Слике страница
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


Of Northern Lombardy or our · Tuscan Fringed with a scanty flower-bed and o'ertowns

hung Would gladly call her Gualtiero's bride, By a dark grove of olives, intermixed Saluzzo's Countess, yet my love to her With pale ceringos and acacia bowers, Who gave me birth, whom still ye burghers A humble cottage stood. Giannuculo, love,

Its tenant, was a labourer of the soil, Forbids me to ambition aught that is And sixty summer suns had bronzed his Inferior to herself; and many a mile


[fair, Well might I traverse both by land and sea, With him there dwelt a daughter, passing Ere I beheld her equal, or in mien, The envy of each youthful villager Or in a loving, loyal, trusting heart.

On this side and on that. Her girlhood Peerless she was, and peerless yet remains, Nor can ye point to her that is her peer. Was scarcely passing into womanhood, Yet it mislikes me that this city fair

And yet she showed a woman's care of Should risk its being or its weal on one


[lips Who bears and carries no enchanted life. Who was her sire, and who with duteous So, masters, if it please ye, I will strive Said daily, De profundis," for the soul Against mine inclination, and will seek Of her departed mother. She was fair ; A maiden who shall be unto your hearts: But not so fair as modest, pure, and chaste. And if beside she be to me, good sirs, A violet from beneath a moss-clad stone A loyal friend, submissive, fond, and true, Peeping in early spring-tide did not cast It may be that I even shall rejoice

Its glance more shyly forth upon the vale To give a Countess to this city fair.

Than did Griselda when she spoke and But stay, one warning. Whom I choose smiled.

[sire, as bride

And prized was she much by her rustic Of Gualtiero, be she who she may,

Who called her his fair flow'ret; and his Of royal, noble, or ignoble blood,

friend, Ye swear to me, right worthy sirs, that ye The padre of the hamlet, vowed with pride And all my people loyally accept

That ne'er was beauty more allied with And reverence, as though she were a queen worth. Of gay Ravenna, or of Milan proud, "Thrice happy!" would he say, “the swain Ay, or of fair Firenze, come what may."



Shall win her heart's affection, and shall He spoke: the burghers swore, and Griselda mistress of his humble home.” straight retired;

[path The gay crowd parted, and the terrace- It chanced one day, one summer eventide, Lay lonely and deserted as in knots A stranger gay, with horses, hawks, and Of twain and three the burghers home- hounds,

(town, ward paced,

Weary with sport, rode homeward to the Much pondering in perplexed wonder- And down the western slope of the tall hill ment.

Nearing the convent portal, reined his And Gualtiero called his hound, and steed,

(rein. stroked

Then lighting, walked along and held his His courser's arched neck, then as half in- Passing the cottage of Giannuculo, clined

(maze ;

The stranger stayed a moment, and adTo wish his words unsaid, stood in a dressed Like erst Adonis, when he heard the voice A word of greeting to the old man's ear, Of Aphrodite by his hunter's side,

As basking in the evening sun he sat. And heedless spurned and scorned her How now? what, all alone? and hast proffered love.

thou none, Or wife or child, to cheer thy loneliness?

'Faith, by the Virgin, you and I, good sir, PART II.

Are our own masters. On the grey slope of an Abruzzian hill,

Scarce the word was spoke, Where a steep bridle-path leads from the When, singing as she tripped along the road

path, To the grim convent's portal, and a cross From the pure fountain at the garden side Marks limit to the consecrated ground, Bearing a draught of water fresh and clear,


Griselda came. The stranger stepped aside, Much wondering to behold vision so fair. Then spoke his heart unto his inner self,Poor though she be, that maiden fair, I vow,

againBefore this moon hath waned and waxed No! that were long to wait; this very eveShall be Saluzzo's Countess and the bride Of Gualtiero !"

And no sooner thought Had passed into speech, than he declared Unto Giannuculo his love.

I read In this sweet maiden's features all I seek To gladden and to grace the palace halls In which erewhile my mother Constance

shone. I am Saluzzo's Count; and in her eyes I see the eyes of Constance; in her gait, The princely queen-like mien; those raven

locks, The marble of her forehead, -all, I swear, Remember me of what my mother was.

You do much honour to our poor estate, Most noble Count; and if it be thy will Towed my daughter, let that will be done. Only I fear that she may climb too high, And take her seat upon a throne awhence One day her downfall shall more grievous


Placed on her unkempt hair, and cried aloud,

(view, As flocked the wond'ring rustics to the “Behold the maiden whom I make this day

(next My wife, Saluzzo's Countess." Greeting Honest Giannuculo, forthwith he set Griselda on a palfrey, and she rode On his left hand straight to the palace gates. Forth came the heralds at the gladsome

(self, And cried, “Behold our lord Gualtiero's And greet his bride with loud and glad

acclaim, For she is worthy of a princely mate. The trumpets echoed back the voice of praise,

(the fires, Pealed the sweet bells ef churches, blazed And glad Saluzzo woke to life once more.

PART III. Twelve months, twelve happy months have

come and gone, And Gualtiero with a deep'ning love Doth cherish his fair bride, and ever fresh Appear the tokens of his fond regard. But when to a wife's title she did add The name of mother, and a daughter fair She bore, his countenance became

estranged. Harsh words he uttered in his angry mood: “What! can ye bear no son? In vain

have I Sought out a bride in thee, if issue none Or none but female issue be my lot. Hark how my subjects mutter in their scorn, Curse thy mean parentage and poor estate: Thou art not what I hoped to find in thee. That child thou nursest in thine arms, I cast

[birds Upon the bleak hill's side, to dogs and A fitting prey. Now dost thou know thy fate!

(but why To whom Griselda, "Good, my lord; Thus tax me with reproof? Nay, deal

with me As best befits thy weal and happiness. Did I not promise fealty to my lord ? I bow my will submissive unto thine. I am by birth the meanest of the race That owns thee master; and I was not fit To sit advanced to such high dignity. Nay, send me back unto that humble cot Whence thou didst lead me, a plain village maid,

(beside Robeless and crownless, rich in nought But in the love of him who sought my love And in the gift of honest maidenhood.

"Fear not, my friend; but first, in order

due, 'Tis fitting that I question her one word. I am Saluzzo's Count; I seek thy hand, Thy hand and heart; say, wilt thou bend

thy will, Whole and entire, and in no stinted share, Unto my will obedient, come what may; Nor shrink to render service to thy lord, Who loves thee, but whose will must be

thy law?"

The maiden laid her pitcher on the

ground; Stood for a moment half amazed and shy, Then looked to heaven, as though she

would attest The saints to her resolve, and said "I will."

He led her by the hand, and bade her strip

(smock; Her poor apparel, save one threadbare Then called for richest garments, silken

hose, Tunic and corselet, and a flowing robe Of satin tissue; and a coronet

[blocks in formation]

Nay, if thou wilt be hard of heart, then take My tender infant; cast her to the wolves That prowl around th' Abruzzi. She is thine.

(tears Yet cast her not unto the wolves, with I do implore thee; with a mother's tears ; Unless it be thy will; and if so be, Thy will and God's be done."

Stepped forth at this Two men, fierce scowling, and with

threatening glance [a word. Drew daggers from their sides, nor spake Yet stood Griselda still, and kissed her

babe, And made the holy sign upon her brow, And bound a tiny cross around her neck, And only cried, Thy will and God's be

done! It may be that the holy saints who guard Our marriage bed, will to my prayer give

ear, And grant me yet a son in face and form To image forth his father's lineaments; That son shall be a bond between us yet, And recompense my loss. Thy will be


My mind is fixed; and ere to-morrow's sun Hath set, thy father's door receives thee

buck As naked as thou camest thence to me. And for thy son

"Nay, good my lord, I bow Unto thy voice, thy word, thy will--my law. I bow, obedient; though it wrings my heart, My very heart of hearts, not to lay down The coronet thou didst place upon my brow, But the dear name of mother, and to see Thy henchmen bear the sweet fruit of my

womb To perish on the hills. Nay, cast him not Unto the wolves, as erst-But nay, my

tongue Shall ne'er give utterance to reproachful

word. Gualtiero's wife shall ever worthy be Of her who was his mother. But my son-Cast him not to the wolves, unless it be Thy will; and then thy will and God's be

done. Yet ere I go upon my lonely road, A wife discrowned, yet scarce dishonoured, One word I crave. This crown, these

jewels bright, This silk attire, yes, and this golden ring, With which thou didst espouse my maiden

hand, I give thee back, for they are thine-no gifts, But only lent me for a little space. You bid me take the dowry that I brought: You need no teller for to count the dross, Nor I a purse to wrap it in, far less A sumpter-horse or mule to carry it. Naked you took me from my father's hands, And naked I return, such as I came, Bereft of nought, save only maidenhood; That jewel thou can'st ne'er give back to


Twelve months, twelve anxious months

have rolled on, And to the vacant cradle of the babe Succeeds a son. Fair was his cheek, and

bright His eye, and dark his hair, like Constance's. He grew to prattle on Griselda's knee, And know her voice, and call her “mother

dear,” Nor shrank in terror at the plumèd crest Of Gualtiero.

As she sat one day Upon the terrace, playing with her boy, The father stern approached, and threatening spake.

{true, “Griselda, thou art pure, and good, and Nor ever hast thou failed in loyalty To me thy lord. My will is thiné. 'Tis well It should be so. Then hear. My burghers Mutter in silence, or complain aloud, [all A humble peasant's child should be my heir,

[that thou Their future lord. 'Tis therefore meet Give up this boy to share his sister's fate, And then return to that which was thy home Hard by the convent gate; Giannuculo Will give thee welcome, and his agèd heart Haply thou mayest cheer. Meantime my

[wilt, Yearns for a nobler mate. Say what thou

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

my soul

'Twas for her children—were they dead and gone,

(they? Torn by fierce wolves, or men as fierce as Or did they live? And she would cross her

breast, And cry, "O Holy Mother of the Christ, Grant me the gift of patience, to control The throbbings of a wife's, a mother's heart. God's will and thine be done, and his to

whom I still am true, a wife and yet ro wife.' Ten years, ten weary years have rolled on; Griselda sits within her father's cot, And save unto the village chapel, or The convent gate, ne'er hath she wandered

forth, But ever-patient and without complaint, Bearing the silent burden of her woe, Hath lived an angel's life. Giannuculo Blessed day by day his child, so pure, so fair, So woe-worn, yet so meek amid her woes; And cried, “ Heaven pardon him who did

thee wrong!" One summer morn, twelve years the very

day Since that Griselda in her cottage home Had first beheld her lord-in hottest haste A horseman reins his steed before the door, Where sits Giannuculo in pensive mood. “The Count, my lord and master and thine

own, Hath sent to call thy daughter, fair Griselde, Upon the pain of fealty, to appear This day within his palace gates. Once more Saluzzo joys to learn its lord, the Count, Our gracious Gualtiero, hath prepared His balls to welcome a new bride, as fair As was Griselda, and of nobler blood. To-morrow-for the Court of Rome mean.

while Hath granted dispensation for the deedGod's priest before God's altar shall stand

forth And publicly proclaim our noble chief And a fair daughter of Count Panago, In God's name and the Church's, man and

wife. And need there is that every chamber shine Beswept and garnished, that the palace

smile Resplendent, as befits a bridal day. Griselda's hands are not ill used to toil ; Griselda's eyes will keep good watch and

ward Over the kitchen and the banquet-hall. Say, shall she come obedient to my voice?"

To-morrow's sun arose. Griselda went,
She swept the palace halls, garnished the i

floor, The couches, each familiar guest-chamber Dressed in its gayest colours, and came forth To greet the Countess as she stepped from off

Her palfrey at the gate. The guests are
And all is expectation, and the feast
Will soon begin.

"And now, what thinkest thou,
Griselda, of my bride?"the Countexclaimed.
"Sooth she is fair, yes, passing fair, and fit
To deck these halls, as none afore her was.
And, if she be as good as she is fair,
You may reign happy in Saluzzo's halls,
And hand your heritage to a long line
Of noble sons, sprung from your princely

But oh! if I may breathe one prayer, I pray
Thou mayst not rack this youthful maiden's

heart As thou hast racked another's. Yet withal Thy will, my lord, and God's own will be

done. Young is thy bride, and nurtured tenderly; I was a tougher sapling, and I knew To bend me to the storm, as one who learnt

Life's fitful moods, and as a child was
To hardships, ay, from earliest infancy.
Yet stay–what mean this locket, and this

It is the same which twelve long years ago
I bound about that neck-the neck of her,
My first-born child ! O God and saints of

Do I yet see my own, my long-lost child?
And by her side, so like their father's face,
Her brother? or does sight bemock my

My mother's heart, or is it all a dream?
God's will and Gualtiero's will be done!"
She spoke, and swooning, sank upon the

Then rose the Count, and every lip was

Hushed in amazing silence; and he spoke:
“Ye burghers of Saluzzo, trusty friends,
Worshipful sirs, ye see before ye here
Griselda, my most spotless, noblest bride.
This lady who hath stepped from off her

And sitteth in the seat of honour there,
Is not a child of noble Panago, (see
But sprung from me, her sire. Griselda,
In her thy long-lost daughter, and in him,

[blocks in formation]

This noble youth, thy well-beloved son.
Oh, fair thou art, Griselda, passing fair,
Yet not so fair as noble. Say, was ere
Daughter of Eve, who could so far forget
Herself, her children, all save loyalty
To her espoused lord? who patient thus
Could brook to see her children wrenched

And cast unto the wolves, nor yet complain,
Nor utter word of tenderest reproach?
Nay, that which saints and angels could

not do, Griselda, thou hast done ; therefore to me Dearer thou art than all the world beside; And once more I do greet thee here before Th' assembled burghers of this city fair The partner of my crown, my bed, my life. And here in token of my words, I vow, This day unto the very end of time Hallowed shall be through all my wide

domains; And thou, Griselda, saint and wife in one, Shalt stand in marble in our city's streets, Patient Griselda, iair, and good, and great. Much have I wronged thee; but 'tis thine

to cast A tender eye, forgiving all that wrong. It is for man to err; but to forgive Belongs to woman and high Heaven alone."

And is Griselda but a thrice-told tale? And can we read no lesson in her life? Yes, such a thing there lives as biding faith, Undoubting and unswerving loyalty,

In wedded love, yes, and in friendship too.
Be it a man's, be it a woman's heart,
Let time go on, let months roll on to years,
And years to ages, yet he conquers who
Ever endures and patiently abides,
Till Heaven doth righteously “defend the

In every sufferer in the sacred cause
Of loyalty and love, Griselda lives;
For pure affection "seeketh not her own,
Is not provoked by trifles, evil none
Doth think, but bideth patiently, all

things Suffereth, endureth, beareth," to the end. Yes, years may come, and years may glide

away, Fashions and forms may change, and raven

locks Turn grey with care, and hearts grow dull

and cold That once did beat responsive to our own; But loyal friendship, friendly loyalty, Holds on its even course, steers to the port Of peace and rest, though storms may rage

without. Then fret not, loyal and devoted soul. The fiery torment that long time did wrack Griselda's heart, may wrack thine own;

and yet

There is a silvery lining to each cloud, And who "in patience doth his soul

possess Or soon or late he will the victor be.

« ПретходнаНастави »