Графични страници
PDF файл

Till she cannot see the hollow,
Nor the little steel-winged swallow,

On her clay-built nest o'erhead.
Mona's mother falleth mourning :

O, 't is hard, so hard, to see
Prattling child to woman turning,

As to grander company !
Little heart she lulled with hushes
Beating, burning up with blushes,
All with meditative dreaming
On the dear delicious gleaming
Of the bridal veil and ring;
Finding in the sweet ovations
Of its new, untried relations

Better joys than she can bring.
In her hand her wheel she keepeth,
And her heart within her leapeth,
With a burdened, bashful yearning,

For the babe's weight on her knee,

For the loving lisp of glee, Sweet as larks' throats in the morning,

Sweet as hum of honey-bée. “O my child !” cries Mona's mother, “Will you, can you take another

Name ere mine upon your lips ? Can you, only for the asking, Give to other hands the clasping

Of your rosy finger-tips?".

Fear on fear her sad soul borrows,

O the dews are falling fair! But no fair thing now can move her ; Vainly walks the moon above her, Turning out her golden furrows

On the cloudy fields of air.

Sudden she is 'ware of shadows,
Coming in across the meadows,

And of murmurs, low as love, –
Murmurs mingled like the meeting
Of the winds, or like the beating

Of the wings of dove with dove.

In her hand the slow wheel stoppeth,
Silken flax from distaff droppeth,
And a cruel, killing pain
Striketh up from heart to brain ;
And she knoweth by that token

That the spinning all is vain,
That the troth-plight has been spoken,
And the thread of life thus broken

Never can be joined again.



“Ah! how can you write about Spain

when once you have been there?” asked THOSE of my readers who have Heine of Théophile Gautier setting out

frequented the garden of Doctor Rappaccini no doubt recall with per Nevertheless it seems to me that I fect distinctness the quaint old city of remember something about Padua with Padua. They remember its miles and a sort of romantic pleasure. There was miles of dim arcade over-roofing the a certain charm which I can dimly residewalks everywhere, affording ex- call, in sauntering along the top of the cellent opportunity for the flirtation of old wall of the city, and looking down lovers by day and the vengeance of upon the plumy crests of the Indianrivals by night. They have seen the corn that flourished up so mightily from now vacant streets thronged with mask- the dry bed of the moat. At such times ers, and the Venetian Podestà going in I could not help figuring to myself the gorgeous state to and from the vast many sieges that the wall had known, Palazzo della Ragione. They have with the fierce assault by day, the sewitnessed ringing tournaments in those cret attack by night, the swarming foe sad, empty squares, and races in the upon the plains below, the bristling Prato della Valle, and many other arms of the besieged upon the wall, the wonders of different epochs, and their boom of the great mortars made of pleasure makes me half sorry that I ropes and leather and throwing mighty should have lived for several years balls of stone, the stormy flight of arwithin an hour by rail from Padua, rows, the ladders planted against the and should know little or nothing of defences and staggering headlong into these great sights from actual obser- the moat, enriched for future agriculture vation. I take shame to myself for not only by its sluggish waters, but by having visited Padua so often and so the blood of many men. I suppose that familiarly as I used to do, --- for hav- most of these visions were old stage ing been bored and hungry there, — spectacles furbished up anew, and that for having had toothache there, upon my armies were chiefly equipped with one occasion, – for having rejoiced their obsolete implements of warfare more in a cup of coffee at Pedroc- from museums of armor and from cabichi's than in the whole history of Pa- nets of antiquities; but they were very dua, - for having slept repeatedly in vivid, for all that. the bad-bedded hotels of Padua and I was never able, in passing a certain never once dreamt of Portia, — for hav- one of the city gates, to divest myself ing been more taken by the salti mor- of an historic interest in the great loads tali* of a waiter who summed up my of hay waiting admission on the outaccount at a Paduan restaurant, than side. For an instant they masked again by all the strategies with which the city the Venetian troops that, in the war of has been many times captured and re- the League of Cambray, entered the city captured. Had I viewed Padua only in the hay-carts, shot down the landsover the wall of Doctor Rappaccini's knechts at the gates, and, uniting with garden, how different my impressions the citizens, cut the German garrison of the city would now be! This is one to pieces. But it was a thing long past. of the drawbacks of actual knowledge. The German garrison was here again ;

and the heirs of the landsknechts went Salti mortali are those prodigious efforts of clanking through the gate to the pamental arithmetic by which Italian waiters, in verbally presenting your account, arrive at six as the rade-ground, with that fierce clamor of product of two and two.

their kettle-drums which is so much

fiercer because unmingled with the time she was a blooming girl, - and noise of fifes. Once more now the paid nothing for either privilege. What Germans are gone, and, let us trust, wild and confused reminiscences on forever ; but when I saw them, there the wrinkled visage we should find seemed little hope of their going thereafter of the fierce republican times, They had a great Biergarten on the of Ecelino, of the Carraras, of the Vetop of the wall, and they had set up netian rule! And is it not sad to think the altars of their heavy Bacchus in of systems and peoples all passing many parts of the city.

away, and these ancient women lasting I please myself with thinking that, if still, and still selling grapes in front of I walked on such a spring day as this the Palazzo della Ragione? What a in the arcaded Paduan streets, I should long mortality! catch glimpses, through the gateways The youngest of their number is a of the palaces, of gardens full of vivid thousand years older than the palace, bloom, and of fountains that tinkle there which was begun in the twelfth century, forever. If it were autumn, and I were and which is much the same now as it in the great market - place before the was when first completed. I know that, Palazzo della Ragione, I should hear if I entered it, I should be sure of findthe baskets of amber-hued and hon- ing the great hall of the palace - the eyed grapes humming with the murmur vastest hall in the world — dim and of multitudinous bees, and making a dull and dusty and delightful, with nothmusic as if the wine itself were already ing in it except at one end Donatello's singing in their gentle hearts. It is a colossal marble-headed wooden horse great field of succulent verdure, that of Troy, stared at from the other end wide old market-place; and fancy loves by the two dog-faced Egyptian women to browse about among its gay stores of in basalt placed there by Belzoni. fruits and vegetables, brought thither by Late in the drowsy summer afterthe world-old peasant-women who have noons I should have the Court of the been bringing fruits and vegetables to University all to myself, and might study the Paduan market for so many centu- unmolested the blazons of the noble ries. They sit upon the ground before youth who have attended the school in their great panniers, and knit and doze, different centuries ever since 1200, and and wake up with a drowsy “ Comanda- have left their escutcheons on the walls la ?as you linger to look at their grapes. to commemorate them. At the foot of They have each a pair of scales, — the the stairway ascending to the schools emblem of Injustice, – and will weigh from the court is the statue of the you out a scant measure of the fruit, if learned lady who was once a professor you like. Their faces are yellow as in the University, and who, if her likeparchment, and Time has written them ness belie not her looks, must have so full of wrinkles that there is not given a great charm to student life in room for another line. Doubtless these other times. At present there are no old parchment visages are palimpsests, lady professors at Padua, any more and would tell the whole history of than at Harvard ; and during late years Padua if you could get at each succes- the schools have suffered greatly from sive inscription. Among their primal the interference of the Austrian governrecords there must be some account of ment, which frequently closed them for the Roman city, as each little contadi- months, on account of political demonnella remembered it on market-days; strations among the students. But now and one might read of the terror of At- there is an end of this and many other tila's sack, a little later, with the peas- stupid oppressions; and the time-honant-maid's personal recollections of the ored University will doubtless regain bold Hunnish trooper who ate up the its ancient importance. Even in 1864 grapes in her basket, and kissed her it had nearly fifteen hundred students, hard, round red cheeks,- for in that and one met them everywhere under

the arcades, and could not well mistake them, with that blended air of pirate and dandy which these studious young men loved to assume. They were to be seen a good deal on the promenades outside the walls, where the Paduan ladies are driven in their carriages in the afternoon, and where one sees the ... blood-horses and fine equipages for * which Padua is famous. There used once to be races in the Prato della Valle, after the Italian notion of horse-races; but these are now discontinued, and there is nothing to be found there but the statues of scholars and soldiers and statesmen, posted in a circle around the old race-course. If you strolled thither about dusk on such a day as this, you might see the statues unbend a little from their stony rigidity, and in the failing light nod to each other very pleasantly through the trees. And if you stayed in Padua over night, what could be better to-morrow morning than a stroll through the great Botanical Garden, –the oldest botanical garden in the world,—the garden which first received in Europe the strange and splendid growths of our hemisphere, — the garden where Doctor Rappaccini doubtless found the germ of his mortal plant? On the whole, I believe I would rather go this moment to Padua than to Lowell or Lawrence, or even to Worcester; and as to the disadvantage of having seen Padua, I begin to think the whole place has now assumed so fantastic a character in my mind that I am almost as well qualified to write of it as if I had merely dreamed it. The day that we first visited the city was very rainy, and we spent most of the time in viewing the churches. These, even after the churches of Venice, one finds rich in art and historic interest, and they in no instance fall into the maniacal excesses of the Renaissance to which some of the temples of the latter city abandon themselves. Their architecture forms a sort of border-land between the Byzantine of Venice and the Lombardic of Verona. The superb domes of St. Anthony's emulate those of St. Mark's, and

the porticos of other Paduan churches rest upon the backs of bird-headed lions and leopards that fascinate with their mystery and beauty. It was the wish to see the attributive Giottos in the Chapter which drew us first to St. Anthony's, and we saw them with the satisfaction naturally attending the contemplation of frescos discovered only since 1858, after having been hidden under plaster and whitewash for many centuries; but we could not believe that Giotto's fame was destined to gain much by their rescue from oblivion. They are in no wise to be compared with this master's frescos in the Chapel of the Annunziata, – which, indeed, is in every way a place of wonder and delight. You reach it by passing through a garden lane bordered with roses, and a taciturn gardener comes out with clinking keys, and lets you into the chapel, where there is nobody but Giotto and Dante, nor seems to have been for ages. Cool it is, and of a pulverous smell, as a sacred place should be ; a blessed benching goes round the wall, and you sit down and take unlimited comfort in the frescos. The gardener leaves you alone to the solitude and the silence, in which the talk of the painter and the exile is plain enough. Their contemporaries and yours are cordial in their gay companionship; through the half-open door falls, in a pause of the rain, the same sunshine that they saw lie there; the deathless birds that they heard sing out in the garden trees; it is the fresh sweetness of the grass mown six hundred years ago that breathes through all the lovely garden grounds. How mistaken was Ponce de Leon, to seek the fountain of youth in the New World ! It is there, — in the Old World,—far back in the past. We are all old men and decrepit together in the present; the future is full of death; in the past we are light and glad as boys turned barefoot in the spring. The work of the heroes is play to us; the pang of the martyr is a thrill of rapture; the exile's longing is a strain of plaintive music touching and delighting us. We are not only young again, we are immortal. It is this divine sense of superiority to fate which is the supreme good won from travel in historic lands, and from the presence of memorable things, and which no sublimity of natural aspects can bestow. It is this which forms the wide difference between Europe and America, – a gulf that it will take a thousand years to bridge. It is a shame that the immortals should be limited in their pleasures by the fact that they have hired their brougham by the hour; yet we early quit the Chapel of Giotto on this account. We had chosen our driver from among many other drivers of broughams in the vicinity of Pedrocchi’s, because he had such an honest look, and was not likely, we thought, to deal unfairly with us. “But first,” said the signor who had selected him, “how much is your brougham an hour?” So and so. “Show me the tariff of fares.” “There is no tariff.” “There is. Show it to me.” “It is lost, signor.” “I think not. It is here in this pocket. Get it out.” The tariff appears, and with it the fact that he had demanded just what the boatman of the ballad received in gift, — thrice his fee. The driver mounted his seat, and served us so faithfully that day in Padua that we took him the next day for Arqua. At the end, when he had received his due, and a handsome mancia besides, he was still unsatisfied, and referred to the tariff in proof that he had been under-paid. On that confronted and defeated, he thanked us very cordially, gave us the number of his brougham, and begged us to ask for him when we came next to Padua and needed a carriage. From the Chapel of the Annunziata he drove us to the Church of Santa Giustina, where is a very famous and noble picture by Romanino. But as this paper has nothing in the world to

do with art, I here dismiss that subject, and with a gross and idle delight follow the sacristan down under this church to the prison of Santa Giustina. Of all the faculties of the mind there is none so little fatiguing to exercise as mere wonder; and, for my own sake, I try always to wonder at things without the least critical reservation. I therefore, in the sense of deglutition, bolted this prison at once, though subsequent experiences led me to look with grave indigestion upon the whole idea of prisons, their authenticity, and even their existence. As far as mere dimensions are concerned, the prison of Santa Giustina was not a hard one to swallow, being only three feet wide by about ten feet in length. In this limited space, Santa Giustina passed five years of the paternal reign of Nero (a virtuous and a long-suffering prince, whom, singularly enough, no historic artist has yet arisen to whitewash), and was then brought out into the larger cell adjoining, to suffer a blessed martyrdom. I am not sure now whether the sacristan.said she was dashed to death on the stones, or cut to pieces with knives; but whatever the form of martyrdom, an iron ring in the ceiling was employed in it, as I know from seeing the ring, — a curiously wellpreserved piece of ironmongery. Within the narrow prison of the saint, and just under the grating, through which the sacristan thrust his candle to illuminate it, was a mountain of candle-drippings, – a monument to the fact that faith still largely exists in this doubting world. My own credulity, not only with regard to this prison, but also touching the coffin of St. Luke, which I saw in the church, had so wrought upon the esteem of the sacristan, that he now took me to a well, into which, he said, had been cast the bones of three thousand Christian martyrs. He lowered a lantern into the well, and assured me that, if I looked through a certain screenwork there, I could see the bones. On experiment I could not see the bones, but this circumstance did

« ПредишнаНапред »