Imágenes de páginas

Her cradle's dust reposed-I cannot live
Until I breathe once more the tepid airs

Whose balmy pinions fann'd my youthful bliss. She throws herself on the compassion of the Count, whom she intreats to accompany her to Italy, as the guardian angel he had ever proved himself, and confides to him that, previous to her acquaintance with his brother, (to whom, however, she had been during their brief union a faithful and duteous wife,) she had loved, and that the tears which quenched her vision had failed to extinguish the memory of that pure first flame.

The painter, of whose presence and occupation at her picture she is perfectly unconscious, starts up and endeavours to leave the room. The Count makes him a signal to remain. Camilla exclaims

Cam. Hark! I hear steps—A sudden shudder runs
Athwart my frame!

'Tis nothing. Proverbs say,
When thus we feel, death strides across a grave.

Cam. Nay, nay, the footsteps were not those of death.
Was't not his well-known light and airy tread
Flitting along the dim church aisle to meet me?
I can no longer wait-Lead to my chamber-

I must speak with th' Italian messenger. The painter is left in all the ecstasies of reviving, and, at length not altogether hopeless love. He kneels before the picture with outspread arms, and the curtain falls.

The third aćt opens in the Baronial hall, decorated with armour and other trophies, and hung round with family pictures, one of which is covered with a curtain, while next to it a blank space yet remains. The Count has here a private interview with the messenger from Italy, who, alas ! unconscious how much too late for happiness is its arrival, gives the noble knight, with cruel felicitations, the letter he concludes to contain the once precious dispensation —when he innocently remarks,

Mess. Is not the certainty of long-sought bliss
The dearest treasure to a faithful heart?

Of all I bring, thine is the costliest gift!
The simple answer of the Count speaks volumes :-

Count. Dost think so? Who can tell ?

The old seneschal enters, and having been at length made aware of the rank and name of the strangers, pours out a flood of rude but hearty congratulations to his young lord, the son of his beloved Count Conrad, whom he had often carried in his arms, and from devotion to whose memory this attached though vindictive and ferocious retainer had stolen, at the risk of his life, from the gallows of Naples, the picture he now unfolds to view-though not, alas ! till it had performed its fatal office, by betraying by its likeness its original to death. The Marquis exclaims

Marq. Heavens ! 'tis himself! I shudder to behold it!
Obliterated half by time, yet like
Not to my living son, but the pale ghost
That hovers o'er his grave.

Dear noble features !
Dust clothes ye now, even thicker than this picture.
All parties, prepossessed with the idea that this picture was furnished in con-
requence of a reward offered by the Neapolitan government, and urged on by



the inexorable seneschal, vow vengeance on the venal artist who could thus prostitute his skill for purposes of cruelty. The Count, with his usual mildness, would temper the blind impetuosity of revenge ; but the old servant and the Marquis breathe a fiercer spirit; and the latter, investing his grandson with a sword from the nearest pile, makes him swear that he will devote his youth to seeking and punishing the murderer. The Count beautifully concludes:

Count. Try ere thou strike! From innocent blood preserve
Thy maiden sword. No tears can wash it thence.
Be thy heart's conqueror ! With poble deeds
Brighten thy father's name. Yet shouldst thou meet
The traitor who could stain it, call him forth,

And let him have fair judgment ! When the others have departed to dispatch the Neapolitan envoy, the sea neschal privately imparts to the Count a clew which he possesses to discover the object of his deadly malice, in a peculiar sign or cipher usually affixed by artists as a distinctive mark of their respective works. The Count, to whom such vindictive triumph is repugnant, thus moralizes :

Count. Alas! blind vengeance is a bloody wolf,
Upon his mother's vitals preying, while

Her own fell womb is teeming with remorse. When left alone, more bitter musings still possess him. He takes from his bosom the yet unopened letter from Rome.

Count. What dost thou bring me, silent secret herald ?
If cold denial of my warmest wish,
Thou'st chosen well thy time—that wish is dead
Or dost thou mock me with a granted prayer,
A pardon—when the fatal stroke hath fallen? (He opens shuddering.
My God! the dispensation! Mighty word !
Absolver from all ties and all tribunals!
How powerless now to heal a broken heart!
On its invisible tablets stern decrees
Are written, which defy thee to efface them.

(A pause.
She loves me not-she sees in me a brother-
She trusts in me—she spreads before my heart
Her new awaken'd love, and bids me gaze
Into my forfeit Eden. Die, sweet hope !
Farewell for ever! As a mother lays
Beneath the sable cross the churchyard rears
That darling child, that still in memory lives,
So will I shroud beneath this cross once more
The love I bury—but can ne'er forget.
She trusts in me-then on to victory-
I dedicate myself her love's true knight,
And this hard sacrifice shall seal the vow!

(Tears the dispensation, and exit slowly.

The scene changes to a gallery, open on one side to the Alps; the picture of Camilla is 'on the easel, and her faithful attendant seeks an interview with 1 he painter, when inutual explanations take place, which we must merely hint at. Suffice it, that the slumbering affections of Anton Leny (as he now avows himself ) derive fresh and imperishable energy from the communications of the attached confidante of his beloved ; and he even resolves, in the laudable pride of genius and worth, to demand her of her ambitious parent. The only part of this scene, which must be particularized as bearing on the poetical justice of the drama, is, that Julia discovers from the painter's narrative that the picture so fatal to the late Count, and through him to the ambitious views of his haughty father-in-law, was really painted by poor Leny-not, as supposed, for the

Neapolitan government, but at the suggestion of the Marquis, who, as a means of eradicating his daughter's youthful predilection, had imagined the poor de vice of first employing and then insulting the young artist in the presence of the weeping Camilla. For her sake the outraged lover had bridled his resentment, and left Naples; but the picture (though he even yet continues ignorant of it) remained to be the unconscious instrument of retributive justice. Leonhard now enters with his sword by his side. He asks,

Leon. Dear master, know'st thou all ?

Aye, every thing
My blessing on thee, youthful Count von Norden;
How well thine arms become thee!

Call me son,
And prithee do not mock me.

Thou'rt my son,
And ever must be. Little dost thou dream
What hidden threads fate weaves into one bond.

Come to my heart, bright image of thy mother! The youth, cleaving with long-tried confidence to his instructor, intreats him to advise him whether to follow the counsels of those who would stimu. late him to deeds of harshness and revenge. The painter mildly disclaims such general principles, but desires to hear the occasion of the enquiry. The youth then recalls to him a former admired work of his own, representing Orestes revenging his father's murder on Clytemnestra and Egisthus, and asks whether, as his art conceived, his judgment sanctions the deed.

Paint. I ne'er imagined it. Alas! 'twas wrought
More barbarous far than I had dared to paint it:
But with mix'd feelings have I view'd my work,
Now tempted to cry out, “ Orestes, pause !
Leave vengeance to the Gods”-now forced to own
That justice urged the murderer's weapon home.

Leon. Thou didst not then a son's harsh act condemn?

Paint. Condemn it? nay! I shrink from thoughts of blood,
Yet who shall say a son may not avenge
A father? Let him to impartial right
Commit his cause—and if man may not judge
Between them, let him dare his dastard foe
To manly combat in the sight of heaven!
Leon. I thank thee; thou hast given me peace


Paint. And yet thou'rt strangely moved !

Let's leave yon picture ;
The waves within will not know rest till then.

The Count now enters, bidding Leonhard prepare for an excursion on horseback, in which, at the request of the Marquis, they are about to engage; and when alone with the artist, after apostrophizing, in mournful accents, the beautiful picture which he fears will soon remain bis only consolation, (as he con cludes his new friend will, out of affection for his pupil, accompany him and mother in her altered purpose of returning to Italy,) bids Spinarosa be to their mutual happiness, the guardian genius he had once thought to prove himself. On being asked why he should seek to delegate the pious office, he professes himself about-in furtherance of a solemn vow—undertaking a distant journey in quest of Camilla's lost happiness. Without in the least betraying his own love, or the extent of the sacrifice, he draws from the painter a confession that he was the early friend of Anton Leny, and the confident of his youthful passion ; and makes him promise to guide him as the unexpected harbinger of unexpected felicity, to his supposed dwelling in Germany. The painter's gratitude is even now on the point of betraying him, though he as yet dreams not that he has a rival in the dedicated Knight before him.

The Marquis enters, eager to exhibit himself in new splendour to his host's vassals, and summons the painter to attend him as one of his suite ; while the good Count more courteously invites him to survey the future heritage of his dear pupil. The painter declines both, on the plea of availing himself of the Countess's wonted evening visit to this gallery, for the purpose of finislıing her picture. The father expresses his delight and surprise at its exquis site expression, and promises to grant any recompense the artist may demand. He coldly answers,

Paint. Say'st thou? I may ask much ! The riders depart, and the fair subject of the painter's labours shortly are rives. She thus pathetically laments her blindness to her attendant, whom alone she imagines present:

Cam. O happy who can mount a flying steed,
And ride forth gaily in the golden day!
And thee, O Nature! with a loving glance
Embrace in all thy beauty! Thousand eyes
Gaze on thee-sea and stream reflect thy charms
To me alone thou’rt hid ! The burning lids
That in the fount of life would gladly bathe,
Must sadly swim in tears! Capst see the riders ?

Julia. Ev’n now they gallop swiftly through the vale.

Cam. Dost see the painter? Does he boast the skill
To manage a proud steed? or rides he last ?

Julia. The rocky screen now hides them from my view.
Cam. Take off my fillet, that the cooler air
May visit my sad eyes. I weary thee,
I fear with questions ; but thou know'st 'tis thine
To do sight's office for me, and with words
Distinct and clear set life's new shapes before me.

Julia. Thy mind returns the office of mine eyes.
I place before thee the external world,
Thou lift'st for me the veil from that within.
Cam. Already hast thou sketch'il my son's dear likeness;
Now draw for me his master's. Is he tall ?

Julia. Ay, thin and tall.

His eyes are surely blue.
Julia. Yes, even so—they wear truth's livery.
Cam. His brow is fair and free.

His brow?

Nay, nay,
Deep seriousness enshrouds it.

Grief, perhaps !
Julia. I know not what the once smooth plain haih furrow'd.
Cam. Play not bright golden curls around his head ?
Julia. Oh, no!

Indeed! And did his cheek not glow
When first his eyes upon the blind one fell ?

Julia. I cannot tell.

Ah, then it is not he! These reminiscences become too painful, and Julia, to soothe her mistress's agitation, goes to fetch her harp. In the meantime, the sunset call of the Alpine horn is heard, summoning the flocks and herds to rest. Camilla then gives vent to her feelings in a little mournful rhyme effusion.

I've seen thy charms in happier days, fair scene!
Ere endless night its pall around me spread;
And, stealing o'er the pearl-besprinkled green,
Have paused to hear Eve's silent solemn trcad :
I've mark'd the weary peasant's quickening pace,

As near his lowly cot his footsteps drew-
And pleased look'd on, when, with his rosy race,
The partner of his toils to meet him flew :

And oft my heart bath join'd the peaceful pair,
When, mid soft evening chimes, their voices rose in prayer.

O my Antonio ! by what paths unknown
Doth evening bid thee to thy home repair ?
Who forth to meet thee from thy hut hath flown,
Whose faithful hands thy frugal meal prepare ?
Oh, dost thou never see, by memory's light,
The poor Camilla's mourning image nigh?
Thine hovers round her, even in deepest night
Oh, that her greetings on love's

wings could fly!

(Here the Painter kneels with outstretched arm But, Father, I commend his lot to Thee, Ob, grant him all and more thou didst design for me! We must hasten towards a conclusion, omitting reluctantly many scenes of great power. One in which Camilla pleads in vain to be permitted to accumpany her father to Italy, though the plea is thus affectingly urged :

Cam. And I, that have drain'd misery's cup with thee,
And shared the bread we moisten’d with our tears,
And held through grief's cold night my faithful watch-
Am I-at length, when joy's unwonted fire
Is kindled on our ancient hearths-denied

The privilege to bask in it with thee? When answered with hints of the Count's attachment, she indignantly repels them, as unworthy of his dedicated character, which had hitherto shed its pure charm over their intercourse—and, as a last resource, implores her father to listen to a secret, which he, already anticipating its tenor, refuses to do. We can only glance at the next scene, in which the Count unfolds to the Marquis his firm resolution to resign his own happiness for that of his daughter, and seek, under the guidance of Spinarosa, his friend the painter Leny. To the cold suggestions of pride and ambition he thus replies :

Count. See how between two blooming neighbour lands
A glacier stands, dividing them asunder,
As ye do faithful hearts ! But ah! between
Its icy summit and the stars there lies
Anample realm of light it cannot bar!
Through these wide fields spring sends alike with love
Her secret heralds- balmy breath of flowers
Across stern peaks-and silent greeting hearts
In spite of thee!

My curse upon such love!
Count. Nay, should the lawine * of thy curse descend
Beneath Heaven's milder sun, 'twill softly melt
In a pure stream of blessing ! Be it mine

With a child's tears to thaw thy frozen heart. They are interrupted by the painter, who, announcing the conclusion of his work, bespeaks its place in the gallery. This the Count promises, while the Marquis detains Spinarosa in earnest conference.

Marg. Not with an artist, of a picture's price,
Have I to speak-No! with a man I'll treat
Of human happiness—and if with frankness,

• Avalanche.

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