« PreviousContinue »
When a spring-lock, that lay in ambush there, Fasten'a her down for ever!
It haunts me still, though many a year has fled, Like some wild melody!
Alone it hangs Over a mouldering heir-loom, its companion, An oaken-chest, half-eaten by the worm, But richly carved by Antony of Trent With scripture-stories from the Life of Christ; A chest that came from Venice, and had held The ducal robes of some old AncestorThat by the way-it may be true or falseBut don't forget the picture; and you will not, When you have heard the tale they told me there.
She was an only child—her name Ginevra, The joy, the pride of an indulgent Father; And in her fifteenth year became a bride, Marrying an only son, Francesco Doria, Her playmate from her birth, and her first love.
Just as she looks there in her bridal dress, She was all gentleness, all gaiety, Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue. But now the day was come, the day, the hour ; Now, frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time, The nurse, that ancient lady, preach'd decorum; And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave Her hand, with her heart in it, to Francesco.
'T was night; the noise and bustle of the day Were o'er. The mountebank no longer wrought Miraculous cures-he and his stage were gone; And he who, when the crisis of his tale Came, and all stood breathless with hope and fear, Sent round his cap; and he who thrumm'd his wire And sang, with pleading look and plaintive strain Melting the passenger. Thy thousand cries, So well pourtray'd and by a son of thine, Whiose voice had swell’d the hubbub in his youth, Were hush'd, Bologna; silence in the streets, The squares, when hark, the clattering of fleet hoofs; And soon a courier, posting as from far, Housing and holster, boot and belted coat And doublet, staind with many a various soil, Stopt and alighted. 'T was where hangs aloft That ancient sign, the pilgrim, welcoming All who arrive there, all perhaps save those Clad like himself, with staff and scallop-shell, Those on a pilgrimage: and now approach'd Wheels, tlırough the lofty porticoes resounding, Arch beyond arch, a shelter or a shade As the sky changes. To the gate they came; And, ere the man had half his story done, Mine host received the Master-one long used To sojourn among strangers, every where (Go where he would, along the wildest track) Flinging a charm that shall not soon be lost, And leaving footsteps to be traced by those Who love the haunts of Genius; one who saw, Observed, nor shunn'd the busy scenes of life, But mingled not, and, mid the din, the stir, Lived as a separate Spirit.
Much had pass'd Since last we parted; and those five short yearsMuch had they told! His clustering locks were turn'd Grey; nor did aught recall the Youth that swam From Sestos to Abydos. Yet his voice, Still it was sweet; still from his eye the thought Flash'd lightning-like, nor linger'd on the way, Waiting for words. Far, far into the night We sate, conversing-no unwelcome hour, The hour we met; and, when Aurora rose, Rising, we climb'd the rugged Apennine.
Great was the joy; but at the Nuptial feast, When all sate down, the Bride herself was wanting. Nor was she to be found! Her Father cried, " "T is but to make a trial of our love!, And fill'd his glass to all; but his hand shook, And soon from guest to guest the panic spread. 'T was but that instant she had left Francesco, Laughing and looking back and flying still, Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger. But now, alas, she was not to be found; Nor from that hour could any thing be guess'd, But that she was not!
Weary of his life, Francesco flew to Venice, and, embarking, Flung it away in battle with the Turk. Orsini lived--and long might you have seen Au old man wandering as in quest of something, Something he could not find—lie knew not what. When he was gone, the house remain'd awhile Silent and tenantless—then went to strangers,
Full fifty years were past, and all forgotten,
Why not remove it from its lurking-place?»
There then had she found a grave! Within that chest had she conceal'd herself, Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy;
Well I remember how the golden sun Fill'd with its beams the unfathomable gulfs, As on we travell’d, and along the ridge, 'Mid groves of cork and ciscus and wild fig, His motley household came-Not last nor least, Battista, who upon the moonlight-sea Of Venice, had so ably, zealously Served, and, at parting, flung his oar away To follow through the world ; who without stain Had worn so long that honourable badge,?
* See the Cries of Bologna, as drawn by Annibal Carracci. He was of very humble origin; and, to correct his brother's vanity, once sent him a portrait of tbeir father, the tailor, threading his needle.
2 The principal gondolier, il fante di poppa, was almost always in the confidence of his master, and employed on occasions that required judgment and address.
In this chapel wrought (55)
The gondolier's, in a Patrician House
He had just left that place
lle is now at rest;
There, on the seat that runs along the wall, South of the Church, east of the belfry-tower (Thou canst not miss it), in the sultry time Would Dante sit conversing (-6), and with those Who little thought that in his hand he held The balance, and assign'd at his good pleasure To each his place in the invisible world, To some an upper, some a lower region; Reserving in his secret mind a niche For thee, Salırello, who with quirks of law Hadst plagued him sore, and carefully requiting (77) Such as ere-long condemnd his mortal part To fire. (78) Sit down awhile-then by the gates Wondrously wrought, so beautiful, so glorious, That they might serve to be the gates of Heaven, Enter the Baptistery. That place he loved, Calling it his! And in his visits there Well might he take delight! For, when a child, Playing, with venturous feet, near and yet nearer One of the fonts, fell in, he flew and saved him, (79) 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 how toilsome The going up and down another's stairs.
They in thy train-ah, little did they think, As round we went, that they so soon should sit Mourning beside thee, while a Nation mourn'd, Changing her festal for her funeral song; That they so soon should hear the minute-gun, As morning gleam'd on what remain'd of thee, Roll o'er the sea, the mountains, numbering Thy years of joy and sorrow:
Thou art gone; And he who would assail thee in thy grave, Oh, let him pause! For who among us all, Tried as thou wert--even from thine earliest years, When wandering, yet unspoilt, a highland-boyTried as thou wert, and with thy soul of flame; Pleasure, while yet the down was on thy cheek, Uplifting, pressing, and to lips like thine, Her charmed cup-ah, who among us all Could say he had not err'd as much, and more?
Nor then forget that Chamber of the Dead (80), Where the gigantic forms of Night and Day, Turn'd into stone, rest everlastingly, Yet still are breathing; and shed round at noon A twofold influence-only to be feltA 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 (81). He meditates, his head upon his hand. What scowls beneath his broad and helm-like bonnet ? Is it a face, or but an eyeless scull? 'T is hid in shade; yet, like the basilisk, It fascinales, and is intolerable. His mien is noble, most majestical! Then most so, when the distant choir is heard,
1 Adrianum mare.--Cic.
? See the Prophecy of DANTE. 3 See the tale as told by Boccaccio and DRYDEN. * They wait for the traveller's carriage at the foot of every bill.
At morn or evenor fail thou to attend
But let not Sculpture, Painting, Poesy,
Our first homage is to Virtue.
That debt paid,
Or guilt or fear. Then Cosmo lifted
Well might De Thou,
One in a Cardinal's habit, one in black,
Well might be heave a sigh
ANONG the awful forms that stand assembled
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLORENCE.
Two of his sons, Giovanni and Garzia
'Tis morning. Let us wander through the fields,
Tracing his idle fancies on the ground;
And let us from the top of Fiesole,
Whence Galileo's glass by night observed
The phases of the moon, look round below
Are ploughing up and down among the vines,
While many a careless note is
Beautiful Florence, (91) all within thy walls,
| Thy groves and gardens, pinnacles and towers,
Drawn to our feet.
From that small spire, just caught
By the bright ray, that church among the rest (92)
By One of Old distinguish'd as The Bride,
Let us pursue in thought (what can we better?)
'Those who assembled there at matin-prayers;2 (93) 1 The Tribune. 2 Eleonora di Toledo.
* See the Decameron. First Day.
Who, when Vice revell'd apd along the street
Round the hill they went, (95)
open galleries and middle court
Who has not dwelt on their voluptuous day? The inorning-banquet by the fountain-side, (96) The dance that follow'd, 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 filld up with games Of Chess, and talk, and reading old Romances, Till supper-time, when many a syren-voice Sung down the stars, and in the grass the torches Burnt brighter for their absence.
He, 'whose dream It was (it was no more ) sleeps in Val d'Elsa, Sleeps in the church, where (in his ear, I ween) The Friar poured out his catalogue of treasures ; (97) A ray, imprimis, of the star that shone To the Wise Men; a phial-full of sounds, The musical chimes of the great bells that liung 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, Stretching away in the South-east, conceals it; Not so luis lowly roof and scanty farm, (98) Dis copse and rill, if yet a trace be left, Who lived in Val di Pesa, suffering long Exile and want, and the keen shafts of Malice, With an unclouded mind. The glimmering tower On the grey rock beneath, his land-mark once, Now serves for ours, and points out where he ate His bread with cheerfulness.
Who sees him not ('T is his own sketch -- he drew it from himself) (99) Playing the bird-catcher, and sallying forth In an autumnal morn, laden with cages,
To catch a thrush on every lime-twig there;
Nearer we hail
Well pleased, could we pursue
Nor did night or burning noon
• Michael Angelo.
And wash from thcir unharness'd limbs the blood Stood at her door; and, like a sorceress, flung
ller dazzling spell. Subtle she was, and rich,
Rich in a hidden pearl of heavenly light,
Her daughter's beauty; and too well she knew
Its virtuc! Patiently she stood and watch'd;
Nor stood alone--but spoke nol-In her breast
ller purpose lay; and, as a youth pass'd by,
Clad for the nuptial rite, she smiled and said,
Lifting a corner of the maiden's veil,
• This had I treasured up in secret for thee.
This liast thou lost!, He gazed and was undone!
Forgetting-not forgor--he broke the bond,
At the bridge-foot; (111) and hence a world of woe!
No intermission! Law, that slumbers not,
And, like the Angel with the faming sword,
Ilimself the Avenger, went; and every street
Ran red with mutual slaughter-though sometimes
The young forgot the lessons they had learnt,
And loved when they should hate-like thee, Imelda,
In that still hour (the heat, the glare was gone,
A radiance stream'd like a consuming fire,
As though the glorious orb, in its descent,
Had come and rested there) when last ye met,
And those relentless brothers draged him forth,
It had been well, hadst thou slept on, Imelda, (112)
Nor from thy trance of fear awaked, as night
Fell on that fatal spot, to wish thec dead,
Then Ding thee down to catch a word, a look,
A sigh, if yet thou couldst (alas, thou couldst not)
Sucking the poison. (113)
Yet, when Slavery came,
Worse follow'd. (114) Genius, valour left the land.
Indignant-all that had from age to age
Adornd, ennobled; and bead-long they fell,
Done in broad day and more than half redeem à
By many a great and generous sacrifice
Of self to others, came the unpledged bowl,
The stab of the stiletto. Gliding by
Unnoticed, in sloucli'd hat and muffling cloak,
of llame, Yet not such only. For look round and say,
The Bravo took his stand, and o'er the shoulder
Slanting (a surer path, as some averr'd)
Struck upward--then slupk off, or, if pursued,
Made for the Sanctuary, and there along
The glimmering aisle among the worshippers
Wanderd with restless step and jealous look,
Misnamed to lull suspicion,
In every Palace was The Laboratory, (15)
Where he within brew'd poisons swift and slow,
That scatter'd terror till all things seem'd poisonous,
A nosegay or a letter; while the Great
Drank from the Venice-glass, that broke, that shiver'd,
Jf aught malignant, auglit of thine was there,
Cruel Tophana ;(116) and pawn d provinces