« PreviousContinue »
Ir was that delicious season of the year, when nature, having laid aside the mourning weeds which she had worn for the sweet children that had perished on her bosom during the winter, and having shed the soft sparkling tears, in which her deeper agony imperceptibly dissolves, looked smilingly in the face of her celestial bridegroom, and felt within her maternal breast the awakening of new life. "April had wept itself to May," and May, as if conscious of the sorrow she had overcome, and that the malignant influence of her wintry enemy was now no more, dressed her countenance in perpetual smiles, and, with the happy feeling of security, danced on the fresh grass, and beneath the halfopened green buds of the reviving trees. It was at such a time, and on a bright golden morning worthy of the season, that the beautiful Flerida, Duchess of Parma, accompanied by the ladies of her court, strayed through the delicious gardens that lay around her palace, and which were divided from the stately city, which she governed with such a gentle hand, by a smooth, transparent stream, spanned by a marble bridge. So wonderfully had nature and art combined their resources in the formation of these gardens, that they realised all that the visionary has dreamed, or the poet has described. So regularly did the warm, well-tended earth, and the sheltered trees put forth, in unfailing successions, their flowers and fruits all the year round, that the place seemed the habitation of Armida-while Diana might have rested in its shady groves, and Venus bathed her ivory limbs in
the crystal water of its fountains. If human happiness depended on the delicious balm that nature sheds from a southern sky, or the inexpressible beauty with which she decks the bosom of the earth in summer, or even the consciousness that we can enjoy such blessings, without purchasing them at the bitter price of days and nights of hopeless and depressing toil, Flerida must have been most happy. But the melancholy that was depicted in her countenance, her languid gait and dejected air, showed but too clearly how little human happiness depends upon the accidental circumstances of nature, or of fortune. fair friends, with that quickness of perception, and that intuitive sagacity for which they are so celebrated, will at once surmise that the beautiful Flerida was in love; and as we cannot bear to be upon any terms but those of the most complete confidence with our readers, we are bound to acknowledge that they are perfectly correct. Yes, indeed, Flerida was in love-desperately, hopelessly in love-wounded in the midst of her very court by that daring little democrat, who attacks peasants and princesses, duchesses and dairy-maids, with the same indifference, and whose unceremonious visits to the palaces even of queens, under the character of "the boy-Cupid," has so often set Olympus in a roar. Wounded Flerida was, beyound all question; but unfortunately the immortal arrow that had pierced her breast was plucked by the archer, either in his haste or in his indifference to human suffering, from the wrong quiver. And here we must be allowed to say a word to all
* "El Secreto a Voces." VOL. XXXII.-NO. CLXXXVII.