Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

were an honour to their age and country; and purposed to perpetrate their crime at a season of hospitality, in the sanctuary of a Christian church, and at the very moment of the elevation of the host, when the audience bowed down before it, and the assassins were presumed to be in the immediate presence of their God.''*

Measures in which Lorenzo took prominent part had baffled the Pope, and checked his progress when he threatened to disturb several of the Italian States. This served to infiame a passion of jealousy, which was already hot enough. And now a band of conspirators was organized against the lives of the Medici, and a military force was provided to quell any insurrection on the part of the Florentines. “ It seems to have been the intention of the conspirators,” says the writer just quoted, “ to have effected their purpose at Fiesole, where Lorenzo then had his country residence, to which they supposed that he would invite the Cardinal and his attendants ;" that is, the men who were engaged in the murderous project. “ Nor were they deceived in this conjecture, for Lorenzo prepared a magnificent entertainment on the occasion; but the absence of Giuliano,” (Lorenzo's brother,) "on account of indisposition, obliged the conspirators to postpone the attempt. Being thus disappointed in their hopes, another plan was now to be adopted; and on further deliberation it was resolved, that the assassination should take place on the succeeding Sunday, in the church of the Reparata, since called Santa Maria del Fiore, and that the signal for execution should be the elevation of the host. At the same moment, the Archbishop and others of the conspirators were to seize upon the palace, or residence of the Magistrates; whilst the office of Giacomo de' Pazzi,” (a leading member of a family most hostile to the Medici,) was to endeavour, by the cry of liberty, to incite the citizens to revolt.

“ The immediate assassination of Giuliano was committed to Francesco de' Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, and that of Lorenzo had been entrusted to the sole hand of Montesicco. This office he had willingly undertaken whilst he understood that it was to be executed in a private dwelling; but he

• Roscoe.

shrank from the idea of polluting the house of God with so heinous a crime. Two Ecclesiastics were therefore selected for the commission of a deed from which the soldier was deterred by conscientious motives.”

Giuliano fell, pierced with nineteen wounds; but the Priests who had undertaken the murder of his more eminent brother were not successful in their vile attempt. Lorenzo drew his sword, and his assailants attempted to make their escape. The church was a scene of indescribable tumult. Friends eagerly crowded about Lorenzo, and the youth of Florence guarded him to his house. In the palace, meanwhile, the Ecclesiastics tried to overpower the Magistrates, and to usurp the seat of government. But this was in vain. The leading conspirators were put to death in the palace, or thrown thence into the streets. It is said that but one escaped. The indignation of the citizens knew no bounds. Florence was strewed with dead bodies and mangled limbs. The Archbishop, in his robes, was hung through the windows of the palace. The surviving Pazzi were doomed either to prison or to exile ; one only excepted, whom Lorenzo generously sheltered for a while, and who was afterwards ordered to remain at his own villa. By the confession of Montesicco it came out most plainly, that the Pope was a party to this execrable plan. Lorenzo strove to check the excesses of popular revenge ; but, while every honour was done to him, and to the memory of his assassinated brother, the actors in the tragedy were branded with all possible infamy.

Giuliano had left an illegitimate son, who became Pope, and “under the name of Clement VII., guided the bark of St. Peter' through a succession of the severest storms which it has ever experienced.”

In regard to Lorenzo, however, it must be added, that he found it needful to prepare for new dangers. His generosity to the relatives of the conspirators is said to have drawn tears, on one or two memorable occasions of displaying it, from the eyes of witnesses. Yet all was of little avail, in the way of influencing his foes, now the more exasperated by utter disappointment The Magistrates of Florence were first anathematized, and then excommunicated, by the Pontiff. One of their Ambassadors, a man of high rank, the same . implacable authority threatened to send to the Castle of St. Angelo; and he was with difficulty deterred by the resolute interference of the Legates from Venice and Milan. The document of Sixtus, issued on this occasion, emphatically styles Lorenzo “the child of iniquity and the nursling of perdition.” The author of this furious language went on to suspend even the Bishops and Clergy of Florence, though they had not been implicated in the proceedings which had given such offence. They retorted in no mild temper or measured terms. Sixtus called in the help of the King of Naples, and a demand was made that Lorenzo should be given up. The patriot now appeared in a highly attractive light. Addressing three hundred of the principal citizens, he besought them to consult the public tranquillity, rather than his personal welfare. The assembly, on the other hand, unanimously resolved to defend his life, though at the hazard of their own.

War and the plague at once menaced Florence. Lorenzo sent his wife and children to a distance. “I now remove from you,” said he to the citizens, “these objects of my affection --whom I would, if necessary, willingly devote for your welfare; that, whatever may be the result of this contest, the resentment of my enemies may be appeased with my blood only.” The Papal and Neapolitan forces were already near, and one or two actual conflicts had resulted in nothing decisive. This state of things was but too likely to excite restlessness and discontent, and Lorenzo boldly determined to brave the utmost personal risk in order to bring the strife to an end. His plan was, secretly to leave Florence, to go to Naples, and surrender himself at once to Ferdinand -resolving either to convince that hostile Sovereign that the Florentine cause was good, or to die, self-immolated, for his distracted country. He left his home in December, 1479. Information of bis coming had reached Naples, and the Commanders of the King's galleys had been instructed to receive him with due honour. He was at once conducted, by members of the royal family, into the King's presence; and his appeals won the most serious attention. The Pope strove to persuade Ferdinand to send Lorenzo to Rome, on pretence of effecting a

general amity. But it was enough for Lorenzo to have won the King of Naples, and he prudently departed as soon as that end was gained. Thus the Pontiff had not the opportunity of deranging the plan.

Florence received its citizen with exultation. And now, for a brief space, his favourite studies were revived. Poetry succeeded politics and arms. Yet the enduring praise of Lorenzo is drawn from the plans he formed for securing the peace of Italy on a lasting basis. His aim was, to promote the mutual good-will of the states into which that peninsula was divided, and to provide the means of effectual defence against all foreign aggression. Even by the most prudent and pacific measures, however, he did not escape hostility. A second disgraceful attempt was made on his life ; but his friends seized the wretch who had hired himself for this deed of blood, and sentenced him and his accomplices to condign punishment.

(To be continued.)

JUDDO TEWARRE, The bright sun was shining, and the river looked like flowing silver, as it rippled to the sea.

Men and women, boys and girls, were all pressing forward to the city : the sick and the lame, scarcely able to move, still struggled on, or lay beneath the hedge-sides, unable to proceed ; and there were hurried meetings, and hasty greetings, and the crowds sometimes fell back, as a dervise, with wild and frantic gestures, whirled round and round in bis acts of worship. Travel-worn men, weary with their long journeys, tried to obtain charity, a little money or a little food; but on, on-tramp, tramp-no help, no charity!--it was the feast of the idol Juggernaut.

Amongst the groups assembled, there was one man whose fine and well-made figure attracted attention. His dark skin contrasted with the white robe which was cast tastefully about him, and his loud shouts and boisterous conduct rendered him remarkable. He sang, leapt, threw himself into strange contortions, though he had travelled many a weary mile to be present at the festival.

Juddo Tewarre had left a wife and six little ones far, far

away. They had hung upon his neck, they had kissed his lips, they had begged him not to go; the sorrowful glance of his wife pleaded for his stay ; but the man had determined : Juddo Tewarre must be present at the festival; his religion demanded the sacrifice.

The crowd increased, the music of the dancers was heard; the dancers were amongst the people, and still the crowds increased, and still the tall form was seen amongst them, firm, erect, amidst the wavering crowd, like a rock in the sea.

Presently the music and the shouts of the people grew louder, and far away a huge tower was seen, the throne of the idol Juggernaut. It drew nearer, placed on a car or tower more than sixty feet high, resting on wheels, which indented the ground deeply, as they turned slowly under the ponderous machine. Attached to the car were strong ropes, by which the people drew it along. Thousands of men, women, and children pulled the ropes. Even infants were made to exert their strength ; for it was accounted a religious act to pull the god along. Upon the tower were the Priests of the idol, surrounding. his throne; and more than one hundred and twenty persons in the car. The idol was made of black wood, having a frightful visage, a huge mouth, painted blood-colour, the arms of gold, and the idol itself dressed in a beautiful robe. Five elephants came first, dressed with crimson hangings and silver bells. Juddo Tewarre now pressed forward ; the High-Priest, in his rich robes, was standing at the front of the car. A sudden motion from Juddo produced instant silence. The music ceased, the terrible clash of the gongs died away, the Priests stopped their songs, the people their shouts, as Juddo stepped into the open space, and laid himself down in the road, his arms stretched forward, his face in the sand. Was there no thought of his little ones, no thought of his wife, no longing desire to look again upon the date-groves and the still water near his far-off home? No; he must die; he had come to do it !

The shouts broke out once more as, with a creaking sound, the heavy wheels of the car began to turn; the music, the gongs, are at their loudest, the tower is near, the shouts louder, still louder; the terrible shriek cannot be heard,

« AnteriorContinuar »