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open court of the Capitol, with the Place of the
Lion, (as well as the state apartments within,)
was devoted to the festival.

As Adrian entered the festive court with the
rush of the throng, it chanced that in the eager
impatience of some maskers, more vehement
than the rest, his vizard was deranged. He
hastily replaced it, but not before one of the
guests had recognised his countenance.

From courtesy, Rienzi and his family remain-
ed at first unmasked. They stood at the head
of the stairs to which the old Egyptian Lion gave
the name. The lights shone over that colos-
sal monument which torn from its antique
home had witnessed, in its grim repose, the
rise and lapse of countless generations, and the
dark and stormy revolutions of avenging fate.
It was an ill omen often afterwards remarked,
that the place of that state festival was the place
also of the state executions. But at that mo-



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 181

ment, as group after group pressed forward,
to win smile and word from that celebrated
man, whose fortunes had been the theme of
Europe or to bend in homage to the lustrous
loveliness of Nina no omen and no warning
clouded the universal gladness.

Behind Nina, well contented to shrink from
the gaze of the throng, and to feel her softer
beauty eclipsed by the dazzling and gorgeous
charms of her brother's wife, stood Irene.
Amidst the crowd, on her alone Adrian fixed
his eyes. The years which had flown over the
fair brow of the girl of sixteen then animated
by, yet trembling beneath, the first wild breath
of Love ; youth in every vein passion and
childish tenderness in every thought, had not
marred, but it had changed the character of Irene's
beauty. Her cheek, no longer varying with
every instant, was settled into a delicate and
thoughtful paleness her form, more rounded to
the proportions of Roman beauty, had assumed
an air of dignified and calm repose. No longer
did the restless eye wander in search of some
imagined object; no longer did the lip quiver



182 RIENZI.

into smiles at some untold hope or half uncon-
scious recollection. A grave and mournful ex-
pression gave to her face, (still how sweet !)
a gravity beyond her years. The bloom, the
flush, the April of the heart was gone ; but yet
neither time, nor sorrow, nor blighted love,
had stolen from her countenance its rare and
angelic softness nor that inexpressible and
virgin modesty of form and aspect, which, con-
trasting the bolder beauties of Italy, had more
than aught else, distinguished to Adrian from
all other women, the dream and idol of his
heart. And feeding his gaze upon those dark,
deep eyes which spoke of thought far away
and busy with the past, Adrian felt again and
again that he was not forgotten ! Hovering near
her, but suffering the crowd to press, one after
another, before him, he did not perceive that he
had attracted the eagle eye of the Senator.

In fact, as one of the maskers passed Ri-
enzi, he whispered, " Beware, a Colonna is
among the masks ! beneath the reveller's domi-
no, has often lurked the assassin's dagger.
Yonder stands your foe mark him !"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 183

These words were the first sharp and thrilling
intimation of the perils into which he had rush-
ed, that the Tribune Senator had received since
his return. He changed colour slightly, and for
some minutes the courtly smile and ready gra-
tulation with which he had hitherto delighted
every guest, gave way to a moody abstraction.

" Why stands yon strange man so mute and
motionless ? " whispered he to Nina. " He
speaks to none he approaches us not a
chui'l, a churl he must be seen to."

" Doubtless, some German or English barba-
rian," answered Nina. " Let not, my Lord, so
slight a cloud dim your merriment."

" You are right, dearest we have friends
here we are well girt. And by my father's
ashes, I feel that I must accustom myself to
danger. Nina, let us move on ; methinks we
might now mix among the maskers masked
ourselves."

The music played loud and cheerily as the
Senator and his party mingled with the
throng. But still his eye turned ever towards
the grey domino of Adrian, and he perceived



1 84 RIENZI,

that it followed his steps. Approaching the
private entrance of the Capitol, he, for a few
moments, lost sight of his unwelcome pursuer :
but just as he entered, turning abruptly, Rienzi
perceived him close at his side the next mo-
ment the stranger had vanished amidst the throng.
But that moment had sufficed to Adrian, he
had reached Irene. " Adrian Colonna (he
whispered) waits thee beside the Lion."

In the absorption of his own reflections Ri-
enzi fortunately did not notice the sudden pale-
ness and agitation of his sister. Entered with-
in his palace, he called for wine the draught
revived his spirits he listened smilingly to the
sparkling remarks of Nina, and enduing his
mask and disguise, said with his wonted cheerful-
ness, " Now for Truth strange that in festi-
vals it should only speak behind a vizard ! My
sweet sister, thou hast lost thine old smile, and
I would rather see that than Ha ! has Irene
vanished ?"

" Only, I suppose, to change her dress, my
Cola, and mingle with the revellers," answered
Nina. " Let my smile atone for hers."



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 185

Rienzi kissed the bright brow of his wife as
she clung fondly to his bosom. " Thy smile is
the sunlight," said he, " but this girl disturbs
me ? Methinks now, at least, she might wear
a gladder aspect."

" Is there nothing of love beneath my fair
sister's gloom ?" answered Nina. " Do you not
call to mind how she loved Adrian Colonna ?"

" Does that fantasy hold still ?" returned Ri-
enzi musingly. " Well, and she is fit bride for a
monarch."

" Yet it were an alliance that would, better
than one with monarchs, strengthen thy power
at Rome!"

" Ay, were it possible but that haughty
race ! Perchance this very masker, that so
haunted our steps, was but her lover. I will look
to this. Let us forth, my Nina. Am I well
cloked?"

" Excellently well and I?"

" The sun behind a cloud."

"Ah, let us tarry not long; what hour of
revel like that when, thy hand in mine, this
head upon thy bosom we forget the sorrows



186 RIENZI,

we have known, and even the triumphs we
have shared ?"

Meanwhile, Irene, confused and lost amidst
a transport of emotion, already disguised and
masked, was threading her way through the
crowd, back to the staircase of the Lion. With
the absence of the Senator, that spot had
become comparatively deserted. Music and
the dance attracted the maskers to another
quarter of the wide space. And Irene now
approaching, beheld the moonlight fall over
the statue, and a solitary figure leaning against
the pedestal. She paused, the figure ap-
proached, and again she heard the voice of
her early love.

" Oh Irene ! recognised even in this disguise,"
said Adrian, seizing her trembling hand ; " have
I lived to gaze again upon that form to
touch this hand ? Did not these eyes behold
thee lifeless in that fearful vault, which I shud-
der to recall ? By what miracle wert thou raised
again ? By what means did Heaven spare to this
earth, one, that it seemed already to have placed
amongst its angels ?"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 187

" Was this indeed thy belief?" said Irene,
falteringly, but with an accent eloquent of joy.
" Thou didst not then willingly desert me ?
Unjust that I was, I wronged thy noble nature,
and deemed that my brother's fall, my humble
lineage, thy brilliant fate, had made thee re-
nounce Irene."

" Unjust indeed," answered the lover. " But
surely I saw thee amongst the dead! thy
cloak, with the silver stars who else wore
the arms of the Roman Tribune ?"

" Was it but the cloak then which, dropped in
the streets, was probably assumed by some more
ill-fated victim; was it that sight alone, that
made thee so soon despair? Ah ! Adrian," con-
tinued Irene tenderly, but with reproach ; " Not
even when I saw thee seemingly lifeless on the
couch by which I had watched three days and
nights, not even then did / despair !"

" What, then my vision did not deceive me ;
it was you who watched by my bed in that grim
hour, whose love guarded, whose care preserved
me. And I, wretch that I was ! "

" Nay," answered Irene, " your thought was



188 RIENZI,

natural. Heaven seemed to endow me with
supernatural strength, whilst I was necessary
to thee. But judge of my dismay. I left
thee to seek the good friar who attended
thee as thy leach ; I returned, and found thee
not. Heart-sick and terrified, I searched the
desolate city in vain. Strong as I was while
hope supported me, I sunk beneath fear.
And my brother found me senseless, and
stretched on the ground, by the church of St.
Mark."

" The church of St. Mark ! so foretold his
dream !"

" He had told me he had met thee; we
searched for thee in vain : at length we heard
that thou hadst left the city, and and I re-
joiced, Adrian, but I repined !"

For some minutes the young lovers surren-
dered themselves to the delight of reunion,
while new explanations called forth new trans-
ports.

" And now," murmured Irene, " now that we
have met " she paused, and her mask con-
cealed her blushes.



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 189

" Now that we have met," said Adrian, filling
up the silence, " wouldst thou say farther that
we should not part ! Trust me, dearest, that is
the hope that animates my heart. It was but
to enjoy these brief bright moments with thee,
that I delayed my departure to Palestrina. Could
I but hope to bring my young cousin into amity
with thy brother, no barrier would prevent our
union. Willingly I forget the past the death
of my unhappy kinsmen ; (victims, it is true, to
their own faults ;) and perhaps, amidst all the
crowds that hailed his return, none more appre-
ciated the great and lofty qualities of Cola di
Rienzi, than did Adrian Colonna."

" If this be so," said Irene, " let me hope the
best ; meanwhile, it is enough of comfort and of
happiness to know, that we love each other as of
old. Ah, Adrian, I am sadly changed; and
often have I thought it a thing beyond my
dreams, that thou shouldst see me again and
love me still."

" Fairer art thou and lovelier than ever,"
answered Adrian, passionately ; " and time,
which has ripened thy bloom, has but taught



190 RIENZI,

me more deeply to feel thy value. Farewell,
Irene, I linger here no longer ; thou wilt, I trust,
hear soon of my success with my House, and ere
the week be over I may return to claim thy hand
in face of day."

The lovers parted; Adrian lingered on the
spot, and Irene hastened to bury her emotion
and her raptures in her own chamber.

As her form vanished, and the young Colonna
slowly turned away, a tall mask strode abruptly
towards him.

" Thou art a Colonna " it said, " and in
the power of the Senator. Dost thou tremble ?"

" If I be a Colonna, rude masker," answered
Adrian coolly, " thou shouldst know that a Co-
lonna never trembles.' 1

The stranger laughed aloud, and then lifting
his mask, Adrian saw that it was the Senator
who stood before him.

" My Lord Adrian di Castello," said Rienzi,
resuming all his gravity, " is it as friend or foe,
that you have honoured our revels this night?"

" Senator of Rome," answered Adrian with
equal stateliness, " I .partake of no man's hospi-



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 191

tality but as a friend. A foe, at least to you,
I trust never justly to be esteemed."

" I would," rejoined Rienzi, " that I could
apply to myself unreservedly that most flatter-
ing speech. Are these friendly feelings enter-
tained towards me as the Governor of the Ro-
man people, or as the brother of the woman who
has listened to your vows ?"

Adrian, who when the Senator had unmasked
had followed his example, felt at these words
that his eye quailed beneath Rienzi's. How-
ever, he recovered himself with the wonted
readiness of an Italian, and replied laconically,

" As both."

" Both !" echoed Rienzi, " then, indeed,
noble Adrian, you are welcome hither. And
yet methinks, if you conceived there was no
cause for enmity between us, you would have
wooed the sister of Cola di Rienzi in a guise
more worthy of your birth ; and permit me to
add, of that station, which God, destiny, and my
country, have accorded unto me. You dare not,
young Colonna, meditate dishonour to the sister
of the Senator of Rome. High born as you are,
she is your equal."



192 RIENZI,

" Were I the Emperor, whose simple knight
I but am, your sister were my equal," answered
Adrian, warmly. " Rienzi, I grieve that I am
discovered to you yet. I had trusted that as a
mediator between the Barons and yourself, I
might first have won your confidence, and then
claimed my reward. Know that with to mor-
row's dawn, I depart for Palestrina, seeking to
reconcile my young cousin to the choice of the
People and the Pontiff. Various reasons, which
I need not now detail, would have made me
wish to undertake this heraldry of peace with-
out previous communication with you. But
since we have met, entrust me with any terms
of conciliation, and I pledge you the right-hand,
not of a Roman noble alas ! the prisca Jides
has departed from that pledge ! but of a knight
of the imperial court, that I will not betray your
confidence."

Rienzi, accustomed to read the human coun-
tenance, had kept his eyes intently fixed upon
Adrian while he spoke ; when the Colonna con-
cluded, he pressed the proffered hand, and said
with that familiar and winning sweetness, which
at times was so peculiar to his manner,



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 193

" I trust you, Adrian, from my soul. You
were mine early friend in calmer, perchance
happier, years. And never did river reflect
the stars more clearly, than your heart then
mirrored back the truth. I trust you !"

While thus speaking, he had mechanically
led back the Colonna to the statue of the Lion ;
there pausing, he resumed.

" Know that I have this morning despatched
my delegate to your cousin Stefanello. With
all due courtesy, I have apprised him of my
return to Rome, and invited hither his honoured
presence. Forgetting all ancient feuds, mine
own past exile, I have assured him, here, the
station and dignity due to the head of the Co-
lonna. All that I ask in return, is obedience
to the law. Years and reverses have abated
my younger pride, and though I may yet pre-
serve the sternness of the Judge, none shall
hereafter complain of the insolence of the Tri-
bune."

" I would," answered Adrian, " that your
mission to Stefanello had been delayed a day ;
I would fain have forestalled its purport. How-

VOL. in. K



194 RIENZI,

belt, you increase my desire of departure,
should I yet succeed in obtaining an honourable
and peaceful reconciliation, it is not in disguise
that I will woo thy sister."

" And never did Colonna," replied Ilienzi
loftily, " bring to his House a maiden whose
alliance more gratified ambition. I yet see, as
I have seen ever, in mine own projects, and
mine own destinies, the chart of the new Ro-
man Empire !"

" Be not too sanguine yet, brave Rienzi," re-
plied Adrian ; " bethink thee on how many
scheming brains this dumb image of stone hath
looked down from its pedestal schemes of
sand, and schemers of dust. Thou hast enough,
at present, for the employ of all thine energy
not to extend thy power, but to preserve thy-
self. For, trust me, never stood human great-
ness on so wild and dark a precipice !"

" Thou art honest," said the Senator, " and
these are the first words of doubt, and yet of
sympathy, I have heard in Rome. But the people
love me the Barons have fled from Rome the
Pontiff approves and the swords of the North-



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 195

men guard the avenues of the Capitol. But
these are nought : in mine own honesty are my
spear and buckler. Oh, never," continued
Rienzi, kindling with his enthusiasm, " never
since the days of the old Republic, did Roman
dream a purer and a brighter aspiration, than
that which animates and supports me now.
Peace restored law established art, letters,
intellect, dawning upon the night of time ; the
patricians, no longer bandits of rapine, but the
guard of order, the people ennobled from a
mob, brave to protect, enlightened to guide,
themselves. Then, not by the violence of arms,
but by the majesty of her moral power, shall
the Mother of Nations claim the obedience of
her children. Thus dreaming and thus hop-
ing, shall I tremble or despond ? No, Adrian
Colonna, come weal or woe, I abide, unshrink-
ing and unawed, by the chances of my doom !"

So much did the manner and the tone of
the Senator exalt his language, that even the
sober sense of Adrian was enchanted and sub-
dued. He kissed the hand he held, and said
earnestly,

K 2



196 RIENZI,

" A doom that I will deem it my boast to
share a career that it will be my glory to
smooth. If I succeed in my present mis-
sion "

" You are my brother !" said Rienzi.

"If I fail?"

" You may equally claim that alliance. You
pause you change colour."

" Can I desert my House ?"

" Young Lord," said Rienzi, loftily, " say
rather can you desert your country? If you
doubt my honesty, if you fear my ambition,
desist from your task, rob me not of a single
foe. But if you believe that I have the will
and the power to serve the State if you
recognise, even in the reverses and calamities
I have known and mastered, the protecting hand
of the Saviour of Nations if those reverses
were but the mercies of Him who chasteneth
necessary, it may be, to correct my earlier
daring and sharpen yet more my intellect if, in
a word, thou believest me one whom, whatever
be his faults, God hath preserved for the sake
of Rome, forget that you are a Colonna re-
member only that you are a Roman !"



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 197

" You have conquered me strange and com-
manding spirit," said Adrian in a low voice,
completely carried away. " And whatever the
conduct of my kindred, I am your's and Rome's
Farewell!"



198 RIENZI,



CHAP. Ill

ADRIAN'S ADVENTURES AT PALESTRINA.

IT was yet noon when Adrian beheld before
him the lofty mountains that shelter Palestrina,
the Prceneste of the ancient world. Back to a
period before Romulus existed, in the earliest
ages of that mysterious civilisation, which in
Italy preceded the birth of Rome, could be
traced the existence and the power of that
rocky city. Eight dependent towns owned its
sway and its wealth; its position, and the strength
of those mighty walls, in whose ruins may yet
be traced the masonry of the remote Pelasgi,
had long braved the ambition of the neighbour-



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 199

ing Rome. From that very citadel, the Mural
Crown* of the mountain, had waved the standard
of Marius ; and up the road which Adrian's
scanty troop slowly wound, had echoed the
march of the murtherous Sylla, on his return
from the Mithridatic war. Below, where the
city spread towards the plain, were yet seen
the shattered and roofless columns of the once
celebrated Temple of Fortune, and still the
immemorial olives clustered grey and mourn-
fully around the ruins.

A more formidable hold the Barons of Rome
could not have selected ; and as Adrian's mili-
tary eye scanned the steep ascent and the rugged
walls, he felt that with ordinary skill it might
defy for months all the power of the Roman
Senator. Below, in the fertile valley, disman-
tled cottages and trampled harvests attested
the violence and rapine of the insurgent Barons;
and at that very moment were seen in the old

* Hence, apparently, its Greek name of Stephane.
Palestrina is yet one of the many proofs which the
vicinity of Rome affords of the old Greek civilisation
of Italy.



200 RIENZI,

plain of the warlike Hernici, troops of armed
men, driving before them herds of sheep and
cattle, collected in their lawless incursions. In
sight of that Prceneste> which had been the
favourite retreat of the luxurious Lords of Rome
in its most polished day, the Age of Iron seemed
renewed.

The banner of the Colonna, borne by Adrian's
troop, obtained ready admittance at the Porta
del Sole. As he passed up the irregular and
narrow streets that ascended to the citadel,
groups of foreign mercenaries, half ragged,
half tawdry knots of abandoned women, mixed
here and there with the liveries of the Colonna,
stood loitering amidst the ruins of ancient
fanes and palaces, or basked lazily in the sun,
upon terraces, through which, from amidst
weeds and grass, glowed the imperishable hues
of the rich mosaics, which had made the pride
of that lettered and graceful nobility, of whom
savage freebooters were now the heirs.

The contrast between the Past and the Pre-
sent forcibly occurred to Adrian, as he passed
along ; and despite his order, he felt as if civi-



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 201

lisation itself were enlisted against his House
upon the side of Rienzi.

Leaving his train in the court of the citadel,
Adrian demanded admission to the presence of
his cousin. He had left Stefanello a child on
his departure from Rome, and there could there-
fore be but a slight and unfamiliar acquaintance
betwixt them, despite their kindred.

Peals of laughter came upon his ear, as he
followed one of Stefanello's gentlemen through a
winding passage that led to the principal chamber.
The jdoor was thrown open, and Adrian found
himself in a rude hall, to which some appear-
ance of hasty state and attempted comfort had
been given. Costly arras imperfectly clothed
the stone walls, and the rich seats and decorated
tables, which the growing civilisation of the
northern cities of Italy had already introduced
in the palaces of Italian nobles, strangely con-
trasted the rough pavement, spread with heaps
of armour negligently piled around. At the
farther end of the apartment, Adrian shud-
deringly perceived, set in due and exact order,
the implements of torture.

K5



202 RIENZI,

Stefanello Colonna, with two other Barons,
indolently reclined on seats drawn around a
table, in the recess of a deep casement, from
which might be still seen the same glorious
landscape, bounded by the dim spires of Rome,
which Hannibal and Pyrrhus had ascended that
very citadel to survey !

Stefanello himself, in the first bloom of youth,
bore already on his beardless countenance those
traces usually the work of the passions and
vices of maturest manhood. His features were
cast in the mould of the old Stephen's; in their
clear, sharp, highbred outline might be noticed
that regular and graceful symmetry, which blood,
in men as in animals, will sometimes entail
through generations; but the features were wasted
and meagre. His brows were knit in an eternal
frown; his thin and bloodless lips wore that
insolent contempt which seems so peculiarly
cold and unlovely in early youth ; and the deep
and livid hollows round his eyes, spoke of ha-
bitual excess and premature exhaustion. By
him sat, (reconciled by hatred to another,) the
hereditary foes of his race : the soft, but



THE LAST OF THE TRIBUNES. 203

cunning and astute features of Luca di Savelli,
contrasted with the broad frame and ferocious
countenance of the Prince of the Orsini.

The young head of the Colonna rose with some
cordiality to receive his cousin. " Welcome,"
he said, " dear Adrian ; you are arrived in
time to assist us with your well-known military
skill. Think you not we shall stand a long
siege, if the insolent plebeian dare adventure
it? You know our friends, the Orsini and the
Savelli? Thanks to St. Peter, or St. Peter's
delegate, we have now happily meaner throats
to cut than those of each other !"

Thus saying, Stefanello again threw himself
listlessly on his seat, and the shrill woman's
voice of Savelli, took part in the dialogue.

" I would, noble Signer, that you had come
a few hours earlier we are still making merry
at the recollection he, he, he !"

" Ah, excellent," cried Stefanello, joining in
the laugh, " our cousin has had a loss. Know
Adrian, that this base fellow, whom the Pope
has had the impudence to create Senator, dared



204 RIENZI,

but yesterday, to send us a varlet, whom he
called, by our Lady ! his ambassador !"

" Would you could have seen his man-
tle, Signor Adrian," chimed in the Savelli :
"purple velvet, as I live, decorated in gold,
with the arms of Rome we soon spoiled his
finery."

" What !" exclaimed Adrian, " you did not
break the laws of all nobility and knighthood ;
you offered no insult to a herald !"

" Herald, sayst thou?" cried Stefanello, frown-


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