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Habington. If Venetia Digby had been, as Aubrey and others insinuate, abandoned to profligacy, and a victim to her husband's jealousy, Habington would scarce have considered her noble descent and relationship to his Castara as a matter of pride; or her death as a subject of tender condolence; or the awful manner of it a peculiar blessing of heaven, and the reward of her virtues.
Come likewise, my Castara, and behold
Lest grief disturb the silence of her sleep! The author of the introduction to the curious Memoirs of Sir Kenelm Digby, has proved the absolute falsehood of some of Aubrey's assertions, and infers the improbability of others. But these beautiful lines by. Habington, seem to have escaped his notice; and they are not slight evidence in Venetia's favour. On the whole, the mystery remains unexplained; a cloud has settled forever on the true story of this extraordinary creature. Neither the pen nor the sword of her husband could entirely clear her fame in her own age: he could only terrify slander into silence, and it died away into an indistinct murmur, of which the echo alone has reached our time. But this is enough:—the echo of an echo could whisper into naught a woman's fair name. The idea of a creature so formed in the prodigality of nature; so completely and faultlessly beautiful; so nobly born and allied; so capable (as she showed herself on various occasions,) of high generous feeling, * of delicacy,t of fortitude, t of tenderness;depraved by her own vices, or “done to death by slanderous tongues,” is equally painful and heart-sickening. The image of the aspic trailing its slime and its venom over the bosom of Cleopatra, is not more abhorrent.
* Memoirs of Sir Kenelm Digby, pp. 211, 224. Introduction, p. 27. † Memoirs, pp. 205, 213. Introduction, p. 28. Memoirs, p. 254.
§ Memoirs, p. 305,
THE TWO ZAPPI.
We find among the minor poets of Italy, a charming, and I believe a singular instance of a husband and a wife, both highly gifted, devoting their talents to celebrate each other. These were Giambattista Zappi,* the famous Roman advocate, and his wife Faustina, the daughter of Carlo Maratti, the painter.
Zappi, after completing his legal studies at Bologna, came to reside at Rome, where he distinguished himself in his profession, and was one of the founders of the academy of the Arcadii. Faustini Maratti was many years younger than her husband, and extremely beautiful: she was her father's favourite model for his Madonnas, Muses, and Vestal Virgins. From a description of her, in an Epithalamiumf on her marriage, it appears that her eyes and hair were jet black, her features regular, and her complexion pale and delicate; a style of beauty which, in its persection, is almost peculiar to Italy. To the mutual tenderness of these married lovers, we owe some of the most elegant among the lighter Italian lyrics. Zappi, in a Sonnet addressed to his wife some time after their union, reminds her, with a tender exultation, of the moment they first met; when she swept by him in all the pride of beauty, careless or unconscious of his admiration,-and he bowed low before her, scarcely daring to lift his eyes on the charms that were destined to bless him; “ Who,” he says,
* Born at Imola, 1668; died at Rome, 1719.
+ See the Epithalamium on her marriage with Zappi, prefixed to their works.
“ would then have whispered me, the day will come when you will smile to remember her disdain, for all this blaze of beauty was created for you alone!" or would have said to her, “Know you who is destined to touch that virgin heart? Even he, whom you now pass by without even a look! Such are the miracles of love !"
La prima volta ch'io m'avenni in quella
La fronte inchinò in umil alto, cd ella
Chi detto avesse a me, "costei ti sprezza,
Chi detto avesse ad ella : " Il tuo bel core
Or negate i miracoli d'Amore!
Dolce sollievo delle umane cure,
is an eulogium on her husband, and describes her own confiding tenderness. It is full of grace and sweetness, and feminine feeling:
Soave cortesì a vezzosi accenti,
Or tu gli affetti miei puri innocenti
Đolce sollievo de' miei mali, amore! Others are of a melancholy character; and one or two allude to the death of an infant son, whom she tenderly laments. But the most finished of all her poems is a Sonnet addressed to a lady whom her husband had formerly loved ;* the sentiment of which is truly beautiful and femi
* Probably the same he had celebrated under the name of Filli, and who married another. Zappi's Sonnet to this lady. “ Ardo per Filli," is elaborately elegant; sparkling and pointed as a pyramid of gems.
nine: never was jealousy so amiably, or so delicately expressed. There is something very dramatic and picturesque in the apostrophe which Faustina addresses to her rival, and in the image of the lady “casting down her large bright eyes :" as well as affecting in the abrupt recoil of feeling in the last lines.
Donna! che tanto almio bel soi piacesti!
Dimmi, quando le voci a Jui volgesti
De luoi bei lumi, a le due chiare faci
Veggo il rossor che le tue guance infiora;
Lady, that once so charm'd my life's fair Sun, **
That he who once adored thee, loves thee still. Neither Zappi nor his wife were authors by profession: her poems are few; and all seem to flow from some inci. dent or feeling, which awakened her genius, and caused
* "Il mio bel sol" is a poetical term of endearment, which is not easy to reduce gracefully into English.
+ Translated by a friend,
that "craving of the heart and the fancy to break out into voluntary song, which men call inspiration.” She became a member of the Arcadia, under the pastoral name of Aglaura Cidonia; and it is remarkable, that though she survived her husband many years, I cannot find any poem referring to her loss, nor of a subsequent date; neither did she marry again, though in the prime of her life and beauty.
Zappi was a great and celebrated lawyer, and his legal skill raised him to an office of trust, under the Pontificate of Clement XI. In one of his Sonnets, which has great sweetness and picturesque effect, he compares himself to the Venetian Gondolier, who in the calm or the storm pours forth his songs on the Lagune, careless of blame or praise, asking no auditors but the silent seas and the quiet moon, and seeking only to « unburthen his full soul in lays of love and joy~
Il Gondolier, sebben la notte imbruna,
" Intanto Erminia infra l'ombrose piante." That Zappi could be sublime, is proved by his wellknown Sonnet on the Moses of Michel Angelo ; but his forte is the graceful and the gay. His Anacreontics, and particularly his little drinking song,
Come farò? Fard così! are very elegant, and almost cqual to Chiabrera. It is difficult to sympathize with English drinking songs, and all the vulgar associations of flowing bowls, taverns, three times three, and the table in a roar. An Italian Brindisi transports us at once among flasks and vineyards, guitars and dances, a dinner al fresco, a group à la Stothard. It is all the difference between the ivy-crowned Bacchus, and the bloated Silenus. "Bumper, Squire Jones,” or “Waiter, bring clean glasses," do noi sound so well as