網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

with the programme of versatile capa- man, was, that such an example was not bilities. This document bappened to desirable for the pupils. Miserable socatch the eye of a Methodist agent pbistry! He was in a land of freedom, skilled in the pathetic, whose sympa- be defied spiritual tyrandy; and he bad thies were won immediately by the pro- , resigned his office ! mise and the pity of the strunger's Quite the reverse of this impassioned application ; and in a fortnight after his and fastidious devotee of liberty, was arrival, the weight of this new responsi-' the next émigré. Calm, slow, and pasbility was suddenly lifted from my sive, liko Hamlet's friend, he took the mind, by a letter from the enchanted good and ill with "equal thanks ;” and, Zanetti, dated from a pine-grove of instead of being on the qui rive for New Jersey, in which ho described his changes, or troubled about the future, fortunala famiglia as snugly fixed in the great difficulty was, to rouse him to a cottage, villa quasi Etrusca, be called exertion. So long as his receipts as a it, with a garden, a peach-tree, an arbor, teacher provided him with the dollar a and a rose-busb-veramente un para week, for the weekly rent of his attic, diso. He bad planted artichokes, fen- and enough more to pay for bread and nel, and garlic; he bad laid in a cask of milk twice a day, and a heaping dish of wine, and a quantity of maccaroni ; his maccaroni à la Napolitaine, at noon, he guitar was newly strung; plaster casts would read, and lounge, and speculate of Metastasio and Beatrice, a water- on metaphysical questions, on the suncolored escutcheon of the Zanettis, a ny side of the street, and ponder the parrot that could distinctly say dolce Christian fathers at the Astor library far niente, and a large gray cat, the joy This indifference, so unusual with his of the ragazzo's heart, were among the race, at first surprised me, until I dishousehold gods thus miraculously set covered that, from boyhood to middle up in the land of freedom. His domicile life, be bad belonged to a Benedictine was rent free, his salary eight hundred fraternity in one of the islands of the dollars, and, for all this, he was only re- Mediterranean. The waves of revolution quired to teach at the adjacent semi- at length reached the walls of his connary, four hours a day, and his wife vent, and swept him forth, as it were three. Was ever a povero esigliato so by a mechanical impulse, until, one fine lucky? If he could only forget his spring morning, ho found himself in paese disgraziato, he should deem him- bustling, wide-awake Gotham, with no self the most prosperous of men ; yetrobe, cell

, refectory, or other sublunary why complain! Had he not una mog- convenience, such as, heretofore, had lia fedelissima, un figlio bello, a house, been provided; the hair bad grown over a garden, and a part in the grand work his shaved occiput, but the dependent, of educating young republicans ? Bene- inefficient habits of the monk romaindetta sia il giorno, l'ora ed il punto, ed; he was erudite, but unpractical, when he crossed the sea and found a versed in Latin authors, but ignorant patron in un uomo liberale, simpatico, of the world ; placid as a summer lake, buono, come lei, ercellenza mia! Scarce- but as unfit as a child to fight bis way ly had the euphonious compliments and in the new world. couleur-du-rose atmosphere of his epistle To balance these disadvantages, Sigfaded from my imagination, when an- nor Placido, as the girls called him, other came written in terse sentences, was by far the most comfortable teachwhose very emphasis and brevity an- er of la bella lingua yet introduced nounced implacable resolution, like the to their seminaries. He never flushed, fateful expressions of Alfieri's heroes. trembled, nor adjured the heathen divini. He would abandon his garden, though ties; he never scolded nor complained ; the artichokes had just sprouted, for the neither tragedy nor comedy desert of the world, before he would hinted by his eye or_voice-only compromise that cara libertà for which good-nature, and what Hazlitt calls, ho had abandoned dear Italy! His "reposing on one's sensations." In employers, though Protestants, were fact, quick spirits were nettled at his infected with papal tyranny: they had negative virtues, and grew weary of his requested him not to walk round the monotonous suavity. His visits to me, church during worship on Sundays, whom he honored with the appellation smoking cigars; their excuse for this of suo consigliatore, were intermingross interference with his rights as a able; be would sit and split hairs in the

was

ology by the hour, dream aloud, and at the was as procrastinating in coming to the same time preserve so meek and pa- point as he had been premature before ; tient a demeanor, that it appeared cruel he advanced only at the rate of an inch to interrupt or thwart him. Yet Pla- & day, which dilatory progress was cido had an excitable vein ; he was . tediously reported to me, with the revulnerable at one point; bis lymph quest that I would "give an opinion," could be pierced and his blood stirred or take an observation and calculate by the tender passion. He was always distances in this slow and dubious nafalling in love with his fair pupils, al- vigation on the sea of love. One day ways interpreting kindness into affec- be was elated by a glance, another distion, nonsense into romance; and took couraged by what he called a sorriso especial comfort in making me the re- fredo, now she leaned towards him pository of his hopes deferred, his over the book, and he compared their unaccountable rejections, and his amor- situation to that of Paolo and Francesca, ous despair. At last the pupils began and, again, though she gave him her to drop off; not because he encroached hand at parting, there was no lingering upon the limits of his position, or weari. pressure. This game or rather pantoed them by sentimental advances, but, mine lasted all winter, and I began to because he grew so languishing with despair of any matrimonial result, when “ concealment like a worm in the bud,” Placido entered one morning with unthat the gentle creatures feared some wonted alacrity, a slight tinge of red dreadful result, and, as a matter of con- was visible on his cheek, and a little science, removed him from the dan- sparkle in his tranquil eye; this time gerous sphere of their attractions. In he came not to ask advice, but to anthe few cases where he ventured to be nounce a triumph; things were coming explicit, they were overwhelmed with to a point, he was nearly ammogliato, astonishment, so unprepared were they, he would not be a giovane long-he had at the moment, for the declaration; he but to stretch forth his hand and “racasked for a moment's interview when cogliere la palma de vittoria ;' this the lesson was completed, and mention- vivacious mood was very becoming to ed his love with the same matter-of- Placido. I began to think that at length fact air as he did an error in accentua- “Young America" had superseded the tion; when the negative was pro- frate, and anxiously inquired what had nounced, he took his hat, bowed sadly, happened. The previous evening he and said, “Good-by, Miss, forever;" had read one of Petrarch's sonnets, to but the next day he appeared as usual, bis “bene," as he poetically denomingave the hour's instruction, made no ated Miss Sarah Mehitable Tompkins, reference to the climax of the preced- of the Ninth Avenue, and, at the most ing day, but, as I was assured by his rapturous line of Laura's lover, he had wondering idols, kept up that indo- encircled “ with one permitted arm her scribable, yet most aggravating beha- gentle waist;" at which unwonted libervior, so well defined by Arthur Helps, ty she smiled; and when he rose to as " playing the injured,” that a few depart, invited him to visit her in the woeks exhausted their capacity of en- country, whither the family were about durance, and poor Placido came, a shade to proceed. Herein the ex-monk found paler and more subdued than usual, to encouragement enough to warrant his pour out before me bis tale of " de- most daring hopes; he knew she would spised love." It was a curious illustra- have returned his embrace, had it not tion of the awkward waking of that en- been for a sprained arm, under which forced slumber of the heart induced the povera angiola had suffered since by monachism-susceptibility without his first acquaintance. But in the camcarnestness, desire unsustained by will pagna at this primavera season, with

- like the imbecile out-reaching of birds, and trees, and zephyrs, and viothe blighted tendrils of a subterranean lets, be should pour out his feelings with plant toward light, air, and something irresistible eloquence-she would be his vital whereon to cling.

cara sposa Americana-he was My great object, therefore, was to get of it. And so, in excellent spirits, Placido married, and at length his inna- Placido finished his spring lessons, morata was of an age, a position and bought a new coat and a fancy cravat, a character, which seemed to me to and hastened to the country in pursuit justify his addresses ; but, this time, he of his bride. Her father was rich, and already, in imagination, I saw another interests. “ Non é bella," whispered and the most amiable of my Italian pro- poor Placido on taking leave, “ma ha tégés comfortably settled. A week molta energia e due braccie forte e di elapsed, Placido reappeared ; his lan- carne pure:"—“She is not beautiful, but guid step in the hall, and his discomfited she has much energy and two strong air at the door, announced misfortune. arms-of flesh, too." He bowed sadly, sighed wearily, and ex- It is, indeed, wonderful to note the claimed, “Signor mio, sono desperato.!" arcana of the tragic, the beautiful, and His campaign had opened prosperously; the adventurous supplied by this land he had been warmly received, both by of sunshine and volcanoes, a tideless sea the maiden and her parents ; they walk and an intense lumanity, whence literaed together through verdant lanes, ture and art have so long drawn their watched the budding crocus and the twit- inspiration. Interwoven into the drama tering swallow, sought four-leaved clo- and the life of other nationalities, revers and were sprinkled with apple-blos- produced continually in fiction, on soms, all the time looking unutterable the lyric stage, in poetry and in the things. These were the happiest days looks, tones, and words of the exile or of his life, and a secret presentiment led the vocalist the Italian element, in some him to postpone the word that trembled form, permeates the life of more proson his lips, and thus to prolong an illu- perous countries

sure

now appearing in the sive dream of felicity. At length, on a

bloody episode of Mary Stuart's illmoonlight night, wandering through the fated career, the stains of which are paternal orchard, he spoke and was yet pointed out to the traveler at Holy. answered by a flood of tears. At first rood-now asserting its subtle arrogance he imagined this was the modo Ameri- in the magnificent deceptions of Cag. cano of accepting an offer of marriage, liostrom breathing of voluptuous and but as the sobs continued and the twi- elegiac sentiment in the writings and light prevented sight of la signorina's the London harem of Foscolo; again, expression, he demanded the occasion exhibiting the duplicity which is the of these tears ?” and was answered, “un miserable expedient of weakness, in the segreto terribile!” Ab, suggested the non mi ricordo of the Italian witness Italian jealous instinct, there is another on Queen Caroline's trial ; its amiable lover-dead, absent, perhaps murdered. philosophy incarnated in the exile of “No, by all that is sacred, she had Bulwer's last and most natural fiction; its never loved before;"—then, in the demoniac phase brought out in the cursaint's name, what mystery is this? rent opera of Lucrezia Borgia, and She would not deceive so unsophisticated embodied with horror and pity in Shela suitor-no, not for worlds. The fact ley's “ Cenci." From Napoleon's vic. is, she has a wooden arm! Un braccio tories to Rossini's musical drama; from di legno," repeated the miserable Pla. Pozzo de Borgo's diplomacy to Paoli's cido" una moglie con un braccio di republican virtue; from Marco Polo's legno-oh Dio-non posso !It appears travels to Mezzofanti's philological that the female arm was to him a peculiar achievements ; from Milton's praise of attraction; he cared not for eyes nor Galileo to Ruskin's “Stones of Venice," even lips in comparison, but he could from the splendid patronage of a Medici pot compromise about arms; they must to the private saintliness of Vittoria be round, and long, and gracefully Colonna-poets, princes, churchmen, moulded. Un braccio di legno !” he doges, composers, bandits, improvisaagain muttered, “mai ! mai !" And so tori-Savonarola, Masaniello, Salvator, ended Placido's romance. He abandon- Bellini, Fra Diavolo-names that exed Gotham in disgust, taught the next cite romantic sympathy, enthusiasm, winter in Maine, and the last time I adıniration, distrust, and love ; tales, saw him was, when he called, on his melodies, forms, and utterance, that way to the West, with a hard-visaged serve as a talisman to the imagination, female of about fifty, whom he had met and an appeal to the sympathies the at a Sunday-school teachers' meeting, picturesque, the adventurous, the suband been induced to marry, on her lime, the perfidious, the impassioned, promising to mend his shirts, translate the graceful associations of our travel, his lectures on the “relation between our reading, our senses, and our obsertheology and metaphysios," and other. vation, are, more or less, identified with, wise promote his temporal and spiritual or illustrated by, that “fatal gift of

we

beauty" to which Filicaja ascribes at as Garibaldi, such statesmen as D'Azeonce the misfortunes and the fascina- glio and Cavour, such a philosophic tions of his country.

writer as Gioberti, such a poet as LeoparThese casual impressions, even to di, such an actress as Ristori, and such the untraveled, attain local significance masters of English prose as the exiles through the warm and diversified re- Rufini and Mariotti--to say nothing of the cords of more recent and popular world of imprisoned genius and baffled writers; and we all learn to share the aspiration languishing in the dungeons enthusiasm or discrimination of Childe of Naples, silenced by papal hirelings Harold and Rogers, De Stael and Lady or kept down by the sanguinary talons Morgan, Forsyth and Brydone, Shel. and craven vigilance of the Austrian ley and Hans Andersen, Goethe and eagle-is a living vindication of the Eustace, Gell and Browning, as indomitable and fervent life, individualfollow the footsteps of genius across the ity and supremacy of the national mind, Apennines and along the Mediterra- before which the skepticism, induced by nean. Whoso is untouched by the elo- the fanaticism of a Mazzini, the blind quence of Corinne, may be won by the and hopeless spirit of local insurrecpolitical economy of Sismondi, and the tion, the fear of Austria and the jealmind which is insensible to the muse of ousy of France, should vafish like Laura's lover, may ponder with zest mist before the sun, to the practical the historical novels of Guerazziso and sympathetic vision of England and that, through a favorite picture, tale, America. The last summer's exodus of poem, character, or melody, scarce one foreign travel included an Italian dear intelligent soul escapes the charm of to many of our best citizens. Ho rethe syren. Her mosaic temples and turned to his native land, after twenty classic cameos.adorn fair bosoms; her years' residence among us. Raised a ccents are the universal tongue of from a law student to judicial rank in music; her trophies everywhere the early youth, by virtue of a singular standard and inspiration of art.

union of attainment and mental vigor, Whence, then, the anomaly of Anglo- he was one of the noble band reSaxon indifference ? Is it that the prieved, by a new Austrian Emperor, abstract Italian element in history, from the scaffold at Venice, to be conculture, and refined enjoyment, is wholly signed for years to the dungeons of unidentified with the actual people who Spielberg, there to expiate the crime now represent the nation to which our of patriotism, and, after long and cruel intellectual obligations are so vast !- captivity, emerge, with broken health that the genius of her palmy days is but untamed soul, and find an asylum thought quite unrelated to the race in the New World. The candid simpliwhose gesticulations and volubility re- city, manly resolution, gentle sympa. pulse the executive mind of England thies, and brave ardor of Foresti and America—as the reverse of what is gained him the friendship and the reefficient, manly, and, above all, respect- spect of some of the choicest spirits of able? It will not do to refer our nega- our country, and should redeem the tive sympathy to what is superficially character of his less gifted called the effele condition of Italy. À patriots ; when infirmities, at last, country, any region of which can prevented him from obtaining the bread send forth such troops as Sardinia con- of independence by the daily labor of tributed to the allied army in the & teacher, and cut him off from his Crimea, and where such radical ameli- great solace in exile, social intercourse orations in church and state have been and useful activity, he yearned for the realized without bloodshed, as in that air and sky familiar to his youth, and, progressive constitutional monarchy with the scanty savings of a too gener—a country, whose fresh roll of eminent ous life, returned to Italy, and finds in names includes such a scholar as Mai, Piedmont a safe and honored retreat. such a chemist as Segato, such a soldier Dio lo benedica !

com

LUNA TIROUGH A LORGNETTE.

I

Given by the fair Astarte.
Star-like eyes danced twinkling round me-
Cold they left me as they found me.
One bright vision-one face only-
Made me bappy and yet lonely-
It was hers to whom is given
Rule by night-the queen of heaven.
Ah, how fair she is ! I muttered :
Like a night-moth then I fluttered
Round her light, but dared not enter
That intensely radiant centre,
Whence she filled the clouds about her
Whence she lit the very outer
Darkness and the ocean hoary,
With her floods of golden glory.

[ocr errors]

Some one then, as I stood gazing.
Filled too full of ber for praising,
Of the old time vaguely dreaming,
When she took a mortal seeming,
When the shepherd sprang to meet her,
And he felt a kiss-ah, sweeter
Than o'er lips of mortal maiden
Gave her lover, passion-laden-
Some one with a sneer ascetic,

Broke in on my dream poetic.
“I see more," he said, “ than you, sir,

Should you like a nearer view, sir ?"
And with that, politely handing
Me a lorgnette, left me standing,
In her face directly gazing,
And I saw a sight amazing.
Oh, these dreadful magnifiers
Kill the life of our desires !
Shall I tell you what I saw then ?
All of you around me draw then.
Can she be, as once I thought her,
Phoebus' sister-Jove's fair daughter,
Whom the nigbt-flowers turn to gaze on,
Whom the sleeping streams emblazon-
Lovers' planet-lamp of heaven-
Goddess to whom power is given
Over tides and rolling oceans,
Over all the heart's emotions ?

Ah! farewell, my boyish fancies !
Farewell, all my young romances !
As that orb that shone elysian
On my young poetic vision-
As that crescent boat that lightly
Tilted o'er the cloud-rack nightly,
I again can see her never,
Though I use my best endeavor.
On me once her charms she sprinkled,
Now her face is old and wrinkled.
As Diana, chaste and tender,
Can I now, as once, defend her ?

« 上一頁繼續 »