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-it came undoubtedly from the heart of the Lady through her smile. For smile she did, as sweetly, as tenderly, as a breaking cloud. The sun of her smile was like a clean breath in the stivy den; and, behold, she took Robaccia by the hand and lifted her she encircled her with a up, mothering arm, and drew her close to her own breast. Her lips touched the bad girl's cheek, lingered for a moment there, wistfully withdrew; and Madonna of the Peach-tree, none staying her now, went out into the dead street, and was seen no more of that company.
The sun at noon looked down upon Verona at peace, upon her citizens at their prayers. Never was such a scene in the stormy little city before. All the bells of all the churches pealed all day-with no lack of arms to pull them. Men and women ran to and fro kissing whom they met, with a "Save you, brother!"66 Save you, sister! well met, well met!" The Grey Brethren, the Black Brethren, the White Brethren of Carmel, held hands, and confessed to each other as many sins as they had time to remember. Can Grande went unarmed about his own city, Bevilacqua unbarred his door, Giusti married his mistress, the bishop said his prayers. The cripples at the church doors had no need to whine. As for the tavern of the Golden Fish, it smelt of lavender and musk and bergamot the day through. At one time there were eight litters with their bearers, eleven stallions, trapped and emblazoned, held by eleven grooms in livery,
outside its door. The ladies of the litters were in the room upon their knees; the knights of the horses, their great helmets on their backs, knelt in the kennel praying devoutly. The wail of "Dies Ira" went down the Corso and up again, "Salve Regina wavered over the sunny spaces of the Brà. In the amphitheatre, after an openair mass, the cardinal legate solemnly exposed the relics of last night's miracle, and a bodyguard of twenty noble youths, six chaplains, and a Benedictine abbot went to the suburb to escort into the city the curate with the Peach-stone. It was a glorious day, never to be forgotten in the annals of Verona. Charity and the open heart went side by side with compunction and the searching of the heart. Tears were shed and kissed away; kisses induced the fall of gentler tears. It might be stoutly questioned whether Verona held one unshriven soul, one sin unspoken, or one solace unawarded.
It might be reasonably questioned, yet it must be denied. Within the walls of the friars of Mount Carmel were two uneasy spirits. Fra Sulpicio, the fat prior, was extended face downwards before the high altar; Fra Battista, the eloquent preacher, chewed his thumb in his cell. The pittanciar, on the other hand, was of the common mind. He was ambling down the Via Leoni with Brother Patricio of the
Capuchins on one arm and Brother Martino of the Dominicans on the other, singing "In Exitu Israel" like a choir-boy.
Anno Domini from what we may call a subjective or purely personal point of view. We cannot, for example, picture to ourselves a male being who will deliberately and out of malice prepense go up-stairs, lock his dressing-room door, and sitting down in front of his lookingglass study his features in the glass and note the havoc which length of days has wrought on a countenance once, in somebody's eyes at all events, pleasing to behold. Beau Brummell may, for all we know or care to know to the contrary, have done something of the sort; but we think of Beau Brummell rather as a "very, very pajock," than a man of bones and sinews. Even when we quarrel with nature and resent the fact that our hair and teeth do not last out our time, we do not saddle Anno Domini with the responsibility.
and comforting reflection that our great-great-grandfather is to be held accountable because he would drink that extra bottle of port night after night. And when the dentist pulls a long face over the condition of our teeth, we feel sure that our great-great-grandmother either indulged in too many sweetmeats or habitually over-ate herself. We do not in the least degree in the world wish to convey the idea that we grudge the old folk their port wine or their sweetmeats; on the contrary, we hope that they enjoyed them at the time, and were never haunted by the thought that their self-indulgences would be visited on the heads of an unborn posterity. But it is manifestly unfair to credit our dear friend Anno Domini with the disasters which ancestral gluttony has inflicted on modern generations.
"Delicta majorum immeritus lues." While we may not regard our doctor as invariably and on all points infallible, we thank him for teaching us the thought that in the matter of scanty locks and decayed teeth we are the innocent victims of the excesses of our ancestors, rather than sufferers for our Own works and deservings, or even our own ages. On occasions when our hairdresser, who apparently persists in mistaking us for Tittlebat Titmouse and expects us to buy his infallible hair-restorer, favours us with the old stereotyped remark, "Hair getting a little thin on the top, sir," it is a wholesome
We have been assured, and here again our authority is good, that when some old village gossip tells us—she means it for a compliment-that we are looking very poorly, she really wishes us to understand that we are looking very old. And probably there are some days on which we both look and feel older than on others. But if left wholly to our own reflections-setting aside, that is, other people's personal remarks-we shall decline to entertain the idea that there is any fixed law of nature that shall compel us to feel one whit older when April Fool's Day comes round again than we do now on these Calends of
Hey, Excellency," cried the other, "there are many devout souls in the same case.
Can Grande knit his black like the house razed and the brows; he objected to be crossed, church washed out with holy and the more so when he had a water, or Fra Battista's blood sneaking thought that he was -the latter for choice. Now, rightly crossed. "I should like I cannot pull down religious to see my Lady this night with houses, lord of Verona though I my own eyes, bishop," said he. be, because a herd of frightened rascals have gone capering over the city singing, 'Salve festa dies.' I must really do the parties the honour of an interview before I draw the sword. Let me be sure which back I am going to score before I begin to carve. You had better bring the prior and Fra Lancillotto-Battista to me, and if you can collect the young woman and her brat, so much the better."
Can Grande pished. vout jellyfish," he grunted; and then-" She seems to haunt one quarter, eh?"
"It is so, Excellency, save that yesterday she must have passed through the Porta San Zeno unseen of the guard."
"Have you interrogated the guard?" asked the tyrant, sharply.
"It was done, Highness. Nothing entered between Compline and Prime but a couple of bullock-carts and a cavalcade of merchants from Brescia."
"What was in the bullockcarts, bishop?"
"Birch-bark, Excellency, for the yards."
"H'm!" was all Can Grande had to say to this.
He changed the conversation. "I have had the warden of the Minorites and the provincial of the Dominicans here this morning," he said, "about that accursed business of the ragpicker's wife. It is another example of what I told you just now, that these people attribute what they cannot understand to persons they can only dream about. They put down the whole of your miracles to a special reward for their zeal in hounding down the Carmelite and his mistress. They want the order expelled; I think they would
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"Alas! Excellency, I fear the young woman is in pieces," said the bishop. "She has never been heard of since the day of her expulsion."
The advice, however, was good, the judgment good enough; but before it could be followed a stroke more telling than any Can Grande's sword could have made was wrought by Madonna of the Peach-tree.
On the night of that same day Can Grande was sitting in the palace with two chosen companions, as daredevil as himself, waiting the hour of an assignation. It was about ten o'clock: at half-past the hour they were to go out cloaked into the streets, bent upon the lifting of a decent burgess's wife from her bed. Hence they were not in the castle, which is near San Zeno, but in the Della Scala Palace, in the very heart of the city. The two accomplices were Ubaldino Baldinanza, a grey villain, and young
indulged himself in that isolation from society which we have heard ladies with HighChurch tendencies describe as a Retreat.
We had occasion to notice that he was sufficiently weatherwise to select for the purpose one of those days which a fisherman's almanac might specify as being good for neither man nor beast. On such a day, wrapped up in a dressinggown before a comfortable fire, he would invite the respectful sympathy of his family, who quite entered into the spirit of the thing and understood that the master of the house expected to be cosseted, posseted, and generally made much of. Brandy-gruel and favourite titbits were administered at seemly intervals, and though we do not remember that straw was laid down in the street or that the doorknocker was muffled, a discreet parlour-maid was careful to whisper her answers to inquiring visitors with all the gravity due to so solemn an occasion.
"It is one of master's bad days, sir, and I am afraid you cannot see him."
Most men, however, seem to view the advance of age from what we may call an objective point of view, critically studying the performances of their elders or contemporaries, and regulating their own line of conduct accordingly. We know one man, for instance, who for years past has never omitted to greet our own appearance in the cricket-field with the same remark, slightly personal, but always well-meant "Awfully glad to see you playing here to-day, old fellow; you know that you are ever so much older than I am." And this puts us upon our mettle at once. For do we not feel that we are for the nonce serving as an object-lesson, and that there is somebody on the ground who is, if possible, even more keenly interested in our success than we are ourselves? And we can go home and sleep the sleep of the just that night, buoyed up by the conviction that while others may have noted our shortcomings, and possibly resented the presence of an old fossil on the side, one man at any rate has been equally ready to observe any redeeming features in our play. There is a species of satisfaction even in the thought that we have one trumpeter surviving; for know that for months to come he will find in our humble self a precedent for not giving up all semblance of juvenility, and that if any contemporary less energetic than himself ventures to suggest that cricket is a young man's game, an answer will be ready on his tongue.
The visitor had no cause for being unduly anxious. Experience would have taught him that if the next day was fine and bright the phoenix would rise from its ashes, and a rejuvenated Æson would gladden the hearts of his countrymen by discarding the dressing-gown and resuming the ordinary garb and habits of a vigorous nineteenth-century Englishman.
"Too old to play cricket? What nonsense! Why, I met old What's-his-name playing the other day, and he got a heap of runs, and he's years older than I am."
perly, when the catches are dropped and the ball will persist in going between our legs, when, as a climax to our misfortunes, some volatile young gentleman is kind enough to run us out-who so grieved as our trumpeter? In the fall of Hector-this reads rather as if there were two trumpeters, but we must pose as his Hector just for this once-he foresees the ruin of Troy, in our discomfiture he recognises his own fate, and that night he goes home very sorry for himself. We will hope that he may find some comfort in the thought that we really, after all, are "years older than he is, and so thinking, may postpone the sale of his bat and pads for a period, at all events.
But Anno Domini has also, from the objective point of view, a sadder tale to tell. Some ten years ago we sat up smoking well into the small hours of the night in the company of an old army man, who had received his commission in or about the year that 'Maga' first saw daylight. Time had dealt kindly with him; he was upright as a dart, in full possession of all his faculties, a brilliant pianist, and a most cheery and interesting companion. Suddenly, in the middle of a story of some adventure he had met with early in the century, he interpolated, almost by way of apology, "Of course, all those fellows are dead now. It's a devilish odd thing, sir, but you've no idea how many of my contemporaries are dead; 2 A
If the pair of us, the veterans of our side, have been fair subject for criticism on the part of our juniors, how shrewdly in our turn have we watched the performances of the youngsters, half fancying that in our prime we were better men than they are now; sure in our own mind that in the years to come few of them will feel as vigorous as we feel ourselves to-day, sceptical perhaps as to the absolute superiority of young steel over old iron. And if it so happen that by any chance Ulysses, favoured by the goddess, temporarily seems to regain his pristine strength and to bend the bow with more ease than Telemachus, how sweet the triumph, how unbounded the satisfaction to feel that there is some life in the old dog yet? We are both of us on the best of terms with Anno Domini for weeks to come, and so far from feeling oppressed by weight of years, inclined to give ourselves credit for more of them than we are really carrying.
But to reverse the picture, and regard the object-lesson from another point of view. On those bad days which come only too often, when time and everything else seems to be thoroughly out of joint, when the wind blows from the east or the ground is slippery, when the eye is faulty, and the muscles refuse to work pro
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