« ZurückWeiter »
EDWARD WALFORD, M.A.
'Tis a simple sea-shell, one
Farewell friends! yet not farewell:
“Ye who believe in affection that hopes and
endures, and is patient, Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of a
woman's devotion, List to the mournful tradition."
PART 1. 'MONG the gay nobles of Firenze's plains, Though still a ruddy stripling with fair
cheek And raven locks, not one in prowess vied With Gualtiero, by ten male descents Count of Saluzzo. For he sat his steed As none beside; and when he blew the
horn, And sallied to the field with hawk and
hound, All people cried, “Behold the noble son Of noble sires, the glory of his race, Proud was Saluzzo of her youthful Count: And sooth he was of a right ancient line The only hope ; and fear was in the hearts Of Gualtiero's vassals, day and night, That should some accident by flood or field Betide their lord, that fair domain should pass
[fierce. To distant strangers-men both rude and Now thrice six years had passed since first
he played A tiny infant at his mother's knee In fair Saluzzo's halls; but she, worn down With saddest heritage of widowed woe, All broken-hearted when scarce past her
prime, To her last rest had gone. Gualtiero mused Upon her memory, oft would dwell upon The soft, dark lineaments of her sweet face. Such thoughts would temper and subdue
to tears The pride which smouldered in his breast;
for she Had ruled his wayward temper as a child, And as he grew to boyhood. He recalled The long dark tresses of her raven hair, Which she would bind across her marble
brow, Her tender, loving eyes, her princely mien,
* It is scarcely necessary to tell the well-informed reader that the story of Griselda forms the concluding Novel of the Tenth Day in the “ Decameron of Boccaccio, and that it has been often quoted as the most touching of all the tales which make up that most witty and amusing book.
Walked on the terrace 'neath the castle
wall To greet the Count upon his natal day. And Gualtiero stood amid the crowd Conspicuous by gay dress and manly gait, And easy courteous bearing; and he spake Kind words of friendship now to this, now
that, Waving his plumèd bonnet to the crowd.
And the white flowing veil which swept
athwart The sable tokens of her widowed state. And he would cry when weary of the chase, “Oh! the drear sadness of this lonely state, The vacant chamber where my mother
spun, The vacant chair wherein my mother sate, She whom they say my father 'Constance' called!
(greet When shall these halls such other inmate As shall be fit to stand where Constance
stood ? No, that can never be : I'll hie me then Back to the chase, and in my hounds and
hawks Find some poor solace for a mother's loss. I see no maidens, and I care to see None, who resemble her in beauty, or In priceless, peerless worth : and yet 'tis
hard To live unloved, to see no loving face, To feel no loving hand, to know no heart That beats and throbs responsive to one's
Stepped forth six burghers from the rest,
and said, "Most noble Count, son of a noble sire, Nor a less noble mother's son, we crave Audience and due attention at thine hands. We were thy father's vassals; we are
thine; And that allegiance that we paid to him We owe his son; nor shall it e'er be said That we were wanting in due loyalty. We love thy mother's and thy father's child,
[blood. And we would shed for thee, if need, our Thou wilt not therefore turn a cold, deaf
Meantime a murmur in Saluzzo's streets Is buzzed, then noised abroad ; then rumour wakes
(zens Her hundred tongues ; and wrathful citiCry out in discontent.
“It shames us much Year after year to see untenanted Those halls in which the noble Constance
shone. Our gracious Countess cheered each
burgher's heart By kindly word or deed of charity. See how unpeopled now our market-place, Our streets, our shops, once busy haunts
[looms And hives of industry; how stand our All idle, and how idleness breeds sloth, And sloth breeds poverty and miscontent. Oh that our Count would choose some
noble bride Of Venice, Padua, or of Modena, And give us back a Constance in his
To our entreaty if plain words we speak.
state Pass to the appanage of unworthy lords. There is no heir to thine ancestral line : And, reft of her who queenlike should side
felt Over thy court, whose presence should be Like that of the meridian sun, to shed Light, warmth, and plenty round, our city
pines. 'Tis but a little step from murmurings deep To discontent, and wrath rebellion breeds. Leave us not then without a lord, nor live Heirless, but think thee of our earnest prayer.
seek And if thou lov'st the chase, and still wilt The wild boar's lair, a huntsman, nor wilt heed
(task Thoughts of young love, to us entrust the To find a mate well worthy of thy bed." Right worthy friends and neighbours,"
he replied, "That which ye bid me do I had resolved Wary to shun; for though full many a
It happened thus one day, one festival: High mass was over, and, as wont it was. The burghers of Saluzzo and their wives, Children and all, a goodly retinue,
Of Northern Lombardy or our · Tuscan
towns Would gladly call her Gualtiero's bride, Saluzzo's Countess, yet my love to her Who gave me birth, whom still ye burghers
love, Forbids me to ambition aught that is Inferior to herself ; and many a mile Well might I traverse both by land and sea, Ere I beheld her equal, or in mien, Or in a loving, loyal, trusting heart. Peerless she was, and peerless yet remains, Nor can ye point to her that is her peer. Yet it mislikes me that this city fair Should risk its being or its weal on one Who bears and carries no enchanted life. So, masters, if it please ye, I will strive Against mine inclination, and will seek A maiden who shall be unto your hearts: And if beside she be to me, good sirs, A loyal friend, submissive, fond, and true, It
may be that I even shall rejoice To give a Countess to this city fair. But stay, one warning. Whom I choose
as bride Of Gualtiero, be she who she may, Of royal, noble, or ignoble blood, Ye swear to me, right worthy sirs, that ye And all my people loyally accept And reverence, as though she were a queen Of gay Ravenna, or of Milan proud, Ay, or of fair Firenze, come what may." He spoke: the burghers swore, and straight retired;
[path The gay crowd parted, and the terraceLay lonely and deserted as in knots Of twain and three the burghers home
ward paced, Much pondering in perplexed wonder
ment. And Gualtiero called his hound, and
stroked His courser's arched neck, then as half inclined
(maze; To wish his words unsaid, stood in a Like erst Adonis, when he heard the voice Of Aphroditė by his hunter's side, And heedless spurned and scorned her
Fringed with a scanty flower-bed and o'er
hung By a dark grove of olives, intermixed With pale ceringos and acacia bowers, A humble cottage stood. Giannuculo, Its tenant, was a labourer of the soil. And sixty summer suns had bronzed his cheek.
(fair, With him there dwelt a daughter, passing The envy of each youthful villager On this side and on that. Her girlhood Was scarcely passing into womanhood, And yet she showed a woman's care of him
(lips Who was her sire, and who with duteous Said daily, “ De profundis," for the soul Of her departed mother. She was fair; But not so fair as modest, pure, and chaste. A violet from beneath a moss-clad stone Peeping in early spring-tide did not cast Its glance more shyly forth upon the vale Than did Griselda when she spoke and smiled.
[sire, And prized was she much by her rustic Who called her his fair flow'ret; and his
friend, The padre of the hamlet, vowed with pride That ne'er was beauty more allied with
worth. “Thrice happy!" would he say, "the swain whoe'er
[call Shall win her heart's affection, and shall Griselda mistress of his humble home."
It chanced one day, one summer eventide, A stranger gay, with horses, hawks, and hounds,
(town, Weary with sport, rode homeward to the And down the western slope of the tall hill Nearing the convent portal, reined his
steed, Then lighting, walked along and held his Passing the cottage of Giannuculo, The stranger stayed a moment, and ad
dressed A word of greeting to the old man's ear, As basking in the evening sun he sat. “How now? what, all alone? and hast
thou none, Or wife or child, to cheer thy loneliness? 'Faith, by the Virgin, you and I, good sir, Are our own masters.'
Scarce the word was spoke, When, singing as she tripped along the
path, From the pure fountain at the garden side Bearing a draught of water fresh and clear,
On the grey slope of an Abruzzian hill, Where a steep bridle-path leads from the
road To the grim convent's portal, and a cross Marks limit to the consecrated ground,
Griselda came. The stranger stepped aside,
And no sooner thought Had passed into speech, than he declared Unto Giannuculo his love.
“I read In this sweet maiden's features all I seek To gladden and to grace the palace halls In which erewhile my mother Constance
shone. I am Saluzzo's Count; and in her eyes I see the eyes of Constance; in her gait, The princely queen-like mien; those raven
locks, The marble of her forehead, -all, I swear, Remember me of what my mother was.'
“You do much honour to our poor estate, Most noble Count; and if it be thy will To wed my daughter, let that will be done. Only I fear that she may climb too high, And take her seat upon a throne awhence One day her downfall shall more grievous
Placed on her unkempt hair, and cried aloud,
(view, As flocked the wond'ring rustics to the Behold the maiden whom I make this day
[next My wife, Saluzzo's Countess." Greeting Honest Giannuculo, forthwith he set Griselda on a palfrey, and she rode On his left hand straight to the palace gates. Forth came the heralds at the gladsome
[self, And cried, “Behold our lord Gualtiero's And greet his bride with loud and glad
acclaim, For she is worthy of a princely mate." The trumpets echoed back the voice of praise,
[the fires, Pealed the sweet bells ef churches, blazed And glad Saluzzo woke to life once more.
PART III. Twelve months, twelve happy months have
come and gone, And Gualtiero with a deep'ning love Doth cherish his fair bride, and ever fresh Appear the tokens of his fond regard. But when to a wife's title she did add The name of mother, and a daughter fair She bore, his countenance became
estranged Harsh words he uttered in his angry mood: “What! can ye bear no son? In vain
have I Sought out a bride in thee, if issue none Or none but female issue be my lot. Hark how my subjects mutter in their scorn, Curse thy mean parentage and poor estate: Thou art not what I hoped to find in thee. That child thou nursest in thine arms, I cast
[birds Upon the bleak hill's side, to dogs and A fitting prey. Now dost thou know thy fate!"
[but why To whom Griselda, “Good, my lord; Thus tax me with reproof? Nay, deal
with me As best befits thy weal and happiness. Did I not promise fealty to my lord ? I bow my will submissive unto thine. I am by birth the meanest of the race That owns thee master; and I was not fit To sit advanced to such high dignity. Nay, send me back unto that humble cot Whence thou didst lead me, a plain village maid,
(beside Robeless and crownless, rich in nought But in the love of him who sought my love And in the gift of honest maidenhood.
"Fear not, my friend; but first, in order
due, 'Tis fitting that I question her one word. I am Saluzzo's Count; I seek thy hand, Thy hand and heart; say, wilt thou bend
thy will, Whole and entire, and in no stinted share, Unto my will obedient, come what may; Nor shrink to render service to thy lord, Who loves thee, but whose will must be
The maiden laid her pitcher on the
ground; Stood for a moment half amazed and shy, Then looked to heaven, as though she
would attest The saints to her resolve, and said "I will."
He led her by the hand, and bade her strip
(smock; Her poor apparel, save one threadbare Then called for richest garments, silken
hose, Tunic and corselet, and a flowing robe Of satin tissue; and a coronet
Nay, if thou wilt be hard of heart, then take My mind is fixed; and ere to-morrow's sun
[tears As nakıd as thou camest thence to me. Yet cast her not unto the wolves, with And for thy sonI do implore thee; with a mother's tears ;
"Nay, good my lord, I bow Unless it be thy will; and if so be,
Unto thy voice, thy word, thy will--my law. Thy will and God's be done."
I bow, obedient; though it wrings my heart,
My very heart of hearts, not to lay down Stepped forth at this The coronet thou didst place upon my brow, Two men, fierce scowling, and with But the dear name of mother, and to see threatening glance
[a word. Thy henchmen bear the sweet fruit of my Drew daggers from their sides, nor spake womb Yet stood Griselda still, and kissed her To perish on the hills. Nay, cast him not babe,
Unto the wolves, as erst-But nay, my And made the holy sign upon her brow, tongue And bound a tiny cross around her neck, Shall ne'er give utterance to reproachful And only cried, Thy will and God's be word. done!
Gualtiero's wife shall ever worthy be It may be that the holy saints who guard Of her who was his mother. But my sonOur marriage bed, will to my prayer give Cast him not to the wolves, unless it be ear,
Thy will; and then thy will and God's be And grant me yet a son in face and form
done. To image forth his father's lineaments; Yet ere I go upon my lonely road, That son shall be a bond between us yet, A wife discrowned, yet scarce dishonoured, And recompense my loss. Thy will be One word I crave. This crown, these done."
This silk attire, yes, and this golden ring, Twelve months, twelve anxious months With which thou didst espouse my maiden have rolled on,
hand, And to the vacant cradle of the babe | I give thee back, for they are thine-nogifts, Succeeds a son. Fair was his cheek, and But only lent me for a little space. bright
You bid me take the dowry that I brought: His eye, and dark his hair, like Constance's. You need no teller for to count the dross, He grew to prattle on Griselda's knee, Nor I a purse to wrap it in, far less And know her voice, and call her “mother A sumpter-horse or mule to carry it. dear,”
Naked you took me from my father's hands, Nor shrank in terror at the plumèd crest
And naked I return, such as I came, Of Gualtiero.
Bereft of nought, save only maidenhood; As she sat one day
That jewel thou can'st ne'er give back to Upon the terrace, playing with her boy, The father stern approached, and threat- One little boon I ask: to hide my shame ening spake.
(true, Grant me one body-robe in lieu of that “Griselda, thou art pure, and good, and Which thou, my lord, didst take.
Thy Nor ever hast thou failed in loyalty
will be done." To me thy lord. My will is thine. "Tis well It should be so. Then hear. My burghers Clad in one modest smock of simple white, Mutter in silence, or complain aloud, (all Ere that the morrow'ssun had set, rode forth A humble peasant's child should be my In tears, Griselda, to her father's gate, heir,
(that thou Weeping herself, yet more her infant son; Their future lord. 'Tis therefore meet One faithful servant her sole retinue; Give up this boy to share his sister's fate, And, bathed in tears, he led her palfrey back. And then return to that which was thy home Then quick she donned again her beggar Hard by the convent gate; Giannuculo
(swept Will give thee welcome, and his agèd heart And fetched the pitcher from the well, and Haply thou mayest cheer. Meantime my Her father's floor, and cheered his aching
[wilt, heart, Yearns for a nobler mate. Say what thou Forgetful of her woe; or, if she thought,