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""Poor Airone!” he said, patting his neck, while he quickened with his spur the unwilling trot of the good horse, who felt it hard after a day of so much fatigue to be denied the stable, “ thou art right, but have a little more patience, and I will repay thee for all."
Night in the meantime was closing in; the sun had set nearly half an hour; and Fieramosca, who was going towards the east, had a clear and serene sky behind him, but, in front, long dark clouds covered the face of the heavens, terminating beneath in a line which ran parallel to the horizon. From this streaks of rain, more or less dense, came down precipitately upon the line of the sea; while the summits of the mass of clouds, which ascended to the mid heavens, were tinged with a whitish hue by the lingering twilight. In the midst of the darkness, the tremulous flash of the lightning, and the hollow and distant rumble of the thunder, scarcely ceased for a moment. The sea swelled higher and higher every instant, and threatened a tempest. The tint of the waves in the centre was almost black, while on the crest alone were seen to scud minute drops of white foam. Rising and coursing one another along the whole line of coast, they finished in a thin, green, and transparent layer, which came forward like a wall of glass, till its extreme edge curling over, it fell with a crash, and inundated the dry gravel of the shore with foam.
• The gloomy aspect of the weather could not, however, at that moment disturb the happiness of the young Italian. He measured with impatient eye the length of road which separated him from St. Ursula, and the coast being level and bare, he could see it all. He imagined the delight of Ginevra's first appearance: he saw her advance to meet him with that modest turn of the eye, that motion at once so beautiful and so full of grace. He hoped to be the first to give her news of the victory, and his only perplexity was, how he should most suitably give her to understand that she was now free, and her hand at her own disposal.
• At the distance of about two gun-shots from the tower, the east wind, which was beating full in his face, brought the storm nearer.
Big drops struck athwart him, rebounding from the cuirass in foam; and, at length, by little and little, came on smaller and thicker, till they became continuous. A clap of thunder followed, which seemed to make way for a cataract from heaven, and a water spout came down upon Fieramosca, which wetted bim from head to foot, though it caught him only a few steps from the tower. The gate was still open ; and he passed through with all speed, and was soon on the island, and close to the building occupied by strangers. Having tied his horse to an iron grating, where the roof afforded some slight shelter, in four bounds he was in the apartments of Ginevra. We need not say that he found them empty. He re-descended in haste, and his first impulse was to seek her in the church. He knew that she commonly went to pray in a small gallery above, and no sooner had he entered than he cast his eyes that way. The gallery was empty; the church also was empty and nearly quite dark; empty also was that part of the choir that was seen, but a hollow chant was heard as if it came from beneath. He went forward, and perceived that from the opening before the High Altar, which communicated with the chapel below, a ray emerged, which threw a circle of discoloured light on the vaulted roof above. As he drew near, he heard that they were reciting prayers in the subterranean chapel. He turned behind the altar and descended. The clash of his armour, and the sound of his spurs, and of the point of his sword against the steps, made the persons who formed a circle in the chapel, which they nearly filled, turn round. The circle opened. At the foot of the staircase was the bier which Fieramosca had seen in the morning in the sacristy of San Domenico. In front, beside the altar, stood Fra Mariano in his Rochet and a mourning
cloak, holding the holy water in his uplifted hand. In the centre was an
On one side were two men holding in an upright position the stone intended to cover it; on the other Zoraide kneeling, and bending over the body of Ginevra, which was already placed within, and sobbing as she arranged the veil around the face, and laid a crown of white roses upon the forehead.
Ettore had now reached the bottom, and saw the whole. He stood motionless ; without uttering a word, without making a gesture, without winking an eyelid. His countenance by degrees grew sharp, he became pale as death, and large drops of cold sweat ran from his forehead.
· Zoraide's sobs redoubled, and Fra Mariano, with a faltering voice, which showed how his heart was wrung at the sight of the young man's bitter agony, had just strength enough to say
Yesterday she took her flight to heaven. God is making her more happy now than she could have been with us."
But even the good monk felt that tears were choking his voice, and was silent.
* The stone, replaced by the iron bars over the opening of the tomb, found its proper level, fell, and was firmly fixed.
· Ettore was still motionless. Fra Mariano went to him, took bis hand which offered no resistance, embraced him, turned him round, and led him away, and Ettore obeyed. They ascended the staircase together and left the church. The flashes of lightning and the peals of thunder still continued, and the rain fell in torrents. When they drew near the stranger's apartments, Fieramosca tore himself from the arms of the monk, and before the latter could say a word, was already in the saddle, his body bending over the horse's neck, bis spurs thrust into his sides, and the sound of his gallop was heard under the portico of the tower.
• Neither the friends of Fieramosca, nor any man of that generation, saw him any more from that time, either alive or dead.
• Various conjectures were formed respecting his end, but all vain and uncertain. The only one which offered any degree of verisimilitude was this.
Some poor mountaineers of Gargano, who were busied in making charcoal, related to some of their companions, (and a long time after, when the Spanish camp had been raised, passing from mouth to mouth, the report reached Barletta), that one night during a violent tempest, there appeared to them the strange vision of an armed knight on horseback on the top of certain inaccessible rocks, whose edge fell perpendicularly into the sea. A few persons at first, then many more, and at last every body said, and set it down as an established fact, that it was S. Michael the Archangel.
But when it came to the ears of Fra Mariano, and he compared the epochs, he conjectured that it might have been Ettore, who, quite bewildered, had urged his horse through the most difficult passes, till they had at last fallen together down some unknown precipice, or perhaps even into the sea.
'In 1616, a rocky shoal under Mount Gargano having been left dry, a fisherman discovered, wedged in between two large stones, a heap of iron almost entirely corroded by the sea water and rust, and found in the midst of it some human bones and the carcass of a horse.'
We need make no comment on the deep pathos of these concluding extracts. There is something in the scene between Ettore and Vittoria in particular, which seems to us inexpressibly touching. Perhaps it may remind the reader of the scene between Waverley and Flora M'Ivor, in which the sister is discovered making her brother's shroud, but we think it in all respects greatly superior. Of the work in general we have already given our opinion in the notice of Niccolò de' Lapi, in our July number for 1848, and we could only repeat what we have there stated, and to which we refer our readers. At that time we had no intention of giving more than a rapid sketch of the romance before us, but we have since thought that it deserves to be known to the English reader, no less than its more dignified and elaborate successor. Though its merits are of a different character, they are of the highest order. To many minds the interest excited is deeper, and it is more gentle. There is more of human feeling. The puritanical element, which, in spite of its moral grandeur, gives a harshness to Niccolò, is in Ettore exchanged for the chivalrous. And we feel ourselves among the highly born, the noble, and the illustrious. Even the imperfection of the principal personages adds in some degree to their charm. We have not the stern and superhuman excellence which we admire, but with which we do not cordially sympathize. And yet there is deep and true principle at the bottom. The eye never loses sight of the cross. And this, we repeat, is the master key to D'Azeglio's influence over the wise and good. His works are eminently Christian. He does not merely make us conversant with high thoughts and noble aspirations, which all earnest writers in the present day almost without exception aim at, and in which they not unfrequently succeed, but he makes us feel that no foundation can any one lay but that which is laid.' And it is here that so many of his fellow-novelists so lamentably fail. It requires but a slight acquaintance with the imaginative literature of the day to perceive that, in spite of a professed and even real desire for truth, and goodness, and self-sacrifice, it utterly ignores the law and the testimony.' We except, of course, what are called religious novels,' in which there is a superabundance of the religious element, but so mixed up with the writer's peculiar 'views,' as to be acceptable only to the party for whom they are intended. We speak of works, not only of acknowledged talent, but of professedly universal principles. Such works either pass over the Bible and the Church altogether; or if they affect philosophy, treat them as bygone things, successive developments of the human mind in its progress towards perfection, not authoritative emanations of the Divine Will, upon which opinions are to be formed, and by which conduct is to be regulated. There is, perhaps, no one point in which the tendencies of the age are more fully shewn, than in the sense of man's responsibility. While there is scorn of selfishness, and trickery, and false seeming, and a base truckling to the rich and great; while there is an honest and enlarged desire to promote human virtue and happiness, man's physical and mental wellbeing in short; and, while there are occasional glimpses of the Infinite and the Eternal, which make our hearts burn within us; there is no feeling of man's responsibility to God as a creature and a sinner. Our modern literature, like our modern monuments, is the blazonry of man's achievements, instead of the record of his fall and restoration. It is the statesman dying in the arms of his country, or the warrior on the field of his glory, or the actor standing forth in the lofty character which he embodied, not the penitent sinner, who, with closed eyes, hands crossed on his breast, or raised in the attitude of prayer, lays his virtues and his sins together at the foot of the cross. Now we think these antichristian tendencies of no small moment. Their effect upon the popular mind is great, and it is most hurtful. We doubt if even the worldly and sensual literature of a bygone age, sapped so completely the very foundations of truth. Things were called then by their right names. Virtue was virtue, and vice was vice. Men feared God, or they did not. A well-defined boundary was set, which they understood, even if they overleaped it. But now we are so confused by the mixture of truth and error, low conceptions of duty, and bursts of highly-wrought feeling, that we can scarcely recognise the ancient landmarks. We hail, therefore, any return to better things. And we find them both at home and abroad. We have some writers among ourselves who know and appreciate their high vocation, but we think that, in the works now for the first time submitted to the English reader, there is a depth and earnestness, which, united as they are with Christian submission, we do not find elsewhere. In D'Azeglio, as in his father-in-law Manzoni, there is what the old puritans were wont to call the root of the matter.' Bating a few Roman peculiarities, the religion which these works pourtray, is that of the Bible and of the universal Church, and we cannot form a better wish than that all readers, both here and elsewhere, may drink deeply of its spirit, and be fully prepared for its selfsacrifice.
ART. IV.- Observations on the Social and Political State of the
European People in 1848 and 1849. By SAMUEL LAING, Esq. London: Longman & Co. 1850.
MR. LAING is ambitious to raise the profession of a traveller above the more common level of recording the personal history of an individual with the adventures of his pilgrimage. This may be accomplished by great powers of description, or by reflection on what is seen or heard, that is, by observations on the social and political state of foreign countries. In these days of pictorial representation and advancement in every branch of that art, the province of scenery is taken away from the traveller unless he handles the pencil or brush, or otherwise is enabled to make the fine arts subservient to his purpose. This however is not Mr. Laing's object, nor his turn of mind, as we shall presently discover; therefore he has chosen the legitimate object of making all his talents aid the science of political economy. For fifty years he has been a traveller in Europe, and knew Hamburgh when its senators wore powdered wigs, velvet coats, silk breeches, gold shoe-buckles, and drove about in gilt coaches of antique shape. Peruques and the pomp of ancient days have been laid aside, and Europe presents another state of things, linked to her social life for better or for worse. The whole condition of modern Europe, as compared with England, comes in review in the course of this work, and many questions of great interest at the present time are most powerfully discussed. The conclusions which Mr. Laing arrives at are attained by a very different process in many respects from what would be followed up by a member of the English Church, but their innate truth is often a confirmation of views held by persons from whom Mr. Laing would much differ. His conclusions are radically opposed to modern government schemes, on much the same ground that the Church party would adopt; and the very fact that he is himself a presbyterian, proves that this opposition not only arises from the imaginations and dreams of a particular school, as a bold adherence to church principles still makes its defenders liable to be called; but from some fundamental error in the social philosophy of modern governments. The great questions that attract his attention are some of them remediable and still matters of choice, while others are certain visible consequences from certain past events already