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Had hush'd the babes of Venice, and who yet,
Breathing a little, in his look retain’d
The fierceness of his soul.
Thus were the brides
Lost and recover'd; and what now remain’d
But to give thanks Twelve breast-plates and
Flaming with gems and gold, the votive offerings
Of the young victors to their patron saint,
Wow'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;
Men who have served their country, and grown
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 2) 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
Must sit and look on a beloved son
Suffering the Question.
Twice, to die in peace
To save a falling house, and turn the hearts
Of his fell adversaries, those who now,
Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running down
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.
Like a ghost,
Day after day, year after year he haunts
An ancient rampart, that o'erhangs the sea;
Gazing on vacancy, and hourly starting
To answer to the watch—Alas, how changed
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 bucentaur 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 2
I have transgress'd, offended wilfully ;
And am prepared to suffer as I ought.
But let 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 *
He is condemn’d
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 2) 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
Him most ' Yet when the wife, the mother look’d
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,
He on whom none before had breathed reproach–
He lived but to disprove it. That hope lost,
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
His name. “I am the son of Marco Memmo.”
“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 2 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.
He changed not ; with a dreadful piety,
Studying revenge! listening alone to those
Who talk’d of vengeance; grasping by the hand
These 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 0 ! 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,
Its 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, Walclusa,
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
JHe 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 couldaught,
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 2
XVIII. * GINEWrA. If 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. But then her face, 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 ancestorThat 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 anything 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
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,
That mouldering chest was noticed; and ’twas said
By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra,
“Why not remove it from its lurking-place o
'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.
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.
Much had pass'd,
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,
The hour we met; and, when Aurora rose,
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 sig,
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,f
Drawn inspiration; where, at twilight time,
Through the pine forest wandering with loose rein.
Wandering and lost, he had so oft behelds
(What is not visible to a poet's eye ’)
The spectre knight, the hell-hounds and their
The chase, the slaughter, and the festal mirth
Suddenly blasted. 'Twas a theme he loved ;
But others claim'd their turn; and many a tower,
Shatter'd, uprooted from its native rock,
Its strength the pride of some heroic age,
Appeard and vanish'd, (many a sturdy steer"
Yoked and unyoked,) while as in happier days
He pour’d his spirit forth. The past forgot,
All was enjoyment. Not a cloud obscured
Present or future.
He is now at rest;
And praise and blame fall on his ear alike,
Now dull in death. Yes, Byron, thou art gone,
Gone like a star that through the firmament
Shot and was lost, in its eccentric course
Dazzling, perplexing. Yet thy heart, methinks,
Was generous, noble—noble in its scorn
of all things low or little; nothing there
Sordid or servile. If imagined wrongs
Pursued thee, urging thee sometimes to do
Things long regretted, oft, as many know,
None more than I, thy gratitude would build
On slight foundations: and, if in thy life
Not happy, in thy death thou surely wert,
Thy wish accomplish'd; dying in the land
Where thy young mind had caught ethereal fire,
Dying in Greece, and in a cause so glorious !
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,
0, let him pause! For who among us all,
Tried as thou wert—e'en from thine earliest years,
When wandering, yet unspoilt, a highland boy—
Tried 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 ?
Of all the fairest cities of the earth, None are so fair as Florence. 'Tis a gem Of purest ray, a treasure for a casket! And what a glorious lustre did it shed When it emerged from darkness Search within, Without, all is enchantment: 'Tis the past Contending with the present; and in turn Each has the mastery.
In this chapel wrought
Massaccio; and he slumbers underneath.
Wouldst thou behold his monument? Look round !
* They wait for the traveller's carriage at the foot of every hill.
And know that where we stand, stood oft and long,
Oft till the day was gone, Raphael himself,
He and his haughty rival—patiently,
Humbly, to learn of those who came before,
To steal a spark from their authentic fire,
Theirs, who first broke the gloom, sons of the
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, 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, Saltrello, who with quirks of law
Hadst plagued him sore, and carefully requiting
Such as ere long condemn’d his mortal part
To fire. Sit down a while—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,
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.
Nor then forget that chamber of the dead, Where the gigantic forms of night and day, Turn’d 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 upon his hand. What scowls beneath his broad and helm-like
Is it a face, or but an eyeless skull 2
*Tis hid 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-hallow’d day, when all are there;
When all, propitiating with solemn songs,
With light, and frankincense, and holy water,
Visit the dead. Then wilt thou feel his power
But let not sculpture, painting, poesy,
Or they, the masters of these mighty spells,
Detain us. 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 cut in with his dagger,
Ere, on his knees to God, he slew himself.)
Where, in what dungeon, did Filippo Strozzi,
The last, the greatest of the men of Florence,
Breathc out his soul—lest in his agony,