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Title: Isabella Orsini - A Historical Novel of the Fifteenth Century
Author: Guerrazzi, Francesco Domenico
Language: English
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ISABELLA ORSINI.


  [Illustration: Engraved by F. Halpin from a pencil Drawing by
  Frasdieri.

  _Isabella Orsini_

  RUDD & CARLETON, NEW YORK.]


ISABELLA ORSINI:

A Historical Novel of the Fifteenth Century.

by

F. D. GUERRAZZI,

Author of "Beatrice Cenci."

TRanslated from the Italian, by Luigi Monti, A.M.,
Instructor in Italian at Harvard University, Cambridge.



  [Illustration]

New York:
Rudd & Carleton, 310 Broadway.
MDCCCLIX.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
Rudd & Carleton,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.

R. Craighead,
Printer, Stereotyper, and Electrotyper,
Caxton Building,
81, 83, and 85 Centre Street.



    TO

    CORNELIUS C. FELTON, LL.D.,

    ELIOT PROFESSOR OF GREEK LITERATURE
    AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY,

    As a mark of gratitude for his kind advice,
    urbanity, and friendship,

    THIS TRANSLATION IS DEDICATED.



CONTENTS.


                                     PAGE

    CHAPTER I.

    Guilt,                             15

    CHAPTER II.

    Love,                              26

    CHAPTER III.

    The Knight Lionardo Salviati,      49

    CHAPTER IV.

    Homicide,                          84

    CHAPTER V.

    Pasquino,                         106

    CHAPTER VI.

    The Son,                          147

    CHAPTER VII.

    Jealousy,                         172

    CHAPTER VIII.

    The Confession,                   206

    CHAPTER IX.

    Death,                            253



LETTER.


    GENOA, June 30th, 1858.

MY DEAR SIR,

In reply to your letter dated May 27th, I send you a portrait of
ISABELLA ORSINI. You could not have been successful in obtaining it
from any one except myself, for notwithstanding the many researches
made for it, I procured it only after great difficulty. I went to
the very palace wherein she was murdered by the wretched hands of
Orsini; I was even on the point of having the coffin wherein she was
buried opened, but several reasons deterred me, the principal one
being that the body, after so long a time, must have become ashes. At
last, while I was in prison, the Marquis * * * died: his heirs (three
Marquises) immediately sold books, pictures, furniture, and every
family relic. Among these, a friend of mine found a bronze medal of
ISABELLA ORSINI, a copy of which I send you. On the reverse of the
medal is a bush with flowers, fruits, and the inscription FLORES.
SIMUL. ET. FRUCTUS.

A photograph of it did not succeed well. I would willingly send you
the medal itself, but fear that it may be lost, and thus the _only_
portrait of that unfortunate woman be for ever destroyed, deters me.
I have, however, caused a drawing to be executed by one of our best
artists, CHEVALIER FRASCHERI, Professor of Painting in the Ligurian
Academy, which I think will please you.

    Yours very affectionately,

    F. D. GUERRAZZI.

    TO SIG. LUIGI MONTI,
    _Boston, Mass._



ISABELLA ORSINI.



CHAPTER I.

GUILT.

    But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground,
    as though he heard them not.

    So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said
    unto them: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast
    a stone at her.' * * * *

    And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin
    no more.

    --ST. JOHN viii.


"AVE MARIA! O being, at whose sight the Eternal One was persuaded to
offer himself as an expiatory victim to the irrevocable justice of
his laws, for the race of which thou wast born; O Virgin! into whose
bosom God penetrated like the purest ray into clear water; O Mother!
who in thy bosom, better than in the Holy Ark, barest Divinity, have
mercy upon me.

"_Ave Maria!_ Queen of Heaven: God has surrounded thee with the most
loving angels that he ever created in the exultation of his glory.
God has chosen from the fields of the firmament the most brilliant
stars to form thy crown; beneath thy feet has he placed the sun
and moon. Christ reposes on thy arm as on a high throne to govern
creation. Thou that canst do all things, have mercy upon me.

"_Ave Maria!_ God shed his own blood in observance of the decrees of
his law. Thou conquerest even those decrees, for when loving appeals
failed, thou didst remove the eternal from thy holy arm, and didst
kneel before him, to win by thy prayers what thy request had failed
to obtain; for what man or God could see his mother prostrate at his
feet and disdainfully spurn her? God is above, not against nature.
Mercy then, oh, have mercy upon me!

"_Ave Maria!_ If thou but turnest one look of kindness upon the
soul of the parricide, lo, it will become as pure as that of the
babe newly baptized. Thou that hast a tear for every sorrow, thou
that from misery hast learned to relieve the unfortunate, thou that
bringest a balm for every wound, good counsel for every fallen one,
help for every fault, protection from every crime, wilt thou be deaf
to me alone?

"Does the contemplation of thy heavenly glories dissuade thee from
casting down thine eyes upon this vale of tears? Have the praises of
the angels caused the groans of thy servants to become wearisome?
Mother of thy Creator, hast thou forgotten thy earthly origin? Is it
in heaven above, as in this world below!

"Ah, unhappy me! Most miserable! My mind reels and staggers like a
drunken man. I am beyond measure inebriated with grief, and my rash
words flow from my mouth like the wind of a tempest.

"Holy Mary, pardon! Thou knowest that even when a child, leaving
my warm bed to bathe my feet in the dewy grass, I went to gather
the flowers that drank the first rays of the morning sun for thee.
Thou knowest that I have watched like a vestal, so that the light
consecrated to thee on the domestic altar should not be extinguished;
and if I committed any act not worthy of thy holy sight, I first
veiled thy face, and afterwards implored thy pardon. In thee alone I
trust.

"My blood is inflamed, and the very marrow of my bones consumed by a
love....

"Who called it love? Did I say love? Ah, in pity let no one know
it--let no one hear it--let my ears not listen to the words from my
own lips! Madness! Ah, what matter if I have hell in my heart? Yes,
an infamous love burns within me; a love to make even the angels
weep. O holy Mary, do not look into my soul! All the saints in
Paradise, even thou, immaculate Virgin! would'st blush for shame to
behold my secret heart.

"And yet this passion burns so secretly, that no one, looking on my
pale face, could say: 'Behold an adulteress!' Who among the living
can tell whether guilt or grief consumes me? As a sepulchral lamp
burns, lighting up human skeletons without diffusing its rays abroad,
so my love lives within my soul, shining upon the miserable relics of
my contaminated virtue.

"But in this fierce battle every vital spark has failed. Already the
hour approaches when the abyss will open, within which will fall
the woman's shame, the husband's honor, family pride, the mother's
love,--all in short, and the soul's safety with them!

"The soul's safety! Everlasting perdition! And should I, hopeless of
overcoming the current, allow myself to be subdued by the waters?
Should I, with a soul borne down by grief, dare to fly from the sad
prison of the body? Should I, unsummoned, give wings to my life, and
take shelter under the cloak of God's pardon? Will the arms of God
open to receive or to repulse me? And am I not indeed wholly wicked?
O God, dost thou not penetrate into our hearts, and see how sin has
corroded them? In this bitter contest I defend that part of me which
will turn to dust; the other, which has immortal life, is forever
lost. Whether I remain or fly, whether I give up or resist, Isabella,
thou art lost--lost forever!

"Where or who is he that has decreed this most wicked law? If I
cannot break, I can at least rail at this iron decree. Have I not
struggled, and struggled incessantly? Where is my guilt, if I cannot
overcome? In what have I sinned, if a serpent while I slept has
crept into my heart, has made there its nest, and has there revealed
itself more fearful than the Medusa's head? How have I sinned, if
my strength is insufficient to bear this cross? The fallen should
not be laughed at nor condemned, but aided. Well, since the guilt
contemplated is equal to the guilt consummated, and both incur the
same punishment, let me descend wholly into the abyss of crime and
die."

These and other words were partly spoken, partly murmured by a young
and handsome woman, before a painting of the Madonna, the divine
work of Fra Angelico. And this face, symbol of celestial modesty and
chaste thoughts, seemed as if frightened at such prayers, for, less
even by the words than by the manner in which they were spoken, they
seemed almost impious. The woman was not in a reverential posture,
but standing erect, with haughty aspect, her eyes sparkling, her
breast heaving, her lips trembling, her nostrils dilated, her hands
clenched, her feet restless--in short, a lioness rather than a woman,
much less a suppliant woman.

Was she right?

The Greeks, investigating diligently the nature of our hearts,
discovered vice to be so inherent in human beings, that neither
strength united with will, nor laws, nor customs, nor religion
itself, could overcome it; but with that wonderful talent which the
heavens granted to them alone, they rendered vice amiable, and made
it contribute to the good of the republic. Instead of awaiting what
they could not prevent, they went to meet it, like Mithridates,
who, having to drink poison, took away its power of doing him harm,
by habituating himself to its use. They dared even more; they made
the gods the accomplices of the errors of men; powerless to raise
their dust to heaven, they brought heaven down to the dust, and the
guilty became objects, not of hate but of compassion, for they had
yielded to the omnipotent power of fate, to which even Jupiter was
subject--fate which guides the willing and drags the reluctant.

This idea, extended to every action, they applied especially to the
affairs of love. Anacreon, whose hair, so often crowned with leaves
of the merry ivy and vine, was becoming grey, was seated one gloomy
winter's night alone before the fire. Boreas raged over land and
sea, and a hurricane of hailstones rattled upon the poet's house. He
remembers no more the rays which the sun of spring sheds upon the
flowers and the tresses of lovely women; nor the soft grass scarcely
pressed by the flying feet of the dancers, nor the breezes pregnant
with life, that seem to murmur in his ears, "love--love;" his
thoughts turn upon the transitory nature of our lives here below; he
sees life rolling on more swiftly than the wheels of the conqueror's
car in the Olympic games, our days dissolving more speedily than the
shadow on the wall; the roses of his fancy withered at the thought
of death. Suddenly a knock is heard at the poet's door, accompanied
by a tearful voice. How can the poet help feeling pity, since pity
is one of the most harmonious chords of his heavenly lyre? Anacreon
opens the door, and a child appears, wet with the rain and pale
with sorrow: poor child! his fine hair hangs dripping round his
cheeks, his lips are livid, his limbs stiffened with cold. "What evil
fortune, my pretty child, forces thee to wander on such a night,
sacred to the infernal deities?" And without awaiting a reply, he
presses the ice from his hair, removes his dress, dries him, and
revives him by the heat of the fire; nor is that enough, he puts the
child's hands into his own breast to warm them gently with the mild
heat of his own blood. When the color returns to his lip, and the
tremulous light to his eyes, the child smilingly says: "Now let me
see if the rain has spoiled my bow;" and fitting an arrow, he draws
the string. Anacreon is suddenly wounded, before he can perceive
that Love, mocking, has left his house. It was the vengeance of
Apollo which caused Myrrha to burn with unholy passion for Cinyras;
of Venus, which caused the love of Pasiphaë for the bull; of Phædra
for Hippolytus; and the will of Juno and Minerva which caused the
cruel affection of Medea for Jason. Few or no crimes were committed
which were not attributed to the influence of some god; and in this
way, tragedians, availing themselves of the universal faith in fate,
represented upon the stage the horrible deeds that under different
aspects would not have been tolerated. And there certainly lives, or
rather there sometimes seems to live in us, something more powerful
than ourselves; nor does our belief, generally so different from the
doctrine of the ancients, entirely oppose it. Do we not believe
that our first mother was tempted by the serpent? And since that
time, the ears of women have been readily open to the flatteries of
the tempter. Perhaps the tempter does not stand without, but within
the woman, and dwells in her pure blood, in the fine texture of her
veins, in the pores of her delicate skin, in her imaginative brain,
and in her more imaginative heart: and when thus, the tempter appears
strongest and most inevitable. But do women alone yield to the
persuasions of a devil, that comes tempting them, now with hate, now
with pleasure, now with love, now with the abundance of wealth, and
(for we will not stop to enumerate them all) with as many passions
as are powerful to stir the human heart? Alas! with few is there
fortitude enough to withstand pleasure and gold, the most cruel of
all the tyrants of our souls. Renowned heroes of ancient and modern
history, men august and venerated, while life lasted, either resisted
such passions, or too often yielded to them; and if repentance was
raised to the dignity of a sacrament among us, it seems the most
evident proof that God himself never expected that we should keep
ourselves innocent; no, he did not expect it, since he commanded
Simon Peter to forgive, not only seven times, but even seventy times
seven.--Poor Isabella! Let him who is without sin first cast a stone
at her....

Was she wrong?

The first draught never intoxicates, and whoever wishes, can put down
the cup and say, "Enough!" For that Love, hardly born, shaking his
head and his great bow, enthrones himself king of the spirit, and
cries, "I will it, and I wish to reign alone,"--so sing the fanciful
poets,--but this is not the truth. Love every moment makes his wings
of sweet thoughts and ardent desires, and his darts grow harder, as
the heart at which he aims becomes softened. Delia did not become
blind merely by once looking at the sun; and whosoever wishes to
escape the Sirens must imitate the example of Ulysses, and stop his
ears with wax. We trust too much or too little to ourselves. When
the flame of a glance, or the allurement of a voice fascinates us,
and Providence with an innate conscience admonishes us, we take no
heed of the warning, but say: "Not even this love shall trespass;
when it would go beyond bounds, we shall be sufficient for the
defence." When afterwards we feel it conquering, we defer the remedy
from day to day; at last, overcome, we accuse the destiny which we
have woven with our own hands. Thus, having the power, the will
fails, and having the will, the power fails. We are caught in our
own nets. Among the laws of fate, man can be subjected to those that
are outside; the others that are within him have no power; the body
can be subdued, not the soul. And if God gives us a mind able to use
its power even against His immortal throne, why or how can we accuse
Him, if, like cowards, we throw down the shield at the beginning of
the battle, or if we refuse to use the sword which He has put into
our hands? Querulous and unjust atoms, we wish the Creator to break
through the eternal order of things, and to bend down every moment
from the heavens to repair our faults, and to quiet the tempest of
the heart which we have excited. He, the Creator, who whirls through
infinite space the fragments of shattered orbs, and wakes in its
dreadful sublimity the tempest of the ocean! Even guilt knows a
kind of dignity; let us dare to possess it. Lucifer, exiled from
celestial thrones, accused no one, nor did he reproach himself with
his want of success; and Lucifer, in his dark grandeur, appears such,
that although we cannot wish him a better destiny, yet we cannot
abstain from cursing the ill-omened moment in which he drew down upon
his head the wrath of God. But we are far inferior either in good or
evil to angelic natures. In order to persuade ourselves that we are
worth something, we presume to do ourselves the honor of believing
that Satan has tempted us. If Satan could turn upon us his fiery
glances, he would not tempt, but laugh at us. Can there be a worse
tempter than our own evil inclinations, and the full power of our
will in nursing and fostering them? I certainly do not wish to take
away or to diminish the compassion of men, or the mercy of God for
the poor soul of Isabella, but only to prove that the miserable death
to which she was brought was the just recompense of her merits, or
rather her demerits.

While Isabella was uttering the strange prayer which is partly given
above, a knight of haughty aspect and bold presence advanced from the
other end of the hall, and stood listening to her words; then softly
approaching, said, "Isabella!"

The woman started at this sudden voice, her face grew paler, her
lips moved without making a sound, her heavy eyelids fell, whilst
the swelling of the veins produced a dark shade around her eyes. She
would have fallen had not the knight hastened to support her. After a
short silence he spoke:

"Isabella, you have something on your heart which you desire to
conceal from me. Why is this, Isabella? Am I then so poor a friend
that you do not deem me worthy to share your innocent secrets? Or do
you believe me so eager for my own happiness, that I know not how
to prefer, although with intense anguish, your peace and wishes to
my own? Speak: I am ready to do anything for your love--give me but
a word. Ah, miserable me! What need is there, Isabella, for you to
speak? I have heard too much. Do you not believe in my courage? Let
me prove it to you. You pray for my death, and I can, yes, I will
unite my petition to yours; I will recall to my lips the sweetest
prayer that my mother ever taught me. Isabella, kneel; I, you see, am
kneeling."

And she, hardly knowing what she did, knelt; and both prayed.

These were no pure and peaceful prayers, such as ascend to Heaven
like incense from innocent hearts, which the angels love to bear on
their shining wings to the throne of the Eternal, received by God as
celestial guests, and consoled, as if they were the troubled sons of
His love. These prayers mounted from panting bosoms, disconnected and
hurried, like delirious thrills of pleasure; they were wafted through
the air, thick, like clouds arising from dark earthly sources; nor
did they reach the threshold of Heaven, but fell repulsed, like
the smoke from the offering of the first murderer, to increase the
passion of the guilty ones.

It was right; for these prayers did not come sincerely from the
heart, for he who offered them feared lest they might be heard,
and scarcely were they spoken, ere he would have wished to revoke
them. Oh, mortal mind, how unstable in the desire of good! Then the
glowing cheeks touched, the convulsed hands sought and clasped each
other, and the prayers ended in oaths to love each other for ever, in
spite of sacred bonds, of family honor, of death, or hell. Indeed,
so regardless of them were they, that they called as a witness to
the wicked vow, our divine Mother, to whom they had intended to
pray for safety; and the Mother of Mercy did not turn aside her
face, convinced that if their prayers were then false, in the day of
repentance she must listen, when they would be only too sincere.

Meanwhile justice registered the guilt in that book, where nothing is
cancelled, except by blood.



CHAPTER II.

LOVE.

    E bevea da' suoi lumi
    Un' estranea dolcezza,
    Che lasciava nel fine
    Un non so che di amaro.
    Sospirava sovente, e non sapeva
    La cagion dei sospiri.
    Così fui prima amante, che intendessi
    Che cosa fosse amore:
    Ben me ne accorsi alfin....

    TASSO.

    And from his eyes I drank
      A sweetness strange and new,
    But in the end, alas! I found
      That draught was bitter too.
    I sighed, and knew not why;--
      I loved, and knew it not:--
    But ah! too soon that knowledge came
      By sad experience brought....


Sir Anton Francesco Torelli was of one of the best families of the
territory of Fermo;--endowed with the gifts of fortune, honored by
his relations, respected by strangers, blessed with a lovely wife,
and a son, in whom centred all the hopes of his declining years.

Happy would he have been if he had believed what is only too true,
that the best instruction that children can receive, must be derived
from the good examples of their parents: happy, if he had never
sent from his home, his dear son Lelio! for his last steps towards
the tomb would not have been embittered by sorrow. But, complying
with the fashion of the times, he desired his son to be skilled in
chivalric exercises, and the father's heart exulted in the hope
that the noble ladies of Fermo might salute his son as the most
accomplished and courteous nobleman of the land. With this idea, Sir
Anton Francesco, having himself served a long time with the Cardinal
dei Medici in Rome, thought he might easily instal his son Lelio as
page in the court of the Grand Duke Cosimo. But Cosimo having died
prematurely, worn out by the excessive love of pleasure, Lelio,
a youth of elegant manners and fine figure, so pleased the Lady
Isabella, Duchess of Bracciano, and daughter of Cosimo, that she
obtained the handsome page for her own service.

In those times, noblemen serving at court, were required to learn the
skilful management of all knightly weapons, to fight with the sword
and dagger, and even to defend themselves unarmed from unexpected
attacks with the stiletto or poniard; and there were some excellent
books written about this art, which served also as a model to other
nations. Nor did they neglect the practice of fire-arms, although
that was not esteemed so noble an accomplishment; the management of
horses they deemed indispensable, either in racing, tilting, or (more
difficult still) curvetting before the ladies, then nice judges of
such arts. Next in importance came dexterity in field-sports, among
which stood foremost that of hawking, now fallen into disuse, or only
kept up in Holland. To tell the truth, the knights made a show of
admiring belles-lettres, but not the severer productions of the pen,
nor those which spring new and vivid from the imagination warmed by
the heart, but rather those arranged according to accepted formulas,
and mutilated _in usum Delphini_; which composed the delights of the
courtiers whom experience or fear had taught to touch carefully such
dangerous matters. Justice, however, forbids us to let pass unnoticed
some writer, who, kindled by the last panting breath of the Republic,
dared to write, if not powerfully, at least conscientiously; but
the last breath soon expires, the writer became silent, and bowed
his head to fate. There were others, who wrote the truth, but dared
not publish it, as if they had wished to constitute their remote
descendants the heirs of their revenge; and, as it seems, the
descendants opened the will, but reading what the inheritance was,
thought best to refuse the legacy. The arts and sciences, however,
were better received, particularly chemistry, for the purpose of
making poisons, of which the men of those times, and the Medicis in
particular, became very skilful manufacturers, and by what we read
about it, we see that modern researches fall far short of ancient
toxicology. Michael Angelo, immortal monument of human dignity, and
eternal witness to the truth, that man was created in the image of
God, when he no longer had a country, consecrated himself entirely to
Heaven, and was replaced by Benvenuto Cellini, a man of great genius,
but wholly without heart, who wasted his talents in working girdles,
jewels, vases, plates, and similar superfluities of luxury; so that
when he undertook the statue of Perseus, he was no longer able to
raise to lofty conceptions his mind so long accustomed to female
ornaments, whereupon Alfonzo dei Pazzi stung him with the bitter
epigram:--

    "With the trunk of a giant, the limbs of a lady,
    I rate your fair Perseus at one maravedi."[1]

  [1]

    Corpo gigante, e gambe di fanciulla
    Ha il nuovo Perseo: sicchè tutto insieme
    Ti può bello parer, ma non val nulla.

But to return to Lelio Torelli; he had succeeded wonderfully
in all the exercises that require strength and suppleness of
limb. As to that discipline which is requisite to enlighten
the intellect, either he had not given his mind to it, or
had not been able to attain it; nor did he take pleasure in
music, singing, or dancing; his glances rested upon a group of
pretty women with less interest than upon a bunch of roses, and
infinitely less than that with which he hunted the wild boar over
hill and dale. No one more ready than he to leap with one bound
into the saddle; no one more unerring in hurling a dart or firing
a shot; and not to describe too minutely, he not only easily
surpassed in prowess all his companions, but scarcely could there
be found among the elder knights one to excel him.

Therefore he was more eager for affrays and disputes than
was becoming in a noble youth, thus exhibiting a fierceness
of disposition; and whenever by superior force or adroitness
he overcame his opponent, deaf to the gentle tones of pity
or pardon, he was not easily restrained from striking, until
weariness or the interposition of bystanders arrested his hand.
Then rancor took possession of him; and woe if he should one day
have a chance to give vent to the vengeance treasured up in the
depths of his soul! His enemies would certainly have done well to
put, as the saying goes, the extreme unction in their pockets.
As to the rest of his character, he was as strong in love as in
hate, and always foremost in exposing himself to danger, even
desiring to meet it alone, so that his friends had to restrain
him. This he did neither to win praise nor to excite gratitude,
for he despised and even spurned both, but through a natural
generosity and even a certain feeling of superiority over his
companions, and this superiority it was easier for them to envy
than to counteract. Feared rather than loved, respected rather
than followed, he seemed most worthy of authority.

It one day happened that Lady Isabella having summoned him in
great haste, he had scarcely time to free himself from the hands
of his antagonist, and appeared before her stained with blood.
The noble lady seeing him in this condition, exclaimed in an
angry voice:

"Go from my sight, you make me shudder!"

From that day, Lelio seemed no longer the same; instead of
wreaking vengeance on any one who taunted him, as he would once
have done, he now bit his lips, colored to the very roots of his
hair, checked himself by violent effort, and met the sarcasm
with a pleasant smile. He was more orderly in his person than
before, and paid more attention to his luxuriant fair hair, and
the neatness of his dress; but his once florid complexion had
now become pale, his air pensive, his blue eyes sunken. And this
was not all. Lelio would often stand apart from his companions,
sad and silent, looking either at a flower, a falcon circling
through the air, or a little cloud that undulated through the
blue ether as if the loving zephyrs were contending for it; but
he was oftenest to be seen in the evening, upon the brow of a
hill, with both hands clasped upon his knees, gazing intently
at the setting sun, and the gold, purple, and rich colors of
mother-of-pearl, and the rainbow hues with which the glorious
Father of Life surrounds his temporary tomb. He scarcely heeded
his Spanish jennet, which strove in vain to rouse his inert
master with his neighs; vainly, too, did his greyhound run before
him, crouch for an instant, turn back to him, fly on again, bark,
gaze, lick his hands and leap upon him; Lelio by voice and signs
would gently endeavor to quiet him, so that the poor animal,
seeing all his attempts useless, with drooping ears and tail
would quietly crouch at his master's feet; nor did his weapons
meet with any better fate, although sometimes he would seize them
as if moved by a sudden impulse, and would exercise so violently
with them as to bathe himself in perspiration, and exhaust his
strength for several days.

Lady Isabella possessed a little volume of Petrarch's poems
which always accompanied her in her solitary walks; this book
disappeared, for Lelio had appropriated it to himself and was
never tired of reading in it.

How had the youth become so changed? One day while absorbed
in this book, and straying at random through the woody paths
of Cerreto, some laughing country girls waited for him at the
extremity of one of the walks, hidden behind some oaks, and
threw handfuls of violets in his face, saying in jesting tones;
"Such eyes were not made to be dimmed by poring over books, but
to laugh and make love." And a gay old farmer, who passed by
carrying upon his head a basket of grapes, laughing still louder,
cried: "Ah, indeed! you do not know much about it; do you not see
how dead in love he is? The end of the world must be coming, if
our young girls do not know what love is."

And when, on calm evenings, the windows of the hall being open,
the Lady Isabella poured forth a flood of harmony through the
dark air, singing and playing songs and melodies, perhaps already
composed, or, abandoning herself to the inspiration that moved
her, improvising the verses and setting them to music; Lelio
would stand motionless, leaning against a tree or the pedestal of
a statue in the garden, inhaling a fatal enchantment, rendered
more intoxicating by the atmosphere, the hour, the odorous
emanations which the dewy herbs and flowers sent forth, and the
sweet light which fell from the starry heavens; and when the
windows were closed, the lamps lighted, and all animate creation
resigned itself to that repose to which nature invites it, this
solitary youth was still so absorbed in ecstasy, that he alone
remained forgetful of everything, standing in the same place,
until the first rays of the rising sun shining in his eyes
recalled him to the accustomed duties of life.

Before continuing the recital of this love, I must explain what I
have alluded to above. I wish to have it understood that I have
made use of no poet's license, but that it is an historical fact,
that Isabella, Duchess of Bracciano, was not only an authoress, a
poetess, and a composer, but also an _improvisatrice_. Nor was
this the only talent of this celebrated woman, for besides her
native tongue, she spoke and wrote fluently in Latin, French, and
Spanish; in the art of drawing she rivalled the most celebrated
masters, and in every accomplishment that belonged to her high
station, and in every lady-like elegance and refinement, she
was so perfect as to be rightly esteemed rather wonderful than
rare. All the chronicles which I have seen, which speak of this
unfortunate Princess, agree in using the following words: "It
is sufficient to say that she was esteemed by all, both far and
near, as a perfect ark of learning and science, and the people
loved her for those great qualities, and her father felt for her
a most passionate tenderness." Blessed might she have been, could
she have used such rich gifts of nature and high cultivation to
render her life happy and her memory immortal!

Lelio, whenever it was possible, would enter the room of the
Lady Isabella, and there, sure that he was unobserved, would
take the instrument over which the fingers of his mistress had
swiftly flown, and would kiss it madly, press it to his heart and
brow, and bathe it with tears; and if he could find some paper
upon which the Lady Isabella had been writing, he would read the
lines over and over again, and try to compose some himself; but
although his soul overflowed with poetry, the power adequately
to express such overwhelming emotion was wanting; nor, perhaps,
could even long study have enabled him to do justice to it. He
would then be enraged with himself, rave, and finally end by
blotting out with his tears what he had written with the ink. At
last even this comfort, if we may call it one, was denied him.
The Lady Isabella finding her spotless papers soiled, and being
unable to discover the culprit, from that time forward carefully
removed them.

But in truth, except for this waste of paper, Lady Isabella could
not wish for a more assiduous and diligent page than Lelio. By
the expression of her face, so much had he gazed upon it, he
had learned to read the inmost secrets of her soul, nor did
he need any further indication of her wishes to execute them.
This assiduity increased to such a degree as to be somewhat
troublesome, especially when Lady Isabella was conversing with
Sir Troilo--for then he would invent a thousand excuses to enter
unsummoned into her room, or not to leave it when there. As it
rarely happens that two beings who hate, or wish to injure each
other, however much they may endeavor to conceal their feelings,
do not by some means or other finally reveal them, so the glances
of Troilo and Lelio met, clashing like two enemies' swords, and
the more Troilo persisted in looking sternly at Lelio, to make
him, either through respect or fear, cast down his eyes, the more
steadily would Lelio fix them upon him with an indescribable
expression of rage. The few words which they exchanged always
contained some biting sarcasm; bitter were the tones of their
voices; bitter their actions, their bearing, their gestures.

Lelio, one day stealing, according to his custom, into Lady
Isabella's room, took her lute in his hand, and making a pretence
of playing it, began to sing a ballad that was a favorite of
his mistress. He did not attempt to pour forth the full power
of his clear voice, withheld by respect for the place, and
because, ignorant of music, he had learned the song by ear only,
repeating it who knows how many times; but growing excited by
degrees, he yielded to the impulse that prompted him, and rarely
or never had those halls resounded with the echoes of so rich
a melody. Lady Isabella drew near unobserved, and touched by
so much harmony, approached him gently, and when Lelio ceased
singing, she placed her hand upon his head, and patting it
playfully, said--

"Who taught you this, my fine boy?"

"Love--a very great love that I have for music."

"And you should follow the dictates of this love, since the
cultivation of the fine arts ennobles the intellect and softens
the heart."

And as the Duchess still kept her hand upon his head, Lelio, in
an imploring voice, said to her--

"My Lady, for heaven's sake I beseech you to take your hand from
my head."

"Should I not put it there?" asked the Duchess in tones slightly
resentful, and withdrawing it quickly.

"Oh! my Lady, pity me, it burns my brain."

"I do not see why my hand should perform the office of the tunic
of Nessus."

"I do not know, but I feel it." And the boy uttered these words
in so tremulous and mournful a voice, that the Duchess put her
hand to his forehead and exclaimed in a frightened tone--

"_Dio mio!_ how it burns! Poor Lelio! I fear you are ill. Ah! you
are fainting, and there is no one here to help him. Lelio! Lelio!
Ah! he will die in my arms. Holy Virgin, help him!"

Lelio, his face as white as a waxen image, bathed in a cold
perspiration, closed his eyes and leaned his head upon Lady
Isabella's bosom, while she supported him with both arms.
Recovering himself presently, he opened his eyes with a sigh,
perceived where he was, and remembering how it had happened, and
the reason of his fainting, he said sadly,

"I thought that I was dying. Oh, why did I not really die?"

The Duchess took some scented spirits and bathed his temples with
it, although the youth tried respectfully to prevent her.

"Let me, let me," said the Duchess. "I will be a mother to you.
I might already be so in age--almost--and in affection. You have
a claim upon my tenderness, for your own mother is far distant,
and cannot help you, poor child. But what follies are these?
Whence comes this despair? Speak to me; open your whole heart to
me. I have seen you change countenance, have seen your inward
struggles; and I have observed how your arm trembles when you
assist me to mount my horse. Are you in love? Thoughtless boy,
you should not hide it from me! For I too have known love's
trials, and know also how to pity them. You, so noble, cannot
have placed your affections on an unworthy object; and if upon
one above you, there is no inequality which love cannot level;
and you, by your high birth, your wealth, and more than all by
your goodness, are deserving of an illustrious connexion. If I
have any influence, I promise to exert it all to see you happy."

Meanwhile Lelio had regained his former composure; he even, all
sorrow laid aside, appeared smiling, and his cheeks were rosy
with the hue of youth, the springtime of life.

"Oh, indeed," he replied with feigned bashfulness, "do children
know anything about such things? Are such the thoughts of
eighteen years? What is love? Is it a fruit, a sword, or a
falcon? I have always heard it said that youths grow thin, but
that afterwards they become more vigorous than before. My lady,
I feel so happy, so joyful, that I can ask for nothing more; and
offering you passionately all the gratitude in my power for your
pity, I entreat you to continue the maternal kindness which you
have promised me, giving you my word of honor, that I, for my
part, will ever strive to deserve it."

"I will do so, Lelio," said the Lady Isabella, adding, almost in
spite of herself, "for I need, more than you can believe, people
to love me truly. I, you see, Lelio, am miserable, miserable
enough, for no one on this earth loves me. My father loved me
dearly, but he has left me. O my father, why did you leave me
alone--without a guide--abandoned by all?" While she was thus
speaking, Lelio knelt on the ground, and kissing the hem of her
dress, uttered these words:

"I make a sacred vow to be yours till death."

The Duchess, who through necessity and custom had learned to
control her emotions, perceiving that she had gone further than
she had intended, said, in order to distract her own thoughts and
Lelio's from these events.

"Rise, Lelio, I do not wish the gift of voice which I have
discovered in you to be lost: I do not want you to sing by ear,
and am ready to teach you music. If you continue to improve as
rapidly as you have begun, it will not be long before you will
have no equal in the court of my illustrious brother Francesco.
Let us take the music of the song that you were singing just
now; I will show you the notes, and the places where the voice
must be elevated and lowered. Signor Giulio Caccini, a Roman
musician, composed it expressly for me. The melody is soft and
sweet."

"If I had known before, honored lady, whose composition it was,
I should have taken care not to learn it by heart, much less to
sing it."

"Why so, Lelio? Have you unfriendly feelings towards Signor
Giulio?"

"I have never exchanged a word with him; but his face has such a
bad expression; he looks to me as if he had the whole sect of the
Pharisees in his heart."

"It seems just the contrary to me. He is gracious and kind to
all, speaks gently, and smiles sweetly. I could confess----"

"And I regard him as the most consummate traitor that has ever
been since Judas. Mark but his smile; it does not seem to be his
own; I believe he begged it from some second-hand dealer. In his
small velvety hands, do you not see the cat's paw in which the
claws are sheathed? He preaches charity and neighborly love to
all, it is true, but he does it for his own sake; for he does not
find it for his interest to encourage people to scrutinize too
closely, and to discover by rigid examination the characters of
others."

Lady Isabella said, smilingly, "Beware, Lelio; judge not, that
you be not judged."

"Those are holy words, that must be understood literally, since
otherwise it would be necessary to renounce both experience and
life. And, therefore, I may judge, since I do not fear to be
judged."

Lelio was right, and a deed of blood is proof of it.

The chronicles relate that Captain degli Antinori having to carry
to Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Piero dei Medici, a love-letter
from the knight Antonio, his brother, then imprisoned on account
of that very love at Porto Ferrai, took advantage of the
opportunity of Don Piero's going out with his retinue, entered
quickly the Palazzo Vecchio, went up to the apartments of the
Lady Eleonora, who then occupied the frescoed rooms that look
out upon the Piazza del Grano, and immediately asked an audience
of the porter; but he had absolute orders not to let a single
person pass, for his lady was dressing. In vain did the Captain
insist that his business was most urgent--that those orders were
not to be regarded--that he should let him pass, or at least
apprise the lady of his presence. The porter, born and educated
at Innspruck, would not listen to his arguments; his lady had
given orders that for an hour he should give ingress to no one,
and until the sixty minutes were expired, no one should pass.
There was no remedy; the Captain began to walk up and down the
antechamber in a passion, but soon becoming weary of oscillating
backwards and forwards like the pendulum of a clock, he saw that
the amiable Caccini was also waiting for an audience. Exchanging
a few words of courtesy with him, and finding him apparently all
kindness, particularly towards the Lady Eleonora, whom, with an
air of tenderness, and with eyes full of tears, he called his
adored and virtuous patron, he incautiously intrusted him with
the letter, begging him, for the love of Heaven, to take care
and let no one see it, and to give it with his own hands to the
Lady Eleonora. Scarcely had the Captain turned his back, when
the musician concealed himself in the embrasure of a window, and
treacherously opening the letter, learned from it the truth of
what was generally suspected--that is to say, the intrigue of
the knight with the Princess; wherefore, in the hope of a great
reward, he went directly to the Grand Duke, and first, humbly
craving pardon for having opened the letter, excusing himself by
affirming that he had done so out of the great love he bore to
the dignity of his gracious and noble lord and master, he placed
it in his hands. The Grand Duke changed countenance while reading
it, but having finished, with apparent tranquillity, he refolded
it leisurely, and putting it into his bosom, said, in a serious
voice, as was his custom--for rumor says he spoke briefly:

"Musician, I see here four guilty persons--the knight Antinori,
who wrote this letter, Captain Antinori, who brought it,
Eleonora, who was to receive it, and you, who opened it; go--each
one shall be rewarded according to his deserts."

Isabella, a woman of singular excellence of disposition,
rendered, by the unfortunate circumstances of her life, unhappy,
but not suspicious, added quickly:

"Any one who loves me, must dismiss such wrong and unreasonable
prejudices; in my opinion they are unworthy and unjust, and
generally give evidence of an ill-natured disposition. All have
the right of being judged according to their works. Be careful,
my dear Lelio, always to have a clear conscience, and life will
seem less burdensome to you than to the other children of Adam.
Come, now, and learn the song of this brave Roman. How can you
believe that a man capable of composing so sweet a melody, could
have a bad heart?"

Thus does man judge!

The Duchess, taking the sheet of music in her hand, commanded
Lelio, who obeyed not unwillingly, to sit by her side, and began
to teach him where the voice should rest, and how and where it
should glide at length, or quaver in melodious trills; in short,
all the tastes of an accomplished musician. But Lelio paid more
attention to the white hands than to the notes, and still more
to the lovely face that grew animated over the music; wrapt in a
kind of ecstasy, he not only ceased accompanying Lady Isabella,
but could hardly draw his breath. Lady Isabella said:--"But keep
on." And he, uttering with difficulty a faint note, was silent
the next moment. The Lady Isabella, again, "Why do you stop?" And
thus alternated reproofs and silence. Lelio, prompted by love,
drew nearer to the Duchess; hence, it so chanced that some of her
raven ringlets, stirred by the motion of her head, touched his
cheek; the boy trembled in every limb, his eyes, suffused with
tears, shone with a wild light, his dry lips burned; it seemed
joy, but it was really pain. The cheek touched by the hair became
red, as if burning metal had been applied to it, and the page
could scarcely bear the keen and tremulous passion that agitated
him; but recovering himself, he would again return to the trial,
as we see the moth, led by fatal instinct, flutter round the
flame that consumes him. Thus, not heeding the minutes that sped,
the personages of our history remained a long time, until the
Duchess, casually raising her eyes, saw standing before her Sir
Troilo Orsini.

Troilo of the pallid brow! His eyes sparkled beneath his black
and bushy eyebrows like the jackal's, eager for prey. He held
his right hand within his black velvet mantle; his left hand, on
his side, was holding his hat ornamented with black plumes; and
so motionless was he, that one might have believed him a statue.
Isabella encountered his malignant gaze without the slightest
embarrassment, and paying no attention to it, said frankly:

"Welcome, Sir Troilo, and share my happiness, for I have
discovered a new virtue in my page; he sings like an angel, and
I intend to cultivate his voice till he is perfect; then, when
he returns home, it will please his mother, and he will be the
favorite of the ladies of Fermo."

Sir Troilo replied:

"You would repeat the injustice of Americus Vespucius, since
I discovered before you did, that this youth, with proper
instruction, might become a wonderful musician."

Lelio felt the keen satire, and his face burned, but he was
silent.

"Your Ladyship," continued Sir Troilo, "I must now speak to you
of something more important; please to listen to me.--Page, take
these, and put them in my room, and be careful not to come back
again until you are called."

"Save your honor, Sir Troilo, I am here in the service of her
Ladyship the Duchess; and unless she be pleased to command
otherwise, I beg of you to take it in courtesy, if I do not go."

This time it was Troilo who colored; and already some cutting
reply quivered on his lip, when the Lady Isabella hastily
interposed, saying:

"Lelio, obey Sir Troilo."

Lelio took the sword, gloves, and hat, and bowing low, walked
slowly towards the door.

"Page!" cried Orsini after him, "carry my sword with both hands;
it is heavy, and you may drop it."

Lelio drew the gleaming sword like lightning from its scabbard,
and brandishing it swiftly around his head, replied with a bold
voice, and without stopping:

"Never fear, Sir Troilo, for my heart and hand are strong enough
to wield it as a gentleman against any honorable knight. You
understand; against any knight."

If he added any other words, they were not heard, as he was so
distant.

"See," said Sir Troilo, spitefully, closing the door of the hall,
"see how your indiscreet mildness raises around you a troop of
insolent fellows."

"I have not observed any insolent ones, although I have an
ungrateful one, Sir Troilo."

And, seated side by side, they began to converse in low, but
excited tones, and, to judge by their gestures and manner,
it could be neither pleasure, kindness, nor any other tender
feeling, that influenced this conversation, but reproofs,
suspicions, and fears; the Omnipotent having ordained, in
His eternal decrees, that man, for his sins, should never be
perfectly happy.

Now my readers, especially my lady readers, must understand
that three full years had elapsed since the day that Isabella
and Troilo had sworn the eternity of an affection that never
should have commenced; and three years is a long eternity in
love affairs. Eternity! Fancy a word so unsuitable to the lips
of man, still less to those of woman. Love engagements usually
begin on two sides and end on one. It is the best plan, though
one but rarely put into execution, to annul them at a fixed
time by mutual consent. Contracts of love have not the same
advantages as those of business. In the latter, before making
such a contract, the person interested wishes to understand
the exchanges, the purchases, the location, and the like, and
the advantages accruing to him in the value, the expenses, and
the accessories, like one accustomed to be mindful of his own
interests in such affairs; but in the former he bargains and
binds himself blindfold, awaiting the consummation before he
reckons and judges how much he has gained by it. And this sad day
of reckoning had come and passed for Isabella and Troilo, and by
this time who knows how often they had summed it up! The truth
of this history obliges us to confess that the lady had found
herself at a great disadvantage, which fact contributed in no
small degree to alienate the lovers. Indeed Isabella possessed
an ardent love for true art, and for the pleasures of science;
an apt and happy talent, and a very great enthusiasm; great
kindness of disposition, sympathetic feelings, noble manners,
lady-like elegance, and a courtesy truly regal. The sentiment of
love remains. I cannot say that the power of loving was wanting
in her, for it would not be true; but she was deceived, believing
that that was an unconquerable necessity of the heart, which was
merely an impulse of the imagination; and as there is nothing
more ethereal than the fancy, or more ready to evaporate, she
often not only wondered, but was terrified, to find herself cold
towards persons and things for whom and which she had shortly
before felt an ardent fondness. Happy would it have been for
her if nature or art had balanced more equally her heart and her
brain. Grave masters and solemn teachings had not been wanting;
but if, when obliged to choose between severe precepts and easy
ones, between strict teachings and mild ones, the second seem
the pleasanter to follow, it need not be asked why they obtain
the preference. In her father's house she was surrounded by the
worst examples, and alas! miserable girl! they punished in her,
the most innocent of them all, the crimes or consequences of
crimes, of which her brothers should more justly have borne the
penalties. Indeed, the various chronicles that I have examined
concur in the same judgment, expressed in the following manner
by one of them:--"Every one said that a remedy should have been
adopted before Prince Francesco and her other brothers had made
use of her to draw to their wishes other ladies of the city,
carrying her out with them every night dressed as a man, and then
pretending that she should remain a saint." Isabella, moreover,
possessed, or better to express it, was possessed by what is
called a poetic temperament--a warm heart in the power of an
ardent imagination--like a bold knight on an unbridled horse, a
situation replete with the saddest consequences.

And how did Troilo appear on the day of reckoning? Troilo of
the pallid brow, the heavy eyebrow, and the falcon eye. If we
consider his figure, few were the knights in Italy who could
sustain any comparison with him. He was well formed in person,
and of so handsome a face that artists of note had begged him to
sit to them as a model, and he had consequently grown very vain.
His hair was short and his face smooth, with the exception of
a dark imperial and moustache. Having heard that Alexander the
Great leaned his head upon his right shoulder, Troilo, not to be
inferior to him, imitated the habit. He always dressed in black
velvet; was usually sad and pensive, speaking rarely, not because
he imagined himself a poor conversationalist, for he ranked
himself on the contrary far above Cicero, but it was natural to
him. When he said but little, people were persuaded that he was a
man of remarkable talents and a keen observer of human affairs;
but if he conversed at greater length the vanity of his mind
was clearly manifested, as our ancestors aver the solidity of
the vase to be proved by sounding it. How the Fates had placed
such a head on such a body is a question not easily answered.
It is very certain that he would have driven to despair those
who undertake to discover by external signs the passions and
imaginations of the soul. He surpassed all the noblemen of that
age in prowess and courage. In the bloody quarrels of the barons,
for which the streets of Rome were then notorious, he was always
the first to commence and the last to retreat. Naturally strong,
he fought with strength, although treason was the height of his
ambition; and his favorite hero, the famous Alphonso Piccolomini,
a celebrated highwayman whom Ferdinand dei Medici, as Cardinal,
once saved from the gallows, but afterwards, as Grand Duke, hung.
But in the battles where skill rather than strength is requisite,
or where the one should be tempered by the other, he showed
himself so incompetent that he could not be trusted with the rank
even of a colonel of infantry; nor did he succeed any better in
business transactions, for sometimes by his obstinate silence
he inspired suspicion, and sometimes by his vain eloquence,
even more obstinate, contempt. Hence the Medicis abstained
from employing him, and kept him at home, like the Bucentaur,
the ornamented and useless galley which the Venetians used to
bring out on the occasion of the marriage of the Doge with the
Adriatic; so his commissions consisted of congratulations, as
his three embassies to France bear witness, where he was sent
the first time to congratulate the Duke d'Anjou upon the victory
which he had gained at Moncontour over the Admiral Coligny;
the second was when Charles IX. espoused Elizabeth, the second
daughter of the Emperor Maximilian; the third and last when the
Duke d'Anjou, afterwards Henry III., was chosen King of Poland.
And yet so vainglorious was he, that he never ceased reminding
Isabella of the many and great sacrifices which he had made for
her, in not fighting battles which he never would have fought,
and constantly longed for the victories which he never could
have achieved. His love for Isabella was idleness, the impulse
of youthful blood, pride in conquering a woman so handsome and
so deservedly celebrated. He soon grew weary of it, since forms,
however beautiful, please by their variety; and the lady's
talent, by humiliating him, was to him rather a cause of dislike
than of admiration. I will not affirm that he hated Isabella, but
he chafed impatiently under the tie, and even more impatiently
when he found that he could not free himself from it, and
strengthened it irrevocably by a fatal knot. His mind was closed
against the noble, the decorous, the right, and the beautiful.
If Isabella recited her own or another's poetry, he would fall
asleep--a terrible slight to a poet, but to a poetess culpable
beyond measure. Music gave him the headache. With all this he was
tormented by a cold and apathetic jealousy, not because he loved
Isabella, but because he wished Isabella to love him;--he wished
that all might read around her neck these words, which used to
be engraved upon the collars of slaves: "The property of Troilo
Orsini." In short, the time had arrived when the joyous rosy
garland woven by love was changed to a chain of remorse and hate,
forged by the hands of the infernal Furies.



CHAPTER III.

THE KNIGHT LIONARDO SALVIATI.

   Essendo di fortuna e d'ingegno meno che mediocre, mi sento non
   dimanco avere dalla natura un bene particolare ed egregio, nel
   quale io mi sento tanto superiore a molti, quanto quasi di ogni
   uomo in tutte le altre cose mi conosco più basso. Questa è una
   cotal mirabile inclinazione, ed una come natural conoscenza
   ch'io ho nella amicizia.... Io sono a questa parte quasi rapito
   dallo Dio del mio ingegno.

    SALVIATI, _Dialogo dell' Amicizia_.

   Although I am less than mediocre both in fortune and talents,
   yet I feel that nature has gifted me with a particular and lofty
   blessing, in which I feel myself so much superior to others, as
   I know myself in almost everything else inferior to all other
   men. This is a wonderful inclination, and natural knowledge
   which I have in friendship.... I feel in this respect almost
   exalted by the god of my genius....

    SALVIATI, _Dialogue on Friendship_.


As poets sometimes describe a pensive maiden straying by the margin
of a brook, plucking the leaves from a rose, scattering them to the
mercy of the current, and watching the wave that carries them away,
so Isabella, with her cheek resting on her hand, her eyes closed,
mused upon the dear remembrances borne down upon the stream of time.
Where was her innocence? Where her youthful affections? Where the
serene purity of her mind? The tree of life, that once appeared so
fresh with perpetual verdure, now how horribly bare! And the few
leaves that remain, rustle drily, and are ready to fall with the
slightest wind that blows. Of Cosimo's daughters, she alone is left;
Mary died at seventeen for love; Lucretia, perhaps through the same
cause, disappeared from the world at twenty-one. Love had been a star
of evil auspice for the women of the Medici family! The dear boy, Don
Garcia, had abandoned her, and she could never think of him without
her imagination depicting the angelic face, that wished to speak to
her but could not, and tried to sign to her with his head, while his
hair, dripping with blood, stained his beautiful face. God knows
how this thought pierced her heart! For the report of the domestic
tragedy had reached her ears, but her frightened soul shrank in
horror at believing it true. Her father, Cosimo, whom, however severe
or cruel towards his other children, she had found kind, was still
young when he left this world, and although in dying he left her,
as manifest tokens of his love, seven thousand dollars, a palace,
three thousand dollars upon the Pisan estates, gardens and houses in
Florence, and jewels worth a treasure, all this abundance of wealth
had not served to procure her one friend in whom to confide, or from
whom to seek counsel.

She could not depend upon Cardinal Ferdinando, as he had left his
home at an early age, and, obliged to live in Rome, had there placed
his heart and thoughts; or if his mind ever turned towards his home,
it was through pride, or through desire of royalty, for which he
was so eager that, in process of time, being exalted to the Tuscan
throne, he took for coat of arms the King of the bees, with the
motto: _Majestate tantum_. Besides which, she had but little reason
to consider him kindly-disposed towards her, as she had, in times
past, rather favored than opposed the intrigue of Don Francesco with
Bianca; but perceiving that this passion was taking deep root, and
might become a source of great trouble, she had endeavored to repair
her fault, by thwarting it to the utmost of her power, which only
excited against her the bitter hatred of Francesco and the vengeance
of Bianca, and did not succeed, on the other hand, in restoring to
her the friendship of Cardinal Ferdinando, much less that of Queen
Giovanna, her sister-in-law.

Giovanna, a very pious woman, was still a woman wounded in her
dearest affections as wife and mother, and in the pride of her noble
lineage, seeing a Venetian adventuress preferred to her, the daughter
of an Emperor, and by birth the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. This
grief, which continually tormented her mind and preyed upon her
health, at last rendered her so eager for revenge in any form, that,
happening one evening, in crossing the bridge of the Santa Trinità,
to meet Bianca, she ordered the carriage to stop, and commanded her
guards to throw her enemy into the Arno; and if it had not been for
Count Eliodoro Bastigli, a very worthy nobleman, who begged her
to consider how unbecoming such an act would be to a Queen and a
Christian, adding also that she should leave her cause to God, and
offer her sorrows as an expiation for her sins, that would have been
the last day of Bianca's life, since the guards, not very scrupulous
about such matters, were on the point of laying violent hands upon
her. Still this poor Giovanna could not so entirely conquer herself
as not to hate mortally every one who had contributed to alienate her
husband from her; among these, she suspected, and not unjustly, that
Isabella stood first; and for this reason, and also that they were of
natures, of desires, habits, and pursuits, not only different, but
entirely incompatible with each other, there was no evil that she did
not wish her; and although she repented and confessed her ill-will,
nevertheless, weak human nature prevailing in her, she hated her
worse than before.

As to Don Pietro, hardened to every kind of vice, forgetful not only
of princely dignity, but even of what belonged to a man, Isabella
could place as little reliance upon him. Alas! in so much sorrow,
she found herself alone! No one could aid her with counsel or help.
Bitter thoughts now took possession of her, and these thoughts left
their trace in a furrow upon her brow and a wound in her heart, such
as God alone could heal, or death steep in oblivion.

Lelio, opening the door of the saloon, announced:

"The illustrious knight, Lionardo Salviati, desires to see your
Ladyship."

"Lionardo Salviati!" she exclaimed, and then added to herself, "God
surely sends him to me."

And Salviati entered, introduced with due ceremony.

There is no help for it:--according to established rule I should
immediately make these two persons speak, and endeavor to invent
a vivid, strong, and pointed dialogue, that the interest of the
narrative might not flag. In narratives or dramas, all that prevents
the action from progressing freely towards its end, is to be
reprehended; the different parts ought all to converge towards the
_denouement_, like so many straight lines, for a straight line, as
we all know, is the shortest distance between two points. And the
good Guizot reminds those who may have forgotten it, of this maxim,
when, being ambassador in London, he allowed no other device to be
engraved on his plate than a straight line, with the motto: _Linea
recta brevissima_; whence he derived in France the title of Cato, and
in Paris they made illuminations and bonfires about it. Does it not
seem as if in France it is very easy to acquire the title of Cato?
Whoever holds the above opinion is right, but I cannot abstain from
infringing on the rule. How many times has it happened to you, my
amiable lady-readers, to "Know the right, and yet the wrong pursue?"
And then, I am beginning to grow old, and old age is garrulous.
Moreover, when I took a fancy to narrate these and other events in
the form of dramatic narratives, I designed, following the dictates
of such rules, to let you know all the particulars I could give in
regard to the persons and the times of which my story might treat.
In fact (I do not say it to all, but to the greater number of you,
my beloved lady-readers), who would give you such information, if I
did not? Now that we are, as it were, _en famille_, confess whether
you would ever have had the time and patience requisite to gather
it from the folio and quarto volumes in which I found it? Heavy and
worm-eaten books, which would contaminate the fairness of your white
kid gloves, with a trace of dust not less horrible to behold than
the blood upon the side of Adonis. Allow me then to speak in my own
way; be a little gracious to me, for I profess myself entirely yours,
and _kneeling with the knees of my mind_,[2] honor you as much
as I possibly can. Perhaps I shall not weary you; but should I be
disappointed in this hope, the remedy lies in your own power; you can
do what, in a similar case, Ludovico Ariosto advises:--

    "Let him who will, pass pages three or four,
    Not reading,"[3]

for the history would not be marred by your so doing, nor would it
proceed less intelligibly.

  [2] Con le ginocchia della mente inchine.

  [3]

    Passi chi vuol, tre carte, o quattro, senza
    Leggerne verso.

Who then was, and whence came this illustrious Sir Lionardo
Salviati?

Sir Lionardo was the child of Giovanbattista di Lionardo
Salviati, and Ginevra di Carlo Antonio Corbinelli. His family
had often been at enmity with the family of the Medici. Cardinal
Salviati conspired with the Pazzi to destroy it root and branch.
The attempt failed, and they hung him from the window of the
Palazzo della Signoria, just as they found him, in his episcopal
robes. This circumstance by no means interrupted the good
friendship, much less the good relationship of the two families;
and one Salviati was father-in-law of Lorenzo the Magnificent,
brother-in-law of Pope Leo X., and great-grandfather of the Grand
Duke Cosimo, who was the son of Maria di Jacopo Salviati, so that
Lionardo might be considered a relation of Isabella. Lionardo
(although it could not well be said at that time, but can with
perfect propriety be mentioned now) was scarcely two years older
than Isabella, and they had been educated together, so that
he had always loved her tenderly, as though she had been a
sister. Of a delicate constitution, and gifted by nature with an
amiable disposition, he was ill adapted for the violent knightly
exercises of the times, and gave himself up entirely to the study
of belles lettres and philosophy. His countenance was pale, his
beard thin, his expression sad; his lungs were delicate, yet he
had a strong voice; his pronunciation was so clear and sweet as
to attract attention; and modulating his speech more like that
of a petitioner than a commander, he easily drew to himself the
ears and minds of those who listened to him. The Grand Duke
Cosimo had conferred upon him the Order of St. Stefano, and he,
accustomed to view matters superficially, wore the red cross
devoutly upon his breast, fully convinced that the founder had
no other aim than that of freeing the sepulchre of Christ from
the hands of the dogs (for so were called the Turks in those
times, and they paid us in turn in the same coin). Lionardo was
born when the destinies of the Republic were buried; educated at
court, a relative of the Prince, and well treated by him, he had
never listened to the fiery words of the liberals, of whom some
were wandering in miserable exile, while others had been cut off
either by a natural death, the judicial axe, or the dagger of the
assassin. Having heard them even from his childhood branded as
grumbling, mischievous men, who loved to fish in muddy streams,
and who were the worst enemies of Florence, he had formed the
opinion that Cosimo I. was the true liberator of the country, a
faithful defender and supporter of the public safety,--a man, in
short, of great worth, to be preferred to the ancients, rather
than compared to the moderns. Add to this, that his vanity as
writer was fully satisfied by Cosimo, who "made a pretence of
patronizing men of letters, and showed it sometimes by words
rather than by deeds; for no one of these was helped, honored, or
supported by him, except in a slight degree."[4] And in truth,
when Lionardo recited the oration in honor of his coronation,
Cosimo said to him, without the slightest approach to a smile,
"that among his other reasons for prizing the dignity which he
had received, was this most worthy and lofty oration which had
followed it,"[5] as if Cosimo, who had no more faith in white
than in black, was a man to pay attention to such nonsense;
but he did so to acquire renown at a cheap rate, or because he
knew how much literary men love flattery, for if they often
make vapory speeches, they oftener still are fed on wind. And
certainly it was not Lionardo's fault if, through his writings,
Cosimo was not famous in the memory of posterity, since he let no
opportunity escape of exalting him to the skies with all manner
of praises.

  [4] Segni, vol. ii., p 337.

  [5] Essay on the Knight L. Salviati, read before the Florentine
  Academy by Pier F. Cambi.

But with what reason or justice can we reproach Lionardo Salviati,
when other famous writers spoke even more openly and unblushingly?
We shall mention only Bernardo Davanzati, whom the translation of
Tacitus ought to have inspired with the example, if not of his
boldness, at least of his modesty, but who did not hesitate to
declare from the pulpit, that "Cosimo's elevation was indeed a Divine
dispensation," he having acquired rule, which is the most desirable
and supreme of all blessings, called to it by his fellow-citizens'
love, the means of all others the most just and holy, who,
recognising the virtue of his heart and mind, unanimously elected
him Prince in an heroic and natural manner. Siena, under his mild
and lenient government, might say, like Themistocles, flying to
Persia: "Woe to me if I had not lost, for then I should have been
lost!" He recalled all the exiles to their homes, and restored to
them their property; mild, benign, pious, most merciful, diligent in
providing food that the people might not suffer famine, always eager
to diminish the public taxes, and so solicitous for justice, that
he loved it better than himself, of which he gave a manifest proof,
when, while the war against Pietro Strozzi was raging, he prayed "God
to give victory not to himself, but to him whose intentions were the
best, and whose cause was the most just."[6] If then, I say, writers
who were neither relatives nor friends did not shrink from such and
similar enormities, we cannot well reproach Lionardo if he ignored,
or wished to ignore, the arms prepared by Cardinal Cibo, the perfidy
of Francesco Vettori, of Roberto Acciaiuoli, of Matteo Strozzi, of
the worst of all of them Francesco Guicciardini, the terrors spread,
the violences committed, and the night of January 8, 1537, when,
Cosimo being present, it was decided between the above mentioned
persons, and Alessandro Vitelli, to elect Cosimo Duke, and if it were
necessary, even to use force; and the morning of the 9th, when amidst
the shouts of the soldiers who cried: "Hurra for the Duke and the
Medici!"--and the threats of Vitelli, who swore "that if the Senators
did not hasten to elect Cosimo, they would be all dead men," he was
_unanimously_ elected Duke.

  [6] Bernardo Davanzati. Oration on the Death of Cosimo.

Cosimo had promised Guicciardini that he would allow himself to
be guided by him entirely; but for this once the intriguer was
over-reached, and, strange as it may seem, by a youth of eighteen,
who had promised also to marry Guicciardini's daughter, but the
latter had not even the courage to remind him of it, and died
overwhelmed with self-reproaches and the contempt of others.

It is the duty of an historian (but I am a poor novelist), it is the
duty of every honest man to relate the good deeds of which human
nature is justly proud. Benedetto Varchi, in the fifteenth book of
his Histories, fearlessly narrates a noble act; first of all, he
mentions that on the night preceding the _unanimous_ election of
Cosimo, it was resolved in a very secret conclave, that he should
be elected Duke _by any means, even if it involved the necessity
of using force_; and then relates an anecdote of the good Palla
Rucellai, who boldly said that he no longer wished in the Republic
either Princes or Dukes, and to prove that his deeds were consistent
with his words, he took the black ball, and showing it to all, threw
it into the ballot-box, exclaiming: "_This is my vote._" Then when
Guicciardini and Vettori reproved him for this, observing that his
ball could count only for one, he replied: "_If you had decided
beforehand what you intended to do, there was no need of calling
me_;" and he rose to depart; but Cardinal Cybo detained him with
cunning mildness, and endeavored to frighten him with the show of the
surrounding arms, and representing the danger which he might incur;
but the brave man, not at all startled, replied: "_Sir Cardinal, I
am already more than sixty-two years old, so that now they can do
me but very little harm._" These are magnanimous examples, which
can never be remembered or praised enough; and as many times as I
consider that Benedetto Varchi wrote these histories by order of
Cosimo, and read them to him, and that he listened to them without
showing any resentment, I feel forced to conclude, that men capable
of telling the truth seem to me even more rare than Princes capable
of listening to it, and that _adulation is oftener the cowardice of
courtiers than the requisition of Princes_.

Behold how joyful Siena was! Of the thirty thousand souls which it
contained before the war, hardly ten thousand remained; what with the
misery, the battles, and painful massacres which he who wishes can
find described in the Diary of Sozzini, or the narratives of Roffia,
fifty thousand peasants perished, without enumerating those who took
refuge in foreign lands. The country was deserted, the cultivation of
the fields entirely neglected, and manufactures destroyed, so that
Siena feels the consequences of it, even to this day. And as Tacitus
says: "They make a desert and they call it peace."

Scipione Ammirato, either through conscientious scruples or horror
unwilling to betray the truth, and equally unwilling to displease
the Medicis, by whose orders he was writing, bethought himself of
the expedient of leaving a hiatus in his history, which resembles
the veil painted by Timanthes before the face of Agamemnon, in the
sacrifice of Iphigenia. Bernardo Segni, on the contrary, in the
histories which were published after his death, described this infamy
of Siena, saying in conclusion: "They surrendered to the Duke, after
having lost all their dominions, destroyed all their property, and
the lives of almost all the men of that city and province."

As regards provisions, ten times there was a scarcity, and three
times it was so great that people starved to death; nor in small
numbers, for in the famine of 1554, over sixty thousand people died
in Florence and throughout the state.[7]

  [7] Segni, History; books 14 and 15.

That he was mild and merciful, let certain extracts from manuscripts
in the Magliabecchian and Riccardian libraries testify, from which
we learn that in a very few years one hundred and thirty of the
principal citizens of Florence were declared rebels; most of those
who fell into his hands were either hung or beheaded; some were sent
to the prisons or galleys; several assassinated; the property of all
of them was confiscated, and even the dowries of the women. On most
of the petitions imploring the life of some rebel, Cosimo inscribed
with his own hand: "_Let him be hung._"[8] I have read somewhere,
that he retained one thousand assassins in his employ; nor were they
all plebeians, but some of them people of good standing; he himself
was personally the executioner of several, since, not to mention his
son, Don Garcia, no historian denies that he killed with his own hand
Sforza Almeni of Perugia, "allowing, however," adds Aldo Manuzio,
"the property of the murdered man to go to his heirs, and fulfilling
his will as expressed in a certain document which was found in his
pocket." Does not this seem to you the act of a most benign Prince!

  [8] Manuzio; Life of Cosimo dei Medici.

As to the prayer made to God in the war with Strozzi, that He
would give the victory to the righteous cause, we find testimonies
respecting it in his commission to the Bishop of Cortona, who was
sent to France under the pretext of paying his respects to the Queen,
but in reality to corrupt the servants of Piero Strozzi, so that
they might administer to their master the poison which he himself
took to them in a vial, whereby he acquired the nickname of Bishop
of the Vial,[9] and also in the letter written to Captain Giovanni
Orandini, preserved in the Annal XII. of the Colombaria, in which we
read the following words, in regard to the order to assassinate Piero
Strozzi: "Hence going to Siena, either by a gunshot, or in whatever
other way may seem best to you, rid us of the arrogance of this man;
in return for which, we can promise ten thousand crowns in cash, and
our protection, besides honors and emoluments."[10] Consequently it
behoves us to confess that if he trusted much in God, he trusted
even more in gunshots, or rather, that if it is true that he invoked
the name of God, it was because he who is accustomed to deceive men,
rises at last to such a degree of folly as to believe that he can
even deceive God. And in reference also to his moderation in imposing
taxes upon the people, let the following extract from an impartial
historian suffice: "He oppressed the citizens and subjects with
unheard of taxes, doubling the old, and adding new ones; in managing
the state, he has in a great measure ruined the honor and property of
his native place, and Tuscany."[11]

  [9] Ammirato. Florence Edition, 1827. Last volume.

  [10] Aldo Manuzio.

  [11] Segni's History, pp. 159, 184. Ed. of Milan.

He was indeed pious too, for after Scarperia had been destroyed,
and Florence threatened by an earthquake, and the Palazzo della
Signoria had been seven times struck by lightning in one day, he
issued several decrees against blasphemy and other sins; and in
addition to this, with a praiseworthy readiness, no sooner had he
received the letter of Pius V., requesting him to consign Monsignor
Pietro Carnesecchi to the Master of the Inquisition, accompanied
by a recommendation from the Cardinal Pacheco (who mentioned to
Cosimo that he had praised him before the Pope for two things, viz.
that there was no prince in all Christendom more zealous for the
Inquisition than he, and that there was nothing that the Pontiff's
pleasure desired that he would not be willing to do), than without
any delay, for Carnesecchi was in his own house, nay, even seated
at his own dinner-table, he had him arrested and consigned to
the Master. This violation of the duties of hospitality and the
ties of friendship, for Carnesecchi had always been well disposed
towards the house of the Medicis, and had long served Clement VII.
as prothonotary, and Cosimo as secretary in Venice--this sacrifice
of a man celebrated for his goodness and learning by Sadoleto,
by Bembo, by Mureto, and by Manuzio, although Ammirato, eager to
depreciate the importance of the man, calls him _not an ignorant
person_--this sacrifice, I say, deserved a proportionate reward,
which, if we do not find openly promised, is clearly enough hinted
at in the following words from the letter of June 19th, 1566,
from Cardinal Pacheco to Cosimo: "Be then assured, that the good
relation which your Excellency will hold with the Pope during this
pontificate, will in a great measure depend upon this." In fact,
Pietro Carnesecchi was decapitated and burned as an heretic on the 3d
of October, 1567; and Cosimo was, by sanction of the Pope, crowned
Grand Duke, with the privilege of wearing the royal crown, on the 4th
of March, 1569. Carnesecchi suffered death with wonderful constancy,
even with some ostentation of fortitude, for he dressed himself
in his choicest garments and white gloves; but was Cosimo equally
tranquil, when he closed his eyes in "that sleep which knows no
waking?"

Notwithstanding these facts, known then by what has been before
mentioned, and at the present day by being printed in history, I, for
my part, would forgive the magnificent Knight Salviati for praising
Cosimo and lauding to the skies his mercy, his valor, his prowess,
and clemency, placing him before Augustus, since the latter had to
use proscription, while the former had not; although Cosimo himself
was contented to resemble Augustus, under whose constellation, which
was Capricornus, his astrologer Don Basilio assured him that he was
born; but a fault for which neither I nor any one else can pardon
Salviati is the following sentence, which, since I shudder to put my
hands upon it, I shall report as it is written:

"They who refuse the government of their country or republic, when
offered to them, have given manifest proof, not only of the cowardice
of their minds, but of impiety and arrogance. Of cowardice, I say,
failing in courage, and refusing honors and governments, which are
very desirable; of impiety, if, knowing themselves capable, they have
denied their services to their country; of arrogance, if, thinking
themselves incompetent, they have preferred their own opinion of
themselves to the judgment of their country."

Ah! Sir Lionardo, what sad reasoning is this! How sophistical,
cunning, and entirely unworthy of a grave man does it sound! How
far did the evil genius of lying flattery carry you! Would it seem
honest to you if any one should accept the gifts of a crazy man?
Much more if they are gifts which ought not to be made, and such is
the liberty of one's own country, which cannot be alienated, for
it is derived from God, and belongs to Him; it is not peculiar to
any, but appertains to all generations; and the present generation,
disinheriting posterity of it, as an enemy of its own race commits
an unlawful act. Is a physician arrogant when he does not neglect
the disease of a sick man, but mercifully cures him? The people,
when wearied of their own dignity, crouch on the ground like the
camel, entreating some one to ride them (even if they are not driven
to it, as is generally the case, by treachery or fraud); in this
condition they can either be cured or not. In the first case they
ought to be cured, and then, if the example of Lycurgus seems too
hard to follow, one ought to adopt that of Solon, or Andrea Doria, or
choose voluntary exile, for a man can ill live as a citizen where he
has ruled as a prince; in the second case, all efforts being of no
avail, let him, like Sylla, throw away the battle-axe, and abandon
them to the wrath of God. Such at least ought to be the rule of those
men whom the world calls great, and who, after having departed from
this world, furnish themes for the tongues of orators and the fancy
of poets, and remind us of our divine origin. To no citizen is it
permitted, either by force or by genius, offered or usurped, to take
away the liberty of his country; morality, affection, religion,
especially the Christian religion, all forbid it. Yes, indeed, the
Christian religion, because, rejecting the distinction of St. Thomas
as scholastic, and proposed rather as an abstract disquisition, than
as true in practice, between a tyrant imposed upon us by force, and a
tyrant imposed voluntarily by ourselves, that act is right, which we
can always choose, as Aristotle teaches. Now how can the usurpation
of one's country ever be eligible? As to the usurper, can he or
will he consult from time to time the will of the people? Will he
know, or will he wish to know, if the movement that so exalted him
was truly spontaneous and universal? When it will decline or when
cease? As to the people, may it not be a transient hallucination and
infirmity of the country, since the country consists in the faithful
association of the citizens, to which we consecrate our affection
and reverence, and if needed, our property and our lives; and this
removed, the place in which we live cannot be called our country,
nor deserve such sacrifices. If our country is more than a mother
to us, who is there that could enslave his own mother? If a mother
were to propose it, she should be treated as an insane person, and
not be listened to; and if the son were to accept it, he should be
abhorred as impious. And mark, that such usurpations are usually
surrounded with appearances of free elections; Julius Cæsar himself
ordered that in the Lupercalia he should be presented with a crown.
Moreover, liberty, next to life, is our most precious possession; now
the dearer anything is to us, the less we can presume to make a gift
of it; and if even it could be alienated, can we look upon liberty as
legitimately yielded, if surrendered in a moment of passion, fury,
or error? Finally, let us imagine that the country, when in trouble,
should call upon a citizen to restore it to peace; certainly his
rule is needed until the object be accomplished. Now, either the
citizen is capable of accomplishing the wish of his country or he
is not; if capable, let him fulfil the duty to which he is called,
and then retire; if not capable, he fails in his object, and must
retire. But I, perchance, am endeavoring to demonstrate what does not
need demonstration: what presumption, what folly it is, to prove by
means of arguments what nature and God have engraven in our hearts!
Lionardo Salviati, writing the above-mentioned sentences, did not
perhaps believe them himself; he did it for a show of eloquence, or
rather for rhetorical paradox, and he perceived his error, though too
late to repair it, and was never happy afterwards, but cursed the
hour in which be learned to write prose; dismayed when the truth was
presented to his mind, awe-struck by memories of blood, he begged
God, who mercifully listened to his prayer, to shorten a life so ill
employed in behalf of the truth and of mankind, whom, nevertheless,
he ardently loved.

It remains to be seen how high in literature our Salviati ought to
be ranked, but the nature of this book not allowing it as I could
wish, I will do my best to contract the whole into a short space. He
was a very profound scholar, both in the Greek and Latin languages,
and an excellent master of the Italian; he acquired and treasured
up a much larger amount of learning than he taught or published;
according to the custom of those literati, whom we can compare to
nothing better than a miser's chests; he composed a great deal of
poetry, both grave and gay, which, thank heaven, is at the present
day neither known nor published. At the age of twenty he wrote the
_Dialogue on Friendship_, in which he introduces Girolamo Benivieni
to speak the praises of friendship to Jacopo Salviati and Piero
Ridolfi. The subject might indeed have been an affecting one, as he
feigned that, on account of the loss of his best friend, Pico della
Mirandola, a wonderful youth, called the Phoenix of talents, Girolamo
had determined to starve himself to death; but he afterwards came
to a wiser decision; he changed his grief into joy, imagining that
God had called Pico before his time, as most deserving to share
the rewards of the saints in heaven; but the soulless words, the
pedantic distinctions, the want of imagination and heart excite in
us neither pleasure nor pity, and weariness overcomes us before we
reach the end. His comedies, "_La Spina_" and "_Il Granchio_," are
a mixture made from the fragments left by Plautus and Terence, so
that it is easy to imagine what they are. The usual old match-making
nurses, the usual cheats and blacklegs, credulous old men, impossible
incidents, improbable recognitions, Florentine jests, and heavy
language, so that we wonder how people could take delight in such
representations, which at the present day we should hardly dare to
impose upon them as a penance. As to his five essays upon a sonnet
of Petrarch, we have only to say that they prove rather the extent
of our forefathers' wonderful patience, than the great genius of
the author. His orations, the funeral ones particularly, are really
flowers for the dead. Under the _nom de plume of Infarinato_[12] he
wounded with bitter writings the sorrowful spirit of Torquato Tasso;
but the _Jerusalem_ remains, and the writings of Salviati are read
by no one; and this act injures Salviati both as a writer and as a
man, if indeed even in this, his blind devotion to the house of the
Medicis does not excuse him. He abridged the Decameron of Boccaccio,
but posterity laugh at his abridgment, and wish Boccaccio entire.
However, he had a great veneration for this eminent author, and wrote
three volumes of _Advices_ in regard to the beauty of the language
drawn from the Decameron: these volumes may, even in our own day,
and perhaps now more than ever, be consulted by the students of our
most glorious tongue. The language used by Salviati is pure, but says
nothing; it seems an ornament of a corpse; no ideas, no thought, no
imagination; obliged to avoid the great, which is the truth, he was
compelled to have recourse to the false, and we can already perceive
in him the sad dawn of the sixteenth century. In proof of what I
say, let the following extract from his Oration for the Coronation
of Cosimo I. bear witness:--"These walls, most blessed father, and
these houses, and these temples, seem to burn with the desire to
present themselves before the feet of your Holiness, and this river,
and these shores, and these mountains seem to desire feet in order to
come to you, and these seas, and this heaven, a tongue to speak, and,
if unable to tell all that is in their hearts, at least to thank you,
and personally to acknowledge themselves your debtors for so great
a benefit." Abundant words, no eloquence, epithets, adjectives,
expletives without number, one period intermingled by so many other
periods intermingling again among themselves, that the elocution
is confused, difficult, entangled, and, above all, painful. Parini
thought that he might be read with advantage; I, except the _Advices_
already mentioned, do not think so; and Annibale Caro, although
somewhat inclined to the same opinion regarding Salviati, let it be
clearly understood that he did not consider his style commendable,
for it was exceedingly verbose, wandered uncertainly, was full of
meaningless epithets, of long periods, and of many more sentences
than were necessary for clearness of expression, which engenders
confusion, and wearies the listeners.

  [12] All the Academicians of _La Crusca_ took some _nom de
  plume_, by which they were always known.

In short, Sir Lionardo was neither a good citizen nor a powerful
writer, and yet a man of excellent natural disposition, affectionate
to his friends, and most eager for their welfare. Some will think it
impossible that one individual could be the best of men and yet a bad
citizen; but if there is any contradiction we see it in nature, and I
could mention modern examples if propriety allowed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lionardo, entering the room, first took good care to ascertain that
the page had closed the door, then drew a screen before it, and
advanced smilingly towards Isabella, extending his hand. But Isabella
rushed impulsively towards him, and placing her hand on his shoulder,
and leaning her head upon his breast, exclaimed:

"O my good and noble Lionardo, you at least have not forgotten your
Isabella."

Lionardo, confused and deeply moved by such an exhibition of feeling,
replied:

"My dear lady Isabella, how or why should I have forgotten you?"

They stood thus for a little while, and then seating themselves upon
the couch, Isabella, looking in his face, continued:

"It is so long since we have seen each other; and you look ill.
Lionardo, such excess of study injures you."

"O Isabella," said Lionardo, "my trouble is here," and he struck his
heart, "and I pray God daily that He will call me to His holy peace,
and it seems as if He most mercifully was beginning to listen to me.
But let us not talk of myself--I do not come here on my own account,
your ladyship. Now I pray you to hear what I have to say, as if I
were a brother. So long as I knew you to be, if not happy, at least
safe, I kept far from you. I might have wished you to remain happy,
because," and here he lowered his voice, "true happiness consists
in a life of virtue; but my endeavors have been useless, as well as
the admonitions of Cosimo, your father, who often warned you, saying
'Isabella, I shall not live for ever.'"

Isabella, calling up all her womanly pride, interrupted him:

"Sir Lionardo, what are you saying? If I am not mistaken you mean to
offend me."

"Isabella, surely I did not come here for that. Do you believe that
I take pleasure in saying what I do? Do you think that I have spent
my years so uselessly as to hazard imprudent words or worse? Why do
you repulse me? Why dissemble with me? But no matter; I do not ask
the secrets of your heart. If you do not believe me worthy of sharing
them, I consent to remain ignorant. But hear what is said of you;
hear the danger and let us provide a remedy."

"I have done no wrong; who can accuse me? What trace"----

Salviati murmured in her ear, "The trace is outside the gate of
Prato."

"Ah!" cried Isabella frightened, and starting up after a few moments
as if to go away, added, "At least let him be saved."

Lionardo, detaining her by her dress, said, "Stay, we can see to it
better here."

Isabella, shaking her head, tossed her hair with both hands from her
forehead, as if, grown bold by despair, she wished all her shame to
be read there, and murmured--

"Well, I am guilty."

"Isabella, your life is in danger."

"Mine? And by whom? Has Giordano returned from Rome?"

"No. But what has Giordano to do with it?"

"And who but he could with justice attempt my life? Francesco? Would
he punish in another his own sin? Piero? So plunged in every kind of
vice that the waters of the Arno would not suffice to purify him."

"Justice? And do you, a daughter of Cosimo, seek for justice here
below? Francesco hates in others what he indulges in himself. A
doubtful rumor has reached his ears that his enemies, rejoicing as
the wicked do, despise his family, publishing accusations that are
not true, or which, if true, proceed mostly from himself; and in his
dark soul he suspects his Bianca, and wishes to frighten her, that
she may never have a single affection except for him."

"Lionardo, you speak dreadful words, which, though I cannot disprove,
I yet cannot entirely believe. In fact they seem mostly suspicions;
but there is a great difference between thinking a thing and wishing
it, and between wishing and doing it."

"Yes, truly; your relations are accustomed to submit their fierce
passions to reason; but I must undertake the thankless office of
speaking ill of persons whose reputation is dear to you. Isabella,
believe me, upon my soul your life is in danger."

"Lionardo, you who are so wise must understand only too well how in
such important matters man cannot easily be convinced by the belief
of others. You have done much, too much perhaps, to permit you to
deny me the lesser"--

"It is true; and I have come here ready to hazard my life. I do not
ask discretion for myself, I ask it for you, and for one whom I know
you love better than yourself."

"It is well. Speak."

"Yesterday morning early I went to see Don Francesco, who had sent to
ask me about some correction of Boccaccio, which I had undertaken by
his orders. He was in his laboratory. I nevertheless caused myself
to be announced by a valet, who returned shortly, telling me to go
in there, for his Highness would receive me as one of the family
unceremoniously in his study. I found Don Francesco very busy over a
furnace, examining some substance in a glass vial. As soon as he saw
me, he said, 'Good morning and a happy year, cousin Lionardo. I am in
the midst of an experiment which does not seem to succeed very well.
Now I will read your work on the Decameron, which you have corrected
to your own liking, letting the beauties remain and taking away
whatever offends good taste and religion. What a pity that Giovanni
Boccaccio had not good taste! But is there no danger, Lionardo, that
he is utterly lost? Or is it true that before dying he repented and
left the world in the odor of sanctity?' To which question I replied
that the holy Giovanni Colombini, in the life of the holy Pietro
dei Petroni, assures us that the holy Pietro, a little while before
his departure to a better life, sent Giovacchini Ciani to reprove
Boccaccio for his writings and for his bad taste, and at the same
time to reveal certain secrets, so buried in his own memory that he
was very sure that no one but himself knew of them, which so affected
Boccaccio that he bitterly mourned his past errors, and confessing
himself before God made a wonderful repentance. 'Thanks,' replied
Francesco, 'you have given me great consolation in assuring me that
our Giovanni is in a place of safety. Now be kind enough to wait for
me a few minutes while I despatch this business. Go into the library,
you will find a goodly number of books, besides several new ones.' I
entered the library and pretended to read the first book that I took
up, but in reality watched the doings of Francesco. He kept blowing
the fire and looking at the vial; then turning to a little vase
upon the table and taking from it a pinch of powder, he examined it
attentively and said, 'I must confess our ancestors knew more than we
do, or that they pretended to. The color is there; the appearance is
the same; but the taste--the taste--and without doubt there must be
arsenic in it. Yet in the notes of my Poggio, and in the Trivigiana
Chronicle, I find that the Count de Virtù (by my faith that title
seems to fit him well!) poisoned his uncle Bernabo with a poison that
seemed precisely like salt, putting it very naturally upon French
beans; but I have not been able to find it. I would give a thousand
ducats.' Just then a valet entered and announced the High Sheriff.
I know not why, but I began to tremble. I looked around the room to
see if there were any outlet, and perceived a door opening upon the
court-yard. Just as I was on the point of going out, God inspired me
to turn back. I followed the inspiration, as I have always found it
best to do, and began to listen carefully. The Sheriff had entered
and was saying, 'The Knight Antinori, as your Serene Highness knows,
arrived yesterday from Porto Ferraio.'"

"How!" interrupted Isabella, "the Knight Bernardo in Florence without
our knowledge?"

"The Knight Antinori is at this moment in his grave, God have mercy
upon his soul!"

"Holy Mother of God! What do I hear? Are you sure of it, Lionardo?"

"Let me finish. The Sheriff continued: 'We brought him immediately
to the Knight Serguidi, who threatened him terribly for the shame
brought upon his Prince, warning him, should he find him guilty,
that he would leave him to your mercy. But the Knight denied all
steadfastly, until Serguidi produced a letter, saying in a menacing
tone: "Can you deny this?" The Knight, as soon as he saw the paper,
became as white as a sheet; perfectly overwhelmed, he raised his
hands in entreaty, without uttering a word. "Go," added Serguidi,
"you do not deserve pardon." The Knight departed trembling, and went
mechanically towards his house. I followed him with some guards, and
amused myself with watching him.' 'Your usual habit!' interrupted
Francesco; 'give me the bellows; go on, I am listening; tell all, for
I take pleasure in it.' And the Sheriff continued: 'He went as if by
inspiration, for he went towards the palace. When he had reached the
gate of Lions, I advanced and said to him: "Sir, be pleased to allow
me to serve you as major-domo; our most noble master has ordered
lodgings suitable for you to be prepared here." The Knight looked at
me as if in a dream, but let me lead him like a lamb: this morning,
before daybreak, I entered his prison with the chaplain, and he was
sleeping like one enchanted--' 'Was sleeping?' asked Francesco,
lifting up his face, which seemed as if stained with blood, from the
burning coals. 'He was sleeping.' 'He should not have slept.' 'Yet
he did sleep.' 'You let him pass his last night in peace. So it may
be said that he suffered nothing. And I cannot begin over again. Is
it not so?' The Sheriff gave an affirmative nod with his head, and
continued: 'I shook him, and he awoke, and raising himself up into a
sitting posture on the bed, asked: "What is it?" "Rouse yourself for
a moment," I replied to him, "and afterwards you may sleep at your
ease; here is a priest; you have but one hour to live."' 'And what
did he say?' said Francesco. 'He replied: "May God's will be done."'
'What! did he say that?' 'He did.' 'But have they no fear of death?'
'It seems that you have accustomed them to it.' 'In this case, death
seems too small a thing; we will take care in future.' 'He confessed
in due form, and then asked me for writing materials. I brought him
paper, pen, and ink, but he trembled so that he could not write a
word. Look, your Highness,' and he showed a paper. Francesco, putting
down the bellows, took it, and after examining it, said: 'What an
odd thing, I can read nothing here.' 'I told you he could not write
a word. Then I thought it well to observe: "Sir Knight, since I
perceive that you are unable to do your duty, allow me to do mine;"
I then handcuffed him, and putting a rope round his neck, hung him
according to your command.' 'It is well--and the Captain Francesco!'
'Oh, the Captain had got wind of it and escaped; he cannot be found
in Florence.' Don Francesco burst into a great passion, his mouth
quivered and his eyes sparkled. 'Go, pursue him!' he exclaimed, 'send
special couriers, despatch horses--to the confines--to the confines.'
But the Sheriff knew not what to do. Meantime the glass vial, from
some unknown cause, burst, and some of the fragments of the broken
glass struck the Sheriff on the face, penetrating into the flesh;
he uttered a cry of pain. Don Francesco then, in a moment, grew
thoughtful and silent, except that turning towards the Sheriff, he
said coldly: 'Hasten to cure yourself, for the glass is poisoned.'
The Sheriff fled hastily, groaning: 'Oh, my poor wife and children!'
If any one at that moment had tried to bleed me, not a drop of blood
would have followed the lancet. I felt as if nailed to the spot. I
began to commend my soul to God, but by good chance Francesco sank
into a seat, leaning his head down, as if buried in profound thought;
and I distinctly heard him mutter more than once to himself: 'Now,
we will look after the women, and quickly too; but Giordano is in
Rome, and without his consent it would not be right; I might take
the liberty--but no--let him think to render an account--to whom?
To God--to God! Oh, this God lays claim to so many accounts!' I
meantime, having regained my courage, went softly out by the door
that opened into the court-yard, and took refuge under the open vault
of heaven, for while in that house I feared every moment that the
walls of the accursed place would fall upon us!"

Isabella seemed petrified by this atrocious recital; and the unhappy
Lionardo, burying his face in his hands, said in a mournful voice:

"O my God! I have used my speech, the noblest gift with which Thou
hast endowed man, to praise these Medicis! What will posterity think
of me? May my works be scattered! May my descendants soon forget
them! And thou, O Lord, who seest my sorrow by my wishing oblivion
for the creations of my mind, for which I have spent my health and
talents, Thou knowest how truly this prayer comes from my heart."

Great indeed must have been the grief that saddened the heart of
Lionardo Salviati!

But soon recalling himself to the present emergency, Salviati turned
to Isabella and said:

"Come, Isabella, courage!"

"It is not fear that affects me--it is horror, it is shuddering
dread. Unhappy Eleonora! so young, so happy, so attached to pleasures
and to life! We must save her, we must warn her."

"My Lady, remember, it is not your secret; we will think of saving
her afterwards."

"Well, my only friend, my father, my all; I intrust myself soul and
body in your hands."

"It is well, time presses; you must write a letter to her Majesty
Catherine of France; she has a noble heart; bred to misfortunes, she
must have learned to help the unfortunate; and a Medici herself by
birth, she will shrink from having her family disgraced by domestic
tragedies. Relationship also may do something, and each of these
considerations separately, or all combined, seem to me more than
enough to excite her royal heart to grant you an asylum, and provide
means for your flight. I will undertake the responsibility of a
letter reaching her at Paris; this evening a relation of mine, one of
the Corbinelli family, a discreet and prudent young man, sets out for
Lyons, and he can either consign it to the Lieutenant of the city,
or if he does not consider it safe to do so, will for my sake carry
it himself to Paris. As soon as we receive a reply, it will not be
difficult to convey you to Leghorn, and when there, you can embark
for Genoa, or, better still, for Marseilles; reaching which you may
think yourself safe--"

"But Eleonora?"

"Then we will warn her, and she can either join you, or go to Spain
to the Duke d'Alba, or to her brother the Viceroy of Naples. But now
you must write the letter, for time flies." Isabella began to write;
but although she had a wonderful facility in composition, words now
seemed to fail her; she hesitated and kept beginning anew: many and
deep feelings, as may be easily imagined, disturbed her mind. At last
the letter was written, and she said:

"See, Lionardo, if it reads well; I never in my life composed
anything with more difficulty than this letter. Forget that you are
the _Infarinato_, I beg of you--"

"Let us begin."

"'Most honored Queen: one related to you by ties of blood, the only
surviving daughter of Cosimo dei Medici, entreats you to save her
life. Permit me to be silent as to whether I am innocent or guilty of
the crime which my death is intended to expiate; but if guilty, let
my youth, the absence of my husband, opportunity, the examples set
before me, and a woman's heart overflowing with love, plead for me,
as one not entirely unworthy of pardon. I have much to fear from the
Duke of Bracciano, my husband, and more from my brother Francesco. I
confide implicitly in you; give me that assistance which the urgency
of the case demands, that it may not be too late. To me, you will
preserve life, to your house, fame, and you will perform an act
worthy of such a magnanimous Queen, and one for which God will amply
reward you. I will follow whatever course your prudence may dictate,
hoping and wishing to spend in some holy convent, devoted to God's
service, the remainder of my miserable life, and to obtain through
His mercy, remission of my sins."

"'To Catherine, Queen of France.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

"It seems right to me; copy it, and add that an answer should be
directed to me."

"But," added Isabella, looking down and blushing, "shall I abandon
Troilo?"

"Troilo," answered Lionardo gravely, "knows that the Turks are
threatening Christendom; he must go to Hungary to fight the enemies
of the faith, and by an honorable death gain God's pardon. But be
careful that he knows nothing of all this; he will certainly ruin you
and himself too."

Isabella uttered a deep sigh, and with trembling hand began to copy
the letter. As soon as it was finished, Lionardo burned the first
copy and made an envelope with great care; he sealed the letter with
the Medici arms, and just as he was about to write the direction, he
heard a noise as of a body thrown with violence against the wall, and
then falling upon the pavement; the door was suddenly opened, and
Troilo appeared, drawing aside the screen; standing in the door-way,
he exclaimed with anger:

"One would think that you were weary of life!"

Lionardo concealed the letter in his bosom as quickly as possible;
but not so expeditiously but that Troilo perceived the movement, and
advancing a few steps into the room, stopped, and fixing his sinister
eyes with an ironical smile upon the Duchess, said:

"Since you choose to place guards at your door, I advise your
ladyship to select, if not more impertinent--that is impossible--at
least more valiant ones."

"I thought that, in my own house, the declaration of my will would be
sufficient----"

"But you thought wrong, for you see that I have entered." And then
laying aside his ironical tone, he added angrily: "What subterfuges,
what treasons are these? You would betray me, Lady Isabella! But if
death is to be met, remember there are two of us. If you are of the
Medici race, I am of the Orsini; and I swear by Heaven that no dog
ever bit me, without my being revenged on him. What are you doing,
Sir Knight? What paper is that which you have hidden in your bosom?
Take it out quickly, I must see it."

"Sir Knight," replied Salviati, in an unruffled voice, "it is
something which does not in the least concern you, and you cannot
honorably demand----"

"We can decide upon that after reading the letter."

"Permit me to decline satisfying you, Sir Knight."

"Signor Salviati, I am little used to opposition; give me the letter,
it will be better for you."

"Troilo, if you esteem my favor dear to you, I command you to be
silent and depart----"

"Isabella, it is now time for you to cease commanding and begin to
obey."

"Sir Troilo, I assure you upon the faith of an honorable Knight, that
this does not concern you."

"Faith! Perhaps the same with which you sounded the praises of his
Highness, Sir Cosimo! An honorable Knight never enters by stealth the
house of another, nor meddles in affairs that do not concern him, nor
hatches plots, for if they were not plots, you would not refuse to
give an account of them."

"And who are you, then, Sir Troilo, I pray you----"

"I?--I am he to whom the Duke of Bracciano gave the charge of his
wife----"

"And dare you make a right of this charge? Ah! Sir Troilo."

"What do you mean, Salviati? Beware! I am a man capable of cutting
out your tongue--you know----"

"Troilo, how can you so far forget yourself? You owe him as much
respect as if he were my brother."

"Your brothers are worthy of respect, truly! The letter,
Salviati--the letter!"

"I will never give it to you."

"Beware, or I will use force----"

"Would you act the ruffian? Do you not see that I am unarmed?"

"So much the better; I can the more easily accomplish my wishes. But
had you a sword, it would make no difference; he who wields the pen,
can ill wield the sword."

"The letter is next my heart," said Salviati, crossing his arms over
his breast, "and you shall not have it unless you tear forth both."

"And I will do it----"

"Madman! Before touching him, you must pass over my body!" cried
Isabella, rushing between Troilo and Lionardo.

"Back!" exclaimed Troilo, and with one dash of the hand he pushed the
Duchess upon the couch.

"Ah miserable, miserable Isabella! For what a man have you sacrificed
your life!"

"The letter!"

"I have told you the only way to obtain it."

"Your blood be upon your own head."--And drawing his dagger with his
left hand, Troilo sought to stab him. Lionardo did not move a step:
intrepid, his arms still folded on his breast, he stood ready to
suffer a violence to which, by his personal weakness, as well as by
his being unarmed, he could oppose no resistance. Troilo had almost
reached him, when the door was hastily thrown open, and Lelio Torelli
appeared, much excited, and exclaimed with a loud voice:

"His Lordship, Duke of Bracciano!"

This name had the effect of a Medusa's head upon Troilo; he recoiled,
quickly replacing his dagger in its sheath, and endeavoring to
compose his ruffled countenance; but these two contrary sentiments,
anger and self-control, instead of inducing composure, so disordered
him that he was fearful to look upon.

Isabella, who was lying terrified upon the couch, raised herself as
if by electricity, and stood looking intently at the door.

The Knight, Salviati, thinking that not being a member of the family,
he might go out as if nothing had happened, saluting the Duke as he
passed, and reserving his compliments for another time, departed
without any appearance of haste, and with his usual composure.
Passing through the halls and down the staircase, he wondered greatly
at neither meeting the Duke, nor seeing in the court-yard nor at the
door, any indications of his arrival; he did not understand what it
meant, but did not deem it prudent to go back to discover, thinking
that it could be explained at some other time.

Isabella and Troilo kept their eyes intently fixed upon the door for
some moments, expecting to see Sir Paolo Giordano appear; but finding
that they looked in vain, Troilo, overcoming his astonishment the
first, asked Lelio.

"Well, where is the Duke?"

Lelio, sure by this time of Salviati's safety, turned with an
ingenuous, yet at the same time mocking look towards Isabella, saying:

"His Lordship, Duke of Bracciano, sends greeting to your Ladyship,
and notifies you, that after despatching a few other affairs at Rome,
he depends upon joining your Ladyship towards the middle of the
coming month of June."

And making a low bow, and looking somewhat askance at Troilo, he
retired. Troilo, perceiving the trick, clenched his hands and
muttered between his teeth:

"Traitorous dog, you shall pay me for this!"



CHAPTER IV.

HOMICIDE.

   FRANZ. Voi volete farmi morire di languore. Io morrò di
   disperazione nella età della speranza, e voi ne avrete la colpa
   ... Dio mio! io che non ho goccia di sangue che non sia vostro!
   io, che respiro soltanto per amarvi, e per obbedirvi in tutto....

   ADELAIDE. Esci dai mio cospetto....

   FRANZ. Signora!

   ADELAIDE. Va, accusami dunque al tuo signore:

   GOETHE. _Goetz di Berlichingen._

   FRANZ. You wish me to die of anguish. I shall die with despair
   in the springtime of my hope, and it will be your fault.... Ye
   gods! I have not a drop of blood which is not yours! I exist
   only to love and obey you in everything....

   ADELAIDE. Leave my presence....

   FRANZ. My Lady!

   ADELAIDE. Go then, accuse me to your Lord....


Mistrust had insinuated itself into Isabella's heart, like an asp
into a nest. Troilo's cruel words rang incessantly in her ears; she
saw his cowardly suspicion, she felt that she might even be betrayed
and accused by him; and gazing into this abyss of crime, she was
overpowered by a moral tremor, not unlike the physical shudder which
one experiences while looking down an Alpine precipice; she therefore
took every means to avoid meeting Troilo, or if she did meet him,
was always accompanied by some one. On the other hand, the necessity
of keeping Lelio Torelli near her increased, and the attention of
the youth, his devotion, and diligence in pleasing her, could not
but make Isabella regard him with singular affection. Destined,
as it were, always to be imprudent, she did not consider that the
boy was fast approaching manhood, and that at his age the passions
overwhelm the soul like a hurricane: she did not fear, she did not
even perceive the fatal passion that consumed Lelio. Only instead
of kissing him on the forehead as she used when he was a boy, she
sometimes smoothed his beautiful hair, and patted him kindly on the
cheek, as a mother might caress a dear son; and let him who now feels
the ardor of a first love, or has once felt it, judge if this was not
adding fuel to the flame. Almost always absorbed in her own imminent
danger, Isabella did not care for, or perhaps notice certain acts of
Lelio, that in a more peaceful frame of mind she would easily have
understood. When she walked in the garden, for she now rarely left
the house, she often became so lost in thought, that in order to
avoid the trees or statues, she took Lelio's arm, and as her feelings
prompted, would press it more or less, so that her soul was, by these
means, transfused into the youth more vividly than by an electric
shock, and he gazed upon her with long, passionate looks, and drank
deep draughts of the poison that had already irremediably darkened
his very life.

How changed was Torelli's face! One could hardly have told his
age; his lips were parted and burning like a man consumed with
tormenting thirst, his cheeks thin and hollow, and often bathed with
perspiration. The fatal passion, planted like a dagger in his heart,
had given birth to so many disorders of his nervous system, that the
slightest emotion would cause him to tremble from head to foot, for
many minutes; his veins were swollen, and at every slight movement
his breast would heave as if about to burst; a continual anxiety
tortured him: when any sudden light burst upon him, myriads of sparks
or a dizzy mist would veil his eyesight; he had a painful beating
in his temples, his food was distasteful to him, his nights were
sleepless, or full of frightful dreams. Such misery could not, and
did not last.

It was the evening of a most beautiful day in June: the last rays of
the setting sun bathed half the globe in a clear golden light, and
when this light died away five brilliant rays were diffused over the
blue canopy of heaven, representing to the awakened fancy the hand of
the Creator, peacefully extended to bless all nature: the triumphal
leaves of the laurel, the pointed myrtle, the dented oak, and all
the multiform family of trees seemed so distinctly outlined on this
glorious field, that one might almost have counted them: the evening
wind stirred the topmost branches, which, swaying to and fro, seemed
as if interchanging mysterious words; the birds, before closing their
eyes to sleep, sang, with the sweetest notes that nature teaches,
and that nature alone can teach, a hymn to the Lord; the rivulet,
breaking over the stones, did not seem to weep, but to murmur
joyfully in its noisy babbling; sweet odors arose from the open
chalices of the flowers; with all the powers granted by heaven to
created things, the sky, the earth, and the waters seemed vieing with
each other in testifying their gratitude towards the Great Father of
the universe, and an enchantment sprang from all, and a voice arose,
which seemed to say,--We are born to love!

Isabella had come out upon the terrace, and sitting there, leaned her
arm upon Lelio's shoulder, and supported her face upon her hand; her
eyes uplifted, she seemed a Niobe, or rather a penitent Magdalen,
as the noble imagination of Guido afterwards conceived her. This
attitude of prayer, of mute sorrow, and of weary peace was almost
unearthly to look upon: misfortune had indeed faded her beauty; the
slow fever that consumed her life veiled it in a sad cloud, but still
her brow appeared, as ever, of wonderful loveliness--beautiful as
that of a fallen angel!

She gazed upon the heavens, and Lelio upon her, for in the lady's
face he saw his heaven; and thus he remained absorbed and motionless
as a statue; his eyes were filled with tears, that flowed abundantly
down his cheeks without anguish or any other sensation; as I have
sometimes seen the dew gathered in the hollow of some statue's eyes,
so that it seemed to be weeping; then his tears ceased to flow,
his eyes became dry and dilated, glittering with an evil light, a
tremor like the chill of a fever spread through him; suddenly, scarce
knowing what he did, overcome by a power stronger than himself, he
threw his arms round Isabella, and covered her face, neck, and bosom
with kisses, with such convulsive madness, such great passion, that
in truth it was deserving of pity, for one would have said,--This
youth pours out his soul in these kisses.

Isabella, taken for a moment by surprise, resumed the haughtiness of
her offended dignity, and more than dignity, her royal pride, and
trembling herself, but from intense scorn, pushed the young page
violently from her, and unlocked her arm from his; then without a
word, her eyes sparkling, she walked to her room that opened upon
the terrace: Lelio, trance-like, followed her, as if unconscious of
what he had done. Isabella quickly approached a table, and took a
little silver bell resolutely in her hand; then paused suddenly, as
if "at war 'twixt will and will not;" already a milder thought seemed
to bloom amid this storm of passion, although anger predominated; as
we sometimes see the fury of the winds striving with the fury of the
waves; but when the wind is calmed, and the glorious light of the sun
again shining forth, the roaring of the angry and turbulent billows
still continues. After some hesitation, the first impulse conquered,
and she rang the bell twice, once was not enough; a valet appeared,
to whom the Duchess said:--"Send the major-domo."

The major-domo, after some delay, entered to receive the commands
of the Duchess. Don Inigo was a Spaniard by birth, as faithful
and discreet as a good Toledo blade; he never laughed, beyond
what was absolutely necessary; one hardly heard him speak three
words in a month; robust in form, haughty in aspect, bilious in
temperament,--who knows what ever passed in the mind of such a man?
He was as secret as the grave.

"My Lady," he said, bowing.

"Don Inigo, our page, Lelio, has expressed a wish to return to the
home of his aged parents, and it does not seem right in us to oppose
so natural a desire. His mother, poor woman! who knows with how
many prayers she recalls him, and it would seem cruelty to refuse
her this consolation. She will see her son improved in every kind
of accomplishment that is required in a gentleman; she will see him
honorable, honest, and, above all, innocent, and may he be the
pride of her life. Don Inigo, you will accompany Lelio to Fermo, and
say to his parents that he has always been a good and honest page,
that he leaves with us the loving memory of a son, that in anything
wherein my influence can aid him, it shall be my pleasure to exert
it: assure his mother especially that depraved habits have no power
over him, that I complain of nothing in the youth, except certain
boyish faults, too bold, but which time will surely remedy, because
they are boyish ones; nevertheless, I advise her to select from among
the young ladies of Fermo, one who, by her beauty, her sweet manners,
and tender love, may subdue a spirit of too much ardor, a heart that
is not without some passion. You will take with you, Inigo, his
white jennet, with all its crimson-velvet trappings, his clothes,
and everything that belongs to him, so that nothing of his may
remain with us, that we have given him or intend to give. From the
wardrobe of the Duke, our husband, select a chain, and a medallion
to be affixed to his cap, and put it in his valise; also a hundred
gold sequins, and an ample certificate showing his valued services,
which you will sign and seal with our ducal signet. If the youth
should not be well, take one of our coaches, and in our name take
the post-horses, which will be given you, and set out at any rate.
Tomorrow's sun must not see you in Florence. Adieu!"

She then raised her right hand, and gave the signal with which pride
waves humility to depart. But, as if anxious to soften the harshness
of the act, she added:

"Go, Lelio, we shall ever wish you happiness, and be most glad to
hear of your prosperity."

Don Inigo could not understand the necessity of wasting so many
words upon so small a matter, deeming the word--"Go," sufficient;
except what was requisite concerning the horse, the sequins, the
medallion and chain; but, before troubling himself with all this
conversation, he had resolved not to pay any attention to it. Lelio,
with downcast face, his body bent, as if broken by the weight of
sorrow that was laid upon him, followed the major-domo like a
criminal following the executioner who leads him to death.

Isabella gazed after him, until the door closed and hid him from her
sight, then striking both hands upon her head, exclaimed:

"Ah, unfortunate woman that I am! How many are made unhappy for me!"

Isabella remained alone in the room, which was her bridal chamber.
The room was divided into two parts; one had three windows looking
upon a spacious terrace, and hung with green damask curtains,
embroidered with the Medici and Orsini arms; around the room, at
equal distances, were some medallions in bas-relief of marble in
large gilded frames, representing portraits of different members of
the family; two doors opposite each other, at the further extremity
of the room, had large pilasters of marble, and over each door a
triangular cornice, in the centre of which stood a bust made of
different kinds of marble, the head being white, the remainder
variegated, while the door beneath was hung with two curtains fringed
with gold; in the corners were two large blue Chinese, or rather
Japanese, vases, with large carved heads for handles, and other
ornaments of silver, most skilfully worked; placed against the walls
were two ebony cabinets beautifully inlaid with mother of pearl; the
chairs and benches were also of ebony, covered with green damask;
in the centre of the room stood a table of ebony and silver of the
same workmanship as the cabinets. The first section terminated in an
arch, which sprung from a cornice supported by columns, the bases
and capitals of which were of gilded bronze of the Corinthian order,
but the twisted shafts were fluted and girded round with wreaths
of bronze myrtle leaves; the entrance of the alcove was covered by
curtains of damask. In this alcove was the bed, of immense size,
and loaded, rather than ornamented, with carvings of little cupids,
leaves, fruits, and feathers enough to bewilder one who lay beneath
them; to describe the quantity of furniture, ornaments, and articles
of all kinds, would be wearisome; it is sufficient for us to know,
that by the bedside stood a table upon a pedestal two feet high, with
the crucifix and the Madonna upon it on one side, and St. John on the
other; this table, by means of certain springs, turned upon hinges
fixed in the wall, disclosing a secret door, which led by a winding
staircase to some rooms on the ground floor, little frequented by the
servants.

The shadows of night had rested long upon the earth, before Isabella
called her maid and ordered her to light the lamp upon the table,
and then to retire. Having asked if she should not assist her in
undressing, Isabella answered shortly, "I will do it myself;"--and
again dismissing her, went to the door and drew the bolt, so that no
one could enter.

A prey to her own thoughts, she began to pace the room, with steps
now slow, now rapid: she stopped for a moment and gazed at the lamp.
Of singular workmanship, it recalled ornaments, men, and times
of which we have but an uncertain account; it was of bronze, and
presented in front an elephant's head, from whose uplifted trunk
issued the flame; seen in profile, it was a swan, whose neck leaning
on the breast, formed the handle; the foot was a Medusa's head with
the mouth open, through which the oil was poured in; beneath was
another large head, which, with the other parts of the lamp, formed
an ingenious whole. Isabella, looking intently at it, thought less
of the ruin of the people to whom it had belonged, than of her
mother, who had given it to her, together with many other Etruscan
antiquities found at the excavations made at Castiglione della
Pescaia. Eleonora of Toledo was indeed a woman of cruel temperament,
proud spirit, and by nature little disposed to pardon; yet the
mother's heart must have been touched to have seen her deserted
daughter, now, by the departure of Lelio, entirely deprived of any
friend on whom to rely. Isabella endeavored to collect her wandering
thoughts, in order to lead them to solve the present difficulty, but,
like unbridled horses, they overcame her reasoning powers, and roved
hither and thither in a thousand different directions, as her varying
emotions agitated her brain; she wearied herself with seeking, but
her mind lay extended before her, barren of any means of safety,
as an African desert appears destitute of any tree or shelter to a
caravan.

Tired of this state of mind she finally moved towards the bed; she
raised the drapery of the alcove, and passed within, letting it fall
behind her: the bed, neat beyond all comparison, had white sheets
from the looms of Holland, trimmed with Malines lace, and a dimity
counterpane embroidered with exquisite skill; her careful maid had
scattered fresh roses and orange blossoms upon it, so that it seemed
indeed a nuptial couch. Isabella folded down the sheet, as one does
when opening a bed to lie down; she went no further, however, but
stood motionless near it.

"Behold," she said, after gazing at it for some time, "my nuptial
bed is as pure and fresh as on my bridal night; it is as white, as
soft as the breast of a swan; yet is not the miserable pallet of
a beggar less contaminated in the eyes of God than this? Upon my
pillow are two sharp points, and whether I turn to the right or to
the left, they pierce my temples;--they are adultery and murder; for
these two thoughts are twin-born, and I know it. Here at the head of
the bed, stands a demon, against whom holy water is of no avail; he
flaps his wings, and showers down upon the sleeper feverish dreams
and fearful fancies. Yet here I once had nights of heavenly rest;
here I was first honored with the title of mother; here taking my
rest, I have thought that should my sleep be eternal, my soul might
hope to be received as a guest in the celestial mansions. I remember
the moment when Giordano led me here from the altar, and pointing to
the bed, said:--'My wife, I intrust this bed to you, and with it my
honor, and the good name of my house. I, often employed on distant
embassies, or in the army, cannot always be by your side to counsel
and assist you: assume a manly spirit for the time, and learn to
depend upon yourself; know that there is nothing so necessary for
yourself, so acceptable to God, so grateful to me, and so honorable
to the children that may be born to us, as your chastity, for the
virtue of the wife is a crown of glory to the husband; the mother's
virtue is the best dowry she can give her daughters, for a gentleman
always asks, and with good reason, whose daughter is the woman whom
he seeks for wife; virtue in all women is more precious than beauty,
for without virtue and without modesty, there can be no beauty,--or
it quickly passes away. A lovely face may be praised, but lascivious
eyes make it odious with shame and dishonor, pale with grief and
wickedness of mind. A beautiful form, a handsome face pleases; but
a bold gesture, a dishonorable act of incontinence, quickly renders
it ugly and vile. Dishonor is hateful to God, and He is a severe
judge of unchastity in women: it renders them infamous, scorned,
and ill-satisfied throughout their lives. Nevertheless would you
fly every appearance of dishonor, my wife, show yourself virtuous
to all, do nothing displeasing to God, to yourself, to me, and to
our children, and you shall have praise and gratitude from all.'
Should Giordano now come to me, and ask:--'How have you followed my
counsels? How kept your vows?' Would not my blushes speak for me?
These walls, this furniture, and above all, these holy images would
cry with one voice:--We are polluted! We are polluted! Should I or
could I, putting aside all shame, ask him in my turn: 'How have you
kept yours?' The guilt of others, though it may take away their
right of accusing, does not therefore excuse one's own guilt; and
when a woman flies to the arms of another than her husband, hate for
her husband then arises, she cares no longer for her children, and
she dissolves her family ties, which in the husband, compared to
the wife, are far less palpable. Besides that, children of shame
in a house are an everlasting mark of disgrace, and they cannot be
expelled, at least not without difficulty, by law, although they are
banished from the heart by hate, give rise in the mind to the wish to
put them out of the way, or are regarded as enemies, and persecuted
by the other children, looked upon as robbers of their substance,
punished, degraded, so that the troubled spirit of the mother knows
not whether to wish that they should preserve a life so wretched, or
whether they had better die. This rarely or never happens in men's
faults, which are committed out of the house. The unfaithful wife
contaminates the minds of all; already she has sown the seeds of
discord; guilt has engendered crime, and she will reap the penalty
of it. Oh! That I had died before I lost my innocence! Or rather,
would that I had never been born! Isabella, thou art alone; throw
aside thy family pride, put off the haughty look that thy royal birth
imposes upon thee in the presence of thy people, and, since misery
and tears belong to the wretched, weep now, as thou canst, for thy
innocence, thy safety, thy children, and thy family, weep a deluge,
for perchance this necessity thou feelest for tears is the first
token that God in His mercy sends, to show that his anger is softened
towards thee!"

And weeping bitterly she sank on her face upon the bed, uttering
the saddest lament that ever woman made in this world. She had
lain thus for some time when she thought that she heard a noise of
footsteps outside of the alcove. She arose quickly, and lifting the
curtain saw, not without some wonder mingled with fear, Lelio Torelli
standing before her. Although a fatal foreboding oppressed her, yet
rendered bold by the pressing danger, she drew herself up before
him, saying--

"Wherefore are you come? What do you seek?"

"I come to demand of you my heart which you have broken, my life
which you have destroyed, my soul which you have lost."

"Ah! Lelio, have pity upon me; do not wish to increase my sorrows,
for they are already too heavy for me to bear."

"Have you felt pity for me? You have broken me like a flower that,
carelessly plucked from its stalk in the garden, you scarcely smell
and then throw away. Should a Christian's soul be cast aside like a
withered rose? Should a heart that beats but for you be trampled upon
like a stone? No, no; your cruelty has aroused mine, and I come"----

"For what, madman?"

"I come to ask your love and to redeem my former promise. I come to
seek the reward of past sufferings."

"You rave, boy. Of what promise do you speak? And who has caused you
suffering?"

"And the kisses, the smiles, the sweet words, the pressure of hands,
the soft glances--have you forgotten them? I could not forget them;
they have kindled in my bosom the flame that consumes me. But what
are words? What necessity is there of speaking? The lip is more
powerless than any other part of the body to testify love; it says
one thing alone; but the face, the eyes, reveal a thousand affections
at once; and it is with all these caresses that you have promised me.
How could you, a woman of such great wisdom, believe my weak soul
strong enough to resist so much? Have pity on me. You ought to feel
compassion for a misery that is your own fault. Isabella, for God's
sake, a little love, one ray of love to this desperate"----

"What do I hear, Lelio? Do you not see that I am old enough to be
your mother."

"What is that to me? Your face is beautiful. When did man ever love
with a calendar in his hand? Of what consequence is time? All our
life is but the twinkling of an eye. Who knows whether the heavens
will cover the earth to-morrow? At least the present moment this
fleeting breath may be comforted with a little love. Have I not
deserved it?"

"Lelio, do you not know, do you not see that I am a wife?"

"Did that prevent you from giving yourself to another? Why make an
impediment with me of what did not exist for another? Will you be
chary of your affection to me when you have lavished it in such
abundance upon a man unworthy of it?"

"Hear me, Lelio. See, I will not be angry with you, but if this is
not enough, think of my eternal salvation."

"And if I should kill myself with my own hands; if I should be lost
through you, do you think that your soul could be saved if it were
the cause of my losing mine?"

"I have sinned, and I bear the penalty of my sin, and what you now
inflict upon me is no less bitter. You see me humbled before you.
Where is my pride? Behold I am a contrite sinner at the feet of my
servant. Leave me the virtue of repentance. Our souls, by penitence,
can become as pure as baptism makes them."

"You may repent afterwards; but now love me."

"I cannot love you."

"Then let yourself be loved."

"What shameless words, what importunities are these? Go, or I will
call the servants."

"Beware of attempting to do so, Isabella! I am determined to kill
myself and to kill"----

"Holy Mother of God, Lelio, have pity on your mother; think of your
own mother who is expecting you."

"My mother! Yes, cruel woman, you feel pity for my mother. You have
taken a son from her, and give her back a corpse. I know neither
mother, father, nor myself, none; you alone are my life, my blood.
Isabella, have mercy on Lelio; I am in your hands. Do you wish me to
be a hero? I will be one. A murderer? I will. Do you ask me to throw
myself down from the balcony which I scaled with such difficulty, to
come to you? I swear to do it; but intoxicate me once with your love;
say that you love me; one drop, only one drop to this burning lip."

"Oh! vengeance of God! How heavily it strikes me. My heart will break
with agony."

"Hear, whether or not I deserve your regard. When I saw your love for
Troilo I loved and was silent. That was not all. Not to wound you
I did not tell you how low you had placed your affections, nor how
the unworthy man was entangled with vulgar intrigues. For your sake
I concealed from the eyes of all his vain boasts. I endeavored no
less to veil your own indiscretion. You owe it to me that the report
of your intrigue has not reached the Duke's ears. I surrounded you
with mystery, I watched over you by night and by day. When Troilo
came creeping in the dead of night to your chamber, I followed him
with noiseless steps. I could have killed him without difficulty,
and God knows how often the temptation assailed me; yet I did not
do it, thinking of the grief that you would have felt. Therefore I
went with him; I guarded him; I frightened the servants with tales
of a midnight ghost, so that none dared to pass through the rooms
before daylight; and I posted myself to watch outside the door,
heedless of sleep or cold, to save you from surprise, to which your
own imprudence often laid you open. Imagine what I felt when I heard,
after a long interview, the tender adieus, sweet kisses, and promises
to meet again the next night! All this I did, and all this I bore
for your love; and I would have suffered still in silence if you had
loved him still. But now you know him--you know him to be your enemy;
you have more to fear from him than from any one, and you do fear
him; and when I pray you now to love me, to accept me as what you
most need, a protector, a slave--in short, everything for your----"

"Lelio, my son, be calm; I, with deep blushes, understand the depth
of your love; even after death, I will preserve a memory of you;
you love more than men usually do; but listen to the prayer of one
fallen into a gulf of misery; listen as if your mother was speaking;
have pity upon me, hear the prayer a dying woman makes you from her
inmost heart, for I know that I have not long to live, nor does the
knowledge grieve me. Some day you will be glad that you showed me
mercy: on your death-bed, when the mind's eye sees life passing away,
when the soul pants in doubt whether, in its search, it can discern
a hope of salvation, the holy deed you now do me, will then shine
forth, like the pillar of fire and cloud before the Israelites, to
unveil to you the path to Heaven. Time will heal this wound; perhaps
God tempts your virtue, to see if it will not come forth victorious,
and already prepares a reward equal to your merits; the angels
themselves now guard you. Do not be unworthy of what Heaven promises
you. A good and virtuous wife and honored children in this life; and
lasting fame and immortal glory after death."

"Siren! Enchantress! Sorceress! Who can deny you the gift of
imagining or improvising vanities? Go, your heart is more bronze than
is this lamp. Now that you fear falling into the power of others,
you speak flattering words; before, in the presence of Inigo, you
threatened and scorned, nor do I know whether you are more humble now
than you were then insolent. For then you railed at me like a child;
how presumptuously you chid me, as if you had not likewise derived
your origin from Adam; nothing that ever belonged to me, would you
consent to keep near you; you desired to erase me from your memory,
and if you could safely, from life; with the greatest insults you
threw the necklace of your husband about my neck, like the rope of
a criminal, and a handful of money to heal the bleeding wounds of a
broken heart. Ah! Let me silence for once the love that I feel for
so mean, so base, so unfeeling a woman. The sight of others' cruelty
makes me cruel. Why do I wait longer? Why not fly to declare your
infamy to the Duke? Why not give myself at least the pleasure of
seeing you hurled into the tomb by a dishonored and bloody death?"

"Go, accuse me."

"No, I will not go and accuse you; I will kill you."

"Kill me then."

"Accuse you! kill you! And what good will that do me? Ah no,
Isabella! Your love, give me your love----"

"Back!"

"It is impossible! Impossible! You must be mine--one moment--then let
death come--and hell----"

Thus speaking, he advanced towards Isabella to seize her; she
retreated, and he followed. Isabella, breathless, saw no means of
escape; she tried to commend herself to God, but doubted whether
one so unworthy could be heard: she gave herself up for lost.
Suddenly, over the shoulder of the Duchess appears a long, glittering
blade; it comes quick as the lightning, and with one cruel thrust
penetrates the bosom of Lelio and passes through. He takes one step
back, clutching with upraised hands, like a drowning man, but cannot
utter a single word; only a few indistinct mutterings escape him;
the blood, gushing freely and foamingly from the wound, covers the
lamp, and extinguishes the light; in the darkness could be heard the
fall of the table, overturned by the force with which Torelli struck
it, and the tottering, the sinking; and rolling on the floor of the
unhappy man.

A cry burst from Isabella, so full of despairing agony, that it would
have drowned any which Lelio could have uttered, if his heart, so
horribly cleft in twain, had not deprived him at the same moment both
of speech and life; and she then fell senseless to the floor, so that
the spirit seemed to have left her also.

Isabella remained insensible for a long time; afterwards, when
partially recovered, a voice seemed to reach her ears, a woman's
voice, that of a weeping woman, which said: "Give me back my son:"
and, as she could not reply, for her tongue refused its utterance,
she seemed to hear the same voice add: "Be accursed! The blood of her
who has caused blood to be shed shall be shed." Then Lelio seemed to
appear before her with a vacant stare, a frightful wound, his face
stained, and his hair matted with blood and dust, and fixed himself
before her, but spoke not a word; for although she saw that he tried
to move as if to articulate, he only succeeded in giving vent to a
labored groan, and gathering within the hollow of his hand the dark
blood oozing from his wound he cast it at her like a curse! Then
Isabella recovered, and tried to sit up: at first, she did not dare
to unclose her eyes; but at last, stimulated by courage or fear, she
succeeded in opening them. What was this! She was lying in her own
bed; the table was in the middle of the room, and the bronze lamp was
burning, but with a pallid light. She sprang from her bed, took the
lamp and fixed her eyes anxiously upon it, but saw no trace of blood
in any of its cavities, nor even any trace that it had been washed
off and dried, nor did it even seem as if it had been refilled with
oil. With the lamp in her hand, although hesitatingly, she approached
the mirror to see if her face were stained with blood, but it was
the same as usual; she examined the table, the floor, but behold,
all was as neat and dry as was wont. She knew not what to think;
she floated in a tempest of fancies, and said to herself: "I have
certainly dreamed:"--and as we are ever inclined to believe what is
most agreeable and advantageous, so Isabella said again, "It was a
dream; a fearful dream indeed! Who knows how many miles distant poor
Lelio is by this time!" She had almost persuaded her mind to doubt
the atrocious event.

She opened the windows, and knew by the glimmering dawn that the
_Ave Maria_ of the morning drew near, and soon after, the chapel
bell confirmed this thought; and when the _Ave Maria_ was ended, and
the bell still continued to call to mass, she thought that she would
go and pray to God and His Saints that a little comfort might be
granted to her, so guilty, it is true, but so immeasurably unhappy.
The wretched feel the need of prayer. She arranged her hair with her
own hands, dressed herself in a dark dress, and went alone to the
neighboring chapel.

Formerly it was the custom to bury in churches; we therefore find
the pavement covered with tombstones, in the centre of which are
round locks, often formed of bronze rings. Upon these tombstones are
sculptured the coats of arms in bas-relief (an impediment to the
feet), and the statues of the deceased, with arms crossed on their
breasts, wrapped in large cloaks, as if they were sleeping, and
the inscriptions which record the virtues of those lying beneath;
although they testify oftener to the piety or pride of the living
than to the virtues of the dead.

Isabella had reached one of these tombstones, and there stood
motionless, just where the lock opens, to assist at the divine rites,
till the moment when the priest utters the mysterious words which
have power to bring the God of Heaven down to earth; then following
the example of the rest, and more her own impulse, she fell upon her
knees, bending low in a reverent posture of humility; but the ground
suddenly shook beneath her, and the fear of falling into the tomb
caused her to stretch forth her hands to support herself by some
person or object. She felt an arm, and grasped it tightly; somewhat
reassured, she looked up through the darkness, and recognised Troilo
as her supporter, and in a low tone said to him:

"Alas! God makes the very earth tremble beneath our sacrilegious
feet!"

"It is nothing; the tomb was opened to-night. See, the mortar is not
yet dry."

Isabella thrust her hands into her hair, and bit her lips hard to
restrain a cry of anguish. Wild with horror, she fled precipitately
from the church; the deep shadows in the chapel sheltering her
movements from observation, prevented them from being detected.

It is said that this dreadful adventure caused part of Isabella's
hair to turn white; which, though I do not find it confirmed in the
Chronicles, I will not deny, as it is by no means incredible, for it
has happened from much less terrible causes.

Indeed, when the sentence of death was read to Marie Antoinette,
Queen of France, her hair became white; and this was a greater
reason.[13] When Ludovico Sforza il Moro fell into the power of Louis
XII., thinking of the heavy offences done to that king, his hair grew
white in the course of a single night;[14] the Lord of Andelot was
seated, leaning his head upon his hand when he received the news of
the punishment of his brother commanded by the Duke of Alba, as an
accomplice of the Counts Egmont and Horn; and all that part of the
beard and eyebrow which was touched by his hand, changed color, and
looked as if flour had been sprinkled upon it;[15] and this seems
perhaps an equal reason. Lastly, Guarino, learning that one of the
chests of Grecian manuscripts had been lost, which he had collected
with such great trouble in Constantinople, to be carried into Italy,
was so disheartened, that his hair, from black, turned instantly
white,[16] and this was a lesser motive. But souls are diverse, and
mortal events affect differently different minds.[17]

  [13] The Prisoner of Chillon. Byron.

  [14] Abrégé de Mézeray.

  [15] Montaigne, _Voyage en Italie_, t. i.

  [16] Sismondi, _Literature of the South_, vol. i.

  [17] Sunt lacrymæ rerum, et mentes mortalia tangunt.--_Æneid._



CHAPTER V.

PASQUINO.

DON LOPEZ.

    Valgame el cielo! que es esto
    Por que pasan mis sentidos?
    Alma, que habeis eschuchado?
    Ojos, que es lo que habeis visto?
    Tan pùblica es ya mi afrenta
    Que ha llegado a los oidos
    Del Rey, que mucho si es fuerza
    Ser los postreros los mios?
    Hay hombre mas infelice!

    CALDERON DE LA BARCA. _A Secreto Agravio Secreta Vengansa._

    Help me, Heaven! What can it be
    That my maddened senses see?
    Soul, what sounds thy powers affright?
    Eyes, what scene hath cursed your sight?
    Published now is my disgrace,
    Known and read in every place;
    E'en the king hath heard I my name
    Blasted by the breath of shame,
    Last of all the damning word,
    Wretched man! by me is heard.


Ernando, or Ferdinando dei Medici, was an excellent Prince, and of
noble mind; as the fourth son of Cosimo, he was far from the hopes of
the throne. He knew not what destiny lay before him, hidden in the
future, but he was certain that it was not so distinguished a lot as
his great ambition craved, since Francesco was to succeed his father
in the dukedom, Giovanni wore a Cardinal's hat, and Garzia held the
Admiralty. This state of inactivity oppressed him so deeply, that he
grew sick. When afterwards the accident happened to Cardinal Giovanni
and Don Garzia,[18] the father, Cosimo, very eager to provide for
the establishment of his family, exerted his influence in the Court
of Rome and obtained the transfer of Giovanni's hat to the head of
Ferdinando. He was lying sick in bed when, with solemn ceremony,
the red hat was presented to him, and so powerful was the action of
gratified ambition upon the heart of this youth of fourteen, that
from that very day he became convalescent, and very soon regained his
usual health.[19] Being sent to Rome with paternal instructions and
assisted by men skilful in the management of affairs, not only did he
maintain, but succeeded in increasing at that Court, the influence
of his house, which was already great. And in truth, the histories
of the times relate that Pasquino often published satires, in which
was written: _Cosmus Medices Pontifex Maximus_.[20] Besides the great
political skill of Cosimo, his good fortune, in this as in everything
else, availed him no little, for Giovanni Angiolo dei Medici being
chosen Pope, although he was in no way related to the family of
the Medici of Florence, yet, to please his own vanity, he wished to
have it supposed so; hence, with this object, he lavished incredible
favors upon the family of Cosimo, electing Giovanni a Cardinal,
yielding to him his own hat, giving him his palace and garden, and
promising to regard him as a son; and so ardent was he in carrying
out this idea that he even wrote to Cosimo: "Your concerns we hold as
our own, desiring that ours should be also yours, and that we should
always give and receive help from each other, and there will always
be between us one heart and one mind."[21]

  [18] The young Cardinal Giovanni dei Medici died suddenly, at
  Rosignano, a castle of the Maremma, while hunting with his
  brother, Don Garzia, in 1562. It was said, however, that the
  Cardinal had been murdered by his brother, for very soon after,
  Don Garzia himself died suddenly, and it was reported that he was
  killed by his father, Cosimo, in order to avenge the Cardinal's
  death.

  [19] Galluzzi, _History of the Grand Duchy_, vol. ii. p. 271.

  [20] Galluzzi, ibid., vol. ii, and Ammirato, last vol.

  [21] Galluzzi, ibid., vol. ii.

Ferdinando increased this ascendency, partly through the sagacity
and good fortune of his father, partly by his own generous patronage
of the fine arts and letters, although these were then somewhat on
the decline, and partly by the bold readiness which he manifested
on difficult occasions. Of this a remarkable instance occurs in
the manuscript memoirs, which I ought not to pass over in silence,
namely: going on a certain day, when he was Cardinal, to pay his
homage to Pope Pius V., in the act of bowing before him, he showed
a strong iron cuirass which he wore under the red dress. The Pope
noticing it, said pleasantly to him: "Richard Plantagenet, while
warring against his barons, took prisoner a bishop, who, armed with
mail, had fought against him more than any of his enemies. The Pope
interfering, begged Richard to restore this son of his to liberty;
but Plantagenet sent back to the Pope the bishop's cuirass, with the
words spoken by the sons of Jacob when they showed him the bloody
garment of Joseph: 'Know now whether this be thy son's coat or
no.' Cardinal dei Medici, what dress is that you wear under your
cardinal's robe?" And Ferdinando, striking his breast and making his
armor resound, replied proudly: "Most blessed Father, this is the
garment suitable to a great prince."

But more than for all these things is the Cardinal to be praised for
the wonderful constancy with which, in spite of the great bitterness
which his brother Francesco caused him, he strove always to promote
the welfare of his family; and indeed Francesco gave him daily and
strong reasons to be dissatisfied with him, by avariciously refusing
to advance him money on his pensions, of which, on account of his
excessive liberality, he was often in need, and by entangling
himself more and more with the love of the Venetian courtesan. When
the ill-humor of the people reached its climax, on account of the
insane conduct of Francesco, who did not blush, while accompanying
the funeral of his wife Giovanna, to take off his hat and salute
Bianca, as she was looking on from a balcony in the Conti palace,[22]
and who, while the ashes of the royal lady were yet scarcely cold,
secretly married the woman who had certainly shortened her days,
Ferdinando retired to Rome, there to labor for the prosperity and
honor of his house.

  [22] Morbio, _History of the Italian Communalities_, p. 27.

When afterwards destiny willed that he should ascend the throne
of Tuscany, he dismissed the evil counsellors of his brother, and
set himself earnestly to the task of rendering his subjects happy.
We meet with no public building, nor hospital, nor charitable
institution, with which there is not associated the name of
Ferdinando, either as the founder or promoter; but since it is easier
to build a city than to create a sentiment of nationality, so he was
not able to raise the fallen spirits of his people, nor perhaps did
he wish to do so, or rather it was an end impossible to be attained
by one holding, as he did, the rank of prince, which he would not
and could not relinquish. He endeavored, notwithstanding, to relieve
Italy from the Spanish yoke, and wrote boldly to the several Italian
states, that, laying aside all petty rivalry, they should join him,
and vindicate their liberties, but such was the degradation into
which they had fallen, that he could not succeed, even in this;
and perhaps all attempts would have been vain, since there happen
to nations, as well as to individuals, certain moments of agony in
which neither motion nor quiet avails, and whilst the latter does
not prevent death, the former hastens it. It is true, however, as
I thought once, and still believe, that neither a God nor a nation
can remain in the sepulchre; Christ remained in it only three days,
but perchance the days of nations are composed of centuries. And the
Italian princes, in Ferdinando's time, consented to live, act, and
breathe at the will of Spain; to her they extended their hands in
supplication, on her lips and her looks they hung. Great Heaven! what
miserable beings were those princes, who, like the mendicant asking
a penny, begged the liberty to do evil of others, of shaving, as a
most witty genius used to say, at second-hand! How contemptible did
they seem, the agents, as one might say, of the right of life and
death! Or rather, negro slave-drivers, with whips in their hands.
But enough of this; Ferdinando was not able to accomplish his noble
object, which was to contract an alliance with France; for Henri IV.
did not act in any degree differently from the nature of the French,
who, "when a favor is asked of them, think first what advantage they
themselves may derive from it; when they cannot do you good, they
promise it, and when they can, they do it reluctantly or never;[23]
a people instinctively greedy of others' possessions, and to whom
theft comes as naturally as breathing."[24] And strangest of all,
the French, fickle in everything, have always shown a singular
persistency in this habit, of which even Julius Cæsar gives a proof
in his histories. The marriage of Maria dei Medici, daughter of
Francesco, to Henri IV., brought about at such an enormous cost, and
at the expense of so many sacrifices on the part of Ferdinando, was
to strengthen the ties of friendship and blood between France and the
Medicis, first formed by the marriage of Catherine; but banished from
France, expelled from the house and presence of her son, deprived of
everything, she perished miserably at Cologne, and the pity of the
painter Rubens gave her burial. Mark what human judgment is, in the
power of fortune, which governs it at will!

  [23] Machiavelli, _On the Nature of the French_.

  [24] Machiavelli, _Sketches on French Affairs_.

Such was Ferdinando dei Medici, and it will not displease my readers,
I hope, that I have described him somewhat at length. Besides, I
have noticed that most novel writers expatiate upon the appearance,
and so much more upon the dress of their personages, as to seem a
race of tailors; if you desire to know how Ferdinando dressed and
looked, I refer you to the Arsenal at Leghorn, where you will see
his marble statue upon a pedestal around which are bound four bronze
slaves; to Pisa in the Lungarno at the head of the via Santa Maria,
where his marble effigy seems desirous to raise fallen Pisa, which
being of marble cannot entirely rise, and remains thus, half-erect,
half-falling; and to the square of the Santissima Annunziata, in
Florence, where towers pompously his equestrian statue cast of the
bronze _plundered from the fierce Thracian_, as it is written under
the strap of the saddle. I thought best at this time to describe
his nature and habits; if I was mistaken, or have displeased you, I
entreat pardon, and continue my history.

It was Easter morning. A magnificent cavalcade issued from the Medici
palace, and rode in state through the streets of Rome. Cardinal
Ferdinando was going to pay his respects to the Pope, Gregory XIII.
He rode on a white horse, ornamented with crimson velvet, with large
tassels of red silk, while the flanks of his steed were almost
covered by his cardinal's cloak; by his side rode Paolo Giordano
Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, dressed in Spanish costume, upon a fiery
Roman horse, and conversing familiarly with him of matters of little
importance, as far as could be judged, for the Cardinal seemed to
pay slight attention to him, and only from time to time nodded his
head. Behind them came the gay and noisy suite of the Duke, and that
of the Cardinal, which was far more splendid; for he, following the
promptings of his most generous nature, was accustomed to maintain
in state not less than three hundred gentlemen, courtiers, and men
renowned for some talent. To tell the truth, rather than the grave
retinue of a Cardinal, it resembled the troops of masqueraders, who
in carnival time run merry-making through the town; they were either
talking, or vieing with each other in managing their horses, making
them change their pace every moment, caracol, curvet, or trot, and
exchanging soft glances, smiles, and sometimes even salutes with the
ladies who stood on the balconies. A rose descended through the air,
and the ringing laughter of women was heard, as it fell upon the
white mane of the Cardinal's horse; but although people raised their
eyes quickly, no one could discern whence it came, for the windows
of the houses on both sides of the street were apparently shut. Such
license was in some measure attributable to the times, and a little
to the easy disposition of the Cardinal, who, young, powerful, and
bound by no sacred order, was more lenient in love affairs than was
becoming to his dignity; and the courtiers, as we see happening every
day, took excessive advantage of the laxity of their master, sure
that if ever the Cardinal took it into his head to reprove them, he
would begin with a severe countenance and end with a pleasant smile.

After the cavalcade, followed a crowd of the lower classes, who
applaud and disapprove equally without reason, and who are always
destined, whether cheering or hooting, to be stricken down, until
some day, wearied of hurrahing or hissing, they in their turn take
the notion of striking, and then, may God guard us in His holy
keeping! However, they take this notion but seldom, and the passage
of the powerful through the midst of them, is like that of the
swallow among the insects of the air--it eats and flies.

Thus passing from street to street, the _cortège_ arrived at the
corner of the palace Caracciolo Santo-buono, upon the ruins of which,
in modern times, the palace Braschi has been built. There stood at
that time Marforio and Pasquino.

What is Marforio? and what is Pasquino?

Marforio is a recumbent colossal statue of the ocean, found in the
Forum of Mars, whence it derives its name. Clement XII. had it
transported to the capitol, and here it shows itself proudly to the
passers-by. Pasquino is a plebeian statue. A worthy artisan, before
whose shop it was found, gave it the name; it is mutilated and of
doubtful identity; yet all seem to have agreed in baptizing it a
_torso_ of Ajax: at any rate, it represents a human being, neither
a God nor a demigod; and although its merits far surpass those of
Marforio, fortune has treated it very differently, for instead of
the honors of the Capitol it came very near being thrown into the
Tiber. It was Adrian VI. who raised so bitter a persecution against
it; and that he did not succeed we must thank the witty courtier
who persuaded him, that from that trunk buried in the mud there
would arise more voices than from a whole nation of frogs. And
behold how the injustice of man is manifested even in the very busts
and marbles; Marforio in the Capitol, like a triumphant captain,
Pasquino, hardly escaped the Tiber, and having survived so fearful
a danger, happy if he be allowed to remain walled in the corner
of the Braschi palace. Marforio, according to the custom of the
fortunate, "_for whomsoever fortune exalts she first plunges into
Lethe_,"[25] no longer remembers past times; having been made a lord,
and splendidly lodged, he has become a courtier and is silent, or if
he sometimes speaks, he does it cautiously, and although a colossus
of marble, he treads as lightly as if he were walking on eggs; he
almost flatters; but Pasquino, without head, arms, or legs, exposed
to the winds and rain, has retained his sympathy with the people, and
always talks, satirizes, and never loses his jest happen what may;
after all, worse cannot happen to him than losing his head, arms,
and legs. The fair fame of Marforio, however, has been diminished,
while Pasquino, on the contrary, has never known any decline of
popularity. Marforio is a deserter, but Pasquino threw away his
legs so as not to fly; hence the people have forgotten Marforio and
increased their love for Pasquino ten-fold. Marforio in the Capitol,
at the extremity of the court of the Capitoline Museum, accompanied
by the bronze satyrs found in the Theatre of Pompey, king of the
fountain over which he is placed, grows tired, and if an ocean of
marble could gape, he would. Pasquino, on the other hand, breathes
and lives and sympathizes with the people; and although headless,
speaks, reasons, and reviews accounts better than those who have
heads. Indeed, it is not certain that to live in this world there
is much need of a head; witness Pliny, who asserts that there are
headless people, called by him _Blemmii_, which, if it appeared a
marvellous thing at the time of that writer, has long since ceased
to astonish us. Pasquino often is a persecuted Nemesis, who hurls a
blow in the dark against the man who drinks the tears of the people,
and this blow strikes upon his brow more directly than the stone
from David's sling;--he is a Nemesis, who, collecting the bitter
water that springs in the countries of oppression, pours it into
the foaming wine of pride;--he is a Nemesis, who hides worms among
the flowers of vicious pleasures;--he is a Nemesis, who makes the
cruel fall into the open sepulchre while menaces yet burn upon his
lips;--he mingles darkness with terror, peoples dreams with phantoms,
fills pillows with remorse, gives a voice to the clod which conceals
the unknown crime, and persecutes life with affliction, death with
despair. But Pasquino's satires spring too often from human perfidy;
since there are people to whom nature has said, hate! as she has said
to the eagle, fly! and the man hates as the eagle flies. O Lord God,
why didst thou create the serpent that poisons, the wild beast that
devours, the upas that kills, and the man that hates? Behold, the
serene heaven is a torment for him, the splendid sun an offence, the
limpid lake a mockery, the tranquil mind an insult; he would wish for
the eye of the basilisk, the breath of the pestilence, the bitumen of
the asphaltum, the despair of Judas, to sadden the serenity of the
azure heaven, of the limpid waters, and of the innocent soul.

  [25] Che fortuna "qualunque estolle, il tuffa prima in
  Lete."--Ariosto, _Satires_.

Truth is the most brilliant sun in the diadem of God. In the days
of creation it should have been suspended as the only luminary in
the firmament. Truth ought to issue openly from the lips of men like
holy incense from golden censers. The work of darkness ought to
be consummated in darkness. Truth ought never to take the form of
falsehood. Why should it ever assume the semblance of calumny? The
heart of a coward may well become a fit resting-place for a nest of
vipers, but never the temple of truth. Truth ought to be preached in
the face of day from the lofty places, from the mountain-tops, from
the open shores of the sea. Truth ought to be declared before the men
who detest it, and before the judges who condemn it as they did the
innocent Socrates. Truth has been burned at the stake, and has sprung
like a Phoenix from its ashes; Truth has mounted the scaffold, and
returned to live in the severed limbs as the polyp lives again in the
broken fragments. Truth has never deceived nor flattered any one, for
she has said: "My name is martyrdom on earth and glory in Heaven; let
him who wishes follow me, I am a stern life-companion."[26]

  [26]

    Martirio in terra appellasi,
    Gloria si appella in cielo.

  _Beatrice Tenda_, by Tedaldi-Fores, a young poet who died in the
  flower of his youth.

"He that hath ears to hear let him hear;" I return to my story.

Pasquino, and also Marforio, who had not yet been promoted to the
Capitol, appeared on that solemn day in the plenitude of their
glory, decked all around with a halo of satires of all colors and
dimensions; crowds of people were standing reading them or hearing
them read, and the more bitter, satirical, and slanderous the words
were, the more fitted to sadden a heart, or to cause despair to an
immortal soul, the louder they laughed with every token of joy.

The cavalcade, seeing from afar such a magnificent show, exulted,
and had they not been restrained by respect would have rushed ahead
of the Cardinal; they closed together, endeavoring to decipher the
writings from where they were; some rose on their stirrups, some
shaded their eyes with their hands to read.

"Oh, he is dressed for a Sunday," said the courtiers; "Pasquino is
really celebrating Easter; we shall hear some good jokes; materials
are not wanting;" and so on, so that their voices might have been
heard a mile distant.

The Cardinal, passing near the dreaded statues, did not turn his head
nor even seem to glance at them. Not so the courtiers, who fell upon
it like pigeons in a field of grain, neither minding nor caring if
they knocked or trampled on the crowd, who sprang to the right and
left cursing and yelling like the frogs when a bull approaches the
margin of a pond. Why is it that this careless and noisy young crew
are suddenly silent? Imagine a flock of sparrows hovering over the
broad top of an oak, and chirping incessantly, fluttering through
the leaves with restless motions; but if suddenly a falcon appears,
soaring in wide circles near the tree, they become so silent and
still, that they seem as if struck by sudden death, and shrink and
fold their wings, and dare not fly from bough to bough, but seek
to hide themselves under the leaves: thus the abashed courtiers
continued on their route gravely and in silence.

Pasquino had poured forth a torrent of malignant satires against
the Cardinal, because he was reputed the most fortunate of all the
Cardinals. One of the pasquinades which was aimed at him ran as
follows: Marforio asked Pasquino, "Which is the mule that Medici
rides now?" And Pasquino answered, "He rides the mule of Farnese."
This alluded to the intrigue which, according to report, Ferdinando
had with Clelia, the daughter of Cardinal Farnese. But this could
be tolerated; those which appeared really infamous reflected upon
Francesco, Bianca, Isabella, her husband, Eleonora of Toledo, and Don
Piero de Medici, which, as being too shameful, we will abstain from
reporting.

The Cardinal had not turned his head; but, looking askance, he
perceived and read those vituperations; advancing his horse a step,
he kept the Duke of Bracciano so occupied in conversation that the
latter was not able to read a word. When it seemed to him the proper
time, he called to one of his retinue and gave him some orders in
a low voice. Hardly had the cavalcade turned the corner than the
officer turned impetuously back, spurring his horse. The crowd
had again collected, and were enjoying their brutal pleasure, and
praising Pasquino, voting him by acclamation a crown of laurel.
Without even saying, "take care," the officer dashed his horse into
the midst of the crowd, who again cleared the way, and struck right
and left with the butt-end of his halberd upon the head, shoulders,
or arms of those who were not quick enough to avoid him, and reaching
Pasquino he thrust his hand, armed with the iron gauntlet, with such
force against it that it shows the impression to this day; he made a
bundle of all the papers, and carried them off, departing with the
same fury with which he had come, without taking the least notice of
the crowd, who, as soon as they saw him at a sufficient distance,
raised their heads, still like frogs, and vented their anger in
screams and curses, like every brutal rabble; it ended, however, as
it always does, that he who received a bruise applied a plaster to
it, and he whose head was broken had it bound up.

The Cardinal, after having paid his homage to his Holiness, returned
home by a shorter road, and there closeting himself within his study
he wrote a letter to his brother, Francesco, without availing himself
of the assistance of his secretary, in which, saying nothing of
the insults that were deservedly aimed at both of them, he related
those published to the dishonor of their house, on account of the
intrigues of Isabella and Eleonora of Toledo, and advised him to use
all means he thought best to cause them to behave more modestly.
Having written the letter he gave it to a courier, ordering him to
start immediately for Florence, and as he valued his life to put the
letter into Francesco's own hands. This epistle reached Francesco
only too safely, and the remorse of the Cardinal was inexpressible,
when he found that it had caused the mournful events which form
the subject of this narrative; and, in truth, he was wrong, for he
ought not to have allowed himself to be overcome by hasty passion,
knowing as he did the cruel and fierce nature of his brother, his
dissimulation, his readiness to imbrue his hands in blood, and his
Spanish education, which led him to consider it a point of honor,
both in the husband and in the brother, to punish the guilt of the
wife or sister; and, moreover, that he had grown up at the Court
of Philip II., who, on account of his cruel disposition, had been
surnamed, even in his own times, the _Demon of the South_. Enough,
fate willed it thus, and perhaps it was not the first time, nor yet
the last, that Pasquino had caused blood and tears to be shed.

Francesco, on the receipt of the letter, read it twice, and placed
it carefully in his bosom, and no one could have discovered from his
pale and austere face, whether it brought good or bad news; then
turning to his sister and sister-in-law who were conversing together,
he said to them: "His Eminence Cardinal Ferdinando is well, and sends
his love to you."

A few days after, he sent back the same courier of the Cardinal to
Rome, with a letter, saying: "that he was very grateful for the
interest which he took in the welfare of their house, although
unfortunately it concerned a very disagreeable subject; begging him
to be assured that he would find a remedy for so much scandal, and in
such a manner that his Eminence should be satisfied; moreover, as the
case deserved grave consideration, he entreated him, as he had done
in all his other most important affairs, still to favor him with his
most prudent counsels."

Two or three hours after he had despatched this courier, he sent
another, ordering him to take off his livery, dress himself as a
trader, and thus go _incognito_ to Rome; when there to present
himself to Lord Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, to deliver
to him personally the letter which he gave him, and then to return
immediately without even stopping in Rome, for he wished his mission
there to remain perfectly secret. The letter ran thus:

   "Our most beloved brother-in-law, Duke of Bracciano.--On the
   reception of this, your Excellency will start without delay
   for Florence, accompanied by only one attendant, or two at the
   most. You will learn the motive of this summons, which is a
   most urgent one, from our own lips, it being a matter which
   cannot be intrusted to writing; in the meantime we inform you
   that this affair, although somewhat concerning us, regards
   particularly yourself, and the honor of your family. It would
   be best that you should acquaint no one of your departure, more
   especially the most eminent Cardinal Ferdinando, our brother.
   Travel _incognito_, studiously avoiding recognition; calculate
   your time so as to reach the Roman gate towards dark, both you
   and your servants wearing white feathers in your caps. You will
   find one who will admit both yourself and the attendants without
   giving names, and we shall await you at the palace.

   "May God keep you in His holy peace, etc."

The Duke, having read and well considered this letter, took his
handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the perspiration from his
forehead: then he began to walk up and down, read the letter once
more, and was much disturbed.

"I sold myself as a slave," he thought to himself, "to these
_parvenu_ merchants! I, a Roman prince! What lineage is theirs?
From what did they spring? When honorable barons, knights, and men
of great affairs honored my house, their ancestors were not worthy
to hold their stirrups.--_On the reception of this--with only one
attendant or two--studiously avoiding recognition--try to enter about
dark._--Thank Heaven! I am not your subject--order your own servants.
I shall not go; I am determined not to go, and I _will_ not."

And he began to walk up and down again. In the meantime an inward
voice, as if it came from a secret counsellor, humbled him, saying:
"But he is your brother-in-law, a crowned prince, who cannot come
to see you; he is very powerful and rich, having great authority at
the Court of Rome. Besides it concerns you, so that it seems only
just that you should go to him, and even thank him if he shows so
much interest in your welfare; add to that, he is educating your
son Virginio at his court, and will provide for him, since you can
rely very little on your own fortune, and in your poverty, in the
universal deluge of your debts, who but he can be an ark of safety
to you? O Bracciano! Bracciano! I fear that you will become the prey
of some fortunate merchant, who after taking your estates will take
your title also--and thus after having expelled your illustrious
race from the castle, will erase your name from the memory of men.
Hence it seems profitable to go, and keep on good terms with this
relation of mine, for the love of my debts. Love! I ought to have
said hate; but, blessed Saint Peter, how can I hate debts, since
they were my swaddling-clothes when I first came into this world,
and will be my winding-sheet when I depart from it! Bernia wrote an
essay on debt; he did wrong, he should have written an epic poem!
To Florence then--Titta! Saddle three good horses; we must travel.
You and Cecchino will go with me; take off your livery; put white
feathers in your caps, and do not forget the cloaks. It is but a duty
to take this poor Cecchino with me; I brought him away from Florence
when he was just married; and he would be glad to see his old mother
and wife again. I think that he would be grateful to me, or at least
I imagine so, and this thought does me good. These people enjoy
more than we do; they believe in love, and they love and see each
other with pleasure, and separate with sorrow--but I hardly remember
that I have a wife; indeed, Isabella is a most beautiful woman, of
lofty mind, and accomplished genius, and I have seemed truly to
care a great deal for all her merits! I think that I ought to be
very grateful if am not hated at home; it would be sufficient to be
forgotten."

If I am not mistaken, we may judge in some measure what Paolo
Giordano Orsini was by this soliloquy of his: like a pendulum, one
side vice, the other virtue, perfectly still and incapable of motion
by itself unless caused to oscillate by some external impulse.
Careless, prodigal, easily roused to anger, and as easily appeased;
but, imbued with the spirit of the times in which he lived, more
prone to cruelty than to compassion; and when he was instigated
by any one who knew how to incite him, we can imagine no enormity
in which he would not be ready to acquiesce. I will not say that
he resembled Claudius (who having caused the death of his wife
Messalina, sat down to dinner soon after, and inquired, forgetfully,
why the Empress did not come[27]); but after his bloody fits of
passion, that swayed him at their will, he would be overcome by such
oblivion of the crimes which he had committed, that they did not
disturb his sleep, nor did he either defer his banquets or forget his
balls, but would be as cheerful as if nothing had happened: he was
a dissimulator, not by premeditation, but by habit, and so much the
more dangerous, as his easy and frank manners gave one an assurance
of a sort of natural candor.

  [27] Suetonius, _Life of Claudius_.

He departed, then, from Rome, and arrived at Florence, where he was
received in the manner agreed upon, and was introduced soon after
into the palace.

Francesco was seated at table in company with Bianca, and no sooner
did he perceive the Duke, than he rose, courteously extending his
hand, and kissed him on both cheeks. After this greeting, the
Duke approached Bianca, who did not move, and bowing very low,
obsequiously kissed her hand.

Francesco, sitting down again, said:

"Giordano, you must be tired; but before you go to rest, sit down, I
beg of you, and take some refreshment with us; you see, we are _en
famille_."

The Duke, not waiting for another invitation, sat down beside
Francesco.

Never was a better opportunity presented to poet or romancer to
display his descriptive powers. Few courts at that time, or perhaps
even now, could boast the possession of such valuable plate as the
Medici; even more precious from its workmanship than its materials;
silver side-boards, vases, trays, pitchers, basins, cups, flasks, and
chandeliers, all wonderful to behold; but I pass them by, and confine
myself to that which is better suited to my subject.

The Duke, although accustomed to Roman profusion, was astonished at
the enormous abundance of viands, and observing more carefully, his
surprise was increased in considering the variety of the dishes:
there were sparrows minced very fine, and kneaded with yelks of
eggs and powdered sugar--Indian garlic and cresses--raw onions,
German radishes, scallions, and so forth; besides these there were,
preserved in beautiful bottles of thin glass, for seasoning, ginger,
black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and the like; in the midst stood a
pyramid of eggs, and on all sides little stews and dishes of strange
appearance; every variety of iced cheeses, in silver plates, etc.

As the dishes which he knew were not to his taste, the Duke tried
some of those which he did not know, and it was well he did, for
they were composed of breasts of grouse, pheasant, partridge, and
the like, but so highly seasoned as to burn his palate, and to bring
tears to his eyes; he called to mind Portia, who swallowed live
coals; he could not understand how a man could live upon such viands;
he asked frequently for drink to moderate the burning, but the drinks
which they gave him were so cold, that they made his teeth and head
ache; besides that, there were foaming and sparkling wines, such
as make one's brain turn after the second glass. It seemed to him
an infernal banquet, and that to get accustomed to such meats and
drinks, the Grand Duke and Duchess must have endured more trouble
than Mithridates, who could eat and drink any kind of poison, however
powerful it might be. In short, his natural appetite was appeased,
if not satiated, and he remained watching his brother-in-law, who
silently kept gorging himself, with a sort of ravenous hunger, with
young onions seasoned with ginger; then suddenly leaving the onions,
he would take a boiled egg, break it, and pouring into it a spoonful
of black pepper, drink it; then at the onions again; from time to
time he ordered "drink." The valet brought him a basin in which
were a flask full of water and a small glass of wine; Francesco,
pouring nearly all the wine into the basin, filled up the glass with
water, and drank it at one gulp. This dissipated habit was not a
pleasure, but apparently a labor, for drops of perspiration would
roll down from his forehead, his eyes looked heavy, he panted and his
face changed color, now turning as red as fire, and now as yellow
as the wax candles which were burning before him.[28] This seemed
to the Duke, what it really was, a desire to kill himself, and he
thought that it would have been better to have thrown himself from
the balconies of his palace. With this idea in his mind he glanced
towards Bianca, and their eyes meeting, they exchanged a look of
intelligence. The Duke had meant: "How is it possible that you, who
are so wary a woman, allow him to destroy himself in such a manner?"
And Bianca had replied: "I grieve for it, God knows; but you are
aware what an obstinate man he is! However, I will try, and you will
see."

  [28] Candles of yellow wax were used at court until the time of
  the Grand Duke Ferdinand I.: he changed them to white, as we
  learn from a letter by Soderini.

When she thought it a good opportunity, with the sweet manner which
she knew so well how to assume, she said:

"Will my lord and husband grant me a favor?"

"Speak."

"Would you, for my sake, be contented with what you have already
eaten of this raw food, for I am afraid that it will hurt you?"

"Bianca, I have told you once before, and do not wish to have to tell
you a third time, that in my own house and in my own state, as well
in the most insignificant as in the most important matters, I wish to
be absolute Lord and master----"

"Nor do I wish to question your power, for, on the contrary, I
consider myself only too much honored in being your servant; but for
this once, I beg of you, my love, please to do it for my sake----"

And so saying, she stretched her hand towards the plate to take
it away from him. Francesco, maddened, grasped the arm of Bianca
so strongly, that he left on it the blue mark of his fingers, and
grinding his teeth like a wild beast, looked fiercely at her for
some time; then, without uttering a word, he slowly opened his hand.
Bianca drew back her arm, not daring even to sigh, and repressed two
tears which were ready to start; humbled and confused, she knew not
how to hide her shame, spite, and rage, except by crying, "Candia!"

The attentive valet immediately placed before her the silver basin,
with a glass of Candia wine and a flask of water. She, not touching
the water, took the glass and hastily drank the contents.[29]

  [29] Montaigne, being invited to dinner by the Grand Duke
  Francesco, observed that he put a great deal of water into his
  wine, while Bianca drank it almost entirely without: "On porte à
  boire à ce duc et à sa femme dans un bassin où il y a un verre
  plein de vin descouvert, et une bouteille de verre pleine d'eau;
  ils prennent le verre de vin, et en versent dans le bassin autant
  qu'il leur semble, et puis le remplissent d'eau eux-mêmes, et
  rasséent le verre dans le bassin que leur tient l'échanson. Il
  mettoit assez d'eau; elle quasi point. Le vice des Allemands de
  se servir de verres grands outre mesure est ici au rebours, de
  les avoir extraordinairement petits."--_Voyage_, t. ii. p. 59.


It seemed to the Duke as if he were a guest at the table of Domitian,
when he caused the coffins to be carried round the table, with the
names of the guests inscribed upon them; he wished himself a thousand
miles away; he thought that he had not felt half so distressed at his
mother's funeral.

Francesco, like a spiteful boy, wanting to show how great his
power and independence were, obstinately persisted in filling his
mouth with onions covered with ginger, drinking peppered eggs and
ice-water, until nature, as if indignant at being thus maltreated,
succumbed, and uttering a deep sigh, he fell back heavily in his
chair, with his head drooping on his breast, and his arms hanging
down, exclaiming:

"I can stand it no longer!"

Bianca and Giordano hastened to his assistance, and supported his
head; his mouth was open and distorted, as if he had been struck with
apoplexy; his eyes were staring vacantly, his breast heaving.

"Call for Doctor Baccio, or Cappelli," said Bianca in great anxiety;
"go--quick--for the love of Heaven!"

But Francesco grumbled:

"Call no one--water--ice--ice--a little air--air!"

They opened all the balcony windows; brought him water and ice, and
he, dipping both his hands into it, applied them to his forehead;
then he poured some elixir into a glass of ice-water, and drinking
it, felt somewhat relieved. Bianca, who until then had assisted him
with loving care, without saying a word, now ventured to ask gently:

"Do you wish to go to bed?"

"Yes,--have it cooled,--cool it yourself--let no one else enter here."

And Bianca, with her own hands, filled with ice two silver coolers,
and the valet having carried them to the bed-room, she placed them
between the sheets, drawing them up and down.

In about fifteen minutes Francesco, who had remained sitting in
silence, rose suddenly, and said:

"Let us go."

Bianca and Giordano supported him, and reaching the bed, he tore,
rather than took off his clothes, and laid himself down. The Duke
then said very softly:

"Your Highness, rest yourself; to-morrow we will speak at our
leisure----"

"No; he who has time must not wait for time; I feel better. Bianca,
retire; I have to speak to Giordano of things which must remain
secret between him and me."

As any observation would only have irritated him, Bianca left the
room and the Duke remained. He seated himself near the bed, awaiting
his brother-in-law's pleasure to speak to him. Francesco, after
having mused for some time, like a man who is thinking how to begin,
thus spoke:

"Giordano, listen to me carefully: it is useless for me to remind
you, that belonging as you do to my family, you are as one of us--nor
need I declare how dear your interests are to me----"

"Your goodness----"

"Do not interrupt me, but listen. Now in bitterness of soul, I have
to acquaint you with a deed, the mere thought of which makes the
blood rush to my face--And would that it had remained private, so
that if we could not have pardoned, we might at least have concealed
it: but no, it has become public; it forms the subject of mockery
for my enemies. Giordano, we have become the laughing-stock of the
people!" And pausing a little, he continued: "The laughing-stock of
the people! You are outraged in me; I in you. Our house is filled
with shame; Giordano, your wife, my sister, has covered us with
disgrace----"

"What! Isabella!"

"Alas! yes. And pasquinades and satires are rife touching her
infidelity----"

"By Heaven! who dared? I will tear his heart out, even if it were in
church----"

"And thus confirm, by your revenge, what the insult has not
proclaimed publicly. Be a man and curb your passion. The traitor is a
relative of yours----"

"Who?"

"Troilo."

"My chosen friend! He to whom I had intrusted the safe keeping of my
honor. Ah!"

"This man, trampling on the sacred ties of blood, this man has
betrayed his benefactor and friend----"

"But are you sure of it?"

"Are such things ever said without certainty?"

"And how is it possible that I should have been ignorant of it until
now--I, a miserable, betrayed man?"

"The ears of husbands are always the last to hear their own shame. A
providence of God!"

"Francesco, may you not perhaps have been deceived? A prince, however
wary, does not see, does not hear everything for himself."

"_I_ see everything."

This was not true; for if a prince ever lived who trusted implicitly
to wicked counsellors, it was Francesco; but for this once he was
right.

"Come, then, this deed cannot be helped, but it may be avenged----"

"Be it so."

"Can any one hear us?" asked Francesco, raising himself to a sitting
posture upon the bed; and lifting the silk curtains, he turned his
searching eye around the room. "Go and see, Giordano, if the doors
are shut close. Bianca may be listening; I can live no longer with
this woman, and yet I cannot do without her. I could swear that this
witch has charmed me. Would that I could break the spell--I will
try----"

"They are all shut."

"Sit down, come nearer, and let us think of a remedy; having
maturely considered the subject, it seems to me, that this is the
best thing to do." And here, lowering his voice, he began to whisper
mysteriously, as if he were reciting his prayers. From time to time
a word louder than the rest could be heard, like a drop of water
falling from the roof of a cave to the ground, breaking at measured
intervals the frightful silence. The Duke did not seem a living
being, except by his opening wide his right hand, and then clenching
it tightly. Francesco, ceasing his murmuring, looked intently at his
brother-in-law, who stood motionless and horror-stricken; finally he
spoke, likewise in a subdued voice:

"You have awakened a hell in my heart. And what shall I say to
Virginio, if ever he should ask me: Where is my mother?"

"Virginio will never know it; and even if he did, he would say: He
did well. I am educating Virginio."

"But do we not believe, Francesco, that after death there is yet to
be a judgment?"

"For those who have no judgment. And we should be the reproach of
the living and the dead, if we dared not do what honor imposes upon
gentlemen. And what? While I, silencing the voice of nature, give
up to you the life of my sister, can you not tear from your heart a
guilty wife?"

"She is not the mother of your children. At any rate, I ought not to
be convinced by your convictions; and even if I were willing, I could
not. I wish to see for myself----"

"And if you should happen not to see, would she therefore be any less
guilty? Who can save her from suspicion? Cæsar did not suffer his
wife to be even suspected."

"But he did not kill her. Leave this affair to me. You must allow me
to use whatever means may seem most suitable----"

"Do so, but cautiously, without giving rise to scandal, and let
not your revenge bring to light more than has already been made
public."[30]

  [30]

    Porque dixo la venganza
      Lo que la offensa no dixo?

    _Calderon de la Barca._

  Here a knock was heard at the door, and Francesco asked in a
  threatening tone:

"Who is there?"

"Don Pietro."

"My brother! He must not see you, Giordano. Go; take up your
abode at the villa San Marco: the key is hanging over that
wardrobe; you will find some one there to receive you. I intrust
the secret to you. _Go, and when you have discovered the hated
truth, keep always in mind that you are a gentleman and a
Christian._"[31]

  [31] These last words of Francesco were heard when he dismissed
  the Duke, after the secret colloquy between them.--MSS. _Capponi
  and my own._

Giordano was so overwhelmed by his feelings that he could not utter a
word; he kissed the hand of his brother-in-law, and left the room by
a door opposite to that at which the knocking had been heard.

Francesco, having arranged the sheet which covered him, said mildly:

"Come in, Don Pietro."

"God keep you in His guard, your Highness."

"Thank you."

"I am here at the command of your Highness."

"And it seems to me high time that you should be here, since three or
four summons have been disregarded."

"I feared to disturb your grave affairs of state, and your Highness's
manufactory of porcelain;[32] and then, I think that he who comes in
time always comes early, as the proverb says."

  [32] It was one of the chief passions of Francesco to manufacture
  most elegant porcelain vases, which he then presented to princes
  and great barons.--_Galluzzi's Hist._, vol. iii.

"You ought to remember oftener, Don Pietro, that you are my subject;
and if you cannot pay more regard to the authority of the head of the
family, you ought at least to respect the dignity of the prince.
What are you doing? Why do you wander about the room in such a
manner? Sit down, and listen to me quietly."

"Don Francesco, I came here upon your word, and because I know that
Lent does not come in July, so do not kill me with a sermon----"

"Sit down; I did not summon you on my account, but on your own, and
for the sake of your reputation and prosperity."

"Where did you get so much brotherly love all at once? Did King
Sebastian send it to you from Lisbon with the galleys of pepper?[33]
These tenders of your affection ought to be told differently, for
they are too old now."

  [33] Francesco, with a company of merchants, carried on this
  commerce of pepper, and employed his galleys in it. This company
  had the exclusive privilege of selling it throughout the
  world.--_Galluzzi's History._

"Do I deserve this? Have I not given, and do I not give, continual
proofs of loving my blood?"

"I do not know about your own, but certainly you do love blood."

"And then you complain that we do not hold you in favor, and fill the
court with complaints, and write to the Cardinal about it. But how
can I bear with you? In truth, flying off, as you are wont, from one
thing to another, you have thrown me off the track, and I scarcely
remember the reason why I sent for you. And indeed, when you hear
it, I expect to see you humbled, and your impertinence changed into
miserable dejection."

"My dear brother, I will not deny that you may succeed in tiring me
to death, for I feel already half used-up; but as to making my head
turn, I do not think that you can do it."

"Well, then, you absolve me from all consideration, so that I tell
you that you are the most abject, the most degraded, the most
infamous knight in all Christendom."

"Poh! These are very big words; go on to deeds."

"Your wife is an adulteress."

"I know it."

"What! You know it, and have not yet revenged yourself?"

"It is fated that we Medici should never be fortunate in our women."

"What? What do you mean?" cried Francesco, starting up in his bed.
"Of what fault can you accuse the Grand Duchess Giovanna!"

"May God have her in His peace, she was a saint."

"And Bianca?"

"Oh! Bianca! Since your marriage, I know not of what to accuse her;
but before----"

"Before, she did not belong to me, and I have no right to investigate
her life before she was mine----"

"Eh! Here is no question about you; others take this right for you."

"When we threw upon her our grand-ducal mantle the woman disappeared
and the princess rose; and having elevated her to our seat, we have
regenerated her in a baptism of majesty."

"Soap does not wash everything, and sometimes the cloth may wear out,
but not the spot; and you must have a certain red stain on your
hands which all the water of Arno could not wash away--and this stain
comes from the blood of Bonaventuri----"

"Who can declare that I caused Bonaventuri to be killed? If my father
himself affirmed it, I would say to him: 'You lie in your throat! I
did not order, I did not commit the crime'--and I could swear to it."

"What with ordering, insinuating, guessing, hinting, tolerating,
feigning, and the like, if this cause had to be tried before worldly
judges, the law-gnawing advocates (I mean the bad ones, for to the
good ones I bow reverentially, and profess myself their most humble
servant) would find so many limitations and distinctions, that
certainly no one could condemn you; but before God, one does not
appear through lawyers: do you suppose that you can hide this stain
with your glove, or pretend that it is a ruby?"

"Ungrateful!--Unkind man! How much did my enemies give you to make me
die of rage? Are these the manners to be used before your lord, who,
if he willed, could break you in two like a reed? And at the very
moment, too, that he is taking your interest to heart, from a desire
of saving your reputation. But I ought to have known that it would
have been labor lost; it would be as well to try to wash the Pucci's
coat-of-arms."[34]

  [34] Their escutcheon was a Moor's head.

"I beg pardon, your Highness, I had no idea of irritating you: I said
that merely for talk, being _en famille_. If any one dared to speak
disrespectfully of your Highness in my presence, I swear to you on
the word of a gentleman, that I would run him through with my sword.
Be assured of this, Francesco, you will never have better friends
than your brothers, and you never seem to care about it; you prefer
a Serguidi, a Belisario Vinta to them, and in addition to that you
allow such men to ill-treat us. Francesco, you complain of us, but in
truth you are not just. Let us throw aside all bitterness."

"Well, then, I discovered the infamous contaminator of your dignity,
and have killed him."

"Poor knight! Well, he deserved it, but he was a good fellow"----

"And who told you that he was a knight?"

"Bernardino Antinori, whom you caused to be hung in the prison of
the Bargello? Who told me? That is a curious question! Who told me?
Certainly, some one who knew. Francesco, allow me to say half-a-dozen
words in my own way, openly, freely, and as my heart dictates,
although you may consider them, as usual, as emanating from a strange
brain. We can do what we like, but with one condition, which is this:
that we must let people talk. The persons whom we employ in such
affairs are baseborn, and supported by iniquity; if they could find
some one who would throw them a larger crust of bread, they would do
to us, what, commanded by us, they now do to others. Do you hope for
fidelity or secresy in such degraded men? In taverns and in their
disgraceful orgies, they pour in wine, and pour out words of blood,
very often true, but oftener a thousand times exaggerated; and among
the common mass of the people who know us little, we find accumulated
against us such an enormous treasury of hatred, that it is frightful
to look at."

"Have you finished?"

"I will presently. Add to it the curse of the pen. The pen is an
infernal invention. I, for my part, think that the devil, falling
down from heaven, lost the feathers from his wings by a thunderbolt
of Saint Michael, and these quills fell upon the earth, and men
gathered and sharpened them, and now use them as arrows, poisoned by
that worst of venom--ink. Who knows how many traders at this moment,
under an item for wool, or an account of a transaction in silk,
have registered: 'Item, to-day, the ---- of the month of ---- A.D. so
and so, Francesco dei Medici caused the Knight Bernardo Antinori to
be strangled for his intrigues with Donna Eleonora of Toledo, wife
of Don Pietro de Medici!'[35] And besides the merchants, there are
the philosophers, the historians, and other literary men, to whom I
always show a pleasant face, since there are no means of putting them
out of the world. These we cannot silence; the best way is to bear
with them patiently, and by giving them sometimes flattery, sometimes
bread, induce them to write according to our pleasure.

    "There lived no such Augustus as the line
    Of Virgil honors, gentle, wise, benign:
    His taste in letters bade a veil be spread
    Before the blood in vile proscription shed."[36]

We have a good example of this at home, and, not to mention Lorenzo
the Magnificent, let our father teach us, whose tolerance reached
so far as to listen to the reading of that most impertinent history
of Benedetto Varchi, that would make anybody go to sleep even
standing on his feet. But the worthy Varchi was so pleased by it,
that from that moment forward he never let pass an opportunity of
extolling Cosimo to the skies, and comparing him to Trajan, to
Marcus Aurelius, and to Heaven knows how many others. But I notice
that I am in danger of putting you to sleep; so that it belongs to
you now to speak. We had stopped--where? Ah! yes, that you had caused
the Knight Antinori to be hung."

  [35] In fact it is thus registered in a book of mercantile
  records.

  [36]
  Non fu sì savio, nè benigno Augusto,
    Como la tuba di Virgilio suona:
    L'avere avuto in poesia buon gusto
    La proscrizione ingiusta gli perdona.

Francesco, accustomed by nature and habit to serious
conversation, and to go straight to the point, felt his head
whirl round in this profusion of words and farrago of thoughts.
He was obliged to collect himself somewhat, and pausing a few
moments, he continued thus:

"Then, if you know of the infidelity of Donna Eleonora, why does
she live?"

"Because if I should recite the _confiteor_, I should find
that I had more sins than she; and also because I do not know
who could protect me from her uncle the Duke of Alva, and her
brother-in-law Toledo, who, between ourselves, are no saints."

"And are we not powerful enough to defend you against a Viceroy
and a Duke?"

"What can guard me from the assassin's poniard?"

"A good coat of mail, a strong heart, and a careful vigilance."

"Lorenzino dei Medici took all these and other precautions in
Venice----"

"He took them not, and was killed."

"May be so; but it is still true, that the best defence consists
in never having done wrong to any one."

"However that may be, such infamy is not to be endured: I would
not bear it--the honor of our family does not permit it. We must
remove this disgrace from us--and it shall be removed."

"What advantage, then, am I to gain? Is it only for my welfare
that you worked, thought, and provided? It is for your own sake,
then, that you sent for me? I shall have to become a murderer for
you, and expose myself on your account to the hatred of a most
powerful and vindictive family?"

"I care so little about their hatred and revenge, that I swear
to you on the word of a gentleman, that after having drawn up a
process of the guilt of this wicked woman, I will myself send it
to King Philip, communicating to him secretly the cause and means
of her death.[37] I take the responsibility upon myself, and
promise that, if there should be any necessity, I will declare
that this was done by my advice, and even by my express command."

  [37] "The atrocity," narrates Galluzzi, in his History of the
  Grand Duchy of Tuscany, "the atrocity of the deed was hidden
  from the public, and veiled with the report that she had died
  suddenly of disease of the heart, to which the physicians
  asserted she had always been subject. It was confided, however,
  to King Philip through the Florentine ambassador, by means of
  a private letter, of the 16th of July, in the following words:
  'Although in the letter mention is made of the accident that
  happened to Donna Eleonora, nevertheless you will state to His
  Catholic Majesty, that Don Pietro, our brother, has himself taken
  her life on account of her treasonable behavior, unworthy of a
  lady, and we notified Don Pietro of it through our secretary, and
  begged him to come here, but he did not come, nor did he allow
  our secretary to speak to Don Garzia. We have desired that his
  Majesty should know the whole truth, and every act of our house,
  and particularly this, for if we had not removed this disgrace
  from before us, we should not have thought that we served his
  Majesty well, to whom, at the first opportunity, we shall send
  the process whereby he may learn with what just cause Don Pietro
  acted.' King Philip was pleased with this mark of confidence,
  etc."

"Well, then, you desire that I should give up to you the life of
Eleonora, and I will do it; a wife is not worth the trouble of
spoiling one's appetite; but you also, as a good brother, must do me
a favor, which will cost you but little, and will do me a great deal
of good. I ask you to give me, or lend me--never to return--forty
thousand ducats: my Pisan estates do not yield me a ducat this
year; what with draining, ditching, and the like, it will cost me a
fortune----"

"All deep in debt! All bankrupts! You, the Cardinal, and the Duke of
Bracciano would sink Peru? Where shall I obtain so much money?"

"Eh! A little pressure on the coffers of the Republic, and all is
settled. But you have no need of doing that: public reports tell
wonders; it is said that in gold coin, in bullion, and in precious
stones, you have accumulated more than ten millions. If this is true,
you are acting injudiciously, for if you withdraw so much money from
commerce, you will end by becoming the prince of a desert."

"Idle, good-for-nothing people! They do not know what they are
talking about!"

"From public taxes you gain, your expenses not included, three
hundred thousand ducats."

"Who dares to calculate my accounts?"

"Hang arithmetic if you can. And besides that, from your commerce in
leather, jewels, grain, and pepper, you gain a fortune----"

"They are all losing concerns. All are injuring my property. I have
made up my mind to give up commerce; perhaps--I have not quite
decided yet--I may continue in that of pepper; but no more leather,
no more grain; who deals in grain, will die on straw."

"You can do as you please; but will you give me forty thousand
ducats?"

"Good heavens, how can you squander so much money?"

"Give it to me, for it is well spent; I use it in procuring friends
for you. I expend it among the people, in festivals, in banquets, and
in pleasures. The young men get accustomed to splendor and luxury;
I enervate them; cow them down; enfeeble their souls; take away the
dignity of their minds and the strength of their bodies; I prepare
for the seed, and you can plant what you wish."

"You are ever the same strange mortal. You shall have the forty
thousand ducats; but you must give me a mortgage on your Pisan
estates, to restore them by instalments----"

"Oh! As for that, I will give you as many bonds as you wish."

"Besides that----"

"Oh dear! You will begin now with your restrictions."

"No; I only wish you to be ready to get rid of your guilty wife, when
and where I shall order you."

"Well, I agree to that. When shall I have the money?"

"To-morrow."

"Good-night, then. I must now go and do a little good. A lady is
going to present me to her marriageable daughter, so that I may give
her a little dowry. Then we shall have a party of young fellows at
the Cock Tavern, that would put the devil to shame. Then we shall,
perhaps, go serenading, and who knows what next?"

"Don Pietro! Don Pietro! You will never change your habits; you ought
to think that we have to render an account to God of the time wasted
so unprofitably. Have on at least a good coat of mail."

"Until now my coat of mail was a good conscience; but I see that
after this evening I shall have to wear it. May God keep you in His
holy guard." And so saying, he went away hastily.

"And you also. Bianca!" And after a little while, he repeated in a
louder tone: "Bianca!"

Bianca Cappello entered, panting, as if she had come in haste from a
distant room.

"What does my Lord desire?"

"Have you heard anything of the conversation that we have had here? I
dismissed you, not for my own sake, for you know that I do not keep
any, even the slightest secret of my heart from you, but on their
account----"

"Whose?"

"Orsini's and Don Pietro's."

"I was not aware that Don Pietro----?

"Only think! I have been speaking to them in reference to their
wives and the very guilty lives which they lead. I entreated them to
try a little salutary strangulation, to induce them to reform: did
you hear nothing?"

"Nothing."

"Truly? come, you must have heard some little thing."

"Upon my word I did not."

"Poh! You are cross now on account of the reproof I gave you this
evening. But what can I do? I get angry so easily, and afterwards
I repent. What I have in my heart, I have on my tongue. I beg your
pardon for it."

"Oh, my Lord!" replied the cunning Venetian, "you statesmen have
always so many thoughts, so many disquietudes in your heads; the
fault is ours who come to disturb you: but we mean well, and if we
mistake, deserve pity. And indeed, it is not worth while to take
pains for me. You took me up, I may say, from the street, and placed
me on equal footing with the queens and greatest princesses in all
Christendom. My life consists in revering and loving you, and strive
as I may, it seems to me as if I never could love you enough."

"Good Bianca! Excellent woman! I feel tired and wish to rest. Give
me a glass of cinnamon water. Thanks, Bianca. Now let us recite our
prayers; the Litanies will be enough for this evening."

Bianca took a book covered with crimson velvet, and clasped with
gold; she knelt beside the bed, reciting the Litanies, to which
Francesco replied very devoutly: "_Ora pro nobis._"--These being
ended, Francesco uttered these words:

"Behold a day is about to end: we count them when they are past,
when they are no longer ours; a day is now falling from the hand of
time into the immense ocean of eternity. Before, however, it is lost
in this abyss, let us look on its last moment, to judge what a life
it has led. Go, go in peace, you also, O day of my life; take your
departure boldly, and rejoin your brothers, who have preceded you:
you are free from tears, you have passed innocently. The accusing
angel will not write you in his eternal register. Rather, I may
safely say, that if fortune had woven you into the mortal web of
Titus, he would not have exclaimed: 'I have lost a day!'"

But who did this man presume to deceive? God? Himself?--O human
heart, how dreadful art thou to look upon!

Francesco, with a heap of onions in his body, and two murders on his
soul, went to sleep peacefully, "like a laborer in God's vineyard."



CHAPTER VI.

THE SON.

      Ma il bacio della madre, oh! non ha pari,
      E vivon mille affetti in quello affetto.
    Oh! figli, figli lagrimati, e cari,
      Chi più vi muoverà la bianca cuna?
      Chi più vi guiderà nei vostri lari?
    Ci apre il labbro la madre, e ad una ad una
      Ci scioglie le parole, e il primo accento
      È: madre.

    _Ispirazioni di_ BISAZZA _da Messina_.

    A mother's kiss! What can with that compare?
      In that one word a thousand loves reside.
    O children, objects of deep love and care,
      Who will rock your cradle? Who will guide
    Your tottering footsteps to your home on high?
      It is the mother who our lip unseals,
    Loosens the lisping accents patiently,
      And still the earliest word our tongue reveals
    Is "mother!"----


Catherine of France!--wife of a king, mother of a king,--and
nevertheless, would the most wretched woman that ever did or ever
will live, accept the Empire of France with the sorrows of her
life, or her fame after death! Daughter of an abhorred prince, a
child, forsaken and alone, she fell into the power of the infuriated
republicans, who wished to avenge in her the crimes of her race, and
to expose her upon the walls to the artillery of her relations,
who certainly would not on that account have abstained from firing!
Notwithstanding, bright and cheerful, careless of present danger,
she conspired for the grandeur of her house. The heavens bestowed
upon her the instinct and capacity for government. The youthful wife
of Henry II., she saw herself neglected for Diane de Poitiers, the
now elderly mistress of the king her husband; and she was silent,
and shut deep in her heart the offence to woman, wife, and queen,
and remained like a fire, hidden in order to flash out unexpectedly,
to dazzle or to terrify the world. The mother of Francis II.,
she saw preferred to her experience and gravity, the frivolities
of Marie Stuart, the almost infant wife of a child king; and she
was silent, and with a smile upon her lips flattered the follies
of the royal children, while she saw gathering over their heads
the whirlwind fatal to the lilies of France. At last behold her
the true Queen,--she rules. Like Niobe, she protects with her own
mantle the head of a royal child; doubt not, she will defend it more
successfully against the fury of factions than the ancient Niobe
could hers, against the arrows of Latona's children. What did the
kingdom appear? What the King? Charles IX. was a bird--a bird of
ill-omen if you will--for whom a falcon and a vulture both stretched
forth their talons. The Guises declared themselves his protectors;
but can you imagine a king who needs the protection of his subjects?
The Huguenots also wished to protect him--as a master the slave;
and each of these parties was more powerful than Catherine. The
former called themselves the friends of religion and the throne,
and committed acts, to avoid the sight of which religion would
have wished herself blind; friends of the throne, they composed
a genealogy, which made them the descendants of Charlemagne, to
expel the Capetians from the kingdom, as Capet had expelled the
Carlovingians; finally they became demagogues and were extinguished.
The latter, hostile to the Catholic rites, consented that Henry IV.
should win Paris by a mass;[38] hostile to the throne, they ended by
giving a king to France. It was not then for the king, but for the
kingdom that they fought. Catherine had to fear, not only for her
crown but for her life; laying aside the royal robes, she and her
sons expected the mantle of sod that is assigned to the dead. Cruel
inheritance prepared by the snares of Louis XI., the misfortunes
of Louis XII., the follies of Francis I., and made more perilous
by the doctrines of Luther and the other sectarians who followed
him. The equilibrium could not then, as now, be maintained by gold
freely spent, and votes thrown into an urn;--there a river of blood
was required; there, instead of votes, heads, to be cast into the
urn of destiny;--and Catherine accepted that inheritance with all
its consequences--all! Truly, these are not such virtues as belong
to women, nor yet to men; but the beings appointed by Providence to
govern nations in such emergencies hardly belong to human nature;
souls of bronze, created where the thunderbolt, the hurricane, and
the other scourges of God arise. Catherine saved the kingdom of
France from being rent to atoms in the sternest strife that she has
ever suffered before or since. Louis XI. is praised, because, by
cutting off the heads of the hydra of the feudal system, he laid the
foundation for the greatness of the kingdom; and applauding the end,
the means are disregarded. The Cardinal Richelieu is praised because
he reduced the barons finally to gilded slaves of the Court. The
Conventionalists are also praised, because they wrote in the blood
of the Girondists that the Republic was one and indivisible. But
leaving out these last, were the first as wise as the world considers
them? Carried away by the ardor of the undertaking, they strained
every nerve to throw down a wall, ignorant of what it concealed;
behind that wall, when broken down, they found a wild beast with
sharp teeth, fiery eyes, eager to rend in pieces, greedy of spoil,
famished with want, thirsting for blood--in short, the goaded people.
The two hostile principles, without any intermediate one, which
disjoined or moderated them, rushed upon each other one day and the
second devoured the first; but no sooner was it swallowed than it
revived in its own bosom, and from that moment the devourer has lain
sick, and will lie--how long?[39] The destinies of the world are
held hidden in the hand of God. But it seems to me a strange thing
to think that Louis XI. and Richelieu, the most despotic of rulers,
should have been the fathers of popular revolutions. Catherine dei
Medici, a woman with baby kings in her arms, with power weaker than
theirs, indeed without power, did much more for France than they;
events did not allow her to be milder, nor was she more cruel than
the manners of her times, and I should like to be told if Louis XI.,
if Richelieu, if Francis, if Henry, if Guise, if Coligny himself
were any better than she. And, nevertheless, the memory of Catherine
dei Medici is held in perpetual infamy in France; not a generation
but curses her in passing, and imprecates heavily upon her head the
marble of the tomb and the vengeance of God! It would seem almost
incredible if it were not true, that she, a queen, buried in a
royal tomb, with the crown and vesture of royalty, had not a single
mouth--a mouth however bribed--to pronounce a venal eulogy over her
coffin. Three days after her death the preacher, Lincestre, thus
spoke of her from the pulpit to his hearers: "The Queen-mother is
dead, who, living, did much good and much evil, and, as I believe,
more evil than good. And now a difficulty presents itself, which is
to know whether the Catholic church ought to pray for one whose life
was so wicked, and who so often upheld heresy, although they say that
latterly she was on our side, and did not consent to the death of our
princes. Therefore, I tell you, that if you would wish to recite a
_pater_ or an _ave_ for her, do it; let it go for what it is worth; I
leave it to your own option."

  [38] When reproached for so easily changing his religion, Henry
  IV. is said to have replied: "Paris vaut bien une messe."

  [39] This figure needs a word of explanation for foreign readers.
  The two opposing principles are monarchy and democracy; the
  intervening wall represents the nobility, which was virtually
  destroyed when the power of the barons was taken away, thus
  bringing the monarch and the people, as it were, face to face.
  The devouring of the first of these principles by the second
  alludes to the decapitation of Louis XVI., but monarchy, though
  destroyed, revived again in the person of Napoleon, a man of the
  people, and may thus be said to have caused sickness and weakness
  in that principle from which it sprang.--_Translator._

It is enough: she appeals from the judgment of men to that of Him
who cannot err. Meanwhile, as for this earthly judgment, it is well
to think that it is borne by those whose powers of judging may well
be doubted, and that Catherine, as an Italian, ought not to expect
justice from a presumptuous people, once only great, when a lofty
Italian soul[40] shed over them the influences of his genius.

  [40] Napoleon.

Catherine dei Medici, Queen of France, desirous of saving from
shame the family from which she rose, had answered Donna Isabella's
letter, appearing very willing to give her shelter, but advising and
entreating her, with all speed, to put her design into execution; she
wrote, that she had ordered persons to meet her at Genoa, accompany
her to Marseilles, and then conduct her with a strong escort to
Paris, where she would take care to place her in safety from
assassins and daggers. The Knight Lionardo Salviati, immediately upon
the receipt of the letter, to avoid suspicion and fatal accidents,
sent it as carefully and secretly as possible to Isabella by Don
Silvano Razzi, a monk of Camaldole, and a very intimate friend of
his. But Isabella had of late lost her natural firmness, and becoming
discouraged and feeling a presentiment of her fate, allowed herself
to be entirely overcome by dejection. The manuscripts which remain
to us concerning those wretched events, speak as follows: "But the
scheme did not succeed, for it was not the will of the good God,
her affairs being too well known, so that now she could no longer
disguise her intentions, and all knew her thoughts." In short,
whether she could not or would not, the fact is that some time before
the reply of Catherine Queen of France reached her, she had dismissed
from her mind all idea of flight.

The Duchess had a foster sister; she had received the same
nourishment as a daughter of the people, and happy would she have
been, if, with the milk, she had imbibed the domestic virtues of
her good nurse! Gifted with an excellent disposition, Isabella
always wished to retain near her, her foster sister, whose name was
Maria, and loved her passionately. It seemed as if she could not
live without her; to her she confided the most hidden secrets of
her heart, so long as they were such as she could reveal without
shame; but when they ceased to be such, she began to shroud herself
in silence and circumlocution; much more, since having once tried to
inform Maria of her feelings, which, although not exactly guilty,
had begun to deviate from the right path, she was met with such an
admonition as took from her all wish to continue. Maria, although an
excellent woman, was not very quick at observing, yet she perceived
only too well that her lady's heart was withdrawn from her, and also
that she could not regain it except by complying with her foolish
wishes, and thus, as it were, becoming her accomplice. This, neither
her own religion would permit, nor the faith she had always had
in her mistress; and since she could devise no means of reuniting
herself to her as she had been, she resolved to leave her as she
was. The poor girl, in order not to separate from Isabella, had
refused advantageous offers of marriage, and to her praise it must
be added, had even subdued an affection that she had felt arising
in her heart. The first roses of her youth had somewhat faded, but
living modestly and "avoiding even the appearance of evil," she still
looked young and handsome. While she was in this state of mind,
fortune threw in her way a young man named Cecchino del Bandieraio,
whose person pleased her, and even more the devoted filial affection
which he manifested for his aged mother. Maria, the sole survivor of
her family, had to ask leave of no one except her mistress, who was
then so much under the influence of her passion, that she permitted
without sorrow the departure of Maria, who might be considered the
last anchor of her salvation; she even saw her go with pleasure, as
her presence had become a kind of restraint upon her. But as her
truly royal disposition prompted, she was liberal in her gifts;
bestowing upon her in abundance clothes, furniture, jewels, money,
and kind words, and entreaties that in case of any need, she would
come to her. When the moment of parting arrived, however, the old
tenderness revived, and she embraced her so closely, that it seemed
as if she could not let her go, and wept bitterly; but an ardent kiss
of love quickly dried her tears, and Maria was soon forgotten.

But Maria, on her part, could not forget Isabella, and never failed
to go daily to the palace; but she did not see her more than once in
a hundred times, for she was told at one time that the Duchess could
not be seen, at another that she was absent, and poor Maria would
turn away sorrowful, her heart swelling, and her eyes filling with
tears, but before she had gone half-way down the street, she would
find excuses for Isabella, believe the reason for her dismissal,
reproach herself for having doubted her, and comfort herself in the
hope that she should be more fortunate the following day. But the
following day it was the same thing over again, and her grief was
sharpened by her constantly receiving applications from persons who
wished her to obtain for them some favor from Isabella. In vain she
assured them that she no longer possessed any influence over the
Duchess; they did not believe her, but thought that she wished to
avoid obliging them, and said to her: "We know perfectly well that
Isabella and you are one person; one soul in two bodies; whatever
pleases you, she does; whatever you wish, you can have; do not reject
the prayer of the widow and orphan, intercede for us, and you will
obtain; perform this act of charity, remember that you are one of the
people; do not grow proud; a day may come when the Lord will visit
you too, and then how sweet will it be to think of the good you have
done; and you can demand the assistance of the people, who will give
it gladly, that you may know that they can feel gratitude."

Think what a sharp stab this must have been to the heart of the poor
girl; but she tried to do her best, and secretly comforted herself
with the thought that even if the Duchess had withdrawn her favor
from her, she had not forfeited it by her own fault.

Meanwhile Cecchino had become a man-at-arms of the Duke, who had
taken him to Rome. He was doubtful whether Maria could go with him or
not, but considering that it would be shameful for him to leave his
aged mother entirely alone, he decided that she had better remain,
the more easily as he hoped to be able often to visit his home. But
fate frustrated his intentions, till, hoping vainly from month to
month, three years had passed; and in this interval of time, to the
sincerest grief of himself and his wife, his mother had departed to a
better world. Then Maria wrote to him, that as there was nothing now
remaining to keep her at Florence, and as she had grown tired of it,
she wished to join him at Rome immediately; but Cecchino, in reply,
begged her to remain, as the Duke could not delay many days longer
his return to Florence, and that they should all return with him; and
it did not appear safe to him that she, a woman, should venture alone
upon the journey, while the roads were so beset with large bands of
banditti, and even in Rome itself it was insecure. The good Maria,
bearing her disappointment patiently, expected her husband every day.

It was the evening of the fourth of July, 1576, and Maria was
spinning, alone and in silence, after having sung several verses
of the song of Giosafatte and of Barlaam, and the whole episode of
the death of Zerbino and Isabella, the pathetic fancy of Lodovico
Ariosto,[41] when she heard a knock at the door. She started, like
one whose heart has been watching, sprang to her feet, and lifting
the latch of the door, went to the head of the stairs with a light
in her hand, hardly daring to hope that she might see her Cecchino
appear: she beheld, instead, a man dressed in black, who entering
with much caution, closed the door carefully, and then began slowly
to ascend the stairs. Maria felt a little alarmed, but she had too
much spirit to allow herself to be overcome by fear, and looking more
closely at him, she recognised Don Inigo, the taciturn major-domo of
the Duchess.

  [41] The writings of Ariosto were at that time as "familiar
  as household words" throughout Italy; now, even his name is
  hardly known in the rural districts. Montaigne, who travelled
  through Italy in the time of the Grand Duke Francesco, writes
  in the third volume of his Travels: "I wondered particularly at
  three things, first, to see the people here working on Sunday,
  threshing, preparing grain, cooking, and spinning. The second,
  to see these peasants, _with lutes in their hands, and even
  the shepherds singing the verses of Ariosto_. This is common
  throughout all Italy. The third, to see how they leave their cut
  grain in the fields for ten days or a fortnight, without fear of
  their neighbors." It would seem that in those times the French
  were greater thieves than the Italians.

"Good evening, Don Inigo, welcome; what strange chance has brought
you here?"

Inigo, in words which, though they retained nothing of his native
Spanish, were yet far from being good Italian, replied:

"God and the holy Virgin _del Pilar_ keep you, Señora Maria," and
continued to ascend the stairs; when he reached the room he stopped a
moment to rest, and then said:

"My lady sent me to tell you to go as cautiously as possible, towards
midnight, to the secret side-door of the palace; knock twice and it
will be opened to you. You will learn the rest from my Lady, who begs
of you to preserve the utmost secresy, as it concerns a matter of
life and death. Good night."

And rising, Don Inigo departed as he had come.

"Don Inigo, hear me, stop a moment; tell me something more. Oh! what
is this? Mother of God! lighten my trouble! If you know anything do
not leave me in this perplexity."

Meanwhile, Don Inigo having reached the bottom of the stairs, lifted
the latch, and in passing the threshold, turned and bowed to Maria,
then, without another word, closed the door and disappeared.

Left alone, Maria began to revolve the matter in her mind; what
it could be, what the Duchess could want, whether it was good or
evil; at any rate, there was some great secret hidden beneath it;
then Isabella was renewing her former confidence in her? She should
recover her beloved sister. If she should confide some pleasant news,
she would rejoice with her; if some distress, she would console her;
it was her guardian angel that had kept her from going to Rome; one
ought never to act from impulse; fortune would at last repair its
wrongs, the city would again honor her, her friends love and respect
her a thousand times more than ever. Gladdened by these pleasant
thoughts she could not stay quiet, but wandered about, setting the
house in order; then she arranged her hair, dressed herself in her
best, and then (I know not whether it is the same with people in
other parts of the world, but in Italy, when a great joy takes full
possession of us, we must break forth into song) Maria began to sing,
no longer Giosafatte, or Barlaam, nor yet the mournful episode of
Zerbino and Isabella, but the song--

    Mountain maidens, bright and fair,
    Whence your course? Your dwelling where?
    Down from Alpine heights we come--
      Near a grove our cottage lies;
    There our parents have their home,
      Nature there our wants supplies;
    Eve recalls us from the mead
    Where our flocks securely feed, &c.[42]

And she had finished all her preparations so quickly that the
appointed hour seemed to fly before her, like the butterfly
before the child who pursues it so eagerly, while, fluttering
from spray to spray of the hedge, it seems to mock at him.
Finally the clock struck, and Maria listening intently, with her
finger on her lips, counted the strokes, but becoming confused
she lost the number, and waited more carefully for the repetition
of the sound; but this second time the barking of a dog hindered
her from hearing all the strokes, and she remained as uncertain
of the hour as before; she went to the window to ask any one who
might be passing, but there was no one to be seen; then she tried
knocking on the wall to ask her neighbor, who, probably just
awakened out of sleep, and provoked at being disturbed, answered
crossly: "I don't know." Maria, feeling as if she were enduring
the tortures of San Lorenzo on the burning coals, and excited by
curiosity, determined to set out, and, if too early, to wait in
the open air, walking up and down, for from the intense heat, and
her excessive impatience, staying in the house seemed a martyrdom
that she could not possibly endure.

  [42]

    Vaghe le montanine pastorelle,
    Donde venite sì leggiadre e belle?
    Vegnam dall' alpe presso ad un boschetto:
    Piccola capannella è il nostra sito,
    Col padre e con la madre in piccol letto,
    Dove natura ci ha sempre nutrito.
    Torniam la sera dal prato fiorito,
    Che abbiam pasciute nostre pecorelle, &c.

    POLIZIANO.

But Isabella's impatience was no less violent than her own, for
when she reached the secret door it was opened to her first
knock, and she saw the Lady Isabella seated on the lowest step of
the stone staircase, pale as a waxen image, with a light at her
feet, which partially illuminated her person. Seeing Maria she
rose, and clasping her right hand pressed it to her heart in silence;
then taking the lamp she began to ascend the stairs, lighting the way
for her.

Reaching her room, Isabella put down the lamp near the cradle
of an infant. Marvellously beautiful was the workmanship of the
cradle, all inlaid with gold; no less so the velvet counterpane
embroidered with beautiful golden leaves, and the silken and
gold draperies trimmed with lace of priceless value. Whoever
has seen, in the gallery of the Pitti Palace, the portrait of
the child Leopoldo dei Medici, who was afterwards a cardinal,
may easily form an idea of how this child was adorned; but the
most marvellous sight of all was the child itself, which was
incredibly beautiful. Maria's glance fell immediately upon the
little creature, and seeing how lovely it was, she began to
fondle it after the manner of women.

"Why, who are you, my pretty one? _Gesù!_ What a little darling!
Where did you get such splendid eyes? Could you tell your name?
With wings on your shoulders you would seem a little angel of
love.[43] There, there, laugh a little, sweet one, and show your
dear little teeth." And putting her forefinger upon the dimple
in its chin she played with him, and the little fellow began to
laugh merrily, and lifted his tiny hands to Maria's face as if to
return her caresses.

  [43] Mettigli l'ale, è un angiolel di amore.--PERTICARI.

Isabella, silent, but partly relieved from the overpowering grief
that had oppressed her, stood looking at the touching scene; but at
last, as if roused by the urgency of the case, she spoke:--"Do you
see? That beautiful head will soon be crushed by a hand of iron,
or dashed against the wall, or else trampled under foot; those eyes
will be torn from their sockets; those soft, white limbs become a
shapeless mass of bleeding flesh----"

"Alas! who would be such a monster as to do so? Who would dare to
commit such a crime in the Orsini Palace?"

"Orsini."

"I do not understand. His Grace the Duke has always seemed to me an
honorable Knight and a Christian----"

"This child is mine, but not my husband's.--Now do you understand?"

"Good Heavens! But why are we Christians, unless we are able to
forgive? Trust in God; trust to the efficacy of repentance, throw
yourself at your husband's feet----"

"He would kill us both."

"Your brother's----"

"He would kill us both."

"Who says so? You are too suspicious; it does not seem right to
believe Christians capable of such enormities."

"Ah! Maria! Men are wicked and cruel. They wish to love us only so
long as it pleases them, but if we cease to love them, they call it
a crime, and as a crime punish it most severely. Giordano, who, if I
were dying for love of him, would not stir from Rome to say to me:
'Go in peace, O sorrowing one;' would fly like an arrow from the bow
to kill me and this child, because I have shown that I did not care
for him----"

"The Duke may be as you say, but your brothers--"

"My brothers have taken 'the shadow of a shade,' and have called
it honor. They, who would wish to rule universally and absolutely,
have become the slaves of this shadow; they have made a code of it,
which they quote continually; but the pages are blank; every one
reads there what passion dictates; one single thing appears there,
thanks to the characters of blood in which it is written, and that is
death----"

"Well, if there is no longer any pity to be found in the world, fly,
hide yourself in some secluded retreat, where you may ask the Lord to
pardon your fault, and He will certainly grant----"

"I cannot go away, and I will not; I feel that I am guilty, and will
not try to escape the punishment that is destined for me; I no longer
know what to do with a life full of remorse and shame; henceforward I
shall have to cast down my eyes, unable to meet the gaze of others;
and the daughter of a crowned prince must hate life when she is
obliged to bow her face, burning with shame.--But what crime has this
infant committed? It is innocent; its fate must be separated from
mine. This child must be saved----"

"And it shall be."

"O Maria, with those words you have given me the only comfort which
my sorrowing soul can now feel. Take him--he is yours--and as yours
save him."

So saying, she took the child and put him in Maria's arms. The baby,
who had taken a fancy to Maria, raised his little hands towards
her face, and seemed to entreat her as well as he knew how; Maria,
kissing him with the warmest affection, replied:

"Yes, my pretty angel, do not fear, I will save you. Yes, you shall
not die, you must live and be happy; if men are cruel, women are
compassionate, and succeed better than men, because God aids piety
and hates the wicked----"

"Maria, I expected no less from the great love you have always felt
for me, and still feel. God and your own conscience will reward you
for this good action, better than I ever can either by word or deed.
I confess it, in the days of my guilt, I avoided you; you seemed a
troublesome restraint upon me. Do not be angry; would man ever sin,
if he did not first drive his guardian angel from him? My present
wretchedness is sufficient punishment for my sin, and to satisfy you
entirely, as I ought, Maria, I entreat your pardon----"

"O my sweet Lady, what words are these? You will make me weep, and we
have need of all our firmness and resolution. Up now, tell me what is
to be done. Night and silence veil everything in mystery; no one will
know it, and you will live."

"Listen: feeling sure of your goodness, I have prepared everything
that is necessary. In this chest you will find jewels and money
sufficient to establish yourself. If the boy lives, employ it to
educate him properly; if it please God to call him to Himself, keep
it for your own use. Here is a letter which I confide solemnly to
your secresy. When you reach Paris, give it with your own hands to
Catherine, Queen of France----"

"Paris! France! What do you mean? I never dreamed of that!"

"What did you intend to do?"

"Why, to take the child home with me; to move to another street,
and live in some little house on the other side of the Arno, where I
could let it be understood that the child was my own----".

"That would be perfectly useless, for they will seek this little
innocent with the ardor of the bloodhound pursuing the wild beast;
and while you would fail to save him, you yourself would run extreme
danger. This dear head must be defended by very different means;
the space of a thousand miles between him and his persecutors would
hardly insure safety----"

"Ah, my Lady! I cannot leave Florence!"

"What! You cannot? Do you then repent of your kindness? Will you
break your promise to me?"

"Ah, my Lady! You know that I am a wife. My husband is far distant;
now how can I, consistently with my duty, go away without his
consent? How leave a country which he does not wish to leave? If
he were to return, and, finding me gone, his love for me should be
changed to hatred, should he say: 'Since she is gone, I shall take no
more trouble about her;' were I to become a wanderer over the world
without him, should he doubt the great love I feel for him, and the
faith that I have always kept to him, and despise me--Ah, wretched
me!--I should die,--I should certainly die of grief----"

"You love your husband very much, Maria?"

"How could I help loving him? When, forsaken by every one, my
parents dead, without a single relation, banished from your heart, I
implored God to call me to Himself, because I had lost every reason
for wishing to live, and the Lord not granting my prayer, I felt
myself plunged in despair, this beloved youth had pity upon me and
said: 'Come, poor forsaken one; rest upon my arm, and we will make
the journey of life together; if you wish for love, I offer you a
heart capable of loving:'--and I clung to him, as St. Peter did to
the robe of Christ, when he felt himself drowning, and I was saved:
life became pleasant to me, and has always remained so, because I
feel that I give pleasure to him--to my husband--my only comfort on
earth----"

"How happy you are! But reassure yourself, Maria; I shall know the
moment he returns, and then I will contrive either to speak to him
myself, or, failing in that, will send a monk of holy demeanor and
sweet eloquence, who will be able to make him contented, and willing
to appreciate your good and pious action, so that if he love virtue,
as he must, loving you, he not only will bear no ill-will against
you, but will love you a thousand times more than before----"

"You say well: but if you should not be able either to speak or
to send to him; if, in the bitterness of the unexpected calamity,
he should be overcome by passion, and destroy himself or fall
sick--Alas! I tremble at the mere thought that he might be sick, and
not have his Maria by his bedside to care for him----"

"I swear to you by my soul, that he shall know it before he enters
the gates of Florence; do not fear, I bind myself by my word as a
Princess and a Christian----"

"But even if I could trust you in this, Isabella, how could I endure
to banish myself for ever from my country?"

"And what is there now in this country of ours to bind you to it?
The spirit of the republic is irrevocably departed, not like a
flame extinguished by force, but like a candle which has burned to
the socket. Most of her worthiest children wander sadly, either in
voluntary or forced exile, so that it may be said of Florence as it
was of Pisa after the defeat at Meloria, that to see Pisa it was
necessary to go to Genoa. In Lyons and in Paris you will meet the
flower of our citizens. The royal buildings and the churches in
France equal, if they do not surpass, our own. There, as here, the
earth produces pleasant fruits; there, as here, the sun and stars
shed their blessed light; there, as here, people love, hate, are
born, live and die; and God exalts the humble, casts down the proud,
and listens to the prayer of innocent souls like yours----"

"Yes, but there is no shrine before which I love to pray so well as
that of the _Santissima Annunziata_ in the city, and in the country
that of the _Impruneta_; the sound of the organ does not exalt me,
unless its echoes swell beneath the arches of _Santa Maria del
Fiore_; the sweet breeze of evening does not refresh me, unless it
blows upon me from between the _Duomo_ and _San Giovanni_. O my Lady,
when I see the trunk of a tree cut down at the root half buried in
the earth, despoiled henceforward of flowers and fruits, and rendered
offensive to the sight by the millions of ants which have half-eaten
it, I think to myself--'Such it is to be an exile.' And then I love
to look at well known faces, I love to say, when a child is born
here,--'That is the child of Ginevra or of Laudomine;' if any one
dies--'God rest the soul of Giulio, of Lapo, or of Baccio;' but away
from one's country, you hear always around you--'Behold the child of
the foreigner; behold the companion of the foreigner;' and without
really intending it, the people among whom you dwell never cease
making you feel that you are nothing there, that you do not belong to
their land, that you are privileged in being allowed to breathe their
air, to be gladdened by their light and warmed by their sun. Who
would speak to me again in the language in which my darling mother
chid me when idle, or rewarded me when diligent? And if I wanted
nothing else in that foreign land, who could enable me to kneel upon
the stone which covers the bones of my parents, and repeat for them
the _De profundis_? In my afflictions, when it seemed as if I were
utterly abandoned, I went to their grave and grieved with them at
my undeserved fate, praying them to receive me into eternal peace;
suddenly I seemed to hear a voice, I am sure that I really did hear
one, which comforted me, saying: 'Do not despair, continue to walk
in the way of the Lord, for you are already near the end of your
trials.'"

Isabella changed color many times while Maria was speaking; suddenly
she threw herself at her feet, and clasping her knees, thus implored
her:

"Maria, by the bones of your parents, by the welfare of your soul and
mine, I conjure you not to deny me what you have promised. Behold
a mother utterly desolate; see if 'ever sorrow was like unto my
sorrow;' I will not release your knees until you have given me peace;
I will not raise my face from the dust until you have pronounced the
word that gives me life. Some future day you may return to this land
which is so dear to you, and that day cannot be far distant, for
those who wish my death will quickly follow me to the tomb. And you,
my child--unfortunate before you could understand what misfortune
is--lift up your hands and entreat this woman who alone can preserve
your life; I can do nothing for you; to stay by my side would bring
certain death upon you. Maria! Maria! May the Virgin show you mercy
upon your death-bed as you now show it to me! Have pity upon a mother
who must else see her son slaughtered before her eyes--for Christ's
sake----!"

And seeing that Maria hesitated, undecided what to do, she rose
wildly and clutching the child, who began to wail piteously, she
advanced with resolute step towards the balcony.

"Since," she muttered convulsively, "since I cannot save you, at
least I will not see you die; let us perish together; they must
collect the mangled remains of both. Maria, farewell! May this
murder, which you might have prevented, not rise up in judgment
against you. Come, my baby, let us leave this world where virtue and
hatred are equally cruel--all wicked and cruel----"

Like one, who, after a long and terrible struggle, has at last
resolved upon what part to take, Maria sprang after Isabella, and
clinging to her dress, exclaimed,

"Well--I will go--to France----"

Isabella, throwing her disengaged arm round her neck, sobbed without
being able to utter a word. When she had somewhat recovered from her
violent excitement, she said,

"We must hasten, for the hour approaches."

She then divested the child of its gay trappings of velvet, and put
them with the laces and counterpane into the gilded cradle, then
kindling the fire she put them all in it.

"Let this finery be destroyed for ever, it would not bring you
honor but disgrace; you must forget your origin. Child of shame,
be satisfied if the fault of your parents be not visited upon you.
Maria, I prophesy that he will be to you a best beloved son, and you
certainly will look upon him as one; for we love our fellow beings
in proportion to the trouble that they cost us, and to the benefits
which we confer upon them; and you are conferring one upon him, which
the heart can understand, but which the lips cannot express. Maria,
he will be the pride of your life, the comfort of your old age; here
I transfer to you all the rights of a mother, which you will exercise
much better than I could have done. You will exert them innocently
and religiously, for that will be piety in you, which in me would
be sin; but whencesoever they arise the rights of a mother are holy
and sacred. You will bring him up in the fear of the Lord, make him
humble and gentle; proud thoughts are not suitable to him. Watch
carefully that cruel feelings do not steal into his heart; do not
disclose to him his birth, nor, alas! who was his mother; he would
despise me, and the scorn of their children weighs more heavily upon
the bones of parents than the marble stone. At some future time, if
you should discover him to be compassionate--as I hope and pray he
will be--if then he wishes at any rate to know who his mother was,
tell him--'an unfortunate one!' Maria, I implore you to impress it
upon him never to remove this little pearl cross which I take from my
neck and put on his. Mark well what I have said, for it is my last
will, and these my last words, that I now say to you. Adieu, my own,
pardon me the life which I have given you; adieu, never to see you
again--but perhaps in heaven hereafter. But how can I hope that God
will pardon my crime? I will weep day and night--I will expiate my
sin with blood, and appeased Justice will not forbid Mercy to join
in Heaven those whom sin has separated on earth. But--the Mother of
Christ pardon me the prayer--if in the life beyond the tomb we may
not be united, may you at least, my son, be admitted into Paradise;
in eternal torments, it will still be some comfort to your mother
to know that you are happy in the abode of the blessed. Maria--take
him--I dare not bless him for fear my benediction should bring evil
upon his head----"

"My poor Lady! Bless him, bless him, for the Lord will listen to your
blessing as to that of a saint----"

"Do you really believe so, Maria?"

"By all my hopes of Heaven, I do believe it----"

"O Lord, cleanse my hands for a moment, that I may bless this
innocent head," exclaimed Isabella, raising her eyes to Heaven and
praying silently. Then a glorious radiance spread over her face.
Reassured, she extended her hands over the child and added:

"Go, my son, I bless you----"

Then, trembling, she took the light and continued:

"Come; before daybreak, they will call for you and will escort you
to Livorno, where a vessel is waiting for you. Come; I feel as if we
could not be quick enough."

Maria took the baby, and wrapped him in a brown cloak. Isabella
preceded her with the light, as she had done on her arrival. Reaching
the bottom of the staircase, she raised her hand several times to
open the door, but seemed unable; at last, a new thought came
suddenly into her mind, restoring her strength and fortitude.

"One kiss--another--another still! Maria--my son--farewell for
ever----"

Maria kissed her, weeping, and went out quickly, slipping hastily
along close to the wall.

Isabella, overwhelmed with anguish, sank down upon the step, and
leaned her forehead against the marble--her forehead was colder than
the stone.



CHAPTER VII.

JEALOUSY.

    Che dolce più, che più giocondo stato
    Saria di quel di un amoroso core?
    Che viver più felice, e più beato,
    Che ritrovarsi in servitù di Amore?
    Se non fosse l'uom' sempre stimolato
    Da quel sospetto rio, da quel timore,
    Da quel martir, da quella frenesia,
    Da quella rabbia detta gelosia.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Questa è la cruda, e avvelenata piaga
    A cuí non val liquor, non vale impiastro,
    Nè murmure, nè imagine di saga.

    ARIOSTO, XXXI.

    Man no state more blissful knows
    Than what Love on life bestows;
    Then our happiest hours we prove
    When we are the slaves of love.
    But alas! how brief our bliss!
    Still suspicion's serpents hiss
    Round our heart, and that curs'd fear--
    Frenzy--martyrdom--is near,--
    Rage--that fires the heart and eye,
    Called by mortals Jealousy.

           *       *       *       *       *

    This, that cruel, poisoned wound
    For whose cure no herb is found;
    If that fatal dart we feel,
    Art nor charm nor skill can heal.


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven." These are the words of Christ, and although I do not doubt
that they have been understood according to the deep wisdom with
which they were uttered, yet I will discourse a little, not upon
them, for they have no need of comment, but after their instruction.
Man should avoid those studies which make him doubt. He should love
himself first, but in a just manner, then his family, then his
country. There have been, and perhaps there still are, men who love
their country more than themselves; but an acute observer will easily
understand that sacrificing one's life (compared to which, everything
else seems but of little value) is generally induced by a great
love of praise and an uncontrollable thirst for fame; and that in
truth they love renown better than life. The soul should be neither
a Menade nor a Bacchante through the fields of knowledge; science
has its fatal orgies, more than dissipation; the waters do not
always flow clear, fresh, and sweet from its urn; they are sometimes
poisoned. The tree of knowledge is not only, not the tree of life,
but the Lord said to man:--"But of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die." The man who has seen too much, like
Delia contemplating the sun, has become blind with too much light;
his heart has turned to ashes, he is not exalted by anything, has
faith in nothing; virtue and crime, morality and vice, sound the same
to him, they are like sweet fruits in one country, and poisonous ones
in another, the fault of the earth or the climate: the soul is to him
a breath which ceases with death, home the place where he shelters
his head from the storm: God a name.

Man should be satisfied to stop short at the _quia_:[44] for if he
trusts himself to travel thus at random through the regions of
knowledge, the evils resulting from this restless wandering would
be equal to those which are the consequence of continual travelling
throughout the physical world. The latter takes away his family,
friends, and home: the former his faith and affections. Job truly
compares too much knowledge to a heap of ashes, for it is in truth
the most unhappy remains of a fire which will never burn again. I
have already said the Creator should have suspended truth as the
only luminary from the firmament: for then no one could have doubted
its beneficial light and heat, as perhaps some have done of the Sun:
and I say _perhaps_, since there have been men who doubted whether
the sun was a mass of fire, believing it to be rather a mass of ice
causing a rotary motion in the molecules of the air:--which is a
German idea. Ahasuerus, the wandering Jew, represents the symbol of
this insatiable desire of knowledge: he travels and travels over
desert shores, over burning sands, over snowy fields: he has seen
the cupola of St. Peter's, the mosques of Constantinople, and the
temples of Brahma and Buddha: he has seen dogs, oxen, crocodiles, and
serpents worshipped: even onions raised to the dignity of Gods!

    Porrum et cepe nefas violare, ac frangere morsu.
    O sanctas gentes, quibus haec nascuntur in hortis
    Numina!--JUVENAL, _Satire_ 15.

He has seen bloodless sacrifices, sacrifices of blood and human
victims; he has seen everything: he has forgotten all he knew, and
all that he has learned is not sufficient to appease the feverish
craving of his intellect: all that he wishes to know in order to
satisfy his burning thirst, is inclosed within the urn of destiny:
he hates to return home, for no one expects him there: his relatives
are dead, generations have forgotten his name: he loves no one, and
no one loves him: he refuses friends, rejects affections, and avoids
binding ties which he MUST unbind to-morrow. Perhaps in that
great day when God will reveal his eternal face to the vast multitude
of created things, his agony will be appeased, and God will give him
rest, not for having loved much, but because he suffered much.[45]

  [44] The wherefore.

  [45] Ahasuerus is said to be a Jew, who, while Christ was
  ascending Golgotha, denied Him water to quench his thirst, and
  would not let him rest beneath the shadow of his house; he was
  therefore condemned to wander, for ever cursed and despised.
  This legend, very common in Germany, is only a fable, as any
  one may see. Edgar Quinet composed a drama on this subject, the
  personages represented being sphinxes, winds, trophies of arms,
  ruins, rivers, and even the ocean. It cannot be denied, however,
  that among so many and so strange fancies, this drama contains
  some noble passages of splendid poetry.

_Be contented, race of man, at the quia_:--

    State contente umane genti al quia,
    Che se potuto aveste veder tutto,
    Mestier non era partorir Maria.--DANTE.

else you will feel the earth tremble beneath your feet, and the
heavens fall upon your heads. You grow up educated in the supreme
idea of a Being who animates with the breath of his immortal mouth
all that has life in the universe; who breaks the oppressor like a
fragile reed, and shelters the oppressed under his mighty wing; but
in travelling you will find people who neither know God nor worship
Him; but make to themselves a God of dogs, serpents, oxen, elephants,
and onions, and often of a monster hideous to look upon, but much
more hideous in his bloody rites. It is piety in you to watch over
your old infirm father, to comfort him in his last moments with
loving cares, and close his eyes in peace; and yet there were and
still are people, who esteem it filial piety to drag their parents
from their suffering beds, and hanging them to the branches of trees,
light beneath them great fires, crying in their giddy dance around
them:--"when the fruit is ripe, it must fall,"--until the body falls
and is consumed in the fire. And you, fathers in our beloved country,
what sufferings would you not undergo, in order not to see your
beloved children torn from your arms, or murdered?

In China, they offer children as food to dogs, or throw them into
the river. In Africa they sell them; and Clapperton tells of a negro
woman, who offered her children for sale to him, and because he
would not buy them, cursed and beat them because they did not please
the white man. We deem it sacred to bury our beloved dead within
splendid monuments or tombs; elsewhere it is sacred to feed on their
limbs. Remorse and public hate await him who can and does not save a
drowning man: in China remorse and reproach are his reward who saves
the shipwrecked sailor. We have laws and sentences against robbery,
and the more skill and cunning do the thieves show, the more are they
punished. The Spartans rewarded thieves, and the more skill they
displayed the greater was the reward.

Nor is it to be supposed that the people among whom such horrible
customs are practised cannot give a reason, good or bad, for it. They
do not believe in God, because they do not understand Him; they are
not able to conceive other ideas save those that present themselves
to their senses, hence they refuse them. Foolish men! They presume
that God should be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid upon a
slate: for religion they want algebra, for an altar arithmetic,
for a votive offering a well summed up account, for a minister an
accountant. Others deem it a pity to cut short a life which has
now become an irremediable grief; others deem their own bosoms a
more suitable grave than earth or marble; others that it is a bold
attempt to oppose the designs of nature; others that citizens early
accustomed to subtle cunning are useful to the Republic. Travel and
learn; and while you are urged by a strong desire to gather flowers
from all the universe and rejoice in their delightful fragrance,
behold the evil worm of doubt creeps insidiously into your heart and
gnaws it. The sceptical heart is dead, but as the mind lives, we seem
like people who have outlived ourselves: keepers almost of our own
tombs.

Verily I advise you to be satisfied at the _quia_. Love much, read
little, and let that be poetry, the purest wine of the soul, a
precious ambrosia gushing from celestial fountains. And mark, I speak
of lofty poetry, the offspring of the mind inflamed by the heart, for
that poetry which comes from the intellect only, engenders doubt. Who
would have been more fortunate than Byron? Did Nature ever create
more powerful wings to soar to an immeasurable height? Who had a
better heart, a clearer mind? But he wished to see and know too
much, to scrutinize too minutely the genesis of the affections: a
new Acteon, he received the penalty of his bold investigations: his
own faithful hounds pursued him and tore him in pieces. As if for
sport he wished to add the chord of doubt to his lyre; he thought
it would increase the number of its varied sounds, but he deceived
himself: this chord cut his fingers worse than a dagger's edge. The
advice of Ephorus was most wise; he broke with an axe the new chord
added to the Argive lyre. The lyres of Olympus and Terpander, when
they accompanied the songs of gods and men, had but three chords:
twelve were those of the lyre of Timotheus when he sang at the
banquet of Alexander and Thais (from whence he who had acquired the
name of Great derived his infamy), and at the burning of the ancient
Persepolis: and three should be the chords of any lyre, that intends
to lead mankind through all that is honorable and great upon the
earth, to the eternal home of heaven; and these chords should be,
_Love_, _Faith_, and _Hope_.

But what has all this to do with my story? You will see that it has a
great deal to do with it, for, continuing, it will be shown how poor
people, with the fear of God, and firm in the precepts of Christian
charity, can give examples of virtue which might be sought in vain
among men gifted with greater talents and more liberal instruction.

Duke Bracciano, in company with Cecchino and Titta, turned with slow
steps towards the Casino St. Marco. The two servants now thought they
might refresh themselves with food and drink, and give some repose
to their wearied limbs: but they were deceived. The Duke, as soon
as he entered, fell upon the first seat he saw, and remained there
some time with his eyes closed: he lifted his hand to his head, and
pressing it as if afraid it might burst, said: "Here everything
poisons me! Here I breathe an atmosphere of crime! They have poured
a hell into my soul! Arouse, Titta and Cecchino; you must now show
your fidelity, courage, and discretion. Go to my palace, present
yourselves to my Lady the Duchess: warn her ... but no ... wait.
Bring me writing materials."

The landlord of the Casino brought promptly what he desired. The Duke
tried to write, but his trembling hand denied its office: he could
not hasten, but was obliged to wait. At last more calm, he wrote a
short note, which he sealed, and gave to Titta, and then continued
his interrupted orders:

"Do not warn her of anything: but give her this letter, and say you
precede me by one or two days. _Remember I am not in Florence._
Observe attentively every act, note every word, and when it is
spoken, or if she say anything, although it may seem of little
importance, come cautiously and tell me. I shall not leave here.--Go,
be faithful, do not fail in your duty to your master: you may shortly
know ... know what you never should have known ... and what ...
indeed! What I never should have told you."

And he dismissed them with a motion of his hand. The servants bowed
obsequiously and left.

After walking about a dozen steps, Titta began thus: "I hope Fortune
will, in the end, give us leave to sup; we have suffered more
ill-luck in our supper than ever befell the Emperor Charles in his
kingdom."

"I have been thinking, and have just decided, to leave the service of
the Duke, and go to my own house near by."

"God help you, have you lost your wits? It sometimes happens when we
travel in this season of the year beneath a hot sun."

"I have not lost my wits, Titta; no, I have not lost them. You see,
when I engaged myself as man-at-arms for my Lord Duke, it was for
a reason which I will tell you. My father lived in the time of the
Republic, and gave me a bad inheritance, for instead of educating me
to the times, he was always talking to me of Signor Giovanni of the
black bands, of Giacomino, Ferruccio, and other like men, so that a
fever took hold of me to follow in their footsteps, for I felt as if
nature had endowed me with something: but I did not see in what way
I could follow this inclination: the war with Siena was over, and
yet I would have cut my hand off before I would have leagued with
the assassins of those noble citizens. I married in order to quiet
this wild disposition: it was all nonsense. I did not know how to
settle myself to a mechanic's trade; thanks to Lady Isabella, who was
foster-sister to my wife, I took service with my Lord Duke, trusting
that he being made General by the Pope or Venetians, I might at least
bear arms against the enemies of Christ, those ugly Turkish dogs whom
God confound. But I have wasted the best years of my life in Rome
without drawing even a spider from his hole, and my sword has rusted
in its scabbard."

"Ah, yes! Death is so slow that it is really worth while to go and
meet it. Is it not so much life found? Have you not got your wages?
What can you do in this world better than to eat and sleep?"

"Why so? Were not the men whose fame sounds upon the lips of the
people flesh and blood like us? Did they not bask in the same rays
of light? Did not winter chill them, and summer warm them? Did they
not weep and laugh? Were they not mortals like us?"

"Hear me, Cecchino; there are men who grow up like pines, others like
grass: the latter is born every year, and every year is cut down with
the scythe; it is left to dry upon the fields, and then is given to
cattle. We are of the second species. The hay might say: I wish to be
a pine! Just so one of us might presume to become duke, prince, or I
know not what. When you shall have left one eye in Africa, one arm
in America, one leg in Hungary, to the remaining trunk of your body,
within which your immortal soul is sheltered like a garrison in the
fortress of a castle, they will give the title of sergeant, and a
couple of ducats for pay. Once, in republics, we had a chance to come
out something: but nowadays glory is for great lords: it is our duty
to be killed; so the best thing is to draw our pay, and preserve our
health as well as we can. If life is an evil, death is a worse one.
We call this world a valley of tears; but it would seem as if men
liked to weep, for no one would ever leave it unless expelled from
it."

"And supposing you are right, I never will eat bread gained through
baseness and crime; it would break out my teeth, and turn to poison
in my stomach. I wish to live in peace with myself."

"God help you! What do you want your master to do with your virtue?
You remind me of Diogenes, who cried when brought to the market-place
to be sold: 'Who wants to buy a master?' Virtue is a sail with which
we make but little progress over the sea of life; in these times
virtue is as useful as a warming-pan in August. Watchfulness over
our master's safety, obedience to his commands, a German patience
to wait in a corner, promptness to give a stab in the dark that
despatches without giving time for a Jesu Maria, and a mystery in not
having it discovered, will procure us all the fame that is granted us
to acquire, and bread for ourselves and families...."

"No, never will I do this; no, by St. John the Baptist my protector;
I pray him to give me an evil death first. Go, spy and tell. I would
rather bite my tongue out than play the spy. Titta, do you not
smell blood here? One of these days we must give an account of this
bloodshed. And what pretext, what excuse can we give for it? Can we
say: 'ask the account of our master?'"

"Indeed, you make me have some scruple; not for the blood, for this
is part of our trade. They have really bought us soul and dagger, and
to use it in a different way certainly than the Emperor Domitian; but
the name of spy sticks in my throat ... besides, the Duke debases us
without necessity. What need is there (for I see plain enough that
here is the knot) for spies to know if a wife is unfaithful? Do you
not think so, Cecchino? Would he be the first husband to find out
that all is not gold that glitters? As it has been said: women are
all of the same stamp!..."

"That is not true; I would swear now, you are saying what you do not
believe, Was not your mother a woman?"

"Ah, yes! my mother was a woman; but I was not speaking, nor thinking
of her just then; I said it of the others...."

"And do you not believe a woman can love?" ...

"I believe it, although it sometimes seems the contrary. Place
yourself at the mouth of a cave, and utter a cry within it; the
echo will repeat it six or seven times. But is the cry yours, or
the cave's? Yours. It seems as if other voices replied to you, but
you are deceived, for all these voices are one and the same thing
as your own voice. So when you say to a woman:--I love you,--she
will reply:--I love you, love you, love you;--but woe to you if you
believe she said it by herself; it was the echo of your own voice,
and woe to you if you fall in love with your own voice as Narcissus
did with his own face...."

"Listen, Titta, I am young and of little experience; but I can see
that your heart bleeds, perhaps from some deserved wound: you have
not been loved, or have been betrayed; but have you ever loved?"

"I speak philosophically, without reference to myself. What I tell
you is natural, and cannot be otherwise. Inconstancy is a fruit of
youth like the fragrant red strawberry of spring; constancy is a
fruit of mature age like the medlar of autumn;--therefore in woman
virtue may be called the medlar of life! All beautiful things seem
splendid in variety. Look at the rainbow, look at the dove's neck
in the sunlight, look at the peacock's tail. Why do bees make sweet
honey and wax? Because they fly from flower to flower. Women are
moved by the same impulse as the bees. We are stupid creatures, to
think of taking a soul and shutting it up in a cage like a bird, or
nailing it down as a money changer does a ducat on his counter; even
more cruel than stupid, after we are dead, we thrust a bony arm from
the grave and presume to hold a poor woman by the hair. If she will
keep herself a good widow,--the will says,--she shall have so much;
if not, nothing;--very bad ideas in bad words; because we are dead,
shall not others enjoy life?"

"All this would be very well, if life was a book, that we close on
coming to the conclusion, and put away to see no more; but as we must
think to meet again in the valley of Jehosaphat, if one's wife has
had another husband, or even two, which will she have? With which
shall she live to all eternity?"

"With the one she likes best; and there is no use to fret about that,
since all shall have their turn; all shall be satisfied, if you only
think of the length of eternity in women, which I have been assured
by people worthy of belief, lasts all one week and sometimes a little
over the next Monday."

"Go, go, you will die despairing, since you deny love.--Love, the
sweetest union of spirits, two souls joined in one, redoubling
strength and help, nourished by mutual sacrifices like the violet on
dew."

"Nonsense, my boy, nonsense; love is an instinct of rapine, the agony
of power, and the tenacity of possession. The love for a woman is
like the love of property. Time was, but a time very, very distant,
according to all accounts even before Adam, in which _mine_ and
_thine_ meant nothing on the tongues of men; a traveller seeing a
ripe fruit hanging from a tree, plucked and ate it. But one night
certain envious men met together, and digging a pit around some land
more fertile than the rest, said in the morning: no one shall pass
beyond this pit, for the land here is our property.--People did not
care though, and did the same as before. Then these envious men
planted a stone on the limits, and threatened evil to whomsoever
should dare to pass it. 'Twas of no more use than before; the
excluded men looked upon it as a joke. Finally they put an axe upon
the stone, and said: Whosoever passes beyond now, shall die.--But the
excluded men laughed still more at this buffoonery and passed over;
the others, however, lay in ambush, took them, and murdered them.
Then the women wept, children cried, and property entered into the
minds of men because they had cut off the heads of others."

"Pardon me, but where did you find all this nonsense? However bad it
may be, it is not flour from your bag."

"Indeed it is not: if you could only have been so fortunate as to
have heard it as I did from the lips of that great philosopher, that
divine...."

"What divine?"

"Pietro Aretino."

"Ah! I do not want to hear any more. All have called him, and still
do call him divine; which title, if it does not give testimony of his
divinity, certainly bears witness to the extreme cowardice of the men
who conferred it on him, or consented to it."

"You slander him; he was firm in his friendship, and had great
affection for Sir Giovanni dei Medici of the black band, and followed
him through hardship and danger in his most daring exploits...."

"This friendship spoils the fame of that renowned man. I know very
well that while Sir Giovanni was fighting, he was dallying with the
women of the camp...."

"That is not true, for he received some wounds."

"What of that? When did the receiving of a wound ever signify
prowess? Even Achille della Volta stabbed him, and he received the
wounds weeping and begging for life? And what reply did he make to
Tintoretto when he measured him with a cutlass? He was smooth as oil.
And when Piero Strozzi threatened to kill him in his bed, did he not
shut himself up in his house, nailing doors and windows for fear of
air?"[46]

  [46] Achille della Volta stabbed severely the satirical poet
  Pietro Aretino in Rome, and on this account his arm was lame
  daring his lifetime. Tintoretto, the painter, hearing that
  Aretino spoke very badly of him, meeting him one day near his
  studio, invited him very courteously to walk in, and look at
  his pictures. Aretino went, and Tintoretto, after bolting the
  door, without saying a word went to a closet and took out a
  cutlass, and advanced with threatening aspect towards Aretino.
  "Alas! Tonio," exclaimed Pietro, trembling, "what do you mean
  to do? Do not allow yourself to be tempted by the devil! Would
  you kill me without sacrament, like a dog?" Tintoretto quietly
  approached him, who was trembling from head to foot, and measured
  him with the cutlass, and seeing he was almost ready to die with
  fright, said: "Fear not, Sir Pietro; for taking a fancy to paint
  your portrait, I wanted to measure you: you can go now; you are
  exactly three cutlasses and a half high!" and opening the door
  he dismissed him. Aretino always spoke well of Tintoretto after
  that. Aretino having been very intimate with John dei Medici
  of the black-bands, continued his attachment to the Grand Duke
  Cosimo his son, from whom he received many presents, as shown by
  his letters; therefore, adverse to Piero Strozzi at the time of
  the war with Siena, he wrote a humorous sonnet upon him, which
  began thus:

    E, Piero Strozzi arma virumque cano, etc.

  Piero, after that, warned him to carry the extreme unction in his
  pocket, for he would cause him to be murdered even were he in his
  own bed. Aretino, frightened, dared not go out of his house for a
  year or more. I cannot conclude this note without recording the
  epitaphs or _epigrams_, in the true meaning of the word (since
  the ancients meant by epigrams those funeral inscriptions, full
  of contumelies, written for men yet living), which Paolo Giovio
  and Pietro Aretino exchanged.

  Giovio said:

    Qui giace l'Aretin, poeta Tosco:
    Di tutti disse mal, fuorchè di Cristo,
    Scusandosi col dir: non lo conosco.

    Here Aretino lies, in many a poem
    Who railed at all mankind save Jesus Christ,
    And this was his excuse: I do not know him.

  And Aretino replied with this:

    Qui giace il Giovio, storicone altissimo,
    Di tutti disse mal, fuorchè dell' asino,
    Scusandosi col dur, egli è mio prossimo.

    Here Giovio lies, historian widely known,
    All he defamed, except the Ass alone;
    And when his friends, astonished, asked him why?
    He is my next of kin, was his reply.

"What can one do against people who take one unarmed and
unawares? And if Piero made Duke Cosimo fear him, what wonder if
the divine tried to guard himself from him? But what devotion
he showed towards his children Austria and Adria? You should
have seen how much he thought of them, and how careful he was to
assure them a dowry in the hands of the Duke of Urbino, and how
he recommended them to all his friends!"

"He loved them to sell them----"

"_Per Dio!_ Do not say so----!"

"Do not say so? I will say so while I have breath enough. What,
do you think the shameful rumor of the death of this bad,
villanous dog, never reached me? Did he not die with bursting
into infamous laughter on hearing of some disgraceful stories of
his sisters in Venice? Go, you are corrupt to the very bone. Go,
eat the bread of blood: I swear to die of hunger first: go, keep
your faith, and I mine. When your last hour comes you will see
at your pillow the devil, who will erase the baptismal mark from
your brow: I hope to see my virtuous and beloved wife, my good
children, and the peace of angels. Let us part; you go alone to
the Orsini palace."

"You see, I should get into a passion with you, and let you know
that Titta never suffers an insult; but I also learnt this from
the Divine, fortunate are they who proclaim the truth, if they
do not get stoned. I will say at the palace, you are ill, or
something else; I will frame an excuse to leave you time to give
rest to your brain, and return to-morrow to your usual post."

"Thanks; I do not mean to return, and shall not. Titta! come
here. Look, that is my house: I was born and brought up in it.
Titta! do you not see a light in the window? Tell me; my eyes are
full of tears, and do not see clearly. Holy Virgin! Is there not
a woman in the balcony? Do I see right or wrong, Titta?"

"You see right; there certainly is a woman there."

"Oh, it is my Mary! Poor woman, she is waiting for me! Who knows
how many nights she has passed at that window! Oh, what joy to
see my dear kind Mary again!"

Thus exclaiming, he set out at such a rate that a wild goat could
not have kept pace with him. Titta tried to recall him in vain,
crying, "Cecchino, stop; Cecchino, hear!"

But he ran faster than ever. Weary and hot, Cecchino reached the
door of his house, and scarcely had he called in a breathless
voice, Mary!--before the woman replied,--Cecchino!--and with a
cry of joy disappeared from the balcony and descended the stairs.
In a few moments the street door opened, and these two beings
rushed into each other's arms, mingling tears, kisses, and sobs,
with such unrestrained passion, as to have caused deep emotion to
any spectator.

Titta came up soon after, but found the door shut and bolted; he
thought he would knock, but refrained, saying:

"I might as well knock at the door of a churchyard, and wait
until our first father, Adam, came to open to me. _Requiem
æternam dona eis, Domine._ Cecchino has certainly shown himself a
fool. There is no use in getting anything out of him. God knows
if I've not tried to do the best I could for him, as if he were
my own son, and even tried to make a scholar of him. See now how
a woman has upset the whole. It is useless! until the women are
taken out of it, and men are not grafted like plum trees, the
world will go on from bad to worse. But he is young; and young
blood must have its way; to-morrow he will come back, a little
cast down perhaps, but he will soon come back. Now, I must see to
everything alone; but I will eat first, and then go to bed, and
sleep as long as I please. And will my Lord Paolo Giordano wait?
Certainly he must wait! I have no need of him: these masters
expect us to be good and bad; amiable and quarrelsome; faithful
and traitors; stupid and wise; angels and devils; then, never to
eat, never to dress, and never to ask questions: in short, if a
servant possessed half the qualities a master asks in him, there
never would be so poor a one that did not deserve to have for
servant a Marquis at least. Besides, what use is it to watch?
Julia must be in the house. In less than five minutes I shall
know more than I can remember or repeat; and even without so much
loss of breath, if I choose to play the lover to her, who will
dispute it? Certainly not she; our bond is lasting and strong;
not limited, nor barren; we, instead of the individual, love
the whole race: she, all the men; I, all the women; in this way
there is no distance, no absence for us; we are always present,
always in love; we are like pearls of the same necklace; we
make a garland of every flower and crown our life with it. One
flower does not make Spring; love is not comprised in one single
affection." With these ideas revolving in his mind, Titta turned
from Cecchino's house, delaying no longer his arrival at the
palace.

I return more willingly now to Cecchino and Mary. Embracing each
other and happy, they mounted, or rather flew, up the staircase,
resembling two doves, hastening with outspread wings to their
sweet nest. On reaching the room above they renewed their tender
greetings: one questioned the other, and the other in reply
questioned in turn; and not waiting for replies they poured forth
a torrent of words burning with curiosity and passion. But this
singular colloquy at last ceased, and laughing heartily, they
exchanged kisses again. Mary, with sparkling eyes and blushing
cheeks, first spoke: "Come, you are covered with dust and
perspiration; let me bring water to wash your hands and face."

And she brought a basin of water; singing as happily as if
it were a sunny noon, and not midnight; she then opened a
chest-of-drawers, bringing out a towel of cleanest linen,
fragrant with cassia flowers, assisting him in drying his face
and hands upon it. Nor did her attention stop here, for a good
wife is the dearest joy of a man's heart; but she sat down,
and taking Cecchino's head in her lap, combed his hair nicely,
freeing it of the dust, and arranging it smoothly around his
neck. Then raising his head with both hands, looked smilingly
in his face, exulting as a good and virtuous wife should, in a
valiant, handsome husband, saying truly from her heart, as she
kissed his brow:

"You look to me like an angel." ...

"But this angel," replied Cecchino, "not being as yet divested of
its earthly clothing, is as hungry as one of Adam's children even
can be."

"Indeed? I did not know you wanted anything. Why did you not say
so before? Do not think you take me unprovided. You may find but
little in your house, but enough to satisfy your wants."

"What could I do? We have travelled more than fifty miles without
stopping. We arrived to-night, and never until we got here did we
stop long enough to wet our lips."

"But did you not come with the Duke?"

"Yes, but it is not to be known. He did not stop at the palace.
But more of this by-and-by."

"Yes, my dear, by-and-by."

She then set the table in the twinkling of an eye, not on account
of the few dishes and little food she put upon it, but because of
the great haste she made. The Florentines then had the reputation
of being beyond measure frugal and parsimonious, well becoming
all those who live honestly; and they still have it. Certainly
they once were so; but it is not to be believed they suffered
from it; and even by the laws called financial, often renewed,
and strenuously enforced, we learn that civil parsimony did not
spring up spontaneously, but in consequence of continual laws:
we learn also that the statute allowed for dinner two viands
alone, the roast and boiled, but the Florentines eluded it very
easily by using various kinds of boiled and roasted meats, for
the only boiled and roasted one prescribed by the statute. As to
dress, Franco Sacchetti has recorded in his very pleasing novel,
the great cunning shown by the ladies, by which the judges could
never catch them transgressing, or even succeed in applying the
laws to them. And when persons of high rank came to Florence,
the citizens who entertained them paid the fine and displayed
royal magnificence. The records of that time describe the manner
Lorenzo the Magnificent entertained Franceschetto Cibo and his
Court, when he came to marry his daughter; and this description
serves to show how old is the fashion in all those who attempt
to destroy the liberty of their country, in studiously observing
appearances, in order to sharpen the axe to cut the substance.
But then the chests were full of golden florins, the commerce
great, industry wonderful, enterprises prodigious; and in those
times designs were conceived and executed, that nowadays astonish
us only to look at. Unjust then is the reputation that now exists
of Florentine avarice; a recent testimony to it, we find in the
satires of D'Elci, where he says:

    ----a te torno, o mia frugal Firenze,
    Dove avarizia ha splendide apparenze.

Many confirm this, but, as is often the case, rather upon the
assertion of others than from real observation. The demon of
luxury and idleness rules the Florentines at the present time:
like all the other nations of Europe, I will not say that they do
not believe, but they trust little to a celestial Paradise; they
have built a new terrestrial one without the tree of knowledge.
It matters little, if they pluck flowers of a day and let them
wither; as long as they are renewed, it is enough; whatever
endures, wearies; to live and enjoy comprises the extreme limit
of their wishes. Once the age doubted between good and evil;
and this was surely a great labor for both heart and brain, yet
the labor itself gave a proof of life: now the age believes,
yes, believes, but its belief is not in the good. We all live
as if the physician had given us over; and it would seem as if
we feared that to-morrow the heavens might not cover the earth:
no more pyramids, no more obelisks; the longest work we dare to
undertake is making a garland of flowers: the spider's web seems
too secular a thing, we form ourselves into a number of beings
born to devour the wheat. Let us then adorn the brows of our
heroes with poppies, let sleep be the Epic of our age, yawning
its history. Greater life awaits us in the grave than on this
earth, at least during the period of putrefaction. No one can
give us reasonable reproof: we are for the age, the age for us:
the niche and the saint harmonize wonderfully. Why wear ourselves
out in procuring a fame we hate? Why attend to studies which make
us doubt an existence, which we with all kinds of violence try to
steep in oblivion? Our children will grow up worse or better than
ourselves: if worse, every argument will be in vain; if better
they will be ashamed of our miseries. Better then to sleep, be
silent, enjoy, and die. This is truly the triumph of death!

Two plates were placed opposite each other upon the table. All
was ready, and yet Cecchino seemed to have no desire to taste the
food he had craved; he kept his face turned towards the head of
the table, and all at once a tear trickled down his cheek, and he
gave vent to a deep sigh.

His wife, seeing this sudden despondency, said anxiously:

"Holy Virgin! What is the matter? What troubles you, my dear?
Tell me quickly, do not keep anything from your poor wife...."

"Ah! Mary, do you not remember when last seated at this table we
were three?"

A long silence succeeded these words; Mary was the first to break
it:

"Mother Laudomia has certainly gone to heaven. With how much joy
did she see her last hour approach? How she talked with saints,
who seemed near her, to assist in her soul's transition. This
life had become a burden to her; the sweet light of day no longer
cheered her loving eyes; and your mother, Cecchino, would never
have seen your face again. She died as a bride going to her
nuptials, and happy in knowing you so well trained in the way of
the Lord, that nothing would ever cause you to forsake it. Her
last thought was God's, her last but one yours. Tell him--she
enjoined upon me in her last words--tell him I bless him, tell
him his children shall honor him, because he was kind to his
mother; and at last, when weary of life, his mother shall await
him in heaven. Therefore be comforted, and do not give way to
sorrow...."

"Certainly the good woman was old, and is now a dweller in a
heavenly home; but it would have been a great comfort to me if I
could have seen her again...."

"And how do we know but while we are talking she is near us? If,
as we believe, we are soul and body, and that the soul feels
love, may not God grant it to return and visit persons and places
that were dear to it in this world? Console yourself, Cecchino;
for time passes, and it is not always the worst thing to die,
sometimes it is to live...."

Cecchino at last began to eat, but the desire for food had
passed, so that the repast was soon finished; perhaps he drank,
however, more than he meant. His wife, partly through curiosity,
and partly to distract his sad thoughts, turned the conversation
upon the Duke.

"The Duke has arrived, then?"

"He has; but I must look out for employment elsewhere?"

"Why; has he sent you away?"

"No, I left on my own account.... But you shall hear: although I
know it is best not to trust secrets to women's ears, yet having
always found you faithful and discreet, I will hide nothing from
you. The Duke has come, and, as I believe, with bad intentions.
We entered Florence mysteriously, and silently, by night; he
talked a long time with his brother-in-law, and went cautiously
afterwards to some rooms in the Casino of St. Marco; he remained
there alone, sending me with another follower to tell Lady
Isabella that to-morrow, or the day after, he would arrive:
meanwhile we were to watch every word and deed, then come and
report it carefully to him...."

"For what reason?"

"The reason is plain enough," replied Cecchino, lowering his
voice; "the rumor of Lady Isabella's way of life has reached as
far as Rome; I firmly believe that he has come to avenge his
honor in the blood of his wife; and I would not give a ducat for
the Duchess's life from this time."

"But is there no way of saving this unfortunate lady?"

"None; for it seems her brothers want to punish her more than
her husband; besides, she should receive the penalty due to
her crime; and if I, instead of going to spy her actions, thus
becoming a participator in her death, staining my hands with her
blood, have chosen to take voluntary leave of the Duke, I do not
for that feel disposed to run any danger for one who does not
deserve it."

"Oh, how can you talk so? Then the fair name of a noble lady
may be in the power of the first low fellow who chooses to
contaminate it? Do you think that merely the slanderous charge of
so grievous a crime must be revenged by so cruel a punishment?"

"Conviction has no need of witnesses or instruments: and when
the people speak, God has spoken: if it is not a wolf, it is the
shadow of one."

"And supposing I allow, although against my will, that she is
guilty, tell me, who has given the Duke a right upon the life
of his wife? Has this judge a clear conscience? Is the accuser
himself innocent? Has this priest pure hands? And if he is not
innocent, why dares he to judge and condemn in others the guilt
he has himself committed?"

"Oh! it is a far different thing in a man than in a woman. She
brings children into the family that should never be there,
divides property among persons with whom it should never be
shared: the suspected illegitimate child is shunned by all; they
scorn him, and he hates them; and we have too often seen that
these bad buds bring forth in families bloody fruits."

"That is not so; for do you ever see a man who bringing forth
children out of a house, abandons them? And if he does, the world
blames him, and his conscience reproves him for it; and if he
provides for them, does he not unjustly diminish the property of
his legitimate children? No; equal are the duties, equal is the
crime, and equal should be the pardon or the punishment."

"Yet it is not so, and I do not believe as you say. There must be
a reason for it, although I do not know one...."

"Listen, you cannot find one, because there is none; if there
was, it would come into your mind spontaneously. Thinking
within myself I have seen that the world rests upon certain
principles, called truths: some of them you can see and touch;
and great scholars as well as fools agree to them, and say--it
is right;--others, though, are not understood, they seem like
alchemy, and we must distil our brains over them to make them
comprehensible. The first seem to me lawful money, the second
spurious; the first comes from nature, the second from artifice."

"Ah! good women should not reason so skilfully, but obey the laws
men make for them...."

"A violent law, an unjust judge, a wicked punishment."

"In God's truth, you have become such a reasoner, that I am
afraid. Who put such immodest words into your mouth?"

"Reason...."

"Or perhaps the necessity of defending your own evil deeds?" And
maddened by anger, Cecchino took a knife from the table, and
passing it through the tablecloth, stuck it nearly an inch into
the table. Poor Mary, excited in favor of her mistress, took no
notice of this; but with obstinate petulance continued:--"What
deeds are you imagining? I tell you there should not be two
weights and two measures, and there are not...."

"It is well. Although I have no other proof of your own baseness,
and the Duchess's also, than your present boldness, it would be
enough for me, perhaps too much. Were these the joys, these the
greetings and the kisses, I looked for? Alas, miserable man!..."

Mary, struck by the changed aspect of her husband, asked what
sudden thought had troubled him; but he paid not attention to
her, and, like a man bewildered, he murmured threateningly:

"Ah! Titta, your words were true as gospel.--And I was going with
so much joy to meet a beloved wife! Better for me if I had broken
my legs; were husbands watch-dogs they never could be able to
guard their wives:--the thieves would enter by the roof. I will
kill myself: everything in the world is over for me. But you need
not rejoice in my death, Mary;--No, I vow to God my curse shall
cleave to you like marrow in the bone. You have betrayed me, you
shall be betrayed; unhappy days, a dark life and bitter death
await you...."

In the midst of these laments, which passion drew from him,
the noise of a child crying was heard in the next room, and an
infantile voice called:--

"Mama!--Mama!"

Cecchino's hair stood upright on his head like the quills of a
porcupine, his face was pale as a sheet, and then turned as red
as fire; his lips trembled convulsively, his eyes gleamed with
evil passion, and overcome by a brutal rage he seized Mary by
the arm, and dragged her into the next room. Scarcely had they
passed the threshold than a little child on the bed sat up, and
stretching its little hands joyfully towards Mary, cried again:

"Mama!--Mama!"

Cecchino, pale with rage, pushed Mary with so much force from him
that she fell against the bed, and upon the child.

Overcome by surprise, anger, fear, and by the turn of affairs,
she could not utter a word: but her anger soon gave place
to pity. Her heart was almost broken by so many conflicting
emotions: she glided from the bed, and knelt down, crossing her
hands humbly, before her angry husband. But he, becoming more
enraged at this act, muttered:

"No ... you must die ... we must all die ... there is no pity ...
I want none for myself ... think then if you deserve it ... or
this viper...."

Mary sobbed:

"Cecchino!... Cecchino!... hear me,"--but could say no more.

"Prepare to die ... you have one hour ... half an hour; ... no,
... only five minutes of life...."

"Hear me, ... let me speak...."

"Make your peace with God; ... but it is useless; traitors cannot
enter heaven...."

"I cannot...."

"Have you finished?"

Mary, in agony, unable to utter a single word, made a sign of
denial with her hand; and its expression was indescribable.
Ineffable sorrow oppressed her to think that a few words might
calm this tempest, soothe the anger, save so many dear lives, and
yet she could not utter a word. Cecchino, as if possessed with a
devil, impatient of delay, his passions becoming more cruel in
the thought of bloodshed, could hardly wait, so anxious was he to
stain his hands with her blood. Poor woman!

"If you are not anxious to end this, know that I am eager to
begin...."

Unsheathing his dagger, he stretched out his hand to grasp her.
Mary, uttering a cry, fell senseless to the ground. Cecchino,
his heart closed to pity, did not wait; he bent down to plunge
his dagger in her bosom, and tearing her clothes aside, saw
with wonder a letter drop from them: fancying it might be from
the hated betrayer of his happiness, he was glad to think that
now his revenge might reach even him. Taking up the letter and
drawing nearer to the light, he read on the outside:

"To Her most Christian Majesty, Catherine, Queen of France."

He thought he dreamed: he looked again; it was the same as
before. He then opened the letter, and read:

   "Most Honored as a Mother:--Considering the heinousness of my
   sins, and the punishment that may befall me on this earth,
   striving to obtain through God's infinite mercy that pardon
   which I humbly beg with all my mind, I have decided not to
   avoid the fate, whatever it may be, which Providence prepares
   for me. But in following this decision, which my guardian angel
   seems to have awakened within me, I cannot, nor ought I to
   include in my ruin an innocent being, and one most worthy of
   commiseration. I therefore confide this child of my sorrow to
   your pity: remember that its cradle is girded by serpents, and
   its life is like the life of a wild beast of the woods, which
   every man thinks he has a right and a reason to pursue. No less
   than the prudence and authority of a wise and powerful Queen
   like yourself is necessary to save this miserable being: except
   that I have good cause to hope in the woman to whom I trust
   this child: she leaves country, home, and kindred, to console
   me with brief comfort, in order to consign him to your Royal
   Highness's care, as his surest haven of safety. This woman is
   my foster sister: born and educated in the way of the Lord, I
   cast her off in my hour of sin, and she returns voluntarily to
   me in that of misfortune. The urgency of the case not admitting
   of delay, she sets out alone by my eager request; but I will
   strive to have her dear husband join her shortly. Both young and
   faithful, deserving of the kindness of your Royal Highness, I
   pray you to give them the greatest favors which your royal heart
   is so ready to bestow on all, and especially to those who in the
   service of your kindred and royal family assume a responsibility
   in manifest danger of their own property and lives. I have
   no more to say, except to beg your Highness, for the love of
   Jesus Christ our Saviour, to take under your protection this
   miserable being. God will give you that reward which I cannot.
   Look upon these words, your Majesty, as on the dying ones of
   a relative;--this is my testament;--and with this faith to
   die resigned and contrite, who would else have ended her life
   despairing and blaspheming. When your Highness shall have
   received the news of my death, which I foresee is inevitable, be
   pleased to remember me in your prayers, and aid my soul. I wish
   you in this world all that happiness which your glorious mind
   and magnanimous heart knows so well how to create; and kissing
   your hands I sign myself a most unworthy, but yet affectionate
   child of your Majesty,

   "ISABELLA, DUCHESS OF BRACCIANO."

Cecchino perceived his error before coming to the end of this
epistle, his anger departed, and his heart, having experienced so
many passions, gave way in a burst of tears. He put the letter aside;
he had already thrown his dagger away, and turning with tearful eyes
towards Mary, raised her head, calling her by a thousand endearing
names. But the poor woman gave no sign of life, and in her fall had
struck so heavily that she had bruised the skin behind her ear,
causing it to bleed. It seemed for a moment as if Cecchino was
about to faint: but the thought of providing for his wife's safety
sustained him: he carefully bound up the wound, placed her upon the
bed, and tried to restore her with water, vinegar, burnt feathers,
and all such means; but she did not revive. He then broke forth in
laments; sighed and raised his eyes beseechingly towards heaven.
Desperate at last he lay down by her side, embracing her, and bathing
her with tears, covering her face with kisses, and exclaiming between
his sobs:

"Oh, God, let me die by her side!"

But God intended him no such misfortune, and scarcely had he
proffered these words, before Mary, uttering a deep sigh, opened her
eyes, forgetful of what had occurred. Cecchino knelt before her, not
daring to open his mouth; and Mary, by degrees, began to recollect
past events, sat up, and seeing the letter, guarded so jealously by
her, open, turned towards Cecchino, and, smiling languidly, said:

"Of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Then looking towards the window, and seeing the stars, added:

"Cecchino, we have no time to lose. They will come for us in a few
moments. While I dress the child you must pack your own clothes, and
sew the gold and jewels of the Duchess among them: all the rest is
provided."

Cecchino, having no will of his own, passively obeyed her orders:
so many, so various, and so deep had been the passions he had
experienced in such a short time, that he felt almost annihilated;
but whatever faculty of thinking and wishing still remained to
him, would not have been opposed to the desires of his wife, who,
animated by the spirit of charity, sacrifice, and love, appeared to
him a being more akin to angels than mortals. He loved and worshipped
her as something holy. Of such, and so sudden transitions is the mind
capable in this world! Miserable intellects in the power of passion,
like a fragile skiff agitated by the tempestuous ocean, we weep, we
laugh, and, but this is more important, we pass on to deeds, which as
they take from us the dignity of men, and peace of mind, also render
us in this life deserving of the scorn of men, and in the next of
God's disdain.

Mary was not deceived; for a short time had scarcely elapsed before
two men appeared at the house door, knocking cautiously, and saying
in a low voice to Cecchino, who opened the window, to come down, for
all was ready. Mary went first with the child; Cecchino followed with
a chest containing a few clothes. Taking the first step out of the
door he turned back, sighing:

"I leave you, never to see you again!"

When they had all descended, Mary, wondering not to see Cecchino by
her side, called him, and was about to go back, when he came hastily,
and said in a low tone:

"I remembered my mother's rosary at the head of the bed, and went
back for it. If it had belonged to your mother you would not have
forgotten it."

Mary pressed his hand, for she knew she had no defence, but the
accusation pleased her.

They walked some distance in silence, and found a carriage waiting
for them near the corner of the Giglio, behind St. Lorenzo; they
entered it, and drove towards the gate San Frediano. As they drew
near it, one of the men descended, and calling the gatekeeper,
exchanged a few words with him, whereupon he opened the gate. Then,
turning back, told his companion to descend, adding:

"You can go on now--pleasant journey--God be with you."

Mary had already guessed, and the dawn which began to appear
confirmed her supposition, this man was the Knight Lionardo Salviati;
she, therefore, took courage to call to him, saying:

"Do me the favor of listening one moment, Sir?"

And the Knight stopped to listen.

"Sir Lionardo," she murmured in his ear, "when you see her, assure
her that the child is safe: tell her also my husband is with me, and
she need trouble herself no more about it. Save her, if you can,
for her death without your aid is certain. The property I have left
behind me, please tell your friend Don Silvano to sell, and use it
all in masses for the dead and ... for the dead, according to my
desire."

"It shall be done."

Sir Lionardo then closing the door, ordered the driver to proceed.
Mary, in speaking of the dead, meant Isabella! But there still
remaining to her a very faint ray of hope, she did not wish to
destroy it with this sad commission: but she believed in her heart
that having given it for her beloved dead, she included among them
the soul of poor Isabella.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE CONFESSION.

   Venuta la mattina della Pasqua, la donna si levò in su l'aurora
   et acconciossi, et andossene alla chiesa.--Il marito dall' altra
   parte levatosi se ne andò a quella medesima chiesa, e fuvvi
   prima di lei--e messasi prestamente una delle robe del prete
   con un cappuccio grande a gote, come noi veggiamo che i preti
   portano, avendosel tirato un poco innanzi, si mise a sedere in
   coro.--Ora venendo alla confessione, tra le altre cose che la
   donna gli disse, avendogli prima detto come maritata era, si fu
   che ella era innamorata.... Quando il geloso udi questo, gli
   parve che gli fosse dato di un coltello nel cuore.

    BOCCACCIO. _Giornata_ VII. _Novella_ V.

   When Easter morning came, the woman rose at dawn, dressed
   herself, and went to church.... The husband also arose, went to
   the same church, and reached it before her.... He then put on
   hastily one of the priest's robes with a large hood, such as
   monks generally wear, which he pulled somewhat down over his
   face, and sat in the confessional.... Now when the woman came to
   the confession, among other things she said--that, although she
   was a married woman, yet she was desperately in love.... When
   the jealous husband heard this, he felt as if struck by a dagger
   in the middle of his heart.


Titta finally arrived (since all, living or dead, must come to some
end) at the Duke's palace: he pulled the bell-rope four or five
times, but no one answered. "It is evident," he said to himself,
"that the husband is away, and is not expected home; and if husbands
take a notion to arrive suddenly, they must pay the penalty of their
rudeness: but I, not being a husband, will not wait, but put a remedy
to it at once."

And as well as he could he inserted his arm and part of his shoulder
between the bars of the gate, and with his fingers took the latch and
opened it. This done, he went softly to the porter's room, who, with
elbows stretched upon a table, and head resting on the back of his
hands, slept as soundly as a dormouse. The merry fellow taking the
horn, approached it so near the porter's ear as to cover it entirely,
and gathering all the breath he could in his strong lungs, blew
such a powerful blast as to make the whole palace shake from top to
bottom. I will not describe the tremendous scream the porter uttered,
nor what a leap he gave; these are things that can be better imagined
than described: he was neither alive nor dead; he trembled all over,
and knew not in what world he was. Not a human creature or animal
within the palace, or in the street, could remain quiet in bed, but
ran startled to see what was the matter.

When Titta had collected nearly all the Duke's domestics, he turned
to the major-domo Don Inigo, and said to him:

"I come by the orders of his Excellency the Duke; I have this moment
arrived from Rome, and have a letter which I must immediately consign
into the hands of my Lady the Duchess."

"You cannot present yourself in such a dress to our lady; you must
clothe yourself properly, and then I will announce you."

He then led him to a wardrobe, and dressing him in the Orsini livery,
left him to wait until he could be announced to her Ladyship the
Duchess.

Isabella slept not: sleep for a long time had not shaken its peaceful
wings over those unhappy eyelids; and she would let it pass without
even invoking it, for if painful thoughts oppressed her while awake,
horrible phantoms afflicted her still more while asleep. She had
become now resigned to her imminent destiny, and whatever happened
could not disturb her; she would shut her eyes, and murmur in a low
tone: _In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum._--She heard
the door of her room open, it seemed as if some one had asked her
whether he could come in, and she replied with a motion, without
knowing herself whether it was consent or denial, so she was somewhat
amazed when, reopening her eyes, she saw a man with one knee on the
ground before her presenting a letter upon a crimson velvet cushion.
Educated as she was in the dignified manners of the Court, she took
the letter with a certain princely haughtiness, and read it; then
handing it to the major-domo, said:

"Place it in the archives.--Rise, sir.--Inigo, give this soldier the
usual courier's fee; and double it, for the news which he brings is
very acceptable to me. Don Inigo, in a few days, after so long an
absence, we shall see His Excellency the Duke.--May God keep you in
His holy guard. Good night: go."

And when they had departed, Isabella, without heeding if anyone could
hear her words, rose from the couch on which she was lying, and thus
addressed Lady Lucrezia Frescobaldi, her lady in waiting:

"Lady Lucrezia, we are ready to take our departure, so that it would
seem better for us to be prepared by taking the sacrament."

Lady Lucrezia belonged to that race of pale and delicate creatures,
who are accustomed to accompany the powerful: they come with
fortune, and go with it; not because they are bad or ungrateful,
but because it is as innate in their nature as in the heliotrope to
turn towards the direction of the sun; they pertain to the family of
leaves, that are born in Spring, and fall in Autumn. They possess
no will of their own, incapable of assent or denial; their minds,
like barometers modified by the impression of air, bend according
to the will of their masters. Such people have always been, and are
still, very dangerous, for if the great did not meet with people
ever ready to serve their wills, they would not dare to act as we
see them every day; much the less if they could find souls like that
of the simple Mary, who promise obedience, and give it, but do not
sell their conscience; and when they reach that point in which they
must either displease the worldly master, or the Lord of Heaven, they
trust in Him who decks the lily of the valley, and nourishes even the
slothful: poor and alone, they will start upon the desert of life,
exclaiming like the patriarch, Abraham:--God will provide!

But the great rarely have friends, for if they had, fortune would
have granted them too large a share of blessing. Let them take the
example of that king of Spain, if they desire to be in company with a
friend;--have their portrait painted together with a dog.

Lady Lucrezia, then, with her submissive air, replied:

"Your Highness, do just what your heart dictates."

"Yes, I have decided to confess; but I would like to have some holy
man, who would know how to comfort my weary soul, and give rest to my
mind, continually assailed by doubts; do you know anyone able to do
that?"

"I do not."

"Father Marcello, who is so reputed in the city, might be a good
counsellor."

"Yes, your Highness, I should think he might be."

"However, it would not be proper to send for him, for perhaps he
might not be disposed to come; or coming, it could not be done so
secretly, that idle people would not find it out; and I desire above
all things secresy and discretion."

"You speak wisely, my Lady; for sometimes these fathers have more
pride under that sackcloth of theirs than a Baron under a mantle of
brocade."

"And going myself to church, I might easily be known."

"That is very likely."

"Perhaps ... to-morrow ... no, for it is already too late, and I
could not in so short a time collect myself, and truly examine my
soul...."

"Of course, in such a short time you would not be able to remember
all your sins...."

"What do you know about my sins? And what, and how many they are? Who
told you that it would be difficult for me to remember them?"

Lady Lucrezia, with too great a desire of pleasing her mistress,
according to the usual habit, assented where she ought to have
doubted.

The most wary courtier sometimes falls into this error; but if he
grazes the boundary line, he rarely stumbles so as to break his legs.

Lady Lucrezia might have answered:

"Eh! my Lady! If I covered my face with my hands, know that I
happened to peep through the fingers, and saw more than enough."

But, you may imagine, that even if she had the power to conceive such
thoughts, she would have put them aside, as temptations of the devil!

So she replied as from inspiration:

"For a dignified and pure conscience like yours, so scrupulous of
everything, making a mountain out of a mole-hill.... I can well
understand, that the examination of the conscience must be a very
serious thing.... There are some, to be sure, not so particular....
But for your Ladyship, it must indeed be a serious affair...."

Are the fish-hooks as old as the hills? I believe ever since Adam
fishes have been caught by them. Thus, although flattery is of very
ancient date, and although every man swears that he knows and detests
it, yet by means of flattery, men, and particularly women, were
always, and ever will be caught. Let him who reads be persuaded, that
it is our nature to remember experience and its admonitions, as much
as we remember the swallow that flew through the sky, or the smoke
that escaped from our chimneys ten years ago.

Isabella, although she had any other inclination than smiling in her
thoughts, yet could not help it on hearing herself praised, and God
knows with what justice.

"The day after to-morrow, then, we shall rise early, and covered
with a black mantilla go to the church of Santa Croce, perform our
devotions, and return unobserved home."

"Yes, my Lady, it is a good idea, and a proof of your good judgment."

"Very well; let it be only between you and me, for no living soul
must know it...."

"As for that, your Highness knows my fidelity and secresy...."

"Go to rest then, for it is already late, and to-morrow I may cause
you to be called early."

"May God keep you in His holy guard."

       *       *       *       *       *

Never did pilgrim touch more devoutly the holy shrine of his
pilgrimage, than Titta finally sat down at table. It had been so well
provided with food and drink, that his hunger was soon satisfied; but
as to his thirst it was a different thing; for as flames increase
with the addition of fuel, so his thirst increased by drinking.
However, Titta was no man to allow wine to take away from him the use
of his brains: too large a quantity would have been necessary for
that; he drowned his wits in wine like ducks in a pond, or rather
like skilful swimmers, who, hardly touching the bottom, return
again to float on the surface; and in this half watchfulness of his
thoughts, he showed himself more than ever acute and malignant.
It often happens that the mind, when in the full exercise of its
faculties, has no power to imagine or define an object, which on
the morrow (the senses not yet returned to their usual offices) is
seen wonderfully distinct amidst the light dreams that precede its
awakening, as dawn precedes the day. In the like manner we see men
half drunk, conceive and act better than if they were entirely sober.

The servants, seeing that he might never stop, had gradually
disappeared, and he, remaining alone with Giulia as he desired, thus
soliloquized:

"Oh, Giulia! oh, wine! oh, cards! oh, polar stars of my life: what
would the world become without you? An extinguished lantern; a
candle without a wick, a lamp without oil. If some one should say to
me:--You must choose;--I would reply:--I cannot;--because Giulia is
nothing without wine, and wine is nothing without cards: and they are
like Ser Cecco and the Court of Berni. Ser Cecco cannot live without
the Court, nor can the Court live without Ser Cecco.... They live
necessarily together; they all form a single substance; they exist
united like soul and body. Take away the soul from the body, and you
would see the latter destroyed as Giulia would be destroyed without
wine, and wine without cards.... Oh, Giulia!..."

"I don't understand such nonsense; and who knows to how many women
you have said all this before; for indeed your words seem to me like
old clothes, that through too much use fall to rags...."

"Oh, Giulia! I swear to you as I am a gentleman, _foi de
gentilhomme_, as Francis First of France used to say, that what I
have said to you, I have never said before to anyone...."

"Of course, to _no_ one...."

"Believe me as you believe in bread. I feel like an Etna in love, but
I am firm as the Alps in constancy...."

"You are adding insult to injury in order to flatter a poor woman
like me, who has already, I know not for how many months, wept for
you, and wished for you in vain, wearying out with my prayers and
vows all the saints in heaven...."

"Oh, Giulia!"

"And indeed in all this time there has been no want of flatterers,
who came around me, and promised me great things; but I cared little
for them; though I felt sorry for a poor young man, who tried to make
me love him, and seeing that he could not succeed, drowned himself
in...."

"A butt of wine!..."

"What, would you do me the wrong of not believing me?..."

"But, Giulia, how can I believe such things, when you yourself do
not?--Be not angry, no; come near me: listen, when I embrace you it
seems as if I was embracing the human race.--Be not cross, no, my
girl; listen, let us talk reasonably. I should like to repose after
the storms of life in a port of peace; and you could repose in it
with me, because, Blessed Virgin! where can I find rest without you?
We must never speak of past things: I celebrating a holy marriage
with you, would make of all your past life a great ablution in the
waters of the river Lethe.--Years go by, Giulia, and we must look to
the future...."

"But it seems to me that between my years and yours there must be a
difference of some dozen years."

"Put aside such womanish frivolities, Giulia, and remember that you
women are like flowers; you grow fast, and wither fast, and the best
that remains of you is memory. I asked you to talk seriously. I have
already served the Duke of Bracciano many years: I have received
several wounds for him; once, in the battle of Lepanto, had it not
been for me, a Turk would have cleaved his head like a reed, and yet
I am still a soldier. And would that it had ended here; but I have
always seen carriage horses descend to a draw-cart; and some day or
other we might find ourselves, before starting for the great voyage,
making our last resting-place in the hospital of St. Maria Nuova...."

"But how can we help this? You resemble those rats who wished to hang
a bell around the cat's neck...."

"Woman, listen to me, for it has been proved that we men possess a
much greater understanding than you. It would be necessary, then,
to lay aside a little pile of ducats, and try to get a little shop
whereby to carry on a good remunerative trade. You would attend it,
and I could help you in attending it, and strive to do other business
also."

"Didn't I say right, that you were telling the story of the rats? To
do all these things there is need of money...."

"Certainly, and with your dowry...."

"I have no dowry...."

"No? Oh, Giulia!"

"Oh, Titta!"

"Then the last word has been said between us.--Good-by.... You
towards Jerusalem, I towards Egypt, as Arete said to Argante."

"But what, can't we get married without a dowry?"

"No, we cannot; the dowry, Giulia, is as it were the wedding-dress;
without it matrimony would seem naked, and you can imagine how
unbecoming it would be to perform such a solemn rite ill-dressed. And
if we turn our thoughts to ancient times, we know that the Muses
remained spinsters at home because Apollo could not afford any other
dowry than laurel leaves...."

"But you would not make me believe that you have saved no money; what
have you done with it?"

"All gone in pious works, Giulia, in works of charity; and my friends
owe me a fortune. How can I help it? When I get money I cannot refuse
them, and thus I find myself short oftener than I would wish....
However, they will repay me some time, but for the present we cannot
count upon them...."

"Well, I cannot exactly say that I am penniless; but it is only a
trifle...."

"Every sprig helps to make a bush; with work and good will we can
raise the cupola of the cathedral. Now tell me how much have you
saved? A thous ...?"

"A Hund...."

"Oh, Giulia!"

"About one hundred ducats...."

"Alas! they are not enough!"

Giulia shrugged her shoulders. Titta, after remaining thoughtful a
while, continued:

"But one must never despair of one's country, as Themistocles said:
if you will help me, there is a way to seize fortune by the hair.
Listen attentively, woman.... You must know that the lord, my master,
is a revengeful man...."

"All the worse for him...."

"A strange notion has got into his head: he thinks the discoveries
of Columbus, Americus, Cabot, Pigafetta, and all others, but little
compared to the wonderful one he is about to make. And not only that:
he intends that all the world should know it, and we must help him
in this discovery...."

"Oh, power of wine!"

"Woman, listen. This discovery consists in knowing that his wife is
unfaithful to him. He has already received flying reports of it, but
he wishes to know them certainly, and touch with his own hands, as
the proverb says; then he will intrust this most beautiful affair to
the seven trumpets of fame, and I rather think that he will have it
published by Torrentino in octave rhymes.... Come nearer, for I wish
to speak to you lower.--He, the Duke, has sent me on purpose to see
how things stand, and to report them to him; and if I carry to him
a certain proof of it, he has promised me three hundred ducats of
reward, besides his everlasting protection, and many other favors...."

"Are you in earnest?"

"Tell me who is the Saint in whom you have the most faith; and I will
swear by him. So by your telling me all you know, we shall gain this
money, which together with your three hundred...."

"I said one hundred."

"One hundred then, with these three hundred, will be enough to
accomplish our plan of marriage."

Then the treacherous deceitful woman began to relate all she knew
(and she knew too much) in regard to her mistress, who had always
been kind to her more than to any other servant; and she added many
things of her own to make the matter worse; finally she reported,
that listening, as she was accustomed to, at her mistress's door,
she had learned that on the next day, early in the morning, she
was to go to confess herself to Father Marcello of St. Francesco.
Titta thought now that he knew a great deal more than he needed.
The woman did not stop chattering; like the blind street-musician,
who, as the proverb says:--"For a penny begins, and for two never
ends playing."--Titta thinking that now it was of no use for him to
watch any longer, abandoned himself to the arms of Morpheus, and the
excited woman talked on before noticing that her future husband slept
profoundly.

"Think what it will be after we are married!" she exclaimed; and
spitefully giving him a push on the shoulder, retired to her own room
to sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

The blast which Titta blew from his horn, awakened another person
in the Orsini palace, and this was Troilo. He felt his heart beat
with anguish: he rose from his bed into a sitting posture, and stood
some time irresolute, and listening attentively to see whether he
could guess from the movement of the people what had happened; and as
all returned in a short time to its previous silence, he collected
courage enough to dress, and descend cautiously to the Duchess's
apartment.

"Come in," said Isabella with a firm and secure voice, when she heard
the knock at her door: and Troilo entered. She, neither surprised nor
fearful, turned her eyes upon him, and tranquilly resumed her former
attitude. Troilo was the first to speak:

"Isabella, are you aware that Paolo Giordano is about to return to
Florence?" ...

"I know it."

"How do you know it?"

"By letters which he sent me, and in which he said that he would be
at home in a few days...."

"And did you read nothing else in these letters?"

"Nothing else...."

"Indeed! yet I know that there was written other news, or at least
you should have read it there."

"What?"

"That on the arrival of Paolo Giordano you will die by his hand."

"Let God dispose of me as it pleases Him. Troilo, I am prepared to
die...."

"What do you say? You have an entire world to travel before you: full
of strength, of power, of beauty, how can you consent to leave a
scene where you sustain your part so well! When the fruit is green,
it should not be shaken from the tree of life. And perhaps you never
had a better time than this to enjoy reasonably human gifts, for you
are neither too inexperienced to allow yourself to be carried away
by the illusions of youth, nor too hesitating, on account of the
weakness of declining years. Behold, the season to gather the fruits
of experience is just beginning for you...."

"I am old, very old at heart, and love death more than I ever loved a
living being...."

"But you outrage Divine Providence, and yourself. Don't give way to
such sad dejection; you may repent it, when perhaps too late. Come,
courage; cheer up your spirit, for God's sake!..."

Isabella turned her head, and fixing her eyes for some time on
Troilo, added:

"Thanks! Keep your courage to yourself; I have enough of it. Troilo,
if it was not a firm deliberation of my mind to remain here, do you
think that I could not devise some means to go away? No; escaping, I
would show to the world my shame; I would make manifest that which
is uncertain, or what very few people know; fear would say more than
guilt, and would increase the necessity of revenge. And besides, in
what place can I hide myself where the poniard, the snare, or the
poison of the assassin could not reach me? And when even I could
find a place capable of protecting me, who could protect me against
the disdainful manner with which men give help, like crusts of bread
thrown to a beggar? Who could protect me against the bitter and
incessant reproaches which would be hurled against me, not because
guilty, but because I made public this guilt? Who could protect me
against that pity which gnaws one's bones, and that compassion which
poisons the blood? Who could protect me against the proud contempt,
the bitter smiles, the respectful sneers? Oh, the thought alone
chills my very soul! No, it is better to die with one blow than
be thus cruelly murdered under this martyrdom renewed from day to
day, or rather from hour to hour, from minute to minute. Prometheus
certainly did not choose life on condition that his bowels should be
devoured by the insatiable vulture."

"Your despair, Isabella, comes from not having been able to imagine
any other remedy but flight: there are other means of escape...."

"I see none...."

"And surer ones...."

"If such ones that could surely save my honour!..."

"Be assured that there can be none more safe.... Paolo Giordano
desires our death; this is most certain. Now, as we cannot remain in
this world together--since one of us must choose a different abode,
let _him_ go who wishes to expel us; not ourselves, who would have
willingly tolerated him in this world...."

"And thus you would add homicide to shame. And to amend one crime
commit another, which is more offensive to men and God?"

"The one is the offspring of the other; and necessity excuses us; for
what precept or what law imposes on us the duty of respecting a life
which has changed into a poniard to take our own? Let us heed the
dictates of nature, a most merciful mother, who never fails; and she
will say to you that between killing and being killed, it is best to
kill...."

"You strike me with horror."

"And why?"

"Because, if I question my heart, a voice cries to me:--What precept
or what law ever allows us to punish him who did not commit the
crime? What justice ever taught us to make a victim, because we
committed a crime? No, laws are never perverted thus, neither in this
world nor the next...."

"Of the next world we will think by-and-by; for the present let us
think of this. Isabella, you must have learned from your father the
secret of concocting some beverage sweet to the taste, which puts one
quietly asleep ... never to wake again...."

"Ah, wretched man! Would you renew the horrors of the family of
Atreus?..."

"No, I do not intend to begin anything new, I only wish you to
continue in the practice of domestic examples...."

Isabella bent her head; then raising and tossing it with a scornful
look, replied resolutely:

"No, this crime shall not contaminate the pages of history; our
family shall not have its Clytemnestra, and if you design such a
wretched attempt against the life of your cousin, beware! I will
defend him with all my powers, even with my own life...."

"Isabella, you cannot separate your fate from mine: love bound us
willingly together for a short time; crime binds us unwillingly with
an indissoluble tie...."

"These are the ties of cowards; I am not afraid, and I break them...."

"I know well enough that you are not afraid, but I know too well also
in what you trust.... You have hopes in pardon; you put faith in your
cunning words, in your art of dissimulating, in the pleasures of your
caresses.... Yes, wretched woman, you trust to your arts, and if, in
order to secure your peace and safety, a sacrifice and a victim is
wanted, behold, my head is destined for the expiation of all...."

"Then fly, save yourself elsewhere. Have you need of means? I
can give you all you desire--take all which I have in money and
jewels--for the journey which I am about to take, money is of no use."

"If you fear assassins, you, a cousin of Catherine of France, how
can I save myself from them--I, without any protection? If you are
saddened by the thought of receiving insufficient, feeble, and even
bitter help, how can I hope to have it abundant, efficacious, or
agreeable? It is in vain for you to pretend generosity when it is
of no avail, and advise plans which are not safe. I see no other way
here but poison...."

"And I swear to you, upon my word, that Giordano shall live...."

"No, you must poison him...."

"If you did not excite my compassion, you would certainly excite my
scorn...."

"Indeed? Then listen. We have a son. I already foresaw your
treacherous obstinacy. You had better remove this shadow of
repentance, shameless woman! and know that you will not wash out your
stains with my blood!--We have a child: I have already sent for him,
and if you do not consent to save me--and save yourself also, I will
throw it murdered into your arms before morning.--When Giordano is
dead we can marry, not because we can ever love each other; for, if
you hate me, it is well that you should know also that I hate you no
less; but to appease the impudent pride of your haughty brothers, who
dare to think there is no nobility in the world equal to their own,
who were merchants yesterday, and now threaten our lives.... You may
willingly reside far from me, as I, with all my heart, swear that I
will go thousands of miles from you...."

While Troilo with fierce passion was proffering these words, Isabella
showed from time to time signs of impatience, rage, and intense
desire to retort against the villanous knight; but with great effort
she repressed her words, and when he finished, feigning in her aspect
and voice a calmness which she was certainly far from feeling,
replied:

"You are an excellent and affectionate father indeed, who calls to
mind his children only to murder them! Troilo, the heart of a woman
may err, and be deceived when she is in love, but it is not deceived,
nor does it err when she becomes a mother. You rely in vain on
your cruel designs: your child is now where he has no fear of your
paternal caresses...."

"Even my child you have taken from me?"

"And dare you to complain that I have saved him from your parricidal
hands?"

"Restore me my child!--Restore me my child! Or I will tear your heart
out...."

"Strike!..." And Isabella, pale as death, but yet calm, opened her
arms, and offered her breast to him. Troilo stood thoughtful awhile,
and then murmured:

"What is her death to me? I wish to live...."

And he replaced his dagger. Then suddenly, as a sail blown by a
strong wind falls at its cessation flapping against the mast, so
his coward heart, entirely deprived of constancy, was cowed down; a
sudden and great change worked within him, and from bold he became
humble. Then with downcast eyes and low voice, turning to Isabella a
face which he endeavored to render suppliant, but was abject, resumed:

"Ah! Isabella; forget, I beg you, all that passion poured from my
lips: when the blood rises to the head, man knows not what he says
or does; if you only will it so (the heaven having granted you such
great gifts of persuasion, beauty, and grace) Paolo Giordano will
not imbrue his hands in your blood. Ah! in obtaining your pardon,
obtain mine also; or if, wary as you are, you see that it would be of
use to deny, deny; do not doubt of my discretion, for it is a great
stake; at a suitable time, with your help, I will take leave of this
fatal house, and return to the army, where by this time I might have
acquired a distinguished name and rank. Promise me, Isabella. Can I
rely on you? Speak, oh, speak! Do not leave me thus upon thorns: my
soul is overcome with inexpressible grief; remember that I am the
father of your child...."

"It would have been better not to remind me of it, Orsini; indeed it
would have been better. Nevertheless, in the same manner in which I
would have defended Paolo Giordano, I shall defend you. Certainly I
will not tell falsehoods, but if the guilt can be excused, I will
certainly do it for all our sakes; and if God gives me life, I
will endeavor to obtain, if not pardon, mercy. There can never be
happiness for me again in this world; yet I shall deem myself less
unhappy, knowing you prosperous. Now go, Troilo; I have need of
peace...."

And Troilo, bowing his head, with his arms folded upon his breast,
departed.

Isabella followed him with her eyes, and held them fixed a long time
at the door from whence he had gone out: suddenly, striking the palm
of her hand upon her forehead, she exclaimed:

"Alas! alas! for what a man have I lost the honor of a woman, the
dignity of a princess, and my own salvation!..."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a clear and serene night in July; the stars revolved in their
celestial spheres, pouring a dew of light upon this earth, which
does not deserve such smiles of love. The times, places, things,
and men, which you saw then, ye pure rays of light, have returned
dying from whence they had sprung before their birth: many and many
more men and centuries shall you see; but will that light which
emanated from you last for ever, or, like all other fires, will it
be extinguished? It is written, that one day God will shatter into
atoms, never again to meet, this mass of bloody clay which we call
earth; and it will be well, for we almost wish that it had already
happened: but it is also written, that your loving eyes shall be
extinguished, and God will close your eyelids like maidens dead in
the midst of the joys of life. The voice of the Eternal, like unto
the roaring of a thousand oceans in the storm, will return to peal
throughout the endless solitude of darkness and abyss. Of so immense
a variety of created things there will not remain an echo, nor a
memory, nor even a shadow;--as the eye seeks, and finds not the drop
fallen into the sea; as the eye seeks, and finds not the star which
falls from the firmament in summer nights; so time will be hurled
into the depth of eternity;--this terrible mother will smother her
child pressed in her arms, and will bury him in her bosom. Oh, Lord!
How can man, thinking on the death of the stars, foster evil designs
in his heart? Thousands of ages will pass away before the stars will
cease to proclaim in the heavens the glories of God;--and thousands
of ages before this shall happen, this body of mine, separated into
innumerable particles, will be laid waste through the kingdoms of
nature. Nevertheless, thinking that one day you must perish also,
beautiful lights of love, my spirit is disheartened, and it seems an
almost impossible thing to conceive, how men, creatures of a moment,
meeting upon this earth which passes away with them, instead of
raising their hands in enmity against each other, should not exchange
friendly greetings, and disappear into eternity;--a light shadow
fleeting away, but at least a happy one.

On such a night, a man creeping like a snake, his body shrinking,
grazing the walls, hiding himself in the thickest darkness, and
raising his head sometimes to imprecate the distant ray with which
the stars smiled upon this miserable earth, hastened towards a
certain place. This place was the convent of Santa Croce. Arriving at
the gate of the cloister, he pulled the bell-rope softly, restraining
the ardent desire he felt to give it so strong a pull as to awaken
the whole convent: he stood listening through the cracks of the
door, and as he heard no one moving, he rang again: and he repeated
it thus four or six times, and was beginning to lose all patience,
when he thought he heard footsteps approaching; he then, assuming a
devotional attitude, stood waiting composedly. A bold hand opened the
door deliberately: and, considering the times, it was not a little
boldness, for they lived in such suspicion then, that to open at
such a late hour would have required many signs and explanations, as
is the custom in a besieged fortress; at the same time a bold yet
pleasing voice said:

"_Deo gratias_: what do you desire in the holy name of God...."

"Reverend Father," replied the unknown, "God at this moment is
calling to Himself a great sinner. As all knots come to the comb,
thus in this hour return to his mind all his crimes committed, and he
despairs of the Divine mercy, curses the day and hour in which he
was born, and is running the imminent danger of dying unrepentant...."

"Unhappy he, because he has sinned; more unhappy still, because he
despairs of the Lord's mercy!..."

"Indeed I tried to persuade him that it was so; but as I am ignorant
of divinity, I saw that my words had but little effect: nevertheless,
I did not cease praying with him, and strove to console him by
saying--that at last all would be settled rightly, and that God, who
is old, has seen so many and many crimes, that now He cannot be so
very particular about them, and that a good repentance, but of the
real kind, would wash out more sins than perhaps his own...."

"Certainly, the power of repentance is very great, and God as a good
shepherd labors principally after the lost sheep."

"But the dying man said:--Who would dare to present my soul to God,
without fearing that He would cover His eyes with His hands? Who will
utter for me one prayer, without fearing the gates of heaven will
be closed in his face? Only one ... only one just man I know in the
world, who could inspire me with a hope of faith ... but it is too
late ... he would not come ... at this hour he is refreshing with
a short rest his limbs worn out in the service of God.... Alas, it
is too late!--And uttering piteous cries, he tossed raving upon the
bed. Finally, I succeeded with pain to extract from his mouth the
name of this venerable man, who it cannot be denied is a most holy
and learned one, for he is the Reverend Father Marcello, whom may
God always keep prosperous and happy.--And although it was a late
hour, yet I thought best for me to come for him, hoping the grace
may be granted me of contributing towards the salvation of a sinful
Christian...."

As the monk stood thoughtful, and did not reply, the man continued,
making studied pauses between one word and another:

"Besides, as the dying man is immensely rich, and a great merchant,
nor having, that I know, any children, or relatives, except very
distant ones, I thought he might leave large sums of money to be
expended in pious works, alms, funerals, and so forth...."

The friar, however, had not paid any attention to the final argument
of this man: but suddenly, as if recollecting himself, said:

"We can die but once after all; and the best death is certainly that
which we meet in the service of God. This life of suspicion seems a
continual death. Good man, you in the simplicity of your heart gave
advice like the most learned of the Fathers of the Church. God gave
equal remuneration to the workmen who came early, as to the others
who came towards evening to his vineyard. Charity does not look at
the watch; and the brightest hour for her is that in which she is
able to bring more aid to the poor afflicted people. Charity done in
the dark of night is that which is more clear to the eye of God. The
house of the Lord is never empty: knock, and it shall be opened to
you: the fountain of heavenly mercy never fails: ask, and it shall be
given you to drink;--the blood of our Redeemer pours an everlasting
ablution for repentant and humble souls.--Indeed, the times are full
of danger, and invisible hands strike at the ministers of the gospel.
Religion is now groaning over the blood of the martyrs, which is
drenching the earth without bearing fruits. And there are those who
wish Religion as a servant, or rather accomplice, and presume to put
on her their livery; to substitute on the stole their coat-of-arms
instead of the Cross, and enrol her as a man-at-arms. May God avert
such infamy! Religion has the mission of interposing between the
oppressed and the oppressor, to save the former beneath the folds of
her sacred mantle, to look on the face of the latter, to hurl the
anathema against him, and drag him by the hair before a tribunal
where he is but dust.... But this city has stoned its prophets;--the
angels wept when they saw Friar Girolamo Savonarola burned by the
people, and a lamentation was heard through the heaven, saying: Oh,
Lord, oh, Lord! Has the end of the world come?--Like the services
of the Holy Week at the end of each psalm they extinguish a light;
and when they are all out, there is darkness, and how horrible!--You
might deceive me: Judas betrayed Christ, kissing him; but I had
rather be betrayed once, than suspect all my life.... Go on, good
man; I will follow you...."

"What, is it you?..."

"I am Father Marcello. The others sleep, but to me the Lord
said:--Watch, for your life will be short, and you will soon sleep
your last sleep in the grave. Prayer is my bride, preaching my
sister, tears my pleasure...."

And shutting the door behind him, he followed the steps of the
unknown man.

The unknown, who (since I do not wish to keep my readers in suspense)
was Titta, walked with his eyes on the ground, and took tottering
steps like one strongly excited by some passion; and it was so.
He, who had spent so many years of his life in doing evil, now,
in a short space of a few hours, saw fortune place before him two
generous souls, that of Cecchino, and Father Marcello's; so that when
he least expected it, a doubt arose in his mind, which perhaps had
continually escaped him all his lifetime: and without understanding
it, their dignity seemed to him a wonderful fact. Besides, that
ready and spontaneous trusting in him, so little worthy of trust;
the honest boldness which springs from feeling ourselves innocent;
the forgetfulness or contempt of any danger when there was a case
of doing a work of charity, agitated him with such new and deep
sentiments, that he could not account for them. What, without
seeming at all impossible, will appear wonderful to the subtle
scrutinizers of human nature, was, that while he proceeded with the
full deliberation of accomplishing his planned snare against the poor
friar, he begged his guardian angel that he might prevent him, and
sought in the bottom of his heart the trace of some virtue, which
would serve him as an anchor, in which he might trust in order to
save himself from shipwreck.

Father Marcello, although ignorant of the streets of Florence, yet
perceived that he had made him cross the same street twice; he
therefore touched his conductor lightly upon the shoulders, saying:

"Brother, mind the road."

"Ah! You are right; I had got so absorbed in my own thoughts, that
if you had not roused me, I know not when I should have come to my
senses again; and in order that it may not happen again, be kind
enough to reply to some doubts which I have in my mind. Now, Father,
tell me, where do you think we shall be carried with all these
contentions about Religion?"

"It would be too long a subject to discuss; but I have faith that
it will lead to good. For my part I believe Luther is a Cerberus,
who barks because they do not throw him the bone: but he bit the
leaves, not the root; he tore the fringe, but not the cloth. He is
as tiresome as a criticism, and lasts only because the fault lasts:
if the Church only purify herself in the mystic waters, Luther and
all the renovators would at once fail. Already they do not agree
among themselves in building the new Babel; the ancient miracle of
the confusion of tongues is again commencing, they all run through
paths where there is no exit. These troubles will pass, but before
they pass, I fear a great many other new ones will be added: when the
human intellect has rebelled against authority, it must wear itself
out in the path of proud reasonings. Imagining that superstitions
and errors are the necessary evils of religion, they will all join
together to destroy them; and I foresee these to be days full of
sorrow: I foresee again renewed the vinegar and gall, the thorns, the
blows, the nails, and the spear-wound of Christ; I see doubt as a
wind coming from the desert withering the harvest of Faith, Charity,
and Hope. But since man cannot reach the celestial seats with the
simple light of reason, he will stand appalled in contemplating in
the heaven an abyss like hell, and shall feel again the need of a
God, who may have had grief, love, and feelings of humanity, and
will seek Christ again, who, as it is said He did with St. Francis,
will unloose his arms from the cross to embrace him. Thus, religion
becoming again the bridesmaid of human souls, after having espoused
them in this world with the ties of love, will direct them towards
the eternal home to which we all aspire, which is in heaven."

"These seem to me things that may happen some time or other at the
last judgment. Let us leave heaven, for, as you say, it would be a
long discourse; but of this earth, of this which we call our country,
this Florence, this Italy, what do you think?"

"My son, she is dead; no, not dead ... the sleep which oppresses
her has the appearance of death ... but this sleep is so heavy that
it seems to me that without a miracle of God she can never awake
again. Know, know, my son, that oppressors cannot tyrannize, if
the oppressed do not consent to be tyrannized over; nor does the
difficulty consist in taking away the tyrant, but in the virtue
of the citizens in maintaining themselves in freedom and honest
fellowship. This city, at the time of the death of Alexander, showed
how a people can remain slaves, although the tyrant be dead; and this
is what regards national independence: as to foreign independence,
God is strong, and takes part with the strong. These foolish people
think to get rid of Spain by means of France, of France by means of
Spain, and they stretch their hands humbly now to the latter, now
to the former, those hands which should have been armed to threaten
and to strike both of them.--_Out with the barbarians!_ cried the
glorious Pontiff Julius II.; and the barbarians were all those
who were not born in Italy. Oh, foolish people! who believe that
the chivalry of Spain or France are going to leave their splendid
castles, their wives and children, encounter the perils of the sea,
climb over the precipitous summits of the mountains, and come in
your country merely to fight a tournament, and give the reward of
it to you lazy men, who stand looking on. Oh, fools! the people who
know not how to defend the home which nature has given them, are not
worthy of possessing it: the world belongs to those who take it; thus
has the law of destiny decreed. Louis XI. made France a united and
strong kingdom; Charles V. had the same idea with regard to Germany
and Spain. The over-rated Lorenzo dei Medici, what did he accomplish?
With jugglers' tricks he kept in discordant equilibrium the remnant
of a people. It was not a monument, but a pasteboard statue; and the
first wind that blew from the Alps overturned it: Charles VIII. rode
over Italy with wooden spurs. Now we are broken into fragments. The
Italian people stood watching the death of the Florentine Republic
like a fighting gladiator: at her glorious death all applauded, no
one helped her; and falling, the Republic wrote with its blood upon
the arena a cruel sentence, and which shall come to pass: You also
will fall, but infamously. Venice believes herself seated upon a
throne, but she is sitting instead upon the grave which shall cover
her. Genoa, like the swallow having made its nest in a lofty place,
imagines itself secure, and does not think of the hunter's arrow,
that reaches even to the clouds ... I breathe an air of tombs, I
trample an earth of churchyard...."

"Then, Father, if it is so, allow me to quote a passage, written
some hundred and more years ago by a worthy priest and canon of the
Church, who had more brains than a thousand such as I, which said:

    O fools and blind, to labor night and day,
    In fruitless toil, when soon around our clay
    Our mother's cold embraces shall be thrown,
    Our deeds forgotten, and our names unknown![47]

"Mark, however: first, heaven has not granted me the gift of
prophecy, and as I may perchance be mistaken, thus it behooves
us to do what is right without giving ourselves the thought of
what may happen; secondly, that I once heard from my teacher,
that a God and a people, although dead, cannot long remain
within the sepulchre; and in truth, our Saviour only remained
in it three days. The days of the people are indeed centuries;
but men pass away like shadows, humanity remains. Every good
seed brings forth good fruit before God, and at its proper time
will sprout to enliven the earth; if we shall not eat of it, let
us save it, for our children shall. Thirdly, I told you that I
deemed her not dead, but oppressed by mortal lethargy. It would
avail me nothing, and in truth I hate to spend the life which
God has granted me in sculpturing a splendid marble tomb, to
place within it the corpse of Italy, and then deck myself in
majestic funeral clothes, light candles upon golden candlesticks,
fill the censers with perfumes, and chant with divine notes the
prayers for the dead. This I hate, although I see it done, with
infinite bitterness to my soul, by men of noble talents but
feeble hearts.... Have you ever heard about Queen Joanna, the
mother of Charles V.? When her husband Philip, whom she loved
so much, died, she would not allow him to be buried, but had him
embalmed, and placed him upon a rich bed of black velvet, and as
long as she lived she sat at his side, watching from time to time
if he would not awake: this was charity and insanity. I imitate
this charitable example wisely, since I do not consider our
country dead, but as if asleep by enchantment; and I watch her
day and night, uttering over her the words of love, but oftener
still of grief and anger; at times with reviving salts, or other
stimulants, I endeavor to recall her to life; at other times I
thrust my hands in her hair, or put to her lips a living coal as
God gave to Isaiah, or I pierce her flesh near the heart to see
if from thence gushes out living blood. Indeed ... indeed, so far
my words have been in vain, and entire locks of her hair have
remained in my hands.... But if when about to awaken, these words
of anger, grief, and love, these deeds of charity or disdain
should be able to break this lethargy from her head for one
moment, or even a second before the time fixed by fate, would not
my life, the lives of a hundred citizens be well spent?"

  [47]

    O ciechi: il tanto affaticar che giova?
    Tutti torniamo alla gran madre antica,
    E il nome vostro appena si ritrova.--PETRARCA.

"This friar's brains," thought Titta to himself, "seem to me like
a windmill; but even such mills, when the weather is propitious,
grind grain, and well too. To get rid of all this talk, there is
no other way but to pull the hood over his mouth;--and yet he
seems to me a great and noble soul; Aretino was not worthy of
tying his shoes. However, there is no longer time to change my
mind, and I must leave the moth-eaten beam for fear the house
should fall.... Here we are at the place!... Truly, I commit a
great treachery; but thrown upon the heap of my other bad deeds,
it will not increase the pile much. And besides, woe to him who
shall dare to harm a hair of his head.... After all, it is no
great thing; a few hours of seclusion, with the best comforts
which one can desire.... And then I will ask his pardon, ... and
he, as he is so very kind, no doubt will grant it to me."

Thus ruminating within himself, Titta perceived that they had
reached the appointed place, which was the corner of the street
Mandorlo; then, putting two fingers into his mouth, he gave a
sharp whistle, and suddenly, without knowing whence they came,
as if detaching themselves from the walls of the houses, four
men appeared, who surrounded the friar. Father Marcello started,
overcome by surprise, stretched his hand, and grasped strongly
the arm of Titta, saying with an excited voice:

"You betray me!" But checking himself, he added in a milder tone:
"May God forgive you.--_Domine, in manus tuas commendo spiritum
meum._"

"No, my good Father, do not doubt me; I do not wish to do you any
harm. I swear it to you by the holy Madonna Nunziata, who being
so near, as you may see, I might almost say, she hears me. We
have no need of your life, but only of your gown. We only wish
to become yourself for a little while, without your ceasing to
be what you are. You shall be carried back in due time to the
convent, without any harm being done you. Meanwhile, you cannot
proceed without you allow us to bandage your eyes."

"Do as you will.... Many more insults did my Divine Master suffer
for our sake. I grieve not for myself, but for the poor souls
of those for whose ruin I see you are plotting some work of
darkness."

And he offered his head to be bandaged, desirous of avoiding as
much as possible the contact of those vile men. This done, and
after they had assured themselves that he could not see, they
conducted him to the square of the Nunziata, where they made him
turn round many times in order that he might not recognise the
way that they intended to take him; then they went along the via
Studio, and the square of St. Marco, and entered into the Casino.

Having conducted him into a room prepared for the occasion, which
looked upon the gardens where the windows had been strongly
barred and nailed on the outside, Titta hesitating, his heart
almost failing him for the shameless deed, said in a low voice:

"Father, you must allow me to remove your gown."

"Beware, you would commit a sacrilege, and if God should strike
you now with sudden death, your soul would be irreparably lost."

"Father, _in primis_, I protest that I am not doing this for your
injury; besides, I solemnly promise to restore it to you within a
few hours; and finally, as the weather is so very warm, I cannot
understand how a man can commit such a heavy sin in freeing you
for a little while of such heavy hair-cloth."

"When I put this garment on, I swore that I would never lay it
aside during my lifetime."

"And you do not break your oath, because you suffer violence, and
your will does not consent to it."

"But why do you use violence against me? In what have I offended
you? I never saw you before."

"Oh, Father, you ought to perceive that I am forced by others to
do you violence."

"If you know evil, why do you not abstain from it?"

"It would have been difficult before now: but now impossible."

"Miserable man! I pity you. When you shall have brought me back
this garment, it will be stained with blood: perhaps it will not
be seen in the eyes of men, but God will see it: a Christian soul
shall then stand before His throne, asking for vengeance, ... and
he will have it."

"And would that it were the only one!" muttered Titta. "Father,
it is getting late; give me your gown."

"No, rather take my life."

"I told you that we needed your garment, and not your life: I beg
you with all my strength, and humbly beseech you not to force us
to put our hands upon you. Take away the necessity of resorting
to this extreme; we also are obeying those who are more powerful
than we. And if we did not obey, we should all be killed."

"Well, tear it from my back, then;--and may God reward him who is
the cause of it, according to his deserts."

Titta and the others closed around the friar, who resisted; but
he was soon overcome, being but weak, and his adversaries too
numerous. Having taken his gown, they went off hastily, like
wolves having stolen the prey, to hide themselves in their cave;
and Father Marcello, noticing from the silence that he was alone,
took off his bandage.

Turning his eyes around, he saw a room adorned with splendid
pictures, and fine works of sculpture both in marble and in
bronze; he saw also a magnificent bed, a table loaded with
various kinds of food and wines, and chandeliers which shed a
brilliant light: but he turned his saddened eyes from all these
things, and rested them upon a _prie-Dieu_, where was a crucifix
and book, which from the size he soon recognised as a missal.
With his heart full he threw himself at the feet of the crucifix,
and burst into bitter tears.

He wept, for although he was a pious man, yet he was flesh and
blood like all Adam's children; he wept for the atrocious injury
which he had suffered, and the sacrilegious attempt; he wept for
the offence done to God; he wept for the soul or souls of those
against whom he plainly saw some treacherous deed was about to
be committed; and he fervently prayed that the Lord might arise,
and show his power to the wicked. Certainly never was a miracle
begged with more ardent vows, nor expected with greater faith,
nor more needed: but He, who might have worked it, decreed
otherwise.

     *       *       *       *       *

The stars began to disappear in the heavens, when from the
interior of the church of Santa Croce, near the greater door
in front, was heard a jingling of keys, and the tramp of heavy
steps. Immediately after, the bolts were suddenly withdrawn. A
lay-brother put out his head looking right and left, raising
it as if snuffing the pure morning air, and rubbing his hands
together, exclaimed:--"A beautiful morning!"--Then saluting again
the sky with a look, he re-entered the church to see if the lamps
were still burning; and as they shed only a feeble light, as if
ready to go out, he hastened towards the vestry to refill them.

At this moment, a monk, groping along the walls, introduced
himself suspiciously and stealthily into the church through the
greater gate, and with hasty steps approached a confessional
under the organ, opened it, and shut himself within it. Indeed
this apparition might have frightened the boldest man, for in
passing behind the columns of the navade it entirely disappeared,
and suddenly crossing the rays of lamps hanging from the arches,
might have been seen a dark and tall figure, like a phantom,
moving swiftly over the pavement, and across the walls.

Not long after penitents began to arrive from different parts,
some carrying in their hands lanterns, some lighted candles,
whose flames the calm air hardly moved, and all gathered round
the confessional beneath the organ, like doves around their
grain. The confessions began: but on that day, with no little
astonishment to the devotees, it seemed as if Father Marcello had
put aside his accustomed mildness. He would listen inattentively,
answer but little, and both in his words and manners appeared
very different from his usual custom.

To a certain mother, who accused herself of having cursed her
son, because he had threatened to strike her, he said:--"He was
right, for he now punishes you for not having punished him enough
at the proper time."

To a man, who having received a sum of money in trust from a
friend, had invested it for his own use, and now asked for pardon
and advice, he replied shortly and bitterly:--"Drown yourself in
the Arno."

A woman came, who confessed that she was too prone to anger and
bad language, and then quarrels arose between herself and her
husband, and caused a scandal and trouble in the house: and she
begged him some good counsels to reform this bad temper: and the
monk, as if impatient, replied: "Ask your mother-in-law!"

Another woman, who after having enumerated a great number of
sins, kept on so long that it would seem she never would end,
he stopped short by asking:--"How old are you?"--"Sixty-five,
Father, next August." "So much the better for you; for, since you
are not able to leave sin, sin will soon leave you."

To a man, who with tears in his eyes confessed to having
betrayed a relative by accusing him to the justice as a rebel
and conspirator against the state, he shut the gate in his face,
saying:--"Hell is wide enough!"

And lastly we will add what he said to a lawyer:--"Father,"--said
the lawyer,--"in a certain lawsuit in which I knew that I was
wrong, I deceived my adversary, and succeeded in getting a
sentence in my favor." "My son; forensic defence seems to me
sometimes like a game at cards played by two shrewd old gamblers.
It is of no use! A sin more, or a sin less, more pulleys would be
needed to hoist up a soul like yours into heaven, than to pull up
the bells to the top of the belfry: you may go, it is all lost
time."

It is not to be said how astonished the penitents went off. Is
this,--thought they,--the holy man? This the great theologian
and learned divine? Is he the man able to know our moral
infirmities, pitiful in hearing them, benign in treating them? He
appears more like a man-at-arms than anything else; and he would
look better with a helmet and sword than the cowl upon his head,
and the breviary in his hand.

Suddenly, two women wrapped in ample mantillas of black silk,
little heeding the crowd that stood kneeling and crowded
around the confessional, passed by; and whilst one entered the
confessional, the other knelt on one side in the attitude of
prayer. The crowd, knocked on each side, did not dare to murmur,
but gave way respectfully, saying to themselves:--"These must be
two great ladies; they pass and trample on us!"

"Father!" began the one who went to the confessional. The
confessor started visibly; he carried the hem of his garment to
his mouth, took it between his teeth, and thus repressing his
emotion replied:

"Say on!"

"Father!..." And her words failed again. The confessor, no longer
impatient, after a suitable space of time, repeated in a low tone:

"Say on!"

"Father, is it really true that God forgives every great sin?"

"This is the greatest sin of which you might perchance accuse
yourself. Have you truly examined your own conscience? Are
you disposed not to hide any of your acts, words, deeds,
omissions, thoughts, in short everything? Remember that St.
Augustine teaches, that confession is the open demonstration
of our internal infirmity with the hope of obtaining a cure;
and although this is a great deal, yet it is not enough, and a
contrite and repentant heart is also required: have you brought
with you this repentant heart? If so, as I hope, speak; man may
first be weary with sinning, before Divine mercy with forgiving."

"_Amen_, Father, _amen_! I will speak confiding in pardon, not
because I deserve it, but because, as you say, Divine mercy is
great. I have been a sinful daughter, mother, wife, citizen, all
in short...."

"Well!"

"As a citizen, I have done no good: many I have injured, and
if even I did good to any one, I feel that I was moved less by
charity than by a vain pomp of appearing generous. I hid not from
my left hand the alms done by my right; I was pleased that the
world should know it, and people should talk of it."

"This is not a merit, but not a sin. You have bought worldly
fame: these alms you will not find registered in the books of
heaven. _Recipisti mercedem tuam_, you have received your reward.
It is the charity of the Pharisee; and it is generally what
the present world give. Men now give a penny with a sound of
trumpets, they notify it with ringing of bells, and large printed
notices on all the corners of the street ... _Vanitas vanitatum_
... it is all a vanity! Hence you may consider that you have
already received your reward for the charities done."

"As a daughter I paid but little attention to the advices and
admonitions of my father.--I cannot live for ever!--he would
often say to me: but happy he, and myself also, if he had given
me less advice, and, may God have mercy on his soul, a better
example!"

"And as a wife?"

"Wife!--Nature gave me a fatal gift: a most ardent imagination,
restless desires, a wonderful disposition to learn, and a
retentive memory. I learned, and exercised with passion all that
which is capable of exalting the mind and ennobling the heart.
Educated among luxuries, fêted, and constantly flattered with
sweet words; surrounded by pleasures, and manners loosened to
all sorts of dissipations; given as wife to a man whom I did not
know, nor who knew me; we fancied each other but little, and
loved less; he a soldier, I a worshipper of the muses. One day,
oppressed by insupportable _ennui_, my husband went off; he was
to remain away three months, and he stayed three years. I dared
to presume too much to myself, and pride overcame me. Then I
fancied a destiny, which only my mind conceived, an invincible
passion nourished only by my own fancy, and creating, and I may
almost say lending to a man worthless in himself, the qualities
of perfection, which I dreamed in the ideals of my poetry ...
I dug with my own hands the abyss wherein I fell ... and I was
lost. When I awoke from that dream, I saw my house full of shame,
and before me a most degraded man, and myself more degraded than
he. The harvest of guilt was fully reaped by me;--bitter tears,
ineffable grief, contempt for myself, repentance, late indeed,
but great, deep, and such a one that God may have seen equalled,
but never greater."

"And was the time long that you lived in sin?" inquired the
confessor, with a harsh, slow voice.

"Oh, Father, enough ... seek no more, if you do not wish to see
me die of shame at your feet."

"Well! But was your lover a relative of yours? What is his name?"

If Isabella had been less moved at that moment, the name of
Troilo would have certainly escaped from her mouth: but unable
to speak, being forced to catch her breath, she remembered she
was not obliged to reveal the name of the accomplice, but rather
charity imposed upon her to keep it religiously secret; hence
when the confessor insisted:

"Was your lover a relative of yours? What is his name?"

She resolutely replied:

"I accuse myself, not others. I cannot tell you more, nor ought
you to ask, nor I to tell."

"What! This is important! For the sin varies and increases
according to the degree of the relationship. And it behooves me
to explain to you, that two are the forms of relationship, the
first natural, the second religious; that is, for example, to
hold a child for baptism, confirmation, and so forth.... Hence
by the canonical laws, the cousin of your husband, for example,
would be a relative of the second degree, and then the adultery
would become incest, a sin which offends God more, and disturbs a
great deal more the laws of civil life."

"Alas! you make me shudder with horror!"

"Now then, speak: is the man a relative of yours?"

"Yes, a cousin of my husband."

"Cousin!"

"Nor is that all."

"No?"

"I am an unhappy mother ... a son."

"A son? What is his name? How old is he?"

"Only a few months old."

"Not years, eh ... not years?"

"No, months; but what matters this?"

"It matters a great deal."

"And as he is not a brother to his brother, I banished him from
my house, not however from my heart."

"And where did you send him? Where is he now?"

"There is no need of my saying this, Father. I have done like
the eagle; I have made a nest for him where human malice cannot
reach him. As regards property, my legitimate son will not be a
sufferer, for I have left him all the property my father left me."

Here she remained a moment in silence: then remembering the time
was fast passing, she added:

"And now, Father, keep your promise. I have revealed everything
to you; opened my whole heart: now you must console me with hope;
proffer the great word, which will restore me my lost innocence,
and make me worthy of hoping for pardon;--open to me the gates of
heaven; give me, you who have the power, absolution...."

And as the friar did not reply, Isabella entreated eagerly:

"Why are you silent, Father? Is my sin so great that the Lord in
his mercy cannot forgive? Did not Peter deny Him? Did not Paul
persecute Him? And yet did they not become chosen vessels, and
apostles of the people? I ask not so much; a particle of pity
would be enough, a drop of consolation and oblivion. Release me
from sin, save me from despair. I know that _in articulo mortis_
you can absolve cases reserved only to the Pope. Listen, you may
consider me on the point of death; believe me, I am in my last
agony; only a few hours remain to me to live; near the dreaded
departure, you cannot deny me the bread of hope and pardon,
through which the soul appears before the tribunal of God, where
trembling and trusting it awaits the sentence of the minister,
who represents God upon this earth, to be confirmed...."

And still the friar answered not.

Isabella again prayed, begged, and wept, but still in vain. The
confessional had become as silent as the grave. Then Isabella
reached her hand impatiently within the niche occupied by the
confessor, striving to meet him in the dark, fearing some sudden
accident had befallen him. Let the reader imagine how great was
her wonder, her grief, her terror, when she felt assured the
friar had disappeared. A cold shudder crept over her heart; and
with a sigh she fell senseless upon the ground.

And it was fortunate for her to have Lady Lucrezia by her side;
who, little occupied by her own thoughts, paid careful attention
to what was passing. She hastened to her assistance, and
succeeded in a short time in restoring her.

Isabella, thinking on the one hand of the danger which she had
run of raising a great deal of scandal in the church if the
people had recognised her, on the other hand seeing that the dawn
was beginning to lighten the sky, leant trembling on the arm of
Lucrezia, and hastily left the church.

Coming out into the air, she raised her eyes to heaven, where
the stars had disappeared one by one, not like lights blown out
by a gust of wind, but like sparks that are consumed within a
greater fire:--thus human souls, emanations from the Divinity,
set free from the flesh which bind them, love to mingle again in
the great bosom of God. From the east a delicate veil of vapors
tinted with gold surrounded beautiful Florence, like a Madonna of
her immortal painters encircled by a radiated halo. Nature with
all created things, as a harpist pours from the chords of his
lyre a torrent of melody, raised to the Creator a morning hymn;
there was no object nor being which either with a prayer, or a
vow of the heart, or the happiness of a look, or with perfume, or
with a song towards heaven, did not salute the Father of light,
and an indistinct murmur was diffused forth and forth in the
distance like a trepidation of the old mother Earth rejoicing in
feeling her chilled bones warmed by the beneficial heat. Hail,
O firstborn of the thought of God; hail, O Sun, for there is
nothing dead before you, and everything breathes and revives,
and from the very sepulchres where lay my beloved dead you bring
out flowers, ornaments for the hair of young lovers, and loving
maidens.

Isabella raised her eyes to heaven, and her smile returned upon
her pale face; then turning her head to the spot where the sun
was about rising, she thus spoke:

"How beautiful is life! But in order to enjoy it we must possess
the youth of years, the youth of the heart, innocence, and
enthusiasm; we must be able to stand the comparison with the odor
of the flowers, with the songs of birds, with the varied tints of
the wings of the butterfly, with the exultation of the first rays
of the morn. O life! since I cannot enjoy thee as I could once, I
will not suffer thee as I am: he who has ceased to reign let him
throw aside his crown; the royal mantle left upon the shoulders
of him who has no longer a kingdom, is a weight and an ignominy.
But is death approaching, perhaps welcomed like the shadow of
the tree to the traveller, who has walked from dawn over burning
sands under the scourge of the sun? Do I approach it with the
desire of the wearied laborer, who sees towards evening, by the
uncertain gleam of twilight, appear in the distance the belfry of
his village? Can I say to the grave: Thou art my bridegroom? Does
peace await me beyond the threshold of life? Yes, peace awaits
me, for I have loved, hoped, and suffered greatly. I repent
of another sin, which is for having desired to put a mediator
between myself and God. The priest has repulsed me from the
temple: for me it is sufficient that thou, O Creator of all, dost
not repulse me from heaven. I confess myself to Thee, O Lord!
Thou hast no need of declarations, for with a look Thou hast seen
through my heart, and penetrated even to its inmost recesses. I
could wish that my spirit might fly towards Thee upon the first
ray which is about to pour down from behind that mountain.... But
if this cannot be, keep Thine arms open, O Lord, for it will not
be long before I shall seek shelter under the mighty wings of Thy
pardon."

     *       *       *       *       *

The penitents around the confessional waited a long time for
Father Marcello to return; but he did not appear; they went into
the vestry to inquire about him: they sought in his cell, in the
library, and through the convent, but they could not find him.

Feeling alarmed, the monks went round inquiring about him; some
one said he thought he saw him in the street of Diluvio, with
his hood drawn over his eyes, walking hastily, as if called to
some death-bed; another said that he thought he saw him passing
through Borgo a Pinti, so trembling in his walk, that often
getting entangled in his gown, he was on the point of falling.
Where, however, he had gone, all were ignorant, and could not
even imagine. The astonishment increased, not without also a
little fear. The Prior sent some zealous fathers of the order to
inquire courteously of the guards of the gates: they went, they
sought diligently, but no one was able to give any information
about him. Meanwhile between searches, terror, and grief, the
day had already passed; to which succeeded a few hours of the
evening, and the monks were assembled in the refectory, some
praying, some conversing; the boldest ones offered themselves
to ascend upon the pulpits, and announce to the people the
disappearance, and perhaps martyrdom, of Father Marcello; the
timid ones advised waiting to inquire better into the matter,
and not to hasten it: there were as many opinions as there
were heads, as it always happens in an assemblage of men who
meet to decide upon a doubtful event;--when suddenly there was
heard a slight ring at the bell. They all rose to a man, for
we always see the spirit of corporation to be very strong, and
all went to the door. Who can describe the tears, the cries of
joy, the hearty welcomes, the embraces, and the demonstrations
of affection that broke forth from these brothers, when they
saw re-appear their beloved Father Marcello? He replied to
all, kissed and embraced all of them: sweet tears of gratitude
ran down his cheeks; but his face appeared pale, and so deeply
impressed with some internal grief, as to excite at the same
time pity and fear.

He spoke briefly, and said:--that he had run a great danger; it
was really a miracle that he was alive; he owed his life to the
mercy of God, and certainly also to the prayers of his brothers:
he thanked them from the bottom of his heart, and begged them to
be pleased to accompany him to church to render thanks to the
Almighty, that with so visible aid had saved him from so imminent
a danger.

They went, and thanked God; afterwards Father Marcello closeted
with the Prior, and having discussed the matter, and the
consequences, thought best to gain time, in order to avoid
scandal, and keep himself aloof, that no evil may happen to him
and to the Order. He was sent to Rome, in order to inform the
Pope of the manner in which the ministers of the Church were
abused, and that he might inquire into it; and then returning
with the help of the Pontiff to preach against these false
Catholics, who committed such nefarious acts, that the Lutherans
themselves would be ashamed of it.

It was Titta, who, conducting the friar unharmed to the convent,
had kept faithfully his word.



CHAPTER IX.

DEATH.

    Pues esta noche ha da ver
      El fin de mi desgracio
      Medio mas prudente, y sabio
      Para acabarlo de hacer.
    Leonor (hay de mi), Leonor,
      Bella como licenciosa,
      Tan infeliz como hermosa,
      Ruina fatal de mi honor.
    Leonor, que al dolor rendida
      Y al sentimiento postrada
      Dejò la muerte burlada
      En las manos de la vida,
    Ha de morir----

    CALDERON DE LA BARCA.

    This night is destined to reveal,
    By prudent means and cunning skill,
    My deep revenge for wounded pride
    Fulfilled, accomplished, satisfied.

    Oh, Leonor, can tears avail?
    Most fair, but, ah! most false and frail;
    Most loved, but most unhappy name,
    My honor's ruin and my shame.

    Oh, Leonor, in saddest hour,
    O'erwhelmed by grief's intensest power,
    Though once released when death was nigh,
    Thy doom is written, thou must die!


A servant arrives in haste and reports to the Duchess that the
most noble Duke is at the head of the street with his lordly
retinue; a few moments later another comes to say that the Duke
has entered the court-yard, that he has dismounted, that he has
begun to ascend the stairs. At this intelligence the Duchess
rises, and surrounded by the gentlemen of the household, her
maidens and her women, with Troilo at her side, composing her
face to appear calm, and calling, with Heaven knows how terrible
an effort, a smile to her lips, advances, neither hastily nor
slowly, but with elegant and dignified grace, to welcome her
husband.

They meet at the head of the stairs; they clasp each other in
their arms; they kiss each other again and again, and appear
deeply agitated, as indeed they are;--but with what emotions?
That is visible to God alone. To the bystanders it seems only a
natural agitation, arising from the gratification of their long
cherished wish of seeing each other again, from the happiness
of reuniting the members of a family, separated with so much
sorrow; in short, from domestic joys, which men prize so lightly
while they possess them, but for which they mourn, when lost,
with inexpressible bitterness, and which are welcomed with such
triumphant delight by the fortunate few to whom it is granted to
recover them. Released from the embraces of his wife, the Duke,
who was pre-eminent for polished and noble manners, advanced to
Troilo, pressed his hand, kissed and embraced him; nor did he
forget the other members of the household, but speaking kindly to
them, and calling them by name, asked after themselves and their
families with a minuteness which showed that he had remembered
carefully both them and their affairs.

The Duke, the Duchess, and Troilo having retired to a more
private apartment, the Duke said:

"I think it would be well, Isabella, to send immediately to
inform your gracious brother of my arrival, so that he may kindly
allow our Virginio to be sent home; I long exceedingly to see
him. I know well that he is becoming strong and valiant, and
shows himself fond of all kinds of knightly exercises which are
fitting for a great prince; and indeed, not to speak of my blood,
descending from yours, which has honored the world with so many
men renowned both for military prowess and for wisdom, he could
not well be otherwise.--But what joy can messages or letters
cause, equal to that which gladdens the heart of a father at the
sight of the dear face, and at the sound of the sweet voice of
his son----"

"I have already anticipated your wishes, Giordano. A mother feels
intuitively the desires of a father, even before they can rise
from his heart to his lips."

"My best beloved!--What can I say to you? How find words to
express my thanks? Oh, what a comfort is this air of home, which
I can call truly mine! How soothingly do these emotions descend
upon the soul, like the sweet breath of spring, to disperse every
cloud of melancholy, of vexing care, of passion. Yes, yes, the
air of the open plains or of the mountain heights, the sea-breeze
that swept my face on the day of the battle of Lepanto,--I will
not say that these were not most grateful to me,--I enjoyed even
the wild tumult of the battle itself, and the dazzling brilliancy
of the sun's rays glancing from the armor of the Christians,
and glorious above all was the proud shout of victory,--but
oh!--the air of my home,--the air of my home,--that I have found
nowhere----!"

    "But not on downy plumes, nor under shade
    Of canopy reposing, fame is won,

as Dante says, and you have added a most noble monument of praise
to the renowned honor of your house. Certainly it is an arduous
undertaking to exalt what is already so high; to the eagle alone
is it granted to commence his flight from the summit of the
Alps----"

"A mere fable! In my opinion, your poet would have done much
better to compare glory to 'smoke in air or foam upon the
wave.'[48] Peace, rest, is what men crave incessantly. The more
boldly we arrange our affairs or enterprises, the more sharply
our passions sting us, so much the more rapidly does time,
exerting all the power of his heavy wing, hurl ruin upon human
beings, affairs, renown, and hearts. This power, like the wind,
strikes with greatest force the loftiest summits; the raging
whirlwind, which rends the oak upon the mountain-top, is gentle
to the violet in the vale,--I am old----"

  [48]

    Ormai convien che tu cosi ti spoltre,
      Disse 'l Maestro, chè, _seggendo in piuma_,
      _In fama non si vien_, _nè sotto coltre_;
    Sanza la qual chi sua vita consuma,
      Cotal vestigio in terra di sè lascia,
      Qual _fumo in aere od in acqua la schiuma_.

    INFERNO XXIV.

    "Now needs thy best of man;" so spake my guide:
    "For not on downy plumes, nor under shade
    Of canopy reposing, fame is won;
    Without which whosoe'er consumes his days,
    Leaveth such vestige of himself on earth,
    As smoke in air, or foam upon the wave."

    CARY'S _Translation_.

"Alas! Do you, then, think that the passions which are most
active in corroding the human heart, are those which chiefly
haunt the court and camp? Often in gilded halls, beneath
draperies of damask, are kindled flames fiercer, not only than
any other earthly ones, but than those of the infernal----"

"However it may be with others, see here, my face is full of
wrinkles, while as to you, time has hardly dared to touch the
corner of your eyes with the downy tip of his wings."

"Is it, then, the face alone that grows old? Do you not know
that man sometimes survives himself? Do you not know that the
heart often rests within the breast like a corpse in the coffin?
Ah, Giordano! I swear to you by the Crucifix, that the sorrows
suffered by you, on account of your long and distant separation
from your home, are not nearly so severe as those which I have
endured, remaining here, forsaken and solitary. I recognise in my
pallid face the tokens of the worn out spirit. Do not deny it;
do not shake your head as if you did not think so. I possess a
stern friend, who, neither by threats, nor by supplications, nor
by bribes, can be restrained from speaking the truth; who, if
broken into a thousand fragments, would assume a thousand tongues
to repeat it to me more persistently than ever; who ought to be
banished from Court, since he will not bend to flattery, and
nevertheless he is one whom we could not possibly do without. And
is called--as you must already have guessed--Looking-glass!"

"No, indeed, I had not a suspicion of it; I was racking my
brains to discover who this Anaxarchus could be."[49]

  [49] Anaxarchus, a philosopher of Abdera, one of the followers
  of Democritus, and the friend of Alexander. When the monarch had
  been wounded in a battle, the philosopher pointed to the place,
  adding, that is human blood, and not the blood of a god. This
  freedom offended Nicocreon, tyrant of Cyprus, who ordered him
  to be pounded in a stone mortar, with iron hammers. While the
  executioners were performing the sentence, he exclaimed, as long
  as his strength lasted; "Pound the body of Anaxarchus; but thou
  canst not pound his soul."

"Messere Virginio!" announced a page, raising the hangings of the
door; and immediately after entered a youth, just on the verge of
manhood, remarkably handsome, though rather sedate in manner, and
dressed in dark colors.

Have you seen a ferocious animal called the jaguar, as, with a
terrific spring, he bounds from his hiding-place upon his expected
prey? It must have been with a bound little less terrific that
the Duke threw himself upon his son Virginio; for in those times
the passions were much more demonstrative than was necessary,
and, whether tender or fierce, most vehement always, and as the
simoom whirls about the sands of the desert, so they subverted the
sentiments of the soul. He clasped Virginio convulsively to his
heart, kissed his hair and his face, held him long in his arms, and
almost suffocated him with embraces, as the boa-constrictor tightens
his coils around his enemy;--he dreaded, with passionate jealousy,
that others should share in his joy; he drew him to one side, gazed
earnestly into his eyes, and then breaking out into actual weeping,
he exclaimed, in a voice broken by sobs:

"O my son! O my own child! Hope and pride of the noble house of
Orsini!"

All marvelled; and Virginio, instead of replying to such extravagant
demonstrations of affection, seemed almost bewildered by them,
and looked towards his mother, as if longing for her more tender
caresses; but the father endeavored to monopolize all the attention
of his son, endeavored to interpose his own person between his eager
eyes and the beloved parent they sought. Virginio succeeded, at last,
in freeing himself from such ardent endearments, and flew to his
mother's outstretched arms; they remained long clasped in a rapturous
embrace, which can be likened to nothing on earth but itself, the
embrace given by a tender mother to a beloved son; nor even in Heaven
can the embraces of the angels before the throne of the Eternal
surpass it in affection.

The Duke watched these two beings with a gaze full of sadness; his
heart swelled within him, and a half-stifled sigh escaped his lips;
his angry, blood-shot eyes turned with a truculent expression upon
Troilo, who, overwhelmed with confusion, kept his fixed upon the
earth. It is not to be doubted that if Isabella and Troilo had not
been wholly preoccupied at that moment, the former with the dear
delight of seeing her son again, the latter with the reproaches of
his conscience, they would have read their own condemnation in those
fearful glances of the Duke, for they revealed the hell in his heart.

As if he could hardly endure to see so closely united, two souls
destined so soon to separate, or rather, jealous of an affection
which he wished and intended to turn entirely to himself, he called
Virginio to him in a somewhat sharp tone, and said:

"It does not belong to me to examine the progress you have made in
letters, for of such matters I know but little; but tell me, how well
can you manage a horse? How wield your arms? Do swords frighten you?"

"Try and see."

"With all my heart;" and the Duke sent a servant for his fencing
weapons, without which, he, a most skilful swordsman, never
travelled. Then commenced a furious passage of arms, in which if, as
might be expected, the Duke was the superior in strength, Virginio
on his side showed a skill equal to his father's, and for his years
truly wonderful.

"Troilo!" exclaimed the Duke, exultingly; "Troilo, by my faith he
is one of the best swordsmen that I have ever encountered. I beg of
you, Troilo, to try him yourself; there was a time, Troilo, when our
officers considered you an excellent fencer."

"There was a time, yes--but now I feel that I am weaker. Oh, how much
better would it have been for me to have won for myself either renown
or an honorable death----"

"What? In guarding my honor, Troilo, can you possibly have drawn
dishonor upon yourself?"

"No; but I think it would have been more desirable to have been at
the Curzolares."

"Learn, Troilo, that in every station where a man conducts himself as
an honorable knight, he may win honor. Come, now, to oblige me, try
him."

And Troilo did try; but his arm trembled so that he could hardly
hold his sword; he kept merely upon the defensive, and soon, as if
wearied, lowered his weapon.

"I am no longer what I was; my strength is half-spent. If God grants
me life, I have determined to go and reinvigorate myself by the
discipline of the Knights of Malta."

"It will be a meritorious work, Troilo; and it will be well to go
now, for his Holiness the Pope has promised great indulgences to all
who will arouse themselves to fight against the infidels. You are
weary of idleness, I of action, and we both seek change of life. It
is the way of the world; we are never contented with our present lot;
we are like sick men, who, tossing from side to side, seek ease from
their pain. I do not know whether the sepulchre can give us fame, but
certainly the sepulchre alone can give repose. But why do I speak of
sepulchres? And why do you look so sad? This is a day of rejoicing.
It is one of those days that smoothe away more than one wrinkle from
the brow and from the heart. Enjoy yourselves. I feel that I am the
happiest man on the face of the earth. My house must resound with
festive shouts. Rejoice! I beg of you, rejoice! I command you----"

"Do you think that joy can be commanded like a regiment of soldiers?"
asked Isabella in a languid voice.

"What prevents it from being spontaneous?"

"Our souls readily don the habit of sadness, and cannot lay it aside
as we women do a veil or girdle. And then there are modest and hidden
joys that vanish in the open air, and must be guarded like the vestal
flame in the sanctuary of the heart."

"No, thank God I love free and open joy, I love the noisy mirth that
takes pleasure in bonfires, in feasts and banquets, and delights in
flowers and sweet sounds. Welcome, cheerfulness! that gilds herself
in the first rays of the morning sun, refreshes herself with the
dews, traverses fields and meadows, and hunts the wild beasts. To the
country, say I, to the country; we cannot breathe at ease in these
prisons which they call cities; an oppression weighs upon the breast
and vexes the heart. Let us see if there we can still be melancholy.
I wish to see you merry; I will make you all cheerful, or I am not
Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano. Listen, Isabella; I have
determined to pay a visit to his Highness your brother; Virginio
shall go with me; and having, as is proper, rendered my due respects
to him, I shall immediately take leave, and we can go, without
delaying any longer in town, to our beautiful Cerreto. There are
pleasant shades, wild beasts, and leafy groves; there flow deep cool
streams; there the eye can rest with delight upon the greater part of
this earthly paradise which we salute by the name of Tuscany. No one
can hope to taste the pleasures of domestic life better than in the
quiet of the fields or under the shade of the forests; there we shall
feel ourselves happy. Are you not pleased, Isabella? Certainly you
have too much enthusiasm in your soul to deny this. The husband of a
poetess, I open my heart to the spirit of poetry."

"I like whatever pleases you, my dear Lord; but think how intensely
warm it is, and how much pleasanter it would be to travel by night."

"Yes, truly, we are stifled here. Do you not feel as if it were
raining fire? I do not know the sun in Florence. During the winter
he creeps from cloud to cloud like a criminal, who by mixing in the
crowd seeks to escape the sheriff; then in the summer he stands
riveted in the heavens, and seems to wish us the fate he brought
upon his son Phaeton. But does a soldier care for the sun? What do
you think, Troilo?"

"By your leave I should agree with the Duchess."

"Well, well, if the sun hurts you, you can go in the carriage with
her; we shall go on horseback."

"I, too, will go on horseback," cried Troilo in an excited tone, and
the Duke replied, smiling--

"I did not intend to offend you, Troilo; I thought that you might
wish to continue the good and faithful guardianship that you have
hitherto----"

And without finishing his sentence, he took Virginio by the hand, and
promising that he would return shortly, accompanied by an honorable
retinue of gentlemen, he departed to pay a visit of courtesy to his
brother-in-law.

As soon as he was gone, Troilo and Isabella, as may readily be
imagined, strained every faculty of their minds to weigh the words
uttered by the Duke, and to submit to a rigorous examination his
gestures, looks, and every little trifle which would have escaped
eyes less vigilant than theirs. They were so completely absorbed in
their anxious doubts, that if an earthquake had shaken the city, they
would not have perceived it, which, as we read in history, actually
happened to the Romans and Carthaginians during the battle of Lake
Trasymene. What was also very remarkable, was, that their reflections
terminated at the same moment, and in entirely opposite conclusions,
for while Troilo laid aside all fear, Isabella bade adieu to every
gleam of hope.

Without requiring the language of the lips, they had, by means of the
many other modes of expression of which the human face is capable,
made known to each other the subject of their thoughts, and the
decision which they had each formed. When Troilo perceived that they
did not agree, an insane desire took possession of him, to learn
more exactly Isabella's opinion. But to dismiss the numerous guests
did not seem polite, neither was it prudent, in their presence, to
hold any secret conversation, and it was dangerous to allow Troilo
to continue his nods and signs, unfortunately too evident to every
one, that he wished, at all hazards, to speak to her; so, as the
best thing that she could do, she went to a table, and taking up
Petrarch's Lyric Poems, found a sonnet, read it attentively, and
marking lightly with her nail that part of the page to which she
wished to draw Troilo's attention, she left it open, making a sign
to him to read it; then turning away, she joined with her usual
brilliancy in the conversation of those standing near her. Troilo,
as soon as he thought that he could do so without attracting
observation, approached the table, and read at the place marked:

    But though it be our hapless lot to lie
      In durance vile, of former peace bereft,
    Yea, though the fates decree that we should die,
      One consolation still to us is left,
    He who to us our liberty denies,
      Lies willing captive to another's powers;
    Pierced by the archer's fatal shafts he lies,
      And wears a closer, heavier chain than ours.[50]

  [50]

    Ma del misero stato ove noi semo
      Condotte dalla vita altra serena,
      Un sol conforto, e della morte, avemo:
    Che vendetta è di lui ch' a ciò ne mena;
      Lo qual in forza altrui, presso all' estremo,
      Riman legato con maggior catena.

Troilo shrugged his shoulders, saying to himself:--"She really
enjoys thinking herself past all hope; but how can she help
seeing clearly that the Duke is the happiest man in the world?
She wishes, and indeed it would be for her advantage, that I
should go away. But we know each other of old; and I have never
felt so much disposed as now to stay and see the end of it. That
I must give place, is all right and proper; if they wish me to
give with one hand, I will give with two; but we must capitulate
on honorable conditions; must come to advantageous terms; I
intend to depart with military honors, taking my arms and
baggage, not to be driven away like an old servant."

It was not long before the Duke reappeared, honorably
accompanied, but without Virginio. When Isabella saw him enter
alone the last ray of hope was extinguished in her heart, the
entire renunciation of which is most difficult for the human
heart. Then she seemed indeed to read her sentence of death.
Death is terrible to all, but especially so to those who, from
physical weakness, shrink from suffering it. A cold shudder ran
through her bones, her face became deathly pale, her livid lips
quivered convulsively. No one can deny that her own sense must
have taught her that it would be impossible to use violence
against a mother in presence of her son. She went towards the
Duke, and with an indescribable expression asked him:

"Where is our Virginio?"

"Your brother insisted upon keeping him; he says that his
attention is too easily diverted, and that it is a most difficult
thing to bring him back again to his daily routine. In truth, it
seems hard that I should not enjoy my son's society, after so
many years of separation, but you know it is for our interest to
conciliate his Highness. However, he has promised to send him for
one day to our country-seat, accompanied by his tutor----"

"Country-seat? which country-seat?"

"Cerreto."

"When?"

"Very soon."

"He will certainly send him to the country, but not to Cerreto.
To-morrow, perhaps----"

"He did not say to-morrow?"

"No! but my heart tells me--Alas! Why did I not give him a
farewell kiss?"

"Do you fear that you will not have time to kiss him?"

"Do you believe that I shall have time to kiss him?" demanded
Isabella, with a look that seemed to penetrate into the inmost
recesses of his heart. The Duke, glancing away from her, tried to
escape her questionings and pleadings.

"Of course I believe it; what is there to prevent? If he should
forget it, we can send for him. Come, then, to horse; what need
is there of further delay? To Cerreto--to peace--to rest--to
repose after our long labors--to sweet sleep!"

"_Stultum est somno delectari, mortem horrere: cum somnus
assiduus sit mortis mutatio._"[51]

  [51] It is foolish to enjoy sleep and to be terrified at death,
  for eternal sleep would be death.

"What are you murmuring, Isabella?"

"I just happened to think of a sentence in Seneca, about sleep the
brother of death."

"How can such a quotation apply to us?"

"It does not." And two tears--two only--came to her eyes, but instead
of rolling down her cheeks in the usual manner, they sprang from her
lids like the last arrow shot from the bow of Grief.[52]

  [52] In the Memoirs of the Maréschal de Bassompierre, occurs
  the following remarkable passage: "Maria dei Medici, when her
  authority as regent was on the decline, intended to refuse
  the request of some of her barons to recall several exiles,
  which they were urging upon her with great persistency; but
  she did not dare to pronounce her refusal until she knew her
  actual condition. So, on some pretence she called Bassompierre
  aside, and asked him what means of resistance remained to her.
  Bassompierre replied, 'None, especially since some of her
  friends, such as the Marquis d'Ancre, had abandoned her.' Lors
  la reine ne peut se tenir de jeter quatre ou cinq larmes, se
  tournant vers la fenêtre afin qu'on ne la vit pas pleurer, et,
  _ce que je n'avois jamais vu, elles ne coulèrent point comme
  quand on a accoutumé de pleurer, mais se_ DARDÈRENT _hors des
  yeux sans couler sur les joues_."

"To horse!"

The servants, hurried by the impetuosity of Titta, whom they
perceived that they must obey as the Duke, or even more than the
Duke, prepared with wonderful celerity horses, carriages, and a
waggon, with such articles as could not be readily obtained in the
country. The major-domo, Don Inigo, had asked with his usual brevity,
"Whether it would be necessary to carry much plate and linen?" but
Titta replied,

"Why, no, major-domo, for I do not think that we shall stay very long
at Cerreto."

They set out. The sun darted down his fiery rays, the winds were
silent, there was not a breath of air, and the stifling glare of the
tyrant of the skies oppressed all nature. The leaves of the trees
hung motionless, for not a breath, not a sigh of wind dared to
stir them; the waters ceased their accustomed murmur; in such still
silence, in such intense solitude, the locusts alone, as if drunk
with the heat, labored in their monotonous song, which ends with
their lives; some lizards, gliding across the road with the speed of
an arrow, sought shelter from the heat from bush to bush. To increase
the distress of the journey, the dust, disturbed by the trampling of
the horses' feet, rose in clouds and settled thickly upon the hair
and clothes of the riders. The horses, losing their usual spirit,
walked panting, with drooping ears, and streaming with perspiration.
The Duke, his face in a flame, and tormented also by insupportable
fury, disguised his uneasiness, and said in a voice which he
endeavored to render cheerful:

"This sun-bath revives one's blood. Men born on Italian ground must
feel their hearts refreshed by the rays of the 'day-star;' heat is
the father of life, nay, life itself for we are born warm and we die
cold."

Meantime, with infinite trouble they had reached the banks of the
Arno. A few days before a sudden shower of rain had fallen, which,
although it had increased the sultriness, for it seemed as if it
had rained fire, had nevertheless raised the level of the Arno,
whose swollen waters rolled swiftly by. The ferryman being summoned,
hastened at the sight of such a noble and unexpected company, and
proposed to take them in two trips, for the river being so high,
and the boat so heavily laden, he feared that some disaster might
happen. But all were impatient to cross the stream, and the Duke
particularly; so the knights dismounted from their steeds, the ladies
descended from the carriage, and they all entered the boat, together
with the animals and vehicles, without paying the slightest attention
to the remonstrances of the boatman, who did not cease to warn them
of the danger. The Duke and Isabella advanced to the prow of the
boat, which would first touch the shore, without exchanging a word.
He gazed intently at the waters as they ran swiftly by, urged on,
as it were, by some mysterious agency, and murmuring hoarsely as if
complaining of the fleeting destiny granted to them by the fates.
Suddenly, as if speaking to himself he said:

"These waves, which pass so rapidly before my eyes, will certainly
grow quiet in the sea; but where go the human souls which pass away
no less swiftly?"

"Wherever it pleases the mercy of God," replied Isabella.

"Mercy! Say rather to whatever place we may deserve by the works and
merits which we perform during this passage to the tomb which we call
life."

"My dear Giordano, let no human creature presume to save himself by
his own merits. What should we be, if God did not assist us?"

"You confide much in the mercy of God?"

"Entirely."

"But if the priests should declare you unpardonable?"

"I should not despair, unless I should myself hear that severe
sentence from the immortal lips of the Father of Mercies."

"But God is a judge and avenger: He visits the generations, and
'visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and
fourth--'"

"We know another law, which is pardon, charity, and love; the
blessed Santa Teresa calls the devil unhappy, because he can neither
pardon nor love--"

"God help us!--We shall upset!"--

These cries suddenly interrupted the conversation. In a moment,
all was fear and confusion. The rope attached to the rudder broke,
and the force of the current, pushing the boat on one side, nearly
submerged it, all control over it being thus lost; the peril was
imminent, increased as it was by the uneasy motions of the men and
animals; the edge of the boat already touched the water; it was on
the point of filling hopelessly.

The Duke appeared not only free from all fear in that tumult, but
even enjoyed it, and with a great shout exclaimed:

"Let us all go to the bottom together!"

But the ferryman, with a strong push of his pole, was just in time to
support the side towards which the boat careened, and to save it from
disappearing beneath the surface. Rescued thus from the immediate
danger, the others assisted the ferryman, and by means of their
united strength, they succeeded, although with difficulty, in keeping
the boat steady; a servant, with a rope in his hand, then sprang
into the water, and crossing the stream, reached the opposite shore,
where, with the aid of some peasants who were waiting to cross,
he drew the rope, one end of which was fastened to the boat, and
succeeded in bringing it to a place of safety. They landed, but when
the ferryman, cap in hand, tried to recall himself to their memories,
which seemed cousins-german to forgetfulness, Isabella, looking back
at him, said:

"Why did you save us? Many would have died innocent, who will now be
lost."

And the Duke:

"Why did you save us? Who told you to? Who asked you to? We should
all have sunk to the bottomless pit without noticing it."

Troilo and the others looked askance at him as they passed. The
honest man stood confounded. Last of all came Don Inigo, so very
dark, with his pallid face and fierce glance. If to the eyes of
the ferryman the others had appeared demons, this man seemed Satan
himself; in his heart he gave up all hope of the expected _buona
mano_; nevertheless, according to his custom, he moved forward to ask
it, but his voice died away on his lips. Don Inigo fixed upon him two
such eyes that the frightened boatman retreated two or three steps,
and as Don Inigo continued to advance, without changing a muscle of
his face, he still retreated. Don Inigo thrust his hand into his
doublet, and the other, fearing that he was about to draw his dagger
or poniard, gave himself up for lost: but instead, he drew forth
two bright pistoles and held them out to him. The ferryman hardly
dared to trust himself, but the love of money overcame his fear: he
approached tremblingly, and stretched forth his open hand. Don Inigo
dropped the pistoles into it without speaking; the other received
them holding his breath; then, each turning away from the other,
the ferryman set off at a full run, and did not consider himself
safe until he was actually in his boat. When there he opened his
hand, suspecting that the money had turned to lead, which generally
happens, according to popular superstition, with money coined in
the infernal mint; but they still seemed of gold, as they had done
at first: at any rate, he put them carefully away in his purse,
exclaiming:

"I will have them blessed, for if it was not the devil and all his
imps that I have just ferried over, I am not the ferryman of Petroio!"

At last they have reached Cerreto-Guidi; at last they have reached
the foot of the steep flight of steps by which they wearily mount to
the country-seat at the top.

Country-seat! Yes, certainly, for thus that block of buildings was
then called, and always will be called, which was once the property
of Isabella Orsini at Cerreto-Guidi. There nature smiles most
brightly, and shows herself most joyful, and notwithstanding, man,
placing his fatal hand upon it, has succeeded in rendering it the
abode of terror: a hill, which, if left untouched, would have been
a most beautiful and charming sight, has been bound with brick and
stone, and converted into a fortress. Four very steep staircases,
two on each side, lead to the top; the two first form an angle at
the foot of the hill, and then part, the one to the right, the other
to the left; the two second begin where these end, and reunite in an
angle before the lawn in front of the palace. The walls come down
perpendicularly, built of brick of so bright a tint that even now
they appear as if stained with blood; the bosses, the stairs, and
the copings of the parapets are of Gonfalina stone; the two first
staircases have forty-two steps, each of which is more than a foot
broad; the second, forty-three; the cliff beneath is excavated, with
tortuous, subterranean passages winding through it. In the centre
of the wall rests an immense escutcheon, also of stone; but the
Medicean balls,[53] either the effect of time or "the work of men's
hands," have fallen, as the family of the Medici has fallen, as their
power has fallen, as all the great ones of the earth will fall, into
the sepulchre. To some sooner, to some later, but to all fatally,
will the Autumn come, for we are leaves attached to the tree of time,
and time itself is a perishing leaf of eternity. But when men have
fallen and their age has passed away, fame remains, which, although
it may grow old and infirm, never dies; and even if sometimes late,
always reaches posterity, to recount the vices and virtues of those
who have passed from earth. Despotic potentates have lived, who have
torn out its tongue, and thought thus to silence it, but the tongue
of fame springs again like the head of the Hydra, and God does not
permit a Hercules to rise against it, for He has sent it upon earth
as a precursor of His own delayed but inevitable justice.

  [53] The arms of the Medici family were six balls.

The palace contains a vast hall on the ground-floor; at the further
end of it there is an arch, at the right of which a broad stone
staircase leads to the first story.

Just on the right hand of the entrance is a suite of apartments.
Enter, cross it, and you will find a corner room; one side looks to
the south, that opposite to the door to the west. There is now but
one window to the room; at the time of our history there were two;
the second opened to the west. There are two doors; one large and
in full view, the other small and secret, and formerly covered by
tapestry of green damask. The room is ten feet by seven. In the wall
is a large press, which is not readily perceived by the careless
observer: looking up to the entablature, we find that there are
sixteen small joists resting upon one principal beam. But it is not
to count beams and joists that I turn your attention to the ceiling:
indeed no; look carefully, and there, under the principal beam, by
the third cross-beam from the western side, you will observe a small
round hole.

Remember this room and this hole. Two hundred and seventy-eight years
have now passed since that hole appeared there.

Cerreto (an oak grove) received its name from the abundance of green
oaks (_Cerri_) that shaded the hill and the surrounding country for
a long distance, as Frassineto (an ash grove) from the ash trees
(_Frassini_), and Suvereto (a wood of cork trees) from the corks
(_Sugheri_), and Rovereto (a male oak grove) from the male oaks
(_Roveri_). Where are the oak trees now? The eye of the passer-by
seeks in vain for a tree beneath whose shade to shelter his burning
head from the sun's scorching glare; and not at Cerreto alone,
but throughout all Tuscany, and even upon the lofty peaks of the
Apennine range, trees are to the present day but seldom seen. Oh!
sad is the necessity which compels us to deprive the earth of so
noble an ornament! The forests have disappeared, and with them the
Dryads, the Hamadryads, the Fauns, the Oreads, and the other lovely
families with which the fancy of the poets peopled them; the forests
have disappeared, and with them the Knights Errant, the tournaments,
the chivalrous enterprises, the fairies, the dwarfs, and the Queens
of Beauty, with whom the imaginations of the romancers gladdened
their sylvan haunts. The nymphs of the woods followed mourning to
see the beloved trees, and recommended them to the care of the ocean
goddesses, as if they had been best beloved children; and the ocean
goddesses cared for them, fashioned them into ships, adorned them
with sails as purely white as the wings of the swan, gave them the
swiftness of the albatross, and the shining beauty of the halcyon;
then with their hands and shining shoulders they pushed the stern,
and the favoring winds, vieing with the nymphs, swelled the sails,
and took pleasure in spreading to the azure sky the banner of our
land.

The ship, traversing untried seas, carried arts, customs, and
knowledge, to civilize unknown and savage nations, and the banner
of our land was hailed even on the remotest shores as a token of
safety. Alas! This is a desire which, however earnest, can never more
be fulfilled. The woods of our country are shorn of their leaves,
as Grecian maidens formerly sacrificed their tresses at the tombs
of their dear ones. Our trees have been converted into ships, but
not for us; the winds have unfolded the banner, but it was not ours;
they have joined in battle, but it was not for the fates of our
country; they have sailed laden with merchandise, but not gathered
from our fields, nor manufactured by our hands; they have indeed
been guided by Italian men over unknown seas, and through terrible
storms and fearful perils, but others have received the fruits of
these enterprises, and our country has won merely barren renown.
Barbarous nations have bought our forests, while the iron dared
not touch their oaks, beneath which the Druids celebrated their
mysterious rites. Oh! miserable nation, who have sold everything,
and had it been possible would have sold even your sun and sky, why,
if you yourselves had no thrill of daring or of glory, why did you
disinherit your posterity? Why, not contented with your own baseness,
did you prepare for your sons an inheritance of shame and tears?
What judgment awaits you beyond the grave, since your children will
remember their fathers only by the ill which they have received from
them?

But Cerreto was at that time shaded with an abundance of oaks, elms,
holm-oaks, and trees of all kinds; while pheasants, heath-cocks, and
infinite varieties of birds flew from bough to bough, and roebucks,
deer, stags, hares, and wild-boars bounded through the underbrush; so
that the place was remarkably well adapted for the chase, the supreme
delight in the lives of Princes.

When Isabella, leaning on her husband's arm, began to ascend the
stairs, she stumbled on the first step, so as to cause herself severe
pain; smiling sadly, she turned to the Duke and said:

"This is a bad omen: a Roman would have turned back."[54]

  [54] As Lamoignon Malesherbes, the aged defender of Louis XVI.,
  was being dragged to the scaffold, he struck his foot against
  a step in the prison, and remarked: "A Roman would have turned
  back."

The Duke, not being able to think of a good answer, kept silence,
trying in his turn to laugh.

As soon as they reached the palace, every one repaired to his own
apartments; the Duke went to those which contained the room already
so minutely described, to perform his toilet.

When they had bathed in perfumed water, changed their clothes, and
dressed their hair, they all met again on the piazza in front of the
palace.

The sun, shorn of his rays, resembled a blood-shot eye, and the
whole sky near him seemed like a lake of blood. An immense extent
of country lay stretched out before the eyes of our personages, for
from that height could be seen the greater part of the territories
of Florence, Pistoia, Volterra, Pisa, Colle, Samminiato, and even
Leghorn. Groups of houses were scattered about on the hills, like
flocks of goats in their pastures; from the little cottages rose
straight columns of smoke, and the sound of melancholy songs was
heard from the plains, to which other voices in the distance replied
in strains equally mournful. From a black cloud darted, from time
to time, a tongue of flame like the sword of the avenging Archangel
hidden behind it. The sun meantime is gradually sinking--now it is
merely a streak of light--now it is gone! Isabella, moved by an
irresistible impulse, stretched forth her arms with the despairing
sorrow with which we see our dearest treasures hidden from our sight
beneath the earth, and exclaimed:

"Farewell, O sun, farewell!" and covered her face with her hands.

"Farewell until to-morrow," said the Duke, "and may you rise with a
brighter face than that with which you leave us. Beautiful plains,
pleasant woods, and delightful ease, at last I return to enjoy you,
nor will I again leave you hastily. I am weary of pursuing glory,
which is never overtaken; or if overtaken, when man thinks to clasp
a supreme good, his arms fall empty on his bosom. I wish to find
my pleasure in domestic joys, the only true ones in the world. I
reproach myself, and I ask your pardon, Isabella, and bind myself
by an oath never to leave you again. I thank you, that on returning
home, I have not been received as a stranger; I owe it to the
excellent goodness of your disposition, that coming back, after so
many years of absence, I can believe that I departed only yesterday.
My heart is sick; it is for you to cure it entirely of the fever of
ambition, which has wrung it so sorely."

Isabella looked at him, and smiled mournfully without speaking; but
Troilo, who thought him sincere, replied consolingly:

"Now how can you say that you have spent your days in vain? In a
hundred battles you have gathered laurels enough to crown two Cæsars;
not to mention others, at Lepanto alone you have, by your bravery and
prowess, acquired a name that history will record with pride in her
eternal pages. Ah! be good enough to satisfy my long desire; narrate
to me the events of this 'battle of the giants.'"

"At another time, Troilo, at another time; but, I repeat it, all is
vanity. Look and see what good has arisen from so many deaths, from
so much misery, from so many wounds! The Christians, envious of each
other, did not follow up their victory; the Turks rose again, more
troublesome than ever; and Don John, unacceptable conqueror, received
as the recompense of his wonderful valor, nothing but oblivion, and
happy he if nothing worse happen to him! That great soldier heart,
which expands in the dangers of the conflict, will quickly cease to
beat if condemned to fret itself away at Court,[55] for glory was
his breath, danger his blood, war his very life. The fate of this
illustrious but unfortunate man, teaches me to be wise, and furl the
sails worn by the long voyage. True, it is late, but 'better late
than never;'--the sun of my life is declining--God grant that its
setting at least may be peaceful!"

  [55] It was not long before they received notice of the death of
  Don John of Austria, caused by fever and the deep vexation of
  excessive care.

       *       *       *       *       *

The servants had prepared two tables in the lower hall, and they were
overloaded with the gifts of Ceres and Bacchus; many chandeliers
shone with brilliant light, which was reflected in infinite rays
from the sparkling silver plate, white porcelain vases, and large
mirrors. All the doors which looked upon the piazza had been opened,
and also the opposite ones opening into the gardens; and yet the air
was so still that not even a light flickered, and the folds of the
window curtains and awnings were as immovable as if made of marble
or bronze. Through so many openings there did not penetrate a single
refreshing breath of air.

They sat at the banquet. The Duke strove his best to make the guests
give themselves up to joy and merriment; he had need of excitement;
he endeavored to stupefy himself; he meant to drown his internal
passion in the madness of false hilarity: in short, he sought
mainly two things, courage to persist, and power to dissimulate.
He succeeded finally; for the guests, having no motive to doubt
the sincerity of the Duke's gaiety, abandoned themselves to a free
and open demonstration of enjoyment, and thus was tempered the
artificial and icy happiness which he pretended. Troilo, who, as all
ignorant men are wont, presumed a great deal on himself, thought
there was no danger; yet he was not entirely at his ease, and, at any
rate, he thought best to drown all sadness in wine. The conversation
began to be more excited and lively; witty sayings flew from mouth to
mouth. The banquet was at its climax; the valets and pages hastened
around, carrying wines of all kinds and warm viands; the noise which
arises from gay voices speaking all together, a sure indication of a
merry feast, filled the whole room, and from time to time was broken
by loud laughter.

But Isabella participated in this hilarity as much as was necessary
not to show the perturbation which agitated her; and it did not
escape her notice that the Duke, whilst he urged the others and
herself to drink often, never did himself, or, hardly touching the
glass to his lips, set it down again. Her eyes often sought those of
the Duke, but he studiously avoided hers, or if by chance they met he
turned them away quickly. Not that she was sorry at this, prepared as
she was for everything, but, through an innate vanity in our nature,
she wished to show him that she might be murdered, but not deceived.

And since there never are motives wanting among men either to do an
injury or to drink, so it is useless to relate in how many ways, and
for how many reasons, they all drank.

Troilo, partly to correspond to the general exultation, partly to
acquire more and more the good will of his cousin, rose suddenly, and
holding in his hand a full goblet, toasted the Duke thus:

"The health of the valorous knight of Christ, the victorious warrior
of Lepanto."

There is nothing in the world so insupportable as praise in the mouth
of an enemy; no insult can offend as much as this eulogium; and it
seemed excessively insulting to the Duke, for he knew too well that
it was derived from stupidity, but mingled with malice; and it is
also no little offence to human vanity to allow the fool to suppose
that he has been able to deceive us. Yet he dissimulated; for when he
undertook a task, although weak by nature, he was capable by art of
dissimulating as well as the most dexterous.

At the toast of Troilo all replied applauding, and, although the
power of the wine had a great deal to do with these vociferous
approvals, yet they poured so sincerely from their hearts, that the
warrior felt proud of them, and they tempered the bitterness caused
by the thought of the source from whence the toast came, and the
reason of it.

The Duke rose also, and taking a glass, replied in an attitude of
acknowledgment:

"It is too much for me! But human tongue can never extol enough the
illustrious souls of those who perished fighting on that memorable
day."

"My Lord Duke, pray do not deny to us the honor and pleasure of
hearing you relate the events of that battle: we beg you, by the love
you bear to your lady."

"No; what is the use? You have all read it in the histories of the
times."

And all the guests insisted, speaking at once:

"Yes, but in generalities;--without details of facts and incidents.
And then, to read a relation of a battle is a very different thing
from hearing it from one who fought in it, shed his blood, and
conquered. Please narrate it to us."

And Titta, who had accompanied the Duke, and had fought at his side
and saved his life, desired that his prowess might be shown also
as well as his master's, so that he insisted more than the others
that the Duke, who was a good speaker, should relate the events and
dangers of that famous battle. Indeed the refusal of the Duke, to
tell the truth, was not sincere; not that he was a _miles gloriosus_,
but every soldier loves to record the battles he fought, the wounds
received, and to show himself a generous bestower of praise on the
enemy, whether conquerors or conquered;--if conquerors, to excuse the
defeat;--if conquered, to render his triumph more glorious.

Titta then, in a certain manner which was neither a request nor a
command, but participated of both, added:

"May it please your Excellency, although modesty may deter you from
narrating the battle, you must not deprive me of my share of praises;
for I also fought by your side, and as fortune, rather than my own
bravery, gave me the chance of saving the life of a valorous warrior,
I cannot renounce the reward accruing from this act, although an
accidental one."

"You are right, and I could not honestly be silent, when silence
might be imputed to me as ingratitude. Please then to listen; I will
speak briefly and plainly, as becomes a soldier. And you, Isabella,
remember all that I am about to say, and make it a noble theme for
your muse ... since now nothing is left to the warrior for reward but
the smile of beauty, and the honor of a poem."

"Is not that enough?" asked Isabella.

"It is even too much.--All Christendom was in arms: knights of high
lineage, plebeians, adventurers assembled from all sides to fight
the enemies of Christ, in order to obtain remission for their sins,
and the great indulgences promised by Pope Pius V. But although
the desire of the warriors was great to meet the enemy in mortal
combat, yet the secret intentions of the allied Princes were not
in accordance with them. The Venetians craved the battle, the Pope
more than they; but Philip II. of Spain was unwilling to risk an
enterprise on which depended all the forces of his kingdom, and
where victory would have been rather to the advantage of his allies
than to himself; nor in his crafty and cunning mind did he desire
the Italians to acquire fame; fearing lest they might be induced, as
it is customary with human natures, to feel the want of acquiring a
greater one.[56] The great _Comendador_ of Castille Requesens had
been sent to Don John of Austria as a check, and he never ceased
whispering in his ears, to curb his fiery spirit; that his supreme
glory and religion ought to be the welfare and advancement of the
king his brother; so that the great soul of this magnanimous man
sadly wavered with painful uncertainty. But every day there arrived
new forces ready to fight, seeking for no other reward or glory than
that of shedding their own blood for the Faith. Don John would sigh
from the depth of his heart, and with his eyes fixed upon the ground
tremble with rage, or grow pale and disheartened. The advices of
Gabrio Serbelloni, general of artillery, of Ascanio della Cornia,
grand-master of the field, and of Sforza, Count of Santafiore,
general of the Italians for king Philip, were of no little help to
add spurs to his valorous soul. Yet, it seemed that the battle would
not take place, for fortune hindered the enterprise with all her
might; and indeed a vague report was spread, that, on account of
the lateness of the season, and the stormy weather, this year they
would only attempt to gain possession of Castelnuovo, or Nelona, or
Durazzo, or Santa Maura. Add to this, that Don John, being greatly
exasperated against the Venetians, was on the point of losing the
occasion through which his name will descend immortal even to remote
posterity. The Venetian galleys were somewhat ill supplied with
soldiers, and accordingly Don John thought it best to replenish them
with his Italian and Spanish troops; it was a remedy worse than the
disease, since a day did not pass without tumults, quarrels, and
bloody fights arising. Captain Muzio da Cortona, stationed on the
galley of Andrea Calergi, a nobleman of Crete, having a quarrel with
some Venetians, drew his sword, and wounded several of them; a melée
ensued, they called to arms, and all the Venetians that happened to
be around assailed and abused him badly; but Veniero, the Venetian
general, as if this had not been enough, had him arrested, and hung
without mercy. Don John, considering his authority offended, was
resolved to take a solemn revenge against the Venetians, refusing
to listen to all the arguments with which Marcantonio Colonna, and
the Venetian Admiral Barbarigo, tried to pacify him.--But God,
who watched over our safety, caused the arrival of the unhappy
news of the loss of Famagosta; and that Marcantonio Bragadino
and Astorre Baglioni, after having defended it valorously for ten
months, were forced through want of ammunition, and the impatience
of the citizens, to surrender it with honorable conditions. But the
barbarian conqueror, violating his oath, ordered Bragadino's ears
to be cut off, and then, having dragged him ignominiously to the
market-place, after unheard of barbarities had him skinned alive;
nor being yet satisfied with this, he caused the skin to be filled
with straw, and hung to the mast of a galley, exhibiting through
Soria and the other Turkish countries this infamous trophy.--It was
on this occasion that Don John, shutting his eyes, and becoming
pale as death, seemed like a man who had received a powerful blow
upon the head; and he remained thus for a little while; then with
regal dignity he turned appeased to Veniero, and extending his
hand to him said: 'Peace! We have no enemies but the Turks.'--His
aspect, the words, and the manner in which they were proffered,
made all who stood around him shudder: imagine what effect they
would have had upon the enemies! Marcantonio Colonna, who stood by
him, related to me that in the fierce sparkling of the eyes of this
magnanimous Prince he seemed to read the death sentence of twenty
thousand infidels. Veniero pressed the invincible hand, kissed it,
and could not help exclaiming with sobs: 'Unfortunate Bragadino!
Unhappy blood!' Both Spaniards, Germans, and Italians, laying
aside all animosity, threw their arms weeping around each other's
necks, kissed each other's cheeks, and cried:--'Peace!'--Then with
a sudden change they thrust their hands in their hair, stamped the
pavement with their feet, and with loud voices cried:--'To arms, to
arms!'--Be it so!--replied Don John, unsheathing his sword, which,
glittering in the rays of the Sun, seemed to send forth sparks of
divine fire; and ordered to be unfolded upon his galley the banner
of the League sent by the Pope, whereon was painted the Crucifix,
and beneath it the escutcheons of the Allies, in the middle that of
the Pope, on the right that of the King of Spain, and on the left
that of the Venetians. The wind, and it was no small omen of victory,
unfolded through the air the glorious banner, so that it seemed as
if invisible hands held it spread by the four corners; and Don John,
fixing his eyes upon it with pious enthusiasm, exclaimed:--_In hoc
signo vinces!_--_In hoc signo vinces!_ exclaimed those near him,
and these sacred words spread like lightning, and were in a moment
repeated from the most distant ships. The great Comendador, who had
had a secret order from the king to hinder the enterprise, whether he
thought it too dangerous to oppose it, or that he was carried along
by the universal consent, changing his conduct and bearing, showed
more enthusiasm than the others, and murmured often:--They may order
us from Madrid to remain quiet, but before the enemy one cannot obey
such mandates!--

  [56] _i. e._ The liberation of Lombardy and the kingdom of Naples
  from the Spanish yoke.

"Another circumstance in which we saw the hand of God openly
manifested was this, that the enemy being distant, and able to avoid
a battle--and in fact some of their captains had advised it--there
suddenly arrived some spies who notified them that the greater part
of the Christian fleet had remained behind. This information was
partly true, but had been a thousand fold exaggerated by report;
for the only truth was, that the twenty-six galleys commanded by
Don Cæsar Davalo of Arragon, who was then in great grief mourning
the death of his brother the Marquis of Pescara, and who together
with Don John had been appointed as commander-in-chief of the whole
enterprise, had set sail late, and did not arrive in time. Upon these
ships were the German infantry commanded by the Counts Alberigo
Lodrone, and Vinciguerra d'Arco, so that, the battle having been
won principally by the efforts of the Italians, we lost no glory
on their account. Our spies also led us into the same error, for
they, badly informed, reported to us that in the Turkish fleet Aluch
Ali, Dey of Algiers, with his eighty galleys was wanting. Thus the
desire of fighting on both sides was very great, each thinking to
have the advantage over the other. Ali Pasha, Grand Admiral of the
sea, finding the wind in his favor, without any longer delay moved
all his fleet with much haste, but little order, from the Gulf of
Lepanto. The knight Gildandrada, sent out to reconnoitre, returned
the sixth of October, which was Saturday, in the dead of night, to
notify us of the approach of the enemy: we sailed all night, and the
next morning at dawn the seventh of October, the day of the Virgin
St. Giustina, we came abreast of the Curzolares Islands, anciently
called Echinades, about thirty-five miles distant from Lepanto. At
this moment Giovanni Andrea Doria returned, notifying us to prepare
for battle, for the Turkish fleet, favored by the wind, was coming
upon us. Then Don John with great calmness ordered the fleet to be
formed in battle array, which was this: the galleys were divided into
a centre, two wings, an advanced guard, and a rear guard, so that it
represented the form of an eagle.--Giovanni Andrea Doria commanded
the right wing with fifty-three galleys, and hoisted a green flag on
the mainmast of his ship. Agostino Barbarigo led the left wing with
as many galleys, hoisting a yellow flag. Don Alvaro di Baxan, Marquis
of Santacroce, was appointed to the command of the rear-guard with
thirty galleys, and displayed a white flag on his ship, ready to come
to assistance wherever the need required. Don John of Cardona, also
carrying a white flag, led the advanced-guard with eight galleys. The
centre, or as they call it, the _battle_, consisting of sixty-one
galleys, was under the command of Don John, with a blue flag at the
mast-head; and as they expected that the greatest efforts of the
enemy would be turned in this direction, they placed in defence
of the _Real_ galley, on the right the _Capitana_[57] of the Pope
with General Marcantonio Colonna, Romagasso, and other Knights; on
the left the Venetian _Capitana_, with General Sebastiano Veniero,
after which was the _Capitana_ of Genoa with Alessandro Farnese,
Prince of Parma, and on the other side the _Capitana_ of Savoy with
Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino: the sides of this
battle were closed on the right by the _Capitana_ of Malta, on the
left by the _Capitana_ Lomellina, where I was;--aside the stern of
the _Real_ stood the _Capitana_ and _Padrona_ of Spain with the
great _Comendador_ Requesens. It was a very wise plan, as the effect
showed, that of towing the six Venetian _galeazzas_, each armed
with four hundred chosen arquebusiers, sixty brass cannons, bombs
and rockets of all kinds, about half a mile ahead of the fleet; two
of them commanded by Andrea Pesaro and Pietro Pisani in front of
the right wing; the other two of Agostino and Antonio Bragadino,
before the left; and the last two of Giacomo Guoro and Francesco
Duodo in front of the _battle_.--Alas! why have I not a poetic
genius, and why does not all Christendom listen, that I may extol
with song, which makes even mortals eternal, those magnanimous men
who came voluntarily to take a part in this memorable day? I would
pray the Mother of God to recall to my memory the names of all the
brave who conquered living, and the martyrs who conquered dying, and
particularly the last, for although I believe that they are rejoicing
now in the celestial abodes, yet the sound of deserved praise arises
more welcome than incense, even to the blessed ones in heaven. But
let us not pluck the laurel; for perhaps the poet will be born who
with better voice will be able to dispense the deserved reward to
these valorous men: it behoves us at least to hope so!--From the
opposite side, borne by a north-east wind which blew favorably to
it, the enemy's fleet advanced, occupying a larger space of water,
hastily and in disorder, as if to exterminate us, and fearing to
lose the opportunity of a certain victory. It was in the form of a
crescent, and consisted of three hundred or more ships. Ali Pasha,
Grand Admiral, and Pertau, general of the troops, commanded the
_battle_: Siroco, Governor of Alexandria, and Mehemet Bey, Governor
of Negropont, led the right wing; Uluch Ali, Dey of Algiers, the
left. The Turkish _Real_ was no less strongly defended than ours,
having at its sides six of the principal galleys, three on one side,
and three on the other, upon which on the right were Pertau, Mamud
Rais, captain of the janissaries, Lader Bey, governor of Metelin,
and on the left Mustapha, treasurer, Caracoza, governor of Velona,
and Carajali, captain of the Corsairs. Don John, as soon as he saw
his fleet in order, went in a light barge flying from galley to
galley, encouraging the men with very short but vigorous words to
fight bravely, for the time, the place, and his nature did not allow
of a long speech. It is said that when he came under the _Capitana_
of Venice, in seeing Sebastiano Veniero, an old man of three score
years and ten, all armed with a sparkling and splendid armor, with
his head uncovered showing his white locks, his face burning with
martial fire inciting his men to act valorously, admiring the bravery
of the man, he cried to him:--Father! Bless us all....--And Veniero,
raising his eyes to heaven, as if begging from on high the power
of blessing, stretched his arm, and making the sign of the Cross
exclaimed:--Be all blessed in the name of the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Ghost.--From all the galleys there then issued forth a shout
foreboding approaching slaughter."

  [57] Flagship.

"I remember," interrupted Titta, "that when he arrived under our
Lomellina, he kissed his hand to us, and cried:--Brave men, I say
nothing to you!--and disappeared."

"The Capuchin friars and the Jesuits with crucifixes in their hands,
fearless of the imminent danger, ran up and down the galleys,
cheering all spirits, granting to all the remission of their sins,
innumerable indulgences, and a certain hope of conquering, and
immense booty.

"When Don John returned on board his galley, he noticed at a little
distance a small vessel full of powerful rowers as if waiting: he
inquired about it of the captain, who replied:--he had it prepared
for any emergency that might happen, in order that he could
retreat;--and Don John replied fiercely:--Sink it to the bottom; for
I swear to God that I had rather die fighting for Christ, than escape
with shame.--And to the _Comendador_, who by duty of his office
warned him to think better before adventuring on a decisive battle,
he replied:--Now the time for counsel is past; it is the time for
combat.

"The Turkish _Real_ begins to fire: the sound of the artillery is
spread; the signal is given, our _Real_ replies; the battle is
engaged. It was the design of the enemy to push forward with the
wind in their favor in the shape of a crescent, surround our wings,
pass behind, and enclose us in a circle of death. They took little
notice of the six _galeazzas_, and those valorous Venetians did
not stir until the enemy was within half an arquebuse-shot; then,
suddenly, and at the same moment, they fired three hundred and sixty
cannons, and two thousand four hundred arquebuses! The terrible
noise astounded even those who had caused it; the sea shook as if by
a storm, and the galleys, hurled by a most violent shock, began to
roll in disorder; but our men very soon regained their spirits on
discovering the great damage done to the enemy, and loading their
arquebuses with wonderful readiness continued to fire desperately
upon them. And I desire you to know that on this occasion the
arquebuse with a lock was of great service to us, for being small,
and easy to manage, it enabled our men to fire three times before
the enemy could fire once with their heavy ones: and this was the
first moment of our victory. Skill conquered fury, and the Moslems,
unaccustomed to such encounter, had to keep their distance all torn
and bloody, change the order of battle, and form themselves into
three divisions like us.

"Although the valor of our men was very great, yet the Lord wished to
show with a more visible sign that he was fighting for us, for just
then happened a memorable changing of the wind; the north-east, which
had so far been favorable to the Turks, ceased, and there arose a
south-west propitious to the Christians, carrying the smoke against
them, and preventing them from seeing. Siroco, in the mean while,
not at all daunted, ordered his galleys to avoid the _galeazzas_,
and, grazing the shore where the river Acheloo falls into the sea,
to rush between the land and the galleys of Barbarigo, and strive
to assail him in the rear. Barbarigo, however, not a less skilful
captain, ordered his extreme galleys to approach the land, and
describe with the others a diagonal line, forming an acute angle of
which one side was formed by the land, the other by his galleys;
and taking Siroco in the flank, with the aid of the propitious wind
pushed him towards the island. The fight was carried on desperately
on both sides; but the Turkish galleys continually losing sea, struck
against the shore, the Christians followed and reached them, and as
many Mussulmans as fell into their hands they put to death; of the
galleys some fell into our hands, others were sunk by the artillery,
others burnt. We did not, however, gain the victory without blood,
for, to say nothing of many others, in the very heat of the melée
between Siroco and Barbarigo, almost at the same moment the former
fell dead, and the latter mortally wounded with an arrow in his eye,
in the act of removing the shield from before his face, in order to
spur the combatants to do their utmost. Barbarigo, feeling himself
mortally struck, whilst staggering back, appointed in his place Mario
Quirini, who, seconded by Antonio Canale and by Cicogna, followed the
course of victory, destroying the remains of this fleet commanded by
Mehemet Bey, Pasha of Negropont, and by Ali, the redoutable Corsair.
It was in this action that Cicogna, wounded in the hands and face by
a grenade, bearing manfully the most intense pain, would not retire
until he had taken the enemy's galley, which now is preserved as a
noble trophy in the Arsenal of Venice; and the valiant Antonio Casale
dressed with a long and white garment thickly lined with cotton, a
hat of the same material and shoes of ropes in order not to slip,
swinging a double-handed sword, filled with terror and slaughter the
enemy's galleys upon which he leaped with wonderful dexterity and
nimbleness. Giovanni Contarini had the glory of taking the galley
of Siroco, and finding on it this enemy of the Christian name dead,
had his head cut off and fixing it upon a spear cried out three
times:--Behold the head of Siroco!--in order to encourage his men,
and terrify the enemy.

"The dying Barbarigo was lying near the wheel, and from time to
time asked those around him:--Have we conquered yet? When Quirino,
tearing the flag from the enemy's mast, ran to where Barbarigo was,
crying:--Victory!--the dying man wiped the blood from his eyes
heavy with death's sleep, and saw the hated flag, and smiled; then
he begged them to hand it to him, and grasping it convulsively, he
rolled himself in it as in a winding sheet, and expired. We, daring
not to separate him from the trophy upon which his glorious soul
breathed its last, wrapped in the same flag buried him with great
honors in consecrated ground.

"But the greatest struggle took place around the _battle_. Ali Pasha
had come forward boldly, and as the Turks are accustomed to, with a
deafening noise of drums, trumpets, and similar warlike instruments;
and they even presumed to frighten us more with threats, cries, and
striking of weapons against each other. Don John, armed with mail,
holding a heavy battle-axe in his hand, placed himself with all his
person exposed in a lofty place on the poop, and ordered Lopez di
Figheroa, leader of the arquibusiers, that whatever the enemies might
say or do, no one should dare to open the fire until he had given a
signal by lifting his battle-axe. The Moslems advancing nearer and
nearer, fired their arquebuses and arrows, with no small loss on our
side; and we were also greatly damaged by two cannon in the enemy's
prow, which would have cleared our decks if they had been quicker
in loading and firing them. It seemed hard to us to be forced to
remain inactive during so great a slaughter, so much the more as
from time to time we saw some friend or relative fall at our side,
removed all bleeding, and carried below. We should have accused Don
John of cowardice, if we had not known what a man he was; and looking
at him, he seemed to us a statue of bronze amid bullets and arrows
which hissed around him, and of which he took no more notice than
of the wind which lifted his hair. When the Turkish _Real_ arrived
within less than half an arquebuse shot from us, Don John raised his
battle-axe, and whirled it impetuously around his head: our fire
seemed one single shot; the smoke moving towards the enemy prevented
us from seeing the damage which they had received; when it cleared
off, the enemy's deck looked almost deserted. But before the smoke
had entirely passed away Don John ordered the oarsmen to pull with
their whole might, and the galley, pushed also by the wind, flew like
a bird. Don John had also prepared another stratagem, which was this,
to have the beak of his galley suddenly cut, so that, approaching
nearer to the enemies, there would be a better opportunity of
boarding them: this example was immediately followed by us all, and
was another cause of victory.

"The smoke disappeared, and Ali's galley seemed almost deserted. Don
John, seizing the opportunity, cried:--Forward, cavaliers, let us go
to victory ... we cannot but conquer, for dying, there awaits us a
palm in heaven; living, a laurel on the earth.--And cutting short his
speech, being more eager to act, he ran impetuously forward, followed
by his valiant knights, and behold in an instant they boarded and
entered the Turkish _Real_. Ali, meanwhile, a wary captain, had
called aid from the surrounding ships, who, approaching quickly, by
means of ladders and ropes, ascended from abaft, whilst ours entered
from the prow: thence the battle was renewed more bitterly, and all
concentrated about the mainmast; the Turks were not able to expel the
Christians, nor the Christians to master entirely the half conquered
galley. The crowd was so great, and the ranks so close, that they
could not use any other weapon than the poniard, and the combatants,
crazy with fury, used their teeth as if they had been wild beasts;
and one could have seen that forest of heads bending to and fro,
like a field of ripe grain agitated by contrary winds. They asked
for no quarter, nor desired it: it was a war of extermination. But
whatever might have been the cause, behold the Christians began to
waver, drew back, and the adversaries where ours raised their feet,
placed theirs, and grew bold in proportion as ours lost courage:
already many of the retreating, pressed by the irresistible impetus,
fell headlong into the water, others more fortunate leaped upon the
_Real_ of Spain.... What more? Don John himself is carried along
in the shameful flight. Our commanders, though, not less wary than
the enemy, had already reinforced the _Real_ with fresh troops, who
coming to the rescue not only prevented the Turks from boarding our
galley, not only held them steadfast upon the extreme edge of the
prow, but pushed them back forcibly, and gave a chance to ours to
board again the Turkish _Real_. A new struggle was engaged upon the
galley's deck, and already for more than an hour blood had been shed,
nor could it be told where victory would lean; the deck was covered
with blood, all along the gangways, down in the sides the galley
drips blood, the sea raising its foam horribly red seemed to boil
with blood. Alas! what cruel wine war pours in her banquets!--Four
times were we repulsed, four times we boarded the Turkish _Real_:
torn on both sides, on both sides many illustrious dead, and the
surviving ones partly wounded, partly so exhausted, as not to be
able to raise their swords. In one of these struggles the valorous
knight Bernardino Cardine was killed without any wound: a cannon ball
struck his shield, which, being covered with excellent steel plate,
did not break, but hit so violently against his breast, that he fell
dead on the deck. And the last time Don John was repulsed, another
noteworthy accident happened; he was retreating without ever turning
his head from the enemy, when either his foot slipped upon the
gory deck, or by some other accident he fell, and was on the point
of falling headlong into the water, had it not been for a Spanish
soldier, who had never departed from his side, and who seizing him by
the waist with his right hand, held himself fast with his left in the
rigging. Suddenly the soldier uttered a cry; his left arm hung down
severed, he and Don John would have fallen overboard, had not the
Spaniard happened to seize a rope with his teeth, and hold fast to it
until, with ready aid, they were both saved.

"Don John unhurt prepared himself for the last struggle.--Valiant
men, he cried, yet one last effort, and we have conquered.--Whilst
he was about reorganizing his Spanish knights, who on that day
showed really a Roman valor, two events happened which gave us the
victory. The galley commanded by Alfonzo d'Appiano thundered with
its artillery on the Turkish _Real_, and being of low deck, sent its
shots into the hull of the enemy, destroying everything they met,
and this was one of the chief things to which we owed our victory. A
shot hit a large beam, and hurled it with so much violence against
Ali, that he, hurt in many places, struck violently against the
mainmast, and gushing blood from many wounds, fell down dying upon
the deck.--Now what was Marcantonio Colonna doing? Had his valor, the
memory of past deeds, the warmth with which he had undertaken this
enterprise, failed him all at once, and in this great moment of need?
How could he, a general of the Pontiff, see unmoved so much Christian
blood shed?--He was sailing over the waters as if he was taking a
pleasure trip to enjoy the evening breeze; he even disappeared from
the deck, and no one knew what had become of him.--This most singular
man had had the constancy to remain in the midst of the fire of
artillery, the breaking of beams, the falling of masts and ropes,
amidst the horrible and various aspects of death, without moving an
inch, awaiting the opportune time of exterminating the enemy: when he
perceived the chance before him, he rushed below deck, and addressing
the galley-slaves at the oars, thus spoke: Men! God had redeemed you,
and you have rendered yourselves unworthy of the redemption; the
water of baptism was poured on your heads in vain, for you have so
contaminated them with wicked deeds, that there is no more room for
a blessing. You despair of your eternal safety. Your mothers, your
wives, your children, whenever in this world they proffer your name,
bow down their faces for shame; the citizens look upon you as wild
beasts. Heaven repulses you, and the earth abhors you. No matter, I
will reconcile you both to God and men: I can so do that your names
shall be recalled with pride by your relatives; I can so do that
the hand of the most noble knight of Christendom shall be stretched
towards yours without esteeming it dishonored...."--And those poor
men cried with one voice:--"Alas! our Lord, have mercy upon us! Give
us at least the chance of dying in battle."--"Be it so," replied
Marcantonio, "I give you your liberty: do not move from your posts: I
return on deck: when you hear the sound of a trumpet, be ready, and
at the second blast, bend to your oars with the greatest strength
that nature has given you. When you shall perceive that we have
struck the enemy's galley, then come out, and fight as your souls
may inspire you.--He returned on deck, and seizing the helm directed
the prow against the vessel of Ali. The trumpet sounded the first
blast, then the second. The galley leaped like a wounded seal through
the water, which, struck violently by the oars, surged and gurgled,
foaming impetuously; then darting over a short space struck with
an irresistible impetus the designed place. The Turkish _Real_ was
almost upset: on one side the deck was plunged into the sea, on the
other it even showed its keel; the greater part of its defenders
was hurled with great force far into the water, and it would have
been even so with the Admiral, had he not grappled the mainmast with
both arms. When the galley righted, Colonna, taking advantage of the
enemy's confusion, jumped on board accompanied by his men, and made
himself master of it. This deed rekindled the ire of the commanders
of the galleys ordered to the defence of the _Real_, and seven of
them moved at once to the rescue, and threatened Don John. Veniero
alone moved to meet them all, sustaining their attacks with wonderful
valor. But that fierce old man, overcome by the number, saw every
moment his men diminish; an arrow had pierced his foot, and partly on
account of the intensity of the pain, partly by the loss of blood, he
felt that he could withstand it no longer: there was urgent need of
help, but he would not bend to ask it. Giovanni Loredano and Caterino
Malipiero saw the danger of the illustrious old man, and rushed to
his assistance; these two chivalrous youths could have remained
behind the bulwarks, which were to us a great shelter through that
battle, but their bold nature did not allow it; they stood both
exposed from their waist upwards, and fighting like true champions
of Christ, they fell both dead on the deck, hit by several shots. The
Marquis of Santa Croce, who had already moved to their aid, arrived,
if not in time to save their lives, at least opportunely to avenge
their deaths: the Turks were all cut to pieces, and the galleys fell
into our hands. The report tells that Veniero made himself master of
the _Capitana_ of Pertau Pasha, but it is not true, for it was the
Lomellina that conquered Pertau...."

"Ah! my Lord Duke," interrupted Titta, "it ill becomes you to
relate this part of the battle. It was indeed so; we conquered
the _Capitana_ of the Pasha, and in truth, if we used all our
utmost efforts to conquer, the enemies also used no less desperate
resistance to oppose us. I remember that the valiant Marino Contarino
died in this affray; and, with immortal example, the four brothers
Cornaro; alas! the flower of the most magnanimous knights was dying;
but, although beset on all sides by the enemy's galleys, we did not
abandon our prize, and rushed on, determined to conquer or to die. It
is true that every footstep we advanced cost us blood, but they were
footsteps to victory: already panting and fighting with our daggers,
we reached the middle of the galley. My Lord the Duke at the head of
all seemed an angel who led us to triumph...."

"And if you, Titta, had loved your master less, by this time there
would only be left of him the bare bones, and the name. I recall
with grief to my mind Orazio and Virginio Orsini, my relatives, who
fell mortally wounded at my feet; and my nephew Fabio, who, hit by a
shot on his shoulder, rolled on the deck, and died without lamenting
the flower of his lost youth, happy at being called so soon to the
peace of God; and I, whilst I bent down to help him, felt my left
leg transfixed by an arrow, and as I lifted my head, a hand grasping
a poniard was about striking me unprepared for defence; the poniard
escaped from the hand, and fell harmless upon my body, the hand also
fell upon my head, but severed from the arm, and with it a torrent of
blood poured on my face...."

"So it was; it came in my way without my thinking of it, and I cut it
off like a reed...."

"And I profess myself indebted to you for my life, and as long as
Paolo Giordano Orsini shall have a heart and a home, Titta Carbonana
will occupy a place in them....--Let us drink!--To the memory of the
dead in the battle of Lepanto!"

"May God keep them all in His glory!"--was answered from all sides.

"Come now," continued the Duke, "let us finish the story. Our
Lomellina, aided by Vincenzo Querini, took five out of the seven
galleys that fought against it. Pertau, throwing himself into a
skiff, using his oars vigorously, went off; and we saw the back of
this cruel man turned in bitter flight. Many boast of having killed
Caracozza; but the truth is that Giovanbattista Benedetti, of Cyprus,
a man of great valor, having overcome the Corcut galley, noticed
Caracozza near by, and rushed desperately upon him. With no less
fury Caracozza fell upon Benedetti, whether driven to it by a desire
for glory, or, as it was supposed, by an old enmity: they met:--a
discharge of arquebuses fired from both sides enveloped them in
smoke, and when it cleared off, they were both dead, shot with many
bullets in the breast. The command of Benedetti devolved on Onorato
Gaetano, nephew of the Pope, who, as we have heard from persons
worthy of belief, seconded by Alessandro Negroni and by Pattaro
Buzzacherino, with no great difficulty, brought this honorable fight
to a happy end. The Christian slaves upon the Turkish galleys,
noticing by the confusion that fortune was abandoning their hated
masters, break their chains, and seizing those arms which despair or
chance places in their hands, take a bitter revenge for their long
sufferings, and insure the victory. Whilst these events were taking
place in the _battle_, and on the left wing of the Christian armada,
the right wing was meeting with an adverse fate. Giovanni Andrea
Doria, who was to detach himself only four lengths of a galley from
the _battle_, transgressed his orders, and extended his line too far.
They say that he did this with a good intention, both in order to
give more freedom of action to the _battle_, and to the left wing to
place themselves in good order, and also for fear of being surrounded
by Uluch Ali, who came against him with a greater number of galleys
than his own; or perhaps in order to take the wind aft, so as to fall
with greater force upon the enemy. But Uluch Ali, a most expert sea
captain, when he saw that the galleys of the right wing, so scattered
and distant, could not easily help each other, without minding that
he was on the lee, beset on all sides the scattered ships with a
superior force, and after killing the principal captains, took twelve
of them. On this occasion the great valor of Benedetto Soranzo was
manifest; a man rather to be compared to the ancient than to modern
heroes; for seeing the greater part of his companions around him
dead or wounded, and he himself being wounded in several places, he
had not the heart to allow his galley to be trodden by the foot of
a Moslem, nor that one day the enemy, refitting it, should use it
against his most beloved country; therefore, rushing below where the
ammunition of powder was stored, he set fire to it, and hurled, with
terrible explosion, himself, the galley, and all the enemies that
stood on it, torn and mutilated into the air. One alone by a lucky
chance escaped, and it was Giacomo Giustiniani, who, thrown uninjured
far distant into the water, succeeded miraculously in saving himself
by swimming. Nor ought I to be silent about the fierce encounter of
the _Capitana_ of Malta, which, assailed by three Turkish galleys,
fought intrepidly; but Uluch Ali, recognising the flag of St. John,
and as he professed himself a mortal enemy to the Order of Malta, did
not shame to send against it three other galleys in order to have
it at all cost. Pietro Giustignano, general of the Order, seeing
that there was no chance left for himself and his knights, exhorted
them to die chivalrously, since there was no hope of conquering, and
as to surrendering, not one even thought of it. This combat of six
galleys against one, glorious for the Christians, infamous for the
Turks, lasted three hours; two thirds of the rowers lay dead, the
other third were bleeding; the general killed with three ghastly
wounds; fifty most noble knights dead; the galley occupied even to
the main castle; the banner fallen into the enemy's hands; and yet
the survivors strove to defend themselves. Agnolo Martellini, a
Florentine knight, who was less wounded than the others, sustained
the honorable and hopeless defence. Uluch Ali, mad with rage, ordered
the galley to be set on fire, but Doria, spurring his oarsmen to
their utmost, reached it in time for revenge, and accomplished it;
for falling upon the enemy, wearied by the bitter struggle, he made
a horrible slaughter, killing Carag Ali, Captain of Algiers, with
many other Turkish officers.--And glorious with fame and misfortune
were the Tuscan galleys, which unfortunately were under the orders
of Doria. The Florentina, assailed by seven small galleys, was empty
both of soldiers and crew; Tommaso dei Medici, badly wounded, alone
survived; but the greater part of the knights of St. Stephen died
fighting till their last breath. The galley of St. John, commanded by
the knight Agnolo Biffali, suffered a struggle no less fatal; for the
captain was wounded by two arquebuse shots on the neck; and besides
the knights Simone Tornabuoni and Luigi Ciacchi, there perished
sixty most valiant soldiers; and worse would the galley upon which
Ascianio della Cornia was fighting have fared, surrounded by four of
the enemy, if Alfonzo di Appiano, admiral of the Florentine galleys,
had come less quickly to his aid. But now there rang from every side
the cry of victory, and Uluch Ali, seeing all the enemy's armada
move against him to surround and overcome him, resolved to draw off.
Don Giovanni di Cardona endeavored to oppose his retreat with eight
Sicilian galleys, but thrust aside by superior force, with no little
damage, he was obliged to yield the way. The Admirals Canale and
Querini endeavored to give chase to him, but, their oarsmen being too
much exhausted by the fatigues endured, with infinite bitterness,
they had to allow him to save himself with his forty ships, our
galley of Corfu, and the banner of St. John. In this flight two
incidents worthy of note happened. Giovanbattista Mastrillo of Nota
and Giulio Caraffa, a Neapolitan, whilst they were, with several
companions, prisoners on two separate brigs, showing at the same
moment the same boldness, as if they had agreed upon it before,
rose against the Turks, killed the Rays and all those who attempted
to resist, and having become, from slaves and conquered, free and
conquerors, they returned to us with the enemy's brigs full of slaves
and very rich booty.

"The sun was setting, surrounded by black clouds, throwing across the
waves an oblique ray, so that it happened that the part enlightened
shone with a vivid glare, while the rest of the sea was covered with
darkness: to the roar of the sea were added cries, imprecations,
prayers, sobs, which afar seemed like a single wail, the weeping of
Nature over the slaughter of her children, certainly not created
by her to thus tear each other to pieces! Within that streak of
light, deeds were seen to make even angels weep; and some, but few,
really worthy of the celestial origin of man. We could see some
people regardless of danger, ascend the burning galleys, rush amidst
the flames, without fear that, the powder taking fire, plunder and
plunderers might be shattered to atoms; others not yet satisfied with
fighting, urged by implacable hatred, grasping each other by the hair
or beard, and, in the lack of weapons, striking with their fists,
tearing each other with their teeth, and now one head, now another,
disappearing under the water, until the latter, as if disdainful that
so much anger should yet last in creatures so weak and perishable,
whirled them into its immense bosom, to rise no more. A little
further on, two, three, or four men would contend for a mast, board,
or beam, in order to cling to it, and remain until some aid could
arrive; but while with more charity and better wisdom, that plank of
safety might have been enough for all, wasting their last strength
to possess it, each one exclusively, a common fate overpowered them
all; others, stupid with fear, hating to drown, would get hold of a
burning fragment, and escaping the water, perish by the flames; and
an infinite number of skiffs rowed on this side and on that, full of
people drunk with victory, who used the heads of Turks swimming on
the water for targets, as the hunter does the ducks in a pond; and to
those who approached begging for their lives, they would allow that
they should catch hold of the edge of the skiffs, or extend an oar as
if to help them, then with the axe would cut their hands or cleave
their heads with shocking and cruel wounds. A few of these skiffs
went in search of some beloved relative or companion, whether alive
or dead: sacred but vain undertaking! not entirely vain, however;
for some succeeded in finding what they sought, and saved a dear
friend from a watery grave: if yet alive, they would strive with all
manner of remedies to bandage his wounds, and preserve his life; but
if dead, they would clothe him, arm him with his best armor, place
a sword in his hand, and honor him with praise and worship as if a
martyr.

"This battle, in which more than five hundred ships were engaged,
lasted from midday till after four o'clock: of the enemy there died,
some say twenty thousand, some thirty thousand, and some, even more;
no one counted them.[58] On our side, seven thousand six hundred and
fifty-six failed to answer the roll; we liberated twelve thousand
Christian slaves; took two hundred ships; lost only the galley of
Corfu: of all the other ships of the enemy, except the forty escaped
with Uluch Ali, some were sunk, some burned; we took one hundred
and seventeen cannons, two hundred and fifty-eight smaller pieces
of artillery, and seventeen mortars; the prisoners falling into our
hands were four thousand, among whom were the two sons of Ali Pasha,
the oldest of whom died at Naples of a broken heart; and the other
was kindly treated by the Pope, and then, at the instance of Don
John, restored without ransom. The booty was immense. In the galley
of Ali were found twenty-two thousand crowns of gold, in the other of
Caracozza, forty thousand; and in all the others a great quantity of
money, weapons, cloth, and rich garments; since the Turks, thinking
by merely showing themselves to put the Christians to flight, and
that they were going on an excursion rather than to a fight, came
provided with their best habiliments and draperies, and surrounded
by all those luxuries which they were accustomed to enjoy in the
security of cities; besides they brought with them the noble spoils
of Cyprus and the Christian shores, which in their long voyage they
had plundered.

  [58] _But no one counted them._ This was the expression used by
  that judicious Ludovico Muratori narrating in his _Annals_ the
  Battle of Lepanto.

"But General Veniero, who, having passed the greater part of his life
at sea, was a cautious mariner, advised Don John to put into some
neighboring port without loss of time, and selected Petala on the
coast of Matalia, since the weather threatened a storm. The armada
followed the command, and forcing their sails and oars, rode safely
at anchor about nine o'clock in the evening at Petala, only six miles
from the scene of battle.

"Don John, urged by his generous nature, ordered first of all that
the wounded should be provided for, and we obeyed as well as we
could; and he himself, without indulging in rest or food, visited the
sick. Indeed he could be of little aid to these unfortunate people,
but his friendly presence, the chivalry of his aspect, a word of
comfort spoken to some one of them, rendered the pains of the wounds
less bitter, and death more tolerable. Now it happened, that while
Don John was passing near a wounded man lying on a heap of straw, the
latter saluted him familiarly, saying:

"'_Buenas noches_, Don Juan.'

"And the former, to whom the voice was not new, but who, in that
moment, could not remember whose it was, replied in his native
tongue, in which the wounded man had spoken:

"'God and the Holy Virgin keep you in their guard, brave man: you,
as it seems, are wounded; suffer patiently; I pray God for your
health.... With a little price you have acquired an immortal fame.'
...

"'The price is not little;--but no matter, Don John, you do not seem
to recognise me.'

"'It seems to me!... But can it be possible!... Don Miguel?' ...

"'De Cervantes Saavedra, at your service.'

"'What! Don Miguel? Give me your hand.'

"'I have already given it to you, Don John; if it could grow again,
by my faith, I would give it to you again.'

"And the wounded man showed in the dark his mutilated arm wrapped in
bloody linen. Don John then recognised in him the soldier who had
supported him when falling and in danger of his life; he was silent,
and had it not been for the darkness, we should have seen the
unconquerable captain weep. After a short pause, Don John resumed in
a moved voice:

"'And when did you arrive? And why did you not present yourself?'

"Don Miguel replied:

"'I arrived late, because, thanks to the sacred college of the
Muses,[59] of whom I confess myself a most unworthy priest, I had
not money enough to pay for a horse or carriage to go from Genoa
to Naples; and God knows how I grieved about it, for fear of not
arriving in time; but as it pleased Our Lady, I reached the army in
time for the review which you held at Gomenizze. I had resolved to
place myself during the battle at your side, prepared to defend with
my life the most valiant champion of Christianity, and the noblest
blood of Spain. Fortune, kind to me for this once, assented fully to
my design, and I ought to thank her, if, having resigned my life to
her, she restored it to me with one hand the less. It seemed then
better to me not to discover myself, for if death spared me, I could
have pressed your honored hand, and rejoiced in your glory; if, on
the contrary, it was destined that I should fall, you, being ignorant
of it, would not have grieved for me; and, finally, if we had both
died, we should now be together in the presence of God.'

  [59]

    God of the lyre, and goddesses of song
      In vain for gold your faithful votaries sigh,
    Small need and recompense to them belong;--
      E'en a poor cloak I have not means to buy.

    Apollo, tuo mercè, tuo mercè santo
    Collegio delle Muse, io non mi trovo
    Tanto per voi, ch'io possa farmi un manto.

    ARIOSTO--SATIRE.

"These simple words, yet full of majesty and greatness, filled
us with wonder; when a Spaniard interrupted our holy silence,
observing:--'Who would have believed we should meet our Poet
among the warriors of Lepanto?'--To which observation Don Miguel
calmly replied:

"'Sir knight, your wonder would cease, if you would for a moment
consider that all that which appears to us great, noble, and
glorious, is poetry. Our Don John ought to be hailed as the
greatest Poet of Spain.... There are two kinds of Poets--those
who enact glorious things, and those who sing them. Don John has
given us the subject of the poem--now who will write for him the
noble Epic? Ah! Lord ... not I ... for I am not equal to the
task.'

"Thus met the two choicest spirits that Spain ever produced: both
very great and both very unhappy, and held in little repute in
that country, which shall have fame among posterity principally
because it was their native place.

"As Veniero had foreseen, a terrible storm raged during the
night. The burning galleys, blazing more than ever, now appeared
upon the summit of the waves, now disappeared; some, leaning
sideways, moved rapidly on the surface of the water.... Indeed
they looked like demons, who issuing from hell had come to gather
souls, and to exult over the immense slaughter in the place of
combat!--On the morrow, thousands of corpses were washed on
shore, and the ocean rolled on as in the first days of creation:
the swelling surge breaking against the shore, seemed to say:--'O
land, take back your children; behold! with a breath of my
nostrils I have repulsed this bloody and cruel dust, which you
call humanity. If your children love to furrow my face, I soon
close up this furrow, so that none can find the trace of it. If I
bear them on my back, I do it as a boy with playthings, in order
to divert myself, and then I break them: behold, I have purified
myself from them; the trace of the slaughter of Lepanto remains
upon me as the trace of the halcyon's flight through the air.
You, my unworthy sister, allow their cities to stand, and, daily
torn and tortured in a thousand ways, dare not revenge yourself
but from your open furrows send forth everlasting fruits to
nourish them; come! be wise once, open your bosom and bury them
all. If when greatly angered, you overthrow some city, or swallow
some chain of mountains, your wrath seems more like that of a
mother who chides, than an executioner who punishes. I, once,
came to wash you with a universal ablution, and would gladly do
it again, for I see that you are more stained than before, if the
word of God did not repulse me from your shores. Come, beg the
Creator with me to revoke the command, and I will clean you for
ever with the multitude of my waters,--with a deluge--for this
time;--without Noah.' ... Thus my affected fancy imagined.--How
much all Christendom exulted, you all know.

"The Holy Pontiff ordered a great part of the wall near the
gate of Capena to be thrown down, in order to admit through
that opening Marcantonio Colonna into Rome drawn in a triumphal
chariot like the ancient Cæsars to the Capitol, where there was
presented to him a great amount of money, which, accepted by him,
he, thanking the Pope, deposited in trust to be used as a dowry
for many poor and orphan maidens. Thus, rich only with increase
of fame, Marcantonio returned home, so much more the greatest,
as he was the only one: a truly Roman soul! The Venetians, whose
soldiers fallen in battle amounted to two thirds of the whole
armada, would not consent to mourn for the valorous men, who,
fighting for the faith, had died for it with weapons in their
hands, leaving immortal fame; and their relatives appeared at
the public thanksgivings which were rendered to God, dressed
in brocade and other precious robes: they also, a Latin race!
What you may not have heard, is this; that Philip of Spain
was very sorry for the victory, reproaching his brother for
having risked the forces of the kingdom, without any advantage
resulting to him from the victory; and while the Holy Pontiff,
in the effusion of his heart, hailed Don John with the words
of the Evangelist:--_Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat
Joannes_;--there were some in the king's council, who dared even
to propose whether it were advisable to have his head cut off.
Even Philip himself was ashamed of the impudent cowardice of
his counsellers; a greater cowardice than he himself would have
wished. Don John escaped with his life, but humiliated by the
undeserved rebuke, grief and indignation now oppress him;--and
this was Spanish envy!--What benefit did the Christians derive
from so many dead, so much valor, and such a wonderful victory?
Nothing, but fame. O glory, inebriation of great souls, how you
fall from estimation and desire, when you are made the tool of
kings, cool calculators of noble passions! Every one thinks of
himself, and for to-day; for the morrow he neither knows nor
cares. Venice on the sea, Poland on the land, remain abandoned
like two lost bulwarks against the forces of the enemies of
Faith. One day (may God avert the omen) these bulwarks conquered,
the Christians will awake at the cries of the plundered fields,
at the flames of the burning cities;--if God does not help us, in
twenty years we shall be all Moslems."

Here the Duke ended his long narrative, and from around the room
there rose a murmur of applause and at the same time of dread;
and after the company had tarried for some time in pleasant
conversation, the hour being already late, they rose from the
table. The Duke dismissed them with agreeable and courteous
manner, begging them to be ready on the morrow for the hunt,
before the Sun should be too warm. He himself, offering his arm
to his wife, accompanied her to the foot of the stairs, where,
kissing her hand, with many wishes for a very good night, he
withdrew.

Every one retired to his own apartment, and in expectation of a
merry time for the morrow, went to rest.

     *       *       *       *       *

In less than half an hour all seemed to be wrapt in sleep. It
_seemed_ only!--The Duke of Bracciano watched. Coming into his
chamber he threw himself upon a seat, leaning his head on one
hand, the other hanging down. He was pale and changed, yet did
not utter a word: two beautiful white hounds with scarlet collars
marked with gold about their necks, accustomed to receive his
caresses, lay at his feet gazing at him, and as if to draw the
attention of their master softly licked his hands. It would seem
as if a fierce contest betwixt would and would not was raging in
the Duke's soul, and that having examined everything, discussed
the benefit or injury resulting from it, weighing all reasons for
good or bad, or all those that seemed so to him, and the insult,
the revenge, and the forgiveness, one might clearly discern to
what conclusion he had at last arrived, when these words escaped
from his lips: "It is a thing that _must_ be done!" Then added
quickly:

"Titta!"

"My Lord."

Duke Bracciano hissed from his mouth:

"Have you prepared everything?"

"I have."

A wearisome silence succeeded: the Duke first broke it saying:

"Titta!"

"My Lord."

"Ah! it would have been better to have died in the battle of
Lepanto."

"It would."

"Tell me, is not my wife a handsome woman? Is she not graceful,
elegant, endowed with all the gracious manners of noble birth?"

"Yes, my Lord, yes."

"And would it not seem sacrilege to extinguish in a moment with
one treacherous blow so much beauty and genius?"

"It would have been better, my Lord, to have died in the battle
of Lepanto!"

The Duke arose, wiping the perspiration dripping from his
brow;--he walked the room restlessly: then suddenly stopping,
and fixing his eyes on Titta, said:

"Do you not know better than to express wishes for things
impossible to happen? Have you no better advice than this for
me?--Nothing, nothing. Are you a man, or only the echo of a cave?"

"Did you not say, _it must be done_? How can you expect servants
to advise, when they know that the master would hold their
advices as a resistance to his own desires?"

"Titta, you are right;--with me you always have the grave offence
of being in the right.... Is all that I ordered ready?..."

"Everything ... you may see for yourself ... by looking up...."

"It is all right ... no matter ... I trust you...." And instead
of raising his eyes he fixed them on the floor. "Now take these
two hounds, and go as silently as you can to the room of the
Duchess; knock softly ... and say to her ..." and he whispered
in his ear. Titta nodded assent. The Duke then said in his usual
voice:

"Using courteous words; in a pleasant manner. Do you
understand?... Go now...."

But as Titta made some delay, he repeated:

"Go!..."

Titta took the hounds, but before he crossed the threshold of the
door he stopped, and turning towards the Duke, said slowly:

"Must I go, my Lord?"

"Go ... go.... _It must be done!_"

And Titta went.--He ascended the staircase softly, and approached
the room of the Duchess, and scarcely had he knocked, before a
voice from within called:

"Who is there?"

"I come by the Duke's order, my Lady, to beg you to accept these
two hounds that he sends you as a present, hoping you for his
sake will hold them dear; and desires also that to-morrow you
will observe in the chase if they are active and fleet;--he also
prays you to come to him for a short time, wishing to see you,
after so many years of absence, without witnesses."

Titta, on entering, saw the Duchess with the Lady Lucrezia
Frescobaldi kneeling before an image of the Blessed Virgin,
reading prayers from a Missal; and he said to himself: "Better
thus, she is provided with sacrament for the great journey."

Isabella stood up, and said to Lucrezia:

"_Should I, or should I not, go to sleep with my husband? What
say you?_"

Lady Frescobaldi, shrugging her shoulders, replied:

"_Do whatever you wish; he is your husband still._"[60]

  [60] Those were the very words spoken by Isabella to Lucrezia, as
  the records of the time report them precisely.

"I will go then."

The poor Duchess descended slowly, but without trembling.

Lady Lucrezia, moved by curiosity, or compassion, or rather by
both, stirred from her usual impassibility, decided to follow her
unobserved in the distance. Scarcely did she see her enter her
husband's room, ere she hastened her steps, and placed her ear at the
door.

She heard merry greetings and cheerful salutations.

"God be thanked, it begins well,"--she murmured.

Then listened again, and heard a sound of laughter, and kisses given
and returned.

"Better and better ..."

And holding her breath, she still listened eagerly.--But we will say
no more, only repeat with the Poet:

    The modest Muse forbears to speak
    Of close embrace and flashing cheek,
      And kisses warm, and words of love;
    The strings though struck, no sounds return,
    Responsive to the stars that burn,
      The stars that in conjunctions move;
    But to themselves they murmur low
    The secret words that none may know,
      Which..............[61]

Lady Lucrezia returned on tip-toe to her own room, saying to
herself: "I think that there will be no storm in the house after
all, or if there should be one, we will see it terminate with
some lightning perhaps, but without thunderbolt."

  [61]

    Gli abbracciamenti, i baci, e i colpi lieti,
    Tace la casta Musa vergognosa,
    E dalla congiunzion di quei pianeti
    Ritorce il plettro, e di cantar non osa.
    Sol mormora tra se detti secreti,
    Che..............

    TASSONI.

     *       *       *       *       *

Half an hour, or a little more, had passed, from the time in
which Lady Lucrezia left the door of the Duke, when it opened,
and Titta came out, crossing the hall which led to the door
of Troilo's apartment, and arriving there, knocked with his
knuckles upon it, without much caution.

Troilo, although there seemed to be no cause for fear, yet either
on account of the unusual excitement, the warmth of the day, or
from too much drinking, his blood had become so heated, that,
tossing about the bed, he could not sleep. Therefore hearing the
knock he jumped out of bed, and opened the door.

"What is it, Titta?"

"Sir Troilo, my Lord the Duke ordered me to say to you, that he
has not been able to sleep...."

"Just my case!..."

"So much the better;--therefore he begs to know whether you would
not like to keep him company a little while, and have a little
chat ... to cheer each other...."

"Exactly what I should like! Wait till I dress, and I will go
with you."

And putting on what garments first came to his hands, he was soon
ready. Titta preceded him with a lighted taper, but when they
arrived at the Duke's door, drawing aside, and bending low, he
said respectfully:

"Walk in, your Excellency!"

Troilo having entered, Titta shut the door, and locked it,
putting the key in his pocket; and when the former had entered
the next room, he carefully closed that door also, remaining
outside.

Troilo on entering the room saw the Duke sitting beside a table
near the bed, and, whether it was fancy, or the effect of the
fight, he thought he seemed as if grown ten years older since an
hour ago. The Duke, without lifting his eyes, said:

"Troilo, sit down."

This voice does not contain a threat, it has nothing of rancor in
it, it is peaceful and low,--and yet it does not seem to issue
from the lips;--uttered thus from the inmost depth of the heart
as from the bottom of a sepulchre, it had the power of infusing a
chill through the frame of Troilo.

And Troilo sat down.

"Troilo, I have words to say which it behooves me to speak, and
you to listen to them in the shadows of darkness; ... in the
mysterious silence of night.... Troilo, after three long years of
absence I return home.... But is this to which I have returned my
home? Can I sleep safely in it? Can I sit without suspicion at my
own table?..."

Troilo, thus taken by surprise, was silent.

"Troilo! When I departed from home, knowing that the woman who
was my wife ... who is my wife, was changeable in her fancy, of
manners more free and loose than becomes a haughty lady, the
fault perhaps of her education ... ready to pass all limits
... somewhat petulant and obstinate ... I hated to confide the
treasure of my honor to, I will not say unfaithful, but certainly
dangerous hands.--In whom could I better trust than my own blood?
I therefore chose you, I intrusted to you my honor, which is also
yours, and begged you with tears in my eyes to keep a good and
vigilant watch over it.... Do you remember it, Troilo? Is it not
true? Would you deny it?... And even if you would, could you?"

"It is true."

"And do you remember the promises which you made then? Have you
always remembered them? Now tell me: how have you kept your
loyal watch over my wife?"

The Duke kept his arm with closed hand stretched upon the table;
the muscles of his forehead were horribly swollen, his eyebrows
frowning, and his eyes sparkled under them through the ruffled
hair like fire burning in the midst of a thorn bush. Troilo still
kept silent; and the Duke said again:

"How have you kept your loyal watch over my wife?"

As there was no reply, he continued:

"If I listen to the reports which reached me even in Rome, indeed
my reputation is lost without remedy; my house is full of shame:
henceforth I cannot hear the name of my wife spoken without
suspecting that it is done through insult or mockery. Virginio
will not be able to hear his mother's name without bowing his
face for shame. We heard shameful things, cousin, and such at
which nature itself would be horrified ... such that no man could
possibly bear, and which I neither can, nor know, nor wish, by
any means to suffer."

"My Lord!" ... replied Troilo with faltering voice; "could a
knight like you, gifted with the best discernment, as all know
... experienced in the world ... give credit to such false
accusations ... to the words of idle and malicious men? The
people generally repute us happy, and those whom envy gnaws love
to hurl poisoned arrows at us. Let us make them weep, they say;
thus they will be our equals in tears at last."

"You speak truly; but the shameful report was confirmed by such a
person that now I can no longer doubt it."

"And do you believe it worthy of faith?"

"I leave you to judge. Isabella herself confessed it to me."

"What! Isabella?"

"Isabella."

"Your wife?"

"She herself ... my wife. Now tell me, Troilo, ... is not your
name Orsini? Is not the blood which runs in your veins of the
same race as mine?--Answer!"

"Why reply to what you know yourself?"

"Because it behooves me at this solemn moment to hear it from
your own lips, and be assured that you remember it, that you
feel convinced of it.... Here I find myself surrounded by
traitors,--for with the exception of my own relatives ... I dare
not hope to escape being betrayed. You are then of my blood?...
Now give me advice ... Isabella!... must I forgive, or kill her?"
...

"And shall I advise you?"

"Yes."

"But neither I nor any one else can believe me capable of that.
You have more wisdom than I."

"I do not think so; and even were it so, do you not know that
in such occasions man loses his wisdom? Come, I command you to
advise me."

"And then ... consider, Giordano, how merciful is the Lord ...
and how mild and clement appear those famous men who resemble
Him.... Let the weakness of nature, the age of the woman, the
bad examples among which she was educated, obtain mercy in your
eyes; ... recall to your mind what you said to me a little while
ago of her changeable mind, her poetic imagination, the time,
the place, the occasion;--and even ... fate, Giordano, since
we are all governed by an unconquerable fate--and use mercy
... Isabella can no longer present herself before you in her
innocence, you can never love her again ... and perhaps not even
esteem her ... and yet there remains a consolation to the injured
one, bitter, it is true, but yet desirable, that is, to feel
himself undeserving of the insult, and to see the offender truly
repentant."

"You see that you do not want wisdom! You certainly do not lack
eloquence!... And I thought so! In truth I would follow your
advice, but one idea keeps me from it, which is this: in such
an affair is my honor only at stake? Ought we not to consider
the honor of the family as an entail, which I am not allowed to
alienate, and not even diminish, but which I must restore to my
children as pure and intact as I received it from my ancestors?
Doing otherwise, does it not seem to you that some day I may
hear my ancestors say to me:--what have you done with our
patrimony?--and my children:--This is not our inheritance?"

"For my own part I believe that it is noble to seek and
accomplish a difficult revenge; but it seems to me also a proof
of a generous soul to relinquish the revenge that can be executed
by merely wishing it. To conquer others is a praiseworthy thing,
but to conquer one's own passions is manly and divine."

"And for this reason too would I be almost willing to pardon her;
... only that another motive distresses me, and closes my heart
to mercy; and it is the refusal of my wife to reveal the name of
her seducer."

"And do you not know it?"

"No.... Do you?"

"I? No."

"So I thought, for you had other things in your mind than
watching my wife; and you have committed a great wrong against
me and my house, Troilo, a wrong which I know not how to forgive
you. But perhaps the fault was not entirely on your side, it was
rather in a great measure my own, for I, knowing you to be young,
desirous of glory, and of a noble heart, should have allowed you
to attend to other things, rather than be the eunuch of a palace."

"And does she then refuse to reveal the name?"

"Neither by prayer, nor threat, nor hope of pardon was I able to
induce her to reveal it."

"Indeed this is a grave fault.... And you tried all means to make
her speak?"

"All."

"There, you see then how difficult it is to give advice when one
is ignorant of all the particulars:--if I had known her obstinacy
in this particular before, I would have advised you differently."

"Indeed!"

"Rather the contrary."

"You agree with me then! I am inevitably forced to use severity:
would that I knew at least the man who did not scruple to
contaminate my house while I was shedding my blood for the Faith
... the man whom neither the respect due to my house ... nay,
more than that, the fear of my sword did not deter from this
abominable crime!--Ah! I would think myself less unhappy if I
could plunge my hands in his blood, and tear forth his heart....
And, believe me, Troilo, I would do it, as true as there is a
God ... but the coward hides himself.... Oh, who art thou, who
wounded me so mortally, and did not take my life? What is thy
name?--Show thyself!--Alas! how painful is the offence done by
an obscure, abject, and unknown person, against whom we cannot
revenge ourselves, or revenging we may be more stained by the
revenge itself than by the insult."

"Indeed such offences deserve an atonement of blood."

"But since I cannot shed that of the hated seducer ... what think
you?"

"It seems to me...."

"No ... no faltering," said the Duke rising to his feet; "here it
is necessary that you should reveal to me your whole mind."

"Then...."

"Then?... Why do you hesitate? Here no one can overhear us ... no
one."

"Then ... the jealous honor of the family requires that ... that
Isabella should disappear from the world."

"It is well," replied the Duke; and stretching his hand to the
curtains of the bed, he drew them aside, adding:--"Behold ... I
have done it."

"Vengeance of God!" cried Troilo, rising and staggering back two
or three steps with his hands in his hair.

She who had been Isabella Orsini reclined on the bed in a sitting
posture: her hair loose and dishevelled, her arms stretched out,
her face black, her eyes open, intent, and almost bursting from
their sockets ... a fine rope yet girded her delicate neck, the
ends of which were lost in the darkness of the room, and fastened
in the ceiling.

Miserable spectacle of crime and perfidy!

"Thus perished Isabella dei Medici, who would have made herself
and others happy, if heaven had granted to her either less
beauty, or greater virtue, or better parents."[62]

  [62] BOTTA, _History of Italy_, book XIV.

The Duke, also as pale as death, repressing with violent effort the
passion which agitated his soul, stood immovable in his place where
with one hand holding the curtains back, and stretching the other
towards his cousin, he thus spoke:

"Now my bed has become deserted ... for every woman will fear that
it will be turned into a scaffold;--my house is deserted, for the
father cannot live with the son whose mother he has strangled....
Days of sorrow and infamy,--sleepless nights, filled with remorse and
fear,--bitter death ... terrible judgement of God,--behold the peace
which thou hast given me, Troilo!--Thou, and no one else!--I know
thee ... fully ... iniquitous and abject man ... and I feel and know
that death must have been less bitter to this woman, who was my wife,
than the knowledge of having lost the dignity of a Princess, of a
wife and of a mother ... for so miserable and degraded a creature as
thou art.--Wretch! The secret died not with thy accomplice ... no ...
nor with her murder did I lose the trace of the traitor.--Now it is
for thee to die. I could and should abstain from taking thy miserable
soul from thy body with this honorable hand of a knight; a villain is
enough for a villain;--but as thou wilt suffer a deserved death, I do
not wish that thou shouldst complain of the manner of it, if we ever
meet again in the next world."

Thus saying, he took two drawn swords, that lay at the feet of the
corpse, and throwing one of them on the ground towards Troilo, added:

"Take it up, and defend thyself; and since thou hast lived as a
traitor, die at least as a gentleman."

Like a bow bent by a strong hand, that snapping the cord straightens
violently, thus Troilo starting up, as if possessed by a demon, gave
a leap towards the open window behind him, leaned with both hands
upon the seat, and with one leap jumped out of it. As fortune willed,
although he fell on his head, he received no injury, on account of
the window not being high from the ground. Starting again upon his
feet, he rushed precipitately down the staircase.

The Duke, seeing this act, with no less fury rushed after him through
the window, sword in hand.

Not a word--not a threat--there was only heard the sound of hurried
steps upon the stairs.

Troilo, losing breath, and out of practice in violent exercises,
would have easily been overtaken by the Duke, had not the latter,
stumbling against a projecting step, fallen headlong down the marble
stairs, and bruised himself badly. The sword escaped from his hand,
and falling down from step to step, broke the silence of the night
with a dreadful clatter, and glided far away into the public road.

Not only was the Duke unable to pursue Troilo further, but he could
hardly raise himself again; yet leaning his body upon his elbows
fixed in the ground, he turned his head to where Troilo was fast
disappearing, and sent after him through the darkness of the night
this dreadful menace:

"Since thou hast not desired to die like a knight, many months will
not pass before thou shalt die like a dog!"

Titta rushed to the aid of his master: lifted him up, and with
loving care washed and bandaged his bruises; then placed him, raving
feverishly, upon a bed in the antechamber.

He went afterwards to Lady Lucrezia, who, overcome by the dreadful
event, much more so to her as not expected, remained insensible for
more than an hour; and as long as she lived never recovered from
the shock, nor was she ever seen to smile or rejoice again. Having
returned to her senses, Titta placed himself before her, and with his
right forefinger pointing in the middle of his eyebrows, proffered
very slowly the following words:

"Lady!... Listen attentively!... Our Lady the Duchess died suddenly
... of apoplexy ... whilst she was washing her head with cold water,
... by which accident ... she fell into your arms ... and died before
we had time to call for any help.... Be careful, Lady, of mistaking,
as you love your life!... The notices to be given, of her death, to
the several Courts--already prepared since yesterday--say exactly
this. Be then on your guard...."[63]

  [63] The notices given to the Courts of Europe contained these
  words; "that this unhappy Lady, while washing her head with cold
  water, struck by apoplexy, fell into the arms of her attendants,
  and died before any assistance could be given her."--GALLUZZI'S
  _History_.

Titta then removed the body to the apartment belonging to the
Duchess, and arranged it upon the bed. Lady Lucrezia sent for Inigo,
and told him word for word what Titta had said. The major-domo
glancing at the corpse, understood the case too well, and taking
with his left hand the hem of the sheet, covered its blackened face,
whilst with his right he wiped a tear from his eyes.--Inigo, the
major-domo, reputed a heart of stone, wept!

"May God receive in peace the soul of this poor Lady!" said he, and
with a deep sigh he left the room.

A great and solemn funeral was performed over the body of Isabella:
servants, relatives--her husband and brothers, put on mourning. Over
the bier was recited a funeral oration, composed by an academician of
the _Crusca_, in classic Tuscan language.

The price of her blood was, in part payment, and in part arrangement
of the Duke's debts, and this is narrated by Galluzzi.[64]

  [64] "Not only did the Grand-Duke and the Cardinal keep their
  good relationship with Orsini, but also interested themselves
  in appeasing his creditors, and gave some system to his
  embarrassed economy. All this would prove that, either the
  death of Donna Isabella was not violent, or that the Grand-Duke
  and his brothers, being in the secret with Orsini, with their
  dissimulation rendered the crime more detestable."

Settimanni also informs us that the Duke of Bracciano obtained from
the munificence of his brother-in-law even a greater reward in the
following October, which was the donation of the estate of _Poggio a
Baroncelli_, to-day called _Poggio Imperiale_.[65]

  [65] Settimanni. MSS. Chronicle.

But God's judgment rewarded to the Duke according to his deserts. He
died a horrible death; his soul was contaminated with new crimes,
for blood calls for blood, as it is with wine; and that judgment was
entailed, so that his descendants also feared it. And if fortune
will grant us time and health, the subsequent history of the life of
the Duke of Bracciano shall form the subject of another narrative.

The following passage from the History of Galluzzi will inform the
reader of the fate of Troilo Orsini.

"The Grand-Duke, determined, however, to sound the opinions of Queen
Catherine, sent his Secretary to that Court under the pretext of
collecting the balance of the money which he had loaned to king
Charles IX., for it was then due. The Secretary's commission extended
no further, but liberty had also been given him, to reproach,
according to the occasion, the Queen's ill will against the Medici
house, and the injury done the Grand-Duke. The Secretary having
arrived in Paris, and delivered his commission, the Queen said to
him:--_I know not how to satisfy this desire of the Grand-Duke,
for he lends to the King of Spain a million of gold at a time, and
with us he even demands back such a little sum_.--The Secretary
remonstrated that if the King of Spain had been helped with large
sums, he had at least shown more esteem for the Grand-Duke than
she had done, for she had ill-treated him, and done him an injury
which he did not deserve.--_This I confess_, said she, _and I did
it because the Grand-Duke has no respect for me, rather with much
grief to myself and to the King he has caused the assassination under
our own eyes, of Troilo Orsini, and others, which is not right,
this Kingdom being free to any one to reside here_.--The Secretary
replied, that Orsini and others, having been guilty of grave offences
against the Grand-Duke, it was not becoming in her, who was of his
own blood, to protect, and aid them with money.--_Enough_, replied
the Queen, _write to the Grand-Duke not to continue thus any longer,
and particularly not to order any assassination to be committed in
this Kingdom, for the King, my son, will not allow it_."


THE END.



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      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Minor inconsistencies of spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation
have been made conistent.

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.





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