Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Book fji|etj ,v|th indignation at the thoughts of its descending, |ilro an hereditary possession, to Giannetino. These vaIJ47' l-jous passions, preying with violence on his turbulent and aspiring mind, determined him to attempt overturning that domination to which he could not submit. Intrigues As the most effectual method of accomplishing this, rlcimiTof ne thought, at first, of forming a connection with Francis, the ciitup:- and even proposed it to the Frencli ambassador at Rome;

and after expelling Doria, together with the imperial faction, by his assistance, he offered to put the republic once more under the protection of that monarch, hoping, in return for that service, to be entrusted with the principal share in the administration of government. Hut, having communicated his scheme to a few chosen confidents, from whom he kept nothing secret, Verrina, the chief of them, a man of desperate fortune, capable alike of advising and executing the most audacious deeds, remonstrated with earnestness against the folly of exposing himself to the most imminent danger, while he allowed another to reap all the fruits of his success; and exhorted him warmly to aim himself at that pre-eminence in his country, to which he was destined by his illustrious birth, was called by the voice of his fellow-citizens, and would be raised by the zeal of his friends. This discourse opened such great prospects to Fiesco, and so suitable to his genius, that, abandoning his own plan, he eagerly adopted that of Verrina. The other persons present, though sensible of the hazardous nature of the undertaking, did not choose to condemn what their patron had so warmly approved. It was instantly resolved, in this dark cabal, to assassinate the two Dorios, as well as the principal persons of their party, to overturn the established system of government, and to place Fiesco on the ducal throne of Genoa. Time, however, and preparations were requisite to ripen such a design for execution; and, while he was employed in carrying on these, Fiesco made it his chief care to guard against every thing that might betray his secret, or create suspicion. The disguise he assumed, was, of all others, the most impenetrable. He seemed to be abandoned entirely to pleasure and dissipation; a perpetual gaiety, diversified by the pursuit of all the amusements in which persons of his age and rank are apt to delight, engrossed, in appearance, the whole of his time and thoughts; but, amidst this hurry of dissipation, he prosecuted his plan with the most cool attention, neither retarding the design by a timid hesitation, nor precipitating the execution by an excess* of impatience. He continued his correspondence with the French ambassador at Rome, though without communicating to him his real intentions, that by his means he might secure the protection of the French nrms, if, hereafter, he should find it necessary to call them in to his aid. He entered into a close confederacy with Farnese, duke of Parma, who, being disgusted with the emperor for refusing to grant him the investiture of that duchy, was eager to promote any measure that tended to diminish his influence in Italy, or to ruin a family so implicitly devoted to him as that of Doria. Being sensible that, in a maritime state, the acquisition of naval power was what he ought chiefly to aim at, he purchased four galleys from the pope, who probably was not unacquainted with the design which he had formed, and did not disapprove of it. Under colour of fitting out one of these galleys to sail on a cruise against the Turks, he not only assembled a good number of hin own vassals, but engaged in his service many bold adventurers, whom the truce between the emperor and Solyman had deprived of their usual occupation and subsistence.

While Fiesco was taking these important steps, he preserved so admirably his usual appearance of being devoted entirely to pleasure and amusement, and paid court with such artful address to the two Dorius, as imposed, not only on the generous and unsuspicious mind of Andrew, but- deceived Giannetino, who, conscious of his own criminal intentions, was more apt to distrust the designs of others. So many instruments being now pre

VOL. VI. G g

^?|K pared, nothing remained but to strike the blow. Various

■ consultations were held by Fiesco with his confidants, in

I,S47' order to settle the manner of doing it with the greatest certainty and effect. At first they proposed to murder the Dorias and their chief adherents, during the celebration of high mass in the principal church; but, as Andrew was often absent from religious solemnities on account of his great age, that design was laid aside. It was then concerted that Fiesco should invite the uncle and nephew, with all their friends whom he had marked out as victims, to his house, where it would be easy to cut them off at once without danger or resistance; but as Giannetino was obliged to leave the town on the day which they had chosen, it became necessary likewise to alter this plan. They at last determined to attempt by open force, what they found difficult to effect by stratagem, and fixed on the night between the second and third of January for the execution of their enterprise. .The time was chosen with great propriety, for, as the doge of the former year was to quit his office, according to custom, on the first of the month, and his successor could not be elected sooner than the fourth, the republic remained, during that interval, in a sort of anarchy, and Fiesco might, with less violence, take possession of the vacant dignity.

The con- The morning of that day Fiesco employed in visiting

spirator* . . f . , . . . . .

assemble to his lriends, passing some hours among them with a spirit

oxecme asav an(] unembarrassed as at other times. Towards their plan. . . , ', „ . . , . .

evening, he paid court to the Donas with his usual marks

of respect, and surveying their countenance and behaviour with the attention natural in his situation, was happy to observe the perfect security in which they remained, without the least foresight or dread of that storm which had been so long a-gathering, and was now ready to burst over their Leads. From their palace he hastened to his own, which stood by itself in the middle of a large court, surrounded by u high wall. The gates had been set open in the morning, and all persons, without cJistinctlon, were allowed to enter, but strong guards, posted B90K

within the court, suffered no one to return. Verrina, — ^

meanwhile, and a few persons trusted with the secret of li47" the conspiracy, after conducting Fiesco's vassals, as well as the crews of his galleys, into the palace, in small bodies, with as little noise as possible, dispersed themselves through the city, and, in the name of their patron, invited to an entertainment the principal citizens whom they knew to be disgusted with the administration of the Dorias, and to have inclination, as well as courage, to attempt a change in the government. Of the vast number of persons who now filled the palace, a few only knew for what purpose they were assembled; the rest, astonished at finding, instead ot the preparations tor a feast, a court crowded with armed men, and apartments filled with the instruments of war, gazed on each other with a mixture of curiosity, impatience, and terror.

While their minds were in this state of suspence andF;eK0-, agitation, Fiesco appeared. With a look full of alacrity xhorta' and confidence, he addressed himself to the persons of them, chief distinction, telling them, that they were not now called to partake of the pleasure of an entertainment, but to join in a deed of valour, which would lead them to liberty and immortal renown. He set before their eyes the exorbitant as well as intolerable authority of the elder Doria, which the ambition of Giannetino, and the partiality of the emperor to a family more devoted to him than to their country, was about to enlarge and to render perpetual. This unrighteous dominion, continued he, you have it now in your power to subvert, and to establish the freedom of your country on a firm basis: the tyrants must be cut off: I have taken the most effectual measures for this purpose: my associates are numerous: I can depend on allies and protectors, if necessary. Happily, the tyrants are as secure as I have been provident; their insolent contempt of their countrymen has banished the suspicion and timidity which usually render the guilty quick-sighted to discern, as well as sagacious to guard

Book against the vengeance which they deserve. They Vill

J now feel the blow before they suspect any hostile hand to

ls*7' be nigh. Let us then saliv forth, that we may deliver our country by one generous effort, almost unaccompanied with danger, and certain of success. These words, uttered with that irresistible fervour which animates the mind when roused by great objects, made the desired impression on the audience. Fietco's vussals, ready to execute whatever their master should command, received his discourse with a murmur of applause. To many, whose fortunes were desperate, the licence and confusion ,of an insurrection allbrdedau agreeable prospect. Those of higher rank, and more virtuous sentiments, durst not discover the surprise or horror with which they were struck, at the proposal of an enterprise no less unexpected than atrocious; as each of them imagined the other to be in the secret of the conspiracy, and saw himself surrounded by persons who waited only a signal from their leader to perpetrate the greatest crime. With one voice then ali applauded, or feigned to applaud, the undertaking.

Hi* inter- Fitsco having thus fixed and encouraged his associates, view w«h before he gave them his last order, he hastened for a mo* ' nient to the apartment of his wife, a lady of the noble house of Cibo, whom lie loved with tender affection, and whose beauty and virtue rendered her worthy of his love. The noise of the armed men who crowded the court and palace, having long before this reached her ears, she concluded some hazardous enterprise to be in hand, and she trembled for her husband, lie found her in all the anguish of uncertainty und fear; and, as it was now impossible to keep his design concealed, he informed her of what be had undertaken. The prospect of a scene so full.of horror as welt as danger completed her agony; ana, ior.b %diiig immediately in her mind the fatal issue ot it, Mie eudeuvoured, by her tears, her entreaties, and Ittr despair, to-diveit him from his purpose. Fiesco, alter, trying in vain to sooth and to inspire her with hope,

« ForrigeFortsett »