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Like lightning on the desert path,
The Convent bells are ringing,
But mournfully and slow;
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!
It is a lovely hour as yet
The parting prayers are said and over
and daring lover!
-yours my forfeit blood and breath
These hands are chain'd - but let me die
Without display, without parade ;
Still as the lips that closed in death,
Beyond the blow that to the block
Pierced through with forced and sullen shock, Save one:
what cleaves the silent air
Through Azo's palace-lattice driven,
Hugo is fallen ; and, from that hour,
as if she ne'er had been -
(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,
And Azo found another bride,
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