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Title: Italian Yesterdays, vol. 2
Author: Fraser, Hugh, Mrs.
Language: English
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                            MRS. HUGH FRASER

               Author of “A Diplomatist’s Wife in Japan,”
                 “A Diplomatist’s Wife in Many Lands,”
                   “Reminiscences of a Diplomatist’s
                              Wife,” etc.

                                VOL. II

                                NEW YORK
                         DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

                          COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY
                         DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
                        Published November, 1913



  SAINTS OF THE CHURCH                                            1

  A Friend in Rome—A Story of Two Ways of Loving—Aglaë
  and Boniface—Become Christians—A New Life—Boniface
  Endures Terrible Tortures—Martyrdom—Death of
  Aglaë—Church of St. Boniface—Alexis, the Pilgrim—His
  Travels—Return to Rome—A Ragged Beggar—His Death and
  Burial in St. Boniface’s Church—St. Alexis’
  Monastery—Trials of the Church After Constantine—Rome’s
  Lowest Ebb—Growth of the Spiritual City—Benedict the
  Blessed, and Scholastica.


  FOUNDER OF MONASTICISM                                         15

  Norcia in the Sabines—A Matrona—The Twins, Benedict and
  Scholastica—Benedict Goes to Rome—Conversion of
  Placidus—Benedict’s Retirement to La Mentorella—Life in
  a Cave—Temptations—Visit of St. Francis—Benedict’s
  Ministering—Real Founder of Monastic Life—Growth of His
  Order—Placidus and Maurus—St. Benedict’s Personality and
  Conversions—His Ideal of the Religious Life—His Greatest
  Miracles—His Sister, Scholastica—The Last Day
  Together—His Ascension.


  ST. GREGORY THE GREAT                                          37

  Birth and Lineage of St. Gregory—Path from the World to
  the Cloister—Prayer, Study, and Charity—His Cat—A
  Prophecy—A Cardinal Deacon—Mission to
  Constantinople—Eutyches’ Heresy—Rome in
  Pestilence—Gregory Elected Pope—His Unbelievable
  Accomplishments—His Life as Pope—Championship of
  the Oppressed—Bond with English-speaking People—The Great
  Procession During the Pestilence—Gregory’s Successors.


  MEMORIES OF THE PANTHEON                                       52

  The Pantheon—Hadrian’s Best Monument—Long Idle—Consecrated
  as St. Mary of the Martyrs—The Cathedral, the Symbol
  of the Soul—Its Purification—Continuity of the Church—A
  Priest’s Visit—The Alabaster Square—Procession of the
  Martyrs’ Relics—Giovanni Borgi, the Workman—Italian
  Guilds—Giovanni’s Selflessness—His Rescue of the Forsaken
  Children—Care of Them—Crusade in Behalf of All the Waifs
  of Rome—His Work of Love—Giovanni’s Successor,
  Later Pius IX.


  EARLY LIFE OF FATHER MASTAI                                    70

  Birth in 1792—A Happy Family—His Youth—Epilepsy—The
  Church at the Time of Napoleon—Abduction of Pius to
  Avignon—Napoleon’s Downfall—Return of the Pope to
  Rome—His Reception—Prophecies Regarding Pius IX—His
  Journey to Chile—Ocean Trip—Across the Andes—Failure
  of Mission—Rounding Cape Horn—English Settlement on the
  Cape—“Love-of-the-Soil”—The Falkland Islands.


  POPE PIUS IX                                                   91

  Director of Ospizio di San Michele—A Splendid
  Record—Archbishop of Spoleto—A Turbulent
  Populace—Order Restored—Revolution in Europe—Spoleto
  Saved—The Earthquake in Umbria—New Post at Imola—Secret
  Societies—A Cardinal—Attack upon the Three Prelates—The
  Cardinal’s Bravery—How the Saints Forgive—Pope Pius
  IX—His Charity and Justice—Defenders of the Poor—Anecdotes
  of the Cardinal’s Generosity.


  CAPTIVITY OF POPE PIUS VII                                    108

  Lebzeltern, the Ambassador of the Austrian Emperor—Origin
  of His Mission—Napoleon’s Anger Against Pius VII—Arrest
  of the Pope—Protests from the Church—Napoleon
  Excommunicated—Vain Efforts to Evade the Bull—Instructions
  for the Mission—“Do All, or Else, _Do Nothing_”—Pius
  VII in His Sixty-eighth Year—The Interview—The Pope’s
  Position—His Generosity—Message to Napoleon—Continued
  Captivity—Return to Rome—Napoleon’s Expiation.


  IN SABINA                                                     131

  Castel Gandolfo—Its Gardens—The Sabine Hills—The
  Reverendo—An Expedition into the Hills-The Campagna in the
  Early Morning—“Our Lady of Good Counsel”—Ancient
  Præneste—Italy’s Landscape—Struggles of the
  Colonna—Destruction of Palestrina—Boniface’s Revenge
  and Expiation—Olevano, the Haunt of Artists—“Picturesque
  Utility”—The Wrong Train—Romance of a Pebble—The Work
  of the Saints.


  PEOPLE OF THE HILLS                                           152

  The Apennines—View from a Peak—Real
  Hospitality—Polenta—Woods of Sabina—A Hill Family—The
  Cook—A Queer Adventure—People of the South—A Night
  Festival in the Abruzzi—The Journey—The Old Organ—Marion
  Crawford’s Boys—Juvenile Theatricals.


  A STORY OF VENICE                                             172

  A Follower of the Condottieri—The Raw Recruit—Division of
  the Dukedom of Milan—Carmagnola’s Turn—Growth in
  Wealth and Power—Disaffection—Venice Acquires His
  Services—War with Milan—A Leisurely Campaign—Carmagnola
  at the Height of His Glory—Fortune Turns Against the
  Venetians—Stirrings of Suspicion—Reception in Venice—The
  Senate Chamber—Growing Dusk—The Attack—End of His Part in
  the World—Another Story of the North—St. Raniero, the Patron
  of Pisa—The Power of Temperance.


  QUEEN JOAN OF NAPLES                                          191

  A Conspicuous Feminine Sinner—Marriage of State—Her
  Beauty—Her Hungarian Husband—Petrarch and the Monk—Joan’s
  Ascent to the Throne—The Naples Succession—Her
  Favourites—The Churches of Naples—Joan’s Lovers—Factions
  of Naples—Charles of Durazzo—A Bold Proposal—Charles’
  Ambitious Plots—War of the Factions—Disappearance of
  Maria—Becomes the Wife of Charles—Joan’s Horror.


  A MEDIÆVAL NIGHTMARE                                          208

  Pact Between Charles and Andrew of Hungary—Joan’s Homage
  to the Papal Legate—Andrew Ignored—Arrival of Andrew’s
  Mother—Andrew Upheld by the Pope—His Reprisals—“The
  Man Must Die”—The Queen’s Conspiracy—Last
  Meeting of Charles and Andrew—The Hunting Expedition—The
  Banquet in the Monastery—The Murder—Tempest Breaks
  over Joan’s Head—An Evil Blow at Charles—Trial of Andrew’s
  Murderers—A Nightmare of Cruelty and Fear.


  THE VAMPIRE-MONARCH FROM HUNGARY                              233

  Charles’ Further Acts as Dictator—Rise of the Favoured
  Louis of Taranto—Civil War—A Scheme of the Empress of
  Constantinople—Interference of the King of Hungary—The
  Empress Again to the Rescue—Hungary’s Advance—Death of
  the Empress—Flight of the Neapolitan Nobles—Joan and
  Her Husband in Provence—Charles’ Well-merited Fate—The
  King of Hungary’s Vengeance—Government by Execution.


  END OF JOAN’S CAREER                                          246

  Joan Detained at Aix—Greeted as a Queen—Joan Pronounced
  Innocent—Plans to Regain Naples—Sale of a City—Return to
  Naples—Indecisive War—Proposal for Personal
  Conflict—Flight of the Royal Family—Maria’s Narrow
  Escape—Hungarians Repulsed—Pope Clement as
  Intermediary—Departure of the King of Hungary—Festivity
  in Naples—Death of Louis and Joan’s Further Marital
  Adventures—Joan in Trouble—Her Untimely End.


  NAPLES UNDER MURAT                                            263

  Beauty of Naples—Figures of Its History—St.
  Januarius—Murat, King of Naples—Achievements as King—The
  Carbonari—England’s Promises—Napoleonic Diplomacy—Rise
  of the Bourbons—Alliance with Austria—Murat’s
  Indecision—Distrust of the Allies—Murat’s
  Statesmanship—Talleyrand’s Diplomacy—Naples, the
  Gay—Conspiracy in the Palace—The Escape from
  Elba—Ideal Government—War Against Murat—Advance of
  the Austrians—Murat Driven to Naples—Interview with His
  Wife—Last Instructions to His Ministers—Escape.


  MURAT’S LAST DAYS                                             299

  Naples in Anarchy—Entrance of Austrians—Murat’s Repulse
  by Napoleon and by Louis—His Demon of
  Ill-luck—Ship-wrecked—Aid in Corsica—Emperor of Austria’s
  Proposal—Attempt Against Naples—Murat Betrayed into
  Ferdinand’s Hands—Murat’s “Trial”—Letter to His
  Wife—Before His “Judges”—A Brave Death—Ferdinand, the
  “Butcher King.”


  ITALIAN SEAS                                                  315

  Our Moods and the Seas—Memories in Landscapes—The Healing
  of the Sea—A Vision in the Bay of Naples—Marion Crawford’s
  Yacht Expected—The Family Together at Leghorn—Lady
  Paget—A Bathing Scene—Hugh Fraser—“Spannocchi” for
  Dinner—The Avenging Boatman—Livorno, An Anomaly—Sunset
  on the Mare Ligure—Bay of Spezia, a Splurge of Colour and
  Light—A Hail Storm in Venice—The Joy of a Gondola—Moods
  of Venice—A Giorgione Beauty—The Nurseries of Venice—Her
  Shops—Saints and Heresies of the Thirteenth Century.


  SOUTHERN SHORES                                               339

  Melancholy Ravenna—Early Byzantine Architecture—Forests
  of Stone-pine—Smiles and Tears—The Need of a Little
  Misfortune—Monte Gargano—Millions of Spanish
  Merinos—Primæval Forest—A Forest Miracle—Church of the
  Apparition of St. Michael—Other Apparitions of the
  Archangel—The Revelation to St. Aubert—The Great Round
  Church—Order of the Knights of St. Michael—A “Maiden”
  Fortress of France.



  A Friend in Rome—A Story of Two Ways of Loving—Aglaë and
  Boniface—Become Christians—A New Life—Boniface Endures Terrible
  Tortures—Martyrdom—Death of Aglaë—Church of St. Boniface—Alexis,
  the Pilgrim—His Travels—Return to Rome—A Ragged Beggar—His Death
  and Burial in St. Boniface’s Church—St. Alexis’ Monastery—Trials
  of the Church After Constantine—Rome’s Lowest Ebb—Growth of the
  Spiritual City—Benedict the Blessed, and Scholastica.

It was my good fortune, many years ago, to make friends with a
woman whose name was as beautiful as her mind—Mary Grace. We met in
another hemisphere, under the Southern Cross, and for many days lived
together in Chile’s one little paradise, Viña del Mar. There, in shady
patios trellised with jessamine and bougainvillea, we talked of the
impossible—of meeting in Rome and going together to the holy places and
making better acquaintance with the Saints. Two or three years later
the impossible happened. My Mary, with her daughter Lilium, floated
into my mother’s drawing-room in the Odescalchi one April afternoon,
when the swallows were whirling above the courtyard and the house
seemed all roses and sunshine. In the weeks that followed all our dream
programme was realised; together we went to the Pope’s Mass, together
knelt at his feet while Leo XIII laid his hand on Lilium’s golden
head and blessed us and promised to pray for us and all our dear ones;
and together we wandered from place to place in the Eternal City, I,
who had known it all my life, learning many things from her who came
there for the first time, as so often happens. Of all those pleasant
inspiring hours the one we both remembered most appreciatively, I
think, was that of our visit to a lonely spot on the Aventine—the hill
that somehow has always kept its character and is even to-day very
little hurt by the destructions that have defaced most of the other
quarters of the town.

My friend was Irish, “pur sang,” and her appreciations were extremely
individual ones; things that other people felt obliged to rave about
left her quite cold; but, when she had caught and joined the links
of some beautiful story that the world had overlooked or forgotten,
she became a veritable flame of enthusiasm, and every tiny detail and
souvenir she could connect with it had to be sought out and stored in
the big warm shrine of her heart. I think, though I am not certain,
that she knew the story of the house on the Aventine before she came to
Rome. Anyway, it was she who took me there, and we went over story and
house together, and were exceedingly loath to come away when the Ave
Maria rang over the city and all respectable people turned their faces

Here is the story, a story of two ways of loving. It is in two parts,
and I only learnt the first long after I was familiar with the second.
The beginning takes us back to the last years of the Third Century,
to the oft-mentioned reign of Diocletian. At that time, although the
Aventine had never been one of the most distinguished quarters of Rome,
it contained a few dwellings of nobles, who, doubtless, overlooked the
mass of poorer houses that swarmed about its base, for the sake of the
view, both over the city and towards the sea, from which comes always
the pleasant west wind that we Romans love. I have spoken of the palace
of the good Marcella, where in her old age she was so roughly treated
by Alaric’s Goths; before Marcella’s time there lived another noble
lady on the Aventine, with very different ideas as to the conduct of
life. Her name was Aglaë, not a Roman name, and I fancy she must have
come of Greek parentage, although she is spoken of as a noble Roman
matron. Of her husband, who seems to have died before the story begins,
we are told nothing; her whole existence was wrapped up in a quite
unsanctified passion for a handsome pagan called Boniface, a man of
generous heart, as the sequel shows, but a sensualist, like most of
his class at that time. He adored Aglaë, and the two must have passed
some enchanting hours wandering on the terraces of the Aventine villa
or sitting hand in hand to watch the sun sinking red into the distant
sea. No thought of the future seems to have come to them there, nor any
gleam of a scruple as to their way of life. Youth and beauty and love
were theirs; this world was sweet, and they had never heard of another.

Then something happened. We are not told what it was—perhaps some
miracle witnessed by Boniface at the martyrdom of some obscure
Christian, one of those miracles which so often converted a crowd of
brutal, mocking bystanders into Christians on the spot. Whatever it
was, it rent his soul, summoned his intelligence, and claimed him for
ever. If Aglaë was not with him at the moment, he must have rushed
to her for one last visit to tell her of it, for her conversion was
simultaneous, and sudden as his own. From that moment the lovers
renounced each other for the love of Christ, and the remainder of their
lives was devoted to atoning for their guilt in the past. Aglaë, in her
lonely palace, gave herself up to prayer and penance; Boniface at once
joined himself to the band of Christians who made it their business to
gather up and bury the bodies of the martyrs. In no other way could he
assuage the tumult of pain and repentance that filled his heart at the
remembrance of his sins. Diocletian’s persecution was not confined to
Rome, but was raging in many other parts of the Empire, notably in Asia
Minor, and thither Boniface travelled with some devoted companions, in
order to help and cheer the poor Christians in their sufferings.

On arriving at Tarsus, St. Paul’s city, he got separated from his
fellow-travellers, and, wandering around, found that a great number of
the Faithful were being cruelly tormented that day, in divers ways,
for the name of Christ, and his heart was both torn with compassion
for their pains and admiration for their heroism. Approaching them,
he kissed their chains and encouraged them to endure these passing
tortures for the sake of Him who would so quickly and splendidly reward
them by an eternity of joy. Of course he was at once arrested, and the
tormentors seem to have tasked their ingenuity in inventing agonies for
him to bear. His sins of the flesh were expiated by having his whole
body ploughed with hooks of iron, and by spikes of wood run in under
his nails and on his limbs; he had spoken sinful words; they poured
molten lead into his mouth; he had sinned in the lust of the eyes and
the pride of life; the executioners plunged him head downwards in a
cauldron of boiling pitch. But from this the Lord delivered him. When
they drew him forth, his eyes were clear, his brow unscarred, and he
looked once more—his last look—on the fair world where he had been so
sinfully happy, and through it all he praised God aloud, saying, “Lord
Jesus Christ, Son of God, I thank Thee!” Then came the order—so usual
when all the torments had failed and the dear spirit still clung to the
lacerated body—“Behead him!”

As the axe fell, there was a terrific earthquake, and many of the
bystanders were converted then and there, but no one was allowed
to touch his body. Meanwhile his friends, who had been seeking for
him everywhere, learnt of his martyrdom, and came to gather up his
remains. But a strict watch had been set, and it was only after paying
five hundred pieces of silver that they could obtain possession of
the dear corpse. With love and tears, they anointed it with precious
balms and wrapped it in costly coverings and transported it to Rome.
During these months Aglaë had been living a life of such whole-hearted
repentance that our dear Lord had taken her into great grace; and
now, by an exquisite, Divine bit of indulgence—one of those flashes of
hot sympathy that come straight from the Sacred Human Heart of Him in
Heaven to some poor, broken human heart on earth—He sent an Angel to
tell her that her Boniface’s body was returning to Rome and that she
could go and meet it. So Aglaë, in her sombre penitential dress, her
beautiful face covered with a veil, went forth, and, at a given place,
saw the little procession approaching from the sea. There was no danger
for her in looking at the beloved features now. Very quiet and strong
she seems to have been as she met the wayfarers, bade them pause with
their holy burden, and then led them back to her own house. There,
where he and she had loved and sinned, she received him, who was to
leave her no more. Those who had brought him told her of his glorious
end, and she thanked the Lord for it again—for the Angel had not let
her wait so long for the story. And when she had shown her gratitude
by most loving hospitality and precious gifts to those who had brought
his body, they went away and left her alone with her beloved. Ask any
loving woman what she did then! Which of us would not place our dear
tortured dead in our hall of honour, and burn sweet spices round them,
and light tall tapers, and fill the place with every fragrance and
loveliness that the garden has to give?

All this, we may be sure, Aglaë did for Boniface; but she did that
from which most women are debarred. She turned her palace into a Church
for his tomb, and prayed near it till she died, and then the poor and
suffering, who had been her one care from the day of her conversion,
came there and prayed for her soul. But we know that that went straight
to Heaven.

So there stood the Church of St. Boniface, and, some two hundred years
later, a most noble Roman family had established their own palace close
to it, and the Church, as we know it, now includes a part of the house
of Alexis. For this is where a great saint grew to manhood, the loved
son of rich and affectionate parents. Alexis had every gift of mind,
with beauty of countenance and strength of body; and, when the time was
ripe, his father and mother betrothed him to a bride of their choosing,
good and sweet, and very fair to see. In this they had, for the first
time, met with stubborn opposition from the boy, who had never opposed
them before. He told them that he had vowed himself to a single life
for God’s service, and that no earthly bride, however beautiful, should
make him swerve from that allegiance. But they, like many other good
parents, persisted in their project, convinced that they knew what was
good for their son; and the preparations for his marriage went merrily
forward, each day but adding to the young man’s grief and perplexity.
Rome was Rome still; he could protest, but he had to obey his father’s
direct commands, and obey he did; but his vow had been made to a still
higher authority, and he meant to keep it, and prayed for grace and
guidance to do so, nor were grace and guidance refused him, who, as the
Breviary puts it, “was of Rome’s noblest, but nobler yet through his
great love for Christ.”

On the night of his wedding, when the feasting and singing and
congratulating were over, and the matrons conducted the bride, probably
a child of thirteen or fourteen, to the lighted, perfumed bridal
chamber, Alexis would not so much as touch her hand, but, like one
Galahad of another time and clime, bade her farewell and departed,
having received from God a special command to go on a pilgrimage to
the “illustrious Churches of the Universe.” He left all behind, riches
and servants, and even his name, and for seventeen long years, with
no companion but the Lady Poverty, wandered, a nameless poor pilgrim,
through all the Holy Places, praising the Redeemer for His great
mercies and praying for the hastening of the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the end of those seventeen years, he was one day praying fervently
before an image of the Blessed Virgin in the great Church at Edessa,
when a voice came from the image, proclaiming his name and rank. The
people were greatly excited and wished to show him honour, both for his
own sake and because Our Lady Herself seemed to wish it. But Alexis
knew better. That strange, sweet voice had not rung in his ears to
lure him back to things of earthly pride, and for him the disclosure
of his identity was the command to depart from that land. He fled, and
boarded the first ship he could find to carry him away from Syria. He
never asked the vessel’s destination; it was enough for him that he was
obeying a command, but he was being led back to where the second phase
of his spiritual career awaited him—in his old home in Rome.

As the ship sped north and west, and one by one the lovely Greek
islands seemed to come floating towards him, like opals on the shifting
sapphire of the sea, he still kept silence, still prayed and praised.
What cared he whither her course was set? The white sails might have
been angel’s wings—so sure was Alexis that God was leading him. Then,
when the Apennines swam up blue from the bluer water, and scents of
violet and orange blossom were wafted out to greet the wanderer, he
knew that this was Italy—and home. Still he spoke not—questioned not;
past the isles of the Sirens, past Circe’s Promontory, still on, past
all that shore of coral and pearl, of palm and ilex and olive, with
Vesuvius’ dark smoke hanging like a menace in the background, the
little Syrian galley held her way, and at last the helmsman turned her
prow to the land, the sails were all furled but one; the enormous oars
worked her up against a rushing yellow current till the long quay was
reached, and with a rattling of chains the weary galley slaves shipped
their oars and bent down to look, each through his little opening, at
“the port of Rome.”

With the merchants and the free seamen, Alexis stepped on shore, and
gazed at the city of his birth. He had been brought back—for what?
Blindly, joyfully, obediently, he had gone forth, to fare alone with
God, and alone with God he was still to be. An hour or so later a
haggard mendicant stood at the gate of a palace on the Aventine, asking
for charity. That was never refused in that house, and the servants
brought him in, showed him a dark corner under a stairway close to the
entrance, where they told him he might sleep, and gave him some scraps
of food. Humbly and gratefully he accepted it all; he heard them speak
of the master and the mistress and the “widow” of the eldest son who
was long since dead; and that day or the next he must have seen his
father and mother, and the maid who had never been a wife, passing
through the courtyards or lingering in the garden. God’s ways are not
our ways. When He covets the love of certain souls for Himself, He
will not share it with any one, and that Divine jealousy leads the
chosen soul through hard paths. The hearts that love God intensely are
the very ones that are the most loving of their fellows, especially
of all who hold close to them in the sacred ties of family affection.
But these ties have to be snapped on earth when the Divine Lover so
wills—and Saints like Alexis, and poor sinners like the rest of us,
have to leave the broken ends in His Hands, knowing that the pain we
are made to cause our dear ones is as necessary for them as that which
we suffer is for us, and that every pang of theirs is a golden strand
in the garment of their immortality. Alexis’ parents had sinned against
him and Heaven in trying to force him to break his vow of virginity;
their son had long forgiven them, but Heaven in its mercy was allowing
them to expiate their sin here instead of hereafter, and, through their
obstinacy, the young girl who might, wedded to another spouse, have
become a joyful mother of children, had to spend her life in their sad
house, waiting upon them, and with the prospect of a very lonely age
before her when they should have passed away.

We may be sure that many and many a time Alexis longed to emerge from
his despised obscurity and comfort them all three, but it was not for
that God had brought him back. The command of silence was never lifted,
and so the son—the heir—lived on, a ragged beggar, laughed at and also
abused by his father’s servants, praying in St. Boniface’s Church by
day, sleeping in the cranny under the stairs at night, allaying his
hunger by the scraps the servants threw him, and always blessing them
and praising God, who thus satisfied His own servant’s hunger for
poverty and suffering and humiliation. This second trial, this exile of
the heart, lasted also seventeen years. At that time the very existence
of Rome was threatened by Alaric the Goth; once and twice, he had
turned from its gates laden with the ransom exacted for not entering
them; he was threatening to approach again, and this time he had sworn
to enter and destroy. The population was crowding the Churches to pray
for deliverance, when a mysterious voice rang out in each separate
Church, “Seek ye the man of God, that he may pray for Rome!” Terror
fell upon the suppliant masses, and none dared speak or move. Then the
same voice cried, “Seek in the house of Euphemian.”

There was a rush to the Aventine, for all knew the great noble’s
dwelling. The Pope, Innocent I, had heard the command and himself
went thither, followed by all his ecclesiastics and the Senators as
well. When they reached Euphemian’s house it was the Pope who led them
to the dark corner under the stairs—dark no longer, but flooded with
celestial light, where the nameless beggar lay dying alone. His hands
were already cold, but in one he held a crucifix, in the other a slip
of parchment which no one could make him relinquish, though many tried
to take it away from him. Then Innocent commanded him, in the Name of
God, to give it up, and immediately Alexis let him take it with his own
hand. And the Pope, standing up beside the dying man, opened the slip,
and read aloud therefrom the name and family of the beggar; and a great
cry went through the house that it was Alexis, the son who had been
mourned for dead these many years. And father and mother and wife threw
themselves down beside him, embracing him and weeping bitterly, for in
that moment his soul had gone to God.

Then Innocent buried him in the Church of St. Boniface, and it was
called both by his name and that of Alexis for many years. Both their
bodies rest there, and a chapel was thrown out at one side to take
in the stairway, which, now covered with glass, remains to this day.
Both Boniface and Alexis had travelled and prayed and suffered in the
East, and their Church came to be a heritage of both East and West;
for, five hundred years after the July day on which Alexis died, a
great monastery called after him and built close to the Church on the
hill of the “house of Euphemian,” sheltered monks of the Basilian and
Benedictine orders at the same time, an innumerable spiritual family
“to replace the fair family he had renounced to this world.”

The Aventine has been little touched by time and is still one of the
quietest and loveliest spots in Rome. At certain seasons it suffers
from malaria—blown up from the marshes near Ostia—and for that reason
both mediæval and modern builders have generally avoided it. But it is
full of gardens. That of St. Alexis’ Convent, now an Asylum for the
Blind, is famous for its orange and lemon trees; and one can trace
the dispositions of the terraces and courts of the old house in the
approaches to the Church. I do not think that when my friend and I
were wandering there we noticed one curious feature which, however,
still exists to give one a glimpse of old Roman domestic ways—the queer
little cells, one on each side of the inner porch of Euphemian’s house,
where the slave porter, and his companion the watchdog, were _chained_,
opposite to each other, to their respective posts! What queer and
sympathetic confidences they must have exchanged sometimes!

Alexis surely prayed for his native city, but all the prayers of all
her Saints could not avert the trials that were to visit on Rome her
past sins. Constantine the Great believed that he had left the Church
in the West impregnable in strength and assured of peace; and for
nearly three centuries after his death she was forced to fight for her
existence almost as stubbornly as she had during the three centuries
preceding it. In 361, only twenty-four years after the death of
Constantine, Julian the Apostate reversed his edicts and strained every
nerve to reëstablish the worship of the Olympian deities. Paganism
was dead, and he failed in his iniquitous efforts to restore animation
to its corpse, but much suffering did he bring to the Church, and it
was only at the price of blood that she conquered in the end. After
Julian came the Barbarians—Alaric, Genseric, Odoacer, Totila—during the
short space of one hundred and thirty years Rome was taken and ravaged
five separate times, so that when, in 553, Narses, the prototype of
Napoleon, abolished the Senate and annexed the city to the Eastern
Empire, she had reached the lowest point in her history and was
scarcely regarded as a prize even by the Lombards, when, in response
to the invitation of Narses himself, they overran Italy from the Alps
to the sea, only to be finally expelled by Charlemagne some two hundred
years later.

But the Church had realised the truth of the saying that the darkest
hour comes just before the dawn. The high courage that had come
unscathed through such appalling conflicts rose gallant and audacious
in its certainty of final victory, and, at the very moment when Rome
seemed to be annihilated, decreed to it such a triumph as the world had
never seen before.

In 568, just a year after Narses, to gratify a personal spite, had
invited the hornet swarm of Lombards to cross the Alps, he died in the
city he had insulted. We must remember that there were two Romes: the
corporeal city, depopulated and impoverished, despoiled and dying—the
city of the government of the once proud “Senatus Populusque Romanus,”
which had failed signally at every point, and had crawled to the feet
of every conqueror; and the spiritual city, ruled by strong and holy
men, who patiently went on with their invisible building, adding stone
to stone with such calmness and patience that in contemplating their
work one is almost led to believe that they were unconscious of the
material ruin around them. During the forty years that followed the
death of Narses there was growing up in Rome a phalanx of learned and
holy ones to replace the leaders who had been found wanting, and we of
to-day are still the inheritors and possessors of the treasures they
amassed. While the grass grew unchecked in the streets and all who
could migrated to happier lands; while commerce and war turned aside
from the now worthless prize, and the poor tethered their few goats and
sheep in the courtyards of the great ruined houses, the Benedicts, the
Gregorys, the Bonifaces, with their clear-eyed, disciplined cohorts,
were building the Liturgy, building the monastic orders, building
the polity that guides and rules the Church and the Faithful to-day.
Nothing escaped them; whether it were a question of the right antiphon
for one of the psalms of a Nocturn, the placing on the Index some
doubtful legend of a Saint (like that of our St. George, which the
popular fancy was turning into a grotesque myth), the annihilation of
some startling new heresy which was raising its poisonous head, or the
question of bringing Constantinople to its senses by bold remonstrance
with the Emperor—to every detail was brought the thoroughness and
directness of trained minds, the compelling force of superior courage
and invincible intellect.

And this work had been going on silently and infallibly from the
moment that official persecution ceased. Through sieges and invasions,
desertions and desolations, the mills of God were grinding the grain
and filling the great storehouses with golden wealth. In 480, in
the little town of Nursia, high among the fastnesses of the Abruzzi,
where the snow lay thick in winter, as in the Alps, there was born
to the lord of the place a son, who was christened Benedict—“the
Blest,” and a little daughter, whom the father, a great admirer of
learning, called Scholastica. When these two passed away, sixty-three
years later, Literature and Saintliness were throned in Europe, and
hold their thrones still in the innumerable fortresses manned by the
spiritual descendants of the Nursian twins. Outside the Church few,
comparatively, knew their names when they died. Learning and piety
would scarcely exist for us had they not lived.



  Norcia in the Sabines—A Matrona—The Twins, Benedict and
  Scholastica—Benedict Goes to Rome—Conversion of Placidus—Benedict’s
  Retirement to La Mentorella—Life in a Cave—Temptations—Visit
  of St. Francis—Benedict’s Ministering—Real Founder of Monastic
  Life—Growth of His Order—Placidus and Maurus—St. Benedict’s
  Personality and Conversions—His Ideal of the Religious Life—His
  Greatest Miracles—His Sister, Scholastica—The Last Day Together—His

In the heart of the Sabines, where the Nar breaks out from the rock
near the mountain called the Lioness, there has been since very early
times a little town, too inaccessible to tempt the spoiler and the
invader, too sturdy and independent to serve long as a footstool for
mediæval tyrants. It was well fortified, however, and the ancient
walls encircle it still, in good repair, as witnesses to its immunity
from the fate that has annihilated so many other little old cities,
its neighbours. Nature, stern and wild enough here, helped to protect
it. Even now it can only be reached by a carriage journey, a lengthy,
tedious business in the winter time, when the snow almost cuts it off
from communication with the outside world. The townsfolk have long
memories, however. The chief square is called Piazza Sertorio, after
the Roman General, Quintus Sertorius, who was born here in the second
century before Christ, and the only public monument in Norcia is a
statue of their other distinguished citizen, St. Benedict, in the same
square. People from other places do not interest the good burghers
of Norcia. They have accorded a passing notice to a gentleman named
Vespasian, known elsewhere as a fairly successful Emperor, but as they
would tell you, “a person quite without education,” that is to say,
with no manners; nevertheless, they have allowed a hill in the vicinity
to be called Monte Vespasio, because his mother was a decent woman and
owned a farm there.

I fancy life in Norcia is in its essentials very much what it was
when, in the year of grace 480, the lord of the manor was informed
that his good wife had borne him twins, a son and a daughter. It is
easy, knowing the ways of the people, to call up the picture of the
“matrona” in her best gown—the midwife is the most honoured woman in
every Roman town—coming down from the lady’s apartment in the tower,
to the head of the house, sitting, quite forgotten and rather lonely,
in the hall, waiting for news from the centre of interest upstairs. His
own servants would only approach with signs of submission and respect;
not so the all-important matrona! Conscious of her dignity and grave as
a judge, she would advance a few steps and wait for him to rise. Then,
as he approached on tiptoe and with some timidity, she would turn back
the woollen covering from the unexpectedly large bundle on her left
arm, and, without a word, show him two little pink faces where he only
expected one.

“Yes,” she would say, in answer to his exclamations of delight and
astonishment, “two has Domine Dio sent to this noble house. Two will
be the gifts my lord must bestow on his lady”—this to remind him as
well of the double remuneration due to herself. “Pretty? Oh, no, but
they are not bad—thanks be! Will it please my lord to send for the
priest—the ‘femminuccia’ is the younger—and seems not over-strong! I
thank my lord!”

My lord has been feeling in his pouch and has slipped two of his few
gold pieces into her hand, and, seeing that he is inclined to admire
the babies, she covers them up and stalks away. Her demeanour has been
rhadamanthine throughout. There must be no expression of admiration, no
kissing or fondling of the little creatures before they are baptised.
That would call the attention of the Devil to the small unregenerates
who are still his property. When the taint of original sin has been
washed away they will be angels of innocence, beautiful cherubs to be
shown proudly to all and sundry—but not before!

So my lord sent for the priest and pondered meanwhile on the names
he would give the new son and daughter, little dreaming, good man,
that fifteen centuries later those names would be household words
to every Catholic ear and perpetuated in the colossal literature of
sanctuaries of holiness and learning. He fixed on Benedict for the
boy, and Scholastica for the girl, and, so far as I can trace, it was
the first time the names had been used. Benedict means the “Blest” or
“Well Spoken”; Scholastica signifies a lover of learning, or “the Well
Taught,” so we may infer that the lord of Norcia (it was called Nursia
then) was a man of more education than most country gentlemen of those
rough times, times of which history says: “Europe has perhaps never
known a more calamitous or apparently desperate period than that which
reached its climax at this date, the year 480. Confusion, corruption,
despair, and death were everywhere; social dismemberment seemed
complete. In all the ancient Roman world there did not exist a prince
who was not either a pagan, or an Arian, or a Eutychian. In temporal
affairs, the political edifice originated by Augustus—that monster
assemblage of two hundred millions of human creatures, ‘of whom not a
single individual was entitled to call himself free’—was crumbling into
dust under the blows of the Barbarians.”[1]

Nevertheless, Rome still continued to be looked upon by the surrounding
provinces as the centre of education; there was none, at any rate,
to be had anywhere else within reach; and thither the lord of Norcia,
a descendant of the great family of the Anicia so often mentioned in
the Roman chronicles, sent his son to be instructed in philosophy and
law—the two subjects which still promised some kind of a career to an
intelligent youth. Benedict was scarcely that yet—he was certainly not
more than twelve years old, so much of a child that his nurse, Cyrilla,
was sent with him to take care of him. Doubtless she found some
respectable people with whom to lodge, and indeed one feels some pity
for the simple countrywoman, charged with such a heavy responsibility
in a strange and, as it must have seemed to her, a very wicked, great

So it seemed to the boy, too. He studied, tried to carry out his
father’s instructions as faithfully as he could, but all he saw around
him inspired him with such a horror of the world and its ways that
life became insupportable to him, and he resolved to fly into the
wilderness and seek for God. He was only fourteen years old, but he
knew with certainty that his life was not to lie in the crowded places.
The devout nurse did not oppose his decision; his will was hers, and
together they left Rome and took the road towards their old home. I
fancy that the boy only then told her that Norcia was not to be their
destination. Before reaching it he would find the place where Heaven
willed him to stay. Thus they travelled on, till they came to La
Mentorella, one of the strangest spots in all those strange mountains.
Its parent is Guadagnolo, the highest standing town in the whole of
Romagna, perched on a peak four thousand feet high, and yet shut in
on every side with a wall of rock that completely hides it from the
outer world. Just below the town a ledge of the precipitous rock juts
out abruptly and affords foothold for a Church and hermitage, built
here in memory of the conversion of St. Eustace, the mighty hunter. He
was called Placidus then, and was a soldier, a noble and a good man,
a commander-in-chief much trusted by his Emperor, Trajan, and very
upright and charitable in all his dealings with his fellow-men. It has
been thought by scientific historians that it is of him that Josephus
spoke when recounting the exploits of the Tribune Placidus in the war
with the Jews. There are links which seem to connect Placidus with
the Octavian family, thus making him a relation of Augustus, and some
writers see in the young Placidus, whom his father, Tertullus, confided
to Benedict’s care, a descendant of the gallant soldier and hunter
of Trajan’s time. Be all that as it may, we do know that in the days
of his pagan prosperity, Placidus, hunting in the mountains, sighted
a magnificent stag and pursued it madly through the narrow defiles
till it fled up to the summit of an apparently inaccessible rock, and
there turned and stood still, gazing down on him. Then Placidus fell
on his knees in mortal fear, for between the creature’s antlers was a
crucifix of fire, from which shot forth rays of such brilliance that
they lighted up all the hillside. And from it came a voice saying:
“Placidus, why dost thou pursue Me? I am Christ, whom thou hast
hitherto served without knowing Me. Dost thou now believe?”

Yes, indeed, Placidus believed, and his whole house with him, and in
the after years was privileged to suffer great things for his till then
unknown Master. But, for me, I never got much further with his story
than that blessed word, “Whom thou hast served without knowing Me.”
When I read it I think of all the good, brave souls who thus served in
past ages and of those who are serving thus now, all over the world,
truly and successfully, by the inner light which is imparted to all, of
every clime and every faith, so long as they are sincere and have the
“single eye” to which Christ promised that “the body shall be full of

Placidus, on becoming a Christian, took (or began to use, it may
have been his already) the name of Eustace. Either in his time or
soon afterwards a Church was built on the site of his vision and
the bell-tower of the “Madonna della Vulturella,” although its name
has been shortened to “La Mentorella,” still carries on its summit a
gigantic pair of antlers in commemoration of the miracle. Until a few
years ago (it may be so even now) the feast of St. Eustace attracted
great crowds of pilgrims to the wild and beautiful spot. His day—the
day of his martyrdom under Trajan, who, after all his great services
could not forgive him for refusing to sacrifice to the gods on the
occasion of the Triumph which Eustace had won for him—falls on the
20th of September, that ominous “date which marks one of the blackest
steps of history,” as Dom Guéranger says—and the martyr’s feast has
been combined with that of St. Michael on the 29th. Then the lonely
rocks of Guadagnolo resound to hymns and litanies, and at night are
all lit up with bonfires, one to every little group of pilgrims, who
make a point of passing the night there, each family sleeping round
its own well-stacked fire. For the autumn nights are keen among those
wild precipices, with two cold mountain streams, the Girano and the
Siciliano, roaring along their deep beds in the impenetrable darkness
below; and also the crags used to be the haunts of naughty brigands who
might well covet the gold chains and silver buttons, the rich cloth
and lace of the peasants’ costumes. So some of the men kept watch,
with their old-fashioned muzzle-loaders across their knees, while their
rosaries slipped through their fingers—and the Blessed Madonna and St.
Eustachio were pleased with their faith and kept the robbers away, for
never yet has the pilgrimage been disturbed by those sons of Belial.

It was to La Mentorella that Benedict came, in the year 494, and there
he remained for a while, praying to be delivered from the snares of
the world. And the faithful Cyrilla staid with him and, their little
store of money being exhausted, begged food from the good people round
about, for herself and him. For she had not the courage to send and
ask for money at home, now that the boy had broken away from teachers
and parents to follow the higher call. And the neighbours gave gladly,
and lent her utensils to cook with. One day she was grinding meal in a
little sieve (a stone bowl pierced with holes). To her dismay she let
it drop and it shivered in pieces at her feet. What should she say to
the lender? Hearing her lamentations, Benedict came to see what was
the matter. He picked up the broken pieces and at once they welded
themselves together in his hands, and he gave her back the sieve,
whole. Her delight got the better of her prudence, or else some one
witnessed the miracle, for immediately the people cried out that they
had a Saint in their midst, and they hung the stone bowl up in the
Church as a sacred thing.

Their laudations horrified Benedict, and he ran away, alone this time,
to find a place where no such temptations could assault his humility.
At last he came to a solitary ravine with steep rocky walls through
which rushed a turbulent little river, which four hundred years earlier
had served Nero unwillingly, being dammed up and made to spread out
into pleasure lakes for his gardens a little further on. All was
deserted now, and Benedict, being an active, agile boy, crept along
the face of the cliff and found a cave, so deep that the light of day
never penetrated beyond the entrance; and here he remained, sure of the
food his soul needed, solitary communion with God—and royally careless
about sustenance for his body. But a kindred heart found him out. Lower
down on the course of the Anio, a company of monks had established
themselves on the ruins of Nero’s villa. There were many such
communities then, living apart from the world to pray and do works of
charity and penance, under no fixed rule, and therefore insufficiently
organised, but many of them leading very holy lives all the same.

One of these monks of Sub Laqueum (as the place was called from the
artificial lakes), Romanus by name, found out Benedict’s hiding-place
and took it upon himself to provide him with food. He told none of his
companions about the ardent young recluse, but every day he cut his
one loaf of bread in two, and, going to the edge of the cliff, he let
down the half loaf on a string, to which he had attached a little bell
so that Benedict should know when to come to the mouth of the cave and
reach out to catch the bread. Romanus had given him a hair shirt and
a monastic habit made of skins. He slept on the bare ground and waged
constant war on all the impulses of the flesh. That rebelled, fiercely.
Many a temptation assailed him. The remembered beauty of one woman in
Rome continually haunted him and very nearly dragged him forth from his
cave to go and find her; but when that thought came to him, he pulled
off his fur robe and rolled his young body in a clump of thorns that
grew on the platform of his cave, till it was all one bleeding wound,
and his soul regained the mastery.

Seven centuries afterwards St. Francis came from Assisi to visit the
spot. He knelt there long and shed many tears over the thicket of
thorns. Then he planted two rose trees there, and the thorns gave
place to roses that have bloomed for eight hundred summers, and were
blooming when I saw them, with never a thorn on their stems. But every
leaf of their foliage has a little white line zigzagging across it—to
mark the flight of the defeated Serpent from St. Benedict’s Eden.
There is a pretty story that tells how, after nearly three years, the
hermit’s retreat was discovered. Sometimes the Devil, in sheer spite
(or maybe the chafing points of rock on which Romanus was letting
down the bread), would cut the string and then, as Romanus could not
come back till the next day, poor young Benedict, his whole supply for
twenty-four hours whirled away into the river below, would grow faint
and hungry before his benefactor could reach him again.

The Devil is always rampantly busy at holy seasons—it enrages him to
see everybody trying to be good, and when Benedict had held out against
him for three solid years, he selected Easter Sunday for one of these
wicked tricks. Romanus’ string snapped, the loaf plunged into the
river, and Benedict, always blessing God, resigned himself and went on
with his prayers. The pangs of hunger made themselves felt with painful
persistence, but he tried to take no notice of them. Not so his kind
Creator. In His love for this faithful child He spoke to a good parish
priest who was sitting down to his Easter dinner at that moment with
a glad heart: “How canst thou enjoy these luxuries whilst a servant of
God is pining for food?”

The good priest sprang up, gathered together all that he could
carry, and, leaving his own dinner untouched, started out to find the
suffering recluse. He knew not his name or his dwelling, but angels
guided his steps and helped him to reach the inaccessible cave. There,
instead of some aged penitent, he found a tall boy, with beautiful
serious eyes, and lithe and strong though his body, clothed in tattered
skins, was terribly thin.

Benedict was as much surprised as his visitor. The latter spread the
good things before him and bade him eat.

“Nay, friend,” said Benedict, “thou bringest meat, eggs!—How can I
partake of such luxurious food in this season? It is Lent.”

“Lent!” replied the priest. “No, indeed, my son! Lent is over. This is
Easter Sunday!”

Then the boy fell to, rejoicing. He had lost count of the day in his

The priest stayed some time with him and questioned him of his way
of life, and Benedict answered in all humility; and the visitor went
away convinced of the truth proclaimed by the mysterious voice when it
called him a servant of God.

Now some of the shepherds of that country—doubtless in seeking for
some strayed kid of the goats—had caught sight of Benedict in his
dark cave, and his matted hair and robe of skins had so terrified them
that they fled, thinking they had seen a strange wild beast. Now their
pastor told them about him, and the poor people began to come to him
to ask for his prayers. And those who felt called to a higher life
gathered themselves to him for guidance, and the fame of his sanctity
and the miracles he wrought went abroad so that certain monks of Vico
Varo begged him to come and rule over them. He consented at last and
came, but when they realised that he meant to enforce a strict rule
instead of letting them follow their own varying inclinations, their
admiration—it had never been love—turned to hatred. Satan entered in
amongst them, and they resolved to poison him. When the fatal cup was
handed to Benedict, he took it without a word—and made the sign of the
Cross over it. It was shivered to fragments on the instant. Then he
left these false brethren and returned to his grotto, but never more
to his solitude. Many came to him, some praying that he would guide
their steps in religion, some to confide to him their sons to educate.
This multitude could not be housed in the clefts of the rock, so he
built twelve monasteries at Sub Laqueum, on the ruins of Nero’s villa,
and placed in each twelve monks, who bound themselves to live under
certain plain and simple rules—much prayer, much labour, fasting and
penance; active charity, life-long chastity, and finally poverty, for
no individual might own property of any kind. Thus began the monastic
life of the West. Up to Benedict’s time, as I have said, the religious
life was indeed led by many devout persons, but also by many who lacked
true devotion and brought the calling into some disrepute. The Founder
_par excellence_ appeared, and immediately it took on the character by
which we recognise it now.

Its deepest and strongest foundation was in its humility. In Benedict
nature had been wholly subdued; his self-abasement was complete. No
vision of the future had been granted him as yet, no breath of prophecy
had whispered that in the years to come thirty thousand monasteries in
Europe would be called by his name.

Meanwhile his twelve little houses at Sub Laqueum—our Subiaco—prospered
exceedingly, and the numbers of his subjects increased daily. The times
were so terrible that men who loved God and His peace were overjoyed
to find a spot where war and murder came not and where they could
serve God with quiet hearts. There were some such among the Barbarians
themselves, and more than one Goth asked to be enrolled among
Benedict’s spiritual children. All had to work, and the Goths, big
honest fellows but dense and unskilful, joined the band of builders and
cultivators of the soil. The country was thickly wooded then and there
was much felling to be done. One day a Goth, hewing away at a tree, let
his axe slip and fall into the lake. Immediately he began to weep and
lament, for the implements were few and precious. Benedict came to him,
saw what had happened, and made the sign of the Cross over the water.
At once the heavy axe floated to the surface, and the Saint drew it
forth and gave it back to the poor man, saying: “Ecce, labora, et noli
contristare!”—“There, work, and be not afflicted!”

“Symbolical words,” says Montalembert, “in which we find an abridgment
of the precepts and examples lavished by the monastic order on so many
generations of conquering races! ‘Ecce, labora!’”

In the miserable and confused condition of public affairs it was
difficult for parents of the better classes to procure proper education
for their sons, and, as soon as the fame of Benedict’s holiness spread
abroad, young boys of noble families were brought to him at Subiaco
and confided to his care, in the hope that they, too, would devote
themselves to the service of God. Two of these, Placidus and Maurus,
were especially dear to him and were destined to become in a special
manner his disciples and helpers. Placidus, the younger of the two,
was the son of Tertullus, the feudal lord of Subiaco and of many other
towns, and a great benefactor to the infant community. But Benedict
would allow no distinctions of rank to interfere with the training
in obedience and humility which is the only sure foundation for the
religious life, and the two young patricians had to perform their share
of menial labour like all the rest.

One day Placidus had been sent to fetch water from the lake, and as
he stooped to lift out his heavy pitcher he lost his balance and fell
into the water, which at that spot formed a dangerous whirlpool. St.
Benedict witnessed the accident and, running to Maurus, who stood
horrified beside him, said, “Go, my son, and save thy companion.”

Without an instant’s hesitation Maurus walked across the water with a
step as firm as if it had been dry land, drew the drowning boy out of
the whirlpool, and set him safely on the bank. St. Gregory, in his life
of St. Benedict, says: “To what shall I attribute so great a miracle?
To the virtue of the obedience, or to that of the commandment?”

“To both,” says Bossuet. “The obedience had grace to accomplish the
command, and the command had grace to give efficacy to the obedience.”

St. Gregory gives us a beautiful picture of St. Benedict’s loving
training of these two predestined souls. He kept them always near him,
and would walk along the woody banks of the Anio leaning on Maurus and
leading Placidus by the hand, discoursing so wisely and yet so clearly
that the appeal to the more mature intelligence of the one was as
convincing as to the child-like mind of the other. They witnessed his
many miracles, trembled at the punishments that fell on some unfaithful
members of the community, and stored up all his words in their
hearts—Placidus to be the Apostle of Sicily and the first martyr of the
order, Maurus to become the founder of the religious life in France,
where he died at the age of seventy after having, as the Breviary
puts it, “seen already more than one hundred of his spiritual children
precede him to Heaven.”

Those first years at Subiaco were very happy and consoling ones for
St. Benedict, but wicked men, some envious of his fame, some the open
enemies of all virtue, tried by all means in their power to injure him
and corrupt his followers. He took no notice of their calumnies, was
unmoved by the attempt of one wretch to poison him; as long as he only
was attacked, he went calmly on his way. But when the conspirators sent
a crowd of abandoned women to invade the garden where the monks were
working, he felt the time had come when he should depart and draw the
attacks away from his beloved disciples. So, having set all things in
order and adjured the mountain community to be faithful to its vows,
he travelled southwards, surely with a heavy heart, and did not pause
till he had put nearly a hundred miles between himself and his beloved
retreat at Subiaco.

About eighty-five miles from Rome, where the ever-capricious Apennines
sink to a rounded plain and rise in its centre in a natural fortress
of rock, there stood, in Roman times, the little town of Cassinum, once
the home of Varrus, whom Cicero called “sanctissimus et integerrimus,”
one of those who served God without knowing Him. The place was in
ruins when St. Benedict reached it, but he cared nothing for that;
what arrested him was the sight of the poor country people climbing the
hill to sacrifice to Apollo in the temple on the summit. Pagans yet! He
stayed to teach them Christianity, and very soon the temple and grove
of Apollo gave place to a Church and monastery—the most famous in the
world, the monastery of Monte Cassino.

St. Benedict must have possessed even more than the Saint’s usual
gift of divine magnetism, for wherever he went eager disciples sprang
up around him—many faithful, some few less so, but all irresistibly
attracted to the man himself. As it had been at Subiaco, so it was
here. Very quickly he converted the poor people of the district,
signs and wonders too many to recount “confirming the word,” and his
inexhaustible charity making the harried peasants feel that they had
found a father, a doctor, a protector, in the benignly gentle monk. The
great heart that was utterly empty of self felt for all their sorrows
and hardships; the eyes that, as St. Gregory tells us, had already been
opened to the vision of the Godhead, saw, as mortals do not see, into
the hearts of men, and showed events taking place hundreds of miles
away as clearly as those close by, so that when his monks returned from
the missions on which he sent them it was he who told them all they
had said and done and thought on the way. He seems to have understood
that God would spare him further wandering, and accepted Monte Cassino
as the cradle of the order he was called to found. Here he composed
the Rule which became the model of all succeeding orders, and in its
simple completeness contains the essence and ideal of the religious
life. That, according to St. Benedict, must include prayer and praise
and penance, labour, and unbounded charity, but it does not consist in
them. They are its garment, its inevitable expression, so to speak, but
the life is the life of the heart in constant union with God. He was
opposed to all undue extremes in outward observances, though inflexible
as to the keeping of the Rule. “Let this,” he said, “be arduous enough
to give the strong something to strive for, but not so hard as to
discourage the weak!”

He worked at Monte Cassino as if for eternity, yet it was revealed
to him that forty years after his death the Lombards would destroy
the convent and disperse the monks. It puzzles one to understand
that perfect trust and obedience. The knowledge saddened him, but it
never made him desist from his labours, so splendidly justified by
after events. “I have obtained from the Lord this much,” he told the
frightened disciples, “when the Barbarian comes he will take things,
not lives—_res, non animas_.” But other Barbarians were overrunning
the country, left now to its fate by its supine and helpless rulers
in Constantinople. The Goths were everywhere; many indeed became
devout followers of Benedict, but their Arian brethren pillaged and
persecuted, burnt and ravaged, unchecked, and terribly did the people
suffer. St. Benedict, who foresaw the great destinies of these Northern
races when they should become enlightened, stood between the conquerors
and the conquered as judge and protector, and both in the end always
bowed to his ruling.

There is a wonderful story that I must set down, because it shows his
power over nature, both animate and inanimate things. To me it seems
more impressive than all his other miracles, even those of restoring
the dead to life. A particularly fierce Goth robber, named Galla,
“traversed the country panting with rage and cupidity, and made a sport
of slaying the priests and monks who fell under his power, and spoiling
and torturing the people to extort from them the little they had
remaining. An unfortunate peasant, exhausted by the torments inflicted
upon him by the pitiless Goth, conceived the idea of bringing them to
an end by declaring that he had confided all that he had to the keeping
of Benedict, a servant of God, upon which Galla stopped the torture
of the peasant, but, binding his arms with ropes and thrusting him in
front of his own horse, ordered him to go before and show the way to
the house of this Benedict who had defrauded him of his expected prey.
Both thus pursued the way to Monte Cassino, the peasant on foot, with
his hands tied behind his back, urged on by the blows and taunts of the
Goth, who followed on horseback.

“When they reached the summit of the mountain, they perceived the
Abbot, seated alone, reading at the door of his monastery. ‘Behold,’
said the prisoner, ‘there is the Father Benedict of whom I told thee.’

“Then the Goth shouted furiously to the monk: ‘Rise up, rise up, and
restore quickly what thou hast received from this peasant!’ The man
of God raised his eyes from his book and, without speaking, slowly
turned his gaze first on the Barbarian on horseback, and then upon the
husbandman bound and bowed down by his cords. Under the light of that
powerful gaze the cords which tied his poor arms loosed of themselves,
and the innocent victim stood erect and free, while the ferocious
Galla, falling on the ground, trembling and beside himself, remained
at the feet of Benedict, begging the Saint to pray for him. Benedict
called his brethren and directed them to carry the fainting Barbarian
into the monastery and give him some blessed bread. And when he had
come to himself the Abbot represented to him the injustice and cruelty
of his conduct, and exhorted him to change it for the future. The Goth
was completely subdued.”[2]

The picture of the holy abbot sitting and reading in the doorway is one
which recurs several times in his history, and it is good to know that
the doorway is one of the very few fragments remaining of Benedict’s
home at Monte Cassino. It still contains, I believe, an inscription to
that effect. The Lombard destruction left this archway standing, and
also the little tower whence Benedict’s bell called the monks to work
and prayer. One loves even to touch the stones that knew his presence
at Monte Cassino. Subiaco is full of him indeed, but it was at Monte
Cassino that his greatest work was done; over its foreseen destruction
he wept bitterly and it was there that he died.

A yet more notable encounter than the one with Galla took place at
the arched doorway, in 542, one year before Benedict’s death. Totila,
the Ostrogoth, swept down through Italy to retrieve the losses and
defeats inflicted on his predecessor by Belisarius. It was a triumphal
progress. He was on his way to Naples when the whim took him to see for
himself the venerated prophet of the holy mountain. But first he wished
to test the prophet’s powers. So he caused the captain of his guard to
be dressed in all his own royal robes, down to the famous purple boots,
gave him three noble counts for his attendants and a great escort of
soldiers, and told him to go and pass himself off on Benedict as the
real Totila. We are not informed how the unlucky captain regarded his
mission—probably with fear and reluctance—but it failed dismally. As
he approached the monastery St. Benedict perceived him from afar and
called out: “My son, put off the dress you wear! It is not yours.”

The captain, terrified, threw himself on the ground. Then re-mounting,
he and his whole company turned round and galloped away at full speed
to tell Totila that it was useless to attempt to deceive the man of
God. And Totila understood, and came himself, very humbly, and saw
the Abbot sitting as usual in the doorway, reading a holy book. The
conqueror was afraid. He threw himself face downward on the sward and
dared not approach. Three times Benedict bade him rise—still he lay
prone. Then the Saint left his seat and came and raised Totila up and
led him to the house and talked long and earnestly with him, reproving
him for the wrong he had done and showing him that he must treat his
conquered subjects kindly and justly. Also, St. Benedict, mercifully
moved thereto by the sincerity of the Barbarian, told him what lay in
store for him: “You shall enter Rome; you shall cross the sea; nine
years you shall reign, and in the tenth you shall die.”

And Totila repented of his many evil deeds and begged the seer to
pray for him, and went back to his camp a changed man. Thenceforth he
protected the weak, restrained his followers, and showed himself so
mild and wise that the delighted Neapolitans, who had been expecting
a repetition of the awful massacres ordered by Belisarius, said that
Totila treated them as if they were his own children. From that time
the tenth year was ever before his eyes, and when it came he died,
contrite and resigned.

One gleam from home was shed on St. Benedict at Monte Cassino. His
sister Scholastica had long since followed his example and given
herself to God. It was not permitted to women to take the final vows
before the age of forty, but that did not prevent them from preparing
for the irrevocable dedication by living together in religious
communities, under a fixed rule, from their early youth, when they
were so inclined. Such a life Scholastica had led, somewhere in the
solitudes of the Sabines—perhaps in her own home at Norcia; but she
came at last to Monte Cassino and built a convent there for herself
and her companions, so as to be near the brother she loved. Only once
a year did they meet, and then they spent the day together in a hut
on the side of Benedict’s mountain, he coming down with a few of the
brethren, and she accompanied by some of the nuns. All their discourse
was of holy things and much they spoke of the longed-for joys of

Now, in the year 543, they had thus passed the day together and evening
was drawing on. St. Benedict rose, saying that he and his companions
must return to the monastery, but Scholastica, for the first time in
all those years, begged him to remain with her till the morning. The
Saint was horrified. “Do you not know, my sister,” he exclaimed, “that
the Rule forbids a monk to pass the night out of the monastery? How can
you ask me to do such a thing?”

Scholastica did not reply. She bowed her head on her hands on the
table that had served for their repast and wept, praying to God that
her brother might stay, for she knew that they were to meet no more in
this world. She wept so heartbrokenly that her tears flooded the table
and made little rivers on the ground. It was a mild February evening,
and the sun had sunk away from a calm and cloudless sky. But suddenly
a fearful tempest arose, the thunder roared, the rain came down in
torrents, the lightning seared the heavens from side to side.

“Sister, what have you done?” St. Benedict exclaimed, fearing that the
storm was a manifestation of the Divine displeasure.

Scholastica raised her head and smiled at him through her tears. “God
has granted what you refused,” she said. “Go back to the monastery now,
brother, if you can!”

But there was no going back through that tempest, and St. Benedict,
perceiving that the Lord was on Scholastica’s side, stayed with her
till morning, and they had great sweetness of holy converse all night
long. And when the sun rose, Scholastica asked for his blessing and
said farewell for the last time, and she and her nuns went down the
hill to their own convent, looking back many times, I think, to that
other one on the hill. And three days later she died, and her brother
saw her soul mount to Heaven under the appearance of a spotless dove,
and he called his monks and said to them, with great rejoicing: “My
sister is with God. Go and bring her body hither that we may bury it
with honour.” Which they did, and Benedict made her a grave at the foot
of the altar in his Church.

Now he knew that his own end was approaching, and he disposed all
things rightly, and mightily exhorted his brethren to persevere and
to be faithful to their Rule. And he more than ever afflicted his body
with penance and abounded in charity to the poor. And thirty-four days
after Scholastica had departed, a great fever seized him, so that he
had no strength and suffered much. But he never ceased from praying
and bade all his monks pray that God would have mercy on his soul.
On the sixth day of the fever he bade them carry him into the Church,
where he had already caused his sister’s grave to be opened to receive
him. There, on the edge of the grave, supported by his disciples, he
received the Holy Viaticum, and then bade them lift him to his feet. He
stretched out his arms, praised God once more for all His goodness, and
died—_standing_, like the gallant warrior he was!

They buried him beside Scholastica. Two of his monks, whom he had sent
forth on a mission, were very far away from Monte Cassino when they
saw, in the dead of night, a vast number of the stars of heaven run
together to form a great bridge of light towards the east. A voice
spoke to them, saying, “By this road, Benedict, the beloved of God, has
ascended to Heaven.”



  Birth and Lineage of St. Gregory—Path from the World to the
  Cloister—Prayer, Study, and Charity—His Cat—A Prophecy—A
  Cardinal Deacon—Mission to Constantinople—Eutyches’
  Heresy—Rome in Pestilence—Gregory Elected Pope—His Unbelievable
  Accomplishments—His Life as Pope—Championship of the Oppressed—Bond
  with English-speaking People—The Great Procession During the
  Pestilence—Gregory’s Successors.

Three years before St. Benedict and his sister Scholastica passed
away, there was born, in a palace on the Cœlian Hill, a child who was
christened Gregory, a name which signified “Vigilant.” His lineage was
exceedingly illustrious, his parents belonging to the great old Gens
Anicia, a family of nobles which had been respected and honoured ever
since the days of the Republic, and in which, to use the words of a
chronicler of Gregory’s time, “the men seemed all to have been born
Consuls, and the women Saints.”

Gregory’s mother was St. Silvia, and I have seen the garden on the
quiet Cœlian Hill where as a child he ran about at her side, asking
a thousand questions, as clever children will, while she tended her
flowers and gathered healing herbs—the “basilica” and “Madrecara” and
“erba della Madonna” still dear to Roman apothecaries—to make into
medicines for the sick poor who thronged her charitable doors. Mothers
see a long way, and, while Gregory’s father was planning a great career
in the world for his only son, Silvia was praying that God would keep
him pure, and make him great in His sight. And her prayers prevailed,
as mothers’ prayers generally do, and, though she had to wait a little,
she lived to see their fulfilment.

As the boy grew up he threw himself heart and soul into his father’s
plans; he studied hard, and his naturally brilliant gifts brought him
much distinction. He rejoiced in all the pleasant things that birth and
wealth had bestowed on him—good looks, popularity, rich garments, and
sparkling jewels—and no doubt was immensely pleased and flattered when,
being still quite young, he was made Proctor of Rome. That charge,
however, was a grave one at the time, as the Lombards, the most cruel
and brutal of all the savage tribes that had threatened the Eternal
City, chose the period of Gregory’s proctorship to descend upon her
and make her feel the weight of their heavy hand. There were religious
troubles, too, and Gregory, who through all his busy official life in
the world was an ardent Christian, was deeply exercised and distressed
by them. But the world was only to claim him for a little while, in his
early manhood. Then he was withdrawn from it to be prepared, through
many long years of prayer and penance and study, to step forth towards
the end of his life as its rescuer and ruler. Little by little the
inner call came, faint at first, sometimes resisted, but ever stronger,
till Gregory understood and obeyed.

His heart had gone out at once to the Benedictine monks, when, on the
destruction of Monte Cassino by the Lombards, they had sought refuge
in Rome. Some of them became his most intimate friends and their
encouragement smoothed his path from the world to the cloister. From
the moment when he recognised and embraced his vocation, all hesitation
left him. He sold all his goods, distributed the larger part to the
poor, and, as if to atone for what the Lombards had destroyed, built
and endowed six new monasteries, placing twelve Benedictines in each,
in Sicily. That done, he converted his home on the Cœlian into a
seventh, where he gathered another community about him, of the same
learned Order. His father was dead, and his mother, on becoming a
widow, had already built a convent close by, where she had taken the
veil herself.

Gregory now devoted himself to three things—prayer, study, and charity.
For his own use—he was quickly elected abbot of the monastery—he
reserved a small cell, where he could enjoy the solitude he now so
greatly desired, but—a delightfully human touch!—he could not get
on without his favourite cat, and one can see him, in imagination,
pausing from his writing to smooth her velvety head when she sprang
upon the table and rubbed it against his cheek! I had a little cat once
who would sit motionless on a chair beside me all night while I was
writing, but the instant I laid down the pen she was on my lap or my
shoulder, talking in her own way, most intelligently and cheeringly; so
I was mightily pleased when I read about St. Gregory’s cat!

The Benedictine Rule provided for all hospitality to strangers and
the poor, but at the same time directed that the monks themselves were
not to be disturbed from prayer and study. St. Gregory, however, seems
to have received all who wished to see him, perhaps as an exercise of
patience. Now there was a poor ship-wrecked sailor who seemed inclined
to abuse the privilege. He came again and again, and was never turned
away, but on the occasion of what proved to be his last visit Gregory
had not a single thing left to give him. He was looking round his rough
cell in perplexity, when a messenger appeared bringing the silver
basin full of porridge, which was the only food he allowed himself
and which his mother sent him every day! Here was what was needed!
The next moment the needy sailor man was walking away with the hot
porridge and the silver porringer. What St. Silvia said when she heard
of the incident has not been recorded—but Gregory never gave the matter
another thought until one day, long after, when the importunate sailor
appeared to him in his true character, that of an Angel of light,
and told him that God had taken note of his charity and—an alarming
prophecy for the Saint—that he would be elected Pope and do great
things for the Church.

All he asked was to be left quiet in his monastery, where he was
putting his whole heart into living the life of a model monk. In his
ardour against himself, he carried his penances too far and fasted so
rigorously that he came near to dying—an imprudence for which he paid
ever after in broken health and in being debarred from fasting at all.
He complains pitifully of having to “drag about such a big body with
so little strength,” but this was the least of the trials that awaited

In the year 577, when Gregory was about thirty-seven years of age, the
reigning Pope, Benedict I, sent for him and insisted upon making him
one of the Cardinal Deacons to whom was entrusted the jurisdiction of
the seven “Regions” into which the city was divided. Gregory protested,
but had to take on the charge, and from that time forward he belonged
less to himself than to others. He was too necessary and valuable to
be spared. The next year, Pope Benedict being dead, his successor,
Pelagius II, decided to send Gregory on a very difficult and important
mission to the Emperor Tiberius Constantinus at Constantinople, where
trouble of all kinds seemed to be brewing. Although Gregory bewails
this “thrusting out from port into the storm,” one cannot but feel how
the alert fighting spirit in the man leaps to the call. The born leader
may persuade himself that he is happiest in the seclusion he thinks
good for his soul, but when the call to arms comes every repressed
fibre of his being wakes and cries for action.

When Gregory, taking with him several of his monks, sailed away from
Italy, he little dreamed that years were to pass before he should
return. On his arrival in Constantinople, the first matter to claim his
attention was the ugly new heresy started by Eutyches, who had drawn
the Emperor and many others into the path of error by declaring that
there was to be no resurrection of the flesh. Gregory was politely
received by the Emperor, and instantly requested the latter to call a
conference in which the dogma should be discussed. Tiberius consented,
and there followed the famous conference in which Gregory’s fiery
eloquence and invincible logic quashed the heresy at once. When he
had finished speaking, the Emperor commanded that a fire should be
lighted, and with his own hands and in the presence of a vast concourse
burnt the book which Eutyches had written to propound the heresy, and
declared himself now and for ever the faithful son of the Church.
Eutyches, touched to the heart by Gregory’s arguments, accepted
defeat and rebuke as but small punishment for his fault, and when he
was dying, soon afterwards, pulled up the skin of one poor emaciated
hand with the fingers of the other and cried to those around him,
“I confess that in this flesh we shall rise from the dead!” Gregory
proved a successful ambassador in every way. The relations between the
Church and the imperial court had been badly interrupted by the Lombard
invasion, but he welded them smoothly and firmly together. Tiberius
died while Gregory was in Constantinople, and his successor, Maurice,
was badly disposed to the Church. Gregory brought him to a better mind
and obliged him to rescind an edict he had just issued forbidding any
member of the army to embrace the monastic life.

At last, after six years of what must have been the most anxious work,
requiring all that the great man had of wisdom and firmness and tact,
he returned to Italy—to find his beloved Rome in terrible distress from
a visitation of the pestilence. Gregory at once devoted himself to the
care of the sick and dying, and one can fancy how the poor people’s
eyes lighted up when he appeared among them again. Then the good Pope
Pelagius succumbed to the disease, and at once all eyes turned to
Gregory, who was unanimously elected as his successor.

Gregory was honestly horrified. He refused, he pleaded, he argued, but
no one would listen to him. Then he fled. Disguised as a peasant, he
slipped away and hid himself in a secret cave in the hills, entreating
the Lord to protect him from the awful honour which his fellow-citizens
wished to thrust upon him. They meanwhile were searching for him in
every direction, and would have failed in their quest had not Heaven
put itself visibly on their side. From very far off they beheld a tall
pillar of light resting before the fugitive’s cave—they rushed to it,
dragged him forth, and made him Pope. Seeing that his fellow-citizens
would not listen to him, he wrote to the Emperor Maurice, begging him
not to confirm the election, but the Romans intercepted the letter;
the Emperor was informed of the election in the usual way and was
only too glad to give it the imperial sanction, still required then
from Constantinople. For once the “Vox Populi” had proved itself what
it never is, nowadays, the “Vox Dei,” and for fourteen years Gregory
reigned, in virtue and wisdom and glory, for the everlasting good
of the people of God. Every gift that Heaven had bestowed upon him
vindicated its unerring designs. He accomplished in those fourteen
years so many wonderful things that cold sense almost refuses its
adherence to the visible facts. His colossal labours for the Church
gave us the Gregorian chant, the Sacramentary of the missal, and the
Breviary; his correspondence, so vast that, like Napoleon and Julius
Cæsar, he is supposed to have dictated to several secretaries at once,
embraces every point that required treating of at home and abroad. His
sermons, day after day, instructed the ignorant in the plain truths
of salvation, while they no less amazed and illuminated the minds
of the most learned; and through it all his soul was never disturbed
from the calm heights of union with God, his heart never closed to a
single cry from the suffering and the weary. The much abbreviated list
of “some of his labours,” as the Breviary puts it, would stagger the
grasp of any modern scholar or ruler. In a few lines he is shown to us
reëstablishing the Catholic Faith in many places where it had suffered,
repressing the Donatists in Africa, the Arians in Spain, expelling
the Agnostics from Alexandria, and refusing the “Pallium” (the sign of
pontifical investiture) to Syagrius, the Bishop-elect of Autun, until
he had turned the “heretic Neophytes”[3] out of Gaul; quelling the
audacity of John, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who had dared to
call himself the “Head of the Universal Church,” and so on, preaching,
writing, praying, and through it all suffering constantly and acutely.

There is a legend to the effect that all these pains and sicknesses
had been voluntarily accepted in order to deliver a certain soul from
Purgatory. The legend is only a legend, unsupported by the authority of
the Church—but it would have been just like St. Gregory to do it!

In every public or private trouble or upheaval, as well as in every
effort to reorganise and restore, his name, his presence is dominant.
After becoming Pope, he lived chiefly at the Lateran palace, then the
official Papal residence, and they still keep there the narrow pallet
that served him for a bed, and—mark this, ye modern schoolboys!—the
little rod which he had to use to keep his dark-eyed, rampageous young
choristers in order!

The men who can govern others with the most unerring wisdom are often
entirely mistaken in their appreciation of themselves. Only the other
day the local and most successful Superior of a great missionary
order in America was bewailing his fate to me. “I told the Bishop he
was making a dreadful mistake in making me the Rector,” he declared.
“It is not my work—I was not intended to govern and lead! I am a born
free-lance—I want to travel all over the country seeking out the lost
souls. I am no good at anything else!”

But the Bishop knew better; and so it was with the great crowd
of clergy and laity who designated Gregory for the Papacy. What
he accomplished during his pontificate has been well summed up
by Montalembert: “Gregory, who alone amongst men has received, by
universal consent, the double surname of Saint and Great, will be an
everlasting honour to the Benedictine order, as to the Papacy. By his
genius, but especially by the charm and ascendency of his virtue, he
was destined to organise the temporal power of the Popes, to develop
and regulate their spiritual sovereignty, to found their paternal
supremacy over the new-born crowns and races which were to become
the great nations of the future, and to be called France, Spain, and
England. It was he, indeed, who inaugurated the middle ages, modern
society, and Christian civilisation.” The task he undertook was a
gigantic one, for on the one side he had to contend with the exactions
and oppressions of the corrupt and decrepit Byzantine Emperors who
were still the nominal rulers of Rome and his own secular masters; on
the other, with the great new forces let loose on the world in the
increasing vigour and supremacy of the Lombards and other northern
nations, more than half barbarous still, but, as Gregory clearly
perceived, possessed of an intelligence and vitality which only
required training and instruction to grow into great, new polities
which would replace the already dead Roman Empire.

To appreciate his labours one would have to read that colossal
correspondence which has fortunately been preserved entire. Besides the
mighty matters of Church and Empire which it sets forth, there shows
all through the most tender and minute care for the lower and therefore
unprotected classes, as well as for individual souls. Slavery, in every
form, excited Gregory’s generous indignation, and his most earnest
efforts were devoted to restoring slaves to the rank of human beings.
The peasants on the great, estates were serfs—practically slaves. He
decreed that their marriages should be inviolable, their property their
own, their wills valid; that wherever possible the Church revenues
should be devoted to buying the freedom of slaves and that never, on
any plea, should Christians be sold to Jews or pagans. At the same time
he enacted that neither Jews nor pagans should be baptised by force,
and commanded that the synagogues of the Jews should be restored to
them and that they should be allowed freedom of worship. Always humble
and diffident about asking anything for himself, it is amusing to find
him severely reprimanding a Bishop who had authorised or permitted
extortionate exactions to be practised against an obscure farmer in
Sardinia, and at the same time writing meekly to the overseer of some
ecclesiastical property in Sicily—a stud farm where were kept four
hundred stallions: “You have sent me one bad horse and four asses. I
cannot ride the horse, because it is bad, nor the asses, because they
are asses. If you would assist to sustain me, send me something that I
can use!”

But, after all, the special bond between St. Gregory and
English-speaking peoples lies in the memorable act by which England was
evangelised, after the Faith first planted there had been annihilated
by the pagan Barbarians, Saxons, Angles, Scandinavians, to whom
she fell an easy prey when Rome withdrew its protecting legions and
abandoned her to her fate.

It is rather sweet to know that it was the fair, innocent beauty of
a group of English children, standing, dazed and frightened, in the
market to be sold, that first touched his heart to such warm pity for
their country. He was then living as the abbot of the community he had
founded on the Cœlian Hill, and enough has been said to show how happy
he was in his quiet life there.

It must have been some unusual necessity which took him far down
into the town on a certain day and through the noisy, crowded slave
market. But on seeing the children, with their blue eyes full of tears
and their long golden hair shining in the sun, everything else was
forgotten; he stopped abruptly to ask who they were.

“Angles, from the isle of Britain,” was the answer, given indifferently
enough. The keeper knew that the big, dark-faced monk was not a

“Angles! They are born to be angels!” cried Gregory, and straightway
he flew to the Pope and besought permission to go with some of his
monks to Britain to preach the Gospel. The Pope, taken by surprise,
consented, and before he had time to think over the matter Gregory,
with his volunteers, had put three days of travelling between himself
and Rome. Then the news leaked out, and the people rose like one
man and rushed to the Pope, who was on his way to St. Peter’s, and,
arresting his progress, burst into indignant cries: “You have offended
St. Peter! You have ruined Rome in allowing Gregory to leave us!”

Pelagius saw his mistake and sent messengers in all haste to call
Gregory back. Of course he obeyed; he never forgot England, but it
was only in the sixth year of his own pontificate (596) that he could
carry out his design, and then he could not himself take part in the
expedition. He found a noble substitute in St. Augustine, and it must
have been with a glad heart that he sent him forth, and gave him and
his forty Benedictines the final blessing, as they knelt (so we are
told) on the grassy stretch below the steps of Gregory’s own convent
on the Cœlian Hill. The grass grows there still; still the green trees
shadow the enclosure called St. Gregory’s park, through which one
approaches the Church, and still the flowers bloom in Silvia’s garden
where he played as a little boy. Even modern Rome has been loath to
encroach on the place so dear to him who loved Rome so much.

I have often wondered what became of the little English children he
saw and, seeing, loved. Surely he rescued them and placed them with
kind people to be cared for. His quick notice of them reminds one of
our own Pius IX, who could never pass an English child without stopping
to bless it, and, while blessing the child, to pray for England, whom
Augustine and his companions made “the Isle of Saints” and the “Dowry
of Mary.” Poor England! she threw her glory to the winds at the command
of an adulterous King and his unspeakable daughter, and, now that
even the moth-eaten rags of her heresies will no longer hold together,
dares to call her crumbling simulacrum of a Church the “Church of Saint
Augustine”! _That_ never died, in reality; and all honour to those of
her children who, through three hundred years of abominable persecution
and oppression, kept the Faith, and prepared the way for its splendid
renaissance to-day!

One more picture of St. Gregory must close this humble sketch of his
great life. As already related, after he had been elected Pope he
sent a letter to the Emperor Maurice, imploring him not to confirm the
decision of the people. And just then, as if jealous of all the good
work that was going forward, the Powers of Evil let loose a terrible
outbreak of the pestilence in Rome. They could not touch the spiritual
city—Rome invisible, the Sanctuary of the Faith, but the material
one seemed to be delivered into their hands and terrible were its
sufferings. Poverty and neglect, and the ruin of ceaseless wars, had
made it vulnerable at every point; the pestilence had swept it again
and again, but this was the most frightful visitation of all. Gregory
and his monks, and many other charitable persons, devoted themselves
to the sick and dying; the lazarets and hospitals were crowded—every
day with new sufferers as the dead were carried out; but it became
impossible to bury the dead fast enough. Neither prayer nor effort
seemed of any avail, and dull despair settled on all hearts. Apparently
this was to be the end.

Then Gregory instituted the first of those great processions which, in
moments of stress, have moved across the pages of history ever since,
awing us a little by the whole-hearted faith and trust of our ancestors
in the mercy of Heaven. Gregory decreed that all, Clergy and Laity,
who could stand on their feet should put on the garments of penitence
and follow him through the stricken streets to pray at the Tomb of St.
Peter. And all who could obeyed like one man. What a sight that must
have been when the Saint, “the strong, dark-faced man of heavy build,”
led his afflicted people from the “Mother of Churches” at the Lateran
Gate down past all the ruined pomp of the Palatine and the Colosseum
and the Forum towards the river and the great Basilica of Constantine
beyond! How the response of the Major Litanies must have thundered
up from all those breaking hearts to the “skies of brass” that hung
over Rome! The ever-repeated “Te rogamus, audi nos!” and “Libera nos,
Domine” even now bring tears to one’s eyes with their almost despairing
simplicity; _then_ they were the last appeals of a crushed and ruined
race for one more chance to repent and atone for its heaped misdeeds.
And the chance was granted. As the endless procession moved along
towards St. Peter’s its leader paused before the Mausoleum of Hadrian,
that huge monument of pagan ambition, and raised his eyes and heart in
supplication, offering we know not what of his own life and destiny for
his people’s sins.

Suddenly he stood transfigured. The chanting ceased; all eyes followed
Gregory’s gaze, all ears were strained to catch the heavenly melody
that floated, high and clear, fresh as the song of birds at dawn, over
the sorrowing city:

    “Regina Cœli laetare,
    Quia quem meruisti portare,
    Resurrexit, sicut dixit!”

It was the chant of the Resurrection!

“Alleluia, Alleluia!” came the sequel in one burst from that great
multitude, as the angels’ voices grew fainter and were lost in the
depths overhead. And then, on hearts bursting now with relief and joy,
there fell the awe that mortals feel in the presence of the Heavenly
Ones, for there, on the summit of the towering fortress, stood the
radiant Archangel—and he was sheathing his flaming sword.

The pestilence was over. Once more God had had mercy on His people.
And, since the angels’ song was addressed to the Queen of Heaven, we
know that it was she whose prayers had stayed the arm that had clung
round her neck in Bethlehem.

St. Gregory passed to his reward on the 12th of March, 604, having
reigned nearly fourteen years. The mourning city chose Sabinianus
of Volterra to succeed him, but only three years had elapsed when
Sabinianus in his turn made place for a Boniface (III), who lived but
one year after his election, and then came another Boniface, a Saint,
a strong man of the Abruzzi, and in his reign the world found out
that, though imperial Rome was indeed dead, the Rome that Gregory and
Benedict and their fellow-workers had planted on her grave during that
century of apparent eclipse had taken root below and shot out branches
above and had become as a mighty tree affording guidance, shelter, and
sustenance to the whole Christian world.

Each of the great Popes seems to have had a special mission to fulfil,
one that coloured all his acts and sheds its individual lustre on his
memory. No doubt or hesitation seems to accompany the acceptance and
fulfilment of it. Boniface’s mission bade him place the seal of visible
Christianity on the city and consecrate it to the Faith for all time.
It was Boniface, the fourth of that name, who decreed and carried out
the Triumph of which I spoke in a preceding chapter. But it is a big
subject and it must have a chapter to itself.



  The Pantheon—Hadrian’s Best Monument—Long Idle—Consecrated as St.
  Mary of the Martyrs—The Cathedral, the Symbol of the Soul—Its
  Purification—Continuity of the Church—A Priest’s Visit—The
  Alabaster Square—Procession of the Martyrs’ Relics—Giovanni Borgi,
  the Workman—Italian Guilds—Giovanni’s Selflessness—His Rescue of
  the Forsaken Children—Care of Them—Crusade in Behalf of All the
  Waifs of Rome—His Work of Love—Giovanni’s Successor, Later Pius IX.

If you stand before San Pietro in Montorio and look down from the
spot where St. Peter was crucified, you will see, rounding up in the
low-lying heart of the city, a dome, white, huge, uncrowned, standing
out from the darker buildings round it like an enormous mother-of-pearl
shell, softly iridescent, yet, when storm is in the air, taking on a
grey and deathlike hue. That is the Pantheon, and thus it has stood,
reflecting every mood of the Roman sky, since the days of Hadrian,
who became Emperor in the year 117. Hadrian built the magic dome, but
it is not his name that stands out in the gigantic lettering on the
pediment over the portico. Ninety years before his time Marcus Agrippa,
the intimate friend and (for his sins!) the son-in-law of Augustus,
erected a magnificent temple close to the Baths which still bear his
name in the Campus Martius, the field of which my brother has told the
touching story in “Ave, Roma Immortalis.” Agrippa must have forgotten
to properly propitiate the gods; we moderns should say that he “had
no luck,” for his gorgeous temple was soon struck by lightning and
presented a forlorn appearance when Hadrian, that enthusiastic builder,
decided to restore it.

This he did on his usual princely scale; when he had done with it, the
Pantheon (properly “Pantheum,” all-holy) must indeed have dazzled the
eyes of the beholders, for the dome was entirely covered with tiles
of gilt bronze that under the rays of the sun made it seem a second
sun that had come to rest on earth. The gilt tiles were stripped off
in 663 by a greedy little Emperor, Constans II, who took them away to
Syracuse, whence the Saracens successfully looted them a few years
afterwards. So the thing that looks like mother-of-pearl is really
only covered with sheets of lead—but even lead, when the Heavens have
looked on it long enough, may become a thing of life and beauty. When
Hadrian had finished his building there was nothing left of Agrippa’s
original one except the portico; but Hadrian, with rare moderation,
left the original founder’s name on that. The Pantheon, which is called
by archæologists “the most perfect pagan monument in Rome,” seems to
have been, in its beginnings, unfortunate, for only sixty-four years
after Hadrian’s death it again stood sadly in need of repair, if we may
believe the magniloquent inscription left on its front by Septimius
Severus and his son Caracalla, when they had carried out their pious
designs of further restoration.

But it remains Hadrian’s best monument, substantially what he made it,
a vast and perfect round under a vast and perfect dome, a place where
the winds of Heaven may sweep down from the central opening—thirty feet
across—overhead, and circle round the wide well of the interior and
rise to the sky again without having encountered the shock of a single
angle on their way. And for more than seventeen hundred and fifty
years the rain has fallen and the sun has shone and the stars have
looked down on Hadrian’s pavement through the great opening, whence
worshippers now, like the worshippers in his time, could raise their
eyes and thoughts to the vault of Heaven above. But for two hundred
years—as if to partly balance the three centuries of persecution which
had preceded them—the Pantheum was closed and none were permitted
to pray there, two hundred years during which the silence was never
broken, and stars and sun and winds had their way in the stupendous,
empty fane. It was the Emperor Honorius of inglorious memory who closed
and sealed its bronze doors—the same that guard it now, (and perhaps
this and a few other such acts, which showed him at heart a sincere
believer, should be remembered to his attenuated credit)—preferring to
have it abandoned altogether rather than used for the service of idols.
And so it stood, a beautiful reproach, from 399 to 609, when our Pope
Boniface told the Emperor Phocas that it was a burning shame not to
wash it of pagan stains and consecrate it a Church of the Lord.

Phocas—that blood-stained figure who emerges now and then to surprise
us by some memorable action—said the Pope was right, and gave him
the building to do with it as he liked. And then Boniface carried out
the great plan which must have been simmering in his brain for years.
The temple, built for the seven deities of the seven planets, was to
become the shrine of the bodies of the Saints and be consecrated to
the one True God, under the tide of “St. Mary of the Martyrs.” Under
that perfect dome of exactly equal height and diameter (one hundred and
forty-two feet) he would finally lay to rest all the sacred remains
which were still buried in the Catacombs all round the city. But
there was much to do first. The rich architectural disposition of the
interior required no alteration beyond the erection of a High Altar;
the great window to the sky Boniface would not close; when dust and
rubbish were cleared away the material preparations were over, but
the tremendous ceremony of purification and consecration had yet to
be accomplished. For these the illustrious predecessors of Boniface
had been inspired to draw up a ceremonial of such profound meaning and
glorious diction as remains matchless in the annals of the Liturgy.

We can only see it now with the eyes of the spirit, but, even while
trying to do that, we must not let the magnificence of the external
function make us forget that which the Church so lovingly and
repeatedly impresses upon us—first, that there is but one Sanctuary
_worthy_ of the Most High, His Throne and dwelling in the inaccessible
light of the Fixed Heaven, round which all universes that the human
mind can grasp revolve, like starry spindrift round a living sun; and,
secondly, that the home God has built for Himself on earth and loves
with the most passionate tenderness is the heart of the Christian,
where He will abide for time and eternity if it do not cast Him out.
The chief object of ecclesiastical architecture is to symbolise the
grandeur of the union between the soul and its Creator; as such, and as
the storehouse and dispensary of graces, the banqueting hall where He
feeds us with Himself, the arsenal where He arms us for the combat and
trains us for His soldiers, where, in His surpassing love and mercy, He
deigns to remain in the adorable Eucharist, the consecrated Church is
the crown of human production, and rightly do we strain every nerve to
make it rich and noble and fair.

When that is done, and all that men can give has been lavished on
beautifying and enriching it, it has to be cleansed from every blemish
of earthy contact before it can be offered to the service of God.
When we wander through the Cathedrals of the world—Westminster Abbey,
Strasburg, Notre Dame, Milan—asking ourselves how mere men ever
attained to the production of such beauty and grandeur, do we ever stop
to think that those towering walls were washed from vault to pavement,
within and without, with holy oil, on the day of consecration?

The Cathedral was the symbol of the soul, and every act and prayer of
the ceremonial depicted for our forefathers—so well instructed in the
truths we first take for granted and then forget—the processes by which
God confers on us the gift of immortality. On the eve of the great day
all left the building, the new doors were closed, no step sounded on
the pavement, no voice might break the stillness of the place. It was
a dead thing waiting for life, as the soul that is not united to God
waits, under its inherited burden of sinfulness, for regeneration.

Outside the precincts a great tent has been erected, and here, all
through the night, the Bishop and his assistants have been praying, the
prayers of David the great penitent. All night long the penitential
psalms have been going up, beseeching the Lord to wash away the sins
of His people, His exiles on earth who are waiting without the camp,
and entreating Him to take them into grace and bring them to their
Father’s home. With the first faint light of dawn the prayers cease,
the supplicants arise, and the Bishop puts on his vestments, one by one
and with a special prayer for each, because he thus figures the Son of
God putting on the garment of our humanity. And because Christ, as man,
prayed to His Father and ours, the Bishop comes forth from the tent and
prostrates himself before the steps of the Church in fervent prayer,
with all his clergy kneeling around him.

Now the natural soul is cold and blind, and closed to Grace; so the
Church stands, unlighted and with fast closed doors. And because the
Spirit of God is all gentleness and mercy, and condescends to most
patient stratagems to capture the heart He covets, the Bishop goes
three times round the great building, praying and knocking softly
at its doors, while the clergy follow him and pray, too, as the
angels pray for us. At last the first barrier falls; the doors open,
reluctantly as it were. The Bishop crosses the threshold saying, “Peace
eternal to this House, in the Name of the Eternal.” The procession
passes within, the shadows swallowing up the gold and crimson of the
vestments that had been sparkling in the sun. A strange sight the empty
Church presents now. On the pavement two broad paths of ashes traverse
its entire length and breadth, in the form of a Greek Cross. The
assistants stand in silent groups while the Bishop, slowly moving down
from the apse to the entrance, and then across from one transept to
the other, traces in the ashes the Latin and Greek alphabets, with his
crozier. Why? Because the first need of the soul is instruction. “How
shall they know except they first be taught?” And, since God will not
take possession of a soul without its own concurrence and consent, it
must know Him before it receives Him.

Knowledge brings the desire for purification from sin, original or
actual; and now the Church, the symbol of the soul, must be purified.
The Bishop mingles wine with water, to denote the Humanity and the
Divinity of Christ; to these he adds ashes to commemorate His death,
and salt as an emblem of His resurrection; the mystic flood is poured
in waves over the Altar, and thence all down the pavement of the
Church, while hundreds of acolytes scale the ladders placed against
the walls and the mystic liquid runs down them in glistening sheets to
mingle with the mimic ripples on the floor. Let it run. When it has
drained away, the holy oil flows golden and fragrant over the carved
and gleaming walls, and pious hands are applying it to the exterior of
the building—sometimes even to its roof—in copious floods. Now indeed
the Church is ready for its destiny, even as the Christian emerges from
Baptism ready for his God. The chants swell louder and sweeter, the
Alleluia rings out triumphantly from a thousand hearts, the incense
sends up its first perfumed spirals to hang among the fretted arches of
the deep vault; the sub-deacons approach the Pontiff and offer for his
blessing the rich vessels and vestments which are the wedding presents
of the Faithful to the new-born Bride of Christ—the House is ready for
the Master and His guests.

The guests are waiting still in the exiles’ tent, with Knights
and Prelates for their Guard of Honour. Such nobility could not be
entertained save in a spotless mansion. Their names? Oh, they had
many—Greek and Latin and Persian and Armenian—besides the “wonderful
new names” that had been given them in Heaven, for these guests were
Holy Martyrs, and their relics were to be placed in the stone of
the High Altar, because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must always
be offered on them to-day, even as when the fervent yet trembling
Christian knelt before their tombs in the Catacombs, and the doomed
Priest asked the Lord to accept the Sacrifice in honour of those whom
perhaps he had laid there an hour before.

Oh, the adorable continuity of the Church! In my eyrie in the Rockies,
one of the loneliest spots on earth, there came to my door quite
unexpectedly one summer evening—it was the 28th of June—a missionary
priest, very tired. He had driven some hundred and fifty miles to get
to us; his game little horses, his buggy, his coat—everything about
him was covered with dust, but his eyes beamed with benevolence as he
said, “I have come to say Mass for you.” We could have kissed his feet.
The next morning, very early, in the sitting-room that was a bower of
wild flowers, my son and I knelt and watched him prepare the altar.
From his worn portmanteau the first thing he drew out was a square of
white alabaster of which the centre had been removed, replaced, and
sealed with a cross sunk into the stone. Very reverently he slipped it
under the white linen “corporal,” lighted the blest candles on either
side—and began “Introibo ad altare Dei.”

The alabaster square contained relics of the Martyrs; and our humble
home-made altar was, through them, His friends, as worthy of Him who
was about to descend upon it as the High Altar of St. Peter’s on that
morning of his Feast in Rome.

When St. Boniface cleansed and consecrated the Pantheon, he showed, in
the name he gave it, that it was to be the shrine of many valiant ones,
a shrine of which, more truly than of any of our battlefields, it could
be said:

    “On Fame’s eternal camping ground
    Their silent tents are spread,
    And glory guards, with solemn round,
    The Bivouac of the Dead!”

But one almost doubts whether the Pontiff himself appreciated the
magnitude of the task he had undertaken. In person he went through the
many Catacombs, for he was resolved that no smallest, humblest hero
of the Lord should miss his share of the final triumph. He had had
great cars prepared, decked with all possible richness, to convey the
precious remains which had so long held the outposts of the city, to
the Pantheon in its very heart; but when he had gone through all the
dark, intricate passages of the underground cemeteries, tapping at the
walls and examining every atom of surface that might conceal a once
proscribed tomb, I think his artificers must have had to build more
chariots for the returning army than they had expected, for it was very
great. At last, however, all was ready. It was the 13th of May, Anno
Domini 609, and a glorious morning, when the converging processions
set forth, met, and entered the city in triumph. The Pontiff in his
splendid vestments led the procession, swelled as it went along by
all the inhabitants of Rome. Long serried ranks of prelates, priests,
and monks followed him, carrying tall lighted tapers that gleamed but
faintly in the Roman sun; the air was sweet with fragrances that grew
stronger as the convoy passed along the flower-strewn streets, and the
perfume of hundreds of censers swung up on the bright air. Rome was
poor then, but the Romans had still found blue and crimson tapestries
to hang from the windows, and every portico and window was crowded with
eager onlookers who, as the procession approached, took up the roar of
welcome with which the city greeted its dead. But I think a hush fell
when the dead came into sight at the turn of the street or the entrance
of the Square, and the enormous cars moved nearer, their dear, terrible
burden piled high above the sides, and covered with silks and flowers,
through which here and there showed just enough of a coffin’s outline
to wring the heart and let loose a rain of tears. “Twenty-seven great
cars, filled with the bones of the Martyrs, did Boniface the Pope bring
to the Pantheum, now consecrated to the Service of God and the honour
of the Blessed Virgin.”

Truly may that splendid temple, open to the sky, claim its title
of “St. Mary of the Martyrs,” and rightly did the Pontiff and his
followers as they brought them in raise the triumphant shout: “The
Saints shall rejoice in their beds! Arise, ye friends of God, and enter
into the glory He has prepared for His elect!”

After all these great names it seems strange to have to record a very
humble one, that of a poor workingman, in connection with the Pantheon,
but I can never pass the famous Church without remembering a certain
Giovanni Borgi, whose memory was held in great benediction in Rome in
my young days.

During the preceding century the city was really in a fairly peaceful
and prosperous condition, but the many institutions of charity which
flourished under Gregory XVI and Pius IX had not reached the point
where they could provide night refuges for its many waifs and vagrants.
There were numbers of poor boys—street arabs, as we should call
them—who wandered about in the daytime, earning a little here and there
but subsisting chiefly on charity and having no fixed dwelling-place of
any kind. To these the broad steps and portico of the Pantheon offered
at least shelter from the weather, and they used to gather there in
crowds after dark and sleep—as boys can sleep—on the stones.

Now there was in Rome, towards 1780 or thereabouts, a poor mason
called Giovanni Borgi. He belonged to the “opera di San Pietro”: that
is, he was one of the workmen engaged for life by the administration
of St. Peter’s for the maintenance and repair of the Basilica, the
Vatican Palace, and its many dependent buildings. The “opera” was a
close corporation and included artisans of every necessary craft, from
mosaic workers to bricklayers, plumbers, and carpenters. Of course
the privileges were largely hereditary, the Italian traditions of
Guilds leading the son to follow the trade or profession of his father
whenever possible, but high character and a blameless record were also
indispensable qualifications for every appointment. Giovanni Borgi,
though poor and almost illiterate, had worked all his life in the holy
places and was regarded by his fellows as very nearly a saint. While
he worked he prayed, and when working hours were over he went regularly
to the great Hospital of Santo Spirito in the “Borgo,” and sat up late
into the night nursing the sick and comforting the dying. The only
reproach ever addressed to him was that he sometimes got sleepy over
his work the morning after some unusually long vigil by the bedside
of some sufferer who had entreated him to remain with him. Everybody
loved the queer little man, and he loved all the world but himself.
To this person he never gave a thought. Heaven had made him short
and stumpy—but he could walk as well as the youngest; he had but one
eye—but its sight was perfect; a funny bald head—but somebody had given
him an old wig to cover it with; what was there to complain about? So,
being empty of itself, his heart had room for others, and he took his
fellow-beings’ wants and sufferings very seriously.

One evening, before going to the hospital, he was accompanying a
religious procession through the streets, when he noticed the dark
forms of a little crowd of sleepers on the steps of the Pantheon.
Coming nearer, he found that they were boys of various ages, ragged
and forlorn, huddled together for warmth, and sound asleep. A little
further on, under the tables where fowls were sold in the daytime,
more of these waifs had taken refuge. The sight grieved the good mason
deeply. He could not pass on and leave them thus. Rousing some of them,
he asked many questions and learnt that not one of them had a home or
a guardian. Orphans, runaway boys from the hill villages, waifs of
one sort and another—here was one of those collections of abandoned
children who would later become criminals unless some kind hand were
stretched out to save them. Giovanni did not hesitate for a moment. He
bade the little crowd follow him to his lodging. There was one of those
great ground-floor rooms only used for storing properties or cattle—no
Roman will sleep near the ground if he can help it, for fear of
fever—and in this barn-like place Giovanni bestowed his ragged guests
after giving them whatever he could beg or buy for their supper.

I do not think he went to the hospital at all that night. I fancy
he sat long in the brick-floored room, staring at the three wicks of
the “lucerna” and begging Heaven to show him what to do next. In the
morning he had to let his flock out, promising them some supper if they
would come back at nightfall and exhorting them to be good meanwhile.
The poor little creatures needed no second invitation and turned up
faithfully, their numbers swelled by others to whom they had spoken
of their good luck. Giovanni saw that he would soon have a community
on his hands, and went to tell some priests, who were his friends,
that he must be helped to teach and govern, as well as to maintain the
forsaken children. For their food—breakfast and supper—he begged, and
the kind-hearted neighbours responded generously. His first care was to
teach them the Catechism, sitting among them in the evening and getting
them to talk about themselves; he also taught them what little he knew
of reading and writing; but it hurt him sorely to turn them out to face
all the temptations of the streets during the daytime.

Very soon, the priests and some other charitable persons raised money
to rent a part of an old palace, somewhat in ill-repair, but providing
luxurious quarters in comparison to the Church steps and the fowl
market. The priests offered to devote their evenings to teaching the
boys, and found their efforts well rewarded, for the waifs, under
the kind, firm rule of old Giovanni, were eager to make the best
of their wonderful new advantages. He very soon solved the question
of occupation during the daytime by placing them out in a number of
workshops, where they could learn useful trades and earn something
towards their own maintenance. He sent them out in the morning, giving
each a loaf of bread to take with him for dinner; then he went to his
own work at St. Peter’s. During the dinner hour he would rush round
from one workshop to another to see that his “children” were behaving
themselves and that none had played truant. Then in the evening he
would go and fetch those of whose steadfastness he had any doubts, and
by nightfall the whole big family was safely housed in the corner of
the old Palazzo.

Whatever they had earned during the day had to be rendered up to “Tata
Giovanni” (Daddy John), as they had come to call him, and very dearly
they came to love their queer, kind protector. Old people used to
describe his taking them all out to Villa Borghese on holidays, and
said it was wonderful to see the old fellow flying round, playing ball
with the rest, his wig all awry and his mighty laugh showing how happy
he was with his children.

His good work had found friends and supporters from the beginning,
and, being brought to the notice of Pius VI, the Pontiff bought the
Palazzo Ruggia as a permanent home for it and constituted himself its
chief protector. Thus encouraged, Tata Giovanni started on a crusade
which had for its object nothing less than the reclamation of all the
good-for-nothing boys in Rome! He used to seek them out and follow them
up, and if persuasion proved unavailing the dogged old man would seize
them by the arm and march them off to his “Asilo” without more ado.
Vagrancy, mendicancy, gambling roused his ire to such an extent that
his name became a terror to all youthful evildoers, and they would fly
at the mere mention of it. Life at the Asilo was conducted on lines
of military precision. The youngsters rose early, heard Mass, got a
good breakfast, and marched away to their work, where, as I have said,
their guardian looked in on some of them—and they never knew which it
would be —during the course of the day. When the Ave Maria rang they
all came home, and as they passed into the house Tata Giovanni stood at
the door with a bag in his hand, and into this they had to drop their
earnings—not a baiocco was to be spent on the way or kept back!

Then came the lessons, followed by the rosary, and supper, this last
the crown of the day for the tired, healthy young people. The old
ideals still found many followers in those days, and it was not at all
unusual to see some great Cardinal “gird himself with a towel” and
trot humbly a score of times between the kitchen and the refectory
to wait on the boys. There were a hundred of them by this time, and
great was Daddy John’s preoccupation as to their morals. Long inured to
shortening his hours of sleep, he would pace the dormitories all night
long to see that all was as it should be, only sleeping himself for a
short hour in the morning; and certainly Heaven blessed his efforts,
for as years went on, and his waifs grew old enough to go out into the
world on their own account and others took their places, not one that I
ever heard of brought discredit on his education.

The sick at the hospital were not forgotten amid all these new labours
and responsibilities; Tata Giovanni (no one ever called him anything
else) went to them whenever he could, and, when he could not, he would
send some of the older boys in his place, thus teaching them the lesson
which had been the moral of his whole life—that no one must live for
himself alone, and that the poorest and most ignorant can always find
some sufferer to cheer and console. He died at last—the good, humble
old workman—fifteen years after he had strayed from the procession to
inspect the ragged sleepers on the steps of the Pantheon. He passed
away on the 28th of June, 1798. The whole city mourned for him, and
his boys were broken-hearted. His work of love had become a public
institution and incorporated with another, of the same kind, lived till
a few years ago, when it was swept aside and swallowed up with hundreds
of other beneficent foundations in the “indiscriminate brigandage” of
Rome’s latest rulers.

Several years after Tata Giovanni’s death a young gentleman of noble
birth, who came from Sinigaglia, was appointed the director of the
Asilo. It was not a distinguished appointment by any means; of course
no salary was attached to the position—it was not till the recent
laïcisation of charity that any but unpaid volunteers attended to the
wants of the poor in the Eternal City. That made no difference to this
handsome young man, for he came of a wealthy family, but his father,
who had had great ambitions for his son, was by no means pleased to
see him buried in an orphan asylum. The young man himself was suffering
under great despondency. He desired with all his heart to be a priest,
but his health was so bad that the Bishop did not think it wise to
ordain him. As a child he had suffered a severe shock from falling
into the water and narrowly escaping drowning, and ever since his
early youth he had suffered from sharp attacks of epilepsy, terrible
in themselves and yet more terrible in the constant dread that hung
over their victim, who never knew when he might be struck down by the
fearful visitation.

Very gladly did Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti of Sinigaglia accept
the charge of the Asilo which he had already constantly visited as a
helper and instructor. And here, for four years, he who was to become
Pius IX lived with the orphans, subsisted on their rough fare, and
devoted all his powers to making forsaken lads into good Christians
and useful citizens. Workshops were now installed in the Asilo itself,
and the higher arts went hand in hand with humble trades, each boy’s
talent and inclinations being carefully observed and consulted. Many
good artists and good workmen were given to the world by the orphanage
which had such humble beginnings, but for many of us its chief interest
lies in its connection with the Pope, to whom it furnished the first
opportunity of developing those gifts of organisation and command that
later served humanity so well. Here he waited, a humble postulant on
the threshold of the priesthood; here he prayed, as we know, those
fervent, almost heart-broken prayers, that God would remove the
infirmity which darkened his life and barred his way to the Altar; it
was to his little room in the Asilo that he was brought back one night,
apparently dying, having been struck down by one of those fearful
attacks in the street. From here he used to go, day after day, to one
or another of the city’s holy places to pray for relief or resignation;
from here he started on the pilgrimage to Loreto, where the first light
broke across the darkness and he received the Divine assurance that
his prayers were heard, that the affliction was about to pass away. It
was, finally, in the little Church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami (St.
Joseph of the Carpenters), close to the Orphanage of Tata Giovanni,
that he said his first Mass, on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1819. It was
a very quiet affair, only a few near relations and his beloved orphans
assisting at it. His uncle, Paulinus, who was a Canon of St. Peter’s
and who had been his tutor in sacred studies, stood beside him all
through, for the Pope had only consented to the young man’s ordination
on condition that he would never celebrate the Holy Mysteries unless
accompanied by another priest. This command the Pontiff rescinded soon
afterwards at Father Mastai’s earnest request. He felt assured that
his malady would trouble him no more, and Pius VII, in reply, said,
“I also believe that, my son.” From that moment, during his long and
eventful life, Giovanni Maria Mastai never suffered from any recurrence
of the attacks which had, to outward seeming, saddened so many years
of his life, but in reality had preserved and prepared him for his true



  Birth in 1792—A Happy Family—His Youth—Epilepsy—The Church at
  the Time of Napoleon—Abduction of Pius to Avignon—Napoleon’s
  Downfall—Return of the Pope to Rome—His Reception—Prophecies
  Regarding Pius IX—His Journey to Chile—Ocean Trip—Across the
  Andes—Failure of Mission—Rounding Cape Horn—English Settlement on
  the Cape—“Love-of-the-Soil”—The Falkland Islands.

Nearly a hundred years have passed since the day when the young priest
who was to be the best loved and the worst hated man in Europe said
his first Mass, and Time’s heavy wings have already blurred his memory
in their flight, to a fading outline for the present generation. Very
few now know anything about his early years, and in the story of them
the finger of God is so clear that it seems to be worth while to make a
brief record of the steps by which he was prepared for the burdens and
honours of his Pontificate. In reading about his childhood one seems
to be carried back not one, but many centuries, so sharply does it
contrast with the ideals placed before children in these latter days.
It seems to be a road on which there is no returning, but there can be
no harm in glancing back at it for a moment.

It was on the 13th of May, 1792, that Pius IX was born, in the
Umbrian seaport of Sinigaglia, in the Papal States. His father, Count
Mastai-Ferretti, was the descendant of a long line of noblemen who had
come thither from Crema in Lombardy towards the end of the Fourteenth
Century. Home-loving but public-spirited men they had been, and for
a long time their fellow-citizens had confided to them the chief
interests of the town, one of the family always filling the office
of Mayor, which had thereby become practically hereditary, to the
advantage and convenience of all concerned. So Count Mastai was Mayor
of his native city at the time that his youngest son came to make the
eighth in the house already filled with the laughter and play of three
sons and four daughters. The mother of this large family was Caterina
Solazzo, one of those noble ladies of whom there were yet so many in
Italy when I was a child—a woman of high education and devout soul,
who saw in her maternal duties the highest honour to which woman could
aspire, and fulfilled them with whole-hearted joy and ardour. That
meant work such as the modern woman, who thinks she is an example to
toilers for the benefit of the race, would shrink from; the Countess
had to rise very early so that she should be the first to approach her
children’s bedsides when the rising sun woke the nursery to the frolic
and laughter of a new day, and from that moment till all were tucked
up and asleep at night she never let them out of her sight. The first
words they had ever spoken were the Holy Names, the first conscious
movement of each baby hand had been trained to make the sign of the

They were all good and happy children, and the mother-heart prayed and
watched and taught, doubtless forming noble plans for all, but as the
youngest grew older his sweetness and goodness filled her with the hope
that he might be called to the special service of God. Even as a tiny
child his charity was of the alert, all-embracing kind that generally
spells saintship in the end; toys, sweets, money—the little boy always
found poor children to bestow them upon and would beg for his protégés
when his own stores were exhausted. Naturally of a particularly
cheerful and sociable disposition—as indeed he remained all his
life—yet he pondered much on the stories he heard and took things to
heart in a way very unusual for a child of his age. All devout and
loyal subjects of the Papacy were grieving at that time over the trials
inflicted by Napoleon on Pius VII, kept a prisoner far from his own
dominions and subjected to many insults and privations. The Countess
one evening told her son that he must pray for the Holy Father, thus
suffering at the hands of wicked men. The child was deeply impressed,
he obeyed, and prayed with tears for the Pope, and then, in his young
logic, proposed to pray for the prompt punishment of his persecutors.
Great was the surprise of the ardent little champion when his mother
pointed out that that would be wrong—he must pray for their conversion

Giovanni Maria was about ten years old when, romping about the grounds
of his father’s country house, he fell into a pond and was nearly
drowned. At first the accident seemed to have had only slight effects,
but the malady which showed itself a little later and from which he
suffered so long was, probably with reason, ascribed to that cause. It
was a great sorrow to his father, who was bent upon his son’s entering
the army, a desire which the boy was ready to satisfy through filial
sentiment, but which went contrary to all his own wishes and to those
of his mother. He was sent to an ecclesiastical school, of course—no
other could be thought of then for a gentleman’s son—and in spite
of bad health worked hard and attained much distinction. As he grew
up—tall, handsome, and brilliantly intelligent—his father repeatedly
applied for a commission in the Noble Guards for him, but Prince
Barberini, then the chief authority in the Papal army, sternly refused
to grant it, saying that an officer subject to epileptic attacks would
be a danger to himself and others.[4]

By the time he was seventeen, it was fairly clear to all that he
could never be a soldier, a relief to him and to his mother, though
a terrible disappointment to the old Count. They had already brought
him to Rome, and under the care of his Uncle Paulinus, a Canon of
St. Peter’s, he worked assiduously at his theological studies, always
hoping and praying that the strange malady which had kept him out of
the army would not, in the end, keep him out of the Church. Those early
years in Rome were illuminated with the crowning joy of seeing Pius
VII return in triumph to the Throne of St. Peter, an event which threw
the Romans, gentle and simple, into a state of delirious joy. Pius VI
had died in captivity at Valence, on the 29th of August, 1799; his,
successor, Cardinal Chiaramonti, was elected at Venice (Rome being
in the hands of the French) on the 16th of March, 1800, and on the
3d of July of the same year the French, having been expelled from the
Papal States by the Neapolitans and Austrians, the new Pope, who had
taken the name of Pius VII, came back to his own. Everybody believed
that once more “the Church would have peace”; Napoleon, whose genius
realised that there was no governing a nation of atheists, had restored
Religion to her public place, and was preparing, by the Concordat,
to harmonise Church and State as far as the times would allow. But
the Napoleon whose unerring eye showed him the necessity of Religion
for mankind had counted without the other Napoleon, whose towering
ambition demanded the sacrifice of all other claims to itself. With
his coronation as Emperor all barriers seemed to break down; the Pope
was to become his submissive vassal or cease to reign. His demands
became more imperious and unreasonable every day and reached the limit
of arrogance when he decided that the centre of Christendom was to
be transferred to Avignon; France was to enjoy that glory instead of
Italy, and the Pope, no longer an independent sovereign, was to rule
the Church for the advantage and according to the caprices of the

This proposition was first made soon after the election in Venice, when
Napoleon had brought the Pope to Paris to crown him in Notre Dame. Pius
VII replied, in an outburst of righteous indignation, that rather than
so degrade his office he would resign it, and cause another election
to be carried through; Napoleon could then do as he pleased with the
obscure Benedictine monk who would be left on his hands!

Surprised at his firmness, the Emperor yielded for the moment and
permitted him to return to Rome, but, amidst all the rejoicings with
which he was greeted, the good Pope’s heart was heavy. He knew the
character of his adversary too well. On the day of his coronation,
at the foot of the altar, Napoleon had solemnly sworn to uphold and
protect the Church. Immediately afterwards had come the insulting
proposal to transfer the seat of her government to his own dominions.
Who could say what he would do next?

That question did not long wait for its answer. The notion of having
the Papacy established at Avignon was too alluring to be renounced.
Again and again was it put forward, each time accompanied by some
outrageous demand. The Pope was informed that he was to close all
the Roman ports to British vessels; that he was to declare war (!)
on Great Britain; that he was to annul the marriage of Jerome, the
Emperor’s brother, with a Protestant lady in America; and so on. And
always Pius VII replied by his quiet “non possumus”—“we cannot.” Then
the great break came. The Emperor permitted himself an outburst of
temper in which all considerations of policy and decency were thrown to
the winds. On the 13th of May, 1809, the trembling world was informed
that the States of the Church had become part of the French Empire. On
the 10th of June all the Pope’s insignia in Rome were torn down and
replaced by the heraldic _réchauffé_, which now represented the arms
of France; Rome was elevated to the dignity of being proclaimed “a free
French city”!

The outraged Pontiff responded by laying the usurper and his supporters
under the major excommunication, and then came the crowning atrocity,
the one which Napoleon, a contrite prisoner in St. Helena, called the
beginning of his own downfall.

In the darkness of a soft summer night the Vatican was surrounded by
French troops, and General Radet, sickly frightened at the task laid
upon him, made his way with a detachment of soldiers to the Pope’s
bedroom. The horrified attendants in the corridors and anterooms were
forcibly silenced, and Pius VII was roused from his sleep by the sudden
entrance of this sinister company. He was a brave man, and, although
it seemed only too probable that they had come to murder him, he lost
neither his nerve nor his dignity. He asked them what the errand was
which caused them thus to transgress on the rules of respect. At first
the General and his aides stood dumb, trembling with fear before the
helpless old man. At last Radet found his tongue and delivered his
master’s orders. The Pope was to rise at once and come downstairs,
where a coach was waiting to take him into France. The instructions
were that he was to be taken by force if he resisted, but so great was
the awe inspired by his sacred person that, even in pronouncing the
arrest, Radet could not bring himself to touch his victim.

There was no question of physical resistance. Gathering courage from
the Pontiff’s calm demeanour, Radet gave him a few minutes to put
on his clothes, and then hurried him downstairs surrounded by the
soldiers. Only two attendants were allowed to follow him, he was
hustled into the coach; mounted guards closed in on every side, and the
party galloped at full speed out of the Porta del Popolo, heading for
the north. By this time the people had learnt what was happening, and
they came out in crowds and ran beside the coach, entreating with tears
and sobs that their Father might not be taken away from them. The Pope
blessed them from the carriage window as he was whirled along; soon all
the mourning crowd was left behind, but at each town that he passed
through in his dominions the same heart-rending scenes were renewed.
His captors dared not pause—some attempt at a rescue might yet snatch
him from their grasp—and it was only when they reached Grenoble that
they stayed their flight. From there he was transferred to Savona,
where he passed three melancholy years of captivity; when Napoleon
was preparing to start on the Russian Campaign, he brought the Pope to
Fontainebleau for safer keeping, and there Pius VII remained for nearly
two years more.

The first care of the Allies after the taking of Paris on the 31st
of March, 1814, was to officially reinstate the Pope in his temporal
sovereignty, and secure it from future molestation, but Pius VII was
even then approaching his own frontier. After Leipsic and the train
of disasters which marked the close of 1813, Napoleon had informed his
prisoner that he was free to go whither he chose. But it was not until
the 25th of January following that the preparations for his journey
were sufficiently completed for the Pope to leave Fontainebleau, and
then, worn out with suffering of mind and body, he had to travel by
stages of only a few miles at a time and to rest for long periods on
the way. He finally reached Rome in May of that year, a few weeks after
Napoleon had signed his abdication at Fontainebleau. Then for Napoleon
came Elba,—the hundred days,—the short triumph, the irrevocable
eclipse, and the five years at St. Helena. “Qui mange du Pape en

I used to have among my possessions a number of old coloured drawings,
the original designs for the decorations put up in Rome for the
return of Pius VII. It was a triumph not decreed by politicians,
but a spontaneous outburst of overwhelming joy. For five years the
entire government of the Church had been suspended; not once had the
Pontiff been allowed to make his voice heard in her affairs. There is
something strangely sinister in that silence, during which no Bishops
were appointed, and not a single line was added to the ecclesiastical
archives. The fear and depression that weighed down Catholic hearts
was indescribable, and the relief when the cloud lifted almost too
overwhelming to be borne. The Papal States had suffered much during
those years, and the Pope’s own city worst of all. Business was at a
standstill, more than a third of the population had migrated elsewhere,
preferring exile to the tyranny of the French rule. Those who remained
were frightfully impoverished by heavy taxation and by the general
paralysis of commerce which Napoleon’s wars and blockades had brought
not only on Italy but on the whole of Europe.

The populations turned out _en masse_ to meet their sovereign as he
travelled home, and as he neared Rome many nobles who had retired to
their estates came to accompany him on the last stages of his journey.
Among these were Count Mastai-Ferretti and his son, Giovanni Maria,
now eighteen years of age. The event made a profound impression on
the young man. As a child he had wept and prayed for the Holy Father
in his captivity; through the first years of his youth the thought of
Pius VII, a helpless prisoner, had ever been present to his mind and
many a fervent prayer had gone up for his sovereign’s and his country’s
deliverance. Now it had come, and to him, not yet illuminated with
knowledge of the future, as well as to all those around him, it seemed
as if all trouble were passed away and the sun that shone so gloriously
on that 24th of May, when the people took the horses from the Pope’s
carriage and themselves dragged it through the rejoicing streets,
were but an earnest of unbroken peace and happiness to come. Rome had
seen many festivals, but none so spontaneously, madly joyful as this.
From every window floated crimson and blue silk draperies rich with
gold; the thousands of balconies were wreathed in flowers, and the
vast procession moved along in a rain of roses and lilies and violets
showered from above; music was everywhere, but it was drowned in the
shouts and hosannas of the multitude that had gone out to meet the
traveller with palms in their hands and now thronged the way before,
beside, behind him. The women were weeping for joy and audibly thanking
God for this great day; a hundred thousand persons knelt to receive
his blessing, and many, many of them must have remembered how they
knelt to receive it last, as the coach was whirled along the highway
in the summer’s dawn and the weeping supplicants just caught a glimpse
of the pale face and the blessing hand as it flashed by. Every town
in the dominions had raised its triumphal arches, gathered all its
flowers for his progress, but Rome surpassed them and all the records
of herself that day. The “Te Deum” was sung in all the Churches as it
had never been sung before, Rome’s thousand bells rang as if they would
never cease; and when darkness fell, St. Peter’s gathered the stars to
itself, and the magic dome, a hive of breathing gold, glowed through
the night, a beacon of joy to the dwellers in a hundred mountain towns
of Sabina and Latium and all the country round.

Thirty-two years were to elapse before the youth kneeling beside his
father to receive the Pope’s blessing on that day would himself ascend
the Papal Throne, but, strange to say, Pius VII himself had already
foreseen the event. Pius IX had been reigning for some years when,
through the merest accident, the written prophecy was discovered.
Pius VII, while a prisoner at Fontainebleau, one day handed to his
bodyservant a sealed packet, saying that it was not to be opened until
1846. The man religiously regarded the prohibition and put the packet
away carefully. Before his own death he gave it to his son, repeating
the Pope’s instructions. Eighteen forty-six was still far off, and the
son laid the thing aside and had forgotten all about it when the year
in question came round. Having occasion, however, to look through a
number of old papers, he came across this, and broke the seal. Inside,
in Pius VII’s handwriting, were these words: “The prelate who fills the
office of Bishop of Imola in 1846 will be elected Pope and will take
the name of Pius IX.”

Another prophecy, that of the venerable servant of God, Anna Maria
Taigi, uttered in 1823, is very full and clear. After describing
minutely the revolution of 1848 and all the sufferings that Rome
and its ruler would undergo at that time, she added, “The Pope whose
destiny this is, is now a simple priest and far beyond the sea.” After
minutely describing the personal appearance of Pius IX, she continued:
“He will be elected in a very unusual way and contrary to his own and
general expectation. He will inaugurate many wise reforms, which,
if gratefully and wisely accepted by the people, will bring great
blessings upon them. His name will be honoured throughout the world.”
She spoke much of the great trials that he was to undergo in defence
of the Church, and of the special assistance Heaven would give him to
sustain them, and also of the gift of miracles which would be bestowed
on him during the latter years of his life. All that came to pass
precisely as the Saint foretold, and the present generation seems to
be seeing the beginning of the fulfilment of her closing prophecy: “At
last, after many and varied trials and humiliations, the Church shall
achieve, before the eyes of the world, such a glorious triumph that men
will be struck silent with awe and admiration.”

The famous prophecy of St. Malachy, the Archbishop of Armagh, who
died at Clairvaux in the arms of his friend, St. Bernard, in 1148,
designated the title of Pius IX as “Crux de Cruce”—“Cross of a
Cross”—and certainly that prediction, supposed to refer to the Cross of
Savoy, was fulfilled!

Anna Maria Taigi’s mention of a “simple priest then beyond the sea”
refers to the mission to Chile, undertaken by Pius IX when he was as
yet only Father Mastai, the director of Tata Giovanni’s orphanage.
It is an episode of his history so generally forgotten that it seems
worth while to recall it briefly to the minds of Catholic readers. The
Republic of Chile was just five years old—it concluded its victorious
struggle with Spain for independence in 1818—when the government sent
a respected prelate, Canon Cienfuegos, to Rome to ask Pius VII to
reorganise ecclesiastical matters in Chile, where everything had been
left in a very unsatisfactory condition after the separation from the
Mother Country.

Pius VII gladly complied with the request. The mission would require
delicate handling and he singled out a diplomatist prelate, Monsignor
Muzi, then Auditor of the Nunciatura at Vienna, for its accomplishment.
In order that his rank should be consonant with its dignity, Monsignor
Muzi was made Archbishop of Philippi, and then appointed Vicar
Apostolic of Chile. He asked that Father Mastai might accompany him as
Auditor, a post corresponding to that of “Conseiller d’Ambassade” in a
secular embassy; and another well-known ecclesiastic, Father Sallusti,
was named as the secretary.

Long years afterwards, one of the “boys” described the last evening of
Father Mastai at the Asilo. He had as yet said nothing to them of his
approaching departure, but at supper they noticed that he seemed very
sad. When the meal was over and they were about to leave the table,
he motioned to them to sit down again, as he had something to say
to them. Then he told them that the next day he must leave them, to
travel far away on the business of the Church. There were a hundred and
twenty boys, big and little, in the hall, and there broke from them one
simultaneous cry of grief. Sobbing and wailing, they threw themselves
upon him, the little ones climbing up into his arms and clinging to his
knees, others catching at his garments as if to hold him back by force,
and those who could not reach him through the press lifting up their
voices in supplication that the “Caro Padre” would not leave them. The
Father wept, too, as he caressed and embraced the “piccolini,” and,
when at last he tore himself away and shut himself up in his room, a
number of the older boys broke in and insisted on staying with him all
night. The dear patient man did not resent thus being robbed of his
rest; he let them have their way, and talked to them long and earnestly
of their present duties and their future lives. He would return some
day, and how eagerly he would enquire for every one by name, how
rejoiced he would be at a good report, how immeasurably grieved at a
bad one.

With the dawn he had to leave them, and, as the narrator said, “We were
orphans more than ever before.”

Great as was the grief of “Tata Giovanni’s” boys on losing their
beloved Director, it did not equal the despair and indignation of
Countess Mastai when she learnt that her son had been picked out for a
journey which was full of perils and hardships so late as twenty years
ago, and in those early days was veritably appalling.

To the ardent young priest, this fact had only added to the readiness
he felt in carrying out the Pope’s wishes; he asked nothing better than
to suffer in such a cause, but his mother, without saying anything to
him, flew to Cardinal Consalvi, then Secretary of State, and implored
that the appointment might be cancelled. Pius VII, however, refused to
yield to her entreaties, and, when Father Mastai came to receive his
final blessing before departing, he told him of the Countess’s request
and added, “I assured her that you would return safe and sound.”

The embassy was to embark at Genoa, and it was there, while waiting
for the final preparations to be made, that its members received the
sad news of the death of Pius VII. This caused delay, and it was only
after the election of Leo XII and his confirmation of Archbishop
Muzi’s powers that the mission finally sailed from Genoa, on the
5th of October, 1823. Ninety years ago! The world has shrunk since
then; the voyage that I made in 1885 in three weeks took Monsignor
Muzi and his companions three months to accomplish. The “good barque
_Eloïse_,” manned by “thirty experienced seamen,” had been chartered
for the expedition, but one’s heart aches to think of what those three
good ecclesiastics must have suffered in one way and another on board
of her. Very few Italians of their class are good sailors and all
the horrors of seasickness were certainly theirs, combined with the
unsavoury and unwholesome food that was all people had to depend upon
during sea-journeys before the discovery of steam and cold storage.
Storm after storm broke over the little vessel; she was nearly wrecked
off Teneriffe; one dreadful night, the 5th of November, she was waylaid
by pirates, who overhauled her from stem to stern seeking for plunder,
and only abandoned her—in furious disgust—when Father Mastai had shown
them that there was not a single article of value on board. Then came
a sad encounter with a Brazilian slave trader, packed with unfortunate
negroes, a sight most grievous and terrible to the kind-hearted
priests; and then, after two long months’ sailing, a fearful storm
which lasted eight days, during which the _Eloïse_ was so beaten about
that no one hoped to escape alive. It was all a searching dispensation
for quiet, stay-at-home Italian gentlemen who had followed their pious
way hitherto along the most familiar lines!

They reached Monte-Video on New Year’s Day, 1824, stopped a few
days for repairs, and made Buenos Ayres soon after, their joy at
finding themselves on _terra firma_ much tempered by the extremely
rude reception accorded to them by the civil authorities. But Buenos
Ayres was merely the starting-point for the most difficult part
of the journey, the crossing of the Andes. Had the good Countess
Mastai-Ferretti had the slightest idea of what her cherished son was to
encounter there, I believe she would have died of anxiety before his
return! I only met one or two Europeans, when I was in Chile, who had
accomplished the feat, and they told me that nothing would induce them
to attempt it again. I have described some of the terrors of the passes
in former works,[5] and will not enlarge upon them here. Suffice it to
say that for two whole months Monsignor Muzi and Fathers Sallusti and
Mastai rode through those appalling solitudes, over the bridle-paths
cut in the face of the rock that towers thousands of feet above and
sinks sheer down thousands of feet below, paths where one false step
means death, and so narrow in some places that, if two parties meet,
it is usual for them—if they are not the fighting sort—to decide on
the spin of a coin which shall dismount, pitch its mules over the
precipice, and crawl past the winners as best they can—to continue the
journey on foot!

The resting-places are even now the haunts of outlaws and robbers.
The members of the Roman Embassy of 1824 only escaped being murdered
_en masse_, because, through some unforeseen occurrence, they changed
the time of their departure from a hamlet called Desmochadas. Had they
waited till the hour first fixed upon, they would have shared the fate
of a party of merchants who, on that day, were massacred, to a man,
by a band of robbers. It was Father Mastai who discovered—and stayed
behind to take care of—a sick English officer, named Miller, forsaken
in a wayside inn; and it was Father Mastai, the others said, who had
during the whole journey sustained their courage by his unfailing fun
and good-humour. It seems to me that this is not the least glorious
note in all his wonderful record, and because few, even of those who
most loved and venerated him in his later years, have ever heard of it
I have written it here. The whole thing, somehow, is so absolutely Pius

Very sore and weary, the travellers reached Santiago on the 17th of
March, only to encounter every kind of obstacle and annoyance in the
attempt to carry out the object of their mission. The government
had changed, and the party in power had no desire to come to an
understanding with the Holy See. The people, indeed, received the
envoys most enthusiastically, but Chile in 1824 was apparently
much what I found it in 1885—a country of ardent believers ruled by
atheists. Let some expert explain the problem, I cannot! For seven
months Monsignor Muzi remained in Santiago, perseveringly trying to
clear matters up and reach some _modus vivendi_ between Church and
State. But his efforts were nullified by the hostility of the President
and his supporters, and at last he had to acknowledge his defeat and
withdraw from the conflict.

The _Eloïse_ meanwhile had successfully rounded Cape Horn and reached
Valparaiso, and on the 19th of October the Archbishop and his party
embarked once more on the gallant little vessel and started for home.
Of course no sailing vessel can pass through the twisting narrows and
rocks of the Straits of Magellan, so for three weeks—surely the most
miserable of their lives—those poor priests, children of Italy and
the sun, shivered in the awful cold of those frozen regions, where the
sea is the colour of cold steel, and the sailors, as they have often
told me, come down from the deck at night with their garments frozen
stiff, and have to work their way into them, still frozen stiff as
boards, in the morning. My own travelling in that part of the world
did not include the rounding of Cape Horn, but even the passage of the
Straits, in a big liner, with the water smooth as glass, was such a
freezingly wretched experience that, having made it once, the prospect
of its repetition took something away from my eagerness to go home. But
outside the Horn, with the Antarctic Ocean, unbroken from the South
Pole, flinging its icy rollers against a little sailing vessel that
took three weeks to beat up on the other side—_that_, the skippers have
told me, furnishes merchant seamen with their best nightmares to their
dying day! Most of the coal supply for the West Coast is carried by
this route, and by the time it has reached the Horn the coal, loaded
under the damp English skies, has ignited and the remainder of the trip
is made with hatches battened down and the pleasing knowledge that a
puff of air finding its way into the hold will send the whole mass into
a blaze!

Yet, there is a little English colony that lives and flourishes in
these cold seas some two hundred and fifty miles to the east of the
Horn, and we, in England, wear its wool and eat its mutton quite
habitually. I never could learn my geography properly until I began to
travel round the world. From that time maps became a special recreation
of mine, and I had, when travelling through the Straits of Magellan,
thought with both curiosity and pity of the handful of islands so much
more exposed than even we were in those comfortless days. I was told
the place was a purgatory—that it was just possible to carry on life,
and that no one stayed there who could help it. Some time afterwards,
when we were established in Santiago, a card was brought up and I gazed
at it for a moment in some bewilderment—“The Governor of the Falkland
Islands!” Then it was true! Our indomitable fellow-countrymen had
really added another mesh to the net of Empire which Great Britain has
cast over the world. My reflections were interrupted by the entrance
of a big, handsome man, who looked as if he had just come out of
Yorkshire. His clear blue eyes, ruddy cheeks, and joyful bearing belied
the sad tales I had heard, and when, in the course of conversation, I
asked some timid questions about his frozen place of exile, he laughed
in a way that was good to hear. Frozen? Exile? Why, he would not
live anywhere else for the world! A grand climate, pleasant society,
and better pasturage for sheep than could be found anywhere else!
“Pasturage!” I exclaimed. “Do you mean to say that anything will _grow_
in that latitude?” “Grow? I should think so!” he replied. “We get the
back wash of the Gulf Stream down there, and our sheep can graze all
winter in the open. Why, I have three trees, _real trees_, on Stanley
Island! I wish you and Mr. Fraser would come and pay me a visit there.
My wife and daughters would be so delighted to see you.” Then, turning
to my husband, he continued: “Our flocks are getting too big for their
feeding grounds, so I have come to ask the Chilean Government to rent
us five hundred thousand acres in Patagonia for a supplementary run.
The pasturage is not as good as that in the Falklands, but it will be
better than nothing.”

Of course we instantly invited our visitor to dine. An English face
was always a joy to look at where one saw so few, and this man brought
the very atmosphere of the North Country with him. He told us many
interesting details about his little domain, the management of which
he took very seriously and evidently accomplished with much success.
“Of course I could do more,” he said regretfully, “if it were not for
the blind hostility of the Opposition.” “Does it reach so far?” I asked
politely. “I should have thought there was quite enough to keep it busy
at home.”

“Oh, I don’t mean the little crowd at Westminster,” he replied
indignantly. “Please understand, Mrs. Fraser, that I have an opposition
_of my own_!”

“I do congratulate you,” I said; “that is certainly a triumph! What
Britisher could ask more?”

There is a little plant of which every Englishman carries the seeds
about with him. It is called Love-of-the-soil. Give him a bit of land
anywhere—the best or the worst, a vast fertile tract or a few miles of
desert island; tell him it is his very own to do as he likes with, and,
before you can turn round, every grain of its dust is sprouting with
Love-of-the-soil. He sees, knows, loves only that spot. He will fight
for it, work for it, cheat for it if need be, perhaps even slay; for
to him it has taken on the sacred character of the mother country, it
is _his_ piece of England and woe to any one who tries to take it away
from him! That is why English colonies succeed. And it is the lack of
this passion for the land which makes bad colonists of men of other
nationalities. The Americans are simply brutal about their possessions.
Out here in the Northwest one is horrified at the general callousness.
I have watched people making what _we_ should call a home, breaking
new land, building a charming house, working hard to make everything
within and without as perfect as they know how. A cloud of dust shows
up on the road, a motor-car full of “land grabbers” kicks and coughs
and stinks at the gate; the next minute the hard-eyed hucksters are
being shown into all the sacred arena of airy rooms, and flowering
garden, are fingering, valuing, depreciating; there follows an hour or
two of hard bargaining, and then your neighbour’s wife flies across
lots to tell you, with shining eyes, “We’ve sold the place!” “Sold
the place?” I cry. “Why, I thought it was to be your home!” “What does
that matter?” she retorts, huffed, “I got my price! We can easily build
another house that we shall like just as much.”

I suppose it is a form of the disease now diagnosed as Americanitis,
the feverish restlessness that would rather “trek” anywhere than stay
put for more than a year or two. But is a terrible disqualification for
building a State. Since I have seen it at close quarters, I have often
thought of the contrast presented by that handful of North Country
shepherds and their descendants, in the Falklands,[6] so proud of doing
their best with the best they could get, pleased with their drizzly
climate (it rains two hundred and fifty days in the year), because
it is so English, proud of their thriving little country, sending out
their pelts and mutton by the once-a-month steamer, actually growing
their pelargoniums and fuchsias in the open air, and so furiously
interested in their miniature politics that the Government and the
Opposition are ready to knock each other forty ways from Sunday
every time they meet! Good luck and long life to you, my incorrigible
brothers! The secret of success is certainly yours, and it all comes
from the little plant called Love-of-the-soil.



  Director of Ospizio di San Michele—A Splendid Record—Archbishop
  of Spoleto—A Turbulent Populace—Order Restored—Revolution
  in Europe—Spoleto Saved—The Earthquake in Umbria—New Post
  at Imola—Secret Societies—A Cardinal—Attack upon the Three
  Prelates—The Cardinal’s Bravery—How the Saints Forgive—Pope Pius
  IX—His Charity and Justice—Defenders of the Poor—Anecdotes of the
  Cardinal’s Generosity.

After his return from Chile, Father Giovanni Maria Mastai was appointed
Director of the Ospizio di San Michele, a position which could not be
called a great advancement in the eyes of the world, but which carried
with it a most weighty burden of responsibility. Some idea of this
charge can be grasped when we explain that the so-called “Hospital”
embraced six separate large establishments: namely, an orphanage for
boys, another for girls, both containing complete schools for general
education as well as for the learning of trades and arts; a home
for the aged poor, a “protectory” for unruly boys, a reformatory for
fallen women—and a prison for political offenders. The endowments of
the Ospizio, together with its earnings, rendered an income of fifty
thousand dollars a year, then considered an ample sum for providing for
the wants of some thousands of persons. It will readily be understood
that this left little or nothing over for salaries to those in charge,
but, fortunately, in those days these were not needed, as all the
employés, except a few servants, were priests and religious, who gave
their services for nothing except food and shelter.

In his own financial affairs, Father Mastai was the worst manager
possible; he never kept any money longer than was needed to give it
away; but where other funds were concerned he made no mistakes, and
his administration was as wise and careful as possible. His friends
and family seem to have been a little surprised when his labours
and trials during the South American mission received no more public
recognition than this appointment to a burdensome task, but he himself
was delighted. He had looked back to the years spent with “Tata
Giovanni’s” boys with homesick regret; the work at San Michele was of
the same kind on a much larger scale, more orphans to train, more poor
to cherish, more sinners to help and save, and his generous heart was
fully satisfied. The Holy Father, Leo XII, watched the new Director
closely during the two years he left him in charge. At the end of that
short time the improvement in all the different departments of the
Ospizio was fully evident, and its self-supporting funds had increased,
in spite of the innovation introduced by the new Director, who ordained
that a fair share of the inmates’ earnings should be set aside for
their own after use and benefit.

Leo XII was now satisfied that he had not been mistaken in his judgment
of Father Mastai’s abilities and virtues, so, without any intermediate
promotion, on the 21st of May, 1827, he appointed him Archbishop of
Spoleto, the Pope’s own native town. Great was the grief of the vast
family at San Michele on learning the news, for whether as simple
priest, powerful prelate, or Supreme Pontiff, Pius IX was always
enthusiastically loved by all who approached him.

Spoleto, as we know it to-day—but how can I describe it? One magic
pen has pictured the Umbrian cities with such divine felicity that the
rest of us must be for ever mute. Read what Edward Hutton says about
Spoleto—“a beautiful city of rose colour set on a high hill.”—“Spoleto,
like a tall and sweet maiden,—kneeling at the head of her long valley
under the soft sky.” Read all that that pure-souled genius has written
about Umbria and Tuscany, and you will know whatever your mind can
grasp of that which the poet and the mystic and the artist feel in
that immortal region; my business is not with them, but with the
“anima latina” of a holy, hard-working prelate sent in troublous times
to govern a turbulent populace already inoculated with the fever
of revolution, and preserving, in its murderous hatreds, the best
traditions of the late Middle Ages.

This was what the new Archbishop saw before him as, with his two
brothers, he approached Spoleto towards the end of June, 1827: “A
violent party feud raging between two factions, finding its way into
families, separating father from son, brother from brother, sister
from sister. Even the clergy had allowed themselves to be drawn into
the unhappy conflict, and, as a natural consequence, the interests
of religion were suffering lamentably.”[7] So the new Archbishop had
no light task before him. I fancy, however, that his was a nature
which was happiest in strenuous effort. There are people, even in
the modern world, who seem out of place unless they are leading a
forlorn hope. We had a friend long years ago, the Marquis de Bâcourt,
a delightful French diplomatist, with whom, after the vagrant manner
of diplomatists, we foregathered in various parts of the world before
meeting him again in Chile, which certainly just then was not a bed
of roses for foreign representatives. I was bewailing our own luck and
commiserating his, when he interrupted me by exclaiming: “Oh, but I am
really enjoying myself! I _love_ difficult and disagreeable affairs!”

Of these we know that Monsignor Mastai found many to adjust in his new
charge, and that he was signally successful in smoothing them out.
Within two years faction had died in the pretty Umbrian city on the
hill, enemies were reconciled, order restored, and the clergy aroused
to new zeal and regularity under his wise, strict rule. At the end of
those two years he held the people’s hearts in his hands, and well it
was for them that he did, for thus he was enabled to save the town and
its inhabitants from the terrible danger which suddenly threatened to
overwhelm Spoleto in 1830. Leo XII had died on the 10th of February
of the preceding year, and had been succeeded by Pius VIII, whose
beneficent reign was ended all too soon by death on the eve of All
Saints’, 1830. The gentle old man had, during his short Pontificate,
attacked and handled with vigour and wisdom some of the most important
questions of the day, notably in his regulations for mixed marriages
and in his stern condemnation of the secret societies; these had,
during the last momentous year of his life, produced the harvest of
revolution which convulsed Europe more or less from Warsaw to Rome; yet
worse was to come, but Pius VIII was spared the trial of witnessing
it. That was reserved for his successor, Gregory XVI, sturdy,
imperturbable, broad-shouldered, bringing with him the breezes of the
Julian Alps and the hard good sense of the Venetian from the mountains
and the sea. He needed it all, for, as I have said elsewhere, the
storm that had muttered so long broke loose even before his election;
the henchmen of anarchy, who had long been secretly busy in the Papal
States, started a revolution in Rome itself in February, 1830; this was
promptly quelled, but the trouble in the more northerly provinces was
very serious and the Pope had to appeal to Austria to subdue it.

Spoleto had by no means escaped the general infection, but the
Archbishop had, by constant watchfulness and his great personal
influence, succeeded in preventing any open outbreak of the
revolutionary spirit which lurked there; what was his horror and that
of the citizens when it became known that a body of four thousand
insurgents, retreating before the Austrians, were approaching the
town with the intention of holding it against their pursuers! The
place was in a panic—the inhabitants already saw themselves trampled
down and massacred in the bloody conflict that would take place—saw
the stern punishment that the Austrians would inflict upon them for
harbouring the desperate revolutionaries. It was in this emergency
that Giovanni Maria Mastai showed the coolness of a statesman and the
courage of a soldier. At the risk of his life he drove at full speed to
the Austrian headquarters and insisted on interviewing the Commander.
To the surprised General he explained that the armed insurgents who
were demanding Spoleto’s hospitality at the point of the bayonet were
strangers to her, that she was in no way responsible for them and
that she disclaimed all part in their designs. This point being made
clear, he undertook to bring the rebels to submission, single-handed,
if the General would promise not to let his own men enter Spoleto. The
promise was, naturally, most readily given, the irritated commander
being only too glad to relinquish an unpleasant job. And then the
Archbishop, getting into his carriage again, rushed off to intercept
the revolutionaries in their march on the town.

To them he spoke only in words of tenderest pity. He said he knew that
they had been misled and deceived by wicked men, that their hearts were
not in this conflict, but really loyal to their sovereign, the Pope;
he told them that he could sympathise with their present situation,
brought about by despair at finding themselves far from their houses,
without means of returning, and threatened with the reprisals of
the Austrians. He showed them the hopelessness of the struggle into
which they had been drawn, and promised them, if they would lay down
their arms, not only a free pardon, but the means of returning to
their homes. His fatherly kindness carried all before it. Touched and
grateful, they surrendered their funny old muskets and cannon; the
Archbishop went to his palace, scraped together all the money he had
or could borrow on his own credit, and came back with twenty thousand
francs which he distributed amongst them according to their needs, and
had the joy of seeing them all depart, pacified and sober, for their
respective provinces.

History does not say that the people of Spoleto suggested any refunding
of that big sum of money, but they showed their gratitude and delight
in very enthusiastic ways, illuminating the city, having processions
and fireworks in honour of him who had obtained its deliverance, and
cheering to the skies whenever he showed himself, all of which was
doubtless most gratifying to their kind Pastor’s heart; but he was
almost too busy to think much about such things at that moment, having
been charged by the Secretary of State with the conduct of all civil
matters in Umbria, the proper authorities—to a man—having fled at the
approach of the Austrians.

Talking of those penniless rebels, I ought to say that there was one
among them whom the Archbishop did not send home, because the man had
no home to go to. So he brought him into his own house, kept him there
in safety and comfort, and, regardless of what was sure to be said
in Rome about his interceding for such a character, sent to beg the
Pope to give him a passport which would take him across the frontier.
The passport was granted, and the next time any communication passed
between the charitable host and his quondam pensioner the former had
become Pius IX and the latter Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.

In 1832 the whole province of Umbria was desolated by a destructive
earthquake, in which a great number of lives were lost and many
thousands of persons rendered homeless. Spoleto suffered severely
and once more the good Archbishop was the comfort and mainstay of
his people. He seemed to be everywhere at once and called up doctors,
nurses, and provisions with miraculous celerity, finding money somehow
for all the dreadful needs and sending aid of every kind to the more
distant places where he could not go himself. Other pastors were
doing all they could for their own flocks, but Monsignor Mastai’s
zeal and charity were so conspicuous as to draw down the special and
enthusiastic commendation of Gregory XVI, who immediately promoted
him to the Archbishopric of Imola, a far more important See than that
of Spoleto. Naturally the Spoleto people were frantic at the idea
of losing him and sent a deputation of their most notable citizens
to Rome to beg the Pope to change his mind. But they failed in their
object, and at the appointed time their Archbishop received their last
farewells—a tumult of tears and blessings—and set out for his new post,
stopping on the road at Loreto to ask for Heaven’s assistance, as he
had asked for it in his early youth, when his malady appeared to be
barring his way to the priesthood.

He found even more to do at Imola than he had at Spoleto in the matters
of reorganisation and reform, and he threw himself into the work with
all the ardour of his brave energetic soul, encountering many trials,
but coming victoriously through them all. Of course he made bitter
enemies, for his boundless charity to the poor broke out in a blaze
of indignation whenever he found that they were being oppressed or
defrauded. In such cases instant retribution overtook the offender, and
no amount of apparent contrition could ever obtain office for him again
if it depended on the decision of the Archbishop.

The secret societies, following their usual programme, had decided
to “remove” Monsignor Mastai without delay. He was sitting in his
study one morning when his faithful old servant, Baladelli, who had
accompanied him everywhere, entered to say that a lady, who seemed in a
great hurry, begged him to grant her a few minutes’ “conversation.”

“Ask her to wait a little,” said the Archbishop, as he rose and went
into his private chapel. Some time passed and the servant came and
found his master on his knees.

“Monsignor, will you not speak to that lady now?” he asked.

“Tell her to wait a little longer,” was the reply.

The man retreated, to return more than once; Monsignor, still on his
knees, always gave the same message, and at last Baladelli, after the
manner of old servants, lost his temper and exclaimed: “For goodness’
sake, come and speak with that poor woman! She has been waiting for

Then the Archbishop looked around at him and said, very quietly, “I
speak with the living, not with the dead.”

The frightened domestic rushed into the anteroom where the petitioner
had been left, and beheld a tumbled heap on the floor. Calling his
fellow-servants to help him, he raised it up. The heavy veil had
slipped from the face. The “lady” was a man, with a great sharp knife
concealed in his feminine garments. He was stone dead.

Monsignor Mastai was made a Cardinal (with the titular of the Church
of St. Peter[8] and Marcellinus) on the 14th of December, 1840, to
the great happiness of his mother, a widow since 1833. During her
lifetime he made a point of going once or more every year to visit her
at Sinigaglia in the old house where his childhood had been passed. He
frequently was obliged to come to Rome on business, and so long as he
was Archbishop of Spoleto, he lodged at the orphanage of Tata Giovanni
on these occasions. That was no longer possible after he had been
promoted to the more important See of Imola, as he was then expected
to travel with a larger suite, for whom the Orphanage did not provide
fitting quarters. He resented the expense of these more ostentatious
journeys, complaining that the money they cost would have been better
spent among his poor at Imola, but he had no choice in the matter and
had to submit to custom and tradition.

A very unpleasant adventure marked the third year of his cardinalate.
In the heat of the summer he and two of his colleagues in the Sacred
College arranged to take a few weeks of rest in a small and lonely
villa in a remote part of the country. They knew, of course, that
the revolutionary agents were abroad and at work, but it had not
occurred to any of the trio that their own illustrious persons might
be designated as worthy objects of attack. But a certain Riotti, a
Piedmontese, deep-dyed in conspiracy, conceived the brilliant idea
of kidnapping the three prelates and holding them as hostages, to
be ransomed at the price of his own immunity should his treasonable
designs be discovered. So, in the dead of night this hero, with six
of his fellow-conspirators, broke into the villa, and the unfortunate
prelates were roused from their sleep to find themselves confronted
with a band of desperate men armed to the teeth. The two other
Cardinals were not fighters, but Giovanni Maria Mastai was. What
weapons he used I know not—he had none at hand except his high courage
and biting tongue, but the outcome was that the ruffians fled from his
presence and were heard of no more. His companions said that it was
entirely owing to his bravery that the whole party was saved.

One spring day at Imola, while the Carnival was roaring through the
streets, the Archbishop was down on his knees in the Church praying
for his people that they might not sin in their mirth. Alas! even his
fervent prayers could not altogether avert that calamity! A sudden
tumult of cries and footsteps came from the sacristy and he rushed
thither to almost fall over a young man, who lay gasping in his blood
on the pavement. At the same moment his pursuers broke in after him,
three men with knives in their hands, furiously intent on finishing
their victim. The Cardinal instantly placed himself before him and,
holding up the gold cross which he wore on his breast, forbade them to
come a step nearer. In a torrent of burning eloquence he reproached
them with their atrocious cruelty and sacrilege of which they had
been guilty, and ordered them to quit the Church. They stood for a
moment cowed and broken, then they fled, and he turned to the poor
boy on the ground. Very tenderly he knelt down beside him, and soothed
and comforted him, pillowing his bleeding neck on his arm, while the
attendants who had arrived on the scene ran for a physician. The latter
came promptly, but said that the wound was mortal—there was nothing to
be done. Then, still kneeling on the ground and holding the poor dying
boy in his arms, the Cardinal helped him to make his confession, called
one of the priests of the Church to administer the last Sacraments, and
knelt there till the young soul passed away, comforted and at peace.

Where injuries or insults were offered to himself, Cardinal Mastai
forgave as only the Saints can forgive. The chief magistrate of Imola,
a hard and cruel man, had conceived the most bitter hatred of him for
his gentle methods and broad, progressive views, and expressed his
hostility with much violence. The Mayor’s wife, a good devout woman,
was much distressed at his attitude, and sought by every means in her
power to heal the one-sided feud. A child was born to her, and she
secretly begged the Cardinal to volunteer to be its godfather—she
was sure her husband’s heart would be softened at such an evidence
of condescension and good-will! Nothing loath, the good Cardinal
approached the Mayor, personally, and with much gentleness and humility
asked if he would permit him to stand sponsor for the baby. Whereupon
the Mayor flew into a passion and exclaimed: “You! You presume to
suggest such a thing! You, who are a friend of malcontents and rebels!
No, indeed! You are too liberal for me!” Then he turned his back on his
Archbishop and left him—a suppliant refused!

The Archbishop accepted both the insult and the calumny without a
word of protest. A month later he changed his name and assumed that
of Pius IX. Learning that his old enemy was in Rome with his family
at the time, he sent him word that, although he had refused to allow
the Archbishop of Imola to stand godfather to his child, he might not
feel the same objection to the Pope, who, if the infant were not yet
baptised, would be glad to be its sponsor. _En passant_ one is struck
with wonder that, amid all the preoccupation and inevitable excitement
of that great change in his life, Pius IX should have found time to
think of the man at all. Naturally, he had conquered, and his old enemy
could scarcely express his gratitude at receiving such an honour. Even
then the Pope remembered him again, and very soon afterwards seized an
opportunity of conferring on him a great material benefit. That is how
the Saints forgive!

Naturally he had conquered, and the favour was received with almost
unbelieving joy.

Oh, they were a good family, those Mastai-Ferrettis. After the
accession of Pius IX, his brother, Cardinal Ferretti, a most wise
and saintly man, acted as his Prime Minister for a time, before the
revolution. His memory was greatly venerated in Rieti, of which place
he was Cardinal Bishop. A terrible thing happened while he was there.
One of the Churches was broken into at night, the Tabernacle violated,
and the pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament stolen. On learning of
this frightful sacrilege the next morning, the Cardinal called all his
clergy together, and he and they, with bare feet and ropes round their
necks, went in procession to the public square. The entire population
gathered round them, and then the Cardinal, standing bareheaded and
barefooted under the noonday sun, preached a sermon, taking for his
text the cry of Mary Magdalene on Easter morning: “They have taken away
my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.”

When the sermon ended the people were kneeling on the stones, sobbing
like children. That night the door of the Church was left open, and the
pyx was restored; its sacred contents were intact.

Pius IX early let his family know that they were to expect neither
wealth nor promotion from his hands. One ambitious relation asked him
for a title. “You have not the income to maintain it, my dear fellow,”
the Pope replied, “and I shall not provide you with one. Stay as you
are.” Another, a young nephew, was idling about Rome, giving himself
no end of airs because his uncle was on the throne. His uncle sent
him back to Sinigaglia to learn sense in obscurity. Yet the poorest
and meanest could always obtain aid and sympathy from Pius IX. I
remember seeing the people push forward their written petitions as he
used to drive through the city or walk in the environs. The queer,
often dirty, scraps of paper were received by one of the Cardinals
or the chamberlain who accompanied the Pope on these occasions, and
every one was examined, the circumstances verified, and genuine cases
relieved within twenty-four hours. Only one class dreaded the approach
of the Holy Father—neglectful or fraudulent officials. He relied on
no reports of public or private institutions, but descended on them
at all hours of the day or night, in person and without giving the
slightest warning, to see for himself how things were being managed.
Like Haroun-al-Raschid he would slip out alone, dressed as a layman,
and dive unrecognised into hospitals, schools, and prisons, only
revealing his rank when he could not obtain admittance otherwise;
and where he found anything out of order, correction, and in serious
cases heavy retribution, instantly followed. One night, dressed as a
private gentleman, he was thus going through the wards of the great
Hospital of Santo Spirito, where, as in most of the Roman hospitals,
charitable visitors were always free to come and cheer or tend the
sick. That night a poor French artist was dying, and he called for a
priest. The attendants looked everywhere for the Almoner or Chaplain
of the Institution, but he was not to be found. The Pope said, “I will
take his place,” and to him the dying man made his confession, from him
received the last Sacraments, and passed away, comforted and in peace.
The next morning the Almoner was dismissed.

One day the Holy Father, walking in the Quirinal Gardens, passed a
sentry on duty. The man silently held out a loaf of bread for his
inspection. Pius IX took it, examined it, and asked one question, “Do
you always get bread as bad as this?” “Always, Santo Padre,” was the
reply. A sudden descent on the Commissariat department showed that he
had spoken the truth. When the sun rose again the cheating commissary
was repenting of his sins in prison. There is a beautifully practical
side to autocratic government!

Justice had nothing to blush for in the Rome of those days, and the
poor could obtain it as promptly and easily as the rich. There were
three separate institutions devoted entirely to the legal defence and
protection of persons who could not pay for the services of a lawyer.
One was the Arch-Confraternity of St. Ives, thus named after the Saint
still so dear to the people of Brittany, the lawyer who was a priest
and who devoted all his talents to the defence and protection of the
poor. But long before his time (he died on the 19th of May, 1303) St.
Gregory had instituted in Rome seven official defenders of the poor,
one for each Region of the city. They were called “defensori”; some
eight hundred years later their official descendants, the College of
Procurators, took the title of “the Rights of the Poor,” and there was
also a civil office established by Urban VIII, of which the holder,
who had to be a noble and a layman, took the title of “Advocate
of the Poor,” exercising his powers in cases that came outside any
ecclesiastical administration. The Congregation of St. Ives remained
the great standby of the lower classes down to my own time. It was
partly a religious sodality, comprising both prelates and lawyers, who
met every Sunday for pious exercises, which were followed by a careful
examination of such appeals as had been laid before them during the
week. They took up all just and genuine claims and defended them at
their own expense. Besides looking after the rights of their humble
fellow-countrymen, they undertook the cases of all poor strangers who
got into trouble in the city.

There was a third body, the Arch-Confraternity of San Girolamo,
that devoted itself to the defence and aid of prisoners and, more
especially, of poor widows. The gentlemen composing it—and they were
the flower of the aristocracy, ecclesiastical and social—made it their
business to assist impecunious prisoners in every possible way, paying
their fines, if such had been imposed on them, and arranging matters
with their creditors if they had been imprisoned for debt. The members
had free access to all the prisons and they took their duties very
seriously, some of their number examining the food every day of the
year, and enquiring into all matters connected with the treatment of
the prisoners. Indeed some of the most important prisons were confided
to their sole charge. They did no end of good, particularly in bringing
about amicable settlements of disputes which would otherwise have
caused fierce litigation.

Our blessed Pius IX had a tender sympathy for poor debtors and often
came to their assistance. He was constantly in money difficulties
himself—as generous people so often are—during the earlier part of his
career. When he became Archbishop of Spoleto he had to borrow a goodly
sum, on his brother’s security, from a Roman money-lender to defray the
expenses of his installation, and he was so recklessly charitable that
again and again there was not wherewithal to buy food.

His old housekeeper at Spoleto used to weep over the bare shelves of
her larder—everybody was fed, she declared, except her master and his
household! It was hoped that things would be better when he moved to
Imola, where the Episcopal revenue was double that of Spoleto, but
the master’s ways were hopeless and he only laughed when his people
remonstrated with him. There came a day at Imola when the distracted
steward, ready to tear his hair, exclaimed: “Eminenza, there was a
hundred dollars in the treasury this morning, and _it is all gone_! I
have not a cent for the ‘spese’” (the current expenses); “what shall we

The Cardinal reminded him that the good God had promised daily bread to
His children. “That is true, Eminenza,” said the poor man, “but—I am in
terrible difficulty, all the same!”

“Well,” said his master, “to-morrow is a fast day. I know you have some
cheese in the house. Serve that for dinner.”

“But the next day, Eminenza?”

“Oh, I will take care to leave enough for the next day!” was the
Cardinal’s reply.

On another occasion he was about to entertain a distinguished party at
dinner. The gentlemen were already gathered in the drawing-room when
their host was informed that a man wished to speak with him on urgent
business. He excused himself and came into the dining-room, where he
found one of his parishioners in frantic distress. He wanted a loan
to save him from immediate bankruptcy. “I have not a single dollar in
my possession, my poor friend,” said the Cardinal, “but——” He glanced
round the room, where all his best plate was laid out in preparation
for the coming feast, and pounced on a great gold soup tureen, a
cherished gift from his mother. “Take this,” he said, putting it into
the man’s hands, “it will pay your debts.”

With sublime carelessness he returned to his guests, and they and he
soon began to wonder why dinner was not served. A long time passed,
and then the steward, pale as death and with tears in his eyes, came
and informed him that somebody had stolen the gold soup tureen! He had
looked everywhere, searched the servants’ rooms—the household was in an
uproar—but the tureen was gone!

“Oh, is that all?” he laughed. “I stole it myself! Get the old china
one and let us eat.”



  Lebzeltern, the Ambassador of the Austrian Emperor—Origin of
  His Mission—Napoleon’s Anger Against Pius VII—Arrest of the
  Pope—Protests from the Church—Napoleon Excommunicated—Vain Efforts
  to Evade the Bull—Instructions for the Mission—“Do All, or Else,
  _Do Nothing_”—Pius VII in His Sixty-eighth Year—The Interview—The
  Pope’s Position—His Generosity—Message to Napoleon—Continued
  Captivity—Return to Rome—Napoleon’s Expiation.

One beautiful evening of early summer in the year 1810, the packet-boat
plying between Genoa and Savona reached the latter port after a fair
but exciting passage; for, albeit the sea was scarcely ruffled by the
breeze—which in itself was barely sufficient to fill the sails—yet
during the whole of the voyage from Genoa a couple of British frigates
had accompanied the packet-boat, keeping however, much to the surprise
of the voyagers, at a considerable distance and without manifesting
any hostile intention. And when, at last, the packet-boat was safe at
anchor in the harbour of Savona, the frigates likewise lay to, within
about a cannon-shot of the land, and began, apparently, to make all
snug for the night.

Among the passengers who now walked down the gang-plank of the
packet-boat on to the quay, thankful for once to British eccentricity
for its unaccountable generosity in letting them go their way
unmolested, was a man, still young, with an expression of imperturbable
good-nature not unmixed with a certain bland shrewdness. This person,
after directing a servant, by whom he was accompanied, to have his
baggage taken to an hotel—possibly the “Roma”—betook himself alone
and on foot to the “Vescovado,” the palace of the Bishop of Savona, “a
fairly large house,” as Napoleon had described it in a letter in which
he had attempted to excuse himself for the choice of it as a residence
for his prisoner, Pope Pius VII.

The traveller, on arriving at the door of the Vescovado, found
his further way barred by a couple of gendarmes who were mounting
guard there; to them, on their asking his business, he replied that
he desired an interview with the Sovereign Pontiff, and requested
that they would let him pass. For all answer they stared at him,
open-mouthed, taking him for an eccentric; when their commander, a
Colonel Thévenot, who chanced to be passing, took the matter out of
their hands.

“Who are you, sir, and what do you want?” he enquired.

“I wish to see the Holy Father, as soon as possible,” replied the
other. “Allow me”—handing the Colonel a visiting card inscribed:

                      “LE CHEVALIER DE LEBZELTERN,
                         Conseiller d’Ambassade
                Sa Majesté l’Empereur d’Autriche et Roi
                        Apostolique de Hongrie.”

Having read the card, Thévenot glanced suspiciously at the owner of it;
then, seeing that he had indeed to do with a serious person, he turned
rather red in the face.

“Tut-tut, my dear sir, surely you cannot expect to obtain admission
to the Pope in this rough-and-ready way,” he stammered. “It is really
quite out of the question, you know,” with a wave of the hand to where,
in the courtyard, a corporal’s guard of fusiliers was preparing to
relieve the sentries posted in all the approaches of the building.

“Ah, the guard of honour, I suppose, for His Holiness,” returned the
Austrian, with the vestige of a smile; whereat Colonel Thévenot’s
equanimity gave way.

“Frankly, sir,” he broke out, “please understand that no living being
is allowed to enter here without a written order from General Berthier,
the commandant of the town.”

“Frankly, sir,” retorted Lebzeltern in his turn, “that does not apply
to myself, and I am going to enter.”

Happily for all concerned, the situation was dispelled at that moment
by the sound of heavy firing from the direction of the harbour, where
the British frigates had suddenly come in closer towards the town
in the intention of ascertaining the range of the French artillery,
especially of some large cannon on a new fort. The orders of Napoleon
himself, who was acquainted with this custom of the British, were
positive in regard to such provocations; and it was strictly enjoined
upon his officers to take no notice of them except in the event of
a serious attack. Nevertheless, the garrison of Savona lost its head
upon this particular occasion and opened an extensive fire upon the two
inquisitive ships. As Lebzeltern described it:

   “It was a splendid sight; the weather was superb, the sea like
   a mirror, the whole coast, as well as the English ships, being
   turned to gold in the sunset. On the side of Savona thundered the
   cannon, their smoke shot with flame; from the English, though,
   there came no sound except that of their bands playing their
   well-known air of, ‘Go to bed, go to bed, and get up as quickly
   as you can!’”

In the confusion of what the French imagined to be the preliminaries
of an action, the gates of the Vescovado were closed, and Lebzeltern,
thus forced to abandon his quest for the moment, turned his footsteps
towards the hotel. There was nothing for it, as he saw, but to obtain
General Berthier’s permission to see the Pope, with whom alone his
mission to Savona was concerned. Having dined, therefore, he despatched
a messenger to the Papal “maestro di camera,” Monsignor Doria, bearing
a letter from Count Metternich, the Austrian Ambassador in Paris, under
whose instructions he was acting, together with a formal request for an
audience of the Holy Father.

Some explanation is necessary of the origin of Lebzeltern’s mission to
Savona; and so I trust the reader will not take it amiss if I venture
upon the attempt.

When, in the summer of 1809, Napoleon sent orders to Rome for the
arrest of the Pope, he did so under the impulse of one of those blind
rages of his which upset all the calculations of his wisest advisers,
and which only ended in raising up insurmountable barriers in the
way of his ultimate triumph. For years he had been angered by the
Pope’s refusal either to close the ports of the Papal States against
English ships and merchandise, or to expel the English residents in
his dominions. In answer to the Emperor’s repeated demands, Pius VII
had said that, as the Universal Spiritual Father of all the Christian
family, he absolutely refused to close their home and his (_i.e._,
the Papal States) against his English children. Whereupon, in 1807,
Benevento and Pontecorvo were taken from the Papal States and erected
into French Duchies for Talleyrand and Bernadotte, to be held by them
as fiefs of the Empire. The next year, Rome itself was occupied by
French troops, and the “legations” of Ancona, Urbino, Macerata, and
Camerino seized by Napoleon’s orders; and, in 1809, the Eternal City
was declared to be annexed to the Empire as the capital of the French
département or county of Rome. Finally, in the night of July 5-6, 1809,
Pope Pius VII was arrested by General Radet and taken as a prisoner to

Napoleon’s idea, in thus imprisoning the Pontiff and isolating him from
his accustomed friends, counsellors, and surroundings, was to wring
from him by suffering that compliance with the imperial diplomacy which
the good old man had hitherto refused so uncompromisingly. To be sure,
now that Rome and the Papal States were in the hands of his soldiers,
the Emperor had no difficulty either in expelling or arresting the
English residing there, or in closing the whole of Romagna to British
merchandise; but, in his haste and anger, he had reckoned without the
religious difficulties of the new situation.

To begin with, in thus laying violent hands upon the person of the
Pope, he struck a blow not only at a fellow-Sovereign, but at the Head
of the Catholic Church on earth; and, in so doing, wounded the whole
of the Church in its tenderest feelings, stirring up against himself a
resentment that knew no bounds, not only in France, Belgium, and Italy,
but, also, in Spain and Austria; as well as throughout the Catholic
parts of Germany and the Netherlands. Protests multiplied on every
hand, becoming increasingly violent, until Napoleon was forced to admit
to himself that he had made a terrible mistake, and that his glory and
power were insufficient to seduce the souls of men from their religious
allegiance to the successor of St. Peter. Moreover, the dangers and
discomforts of his situation were rendered intolerable by a Bull of
Excommunication issued against him in that summer of 1809, in the tour
of his triumph over the Austrians at Wagram; which Bull was served
upon him in person, whilst surrounded by his marshals, by a solitary
ecclesiastic who, true to his mission, did not honour him with any kind
of salutation, but merely delivered the parchment into the Emperor’s
hand, turned his back upon him, and walked away. Napoleon, indeed,
feigned to make light of the excommunication, asking of those about him
whether the Pope expected the muskets to fall from the hands of his,
the Emperor’s, soldiers; but, in his heart, he was greatly troubled. He
had known for some time that such a Bull was on its way to him, but had
contrived to evade the service of it on him. For Lebzeltern, himself,
who was Secretary of the Austrian Embassy in Rome at the period of
the Holy Father’s arrest, and who had long been a valued and intimate
friend of Pius VII, had been entrusted with another such document at
his departure from Rome on an order transmitted to him from Napoleon
through General de Miollis, ordering him (albeit a foreign diplomatist)
to quit French territory immediately. Bearing with him, therefore,
the Bull of Excommunication, Lebzeltern had departed from Rome, being
escorted on his way to Vienna as far as Klagenfurt in Styria by a
French officer. On reaching Schönbrunn, however, he was arrested by the
French military police; his baggage and, even, his person was submitted
to a degrading search, and, at length, every other means of purloining
the Bull having been tried in vain, Lebzeltern was threatened with
being shot unless he gave up the document—for Napoleon would appear
to have entertained a superstition that, if only he could escape
from having the Bull served on him, its effect would be annulled!
But nothing would induce Lebzeltern to reveal its hiding-place; and
so he was sent off as a state prisoner to Munich, with a special
recommendation to the Bavarian Government to treat him as harshly as
possible. Having passed some months there, however, he was exchanged
against a Baron d’Arétin, and came to Vienna, believing himself to be
free at last; but now Wagram had been fought, and Napoleon was master
there; and Lebzeltern was again arrested on a trumped-up charge of
seeking to escape from giving satisfaction to a French officer in
an affair of honour! Nor would Napoleon let him go until compelled
to do so by the insistent demands of Metternich, who was just then
negotiating the peace preliminaries at Altenburg. At long length,
however, Lebzeltern was released, and joined the Austrian headquarters
near Schönbrunn a few days before the signing of the treaty of Vienna;
and it was he to whom Emperor Francis unburdened himself with tears in
his eyes on the subject of the Treaty.

Soon afterwards, Lebzeltern went to Paris as Secretary of Embassy
under Metternich; and when, in the late spring of 1810, Napoleon asked
Metternich to find him a man to entrust with the errand of persuading
the Holy Father to accede to his views (_i.e._, the removal of the
Excommunication and the abdication of the Temporal Power in favour of
the Napoleonic dynasty), Metternich recommended Lebzeltern as the one
person qualified to speak to the Pope with any chance of being accorded
a favourable hearing.

The whole hinge of the matter was the Pope’s renunciation of the
Temporal Power; only in return for which would Napoleon (as he made
perfectly clear to Metternich) allow the Pontiff to return to Rome,
whence, alone, it was possible for Pius VII to direct the way of the
Catholic Church. And, unless the Pope would surrender the patrimony of
Peter, he should never see Rome again; and the Emperor would nominate
another Pontiff in his stead. The position was certainly simple enough,
according to Napoleon.

But Metternich had added, in private, a little word of his own in the
ear of his estimable subordinate on the eve of the latter’s departure
for Italy. “Do all,” said he, with a peculiar emphasis, “or else, _do
nothing_.” And Lebzeltern, grasping the significance of the words, had
bowed, smilingly, before withdrawing to prepare for the journey. He
perfectly understood; what Metternich meant was that he was either to
effect “in toto” what both of them knew to be impossible or else he
was to effect nothing at all. That is to say, he was not to attempt
any compromise by which the Pope might be hoodwinked into doing what
Napoleon wanted; for it was perfectly certain that Pius VII would
refuse to meet the Emperor’s views as laid down by the Emperor himself
for transmission by Lebzeltern. And, as Metternich realised, the
salvation, not only of Austria but of all Europe, depended upon the
Pope’s holding out against Napoleon; for the only thing that must
inevitably, sooner or later, bring about the Emperor’s downfall, was
the sense of their outraged religion in the hearts of the vanquished.

After sending in his request for an audience to Monsignor Doria,
Lebzeltern went to call upon General Berthier, who was the commandant
of Savona and the Pope’s gaoler. Berthier had heard of his arrival,
and began by telling Lebzeltern—who had told him that the object of
his mission was to discuss some Austrian religious business with the
Holy Father—that he could only be allowed to converse with Pius VII
in the presence of witnesses. To this Lebzeltern replied that it was
impossible for him to speak freely of the affairs of the Austrian
Court in the presence of any third party whomsoever; that, according to
Napoleon himself, the Pope was under no kind of restraint; and, lastly,
that Napoleon both knew and approved of his, Lebzeltern’s, mission. But
it was not until Lebzeltern threatened to go back to Paris immediately
and to complain of the obstacle placed in his path that Berthier
finally surrendered the point—albeit not without a violent scene in
which he complained bitterly of the Emperor for placing him (as was
true enough) in so equivocal a position by first forbidding him to
allow any one to have access to the Pope without direct orders to do so
from Paris, and then sending Lebzeltern thus (underhandedly and without
as much as a line from any French official excepting a passport) to
match, as it were, his, Berthier’s, intelligence against his obedience.
Finally, he himself decided to give the preference to his intelligence.

So it was all of four days after his arrival at Savona that Lebzeltern
was ushered by Monsignor Doria into the Pope’s presence.

At that time, Pius VII, although in his sixty-eighth year, looked
considerably younger, his hair being still jet-black and abundant, and
his dark eyes full of life and light. The smile, too, which rarely
left his pale, kindly face, was peculiarly winsome in its frankness
and its serenity. The only signs about him of what he had endured of
late at the hands of the French administration were a weariness in his
voice and a marked stoop like that of a very old or very tired man. On
seeing Lebzeltern, though, he showed a greater animation and pleasure
than he had done for many months; especially was he delighted to learn
that their interview was to be an absolutely private one—for this he
regarded as a great indulgence on the part of his gaolers, it being the
first time in his captivity (then nearly a year old) that he had been
allowed to speak with any except in the presence of a third party.

At first, records Lebzeltern, the Holy Father spoke of his sufferings
in the journey from Rome and of all he had endured since being torn
from the Eternal City; also, he expressed his sympathies for his
visitor in what the latter had undergone of unjust imprisonment at
the hands of the French and the Bavarians. In return[9] Lebzeltern, as
he tells himself, gave the Pontiff an outline of public events since
their last meeting in Rome, prior to the battle of Wagram—the Treaty
of Vienna and its results; the progress of the war in Portugal; and
the marriage of Napoleon to the Archduchess Marie-Louise. _All of
which events Lebzeltern, a professional diplomatist and an Austrian
official, believed to be hitherto unknown to the Pope_—wherein lies one
of the most curious points of modern history. For, if Pope Pius VII was
supposed, even by such men as Metternich and Lebzeltern, to be still,
in May, 1810, in ignorance of the marriage of Napoleon to Marie-Louise,
how can it be claimed that the Supreme Pontiff’s sanction had ever
been given to that marriage? Apparently to Lebzeltern’s surprise, Pius
VII had, however, actually learned of the imperial marriage through
some secret channel: “... outwitting the watchfulness of his gaolers,
he received news day by day...!” For, amongst other indignities,
no letters were ever permitted to reach or issue from the Holy
Father except such as had been approved by Berthier and by a certain
Chabrol, Prefect of the “département” of Montenotte, by whom the Papal
correspondence was always read and censored; so that it was evidently
Napoleon’s purpose to keep his august prisoner in total ignorance of
the majority of the world’s events.

Nevertheless, Pius VII spoke with no bitterness, but only with great
grief of the French Emperor, expressing the most sorrowful tenderness
towards the man whom he had crowned Emperor at Notre Dame a few years
previously. And all he asked was that he might be allowed to go back to
Rome in order to be able to do his duty by the Church as her Pastor.

At this point Lebzeltern made known the real object of his coming to
Savona: namely, that Napoleon was anxious to come to an understanding
with the Pope. To the latter this was, indeed, a most welcome surprise;
but, almost immediately, he seemed to realise that he was suddenly in
the presence of some sort of insidious temptation which was preparing
to attack him. And here Lebzeltern, by turning the talk during some
minutes to Austrian affairs, sought to give his listener time in
which to recover from the first effects of his surprise. And so, for
a while, they spoke of the dangers of a schism that threatened the
German episcopate, so long deprived by Napoleon of the guidance of
their Shepherd. And then, as the Pope began more clearly to divine
the probable intentions of the Emperor towards him, he reverted to the
subject of his captor:

“I want nothing for myself,” he said, by way of warning Lebzeltern that
it would be of no use for him to offer any personal advantage to the
Pope (as such) as the price of a reconciliation with Napoleon. “I am
old, and have no need of anything; I have sacrificed all I had to my
duty. I have nothing left to lose. Therefore, no personal consideration
can make me turn aside from the narrow road along which the sacred
voice of my conscience has so far led me. I want no pension; the alms
of the faithful will suffice me.... All I insist upon—and with all my
strength—is that I be allowed free communication with the Bishops and
the faithful.” Once, too, he seemed uncertain of even the diplomatist’s
own intentions towards him. “At Rome, my dear Lebzeltern,” he reminded
him, “I opened my heart to you in the conviction that you were
incapable of abusing my confidence ...”—speaking rapidly in Italian.

And now, as Lebzeltern felt, the moment had come when he could no
longer defer the revelation of what it was that Napoleon proposed to
the Pope as the only possible basis of an agreement between them—that
is to say, the only price he would accept to let Pius VII out of
prison. It was by no means easy, as he gives one to understand, for the
young Austrian to do this thing; but, at length, he forced himself to
the point. After assuring the Holy Father once more of his own devotion
to him, as well as of that of Metternich and the Emperor Francis,
Lebzeltern proceeded to explain that Napoleon had in no way abated his
desire to be the lord of Rome, which had long been one of the principal
objects of his ambition; also, that he had in no way changed his mind
in regard to the Pope’s surrender of the Temporal Power; and that,
although Napoleon would not insist upon a formal deed of renunciation
on the part of Pius VII, yet, at the same time, he must insist that
the Pope should maintain an attitude of absolute submission in the
matter, an attitude which should in no way recall the past political
position of the Papacy, and which at bottom should be, in fact, an
acknowledgment of the suzerainty of the French Emperor.

The words were scarcely out of Lebzeltern’s mouth when the Pontiff took
him up with an amazing energy for so delicate a man.

“Is not Napoleon already, _de facto_, the master of Rome?” he demanded.
“Does he not parcel out my States as he pleases? Do not his troops
already hold my ports, camp in my capital, and live at my expense? And
all I can do is to oppose a few protests to his armed force. But I know
him; he is a man who never really wants what he says he wants—and what
he really wants he will never admit to a living soul beforehand.”

To which Lebzeltern, in order to restore the Pope’s equanimity, replied
by telling him how Metternich, in speaking to Napoleon, had declared
himself openly on the side of the Holy Father; and, moreover, had
emphatically impressed upon the Emperor the unchangeable principles[10]
of the Austrian Government in regard to the Catholic Church and its
visible spiritual Head on earth.

“I should indeed be grateful for any help that Austria could give me,”
said the Pope. “All I ask is that Napoleon will let me go back to
Rome and that he will allow me to keep about me a sufficient number
of people for the business of consistories and councils—and that my
relations with the faithful may be free and unhampered. I have no
means of compelling Napoleon to restore the dominions of which he has
robbed me—very well, all I can do is to protest. Beyond that I can do

Here Lebzeltern, it must be recorded, made some attempt to persuade
the Holy Father to make what he called “sacrifices” in the interests
of the distracted Church—but of what nature, precisely, he did not
specify. But Pius VII, reading his mind, replied that the duty imposed
upon him by his conscience of defending the rights of the Holy See
and the patrimony of the Church—which patrimony he was bound by his
oath as Pope to transmit intact, in so far as in him lay, to his
successors—forbade his remaining silent under Napoleon’s iniquity: his
silence would be understood, by his enemies, to be a tacit abdication
of the Temporal Power, and would be considered by the faithful as a
cowardly surrender.

From this point in the conversation the two men understood each other’s
position and standpoint clearly—and yet, both did their best to avoid
the blind-alley into which the talk was surely leading them.

“Let Napoleon only allow me to return to Rome,” pleaded the Pope—“the
Catacombs will be enough for me, they have served as a shelter before
now for other Pontiffs.... As to my sustenance, as I said before,
the faithful will take care of it. No doubt Napoleon would offer me a
revenue from the funds of the religious orders he has suppressed—in the
same way that, when I went to Paris to crown him, he offered me some
eighteen or twenty million francs of such stolen money—an unspeakable
suggestion which I refused with horror and indignation! But, indeed,
now that I think of it—how could I possibly hold my tongue as he
proposes I should do, and not protest, while he would go on suppressing
convents and religious orders under my very eyes, as well as
introducing innovations that I could not pass over in silence without
becoming his accomplice in the face of all Christendom?”

In response Lebzeltern submitted that, possibly, Napoleon’s malevolent
dispositions towards the Church might be beneficially affected by the
removal of the ban of excommunication under which he still lay.

“But Napoleon would be excommunicated without any Bull of mine,”
replied the other. “For he is, _ipso facto_, as a persecutor of the
Church, outside her pale. Even if I had never issued any such ban
against him, he would still be excommunicated by his own acts.”

Lebzeltern now proposed that the Holy Father should write a letter to
Napoleon, demanding with all gentleness and moderation to be set at
liberty and allowed to resume his apostolic functions. “I would even
ask his help to that end,” pursued the Austrian, “and I would publish
the letter. Such a letter would in no way disparage the Vicar of
Christ, ever ready to forgive sinners; and, at the same time, it would
place Napoleon in an exceedingly embarrassing situation before the
world. By so doing, your Holiness would infallibly destroy at a single
blow those weapons of calumny which he is employing against you, and
which he means to go on employing.”

“Listen, Lebzeltern. You know that I am willing to concede all that
it is possible to concede; but where my conscience is concerned, you
behold me perfectly resigned to remain as I am, a prisoner. If my
captivity were a thousand times harsher—if I had, even, to mount the
scaffold—I should not deviate by so much as a hair’s breadth from
what my duty demands of me. And it would be an unworthy betrayal of
that duty if I were to remove the ban of excommunication from Napoleon
without good and sufficient reason. As to the letter you propose that
I should write to him—a kind of encyclical, as it were—frankly I feel
that, in sending such a thing to a man like Napoleon, who is capable of
changing the wording of it, and then of publishing it to my detriment
and his own ends, I should do wrong in taking so grave a risk without
first consulting the Sacred College.”

And, on Lebzeltern’s arguing that it was the Pope’s duty to make the
first move towards a reconciliation with the Emperor, Pius VII was
silent for a moment, as though deliberating upon his next words. At
last he spoke again:

“If Napoleon shows a desire to become reconciled to the Church, and if
he will prove his sincerity by some deed, the thing can be arranged—and
I assure you that no one is more desirous of it than I.”

And with that the first interview came to an end. Lebzeltern did not
see the Pontiff again until two days later; on May 18, he found him in
a condition of great fatigue from overwork (as may easily be understood
when one remembers that _the entire business of the Church had fallen
upon the shoulders of the venerable Pontiff, deprived by Napoleon’s
orders of assistance of any kind_ in the transaction of that stupendous
task!) and having before him a letter recently received from Cardinal
Fesch. In this letter the Cardinal had written of the Emperor’s
intention—unless an agreement were speedily come to between himself
and the Holy Father—of settling the question by choosing Bishops that
would do his will from among the French clergy, Bishops who would
administer their dioceses in accordance with Napoleon’s instructions
alone and without any reference to the Pope. In answer, the Holy Father
had condescended to write back to the Cardinal to say that the Emperor
was evidently bent upon making impossible any reconciliation between
them; and that any Episcopal Council that the Emperor might call
together upon his own initiative would be absolutely null and void.
Nevertheless, he, the Pope, being unwilling to refuse any chance of
reconciliation, the Cardinal was to exhort Napoleon upon the subject;
to assure him of his glory in this world and in the next if he would
but sincerely become reconciled to the Church; and, equally, to
threaten him with condign punishment upon himself and his dynasty, if
he should persist in his persecution of the Church.

Lebzeltern now had to recognise that the Sovereign Pontiff had, in
his heart, lost all confidence in Napoleon’s good intentions; for
Pius VII now spoke of yet further pains and penalties that he had not
made use of and which were still at his disposal. Lebzeltern, though,
undiscouraged, only tried the harder to incline the Pope towards an
understanding with the Emperor.

“If Napoleon will do something in favour of the Church, then, and
not before, will I withdraw my excommunication of him,” replied the
Pontiff. “To gain absolution, one must do penance——”

“Surely, Holy Father—but, generally speaking, the absolution precedes
the penance”—a specious argument, this, of the diplomatist, seeing that
the fruit of the absolution is dependent upon the performance of the

All preliminaries being exhausted, it only remained for Lebzeltern to
disclose the absolutely last possible basis of an understanding between
the Pope and the Emperor.

“If the Emperor were willing to forego any formal act of abdication of
the Temporal Power on the part of your Holiness,” he ventured, “might
he count in return upon your absolute silence as to the past?”—By
which Lebzeltern meant that the Pope should by his silence give a tacit
sanction to all the things that Napoleon had done to the Church and her
ministers—his imprisonment of the Pope and many of the Cardinals, his
sequestration of countless Church moneys, his closing of the multitudes
of religious houses, and his throwing of their occupants, destitute and
homeless, upon the world.

“Out of the question,” said the Pope. “I could never feel sure of any
pact with Napoleon.” Presently, however, he added: “The guarantee,
though, of a third party to any treaty I might make with him would
certainly ease my mind considerably—especially if Austria would furnish
the guarantee.” And then, in an access of reconciliation, he continued:
“I have already told you what I would be disposed to do on my side
towards healing the breach between Napoleon and the Church. What more
does he want of me? Does he wish me to recognise him as Emperor of the
West? Very well, I am willing to do so. Does he wish me to crown him
as such at Rome? Very well, again I am quite ready to do so. For that
would not in any way be contrary to my conscience, provided only that
he makes his peace with the Church and ceases from persecuting her; but
I insist upon it that he shall respect her earthly Head in that Head’s
unchangeable capacity as the spiritual chief of Christendom!”

Lebzeltern was, indeed, astounded at the Pope’s generosity.

“Most Holy Father,” he stammered, “you have given too much not to give
just one little thing more—merely to allow your subjects to obey the
present Government in the Papal States, and to order them expressly to
do so.”

There followed a gesture of such pain on the part of the Sovereign
Pontiff, expressing so eloquently his repugnance to this proposal, that
Lebzeltern was penetrated with a shaft of regret for having made it.
Moreover, as he says himself, “I trembled at the thought of all I had
obtained from him!”

At the same time, Lebzeltern felt convinced of the uselessness of the
Pope’s concessions. He knew that Napoleon, unless he could obtain the
one thing on which his heart was set—the actual sovereignty of the
Papal States, and that with the Pope’s consent and blessing,—would not
for a moment consider anything else that might be offered him instead.

So Lebzeltern parted from the Holy Father for that day, his heart full
of indefinable misgivings for the dark future in which the power of
Napoleon loomed so vast and menacing, and in which there was no great
light visible to him of the Church, save only here and there, so to
speak, where the feeble red glow of a few distant, wide-scattered
sanctuary-lamps starred the mirk of the new Europe.

On May 20, Lebzeltern went for the last time to the Vescovado, to take
leave of the august prisoner within its walls.

On this last occasion of their meeting at Savona, the diplomatist found
Pius VII in a very strange frame of mind. Not by any means inclined to
withdraw the concessions he had made in the previous interview with
Lebzeltern, but only regretting them bitterly; hoping they might not
satisfy Napoleon and so be rejected by him. On Lebzeltern’s presenting
for his consideration a written outline of the concessions in question,
the Pontiff, after considering them a little while, rose suddenly from
his chair and spoke as follows:

   “I have made known to you, Lebzeltern, many of my most secret
   thoughts and sentiments which I would never have entrusted to
   another living man except my confessor; and I do not regret
   it, because I am perfectly certain that you will never abuse
   the confidence I have placed in you. Nevertheless, please bear
   in mind that I only authorise you to report of me to Napoleon
   and Metternich what I am now going to tell you, and which is
   just what you yourself have seen and heard—that I am perfectly
   resigned to God’s Will regarding me and that I humbly place
   my cause in His hands. Say that no consideration of any kind
   shall induce me to disobey my conscience and the Divine law.
   Tell them that I am calm and serene, and that all I ask of the
   Emperor—for whom I only hope and pray that he may be granted
   the grace to make his peace with our holy mother the Church—is
   that he will allow me the means of communicating freely with the
   faithful, and that he will no longer deprive them of the services
   of their father and servant. Tell the Emperor that I entreat
   him to remember that the glory of this world is in itself no
   passport to Heaven; that, albeit I yearn with all my heart to be
   reconciled with him, yet, that I will never be so at the price
   of my conscience. Assure him very earnestly that I have not the
   smallest personal feeling against him; that I forgive him with
   my whole heart all that he has done to me; and that nothing could
   hurt me more than that he should imagine me capable of harbouring
   resentments—which in themselves are forbidden by God and have no
   place either in my heart or in my inclination.”

Presently, among other things, he went on to speak of the private
misgivings with which Napoleon’s character inspired him: “Between
ourselves, Lebzeltern, I am convinced that Napoleon is not in good
faith when he says that he wishes to become reconciled with me.... If
only he would let me have some one here, at Savona, to help me in my
work, which is really and truly overwhelming; moreover, there is a vast
amount of specialist and technical business which I cannot possibly
transact by myself without consulting my expert advisers. And, to make
matters worse for me, my health and my eyesight are giving out; I do
not feel that I shall be able to carry my burden of solitary labour
very much longer; besides, it is bad for my temper, which I confess,
frankly, I often have great difficulty in curbing.”

Nor is there anything wonderful in this when one remembers the
Pope’s situation after being imprisoned nearly a year in the house
of the Bishop of Savona, shut off from the Cardinals (of whom the
only news he had was that they had been imprisoned and maltreated
in French fortresses by order of Napoleon) and from the faithful.
Alone with his doubts and difficulties and age and ill-health; and
the insidious temptations put before him by the Emperor’s instruments
(conscious, some of these, as was Fesch; unconscious, again, as was
Lebzeltern)—what is there astonishing or blamable in this “great
difficulty” so well and simply confessed by the most benignantly human
Barnabo Chiaramonte?

Presently he spoke again, to utter a final warning to Napoleon:

   “If Napoleon continues to make war upon religion (even although
   he does so under the guise of extending to it his hypocritical
   perfidious protection); if he attempts to have me dragged to
   Paris; if he goes on spreading the lie of my sacrificing the
   real interests of the Church to secondary matters and to worldly
   motives; if he persists in forcing me to more active reprisals,
   then—I shall have to use the last weapons that remain to me and
   which would make a stir in the world that he does not yet dream
   of. The only regret I should have in that case would be that some
   others—who have been less unkind to me than he—might suffer, too.
   As to the precise nature of those weapons, it is possible that
   their effect might be very different from anything you could
   imagine. But, make your mind easy; have no fear that I shall
   employ them unless I am absolutely obliged to do so. Do not be
   afraid of my doing anything precipitately, for I pray constantly
   for grace and strength sufficient to enable me to carry my cross
   patiently. But if you only knew the unvarying torment of my
   nights as well as of my days, Lebzeltern—the unceasing anguish of
   my solitude—you would not wonder at what must sometimes appear to
   you incomprehensible inconsistencies in my attitude towards many
   things—as must have been noticeable in the talks between us!”

And with that he dismissed Lebzeltern, who was as much moved as he;
for they now shared the same conviction of the utter emptiness of
Napoleon’s professions of a desire for reconciliation.

And, as it proved, the doors of Savona did not open for Pius VII
until the next year, 1811—and then only to allow of his deportation
to another prison at Fontainebleau, where he was to remain until
Napoleon’s downfall. Once only did the Sovereign Pontiff weaken (with
none but the purest of good intentions) when, in 1813, he consented,
for a moment, to renounce the Temporal Power, in order that he might
be allowed to go back to Rome, thence to direct the Church. But in
vain, for Napoleon would not let him out of his hands, and Pius VII,
perceiving the mistake he had made, announced to all whom it might
concern his resumption of the inalienable dominions and Temporal
Sovereignty of the Popes. And, in 1814, he returned to his rightful
throne in the Vatican amid the rejoicings of his subjects.

But what must have been his reflections in regard to his oppressor
during the five years (the exact duration of Napoleon’s crime against
him) that were consumed in the terrific expiation of St. Helena? And
his awe and amazement at the stupendous vindication of his trust in the
providence of Heaven?—for, as the Italian saying has it, “God does not
pay wages day by day, but only on Saturdays—and then He pays in full
with interest!”

Pius VII’s own revenge on Napoleon took the form of offering safe and
honoured homes, and the means to live, to his mother and his entire
family after his downfall. Whereby many descendants of the Bonapartes
are counted among the Roman nobles at this day.



  Castel Gandolfo—Its Gardens—The Sabine Hills—The Reverendo—An
  Expedition into the Hills—The Campagna in the Early Morning—“Our
  Lady of Good Counsel”—Ancient Præneste—Italy’s Landscape—Struggles
  of the Colonna—Destruction of Palestrina—Boniface’s Revenge and
  Expiation—Olevano, the Haunt of Artists—“Picturesque Utility”—The
  Wrong Train—Romance of a Pebble—The Work of the Saints.

We had chosen Castel Gandolfo for our summer quarters and had spent
two delightful months in the Villa Brazzà, situated on the lower edge
of the town, which climbed up the gentle slope behind, and having for
ourselves the open view of all the Campagna below us, before. The house
did not look large from the road, but very little of it showed itself
to the road at all. When one had passed under the arched “portone,” one
found a great rambling residence with a long terraced wing stretching
down into the garden, and in the garden itself pavilions, grottoes,
terraces, all bowered in flowers and so artistically disposed that
every one seemed isolated and only approached by long winding walks
delightfully shady and green. Where the chief sitting-room opened
towards the garden there was a small terrace, completely shaded from
the morning sun, with a fountain so disposed that it fell all down one
wall like a waterfall, and round it clambered and waved the wreaths of
a hundred creepers, ivy and stephanotis and jessamine and maidenhair
fern, all wet and blooming in the gentle moisture of its spray. To
the left the wing, in which my own rooms were situated, ran far down,
affording shade and coolness; a stairway led up to its roof, where vast
beds of petunias gave out their sweet perfume and were visited every
evening at sunset by humming-bird moths, who fed on the honey in the
white and purple chalices till they could scarcely fly away.

The house had been full of guests through July and August and the
summer had been divinely bright and cool. Through it all I had looked,
day after day, over towards the Sabine Hills, so remote and mysterious
for all their nearness to Rome, and a great desire was upon me to
penetrate into those blue fastnesses. They had been friends—at a
distance—all my life, since I could remember anything, and probably
before that, for the big eastern window of the room where I was born
looked straight towards them, and doubtless their sun-smitten peaks
were the first outside objects my eyes ever beheld. They are our
Sibyls, in Rome. They reflect every change of sun and wind, and very
early I learnt to tell the signs of the coming weather which they
infallibly gave us.

I made up my mind to reach them at last, and with some difficulty
persuaded my brother and my stepfather to come with me. We were joined
by a friend, an elderly English clergyman, much loved by us and always
known as the “Reverendo.” He came of exceedingly well-known people, but
was a younger son with no money—and no encumbrances, and he had long
amused us with his quaint ways. He was rather elderly, very tall, with
a paganly handsome head—and a quiet way of saying incredible things
that made me love him much, and work him hard, for I was a rather
spoilt young person in those days and allowed myself unlimited whims,
which my blessed family helped me to carry out in the most exemplary
way. I always had a very tender spot for the “Reverendo,” and it became
something uncomfortably near pity when I heard, from our servants, of
certain straits to which he was put in order to appear properly at the
little gatherings to which we were always inviting him. He lived a long
way from our house, and his means quite forbade the luxury of cabs,
so in all weathers he came on foot. The carefully turned-up evening
trousers could be kept out of the mud, but not so the shoes below;
so the Reverendo brought clean ones—and evening socks—with him. The
porter’s lodge was just inside the _porte cochère_, and he would turn
in there, regardless of what the inhabitants might be doing, sit down,
pull off the condemned foot-gear, toss it into various corners, put
on the clean things, and walk upstairs—all without a single word to
the porter’s wife and children, who put him down, quite smilingly, as
another “mad Englishman.” When the function upstairs was over he would
reappear, change once more, and depart, always in perfect silence.
But one evening Mrs. Porter told my maid she could have wept for the
poor gentleman! He came in as usual, sat down and pulled off boots
and socks, flung them away, and then discovered that he had forgotten
to bring fresh ones. Quite meekly he gathered up the muddy articles,
put them on, and disappeared into the night, to return, nearly an hour
later, with his forgotten properties and go through the whole ceremony
over again.

Like so many quiet, cultivated Englishmen whom circumstances more than
taste have landed in the “Establishment” for life, he had the social
instinct very strongly developed, loved bright society, and never
refused an invitation. He caught gladly at the idea of riding through
Sabina with us, and I knew that our expedition would be a success,
which it might not have been without the little spice of interest that
an outsider always brings into an otherwise too strictly family party.

So, one divine September morning we four rode forth, my dear mother
almost crying at our temerity in facing the brigands who were then
supposed to haunt the Eastern Hills. “Do bring back your ears with
you!” was her parting recommendation, and I know that during the days
of our absence she constantly dreaded receiving the grim packet of
severed ears which the old-time brigands were in the habit of sending,
with their little account for ransom, to the relatives of those they
had captured. Years before, when we children were making expeditions
from Rocca di Papa, we had, to our immense joy, been provided with
big formidable-looking toy pistols, which we were enjoined to carry
“in evidence”—so that the report might go about that the party was
always strongly armed! The only brigand we ever caught sight of in our
rambles through the lonely country would be an occasional outlaw who
had escaped from the police to take hiding in the woods (where he was
charitably maintained by his sympathising fellow-townsfolk) and who
would scuttle away like a startled hare at the approach of a big party
of young foreigners whose yells would probably reach to Rome itself if
anybody interfered with them. The brigand of Romagna is, or was, a poor
creature, very easily disposed of; his cousin in Calabria or Sicily is
quite a different kind of person, a resolute, unscrupulous gentleman
whom it is not at all pleasant to meet.

In one of his Roman books, Mr. Hare speaks of the unearthly beauty
of the Campagna and its surrounding hills in the first moments of the
dawn, and deplores the fact that so many travellers come and go away
again without ever having risen early enough to see it. I think dear
Mr. Hare made the discovery late in life himself, for, if I remember
rightly, it was during a journey of exploration that we made together
somewhere that the fact struck him—and I and my sister regarded him
then as distinctly middle-aged. My poor Annie was always a late riser,
and vehemently deprecated the unripe hours of the morning, as she did
every other kind of discomfort; but to me they were hours of purest
romance, and seldom have they seemed more perfect than on the day when
I and my three cavaliers rode away from Castel Gandolfo through the
woods towards Genazzano (not Genzano) where we were to halt on our way
to Palestrina.

Have you ever ridden through deep chestnut woods when the sun is still
so low that it only strikes the under branches of the trees, and creeps
up their trunks like a rising bath of gold? When every dell is still a
mist of cool emerald, and on the banks the level beams are kissing open
the tightly whorled fronds of the fern, filling the tiny cups of the
moss with topaz wine and turning its million-feathered spikelets into
an upstanding frieze of fairy spears, each strung with a yellow pearl?

Where some stream has cut its way deep through the rich soil, the
forget-me-nots have grown so high and thick that they almost meet
across the water; their blue is too dreamy yet to reflect the sky; they
look up to that with the calm unseeing innocence of a newborn child
that as yet knows not day from night. Ah, look well then, for later in
the day the jealous treetops will take all the light to themselves,
and every lovely detail, below, only visible in that first fleeting
hour, will be lost in the deep forest shadow that is neither light nor
darkness, but all one quivering mysterious green.

We four rode through the woods silently, drinking in the crystal
freshness of the air; and then, almost before we knew it, we were
out in a blaze of heat, leaving the Alban Hills behind and crossing
the plain that divides them from the Sabines, one of the old roads
to Naples. In that first week of September it was like an unroofed
hot-house, vines and corn and pomegranates crowding against each other
till one would hardly have known where to get in the shears or the
sickle; the dust from our horses’ feet rose in golden clouds as we
went along, and everywhere was the whirr of wings and the long droning
note of the cicala. We were glad enough to reach Genazzano and pause
in the shade before the old Church; but we had had some difficulty in
penetrating so far, the Piazza and every street leading to it being
full of peasants, who had come in from all the surrounding district
to pay their respects to the Madonna del Buon Consiglio, on this the
8th of September, our Blessed Lady’s birthday. Of course the greatest
concourse takes place here on April the 25th, the especial feast of
Our Lady of Good Counsel, but the people are always glad to repair to
this famous sanctuary, and on the day we visited it the little town
was full of the brilliant costumes which one very rarely sees now.
The picture round which so much devotion centres is a very sweet one,
rather Byzantine in character, as is natural, for it came to Italy from
the other side of the Adriatic—miraculously transported, probably at
the time when all that country came under Moslem rule. It was thus that
the Holy House of Loreto, when the Holy places of Jerusalem fell into
the hands of the Turks, was carried by the Angels to Christian shores,
and thence to Italy, the dwellers near its last Eastern resting-place
mourning despairingly round the deserted spot from which it disappeared
between dark and dawn on the night of the 9th of December, 1294. I am
writing of Genazzano and not of Loreto just now, but I must pause to
remark that this miracle of the transportation of the house of the
Blessed Virgin is far more clearly attested than many events in our
own modern history; yet there are people, who would stake their lives
on the truth of those events, who dismiss the miracle of Loreto with a
smile of incredulity.

This picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel would not interest them. Yet I
would advise even such persons to go and have a look at the beautiful
copy of it in St. John Lateran’s. It is quite small, a half length
or less; the Blessed Mother holds the Child in her arms, and he is
reaching up to whisper in her ear; she listens, with her heart in her
deep sweet eyes, and the “counsel” is stored up for the children who
appeal to her in their perplexities. There is an exquisite expression
of confidence and familiarity on both the celestial Faces. Our Holy
Father Pius X has such a great devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel
that, as all Catholics know, he has added the invocation “Mater Boni
Consilii, ora pro nobis,” to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.

From Genazzano we went on to Palestrina, arriving there in time to
go and watch the sunset from the ruined terraces of the Temple of
Fortune. The place has passed from hand to hand, used as a fortress
at one time and another since the fourth century before Christ; but to
me its interest never lay in those comparatively modern developments.
It is the story of times lost in the mist of ages, when those first
cyclopean blocks were fitted together without the aid of cement—when
a race, whose only traces are these mute huge stones that suggest all
and tell nothing, lived and fortified itself on this outpost of the
mountains—that is the story that I want to hear. There at Palestrina,
when the sun was sinking into the level gold of the sea—forty miles
away, but so clear and calm—I leaned over the stone bulwark, red in
the sunset, hot to my hand (had it not baked in four or five thousand
years of sunshine?), and felt that unearthly thrill of a revelation
palpitatingly near, yet still withheld. It has come only a few times in
my life—once at Torcello, once among the lost tombs of Etruria, there
at Palestrina, and in the great hall of the unmarked sepulchre of the
last Ming Emperor in Pechilia. That was modern, indeed, a Seventeenth
Century affair, but the ancient spirit was there—something that brooded
over a lonely, mighty country, unchanged, untampered with, before the
beginnings of history.

At Palestrina—or to give the place its right name, Præneste—the
Emperors were mere upstarts; Camillus, who took it and made it an
appanage of Rome four hundred years or so before this time—Marius and
Sulla, and the Roman ladies who had summer villas here and left those
amazing “vanity boxes” (such arsenals of cosmetics and beautifiers as
surprise even our modern beauty-artists) behind them—all these seem
vulgar intruders on that sacredly ancient ground.

For, of all the cities of Romagna, Præneste has, I think, the most
perfect situation. It seems to have grown out of the wall of the
hills to watch over the southern roads to Rome. Before it the Campagna
stretches away to the sea and to the north, the horizon there brokenly
outlined by the low Volscian and Ciminian Hills. Not so towards
the sea; in the near distance a castle or a single tower breaks the
plain, midway Rome shimmers like a net of pearls thrown down across
the Tiber; but the West is the empty West always, left to the sun
and the wind, with the wide Heavens above and that one long sword
of light laid on its further bound where the tideless Mediterranean
laps against the shore. To the south, at an almost direct angle, rise
the Alban Hills, near, familiar, friendly, with their symmetrical
volcanic slopes so restful to the eye; where they sink to the plain
farthest from Palestrina the Appian Way leads on to Naples, and that
is the way most of the world travels; but the more beautiful road is
the one which leads, right past the foot of the Sabines, through the
level valley which separates them from the Alban range, to Anagni and
Valmontone and Frosinone, following the classic Liris as it takes an
almost straight course through the garden it has ploughed and watered.
Seen from the Campagna, the Albans seem to be a range running east and
west, thrown up to make a frame and background for Rome; but travel
down the Liris and you will realise that all we see from Rome, Monte
Cavo, and his lesser brethren, with their scores of white towns, is
simply the culmination of a long branch of the Apeninnes, set up like
a screen between the central range and the fever-haunted seaboard
called Maremma. When about two-thirds of the distance to Naples is
accomplished, the range rises in the isolated peak of Rocca Monfina
to the height of nearly four thousand feet and becomes merged in the
central Apeninnes once more. The railway runs through now, but it is
still a wild, remote country, very feudal in its ways, with half-ruined
castles on every point of vantage, scowling down on a land that needs
them no longer, where fighting has ceased, and the good soil that has
had its way for centuries has brought forth those stores of corn and
wine and oil which seem to be South Italy’s inalienable dower.

From Palestrina, looking down on that September evening, the bursting
richness of it all seemed almost incredible. Right at the foot of the
hills a deep, abandoned watercourse was a golden river of standing
corn, bordered far on either side with dense greenery fringing off
into vineyards so teeming with fruit that, seen from above, it was
like a great mantle of dark amethyst patterned here and there, where
the white grapes grew, with jade. The woody slopes of the Sabines sank
into the rich carpet, and rose, away to the north, in stormy outlines,
now softened into dreamy rose and lilac, against the clear evening sky.
As the sun sank, even the cold silver of the olive trees, standing
tier above tier on their shallow terraces, took on the flush, as if
bathed in wine, and the darker foliage of oak and chestnut burned with
sombre yet vivid intensity. Then the sun touched the sea—lingered,
a ball of living crimson, for an instant, and plunged out of sight.
One star hung its newborn silver against the paling west; another and
another answered it, till all the dying blue overhead was pierced and
patterned with the faint sparklets in their eternal dance. Then from
behind the wall of peaks a broad fan of misty silver was thrown up
against the sky, growing, spreading, washing purple and crimson to one
untinted sheen; another moment, and the harvest moon heaved a golden
shoulder over the crags, rolled up, rounded itself, and hung, a great
honey-coloured globe, flooding the hills and the Campagna and the
distant sea with calm, all-embracing effulgence.

At the time of my first visit to Palestrina I was still sufficiently
attracted by the Middle Ages to find much romance in the struggles of
the Colonnas and their contemporaries, struggles which dragged the
harrow over the vast Temple of Fortune—reputed the biggest in the
world,—threw its stones one upon another, and left the place merely
a beautiful tomb. Since then, I confess, my interest has died away.
I can feel no sympathy with the noble cut-throats—Sciarras, Colonnas,
Orsinis—whose deeds are written in blood over every page of the time.
I used to weep over the sufferings they inflicted on Boniface VIII,
but, apart from the outrage on his sacred office, which can never be
condoned, one cannot help feeling that he deserved something of what
he got, and that, in spite of his high courage and notable intellect,
he had treated those his enemies very basely and cruelly. His election
in 1217 had been bitterly opposed by two Colonna Cardinals—Giacomo and
Pietro—who were furious at the thought that the Papal chair should
be filled by one of the Gaetonis of Anagni, the hereditary rivals
and enemies of their own family. The election went through, in spite
of them, and they, fearing the new Pope’s wrath, fled to Palestrina,
taking every member of the family with them. This was an open
declaration of war, and the Pope realised that there would be no peace
for his realm till they were subdued. With truly mediæval promptitude,
he at once confiscated all their estates and called on all good
Christians to take up arms against them. Their other strongholds fell
one by one into his hands, but Palestrina, with its tremendous defences
and commanding position, resisted every attack of the besiegers.
It seemed impregnable. Then Pope Boniface remembered that the most
victorious and ruthless leader of the day, Guido de Montefeltro, was
down on his knees in a convent at Ancona, praying to be forgiven some
of his deeds of blood before death should call him to judgment. He
commanded him to leave his retreat and come to give his advice as to
the reduction of Palestrina. Very unwillingly the old soldier obeyed,
and returned to that world which he had left just in time to save his
wicked soul. He went and looked at the Colonna fortress, examined the
defences with the eye of an expert, and returned to the Pope, who was
at Rieti. He told him that there was no hope of taking Palestrina by
force of arms. “What, then, am I to do?” cried Boniface. Guido knew,
but was unwilling to say. The Pope insisted on his giving his opinion,
and the crafty old fighter proffered the counsel for which Dante with
some justice put him in Malebolge—“Prometter lungo e tenere corto!”
“Promise much—fulfil little,” it would run in English.

Boniface instantly acted on the advice. The Colonnas were promised
full forgiveness. They thought it wise to accept and submit. In all the
habiliments of mourning repentance they issued from the stronghold they
were never to see again, and came in a body to Rieti. The Pope received
them, pronounced their crimes against himself forgiven, and kept them
at Rieti as his guests. But prudence, as he apprehended it, forbade
that he should leave that eyrie and refuge of rebellion standing for
them to fly to the next time they picked a quarrel with him. So, while
they were sunning themselves in his favour in the mountain city of the
South, he secretly despatched a faithful friend, Ranieri, the Bishop
of Pisa, to wipe Palestrina off the face of the earth. Nothing was to
be spared, except the Cathedral. And very thoroughly did Ranieri do
his work. Every vestige of the fortress and palace and the big town
which had grown up with them was destroyed—“a plough was driven over
the ruins, the ground was sown with salt, and even the famous marble
staircase of a hundred steps, up which people could ride their horses
into the palace,” was swept away.

Then the Colonnas, landless, homeless, penniless, understood how much
the Pope’s forgiveness was worth, and they fled from his domains to
nurse their wrongs and wait for revenge.

That came in good, or rather very evil, time, and Boniface paid in full
during the awful days at Anagni, days so dreadful that one quarrels
with Dante for not regarding them as sufficient expiation for the
harassed Pontiff’s one great sin. He was driven into a quarrel with
Philippe le Bel, the King of France, and Sciarra Colonna, the Head of
the proscribed House, caught at the chance and offered his services to
the French. In company with their leader, William de Nogaret, he broke
into Anagni, Boniface’s own city where he had taken refuge, and, but
for the opposition of Nogaret, he would, apparently, have murdered his
great enemy on the spot.

Here Boniface showed all the valour of his race and place. He prepared
to meet death with the dignity of a priest and the courage of a
soldier. “If I am to die, I will die like a Pope,” he said. Every
friend, every Cardinal and chaplain and courtier fled as the shout of
“A Colonna, a Colonna!” rose from the lower streets of the mountain
town. Not a soul was left in the palace but the Pope. He put on his
pontifical vestments, placed the tiara on his head, and mounted his
throne, where he sat like a statue, awaiting certain death. Colonna
and Nogaret, with three hundred steel-clad men at their heels,
clanked into the hall, and stood dumb for a moment at the sight of
their great enemy, who neither spoke nor moved. Then they rushed upon
him and Sciarra Colonna assailed him with a fiery torrent of abuse,
his anger feeding on itself till it ran through him like a flame,
and he struck the Pontiff on the face with his mailed hand. Nogaret
protested—Boniface said no word. He meant to suffer for his sins in
silence, because so had the Redeemer suffered for sins not His. They
dragged the Pope from his throne, hustled him out into the Square, all
black with the gaping, cowardly crowd of his own subjects, put him on
a vicious horse with his face to the tail, and led him with outbursts
of derision through the streets. Not a hand was raised to defend him,
not a protest was heard. Then his conquerors brought him back to his
palace and locked him up, without food or drink, for three miserable
days, during which they sacked not only the palace, but every house
in the town, riding away at last glutted with plunder, destroying what
they could not carry off, and leaving literally nothing but bare walls
behind them. Then, all danger being past, Boniface’s loving subjects
bethought themselves of letting him out. They found him fainting from
exhaustion, crying like a starved child for a morsel of bread and a
cup of water. The women wept over him then, and ran to minister to his
wants; not so much as a water-jar had been left in the palace, and they
emptied their bronze concas into a wooden chest. Boniface died soon
after, in Rome, broken-hearted, and the carnival of anarchy in high
places, with its raging hate and its fury of bloodshed, went on for
many a long year afterwards.

Truly, mediæval history makes depressing reading! How gladly the mind
reverts from it to the dawn of the centuries, when men fought for
their cities and their wives and children, but not for mere hatred of
their kind. And what a relief it is to turn from the endless carnage
of the later Middle Ages to the history that is not written in blood
and that charms and dominates us still, the history of strange holy
lives every pulse of which was an act of love to God and mankind. It
is but a step from one to the other—from Boniface VIII and the Colonnas
and the Orsinis to Benedict and Scholastica—from smitten Palestrina to
cloistered Subiaco behind it in the hills.

On the way thither one stopped for a day in Olevano, to me the least
Italian, the most completely “foreignised” spot in all that country. It
has been for so many years the haunt of artists of every nationality
that it has none left of its own. Its beauty there is no denying;
it laughs in sunshine and prosperity, and for that, in these bad
times, one is grateful to it. But it is no more Italian than a fine
piece of staging at the Haymarket. The background is perfect, and
the inhabitants are healthy and handsome, but the moment they see a
traveller coming they throw themselves into paintable attitudes; all
naturalness seems gone; everything and everybody is harnessed to the
service of picturesque utility. The famous inn, about which Gregorovius
and Mr. Hare raved so enthusiastically, resounds with Northern tongues
and with that ear-splitting affliction known as German Italian. The
walls are a visitors’ book, of untold price, where almost every notable
artist of the last hundred years has left his signature in sketch or
portrait. At every turn you are tripped up by easels, wet canvases, and
artists’ umbrellas, and in the evening the beer flows freely and the
jolly brotherhood talks about itself at the top of its German voice,
till Italy—our shy, melancholy Italy—fades into the background, and a
weary traveller trying to sleep, in one of the bedrooms which all open
out of the central dining-room, is led to believe that he has taken the
wrong train and been transported unawares to the scene of a “Kneipe” in
Munich or Dresden.

Talking about “wrong trains” reminds me of an absurd incident that
happened in England. A wayfarer who had taken a little more than was
good for him wandered into Victoria Station, having quite forgotten
the name of the place he wished to make for. But he could remember
what it was _not_. Into every train that came along he climbed—and
then asked the guard for what point it was bound. None of the answers
satisfied him and he tumbled out on the platform again and again,
wailing, “Wrong train! wrong train!” At last, however, he struck the
right one, the guard’s answer to his query brought back the memory of
his domicile, and, much relieved, he sank down against the cushions
and began to smoke. At the first station on the road a clergyman got
into the compartment, and the train steamed on. Harder and harder the
reverend gentleman stared at his companion, who showed all too plainly
the evidences of his spree. Pretty soon, just as they were pulling
into another station, the Christian’s conscience bade him admonish his
erring brother.

“My friend,” he began in solemn tones, “do you know where you are going
to?” The overtaken one was all attention at once, and his monitor went
on, “You are going _straight to Hell_!”

“Oh, Lord!” moaned the sinner on the opposite seat. “Wrong train
_again_!” And he sprang out of the carriage and stood weeping on the
platform while his one chance of getting home sped away from him into
the night.

We were little troubled by railways in the Sabines in my young days;
such innovations had not ever been contemplated, and all our travelling
was done on horses or mules. It was rather a long ride from Olevano to
Subiaco and I was very tired and stiff when our little party straggled
into the road leading up to the town. But—what is youth without some
impossible romance? My “romance” had marched that way the year before,
with his company of Zouaves, condemned to garrison duty for three
dreary months in the hills; and _this_ (“parents, do you think you
know your children?”) was the utterly idiotic motive which had made
me drag my three unsuspecting men to Subiaco! I wanted to pick up a
stone that had been touched by the adored one’s foot! Very gingerly I
climbed down off my weary beast, selected a fine smooth pebble from the
side of the road where I knew my idol must have passed, and, with much
difficulty, scrambled up again. The pebble was afterwards polished,
cut, and set in Etruscan gold, as a pendant, marked with a mystic
inscription signifying a challenge to fate to lessen the ardour of my
attachment; and when I found it among my trinkets, long years after my
real fate had found and claimed me, I could have wept for the delicious
rainbow-tinted sorrows of first youth!

But the treasure once secured, and the luxury of tears reserved for
some future unoccupied moment, I gave myself up to the magic of the
consecrated cleft in the hills, and, in spite of my own profound
ignorance in those days, in spite of the sceptical attitude of my
Presbyterian stepfather and the Anglican Reverendo, and my dear
Marion’s bubbling fun and laughter—for he was a mere boy then, of the
most irrepressible kind—the “Sacro Speco” made a profound impression on

It was as if a door leading out of some gay ballroom, all lights and
flowers and dance music, had suddenly been opened and I had passed
through it from the things of time to those of eternity. Fifteen
hundred years were wiped out—I saw St. Benedict, the “beloved, called
from the cleft in the rock,” praying, rejoicing, hiding from men to
be alone with God. And that seems to me the most wonderful thing in
the lives of the great Founders—they had not at first the smallest
forethought of their mission. They only knew that they must save their
souls in fear and trembling, and in blind humility they withdrew from
all occasions of sin and prayed for purification. It forms a curious
contrast to the life led by most of us who consider ourselves pretty
decent Christians in the eyes of the world. _Our_ question is, “How
much pleasure and amusement can I get in without actually falling into
mortal sin?” and many a dangerous permission we grant ourselves or
wring from our unwilling directors, that refused would have prevented,
or at least delayed, a hundred falls. It is so terribly easy to do
what all the rest are doing—to go and see the problem play, read the
interesting bad book, pay the visit at the country house where the
old admirer will meet us and spread the old snares for our destruction
and his own! We know all about it; it has happened so often; but we go
ahead, telling our hearts the lie they know so well: “Oh, it doesn’t
matter! I know just where to stop!” Steeped in affection to sin—with,
at the best, ages of Purgatory awaiting us—we add every straw we can
gather to our already huge burden and imagine we can lay it down with a
good deathbed confession and slip into Paradise with the best!

Very different was the point of view of the great Saints. For one
who was converted late in life, we read of scores to whom Perfection
called in the very dawn of reason; and it is precisely these, who
never committed a mortal sin in their lives, who were most severe with
themselves—most nervous, as we should say—about their final salvation.

Their sight, never clouded by any consent to evil, saw even in the most
trifling failings a heinous offence against the Divine Majesty, and Its
infinite Purity, visible to them, made their own fallen nature black
by contrast. So they took that nature in hand, these athletes (called
Benedict, and Francis, and Anthony, and many another blessed name
written in the “Libro d’Oro” of the recording Angel), and thought a
lifetime would not be too much to give to the task of subduing it. And
the Heavenly Father bade them go on and be of good courage; and never,
till the predestined moment came, did He let them dream that their
years of prayer and fasting were just a preparation for generalship
in His army, that in humbly striving to save their own souls they were
fitting themselves to save millions and millions of others. The first
symptom one notices about them is their complete disregard of the
natty little idol we call “respectability”—the Church calls it “human
respect.” We quite understand that great men should kick it out of the
way—whoever heard of Wellington or Kitchener asking, “What are people
going to say?” Their gifts and their calling place them above the reach
of considerations by which we ordinary mortals are content to regulate
our actions. We admire, rave over, their splendid carelessness. But
when it comes to the Saints we take our shrunken measure, try to fit
it to their conduct, and shake our heads. Their whole-heartedness is
eccentricity, they thought nothing of inflicting most damaging shocks
on public opinion—what a pity! And if we see any of our acquaintances
beginning to follow in their steps we look the other way, as if the
poor dears had come out into the street half dressed. I wonder how many
of her friends cared to bow to the late Countess of Denbigh when, a few
years ago, she took Bridget’s place at the crossing near Farm Street
and swept it diligently, and stretched out her blessed hand for the
pennies, and never thought she was doing anything heroic—just keeping
old Bridget’s crossing for her while she went to Mass! I believe the
very Angels wanted to throw down their shining mantles for her to walk
over when she went to Heaven—but I am sure some of her friends on earth
thought she was putting them in a most embarrassing position.

Lady Georgiana Fullerton, in her “Life of Santa Francesca Romana,” has
described very truly and sympathetically these—to us—puzzling stages
in the development of saintship. They vary in degree, of course, in
each individual case, but the same note runs through all: “Permission
to labour first,—the result far distant, but clear; the vision of that
result when once He had said, ‘Begin and work.’ To tarry patiently for
that signal, to obey it unhesitatingly when once given, is the rule
of the Saints. How marvellous is their instinct! how accordant their
practice! First, the hidden life, the common life; the silence of the
house of Nazareth; the carpenter’s shop; the marriage-feast, it may
be, for some; and, at last, ‘the hour is come,’ and the true work for
which they are sent into the world has to be done, in the desert or in
the cloister, in the temple or in the market-place, on Mount Tabor or
on Mount Calvary; and the martyr or the confessor, the founder or the
reformer of a religious order, comes forth, and in an instant, or in a
few years, performs a work at which earth wonders and angels rejoice.”



  The Apennines—View from a Peak—Real Hospitality—Polenta—Woods
  of Sabina—A Hill Family—The Cook—A Queer Adventure—People of
  the South—A Night Festival in the Abruzzi—The Journey—The Old
  Organ—Marion Crawford’s Boys—Juvenile Theatricals.

How much our Italy of Rome and Naples owes to the Apennines! How
gratefully should lovers of romance and history regard that mighty
chain that runs, an inland sea of crag and peak, forest and ravine,
between shore and shore! Physically and morally, it is the backbone
of the country, the fortress of tradition, the nurse of what our
modern cant calls, “Plain living and high thinking.” Its hard, yet
beneficent, climate, with sharp delimitations of season, its passes
so obdurate to the tainting allurements of railways, its hundreds
of sturdy, self-contained little towns, each with its story of its
own saints and heroes, its ancestry of tradition that laughs at the
flight of centuries—all this has bred a race of men and women of
whom modern Italy knows little, but who form the residue by which
the mixed enfeebled masses of her cities and plains will in the end
be saved. Faith is strong; morals, though often transgressed, still
clear and commanding. New fads, make-believe religions, free love and
race suicide presented as twin benefits to humanity, the worship of
materialism—all the old crimes that come dressed up as new virtues—find
no foothold here. The “pale-pink uplift” of these modern shams would be
laughed to scorn by our people of Sabina and Abruzzi and Ciocciarìa.
Their parish priests tramp round amongst them as friends and mentors.
The “parroco” and the apothecary may be the only persons in a whole
community who can read, but the child of ten knows the commandments
of God and the Church, and the innovator who attempts to make little
of these meets with a very cold reception. The people have many faults
and many weaknesses, but they are all human ones, and, frankly, I would
rather have to do with the man who has slain a rival or a sweetheart in
a fit of jealous anger than with a railway magnate or a prophet of the
Decadent. The murderer’s record is probably a good deal cleaner than

So my inheritance of Sabina has always been very precious to me. Many
weary years have passed since I set foot there, but the remembrance of
young days spent in those high rich solitudes comes still as a fresh
breeze across the dusty wastes of the world, and very gladly shall
I return to them before I die. I have travelled so far and seen such
strange and endless varieties of scenery that I think I have a right
to say that there are few places on earth where nature has done more to
rejoice and strengthen the body and soul of man.

From Rome the Sabines are merely a noble chain of peaks, culminating
in the calm Lion profile of the couchant “Lionessa,” her face to the
north, waiting through the long blue days of summer for the crown
of snow that the winter lays on her brow. The slopes and spurs that
descend towards the Campagna are smiling enough—as they should be,
turned everlastingly to the sun and the sea. One must pass beyond
all that, climb by rough and narrow paths to the great tossed heart
of the hills, and stand on some peak like Guadognolo to take in the
amazing grandeur of the Sabines. Even from lower places—Olevano, for
instance—you may look east and west and south and north, and feel as
if you were standing on an island crag in an ocean of long sapphire
billows rolling away, breaker beyond breaker, into infinity, a sea
that in some moment of surpassing pride raised its breast too near the
sky and froze to stone in that passion of ambition; and your heart,
the heart of the native-born, tells you that every hollow between the
breakers holds its rivers and lakes smothered in olives and vines and
corn, its walled town and ancient Church, its old fortified farmhouses,
dazzlingly white against the sun-warmed rock of the mounting
ridge—farmhouses with broad brick loggias garlanded with festoons of
scarlet and orange, the bursting red “pepperoni” as big as citrons, and
strings of flame-coloured maize like golden spear-heads, all drying in
the sun for the winter’s needs.

Stop at one of these houses and ask for hospitality, and you will
find out what the word really means. I have often thought of it when I
was sitting through huge official dinners where the great ones of the
earth were arranging its destinies over the champagne and truffles—with
the murder of a nation in their hearts. The commanded smile, and the
cold watchful eyes—the men fencing with words for rapiers, and we
women watching every play of the shrouded steel and pretending to talk
amiable nothings to each other; the gasp of relief at parting, and the
consignment to everlasting perdition of the adversary, which broke from
our worried mate when the door of the brougham had been clapped to and
we could sink back on the cushions as we rolled away! Then would return
a vision of some halt in the hills at home, of the dark cavernous
kitchen with its freshly sprinkled brick floor and its bunches of
herbs hanging from the high blackened beams overhead shedding their
dry fragrance on the air, so cool and refreshing on entering from the
burning midday sunshine outside. “Favorisca!” cries the “Sposa”—she
may be eighteen or eighty, but that is her title from her wedding day
forward.—“Condescend to enter! Let the signori be accommodated!” The
rush-bottomed chairs are set out on the loggia in the shade, the boys
are sent to fetch ice-cool water from the well, and, as the bucket goes
splashing down into the invisible flood and comes up all diamonds in
the sun, “Sposa” brings out four or five heavy glasses, freshly rinsed,
in the fingers of one hand and a straw-bound fiaschetta of her own
wine in the other. “Vino sincero, signori miei!” she assures you as
she sets it down on the deal table already spread with the clean cloth
that smells of rosemary. Ay, a “sincere wine,” with no “dope” in its
crimson or topaz depths, and the welcome is as sincere as the wine. She
pours it out, smiling, her handsome head and rich costume standing out
picturesquely against the dark doorway behind her, within which one of
her girls is kneeling on the bricks, washing freshly pulled lettuce for
your salad in a great copper bowl, hand-beaten and reflecting the light
from every one of its red-bronze facets. Everything in the kitchen is
of beaten copper; these people would as soon think of cooking in any
other metal as of sleeping in cotton sheets—a degradation the poorest
scorns to put up with.

“Sposa” disappears within the kitchen and one of the girls comes out
to entertain the visitors while the dinner is cooking. She stands with
one hand on the back of a chair, the other fingering her blue and
yellow apron, pink with shyness, but devoured with curiosity. Every
detail of one’s dress, every bit of jewellery is being taken in—to be
described to all the other girls of the place when they meet at Church
on Sunday—but she answers one’s questions with a confident smile.
How old? Oh, “in seventeen”—that is, sixteen last birthday. Her name?
Candiduccia, at the Signora’s service! Betrothed! A pinker flush and an
indescribable little movement of the shoulders, and then down goes her
head, while “Mammà,” whose sharp ears have heard all, replies in her
deep sonorous tones, from among the pots and pans: “A good youth, but
he is getting a bad bargain! This lazy one has not spun half her linen
yet. I had mine all spun and woven by the time I was fourteen! Here,
thou! come and fetch the plates! The illustrious ones are hungry!”

Candiduccia dives into the kitchen, and a moment later your dinner is
before you—a big dimpled omelet, trout from the stream fried in olive
oil, and crisp salad in a big majolica bowl. Sposa cuts the fresh rough
bread—first making the sign of the Cross over the loaf—and serves you
cream cheese, made from goat’s milk, instead of butter. Butter and
cow’s milk do not enter into the Sabina bill of fare; our mountain
people do not care about these things, but it is a feast for the gods,
all the same.

When the time comes to go, you give Sposa what you think right, and
she takes it rather unwillingly, but very gratefully, and as you ride
away she and her girls stand at the door and wave their hands and say,
“La Madonna v’accompagni”; and the boys, young rascals, will race your
horses to the foot of the hill or the turn in the road, knowing well
that you will give them a few coppers for their very own as soon as you
are out of sight of “Mammà,” who, you may be sure, will never hear of
the transaction.

If one is an invited guest at some important farmhouse, an elaborate
feast is prepared, and there are heart-burnings if the guests do not
eat heartily of everything. I remember once going with the Cavalettis
to the “bene” of one of their tenants, for dinner—a really mediæval
repast which staggered even my robust young appetite. It began with
the “polentata,” a curious first course which is _de rigueur_ in
Sabina when guests of honour are being entertained. The chief table
was already set out with a dozen kinds of fresh and dried fruits,
“alicetti” (the tiny local sardines), smoked ham, and home-made
liqueurs, all intended to stimulate the appetite. But before sitting
down to that we were led to a small pinewood table at one side of
the room and requested to take our seats around it. Then the mistress
of the house advanced with a huge cauldron of polenta, which, to my
consternation, she poured out on the freshly scrubbed table-top, so
deftly that it exactly covered the entire surface. I stared, wondering
what was to happen next; but my companions took no notice of me, and
the Marchese, whom his peasants adored—as did everybody else who knew
him—leant back in his chair and discussed the condition of the game in
the woods with “Sor Giacomo,” while the wife, a piece of new string in
her hands, watched the polenta cool and fix to about the consistency
of cream cheese. Then, suddenly leaning over my shoulder, she cut it
swiftly across and across with the string in symmetrical divisions
nearly a foot square, one for each person, solemnly handed us each a
spoon, and, bowing gracefully, begged us to eat!

It was a searching preparation for a hearty meal!

On another occasion we were invited to dinner at the house of a country
notable many miles away, but still connected with the Cavaletti
domains. It was early autumn, and we had an enchanting ride in the
bright cool morning through the deep woods, where the chestnut burrs
came padding down on the moss with soft thuds as we passed, and here
and there some delicate ash or birch was already flaming into orange
with the first touch of the frost. They looked like torches alight in
the forest. They are so deep and green, those woods of Sabina, rich
with oak and chestnut, elm and beech, a fairyland of moss and fern
below, a world of sun and shadow above! The flowers are very delicate,
too, harebells like thin amethyst, and the dainty wild pansy that lifts
her little startled head like a Louis XV beauty who has lost her way;
and there are stars of Bethlehem, growing always apart and lonely,
five white petals with a touch of greenish gold for a heart, swinging
in the breeze on a long translucent stem; and wild strawberries—snowy
flower and crimson berry springing side by side among the broad
trefoil leaves; and wild garlic, a mass of spotless bloom, and magic
elder with great posies of perfumed level rime; and fern so tall that
one could lose oneself in it, seeking for the threaded turquoise
of forget-me-nots that grow beneath; and thousands more, fragile,
exquisite things blooming in the deep peace of the undergrowth, while
far overhead the strong tree-tops laugh in the wind and take all the

I remember how sorry I was when we left the woods behind that day
and reached a tiny walled town with, of course, a Church, a piazza, a
fountain, and one big house standing aggressively square to the street,
a typical Italian house with as many windows as could possibly be put
into it, all green-shuttered, and most of them balconied. That was all
I saw, for as we drew rein at the entrance we were surrounded by the
whole family, all grown-up men and women, who lifted us girls down from
our saddles, took possession of all our belongings, and all but carried
us up to a big cool room on the first floor, with many expressions of
sympathy for our supposed fatigue after the long ride. I believe they
thought us rather daring for venturing ourselves on the shaggy mountain
ponies at all, for few Italian women in the country ever mount anything
more frisky than a tried and sober donkey.

Having settled us on the “canapé”—a very large sofa covered with green
and scarlet checks—and provided us with rosolio and cakes to keep
us good, all the ladies disappeared together. The men were buzzing
around the Marchese, who, like the lover of horses he was, insisted
on seeing the animals housed and fed; then a kind of electric thrill
ran through the house, the Signora and her daughters came to fetch us
from the salone, and everybody moved towards the dining-room. I was a
little surprised to see so few seats at the table, which was covered
with every kind of dainty and very prettily arranged; but the matter
was explained when it became evident that the ladies of the family
were to wait upon us and their own men in approved feudal fashion. I
say “ladies” advisedly, for these were people as far removed from the
peasant class as they considered themselves from that of the Marchese.
They had never worn the costume of the contadine; they belonged to
the great respectable middle class, from which most of the professions
are supplied; both men and women spoke without a trace of dialect, and
their manners were perfect—but then, thank Heaven, Italy is the natural
home of good manners! I shall never forget the gentle, unobtrusive
sweetness of those women, as they moved about in perfect silence,
in their black Sunday frocks and little bits of ancient jewellery,
attending to all our wants so carefully and deftly, but refusing to
take any part in the conversation. That was not what was expected of

The long elaborate feast had gone from “ante-pasto” and vermouth
right through to the sweets; my girl friend and I looked at each other
questioningly. We were growing fidgetty and wondered who was to give
the signal to rise, since we were the only women at the table—when,
to our dismay and despair, the whole meal began all over again! Course
after course, in regular sequence, we had to sit it through and pretend
to taste the new varieties of fish, flesh, and fowl which came in a
steady stream from the kitchen. It was like some crazy dream! I think
we had sat at that table nearly four hours before we were invited to
take our coffee in the salone. The sun was sinking then, and, to our
intense relief, the Marchese announced that we must be moving or we
should not reach home that night. The farewells were elaborate, and our
gratitude for all the trouble the dear people had taken was very real;
they packed a whole hamper of ancient Roman dainties for us to take
along lest we should faint by the way; but our joy when we got into
the open air, with our faces towards home, was inexpressible. As we
entered the woods—less alluring in the dusk than in the fresh morning
hours—a shadowy fourth joined our party, a smiling little man on a very
small donkey. In two minutes the Marchese had made friends with him and
called out to us in English: “Girls, think up some compliments! This
is the man who cooked the dinner. They sent twenty miles for him—and he
wants to know if you liked it!”

A woman noted for the charm and variety of her entertainments once said
to me: “I do try to give respectable parties, but somehow they always
turn into school feasts!” I am afraid the same kind of thing happens
to me in regard to serious subjects. With the best intentions in the
world I start to tell the story of some great person who has kindled my
admiration—and in the middle of the tale the sun strikes on my page—a
child laughs across the street—or some old refrain comes lilting to my
ears, and farewell to the historic train of thought! My hero or saint
recedes into the shadows and relinquishes the canvas to a thousand
amiable little sprites of memory, who hold it till they have frisked
through the very last step of their dance!

I do not know why, on this sunny July morning, there should rise before
me a picture of a dark old house in the steep street of a Sabina town,
where we drew rein after a long day’s ride to ask for rooms. The night
was falling, there was no inn in the place, and somebody had told us
that perhaps the people here would take us in. Our party was that with
which I left Castel Gandolfo some chapters ago—my stepfather, Marion,
and the Hon. and Rev. G—— C——, who had already several times saved
my life by stopping my runaway steed, a wall-eyed old crock given
to me because he looked so reassuringly tame. He was quiet enough at
that moment; we were both stiff and tired; and I slid to the ground,
resolved not to go a step further, whatever the people of the house
should say. The padrona came down and looked us over critically. Yes,
she could take in the gentlemen if they would all sleep in one room,
but it was impossible to receive the signorina—there was really nowhere
to put her! I replied by walking into the house, and sitting down
on the first chair I could find, and defying her to turn me out. She
stood and looked at me, considering. “Well,” she said at last, “there
_is_ a room—it belongs to my little boy—perhaps he will not come home
to-night. Yes, you may sleep there, Poverina! I see you are tired out.”

She led me down a long twisting passage and threw open a door,
holding the brass “lucerna” high to light me in. I saw a bed and a
chair, and what I took to be a highly variegated wallpaper. “It will
do beautifully,” I said. “Tell the gentlemen that I don’t want any
supper—I am going straight to bed!”

“Buon riposo, bella mia!” (A good rest, my beautiful!) she replied,
and shutting the door tramped away till her footsteps were lost in the
distance. Then I looked round. “What a funny room for a little boy!”
I thought. Guns and hunting knives hung on racks all about, and what
I had thought was wallpaper turned out to be a gigantic collection of
the pictures off the French match-boxes, which had just begun to find
their way into our part of the world, and which were not admitted into
our house because they were so improper. The little boy had covered the
walls with them from top to bottom! Well, it was none of my business,
and I prepared to lie down and forget them, but when I went to lock the
door I found that it had no key and would hardly close at all. Fatigue,
however, got the better of nervousness—it was a respectable house,
after all.

I was almost ready to get into bed, when a heavy step came along the
passage, accompanied by the cheerful whistling of an old opera air.
I sprang up, too late to prevent the door being thrown wide open—and
found myself staring at a tall young man in town clothes and a red tie,
who jumped back as if he had been shot. I screamed—he swore—and then we
both broke into peals of laughter. As soon as he could get his breath
he apologised abjectly for the intrusion—“Mammà” had not told him
about any guests—I was a thousand times welcome to his room—and would I
permit him to look for some necessary articles before he relieved me of
the inconvenience of his presence? I tried to bow with proper dignity,
sitting on the edge of the bed with a cloak around me, and he scuttled
about, dived into various drawers for garments, tobacco, matches, and
took his leave with careful courtesy, never having even glanced in my
direction after the first startling encounter. The country dandy was
quite as much of a “blue-rose” as the Austrian Prince who earned his
name among the girls in Rome—but that paladin belongs to another story.

As one travels southward the character of the people changes, and
in the later years of my life I have felt more at home with my
fellow-beings of the South than with the inhabitants of Romagna. Their
outlook is simpler, more indulgent, and their religious faith far more
fervent. I think the southern custom of going on pilgrimages was a
very valuable one to the contadini of the “Regno.” It used to be rare
to find middle-aged people of the labouring class in the province,
who had not travelled a little in that way and thus learnt that the
world was not confined to their own small town or hamlet. I suppose the
good custom will die out in time, like so many others, but it will not
suffer much diminution while such wonderful new centres of attraction
spring up as, for instance, the “Santuario” of New Pompeii, which I
described in a former book.[11] But many an unforgotten shrine in the
more remote hills has, like La Mentorana in the Sabines, its one day
or night of glory in the year, when the peasants come in great bands,
even from far away, and the chants and litanies go up all night long
in and around some dim old Church. Such a festival takes place at San
Salvatore in the Abruzzi, in the late summer, and is the scene of a
great gathering of the people of the Penisola Sarrcutina.

A night expedition is always alluring; and, besides, I had wanted to
see this particular festa for years, so I took one of the servants with
me—a broad-shouldered woman of the people, strong enough to carry me if
need be—and we set out, in a carrozzella, on a moonless night towards
nine o’clock. Very soon we had left Sorrento and its lights behind
and were climbing by steep narrow roads into the wild mountains that
cluster round Monte Sant’ Angelo. The chain of the Abruzzi that runs
out into the sea as the backbone of the Penisola rises sharp and high
from the rounded cup of the Piano di Sorrento, and, elsewhere, gives
way but little on either side to the needs of men. From the “Piano” and
the narrowing strip of level land, the cliffs facing the north plunge
clear into the water which has worn them into huge caves, each with
its tiny cove of sand, divided from one another by great outstanding
buttresses of rock. As soon as one turns inland one is lost in the
twisting defiles that scar the mountains through and through; and the
deep old roads, narrow and steep, crawl up away from the regions of
vines and olives till they reach wild, empty highlands, where only the
hardiest shrubs and flowers will grow. It is an impressive experience
to travel through these forgotten roads on a starlit night, further and
further from the sound of the sea and the haunts of men. The loneliness
is enormous, earth recedes from sight, and one is conscious of very
little except that unfathomable sky overhead, dripping and sprayed
with live silver to its furthest faintest depths, while some gorgeous
planet of our own system wheels its way between crag and crag as one
moves along. Broom and wild rosemary reach out from the wall of rock to
brush your face; a tang of bitter sweetness, clear as an exclamation,
fills your nostrils for an instant, and you know that you are passing
a clump of immortelles hidden in a cleft you cannot see. And then the
wild power of it all goes to your head; you are not a modern mortal
with a thousand anchors fastening you to the scrap heap of the workaday
world, but a new-born princess of romance, travelling through the hills
of fairyland to take possession of your unknown, enormous castle; its
thousand windows are glowing gold beyond that last peak, all lighted
up for your reception; in its deep courts and airy bowers invisible
subjects will minister to your wants. In a high tower looking south all
the great books in the world are waiting to be read; there is a terrace
a hundred feet from the ground, perfumed and trellised, where you can
watch the stars; and not a single creature in the whole world will ever
find the way to the castle!

“Quì si và a piedi, ‘cellenza!” said Maria, climbing down from her
seat. The little carriage could go no further, and I returned suddenly
to earth and meekly followed her example. The sound of voices and
footsteps began to fill the air, and we came on shadowy groups resting
by the wayside, pilgrims who had come from far on foot. Then at a
sudden turn we were in the piazza, and all outer things, sky and stars
and peaks, were swallowed up in blackness, for the piazza was one
blaze of orange light, from hundreds of torches, burning luridly and
outlining the dark façade of the Church with red-gold gleams that rose
and sank like dancing waters; turning a face here, a costume there, to
unearthly brightness and then leaping away in tall tongues of fire, to
be lost in the mist of smoke overhead. The crowd was so thick that we
could scarcely reach the Church, from the open doors of which a flood
of broad yellow radiance streamed out over the heads of the pilgrims
who knelt in serried ranks on the portico, all faces turned to the
interior, whence streamed that soft illumination. When we stood on
the threshold I saw that it came from the High Altar, which seemed
to be floating in a vast “mandorla” of light. Hundreds and hundreds
of wax candles, each a tongue of steady golden flame, surrounded the
Tabernacle and reached, in an oval of fire, almost to the roof. The
walls of the Church were covered with white draperies, to which were
fastened wreaths and garlands and single sprays of flowers, a delicate
ornamentation as old as ancient Rome and always used in the Penisola;
and every pilaster was panelled from top to bottom with crimson damask
trimmed with gold—those precious strips of drapery which the well-to-do
families hoard from generation to generation and lend to the different
Churches as required. From door to Altar rails the Church was packed
with kneeling worshippers, and a great hush prevailed, for midnight had
struck and Mass was about to begin.

My companion, threading her way with coaxing apologies, pulled me along
till she found a place where we could both kneel by a pillar at the top
of the Church, and just as we had settled ourselves a sweet-voiced old
organ, high up in an invisible gallery, sent out the first notes of the
chant, filling the little ancient building with a flood of music—not
the usual gay tunes that Italians love to hear in Church, but solemn
thrilling airs from some old Mass that I had never heard before. The
singers had been brought from far, and the voices were of the best,
which is saying a great deal in South Italy, where everybody is born
with “a harp in his throat.” Somehow it was one of the most beautiful
services I ever attended. The absorbed devotion of the people, the
reverent manner of the Celebrant and his assistants, the full-throated
responses that were taken up by the kneeling crowd outside, where
every sound was hushed the moment Mass began—it was the very essence of
whole-hearted, loving worship.

A number of persons went to Communion; there was a rousing sermon, and
then came much jollification in the piazza, crammed with little booths
that looked like altars of flame themselves, the wildly flaring torches
lighting up strange wares—long rosaries of yellow nuts that swung in
the wind, artificial roses set in a whirl of spun glass, each with its
pin to stick into hat or braids of hair, holy pictures in the crude
reds and blues that the people love, sweetmeats and honey-cakes and
fruit. Outside and everywhere beyond, the blackness of night, and on
that tiny plateau of the rocks a little whirlpool of life and fire.

We crept away, I and my Maria, and after some trouble found our
carrozzella and its driver, and started for home just as the darkness
thinned before the dawn. It was cold enough in the mountain roads then,
and I was glad to reach the lower levels and the hospitable gate of the
villa by the sea.

I think it was in that same year that my brother’s two boys,
enthusiastically aided by all the sailors, invented a kind of
switchback railway which really carried passengers! They got four
or five little trucks built—without saying a word to any of us—and,
coupling them together, started at the outer gate of the villa and
raced down the long paved incline which led, between walls covered
with stephanotis and jessamine, to the round garden in front of the
house. Here the encircling walk was also paved, and the impetus of the
downward rush carried the train once or twice round the whole space,
after which Luigi and Antonio submissively dragged it all the way to
the front gate again. There was quite an excitement in whirling round
the corners, and for some days every member of the family had to get
into the cars and be carried along, an occasional upset only adding
to the delight of the experience, as far as Harold and Bertie were
concerned. Then they built a “ristorante” at one point, and installed
their sisters to dispense lemonade and bonbons to the weary travellers,
who were supposed to have come from an immense distance. Of course the
travellers had to pay—such an undertaking costs money! Then, as the
autumn days drew in, there were night excursions, when the train, with
headlights on, came roaring down the garden to a great accompaniment of
hoots and whistles, quite an alarming thing to meet if one were taking
a stroll in the twilight.

The “ferro-via” was a great success, but the owners of the line panted
for more public recognition. We elders did not care to risk ourselves
in the trucks after dark, and for two or three evenings, as we sat
over our tea in the drawing-room, we wondered rather at the steady
persistence with which the train rushed backwards and forwards outside.
The boys were unusually silent about their exploits now, but from their
bright eyes and their sisters’ obstinate refusal to answer questions,
we could not help fancying that some kind of mischief was afoot. Then
one evening, just before dinner, Bonifazio came into the drawing-room,
looking very scared.

“Signora mia,” he exclaimed to my sister-in-law, “do you know what
the Signorini are doing? The entire town is gathered in the piazzale
outside the gate, and the young gentlemen are taking all the passengers
the cars will hold, twice round the garden—for two sous the trip!
And the young ladies are actually _selling refreshments to these
contadini_! For the love of Heaven, let the Signora stop this scandal!
The people are fighting to get into the cars!”

It would be interesting to know what is really going on in children’s
minds—those fairy plans which they weave steadily through lessons and
play and would rather die than confide to their elders! I remember
a surprise that my small brother and sister sprung upon the family
before I was married—a scheme all worked and irrevocably launched
before accident revealed it to any of the grown-ups in the house. Daisy
was about nine years old, and Arthur, her submissive slave, just over
seven. It was the height of the winter season, and there was the usual
rush of engagements for weeks ahead, when at some afternoon reception
a friend of my mother’s said to her: “We are so glad next Thursday is
free! We shall be so much interested to see your children’s play!”

“My children’s play? There must be some mistake,” my mother replied. “I
have not issued any invitations for theatricals!”

“Your little people have,” the lady retorted. “Look at this!”

And she produced a card on which was written in a nice round hand:
“Miss Terry and Master Arthur Terry request the pleasure of Mrs. ——’s
company on Thursday next at nine o’clock. (_Theatrakulls._)”

My mother’s feelings were not to be described! Within ten minutes three
or four other people smilingly informed her that they, too, had been
invited and certainly meant to come. There was nothing for it but to
go straight home and find out what the little monkeys had committed us
to. On being sternly questioned, Daisy, with the imperturbable calmness
that distinguished her even then, produced a list of some two hundred
names, culled from Mamma’s visiting book, and said: “These are the
people we have asked. We chose the ones we liked, of course. _I_ have
composed the play and it will be most interesting. Arthur is in love
with me, Sofia is my rival—I have one or two other children in it,
but they are rather stupid, so I shall have to do most of the acting
myself. Don’t worry me, please—you have nothing to do but order the
supper and send for the chairs!”

Of course we submitted. Everything had been done in order; Daisy
(Arthur could not write well enough as yet) must have devoted her
playtime, for days, to writing out the invitations, which the servants
had carried to their addresses, never doubting but that the Signora’s
authorisation had been obtained. We were not allowed to see the last
rehearsals even, the drop-curtain of the little theatre in the ballroom
being jealously closed while they went on. I tried to get taken on as
manager—no use! “I know exactly what I am about,” said my small sister.
“I haven’t watched you grown-ups all these years for nothing! It’s
going to be a _great success_!”

Which it certainly was! Daisy’s speeches were a little long, because
some of the others forgot their parts and she had to bridge their
silences by expressing their sentiments for them. “I know what you
would say, dear friend—your heart is true, but you fear the vengeance
of the Marquis! Oh, I understand!” And so on. Then, at the critical
moment of the love scene, Arthur got stage-fright, and the Marquise,
who was naturally taller than her adorer, stooped towards him and
energetically whispered, “Go down on your knees and kiss my hand _this
minute, stupid_!” at which a roar of merriment swept through the room,
to end in a storm of applause as the small boy, dropping on one knee,
gave the hand a smacking kiss and exclaimed ardently, “_My Angel!_”

Oh, yes, it was a great success! The little Marquise was a born
actress, and carried it all off so well that the guests declared they
had never enjoyed an evening so much. But we “grown-ups” had passed
some anxious moments; and when it was all over and the triumphant
performers had had all the applause, as well as all the cake and
goodies they wanted, we extracted a sleepy promise that we should be at
least warned the next time they asked the town to a play!



  A Follower of the Condottieri—The Raw Recruit—Division of
  the Dukedom of Milan—Carmagnola’s Turn—Growth in Wealth and
  Power—Disaffection—Venice Acquires His Services—War with Milan—A
  Leisurely Campaign—Carmagnola at the Height of His Glory—Fortune
  Turns Against the Venetians—Stirrings of Suspicion—Reception in
  Venice—The Senate Chamber—Growing Dusk—The Attack—End of His Part
  in the World—Another Story of the North—St. Raniero, the Patron of
  Pisa—The Power of Temperance.

Here is a story of Venice. In the early part of the Fifteenth Century
a Northern soldier, riding home through the sweet-smelling summer
twilight, dreaming in all probability of some dusky-eyed maiden of
the border states, stopped by the side of a field to look about him
for a shelter for the night. That he would be welcome at any inn, he
was sure, for he was returning from the wars to spend his not very
hard-earned prize money, of which his saddlebags were full.

One can imagine him, pushing back his helmet and regarding the fair
countryside with the appreciative eye of the professional marauder,
smacking his dusty lips at the thought of the weeks of hilarious
wickedness that his loot would buy for him. The picture is not
overdrawn, I can assure the reader, for they were little more than wild
beasts, those followers of the great Condottieri, brought under an iron
discipline, the yoke of which they were willing to bear, for a time,
in return for the ample pay and the opportunities, which their service
afforded them, of sacking unoffending towns and robbing and spearing
harmless and unarmed citizens and ravishing their wives and daughters.
Here and there, stray flowers in those acres of weeds, a fairly decent
character appeared among them, but, from such accounts as can be found,
these latter never seem to have stayed long in their ranks.

As it has been said, the rival bands that infested Italy and Southern
France in those merry days never made any serious attempt to injure
each other, unless driven to such unpleasant measures by the sternest
necessity—or, to be sure, unless some particularly rich bit of loot
was between them. As a general thing, though, they do not seem to have
displayed even the common courage of the wolf. The longer a campaign
could be dragged out the better for all concerned, was their motto, and
they lived up to it, even to the point of punctiliously letting loose
all the prisoners they took from each other after every engagement. A
safer and more care-free life than theirs would be difficult, if not
impossible, to imagine. The people who hired them were, of course,
utterly unable to cope with their enemies—with their enemies’ bravos,
that is to say—by themselves, and were as completely helpless against
their own servants; it was altogether an ideal state of things.

To return to our trooper, breathing his horse and, probably, smacking
his lips over the prospect of the cheer with which his blood-spotted
loot would provide him for the next month or so. Looking around in the
early dusk, he noticed a boy, working desultorily in the fields, and,
while his horse rested, he studied him. There was something in the way
in which he carried his head, and the set of his chin and jaw, which
sounded a sympathetic echo in the trooper’s breast. This was no common
peasant, he told himself, and called out to the boy to come over and
speak to him. Nothing loath, the youth obeyed, and the upshot of this
conversation was that the boy elected to take the trooper’s advice and
follow him.

The trooper, one imagines, must have been in the service of Facino
Cane, a grizzled, deaf old soldier with a high reputation, as
reputations went in those days, and it did not take the new recruit
long to show his worth. Even when he was still young, Cane seems to
have recognised in him an equal if not a superior and refused flatly to
promote him, swearing that, if he was given one step, he would take all
the rest for himself.

Francesco Bussone, better known as Carmagnola, retired into himself,
and bided his time. Cane was great, and with Cane there was always
profitable employment in plenty. So he decided to remain where he
was; but, if Facino Cane continued to behave as he had been doing of
late, it was not likely that he would last for very long, and in the
happy and quite possible event of his being assassinated before long,
Carmagnola would take his place. There would be no one, he felt sure,
who would wish to oppose him, and, if there were, he thought he knew
how to overcome their opposition. Cane had a splendid force under
him—and they would need a leader, to be of any use to themselves. They
would choose him for themselves. One can almost hear him saying to
himself, as he leaves the chief’s presence and looks back at the door:
“Eh! chì va piano va sano—chì va sano va lontano!” (“Who goes slowly,
goes safely—who goes safely, goes far!”)

Cane, for his part, was neither going slowly nor safely. Giovanni, Duke
of Milan, had but recently died. He had been as good a soldier as any
Condottiere that ever drew sword and he had held his Dukedom together
with his own good right arm. But now, in the hands of his eldest son,
Gian Maria, the inheritance was falling to pieces. Gian Maria was a
degenerate—a lunatic—it is even said that he fed his hounds with human
flesh; and, in a very short time, the cities of the Dukedom—Piacenza,
Parma, Cremona, Lodi—revolted, and the several Condottieri, who had
formerly served Giovanni, seized the opportunity of realising their
ambition, which was to become independent rulers themselves. There was
no great difficulty about this, once a division of the spoil was agreed
upon, for each had a small army at his back and the ability to use it.
The inhabitants, helpless in the face of trained fighters, put forward
no opposition, so that, in six months or less, six or seven Dukes
existed where only one had existed before.

Cane seized upon Pavia, the younger son’s portion, and kept the heir a
prisoner in his own court. Not long afterwards he dethroned the elder
son, and, it is to be supposed, arranged his end for him at the hands
of the Milanese. He, himself, died in Pavia within a day of the Duke’s
assassination. No remark is made by historians on the subject of his
death save that he died, but where the character of his ducal prisoner
is considered and the excellent reasons he had for wishing his gaoler
dead are taken into account, the latter’s end may, I think, be safely
laid at Filippo Maria’s door.

So that, in the end, Carmagnola was right in his determination to wait
upon events. Now his turn came. The soldiers were left leaderless,
and Carmagnola seized the captainship instantly—at the age of
twenty-two—while Filippo Maria as instantly married Cane’s widow,
in order to get the old soldier’s estates, and, these being secured,
brought a false accusation against her and had her executed.

This worthy couple then joined hands, to recover the lost cities, and
Carmagnola began to show something of his quality. He recaptured Milan,
killing the usurper, and, one by one, brought back the other cities to
his employer, as a reward for which he was made Count of Castelmuro and
married to a daughter of Giovanni Galleazzo, one Antonia.

It seemed as though Fortunatus’ purse had been emptied over him, in the
years that followed; wealth, honour, position all were his, and so rich
and powerful did he become that he was even permitted to invest in the
bonded debt of Venice.

He must have grown careless, after a while, for his enemies—and they
were numbered by the score—continued to get the Duke’s ear and to
poison his mind. They probably used Carmagnola’s popularity with his
men as an instrument, and played upon Filippo’s morbid pride and his
unhealthy nerves, until he saw in his great general a Frankenstein
of his own creation, which, if it were not itself destroyed, would
presently destroy him.

One cannot think that Carmagnola was anything but careless, for when
Philip demanded some of his bodyguard from him for a special purpose
he protested with honest vigour against this taking of a weapon from
one who knew how to use it and handing it to one who did not. Getting
no reply, he became impatient, and sought one in person, by forcing his
way into Philip’s presence, but he was stopped at the gate and then his
temper left him.

His remarks were few and incisive, his opinions of the courtiers about
Philip’s person plain as the tower at which he shouted them, and he
wound up with an open threat directed at both. That done, he turned and
rode off with his half-dozen attendants, and one brave gentleman who
had ridden out to pursue him was so terrified at the sight of him, as
he galloped across the marshy fields, his head on his chest, rage like
an embodied spirit beside him, that he thought better of his intention
and made back into the safe shelter of Abbiti. Carmagnola pursued his
way without pausing until he came to the Court of Amadeus of Savoy, who
was his own liege lord, and here he immediately offered his services,
explaining at the same time what had just happened to him.

Filippo, in the meanwhile, confiscated his estates and seized his wife
and daughter as hostages. That Antonia was his own sister—or, at least,
had always passed as such—made not the slightest difference to the
scoundrelly Filippo, and Carmagnola does not seem to have so much as
troubled his head about the women.

Yet, for some reason, he seems to have excused Filippo’s
conduct—openly, at least—and to have placed the blame where most of
it belonged—on his surroundings. Then, casually, as though the idea
had only just occurred to him, he spoke of various and choice pieces
of territory, whose ownership, though nominally Filippo’s, was, he
averred, doubtful.

To his disappointment, Amadeus refused to be drawn into the affair,
and Carmagnola presently set off for Venice, always a safe resort for
warriors of any quality.

He arrived at an auspicious moment, for Venice was hesitating as to
the worth-whileness of an alliance which had been proposed to her by
Florence for the purpose of attacking Carmagnola’s late master, Filippo
of Milan.

The Venetians, living as they did, in an almost continuous state of
war with one or other of their neighbours, were only too glad of the
opportunity of gaining the services of the famous free-lance and gave
him the command of their land army, within a very few weeks of his
arrival—Foscari, the Procurator of St. Mark, in the meantime, pushing
forward the alliance with Florence, in season and out of season. In
this he was opposed by Mocenigo, the Doge, who, in spite of his eighty
years, and even on his deathbed, in the presence of senators and
ministers, uttered a solemn and prophetic warning against the war. He
must have been a truly wonderful old man, for in that farewell speech
of his, delivered from the edge of the grave, he gave a complete and
accurate account of the State’s finances, and of its employés’, down
to the ship’s caulkers and the manufacturers of fustian, besides
remembering the number of gentlemen with incomes between seven hundred
and four thousand ducats. At the end of it, he told his hearers that,
if they rejected his advice and quarrelled with Milan, in a very short
while they would find themselves under the heel of a military despotism
which would take the very coats from their backs—all of which presently
came to pass. Finally he warned them against Foscari, whose election to
the Dogeship some of them, as he knew, favoured.

But his warnings were in vain, for Foscari was elected over Loredano,
in a conclave the account of which is curiously like that of a
political convention of to-day—the holding of a number of votes
in reserve, the speeches on both sides, the trick by which Foscari
irritated his noble old opponent into losing his temper and abusing
his adversaries. There is nothing new, of course, under the sun, but it
gives one a queer thrill when one comes upon things like these.

Soon afterwards, Carmagnola was offered the command already referred
to, and Filippo, on hearing the news, made an attempt to have his old
comrade poisoned, but the agents were caught and executed after having
been thoroughly and soundly tortured.

There followed visits and embassies from Milan and Florence—the
Milanese gay, careless, assured; the Florentines grave and soberly
clad, leaving no stone unturned, no mine of favour unworked. Carmagnola
stalked through the Milanese Masque, like a shadow through a field
of poppies, and when the Senators, torn between the pleadings of the
Florentine Ambassador and the easy, somewhat scornful reply of the
Milanese envoy, hesitated, the Condottiere, enraged by the attempt just
made upon his life, presented his side of the case, pointing out that
Filippo’s apparent strength was only the result of his, Carmagnola’s,
victories, and that of his own he had none at all, and openly
proclaiming his hatred and scorn, both of the Duke and his soldiers.

That settled the matter, and the league with Florence, which presently
embraced Ferrara, Mantua, the Sienese, Amadeus VIII of Savoy, and King
Alphonso of Naples, was formed.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to discover the true
character of Carmagnola at this time of day. Some speak of him as being
a double-faced villain, some—Sismondi, for instance—as of a demigod.
Great he was, talented in many directions, and all but invincible; like
others, he may have had several sides to his nature, and each of these,
as it met for the moment the sun of events, may have represented the
whole man for the time being.

The Duke of Milan now began to feel the weight of the hand he had
turned against himself, although, at the outset of the war, Carmagnola
does not appear to have exerted himself greatly. Brescia fell—whether
to the Florentine commander or to the Venetian, is a matter of opinion.
Probably the Florentine siege works and the effect of Carmagnola’s
reputation were equally responsible—and the Duke ceded the conquest on
the 30th of December; not, however, before he had made an attempt to
burn down the Venetian arsenal and another of his several agents had
been caught by the Venetians and carefully tortured to death.

Carmagnola, from all accounts, seems still to have been divided between
the desire of earning his pay from the Venetians and an unwillingness,
even now and in spite of everything, to push his old employer more
than was necessary to accomplish the ends he had in mind. This
was difficult, for the Venetians, having paid like the hard-headed
merchants they were, wanted plenty of blood and destruction for their
money, and the amicable habit which time and practice had crystallised
into a precedent, of returning prisoners after an engagement, in order
to keep the good work going on, was not at all to their minds.

It was not long before Filippo began to tire of the almost monotonous
series of defeats which overtook his leaders, and, though breathing
fire against Carmagnola, and complaining bitterly of what he was
pleased to call the “bad faith” of the poor Florentines (whom he had
been bullying so heartily and for so long), he was forced to sue for
the good offices of Pope Martin V, who, although none too pleased at
being dragged into such company, yet helped him, for the sake of the
smudged name he bore.

Of course such a peace could not last for any length of time. No one
of the parties to it trusted any of the others in the slightest, and
Venice had, so far, swallowed up all the profits of the campaign which
included Brescia and all its castles and territory up to the Lago di
Garda, and a portion of Cremona besides.

This peace was concluded on the 30th of December, 1426, and Carmagnola
went into winter quarters, under the admiring eyes of his temporary

His family had contrived to join him, by now, and the time passed
pleasantly away for the grizzled and somewhat war-worn captain. He
had punished Filippo, and had besides secured what promised to be the
most profitable employment upon which he had ever entered. He knew the
Visconti; he must have been quite sure that Filippo had no intention of
giving up the struggle as tamely as that, and when it recommenced he
would, he imagined, be able to dictate the terms under which he could
condescend to serve.

He was right in both conjectures. No sooner was the peace signed than
Filippo turned his energies to the accumulation of a force with which
to open a campaign in the spring. Besides this, he assembled a fleet
for the purpose of attacking Mantua and Ferrara. This the Venetians
destroyed near Cremona on the 21st of May, 1427.

Filippo, who had up till now taken small thought of anything except
numbers and talent, soon began to feel, as so many others have done
before and since, the extreme difficulty of getting any cohesive
action from a force which, split up into many small bodies, gave its
allegiance to six or seven separate commanders, all of equal merit,
and all claiming, on their records, the right to administer the whole.
Carmagnola, on the other hand, being a Condottiere himself, allowed no
one, however distinguished his birth or his position, even to approach
his throne, much less share it. The Venetian authorities themselves he
handled as roughly as he dared, and they, as Mocenigo had prophesied,
found themselves under a despotism which made the rule of the dreaded
“Ten” a kindergarten affair in comparison.

Filippo, exercising a purely imaginary authority, gave the command of
his troops to Nicolo Piccino, a pupil of the celebrated Braccio, and
he attacked Carmagnola at Casalecco on the 12th of July, but so thick
was the dust under foot that before they had well engaged they became
invisible and separated without shock.

It was a leisurely campaign. Whatever might be the anxiety of the
principals to settle the quarrel, their defenders were not to be
hurried, and it was not until the 11th of October that Carmagnola was
called upon to fight a pitched battle. He had been spending most of his
time in the interval at the baths of Albano, where he took a cure for

Suspicion is a disease among some people, and, though its workings are
not by any means confined to one class, it must be owned that power
of any kind has always been a happy breeding ground for it. With the
rulers of Venice it was hereditary, and, since it was unsafe openly to
suspect each other, they invariably lavished their venomous mistrust
upon their servants and instruments. But, true to their Latinity, they
gave their victim no chance of feeling it or even of defending himself.
In silence they judged, in silence they acted, and always with such a
wealth of deception, cunning, and falsehood as to proclaim their own
cowardice and meanness from the housetops.

The battle of the 11th of October took place in a marsh near Macalo,
and Carmagnola having lured his adversary, Carlo Malastata, into the
swamps—with which he himself was perfectly familiar—turned upon and
beat him soundly, capturing, it is said, upwards of five thousand,
including Malastata himself.

He made no attempt to pursue, and immediately released all of his
prisoners, thereby giving the Venetian Senate a solid handle for the
blade of calumny which they had been forging. When the protests of
the Venetians reached him, he refused to discuss the matter, merely
replying that it was the custom of war and, further, that it was his
wish. His contempt for his employers was a little too open, and they,
though apparently acquiescing and praising his skill, were already
plotting his end. The gentle habit of executing a defeated general,
wherever possible, was in vogue then and for many years afterwards. As
long as Carmagnola could continue to win cities and provinces for them,
so long could he continue to live, but no longer.

A new peace was signed on the 18th of April, 1428, and peace descended
upon Venice for nearly three years. Carmagnola passed the time in
Venice with his family around him; treated with all honour and respect
to his face, laughed at, as he knew, for his low birth and rough ways,
behind his back. Disliked, but courted, under pressure, for no one
could say how long this new peace would last, and Venice, in the field,
was Carmagnola. Without him, Filippo’s men—Piccino, Tonelli, and the
rest—would strip her to the waterfront.

The Florentines, grown confident and aggressive, now took the
opportunity to attack the Lord of Lucca, Paolo Quinigi, a one-time ally
of Filippo’s, and the Lucchesi, revolting, deposed Quinigi and sent him
to Milan as a prisoner. The Florentines were, soon afterwards, attacked
and routed by Piccino at Sarchio on the 2d of December, 1430; and once
again the old flame broke out.

Carmagnola, to everybody’s surprise, resigned his commission—or,
rather, attempted to resign it—and the Senate, in a panic, offered
him such terms for another campaign as were never offered to any
Condottiere before or since.

Carmagnola, who was then, or had been but a short while before, in
communication with Filippo, finally accepted the command, though with
reluctance. Perhaps he had the prophetic depression which so often
seizes commanders before a disaster; perhaps he had tired of Venice and
her service.

Fortune had turned against the Venetians. First their admiral,
Trevisano, was caught napping at Cremona and his fleet destroyed under
Carmagnola’s furious eyes. His remarks to the admiral afterwards and
to the Venetian Senate were so mixed and incoherent with rage that the
Senate hurriedly sent down special Commissioners to assure him of their
confidence and love.

Piccino wandered about picking up odds and ends, a castle here, a town
there, but Carmagnola refused to move. Filippo, wild with delight,
hovered in his neighbourhood, sending taunts and insults to him on
every opportunity, but the old tiger lay in his lair.

He had been defeated at Soncino, and, though that was a small and
unimportant event in itself, yet taken in conjunction with the disaster
to the fleet, it became a disaster, too. A distemper arose among the
horses that year in Italy, which accounts, in a large degree, for
Carmagnola’s inaction, and, though he roused himself sufficiently to
defeat the Hungarians at Friuli, he relapsed again afterwards into

No signs of impatience or mistrust escaped the Senate, however.
Instead, they sent a splendid deputation, begging him to give himself
the trouble of returning to Venice for a while to consult with the
Signoria as to the conduct of the coming campaign; and he, never
doubting that his position was unchanged and that, surrounded by
enemies, Venice still looked to him as the one man who could save
her, rode through Lombardy in April, 1432, accompanied by Gonzaga,
the Lord of Mantua, and embarked on the Brenta, hailed by the populace
and loaded with marks of deference and confidence by the great men of
the Senate who went out to meet him. All along the waterway, crowds
turned out to greet the hope of Venice, and the rich and noble, whose
country houses stood along the banks of the river, turned out likewise,
decorating their homes and making festas as he passed.

A gay people they were, with their satins and their music and their
dancing and their love-making. April in Venice is made for kissing, it
is the only suitable occupation for any one with a spark of life in his
soul, and one can imagine the boats on the slow-moving river, as the
evening came on, and the lovers’ moon came out over the water—music,
love—youth and fire.

It was through this that the great Captain journeyed, leisurely, as
became his dignity. At Mestre he was met by some gentlemen of his
acquaintance, all smiles and bows and compliments, in whose company he
crossed the shadowy lagoons and disembarked.

Nine Senators—red-robed, capped, monuments of the dignity of the
State—were waiting for him here, and his progress to the Palace of
the Doge was almost regal in its splendour. With all formality he
was introduced into the presence of the Senate, and given a chair of
honour. He was welcomed, praised, and listened to with deferential
attention. It was growing late, by now, and the Senate Chamber was
becoming too dim to distinguish the faces of those about him. But no
lights were called for, and he, dreaming no doubt, of seeing his wife
and children again that night, sat on, while one Senator after another
rose and spoke and sat down again.

He had other things upon his mind, too. Filippo—old days—old triumphs;
the promise that had been made him, that if he could but extinguish
the Visconti for ever, his old estates were to be given back to him,
besides new ones here in Venice. It had even been hinted and hinted
strongly that the only obstacle to his becoming Duke of Milan himself,
was the man who called himself the Duke—Filippo Visconti. There seemed
to be no bar to his advancement to any position he might choose—he, the
son of a peasant, picked up at dusk by a wandering trooper in Savoy!

Dusk! It was getting towards dark now!

He stirred in his chair and looked about him. The place seemed less
crowded than it had been when he had last observed it, and, thinking
that the moment had arrived when he could at last fling aside the world
and return to his family, he rose to depart.

What were those dark shapes hovering near his chair? Those were
no Senators! He peered at them as he passed, but they paid him no
attention and he moved on towards the door.

Instantly he felt himself seized from behind and the dark shapes
materialised into Sbirri—soldier police—as he struck out right and
left, bellowing and roaring in his fury. But he was only one, and there
were twenty or thirty of them, and he was chained hand and foot before
he had recovered from his first amazement.

The place was deserted now, save for them, and in the gloom he was
hurried along, pushed and hustled, down, down, until a door creaked
open and he was flung into a cell, pitch-black and damp. The door
slammed to behind him, and his little part in the world was played.

The next day he was “put to the question,” but no records remain, none
being kept, of what passed in the little cell during the dread ordeal;
and twenty days later, gagged and chained, he was led out to the
Piazza, and there, between the pillars, beheaded.

His grave is in the great Church of St. Francis, in Milan, beside his

While we are still in the North, the story of the Patron of Pisa, St.
Raniero, may interest my readers.

He was a Scacciari, born in Pisa about the year 1100, and grew up with
the other noble children of the place, cheerful and pleasure-loving
as were they—and as, it may be noticed in passing, were several of the
greatest Saints in the Calendar.

His conversion came about through a holy man, whose name has not
survived. Raniero, one day, was playing and dancing with some damsels
in the shade of a great tree, outside the city, when he noticed a man
standing near who seemed to be studying him intently; after a while,
he laid his lyre down on the grass and returned the gaze, with the
intention of bringing home to the stranger the annoyance which the look
was causing him. But the stranger continued to stare, and presently the
boy arose to approach him.

But, although he had risen to his feet, he made no attempt to
advance, for something in the stern, yet gently pitying, eyes of the
other arrested his movement, and, before he could recover from the
half-hypnotised condition, the stranger was moving off himself.

Then the boy came to life, and ran after the man of God, flinging
himself upon his knees, and catching at the hem of his garment, and
crying out his sorrow for his sins; the other lifted him up, and bade
him be of good cheer, but Raniero, by now, was half blind with weeping
and it was some time before he could see or hear clearly.

He did not turn back again towards Pisa, but made his way, by slow
stages, to the Holy Land—no very safe harbourage in the middle of the
Twelfth Century. On arriving, he took off his own clothes, and received
from a priest the shirt of a slave, which, for the proper humiliation
of the flesh, he continued to wear until he died.

Now it is the habit, even of the most broad-minded of our Protesting
brethren deliberately to close every avenue by which information might
reach their intelligences, and to seal them up tightly, before they
embark upon any study of the Saints, or of the Church. In parenthesis,
it must be said of the Germans, doubtless true to the Teutonic passion
for accuracy, that as a general rule they will and do search after and
transcribe the true facts of a happening, at whatever cost to their
own private feelings—as Haeckel found to his cost. Not so with the
English. They glory in incredulity—and prune their belief daily until
nothing more than the bare tree is left. So that one is not in the
least astonished to find in the middle of an Englishman’s otherwise
fairly faithful tale a shocked horror—indeed, it cannot be described in
any other terms—at the thought of the desert’s being an abiding-place
for devils. People, on the other hand, find that people with any real
experience of the desert are quite ready to believe that anything
horrible might he found there. If ever there was a proper ballroom for
Satan, says one, it is the desert!

St. Raniero found them there, aplenty—so did St. Anthony—and St.
Ephrem—and St. Procopius and St. Jerome, and many, many more.

St. Raniero vowed himself to abstinence, and a hard struggle he found
it to be until one morning, very early, when after a night of tossing
and turning and praying, he fell asleep and dreamed that a wonderfully
wrought vessel of gold, covered with the most beautiful gems, stood
beside him. It was full of pitch and sulphur, and these presently
ignited, burning fiercely, and threatening the destruction of the vase.
But, just as it seemed to be on the point of destruction, a little
phial containing a few drops of water appeared, and he was bidden to
sprinkle some upon the fire; he did so with some difficulty, since it
was burning so fiercely, and, behold! the fire was extinguished in a

On awakening he considered the dream for some time, trying to read
some meaning into it, and presently it was borne in upon him that the
vessel was his body, the pitch and sulphur his passions and appetites,
and that the water was temperance, which would quench these. From
that time onward he lived altogether upon bread and water, even
performing the most of his miracles with water, for which he had an
especial reverence, so that he came to be known in Pisa as “San Domini

That he was a water-drinker himself did not affect his detestation
of dishonesty in the matter of wine, however. Being at one time in
Messina, he stayed one night at an inn there, and, after watching the
innkeeper for a little while, became persuaded that he was mixing water
into the wine which he was selling. Beckoning to him, Raniero told
him to cease, but the host first laughed and then grew angry, telling
him to mind his own business. Then the Saint took him by the shoulder
and turned him round, and pointed to a cask which was set in a distant

“See there,” he said. Every one by now was looking in the same
direction, and to their terror and amazement there appeared upon the
cask a huge black cat with enormous wings. The host flung himself at
the Saint’s feet, howling, and the rest of the company began to crowd
and push out of the place, but the Saint directed them to remain, and
dismissed the demon swiftly.

He returned afterwards to Pisa, where he lived for many years, and
performed many wonders, healings, and conversions before he died, and
his tomb is in the wall of the Duomo, where an altar has been erected
to his memory.



  A Conspicuous Feminine Sinner—Marriage of State—Her Beauty—Her
  Hungarian Husband—Petrarch and the Monk—Joan’s Ascent to the
  Throne—The Naples Succession—Her Favourites—The Churches of
  Naples—Joan’s Lovers—Factions of Naples—Charles of Durazzo—A Bold
  Proposal—Charles’ Ambitious Plots—War of the Factions—Disappearance
  of Maria—Becomes the Wife of Charles—Joan’s Horror.

Of all feminine sinners known to history, Joan of Anjou, Queen of
Naples and of Jerusalem, affords, perhaps, the most conspicuous
example of the perils attendant upon what are known as “marriages of
State”—that is to say, marriages brought about for reasons of State
and without reference to the personal inclinations of the contracting
parties themselves.

The elder of the two daughters born to Charles, Duke of Calabria
and Marie of Valois—both of whom had predeceased their father and
father-in-law, Robert, King of Naples—Joan was married as a child of
fourteen to her cousin Andrew, the grandson of King Charles of Hungary,
the brother of King Robert; and, on the death of the latter in the
month of January, 1343, succeeded him as his granddaughter on the
throne of Naples. At that time Joan, although not yet fifteen years
old, was beautiful with the beauty and grace of a grown woman; her
eyes were of a shade of brown so deep as to be almost black; whilst the
pallor of her complexion was enhanced by the lustrous dark hair of her
which she wore, according to the fashion of the day, in two long and
heavy plaits that fell nearly to her knees, moreover, her tall, slender
figure added several years to her appearance, whilst the expression of
her face, albeit sensitive and gentle, was one of determination and of
a latent strength of purpose far beyond that of most girls of her age.
For Joan of Anjou had already learned the meaning both of love and of
hate—the hate of her husband and the guilty love of another than he.
The name of the man for whom she had, even then, betrayed her Hungarian
husband was Robert of Cabano, the son of Filippa Cabano, and her
husband, Raymond, a Saracen, bought out of slavery by another Raymond
Cabano, who had given him his own name in baptism and had procured for
him the post of head cook to Charles the Hammer, King of Naples and
elder brother of King Robert, the grandfather and precursor of Queen
Joan. From being head cook, Raymond had since risen to the most eminent
post of Seneschal of the Kingdom of Naples.

The way of Joan’s loveless marriage—the source of all her sins and
misfortunes—to her cousin Andrew of Hungary was this: It had been
arranged by her grandfather, King Robert, in the intention of making
amends to Andrew for having usurped the sovereignty of Naples from
Andrew’s father, Carobert of Hungary, the oldest son of King Robert’s
brother, Charles the Hammer. With this object, King Robert had caused
Andrew to be brought as a child to his Court at Naples, that the boy
might become fitted by education and surroundings to be the husband of
Joan and share with her the crown of Naples and of Jerusalem. For, be
it said, the Hungarian-born Andrew was by nature uncouth and savage
and cold, and altogether unsuited, both in his temperament and his
views of life, to fulfil King Robert’s expectations of him. Instead
of growing more tender, more responsive and affectionate in the genial
surroundings of the Neapolitan Court, as had been hoped might prove to
be the case, he seemed, on the contrary, to become daily more reserved,
more imbued with the sense of his own importance, more generally
domineering and less sympathetic towards those about him. However,
his marriage with Joan had been duly solemnised some months before
the death of old King Robert in order that the latter’s fondest wish
might be accomplished betimes; but, to the rage and disappointment of
Andrew, as soon as the King was dead, Joan alone had been proclaimed as
his successor by her cousin, Charles, Duke of Durazzo and Albania, who
had presented her as their sole, legitimate sovereign to the populace
assembled below the windows of the Castel Nuovo in a room of which King
Robert’s dead body, the breath but scarcely gone out of it, lay still
warm upon the bed on which he had died. Moreover, not only Charles
of Durazzo, but others, including principally Robert of Cabano and
another cousin of the Queen, Louis of Taranto, had absolutely refused
to do homage to Andrew of Hungary; to Joan alone had they bent the knee
and sworn fealty. Only one person of all those present had protested
energetically against the exclusion of Prince Andrew from the immediate
proclamation of sovereignty; this was a certain Father Robert, a monk,
the tutor of Andrew, whom he had accompanied from Hungary to Naples and
whom he never deserted as long as the Prince lived. This Father Robert
earned the especial dislike of Petrarch, to whom the monk’s austere
and masterful personality was as gall on the tongue, to judge from the
poet’s description of him.

As has been told then, by the time that King Robert passed away,
leaving his kingdom to Joan and to Andrew, her consort, these two
had been man and wife for long months; during which period Joan had
loved, not her husband, but the handsome swaggering Saracen, Robert of
Cabano. But by now, when she was become Queen of Naples by the death
of her grandfather, Joan had grown weary of the insolence of Robert’s
dominion over her and was minded to throw off the yoke of it. Also,
her affections—which, be it said in justice to her, had formerly been
consistently offered to her husband and as consistently rejected by
him—had turned towards one of the very few completely disinterested
and unselfish persons at the Court. This was Bertrand of Artois, whose
father, Charles of Artois, had been appointed by King Robert’s will
one of the regents of the kingdom until Andrew and Joan should have
attained their twenty-fifth year.

Joan had only one sister, Mary, a mere child, who was scarcely thirteen
years old when Joan came to the throne; this Princess Mary, by the
terms of King Robert’s testament, was to inherit the throne in the
event of her elder sister’s dying without issue; in addition, the
old King had expressed a wish that Princess Mary should be affianced
either to Louis, King of Hungary, elder brother of Andrew, or,
failing Louis, to the Duke of Normandy, eldest son of the King of
France. In case of the death without heirs of both Joan and Mary, the
sovereignty would by rights fall to Charles of Durazzo, eldest son of
King Robert’s younger brother, who had died some years previously,
John, Duke of Durazzo and Albania. John of Durazzo had left behind
him a widow, Agnes, and two younger sons besides Charles; these were
Ludovico, Count of Gravina, and Robert, Prince of the Morea. The
youngest brother of King Robert, Philip, Prince of Taranto, who had
likewise predeceased him, had also left a widow, who bore the title
of Empress of Constantinople, inherited from her grandfather, Baldwin
II, and three sons, Robert, Philip, and finally Louis of Taranto, the
handsomest and most accomplished knight of his day, then but barely
turned three-and-twenty. There had survived King Robert, too, his widow
Sancia of Aragon, a character as noble and holy as the majority of
those composing the Neapolitan Court were debased and self-seeking and
unscrupulous. Before departing this life King Robert had obtained from
Queen Sancia a promise to the effect that she would remain in the world
and at Court for a whole year, in order to watch over the young King
and Queen, Andrew and Joan—it being Queen Sancia’s announced intention
to enter as soon as possible into a convent, there to end her days
in peace and prayer—and to protect their relationship to one another
from the perils which, as the dying man had clearly foreseen, must
inevitably menace it. And, very particularly, he had warned his widow
to be on her guard, where Joan was concerned, against three especial
dangers—the love of Bertrand of Artois, the beauty of Louis of Taranto,
and the ambition of Charles of Durazzo.

So that, no sooner was King Robert dead, than his wishes in respect to
the mutual sovereignty of Andrew and John were contemptuously put aside
by those who proclaimed Joan, and Joan alone, as their new Queen to
the Neapolitan people; but Joan’s acquiescence in their proclamation
of her as sole sovereign cannot be overlooked, foreshadowing as it
would almost seem to do some already half-formed instinctive project of
becoming actually that which she had been proclaimed to be—the single
occupant of the throne.

Instantly, moreover, her Hungarian husband and his partisans, Father
Robert, the Dominican Friar, together with divers Hungarian nobles
and Giovanni Pipino, Count of Altamura, one of the most powerful
lords of the kingdom and the most hated by the people, held counsel
among themselves as to how they might best defeat the projects of the
Queen’s party. This, they decided, could only be done by acquainting
King Andrew’s mother, Elizabeth of Poland, and his brother, King Louis
of Hungary, with the terms of King Robert’s last will, and of how a
conspiracy had been set on foot to deprive King Andrew of his rightful
share in the government of Naples. Also, a complaint in the same
terms was to be sent to the Pope at Avignon, and a request made of the
Holy Father that he would issue a Bull of coronation on King Andrew’s
behalf, thereby duly confirming him in his rights of, at least, equal
sovereignty with Joan, his wife. At the same time, Father Robert tried
to impress upon Andrew the advisability of coming as soon as possible
to some kind of understanding upon the subject with Joan herself before
her favourites should have alienated her affections entirely from him.

These favourites whom the good monk had in mind were some of them men
and some of them women. Of the men—Robert of Cabano, Louis of Taranto,
and Bertrand of Artois—we have already seen something; of the women we
have as yet made acquaintance with only two—Filippa Cabano, the mother
of Robert the half-breed, and formerly governess to the Princesses
Joan and Mary; and the Empress of Constantinople, their aunt and the
mother of Louis of Taranto and his brothers. Besides Donna Filippa
and the Empress, however, there were three others who had influence
over Joan—the Countesses of Terlizzi and Morcone, daughters of Donna
Filippa, and, lastly and supremely, a young and lovely girl of sixteen,
known simply as “Cancia,” who occupied, officially, the position of
tiring-woman to the young Queen.

Cancia had been put into this employment by her protectress, Donna
Filippa, in order that, by her wiles and companionship, she might
corrupt the spirit of Joan and render her the more averse to the
remonstrances of Father Robert, the Dominican, on behalf of Andrew of
Hungary, his pupil; and so bring her more and more under the influence
of her lover, Robert of Cabano, Filippa’s own son. And Cancia had
played her part so effectually that, it is said, Joan loved her more
even than she did her own sister, Princess Mary.

And, as it happened, Donna Filippa was beginning to suspect that, at
last, Joan was tiring of her intrigue with Robert, and that she might
at any moment turn elsewhere for the love denied her by her rightful
husband—for life without love was insupportable to Joan’s passionately
affectionate nature.

Old King Robert—Robert the Wise, as he is commonly styled—was buried
behind the high altar in the Church of Santa Chiara that he had built
himself; where his splendid Gothic tomb may be seen to this day, having
on it his likeness both as King and as Franciscan monk; for he was a
Tertiary of Franciscans and died, as becomes one, in their uniform. In
the same Church are to be found the tombs, too, of many of the actors
in the tragedy of Queen Joan; of her father and mother and her little
sister Maria; and of Maria’s children by three successive husbands,
together with the graves of Charles of Durazzo and of Raimondo Cabano,
the Seneschal. And here, in passing, I would like to say that there are
no Churches in the whole world that can compare with the old Churches
of the city of Naples for the number and the beauty and the poignant
interest of the tombs that these contain.

Some days after King Robert’s burial in Santa Chiara, Joan was
approached by Filippa Cabano with a request that she would create
Filippa’s son, Robert, Grand Seneschal of the Kingdom in succession to
his father, who was but shortly deceased; also, that he might receive
the title of Count of Eboli. To both these outrageous demands the young
Queen at first turned a deaf ear; not until Filippa—who was accompanied
by Robert in person—threatened to make known to all the world the fact
of Joan’s new intrigue with Bertrand d’Artois did the young Queen
surrender to her demands. It would seem that Filippa had, for some
time, suspected the cooling of Joan’s fondness for her son; and so had
determined to obtain from her for Robert a commanding and unassailable
position in the State.

In that same State of Naples, then, there were already two increasingly
definite factions, each with a different aim: the party of the
Dominican Father Robert and of the Hungarian nobles, that sought to
bring about the supremacy of King Andrew and the subjugation of Queen
Joan; and the party of Donna Filippa, with their programme of “Naples
for the Neapolitans”—that is, firstly, of securing sole sovereignty
for the Queen, and, secondly, of making the Queen herself the puppet of
their own will and the instrument of their aggrandisement.

And round about these openly contending factions there prowled,
watchful and ruthless, Charles of Durazzo, seeking only the opportunity
to make himself master of the situation. There were no lengths to which
Duke Charles was not prepared to go in order to attain his aim and to
satisfy the ambition that devoured him; no crime, however frightful,
from the contemplation of which he shrank as a means to his end.
Cost what it might, he would be King of Naples and of Jerusalem. The
chroniclers describe him as a pale man with close-cropped hair and a
thick beard; and, when agitated, he had a trick of frowning. Charles
of Durazzo had felt greatly aggrieved at the bestowal of Joan’s hand in
marriage upon Andrew of Hungary; for he, Charles, had been the nearest
in blood of all King Robert’s nephews to the throne, and to him, as
such, Joan ought to have been given. But never for an instant had he
allowed so much as a glimpse of his disappointment to be seen by any
one; never once had he suffered a breath of complaint to escape him.

Nevertheless, his resolve was only the stronger for the iron
self-discipline of the man; and, now that Joan was Queen, the hour
was come for him to try the first of the two alternatives by which
he was to achieve his object. He was still a bachelor, and Joan had
found favour in his eyes by reason of her loveliness; therefore, before
having recourse to the other expedient that he had laid out for himself
in case of need, Charles had determined to attempt the enlistment of
Joan’s coöperation in his designs.

With this object he obtained a private audience of the Queen, and
straightway proceeded to lay siege to her sympathies by every kind of
flattery and the most skilful hints of the dangers that threatened
her from the side of ungrateful and grasping favourites. Though he
named no names, yet Joan understood only too well whom he meant and
could not help evincing signs both of her comprehension and of her
agreement with him. From that he went on to speak more particularly of
the popular rejoicing at her succession to the throne; and, finally, of
the universal regret that she should be compelled by an unkind fate to
share that throne with one in every way unworthy both of herself and of

Seeing clearly who it was to whom he referred in these terms, Joan
attempted feebly to protest; but was powerless to prevent him from
continuing with what he had to say of the certainty he felt that, if
Andrew of Hungary were ever to be admitted to an actual share in the
government, the people of Naples would infallibly rise in arms against
him and the detested Hungarians who surrounded him. It would, indeed,
Duke Charles assured the unhappy Queen, be only another instance of the
Sicilian Vespers; the Neapolitans would, of a surety, rise up as one
man and exterminate their foreign oppressors, including Andrew himself
and the monk whose mistaken counsels had inspired him with so suicidal
an ambition.

“But of what fault do they accuse Andrew?” asked Joan, uncertainly.

In reply, the Albanian said that the people hated the Prince for his
stupidity, his coarseness, and savagery; that the nobles accused him
of violating their privileges and of surrounding himself to their
detriment with the basest adventurers; and that, lastly, he himself,
Charles of Durazzo, accused Andrew of making Joan’s life a misery to

And then, before she could recover from her amazement at his boldness,
Charles wound up by offering to remove Andrew from her path by
murdering him; whereupon, the better part in Joan triumphing for a
moment over the lower side of her nature, she dismissed Charles angrily
from her presence, calling him coward and insolent. Without undue haste
or appearance of anger, Charles left her, merely reminding her that it
was not altogether impossible that, some day, it should be his turn to
condemn and hers to be judged.

So that Duke Charles, having failed in his attempt to obtain Joan’s
consent to the murder of Andrew, must instead have recourse to the
second of the alternatives that had presented themselves to him.

This was to make himself the husband of the next heir to the throne—the
thirteen-year-old Maria, sister of Queen Joan. On reaching his own
palace, therefore, he sent for a notary, one Nicholas of Melazzo, whose
fate he held in his hands by means of a certain knowledge, and ordered
him to draw up a contract of marriage between the Princess Maria,
his cousin, and himself, Charles of Durazzo. This the notary, albeit
terrified at the audacity of the thing (seeing that Maria, as will
be remembered, was intended by the terms of King Robert’s will to be
the wife of either King Louis of Hungary or of the Duke of Normandy),
consented to do; and then Duke Charles ordered him at the same time to
seek out Tommaso Pace, the valet of King Andrew and the notary’s own
closest friend, and to find out if Pace had been approached at all by
any of Queen Joan’s partisans with a view to drawing him into any plot
against Andrew’s life. For, as Charles argued, if such a conspiracy
should ever arise, those concerned in it would be almost sure to
endeavour to win over the King’s valet to their undertaking in order
the more easily to carry it into effect.

From that day on it was noticed that a complete change had taken
place in the manner of the Duke of Durazzo towards King Andrew—or, to
give the latter the only title hitherto accorded to him, the Duke of
Calabria. For, whereas hitherto Charles had shown himself the reverse
of friendly towards Andrew, and had been ever the loudest in his denial
of Andrew’s right to be crowned King of Naples, he now overwhelmed the
Hungarian with every kind of courtesy and friendly advance. Charles
even took pains to propitiate Andrew’s shadow, the honest Dominican,
excusing himself to Father Robert for his outrageous conduct in
proclaiming Joan alone as their new Queen to the people of Naples by
pleading the necessity of making an apparent concession to the popular
dislike of the Hungarian element in the kingdom. He did not hesitate
to declare to Father Robert his detestation of the persons who were
bent upon estranging the young Queen from her husband for their own
ends; finally he concluded by placing what power he possessed at the
monk’s disposal for the purpose of defeating the machinations of Joan’s
treacherous favourites directed against her rightful husband and the
legal partner of her throne.

To these assurances Father Robert lent a willing, although not an
entirely believing, ear; for he could only attribute the change in
Duke Charles to some misunderstanding with the young Queen. At the
same time, Charles and Andrew of Hungary were become the closest of
comrades; never, now, was Andrew seen in public without his Albanian
cousin by marriage; never did he withdraw himself from the circle of
his friends to the seclusion of his apartments but Charles of Durazzo
walked at his elbow.

And so things went on for a while, until at length the whole Court
was ranged definitely on one side or on the other: on that of Queen
Joan and the Neapolitan people itself to whom Andrew and his followers
were entirely odious, or, else, on that of Andrew and those who
hoped eventually to make him sole sovereign of Naples to their own
advantage—the Hungarian “Hey-ducs,” the Count of Altamura, and their

The war of the factions had begun by the omission of Andrew’s name
from all the proclamations, warrants, and so forth issued by the Queen
in her own sole name. In retaliation for this indefensible slight,
Andrew had ordered his followers to break open all the prisons within
reach and to liberate their tenants, criminal or otherwise, in his
name alone and in honour of his succession to the throne of Naples.
He had also loaded the members of his own party—and especially the
execrated Altamura—with honours and riches by means of patents signed
by himself, only, as the one supreme temporal authority in the kingdom.
It may be added that, in all these arbitrary and illegal measures,
so admirably calculated to arouse the bitterest anger and the most
murderous hatred of the Queen’s supporters against him, Andrew of
Hungary’s one confident adviser was none other than his evil genius,
Charles of Durazzo. From that moment the party of Joan, led by the
Counts of San-Severino, Mileto, Terlizzi, Balzo, Morcone, Catanzaro,
and Sant’ Angelo, and, more especially, by the Queen’s ex-favourite,
Robert of Cabano, Count of Eboli, and his successor in her affections,
Bertrand d’Artois, was resolved upon ridding the land of Andrew and of
his minions. Of all the angry barons who had rallied to Joan’s support,
the last mentioned, Bertrand d’Artois, really loved her for herself,
and was actuated by no motive of personal gain, except—alas!—his
lawless hope of becoming united to her in matrimony once her husband
were removed from the path of his criminal passion. In vain his father,
the brave and noble Charles of Artois, one of the regents of the
kingdom, strove to dissuade him from the perilous course of a love as
treasonable as it was immoral; nothing was of any avail to hold back
the young man from the pursuit of his designs.

More successful, however, was the restraining influence of another
parent over another child in the same situation—the influence of the
Empress of Constantinople over her youngest-born, the handsome Louis of
Taranto, who, in deference to his mother’s entreaties, turned away his
eyes as well as he could from his lovely, ill-mated cousin.

After the rupture between Joan and the Duke of Durazzo, many weeks
elapsed without her either meeting him or hearing much of his doings,
beyond that he was become the inseparable comrade of her husband;
although, indeed, at times she cannot have helped wondering what shape
his enmity towards her might eventually assume.

One radiant morning of spring, however, as she was in her room in
the Castel Nuovo, looking out over the town and the sea beyond, all
shimmering in the sunlight, towards Sorrento, there came a knock on the
door, and Donna Filippa Cabano, mother of the Grand Seneschal, entered
precipitately, her face blanched with alarm and anger, to say that
Princess Maria, Joan’s little sister, was nowhere to be found.

A short while previously the child had been playing happily by herself
in the castle grounds; and then, soon afterwards, she had simply
disappeared, none could say where or in what direction.

Joan’s consternation may be more easily imagined than described. Her
love for Maria was the one perfectly innocent, unspoilt love of her
whole existence, the very tenderest spot in all her heart. And now
Maria was gone from her; the horror and grief of it were such that she
shrieked as though a live coal had been laid upon her breast. That,
however, was only in the first anguish of her loss; recovering herself
quickly, she broke out in a storm of anger upon those responsible by
their want of vigilance for the catastrophe; such was the Queen’s fury,
indeed, that Filippa fled from her in fear for her life. Instantly, the
whole castle was in an uproar, its inhabitants scouring every nook and
cranny, indoors and out; but without success; and, presently, the whole
city of Naples was bent distractedly upon the same quest, hunting high
and low for the beloved little girl. All, though, was in vain; and,
albeit, during that day and many days and nights to follow the search
was diligently pursued, yet, in spite of every effort, no trace could
be found of the lost Princess.

The only drop of comfort vouchsafed to Joan, during all those weary
hours of agonising anxiety, came from Bertrand d’Artois, who had been
led, somehow, to suspect the agency of the Duke of Durazzo in respect
to Maria’s disappearance; a drop, however, that Joan refused to accept,
saying that such a thing was beyond the bounds of probability. For no
one, even, of Duke Charles’ household, let alone the Duke himself, had
so much as set foot within the castle precincts since the day when he
had left the place in anger. No stranger, even, had set foot, that
morning of Maria’s disappearance, inside the gates, except Nicholas
of Melazzo, for whose integrity Tommaso Pace, Prince Andrew’s own
body-servant, was willing to answer on his life.

In this manner a month went by, bringing to Joan despair of ever seeing
her sister again, until on April 30, 1343, there occurred an event
so amazing as to deprive her at first of every other sensation; until
her astonishment turned to fury at the insolent daring of it. On first
learning of it, she refused to believe it, and then, as the certainty
of it took the place of incredulity, her indignation knew no bounds.

For, on the stroke of noon of that day, she learned that her sister
had become the legal wife of Charles of Durazzo, having been publicly
married to him at an altar erected in the open air and in sight of all
the people before the Church of Saint John by the Sea, not a bow-shot
distant from the great gates of the Palazzo Durazzo. The marriage had
been solemnised by Duke Charles’ chaplain, the necessary dispensation
for the marriage of cousins, one of them being a minor, having been
received from Rome the day before; and, at its conclusion, the newly
wedded pair had faced the spectators hand in hand, and had solemnly
declared that they took one another as husband and wife, calling upon
God and the people to bear witness to it. Their announcement had been
acclaimed with tumultuous vociferations of applause and delight; after
which the Duke and Duchess of Durazzo received the Papal benediction,
prior to being escorted in procession round the city by their
men-at-arms and the sympathetic populace to the beating of drums and
the blowing of trumpets.

So that Charles of Durazzo was now the husband—and it need hardly be
said, the master—of the thirteen-year-old heir to the throne. And when,
after curbing the useless rage in her heart, Joan summoned the pair to
receive her congratulations, she realised her folly in quarrelling with
that all-daring and remorseless man; also, she understood that nothing
short of the throne itself—let the price be what it might—would ever
satisfy his lust of power and glory and hate.

Thenceforth, the temptation of Joan to be, in very truth, at once the
real ruler of her own dominions and, at the same time, the arbiter of
her own destiny, increased and grew to terrific powers; the desire to
satisfy her wishes absolutely in everything became a kind of diabolical
possession, sweeping away every consideration of virtue and of mere
worldly prudence; save only when, in rare intervals of reaction, she
would fall upon her knees in the solitude of her chamber, her face in
her hands, sobbing as though her heart would break with the horror of
her situation.



  Pact Between Charles and Andrew of Hungary—Joan’s Homage to the
  Papal Legate—Andrew Ignored—Arrival of Andrew’s Mother—Andrew
  Upheld by the Pope—His Reprisals—“The Man Must Die”—The Queen’s
  Conspiracy—Last Meeting of Charles and Andrew—The Hunting
  Expedition—The Banquet in the Monastery—The Murder—Tempest
  Breaks Over Joan’s Head—An Evil Blow at Charles—Trial of Andrew’s
  Murderers—A Nightmare of Cruelty and Fear.

To judge from the sequence of events, it would appear almost certain
that, in his amazing marriage with Princess Maria, Charles of Durazzo
must have had the assistance—or, at least, the tacit approval—of Andrew
of Hungary; and that, in return for this, Charles had promised Andrew
that he would take his part and support him against the faction of
the Queen. Certain it is, at all events, that, immediately after the
marriage of Charles and Maria, the party of Andrew, his Hungarian
barons and soldiers, redoubled in arrogance towards the Neapolitans,
and their excesses of violence and rapine which, erstwhile, had been
subjected to an intermittent restraint, now became such as to evoke
not only complaints, but threats as well on the part of the unfortunate
people. Andrew himself, however, took no notice of such protests, but
appeared, rather, to approve the outrages committed by his underlings.

And as certain was it in the opinion of his enemies that the time
was come when they might strike him with propriety as well as with

On August 31, 1344, Queen Joan came, surrounded by her friends, to the
Church of Santa Chiara, there to do homage for her crown to the Papal
legate, Cardinal San Martino de Monti; for the kingdom of Naples,
having been bestowed by the Pope upon the House of Anjou after the
deposition by them of that of the Hohenstaufen, was considered as a
fief of the Church.

By this ceremony the claims of Andrew of Hungary to a share in the
throne were formally ignored, and the single sovereignty ceremoniously
confirmed to Joan; for her husband was in no way admitted to join with
her in the act of homage, nor was there any reference to him by word
or deed from first to last; thereafter, his position in the realm was
that of its first subject and nothing more. In fact, he was simply
the Prince Consort of Naples. During the ceremony—for he, like Joan,
had come to it with a numerous armed retinue—the followers of the
husband and wife not only kept up a brisk exchange of threats, but had
actually to be prevented by repeated energetic commands from drawing
their swords then and there. When it was over, and Andrew had returned
to the Castel Nuovo, his heart on fire with rage and humiliation
and disappointment, his first act was to despatch a message to his
mother, Elizabeth of Poland, informing her of his resolution to depart
forthwith from the country which offered him nothing but deception and

Many months passed away, however, without either his carrying out his
avowed intention or any answer reaching him from his mother; for, had
he meant what he said in the letter, the letter would never have been
written at all; but he would have gone himself instead of sending
it. So he had hesitated in his choice of a course of action; and,
hesitating, was lost.

In place of a return letter, his mother came to fetch him away with her
on the vessel in which she had sailed from the port of Danzig; and no
sooner was it known what she had come to do than there went up a sigh
of thankfulness from all the Court, most especially from those who by
her advent saw themselves delivered from the detestable necessity of
assassinating the Hungarian Prince in order to insure their own safety
from his jealousy and resentment. At once, too, the friends—or, rather,
the party—of Joan set themselves to convince the Queen of Poland of
their amiable intentions towards her ungracious son by overwhelming her
with all manner of undesired civilities and entertainments. But nothing
could procure them the confidence of the terrified mother, or turn her
from her purpose of removing Prince Andrew from their midst.

The only person, though, who expostulated with Queen Elizabeth for
her project of withdrawing her son from Naples was his courageous and
resolute tutor, the Dominican, Father Robert, who implored her to have
patience and courage for a little while until he should have received
from the Pope, who was then living at Avignon, an answer to the
entreaty despatched so long before and in which Prince Andrew’s claims
to be the King of Naples—in accordance with the wishes of the deceased
King Robert—had been submitted to the judgment of the Holy Father with
an entreaty that he would ratify them.

But all that Father Robert could obtain from the thoroughly terrified
Elizabeth was a delay of three days, at the expiration of which time,
unless a favourable answer had been received from the Pope, she would
set sail once more for Danzig, taking Prince Andrew with her.

Not until the evening of that momentous third day, as she was
completing her preparations for departure, did the Dominican come
hurrying into Elizabeth’s presence, having in his hands a sheet of
parchment from which swung a seal upon a cord.

“Now, God be thanked!” he cried, proffering her the parchment. “You see
for yourself, Madam—the Holy Father consents, and your son is King of
Naples and of Jerusalem! And, if I may say so, I think it is owing to
me more than to any one else!”

And he went on to explain to the delighted Elizabeth how, without
mentioning it to any one, he had taken on himself the responsibility of
promising that certain laws prejudicial to the Church in the Kingdom
of Naples should be abolished if the Pope would confirm the crown to
Andrew of Hungary. At this juncture Andrew himself entered the room and
was informed of the change in his situation by being hailed as King of
Naples by the Dominican. At once the young man’s whole nature leapt out
to grasp the splendour of his new power in an outburst of revengeful
exaltation over those who had hitherto insulted and belittled him. Now,
as he swore, they should indeed have reason to tremble for their former
boldness, their contempt and defiance of him!

A few days later Queen Elizabeth sailed away from Naples, her head
still full of forebodings; try as she would, she could not shake off
the fears that beset her so increasingly for the safety of her son whom
she was leaving behind with none but a handful of foreign adherents in
the midst of a Court and of a people bent, as she felt certain, upon
his destruction.

But these misgivings were in no wise shared by Andrew of Hungary,
who now proceeded without loss of time to carry out his intention of
punishing his seditious subjects.

The first of those upon whom his hand fell was one of the chief
Councillors of the Kingdom, a certain Andrew of Isernia, who had been
chiefly concerned in persuading Queen Joan—who had looked upon him as a
father—to set at naught the provisions of King Robert’s will and to let
herself be proclaimed the sole ruler of Naples to the detriment of her

In passing be it said that, instead of at once making public the
Pope’s recognition of him as King of Naples, with, of course, absolute
rights of life and death over its people, Prince Andrew had chosen to
keep the fact of his kingship a secret for a little time in order the
better to enjoy the grim jest of his opponents’ ultimate discomfiture
when they should learn of his real power over them. Nevertheless,
in the meantime, he had not been able to resist tasting the fruits
of sovereignty in the shape of an “hors d’œuvre” to his banquet of
reprisals; with the consequence that Andrew of Isernia was found dead
one morning, near the Porta Petruccia of the city, bathed in blood,
with a score of sword wounds on his body.

The news of Isernia’s murder was brought to Joan by Bertrand of Artois,
who had learned also of Andrew’s confirmation as King by the Pope, as
well as of the fact that a list of persons to be summarily dealt with
had been drawn up by the Hungarian; and, supremely, that his, Bertrand
of Artois’, name was the first upon the list.

This last item it was that finally removed any lingering scruples
from Joan’s heart; for she loved Bertrand with all the passionate
recklessness of her fiery nature, and the thought that his handsome
head should roll upon the board of a scaffold maddened her against

“That decides it,” she is said to have declared to her lover. “The man
must die.”

And, when he left her, Bertrand of Artois went out to gather
together the others who were also of his conspiracy in the Queen’s
service—Robert of Cabano, and the Counts of Terlizzi and Morcone;
Charles of Artois, the father of Bertrand himself; Godfrey of Marsano,
High Admiral of the realm and Count of Squillace; and the Count of
Catanzaro. With these men were allied several women—notably Catherine
of Taranto, Empress of Constantinople, mother of that Louis whose
beauty was splendid like the sun; Filippa, the mother of Robert of
Cabano and of his sisters, the Countesses of Morcone and Terlizzi;
those two dusky beauties themselves; and finally Donna Cancia, the
laughing girl-demon and bosom-friend of the Queen.

To these was joined that same Tommaso Pace, valet to Prince Andrew,
with whom the notary, Master Nicholas of Melazzo, had of late
maintained the closest of relations in obedience to the orders of
Charles of Durazzo. No wonder, then, that within an hour after the
conference of the plotters Charles of Durazzo was in possession of
every detail of it, as well as of the names of the plotters themselves.

Now, before the actual ceremony of Andrew of Hungary’s proclamation
as King could take place, it was unavoidable that a few days should
be devoted to making all suitable preparations for that event; for,
so soon as Isernia’s killing had become known, Andrew had caused it
to be announced that the murder was not a murder at all in reality,
but merely a legal execution duly carried out by the person—a certain
Conrad de Gotis—empowered to do so by Andrew himself as King of Naples
by favour of the Pope. The unrest and uproar caused by this news in the
city were such that Andrew had thought it prudent to retire thence into
the neighbouring country until the time were come when, as crowned and
anointed King, he should be endowed with a real and efficient majesty,
the which he was as yet very far from possessing. In this intention,
therefore, he had given out that he would go with the Court for a while
upon a hunting expedition into the district between Capua Aversa.

Charles of Durazzo received a personal invitation from Prince Andrew to
join him and the others of the party, but declined on the ground of his
wife’s being extremely indisposed; this, the last meeting on earth of
the two men, took place on the 19th of August in the year 1345, towards
evening in a hall of the Castel Nuovo; it is said that, in declining
Andrew’s invitation, Charles begged him to accept a very fine falcon
from among those for which his perch was justly celebrated. The falcon
presented by Charles to Andrew may have been a jer-falcon; but I cannot
help thinking that, in all likelihood, the bird was a peregrine from
the cliffs between Sorrento and Amalfi. With Charles was also Nicholas
of Melazzo, from whom he had just been receiving the details of the
Queen’s conspiracy; and Charles, as he himself understood triumphantly,
was thenceforth to be master of the situation in the Kingdom of Naples.

The dawn of the next day saw a numerous cavalcade pass out from the
gate of the Castel Nuovo and file slowly down through the city and
so out into the misty lowlands towards Melito, where the sport was
to begin. The illustrious company was headed by Andrew of Hungary
in person, and beside him rode Queen Joan on a white palfrey; whilst
close behind them pressed the throng of those who had sworn to return
to Naples only when Andrew should have ceased to breathe. Never before
had Andrew shown himself so gay, so responsive to all the delights of
life and friendship as on that morning; although he knew that he, as
well as the men who rode behind him, had death in his heart—the death
of many among those very men who were now preparing to consummate their
treachery by murdering him. But they, like Andrew of Hungary, were loud
in talk and laughter, exchanging jests incessantly amongst themselves
and even, now and again, with their victim himself as he turned in his
saddle and threw back to them a challenge of wits.

Of all that festive throng two alone rode silent and preoccupied. Both
were women. One of them, the Queen, kept her eyes fixed steadfastly on
the landscape before her, from which the vapours were being rapidly
scattered and dispelled by the sunrise, so that none might read her
thoughts; whilst the other was an elderly German called Isolda, once
the nurse of Andrew and now his mother’s ambassador, who, like Queen
Joan, was too occupied with her own reflections to pay attention to
what was going on about her. For old Isolda’s heart was heavy with
an indefinable presentiment of some evil that threatened her beloved
foster-child; and her powerlessness to analyse or to avert it was
frightful to the faithful soul of her.

And so the August day grew to its full, hot and windless, and drew on
to afternoon and sank to airless evening, whilst hawk after hawk soared
into the grey-blue sky all a-quiver with the heat, after heron and
duck; or, else, hung poised there, hovering a little before swooping
down upon crouching hare or rabbit or partridge. But the main feature
of the sport was the hunting of wild boars with hound and spear; at
which Andrew of Hungary is said to have been an expert.

At dusk the royal party bent its way towards the town of Aversa, there
to pass the night in the monastery of San Pietro a Maiella, a house of
Celestine monks; for there was at hand no other building capable of
sheltering so many persons and their horses. The choice of a fitting
asylum for the Queen and her Consort and their followers was the
business of the Grand Seneschal, Robert of Cabano; and he it was who
undertook the necessary arrangements; by his orders a bed was prepared
for Joan and her husband in a room at the end of a corridor on the
third floor of the monastery and about sixty feet above the ground.

That night, the monks having retired long before to their cells, the
great refectory of the monastery rang with the jests and laughter of
the royal supper-party. Wine flowed in abundance; and none drank more
deeply than did Andrew of Hungary; until Robert of Cabano rose and said
that a draught of the same wine ought by rights to be given to each
of the Hungarian sentries posted outside the monastery to compensate
them for keeping their cheerless watch outside in the darkness. Which
proposal was carried out with loud applause, in which the sentries who
had been called into the hall to drink the health of the royal pair
joined heartily, so that the place echoed to the thunderous shouts of
“Long live their Majesties, the King and Queen of Naples!”

This feasting and good-fellowship was prolonged to a late hour, until
at length the conspirators became impatient of Andrew’s wakefulness,
and Bertrand of Artois remarked pointedly that the chances were against
any of them rising betimes in the morning after sitting up so late the
night before. To which Andrew answered scornfully that, speaking for
himself, an hour or two of sleep was amply sufficient, and that in this
he hoped he was not alone. But when the Count of Terlizzi expressed a
doubt of Andrew’s being able to set an example of early rising under
the circumstances, the Prince gave a challenge to all present, to be up
as soon as he in the morning; after which he withdrew with the Queen to
their apartment, and silence soon fell over all the building.

Towards two o’clock there came a knock on the door of the royal
bedchamber, followed by a second and a third; at the last of which
Andrew sprang out of bed, calling out that he was awake and was coming
at once. It is said that Joan, who had not closed an eyelid, was minded
to warn her husband of his danger, but thought better of it and kept
silence whilst he drew on his clothes and, going to the door, opened
it—to find himself confronted by a group of men, including his valet,
Tommaso Pace, who had knocked on the door, and Nicholas of Melazzo.

On the instant that Andrew showed himself, Bertrand of Artois, as some
say, seized him by his long hair and tried to pull back his head; but
he contrived to free himself, exclaiming, “This is a base jest!” Then,
perceiving that the intentions of the group were really hostile, he
endeavoured to retreat into the room for his sword, but was prevented
from doing so by Nicholas of Melazzo, who thrust his dagger for a bolt
through the staples of the door, whilst others, led by Bertrand of
Artois and Robert of Cabano, flung themselves upon the Prince like a
pack of wolves, trying to pull him down. But Andrew, now fighting with
all his strength, threw them off, and fled from them, shouting loudly
for help, and looking for an avenue of escape.

There was none, however, to be found; and at length, turning and
twisting from his assailants, Andrew slipped and fell; so that Bertrand
of Artois, the nearest of them, was enabled to grapple with him, on
the floor, calling for a certain rope with which to strangle him. This
rope, which was of silk twisted with gold threads, they had had made
on purpose to kill the Prince with, because of a talisman that he was
said to have received from his mother and that was held to render him
invulnerable by steel or poison. It seems to me probable that Robert
of Cabano had the rope ready in his hands and that, between them, he
and Bertrand of Artois contrived to place it about the Prince’s neck;
for, as Gravena tells us, when Robert of Cabano saw that one of their
lot, the Count of Terlizzi, was turning away from the horrid scene, he
made him take hold of the rope and help them to draw it tight; saying:
“What are you doing, my brother-in-law? Here, take hold—the rope
is long enough for each of us to put a hand to it. What we want are
accomplices, not witnesses!”

And so, between them all, they dragged Prince Andrew to a balcony
overlooking the garden of the cloister, and, lifting him up, threw him
over, so that he was hanged. And when they knew that he was dead they
let go of the rope; and the body fell down into the moonlit garden; and
they went away to their beds.

But the din of the murder had awakened Andrew’s old nurse, Isolda, who
now, looking out of her window, saw him lying there and thought that he
was asleep. Going to the Queen’s room, the door of which was fastened
on the inside, she called out to Joan, saying that the Prince was
asleep in the garden. To which Joan only made reply, “Let him sleep,”
and would not speak further. Then Isolda went and awakened the monks
and made them go with her into the garden to where Andrew lay on the
grass; and, when she saw that he was dead, she rent the night with her
lamentations. And two of the monks knelt down by the corpse, one at the
head and the other at the feet, and said the Penitential Psalms for the
repose of the Prince’s soul, while two other monks went up to the door
of the Queen’s room and asked of her through it:

“Oh, Queen, what are your commands that we should do with the dead body
of your husband?”

But she would not return any answer to them; so they went away again,
very greatly affrighted and troubled in spirit. And later they sent
others of their company once and twice on the same business; but
Joan either would not or could not speak with them, until at last the
townspeople of Aversa gathered about the monastery gates, began to howl
and to murmur amongst themselves, calling the Queen a murderess and
saying that she was afraid to look upon the face of her dead husband.
Nor did she show herself at all to them; but, later in the day, was
borne out of Aversa and so back to Naples in a closed litter guarded by

And now, at last, the tempest which had been brewing for so long in
silence broke into lightning over the head of Joan.

Charles of Durazzo, who as husband to the heir to the throne, was now,
next to Joan herself, the most considerable person in the kingdom—and,
further, by reason of all he knew, far the most powerful—now took the
chief direction of its affairs.

After leaving the body of Andrew of Hungary where it lay exposed
for two whole days to the battering of the elements—for the weather
had suddenly turned wet and gusty—at the foot of the monastery wall
at Aversa, in order thereby to arouse to the full the compassion of
the populace that flocked to behold it, as well as to arouse their
indignation against the murderers, Charles ordered the remains to be
brought in state to the Cathedral of San Gennaro in the city. There
having rallied to him the dead Prince’s Hungarian barons, together with
the Count of Altamura, he met the funeral procession and caused the
coffin containing the body to be placed upon a catafalque, by which he
took his stand.

“Oh, people of Naples, gentle and simple alike, behold your King,
miserably strangled by his murderers!” he cried, drawing his sword and
laying it upon the coffin. “I appeal to you to help me avenge him!”

And immediately the vast church rang and echoed with the roar of those
to whom he addressed himself.

“Vengeance!” they bellowed, forgetting in their desire for savagery
how, but a short while before, they had groaned beneath the insolent
brutality of that same Andrew of Hungary. “Vengeance, vengeance,
vengeance!”—and from out the sombre interior of the Cathedral the
roaring gushed in a flood of terrible sound, filling all the streets
with its clamour for blood. And, when the funeral was over, and the
coffin had been put away in the place prepared for it in the left
transept of the building, Duke Charles withdrew once more to his own
palace, well pleased with what he had done, there to apply his energies
to the work in hand.

Now it so happened that several of those who had conspired with
Joan to make an end of her husband had lost no time in claiming the
various rewards that they deemed to be due to them from her. Filippa
Cabano and Robert, her son, as well as her daughters of Terlizzi
and Morcone and their husbands, redoubled in arrogance and in the
daring of their clamour for honours and money; whilst Cancia, their
lascivious instrument and the handmaid of their Sovereign, now secured
from punishment by that Sovereign’s impotence even to protest against
her shamelessness, turned the Castel Nuovo into a place without a
name. But of all Joan’s fellow-conspirators the one who asked her the
most staggering price was her aunt, Catherine of Taranto, Empress
of Constantinople, who asked that she should consent to announce
her betrothal to Robert of Taranto, the Empress’ eldest son. To this
insolent demand Joan could only summon sufficient strength to reply
by asking a delay of three days, in which to make up her mind upon
the subject; which delay was granted her, the Empress only stipulating
that Prince Robert, in the meantime, should be allowed to take up his
quarters in the Castel Nuovo and to see and speak with Joan at least
once a day.

No sooner, though, did it reach the ears of Charles of Durazzo that
Robert of Taranto was installed in the Castel Nuovo as a preliminary to
his betrothal to the Queen than the Duke flung himself on to a horse
and galloped furiously to the castle. On entering Joan’s presence, he
spoke briefly and to the point. To begin with, she must create him
Duke of Calabria in his own right, thereby acknowledging him to be
the heir to the throne as the husband of her sister. And, as to Robert
of Taranto, Charles absolutely forbade her to marry him or any other
man without his express permission; threatening that, if she dared to
do otherwise, he would reveal to the whole world his knowledge of her
participation in the murder of Andrew of Hungary. This he did because
he had no intention, whatsoever, of allowing her to marry again and so
providing, possibly, a direct heir to the throne other than his wife
and himself. And again, Joan, helpless to refuse beneath her burden of
remorse and of terror both for herself and for others, had no choice
but to temporise as best she could.

There was now no other course open to her than that of an explanation
upon the subject of her situation with the Empress of Constantinople.

The latter, however, on learning of Duke Charles’ opposition to the
marriage of her son to Joan, declared her resolution of striking him a
blow that should assuredly wound him frightfully both in his affections
as well as in the esteem of the public before whom, she assured Joan,
he would be eternally dishonoured by it in the event of his refusing to
listen to the voice of reason.

First of all, advised the Empress, Charles must be made acquainted with
the fact that his veto of Joan’s espousal to Robert was without reason;
for, in very truth, Joan was expecting shortly to become the mother
of Andrew of Hungary’s posthumous child, who, in the natural course
of things, must eventually succeed to the throne of Naples. Should
Charles, however, in the face of this persist in placing obstacles
in the way of Joan’s marriage to Robert, then the blow of which
mention had been made—albeit the Empress had not divulged its nature,
precisely—should be launched upon him. Furthermore, added the Empress,
she herself would at once inform Charles of Joan’s expectation of soon
becoming a mother.

Joan, it must be added, had told her aunt of Charles’ knowledge of the
persons primarily responsible for Andrew’s death; so that the Empress
should realise the peril that menaced her at the Duke of Durazzo’s

Undeterred, though, by learning of his power over her, Catherine of
Taranto betook herself immediately to the Palazzo Durazzo and boldly
faced the arch-schemer. In wickedness and courage she was a match for
him, and he knew it; so he received her news of the Queen’s condition
with smooth words very delicately barbed and very poisonous. Thanking
the Empress with every show of respectful gratitude for the honour
that she had conferred upon him by coming thus in person with the
all-important and all-welcome news; for himself he asked only the title
of Duke of Calabria, which alone could enable him to watch over Joan’s
interests properly and those of her child. Should the Queen, he added,
see her way to complying with his request, then he should no longer
feel it his duty to bring all the accomplices of her husband’s murder
to justice; since, if Andrew of Hungary’s progeny were, in time, to
occupy the throne, the murder itself would be rendered in a measure of
no effect. In the event of Joan’s refusal, however, the enquiry already
instituted in regard to the King’s assassins would be prosecuted to
the bitter end without respect for any one whosoever—an eventuality
which as Charles pointed out to the Empress, with a diabolical smile,
might be very unpleasant for several of their mutual friends. By which
she was made to understand that Charles was perfectly aware of her own
share in that detestable transaction.

In answer, the resourceful Empress, careful to appear suitably
frightened by Charles’ hints, declared her willingness to do all she
could to promote his wishes, begging only a little time in which to
bring the Queen round to a more yielding frame of mind; a favour that
Charles could not help but grant her. And so they parted, with the
mutual assurance of a complete understanding.

On returning to the Castel Nuovo, the Empress, having reported what
had passed to the unhappy Joan, withdrew to consider her own plan of
action in the struggle with Charles of Durazzo. At length, she hit upon
a scheme so truly infernal as to claim preëminence over anything that
had preceded it in the long list of her iniquities. She would strike
her enemy to the heart; she would kill his intellect and break him as
surely as with an iron bar upon the wheel, through the one person that
he loved and venerated in all the world—his widowed mother, the saintly
Duchess Agnes of Durazzo.

Now it chanced that, during those days, Agnes of Durazzo lay sick of a
lingering and mysterious malady, the nature of which it was beyond the
ability of her physician to determine. In all probability the Duchess’
disease was one of an internal tumour; be that as it may, it was in
every symptomatic particular only too well adapted to the unspeakable
purpose of the Empress, who forthwith set herself to disseminating
rumours destructive to the reputation of the good and gentle Duchess.
Not satisfied with this alone, moreover, she contrived by a hellish
stratagem to deceive even the Duchess’ doctor, so that he believed
himself justified in imparting his opinion to Charles of Durazzo, in

So that mad horror, as of a lost soul, took possession of Charles,
and the desire of the Empress that his mind should become the prey of
devils was fulfilled.

The luckless, blundering physician he dismissed curtly from his
presence after their interview. An hour later the unfortunate man was
discovered in a back street of Naples, stabbed to death,—but not before
he had written out, by Charles’ orders, the recipe of a certain draught
to be administered to his illustrious patient; which thing was done in
the evening of the same day.

Shortly afterwards, Charles was hastily summoned to his mother’s
bedside from the room in which he had spent the rest of that awful day
alone with his thoughts after parting from the doctor. On entering that
of his mother, her attendants withdrew, leaving the fast-dying woman
alone with the son who had destroyed her in the interests of the family

What passed between them no man may say with any certainty; all that
is absolutely sure is that, when a few minutes had gone by, the scream
of a man in intolerable agony of soul rang out through the stone
corridor; and the Duchess’ servants, rushing to her room, found her
lying dead in the arms of her stricken son, who himself was entreating
her frantically to come back to him, sobbing as though his heart would
break, and imploring the mercy of Heaven for his misjudgment of her.

From that hour there was something very dreadful in the look of the
Duke of Durazzo, as though he were afraid of his own thoughts and were
for ever struggling to free himself from their compulsion. The only
person who understood a little of what was in his mind was, doubtless,
the Empress of Constantinople, and, when she saw that the man was
for the first time in all his life the prey of a hideous remorse, she
became gradually afraid for herself and for her first-born, Robert of
Taranto, for whom she was plotting to secure the hand of the Queen.

Towards the end of the time agreed upon between Joan and the Empress,
for the former to make public her betrothal to Robert, who was still
living in the Castel Nuovo, and while the whole town was lamenting the
mysterious death of the beloved Duchess Agnes of Durazzo, there came
to pass a thing which utterly set at naught all the calculations of the
Empress and of her eldest son.

It so happened that one day Robert of Taranto had gone out riding
with Charles of Durazzo, whom the astute mother of Robert had, since
the demise of Duchess Agnes, persuaded her son to conciliate by
every possible means in his power. Now both Robert and his mother had
overlooked, or were in ignorance of, the surpassing love that Louis
of Taranto, the youngest of Robert’s two brothers, had for some years
borne to Joan; which love Louis had kept in check to the best of his
ability while Andrew of Hungary lived. But, now that Joan was a widow
and the prize of any man bold enough to snatch it from the rest, Louis
of Taranto felt no hesitation in doing so when the opportunity offered.

Therefore, it came about that, on his return to the Castel Nuovo,
Robert found himself shut out. Despite his clamour to be admitted,
as he termed it, “to his own house” and his threats to exact bloody
retribution from the sentries within for keeping him waiting, he
received no attention from anybody until his mother came out to him,
trembling and confused, to say that in his absence his brother Louis
had effected an entry into the castle and had compelled Joan to go
through a form of marriage with him.

The effect of the news upon Robert may be easily imagined. After
staring, speechless, at his informant for a few minutes, there broke
from him a cry of rage and, turning his horse, he tore off at a gallop
towards the Palazzo Durazzo. Here he found Duke Charles in the company
of the Duchess Maria and informed them as well as he could, for fury,
of what had taken place. It ended in Charles’ promising him that he
would leave no stone unturned to prevent the necessary confirmation
by the Pope of the union of Louis with the Queen; and that, so long as
he, Charles of Durazzo, lived, no such confirmation should be put into

That same day he wrote to the Pope at Avignon asking for a Papal
enquiry into the murder of Andrew of Hungary and laying before the Holy
Father the names of those implicated in it; thus he hoped to obtain
the deposal of Joan from the throne and the reversion of it to himself
as husband of the next rightful heir, Maria of Anjou; also to insure
the destruction of the Empress of Constantinople as a participant in
Andrew’s death.

It was long before the Pope’s answer reached him, and, when at last
it did, it was rather disappointing. For Clement VI replied with
a Bull dated June 2, 1346, addressed to Beltram des Baux, Count
of Monte Scaglioso and Chief Justice of Sicily, bidding him draw
up a charge against the murderers of King Andrew—who were formally
anathematised—and to punish them with the utmost severity. A secret
codicil to the Bull, however, expressly forbade the Chief Justice to
proceed against or in any way to implicate in his handling of the case
either the Queen herself or any of her relatives. So, to avoid causing
still more lamentable disorders in the already distracted kingdom, any
such malefactors of the Blood Royal, added the Pope, would be dealt
with later by himself, alone, as the Supreme Head of the Church and
Suzerain lord of the Kingdom of Naples.

The Count of Monte Scaglioso showed himself no laggard in discharging
the duty thus entrusted to his zeal and ability.

Within three days from the reception of the Papal Bull he was able to
announce that the trial of the late King’s murderers would be held on
the following day in the great hall of San Luigi in the Castel Nuovo,
the same vast apartment in which Pope Celestino V had abdicated the
Pontificate in 1294. In the hall were seats for all the principal
nobles of the kingdom round about that of the Chief Justice himself.
The two accused persons were both men—Tommaso Pace, King Andrew’s
valet, and Nicholas of Melazzo, the confederate of Charles of Durazzo
and the same who had played the part of Judas as well as that of “Omri
who slew his master.” Both were brought from their prison to the Castel
Nuovo to undergo a preliminary torture that should make them confess
their guilt at once and so save the time and trouble of their judges.

On the way from the prison to the palace the accused passed by Charles
of Durazzo, to whom the wretched notary whispered, it is said, a
promise to reveal nothing of what had formerly passed between them on
condition that Charles would provide for the other’s widow and orphans;
to which the Duke assented with a nod of the head.

And Nicholas of Melazzo kept his word; for, during all the torments
to which he was presently subjected, he held his mouth and played the
man. But with the valet it was very different; no sooner did Tommaso
Pace feel his arms being dislocated at the shoulder in the torture
known as that “of the Cord” than he shrieked for mercy, swearing to
tell everything and imploring to be conducted before his judges. And
now there ensued the first of a series of hellish scenes that were to
follow each other in the drama of mediæval reprisal, that nightmare of
cruelty and fear.

As the two prisoners were being taken from the cell where they had
been tortured to the hall of San Luigi, up a narrow, winding stairway,
the Count of Terlizzi, who was bringing up the doleful procession with
several of his men-at-arms—he having been present at the torturing of
both the accused, and being in terror of what Tommaso Pace might be
about to reveal—suddenly sprang upon the valet (who was walking behind
Nicholas of Melazzo and their gaolers) and with the help of one of his
soldiers dragged him back into an embrasure of the stairway and there,
taking him by the throat, forced him to put out his tongue, which they
cut out with a knife. Then, pushing the fainting wretch before them,
they rejoined the procession; but not before Pace’s howls had drawn
the attention of Charles of Durazzo, who, like Terlizzi, had been
a witness of what had taken place in the torture-chamber. So struck
was he by the horrid energy of Terlizzi’s act, and understanding its
purport as he did, Charles fell for an instant beneath the spell of
the very danger which he had so laboriously created for the removal of
Joan and Louis of Taranto from his path. It may be that there rang in
his ears, together with the miserable valet’s inarticulate protests,
the words of the Psalm—“he hath digged a pit for others and is fallen
into it himself”; at any rate, he glanced at Nicholas of Melazzo
and, halting the procession, drew him aside to where they could speak
without being overheard. And Nicholas, reading the half-formed purpose
in his face, once more whispered his promise of secrecy. Whereupon
Charles, recovering his courage, promised on his part to take care of
the notary’s family, adding a command that Nicholas should name every
person concerned in the King’s assassination to the Chief Justice,
excepting Charles himself, and the Queen and the members of the royal

This command Nicholas obeyed implicitly; but when the Chief Justice
began to question Tommaso Pace for a confirmation of the notary’s
evidence, the mutilated valet could only open his mouth and point to
where his tongue had been.

Nevertheless, the Chief Justice ordered the immediate arrest of such
of the conspirators as were present in the hall of San Luigi—Robert of
Cabano and the Counts of Morcone and Terlizzi, the last of whom had
thus gained nothing by his barbarity upon Tommaso Pace. Of the other
conspirators, Filippa Cabano and her two daughters, together with Donna
Cancia, were thrown into prison immediately afterwards; and the rest,
the Lords Mileto, Catanzaro, and Squillace, being warned in season,
saved themselves by flight; old Charles of Artois and his son Bertrand
being still secure in their fortress of Sant’ Agata of the Goths, near
what was probably the real site of the Caudine Forks and from which,
centuries later, the last Father of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori,
was destined to take his episcopal tide as Bishop of Sant’ Agata; where
he died in the year 1788.

And, when Nicholas of Melazzo had concluded his testimony, he was
sentenced, with his accomplice, Tommaso Pace, to be dragged at the
tail of a horse throughout the town and then hanged by the neck in
the Mercato, the great market square, in which square Conradin of
Hohenstaufen and Frederick of Baden had been decapitated by order of
Charles I of Anjou in 1268, after the battle of Tagliacozzo. It was in
this same square of the Mercato that Masaniello’s rebellion broke out,
in the Seventeenth Century; and here took place also the execution of
the misguided Liberals in 1799.

The sentence upon the notary and the valet having been forthwith
carried into effect, the other prisoners were on the following day
taken out of the Castel Nuovo and conveyed on to a galley in the bay,
their hands tied behind their backs and having each a hook passed
through their tongue to prevent them from calling out any mention
of some forbidding name in passing to the crowd. When they had been
tortured on the galley—a precaution for which the Count of Monte
Scaglioso would seem to have been answerable—and their depositions
against one another duly written down and signed, needless to say they
were, one and all, condemned to be burned alive.

The next morning the crowd (composed mainly of descendants of the
slaves of the long-ago Romans) filled all the ways from the prison to
the Mercato, where on the side towards the Church of Sant’ Eligio—the
usual spot on which executions usually took place being before the
other Church in the piazza, the ancient Church of Santa Croce—was
erected a huge pile of wood and many bundles of twigs about a number of
posts with staples to them. This was the pyre.

From an early hour the populace had been swarming the city, tossed
and churned hither and thither by its ravening for blood—no matter of
whom—and by its impatient excitement for the gratification of its lust
of cruelty. At last, however, its waiting was rewarded and there went
up to the heavens a roar of pleasure as the prison-gates were thrown
open and the spectacle began of the procession to the Mercato. I need
not describe it, save to say that all along the way the condemned, each
in a separate cart, were tortured in a revolting manner with scourges,
razors, and red-hot pincers, so that several succumbed to their
sufferings before reaching the pyre intended for them. Amongst those
who died thus was Robert of Cabano, Grand Seneschal of the Kingdom,
and the only one of them all who refused to utter the least sound by
which to betray his torments to the mob. And when, finally, the dying
unfortunates were all made fast to the stakes and fire was put to them,
that same mob rushed over the intervening soldiers, extinguishing
the flames and seizing the still palpitating bodies, tore them in
pieces for the sake of the bones, with which to make whistles and



  Charles’ Further Acts as Dictator—Rise of the Favoured
  Louis of Taranto—Civil War—A Scheme of the Empress of
  Constantinople—Interference of the King of Hungary—The Empress
  Again to the Rescue—Hungary’s Advance—Death of the Empress—Flight
  of the Neapolitan Nobles—Joan and Her Husband in Provence—Charles’
  Well-merited Fate—The King of Hungary’s Vengeance—Government by

This detestable butchery, strictly in accord with the criminal
procedure of the day, was but the beginning of a reign of terror in
the city and realm of Naples. The murder of Andrew of Hungary was soon
no more than a pretext to serve Charles of Durazzo for ridding himself
of all persons who, in any way, dared to manifest their disapproval of
his assumption of the Dictatorship of the Kingdom or to murmur against
his unbearable tyranny. Nor was it long before Louis of Taranto,
who by now had completely won the heart of Joan, and was seeking to
obtain from the Pope the dispensations necessary to make lawful their
irregular union, began to consider the high-handed and arrogant conduct
of Charles—whom and all whose works he abominated—as an intolerable
affront to himself. In consequence, having armed his retainers and
increased his forces as much as he could, Louis raised his standard as
King of Naples and Jerusalem and bade his loyal subjects rally to him
in opposition to the Albanian usurper of his sovereign rights.

In this manner there broke out a regular civil war throughout the
country; now the victory inclined to Louis, and now to Charles and
his ally, Robert of Taranto, the elder brother of Louis, and the
disappointed suitor of Joan. But a day soon came when there was no
longer left to Louis any more money; and without money he was naturally
helpless to pay his troops. Both he and Joan were in despair, when his
mother, the Empress of Constantinople, who was living with them, showed
the true mettle of which she was made.

Bidding the young couple take heart, Catherine of Taranto promised
solemnly that, if they would but lend her the half of their forces and
would content themselves with remaining for a week on the defensive
in the Castel Nuovo, she would bring them at the end of that time a
treasure such as they had never yet even imagined. To this proposal
they perforce consented; and the Empress, leading half her son’s army,
marched boldly out from Naples by the Porta Capuana, along the road
towards Benevento, and so came by way of the Caudine Forks to the
castle of Saint Agatha of the Goths, where Queen Joan’s former lover,
Bertrand of Artois, and his father, old Count Charles, were still
skulking from the law.

Now when Count Charles perceived that troops were preparing to besiege
him, and recognised their leader as the Empress, he sent out messengers
to enquire her intentions in coming thus with a large force into his
neighbourhood; to which Catherine replied, speaking as follows (her
speech is translated literally):

   “My most beloved ones (‘Dilettissimi miei’), pray report to our
   friend Charles that we desire to speak with him privately upon
   a matter of equal interest to us both; and that he need feel no
   uneasiness at seeing us come thus with an armed force to him,
   for we have done so expressly for a certain purpose, the which we
   will explain to him at our leisure. We know that he is confined
   to his bed with an attack of gout and so we were not surprised
   that he did not come out in person to greet us. And so pray
   salute him from us and reassure him as to our intentions towards
   him; and say that we would fain enter to him—if such be his
   pleasure—with Master Nicholas Acciajuoli, our privy councillor,
   and no more than ten of our soldiers, in order to confer with him
   upon a subject too important to be confided to messengers.”

Completely deceived by the pernicious woman’s fair words as reported
to him, Count Charles sent out his son Bertrand to receive her with all
due ceremony, and to escort her to where he himself lay prostrate with
illness. Their meeting was cordial in the extreme; after expressing
the most heartfelt regrets at the venerable knight’s sad condition, the
Empress, so soon as they were alone together, lowering her voice, said
that her object in so coming to him was to consult him in regard to the
state of affairs in Naples and to enlist his active support on behalf
of the Queen. At the same time, she went on to say, there being no
immediate reason for her return to the capital, she would be more than
grateful for the favour of being allowed to remain yet a few days with
him at St. Agatha, in order to profit by his advice and to give him
some account of all that had come to pass in Naples during his absence.

It ended in Count Charles’ head being quite turned by the Empress’
flattery; so that he not only begged her to remain his guest for so
long as she pleased, but also gave orders for the gates of the castle
to be left open so that she might be accessible at all times to her
officers, civil and military, that were encamped outside the walls with
her army.

But the fatuous credulity of Count Charles was soon undeceived. At
a late hour of the following night, the gates of the fortress being
still open and its rightful inmates sound asleep for the most part,
the foolish old Count was suddenly awakened from his slumbers by the
Empress of Constantinople, who, followed by several of her soldiers,
entered his room, a dagger in her hand, and, advancing to his couch,
seized him by the throat.

“Oh, accursed traitor, you are now going to be punished as you
deserve!” she cried. And when he begged only mercy for his son—thinking
the Empress had in mind to slay them both, lest at any time they should
conspire against the kingship of her son, Louis of Taranto—and offered
to put her in possession of his entire treasury if only she would
spare the life of his adored son, to all his entreaties she answered
only that he must prepare to part for ever from his son, whom she had
decided to send away to the castle of Malfi; and that, as for Count
Charles himself, the probability was that he would end his days in the
dungeons of that of St. Agatha of the Goths. Prior to pronouncing these
sentences, however, she had compelled him to show her where his immense
treasures were concealed behind the wall of his bedchamber—a veritable
Aladdin’s cave of gold in bars and in plate and of precious stones.

The chronicler, Domenico Gravina, relates how that a few days later
Count Charles was found dead in his prison, the lips covered with a
bloody froth, and the wrists all gnawed away—so we may suppose him to
have died either of rage or of some corrosive poison; or, very likely,
of both. And not long afterwards his son Bertrand, in despair, hanged
himself from a grating in the vault at Malfi, into which he had been
transferred by order of Catherine of Taranto.

But retribution, as condign as it was merited, was about to fall upon
the head of that wicked woman.

On returning, laden with her ill-gotten spoils, to Naples, her triumph
was dashed to the ground to learn that, during her absence, Charles
of Durazzo, her ancient enemy and that of her house, had once more
sent word to Joan, demanding that she should instantly create him Duke
of Calabria, and so acknowledge him to be the rightful heir to the
throne as the husband of her sister Maria. This demand the Queen had
rejected with contumely; and Charles, stung to madness by her refusal,
had thereupon sent back word to inform her that he had accordingly
written to King Louis of Hungary, inviting him to take possession of
the kingdom and promising to deliver to him the chief murderers of his
brother Andrew, who had so far escaped the just consequences of their

It was now indispensable, as Joan saw clearly, to secure the public
opinion of Europe to her side in the life-and-death struggle with her
implacable foe. Therefore, she sent ambassadors to plead her cause with
the Florentine Republic and to exonerate her of the crime generally
imputed to her of having caused the murder of her husband. She even
wrote in the same sense to the Hungarian King himself; but only
received for reply a letter in which Louis of Hungary enumerated the
proofs against her—her disordered life both before and after marriage;
the exclusive power that she had arrogated to herself; the fact that it
had been in no way owing to her exertions that King Andrew’s murderers
had ever been brought to justice, and that she had so quickly taken
another husband in his place—all of which certainly pointed to Joan’s
aggravated guilt.

Indeed, the King of Hungary had already, on receipt of Charles of
Durazzo’s letter, written back to accept the offer of the throne and
to say that he would at once set about making preparations for coming
down to Naples at the head of a large army of Hungarians. For, apart
from Charles’ invitation to him, King Louis, stirred up by love for his
murdered brother, as well as by the tears of their mother, Elizabeth,
and the incitement of the Dominican, Father Robert, who, after Andrew’s
demise, had taken refuge in Budapesth, was now entirely bent on
avenging his brother to the utmost of his ability.

He had in the past made strong endeavours to obtain from the Pope at
Avignon a condemnation of Joan herself and of her accomplices of the
Blood Royal, complaining that whereas the less prominent members of
the plot against his brother had suffered the just penalty of their
sins, yet the principal authors of it had been let to go unpunished;
and that Joan herself, the most guilty of all, had been suffered to
continue with impunity her career of shameless immorality. To which
the Holy Father had answered that the Queen’s conduct, both during and
after the murder of her husband, was of a surety most blameworthy; but
that, no tangible proof of complicity in Andrew’s death having been
brought against her, he, the Pope, although willing to do justice to
all parties in so far as in him lay, could not condemn Joan upon mere
hearsay evidence. Should such good and solid evidence be produced
before him against her, however, he would not fail to deal with her
accordingly; until then he must suspend judgment.

As before, it was again the Empress Catherine who came to the rescue
of the situation in which her son and his wife were now placed by
the action of Charles of Durazzo in inviting Louis of Hungary’s
intervention against them. As she saw clearly, the only thing left for
them to do now was to come to terms with their nearest enemy Charles
himself, and to bribe him to combine with them against the invader who
was already hastening to overwhelm them. Accordingly,, she arranged a
truce with Charles; and, together with Joan and Louis of Taranto, met
him in the gardens of the Castel Nuovo, where it was agreed between
him and Joan that he should be created Duke of Calabria and formally
acknowledged as the heir to the throne. In return he was to join forces
with Joan and Louis against the King of Hungary. So soon as this
agreement had been carried out, Charles, who now saw himself within
measurable distance of the throne itself, set out from Naples with
all the troops that could be spared for the purpose, for the city of
Aquila, where the populace was already declaring for Louis of Hungary.
With him went also Robert of Taranto, who had become reconciled to
his brother Louis in this the hour of the latter’s greatest danger.
And, just as they departed for Aquila, the Empress Catherine, who was
watching the troops defile along the street towards the Porta Capuana,
was taken suddenly ill and died, without speaking again, in the evening
of the same day.

In the meantime the King of Hungary had already entered Italy from
the north, and had struck into the Neapolitan territory on the side
of Apulia; and the news of his coming filled the Court of Naples with
dismay. For it had been hoped that his progress might have been stayed
by a legate whom the Pope had sent to meet him at Fogligno, within a
long day’s march of the Neapolitan frontier, and to bar the way to him
with a threat of excommunication if he dared to advance any further
without the permission of the Holy Father; but the Hungarian had
refused to pay any attention to Papal remonstrances, and had continued
on his way through the States of the Church into the Kingdom of Naples.

On learning of these events Queen Joan, hastily assembling such of
the nobles as she knew to be loyal to her, made them swear fidelity
to Louis of Taranto, her husband, and then took ship by night in one
of her own Provençal galleys for Marseilles, the port of Avignon,
which belonged to her—so that she was, in a sense, the landlady of the
Pope. So soon, then, as Joan had departed to seek refuge at the Papal
Court, Louis of Taranto, taking with him his dead mother’s Counsellor,
Nicholas Acciajuoli, set out with a small force for the citadel
of Capua on the River Volturno, thinking there to check the enemy.
Unhappily, though, the Hungarian monarch, obtaining information of his
adversary’s movements, turned aside, and, marching round the flank of
the Neapolitan forces by way of the mountains of Alife and Morcone,
seized upon the city of Benevento, in rear of Louis of Taranto’s army.

At Benevento, however, the King of Hungary was met by a deputation of
Neapolitan subjects, who, frightened by the rapidity of his advance,
as well as by the Queen’s flight and by the sudden departure of her
husband for they knew not what place, had decided to make the best
terms they could for themselves with the revengeful newcomer. And so
they brought him the keys of the city, and made submission to him as
the rightful successor of the late King Robert. The news of this event
soon reached Louis of Taranto’s army, and at once a vile panic set
in, and very soon Louis found himself deserted by all save only the
faithful, intrepid Acciajuoli; for there was more courage beneath the
lawyer’s gown than beneath the breastplates of all the army. Resistance
to the Hungarian was no longer possible for Louis; and, together with
Acciajuoli, he returned to Naples in the evening of the day on which he
had learned of the Hungarian’s arrival at Benevento. At Naples, Louis
was met by his brother Robert and by Charles of Durazzo, both of whom,
as well as all his other relations, entreated him to go away at once,
lest he should bring down the wrath of the Hungarian upon them and upon
the whole city. Turning his back upon the cowards, Louis went down to
the seashore and, accompanied as ever by the loyal Acciajuoli, embarked
in a crazy, rotten rowing-boat manned by four sailors, thanks to whose
devotion he ultimately reached Leghorn; whence he shortly joined Queen
Joan in their kingdom of Provence.

The King of Hungary being encamped at Aversa, Charles of Durazzo and
Robert of Taranto now repaired there to him with the purpose of turning
away his anger from themselves and their families. They were received,
to their great consolation and encouragement, with every possible
manifestation of benignity; the King even going so far as to enquire
after their youngest brothers, Louis of Durazzo and Philip of Taranto,
and to express the most lively desire to make their acquaintance as
soon as possible. Finally he begged they might be sent for, in order,
as he put it, “that he might make his entry into Naples in the midst
of all his family.” With these requests their elders made all speed to
comply, so that, within a few hours, the boy, Louis of Durazzo, and the
young man, Philip of Taranto, were with them in the castle of Aversa,
the Hungarian headquarters. On their being presented to him, the King
embraced them, and chatted with them a little while; after which he
made them, with their elder brothers, sit down with him to supper, not
parting with them until a late hour of the night.

Now there were with the King of Hungary two noblemen of Naples, Lillo
of Aquila and the Count of Fondi, both of them brave and honourable
gentlemen and haters of cruelty and treachery. And, when Charles of
Durazzo went to bed that night, these came to his bedside and bade
him beware, for that the Hungarian was a tyrant and no gentleman and
that, for all his fair words, he had only that morning taken council
with his followers that he might put Charles himself to death and send
the other Neapolitan princes in captivity into Hungary. But to these
warnings Charles turned a deaf ear, although Lillo persisted in them
and implored him, for the sake of all he held dear in this world, to
save himself with his brothers and his cousins; until Charles angrily
bade his well-wishers to leave him in peace.

All the next day the demeanour of the King continued the same until the
evening, when, as they were all at supper, Charles received yet a last
warning of his danger from Lillo of Aquila, who was waiting upon him at

“Oh, why does your Highness refuse to listen to me?” he whispered.
“Fly—fly—there is still time to save yourself.”

But Charles, irritated by Lillo’s persistency, threatened, unless he
held his peace, to repeat his words aloud to the King; and Lillo could
only bow in submission, whispering as he did so:

“At least, I have done my duty; and now may the will of God be done,
likewise, in regard to you.”

At that moment the King rose and confronted Charles, with a terrible
countenance; so that the latter was now, at last, rudely awakened from
his dream of security.

“Ah, traitor, now I hold you in my hand!” cried the King. “Be sure that
I will do justice upon you—full justice—for your crimes,—your daring
to march against my city of Aquila—you, by whose invitation I came to
give peace to this miserable land that has groaned so long beneath the
burden of you and yours.”

He then went on to reproach Charles with having been, together with
his mother’s brother, Cardinal de Périgord, the means of postponing
the coronation of Andrew, and so of bringing him to his untimely end;
furthermore, he accused Charles of designing to obtain the kingdom
for himself by his abductive marriage with the Princess Maria, his
own, King Louis’, intended bride; which last delinquency had all along
rankled fearfully in the King’s mind, so that as he referred to it
his voice broke into a shout of fury. And then, turning away from the
excuses and pleadings for mercy of his victim, he ordered the Voivode,
Stephen of Transylvania, to take charge of all the prisoners and to
keep them for the night in a room near his, the King’s, own apartment.

The next day King Louis, having visited that balcony in the Castle of
Aversa from which the dead body of his brother Andrew had been hanged
and then thrown into the garden below, sent an order to the Voivode
Stephen that he was to have Charles of Durazzo brought by soldiers to
that same place and that they were to cut his throat; but the King
himself did not stay to witness the execution. And when word of the
King’s order was brought to the Voivode, he told Charles to follow
him; and, together with some soldiers, they went out to the room of
the balcony. There the Voivode asked of Charles whether he wished to
confess his sins to a priest; who answered in the affirmative, and
so one of the monks came to him from the monastery, and heard his
confession, and absolved him in so far as he was able to do. After
which Duke Charles knelt down over against the fatal balcony and
commended his poor soul to God, and was killed by having a very sharp
knife drawn across his throat (so that his head was nearly severed from
his body) by one of the soldiers, whilst another plunged a sword into
his heart that he might die quickly. And when the thing was done they
threw the dead body of the Duke over the balcony into the garden.

After that, King Louis rode away with all his army from Aversa to
Naples, being met on the way by a large deputation of nobles and
citizens of whom he took no notice, refusing to acknowledge their
greeting or to ride beneath a canopy they had provided for his entry
into the capital. On arriving in Naples the King at once gave himself
up to the work of vengeance. The first to die was Donna Cancia, who,
ever since the death of the other regicides, had been lying in prison;
she was burned alive in the Mercato. Soon after Cancia’s death the
King ordered the arrest of the Count of Squillace, Godfrey of Mansano,
promising to spare him if he would deliver up one of his relations,
a certain Conrad of Catanzaro, accused of having been among those
privy to the murder of Andrew. To this infamy Squillace consented,
saving his life by betraying Conrad to the Hungarian authorities,
who had him broken alive, as is related, upon a wheel studded with
razor-blades,—but I incline to doubt this for more reasons than one.
But, instead of assuaging the rage of King Louis, these monstrous
executions seem only to have filled him with a further appetite
for blood. As during the usurpation of power by Charles of Durazzo
after King Andrew’s murder, so now executions multiplied to such an
extent that they threatened soon to become the principal medium of
government; just as, four centuries and a half later, in the time of
suppression of 1799, there set in an epidemic of frantic denunciation,
the general terror making of society a hot-bed of the basest passions
and motives—avarice, cowardice, and hate. And soon the people began to
think how they might rid them of the ghastly incubus that had come to
prey upon them in the person of the vampire-monarch from Hungary.



  Joan Detained at Aix—Greeted as a Queen—Joan Pronounced
  Innocent—Plans to Regain Naples—Sale of a City—Return to
  Naples—Indecisive War—Proposal for Personal Conflict—Flight of the
  Royal Family—Maria’s Narrow Escape—Hungarians Repulsed—Pope Clement
  as Intermediary—Departure of the King of Hungary—Festivity in
  Naples—Death of Louis and Joan’s Further Marital Adventures—Joan in
  Trouble—Her Untimely End.

In those days of the King of Hungary’s assize in Naples, Queen Joan
reached her county of Provence and began to travel across it from Nice,
where she had landed, towards Avignon.

On coming to the town of Aix, however, to her astonishment and
perplexity, her journey was interrupted by the townspeople, who, albeit
they received her with every mark of respect, yet set a guard about
the castle of the place, the Château d’Arnaud, in which she stayed; and
refused to let her issue thence until, as they said, they should have
had word from Avignon—but in regard to what matter they would not tell
her at once. Only after two months had gone by did the Archbishop of
Aix present himself before her with an explanation. It appeared that,
at the very moment of Joan’s landing in Provence, news had been brought
to Aix that the King of France had sent his son, the Duke of Normandy,
to Avignon to negotiate with Joan as to the cession of Provence to
the French Crown in exchange for a proportionate territory elsewhere;
so that, on seeing Joan arrive thus timely in their midst, the people
of Aix imagined, not unnaturally, that her presence among them must
be connected with the negotiations in question. And, as they were
determined to die to the last man rather than pass under the detested
rule of the French, they had resolved, if need be, to keep the Queen
a hostage among them, in order to prevent her from carrying on the
dreaded negotiations. Having however, and to their great thankfulness,
received from the Sovereign Pontiff himself an absolute denial of
any such purpose of negotiation, they at once and with many apologies
restored the Queen to liberty.

On leaving Avignon, what was her delight on seeing the beloved Louis
of Taranto come out to meet her, accompanied by all the Cardinals then
in attendance upon the Pope! Joan was now, indeed, greeted as a Queen
by her people, who strewed the way with flowers, the while a number
of mounted pages rode beside the royal pair, holding above them a
canopy of crimson velvet; and, from every church the bells pealed out
a welcome to the Sovereigns. In the castle they were received with
all pomp and circumstance by the Holy Father, who embraced and blessed
them; after which they took up their residence in the Ursuline convent;
and a little later, to complete the gladness of Joan, her younger
sister, Maria, now the mother of two baby girls, arrived at Avignon
from the stricken city of Naples. After the death of her husband in the
castle of Aversa, Maria, bearing her children in her arms, had taken
refuge from the reprisals of the King of Hungary in the monastery of
Santa Croce, where the monks took her in and fed and sheltered her
during some days, although they knew that not only their lives but
the existence of the monastery itself would fall a sacrifice to the
Hungarian’s anger should he ever learn of their charity to the widow of
Charles of Durazzo. At length she had contrived, thanks to the disguise
of an old monastic gown, to embark with her babies upon a ship bound
for Provence; and her account of the things that were being done by
the Hungarian in Naples made both Joan and her husband long to get back
there with an army behind them, that they, in their turn, might satisfy
their vengeance.

About this time there arrived, too, at Avignon ambassadors from the
King of Hungary to the Pope, demanding in no measured terms the formal
condemnation of Joan as an accessory before the fact to the murder of
her husband, and her deposition from the throne of Naples; and, most
especially, that the Holy Father should give the kingdom instead to
Louis of Hungary. And now the Pope appointed a day for Joan on which
to plead her cause before him and to disprove the charges made against
her if she could; and this she did so ably that those who heard her
broke into loud applause, and the Pope pronounced her innocent before
all the world, and the Hungarian envoys were compelled to go away
empty—although, to this day, there are those who have their doubts
as to the veracity of Joan’s denial of the sin imputed to her. At any
rate, Pope Clement, who was a good and truth-loving Pontiff, believed
her, and there is an end of it.

After the discomfiture of the Hungarians, the Pope confirmed the
marriage of the Queen to her cousin, Louis of Taranto, and bestowed
upon the latter the title of King of Naples and of Jerusalem; he had
already, on March 27, given him the Golden Rose. Simultaneously, the
Holy Father sent an apostolic legate, Cardinal de Boulogne, to the King
of Hungary, at Naples, to persuade him to cede the kingdom peaceably to
its rightful sovereigns.

While the Cardinal was engaged on this difficult task, Nicholas
Acciajuoli betook himself, likewise, into Naples and set about raising
an army wherewith to drive out the Hungarians in the event of their
refusing to listen to the Cardinal’s arguments. But, to maintain such
an army, great expenses were unavoidable; and the Queen, who had sent
him in answer to a deputation of Neapolitans entreating her to return
and rule over them, was now obliged to raise money by every means at
her disposal. For this purpose she sold all her jewels; but, these
proving insufficient, she begged the Pope to buy of her the city of
Avignon. To this he consented, and on June 19, 1348, gave her for it
a sum about equal to sixty thousand pounds of our money. Which amply
disproves the statement made by Alexandre Dumas,[12] who says that
the sale took place on the day immediately prior to Joan’s trial,
suggesting as he does that the Pope’s decision was influenced by his
eagerness to acquire possession of the city—for the trial was held
almost at once after Joan’s arrival at Avignon, on March 15.

In the meantime the King of Hungary had declined to accede to the
Pope’s instance that he should retire from Naples to his own kingdom;
and so there was nothing left for Joan and Louis of Taranto to do but
to dispossess him at the sword’s point. Thanks to the indefatigable
efforts of Acciajuoli—and, in perhaps even greater measure, to the
misrule of the Hungarian himself—matters were now ripe for an armed
intervention in Naples, where every strong place had surrendered to
the enemy, with the glorious exception of the castle of Melfi, of
which Lorenzo Acciajuoli, the son of Nicholas, was the commander.
From Melfi, where he had conferred with his son, Nicholas Acciajuoli
travelled throughout the country, crying the Queen’s acquittal and the
confirmation of her union with Louis of Taranto and proclaiming far
and wide the great indulgences and blessings promised by the Pope to
all who should submit themselves to their lawful rulers, Queen Joan and
her consort, King Louis. And, finding himself everywhere greeted with
tumultuous declamations of loyalty towards Joan and of detestation of
the Hungarian, Acciajuoli returned to the Queen at Avignon with the
news that she might safely entrust her cause to her own people.

On September 10, 1348, she left Provence for Naples, accompanied by her
husband and her sister and the counsellors, Acciajuoli and Spinelli.
But, when they came to the shores of Naples, they could not land in the
harbour because all the castles on that side of the city were occupied
by the Hungarians, so that they had to go on to where the mouth of the
classic river, Sebeto, was crossed by a bridge, the Ponte Guiscardo;
thence they were escorted by the nobles and townspeople to the Palazzo
Adjutorio by the Porta Capuana, where they proceeded to establish
themselves and their Court.

For many months the fortunes of war inclined first to one side and
then to the other. It began by Nicholas Acciajuoli’s blockading the
Hungarians in their strongholds, whilst Louis of Taranto employed his
energies in reducing various of the rebellious barons to allegiance.
Little by little, he extended his operations from the city of
Naples into the furthest confines of the kingdom; until, by dint
of perseverance, he had contrived to make himself, as it appeared,
master of it. But suddenly his good-fortune deserted him, owing to his
abandonment by one of the King of Hungary’s mercenaries whom Louis had
seduced to the side of the Queen by heavy bribes. This was that Werner
who styled himself “the enemy of GOD,” and who now resold himself to
the Hungarian, to whose Vicar-General, Conrad Wolf (Conrado Lupo, as
the chronicler makes it), he opened the gates of Benevento.

The consequence of Werner’s treachery was to force Louis of Taranto
to fall back upon Naples; when the King of Hungary, on learning of it,
made all speed to rejoin his troops—he had fled from Italy for a while
to escape an epidemic of the plague—before Aversa, bringing with him
heavy reinforcements. Landing at Manfredonia, he advanced, practically
unopposed, so swiftly as to take his adversary completely by surprise.
Having made himself master of the fortresses of Trani, Canosa, and
Salerno in rapid succession, thus hemming in Louis of Taranto on the
east and on the south, he proceeded to lay siege to Aversa on the
north of Naples. This new move threatened disaster to Joan and her
husband, who, being forced to remain on the defensive in Naples, were
obliged to witness the spectacle of as gallant a resistance as was
ever made by any beleaguered garrison; and that without being able to
come in any way to the assistance of Pignatelli, the commandant of the
place, and his heroic soldiers, who only numbered about five hundred
men, as against some seventeen thousand of the enemy’s forces. During
three months Pignatelli flung back the King of Hungary’s attacks upon
the town; until finally, despairing of taking Aversa by assault, the
Hungarian resolved to reduce it by starvation.

Gradually the circumstances of the little garrison became hopeless; so
that Pignatelli was confronted with the alternative of surrender or of
death either by starvation or in a last grapple with the besiegers. To
add to the general distress, a fleet of vessels bringing reinforcements
to Queen Joan from Provence under the leadership of Renaud des
Baux—some relation this, I fancy, of that terrible Chief Justice,
the Count of Monte Scaglioso—and upon the timely arrival of which all
depended, was delayed by contrary winds so that none could say where it
was or whether it would ever arrive at all.

Under these circumstances, Louis of Taranto, abhorring the thought of
allowing the brave Pignatelli and his soldiers to sacrifice themselves
to no purpose (seeing that the ultimate surrender of Aversa was
inevitable), sent a message to the King of Hungary inviting him to
a personal encounter, in the same spirit in which the Emperor Paul
Petrovitch sent a similar challenge to King George III of England.
Louis of Taranto’s proposal to the Hungarian was simplicity itself:
that he of them who should kill the other should be King of Naples and
of Jerusalem. To this the King of Hungary consented, with the advice
of his counsellors, stipulating only that the combat should take place
in the presence of the Emperor of Germany, as Cæsar and sovereign lord
of all the princes of the West; or of the King of England, as a friend
of both parties; or of the Patriarch of Aquileia, whose pretensions
to equality with the Pope the Hungarian appears to have been by way of
encouraging in revenge for Clement VI’s decision in favour of Joan.

These proposals, however, came to naught, for in the meanwhile Aversa
surrendered to the Hungarians; so that there was no longer any call for
him to risk his life for nothing. He had only to close in upon Naples,
and the doomed city must at once fall into his hands; it was not more
than twelve miles from Aversa to the capital and the Hungarian advance
guard under Lupi was soon visible to the Neapolitans at the Porta
Capuana; for it was easier for them, being mounted troops, to approach
the city from the direction of Poggia than from that of Capodimonte,
the more direct but more hilly road to Aversa.

Providentially, it was at this moment that the ships of Renaud des Baux
hove in sight of Naples and speedily came to anchor in the port. Now
it chanced that Maria of Durazzo with her two children had taken refuge
from a possible sack of the city by the Hungarians in the Castel dell’
Uovo, that, as the reader will remember, stands upon a rock surrounded
on three sides by the sea and connected with the mainland by a causeway
on arches. Both John and Louis, being occupied in the town itself at
the time of the fleet’s arrival, and supposing that Maria had already
preceded them on board the flagship, remained at their posts until
the last, encouraging their people and exhorting them to hold firm
against the foe. But the Neapolitans, preferring surrender to possible
annihilation, sent out a deputation to the King of Hungary to beg for
terms; to the great anger and sorrow of their rightful sovereigns,
who only now, when all seemed over, reluctantly sought the shelter of
Des Baux’s vessels, off the Castello dell’ Uovo. Here, being now much
pressed for time, they embarked on the nearest of the ships and, still
in the belief that the Duchess of Durazzo was safe on board that of the
Admiral, they gave the signal to depart and sailed out of the harbour
followed, as they imagined, by the rest of the fleet; for it was now
drawing on to night, and too dark for them to see clearly what was
taking place in rear of them.

Not until they reached Gaeta, towards noon of the following day, after
fighting their way through a dreadful storm, did they realise that the
Admiral’s ship with the Queen’s sister on board was not with the rest
of the squadron that now came toiling, ship by ship, at long intervals
into the harbour. What had happened to it? Had it sunk or been flung
ashore by the waves during the night at some lonely spot upon that
inhospitable coast? This was the agonising question that Joan asked of
herself and of Louis and of all about them. And none could answer her.

Suddenly, as all hope of her ever again holding her sister in her arms
seemed to be on the point of vanishing from before Joan’s eyes, a cry
of joy broke from her where she was leaning upon the gunwale of the
vessel, her gaze fixed upon the sea and the cloud-scuds to southward.
Hastening to her side, Louis saw that a ship in difficulties, a
considerable distance from them, was being driven, in spite of
persistent “tacking,” towards them in the harbour of Gaeta. Thinking
it must be the Admiral, Louis hoisted signals to him, that he should
join them; but, to his amazement, no attention was at first paid to his
signals; by which I mean to say that Louis had flown the Royal Standard
and that the other only continued the more desperately to endeavour to
keep out to sea.

Of a sudden, though, the newcomer’s sails were seen to collapse and
fall to the deck; and, judging from the way in which she was tossed
and rolled about by the waves, albeit without changing her position,
the watchers could see that she had cast anchor. Without further delay,
Louis, in order to put an end to Joan’s suspense, ordered a boat to be
lowered and, together with several of his comrades-in-arms, sprang into
it and was rowed out—not without considerable difficulty—to the vessel
in the offing.

On drawing alongside, their feelings may more easily be imagined than
described at hearing the cries of a woman in distress come to them
from out the creaking, storm-tossed galley which was unquestionably
that of Des Baux. Moreover, the deck was crowded with sailors, who now
called to them to come quickly. Clambering over the side by means of a
rope-ladder thrown down by the crew, Louis of Taranto and his comrades
rushed towards the Admiral’s quarters at the poop end of the deck, to
find his cabin shut and barred, the while the voice of Maria of Durazzo
called to them from within, with redoubled energy, to come to her
assistance. In an instant they had broken down the door and, surging
into the roomy cabin, found themselves in the presence of Maria and
of the Admiral, who was endeavouring to stifle her cries and to push
her, with the help of his son, Robert des Baux, into a cupboard of the

Without a moment’s hesitation, Louis of Taranto smote the Admiral with
his sword, so that he fell dead, whilst Maria sank on to a couch, her
face in her hands to shut out the sight of the killing. But, having
slain the Admiral, Louis was content and ordered Robert des Baux to be
merely put in irons and taken with them back to the other vessel, where
Queen Joan was waiting so feverishly to learn if her sister were alive
and on board or not. And when Maria at last rejoined the Queen she told
her how, having once taken her away from the Castel dell’ Uovo on his
flagship, the Admiral, instead of sailing in the wake of the rest of
the fleet, had shaped his course for Marseilles; how he had tried to
compel her to marry his son, and how at length the sailors, learning of
it, and angered at his attempt to make the coast of France instead of
following the Queen, had broken into mutiny on coming within sight of
the ships at Gaeta.

It would seem that the younger Des Baux was less to blame in the affair
than his father. At any rate, there is no evidence to show that he
shared the latter’s fate; although this may well have been owing to
the fact that, soon after Louis of Taranto’s return with her sister
to the Queen, news was brought to them from Naples of a sudden change
in the situation there. It appeared that, soon after the departure
of the Queen and her husband from the city, the answer of the King
of Hungary to the deputies sent out to surrender the city to him was
received and made known to the inhabitants. But of such a nature was
it, so atrociously haughty and so sinister withal, that, rather than
submit themselves to so despotic and so resentful a Prince, the unhappy
Neapolitans declared their intention of dying with arms in their hands
in the defence of their families and their homes. No sooner did the
Hungarians learn of this resolve than a desperate attack was delivered
by them upon the Porta Capuana, which they succeeded in penetrating,
and compelled the defenders to fall back towards the harbour and the
fortresses in the southern quarter of the city.

As the Hungarians were, however, advancing through the black, deserted
streets upon the Castel Nuovo in the hope of capturing at least a
portion of the royal family, the amazing rashness of their venturing
thus under cover of night into the midst of an hostile, well-armed, and
well-barricaded populace suddenly became patent to the Neapolitans;
as well as the extreme exhaustion of the Hungarian men and horses.
No sooner had the Neapolitans recognised their opportunity than they
seized it, flinging themselves upon their enemies, whom they now beat
back to the Porta Capuana and out through it into the country beyond,
amidst great slaughter and an indescribable confusion, taking no
prisoners but killing all who fell into their hands.

This was practically the end of that war of the Hungarians against
Queen Joan and Louis of Taranto, after whom messengers were despatched
that night to Gaeta, asking them to return and to lead their subjects
once more against the foreigners, who, said the message, had been
beaten back from Naples and were in full retreat upon their former
eastern base about Benevento. Soon after the return to Naples of Joan
and Louis, however, a truce for twelve months was arranged between
them and the Hungarian, who was now more willing to listen to reason
than he had been before; so that when the Pope was invited by Joan to
mediate between them, he welcomed the suggestion thankfully enough.
Pope Clement’s first proposal, though, that Joan should make the King
of Hungary the heir to her crown, and so put her sister Maria out of
the succession, Joan refused even to contemplate; and then the Pope
suggested that she should pay a lump sum in cash to the King of Hungary
as ransom for all the fortresses that he still held in his hands in the
Kingdom of Naples; in return for which he was to abandon all further
claims upon and to the Crown.

To this Joan agreed willingly; but, when the proposal was made known to
the King of Hungary, he said: “It is not for money or lands that I have
fought, but for vengeance on my brother’s murderers. But now my work
is done; the angry shades are satisfied, and I am going back to my own
country.” Nor would he accept so much as a single piece of money for
all the strong places and the power that were still his in the Kingdom
of Naples; but gave all over, undefiled by money, to Joan, and then
departed as he had come, triumphant and unapproachable.

After Louis of Hungary had gone away, there came a legate from the
Pope to crown Louis of Taranto as King of Naples and to solemnly ratify
once more his marriage with the Queen. All of which was carried out on
May 25, 1351, and the next three days, with an accompaniment of much
feasting and tourneys; also a general amnesty was issued to all who had
in any way taken part against their lawful sovereigns in the late wars.
The ecclesiastical ceremonies took place in the Chapel of Justice built
by Charles II, to which Joan afterwards added the Church called “Chiesa
dell’ Incoronata,” in memory of her wedding to Louis of Taranto. Among
the frescoes in the Church are portraits of Joan and of Louis and
of the infant son of the Duke of Calabria, all painted by Roberto di
Oderisio or, as some say, by his master, the great Giotto himself. It
is recorded that the festivities passed off to the satisfaction of all
and were only marred by a single untoward event. For it happened that,
as King Louis was riding back from his coronation beside the Queen,
and was passing through the Porta Petruccia towards the Castel Nuovo,
a party of ladies threw down upon him an immense quantity of flowers,
making his horse rear up and break the rein. To save himself, lest it
should fall and crush him, the King sprang out of the saddle; but in
doing so he loosened the crown so that it fell from his head into the
roadway and was broken into three pieces. And that same day there fell
sick and died his infant daughter by Joan. However, the King forbade
that the festivities should be spoiled by mourning; and so they were
carried to their conclusion. And in memory of his coronation King Louis
instituted the Order of the Knot.

The short rest of his life, though, was full of wars and disquiet and
disillusionment, for he was constantly employed in repressing rebellion
and in checking the independent tendencies of his barons. Among the
most formidable of the disturbers of his peace was Louis of Durazzo,
brother of that evil Charles who had perished by order of the King of
Hungary at Aversa. Louis of Durazzo was defeated, however, and ended
his days in the Castello dell’ Uovo. But he left behind him a son,
Charles, whose life was spared in answer to the pleading of Joan, who
took charge of him and loaded him with kindnesses and married him to
her niece, Margaret, the daughter of Maria of Durazzo and of that other

Worn out by incessant campaigning, King Louis fell victim to a malarial
fever on June 5, 1362, in the forty-third year of his age.

Soon afterwards Joan married James of Aragon, King of Minorca, who
had first fallen in love with her at Avignon, where the history of his
fortunes and adventures, combined with the melancholy handsomeness of
him, had made a deep impression both upon Joan and upon her sister. For
James of Aragon had spent no less than thirteen years of his life as a
prisoner in an iron cage, and was even said to have been reduced to the
necessity of begging his bread. No sooner was he married to Joan than
he devoted himself to making war upon Pedro the Cruel, the usurper of
his throne, and died near Navarre, in 1375.

After King James’ demise, Joan married again, as her fourth husband,
Duke Otho of Brunswick; by now, having no children alive of her
own, she adopted as her successor Charles of Durazzo, her nephew by
marriage, whose life she had saved.

During the next few years Joan, as the result of a quarrel with Pope
Urban VI (who as Bartolomeo Prignani had been formerly one of her
own subjects), gave her support to the anti-Pope, Clement VII, whom
she sheltered in the Castello dell’ Uovo. For this she was promptly
excommunicated, being at the same time declared deposed from the
throne, whilst her subjects were formally relieved of their allegiance
to her. The Crown of Naples was bestowed by the Holy Father upon
Charles of Durazzo, whom Joan had already proclaimed her successor
and who now showed his gratitude in the following remarkable manner:
Hastily borrowing an army from his great uncle, old King Louis of
Hungary, who was still alive, Charles set out for Naples, where his
wife and their two children were even then living as honoured guests
and relatives under Joan’s roof. So soon as she learned of this, Joan
sent word to Louis of Anjou, brother of the King of France, to say that
she appointed him her successor instead of Charles and begging him to
come to her aid against the latter.

On the approach of Charles’ army, Joan sent out his wife and children
to plead with him that he would treat her generously; but, instead of
doing so, Charles laid siege to Joan in the Castel Nuovo; her husband,
Duke Otho, he had blockaded behind him in the castle of Aversa. At
length, though, the German fought his way through the containing force
before Aversa and fell upon Charles of Durazzo’s flank and rear guard
by way of Piedigrotta. Long the unequal combat raged, but at last when
Otho himself, after being wounded and having broken his sword, and,
thanks to his leading his men and becoming separated from them in the
midst of the enemy, had been taken prisoner, the little remnant of his
followers, surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, had no choice but to
surrender. Whereupon, Charles of Durazzo redoubled his efforts against
the Castel Nuovo and, shortly afterwards, succeeded in taking it; after
which he wrote to the King of Hungary to say that the Queen of Naples
was his prisoner and asking that monarch’s good pleasure in regard to

Some months now passed, during which Otho of Brunswick, on promising
to quit Neapolitan territory for ever, was given his liberty; and
the French army of Louis of Anjou compelled to abandon its march upon
Naples. At the end of that time an answer was received from the King
of Hungary, commanding that Joan should be put to death as a last
propitiatory sacrifice to his murdered brother.

Since the taking of Naples the Queen had been sent for safekeeping to
the castle of Muro in Calabria.

On the 5th of May, 1385, as she was praying in her room there, that
looked out over the ravine and the town below, the door was opened very
stealthily, so that the Queen thought it was one of her maids and did
not turn her head to look at the intruder. Nor did she ever, in all
probability, see who it was that had entered; for, in the same moment,
a cord was slipped over her head and swiftly drawn tight about her
throat as only a man of strong hands could draw it; so that she died
instantly, her unfinished prayer upon her lips. And the four Hungarian
soldiers, who had seen her die, left her lying there and went away
quietly to report to their commanding officer that the thing was done
as it had been ordered. And the cord with which they had done it was
the same with which Andrew of Hungary had been strangled at Aversa; so,
at least, it is said.



  Beauty of Naples—Figures of Its History—St. Januarius—Murat,
  King of Naples—Achievements as King—The Carbonari—England’s
  Promises—Napoleonic Diplomacy—Rise of the Bourbons—Alliance
  with Austria—Murat’s Indecision—Distrust of the Allies—Murat’s
  Statesmanship—Talleyrand’s Diplomacy—Naples, the Gay—Conspiracy
  in the Palace—The Escape from Elba—Ideal Government—War Against
  Murat—Advance of the Austrians—Murat Driven to Naples—Interview
  with His Wife—Last Instructions to His Ministers—Escape.

The fairest and, in some respects, the wickedest spot on the face of
the earth is that wonder city, that broods by the “tideless, dolorous,
midland sea,” Vesuvius, smoking like some monstrous chimney of hell
behind her, the deep blue, translucent glory of the sea like a drift of
Our Blessed Lady’s mantle before.

Travelling round that bay and on around the point towards Calabria,
hardly a dreamy mile goes by that some of the history of thousands of
years ago does not present itself.

It has been the home of saints and of scholars; of soldiers a few, of
statesmen a-many, of some of the most beautiful characters that ever
walked the earth, and of some of the very worst that ever polluted the
world with their presence. At the top of the list stands St. Januarius,
Bishop of Benevento, who with six of his companions came to Naples
during the ninth persecution to comfort and strengthen the Faithful,
and who being seized with his companions was taken to Pozzuoli, and
there flung to the wild beasts; who, when they refused to harm him, was
plunged into a blazing furnace, out of which he came intact, and was
thereafter beheaded; but who stands at the bottom, I should be afraid
to say. At this point there is an “embarras de richesses!”

Of all the landmarks of history with which the Kingdom of Naples is
dotted none, perhaps, is more rich in Romance or more imbued with the
spirit of Tragedy than a certain straggling, half-ruined castle near
the little village of Pizzo, upon the coast of Calabria.

A round tower, grey and sullen with age, faces the sea; in the wall of
it is set a small, heavily barred window, through which one of the very
few comparatively good Kings of Naples looked his last upon a world
which had seen him rise from a peasant to a monarch.

There is neither space nor need to recapitulate here the life of
Murat. Italy, Russia, Germany, Austria, Egypt had felt the tread of his
all-shattering squadrons, whose onset no horse or foot of continental
Europe had ever been able to withstand. The Dictator of Europe had
given him his sister for a wife. Naples had been proud to own him for
her King. Glory, wealth, splendour had been his, and he could have kept
them—I think it is safe to say that he could have kept them—had he been
able to stand firm. But he had not the strength, even when he joined
the Coalition in 1814. While he was still fighting Eugène, he could
not resist the temptation to intrigue with the Viceroy, who of course
instantly saw to it that the Allies were notified of the fact. In those
stormy days nobody trusted his neighbour, nor did any one blame his
neighbour particularly for trying to keep his political balance in any
way that he could; so that Murat’s—inconsistency, let us call it—was
not held against him afterwards. The Bourbons were not popular, either,
and Ferdinand, that perfect product of the hapless, helpless race, was
generally detested. It must be said for the Bourbons that their sins
are, as a rule, of the negative sort, and cruelty is not one of them.
Ferdinand, however, besides being a spineless king, was a brute and a
coward, which again are not Bourbon traits.

Joachim Murat’s position was always a difficult one, to be sure.
Although King of Naples, he was in Napoleon’s time only a king at
his imperial brother-in-law’s pleasure, and regarded by the latter as
little more than a proconsul, elevated to a throne in order to carry
out his master’s wishes. At the same time he was conscientious enough
to attempt the task of being a real king—and a good one. He loved the
“flair” of kingship, but he did recognise some of his responsibilities
towards his subjects and continued, while Napoleon’s back was turned,
to govern fairly well. The Neapolitans loved show and noise and
ceremony, and they liked the handsome, dashing, open-handed cavalryman.
The country was rich, too. In those days, even if the peasants lived
like cattle, at least they had plenty to eat and drink, and even now
those times are spoken of as a bankrupt speaks of the fat years behind

“Era una schiuma d’oro” (It was a froth of gold), said one old man to
me, some years ago, “before this government of robbers took possession
of it!”

Of all Napoleon’s kinglings, Bernadotte alone contrived to keep his
crown, and that may very well have been because Napoleon did not choose
him, but only acceded to the popular demand when he let him reign.

Murat came to the throne of the Two Sicilies in 1808, when poor unlucky
Joseph was compelled, much against his will, to go to Spain. Joachim
was not always popular; indeed, that would have been impossible, in
the condition of things which prevailed in 1810 and 1811. He could
not always be on the spot, and in his absence he had to trust to
his government. This being made up of Neapolitans—both Liberal and
otherwise—and of the Frenchmen who had come in with him, did not trust
itself, and the King’s authority came to be decentralised beyond all
control from the throne. His life was conspired against several times.
Once in particular a plot was hatched to assassinate him while he was
hunting in the woods of Mondragone, but one of the conspirators turned
king’s evidence and the plotters were caught. When they were brought to
trial, and their guilt was proved, their advocate was making the best
he could of a bad job, when the presiding judge stopped the proceedings
to read aloud a paper which he had just received from the King.

“I had hoped,” it said, “that those accused of conspiring against my
person might have been proved innocent; but I have heard with regret
that the Solicitor-General has demanded a heavy punishment against
them all. Their guilt may perhaps be real, but I am desirous of still
preserving a ray of hope that they may be innocent, and I hasten to
stop the decision of the Tribunal and to pardon the accused. I order
that upon receipt of this paper the trial be closed and the unhappy men
set at liberty. As the trial concerns a foolish attempt upon my life,
and the sentence is not yet pronounced, I do not offend against the law
of the State, if without having received a recommendation to mercy I
thus use the highest and best prerogative of the Crown.”

Murat set many public works on foot, notably during 1812. Roads
and bridges and theatres were built, marshes drained and aqueducts
constructed, the most noteworthy of which achievements were the Strada
di Posilippo, the Campo di Marte, the observatory on the height of
Miradone, and a lunatic asylum. This latter caused a good deal of
surprise as well, for lunatics were not generally coddled in that
fashion in the Naples of 1812.

In the middle of all this activity, Murat was recalled to Paris, and
it was only after many months and many experiences that he set eyes
upon his kingdom again. Had his advice, which was to halt the 1812
campaign at Smolensk and establish a settled government in Poland, been
followed, it is possible and more than possible that the disastrous
affair would have had a different termination, for Napoleon could have
kept his communications open; but the Emperor, at that time, suspected
Murat and Ney and Rapp, believing that a weariness of war and a desire
to reap some of the fruits of their labour was at the bottom of the
really excellent counsel that they offered him. And so he pushed on to
Moscow, partly from impatience, partly to satisfy the gnawing appetite
of the “folie de grandeurs” which had hold of him, partly because he
did not trust his own men. “Ours is not an army of position,” he said.
“It is an army of attack—not of defence.”

Murat’s conduct during the campaign was such as to extract an unwilling
praise even from the Emperor, who was no believer in praise as an agent
for anything but the rank and file. Only when Murat left the wreck of
the army, the command of which Napoleon had entrusted to him, on the
Oder, did the quarrel which the war had drugged into a false quiet
break out again.

Napoleon, on hearing of Joachim’s return to his kingdom, wrote a
frightful letter to Caroline, and this falling into her husband’s
hands drew from him a reply which threatened to break up the relations
between the two for all time, and it was only Caroline’s self-control
and tact that healed the breach for the time being.

A common danger and the ties of their old comradeship drew them
together again when Murat arrived in Bohemia, and then he fought
stoutly and well. It is hardly credible and, were it not history, it
would be absolutely inconceivable, that, while battling whole-heartedly
for the French in Bohemia, Murat was engaged, through his government,
in an attempt to unify Italy by the assistance of Great Britain, which
was to supply twenty-five thousand men, who, with his own troops and
the disaffected Italians in the ranks of the French garrisons, were to
drive the Tricolour over the Alps. He contrived to persuade himself
that he was honest in his intentions, too, by a process of reasoning
peculiar to several of the Emperor’s lieutenants in those times. As
Frenchmen they marched with the armies of France, and served her to the
best of their splendid ability; as kings and grand dukes, they served
their subjects, or thought they did, with equal enthusiasm. Bentinck,
however, being an Englishman, failed to understand the presence of
their separate political entities in one person, and withdrew, so
that the unification of Italy, fortunately, one cannot but think, fell
through, and Joachim returned to Naples in 1813.

It was then that the society, known as the Carbonari, who had appeared
in the kingdom three years before, began to spread themselves in all
classes of society, conspiring in the sweet Italian fashion, which
conspires for the sake of the pure delight of intriguing. They had
no definite aim. Their professed “raison d’être” was a vague dream of
a vague constitution, “à l’Anglaise.” In such hands, of course, this
would have been about as fruitful of any real liberty as the Commune,
and none knew this better than Lord William Bentinck; but any stone
will do to throw at the Devil, and Lord William hastened to communicate
with the liberty-loving thieves, murderers, and brigands who
represented the society of Naples. There were, to be sure, some honest
men among them, whose hearts were stronger than their heads. There
always are a few in these affairs, enticed in by flattery and utterly
uninformed as to the real object of their associates, who are pushed to
the front for the public to see.

Among these was a certain young gentleman, a man of fortune and
courage—a captain of militia in his own town, which stood upon the
summit of a high and precipitous mountain. His name was Capobianco
(white-head) and, at the time when he came to the notice of the
authorities, they had discovered the trafficking of the society with
Lord William, who had been sending across volumes containing the
new Sicilian laws which had been enacted in that island, under the
Bourbons, or, to speak more accurately, had been forced upon the
Bourbons by Lord William, under pain of being left to look after
themselves and being compelled to fight for their own possessions.
The conspirators must have been a simple-minded people, if they really
believed that Ferdinand had promulgated anything of the kind without

Lord William promised the Neapolitans a similar code, if they would
only restore Ferdinand—Lord William was always rather free with his
promises—and the Government of Naples, finding the horrid thing in
their midst, proscribed the society and threatened with most dreadful
punishments any one who mentioned the word constitution. Whereupon the
Carbonari dropped down into Calabria and proceeded to shout it aloud,
among them young Capobianco.

As it has been said, his town was practically inaccessible, so
that, despairing of his capture, General Janelli made a pretence
of refusing to believe in his association with the Carbonari; after
several ineffectual efforts to entrap him (for Capobianco had a native
mistrust of authority under any guise save that of the Church), he one
day invited him to dinner upon the occasion of a public festival in
Cosenza. Capobianco hesitated, but finally made up his mind to attend,
feeling that he would be safe if he took unfrequented byways and
surrounded himself with a dependable escort.

He would feel safe, he told himself, in Cosenza, for he intended to
arrive when the banquet should be already begun and leave before it was
over, and, in the house of the General, he would be in the company of
all of the authorities of the province, whose presence he seems to have
conceived to be a safeguard, for some reason or another.

So he went and was royally entertained. Healths were drunk, compliments
were exchanged, and Capobianco proposed to depart, followed by the
salutations of the General. He got no further than the ante-room,
though, where the gendarmes were waiting for him. They seized him and
dragged him off to prison, where the next morning he was tried by a
military commission, condemned, and publicly beheaded before mid-day in
the Square.

When this was bruited abroad, some of the “patriots” fled to Sicily
and the Bourbons, to breathe, as we are told, “the free atmosphere of
Sicily under the Bourbons!” and Joachim’s unpopularity began to assume
the proportions of a menace.

Still, however, the better elements were upon his side, perhaps
from expediency,—for Murat’s servants would receive short shrift at
Ferdinand’s hands should that monarch return,—but they gave Joachim
some very good advice among them, even if some of it is rather too
subtle. Napoleon’s hands were too full to allow of his interference,
and he, in his dealings with the Allies, invariably quoted fifty
thousand Neapolitan troops as part of his own force. The Allies knew
better, though. Two fatal defects in a ruler are over-craftiness and
inconsistency. Murat had both. At one time, as it has been seen, he
hastened to pardon those who had conspired against his life; a year
later he allowed his own resentment against the Carbonari to lead him
into an attempt to crush them by a severity which merely drove them
in on each other and made a solid body out of a straggling mob. Before
this, with an ideal the meaning of which very few of them understood,
the Carbonari—the leaders of the movement, that is to say—were fighting
the clouds; but the harrying they received gave them a definite
grievance and one that was shared, for purely personal reasons, by
thousands who would otherwise never have joined the movement at all.

The craftiness which Murat conceived to be policy delivered him into
the hands of men far cleverer than himself, whose life’s business it
was to overreach one another.

He was a brave man and a most excellent soldier, but those were not
qualities that could help him in the thimble-rigging, knife-in-the-boot
game of Napoleonic statecraft, played by men who had not an illusion
remaining about each other, and who, with the possible exception of
the Russians, had each and all betrayed their neighbours over and over

Murat, at Ollendorf upon the shores of Ulm, received several very
polite and pressing invitations to an alliance from the Austrian
Commissioner, Count von Mier, and he had listened to them, as one
of his contemporaries says, without disdain. Wishing, though, to get
an idea of what his own people might think of such a suggestion, he
consulted two or three of his ministers and generals on the subject.
The result did not help him much, for they all held different opinions.
One held that France’s welfare was that of Naples, and that with
the return of the Bourbons to Paris everything that the Revolution
and the Empire had done for Italy would he wiped out; another, that
Murat’s duty was to establish himself firmly and hold fast to his
throne, whatever might happen to his own people and the Emperor. Upon
one point they were all agreed and that was that Murat’s first and
most imperative duty was to so order his relations with the Powers
as to exclude any possible chance of Ferdinand’s return; it was as to
the best way of attaining that desired condition of things that they

“The old and the new era,” said one, advocating the continuance of the
existing alliance with France, “are at war with one another, and the
victory cannot for the present be assigned to any particular state or
people. Should the new triumph, all the social institutions of Europe
will, in twenty years’ time, be established upon the basis of the Civil
polity introduced by the French; but, if the old, all progress will be
arrested and the new States be thrown back towards the hated condition
of the past.”

He goes on to remark upon the reliance to be placed upon the word of
the Kings then struggling against Napoleon, “for, if kings promise
to-day, they will break their words to-morrow.”

The other finishes his address, in which he advises Murat to let France
bleed to death by herself, thus:

“Above all, I beseech you not to be caught by false glory, but to
believe that there is only one way to preserve your reputation, which
is to preserve your Throne!” The military element seems to have been
of the same opinion as number two, but Joachim wavered—as well he
might, for both parties to the discussion were right. Even if he joined
himself to the Allies, it was quite likely that his throne would
be taken from him at the first convenient moment. The Bourbons were
everywhere, and Spain, Italy, Austria, and presently France, would
be filled with them. Their clamour would rise in a hurricane, and
what could those who professed to hold their own crowns as gifts from
the Almighty say in answer to them? If the Emperor of Austria ruled
by Divine Right, he must believe that Ferdinand did the same. If the
Divine Right could be disregarded in one case, it could be disregarded
in all, and there were plenty of evilly disposed persons who desired
nothing better. It would be a weapon in their hands, and they had
plenty of weapons already.

In spite of this, and in the face of it, Francis of Austria, by a
treaty concluded on the 11th of January, 1814, acknowledged Joachim’s
dominion and sovereignty over the States he ruled, and Joachim, as a
matter of form, returned the compliment.

Thus Naples was definitely placed in the ranks of France’s enemies,
Austria agreeing to furnish thirty thousand men for Italy and Naples
thirty thousand, the allied forces to be under the command of the King
of Naples, or, in his absence, of the officer highest in rank in the
Austrian army.

This, together with a promise that Francis would use his good offices
to bring about a reconciliation between Naples and England, as well as
with Austria’s allies, was the published treaty, but there were several
secret clauses, some of which seem to indicate a lack of humour in the
high contracting parties.

Francis, having acknowledged Joachim’s sovereignty, pledged himself to
obtain the renunciation of it from Ferdinand (as though the consent
of that individual made any difference to anybody!), while Joachim
promised, on his part, to indemnify Ferdinand, thereby acknowledging
that his own claim was that of _force majeure_ and nothing else; and
yet the principle of Ferdinand’s Divine Right was never called into
question! But at the same time Murat was in correspondence with General
Miollis, commanding the French troops in Rome, and with Barbou and
Fouché, assuring them of his devotion and attachment to France, and
endeavouring to explain away his treaty with Francis on the ground of
political necessity!

Miollis withdrew into Sant’ Angelo, and the Neapolitan troops forced
the little body of French under Lascolette to shut themselves up in
the citadel of Civita Vecchia. But now, after having inaugurated his
campaign, Murat’s indecision prevented him from giving any definite
orders, and his generals instantly began to suspect him of playing them

Proceeding into the States of Rome, he found anarchy prevailing in
every direction, and, already torn with conflicting emotions, he found
himself the target of generals, magistrates, and Austrian ministers,
who maintained that he had not acted up to his part of the treaty.

That roused him, and he woke up from his lethargy long enough to start
the Neapolitan troops forward and to settle the civil administration
a little. A good many Frenchmen still remained in the Neapolitan army
and, in order to retain them, and have some company in his matricidal
course, he assured them that the treaty was a feint and that he was
working heart and soul for his beloved country. But he so entangled
himself with lies that he presently found it difficult to move in
any direction without finding the net of them about his feet. The
Neapolitans disliked and distrusted the French, because they saw in
them a drag upon Joachim’s wheel. The French despised the Neapolitans
and presently departed, seeing clearly whither they were being led.
Since the only officers of any value in the Neapolitan army were these
Frenchmen, Murat was now compelled to rely upon the Germans—that is to
say, the very men he had fought against in the preceding year.

The French were not in sufficient numbers to offer any real resistance
and it was not long before Civita Vecchia, Sant’ Angelo, Florence,
Leghorn, Ferrara, and Ancona were in Murat’s hands.

Bentinck presently landed at Leghorn with fourteen thousand
Anglo-Sicilians, and Eugène, the Viceroy, found himself with fifty
thousand men opposed to forty-five thousand Austrians, twenty thousand
Neapolitans, eight thousand Germans under Murat and Bentinck’s

Of course Murat mistrusted his allies, and the allies returned the
compliment with interest. He had no very high opinion of them as
soldiers, either, in which he was justified. Bellegarde carried his
suspicion so far as to refuse to build a bridge or two over the Po,
lest Murat might use them against him, and Murat became convinced that
Bellegarde and Bentinck wanted to make him attack the Viceroy in order
to injure his troops and his reputation, for what were thirty thousand
Neapolitans in the scale against fifty thousand Frenchmen commanded by
good officers and in the hands of such generals as Eugène had on his
staff? He discovered, too, that Bentinck, who had landed as his ally,
was permitting his Sicilians to distribute pamphlet copies of an edict
of Ferdinand’s, reminding the Neapolitans of his rights and exciting
them to rise against Joachim. Bentinck was not a very clever man, and
here he showed himself to be a fool. He had already given the Duke of
Wellington a good deal of trouble by ruining the Duke’s market for
specie in Spain, offering a higher price for it than the Duke could
afford to give, and by various other ill-judged and ill-timed schemes;
now, having Joachim on his side—the one man among them all who could
lead an army—he deliberately attempted to ruin his influence in the
moment of action, by turning his own men against him, and by siding
with Bellegarde in every question of military policy, wherein neither
of them were really worthy to be allowed to carry out his, Joachim’s,

From the Austrian monarch, Murat might have expected that sort of
thing, for Austria had at one time and another during the last twenty
years broken her word to about everybody with whom she had had any
dealings. Metternich boasted of it openly, and, had Murat been gifted
with a little more political foresight, he might have felt even then
the hands that were pulling him down.

It may be said that he hoped for Napoleon’s triumph in the latter’s
Homeric fight, nor could he be blamed where all the circumstances are
considered. “In every transaction,” says one of his staff, “whether
emanating from the rulers of kingdoms or the commanders of the armies
that were sitting about in Italy, some perfidy transpired or lay

The only people who were really happy at this time were the
Neapolitans, who, with the English markets opened, began to prosper
after the long, lean years, and held their heads high now that their
King and their armies had been, as they thought, distinguishing
themselves. Poor Joachim now received a petition from his generals,
published with the approval of the whole army, begging him to summon
a council of war and hear their “opinions”! It is a wonder that the
veteran of a hundred pitched battles did not hang somebody for the
impertinence, for from any point of view it is difficult to understand
what they expected of him in the way of action. But he let the incident

Now the Pope, who had been released by Napoleon, approached the Papal
Dominions and reached Tara before Joachim, who was in Bologna, was
aware of the fact. Joachim, who had a good part of the Papal States in
his possession and hoped for more—since Francis of Austria had promised
him his assistance in the matter,—sought by every means to avert the
Holy Father’s onward progress from Reggio; but he had a stronger man
than himself to deal with, and one who had at his back the enthusiasm
of a people. Murat’s own officers helped to draw the Papal carriage in
one place, and his men broke their ranks, falling over one another for
the privilege of being allowed to approach the returning exile.

In spite of all that Joachim’s envoy, General Carrascosa, could do,
Pius’ determination to proceed was unaffected, and the general returned
to his master, begging him for his own sake to give way before the
popular enthusiasm, which every day was increasing. Murat, however,
decided upon a middle course. He would render to the Pope all the
honour in his power, but he would give him no assistance.

At Bologna, the Pope called upon Murat, and, though alone and helpless
in the face of his opponent’s armed strength, extracted from him the
return of the Patrimony of Peter to the Church. Pius did not relinquish
his claim to the rest of the Papal Possessions, either, and continued
on his way to Cesena, his native place, by the Strada Emilia, among
his own subjects, although Murat, fearing the excited feeling among the
latter, wished him to go through Tuscany.

Murat’s power was toppling over, for, do what he might, his interests
were the interests of the France that he was fighting. But what could
he do? It would take a clever man to find his way safely out of such
an impasse as confronted Joachim. Could he have remained neutral, it
is possible that he might have survived the hurricane, but that was
almost impossible, cut off as he was from France and encircled by the
Allies. Besides, the quarrel with England had brought such misery to
his subjects that this condition alone was reason enough for attempting
the impossible. Napoleon was battling with his back to the wall, and,
even though he fought as man never fought before or since, the tide was
engulfing him. His own ministers were carrying on secret correspondence
with the enemy, and preparing their own salvation, careless either of
their duty or of their country’s humiliation.

When on the 15th of April, 1814, Murat received the news of the
capitulation of Paris and the abdication of the Emperor, he paled as he
read the despatch and betrayed great agitation and nervousness, and for
several days afterwards he was gloomy and unapproachable.

He repaired quietly to Bologna, and, while Italy went mad and raved in
its madness, while the Milanese murdered Prina and Eugène Beauharnais
took refuge with the King of Bavaria, he returned to Naples, where he
was received like a conqueror and was compelled to bow his appreciation
and render his thanks for a display, not one word or one smile of
which, as he well knew, was genuine. The people expected very naturally
that a new order of things would bring them a new government, and
Murat’s own suspicions were confirmed when the treaty of peace was
signed at Paris and the Congress of Vienna was summoned without any
mention of him at all. Legitimacy was now the rage, and Joachim, though
without an invitation, despatched the Duke di Campochiaro and Prince de
Cariati as his representatives to Vienna. That done, he turned to his
kingdom and, taking time by the forelock, he summoned the most able men
of the country to him and set them to work upon the land, the finances,
and the army, only warning them not to follow too hard after the latest
fashion or to “run backwards blindfold.”

At the same time, on his own account, he lightened the heaviest of
the taxes, brought in measures for the encouragement of trade with
England, and permitted the free export of grain. Then he decreed that
the offices of State were to be given only to Neapolitans, and that
foreigners holding them who refused to be naturalised must resign,
after which he sat down to wait upon events.

By these measures he contrived to win over a large part of the people,
and, by degrees, the old Murat began to emerge from his hiding-place in
the personality of the new. His Council had agreed with him in almost
every question of importance, and the counsels which he received,
while suggesting a constitution, were really sincere in their hopes
for the maintenance of his dynasty. His army, which he had had time to
put into shape again, was with him; the newspapers were obsequious in
their praises of his virtues; and all the corporate bodies in the State
announced their readiness to pledge their lives and property in his

The Congress of Vienna began to pay some attention to these signs of
popular approval and it was noised abroad that the Emperor of Russia
had let fall the remark that “it was impossible to restore the ‘Butcher
King’ now that the interests of the people had to be considered.” Then
Caroline of Austria, Ferdinand’s wife, died suddenly, and so little was
her decease lamented that Francis forbade the Court to go into mourning
for her.

It may well be imagined that Joachim began to feel safe on his throne,
and the fact that, by an agreement concluded at Charmont some little
time before the fall of Napoleon, Austria, Russia, Prussia, and England
had confirmed the principles of the alliance between Austria and Murat,
helped him to hope that, after all and in spite of everything, he might
be allowed to remain. He had not reckoned, though, with Talleyrand,
whose desire it was, just then, to show himself as a reformed character
who was ready to do anything to prove his detestation of the fiend
whom he had been serving and of all the fiend’s family, which of course
included Joachim.

Talleyrand had besides a private grudge against Joachim, for the latter
had openly mistrusted him for years, and Napoleon’s parting remarks on
the subject of his late Minister for Foreign Affairs must still have
been tingling in that gentleman’s ears when he set out for Vienna.

“I should have hung him long ago,” said the Emperor. “I always knew
that he would be the first to betray me when the occasion offered

Talleyrand, who had arrived at the Congress as an apologist both for
France and himself, a man with no claims to consideration from anybody,
outside the pale of Christian intercourse as an excommunicate bishop
and an unfrocked priest, a creature at the sight of whom Francis
and his Catholic princes must have shuddered; without a friend—or a
case—bankrupt of power and credit, contrived by the sheer force of his
own genius to dominate the whole Congress after the first half-dozen

He set Austria and Russia by the ears, and heated up the quarrel
until there was every prospect of war; lined up their adherents and
pushed them into the conflict, and manœuvred so marvellously that,
in a very short while, France and her friendship were the objects
of the diplomacy of both contending parties. Metternich, Nesselrode,
Hardenberg, Castlereagh, Stewart, and Stackelberg were little more than
children in his hands. His confrères—Noailles, Dupin, and Dalberg—had
no voice in the questions that arose. Talleyrand was the Congress,
and when he began to use his power to pay off some of his grudges and
enmities, it was on Murat that his hand first fell. More Legitimist
than the Legitimists, he set out to earn the million francs promised
him by Ferdinand for the throne of Naples.

The first inkling that Murat received of the turn that affairs had
taken was a request, couched in the terms of a command, from Francis,
that he would restore the Marches to the Pope. Now the Marches in
question had been promised to Murat by Francis himself, not twelve
months before, and Murat in answer proceeded to increase his garrison
and commenced to strengthen the fortifications of Ancona. He, besides,
started a quarrel with the Pope, and despatched a minister of his
called Magella into the Marches to assist the Carbonari in their plots
against the dominion of the Holy Father.

It was about this time that he began to receive overtures, couched in
the most affectionate and brotherly language, from Napoleon at Elba. A
succession of disguised conspirators from Paris and other places passed
in and out of the Palace, in Naples, generally under cover of the
spring night, while the city disported itself along the waterfront, and
gay ladies and gay men sat over their cards in the great, cool rooms or
wandered about in the sleeping gardens.

For Naples was gay in those days. People saw light ahead after the
years of gloom. Hunger had vanished; real hunger, at any rate. The
King’s public works gave employment. Uniforms glittered everywhere. To
their minds, Naples was a Paris in miniature, so the lights shone and
the world danced and played on, music lay over the place in a rainbow
web of sound, and the blue sea smiled at the stars.

But up in the Palace, behind closed doors, Murat sat with his chin in
his hand, and his eyes wandering out to the sea from time to time, as
though he expected to see something there—something whose name was
never mentioned except between him and his wife, and then only in

By ones and twos the mysterious figures arrived, coming in through side
doors, and staying a while, talking with their hands to their mouths,
some volubly and eagerly, some gently and hesitatingly, but one thing
could be observed of all of them, and that was that, somewhere on their
persons, casually as a trifle but plain enough to eyes that looked for
it, was either a small bunch of violets or a strip of violet coloured
ribbon or a bit of violet coloured silk.

“Are you fond of the violet?” they would ask when they met. “It will
return in the spring,” was the answer—and it was spring already down
there. Spring breaks in February in Naples. The King was, outwardly,
as gay as any, and only Caroline and a very few devoted friends saw the
other side of him. The ambassadors of the Allies were watching him, as
he knew, and, as was bound to happen, word came to them that strange
visitors were being entertained at the Palace, among them Princess
Pauline, Napoleon’s sister, who shortly afterwards returned to Elba.

Ferdinand, free of his rather dreadful Austrian consort, proceeded to
espouse a certain Lucia Migliano, a lady, it is said, of noble birth
but of a vulgar and immoral character—which is probably true, for how
could any clean and self-respecting woman have ever been induced to
marry Ferdinand?

That monarch now swore to the constitution of 1812. He opened,
dissolved, and reopened a Parliament, and generally walked in the
popular path. Those happenings, naturally, reacted upon the Neapolitans
and helped to undermine Joachim’s position badly. The Carbonari broke
out again, soon afterwards, and Joachim began to be afraid lest these
popular spasms should come to the ears of the Congress and affect his
interests; so he attempted to arrange matters with the Carbonari, which
only went to their heads and made them more offensive than ever.

Things could not remain so for long, and there is no saying what might
have happened had not Napoleon discovered that the allied Powers had
not the slightest idea of living up to their word with him, that the
promised annuity—promised on the basis of the huge private fortune
which they had looted from him—was never going to be paid, and that
some one whom he had small difficulty in connecting with the Bourbon
Government in Paris was attempting to poison him.

On the evening of the 4th of March, 1815, Murat, with some of his
family, was amusing himself as best he could, attempting to divert his
mind from the problems and questions which had harassed him all day,
in his wife’s apartments, when there appeared in the doorway a bowing
attendant, begging the King and Queen Caroline to give an audience to
a messenger who was awaiting their pleasure in the next room. Murat
assented carelessly and told the attendant to bring him in, but the
former replied that the newcomer had particularly asked that the King
and Queen would give themselves the trouble to hear what he had to say,

By this time Murat had an inkling of the news which awaited him
and hurried out of the room, the Queen upon his arm. In the small
apartment, leading out of the gallery, they found Count Colonna, who
came forward out of the dark corner where he had been waiting and
presented his despatches.

It is a picture that stands out vividly in the imagination: The Count
studying Murat’s face as the latter reads the message, and glancing
from time to time at the Queen, trying to read something of her
husband’s mind in her face; Murat blinking in the half light over the
words, rejoicing in the news as he thinks of the manner in which the
Congress of Legitimacy has been treating him, but endeavouring to keep
his features composed and his pleasure out of his voice.

“That will spoil Metternich’s sleep for a while,” one can almost hear
him saying to himself. “And Talleyrand—how will he get out of this?
On guard, Messieurs! You will have to exercise something besides your
tongues now!”

Napoleon had escaped from Elba, and announced that he proposed to chase
the Bourbons out of France, and suggested an alliance, begging Murat at
the same time to place a battleship or a frigate at the disposition of
his, the Emperor’s, mother and sister.

Hurrying back to his guests, Murat divulged the news, and his cheer and
excitement were so obvious that some of them guessed then the course
which he would pursue.

The next morning Murat despatched special messengers to Vienna and
London, in which he assured the governments of Austria and Great
Britain that, whatever might be the result of Napoleon’s raid, he
himself would remain faithful to his treaty obligations.

Neither of his correspondents had the slightest belief in his
protestations, and Francis, without waiting, took steps to crush him if
he moved—or if he did not. But Murat’s health was high and the memories
of the golden years were like wine. He felt a real remorse for the
part which he had played, and the splendour of Napoleon’s lone-handed
assault upon a world in arms appealed to every soldier-like instinct in

He did not forget his own ambition, though, and he desired to make
himself so powerful that he could treat with either Austria or France
upon terms of something like equality. It was Italy that he wanted. The
great Powers would have their hands full now, and he hoped to be able
to surprise the Germans while the armies of Europe were engaged with
the Emperor.

Caroline, however, joined with his ministers and his Council in
opposition to war. Naples and Italy had had enough, and even in the
unlikely event of Murat’s correspondents in the North having been
accurate in their figures, or right in their appreciation of the
popular feeling, it was practically certain that, whether the victor in
the coming contest were to be the Emperor or the Allies, neither would
allow Murat to attack Italy and rule it undisturbed.

He assured his Council that Italy was ready to rise on either side of
the Po. He explained his mistrust of the Congress. He agreed that,
although it would be unsafe to diminish the army in the present
condition of Europe, yet Naples could not support the troops unless
fresh taxes were imposed; and that being out of the question, the only
alternative was to quarter them upon somebody else. He went on to point
out that political liberty was at the last gasp in Italy. But even that
battle-cry failed to arouse the enthusiasm of his audience. Political
liberty, as a theory upon which to speculate over a glass or two of
wine in the cool of the evening, was well enough, but political liberty
as a reason for draining the country of blood and money any longer was
quite another affair. The common people cared very little, if anything
at all, for it; what they wanted was food and drink, and a chance
to save a little money, and marry, and be happy. The taste survives
in Calabria to this day. They _like_ an overlord, they _like_ having
somebody over them who will order their ways and provide them with work
and see to their well-being, and knock their heads together when they
misbehave and pat them upon the back before their fellows when they
are good. It is, after all, the ideal form of Government. No other
approaches in efficiency to a beneficent and intelligent autocracy.
The main trouble is that very few autocracies have any intelligence.
I am sure I do not know why. Logically a man who has been trained to
rulership from the cradle should make a better ruler than the accident
of a convention; and on the whole, one may say, he does. The Emperor of
Germany, for instance, is a far better ruler than either Mr. Roosevelt,
Mr. Taft, or Mr. Wilson, or any President of the French Republic that
ever lived. So was King Edward VII, so was Queen Victoria; but then,
from nowhere in particular and without any training at all, a Lincoln
emerges and gets elected—that is the mystery which I have never been
able to fathom—by a number of people whose individual opinions upon any
subject of real importance are worth less than nothing!

Murat, as has been seen, made a habit of mistaking craft for
statesmanship, and his Council, by now, were beginning to be aware
of it. Frenchmen and Neapolitans, they saw that would be extremely
dangerous for both countries—particularly Naples—and they resolved
to wait to declare themselves until word came from London and Vienna.
Murat, however, paid no heed to their resolution or their opinion, and
broke up the Council, secretly determined to make the effort.

Some of the troops with which he proposed to undertake the conquest
of Italy were more fit for sneak-thieving than actual fighting against
drilled men. The artillery, sappers, and cavalry were even worse than
the infantry, and when we are told that the regiments of the latter
were taken from the prisons and from the galleys, and that half of
the generals and colonels were French, and the dissensions between the
natives and the foreigners are remembered, one cannot but think that
Joachim must have been a little off his head with the strain he had
been enduring for the past year, if he hoped to annex Italy with such a
force as that.

In reply to Murat’s request for permission to pass through the Papal
States, the Holy Father appointed a regency and betook himself to
Genoa, accompanied by many of the Cardinals. As this occurred in the
middle of Holy Week, the sacred offices were interrupted, many of the
priests leaving the city to follow the Pope, and the indignation of the
Romans knew no bounds. Murat wisely refrained from approaching the city
and proceeded to Ancona, from whence he instructed the ambassadors at
the Congress to renew his protestations of fidelity to his treaties.

This quite unnecessary insult roused Francis of Austria effectually
and he despatched Frimont, Bianchi, Mohr, Neipperg, and Wied, with
forty-eight thousand infantry, seven thousand cavalry, and sixty-four
guns, to repay Joachim for it. Besides these, Nugent had a brigade in
Tuscany, the Po was fortified at Piacenza, Borgoforte, Occhiobello, and
Lagoscuro by the Germans, who occupied every possible crossing and had
at their backs the fortresses of Pizzighettone, Mantua, and Legnano,
with detachments in Commachio and at the bridge of Goro. It was a solid
affair against which Joachim was ramming his head.

He, as soon as war had been declared on the 30th of March, annexed—on
paper—the districts of Cerebino, Pesaro, and Gubbio, and issued edicts
vilifying in the usual manner his opponents, whom he accused of every
fault of which he himself had been guilty. Also, he addressed the
inattentive and careless Italians, reminding them of such grievances
as he could remember and, when the stock of those ran short, inventing
several entirely new ones.

He had a few partial successes at first before Frimont arrived upon
the scene. Carrascosa managed to drive some Austrians—it is all but
impossible to arrive at the real figures and facts of these contests,
but I should be inclined to say about fifteen hundred—from Cesena.
Later they came upon some more at Anzola, and these retired before
them probably, or I should say certainly, under orders. At Spilimberto
he had a personal brush with them, which resulted in a haphazard sort
of success which he seems to have made no attempt whatever to push. A
few days later, after investing Ferrara—the operation could not have
been a very serious one, for it was only conducted for two and a half
days—he attempted to storm the bridge-head at Occhiobello, but, finding
it to be out of the question, left the array encamped on the spot and
returned to Bologna, where he learned what had become of two legions
of his Guard which he had sent to Tuscany—for no military reason
that I have been able to discover, save the very problematical one of
“rousing” the Tuscans.

They were commanded by Generals Pignatelli, Strongoli, and Livron, who,
being of equal rank, were to act in concert, but not to attempt to take
precedence of each other—which, as one historian very truly says, was a
“strange and unusual idea in the composition of the army.”

These contrived to get as far as Pistoia, where, hearing that the
garrison had designs upon them, they retired in something of a hurry to

It was there that Joachim received a communication from Lord William
Bentinck to the effect that, since he had broken his treaty with
Francis, he could consider the treaty with England broken as well. He
might well have expected this piece of information one would think, but
it seems to have depressed him greatly.

The King’s edicts, too, had fallen flat. They had produced, we are
told, “promises, applause, poetic effusions, and popular orations,
but neither arms nor action; thus furnishing much future work for the
police, and nothing for war.”

The forces he had counted upon did not materialise, and Joachim called
his ministers together. These had discovered by now that he never
called upon them for advice unless he was in trouble, and their ardour
and loyalty were shaken. Still, when he laid the facts before them,
they gave him the best they had, in the face of the rather desperate
circumstances. The army was straggled out over a line between Reggio,
Carpi, and Ravenna, without any supports or reserves, in the face of
an enemy stronger, numerically and morally, and in their position one
blow might be the end; so Joachim’s advisers recommended him to hold
on to the places he had only so long as it would take to send back the
sick and the baggage, and then look for some point of attack where the
result would be a little less certain.

A few days later the Germans stormed Carpi and chased General Pepes
almost as far as Modena, and only Murat’s appearance upon the scene
halted the pursuit. On the 15th they seized Spilimberto, the defenders
of which retired in considerable disorder to Sant’ Ambrogio. By now,
however, the advice of the Council had been carried out and the remains
of the army, unhampered, were able to move about and were directed upon
the Reno, Ravenna, and Forlì. The troops upon the Reno were, however,
attacked by the Germans and, after a three-hours’ fight, retreated upon

Joachim, at Imola, now discovered that the Austrian army had been
divided into two parts—one under Bianchi, the other under Neipperg.

The former was advancing by the Florentine Road, the latter by the
Strada Emilia, the idea being to enclose Joachim and force him into a
general engagement between them. They were divided by the chain of the
Apennines, and Murat perceived that Neipperg, at least, was inferior to
him. Fired by the memories of ‘96, he resolved to attack Bianchi and,
if possible, cripple him before Neipperg could come to his assistance,
after which he would still be able to fight Neipperg, unless things
went very wrong indeed with superior numbers.

Macerata was Murat’s objective, but it was twenty days’ march for
troops who reckoned a day’s work as lightly as did his. For all that,
he contrived the retreat with creditable skill in spite of a scuffle
with Neipperg near the Roneo.

But when the battle of Macerata was fought, Joachim’s fortune, which
had been so shy and fickle of late, deserted him entirely. Though he
fought a stubborn enough battle, and though his own dispositions were
solid and well thought out, his instruments failed him. General Maio
and General Lecchi made little or no attempt to shock their opponents,
allowing their men to drift into action anyhow, and, as the day waned
and the Neapolitans became too listless even to fire, word came to the
King from General Montigny in the Abruzzi, telling him that the Germans
had taken Antrodoco and Aquila, that the people were rising for the
Bourbons, and that the magistrates had transferred their allegiance,
while he and the few faithful men who had remained with him had been
forced back to Popoli.

At the same time, came a despatch from the Minister of War, telling him
of the enemy’s appearance upon the Liris, of the horrified feelings of
the people, and of the helpful activities of the Carbonari in Calabria.

Joachim instantly decided to take his troops back into the Kingdom of
Naples, and ordered a general retreat. Then it was that he became fully
aware of the sort of staff he had been leaning upon. Some of the troops
seem to have been prepared to behave themselves, had their commanders
given them any opportunity of so doing, but the generals had had enough
and more than enough, and, to use an Americanism, they “lay down upon
him” completely.

When he called a council the next morning, they informed him that the
larger part of their men had deserted and that the rest would not obey
orders. When one comes to think about it, there does not seem to be any
particular reason why they should have, since no one made the faintest
show of imposing any kind of discipline upon them.

The enemy advanced on either side while this discussion was in
progress, and one brigade, which had obeyed the order to march and
which Joachim opposed to them, rested upon their arms, and proved to
be utterly indifferent to the results. On his arrival in the Abruzzi,
Joachim was astounded to discover that Montigny—he of the “faithful
few”—had abandoned his post at Antrodoco without even waiting for the
enemy to appear, and that his unedifying conduct alone was the cause of
the magistrates’ defection. Also, it was Montigny and no one else who
had deliberately abandoned Aquila, although the enemy, by reason of the
condition of the roads, could not have brought up the guns necessary to
reduce the place.

Joachim, still dazed with this infamy, now received word, through
Prince Cariati, whom he had sent to the Congress of Vienna, that the
Allies were going to exterminate him, that no hope of any sort of
reconciliation remained; at the same time, a letter from Napoleon
censured the recklessness of his campaign and went on to say that it
might prove the ruin of his own effort.

In this state of affairs, Murat bethought himself of the possibilities
of a constitution as a prop to his own tottering throne. It would be
funny if it were not so melancholy! A constitution! With the Austrians
at his gates, an English fleet in the Bay, the entire Kingdom torn
to pieces, the Carbonari in every quarter, his army vanished, and his
friends in flight!

Commodore Campbell had already threatened, unless the ships and the
stores in the arsenal were delivered up to him, to fire a thousand
rockets into the city. Poor Caroline collected some of the ministers
and magistrates and asked for their advice, whereupon the Minister for
Police informed her that the first assault of an enemy would ignite
a conflagration in the city which nothing would be able to suppress.
They were reminded, too, by a general officer, that there were still
ten double ranges of batteries wherewith to defend themselves, and
he suggested that Campbell was counting upon the moral effects of his
threat among the people.

So Caroline, after the invariable accusations of treaty-breaking
with which everybody opened verbal fire on an enemy, and the equally
invariable appeal to history, stipulated for her own and her family’s
safe return to France in an English vessel. Caroline was a Bonaparte,
and she could keep her head, even in a crisis of this sort. She had
ruled wisely and well in her husband’s absence, backing him up, in
spite of her opposition to the war, stoutly. Now she proclaimed the
terms of accommodation, and, having provided for a temporary peace, she
turned to the immediate needs of the situation, and, having heartened
the city militia with her own courage, she pacified and quieted the
populace. With her in the palace were her sister Pauline and her uncle,
Cardinal Fesch, besides her four young children, whom she decided to
send to Gaeta.

Stout old Macdonald, the Minister for War, of whom Napoleon said during
the Peninsular Campaign, “I would not dare to let Macdonald within
sound of the pipes!” was sent to supersede Manhir, and he did presently
succeed in driving the Austrians beyond the Melfa; but no further
advantage was gained, because the troops with which Murat was hoping to
effect a junction were stampeded at Mignano.

Murat’s reign was over. The Bourbons were upon the top of him, and
all that he could do now was to escape before they closed every road.
He believed that the Bourbons wished to capture him and wreak their
vengeance upon him for the lean and restricted years.

Leaving the wreck of his army to Carrascosa, he made his way into
Naples as the sun was dropping over the hills, and hurried by
round-about ways towards the Palace. He was in civilian dress, having
discarded his uniform when he left the army, but he was recognised
and, to his surprise, treated by those whom he met with all the respect
which had been his as a king. In the harbour he could see the British
fleet, lying at anchor, and perhaps the sight was not altogether an
unwelcome one, for he had learned of Caroline’s treaty with Campbell,
and, little as the English might be to his taste, at least they had
been worthy and steadfast enemies and infinitely better company for him
than the Bourbons.

A little pleased, even through the fogs of his depression, at the
manner in which he had been received by the people, he ran into the
Palace, seeking for his wife. Her he found in her own apartment, in the
same room where they had first heard of Napoleon’s departure from Elba,
two short months before, and in which he had left her to depart upon
this last disastrous campaign.

It must have been rather dark in there now that the twilight had come
down, and the memories of the past must have crowded thickly about him
as he entered. He found Caroline alone, save for a lady-in-waiting, and
he went straight to her and caught her in his arms, his voice at first
too choked for utterance.

At last, when he could master his voice, he spoke, calmly enough, and
his tremendous self-restraint was worthy of the old Murat of Jena and

“We are betrayed by fortune, my dear,” he said, “and all is lost!”

Caroline was even steadier than he, and she smiled into his eyes.

“Not all,” she answered quickly, “if we preserve our honour and our

Sitting down together, they dismissed the lady-in-waiting with
instructions to gather together the few proved friends who still
remained to them, and then set themselves to the preparations for their
departure. An hour or more they spent together, and then Murat emerged,
his head high and his face alight from the contact with his splendid
wife. His ministers had assembled, and with them he arranged such of
the affairs of the kingdom as admitted of arrangement, and placed them
in such a shape that the Bourbon could not help but keep them so, for
his own sake, and every last one of his acts and thoughts was directed
towards the future welfare of his people. Nothing else appeared to
have any place in his mind at all. He was cool, quiet, cheerful, and
collected, heartening those around him, and as free-handed to the
French who were leaving him, and the servants whom he was leaving, as
though he were taking the crown instead of laying it down.

He had regained the priceless possession of hope. Napoleon’s star was
still shining. France had taken him to her arms. Without the shedding
of a single drop of blood he had regained the throne and, though all
the world might be in arms against him, he had faith in himself, the
faith that moveth mountains. Murat had resolved to go and join him,
and, when the world war was over, and Napoleon’s foot was again upon
the neck of his enemies, to return to Naples and drive Ferdinand into
the sea and under it.

Caroline knew of his intention, for she let him go alone, and his
instructions to Carrascosa (before the latter departed to the little
house, three miles out of Capua, where Lord Burghersh, Bianchi, and
Neipperg waited to arrange the terms of the treaty of Casa Lanza)
show her hand plainly, for Carrascosa was told to stipulate that
the property sold or given away by Murat must be guaranteed to its
possessors, in order, as Joachim said, to leave him the character of a
good king and that the Neapolitans might cherish his memory. He knew,
and so did Caroline, exactly how long it would take Ferdinand to make
himself loathed and abominated by the people whose yoke Joachim had

That these did not trust Ferdinand’s eloquent vow to abstain from
retaliation against those who had served Murat, was made plain in
the very beginning of the negotiations, for they refused to take
his personal word for the fulfilment of any part of the treaty,
and demanded the guarantee of the Emperor of Austria. It was little
security enough, in all conscience, for the guarantees of Francis had
been the jest of Europe for years past, but they seemed to think that
it might bind the hands of the “Butcher King” for a while.

On the same evening that the treaty was ratified, Joachim departed
incognito for Pozzuoli. From there he went on to Ischia, where he
was received with all the respect due to a monarch, and on the 22d
he sailed for France with a few friends. Caroline, as regent, still
remained in the Palace, and the Neapolitan populace, in the absence
of the troops, went off their heads. They had been hard held lately,
and now they made up for it. They broke open the prisons and committed
atrocities that do not bear writing about. Even the presence of three
hundred marines from the British fleet could do little to control the
mob, but they produced a temporary calm, during which Caroline embarked
on one of the British men-of-war with Macdonald and two others.



  Naples in Anarchy—Entrance of Austrians—Murat’s Repulse by
  Napoleon and by Louis—His Demon of Ill-luck—Ship-wrecked—Aid in
  Corsica—Emperor of Austria’s Proposal—Attempt Against Naples—Murat
  Betrayed into Ferdinand’s Hands—Murat’s “Trial”—Letter to His
  Wife—Before His “Judges”—A Brave Death—Ferdinand, the “Butcher

No sooner was Caroline on board than the city broke out again and
anarchy reigned, until the Austrians sent in some troops in answer to
the frantic appeals of the magistrates, and these, with the British
marines, set upon the mob, killing a hundred or more of the worst of
them before order was restored.

The riot and the subsequent slaughter had apparently no effect upon
the people’s feelings, for on the very next day they illuminated
the city gorgeously and the sound of their merriment could be heard
out at sea. All the ships in the harbour were dressed, even that
one which sheltered Caroline and her followers, and on the 23d the
Austrians entered with Crown Prince Leopold of Bourbon at their head,
who graciously acknowledged the howls of the crowd. Everything that
suggested Murat—flags, statues, pictures—was destroyed, and Caroline,
from the deck of the British ship, watched the general jubilation over
her husband’s fall.

Joachim, passing Gaeta, saw his standard still flying from that
fortress, and, even then, would have landed and joined the garrison had
he been permitted to do so, but the port was blocked up with vessels
and he was forced to proceed on his way.

He reached Fréjus on the 28th of May, but, as the shore became clearer
and the outline of the coast grew into the horizon, the hopes with
which he had left Caroline began to weaken, and he became oppressed
with a sense of helplessness, seeming to feel that he was struggling
against hopeless odds. The sight of the country he had once served
so well, and where his name had been a household word—he was known as
“the Achilles of France”—struck chill upon his heart. He had loved his
mistress, and had never counted the cost, but he had sided against her,
too, and, as he well knew, a country, like a woman, forgets a thousand
acts of devotion in the face of one affront. He had no friends there
any more, save, perhaps, his brother-in-law; but Napoleon had a woman’s
memory for past wrongs, too, and, though his letters had been full of
affection while the issue of his own attempt was still problematical,
now that he had succeeded, he could repay to the uttermost farthing.

He might need Murat to lead the cavalry—nay, as it seemed, he _must_
need him, for he could not, surely, allow a personal spite to prevent
him from using that weapon of weapons when the hilt of it was held
out to him! Murat was not the only one, either. Ney had sworn to bring
the Emperor back in a cage like a wild beast—and he had taken Ney to
his heart as soon as they met. Marmont had deliberately gone over to
the enemy—taking his corps with him. Indeed, of all Napoleon’s former
adherents it might be said that only Soult had proved to be the true
mettle, for he had not laid down his arms till after the Emperor had
descended from the throne, and he had fought his last fight, with as
high a courage and as steadfast a heart as his first.

Soult had never surrendered, nor had he ever allowed it to be said that
force of arms had compelled him to submit to the Allies. He had obeyed
the decision of his countrymen, and that was all.

The evil days upon which he had fallen had eaten into Murat’s
self-confidence badly, and he dared not even proceed to Paris, but
remained at Toulon. From there he wrote to Fouché, whom he still
imagined to have kindly feelings towards him—Fouché—because in his
prosperity he had befriended him.

“You know,” he wrote, “the motive and the result of the war in Italy.
Arrived in France, I now offer my arm to the Emperor and trust that
Heaven may allow me to atone for the disasters of the King by the
success of the Captain.”

Fouché presented the letter to Napoleon without comment, and the latter
read it. “What treaties of peace have I concluded with the King of
Naples since the war of 1814?” he asked, handing it back, and Fouché
bowed himself out.

Murat remained at Toulon, growing daily more hopeless, although
the inhabitants treated him with great respect. But he had passed
the point where the respect or otherwise of private citizens could
affect him. Then came Waterloo, and the South of France took on the
political aspect of the unhappy kingdom which he had just quitted.
The Monarchists rose and smote out right and left, massacring their
political opponents and looting everything that those unfortunates
left behind them. Marshal Brune, who had previously been sent by the
Emperor to maintain order in the South, was torn to pieces by a mob,
and Joachim was forced to hide himself as best he could from the “White
Terror,” which was overrunning the land.

From his hiding-place, he wrote again to Fouché, but that adaptable
gentleman was now Minister to Louis XVIII, and vouchsafed no answer.
Fouché was one of those human chameleons that fit themselves into any
colour-scheme, and all the wars, plots, revolutions, and Armageddons of
the past years had passed him by. He had just succeeded in betraying
Wellington, to whom he had promised Napoleon’s plan of campaign, by
sending the plans and then taking steps to see that the messenger
was delayed long enough on the frontier to make the delivery of them
useless; and now he was more monarchist than the poor old monarch
himself, hunting out his late associates mercilessly. Murat begged
for a passport to England, but no notice was taken of his appeal. In
despair and having escaped, by what seemed to be a miracle, from the
hands of the Marquis de la Rivière, who owed his life to Joachim’s
favour, he wrote to Louis himself, requesting Fouché to deliver his
letter. But Fouché sent no word, and no answer came from Louis, who
probably never saw the letter at all; and, seeing no other hope for
him, Murat resolved to go to Paris and place himself in the hands
of the Allied Sovereigns. They could not, in reason, blame him for
doing to them that which they had all, at various periods during the
past twenty years, done to one another. He had been a great figure—a
greater figure than any of them. They had now no reason for betraying
his confidence; and they were neither vengeful nor bloodthirsty. He
would be safer with them than among his own countrymen. His idea was to
travel by sea—for to attempt a land journey would have been something
not far removed from suicide—to Havre de Grâce, whence he could make
his way to Paris with little risk. So, having made arrangements for a
vessel, and chosen a wild and unfrequented part of the coast and a dark
night for his embarkation, he set out.

But the vessel, for some reason or other, did not arrive at the spot
that night and Murat was compelled to retire among the rocks and
vineyards for shelter, and here he remained, hoping against hope, until
the darkness gave way to the summer dawn, and the light from the faint
topaz-coloured east on the waters showed nothing that looked like the
craft he had bargained for.

Perhaps it was meant, that crushing disappointment, for there is no
saying, in the light of the conditions which reigned at the Capital,
whether he would ever have reached the Sanctuary of the Allies at
all. The White Terror, a plague as fierce and irresponsible as the
Red one of a quarter of a century earlier, was raging uncontrolled
and uncontrollable, and the deeds of Murat, as King of Naples in 1814,
would not have counted then, for the Emperor’s broken Marshal. Fouché’s
agents very nearly caught him that time, and he had to fly from cover
to cover like a hunted hare; but he escaped from them, and a while
later slipped away in a little ship that was bound for Corsica.

Even now the demon of his ill-luck, still unsatiated, continued to
pursue him, for after two days a storm overtook them which forced them
to lower their single, three-cornered sail, and let the boat run under
bare poles for a day and a half, at the end of which time, when the
little ship was filling rapidly, they were picked up by the _Corriera_,
on her way to Bastia. A large French vessel which they had spoken a few
hours earlier had refused to have anything to do with them, and when
this other one, more charitable, came alongside, Murat, uncovering his
face, told the Captain his name.

“A Frenchman,” he said. “I speak to Frenchmen, and, nearly shipwrecked,
I ask aid from those who are themselves out of danger.”

Greatly to his surprise and his gratification, he was treated with
every honour and welcomed on board as a king, and, the next day, he
landed at Bastia.

He had come at a moment when Corsica was in the throes of a civil
war of its own, between the followers of the Bourbons, the adherents
of Napoleon, and a party who, sitting on the fence between, called
themselves Independents. Many of Murat’s old-time companions-in-arms
had been natives of Corsica, and, the Napoleonists and Independents
being in the majority, they called upon Joachim to help them crush
the remainder and rule over the island afterwards. This was the sort
of invitation which the fiery cavalryman was always only too ready to
accept, and his heart soared into the heavens!

One begins to understand the reason why Napoleon could hold all Europe
down, when one reads the adventures of Murat and Ney and Soult. Even
when the Great Force behind them was removed, and they were struggling
single-handed, while the least and weakest chance remained to continue
fighting, they would fight. They never counted the odds, they never
parleyed with a compromise, repeated defeats never cooled their
courage; they would follow as hard upon the faintest ray of hope as
they had galloped into the blazing sunlight of an assured victory.

It was not long before Joachim became the object of the deepest
suspicion to such authorities as still remained in Corsica and
he removed himself to Vescovado, and thence to Ajaccio, with the
enthusiastic assistance of the discontented element in the island.
Once more, under the action of the popular support, he began to feel a
king, and frequently remarked that, if strangers rallied to him in this
fashion, the Neapolitans might be expected to rise _en masse_ at his
appearance. “I accept it as a happy augury!” he exclaimed.

It seems incredible that, after his experience among them, Joachim
should have an illusion left about his late subjects. But he evidently
had, and he determined to descend upon Salerno, where three thousand of
his former troops were quartered. They were, he was sure, discontented
with the Bourbons—being what they were, they were bound to be
discontented with any sort of established authority—and with these
he expected to march towards Avellino, increasing his following as he
went, throwing a panic into the capital before him; in fine, repeating
the Napoleonic performance, and seating himself firmly upon the throne
before the Austrians could descend upon him.

He had completed his arrangements, when he received a letter from
Maceroni, informing him that the latter was upon his way to Ajaccio,
and that he was bringing good news with him.

He waited a day for him, and Maceroni, when he appeared, presented
Murat with a note written in French:

   “His Majesty the Emperor of Austria [it ran] will grant an asylum
   to King Joachim on the following conditions:

   “First. That the King shall assume a private name; and the Queen
   having taken that of Lipano, the same is proposed to the King.

   “Second. That the King shall reside in one of the cities of
   Bohemia, Moravia, or Upper Austria, or, if he should prefer it,
   in the country; but in one of these provinces.

   “Third. That he shall pledge his word of honour not to quit the
   Austrian territory without the express permission of the Emperor,
   and to live as a private individual, subject to the laws of the
   Austrian Monarchy.”

It was signed by Metternich, and dated from Paris, on the 1st of

But Joachim, in spite of his friend’s entreaties, would have none of it.

“Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.” Joachim’s soul was aflame now
and he spoke contemptuously of the offer.

“A prison, then,” he cried, “is to be my asylum! A prison is a tomb,
and nothing remains for a King who has lost his throne but the death of
a soldier. You have come too late, Maceroni. I have already determined
on my fate.... If I fail, imprisonment must be the natural consequence,
but I will never consent to drag out the miserable remnant of my days
in slavery. Bonaparte resigned the throne of France, yet he returned
to it in the same way which I now attempt.... I have not resigned my
throne or forfeited my right, therefore a fate worse than imprisonment
would be contrary to human justice; but be assured that Naples shall be
my St. Helena!”

On the night of the 28th of September, the forlorn hope embarked at
Ajaccio. The weather was mild and clear, the sea calm, and both the
troops and their leader happy and confident. They did not know that
Ferdinand had had intelligence of every move that Joachim had made
since his landing in Corsica, through one of Joachim’s own servants,
a man of the name of Cabarelli. This man, who owed everything that
he possessed to Murat’s kindness, accosted him at Ajaccio, and, while
offering himself to his old master’s service, begged him not to attempt
the crazy enterprise. In this he was acting according to his orders,
for the Neapolitan Government was frightened; but, having discovered,
doubtless from Joachim’s own rash words, that he was bent upon the
affair and would allow nothing to stop him, Cabarelli forwarded to his
employers Joachim’s entire plans, preparations, and movements.

The only thing that he did not learn was the destination of the little
force, and the lack of that knowledge prevented Ferdinand from taking
any steps towards dealing with Joachim when he should arrive. Ferdinand
was afraid, too, of any rumour spreading, for Murat had still many
friends in the Kingdom and he, Ferdinand, had none.

For a week all went well with the expedition, but on the seventh day a
storm arose which lasted for three days and which scattered the little
fleet hopelessly. Joachim’s boat chanced to find its way into the
Gulf of Santa Eufemia, and Joachim, after some hesitation, resolved to
stake all upon the throw and land at Pizzo, with the twenty-eight men
remaining to him.

This was on the 8th of October. It was a festa and, in consequence, the
militia were paraded in the market place, when the party came ashore.
No sooner were these on land than they raised Murat’s standard and
advanced upon the town, shouting, “Long live King Murat!”

But there was no response and the onlookers remained silent. It was
as though a cold mist had settled upon the sunny morning, and Murat
hastened on to Monteleone, where he trusted to the gratitude of the
citizens for many favours which he had done them in the past. But two
Bourbon adherents—a certain Captain Trentacapilli and an agent of the
Duke dell’ Infantado—hastily collected a following of men and weapons
and met Joachim on the road, where they opened fire upon him.

He, however, did not return their fire, but only saluted them,
whereupon, taking heart from his inaction, they fired again, killing
one and injuring another of his followers. The remainder prepared to
defend themselves, but Joachim prevented them.

Now a crowd began to collect, and very soon the only avenue of escape
for Joachim was by the steep cliff, down which he ran, hailing, as he
arrived upon the beach, his ship, which was still but a little distance
from the land. His captain, Barbara, though—another upon whom Joachim
had lavished every sort of kindness and whom he had raised from nothing
at all to the rank of a Baron—paid no heed to him and sailed away with
the booty which he had on board.

Then Joachim, despairing at last, attempted to make his escape in a
small skiff which lay on the beach; but it was too heavy for him to
move, and the next moment Trentacapilli and his rabble were upon him,
striking him in the face and tearing off the jewels which he wore
upon his cap and breast, and bellowing their insults at him while he
was being led up to the grey, straggling castle; and only when he was
inside the gates and out of sight did their howling cease.

A tiny light penetrated through the gloom that surrounded him when
Captain Stratti, upon hearing who the prisoner was, treated him with
marked deference and respect, addressing him as “Majesty” and securing
for him the best room that he could. General Nunziante also, upon
arriving, paid him every mark of respect, and endeavoured, as far as
it was possible for him to do, to show his sympathy for the unfortunate
and betrayed captive.

This treatment appears to have restored Murat considerably, and that
night he slept soundly and peacefully. No idea of the sort of vengeance
which Ferdinand and his abominable government were preparing for him
appears to have entered his head, and he still seems to have thought
it possible to come to some arrangement with that royal hyena, for he
remarked to Nunziante, the day before his execution, that it would be
easy to come to an accommodation with Ferdinand by the latter yielding
to him the Kingdom of Naples and by his yielding to Ferdinand his
claims to Sicily.

Ferdinand, in the meanwhile, having recovered from the nightmare of
terror which had seized him upon the receipt of the news of Joachim’s
landing at Pizzo, allowed his joy and relief full play. At first he
wanted to imprison every one who could even be suspected of a suspicion
in the direction of Muratism, but his courage failed him, and he had
to content himself with despatching Canosa—who may I think, without
injustice, be classed among the three or four worst and most despicable
characters that ever infested that sunny land—into Calabria with _carte
blanche_ to represent his master.

The order for Murat’s execution was sent down by signal telegraph, and,
that done, a court-martial was composed to try him! Seven “judges” were
chosen, three of whom, besides the Procurator General, had been raised
from poverty and obscurity and loaded with money and honours by Murat
himself; and, in order to save themselves from any taint of common
gratitude or even decency, which might bring them into disfavour with
their present sovereign lord, they first of all thanked the latter
humbly for deigning to make use of them, and, by their bearing and
remarks during the trial, made it impossible for Murat to sit in the
same room with them, even had he desired to do so.

In the round tower, Joachim spent the last night of his life,
mercifully undisturbed by the knowledge of the Court which was to
go through the farce of trying him. It was long after daylight when
Nunziante entered, so softly that the sleeping man did not awaken. Nor
did Nunziante arouse him—an act of charity which must surely have been
put to his credit when the long roll-call summoned him in his turn!

On Joachim’s awakening and opening his eyes, Nunziante broke the news
of his approaching trial as gently as possible.

“I am lost, then!” exclaimed Murat. There were tears in his eyes, and
Nunziante himself was unable to speak for emotion, but he brought his
prisoner pen and paper.

   “My dear Caroline [wrote Murat]: My last hour has struck. Within
   a few moments I shall have ceased to live and you will have lost
   your husband. Do not forget me! My life has never been stained by
   an act of injustice. Adieu, my Achilles, my Letitia, my Lucian,
   and my Louisa. Show yourselves worthy of me. I leave you without
   a Kingdom, without wealth, in the midst of many enemies. Be
   united and rise above misfortune. Look upon yourselves as you
   are, not as you might be, and God will bless your humility. Do
   not curse my memory. Know that my greatest misery in this last
   hour of my life is to die far from my children. Receive your
   father’s blessing—receive my embraces and my tears. May the
   memory of your unhappy father be ever present with you.


In the letter he placed some locks of hair.

With infamous cynicism, a defender had been appointed for him before
the Court, but Murat, rising above his misery, rejected the melancholy
foolery with a contempt the expression of which must have cut into the
horny feelings of his Judges and left them sore for many a long day.

He was their King, he told them, but went on to observe: “If I am to be
tried in the light of a Marshal of France, I may be tried by a Council
of Marshals; if as a General, by Generals. But before I descend so low
as to submit to the decision of the Judges who have been selected _many
pages must be torn from the history of Europe_!”

To Storace, who had been appointed to defend him, and who now begged to
be allowed to do what he could, Joachim replied:

“You cannot save my life. Allow me to save my dignity. I forbid you to
speak in my defence.”

Storace, who, with Stratti and Nunziante, appears as one of the three
rays of human light in the whole horrid affair, left him sadly, as the
magistrate entered and with gusto proceeded to torment the victim with
questions. But he did not get very far before Joachim turned upon him.

“I am Joachim Murat,” he replied, “King of the Two Sicilies and your
King. Leave me and relieve my prison of your presence!”

It seems to have occurred to him that, possibly, Ferdinand was
revenging himself now for the murder of the Duc d’Enghien—for he
mentioned the tragedy and swore to Stratti that he had had no hand in
it. He had been Governor of Paris when the young Duke was kidnapped and
shot, but he could have done nothing to save him. Murat was speaking
the truth. The Duc d’Enghien was murdered by Talleyrand, who devised
the whole affair and drove Napoleon into giving the order by suggesting
the result of it upon the Royalists who had, then, made several
attempts upon the First Consul’s life.

Murat then thanked Stratti for his kindness and begged to be left
alone, when he crossed his arms on his breast and stared at the
portraits of his family. His first notice of the sentence which had
been pronounced upon him came through a priest, whose name was Masdea.
The latter, as he told Joachim, had had cause to be grateful to him in
the past for some unexpected help in the building of a Church, and it
was that which had induced him to brave the displeasure of Joachim’s
enemies now. He assured Joachim that his prayers would be offered up
for the repose of his soul, and begged him to prepare himself as a
Christian to appear before his Maker; and Joachim did so, Masdea says,
with philosophic resignation.

The “Court” by now had its sentence ready:

   “Joachim Murat, by the fortune of arms, having returned into
   that private life in which he was born, and having ventured
   with twenty-eight comrades to attempt this rash enterprise, not
   trusting to the force of arms [this, by the way, seems to be
   a queer sort of grievance] but to rebellion, has excited the
   people to rise against the lawful sovereign, endeavoured to
   revolutionise the Kingdom and Italy, and is therefore condemned
   to die as a public enemy, by the law made during the Decennium,
   and which is still maintained in full vigour.”

Joachim seemed to be very little interested in the reading of his doom.
Except for an occasional glance of cold contempt, he paid no attention
to the herald or his message.

Then he was led down some stone steps into a sort of court, which may
be seen to this day, and placed against the wall on the left of the
foot of the stairs.

He refused to have his eyes bound and looked calmly on while the
muskets of the firing party were being loaded. When all was ready, he
straightened himself up and looked steadily at his executioners.

“Spare my face,” he said, “and aim at my heart.”

So died Joachim Murat, in the forty-eighth year of his life, and he met
his end with a fearlessness and dignity which shone the brighter for
the squalid surroundings in which he displayed them.

There is a story still current in the Penisola that, after his death,
his head was cut off, by Ferdinand’s order, and carried to Naples, in
order that the “Butcher King” might be sure that his gallant enemy was
no more.

One would have imagined that the gruesome proof would have satisfied
him and, having seen it, he would have been content to bury it
decently. But the report goes on to say that nothing would induce
him to part with it afterwards and that he kept it in a specially
constructed case, under lock and key, by the side of his bed. Here,
whenever his crazy panics seized him, he could open the box and finger
the head and reassure himself again.

And all this happened, not in the time of Caligula or Tiberius, but
three years before the birth of Queen Victoria.



  Our Moods and the Seas—Memories in Landscapes—The Healing
  of the Sea—A Vision in the Bay of Naples—Marion Crawford’s
  Yacht Expected—The Family Together at Leghorn—Lady Paget—A
  Bathing Scene—Hugh Fraser—“Spannocchi” for Dinner—The Avenging
  Boatman—Livorno, an Anomaly—Sunset on the Mare Ligure—Bay of
  Spezia, a Splurge of Colour and Light—A Hail Storm in Venice—The
  Joy of a Gondola—Moods of Venice—A Giorgione Beauty—The Nurseries
  of Venice—Her Shops—Saints and Heresies of the Thirteenth Century.

Let us come back to happier themes! Many and enchanting books have
been written about Italian cities and Italian country, but none about
our Italian seas. People who look at the map may think this a limited
subject; there is the Mediterranean and there is the Adriatic, what
more can be said? _Amici miei_, to a sea-lover there are as many seas
as ports; the dear salt water and the sunrise and the sunset know it,
and have a separate caress for each. They make—or fit into—the thousand
moods of mind that colour a pilgrim’s life, and the pictures of them
in my gallery of remembrance are clearer than any of my landscapes and
more helpful—because they never hurt. The landscapes, all except the
loveliest ones where the spirit poised for one longing instant—like
a bird on the topmast of a ship and, like the bird, was given no more
than time to take breath and wing away again—are mostly inhabited. Here
your friend quarrelled with you; there your true love kissed you and
betrayed; further on your child was sick and every aspect of the most
beautiful scenery in the world brings back only the poignant watches
when a flush of colour in the little face sent you crazy with joy and
something wrong again with the little pulse froze your heart with fear.
On land we cannot get away from ourselves and others; earth is greedily
dominant, monstrously exacting. But the sea repudiates all individual
ties. You must be empty of yourself or it will not speak to you at
all. Its laws are not our laws, and the first thing it does, if you
are docile to its magic, is to wash out your personality, and, oh, how
glad some of us are—or would be—if we only could utterly forget that
irritant, insistent factor of existence!

In our long wanderings most paths, as we look back on them, show the
little red stains where we cut our feet; we have left shreds of our
soul’s garments on many a thorn by the way; but for me, and I fancy
for some of you others, the breath and the sound and the touch of the
sea has been nothing but coolness and healing, a sunbath for life’s
chillinesses, a fountain of strength in its languors. I think I should
know now the right point to make for, according to the distemper that
might be assailing me; and, though twenty years ago I sought and loved
the onslaught of the Atlantic and the Valhalla of the March tides in
the Channel, to-day I would fare no further than my home seas, those
that lap and sing on the Italian shores.

I was sailing up into, the Bay of Naples once, just as the morning
had conquered the last star; the sky was a faint milky blue, and the
mountains were cowled outlines, very dark and still. Not a breath
stirred the sea, not a sound came from the land. Suddenly from the
shadows that were neither land nor sea, I saw coming towards me a tall
glorious form, floating on the water, pointing to the sky, clothed in
long straight robes of white, making for open sea with the steady rush
of a seabird on rested pinions. It took all the growing daylight to
itself—it _was_ the daylight, for a few breathless seconds—a vision of
the Immaculate Conception, it seemed to me; then the music of ripple
on prow whispered across the water, the sun leapt up behind Sant’
Angelo; I rubbed my eyes and, lo, a slender vessel with snowy sails,
tall and narrow, from some strange port, such sails as our seamen never
unfurled. She brought the wind as she had taken the daylight, and a
moment later she swept past in her immaculate pride and was gone.

I always rather resented the advent of battleships and royal yachts
and gaudy truck of that kind in our Southern waters, but the private
yachts inspired us with a pleasant, mysterious interest that was not
unwelcome. Once, when we were watching anxiously for my brother,
during his venturesome sail from New York to Naples, the children
were cruising round the Bay not far from Naples. A large beautiful
yacht was seen to come in and cast anchor off Santa Lucia, and at once
the greatest excitement prevailed on the Crawford felucca. Was that
the _Alda_? Oh, surely it must be! At once the _Margherita_ headed
for the port, and the nearer she came to the new arrival the surer
was everybody that the _Alda_—which none of them had seen, as Marion
had just bought her—had reached port at last. How well she had stood
the voyage! No sign of the heavy weather mentioned in the wire from
Gibraltar! No sign of the Padrone either, but, of course, he would have
had to go on shore to report himself and get his harbour papers from
the Consul. What was this? Dark-faced sailors in fezes? How like Marion
to pick up a Lascar crew in New York! Let us row round her and hail
somebody—good Heavens! The first shout brought a dozen lovely Turkish
ladies to the cabin windows, smiling, interested, only too ready to ask
the pretty boatful on board. The children stared, open-mouthed! Then
a burst of uncontrollable laughter shook the _Margherita_ from stem to
stern. Papa had certainly not brought a harem from New York! “A casa,”
came the order to the grinning sailors, and the _Margherita_ turned
tail and ran for home.

There is a busy unromantic seaport called Livorno, a long way up
the coast from Naples, a Tuscan town of white streets and shadeless
squares, all alive with commerce, and, until I came to years of reason,
represented to me by the huge flapping straw hats, fine as silk and
pale gold in colour, which we children regarded as signals of summer
when, on the first hot day, the ribbons that held them were tied under
our chins, and we were admonished, on pain of sunstrokes and spankings,
not to take them off. I had among my possessions a toy Swiss cottage
all made of the same pretty straw, and I imagined that “Leghorn”
was a straw city with bunches of red poppies and blue ribbons on the
house-tops for ornament. It was rather a blow to discover, on being
taken there when I was seven years old, to find that the only traces of
my toy city were the thin golden strings which most of the women were
plaiting with lightning quickness as they walked in the streets or sat
in the doorways. After that, as I grew older, Leghorn meant just the
sea in some of its most enchanting aspects, for it was very rarely that
we missed our few weeks of bathing there in September, if we had spent
the summer in the North. It was the beginning of the autumn homecoming;
we took an apartment on the long bright boulevard that faces the sea,
the cook and one or two of the servants came up from Rome to look after
us, and, always, we had a royally good time. The last, I think, was the
best of all, happening after a memorable summer in the Bagni de Lucca,
which I have described elsewhere. My sister had just become engaged,
and her fiancé, Erich von Rabe, of course followed us to Leghorn. Hugh
Fraser was there, occupied mostly, it seemed to me, in saving the Paget
children from getting drowned, since they would attempt to follow their
indomitable young mother in her long swims out in the deep. Lady Paget
did everything beautifully; she was built like a goddess and could not
do anything else, whether she rode or danced or glided about in great
old rooms or flowery gardens; but she never seemed more of a goddess
than when she stood for an instant in her clinging draperies with her
arms above her head and then leapt, like a curved arrow, out and down
into the sun-kissed waves. One held one’s breath while they engulfed
her—and then, yards beyond, up came that proud small head, and away she
would go, with long easy strokes, a being at one with the sun and the
sea—a joy to behold.

All that was in the morning, when the spaces under the big tents on the
outrunning piers of the “stabilimenti” were crowded to the very edge
with cheery, chattering groups, the ladies embroidering as fast as they
talked, the children romping, the young men making love, and the old
people, who would not face the cold joy of a plunge, smiling benignly
on it all. The piers were low, and a sudden gust of wind would fling
the salt water up without warning; then there were shrieks mingled with
laughter, flurrying of skirts and scraping of chairs and snatching up
babies, and all the fun of settling down again, only to renew the game
at the next shower. This gathering only took place in the morning.
As soon as the sun was right overhead, the ladies packed their fancy
work into their reticules, wiped the remains of “ciambelle” from the
children’s mouths, straightened their hats—all with an incessant fire
of chatter like that of a tree full of roosting sparrows suddenly
disturbed—and away everybody trailed along the blazing white boulevard
for home, mid-day dinner, and the rapturous quiet of the siesta

I believe I was a little jealous, even then, of the kind of official
ownership which the Ambassador and his family seemed to claim in the
man who, though neither of us dreamed it yet, was very soon to be my
husband. Anyway, I permitted myself an occasional mood of pleasant
melancholy towards evening when my own dear people, like all the others
who had any deference at all for public opinion, were driving round
and round the public gardens, listening to the band. Two of our party
had agreed to slap public opinion quite brutally in the face; these
were my erratic sister and her equally erratic fiancé. They hired a
little sailing boat, and day after day, towards four o’clock, went off
by themselves, unchaperoned save by the boatman, for long expeditions,
whence they returned, gloriously happy and hungry, just in time for a
very late dinner. Once and once only they lured me out—why, I could not
imagine at the moment, as I was a bad sailor in those days and did not
in the least want to go, but I soon found out their wicked motive. I
had taken it upon myself to order the meals while we were at Leghorn,
as my mother thought it would be good practice for me. Now there was
one dish which we all, except Annie and Erich, particularly disliked,
a fry of very bony, very rank-smelling crayfish, called “spannocchi.”
After one trial I had steadily refused to have it brought to the table.
But those two young monsters liked “spannocchi,” and they laid their
plot quite cleverly and everything turned out just as they intended.
We beat out to sea, the weather was squally, and in a short time I was
lying, a seasick heap, in the bottom of the boat, begging with tears
to be taken home. This was what they had been waiting for. “Not unless
you promise us spannocchi for dinner to-morrow!” they exclaimed in a
breath, grinning down at me in my misery. They looked as big and wicked
as the pictures of the demon lover in our old ballad book, when he is
sailing the faithless wife to hell!

Of course I promised—and was a most unpopular person with the rest of
the family at dinner-time the next night. But their boatman avenged
me in the end. The day before we returned to Rome they took leave of
him with a little present, and he, who had all along imagined them to
be a young married couple, because they came unaccompanied, testified
his gratitude and good-will in true Italian fashion, by crying
enthusiastically: “Heaven bless you, my good Signori, and may it be _a
fine boy_!”

Annie put her head down and ran for home, and Erich was not allowed to
come to dinner that night.

Livorno is an anomaly, an Italian city with no history, no ancient
monuments, no works of art. In fact, it always seemed to me less
Italian than any spot I knew in the whole country, but in the days when
we used to frequent it I took that, as one took everything else in
that cheerful age, for granted, and it was only long afterwards that
I gave myself the trouble to hunt up the causes of the phenomenon.
Then I learnt that down to the days of the Medici it was a small
fishing village with a few hundred inhabitants, bearing, for some
unknown reason, the name of another tiny place further north, Livorno
Vercellese. The Medici first noted its possibilities, and set to work
to make it the real port of Florence, till then largely dependent
for such a commodity on Pisa, a little further up the coast. Pisa,
the ancient rival of Genoa and Venice, still sick with memories of
her past greatness and, since 1405, the bought-and-paid-for fief of
Florence, was always seething with disaffection and conspiracy. Its
last desperate effort at retrieving its independence was made in
1494, and the Florentines were put to the trouble of besieging it
and taking it by force. It was some sixty or seventy years later (I
think during the reign of Francesco, the father of Marie de Medici)
that Livorno recommended itself to the ruler of the Republic as a fine
spot for a port that would have no disturbing memories of independence
to interfere with its usefulness. In order to insure this they did
not colonise it with Italians at all, but craftily invited the more
commercially-minded among the malcontents of all Europe to come and
open up trading houses there. The invitation was eagerly accepted:
persecuted Catholics from England and Germany, Moors from Spain, Jews
in great numbers from all parts came, settled, and flourished, the Jews
of course outnumbering all the rest, so that the Leghorn population
is largely Jewish to this day. But there are also several old English
merchant houses that, while still affecting to regard England as
“home,” are deeply rooted in the bright little city on the Ligurian
Sea, and very kind and hospitable were their representatives to us.
I remember certain commodities—great chests of tea, rolls of English
flannel, and fine table linen—my mother always sent for to one of these
Leghorn merchants, and I fancy it is due to the little English-speaking
community that the town is generally known by that barbarous travesty
of its Italian name. In our times it has, of course, all the unsightly
riches of a great modern military and commercial centre—foundries,
docks, ship-yards, fortifications, naval arsenals, and all the rest
of it—but its real attractions lie in the marvellous freshness of
its air and its unbroken sea-line, changing in tint at every hour of
the day and taking on certain splendours that I never remember seeing
elsewhere. Livorno always seems cool, for when the sun is shining his
hottest the breeze never fails, and the billows roll in and break in
laughter and thunder on the rocks and toss their spray almost to the
windows of your room, where the light comes up in a glow of green and
gold through the Venetians and the wind plays games with the clean
white curtains all day long.

But it is at evening that the Mare Ligure takes you and holds you
with a spell of its own. At sunset the wind generally dies down, and
then the sun sinks slowly over a softly-moving but untroubled sea. The
sky clears of its dancing clouds and becomes—not sky, somehow, but a
fathomless infinity of breathing rose and topaz, transparent and liquid
like jewelled wine. And every ripple and dimple of the water soaks up
the transcendent flush, swaying rhythmically, and smoothing out into
vast pools of melting mother-of-pearl, in which that living wet crimson
seems to lie like a transparent veil over deeper tints that float
beneath. When the sun is gone, the red deepens to the velvet of a dark
June rose, and the western sky is flame, not light; but hurrying night
has chilled the east behind you, and now every ripple is violet blue on
its hither side, the golden glow recedes further and further towards
the west, is sucked away in the trail of the sun at last, and then
nothing is left of the day but a forsaken sweep of primrose and the
wraith of a new-born star.

For sheer splurge of colour and light one must go further north and be
out in the Bay of Spezia some September noon, when the harbour is full
of white battleships all beaconed with signals like strung flowers,
and the bands are playing madly and salutes are crashing through the
music for some royal holiday. The white town and the green hills behind
it seem to thrill visibly in unison, and the sea is cobalt that would
make your eyes ache but for the fringe of feathery white ripples that
the breeze combs up all over its surface, and the sky is transparent
turquoise, and night seems a thousand years away. Further on yet Genoa
the Superb has a sea as blue, sky as stainless, but she dominates in
her white and emerald loveliness so that her setting is almost effaced.
One forgets to notice the steps of the throne where Sovereign Beauty
queens it so royally.

Then cross the plain to Venice, the witch who holds East and West in
her soft hands and plays with their riches as a millionaire’s child
might slip a rain of gold pieces from one palm to another, in idleness,
recking nothing of their value. Sea and sky, priceless palace and empty
island—it is all hers—she can never exhaust her past, and our century,
jejune and vulgar as it is, only seems to touch her to a scornful
smile. But Venice can tremble still. Once in many years there sweeps
down on her one of Nature’s handfuls of retribution—a storm that makes
her quake to her artificial incredible foundations. I saw one such.
It was in May, Venice’s most perfect month. We had been out to the
Lido that morning, bathing in water smooth as cream; there was not a
cloud in the sky. We had barely got home when inky darkness descended,
and out of it burst a gale that lashed the Grand Canal to fury, and
a machine-gun fire of hail was flung against the windows, to result,
an instant later, in a crash of broken glass and tumbling bricks that
was truly appalling. Through the tumult came shrieks and cries. Every
window in the Ducal Palace was smashed, and most of the others in the
town; when it was over—the whole thing did not last more than twenty
minutes—I went out on our balcony and picked up, from the thick layer
lying there, hailstones as big as pigeons’ eggs. The next day we went
out again to the Lido, and where a long green pergola of vines had
shaded the way to the bathing establishment now stood a bare tracery of
dry branches. Not a single leaf was left.

But generally the Adriatic waits on Venice with subservient calm,
and one can float over those vast yet not unpictured lagoons in still
assurance that one’s reveries will not be disturbed. I doubt whether
such lengths of languorous idling be good for young strong people, but
as a rest-cure for tired ones there can be nothing more complete. The
shape and build of the gondola (what a perfect name for the gliding
sinuous thing!) was evolved by an artist in comfort; the enormous
leather cushions let you sink into their thickness as far as you please
without ever touching the limit of their pleasant elasticity. Whether
cowled in to keep off the sun’s rays in the day or uncovered to give
you all the coolness of the evening, the gondola seat relieves you of
all responsibility for your body; it holds you as an experienced nurse
holds a tired child; and in its silent swan-like rush through the water
you get just the sense of motion necessary to keep your nerves employed
yet soothed. With the right companion, what talks are possible, as
you glide out in the last flush of evening towards the more distant
lagoons and wait for the moon to come up out of Istria, across the
sea! Your gondolier, silent as Charon, is behind you and you forget
his existence. And all the rest is behind, too, but very far behind:
daily life with its horrid strident claims and calculations that won’t
even leave honeymooning couples alone! Time has ceased, and the world
is standing still to let you look at life in its beauty and kiss its
face in its peace. When at last you say, without turning your head, “A
casa, Sandruccio!” your black swan quivers an instant from low stern
to dark arched prow, swings round in the smallest space any boat did
ever turn in, and you float back to the regular rhythm of Sandruccio’s
twenty-foot oar, till a necklace of lights lies low on the land and
the faintest of songs—a very mist of music—is wafted over the water.
“Alla Pizzetta?” enquires Sandruccio, speaking for the first time and
in a voice expressing much amused indulgence for dreaming lovers. A few
minutes later he is imperiously ordering fellow-gondoliers out of his
way to the steps, is holding the side of the swan the eighth of an inch
off the grind of the stone, and you and your other self dance on shore
to become light-hearted young people, keeping time surreptitiously
to the gay waltz of the band and laughing at everything and nothing
because all the festive crowd around you is doing the same thing.

Witch and tyrant as she is—and perhaps for that very reason, since
tyrants must know how to yield as well as how to rule—Venice will meet
you in almost all your moods, and create new ones for you if you have
none of your own.

I used to get dazzled with all the splendour of palaces and Churches;
these last are so full of the glorification of great men—the monuments
and ornamentation are so obtrusive that there seems scarcely any room
for prayer. San Marco itself, dream of beauty as it is, inspires less
devotion than many a humble country Church without a single work of
art to recommend it. Without the ineffable Presence in the Tabernacle
I should have felt more piously disposed at the foot of the lonely
shrine out in the Lagoon, where the Blessed Madonna’s picture smiles
down from its tall tarred post on the flowers that one or other of her
children brings there every day. The water laps gently at her feet, the
sky arches blue overhead, and one can dream very good and happy dreams
as one gazes up at her. But in San Marco, just as in the Doges’ Palace,
one is teased by two things—the necessity of thought and appreciation,
and that horrid sense one has in so many places in Italy, of all the
prying irreverence that expert—sceptic—heretics of the Ruskin tribe
have brought to bear on it—as if the cleverest ant that ever crawled
and builded underground could measure the courses of the stars!

To forget, and rest from, other people’s thoughts, I used to walk a
good deal through those narrow, noiseless streets where never hoof or
wheel comes to break the stillness, where old houses lean close to
share old secrets, and the shadows lie clear and cool through most
of the daylight hours. When the sun does strike down he turns the
grey to gold, seems to gather up all the perfume of the small hidden
gardens and fling it to you with a laugh on a spray of jessamine
that has tossed itself over some ancient wall, or a tangle of red
carnations spilling down through the scrollwork of a balcony projecting
the wide curve of its iron bars far overhead, above the street.
Through a half-open _portone_, dull green, like the narrow canals
in the shade, you catch a glimpse of a courtyard deep sunk between
high walls that are dimpled and lichened to indescribable richness
of colour, and gleaming here and there with some lovely fragment of
bas-relief. Cupid with one wing gone and half a bow—a row of bursting
pomegranates trailing off into nothing—a few letters of some once
pompous inscription—who knows, who cares? They served out their own
uses centuries ago and were stuck in here to corner a window frame,
to key an arch, to replace a brick, but the sun and the rain and the
salt sweetness of Adriatic airs have fused and mellowed them to the
gold-white tint of fresh curds, smoothed their marbled surface to
the velvet uniformity of magnolia petals. There is a fountain in the
courtyard, of course, a rough half shell of stone set into the wall,
where a slow jet trickles all day long and is just now spilling over
the brim of the red copper “conca” that some woman has set a-tilt below
it—and forgotten, perhaps, to run upstairs and pull in the wire that
dangles overhead between two windows, flapping with garments of many
colours like a string of signals at sea. For there are windows that
look into the courtyard, row above row—and there she is, looking out
of one, a red-haired, brown-eyed young creature with broad shoulders
and sunburnt throat, a strapping baby trying to wriggle out of its
swaddling bands in her arms. In a minute she comes down, and clatters
over the broad damp stones in her wooden clogs with yellow velvet
toe-caps—and the sight of them sets me dreaming of the Venetian ladies
three hundred years ago, picking their way to Mass through the narrow
twisting “calle” on clogs, too, but such clogs! A narrow stein, twelve
or fourteen inches high, resting on a base not more than two inches
wide, and spreading at the top into a pretty little slipper, lined
with velvet, and the whole thing was covered with crimson velvet and
gold lace held in place by dozens of gold-headed nails! How any grown
woman ever balanced herself on these stilts is a mystery to me still.
My father at one time collected ancient footgear, and then forgot
all about it; so it came to pass that in a corner of our old nursery
at the Villa Negroni there lay the strangest heap of toys that any
modern child ever had to play with—several pairs of these exquisitely
ornamented “sabots” tumbled in with pink and scarlet silk slippers of
the Watteau period—and later. One pair, I remember, with heels like
knitting pins, so high that only the very point of the foot touched the
ground at all. But, oh, how the little feet that wore them must have
suffered! They had certainly walked in such shoes from childhood, for
the foot had sunk down and lost shape until, pathetically small as the
little slipper was, it was as lumpy and shapeless as a clenched fist
and almost as broad as it was long.

By the time I remembered her again, after my mental excursion, my
Giorgione beauty had twisted a towel into a turban, placed it on her
red hair, and, lifting the “conca” on to her head with a turn of the
hand and without spilling a drop, had disappeared up the dark stairway,
all in less time than it takes to tell. Then, after stealing one fat,
pink oleander blossom from the tree in the corner, I went on my way,
sniffing its nutty sweetness, to lose myself in the silent labyrinth
of those little-trodden alleys and then be suddenly brought to a
standstill by a deep narrow canal, unbridged, green, silent, serving
as the water door to the rooms of dark old houses that frowned at
each other across it. At every few yards stone steps led down, the
water lapping confidentially over the lowest ones. From far away
comes the long warning cry, “O, Premí”—that has puzzled generations
of etymologists unable to give even a guess at its derivation. But
everybody knows its meaning—you hear it a hundred times a day at every
angle of the canals, telling those whom it concerns that a gondola is
coming round the corner. The next moment it has swung into sight, the
long, sinuous black thing cutting through the water so smoothly and
imperiously, pulling up suddenly without jerk or sound beside the steps
to let its fare slip on shore or its gondolier deliver a message—in
the soft lisping dialect that sounds like insects’ wings in a summer
noon—to some one waiting for it on a balcony above.

It is the little things that are so real and charming in Venice, I
think; the glimpses of life among the unchanging, persistent, common
people, who live as they have always lived in the discreet still
atmosphere of the back streets and the forgotten waterways.

Sometimes grown-up Venice is a little overpowering; one feels called
upon to note every turn and building, for fear of missing some
exquisite bit of architecture, some play of light and shade that
must be remembered. Then one is glad to get away to one or another
of the islands that lie around her, the nurseries where she played,
and dreamed of the future, a thousand years ago. The dearest of them
all to me is Torcello. We rowed out there one morning in August, when
the sea was very calm and the sun a little veiled by clouds sweeping
slowly up from the south. As we approached the island it seemed as if
its few buildings were flush with the water; so low does it lie that
the grasses and wild roses on the shore were dipping in the wash of
the ripples. Some peasants had been cutting the grass, the scent of
new-mown hay filled the air, and two great boats pushed out from some
inlet and passed between us and the land, laden ten feet high with a
cargo of fragrant green gold. As they met the breeze, up went the tawny
sails and they skimmed away over the blue water like bees heavy with
pollen. Then there was the cool rush of the turning prow, our gondola
ran in softly to the strand, some one held up an arm, and I sprang on
shore—to find myself in another age and another clime. I had to wait a
few minutes to realise what it all meant, for the “ambiente” was new to
my senses. A stretch of turf and wild roses—that explained itself—youth
and roses never need introduction—but the still white Church, so
long and low, with its slender columns like altar candles, its grave
Byzantine lines—that made me pause. It seemed as if some Saint had
turned from his prayers to ask me what I came for, and I could only
reply: “You must tell me—there is nothing here that I have a name for,
but there is something that was mine—give it back to me!”

When I walk through a familiar room in the dark, a peculiar warning
like a ghostly touch is laid on my forehead as I come near any object
on a level with it, and that same feeling came to me there at Torcello,
I remember. It seemed as if it all were known to me, as if every flower
and blade of grass called out, “We were here with you before!”—as if
the small forsaken basilica had meant the heart of home in some lapsed
period that life, as I knew it, could in no way account for. Its
loveliness was so removed, so ascetic that one held one’s breath for
fear of disturbing its peace; the marble seats, the central throne,
seemed all peopled by grave shades of presbyters, surrounding their
Bishop, their long straight vestments marked with the gold cross from
shoulder to shoulder and from neck to feet; I could almost fancy I
heard their deep chant, first from this side of the mounting tribune
and then from that, echoing in the cold spaces overhead and dying away
down the nave among the columns. I believed the old story then, that
Torcello had been the first resting-place of the hunted exiles fleeing
seaward from the Huns; it was not that; I doubt whether the basilica
was really built in the Seventh Century as the guidebooks say; Rialto
had its Church long before Torcello; but Rialto has been the artery
of Venice’s throbbing vitality too long for any associations to cling
to it now, while Torcello has stood aside, a recluse that has never
wavered in its loyalty to the Past, and the Past is enshrined there for
all time. I was surprised to find that it and I were friends. There are
only two of all the dead and gone centuries of Europe that seem really
my own besides the one I was born in—and they do not belong to the
chaotic times of Barbarian invasion and Byzantine supremacy. But the
nameless sweetness of the airs that play so gently over the forsaken
island said something that day that could never be forgotten, and the
impression was so strong and so perfect that I have never wished to
tamper with it by a second visit.

Strangely enough Torcello dismissed us with contumely, for as we left
it in the late afternoon we encountered a fearful storm and came, I
think, very near to being swamped. The thunder simply hurled itself
from every quarter at once, the sea rose in inky billows of terrifying
dimensions, and between them and the rain we were drenched to the skin,
and very thankful when Sandruccio, who behaved splendidly, finally
landed us on the slippery steps of our hotel.

For a day or two after that we stayed within call, so to speak, and
had no fancy for putting out to the Lagoons. There were mornings when
it was pleasant to be utterly and frankly frivolous and do nothing
but wander under the arcades of the Piazzetta and in and out of the
bewilderingly pretty shops. Such a spread of colour and glitter they
were, and so tempting was it to pick up some of the alluring trifles
for the new home we were going to make in Peking! The Murano glass
at Salviati’s I still think the most beautiful product of our own or
any other time. Every tint of sea and sky and jewel gleamed in the
ethereal beakers and vases; I remember a tall goblet of transparent
topaz, shot with gold, that twisted and curled on its tendril stem like
a newly opened convolvulus, spreading at last into a cup too ethereal
for earthly lips to touch, so full of light that the most sparkling
wine would have darkened it; and all round, for handles, were blown
wreaths of milky iridescent foam, so faint that it seemed as if they
must run down its sides and wet your fingers with salt spray. It was
like getting into the Sea-King’s palace under the sea to spend an hour
at Salviati’s; every lovely freak and fancy of sun and water, from
the brooding sapphire of secret caves to the last bubble of spray on a
curling wave, it was all there, caught and crystallised for mortals to
love and handle.

Those were the days of beads—one wore as many chains as one liked,
the more the better—and for years I went round with a little Venetian
rosary of blue and gold flecked with fairy roses round my neck. The
mother-of-pearl overcame me altogether—long garlands of the tiny
shells strung in fanciful patterns—each perfect in itself and shot with
rainbows through its moonlight sheen—but the dignity of a married woman
forbade the wearing of such things now. For years they lay about on my
dressing-table reflected in the depths of a Venetian mirror which also
accompanied me everywhere, a big oval set in a frame of translucent
flowers and leaves, neither white nor silver nor pearl, but just the
colour of the foam when the sun shines through it.

We went out to Murano once and saw all the processes of glass-blowing,
and they made a little vase for me while I was there; but the secrets
of those marvellous colours were not explained, and I came away with
one cherished illusion intact—I am still sure that the glass-blowers
have a tributary tribe of nymphs and fairies who gather their tints for
them out at sea, in nets woven of sunbeams and moonrays!

During that honeymoon summer, Venice indoors, with all its matchless
art treasures, appealed to me less than Venice out of doors. At the
time of my first stay there I was only sixteen, but mature enough to
appreciate what I was seeing, and my dear old stepfather was a splendid
guide and allowed us to miss nothing. He was a strange combination,
dear man—an expert at explaining beauty of colour and technique and
stonily impervious to impression or atmosphere. All that remained to
him of his Calvinistic New England education was a giant conscience,
to which other people’s inclinations had to bow wherever he took the
lead, as he did, imperiously, in matters of sightseeing. Often I would
have begged off some expedition, feeling surfeited already with beauty
and history, and longing to be healthily frivolous for a few hours, as
youth needs to be sometimes. But it was of no use—go with him I must,
and very glad I was of it afterwards, for, returning in later years
to the places where he had piloted me about, I could make at once for
the things I wanted to see again, without troubling my head about the
others. One of these, alas! was gone when Hugh and I, just married,
came to Venice. The St. Peter Martyr of Titian had perished in a fire.
I had lingered before it long, as a girl, for there was something more
than mere beauty in the painting; one felt there was truth, relatively
as absolute as that for which the Saint gave his life—a picture not
only of himself but of what he died for, loyalty to the unalterable
essence of things as they are.

It is as hard to describe a beloved picture as a beloved face, but this
one had been seldom copied or reproduced, and it is gone, now, so I
will try. In a dark glade of the woods through which flamed red bars
of sunset, two ruffians were attacking the Saint and his companion;
Peter knelt between them in the foreground, looking up to Heaven, ere
the last blow fell, with a wonderful expression of mingled pain and
joy. The sweep of the drapery, the slight sinking to one side, showed
that his strength was gone already, but through the physical anguish
on his face there shone such radiance that one knew Heaven was already
opened to his eyes—it was not trust, it was certainty. The assassins,
great bulky brutes, towered over him, but their figures were shadowed
and dark and formless as evil itself; all the light, all the reality,
were centred on the bending head, the dying eyes, the praying hands,
the mystic cross that barred the priestly garment. I think there were
palms and angels hovering overhead; but in a very old drawing, half
life-size, of this picture—to all appearance contemporary with the
painting—that I found among my dear father’s possessions they were
absent. In the background lay the body of the martyr’s slain companion,
martyred, too, but all the glory and the promise seemed to be for
Peter—none for him. As I have said, I was only sixteen then, and knew
less about Peter the Martyr than I did about Confucius or Genghis
Khan, and for many years I wondered why the other martyr had remained
nameless and unsainted. It shows the incompleteness of my education
when I confess that it was only a year or two ago that I pieced his
story together for myself. Let some one correct me if I am wrong,
but I _think_ the neglected companion was Conrad, the confessor of
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a man of high learning and much piety, but
to whom, on account of his harsh treatment of the “dear Saint,” the
Church refused the honours of canonisation. But we know that Conrad was
murdered for the Faith, and may be equally sure that it was owing to
St. Elizabeth’s prayers that Heaven allowed him to expiate his fault by
a heroic death.

The Thirteenth Century, so rich in Saints, was appallingly prolific
in heresies, too, and of these the Manichæan, ancient as the Devil
himself, was just then the most aggressive. It had gained much ground
in the north of Italy, and when Peter was born in Verona his whole
family had been led away by it. But the true faith was still taught
in the schools, and by the time the boy was seven years old he had
learnt the Apostles’ Creed, and neither blows nor caresses at home
could shake him in his loyalty to it. Later he was sent to Bologna to
pursue the studies considered necessary for a gentleman in those days,
but Providence had other designs and uses for him. He was yet in his
teens when the call came; he answered it at once, renounced the world,
and took the Habit of the Preachers, the sons and followers of St.
Dominic. The Breviary says, “With great splendour did his virtues shine
in Religion,” especially in his gifts of preaching, which brought the
strayed lambs back to the Fold by thousands at a time. He had always
prayed for the crowning grace of martyrdom, and when it approached he
told those who loved him that his end was close at hand. The Manichæans
feared him as much as they hated him, for he was as stern with the
recalcitrant as he was tender to the contrite. He was returning, in
the exercise of his ministry, from Como to Milan, when they murdered
him. With his last breath he repeated the Apostles’ Creed. The antiphon
for his feast repeats the words used by Innocent IV in the Bull of his
canonisation, which took place the year after his death, an immense
number of authentic miracles having already testified to the honour
and glory God had bestowed upon him in Paradise. “As purest flame leaps
up from the depths of smoke, as the rose blooms on the thorny branch,
so Peter, Teacher and Martyr, is born of faithless parents.” “Soldier
in the Preachers’ camp, he stands now in the ranks of the warriors
triumphant.” “His soul was all-angelic, his tongue fruitful, his life
apostolic, and his death precious.” “The unconquered athlete battles
strong in death, professing aloud the Faith for which he bleeds. It is
thus that the martyr triumphs as he does for the Faith.”

To all but us benighted Catholics “the Faith,” in these latter days,
is a mere sun-myth, and the blackest heresy a disease that has lost
all its terrors—as harmless as chickenpox or a cold in the head. Let
us who know better at least have the grace to acknowledge our debt to
the great ones who fought for our heritage and kept it clean with their



  Melancholy Ravenna—Early Byzantine Architecture—Forests of
  Stone-pine—Smiles and Tears—The Need of a Little Misfortune—Monte
  Gargano—Millions of Spanish Merinos—Primæval Forest—A Forest
  Miracle—Church of the Apparition of St. Michael—Other Apparitions
  of the Archangel—The Revelation to St. Aubert—The Great Round
  Church—Order of the Knights of St. Michael—A “Maiden” Fortress of

The real life of the Adriatic coast seems to diminish visibly when
one leaves Venice and drops down towards Ravenna; it has been drawn
away inland to busy cities that turn their backs on the sea, and the
sea itself has sullenly withdrawn, leaving ancient ports empty and
useless, like stranded wrecks that will never feel the leap of the
waves beneath their keels again. One should visit Ravenna either in
the heyday of irrepressible youth or much later in life when twilight
is companionable and sympathetic; otherwise, its melancholy is too
all-pervading, too depressing to be healthy. It is a city of ghosts,
big-eyed, hard-featured Byzantine ghosts; the great mosaics are full of
their portraits, and, with all the beauty of gold and colour, there is
something sinister and deathly in those tall straight figures, stiff
of gesture, rapacious of eye—likenesses caught unawares of people who
in their hearts prized power and wealth above all other things in this
life or the next.

I do not think any one Italian-born can feel much more than judicial
admiration of the severe early architecture, perfect though it be.
The sharp square outlines, the sulky red—that might be rosso antico,
so little has it yielded in tint or surface to the touch of Time,—all
this, to me, seems misplaced under the dreamy blue of the Italian sky.
Within the Churches the long aisles of double-storied arches cramp
the spaces where fancy might soar and prayer take wing. They make an
impression of narrowness, almost of Puritanism, that stifles emotion
and frowns at joy. Of course, all this is rank artistic heresy, or will
seem so to the crowd of submissive art experts who tumble over each
other in their haste to repeat the dictums of a few famous specialists;
but I fancy there are many simple-minded people who will agree with me,
all the same. It has always puzzled my own ignorance to understand how
anything so un-Italian as the early Byzantine style came to take root
and flower successfully on Italian soil. The radiant, light-flooded
climate does so much to soften and humanise the alien growth that it
buys its pardon for it in the end; but when some enthusiast, thrilled
with admiration for what he has seen basking in southern sunshine,
undertakes to reproduce it under the cold and lowering English skies,
its true character is shown at once. It is all too akin to them. One
escapes from the prison gloom of Westminster Cathedral to fly to the
Brompton Oratory and sink down in a corner and thank Heaven that St.
Philip Neri was a Roman, and that his sons and followers can still give
us Churches with big airy domes and broad smooth naves where the light
flows free, and transepts that open wide for worshippers and pool up
the blessed sunshine like any bay in the Mediterranean.

But there was one point on which Ravenna, in my day at least (for it
has suffered since then), yielded the palm to no Mediterranean port—the
stately forest of stone-pines that stood like troops at rest, for
miles along the shore. The stone-pine is always beautiful, whether as
a solitary, striking up, one shaft of grace and strength, against the
sky, or as in great companies sunk to the knees in the deep turfy mould
that their needles have piled below them in the course of centuries.
They grow thus in the South over many a green acre of villa land,
sheltering an unending profusion of the delicate wild flowers that
thrive in that rich soil. But for real forests of stone-pines you
must go further north and skirt the coast. There you will see them
in their glory, miles of them together, and, if you are quiet and
will listen, you will learn a great deal. For, like the sons of the
Prophets, they have secrets of their own that have never been shared
with other tribes, secrets that have only been confided to them, and
that is why the solitary pine is such a true solitary; he invites no
companions from the gregarious world around; towering and alone, he
seems to gaze at unseen horizons, to praise the Lord in the murmur of
the far-spreading branches that crown the fretted column of his stem;
as for Elijah on Mount Carmel, so for him the past and the present and
the future blend into one great chord of trusting acceptance that no
passing storms can shatter, no warm caress lure from its allegiance.

Have you, in some fleeting moment, caught the opening bars of an air
that has haunted you afterwards for years, and then been led to where
some great orchestra gave it to you in all its completeness? That was
what happened to me when I first stood in the “Pineta” of Viareggio
and heard the full-voiced chant of the pines and the sea. I realised
that they were part of one another, so to speak, that the whisper of
the villa pine in the South is an echo and a greeting, brought by the
wind from the family home in the North, where all the secrets of tree
music are guarded as in some jealous ancient academy—no outsiders are
ever privileged to carry them away! Psalms and marches and dirges, the
wild call of the Laga, the C Major of the “Te Deum,” the wail of the De
Profundis—the trees overhead and the surges on the shore will let you
hear it all, and once heard it can never be forgotten.

It seems strange that Viareggio, the most prosaic and unpicturesque
of all the Italian watering-places on the Ligurean shores, should
possess this wonder still in its perfection, while the sister forest
on the Adriatic side has been forsaken by the sea and devastated both
by fire and by the frosts of that terrible winter of 1878-1879. We
once abandoned Leghorn and went instead to Viareggio for our September
bathing—a great mistake, only made up to us by the drives through
the Pineta in the evenings. The discomforts and the ugliness of the
town have long since been forgotten—perhaps because the ups and downs
of existence have shown me far less bearable ones—and now the most
vivid recollection is that of the enchanted air and fragrances of the
Pineta. I think it will be so in the next life; if we win through
all right, we shall remember nothing of earth but its sweetnesses,
and the _very_ wise people refuse to look at anything else, even now!
The real philosophers, who are the real Saints, always seem to smile,
though sometimes it is through tears. And there is one queer thing
about tears—the people who have never wept don’t begin to know even
how to smile, much less how to laugh. I am always sorry and frightened
for them if they are nice good people, for we all have to pay our
little tribute to trouble, our tithe to humanity’s debt; some get it
spread all over a lifetime, some all in a moment, and these are the
spoiled ones of the nursery on whom I suppose long discipline might
have lain too heavily for their courage. I remember one startling case
that impressed me very deeply, that of a nice American family—father,
mother, and daughters twain—pleasant, harmless, good-looking people
with plenty of money and perfect health. I liked being with them,
though our views of life were severed as the Poles, mine reaching out
to the impossible and sensational (I was very young!), and theirs so
satisfied with the comfortable half lights of their own surroundings
that they simply could not imagine anything desirable beyond.

One day I gave voice to my curiosity. “Do tell me about yourself,
Mrs. ——,” I said to the mother. “You look just as young as your own
daughters. I don’t think you can ever have had a trouble!”

“I never have,” she replied, turning on me her mild, satisfied gaze.
“I cannot remember a single sorrow in all my life, not a death in
my family, not an hour’s sickness even, amongst us all. We have all,
_always_, had everything we could wish for.”

It was the first time I had ever heard any one say such a thing, and
I felt awe-struck and envious. A few months afterwards they all went
back to America, at least they started to go. Their ship went down
in mid-ocean, and the dear people reached home sooner than they had
expected. But, for that sharp short suffering, it is just possible that
life and its unending pleasantnesses might have made it hard for them
to get to Heaven at all.

There was more than mere fun in Thackeray’s tale of “The Rose and the
Ring.” When the Fairy Blackstick frowned at Prince Giglio and said,
“What you need, young man, is a little misfortune!” she asserted a most
obvious and irritating fact. But it has one delightful side to it—that
bitter draught that wise Doctor Fate insists on our taking from time
to time; the good things, even tiny little ones that we never noticed
before, do taste so wonderfully sweet afterwards!

But we were talking of shore forests. There is one, not of pine but
beeches, on the Adriatic, exactly opposite Naples on the Tyrrhenian
Sea.[13] Here a great promontory runs out towards the east, rising
into mountains which have caused the whole to be called the “Monte
Gargano,” though each peak has its own name besides. People call the
isolated district (which really belongs to the Province of Molise)
Manfredonia, from the name of its chief town, long a pet stronghold of
Suabian King Manfred, who founded and fortified it in the Thirteenth
Century. But Nature protected the Monte Gargano in another way and a
very effectual one. It was meant to be an island; on the western side
the Abruzzi shrinking back in the real mainland, and the Adriatic,
withdrawing slowly from the coast, have left a strip of land many miles
wide—flat, marshy, abominably feverish—as a kind of defensive trench to
cut off the Gargano promontory from the rest of Italy, and, as it were,
remind it for ever that by formation it does not belong to her at all,
but to the limestone plateau of Dalmatia, across the way. This vast
plain (for it stretches far and far past the promontory, towards the
south) refuses to nourish a single tree on the few feet of soil which
cover the mother-rock, but it provides such splendid food for sheep
that, since time immemorial, it has been given up to them. Alphonsus I
annexed it as a royal meadow in 1445, and imported his Spanish merinos
with such success that two hundred years later four and a half millions
of the beautiful creatures were herded by Neapolitan peasants on these
pastures. Even now, though only a scanty half million graze on them,
the sheep are lords and owners of all that ground. During the summer
they are led to the mountains, partly for their own sake, partly for
that of their keepers, who could not live in the miasma-haunted plains
in August and September. In crossing, even by train, the twenty-two
miles that separate Foggia from Manfredonia, the traveller is always
warned to close the carriage windows; but in October the sheep are all
driven back, and for weeks the three great roads that converge towards
the flats are just broad ribbons of dust, through which comes the
drumming of invisible millions of little hoofs. Along the edges of the
yellow cloud phantom figures of shepherds dressed in sheepskins take
shape at intervals and disappear again; and the dogs, dear faithful
things, fly round and herd up the stragglers and nip at the legs of
truants with the noisy joy that even long marches through the scorching
plains can never quite suppress.

From every point on those plains Monte Gargano can be seen, raising
its peaks against the blue, and clothed down to the very water’s edge
in magic beechwoods, homes of light and shadow and flickering gold,
musical with song, fragrant with wild flowers, and carpeted with the
rich mould that a thousand autumns have spread along its ways. Nothing
is ever disturbed on Monte Gargano. But for the sea and the fever-land,
the forest would long ago have been cut down, its riches dispersed,
its very site perhaps forgotten; but now all stands as it did from
the first, and winter and summer have their own way there, and the
herdsmen fold their cattle in the deep caves of the hills even as they
did fourteen hundred years ago, in the reign of the holy Pope, St.
Gelasius, when Heaven’s gates opened one May morning to let through a
flash of wings and the gleam of an Archangel’s sword, and the fairest
of Gargano’s peaks became Monte Sant’ Angelo.

And this was the way of it. While the rest of Italy was torn with the
struggles of rival barbarians, and desolated by the rapacity of men
like the Galla who drove his poor captives before him to the feet of
St. Benedict at Monte Cassino, the peasants of Monte Gargano, safe
in their isolation, lived as they live to-day, obscure, contented,
minding their own affairs—which are chiefly their own cattle—with all
their mind. In that wild place the cattle stray sometimes and it is
hard to find them again, and so it happened that on the 8th of May,
towards 493, or thereabouts, a young herdsman went climbing into the
hills with some companions to look for a valuable steer that he had
lost. Having wandered and searched for some time in vain, they were
feeling deeply discouraged, when they perceived the creature hopelessly
entangled in a thicket of briars at the entrance of a deep cavern. In
fear, or irritation, one of the pursuers drew his bow and let fly an
arrow at the animal, but, to the man’s amazement, the missile turned
in the air and struck him who had shot it. Terrified at this portent,
they all fled and did not stop till they reached the town of Sipontum,
far below, where they related what had happened to them. Fear fell
on the inhabitants, and no one had the courage to go and examine the
cavern, though all were consumed with curiosity to know what, or who,
it contained. In this dilemma they referred the case to their Bishop,
and he replied that he must lay the thing before the Lord, and ordained
three days of fasting and prayer for all the population, during which
they were to join him in begging that Heaven’s will in the matter might
be made clear.

And the petition was granted, for on the third day the great Archangel
Michael appeared to the Bishop and told him that the portent of the
returning arrow was intended to show that he wished to have a sanctuary
consecrated in that cave to the glory of God and in honour of the
Angels. So immediately the Bishop came forth and, gathering all the
people to him, led them, with prayers and chants, into the heart of
the hills to the mysterious cavern, and, entering in, they found it
hollowed out and disposed in the form of a Church, with all things
ready, so that the Bishop at once said Mass there; and from that hour
so many wonderful miracles took place on that spot that all men knew
certainly that it was greatly favoured by Heaven. And from that day to
this it has been a place of holy pilgrimage, where many sinners have
been converted, and many afflicted with terrible diseases cured.

The Church celebrates the Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel
on Monte Gargano on the 8th of May, but the feast of that spring
morning is not the only one in which she commemorates his glorious
interventions on her behalf. Far away in the North, another promontory,
strangely like that of Monte Gargano, once encircled by forests, too,
but now cut off from the land at each return of the tide, the Mont
Saint-Michel, stands as the last outpost of France, flinging defiance
at its twin peak across the water in Britain. There is something
strangely significant in the choice of these two points for the most
notable apparitions of the great Archangel, who commands the heavenly
hosts and watches with such sublime benignity over the destinies of
men. One in the North and one in the South, the great lonely rocks
rise sheer from the sea as if set apart as resting-places where the
glorious pinions might be folded for a while, and the effulgence of
the angelic countenance, too overwhelming for man to bear as it comes
straight from the Presence of God, a little tempered and veiled by
the mists of sorrowful earth. But one feels, too, that the purity of
the lonely rock, the brave song of the wind, the long roll of Atlantic
surge, and the chant of Adriatic billows were dear and welcome to the
Warrior Angel, who holds our world in his hands as the Creator’s chief
Minister, who carries out His mandates, chastising when he must, but
so tender to the contrite, so inspiring to the valiant, so royal in
protection to the oppressed!

Of all the peaks that bear his name through the length and breadth
of Europe none has been more signally his own than this one on the
coast of Brittany. The East has its own, in Phrygia, where also the
Archangel deigned to manifest his love for us poor mortals by his
visible presence, and where the marvel of that love is commemorated
under the title of “The Synax of Michael, Prince of the Army and of the
other Incorporeal Powers.” The Greeks always give such thunderously
full tides to their Friends in Heaven! But I am sure they cannot
honour their great protector half so heartily as he has been honoured
on the Mont Saint-Michel ever since he touched it and consecrated it
for all time, in the Eighth Century. The details that have come down
to us of that apparition are somewhat less full than those of the one
at Monte Gargano, but the subsequent history of the French Sanctuary,
which stood for just a thousand years as an impregnable fortress, is
connected, right through, with humanity as the lonely shrine of the
South has never been. Its name alone is like a war-cry—“Saint Michel
au Péril de la Mer”—St. Michael of the Peril of the Sea—and bespeaks
the invincible ally of the race that was once the ardent apostle of
Christianity and its most valiant champion. It was to St. Aubert that
the revelation came, when he was Bishop of Avranches, in the reign of
Childebert III. The Archangel appeared to him in his sleep, says the
Breviary, and bade him build a Church on the sentinel rock, round which
already many pious hermits were gathered to serve God in solitude. Now
St. Aubert was a man who reflected much before taking any new step,
and he hesitated so long that the Archangel had to repeat his visit
three times before he was obeyed—a great encouragement, this, to timid
souls!—but then the Saint went to work valiantly enough. The rock
was of a strange rounded shape, and he built on its summit a great
round Church, as closely resembling the holy cave at Monte Gargano as
possible. Then he sent to that place to fetch stones and relics from
it, all of which he set with great honour in the newer sanctuary;
and when all was done he established and endowed there a monastery
of twelve “holy clerks for the perpetual service of the Blessed
Archangel.” But Richard I, Duke of Normandy, wished still further to
honour St. Michael, so he sent away the clerks and established the
Benedictines in their place; and the fame of the Shrine and of the
many miracles performed there drew a great concourse of pilgrims from
all over the world, especially royal pilgrims, from England and Europe
generally, so that when the order of the Knights of St. Michael was
instituted, this was their Chapter House. By that time it was already
one of the most ancient and one of the few “maiden” fortresses of the
realm, and never, until the monarchy succumbed to the Revolution, did
a single foe to France succeed in setting foot within its walls. For a
thousand years, seven times a day, the praises of God had rang out from
it over the sea; for a thousand years the standard of France floated
stainless above its battlements. “Monsieur Saint-Michel, Archange,
premier Chevalier, qui pour la querelle de Dieu victorieusement
batailla contre le dragon” (it is thus that his titles are given in
the Institutes of the Order founded in 1469) took care of his own—till
France drove him away.



[1] Montalembert.

[2] Montalembert.

[3] This term requires explanation. The two great sins of the Church
in Gaul were first Simony, and secondly, the practice of admitting
unprepared laymen to Holy Orders and often to the Episcopate. This last
vice Gregory called “The heresy of Neophytes.”

[4] In a former volume I stated that Pius IX had for a short time
served in the Noble Guards. This was an error, for he never obtained
admittance, although I believe a portrait of him in the uniform was
extant in the earlier years of the Nineteenth Century. It may have
been altogether a “fake” or else taken to please his father when there
appeared to be some hope of the latter’s ambition being fulfilled.

[5] “Reminiscences of a Diplomatist’s Wife” (Dodd, Mead & Co.); “The
Looms of Time” (Isbister).

[6] The Islands, about a hundred in number, but most of them very
small, and uninhabited, have been the cause of sharp contention and
have changed hands several times since their discovery in 1592—France,
Spain, England, and the United States have variously claimed them.
Twice the matter has been decided by an Englishman’s landing and
running up the Union Jack. The last time this occurred was in 1833,
when, in the middle of the quarrel, Captain Falkland took possession of
them on his own responsibility. Great Britain has held them ever since
as one of her recognised colonies. They are self-governing and have
a population altogether of two thousand souls; the capital, Stanley,
claiming nearly half of the number.

[7] “A Popular Life of Pius IX,” Rev. Richard Brennan. (Benziger, 1877.)

[8] St. Peter the exorcist, martyred with the Priest Marcellinus, under
Diocletian. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass.

[9] “Le Pape Pie VII à Savone,” p. 83. H. Chatard. Plon, Nourrit et
Cie. (Paris, 1887.)

[10] “_Unchangeable principles_,”—unchangeable, that is to say, until,
of course, 1870, since when——!

[11] “Reminiscences of a Diplomatist’s Wife.”

[12] “Crimes Célèbres: Jeanne de Naples.”

[13] In our parlance all that it not the Adriatic is the Mediterranean,
but the Italians only give this name to the waters that separate
Italy and Spain from Africa, and differentiate the remainder as the
Ligurean Sea—in the Bay of Genoa, the Tyrrhenian that Rome and Naples
contemplate, and the Ionian, which washes up from Sicily under Italy’s
instep in the Gulf of Taranto.

Transcriber's Notes

Original spelling and punctuation have been preserved as much as
possible. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.

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