Imágenes de páginas

grace and ruin our house? This is not right; but

Muce it so pleases you, so let it be :''—and turning to the jailors she told them to unbind her, and that all the examination! might be brought to her, saying, "That which I ought to confess, that will I confess; that to which I ought to assent, to that will I assent; and that which I ought to deny, that will I deny:" —and in this manner she was convicted without having confessed. They were then all unbound; and. since it waa now five months since all had met, they wished to eat together that day: but, three days afterwards, they were again divided—the ladies being left in the Cortc Savclla, and the brothers being transferred to the dungeons of the Tordinona.

The Pope, after having seen all the examinations, and the entire confessions, ordered that the delinquents should be drawn through the streets at the tails of hones, and afterwards decapitated. Many cardinals and princes interested themselves, and entreated that at least they might be allowed to draw up their defence. The Pope at first refused to comply, replying with severity, and asking these intercessors what defence bad been allowed to Francesco, when he had been so barbarously murdered in his sleep; but afterwards he yielded to allow them twenty-five days' time. The most celebrated Roman advocates undertook to defend the criminals; and, at the end of the appointed time, brought their writings to the Pope. The first that spoke was the advocate Nicolas di Angelis; but the Pope interrupted him angrily in the middle of his discourse, saying, that he greatly wondered that there existed in Rome children unnatural enough to kill their father ; and that there should be found advocates depraved enough to defend so horrible a crime. These words silenced all except the advocate Farinacd; who said, u Holy Father, we have not fallen at your feet to defend the atrocity of the crime, but to cave the life of the innocent, when your holiness will deign to hear vs." The Pope listened patiently to him for four hours, and then, taking the writings, dismissed them. The advocate Altieri, who waa the last to depart, turned back, and, throwing himself at the feet of the Pope, said, that his office as advocate to the poor would not allow him to refuse to appear in this affair; and the Pope replied that he was not surprised at the part that be, bnt at that which the others had taken. Instead of retiring to rest, he spent the whole night in studying the cause with the Cardinal di San Marcello— noting with great care the most exculpating passages of the writing of the advocate Farinacd; with which he became so satisfied, that he gave hope of granting a pardon to the criminals: for the crimes of the father and children were contrasted and balanced in this writing; and to save the sons, the greater guilt was attributed to Beatrice ; and thus, by saving the motherin-law, the daughter might the more easily escape, who was dragged, as it were, to the committing so enormous a crime by the cruelty of her father. The Pope, therefore, that the criminals might enjoy the benefit of time, ordered them again to be confined in secret. But since, by the high dispensation of Providence, it was resolved that they should incur the just penalty of parricide, it so happened, that at this time Paolo Santa Croce killed bis mother in the town of Subiaco, because »be refused to give ap her inheritance to him. And the Pope, upon the occurrence of this second crime of this nature, resolved to punish those guilty of the first; and the more so, because the matricide Santa Croce had escaped from the vengeance of the law by flight. The Pope returned to Monte Cavallo the 6th of May,

that he might consecrate the next morning, in the neighbouring church of S. Maria degli Angeli, the Cardinal Diveristiana, appointed by him to be bishop of Olumbre, on the 3d of May of the same year, 1599: on the 10th of May he called into his presence Monsignorc Ferrante Taverna, governor of Rome, and Baid to him, " I give up into your hands the Cenci cause, that you may as soon as you can execute the justice allotted to them." As soon as the governor arrived at his palace, he communicated the sentence to, and held a council with, the criminal judge, concerning the manner of death to be inflicted on the criminals. Many nobles instantly hastened to the palaces of the Quirinal and the Vatican, to implore the grace of at least a private death for the ladies, and the pardon of the innocent Bernardo ; and, fortunately, they were in time to save the life of this youth, because many hours were necessarily employed in preparing the scaffold over the bridge of S. Angelo, and then in waiting for the Confraternity of Mercy, who were to accompany the condemned to the place of suffering.

The sentence was executed the morning of Saturday, the 11th of May. The messengers charged with the communication of the sentence, and the Brothers of the Conforteria, were sent to the several prisons at five the preceding night; and at six the sentence of death was communicated to the unhappy brothers while they were placidly sleeping. Beatrice on hearing it broke into a piercing lamentation, and into passionate gesture, exclaiming, "How is it possible, 0 my God! that I must so suddenly die?" Lucretia, as prepared, and already resigned to her fate, listened without terror to the reading of this terrible sentence; and with gentle exhortations induced her daughter-in-law to enter the chapel with her ; and the latter, whatever excess she might have indulged in on the first intimation of a speedy death, so much the more now courageously supported herself, and gavo every ono certain proofs of a humble resignation. Having requested that a notary might be allowed to come to her, and her request being granted, Bbe made her will, in which she left 15,000 crowns to the Fraternity of the Sacre Stimulate; and willed that all her dowry should be employed in portioning for marriage fifty maidens: and Lucretia, imitating the example of her daughter-in-law, ordered that she should be buried in the church of S. Gregorio at Monte Celio, with 32.000 crowns for charitable uses, and made other legacies; after which they passed some time in the Conforteria, reciting psalms and litanies and other prayers, with so much fervour, that it well appeared that they were assisted by the peculiar grace of God. At eight o'clock they confessed, heard mass, and received the holy communion. Beatrice, considering that it was not decorous to appear before the judges and on the scaffold with their splendid dresses, ordered two dresses, one for herself, and the other for her motherin law, made in the manner of the nuns—gathered up, and with long sleeves of black cotton for Lucretia, and of common silk for herself; with a large cord girdle. When these dresses came, Beatrice rose, and, turning to Lucretia—"Mother," said she, "the hour of our departure is drawing near, let us dress therefore in these clothes, and let us mutually aid one another in this last office." Lucretia readily complied with this invitation, and they dressed, each helping the other, showing the same indifference and pleasure as if they were dressing for a feast.

The Company of Mercy arrived soon after at the prisons of the Tordinona; and while they were waiting below in the street with the crucifix, until the condemned should descend, an accident happened, which gavo rise to such a tumult among the immense crowd there collected, that there was danger of much disorder. It thus happened; some foreign gentlemen, who were posted at a high window, inadvertently threw down a flower-pot which was outside the window, which falling on one of the brothers of the Order of Mercy, mortally wounded him. This caused a disturbance in the crowd; and those who were too far off to know the cause, took flight, and falling one over the other, several were wounded. When the tumult was calmed, the brothers Giacomo and Bernardo descended to the door of the prison, near which opportunely happened to bo some fiscal officers, who, going up to Bernardo, told him that through the clemency of the sovereign pontiff, his life was spared to him, with this condition, that ho should bo present at the death of his relations. A scarlet mantle trimmed with gold, in which he had at first been conducted to prison, was given him, to envelop him. Giacomo was already on the car, when the placet of the Pope arrived, freeing him from the severer portion of the punishment added to the sentence, and ordering that it should be executed only by the hammer and quartering.

The funereal procession passed through the Via dell* Orso, by the Apollinara, thence through the Piazza Navona; from the church of S. Pantalio to the Piazza Pollarola, through the Campo di Fiori, S. Carlo a Castinari, to the Arco de* Contc Ccnci; proceeding, it stopped under the Palace Ccnci, and then finally rested at the Corte Savella, to take the two ladies. When these arrived, Lucretia remained last, dressed in black, as has been described, with a veil of the same colour, which covered her as far as her girdle: Beatrice was beside her, also covered by a veil: they wore velvet slippers, with silk roaes and gold fastenings ; and, instead of manacles, their wrists wero bound by a silk cord, which was fastened to their girdles in such a manner as so give them almost the free use of their hands. Each had in her left hand the holy sign of benediction,and in the right a handkerchief, with which Lucretia wiped her tears, and Beatrice the perspiration from her forehead. Being arrived at the place of punishment, Bernardo was left on the scaffold, and the others were conducted to the chapel. During this dreadful separation, this unfortunate youth, reflecting that he was soon going to behold the decapitation of his nearest relatives, fell down in a deadly swoon, from which, however, he was at last recovered, and seated opposite the block. The first that came forth to die was Lucretia, who, being fat, found difficulty in placing herself to receive the blow. The executioner taking off her handkerchief, her neck was discovered, which was still handsome, although she was fifty years of age. Blushing deeply, she cast her eyes down, and then, casting them up to heaven, full of tears, she exclaimed, *' Behold, dearest Jesus, this guilty soul about to appear before thee—to give an account of its acts, minglod with many crimes. When it shall appear before thy Godhead, I pray thee to look on it with an eye of mercy, and not of justice." She then began to recite the psalm Miserere mei Deus, and placiug her neck under the axe, the head was struck from her body while sho was repeating the second verse of this psalm, at the words et secundum muliitudinem. When the- executioner raised the head, the populace uw with wonder that the countenance long retained Us vivacity, until it was wrapt up iu a black handkerchief, and placed in a corner of the scaffold. While

the scaffold was being arranged for Beatrice, and whilst the Brotherhood returned to the chapel for her, the balcony of a shop filled with spectators fell, and five of those underneath were wounded, so that two died a few days after. Beatrice, hearing the noise,asked the executioner if her mother had died well, and being replied that she had, she knelt before the crucifix, and spoke thus: —"Be thou everlastingly thanked, O my most gracious Saviour, since, by the good death of my mother, thou hast given me assurance of thy mercy towards me/' Then, rising, Bhe courageously and devoutly walked towards the scaffold, repeating by the way several prayers, with so much fervour of spirit, that all who heard her shed tears of compassion. Ascending the scaffold, while Bhe arranged herself, the also turned her eyes to heaven, and thus prayed :—" Most beloved Jesus, who, relinquishing thy diviuity, becamest a man; and didst through love purge my sinful soul also of its original sin with thy precious blood; deign, I beseech thee, to accept that which I am about to shed at thy most merciful tribunal, as a penalty which may cancel my many crimes, and spare me a part of that punishment justly due to me." Then she placed her head under the axe, which at one blow was divided from her body, as she was repealing the second verse of the psalm De profundis% at the vrords/iant aurcs tint; the blow gave a violent motion to her body, and discomposed her dress. The executioner raised the head to tho view of tho people, and in placing it in the coffin placed underneath, the cord by which it was suspended slipped from his hold, and the head fell to the ground, shedding a great deal of blood, which was wiped op with water and sponges.

On the death of his sister, Bernardo again fainted: the most efficacious remedies were for some time uselessly employed upon him; and it was believed by ill that his second swoon, having found him already overcome and without strength, had deprived him of life. At length, after the lapse of a quarter of an hour, he came to himself, and by slow degrees recovered the use of his senses. Giacomo was then conducted to the scaffold, and the executioner took from him the mourning clokc which enveloped him. He fixed his eyw on Bernardo, and then, turning, addressed the people with a loud voice: "Now that I am about to present myself before the Tribunal of infallible Truth, 1 swear that if my Saviour, pardoning me my faults, shall place in the road to salvation, I will incessantly pray for the preservation of his Holiness, who has spared me tho aggravation of punishment but too much due to my enormous crime, and has granted life to my brother Bernardo, who is most innocent of the guilt of parricide, as I have constantly declared in all my examinations. It only afllicts me in these my last moments, that he should have been obliged to be present at so fatal a scene: but since, O my God, it has so pleased thee, fiat voluntas tuaJ1* After speaking thus, be knelt down : the executioner blinded his ejes, and tied his legs to tho scaffold, gave him a blow on the temple with a leaded hammer, cut off his head, and cut hit body into four pieces, which were fixed on the hooks of the scaffolding.

When the last penalty of justice was over, Bernardo was reconducted to the prison of the Tordinoos, where ho was soon attacked by a burning fever; ho was bled and received other remedies, so that in tho end he recovered his hralth, though not without great suffering. The bodies of Lucretia aud Beatrice were left at the end of the bridge until the evening, illuminated by two torches, and surrounded by so great a concourse of people, that it was impossible to cross the bridge. An hour after dark, the body of Beatrice was placed in a coffin, covered by a black velvet pall, richly adorned with gold: garlands of flowers were placed, one at her head, and another at her feet; and the body was strewed with flowers. It was accompanied to the church of S. Peter in Montorio by the Brotherhood of the Order of Mercy, and followed by many Franciscan monks, with great pomp and innumerable torches; she was there buried before the high altar, after the customary ceremony had been performed. By reason of the distance of the church from the bridge, it was four hours after dark before the ceremony was finished. Afterwards the body of Lucre tia, accompanied in the same manner, was carried to the church of S. Gregorio upon the Celian Hill; where, after the ceremony, it was honourably buried.

Beatrice was rather tall, of a fair complexion ; and ■he had a dimple on each cheek, which, especially when she smiled, added a grace to her lovely countenance that transported every one who beheld her. Her hair appeared like threads of gold; and, because they were extremely long, she used to tie it up, and, when afterwards she loosened it, the splendid ringlets dazzled the eyes of the spectator. Her eyes were of a deep blue, pleasing, and full of fire. To all these beauties she added, both in words and actions, a spirit and a majestic vivacity that captivated every one. She was twenty years of age when she died.

Lucretia was as tall as Beatrice, but her full make made her appear less: she was also fair, and so fresh complexioned, that at fifty, which was her age when she died, she did not appear above thirty. Her hair

was black, and her teeth regular and white to an ex. traordinary degree.

Giacomo was of a middle size; fair but ruddy; and with black eyebrows: affable in his nature, of good address, and well skilled in every science, and in all knightly exercises. Ho was not more than twentyeight years of age when he died.

Lastly, Bernardo so closely resembled Beatrice in complexion, features, and everything else, that if they had changed clothes the one might easily have been taken for the other. His mind also seemed formed in tho same model as that of his sister; and at the time of her death lie was six-and-twenty years old.

He remained in the prison of Tordinona until the month of September of the same year, after which time, at the intercession of the Most Venerable Grand Brotherhood of the Most Holy Crucifix of St. Marcellus, he obtained the favour of his liberty upon paying the sum of 25,000 crowns to the Hospital of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims. Thus ho, as the sole remnant of the Ccnci family, became heir to all their possessions. He is now married, and has a son named Cristofero.

The most faithful portrait of Beatrice exists in the Palace of the Villa Pamfili, without the gate of San Pancrazio: if any other is to be found in the Palazza Cenci, it is not shown to any one ;—so as not to renew the memory of so horrible an event.

This was the end of this family: and until the time when this account is put together it has not been possible to find the Marquess Paolo Santa Croce; but there is a rumour that he dwells in Brescia, a city of the Venetian states.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


The Poem of " Hellas," written at the suggestion of the events of the moment, is a mere improvise, and derives its interest (should it be found to possess any) solely from the intense sympathy which the Author feels with the cause he would celebrate.

The subject, in its present state, is insusceptible of being treated otherwise than lyrically, and if I have called this poem a drama, from the circumstance of its being composed in dialogue, the licence is not greater than that which has been assumed by other poets, who have called their productions epics, only because they have been divided into twelve or twenty-four books.

The Pcrsao of jEschylus afforded me the first model of my conception, although the decision of the glorious contest now waging in Greece being yet suspended, forbids a catastrophe parallel to the return of Xerxes and the desolation of the Persians. I have, therefore, contented myself with exhibiting a scries of lyric pictures, and with having wrought upon the curtain of futurity, which falls upon the unfinished scene, such figures of indistinct and visionary delineation as suggest the final triumph of the Greek cause as a portion of the cause of civilisation and social improvement.

The drama (if drama it must be called) is, however, so inartificial that I doubt whether, if recited on the Thespian waggon to an Athenian village at the Dionysiaca, it would have obtained the prize of the goat. I shall bear with equanimity any punishment greater than the loss of such a reward which the Aristarchi of the hour may think fit to inflict.

The only goat-song which I have yet attempted has, I confess, in spite of the unfavourable nature of the subject, received a greater and a more valuable portion of applause than I expected, or than it deserved.

Common fame is the only authority which I can allege for the details which form the basis of the poem,

and I must trespass upon the forgiveness of my reader! for the display of newspaper erudition to which I hav: been reduced. Undoubtedly, until the conclusion of the war, it will be impossible to obtain on account of it sufficiently authentic for historical materials; bat poets have their privilege, and it is unquestionable that actions of the most exalted courage have been performed by the Greeks—that they have gained mere than one naval victory, and that their defeat in WaJ. Lochia was signalised by circumstances of heroism more glorious even than victory.

The apathy of the rulers of the civilised world, to the astonishing circumstance of the descendants of that nation to which they owe their civilisation—rising as it were from the ashes of their ruin, is something perfectly inexplicable to a mere spectator of the shows of this mortal scene. Wo arc all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece. But for Greece—Rome the instructor, the conqueror, or the metropolis of our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her arms, and we might still have been savages and idolaters; or, what is worse, might have arrived at such a stagnant and miserable state of social institutions as China and Japan possess.

The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection in Greece which has impressed its image on those faultless productions, whose very fragments are the despair of modern art, and has propagated impulseTM* which cannot cease, through a thousand channels of manifest or imperceptible operation, to ennoble and delight mankind until the extinction of the race.

The modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious beings whom the imagination almost refuses to figure to itself as belonging to our kind ; and ho inherits much of their sensibility, their rapidity of conception, their enthusiasm, and their courage. If in many instances he is degraded by moral and political

[ocr errors]

slavery to the practice of the basest vices it engenders and that below the level of ordinary degradation; let as reflect that the corruption of the best produces the worst, and that habits which subsist only in relation to a peculiar state of social institution may be expected to cease, as soon as that relation is dissolved. In fact, the Greeks, since the admirable novel of" Anastatius" could have been a faithful picturo of their manners, have undergone most important changes; the flower of their youtb, returning to their country from tho universities of Italy, Germany, and France, have communicated to their fellow-citizens the latest results of that social perfection of which their ancestors wcro the original source. The university of Chios contained before the breaking out of the revolution, eight hundred students, and among them several Germans and Americans. The munificence and energy of many of the Greek princes and merchants, directed to the renovation of their country, with a spirit and a wisdom which has few examples, is above all praise.

The English permit their own oppressors to act according to their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and to brand upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance with the enemies of domestic happiness, of Christianity, and civilisation.

Russia desires to possess, not to liberate Greece; and is contented to sec the Turks, its natural enemies, and the Greeks, its intended slaves, enfeeble each other, until one or both fall into its net. The wise and generous policy of England would have consisted in establishing the independence of Greece, and in maintaining it both against Russia and the Turks;—but when was the oppressor generous or just?

The Spanish Peninsula is already free. France is tranquil in the enjoyment of a partial exemption from the abuses which its unnatural and feeble government are vainly attempting to revive. The seed of blood and misery has been sown in Italy, and a more vigorous race is arising to go forth to the harvest. The world waits only the nows of a revolution of Germany, to see the tyrants who have pinnacled themselves on its supinenoss, precipitated into the ruin from which they shall never arise. Well do these destroyers of mankind know their enemy, when they impute tho insurrection in Greece to the same spirit before which they tremble throughout the rest of Europe; and that enemy well knows the power and cunning of its opponents, and watches tho moment of their approaching weakness and inevitable division, to wrest the bloody sceptres from their grasp.

[blocks in formation]

Scene, a Terrace, on the Seraglio.

Mahxud {sleeping), an Indian slave sitting beside his Couch.


We strew these opiate flowers

On thy restless pillow,—
They were stript from Orient bowers,
By the Indian billow.
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep,
Like theirs who fell—not ours who weep!


Away, unlovely dreams!

Away, false shapes of sleep!
Be his, as Heaven seems,
Clear, and bright, and deep!
Soft as love, and calm as death,
Sweet as a summer night without a breath.


Sleep, sleep! onr song is laden

With the soul of slumber; It was song by a Samian maiden, Whose lover was of the number Who now keep That calm sleep Whence none may wake, where none shall weep.


I touch thy temples pale!

I breathe my soul on thee! And could my prayers avail, All my joy should be Dead, and I would live to weep, So thou might'st win one hour of quiet sleep,

Breathe low, low,
The spell of the mighty mistress now!
When Conscience lulls her sated snake,
And Tyrants Bleep, let Freedom wake.
Breathe low, low,
The words, which, like secret fire, shall flow
Through the veins of the frozen earth—low, low!

Sehichorus I.
Life may change, but it may fly not;
Hope may vanish, but can die not;
Truth be veiled, but still it burnetii;
Love repulsed,—but it returneth!

Sehichorus II.
Yet were life a charnel, where
Hope lay coffined with Despair;
Yet were truth a sacred lie,
Love were lust—

« AnteriorContinuar »