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CAIUS CESTIUS.

WHEN I am inclined to be serious, I love to wander up and down before the tomb of CAIUS CESTIUS. The Protestant burial-ground is there; and most of the little monuments are erected to the young; young men of promise, cut off when on their travels, full of enthusiasm, full of enjoyment; brides, in the bloom of their beauty, on their first journey; or children borne from home in search of health. This stone was placed by his fellow-travellers, young as himself, who will return to the house of his parents without him; that, by a husband or a father, now in his native country. His heart is buried in that grave.

It is a quiet and sheltered nook, covered in the winter with violets; and the Pyramid, that overshadows it, gives it a classical and singularly solemn air. You feel an interest there, a sympathy you were not prepared for. You are yourself in a foreign land; and they are for the most part your countrymen. They call upon you in your mothertongue in English-in words unknown to a native, known only to yourself; and the tomb of CESTIUS, that old majestic pile, has this also in common with them. It is itself a stranger, among strangers. It has stood there till the language spoken round about it has changed; and the shepherd, born at the foot, can read its inscription no longer. 32

THE NUN.

'TIS Over; and her lovely cheek is now
On her hard pillow-there, alas! to be
Nightly, through many and many a dreary hour,
Wan, often wet with tears, and (ere at length
Her place is empty, and another comes)
In anguish, in the ghastliness of death;
Hers never more to leave those mournful walls,
Even on her bier.

'Tis over; and the rite,
With all its pomp and harmony, is now
Floating before her. She arose at home,
To be the show, the idol of the day;
Her vesture gorgeous, and her starry head
No rocket, bursting in the midnight-sky,
So dazzling. When to-morrow she awakes,
She will awake as though she still was there,
Still in her father's house; and, lo! a cell

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Narrow and dark, naught through the gloom discerned,
Naught save the crucifix, the rosary,
And the gray habit lying by to shroud
Her beauty and grace.

When on her knees she fell, Entering the solemn place of consecration, And from the latticed gallery came a chant Of psalms, most saint-like, most angelical, Verse after verse sung out how holily, The strain returning, and still, still returning, Methought it acted like a spell upon her, And she was casting off her earthly dross;

Yet was it sad as sweet, and, ere it closed,

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Came like a dirge. When her fair head was shorn,
And the long tresses in her hands were laid,
That she might fling them from her, saying, "Thus,
Thus I renounce the world and worldly things!
When, as she stood, her bridal ornaments
Were, one by one, removed, even to the last,
That she might say, flinging them from her, "Thus,
Thus I renounce the world!" when all was changed,
And, as a nun, in homeliest guise she knelt,
Distinguished only by the crown she wore,
Her crown of lilies as the spouse of Christ,
Well might her strength forsake her, and her knees
Fail in that hour! Well might the holy man,
He, at whose feet she knelt, give as by stealth
('T was in her utmost need; nor, while she lives
Will it go from her, fleeting as it was)
That faint but fatherly smile, that smile of love
And pity!

Like a dream the whole is fled;
And they, that came in idleness to gaze
Upon the victim dressed for sacrifice,
Are mingling in the world; thou in thy cell
Forgot, TERESA. Yet, among them all,
None were so formed to love and to be loved,
None to delight, adorn; and on thee now
A curtain, blacker than the night, is dropped
Forever! In thy gentle bosom sleep
Feelings, affections, destined now to die,
To wither like the blossom in the bud, -
Those of a wife, a mother; leaving there
A cheerless void, a chill as of the grave,

-

A languor and a lethargy of soul,
Death-like, and gathering more and more, till Death
Comes to release thee. Ah! what now to thee,
What now to thee the treasure of thy youth?
As nothing!

But thou canst not yet reflect
Calmly; so many things, strange and perverse,
That meet, recoil, and go but to return,
The monstrous birth of one eventful day,
Troubling thy spirit — from the first at dawn,
The rich arraying for the nuptial feast,

To the black pall, the requiem. All in turn
Revisit thee, and round thy lowly bed
Hover, uncalled. Thy young and innocent heart,
How is it beating? Has it no regrets?
Discoverest thou no weakness lurking there?
But thine exhausted frame has sunk to rest.
Peace to thy slumbers!

THE FIRE-FLY.

THERE is an insect, that, when evening comes,
Small though he be and scarce distinguishable,
Like Evening clad in soberest livery,

Unsheathes his wings 266 and through the woods and glades
Scatters a marvellous splendor. On he wheels,

267

Blazing by fits as from excess of joy,'
Each gush of light a gush of ecstasy;
Nor unaccompanied; thousands that fling
A radiance all their own, not of the day,

Thousands as bright as he, from dusk till dawn,

Soaring, descending.

In the mother's lap Well may the child put forth his little hands, Singing the nursery-song he learnt so soon; And the young nymph, preparing for the dance 200 By brook or fountain-side, in many a braid Wreathing her golden hair, well may she cry, "Come hither; and the shepherds, gathering round, Shall say, Floretta emulates the Night, Spangling her head with stars."

268

Oft have I met
This shining race, when in the TUSCULAN groves
My path no longer glimmered; oft among
Those trees, religious once and always green,
That still dream out their stories of old ROME
Over the ALBAN lake; oft met and hailed,
Where the precipitate ANIO thunders down,
And through the surging mist a poet's house
(So some aver, and who would not believe?) 271
Reveals itself. Yet cannot I forget

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Him, who rejoiced me in those walks at eve,
My earliest, pleasantest; who dwells unseen,
And in our northern clime, when all is still,
Nightly keeps watch, nightly in bush or brake
His lonely lamp rekindling. Unlike theirs,
His, if less dazzling, through the darkness knows
No intermission; sending forth its ray
Through the green leaves, a ray serene and clear
As Virtue's own.

32*

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