Графични страници
PDF файл

bold and uncompromising mind, would And is it thus, Porro, you would win the everlasting gratitude of the treat the wrongs of your country-with whole of Italy.”

silent contempt, or a passing jest ? “ Thanks, Baron, for your golden Look,"exclaimed the Baron, seizing opinion, for I have heard very few his friend by the arın, and pointing to ever gain from your lips such an un- a large palace, or rather castle, visible qualified approbation. Tell me, how- in the distance, the residence of many ever – for tell me you must, as you a proud generation, “ behold there know I cannot bear contradiction lie the ancient towers of your anceswhat nobler study do you allude to?" tors; around you, for many a mile,

“ Have you never thought,” replied extend the lands that will one day be the Baron, while turning his looks your own; but neither the one nor the upon bis youthful listener, as if he other is safe from the rapacity of abwished to watch the effect his words solutism. Throughout Italy, our classwould have, “that there is in the love- the old nobility of Rome's world, who liness of your country, in its charms, would have formerly spurned with conattracting the attention of all travel- tempt the thought of slavery, ever ler:, a something wanting to render ready to lead the van in every danger, the beauty perfect? Does it not pre- and fight bravely for their fatherland, sent itself to your mind there is a now sunk in sloth and idleness, have venomous snake entwined within the become a scorn, a by-word to the enland, destroying the freshness of the tire of Europe ! Bowed down in splendour, I have heard you so often spirit, and, poisoned by the chalice so boast of as constituting the pride of temptingly offered to our lips by our your heart?"

oppressors, we seem to forget the old “ Ah! I guess your meaning, but pride of country, the right we have to have a care lest your problem be heard protect and guide the weak and unby less friendly ears than mine, and is armed people. Still there slumbers solved in a manner you would dislike. within us the mind, which, if but Your snake, Signor Barrone, is our aroused, would work out a repentance kind Austrian care-taker, who, like for all our past weaknesses. "How to some considerate guardian, dips his arouse it I could easily point out; but fingers in every one's house, to take to you how useless, until you can feel care of what he fears we might spend the claim of country more deeply !” in riot instead of in usefulness to the - You must seek, caro amico, anostate.

ther head wiser than mine to under“ Yes," answered the Baron, in a stand your patriotic dream ; for in me, deep and passionate tone, while every

I fear much, notwithstanding your vein in his countenance swelled as if to bright opivion, you will but meet a bursting-"yes, I allude to the Sclave dull scholar." and the Croat, who, acting as the A slight smile of disdain, almost imfierce tools of their savage master, perceptible, curled the lip of the Bamake war not only on liberty, but on ron, while he dropped the conversavirtue-destroy with equal avidity the tion, and walked on in silence by the activity of the human mind as they do side of Porro. the beauty of life."

The sun had now set, and in its “Often, often have I thought on place arose the silvery queen of night. what you say,” uttered young Porro Gloriously grand and picturesque was with more feeling than one could think

as light clouds, almost would be exhibited by the careless transparent, flitted across the starry light-heartedness of his manner; “but firmament of heaven, reflecting their what avails my thinking when the shadows in a streanı that gently murevil will still remain ? Do not, dear mured along the road-side, pursuing Baron, be speaking of such evil ge- its quiet course towards a larger tribu. niuses, otherwise you will damp my tary. At a small distance from the spirits, and make my good father think Baron and Porro, as they leisurely I am lingering under some disease, walked along, rose a small cottage, and will have me, despite my best ef- clothed with ivy and numerous forts, giving audience to a whole regi- other plants, which seemed to in. ment of Paduan doctors, and listening tertwine themselves playfully, as if to their learned disquisitions, which la to sbade the walls from the bright Bella Virgine defenů me from!" light of the moon. But it was not Tied by

the scene,

the beanty of the scene they halted hensible, and alive only to the danger for a moment to gaze upon, for a which threatened the life of his nurse's piercing scream broke the silence daughter with certain destruction, he of the evening, and startled them darted through the cottage door, and from the reverie into which they with difficulty made his way through had fallen. The scream evidently the smoke, which nearly deprived bim proceeded from the cottage, from of breath, up to the first landing, whence also was seen the sudden glare where a door opposed his further proof fire bursting through window and gress. Certain that he was within a few crevice. For a second Porro paused yards of the young girl he bad come with astonishment; then calling on the to save, from the piercing screams Baron to follow, he dashed towards the which smote his ears, he made frantic scene of conflagration, clearing with efforts to force the door that barred a single bound the stream which sepa- his further progress, and, by a few rated the road from the field on which well-directed blows, given by a strong stood the cottage. In a few minutes arm accustomed to athletic exercises he arrived before the burning ele- from its youth, he burst through the ment, which, spreading with the breeze, panel, and entered the room. was carrying destruction on all it could strong cords to the pole of a heavy bed. reach.

stead was the young woman he sought, The cottage was of a simple and who was making vain efforts to free light structure, built almost entirely herself. To undo the cords, seize hold of wood, and two stories high. It was of the girl in his arms, and descend inhabited by a widow, the Signora Te- the staircase, was to Porro a joyful resa Avellinni, the nurse of Porro. The task; and as he made his appearance only other inmates were two children, from the burning roof, he was greeted a girl of about seventeen years of age, by shouts of welcome from numbers of and a boy several years her junior, and the peasantry who were running in all who were throughout the neighbour-. directions, attracted by the glare, to. hood universally respected. At the wards the cottage, not merely to look outside of the cottage, when Porro

on as spectators, but to endeavour to approached, stood three soldiers, at- assist in extinguishing the flames, tired in the uniforın of one of the Aus- which it was easy to perceive was more trian regiments, holding an elderly fe. than a hopeless task. But what was male, the Signora Avellinni ; and to to a mother's heart the value of all her her earnest and heartrending suppli. property, compared to the safety of cations to save her daughter from her child's life? for as the Signora the devouring flames, they were jest- Avellinni perceived Porro bearing the ing between themselves, and laugh. inanimate form of her daughter from ing at her abortive efforts to the cottage, with frantic efforts she cape their custody. At their side tore herself from the grasp of the solstood a fair boy, of some ten years of diers, and, rushing toward them, cryage, with his long ringlets floating being " My child! my child !” she fell hind his back, and joining his tearful fainting on the ground, from the entreaties to those of his mother ; sudden revulsion of feeling. wbile every time he approached near Laying the young fernale tenderly on enough to the brutal soldiers, he was the green verdure, sufficiently distant repulsed by a blow from one of their from the cottage to be safe from any muskets, and which, when well aimed, of the numerous sparks which flew in called forth a new peal of laughter hundreds around, he turned to ask one from their unfeeling and atrocious of the many peasants to fetch some hearts. The quick eye of the boy im- water from the neighbouring stream. mediately perceived Porro, and, run- His wish was soon complied with, and, ning to his side, screamed rather than eagerly assisted by several of the kindspoke :

hearted peasantry, he proceeded to “Signor, good Signor, save my sprinkle it on the faces of the young sister, Margerita, or else she will be girl and her mother. His task of chaburnt to death! The soldiers have rity, however, was soon rudely interfastened her in her room to prevent her rupted by the approach of the soldiers, escape !"

who, with harsh words and knocks, Pausing not for a second to inquire made their way through the crowd further of what to him was incompre. which surrounded Porro.


“Stand aside, my masters, stand second were disarmed, and rendered inaside, and leave our prisoners alone,” capable of doing further barm. III exclaimed what appeared to be the would they have fared, had not Porro, leader of the three, in a rude and far wiser than his youth would have boisterous tone, “otherwise we will proclaimed, and glowing with a manful soon consume your cottages as we indignation, exclaimed, in a voice heard have consumed this. The young one above all the confusionto dare to endeavour to conceal her re- “Leave them alone, my friends, I will volutionary songs from us. I would endeavour to see justice done. Beware, wager she has a lover amongst the lest you bring trouble on yourselves." Young Italy."

The peasantry immediately fell back “ And can you tell me, men as you as they heard the voice of their young appear to be, if the burning of a poor lord, not so much from love for his auwidow's unprotected house, and the thority, as with astonishment at their consignment of her daughter to own act of daring in disarming the frightful death, which, you ought to menials of Austrian despotism; for thank God I arrived in time to pre- they had been so long accustomed vent, is a deed worthy to boast of?” to view with fear the power wield. uttered Porro in quick and vehement ed with no unsparing hand by their tones, while the blood mounted to his oppressors, and justice was so seldom countenance.

to be obtained, that the slightest act “Per Bacco, young meddler, if you of resistance on their part, however do not use a civiller tone to your bet- just it might be, was sure to call on ters, I will soon teach you one,” re- their devoted heads a terrible retribuplied the soldier; and while speaking tion. he seized the Signora Avellinni by the “Go," exclaimed Porro to the disarm.

comfited leader, as he rose slowly from From the crowd at that instant ap- the ground, wiping his face from the peared the little boy, and, flying to- blood which flowed from a wound in wards the soldier who held his mother, his forehead caused by the blow which he seized him by the skirt of his coat, had prostrated him to the groundand endeavoured to prevent him from Go; retire quickly from this spot, molesting her further, exclaiming, at for worse may ensue from your unthe same time, in the piteous tones of feeling act. Me you dare not touch ; a child, “Leave mia cara madre and if those injured women be really alone.”

your prisoners, you will find them in As if sufficient cruelty had not an hour hence in my father's palace.". been perpetrated, or whether the sol. Sullenly the leader, followed by his dier was dissatisfied a victim had two companions in villany, turned from escaped bis brutality, or whether it the crowd, muttering threats of venwas a mere act of wantonness, we know geance; the presence of Porro and not, for God can alone judge the hu- their coward fears alone preventing man heart; but turning fiercely upon them from putting their revenge into the innocent boy, whose affection for immediate execution. Freed from his mother provoked the other's wrath, their presence, Porro turned his atten. he plunged his bayonet into the child's tion to the poor boy, whose life was body, who, with a shriek of agony, fast ebbing away, and, kneeling by his fell upon the green sward. A thrill of side, gently raised his head on his arm. horror burst from the lips of the spec- By him knelt also the mother and the tators; and so sudden had been the sister, recovered from their momentary act, no time was allowed for a single state of oblivion only to awaken to a hand to be raised to save the poor new scene of horror. Aid there was child from the ill-fated thrust. But none, nor was it required, for no me. the author of the act did not escape dical skill could avail. But even scatheless; for scarcely had he time to had it been otherwise, the nearest withdraw his bayonet from the bleed- surgeon resided at Padua; and al. ing body, when a blow from the strong though the city stood but a short dishand ot' Porro felled the unfeeling vil- tance, yet hours might elapse belain to the ground.

fore any medical gentleman could ob“Down with the tyrants l" exclaim- tain permission from the authorities ed several voices, and a sudden rush to leave the town and visit a spot was made on the soldiers, who in a where had been enacted one of those many lawless deeds of butchery and uncontrolled power, which at that period, and even yet, constantly take place on the fair fields of Lombardy.

Gazing on the youthful countenance of the unfortunate child the pall of death was soon to cover from all eyes, tears, springing from a noble sourcethe fountain of pity-suffused the eyes of Porro. Memory brought back to his mind the many times those lips had been pressed to his own in joyful love-how those little arms had been confidingly thrown round his neck how he had in sportfulness run with him amongst the sunny fields, until his merry laugh was heard echoing to the ear;—and as each scene was recalled vividly to his mind, bitter thoughts sprung up-thoughts until then slumbering in infancy, and there was born, by the infant spirit fast floating to eter

nity, the First IMPULSE, which was to find vent only in the grave; the Impulse of the Moment was to become the Effort of Years.

Silently he laid down the lifeless corpse, no longer full of action and energy; and as he turned away to give directions for the widow and her daughter to be taken to his father's residence, the roof of the cottage fell in, and then flashed forth with renewed vigour the fire, which for a moment had been smothered, seemingly as if Italy accepted the offering of the First Impulse.

At the same moment a voice spoke ; it was that of the Baron

“ Thus by the hands of a tyrant's minions die all that are fair and bright. How long will the proud nobility of thy soil, oh, Italy, sleep in their dream of slavery and infamy?"



* The extortioners of the treasury were soldiers ; soldiers were judges, administrators, law-makers; not a right, not an attachment, not even to hope or to weep was safe; there were punishments unheard of among civilised nations floggings on the naked flesh

and this for women. Such inflictions has Austris modernised for Italy 1"-Farini's Roman Slates.

All Padua was astir, and in a state of city gentry, mingled with the crowd; confusion. Small knots of people were and here and there one of them was endeavouring to collect in different especially singled out as a person of parts of the city, notwithstanding the importance, whilst relating the partiexistence of a law iv force against the culars of some story which seemed to assembling of persons, in however excite the peculiar attention and small a number, under any pretext curiosity of the crowd. Those who whatever; and the armed patrols of stood listening to the speakers uttered soldiers who paraded the streets were every now and then exclamations of trying to enforce it, by ordering, in rage and indignation, and with no no courteous terms, the citizens to friendly eyes watched the approach of keep within their houses.

For once

one of the many patrols as they walked the orders, generally listened to in fear leisurely along, thrusting aside with and immediately obeyed, were totally their bayonets the citizens who did not disregarded; for as soon as a crowd move from their path with sufficient was dispersed in one direction it speed to suit their humour. collected in another, and it was with The cause leading the good people some difficulty the streets were kept pass- of Padua to assemble together, was no able. It was no ordinary event could other or less than the murder—for by thus excite the quiet inhabitants of no gentler term can we call it of SigPadua to assemble together, in defiance nora Avellinni's child. Born in the of the law, and in danger of imprison- city, and bred up amongst its inhabi. ment and confiscation of property. tants, with numerous connexions scatNor was it any gay spectacle they were tered through it in various parts — the drawn together to witness, nor reli- burning of her cottage, the attempted gious procession to awaken their dor- effort made, and which happily was mant feelings of adoration, for the unsuccessful, to doom her daughter to vehement gestures and angry coun. a frightful death, and the atrocious act tenances spoke a different tale. Many

which terminated the life of her young of the country people, distinguished son, roused the general sympathy, and by their dress and appearance from the pity, and indiguation of the Paduans. Her connexion with the Porro family there to lend impartial Austrian justice in quality as former nurse to the young the aid of their peaceful appearance. heir, whose father's large territorial « Per Bacco !” exclaimed one of the possessions in the city and around it crowd, with thick head and strong gave him as much authority as it was proportions, a fit specimen of a burly possible for an Italian nobleman to blacksmith, “I wonder how the Sigenjoy, who held no office under the nor Porro bears himself in the lion's Austrian government, contributed not den ?" a little to the general feeling of com- “ How should be bear himself but miseration. The tale of the unpro- as a noble signor, as he is, ready to voked act, with all its incidents, and protect the weak?" answered a young especially the part Porro took in man, evidently one of the students of saving bis nurse's daughter, exagge

the University. rated with all the high colour a story “1 know not - I know not," said generally obtains by being handed from the blacksmith, with a sagacious shake mouth to mouth, bad quickly circulated of the head; “it is far different talkover the entire city, bringing with it ing to the commissario—whose soul the a thousand comments, and fears, and diavolo may take care of for aught I hopes, that as the young heir of a pow- care-than to be speaking to any of us. erful house had taken up the matter The good Virgin guard him !”. as a personal one, justice would be ob- - The commissario dare not hurt our tained, and the aggressors meet with handsome signor. I and a thousand the punishment they so richly deserve. others would fight for him," spoke a Even with these strong motives which female, whom curiosity and the excite. might naturally stir up a people to see ment of the town had drawn amongst justice done by a demonstration of the crowd. their interest in the cause of the “ And I, too, per la grazia del Dio," wronged, so long accustomed had the said the blacksmith. Paduans been to look with terror on “ And I, too — and I, too,” echoed their oppressors, that it might have twenty voices. been difficult to have aroused their The object of their conversation had feelings to such an open manifestation, a few moments before passed among was it not for the general agitation of the crowd and entered the building. society, caused by the measures of Ascending a wide staircase and tråreform which it was bruited abroad versing through several anterooms, the head of the Catholic Church con- Porro, accompanied by the Baron templated conferring on the Roman Pinaldi and several friends, people.

ushered into a room, in which was The crowd had principally collected seated, before a square table strewed near a large, ancient, and massive with numerous papers, a person of building which had formerly been the some forty-five or fifty years of age, residence of one of those barons who, in with a dark countenance and an un. the middle ages, required not so much pleasant aspect. This was the comadornment of beauty for their palaces missary. Near him, on the right hand as they did strength to defend them side, were seen the mournful

features from any attack of their rivals in of the Signora Avellinni and her power. Spreading over a large portion daughter ; while a few paces further of ground, with high windows and off stood several soldiers, amongst heavy doors, surrounded by smaller whom were the three who had caused houses, it appeared like a huge tree all the misery and excitement. On towering above its besser kind. Its the entrance of Porro and bis friends, external appearance presented a cold the commissary, after saluting them, and dismal aspect, and seemed a ready immediately proceeded to the business indication of the purposes for which before him. it served, as a ball of justice, where “I have, in consequence of a note from day to day sat the commissary received from you, Signor Porro, whose duty it was to dispense what waited your arrival; but I cannot see was termed the law of the country. in what respect your presence is requiThe gates of the building were closed, site. The matter might have been and a large body of troops stood inside well over and settled by this time, and a court ready for service, armed with this collection of people, contrary to bayonets and loaded muskets, placed the law, dispersed."


« ПредишнаНапред »