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suaded by a noble Italian, named Melo, to join him in rescuing the plains of Apulia from the domination of the Greeks. Something like this was in fact the origin of the settlement of the Normans in Italy. Their successes in a few years made these adventurous pilgrims counts of provinces, and masters of those regions which now form the kingdom of Naples. In this and several other tales, the narrative is varied by the introduction of songs and ballads, the versification of which, however, is by no means of a superior order.
This story is followed by one that is still better told, entitled, • The Brides of Venice.' It was an ancient custom in that celebrated republic, to bestow portions every year, upon twelve poor virgins, all of whom were married on Candlemas day, to young men to whom they had been previously betrothed. On one of these occasions, when Vetter Urseolo was the doge, just as the nuptial ceremonies were about to be commenced with great pomp, in presence of all the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the city, a troop of Istriot pirates suddenly landed, and after obtaining much booty in gold and silver, demanded that the twelve brides should be given up to them. The demand being of course resisted, the pirates, following the example of the Roman rape upon the Sabines, took away the destined brides by force, and hurried away with them in their gallies. As soon as the Venetians recovered from the first effects of their surprise, they pursued with their fleet, and succeeded in regaining the women. The event had the effect of turning the attention of the citizens of the republic, to the necessity of extirpating the pirates who infested the Adriatic : a duty which they executed with unremitting care, until their empire passed away to other hands.
The sanguinary contest so long maintained by the league of the free cities of Lombardy, against the Emperor, Frederic Barbarossa, was terminated in the year 1176, in the favour of the former, by the battle of Legnano. This great event furnishes Mr. Macfarlane with the subject of an excellent sketch, The Carroccio.' This was a car upon four wheels, painted red, and drawn by four oxen arrayed in scarlet. In the centre of the car a mast was raised, crowned by a golden orb, upon which was hoisted the banner of Milan. Behind and before the mast platforms were erected, upon which the most valiant soldiers of the state were stationed, for the defence of the national ensign, which was made still more sacred, by being accompanied with a figure of the Saviour extended on the cross. Whenever the Milanese took the field, the carroccio was conducted in the midst of the army, and the sight of it was supposed to inspire with indomitable courage the breasts of the combatants.
In point of romantic character, we look upon The Nun and the Crusader' as decidedly the best tale in the whole collection. We cannot introduce it to the reader in a more striking way than the author has done.
• “ Hark! - Vespers have commenced in the monastery of St. Christipa! We are near; let us thither and hear the sweet singing of the nuns!” said a young nobleman of Bologna to bis companion.
• " I would we went rather to the Church of St. Clare!" said the other, carelessly; “ it is cooler there, and this is a sultry evening."
• " But the music is not so good, and it is much farther to go,” said the first speaker ; " the service may be over before we arrive at St. Clare's; so prithee follow my guidance for once, and let us hear vespers where we are;” and, taking his half-reluctant comrade by the arm, the young nobleman walked up to the door of the church attached to the monastery, whose threshold was not again to be crossed by one of them with so light and indifferent a heart, and entered the place of worship, which was already crowded by the devout.
• Indifference to religion (would that the religion of the middle ages had been better and purer in itself !) was not among the vices of those times; and though the young Bolognese had entered the church with careless minds, or occupied with the worldly affairs and the pleasures of the day, they were very soon warned to devotion by the beautiful music they heard. There were no instruments, but a chorus of female voices left nothing to desire in harmony, sweetness, and touching simplicity. As the melodious anthem to the virgin floated through the church, its Gothic architecture(a style introduced into Italy about this period)-its lengthening aisles, clustering pillars, and arched roof, at times prolonged the cadences of the sacred song, and, at others, seemed to condense its notes into one powerful, animating burst of music. But of a sudden the choir ceased, and the voice of one young nun, continued the service. Never was any thing more exquisite than this voice and this sola. There was a delicacy and tenuity in them—a deep, penetrating sweetness, that flooded the inmost soul of all within the church with sentiments that, though allied to devotion, were languid and luxurious. Every eye was raised to the gallery above head, where the nun sang like a little bird in the clouds; but no eye with more searching curiosity and emotion than that of Ottaviano, one of the young Bolognese noblemen, and he of the two, as if by some secret presentiment of what was to befal him, who had gone into St. Christina's rather reluctantly.
6 " Are those tones mortal?_was there ever music like to this !” were the words he whispered to his companion, as he sought along the gallery the spot whence the sola proceeded. But he did not speak again when he had found out the person of the young nun, who was seated apart from the rest, at an open window, and when he saw a face as angelic, at least, as the music that so enraptured him; and his eye became as motionless as his tongue, for he gazed up at that window as if attracted by something more powerful than mortal spell or fascination. An oval face of the most perfect form,—a complexion purely pale, as if, (which was almost the fact, for the young Lucia had been brought up from her infancy within the walls of the monastery) nor wind, nor sun, had ever played upon it; eyes of oriental size and blackness, looking the blacker from her pallid hue, and
upraised to Heaven, as she sang with all her soul; a mouth that would suit a cherub, and sweet as the sounds that warbled from it; a long, lithe, transparent neck and throat, along which her tones were seen to flow like a
stream-a continuous stream of melody; an air of extreme youthfulness and loveliness, and holy simplicity, were the principal of the charms that captivated, at first sight, the susceptible heart of Ottaviano. When the singing of the young nun had ceased, she drew her long, black robe and veil about her, and retired from the open window to another part of the gallery. The eyes of Ottaviano were still fixed on her, and he could not be said to see any other object until vespers were finished, and Lucia, with the rest of the nuns, withdrew from the church to the monastery. The two friends then walked from St. Christina's into the streets of Bologna; Ottaviano enduring, in witless silence, the taunts of his less susceptible companion, and dwelling, with passionate and dangerous fixity, on the lovely face, the melting eyes, the soul-ravishing music of the voice of the young recluse. Insipient love is most unsociable-old and dear friendships give way in such moments to the all-monopolizing influences of a passion, whose very pature it is, like the snake of Aaron, to swallow up all the rest. Ottaviano wished to be alone, to gloat uninterruptedly over the one image that filled his imagination, and he left his friend without acknowledging by a syllable, the impression made op him by the hearing of vespers at St. Christina's--which he certainly would not have heard had it not been for that friend.
• The night that followed these vespers was a sleepless one for the passionate, enthusiastic Bolognese. Turn him as he would, the delicate face and form of the nun were before him, with grace and loveliness that might drive to madness; and when he shut his eyes and tried to rest, those languishing eastern eyes of her's peered full in his, dispelling sleep, and penetrating into the deepest recesses of his heart. Ottaviano had been in love before ; for, in the genial climate of Italy, men do not generally attain his age, of twenty, as strangers to the gentle passion; but the restlessness and impetuosity of former amorous attacks,
compared to what he now felt.
Long before "jocund day" stood on the fair hills of Bologna, or the carol of the lark had succeeded the lay of the nightingale, Ottaviano was standing under the gloomy walls of the monastery of St. Christina : and soon as the church-door opened for matins, there was he in the aisle, standing opposite the little gallery, and waiting, with beating heart, to see if the lovely nun would be again visible or not. And she came, and she placed herself at the same open place as on the eve of yesterday, when she first captured his soul with heavenly music; and she blessed his eyes with a vision of beauty, more exquisite still than that which had never quitted his imagination since the moment of his first seeing her. The young nun, who had just risen from her fragrant, peaceful couch, was indeed surpassingly lovely. Her face and brow, from which the coal-black veil was parted, looked paler and purer in the cool light of morning dawn, than they had done in the golden atmosphere of evening ; her eyes were blacker and more liquid still, and seemed swimming with the essences of youth, of beauty, of love, or of devotion, which, at certain periods, and in certain persons, does so much resemble love. As her charms beamed on the fixed eyes of Ottaviano, he could have fallen on his knees, even there in the house of God, and worshipped her as something superior to earth's daughters; and so passionate and sexually imaginative was this young man, that his breath
ing came thick, bis sight was troubled, his head was giddy, as he looked up to the gallery and caught, at last, a glance meeting his. So great was his emotion, that be clung for support to one of the pillars of the aisle.
• When he again raised his eyes to the window, the young nun was gone; but the next instant her voice, which was to be henceforward the music of his soul, and never, never to be forgotten, struck sweetly on his ear, as she sang a prelude to the matins. Heart, soul, every feeling of his nature, was then transferred to Ottaviano's ears, until the notes of that silvery voice were confounded and lost in the general choir of the holy sisterhood. As the matins finished, the fair Lucia again appeared at the front of the gallery; she stayed there all the time of the mass, though to him it seemed only for a moment; and her disappearance with the nuns, who returned to their cells, was, to the lover in the church, as though the sun had left the hemisphere. Coldness, and darkness, and night, fell upon his heart, and he went away immeasurably deep in love, with only one wish in his mind, -for the arrival of the moment when his eyes might be again feasted by the young nun.'— The Romance of HistoryItaly, vol. ii. pp. 115—121.
Ottaviano was not so ignorant of the sacredness of the vows by which the nun was bound,
as not to know from the very beginning, that the passion which he was now nurturing, was doomed to certain disappointment. Actuated by the religious sensibility of the times, he also well knew, that in entertaining such a passion he was violating the divine law. Nevertheless, he still continued to pay adoration at this new shrine, which had so much captivated him; and, if we may believe the story, the beautiful nun was not long inattentive to the supplications which his eyes and manners so eloquently expressed. One of her sisters, who observed the dangers to which she was exposed, warned her in the most affectionate language of the precipice upon which she stood, and pointed out, in forcible terms, the enormous measure of guilt which she would incur by permitting such an intercourse, though but a distant one, to proceed.
• When she took the simple, pure-hearted Lucia apart in the garden of the monastery, and entered with delicacy, but with all a woman's tactthe tact of a woman who has lived in the world, and experienced in herself, and watched in others, the progress of human feelings and affections ; —when she withdrew the veil of beauty and glory that concealed from the young nun her true position—when she made her understand the import of the words pronounced by the holy bishop who had given her the veil : “Let this separate your eyes for ever from the eyes of men !”—when, in brief, she had shown Lucia what love was, and what was the extent of her love, and how perilously she sinned against heaven in so loving-the astounded girl fell into her arms, and, with her dove-like bosom beating wildly, and her eyes streaming with tears, supplicated—prayed with trembling accents that sister Orsola, the kind and the good, would protect her from sin—from the irresistible eyes of the youth in the aisle, and from herself.
• The morning that followed this explanation, and at early mass, the ardent Ottaviano was in the church ; and at his wonted post; but the open window in the gallery, through which he had taken such draughts of love, was most jealously closed. He looked on the dark shutter, expecting it to open; but, during the whole, long service,- for it was a “missa cantata," in honour of a festival of the Madonna,-it opened not; and though he heard the angel tones of her voice, he went heavily away from the church, without having seen Lucia. For many days he had seen her twice each day; to see her--to fix his eyes upon her young charms, and sigh beneath her gallery window, had become the sole objects of his life; he had no other motive or desire; and all the places in the world, except the monastery and the church of St. Christina, were indifferent to him. The intervals of other pursuits ; the pauses allowed by ambition, or the search after wealth, may be filled up by other occupations and pleasures, and extraneous objects; but the time between the “ seeing her, and the moment of seeing her again," is, to a young and passionate lover, during the first impulses of his passion, like Ottaviano, an utter void--a desolate and heart-desolating void ! The Bolognese had no where to go-nothing to do—nothing to care about, but when his eyes should be again blessed by the sight of the young nun; and no objects of reflection, save her charms, and the unwelcome chances which had that morning deprived him of the sight of them. But when the Ave-Maria—the hour of prayer and of love arrived ;-when he stood again at his post, and saw the gallery window still closed, and no Lucia appearing, a conviction, chiller to his soul than the ice of Caucasus,-a certainty that there was something more than chance in this, possessed and racked him. He gazed on the closed window as though he would have forced it open with his glances; but it remained closed, and Lucia appeared not. Though deprived of the pleasures of sight, he could still however delight the sense of hearing,--for the voice of his young nun was distinct in the choir from all the rest; and he remained as formerly, but with his arms crossed more sadly on his breast, until the evening service was finished and the church cleared ; and then he only removed to the distance of a contiguous hill, where, from a little wood of rustling pines, he could fix his moody eyes on the walls of the monastery and the church. The next morning saw Ottaviano, with a face almost as pale as the white stone crucifixes that formed an avenue to the church, standing beside the church door, impatiently waiting until it should open. As the good people in the neighbourhood of St. Christina's repaired to their matins in the grey, cool dawn, and saw the young nobleman there so early, and with a countenance so subdued, they could not help applauding the warmth and sincerity of his devotion.
The massy door of the temple at length revolved on its hinges, the people flocked in, and Ottaviano was once more stationed in the aisle, but so weak from want of nourishment and sleep, that he was obliged to lean all the while against the Gothic pillar. The gallery window was still closed-he only heard Lucia's voice :- he would have given treasures to see her face-her lovely, pale, touching face; but he was never to see it again; and day after day that he repaired to the church of St. Christina at matins and at vespers, though he dragged a consuming fever with him, he could only hear her sing. Still this was something to an impassioned and imaginative lover like himself; to catch the tones of that unseen chantress, which could so well recal the looks that had won him ;-10 hear