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Like lightning on the desert path,
When midnight storms are mustering wrath.
She fear'd — she felt that something ill
Lay on her soul, so deep and chill
That there was sin and shame she knew;
That some one was to die - but who?
She had forgotten : did she breathe ?
Could this be still the earth beneath,
The sky above, and men around ;
Or were they fiends who now so frown'd
On one, before whose

eyes
each

eye
Till then had smiled in sympathy ?
All was confused and undefined
To her all-jarr'd and wandering mind;
A chaos of wild hopes and fears :
And now in laughter, now in tears,
But madly still in each extreme,
She strove with that convulsive dream;
For so it seem'd on her to break :
Oh! vainly must she strive to wake!

XV.

The Convent bells are ringing,

But mournfully and slow;
In the gray square turret swinging,

With a deep sound, to and fro.

Heavily to the heart they go! Hark! the hymn is singing – The

song for the dead below, Or the living who shortly shall be so ! For a departing being's soul The death-hymn peals and the hollow bells knoll : He is near his mortal goal ; Kneeling at the Friar's knee: Sad to hear - and piteous to see Kneeling on the bare cold ground, With the block before and the guards around And the headman with his bare arm ready, That the blow may be both swift and steady, Feels if the axe be sharp and true Since he set its edge anew : While the crowd in a speechless circle gather To see the Son fall by the doom of the Father!

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XVL.

It is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day,
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray ;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head,
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away.
That high sun on his head did glisten
As he there did bow and listen -
And the rings of chesnut hair
Curl'd half down his neck so bare;
But brighter still the beam was thrown
Upon the axe which near him shone
With a clear and ghastly glitter
Oh! that parting hour was bitter!
Even the stern stood chill'd with awe :
Dark the crime, and just the law
Yet they shudder'd as they saw.

XVII.

The parting prayers are said and over
Of that false son

and daring lover!
His beads and sins are all recounted,
His hours to their last minute mounted -
His mantling cloak before was stripp'd,
His bright brown locks must now be clipp'd ;
'T is done all closely are they shorn
The vest which till this moment worn
The scarf which Parisina gave
Must not adorn him to the grave.
Even that must now be thrown aside,
And o'er his eyes the kerchief tied ;
But no — that last indignity
Shall ne'er approach his haughty eye.
All feelings seemingly subdued,
In deep disdain were half renew'd,
When headman's hands prepared to bind
Those eyes which would not brook such blind :
As if they dared not look on death.

-yours my forfeit blood and breath

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These hands are chain'd - but let me die
At least with an unshackled eye
Strike : " and as the word he said,
Upon the block he bow'd his head ;
These the last accents Hugo spoke :
66 Strike" - and flashing fell the stroke
Roll’d the head and, gushing, sunk
Back the staind and heaving trunk,
In the dust, which each deep vein
Slaked with its ensanguined rain ;
His eyes and lips a moment quiver,
Convulsed and quick - then fix for ever.
He died, as erring man should die,

Without display, without parade ;
Meekly had he bow'd and pray'd,
As not disdaining priestly aid,
Nor desperate of all hope on high.
And while before the Prior kneeling,
His heart was wean'd from earthly feeling ;
His wrathful sire — his paramour
What were they in such an hour ?
No more reproach - no more despair ;
No thought but heaven — no word but prayer
Save the few which from him broke,
When, bared to meet the headman's stroke,
He claim'd to die with eyes unbound,
His sole adieu to those around.

XVIII.

Still as the lips that closed in death,
Each gazer's bosom held his breath :
But yet, afar, from man to man,
A cold electric shiver

ran,
As down the deadly blow descended
On him whose life and love thus ended ;
And, with a hushing sound compress'd,
A sigh shrunk back on every breast ;
But no more thrilling noise rose there,

Beyond the blow that to the block

Pierced through with forced and sullen shock, Save one:

what cleaves the silent air
So madly shrill, so passing wild?
That, as a mother's o'er her child,
Done to death by sudden blow,
To the sky these accents go,
Like a soul's in endless woe.

Through Azo's palace-lattice driven,
That horrid voice ascends to heaven,
And every eye is turn'd thereon ;
But sound and sight alike are gone!
It was a woman's shriek - and ne'er
In madlier accents rose despair ;
And those who heard it, as it past,
In mercy wish'd it were the last.

XIX.

Her name

Hugo is fallen ; and, from that hour,
No more in palace, hall, or bower,
Was Parisina heard or seen :

as if she ne'er had been -
Was banish'd from each lip and ear,
Like words of wantonness or fear;
And from Prince Azo's voice, by none
Was mention heard of wife or son;
No tomb no memory had they ;
Theirs was unconsecrated clay ;
At least the knight's who died that day
But Parisina's fate lies hid
Like dust beneath the coffin lid :
Whether in convent she abode,
And won to heaven her dreary road,
By blighted and remorseful years
Of scourge, and fast, and sleepless tears ;
Or if she fell by bowl or steel,
For that dark love she dared to feel ;
Or if, upon the moment smote,
She died by tortures less remote ;
Like him she saw upon the block,
With heart that shared the headman's shock
In quicken'd brokenness that came,
In pity, o'er her shatter'd frame,
None knew — and none can ever know.
But whatsoe'er its end below,
Her life began and closed in woe! (")

(1)." This turned out a calamitous year for the people of Ferrara, for there occurred a very tragical event in the court of their sovereign. Our annals, both printed and in manuscript, with the exception of the unpolished and negligent work of Sardi, and one other, have given the following relation of it, from which, however, are rejected many details, and especially the narrative of Bandelli

, who wrote a century afterwards, and who does not accord with the contemporary historians.

" By the above-mentioned Stella dell' Assassino, the Marquis, in the year 1405, had a son called Ugo, a beautiful and ingenious youth. Parisina Malatesta, second wife of Nicco like the generality of step-mothers, treated him with little kindness,

XX.

And Azo found another bride,
And goodly sons grew by his side :
But none so lovely and so brave
As him who wither'd in the grave;

to the infinite regret of the Marquis, who regarded him with fond partiality. One day she asked leave of her husband to undertake a certain journey, to which he consented, but upon condition that Ugo should bear her company; for he hoped by these means to induce her, in the end, to lay aside the obstinate aversion which she had conceived against him. And indeed his intent was accomplished but too well, since, during the journey, she not only divested herself of all her hatred, but fell into the opposite extreme. After their return, the Marquis had no longer any occasion to renew his former reproofs. It happened one day that a servant of the Marquis, named Zoese, or, as some call him, Giorgio, passing before the apartments of Parisina, saw going out froin them one of her chambermaids, all terrified and in tears. Asking the reason, she told him that her mistress, for some slight offence, had been beating her; and, giving vent to her rage, she added, that she could easily be revenged, if she chose to make known the criminal familiarity which subsisted between Parisina and her step-son. The servant took note of the words, and related them to his master. He was astounded thereat, but scarcely believing his ears, he assured himself of the fact, alas! too clearly, on the 18th of May, by looking through a hele made in the ceiling of his wife's chamber. Instantly he broke into a furious rage, and arrested both of them, together with Aldobrandino Rangoni, of Modena, her gentleman, and also, as some say, two of the women of her chamber, as abettors of this sinful act. He ordered them to be brought to a hasty trial, desiring the judges to pronounce sentence, in the accustomed forms, upon the culprits. This sentence was death. Some there were that bestirred themselves in favour of the delinquents, and, among others, Ugoccion Contrario, who was all-powerful with Niccolo, and also his aged and much deserving minister Alberto dal Sale. Both of these, their tears flowing down their cheeks, and upon their knces, implored him for mercy: adducing whatever reasons they could suggest for sparing the offenders, besides those motives of honour and decency which might persuade him to conceal from the public so scandalous a deed. But his rage made him inflexible, and, on the instant, he commanded that the sentence should be put in execution.

“ It was, then, in the prisons of the castle, and exactly in those frightful dungeons which are seen at this day beneath the chamber called the Aurora, at the foot of the Lion's tower, at the top of the street Giovecca, that on the night of the twenty-first of May were beheaded, first, Ugo, and afterwards Parisina. Zoese, he that accused her, conducted the latter under his arm to the place of punishment. She, all along, fancied that she was to be thrown into a pit, and asked at every step, whether she was yet come to the spot ? She was told that her punishment was the axe. She inquired what was become of Ugo, and received for answer, that he was already dead; at the which, sighing grievously, she exclaimed, “Now, then, I wish not myself to live ;' and, being come to the block, she stripped herself with her own hands of all her ornaments, and wrapping a cloth around her head, submitted to the fatal stroke, which terminated the cruel scene. The same was done with Rangoni, who, together with the others, according to two calendars in the library of St. Francesco, was buried in the cemetery of that convent. Nothing else

known respecto ing the women.

** The Marquis kept watch the whole of that dreadful night, and, as he was walk. ing backwards and forwards, inquired of the captain of the castle if Ugo was dead yet? who answered him, Yes. He then gave himself up to the most desperate la mentations, exclaiming, 'Oh! that I too were dead, since I have been hurried on to resolve thus against my own Ugo! And then, gnawing with his teeth a cane which he had in his hand, he passed the rest of the night in sighs and in tears, calling frequently upon his own dear Ugo. On the following day, calling to mind that it would be necessary to make public his justification, seeing that the transaction could not be kept secret, he ordered the narrative to be drawn out upon paper, and sent it to all the courts of Italy. “On receiving this vice, the Doge of Venice, Francesco Fosca

gave orders,

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