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Title:      The Abbess of Castro and Other Shorter Novels (1926)
Author:     Stendhal [Marie-Henri Beyle] (1783-1842)
            Translated from the French by C. K. Scott-Moncrieff(1889-1930)
eBook No.:  0300361.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          March 2003
Date most recently updated: March 2003

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The Abbess of Castro and Other Shorter Novels (1926)
Author:     Stendhal [Marie-Henri Beyle] (1783-1842)
            Translated from the French by C. K. Scott-Moncrieff(1889-1930)









We have so often been shewn in melodrama the Italian brigands of the
sixteenth century, and so many people have spoken of them without any
real knowledge, that we have come to hold the most erroneous ideas of
what they were like. Speaking generally, one may say that these
brigands were the _Opposition_ to the vile governments which, in
Italy, took the place of the mediaeval Republics. The new tyrant was,
as a rule, the wealthiest citizen of the defunct Republic, and, to win
over the populace, would adorn the town with splendid churches and
fine pictures. Such were the Polentini of Ravenna, the Manfredi of
Faenza, the Riario of Imola, the Cani of Verona, the Bentivoglio of
Bologna, the Visconti of Milan, and lastly, the least bellicose and
most hypocritical of all, the Medici of Florence. Among the historians
of these little States none has dared to relate the countless
poisonings and assassinations ordered by the fear that used to torment
these petty tyrants; these grave historians were in their pay. When
you consider that each of these tyrants was personally acquainted with
each of the Republicans by whom he knew himself to be execrated (the
Tuscan Grand Duke Cosimo, for instance, knew Strozzi), and that
several of these tyrants died by the hand of the assassin, you will
understand the profound hatreds, the eternal distrust which gave so
much spirit and courage to the Italians of the sixteenth century, and
such genius to their artists. You will see these profound passions
preventing the birth of that really rather absurd prejudice which was
called honour in the days of Madame de Sévigné, and consists first and
foremost in sacrificing one's life to serve the master whose subject
one is by birth, and to please the ladies. In the sixteenth century, a
man's activity and his real worth could not be displayed in France,
nor win admiration, except by bravery on the field of battle or in
duels; and, as women love bravery, and above all daring, they became
the supreme judges of a man's worth. Then was born the _spirit of
gallantry_, which led to the destruction, one after another, of all
the passions, including love, in the interests of that cruel tyrant
whom we all obey: namely, vanity.  Kings protected vanity, and with
good reason, hence the power of the riband.

In Italy, a man distinguished himself by _all forms_ of merit, by
famous strokes with the sword as by discoveries in ancient
manuscripts: take Petrarch, the idol of his time; and a woman of the
sixteenth century loved a man who was learned in Greek as well as, if
not more than she would have loved a man famous for his martial
valour. Then one saw passions, and not the habit of gallantry. That is
the great difference between Italy and France, that is why Italy has
given birth to a Raphael, a Giorgione, a Titian, a Correggio, while
France produced all those gallant captains of the sixteenth century,
so entirely forgotten to-day, albeit each of them had killed so vast a
number of enemies.

I ask pardon for these homely truths. However it be, the atrocious and
_necessary_ acts of vengeance of the petty Italian tyrants of the
middle ages won over the hearts of their peoples to the brigands. The
brigands were hated when they stole horses, corn, money, in a word
everything that was necessary to support life; but, in their heart of
hearts, the people were for them, and the village girls preferred to
all the rest the boy who once in his life had been obliged _andare
alia macchia_, that is to say to flee to the woods and take refuge
among the brigands, in consequence of some over-rash action.

And even in our own day everyone dreads, unquestionably, an encounter
with brigands; but when they are caught and punished everyone is sorry
for them. The fact is that this people, so shrewd, so cynical, which
laughs at all the publications issued under the official censure of
its masters, finds its favourite reading in little poems which narrate
with ardour the lives of the most renowned brigands. The heroic
element that it finds in these stories thrills the artistic vein that
still survives in the lower orders, and besides, they are so weary of
the official praise given to certain people, that everything of this
sort which is not official goes straight to the heart. It must be
explained that the lower classes in Italy suffer from certain things
which the traveller would never observe, were he to live ten years in
the country. For instance, fifteen years ago, before governments in
their wisdom had suppressed the brigands, [Footnote: Gasparone, the
last of the brigands, made terms with the Government in 1826; he was
confined in the citadel of Civita-Vecchia with thirty-two of his men.
It was the want of water on the heights of the Apennines, where he had
taken refuge, that obliged him to make terms. He was a man of spirit,
with a face that is not easily forgotten.] it was not uncommon to see
certain of their exploits punish the iniquities of the _Governors_ of
small towns. These Governors, absolute magistrates whose emoluments do
not amount to more than twenty scudi monthly, are naturally at the
disposal of the most important family of the place, which by this
simple enough method oppresses its enemies. If the brigands did not
always succeed in punishing these despotic little Governors, they did
at least make fools of them, and defy their authority, which is no
small matter in the eyes of this quick-witted race. A satirical sonnet
consoles them for all their misfortunes, and never do they forget an
injury. That is another fundamental difference between the Italian and
the Frenchman.

In the sixteenth century, had the Governor of a township sentenced to
death a poor inhabitant ivho had incurred the hatred of the leading
family, one often found brigands attacking the prison in an attempt to
set free the victim; on the other hand the powerful family, having no
great faith in the nine or ten soldiers of the government who were set
to guard the prison, would raise at its own expense a troop of
temporary soldiers. These latter, who were known as _bravi_, would
install themselves in the neighbourhood of the prison, and make it
their business to escort to the place of execution the poor devil
whose death had been bought. If the powerful family included a young
man, he would place himself at the head of these improvised soldiers.

This state of civilisation makes morality groan, I admit; in our day
we have the duel, dulness, and judges are not bought and sold; but
these sixteenth century customs were marvellously well adapted to
create men worthy of the name.

Many historians, praised even to-day in the hack literature of the
academies, have sought to conceal this state of affairs, which, about
the year 1550, was forming such great characters. At the time, their
prudent falsehoods were rewarded with all the honours which the Medici
of Florence, the Este of Ferrara, the Viceroys of Naples and so forth
had at their disposal. One poor historian, named Giannone, did seek to
raise a corner of the veil, but as he ventured only to tell a very
small part of the truth, and even then only by using ambiguous and
obscure expressions, he made himself extremely tedious, which did not
prevent him from dying in prison at the age of eighty-two, on March
7th, 1758.

The first thing to be done, then, if one wishes to learn the history
of Italy, is on no account to read the authors generally commended;
nowhere has the value of a lie been better appreciated, nowhere has
lying been better rewarded.  [Footnote: Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Como,
Aretino, and a hundred others less amusing, whom the dulness that they
diffuse has saved from disrepute, Robertson, Roscoe are full of lies.
Guicciardini sold himself to Cosimo I, who treated him with contempt.
In our time, Coletta and Pignotti have told the truth, the latter with
the constant fear of being disgraced, although he refused to allow his
work to be printed until after his death.]

The earliest histories to be written in Italy, after the great wave of
barbarism in the ninth century, make mention already of the brigands,
and speak of them as though they had existed from time immemorial.
(See Muratori's collection.) When, unfortunately for the general
welfare, for justice, for good government, but fortunately for the
arts, the mediaeval Republics were overthrown, the most energetic
among the Republicans, those who loved freedom more than the majority
of their fellow-citizens, took refuge in the forests. Naturally a
populace harassed by the Baglioni, the Malatesta, the Bentivoglio, the
Medici, etc., loved and respected their enemies. The cruelties of the
petty tyrants who succeeded the first usurpers, the cruelties, for
instance, of Cosimo, the first Duke of Florence, who had the
Republicans who had fled to Venice, and even to Paris, slain,
furnished recruits to these brigands. To speak only of the times in
which our heroine lived, about the year 1550, Alfonso Piccolomini,
Duca di Monte Mariano, and Marco Sciarra led with success armed bands
which, in the neighbourhood of Albano, used to brave the Pope's
soldiers, who at that time were very brave indeed. The line of
operations of these famous chiefs, whom the populace still admire,
extended from the Po and the marshes of Ravenna as far as the woods
that then covered Vesuvius. The forest of la Faggiola, rendered so
famous by their exploits, and situated five leagues from Rome, on the
way to Naples, was the headquarters of Sciarra, who, during the
Pontificate of Gregory XIII, had often several thousands of men under
his command.  The detailed history of this illustrious brigand would
appear incredible to the present generation, for the reason that no
one would ever be able to understand the motives of his actions. He
was not defeated until 1592. When he saw that his affairs were in a
desperate state, he made terms with the Venetian Republic, and
transferred himself to its service, with the most devoted, or most
criminal (as you please) of his men. At the request of the Roman
Government, Venice, which had signed a treaty with Sciarra, had him
put to death, and sent his brave soldiers to defend the Isle of Candia
against the Turks. But Venice in her wisdom knew well that a deadly
plague was raging in Candia, and in a few days the five hundred
soldiers whom Sciarra had brought to the service of the Republic were
reduced to sixty-seven.

This forest of la Faggiola, whose giant trees screen anl extinct
volcano, was the final scene of the exploits of Marco Sciarra. Every
traveller will tell you that it is the most impressive spot in that
marvellous Roman Cam-pagna, whose sombre aspect appears made for
tragedy.  It crowns with its dusky verdure the summit of Monte Albano.

It is to a volcanic eruption centuries earlier than the foundation of
Rome that we owe this splendid mountain.  At an epoch before any of
the histories, it rose in the midst of the vast plain which at one
time extended from the Apennines to the sea. Monte Cavi, which rises
surrounded by the dusky shade of la Faggiola, is its culminating
point: it is visible from all sides, from Terracina and Ostia as well
as from Rome and Tivoli, and it is the mountain of Albano, covered now
with palaces, which closes to the south that Roman horizon so familiar
to travellers.  A convent of Blackfriars has taken the place, on the
summit of Monte Cavi, of the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, where the
Latin peoples came to sacrifice in common and to confirm the bonds of
a sort of religious federation.  Protected by the shade of magnificent
chestnuts, the traveller arrives after some hours at the enormous
blocks which mark the ruins of the temple of Jupiter; but beneath this
dark shade, so delicious in that climate, even to-day, the traveller
peers anxiously into the depths of the forest; he is afraid of
brigands. On reaching the summit of Monte Cavi, we light a fire in the
ruins of the temple, to prepare our meal. From this point, which
commands the whole of the Roman Campagna, we perceive, to the west of
us, the sea, which seems to be within a stone's throw, although three
or four leagues away; we can distinguish the smallest vessels; with
the least powerful glass, we can count the people who are journeying
to Naples on board the steamer. To all the other points of the
compass, the view extends over a magnificent plain, which is bounded
on the east by the Apennines above Palestrina, and to the north by
Saint Peter's and the other great buildings of Rome. Monte Cavi being
of no great height, the eye can make out the minutest details of this
sublime landscape, which might well dispense with any historical
association, and yet every clump of trees, every fragment of ruined
wall, catching the eye in the plain or on the slopes of the mountain,
recalls one of those battles, so admirable for their patriotism and
their valour, which Livy has put on record.

And we to-day can still follow, on our way to the enormous blocks, the
remains of the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, which serve as a wall to
the garden of the Blackfriars, the triumphal road travelled long ago
by the first Kings of Rome. It is paved with stones cut with great
regularity; and, in the middle of the forest of la Faggiola, we come
upon long sections of it.

On the lip of the crater which, filled now with clear water, has
become the charming lake of Albano, five or six miles in
circumference, so deeply embedded in its socket of lava, stood Alba,
the mother of Rome, which Roman policy destroyed in the days of the
first kings.  Its ruins, however, still exist. Some centuries later, a
quarter of a league from Alba, on the slope of the mountain that faces
the sea, arose Albano, the modern city; but it is divided from the
lake by a screen of rocks which hide the lake from the city and the
city from the lake.  When one sees it from the plain, its white
buildings stand out against the dark, profound verdure of the forest
so dear to the brigands and so often made famous, which crowns the
volcanic mountain on every side.

Albano, which numbers to-day five or six thousand inhabitants, had not
three thousand in 1540, when there flourished, in the highest rank of
the nobility, the powerful family of Campireali, whose misfortunes we
are about to relate.

I translate this story from two bulky manuscripts, one Roman, the
other Florentine. At great risk to myself, I have ventured to
reproduce their style, which is more or less that of our old legends.
So fine and restrained a style as is fashionable at the present day
would, I feel, have been too little in keeping with the events
recorded, and less still with the reflexions of the writers. They
wrote about the year 1598. I crave the reader's indulgence as well for
them as for myself.


"Having committed to writing so many tragic histories," says the
author of the Florentine manuscript, "I shall conclude with that one
which, among them all, it most pains me to relate. I am going to speak
of that famous Abbess of the Convent of the Visitation at Castro,
Elena de' Campireali, whose trial and death caused so great a stir in
the high society of Rome and of Italy. As far back as 1555, brigands
reigned in the neighbourhood of Rome, the magistrates were sold to the
powerful families. In the year 1572, which was that of the trial,
Gregory XIII, Buoncompagni, ascended the Throne of Saint Peter. This
holy pontiff combined all the apostolic virtues but has been blamed
for a certain weakness in his civil government: he was unable either
to select honest judges or to suppress the brigands; he burdened his
soul with crimes which he could not punish.  He felt that, in
inflicting the death penalty, he was taking upon himself a terrible
responsibility. The result of this attitude was to people with an
almost innumerable host of brigands the roads that lead to the eternal
city.  To travel with any security, one had to be a friend of the
brigands. The forest of la Faggiola, lying astride of the road that
runs to Naples by Albano, had long been the headquarters of a
government unfriendly to that of His Holiness, and on several
occasions Rome was obliged to treat, as one power with another, with
Marco Sciarra, one of the kings of the forest. What gave these
brigands their strength was that they had endeared themselves to their
peasant neighbours.

"This charming town of Albano, so close to the brigand headquarters,
witnessed the birth, in 1542, of Elena de' Campireali. Her father was
reckoned the wealthiest patrician of the district, and in this
capacity had married Vittoria Carafa, who owned a large estate in the
Kingdom of Naples. I could name several old men still living who knew
both Vittoria Carafa and her daughter quite well.  Vittoria was a
model of prudence and sense; but despite all her cleverness she could
not avert the ruin of her family. And this is curious: the terrible
misfortunes which are to form the melancholy subject of my story
cannot, it seems to me, be ascribed especially to any of the actors
whom I am going to present to the reader: I see people who are
unfortunate, but truly I cannot find any that are to be blamed. The
extreme beauty and tender heart of the young Elena were two great
perils for her, and form an excuse for Giulio Branciforte, her lover,
just as the absolute want of sense of Monsignor Cittadini, Bishop of
Castro, may excuse him also up to a certain point. He had owed his
rapid advancement in the scale of ecclesiastical dignities to the
honesty of his conduct, and above all to the most noble bearing and
most regularly handsome features that one could hope to meet. I find
it written of him that one could not set eyes on him without loving

"As I do not wish to flatter anyone, I shall make no attempt to
conceal the fact that a holy friar of the Convent of Monte Cavi, who
had often been surprised, in his cell, floating at a height of several
feet from the ground, like Saint Paul, when nothing but divine grace
could maintain him in that extraordinary posture, [Footnote: Even
to-day, this singular position is regarded by the populace of the
Roman Campagna as a sure sign of sanctity. About the year 1826, a monk
of Albano was seen many times raised from the ground by divine grace.
Many miracles were ascribed to him; people came from a radius of
twenty leagues to receive his blessing; women, belonging to the
highest ranks of society, had seen him floating in his cell three feet
from the ground.  Suddenly he vanished.] had prophesied to Signor de'
Campireali that his family would be extinguished with him, and that he
would have but two children, each of whom was to perish by a violent
death.  It was on account of this prophecy that he could find no one
to marry in the district, and went to seek his fortune at Naples,
where he was lucky enough to find great possessions and a wife
capable, by her intelligence, of averting his evil destiny, had such a
thing been possible. This Signor de' Campireali was considered a most
honourable man, and dispensed charity lavishly; but he lacked spirit,
which meant that gradually he withdrew from the annual visit to Rome,
and ended by passing almost the whole year in his palazzo at Albano.
He devoted himself to the cultivation of his estates, situated in that
rich plain which extends from the city to the sea. On the advice of
his wife, he caused the most splendid education to be given to his son
Fabio, a young man extremely proud of his birth, and his daughter
Elena, who was a marvel of beauty, as may be seen to this day from her
portrait, which is preserved in the Farnese collection. Since I began
to write her history I have gone to the palazzo Farnese to consider
the mortal envelope which heaven had bestowed upon this woman, whose
grim destiny caused so much stir in her own time, and even now still
finds a place in human memory. The shape of the head is an elongated
oval, the brow is very large, the hair of a dark gold.  Her general
air is on the whole one of gaiety; she had large eyes with a profound
expression, and chestnut eyebrows that formed a perfectly traced arch.
The lips are very thin, and you would say that the lines of her mouth
had been drawn by the famous painter Correggio. Viewed amid the
portraits which hang on either side of hers in the Farnese gallery,
she has the air of a queen. It is very seldom that an air of gaiety is
found in combination with majesty.

"Having spent eight whole years as a boarder in the Convent of the
Visitation in the town of Castro, now destroyed, to which, in those
days, the majority of the Roman princes sent their daughters, Elena
returned to her home, but did not leave the convent without first
making an oblation of a splendid chalice to the high altar of the
church. No sooner had she returned to Albano than her father summoned
from Rome, at a considerable salary, the celebrated poet Cecchino,
then a man of great age; he enriched Elena's mind with the finest
passages of the divine Virgil, and of Petrarch, Ariosto and Dante, his
famous disciples."

Here the translator is obliged to omit a long dissertation on the
varying degrees of fame which the sixteenth century assigned to these
great poets. It would appear that Elena knew Latin. The poetry that
she was made to learn spoke of love, and of a love that would seem to
us highly ridiculous, were we to come across it in 1839; I mean the
passionate love that feeds on great sacrifices, that can exist only
when wrapped in mystery, and borders always on the most dreadful

Such was the love that was inspired in Elena, then barely seventeen,
by Giulio Branciforte. He was one of her neighbours, and very poor; he
lived in a wretched house built on the side of the mountain, a quarter
of a league from the town, amid the ruins of Alba, and on the edge of
the precipice of one hundred and fifty feet, screened with foliage,
which surrounds the lake. This house, which stood within the sombre
and splendid shade of the forest of la Faggiola, was afterwards
demolished, when the convent of Palazzuola was built. The poor young
man had no advantages beyond his lively and light-hearted manner and
the unfeigned indifference with which he endured his misfortunes. The
most that could be said in his favour was that his face was expressive
without being handsome. But he was understood to have fought gallantly
under the command of Prince Colonna, and among his _bravi_, in two or
three highly dangerous enterprises.  Despite his poverty, despite his
want of good looks, he possessed nevertheless, in the eyes of all the
young women of Albano, the heart that it would have been most
gratifying to win. Well received everywhere, Giulio Branciforte had
made none but the easiest conquests, until the moment when Elena
returned from the convent of Castro. "When, shortly afterwards, the
great poet Cecchino moved from Rome to the palazzo Campireali, to
teach the girl literature, Giulio, who knew him, sent him a set of
Latin verses on the good fortune that had befallen him in his old age,
in seeing so fine a pair of eyes fastened upon his own, and so pure a
heart become perfectly happy when he deigned to bestow his approval
upon its thoughts. The jealousy and disgust of the girls to whom
Giulio had been paying attention before Elena's return soon rendered
vain every precaution that he might take to conceal a dawning passion,
and I must confess that this affair between a young man of two and
twenty and a girl of seventeen was carried on in a fashion of which
prudence could not approve. Three months had not gone by before Signer
de' Campireali observed that Giulio Branciforte was in the habit of
passing unduly often beneath the windows of his palazzo (which is
still to be seen about half way along the high road that leads up to
the lake)."

Freedom of speech and rudeness, natural consequences of the liberty
which Republics tolerate, and the habit of giving way to passions not
yet subdued by the manners of a monarchy appear unconcealed in the
first steps taken by Signer de' Campireali. On the very day on which
he had taken offence at the frequent appearance of young Branci-forte,
he addressed him in these terms:

"How is it you dare loiter about like this all day in front of my
house, and have the impertinence to stare up at my daughter's windows,
you who have not even a coat to your back? Were I not afraid that such
an action might be misinterpreted by my neighbours, I should give you
three gold sequins, and you would go to Rome and buy yourself a more
decent jacket. At any rate my eyes and my daughter's would not be
offended any more by the sight of your rags."

Elena's father no doubt exaggerated: young Branci-forte's clothes were
by no means rags; they were made of the plainest materials; but,
although spotlessly clean and often brushed, it must be admitted that
their appearance betokened long wear. Giulio was so cut to the heart
by Signor Campireali's reproaches that he ceased to appear by day
outside his house.

As we have said, the two lines of arches, remains of an ancient
aqueduct, which formed the main walls of the house built by
Branciforte's father and left by him to his son, were no more than
five or six hundred yards from Albano. In coming down from this higher
ground to the modern city, Giulio was obliged to pass by the palazzo
Campireali. Elena soon remarked the absence of the singular young man
who, her friends told her, had abandoned all other society in order to
consecrate himself wholly to the pleasure which he appeared to find in
gazing at her.

One summer evening, towards midnight, Elena's window stood open, the
girl herself was enjoying the sea breeze which makes itself felt quite
distinctly on the hillside of Albano, albeit the town is divided from
the sea by a plain three leagues in width. The night was dark, the
silence profound; one could have heard a leaf fall to the ground.
Elena, leaning upon her window sill, may have been thinking of Giulio,
when she caught sight of something like the soundless wing of a
nocturnal bird which passed gently to and fro close to her window. She
drew back in alarm.  It never occurred to her that this object might
be being held up by some passer-by: the second storey of the palazzo,
from which her window looked, was more than fifty feet from the
ground. Suddenly she thought she identified a bunch of flowers in this
strange article which amid a profound silence kept passing to and fro
outside the window on the sill of which she was leaning; her heart
beat violently. These flowers appeared to her to be fastened to the
extremity of two or three of those canne, a large kind of reed not
unlike the bamboo, which grow in the Roman Campagna, and send up
shoots to a height of twenty or thirty feet. The flexibility of the
reeds and the strength of the breeze made it difficult for Giulio to
keep his nosegay exactly opposite the window from which he supposed
that Elena might be looking out, and besides, the night was so dark
that from the street one could make out nothing at that height.
Standing motionless inside her window, Elena was deeply stirred. To
take these flowers, would not that be an admission? Not that she
experienced any of the feelings to which an adventure of this sort
would give rise, in our day, in a girl of the best society prepared
for life by a thorough education. As her father and her brother Fabio
were in the house, her first thought was that the least sound would be
followed by a shot from an arquebus aimed at Giulio; she was moved to
pity by the risk which that poor young man was running.  Her second
thought was that, although she as yet knew him very slightly, he was
nevertheless the person she loved best in the world after her own
family. At length, after hesitating for some minutes, she took the
nosegay, and, as she touched the flowers in the intense darkness,
could feel that a note was tied to the stem of one of them; she ran to
the great staircase to read this note by the light of the lamp that
burned before the image of the Madonna. "How rash!" she said to
herself when the opening lines had made her blush with joy; "If anyone
sees me, I am lost, and my family will persecute that poor young man
for ever." She returned to her room and lighted the lamp. This was an
exquisite moment for Giulio, who, ashamed of his action and as though
to hide himself even in the pitch darkness, had flattened himself
against the enormous trunk of one of those weirdly shaped evergreen
oaks which are still to be seen opposite the palazzo Campireali.

In his letter Giulio related with the most perfect simplicity the
crushing reprimand that had been addressed to him by Elena's father.
"I am poor, it is true," he went on, "and you would find it hard to
imagine the whole extent of my poverty. I have only my house which you
may have observed beneath the ruins of the Alban aqueduct; round the
house is a garden which I cultivate myself, and live upon its produce.
I also possess a vineyard which is leased at thirty scudi a year. I do
not know, really, why I love you; certainly I cannot suggest that you
should come and share my poverty. And yet, if you do not love me, life
has no further value for me; it is useless to tell you that I would
give it a thousand times over for you. And yet, before your return
from the convent, that life was by no means wretched; on the contrary,
it was filled with the most dazzling dreams. So that I can say that
the sight of happiness has made me unhappy. To be sure, no one in the
world would then have dared to say the things to me with which your
father lashed me; my dagger would have done him prompt justice. Then,
with my courage and my weapons, I reckoned myself a match for anyone;
I wanted nothing. Now it is all altered: I have known fear.  I have
written too much; perhaps you despise me. If, on the other hand, you
have any pity for me, in spite of the poor clothes that cover me, you
will observe that every night, when twelve strikes from the Capuchin
convent at the top of the hill, I am hiding beneath the great oak,
opposite the window at which I never cease to gaze, because I suppose
it to be that of your room. If you do not despise me as your father
does, throw me down one of the flowers from your nosegay, but take
care that it is not caught on one of the cornices, or on one of the
balconies of your palazzo."

This letter was read many times; gradually Elena's eyes filled with
tears; she tenderly examined this splendid nosegay, the flowers of
which were tied together with a strong silken cord. She tried to pull
out a flower, but failed; then she was seized with remorse. Among
Roman girls, to pull out a flower, to damage in any way a nosegay
given in love, means risking the death of that love. Fearing lest
Giulio might be growing impatient, she ran to her window; but, on
reaching it, suddenly reflected that she was too easily visible, the
lamp flooding the room with light. Elena could not think what signal
she might allow herself to give; it seemed as though there were none
that did not say a great deal too much.

Covered with shame, she ran back into her room. But time was flying;
suddenly an idea occurred to her which threw her into unspeakable
confusion: Giulio would think that, like her father, she despised his
poverty! She saw a little specimen of a precious marble lying on her
table, tied it in her handkerchief and threw the handkerchief down to
the foot of the oak opposite her window. She then made a sign that he
was to go; she heard Giulio obey her; for, as he went away, he no
longer sought to muffle the sound of his step. When he had reached the
summit of the girdle of rocks which separates the lake from the last
houses of Albano, she heard him singing words of love; she made him
signals of farewell, this time less timid, then began to read his
letter again.

The following evening, and every evening after this there were similar
letters and assignations; but as everything is observed in an Italian
village, and as Elena was by far the greatest heiress in the place,
Signor de' Campireali was informed that every evening, after midnight,
a light was seen in his daughter's room; and, what was far more
extraordinary, the window was open, and indeed Elena stood there as
though she were in no fear of _zanzare_ (an extremely troublesome kind
of midge, which greatly spoils the fine evenings in the Roman
Campagna. Here I must once again crave the reader's indulgence. When
one is trying to understand the ways of foreign countries, one must
expect to find very grim ideas, very different from our own). Signor
de' Campireali made ready his own arquebus and his son's. That
evening, as the clock struck a quarter to twelve, he called Fabio, and
the two stole out, making as little sound as possible, on to a great
stone balcony which projected from the first floor of the palazzo
immediately beneath Elena's window. The massive pillars of the stone
balustrade gave them breast-high cover from the fire of any arquebus
that might be aimed at them from without. Midnight struck; father and
son could hear quite distinctly a slight sound from beneath the trees
which bordered the street opposite their palazzo; but, and this filled
them with surprise, no light appeared at Elena's window. This girl, so
simple until then, and' to all appearances a child, from the
spontaneity of her movements, had changed in character since she had
been in love. She knew that the slightest imprudence jeopardised her
lover's life; if a gentleman of the importance of her father killed a
poor man like Giulio Branciforte, he could clear himself by
disappearing for three months, which he would spend at Naples; during
that time, hie friends in Rome would settle the matter, and all would
be ended with the offer of a silver lamp costing some hundreds of
scudi to the altar of the Madonna in fashion at the moment. That day,
at luncheon, Elena had read on her father's features that he had some
grave cause for anger, and, from the way in which he watched her when
he thought that he was not observed, she concluded that she herself
was largely responsible for this anger. She went at once and sprinkled
a little dust on the stocks of the five splendid arquebuses which her
father kept hanging by his bed. She covered also with a fine layer of
dust his swords and daggers. All day she shewed a wild gaiety, running
incessantly from top to bottom of the house; at every moment she went
to the windows, quite determined to make Giulio a negative signal,
should she be so for-tunate as to catch sight of him. But there was no
chance of that: the poor fellow had been so profoundly humiliated by
the onslaught made on him by the rich Signer de' Campireali, that by
day he never appeared in Albano; duty alone brought him there on
Sundays to the parochial mass. Elena's mother, who adored her and
could refuse her nothing, went out with her three times that day, but
all in vain: Elena saw no sign of Giulio. She was in despair.  What
were her feelings when, on going towards nightfall to examine her
father's weapons, she saw that two arquebuses had been loaded, and
that almost all the swords and daggers had been handled. She was
distracted from her mortal anxiety only by the extreme care she took
to appear to suspect nothing. On retiring to bed at ten o'clock, she
turned the key in the door of her room, which opened into her mother's
ante-room, then remained glued to her window, leaning upon the sill in
such a way as not to be visible from without. One may judge of the
anxiety with which she heard the hours strike: it was no longer a
question of the reproaches which she often heaped on herself for the
rapidity with which she had attached herself to Giulio, which might
render her less worthy in his eyes of love. This day did more to
strengthen the young man's position than six months of constancy and
protestations.  "What is the use of lying?" Elena said to herself.
"Do I not love him with all my heart and soul?"

At half past eleven she saw quite plainly her father and brother
ambush themselves on the great stone balcony beneath her window. A
minute or two after midnight had sounded from the Capuchin convent,
she heard quite plainly also the step of her lover, who stopped
beneath the great oak; she noticed with joy that her father and
brother seemed to have heard nothing: it required the anxiety of love
to distinguish so faint a sound.

"Now," she said to herself, "they are going to kill me, but at all
costs they must not intercept this evening's letter, they would
persecute my poor Giulio for ever." She made the sign of the Cross,
and, holding on with one hand to the iron balcony of her window,
leaned out, thrusting herself as far forward as possible over the
street. Not a quarter of a minute had passed when the nosegay,
fastened as usual to a long cane, came brushing against her arms. She
seized the nosegay, but, as she wrenched it vigorously from the cane
to the end of which it was tied, she caused the said cane to strike
against the stone balcony.  At once two arquebus shots rang out,
followed by complete silence. Her brother Fabio, not knowing, in the
darkness, whether what was tapping violently against the balcony might
not be a cord with the help of which Giulio was climbing down from his
sister's room, had fired at her balcony; next day she found the mark
of the bullet, which had flattened itself against the iron. Signer de'
Campireali had fired into the street, beneath the stone balcony, for
Giulio had made some noise in catching the cane as it fell.  Giulio,
for his part, hearing a noise above his head, had guessed what would
follow, and had taken cover beneath the projection of the balcony.

Fabio quickly reloaded his arquebus, and, heedless of anything that
his father might say, ran to the garden of the house, quietly opened a
little door which gave on one of the adjoining streets and stole out
on tiptoe to see for himself who the people were that were walking
beneath the balcony of the palazzo. At that moment Giulio who, this
evening, was well escorted, was within twenty paces of him, flattened
against a tree. Elena, leaning from her balcony and trembling for her
lover, at once began a conversation at the top of her voice with her
brother, whom she could hear moving in the street; she asked him if he
had killed the robbers.

"Do not imagine that I am taken in by your wicked tricks!" he called
up to her from the street which he was exploring in every direction,
"but prepare your tears, I am going to kill the insolent wretch who
dares to approach your window."

No sooner had these words been uttered than Elena heard her mother
knock at the door of her room.

She made haste to open it, saying that she could not conceive how the
door had come to be locked.

"No make-believe with me, my dear angel," her mother told her; "your
father is furious, and will perhaps kill you: come and lie down with
me in my bed; and, if you have a letter, give it to me, I will hide

Elena said to her:

"Here is the nosegay; the letter is hidden among the flowers."

Scarcely were mother and daughter in bed, when Signer de' Campireali
entered his wife's room; he came from her oratory, to which he had
paid a visit, overturning everything in it. What impressed Elena. was
that her father, pale as a spectre, was acting in a slow, deliberate
fashion, like a man who has entirely made up his mind.  "I am as good
as dead!" she said to herself.

"We rejoice that we have children," said her father as ke passed by
his wife's bed on his way to his daughter's room, trembling with rage,
but affecting a perfect calm; "we rejoice that we have children, we
ought rather to shed tears of blood when those children are girls.
Great God!  Is it indeed possible! Their loose conduct is capable of
destroying the honour of a man who in sixty years has never given
anyone the slightest hold over him."

So saying, he passed into his daughter's room.

"I am lost," Elena told her mother, "the letters are beneath the
pedestal of the crucifix, beside the window."

At once the mother sprang out of bed and ran after her husband; she
shouted out to him the most senseless things imaginable, to stimulate
his anger; in this she was entirely successful. The old man became
furious, he broke everything in his daughter's room; but the mother
was able to remove the letters unobserved. An hour later, when Signor
de' Campireali had returned to his own room next door to his wife's,
and all was quiet in the house, the mother said to her daughter:

"Here are your letters, I have no wish to read them, you see what they
might have cost us! If I were you, I would burn them. Good night, kiss

Elena returned to her own room, dissolved in tears; it seemed to her
that, after these words from her mother, she no longer loved Giulio.
Then she made ready to burn his letters; but, before destroying them,
could not refrain from reading them again. She read them so carefully
and so often that the sun was already high in the heavens when at
length she determined to listen to the voice of reason.

On the following day, which was a Sunday, Elena walked to the parish
church with her mother; fortunately, her father did not follow them.
The first person on whom her eyes fell in church was Giulio
Branciforte. A glance at him assured her that he was not injured. Her
happiness knew no bounds; the events of the night were a million
leagues away from her memory. She had prepared five or six little
notes scribbled on old scraps of paper stained with a mixture of earth
and water, such as might naturally be found lying on the floor of a
church; each of these 'notes contained the same warning:

"_They have discovered all, except his name. He must not appear again
in the street; a certain person will come here often_."

Elena let fall one of these scraps of paper; a glance was sufficient
to warn Giulio, who picked it up and vanished.  On her return home, an
hour later, she found on the great staircase of the palazzo a fragment
of paper which attracted her attention by its exact resemblance to
those of which she had made use that morning. She took possession of
it, without even her mother's noticing anything; and read:

"_In three days he will return from Rome, where he is forced to go.
There will be singing by daylight, on market-days, above the din made
by the peasants, about ten o'clock_."

This departure for Rome seemed to Elena strange.  "Does it mean that
he is afraid of my brother's arquebus?" she asked herself sadly. Love
pardons everything, except a deliberate absence; that being the worst
of tortures. Instead of passing in a delightful dream and being wholly
occupied in weighing the reasons that one has for loving one's lover,
life is then agitated by cruel doubts. "But, after all, can I believe
that he no longer loves me?" Elena asked herself during the three long
days of Branciforte's absence. Suddenly her grief gave way to a wild
joy: on the third day, she saw him appear in the full light of noon,
strolling in the street in front of her father's palazzo.  He was
wearing new, almost grand clothes. Never had the nobility of his
bearing and the gay and courageous simplicity of his features shone to
better advantage; never either, before that day, had there been so
much talk in Albano of Giulio's poverty. It was the men, the young men
especially, who repeated that cruel word; the women, and especially
the girls, never wearied in their praises of his fine appearance.

Giulio spent the whole day walking about the town; he appeared to be
making up for the months of seclusion to which his poverty had
condemned him. As befits a man in love, Giulio was well armed beneath
his new tunic.  Apart from his dirk and dagger, he had put on his
_giacco_ (a sort of long waistcoat of chain mail, extremely
uncomfortable to wear, but a cure, to these Italian hearts, for a sad
malady, the piercing attacks of which were incessantly felt in that
age, I mean the fear of being killed at the street corner by one of
the enemies one knew oneself to have). On the day in question, Giulio
hoped for a glimpse of Elena, and moreover felt some repugnance at the
thought of being left to his own company in his lonely house: for the
following reason. Banuccio, an old soldier of his father, after having
served with him in ten campaigns in the troops of various
_condottieri_, and finally in those of Marco Sciarra, had followed his
captain when the latter's wounds forced him to retire. Captain
Branciforte had reasons for not living in Rome: he was exposed there
to the risk of meeting the sons of men whom he had killed; even at
Albano, he was by no means anxious to place himself entirely at the
mercy of constituted authority. Instead of buying or leasing a house
in the town, he preferred to build one so situated that its occupant
could see visitors approaching a long way off. He found amid the ruins
of Alba an admirable site: one could, unobserved by indiscreet
visitors, slip away into the forest where ruled his old friend and
patron, Prince Fabrizio Colonna. Captain Branciforte gave no thought
to his son's future. When he retired from the service, only fifty
years old, but riddled with wounds, he calculated that he had still
some ten years of life, and, having built his house, spent every year
a tenth part of what he had collected in the lootings of towns and
villages in which he had had the honour to take part.

He purchased the vineyard which brought in a rental of thirty scudi to
his son as a retort to the sneer of a burgess of Albano, who had said
to him, one day when he was disputing hotly over the interests and
honour of the town, that it was evidently right and proper for so rich
a proprietor as himself to give advice to the _ansioni_ of Albano. The
captain bought the vineyard, and announced that he would buy any
number more: then, meeting his critic in a solitary place, killed him
with a pistol shot.

After eight years of this sort of life, the captain died; his
supporter Ranuccio adored Giulio; nevertheless, weary of idleness, he
took service once again in Prince Colonna's band. He often came to see
_his son Giulio_, for so he called him, and, on the eve of a perilous
assault which the Prince was about to face in his fortress of la
Petrella, he had taken Giulio with him to fight. Finding him to be
extremely brave:

"You must be mad," he told him, "and very easily sat--' isfied, to be
living on the outskirts of Albano like the humblest and poorest of its
inhabitants, when with what I have seen you do and your father's name
you might be a brilliant soldier of fortune among us, and, what is
more, make your fortune."

Giulio was tormented by these words; he knew the Latin that had been
taught him by a priest, but, as his father had always laughed at
everything that the priest said apart from his Latin, he had
absolutely no educa-, tion. At the same time, despised for his
poverty, isolated in his lonely house, he had acquired a certain
common-sense which, by its boldness, would have astonished men of
learning. For instance, before falling in love with Elena, and without
knowing why, he loved war, but he felt a repugnance towards pillage,
which, in the eyes of his father the captain and of Ranuccio, was like
the short play intended to raise a laugh which follows the noble
tragedy.  Since he had been in love with Elena, this commonsense, the
fruit of his solitary reflexions, had been torturing Giulio. So
light-hearted before, he now dared not consult anyone as to his
doubts, his heart was full of passion and misery. What would not
Signer de' Campireali say if he knew him to be a soldier of fortune?
This time, his reproaches would not be without foundation! Giulio had
always reckoned upon the military profession, as a sure resource when
he should have spent the price of the gold chains and other jewels
which he had found in his father's strong-box. If Giulio had no
scruple as to carrying off (he, so poor) the daughter of the rich
Signor de' Campireali, it was because in those days fathers disposed
of their property after their death as they pleased, and Signor de'
Campireali might very well leave his daughter a thousand scudi as her
entire fortune. Another problem kept Giulio's imagination closely
occupied: first of all, in what city should he install young Elena
after he had married her and carried her off from her father?
Secondly, with what money was he to support her?

When Signor de' Campireali addressed to him that stinging reproach
which he had felt so keenly, Giulio remained for two days a victim to
the most violent rage and grief; he could not make up his mind either
to kill the insolent old man, or to let him live. He passed whole
nights in tears; at length he decided to consult Ranuccio, the one
friend that he had in the world; but would that friend understand him?
It was in vain that he sought for Ranuccio throughout the forest of la
Faggiola, he was obliged to take the road to Naples, past Velletri,
where Ranuccio was in command of an ambuscade: he was waiting there,
with a large company, for Ruiz d'Avalos, a Spanish General, who was
proceeding to Rome by land, forgetting that, not long since, before a
large audience, he had spoken with contempt of the soldiers of fortune
of the Colonna band. His chaplain reminded him most opportunely of
this little circumstance, and Ruiz d'Avalos decided to charter a
vessel and to approach Rome by sea.

As soon as Captain Ranuccio had heard Giulio's story:

"Describe to me exactly," he said to him, "the person of this Signer
de' Campireali, that his imprudence may not cost the life of some
worthy inhabitant of Albano. As soon as the business that is keeping
us here is brought to an end one way or the other, you will take
yourself off to Rome, where you will take care to shew yourself in the
inns and other public places at all hours of the day; you must not let
anyone suspect you, on account of your love for the daughter."

Giulio had great difficulty in calming the anger of his father's old
comrade. He was obliged to lose his temper.

"Do you suppose that I am asking you for your sword?" he said finally.
"Surely I have a sword, myself! I ask you for good advice."

Ranuccio ended every speech with these words:

"You are young, you have no wounds; the insult was public: a man who
has lost his honour is despised, even by women."

Giulio told him that he desired time for further reflexion as to what
his heart wished, and despite the protestations of Ranuccio, who was
quite determined that he should take part in the attack upon the
Spanish General's escort, where, he said, there would be honour to be
won, not to mention the doubloons, Giulio returned alone to his little
house. It was there that, the day before that on which Signor de'
Campireali fired an arquebus at him, he had entertained Ranuccio and
his corporal, who had come there from the neighbourhood of Velletri.
Ranuccio employed force to open the little iron strong box in which
his patron, Captain Branciforte, used to lock up the gold chains and
other jewels which he did not choose to convert into cash immediately
after an expedition. He found in it two scudi.

"I advise you to become a monk," he said to Giulio, "you have all the
necessary virtues: love of poverty, here is a proof of it; humility,
you allow yourself to be blackguarded in the public street by a rich
townsman of Albano; you want only hypocrisy and gluttony."

Ranuccio insisted on putting fifty doubloons into the iron box.

"I give you my word," he said to Giulio, "that if within a month from
to-day Signor de' Campireali is not buried with all the honours due to
his nobility and wealth, my corporal here present will come with
thirty men to pull down your little house and burn your wretched
furniture.  Captain Branciforte's son must not cut a poor figure in
this world, on the strength of being in love."

When Signor de' Campireali and his son fired the two shots from their
arquebuses, Ranuccio and the corporal had taken up their position
beneath the stone balcony, and Giulio had the greatest possible
difficulty in restraining them from killing Fabio, when that young man
made an imprudent sally through the garden, as we have already
related. The argument that calmed Ranuccio was as follows: it is not
right to kill a young man who may grow up and become of use in the
world, while there exists an aged sinner more guilty than he, and fit
only to fill a grave.  The day after this adventure, Ranuccio
disappeared into the forest, and Giulio set out for Rome. The joy
which he felt in buying fine clothes with the doubloons which Ranuccio
had given him, was cruelly marred by an idea quite extraordinary for
that time, and one that foreboded the exalted destiny that was in
store for him: he kept saying to himself: "Elena must be told who I
am." Any other man of his age and period would have thought only of
enjoying his love and carrying off Elena, without asking himself for a
moment what was to become of her in six months' time, any more than
what opinion she would form of himself.

On his return to Albano, and on the afternoon of the day on which he
displayed before the eyes of all the town the fine clothes that he had
brought back from Rome, Giulio learned from old Scotti, his friend,
that Fabio had left the town on horseback, on a journey of three
leagues to a property which his father owned in the plain, by the
sea-coast. Later in the day, he saw Signor de' Cam-pireali,
accompanied by two priests, take the road leading to the magnificent
avenue of evergreen oaks that crowns the edge of the crater in which
the lake of Albano lies.  Ten minutes later, an old woman boldly made
her way into the palazzo de' Campireali, on the pretext of offering
some fine fruit for sale; the first person that she met was the little
maid Marietta, the confidential friend of her mistress Elena, who
blushed to the whites of her eyes on receiving a fine nosegay. The
letter concealed in the nosegay was of a preposterous length: Giulio
related all his feelings since the night of the arquebus-shots; but,
by a very singular piece of modesty, did not venture to confess what
any other young man of his day would have been so proud to make known,
namely that he was the son of a Captain famous for his adventures, and
that he himself had already given proof of his valour in more than one
combat. He felt that he could hear the reflexions which these deeds
would inspire in old Campireali. It must be understood that in the
sixteenth century the young women, their outlook being more akin to
republican commonsense, esteemed a man far more highly for what he had
done himself than for the riches amassed by his fathers or for their
famous deeds. But it was principally the young women of humble birth
that entertained these ideas. Those who belonged to the rich or noble
class were afraid of the brigands, and, as is natural, had a great
regard for nobility and opulence. Giulio ended his letter with the
words: "I do not know whether the more becoming clothes which I have
brought back from Rome have made you forget the cruel insult that a
person whom you respect addressed to me recently, with regard to my
shabby appearance; I could have avenged myself, I ought to have done
so, my honour commanded it; I refrained in consideration of the tears
which my revenge would have brought to a pair of eyes that I adore.
This may prove to you, if, unfortunately for me, you should still
doubt it, that one can be extremely poor and yet have noble feelings.
Apart from this, I have to reveal to you a terrible secret; I should
certainly find no difficulty in telling it to any other woman; but
somehow I shudder when I think of making it known to you. It is
capable of destroying, in an instant, the love that you feel for me;
no protestation on your part would satisfy me. I wish to read in your
eyes the effect that this admission will produce. One of these days,
at nightfall, I shall see you in the garden that lies behind the
palazzo. That day, Fabio and your father will be away from home; when
I have made certain that, notwithstanding their contempt for a poor
and ill dressed young man, they cannot deprive us of three quarters of
an hour or an hour of conversation, a man will appear beneath the
windows of your palazzo, who will be shewing a tame fox to the village
children. Later, when the Angélus rings, you will hear a shot fired
from an arquebus in the distance; at that moment, go across to the
wall of your garden, and, if you are not alone, sing. If all is
silent, your slave will appear, trembling, at your feet, and will tell
you things which will perhaps fill you with horror. Until that
decisive day comes, a terrible day for me, I shall not take the risk
again of offering you a nosegay at midnight; but about two o'clock in
the morning I shall go by singing, and perhaps, watching from the
great stone balcony, you will let fall a flower plucked by you in your
garden. These may be the last signs of affection that you will give to
the unhappy Giulio."

Three days after this, Elena's father and brother had gone on their
horses to the property which they owned by the seashore; they were to
start back shortly before sunset, so as to reach home about two
o'clock in the morning.  But, when the time came for them to take the
road, not only their own two horses but every horse on the farm had
disappeared. Greatly astonished by this audacious robbery, they hunted
for their horses, which were not found until the following day in the
forest of tall trees which lines the shore. The two Campireali, father
and son, were obliged to return to Albano in a country cart drawn by

That evening, when Giulio was at Elena's feet, it was almost quite
dark, and the poor girl was very glad of the darkness: she was
appearing for the first time before this man whom she loved tenderly,
who knew very well that she loved him, but to whom after all she had
never yet spoken.

One thing that she noticed restored a little of her courage: Giulio
was paler and trembled more than she. She saw him at her knees:
"Truly, I am not in a fit state to speak," he said to her. There
followed some moments, apparently of great happiness; they gazed at
one another, but without the power to utter a single word, motionless
as a group wrought in marble, but a group full of expression.  Giulio
was on his knees, holding one of Elena's hands; she, with bent head,
was studying him attentively.

Giulio knew well that, following the advice of his friends, the young
debauchees of Rome, he ought to have made some attempt; but the idea
horrified him. He was aroused from this state of ecstasy and, perhaps,
of the keenest happiness that love can give, by this thought: the time
was passing rapidly, the Campireali were drawing near their palazzo.
He realised that with so scrupulous a nature as his he could not find
any lasting happiness so long as he had not made to his mistress that
terrible admission which would have seemed to his Roman friends so
dense a piece of stupidity.

"I have spoken to you of an admission which perhaps I ought not to
make to you," he said at length to Elena.

Giulio turned very pale; he added with difficulty and as though his
breath were failing:

"Perhaps I am going to see those feelings vanish, the hope of which
constitutes my life. You think me poor; that is not all: _I am a
brigand and the son of a brigand_."

At these words Elena, a rich man's daughter filled with all the fears
of her caste, felt that she was going to faint; she was afraid of
falling to the ground. "What a grief that will be for poor Giulio!"
she thought: "he will imagine that I despise him." He was at her
knees. In order not to fall she leaned upon him, and a little later
fell into his arms, apparently unconscious. As we see, in the
sixteenth century they liked exactitude in love stories. This was
because the mind did not criticise these stories, the imagination felt
them, and the passion of the reader identified itself with that of
their heroes. The two manuscripts which we follow, and especially the
one which presents certain turns of speech peculiar to the Florentine
dialect, give in the fullest detail the history of all the meetings
that followed. Danger took away all sense of guilt from the girl.
Often the danger was extreme; but it did nought but inflame these two
hearts for which all the sensations that arose from their love were
those of happiness. Several times Fabio and his father were on the
point of surprising them. They were furious, believing themselves to
be defied: common rumour informed them that Giulio was Elena's lover,
and yet they could see nothing. Fabio, an impetuous young man and one
proud of his birth, proposed to his father to have Giulio killed.

"So long as he remains in this world," he said to him, "my sister's
life is a succession of the greatest dangers.  Who knows but that at
any moment our honour may oblige us to dip our hands in the blood of
that obstinate girl?  She has come to such a pitch of boldness that
she no longer denies her love; you have seen her answer your
reproaches only with a gloomy silence; very well, that silence is
Giulio Branciforte's death sentence."

"Think of what his father was," replied Signer de' Cam-pireali.
"Certainly there is no difficulty in our going to spend six months in
Rome, and, during that time, this Branciforte will disappear. But how
do we know that his father, who, with all his crimes, was brave and
generous, generous to the point of enriching many of his soldiers and
remaining a poor man himself, how do we know that his father has not
left friends behind him, either in the band of the Duca di Monte
Mariano or in the Colonna band, which often occupies the woods of la
Faggiola, half a league from us? In that case, we are all massacred
without mercy, you, myself, and perhaps your unfortunate mother as

These conversations between the father and son, often repeated, were
kept no secret from Vittoria Carafa, Elena's mother, and plunged her
in despair. The upshot of Fabio's discussions with his father was that
it did not become their honour to stand peacefully by and allow a
continuance of the rumours that ran rife in Albano. Since it was not
prudent to secure the disappearance of this young Branciforte who,
every day, appeared more insolent than ever, and in addition, dressed
now in magnificent clothes, carried his self-importance to the point
of speaking, in the public thoroughfares, either to Fabio or to Signer
de' Campireali himself, one, or possibly both of the following courses
must be adopted: the whole family must return to live in Rome, or
Elena must be sent back to the Convent of the Visitation at Castro,
where she would remain until a suitable husband had been found for

Never had Elena confessed her love to her mother; daughter and mother
loved one another tenderly, they spent their whole time together, and
yet never had a single word been, uttered on this subject which
interested them both almost equally. For the first time the almost
exclusive subject of their thoughts was expressed in words when the
mother gave her daughter to understand that there was a question of
removing the household to Rome, and perhaps of sending her back to
spend some years in the Convent at Castro.

This conversation was imprudent on the part of Vittoria Carafa, and
can be excused only by the unreasoning affection that she felt for her
daughter. Elena, desperately in love, wished to prove to her lover
that she was not ashamed of his poverty, and that her confidence in
his honour knew no bounds. "Who would believe it?" cries the
Florentine writer; "after all these daring assignations, attended with
the risk of a horrible death, given in the garden, and once or twice
even in her own room, Elena was pure! Strong in her virtue, she
proposed to her lover that she should leave the palazzo, about
midnight, by the garden, and spend the rest of the night in his little
house built amid the ruins of Alba, more than a quarter of a league
away. They disguised themselves as Franciscan friars. Elena was of
tall stature, and, thus attired, appeared a young novice of eighteen
or twenty.  What is incredible, and shews plainly enough the finger of
God, is that, in the narrow road cut through the rock, which still
passes under the wall of the Capuchin convent, Giulio and his
mistress, disguised as friars, met Signer de' Campireali and his son
Fabio, who, followed by four servants well armed, and preceded by a
page carrying a lighted torch, were returning from Castel Gandolfo, a
town situated on the shore of the lake at no great distance. To allow
the lovers to pass, the Campireali and their servants stood aside to
the right and left of the road cut in the rock, which is about eight
feet wide. How much better would it have been for Elena to be
recognised at that moment!  She would have been killed by a shot from
her father's or her brother's pistol, and her punishment would have
lasted but an instant: but heaven had ordered otherwise (_Dis aliter

"A further detail is added with regard to this strange encounter,
which Signera de' Campireali, in her extreme old age, when almost a
centenarian, used at times to relate in Rome in the presence of
persons of weight, who, themselves of a great age, repeated it to me
when my insatiable curiosity questioned them as to this matter and
many' others.

"Fabio de' Campireali, who was a young man proud of his courage and
extremely arrogant, observing that the elder of the friars gave no
greeting either to his father or to himself when passing so close to
them, exclaimed:

"'There's a conceited rascal of a friar! Heaven knows what he is going
to do outside his convent, he and his friend, at this time of night! I
don't know why I don't pull off their cowls; we should see their

"At these words, Giulio gripped his dirk under his friar's habit, and
placed himself between Fabio and Elena.  At that moment he was not
more than a foot away from Fabio; but heaven ordered otherwise, and by
a miracle calmed the fury of these two young men, who were presently
to see each other at such close quarters."

In the prosecution of Elena de' Campireali in after years, an attempt
was made to present this nocturnal expedition as a proof of her
corruption. It was the delirium of a young heart inflamed by a mad
love, but that heart was pure.


It should be explained that the Orsini, the perpetual rivals of the
Colonna, and all powerful at that time in the villages nearest to
Rome, had recently procured the passing of a sentence of death, by the
government courts, on a rich farmer named Baldassare Bandini, a native
of la Petrella. It would take too long to relate here the various
actions of which Bandini was accused: the majority would be crimes
to-day, but could not be regarded in so severe a fashion in 1559.
Bandini was imprisoned in a castle belonging to the Orsini, and
situated in the mountains in the direction of Valmontone, six leagues
from Albano. The _bargello_ of Rome, accompanied by one hundred and
fifty of his _sbirri_, spent a night on the road; he was coming to
fetch Bandini to take him to Rome, to the Tordinona prison; Bandini
had appeale'd to Rome from the sentence which condemned him to death.
But, as we have said, he was a native of la Petrella, a fortress
belonging to the Colonna; Bandini's wife appeared and publicly asked
Fabrizio Colonna, who happened to be at la Petrella:

"Are you going to allow one of your faithful servants to die?"

Colonna replied:

"May I never, please God, be wanting in the respect I owe to the
decisions of the courts of my Lord, the Pope!"

Immediately his soldiers received orders, and he sent word to all his
supporters to hold themselves in readiness.  The place of assembly was
fixed in the neighbourhood of Valmontone, a little town built on the
summit of a rock of moderate height, but with the rampart of a
continuous and almost vertical precipice of from sixty to eighty feet.

It was to this town, which belonged to the Pope, that the supporters
of the Orsini and the government _sbirri_ had succeeded in conveying
Bandini. Among the most zealous supporters of authority were numbered
Signor de' Campireali and Fabio, his son, who, moreover, were
distantly related to the Orsini. Giulio Branciforte and his father, on
the other hand, had always been attached to the Colonna,

In circumstances in which it did not suit the Colonna to act openly,
they had recourse to a very simple stratagem: the majority of the
wealthy Roman peasants, then as now, belonged to some confraternity or
other of penitents. These penitents, whenever they appear in public,
cover their heads with a piece of cloth which hides the face and is
pierced with two holes opposite the eyes. When the Colonna did not
wish to avow their part in any enterprise, they used to invite their
supporters to put on their penitential dress before coming to join

After long preparations, the removal of Bandini, which for a fortnight
had been the talk of the countryside, was fixed for a Sunday. On that
day, at two o'clock in the morning, the governor of Valmontone had the
bells rung in all the villages of the forest of la Faggiola. The
peasants were to be seen emerging in considerable numbers from each
village. (The customs of the mediaeval Republics, when one fought to
obtain a certain thing which one desired, had preserved a great
element of courage in the peasant heart; in these days, no one would

On the day in question a curious thing might have been observed: as
the little troop of armed peasants issuing from every village reached
the cover of the forest, it diminished by half; the supporters of the
Colonna made their way to the place of assembly given out by Fabrizio.
Their leaders appeared to be convinced that there would be no fighting
that day: they had received orders that morning to spread this rumour.
Fabrizio ranged the forest with the picked men of his supporters, whom
he had mounted on the young and half-broken horses of his stud. He
held a sort of review of the various detachments of peasants; but he
said nothing to any of them, as a single word might prove
compromising. Fabrizio was a large, lean man, of an incredible agility
and strength: although barely forty-five years old, his hair and
moustache were dazzlingly white, which greatly annoyed him: by this
peculiarity he could be recognised in places where he would have
preferred to pass unknown. As soon as the peasants caught sight of
him, they cried: "_Evviva Colonna_!" and put on their cloth hoods. The
Prince himself had his hood hanging over his chest, so as to be able
to draw it on as soon as he came in sight of the enemy.

Which enemy did not keep him waiting: the sun had scarcely risen when
about a thousand men, belonging to the Orsini party, and coming from
the direction of Val-montone, entered the forest and passed within
some three hundred yards of the supporters of Fabrizio Colonna, who
had made his men lie down. A few minutes after the last of the Orsini
troops forming this advance guard had filed past, the Prince ordered
his men to move; he had decided to attack Bandini's escort a quarter
of an hour after it should have entered the wood. At this point the
forest is littered with small rocks fifteen or twenty feet high; these
are waves of lava, more or less ancient, on which the chestnuts
flourish admirably, and almost entirely shut out the light of day. As
these drifts of lava, more or less eaten away by time, make the ground
very uneven, to avoid making the high road pass over a number of
unnecessary little gradients, the lava has been cut into, and very
often the road runs three or four feet below the level of the forest.

Near the place chosen by Fabrizio for the attack, was a clearing
covered with vegetation and crossed at one end by the high road.
Beyond this the road again entered the forest, which, at this point,
choked with brambles and shrubs between the trunks of the trees, was
altogether impenetrable.  It was at a point a hundred paces within the
forest and on either side of the road that Fabrizio posted his men. At
a signal from the Prince, each of the peasants arranged his hood, and
took his post with his arquebus behind a chestnut; the Prince's
soldiers placed themselves behind the trees nearest to the road. The
peasants had a definite order to fire only after the soldiers, and
these were not to open fire until the enemy should be within twenty
paces. Fabrizio made them hastily fell a score of trees, which, flung
down with their branches upon the road, fairly narrow at that point
and three feet below the level of the forest, blocked it entirely.
Captain Ranuccio, with five hundred men, followed the advance guard;
he had orders not to attack it until he should hear the first arquebus
shots fired from the barricade that blocked the road. When Fabrizio
Colonna saw his troops and the rest of his supporters properly posted,
each behind his tree, and full of determination, he set off at a
gallop with all those of his men who were mounted, among whom was to
be seen Giulio Branciforte. The Prince took a path to the right of the
high road, which led to the farther end of the clearing.

He had been gone but a few minutes when his men saw approaching in the
distance, by the road from Valmontone, a numerous troop of men on
horseback; these were the _sbirri_ and the _bargello_, escorting
Bandini, and the whole of the Orsini horsemen. In their midst was
Baldassare Bandini, surrounded by four executioners clothed in red;
they had orders to carry out the sentence of the court of first
instance and to put Bandini to death, if they saw the supporters of
the Colonna attempting to set him free.

Colonna's cavalry had barely arrived at the end of the clearing or
meadow furthest from the road, when he heard the first arquebus shots
fired by the ambuscade which he had posted on the high road by the
barricade. Immediately he ordered his horsemen to gallop, and made
them charge upon the four executioners clothed in red who surrounded

We shall not attempt to follow the narrative of this little affair,
which was over in three quarters of an hour; the Orsini party, taken
by surprise, scattered in all directions; but, in the advance guard,
the gallant Captain Ranuccio was killed, an event which had a fatal
influence on the destiny of Branciforte. Barely had the latter dealt a
few sabre thrusts, as he made his way towards the four men clothed in
red, before he found himself face to face with Fabio de' Campireali.

Mounted upon a fiery horse, and wearing a gilded _giacca_ (a coat of
mail), Fabio cried:

"Who are these wretched creatures in masks? Cut their masks off with
your sabres; this is how I do it!"

A moment later, Giulio Branciforte received a horizontal slash from
Fabio's sabre across his brow. This blow had been so skilfully aimed
that the cloth which covered his face fell to the ground, while at the
same time his eyes were blinded by the blood that flowed from his
wound, though the latter was not at all serious. Giulio reined in his
horse, to give himself time to breathe and to wipe his face. He was
anxious, at all costs, not to fight with Elena's brother; and his
horse was already four paces from Fabio when he received a furious
sabre thrust on the chest, which did not enter his body, thanks to his
_giacca_, but did take away his breath for a moment. At the same time
a voice shouted in his ear:

"_Ti conosco, porco_! I know you, you swine! So this is how you make
money to replace your tatters!"

Giulio, stung to anger, forgot his original intention and turned on

"_Ed in mal punto venisti_!" he cried.  [Footnote: "And you have come
at an unlucky moment!"]

After a succession of vigorous blows the garments that covered their
coats of mail fell off in tatters. Fabio's coat of mail was gilded and
splendid, Giulio's of the commonest kind.

"In what gutter did you pick up your _giacca_?" Fabio cried to him.

At that moment, Giulio found the opportunity which he had been seeking
for the last half minute: Fabio's superb coat of mail did not fit
closely enough round his throat, and Giulio aimed at his throat, which
was bare in one place, a thrust that went home. Giulio's sword ran six
inches into Fabio's breast, causing a huge jet of blood to spout

"Take that for your insolence!" cried Giulio.

And he galloped towards the men dressed in red, two of whom were still
in the saddle a hundred yards away.  As he approached them, a third
fell; but, just as Giulio came up to the fourth executioner, the
latter, seeing himself surrounded by more than ten horsemen, fired a
pistol point blank at the unfortunate Baldassare Bandini, who fell.

"Now, gentlemen, there is nothing more for us to do here!" cried
Branciforte. "Let us sabre these rascals of _sbirri_ who are making
off everywhere,"

The others all followed him.

When, half an hour later, Giulio rejoined Fabrizio Colonna, that
nobleman addressed him for the first time in his life. Giulio found
him mad with rage; he had expected to see him in a transport of joy,
in view of the victory, which was complete and due entirely to his
good arrangement; for the Orsini had nearly three thousand men, and
Fabrizio, on this occasion, had not been able to muster more than
fifteen hundred.

"We have lost our gallant friend Ranuccio!" the Prince exclaimed,
addressing Giulio. "I have just touched his body myself; it is cold
already. Poor Baldassare Bandini is mortally wounded. So, properly
speaking, we have not been successful. But the ghost of the gallant
Captain Ranuccio will appear before Pluto with a good escort. I have
given orders to hang all these rascally prisoners from the branches of
the trees. Do your duty, gentlemen," he cried, raising his voice.

And he went off again at a gallop to the place where the advance guard
had been engaged. Giulio had been more or less second in command of
Ranuccio's company; he followed the Prince, who, on coming up to the
body of that brave soldier, which lay surrounded by more than fifty of
the enemy's dead, dismounted a second time to take Ranuccio's hand.
Giulio followed his example, with tears in his eyes.

"You are very young," the Prince said to him, "but I see you covered
with blood, and your father was a brave man, who received more than a
score of wounds in the service of the Colonna. Take command of what is
left of Ranuccio's company, and carry his body to our church of la
Petrella; remember that you may perhaps be attacked on the way."

Giulio was not attacked, but he killed with a stroke of his sword one
of his own men, who said that he was too young to be in command. This
rash act proved successful, because Giulio was still covered with
Fabio's blood.  All along the road, he found the trees loaded with men
who were being hanged. This hideous spectacle, combined with the death
of Ranuccio, and more especially with that of Fabio, drove him almost
mad. His only hope was that the name of Fabio's conqueror would remain

We pass over the military details. Three days after the battle, he was
able to return to spend a few hours at Al-bano; he told his friends
there that a violent fever had detained him in Rome, where he had been
obliged to keep his bed all the week.

But he was treated everywhere with a marked respect; the most
important persons of the town made haste to greet him; some rash
fellows even went so far as to call him _Signor Capitano_. He had
passed several times in front of the palazzo Campireali, which he
found entirely shut up, and, as the newly made Captain was extremely
shy when it came to asking certain questions, it was not until the
middle of the day that he managed to take it upon himself to say to
Scotti, an old man who had always treated him kindly:

"But where are the Campireali? I see their palazzo shut up."

"My friend," replied Scotti with a sudden grimness, "that is a name
which you must never utter. Your friends are quite convinced that it
was he who attacked you, and they will say so everywhere; but, after
all, he was the chief obstacle to your marriage; after all, his death
leaves his sister immensely rich, and she is in love with you.  It may
even be added, and indiscretion becomes a virtue at this moment, it
may even be added that she loves you to the extent of going to pay you
a visit at night in your little house at Alba. So it may be said, in
your interest, that you were husband and wife before the fatal combat
at the Ciampi." (This was the name given in the district to the fight
which we have described.)

The old man broke off, because he saw that Giulio was in tears.

"Let us go up to the inn," said Giulio.  Scotti followed him; they
were given a room the door of which they locked, and Giulio asked the
old man's leave to tell him everything that had happened in the last
week.  This long story finished:

"I can see quite well from your tears," said the old man, "that
nothing in your conduct was premeditated; but Fabio's death is none
the less a very terrible event for you.  It is absolutely essential
that Elena tells her mother that you have been her husband for some

Giulio made no reply; this the old man ascribed to a praiseworthy
discretion. Absorbed in deep meditation, Giulio was asking himself
whether Elena, enraged by the death of a brother, would do justice to
his delicacy; he repented of what had happened before. Afterwards, at
his request, the old man told him frankly of everything that had
occurred in Albano on the day of the fight.  Fabio having been killed
about half past six in the morning, more than six leagues from Albano,
incredible as it might sound, by nine o'clock people had begun to
speak of his death. Towards midday they had seen old Cam-pireali, in
floods of tears and supported by his servants, making his way to the
Capuchin convent. Shortly afterwards, three of those good fathers,
mounted on the best horses of the Campireali stable, and followed by a
number of servants, had taken the road to the village of the Ciampi,
in the neighbourhood of which the battle had been fought. Old
Campireali was absolutely determined to accompany them; but he had
been dissuaded, on the grounds that Fabrizio Colonna was furious (no
one knew why) and might easily do him' an ill turn should he be taken

That evening, towards midnight, the forest of la Fag-giola had seemed
to be on fire: this was all the monks and all the poor of Albano who,
each carrying a huge lighted candle, went out to meet the body of
young Fabio.

"I shall not conceal from you," the old man went on, lowering his
voice as though he had been afraid of being overheard, "that the road
which leads to Valmontone and to the Ciampi...."

"Well?" said Giulio.

"Well, that road passes by your house, and they say that when Fabio's
body reached that point, the blood gushed out from a horrible wound
which he had in his throat."

"How terrible!" cried Giulio, springing to his feet.

"Calm yourself, my friend," said the old man, "you can see for
yourself that you must know all. And now I may tell you that your
presence here, to-day, has seemed a trifle premature. If you should do
me the honour to consult me, I should add, Captain, that it is not
advisable for you to appear in Albano for another month. I have no
need to warn you that it would not be prudent to shew yourself in
Rome. We do not yet know what course the Holy Father is going to adopt
towards the Colonna; it is thought that he will accept the statement
of Fabrizio, who professes that he heard of the fight at the Ciampi
only from common rumour; but the Governor of Rome, who is out and out
Orsini, is furious and would be only too glad to have one of
Fabrizio's gallant soldiers hanged, nor would Fabrizio himself have
any reasonable grounds for complaint, since he swears that he took no
part in the fight. I shall go farther, and, although you have not
asked me for it, take the liberty of giving you a piece of military
advice: you are popular in Albano, otherwise you would not be able to
stay here in safety. Bear in mind that you have been walking about the
town for some hours, that one of the Orsini's supporters might imagine
that you were defying him, or at least think it an easy opportunity of
winning a fine reward. Old Campireali has repeated a thousand times
that he will give his richest estate to whoever kills you. You ought
to have brought down to Albano some of the soldiers you have in your

"I have no soldiers in my house."

"In that case, Captain, you are mad. This inn has a garden, we are
going to leave by the garden, and escape through the vineyards. I
shall accompany you; I am an old man, and unarmed; but if we meet any
ill-disposed persons, I shall talk to them, and at least be able to
let you gain time."

Giulio was broken-hearted. Dare we mention the nature of his madness?
As soon as he had learned that the palazzo Campireali was shut up and
that its occupants had left for Rome, he had formed the plan of going
to revisit that garden where so often he had conversed with Elena. He
even hoped to see once again her bedroom, where he had been received
when her mother was away. He felt the need of reassuring himself
against her anger, by the sight of the places in which she had been so
loving to him.

Branciforte and the chivalrous old man met with no misadventure as
they followed the little paths that run through the vineyards and
climb towards the lake.

Giulio made his companion tell him once more the details of young
Fabio's burial. The body of that gallant young man, escorted by a
crowd of priests, had been taken to Rome, and buried in the chapel of
his family, in the Convent of Sant' Onofrio, on the summit of the
Janiculum.  It had been observed, as something extremely unusual,
that, on the eve of the ceremony, Elena had been taken back by her
father to the Convent of the Visitation, at Castro; this had confirmed
the common report which insisted that she was secretly married to the
soldier of fortune who had had the misfortune to kill her brother.

On nearing his own house, Giulio found the corporal of his company and
four of his men; they told him that their old captain used never to
leave the forest without having some of his men at hand. The Prince
had said many times that, whenever anyone wished to have himself
killed by his own rashness, he must first resign his commission, so as
not to cast upon him the responsibility for avenging another death.

Giulio Branciforte realised the soundness of these ideas, of which
until that moment he had been completely ignorant.  He had supposed,
as young nations suppose, that war consisted only in fighting with
personal courage. He at once complied with the Prince's wishes, only
giving himself time to embrace the wise old man who had been so
chivalrous as to accompany him to his house.

But, not many days later, Giulio, half mad with melancholy, returned
to visit the palazzo Campireali. As night was falling, he and three of
his men, disguised as Neapolitan merchants, made their way into
Albano. He presented himself alone at the house of Scotti; he learned
that Elena was still confined in the convent of Castro.  Her father,
who believed her to be married to the man whom he called his son's
murderer, had sworn never to set eyes on her again. He had not seen
her even when he was taking her to the convent. Her mother's affection
seemed, on the contrary, to have increased, and she often left Rome to
go and spend a day or two with her daughter.


"If I do not justify myself to Elena," Giulio told himself as he made
his way back, by night, to the quarters which his company were
occupying in the forest, "she will come to regard me as a murderer.
Heaven knows what stories they have been telling her about this fatal

He went to receive his orders from the Prince in his stronghold of la
Petrella, and asked leave to go to Castro.  Fabrizio Colonna frowned:

"The matter of the little disturbance is not yet settled with His
Holiness. You must understand that I have told the truth, namely that
I knew nothing whatever of that encounter, of which I was not even
informed until the following day, here, in my castle of la Petrella. I
have every reason to believe that His Holiness will finally accept
this sincere statement. But the Orsini are powerful, and everybody is
saying that you distinguished yourself in the skirmish. The Orsini go
so far as to pretend that a number of prisoners were hanged from the
branches of the trees. You know how little truth there is in that; but
we may expect reprisals."

The profound astonishment revealed in the young captain's artless gaze
amused the Prince: he decided, however, seeing such a display of
innocence, that it would be as well to speak more plainly.

"I see in you," he went on, "that absolute bravery which has made the
name of Branciforte famous throughout Italy. I hope that you will shew
that loyalty towards my house which made your father so dear to me,
and which I have sought to reward in you. The standing order among my
troops is this: never tell the truth about anything that relates to me
or to my men. If, at the moment when you are obliged to speak, you see
no advantage in any particular falsehood, lie at random, and avoid as
you would avoid a mortal sin ever uttering a word of the truth.  You
can understand that, taken in conjunction with other information, it
may put people on the track of my plans.  I know, as it happens, that
you have a little love affair in the convent at Castro; you may go and
waste a fortnight in that town, where the Orsini are certain to have
friends, and even agents. Call on my steward, who will pay you two
hundred sequins. The affection that I had for your father," the Prince
added with a smile, "prompts me to give you a few instructions as to
the best way of carrying out this amorous and military undertaking.
You and three of your men will be disguised as merchants; you will not
forget to lose your temper with one of your companions, who will make
a show of being always drunk, and will make plenty of friends for
himself by standing wine to all the vagabonds of Castro.... Apart from
that," the Prince went on, with a change of tone, "if you are taken by
the Orsini and put to death, never confess your true name, still less
that you belong to me. I have no need to advise you to make a circuit
of all the small towns, and always to enter by the gate farthest from
the road by which you arrive."

Giulio's heart was melted by this fatherly advice, coming from a man
who was ordinarily so solemn. At first the Prince smiled at the tears
which he saw gathering in the young man's eyes; then his own voice
altered. He slipped off one of the many rings which he wore on his
fingers; as he took it, Giulio kissed that hand, famous for so many
great deeds.

"My father would never have told me so much," the young man cried

Two days later, shortly before dawn, he passed within the walls of the
small town of Castro; five soldiers followed him, disguised like
himself: two of them kept to themselves and appeared not to know
either him or the other three. Even before entering the town, Giulio
caught sight of the Convent of the Visitation, a vast building
surrounded by dark walls, and not unlike a fortress. He hastened to
the church, which was magnificent. The nuns, all of them noble and
mostly belonging to wealthy families, competed among themselves in
their pride for the privilege of enriching this church, the only part
of the convent that was exposed to the public gaze. It had become a
custom that whichever of these ladies the Pope appointed Abbess, from
a list of three names presented to him by the Cardinal Protector of
the Order of the Visitation, made a considerable offering, intended to
perpetuate her name. Any whose offering was inferior to that of the
previous Abbess was despised, and her family as well.

Giulio made his way trembling through this magnificent building,
resplendent with marble and gilding. As a matter of fact, he paid
little attention to the marble or the gilding; he felt that Elena's
eyes were upon him. The high altar, he was told, had cost more than
eight hundred thousand francs; but his gaze, scorning the treasures of
the high altar, was directed at a gilded grating, nearly forty feet
high, and divided into three sections by a pair of marble pillars.
This grating, whose vast mass made it appear almost terrifying, rose
behind the high altar, and separated the nuns' choir from the church
itself, which was open to all the faithful.

Giulio told himself that behind this gilded grating were assembled,
during the services, the nuns and their boarders.  To this inner
church might repair, at any hour of the day, a nun or a boarder who
felt a desire to pray; it was upon this circumstance, known to the
world at large, that the poor lover's hopes were based.

It was true that an immense black curtain screened the inner side of
the grating; but "that curtain," thought Giulio, "cannot entirely
block the view for the boarders when they look into the public church,
since I, who am unable to approach within a certain distance of it,
can see quite well, through the curtain, the windows that light the
choir, and can even make out the smallest architectural details." Each
bar of this magnificent grating was armed with a strong spike, pointed
towards the worshippers.

Giulio chose a place where he would be clearly visible, opposite the
left hand side of the grating, in the most brightly lighted part of
the church; there he spent his time hearing masses. As he saw no one
near him but peasants, he had hopes of being observed, even through
the black curtain which draped the inside of the grating.  For the
first time in his life, this simple young man sought to create an
effect; he dressed himself with care; he scattered alms broadcast as
he entered and left the church.  His men and himself paid endless
attentions to all the workmen and small tradesmen who had any dealings
with the convent. It was not, however, until the third day that he at
last had hopes of conveying a letter to Elena. By his orders, his men
closely followed the two lay sisters whose duty it was to purchase
some of the provisions for the convent; one of them was on friendly
terms with a small merchant. One of Giulio's soldiers, who had been in
religion, made friends with this merchant, and promised him a sequin
for each letter that should be conveyed to the boarder Elena de'

"What!" said the merchant at the first overture that was made to him
in the matter, "a letter to the _brigand's wife_!"

This name was already in common use in Castro, and Elena had not been
there a fortnight: so swiftly does anything that seizes hold of the
imagination circulate among this people, passionately interested in
all exact details!

The merchant added:

"At least, she is married! But how many of our ladies have not that
excuse, and yet receive a great deal more than letters from outside."

In this first letter, Giulio related with endless details everything
that had occurred on the fatal day marked by the death of Fabio: "Do
you hate me?" he said in conclusion.

Elena replied in a few lines that, without hating anyone, she was
going to employ the rest of her life in trying to forget the man by
whose hand her brother had perished.

Giulio made haste to reply; after inveighing against his fate, in a
style imitated from Plato and in fashion at the time:

"So you wish," he went on, "to forget the Word of God handed down to
us in the Holy Scriptures? God says: woman shall leave her family and
her parents to follow her husband. Dare you pretend that you are not
my wife?  Remember the night of Saint Peter's day. As dawn was
beginning to appear behind Monte Cavi, you flung yourself at my feet;
I was good enough to grant you a respite; you were mine, had I wished
to take you; you could not resist the love which you then felt for me.
Suddenly it occurred to me that, as I had told you many times that I
had long since offered you the sacrifice of my life and of all that I
might hold most dear in the world, you were in a position to reply,
although you never did, that all these sacrifices, not being marked by
any outward action, might well be no more than imaginary. An idea,
hard to bear, but fundamentally just, dawned upon me. I reflected that
it was not for nothing that chance was presenting me with the
opportunity of sacrificing in your interest the greatest happiness
that I could ever have dreamed of. You were already in my arms, and
defenceless, remember; your own lips dared not refuse. At that moment
the morning Angélus rang from the convent of Monte Cavi, and, by a
miracle, the sound reached our ears. You said to me: 'Make this
sacrifice to the Holy Madonna, the mother of all purity.' I had
already, a moment earlier, had the idea of this supreme sacrifice, the
only real sacrifice that I should ever have an opportunity of making
for you. I felt it strange that the same idea should have occurred to
you. The distant sound of that Angelus touched me, I confess; I
granted your request.  The sacrifice was not entirely for you; I
believed that I was placing our future union under the protection of
the Madonna. At that time I supposed that the objections would come
not from you, faithless one, but from your rich and noble family. Had
there not been some supernatural intervention, how could that Angelus
have reached our ears from so great a distance, carried over the
tree-tops of half the forest, stirred at that moment by the morning
breeze? Then, you remember, you threw yourself at my feet; I rose, I
took from my bosom the cross which I carry there, and you swore upon
that cross, which is here before me, and by your own eternal
damnation, that in whatever place you might at any time be, whatever
might at any time happen, as soon as I should give you the order, you
would place yourself entirely at my disposal, as you were at the
moment when the Angelus from Monte Cavi travelled so far to strike
your ear. We then repeated devoutly two _Hail Marys_ and two _Our
Fathers_. Very well, by the love which you then felt for me, or else,
if you have forgotten it, as I fear, by your eternal damnation, I
order you to receive me to-night, in your room or in the garden of the
Convent of the Visitation."

The Italian author carefully reports many long letters written by
Giulio Branciforte after this one; but he gives only extracts from the
replies of Elena de' Campireali.  After the lapse of two hundred and
seventy-eight years, we are so remote from the sentiments of love and
religion which fill these letters, that I have been afraid of their
seeming wearisome.

It appears from these letters that Elena finally obeyed the order
contained in this one, of which we have given an abridged translation.
Giulio found a way of penetrating into the convent; we may conclude
from a certain passage that he disguised himself as a woman. Elena
received him, but only at the grating of a window on the ground floor
looking out to the garden. To his unspeakable grief, Giulio found that
this girl, so tender and indeed so passionate before, had become like
a stranger to him; she treated him almost with civility. In admitting
him to the garden, she had yielded almost exclusively to the
obligation of her oath. Their meeting was brief: after a few moments,
Giulio's pride, excited a little, perhaps, by the events that had
occurred in the last fortnight, succeeded in prevailing over his
intense grief.

"I see before me now," he said to himself, "only the tomb of that
Elena who, at Albano, seemed to have given herself to me for life."

Immediately, the important thing for Giulio was to conceal the tears
with which the polite turns of speech that Elena adopted in addressing
him bathed his cheeks. When she had finished speaking and justifying a
change that was so natural, she said, after the death of a brother,
Giulio said to her, speaking very slowly:

"You are not abiding by your oath, you do not receive me in a garden,
you are not on your knees before me, as you were for a minute after we
had heard the Angelus from Monte Cavi. Forget your oath if you can; as
for me, I forget nothing; may God help you!"

So saying, he left the barred window before which he might still have
remained for nearly an hour. Who would have said, a moment earlier,
that he would of his own free will cut short this meeting for which he
had so longed!  This sacrifice rent his heart; but he felt that he
might well deserve Elena's scorn if he replied to her _civilities_
otherwise than by abandoning her to her own remorse.

Before dawn, he left the convent. At once he mounted his horse, giving
orders to his men to wait for him at Castro for a full week, then to
return to the forest. At first he rode towards Rome.

"What! I am going away from her!" he said to himself at every yard:
"What! We have become strangers to one another! Oh, Fabio! How amply
you are avenged!"

The sight of the men whom he passed on the road increased his anger;
he urged his horse across country and made his way towards the
deserted and uncultivated tract by the seashore. When he was no longer
disturbed by meeting these placid peasants whose lot he envied, he
drew breath; the aspect of this wild spot was in keeping with his
despair and lessened his rage; then he was able to give himself up to
the consideration of his sad fate.

"At my age," he said to himself, "I have one resource left: to love
some other woman!"

At this melancholy thought, he felt his despair increase twofold; he
saw only too clearly that there was for him but one woman in the
world. He pictured to himself the torment that he would suffer should
he venture to utter the word love to any woman but Elena: the idea
tore his heart.

He was seized with a fit of bitter laughter.  "Here I am," he thought,
"exactly like those heroes in Ariosto who travel alone through desert
lands, when they have to forget that they have found their mistress in
the arms of some other knight.... And yet she is not so much to
blame," he told himself, bursting into tears after this fit of wild
laughter; "her faithlessness does not reach the point of loving
another. That keen, pure spirit has allowed herself to be led astray
by the dreadful accounts that have been given her of me; no doubt I
have been represented to her as having armed myself for that fatal ex^
pedition only in the secret hope of finding an opportunity of killing
her brother. They will have gone farther still: they will have
credited me with the sordid calculation that once her brother was dead
she would become the sole heiress of an immense property.... And I
have been fool enough to leave her for a whole fortnight a prey to the
wiles of my enemies! It must be admitted that if I am most
unfortunate, heaven has also furnished me with singularly little sense
with which to conduct my life! I am a most miserable, most
contemptible creature! My life has been of use to no one, and to
myself least of all."

At that moment, young Branciforte had an inspiration very rare in that
age: his horse was going along the water's edge, and every now and
then was being splashed by the waves; he had the idea of urging the
animal into the sea, and so ending the dreadful fate that overhung
him. What was he to do henceforward, after the one person in the world
who had ever made him feel the existence of happiness had abandoned
him? Then suddenly another idea stopped him short.

"What are the pains that I am enduring," he said to himself, "compared
with those which I shall suffer in a moment, once this wretched life
is ended? Elena will no longer be simply indifferent to me, as she is
in reality; I shall see her in the arms of a rival, and that rival
will be some young Roman noble, rich and _highly esteemed_; for, to
rend my heart, the devils will seek out the most cruel visions, as is
their duty. So I shall never succeed in finding forgetfulness of
Elena, even in death; far from it, my passion for her will be doubled,
because that is the surest means which the Eternal Power can find of
punishing me for the fearful sin which I shall have committed."

To banish the temptation finally, Giulio began devoutly reciting the
_Hail Mary_. It was on hearing the morning Angelus, the prayer sacred
to the Madonna, that he had been carried away before, and led to a
generous action which he now regarded as the greatest mistake of his
life.  But, from a sense of reverence, he did not venture to go
farther and express the whole of the idea that had seized hold of his

"If, by the Madonna's inspiration, I have fallen into a fatal error,
ought she not, in her infinite justice, to bring about some
circumstance which will restore my happiness?"

This idea of the justice of the Madonna gradually banished his
despair. He raised his head, and saw facing him, beyond Albano and the
forest, that Monte Cavi, covered in its dusky greenery, and the holy
convent whose morning Angelus had led him into what he now called his
appalling stupidity. The unexpected sight of that holy place comforted

"No!" he exclaimed; "it is impossible that the Madonna should abandon
me. If Elena had been my wife, as her love allowed and my dignity as a
man required, the account given to her of her brother's death would
have found in her heart the memory of the bond that attached her to
me. She would have told herself that she belonged to me long before
the fatal chance which, on a field of battle, brought me face to face
with Fabio. He was two years older than I; he was more skilled in
arms, bolder in every way, stronger. A thousand reasons would have
occurred to my wife to prove that it was not I that had sought that
combat. She would have remembered that I had never shewn the slightest
feeling of hatred towards her brother, even when he fired his arquebus
at me. I can recall that at our first meeting, after my return from
Rome, I said to her: 'What would you have? Honour required it; I
cannot blame a brother!'"

His hope restored by his devotion to the Madonna, Giulio urged on his
horse and in a few hours arrived at his company's cantonment. He found
his men standing to arms: they were about to take the road that runs
from Naples to Rome past Monte Cassino. The young captain changed
horses, and marched with his men. There was no fighting that day.
Giulio never asked himself why they were on the march; it mattered
little to him. The moment that he found himself at the head of his
soldiers, a new vision of his destiny appeared to him.

"I am simply and solely a fool," he said to himself; "I did wrong to
leave Castro; Elena is probably less to blame than I in my anger
imagined. No, she cannot have ceased to belong to me, that pure and
simple heart, in which I have beheld the first dawn of love! She was
steeped in so sincere a passion for me! Has she not offered, ten times
and more, to fly with me, poor as I am, and to have ourselves married
by one of the friars of Monte Cavi? At Castro I ought, first of all,
to have obtained a second assignation, and made her listen to reason.
Really, passion makes me as distracted as a child! God!  Why have I
not a friend to whom I can turn for advice!  The same course of action
seems to me execrable, and, the next minute, excellent."

On the evening of that day, as they left the high road to return to
the forest, Giulio rode up to the Prince and asked whether he might
stay for a few days longer at the place he knew of.

"You can go to the devil!" cried Fabrizio, "do you think this is the
time to bother me with your childish nonsense?"

An hour later, Giulio set off again for Castro. He found his men
there, but he did not know how to write to Elena, after the summary
fashion in which he had left her. His first letter contained only
these words: "May I be received to-morrow evening?"

Similarly, "_You may come_," was all the answer he received.

After Giulio's departure, Elena had imagined herself to be abandoned
for ever. Then she had felt the whole force of the argument urged by
that poor young man who was so unhappy: she was his wife before he had
had the misfortune to encounter her brother on a field of battle.

On this occasion, Giulio was by no means received with the polite
turns of speech which had struck him as so cruel at their former
meeting. It was true that Elena appeared to him only behind the
shelter of her barred window; but she was trembling, and as Giulio was
extremely reserved and his language [Footnote: In Italy the fashion of
addressing a person as _tu_, _voi_ or _Lei_ marks the degree of
intimacy. The word _tu_, a survival from the Latin, has a more
restricted application than in France.] almost that which he would
have used to address a stranger, it was Elena's turn to feel all the
cruelty that exists in the almost official tone when it follows the
most tender intimacy. Giulio, who was especially afraid of having his
soul torn asunder by some cold speech proceeding from Elena's heart,
had adopted a lawyer's tone to prove that Elena was his wife long
before the fatal combat at the Ciampi. Elena let him speak, because
she was afraid of being overcome by tears if she answered him
otherwise than with a few brief words. Finally, seeing that she was on
the point of betraying herself, she bade her lover come again the next
day. Giulio, who was reasoning like a lover, left the garden deep in
thought; he could not bring his uncertainty to the point of deciding
whether he had been well or ill received; and as military ideas,
inspired by conversation with his comrades, were beginning to take
root in his brain:

"One day," he said to himself, "I shall perhaps have to come and carry
off Elena."

And he began to consider the ways of entering the garden by force. As
the convent was very rich and offered grand opportunities of pillage,
it had in its pay a great number of menservants, mostly old soldiers;
they were housed in a sort of barrack the barred windows of which
overlooked the narrow passage which, from the outer gate of the
convent, carved out of a sombre wall more than eighty feet high, led
to the inner gate guarded by the portress.  On the left of this narrow
passage rose the barrack, on the right the wall of the garden, thirty
feet high. The front of the convent, on the public square, was a
massive wall black with age, and offered no openings save the outer
gate and one small window through which the soldiers could see what
went on outside. One may imagine the grim effect of this great black
wall pierced only by a gate strengthened with broad iron bands
fastened to it by enormous nails, and a single small window four feet
high and eighteen inches broad.

We shall not attempt to follow the author of the original manuscript
in his long account of the successive assignations which Giulio
obtained from Elena. The tone mutually adopted by the lovers had once
more become entirely intimate, as in the past in the garden at Albano;
only Elena had never consented to come down to the garden.  One night
Giulio found her profoundly thoughtful: her mother had come from Rome
to see her, and was staying for some days in the convent. This mother
was so loving, she had always shewn such delicacy in her treatment of
what she supposed to be her daughter's affections, that the latter
felt a profound remorse at being obliged to deceive her; for, after
all, would she ever dare to tell her that she was receiving the man
who had robbed her of her son? Elena ended by admitting frankly to
Giulio that if this mother who was so good to her should question her
in a certain way, she would never have the strength to answer her with
lies. Giulio was fully aware of the danger of his position; his fate
depended on the chance which might dictate certain words to Signora
de' Cam-pireali.  On the following night he said to her, with a
resolute air:

"To-morrow I shall come earlier, I shall detach one of the bars of
this grating, you will come down to the garden, I shall take you to a
church in the town, where a priest who is devoted to me will marry us.
Before daylight you will be back in this garden. Once you are my wife,
I shall have nothing more to fear, and if your mother insists upon it,
as an expiation of the fearful misfortune which we all equally
deplore, I will consent to anything, were it even that I must spend
some months without seeing you."

As Elena appeared terrified by this proposal, Giulio added:

"The Prince summons me back to his side; honour and all sorts of
reasons oblige me to go. My proposal is the only one that can assure
our future happiness; if you do not agree to it, let us separate for
ever, here, at this moment. I shall leave you with a sense of remorse
at my rashness. _I trusted in your word of honour_, you are unfaithful
to the most sacred of oaths, and I hope that in the course of time the
contempt which your fickleness rightly inspires in me may cure me of
this love which has been for too long the bane of my life."

Elena burst into tears:

"Great God!" she exclaimed, weeping, "how terrible for my mother!"

In the end, she agreed to the proposal that had been made to her.

"But," she added, "some one may see us, going or coming; think of the
scandal that would arise, consider the fearful position in which my
mother would find herself placed; let us wait until she goes, which
will be in a few days."

"You have succeeded in making me doubt what was to me the holiest, the
most sacred thing in the world: my confidence in your word. To-morrow
night we will be married, or else we see one another now for the last
time, on this side of the grave."

Poor Elena could make no answer save by her tears, her heart was torn
especially by the cruel and decided tone which Giulio had adopted. Had
she then really merited his contempt? Could this be that same lover
who was formerly so docile and so tender? At length she agreed to what
had been ordered of her. Giulio withdrew. From that moment, Elena
awaited the coming of the following night in an alternation of the
most rending anxieties. Had she been prepared for certain death, her
anguish would have been less keen; she could have found some
encouragement in the thought of Giulio's love and of her mother's
tender affection. The rest of that night passed in the most agonising
changes of mind. There were moments when she decided to tell her
mother all. Next day, she was so pale when she appeared in her
mother's presence, that the latter, forgetting all her wise
resolutions, flung herself upon her daughter's bosom, crying:

"What is happening? Great God! Tell me what you have done, or what you
are going to do? If you were to take a dagger and thrust it into my
heart, you would hurt me less than by this cruel silence which I see
you adopt with me."

Her mother's intense affection was so evident to Elena, she saw so
clearly that her mother, instead of exaggerating her feelings, was
seeking to moderate her expression of them, that in the end she was
overcome; she fell at her feet. Her mother, who was trying to find out
what the fatal secret might be, having exclaimed that Elena was
shunning her society, Elena replied that, next day and every day after
that, she would spend all her time with her, but she besought her not
to question her further.

This indiscreet utterance was speedily followed by a full confession.
Signora de' Campireali was horrified to hear that her son's murderer
was so close at hand. But this grief was followed by an outburst of
keen and pure joy. Who could describe her delight when she learned
that her daughter had never failed in her duties?

Immediately all the plans of this prudent mother were completely
changed; she felt herself entitled to employ a stratagem to outwit a
man who was nothing to her.  Elena's heart was torn by the most cruel
impulses of passion: the sincerity of her confession could not have
been greater; this tormented soul was in need of relief. Signora de'
Campireali, who had begun to think that anything was permissible,
devised a chain of reasoning too long to be reported here. She had no
difficulty in proving to her unhappy daughter that, instead of a
clandestine marriage, which always leaves a stain upon a woman's
reputation, she would obtain a public and perfectly honourable
marriage, if she would only agree to postpone for a week the act of
obedience which she owed to so high-minded a lover.

Signora de' Campireali herself would return to Rome; she would explain
to her husband that, long before the fatal combat at the Ciampi, Elcna
had been married to Giulio.  The ceremony had been performed on that
very night when, disguised in a religious habit, she had met her
father and brother by the shore of the lake, on the road cut through
the rock which runs by the walls of the Capuchin convent. The mother
took good care not to leave her daughter all that day, and finally,
towards evening, Elena wrote her lover an ingenuous and, to our ideas,
extremely touching letter, in which she told him of the inward
struggle that had torn her heart. She ended by begging him on her
knees for a week's respite: "As I write you," she added, "this letter
for which a messenger of my mother's is waiting, it seems to me that I
was utterly wrong to tell her everything. I think I see you angry,
your eyes look at me with hatred; my heart is torn by the most cruel
remorse. You will say that I have a very weak, very cowardly, very
contemptible nature; I admit it, my dear angel. But try to imagine the
scene: my mother, in floods of tears, was almost at my feet. Then it
became impossible for me not to tell her that a certain reason
prevented me from consenting to do what she asked; and, once I had
been so weak as to utter those rash words, I do not know what change
occurred in me, but it became almost impossible for me not to tell her
everything that had passed between us. So far as I can remember, I
felt that my heart, robbed of all its strength, stood in need of
advice.  This I hoped to find in a mother's words.... I forgot, my
friend, that that beloved mother had an interest opposed to yours. I
forgot my first duty, which is to obey you, and apparently I am
incapable of feeling true love, which is said to withstand every
trial. Despise me, my Giulio; but, in God's name, do not cease to love
me. Carry me off if you wish, but do me the justice to admit that, if
my mother had not happened to be here in the convent, the most
horrible dangers, shame itself, nothing in the world could have
prevented me from obeying your orders. But that mother is so good; so
clever; so generous; remember what I told you at the time; when my
father burst into my room, she rescued your letters which I had no
means of hiding: then, when the danger was over, she gave them back to
me without wishing to read them, and without a single word of
reproach! In the same way, all my life long, she has been to me, as
she was at that moment, supreme.  You can see whether I ought to love
her, and yet, when I write to you (it is a horrible thing to say) I
feel that I hate her. She has announced that on account of the heat
she wishes to spend the night in a tent in the garden; I hear the
tapping of the mallets, they are putting up the tent now; impossible
for us to meet to-night. I am even afraid that the boarders' dormitory
may be locked, as well as the two doors of the spiral staircase, a
thing which is never done. These precautions would make it impossible
for me to come down to the garden, even if I thought that it would
have any effect in calming your anger. Oh, how I would give myself to
you at this moment, if I had the means! How I should run to that
church where they are going to marry us!"

This letter concludes with a couple of pages of mad sentences, in
which I notice certain impassioned arguments which seem to be imitated
from the philosophy of Plato. I have suppressed several elegances of
this sort in the letter I have just translated.

Giulio Branciforte was amazed when he received it about an hour before
the evening Angelus; he had just completed his arrangements with the
priest. He was beside himself with rage.

"She has no need to advise me to carry her off, the weak, cowardly

And he set off at once for the forest of la Faggiola.

Meanwhile, Signora de' Campireali's position was as follows: her
husband lay on his deathbed, the impossibility of avenging himself on
Branciforte was carrying him slowly to the grave. In vain had he made
his agents offer considerable sums to Roman _bravi_; none of these was
prepared to attack one of the _caporali_, as they were called, of
Prince Colonna; they were too certain of being exterminated,
themselves and their families. It was not a year since an entire
village had been burned to punish the death of one of Colonna's
soldiers, and all those of the inhabitants, men and women alike, who
tried to flee into the country, had their hands and feet tied together
with ropes, and were then tossed into the blazing houses.

Signora de' Campireali had large estates in the Kingdom of Naples; her
husband had ordered her to send there for assassins, but she had made
only a show of obedience: she imagined her daughter to be irrevocably
bound to Giulio Branciforte. Acting on this supposition, she thought
that Giulio should go and serve for a campaign or two in the Spanish
armies, which were then making war on the rebels in Flanders. If he
survived, that would, she thought, be a sign that God did not
disapprove of a necessary marriage; in that case she would give her
daughter the estates which she owned in the Kingdom of Naples; Giulio
Branciforte would take the name of one of these estates, and would go
with his wife to spend a few years in Spain. After all these trials
perhaps she would have the heart to see him. But the whole aspect of
things had been changed by her daughter's confession: the marriage was
no longer a necessity: far from it, and while Elena was writing her
lover the letter which we have translated, Signora de' Campireali
wrote to Pescara and Chieti, ordering her farmers to send to her at
Castro a party of trustworthy men capable of a bold stroke. She did
not conceal from them that it was a question of avenging the death of
Fabio, their young master. The courier who conveyed these letters set
off before the end of the day.


But, two days later, Giulio was back in Castro, bringing with him
eight of his men who had volunteered to follow him and expose
themselves to the anger of the Prince, who had sometimes punished with
death enterprises of the sort on which they were engaging.  Giulio had
five men at Castro, he arrived with eight more; and yet fourteen
soldiers, however brave, seemed to him insufficient for his task, for
the convent was like a fortress.

One had first to pass, by force or by guile, through the outer gate of
the convent; then to proceed along a passage more than fifty yards in
length. On the left, as has been said, rose the barred windows of a
sort of barrack in which the nuns had placed thirty or forty
menservants, old soldiers.  From these barred windows a hot fire would
be opened as soon as the alarm should be given.

The reigning Abbess, who had a head on her shoulders, was afraid of
the exploits of the Orsini chiefs, Prince Colonna, Marco Sciarra, and
all the others that held sway in the neighbourhood. How was one to
hold out against eight hundred determined men, suddenly occupying a
little town like Castro and imagining the convent to be full of gold?

As a rule, the Visitation of Castro had fifteen or twenty _bravi_ in
the barrack to the left of the passage which led to the inner gate of
the convent; on the right of this passage was a great wall, impossible
to break through; at the end of the passage one came upon an iron gate
opening upon a pillared hall; beyond this hall was the great courtyard
of the convent. This iron gate was guarded by the portress.

When Giulio, followed by his eight men, had come within three leagues
of Castro, he halted in a lonely inn until the heat of the day should
be past. It was only there that he announced his intention; he then
traced in the dust of the courtyard the plan of the convent which he
was going to attack.

"At nine o'clock this evening," he said to his men, "we sup outside
the town; at midnight we enter; we shall find your five comrades who
will be waiting for us near the convent. One of them, who will be
mounted, will pretend to be a courier arriving from Rome to summon
Signora de' Campireali to the bedside of her husband, who is dying.
We shall try to get without noise past the outer gate of the convent,
which is there, close to the barrack," he said, pointing to it on his
plan in the dust. "If we were to begin our fight at the first gate, we
should be making it easy for the nuns' _bravi_ to shoot us down with
their arquebuses while we were still in the little square, here,
outside the convent, or while we were going along the narrow passage
which leads from the first gate to the second. This second gate is of
iron, but I have the key.

"It is true that there are enormous iron rods, or valets, fastened to
the wall at one end, and these, when they are in position, prevent the
two halves of the gate from opening.  But as these two iron rods are
too heavy for the portress to be able to handle them, I have never
seen them in position; and yet I have passed ten times and more
through this iron gate. I expect to pass through it again to-night
without difficulty. You understand that I have friends inside the
convent; my object is to carry off a boarder, not a nun; we must not
use our arms except in the last extremity. If we should begin the
fight before reaching this second gate with the iron bars, the
portress would not fail to call two old gardeners, men of seventy, who
sleep inside the convent, and the old men would fix in position the
iron bars of which I have spoken. Should this misfortune befall us, we
shall be obliged, in order to pass the gate, to destroy the wall,
which will take ten minutes; in any case, I shall advance first
towards the gate. One of the gardeners is in my pay; but I have taken
good care, as you can imagine, not to speak to him of the abduction I
have in mind. Once past this second gate, we turn to the right, and
come to the garden; as soon as we are in the garden, the fight begins,
we must go for everyone we see. You will of course use only your
swords and dirks, a single shot from an arquebus would set the whole
town stirring, and we might be attacked on coming out. Not that with
thirteen men such as you I have any misgivings about getting through a
little place like that: certainly no one would dare come down to the
street; but many of the townsfolk have arquebuses, and they would fire
from the windows. In that case, we should have to keep close to the
walls of the houses, so much for that.  Once you are in the convent
garden, you will say in a low voice to every man that shews his face:
_Retire_; you will kill with your dirks any that does not immediately
obey.  I shall go up into the convent by the little door from the
garden, with those of you that are near me; three minutes later I
shall come down with one or two women whom we shall carry in our arms,
without allowing them to walk. We shall then go quickly out of the
convent and the town.  I shall leave two of you near the gate, they
will fire twenty rounds from their arquebuses, one every minute, to
frighten the townsfolk and keep them at a distance."

Giulio repeated this explanation a second time.

"Do you quite understand?" he asked his men. "It will be dark in that
hall; on the right the garden, on the left the courtyard; you must not
lose your way."

"Count on us!" cried the soldiers.

Then they went off to drink; the corporal did not follow them but
asked leave to speak to the captain.

"Nothing could be simpler," he said to him, "than your honour's plan.
I have already forced two convents in my time; this will make the
third; but there are not enough of us. If the enemy oblige us to pull
down the wall that supports the hinges of the second gate, we must
bear in mind that the _bravi_ in the barrack will not be idle during
that long operation; they will kill seven or eight of your men with
arquebus shots, and after that they may seize the lady from us as we
come out. That is what happened to us in a convent near Bologna: they
killed five of our men, we killed eight of theirs, but the captain did
not get the lady. I suggest to your honour two things: I know four
peasants close to this inn where we are now, who have served gallantly
under Sciarra, and for a sequin will fight all night like lions. They
may perhaps steal some silver from the convent; that does not matter
to you, the sin is upon their heads, you simply pay them to secure a
lady, that is all. My second suggestion is this: Ugone is a fellow
with some education, and very quick; he was a doctor when he killed
his brother-in-law and took to the _macchia_.  You might send him, an
hour before nightfall, to the gate of the convent; he will ask to take
service there, and will manage so well that he will be admitted to the
guardroom; he will fill the nuns' servants with liquor; more than
that, he is quite capable of wetting the matches of their arquebuses."

Unfortunately, Giulio accepted the corporal's suggestion.  As the man
was leaving his presence, he added:

"We are going to attack a convent, that means _major_
_excommunication_, and besides, this convent is under the immediate
protection of the Madonna...."

"I hear you!" cried Giulio, as though aroused by the last words. "Stay
here with me."

The corporal shut the door and came back to repeat the Rosary with
Giulio. Their prayers lasted for fully an hour. At dusk, they took the
road again.

As midnight struck, Giulio, who had entered Castro by himself about
eleven o'clock, returned to fetch his party outside the gate. He
entered the town with his eight soldiers, who had been joined by three
peasants, well armed; adding to these the five soldiers whom he
already had in the town, he found himself at the head of a band of
sixteen resolute men; two were disguised as servants, they had put on
loose shirts of black cloth to hide their giacchi (coats of mail), and
they wore no plumes in their caps.

At half past twelve, Giulio, who had cast himself for the part of
courier, arrived at a gallop at the gate of the convent, making a
great noise, and shouting to the inmates to open at once to a courier
sent by the Cardinal.  He was pleased to see that the soldiers who
answered him through the little window, by the side of the outer gate,
were more than half drunk already. Complying with the custom, he
handed in his name on a slip of paper; a soldier went to give this to
the portress, who had the key of the second gate, and on important
occasions had to arouse the Abbess. For three mortal quarters of an
hour he was kept waiting for an answer; during this time, Giulio had
great difficulty in keeping his troop silent: some of the townsfolk
were even beginning timidly to open their windows, when a favourable
reply at length arrived from the Abbess. Giulio entered the guard-room
by means of a ladder five or six feet in length, which was let down to
him from the little window, the _bravi_ of the convent not wishing to
give themselves the trouble of opening the great gate: this ladder he
climbed, followed by the two soldiers disguised as servants. As he
jumped from the window sill into the guard-room, he caught the eye of
Ugone; the whole of the guard were drunk, thanks to his efforts.
Giulio told the man in charge that three servants of the Campireali
household, whom he had armed like soldiers to serve as his escort on
the road, had found a place where there was good brandy for sale, and
asked that they might come up instead of cooling their heels on the
square; this request was unanimously granted. As for himself,
accompanied by his two men, he went down by the staircase which led
from the guard-room into the passage.

"Try to open the big gate," he said to Ugone.

He himself arrived without the least trouble at the iron gate. There
he found the good portress, who told him that as it was past midnight,
if he entered the convent, the Abbess would be obliged to report it to
the Bishop; accordingly she sent word asking him to hand his
dispatches to a young sister whom she had sent to receive them. To
which Giulio replied that in the confusion surrounding the sudden
decline of Signor de' Campireali, he had been given nothing but a
simple letter of credit written by the doctor, and had been ordered to
communicate all the details by word of mouth to the dying man's wife
and daughter, should those ladies still be in the convent, and in any
event to the Lady Abbess. The portress went to convey this message.
There remained by the gate only the young sister sent down by the
Abbess. Giulio while he talked and joked with her, slipped his hands
through the great iron bars of the gate, and, still laughing,
attempted to open it. The sister, who was very timid, was alarmed and
took the pleasantry amiss; then Giulio, seeing that a considerable
amount of time had passed, was rash enough to offer her a handful of
sequins, begging her to open the gate for him, adding that he was too
tired to wait any longer. He saw quite well that he was doing a
foolish thing, says the historian: it was with steel and not with gold
that he should have acted, but he had no heart for that: nothing could
have been easier than to seize the sister, who was not a foot away
from him on the other side of the gate. At his offer of the sequins,
the girl took fright. She said afterwards that, from the way in which
Giulio addressed her, she realised quite clearly that he was not a
mere courier: "He will be the lover of one of our nuns," she thought,
"who has come to keep an assignation," and she was devout. Seized with
horror, she began to tug with all her strength the rope of a little
bell which hung in the great courtyard, and at once made din enough to
arouse the dead.

"The fight begins," said Giulio to his men; "look out for yourselves!"

He took his key, and, slipping his arm between the iron bars, opened
the gate, to the complete despair of the young sister, who fell on her
knees and began to recite the _Hail Mary_, crying out against the
sacrilege. Again at this moment, Giulio ought to have silenced the
girl, but had not the heart to do so: one of his men seized hold of
her and clapped his hand to her mouth.

At that moment Giulio heard an arquebus fired in the passage behind
him. Ugone had opened the main gate; the remainder of the soldiers
were entering without a sound, when one of the _bravi_, less drunk
than the rest, came up to one of the barred windows, and, in his
astonishment at seeing so many people in the passage, forbade them
with an oath to come any farther. The only thing was to make no answer
and to continue to advance towards the iron gate; this was what the
first of the soldiers did; but the man who came last of all, and who
was one of the peasants recruited in the afternoon, fired a pistol
shot at this servant who was speaking from the window, and killed him.
This pistol shot, in the dead of night, and the shouts of the drunken
men as they saw their comrade fall, awoke the soldiers of the convent,
who were spending the night in bed, and had not had an opportunity of
tasting Ugone's wine. Nine or ten of the _bravi_ of the convent rushed
into the passage half dressed, and began vigorously to attack
Branciforte's men.

As we have said, this racket began at the moment when Giulio had
succeeded in opening the iron gate. Followed by his two soldiers, he
dashed into the garden, and ran towards the little door of the
boarders' stair; but he was greeted by five or six pistol shots. His
two men fell, he himself received a bullet in his right arm. These
pistol shots had been fired by Signora de' Campireali's people, who,
by her orders, were spending the night in the garden, authorised to do
so by a special dispensation which she had obtained from the Bishop.
Giulio ran by himself towards the little door, so well known to him,
which led from the garden to the boarders' stair. He did all he could
to force it open, but it was firmly shut. He searched for his men, who
made no attempt to reply; they were dying; in the pitch darkness he
ran into three of the Campireali servants against whom he defended
himself with his knife.

He ran into the hall, towards the iron gate, to call his soldiers; he
found this gate shut: the pair of heavy iron rods had been put in
position and padlocked by the old gardeners, who had been aroused by
the young sister's pealing of the bell.

"I am cut off," Giulio said to himself.

He repeated this to his men; in vain did he attempt to force one of
the padlocks with his sword: had he succeeded, he would have raised
one of the iron rods, and opened one side of the gate. His sword broke
in the ring of the padlock; at the same moment he was wounded in the
shoulder by one of the servants who had come in from the garden; he
turned round, and resting his back against the iron gate, found
himself being attacked by a number of men.  He defended himself with
his dirk; fortunately, the darkness being unbroken, almost all the
sword strokes landed on his coat of mail. He received a painful wound
in the knee; he flung himself upon one of the men who had lunged too
far to reach him with his sword, killed him by stabbing him in the
face with his knife, and was lucky enough to gain possession of the
man's sword. From that moment he thought himself safe; he took his
stand on the left-hand side of the gate, towards the courtyard. His
men, who had hastened to his assistance, fired five or six pistol
shots between the iron bars of the gate and sent the servants flying.
Nothing was visible in the hall except in the flash of these pistol

"Do not fire in my direction!" cried Giulio to his men.

"Now you are caught like a mouse in a trap," the corporal said to him
with the utmost coolness, speaking through the bars; "we have three
men killed. We are going to break down the jamb of the gate on the
opposite side to where you are; do not come near, the bullets will be
falling on us; there seem to be some of the enemy in the garden

"Those rascally servants of the Campireali," said Giulio.

He was still speaking to the corporal, when further pistol shots,
aimed at the sound of their voices and coming from the part of the
hall that led to the garden, were fired at them. Giulio took shelter
in the portress's lodge, which was on the left as one entered; to his
great joy he found a lamp burning with an almost imperceptible glimmer
before the image of the Madonna; he took it with many precautions not
to extinguish it; he noticed with regret that he was trembling. He
examined the wound in his knee, which was giving him great pain; the
blood was flowing copiously.

As he cast his eyes round him, he was greatly surprised at
recognising, in a woman who had fainted in a wooden armchair, little
Marietta, Elena's confidential maid; he shook her vigorously.

"Why, Signor Giulio," she exclaimed, weeping, "are you going to kill
Marietta, your friend?"

"Nothing of the sort; say to Elena that I beg pardon for having
disturbed her sleep, and bid her remember the Angelus on Monte Cavi.
Here is a nosegay which I plucked in her garden at Albano; but it is
stained a little with blood; wash it before you give it to her."

At that moment, he heard a volley of arquebus shots fired in the
passage; the nuns' _bravi_ were attacking his men.

"Tell me, where is the key of the little door?" he said to Marietta.

"I do not see it; but here are the keys of the padlocks of the iron
bars which keep the great gate shut. You can get out."

Giulio took the keys and dashed out of the lodge.

"Stop trying to break down the wall," he said to his soldiers. "I have
the key of the gate at last."

There was a moment of complete silence, while he tried to open a
padlock with one of the small keys; he had mistaken the key, he tried
the other; at length, he opened the padlock; but just as he was
lifting the iron rod, he received a pistol shot, fired at him almost
point blank, in his right arm. At once he felt that his arm refused to
obey him.

"Lift up the iron valet," he cried to his men.

He had no need to tell them.

By the flash of the pistol shot, they had seen the hooked end of the
iron rod almost out of the ring in the gate; when it was clear of the
ring, they let it fall. Then it was possible to push open one side of
the gate; the corporal entered, and said to Giulio, carefully lowering
his voice:

"There is nothing more to be done, there are only three or four of us
now unwounded, five are dead."

"I am losing blood," replied Giulio. "I feel that I am going to faint;
tell them to carry me away."

While Giulio was speaking to the gallant corporal, the soldiers in the
guard-room fired three or four more arquebus shots, and the corporal
fell dead. Fortunately, Ugone had heard the order given by Giulio, he
called two of the soldiers by name, and these picked up their captain.
As after all he did not faint, he ordered them to carry him to the end
of the garden, to the little door. This order made the men swear; they
obeyed, nevertheless.

"A hundred sequins to the man who opens that door!" cried Giulio.

But it resisted the efforts of three furious men. One of the old
gardeners, installed in a window on the second floor, fired a number
of pistol shots at them, which served to lighten their path.

After vain efforts to break down the door, Giulio fainted completely
away; Ugone told the soldiers to carry the captain out as quickly as
possible. He himself went into the portress's lodge, out of which he
flung little Marietta, telling her in a terrifying voice to make her
escape, and never to say that she had recognised him. He pulled out
the straw from the bed, broke several chairs and set fire to the room.
When he saw the fire well started, he made off as fast as he could
run, through a rain of arquebus shots fired by the _bravi_ in the

It was not until he had gone some hundred and fifty yards from the
Visitation that he found the captain, who, in a dead faint, was being
carried rapidly away. A few minutes later, they were out of the town;
Ugone called a half, he had now only four soldiers with him; he sent
two back into the town, with orders to fire their arquebuses every
five minutes.

"Try to find your wounded comrades," he told them, "and leave the town
before daybreak; we are going to follow the path towards the Croce
Rossa. If you can start a fire anywhere, do so without fail."

When Giulio recovered consciousness, they had gone three leagues from
the town, and the sun was already high above the horizon. Ugone made
his report.

"Your troop consists now of only five men, of whom three are wounded.
Two of the peasants who are alive have received a reward of two
sequins each, and have fled; I have sent the two men who are not
wounded to the nearest village to fetch a surgeon."

The surgeon, an old man trembling with fear, arrived presently mounted
upon a magnificent ass; the men had had to threaten to set fire to his
house before he would make up his mind to come. They were obliged also
to dose him with brandy to make him fit to work, so great was his
fear. Finally he set to work; he told Giulio that his injuries were of
no consequence.

"The wound in the knee is not dangerous," he went on, "but it will
make you limp all your life, if you do not keep absolutely still for
the next two or three weeks."

The surgeon dressed the wounds of the men. Ugone made a sign with his
eye to Giulio; two sequins were bestowed on the surgeon, who was
speechless with gratitude; then, on the pretext of thanking him, they
made him drink such a quantity of brandy that finally he fell into a
deep sleep. This was what they desired. They carried him into a
neighbouring field, and wrapped four sequins in a scrap of paper which
was slipped into his pocket: it was the price of his ass, on which
were set Giulio and one of the soldiers who was wounded in the leg.
They went to spend the period of the midday heat in an ancient ruin by
the edge of a pond; they marched all night, avoiding the villages,
which were few in number upon that road, and at length, on the third
morning, at sunrise, Giulio, carried by his men, awoke in the heart of
the forest of la Faggiola, in the charcoal-burner's hut which was his


On the morning after the fight, the nuns of the Visitation were
horrified to find nine dead bodies in their garden and in the passage
that led from their outer gate to the gate with the iron bars; eight
of their _bravi_ were wounded. Never had there been such a panic in
the convent: it was true that they had, now and again, heard arquebus
shots fired in the square, but never such a quantity of shots fired in
the garden, in the middle of the nuns' buildings and beneath their
windows. The affair had lasted fully an hour and a half, and during
that time the disorder had been complete inside the convent.  Had
Giulio Branciforte had the least understanding with any of the sisters
or boarders, he must have been successful: all that was needed was to
open to him one of the many doors that led into the garden; but, wild
with indignation and with resentment of what he called the perjury of
young Elena, Giulio had sought to carry everything before him by main
force. He would have felt that he was failing in his duty to himself,
had he confided his plan to anyone who could repeat it to Elena. And
yet a single word to her little Marietta would have sufficed to assure
his success: she would have opened one of the doors leading into the
garden, and one man even appearing in the dormitories of the convent,
with that terrible accompaniment of arquebus shots heard from without,
would have been obeyed to the letter. At the sound of the first shot,
Elena had trembled for the life of her lover, and her one thought had
been to fly with him.

How are we to depict her despair when little Marietta told her of the
fearful wound Giulio had received in his knee, from which she had seen
the blood flowing in torrents?  Elena detested her own cowardice and

"I was weak enough to say a word to my mother, and Giulio's blood has
been shed; he might have lost his life in that sublime assault in
which it was his courage that did everything."

The _bravi_, when admitted to the parlour, had said to the nuns, who
were all agog to hear them, that never in their lives had they
witnessed valour comparable to that of the young man dressed as a
courier who directed the efforts of the brigands. If all the rest
listened to these tales with the keenest interest, one may judge of
the intense passion with which Elena asked these _bravi_ for a
detailed account of the young chief of the brigands. After the long
stories which she made them, and also the old gardeners, tell her, she
felt that she no longer loved her mother at all. There was indeed a
moment of extremely heated discussion between these two women who had
loved each other so tenderly on the eve of the fight; Signora de'
Campireali was shocked by the bloodstains which she saw on the flowers
of a certain nosegay from which Elena refused to be parted for a
single instant.

"You ought to throw away those flowers covered with blood."

"It was I who caused that noble blood to be spilt, and it flowed
because I was weak enough to say a word to you."

"You still love, your brother's murderer?"

"I love my husband, who, to my eternal misfortune, was attacked by my

After this reply, not a single word passed between Signora de'
Campireali and her daughter during the three more days which the
Signora spent in the convent.

On the day following her departure, Elena managed to escape, taking
advantage of the confusion that prevailed at the two gates of the
convent, owing to the presence of a large number of masons who had
been let into the garden and were engaged in erecting new
fortifications there.  Little Marietta and she were disguised as
workmen. But the townsfolk were keeping a strict guard at the gates of
the town. Elena had considerable difficulty in getting out.  Finally,
the same small merchant who had conveyed Branci-f orte's letters to
her consented to let her pass as his daughter, and to escort her as
far as Albano. There Elena found a hiding-place with her nurse, whom
her generosity had enabled to open a little shop. No sooner had she
arrived, than she wrote to Branciforte, and the nurse found, not
without great trouble, a man willing to risk his life by entering the
forest of la Faggiola without having the password of Colonna's troops.

The messenger dispatched by Elena returned after three days, in great
consternation; for one tiling, he had been unable to find Branciforte,
and, as the questions which he continued to put with regard to the
young captain had ended by making him suspected, he had been obliged
to take flight.

"There can be no doubt about it, poor Giulio is dead," Elena said to
herself, "and it is I that have killed him!  Such was bound to be the
consequence of my wretched weakness and cowardice; he should have
loved a strong woman, the daughter of one of Prince Colonna's

The nurse thought that Elena was going to die. She went up to the
Capuchin convent, standing by the road cut in the rock, where Fabio
and his father had once met the lovers in the middle of the night. The
nurse spoke at great length to her confessor, and, beneath the seal of
the sacrament, admitted to him that young Elena de' Campi-reali wished
to go and join Giulio Branciforte, her husband, adding that she was
prepared to place in the church of the convent a silver lamp of the
value of one hundred Spanish piastres.

"A hundred piastres!" replied the friar angrily. "And what will become
of our convent, if we incur the anger of Signor de' Campireali? It was
not a hundred piastres, but a good thousand, that he gave us for going
to fetch his son's body from the battlefield at the Ciampi, not to
speak of the wax."

It must be said to the honour of the convent that two elderly friars,
having discovered where precisely Elena was, went down to Albano and
paid her a visit, originally with the intention of inducing her by
hook or crook to take up her abode in the palazzo of her family: they
knew that they would be richly rewarded by Signora de' Campireali.
The whole of Albano was ringing with the report of Elena's flight and
of the lavish promises made by her mother to anyone who could give her
news of her daughter. But the two friars were so touched by the
despair of poor Elena, who believed Giulio Branciforte to be dead,
that, so far from betraying her by revealing to her mother the place
in which she had taken refuge, they agreed to serve as her escort as
far as the fortress of la Petrella. Elena and Marietta, once more
disguised as workmen, repaired on foot and by night to a certain
spring in the forest of la Faggiola, a league from Albano. The friars
had sent mules there to meet them, and, when day had come, the party
set out for la Petrella. The friars, who were known to be under the
Prince's protection, were greeted everywhere with respect by the
soldiers whom they met in the forest; but it was not so with the two
little men who accompanied them: the soldiers began by staring at them
in the most forbidding manner and came up to them, then burst out
laughing and congratulated the friars on the charms of their

"Silence, impious wretches; know that all is being done under Prince
Colonna's orders," replied the friars as they proceeded on their way.

But poor Elena was unlucky; the Prince was not at la Petrella, and
when, three days later, on his return, he at length granted her an
audience, he showed himself most stern.

"Why do you come here, Signorina? What means this ill-advised action?
Your woman's chatter has cost the lives of seven of the bravest men in
Italy, and that is a thing which no man in his senses will ever
forgive you. In this world, one must wish a thing or not wish it. It
is doubtless in consequence of similar chatter that Giulio
Branci-forte has just been declared guilty of sacrilege, and sentenced
to be tortured for two hours with red-hot pincers, and then burned as
a Jew, he, one of the best Christians I know! How could anyone,
without some abominable chattering on your part, have invented so
horrible a lie as to say that Giulio Branciforte was at Castro on the
day of the attack on the convent? All my men will tell you that they
saw him that day here at la Petrella, and that in the evening I sent
him to Velletri.

"But is he alive?" Elena cried for the tenth time, bursting into

"He is dead to you," replied the Prince. "You shall never set eyes on
him again. I advise you to return to your convent at Castro; try to
commit no more indiscretions, and I order you to leave la Petrella
within an hour from now. Above all, never mention to anyone that you
have seen me, or I shall find a way of punishing you."

Poor Elena was broken-hearted at meeting with such a reception from
that famous Prince Colonna, for whom Giulio felt so much respect, and
whom she loved because Giulio loved him.

Whatever Prince Colonna might choose to say, this action on Elena's
part was by no means ill-advised. If she had come to la Petrella three
days earlier, she would have found there Giulio Branciforte; the wound
in his knee rendered him incapable of marching, and the Prince had him
carried to the market town of Avezzano, in the Kingdom of Naples. At
the first news of the terrible sentence upon Giulio Branciforte which,
purchased by Signor de' Campireali, denounced him as guilty of
sacrilege and of violating a convent, the Prince had seen that, should
he have occasion to protect Branciforte, he would have to reckon
without three-fourths of his men. This was a sin against the Madonna,
to whose protection each of these brigands supposed himself to have a
special claim. Had there been a _bargello_ in Rome sufficiently daring
to come and arrest Giulio Branciforte in the heart of the forest of la
Faggiola, he might have been successful.

On reaching Avezzano, Giulio took the name of Fontana, and the men who
carried him there were discreet. On their return to la Petrella, they
announced with sorrow that Giulio had died on the way, and from that
moment each of the Prince's soldiers knew that a dagger would find its
way to the heart of any who should pronounce that fatal name.

It was in vain therefore that Elena, on her return to Albano, wrote
letter after letter, and spent, on their transmission to Branciforte,
all the sequins that she possessed.  The two aged friars, who had
become her friends, for extreme beauty, says the Florentine
chronicler, cannot fail to exercise some sway, even over hearts
hardened by the vilest selfishness and hypocrisy; the two friars, we
say, warned the poor girl that it was in vain that she might seek to
convey a word to Branciforte: Colonna had declared that he was dead,
and certainly Giulio would not appear in public again unless the
Prince chose. Elena's nurse informed her, with tears, that her mother
had at length succeeded in discovering her retreat, and that the
strictest orders had been given that she should be forcibly taken to
the palazzo Campireali, in Albano. Elena realised that, once inside
that palazzo, her imprisonment might be one of unbounded severity, and
that they would succeed in cutting her off absolutely from any
communication with the outer world, whereas at the Convent of Castro
she would have, for receiving and sending letters, the same facilities
as all the other nuns. Besides, and this was what brought her to a
decision, it was in the garden of that convent that Giulio had shed
his blood for her: she could gaze once more upon that wooden armchair
in the portress's lodge on which he had sat for a moment to examine
the wound in his knee; it was there that he had given Marietta that
nosegay stained with blood which never left her person. And so she
went sadly back to the Convent of Castro, and here one might bring her
history to an end: it would be well for her, and for the reader also.
For. we are now about to observe the gradual degradation of a noble
and generous nature.

Prudent measures and the falsehoods of civilisation, which for the
future are going to assail her on every side, will take the place of
the sincere impulses of vigorous and natural passions. The Roman
chronicler here sets down a most artless reflexion: because a woman
has taken the trouble to bring into the world a beautiful daughter,
she assumes that she has the talent necessary to direct that
daughter's life, and because, when the daughter is six years old, she
said to her and was justified in saying: "Miss, put your collar
straight," when the daughter is eighteen and she herself fifty, when
the daughter has as much intel-ligence as her mother and more, the
mother, carried away by the mania for ruling, thinks that she has the
right to direct her daughter's life and even to employ falsehood.  We
shall see that it was Vittoria Carafa, Elena's mother, who, by a
succession of adroit measures, most skilfully planned, brought about
the death of that dearly loved daughter, after keeping her in misery
for twelve years, a lamentable result of the mania for ruling.

Before his death, Signor de' Campireali had had the joy of seeing
published in Rome the sentence that condemned Giulio Branciforte to be
tortured for two hours with red-hot irons in the principal squares of
Rome, then to be burned on a slow fire, and his ashes flung into the
Tiber.  The frescoes in the cloisters of Santa Maria Novella, at
Florence, still survive to show us how these cruel sentences upon the
sacrilegious were carried out. As a rule, a numerous guard was
required to prevent the outraged populace from forestalling the
headsmen in their office. Everyone regarded himself as an intimate
friend of the Madonna.  Signor de' Campireali had had the sentence
read over to him again a few moments before his death, and had given
the _avvocato_ who had procured it his fine estate lying between
Albano and the sea. This _avvocato_ was by no means devoid of merit.
Branciforte was condemned to this terrible punishment, and yet no
witness had professed to have recognised him beneath the clothing of
that young man disguised as a courier, who seemed to be directing with
such authority the movements of the assailants. The magnificence of
the reward set all the intriguers of Rome in a stir. There was then at
court a certain _fratone_ (monk), a deep man and one capable of
anything, even of forcing the Pope to give him the Hat; he looked
after the affairs of Prince Colonna, and that terrible client earned
him great consideration. When Signora de' Campireali saw her daughter
once more safely at Castro, she sent for this _fratone_.

"Your Reverence will be lavishly rewarded, if he will be so kind as to
help to bring to a successful issue the very simple affair which I am
going to explain to him. In a few days' time, the sentence condemning
Giulio Branciforte to a terrible punishment is to be published and
made effective in the Kingdom of Naples also. I request Your Reverence
to read this letter from the Viceroy, a relative of mine, by the way,
who deigns to inform me of this news.  In what land can Branciforte
seek an asylum? I shall have fifty thousand piastres conveyed to the
Prince, with the request that he will give the whole sum, or a part of
it, to Giulio Branciforte, on condition that he goes to serve the King
of Spain, my Sovereign, against the rebels in Flanders. The Viceroy
will give a brevet as captain to Branciforte, and in order that the
sentence for sacrilege, which I hope to have made operative in Spain
also, may not hamper him at all in his career, he will go by the name
of Barone Lizzara; that is a small property which I have in the
Abruzzi, and shall find a way of making over to him, by means of
fictitious sales. I do not suppose Your Reverence has ever seen a
mother treat her son's murderer like this. For five hundred piastres
we could long since have been rid of the hateful creature; but we had
no wish to fall foul of Colonna. Be so good, therefore, as to point
out to him that my respect for his rights is costing me sixty or
eighty thousand piastres. I never wish to hear that Branciforte
mentioned again; that is all, and you will present my compliments to
the Prince."

The _fratone_ said that in two or three days he would be going in the
direction of Ostia, and Signora de' Campireali handed him a ring worth
a thousand piastres.

A few days later, the _fratone_ reappeared in Rome, and told Signora
de' Campireali that he had not informed the Prince of her plan, but
that within a month young Branciforte would have taken ship for
Barcelona, where she would be able to convey to him, through one of
the bankers of that city, the sum of fifty thousand piastres.

The Prince found considerable difficulty in handling Giulio. Whatever
the risk he must for the future run in Italy, the young lover could
not make up his mind to leave that country. In vain did the Prince
suggest to him that Signora de' Campireali might die; in vain did he
promise that, in any event, after three years, Giulio might return to
visit his native land; Giulio shed copious tears, but consent he would
not. The Prince was obliged to request him to go, as a personal
service to himself; Giulio could refuse nothing to his father's
friend; but, first and foremost, he wished to take his orders from
Elena. The Prince deigned to take charge of a long letter; and, what
was more, gave Giulio permission to write to her from Flanders once
every month. At length the despairing lover embarked for Barcelona.
All his letters were burned by the Prince, who did not wish Giulio
ever to return to Italy. We have forgotten to mention that, although
anything like ostentation was utterly alien to his character, the
Prince had felt himself obliged to say, in order to bring matters to a
successful issue, that it was he himself who thought fit to assure a
small fortune of fifty thousand piastres to the only son of one of the
most faithful servants of the house of Colonna.  Poor Elena was
treated like a Princess in the Convent of Castro. Her father's death
had put her in possession of a considerable fortune, and a vast
inheritance would accrue to her in time. On the occasion of her
father's death she made a gift of five ells of black cloth to all such
of the inhabitants of Castro or of the district who announced that
they wished to wear mourning for Signor de' Campireali.  She was still
in the first days of her bereavement when, by the hand of a complete
stranger, a letter was brought to her from Giulio. It would be hard to
describe the rapture with which that letter was opened, though no less
hard to describe the intense grief which followed her perusal of it.
And yet it was indeed in Giulio's handwriting; she examined it with
the closest scrutiny. The letter spoke of love; but what love, great
heavens! Nevertheless, it was Signora de' Campireali, who was so
clever, that had composed it. Her intention was to begin the
correspondence with seven or eight letters of impassioned love; she
wished thus to prepare the way for the next letters, in which the
writer's passion would seem to die gradually away.

We may pass briefly over ten years of an unhappy life.  Elena supposed
herself to be completely forgotten, and yet had scornfully refused the
overtures of the most distinguished young noblemen in Rome. She did,
however, hesitate for a moment, when mention was made to her of young
Ottavio Colonna, the eldest son of the famous Fabrizio, who had
received her so coldly, long ago, at la Petrella.  She felt that,
being absolutely obliged to take a husband in order to provide a
protector for the lands which she owned in the Roman States and in the
Kingdom of Naples, it would be less repulsive to her to bear the name
of a man whom Giulio had once loved. Had she agreed to this marriage,
Elena would very soon have found out the truth about Giulio
Branciforte. The old Prince Fabrizio spoke often and with enthusiasm
of the superhuman valour shown by Colonel Lizzara (Giulio
Branciforte), who, just like the heroes of the old romances, was
seeking to distract his mind by gallant actions from the unfortunate
love affair which made him indifferent to all pleasures. He imagined
Elena to be long since married; Signora de' Campireali had surrounded
him, too, with falsehood.

Elena was half reconciled to that wiliest of mothers.  She.
passionately anxious to see her daughter married, asked her friend,
old Cardinal Santi-Quattro, Protector of the Visitation, who was going
to Castro, to announce in confidence to the senior sisters in the
convent that his visit to them had been delayed by an act of grace.
The good Pope Gregory XIII, moved to pity for the soul of a brigand
named Giulio Branciforte, who had once tried to break into their
cloister, had been pleased, on learning of his death, to revoke the
sentence that declared him guilty of sacrilege, being fully convinced
that, beneath the load of such a condemnation, he would never be able
to escape from Purgatory, assuming that Branciforte, taken by surprise
in Mexico and massacred by rebellious natives, had been so fortunate
as to go no farther than Purgatory. This news put the whole Convent of
Castro in a stir; it reached the ears of Elena, who at once began to
indulge in all the foolish acts of vanity that the possession of a
great fortune can inspire in a person who is profoundly vexed. From
that moment, she never left her room. It should be explained that, in
order to be able to install herself in the little portress's lodge in
which Giulio had taken refuge for a moment on the night of the
assault, she had had half the convent rebuilt. With infinite pains
and, in the sequel, a scandal which it was extremely difficult to hush
up, she had succeeded in laying hands on, and in taking into her
service the three _bravi_ employed by Branciforte who still survived
out of the five that had got away from the fight at Castro. Among
these was Ugone, now old and crippled by wounds. The arrival of these
three men had caused considerable murmuring; but in the end the fear
that Elena's proud nature inspired in the whole convent had prevailed,
and every day they were to be seen, dressed in her livery, coming to
take her orders at the outer grill, and often giving long answers to
her questions, which were always on the same subject.

After the six months of seclusion and detachment from all the things
of this world which followed the announcement of Giulio's death, the
first sensation to awaken this heart already broken by a misfortune
without remedy and a long period of boredom was one of vanity.

A little time since, the Abbess had died. According to custom,
Cardinal Santi-Quattro, who was still Protector of the Visitation,
despite his great age of ninety-two years, had drawn up the list of
the three ladies from among whom the Pope would select an Abbess. It
required some very serious reason to make His Holiness read the last
two names on the list; as a rule he contented himself with running his
pen through those names, and the nomination was made.

One day, Elena was at the window of what had been the portress's
lodge, and had now become one end of the wing of new buildings erected
by her. This window stood not more than two feet above the passage
once watered by the blood of Giulio and now forming part of the
garden.  Elena's eyes were firmly fixed on the ground. The three
ladies whose names, as had been known for some days, formed the
Cardinal's list of possible successors to the late Abbess, came past
Elena's window. She did not see them, and in consequence could not
greet them. One of the three ladies was offended, and remarked in a
loud voice to the other two:

"A fine thing for a boarder to flaunt her room before everybody."

Aroused by these words, Elena raised her eyes and encountered three
hostile stares.

"Very well," she said to herself as she shut the window without
greeting them, "I've played the lamb in this convent quite long
enough; it's time I became a wolf, if only to give a little variety to
the curious gentlemen of the town."

An hour later, one of her servants, dispatched as a courier, carried
the following letter to her mother, who for the last ten years had
been living in Rome, and had managed to acquire great influence there.

"Most respected Mother,

"Every year you give me three hundred thousand francs upon my
birthday; I make use of that money to do foolish things, perfectly
honourable things I must say, but foolish nevertheless. Although it is
long since you have mentioned the matter, I know that there are two
ways in which I can shew my gratitude for all the thoughtful care you
have taken of me. I will never marry, but I would gladly become
_Abbess of this Convent_; what has given me the idea is that the three
ladies whose names our Cardinal Santi-Quattro has placed on the list
which he will present to His Holiness are my enemies, and, whichever
of them be chosen, I may expect every sort of annoyance. Offer the
usual flowers on my birthday to all the right people; let us first
have the nomination postponed for six months,--vhich will make the
Prioress of the Convent, my dearest friend, who is now holding the
reins, wild with joy. That alone will afford me some happiness, and it
is very seldom that I can use that word in speaking of your daughter.
I think my idea absurd; but if you see any chance of success, in three
days I will take the white veil, eight years of residence in the
convent, without a night's absence, entitling me to six months'
exemption. The dispensation is never refused, and costs forty scudi.

"I am with respect, my venerable mother," etc.

On reading this letter, Signora de' Campireali's joy knew no bounds.
When it reached her, she was bitterly regretting that she had sent
word to her daughter of Branciforte's death; she foresaw some mad
action, she was even afraid lest her daughter might decide to go to
Mexico to visit the spot where Branciforte was said to have been
massacred, in which case it was highly probable that she would learn
in Madrid the true name of Colonel Lizzara.  On the other hand, what
her daughter demanded in the letter was the most difficult, one might
even say the most preposterous thing in the world. That a young girl
who was not even in religion, and was known only for a mad love affair
with a brigand, should be set at the head of a convent in which all
the Roman Princes had relatives professed!  "But," thought Signora de'
Campireali, "they say that every cause can be pleaded, and, if so,
won." In her reply, Vittoria Carafa gave her daughter grounds for
hope; that daughter, as a rule, wished only for the most absurd
things, but, on the other hand, she very soon tired of them.  In the
evening, while seeking any information that, nearly or remotely, bore
upon the Convent of Castro, she learned that for some months past lier
friend Cardinal Santi-Quattro had been extremely cross: he wished to
marry his niece to Don Ottavio Colonna, the eldest son of that Prince
Fabrizio, who has been so often mentioned in the course of this
narrative. The Prince offered him his second son, Don Lorenzo,
because, in order to bolster up his own fortune, fantastically
compromised by the war which the King of Naples and the Pope,
reconciled at last, were waging against the brigands of la Faggiola,
it was essential that his eldest son's wife should bring a dowry of
six hundred thousand piastres (3,210,000 francs) to the House of
Colonna. Now Cardinal Santi-Quattro, even by disinheriting in the most
preposterous fashion all the rest of his family, could only offer a
fortune of three hundred and eighty or four hundred thousand piastres.

Vittoria Carafa spent the evening and part of the night in having
these reports confirmed by all the friends of old Santi-Quattro. Next
day, about seven o'clock, she sent in her name to the old Cardinal.

"Your Eminence," she said to him, "we are neither of us young; it is
useless our trying to deceive one another by giving fine names to
things that are not fine; I have come to propose to you something mad;
all that I can say in defence of it is that it is not abominable; but
I must admit that I find it supremely ridiculous. When there was some
talk of a marriage between Don Ottavio Colonna and my daughter Elena,
I formed an affection for the young man, and, on the day of his
marriage, I will hand over to you two hundred thousand piastres in
land or in money, which I shall ask you to convey to him. But, in
order to enable a poor widow like myself to make so enormous a
sacrifice, I require that my daughter Elena, who is at present
twenty-seven years old, and since the age of nineteen has never spent
a night out of the convent, be made _Abbess of Castro_; but first of
all the election must be postponed for six months; it is all quite

"What are you saying, Signora?" cried the old Cardinal in horror; "His
Holiness himself could not perform what you come here and ask of a
poor, helpless old man."

"Did I not tell Your Eminence that the thing was absurd: fools will
call it madness; but the people that are well informed of what goes on
at court will say that our Excellent Prince, good Pope Gregory XIII,
has chosen to reward Your Eminence's long and loyal services by
facilitating a marriage which the whole of Rome knows Your Eminence to
desire. Besides, it is perfectly possible, quite canonical, I will
vouch for it; my daughter is going to take the white veil to-morrow."

"But the simony, Signora!" cried the old man in a terrible voice.

Signora de' Campireali prepared to go.

"What is that paper you are leaving behind you?"

"It is the list of the estates which I should present as the
equivalent of two hundred thousand piastres, should that be preferred
to ready money; the change of proprietor could be kept secret for a
very long time: for instance, the House of Colonna might bring actions
against me which I should proceed to lose...."

"But the simony, Signora, the fearful simony!"

"The first thing to be done is to put off the election for six months;
to-morrow I shall call to receive Your Eminence's orders."

I feel that there is need of an explanation, for readers born north of
the Alps, of the almost official tone of several passages in this
dialogue: let me remind them that, in strictly Catholic countries, the
majority of discussions of unpleasant subjects end in the
confessional; and then it is anything but a trivial matter whether one
has made use of a respectful or of an ironical expression.

In the course of the following day, Vittoria Carafa learned that,
owing to a grave error in point of fact which had been discovered in
the list of three ladies submitted to fill the vacant post of Abbess
of Castro, that election was postponed for six months: the second lady
upon the list had a renegade in her family; one of her great-uncles
had turned Protestant at Udine.

Signora de' Campireali felt herself impelled to approach Prince
Fabrizio Colonna, to whose House she was about to offer so notable an
increase in its patrimony. After trying for two days, she succeeded in
obtaining an appointment in a village near Rome, but she came away
quite alarmed by her audience; she had found the Prince, ordinarily so
calm, so greatly taken up with the military glory of Colonel Lizzara
(Giulio Branciforte), that she had decided it to be completely useless
to ask him to keep silent on that head.  The Colonel was to him like a
son, and, what was more, a favourite pupil. The Prince spent his time
reading and re-reading certain letters that came to him from Flanders.
What would become of the cherished plan to which Signora de'
Campireali had sacrificed so much in the last ten years, were her
daughter to learn of the existence and fame of Colonel Lizzara?

I must pass over in silence a number of circumstances which do,
indeed, portray the manners of that age but seem to me wearisome to
relate. The author of the Roman manuscript has taken endless pains to
arrive at the exact date of these details which I suppress.

Two years after Signora de' Campireali's meeting with Prince Colonna,
Elena was Abbess of Castro; but the old Cardinal Santi-Quattro had
died of grief after this great act of simony. At that time Castro had
as Bishop the handsomest man at the Papal Court, Monsignor Francesco
Cittadini, a noble of the city of Milan. This young man, remarkable
for his modest graces and his tone of dignity, had frequent dealings
with the Abbess of the Visitation, especially with regard to the new
cloister with which she proposed to adorn her convent. This young
Bishop Cittadini, then twenty-nine years old, fell madly in love with
the beautiful Abbess. In the legal proceedings which followed, a year
later, a number of nuns, whose evidence was taken, report that the
Bishop made his visits to the Convent as frequent as possible, and
often said to their Abbess: "Elsewhere I command, and, I am ashamed to
say, find some pleasure in doing so; in your presence, I obey like a
slave, but with a pleasure that far surpasses that of commanding
elsewhere. I find myself under the influence of a superior being; were
I to try, I could have no other will than hers, and I would rather see
myself, to all eternity, the last of her slaves than reign as king out
of her sight."

The witnesses relate that often, in the middle of these elegant
speeches, the Abbess would order him to be silent, and in harsh
language which implied scorn.

"To tell the truth," another witness goes on, "the Signora used to
treat him like a servant; when that happened the poor Bishop would
lower his eyes, and begin to weep, but he never went away. He found a
fresh excuse every day for coming to the Convent, which greatly
scandalised the nuns' confessors and the enemies of the Abbess. But
the Lady Abbess was strongly defended by the Prioress, her dearest
friend, who carried on the internal government under her immediate

"You know, my noble sisters (she used to say), that ever since that
thwarted passion which our Abbess felt in her earliest girlhood for a
soldier of fortune, her ideas have always been very odd; but you all
know that there is this remarkable element in her character, that she
never changes her mind about people for whom she has shown her
contempt.  Well, never, in the whole of her life, probably, has she
said so many insulting words as she has uttered in our presence to
poor Monsignor Cittadini. Every day, we see him submit to treatment
which makes us blush for his high office."

"Yes," replied the scandalised sisters, "but he comes again the day
after; so, after all, he cannot be so ill treated, and, however that
may be, this suggestion of intrigue is damaging to the reputation of
the Holy Order of the Visitation."

The sternest master would never address to the clumsiest servant one
quarter of the abuse which, day after day, the proud Abbess heaped
upon this young Bishop whose manners were so unctuous; but he was in
love, and had brought from his own country the fundamental maxim that
once an undertaking of this sort has been begun, one has to think only
about the end and not to consider the means.

"After all," said the Bishop to his confidant, Cesare del Bene, "the
true scorn is that felt for the lover who has desisted from the attack
before being compelled to do so by superior forces."

Now my sad task will be confined to giving an extract, of necessity
extremely dry, from the criminal proceedings which led to Elena's
death. These proceedings, which I have read in a library the name of
which I am obliged to keep private, occupy no fewer than eight folio
volumes.  The questions and arguments are in the Latin tongue, the
answers in Italian. I find that during the month of November, 1572,
about eleven o'clock at night, the young Bishop betook himself alone
to the door of the church by which the faithful are admitted
throughout the day; the Abbess herself opened this door to him, and
allowed him to follow her. She received him in a room which she often
occupied, one that communicated by a secret door with the galleries
built over the aisles of the church. Barely an hour elapsed before the
Bishop, in great bewilderment, was sent packing; the Abbess herself
conducted him to the door of the church, and addressed him in these
very words:

"_Return to your Palace, and leave my sight at once.  Farewell,
Monsignore; you fill me with horror; I feel that I have given myself
to a lackey_."

Three months later, however, came Carnival. The people of Castro were
famous for the festivities which they held among themselves at this
season, the whole town being filled with the clamour of the
masquerades. Not one of these failed to pass beneath a little window
which gave a feeble light to a certain stable in the Convent. We need
not be surprised to hear that three months before Carnival this stable
had been converted into a parlour, which was never empty during the
days of masquerade. In the midst of all the popular absurdities, the
Bishop came past in his coach; the Abbess made him a signal, and, the
following night, at one o'clock, he appeared without fail at the door
of the church. He entered, but, within three-quarters of an hour, was
angrily dismissed. Since the first assignation, in the month of
November, he had continued to come to the Convent almost every week. A
slight air of rather foolish triumph was to be observed on his face;
this everyone noticed, but it had the special effect of greatly
shocking the proud nature of the young Abbess. On Easter Monday, among
other occasions, she treated him like the meanest of mankind, and
addressed to him words which the humblest workman in the Convent would
not have borne.  Nevertheless, a few days later, she gave him a
signal, on receiving which the handsome Bishop presented himself
without fail at the door of the church; she had sent for him to let
him know that she was with child. On hearing this, says the official
account, the young man turned pale with horror and became absolutely
_stupid with fear_. The Abbess took fever; she sent for the doctor,
and made no mystery to him about her condition. The man knew his
patient's generous nature, and promised to help her out of the
difficulty. He began by putting her in touch with a woman of humble
station, young and good looking, who, without bearing the title of
midwife, had the necessary acquirements. Her husband was a baker.
Elena was taken with the conversation of this woman, who informed her
that, in order to carry out the plans by which she hoped to save her,
it was necessary that she should have two other women in her
confidence inside the Convent.

"A woman like yourself, well and good, but one of my equals? Never!
Leave my presence."

The midwife withdrew. But, a few hours later, Elena, feeling it not to
be prudent to expose herself to the risk of the woman's chattering,
summoned the doctor, who sent the woman back to the Convent, where she
was liberally rewarded. This woman swore that, even had she not been
called back, she would never have divulged the secret that had been
confided to her; but she declared once again that, if there were not,
inside the Convent, two women devoted to the Abbess's interests and
conversant with everything, she herself could have no hand in the
matter. (No doubt, she was thinking of the possible charge of
infanticide.) After prolonged reflexion, the Abbess decided to entrust
this terrible secret to Donna Vittoria, Prioress of the Convent, of
the ducal family of C------, and to Donna Bernards, daughter of the
Marchese P------. She made them swear on their breviaries that they
would never utter a word, even at the stool of penitence, of what she
was about to confide to them. The ladies stood frozen with terror.
They admit, in their examination, that, having in mind the proud
nature of their Abbess, they expected to hear a confession of murder.
The Abbess said to them, quite simply and coolly:

"I have failed in all my duties; I am with child."

Donna Vittoria, the Prioress, deeply moved and troubled on account of
the ties of friendship which for so many years had bound her to Elena,
and not urged by any idle curiosity, exclaimed with tears in her eyes:

"And who is the bold wretch that has committed this crime?"

"I have not told even my confessor; judge whether I am likely to tell

The two ladies at once began to consider the best way of keeping this
fatal secret from the rest of the convent.  They decided first of all
that the Abbess's bed should be removed from her own room, at the very
centre of the building, to the Pharmacy, which had just been installed
in the most remote part of the Convent, on the third floor of the
great wing erected by Elena's generosity. It was in this spot that the
Abbess gave birth to a male child.  For three weeks the baker's wife
had been concealed in the Prioress's apartment. As this woman was
hurrying swiftly along the cloister carrying the child, it began to
cry, and in her terror she took shelter in the cellar. An hour later,
Donna Bernarda, assisted by the doctor, managed to open a little gate
in the garden wall; the baker's wife hurriedly left the Convent, and,
shortly afterwards, the town. On reaching the open country, still
pursued by a wild terror, she took refuge in a little cave to which
chance led her among some rocks. The Abbess wrote to Cesare del Bene,
the Bishop's confidant and head valet, who hastened to the cave
indicated; he was on horseback; he took the infant in his arms, and
set off at a gallop for Montefiascone. The child was baptised there in
the Church of Saint Margaret, and received the name of Alessandro. The
landlady of the local inn had procured a nurse, on whom Cesare
bestowed eight scudi: a crowd of women, who had gathered outside the
church during the ceremony of baptism, called out persistently to
Signor Cesare, demanding the name of the child's father.

"He is a great gentleman of Rome," Cesare told them, "who has allowed
himself to make free with a poor village girl like yourselves."

So saying, he vanished.

All was going well so far in that immense convent, peopled with more
than three hundred inquisitive women; no one had seen anything, no one
had heard anything. But the Abbess had given the doctor some handfuls
of sequins newly struck from the mint in Rome. The doctor gave several
of these pieces to the baker's wife. The woman was pretty and her
husband jealous; he searched in her box, found these pieces of gold
that shone so brightly, and, supposing them to be the price of her
shame, forced her, with a knife at her throat, to tell him from whence
they came. After some equivocation, the woman confessed the truth, and
peace was made. The couple then began to discuss the use to which they
should put so large a sum. The wife wished to pay various debts; but
the husband thought it better to buy a mule, which was done. This mule
created a scandal among the neighbours, who knew well the poverty of
the couple. All the gossips in the town, friend and foe alike, came in
turn to ask the baker's wife who was the generous lover who had
enabled her to buy a mule. The woman, losing her temper, sometimes
replied by telling the truth. One day when Cesare del Bene had been to
see the child and came to give an account of his visit to the Abbess,
she, although extremely unwell, dragged herself to the grating, and
reproached him for the want of discretion shewn by the agents whom he
employed. The Bishop, meanwhile, fell ill with fear; he wrote to his
brothers in Milan to inform them of the false accusation that was
being levelled against him: he appealed to them to come to his rescue.
Although seriously ill, he made up his mind to leave Castro; but,
before starting, he wrote to the Abbess:

"You know already that all that happened is public property. So, if
you have any interest in saving not only my reputation, but perhaps my
life, and in order to avoid a greater scandal, you might lay the blame
on Gianbattista Doleri, who died two days ago; so that if, in this
way, you do not repair your own honour, taine at least shall be no
longer imperilled."

The Bishop summoned Don Luigi, Confessor to the Monastery of Castro.

"Deliver this," he said, "into the Lady Abbess's own hands."

She, upon reading this atrocious missive, cried out in the hearing of
all that happened to be in the room:

"Thus the foolish virgins deserve to be treated who set the beauty of
the body above that of the soul."

The rumour of all that was occurring at Castro came rapidly to the
ears of the _terrible_ Cardinal Farnese (he had given himself that
reputation some years back, because he hoped, at the next conclave, to
have the support of the _zealous_ Cardinals). He at once gave orders
to the _podestà_ of Castro to have Bishop Cittadini arrested. All the
Bishop's servants, fearing the _question_, took flight.  Cesare del
Bene alone remained faithful to his master, and swore to him that he
would die in torments sooner than reveal anything that might damage
him. Cittadini, seeing himself under close guard in his own Palace,
wrote again to his brothers, who arrived in haste from Milan. They
found him detained in the Ronciglione prison.

I see from the Abbess's first examination that, while admitting her
crime, she denied having had relations with the Bishop; her paramour
had been Gianbattista Doleri, lawyer to the Convent.

On the 9th of September, 1575, Gregory XIII ordered that the trial
should proceed with all haste and with the utmost rigour. A criminal
judge, a fiscal and a commissary betook themselves to Castro and
Ronciglione. Cesare del Bene, the Bishop's head valet, admitted only
that he had taken an infant to a nurse. He was examined in the
presence of Donna Vittoria and Donna Bernarda. He was put to the
torture on consecutive days; his sufferings were acute; but, true to
his word, he admitted only what it was impossible to deny, and the
fiscal could extract nothing from him.

When it came to Donna Vittoria and Donna Bernarda, who had witnessed
the tortures inflicted on Cesare, they admitted all that they had
done. All the nuns were asked the name of the author of the crime; the
majority replied that they had heard it said that it was the Bishop.
One of the Sister Portresses repeated the offensive words which the
Abbess had used to the Bishop when shewing him out of the church. She
added: "When people talk in that tone, it means that they have long
been making love to one another. And indeed Monsignore, who as a rule
was remarkable for his excessive self-assurance, had quite a
shamefaced air as he left the church,"

One of the sisters, examined in front of the instruments of torture,
replied that the author of the crime must be the cat, because the
Abbess had it constantly in her arms and was always fondling it.
Another sister asserted that the author of the crime must be the wind,
because, on days when there was a wind, the Abbess was happy and in a
good humour; she would expose herself to the force of the wind on a
belvedere which she had had built on purpose; and, when anyone came to
ask a favour of her in this spot, she never refused it. The baker's
wife, the nurse, the gossips of Montefiascone, frightened by the
tortures which they had seen inflicted on Cesare, told the truth.

The young Bishop was ill or feigning illness at Ronci-glione, which
gave his brothers, supported by the credit and secret influence of
Signora de' Campireali, an opportunity of prostrating themselves more
than once at the Pope's feet, and asking him that the proceedings
might be suspended until the Bishop should have recovered his health.
Whereupon the terrible Cardinal Farnese increased the number of the
soldiers that were guarding him in his prison.  As the Bishop could
not be examined, the commissioners began all their sittings by
subjecting the Abbess to a fresh examination. One day, after her
mother had told her to have courage and to deny everything, she
admitted all.

"Why did you first of all inculpate Gianbattista Doleri?"

"Out of pity for the Bishop's cowardice, and, besides, if he succeeds
in saving his precious life, he will be able to provide for my son."

After this admission, the Abbess was confined in a room in the Convent
of Castro, the walls of which, as well as its vaulting, were eight
feet thick; the nuns would never speak of this dungeon without terror,
and it went by the name of the monks' room; watch was kept there over
the Abbess by three women.

The Bishop's health having slightly improved, three hundred _sbirri_
or soldiers came for him to Ronciglione, and he was transported to
Rome in a litter; he was confined in the prison called Corte Savella.
A few days later, the sisters also were taken to Rome; the Abbess was
placed in the Monastery of Santa Marta. Four sisters were inculpated:
Donna Vittoria and Donna Bernarda, the sister through whom messages
passed, and the portress who had heard the offensive words addressed
to the Bishop by the Abbess.

The Bishop was examined by the Auditor of the Chamber, one of the
chief personages in the judiciary. Torture was applied once again to
the unfortunate Cesare del Bene, who not only admitted nothing, but
said things which _caused inconvenience to the public ministry_; these
earned him a fresh dose of torture. This preliminary punishment was
inflicted similarly upon Donna Vittoria and Donna Bernarda. The Bishop
denied everything, with vituperation, but with a fine stubbornness; he
gave an account, in the fullest detail, of all that he had done upon
the three evenings which he was known to have spent with the Abbess.

Finally the Abbess and Bishop were confronted, and, albeit she
continued to tell the truth, she was subjected to torture. As she
repeated what she had always said from her first confession, the
Bishop, sticking to his part, covered her with abuse.

After a number of other measures, reasonable enough in principle, but
marred by that spirit of cruelty which, after the reigns of Charles V
and Philip II, prevailed too often in the Italian courts, the Bishop
was sentenced to undergo perpetual imprisonment in the Castel Sant'
Angelo; the Abbess to be detained for the term of her life in the
Convent of Santa Marta, where she was. But already Signora de'
Campireali, in the hope of saving her daughter, had set to work to
have a subterranean passage burrowed. This passage started from one of
those sewers which are relics of the splendour of ancient Rome, and
was to end in the deep cellar in which were deposited the mortal
remains of the nuns of Santa Marta. This passage, which was barely two
feet in width, was walled with planks, to keep back the earth on
either side, and was roofed, as it advanced, with pairs of planks
arranged like the sides of a capital A.

The tunnel was being bored about thirty feet below ground. The
important thing was to carry it in the right direction; at every
moment, wells and the foundations of old buildings obliged the workmen
to turn aside. Another great difficulty arose as to the disposal of
the earth, with which they did not know what to do; it appears that
they sprinkled it during the night over all the streets of Rome.  The
citizens were astonished to see such a quantity of earth, fallen, as
one might say, from heaven.

However large the sums Signora de' Campireali might spend in the
attempt to save her daughter's life, her subterranean passage would
doubtless have been discovered, but Pope Gregory XIII happened to die
in 1585, and disorder reigned as soon as the See was vacant.

Elena was far from happy at Santa Marta; one may imagine whether
common and distinctly poor nuns shewed zeal in annoying a very rich
Abbess convicted of such a crime. She was eagerly awaiting the outcome
of her mother's enterprise. But suddenly her heart was caught by
strange emotions. Six months had already passed since Fabrizio
Colonna, seeing the uncertain state of Gregory XIII's health, and
having great plans for the interregnum, had sent one of his officers
to Giulio Branciforte, now so widely known in the Spanish armies under
the name of Colonel Lizzara. He recalled him to Italy; Giulio was
burning to see his native land once more. He landed under a false name
at Pescara, a small port on the Adriatic below Chieti, in the Abruzzi,
and j ourneyed over the mountains to la Petrella. The Prince's joy
caused general astonishment. He told Giulio that he had sent for him
to make him his successor and to give him the command of his troops.
To which Branciforte replied that, from the military point of view, it
was no longer worth while to continue, as he was easily able to prove;
if Spain ever seriously wished to do so, in six months, and at small
cost to herself, she could wipe out all the soldiers of fortune in

"However," young Branciforte added, "if you wish it, Prince, I am
ready to take the field. You will always find in me a successor to the
gallant Ramicelo, who was killed at the Ciampi."

Before Giulio's arrival, the Prince had ordered, as he alone could
order, that no one at la Petrella should dare to speak of Castro or of
the Abbess's trial; the penalty of death, without hope of respite, was
held out as a deterrent from any rash word. In the course of the
affectionate greetings with which he welcomed Branciforte, he asked
him on no account to go to Albano without himself, and his method of
carrying out the expedition was to occupy the town with a thousand of
his men, and to post an advance guard of twelve hundred on the road to
Rome. One may imagine poor Giulio's state when the Prince, having sent
for old Scotti, who was still alive, to the house in which he had
established his headquarters, made him come up to the room in which he
himself was sitting with Branciforte.  As soon as the two old friends
had flung themselves into each other's arms:

"Now, my poor Colonel," he said to Giulio, "be prepared for the

Whereupon he snuffed the candle and left the room, turning the key on
the friends.

Next day Giulio, who preferred not to leave his room, sent to the
Prince to ask leave to return to la Petrella, and not to see him for
some days. But his messenger returned to say that the Prince had
disappeared, with all his troops. During the night, he had heard of
the death of Gregory XIII; he had forgotten his friend Giulio and was
scouring the country. There remained with Giulio only some thirty men
belonging to Ranuccio's old company.  The reader is aware that in
those days, during a vacancy of the See, the law no longer ran,
everyone thought of gratifying his own passions, and there was no
force but brute force; that is why, before the end of the day, Prince
Colonna had already hanged more than fifty of his enemies.

As for Giulio, albeit he had not forty men with him, he made bold to
march upon Rome.

All the servants of the Abbess of Castro had remained faithful to her;
they were lodged in humble houses near the Convent of Santa Marta. The
death agony of Gregory XIII had lasted for more than a week; Signora
de' Campireali was eagerly awaiting the troubled days that would
follow his death before attacking the final fifty yards of her tunnel.
As it had to pass through the cellars of several inhabited houses, she
was greatly afraid lest she might be unable to keep from public
knowledge the completion of her undertaking.

On the second day after Branciforte's arrival at la Petrella, the
three of Giulio's old _bravi_, whom Elena had taken into her service,
appeared to have gone mad.  Although everyone knew only too well that
she was in the strictest isolation, and guarded by nuns who hated her,
Ugone, one of the _bravi_, came to the gate of the Convent and made
the strangest request that he should be allowed to see his mistress,
and without delay. He was refused admission and turned from the door.
In his desperation, the man remained outside, and began to distribute
baiocchi (copper coins) among all the persons employed in the service
of the Convent who passed in or out, saying to them these precise
words: "_Rejoice tenth me; Signor Giulio Branciforte has arrived, he
is alive: tell this to your friends_."

Ugone's two companions spent the day in bringing him fresh supplies of
_baiocchi_, which they continued to distribute day and night, always
repeating the same words, until there was not one _baiocco_ left. But
the three _bravi_, taking turns, continued none the less to keep guard
at the gate of the Convent of Santa Marta, still addressing to all
that passed them the same words, followed by an obsequious salute:
"_Signor Giulio has arrived_," etc.  These worthy fellows' plan was
successful: less than thirty-six hours after the giving of the first
_baiocco_, poor Elena, down in her cell, in solitary confinement, knew
that _Giulio was alive_; the words threw her into a sort of frenzy:

"Oh, my mother!" she cried, "what harm you have wrought me!"

A few hours later, the astonishing news was confirmed by little
Marietta, who, by making a sacrifice of all her golden ornaments,
obtained leave to accompany the sister who took the prisoner her
meals. With tears of joy Elena flung herself into her arms.

"This is very pleasant," she said to her, "but I shall not be with you
much longer."

"Indeed no!" said Marietta. "I am sure that before this Conclave is
ended, your imprisonment will be changed to an ordinary banishment."

"Ah, my dear, to see Giulio again! And to see him, with this guilt on
my head!"

In the middle of the third night after this conversation, part of the
floor of the church fell in with a loud noise; the nuns of Santa Marta
thought that their convent was going to collapse. Their commotion was
extreme, everyone was calling out that there had been an earthquake.
About an hour after the subsidence of the marble pavement of the
church, Signora de"Campireali, preceded by the three _bravi_ in
Elena's service, made her way into the dungeon by the underground

"Victory, victory, Signora!" cried the _bravi_.

Elena was in a mortal fear; she thought that Giulio Branciforte was
with them. She was quite reassured, and her features resumed their
stern expression when the men told her that they were escorting
Signora de' Campireali, and that Giulio was still at Albano, which he
had just invaded with several thousand troops.

She waited for some moments, and then Signora de' Campireali appeared;
she was walking with great difficulty, on the arm of her _scudiere_,
who was in full costume, with sword on hip; but his gorgeous coat was
all soiled with earth.

"Oh, my dear Elena, I have come to rescue you!" cried Signora de'

"And how do you know that I wish to be rescued?"

Signora de' Campireali was left speechless; she stared helplessly at
her daughter; she seemed greatly agitated.

"Well, my dear Elena," she said at length, "fate compels me to confess
to you an action which was perhaps natural enough, after the
misfortunes that had befallen our family, but of which I repent, and
beg that you will forgive me for it: Giulio... Branciforte... is

"And it is because he is alive that I have no wish to live."

Signora de' Campireali did not at first grasp her daughter's meaning,
then she besought her with the most tender supplications; but she
could obtain no answer. Elena had turned to her crucifix and was
praying without listening to her. In vain, for a whole hour, did
Signora de' Campireali make every effort to win from her a word or a
look. At length, her daughter, losing patience, said to her:

"It was beneath the marble of this crucifix that his letters were
hidden, in my little room at Albano; it had been better to let my
father stab me! Go, and leave some gold with me."

As Signora de' Campireali tried to continue speaking to her daughter,
disregarding the signs of alarm shewn by her _scudiere_, Elena lost

"Let me, at least, have an hour of freedom; you have poisoned my life,
you wish to poison my death as well."

"We shall still have command of the passage for two or three hours; I
venture to hope that you will change your mind!" exclaimed Signora de'
Campireali, bursting into tears.

And she made her way out by the underground passage.

"Ugone, stay with me," said Elena to one of her _bravi_, "and see you
are well armed, my lad, for you may have to defend me. Let me see your
dirk, your sword, your dagger."

The old soldier shewed her these weapons, all in good condition.

"Good; now wait there, outside my cell; I am going to write Giulio a
long letter which you will hand to him yourself; I do not wish it to
pass through any hands but yours, having nothing with which to seal
it. You may read the whole of the letter. Put in your pockets all the
gold my mother has left there, I need for myself only fifty sequins;
place them on my bed."

Having said these words, Elena sat down to write.

"I have not the least doubt of you, my dear Giulio; if I take my
departure, it is because I should die of grief in your arms, at the
sight of what would have been my happiness, had I not committed a sin.
You are not to imagine that I have ever loved any creature in the
world after you; far from it, my heart was filled with the bitterest
contempt for the man whom I admitted to my room. My sin was solely one
of distraction, and, if you like, of wantonness.  Think that my
spirit, greatly weakened after the futile attempt which I made at la
Petrella, where the Prince whom I revered, because you loved him,
received me so cruelly; think, I say, that my spirit, greatly
weakened, had been assailed by twelve years of falsehood.  Everything
round me was lying and false, and I knew it.  I received first of all
some thirty letters from you; imagine the rapture with which, at
first, I used to tear them open.  But, as I read them, my heart froze.
I examined the writing, I recognised your hand, but not your heart.
Think that this first falsehood cankered the essence of my life, so
that I could open a letter in your writing without any pleasure! The
detestable announcement of your death finally killed in me anything
that might yet survive from the happy days of our youth. My first
intention, as you can well understand, was to go to see with my eyes
and touch with my hands the Mexican shore upon which they said that
the savages had massacred you; had I carried out that idea... we
should be happy new, for, in Madrid, whatever the number and
craftiness of the spies that a watchful hand might have managed to
dispose round about me, as I myself would have appealed to every heart
in which there remained a trace of pity and of goodness, it is
probable that I should have arrived at the truth; for already, my
Giulio, your gallant deeds had attracted the attention of the whole
world towards you, and perhaps someone in Madrid knew that you were
Branciforte.  Would you like me to tell you what prevented our
happiness?  First of all, the memory of the atrocious, humiliating
reception the Prince gave me at la Petrella; what a chain of obstacles
to surmount between Castro and Mexico! You see, my heart had already
lost its motive power. Then I had an impulse of vanity. I had erected
huge buildings in the Convent, in order to be able to take as my own
room the portress's lodge, in which you took shelter on the night of
the assault. One day, I was looking at the ground which, for my sake,
you had watered with your blood; I heard a contemptuous utterance,
raised my head, saw spiteful faces; to avenge myself, I decided to
become Abbess.  My mother, who knew quite well that you were alive,
made heroic efforts to secure that preposterous nomination. The
position was nothing, for me, but a source of trouble; it completed
the debasement of my nature; I took pleasure often in proving my power
by the suffering of others; I committed acts of injustice. I saw
myself, at the age of thirty, virtuous according to the world, rich,
respected, and yet completely wretched. Then there appeared that poor
man, who was goodness itself, but foolishness personified.  The effect
of his foolishness was that I bore with his first suggestions. My
heart had been made so wretched by everything that surrounded me after
your departure, that it had no longer the strength to resist the
slightest temptation.  Shall I confess to you something really
indelicate?  Yes, for I remember that everything is permitted to the
dead. When you read these lines, the worms will be devouring this
so-called beauty, which should have been all yours. Well, I must out
with this matter which distresses me; I did not see why I should not
make trial of the coarser side of love, like all our Roman ladies; I
had a lascivious thought, but I was never able to give myself to that
man without a feeling of horror and disgust which destroyed all the
pleasure. I saw you always at my side, in the garden of our palazzo at
Albano, when the Madonna inspired in you that thought, apparently so
noble, but one that has, after my mother, been the bane of our lives.
You were not at all threatening, but tender and good as you always
were, you looked at me, then I felt moments of anger with that other
man, and went so far as to beat him with all my strength. This is the
whole truth, my dear Giulio: I did not wish to die without telling you
it, and I thought also that perhaps this conversation with you might
take away from me the idea of dying. It makes me see all the more
clearly what would have been my joy on greeting you again, had I kept
myself worthy of you. I order you to live and to continue that
military career which caused me so much j oy when I heard of your
success. What would my joy have been, great God, had I received your
letters, especially after the battle of Achenne! Live, and recall
often to your mind the memory of Ranuccio, killed at the Ciampi, and
that of Elena, who, not to read a reproach in your eyes, lies dead at
Santa Marta."

Having written this, Elena went up to the old soldier, whom she found
sleeping; she took his dirk from him, without his noticing the loss,
then aroused him.

"I have finished," she told him; "I am afraid of our enemies' seizing
the passage. Go at once, take my letter which is on the table, and
give it yourself to Giulio, _yourself_, do you understand? In addition
to that, give him this handkerchief, tell him that I love him no more
at this moment than I have always loved him, always, remember!"

Ugone was on his feet but made no move.

"Off with you!"

"Signora, have you really decided? Signor Giulio loves you so!"

"And I too, I love him, take the letter and give it to him yourself."

"Very well, may God bless you as you deserve!"

Ugone went and speedily returned; he found Elena dead; the dirk was in
her heart.



Unfortunately for myself as for the reader, this is not a work of
fiction, but the faithful translation of a most serious narrative
written at Padua in December, 1585.

Some years ago I happened to be in Mantua; I was in search of sketches
and small pictures in keeping with my small income, but I wanted only
the work of painters earlier than the year 1600; about that date
originality in Italian art, already greatly imperilled by the seizure
of Florence in 1530, finally perished.

Instead of pictures, an aged patrician of great wealth and great
avarice offered to sell me, at an extremely high price, some old
manuscripts yellow with age; I asked leave to look through them; he
consented, adding that he trusted to my honesty, that I would retain
no memory of such spicy anecdotes as I might find, if I did not
purchase his manuscripts.

On these terms, which appealed to me, I perused, to the great
detriment of my eyesight, three or four hundred volumes in which had
been jumbled together, two or three centuries ago, accounts of tragic
adventures, letters challenging people to duels, treaties of peace
between neighbouring nobles, memoranda upon every sort of subject,
etc., etc. The venerable owner asked an enormous price for his
manuscripts. After duly bargaining with him I acquired for a
considerable sum the right to have copies made of certain stories
which appealed to me and which illustrate Italian customs in the
sixteenth century. I have twenty-two folio volumes of them, and it is
one of these stories, faithfully translated, which the reader will
find in the following pages, provided that he is endowed with
patience.  I know the history of the sixteenth century in Italy, and
am of opinion that what follows is perfectly true. I have taken pains
to arrange that the translation of that old Italian style, grave,
direct, supremely obscure, and loaded with allusions to the things and
ideas that occupied the world under the Pontificate of Sixtus V (in
1585) should shew no traces of the fine literature of to-day, or of
the ideas of our unprejudiced age.

The unknown author of the manuscript is a circumspect person, he never
judges any action, never leads up to it; his sole business is to
relate things truthfully. If now and then he is unconsciously
picturesque, that is because, in 1585, vanity did not enwrap a man's
every action in a halo of affectation; he felt that he could exert an
influence over his neighbour only by expressing himself with the
utmost possible clarity. In the year 1585, with the exception of the
fools kept at courts, or of poets, no one dreamed of making himself
pleasant in speech. People had not yet learned to say: "I will die at
Your Majesty's feet," when they had just sent out for post horses with
which to fly the country; this was perhaps the one form of treachery
that was not in use. People spoke little, and everyone paid the most
careful attention to what was said to him.

And so, gracious reader, look not here for a quick and savoury style,
sparkling with up to date allusions to the latest fashions in
feelings, do not, above all, expect the captivating emotions of a
novel by George Sand; that great writer would have made a masterpiece
of the life and misfortunes of Vittoria Accoramboni. The sincere
account which I present to you can claim only the most modest
advantages of history. When it so happens that, travelling post,
alone, as night is falling, your thoughts turn to the great art of
knowing the human heart, you may take as a basis for your conclusions
the story told in the following pages. The author says everything,
explains everything, leaves nothing to the reader's imagination; he
wrote twelve days after the death of the heroine.  [Footnote: The
Italian manuscript is deposited at the office of the _Revue des Deux

Vittoria Accoramboni was born of an extremely noble family, in a small
town in the Duchy of Urbino, named Agubio. From her childhood, she was
everywhere singled out, on account of her rare and extraordinary
beauty; but this beauty was the least of her charms: nothing was
lacking of those qualities which make one admire a girl of exalted
birth; but nothing else was so remarkable in her, or as one might say
nothing seemed so miraculous, amid so many extraordinary qualities, as
a certain altogether charming grace which, at the first glance, won
her the hearts and allegiance of all beholders. And this simplicity
which gave authority to her slightest word was troubled by no
suspicion of artifice; from the first one felt confidence in a lady
endowed with such extraordinary beauty. One might, with a superhuman
effort, have resisted this enchantment, had one merely seen her; but,
if one heard her speak, if especially one was privileged to hold any
conversation with her, it was quite impossible to escape so
extraordinary a charm.

Many young gentlemen of the city of Rome, where her father lived, and
where one still sees his palazzo in the Piazza Rusticucci, near Saint
Peter's, sought to win her hand. There was much jealousy, and indeed
rivalry, but in the end Vittoria's parents chose Felice Peretti,
nephew of Cardinal Montalto, now Pope Sixtus V, whom God preserve.

Felice, the son of Camilla Peretti, the Cardinal's sister, was
originally named Francesco Mignucci; he took the names of Felice
Peretti when he was formally adopted by his uncle.

Vittoria, on entering the Peretti family, took with her, unawares,
that superiority which may be called fatal, and which accompanied her
everywhere; so that one might say that, in order not to adore her, one
must never have set eyes on her.  [Footnote: One sees at Milan, if I
remember rightly, in the Ambrosian Library, sonnets full of grace and
feeling, and other pieces of poetry, the work of Vittoria Accoramboni.
Sonnets of no little merit were composed at the time upon her strange
fate. It appears that her intelligence was equal to her beauty and her

The love that her husband felt for her was akin to madness; her
mother-in-law, Camilla, and Cardinal Montalto himself, seemed to have
no other occupation in the world than that of guessing Vittoria's
wishes, so as to seek at once to gratify them. All Rome marvelled to
see how this Cardinal, the modest limits of whose fortune were as well
known as his horror of all forms of luxury, found so unfailing a
source of pleasure in anticipating Vittoria's every wish. Young,
brilliantly beautiful, adored by all, she could not help having, at
times, some extremely costly fancies. Vittoria received from her new
relatives jewels of the greatest price, pearls, in short all the
rarest treasures of the goldsmiths of Rome, who at that time were very
well supplied.

For love of this charming niece, Cardinal Montalto, so famous for his
severity, treated Vittoria's brothers as though they had been his own
nephews. Ottavio Accoram-boni, as soon as he had completed his
thirtieth year, was, on the representation of Cardinal Montalto,
nominated by the Duke of Urbino and created, by Pope Gregory XIII,
Bishop of Fossombrone; Marcello Accoramboni, a young man of fiery
courage, accused of a number of crimes, and zealously pursued by the
_corte_, [Footnote: This was the armed body responsible for the public
safety, the police and detective force of the year 1580. They were
commanded by a captain styled Bargello, who was personally responsible
for the execution of the orders issued by Monsignore the Governor of
Rome (the Chief of Police).] had with great difficulty escaped more
than one prosecution which might have cost him his life. Honoured with
the Cardinal's protection, he was able to recapture some sort of

A third brother of Vittoria, Giulio Accoramboni, was admitted by
Cardinal Alessandro Sforza to the highest honours at his court, as
soon as Cardinal Montalto had proffered the request.

In a word, if men know how to measure their happiness, not by the
boundless insatiability of their desires, but by the real enjoyment of
the advantages which they already possess, Vittoria's marriage to the
nephew of Cardinal Montalto might have seemed to the Accoramboni the
acme of human happiness. But the insensate desire for vast and
uncertain advantages is capable of plunging the men most richly
blessed with fortune's favours into strange and perilous channels of

And very true it is that if any of Vittoria's relatives, as was widely
suspected in Rome, helped, in his desire for an ampler fortune, to rid
her of her husband, he very soon afterwards had occasion to realize
how much wiser it would have been to content himself with the moderate
benefits of a pleasant fortune, and one that was so soon to rise to
the very summit of what human ambition can desire.

While Vittoria was living thus like a queen in her own house, one
evening when Felice Peretti had just retired to bed with his wife, a
letter was handed to him by a certain Caterina, a native of Bologna
and Vittoria's waiting woman. This letter had been brought by a
brother of Caterina, Domenico Acquaviva, surnarned _il Mancino_ (the
left-handed). This man had been banished from Rome for various crimes;
but, at Caterina's request, Felice had procured for him the powerful
protection of his uncle the Cardinal, and the _Mancino_ frequently
came to the house, Felice placing great confidence in him.

The letter in question purported to be written by Mar-cello
Accoramboni, of all Vittoria's brothers the one that her husband loved
most dearly. He lived as a rule in hiding, out at Rome; at times,
however, he took the risk of entering the city, and then found a place
of refuge in Felice's house.

In the letter delivered at this unusual hour, Marcello appealed for
help to his brother-in-law Felice Peretti; he implored him to come to
his assistance, adding that, for an affair of the most urgent
importance, he was waiting for him by the Montecavallo palace.

Felice informed his wife of the contents of the strange letter that
had been brought to him, then put on his clothes, taking no weapon but
his sword. Accompanied by a single servant who carried a lighted
torch, he was about to leave the house when he found his way barred by
his mother Camilla, and all the women of the house, including Vittoria
herself; they all besought him, most urgently, not to leave the house
at that late hour. As he did not give ear to their prayers, they fell
on their knees, and, with tears in their eyes, implored him to listen.

These women, and Camilla especially, had been struck with terror by
the accounts of the strange occurrences that were reported every day,
and remained unpunished during the Pontificate of Gregory XIII, a time
of incessant trouble and unparalleled violence. They were further
struck by this consideration: Marcello Accoramboni, when he ventured
to make his way into Rome, was not in the habit of sending for Felice,
and such an action, at that time of night, seemed to them quite out of
the question.

Filled with all the fire of his age, Felice paid no heed to these
grounds for alarm; but, when he learned that the letter had been
brought by the _Mancino_, a man to whom he was greatly attached and
had been of service, nothing could stop him, and he stepped out of the

He was preceded, as has been said, by a single servant carrying a
lighted torch; but the unfortunate young man had scarcely begun to
ascend the Montecavallo when he fell, shot by three arquebuses. His
assailants, seeing him on the ground, flung themselves upon him, and
stabbed him again and again with daggers, until he appeared to be
quite dead. Immediately the fatal tidings were conveyed to Felice's
mother and wife, and through them reached the ears of the Cardinal his

The Cardinal, without moving a feature, without betraying the
slightest emotion, promptly called for his clothes, dressed himself,
and then commended himself to God, as also that poor soul (taken thus
unawares). He next went to his niece, and, with admirable gravity and
an air of profound peace, succeeded in restraining the womanly cries
and lamentations which were beginning to ring through the house. His
authority over the women was so effective that from that moment, and
even when the body was being carried out of the house, nothing was to
be seen or heard that in the least degree exceeded what occurs in the
best regulated families on the occasion of the most natural deaths. As
for Cardinal Montalto himself, no one could discover in him the signs,
even in a modified form, of the most ordinary grief; nothing was
altered in the order and outward show of his existence. Of this Rome
was speedily convinced, after observing with her customary curiosity
the slightest movements of a man whose feelings had been so profoundly

It so happened that on the day after Felice's death the Consistory, or
Court of Cardinals, was summoned to meet at the Vatican. There was not
a man in the city who did not suppose that on this first day, at
least, Cardinal Montalto would excuse himself from this public
function.  For there he would have to meet the gaze of so many and
such curious spectators. The slightest movements would be observed of
that natural weakness which it is always so desirable to conceal when
from an eminent position one aspires to another more eminent still;
for everyone will agree that it is not fitting that he whose ambition
it is to exalt himself above the rest of mankind should shew himself
to be human like the rest.

But the persons who held these ideas were doubly mistaken, for in the
first place, following his custom, Cardinal Montalto was among the
first to appear in the Hall of the Consistory, and secondly it was
impossible for the most discerning to discover in him any sign
whatsoever of human sensibility. On the contrary, by the replies which
he made to those of his fellow Cardinals who, in view of so painful an
event, sought to offer him words of consolation, he succeeded in
filling everyone with amazement. The constancy and apparent immobility
of his nature under the shock of so fearful a tragedy at once became
the talk of the town.

True it is that at this same Consistory certain persons, more
conversant with the arts of the courtier, ascribed this apparent
insensibility not to a want of feeling but to a wealth of
dissimulation; and this point of view was shortly afterwards adopted
by the mass of courtiers, for it was evidently to his advantage not to
shew himself too deeply injured by an outrage the author of which was
doubtless highly placed and might perhaps, later on, be able to bar
the way to the supreme dignity.

Whatever might be the cause of this evident and complete
insensibility, one thing certain is that it affected the whole of Rome
and the court of Gregory XIII with a sort of stupor. But, to return to
the Consistory, when, all the Cardinals being assembled, the Pope
himself entered the hall, he at once turned his eyes towards Cardinal
Montalto, and tears were seen on His Holiness's cheeks; as for the
Cardinal, his features shewed no sign of departure from their normal

The astonishment waxed twofold when, during this same Consistory,
Cardinal Montalto having gone up in his turn to kneel before the
throne of His Holiness, and to render an account to him of the matters
under his charge, the Pope, before allowing him to begin, was unable
to restrain his own tears. When His Holiness was at length able to
speak, he sought to console the Cardinal by promising him that prompt
and stern justice would be done upon the authors of so appalling an
outrage. But the Cardinal, after most humbly thanking His Holiness,
begged him not to order any inquiry into what had occurred, protesting
that, for his own part, he willingly forgave the author of the crime,
whoever he might be. And immediately after this petition, expressed in
the fewest possible words, the Cardinal passed to a detailed account
of the business for which he was responsible, as though nothing out of
the common had occurred.

The eyes of all the Cardinals present at the Consistory were fastened
upon the Pope and upon Montalto; and although it is certainly most
difficult to deceive the practised eye of a courtier, yet none of them
dared say that Cardinal Montalto's face had betrayed the slightest
emotion on witnessing, at such close quarters, the grief of His
Holiness, who, tell the truth, was almost out of his mind. This
amazing insensibility on the part of Cardinal Montalto never relaxed
during the whole of the time occupied by his duty with His Holiness.
Indeed, the Pope himself was impressed by this, and, the Consistory at
an end, could not help remarking to the Cardinal of San Sisto, his
favourite nephew:

"_Veramente, costui è un gran frate_!" (Truly, this fellow is a
thorough friar!) [Footnote: An allusion to the hypocrisy which their
critics suppose to be frequent among friars. Sixtus V had been a
mendicant friar, and persecuted in his order. See his Life, by
Gregorio Leti, an amusing historian, and no more mendacious than any
other.  Felice Peretti was murdered in 1580; his uncle was created
Pope in 1585.]

Cardinal Montalto's mode of behaviour differed in no respect during
the period that followed. As is the custom, he received the visits of
condolence of the Cardinals, Prelates and Princes of Rome, and with
none of these, whatever their existing relations, did he allow himself
to give utterance to a single word of grief or lamentation.  With all
of them, after a brief commentary on the instability of human affairs,
confirmed and fortified by sentences and texts taken from the Holy
Scriptures or from the Fathers, he promptly changed the subject, and
began to speak of the news of the town or of the private affairs of
the person who was conversing with him, exactly as though he had
wished to comfort his comforters.

Rome was particularly curious to know what would happen during the
visit that would have to be paid him by Prince Paolo Giordano Orsini,
Duke of Bracciano, to whom common report ascribed the death of Felice
Peretti. The general opinion was that Cardinal Montalto would not be
able to remain face to face with the Prince, and engaged in private
conversation with him, without allowing some indication of his true
feelings to appear.

At the moment when the Prince arrived at the Cardinal's, the crowd in
the street and round the door was enormous; a vast number of courtiers
filled every room in the house, so great was the curiosity to study
the two men's faces.  But on neither one nor the other could any of
the observers distinguish anything out of the common. Cardinal
Montalto conformed to everything that the rules of behaviour at court
prescribed; he imparted to his face a most remarkable air of hilarity,
and his tone in addressing the Prince was full of affability.

Immediately afterwards, as he stepped into his coach, Prince Paolo,
finding himself alone with his intimate courtiers, could not help
saying with a laugh: "_In fatto, è vero che costui è un gran frate_!"
(Indeed, it is true, the fellow is a thorough friar!) as though he had
wished to confirm the truth of the words let fall by the Pope a few
days earlier.

Wise men have thought that the conduct observed in these circumstances
by Cardinal Montalto paved the way for him to the throne; for many
people formed the opinion of him that, whether by nature or from
virtue he could not or would not do harm to anyone, even when he had
every reason to be angry.

Felice Peretti had left nothing in writing with regard to his wife;
consequently, she was obliged to return to her own home. Cardinal
Montalto handed over to her, before her departure, the clothes,
jewels, and, generally speaking, all the gifts that she had received
while the wife of his nephew.

On the third day after the death of Felice Peretti, Vittoria,
accompanied by her mother, went to live in the palazzo of Prince
Orsini. Some said that these ladies were led to adopt this course by
anxiety as to their personal safety, as they appeared to be threatened
by the _corte_ [Footnote: The _corte_ dared not venture into a
Prince's palazzo.] with a charge of having _consented_ to the homicide
that had been committed, or of having at least had cognisance of it
beforehand; others thought (and what occurred later on seemed to
confirm this view) that they were led to adopt this course in order to
bring about the marriage, the Prince having promised Vittoria that he
would marry her as soon as she should be no longer tied to a husband.

Anyhow, neither then nor later was it ever definitely known who had
been responsible for the death of Felice, although everyone had his
suspicions of someone else.  Most people, however, set the murder down
to Prince Orsini; it was generally admitted that he had a passion for
Vittoria, he had shewn signs of this which could not be mistaken; and
the marriage that followed was a strong proof, for the bride was so
inferior in station that only the tyranny of amorous passion could
raise her to a plane of matrimonial equality.  [Footnote: Prince
Orsini's first wife, by whom he had a son named Virginio, was a sister
of Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and of the Cardinal Ferdinand
de' Medici. He put her to death, with the consent of her brothers,
because she had had a love affair. Such were the laws of honour
conveyed to Italy by the Spaniards. The unhallowed loves of a woman
were as grave an offence to her brothers as to her husband.]

The common herd were by no means discouraged in this attitude by a
letter addressed to the Governor of Rome which was made public a few
days after the crime. This letter purported to have been written by
Cesare Palantieri, a young man of a fiery spirit who had been banished
from the city.

In this letter, Palantieri said that it was unnecessary for His Most
Illustrious Worship to give himself the trouble of seeking elsewhere
for the author of the death of Felice Peretti, since he himself had
procured his assassination in consequence of certain differences which
had arisen between them some time earlier.

Many people thought that the murder had not been committed without the
consent of the Accoramboni family; they accused Vittoria's brothers,
who were supposed to have been led astray by the desire for an
alliance with so powerful and wealthy a prince. Marcello in particular
was accused, on the strength of the letter which had made the
unfortunate Felice leave his house. Harsh things were said of Vittoria
herself, when people saw that she consented to go and live in the
palazzo Orsini as a future bride, so soon after the death of her
husband. It was highly improbable, they suggested, that two people
would come like that, in the twinkling of an eye, to a hand-to-hand
encounter, if they had not, for some time at least, been engaged with
weapons of longer range.  [Footnote: An allusion to the custom of
fighting with a sword and a dagger.]

The inquiry into the murder was conducted by Mon-signor Portici,
Governor of Rome, by order of Gregory XIII. All that one gathers from
it is that Domenico, sur-named Mancino, arrested by the _corte_,
confesses, without being put to the question (_tormentato_), in his
second examination, dated February 24th, 1582:

"That Vittoria's mother was responsible for everything, and that she
was assisted by the maid from Bologna, who, immediately after the
murder, took refuge in the citadel of Bracciano" (which belonged to
Prince Orsini, and into which the _corte_ would not dare to
penetrate), "and that the instruments of the crime were Macchione of
Gubbio and Paolo Barca of Bracciano, _lancie spezzate_" (soldiers) "of
a gentleman whose name, for fit and proper reasons, has been omitted."

To these _fit and proper reasons_ were added, I imagine, the
entreaties of Cardinal Montalto, who persistently begged that the
inquiry should be carried no farther, and indeed there was no more
talk of a prosecution. The Mancino was released from prison with the
_precetto_ (order) to return at once to his own home, on pain of
death, and never to leave it again without express permission.  The
enlargement of this man occurred in the year 1583, on the feast of
Saint Louis, and as that day was also Cardinal Montalto's birthday,
the coincidence confirms my belief that it was at his request that the
matter was thus brought to an end. Under so weak a government as that
of Gregory XIII, a prosecution of that sort was liable to have the
most disagreeable consequences without any compensating advantage.

The activities of the _corte_ were thus suspended, but Pope Gregory
XIII still declined to give his consent to the marriage of Prince
Paolo Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, to the widow Accoramboni. His
Holiness, having sentenced the lady to a sort of imprisonment, gave
her and the Prince a _precetto_ not to make any contract of marriage
with one another without express permission from himself or his

In due course Gregory XIII died (early in 1585), and the legal experts
consulted by Prince Paolo Orsini having given the opinion that the
_precetto_ was annulled by the demise of the sovereign who had imposed
it, the Prince decided to marry Vittoria before the new Pope should be
elected. But the marriage could not be celebrated so soon as the
Prince wished, partly because he was anxious to have the consent of
Vittoria's brothers, and it so happened that Ottavio Accoramboni,
Bishop of Fossombrone, refused absolutely to give his consent, and
partly because it was not expected that the election of a successor to
Gregory XIII would be so soon completed. In fact the marriage was
solemnised only on the day on which the Papacy was conferred upon
Cardinal Montalto, the person so deeply interested in this affair,
that is to say on the 24th of April, 1585, this coincidence being
either accidental on the Prince's part, or deliberate, he being glad
of an opportunity to shew that he was no more afraid of the _corte_
under the new Pope than he had been under Gregory XIII.

This marriage caused a profound shock to Sixtus V (for such was the
name selected by Cardinal Montalto); he had already discarded the
outlook upon life appropriate to a friar, and had raised his mind to
the level of the exalted rank in which God had now placed him.

The Pope, however, shewed no sign of anger; only, Prince Orsini,
having called upon him that same day with the rest of the Roman
nobility to kiss his foot, and with the secret intention of trying to
read, on the Holy Father's face, what he had to expect or to fear from
a man hitherto so little known, discovered that it was no laughing
matter. The new Pope having gazed at the Prince in a singular fashion,
and not uttered a single word in reply to the compliments which he
addressed to him, the Prince made up his mind to find out without more
ado what were His Holiness's intentions with regard to himself.

Through the channel of Ferdinand, Cardinal de' Medici (the brother of
his first wife), and of the Spanish Catholic-Ambassador, he begged and
obtained of the Pope an audience in his private chamber: there he
delivered to His Holiness a studied speech, and, without making any
reference to the past, congratulated him on his new dignity, and
offered him as a most faithful vassal and servant all his possessions
and all his forces.

The Pope [Footnote: Sixtus V, elected Pope in 1585 at the age of
sixty-eight, reigned for five years and four months: there is a
striking similarity between him and Napoleon.] heard him with unusual
seriousness, and finally replied that no one was more anxious than
himself that the life and actions of Paolo Giordano Orsini should for
the future be worthy of the Orsini blood and of a true Christian
knight; that as for what he had been in the past in his relations with
the Holy See and with the Pope's own person, no one could say more to
him than his own conscience; that nevertheless he, the Prince, might
be assured of one thing, namely, that just as he, the Pope, willingly
forgave him anything that he might have done against Felice Peretti
and against Felice Cardinal Montalto, he would never forgive him what
in future he might do against Pope Sixtus; consequently he ordered him
to proceed at once to expel from his household and from his domains
all the _banditi_ (outlaws) and evildoers to whom, until then, he had
given asylum.

Sixtus V was a singularly effective speaker, whatever tone he might
adopt; but when he was angry and threatening, one would have said that
his eyes flashed lightning.  One thing certain is that Prince Paolo
Orsini, accustomed all his life to be feared by Popes, was led to
think so seriously of his own position by the Pope's way of speaking,
the like of which he had not heard for thirteen years, that no sooner
had he left His Holiness's Palace than he hastened to Cardinal de'
Medici to tell him what had occurred.  After which he decided, on the
Cardinal's advice, to send packing, without a moment's delay, all the
fugi-' tives from justice to whom he had given asylum in his palazzo
and on his estates, and began to look about for some honourable
pretext for leaving the territory subjected to the power of so
resolute a Pontiff.

It should be explained that Prince Paolo Orsini had become
extraordinarily stout; his legs were thicker than an ordinary man's
whole body, and one of these enormous legs was afflicted with the
disease known as the lupa, or wolf, so called because it has to be fed
upon an abundance of fresh meat which is applied to the affected part;
otherwise the violent distemper, finding no dead flesh to devour,
would begin to attack the living flesh that surrounds it.

The Prince made this malady an excuse for going to the celebrated
baths of Abano, near Padua, on territory belonging to the Venetian
Republic; he set off with his new bride about the middle of June.
Abano was a safe haven for him, since, for a great many years past,
the House of Orsini had been tied to the Venetian Republic by a chain
of mutual services.

Having reached this land of safety, the Prince's one thought was to
combine the delights of several places of residence; and, with this
object, he took three magnificent palazzi: one at Venice, the palazzo
Dandolo, on the Rio della Zacca; the second at Padua, and this was the
palazzo Foscarini, on the splendid _piazza_ called the Arena; for his
third abode he chose Salo, on the charming shore of Lake Garda: this
had originally belonged to the Sforza Pallavicini.

The Signori of Venice (the Government of the Republic) learned with
pleasure of the arrival within their borders of so great a Prince, and
at once offered him a most noble _condotta_ (that is to say a
considerable sum paid annually, which the Prince would be expected to
spend on raising a body of two or three thousand men, of whom he would
assume the command). The Prince hastily rejected this offer: he sent
word to the Senators that albeit, by a natural inclination and one
hereditary in his family, he felt himself drawn to the service of the
Most Serene Republic, yet, inasmuch as he was for the time being
attached to His Catholic Majesty, it did not seem to him proper that
he should accept any other engagement. So decided a response created
some warmth of feeling among the Senators.  At first they had thought
of greeting him, on his arrival in Venice, and in the name of the
people as a whole, with a most honourable reception; they now decided,
in view of his reply, to allow him to enter the city as a private

Prince Orsini, who was kept well informed, vowed that he would not go
to Venice at all. He was already in the neighbourhood of Padua, he
made a detour through that admirable country, and betook himself, with
his whole retinue, to the house prepared for him at Salo, on the
shores of Lake Garda. There he spent the whole of that summer amid
splendid and varied diversions.

The time for a change (of residence) having come, the Prince made a
number of little expeditions, after which he found that he could no
longer endure fatigue as in the past; he began to be alarmed for his
health; finally he thought of going to spend a few days at Venice, but
was dissuaded by his wife, Vittoria, who begged him to remain at Salo.

There are some who have expressed the opinion that Vittoria
Accoramboni was aware of the peril which threatened the life of the
Prince, her husband, and that she made him stay at Salo only with the
object of taking him, later on, out of Italy, to some free city, for
instance, in the Swiss Cantons; in this way she would safeguard, in
the event of the Prince's death, both her own person and her private

Whether or not this conjecture be well founded, the fact remains that
nothing of the sort occurred, for the Prince, after a fresh attack of
his malady at Salo on the loth of November, at once had a premonition
of what was in store.

He felt sorry for his unfortunate wife; he saw her, in the fine flower
of her youth, left as poor in reputation as in worldly goods, hated by
the reigning princes of Italy, little loved by the Orsini, and without
hope of another marriage after his death. Like a great-hearted
gentleman, faithful to his pledged word, he made, of his own accord, a
will by which he hoped to assure the unfortunate woman's fortune. He
left her, in money or in jewels, the considerable sum of one hundred
thousand piastres, [Footnote: About two million francs in 1837.] apart
from all the horses, carriages and movable property which he had used
on this expedition. All the rest of his fortune he left to Virginie
Orsini, his only son, whom he had had by his first wife, the sister of
Francesco I., Grand Duke of Tuscany (the wife whom he had killed on
account of her infidelity, with the consent of her brothers).

But how uncertain are all human anticipations! The arrangements which
Paolo Orsini thought must assure perfect security to that unhappy
young woman, proved to be the cause of her utter and immediate ruin.

After signing his will, the Prince felt slightly better on the 12th of
November. On the morning of the l3th he was bled, and the doctors,
whose only hope lay in a strict diet, left the most definite orders
that he was to take no food.

But they had barely left the room before the Prince insisted that
dinner should be brought to him; no one dared oppose his wishes, and
he ate and drank as usual.  Scarcely was the meal ended before he lost
consciousness, and two hours before sunset he was dead.

After this sudden death, Vittoria Accoramboni, accompanied by
Marcello, her brother, and by the whole of the deceased Prince's
household, repaired to Padua to the palazzo Foscarini, situated near
the Arena, the palazzo in fact that Prince Orsini had taken.

Shortly after her arrival, she was joined by her brother Flaminio, who
stood high in the favour of Cardinal Farnese.  She then began to take
the necessary measures to obtain payment of the legacy which her
husband had bequeathed to her; this legacy amounted in cash to sixty
thousand piastres, which were to be paid to her within a period of two
years, and this sum was independent of her dowry, jointure, and all
the jewels and furniture actually in her possession. Prince Orsini had
ordered, in his will, that in Rome or such other city as the Duchess
might choose, a palazzo should be bought for her to the value of ten
thousand piastres, and a vineyard (a country house) of six thousand;
he had further laid down that provision should be made for her table
and for the whole of her service as befitted a woman of her rank. The
household was to consist of forty servants, with a corresponding
number of horses.

Donna Vittoria had great hopes of the favour of the Princes of
Ferrara, Florence and Urbino, as well as of that of Cardinals Farnese
and de' Medici, appointed by the late Prince the executors of his
will. It is to be observed that the will had been drafted at Padua,
and submitted to the judgment of the most excellent Parrizoli and
Menocchio, the leading professors of that University, and among the
most famous jurists of the present day.

Prince Luigi Orsini arrived at Padua to carry out whatever might have
to be done with regard to the late Duke and his widow, before
proceeding to take over the government of the Isle of Corfu, to which
he had been appointed by the Most Serene Republic.

There arose first of all a difficulty between Donna Vittoria and
Prince Luigi with regard to the late Duke's horses, which the Prince
said were not movable property in the general acceptation of the term;
but the Duchess proved that they must be regarded as movable property
so called, and it was decided that she should retain the use of them
until the question was settled; she gave as a surety Signor Soardi of
Bergamo, Condottiere to the Signori of Venice, a gentleman of great
wealth and of the highest rank in his own country.

Another difficulty then arose with regard to a certain quantity of
silver plate which the late Duke had handed over to Prince Luigi as a
pledge for a sum of money which he had lent the Duke. Everything was
decided by recourse to the law, for His Serenity (i.e. the Duke) of
Ferrara took care that the last wishes of the late Prince Orsini
should he given entire fulfilment.

This second question was settled on the 23rd of December, which was a

That night, forty men entered the house of the aforesaid Accoramboni.
They were dressed in coats of cloth, cut in a fantastic manner and so
arranged that they could not be recognised, unless by the sound of
their voices; and when they called to one another they made use of
cant names.

They began by making a search for the Duchess herself, and, when they
had found her, one of them said to her: "Now you must die."

And without giving her a moment, while she was begging to be allowed
to commend her soul to God, he stabbed her with a fine dagger below
the left breast; and, turning the point of it in all directions, the
cruel wretch asked the unhappy woman several times to tell him if it
was touching her heart; at length she breathed her last. Meanwhile the
others were looking for the Duchess's brothers, one of whom, Marcello,
escaped with his life, because he could not be found in the house; the
other was stabbed by a hundred blows. The murderers left the dead
bodies on the ground, the whole household weeping and shrieking; and,
having seized the strong box containing the jewels and money, took
their departure.

The news of this crime came rapidly to the ears of the magistrates of
Padua; they had the bodies identified, and sent to Venice for further

Throughout the Monday, an immense crowd assembled round the aforesaid
palazzo and in the church of the Eremitani, to see the bodies. The
curious were moved to pity, especially when they saw the beauty of the
Duchess: they wept for her misfortunes, _et dentibus fremebant_ (and
gnashed their teeth) at the murderers; but as yet these were not known
by name.

The _corte_ having arrived at the strongly founded suspicion that the
crime had been committed by the order, or at least with the consent of
the said Prince Luigi, summoned him before it, and as he sought to
appear in corte (before the court) of the Most Illustrious Captain
with a train of forty armed men, the door was barred, and he was told
that he must enter with three or four only. But, as these were
crossing the threshold, the others dashed in after them, thrusting
aside the guards, and the whole body entered the court.

Prince Luigi, appearing before the Most Illustrious Captain,
complained of this insult, asserting that he had never received such
treatment from any Sovereign Prince. The Most Illustrious Captain
having asked him if he knew anything of the death of Donna Vittoria,
he replied that he did, and had ordered a report to be made to the
officers of justice. It was proposed to take down his answer in
writing; he protested that men of his rank were not bound by that
formality, and, apparently, might not be examined at all.

Prince Luigi asked leave to dispatch a courier to Florence with a
letter for Prince Virginie Orsini, to whom he was making a report of
the proceedings and of the crime.  He shewed a false letter, not that
which he intended to send, and his request was granted.

But his messenger was arrested outside the city and carefully
searched; the letter was found on him which Prince Luigi had shewn,
and also a second letter concealed in one of his boots; this ran as


"Most Illustrious Lord,

"We have put into execution what was agreed upon between us, and so
successfully that we have completely taken in the Most Illustrious
Tondini" (this is apparently the name of the head of the corte which
had examined the Prince), "so that I am regarded here as the most
gallant gentleman alive. I did the deed in person, so do not fail to
send at once you know whom."

This letter made a strong impression on the magistrates; they made
haste to send it to Venice; by their orders the gates of the city were
shut, and the walls manned by troops, day and night. A warning was
published threatening severe penalties to any who, knowing the
identity of the assassins, should fail to communicate what he knew to
the authorities. Such of the assassins as gave evidence against any of
their number were not to be molested, in fact a sum of money was to be
paid to them. But about the seventh hour of the night, on Christmas
Eve (towards midnight on the 24th of December), Aloisio Bragadin
arrived from Venice, with ample authority from the Senate, and orders
to secure the arrest, alive or dead, and at no matter what cost, of
the afore-mentioned Prince Luigi and all his men. The said Signor
Avogador Bragadin, the Signor Capitano and the Signor Podestà made
their headquarters in the fortress.

Orders were issued, on pain of the gallows (_della forca_) to all the
militia, horse and foot, to assemble well armed round the house of the
said Prince Luigi, which stood near the fortress and adjoined the
Church of Sant' Agostino on the Arena.

When the day (which was Christmas Day) came, an edict was published in
the town calling upon all the sons of Saint Mark to arm themselves and
hasten to the house of Don Luigi; those who had no arms were summoned
to the fortress, where they would be given all that they required;
this edict promised a reward of two thousand ducats to whosoever
should hand over to the _corte_, dead or alive, the said Don Luigi,
and five hundred ducats for the person of each of his followers. There
was furthermore an order that any who were unarmed were on no account
to approach the Prince's house, so that they should not be in the way
of the fighting men were the Prince to think fit to make a sally.

At the same time siege guns, mortars and heavy artillery were mounted
on the old walls, opposite the house occupied by the Prince; others
were mounted on the new walls, which overlooked the rear of the said
house. On this side the cavalry had been posted in such a way as to be
able to move freely, should they be required. On the banks of the
river Brenta people were busily arranging benches, cupboards, carts
and other such things suitable for parapets.  It was hoped in this way
to put a stop to the movement of the besieged, should they attempt to
march out in close order against the populace. These parapets would
serve also to protect the gunners and infantry against the
arquebusades of the besieged.

Last of all, a number of boats appeared on the river, opposite and on
either side of the Prince's house, filled with men armed with muskets
and other weapons calculated to harass the enemy should he attempt to
break out: meanwhile barricades were erected in all the streets.

While these preparations were being made, a letter arrived, couched in
the most dignified terms, in which the Prince complained of being
found guilty, and of seeing himself treated as an enemy, and indeed a.
rebel, before any investigation had been made into the crime. This
letter had been composed by Liveroto.

On the 27th of December, three gentlemen, among the foremost in the
city, were sent by the magistrates to Don Luigi, who had with him, in
his house, forty men, old soldiers all of them and inured to danger.
They were found to be engaged in fortifying the house with parapets
made of planks and soaked mattresses, and in making ready their

These three gentlemen announced to the Prince that the magistrates
were determined to seize his person; they advised him to surrender,
adding that, by so doing, before the first shot was fired, he would
have some hope of being treated with mercy. To which Don Luigi replied
that if, first of all, the guards posted round about his house were
withdrawn, he would go to the magistrates accompanied by two or three
of his men, to discuss the matter, on the express understanding that
he should be free to return at any time to his house.

The ambassadors took a note, written in his hand, of these proposals,
and returned to the magistrates, who refused the conditions, acting
especially on the advice of the most illustrious Pio Enea, and of
other nobles there present.  The ambassadors then returned to the
Prince, and informed him that, if he did not make a surrender, pure
and simple, of his person, his house would be razed to the ground by
artillery; to which he replied that he preferred death to such an act
of submission.

The magistrates gave the signal for the battle, and, although it would
have been possible to destroy the whole house almost with a single
discharge, it was decided to proceed more slowly, to see whether the
besieged would not agree to surrender.

This plan proved successful, and saved Saint Mark a great deal of
money which would have had to be spent on rebuilding the ruined parts
of the bombarded palace; it did not, however, meet with general
approval. If Don Luigi's men had acted without hesitation, and had
made a dash from the house, the success of the siege would have been
far from certain. They were old soldiers, they had no lack of
munitions, of arms or of courage, and above all it was to their
interest to win; was it not better for them, if the worse came to the
worst, to die from the shot of an arquebus rather than by the hand of
the executioner? Besides, with whom had they to deal? With a wretched
band of besiegers with little experience of arms, and the Signori
might then have had cause to repent of their clemency and their
instinctive tenderness.

So they began by bombarding the colonnade that ran along the front of
the house; then, aiming a little higher, destroyed the front wall of
the building behind it. Meanwhile the men inside fired round after
round from their arquebuses, but with no effect beyond wounding a
humble citizen in the shoulder.

Don Luigi cried in the most impetuous fashion: "Battle!  battle! war!
war!" He was greatly taken up with casting bullets from the pewter of
the plates and the lead from the windows. He threatened to make a
sally, but the besiegers adopted new measures, and brought up guns of
a larger calibre.

The first shot fired from these brought down a great piece of the
house, and a certain Pandolfo Leupratti of Camerino was buried in the
ruins. This was a man of great courage, and a bandit of considerable
importance.  He was banished from the States of Holy Church, and a
price of four hundred piastres had been placed on his head by the most
illustrious Signor Vitelli, for the death of Vincenzo Vitelli, who had
been attacked in his carriage, and killed by arquebus shots and dagger
thrusts, given by Prince Luigi Orsini through the instrumentality of
the said Pandolfo and his associates. Stunned by his fall, Pandolfo
was incapable of making any movement; a servant of the Signori
Capodilìsta advanced upon him armed with a pistol, and very
courageously cut off his head, which he made haste to take to the
fortress and hand over to the magistrates.

Shortly afterwards a shot from another gun brought down a wall of the
house, and with it the Conte Montemelino of Perugia, who died amid the
ruins, blown to pieces by the ball.

After this a person was seen to leave the house named Colonel Lorenzo,
of the nobility of Camerino, a man of great wealth who had on several
occasions furnished proofs of his valour, and was highly esteemed by
the Prince. He was determined not to die without striking a blow of
some sort; he tried to fire his gun, but when he pressed the trigger,
it so happened, doubtless by the will of God, that the arquebus missed
fire, and at that moment a bullet went through his body. The shot had
been fired by a poor devil, an usher in the school of San Michele. And
while he, to gain the promised reward, was approaching his victim to
cut off his head, he was forestalled by others nimbler, and, what was
more, stronger than himself, who took the Colonel's purse, belt, gun,
money and rings, and cut off his head.

The men in whom Prince Luigi had reposed most confidence being dead,
he was left in great embarrassment, and it was observed that he no
longer made any movement.

Signor Filenfi, his _maestro di casa_ and secretary in civilian
attire, made a signal from a balcony with a white handkerchief that he
surrendered. He left the house and was taken to the citadel, _led by
the arm_, as is said to be the custom of war, by Anselmo Suardo,
Lieutenant to the Signori (the magistrates). Being immediately
examined, he said that he was in no way to blame for what had
occurred, because he had arrived on Christmas Eve only from Venice,
where he had been detained for some days on the Prince's business.

He was asked how many men the Prince had with him, and replied:
"Twenty or thirty persons."

He was asked their names, and answered that there were nine or ten of
them who, being persons of quality, ate, like himself, at the Prince's
table, and that he knew their names, but that of the others, people of
a vagabond life who had but recently joined the Prince, he had no
personal knowledge.

He gave the names of thirteen persons, including the brother of

Shortly afterwards the artillery placed on the city walls opened fire.
The soldiers posted themselves in the houses adjoining that of the
Prince to prevent his men from escaping.  The said Prince, who had
been running the same risks as the two whose death we have related,
told those round about him to hold out until they should receive a
message written by his hand and accompanied by a certain sign; after
which he surrendered to that Anselmo Suardo, already named. And,
because he could not be taken in a coach, as was laid down, on account
of the great crowd of people and the barricades that blocked the
streets, it was decided that he should go on foot.

He marched amid a party of Marcello Accoramboni's men; he had on
either side of him the Signori Condottieri, Lieutenant Suardo, other
Captains and gentlemen of the city, all well provided with arms. Next
came a strong company of men at arms and soldiers of the city. Prince
Luigi wore a suit of brown, his stiletto by his side, and his cloak
gathered under his arm with the most elegant air; he remarked with a
disdainful smile: "_If I had fought_!" almost implying that he would
have won.  Brought before the Signori, he at once bowed to them and

"Sirs, I am the prisoner of this gentleman," pointing to Signor
Anselmo, "and I am extremely annoyed at what has happened, by no fault
of mine."

The Captain having ordered the stiletto which he wore at his side to
be taken from him, he leaned against a balcony and began to trim his
nails with a pair of small scissors which he found there.

He was asked whom he had in his house; he named among the rest Colonel
Liveroto and Conte Montemelino, of whom mention has been made above,
adding that he would give ten thousand piastres to redeem the life of
one of them, and for the other would give his very life's blood.  He
asked to be taken to a place befitting a man of his rank. Matters
being thus arranged, he wrote with his own hand a message to his
supporters, ordering them to surrender, and sent his ring as a token.
He told Signor Anselmo that he gave him his sword and his musket,
requesting him, when those weapons should have been found in his
house, to make use of them for his sake, as being the arms of a
gentleman and not of any common soldier.

The troops entered the house, making a thorough search of it, and at
once held a roll call of the Prince's men, who survived to the number
of thirty-four, after which they were led out two by two to the prison
of the Palace. The dead were left to be devoured by the dogs, and a
report of the whole affair was sent to Venice.

It was noticed that many of Prince Luigi's soldiers, who had been
implicated in the crime, were no longer to be found; the people were
forbidden to harbour them, any who did so to be punished with the
destruction of his house and confiscation of his property; those who
denounced them were to receive fifty piastres. By this method several
were apprehended.

A frigate was dispatched from Venice to Candia, bearing orders to Don
Latino Orsini to return at once on a matter of great importance, and
it is thought that he will lose his command.

Yesterday morning, which was the feast of Saint Stephen, everyone
expected to see the death of the aforesaid Prince Luigi, or to hear it
announced that he had been strangled in prison; and would have been
greatly surprised had it been otherwise, since he was not a bird to be
kept for long in a cage. But that evening the trial was held, and on
Saint John's day, shortly before dawn, it became known that the said
Lord had been strangled, and that he had made a good end. His body was
carried without delay to the Cathedral, accompanied by the clergy of
that church and by the Jesuit fathers. It was left exposed all day on
a table in the middle of the church, to serve as a spectacle to the
people and as a mirror to the inexperienced.

On the following day his body was conveyed to Venice, as he had
ordered in his will, and there buried.

On Saturday two of his followers were hanged; the first and principal
was Furio Savorgnano, the other a common person.

On Monday, which was the penultimate day of the aforesaid year, they
hanged thirteen, several of whom were of high nobility; other two, one
named Capitan Splendiano and the other Conte Paganello, were led
through the town and mildly tortured; on reaching the place of
execution, they were beaten, had their heads broken, and were
quartered, the life being still in their bodies. These men were noble,
and, before they took to evil courses, were extremely rich. Some say
that it was Conte Paganello who killed Donna Vittoria Accorainboni
with the cruelty that has been recorded. To this it is objected that
Prince Luigi, in the letter already quoted, attests that he did the
deed with his own hand; this may perhaps have been from vainglory,
like that which he shewed in Rome when he had Vitelli murdered, or
else to win more favour from Prince Virginie Orsini.

Conte Paganello, before receiving the fatal blow, was stabbed
repeatedly with a knife below the left breast, so as to touch his
heart, as he had done to the poor woman.  In this way it came about
that he shed a perfect torrent of blood from his breast. He remained
alive for more than half an hour, to the great astonishment of all. He
was a man of five and forty, who shewed signs of abundant strength.

The gibbets remain standing to dispatch the nineteen that are still
alive, on the first day that is not a holiday.  But, as the
executioner is extremely tired, and the people in a sort of agony
after witnessing so many deaths, their execution is being postponed
for these, two days. It is expected that none of them will be left
alive. The one exception made, among the persons attached to Prinee
Luigi, will perhaps be Signor Filenfi, his _maestro di casa_, who is
giving himself infinite pains (and indeed the matter is one of
importance to him) to prove that he had no share in the crime.

No one, not even the oldest inhabitants of this city of Padua, can
remember, by a more just sentence, the lives of so many persons to
have been ever forfeited, on a single occasion. And the Signori (of
Venice) have acquired for themselves high renown and a good reputation
among the most civilised nations.

_Added by another hand_.

Francesco Filenfi, secretary and _maestro dì casa_, was sentenced to
fifteen years' imprisonment, the cup-bearer (_coppiere_) Onorio Adami
of Fermo, and two others, to one year's imprisonment; seven others
were sent to the galleys, with fetters, while seven were released.



The Don Juan of Molière is, unquestionably, a rake, but first and
foremost he is a man of the world; before giving way to the
irresistible inclination that attracts him to pretty women, he feels
that he must conform to a certain ideal standard, he seeks to be the
type of man that would be most admired at the court of a young king of
gallantry and parts.

The Don Juan of Mozart is already more true to nature, and less
French, he thinks less of _what other people will say_; his first care
is not for appearances, is not _parestre_, to quote d'Aubigné's _Baron
de Foeneste_. We have but two portraits of the Italian Don Juan, as he
must have appeared, in that fair land, in the sixteenth century, in
the dawn of the new civilisation.

Of these two portraits, there is one which I simply cannot display,
our generation is too straitlaced; one has to remind oneself of that
great expression which I used often to hear Lord Byron repeat: "This
age of cant." This tiresome form of hypocrisy, which takes in no one,
has the great advantage of giving fools something to say: they express
their horror that people have ventured to mention this, or to laugh at
that, etc. Its disadvantage is that it vastly restricts the field of

If the reader has the good taste to allow me, I intend to offer him,
in all humility, an historical notice of the second of thes'e Don
Juans, of whom it is possible to speak in 1837; his name was Francesco

To render a Don Juan possible, there must be hypocrisy in society. A
Don Juan would have been an effect without a cause in the ancient
world; religion was a matter for rejoicing, it urged men to take their
pleasure; how could it have punished people who make a certain
pleasure their whole business in life? The government alone spoke of
_abstinence_, it forbade things that might harm the state, that is to
say the common interest of all, and not what might harm the individual

And so any man with a taste for women and plenty of money could be a
Don Juan in Athens; no one would have made any objection; no one
professed that this life is a vale of tears and that there is merit in
inflicting suffering on oneself.

I do not think that the Athenian Don Juan could arrive at the criminal
stage as rapidly as the Don Juan of a modern monarchy; a great part of
the latter's pleasure consists in challenging public opinion, and he
has made a start, in his youth, by imagining that he was only
challenging hypocrisy.

_To break the laws_ under a monarchy like that of Louis XV, to fire a
shot at a slater and bring him crashing down from his roof, does not
that prove that one moves in royal circles, has the best possible
tone, and laughs at one's judge, who is a _bourgeois? To laugh at the
judge_, is not that the first exploit of every little incipient Don

With us, women are no longer in fashion, that is why the Don Juan type
is rare; but when it existed, such men invariably began by seeking
quite natural pleasures, boasting the while of their courage in
challenging ideas which seemed to them not to be founded on reason in
the religion of their contemporaries. It is only later on, and when he
is beginning to become perverted that your Don Juan finds an exquisite
pleasure in challenging opinions which he himself feels to be just and

This transition must have been difficult and rare in an-[lee] cient
times, and it is only when we come to the Roman Emperors, after
Tiberius and Capri, that we find libertines who love corruption for
its own sake, that is to say for the pleasure of challenging the
rational opinions of their contemporaries.

Thus it is to the Christian religion that I ascribe the possibility of
the Satanic part played by Don Juan. It was this religion, doubtless,
which taught the world that a poor slave, a gladiator had a soul
absolutely equal in capacity to that of Cassar himself; we have,
therefore, to thank it for having produced a delicacy of feeling. Not
that I have any doubt that sooner or later such feelings would have
grown up spontaneously in the human breast.  The _Aeneid_ is
considerably more _tender_ than the _Iliad_.

The theory held by Jesus was that of the Arab philosophers of His day;
the only new thing introduced into the world as a result of the
principles preached by Saint Paul is a body of priests absolutely set
apart from their fellow citizens and having, indeed, diametrically
opposite interests to theirs.  [Footnote: See Montesquieu, _Politique
des Romains dans la religion_.]

This body made it its sole business to cultivate and strengthen the
_religious sense_; it invented privileges and habits to stir the
hearts of all classes, from the uncultured shepherd to the jaded
courtier; it contrived to stamp the memory of itself on the charming
impressions of early childhood; it never allowed the slightest
pestilence or general calamity to pass without profiting by it to
intensify the dread and _sense of religion_, or at any rate to build a
fine church, like the Salute at Venice.

The existence of this body produced that admirable spectacle: Pope
Saint Leo resisting without _physical force_ the savage Attila and his
hordes of barbarians who had just overrun China, Persia and the Gauls.

And so, religion, like that absolute power tempered by popular songs,
which we call the French Monarchy, has produced certain singular
things which the world might never, perhaps, have seen had it bean
deprived of those two institutions.

Among these several things, good or bad but all alike singular and
curious, which would indeed have astonished Aristotle, Polybius,
Augustus, and the other wise heads of antiquity, I have no hesitation
in including the wholly modern character of Don Juan. He is, to my
mind, a product of the _ascetic institutions_ of the Popes that came
after Luther; for Leo X and his court (1506) followed more or less
closely the religious principles of the Athenians.

Molière's Don Juan was performed early in the reign of Louis XIV, on
the 15th of February, 1665; that monarch was not as yet devout,
nevertheless the ecclesiastical censure ordered the scene of the
_beggar in the forest_ to be omitted. These censors, to strengthen
their positon, tried to persuade the young king, so prodigiously
ignorant, that the word Jansenist was synonymous with Republican.
[Footnote: Saint-Simon, _Mémoires de l'abbé Blache_.]

The original is by a Spaniard, Tirso de Molina; [Footnote: This was
the name adopted by a monk, a man of parts, Fray Gabriel Tellez. He
belonged to the Order of Mercy, and we have several plays by him in
which there are inspired passages, among others _El Timido a la
Corte_. Tellez was the author of three hundred comedies, some seventy
or eighty of which still survive. He died about 1610.] an Italian
company played an imitation of it in Paris about the year 1664, and
created a furore. It has probably been acted more often than any other
comedy in the world.  This is because it contains the devil and love,
the fear of hell and an exalted passion for a woman, that is to say
the most terrible and the most attractive things that exist in the
eyes of all men who have to any degree risen above the level of

It is not surprising that the portrait of Don Juan was introduced into
literature by a Spanish poet. Love fills a large place in the life of
that nation; it is a serious passion there, and one that compels the
sacrifice of every other passion to itself, including that, incredible
as it may seem, of _vanity_! It is the same in Germany and in Italy.
Properly speaking, France is the only country completely free from
this passion, which makes these foreigners commit so many acts of
folly: such as marrying a penniless girl, making the excuse that she
is pretty and you are in love with her. Girls who lack beauty do not
lack admirers in France; we are a cautious people. Otherwise they are
reduced to entering religion, and that is why convents are
indispensable in Spain. Girls have no dowry in that country, and this
rule has maintained the triumph of love. In France has not love fled
to the attics, taken refuge, that is, among the girls who do not marry
by the intervention of the family lawyer?

Nothing need be said of the Don Juan of Lord Byron, he is merely a
Faublas, a good looking but insignificant young man, upon whom all
sorts of improbable good fortune are heaped.

So it is in Italy alone, and there only in the sixteenth century that
this singular character could make his first appearance. It was in
Italy and in the seventeenth century that a Princess said, as she
sipped an ice with keen enjoyment on the evening of a hot day: "_What
a pity, this is not a sin_!"

This sentiment forms, in my opinion, the foundation of the character
of a Don Juan, and, as we see, the Christian religion is necessary to

As to which a Neapolitan writer exclaims: "Is it nothing to defy
heaven, and to believe that at that very instant heaven may consume
one to ashes? Hence, it is said, the intense pleasure of having a nun
for one's mistress, and a nun full of piety, who knows quite well that
she is doing wrong, and asks pardon of God with passion, as she sins
with passion." [Footnote: Don Domenico Paglietta.]

Let us take the case of a Christian extremely perverse, born in Rome
at the moment when the stern Pius V had just restored to favour or
invented a mass of trifling practices absolutely alien to that simple
morality which gives the name of virtue only to _what is of use to
mankind_. An inexorable Inquisition, so inexorable indeed that it
lasted but a short time in Italy, and was obliged to take refuge in
Spain, had been given fresh powers, [Footnote: Saint Pius V
(Ghislieri), a Piedmontese, whose thin, stern face is to be seen on
the tomb of Sixtus V in Santa Maria Maggiore, was _Grand Inquisitor_
when he was called to the throne of Saint Peter, in 1586. He governed
the Church for six years and twenty-four days. The reader should refer
to his letters, edited by M. de Potter, the only man of our time with
any knowledge of this detail of history. The work of M. de Potter, an
inexhaustible mine of facts, is the fruit of fourteen years of
conscientious research in the libraries of Florence, Venice and Rome.]
and was inspiring terror in all. For some years, the severest
penalties were attached to the non-observance or public disparagement
of these minute little practices, raised to the rank of the most
sacred duties of religion; the perverse Roman of whom we have spoken
would have shrugged his shoulders when he saw the whole of his fellow
citizens trembling before the terrible laws of the Inquisition.

"Very good!" we can imagine him saying to himself, "I am the richest
man in Rome, this capital of the world; I am going to be the most
courageous man also; I shall publicly deride everything that these
people respect, and that bears so little resemblance to what people
ought to respect."

For a Don Juan, to be true to his type, must be a man of feeling, and
be endowed with that quick and keen mind which gives one a clear
insight into the motives of human actions.

Francesco Cenci must have said to himself: "By what speaking actions
can I, a Roman, born in Rome in the year 1527, during those six months
in which the Lutheran troops of the Connétable de Bourbon were
committing the most appalling profanations in the holy places; by what
actions can I call attention to my own courage and give myself, as
fully as possible, the pleasure of defying public opinion?  How am I
to astonish my foolish contemporaries?  How can I give myself that
keenest of pleasures, of feeling myself to be different from all that
vulgar rabble?"

It could never have entered the head of a Roman, and of a Roman of
those days to stop short at words. There is no country in which brave
words are more despised than Italy.

The man who might have conversed thus with himself was called
Francesco Cenci: he was killed before the eyes of his wife and
daughter on the 15th of September, 1598.  No pleasant memories remain
to us of this Don Juan, his character was in no way softened and
_modified_, like that of Molière's Don Juan, by the idea of being,
first and foremost, a man of the world. He paid no heed to the rest of
mankind except by shewing his superiority to them, making use of them
in carrying out his plans, or hating them.  For your Don Juan finds no
pleasure in sympathy, in sweet musings or in the illusions of a tender
heart. He requires, above all, pleasures which shall be triumphs,
which can be seen by others, and _cannot be denied_; he requires the
list flaunted by the insolent Leporello before the sorrowful eyes of

The Roman Don Juan took good care to avoid the signal folly of giving
the key to his character and confiding his secrets to a lackey, like
the Don Juan of Molière; he lived without a confidant, and uttered no
words save those that would be useful in the _advancement of his
projects_. No one ever surprised him in one of those moments of true
tenderness and charming gaiety which make us forgive the Don Juan of
Mozart; in short, the portrait which I am about to reproduce is

Had I been free to choose, I should not have written of this
character, I should have confined myself to studying it, for it is
more horrible than strange; but I must explain that it was demanded of
me by travelling companions to whom I could refuse nothing. In 1823 I
had the pleasure of visiting Italy with certain charming people, whom
I shall never forget; like them, I was captivated by the portrait of
Beatrice Cenci which is to be seen in Rome, at the palazzo Barberini.

The gallery of that palazzo is now reduced to seven or eight pictures;
but of these four are masterpieces: there is first of all the portrait
of the famous _Fornarina_, Raphael's mistress, by Raphael himself.
This portrait, of the authenticity of which no doubt can be
entertained, for we find copies of it made at the time, differs
entirely from the figure which, in the gallery at Florence, is
described as that of Raphael's mistress, and has been engraved, with
that title, by Morghen. The Florence portrait is not even by Raphael.
In deference to that great name, will the reader kindly pardon this
little digression?

The second priceless portrait in the Barberini gallery is by Guido; it
is the portrait of Beatrice Cenci, of which one sees so many bad
engravings. That great painter has placed a meaningless piece of
drapery over Beatrice's throat: he has crowned her with a turban; he
would have been afraid of carrying accuracy to the pitch of horror had
he reproduced exactly the toilet that she made before appearing at the
place of execution, and the dishevelled hair of a poor girl of
sixteen, abandoned to the wildest despair. The face has sweetness and
beauty, the expression is most appealing and the eyes very large: they
have the startled air of a person who has just been caught in the act
of shedding large tears. The hair is golden and of great beauty. This
head has nothing of the Roman pride and consciousness of its own
strength which one often detects in the assured glance of a daughter
of the Tiber, _una figlia del Tevere_, as they say of themselves with
pride.  Unfortunately the flesh tints of this portrait have turned to
brick red during the long interval of two hundred and thirty-eight
years which separates us from the catastrophe of which you are about
to read.

The third portrait in the Barberini gallery is that of Lucrezia
Petroni, Beatrice's stepmother, who was executed with her. She is the
type of the Roman matron in her natural beauty and pride.  [Footnote:
This pride is not in the least dependent on social _rank_, as in
portraits by Vandyck.] The features are large and the flesh of a
dazzling whiteness, the eyebrows are black and strongly marked, the
gaze commanding and at the same time sensuous. She makes a fine
contrast with so sweet, so simple a face, almost a German face, as
that of her stepdaughter.

The fourth portrait, rendered striking by the accuracy and brightness
of its colouring, is one of the masterpieces of Titian; it is that of
a Greek slave who was the mistress of the famous Doge Barbarigo.

Almost invariably, foreigners coming to Rome ask to be taken, at the
outset of their tour of inspection, to the Barberini gallery; they are
attracted, the women especially, by the portraits of Beatrice Cenci
and her stepmother.  I had my share of the general curiosity; then,
like everyone else, I sought to obtain access to the reports of the
famous trial. If you are similarly privileged, you will be quite
surprised, I expect, as you peruse these documents, which are all in
Latin except the replies made by the accused persons, to find almost
no indication of the facts of the case. The reason is that in Rome, in
1599, there was no one who was not acquainted with the facts.  I
purchased the right to transcribe a contemporary account; I felt that
it would be possible to give a translation of it without shocking any
sensibility; anyhow this translation could be read aloud before ladies
in 1823. It must be understood that the translator ceases to be
faithful to his original when he can no longer be so: otherwise the
sense of horror would soon outweigh that of curiosity.

The tragic part played by a Don Juan (one who seeks to conform to no
ideal standard, and considers public opinion only with a view to
outraging it) is here set forth in all its horror. The enormity of his
crimes forces two unhappy women to have him killed before their eyes;
of these two women one was his wife and the other his daughter, and
the reader will not dare to make up his mind as to whether they were
guilty. Their contemporaries were of the opinion that they ought not
to have been put to death.

I am convinced that the tragedy of _Galeotto Manfredi_ (who was killed
by his wife: the subject is treated by the great poet Monti) and ever
so many other domestic tragedies of the _cinquecento_, which are less
well known, and barely mentioned in the local histories of Italian
cities, ended in a scene similar to that in the castle of Petrella.
What follows is my translation of the contemporary account; it is in
the _Italian of Rome_, and was written on the 14th of September, 1599.


Of the deaths of Giacomo and Beatrice Cenci, and of Lucrezia Petroni
Cenci, their stepmother, executed for the crime of parricide, on
Saturday last, the llth of September, 1599, in the reign of our Holy
Father the Pope, Clement VIII, Aldobrandini.

The execrable life consistently led by Francesco Cenci, a native of
Rome and one of the wealthiest of our fellow citizens, has ended by
leading him to disaster. He has brought to a precocious death his
sons, stout hearted young fellows, and his daughter Beatrice, who,
although she mounted the scaffold when barely sixteen years old (four
days since), was reckoned nevertheless one of the chief beauties of
the States of the Church, if not the whole of Italy. The rumour has
gone abroad that Signor Guido Reni, one of the pupils of that
admirable school of Bologna, was pleased to paint the portrait of poor
Beatrice, last Friday, that is to say on the day preceding her
execution.  If this great painter has performed this task as he has
done in the case of the other paintings which he has executed in this
capital, posterity will be able to form some idea of the beauty of
this lovely girl. In order that it may also preserve some record of
her unprecedented misfortunes, and of the astounding force with which
this truly Roman nature was able to fight against them, I have decided
to write down what I have learned as to the action which brought her
to her death, and what I saw on the day of her glorious tragedy.

The people who have supplied me with my information were in a position
which made them acquainted with the roost secret details, such as are
unknown in Rome even to-day, although for the last six weeks people
have been speaking of nothing but the Cenci trial. I shall write with
a certain freedom, knowing as I do that I shall be able to deposit my
_commentary_ in respectable archives from which it will certainly not
be released until after my day. My one regret is that I must
pronounce, but truth will have it so, against the innocence of this
poor Beatrice Cenci, as greatly adored and respected by all that knew
her as her horrible father was hated and execrated.

This man who, indisputably, had received from heaven the most
astounding sagacity and eccentricity, was the son of Monsignor Cenci,
who, under Pius V, had risen to the post of _Tesoriere_, or Minister
of Finance. That saintly Pope, entirely taken up, as we know, with his
righteous hatred of heresy and the re-establishment of his admirable
Inquisition, felt only contempt for the temporal administration of his
State, so that this Monsignor Cenci, who was Treasurer for some years
before 1572, found himself able to leave to this terrible man who was
his son and the father of Beatrice Cenci a clear income of one hundred
and sixty thousand piastres (about two and a half millions of our
francs in 1837).

Francesco Cenci, apart from this great fortune, had a reputation for
courage and prudence to which, in his youth, no other Roman could lay
claim; and this reputation established him all the more firmly at the
Papal court and among the people as a whole, inasmuch as the criminal
actions which were beginning to be imputed to him were all of the kind
which the world is most ready to forgive.  Many citizens of Rome still
recalled, with a bitter regret, the freedom of thought and action
which they had enjoyed in the days of Leo X, who was taken from us in
1513, and under Paul III, who died in 1549. Already, in the reign of
the latter of these Popes, people were beginning to speak of young
Francesco Cenci on account of certain singular love affairs, carried
to a successful issue by means more singular still.

Under Paul III, at a time when one could still speak with a certain
degree of freedom, many people said that Francesco delighted most of
all in strange incidents such as might give him _peripezie di nuova
idea_, novel and disturbing sensations; those who take this view find
support in the discovery, among his account books, of such entries as
the following:

"For the adventures and _peripezie_ of Toscanella, three thousand five
hundred piastres" (about sixty thousand francs in 1837) "_e non fu
caro_" (and not dear at that).

It is not known, perhaps, in the other cities of Italy, that our
destinies and our mode of conduct in Rome vary with the character of
the reigning Pope. Thus, for thirteen years, under the good Pope
Gregory XIII (Buon-compagni), everything was permitted in Rome; if you
wished, you had your enemy stabbed, and were never punished, provided
that you behaved in a modest fashion.  This excessive indulgence was
followed by an excessive severity during the five years of the reign
of the great Sixtus V, of whom it has been said, as of the Emperor
Augustus, that he should either never have occurred or have remained
for ever. Then one saw wretched creatures executed for murders or
poisonings which had been forgotten for ten years, but which they had
been so unfortunate as to confess to Cardinal Montalto, afterwards
Sixtus V.

It was chiefly under Gregory XIII that people began to speak regularly
of Francesco Cenci; he had married a wife of great wealth and such as
befitted a gentleman of his high standing; she died after bearing him
seven children.  Shortly after her death, he took as his second wife
Lucrezia Petroni, a woman of rare beauty, and distinguished especially
for the dazzling whiteness of her skin, but a little too plump, a
common fault among our Roman women. By Lucrezia he had no children.

The least fault to be found with Francesco Cenci was his propensity
towards an infamous form of love; the greatest was that of unbelief in
God. Never in his life was he seen to enter a church.

Three times imprisoned for his infamous love affairs, he secured his
freedom by giving two hundred thousand piastres to the persons most in
favour with the twelve successive Popes under whom he lived. (Two
hundred thousand piastres amount to about five millions in 1837.)

When I first set eyes on Francesco Cenci his hair was already grey,
during the reign of Pope Buoncompagni, when every licence was allowed
to such as dared take it.  He was a man of about five feet four
inches, and very well built, though a trifle thin; he was reputed to
be extremely strong, possibly he spread this rumour himself; he had
large and expressive eyes, but the upper lids were too much inclined
to droop; his nose was too large and prominent, his lips thin, and
parted in a charming smile. This smile became terrible when he
fastened his gaze on one of his enemies; if anything moved or annoyed
him, he would begin to tremble in an alarming fashion. I have known
him when I was young, in the days of Pope Buoncompagni, go on
horseback from Rome to Naples, doubtless upon some amorous errand; he
would pass through the forests of San Germano and la Faggiola,
regardless of brigands, and would complete the journey, it was said,
in less than twenty hours. He travelled always by himself, and without
informing anyone; when his first horse was worn out, he would buy or
steal another. Should any objection be offered by the owner, he had no
objection, himself, to using his dagger. But it is true to say that in
the days of my youth, that is to say when he was about forty-eight or
fifty, there was no one bold enough to withstand him. His great
pleasure was to defy his enemies.

He was very well known on all the roads in the States of His Holiness;
he paid generously, but he was capable also, two or three months after
an injury had been done him, of sending one of his _sicarj_ to
dispatch the person who had offended him.

The one virtuous action which he performed in the whole of his long
life was to build, in the courtyard of his vast palazzo by the Tiber,
a church dedicated to Saint Thomas; and even to this good deed he was
prompted by the curious desire to be able to look down [Footnote: In
Rome people are buried beneath the floors of churches,] upon the
graves of all his children, whom he hated with an extravagant and
unnatural loathing, even in their earliest infancy, when they were
incapable of offending him in any way.

"_That is where I wish to put them all_," he would often say with a
bitter laugh to the masons whom he employed to build his church. He
sent the three eldest, Giacomo, Cristoforo and Rocco, to study at the
University of Salamanca in Spain. Once they were in that distant land
he took an evil delight in never sending them any money, so that these
unfortunate youths, after addressing a number of letters to their
father, who made no reply, were reduced to the miserable necessity,
for their return journey, of borrowing small sums of money or begging
their way along the roads.

In Rome, they found a father more severe and rigid, more harsh than
ever, who, for all his immense wealth, would neither clothe them nor
give them the money necessary to purchase the cheapest forms of food.
They were obliged to have recourse to the Pope, who forced Francesco
Cenci to make them a small allowance. With this very modest provision
they parted from their father.

Shortly afterwards, on account of some scandalous love affair,
Francesco was put in prison for the third and last time; whereupon the
three brothers begged an audience of our Holy Father the Pope now
reigning, and jointly besought him to put to death Francesco Cenci
their father, who, they said, was dishonouring their house. Clement
VIII had a great mind to do so, but decided not to follow his first
impulse, so as not to give satisfaction to these unnatural children,
and expelled them ignominiously from his presence.

The father, as we have already said, came out of prison after paying a
large sum of money to a powerful protector.  It may be imagined that
the strange action of his three elder sons was bound to increase still
further the hatred that he felt for his children. He continually
rained curses on them all, old and young, and every day would take a
stick to his two poor daughters, who lived with him in his palazzo.

The eldest daughter, although closely watched, by dint of endless
efforts managed to present a petition to the Pope; she implored His
Holiness to give her in marriage or to place her in a convent. Clement
VIII took pity on her distress, and married her to Carlo Gabrielli, of
the noblest family of Gubbio; His Holiness obliged her father to give
her an ample dowry.

Struck by this unexpected blow, Francesco Cenci shewed an intense
rage, and to prevent Beatrice, when she grew older, from taking it
into her head to follow her sister's example, confined her in one of
the apartments of his huge palazzo. There, no one was allowed to set
eyes on Beatrice, at that time barely fourteen years old, and already
in the full splendour of her enchanting beauty. She had, above all, a
gaiety, a candour and a comic spirit which I have never seen in anyone
but her. Francesco Cenci carried her food to her himself. We may
suppose that it was then that the monster fell in love with her, or
pretended to fall in love, in order to torment his wretched daughter.
He often spoke to her of the perfidious trick which her elder sister
had played on him, and flying into a rage at the sound of his own
voice, would end by showering blows on Beatrice.

While this was happening, Rocco Cenci, his son, was killed by a
pork-butcher, and, in the following year, Cristoforo Cenci was killed
by Paolo Corso of Massa. On this occasion, he displayed his black
impiety, for at the funerals of his two sons he refused to spend so
much as a single baiocco on candles. On learning of the death of his
son Cristoforo, he exclaimed that he could never be truly happy until
all his children were buried, and that, when the last of them died, he
would, as a sign of joy, set fire to his palazzo. Rome was astounded
at this utterance, but considered that everything was possible with
such a man, who gloried in defying the whole world, including the Pope

(Here it becomes quite impossible to follow the Roman narrator in his
extremely obscure account of the strange actions by which Francesco
Cenci sought to astonish his contemporaries. His wife and his
unfortunate daughter were, to all appearance, made the victims of his
abominable ideas.)

All this was not enough for him; he attempted with threats, and with
the use of force, to outrage his own daughter Beatrice, who was
already fully grown and beautiful; he was not ashamed to go and lie
down in her bed, being himself completely naked. He walked about with
her in the rooms of his palazzo, still stark naked; then he took her
into his wife's bed, in order that, by the light of the lamps, poor
Lucrezia might see what he was doing to Beatrice.

He taught the poor girl a frightful heresy, which I scarcely dare
repeat, to wit that, when a father has carnal knowledge of his own
daughter, the children born of the union are of necessity saints, and
that all the greatest saints whom the Church venerates were born in
this manner, that is to say, that their maternal grandfather was also
their father.

When Beatrice resisted his execrable intentions, he belaboured her
with the cruellest blows, until the wretched girl, unable to endure so
miserable an existence, decided to follow the example that her sister
had given her. She addressed to our Holy Father the Pope a petition
set forth in great detail; but there is reason to believe that
Francesco Cenci had taken due precautions, for it does not appear that
this petition ever came into the hands of His Holiness; at least, it
could not be found in the secretariat of the _Memoriali_, when, after
Beatrice's imprisonment, her counsel was in urgent need of the
document; it would to some extent have furnished proof of the
appalling excesses committed in the castle of la Petrella. Would it
not have been evident to all that Beatrice Cenci had found herself
legally entitled to protection? This memorial was written also in the
name of Lucrezia, Beatrice's stepmother.

Francesco Cenci learned of this attempt, and one may guess with what
fury he intensified his maltreatment of these two wretched women.

Life became absolutely intolerable to them, and it was at this point
that, seeing that they had nothing to expect from the justice of the
Sovereign, whose courtiers were seduced by Francesco's lavish gifts,
they conceived the idea of adopting those extreme measures which ended
in their ruin, but had nevertheless the advantage of ending their
sufferings in this world.

It should be explained that the famous Monsignor Guerra was a frequent
visitor to the palazzo Cenci; he was a man of tall stature and
extremely handsome to boot, and had received this special gift from
fortune that, to whatever task he might apply himself, he performed it
with a grace that was quite peculiarly his own. It has been supposed
that he was in love with Beatrice and had thoughts of discarding the
_ciantellata_ and marrying her; [Footnote: The majority of the
_monsignori_ are not in holy orders, and are free to marry.] but,
albeit he took the utmost care to conceal his feelings, he was
execrated by Francesco Cenci, who accused him of having been the
intimate friend of all his children. When Mon-signor Guerra knew that
Signor Cenci was not in his palazzo, he went up to the ladies' rooms,
and spent several hours in conversing with them and listening to their
complaints of the incredible treatment to which they were both
subjected. It appears that Beatrice was the first to speak openly to
Monsignor Guerra of the plan upon which they had decided. After a
time, he promised them his support; and finally, after strong and
repeated pressure from Beatrice, consented to convey their strange
design to Giacomo Cenci, without whose consent nothing could be done,
since he was the eldest brother, and head of the family after

Nothing was easier than to draw him into the conspiracy; he was
treated extremely ill by his father, who gave him no assistance, a
deprivation which Giacomo felt all the more keenly, inasmuch as he was
married and had six children. The conspirators chose as a meeting
place, in which to discuss the means of putting Francesco Cenci to
death, Monsignor Guerra's apartment. They conducted their business
with due formality, and the votes of the stepmother and the girl were
taken on all points. When at length a decision had been reached, they
chose two of Francesco Cenci's vassals, each of whom had conceived an
undying hatred for him. One of these was named Marzio; he was a stout
fellow, deeply attached to Francesco's unfortunate children, and, in
order to do something that would give them pleasure, he consented to
take part in the parricide.  Olimpio, the second, had been chosen as
warden of the fortress of la Petrella, in the Kingdom of Naples, by
Prince Colonna; but, by using his all-powerful influence with the
Prince, Francesco Cenci had procured his dismissal.

Everything was arranged with these two men; Francesco Cenci having
announced that, in order to escape from the unhealthy air of Rome, he
was going to spend the summer in this fortress of la Petrella, it
occurred to them that they might collect there a dozen Neapolitan
_banditi_.  Olimpio undertook to provide these. It was decided to
conceal the men in the forests adjoining la Petrella, to warn them of
the hour at which Francesco Cenci was to start on his journey; they
would intercept him on the road, and send word to his family that they
would release him on payment of a large ransom. Then his children
would be obliged to return to Rome to collect the sum demanded by the
brigands; they would pretend to be unable to find this sum
immediately, and the brigands, carrying out their threat, and seeing
no sign of the money, would put Francesco Cenci to death. In this way,
no one would be led to suspect the true authors of the crime.

But, when summer came and Francesco Cenci left Rome for la Petrella,
the spy who was to give notice that he had started was too late in
warning the _banditi_ posted in the woods, and they had not time to
come down to the high road. Cenci arrived without interference at la
Petrella; the brigands, tired of waiting for an uncertain booty, went
off to rob elsewhere on their own account.

For his part, Cenci, grown prudent and cautious with advancing years,
never ventured to emerge from his fortress.  And, his ill humour
increasing with the infirmities of age, which he found insupportable,
he intensified the atrocious treatment which he made the two poor
women undergo. He pretended that they were rejoicing in his weakness.

Beatrice, driven to desperation by the horrible things which she had
to endure, summoned Marzio and Olimpio beneath the walls of the
fortress. During the night, while her father slept, she conversed with
them from one of the lower windows and threw down to them letters
addressed to Monsignor Guerra. By means of these letters, it was
arranged that Monsignor Guerra should promise Marzio and Olimpio a
thousand piastres if they would take upon themselves the
responsibility for putting Francesco Cenci to death. A third of the
sum was to be paid in Rome, before the deed, by Monsignor Guerra, and
the other two-thirds by Lucrezia and Beatrice, when, the deed done,
they should be in command of Cenci's strong-box.

It was further agreed that the deed should be done on the Nativity of
the Virgin, and for this purpose the two men were secretly admitted to
the fortress. But Lucrezia was overcome by the respect due to a
festival of the Madonna, and she made Beatrice postpone the action
until the following day, so as not to be guilty of a twofold crime.

It was therefore on the evening of the 9th of September, 1598, that,
mother and daughter having with great dexterity administered opium to
Francesco Cenci, that man so hard to deceive, he fell into a deep

Towards midnight Beatrice herself let into the fortress Marzio and
Olimpio; next, Lucrezia and Beatrice led them to the old man's room,
where he lay fast asleep. There, they were left by themselves that
they might do what had been determined upon, and the women withdrew to
wait in an adjoining room. Suddenly they saw the two men appear with
pallid faces, and apparently out of their wits.

"What has happened?" cried the ladies.

"It is a shame and a disgrace," the men answered, "to kill a poor old
man in his sleep! Pity stayed our hands."

On hearing this excuse, Beatrice grew indignant, and began to abuse
them, saying:

"And so you two men, thoroughly prepared to act, have not the courage
to kill a man in his sleep!  [Footnote: All these details were proved
at the trial.] You would be a great deal less willing to look him in
the face if he were awake! And so it is for nothing more than this
that you dare to ask for money? Very well! Since your cowardice forces
me, I will kill my father myself; and as for you, you have not long to
live either!"

Animated by these few scathing words, and fearing a reduction of the
fee that had been promised them, the assassins boldly returned to the
bedroom, followed by the women. One of them had a great nail which he
placed vertically over the sleeping man's eye; the other, who had a
hammer, drove the nail into his head. Another large nail was driven
similarly into his breast, so that the wretched soul, burdened with
all its recent sins, was carried off by devils; the body struggled,
but in vain.

The deed accomplished, the girl gave Olimpio a great purse filled with
money: she gave Marzio a cloak of broadcloth with a gold stripe, which
had belonged to her father, and dismissed them.

The women, left to themselves, began by withdrawing the large nail
driven into the head of the corpse, and the other in his throat; then,
after wrapping the body in a sheet from the bed, they dragged it
through a long series of rooms to a gallery which overlooked a small,
deserted garden. From this gallery, they threw down the body upon a
great elder tree which grew in that lonely spot. As there was a privy
at the end of this little gallery, they hoped that when, in the
morning, the old man's body was found caught in the branches of the
elder, it would be supposed that his foot had slipped and that he had
fallen while on his way to the privy.

Things fell out exactly as they had foreseen. In the morning, when the
body was found, a great clamour arose in the fortress; they did not
forget to utter piercing cries, and to bewail the lamentable death of
their husband and father. But the young Beatrice had the courage of
outraged modesty, not the prudence necessary in this life; early in
the morning, she had given to a woman who washed the linen in the
fortress a sheet stained with blood, telling her not to be surprised
at such a quantity of blood, because she herself, all night long, had
been suffering from a copious issue; and in this way, for the moment,
all went well.

Francesco Cenci was given a pompous funeral, and the women returned to
Rome to enjoy that tranquillity which they had for so long desired in
vain. They imagined themselves to be happy now for ever, for they did
not know what was happening at Naples.

The justice of heaven, which would not allow so atrocious a parricide
to remain unpunished, brought it about that, as soon as the news
reached that city of what had occurred in the fortress of la Petrella,
the principal judge there felt misgivings, and sent a royal
commissioner to examine the body and arrest any suspected persons.

The royal commissioner ordered the arrest of everyone living in the
fortress. They were all taken to Naples in chains; and nothing in
their depositions appeared suspicious, except that the laundress
professed to have received from Beatrice a sheet or sheets stained
with blood.  She was asked whether Beatrice had attempted to explain
these great stains of blood; she replied that Beatrice had spoken of a
natural infirmity. She was asked whether stains of such a size could
be due to such an infirmity; she replied that they could not, and that
the stains on the sheet were of too bright a red.

This information was immediately sent to the judicial authorities in
Rome, and yet many months elapsed before it occurred to anyone here to
order the arrest of Francesco Cenci's children. Lucrezia, Beatrice and
Giacomo could have escaped a thousand times over, either by going to
Florence on the pretext of making some pilgrimage, or by taking ship
at Civita-Vecchia; but God withheld from them this life-giving

Monsignor Guerra, having had word of what was happening in Naples, at
once sent out a number of men with orders to kill Marzio and Olimpio;
but Olimpio alone did they succeed in killing at Terni. The Neapolitan
authorities had arrested Marzio, who was taken to Naples, where he
immediately confessed all.

This terrible deposition was at once sent to the authorities in Rome,
who at last decided to arrest and confine in the Corte Savella prison
Giacomo and Bernardo Cenci, the only surviving sons of Francesco, as
also Lucrezia, his widow. Beatrice was guarded in her father's palazzo
by a numerous troop of _sbirri_. Marzio was brought from Naples, and
likewise confined in the Savella prison; there he was confronted with
the two women, who denied everything consistently, Beatrice in
particular refusing steadfastly to recognise the striped cloak which
she had given to Marzio. The brigand, overcome by enthusiasm for the
marvellous beauty and astonishing eloquence of the girl as she
answered the judge, denied everything that he had confessed in Naples.
He was put to the question, he admitted nothing, preferring to die in
agony; fit homage to the beauty of Beatrice!

After the death of this man, there being no proof of the crime, the
judges found that there was not sufficient reason for putting to the
torture either Cenci's two sons or the two women. All four were taken
to the Castel Sant' Angelo, where they remained for some months in
peace and quietness.

The matter seemed to be at an end, and no one in Rome had any doubt
that this girl, of such beauty and courage, who had aroused so keen an
interest, would shortly be set at liberty, when, unfortunately, the
officers of justice succeeded in arresting the brigand who, at Terni,
had killed Olimpio; he was brought to Rome, where he confessed

Monsignor Guerra, whom the brigand's confession so dangerously
compromised, was summoned to appear before the court without delay;
imprisonment was certain, death probable. But this remarkable man,
whom fate had endowed with the art of doing everything well, succeeded
in escaping in a manner which seems miraculous. He was reckoned the
handsomest man at the Papal court, and was too well known in Rome to
have any chance of escape; besides, a close watch was being kept at
the gates, and probably, from the moment of his summons, his house had
been under supervision. It should be added that he was very tall, witk
an extremely fair skin, and a fine beard and hair, fair also.

With inconceivable rapidity, he procured a charcoal seller, took his
clothes, had his own head and beard shaved, stained his face, bought a
pair of asses, and began to perambulate the streets of Rome selling
charcoal, limping as he went. He assumed with admirable skill an air
of plebeian stupidity, and went about crying his charcoal with his
mouth full of bread and onions, while hundreds of _sbirri_ were
searching for him not only in Rome, but on all the roads as well. At
length, when his appearance was familiar to most of the _sbirri_, he
ventured to leave Rome, still driving before him his pair of asses
laden with charcoal.  He met several troops of _sbirri_, who had no
thought of stopping him. Since then, only one letter has been received
from him; his mother has sent money to him at Marseilles, and it is
supposed that he is serving in the French war, as a private soldier.

The confession of the Terni assassin and this flight of Monsignor
Guerra, which created an enormous sensation in Rome, so revived
suspicion, and indeed seemed so to point to the guilt of the Cenci,
that they were taken from the Castel Sant' Angelo and brought back to
the Savella prison.

The two brothers, put to the torture, were far from imitating the
magnanimity of the brigand Marzio; they were so pusillanimous as to
confess everything. Signora Lucrezia Petroni was so habituated to the
ease and comfort of a life of the greatest luxury, and besides was so
stout in figure that she could not endure the question by the _cord_;
she told everything that she knew.

But it was not so with Beatrice Cenci, a girl full of vivacity and
courage. Neither the kind words nor the threats of the judge Moscati
had any effect on her. She endured the torture of the _cord_ without a
moment's faltering and with perfect courage. Never once could the
judge induce her to give an answer that compromised her in the
slightest degree; indeed, by her quick-witted vivacity, she utterly
confounded the famous Olisse Moscati, the judge responsible for
examining her. He was so much surprised by the conduct of the girl
that he felt it his duty to make a full report to His Holiness Pope
Clement VIII, whom God preserve.

His Holiness wished to see the documents and to study the case. He was
afraid lest the judge Olisse Moscati, so celebrated for his deep
learning and the superior sagacity of his mind, might have been
overpowered by Beatrice's beauty, and be helping her out in his
examinations of her.  The consequence was that His Holiness took the
case out of his hands, and entrusted it to another and a more severe
judge. Indeed, this barbarian had the heart to subject without pity so
lovely a body _ad torturam capillorum_ (that is to say, questions were
put to Beatrice Cenci while she was hanging by her hair.) [Footnote:
See the treatise _de Suppliciis_, by the celebrated Farinacci, a
jurist of the time. It contains horrible details which our nineteenth
century sensibility cannot endure even to read about, but which were
very creditably endured by a Roman girl of sixteen abandoned by her
lover.] While she was fastened to the cord, this new judge confronted
Beatrice with her stepmother and her brothers.  As soon as Giacomo and
Donna Lucrezia saw her:

"The sin has been committed," they cried; "you should perform the
penance also, and not let your body be torn to pieces through a futile

"So you wish to cover our house with shame," replied the girl, "and to
die an ignominious death. You are greatly mistaken; but, since you
wish it, so be it."

And, turning to the _sbirri_:

"Release me," she said to them, "and let someone read over to me my
mother's examination. I will admit what must be admitted, and deny
what must be denied."

This was duly done; she admitted everything that was true.  [Footnote:
Farinacci quotes several passages from Beatrice's confession; they
seem to me touching in their simplicity.] Immediately the chains were
removed from them all, and because for five months she had not seen
her brothers, she expressed a wish to dine with them, and all four
spent a very happy day together.

But next day they were separated once more; the two brothers were
taken to the prison of Tordinona, while the women remained in the
Savella. Our Holy Father the Pope, having seen the authentic document
containing all their confessions, ordered that without further delay
they should be tied to the tails of wild horses, and so put to death.

The whole of Rome shuddered on learning of this rigorous decree. A
great number of cardinals and princes went to throw themselves on
their knees before the Pope, imploring him to allow the poor wretches
to present their defence.

"And they, did they give their aged father time to present his?" the
Pope replied angrily.

Finally, by a special grace, he was pleased to allow a respite of five
and twenty days. At once the leading _avvocati_ in Rome began to write
their pleadings in this case which had filled the town with pity and
dismay. On the twenty-fifth day, they appeared in a body before His
Holiness.  Niccolo de' Angelis was the first to speak, but he had
barely read the first line of his defence when Clement VIII
interrupted him:

"And so, here in Rome," he exclaimed, "we find people who kill their
father, and counsel afterwards to defend such people!"

All stood speechless, until Farinacci ventured to raise his voice.

"Most Holy Father," he said, "we are here not to defend the crime, but
to prove, if we can, that one or more of these unfortunate people are
innocent of the crime."

The Pope made a sign to him to speak, and he spoke for fully three
hours, after which the Pope took their briefs from them all and
dismissed them. As they were leaving the presence, Altieri was the
last to go; he was afraid that he might have compromised himself, and
turned to kneel before the Pope, saying:

"I could not help appearing in this case, since I am counsel for the

To which the Pope replied:

"We are not surprised at you, but at the others."

The Pope refused to go to bed, but spent the whole night reading the
pleadings of counsel, calling upon the Cardinal of San Marcello to
help him in this task; His Holiness appeared so deeply touched that
many people felt a spark of hope for the lives of the unhappy
prisoners. In the hope of saving the sons, the counsel threw the whole
onus of the crime upon Beatrice. As it had been proved in the trial
that her father had on several occasions employed force with a
criminal intention, the lawyers hoped that the murder would be
pardoned in her case, as being justified in self-defence; and if so,
when the principal author of the crime was granted her life, how could
her brothers, who had acted at her persuasion, be put to death?

After this night devoted to his judicial duties, Clement VIII ordered
that the accused persons should be taken back to prison and placed in
_secret confinement_. This circumstance gave rise to great hopes in
Rome, which throughout the whole of this case considered no one but
Beatrice.  It was alleged that she had been in love with Monsignor
Guerra, but that she had never infringed the rules of the strictest
virtue; it was impossible, therefore, in justice, to impute to her the
crimes of a monster, and she was to be punished because she had made
use of her right of self-defence; what would have been her punishment
had she consented? Was it necessary that human justice should step in
to increase the misery of a creature so lovable, so deserving of pity,
and already in such a plight? After so sad a life, which had heaped
upon her every form of misery before her sixteenth birthday, had she
not acquired the right to a few days of greater happiness? The whole
of Rome seemed to be briefed in her defence. Would she not have been
pardoned if, when for the first time Francesco Cenci made a criminal
assault upon her, she had stabbed him?

Pope Clement VIII was mild and merciful. We were beginning to hope
that, a little ashamed of the burst of ill temper which had made him
interrupt the counsels' pleadings, he would pardon one who had
repelled force with force, not, to be accurate, at the moment of the
original crime, but when the assailant tried to commit it anew. The
whole of Rome was on tenterhooks, when the Pope received the news of
the violent death of the Marchesa Costanza Santa Croce. Her son, Paolo
Santa Croce, had killed the lady in question, who was sixty years old,
by stabbing her with his dagger, because she would not bind herself to
make him the heir to her whole fortune. The report added that Santa
Croce had taken flight, and that there was little or no hope of
arresting him. The Pope remembered the fratricide by the Massini,
which had occurred quite recently.

Appalled by the frequency of these murders of near relatives, His
Holiness felt that he would not be entitled to grant a pardon. When he
received this fatal report of the Santa Croce murder, the Pope was at
the palace of Monte Cavallo, where he was spending the eth of
September, in order to be nearer, next morning, to the Church of Santa
Maria degli Angeli, where he was to consecrate as Bishop a German

On the Friday at the twenty-second hour (4 P.M.) he sent for Ferrante
Taverna, the Governor of Rome (afterwards made Cardinal, for so
singular a reason), and addressed him in the following words:

"_We entrust the case of the Cenci to your hands, in order that
justice may be done without delay_."

The Governor returned to his Palace deeply moved by the order he had
received; he at once signed the sentence of death, and convened a
congregation to decide upon the method of execution.

On Saturday morning, the llth of September, 1599, the first gentlemen
of Rome, members of the Confraternity of the Confortatori, repaired to
the two prisons, that of Corte Savella, where were Beatrice and her
stepmother, and Tordinona, in which Giacomo and Bernardo Cenci were
confined. Throughout the whole of the night between the Friday and the
Saturday, the Roman nobles who were aware of what was happening did
nothing but hasten from the palace of Monte Cavallo to those of the
principal Cardinals, hoping to obtain at least the concession that the
women might be put to death inside the prison, and not upon an
ignominious scaffold; and that mercy be shewn to the young Bernardo
Cenci, who, being only fifteen years old, could not have been admitted
to the secret. The noble Cardinal Sforza was conspicuous for his zeal
during that fatal night, but albeit so powerful a prince he could
obtain nothing. The Santa Croce crime was a vile crime, committed for
the sake of money, and the crime of Beatrice Cenci was committed in
defence of her honour.

While the most powerful Cardinals were taking such fruitless pains,
Farinacci, our great jurist, actually dared to make his way into the
Pope's presence; face to face with His Holiness, this remarkable man
contrived to stir his listener's conscience, and at length, by sheer
importunity, wrested from him the life of Bernardo Cenci.

When the Pope made this important utterance, it was about four o'clock
in the morning (of Saturday, the llth of September). All night long
men had been at work on the _piazza_ of the Ponte Sant' Angelo
preparing the scene of this cruel tragedy. All the necessary copies of
the death sentence could not, however, be completed before five
o'clock in the morning, so that it was not until six o'clock that the
fatal tidings could be conveyed to the wretched prisoners, who were
peacefully asleep.

The girl, for the first few moments, could not even summon up strength
to put on her clothes. She uttered piercing and continuous shrieks and
gave way uncontrollably to the most terrible desperation.

"How is it possible, oh, God," she cried, "that I must die suddenly,
like this?"

Lucrezia Petroni, on the other hand, said nothing that was not
entirely proper; first of all, she fell on her knees and prayed, then
calmly exhorted her daughter to accompany her to the chapel, where
they would make preparation together for the great journey from life
to death.

These words restored to Beatrice all her calm; just as she had shewn
extravagance and want of control at first, so now she was reasonable
and wise as soon as her stepmother had summoned up the resources of
that noble soul.  From that moment she was a mirror of constancy which
all Rome admired.

She asked for a notary to draw up her will, which was permitted. She
ordered that her body should be taken to San Pietro in Montorio; she
left three hundred thousand francs to the Stimate (nuns of the
Stigmata of Saint Francis); this sum was to provide dowries for fifty
poor girls. This example moved the heart of Donna Lucrezia, who also
made her will and ordered her body to be taken to San Giorgio; she
left five hundred thousand francs to that church and made other pious

At eight o'clock they made their confession, heard mass and received
the Holy Communion. But, before going to mass, Donna Beatrice
reflected that it was not proper to appear on the scaffold, in the
sight of the whole populace, in the rich garments which she was
wearing. She ordered two gowns, one for herself, one for her mother.
These gowns were made like nuns' habits, without ornaments on bosom or
shoulders, and gathered only at the wide sleeves.  The stepmother's
gown was of black cotton; the girl's of blue taffeta, with a large
cord fastening it at the waist.

When the gowns were brought, Donna Beatrice, who was on her knees,
rose and said to Donna Lucrezia:

"My lady mother, the hour of our passion approaches; it would be well
for us to make ready, to put on these other clothes, and for the last
time to perform the mutual service of dressing each other."

There had been erected on the _Piazza_, del Ponte Sant' Angelo a huge
scaffold with a block and a _mannaja_ (a sort of guillotine). About
the thirteenth hour (eight o'clock in the morning), the Company of the
Misericordia came with their great crucifix to the gate of the prison.
Giacomo Cenci was the first to emerge; he fell devoutly upon his knees
at the threshold, made his prayer, and kissed the Sacred Wounds on the
crucifix. He was followed by Bernardo Cenci, his young brother, who
also had his hands bound and a little board before his eyes. The crowd
was enormous, and a disturbance arose owing to a basin which fell from
a window almost upon the head of one of the penitents who was holding
a lighted torch by the side of the banner.

Everyone was gazing at the brothers, when suddenly the Fiscal of Rome
came forward, and said:

"Don Bernardo, Our Sovereign Lord grants you your life; prepare to
accompany your family, and pray to God for them."

Thereupon his two _confortatori_ removed the little board that covered
his eyes. The executioner installed Giacomo Cenci on the cart and had
removed his coat, as he was to be tortured with the _pincers_. When
the executioner came to Bernardo, he verified the signature on the
pardon, unbound him, removed his handcuffs, and, as he had no coat,
for he was awaiting the pincers, the executioner set him on the cart
and wrapped him in a rich cloak of broadcloth striped with gold. (It
was said that this was the same cloak that was given by Beatrice to
Marzio after the deed in the fortress of la Petrella.) The vast crowd
that filled the street, the windows and the roofs, was suddenly
stirred; one heard a deep and sullen murmur, people were beginning to
tell one another that the boy had been pardoned.

The intoning of the Psalms began, and the procession moved slowly
across the Piazza Navona towards the Savella prison. On reaching the
prison gate the banner halted, the two women came out, made an act of
adoration at the foot of the holy crucifix and then proceeded on foot,
one following the other. They were dressed in the manner already
described, the head of each being draped in a great taffeta veil which
reached almost to her waist.

Donna Lucrezia, as a widow, wore a black veil and slippers of black
velvet without heels, according to custom.

The girl's veil was of blue taffeta, like her dress; she had in
addition a great veil of cloth of silver over her shoulders, a
petticoat of violet cloth, and slippers of white velvet, elegantly
laced and fastened with crimson cords.  She appeared singularly
charming as she walked, in this costume, and a tear came to every eye
as the spectators caught sight of her slowly advancing in the rear of
the procession.

Both women had their hands free, but their arms tied to their sides,
so that each of them was able to carry a crucifix; they held these
close to their eyes. The sleeves of their gowns were very wide, so
that one saw their arms, which were covered by sleeved shifts fastened
at the wrists, as is the custom in this country.

Donna Lucrezia, whose heart was less stout, wept almost continuously;
the young Beatrice, on the other hand, shewed great courage; and,
turning to gaze at each of the churches by which the procession
passed, would fall on her knees for a moment and say in a firm voice:
"_Adoramus Te, Christe_!"

Meanwhile, poor Giacomo Cenci was being tortured upon the cart, and
shewed great constancy.

The procession had difficulty in crossing the lower end of the Piazza
del Ponte S'ant' Angelo, so great was the number of carriages and the
crowd of people. The women were taken straight to the chapel which had
been made ready, and there Giacomo Cenci was afterwards brought.

Young Bernardo, wrapped in his striped cloak, was taken straight to
the scaffold; whereupon everyone thought that he was going to be put
to death, and had not been pardoned.  The poor boy was so frightened
that he fell in a faint as soon as he had stepped on to the scaffold.
He was revived with cold water and made to sit opposite the _mannaja_.

The executioner went to fetch Donna Lucrezia Petroni; her hands were
tied behind her back, the veil no longer covered her shoulders. She
appeared on the piazza accompanied by the banner, her head wrapped in
the veil of black taffeta; there she made an act of reconciliation to
God and kissed the Sacred Wounds. She was told to leave her slippers
on the pavement; as she was very stout, she had some difficulty in
climbing the scaffold. When she was on the scaffold and the black
taffeta veil was taken from her, she was greatly ashamed to be seen
with bare shoulders and bosom; she examined herself, then the
_mannaja_, and, as a sign of resignation, raised her shoulders
slightly; tears came to her eyes, she said: "O my God!... And you, my
brethren, pray for my soul."

Not knowing what was expected of her, she asked Alessandro, the chief
headsman, what she ought to do.  He told her to place herself astride
the plank of the block. But this position seemed to her offensive to
modesty, and she took a long time to assume it. (The details which
follow are endurable by the Italian public, which likes to know
everything with the utmost exactitude; let it suffice the French
reader to know that this poor woman's modesty led to her injuring her
bosom; the executioner shewed her head to the people and then wrapped
it in the black taffeta veil.)

While the _mannaja_ was being put in order for the girl, a scaffold
loaded with spectators fell, and many people were killed. They thus
appeared in God's presence before Beatrice.

When Beatrice saw the banner returning to the chapel to fetch her, she
asked boldly:

"Is my lady mother really dead?"

They replied that it was so; she fell on her knees before the crucifix
and prayed fervently for her stepmother's soul.  Then she spoke aloud
and at great length to the crucifix.

"Lord, Thou hast come back for me, and I will follow Thee with a
willing heart, despairing not of Thy mercy for my great sin," etc.

She then repeated several Psalms and prayers, all in praise of God.
When at length the executioner appeared before her with a cord, she

"Bind this body which is to be punished, and unbind this soul which is
to win immortality and an eternal glory."

Then she rose, said her prayer, left her slippers at the foot of the
steps and, having mounted the scaffold, stepped nimbly across the
plank, placed her neck beneath the _mannaja_, and made all the
arrangements perfectly herself, so as to avoid being touched by the
executioner. By the swiftness of her movements she prevented the
crowd, at the moment when the taffeta veil was taken from her, from
seeing her shoulders and bosom. The blow was a long time in falling,
as an interruption occurred. During this time she called in a loud
voice upon Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Virgin.  [Footnote: A
contemporary writer states that Clement VIII was extremely uneasy as
to the salvation of Beatrice's soul; as he knew that she had been
unjustly sentenced, he feared an impatient revulsion. The moment she
had placed her head upon the _mannaja_, the fortress of Sant' Angelo,
from which the _mannaja_ was plainly visible, fired a gun. The Pope,
who was engaged in prayer at Monte Cavallo, awaiting this signal, at
once gave the girl the Papal major absolution _in articula mortis_.
This accounts for the delay in carrying out the sentence, of which the
chronicler speaks.]

Her body sprang with an impulsive movement at the fatal instant. Poor
Bernardo Cenci, who had remained seated on the scaffold, fell once
again in a faint, and it took his _confortatori_ a good half hour and
more to revive him. Then there appeared upon the scaffold Giacomo
Cenci; but here again we must pass over details that are too
harrowing. Giacomo Cenci was "broken" (_mazzolato_).

Immediately, Bernardo was taken back to prison; he was in a high fever
and was bled.

As for the poor women, each of them was placed in her coffin and laid
down a few feet away from the scaffold, near the statue of Saint Paul,
which is the first on the right-hand side on the Ponte Sant' Angelo.
Round each coffin burned four candles of white wax.

Later, with all that remained of Giacomo Cenci, they were conveyed to
the palace of the Florentine Consul. At a quarter past nine in the
evening, [Footnote: This is the hour set apart, in Rome, for the
obsequies of Princes. The funeral of a citizen starts at sunset; the
lesser nobility are carried to church at the first hour of night,
Cardinals and Princes at half-past two of the night, which, on the
llth of September, corresponds to a quarter to ten.] the body of the
girl, dressed in her own clothes and covered with a profusion of
flowers, was carried to San Pietro in Montorio. She was exquisitely
beautiful; looking at her, one would have said that she was asleep.
She was buried in front of the high altar, and of Raphael's
_Transfiguration_. She was escorted by fifty great candles, lighted,
and by all the Franciscans in Rome.

Lucrezia Petroni was carried, at ten o'clock at night, to the Church
of San Giorgio. During the course of this tragedy, the crowd was
beyond number; as far as the eye could reach, one saw the streets
packed with carriages and people, scaffoldings, windows and roofs
covered with curious spectators. The sun's heat was so intense that
day that many people lost consciousness. Any number of them took
fever; and when the whole affair was at an end, at the nineteenth hour
(a quarter to two), and the crowd dispersed, many people were
suffocated, others trampled down by the horses. The number of deaths
was considerable.

Donna Lucrezia Petroni was of middle height, or a little shorter, and,
although fifty years old, was still a handsome woman. She had very
fine features, a small nose, dark eyes, the skin of her face quite
white with a fine complexion; her hair, which was not abundant, was

Beatrice Cenci, who must inspire undying regret, was just sixteen; she
was of short stature; her figure was charmingly rounded, and there
were dimples in the centre of her cheeks, so that, lying dead and
garlanded with flowers, she appeared to be asleep and even smiling, as
she had so often lain when she was alive. Her mouth was small, her
hair golden, and naturally curling. As she went to the scaffold these
fair ringlets fell over her eyes, which gave her a certain charm and
inspired pity.

Giacomo Cenci was of short stature, stout, with a pale face and black
beard; he was about twenty-six years old when he died.

Bernardo Cenci closely resembled his sister, and as he wore his hair
long like hers, many people, when he appeared on the scaffold, mistook
him for her.

The heat of the sun had been so intense that a number of the
spectators of this tragedy died during the night, and among them
Ubaldino Ubaldini, a young man of rare beauty who had until then been
in perfect health. He was brother to Signor Renzi, so well known in
Rome.  Thus the shades of the Cenci left this world numerously

Yesterday, which was Tuesday the 14th of September, 1599, the
penitents of San Marcello, on the occasion of the Feast of the Holy
Cross, made use of their privilege to deliver from prison Don Bernardo
Cenci, who has bound himself to pay within a year four hundred
thousand francs to the Santissima Trinità del Ponte Sisto.

_Added by another hand_.

It is from him that the Francesco and Bernardo Cenci, now alive,

The famous Farinacci, who, by his persistence, saved young Cenci's
life, afterwards published his pleadings. He gives only an extract
from pleading no. 66, which he declaimed before Clement VIII on behalf
of the Cenci.  This pleading, in the Latin tongue, would occupy fully
six pages, and I cannot insert it here; this I regret, as it portrays
the mental attitude of 1599; it seems to me eminently reasonable. Many
years after 1599, Farinacci, when sending his pleadings to the press,
added a note to this speech in defence of the Cenci: _Omnes fuerunt
ultimo supplicio effecti, excepto Bernardo qui ad triremes cum bonorum
confiscatione condemnatus fuit, ac etiam ad interessendum aliorum
morti prout interfuit_. The end of this Latin note is touching, but I
expect the reader is tired of so long a story.


Palermo, July 22nd, 1838.

I am nothing of a naturalist, I have only a very moderate acquaintance
with the Greek language; my chief object in coming to visit Sicily has
not been to observe the phenomena of Etna, nor to throw light, for my
own or for other people's benefit, on all that the old Greek writers
have said about Sicily. I sought first of all the pleasure of the
eyes, which is considerable in this strange land. It resembles Africa,
or so people say; but what to my mind is quite certain is that it
resembles Italy only in its devouring passions. The Sicilians are a
race of whom one might well say that the word _impossible_ does not
exist for them once they are inflamed by love or by hatred, and
hatred, in this fair land, never arises from any pecuniary interest.

I observe that in England, and above all in France, one often hears
people speak of _Italian passion_, of the frenzied passion which was
to be found in Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In
our time, that noble passion is dead, quite dead, among the classes
that have become infected with the desire to imitate French ways, and
the modes of behaviour in fashion in Paris or in London.

I am well aware that I may be reminded that, from the time of Charles
V (1530), Naples, Florence and Rome even were inclined to imitate
Spanish ways; but were not these noble social customs based upon the
boundless respect which every man worthy of the name ought to have for
the motions of his own heart? Far from excluding emphasis, they
exaggerated it, whereas the first maxim of the _fats_ who imitated the
Duc de Richelieu, round about 1760, was to appear _moved by nothing_.
The maxim of the English dandies, whom they now copy at Naples in
preference to the French fats, is it not to appear bored by
everything, superior to everything?

Thus _Italian passion_ has ceased to exist, for a century past, among
the good society of that country.

In order to form some idea of this _Italian passion_, of which our
novelists speak with such assurance, I have been obliged to turn to
history; and even then the major histories, written by men of talent,
and often too pompous, give us practically no details. They do not
condescend to take note of the foolish actions except when these are
committed by kings or princes. I have had recourse to the local
history of each city; but I am appalled by the abundance of material.
Every little town proudly offers you its history in three or four
quarto volumes of print, and seven or eight volumes in manuscript; the
latter almost undecipherable, teeming with abbreviations, giving
unusual shapes to the letters, and, at the most interesting moments,
crammed with forms of speech in use in the district but unintelligible
twenty leagues away. For, in the whole of this fair land of Italy,
whose surface love has sown with so many tragedies, three cities only,
Florence, Siena and Rome, speak more or less as they write; everywhere
else the written language is a hundred leagues apart from the spoken.

What is known as Italian passion, that is to say the passion that
seeks its own satisfaction, and not to give one's neighbour an
enhanced idea of oneself, begins with the revival of society, in the
twelfth century, and dies out, among people of refinement at least,
about the year 1734.  At this date the Bourbons ascend the throne of
Naples in the person of Don Carlos, son of a Farnese heiress married
as his second wife to Philip V, that melancholy grandson of Louis XIV,
so intrepid amid shot and shell, so listless, and so passionately fond
of music. We know that for twenty-four years the sublime eunuch
Farinelli sang to him every day three favourite airs, which never

A philosophic mind may find something curious in the details of a
passion as felt in Rome or Naples, but I must say that nothing seems
to me more absurd than those novels that give Italian names to their
characters. Are we not all agreed that passions alter whenever we move
a hundred leagues farther north? Is love the same thing at Marseilles
as in Paris? At most, we may say that countries which have long been
subjected to the same form of government shew a sort of outward
similarity in their social customs.

Scenery, like passions and music, changes also whenever we move three
or four degrees farther north. A Neapolitan landscape would seem
absurd in Venetia, were there not a convention, even in Italy, to
admire the fine works of nature round Naples. In Paris, we go one
better, we imagine that the appearance of the forests and tilled
plains is absolutely the same round Naples as round Venice, and would
like Canaletto, for instance, to use absolutely the same colours as
Salvator Rosa.

But the crowning absurdity, surely, is an English lady endowed with
all the perfections of her Island, but considered not to be in a
position to portray _hatred_ and _love_, even in that Island: Mrs.
Anne Radcliffe giving Italian names and grand passions to the
characters of her celebrated novel: _The Italian, or the Confessional
of the Black Penitents_.

I shall make no attempt to adorn the simplicity, the occasionally
startling bluntness of the all too true narrative which I submit to
the reader's indulgence; for instance, I translate literally the reply
of the Duchess of Palliano to the declaration of love made by her
cousin Marcello Capecce. This family monograph occurs, for some
reason, at the end of the second volume of a manuscript history of
Palermo, of which I can furnish no details.

This narrative, which I have shortened considerably, much to my regret
(I omit a mass of characteristic features), consists of the ultimate
adventures of the ill-fated house of Carafa, rather than of the
interesting history of a single passion. Literary vanity suggests to
me that perhaps it might not have been impossible for me to enhance
the interest of several situations by developing them farther, that is
to say, by guessing and relating to the reader, with details, what the
characters felt. But can I, a young Frenchman, born north of Paris, be
quite sure of my power to guess what was felt by these Italian hearts
in the year 1559? At the very most, I can hope to be able to guess
what may appear elegant and thrilling to French readers in 1838.

This passionate manner of feeling which prevailed in Italy about the
year 1559 required deeds, not words. And so the reader will find very
little conversation in the following narrative. This is a handicap to
my translation, accustomed as we are to the long conversations of the
characters in our fiction; for them a conversation is a duel.  The
story for which I claim all the reader's indulgence shews a singular
element introduced by the Spaniards into Italian manners. I have
nowhere departed from the office of a translator. The faithful
reproduction of the mental attitudes of the sixteenth century, and
even of the narrative style of the chronicler who, apparently, was a
gentleman attached to the household of the unfortunate Duchess of
Palliano, constitutes, to my mind, the chief merit of this tragic
tale, if there be any merit in it.

The strictest Spanish etiquette prevailed at the _court_ of the Duke
of Palliano. Bear in mind that each Cardinal, each Roman Prince had a
similar court, and you will be able to form some idea of the spectacle
furnished, in 1559.  by the civilisation of the city of Rome. Do not
forget that this was the period in which Philip II, requiring for one
of his intrigues the support of two Cardinals, bestowed upon each of
them a revenue of two hundred thousand lire in ecclesiastical
benefices. Rome, although lacking an effective army, was the capital
of the world. Paris, in 1559, was a city of barbarians not without


Gian Pietro Carafa, although sprung from one of the noblest families
of the Kingdom of Naples, behaved in a harsh, rude, violent manner
more befitting a keeper of flocks or herds. He assumed the long coat
(the cassock) and left at an early age for Rome, where he benefited by
the favour of his cousin, Olivero Carafa, Cardinal and Archbishop of
Naples. Alexander VI, that mighty man, who knew everything and could
do anything, made him his _cameriere_ (roughly what we should call
nowadays groom of the chambers). Julius II nominated him Archbishop of
Chieti; Pope Paul created him Cardinal, and finally, after endless
intriguing and disputes among the Cardinals enclosed in Conclave, he
was elected Pope, taking the name of Paul IV; he was then
seventy-eight years old.  The very Cardinals who had just called him
to the Throne of Saint Peter soon shuddered when they thought of the
firmness and fierce, inexorable piety of the master whom they had set
over themselves.

The news of this unexpected election caused a revolution at Naples and
Palermo. Before many days had passed, Rome saw arrive within her gates
innumerable members of the illustrious house of Carafa. All of them
found places; but, as was only natural, the Pope shewed particular
favour to his three nephews, sons of the Conte di Montorio, his

Don Giovanni, the eldest, who was already married, was made Duke of
Palliano. This duchy, taken from Marcantonio Colonna, to whom it
belonged, included a large number of villages and small towns. Don
Carlo, the second of His Holiness's nephews, was a Knight of Malta and
had seen active service; he was created Cardinal, Legate of Bologna
and First Minister. He was a man of great determination; loyal to the
traditions of his family, he made bold to hate the most powerful
monarch in the world (Philip II, King of Spain and of the Indies), and
furnished him with proofs of his hatred. As for the new Pope's third
nephew, Don Antonio Carafa, since he was married, the Pope made him
Marchese di Montebello.  Finally he proposed to give in marriage to
Francis, Dauphin of France and son of King Henry II, a daughter whom
his brother had got by a second marriage; Paul IV was to settle upon
her as her dowry the Kingdom of Naples, which would first be taken
from Philip II, King of Spain. The Carafa family hated this mighty
king, who, with the help of the said family's own weaknesses,
succeeded in wiping it out, as you shall see.

After he had ascended the throne of Saint Peter, the mightiest in the
world, and one which, at that time, eclipsed even that of the
illustrious Spanish monarch, Paul IV, as we have seen occur with most
of his successors, set an example of all the virtues. He was a great
Pope and a great Saint; he set to work to reform abuses within the
Church, and by so doing to avoid the General Council for which all
parties at the Roman Court were clamouring, but which a wise policy
refused to grant.

In accordance with the custom of that age, which our age has let fall
into oblivion, the custom which forbade a Sovereign to repose his
confidence in men who might have interests other than his own, the
States of his Holiness were governed despotically by his three
nephews. The Cardinal was First Minister and carried out his uncle's
wishes; the Duke of Palliano had been created General of the forces of
Holy Church; and the Marchese di Monte-bello, Captain of the Palace
Guard, allowed only such persons as it suited him to admit to cross
its threshold.  Soon these young men were committing the wildest
excesses; they began by appropriating for their own use the
possessions of the families opposed to their rule. The people did not
know where to turn to obtain justice. Not only had they cause to be
afraid for their possessions, but, horrible to relate in the land of
the chaste Lucrèce, the honour of their wives and daughters was not
safe. The Duke of Palliano and his brothers carried off the most
beautiful women; it was enough to have been so unfortunate as to take
their fancy. People were amazed to see them shew no respect for
exalted birth; worse still, they were in no way restrained by the
sanctity of the cloister.  The people, in despair, knew of no one to
whom they might complain, so great was the terror which the three
brothers had inspired in everyone who approached the Pope's presence;
they were insolent to the Ambassadors even.

The Duke had married, before his uncle's rise to greatness, Violante
di Cardone, of a family of Spanish origin which, at Naples, belonged
to the highest aristocracy.

It was numbered in the _Seggio di nido_.

Violante, famed for her rare beauty and for the charm which she knew
how to assume when she sought to attract, was famed even more for her
overweening pride. But, to do her justice, it would have been
difficult to have a moro exalted mind, as she shewed to all the world
by admitting nothing, in the hour of her death, to the Capuchin friar
who came to shrive her. She knew by heart and used to repeat with
infinite charm the admirable _Orlando_ of Messer Ariosto, most of the
_Sonnets_ of the divine Petrarch, the _Tales_ of Pecorone, etc. But
she was even more entrancing when she deigned to entertain her company
with the odd ideas that suggested themselves to her mind.

She had a son who was styled Duca di Cavi. Her brother, Don Ferrante,
Conte d'Aliffe, came to Rome, attracted by the prosperous state of his

The Duke of Palliano maintained a splendid court; the scions of the
first families of Naples fought for the honour of belonging to it.
Among those whom he most cherished, Rome marked out, by its
admiration, Marcello Capecce (of the _Seggio di Nido_), a young
gentleman celebrated at Naples for his intelligence, no less than for
the godlike beauty which heaven had bestowed upon him.

The Duchess had as favourite Diana Brancaccio, then thirty years of
age, closely related to the Marchesa di Montebello, her sister-in-law.
It was rumoured in Rome that, with this favourite, she threw off her
pride; that she confided to her all her secrets. But these secrets
related only to politics; the Duchess aroused passions in others, but
reciprocated none.

On the advice of Cardinal Carafa, the Pope declared war against the
King of Spain, and the King of France sent to the Pope's assistance an
army commanded by the Duc de Guise.

But we must confine ourselves to events at home, inside the court of
the Duke of Palliano.

Capeece had long appeared more or less mad; he was seen to perform the
strangest actions; the fact was that the poor young man had fallen
passionately in love with the Duchess, his _mistress_, but dared not
reveal his condition to her. At the same time, he did not absolutely
despair of attaining his end, for he saw the Duchess intensely annoyed
by a husband who neglected her. The Duke of Palliano was all powerful
in Rome, and the Duchess knew, without any shadow of doubt, that
almost every day the most famous beauties among the ladies of Rome
came to visit her husband in her own palazzo, and this was an insult
to which she could not grow reconciled.  Among the chaplains to His
Holiness Pope Paul IV was a respectable cleric with whom he used to
repeat his breviary. This gentleman, at the risk of his own downfall,
and perhaps at the instigation of the Spanish Ambassador, made bold
one day to reveal to the Pope all his nephews' misdeeds. The holy
pontiff was ill with grief; he tried not to believe the report; but
overwhelming evidence came in from every side. It was on the first day
of the year 1559 that the event occurred which confirmed all the
Pope's suspicions, and perhaps brought him to a decision.  It was
therefore, on the actual Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, a
coincidence which greatly aggravated the offence in the eyes of so
pious a Sovereign, that Andréa Lanfranchi, secretary to the Duke of
Palliano, gave a magnificent supper to Cardinal Carafa, and wishing to
add to the excitement of the palate that of the flesh, invited to this
supper Martuccia, one of the most beautiful, most notorious and
wealthiest courtesans of the noble city of Rome. Fate so willed it
that Capecce, the Duke's favourite, the same who was secretly in love
with the Duchess, and was reckoned the handsomest man in the capital
of the world, had for some time past been attached to Martuccia.  On
the evening in question he searched for her in all the places where he
had any hope of finding her. Not seeing her anywhere, and having heard
that there was a supper party at Lanfranchi's house, he had a
suspicion of what was happening, and towards midnight appeared at
Lanfranchi's door, accompanied by a numerous body of armed men.

The door was opened to him; he was invited to sit down and partake of
the feast; but, after a few words had been exchanged with a certain
constraint, he made a signal to Martuccia to rise and leave the house
with him. While she was hesitating, greatly confused and with an
inkling of what was going to happen, Capecce rose from the chair on
which he was sitting, and, going up to the girl, took her by the hand,
and attempted to carry her off with him.  The Cardinal, in whose
honour she had come to the party, strongly opposed her departure;
Capecce persisted, endeavouring to drag her from the room.

The Cardinal First Minister, who, that evening, had assumed a garb
very different from that which indicated his high rank, took his sword
in hand, and endeavoured, with the vigour and courage which all Rome
knew him to possess, to prevent the girl from leaving. Marcello, blind
with rage, summoned his men; but they were mostly Neapolitans, and,
when they recognised first of all the Duke's secretary and then the
Cardinal, whom the unusual clothes which he was wearing had at first
disguised from them, they sheathed their swords again, declined to
fight, and intervened to settle the dispute.

During this uproar, Martuccia, who was surrounded by the rest, while
Marcello Capecce kept hold of her left hand, was clever enough to
escape. As soon as Marcello noticed her absence he hastened after her,
and his men all followed him.

But the darkness of the night gave rise to the strangest reports, and
on the morning of January 2nd the capital was filled with accounts of
the perilous encounter which had occurred, it was, said, between the
Cardinal's nephew and Marcello Capecce. The Duke of Palliano,
Commander in Chief of the forces of the Church, understood the affair
to be more serious than it actually was, and, as he was not on the
best of terms with his brother the Minister, had Lanfranchi arrested
that same night, while early on the following morning Marcello himself
was put in prison. Then it was discovered that no life had been lost,
and that these imprisonments served only to increase the scandal, the
whole of which fell upon the Cardinal's shoulders.  The prisoners were
quickly set at liberty, and the three brothers combined their enormous
influence to hush up the affair. They expected at first to be
successful; but, on the third day, the whole story came to the ears of
the Pope. He sent for his two nephews and spoke to them as a Prince
might speak who was so pious and so profoundly shocked.

On the fifth day of January, which saw a great number of Cardinals
assembled in the congregation of the Holy Office, the Pope was the
first to speak of this horrible affair; he asked the Cardinals present
how they had dared refrain from bringing it to his knowledge:

"You keep silence! And yet the scandal affects the sublime dignity
with which you are invested! Cardinal Carafa has had the audacity to
appear in the public streets in lay attire and with a drawn sword in
his hand. And with what object? To take forcible possession of a
shameless harlot!"

One may imagine the deathly silence that prevailed among all his
courtiers during this outburst against the First Minister. Here was an
old man of eighty inveighing against a beloved nephew, the master
until then of his will.  In his indignation, the Pope spoke of taking
the hat from his nephew.

The Pope's anger was fanned by the Ambassador of the Grand Duke of
Tuscany, who came to complain to him of a recent insult on the part of
the Cardinal First Minister.  This Cardinal, so powerful until then,
presented himself before His Holiness in the course of his duty. The
Pope kept him for four whole hours in the ante-room, waiting where
everyone could see him, then sent him away without admitting him to an
audience. One may imagine the blow to the Minister's unbounded pride.
The Cardinal was annoyed, but not disposed to yield; he felt that an
old man bowed down with years, dominated all his life long by the love
he bore his family, and moreover little accustomed to the handling of
temporal matters, would be obliged to have recourse to his activity.
The saintly Pope's virtue won the day; he summoned the Cardinals
together, and after gazing at them for a long time without speaking,
finally burst into tears and had no hesitation in making what apology
he could.

"The feebleness of age," he said to them, "and the attention that I
pay to matters of religion, in which, as you know, I am trying to
destroy all the abuses, have led me to entrust my temporal authority
to my three nephews ', they have abused that authority, and I banish
them now for ever."

A brief was then read by which the nephews were deprived of all their
dignities and confined to miserable villages. The Cardinal Prime
Minister was banished to Cività Lavinia, the Duke of Palliano to
Soriano, and the Marchese to Montebello; by this brief, the Duke was
deprived of his fixed revenue, which amounted to seventy-two thousand
piastres (more than a million in 1838).

There could be no question of disobeying these stern orders: the
Carafa had as enemies and watchers the entire population of Rome, who
detested them.

The Duke of Palliano, escorted by the Conte d'Aliffe, his
brother-in-law, and by Leonardo del Cardine, established his quarters
in the little village of Soriano, while the Duchess and her
mother-in-law came to live at Gallese, a wretched hamlet within two
leagues of Soriano.

The neighbourhood is charming, but they were in exile; and they were
banished from Rome, where but a little while since they had held an
insolent sway.

Marcello Capecce had followed his mistress, with the rest of the
courtiers, to the wretched village to which she had been banished.
Instead of the devotion of all Rome this woman, so powerful a few days
earlier, who had exulted in her position with all the arrogance of her
pride, now found herself surrounded only by simple peasants, whose
very amazement kept her in mind of her downfall.  She had no
consolation; her uncle was so old that probably death would overtake
him before he had recalled his nephews, and, to complete their
misfortune, the three brothers hated one another. It was even said
that the Duke and the Marchese, who were not liable to the fiery
passions of the Cardinal, alarmed by his excesses, had gone the length
of denouncing them to the Pope their uncle.

Amidst the horror and shame of this abject disgrace, something
occurred which, unfortunately for the Duchess and for Capecce himself,
shewed plainly that, in Rome, it had not been a genuine passion that
had drawn him in the wake of Martuccia.

One day when the Duchess had sent for him to give him an order, he
found himself alone with her, a thing which did not happen more than
once, perhaps, in a whole year.  When he saw that there was no one
else in the room in which the Duchess received him, Capecce stopped
short and remained silent. He went to the door to see whether there
was anyone that could hear them in the next room, then found courage
to speak as follows:

"Signora, do not vex yourself, do not take offence at the strange
words which I am about to have the temerity to utter. For a long time
past I have loved you more than life itself. If, in a rash moment, I
have ventured to gaze as a lover upon your heavenly beauty, you must
impute the fault not to me, but to the supernatural force which urges
and distracts me. I am in torment, I burn; I ask for nothing to quench
the flame that is consuming me, but simply that your generosity may
take pity upon a servant filled with misgivings and humility."

The Duchess appeared surprised, and, what was more, annoyed.

"Why, Marcello, what have you ever seen in me," she said to him, "to
encourage you to speak to me of love?  Does my life, does my
conversation so far depart from the rules of decent behaviour as to
afford you any justification for such insolence? How could you have
the audacity to suppose that I could give myself to you or to any
other man, except my lord and master? I forgive you for what you have
said to me, because I consider that you are in a frenzied state; but
take care not to make the same mistake again, or I swear I will have
you punished for both pieces of impertinence at once."

The Duchess left him in a towering passion, and indeed Capecce had
failed to observe the laws of prudence: he should have let his love be
guessed and not have spoken.  He stood there speechless, greatly
alarmed lest the Duchess should tell her husband of what had happened.

But the sequel proved to be very different from his apprehensions. In
the solitude of this village, the proud Duchess of Palliano could not
help taking into her confidence and revealing what had been said to
her to her favourite lady in waiting, Diana Brancaccio. This was a
woman of thirty, devoured by burning passions. She had red hair (the
chronicler harps again and again upon this peculiarity, which to him
seems to account for all Diana Brancaccio's mad actions). She was
hotly in love with Domiziano Fornari, a gentleman attached to the
household of the Marchese di Montebello. She wished to take him as her
husband; but would the Marchese and his wife, with whom she had the
honour to be connected by ties of "blood, ever consent to her marriage
to a man actually in their service? This obstacle was insurmountable,
or seemed so at least.

There was but one chance of success: she would have to obtain some
practical support from the Duke of Palliano, the Marchese's elder
brother, and Diana was not without some hope in this direction. The
Duke treated her as one of his family rather than as a servant. He was
a man with an element of simplicity and goodness in his nature, and
attached infinitely less importance than his brothers to questions of
pure etiquette. Although, as a young man would, the Duke made full use
of all the advantages of his exalted position, and was anything but
faithful to his wife, he loved her dearly, and, so far as one might
judge, could not refuse her any favour were she to ask it with a
certain amount of persistence.

The confession which Capecce had ventured to make to the Duchess
seemed to the dark mind of Diana an unlooked-for piece of good
fortune. Her mistress had been until then maddeningly prudent; should
she prove capable of feeling passion, were she to commit a sin, at
every moment she would need Diana, who in turn might look for anything
in the world from a woman whose secrets she would know.

So far from giving any hint to the Duchess first of all of what she
owed to herself, and then of the terrible danger to which she would be
exposing herself amid so sharp-sighted a court, Diana, carried away by
the heat of her passion, spoke of Marcello Capecce to her mistress as
she was in the habit of speaking to herself of Domiziano Fornari. In
the long conversations with which they be-.guiled their solitude, she
found some pretext daily for recalling to the Duchess's memory the
charm and beauty of that poor Marcello who seemed so unhappy; he
belonged, like the Duchess, to one of the first families in Naples,
his manners were as noble as his blood, and he lacked only those
worldly possessions which a caprice of fortune might at any time
bestow upon him, in order to become in every respect the equal of the
woman whom he ventured to love.

Diana was delighted to observe that the first effect of these speeches
was to increase the confidence which the Duchess placed in her.

She did not forget to give a report of what was happening to Marcello
Capecce. During the burning heat of that summer the Duchess often
strolled in the woods which surround Gallese. At the close of day she
would await the turn of the sea breeze on the charming hills which
rise in the midst of those woods, hills from the summit of which the
sea is visible at a distance of less than two leagues.

Without infringing the strict laws of etiquette, Marcello also might
stroll in these woods: he would conceal himself there, it was said,
and took care only to catch the Duchess's eye when she had been led to
think kindly of him by the speeches of Diana Brancaccio. The latter
would then give Marcello a signal.

Diana, seeing her mistress on the point of yielding to the fatal
passion the seeds of which she herself had sown in the other's heart,
herself gave way to the violent love which Domiziano Fornari had
inspired in her. Now at last she was certain of being able to marry
him. But Domiziano was a sober-minded young man, cold and reserved by
nature; the extravagances of his fiery mistress, so far from attaching
him to her, soon became distasteful to him. Diana Brancaccio was
closely related to the Carafa; he might be certain of being stabbed,
should the faintest rumour of his amours come to the ears of the
terrible Cardinal Carafa who, albeit younger than the Duke of
Palliano, was, as a matter of fact, the real head of the family.

The Duchess had yielded, some time since, to Capecce's passion, when
one fine day Domiziano Fornari was not to be found in the village to
which the court of the Marchese di Montebello had been banished. He
had disappeared: it was learned later on that he had taken ship in the
little port of Nettuno; doubtless he had changed his name, and nothing
more was ever heard of him.

How is one to describe Diana's feelings? After listening
good-humouredly for some time to her inveighings against fate, one day
the Duchess of Palliano let her see that this topic of conversation
seemed to her to be exhausted.  Diana saw herself scorned by her
lover; her heart was a prey to the most cruel forces; she drew the
strangest conclusion from the momentary irritation which the Duchess
had felt on hearing a repetition of her complaints.  Diana persuaded
herself that it was the Duchess who had compelled Domiziano Fornari to
leave her for ever, and who, moreover, had furnished him with the
means of travelling. This fantastic idea had no basis apart from
certain remonstrances which the Duchess had once addressed to her. Her
suspicion was swiftly followed by revenge. She sought an audience of
the Duke and told him all that had occurred between his wife and
Marcello.  The Duke refused to believe her.

"Bear in mind," he told her, "that during the last fifteen years I
have not had the least fault to find with the Duchess; she has
withstood the temptations of the court and the pitfalls of the
brilliant position we enjoyed in Rome; the most attractive Princes,
the Duc de Guise himself even, the General of the French Army, found
it a waste of time, and you would have her yield to a mere Esquire!"

As ill luck would have it, the Duke finding time hang on his hands at
Soriano, the village to which he had been banished, and which was but
a couple of leagues from that in which his wife was living, Diana
managed to secure frequent audiences from him, without their coming to
the Duchess's knowledge. Diana had an amazing faculty of invention;
her passion made her eloquent. She furnished the Duke with a mass of
details; revenge had become her sole pleasure. She repeated that,
almost every night, Capecce made his way into the Duchess's room about
eleven o'clock, and did not leave until two or three in the morning.
These reports made so little impression, at first, on the Duke's mind,
that he refused to take the trouble to ride a couple of leagues at
midnight in order to go to Gallese and pay a surprise visit to his
wife's room.

But one evening when he happened to be at Gallese, the sun had set,
and yet it was still light; Diana, quite dishevelled, made her way
into the room in which the Duke was. Everyone else withdrew. She
informed him that Marcello Capecce had just entered the Duchess's
bedroom.  The Duke, who doubtless was in an ill humour at the moment,
took up his dagger and ran to his wife's room, which he entered by a
secret door. There he found Mar-cello Capecce. The lovers did, indeed,
change colour when they saw him come in; but, as a matter of fact,
there was nothing reprehensible in their attitude. The Duchess was in
bed, engaged in making a note of a small sum which she had just paid;
a maid was in the room; Marcello was on his feet, at a distance of
three yards from the bed.

The Duke in his fury seized Marcello by the throat, and dragged him
into an adjoining closet, where he ordered him to fling away the dirk
and dagger with which he was armed. After which the Duke summoned the
men of his guard, by whom Marcello was at once led away to the prisons
of Soriano.

The Duchess was left in her own house, but under close guard.

The Duke was by no means a cruel man; it appears that he did think of
concealing the scandal of the affair, so as not to be obliged to have
recourse to the extreme measures which honour required of him. He
wished it to be thought that Marcello was being kept in prison for a
wholly different reason, and taking as a pretext a number of huge
toads which Marcello had bought at a high price two or three months
previously, he gave out that the young man had attempted to poison
him. But the true nature of the crime was too well known, and the
Cardinal, his brother, sent to ask him when he was going to think of
washing out in the blood of the guilty the insult that had been
offered to their family.

The Duke called to his assistance the Conte d'Aliffe, his wife's
brother, and Antonio Torando, a friend of the family.  The three of
them, forming a sort of tribunal, passed judgment upon Marcello
Capecce, accused of adultery with the Duchess.

The instability of human affairs brought it to pass that Pope Pius IV,
who succeeded Paul IV, belonged to the Spanish faction. He could
refuse nothing to King Philip II, who demanded of him the lives of the
Cardinal and of the Duke of Palliano. The brothers were brought before
the local tribunal, and from the minutes of the trial which they had
to undergo we learn all the circumstances of the death of Marcello

One of the many witnesses who were called gave evidence as follows:

"We were at Soriano; the Duke, my master, held a long conversation
with the Conte d'Aliffe.... Late at night we went down into one of the
cellars, where the Duke had made ready the cords required for putting
the accused to the question. There were present the Duke, the Conte
d'Aliffe, Don Antonio Torando and myself.

"The first witness to be called was Captain Camillo Griffone, the
intimate friend and confidant of Capecce.  The Duke addressed him

"'Tell the truth, my friend. What do you know of Marcello's doings in
the Duchess's room?'

"'I know nothing: for the last three weeks and more I have not spoken
to Marcello.'

"As he refused obstinately to say anything further, the Lord Duke
called in some of his guards from outside.  Griffone was tied to the
cord by the Podestà of Soriano.  The guards pulled the cords, and in
this way raised the witness four fingers'-breadth from the ground.
After the Captain had been suspended thus for fully a quarter of an
hour, he said:

"'Let me down and I will tell you all I know.'

"When they had set him down on the ground, the guards withdrew, and we
remained alone in the cellar with him.

"'It is true that on several occasions I have gone with Marcello to
the Duchess's room,' said the Captain, 'but I know nothing more than
that, because I used to wait for him in a courtyard near at hand until
one o'clock in the morning.'

"The guards were at once recalled, and, on an order from the Duke,
drew him up again, so that his feet were clear of the ground.
Presently the Captain cried out:

"'Let me down, I will speak the truth. It is true,' he went on, 'that,
for many months past, I have observed that Marcello was making love to
the Duchess, and I meant to inform Your Excellency or Don Leonardo.
The Duchess used to send every morning to inquire for Marcello; she
kept making him little presents, among other things preserves of fruit
prepared with great care and very costly;

I have seen Marcello wearing little golden chains of marvellous
workmanship which he had obviously had from the Duchess.'

"After making this statement, the Captain was taken back to prison.
The Duchess's porter was brought in, but said that he knew nothing; he
was bound to the cord and raised in the air. After half an hour he

"'Let me down and I will tell you all I know.'

"Once on the ground again, he pretended to know nothing; he was raised
once more. After half an hour he was let down; he explained that he
had been only a short time in the Duchess's personal service. As it
was possible that the man did really know nothing, he was sent back to
prison. All this had taken a long time on account of the guards, who
were made to leave the room each time. They were intended to suppose
that the trial was one of an attempt at poisoning, with the venom
extracted from the toads.

"The night was already far advanced when the Duke ordered in Marcello
Capecce. The guards having left the room, and the door being duly

"'What business have you,' he asked him, 'in the Duchess's room, that
you stay there until one, two, and sometimes four o'clock in the

"Marcello denied everything; the guards were called, and he was strung
up; the cord dislocated his arms; unable to endure the pain, he asked
to be let down; he was set upon a chair; but after that became
confused in his speech and did not seem himself to know what he was
saying.  The guards were called and strung him up once more; after a
long spell, he asked to be let down.

"'It is true," he said,'that I have entered the Duchess's apartment at
these improper hours; but I was making love to Signora Diana
Brancaccio, one of her Excellency's ladies, to whom I had given a
promise of marriage, and who has granted me all, save such things as
honour for-bids.'

"Marcello was led back to prison, where he was confronted with the
Captain; also with Diana, who denied everything.

"After this Marcello was brought back to the cellar; when we were near
the door:

"'My Lord Duke,' he said, 'Your Excellency will recall that he has
promised me my life if I tell the whole truth.  It is not necessary to
give me the cord again; I am going to tell you everything.'

"He then went up to the Duke, and, in a tremulous and barely
articulate voice, told him that it was true that he had won the favour
of the Duchess. At these words, the Duke flung himself upon Marcello
and bit him in the cheek; he then drew his dagger, and I saw that he
was on the point of stabbing the culprit. At this point I suggested
that it would be as well for Marcello to write down in his own hand
what he had just confessed, and that such a document would serve as a
justification of His Excellency's action. We went into the cellar
where there were writing materials; but the cord had so injured
Marcello's arm and hand, that he was able to write only these few
words: 'Yes, I have betrayed my lord; yes, I have stolen his honour.'

"The Duke read the words as Marcello wrcte them. At this point, he
flung himself upon Marcello and struck him three blows with his
dagger, from which he expired. Diana Brancaccio was present, within an
arm's-length, more dead than alive, and, no doubt, repenting a
thousand times over what she had done.

"'Woman unworthy to be of noble birth,' cried the Duke, 'and sole
cause of my dishonour, for which you have laboured to serve your own
infamous pleasures, I must now give you the reward of all your

"So saying he seized her by the hair and sawed through her throat with
a knife. The wretched woman shed a torrent of blood, and at length
fell down dead.

"The Duke had the two bodies flung into a sewer that ran by the

The young Cardinal Alfonso Carafa, son of the Marchese di Montebello,
the one member of the family that Paul IV had kept in his court, felt
it his duty to tell him of these events. The Pope's only answer was:

"And the Duchess, what have they done with her?"

It was generally thought, in Rome, that these words were tantamount to
the unfortunate woman's death warrant.  But the Duke could not steel
himself to that great sacrifice, either because she was pregnant or
because of the intense affection he had felt for her in the past.

Three months after the great act of virtue which the saintly Pope Paul
IV had performed in parting from the whole of his family, he fell ill,
and, after three months of illness, expired on the 18th of August,

The Cardinal wrote letter after letter to the Duke of Palliano,
incessantly reiterating that their honour demanded the death of the
Duchess. Seeing their uncle dead and not knowing what the next Pope's
attitude might be, he was anxious to have the whole affair finished as
quickly as possible.

The Duke, a simple man, good natured and far less scrupulous than the
Cardinal over mere points of honour, could not bring himself to the
terrible extremes demanded of him. He reminded himself that he had
frequently been unfaithful to the Duchess, without taking the
slightest pairs to conceal his infidelities from her, and that they
might have led so proud a woman to take her revenge. At the very
moment of entering the Conclave, after hearing mass and receiving the
Holy Communion, the Cardinal wrote to him again that he was being
tormented by these continual delays, and vowed that, if the Duke did
not finally make up his mind to do what the honour of their house
required of him, he would take no further interest in his affairs, and
would make no attempt to be of use to him either in the Conclave or
with the new Pope. A reason quite unconnected with the point of honour
helped to determine the Duke's action. Although the Duchess was
closely guarded, she contrived (it is said) to send word to
Marcantonio Colonna, the Duke's mortal enemy, on account of his Duchy
of Palliano which Carafa had secured for himself, that if Marcantonio
were to succeed in saving her life and delivering her from captivity,
she, for her part, would put him in possession of the fortress of
Palliano, the commandant of which was her devoted servant.  On the
28th of August, 1559, the Duke sent to Gallese two companies of
soldiers. On the 30th, Don Leonardo del Cardine, the Duke's kinsman,
and Don Ferrante, Conte d'Aliffe, the Duchess's brother, arrived at
Gallese, and entered the Duchess's apartments to take her life. They
told her that she was to die; she received the news without the
slightest change of countenance. She wished first to make her
confession and to hear the Holy Mass. Then, on these two gentlemen's
approaching her, she observed that they were not acting in concert.
She asked whether there were an order from the Duke, her husband,
authorising her death.

"Yes, Signora," replied Don Leonardo.

The Duchess asked to see it; Don Ferrante shewed it to her.

(I find in the report of the Duke's trial the deposition of the friars
who were present on this terrible occasion.  These depositions are
greatly superior to those of the other witnesses, this being due, I
should say, to the fact that these monks had no fear when speaking
before a court of justice, whereas all the other witnesses had been
more or less the accomplices of their master.)

Fra Antonio di Pavia, a Capuchin, gave evidence as follows:

"After mass, at which she devoutly received the Holy Communion, and
while we were giving her comfort, the Conte d'Aliffe, brother of the
Lady Duchess, entered the room with a cord and a hazel rod of the
thickness of my thumb, and about half an ell in length. He bandaged
the Duchess's eyes with a handkerchief, which she, with great
coolness, pulled lower down over her eyes, so that she should not see.
The Conte put the cord round her throat; but, as it did not run well,
removed it and drew back a few feet; the Duchess hearing his step
pulled the handkerchief from her eyes, and said:

"'Well, what is happening now?'

"The Conte answered:

"'The cord was not running well, I am going to fetch another, so that
you shall not suffer.'

"So saying, he left the room; shortly afterwards he returned with
another cord, arranged the handkerchief once more over her eyes,
placed the cord round her throat, and, passing the rod through the
loop, twisted it and so strangled her. The whole affair, on the
Duchess's part, was conducted in the tone of an ordinary

Fra Antonio di Salazar, another Capuchin, concludes his evidence with
these words:

"I wished to retire from the pavilion, from a scruple of conscience,
so as not to see her die, but the Duchess said to me:

"'Do not go away from here, for the love of God.'"

(Here the friar relates the incidents of her death, exactly as we have
reported them.) He adds:

"She died like a good Christian, frequently repeating: '_Credo,

The two friars, who apparently had obtained the necessary authority
from their superiors, repeat in their depositions that the Duchess
always insisted upon her complete innocence, in all her conversations
with them, in all her confessions, and particularly in that preceding
the mass at which she received the Holy Communion. If she was guilty,
by this act of vanity she cast herself into hell.

When Fra Antonio di Pavia, the Capuchin, was brought face to face with
Don Leonardo del Cardine, the friar said:

"My companion said to the Count that it would be as well to wait until
the Duchess had been confined;'she is in the sixth month,' he went on,
'we must not destroy the soul of the poor little creature she is
carrying in her womb, he must have an opportunity of baptism.'

"To which the Conte d'Aliffe replied:

"'You know that I have to go to Rome, and I do not wish to appear
there with this mask on my face,'" (meaning, "with this insult

Immediately the Duchess was dead, the two Capuchins insisted that her
body be opened without delay, so that the rite of baptism might be
administered to the child; but the Conte and Don Leonardo would not
listen to their entreaties.

Next day, the Duchess was buried in the local church, with ceremony of
a kind (I have read the account of it).  This event, the news of which
at once spread abroad, made but little impression, it had long been
expected; her death had several times already been reported at Gallese
and in Rome, and in any event an assassination outside the city and
during a vacancy of the Holy See was nothing out of the common. The
Conclave that followed the death of Paul IV was very stormy, and
lasted for no less than four months.

On the 2eth of December, 1559, the unfortunate Cardinal Carafa was
obliged to concur in the election of a Cardinal supported by Spain,
and unable, consequently, to decline to take any of the harsh measures
which Philip II would invoke against Cardinal Carafa. The new Pope
took the name of Pius IV.

Had the Cardinal not been in banishment at the moment of his uncle's
death, he would have had control of the election, or at least would
have been in a position to prevent the nomination of an enemy.

Soon after this, both the Cardinal and the Duke were arrested. King
Philip's order was evidently that they should be put to death. They
had to reply to fourteen separate charges. Everyone who could throw
any light upon these charges was examined. The report, which is
extremely well drafted, consists of two folio volumes, which I have
read with great interest, because one finds on every page of them
details of custom which the historians have not thought worthy of the
solemn garb of history. I observed among others certain extremely
picturesque details of an attempt at assassination aimed by the
Spanish party against Cardinal Carafa, then the all-powerful Minister.

Anyhow, he and his brother were condemned for crimes which would not
have been crimes in anyone else, that for instance of having put to
death the lover of an unfaithful wife and the wife herself. A few
years later, Prince Orsini married the sister of the Grand Duke of
Tuscany; he suspected her of infidelity and had her poisoned in
Tuscany itself, with the consent of the Grand Duke her brother, and
yet this was never imputed to him as a crime.  Several Princesses of
the House of Medici died in this way.

When the trial of the two Carafa was ended, a long summary of it was
prepared, and this, on several occasions, was examined by
congregations of Cardinals. It is obvious that once it had been
decided to punish with death a murder committed to avenge an act of
adultery, a sort of crime to which justice never paid any attention,
the Cardinal was guilty of having persecuted the Duke until the crime
was committed, as the Duke was guilty of having ordered its execution.

On the 3rd of March, 1564, Pope Pius IV held a Consistory which lasted
for eight hours, and at the end of which he pronounced sentence on the
Carafa in the following words: "_Prout in schedula_."

On the night of the 4th, the Fiscal sent the Bargello to the Castel
Sant' Angelo, to carry out the sentence of death passed upon the two
brothers, Carlo, Cardinal Carafa, and Giovanni, Duke of Palliano,
which he did.  They dealt first with the Duke. He was transferred from
the Castel Sant' Angelo to the prisons of Tordinone, where everything
was in readiness; it was there that the Duke, the Conte d'Aliffe and
Don Leonardo del Cardine had their heads cut off.

The Duke bore that dread moment not merely like a gentleman of exalted
birth, but like a Christian ready to endure all for the love of God.
He addressed a few noble words to his two companions, encouraging them
in the hour of death; then wrote to his son.  [Footnote: The learned
Signor Sismondi confuses the whole of this story.  See the article
_Carafa_ in the _Biographie Michaud_; he maintains that it was the
Conte di Montorio who had his head cut off on the day of the
Cardinal's death. The Conte was father of the Cardinal and of the Duke
of Palliano. The learned historian confuses the father with the son.]

The Bargello returned to the Castel Sant' Angelo, with an announcement
of death to Cardinal Carafa, giving him no more than an hour to
prepare himself. The Cardinal shewed a greater strength of character
than his brother, all the more as he said less; speech is always a
strength which one seeks outside oneself. He was heard only to mutter
these words in a low tone, on receiving the grim tidings:

"I to die! O Pope Pius! O King Philip!"

He made his confession; repeated the seven Penitential Psalms, then
sat down on a chair and said to the executioner:


The executioner strangled him with a silken cord, which broke; he was
obliged to make a second and a third attempt.  The Cardinal looked at
him without deigning to utter a word.

(_Note added_.)

Not many years later, the sainted Pope Pius V ordered a revision of
the proceedings, which were annulled; the Cardinal and his brother had
all their honours restored to them, and the Procurator General, who
had done most to cause their death, was hanged. Pius V ordered the
suppression of the report; all the copies existing in the libraries
were burned; people were forbidden to preserve one on pain of
excommunication: but the Pope forgot that he had a copy of the report
in his own library, and it was from this copy that all those were made
which we see to-day.




It was a spring evening in 182--. All Rome was astir: the Duca di
B------, the famous banker, was giving a ball in his new palazzo on
the Piazza di Venezia. All the most sumptuous treasures that the arts
of Italy, the luxury of Paris and London can furnish had been
collected for the adornment of this palace. The gathering was immense.
The fair, retiring beauties of noble England had intrigued for the
honour of being present at this ball; they arrived in crowds. The most
beautiful women of Rome vied with them for the prize of beauty.  A
girl whom her sparkling eyes and ebon tresses proclaimed of Roman
birth entered, escorted by her father; every eye followed her. A
singular pride was displayed in her every gesture.

One could see the foreigners who entered the room struck by the
magnificence of this ball. "None of the courts of Europe," they were
saying, "can compare with this."

Kings have not a palace of Roman architecture: they are obliged to
invite the great ladies of their courts; the Duca di B---- invites
only lovely women. This evening he had been fortunate in his
invitations; the men seemed dazzled. Amid so many remarkable women it
was hard to decide which was the most beautiful: the award was for
some time undetermined; but at length Principessa Vanina Vanini, the
girl with the raven hair and fiery eye, was proclaimed queen of the
ball. Immediately the foreigners and the young Romans, deserting all
the other rooms, crowded into the room in which she was.

Her father, Principe Don Asdrubale Vanini, had wished her to dance
first of all with two or three Sovereign Princes from Germany. She
then accepted the invitations of certain extremely handsome and
extremely noble Englishmen; their starched manner irritated her. She
appeared to find more pleasure in teasing young Livio Savelli, who
seemed deeply in love. He was the most brilliant young man in Rome,
and a Prince to boot; but, if you had given him a novel to read, he
would have flung the book away after twenty pages, saying that it made
his head ache.  This was a disadvantage in Vanina's eyes.

Towards midnight a report ran through the ball-room, which caused
quite a stir. A young carbonaro, in detention in the Castel S'ant'
Angelo, had escaped that evening, with the help of a disguise, and,
with an excess of romantic daring, on coming to the outermost
guardroom of the prison, had attacked the soldiers there with a
dagger; but he had been wounded himself, the sbirri were pursuing him
through the streets, following the track of his blood, and hoped to
recapture him.

While this story was going round, Don Livio Savelli, dazzled by the
charms and the success of Vanina, with whom he had just been dancing,
said to her as he led her back to her seat, being almost mad with

"Why, in heaven's name, what sort of person could please you?"

"This young carbonaro who has just made his escape," was Vanina's
reply; "he at least has done something more than take the trouble to
be born."

Principe Don Asdrubale approached his daughter. He is a wealthy man
who for the last twenty years has kept no accounts with his steward,
who lends him his own income at a high rate of interest. If you should
pass him in the street, you would take him for an elderly actor; you
would not notice that his fingers were loaded with five or six
enormous rings set with huge diamonds. His two sons became Jesuits,
and afterwards died insane. He has forgotten them, but it vexes him
that his only daughter, Vanina, declines to marry. She is already
nineteen, and has refused the most brilliant suitors. What is her
reason?  The same that led Sulla to abdicate, her _contempt for the

On the day after the ball, Vanina remarked that her father, the most
casual of men, who never in his life had taken the trouble to carry a
key, was very careful in shutting the door of a little stair which led
to an apartment on the third floor of the palazzo. The windows of this
apartment looked on to a terrace planted with orange trees.  Vanina
went out to pay some calls in Rome; on her return, the main door of
the palazzo was blocked with the preparations for an illumination, the
carriage drove in through the courtyards at the back. Vanina raised
her eyes, and saw with astonishment that one of the windows of the
apartment which her father had so carefully closed was now open. She
got rid of her companion, climbed up to the attics of the palazzo and
after a long search succeeded in finding a small barred window which
overlooked the orange tree terrace. The open window which she had
observed from below was within a few feet of her. Evidently the room
was occupied; but by whom? Next day, Vanina managed to secure the key
of a small door which opened on to the terrace planted with orange

She stole on tiptoe to the window, which was still open.  It was
screened by a sunblind. Inside the room was a bed, and somebody in the
bed. Her first impulse was to retire; but she caught sight of a
woman's gown flung over a chair. On looking more closely at the person
in the bed, she saw that this person was fair, and evidently quite
young. She had no longer any doubt that it was a woman.  The gown
flung over the chair was stained with blood; there was blood also on
the woman's shoes placed beneath a table. The stranger moved in the
bed; Vanina saw that she had been wounded. A great bandage stained
with blood covered her bosom; this bandage was fastened with ribbons
only; it was not a surgeon's hand that had so arranged it. Vanina
noticed that every day, about four o'clock, her father shut himself up
in his own rooms, and then went to visit the stranger; presently he
came downstairs and took his carriage to call upon the Contessa
Vitelleschi. As soon as he had left the house, Vanina went up to the
little terrace, from which she could see the stranger. Her compassion
was strongly aroused towards this young woman who was in such a
plight; she tried to imagine what could have befallen her. The
bloodstained gown that lay on the chair appeared to have been stabbed
with a dagger. Vanina could count the rents in it. One day she saw the
stranger more distinctly: her blue eyes were fastened on the ceiling;
she seemed to be praying. Presently tears welled in those lovely eyes;
the young Princess could hardly refrain from addressing her.  Next
day, Vanina ventured to hide on the little terrace before her father
came upstairs. She saw Don Asdrubale enter the stranger's room; he was
carrying a small basket in which were provisions. The Prince appeared
ill at ease, and said but little. He spoke so low that, although the
window stood open, Vanina could not overhear his words He soon left.

"That poor woman must have very terrible enemies," Vanina said to
herself, "for my father, who is so careless by nature, not to dare to
confide in anyone and to take the trouble to climb a hundred and
twenty steps every day."

One evening, as Vanina was cautiously extending her head towards the
stranger's window, their eyes met, and she was discovered. Vanina fell
on her knees, crying:

"I love you, I am your devoted servant."

The stranger beckoned to her to come in.

"How can I apologise to you?" cried Vanina; "how offensive my foolish
curiosity must appear to you! I swear to keep your secret, and, if you
insist on it, I will never come again."

"Who would not be delighted to see you?" said the stranger. "Do you
live in this palazzo?"

"Certainly," replied Vanina. "But I see that you do not know me: I am
Vanina, Don Asdrubale's daughter."

The stranger looked at her with an air of surprise, then went on:

"Please let me hope that you will come to see me every day; but I
should prefer the Prince not to know of your visits."

Vanina's heart beat violently; the stranger's manner seemed to her
most distinguished. This poor young woman had doubtless given offence
to some powerful man; possibly in a moment of jealousy she had killed
her lover.  Vanina could not conceive any common reason for her
trouble. The stranger told her that she had received a wound in the
shoulder, which had penetrated her breast and gave her great pain.
Often she found her mouth filled with blood.

"And you have no surgeon!" cried Vanina.

"You know that in Rome," said the stranger, "the surgeons have to
furnish the police with an exact report of all the injuries that they
treat. The Prince is kind enough to dress my wounds himself with the
bandage you see here."

The stranger refrained with the most perfect taste from any
commiseration of her accident; Vanina loved her madly. One incident,
however, greatly surprised the young Princess, which was that in the
middle of a conversation which was certainly most serious the stranger
had great difficulty in suppressing a sudden impulse to laughter.

"I should be happy," Vanina said to her, "to know your name."

"I am called Clementina."

"Very well, dear Clementina, to-morrow at five I shall come to see

Next day Vanina found her new friend in great pain.

"I am going to bring you a surgeon," said Vanina as she embraced her.

"I would rather die," said the stranger. "Would you have me compromise
my benefactors?"

"The surgeon of Monsignor Savelli-Catanzara, the Governor of Rome, is
the son of one of our servants," Vanina answered firmly; "he is
devoted to us, and in his position has no fear of anyone. My father
does not do justice to his loyalty; I am going to send for him."

"I do not want any surgeon!" cried the stranger with a vivacity which
surprised Vanina. "Come and see me, and if God is to call me to
Himself, I shall die happy in your arms."

On the following day the stranger was worse.

"If you love me," said Vanina as she left her, "you will see a

"If he comes, my happiness is at an end."

"I am going to send to fetch him," replied Vanina.

Without saying a word, the stranger seized hold of her, and took her
hand, which she covered with kisses. A long silence followed; tears
filled the stranger's eyes. At length she let go Vanina's hand, and
with the air of one going to her death, said to her:

"I have a confession to--make to you. The day before yesterday, I lied
when I said that my name was Clementina; I am an unhappy carbonaro..."

Vanina in her astonishment thrust back her chair, and presently rose.

"I feel," went on the carbonaro, "that this confession is going to
make me forfeit the one blessing which keeps me alive; but I should be
unworthy of myself were I to deceive you. My name is Pietro
Missirilli; I am nineteen; my father is a poor surgeon at Sant' Angelo
in Vado, I myself am a carbonaro. Our venuta was surprised; I was
brought, in chains, from the Romagna to Rome. Cast into a dungeon
lighted day and night by a lamp, I lay there for thirteen months. A
charitable soul conceived the idea of helping me to escape. I was
dressed as a woman. As I was leaving the prison and passing by the
guard at the outer gate, one of them cursed the carbonari; I dealt him
a blow. I swear to you that it was not a piece of vain bravado, but
simply that I was not thinking. Pursued by night through the streets
of Rome after that act of folly, stabbed with bayonet wounds, I had
begun to lose my strength, I entered a house the door of which stood
open, I heard the soldiers coming in after me, I sprang into a garden;
I fell to the ground within a few feet of a woman who was walking

"Contessa Vitelleschi! My father's mistress," said Vanina.

"What! Has she told you?" cried Missirilli. "However that may be, this
lady, whose name must never be uttered, saved my life. As the soldiers
were coming into her house to seize me, your father took me away in
his carriage. I feel very ill: for some days this bayonet wound in my
shoulder has prevented me from breathing. I am going to die, and in
despair, since I shall not see you again."

Vanina had listened with impatience; she swiftly withdrew from the
room. Missirilli read no pity in those lovely eyes, but only the signs
of a proud nature which had been deeply offended.

When it was dark, a surgeon appeared; he was alone.  Missirilli was in
despair; he was afraid that he would never see Vanina again. He
questioned the surgeon, who bled him and made no reply. A similar
silence on each of the days that followed. Pietro's eyes never left
the window on the terrace by which Vanina used to enter; he was very
miserable. Once, about midnight, he thought he could see someone in
the dark on the terrace: was it Vanina?

Vanina came each night to press her face against the panes of the
young carbonaro's window.

"If I speak to him," she said to herself, "I am lost!  No, I must
never see him again!"

Having come to this resolution, she recalled, in spite of herself, the
affection that she had formed for this young man when she had so
stupidly taken him for a woman.  After so pleasant an intimacy, must
she then forget him?  In her most reasonable moments, Vanina was
alarmed by the change that was occurring in her ideas. Ever since
Missirilli had told her his name, all the things of which she was in
the habit of thinking were, so to speak, wrapped in a veil of mist,
and appeared to her now only at a distance.

A week had not gone by before Vanina, pale and trembling, entered the
young carbonaro's room with the surgeon.  She had come to tell him
that he must make the Prince promise to let his place be taken by a
servant. She was not in the room for ten seconds; but some days later
she came back again with the surgeon, from a sense of humanity. One
evening, although Missirilli was much better, and Vanina had no longer
the excuse of being alarmed for his life, she ventured to come
unaccompanied. On seeing her, Missirilli was raised to a pinnacle of
joy, but he was careful to conceal his love; whatever happened, he was
determined not to forget the dignitv befitting a man.  Vanina, who had
come into the room blushing a deep crimson, and dreading amorous
speeches, was disconcerted by the noble and devoted, but by no means
tender friendliness with which he greeted her. She left without his
making any attempt to detain her.

A few days later, when she returned, the same conduct, the same
assurances of respectful devotion and eternal gratitude. So far from
being occupied in putting a check on the transports of the young
carbonaro, Vanina asked herself whether she alone were in love. This
girl, hitherto so proud, was bitterly aware of the full extent of her
folly.  She made a pretence of gaiety, and even of coldness, came less
frequently, but could not bring herself to abandon her visits to the
young invalid.

Missirilli, burning with love, but mindful of his humble birth and of
what he owed to himself, had made a vow that he would not stoop to
talk of love unless Vanina were to spend a week without seeing him.
The pride of the young Princess contested every inch of ground.

"After all," she said to herself at length, "if I see him, it is for
my own sake, to please myself, and I will never confess to him the
interest that he arouses in me."

She paid long visits to Missirilli, who talked to her as he might have
done had there been a score of persons present. One evening, after she
had spent the day hating him, and promising herself that she would be
even colder and more severe with him than usual, she told him that she
loved him. Soon there was nothing left that she could withhold from

Great as her folly may have been, it must be admitted that Vanina was
sublimely happy. Missirilli no longer thought of what he believed to
be due to his dignity as a man; he loved as people love for the first
time at nineteen and in Italy. He felt all the scruples of
"impassioned love," going so far as to confess to this haughty young
Princess the stratagem which he had employed to make her love him. He
was astounded by the fulness of his happiness.  Four months passed
rapidly enough. One day the surgeon set his patient at liberty. "What
am I to do now?" thought Missirilli; "lie concealed in the house of
one of the most beautiful people in Rome? And the vile tj'rants who
kept me for thirteen months in prison without ever allowing me to see
the light of day will think they have disheartened me! Italy, thou art
indeed unfortunate, if thy sons forsake thee for so slight a cause!"

Vanina never doubted that Pietro's greatest happiness lay in remaining
permanently attached to herself; he seemed only too happy; but a
saying of General Bonaparte echoed harshly in the young man's heart
and influenced the whole of his conduct with regard to women. In 1796,
as General Bonaparte was leaving Brescia, the municipal councillors
who were escorting him to the gate of the city told him that the
Brescians loved freedom more than any of the Italians.

"Yes," he replied, "they love to talk about it to their mistresses."

Missirilli said to Vanina with a visible air of constraint:

"As soon as it is dark, I must go out."

"Be careful to come in again before daybreak; I shall be waiting for

"By daybreak I shall be many miles from Rome."

"Very well," said Vanina coldly, "and where are you going?"

"To the Romagna, to have my revenge."

"As I am rich," Vanina went on with perfect calmness, "I hope that you
will let me supply you with arms and money."

Missirilli looked at her for some moments without moving a muscle;
then, flinging himself into her arms:

"Soul of my life," he said to her, "you make me forget everything,
even my duty. But the nobler your heart is, the better you must
understand me."

Vanina wept freely, and it was agreed that he should not leave Rome
until the following night.

"Pietro," she said to him on the morrow, "you have often told me that
a well-known man, a Roman Prince, for instance, with plenty of money
at his disposal, would be in a position to render the utmost services
to the cause of freedom, should Austria ever be engaged abroad, in
some great war."

"Undoubtedly," said Pietro in surprise.

"Very well, you have a stout heart; all you lack is an exalted
position: I have come to offer you my hand and an income of two
hundred thousand lire. I undertake to obtain my father's consent."

Pietro fell at her feet; Vanina was radiant with joy.

"I love you passionately," he told her; "but I am a humble servant of
the Fatherland; the more unhappy Italy is, the more loyal I should be
to her. To obtain Don Asdrubale's consent, I shall have to play a
sorry part for many years. Vanina, I decline your offer."

Missirilli made haste to bind himself by this utterance.  His courage
was failing him.

"My misfortune," he cried, "is that I love you more than life itself,
that to leave Rome is for me the most agonising torture. Oh, that
Italy were set free from the barbarians! With what joy would I set
sail with you to go and live in America."

Vanina's heart was frozen. The refusal of her hand had dealt a blow to
her pride; but presently she threw herself into Missirilli's arms.

"Never have you seemed so adorable," she cried; "yes, my little
country surgeon, I am yours for ever. You are a great man, like our
ancient Romans."

All thoughts of the future, every depressing suggestion of common
sense vanished; it was a moment of perfect love. When they were able
to talk reasonably:

"I shall be in the Romagna almost as soon as you," said Vanina. "I am
going to have myself sent to the baths of la Porretta. I shall stop at
the villa we have at San Niccolo, close to Forli...."

"There I shall spend my life with you!" cried Missirilli.

"My lot henceforward is to dare all," Vanina continued with a sigh. "I
shall ruin myself for you, but no matter.  ... Will you be able to
love a girl who has lost her honour?"

"Are you not my wife," said Missirilli, "and the object of my lifelong
adoration? I shall know how to love and protect you."

Vanina was obliged to go out, on social errands. She had barely left
Missirilli before he began to feel that his conduct was barbarous.

"What is the _Fatherland_?" he asked himself. "It is not a person to
whom we owe gratitude for benefits received, or who may suffer and
call down curses on us if we fail him.  The _Fatherland_ and _Freedom_
are like my cloak, a thing which is useful to me, which I must
purchase, it is true, when I have not acquired it by inheritance from
my father; but after all I love the Fatherland and Freedom because
they are both useful to me. If I have no use for them, if they are to
me like a cloak in the month of August, what is the good of purchasing
them, and at an enormous price?  Vanina is so beautiful! She has so
singular a nature!  Others will seek to attract her; she will forget
me. What woman is there who has never had more than one lover?  Those
Roman Princes, whom I despise as citizens, have so many advantages
over me! They must indeed be attractive!  Ah, if I go, she will forget
me, and I shall lose her for ever."

In the middle of the night, Vanina came to see him; he told her of the
uncertainty in which he had been plunged, and the criticism to which,
because he loved her, he had subjected that great word "Fatherland."
Vanina was very happy.

"If he were absolutely forced to choose between his country and me,"
she told herself, "I should have the preference."

The clock of the neighbouring church struck three, the time had come
for a final leave-taking. Pietro tore himself from the arms of his
mistress. He had begun to descend the little stair, when Vanina,
restraining her tears, said to him with a smile:

"If you had been nursed by some poor woman in the country, would you
do nothing to shew your gratitude?  Would you not seek to repay her?
The future is uncertain, you are going on a journey through the midst
of your enemies: give me three days out of gratitude, as if I were a
poor woman, and to pay me for the care I have taken of you."

Missirilli stayed. At length he left Rome. Thanks to a passport bought
from a foreign embassy, he returned in safety to his family. This was
a great joy to them; they had given him up for dead. His friends
wished to celebrate his home-coming by killing a carabiniere or two
(such is the title borne by the police in the Papal States).

"We must not, when it is not necessary, kill an Italian who knows how
to handle arms," said Missirilli; "our country is not an island, like
happy England: it is soldiers that we need to resist the intervention
of the Sovereigns of Europe."

Some time later Missirilli, hard pressed by the carabinieri, killed a
couple of them with the pistols which Vanina had given him. A price
was set on his head.

Vanina did not appear in the Romagna: Missirilli imagined himself
forgotten. His vanity was hurt; his thoughts began to dwell upon the
difference in rank which divided him from his mistress. In a moment of
weakness and regret for his past happiness it occurred to him that he
might return to Rome to see what Vanina was doing. This mad idea was
beginning to prevail over what he believed to be his duty when one
evening the bell of a church in the mountains sounded the Angelus in a
singular fashion, and as though the ringer were thinking of something
else.  It was the signal for the assembling of the venuta of carbonari
which Missirilli had joined on his arrival in Romagna. That night,
they all met at a certain hermitage in the woods. The two hermits,
drugged with opium, knew nothing of the use to which their little
dwelling was being put. Missirilli, who arrived in great depression,
learned there that the leader of the _venuta_ had been arrested, and
that he, a young man not twenty years old, was about to be elected
leader of a _venuta_ which included men of fifty and more, who had
taken part in all the conspiracies since Murat's expedition in 1815.
On receiving this unexpected honour, Pietro felt his heart beat
violently. As soon as he was alone, he determined to give no more
thought to the young Roman who had forgotten him, and to devote his
whole mind to the duty of _freeing Italy from the barbarians_.
[Footnote: _Liberar l'Italia de' barbari_: the words used by Petrarch
in 1350, and since then repeated by Julius II, Machiavelli and Conte

Two davs later, Missirilli saw in the reports of arrivals and
departures which were supplied to him, as leader of the _venuta_, that
the Principessa Vanina had just arrived at her villa of San Niccolo.
The sight of that name caused him more uneasiness than pleasure. It
was in vain that he imagined himself to be proving his loyalty to his
country by undertaking not to fly that very evening to the villa of
San Niccolo; the thought of Vanina, whom he was neglecting, prevented
him from carrying out his duty in a reasonable manner. He saw her next
day; she loved him still as in Rome. Her father, who wished her to
marry, had delayed her departure. She brought him two thousand
sequins. This unexpected assistance served admirably to accredit
Missirilli in his new office. They had daggers made for them in Corfu;
they won over the Legate's private secretary, whose duty it was to
pursue the carbonari. Thus they obtained a list of the clergy who were
acting as spies for the government.

It was at this time that the organisation was completed of one of the
least senseless conspiracies that have been planned in unhappy Italy.
I shall not enter here into irrelevant details. I shall merely say
that if success had crowned the attempt, Missirilli would have been
able to claim a good share of the glory. At a signal from him, several
thousands of insurgents would have risen, and awaited, armed, the
coming of their superior leaders. The decisive moment was approaching
when, as invariably happens, the conspiracy was paralyzed by the
arrest of the leaders.

Immediately on her arrival in Romagna, Vanina felt that his love of
his country would make her young lover forget all other love. The
young Roman's pride was stung. She tried in vain to reason with
herself; a black melancholy seized her: she found herself cursing
freedom. One day when she had come to Forli to see Missirilli, she was
powerless to check her grief, which until then her pride had managed
to control.

"Truly," she said to him, "you love me like a husband; that is not
what I have a right to expect."

Soon her tears flowed; but they were tears of shame at having so far
lowered herself as to reproach him. Missi-rilli responded to these
tears like a man preoccupied with other things. Suddenly it occurred
to Vanina to leave him and return to Rome. She found a cruel joy in
punishing herself for the weakness that had made her speak. After a
brief interval of silence, her mind was made up; she would feel
herself unworthy of Missirilli if she did not leave him. She rejoiced
in the thought of his pained surprise when he should look around for
her in vain. Presently the reflexion that she had not succeeded in
obtaining the love of the man for whom she had done so many foolish
things moved her profoundly. Then she broke the silence, and did
everything in the world to wring from him a word of love. He said,
with a distracted air, certain quite tender things to her; but it was
in a very different tone that, in speaking of his political
enterprises, he sorrowfully exclaimed:

"Ah, if this attempt does not succeed, if the government discovers it
again, I give up the struggle."

Vanina remained motionless. For the last hour, she had felt that she
would never look upon her lover again. The words he had now uttered
struck a fatal spark in her mind.  She said to herself:

"The carbonari have had several thousands from me.  No one can doubt
my devotion to the conspiracy."

Vanina emerged from her musings only to say to Pietro:

"Will you come and spend the night with me at San Niccolo? Your
meeting this evening can do without you.  To-morrow morning, at San
Niccolo, we can take the air together; that will calm your agitation
and restore the cool judgment you require on great occasions."

Pietro agreed.

Vanina left him to make ready for the journey, locking the door, as
usual, of the little room in which she had hidden him.

She hastened to the house of one of her former maids who had left her
service to marry and keep a small shop in Forli. On reaching the
house, she wrote in haste on the margin of a Book of Hours which she
found in the woman's room, an exact indication of the spot at which
the venuta of carbonari was to assemble that evening. She concluded
lier denunciation with the words: "This venuta is composed of nineteen
members; their names and addresses are as follows." Having written
this list, which was quite accurate except that the name of Missirilli
was omitted, she said to the woman, on whom she could rely:

"Take this book to the Cardinal Legate; make him read what is written
in it, and give you back the book. Here are ten sequins; if the Legate
ever utters your name, your death is certain; but you will save my
life if you make the Legate read the page I have just written."

All went well. The Legate's fear prevented him from standing upon his
dignity. He allowed the humble woman who asked to speak with him to
appear before him with only a mask, but on condition that her hands
were tied.  In this state the shop-keeper was brought into the
presence of the great personage, whom she found entrenched behind an
immense table, covered with a green cloth.

The Legate read the page in the Book of Hours, holding it at a
distance, for fear of some subtle poison. He gave it back to the
woman, and did not have her followed. In less than forty minutes after
she had left her lover, Vanina, who had seen her former maid return,
appeared once more before Missirilli, imagining that for the future he
was entirely hers. She told Mm that^there was an extraordinary
commotion in the town; patrols of carabinieri were to be seen in
streets along which they never went as a rule.

"If you will take my advice," she went on, "we will start this very
instant for San Niccolo."

Missirilli agreed. They proceeded on foot to the young Princess's
carriage, which, with her companion, a discreet and well-rewarded
confidant, was waiting for her half a league from the town.

Having reached the San Niccolo villa, Vanina, disturbed by the thought
of what she had done, multiplied her attentions to her lover. But when
speaking to him of love she felt that she was playing a part. The day
before, when she betrayed him, she had forgotten remorse. As she
clasped her lover in her arms, she said to herself:

"There is a certain word which someone may say to him, and once that
word is uttered, then and for all time, he will regard me with

In the middle of the night, one of Vanina's servants came boldly into
her room. This man was a carbonaro, and she had never known it. So
Missirilli had secrets from her, even in these matters of detail. She
shuddered. The man had come to inform Missirilli that during the
night, at Forli, the houses of nineteen carbonari had been surrounded
and they themselves arrested as they were returning from the _venuta_.
Although taken unawares, nine of them had escaped. The carabinieri had
managed to convey ten to the prison of the citadel. On their way in,
one of these had flung himself down the well, which was deep, and had
killed himself.

Vanina lost countenance; happily Pietro did not observe her; he could
have read her crime in her eyes.... "At the present moment," the
servant went on, "the Forli garrison is lining all the streets. Each
soldier is close enough to the next to be able to speak to him. The
inhabitants cannot cross from one side of the street to the other
except at the places where there is an officer posted."

After the man had left them, Pietro remained pensive for a moment

"There is nothing to be done for the present," he said finally.

Vanina was half dead; she trembled under her lover's gaze.

"Why, what is the matter with you?" he asked her.

Then his thoughts turned to other things, and he ceased to look at
her. Towards midday she ventured to say to him:

"And so another _venuta_ has been surprised; I hope that you are going
to be undisturbed now for some time."

"Quite undisturbed," replied Missirilli with a smile which made her

She went to pay a necessary call upon the parish priest of San
Niccolo, who might perhaps be a spy of the Jesuits.  On returning to
dine at seven o'clock, she found the little room in which her lover
had been concealed empty. Beside herself with alarm, she ran over the
whole house in search of him. In despair, she returned to the little
room, and it was only then that she saw a note; she read:

"I am going to give myself up to the Legate; I despair of our cause;
heaven is against us. Who has betrayed us?  Evidently the wretch who
flung himself down the well.  Since my life is of no use to poor
Italy, I do not wish that my comrades, seeing that I alone have not
been arrested, should imagine that I have sold them. Farewell; if you
love me, try to avenge me. Destroy, crush the scoundrel who has
betrayed us, even if he should be my own father."

Vanina sank down on a chair, half unconscious, and plunged in the most
agonizing grief. She could not utter a word; her eyes were parched and

At length she flung herself upon her knees:

"Great God!" she cried, "hear my vow; yes, I will punish the scoundrel
who has betrayed them; but first I must set Pietro free."

An hour later, she was on her way to Rome. Her father had long been
pressing her to return. During her absence, he had arranged her
marriage with Principe Livio Savelli.  Immediately on Vanina's
arrival, he spoke to her of this marriage, in fear and trembling.
Greatly to his surprise, she consented from the first. That evening,
at Contessa Vitelleschi's, her father presented to her,
semi-officially, Don Livio; she conversed with him freely. He was the
most exquisite young man, and had the finest horses of any; but
although he was admitted to have plenty of intelligence, he was
regarded as so frivolous that he was held in no suspicion by the
government. Vanina reflected that, by first of all turning his head,
she might make a useful agent of him. As he was the nephew of
Monsignor Savelli-Catanzara, Governor of Rome and Minister of Police,
she supposed that the government spies would not dare to follow him.

After shewing herself most kind, for some days, to the charming Don
Livio, Vanina broke to him that he could never be her husband; he had,
according to her, too light a mind.

"If you were not a mere boy," she told him, "your uncle's clerks would
have no secrets for you. For instance, what action is being taken with
regard to the carbonari who were surprised the other day at Forli?"

Don Livio came to inform her, a few days later, that all the carbonari
taken at Forli had escaped. She let her large black eyes rest on him
with a bitter smile of the most profound contempt, and did not
condescend to speak to him throughout the evening. Two days later, Don
Livio came to confess to her, blushing as he did so, that he had been
misinformed at first.

"But," he told her, "I have secured a key to my uncle's room; I see
from the papers I found there that a _congregation_ (or commission)
composed of the Cardinals and prelates who are most highly considered
is meeting in the strictest secrecy, and discussing whether it would
be better to try these carbonari at Ravenna or in Rome. The nine
carbonari taken at Forli and their leader, a certain Missirilli, who
was fool enough to give himself up, are at this moment confined in the
castle of San Leo." [Footnote: Near Rimini in Romagna. It was in this
castle that the famous Cagliostro died; the local report is that he
was smothered there.]

At the word "fool," Vanina gripped the Prince with all her strength.

"I wish," she said, "to see the official papers myself, and to go with
you into your uncle's room; you must have misread what you saw."

At these words, Don Livio shuddered; Vanina asked a thing that was
almost impossible; but the girl's eccentric nature intensified his
love for her. A few days later, Vanina, disguised as a man and wearing
a neat little jacket in the livery of the casa Savelli, was able to
spend half an hour among the most secret documents of the Minister of
Police. She started with joyful excitement when she came upon the
daily report on _Pietro Missirilli, on remand_.  Her hands shook as
she seized the paper. On reading the name again, she felt as though
she must faint. As they left the palace of the Governor of Rome,
Vanina permitted Don Livio to embrace her.

"You are coming very well," she told him, "through the tests to which
I mean to subject you."

After such a compliment, the young Prince would have set fire to the
Vatican to please Vanina. That evening, there was a ball at the French
Ambassador's; she danced frequently, and almost always with him. Don
Livio was wild with joy; he must be kept from thinking.

"My father sometimes acts oddly," Vanina said to him one day; "this
morning he dismissed two of his servants, who came to me in tears. One
asked me to find him a place with your uncle the Governor of Rome; the
other, who served as a gunner under the French, wishes to be employed
in the Castel Sant' Angelo."

"I will take them both into my service," said the young Prince

"Is that what I am asking you to do?" Vanina answered haughtily. "I
repeat to you word for word the request made by these poor men; they
must obtain what they have asked for, and nothing else."

It was the hardest thing imaginable. Monsignor Catan-zara was the most
serious of men, and admitted into his household only people well known
to himself. In the midst of a life filled, apparently, with every
pleasure, Vanina, crushed by remorse, was most unhappy. The slow
course of events was killing her. Her father's man of business had
supplied her with money. Ought she to fly from the paternal roof and
make her way to the Romagna to try to compass her lover's escape?
Absurd as this idea was, she was on the point of putting it into
execution, when chance took pity on her.

Don Livio said to her:

"The ten carbonari of the Missirilli _venuta_ are going to be
transferred to Rome, except that they will be executed in the Romagna
after they have been sentenced. My uncle obtained the Pope's authority
for that this evening. You and I are the only two people in Rome who
know this secret. Are you satisfied?"

"You are growing into a man," replied Vanina; "you may make me a
present of your portrait."

On the day before that on which Missirilli was to reach Rome, Vanina
found an excuse for going to Città Castellana.  It is in the prison of
this town that carbonari are lodged on their way from the Romagna to
Rome. She saw Missirilli in the morning, as he was leaving the prison:
he was chained by himself upon a cart; he struck her as very pale but
not at all despondent. An old woman tossed him a bunch of violets;
Missirilli thanked her with a smile.

Vanina had seen her lover, her mind seemed to revive; she felt fresh
courage. Long before this she had procured a fine advancement for the
Abate Cari, Chaplain of the Castel Sant' Angelo, in which her lover
was to be confined; she had chosen this worthy priest as her
confessor. It is no small matter in Rome to be the confessor of a
Princess, who is the Governor's niece.

The trial of the carbonari from Forli did not take long.  To be
revenged for their transfer to Rome, which it had been unable to
prevent, the "ultra" party had the commission which was to try them
packed with the most ambitious prelates. Over this commission presided
the Minister of Police.

The law against the carbonari is clear: the men from Forli could
entertain no hope; they fought for their lives nevertheless by every
possible subterfuge. Not only did their judges condemn them to death,
but several were in favour of cruel tortures, amputation of the right
hand, and so forth. The Minister of Police, whose fortune was made
(for one leaves that office only to assume the Hat), was in no need of
amputated hands: on submitting the sentence to the Pope, he had the
penalty commuted to some years of imprisonment for all the prisoners.
The sole exception was Pietro Missirilli. The Minister regarded the
young man as a dangerous fanatic, in addition to which he had already
been sentenced to death as guilty of the murder of the two carabinieri
whom we have mentioned. Vanina knew of the sentence and its
commutation within a few minutes of the Minister's return from seeing
the Pope.

On the following evening, when Monsignor Catanzara returned to his
palace about midnight, his valet was not to be found; the Minister,
somewhat surprised, rang several times; finally an aged and
half-witted servant appeared; the Minister, losing patience, decided
to undress himself.  He turned the key in his door; it was a hot
night: he took off his coat, and flung it in a heap upon a chair. This
coat, thrown with excessive force, went beyond the chair, and fell
against the muslin curtain of the window, behind which it outlined the
figure of a man. The Minister sprang swiftly to his bedside and seized
a pistol. As he was returning to the window, a man quite young,
wearing his livery, came towards him, pistol in hand. Seeing him
advance, the Minister raised his own pistol to his eye; and was about
to fire. The young man said to him with a laugh:

"Why, Monsignor, do not you recognise Vanina Vanini?"

"What is the meaning of this ill-timed foolery?" replied the Minister

"Let us discuss the matter calmly," said the girl. "In the first
place, your pistol is not loaded."

The Minister, taken aback, found that this was so; whereupon he took
out a dagger from the pocket of his waistcoat.  [Footnote: A Roman
prelate would doubtless be incapable of commanding an Army Corps with
gallantry, as happened more than once in the case of a divisional
general who was Minister of Police in Paris, at the time of the Malet
conspiracy; but he would never allow himself to be held up so simply
as this in his own house. He would be too much afraid of the satirical
comment of his colleagues. A Roman who knows himself to be hated
always goes about well armed. It has not been thought necessary to
give authority for various other slight differences between Parisian
and Roman habits of speech and behaviour. So far from minimising these
differences, we have felt it our duty to indicate them boldly. The
Romans whom we are describing have not the honour to be French.]

Vanina said to him with a charming little air of authority:

"Let us be seated, Monsignore."

And she took her seat calmly upon a sofa.

"Are you alone, tell me that?" said the Minister.

"Absolutely alone, I swear to you!" cried Vanina.

The Minister took care to verify this assurance: he made a tour of the
room and searched everywhere; after which he sat down upon a chair
three paces away from Vanina.

"What object could I have," said Vanina with a calm and winning air,
"in attempting the life of a man of moderate views, who would probably
be succeeded by some weak hothead, capable of destroying himself and
other people?"

"What is your purpose then, Signorina?" said the Minister crossly.
"This scene is highly improper and must not continue."

"What I am going to add," Vanina went on haughtily, suddenly
forgetting her gracious manner, "concerns you rather than myself. The
life of the carbonaro Missirilli must be saved: if he is executed, you
shall not outlive him by a week. I have no interest in the matter; the
foolish action of which you complain was planned, first of all, for my
own amusement, and also to oblige one of my friends. I wished," went
on Vanina, resuming her air of good breeding, "to do a service to a
man of talent, who will shortly become my uncle, and ought, one would
say, to enhance considerably the fame and fortune of his house." The
Minister ceased to appear angry: Vanina's beauty no doubt contributed
to this rapid alteration. Monsignor Catanzara's fondness for pretty
women was well known in Rome, and in her disguise as a footman of the
casa Savelli, with close-fitting silk stockings, a red waistcoat, her
little sky-blue jacket with its silver braid, and the pistol in her
hand, Vanina was irresistible.

"My future niece," said the Minister, almost laughing, "you are doing
a very foolish thing, and it will not be the last."

"I trust that so wise a person as yourself," replied Vanina, "will
keep my secret, especially from Don Livio; and to bind you, my dear
uncle, if you grant me the life of my friend's favourite, I will give
you a kiss."

It was by continuing the conversation in this half jocular tone, with
which Roman ladies know how to discuss the most serious matters, that
Vanina succeeded in giving to this interview, begun pistol in hand,
the semblance of a visit paid by the young Principessa Savelli to her
uncle the Governor of Rome.

Soon Monsignor Catanzara, while rejecting with lofty scorn the idea
that he could let himself be influenced by fear, found himself
explaining to his niece all the difficulties that he would meet in
trying to save Missirilli's life.  As he talked, the Minister strolled
up and down the room with Vanina; he took a decanter of lemonade that
stood on the mantelpiece and poured some of the liquid into a crystal
glass. Just as he was about to raise it to his lips, Vanina took it
from him, and, after holding it in her hand for some time, let it fall
into the garden, as though by accident. A moment later the Minister
took a chocolate drop from a comfit box. Vanina seized it from him,
saying with a smile:

"Take care, now; everything in the room is poisoned; for your death
was intended. It was I who obtained a reprieve for my future uncle,
that I might not enter the house of Cavelli absolutely empty handed."

Monsignor Catanzara, greatly astonished, thanked his niece, and gave
her good reason to hope for the life of Missirilli.

"Our bargain is made!" cried Vanina, "and in proof of it, here is your
reward," she said, kissing him.

The Minister accepted his reward.

"You must understand, my dear Vanina," he went on, "that I myself do
not like bloodshed. Besides, I am still young, though to you perhaps I
may appear very old, and I may survive to a time in which blood spilt
to-day will leave a stain."

Two o'clock was striking when Monsignor Catanzara accompanied Vanina
to the little gate of his garden.

A couple of days later, when the Minister appeared before the Pope,
considerably embarrassed by the action which he had to take, His
Holiness began:

"First of all, I have a favour to ask of you. There is one of those
carbonari from Forli who is under sentence of death; the thought of
him keeps me awake at night: the man's life must be spared."

The Minister, seeing that the Pope had made up his mind, raised a
number of objections, and ended by writing out a decree or _motu
proprio_, which the Pope signed, regardless of precedent.

Vanina had thought that she might perhaps obtain her lover's reprieve,
but that an attempt would be made to poison him. The day before,
Missirilli had received from the Abate Cari, his confessor, several
little packets of ship's biscuit, with a warning not to touch the food
supplied by the State.

Having afterwards learned that the carbonari from Forli were to be
transferred to the Castle of San Leo, she decided to attempt to see
Missirilli as he passed through Città Castellana; she arrived in that
town twenty-four hours ahead of the prisoners; there she found the
Abate Cari, who had preceded her by several days. He had obtained the
concession from the gaoler that Missirilli might hear mass, at
midnight, in the prison chapel. This was not all: if Missirilli would
consent to have his arms and legs chained together, the gaoler would
withdraw to the door of the chapel, in such a way as not to lose sight
of the prisoner, for whom he was responsible, but to be out of hearing
of anything he might say.

The day which was to decide Vanina's fate dawned at last. As soon as
morning came, she shut herself up in the prison chapel. Who could
describe the thoughts that disturbed her mind during that long day?
Did Missirilli love her sufficiently to forgive her? She had denounced
his _venuta_, but she had saved his life. When reason prevailed in her
tormented brain, Vanina hoped that he would consent to leave Italy
with her: if she had sinned, it was from excess of love. As four was
striking, she heard in the distance, on the cobbled street, the hooves
of the carabinieri's horses. The sound of each hoof-beat seemed to
strike an echo from her heart. Presently she could make out the
rumbling of the carts in which the prisoners were being conveyed. They
stopped in the little _piazza_ outside the prison; she saw two
carabinieri lift up Missirilli, who was alone on one cart, and so
loaded with irons that he could not move. "At least he is alive," she
said to herself, the tears welling into her eyes, "they have not
poisoned him yet." The evening was agonising; the altar lamp, hanging
at a great height, and sparingly supplied with oil by the gaoler, was
the only light in the dark chapel.  Vanina's eyes strayed over the
tombs of various great nobles of the middle ages who had died in the
adjoining prison. Their statues wore an air of ferocity.

All sounds had long ceased; Vanina was absorbed in her sombre
thoughts. Shortly after midnight had struck, she thought she heard a
faint sound, like the fluttering of a bat.  She tried to walk, and
fell half fainting against the altar rail. At that moment, two
spectres appeared close beside her, whom she had not heard come in.
They were the gaoler and Missirilli, so loaded with chains as to be
almost smothered in them. The gaoler opened a dark lantern which he
placed on the altar rail, by Vanina's side, in such a way as to give
him a clear view of his prisoner. He then withdrew to the other end of
the chapel, by the door. No sooner had the gaoler moved away than
Vanina flung herself on Missirilli's bosom. As she clasped him in her
arms, she felt only the cold edges of his chains. "To whom does he owe
these chains?" was her thought. She felt no pleasure in embracing her
lover. This grief was followed by another even more poignant; she
fancied for a moment that Missirilli was aware of her crime, so frigid
was his greeting.

"Dear friend," he said to her at length, "I regret the affection that
you have formed for me; I seek in vain to discover what merit in me
has been capable of inspiring it.  Let us return, believe me, to more
Christian sentiments, let us forget the illusions which hitherto have
been leading us astray; I cannot belong to you. The constant
misfortune that has dogged my undertakings is due perhaps to the state
of mortal sin into which I have so often fallen. To listen only to the
counsels of human prudence, why was not I arrested with my friends, on
that fatal night at Forli? Why, in the moment of danger, was I not
found at my post? Why has my absence then furnished grounds for the
most cruel suspicions? I had another passion besides that for the
liberation of Italy."

Vanina could not get over her surprise at the change in Missirilli.
Without being perceptibly thinner, he had the air of a man of thirty.
Vanina attributed this change to the ill treatment which he had
undergone in prison, and burst into tears.

"Ah!" she said, "the gaolers promised so faithfully that they would
treat you well."

The fact was that at the approach of death all the religious
principles consistent with his passion for the liberation of Italy had
revived in the heart of the young carbonaro.  Gradually Vanina
realised that the astonishing change which she had remarked in her
lover was entirely moral, and in no way the effect of bodily ill
treatment.  Her grief, which she had supposed to have reached its
extreme limit, was intensified still further.

Missirilli was silent; Vanina seemed to be on the point of being
suffocated by her sobs. He spoke, and himself also appeared slightly

"If I loved any single thing in the world, it would be you, Vanina;
but, thanks be to God, I have now but one object in life; I shall die
either in prison or in seeking to give Italy freedom."

Another silence followed; evidently Vanina was incapable of speech:
she attempted to speak, but in vain.  Missirilli went on:

"Duty is cruel, my friend; but if it were not a little difficult to
perform, where would be the heroism? Give me your word that you will
not attempt to see me again."

So far as the chain that was wound tightly about him would allow, he
made a slight movement with his wrist and held out his fingers to

"If you will accept the advice of one who was once dear to you, be
sensible and marry the deserving man whom your father has chosen for
you. Do not confide in him anything that may lead to trouble; but, on
the other hand, never seek to see me again; let us henceforward be
strangers to one another. You have advanced a considerable sum for the
service of the Fatherland; if ever it is delivered from its tyrants,
that sum will be faithfully repaid to you in national bonds."

Vanina was crushed. While he was speaking, Pietro's eve had gleamed
only at the moment when he mentioned the Fatherland.

At length pride came to the rescue of the young Princess; she had
brought with her a supply of diamonds and small files. Without
answering Missirilli, she offered him these.

"I accept from a sense of duty," he told her, "for I must seek to
escape; but I will never see you, I swear it by this latest token of
your bounty. Farewell, Vanina; promise me never to write, never to
attempt to see me; leave me wholly to the Fatherland, I am dead to
you: farewell."

"No," replied Vanina, grown furious, "I wish you to know what I have
done, led on by the love that I bear you."

She then related to him all her activities from the moment when
Missirilli had left the villa of San Niccolo to give himself up to the
Legate. When her tale was finished:

"All this is nothing," said Vanina: "I have done more, in my love for

She then told him of her betrayal.

"Ah, monster," cried Pietro, mad with rage, hurling himself upon her;
and sought to crush her to the ground with his chains.

He would have succeeded hut for the gaoler, who came running at the
sound of her cries. He seized Missirilli.

"There, monster, I will not owe anything to you," said Missirilli to
Vanina, flinging at her, as violently as his chains would allow him,
the files and diamonds, and he moved rapidly away.

Vanina was left speechless. She returned to Rome: and the newspapers
announce that she has just been married to Principe Don Livio Savelli.


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