Imágenes de página
[blocks in formation]


Man. I am prepared for all things, but deny which summons me. Who sent power thee here ?

Spirit. Thou 'It know anon- - Come! Come !

Man. I have commanded Things of an essence greater far than thine, And striven with thy masters. Get thee hence !

Spirit. Mortal! thine hour is come Away! I say.

Man. I knew, and know my hour is come, but not

To render up my soul to such as thee:
Away! I'll die as I have lived
Spirit. Then I must summon up my bre-
thren.- Rise! [Other Spirits rise up.
Abbot. Avaunt! ye evil ones! — Avaunt!
Ye have no power where piety hath power,
And I do charge ye in the name

Old man!
We know ourselves, our mission, and thine

- alone.

[ocr errors]



Waste not thy holy words on idle uses,
It were in vain: this man is forfeited.
Once more I summon him - Away! away!
Man. I do defy ye, — though I feel my



Is ebbing from me, yet I do defy ye;
Nor will I hence, while I have earthly


To breathe my scorn upon ye-earthly


To wrestle, though with spirits; what ye take

Shall be ta'en limb by limb.
Reluctant mortal!
In this the Magian who would so pervade
The world invisible, and make himself
Almost our equal? - Can it be that thou
Ar us in love wit life? the very life
Which made thee wretched!
Thou false fiend, thou liest !
My life is in its last hour,- that I know, 370
Nor would redeem a moment of that hour.
I do not combat against death, but thee
And thy surrounding angels; my past power
Was purchased by no compact with thy



But by superior science, penance, daring, And length of watching, strength of mind,

and skill

In knowledge of our fathers when the earth
Saw men and spirits walking side by side
And gave ye no supremacy: I stand
Upon my strength — I do defy — deny -
Spurn back, and scorn ye!-




But thy many crimes

Have made thee—

Man. What are they to such as thee? Must crimes be punish'd but by other crimes,

And greater criminals? - Back to thy hell! Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel; Thou never shalt possess me, that I know: What I have done is done; I bear within A torture which could nothing gain from thine.

The mind which is immortal makes itself
Requital for its good or evil thoughts, 390
Is its own origin of ill and end,

And its own place and time; its innate sense,
When stripp'd of this mortality, derives
No colour from the fleeting things without,
But is absorb'd in sufferance or in joy,
Born from the knowledge of its own desert.
Thou didst not tempt me, and thou couldst
not tempt me;


I have not been thy dupe nor am thy prey, But was my own destroyer, and will be My own hereafter. Back, ye baffled fiends! The hand of death is on me- but not yours! [The Demons disappear. Abbot. Alas! how pale thou art - thy lips are white. And thy breast heavesing throat

and in thy gasp

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


The conspiracy of the Doge Marino Faliero is one of the most remarkable events in the annals of the most singular government, city, and people of modern history. It occurred in the year 1355. Every thing about Venice is, or was, extraordinary her aspect is like a dream, and her history is like a romance. The story of this Doge is to be found in all her Chronicles, and particularly detailed in the Lives of the Doges, by Marin Sanuto, which is given in the Appendix. It is simply and clearly related, and is perhaps more dramatic in itself than any scenes which can be founded upon the subject.

Marino Faliero appears to have been a man of talents and of courage. I find him commander in chief of the land forces at the siege of Zara, where he beat the King of Hungary and his army of eighty thousand men, killing eight thousand men, and keeping the besieged at the same time in check; an exploit to which I know none similar in history, except that of Cæsar at Alesia, and of Prince Eugene at Belgrade. He was afterwards commander of the fleet in the same war. He took Capo d'Istria. He was ambassador at Genoa and Rome, - at which last he received the news of his election to the dukedom; his absence being a proof

that he sought it by no intrigue, since he was apprized of his predecessor's death and his own succession at the same moment. But he appears to have been of an ungovernable temper. A story is told by Sanuto, of his having, many years before, when podesta and captain at Treviso, boxed the ears of the bishop, who was somewhat tardy in bringing the Host. For this, honest Sanuto 'saddles him with a judgment,' as Thwackum did Square; but he does not tell us whether he was punished or rebuked by the Senate for this outrage at the time of its commission. He seems, indeed, to have been afterwards at peace with the church, for we find him ambassador at Rome, and invested with the fief of Val di Marino, in the march of Treviso, and with the title of Count, by Lorenzo Count-bishop of Ceneda. For these facts my authorities are Sanuto, Vettor Sandi, Andrea Navagero, and the account of the siege of Zara, first published by the indefatigable Abate Morelli, in his Monumenti Veneziani di varia Letteratura, printed in 1796, all of which I have looked over in the original language. The moderns, Darù, Sismondi, and Laugier, nearly agree with the ancient chroniclers. Sismondi attributes the conspiracy to his jealousy; but I find this nowhere asserted by the national historians. Vettor Sandi, indeed, says, that Altri scrissero che. dalla gelosa suspizion di esso Doge siasi fatto (Michel Steno) staccar con violenza,' etc., etc.; but this appears to have been by no means the general opinion, nor is it alluded to by Sanuto or by Navagero; and Sandi himself adds, a moment after, that 'per altre Veneziane memorie traspiri, che non il solo desiderio di vendetta lo dispose alla congiura ma anche la innata abituale ambizion sua, per cui anelava a farsi principe independente.' The first motive appears to have been excited by the gross affront of the words written by Michel Steno on the ducal chair, and by the light and inadequate sentence of the Forty on the offender, who was one of their 'tre Capi.' The attentions of Steno himself appear to have been directed towards one of her damsels, and not to the Dogaressa' herself, against whose fame not the slightest insinuation appears, while she is praised for her beauty, and remarked for her youth. Neither do I find it asserted (unless the hint of Sandi be an assertion) that the Doge was actuated by jealousy of his wife; but rather by respect for her, and for his own honour, warranted by his past services and present dignity.

[ocr errors]

I know not that the historical facts are alluded to in English, unless by Dr. Moore in his View of Italy. His account is false and flippant, full of stale jests about old men and young wives, and wondering at so great an

effect from so slight a cause. How so acute and severe an observer of mankind as the author of Zeluco could wonder at this is inconceivable. He knew that a basin of water spilt on Mrs. Masham's gown deprived the Duke of Marlborough of his command, and led to the inglorious peace of Utrecht - that Louis XIV. was plunged into the most desolating wars, because his minister was nettled at his finding fault with a window, and wished to give him another occupation-that Helen lost Troythat Lucretia expelled the Tarquins from Rome-and that Cava brought the Moors to Spain that an insulted husband led the Gauls to Clusium, and thence to Rome - that a single verse of Frederick II. of Prussia on the Abbé de Bernis, and a jest on Madame de Pompadour, led to the battle of Rosbach-that the elopement of Dearbhorgil with Mac Murchad conducted the English to the slavery of Ireland that a personal pique between Maria Antoinette and the Duke of Orleans precipitated the first expulsion of the Bourbonsand, not to multiply instances, that Commodus, Domitian, and Caligula fell victims not to their public tyranny, but to private vengeance and that an order to make Cromwell disembark from the ship in which he would have sailed to America destroyed both king and commonwealth. After these instances, on the least reflection, it is indeed extraordinary in Dr. Moore to seem surprised that a man used to command, who had served and swayed in the most important offices, should fiercely resent, in a fierce age, an unpunished affront, the grossest that can be offered to a man, be he prince or peasant. The age of Faliero is little to the purpose, unless to favour it —

The young man's wrath is like straw on fire, But like red hot steel is the old man's ire.'

'Young men soon give and soon forget affronts, Old age is slow at both.'

Laugier's reflections are more philosophical: Tale fù il fine ignominioso di un' uomo, che la sua nascità, la sua età, il suo carattere dovevano tener lontano dalle passioni produttrici di grandi delitti. I suoi talenti per lungo tempo esercitati ne' maggiori impieghi, la sua capacità sperimentata ne' governi e nelle ambasciate, gli avevano acquistato la stima e la fiducia de' cittadini, ed avevano uniti i suffragj per collocarlo alla testa della republica. Innalzato ad un grado che terminava gloriosamente la sua vita, il risentimento di un' ingiuria leggiera insinuò nel suo cuore tal veleno che bastò a corrompere le antiche sue qualità, e a condurlo al termine dei scellerati; serio esempio, che prova non esservi età, in cui la prudenza umana sia sicura, e che nell' uomo restano sempre passioni capaci a disonorarlo, quando

non invigili sopra se stesso.' [Laugier, Italian translation, vol. iv. pages 30, 31.]

Where did Dr. Moore find that Marino Faliero begged his life? I have searched the chroniclers, and find nothing of the kind; it is true that he avowed all. He was conducted to the place of torture, but there is no mention made of any application for mercy on his part; and the very circumstance of their having taken him to the rack seems to argue any thing but his having shown a want of firmness, which would doubtless have been also mentioned by those minute historians who by no means favour him such, indeed, would be contrary to his character as a soldier, to the age in which he lived, and at which he died, as it is to the truth of history. I know no justification, at any distance of time, for calumniating an historical character: surely truth belongs to the dead, and to the unfortunate; and they who have died upon a scaffold, have generally had faults enough of their own, without attributing to them that which the very incurring of the perils which conducted them to their violent death renders, of all others, the most improbable. The black veil which is painted over the place of Marino Faliero amongst the doges, and the Giants' Staircase where he was crowned, and discrowned, and decapitated, struck forcibly upon my imagination, as did his fiery character and strange story. I went, in 1819, in search of his tomb more than once to the church San Giovanni e San Paolo; and as I was standing before the monument of another family, a priest came up to me and said, I can show you finer monuments than that.' I told him that I was in search of that of the Faliero family, and particularly of the Doge Marino's. 'Oh,' said he, I will show it you;' and conducting me to the outside, pointed out a sarcophagus in the wall with an illegible inscription. He said that it had been in a convent adjoining, but was removed after the French came, and placed in its present situation; that he had seen the tomb opened at its removal; there were still some bones remaining, but no positive vestige of the decapitation. The equestrian statue of which I have made mention in the third act as before that church is not, however, of a Faliero, but of some other now obsolete warrior, although of a later date. There were two other Doges of this family prior to Marino: Ordelafo, who fell in battle at Zara in 1117 (where his descendant afterwards conquered the Huns), and Vital Faliero, who reigned in 1082. The family, originally from Fano, was of the most illustrious in blood and wealth in the city of once the most wealthy and still the most ancient families in Europe. The length I have gone into on this subject will show the interest I have taken in it. Whether I have succeeded or not in the

tragedy, I have at least transferred into our language an historical fact worthy of commemoration.

It is now four years that I have meditated this work; and before I had sufficiently examined the records, I was rather disposed to have made it turn on a jealousy in Faliero. But, perceiving no foundation for this in historical truth, and aware that jealousy is an exhausted passion in the drama, I have given it a more historical form. I was, besides, well advised by the late Matthew Lewis on that point, in talking with him of my intention at Venice in 1817. 'If you make him jealous,' said he, 'recollect that you have to contend with established writers, to say nothing of Shakspeare and an exhausted subject;stick to the old fiery Doge's natural character, which will bear you out, if properly drawn; and make your plot as regular as you can.' Sir William Drummond gave me nearly the same counsel. How far I have followed these instructions, or whether they have availed me, is not for me to decide. I have had no view to the stage; in its present state it is, perhaps, not a very exalted object of ambition; besides, I have been too much behind the scenes to have thought it so at any time. And I cannot conceive any man of irritable feeling putting himself at the mercies of an audience. The sneering reader, and the loud critic, and the tart review, are scattered and distant calamities; but the trampling of an intelligent or of an ignorant audience on a production which, be it good or bad, has been a mental labour to the writer, is a palpable and immediate grievance, heightened by a man's doubt of their competency to judge, and his certainty of his own imprudence in electing them his judges. Were I capable of writing a play which could be deemed stage-worthy, success would give me no pleasure, and failure great pain. It is for this reason that, even during the time of being one of the committee of one of the theatres, I never made the attempt, and never will. But surely there is dramatic power somewhere, where Joanna Baillie, and Millman, and John Wilson exist. The City of the Plague and the Fall of Jerusalem are full of the best matériel for tragedy that has been since Horace Walpole, except passages of Ethwald and De Montfort. It is the fashion to underrate Horace Walpole; firstly, because he was a nobleman, and, secondly, because he was a gentleman; but, to say nothing of the composition of his incomparable letters, and of the Castle of Otranto, he is theUltimus Romanorum,' the author of the Mysterious Mother, a tragedy of the highest order, and not a puling love-play. He is the father of the first romance and of the last tragedy in our language, and surely worthy of

a higher place than any living writer, be he who he may.

In speaking of the drama Marino Faliero, I forgot to mention, that the desire of preserving, though still too remote, a nearer approach to unity than the irregularity, which is the reproach of the English theatrical compositions, permits, has induced me to represent the conspiracy as already formed, and the Doge acceding to it; whereas, in fact, it was of his own preparation and that of Israel Bertuccio. The other characters (except that of the Duchess), incidents, and almost the time, which was wonderfully short for such a design in real life, are strictly historical, except that all the consultations took place in the palace. Had I followed this, the unity would have been better preserved; but I wished to produce the Doge in the full assembly of the conspirators, instead of monotonously placing him always in dialogue with the same individuals. For the real facts, I refer to the Appendix.


[blocks in formation]

Pie. Too long- at least so thinks the Doge.

How bears he
These moments of suspense?
With struggling patience.
Placed at the ducal table, cover'd o'er
With all the apparel of the state, petitions,
Despatches, judgments, acts, reprieves, re-

He sits as rapt in duty; but whene'er
He hears the jarring of a distant door,
Or aught that intimates a coming step,
Or murmur of a voice, his quick eye wanders,
And he will start up from his chair, then

[ocr errors]

And seat himself again, and fix his gaze
Upon some edict; but I have observed
For the last hour he has not turn'd a leaf.
Bat. 'Tis said he is much moved, — and
doubtless 't was

Foul scorn in Steno to offend so grossly. 19 Pie. Ay, if a poor man: Steno's a patrician, Young, galliard, gay, and haughty.

Bat. Then you think He will not be judged hardly? Pie. "T were enough He be judged justly; but 't is not for us To anticipate the sentence of the Forty. Bat. And here it comes. What news,

Vincenzo ?

Enter VINCENZO. Vin. "T is Decided; but as yet his doom's unknown: I saw the president in act to seal

The parchment which will bear the Forty's judgment

Unto the Doge, and hasten to inform him. [Exeunt.


The Ducal Chamber.


Ber. F. It cannot be but they will do you justice.


Doge. Ay, such as the Avogadori did, Who sent up my appeal unto the Forty To try him by his peers, his own tribunal. Ber. F. His peers will scarce protect him; such an act

Would bring contempt on all authority.
Doge. Know you not Venice? Know you
not the Forty?
But we shall see anon.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »