« EelmineJätka »
narchs, Charles the Fifth and Francis the First, exhorting them to give peace to Italy, and unite their forces to protect civilized Europe from the incursions of the infidels; the other, which is exquisitely tender and picturesque, was composed on revisiting her native place, Brescia, after the death of her husband.
Poi che per mia ventura a veder torno, &c. It may be found in the collection of Mathias.
Veronica da Gambara died in 1550, and was buried by her husband.
It should seem that poetical talents and conjugal truth and tenderness were inherent in the family of Veronica. Her niece, Camilla Valentini, the authoress of some very sweet poems, which are to be found in various Scelte, mar. ried the Count del Verme, who died after a union of several years. She had flung herself, in a transport of grief, on the body of her husband; and when her attendants attempted to remove her, they found her-dead! Even in that moment of anguish her heart had broken.
O judge her gently, who so deeply loved!
I have been detained too long in the sweet South;" yet, before we quit it for the present, I must allude to one or two names which cannot be entirely passed over, as belonging to the period of which we have been speakingthe golden age of Italy and of literature.
Bernardino Rota, who died in 1575, a poet of considerable power and pathos, has left a volume of poems, “ In vita e in morte di Porzia Capece;" she was a beautiful woman of Naples, whom he loved and afterwards married, and who was snatched from him in the pride of her youth and beauty. Among his Sonnets, I find one peculiarly striking, though far from being the best. The picture it presents, with all its affecting accompaniments, and the feelings commemorated, are obviously iaken from nature and reality. The poet-the husband-approaches to contemplate the lifeless form of his Portia, and weeping, he draws from her pale cold hand the nuptial ring, which
he had himself placed on her finger with all the fond anticipations of love and hope—the pledge of a union which death alone could dissolve: and now, with a breaking heart, he transfers it to his own. Such is the subject of this sto
sing poem, which, with some few faults against taste, is still singularly picturesque and eloquent, particularly the last six lines.
Questa scolpita in oro, amica fede,
Che santo amor nel tuo bel dito pose,
Donna! caro mio pregio,ếalta merced
Che al commun' voler' sempre rispose,
Ecco ch' io la t’invola-ecco ne spoglio
Il freddo avorio che l' ornava; e vesto
La mia, più assai che la tua, mano esangue.
Che tu stia meco-ne le sia molesto
LITERAL TRANSLATION. “ This circlet of sculptured gold—this pledge which sacred affection placed on that fair hand-O Lady! dearest to me of all earthly things, my sweet possession and my lovely prize,-well and faithfully didst thou preserve it! the bond of a mutual love and mutual faith, even from that hour when Heaven bestowed on me all it could bestow of bliss. Now then-O now do I take it from thee! and thus do I withdraw it from the cold ivory of that hand which so adorned and honoured it. I place it on mine own, now chill, and damp, and pale as thine. O beloved theft While I live thou shalt never part from me. Ah! be not offended if thus I stain thee with these tears, -and soon perhaps with life drops from my heart."
Castiglione, besides being celebrated as the finest gentleman of his day, and the author of that code of all noble and knightly accomplishments, of perfect courtesy and gentle bearing—“Il Cortigiano,” must have a place among our conjugal poets. He had married in 1516, Hypolita di Torrello, whose accomplishments, beauty, and illustrious birth, rendered her worthy of him. It appears, however, that her family, who were of Mantua, could not bear to
part with her,* and that after her marriage, she remained in that city, while Castiglione was ambassador at Rome. This separation gave rise to a very impassioned correspondence; and the tender regrets and remonstrances scattered through her letters, he transposed into a very beautiful poem, in the form of an epistle from his wife. It may be found in the appendix to Roscoe's Leo X. (No. 196.) Hypolita died in giving birth to a daughter, after a union of little more than three years, and left Castiglione for some time inconsolable. We are particularly told of the sympathy of the Pope and the Cardinals, on this occasion, and that Leo condoled with him in a manner equally unusual and substantial, by bestowing on him immediately a pension of two hundred gold crowns.
* Serassi.- Vita di Baldassare Castiglione,
STORY OF DR. DONNE AND HIS WIFE.
My next instance of conjugal poetry is taken from the literary history of our own country, and founded on as true and touching a piece of romance as ever was taken from the page of real life.
Dr. Donne, once so celebrated as a writer, now so neglected, is more interesting for his matrimonial history, and for one little poem addressed to his wife, than for all his learned, metaphysical, and theological productions. As a poet, it is probable that even readers of poetry know little of him, except from the lines at the bottom of the pages in Pope's version, or rather translation, of his Satires, the very recollection of which is enough to “set one's ears on edge," and verify Coleridge's witty and imitative couplet,
Donne-whose muse on dromedary trots,
Twists iron pokers into true love knots. It is this inconceivable harshness of versification, which has caused Donne to be so little read, except by those who make our old poetry their study. One of these critics has truly observed, that “there is scarce a writer in our language who has so thoroughly mixed up the good and the bad together.” What is good, is the result of truth, of passion, of a strong mind, and a brilliant wit: what is bad, is the effect of a most perverse taste, and total want of harmony. No sooner has he kindled the fancy with a splendid thought, than it is as instantly quenched in a cloud of cold and obscure conceits: no sooner has he touched
the heart with a feeling or sentiment, true to nature and powerfully expressed, than we are chilled or disgusted by pedantry or coarseness.
The events of Donne's various life, and the romantic love he inspired and felt, make us recur to his works, with an interest and a curiosity, which while they give a value to every beauty we can discover, render his faults more glaring,-more provoking,—more intolerable.
In his youth he lavished a considerable fortune in dissipation, in travelling, and, it may be added, in the acquisition of great and various learning. He then entered the service of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, as secretary. Under the same roof resided Lady Ellesmere's niece, Anne Moore, a lovely and amiable woman. She was about nineteen, and Donne was about thirty, handsome, lively, and polished by travel and study. They met constantly, and the result was a mutual attachment of the most ardent and romantic character. As they were continually together, and always in the presence of watchful relations (“ ambushed around with household spies," as he expresses it,) it could not long be concealed. " The friends of both parties," says Walton “ used much diligence and many arguments to kill or cool their affections for each other, but in vain :" and the lady's father, Sir George Moore, “ knowing prevention to be the best part of wisdom," came up to town in all haste, and carried off his daughter into the country. But his preventive wisdom came too late: the lovers had been secretly married three weeks before.
This precipitate step was perhaps excusable, from the known violence and sternness of Sir George's character. His daughter was well aware that his consent would never be voluntary: she preferred marrying without it, to marrying against it; and trusted to obtain his forgiveness when there was no remedy:-a common mode of reasoning, believe, in such cases. Never perhaps was a youthful error of this description more bitterly punished-more deeply expiated-and so little repented of!
The earl of Northumberland undertook to break the matter to Sir George, to reason with him on the subject; and to represent the excellent qualities of his son-in-law, and the duty of forgiveness, as a wise man, a father, and