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vagrant as Rhyming Davy, for I had seen his name in the list of subscribers to the tragedy, although I knew he was no patron of the muses. “ Atweel ye may be gayen sure I didna sign wi' my gude will. Me! would I gie a penny to the lazy fallow, if I could help it? But if yin dinna gie him something, he'll lampoon them in his poem books! There was Bailie Brecham, the saddler, refused to buy his last “ Dream” about the Battle o' Drumclog. On the next night, Davy sung a queer sang about him, amang a' the sma' wabsters o'the place, in Luckie Tippletasty's kitchen; and there's no a bit wean in a' the toun but what ha'st off by heart now.”
From Mr. Dousechaffs I likewise learned somewhat of Davy's history. He had been a fisherman on the picturesque banks of the Leven, but seized with the mo-mania, forsook his trade, to travel the country for subscriptions for the poems he wished to usher to the world.
To pay the printer's bill he parted with the utensils of his former vocation, and his boat became the property of his landlord, for arrears of rent. His household furniture he melted into whisky, of which he had always been fond, but doubly so when he became a poet-aquavitae to the class, of which Davy is a member, being their Castalian stream, and, I believe, the only source of their inspiration. Davy's wife died of a broken heart, and her friends provided for his two daughters, while his son was apprenticed to a farmer in the humble capacity of herd-callant.
A variety of reflections suggested themselves to my mind, after parting with Mr. Dousechaffs, as I slowly walked home. Pope, in his own powerful and antithetic manner, has expressed them in one line, much more forcibly than I could do in a hundred, “ A little learning is a dangerous thing."
J. C. B. Strathblane, 182–
Woman 's taught me all I know,
Good or bad ;-Whate'er I be, then,
Be theirs the honour; and if so,
The right they have I do not see, then,
To twit me with my sins,-nay, worse, alasare
Wonder that I have learned to curse!
ALBERTO, OR THE FRIENDS OF MILAN.
SCENE-A Street in Milan.
Enter ALBERTO from Foscolo's Palace, in a fancy dress,
ALBERTO. (Advancing slowly.)
How beautiful the face of night appears!
The busy crowd who wander through these streets
Beneath the glories of the noontide beam,
Crowd to their homes at the approach of night,
As if thy face, chaste Dian! were not fair,
As if the sky of our Italian clime
Grew murky ’neath thy sway!
They throng the Scala's swelling porticoes
To hear the music which the hand calls forth,
While they forget the vocal nightingale,
Who hymns the praises of the dewy hour,
And of the pale-faced moon who rules it!
Even from my boyhood I have lov'd to roam
Alone, beneath the starry vault of Heaven.
(Takes off his mask.)
Yet, let me not deceive myself:-
'Tis not thy charms, pale Luna, call me forth,
But thoughts as strange as they are wild and fearful,
Take, spite of will, possession of my soul.
Why, when the maskers met in Foscolo's,
And twinkling feet beat time to sprightly music-
When the dark eye looked from the visor's shade
More bright and eloquent, and sparkled out
Like the blue sapphire from its earthy bed —
When whispered murmurs bore the tale of love
To eager ears, and hearts were lost and won,
Why did the one, who, ’mid the crowded throng,
Alone I looked to, from me coldly turn,
To hold with Monti converse ?
She placed her hand in his, and they led down
The gladsome dance together.
If that he juggles with the heart that's mine-
If there be more than frolic in this seeming
-Frolic !-aye, frolic!-Oh, it shall be so
How could I e'er imagine otherwise !
I'll in again and join the festal throng.
(Replaces his mask.)
Enter FRANCESCO from Foscolo's.
Why, good Alberto, at your pranks once more ?
Will you still gaze at stars instead of eyebrows,
And catch a cold from draughts of damp night air,
While you neglect the perfume of love's sighs ?
Come, come, we lack your presence at the banquet;
Perhaps you have some assignation here.
The hour (looking his watch) eleven--the place Foscolo's
The signal a white handkerchief !--
If so, excuse me; in these nice affairs
None than myself detests intrusion more.
Good even, Alberto !-(Going.)
Stay, Francesco, stay.
You talk with so much volubility,
Tbat sense and thought lag oft behind your words.
I have no assignation here to-night,
And only left the dance awhile to taste
The cooling freshness of the evening breeze,
And then rejoin, with sharpened zest, the maskers.
Plague on all evening breezes and their freshness!
-A word i' thy ear, Alberto.- I suspect
You left the dance because Giana danced not,
Or danced with others.— With your friend, young Monti,
She seemed on terms of strictest intimacy :-
Rivals turn out but cold acquaintances!
Then their new kindness was remarked by all :
It must be gross and palpable enough,
When it could fix the notice of Francesco.
(Aloud.)-Monti my rival!-- No, that cannot be :-
He is my friend, Francesco ;-in that word
All human virtue centres and is fixed.
'Tis friendship endless forms Elysium!
Unstained friendship is the bond of life
The link that binds society together! ,
When, from Pandora's charge the virtues fled,
Friendship and Hope alone remained behind ;-
The gift of Heaven, they form the stay of Man !
Mighty fine, signor, mighty fine these words,
If they were only true. Did I not hear, ....
As to the banquet Monti led. Giana,
The tender nothings that he stuffed her ear with.
“ The zone of Venus never bound a shape
" In grace and loveliness like thine, Giana,"
He whispered to her as he passed me--and smiled.
He said no more than sober truth, Francesco;
But yet I like it not. Why does he praise ?
His praise is weak to what my tongue is trained to.
Language is tame to tell Giana's beauty ;-
She has a face that Art would bend to,
And cease to fancy beauties there that live.
Yet, could it paint her perfect loveliness,
Tho' from the bow of Iris, it should steal
The thousand dies that spread their glory there-
Could it have penciled out that melting eye,
Which, through the silken lashes, beams like heaven?
The bursting rose-bud steeped in morning dew,
Surpasses not in fragrance her sweet breath!
Come, come, Alberto; you could talk all night
Upon a theme so fruitful-faith, I've heard you.
But see, Foscolo and Giana wait us.
As they advance to the gateway of Foscolo's Palace, enter MONTI.
Who says Giana waits ?
Giana waits and looks for none but Monti;
Those who would gaze upon Giana's beauty,
Must do so through the passage of my will.
Monti, have the rich wines of Foscolo
Already ta'en possession of your brain ?
Have you forgot your friend? Has memory fled,
Aud have you even yourself forgotten, Monti ?
Memory still rules, and reason fills her throne :
I still remember you-am still myself. -
Nay, more-am still your friend; but I am also
The favoured, happy lover of Giana !
The lover of Giana !--can it be?-
What! is the name of honour but a sound,
Are words but air, and vows but idle wind ?
The “ favoured lover of Giana ?” No!
Why, we were bred from infancy together,
And lisped our loves even in the nurse's arms.
Affection twined his tender bands around us
Ere we could fashion sound to carry thought;
And our first words were “ Albert” and “ Giana."
Our love was component of our existence-
Grew with our years, and death alone can quench it!
These are the glittering domes thy fancy raises -
Thyself their architect, thyself their builder!
But sober truth dispels the air-reared vision,
And the proud fabric topples from its base.
Be then my Goddess, Fancy !-thy creations
At least are beauteous, if they be unreal.
Love may be fickle, and a friend prove false;
In thought and fancy they shall still be mine,
Though you're her lover and Alberto's foe.
That I'm Giana's lover is my boast,
Alberto may be rival if he can;
Yet why should Monti be Alberto's foe?
Think you that mouthing candour can deceive ?
Alberto's rival not Alberto's foe! Do ever men
On him who robs their coffers heap more gold,
Load with warm thanks the ruffian who assails us,
Or bless the blow that takes from us a friend ?
You would combine impossibilities.
The rose ne'er blooms on Greenland's frost-bound shore,
Nor waves acacia on the glacier's ridge.
Why, you are mighty vehement, Alberto;
'Tis not unnatural you should be so :
A mistress lost will cross the best of tempers.
Can this be Monti?—this the friend I loved ?-
The Monti of but yesterday was generous
High-souled and valiant. One revolving sun
Has seen him wear the mask of soft deceit-
Has steeped him in hypocrisy, and plucked
The soldier's laurels from his recreant brow.
MONTI. dio bed
You're in a moralising mood, Alberto;
Your own reflections best will suit yourself.-(Going.)