« AnteriorContinuar »
which were immediately sent to his house, exciting the joy and congratulations of all his relatives and friends.
Thus finding himself one of the richest men in his trade, and with the credit of having realised his fortune by his own ingenious experiments, Fazio began to think of living in a more splendid manner, and of sharing some of his happiness with his friends. In the first place, therefore, he bought an estate, and then a handsome house, besides making several other rich purchases; and investing his money in such advantageous concerns as offered, he soon assumed the manners and establishment of a prince. He added to the number of his domestics, and set up two equipages, the one for himself, and the other for his lady; his sons were distinguished for the richness of their apparel; and he continued to live on the happiest terms with his wife, enjoying together the luxuries and pleasures which they had at command. Pippa, to whom such a life was totally new, became somewhat vain of the change, and was in the habit of inviting her acquaintance to witness it, among whom was an old lady, with her fair daughter, whom she invited to come and stay some time with her. Fazio, to whom she said that they would be of use to her in a variety of ways, was induced to give his consent, happy to perceive that they assisted his wife in the cares of her establishment, and that they all lived on the best terms together.
But fortune, the constant enemy of any long continued enjoyment and content, was preparing to change the colour of their fate, and turn this summer sweetness and glory of their days, into the chilling winter and sorrow of despair. For it was the cruel lot of Fazio to become enamoured of the young charms of the fair Maddelena, the daughter of their guest; and such was his continued and violent passion, that he at length succeeded, by the most consummate art, in leading her from the paths of innocence. Their intercourse continued for some time unknown to his poor wife, and he conferred on his unhappy victim the most lavish proofs of his regard. But as they became bolder with impunity, the unsuspicious Pippa could not, at length, fail to be aware of the truth, and she displayed the indignation of her feelings on the subject in no very gentle terms. She reproached her fair guest with still more bitterness, and one day took occasion, in Fazio's absence, to drive her with the utmost fury and opprobrium from her house. Fazio, on returning home, was greatly incensed at these proceedings, and continued, with the same infatuation, to lavish the same favours upon the young Maddelena as before. On this account, scenes of the most cruel and distressing nature were continually occurring between him and his wife; the demon of jealousy had taken possession of her bosom, and family peace and love were thenceforward banished alike from their bed and board. It was in vain that Fazio now attempted to soothe or to subdue her irritated feelings. She spurned his divided affection, and she met his threats with still more violent passion, treating them with merited indignation and contempt. In order to avoid these reproaches, her husband went to one of his villas, at some distance, whither he invited his young mistress, and continued to lead the same abandoned course of life, while his wife remained plunged in the profoundest wretchedness and despair. These feelings, however, were soon absorbed in rage and jealousy, when she found, after some months, that her husband did not return, and was lavishing still greater proofsof tenderness and favour upon her rival. Thus dwelling with ceaseless anxiety and pain upon one hateful idea, the sense of her wrongs became too great to bear, and in a short time she came to the resolution of accusing her faithless and abandoned husband to the state, by revealing the transaction which had led to his sudden elevation and prosperity. And this appearing the only resource she had left to revenge her injuries upon the author of them, without further warning or consultation, she proceeded alone, to consult a magistrate, who holding an office similar to that of the Council of Eight in Florence, took down her deposition, comprehending every thing she knew relative to the aflairs of her husband. She, moreover, directed them to the exact spot where the remains of the miser had been buried, in the cellar of their former house, and where the officers of justiceaccordingly found them. Then still retaining her in custody, the magistrate despatched the captain of the band to the residence of her husband, where they found him enjoying himself in the society of his fair Maddelena. Immediately seizing him as a prisoner of the state, they conducted him back to Pisa, overwhelmed with the most abject despair; and when brought up for examination, he refused to utter a syllable. But his wife being ordered to appear against him, he cried out with a loud voice, at the sight of her, " This is justice, indeed!" and then turning towards her, he added: "My too great affection for you has brought me to thisand, taking one of the magistrates aside, he freely revealed to him the truth of the affair, exactly as it had occurred. With one accord, however, the whole court refused to give credit to the story, asserting that there was every appearance of his having himself robbed and murdered the unfortunate Gugfielmo, and threatening instantly to put him to the torture if hedid not confess. This, upon his maintaining his own story, they proceeded to do, and by dint of repeated trials, they at length compelled him to say what they pleased and afterwards proceeded to sentence him to be broken alive upon the wheel, while the state appropriated the whole of his possessions. The remains of the miser, Grimaldi, were then ordered to be removed, and interred in sacred ground; the beautiful Maddelena and her mother were driven with ignominy from the villa to their former abode; and the establishment of Fazio was completely broken up; his wife, with her family and domestics, being compelled to take refuge wherever they could. On being released from court, where she had appeared in evidence against her own husband, the wretched Pippa returned home; but to a home desolate and deserted by all but her children. In the agony of her grief, she wept, she raved, she tore her hair, too late perceiving, with feelings of remorse, the grievous error she had committed.
The tidings spread rapidly throughout all Pisa, and the people joined in expressing their astonishment, no less at the supposed enormity and deceit of which Fazio was accused, than at the strange treachery and ingratitude of his wife. Even her own relatives and friends, who assisted her, unanimously agreed in condemning her conduct, reproaching her bitterly for the degradation and ruin which she had brought upon her family; besides the inhumanity of having thus betrayed her husband to a painful and ignominious death. Having said this, they left her weeping bitterly, and overpowered with intolerable remorse. On the ensuing day, the wretched Fazio was led forth, and drawn through the streets of Pisa on a sledge; and after being thus exhibited to the people, he was conducted to the place of execution, there, having been first broken upon the wheel, he was executed in the presence of the people, and left on the same spot, by way of example, during the rest of the day.
The tidings of this terrific scene coming to the ears of his wife, whom he had continued cursing and reviling to his latest hour, in a fit of desperation, she resolved to take vengeance upon herself. About dinner hour then, there being few people to observe her, she seized her two little boys by the hand, and led them, weeping, towards the great square, the scene of the execution; while such as met her by the way only bestowed their maledictions on her, and allowed her to pass on. When she arrived at the foot of the platform, where the body lay, few spectators being present, she proceeded, still weeping bitterly, to ascend the steps of the platform, with the children along with her, no one around offering the least resistance. There, affecting to lament over the wretched fate of her husband, she was sternly and severely upbraided by all who stood near, who said aloud: "See how she can weep, now that it is done! It is her own work; she would have it so; and let her therefore despair!" The wretched wife then tearing her hair, and striking her lovely face and bosom with her clenched hands, while she pressed her burning lips to the cold features of her husband, next bade her little boys kneel down to kiss their father; at which sight, the surrounding spectators, forgetting their anger, suddenly burst into tears. But their distracted mother, drawing a knife from her bosom, with remorseless fury, hastily plunged it into the breasts of her sons, and before the people were prepared to wrest the deadly weapon from her hand, she had already turned it against herself, and fallen upon the lifeless bodies of her husband and her children. With a loud cry the people ran towards the fatal spot, where they found the dying mother and her two infants, pouring their last sighs as they lay weltering in their blood. Tidings of this tragic scene having spread rapidly throughout all Pisa, crowds of people came hastening from all sides filled with lamentation and terror, to witness so heart-rending a spectacle; where the yet warm and reeking bodies of the father, the mother, and the children, were piled indiscriminately upon each other. And surely nothing we have heard of the woes of Thebes, of Syracuse, or of Athens, of Troy, or of Rome, can be said to equal the domestic sorrow and calamity which Pisa thus witnessed in the lot of a single family, the whole of which was swept away in one day, the innocent victims of mistaken justice. The terror and surprise of the inhabitants of Pisa, shortly spreading through other parts of Italy, caused so great a sensation in the ^different cities, that people left their houses to visit the fatal spot, lamenting over the bodies of the innocent children, lying, with smiling countenances, as if buried in a profound slumber, on their parent's funeral bier. It was impossible for them to restrain their tears at the sight, a sight sufficient to soften a heart of stone, and at which justice herself now dropped her fatal sword. For she at length consented to grant to the prayers of Fazio's relatives that the bodies of the hapless children should be decently interred in the burial ground of Santa Catharina; while those of the parents, who had died a desperate and unrepentant death, were to be placed without the sacred bounds, under the walls of the city. The procession was accompanied with the tears and lamentations of thousands, whose outcries against the cruelty and injustice of their fate, and whose expressions of pity for their sufferings, were loud and vehement.
We watch'd her breathing through the night,
So silently we seemed to speak—
Our very hopes belied our fears
For when the morn came dim and sad—
Another morn than ours! Thomas Hour'.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulnes?,
Conspiring with him how; to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or in a half-reaped furrow sound asleep.
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while the hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes, like a gleaner, thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder press, with patient look,
Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.