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No. XXXIX.-WEDNESDAY, JULY 5th, 1820.
GALGANO AND MADONNA MINOCCIA.
In the city of Sienna in Italy, famous for it's sweet voices and pleasant air, lived a sprightly and accomplished young man of the name of Galgano, who had long loved in vain the wife of one Signor Stricca. He knew nothing of the husband, except that he was what we call a respectable man; and something or other in his mind prevented him from making his acquaintance; but he contrived to meet the lady wherever he could at other men's houses, and to let her know the extent of his admiration. He wore her colours at tournaments. He played and sung to the mandolin under her window, when her husband was away.
He was always of her opinion in company, partly because he was in love, and partly because their dispositions were so alike that he really thought as she did. One evening as a party sat' out on a large wide balcony full of orange-trees, listening to music that was going on inside of the house, Madonna Minoccia (such was the lady's name) dropped a small jewel in one of the trees; and as he was helping her to find it, her sweet stooping face and spicy-smelling hair appeared so lovely among the polished and graceful leaves, that he could not but steal a kiss upon one of her eyelids, adding in a low and earnest voice, Forgive me, for I could not help it."
Whether the sincere and respectful manner in which these words were uttered, had any influence upon the lady's mind, we cannot say ; but neither on this, nor on future occasions when he sent her presents and letters, did she return any answer, kind or unkind; nor did she shew him a different countenance whenever they met. dropped her eyes a little more than asual, when he spoke to her; but
es She only whether again this was owing to a wish to avoid looking at him, or to some little feeling of self-love, perhaps unknown to herself, and produced by the recollection of that irrepressible movement on his part, is not to be ascertained. Some ladies will say, that she ought to have made a complaint to her husband, or spoken to the people whom he visited, or looked the man into the dust at once : and doubtless
this would have settled the matter on all sides. But Madonna Min noccia was of so kind a disposition, that she could not easily find it in her heart to complain of any body, much less of a man who found such irresistible gentleness in her eyelids. Besides, whatever may be thought of her vanity in this score, she was really so good, and innocent, and modest, that we know not how much it would have taken to con. vince her fully of any one's being really in love with her, or admiring her more than other ladies for qualities which she thought so many of them must have in common. In short, Madonna, though innocent, was not ignorant that gallantry was very common in Sienna. Her husband, who was a very honest sincere-hearted man, had told her that all unmarried young men had their vagaries; and, as for that matter, many very grave-looking married people too; and she thought, that if a husband whom she loved, and whose word she could rely on, set her an example nevertheless of conjugal fidelity, she could not do better than do her duiy quietly and without ostentation, and think of these odd proceedings both as good-naturedly and rarely as possible.
Unfortunately for Galgano, this kind of temper was the worst thing in the world to make him leave off his love. He had habitually got a common notion of gallantry from the light in which it was generally regarded; but his instinct was better. The subtlety of love made him discover what was passing in Minoccia's mind; and as he had the elements of true modesty in him as well as herself, and would want much to be convinced that a woman really loved him, whatever might be his affection for her, or rather in proportion to the sincerity of it, he thought that she only treated him as she would any other young man who had paid her unwelcome attention. But then to see how kind she still was,--to observe no change in her, for all his unwelcomeness, but only such as might be construed into a gentle request to him to forbear, -in short, to meet with a woman who neither shewed a disposition to gallantry, nor resentment against the manifestation of it, nor a coldness that might be construed into natural indifference, all this made him so much in love, that he thought his very being failed him and wanted replenishing, if he was a day without seeing her. He took a lodging opposite Signor Stricca's house; and in order to indulge himself in looking at her without being discovered, filled the window of his room with orange trees. At times, when every thing was still, and the windows were open in the warın summer-time, lie heard her voice speaking to the servants. 66 It is the same kind voice,” said he,
always.” At other times, lre sat watching her through his orangetrees, as she read a book, or worked at her embroidery; and if she left off, and happened to look at them, (which he often moved about with a noise, for that purpose) it seemed to him as if her face was coming again among the leaves. Then he thought it would never come, and that he should never touch it more; and he felt sick with impatience, and said to himself, This is the way these virtuous people are kind, is it?"
It chanced that Signor Stricca took a house at a little distance from Sienna, where his wife, who was fond of a garden, from that time forth always resided. Galgano, who was like a bird with a string tied to his leg, be sure flew after theni. He found a room in a cottage just pitched like his former one. The orange-trees were removed, and he recommenced his enamoured task, fully resolved besides to get intis mate with Signor Stricca, and try what importunity could do in the country. “I think," said Madonna Minoccia, to her maid-servant, looking out of window, “ I can never turn my eyes any where but I see beautiful orange-trees.”—“Ah,” sighed Galgano, "the turning of those eyes! They ought always to light upon what is beautiful." “I could swear," said Madonna, “if my husbaird would let me, that those were the very same oranges which belonged to our invisible neighbour at Sienna, only he must be too old a bachelor to change his quarters." And she began to sing a canzonet that was all over the country:
Arancie, belle arancic,
“ Pienoite come guancie,Here she suddenly stopped, and said “ I am very giddy to day, to sing, such lawless little rhymes; but the skies are so blue, and the leares so green, they make me chaunt like a bird. I can see my husband now with a bird's eye. There he is, Lisetta, coming through the olive-trees. Go and get me my veil, and I'll walk and meet him like a fair unknown.". 66 The invisible neighbour!” thought Galgano:" is this coquetry now, or is it sheer innocence and vivacity! And the song of the oranges ! I'll try however--I'll look at her above the leaves."?
Now the reader must be informed that Galgano himself was the author of this canzonet, both words and music, and was generally known as such. Whether Minoccia knew it, we cannot determine; but Galgano thought that she could hardly have quite forgotten the adventure of the orange-tree, especially as the song was calculated to call it to mind. The whole of the words amounted to this ;
Oh oranges, sweet oranges,
La, la, la la sol fa mi
My lady looked through the orange-ses.
O la, la la sol fa mi
My lady's gone from the orange-tree. Galgano, full of this modest complaint against husbands and of Minoccia's knowledge of it, suddenly raised his head over the orange-pots, and made a very bold yet courteous bow full in Madonna's astonished face. For it was astonished:-ihere was, unfortunately, no doubt of that. She resumed herself hovever with the best grace she could, and staying just long enough to drop one of her kindest though grafost
66 I thank you,"
courtseys, walked slowly from the window.
After that he never saw her there again.
Galgano tried all the points of view about the house, but could only catch an occasional glimpse of her through the garden trees. He could not even meet with Signor Stricca, to whom he meant under some plau. sible pretext to introduce himself. At length however a favourable opportunity occurred. His dog, in scouring hither and thither, had darted into the front gate of the house, and seemed resolved not to be hunted out till he had made the full circuit of the grounds.
My master, Sir," said one of the servants, “ bade me ask
you if you would chuse to walk in and call the dog out yourself?” answered Galgano, who seemed to feel that he could not go in, precisely because he had the best opportunity in the world; “I will whistle him to me over those palings there.” He did so, and the dog presently appeared, followed by Signor Stricca and his household. The animal, in leaping to his master over the palings, hurt his leg; but nothing could induce Galgano to enter the house.
66 Minoccia, my love," cried the host, "why do you not come up, and entreat Signor Galgano to favour our home with his presence ?" The lady was approaching, when Galgano, lapping up the wounded dog in his cloak, hurried off, protesting that he had the rascalliest business in life to attend to, and that he would take the very earliest opportunity of repaying himself for his loss. “There now,” said Stricca, to a little coxcombical looking fellow who was on a holiday visit to him, is one of the most accomplished gentlemen in all Italy, and yet he does not disdain to wrap up his bleeding dog in his silken coat. That," continued he, to his wife, “is Signor Galgano, one of the finest wits in Sienna, and what is better, one of the most generous of men. But you must have seen him before." 6. Yes," replied Madonna, “ but I knew nothing of his generosity." Her husband, like one generous man speaking of another, related twenty different instances in which Galgano had manifested his friendship and liberality in the most delicate manner; so that Minoccia, at last, almost began to feel the kiss in the orange-tree stronger upon her eyelids, than she did when it was stolen.
Galgano soon made his appearance in Signor Stricca's house, and could not but perceive that the lady suffered herself to look kinder at him than when he bowed to her out of the cottage window. He was beginning to congratulate himself, after the fashion of the young galJants among whom he had been brought up; but what perplexed him was the extremely affectionate attention she paid her husband; and his perplexity was not diminished by the very great kindness shewn him by the husband himself. Indeed the kindness of both seemed to go hand in hand; so that our hero, having never yet been taught that a lady to whom a stranger had shewn attention could do any thing but farour him entirely, or laugh at or insult him, was more than ever bewildered between his respect for the husband and increasing passion for the wife.
Galgano, though not in so many words, pressed his suit in a manner that grew warmer every day. Minoccia scemed more and more dis
tressed at it; and yet her kindness appeared to increase lo proportion. At length, oiie_afternoon, as they sat together in a summer-house, Galgano seeing her stoop her face into an orange-tree, was so overcome with the recollection of the first meeting of their faces, that he repeated the kiss, changing it however from the eyelids to the lips; and it struck him that she did not withdraw as quickly as before, nor look by any meaos so calm and indifferent. He accordingly took her hand in order to kiss it with a passionate gratitude, when she laid her other hand upon his, and looking at him with a sort of appealing tenderness in the face, said, “Signor Galgano, I respect you for numberless generous things I have heard of you; and knowing as I do how little what is called gallantry is thought of, I cannot deny but that your present attentions to me and apparent wishes do not hinder me from letting my respect run into a kinder feeling towards you. Perhaps, so sweet to us is flattery from those we regard, they have even more effect upon me than I ought to allow. But, Sir, there are always persons, whether they act justly or unjustly themselves, who do think a great deal of this gallantry, and who, if the case applied to themselves, would be rendered very uncomfortable; and, Signor Galgano, I have one of the very best husbands in the world; and if I shew any weakness towards another unbecoming a grateful wife, I do beseech you, Sir,---and I pay you one of the greatest and most affectionate compliments under heaven,—that rather than do or risk any thing the knowledge of which should pain him, you will help me with all the united strength of your generosity against my very self; otherwise" (here she fell into a blushing passion of tears). “ it may be a hard struggle for me to call to mind what I ought respecting the happiness of others, while you are saying to me things that make me frightfully absorbed in the moment before me."
We leave the reader to guess how Galgano's attention to the appealing part of this speech was divided and hurt by the tenderness it avowed, and the opportunity it seemed to offer him. He passionately kissed the hand of the gentle Minoccia, and she did not hinder him, only she looked another way, drying up her tears; and he thought the turn of her head and neck never looked so lovely.
66 And if it were possible," asked he, “that the opinions of good and generous men could be changed on this subject (not that it would become me to seek to change those of the man I allude to)--but if it were possible, and no bar were in the way of a small share of Minoccia's kindness, might I indeed then hope that she would not withdraw it?" fair, Signor Galgano," said Minoccia, in a low but kind voice, " to ask' me such a question, after the words that have found their way out of my lips ?”_56 And who then was the kindest of men or women, next to yourself, dearest Minoccia,--that told you so many handsome and over-coloured things of your worshipper?" "My husband himself," answered she;" he has long had a regard for your character, and at last he taught me to share it." 6. Did he so !” exclaimed Galgano ;- then by heavens- He broke off a moment, and resumed in a quieter tone: -" You, Madame Minoccia, who have a loring and affectionate heart, and who confess that you have been
66 Is it