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measure at will the greater part of the cell.
Green and damp were the mighty stones of
the walls, and through a narrow aperture, high



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 51

out of reach, came the moonlight, and slept
in long shadow over the rude floor. A bed at
one corner, completed the furniture of the room.
Such for months had been the abode of the
conqueror of the haughtiest barons, and the
luxurious dictator of the stateliest city of the
world !

Care, and travel, and time, and adversity, had
wrought their change in the person of Rienzi.
The proportions of his frame had enlarged from
the compact strength of earlier manhood, the
clear paleness of his cheek was bespread with a
hectic and deceitful glow. Even in his present
studies, intent as they seemed, and genial
though the lecture to a mind enthusiastic
even to fanaticism, his eyes could not rivet
themselves as of yore steadily to the page.
The charm was gone from the letters. Every
now and then he moved restlessly, started, re-
settled himself, and muttered broken exclama-
tions like a man in an anxious dream. Anon,
his gaze impatiently turned upward, about,
around, and there was a strange and wandering
fire in those large deep eyes, which might have

D 2



52 RIENZI,

thrilled the beholder with a vague and unaccount-
able awe.

Angelo had in the main correctly narrated the
latter of the adventures of Rienzi after his fall.
He had first with Nina and Angelo betaken
himself to Naples, and found a fallacious and brief
favour with Louis King of Hungary ; that harsh
but honourable monarch had refused to yield
his illustrious guest to the demands of Clement,
but had plainly declared his inability to shelter
him in safety. Maintaining secret inter-
course, with his partizans at Rome, the fugi-
tive then sought a refuge with the Ere-
mites, sequestered in the lone recesses of
the Monte Maiella, where in solitude and
thought he had passed a whole year, save the
time consumed in his visit to and return from
Florence. Taking advantage of the Jubilee in
Rome, he had then, disguised as a pilgrim, tra-
versed the vales and mountains still rich in
the melancholy ruins of ancient Rome, and en-
tering the city, his restless and ambitious spirit
indulged in new but vain conspiracies. Excom-
municated a second time by the Cardinal di



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 53

Ceccano, and again a fugitive, he shook the dust
from his feet as he left the city, and raising his
hand towards those walls in which are yet
traced the witness of the Tarquins, cried aloud,
" Honoured as thy prince persecuted as thy
victim Rome, Rome, thou shalt yet receive me
as thy conqueror !"

Still disguised as a pilgrim, he passed un-
scathed through Italy into the court of the
Emperor Charles of Bohemia, where the page,
who had probably witnessed, had rightly narrated,
his reception. It is doubtful, however, whether
the conduct of the Emperor had been as chival-
rous as appears by Angelo's relation, or whether
he had not delivered Rienzi to the Pontiff's emis-
saries. At all events, it is certain, that from
Prague to Avignon, the path of the fallen Tribune
had been as one triumph. The lapse of years
his strange adventures his unbroken spirit the
disorders of Rome, when relieved from his in-,
flexible justice the new power that Intellect
daily and wonderfully excited over the minds of
the rising generation the eloquence of Petrarch,
and the common sympathy of the vulgar for



54 RIENZI,

fallen greatness, all conspired to make Rienzi
the hero of the age. Not a town through which
he passed which would not have risked a siege
for his protection not a house that would not
have sheltered him not a hand that would not
have struck in his defence. Refusing all offers of
aid, disdaining all occasion of escape, inspired by
his indomitable hope, and his unalloyed belief
in the brightness of his own destinies, the Tri-
bune sought Avignon and found a dungeon !

These, his external adventures, are briefly and
easily told, but who shall tell what passed with-
in? who narrate the fearful history of the
heart? who paint the rapid changes of emo-
tion and of thought the indignant grief the
stern dejection the haughty disappointment
that saddened while it never destroyed the re-
solve of that great soul? Who can say what
must have been endured, what meditated, in the
hermitage of Maiella; on the lonely hills of the
perished empire it had been his dream to re-
store ; in the courts of barbarian kings ; and
above all, on returning obscure and disguised,
amidst the crowds of the Christian world, to the



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 55

seat of his former power ? What elements of
memory, and in what a wild and fiery brain !
What reflections to be conned in the dungeons of
Avignon, by a man who had pushed into all
the fervour of fanaticism four passions, a
single one of which has, in excess, sufficed to
wreck the strongest reason passions, which in
themselves it is most difficult to combine, the
dreamer the aspirant the very nympholept of
freedom, yet of power of knowledge, yet of
religion !

" Ay," muttered the prisoner, " ay, these
texts are comforting comforting. The righ-
teous are not alway oppressed." With a long
sigh he deliberately put aside the Bible, kissed
it with great reverence, remained silent, and
musing for some minutes, and then as a slight
noise was heard at one corner of the cell, said
softly, " Ah, my friends, my comrades, the
rats ! it is their hour I am glad I put aside
the bread for them !" His eye brightened, as
it now detected those strange and unsocial ani-
mals, venturing forth through a hole in the wall
and, darkening the moonshine on the floor,



56 RIENZI,

steal fearlessly towards him. He flung some
fragments of bread to them, and for some mo-
ments watched their gambols with a smile.
" Manchino, the white-faced rascal ! he beats
all the rest ha, ha! he is a superior wretch
he commands the tribe, and will venture the first
into the trap. How will he bite against the
steel, the fine fellow ! while all the ignobler
herd will gaze at him afar off, and quake and
fear, and never help. Yet if united, they might
gnaw the trap and release their leader ! Ah,
ye are base vermin, and while ye eat my bread, if
death come upon me, and I were clay, ye would
riot on my carcase. Away !" and clapping his
hands, the chain round him clanked harshly,
and the noisome co-mates of his dungeon vanish-
ed in an instant

That singular and eccentric humour which
marked Rienzi, and which had seemed a buf-
foonery to the stolid sullenness of the Roman
nobles, still retained its old expression in his
countenance, and he laughed loud as he saw the
vermin hurry back to their hiding place.

" A little noise and the clank of a chain



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 57

fie, how ye imitate mankind !" Again he sank
into silence, and then heavily and listlessly
drawing towards him the animated tales of
Livy, said, " An hour to midnight ! waking
dreams are better than sleep. Well, history
tells us how men have risen ay, and nations
too after wilder falls than that of Rienzi or of
Rome !"

In a few minutes, he was apparently absorbed
in the lecture ; so intent indeed was he in the
task, that he did not hear the steps which wound
the spiral stairs that conducted to his cell, and
it was not till the wards harshly grated be-
neath the huge key, and the door creaked on
its hinges, that Rienzi, in amaze at intrusion
at so unwonted an hour, lifted his eyes. The
door had reclosed on the dungeon, and by the
lonely and pale lamp, he beheld a figure leaning,
as for support, against the wall. The figure
was wrapt from head to foot in the long cloak of
the day, and aided by a broad hat, shaded by
plumes, concealed even the features of the visiter.

Rienzi gazed long and wistfully.

" Speak," he said at length, putting his hand



58 RIENZI,

to his brow. " Methinks either long solitude
has bewildered me, or, sweet sir, your appari-
tion dazzles. I know you not am I sure ? "
and Rienzi's hair bristled while he slowly rose
" Am I sure that it is living man who stands
before me ! Angels have entered the prison-
house before now. Alas ! an angel's comfort
never was more needed."

The stranger answered not, but the captive
saw that his heart heaved even beneath his cloak ;
loud sobs choked his voice ; at length, as by a
violent effort, he sprung forward, and sunk at the
Tribune's feet. The disguising hat, the long
mantle fell to the ground it was the face of
a woman that looked upward through pas-
sionate and glazing tears the arms of a wo-
man that clasped the prisoner's knees ! Rienzi
gazed mute and motionless as stone. " Powers
and saints of heaven !" he murmured at last,
" do ye tempt me further ! is it ? no, no yet
speak !"

" Beloved adored ! do you not know me ?"

" It is it is !" shrieked Rienzi wildly, " it is

my Nina my wife my " His voice forsook



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 59

him. Clasped in each other's arms, the unfor-
tunates for some moments seemed to have lost
even the sense of delight at their reunion. It
was as an unconscious and deep trance, through
which something like a dream only faintly and
indistinctively stirs.

At length recovered at length restored, the
first broken exclamations, the first wild caresses
of joy over Nina lifted her head from her hus-
band's bosom, and gazed sadly on his counte-
nance " Oh, what thou hast known since we
parted ! what, since that hour, when borne on
by thy bold heart and wild destiny, thou didst
leave me in the Imperial court, to seek again
the diadem and find the chain ! Ah ! why did I
heed thy commands why suffer thee to depart
alone ? How often, in thy progress hitherward,
in doubt, in danger, might this bosom have been
thy resting-place, and this voice have whispered
comfort to thy soul ! Thou art well, my lord
my Cola? Thy pulse beats quicker than of
old thy brow is furrowed. Ah ! tell me thou
art well !"

" Well !" said Rienzi, mechanically. " Me-



60 RIENZI,

thinks so ! the mind diseased blunts all sense of
bodily decay. Well ! yes ! And, you you, at
least, are not changed, save to maturer beauty.
The glory of the laurel- wreath has not faded from
thy brow. Thou shalt yet " then breaking
off abruptly " Rome tell me of Rome ! And
thou how earnest thou hither ? Ah ! perhaps
my doom is set, and in their mercy they have
vouchsafed that I should see thee once more
before the deathsman blinds me. I remember,
it is the grace vouchsafed to malefactors. When
7 was a lord of life and death, I too permitted
the meanest criminal to say farewell to those
he loved."

" No not so, Cola !" exclaimed Nina, put-
ting her hand before his mouth. " I bring thee
more auspicious tidings. To-morrow thou art
to be heard. The favour of the court is pro-
pitiated. Thou wilt be acquitted."

" Ha I speak again."

" Thou wilt be heard, my Cola thou must
be acquitted !"

" And Rome be free ! Great God, I thank
thee !"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 61

The Tribune sank on his knees, and never
had his heart, in his youngest and purest hour,
poured forth thanksgiving more fervent, yet less
selfish. When he rose again, the whole man
seemed changed. His eye had resumed its
earlier expression of deep and serene command.
Majesty sate upon his brow. The sorrows of
the exile were forgotten. In his sanguine and
rapid thoughts, he stood once more the guardian
of his country, and its sovereign !

Nina gazed upon him with that intense and
devoted worship, which, for Rienzi, the hero of
her youth, steeped her vainer, and her harder
qualities, in all the fondness of the softest wo-
man. " Such," thought she, " was his look
eight years ago, when he left my maiden cham-
ber, full of the mighty schemes which liberated
Rome such his look, when at the dawning sun
he towered amidst the crouching barons, and
the kneeling population, of the city he had made
his throne ! "

" Yes, Nina !" said Rienzi, as he turned and
caught her eye. " My soul tells me that my
hour is at hand. If they try me openly, they



6*2 RIENZI,

dare not convict if they acquit me, they dare
not but restore. To-morrow, saidst thou, to-
morrow ?"

" To-morrow, Rienzi ; be prepared !"

" I am for triumph ! But tell me what
happy chance brought thee to Avignon ?"

" Chance, Cola !" said Nina, with reproachful
tenderness. " Could I know that thou wert in
the dungeons of the Pontiff, and linger in idle
security at Prague? Even at the Emperor's
court thou hadst thy partizans and favourers.
Gold was easily procured. I repaired to Flo-
rencedisguised my name and came hither to
plot, to scheme, to win thy liberty, or to die
with thee. Ah ! did not thy heart tell thee that
morning and night the eyes of thy faithful Nina
gazed upon this gloomy tower; and that one
friend, humble though she be, never could for-
sake thee !"

"Sweet Nina! Yet yet at Avignon
power yields not to beauty without reward.
Remember, there is a worse death than the
pause of life."

Nina turned pale. "Fear not," she said,



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 63

with a low but determined voice; "fear not,
that men's lips should say Rienzi's wife de-
livered him. None in this corrupted court
know that I am thy wife."

" Woman," said the Tribune, sternly ; " thy
lips elude the answer I would seek. In our
degenerate time and land, thy sex and ours for-
get too basely what foulness writes a leprosy in
the smallest stain upon a matron's honour. That
thy heart would never wrong me, I believe ;
but if thy weakness, thy fear of my death
should wrong me, thou art a bitterer foe to
Rienzi than the swords of the Colonna. Nina,
speak !"

" Oh, that my soul could speak," answered
Nina. " Thy words are music to me, and not a
thought of mine but echoes them. Could 1
touch this hand, could I meet that eye, and
not know that death were dearer to thee
than shame ? Rienzi, when last we parted, in
sadness, yet in hope, what were thy words to
me ?"

" I remember them well," returned the Tri-
bune : " ' I leave thee,' I said, ' to keep alive



64 RIENZI,

at the Emperor's court, by thy genius, the
Great Cause, Thou hast youth and beauty and
courts have lawless and ruffian suitors. I give
thee no caution ; it were beneath thee and me.
But I leave thee the power of death/ And
with that, Nina "

" Thy hands tremblingly placed in mine this
dagger. I live need I say more ?'

" My noble and beloved Nina, it is enough.
Keep the dagger yet."

" Yes ; till we meet in the Capitol of Rome !"

A slight tap was heard at the door, Nina re-
gained, in an instant, her disguise.

" It is on the stroke of midnight," said the
jailor, appearing at the threshold.

" I come," said Nina.

" And thou hast to prepare thy thoughts,"
she whispered to Rienzi : " arm all thy glorious
intellect. Alas ! is it again we part. How my
heart sinks !"

The presence of the jailor at the threshold
broke the bitterness of parting by abridging it.
The false page pressed her lips on the prisoner's
hand, and left the cell.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 65

The jailor, lingering behind for a moment,
placed a parchment on the table. It was the
summons from the court appointed for the
trial of the Tribune.



66 RIENZI,



CHAPTER VI.

THE SCENT DOES NOT LIE THE PRIEST AND THE

SOLDIER.

ON descending the stairs, Nina was met by
Alvarez.

" Fair page," said the Spaniard, gaily, " thy
name, thou tellest me, is Villani ? Angelo Vil-
lani why I know thy kinsman, methinks.
Vouchsafe, young master, to enter this chamber,
and drink a night-cup to thy lady's health ;
I would fain learn tidings of my old friends."

" Another time," answered the false Angelo,
drawing the cloak closer round her face ; " it is
late I am hurried."

" Nay," said the Spaniard, " you escape me
not so easily ;" and he caught firm hold of the
page's shoulder.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 67

" Unhand me, sir," said Nina, haughtily, and
almost weeping, for her strong nerves were yet
unstrung. " Jailor, at thy peril unbar the
gates."

" So hot," said Alvarez, surprised at so
great a waste of dignity in a page ; " nay, I
meant not to offend thee. May I wait on thy
pageship to-morrow?"

" Ay, to-morrow," said Nina, eager to escape.

" And meanwhile," said Alvarez, " I will ac-
company thee home we can confer by the way."

So saying, without regarding the protestations
of the supposed page, he passed with Nina into
the open air. " Your lady," said he, carelessly,
" is wondrous fair ; her lightest will is law to
the greatest noble of Avignon, methinks she is
of Naples is it so? Art thou dumb, sweet
youth ?"

The page did not answer, but with a step so
rapid that it almost put the slow Spaniard out
of breath, hastened along the narrow space be-
tween the tower and the palace of the Signora
Caesarini, nor could all the efforts of Alvarez
draw forth a single syllable from his reluctant



68 RIENZI,

companion, till they reached the gates of the
palace, and he found himself discourteously and
discomfited left without the walls.

" A plague on the boy !" said he, biting his
lips ; " if the Cardinal thrive as well as his ser-
vant, by're lady, his Eminence is a happy man !"

By no means pleased with the prospect of an
interview with Albornoz, who, like most able men,
valued the talents of those he employed exactly
in proportion to their success, the Spaniard
slowly returned home. With the license ac-
corded to him, he entered the Cardinal's chamber
somewhat abruptly, and perceived him in earnest
conversation with a Cavalier, whose long mous-
tache curled upward, and the bright cuirass he
wore underneath his mantle, seemed to be-
token him of martial profession. Pleased with
the respite, Alvarez hastily withdrew; and in
fact, the Cardinal's thoughts at that moment,
and for that night, were bent upon other sub-
jects than those of love.

The interruption served, however, to shorten
the conversation between Albornoz and his
guest. The latter rose.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 69

" I think" said, he, buckling on a short and
broad rapier, which he had laid aside during the
interview, " I think, my Lord Cardinal, that your
Eminence encourages me to consider that our
negociation stands a fair chance of a prosperous
close. Ten thousand florins, and my brother
quits Viterbo, and launches the thunderbolt of
the Company on the lands of Rimini. On your
part "

" On my part it is agreed," said the Cardinal,
" that the army of the Church interferes not
with the course of your brother's arms there is
peace between us. One warrior understands
another !"

" And the word of Giles D'Albornoz, son of
the royal race of Arragon, is a guarantee for the
faith of a Cardinal, " replied the Cavalier, with a
smile. " It is, my Lord, in your former quality
that we treat."

" There is my right-hand," answered Albor-
noz, too politic to heed the insinuation. The
Cavalier raised it respectfully to his lips, and his
armed tread was soon heard descending the
stairs.



70 RIENZI,

" Victory !" cried Albornoz, tossing his arms
aloof; " Victory, now thou art mine."

With that he rose hastily deposited his
papers in an iron chest and opening a con-
cealed door behind the arras, entered a chamber
that rather resembled a monk's cell than the
apartment of a prince. Over a mean pallet hung
a sword, a dagger, and a rude image of the Vir-
gin. Without summoning Alvarez, the Cardi-
nal unrobed, and in a few moments was asleep.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 71



CHAPTER VII.

VAUCLUSE AND ITS GENIUS LOCI OLD ACQUAINT-
ANCE RENEWED.

THE next day at early noon the Cavalier, whom
our last chapter presented to the reader, was
seen mounted on a strong Norman horse, wind-
ing his way slowly along a green and pleasant
path some miles from Avignon. At length he
found himself in a wild and romantic valley
through which wandered that delightful river
whose name the verse of Petrarch has given to
so beloved a fame. Sheltered by rocks and in
this part winding through the greenest banks,
enamelled with a thousand wild flowers and
water-weeds went the chrystal Sorgia. Ad-
vancing farther, the landscape assumed a more
sombre and sterile aspect. The valley seemed
enclosed or shut in by fantastic rocks of a



72 RIENZI,

thousand shapes down which dashed and glit-
tered a thousand rivulets. And, in the very
wildest of the scene, the ground suddenly
opened into a quaint and cultivated gar-
den, through which, amidst a profusion of
foliage, was seen a small and lowly mansion, the
hermitage of the place. The horseman was in
the valley of the Vaucluse ; and before his eye
lay the garden and the house of PETRARCH !
Carelessly, however, his eye scanned the conse-
crated spot and unconsciously it rested, for a
moment, upon a solitary figure seated musingly
by the margin of the river. A large dog at the
side of the noonday idler barked at the horse-
man as he rode on. " A brave animal and a
deep bay !" thought the traveller ; to him the
dog seemed an object much more interesting
than its master ! And so, as the crowd of little
men pass, unheeding and unmoved, those whom
posterity acknowledges the landmarks of their
age, the horseman turned his glance from their
Poet!

Thrice blessed name ! Immortal Florentine !
not as the lover, nor even as the poet, do I bow
before thy consecrated memory venerating



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 73

thee as one it were sacrilege to introduce
in this unworthy page save by name and as a
shadow ; but as the first who ever asserted to
people and to prince, the august majesty of
Letters ; who claimed to genius the prerogative
to influence states, to control opinion, to hold an
empire over the hearts of men, and prepare
events by animating passion, and guiding
thought ! What, (though but feebly felt and
dimly seen) what do we yet owe to Thee
if Knowledge be now a Power ; if MIND be a
Prophet, and a Fate, fore-telling and fore-dooming
the things to come ! From the greatest to the
least of us, to whom the pen is at once a sceptre
and a sword, the low-born Florentine* has been
the arch-messenger to smooth the way and
prepare the welcome. Yes ! even the meanest of
the aftercomers even he who now vents his
gratitude, is thine everlasting debtor ! Thine,
how largely is the honour, if his labours, humble
though they be, find an audience wherever

* I need scarcely say that it is his origin, not his
actual biith, which entitles us to term Petrarch a
Florentine.

VOL. III. E



74 RIENZI,

literature is known preaching in remotest lands
the moral of forgotten revolutions, and scat-
tering in the palace and the market-place the
seeds that shall ripen into fruit when the hand
of the sower shall be dust, and his very name,
perhaps, be lost ! For few, alas ! are they, whose
names may outlive the grave ; but the thoughts
of every man who writes, are made undying ;
others appropriate, advance, exalt them, and
millions of minds unknown, undreamt of, are
required to produce the immortality of one !

Indulging meditations very different from
those which the idea of Petrarch awakens in a
later time, the Cavalier pursued his path.

The valley was long left behind, and the way
grew more and more faintly traced, until it
terminated in a wood, through whose tangled
boughs the sunlight broke playfully. At length,
the wood opened into a wide glade, from which
rose a precipitous ascent, crowned with the
ruins of an old castle. The traveller dis-
mounted, led his horse up the ascent, and, gain-
ing the ruins, left his steed within one of the
roofless chambers, overgrown with the longest



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 75

grass, and a profusion of wild shrubs ; and as-
cending, with some toil, a narrow and broken
staircase, found himself in a small room, less
decayed than the rest, of which the roof and
floor were yet whole.

Stretched on the ground in his cloak, and
leaning his head thoughtfully on his hand, was a
man of tall stature, and middle age. He lifted
himself on his arm with great alacrity as the
Cavalier entered.

" Well, Brettone, I have counted the hours
what tidings?"

" Albornoz consents."

" Glad news ! Thou givest me new life.
Pardieu, I shall breakfast all the better for this,
my brother. Hast thou remembered that I am
famishing?"

Brettone drew from beneath his cloak a suf-
ficiently huge flask of wine, and a small panier,
tolerably well filled; the inmate of the tower
threw himself upon the provant with great
devotion. And both the soldiers, for such
they were, stretched at length on the ground,
regaled themselves with considerable zest,


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