Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton.

Rienzi, the last of the tribunes (Volume 3) online

. (page 11 of 15)
Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonRienzi, the last of the tribunes (Volume 3) → online text (page 11 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of his bastardy, was arrogant of the supposed
nobility of his unknown parentage. The uni-
versal ferment and agitation of Italy at that day


rendered ambition the most common of all the
passions, and thus ambition, in all its many
shades and varieties, forces itself into our deli-
neations of character in this history. Though
not for Angelo Villani were the dreams of the
more lofty and generous order of that sublime
infirmity, he was strongly incited by the desire
and resolve to rise. He had warm affections,
and grateful impulses; and his fidelity to his
patron had been carried to a virtue : but from
his irregulated and desultory education, and the
reckless profligacy of those with whom, in anti-
chambers and guard-rooms, much of his youth
had been past, he had neither high principles
nor an enlightened honour. Like most Italians,
cunning and shrewd, he scrupled not at any
deceit that served a purpose or a friend. His
strong attachment to Rienzi had been uncon-
sciously increased by the gratification of pride
and vanity flattered by the favour of so cele-
brated a man. Both self-interest and attach-
ment urged him to every effort to promote the
views and safety of one at once his benefactor
and patron; and on undertaking his present


mission, his only thought was to fulfil it with
the most complete success. Far more brave
and daring than was common with Italians,
something of the hardihood of an Ultra-Mori-
tone race, gave nerve and vigour to his craft ;
and from what his art suggested, his courage
never shrunk.

When Rienzi had first detailed to him the
objects of his present task, he instantly called
to mind his adventure with the tall soldier in
the crowd at Avignon. " If ever thou wantest
a friend, seek him in Walter de Montreal," were
words that had often rung in his ear, and they
now recurred to him with prophetic distinctness.
He had no doubt that it was Montreal himself
whom he had seen. Why the Great Captain
should have taken this interest in him, An-
gelo little troubled himself to consider. Most
probably it was but a crafty pretence one of
the common means by which the Chief of the
Grand Company attracted to himself the youths
of Italy, as well as the warriors of the North.
He only thought now how he could turn the
Knight's promise to account. What more easy


than to present himself to Montreal remind
him of the words enter his service and thus
effectually watch his conduct? The office of
spy was not that which would have pleased every
mind, but it shocked not the fastidiousness of
Angelo Villani; and the fearful hatred with
which his patron had often spoken of the ava-
ricious and barbarian robber the scourge of
his native land, had inoculated the young man,
who had much of the arrogant and mock pa-
triotism of the Romans, with a similar sen-
timent. More vindictive even than grate-
ful, he bore too a secret grudge against
Montreal's brothers, whose rough address had
often wounded his pride ; and, more than all,
his early recollections of the fear and execra-
tion in which Ursula seemed ever to hold the
terrible Fra Moreale, impressed him with a
vague belief of some ancient wrong to himself or
his race, perpetrated by the Provencal, which
he was not ill-pleased to have the occasion to
avenge. In truth, the words of Ursula, mystic
and dark as they were in their denunciation,
had left upon Villani's boyish impressions an


unaccountable feeling of antipathy and vindic-
tive hatred to the man it was now his object to
betray. For the rest, every device seemed to
him decorous and justifiable, so that it saved
his master, served his country, and advanced

Montreal was alone in his chamber when it
was announced to him that a young Italian
craved an audience. Professionally open to
access, he forthwith gave admission to the ap-

Montreal instantly recognised the page he
had encountered at Avignon ; and when Angelo
Villani said, with easy boldness, " I have come
to remind the Knight of St. John of a pro-
mise "

Montreal interrupted him with cordial frank-
ness " Thou needst not I remember it.
Dost thou now require my friendship ?"

" I do, noble Knight !" answered Angelo
" I know not where else to seek a patron."

" Canst thou read and write ? I fear me not."

" I have been taught those arts," replied


" It is well. Is your birth gentle ?"

It is."

" Better still ; your name ?"

Angelo Villani."

" I take your blue eyes and low broad
brow," said Montreal, with a slight sigh, " in
pledge of your truth. Henceforth, Angelo
Villani, you are in the list of my Secretaries.
Another time thou shalt tell me more of thy-
self. Your service dates from this day. For the
rest, no man ever wanted wealth who served
Walter de Montreal ; nor advancement, if he
served him faithfully. My closet, through
yonder door, is your waiting-room. Ask for,
and send hither, Lusignan of Lyons ; he is my
chief scribe, and will see to thy comforts, and
instruct thee in thy business."

Angelo withdrew Montreal's eye followed

" A strange likeness !" said he, musingly and
sadly ; " my heart leaps to that boy !"




SOME few days after the date of the last chapter,
Rienzi received news from Rome, which seemed
to produce on him a joyous and elated excite-
ment. His troops still lay before Palestrina, and
still the banners of the Barons waved over its
unconquered walls. In truth, the Italians em-
ployed half their time in brawls amongst them-
selves; the Velletretani had feuds with the
people of Tivoli, and the Romans were still
afraid of conquering the Barons ; " The hor-
net," said they, " stings worse after he is dead ;
and neither an Orsini, a Savelli, nor a Colonna,
was ever known to forgive."

Again and again had the Captains of his
army assured the indignant Senator that the


fortress was impregnable, and that time and
money were idly wasted upon the siege. Rienzi
knew better, but he concealed his thoughts.

He now summoned to his tent the brothers
of Provence, and announced to them his inten-
tion of returning instantly to Rome. " The mer-
cenaries shall continue the siege under our
Lieutenant, and you, with my Roman Legion,
shall accompany me. Your brother Sir Walter,
and I, both want your presence ; we have affairs
to arrange between us. After a few days I
shall raise recruits in the city, and return."

This was what the brothers desired they
approved, with evident joy, the Senator's pro-

Rienzi next sent for the Lieutenant of his
body guard, the same Riccardo Annibaldi whom
the reader will remember in the earlier part of
this work, as the antagonist of Montreal's lance.
This young man one of the few nobles who
espoused the cause of the Senator had evinced
great courage and military ability, and promised
fair (should Fate spare his life*) to become
one of the best Captains of his time,

* It appears that this was the same Annibaldi who

264 , RIENZI,

" Dear Annibaldi," said Rienzi ; " at length
I can fulfil the project on which we have pri-
vately conferred. I take with me to Rome the
two Provencal Captains I leave you Chief of
the army. Palestrina will yield now eh ! ha,
ha, ha ! Palestrina will yield now !""

" By my right hand, I think so, Senator,"
replied Annibaldi. " These men have hitherto
only stirred up quarrels amongst ourselves, and
if not cowards are certainly traitors !"

" Hush, hush, hush ! Traitors ! The learned
Arimbaldo, the brave Brettone, traitors ! Fie
on it ! No, no ; they are very excellent, ho-
nourable men, but not lucky in the camp ;
not lucky in the camp better speed to them
in the city ! And now to business."

The Senator then detailed to Annibaldi the
plan he himself had formed for taking the
town, and the military skill of Annibaldi at
once recognised its feasibility.

With his Roman troop, and Montreal's bro-
thers, one at either hand, Rienzi then departed
to Rome.

was afterwards slain in an affray : Petrarch lauds his
valour and laments his fate.


That night Montreal gave a banquet to Pan-
dulfo di Guido, and to certain of the principal
citizens, whom one by one he had already
sounded, and found hollow at heart to the cause
of the Senator.

Pandulfo sate at the right-hand of the Knight
of St. John ; and Montreal lavished upon him
the most courteous attentions.

" Pledge me in this it is from the Vale of
Chiana, near Monte Pulciano," said Montreal ;
" I think I have heard bookmen say (you know,
Signer Pandulfo, we ought all to be bookmen
now !) that the site was renowned of old. In
truth the wine hath a racy flavour."

" I hear," said Bruttini, one of the lesser
Barons, (a staunch friend to theColonna,) "that
in this respect the innkeeper's son has put his
book-learning to some use: he knows every
place where the vine grows richest."

" What ! the Senator is turned wine-bibber,"
said Montreal, quaffing a vast goblet full;
" that must unfit him for business^ 'tis a pity."

" Verily, yes," said Pandulfo ; " a man at the


266 * RIENZI,

head of a state should be temperate I mix all
my wine."

" Ah," whispered Montreal, " if your calm
good sense ruled Rome, then indeed the metro -
polis of Italy might taste of peace. Signor Vi-
valdi," and the host turned towards a wealthy
draper," these disturbances are bad for trade."
" Very, very," groaned the draper.
" The Barons are your best customers,""
quoth the minor noble.

" Much, much !" said the draper.
" 'Tis a pity that they are thus roughly ex-
pelled, 1 ' 1 said Montreal, in a melancholy tone.
" Would it not be possible, if the Senator (/
drink his health) were less rash less zealous,
rather to unite free institutions with the re-
turn of the Barons ? such should be the task
of a truly wise statesman !"

" It surely might be possible," returned Vi-
valdi ; " the Savelli alone spend more with me
than all the rest of Rome."

" I know not if it be possible," said Bruttini,
" but I do know that it Is an outrage to all de-


eorum that an innkeeper's son should be en-
abled to make a solitude of the palaces of

' It certainly seems to indicate too vulgar a
desire of mob favour," said Montreal. " How-
ever, I trust we shall harmonize all these dif-
ferences. Rienzi, perhaps nay, doubtless,
means well !"

" I would," said Vivaldi, who had received
his cue, " that we might form a mixed constitu-
tion plebeians and patricians, each in their
separate order."

" But," said Montreal, gravely, " so new an
experiment would demand great physical force."
" Why, true ; but we might call in an umpire
a foreigner who had no interest in either fac-
tion who might protect the new Buono State
a Podesta,as we have done before Brancaleone,
for instance. How well and wisely he ruled !
that was a golden age for Rome. A Podesta
for ever ! that's my theory."

" You need not seek far for the president of
your council," said Montreal, smiling at Pan-

N 2


dulfo ; " a citizen at once popular, well-born,
and wealthy, may be found at my right-hand."

Pandulfo hemmed, and coloured.

Montreal proceeded. " A committee of trades
might furnish an honourable employment to
Signer Vivaldi ; and the treatment of all foreign
affairs the employment of armies, &c., might
be left to the Barons, with a more open compe-
tition, Signer di Bruttini, to the Barons of the
second order than has hitherto been con-
ceded to their birth and importance. Sirs, will
you taste the Malvoisie ?"

" Still," said Vivaldi, after a pause (Vivaldi
anticipated at least the supplying with cloth the
whole of the Grand Company) " still, such a
moderate and well-digested constitution would
never be acceded to by Rienzi." 1

" Why should it ? what need of Rienzi ?"
exclaimed Bruttini. " Rienzi may take another
trip to Bohemia.'' 1

" Gently, gently," said Montreal ; " I do not
despair. All open violence against the Senator
would strengthen his power. No, no, humble


him admit the Barons, and then insist on your
own terms. Between the two factions you
might then establish a fitting balance. And in
order to keep your new constitution from the
encroachment of either extreme, there are war-
riors and knights too, who for a certain rank in
the great city of Rome would maintain horse
and foot at its service. We Ultra-Montanes are
often harshly judged ; we are wanderers and
Ishmaelites solely, because we have no honour-
able place of rest. Now if / "

"Ay, if you, noble Montreal !" said Vivaldi.

The company remained hushed in breathless
attention, when suddenly there was heard deep,
solemn, muffled the great bell of the Capitol !

Hark P said Vivaldi, " the bell : it tolls for
execution : an unwonted hour !"

" Sure, the Senator has not returned P ex-
claimed Pandulfo di Guido, turning pale.

" No, no," quoth Bruttini, " it is but a
robber, caught two nights ago in Romagna, I
heard that he was to die to-night."

At the word " robber," Montreal changed
countenance slightly. The wine circulated the

270 R1ENZI,

bell continued to toll its suddenness over, it
ceased to alarm. Conversation flowed again.

" What were you saying. Sir Knight 7" said

" Why, let me think on't ; oh, speaking of
the necessity of supporting a new state by force,
I said, that if / "

" Ah, that was it," quoth Bruttini, thumping
the table.

" If 7 were summoned to your aid sum-
moned, mind ye, and absolved by the Pope's
Legate of my former sins (they weigh heavily
on me, gentles,) I would myself guard your city
from foreign foe and civil disturbance, with my
gallant swordsmen. Not a Roman citizen
should contribute a ' denaro ' to the cost."

" Viva Frd Moreale !" cried Bruttini, and
the shout was echoed by all the boon com-

" Enough for me," continued Montreal, " to
expiate my offences. Ye know, gentlemen, my
order is vowed to God and the Church a war-
rior-monk am I ! Enough for me to expiate my
offences, I say, in the defence of the Holy City.


Yet I too have my private and more earthly views,

who is above them ? I the bell changes

its note !"

" It is but the change that preludes execution
the poor robber is about to die !"

Montreal crossed himself, and resumed
" I am a knight and a noble," said he proudly ;
" the profession I have followed is that of arms ;
but I will not disguise it mine equals have
regarded me as one who has stained his "scutcheon
by too reckless a pursuit of glory and of gain.
I wish to reconcile myself with my order to
purchase a new name to vindicate myself to
the Grand Master and the Pontiff. I have
had hints, gentles, hints, that I might best
promote my interest by restoring order to
the Papal metropolis. The Legate Albornoz
(here is his letter) recommends me to keep
watch upon the Senator/ 1

" Surely," interrupted Pandulfo, " I hear
steps below."

" The mob going to the robber's execu-
tion," said Bruttini; "proceed, Sir Knight!"

" And," continued Montreal, surveying his
audience before he proceeded farther, " what


think ye (I do but ask your opinion, wiser
than mine) what think ye, as a fitting precau-
tion against too arbitrary a power in the Sena-
tor what think ye of the return of the Colonna,
and the bold Barons of Palestrina ?"

" Here's to their health," cried Vivaldi,

As by a sudden impulse, the company rose.
" To the health of the besieged Barons," was
shouted loud.

" Next, what if (I do but humbly suggest)
what if you gave the Senator a colleague ? it
is no affront to him. It was but as yesterday
that one of the Colonna who was Senator received
a colleague in Bertoldo Orsini."

" A most wise precaution, 11 cried Vivaldi.
" And where a colleague like Pandulfo di

" Viva Pandulfo di Guido !" cried the guests,
and again their goblets were drained to the

" And if in this I can assist ye by fair words
with the Senator, (ye know he owes me monies
my brothers have served him,) command
Walter de Montreal. 1 '


" And if fair words fail," said Vivaldi.

" The Grand Company (heed me, ye are the
councillors) the Grand Company is accustomed
to forced marches !"

"VivaFraMoreale," cried Bruttini and Vival-
di, simultaneously. A health to all my friends ;"
continued Bruttini, " a health to the Barons,
Rome's old friends ; to Pandulfo di Guido, the
Senator's new colleague ; and to Fra Moreale,
Rome's new Podesta."

" The bell has ceased ;" said Vivaldi, putting
down his goblet.

" Heaven have mercy on the robber !" added

Scarce had he spoken, ere three taps were
heard at the door the guests looked at each
other in dumb amaze.

" New guests !" said Montreal. " I asked
some trusty friends to join us this evening. By
my faith they are welcome ! Enter !"

The door opened slowly three by three en-
tered in complete armour the guards of the
Senator. On they marched, regular and speech-
less. They surrounded the festive board they
filled the spacious hall, and the lights of the

N 5


banquet were reflected upon their corselets as on
a wall of steel.

Not a syllable was uttered by the feasters,
they were as if turned to stone. Presently the
guards gave way, and Rienzi himself appeared.
He approached the table, and folding his arms,
turned his gaze deliberately from guest to guest,
till, at last, his eyes rested on Montreal, who
had also risen, and who alone of the party had
recovered the amaze of the moment.

And there, as these two men, each so cele-
brated, so proud, able, and ambitious, stood,
front to front it was literally as if the rival
Spirits of Force and Intellect, Order and Strife,
of the Falchion and the Fasces the Antagonist
Principles by which empires are ruled and em-
pires overthrown, had met together, incarnate
and opposed. They stood, both silent, as if fas-
cinated by each other's gaze, loftier in stature,
and nobler in presence than all around.

Montreal spoke first, and with a forced smile.

" Senator of Rome ! dare I believe that my
poor banquet tempts thee, and may I trust that
these armed men are a graceful compliment to
one to whom arms have been a pastime ?'


Rienzi answered not, but waved his hand to
his guards. Montreal was siezed on the instant.
Again he surveyed the guests as a bird from
the rattle -snake shrunk Pandulfo diGuido, trem-
bling, motionless, aghast, from the glittering
eye of the Senator. Slowly Rienzi raised his
fatal hand towards the unhappy citizen Pan-
dulfo saw, felt his doom, shrieked, and fell
senseless in the arms of the soldiers.

One other and rapid glance cast the Senator
round the board, and then with a disdainful
smile, as if anxious for no meaner prey, turned
away. Not a breath had hitherto passed his
lips all had been dumb show and his grim
silence had imparted a more freezing terror to
his unguessed-for apparition. Only, when he
reached the door, he turned back, gazed upon
the Knight of St. John's bold and undaunted
face, and said, almost in a whisper, "Walter
de Montreal ! you heard the death-knell !"




IN silence the Captain of the Grand Company
was borne to the prison of the Capitol. In the
same building lodged the rivals for the govern-
ment of Rome ; the one occupied the prison, the
other the palace. The guards forbore the cere-
mony of fetters, and leaving a lamp on the
table, Montreal perceived he was not alone,
his brothers had preceded him.

" Ye are happily met," said the Knight of
St. John ; " we have passed together pleasanter
nights than this is likely to be."

" Can you jest, Walter," said Arimbaldo, half-
weeping. " Know you not that our doom is
fixed ? Death scowls upon us."

" Death !" repeated Montreal, and for the


first time his countenance changed ; perhaps for
the first time in his life he felt the thrill and
agony of fear.

" Death !" he repeated again. " Impossible !
He dare not Brettone the soldiers, the North-
men ! they will mutiny, they will pluck us back
from the grasp of the headsman!"

"Cast from you so vain a hope," said Bret-
tone, sullenly ; " the soldiers are encamped at

" How ! Dolt fool ! Came you then to
Rome alone ! Are we alone with this dread

" You are the dolt. Why came you hither ?"
answered the brother.

" Why, indeed ! but that I knew thou wast
the Captain of the army; and but you said
right the folly is mine, to have played against
the crafty Tribune so unequal a brain as thine.
Enough ! Reproaches are idle. When were ye

" At dusk the instant we entered the gates
of Rome. Rienzi entered privately/ 1

" Humph ! What can he know against me ?
Who can have betrayed me ? My secretaries


are tried all trustworthy except that youth,
and he so seemingly zealous that Angelo
Villani r

"Villani Angelo Villani,' 1 cried the brothers
in a breath. "Hast thou confided aught to him ?"

" Why, I fear he must have seen at least in
part my correspondence with you, and with the
Barons he was among my scribes. Know you
aught of him ?''

"Walter Heaven hath demented you," re-
turned Brettone, " Angelo Villani is the favou-
rite menial of the Senator."

" Those eyes deceived me, then," muttered
Montreal, solemnly and shuddering ; " and, as
if her ghost had returned to earth, God smites
me, from the grave P"

There was a long silence. At length Mon-
treal, whose bold and sanguine temper was
never long clouded, spoke again.

" Are the Senator's coffers full ? But that is

" Bare as a Dominican's."

" We are saved then. He shall name his
price for our heads. Money must be more use-
ful to him than blood."


And, as if with that thought all further medi-
tation were rendered unnecessary, Montreal
doffed his mantle, uttered a short prayer, and
flung himself on a pallet in a corner of the cell.

"I have slept on worse beds," said the
Knight, stretching himself; and in a few mi-
nutes he was fast asleep.

The brothers listened to his deep-drawn, but
regular breathing, with envy and wonder, but
they were in no mood to converse. Still and
speechless, they sate like statues beside the
sleeper. Time passed on, and the first cold air of
the hour that succeeds to midnight crept through
the bars of their cell. The bolts crashed, the door
opened, six men at arms entered, passed the
brothers, and one of them touched Montreal.

" Ha !" said he, still sleeping, but turning
round, " Ha !" said he, in the soft Provencal
tongue, " sweet Adeline, we will not rise yet
it is so long since we met !"

" What says he ?" muttered the guard, shaking
Montreal roughly. The Knight sprang up at once,
and his hand grasped the head of his bed as for
his sword. He stared round bewildered, rubbed

'280 RIENZI,

his eyes, and then gazing on the guard, became
alive to the present.

" Ye are early risers in the Capitol," said he,
" What want ye of me ?"

"It waits you! 1 '

" It! What?" said Montreal.

"The rack !" replied the soldier, with a ma-
lignant scowl.

The Great Captain said not a word. He
looked for one moment at the six swordsmen, as
if measuring his single strength against theirs.
His eye then wandered round the room. The
rudest bar of iron would have been dearer
to him than he had ever yet found the proofest
steel of Milan. He completed his survey with
a sigh, threw his mantle over his shoulders,
nodded at his brethren, and followed the guard.

In a hall of the Capitol, hung with the
ominous silk of white rays on a blood-red
ground, sate Rienzi and his councillors. Over
a recess was drawn a black curtain.

" Walter de Montreal," said a small man at
the foot of the table ; " Knight of the illustrious
order of St. John of Jerusalem."


" And Captain of the Grand Company ! "
added the prisoner in a firm voice.

" You stand accused of divers counts : rob-
bery and murder, in Tuscany, Romagna, and
Apulia ,"

" For robbery and murder, brave men and
belted Knights," said Montreal, drawing him-
self up, " would use the words ' war and vic-
tory.' To those charges I plead guilty !

" You are next charged of treasonable con-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15

Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonRienzi, the last of the tribunes (Volume 3) → online text (page 11 of 15)