Page images

Thy mansion splendid, and thy service plate,
Thy coffers fill'd with gold;—well! what of that?
Thy spouse the envy of all other men,

Thy children beautiful and rich,—what then?
Vig'rous thy youth, unmortgag'd thy estate,
Of arts the applauded teacher; what of that?
Troops of acquaintance, and of slaves a train,
This world's prosperity complete, — what then?
Prince, pope, or emperor's thy smiling fate,
With a long life's enjoyment,-what of that?
By Fortune's wheel tost high beyond our ken,
Too soon shall following Time cry- Well! what then?
Virtue alone remains; on Virtue wait,

All else I sweep away; but what of that?

Trust God, and Time defy: eternal is your date.



HERE (at Florence) our little English coterie printed a book, and called it the "Florence Miscellany,”—you have seen it at my lodgings,—and here, one day, for frolic, we betted a wager who could invent the most frightful story, and produce by dinner time.* The clock struck three, and by five we were to meet again. Merry brought a very fine one, but Mr. Greatheed burned his, and the following

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

He tore her from the bleeding body of her husband, and throwing her across his horse, spurred him forward, till even the imaginary noises, which for a while pursued his flight, began to fade away and leave him. leisure to reanimate his brutal passion. He alighted in a distant and deserted place, and by the faint light which the new moon afforded some moments ere she sunk below the horizon, examined his companion, and found her — dead. A crowd of horrid images possessed his mind, but that which prevailed was the fear of discovery. He regained his seat, intent upon escape,

* A somewhat similar competition produced "Frankenstein' and "The Vampire.'

but the horse trembled, and refused to stir. Ruggiero resolved to lose no time in fruitless contentions with his steed, but fly away as fast as it was possible. He ran for a full hour, then found himself entangled by some unseen substance that hindered him from proceeding.

The mountain, which had for thirty years been silent, then gave a hollow groan. Ruggiero knew not that it was the mountain: but a column of blue flame shot up from the crater convinced him, while gathering clouds and solemn stillness of the air announced an approaching earthquake. Ruggiero's joynts began to loosen with the united sensations of guilt and fear; surrounded on all sides by torrents of indurated lava, — which he recollected to have heard flowed from Vesuvius the year that he was born, when both his parents perished in the flames, and he himself was saved as if by miracle, his feet stood fixed by difficulty, whilst his mind ran rapidly over past events. The mountain now swelled with a second sigh, more solemn than before. The hollow ground heaved under him, and by the light of an electrick cloud which caught the blaze as it blew over the hill, he happily discovered a distant crucifix, and seeking with steps become somewhat more steady to gain it. Tears for the first time eased his heart, and gave hope of returning humanity. Ruggiero now prayed for life only that he might gain time to request forgiveness; and after a variety of penances courageously endured, he lives at this day, a hermit on Vesuvius,—religion making that residence

delightful, the sight of which, when guilty, chilled him

with horror, and he scruples not to relate the story of his conversion to those who, passing that way, are sure to partake his hospitality.

This story was never seen since that day by any one.


AMONG many other undeserved praises I received at generous Florence, I select these from Mr. Merry, whom we called Della Crusca, because he was a member of their academy:

"Oh you! whose piercing azure eye

Reads in each heart the feelings there;
You that with purest sympathy

Our transports and our woes can share;
You! that by fond experience prove,
The virtuous bliss of Piozzi's love;
Who while his breast affection warms,
With merit heightens music's charms;

"Oh deign to accept the verse sincere
Nor yet deride my rustic reed;
But pitying wait my woes to hear,
For pity sure is folly's meed;
The good, the liberal, and the kind,
Possess a tolerating mind:

Nor view the madman with a frown
Because of straw he weaves a crown."

These were sincere verses indeed; for he wanted me not to join the Greatheeds and Parsons and Piozzi, who

« PreviousContinue »