Fell on that fatal spot, to wish thee dead,
170 THE TOKEN.
To track him by his blood, to search, to find,
Then fling thee down to catch a word, a look,
A sigh, if yet thou couldst (alas ! thou couldst
And die, unseen, unthought of from the wound
Sucking the poison.
Yet when slavery came,
Worse followed. Genius, Valor left the land,
Indignant all that had from age to age
Adorned, ennobled , and headlong they fell,
Tyrant and slave. For deeds of violence,
Done in broad day and more than half redeemed
By many a great and generous sacrifice
Of self to others, came the unpledged bowl,
The stab of the stiletto. Gliding by
Unnoticed, in slouched hat and muffling cloak,
That just discovered, Caravaggio-like,
A swarthy cheek, black brow, and eye of flame
The bravo stole, and o er the shoulder plunged
To the heart s core, or from beneath the ribs
Slanting (a surer path, as some averred)
Struck upward then slunk off, or, if pursued,
Made for the sanctuary, and there along
The glimmering aisle among the worshippers
Wandered with restless step and jealous look,
Dropping thick blood. Misnamed to lull alarm,
In every palace was The Laboratory,
Where he within brewed poisons swift and slow,
That scattered terror till all things seemed poison
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLO HENCE. 171
And brave men trembled if a band held out
A nosegav or a letter ; while the great
Drank only from the Venice-glass, that broke,
That shivered, scattering round it as in scorn,
If aught malignant, aught of thine was there,
Cruel TOPHANA ; and pawned provinces
For that miraculous gem, the gem that gave
A sign infallible of coming ill,
That clouded though the vehicle of death
Were an invisible perfume. Happy then
The guest to whom at sleeping-time twas said,
But in an under voice (a lady s page
Speaks in no louder), " Pass not on. That door
Leads to another which awaits thy coming,
One in the floor now left, alas ! unlocked.
No eye detects it lying under-foot,
Just as thou enterest, at the threshold-stone ;
Heady to fall and plunge thee into night
And long oblivion ! " In that evil hour
Where lurked not danger ? Through the fairy
No seat of pleasure glittering half-way down,
No hunting-place but with some damning spot
That will not be washed out ! There, at Caiano,
Where, when the hawks were mewed and evening
PULCI would set the table in a roar
With his wild lay there, where the sun de
172 THE TOKEN.
And hill and dale are lost, veiled with his beams,
The fair Venetian died, she and her lord
Died of a posset drugged by him who sate
And saw them suffer, flinging back the charge ;
The murderer on the murdered. sobs of grief,
Sounds inarticulate . . suddenly stopt,
And followed by a struggle and a gasp,
A gasp in death, are heard yet in Cerreto,
Along the marble halls and staircases,
Nightly at twelve ; and, at the self-same hour,
Shrieks, such as penetrate the inmost soul,
Such as awake the innocent babe to long,
Long wailing, echo through the emptiness
Of that old den far up among the hills,
Frowning on him who comes from Pietra-Mala :
In them, alas ! within five days and less,
Two unsuspecting victims, passing fair,
Welcomed with kisses, and slain cruelly,
One with the knife, one with the fatal noose.
But, lo ! the sun is setting ; earth and sky
One blaze of glory. What we saw but now,
As though it were not, though it had not been !
He lingers yet ; and, lessening to a point,
Shines like the eye of Heaven then withdraws ;
And from the zenith to the utmost skirts
All is celestial red ! The hour is come
When they that sail along the distant seas
Languish for home ; and they that in the morn
Said to sweet friends "farewell" melt as at part
THE CAMPAGNA OF FLORENCE. 173
When, just gone forth, the pilgrim, if he hears,
As now we hear it, wandering round the hill,
The bell that seems to mourn the dying day,
Slackens his pace and sighs, and those he loved
Loves more than ever. But who feels it not ?
And well may we, for we are far away.
BY THE HON. MRS. ERSKINE NORTON
Fearful, and horrible, and dear thou art;
Both heaven and hell are in thee!
GARCIO LOREZANO, a nobleman, senator and
councillor of Venice, in her most palmy days, was
seated with his daughter, the young and beautiful
Antonia, on a fair summer s eve, beneath a gar
landed bower, in the garden of his magnificent man
sion at Venice.
Lorezano had married late : he was now an old
man, but the winter of his life though " frosty, was
kindly ; " his hairs were few and white, but his
keen eye yet flashed with intellectual vigor, and
untamable spirit. In Venice he was esteemed and
Antonia, in consequence of the early death of
her mother, had been brought up by that mother s
widowed and childless sister, living in retirement at
a short distance from Venice, and whose small cir
cle of society included only the most noble or the
most gifted. Antonia had but lately arrived in
ECAJST sir COST
CLAUDE EOVANI. 175
Venice to take her station at the head of her
father s house, his only child and representative,
and sole heir to his great wealth. Numberless
suitors, among whom was included a son of the Doge,
had become competitors for her hand ; but Antonia
herself had hitherto shown no preference, and her
father seemed in no hurry to part from her : their
position appeared and indeed was, an enviable one,
although a thorn (as usual) lurked beneath the full
blown rose of their happiness. On that thorn their
" Plead not for him ! " continued the old man ;
" plead not for him, Antonia ! not even from you
will I listen to a word of mediation ; although he be
the son of my sister, my only and beloved sister, he
is an alien to my house and heart for ever. I would
not no, as I am a true Venetian, I would not
stretch out this arm to save him, although I saw
him, where you are now, at my feet, and perishing
with want no, though he spoke with my sister s
voice, and looked with her eyes ! A ruined gam
" His fortune," gently interposed Antonia, " was
not large, and he was imposed upon by evil and de
" A midnight brawler, committing murder in our
" He killed, in a fair fight, the false friend who
had deceived and robbed him ; unhappily the
176 THE TOKEN.
traitor belonged to the most powerful family of
" And then to herd with the scum of the earth,
and turn his puny arms against the land that bore
him ! "
" He was exiled, he thought unjustly ; he de
manded his remaining property, it was refused : des
pair has driven him to his present course."
" And let despair be his portion, in this world at
least ! Time might have seared over his first offen
ces, and restored him to his country ; but to raise a
finger against Venice ! to look at her even with a
menace on his brow ! girl, his death is but a poor
retribution ! "
" It seems he wishes for death ; he prefers it to
exile. Remember Jacob Foscari ! the sternest of
our patriots cannot deny a sigh to his memory.
my father ! you are too severe ; there is neither mer
cy nor justice in all this/
" Indeed ! and what is it you wish ? what
would you have me do ? "
Antonia, deceived by the veiled irony of her fa
ther s manner, earnestly replied : " Let him have a
word of hope and sympathy from us ; let him have
the means of entering some foreign service according
to his rank. I will vouch for Claude Rovani that he
will soon make Venice proud of her discarded son,
and eager to receive and pardon him. Do this, my
father ! "
CLAUDE ROVANI. 177
There was a pause ; at length the old man
" Is it my child, my only child, who would bring
dishonor on her father s gray hairs, by drawing him
into a secret and friendly communication with an
outlawed traitor ? Is it my only child who would
expose my few remaining days to danger for the
sake of a worthless and ungrateful boy ? "
" My father, forbear I beseech you ! " exclaimed
the horror-struck Antonia. " It is not thus I mean
it you know I do not ; what might be done, I
thought could be done in all safety and honor."
" Neither in safety nor in honor, Antonia." Then
looking at her suspiciously, he added : " How long
is it since you have seen your cousin ? "
" Three years, my lord, this very day. He had
spent some weeks at my aunt s, and left us for Yen-
ice ; six months afterwards he was banished/
" During those six months did he write to you ? "
" Frequently ; you have seen some of his letters."
" And did your aunt see them all ? "
" Yes, signor," replied Antonia, with a look of
" Let me consider," continued her father ; " three
years since you were then but thirteen a mere
child. Is your recollection of your cousin very
strong ? "
" Oh, I think I see him now ! with an eye like
an eagle s, and the step of a bounding deer ; a brow
178 THE TOKEN.
open and manly, as your own. He resembled you,
my father, especially when he frowned and smiled;
and (I must say it, because I am sure of it) he loved
and reverenced you as I do. Then, too, with all
his life, courage, and intellect, with all his careless
boldness, and buoyant spirits, how respectful to our
aunt ! how mindful of her comfort ! how patient with
her infirmities ! but to me oh ! to me " (Antonia
burst into tears) " My poor cousin ! my dear, dear
Claude ! "
Her father rose and stood erect before her : " An
tonia ! " she looked up : " this is the first time the
name of the recreant Kovani, since his proscription,
has passed between us : mark me ! it must be the
last. I am willing to believe thee misled by thy
youth and natural goodness thus far to have inno
cently pleaded for the unworthy, but I warn thee,
tempt me no further ! Thou deemest me severe to
my sister s child ; thou hast yet to learn that it is in
niy nature to be as severe to my own, should justice
and the safety of my country require it. In Rovani
I acknowledge but a traitor a reckless, bold, de
signing traitor, destroying the peace and security of
Venice : for, know, that within these few days our
capital is filled with his emissaries ; no individual or
family is safe ; the blow falls in the dark, and in the
night on the land and on the water in the private
chamber, and in the public walk ; placards are post
ed up by invisible hands., proclaiming that the dag-
CLAUDE KOVANI. 179
ger shall not be sheathed until all who voted for the
banishment of Claude Rovani are no more. And
will he stop there ? You look terrified, Antonia ;
you were not aware to what a head this evil has aris
en. I have shielded you from the knowledge of it ;
but I now think it right to tell you all to tell you
that Venice harbors in her bosom a nest of vipers,
warmed into life by the treacherous and revengeful
Rovani, and that the government, secret and power
ful as it is, has hitherto striven in vain to crush, or
even to trace them. I did not vote for the banish
ment of the offender, being unfortunately absent at
the time ; but on my return, I publicly approved
of the sentence. Nevertheless, rest assured that the
government at this crisis will have its eye upon us.
Be on your guard, Antonia ; not only suppress, but
change your sentiments ; let not his name be breath
ed with an accent of pity, even in the most secret
recesses of your chamber ; drive him not only from
your heart, but from your memory : your cousin
Claude is dead ; it is the traitor Rovani alone that
lives ; therefore, think only of what is due to your
country, to your father, and to yourself ! " The old
man turned away, and slowly disappeared.
Antonia remained with her eyes still intently
raised to where her father had stood, motionless with
astonishment, grief, and fear ; she struggled, how
ever, with the stupor that was creeping over her ; her
180 THE TOKEJS.
head dropped upon her knee, and a deep sigh escap
" I wish I could weep ! "
" Weep not, Antonia ! " whispered a voice close
to her ear. She would have sprung from her seat,
but an arm thrown around her waist retained her ;
a muffled form knelt beside her ; the head was part
ly revealed, the face almost touched her own, and
the eyes seemed " to ride upon the balls of hers/
The extremity of the shock saved her from insensi
bility, and she exclaimed, " Claude Kovani ! "
" Tis he the recreant, the traitor, the condemn
ed of all save of thee. I thank and bless thee, An
tonia ! Thou hast pleaded for me as an angel pleads,
although in vain. Nay, struggle not to escape ; I
claim but a few moments listen to me ! "
" I must not I dare not ! " then clasping her
hands she added ; " Claude, what hast thou
done ? "
" I have done that which the meanest of the cre
ation will do, when crushed and trod upon. I have
turned upon my enemies ay, and I will not leave
my hold until I have made a wound as deep and as
immedicable in the heart of Venice as she has made
A thought darted into the mind of Antonia,
which for an instant chilled her with horror : she
started up ; " Speak, Rovani ! wherefore art thou
CLAUDE ROVANI. 181
here concealed and listening ? My father ? ha ! is
he not safe ? darest them with sacrilegious hand "
" I came not to destroy, but to save thy father,
by a word of warning to thee." He then again ap
proached, and whispered : " Beware he go not to
the council this night ! For thy sake he is saved ;
and in spite of all that he has done, or may do, in
his unjust and bloodthirsty wrath against his sister s
son, he is the father of Antonia, and as such is sa
cred sacred, so long as thou betrayest not the hint
I give thee ; a betrayal would doom him to death,
and not save those already doomed. Dost mark me,
Antonia ? "
" horrible ! " she exclaimed, covering her face
with her hands.
" And is it with horror alone thou wilt think of
me ? " he retorted mournfully.
"Not so," replied Antonia, more in fear than in
truth, " thou savest my father."
" Tis well ; my time is more than out ; farewell,
my beautiful cousin. I marvel riot at thy crowd of
suitors ; but wed not with the Doge s son, and some
times think of one, who, under happier auspices,
would have loved and cherished thee in his heart s
core ; farewell ! " He snatched her in his arms,
pressed his lips to hers, and as suddenly releasing
her, turned, and plunging into the thickly-planted
What a change had a single hour wrought in the
182 THE TOKEN.
feelings and fate of Antonia ! What would she not
have given to recall the careless happiness with
which, at the commencement of this luckless hour ?
she had sat at the feet of her father, caressing him,
smiling on the lovely and animated scene around
her, or striking the chords of her lute, in the mere
fulness of unreproved enjoyment ! And now the
shades of night, that were chasing the lovely, though
short-lived twilight, and enveloping in darkness all
that was of late so bright and beautiful, fell not
more suddenly, or more heavily, than the gloom of
despondency, self-reproach, and evil forebodings, on
the young heart of Antonia.
" Signora ! where is the signora ? " Antonia
started, for even the well-known voice of her favor
ite attendant Lucilla, filled her with apprehension.
" Signora Antonia ! " cried out the girl, in a voice
of greater alarm, advancing hastily towards the bow
er. " Now the saints defend us ! Signora, what do
you here at this late hour, when the dews are fall
ing ? and all alone too ! and why have you not an
swered me ? I declare I feel quite frightened."
" I am not well, Lucilla ; get me home, and in
bed as soon as you can." It was too dark to see
her mistress clearly ; but Lucilla felt that her hands
were cold, that she trembled from head to foot, and
that she was scarcely able to walk ; she supported
her home with abundance of exclamations and inter
rogations, to which Antonia made no reply. On
CLAUDE ROVANI. 183
reaching her chamber, Lucilla perceived that her
young mistress had all the appearance of sudden ill
ness ; and having assisted her to undress, and to
place her in bed, left her as she desired, to request
the attendance of her father.
" Alas ! " exclaimed Antonia when alone ; " how
shall I be able to support his presence, to receive his
tenderness and pity, with the image of the forbidden
Eovani at my heart, and his kiss upon my lip ! I
have a secret to hide, a part to play, an object to at
tain ! Into what a mesh of difficulties am I already
entangled ! "
Her father came hastily, reproaching himself as
the cause of her illness. The domestic physician
was called, and gave it as his opinion that some
shock on the nerves had been received, and that the
utmost quiet, rest, and composure were requisite.
In pursuance cf the first scheme of deception she had
ever practised, Antonia pretended to be more unwell
than she really was.
"It is ten o clock," whispered her father; "I
must leave you for an hour or two to attend the
council." Without opening her eyes, she folded her
father s hand in hers. " Not to-night, dearest father,
not to-night ! "
" The council, my child, will soon break up ;
there will be nothing very important ; the leading
measures were decided on last night."
" You can therefore the more easily stay with
1 84 THE TOKEN.
me : do not leave me ! " She clung to him ; and
the tremulous movement of her frame recommenced,
appearing to threaten convulsion.
"Can it be," thought her father, "that the
mere conversation with me on the subject of her
degenerate kinsman produces this lamentable effect,
or is there some other cause ? " Vague suspicions
darted into his mind ; but to question her was
impossible, and he remained by her, despatching a
messenger to the council stating the reason of his
Having her father s word, which she knew to be
inviolable, that he would not attend the council,
she at last consented to take the composing medicine
the physician had prescribed, and soon after sank to
rest, with her father s hand fast locked in hers.
At one o clock in the morning Lorezano was pre
paring to retire to his own room, feeling quite reas
sured by the tranquil and unbroken sleep of his
child, when he was arrested by a buzz and murmur
in the streets, accompanied by the quick, steady step
of the armed police ; presently there was a loud
knocking at his gate ; his household were immedi
ately roused, and he himself proceeded to the outer
court, where he was met by two of the council, his
most intimate friends.
" Sad work, Lorezano ! three of our number "
(repeating the names) " are wounded to death, at
the breaking up of the council, within the palace
CLAUDE EOVANI. 185
gates ; hark ! the tocsin ! the whole city is getting
on foot ; the palace and its precincts are under the
strictest search, and we have run here to beg of you
to show yourself and assist, for your name has been
mentioned suspiciously, your absence from the
council (a circumstance so rare) on this eventful
night, has been remarked."
" 1 will go with you instantly," exclaimed the
old senator ; " bring me my sword, and God grant
me occasion and power to use it, although it be
against my own degenerate flesh and blood ! But
come first with me, signers, you shall see my sick
child whom I could not leave." They accompanied
him to the chamber of Antonia, by whom, with
Lucilla, sat the physician, fearful of her being
awaked by this sudden clamor ; but, although with
cheeks and lips as white as the linen that enshrouded
her, and breathing short and unequally, she still
slept. The senators, with a view to the defence of
their friend, asked a few questions of the physician
and were quite satisfied. Lorezano gently kissed
his daughter s brow, and departed with them.
Lucilla, who had sat up during the night, now
at the physician s desire, resigned her post to an
other. On her way to her chamber she was accost
ed by her aspirante Pietro, a confidential sort of clerk
and treasurer, clever, plausible, and artful.
The fellow proceeded by a series of shrewdly put
questions to elicit from his weak and unsupecting
186 THE TOKEN.
auditor, sufficient to convince him that an interview
had recently taken place between Antonia and
Kovani ; and persuaded her, for the sake, as he
alleged, of guarding her young mistress from the
consequences of so dangerous a connection, to con
cur with him in a system of espionage, and to com
municate to him, from time to time, any circumstan
ces bearing on the subject, which might come under
Lorezano had enemies in the council as well as
friends ; but on this occasion those enemies found
that it was in vain attempting to cast a slur upon
his loyalty. His open, manly bearing, his zealous
intrepidity, his perfect contempt of aught approach
ing to suspicion as applied to himself, joined to his
gray hairs and unblemished character, silenced the
slanderous whispers of his enemies ; and the old
councillor at once resumed his influence.
The next day a placard was found posted in the
Place of St. Mark, signed by Claude Kovani, setting
forth that the atonement of blood was fulfilled, that
he and his confederates should withdraw from the
states of Venice ; but that, as they had devoted
their lives to her punishment, they should hold them
selves in readiness to enter into the service of any
foreign power at war with her ; he commented with
sarcastic severity on her omniscient and omnipotent
government, that could not, within its own capital,
protect the lives and property of its noblest citizens ;
CLAUDE KOVANI. 187
and he thanked that government, with bitter irony,
for the treasure that had replaced his alienated
This manifesto inflamed the Venetians beyond
endurance. It seemed as if the whole population
had quitted for a time their usual avocations to join
in one common pursuit of these insulting rebels ;
and not only the capital, but the whole country
became imbued with the same spirit. Every road
had its village patrol ; the outposts were increased
in number and doubly guarded ; no dwelling was
exempted from instant and repeated search ; and no
persons, whatever their rank or station, were safe
from personal examination or interrogatory at any
It was arranged, that to avoid as much as possi
ble all this hubbub and confusion, produced by so
near and exciting a cause, Antonia should return
for a time to the comparative quiet of her aunt s
residence, although that, like all others, was under
surveillance. Accordingly in two days she proceeded
thither by easy stages, with a strong escort, and ac
companied by the physician and Lucilla.
Pietro, to his disappointment, remained with
his master in the city. Any correspondence by let
ter with Lucilla, on the important subject of their
conferences, was utterly impossible ; it was therefore
agreed, that should any thing occur to induce a
slight suspicion of her mistress s continued commur
188 THE TOKEN.
nication with Rovani, Lucilla should send, as a to
ken, by the daily messenger, a lock of her hair, with
her best love, to Pietro ; but, if any thing very de
cided took place, so as to leave little or no doubt on
the mind of Lucilla that such a communication
actually existed, she was to send him back a small
gold and enamelled ring, which he had lately given
In consequence of a private intimation from
Lorezano, the signora Bianca received her niece with
her usual maternal kindness, but forbore in any way
to allude to the cause of her recent indisposition, and
her unexpected return. In neither of these events
did the signora perceive any mystery ; naturally
concluding that the guilt, danger, and disgrace, in
which their once much-loved relative had so unhap
pily become involved, sufficiently accounted for the
painful impression made on a heart so affectionate,
and so unused to suffering as that of her niece.
The image of Rovani in the mean time continued
to haunt Antonia : for the chances of his using this
abode as a means of concealment or evasion, were
not improbable. It was an old building, reared in
dangerous times, and had more than its due share of
secret doors, and passages, and subterraneous com
munications, which she well remembered Rovani, as
a boy, delighted to explore.
Ten days elapsed. One night, having undressed,
and dismissed Lucilla, who slept in the adjoining
CLAUDE KOVANI. 189
room, Antonia applied herself to read. It was a
dark and gloomy night ; every door, and the massive
casements of her windows were closed ; a slight