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design ; she saw they were separated,
" But the same roof holds us," she cried joy-
ously, " and our fate shall be the same ! "
With that thought she sank in mute patience
on the floor.

Forming the generous resolve not to abandon
the faithful and devoted pair without another
effort, Adrian had followed Nina, but too late
the door was closed against his efforts. The
crowd marched on he heard their cry change on
a sudden it was no longer " LIVE THE PEOPLE P
but "DEATH TO THE TRAITOR!" His attend-
ant had already disappeared and waking now
only to the danger of Irene, the Colonna in
bitter grief turned away, lightly sped down the



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 333

descent, and hastened to the river side, where
the boat and his band awaited him.

The balcony on which Rienzi had alighted
was that from which he had been accustomed to
address the people it communicated with a
vast hall used on solemn occasions for State
festivals and on either side were square pro-
jecting towers, whose grated casements looked
into the balcony. One of these towers was de-
voted to the armoury, the other contained the
prison of Brettone, the brother of Montreal.
Beyond the latter tower was the general prison
of the Capitol. For then the prison and the
palace were in awful neighbourhood !

The windows of the Hall were yet open and
Rienzi passed into it from the balcony the wit-
ness of the yesterday's banquet was still there the
wine yet undried, crimsoned the floor, and goblets
of gold and silver shone from the recesses. He
proceeded at once to the armoury, and selected
from the various suits, that which he himself
had worn when nearly eight years ago he had
chased the Barons from the gates of Rome.
He arrayed himself in the mail, leaving only



334 RIENZI,

his head uncovered; and then taking, in his
right hand, from the wall, the great Gonfalon of
Rome, returned once more to the hall. Not a
man encountered him. In that vast building,
save the prisoners, and one faithful heart
whose presence he knew not of the Senator
was alone.

On they came, no longer in measured
order, as stream after stream from lane,
from alley, from palace and from hovel the
raging sea received new additions. On they
came their passions excited by their numbers
women and men, children and malignant age
in all the awful array of aroused, released, unre-
sisted physical strength and brutal wrath :
" Death to the traitor death to the tyrant
death to him who has taxed the people !"-
' Mora '1 traditore che ha fatta la gabella !
Mora !" Such was the cry of the people
such the crime of the Senator ! They broke
over the low palisades of the Capitol they filled
with one sudden rush the vast space ; a mo-
ment before so desolate, now swarming with
human beings athirst for blood !



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 335

Suddenly came a dead silence, and on the
balcony above stood Rienzi his face was bared
and the morning sun shone over that lordly
brow, and the hair grown grey before its time, in
the service of that maddening multitude. Pale
and erect he stood neither fear, nor anger, nor
menace but deep grief and high resolve upon
his features ! A momentary shame a momen-
tary awe seized the crowd.

He pointed to the Gonfalon, wrought with
the Republican motto and arms of Rome, and
thus he began ;

" I too am a Roman and a Citizen ; hear
me!"

" Hear him not; hear him not ! his false
tongue can charm away our senses !" cried a
voice louder than his own ; and Rienzi recog-
nised Cecco del Vecchio.

" Hear him not ; down with the tyrant !"
cried a more shrill and youthful tone ; and by
the side of the artisan stood Angelo Villani.

" Hear him not ; death to the death giver !"
cried a voice close at hand, and from the grating
of the neighbouring prison glared near upon



336 RIENZI,

him, as the eye of a tiger, the vengeful gaze of
the brother of Montreal

Then from earth to Heaven rose the roar
" Down with the tyrant down with him who
taxed the people !"

A shower of stones rattled on the mail of the
Senator, still he stirred not. No changing
muscle betokened fear. His persuasion of his
own wonderful powers of eloquence, if he could
but be heard, inspired him yet with hope ; he
stood collected in his own indignant, but deter-
mined, thoughts; but the knowledge of that very
eloquence was now his deadliest foe, The
leaders of the multitude trembled lest he should
be heard ; " and, doubtless," says the cotem-
poraneous biographer, " had he but spoken, he
would have changed them all, and the work
been marred!"

The soldiers of the Barons had already mixed
themselves with the throng more deadly wea-
pons than stones aided the wrath of the mul-
titude darts and arrows darkened the air;
and now a voice was heard shrieking " Way
for the torches!" Red in the sunlight they



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 337

tossed and waved, and danced to and fro, above
the heads of the crowd, as if the fiends were
let loose amongst the mob ! And what place in
hell hath fiends like those a mad mob can fur-
nish ? Straw, and wood, and litter were piled
hastily round the great doors of the Capitol, and
the smoke curled suddenly up, beating back the
rush of the assailants.

Rienzi was no longer visible, an arrow had
pierced his hand the right hand that supported
the flag of Rome the right hand that had given
a constitution to the Republic. He retired from
the storm into the desolate hall. He sat down;
and tears, springing from no weak and woman
source, but tears from the loftiest fountain of
emotion tears that befit a warrior when his
own troops desert him a patriot when his
countrymen rush to their own doom a father
when his children rebel against his love, tears
such as these forced themselves from his eyes
and relieved, but they changed,, his heart !

" Enough, enough," he said, presently rising
and dashing the drops scornfully away ; " I have
risked, dared, toiled enough for this dastard and

VOL. in. Q



338 RIENZI,

degenerate race. I will yet baffle their malice I
renounce the thought of which they are so little
worthy ! Let Rome perish ! I feel, at last,
that I am nobler than my country ! she deserves
not so high a sacrifice !"

With that feeling, Death lost all the noble-
ness of aspect it had before presented to him ;
and he resolved, in very scorn of his ungrateful
foes, in very defeat of their inhuman wrath, to
make one effort for his life ! He divested himself
of his glittering arms ; his address, his dexterity,
his craft, returned to him. His active mind
ran over the chances of disguise of escape ;
he left the hall passed through the humbler
rooms, devoted to the servitors and menials
found in one of them a coarse working garb
indued himself with it placed upon his head
some of the draperies and furniture of the
palace, as if escaping with them ; and said, with
his old " fantastico riso" " When all other
friends desert me, I may well forsake myself !"
With that he awaited his occasion.

Meanwhile the flames burnt fierce and fast ;
the outer door below was already consumed;



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 339

from the apartment he had deserted the fire
burst out in volleys of smoke the wood
crackled the lead melted with a crash fell
the severed gates the dreadful ingress was
opened to all the multitude the proud Capitol of
the Caesars was already tottering to its fall !
Now was the time ! he passed the flaming
door the smouldering threshold; he passed the
outer gate unscathed he was in the middle of
the crowd. " Plenty of pillage within," he said
to the by-standers, in the Roman patois, his
face concealed by his load " Suso suso a
gliu traditore !" The mob rushed past him
he went on he gained the last stair descend-
ing into the open streets he was at the last
gate liberty and life were before him.

A soldier (one of his own) seized him. " Pass
not where goest thou ?"

" Beware, lest the Senator escape disguised !"
cried a voice behind it was Villani's. The con-
cealing load was torn from his head Rienzi
stood revealed !

" I am the Senator !" he said in a loud voice.

Q2



340 RIENZI,

" Who dare touch the Representative of the
People ?"

The multitude were round him in an in-
stant. Not led, but rather hurried and whirled
along- the Senator was borne to the Place of
the Lion. With the intense glare of the burst-
ing flames, the grey image reflected a lurid
light, and glowed (that grim and solemn mo-
nument !) as if itself of fire !

There arrived, the crowd gave way, terrified
by the greatness of their victim. Silent he
stood, and turned his face around; nor could
the squalor of his garb, nor the terror of the
hour, nor the proud grief of detection, abate
the majesty of his mien, or reassure the courage
of the thousands who gathered, gazing, round
him. The whole Capitol wrapped in fire, lighted
with ghastly pomp the immense multitude.
Down the long vista of the streets extended
the fiery light and the serried throng, till the
crowd closed with the gleaming standards of
the Colonna the Orsini the Savelli ! Her
true tyrants were marching into Rome ! As the



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 341

sound of their approaching horns and trumpets
broke upon the burning air, the mob seemed to
regain their courage. Rienzi prepared to speak ;
his first word was as the signal of his own
death.

" Die, tyrant !" cried Cecco del Vecchio : and
he plunged his dagger in the Senator's breast

" Die, executioner of Montreal !" muttered
Villani, " thus the trust is fulfilled ! " and his
was the second stroke. Then as he drew back,
and saw the artisan in all the drunken fury of
his brute passion, tossing up his cap, shouting
aloud, and spurning the fallen lion ; the young
man gazed upon him with a look of withering
and bitter scorn, and said, while he sheathed his
blade, and slowly turned to quit the crowd,

" Fool, miserable fool ! thou and these at
least had no blood of kindred to avenge /"

They heeded not his words, they saw him not
depart ; for, as Rienzi, without a word, without a
groan, fell to the earth, as the roaring waves
of the multitude closed over him, a voice shrill,
sharp, and wild, was heard above all the clamour.
At the casement of the Palace, (the casement of



342 RIENZI,

her bridal chamber,) Nina stood ! through the
flames, that burst below and around, her face
and out-stretched arms alone visible ! Ere yet
the sound of that thrilling cry passed from the
air, down with a mighty crash thundered that
whole wing of the Capitol, a blackened and
smouldering mass.

At that hour, a solitary boat was sailing
swiftly down the Tiber. Rome was at a distance,
but the lurid glow of the conflagration cast its
reflection upon the placid and glassy stream:
fair beyond description was the landscape ; soft
beyond all art of Painter and of Poet, the sun-
light quivering over the autumnal herbage, and
hushing into tender calm the waves of the
golden Tiber !

Adrian's eyes were strained towards the
towers of the Capitol, distinguished by the
flames from the spires and domes around : sense-
less and clasped to his guardian breast, Irene was
happily unconscious of the horrors of the time.

" They dare not, they dare not," said the
brave Colonna, " touch a hair of that sacred



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 343

head if Rienzi fall, the liberties of Rome fall
for ever !( e ) As those towers that surmount the
flames, the pride and monument of Rome, he
shall rise above the dangers of the hour. Behold,
still unscathed amidst the raging element,
the Capitol itself is his emblem !"

Scarce had he spoke, when a vast volume of
smoke obscured the fires afar off, a dull crash
(deadened by the distance) travelled to his ear,
and the next moment, the towers on which he
gazed, had vanished from the scene, and one
intense and sullen glare seemed to settle over
the atmosphere, making all Rome itself, the
funeral pyre of THE LAST OF THE ROMAN
TRIBUNES !



NOTES TO BOOK X.



Note (a) Page 298.

The words of Montreal in the original, are even
yet stronger in self-commendation " Pregovi che
vi amiate e siate valorosi al mondo, come fui io, che
mi feci fare obbedienza a la Puglia, Toscana, e a
la Marca." Fit. di Cola di Rienzi, lib. ii. cap. xxii.

Note (b)Page 299.

The military renown and bold exploits of Montreal
are acknowledged by all the Italian authorities. One
of them declares that since the time of Caesar Italy
had never known so great a Captain. The biographer
of Rienzi, forgetting all the offences of the splendid
and knightly robber, seems to feel only commiseration
for his fate. He informs us, moreover, that at Tivoli
one of his servants hearing his death, died himself of
grief, the following day. Notable reason have I for
conjecturing that this faithful servant was the rude and
ferocious Rodolf of Saxony, and fain would I have
painted that wild fidelity. But after Montreal's fall,
no meaner death could be allowed to delay that death
which is his revenge !

Note (c}Page 319.

There was the lapse of one year between the release
of Rienzi from Avignon, and his triumphal return to
Rome : a year chiefly spent in the campaign of Albor-

noz.

Q 5



346 NOTES.

Note (d)Page 320.

This superstition had an excuse in strange histo-
rical coincidences ; and the number seven was indeed
to Rienzi what the 3rd of September was to Cromwell.
The ceremony of the seven crowns which he received
after his knighthood, and of the nature of which, ri-
diculous ignorance has been shown by many recent
writers, was in fact principally a religious and typical
donation, symbolical of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, con-
ferred by the heads of convents and that part of the ce-
remony which was political, was republican, not regal.

Note (e), Page 343.

I said (in the preface to this work) that in some
respects I differed from Gibbon in his view of the
character of Rienzi. I differ from him yet more as
to the causes of Rienzi's fall. Whatever the Roman's
faults, I repeat, that it was not by his faults he
fell. The principal authority from which the history
of the Tribune is composed, is a very curious bio-
graphy, by some unknown contemporary. It was pub-
lished, (and the errors of the former editions revised,)
by Muratori in his great collection, and has lately
been reprinted separately, accompanied by notes of
much discrimination and scholastic taste, and a com-
ment upon that celebrated poem of Petrarch, "Spirto
Gentil," which the majority of Italian critics have
concurred in considering addressed to Rienzi, and
which no man, less dull, and less conceited, than the
Abbe de Sade, could possibly consider addressed to
any one else.

This biography has been generally lauded for its



NOTES. 347

rare impartiality. And the author does indeed praise
and blame alike with a most singular appearance of
stolid candour. The work, in truth, is one of those
not uncommon proofs, of which Boswell's Johnson
is the most striking, that a very valuable book may
be written by a very silly man. The biographer of
Rienzi appears more like the biographer of Rienzi's
clothes, so minute is he on all details of their colour
and quality so silent is he upon every thing that
could throw light upon the motives of their wearer.
In fact, granting the writer every desire to be im-
partial, he is too foolish to be so. It requires some
cleverness to judge accurately of a very clever man in
very difficult circumstances, and the worthy biographer
is utterly incapable of giving us any clue to the actions
of Rienzi utterly unable to explain the conduct of
the man by the circumstance of the time. The weak-
ness of his vision causes him, therefore, often to squint.
We must add to this want of wisdom, a want of truth,
which the Herodotus-like simplicity of his style fre-
quently conceals. He describes things which had no
witness as precisely and distinctly as those which he
himself had seen. For instance, before the death of
Rienzi, in those awful moments when the Senator
was alone, unheard, unseen, he coolly informs us of
each motion, and each thought of Rienzi's, with as
much detail as if Rienzi had lived to tell him all about
it. And Gibbon, and others, have absolutely adopted
these palpable inventions without at all appearing sen-
sible of their own ridiculous credulity. Still, however,
to a patient and cautious reader the biography may
furnish a much better notion of Rienzi's character, than
we can glean from the historians who have borrowed



348 NOTES.

from it piece-meal. Such a reader will discard all the
writer's reasonings, will think little of his praise and
blame, and regard only the facts he narratesjudging them
true or doubtful, according as the writer had the oppor-
tunities of being himself the observer. Thus examining,
the reader will find evidence sufficient of Rienzi's genius,
and Rienzi's failings: carefully distinguishing the period
of his power as Tribune, and that of his power as Sena-
tor, he will find the Tribune vain, haughty, fond of dis-
play he will not recognise those faults in the Senator.
On the other hand, he will notice the difference be-
tween youth and maturity ; hope and experience; he
will notice in the Tribune vast ambition, great schemes,
enterprising activity which sober into less gorgeous
and more quiet colours in the portrait of the Senator.
He will find that in neither instance did Rienzi fall
from his own faults he will find that the vulgar moral
of ambition blasted by its own excesses, is not the
true moral of the Roman's life ; he will find that both in
his abdication as Tribune, and his death as Senator,
Rienzi fell from the vices of the people. The Tribune
was a victim to ignorant cowardice the Senator a
victim to ferocious avarice. It is this which modern
historians have failed to represent. Gibbon records
rightly, that the Count of Minorbino entered Rome
with one hundred and fifty soldiers, and barricaded
the quarter of the Colonna that the bell of the Ca-
pitol sounded that Rienzi addressed the People that
they were silent and inactive and that Rienzi then
abdicated the government. But for this he calls Ri-
enzi " pusillanimous " Is not that epithet to be applied
to the people ? Rienzi invoked them to move against the
robber the People refused to obey. Rienzi wished to



NOTES. 349

fight the People refused to stir. It was not the cause of
Rienzi alone which demanded their exertions it was the
cause of the People theirs, not his, the shame, if
one hundred and fifty foreign soldiers mastered Rome,
overthrew their liberties, and restored their tyrants !
Whatever Rienzi's sins whatever his unpopularity
their freedom, their laws, their republic were at stake,
and these they surrendered to one hundred and fifty
hirelings ! This is the fact that damns them ! But
Rienzi was not unpopular when he addressed and con-
jured them they found no fault with him. " The
sighs and the groans of the People," says Sismondi,
"replied to his" they could weep, but they would not
fight. This strange apathy the modern historians have
not accounted for, yet the principal cause was obvi-
ous Rienzi was excommunicated ! In stating the fact,
these writers have seemed to think that excommunica-
tion in Rome in the fourteenth century produced no
effect ! the effect it did produce I have endeavoured
in these volumes to convey.

The causes of the Second fall and final massacre of
Rienzi are equally mistated by modern narrators.
It was from no fault of his no injustice no cruelty
no extravagance it was not from the execution of Mon-
treal nor that of Pandulfo di GuidO it was from a ga-
belle on wine and salt that he fell. To preserve Rome
from the tyrants it was necessary to maintain an armed
force; to pay the force a tax was necessary; the tax
was imposed and the multitude joined with the
tyrants, and their cry was " Perish the traitor who has
made the gabelle!" This was their only charge this
the only crime that their passions and their fury could
cite against him.

The faults of llienzi were sufficiently visible, and



350 NOTES.

I have not unsparingly shown them ; but we must
judge men, not according as they approach perfection,
but according as their good or bad qualities prepon-
derate their talents or their weakness the benefits
they effected the evil they wrought. For a man who
rose to so great a power, Rienzi's faults were singularly
few crimes be committed none. He is almost the only
man who ever rose from the rank of a citizen to a
power equal to that of monarchs without a single act of
violence or treachery. When in power, he was some-
times vain, ostentatious, and imprudent; always an
enthusiast often a fanatic ; but his very faults had
greatness of soul, and his very fanaticism at once sup-
ported his enthusiastic daring and proved his earnest
honesty. It is evident that no heinous charge could be
brought against him even by his enemies, for all the ac-
cusations to which he was subjected, when excommuni-
cated, exiled, fallen, were for two offences which Pe-
trarch rightly deemed the proofs of his virtue and his
glory : first, for declaring Rome to be free ; secondly,
for pretending that Romans had a right of choice in the
election of the Roman Emperor.* Stern, just, and in-
flexible, as he was, when Tribune, his fault was never
that of wanton cruelty. Petrarch's accusation against
him, indeed, was that he was not determined enough
that he did not consummate the revolution by exter-
minating the Patrician tyrants. VFhen Senator, he
was, without sufficient ground, accused of avarice in
the otherwise just and necessary execution of Mon-
treal-t It was natural enough that his enemies and the
vulgar should suppose that he executed a debtor to
get rid of a debt ; but it was inexcusable in later, and

* The charge of heresy was dropped as without foundation-
t Gibbon, in mentioning the execution of Montreal, omits



NOTES, 351

wiser, and fairer writers to repeat so grave a calumny,
without at least adding the obvious suggestion, that
the avarice of Rienzi could have been much better
gratified by sparing than by destroying the life of one
of the richest subjects in Europe. Montreal, we may
be quite sure, would have purchased his life at an
immeasurably higher price than the paltry sum lent to
Rienzi by his brothers. And this is not even a probable
hypothesis, but a certain fact, for we are expressly
told, that Montreal, " knowing the Tribune was in
want of money, offered Rienzi, that if he would let
him go, he, Montreal, would furnish him not only with
twenty thousand florins, (four times the amount of
Rienzi's debt to him,) but with as many soldiers
and as much money as he pleased." This offer
Rienzi did not attend to. Would he have rejected
it had avarice been his motive? And what cul-
pable injustice, to mention the vague calumny with-
out citing the practical contradiction ! When Gib-
bon tells us also that " the most virtuous citizen of
Rome," meaning Pandulfo, or Pandolficcio* di Guido,
was sacrificed to his jealousy, he not only greatly
exaggerates the expression bestowed upon Pandulfo,
which is that of " virtuoso assai," and that, too, used

to state that Montreal was more than suspected of conspiracy
and treason to restore the Colonna. Matthew Villani records
it as a common belief that such truly was the offence of
the Proven 93!. The biographer of Rienzi gives additional
evidence of the fact. Gibbon's knowledge of this time was
superficial. Strangely enough, he represents Montreal as the
head of thejirst Free Company that desolated Italy.

* Matthew Villani speaks of him as a wise and good citizen
of great repute among the people and this it seems he really



352 NOTES.

by a man who styles the robber Montreal " eccellente
uorao di quale fama suono per tutta la Italia di
virtude" (so good a moral critic was the writer !)
but he also altogether waves all mention of the pro-
babilities that are sufficiently apparent, of the scheming
of Pandulfo to supplant Rienzi, and obtain the " Sig-
noria del Popolo."

Gibbon sneers at the military skill and courage of
Rienzi. For the, last there is no cause. His first at-
tempts, his first rise, attested sufficiently his daring
and brave spirit ; in every danger he was present
never shrinking from a foe as long as he was supported
by the People. He distinguished himself at Viterbo
when in the camp of Albornoz, and his end was
that of a hero. For the first, it would be excusable
enough if Rienzi the eloquent and gifted student,
called from the closet and the rostrum to assume the
command of an army should have been deficient in


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