Графични страници
PDF файл

That of the two, Giovanni was the graver,
Paulo the livelier, and the more in favor.

Some tastes there were indeed, that would prefer Giovanni's countenance as the martialler; And 'twas a soldier's truly, if an eye Ardent and cool at once, drawn-back and high, An eagle's nose and a determined lip, Were the best marks of manly soldiership. Paulo's was fashioned in a different mould, And surely the more fine : for though 'twas bold, When boldness was required, and could put on A glowing frown as if an angel shone, Yet there was nothing in it one might call A stamp exclusive or professional, No courtier's face, and yet its smile was ready, No scholar's, yet its look was deep and steady, No soldier's, for its power was all of mind, Too true for violence, and too refined. The very nose, lightly yet firmly wrought, Shewed taste; the forehead a clear-spirited thought; Wisdom looked sweet and inward from his eye; And round his mouth was sensibility : It was a face, in short, seemed made to shew How far the genuine flesh and blood could go ;A morning glass of unaffected nature, Something, that baffled looks of loftier feature, The visage of a glorious human creature.

If any points there were, at which they came Nearer together, 'twas in knightly fame, And all accomplishments that art may know, Hunting, and princely hawking, and the bow, The rush together in the bright-eyed list, Fore-thoughted chess, the riddle rarely missed, And the decision of still knottier points, With knife in hand, of boar and peacock joints, Things, that might shake the fame that Tristan got, And bring a doubt on perfect Launcelot.* But leave we knighthood to the former part; The tale I tell is of the human heart.

The worst of Prince Giovanni, as his bride Too quickly found, was an ill-temper'd pride. Bold, handsome, able (if he chose) to please, Punctual and right in common offices, He lost the sight of conduct's only worth, The scattering smiles on this uneasy earth, And on the strength of virtues of small weight, Claimed tow'rds himself the exercise of great. He kept no reckoning with his sweets and sours; He'd hold a sullen countenance for hours,

* The two famous knights of the Round Table, great huntsmen, and of course great carvers. Boars and peacocks, served up whole, the latter with the feathers on, were eminent dishes with the knights of old, and must have called forth all the exercise of this accomplishment.

And then, if pleased to cheer himself a space,
Look for the immediate rapture in your face,
And wonder that a cloud could still be there,
How small soever, when his own was fair.
Yet such is conscience, - so designed to keep
Stern, central watch, though all things else go sleep,
And so much knowledge of one's self there lies
Cored, after all, in our complacencies,
That no suspicion would have touched him more,
Than that of wanting on the generous score:
He would have whelmed you with a weight of scorn,
Been proud at eve, inflexible at morn,
In short, ill-tempered for a week to come,
And all to strike that desperate error dumb.
Taste had he, in a word, for high-turned merit,
But not the patience, nor the genial spirit;
And so he made, 'twixt virtue and defect,
A sort of fierce demand on your respect,
Which, if assisted by his high degree,

him in some eyes a dignity,
And struck a meaner deference in the many,
Left him at last unloveable with any.

From this complexion in the reigning brother

younger birth perhaps had saved the other.
Born to a homage less gratuitous,
He learned to win a nobler for his house;
And both from habit and a genial heart,
Without much trouble of the reasoning art,

Found this the wisdom and the sovereign good, -
To be, and make, as happy as he could.
Not that he saw, or thought he saw, beyond
His general age, and could not be as fond
Of wars and creeds as any of his race,-
But most he loved a happy human face;
And wheresoe'er his fine, frank eyes were thrown,
He struck the looks he wished for, with his own.
So what but service leaped where'er he went !
Was there a tilt-day or a tournament,
For welcome grace there rode not such another,
Nor yet for strength, except his lordly brother.
Was there a court-day, or a feast, or dance,
Or minstrelsy with roving plumes from France,
Or summer party to the greenwood shade,
With lutes prepared, and cloth on herbage laid,
And ladies' laughter coming through the air, -
He was the readiest and the blithest there;
And made the time so exquisitely pass
With stories told with elbow on the grass,
Or touched the music in his turn so finely,
That all he did, they thought, was done divinely.

The lovely stranger could not fail to see Too soon this difference, more especially As her consent, too lightly now, she thought, With hopes far different had been strangely bought; And many a time the pain of that neglect Would strike in blushes o'er her self-respect :


But since the ill was cureless, she applied
With busy virtue to resume her pride,
And hoped to value her submissive heart
On playing well a patriot daughter's part,
Trying her new-found duties to prefer
To what a father might have owed to her.
The very day too when her first surprise
Was full, kind tears had come into her eyes
On finding, by his care, her private room
Furnished, like magic, from her own at home;
The very books and all transported there,
The leafy tapestry, and the crimson chair,
The lute, the glass that told the shedding hours,
The little urn of silver for the flowers,
The frame for broidering, with a piece half done,
And the white falcon, basking in the sun,
Who, when he saw her, sidled on his stand,
And twined his neck against her trembling hand.
But what had touched her nearest, was the thought,
That if 'twere destined for her to be brought
To a sweet mother's bed, the joy would be
Giovanni's too, and his her family: -
He seemed already father of her child,
And on the nestling pledge in patient thought she

Yet then a pang would cross her, and the red
In either downward cheek startle and spread,
To think that he, who was to have such part
In joys like these, had never shared her heart;

« ПредишнаНапред »