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Sylv. Ha! who's there? • Jeron. 'Tis I.
Sylo. Who is 't?
• Jeron. Must I then speak, and tell my name to you? Sylvestra, fair Sylvestra! know me now:
Not now? and is my very voice so changed
By wretchedness, that you-you know me not?
Sylv. Begone. I'll wake my husband if You tread a step: begone.
Sylv. Ha! speak.
• Jeron. Hide your eyes:
Aye, hide them, married woman! lest you see
The wreck of him that loved you.
6 Sylv. Not me. "Jeron. Yes
Lov'd you like life; like heaven and happiness. Lov'd you and kept your name against this heart, (Ill boding amulet) 'till death.
"Jeron. And now I come to bring your wandering thoughts Back to their innocent home. Thus, as 'tis said,
Do spirits quit their leaden urns, to tempt
Wretches from sin. Some have been seen o'nights
To stand, and point their rattling finger at
The red moon as it rose; (perhaps to turn
Man's thoughts on high.) Some their lean arms have stretch'd 'Tween murderers and their victims: Some have laugh'd Ghastly, upon-the bed of wantonness,
And touch'd the limbs with death.
Sylv. You will not harm me?
"Jeron. Why should I not?—No, no, poor girl! I come not
To mar your delicate limbs with outrage, I
Have lov'd too well for that. Had you but lov'd
Sylv. I did, I did!
Jeron. Away-My brain is well:
(Though late 'twas hot.) You lov'd! away, away. This to a dying man?
Sylv. Óh! you will live
Long, aye, and happily: will wed perhaps→
Jeron. Nay, pr'ythee cease.
Sylvestra! you and I
Were children here some few short springs ago,
And lov'd like children: I the elder; you
The loveliest girl that ever tied her hair
Across a sunny brow of Italy.
I still remember how your delicate foot
Tripped on the lawn at vintage-time, and how,
When others ask'd you, you would only give
Your hand to me.
I thought,-speak softly for my husband sleeps,
I thought, when you did stay abroad so long,
And never sent nor asked of me or mine,
You'd quite forgotten Italy.
• Sylv. Indeed, indeed. • Jeron. Then be it.
Yet, what had I done Fortune that she could
Abandon me so entirely? Never mind 't:
Have a good heart, Sylvestra: they who hate
Can kill us, but no more, that's comfort. Oh!
The journey is but short, and we can reckon
On slumbering sweetly with the freshest earth
Sprinkled about us. There no storms can shake
Our secure tenement; nor need we fear,
Though cruelty be busy with our fortunes,
Or scandal with our names.
Sylv. Alas, alas!
• Jeron. Sweet! in the land to come we'll feed on flowers.
Droop not, my beautiful child. Oh! we will love
Then without fear; no mothers there; no gold,
Nor hate, nor paltry perfidy, none, none.
We have been doubly cheated. Who'll believe
A mother could do this? but let it pass.
Anger suits not the grave. Oh! my own love,
Too late I see thy gentle constancy.
I wrote, and wrote, but never heard; at last,
Quitting that place of pleasure, home I came
And found you-married: Then-
• Jeron. Then I
Grew moody, and at times I fear my brain
Was fever'd: but I could not die, Sylvestra,
And bid you no farewell.
Sylv. Jeronymo !
Break not my heart thus: They-they did deceive me.
They told me that the girls of France were fair,
And you had scorn'd your poor and childish love;
Threaten'd, and vow'd, cajol'd, and then-I married.
• Jeron. Oh!
• Sylv. What's the matter?
• Jeron. Soft! The night wind sounds
A funeral dirge for me, sweet! Let me lie
Upon thy breast; I will not chill't, my love.
It is a shrine where Innocence might die :
Nay, let me lie there once; for once, Sylvestra!
Sylv. Pity me!
• Jeron. So I do.
Sylv. Then talk not thus ;
Though but a jest, it makes me tremble.
• Jeron. Jest?
Look in my eye, and mark how true the tale
I've told you: On its glassy surface lies
Death, my Sylvestra. It is nature's last
And beautiful effort to bequeath a fire
To that bright ball on which the spirit sate
Through life; and look'd out, in its various moods,
Of gentleness and joy and love and hope,
And gain'd this frail flesh credit in the world.
It is the channel of the soul: Its glance
Draws and reveals that subtle power, that doth
Redeem us from our gross mortality.
Sylv. Why, now you're cheerful.
" Jeron. Yes; 'tis thus I'd die.
· Sylo. Now I must smile.
'Jeron. Do so, and I'll smile too.
I do; albeit-ah! now my parting words
Lie heavy on my tongue; my lips obey not,
And-speech-comes difficult from me.
Farewell. Sylvestra! where's your hand?
Sylv. Ah! cold.
• Jeron. 'Tis so; but scorn it not, my own poor girl.
They've used us hardly: Bless 'em though. Thou wilt
Forgive them? One's a mother, and may feel,
When that she knows me dead. Some air-more air:
Where are you?—I am blind-my hands are numb'd:
This is a wintry night. So,-cover me. [dies]."'
The extract we are now about to lay before our readers from the tale of Diego de Montilla will scarcely be recognised as the production of the same Author. Whether this arises from the versatility or the limitation and misdirection of the Author's powers, we leave them to decide.
The octave rhyme (Ital. ottava rima)
Is a delightful measure made of ease
with epigram, and, tho' it seem a
Verse that a man may scribble when he please,
Is somewhat difficult; indeed, I deem ́a
Stanza like Spenser's will be found to teaze
Less, or heroic couplet; there, the pen
May touch and polish and touch up again.
But, for the octave measure-
e-it should slip
Like running water o'er its pebbled bed,
Making sweet music, (here I own I dip
In Shakspeare for a simile) and be fed
Freely, and then the poet must not nip
The line, nor square the sentence, nor be led
By old, approved, poetic canons; no,
But give his words the slip, and let 'em go.
• I mean to give in this same pleasant rhyme
Some short account of Don Diego de
Montilla, quite a hero in his time,
Who conquered captain Cupid as you'll see :
My tale is sad in part, in part sublime,
With here and there a smack of pleasantry;
As to the moral, why—'tis under cover.
I leave it for the reader to discover.'
• Diego was a knight, but more enlighten'd
Than knights were then, or are, in his countree,
Young, brave-(at least, he'd never yet been frightened)
Well-bred, and gentle, as a knight should be:
He played on the guitar, could read and write and
Had seen some parts of Spain, and (once) the sea.
That sort of man one hopes to meet again,
And the most amorous gentleman in Spain.
• The Don Diego (mind this, Don Dieygo :
Pronounce it rightly,) fell in love. He saw
The daughter of a widow from Tobago,
Whose husband fell with honour : i. e. War
Ate up the lord of this same old virago,
Who strait returned to Spain, and went to law
With the next heir, but wisely first bespoke
The smartest counsel, for that's half the joke.
• The lady won
then suitors came
To woo her and her daughters : she had two:
Aurelia was the elder, and her name,
Grace, wit, and so forth, thro' the country flew
Quicker than scandal : young Aurora's fame-
She had no fame, poor girl, and yet she
And brightened into beauty, as a flower
Shakes off the rain that dims its earlier hour.
• Aurelia had some wit, and, as I've said,
Grace, and Diego lov'd her like his life ;
Offer'd to give her half his board and bed,
In short he woo'd the damsel for a wife,
But she turned to the right about her head,
And gave some tokens of (not love but) strife ;
And bade him wait, be silent, and forget
Such nonsense : He heard this, and-lov'd her yet.' A man has no right to expect that we should be at the pains of toiling through fifty or sixty stanzas of such dull trifling as this, in order to get at some few beautiful lines which he has chosen to conceal ainid the rubbish. But we must do our Autbor tbis act of charity.
• melancholy Love! amidst thy fears,
Thy darkness, thy despair, there runs a vein
Of pleasure, like a smile 'midst many tears,
The pride of sorrow that will not complain-
The exultation that in after years
The loved one will discover-and in vain,
How much the heart silently in its cell
Did suffer till it broke, yet nothing tell.
Else-wherefore else doth lovely woman keep
Lock'd in her heart of hearts, from every gaze
Hidden, her struggling passion-wherefore weep
In grief that never while it flows allays
Those tumults in the bosom buried deep,
And robs her bright eyes of their natural rays ?
Creation's sweetest riddle !—yet remain
Just as thou art; man's only worthy gain.
And thou, poor Spanish maid, ah! what hadst thou
Done to the archer blind, that he should dart
His cruel shafts till thou wast forced to bow
In bitter anguish, aye, endure the smart
The more because thou wor'st a smiling brow
While the dark arrow canker'd at thy heart?
Yet jeer her not: if 'twere a folly, she
Hath paid (how firmly paid) Love's penalty.
Oft would she sit and look upon the sky,
When rich clouds in the golden sun-set lay
Basking, and loved to hear the soft winds sigh
That come like music at the close of day
Trembling amongst the orange blooms, and die
As 'twere from very sweetness.
She was gay,
Meekly and calmly gay, and then her gaze
Was brighter than belongs to dying days.
· And on her young thin cheek a vivid flush,
A clear transparent colour sate awhile :
'Twas like, a bard would say, the morning's blush,
And round her mouth there play'd a gentle smile,
Which tho' at first it might your terrors hush,
It could not, tho' it strove, at last beguile;
And her hand shook, and then 'rose the blue vein
Branching about in all its windings plain.
The girl was dying. Youth and beauty-all
Men love or women boast of was decaying,
And one by one life's finest powers did fall
Before the touch of death, who seem'd delaying,
'As tho' he'd not the heart at once to call
The maiden to his home. At last, arraying
Himself in softest guise, he came she sigh'd,
And, smiling as tho' her lover whisper'd, died.'
This last stanza is exquisitely beautiful; and the whole passage, although it does not display any remarkable originality or power of thought, is written with much taste and feeling; qualities which in our estimation far outweigh that wit and humour in