Page images
[blocks in formation]



Ox the northern shore of Sicily are still to be no uninteresting object in the picture. He obseen the magnificent remains of a castle, which served my emotion ; and, as my eye met his, formerly belonged to the noble house of Maz- shook his head, and pointed to the ruin. These zini. It stands in the centre of a small bay, and walls, said he, were once the seat of luxury and upon a gentle acclivity, which, on one side, vice. They exhibited a singular instance of the slopes towards the sea, and, on the other, rises retribution of Heaven, and were, from that peinto an eminence crowned by dark woods. The riod, forsaken and abandoned to decay. His situation is admirably beautiful and picturesque, words excited my curiosity, and I inquired farand the ruins have an air of ancient grandeur, ther concerning their meaning. which, contrasted with the present solitude of A solemn history belongs to this castle, said the scene, impresses the traveller with awe and he, which is too long and intricate for me to recuriosity. During my travels abroad, I visited late. It is, however, contained in a manuscript this spot. As I walked over the loose fragments in our library, of which I could, perhaps, proof stone, which lay scattered through the im- cure you a sight. A brother of our order, a demense area of the fabric, and surveyed the su- scendant of the noble house of Mazzini, collectblimity and grandeur of the ruins, I recurred, ed and recorded the most striking incidents reby a natural association of ideas, to the times lating to his family, and the history thus formwhen these walls stood proudly in their original ed, he left as a legacy to our convent. If you splendour, when the halls were the scenes of please, we will walk thither. hospitality and festive magnificence, and when I accompanied him to the convent, and the they resounded with the voices of those whom friar introduced me to his Superior, a man of an death had long since swept from the earth. intelligent mind and benevolent heart, with Thus, said I, shall the present generation-he whom I passed some hours in interesting conwho now sinks in misery, and he who now versation. I believe my sentiments pleased him; swims in pleasure, alike pass away, and be for- for, by his indulgence, I was permitted to take gotten. My heart swelled with the reflection; abstracts of the history before me, which, with and, as I turned from the scene with a sigh, I some farther particulars obtained in conversafixed my eyes upon a friar, whose venerable fi- tion with the Abate, I have arranged in the folgure, gently bending towards the earth, formed lowing pages.

tion, than for her beauty. She brought the Mar

quis one son and two daughters, who lost their CHAP. I.

amiable mother in early childhood. The arro

gant and impetuous character of the Marquis TOWARDS the close of the sixteenth century, operated powerfully upon the mild and susceptithis castle was in the possession of Ferdinand, ble nature of his lady; and it was by many perfifth Marquis of Mazzini, and was for some years sons believed, that his unkindness and neglect the principal residence of his family. He was a put a period to her life. However this might be, man of a voluptuous and imperious character. he soon afterwards married Maria de Vellorno, To his first wife, he married Louisa Bernini, a young lady eminently beautiful, but of a chasecond daughter of the Count della Salario, a racter very opposite to that of her predecessor. lady yet more distinguished for the sweetness of She was a woman of infinite art, devoted to her manners and the gentleness of her disposi- pleasure, and of an unconquerable spirit. The Marquis, whose heart was dead to paternal ten- in the rapid intricacies of execution that she derness, and whose present lady was too volatile excelled so much, as in that delicacy of taste, to attend to domestic concerns, committed the and in those enchanting powers of expression, education of his daughters to the care of a lady, which seem to breathe a soul through the sound, completely qualified for the undertaking, and and which take captive the heart of the hearer. who was distantly related to the late Mar- The lute was her favourite instrument, and its chioness.

tender notes accorded well with the sweet and He quitted Mazzini soon after his second mar- melting tones of her voice. riage, for the gaieties and splendour of Naples, The castle of Mazzini was a large irregular whither his son accompanied him. Though na-, fabric, and seemed suited to receive a numeturally of a haughty and overbearing disposition, rous train of followers, such as, in those days, he was governed by his wife. His passions were served the nobility, either in the splendour of vehement, and she had the address to bend them peace, or the turbulence of war. Its present fato her own purposes; and so well to conceal her mily inhabited only a small part of it; and even influence, that he thought himself most inde- this part appeared forlorn and almost desolate, pendent when he was most enslaved. He paid from the spaciousness of the apartments, and an annual visit to the castle of Mazzini ; but the length of the galleries which led to them. the Marchioness seldom attended him, and he Amelancholy stillness reigned through the halls, staid only to give such general directions con- and the silence of the courts, which were shaded cerning the education of his daughters, as his by high turrets, was for many hours together pride, rather than his affection, seemed to dic- undisturbed by the sound of any footstep. Julia, tate.

who discovered an early taste for books, loved Emilia, the elder, inherited much of her mo- to retire in an evening to a small closet in which ther's disposition. She had a mild and sweet she had collected her favourite authors. This temper, united with a clear and comprehensive room formed the western angle of the castle : mind. Her younger sister, Julia, was of a more one of its windows looked upon the sea, beyond lively cast. An extreme sensibility subjected which was faintly seen, skirting the horizon, the her to frequent uneasiness; her temper was warm, dark rocky coast

of Calabria; the other opened but generous ; she was quickly irritated, and towards a part of the castle, and afforded a prosquickly appeased ; and to a reproof, however pect of the neighbouring woods. Her musical gentle, she would often weep, but was never sul- instruments were here deposited, with whatever len. Her imagination was ardent, and her mind assisted her favourite amusements. This spot, early exhibited symptoms of genius. It was the which was at once elegant, pleasant, and retired, particular care of Madame de Menon to coun- was embellished with many little ornaments of teract those traits in the disposition of her young her own invention, and with some drawings pupils, which appeared inimical to their future executed by her sister. The closet was adjoinhappiness; and for this task she had abilities ing her chamber, and was separated from the which entitled her to hope for success. A series apartments of Madame only by a short gallery. of early misfortunes had entendered her heart, This gallery opened into another, long and windwithout weakening the powers of her under- ing, which led to the grand staircase, terminastanding. In retirement she had acquired tran- ting in the north hall, with which the chief quillity, and had almost lost the consciousness apartments of the north side of the edifice comof those sorrows which yet threw a soft and not municated. unpleasing shade over her character. She loved Madame de Menon's apartment opened into her young charge with maternal fondness, and both galleries. It was in one of these rooms that their gradual improvement and respectful ten- she usually spent the mornings, occupied in the derness repaid all' her anxiety. Madame excelled improvement of her young charge. The winin music and drawing. She had often forgot her dows looked towards the sea, and

the room was sorrows in these amusements, when 'her mind light and pleasant. It was their custom to dine was too much occupied to derive consolation in one of the lower apartments, and at table from books, and she was assiduous to impart to they were always joined by a dependent of the Emilia and Julia a power so valuable as that of Marquis's, who had resided many years in the beguiling the sense of affliction. Emilia's taste castle, and who instructed the young ladies in led her to drawing, and she soon made rapid ad- the Latin tongue and in geography. During the vances in that art. Julia was uncommonly sus- fine evenings of summer, this little party freceptible of the charms of harmony. She had quently supped in a pavilion, which was built feelings which trembled in unison to all its va- on an eminence in the woods belonging to the rious and enchanting powers.

castle. From this spot the eye had an almost The instructions of Madame she caught with boundless range of sea and land. It commanded astonishing quickness, and in a short time at- the straits of Messina, with the opposite shores tained to a degree of excellence in her favourite of Calabria, and a great extent of the wild and study, which few persons have ever exceeded. picturesque scenery of Sicily. Mount Ætna, Her manner was entirely her own. It was not crowned with eternal snows, and shooting froin

« PreviousContinue »