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Relating in a ring, to banish care,
Their hundred tales.*

Round the green hill they wept,
Round underneath—first to a splendid house,
Gherardi, as an old tradition runs,
That on the left, just rising from the vale;
A place for Luxury—the painted rooms,
The open galleries and middle court
Not unprepared, fragrant and gay with flowers.
Then westward to another, nobler yet ;
That on the right, now known as the Palmieri,
Where Art with Nature vied — a Paradise
With verdurous walls, and many a trellissed walk
All rose and jasmine, many a twilight-glade
Crossed by the deer. Then to the Ladies' Vale ;
And the clear lake, that as by magic seemed
To lift up to the surface every stone
Of lustre there, and the diminutive fish
Innumerable, dropt with crimson and gold,
Now motionless, now glancing to the sun.

* Once, on a bright November-morning, I set out and traced them, as I conceived, step by step; beginning and ending in the Church of Santa Maria Novella. It was a walk delightful in itself and in its associations.

Who has not dwelt on their voluptuous day? The morning-banquet by the fountain-side, * While the small birds rejoiced on every bough ; The dance that followed, and the noon-tide slumber; Then the tales told in turn, as round they lay On carpets, the fresh waters murmuring; And the short interval of pleasant talk Till supper-time, when many a siren-voice Sung down the stars; and, as they left the sky, The torches, planted in the sparkling grass, And every where among the glowing flowers, Burnt bright and brighter. Het whose dream it was, (It was no more) sleeps in a neighbouring vale; Sleeps in the church, where, in his ear, I ween, The Friar poured out his wondrous catalogue; I A ray, imprimis, of the star that shone To the Wise Men; a vial-ful of sounds, The musical chimes of the great bells that hung In Solomon's Temple; and, though last not least, A feather from the Angel GABRIEL's wing, Dropt in the Virgin's chamber. That dark ridge,

* At three o'clock. Three hours after sun-rise, according to the old manner of reckoning. + BOCCACCIO,

# Decameron, vi. 10.

Stretching south-east, conceals it from our sight;
Not so his lowly roof and scanty farm,
His

copse and rill, if yet a trace be left,
Who lived in Val di Pesa, suffering long
Want and neglect and (far, far worse) reproach,
With calm, unclouded mind.* The glimmering tower
On the

rock beneath, his land-mark once,
Now serves for ours, and points out where he ate
His bread with cheerfulness. Who sees him not
('Tis his own sketch—he drew it from himself+)
Laden with cages from his shoulder slung,
And sallying forth, while yet the morn is grey,
To catch a thrush on every lime-twig there ;
Or in the wood among his wood-cutters ;
Or in the tavern by the highway-side
At tric-trac with the miller; or at night,
Doffing his rustic suit, and, duly clad,
Entering his closet, and, among his books,
Among the Great of every age and clime,
A numerous court, turning to whom he pleased,
Questioning each why he did this or that,

grey

* MACCHIAVEL.

+ See a very interesting letter from Macchiavel to Francesco Vettori, dated the 10th of December, 1513.

And learning how to overcome the fear
Of poverty and death ?

Nearer we hail
Thy sunny slope, ARCETRI, sung of Old
For its green wine ; * dearer to me, to most,
As dwelt on by that great Astronomer,
Seven years a prisoner at the city-gate,
Let in but in his grave-clothes. Sacred be
His villa (justly was it called The Gem !+)
Sacred the lawn, where many a cypress

threw Its length of shadow, while he watched the stars !

* La Verdea.

+ Il Giojello.

[graphic]

*

Sacred the vineyard, where, while yet his sight
Glimmered, at blush of morn he dressed his vines,
Chanting aloud in gaiety of heart
Some verse of ARIOSTO!

-There, unseen,
In manly beauty Milton stood before him,
Gazing with reverent awe-Milton, his guest,
Just then come forth, all life and enterprise ;
He in his old age and extremity,
Blind, at noon-day exploring with his staff;
His eyes upturned as to the golden sun,
His eye-balls idly rolling. Little then
Did GALILEO think whom he received ;
That in his hand he held the hand of one
Who could requite him—who would spread his name
O'er lands and seas-great as himself, nay greater ;
Milton as little that in him he saw,
As in a glass, what he himself should be,
Destined so soon to fall on evil days

* Milton went to Italy in 1638.

“ There it was,” says he, “ that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition.” “Old and blind,' he might have said. Galileo, by his own account, became blind in December, 1637. Milton, as we learn from the date of Sir Henry Wotton's letter to him, had not left England on the 18th of April following.–See Tiraboschi, and Wotton's Remains.

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