« PreviousContinue »
says the Bard, and who can read and doubt?) Dwelt in and governed.
Sit thee down awhile; Then, by the gates so marvellously wrought, That they might serve to be the gates of Heaven, * Enter the Baptistery. That place he loved, Loved as his own;t and in his visits there Well might he take delight! For when a child, Playing, as many are wont, with venturous feet Near and yet nearer to the sacred font, Slipped and fell in, he flew and rescued him, Flew with an energy, a violence, That broke the marble—a mishap ascribed To evil motives ; his, alas, to lead A life of trouble, and ere long to leave All things most dear to him, ere long to know How salt another's bread is, and the toil Of going up and down another's stairs. I
Nor then forget that Chamber of the Dead,
* A saying of Michael Angelo. They are the work of Lorenzo Ghiberti,
+ “Mio bel san Giovanni.'— Inferno, 19. # Paradiso, 17.
ỹ The Chapel de' Depositi; in which are the tombs of the Medici, by Michael Angelo.
Where the gigantic shapes of Night and Day,
Turned into stone, rest everlastingly;
Yet still are breathing, and shed round at noon
A two-fold influence-only to be felt-
A light, a darkness, mingling each with each ;
Both and yet neither. There, from age to age,
Two Ghosts are sitting on their sepulchres.
That is the Duke LORENZO. Mark him well.*
He meditates, his head
What from beneath his helm-like bonnet scowls?
Is it a face, or but an eyeless skull ?
'Tis lost in shade; yet, like the basilisk,
It fascinates, and is intolerable.
His mien is noble, most majestical!
Then most so, when the distant choir is heard
At morn or eve-nor fail thou to attend
On that thrice-hallowed day, when all are there;t
When all, propitiating with solemn songs,
* He died early ; living only to become the father of Catherine de Medicis. Had an Evil Spirit assumed the human shape to propagate mischief, he could not have done better.
The statue is larger than the life, but not so large as to shock belief. It is the most real and unreal thing thatever came from the chisel.
The day of All Souls : Il dì de' Morti.
Visit the Dead. Then wilt thou feel his Power!
But let not Sculpture, Painting, Poesy,
Or They, the Masters of these mighty Spells,
Our first homage is to Virtue.
Where, in what dungeon of the Citadel,
(It must be known—the writing on the wall *
Cannot be gone—'twas with the blade cut in,
Ere, on his knees to God, he slew himself,)
Did He, the last, the noblest Citizen,t
Breathe out his soul, lest in the torturing hour
He might accuse the Guiltless ?
That debt paid,
But with a sigh, a tear for human frailty,
We may return, and once more give a loose
To the delighted spirit-worshipping,
In her small temple of rich workmanship, I
VENUS herself, who, when she left the skies,
“ Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor !” Perhaps there is nothing in language more affecting than his last testament. It is addressed “To God, the Deliverer,' and was found steeped in his blood. † FILIPPO STROZZI.
# The Tribune.
Among those awful forms, in elder time
Assembled, and through many an after-age
Destined to stand as Genii of the Place
Where men most meet in FLORENCE, may be seen
His who first played the Tyrant. Clad in mail,
But with his helmet off—in kingly state,
Aloft he sits upon his horse of brass;
And they, that read the legend underneath,
Cosmo, the first Grand Duke.
Go and pronounce him happy. Yet, methinks,
There is a Chamber that, if walls could speak,
Would turn their admiration into pity.
Half of what passed, died with him; but the rest,
All he discovered when the fit was on,
All that, by those who listened, could be gleaned
From broken sentences and starts in sleep,
Is told, and by an honest Chronicler.*
Two of his sons, GIOVANNI and Garza,
(The eldest had not seen his nineteenth summer)
Went to the chase; but only one returned.
GIOVANNI, when the huntsman blew his horn
O'er the last stag that started from the brake,
And in the heather turned to stand at bay,
Appeared not; and at close of day was found
Bathed in his innocent blood. Too well, alas,
The trembling Cosmo guessed the deed, the doer;
And, having caused the body to be borne
In secret to that Chamber—at an hour
When all slept sound, save she who bore them both,t
+ ELEONORA DI TOLEDO. Of the Children that survived her, one fell by a brother, one by a husband, and a third murdered his wife. But that family was soon to become extinct. It is