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Glimmering or heard, but when he spoke, who | Each in his hand bearing his cap and plume,
Over the lantern at the prow, and cried,
Turning the corner of some reverend pile,
Some school or hospital of old renown,
And, as he walk'd, with modest dignity
Folding his scarlet mantle, his tabarro.
They join, they enter in, and, up the aisle,
Led by the full-voiced choir in bright procession,
Though haply none were coming, none were near, Range round the altar. In his vestments there "Hasten or slacken." ""*
But at length night fled;
And with her fled, scattering, the sons of pleasure.
Star after star shot by, or meteor-like,
Cross'd me and vanish'd-lost at once among
Those hundred isles that tower majestically,
That rise abruptly from the water mark,
Not with rough crag, but marble, and the work
Of noblest architects. I linger'd still;
Nor struck my threshold, till the hour was come
And past, when, flitting home in the gray light,
The young Bianca found her father's door,
That door so often with a trembling hand,
So often-then so lately left ajar,
Shut; and, all terror, all perplexity,
Now by her lover urged, now by her love,
Fled o'er the waters to return no more.
THE BRIDES OF VENICE.
Ir was St. Mary's eve, and all pour'd forth
As to some grand solemnity. The fisher
Came from his islet, bringing o'er the waves
His wife and little one; the husbandman
From the firm land, along the Po, the Brenta,
Crowding the common ferry. All arrived;
And in his straw the prisoner turn'd and listen'd,
So great the stir in Venice. Old and young
Throng'd her three hundred bridges; the grave Turk,
Turban'd, long vested, and the cozening Jew,
In yellow hat and threadbare gaberdine,
Hurrying along. For, as the custom was,
The noblest sons and daughters of the state,
They of patrician birth, the flower of Venice,
Whose names are written in the book of gold,
Were on that day to solemnize their nuptials.
At noon, a distant murmur through the crowd,
Rising and rolling on, announced their coming;
And never from the first was to be seen
Such splendour or such beauty. Two and two,
(The richest tapestry unroll'd before them,)
First came the brides in all their loveliness;
Each in her veil, and by two bridemaids follow'd,
Only less lovely, who behind her bore
The precious caskets that within contain'd
The dowry and the presents. On she moved,
Her eyes cast down, and holding in her hand
A fan, that gently waved, of ostrich feathers.
Her veil, transparent as the gossamer,
Fell from beneath a starry diadem ;
And on her dazzling neck a jewel shone,
Ruby, or diamond, or dark amethyst;
A jewell'd chain, in many a winding wreath,
Wreathing her gold brocade.
That venerable pile on the sea brink,
Another train they met, no strangers to them,
Brothers to some, and to the rest still dearer;
The patriarch stands; and, while the anthem flows,
Who can look on unmoved?-mothers in secret
Rejoicing in the beauty of their daughters,
Sons in the thought of making them their own;
And they, array'd in youth and innocence,
Their beauty heighten'd by their hopes and fears.
At length the rite is ending. All fall down
In earnest prayer, all of all ranks together;
And, stretching out his hands, the holy man
Proceeds to give the general benediction ;
When hark, a din of voices from without,
And shrieks, and groans, and outcries as in battle;
And lo, the door is burst, the curtain rent,
And armed ruffians, robbers from the deep,
Savage, uncouth, led on by Barbarigo,
And his six brothers in their coats of steel,
Are standing on the threshold! Statue-like,
A while they gaze on the fallen multitude,
Each with his sabre up, in act to strike;
Then, as at once recovering from the spell,
Rush forward to the altar, and as soon
Are gone again-amid no clash of arms
Bearing away the maidens and the treasures.
Where are they now?-ploughing the distant
Their sails all set, and they upon the deck
Standing triumphant. To the east they go,
Steering for Istria; their accursed barks
(Well are they known, the galliot and the galley)
Freighted with all that gives to life its value!
The richest argosies were poor to them!
Now might you see the matrons running wild
Along the beach; the men half arm'd and arming,
One with a shield, one with a casque and spear;
One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain
Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank,
But on that day was drifting. In an hour
Half Venice was afloat. But long before,
Frantic with grief and scorning all control,
The youths were gone in a light brigantine,
Lying at anchor near the arsenal;
Each having sworn, and by the holy rood,
To slay or to be slain.
And from the tower
The watchman gives the signal. In the east,
A ship is seen, and making for the port;
Her flag St. Mark's.-And now she turns the point.
Over the waters like a sea-bird flying!
Ha, 'tis the same, 'tis theirs! from stern to prow
Hung with green boughs, she comes, she comes, re-
All that was lost.
Coasting, with narrow search
Friuli-like a tiger in his spring,
They had surprised the corsairs where they lay
Sharing the spoil in blind security
And casting lots-had slain them, one and all,
All to the last, and flung them far and wide
Into the sea, their proper element;
Him first, as first in rank, whose name so long
Had hush'd the babes of Venice, and who yet, Breathing a little, in his look retain'd
The fierceness of his soul.
Must sit and look on a beloved son
Twice, to die in peace To save a falling house, and turn the hearts Of his fell adversaries, those who now,
Thus were the brides Lost and recover'd; and what now remain'd But to give thanks? Twelve breast-plates and Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running down
Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings
Of the young victors to their patron saint,
Vow'd on the field of battle, were ere long
Laid at his feet; and to preserve for ever
The memory of a day so full of change,
From joy to grief, from grief to joy again,
Through many an age, as oft as it came round,
'Twas held religiously with all observance.
The doge resign'd his crimson for pure ermine;
And through the city in a stately barge
Of gold, were borne, with songs and symphonies,
Twelve ladies young and noble. Clad they were
In bridal white with bridal ornaments,
Each in her glittering veil; and on the deck,
As on a burnish'd throne, they glided by;
No window or balcony but adorn'd
With hangings of rich texture, not a roof
But cover'd with beholders, and the air
Vocal with joy. Onward they went, their oars
Moving in concert with the harmony,
Through the Rialto to the ducal palace;
And at a banquet there, served with due honour,
Sate representing, in the eyes of all,
Eyes not unwet, I ween, with grateful tears,
Their lovely ancestors, the brides of Venice.
LET us lift up the curtain, and observe What passes in that chamber. Now a sigh, And now a groan is heard. Then all is still. Twenty are sitting as in judgment there;
His last of four, twice did he ask their leave
To lay aside the crown, and they refused him,
An oath exacting, never more to ask it;
And there he sits, a spectacle of wo,
By them, his rivals in the state, compell'd,
Such the refinement of their cruelty,
To keep the place he sigh'd for.
The screw is turn'd; and, as it turns, the son
Looks up, and, in a faint and broken accent,
Murmurs "My father!" the old man shrinks back,
And in his mantle muffles up his face.
"Art thou not guilty?" says a voice, that once
Would greet the sufferer long before they met,
And on his ear strike like a pleasant music-
"Art thou not guilty ?"-" No! indeed I am not !"
But all is unavailing. In that court
Groans are confessions; patience, fortitude,
The work of magic; and, released, upheld
For condemnation, from his father's lips
He hears the sentence, "Banishment to Candia:
Death, if he leaves it."
And the bark sets sail;
And he is gone from all he loves-for ever!
His wife, his boys, and his disconsolate parents!
Gone in the dead of night-unseen of any-
Without a word, a look of tenderness,
To be call'd up, when, in his lonely hours,
He would indulge in weeping.
Day after day, year after year he haunts
An ancient rampart, that o'erhangs the sea;
Gazing on vacancy, and hourly starting
Men who have served their country, and grown To answer to the watch-Alas, how changed
In governments and distant embassies,
Men eminent alike in war and peace;
Such as in effigy shall long adorn
The walls of Venice-to show what she has been!
Their garb is black, and black the arras is,
And sad the general aspect. Yet their looks
Are calm, are cheerful; nothing there like grief,
Nothing or harsh or cruel. Still that noise,
That low and dismal moaning.
A little to the left, sits one in crimson,
A venerable man, fourscore and upward.
Cold drops of sweat stand on his furrow'd brow,
His hands are clench'd; his eyes half shut and
His shrunk and wither'd limbs rigid as marble.
'Tis Foscari, the doge. And there is one,
A young man, lying at his feet, stretch'd out
In torture. 'Tis his son, his only one;
'Tis Giacomo, the blessing of his age,
(Say, has he lived for this ?) accused of murder,
The murder of the senator Donato.
Last night the proofs, if proofs they are, were dropt
Into the lion's mouth, the mouth of brass,
That gapes and gorges; and the doge himself
From him, the mirror of the youth of Venice,
In whom the slightest thing, or whim, or chance,
Did he but wear his doublet so and so,
All follow'd; at whose nuptials, when at length
He won that maid at once the fairest, noblest,
A daughter of the house of Contarini,
That house as old as Venice, now among
Its ancestors in monumental brass
Numbering eight doges-to convey her home
The bùcentaur went forth; and thrice the sun
Shone on the chivalry, that, front to front,
And blaze on blaze reflecting, met and ranged,
To tournay in St. Mark's.
But lo, at last,
Messengers come. He is recall'd: his heart
Leaps at the tidings. He embarks: the boat
Springs to the oar, and back again he goes-
Into that very chamber! there to lie
In his old resting-place, the bed of torture;
And thence look up (five long, long years of grief
Have not kill'd either) on his wretched sire,
Still in that seat-as though he had not left it,
Immovable, enveloped in his mantle.
But now he comes, convicted of a crime Great by the laws of Venice. Night and day, Brooding on what he had been, what he was
"Twas more than he could bear. His longing fits
Thicken'd upon him. His desire for home
Became a madness; and, resolved to go,
If but to die, in his despair he writes
A letter to Francesco, Duke of Milan,
Soliciting his influence with the state,
And drops it to be found." Would ye know all ?
I have transgress'd, offended wilfully;
And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
me, let me,
if but for an instant,
(Ye must consent-for all of you are sons
Most of you husbands, fathers,) let me first
Indulge the natural feelings of a man,
And, ere I die, if such my sentence be,
Press to my heart ('tis all I ask of you)
My wife, my children—and my aged mother-
Say, is she yet alive?"
To go ere set of sun, go whence he came,
A banish'd man-and for a year to breathe
The vapour of a dungeon.-But his prayer
(What could they less?) is granted.
In a hall
Open and crowded by the common rabble,
"Twas there a trembling wife and her four sons
Yet young, a mother, borne along, bedridden,
And an old doge, mustering up all his strength,
That strength how small! assembled now to meet
One so long lost, long mourn'd, one who for them
Had braved so much-death, and yet worse than
To meet him, and to part with him for ever!
Time and their heavy wrongs had changed them all;
Death follow'd. From the hour he went, he spoke
And in his dungeon, when he laid him down,
He sunk to rise no more. O, if there be
Justice in heaven, and we are assured there is,
A day must come of ample retribution !
Then was thy cup, old man, full to o'erflowing.
But thou wert yet alive; and there was one,
The soul and spring of all that enmity,
Who would not leave thee; fastening on thy flank
Hungering and thirsting, still unsatisfied
One of a name illustrious as thine own!
One of the Ten! one of the Invisible Three!
When the whelps were gone,
He would dislodge the lion from his den;
And, leading on the pack he long had led,
The miserable pack that ever howl'd
Against fallen greatness, moved that Foscari
Be doge no longer; urging his great age,
His incapacity and nothingness;
Calling a father's sorrows in his chamber
Neglect of duty, anger, contumacy.
"I am most willing to retire," said Foscari:
"But I have sworn, and cannot of myself.
Do with me as ye please."
He was deposed,
He, who had reign'd so long and gloriously;
His ducal bonnet taken from his brow,
His robes stript off, his ring, that ancient symbol,
Broken before him. But now nothing moved
The meekness of his soul. All things alike!
Among the six that came with the decree,
Foscari saw one he knew not, and inquired
Him most! Yet when the wife, the mother look'd His name. "I am the son of Marco Memmo."
Again, 'twas he himself, 'twas Giacomo,
Their only hope, and trust, and consolation!
And all clung round him, weeping bitterly;
Weeping the more, because they wept in vain.
Unnerved, unsettled in his mind from long
And exquisite pain, he sobs aloud and cries,
Kissing the old man's cheek, "Help me, my father!
Let me, I pray thee, live once more among you:
Let me go home."-" My son," returns the doge,
Mastering a while his grief, " if I may still
Call thee my son, if thou art innocent,
As I would fain believe," but, as he speaks,
He falls, "submit without a murmur."
That to the world brought revelry, to them
Brought only food for sorrow. Giacomo
Embark'd-to die; sent to an early grave
For thee, Erizzo, whose death-bed confession,
"He is most innocent! 'Twas I who did it !"
Came when he slept in peace. The ship, that sail'd
Swift as the winds with his recall to honour,
Bore back a lifeless corse. Generous as brave,
Affection, kindness, the sweet offices
Of love and duty, were to him as needful
As was his daily bread and to become
A by-word in the meanest mouths of Venice,
Bringing a stain on those who gave him life,
On those, alas! now worse than fatherless-
To be proclaim'd a ruffian, a night-stabber,
"Ah," he replied, " thy father was my friend.”
And now he goes. "It is the hour and past.
I have no business here."-" But wilt thou not
Avoid the gazing crowd? That way is private."
"No! as I enter'd, so will I retire."
And leaning on his staff, he left the palace,
His residence for four-and-thirty years,
By the same staircase he came up in splendour,
The staircase of the Giants. Turning round,
When in the court below, he stopt and said,
'My merits brought me hither. I depart,
Driven by the malice of my enemies."
Then through the crowd withdrew, poor as he came,
And in his gondola went off, unfollow'
But by the sighs of them that dared not speak.
This journey was his last. When the bell rang,
Next day, announcing a new doge to Venice,
It found him on his knees before the altar,
Clasping his aged hands in earnest prayer;
And there he died. Ere half its task was done,
It rang his knell.
But whence the deadly hate
That caused all this-the hate of Loredano !
It was a legacy his father left him,
Who, but for Foscari, had reign'd in Venice,
And, like the venom in the serpent's bag,
Gather'd and grew! Nothing but turn'd to venom!
In vain did Foscari sue for peace, for friendship,
Offering in marriage his fair Isabel.
changed not; with a dreadful piety,
Studying revenge! listening alone to those
He on whom none before had breathed reproach-He
He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost,
Who talk'd of vengeance; grasping by the hand
Those in their zeal (and none, alas! were wanting)
Who came to tell him of another wrong,
Done or imagined. When his father died,
'Twas whisper'd in his ear, "He died by poison!"
He wrote it on the tomb, ('tis there in marble,)
And in his ledger-book-among his debtors-
Enter'd the name "Francesco Foscari,"
And added, " For the murder of my father."
Leaving a blank-to be fill'd up hereafter.
When Foscari's noble heart at length gave way,
He took the volume from the shelf again
Calmly, and with his pen fill'd up the blank,
Inscribing, "He has paid me."
Ye who sit,
Brooding from day to day, from day to day
Chewing the bitter cud, and starting up
As though the hour was come to whet your fangs,
And, like the Pisan, gnaw the hairy scalp
Of him who had offended-if ye must,
Sit and brood on; but O! forbear to teach
The lesson to your children.
THERE is, within three leagues and less of Padua,
(The Paduan student knows it, honours it,)
A lonely tombstone in a mountain churchyard;
And I arrived there as the sun declined
Low in the west. The gentle airs, that breathe
Fragrance at eve, were rising, and the birds
Singing their farewell song-the very song
They sung the night that tomb received a tenant;
When, as alive, clothed in his canon's habit,
And, slowly winding down the narrow path,
He came to rest there. Nobles of the land,
Princes, and prelates mingled in his train,
Anxious by any act, while yet they could,
To catch a ray of glory by reflection;
And from that hour have kindred spirits flock'd
From distant countries, from the north, the south,
To see where he is laid.
Twelve years ago,
When I descended the impetuous Rhone,
Its vineyards of such great and old renown,
As castles, each with some romantic tale,
Vanishing fast-the pilot at the stern,
He who had steer'd so long, standing aloft,
His eyes on the white breakers, and his hands
On what at once served him for oar and rudder,
A huge misshapen plank-the bark itself
Frail and uncouth, launch'd to return no more,
Such as a shipwreck'd man might hope to build,
Urged by the love of home-when I descended
Two long, long days' silence, suspense on board,
It was to offer at thy fount, Valclusa,
Entering the arch'd cave, to wander where
Petrarch had wander'd, in a trance to sit
Where in his peasant dress he loved to sit,
Musing, reciting-on some rock moss-grown,
Or the fantastic root of some old fig tree,
That drinks the living waters as they stream
Over their emerald bed; and could I now
Neglect to visit Arqua, where, at last,
When he had done and settled with the world,
When all the illusions of his youth were fled,
Indulged perhaps too long, cherish'd too fondly,
He came for the conclusion? Halfway up
He built his house, whence as by stealth he caught,
Among the hills, a glimpse of busy life,
That soothed, not stirr'd.-But knock, and enter in
This was his chamber. 'Tis as when he left it;
As if he now were busy in his garden.
And this his closet. Here he sate and read.
This was his chair; and in it, unobserved,
Reading, or thinking of his absent friends,
He pass'd away as in a quiet slumber.
Peace to this region! Peace to all who dwell here.
They know his value-every coming step,
That gathers round the children from their play,
Would tell them if they knew not.-But could aught,
Ungentle or ungenerous, spring up
Where he is sleeping; where, and in an age
Of savage warfare and blind bigotry,
He cultured all that could refine, exalt;
Leading to better things?
Ir ever you should come to Modena,
Where among other trophies may be seen
Tassoni's bucket, (in its chain it hangs,
Within that reverend tower, the Guirlandina,)
Stop at a palace near the Reggio-gate,
Dwelt in of old by one of the Orsini,
Its noble gardens, terrace above terrace,
And rich in fountains, statues, cypresses,
Will long detain you-but, before you go,
Enter the house-forget it not, I pray-
And look a while upon a picture there.
'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth,
The last of that illustrious family;
Done by Zampieri-but by whom I care not.
He, who observes it-ere he passes on,
Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again,
That he may call it up, when far away.
She sits, inclining forward as to speak,
Her lips half open, and her finger up,
As though she said "Beware!" her vest of gold
Broider'd with flowers, and clasp'd from head to foot,
An emerald stone in every golden clasp;
And on her brow, fairer than alabaster,
A coronet of pearls.
So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth,
The overflowings of an innocent heart-
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 ancestor-
That by the way-it may be true or false-
But 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 gayety,
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.
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,
""Tis 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
"Twas 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,
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 An old man wandering as in quest of something, Something he could not find-he knew not what. When he was gone, the house remain'd a while Silent and tenantless-then went to strangers.
Full fifty years were past, and all forgotten. When on an idle day, a day of search 'Mid the old lumber in the gallery,
Whose 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, stain'd with many a various soil,
Stopt and alighted. 'Twas 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, through 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, everywhere
(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.
Since last we parted; and those five short years-
Much had they told! His clustering locks were
Gray; 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,
That mouldering chest was noticed; and 'twas said The hour we met; and, when Aurora rose,
By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra,
"Why not remove it from its lurking-place?"
'Twas done as soon as said; but on the way
It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton,
With here and there a pearl, an emerald stone,
A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold.
All else had perish'd-save a wedding ring,
And a small seal, her mother's legacy,
Engraven with a name, the name of both,
There then had she found a grave! Within that chest had she conceal'd herself, Fluttering with joy, the happiest of the happy; When a spring lock, that lay in ambush there, Fasten'd her down for ever!
'Twas 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 portray'd, and by a son of thine,
* See the Cries of Bologna, as drawn by Annibal Caracci. He was of very humble origin; and, to correct his brother's vanity, once sent him a portrait of their father, the tailor, threading his needle.
Rising, we climb'd the rugged Apennine.
Well I remember how the golden sun
Fill'd with its beams th' unfathomable gulfs,
As on we travell'd, and along the ridge,
'Mid groves of cork, and cistus, 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,*
The gondolier's, in a patrician house
Arguing unlimited trust.-Not last nor least,
Thou, though declining in thy beauty and strength,
Faithful Moretto, to the latest hour
Guarding his chamber door, and now along
The silent, sullen strand of Missolonghi
Howling in grief.
He had just left that place
Of old renown, once in the Adrian sea,t
Ravenna; where, from Dante's sacred tomb
He had so oft, as many a verse declares,‡
Drawn inspiration; where, at twilight time,
Through the pine forest wandering with loose rein,
Wandering and lost, he had so oft behelds
*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. † Adrianum mare.-Cic.
See the prophecy of Dante.
§ See the tale as told by Boccaccio and Dryden.