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WHEN the Spaniards first laid the foundation of Buenos Ayres, in 1535, the new colony wanted provisions. All who attempted to procure them were murdered by the savages; but it became necessary to forbid any one, upon pain of death, from going beyond the limits of the new settlement.
A woman, whom hunger had certainly inspired with resolution to brave the fear of death, eluded the vigilance of the guards who were posted round the colony, to preserve it from the dangers it was exposed to in consequence of the famine. Maldonata, for such was the name of the fugitive, having wandered about for some time in unknown and unfrequented roads, entered a cave to repose herself. A lioness, whom she met with there, filled her with extreme terror, which was soon changed into surprise, when she perceived this formidable animal approaching her with signs of fear, and then caressing and licking her hands with mournful cries, rather calculated to excite compassion than dread. Maldonata soon perceived that the lioness was with whelp, and that her groans were the complaints of a dam who calls for help to get rid of her burden. Maldonata was inspired with courage, and assisted the efforts of nature in that painful moment, when she seems reluctantly to give life to all beings which they are to enjoy for so short a time. The lioness, being safely delivered, soon went out in quest of provision, which she brought and laid at the feet of her benefactress. She daily shared it with the little whelps, who, brought into life by her assistance, and bred up with her, seemed by their playful and harmless bites to acknowledge an obligation, which their dam repaid with the tenderest marks of attention. But when they grew bigger, and found themselves impelled by natural instinct to seek their own prey, and sufficiently strong to seize and devour it, the family dispersed into woods; the lioness, who was no longer called to the cave by maternal tenderness, disappeared likewise to roam about the forest, which her hunger daily depopulated. VOL. II.
Maldonata, alone and without sustenance, was forced to quit a cavern which was an object of terror to so many living creatures, but which her pity had made a place of safety for her. She now felt with sorrow the want of a society, that had been of such signal service to her ; she did not wander for any considerable time, before she fell into the hands of the savages. She had been fed by a lioness, and was made a slave by men. She was soon after retaken by the Spaniards, who brought her back to Buenos Ayres. The Commandant, more savage than the lions or the wild Indians, did not think her sufficiently punished for her flight by all the dangers and miseries she had endured : he had the cruelty to order her to be tied to a tree in the middle of a wood, and there left to starve, or to be devoured by wild beasts.
Two days after, some soldiers went to see what was become of the unhappy victim. They found her alive, surrounded with hungry tigers, who were eager to devour her, but were kept at a distance by a lioness who lay at her feet with her whelps. The sight struck the soldiers motionless with pity and terror. When the lioness saw them, she withdrew from the tree, as if to make room for them to unbind her benefactress : but when they took her away, the animal followed slowly at some distance, endeavouring to confirm, by her caresses and complaints, the wonders of gratitude which the woman was relating to her deliverers. The lioness with her whelps for some time followed her footsteps, shewing all the same marks of regret and affliction, that a disconsolate family express when they attend a beloved father or son, who is going to embark for America, from whence he may never return.
The Commandant was informed of the whole adventure by his soldiers; and this example of gratitude in an animal so ferocious awakened in him those feelings which his savage heart had undoubtedly lost in crossing the seas, and he suffered a woman to live, who had been so visibly protected by Heaven.
Monsieur de Conange, on a wandering excursion which he was making with a friend through one of the French provinces, found it necessary one night to take refuge from a storm, in an inn which had little else to recommend it, but that the host was well known to M. de Conange. This man had all the inclination in the world to accommodate the travellers to their satisfaction, but unfortunately he possessed not the power. The situation was desolate, and the few chambers the house contained were already occupied by other travellers. There remained unengaged only a single parlour on the ground floor, with a closet adjoining, with which, inconvenient as they were, M. de Conange and his friend were obliged to content themselves. The closet was provided with a very uninviting bed for the latter, while they supped together in the parlour, where it was decided that M. de Conange was to sleep. As they purposed departing very early in the morning, they soon retired to their separate beds, and ere long fell into profound sleep. Short, however, had been M. de Conange's repose, when he was disturbed by the voice of his fellow traveller, crying out that something was strangling him. Though he heard his friend speak to him, he could not for some time sufficiently rouse himself from his drowsiness, to awaken to a full sense of the words his friend had uttered. That it was a voice of distress, he now perfectly understood, and he called anxiously to inquire what was the maiter; no answer was
returned, no sound was heard, all was still as death. Now seriously alarmed, M. de Conange threw himself out of bed, and taking up his candle, proceeded to the closet. What was his horror and astonishment, when he beheld his friend lying senseless beneath the strangling grasp of a dead man, loaded with chains. The cries of distress, which this dreadful sight called forth, soon brought the host to his assistance, whose fear and astonishment acquitted him of being in any way an actor in the tragic scene before them. It was, however, a more pressing duty to endeavour to recover the senseless traveller, than to unravel the mysterious event which had reduced him to that state. The barber of the village was therefore immediately sent for, and in the meantime, they extricated the traveller from the grasp of the man, whose hand had in death fastened on his throat with a force which rendered it difficult to unclench. While performing this, they happily ascertained that the vital spark still faintly glowed in the heart of the traveller, although wholly fled from that of his assaulter. The operation of bleeding, which the barber now arrived to perform, gave that spark new vigour, and he was shortly after put to bed out of danger, and left to all that could be of service to him-repose.
M. de Conange then felt himself at liberty to satisfy his curiosity, in developing the mystery of this strange adventure, which was quickly effected by his host. This man informed him that the deceased was his groom, who had within a few days exhibited strong proofs of mental derangement, as to render it absolutely necessary to use coercive measures, to prevent his either doing mischief to himself or others, and that he had in consequence been confined or chained in the stables; but that it was evident his fetters had proved too weak to resist the strength of frenzy, and that in liberating himself, he had passed through a little door, imprudently left unlocked, which led from the saddle room into the closet in which the traveller slept, and had entered it to die with such frightful effects on his bed.
When in the course of a few days, M. de Conange's friend was able to converse, he acknowledged that never in his life had he suffered so much, and that he was confident had he not fainted, madness must have been the consequence of a prolonged state of terror.
DEATH OF MARINO FALIERI, DOGE OF VENICE. The circumstances related in the following narrative, from Sismondi's History of the Italian Republics, are said to have furnished the materials of Lord Byron's tragedy. Marino Falieri, elected doge of Venice, in 1354, a man of seventy-six years of age, was married to a young and beautiful woman, of whom he was extravagantly jealous. His suspicions were particularly excited by Michael Steno, one of the chiefs of the forty, or criminal tribunal, whose attentions were, however, directed, not to the wife of the doge, but one of the ladies of her household. At a public festival, on the last day of the Carnival, Falieri, having observed some indecorum in the manners of this lady and Steno towards each other, ordered the latter to leave the assembly. Irritated at this command, Steno, following the first impulse of indignation, inscribed on the ducal throne, in an adjoining apartment, two lines, reflecting upon the honour of the doge and the fidelity of his wife. To a man of Falieri's jealous disposition this was an insult of the most deadly nature. He recognized Steno as its author, and making his complaint to the Avogadors, denounced the offender before them. He expected the Council of Ten to
avenge his injury with exemplary severity ; but the Avogadors, instead of appealing to that tribunal, referred the cause to the forty themselves, of whom Steno was president. The impulse of resentment, the excitement of a festival, the licence authorized by a mask, which the culprit wore at the timeall these circumstances were considered as extenuations of his fault, and Steno was only condemned to a month's imprisonment. The doge, more irritated by this indulgence than by the original affront, extended his hatred and desire of vengeance, not only to the forty, who had so slightly chastised the offender, but to the whole order of nobility, who had evinced so little interest in bis cause. There always prevailed amongst the people of Venice a secret feeling of enmity towards that nobility, which had deprived the nation of its rights, and gained exclusive possession of the sovereignty. The animosity was redoubled by the insolence of some young patricians. They availed themselves of the impunity afforded them by powerful friends, to dishonour the family of the citizens, by the seduction of their wives and daughters, and to insult the fathers and brothers whom they had thus injured. Israel Bertuccio, a plebeian, the chief of the arsenal, had received an affront of this nature. He carried to the doge his complaints against a gentleman of the house of Barbaro. Falieri, with niany expressions of unavailing compassion, assured him that he never would obtain justice. “ Have not I too,” said he, “ received a similar insult, and has not the pretended punishment of the offender only added to my dishonour and that of the ducal coronet ?" These judicial accusations were soon succeeded by projects of vengeance. Bertuccio introduced the principal malcontents to the doge; they held meetings for many successive nights in his presence, and in the ducal palace; and fifteen plebeians pledged themselves, with Falieri, to overthrow the government. The conspirators agreed that each of them should gain over forty friends, and hold them in readiness for action on the night of the 15th of April, 1355. But in order to ensure secrecy, it was resolved only to tell their associates that their assistance was required, to surprise and punish, by order of the government, the young noblemen, whose profligacy had excited the indignation of the people. The alarm bell of St. Mark's, which could only be rung by order of the doge, was to be the signal for action.
The citizens, however, were to admit no associates but citizens distinguished by their hatred of the nobility, in order to secure the preservation of the secret which was thus partially confided to them. At the moment when the alarmbell sounded, they were to spread a rumour, that the Genoese fleet was before the city; to direct their course simultaneously towards St. Mark's Place, to make themselves masters of its avenues, and io massacre all the patricians as they should arrive to the assistance of the senate. All the preparations were completed, and the secret conspiracy had been faithfully kept till the evening before its execution, when a furrier, named Bertrand, who had been chosen as one of the leaders to conduct his forty associates, learned some details respecting the conduct required of him, which did not seem to accord with the supposed orders of the government. He immediately disclosed to Nicholas Lioni, one of the Council of Ten, the conspiracy in which he had been thus unconsciously involved. Neither the one nor the other suspected the doge to be at the head of the enterprise, and both instantly repaired to his presence to make the disclosure. Falieri had neither the resolution nor the presence of mind necessary to avoid betraying himself; he alternately expressed his doubts of the circumstances disclosed to him, and declared himself fully aequainted with them, and prepared for the result. This inconsistency excited
the suspicions of Lioni ; he quitted the doge, to oonsult the Council of Ten, and before them the list of the conspirators, with which Bertrand had furnished him. All were arrested in their houses by order of council. Guards were posted in the city, at the belfries, and at the tower of St. Mark, to prevent the alarm being sounded. Many of the conspirators were put to the torture, and from their confessions it appeared that the doge was himself at the head of the association.
The tranquillity of the city was ensured, the criminals were seized, and the doge himself was guarded in his palace; but the Council of Ten did not consider itself as fully authorised by the constitution to sit in judgment on the chief of the republic. Twenty gentlemen of the highest rank were summoned to partake its deliberations on this important occasion. This was the origin of the powerful and permanent body called the Giunta or Zonta. The doge was brought before the Council of Ten and the Giunta. He was confronted with the principal criminals, who were afterwards sent to execution. He confessed the part he had taken in the conspiracy, and on the second day of the proceedings was condemned to death. He was beheaded the 17th of April, 1355, upon the grand staircase of the ducal palace, in the same place where the doges, on assuming their functions, took the oath of fidelity to the republic. During the execution of his sentence, the doors were kept shut, but immediately after, a member of the Council of Ten appeared in the balcony, holding in his hand a bloody sword, and exclaiming, “ Justice has been performed upon a great criminal.” At the same moment, the gates of the palace were thrown open, and the multitude, rushing impetuously forward, beheld Falieri weltering in his blood.
SINGULAR PHENOMENON. There have been, at different periods of time, very remarkable instances of the convulsions of nature, but there are few recorded equal to the following.
In the month of April, 1793, the waters of the River de la Plata were forced, by a most violent current of wind, to the distance of ten leagues, so that the neighbouring plains were entirely inundated, and the bed of the river left quite dry. A number of ships, which had been sunk in the river for upwards of thirty years, were uncovered, and amongst others, an English vessel, which was cast away in the year 1762. Several persons repaired to the bed of the river, on which they could walk almost without wetting their feet, and returned laden with silver and other riches, which had long been
This phenomenon, which may be long ranked among the grand revolutions of nature, continued three days, at the end of which the wind ceased, and the water returned with great violence to its natural bed.
VOLUNTARY CONFESSION OF A MURDERER. The following is the voluntary confession of the miscreant Lomas, taken before Mr. Thomas, one of the coroners of Cheshire, 34th of April, 1812, two days after the atrocious murder of his master, George Murrey, farmer of Hanklelow :
“ That his mistress, Edith Murrey, set him on to murder his master and he was to have all he had." She told him to go to William Shaw's, who kept a public-house, in Hanklelow, on Saturday afternoon, the