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more graceful, and even more sublime, is the moral strength, the silent enduring heroism of the Christian, than the stern, impatient defiance of destiny, which showed so imposing in the heathen! How much more difficult is it sometimes to live than to die!
Più val d'ogni vittoria un bel soffirire. Or as Campbell has expressed nearly the same sentiment,
To bear, is to conquer our fate!
VITTORIA COLONNA, and her famed friend and contemporary, Veronica, Countess of Correggio, are inseparable names in the history of Italian literature, as living at the same time, and equally ornaments of their sex. They resembled each other in poetical talent, in their domestic sorrows and conjugal virtues: in every other respect the contrast is striking. Vittoria, with all her genius, seems to have been as lovely, gentle, and feminine a creature as ever wore the form of woman.
No lily-nomnor fragrant hyacinth,
Had half such softness, sweetness, blessedness. Veronica, on the contrary, was one,
to whose masculine spirit
To touch the stars had seemed an easy flight. She added to her talents and virtues, strong passions,and happily also sufficient energy of mind to govern and direct them. She had not Vittoria's personal charms: it is said, that if her face had equalled her form, she would have been one of the most beautiful women of her time; but her features were irregular, and her grand commanding figure, which in her youth was admired for its perfect proportions, grew large and heavy as she advanced in life. She retained, however, to the last, the animation of her countenance, the dignity of her deportment, and powers of
conversation so fascinating, that none ever approached her without admiration, or quitted her society without regret.
Her verses have not the polished harmony and the graceful suavity of Vittoria's; but more vigour of expréssion, and more vivacity of colouring. Their defects were equally opposed: the simplicity of Veronica sometimes borders upon harshness and carelessness; the uniform sweetness of Vittoria is sometimes too elaborate and arti. frcial.
Veronica Gambara was born in 1485. Her fortunate parents, as her biographer expresses it,* were Count Gian Francisco Gambara, and Alda Pia. In her twenty-fifth year, when already distinguished as a poetess, and a woman of great and various learning, she married Ghi. berto, Count of Correggio, to whom she appears to have been attached with all the enthusiasm of her character, and by whom she was tenderly loved in return. After the birth of her second son, she was seized with a dangerous disorder, of what nature we are not told. The physicians informed her husband that they did not despair of her recovery, but that the remedies, they should be forced to employ would probably preclude all hope of her becoming again a mother. The Count, who had always wished for a numerous offspring, ordered them to employ these remedies instantly, and save her to him at every other risk. She recovered; but the effects upon her constitution were such as had been predicted.
Like Vittoria Colonna, she made the personal qualities and renown of her husband the principal subjects of her verse. She dwells particularly on his fine dark eyes, ex. pressing very gracefully the various feelings they excited in her heart, whether clouded with thought, or serene with happiness, or sparkling with affection. She devotes six Sonnets and a Madrigal to this subject; and if we may believe his poetical and admiring wife, these “occhi stel.
† “ Mollo vagamente epiegando i varj e differenti effetti che andavano cagionando nel di lei core, a misura che essi eran torbidi, o lieti, o sereni." -See her Life by Zamboni.
lante" could combine more variety of expression in a single glance than ever did eyes before or since.
Lieti, mesti, superbi, umili, altieri,
E di timor m'empiete.There is a great power and pathos in one of her poems, written on his absence.
O Stella! O Fato ! del mio mal si avaro!
Veronica lost her husband, after nine years of the happiest union.t He gave her an incontrovertible proof of his attachment and boundless confidence, by leaving her his sole executrix, with the government of Correggio, and the guardianship of his children during their minority Her grief on this occasion threw her into a dangerous and protracted fever, which during the rest of her life attacked her periodically. She says in one of her poems, that nothing but the fear of not meeting her beloved husband in Paradise prevented her from dying with him. She not only vowed herself to a perpetual widowhood, but to a perpetual mourning; and the extreme vivacity of her imagination was displayed in the strange trappings of wo with which she was henceforth surrounded. She lived in apartments hung and furnished with black, and from which every object of luxury was banished; her liveries, her coach, her horses, were of the same funereal hue. There is extant a curious letter addressed by her to Ludovico Rossi, in which she entreats her dear Messer Ludovico, by all their mutual friendship, to procure, at any price, a certain black horse, to complete her set of carriage horses-“ più che notte oscuri, conformi, proprio a miei travagli.” Over the door of her sleeping-room she inscribed the distich which Virgil has put into the mouth of Dido.
Ille meos, primus qui me sibi junxit, amores,
* Sonnet 16.
He who once had my vows, shall ever have,
Beloved on earth and worshipped in the grave! But, unlike Dido, she did not “profess too much.” She kept her word. Neither did she neglect her duties; but more fortunate in one respect than her fair and elegant friend the Marchesana, she had two sons, to whose education she paid the utmost attention, while she administered the government of Correggio with equal firmness and gentleness. Her husband had left a daughter,* whom she educated and married with a noble dower. Her eldest son, Hypolito, became a celebrated military commander; her youngest and favourite son, Girolamo, was created a cardinal. Wherever Veronica loved, it seems to have been with the same passionate abandon which distinguished her character in every thing. Writing to a friend to recommend her son to his kind offices, she assures him that, he (her son) is not only a part of herself—but rather herself. “Remember,” she says, “Ch'egli è la Verónica medesima,"—a strong and tender expression.
We find her in correspondence with all the most illustrious characters, political and literary, of that time; and chiefly with Ariosto, Bembo, Molza, Sanazzaro, and Vittoria Colonna. Ariosto has paid her an elegant compliment in the last canto of the Orlando Furioso. She is one among the company of beautiful and accomplished women and noble knights, who hail the poet at the conclusion of his work, as a long-travelled mariner is welcomed to the shore:
Veronica da Gambara e con loro
Si grata a Febo, e al santo aonio cero. This was distinction enough to immortalize her, if she had not already immortalized herself.
Veronica was not a prolific poetess; but the few Sonnets she has left, have a vigour, a truth and simplicity, not often met with among the rimatori of that rhyming age. She has written fewer good poems than Vittoria Colonna, but among them, two which are reckoned superior to Vittoria's best,-one addressed to the rival mo
* Constance, by his first wife, Violante di Mirandola.