclined her head had done sinking, her sleep was as the sleep of childhood.


When morning came, a murmur strange to her ear alarmed What could it be? -Where was she? she looked not; she listened not; but, like a fawn from the covert, up she sprung and was gone.

It was she, then, that he sought; it was she who, so unconsciously, had taught him to love; and, night and day, he pursued her, till in the Cathedral of Perugia he discovered her at a solemn service, as she knelt between her mother and her sister among the rich and the poor.

From that hour did he endeavor to win her regard by every attention, every assiduity that love could dictate; nor did he cease till he had won it, and till she had consented to be his but never did the secret escape from his lips; nor was it till some years afterwards that he said to her, on an anniversary of their nuptials, "Violetta, it was a joyful day to me, a day from which I date the happiness of my life; but, if marriages are written in heaven," and, as he spoke, he restored to her arm the bracelet which he had treasured up so long, "how strange are the circumstances by which they are sometimes brought about; for, if you had not lost yourself, Violetta, I might never have found you."


I AM in ROME! Oft as the morning-ray
Visits these eyes, waking at once I cry,
Whence this excess of joy? What has befallen me?
And from within a thrilling voice replies,
Thou art in ROME! A thousand busy thoughts
Rush on my mind, a thousand images;

And I spring up as girt to run a race!
Thou art in ROME! the city that so long
Reigned absolute, the mistress of the world;
The mighty vision that the prophets saw,
And trembled; that from nothing, from the least,
The lowliest village (what but here and there
A reed-roofed cabin by the river-side?)
Grew into everything; and, year by year,
Patiently, fearlessly, working her way
O'er brook and field, o'er continent and sea,
Not like the merchant with his merchandise,
Or traveller with staff and scrip exploring,
But ever hand to hand and foot to foot,
Through nations numberless in battle-array,
Each behind each, each, when the other fell,
Up and in arms, at length subdued them all.
Thou art in ROME! the city, where the Gauls,
Entering at sunrise through her open gates,
And, through her streets silent and desolate,
Marching to slay, thought they saw gods, not men;
The city, that, by temperance, fortitude,
And love of glory, towered above the clouds,
Then fell — but, falling, kept the highest seat,

« PreviousContinue »