Paradise of Martyrs (5)
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[Book IV.]



THE winter's sun beams bright, as if 'twere spring,
Gladdening the waters of the lonely sea:
Lonely as death: not even a bird on wing:
No glimpse of man, or boat: a jubilee
Of silence and of death, it seems.   With glee
The unburied giants of old Cumbria wear
On their huge shoulders their death drapery ―
The pall of snow.   Wide Morecambe sands are bare,

But sparkle, as if strewed with dust of diamonds rare.


All things are bright, though silent.   Overhead
There is no cloud: 'tis one deep vault of blue
That mocks the eye to gauge it.   If, instead,
I look upon the waters, without clew
Or rod, for measurement, I am: I view
The boundless still; and still within me rise
The old, old baffled thoughts I yet pursue,
But can achieve no end.   Oh, for new eyes

Of Mind, to pierce the deep, the eternal mysteries!


I had a friend, in youth, I loved full well.
He was no mannikin ― no dapper thing
That smirks, and reckons Life a bagatelle;
But girt the bow of his mind with steely string,
And shot far after Truth ― within the ring
Oft planting his arrow where her jewels glow,
All-priceless.   Humble in birth, he was a king
In thought.   I see his broad Baconian brow

Brighten, as mind-fire flashes in the eyes below;


I hear his manly tones announce the clear
Decision he had raught, when we the fray
Dialectic, stern, unbending, and austere, ―
Had waged for hours.   And now I hear him
        say ―
They were his dying words ― for soon the clay
That glorious spirit left: "Oh, how I long
To be all intelligence!"   Thus did he pray
In death: prayed from the passions' blinding throng

To escape for ever, that on Truth, with vision strong,


For ever he might gaze: with spiritual eye ―
The eye unlensed, unorganed, unbeshrined
In flesh, undimmed by vulgar slovenry
Of earthly use.   He prayed that as pure Mind
He might exist: not only unconfined
By shroud o' the flesh, but unannoyed, unstained
By the foul cleavings of all humankind
To the earth, which do convince the soul, sore-pained,

That, while on earth, unto the grovelling clay 'tis chained.


Hath he his dying wish obtained in death ―
That is, in the real life beyond the grave?
For, since 'tis not the kernel perisheth,
But only the shell, one cannot choose but crave
To know what kind of life our spirits have
Unclothed upon with flesh.   Doth he still see ―
Hear feel?   Or, did the senses but enslave
And dull the soul's perceptions ― while, now free

From sense, she is Perception's self ― the destiny


My dying friend aspired to ― and now he
Is "all intelligence"?   Yet, often he said,
In our tense arguings, that it could not be
For any mere creature to have being unwed
To vehicle, or clothing: only the Dread,
All-infinite One could be pure Mind.   And then,
If I asked ― "How such thought-realms can we
He quoted Cudworth whose intellectual ken

He deemed the strongest of all late Platonic men.


And thus men quote, and reason still ― or guess;
But get no farther!
                                              Yon big cumulus cloud
Hath suddenly risen from some lake's recess,
To hide the lordliest mountain in its shroud;
And Coniston Old Man, that looked so proud
Above his fellows, is invisible ―
While more clouds pile upon the obscurer crowd
Of peaks, and make them seem to bulge and swell

Till they in stature Alps or Andes would excel.


Let me leave clouds and mountains, for the sea!
Our reasoning is but rasher guessing, full
Of fancied peaks from which immensity,
We think, at last, we fathom.   We are dull
Scholars in learning how to pick and cull
True treasure from the trash of our own thought.
All reasoning on the eternal future null
And void must be.   What God hath left untaught

About it must be best unknown, or left in doubt.


Let me breathe freely thy fresh air, glad main!
And, thankful, gaze upon thy boundlessness ―
What, though I try to measure thee, in vain?
He measureth thy waters ― measureless
To man ― in the hollow of His hand!   Transgress
Thy bounds thou canst not; neither can I mine.
It will be wisest for me to repress
Guesses about the Future, and resign

My soul with confidence into the Hand Divine!


I thank Thee, Lord, the days of arrogance
Are past, when I presumed Thy government
Divine to arraign: with rash precipitance,
Forbidding Thee to punish sin unblent
With blame of Thine own creatures, on earth sent
To do Thy will, but given to have a will
Themselves.   I thank Thee that the veil is rent
Of pride; and, since Thou only know'st how ill

It is in man to sin ― his span of life to fill


With base ingratitude for all Thy care
Perpetual, all Thy love unwearied, ― new
Ever, each night and noon and morn, ― I dare
Not judge what sin deserves.   Thou only true
And righteous judgment canst pronounce, whose
Is blinded by no error, and whose right
It is to judge.   That punishment is due
To baseness here, men doubt not: to requite

The lawless, would on law and justice be a blight.


Man's teachers now are saying, on every hand,
What I once rashly said and sung ― that pain
And punishment cannot be ever: bland
And bountiful and tender, doth Thy reign
In Nature Thee proclaim; and every grain
Of Gospel truth is sweetened with Thy love:
Thou canst not punish ever, and the stain
Of evil from Thy holy throne above

For ever see ― men say: it would Thy being disprove!


Vast Sea! how little of thy compass can
I judge from this scant spot on which I look
Upon thy waves!   And can it be that Man,
The slave of sin ― from his dim finite nook ―
Doth claim to read, off-hand, the eternal Book ―
The Book of the infinite government of God?
Surely, Unerring One, Thou dost not brook
That men, unblamed, should thus assume the nod

Divine ― should thus forget their kindred with the


Farewell, grand Sea!   I may not soon upon
Thy waters look again, and try to read
Thy healthful lessons.   Hence, I must begone,
Away from silence, to the crowds who lead
Their lives in noise and haste, and greatly need
Patient and thoughtful guidance from the way
Of Error to the paths of Truth.   Lord, speed
Me in my aim to spread Thy Truth, I pray ―

For soon I shall have lived, to the end, my little day! ―


I left the realm of silence by the Rail.
There was no Rail whereon the steam-steed sped
With snort, and puff, and haste to turn men pale
With fear, and fill their hearts with instant dread
Of death, when I was young.   But, steady tread
Of waggon-horses, stout and strong; ― the dash
Down hill and up, o' the mail, without a shred
Of fear, to coachee's chirrup ― not the lash

O' the whip; the cheery horn; no dread of deathful


"Oh, for the dear old coach again! "I cry ―
But soon remind myself o' the pelting rain,
And that umbrella which the old man would try
To hold up still for shelter, with insane
Resolve, although it drenched our necks; the pain
Of sitting, crampt, for lack of room; the wind
That kept us in one posture, like a chain ―
It was so keen!   And then I am inclined

To own 'twas well men did the steam-steed find, and


I left the realm of silence, and arrived,
Once more, i' the realm of noise, and haste, and toil:
The realm of cotton mills, in which seemed hived
Man, woman, child: all join the gainful moil,
'Midst heat, and rattle of machines, and broil
Of steam.   And still they build new mills, and vaunt
That nought their enterprise shall henceforth foil
Until their manufactures spread aslant

The world ― where'er is found the human habitant!


But thirty years ago, Lancastrian land
Was filled with discontent; and ghastly fear
Prevailed the Poor would seize the pike and brand,
Through hunger-bitten madness, and ungear
The chariot of the State, and Order sheer
Overboard cast into the abysmal flood
Of universal ruin.   Many a seer
Proclaimed that revolution, battle, and blood

Must come, if men and women and children had not


How the sage holder of the reins displayed his skill,
And starving crowds gat food, there is no need
That I should tell.   When hungry men could fill
Their stomachs, they soon ceased to list the rede
Of agitators.   "Let us work, and feed
And clothe ourselves and children," soon became
The all-prevalent resolve.   They worked with speed;
And when broke out, across the sea, the flame

Of war, and they could get no cotton, they did not


The "Cotton Lords," of whom, in bygone time,
They spoke so angrily.   Their common sense
Kept them from insurrectionary crime;
And, famine-stricken though they were, suspense
Of work and wage with patience most intense
Was borne.   And, now the wheels go round
Again most merrily, thoughts of turbulence
Return not ― for men's eyes upon the ground

Are fixed: to thoughts of food and clothes their minds
        are bound,


Except where curse of gambling hath possest
The souls of men and women ― for, to share
This madness of their husbands, with wild zest,
Women are found!   No more, i' the open air,
I see, at eve, pale, eager groups, with rare,
Though homely eloquence, holding debate ―
Their heads unhatted, and their lank limbs bare
Of clothing, save with rags ― far on, till late

Dusk hour: and still they lingered to deliberate


How freedom should be won, and man be ruled
As man, by his own free choice, not as a slave! ―
And hath the fervent thirst for freedom cooled?
"You see the ragged crowds no more!" ― with brave
Display of triumph, they proclaim, and wave
Their new-bought hats!   Most gladly I discern
The rags are gone; but sorrowfully crave
Whither had fled the intelligence, and stern

Passion for freedom with which once they seemed to
        yearn ―


The starving "Mill-hands!"   Was thy word, then,
        true ―
Sage Age-fellow Illustrious, that ― spite all
The cry and rage and threat against the Few
That rose from the Many ― 'twas not to disenthrall
Themselves from serfdom, but to make their call
And shriek of hunger heard till they were fed?
'Twas all that Chartism meant; and now the tall,
Grim scaring spectre flees ― for men have bread

To the full; and all their say for Freedom they have


Then, from my inmost soul, I sorely grieve
That I and others bore for such as ye ―
The grovelling sons of sires who could upheave
The world with fear ― whose rags, so vile to see,
Were robes of honour, for they were the fee
Of independence! ― sorely grieves my soul
We bore the chain for such as bow the knee
To Pelf and Privilege, so that the dole

To work for wages they may have.   Is this the goal


Of Freedom?   Have ye reached it, then, so soon?
And now, with hands in pockets, ye can prate
Of shares in stores and building clubs; and ― boon
'Bove all! can ― bet on horses ― like the great!
Or, on the flight of pigeons; or, elate
With idiot pride, lead greyhounds in a string,
And bet upon the swiftness of their gait!―
For, now, all's well!   With scorn, aside ye fling

Fantastic Freedom, and vote the way sure bread to


Into your cupboards!   Ye are men of sense:
Your ragged sires were fools, and dreamers wild.
Freedom to feed ye prize: with abstinence
And Liberty ye cannot be beguiled;
For ye have tasted bread, and said, and smiled,
"Tis sweet, and we will keep it.   Take our vote
And welcome!   Rule with hands clean or defiled,
So long as we can feed to the full.   A groat

We care not how ye rule: on that we spend no thought!"


And did we brave the dungeon, but to know
That toiling men have sold their birthright, like
Esau of old, for a mess of pottage?   Low,
Indeed, your starving sires, who talked o' the pike,
Would say their well-fed sons had sunk!   Heart-sick
To see such degradation, they would be,
And cry ― "Ye strike for wage ― but why not strike
For Freedom?   Ye who have the vote, like free

Men use it: your own hands now hold your destiny!"


My hour of teaching came; but there came few
To listen of the hands-in-pockets crowd:
They flocked to gaze upon some gew-gaws "new
From Lunnon!"   I to my lodging with a cloud
Of moody thinkings paced ―
                                                  Hush! hush! the shroud
They are preparing for the breathless clay
That held the noblest soul on earth!   No proud
Large-acred duke, or gartered marquess they

Adorn with heraldry, and clothe with Death's array.


"The great Triumvir," saith the printed sheet
Of evening news, "hath died at Pisa."   Fame
Shall now reverse her trumpet, and, with meet
Proclaim, speak of an actor in the drame
O' the Nineteenth Century, whose high-souled aim
None equalled.   And Italia's passionate heart
Shall sob with penitence, and throne the name
Of her Mazzini far above the smart

And courtly names of men that played their part


Of seeming patriotism, for kings to win
Continuance of their sceptres.   Ay, 'tis night
With the poor lifeless clay: shrunken and thin
It lies, no doubt!   Quenched are those lamps of light ―
Those "windows of the soul" ― so dazzling bright
When it looked through them, while he thought and
Of home! ― so full of splendour and of might,
When from his eloquent lips the syllables broke

Of fair Italia fully freed from foreign yoke,


And then united: Tuscan, Piedmontese,
Roman, Venetian, and Sicilian land,
All one freed home for patriot hearts at ease!
Old feuds now mourned; and thrown away the brand
So often drawn to shed with brother's hand
A brother's blood!   The worn, thin clay is cold
And lifeless ― but, I dare be sworn, 'tis grand
In death!   No soul e'er left a nobler mould;

And still, I doubt not, it is beauteous to behold!


How glossy were his raven locks when first
I saw that classic head!   But when I saw
Him after his return from Rome ― the worst
Having befallen his rule, from the fell paw
Of France ― and while I gazed, with sorrowing awe,
Upon his face, I marked his head was gray!
I spake on't but it only served to draw
A smile from him: "We watched, by night and day,

While Garibaldi and our Romans kept the fray"―


He calmly said ― "with the French and Oudinot
I never slept on a bed, and only ate
Dry bread and raisins, while they met the foe;
And Saffi, and I, and Armellini, sate
To mete out justice ― or deliberate
What next to essay.   The Corsican's false heir
Hath blasted our fair hopes.   But better fate
Awaits us.   Never, my friend, can I despair:

Our cause shall yet, in Rome, victorious laurels wear!"


Where shall his tomb be?   In Santa Croce's fane,
Where sleep the grandest of Italian dead?
Mazzini's bones were worthy to be lain
By the bones of Angelo, the sculptor dread,
Or Galileo's ― but his final bed
Should be in Rome.   She was the darling dream
He cherished; Popeless Rome become the head
Of Italy: her beauty, again, the theme

Of all; and crowned with her loving People's diadem!


Oh, honour the dead clay, Italians, for
The sake o' the soul that wore it !   Honour well
The clay, for the soul's sake; but homage more
The lofty memory of the man!   Oft tell
Your children how he toiled, amid the swell
Of tyrant rage, and failure of his plan,
So oft renewed, the Austrian's pride to quell,
Freedom restore, and Italy in the van

To place, of nations: the Great Realm Republican!


Say how he toiled and never fainted; nor
His toil gave up till death!   So deep, so true
Was that great love to Freedom which he bore,
And to his darling Italy!   Ever grew
The affection with his years.   He never knew
An ebb and flow of that great love.   'Twas one
With his own being: a love that did imbue
And colour all his thoughts, and give them tone:

He lived and breathed in that great love, supreme,


Champion of "God and Duty" ― for they were
Thy watchwords ― who shall now the counsels guide
Of Freedom?   Only one true arbiter
She needs: the Man of Equity.   Low Pride
That pulls down higher Pride ― setting aside
One wrong to plant another ― doth but breed
New troubles, and impede the gladdening stride
Of Freedom.   Had poor France but taken heed

To thy sage chiding, she had now been free indeed.


Farewell, grand Soul!   Rienzi meets thee there,
In Christ's bright heaven ― the heaven of truthful
        souls ―
With Brescian Arnold, and the man of prayer,
The martyred Savanarola: men, i' the rolls
Of Papal Rome, set down to share the howls
Of the accurst.   Thank God, nor Pope, nor Priest,
Shall be our judge!   'Tis He alone controls
Our destiny. ― Grand spirit, take thy rest

With Him and Christ, in the sweet regions of the Blest!―


Midnight hath found me pondering, once again,
The change of earthly things.   One cannot hear
That great ones die, and pass it by, as men
Pass by the deaths of every day ― no tear
Shedding, or heed vouchsafing to the drear
Dull tale.――
                   I slept again the sleepless Mind
Still of her waking thoughts keeping a clear
And vivid hold and seemed to tread the assigned

Realm of the Lord's beloved, whom evil men maligned


And martyred.   By the winding river I seemed
Again to walk; but ere I stooped to take
One growth of that sweet floral land, I dreamed
The forms I kenned of two that, while awake,
I thought of sorrowfully.   One of them spake
With the bold martyr who to fiercest flame, ―
By cunning of the Pope he caused to quake, ―
Was doomed at last: the Pope whose English name

Was Breakspear: none more skilfully played the Papal


Girolamo Savanarola told his heart,
In Paradise, with forceful yet with meek
And gentle speech.   Arnold of Brescia's [1] part
Was sterner.   As, in life, he never sleek
Or servile features wore, or uttered weak
And wavering words, so now he seemed to look
And speak as one who lived in days antique,
And lineage claimed with men who could not brook

The thought of slavery, much less bear its hateful yoke.


Truly Italian souls they were.   Their inward fire
Of patriotism was equal.   One had learned
To mitigate his speech, so that no ire
Was e'er suspected.   In the other yearned
O'er Italy a soul that often burned ―
Some hastily said ― with flame that made them fear
It was unchastened.   But the pure discerned
No sin in all his warmth.   Thus, oft, sincere

And fervid souls are judged with judgment too austere.


"They flung thy ashes to the Tiber," said
The Florentine, [2] "and to the Arno mine;
And soon the sea commingled and outspread
Them o'er the globe.   And so each foul design
To frustrate Freedom fails!   Though to confine
And stifle her life-giving breath they strive,
Men's strife but serves to spread her breath divine
Till slaves inhale it, and restorative

Proclaim her power to every enslaved soul alive!


"Kingship ― that we ne'er loved ― still lives, 'tis true;
But our loved Italy owns no despot sway.
And, were it not for Loyola's cunning crew,
The Papacy would soon see its last day.
Oh, surely, on the march of Freedom, may
We now congratulate each other, while
We laud the Almighty Ruler.   Though His way
Be in the clouds for ages, they shall smile

With joy, who watch with patience how He works
        His will!"


"My joy is feebler, brother, than thine own,"
The elder martyr spake: "I long to see
Our countrymen unto full manhood grown,
In thought and act.   Scarcely from childhood, we
Can say they have passed, while many a devotee
Climbs on his knees the Santa Scala, [3] day
By day; and, when the baby effigy
Of Christ ― the doll Bambino [4] ― on its way

To the sick is seen, Italian women kneel and pray,


"I' the open street.   How can men call our land ―
Our Italy beloved ― except in whim ―
A land of Christ, who died that we might stand
Acquitted in the Father's sight?   The hymn
They raise to Mary, Queen of Seraphim,
And Mother of God ― not to the Crucified!
'Ora pro nobis!' ― how their voices swim,
Yet, in our spiritual ear!   When last we hied

On our Lord's errand, and again beheld the pride


"And pomp of their false worship, and the throng's
Profanity, beneath that stately dome,
How burned our minds with sense o' the Saviour's
Inflicted in our loved Italian home!
If Christian martyrs of old pagan Rome
Could rise, and see what priests call worship, in
Yon proud basilica, that still the gloom
Of heathenism prevailed ― the gloom and sin ―

They would declare: so near to heathenism akin


"Is popish worship!   Oh, that God would bring
To nought the guilty system, and restore
His Son's pure truth!" ―
                                               "To the Eternal King
Be fullest praise that on the Italian shore
Men scatter Gospel seed!   The Christian sower
Is free to come; and bring the Bible, too!
Doubt not, Italians, now they are free to explore
Its truths, will soon, intelligently, the true

Discern, and faith in their old priestly frauds eschew."


Thus Savanarola strove the overhaste
To check that Arnold felt.   But now drew near
A band of Italy's martyrs of the Past:
Arnulph, [5] the holy preacher, bold, austere,
In time of Pope Honorius, who with fear
Filled hearts of cardinals and priestly knaves:
With fear ― not penitence: they shed no tear;
But seized him, nightly, by the hands of slaves,

And silenced his bold preaching in the Tiber's waves.


With him came Martin Gonin, and Varaille,
And Nicolas Sartoire, and Pierre Masson, [6]
And hundred martyrs more, from many a vale
Of Piedmont: poor Vaudois barbes, so long
Exposed, with their devoted flocks, to wrong
From popes, and priests, and Dominic's black band.
Next came Mathurin, [7] and his wife so strong
In faith, who cried "Don't yield! give me your hand!"

And walked with him to burn, with fortitude so grand!


Of northern Italy these: the southern clime ―
The sunny Naples ― had its victims, too:
Apulians, and Calabrians, who no crime
'Gainst man committed; and to God with true,
Humble, and faithful hearts they lived.   But who
Could 'scape the Inquisition's deadly gaze? ―
They butchered eighty men with the knife: they slew
Them as his sheep, or swine a butcher slays,

Cutting their throats, in turn.   And ere they gave to the


Their female victims, sixty were tortured till
Some died o' their wounds.   Nor did Venetia proud
Escape the Inquisition's yoke.   Its various skill
In killing men and burying them was shewed
In Venice: the victim of no expense of shroud:
Needed: tied on a plank, a stone at his feet,
Between two little gondolas they rowed
Him to the outer harbour: then, with fleet

Motion, the boats withdrew.   Without a winding-sheet


Their victim found a grave in the lagoon.
Giulio Ghirlanda, [8] calling on the Lord,
Thus sank to death; Ricetto, [9] next; and soon
Spinula, [10] and Fra Baldo: [11] the record
Of all the names were long to tell.   Reward
In Paradise these found, and to embrace
Their brother martyrs came.   O'er the green sward
And flowery vale, in crowds, they trode apace,

While high and holy gladness shone in every face!


What famed Italian city had not there
A martyr for Christ's unadulterate faith
'Twere hard, indeed, to tell.   Florence the fair
Had many besides Girolamo to death
Who bravely went.   And many the martyr's wreath
In Parma, Mantua, and Bologna gained;
Or in Ferrara took the fiery path
To heaven; or, while fierce Spanish Philip reigned,

In Milan, boldly in the flames Christ's truth maintained.


Whence came the chiefest hundreds of that host?
Even from the spiritual Babylon.   'Twas Rome,
Herself, that fierceliest kept the demon boast
Of zeal in bringing heretics to doom,
By fire, or sword, or rack, or cord, or gloom
And hunger and silence of the prison cell.
Who thirsted most for blood, in Christendom?―
For blood of Christ's own saints?   The tyrants fell

Who boasted that they kept the keys of heaven right well!


Their greetings o'er, I saw the martyrs group
Together, for discourse of what they saw,
Of late, on earth; and of their faith, or hope,
That popish frauds would cease to overawe
Their countrymen, and Christ's pure truth be law,
Alone, unto their consciences.   Of brave
Aspect, Bartoccio [12] soon began to draw
A crowd around him: he who was seen to wave

His hand, and heard to shout "Vittoria!" when they


His comely body to the flames, at Rome.
"Italian brothers, who love Christ!" ― so spake
The noble martyr; "in our ancient home
We see the dawn, at length, begin to break
Of that thrice happy day, when old, opaque,
Benumbing errors of the soul shall fade
Like mists before the sun ― when men shall wake
And cast off Superstition's dreams, dismayed

No longer by the hideous forms such dreams


"What, though Italians linger somewhat, yet,
To dash in pieces the false shapes that long
Enthralled their fathers' souls; ― to break the net
Of Loyola fully from off their limbs with strong
And manly effort?   We shall hear the song
Of triumph soon, o'er Jesuit falsities.
The Book of Christ's own truth is now among
Them: it lies open to enquiring eyes:

The Evangel shall, itself, our land evangelise!


"There is no preacher like the Bible's self.
The living teacher is but human, like
His kind: he may be swayed by love of pelf,
Or pride; or may be led astray by sick
Fancies that oft mislead even politic
And sober men.   The Book will ne'er mislead.
'Twill win its own grand way.   Full soon the trick
Of frightening men from reading it shall breed

A proud resolve from frown of priestcraft to be freed.


"All hail the happy day, when earnest men
And women too, on all the Italian soil,
Each day by day, and hour by hour, with ken
Of humbleness, and prayer, and spiritual toil,
Shall 'search the scriptures,' and thus find the foil
To baffle, effectually, the guileful game
Which priests so long have played, and end the spoil
They have made of human souls i' the holy name

Of Christ! ― Oh, holy Lord, cut short their reign of shame!"


"Amen, amen!" responded the rapt crowd ―
"O Lord, subvert the soul-benumbing power
Of priestcraft, in our noble land!" ― aloud
They prayed ― "Thine own apostles trod its shore;
Thy martyrs bled upon the sanded floor
O' the Colosseum; the cities' streets engrained
Have been with many a Christian martyr's gore;
Our mountains and our vales their blood hath stained!

Of Lord! to our loved land restore their faith unfeigned!"


"And my soul saith 'Amen,'" the Brescian said;
"But what, if God to answer prayer delay ―
Prayer scarce accordant with His purpose dread,
Or not yet ripened, so that they who pray
Can say they know it?   He, in sovereign sway,
May humble Italy still more; ― confound
Her national councils; ― bring to low decay
Her wealth and strength.   So long the craven hound

Of Austria, unto Prussia next she may be bound.


"Oh, who can think upon her worldly glory ―
Her old, great names of conquest and renown ―
Her names of patriotism, so bright in story!
Her names of eloquence ― the names thick strown
O'er history's pages ― they that wear the crown
In Art, and Song, and Music ― and not sigh
To see Italia sit with face half-prone
To the dust, and with half-folded hands ― while sky,

And earth, and sea, resound with the awakening cry


"Of new-born nations who aspire to be
A something in the scale, when worth is weighed,
And rank assigned 'mong men?   Her ancientry
Would blush to see of what poor stuff are made
Her modern men ― mere men of masquerade:―
Except the few now leaving earth ― the few
So far above the rest, each seems a shade
Of some old worthy which her soil upthrew

When naturally, it seemed, there glory and greatness


"My brother Arnold" Savanarola spake,
With haste, and yet with tenderness, "we are all
Italians, and thy words, as a trumpet, wake
Our passionate love for Italy!   Yet fall
Thine accents on our incorporeal
And auditory sense, as if they told
Thy heart were more upon yon earthly ball
Than here, in Jesu's heaven" ――
                                                      "My brother, hold!"

Cried Arnold; "think me not, I pray thee, overbold


"When I avow my spirit's love intense
For earthly themes, though far below the worth
Of heavenly.   Yet, I hear with reverence
Thy meek reproof.   For here, if not on earth,
The holier soul should have what elder birth
Claims there: brethren's obedient love." ―
                                                                            "I join
With thee, Bartoccio," Arnulph said;― "'Tis dearth
Of knowledge stops the way.   The Book divine,

If once Italians search with earnestness, no shrine


"Of the Madonna shall find worshippers.
Before the gaudy rags with which priests dress
Her images, women shall cease to rehearse
Their prayers, and haste devoutly to confess
Christ Intercessor, by whom, alone, access
They have unto the Father.   And the crime
Of years shall end: the crime of heinousness,
That set up Mary as a means to climb

To heaven, shall never more be heard of through all


At once, Italia's myriad martyr host
I saw, lift up their hands, and cry, in prayer ―
"Lord God Almighty, if one holocaust
Of martyrdom the vengeful Papal slayer
Could make of all our bodies, did we wear
Them once again, on earth, we would with joy
Crowd to the flames ― yea, clap our hands, and
Them with a shout, ― would it the vile alloy

Of Mariolatry with Christian truth destroy!


"Lord, let Thy servant's prophecy be soon
Fulfilled!   Let sickly sentiment no more
Be misnamed piety; nor crawling homage done
To Mary be miscalled devotion.   Pour
Thy light upon our loved Italian shore ―
Thy holy light into Italian mind ―
Until their mid-age darkness men abhor;
And, seeing how Superstition did them blind,

Regard it as the foulest foe of human kind!" ―


Forthwith, a venerable sight I saw
Of ancient martyrs from Italian land,
That seemed their brother martyrs' gaze to draw
As they approached.   No sons of Hildebrand,
Or Innocent, or Urban proud.   The band
Lowly and meek, they were, that Pagan hate
Drove to the catacombs; and thence trepanned,
Full oft, to murder them.   A throng more late

I' the world's record came with them: sharers of like


And sharers of their lowly meekness too;
But hugely varnished in the midnight time
That followed, as saints and miracle-workers true ―
Some of them Roman bishops, ere a crime
Had stained the name of Pope; and some in prime
Slaughtered of maidenhood ― young virgins fair;
And others of their sex, in age.   Sublime
In bravery, they did the fiercest tortures bear,

Until their torturers faltered 'fore their courage rare!


Popes Clement, Sixtus, Fabian, Felix, all ―
With Lucius and Cornelius [13] ― though none
Of it ― all canonised!   The pretence tall,
"I am infallible," none made.   Each seemed
A child in lowliness.   A face that beamed
With beauty followed: Agnes, [14] the virgin whom
Shrewd Diocletian, when he falsely deemed
He could destroy Christ's truth, sentenced to doom,

With many more, filling his realm with fear and gloom.


Laurence, [15] the victim of Valerian, slain
With tortures most ingenious and prepense;
And Roman martyrs in a crowd, i' th' reign
Of reckless Commodus, for Truth's offence,
Driven to fierce deaths; and more, pre-eminence
Of martyrdom beneath the bloody sway
Of Decius who obtained; a throng intense
Suffering Maxentius caused, ere yet the fray

O' the Milvian bridge brought Constantine the victor's


And many slaughtered in Maximian's rage;
And others by Severus' seeming word
Of fairness.   Boasting Italian lineage,
These, all the gladsome martyrs of their Lord,
Now joined in heaven upon the flowery sward,
A grateful army, mingling to commemorate
The sweetness of their bliss.   On earth abhorred
Of wicked men, they felt their afterstate

The sweeter: it was bliss full-blossomed, consummate


And now, in happy groups ― withouten note
O' the times in which they lived on earth ― for here
'Twas true fraternity ― though ages mote
Have rolled between their births ― in groups of dear
And holiest friendship gathered, they gave ear
Unto each other how the errand sped
On earth, from which they had returned.   Austere
And brave, as when the forfeit of his head

He paid to Commodus, sage Apollonius [16] said ―


"On errand of our loving Lord, I stood,
Of late, near to the weary soul of one
Who long had struggled with the surging flood
Of his heart's doubts and fears.   Renown he won
In college studies, when a youth, and none
More welcome would have found if he the pale
Of Rome's apostate Church had entered.   Groan
And ave, and tears, his sister did not fail

To offer to Madonna, ere she took the veil;


"And then the simple nun spent half her life
In praying Mary from the heretics' snare
To save her brother.   Home brought daily strife,
With father's ire, to Giulio, ― mother's prayer
And passionate entreaty.   If to share
The fellowship of young or old he tried,
He gat no help, no solace: to beware
Of mortal sin, of dark presumptuous pride

They warned him: not one strove to cheer him: all
        to chide.


"Young Giulio dare not fully tell his soul
To any mortal.   Unto God he made
His moan: to God alone!   The priestly scowl
Was on him in the street.   'Neath sun or shade,
The wistful maids who saw him inly prayed
Madonna to be saved from deadly stain
Young Giulio bore ― their own confessors said;
He struggled with his doubts and fears in vain:

He dared not bow to Mary, nor false worship feign;


"And, with conviction of heart-sin, he shrank
From supplicating God with cheerful mind.
Could he have brought his burthen with a frank
And filial trust before the Lord ― the blind
Had fully gained his sight.   But fears had twined
Themselves so thickly with his doubts, his gaze,
In love, upon the Saviour of mankind
He dare not fix ― in grateful love; or raise

To Him, in cheerful confidence, one note of praise.


"He pondered o'er the old Waldensian book,
So long in secret kept ― the page of light
That first his faith in Romish errors shook ―
Until he shrank with horror at the sight
Of Rome's idolatries, and murderous spite
Shewn to God's people, and His Truth; and thought,
Not seldom, he would tell the truth outright ―
Would own himself the foe of the Devout,

Misnamed; and cry Rome's creed was but a Tale of


"But soon, again, remembrance of his sin
Bereaved his soul of strength.   He dared not speak
Of others' sin, while yet he could not win
A sense of pardon for his own.   To seek
So great a boon aright, he feared with meek
Distrust of his own power ― he knew not how;
And hourly prayed that God, who aids the weak,
Would strengthen him the way of life to know

And enter on it boldly, spite of every foe.


"Our ministry ― in answer ― to his cry
The Lord vouchsafed unto him; and, in deep
Dependence on our Guide Divine, the eye
Within we strove of blinding films to sweep,
And fix it on perception that to reap
In joy is promised unto them that sow
In tears.   Some strength he gained, but soon o'er
He deemed salvation was, by faith: with low

Prostration he must still with tears, in secret, bow.


"We dreaded, now, lest penance, and the scourge,
And all the false humility and vice ―
Not virtue ― wherewith monks affect to purge
Men's sins, should fill his fancy, and entice
Him to attempt himself to pay the price
Wherewith his Saviour had already bought
His soul, and ransomed it for Paradise.
Our dread grew gloomier, for his mind, o'erwrought,

Seemed sinking ― when the Hand Divine deliverance


"An English Christian ― whom young Giulio met
Amid some ruins, where, to nurse his grief,
In solitariness, and 'scape the fret
And torment of being watched, i' the fall o' the leaf,
He wandered ― courteously besought a brief
Historic reason, if young Giulio's lore
Were rich enough to give it, ― like a reef
Of rocks the sea hath left far on the shore ―

Why there lay ruins which such marks of beauty bore.


"The question pleased him, for he knew each stone
And vestige well of Rome's rich treasure-heap
Of ruins.   And he pleased the stranger.   Flown
Was twilight, ere their talk was done.   No peep
O' the moon was yet: and, 'mid the dark, to creep
From stone to stone, they tarried ― for the theme
The stranger touched made Giulio's spirit leap
With eagerness.   Denouncing Rome's dark scheme,

The English Christian showed how freely did redeem


"Men's souls, He whom the Father's pitying love
From His own bosom gave.   Young Giulio's eyes
The darkness hid, and much his spirit strove
To hide its tempest ― so long used to spies
And listeners ― but, o'ercome with sweet surprise,
He told his secret.   Now, the stranger blessed
The hour the Guide Divine ― who doth advise
His servants true ― had led him to the quest,

Unknown, of one who panted for the Saviour's rest.


"Experienced in the windings of the heart
And intellect ― the wards o' the locks of thought
And feeling ― the good stranger drew apart
The fastenings of young Giulio's mind; upcaught
The meaning of his failure to be taught
The truth of Christ by th' old Waldensian book;
And gave him ― such the words ― 'a treasure fraught
With priceless wealth.'   In his young hands he took

It, while his frame throughout with grateful tremor shook!


"It was the Bible in his native speech.
God shone upon it as he read.   In Rome,
Now Giulio doth, each day, Christ's gospel preach,
Where'er a poor man opens his mean home
To let the word of life be heard.   They come
And listen, stealthily or boldly, while
The preacher onward speeds; and, readily, some
Ask for the Book, and buy it.   With the smile

Of scepticism some hear; and pass on to revile


"For Doubt abounds: its name is legion.   Where
Hath Rome's old tyrant power 'mong men been felt,
And human souls a strong deliverer
Not sought in sternest doubt ― scorning to melt
In tears, where men so long have bowed and knelt
In childish fears?   Doubt still abounds; but death
To doubt the Book in many hearts hath dealt.
Tis seed-time yet.   The harvest comes, God saith.

We rest upon His word whose name is Truth, in faith!"


To Apollonius, while he told his tale
Of sorrow and joy, some hundred audience lent;
And when he raught the end, they did not fail
To thank the Guide Divine.   Meanwhile upsent
Were songs of praise.   'Mid other groups were blent
Like laud and joy, as others told how fared
They, in their visits to old Earth.   Intent
All seemed on learning what they chiefly cared

To know: that faith increasingly by men was shared.


Just as the Hand of Light again was seen,
And the glad myriads in due order filed
Across the vale, their march unto the green
And terraced mountains to begin, ― it thrilled
My soul to see how that large army smiled
To see another Martyr band advance ―
A glorious band ― confessors undefiled!
To join their brethren.   Who were these?

        One glance

Sufficed to show they fell by Rome's intolerance


In Piedmont, when rose the solemn hymn,
" 'Venge, Lord, Thy slaughtered saints!" from
        Milton's soul;
And Cromwell threatened English vengeance grim
That made the Pope turn pale, and stop the foul
And bloody massacre.   Mother with infant roll
They did adown the rocks: atrocity
The Savoy Duke endeavoured to control,
But could not The Pontifical decree

Was given in haste: Rome feared the fiat of the Free!


One noble heart came up with these, although
He died before them.   He who sang the song
Of Simeon, in the fire ― "Now lettest Thou
"Thy servant, Lord, depart in peace!" ―  So strong
The heart of man God makes to bear vile wrong!
Thus brave Bazana of Luzerna [17] died.
He doth to the black calendar belong,
Likewise, o' the Inquisition's murders wide

And deep.   Could blackest Hell itself their vileness


The Martyrs of the Valleys, newly come,
Filed off in order for the march.   No peal
Of trumpet summoned them, no pipe, nor drum,
That rouseth men, on earth, to slaughterous zeal.
The beckoning Hand of Light to advance, or wheel
Guides them.   And on they move ― Italia's host
Of Martyrs, on whom Rome set her strong heel,
To crush out life: a dreadful holocaust

To Evil!   Nor is her zest for murder changed, or lost ―


Though great Mazzini's life of labour served
To kindle fire of freedom in the breast
Of his "Young Italy" ― and strongly nerved
Some earnest hearts to dare, and hands to wrest
A victory for freedom; and the pest
Of Popery now hangs its head.   Oh, no!
Rome hath not changed.   Nor ever will men rest
Peacefully in Truth while she can work them woe.

Of Freedom and of Truth she is the deadliest foe! ―


I heard begin the tuneful swell of praise ―
Soon changed to prayer for Italy ― as on
The Martyr Army marched.   But soon my gaze
On their bright ranks grew dim; and faint the tone ―
And fainter of their chaunt.   Before the throne
The martyrs soon will bow, in rapture high,
I thought, as I awoke.   But, not yet done
Is my earth-labour.   I must better try

To live ― "as ever in my great Taskmaster's eye."





1.―Stanza 42.

    ARNOLD OF BRESCIA.  His triumphant patriotism and mortification of Pope Adrian (Breakspear), with his fall and martyrdom by burning, at the command of the Pope he had humbled, are among the most romantic incidents of Italy's romantic history.

2.―Stanza 44.

    "The Florentine" SAVANAROLA.

3.―Stanza 46.

    SANTA SCALA.  "Nearly opposite the steps of the church of St. John Lateran, we saw the devout, or penance-performing worshippers, ascending the Santa Scala on their knees.  This is a flight of stone steps, said to have been taken from the palace of Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem, twenty-eight in number.  The strange spectacle of young and old, rich and poor, fat and lean, cheerful and sorrowful, slow and rapid, clumsy and agile, moving on their knees up those steps, must be seen to be understood.  The contortions, the jostling, the groaning, the praying, the kissing the steps, the serious gravity of some, the anxious faces of others, the irresistible tumbling, and, consequently, ludicrous collisions occasioned by the sudden stoppages of others, render the scene mournful, or ridiculous, according to the state of mind of the observer."*

* "Journal of a Tour in Italy, in 1850; with an account of an interview with the Pope at the Vatican."  By the Rev. Geo. Townsend, D.D., Canon of Durham: page 91. Rivingtons, 1830. [Dr. Townsend was the antagonist of Sir Wm. Drummond, the author of "Œdipus Judaicus."]

4.―Stanza 46.

    BAMBINO.  "We visited the church of Santa Maria d'Aracceli.  Here a monk showed us the far-famed Bambino, a swathed and dressed olive-wood image of the infant Saviour, encrusted with jewels, which they take, if requested, to the titled and opulent sick.  A carriage, two hours after, was seen to receive it and return it.  The women in the streets kneel as it is borne past them."  Page 97 of the same work.

5.―Stanza 50.

    ARNULPH.  "At this time (A.D. 1128) under Pope Honorius II., a certain priest, named Arnulph, came to Rome, a man of great devotion and a distinguished preacher.  While he proclaimed the word of God, he rebuked the dissoluteness, the libertinism, the avarice, and the extreme haughtiness of the clergy.  He exhibited, for universal imitation, the poverty and life of spotless integrity of Jesus Christ and his apostles.  In truth, his preaching was approved by the Roman nobility, as that of a true disciple of Christ.  But, on the other hand, it exposed him to the intense hatred of the cardinals and the Clergy, who seized him by night, and put him to death secretly."―Trithemius: quoted by Monastier.

6.―Stanza 51.

    MARTIN GONIN was but thirty-six years of age.  He was sentenced to be drowned in the Isere, in Dauphine.  The sentence was executed in the night.  GEOFROI VARAILLE, aged fifty, was burnt at Turin, 1558.  NICOLAS SARTOIRE, a young student of Berne, was burnt at Aosta, in Piedmont, 1557.  PIERRE MASSON, a Vaudois barbe, or pastor, was waylaid on a journey, and arrested.  He was put to death at Dijon, in 1530.  Monastier.

7.―Stanza 51.

    MATHURIN: burnt at Carignan, in Savoy, in 1560.  His wife found entrance to his prison, exhorted him to constancy in the presence of his judges, and offered to go with him to die, if they would give her leave: They granted her request, Monastier.

8., 9.,10. and 11.―Stanza 54.

    GIULIO GHIRLANDA was the first who suffered martyrdom in the city of Venice.  He sank into the deep, calling upon the Lord Jesus.  The next was ANTONIO RICETTO, a most honourable man.  In the gondola he was firm, prayed for those who put him to death, and commended his soul to his Saviour.  FRANCIS SPINULA was drowned ten days after Ricetto.  The most distinguished of all the martyrs of Venice was FRA BALDO LUPETINO.  He was of a noble and ancient family, became a monk, and rose to high rank in his Order.  He was imprisoned twenty years by the Pope and the Inquisition, and then put to death.  He met his martyrdom with great firmness, and in peace. "Sketches of Protestantism in Italy," by Robt. Baird, D.D., of New York.

12.―Stanza 57.

    BARTOLOMEO BARTOCCIO, son of a wealthy citizen of Castello, in the duchy of Spoleto.  He was imprisoned, but escaped to Venice and thence to Geneva.  In 1567, he was seized in Genoa, by the Inquisition, and sent to Rome, on the requisition of the Pope.  "After an imprisonment of nearly two years, he was condemned to be burnt alive.  With a firm step he went to the place of execution; and, whilst the flames were enveloping his body, the words Vittoria! vittoria! victory! victory! were distinctly heard from his dying lips."  Dr. Baird, in the volume just mentioned.

13.―Stanza 73.

Popes CLEMENT, SIXTUS, FABIAN, FELIX, LUCIUS and CORNELIUS.  I would not deny to these primitive Bishops of Rome the rank of true martyrs.

14.―Stanza 73.

    AGNES, the Virgin: martyred at Rome, in 305.  Jerome, Augustine, and Ambrose, join in praise of her virtues.  See Alban Butler's "Lives of the Saints."

15.―Stanza 74.

    LAURENCE.  The circumstances of the martyrdom of Laurence, in A.D. 258, are often doubted.  But if he really were roasted to death, over a slow fire, on a gridiron, I see no reason to doubt that the intrepid martyr, after suffering some time, should have defiantly bid his torturers to turn him on the other side.

16.―Stanza 76.

    APOLLONIUS, a Roman senator, was beheaded in the reign of Commodus, after defending himself before the Senate.  Eusebius, Book v., c. 21; Jerome, in his Catalogue of Illustrious Men; Tertullian; etc.

17.―Stanza 94.

    BAZANA OF LUZERNA: a nobleman burnt to death at Turin, on the 23rd Nov., 1623.  They bandaged his mouth, as he left the prison.  "But, as the executioner was tying him to the stake, the bandage fell off, and the martyr thus proclaimed the cause of his death: 'People,' he said, 'it is for no crime I die, but for seeking to act in conformity with the word of God; to sustain truth against error; to―'  Here the Inquisitors stayed him, by putting light to the pile.  Bazana set up the song of Simeon, as versified by Theodore Beza, that touching canticle sung by the faithful of his Church after the sacrament

'Laisse moi désormais
 Seigneur, aller en paix'―

But his voice was soon silenced by the flames.'  "See" The Israel of the Alps: translated from the French of the Rev. Dr. Alexis Muston." London : Ingram, Cooke, and Co. 1853.


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