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THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES, 007



CHAP. VII.

THE TAX.

THESE formidable conspiracies quelled, the
Barons nearly subdued, and three parts of the
Papal territory re-united to Rome, Rienzi now
deemed he might safely execute one of his fa-
vourite projects for the preservation of the liber-
ties of his native city ; and this was to raise
and organize in each quarter of Rome, a Roman
Legion. Armed in the defence of their own
institutions, he thus trusted to establish amongst
her own citizens the only soldiery requisite for
Rome.

But so base were the tools with which this
great man was condemned to work out his
noble schemes, that none could be found to



308 RIENZI,

serve their own country, without a pay equal
to that demanded by foreign hirelings. With
the insolence so peculiar to a race that has once
been great, each Roman said, " Am I not better
than a German ? pay me then accordingly."

The Senator smothered his disgust he had
learnt at last to know that the age of the Catos
was no more. From a daring enthusiast, ex-
perience had converted him into a practical
statesman. The Legions were necessary to
Rome they were formed gallant their appear-
ance and faultless their caparisons. How were
they to be paid ? There was but one means to
maintain Rome Rome must be taxed. A ga-
belle was put upon wine and salt.

The Proclamation ran thus :

" Romans ; raised to the rank of your Se-
nator, my whole thought has been for your liber-
ties and welfare ; already treason defeated in
the City, our banners triumphant without, at-
test the favour with which the Deity regards
men who seek to unite liberty with law. Let
us set an example to Italy and the world ! Let
us prove that the Roman sword can guard the



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 309

Roman Forum ! In each Rione of the City is
provided a Legion of the citizens, collected
from the traders and artisans of the town ; they
allege that they cannot leave their occupations
without remuneration. Your Senator calls upon
you willingly to assist in your own defence. He
has given you liberty ; he has restored to you
peace : your oppressors are scattered over the
earth. He asks you now to preserve the trea-
sures you have gained. To be free you must
sacrifice something; for freedom, what sacrifice
too great ? Confident of your support, I at
length, for the first time, exert the right en-
trusted to me by office and for Rome's salva-
tion I tax the Romans !"

Then followed the announcement of the ga-
belle.

The Proclamation was placed upon the public
thoroughfares. Round one of the placards a
crowd was assembled. Their gestures were
vehement and unguarded their eyes sparkled
they conversed low, but eagerly.

" He dares to tax us, then ! Why the Barons
or the Pope could only do that !"



310 RIENZI,

" Shame ! shame !" cried a gaunt female ;
" we, who were his friends ! How are our little
ones to get bread ?"

" He should have seized the Pope's money !"
quoth an honest wine-vender.

" Ah ! Pandulfo di Guido would have main-
tained an army at his own cost. He was a rich
man. What insolence in the innkeeper's son
to be a Senator !"

" We are not Romans if we suffer this !" said
a deserter from Palestrina.

" Fellow-citizens !" exclaimed gruffly, a tall
man, who had hitherto been making a clerk
read to him the particulars of the tax imposed,
and whose heavy brain at length understood
that wine was to be made dearer " Fellow-
citizens ; we must have a new revolution ! This
is indeed gratitude ! What have we benefited
by restoring this man ? Are we always to be
ground to the dust ? To pay pay pay ! Is
that all we are fit for ?"

" Hark ! to Cecco del Vecchio !"

" No, no; not now," growled the smith.
" To night the artificers have a special meet-
ing. We'll see we'll see '"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 311

A young man muffled in a cloak, who had
not been before observed, touched the smith.

" Whoever storms the Capitol the day after
to-morrow at the dawn," he whispered, " shall
find the guards absent !"

He was gone before the smith could look
round.



The same night Rienzi, retiring to rest, said
to Angelo Villani " A bold but necessary
measure this of mine ! How do the people
take it ?"

" They murmur a little ; but seem to recognise
the necessity. Cecco del Vecchio was the
loudest grumbler, but is now the loudest ap-
prover."

' The man is rough ; he once deserted me ;
but then that fatal excommunication ! He and
the Romans learned a bitter lesson in that de-
sertion, and experience has, I trust, taught them
to be honest. Well, if this tax be raised quietly,



312 RIENZI,

in two years Rome will be the master state of
Italy; her army manned her Republic formed:
and then then "

"Then what, Senator?"

" Why then, my Angelo, Cola di Rienzi may
die in peace ! There is a want which a pro-
found experience of power and pomp brings at
last to us a want gnawing as that of hunger,
wearying as that of sleep ! my Angelo, it is the
want to die !"

" My Lord, I would give this right-hand,"
cried Villani earnestly, " to hear you say you
were attached to life !"

" You are a good youth, Angelo !" said
Rienzi, as he passed to Nina's chamber; and
in her smile and wistful tenderness, forgot for a-
while that he was a great man !



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 313



CHAP. VIII.

THE THRESHOLD OF THE EVENT.

THE next morning the Senator of Rome held
High Court in the Capitol. From Florence,
from Padua, from Pisa, even from Milan,
(the dominion of the Visconti,) from Genoa,
from Naples, came Ambassadors to welcome
his return, or to thank him for having freed
Italy from the freebooter de Montreal. Venice
alone, who held in her pay the Grand Company,
stood aloof. Never had Rienzi seemed more
prosperous and more powerful, and never had
he exhibited a more easy and cheerful majesty
of demeanour.

Scarce was the audience over, when a mes-
senger arrived from Palestrina. The town had

VOL. III. P



314 RIENZI,

surrendered, the Colonna had departed, and
the standard of the Senator waved from the
walls of the last hold of the rebellious Barons.
Rome might now at length consider herself
free, and not a foe seemed left to menace the
repose of Rienzi.

The Court dissolved. The Senator, elated
and joyous, repaired towards his private apart-
ments, previous to the banquet given to the
Ambassadors. Villani met him with his wonted
sombre aspect.

"No sadness to-day, my Angelo," said the
Senator gaily ; " Palestrina is ours !"

" I am glad to hear such news, and to see my
Lord of so fair a mien," answered Angela.
" Does he not now desire life ?"

" Till Roman virtue revives, perhaps yes !
but thus are we fools of Fortune to-day glad
to-morrow dejected !"

" To-morrow," repeated Villani, mechani-
cally : " Ay, to-morrow perhaps dejected !"

" Thou playest with my words, boy," said
Rienzi, half angrily, as he turned away.

But Villani heeded not the displeasure of his
Lord.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 315

The banquet was thronged and brilliant ; and
Rienzi that day, without an effort, played the
courteous host.

Milanese, Paduan, Pisan, Neapolitan, vied
with each other in attracting the smiles of the
potent Senator. Prodigal were their compli-
ments humble their promises of support. No
monarch in Italy seemed more securely throned.

The banquet was over (as usual on state oc-
casions) at an early hour; and Rienzi, some-
what heated with wine, strolled forth alone from
the Capitol. Bending his solitary steps towards
the Palatine, he saw the pale and veil-like mists
that succeed the sunset, gather over the wild
grass that waves above the Palace of the
Caesars. On a mound of ruiris (column and
arch overthrown) he stood, with folded arms,
musing and intent. In the distance lay the
melancholy tombs of the Campagna, and the
circling hills, crested with the purple hues soon
to melt beneath the starlight. Not a breeze
stirred the dark cypress and unwaving pine.
There was something awful in the stillness of
the skies, hushing the desolate grandeur of the

p 2



316 RIENZI,

earth below, It was like the calm before a
storm. Many and mingled were the thoughts
that swept over Rienzi's breast : memory was
busy at his heart. How often, in his youth,
had he trodden the same spot ! what visions
had he nursed, what hopes conceived ! In the
turbulence of his later life Memory had long
slept; but at that hour she re-asserted her
shadowy reign with a despotism that seemed
prophetic. He was wandering a boy, with
his young brother, hand in hand, by the river-
side at eve : anon he saw a pale face and gory
side, and once more uttered his imprecations of
revenge ! His first successes, his virgin tri-
umphs, his secret love, his fame, his power,
his reverses, the hermitage of Maiella, the
dungeon of Avignon, the triumphal return to
Rome, all swept across his breast with a dis-
tinctness as if he were living those scenes
again ! and now ! he shrunk from the present,
and descended the hill. The moon, already
risen, shed her light over the Forum, as he
passed through its mingled ruins. By the
Temple of Jupiter two figures suddenly emerged;



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 317

the moonlight fell upon their faces, and Ilienzi
recognised Cecco del Vecchio and Angelo Vil-
lani. They saw him not ; but, eagerly con-
versing, disappeared by the Arch of Trajan.

" Ever active in my service !" thought the
Senator ; " methinks this morning I spoke to
him harshly it was churlish in me !"

He re-entered the Place of the Capitol - he
stood by the staircase of the Lion ; there was a
red stain upon the pavement, unobliterated since
Montreal's execution, and the Senator drew
himself aside with an inward shudder. Was it
the ghastly and spectral light of the moon,
or did the face of that old Egyptian sculp-
ture wear an aspect that was as of life ! The
stony eyeballs seemed bent upon him with a
malignant scowl; and as he passed on, and
looked behind, they appeared almost preter-
naturally to follow his steps. A chill, he knew
not why, sunk into his heart. He hastened to
regain his palace. The sentinels made way for
him.

" Senator," said one of them, doubtingly,



318 RIENZI,

" Messere Angelo Villani is our new captain
we are to obey his orders ?"

" Assuredly," returned the Senator, passing
on. The man lingered uneasily, as if he would
have spoken, but Rienzi observed it not. Seek-
ing his chamber, he found Nina and Irene wait-
ing for him. His heart yearned to his wife.
Care and toil had of late driven her from his
thoughts, and he felt it remorsefully, as he gazed
upon her noble face, softened by the solici-
tude 6f untiring and anxious love.

" Sweetest, 11 said he, winding his arms around
her tenderly; " thy lips never chide me, but
thine eyes sometimes do ! We have been apart
too long. Brighter days dawn upon us, when I
shall have leisure to thank thee for all thy care.
And you, my fair sister, you smile on me ! ah,
you have heard that your lover, ere this, is re-
leased by the cession of Palestrina, and to-mor-
row's sun will see him at your feet. Despite
all the cares of the day, I remembered thee, my
Irene, and sent a messenger to bring back the
blush to that pale cheek. Come, come, we shall



TH? LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 319

be happy again !'' And with that domestic
fondness common to him, when harsher thoughts
permitted, he sate himself beside the two dearest
to his hearth and heart

" So happy if we could have many hours
like this !" murmured Nina, sinking on his
breast. " Yet sometimes I wish !"

" And I too," interrupted Rienzi; " for I
read thy woman's thought / too sometimes
wish that fate had placed us in the lowlier val-
leys of life ! But it may come yet ! Irene
wedded to Adrian Rome married to Liberty
and then, Nina, methinks you and I would find
some quiet hermitage, and talk over old gauds
and triumphs, as of a summer's dream. Beau-
tiful, kiss me. Couldst thou resign these
pomps ?"

" For a desert with thee. Cola !"

" Let me reflect," resumed Rienzi; " is not
to-day the seventh of October? Yes ! on the
seventh, be it noted, my foes yielded to my
power ! Seven ! my fated number, whether
ominous of good or evil ! Seven months did I
reign as Tribune seven ( c ) years was I absent as



320 RIENZI,

an exile ; to-morrow, that sees me without an
enemy, completes my seventh week of return !"

" And seven was the number of the crowns
the Roman Convents and the Roman Council
awarded thee, after the ceremony which gave
thee the knighthood of the Santo Spirito /" ( d )
said Nina, adding, with woman's tender wit, the
brightest association of all !

" Follies seem these thoughts to others, and
to philosophy, in truth, they are so," said
Rienzi ; " but all my life long, omen and type
and shadow have linked themselves to action
and event : And the atmosphere of other men
hath not been mine. Life itself a riddle, why
should riddles amaze us ? The Future ! what
mystery in the very word ! Had we lived all
through the Past since Time was, our pro-
foundest experience of a thousand ages could not
give us a guess of the events that wait the very
moment we are about to enter ! Thus deserted
by Reason, what wonder that we recur to the
Imagination, on which, by dream and symbol,
God sometimes paints the likeness of things to
come ? Who can endure to leave the Future all



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 321

unguest, and sit tamely down to groan under the
fardel of the Present ? No, no ! that which the
foolish-wise call Fanaticism, belongs to the
same part of us as Hope. Each but carries us
onward from a barren strand to a glorious, if
unbounded sea. Each is the yearning for the
GREAT BEYOND, which attests our immortality.
Each has its visions and chimeras some false,
but some true ! Verily, a man who becomes
great is often but made so by a kind of sorcery
in his own soul a Pythia which prophesies that
he shall be great and so renders the life one
effort to fulfil the warning ! Is this folly ? it
were so, if all things stopped at the grave !
But perhaps the very sharpening, and exercising,
and elevating the faculties here though but for
a bootless end on earth may be designed to fit
the soul, thus quickened and ennobled, to some
high destiny beyond the earth ! Who can tell ?
not I ! Let us pray !"

While the Senator was thus employed, Rome
in her various quarters presented less holy and
quiet scenes.

In the fortress of the Orsini lights flitted to

p 5



322 RIENZI,

and fro, through the gratings of the great
court. Angelo Villani might be seen stealing
from the postern-gate. Another hour, and the
Moon was high in heaven ; toward the ruins of
the Colosseum, men, whose dress bespoke them
of the lowest rank, were seen creeping from
lanes and alleys, two by two ; from these ruins
glided again the form of the son of Montreal.
Later yet the Moon is sinking a grey light
breaking in the East and the gates of Rome,
by St. John of Lateran, are open ! Villani is
conversing with the sentries ! The Moon has
set the mountains are dim with a mournful and
chilling haze Villani is before the palace of
the Capitol the only soldier there ! Where
are the Roman legions that were to guard alike
the freedom and the deliverer of Rome ?



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 323



CHAPTER THE LAST.

THE CLOSE OF THE CHACE.

IT was the morning of the 8th of October, 1354.
Rienzi, who rose betimes, stirred restlessly in
his bed. " It is yet early, 1 ' he said to Nina,
whose soft arm was round his neck, " none of
my people seem to be astir. Howbeit, my day
begins before theirs"

" Rest yet, my Cola ; you want sleep.''

" No ; I feel feverish, and this old pain in
the side torments me. I have letters to write."

" Let me be your secretary, dearest," said
Nina.

Rienzi smiled affectionately as he rose : he
repaired to his closet adjoining his sleeping
apartment, and used the bath, as was his



324 RIENZI,

wont. Then dressing himself, he returned to
Nina, who, already loosely robed, sate by the
writing table, ready for her office of love.

"How still are all things!" said Rienzi.
" What a cool and delicious prelude, in these
early hours, to the toilsome day.' 1

Leaning over his wife, he then dictated dif-
ferent letters, interrupting the task at times by
such observations as crossed his mind.

" So, now to Annibaldi ! By the way, young
Adrian should join us to-day ; how I rejoice
for Irene's sake P

" Dear sister yes ! she loves, if any, Cola,
can love, as we do."

" Well, but to your task, my fair scribe. Ha !
what noise is that ? I hear an armed step the
stairs creak some one shouts my name."

Rienzi flew to his sword ; the door was thrown
rudely open, and a figure in complete armour
stood in the chamber.

"How! what means this?" said Rienzi,
standing before Nina with his drawn sword.

The intruder lifted his visor it was Adrian
Colonna.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 325

" Fly, Rienzi ! hasten, Signora ! Thank
Heaven, I can save ye yet ! Myself and train
released by the capture of Palestrina, the pain
of my wound detained me last night at Tivoli.
The town was filled with armed men not thine.,
Senator, I heard rumours that alarmed me. I
resolved to proceed onward I reached Rome,
the gates of the city were wide open !"

How !"

" Your guard gone. Presently I came upon
a band of the retainers of the Savelli. My in-
signia, as a Colonna, misled them. I learnt
that this very hour some of your enemies are
within the city, the rest are on their march the
people themselves arm against you. In the ob-
scurer streets I passed through, the mob were
already forming. They took me for thy foe, and
shouted. I came hither thy sentries have
vanished- The private door below is unbarred
and open. Not a soul seems left in thy palace.
Haste fly save thyself ! Where is Irene ?"

" The Capitol deserted ! impossible !" cried
Rienzi. He strode across the chambers to the
ante-room, where his night-guard waited it was



326 RIENZI,

empty ! He passed hastily to Villani's room
it was untenanted ! He would have passed far-
ther, but the doors were secured without. It
was evident that all egress had been cut off, save
by the private door below, and that had been
left open to admit his murtherers !

He returned to his room Nina had already
gone to rouse and prepare Irene, whose
chamber was on the other side, within one of
their own.

" Quick, Senator !" said Adrian. " Methinks
there is yet time. We must make across to the
Tiber. I have stationed my faithful squires and
Northmen there. A boat waits us."

"Hark!" interrupted Rienzi, whose senses
had of late been preternaturally quickened. " I
hear a distant shout a familiar shout, 'Viva
'1 Popolo P Why, so say I ! These must be
friends."

"Deceive not thyself; thou hast scarce a
friend at Rome."'

" Hist !" said Rienzi in a whisper ; " save
Nina save Irene. I cannot accompany thee."

"Art thou mad?"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 327

"No! but fearless. Besides, did I accom-
pany, I might but destroy, you all. Were I
found with you, you would be massacred with
me. Without me, ye are safe. Yes, even the
Senator's wife and sister have provoked no re-
venge. Save them, noble Colonna. Cola di
Rienzi puts his trust in God alone !"

By this time Nina had returned Irene with
her. Afar was heard the tramp steady slow
gathering of the fatal multitude.

"Now, Cola," 1 said Nina, with a bold and
cheerful air, and she took her husband's arm,
while Adrian had already found his charge in
Irene.

"Yes, now, Nina!" said Rienzi; "at length
we part ! If this is my last hour in my last
hour I pray God to bless and shield thee ; for
verily, thou hast been my exceeding solace
provident as a parent, tender as a child, the
smile of my hearth, the the "

Rienzi was almost unmanned. Emotions,
deep, conflicting, unspeakably fond and grateful,
literally choked his speech.

" What ! " cried Nina, clinging to his breast,



328 RIENZI,

and parting her hair from her eyes as she sought
his averted face. " Part ! never ! This is
my place all Rome shall not tear me from it."

Adrian in despair, seized her hand, and at-
tempted to drag her thence.

"Touch me not, sir !" said Nina, waving her
arm with angry majesty, while her eyes sparkled
as a lioness, whom the huntsmen would sever
from her young. " I am the wife of Cola di
Rienzi, the Great Senator of Rome, and by his
side will I live and die P'

" Take her hence ; quick ! quick ! I hear
the crowd advancing. 1 '

Irene tore herself from Adrian, and fell at the
feet of Rienzi she clasped his knees.

" Come, my brother, come ! Why lose these
precious moments ? Rome forbids you to cast
away a life in which her very self is bound up."

" Right, Irene Rome is bound up with me,
and we will rise or fall together ! no more !"

"You destroy us all !" said Adrian, with ge-
nerous and impatient warmth. " A few minutes
more, and we are lost. Rash man ! it is not to
fall by an infuriate mob that you have been pre-
served from so many dangers."



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 329

" I believe it," said the Senator, as his tall
form seemed to dilate as with the greatness of
his own soul. "I shall triumph yet. Never
shall mine enemies never shall posterity say
that a second time Rienzi abandoned Rome !
Hark ! ' Viva 1 Popolo I 1 still the cry of ' THE
PEOPLE.' That cry scares none but tyrants !
I shall triumph and survive."

" And I with thee ! ;-) said Nina, firmly. Ri-
enzi paused a moment, gazed on his wife,
passionately clasped her to his heart, kissed
her again and again, and then said, " Nina, I
command thee, Go !"

" Never."

He paused. Irene's face, drowned in tears,
met his eyes.

" We will all perish with you," said his sister;
"you only, Adrian, you leave us."

" Be it so," said the Knight, sadly ; " we
will all remain," and he desisted at once from
further effort.

There was a dead but short pause, broken but
by a convulsive sob from Irene. The tramp of
the raging thousands sounded fearfully distinct.



330 RIENZI,

Rienzi seemed lost in thought then lifting his
head, he said calmly, " Ye have triumphed
I join ye I but collect these papers, and follow
you. Quick, Adrian save them !" and he
pointed meaningly to Nina.

Waiting no other hint, the young Colonna
seized Ninain his strong grasp with his left hand
he supported Irene, who with terror and excite-
ment was almost insensible. Rienzi relieved him
of the lighter load he took his sister in his arms,
and descended the winding stairs Nina remained
passive she heard her husband"^ step behind,
it was enough for her she but turned once to
thank him with her eyes. A tall Northman clad
in armour stood at the open door. Rienzi placed
Irene, now perfectly lifeless, in the soldier's
arms, and kissed her pale cheek in silence.

" Quick, my Lord," said the Northman, " on
all sides they come !" So saying he bounded
down the descent with his burthen. Adrian fol-
lowed with Nina ; the Senator paused one mo-
ment, turned back, and was in his room ere
Adrian perceived him vanish.

Hastily he drew the coverlid from his bed,



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 331

fastened it to the casement bars, and by its
aid dropped (at a distance of several feet)
into the balcony below. " I will not die like
a rat," said he, " in the trap they have set for
me ! The whole crowd shall at least see and
hear me !"

This was the work of a moment.

Meanwhile, Nina had scarcely proceeded six
paces, before she discovered that she was alone
with Adrian.

" Ha! Cola!" she cried, "where is he? he
has gone !"

" Take heart, Lady, he has returned but for
some secret papers he has forgotten. He will
follow us anon."

" Let us wait, then. 11

" Lady," said Adrian, grinding his teeth,
" hear you not the crowd on, on ! " and he
flew with a swifter step. Nina struggled from his
grasp Love gave her the strength of despair.
With a wild laugh she broke from him. She
flew back the door was closed but unbarred
her trembling hands lingered a moment round
the spring. She opened it, drew the heavy bolt
across the pannels, and frustrated all attempt



332 RIENZI,

from Adrian to regain her. She was on the
stairs, she was in the room. Rienzi was gone !
She fled, shrieking his name, through the State
Chambers all was desolate. She found the
doors opening on the various passages that
admitted to the rooms below barred without
Breathless and gasping, she returned to the
chamber. She hurried to the casement she
perceived the method by which he had descend-
ed below her brave heart told her of his brave


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