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At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place, Scarce saw in all the room another face, Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took Full brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look 'Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance, And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher Had fix'd his eye, without a twinkle or a stir, Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride, Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet pride Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch, As pale it lay upon the rosy couch: 'Twas icy, and the cold ran through his veins ; Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart. “ Lamia, what means this? Wherefore dost thou start? Know'st thou that man?” Poor Lamia answer'd not. He gazed into her eyes, and not a jot Own'd they the lovelorn piteous appeal : More, more he gazed : his human senses reel: Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs ; There was no recognition in those orbs. “Lamia !” he cried—and no soft-toned reply. The many heard, and the loud revelry Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes :
The myrtle sicken'd in a thousand wreaths.
Then Lamia breathed death-breath ; the sophist's eye,
And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.*
* “Philostratus, in his fourth book, de Vita Apollonii, hath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that, going betwixt Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which, taking him by the hand, carried him home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phænician by birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him ; but she, being fair and lovely, would die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her awhile to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia ; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance, but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired A polloniùs to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an instant; many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the midst of Greece." —Bukton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 3, Sect. 2, Memb. I. Subs. I.
ISABELLA, OR THE POT OF BASIL;
A STORY, FROM BOCCACCIO.
FAIR Isabel, poor simple Isabel !
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye ! They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady; They could not sit at meals but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by; They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep, But to each other dream, and nightly weep.
With every morn their love grew tenderer,
With every eve deeper and tenderer still ; He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill; And his continual voice was pleasanter
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill; Her lute-string gave an echo of his name, She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.
Before the door had given her to his eyes ;
Her beauty farther than the falcon spies ; And constant as her vespers would be watch,
Because her face was turn'd to the same skies; And with sick longing all the night outwear, To hear her morning-step upon the stair.
A whole long month of May in this sad plight
Made their cheeks paler by the break of June : “ To-morrow will I bow to my delight,
To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon.”— “O may I never see another night,
Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune.”— So spake they to their pillows; but, alas, Honeyless days and days did he let pass ;
Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
Fell sick within the rose's just domain, Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
By every lull to cool her infant's pain: “How ill she is !” said he, “I may not speak,
And yet I will, and tell my love all plain : If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears, And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."
So said he one fair morning, and all day
His heart beat awfully against his side; And to his heart he inwardly did pray
For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide Stifled his voice, and pulsed resolve away
Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride, Yet brought him to the meekness of a child : Alas! when passion is both meek and wild !