The Book and The Ring
Thus, lit and launched, up and up roared and soared
A rocket, till the key o the vault was reached,
And wide heaven held, a breathless minute-space,
In brilliant usurpature: thus caught spark,
Rushed to the height, and hung at full of fame
Over mens upturned faces, ghastly thence,
Our glaring Guido: now decline must be.
In its explosion, you have seen his act,
By my powermay-be, judged it by your own, (10)
Or composite as good orbs prove, or crammed
With worse ingredients than the Wormwood Star.
The act, over and ended, falls and fades:
What was once seen, grows what is now described,
Then talked of, told about, a tinge the less
In every fresh transmission; till it melts,
Trickles in silent orange or wan grey
Across our memory, dies and leaves all dark,
And presently we find the stars again.
Follow the main streaks, meditate the mode (20)
Of brightness, how it hastes to blend with black!
Since our salvation, Sixteen-Ninety-Eight,
Of all reports that were, or may have been,
Concerning those the day killed or let live,
Four I count only. Take the first that comes.
A letter from a stranger, man of rank,
Venetian visitor at Rome,who knows,
On what pretence of busy idleness?
Thus he begins on evening of that day. (30)
Prodigious gaiety and monstrous mirth,
And constant shift of entertaining show:
With influx, from each quarter of the globe,
Of strangers nowise wishful to be last
I the struggle for a good place presently
When that befalls, fate cannot long defer.
The old Pope totters on the verge o the grave:
You see, Malpichi understood far more
That Tozzi how to treat the ailments: age, (40)
No question, renders these inveterate.
Cardinal Spada, actual Minister,
Is possible Pope; I wager on his head,
Since those four entertainments of his niece
Which set all Rome a-stare: Pope probably
Though Colloredo has his backers too,
And San Cesario makes one doubt at times:
Altieri will be Chamberlain at most.
And the old man took daily exercise (50)
Along the river- side; he loves to see
That Custom-house he built upon the bank,
For, Naples-born, his tastes are maritime:
But yesterday he had to keep in-doors
Because of the outrageous rain that fell.
On such days the good soul has fainting-fits,
Or lies in stupor, scarcely makes believe
Of minding business, fumbles at his beads.
They say, the trust that keeps his heart alive
Is that, by lasting till December next, (60)
He may hold Jubilee a second time,
And, twice in one reign, ope the Holy Doors.
By the way, somebody responsible
Assures me that the King of France has writ
Fresh orders: Fenelon will be condemned:
The Cardinal makes a wry face enough,
Having a love for the delinquent: still,
Hes the ambassador, must press the point.
Have you a wager too dependent here?
Hear of to-days event which crowns the week,
Casts all the other wagers into shade.
Tell Dandolo I owe him fifty drops
Of hearts blood in the shape of gold zecchines!
The Pope has done his worst: I have to pay
For the execution of the Count, by Jove!
Two days since, I reported him as safe,
Re-echoing the conviction of all Rome:
Who could suspect the one deaf earthe Popes?
But prejudices grow insuperable, (80)
And that old enmity to Austria, that
Passion for France and Frances pageant-king
(Of which, why pause to multiply the proofs
Now scandalously rife in Europes mouth?)
These fairly got the better in the man
Of justice, prudence, and esprit de corps,
And he persisted in the butchery.
Also, tis said that in his latest walk
To that Dogana-by-the-Bank, he built,
The crowd,he suffers question, unrebuked, (90)
Asked, Whether murder was a privilege
Only reserved for nobles like the Count?
And he was ever mindful of the mob.
Martinez, the Cæsarian Minister,
Who used his best endeavours to spare blood,
And strongly pleaded for the life of one,
Urged he, I may have dined at table with!
He will not soon forget the Popes rebuff,
Feels the slight sensibly, I promise you!
And but for the dissuasion of two eyes (100)
That make with him foul weather or fine day,
He had abstained, nor graced the spectacle:
As it was, barely would he condescend
Look forth from the palchetto where he sat
Under the Pincian: we shall hear of this!
The substituting, too, the Peoples Square
For the out-o-the-way old quarter by the Bridge,
Was meant as a conciliatory sop
To the mob; it gave one holiday the more.
But the French Embassy might unfurl flag, (110)
Still the good luck of France to fling a foe!
Cardinal Bouillon triumphs properly!
Palchetti were erected in the Place,
And houses, at the
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