Page images
PDF
EPUB

Why, he looks on himself as the worst example, the Strozzi, the Baldi, the used man alive.

Rossi, the Brunelleschi, &c. " What have I done, great heavens ! to be

This mean gossip makes us blush, thus tortured ?".

not for Italian nobility but for human In the midst of his soliloquy he is in- Manhood – gentlemanhood — have

nature ; and we hang down our head. terrupted by the intrusion of Da Riva rights, privileges, and immunities, and Colonna, which of a certainty is

which cannot be seen rudely broken most inopportune.

in upon and tamely surrendered with“ We kiss your hands, courteous Signor out shame; and he who submits to Francesco.”

such violation in his own person, is And then they set on to vex, tease, ruf. felt to be without sex. The usages of fle, fret, and banter him in a style that society, when founded on permanent may be consistent with the manners principles in humanity, are almost as of Italy during the Pontificate of Leo sacred as a regard to the highest the Tenth, but which on the score of moral law-for they are essential; nature, as she shows herself in this our and if set at nought, civilized men island, we cannot stomach. Colonna, would relapse into savages, or become an absolute stranger, tells him bluffly, beasts. 66 Patient merit of the un. that there is a vile talk all over the worthy takes many sligbts, and town of bis jealousy and cruelty--that heeds them not, nor thereby is de“ The theme is constant, both in court and

graded; but ent demerit of market-place,

the worthy takes” no insults without That you're a very tyrant;"

retort or revenge. However, this is while Da Riva scoffingly pretends from the principle of “non-intrusion

clear, that between man and wife, that 'tis all a foolish fiction, and that

there are few dissenters. All Chris. they laughed the absurdity out of coun

tians are orthodox on that article tenance ; but that they had no sooner done so, than twenty absurd grave

and kicking, in all cases, is the creed faces were seen going about, big with

-not in theory only, but in practice,

from count to coalheaver. wonder, and that to laugh thein all down was beyond the power of human

This unseemly and unnatural scene cachinnation. All this, and much more

is closed by Colonna handing Agoin his own buuse-to a noble Flo- has all along had in his pocket, and

lanti a letter from Antonio, which he rentine

on the strength of which poet and “ With a bold brow, large brain, and libe- soldier have been so complimentary ral hand.”

to his conjugal virtues. It runs thus: True, they are indignant and disgusted -“If Signor Agolanti values his

" with his brutal conduct to Ginevra, wife's peace and life, he will meet the beloved of their friend Antonio, the writer of this letter instantly, who and they care not how insultingly they will wait for him, an hour from the behave to the wicked tyrant, who is receipt of it, in the wood near the murdering her by inches ; for our gate, by the roadside leading to own parts we are only sorry they did Cortona.-ANTONIO RONDINELLI."not cudgel him to death. But how can Agolanti now knows, for the first Agolanti stand all this ? Why did he time, that his agreeable visiters are not try to kick them down stairs ? So friends of the man he most fears, and far from entertaining that idea, even thinks hesmells a league--a conspiracy. for a moment, he absolutely makes Well may he exclaim_" This beats an apology to them,

all boldness; but he wears a sword, " Pardon me I'm distractedI'm not and accepts the appointment. An myself,"

ugly customer is waiting for him in

the wood. -begs them to believe that the stories abroad of his cruelty to his wife are

Rond. My bosom is so full, my heart exaggerations-- a lie of Giulio's

wants air; " A lie

It fears even want of utterance ; fears the A boy's lie,-a turn'd-off servant's lie;

For very loathing ; fears his horrible sight, and then asserts strenuously that his His lawless claim of lawfulness ; and feels is not a worse misery than what may

Shame at his poisonous want of shame and be found in many other families--for manhood."

[ocr errors]

man

Cous cause.

a

scene.

The meeting at first is manly and wrong box? As for any fear about his gentlemanly ; and the altercation is wife's life, nothing of the sort brought conducted throughout with great him there-he could not brook, base force and spirit. It is dramatic; as he was, to be so bullied by these and must be effective in representa- gents.-- his resolution was, once for all, tion. The case is for a time well to put down such annoyances ; so he argued on both sides; and as Ano went to the wood without trepidation, tonio believes Ginevra to be dying, and faced Antonio boldly—but bold. and desires but to save her life, he ness in a bad cause will not carry a possesses a privilege that assuredly man through-indignities not count. could in nowise belong to Da Riva and ed npon he cannot avert, and ineffec. Colonna ; and, sympathizing with his tually returns--and he protracts a griefand his indignation, weare carried “ flytin,” in which he had expected to along with his remonstrances, and be victor, for some time after he must even with hisobjurgations; and though have been conscious that he was fast somewhat disturbed by his want of experiencing a disgraceful defeat. judgment, we more than pardon his But what shall we say of the part zeal, impassioned as he is, in a right played by Antonio in all this? With

The parties become ex- every allowance for his exasperated asperated past all bearing, and assail feelings, he ought to have been more one another with every epithet of considerate. For the sake of Ginevra, scorn and rage-eavesdropper-con- was it wise-or was it not foolish-to sulting doctor-beggar-impostor- seek to win Agolanti to reflect on the coward_hands are on hilts, and the fate of his poor wife, to treat her with men are in attitude for the duello. some humanity, and to call in medical

But let us consider with ourselves aid, by goading him to madness till he what may be said in defence of this absolutely roared like a bull ? We do

Antonio is in the right, Ago. not demand of him that he should lanti is in the wrong ; and that is a have been as calm as a Quaker: but he great matter. The one is a good, the had the strongest reasons a man could other is a bad man; and that is every bave for preserving perfect self-possesthing. Both by birth are gentlemen; sion. The good that might possibly be but Antonio is one of the aristocracy done to Ginevra, we must think,should of nature-Agolanti a plebeian of the have actuated and controlled him in a lowest grade. The husband has not conference with her lord and master, an inch of firm ground for his big toe of his own seeking, and for that sole -the lover stands with both feet end; whereas he is really as selfish in planted on a rock. Wanting presence his own way as that cruel egoist, and of mind promptly to repel the first in the indulgence of his own hate, is affront, and shut his accuser's mouth not false, but, what is almost as bad, with his fist or sword-hilt-if not with forgetful -- ceases to plead the cause of the rapier's point sent home to the the sufferer from rage towards the heart--the husband, once involved in criminal, and does all in his power to a war of words, has no chance either send the monster back to his villa, in at out or in fighting-his blows, how- a tempest of fury, to wreak his vencver dexterously delivered, hit but his

gence on his dying wife. antagonist's brisket; but he receives And what is the argument on which on the kidneys and on the jugular, till Antonio mainly insists to induce finally losing all temper, wild and ex- Agolanti to be not so barbarous to posed, he drops his guard, gives his Ginevra ? head--the punishment then becomes terrible, and it would have been high

Rond. Mark me, impostor. Let that

saint be worse time, had they been present, for his friends to take him out of the ring.

By one hair's-breadth of sickness, and you

take Or shall we say, rather, that hold.

No step to show that you would have preing possession to be nine points of the vented it, law, Agolanti came to the spot to

And every soul in Florence, from the beggar enjoy Antonio's misery in his re- Up to the princely sacredness now coming, proaches—the merciless husband to Shall be loud on you, and loathe you. Boys scorn the pitiful lover—and that not

shall follow you, till he began to find the tables turning, Plucking your shuddering skirts ; women did he discover himself to be in the forego,

а

was

For woman's sake, their bashfulness, and Ago. (uncovering.) Infamy thou, to speak

treat thus ruffianly Words at you, as you pass: old friends A mute-struck sorrow. not know you;

Rond. O God! to hear him talk! Enemies meet you, friend-like; and when, To hear him talk and know that he has for shame,

slain her! You shut yourselves in-doors, and take to Bear witness you—you of his household your bed,

you And die of this world by day, and the next That knew him best, and what a poison he

by night, The nurse, that makes a penny of your He has slain her. What you all fear'd pillow,

would be, has come, And would desire you gone but your And the mild thread that held her heart is groans pay her,

broken. Shall turn from the last agony in your Ago. (going off with the Servants.) throat,

Pietro, I say, and Giotto! away! away! And count her wages !

[Exit with Servants. The unhappy man had been pretty

Rond. Ay, ay; to justice with him!

Whither with me? [Exeunt opposite. plainly told of something like this before by Riva and Colonna. True that

This is all excellent. Agolanti and Agolanti is throughout represented

Antonio receive the sudden blow, very sensitive to public opinion ; and

each according to his own nature. an appeal might have been earnestly and judiciously made to such disposi- the one, in his selfishness, has no deep

Neither of them is overwhelmed; for tion, not perhaps without avail, in behalf of his victim: But so far from

feeling, and the other had familiarized

his heart with fears of Ginevra's death. enlisting this worthless but not weak

Grief and anger are not incompatible ally, by a bribe, on the side of pity, An

-bear witness Hamlet and Laertes tonio turns it against the sufferer. His throttling one another in Ophelia's threats of exposure are so cutting and contumelious, that no man of woman

grave. So Antonio rages against

Agolanti, even while his heart must born could feel them whistling about his ears without flinging them off in de- nevra's death - and hateful to his

be ready to die within him at Gifiance; and Agolanti was just the man, and Antonio must have known it, to

eyes is the living body of him who take shelter from the images of shame natural that he should look with loath

made her a corpse. Therefore it was conjured up to appal him, in a more devilish determination of the will to

ing and abhorrence on the head of the

murderer, not uncovered at the sound adhere to his cruelty, with him at once an inveterate habit and a hungry

of that passing bell. The wretch had passion.

pretended to be pious-had assumed

the show of religion of which he could Enter Servants in disorder.

have had no sense; and, while formal First Serv. My lady, sir.

in the worship of God, had been efficient Ago. What of her!

in the murder of his fairest creature. Serv.

Sir, she is dead.

“ Irreverent infamy!" was therefore, Ago. Thou say'st what cannot be. A from Antonio's wounded spirit at such hundred times

a sight, a holy outcry, and he was justiI've seen her worse than she is now. Rond.

fied in praying, even to the saints, that Oh horror!

it might wring from the hard heart of To hear such words, knowing the end ! Oh dreadful !

the hypocrite a few black drops of

blood.
But is it true, good fellow? Thou art a man,
And hast moist eyes.
Say that they served

So is Agolanti's deprecation charthee dimly:

acteristic of the man. Doubtless he Serv. Hark, sir.

was conscience-stricken at his servant's [The passing bell is heard. They all words ; but his soul was incapable of take off their caps except Ago

a sacred anguish, and he was mute

not for her sake but his Rond. She's gone ; and I am alone.

Had it been otherwise, he who had Earth's blank

all his life observed the ceremonial of Misery certain. The cause, alas! the cause ! the Church, had infallibly uncovered

[Passionately to AGOLANTI. his head at the passing bell. Love Uncover thee, irreverent infamy!

and religion, when both sincere, obey

LANTI.

own.

[ocr errors]

the same impulse ; and reverencing, If honourable wealth and sacred friends instinctively and habitually, the same Can shield it from mad envy; and if I err'd holy usages, by them such omission Sometimes as husband, she I loved err'd is as impossible as violation, and more, equally would be felt as sacrilege. With spirit so swelling as outstrain'd her The First Scene of the Fourth Act

life. is very beautiful ; and, till it is broken Oh, every man's infirmities, more or less,

Mix with his love ; and they who in excess in upon by the bewilderment of appearances betokening life-in-death, Feel not all passions, felt not love like mine,

Nor knew what worlds, when my despair full of a sad repose. Diana's descrip

seem’d angriest, tion of Ginevra laid out for the bier

I could have given for one, for but one look you have read; and there is something

Of sure and heartfelt pity in her eyes. at once characteristic and touching in

But she is gone; and for whate'er I did what she and Olympia say to one

Not well, I have humbled me to the God of another of the divine power of music,

power; while hearkening to the Miserere

And given the shrine, near which her dust Hymn of the choristers. 'Twas to is laid, have been a joyous week-with

New glorious beams of paintings and of gold, maskers, and serenades, and tour. Doubling its heaven to the white angelical nament; and Ginevra, had Agolanti

tapers; allowed, was to have surveyed the For which, they say, the sovereign Holiness spectacle from windows now blind ! Himselt will thank me. And yet,—thus, Farewell, sweet soul ! death and thy pa

even thus,

I feel,-a shudderer at the very silence, tient life Have so well match'd, I scarce could think

Which seems preparing me some angriness.

I'll close the window;'and rouse Ippolito thee alter'd.”

To read to me in some religious book. Fiordilisa had noted appearances all [Going towards the window, he stops night about the lips, and feared that

and listens. her lady might be but in a trance ; What was it ? a step ? a voice ? and Giulio, under direction of Da Gin. (is heard outside) Agolanti ! Riva, visits the vault, but no Gine- Francesco Agolanii ! husband ! vra is there. She has indeed arisen Ago. (crossing himself and moving from the dead, and is wandering all

towards the window) It draws me, alone by herself in her grave clothes, lo horror, to look on it.—Oh God! I see through the midnight, along the silent

it! and the noisy streets.

There is something there-standing in the

moonlight. SCENE III.

Gin. Come forth, and help me in-Oh A Room in AGOLANTI'S House in Flo

help me in ! AGOLANTI discovered looking Ago. It speaks ! (very loudly.) I canout of an open windaw, and then quit- not bear the dreadfulness ! ting it. Sound of lutes in the distance. The horror's in my throat, my hair, my

brain ! Ago. That sound of homeward lutes which Detestable thing! witch ! mockery of the

bless'd! Out of my restless bed, to feel companion'd Hide thee! Be nothing ! Come heaven and with

earth betwixt us! For some few passing moments, was the last [He closes the shutters in a frenzy, and To-night in Florence. Not a footstep more then rushes apart. Touches the sleeping streets ; that now seem Oh God! a little life ;---a little reason; witch'd

Till I reach the arms of the living. - IppoWith the same fears that walk around me lito ! still,

Tonio! Giuseppe ! Lights ! Wake Father Ready to greet me with unbearable eyes.

Angelo !

[He staggers out. All air seems whispering of me ; and things visible

SCENE IV. Take meaning in their shapes, not safe to A retired corner in Florence, in front of know.

Rondinelli's House, with GardenOh, that a masculine and religious soul wall and Trees. RONDINELLI out of Should be thus feeble !

And why? what doors, musing. should I fear ?

Rond. A gentle night, clothed with the My name has worship still; and still will moon and silence. have it,

Blessed be God, who lets us see the stars ;

rence.

I arose

Who puts no black and sightless gulf be- Oh cheek, whose tears have been with mine tween

- She'll die ! Those golden gazers out of immensity, She'll die, and I shall have kill'd her ! And mortal eyes, yearning with hope and Gin. (sliding down on her knees.) love !

Strength has risen o'er me from the She's now a blessed spirit beyond those

depths of weakness. lights,

Oh, Signor Rondinelli ! Oh, good Antonio, With happy eternal cheek.

And yet, me- Be all I think thee, and think not ill of me; thinks,

Nor let me pass thy threshold, having a fear Serious as well as sweet is bliss in heaven, Of the world's speech, to stain a spotless And permits pity for those that are left

misery. mourning.

Rond. Oh rise ; and when I think Gentle is greatest and habitual pature !

that thou canst stand Gentle the starry space ! gentle the air ! Unhelp'd of these most glad but reverent Gentle the softly ever-moving trees !

arms, Gentle time past and future ! both asleep, Aloof will I wait from thee, as far apart While the quick present is loud by daylight As now I closely grasp'd thee. I was mad, only.

And am, with joy, to find thee alive, and And gently I come to nature, to be worthy

near me ; Of comfort and of her, and mix myself But, oh, blust creature ! Oh, lady! AnWith the everlasting mildness in which she tonio's angel ! Jives.

Say but the word--doand I love thee so, Sweetest and best! my couch a widower That after thou hast tasted food and wine, seems,

Myself will bear thee to thy house, thy Although it knew thee not; and I came forth husband, To join thee as I could; for thou and I

Laying a heav'n on his repentant heart. Are thus unhoused alike, and in no home. Gin. Never. The grave itself has been The wide earth holds us both.

between us ; [Ginevra enters, and halts apart, The hand of Heaven has parted us, acknowlooking at him.

ledged Gin. Antonio!

By his own driving me from his shrieking Rond. Ob, earth and heaven! What doors : art thou ?

And none but thy door, and a convent's Gin. Fear not to look on me. Antonio !

now, I am Ginevra-buried, but not dead,

To which thy honourable haste will guide And have got forth and none will let me in.

me, Even my mother is frighten'd at my voice, Shall open to me in this world again. And I have wander'd to thy gentle dours. Shelter me till the morn.

Thou hast a Have pity on me, good Antonin,

mother? And take me from the dreadful streets at Rond. Blessed be Heav'n, I have ;-a night.

right good motherRond. Oh, Heaven ! Oh all things Gentle, and strong, and pious. She will be terrible and beautiful !

yours, Art thou not angel, showing me some dread So long as our poor walls boast of inclosing sight

you, Of trial and reproof? Or art thou indeed And instantly.

You scarcely shall have set Still living, and may that hand be touch'd Your foot in the house, but with religious with mine?

joy [She has held out her hand to him. She will arise, and take you to her bed, Gin. Clasp it, and help me towards thy And make a child of you, lady, till you sleep. door ; for wouder,

Gin. Blessed be Heav'n indeed. And fear, and that long deadly swoon, have walk strangely. made

[Exeunt. Me too a terror to myself, and scarcely I know how I stand thus.

It is not to point out the many exRond. (moving slowly, but eagerly, quisite beauties in these scenes—for and breathless towards her.) Lotold that, surely, would be needless with

I can

such readers as ours-that we desire Infold us, pight and time, if it be vision ! here to say a few words; but merely If not-if not

to satisfy our own feelings of gratitude [He touches her hand, and clasps her to the poet. The soliloquies of Agoto his heart.

lanti and Antonio are, respectively, It is Ginevra's self,

true to nature, and most characterisAnd in Antonio's arms 1- She faints! Oh, tic of the men False and ho lowbosweetest !

the sentiment in the one-as he

us, air !

« PreviousContinue »