Imagini ale paginilor

the shrine whereon her offering of flowers is laid,—a mourner with veiled and bowed head, praying over the tomb wherein the treasure of her heart reposes; any thing, in short, that tells a tale of mortal hope or mortal suffering.

Thus for me, dearly as I, too, love cedar-forest and mountain-stream, and star-lit sky, our visits to these foreign cities, are replete with interest. Every cathedral peopled with old monuments, every corridore lined with family portraits, every musty volume of ancient legends, presents an infinite variety of pictures of life, as new as they are various; and it pleases me right well to peer into the histories of people differing so much from those who have in real life crossed my path. I like to hear of the chivalrous bravery, the undying love; of the steady faith, the disinterested patriotism, which led men in the olden time to account their own lives as nought in the balance, when the sacrifice of it was required. I like to read of these things, for they belong to a more highly wrought frame of mind than is prevalent in our own country, or in our own times; and it is refreshing now and then to catch a glimpse at people whose god was not ambition, and who cared for money no farther than as it supplied the exigencies of the moment. Surely a great change must have fallen over the animate, as well as over the inanimate world! Now we are all slaves to stars and ribbons,-to the sordid tenant of the mine, or to self; and we go on plotting and accumulating along our weary way, forgetful of the higher order of existence, which ought to claim our deepest anxieties and hopes, till death approaches and whispers of the unthought-of future, in a voice that will not

be hushed; but among the people and the times of which history offers some faint traces, it was not so!

The first city of any interest wherein we tarried after leaving Milan, was Brescia, which the Venetians of olden time used fondly to call the little daughter of St. Mark. While we were waiting for dinner, St. Roy related to us, from memory, some few particulars relative to this city, with which his extensive reading and good memory readily supplied him. He told us how it had been swayed successively by the Visconti and by the Malatesti of Rimini, and how Carmagnuola had won it back for Filippo Maria, and afterwards sought to obtain it for Venice, when serving the Signory as captain of their armies. It is easy to understand his rapid and brilliant success. The city was enclosed by three ramparts at considerable intervals. The citadel was on a hill, without the city. Brescia was in those days distracted by the rival factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines: these last admitted Carmagnuola into the citadel. Once there, his activity soon accomplished the rest; the lines of contravallation and circumvallation which he drew between that part of the city which refused to surrender, and that part which he himself occupied, are described by the writers of the day, as something almost exceeding human strength to execute, and the human mind to imagine.

Nearly a hundred years afterwards, in 1512, Gaston de Foix and his comrades established themselves in this same citadel, while the town was possessed by their enemies, the Venetians. The Venetians had

long desired to call Brescia their own; it was valuable on account of its own importance, as well as for its ready communication with Verona. They had friends within the city, but none dared assist them after the terrible example made of Count Martinengo, by the Baron de Conti. That, however, which neither force, cunning, nor treason could effect, was at last curiously enough brought about by a quarrel between two children. The Lords de Gambara and de Avogara had each a son, about the same age, who were one day playing together. Gambara struck his companion and wounded him dangerously. Avogara demanded satisfaction of the Duke of Nemours, who was then at Milan, but obtained none; and his indignation prompted him to seek revenge on all the French. He repaired to Venice; the Doge received him with open arms; Avogara explained his plans, and the Doge promised, that on a given day, Andrea Gritti should be before the city with seven or eight thousand men. He in the mean time returned home, tampered successfully with his townsfolks, and on the appointed day, a general rising took place.

The French governor, surprised, could neither rally his men nor oppose two armies; he retreated to the citadel; every one that could not escape was massacred; not a prisoner was made. The Countess de Gambare ran for her life, and the first thing Avogara did, was to burn, pillage and destroy all the houses and lands belonging to Gambara.

The next thing was to obtain the citadel; but this was no easy task. Gaston de Foix held it, and he made himself as sure of being finally victorious as did the Venetians. Willing to spare the fair city, Gaston

summoned Gritti to surrender, but was answered with a haughty defiance to do his worst. Bayard led on the forlorn hope; and we are told by Bayard's chronicler, that the descent from the hill on which the citadel stood, being slippery by reason of the late abundant rains, Gaston and most of his officers pulled off their shoes ere they began to descend. It was here that Bayard was wounded by a pike, which broke, so that a part of the weapon remained in the wound, and he continued to urge on his men to the siege in spite of it. The French entered, and it is said that seven thousand of their enemies fell in the vanquished city. Neither did the assailants wholly escape, for the women,-oh! what has woman to do in such a scene !-poured stones and boiling water from the windows upon them. Twenty thousand beings perished, while the pillage continued; and the very heart would turn sick with horror, and we should close the pages of the chronicler in dismay, if even here, we did not suddenly light upon one of those beautiful little incidents, which sometimes break in upon the histories of battles and sieges, and show that human feeling, and mortal tenderness do dwell even in the tented field and in the leaguered city, where men meet together for mutual destruction.

Bayard was carried to the door of a house, the mistress of which, with the daughters, had hidden herself in some straw in a granary, "under the protection of the Almighty." The mother came to the knocking at the door, and Bayard, observing, in spite of the agony of his wound, her intense fear, placed sentinels at the gate, and gave his name as a watchword of defence.

He next sent for the master of the house, who had taken refuge in a neighbouring convent, and assured the whole family of his protection. His wound confined him for some weeks, during which time the noble dame nursed him tenderly, and her fair young daughters did sing to him, and play on the lute and spinnet, and sit by his couch, embroidering their delicate lady's-work.

At his departure the matron, who had all along considered herself but as a captive, brought him two thousand five hundred ducats in a casket, and on her knees besought him to accept it as ransom money. Bayard raised her instantly, besought permission to say farewell to her young daughters, and when they entered and thanked him for having been the guardian of their honour, the knight, almost weeping at their gratitude and gentle bearing, said, "Fair maidens, we knights are ill provided with goodly toys for ladies' eyes; and I grieve that I cannot offer you some love token as is your due; but your lady mother has here given me a sum of money, which I return to you for your dowries, praying only that ye will be pleased to pray to God for my well-doing."* At his departure the fair girls presented him, the one with two bracelets woven with brown hair, and with gold and silver threads,—the other with a crimson purse, subtilly embroidered; and the brave knight gallantly fastened the purse on his sleeve, and the bracelets on his arm, and vowed to wear them for the honour of the fair donors, while his life endured.

While talking over this history of our favourite

* Histoire de Chevalier Bayard.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »