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Let the mountains exult around !
On her seven-hill'd throne renown 'd,
Once more old Rome is crown'd !

Jubilate !

A. L. BURT COMPANY, ^ ^ .^ ^











^.ondon, Dec. i. 1831,




I BEGAN this tale two years ago at Rome. On removing to Naples, I
threw it aside for ** The Last Days of Pompeii," which required more than
" Rienzi " the advantage of residence within reach of the scenes described.
The fate of the Roman Tribune continued, however, to haunt and impress
me, and, some time after " Pompeii " was published, I renewed my earlier
undertaking. I regarded the completion of these volumes, indeed, as a kind
of duty ; for having had occasion to read the original authorities from which
modern historians have drawn their accounts of the life of Rienzi, I was led
to believe that a very remarkable man had been superficially judged, and a
very important period crudely examined.* And this belief was sufficiently
strong to induce me at first to meditate a more serious work upon the life
and times of Rienzi. f Various reasons concurred against this project and
I renounced the biography to commence the fiction. I have still, however,
adhered, with a greater fidelity than is customary in Romance, to all the
leading events of the public life of the Roman Tribune ; and the reader will
perhaps find in these pages a more full and detailed account of the rise and
fall of Rienzi, than in any English work of which I am aware. I have, it
is true, taken a view of his character different in some respects from that of
Gibbon or Sismondi. But it is a view, in all its main features, which I be-
lieve (and think I could prove) myself to be warranted in taking, not less by
the facts of history than the laws of fiction. In the mean while, as I have
given the facts from which I have drawn my interpretation of the principal
agent, the reader has sufficient data for his own judgment. In the picture
of the Roman populace, as in that of the Roman nobles of the fourteenth
century, I follow literally the descriptions left to us ; they are not flattering,
but they are faithful, likenesses.

Preserving generally the real chronology of Rienzi's life, the plot of this
work extends over a space of some years, and embraces the variety of charac-
ters necessary to a true delineation of events. The story, therefore, cannot
have precisely that order of interest found in fictions strictly and genuinely
dramatic, in which (to my judgment, at least) the time ought to be as limited
as possible, and the characters as few — no new character of importance to
the catastrophe being admissible towards the end of the work. If I may use
the word epic in its most modest and unassuming acceptation, this fiction, in
short, though indulging in dramatic situations, belongs, as a whole, rather to
the epic than the dramatic school.

I cannot conclude without rendering the tribute of my praise and homage

• See Appendix, Nos. I. and II.

t I have adopted the termination of Rienz\ instead of Riftizo, as being more familiar to
the general reader. — Hut the latter is perhaps the more accurate reading, since the nanM
WAS a popular corruption from Lorenzo.


to the versatile and gifted author of the beautiful Tragedy of Rienzi. Con-
sidering that our hero be the Same — considering that we had the same
materials from which to choose our several stories — I trust I shall be found
to have little, if at all, trespassed upon ground previously occupied. "With
the single exception of a love-intrigue between a relative of Rienzi and one
of the antagonist party, which makes the plot of Miss Mitford's tragedy, and
is little more than an episode in my romance, having slight effect on the con-
duct and none on the fate of the hero, I am not aware of any resemblance
between the two works ; and even i/iis coincidence I could easily have re-
moved, had I deemed it the least advisable — but it would be almost dis-
creditable if I had nothing that resembled a performance possessing so much
it were an honor to imitate.

In fact, the prodigal materials of the story — the rich and exuberant com-
plexities of Rienzi's character — joined to the advantage possessed by the
^ovelist of embracing all that the dramatist must reject * — are sufficient to
prevent dramatist and novelist from interfering with each other.

iu>ndon^ December i, 1835.

* Thus the slender space permitted to the dramatist does not allow Miss Mitford to be
verj' faithful to facts ; to distinguish between iRienzi's earlier and his later period of power;
•r 10 4ctail the true, but somewhat intricate, causes of his rise, his splendor, and hu fall.



From the time of its first appearance, " Rienzi " has had the good fortune
to rank high amongst my most popular works, though its interest is rather
drawn from a faithful narration of historical facts, than from the inventions
of fancy. And the success of this experiment confirms me in my belief,
that the true mode of employing history in the service of romance is to study
diligently the materials as history ; conform to such views of the facts as the
author would adopt, if he related them in the dry character of historian ; and
obtain that warmer interest which fiction bestows, by tracing the causes of the
facts in the characters and emotions of the personages of the time. The
events of his work are thus already shaped to his hand — the characters al-
ready created — what remains for him is the inner, not outer, history of man —
the chronicle of the human heart ; and it is by this that he introduces a new
harmony between character and event, and adds the completer solution of
what is actual and true, by those speculations of what is natural and prob-
able, which are out of the province of history, but belong especially to the
philosophy of romance. And — if it be permitted the tale-teller to
come reverently for instruction in his art to the mightiest teacher of
all, who, whether in the page or on the scene, would give to airy fancies
the breath and the form of life — such, we may observe, is the lesson
the humblest craftsman in historical romance may glean from the historical
plays of Shakespeare. Necessarily, Shakespeare consulted history according
to the imperfect lights, and from the popular authorities, of his age ; and I
do not say, therefore, that as an historian we can rely upon Shakespeare as
correct. But to that in which he believed he rigidly adhered : nor did he
seek, as lesser artists (such as Victor Hugo and his disciples), seek now, to
turn perforce the historical into the poetical, but leaving history as he found
it, to call forth from its arid prose the flower of the latent poem. Nay, even
in the more imaginative plays which he has founded upon novels and legends
popular in his time, it is curious and instructive to see how little he has al-
tered the original ground-work, taking for granted the main materials of the
story, and reserving all his matchless resources of wisdom and invention to
illustrate, from mental analysis, the creations whose outline he was content
to borrow. He receives, as a literal fact not to be altered, the somewhat in-
credible assertion of the novelist, that the pure and delicate and high-born
Venetian loves the swarthy Moor ; and that Romeo, fresh from his " woes
for Rosaline," becomes suddenly enamoured of Juliet : he found the Improb-
able, and employed his ait to make it truthful.

That " Rienzi " should have attracted peculiar attention in Italy is o\
course to be attributed to the choice of the .subject, ratlier than to the skill
of the author. It has been translated into the Italian language by eminent
writer^ ; and the authorities for the new view of Kienzi's times and chaiacter
which the author rieemed himself w.irranied to take, have been compared with
his text by carefql critics and illustrious scholars, in those states in which the



work has been permitted to circulate.* I may say, T trust without unworthy
pride, that the result has confirmed the accuracy of delineations which Eng-
lish readers, relying only on the brilliant but disparaging account in Gibbon,
deemed too favorable ; and has tended to restore tiie great Tribune to his
long forgotten claims to the love and reverence of the Italian land. Nor, if
I may trust to the assurances that have reached me from many now engaged
in the aim of political regeneration, has the effect of that revival of the
honors due to a national hero, leading to the ennobling study of great ex-
amples, been wholly without its influence upon the rising generation of
Italian youth, and thereby upon those stirring events which have recently
drawn the eyes of Europe to the men and the lands beyond the Alps.

In preparing for the press this edition of a work illustrative of the exer-
tions of a Roman, in advance of his time, for the political freedom of his
country, and of those struggles between contending principles, of which Italy
was the most stirring field in the Middle Ages, it is not out of place or sea-
son to add a few sober words, whether as a student of the Italian past, or as
an observer, with some experience of the social elements of Italy as it now
exists, upon the state of affairs in that country.

It is nothing new to see the Papal Church iH the capacity of a popular re-
former, and in contra- position to the despotic potentates of the several states,
as well as to the German Emperor, who nominally inherits the sceptre of the
Caesars. Such was its common character under its more illustrious pontiffs ;
and the old Republics of Italy grew up under the shadow of the Papal
throne, harboring ever two factions — the one for the Emperor, the one for the
Pope— the latter the more naturally allied to Italian independence. On the
modern stage, we almost see the repetition of many an ancient drama. But
the past should teach us to doubt the continuous and steadfast progress of
any single line of policy under a principality so constituted as that of the
Papal Church — a principality m which no race can be perpetuated, in which
no objects can be permanent ; in which the successor is chosen by a select
ecclesiastical synod, under a variety of foreign as well as of national influ-
ences ; in which the chief usually ascends the throne at an age that ill adapts
his mind to the idea of human progress, and the active direction»of mundane
affairs ; a principality in which the peculiar sanctity that wraps the person
of the sovereign exonerates him from the healthful liabilities of & power
purely temporal, and directly accountable to man. A reforming pope is a
lucky accident, and dull indeed must be the brain which believes in the pos-
sibility of a long succession of reforming popes, or which can regard as other
than precarious and unstable the discordant combination of a constitutional
government with an infallible head.

It is as true as it is trite that political freedom is not the growth of a day-
it is not a flower without a stalk — and it must gradually develop itself from
amidst the unfolding leaves of kindred institutions.

In one respect the Austrian domination, fairly considered, has been bene-
ficial to the states over which it has been directly exercised, and may be even
said to have unconsciously schooled them to the capacity for freedom. In
those states the personal rights which depend on impartial and incorrupt ad-
ministration of the law are infinitely more secure than in most of the courts
of Italy. Bribery, which shamefully predominates ia the judicature of cer-
tain principalities, is as unknown in the juridical courts of Austrian Italy as
in England. The Emperor himself is often involved in legal disputes with
a subject, and justice is as free and as firm for the humblest suitor, as if his

f In the Papal States. I believe, it was, neither prudently nor effectually, proscribed.


antagonist were his equal. Austria, indeed, but holds together the naotley
and inharmonious members of its vast domain on either side the Alps, by a
p-eneral cliaracter of paternal mildness and forbearance in all that great
circle of good government which lies without the one principle of constitu-
tional liberty. It asks but of its subjects to submit to be well governed,
without agitating the question " how and by what means that government is
carried on." For every man, except the politician, the innovator, Austria is
no harsh stepmother. But it is obviously clear that the better in othc- res-
pects the administration of a state, it does but foster the more the desi'e for
that political security which is only found in constitutional freedom the
everence paid to personal rights but begets the passion for political ; and •
under a mild despotism are already half matured the germs of a popular con-
stitution. But it is still a grave question whether Italy is ripe for self-gov-
srnment, and whether, were it possible that the Austrian domination could,
be shaken off, the very passions so excited, the very bloodshed so poured
forth, would not ultimately place the larger portion of Italy under auspices
less favorable to the sure growth of freedom than those which silently brighten
under the sway of the German Caesar.

The two kingdoms, at the opposite extremes of Italy, to which circum-
stance and nature seem to assign the main ascendancy, are Naples and Sar-
dinia. Looking to the former, it is impossible to discover on the face of the
earth a country more adapted for commercial prosperity. Nature formed it
as the garden of Europe, and the mart of the Mediterranean. Its soil and
climate could unite the products of the East with those of the Western hemi-
sphere. The rich island of Sicily should be the great corn granary of the
modern nations, as it was of the ancient ; the figs, the olives, the oranges, of
both the Sicilies, under skilful cultivation, should equal the produce of Spain
and the Orient, and the harbors of the kingdom (the keys to three-quarters
of the globe) should be crowded with the sails and busy with the life of com-
merce. But, in the character of its population, Naples has been invariably
in the rear of Italian progress ; it caught but partial inspiration from the free
republics, or even the wise tyrannies, of the Middle Ages; the theatre of
frequent revolutions without fruit ; and all rational enthusiasm created by
hat insurrection, which has lately bestowed on Naples the boon of a repre-
sentative system, cannot but be tempered by the conviction that, of all the
states in Italy, this is the one which least warrants the belief of permanence
to political freedom, or of capacity to retain with vigor what may be seized
by passion.*

Far otherwise is it with Sardinia. Many years since, the writer of these
pages ventured to predict that the time must come when Sardinia would lead
the ^'an of Italian civilization, and take proud place amongst the greater
nations of Europe. In the great portion of this population there is visible

• If the Electoral Chamber in the new Neapolitan Constitution give a fair "hare ?*
members to the Island of Sicily, it will be rich in the inevitable elei^erls ^f aiscord, and
nothing save a wisdom and moderation which rannrxt 'obcrly oe anticipated, can prevent
the ultimate separation of the island from me dominion of Naples. Nature has set the
ocean between the 'wo countries, but differences in character, and degree and quality of
""•'-•""ticn. national jealousies, historical memories, have trebled the space of the seas that
loll between them. Alore easy to unite under one free Parliament Spain with Flanders ;
cr re-annex to Eii^^land its old domains of Aquilaine and Normandy, than to unite in one
Council Chamber truly popular, the passions, interests, and prejudices of Sicily and
Naples, 'i'ime will show. And now, in May. iS^g, Time has already shown the impracti-
cability of the first scheme proposed for cordi.d union between Naples and Sicily, and has
rendered it utterly impossible, by mutual recollections of hatred, bequeathed by a civil war
of singular barbarism, that Naples should permanently retain Sicily by any other bold than
the brute force of conquest,


the new blood of a young race ; it is not, as with other Italian states, a worn-
out stock : you do not see there a people fallen, pioud of the past, and lazy
amidst ruins, but a people rising, practical, industrious, active : there, in a
word, is an eager youth to be formed to mature development, not a decrepit
age to be restored to bloom and muscle. Progress is the great characteristic
of the Sardinian state. Leave it for live years : visit it again, and you behold
improvement. When you enter the kingdom and find, by the very skirts of
its admirable roads, a raised footpath for the passengers and travelers from
town to town, you become suddenly aware that you are in a land where close
attention to the humbler classes is within the duties of a government. As
you pass on from the more purely Italian part of the population — from the
Genoese country into that of Piedmont — the difference between a new people
and an old, on which I have dwelt, becomes visible in the improved cultiva-
tion of the soil, the better habitations of the laborer, the neater aspect of the
Jtowns, the greater activity in the thoroughfares. To the extraordinary
virtues of the King, as king, justice is scarcely done, whether in England or
abroad. Certainly, despite his recent concessions, Charles Albert is not,
and cannot be at heart, much of a constitutional reformer ; and his strong
religious tendencies, which, perhaps unjustly, have procured him in philo-
sophical quarters the character of a bigot, may link him more than his
political, with the cause of the Father of his Church. But he is nobly and
pre-eminently national, careful of the prosperity and jealous of the honor of
his own state, while conscientiously desirous of the independence of Italy.
His attention to business is indefatigable. Nothing escapes his vigilance.
Over all departments of the kingdom is the eye of a man ever anxious to
improve. Already the silk manufactures of Sardinia almost rival those of
Lyons : in their own departments the tradesmen of Turin exhibit an artistic
elegance and elaborate finish scarcely exceeded in the wares of London and
Paris. The King's internal regulations are admirable ; his laws administered
with the most impartial justice ; his forts and defences are in that order,
without which, at least on the Continent, no land is safe ; his army is the
most perfect in Italy. His wise genius extends itself to the elegant as to the
useful arts — an encouragement that shames England, and even France, is
bestowed upon the School for Painters, which has become one of the orna-
ments of his illustrious reign. The character of the main part of the popula-
tion, and the geographical position of his country, assist the monarch, and
must force on himself, or his successors, in the career of improvement so
signally begun. In the character of the people the vigor of the Northman
ennobles the ardor and fancy of the West. In the position of the country
the public mind is brought into constant communication with the new ideas
in the free lands of Europe. Civilization sets in direct currents towards the
streets and marts of Turin. Whatever the result of the present crisis in
Italy, no power and no chance which statesmen can predict can precliide
Sardinia from ultimately heading all that is best in Italy. The King may im-
prove his present position, or peculiar prejudices, inseparable perhaps from
the heritage of absolute monarchy, and which the raw and rude councils of
an Electoral Chamber newly called into life must often irritate and alarm,
«iay check his own progress towards the master throne of the Ausonian land.
But the people themselves, sooner or later, will do the work^ of the Kin^.
And in now looking around Italy for a race worthy of Rienzi, and able to
accomplish his proud dreams, I see but one for which the time is ripe or ripevf
\ng, and I place the hopes of Italy in the men of Piedmont and Sardinia»

i,ONDpN, February 14, 1848,



l^EFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1835, . •••••••••V

Preface to the Edition of 1848, ••••••••«« Tii



I. The Brothers, _ . : ij

II. An Historical Survey — Not to be Passed over, except by those who dislike to

Understand what they Read, 23

III. The Brawl, 28

IV. An Adventure, 35

V. The Description of a Conspirator, and the Dawn of the Conspiracy, . . .47

VI. Irene in the Palace of Adrian di Castello, 57

VII. Upon Love and Lovers, ,..60

VIII. The Enthusiastic Man judged by the Discreet Man, 63

IX. When the People saw this Picture, every one Marvelled » 6C

X. A Rough Spirit Raised, which may hereafter Rend the Wizard, ... 70

XI. Nina di Raselli, 74

XII. The Strange Adventures that befell Walter de Montreal, « • • • 81


I. The King of Provence, and his Proposal, ...••••.87

II. The Interview, and the Doubt, . ^ _ . . . . 99

III. The Situation of a Popular Patrician in Times of Popular Discontent — Scene of

the Lateran, 102

IV. The Ambitious Citizen, and the Ambitious Soldier, ..... 117

V. The Procession of the Barons — The Beginning of the End, .... 127

VI, The Conspirator becomes the Magistrate, 130

^VII. Looking after the Halter when the Mare is Stolen, 134

VlII. The Attack — the Retreat — the Election — and the Adhesion, . , , . 135


I. The Return of Walter de Montreal to his Fortress, 143

II. The 'sife of Love and War — The Messenger of Peace — The Joust, . . 147
III. The Conversation between the Roman and the Provencal — Adeline's History —

The Moon-lit Sea — The Lute and the Song, i6a


I. The Boy Angelo — The Dream of Nina fulfilled, ....... 174

II. The Blessing of a Councillor whose Interests and Heart are our own — The

Straws thrown upward, — do they portend a Storm ? 185

III. The Actor Unmasked, 197

IV. The Enemy's Camp, 202

V. The Night and its Incidents, 205

VI. The Celebrated Citation, •... 2i<

VII. The Festival, • • . sif




I. The Judgment of the Tribune, .•••«•••.• . 222

II. The Flight, ...* •••«• 2^0

III. The Battle, 234

IV. The HoUowness of the Base, ....•..••. 242
V. The Rottenness of the Edifice, , , , , , 248

VI. The Fall of the Temple, ........... 253

VII. The Successors of an Unsuccessful Revolution — ^Who is to Blame, the For-
saken One or the Forsakers ? 258


I. The Retreat of the Lover, •••o '>.6t

II. The Seeker, ••••• 264

III. The Flowers amidst the Tombs, ...•••••*. 274

iV. We Obtain what we Seek, and Know it not, .•••«• 280

V. The Error, ^ . 284


I. Avignon— The two Pages — The Stranger Beauty, 294

II. The Character of a Warrior Priest — An Interview — The Intrigue and Counter-
intrigue of Courts, . . . . • . 301

III. Holy Men — Sagacious Deliberations — Just Resolves — And Sordid Motives

to All, 306

IV. The Lady and the Page, 311

V. The Inmate of the Tower, 313

VI. The Scent does not Lie — The Priest and the Soldier 320

VII, Vaucluse and its Genius Loci— Old Acquaintance Renewed, . * , . 321

VIII. The Crowd — The Trial — The Verdict— The Soldier and the Page, . . 326

IX. Albornoz and Nina, 329


I. The Encampment, ..•••. 33s

II. Adrian once more the Guest of Montreal, . . . . _. • • 344

III. Faithful and Ill-fated Love — The Aspirations Survive the Affections, . . 349


I. The Triumphal Entrance, • • t . 357

II. The Masquerade, 361

III. Adrian's Adventures at Palestrina, . . . , , . . _ . . 371

, IV. The Position of the Senator — The Work of Years — The Reward of Ambition, 376

V. The Biwer Bit 383

VI. The Events Gather to the End, 386


'. The Conjunction of Hostile Planets in the House of Death

II. Montreal at Rome -His reception of Angelo Villani, .

Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonRienzi : the last of the Roman tribunes → online text (page 1 of 45)