Page images

its traces upon the heart. He had been among the number of those Cardinals who had openly opposed the divorce of Napoleon from the unhappy and interesting Josephine; and who in consequence had stigmatized as illicit intercourse, the connection which that ambitious man, in the zenith of his glory, had formed with Maria Louisa. His conduct, however, on behalf of these Cardinals, cost him dearly. Arezzo lost all his ecclesiastical honors and emoluments, and was confined in a castle in Corsica, whence, but a few years before the time of this narrative, he was enabled to escape, owing to the continued and dexterous expedients of a faithful servant. Whoever has but tasted of the cup of misfortune, quickly sympathizes with the sufferings of others, and soon feels it an imperative duty to aid them in their wretchedness. Thus it was with the Cardinal, who having known from experience how human nature revolts at tyranny, felt disposed to act leniently toward his prisoner.

It was in this mood that the Cardinal was found by Ondedei, who came breathless, and foaming with rage to communicate to him the result of the third ineffectual attempt against the firmness of Caleffi.

'And what else would you have us do, Colonel, in order to overcome this youth, and to obtain from him the names of our secret enemies?'

'What! why I would, without any pity, have recourse to chains, to imprisonment, to stripes, to starvation. I would confine him with some wretch, who, in the hope of obtaining his own pardon, would shrewdly worm the secret from him.'

[ocr errors]

But have we not, for the space of seven days already, and without success, used the greater part of these means?

'Ah, your Highness, the obstinacy which will not yield in the course of one week, may perchance be overcome in two or three-in a month—in a year; and beside, mild measures having failed, we must resort to harsh ones.'

'But you told me that in your opinion Caleffi would yield only to kindness.'

[ocr errors]

True; I am ashamed to avow it: I was mistaken; but who is there that is not liable to be deceived, your Highness?'

'I have learned that full well from your own operations, Colonel Ondedei; but the measures you propose are too repugnant to humanity, to law, and to the dictates of religion. No! I cannot consent to torment a man upon suspicion only, and for the sole object of discovering a crime; and all this without the direction of a legally constituted tribunal!'

· Ah, Cardinal, if the Carbonari could only have the upper hand, what would they not do to us! Heaven preserve us from such an event! You would see them infinitely more cruel and inexorable than I propose to be with Caleffi.'

'Do not let us run into suppositions, Colonel Ondedei; let us keep to the facts. We do not know that Caleffi is guilty; we only suspect him of being so. The most regular way of proceeding would be to subject him to a legal examination.'

But, your Highness, what foundation have we upon which to commence legal proceedings? We have only the secret denunciation against him' by a Carbonaro, whose names we have pledged our

words should not be disclosed. The tribunal, therefore, would not know at what point to begin its interrogatories, and the result would be, an acquittal of the prisoner. In such an event, you would incur the odium of having imprisoned an innocent man.'

'If such be the case, I should be infinitely more obnoxious thereto, were I to persecute him farther, as you propose, without the sanction of judicial forms.'

But it would be simply an attempt.'
True; but a brutal one.

Mankind are our brethren in the Lord. Our religion enjoins charity. Oh! Ondedei, how beautiful and comforting is that precept of Christ, in which we are commanded to do unto others as we would be done by !'

'Your excellency is too good; too pious.'

'No one can be either too good or too pious,' said the Cardinal. 'Listen! I have in these critical and complicated cases a discretionary power, to proceed in such a manner as shall appear the most conducive to the ends of justice, and of true policy. I have listened to, and carried out with extreme severity, the dictates of expediency for the last week; and much pain has it cost me. I would now subserve with benignity the ends of justice. Before day-break, let Caleffi be set free. I say before day-break, in order to avoid the effects of popular inquiry; of harsh comments, and of reports. You know very well that in these unpropitious days, the great body of the people are inimical to our government.'

'But too much so. Your excellency has ordered, and I have but to obey. Allow me, however, in the sincerity of my zeal, to make only one observation. God grant that your Highness may not hereafter see cause to regret this precipitate act of mercy.'

'No! no! I shall never have occasion to regret having performed an act of justice, which you, however, improperly term an act of mercy. Go, Sir, and obey my orders;' and thus saying, he haughtily pointed to the door.

Curse the hypocritical priest! To give this wretch Caleffi the means of defeating me so shamefully! Why are these priests meddling with government, instead of attending to their prayers and their masses! A fine figure I make, truly! After all my vigilance, labor, movements, writings, to remain here like a simpleton, worsted by this ignorant dog of a plebeian! What will Ferrara say of me to-morrow? I shall be the scorn and derision of all, and my unpopularity will be greater than ever. Cursed be the occupation of an officer of the police! Ah! if things take this course, the papal government will not stand long. Directed by my lord this and my lord that, who know not an iota of law or administration, of the principles of policy, or the intricacies of the human heart. Alas! all my hopes are come to nought! Ah, Caleffi, Caleffi ! if you had to deal with me alone, you would soon find out that I knew how to place the curb in your mouth, unbroken colt as you are! But the order must be obeyed; the order, too, of a priest !'

Thus did Ondedei give vent to his bitter and disappointed feelings; and descending slowly the flight of steps, he arrived at the dungeon of Caleffi when, with much affected warmth, he said:

'I congratulate you, my dear Caleffi. I have succeeded. Be

grateful! The Cardinal has yielded to my entreaties, and you are free! Go home at once, while it is dark. It is better that you should speak to no one in relation to what has passed in secret within the last few days. Farewell!'

Caleffi quietly and calmly took his cloak; 'Farewell, Sir,' said he to Ondedei, and then instantly went home, to pour forth in the bosom of his own family the hitherto pent-up feelings of his wrongs, and then to exult in his triumph. A triumph worthy of history, and one which was fully appreciated by his fellow citizens of Ferrara.

Whoever is capable of feeling, can easily picture to himself the scene which ensued upon the reunion of Caleffi with his wife and children. Their embraces, their tears, their broken utterance, told plainly of their inward joy and powerful emotions. 'Oh, my children! you whom I hold dearer than my own being, weep not! Your father has not been injured. His love for his country and for his honor have made him rise superior to suffering. And thou, my beloved wife! fit companion in prosperity as in misfortune! - you have emulated me in the proofs you have given of your courage and firmness. Blessed be the Creator, who has imparted these virtues to you! We are poor, and we shall still be so, but we shall at least eat the bread of honest industry, and not live upon the fruits of baseness and perfidy. And you, my fellow citizens ! You who are bound together by the bonds of a high and worthy political object-you, nobleminded Carbonari! do not praise me; you have no cause to thank me, for I have but done my duty.'


Yes, Caleffi nobly did you your duty; and we will praise and remember you, until the last hour of our existence. Your performance of your trust saved many of us from persecution, from exile, from chains, from death! Had it not been for your almost superhuman firmness, and generous disinterestedness, how many families would have suffered! How many hopes would have been blasted! How great would have been the exultation of our enemies! Caleffi! Long live your name! Long live the recollection of your heroism! Let the proud and wealthy aristocrat, who scarcely deigns to look upon a plebeian, learn from your example that moral greatness is independent of birth, and of the smiles of fortune! that in the midst of poverty are to be found those rare virtues, the possession of which enables the lowest to exclaim, with pride, in the presence of royalty itself, I, a plebeian, I too am a citizen; for within my bosom glows a spirit which has been fired from on High!'

It is in this country of civil and religious freedom, that I, an exiled sufferer in the holy cause of our common country, record your name and the circumstances of the memorable trial you underwent, and from which you derived as it were a new existence. If in Italy despotism confines within the bosom of your friends and of other nobleminded Italians those feelings of praise and of homage, of which it does not allow the utterance, here at least you will receive high eulogiums from a people who have known both how to obtain and how to preserve that liberty and independence which we sigh for, and now sigh in vain; but which a glorious hereafter will secure to us, when our young Italians shall be able to say, 'We also have the spirit of Caleffi within us!'

[blocks in formation]


'TRUE eloquence,' says BLAIR, 'is the art of placing truth in the most advantageous light for conviction and persuasion.' 'Clearness, force, and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction.'-WEBSTER.

TO SPEAK well, and to write well, have ever been considered intellectual accomplishments of the first order. Among the ancients, the study of rhetoric and of elocution received an extraordinary share of attention, and was cultivated with corresponding success. This is evident, alike from the high character of their treatises on these subjects, and from the still existing monuments of their perfection in eloquence.

Of the rhetorical productions that have come down to us from antiquity, the Institutiones Oritoriæ' of Quintilian is decidedly the best. It embraces a comprehensive treatise on the theory of the art, and an extensive and judicious course of study for the orator. The author gives the results of his own experience, and evinces deep reflection, sound sense, and a refined taste. His style is evidently formed upon that of Cicero, and he writes with an elegance not unworthy of his master. These qualities, added to the judicious and practical character of his precepts, render his Institutes a work of inestimable value to the student of eloquence.

Cicero, in his excellent colloquial treatise, De Oratore,' has discussed his subject at considerable length, and with great ability. After some general observations on the utility and importance of the art, and the great difficulty of its attainment, he proceeds to show, that in addition to natural endowments, a vast amount of knowledge, a comprehensive variety of learning and information, and especially an acquaintance with philosophy, history, and the Grecian masters of eloquence, are qualifications indispensable to the accomplished speaker. No orator of ancient or modern times has manifested a more thorough conviction, or just conception of the sublimity of this art, and the high qualities essential to it, than did Cicero; and his brilliant public career, whether in the senate, in the assemblies of the people, or in the courts of justice, was an instructive commentary upon his admirable precepts.

If some of the stripling orators of the present age, who imagine that to acquire tolerable fluency of speech, and to master the superficial knowledge so much in vogue, which skims over the surface of every thing, and penetrates deeply into nothing, are alone sufficient to create the spirit of eloquence, would take the trouble to read and digest this treatise of Cicero, they would probably form an humbler opinion of their own acquirements, and a more correct apprehension of the true nature of oratory.

Mr. WEBSTER, in one of the finest passages of his voluminous and splendid elocution, has delineated the character of eloquence in language of truth, force, and beauty, that could only proceed from one whose mind is deeply imbued with the spirit of the art. The passage is too long, and too familiar to American readers, to be quoted here;

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »