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Their dark eyes flashed no longer, yet, methought,
In many a glance as from the soul, disclosed
More than enough to serve them. Far or near,
Few looked not for their coming ere they came,
Few, when they went, but looked till they were gone ;
And not a matron, sitting at her wheel,
But could repeat their story. Twins they were,
And orphans, as I learnt, cast on the world;
Their parents lost in an old ferry-boat
That, three years since, last Martinmas, went down,
Crossing the rough BENACUS.* - May they live
Blameless and happy-rich they cannot be,
Like him who, in the days of Minstrelsy, t
Came in a beggar's weeds to PETRARCH's door,
* The lake of Catullus; and now called Il lago di Garda. Its waves, in the north, lash the mountains of the Tyrol; and it was there, at the little village of Limone, that Hofer embarked, when in the hands of the enemy and on his way to Mantua, where, in the court-yard of the citadel, he was shot as a traitor. Less fortunate than Tell, yet not less illustrious, he was watched by many a mournful eye as he came down the lake; and his name will live long in the heroic songs of his country.
He lies buried at Innspruck in the church of the Holy Cross ; and the statue on his tomb represents him in his habit as he lived and as he died.
+ Petrarch, Epist. Rer. Sen. I. v. ep. 3.
Asking, beseeching for a lay to sing,
And soon in silk (such then the power of
Returned to thank him; or like that old man,
Old, not in heart, who by the torrent-side
Descending from the Tyrol, as Night fell,
Knocked at a City-gate near the hill-foot,
The gate that bore so long, sculptured in stone,
An eagle on a ladder, and at once
Found welcome-nightly in the bannered hall
Tuning his harp to tales of Chivalry
Before the great Mastino, and his guests, *
Mastino de la Scala, the Lord of Verona. Cortusio, the embassador and historian, saw him so surrounded.
This house had been always open to the unfortunate. In the days of Can Grande all were welcome; Poets, Philosophers, Artists, Warriors. Each had his apartment, each a separate table; and at įthe hour of dinner musicians and jesters went from room to room. Dante, as we learn from himself, found an asylum there.
“Lo primo tuo rifugio, e'l primo ostello
Sarà la cortesia del gran Lombardo,
Che'n su la scala porta il santo uccello.”
Their tombs in the public street carry us back into the times of barbarous virtue; nor less so do those of the Carrara Princes at Padua, though less singular and striking in themselves. Francis Carrara, the Elder, used often to visit Petrarch in his small house at Arquà, and followed him on foot to his grave.
The three-and-twenty kings, by adverse fate,
By war or treason or domestic strife,
Reft of their kingdoms, friendless, shelterless,
And living on his bounty.
But who comes,
Brushing the floor with what was once, methinks,
A hat of ceremony? On he glides,
Slip-shod, ungartered ; his long suit of black
Dingy, thread-bare, tho', patch by patch, renewed
Till it has almost ceased to be the same.
At length arrived, and with a shrug that pleads
' 'Tis my necessity ! he stops and speaks,
Screwing a smile into his dinnerless face.
· Blame not a Poet, Signor, for his zeal-
When all are on the wing, who would be last ?
The splendour of thy name has gone before thee;
And Italy from sea to sea exults,
As well indeed she may! But I transgress.*
He, who has known the weight of Praise himself,
Should spare another.' Saying so, he laid
His sonnet, an impromptu, at my feet,
(If his, then PETRARCH must have stolen it from him)
* See the Heraclide of Euripides, v. 203, &c.
And bowed and left me; in his hollow hand
Receiving my small tribute, a zecchine,
Unconsciously, as doctors do their fees.
My omelet, and a flagon of hill-wine,
Pure as the virgin-spring, had happily
Fled from all eyes ; or, in a waking dream,
I might have sat as many a great man has,
And many a small, like him of Santillane,
Bartering my bread and salt for empty praise.*
Am I in ITALY? Is this the Mincius ?
Are those the distant turrets of Verona ?
And shall I sup where JULIET at the Masque
Saw her loved MONTAGUE, and now sleeps by him ?
Such questions hourly do I ask myself;
And not a stone, in a cross-way, inscribed
" To Mantua'--To Ferrara'—but excites
Surprise, and doubt, and self-congratulation.
O ITALY, how beautiful thou art !
Yet I could weep—for thou art lying, alas,
Low in the dust; and we admire thee now
As we admire the beautiful in death.
Thine was a dangerous gift, when thou wert born,
The gift of Beauty. Would thou hadst it not;
Or wert as once, awing the caitiffs vile
That now beset thee, making thee their slave!
Would they had loved thee less, or feared thee more!
-But why despair ? Twice hast thou lived already;