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It was a strange and fearful sight to witness— what then must it have been to enact—to endure? There was a low arched room, vaulted and paved with stone, a huge squat column in each corner, and one large window of stained glass admitting the full beams of the western sun, and looking over the snultitudinous roofs, steeples, and towers and temples of the great city, or the delicious verdure and clear waters of the lazy Arno. The furniture of that small chamber was antiquated and unusual, a low and massive pallet bed of some dark Indian wood, with two or three oldfashioned stools to match it—a marble slab, scattered with books and papers, musical instruments, and articles of clothing—a velvet mask, a high-plumed hat, a cloak of scarlet cloth, a splendid rapier, and other such incongruous articles, in picturesque confusion. Besides these things, there was a tall

beauffet, the doors of which, partly open, displayed a small assortment of valuable books, a quantity of wearing apparel faded for the most part and tarnished, and lastly a few articles for the service of the table, lamps, platters, cups, and Venice glass, and one or two long-necked flasks, with a solitary silver tankard, richly embossed and carved with the armorial bearings of some old patrician house. On the floor there lay, here and there, a large French-horn, a flute, a guitar with several strings broken, an inkstand, and a quantity of manuscript music, blotted and scrawled with a bold free hand, the every touch of which spoke of the fury, the erratic astrum of the inspired composer. It was, no one could doubt it, the

whose almost divine inspiration have rendered modern Italy scarcely less glorious—scarcely less renowned for the triumphs of the lyre, than was old Rome for the exploits of the sword. It spoke, and alas! but too plainly, of high birth, exalted aspirations, youth, ardour, genius—disappointment! Penury chilling the soul of immortal fire—fate chaining the free pinion of the eagleson of song'—of the cold world's neglect, perchance of its scorn!--Alas! It told yet more of true love blighted by the dread spoiler!—of young hearts severed, as it would seem, for ever! of youth and beauty stricken in the first flush of womanhood!—of love and faith living beyond the tomb—unchilled by the cold aspect of the grave, 21*

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black press, half library, half wardrobe, and half

studio of an artist——one of those deathless geniuses

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undaunted by the presence, the manifest presence of death's devastating fingers. For there, on that low pallet, in her accustomed garb, with the white cambric corset, scarcely contrasted against the marble coldness of her pure bosom, with the rich purple boddice displaying the exquisite contour of her voluptuous bust, and the loose draperies of her flowing robes clinging to the fair rounded limbs, which lay outstretched, all motionless and rigid, reclined all that was mortal of as sweet and beautiful a girl, as ever gladdened by her presence the eyes of mortal lover. Very sweet was she still and beautiful, although that nameless shadow lay heavy on her high white forehead, and that fixed sad expression, half melancholy and half calmness, brooded over lips once never smileless, which tells the heart too certainly, that brow shall never lighten, those lips never smile again. Her ivory lids were dropped, and the long dark lashes fell in a pencilled fringe upon the cold pure cheeks in which there yet slept a faint hue, like the reflection of sunset upon the western clouds, after the day-god has himself departed. Her hands were clasped in attitude of prayer over her bosom; and her superb black tresses fell down in straight loose masses far below her waist, as she lay on the pallet, lifeless and dank and waveless. Over her feet, which stood up in that angular position which is so peculiar to the dead, and which at times gives so corpselike an appearance to the living, was thrown a drapery of linen, which fell in folds upon the cold gray pavement; and round about and over her whole form, and over the white raiment of the dead, and the low couch, were scattered roses — not the rich crimson, or still richer damask, but the faint blush or pallid white emblems alike of her virgin bloom and of her early parting from this scene of sorrow and temptation. But, if it was sad and painful to look down upon the fair features and cold limbs of the unconscious dead, senseless to any sound or sight or feeling, how much more mournful was it to gaze on the survivor. He was a young man in the prime of youth, well formed, robust and vigorous, with a fine classic countenance and an eye full of the flashing light of genius. He wore his coalblack hair in flowing ringlets, hanging down his neck to the linen corset which covered his breast to the collar-bone, above the placard of his black 245

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velvet pourpoint. His face was close shaved with the exception of a slight moustache on the upper lip, and a small tuft on the centre of the chin, and now wore an expression so ghastly and yet withal so wild, and a hue so pallid and unearthly, that it was frightful indeed to behold him. The wonted colouring of his fine manly features was of that rich and sunny olive peculiar to the natives of Tuscany, through which the lusty blood shines out as clear and luminous as through the whitest and most transparent skin of Saxon beauty; but now that the blood was banished from his cheeks, the complexion showed of a strange unnatural greenish tint, resembling rather the porphyry from which is wrought some old Egyptian statue, than the flesh of a living man. There sat he, on one of the low stools, beside the pallet; there had he sat since the previous sunset, without altering his position, absorbed entirely by the dead, and forgetful of himself and all around him. His harp was between his knees, and at times his hands would range the chords, calling forth wild melodies, fantastical, irregular, and although full of genius, yet fuller of eccentricity, nay, almost of madness. At times he would wake them to life with the deep solemn, thrilling sounds of the requiem, pouring his grand voice out in all its richness, in all its power, and might, and breathing a sort of unutterable feeling into the souls of all who heard him—for in that land of music, where every peasant, every mechanic and rude artisan has an ear, a voice, a mind for the immortal song, a crowd had long gathered under his casement, and stood there listening in rapt admiration to those wild flowing cadences. It was not altogether pathos, nor solemnity alone, nor dread, yet all these three were component parts of the feelings that took possession of all those who heard—a conviction that the singer's heart was breaking as he sung. Once, shortly after the sounds had commenced, just as the crowd began to assemble, they uttered a loud shout of admiration, bravos, and plaudits, in testimony of their sense of the rare qualities of voice and fingering that had elicited their spontaneous and involuntary wonder. But, as they did so, a low door was thrown open under the large stained window, and an old woman stole forth noiselessly on tiptoe, pressing her finger to her lip, exclaiming in deep guarded tones— “Silence! if ye must listen, silence! strains are not sung for any living ears! chamber is the chamber of the dead!” Italy is the land not of song only, nor of poetry —but of poetic feeling—of romance, not written, but existing within the soul of every living man, child, woman! Things are done there daily, aye! hourly, which to us colder and less impulsive beings would appear forced, theatrical, absurd, unnatural—and things so done are viewed, not as we should here view them, as the results of affectation or of madness, but as events of everyday occurrence, and in nowise unusual or extraordi

Those That

VENETIA'S REQUIEM.

nary. And, therefore, at this strange announcement, which probably in England or America would have been answered by a pressing recommendation, and perhaps a violent attempt to remove the singer to a madhouse, produced no comment except a few exclamations of sympathy and pity; and the multitude, growing still in numbers, continued to hang breathlessly suspended upon the strains of the unseen musician. Strange was the scene, indeed—yet stranger was the story which gave rise to it—a story of events which could have occurred in no other European land, under no other skies than those of passionate Italy. Venetia Baroncelli was an Italian girl, purely and all Italian, in every trait and character of mind, as in every feature of her face and beauty of her form, unmixed Italian. Her wild and passionate nature, boundless in its devotion, fathomless in its love, careless of sacrifice, and reckless of the world's opinion, ready to dare all, do all, suffer all, for one or with one whom she loved— but at the same time unbridled in her resentments as in her attachments; untaught to curb her wishes until those wishes had become furious ungovernable passions, which it would have been no less impossible to control than to turn back the floodtide of the stormy ocean. She would have died to win the love of one whom she adored if he were cold and pitiless—she would have died rather than survive that love once won, and probably ere dying would have revenged! Such was Venetia Baroncelli—the fair unhappy being who lay outstretched in death on that low pallet in her lover's studio—such was Venetia Baroncelli, and from the very nature of her constitution was it, that she lay so outstretched, who else might have been the light and pride of every eye of Florence, as hitherto she had been—might have been hanging on the sweet sounds which her lover so fruitlessly waked from his matchless harp to witch her senseless ears—might have been blessing him with her presence, by her love, by her life, whom by her death she had deprived of every joy, of every hope, of every consolation. Venetia Baroncelli, the sweet affianced bride of Florence's most exquisite musician, Luigi Ronano —from his first childhood upward pre-eminently gifted—and now, how narrowly escaped from being as pre-eminently rewarded. He was the son of a noble family, decayed, it is true, and impoverished, but still full of fame and memories; but he, alas! was utterly an orphan— alone and without kindred in the world, save an old foster mother, if that may be called kindred, who had provided for his helpless infancy, rejoiced as she beheld him grow brave and good and noble, and adhered to him through all his toils, trials, and troubles, until she now beheld him, still poor indeed in worldly wealth, but rich in the esteem of hosts of friends—rich in the honours he had won already by his unrivalled genius—rich in the promise of great future eminence. She was

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the daughter of one of those minor houses of nobility, common to the Italian republics, who, lacking the great virtues, the great wealth, and the princely fame of such names as the Medici of Florence, Rome's powerful Colonna, or Venice's Falieri, Foscari, and Morosini, made up for the want of these by a tenfold proportion of pride and haughtiness and crime. At ordinary times, or under ordinary circumstances, the Baroncelli would have looked down with contempt and scorn upon the poor Ronano, but now, high as he stood in the friendship and love of the proud Medici, and hearing it bruited on all sides, that ere long the young musician and composer would win a name that should extend to the limits of the universe, wealth and dominion, and renown, the poor but haughty Tuscan gave his assent not unreluctantly to the union of his fair Venetia with young Luigi. I said that Luigi was in the world alone; no mother from his earliest years had soothed his infancy, no father's jealous and wakeful anxiety had shaped his paths and guided his steps to honour— but in the tablets of his mind there was one memory, bright, beatific, and alone—the one star amid a wild and wintry waste of storm-clouds— the one perfumed flower amidst an arid waste— the memory of a loved lost sister—loved in the early days when no selfish, interested feelings, no bitter jealousies, no cutting envies interpose to mar the sweets of young affection–lost in the earliest days of budding womanhood, when Luigi was but a sportive boy, and she just on the verge of that light, delicate line which separates the delicate and tender girl from the fresh, perfect wo— man. No trace was left whereby to point so much as conjecture—all search was vain--every hope frustrate. Years rolled away, and Luigi was a man, and soon, should no unkind frost blight his springtime, promised to be a great and glorious one—and not a whisper of the whereabout or the existence of that fair being had reached the ears of the few who had ever known her. The world at large of Florence had, it is true, been disturbed somewhat at the time of its occurrence by the disappearance of one who was already well known to the beauty-loving Italians for her rare loveliness—but it had been at best but a nine days' wonder—people made up their minds that she had been drowned probably in the Arno, and this having been once rumoured grew on the multitude till it was taken to be unquestionable truth—and after awhile the whole thing was forgotten; so that at the period of my tale no persons alive in Florence remembered that such a girl as Beatrice Ronano had ever been among them, save Luigi, and the old foster-mother, who ever lived beside him——and save the former only, no one so much as imagined that she might be in life even now. But that belief, that exquisite fond fancy, for that which has no grounds of reason whereon to repose itself, can scarcely be dignified by the title of belief—that exquisite fond fancy still lingered in the heart of Luigi, cheering his saddest hours,

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and lending to his brightest a gleam of brighter expectation—a hope that he should one day or other clasp that beloved one to his heart never entirely forsook him, and it was this sensation among others that urged him to that perseverance in his professional path by which he had attained already so much glory. Years passed, and yet no tidings, yet never did the brother's heart wax faint or forgetful of the beloved companion of his childish days, nor did the lover's passion for the bright Venetia efface even momentarily from his soul the recollection of the dear sister. And now at length, after months of intense anxiety and expectations, the lover's hopes had been crowned by the father's promise. Luigi and Venetia were betrothed, and in a few short days their hearts would be made one by the union of their hands; that union man cannot put asunder, which must endure through earth, and unto heaven. Oh! happy days!—oh! sweet untrammelled intercourse of those blithe hearts! oh! speechless transports of permitted love! The daylong conversations embracing in the brief space of a few hours the hopes, the promise of a life! The evening rambles by the cool Arno's side!—the quiet commune of the familiar table!--the seats under the clustered vines in the summer moonlight!— these are the things that, make Italian life, even the humblest appear to the observer from foreign lands, a drama, a romance, a fiction—the mixing up of song and dance, of fruits, and flowers, and music with all, the most everyday affairs of life! the very violence and intensities of those Italian passions which oftentimes makes the excess of happiness but one step distant from the abyss of despair, the excellence of the most exalted virtue but one step from the blackest infamy of crime. Oh! happy days! the last of them had come— upon the morrow they two were to be made one-on that last day of his unwedded though not unblest life, Luigi Ronano sat alone in the calm light of the early morning, putting the last finish to his noblest composition—a requiem, a splendid requiem—to be sung over the ashes of one of those truly princelike merchants who flourished never elsewhere--and then but for a brief, and dazzling space before they sunk into the slough of avarice and luxury and degradation—but in the Italian republics. Suddenly, as he sat there musing, now striking a few notes on his harp, now scratching them down hastily upon a sheet of blotted paper, the door was thrown open, and his old foster-mother brought in a billet which she said had been left that instant by a masked messenger. He tore it open, cast his eyes over it in haste, turned pale, and red, and pale again as the Carrara marble, then snatched his hat and mantle, and tearing the letter he had just received into a thousand pieces flung them through the open window into the street—rushed madly down the staircase and was out of sight in a moment. One of the strips of paper which he had cast forth into

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the breezy air whirled to and fro a few times, and then fluttering inwards, fell on the floor of the room unperceived. Oh! how much evil, how much of what is vulgarly called fate may rest upon the slightest scrap of paper that may contain six words of man's handwriting. Luigi returned no more to his home that day, nor on the morrow; and, terrified by his wild gestures, prompt to superstitious fears, and trembling ever for the safety of her beloved child, when in the evening Venetia came to release him from his pleasureable labours, and summon him to their accustomed ramble, the poor old foster-mother related and exaggerated all that passed; till the young girl herself began to wonder, to suspect, to fear, to tremble. Concealing all her thoughts, however, she answered only that she doubted not he would be back anon, and, in mean time, would go up and await him in his studio. Hastily, she tripped up the marble staircase, opened the door, and the instant that she entered her eye caught the small scrap of the torn note upon the pavemeat. She snatched it up, ran over it in breathless haste, and then exclaiming, “Lost! lost! oh God—faithless! and lost to me for ever!”--she too turned from the house with madness in her heart and despair, and hurried through the street, nor returned any more till it was evening twilight. And when she did return it was with faltering steps, with cheeks and lips white as the monumental marble, and a strange wildness in her eye. And the first words she spoke, as she went in, were “Make my bed, mother, make my bed in his studio, -I have come home to die!” Those were dread days of murder and of suicide, when men could bargain openly, in street and market, for men's blood, as for the lives of goats or bullocks!—when poisons were vended readily to every purchaser, for every purpose. Venetia had been tempted—tempted, it is true, sorely, and with Italian vehemence resisting not nor suffering herself to be consoled, had drunk the fatal draught, and had come home to die. She wrote a few brief lines to Luigi, telling him of her despair, enclosing to him its cause, that fatal billet, whereon were written these few words —these only—“Come to me, then, my soul's adored—at length come fearlessly to thine own BEATRice!” She told him of her resolution—of her determination to die, and so avenge herself on her betrayer—and with a strange touch of that

closing her eyes, lay there breathing for an hour fainter and fainter at each respiration, till at length without one convulsion, one gasp, one throb of agony, she seemed to pass away calmly and painlessly—“as flowers that close their leaves at set of sun”—from life into eternity. The sun was high in heaven when Luigi returned—not all the bright dreams of the future, not all the blithe and blissful aspirations of this his wedding-day, could chase the gloom from his brow—the anguish from his bosom. The lost was found-–the long lost, long looked for sister, found—but how—guilty, dishonoured, and despairing—dying upon a bed of shame in a base lazar house. And there throughout the livelong night had he sat by his dying sister's side, nor once even thought of his bride like her dying—like her —and oh heaven! how far alike;——this sad, and penitent, and humble, knowing her error and confessing it--hopeful of heaven and adoring with her last breath the God who chastened her!—that fierce and angry and impatient! resolute in her sin! herself a suicide, tempting another to the same fearful guilt;—this in humility and hope—that in rebellion and despair. Luigi returned home, calm it is true, when all was over, but graver than he had ever been before, and very sad and gloomy—yet through his gravity

and gloom he looked forward in his humble home

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to find peace, if not joy, and consolation. He came and found despair.

Shaking off his last aged relative, he locked himself in with the dead, and hour after hour that wild thrilling requiem was heard, pealing out into the streets, and making every heart of the congregated multitude quiver with solemn and most sad emotions. All through the livelong day it rung incessant—all through the summer evening--but when the moon rose, the broad full Italian moon above the tufted tree tops, and the ninth hour rang loudly—it was the hour on which he was to have been wedded!—it ceased suddenly—and it appeared to those without, that they heard the sound of a quick sudden blow; and certainly there rose one long loud wailing cry, and all was silent!

After a pause, the crowd burst in, and there, beside his broken harp, beside his bridal bed, alas! how sadly tenanted, half kneeling, and half fallen forward with his face buried in the draperies of the couch, and his arms wound about the dead, lay Luigi; too true a blow of his stiletto had gone home to his heart! He was dead!—dead for the sins, and by the fault of others, though by his own rash hand! His fate we may not know—it resteth with Him only who knoweth all things. Enough for us to “judge not, that we be not judged!”

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The Mendenhall mansion was really a fine one, . you acquainted,” said Mrs. O'Conner, “you

with a real granite portico, and some real marble statues sunning themselves among the lilac and althea trees, and the Misses Disneys could not help feeling themselves still very far from the climax of fashionable living. In addition to the gentleman remarked by Mrs. O'Conner, the two young ladies of the family were also on the portico. They were somewhat older than the Disneys, and both nonentities, though the elder, Miss Julia, af. fected dignity, and the younger, called Kate, tried hard to be a romp. Mr. Augustus, or according to common usage, Gust Mendenhall, on the contrary, was presumed to possess a “great deal of character.” He was a nephew of Mr. Mendenhall, and dependent on him, having spent his small patrimony in passing through a part of Europe. He looked to be thirty, frequently observing of himself that he had grown old before his time, and having neither the person nor fortune to set up for a man of fashion, he wore gold spectacles, eschewed whiskers and all colours, except black, and assumed the critic and connoisseur in general, and the brilliant conversationist. confining, however, his acumen to bills of fare, and his wit to punning upon people's names. The fair pedestrians knew of his reputation, Mrs. O'Conner, indeed, having been introduced to him; and the girls timidly hoped, that he might consider them genteel, while the widow determined to be as fascinating as possible. “Who can they be?” said Miss Julia, watching their approach; “Oh yes—it must be those Disneys, who have rented the little Applegarth establishment—you remember, Kate, we used to see them at concerts—but who is the tall one?— that silly widow, Mrs. O'Conner, upon my word!” “Auspicious stars!” ejaculated Mr. Augustus; “ma belle cousine, I pray you no hauteur; Kate, ma chere, no brusquerie nor etouderie; receive them with your brightest smiles.” “Why, what's the matter that you are so condescending, cousin Gust?” asked Miss Kate. “Don’t you know that the widow is rich? and also that your vaurien cousin is poor? I had set my mark upon her this spring, and afterwards lost sight of her.” “If that's the case, we will be as civil as you please,” answered Miss Mendenhall, and accordingly, the visitors had no reason to complain of their reception. “And now, young ladies, since I have made

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must reward me by helping me out with a discovery I have just commenced. Which of you four, is the object of attraction to the interesting young foreigner concealed yonder in the woods?” “Young foreigner!” repeated Miss Julia, while the Disneys did not think it necessary again to express their ignorance. “Yes, a distinguished looking young German, with a lovely imperial and a hunting suit, no doubt, a stranger of rank. I see by your countenance that you are innocent, Miss Julia, and also Miss Kate, so it rests with these two. Only think of their want of confidence in me, never to let me know how attractive an admirer has haunted their neighbourhood, and even to feign surprise at my seeing him! Now do tell us—is he a Count or a Baron, which? I have made up my mind that he is one or the other.” “Appearances must be very strong in his favour to deceive the penetration of Mrs. O'Conner,” said cousin Gust; “but even she may be mistaken. I flatter myself that few strangers of rank visit the city without letters to me, and to my certain knowledge, there is neither a Count nor Baron in it at present.” “Oh! you short-sighted creature!” exclaimed Mrs. O'Conner; “do you think that a romantic youth, with blue eyes and flaxen locks, seeking love adventures, would appear in all the eclát of avowed rank! the young gentleman is incog.— wandering among the haunts of ladye love, with a rifle on his shoulder, and a flute in his pocket. I saw the end of it sticking out.” The gentleman was too polite to dissent farther, and the widow continued. “If you will all favour us with your company to-morrow, I shall endeavour to give you a sight of him, if I can conquer the prejudices of Mr. and Mrs. Disney, which, of course, has prevented open intercourse. Come, my dears, you must not try to silence me —I know exactly, from experience, how the matter stands—so bid him to come, and I’ll insure him a welcome. You must lay aside etiquette, and make us a sociable visit for the day— we'll look for you at dinner.” “I’ll go anywhere to see a German nobleman,” returned Miss Kate. Miss Julia, however, was somewhat started at so summary a familiarity, and drew up her head, but at a significant look from cousin Gust, she replied, “that she would see whether mamma had 249

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