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props were bound round with strong ropes, which were to be pulled by horses to draw them suddenly from under the roof and walls, and we only waited for midnight; but while we were thus busy a coach drove up to the door, and the expected commissioner made his appearance. But I really believe you are laughing at me and my story, which is very uncivil-well, I will keep it to myself.”
“Quite the contrary,” said the professor; "your story is very interesting to us, and I beg you most earnestly to continue; our laughing was occasioned by a similar history we heard no great while ago."
" Oh, you must tell us that!” exclaimed the lady.
“ Afterwards,” replied the professor ; " but first permit us to hear the conclusion of your adventure."
“ You left off at the arrival of the commissioner," said the counsellor.
" Ah, true," replied his lady, smiling; “ I had more business to perform yet, that evening. He was a young and handsome manwhat was his name? let me recollect--oh! Ettmüller."
“ The Herr Ettmüller!” exclaimed her husband, gaily. “ Ettmüller a young and handsome man! Why he was a dry, withered old fellow, who died five years ago in his eighty-sixth year.'
“ What then?” observed she, “ that must have been another person; this commissioner, I tell you, was a well-formed man about your size ; and, as I recollect, his voice resembled yours very much; so you may imagine I was not a littie taken with him—but, professor, you make me quite angry with your laughing; and you, too, are beginning again, my dear : you are both of you making a jest of me.”
The professor deprecated, the husband flattered, and both begged her to proceed with her story.
-But then let no one laugh again!" threatened the fair narrator, " else I am quite mute. Well, this handsome commissioner arrived ; but he was by far too polite; for he prated such fine things to my friend, about her romantic abode in the old convent, and his own fondness for these fatal antiquarian researches, that she lost all hope that he would be opposed to her husband, and report the necessity of a new building. She, therefore, desired me to superintend the remaining preparations, whilst she entertained her guest; but I presume she was little edified by this antiquarian commissioner, for she soon had him conducted to his room, and came to assist us in our arrangements for our work.
But we were not a little frightened as we were going about the court to look after the workmen, who were already chopping at the props, that they might give way the easier, to see a light in one of the windows of the very part of the house about to be precipitated; and in the instant it occurred to us that the stupid servant Peter, who was ignorant of our intentions, had conducted the stranger into the former state-room, which was at that instant expected to fall; we instantly called to the workmen to stop, and ordered the horses to be unfastened from the ropes; but the question now was, how we were to get the guest out of the tottering building without betraying all. My friend was so agitated by fear that she could hardly stand ; I do not know how, but I mustered courage enough to determine to call him myself. Let him conjecture what he will, thought I, so he be once rescued. I accordingly ran to his
chamber, and knocked at the door, and when I heard him move I quickly withdrew; but, as I saw nothing of him, I knocked again ; the
come in" which he called out lustily, frightened me away again ; I now felt the floor begin to shake under me. In my terror, I forced open the door and was about to enter, when he approached me with a light. He may, I dare
white dress for a ghost, or for a nun come back again, but I was very glad to see him up, and to hear him follow me, as I hastened back again ; be continued to pursue me till I got into a little court at some distance; I returned by a shorter way to the workmen, and upon my giving them a sign that the stranger was in safety, the old walls with a tremendous crash fell in. I took care not to be seen by him again, as he might have recognized me, and that would have betrayed our roguery ; but I would not willingly experience the anxiety of that night's adventure again."
“And is it then really possible," exclaimed the counsellor, clasping bis wife to his breast, “ thou didst really venture into the tottering and nearly falling building to become a protecting angel to that stranger ?"
"Oh, there was nothing to wonder at," replied the lady; "the danger overcame every other consideration. But really I do not understand this,-am I betrayed ? you look at me, my love, with such particular affection, and the professor there is laughing again like a wild man,—what does all this mean ?” “You shall soon know,” replied the counsellor.
“ While you were absent, I told the professor, for the sake of convincing him of the error of his incredulity, how once a protecting spirit had conducted me out of a house, which had no sooner quitted than it fell down ; and now I find that this spirit was no other than that dear angel, who soon after began to accompany me through life in a corporeal form, my Antonia.” “ How," exclaimed the lady,
then that commissioner ?" Exactly. Ettmüller, who was unwell at the time, commissioned me to execute that business for him."
“Oh, this is indeed delightful,” embracing her husband affectionately,
“ The professor would indeed now triumph, if these brave Cosaks had not embraced your cause against his unbelief.”
“You may give up my cause," said his wife smiling; “I had very good grounds for my foreboding respecting the visit of this night. My brother, as you know, is with the Prussians in the neighbourhood. He sent me, this morning, a letter for his wife, with a secret injunction to deliver it this evening to a Cosak who would ask for it; but if no one came, I was to burn it directly. The address on it was, I conclude, merely to deceive. The Cosak was true to his commission, and had the letter and something to drink besides. My brother will excuse himself for making this a secret to you."
“ Bravo! admirable,” shouted the professor ; " and so can all visions and marvellous stories be elucidated, I doubt not.'
“I heartily agree with you," said the lady, “and can fulfil your expectation on the spot as to your holy graal." You may remember I told you my story originated in my seeing that, and now in justice I must return to it. The Amtman, my friend's husband, was quite inconsolable for the loss of his treasures; for though we had preserved the greater part in safety, yet we had not saved all, for we poor ignorant folks could not appreciate the inestimable value of some of the old
pottery; but nothing grieved him so much as the loss of one vessel of inconceivable rarity, and my friend, who was heartily tired of his endless lamentations, wrote to me to get something antique like it for her directly, which might banish from his mind the recollection of bis loss. I knew not where to find such a curiosity; and so, that nothing might be wanting on my part, I went to our polter, or as he chose to call himself, to the master modeller, and ordered, according to a design I gave him, a cup to look as like an antique as was possible. The man was highly flattered by the commission, and must needs put bis name and title at length on the vase, which of course rendered it useless for my purpose ; he was therefore obliged to begin it over again, and I failed not to enjoin him from putting his name, as the vase was intended to pass for the work of a master who had been dead more than a thousand years. Nevertheless, as I now find, he must have promised himself immortality from his labours, as he could not refrain from inserting his initials at least, under the handle, to hand them down to posterity.”—“ The devil !" cried the professor, with rather a clouded brow.
“So it is," continued the lady. “ Look here as I read it, your inscription proves · Adam Stephen Graal did it.'”
The counsellor burst out into a laugh, but the professor would not give up bis graal yet. “ You jest, Madam! Ay, ay, this is all an invention of your own. Very good, upon my word.”
“ It is perfectly true, nevertheless," replied she, "you may convince yourself by my friend Graal's first essay, which I fortunately have preserved, and where the inscription is legible at full length. I shall be happy to present you with it as a new curiosity for your museum.”
A general laugh from every one present put an end to the conversation; and they all unanimously agreed neither to be superstitious themselves, nor to blame credulity too hastily in others.
FRAGMENT OF А PROJECTED ODE
On some green cape's delicious brow,
That spread its purple robe below,)
half-closed in reverie
Floating around his pearly car:-
With braided green the deep they lave,
Which, where it lingers, lights the wave-
His golden East's voluptuous tide,
Around their Monarch's path of pride!
Fond Fancy still his eye beguiles ;
Or, with the Just, their shining isles. *
Allusive to the beautiful superstition of the Fortunate Isles, in which the departed great and good were imagined to re-exist in a state of elysian happiness.
CRESCEMBENI AND THE ARCADI.
Gio. Mario Crescembeni was born at Macerata in 1663, of a noble family. When very young, he was distinguished among his companions by a total indifference to every kind of childish amusement, and an enthusiastic admiration for the poetry of his country. This inclination was first observed by his astonished father, when having placed an edition of Ariosto, remarkable for the beauty of the engravings, in the hands of the child, it was returned to the bookcase with pencil marks on the margin of some of the most admired passages. So clear an indication of discernment and taste, was not overlooked by the parent, who provided the best master's to cultivate the budding talent of his son. After having gone through the usual routine of classical instruction, Crescembeni, at the desire of his father, who was a lecturer on law in the university of Macerata, directed his mind to the attainment of proficiency in that science, otherwise very uncongenial to bis own disposition. Assiduous attention, however, combined with an honourable emulation of tracing the footsteps of his father, overcame his natural repugnance; and be so far succeeded in that intricate and rugged study, as to obtain the degree of doctor of laws in 1679. A few years afterwards, he was chosen by the Consiglio di Credenza, pube Jic lecturer on the institutes of Justinian. It was soon thought advisable that the young lawyer should repair to Rome ; and thither he went with the full expectation of his friends that he would be distinguished in the Curia Romana. The usual fatality, however, which seems to hang over the profession, and happily prevents the squandering of invention or imagination on its dull and narrow-minding pursuits, had chalked out a very different path of honour to the young Crescembeni. His uncle, at whose house he lived, soon discovered, that his clients were all notorious votaries of the Muses, that his desk, instead of containing notes or observations on the pandects or the code, possessed a much larger assortment of sonnets and canzoni, on subjects of less solidity; and apprehensive that this propensity might cloud his prospects in his profession, he strictly forbade any public display of his poetical talents. On the death, however, of his father, at whose instigation he had at first entered on the uninviting path of the law, he seems to have almost deserted the courts, and to have devoted himself entirely to literary pursuits.
About this time, the Academie degli Umoristi degli Intrecciati ed Infecondi were celebrated at Rome, and in them Gio. Mario maintained a very honourable distinction. But he soon perceived that the productions of the members of these societies were formed upon depraved and vicious models, and conceived the idea of forming a new institution which should correct the prevalent deterioration of taste. Several of his literary friends concurred in this idea, and they were for some time accustomed to assemble at evening, to recite their poetical compositions. On one of these occasions, a member exclaimed unthinkingly, “Ecco per noi risorta Arcadia,” an observation which, though made with little consideration at the time, proved afterwards the germ of a great and celebrated association. When the meeting of that evening was concluded, Crescembeni proposed to his associates the establishment of a new academy, bearing the name of Arcadia, a proposal which they all
cheerfully embraced. Full of the idea of their new scheme, they immediately commenced the outline of an institution, the general feature of which was that of a literary republic. It was agreed, in order to give every possible scope to the exertions of its members, that its constitution should be purely democratical, that distinction of every kind, save only of talent, should be abolished, that every member should assume the name and bear the character of an Arcadian shepherd, and appear at the society in a mask. This republic, with truly radical magnanimity, published a manifesto, in which it was declared, that they would have neither protector, nor president, nor prince, nor any kind of authority whatever, but merely a custode; and this honourable office was conferred upon Crescembeni, now called Alfesibeo, not on account of any pre-eminence which he might claim, but merely as his patent sets forth, “che fu il primo chi mise piede in Arcadia." But though he was thus reminded that he was in no way superior to the other members of the society, his claim to that distinction was unanimously acknowledged in the poetical congratulations which accompanied bis nomination. Thus, Nedisto, a pastore,
“ Te di Parnaso il gran collegio scelse
Fidò dell' ardua impresa il grave pondo.” No sooner was the institution of the new academy made known than it increased to an enormous extent; and, whether they were attracted by the novelty of assembling in masks or the romantic miniature of pastoral life, cardinals, princes, and the most distinguished ladies, were emulous of becoming members of the new society. Under the mild direction of their custode, the Arcadians immediately sought a retreat where they might indulge in their favourite exercises; and they chose a small garden on the Monte Gianicolo, which, though but a short time occupied by them, was ever after considered classic ground, and continually celebrated as such by their members.
The garden on the Monte Gianicolo, where the Pastori at first met, became soon too confined for the Iniziati; and Alfesibeo was very much perplexed for an enlarged place of meeting. From this difficulty he was relieved by the munificence of Girolamo Mattei, Duca di Paganica, who very generously offered the Arcadians the use of his magnificent pleasure-grounds, on the Monte Esquilino. This offer was gratefully accepted; and the procession of the Arcadi from the Gianicolo to the Esquilino, evinced by its splendour the reputation which the new academy had so speedily attained. On their arrival at the entrance of their new bosco, Alfesibeo threw open the gates, and the Arcadi luxuriated in the shade of the ample foliage, and the more delightful occupation of reciting to musical accompaniment their compositions upon the occasion. It was not long, however, before they outgrew their new seat; and several of the Arcadi, who belonged to the Royal Academy founded by Christina, Queen of Sweden, proposed to adjourn to the Reale Giardino annexed to the Palazzo Riari sulla via della Lungaro, where that princess had lived and died. On this occasion the Arcadi strained the licence of poets to an unusual extent; for in tender and grateful recollection of the many favours some of them had received from Christina, they voted her, though two years dead, a