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FRANCESCA FOSCARI.

BY THE COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON.

It was in Venice, 'mid those palaces,

Whose splendour bears th' impress of glorious art,
That wandering day by day I sunned my eyes
In the perpetual summer, which the spells
Of love-taught Titian and the Veronese
Have bid to breathe and glow through many a hall
In their most gorgeous pictures—but of these,
One portrait, more than all its sisters, seemed
To fascinate my fancy.-There she sate,
A lady, young, and so surpassing fair,
That, though attired in all that gold can give,
Her beauty cast her rich robes into shade;
As doth the sun, emerging from bright clouds,
Obscure their lustre. O'er this lovely face
Reigned melancholy, yet so sweetly pale,
It showed but as a soft transparent veil
O'er beauty flowing, giving it new grace.
Her dress, methought, was eastern-the tight vest,
Clasped with bright gems, spoils by her grandsires won

From Turkish foes subdued; but on her head

A diadem of glowing flowers she wore,

Such as but flourish 'neath a southern sun,

And only can Venetian pencil paint.

Her rounded arms were white as falling snow,
Ere it hath kissed our earth.-I often stood
Gazing upon this picture; and one day
Questioned the aged man, whose task it was
To show the palace, if he knew the tale

Of her whose wondrous beauty it portrayed.
"Ah! signor, it was sad-in truth most sad!"
The aged man replied, and shook his head;
And as his white locks waved around a brow,
On which rude time a thousand furrows wrought,
He looked like the old genius of the place,
Lamenting o'er its splendour's quick decay,
And thinking he had faded scarce as fast.
"The lady was of this most ancient house,
Renown'd for beauty, and Francesca named,
Sole child of him, whom the Venetian state
Sent her ambassador to papal Rome.
She loved, was loved—and with that passion wild,
Signor-you know not such in your cold clime;
But which with us, beneath our genial sun,
Quick ripens, ay, ere reason grows mature
To check its giant strides in youthful hearts.
The fair Francesca dwelt at Venice-here
Within this very palace, where we stand,
In charge of one (her mother early died)
Who long had filled to her a mother's place.
This was a dame of high and ancient blood,
By fortune slighted—and in place of wealth
Dowered with most scanty pittance; so her child,
With her, beneath Foscari's princely roof
Had found a home.

The young Teresa was

Self-willed as fair-she brooked no calm restraint,
And often filled her anxious mother's breast

With dim prophetic fears of coming days.
The noble Julio, Conradino's lord,
The plighted husband of Foscari's child,

Reluctantly had left his lady love,

And joined her father's embassy at Rome;
While she, impatient, fondly counted o'er

Each day that brought her nearer to the time

Fixed for their home return.-You know how maids
Pine, and say prayers, and think 'twill never come.-
Oft would the fair Francesca pensive gaze
On the gold ring, pledge of the nuptial one,
Placed on her finger by the noble youth
Ere he departed; often would she dwell
Upon the honied words, and as sweet looks
That he, her first, her only love, her lord,
Had lavished on her, with that parting gift.
'Twas in such hours the portrait that you see
Was painted, and the cunning artist gave
The pensive character her beauty wore,
Absent from him who ruled her virgin heart.
Affairs of import at imperial Rome,
Caused that Foscari should consult the Doge
Of Venice; and it chanced-ah! envious fate!
That the kind father, thinking of his child
Pining in absence, sent young Julio home
Upon this mission to his Sovereign.

With Love's own haste, fair Venice soon he reach'd,
And sought this palace, though the midnight hour

Had toll'd; but as his gondola drew near
Yon balcony, he saw, O! baleful sight!

A cavalier descend, by twisted ropes,

Down from the chamber of his promised wife, While she the casement closed, and waved her hand Fondly to him who went. The sight was death.

With frantic speed he follow'd in the track—

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