Page images


MESSER CHRISTOFORO, who showed us the Specola at Bologna, and made his short but pathetic eulogium on the lamented Dottoressa, pointed with his finger (I believe he could not speak) to her much-admired and well-known verses on the gate:

“Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa, — quid inde ?

Si species auri, argenti quoque massa, — quid inde ?
Si tibi sponsa decens, si sit generosa, — quid inde ?
Si tibi sunt nati; si prædia magna, — quid inde ?
Si fueris pulcher, fortis, divesve, — quid inde ?
Si doceas alios in qualibet arte; - quid inde ?
Si longus servorum inserviat ordo:— quid inde ?
Si faveat mundus, si prospera cuncta, — quid inde ?
Si prior, aut abbas, si dux, si papa, — quid inde ?
Si felix annos regnes per mille, — quid inde ?
Si rota Fortunæ se tollit ad astra, — quid inde ?
Tam cito, tamque cito fugiunt hæc ut nihil, — inde.
Sola manet Virtus ; nos glorificabimur, — inde.
Ergo Deo pare, bene nam tibi provenit — inde.”

I brought them home, of course, and tried to translate them ; but ventured not the translation out of my sight till now.

26th October, 1815.


Thy mansion splendid, and thy service plate,
Thy coffers filled 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, unmortgaged 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 a frolic, we betted a wager who could invent the most frightful story, and produce by dinnertime.* 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

“FRAGMENT OF A SCENE NEAR NAPLES” carried off the palm of victory.

He tore her from the bleeding body of her hushand, 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, 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

* A somewhat similar compact or competition produced“ Frankenstein" and “ The Vampire.”

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 electric 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 :

“ O 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 ;

“ O 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 were all persuading him to go home, and not Aing any more time away in prosecuting his dangerous passion for Lady Cowper; while the Grand Duke himself was his rival. I answered his application, poor fellow! in the concluding verses of our “ Florence Miscellany.” They wanted it larger; so I said :

The book 's imperfect you declare,
And Piozzi has not given her share ;
What's to be done ? some wits in vogue
Would quickly find an epilogue,

« PreviousContinue »