Sivut kuvina

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-bee.

"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.




HOSE of my readers who have frequented the garden of Doctor Rappaccini no doubt recall with perfect distinctness the quaint old city of Padua. They remember its miles and miles of dim arcade over-roofing the sidewalks everywhere, affording excellent opportunity for the flirtation of lovers by day and the vengeance of rivals by night. They have seen the now vacant streets thronged with maskers, and the Venetian Podestà going in gorgeous state to and from the vast Palazzo della Ragione. They have witnessed ringing tournaments in those sad, empty squares, and races in the Prato della Valle, and many other wonders of different epochs, and their pleasure makes me half sorry that I should have lived for several years within an hour by rail from Padua, and should know little or nothing of these great sights from actual observation. I take shame to myself for having visited Padua so often and so familiarly as I used to do,- for having been bored and hungry there, for having had toothache there, upon one occasion, for having rejoiced more in a cup of coffee at Pedrocchi's than in the whole history of Padua,- for having slept repeatedly in the bad-bedded hotels of Padua and never once dreamt of Portia, — for having been more taken by the salti mortali* of a waiter who summed up my account at a Paduan restaurant, than by all the strategies with which the city has been many times captured and recaptured. Had I viewed Padua only over the wall of Doctor Rappaccini's garden, how different my impressions of the city would now be! This is one of the drawbacks of actual knowledge.

[ocr errors]

• Salti mortali are those prodigious efforts of mental arithmetic by which Italian waiters, in verbally presenting your account, arrive at six as the product of two and two.

"Ah! how can you write about Spain when once you have been there?" asked Heine of Théophile Gautier setting out on a journey thither.

Nevertheless it seems to me that I remember something about Padua with a sort of romantic pleasure. There was a certain charm which I can dimly recall, in sauntering along the top of the old wall of the city, and looking down upon the plumy crests of the Indiancorn that flourished up so mightily from the dry bed of the moat. At such times I could not help figuring to myself the many sieges that the wall had known, with the fierce assault by day, the secret attack by night, the swarming foe upon the plains below, the bristling arms of the besieged upon the wall, the boom of the great mortars made of ropes and leather and throwing mighty balls of stone, the stormy flight of arrows, the ladders planted against the defences and staggering headlong into the moat, enriched for future agriculture not only by its sluggish waters, but by the blood of many men. I suppose that most of these visions were old stage spectacles furbished up anew, and that my armies were chiefly equipped with their obsolete implements of warfare from museums of armor and from cabinets of antiquities; but they were very vivid, for all that.

I was never able, in passing a certain one of the city gates, to divest myself of an historic interest in the great loads of hay waiting admission on the outside. For an instant they masked again the Venetian troops that, in the war of the League of Cambray, entered the city in the hay-carts, shot down the landsknechts at the gates, and, uniting with the citizens, cut the German garrison to pieces. But it was a thing long past. The German garrison was here again; and the heirs of the landsknechts went clanking through the gate to the parade-ground, with that fierce clamor of their kettle-drums which is so much

fiercer because unmingled with the noise of fifes. Once more now the Germans are gone, and, let us trust, forever; but when I saw them, there seemed little hope of their going. They had a great Biergarten on the top of the wall, and they had set up the altars of their heavy Bacchus in many parts of the city.

I please myself with thinking that, if I walked on such a spring day as this in the arcaded Paduan streets, I should catch glimpses, through the gateways of the palaces, of gardens full of vivid bloom, and of fountains that tinkle there forever. If it were autumn, and I were in the great market-place before the Palazzo della Ragione, I should hear the baskets of amber-hued and honeyed grapes humming with the murmur of multitudinous bees, and making a music as if the wine itself were already singing in their gentle hearts. It is a great field of succulent verdure, that wide old market-place; and fancy loves to browse about among its gay stores of fruits and vegetables, brought thither by the world-old peasant-women who have been bringing fruits and vegetables to the Paduan market for so many centuries. They sit upon the ground before their great panniers, and knit and doze, and wake up with a drowsy "Comandala?" as you linger to look at their grapes. They have each a pair of scales, -the emblem of Injustice, — and will weigh you out a scant measure of the fruit, if you like. Their faces are yellow as parchment, and Time has written them so full of wrinkles that there is not room for another line. Doubtless these old parchment visages are palimpsests, and would tell the whole history of Padua if you could get at each successive inscription. Among their primal records there must be some account of the Roman city, as each little contadinella remembered it on market-days; and one might read of the terror of Attila's sack, a little later, with the peasant-maid's personal recollections of the bold Hunnish trooper who ate up the grapes in her basket, and kissed her hard, round red cheeks,- for in that

time she was a blooming girl, — and paid nothing for either privilege. What wild and confused reminiscences on the wrinkled visage we should find thereafter of the fierce republican times, of Ecelino, of the Carraras, of the Venetian rule! And is it not sad to think of systems and peoples all passing away, and these ancient women lasting still, and still selling grapes in front of the Palazzo della Ragione? What a long mortality!

The youngest of their number is a thousand years older than the palace, which was begun in the twelfth century, and which is much the same now as it was when first completed. I know that, if I entered it, I should be sure of finding the great hall of the palace-the vastest hall in the world- dim and dull and dusty and delightful, with nothing in it except at one end Donatello's colossal marble-headed wooden horse of Troy, stared at from the other end by the two dog-faced Egyptian women in basalt placed there by Belzoni.

Late in the drowsy summer afternoons I should have the Court of the University all to myself, and might study unmolested the blazons of the noble youth who have attended the school in different centuries ever since 1200, and have left their escutcheons on the walls to commemorate them. At the foot of the stairway ascending to the schools from the court is the statue of the learned lady who was once a professor in the University, and who, if her likeness belie not her looks, must have given a great charm to student life in other times. At present there are no lady professors at Padua, any more than at Harvard; and during late years the schools have suffered greatly from the interference of the Austrian government, which frequently closed them for months, on account of political demonstrations among the students. But now there is an end of this and many other stupid oppressions; and the time-honored University will doubtless regain its ancient importance. Even in 1864 it had nearly fifteen hundred students, 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.

[blocks in formation]

ing 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 acWe 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."

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

"I think not. It is here in this pock- with knives; but whatever the form of et. 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 Arquà. 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

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

« EdellinenJatka »