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her voice instead of that of duty and honor, and hence is lost forever. On hearing the tale, Cerasi, the cynic, and throughout the Mephisto of this amiable but weak-minded Faust, sums up the whole situation with the characteristic comment, "We wished to make a statesman of him, and have only succeeded in making a Monsieur Alphonse. Before creating a man a deputy I shall in future be careful to look at the color of his eyes; those blue eyes of his were fatal,-I always said so."
"L'Onorevole Paolo Leonforte," by Enrico Castelnuovo, an able though perhaps not a first-class writer, is another book of the class which shows pretty plainly the way the political and social wind is now blowing in Italy. Paolo Leonforte is one of those trimmers, time-servers, and generally despicable characters to whom well applies the mordant saying of Nietzsche, that Man begins where the State ends. This hero is a self-seeker who has no policy except that which suits his own interests for the moment-a clever, amiable, unscrupulous rascal. The heroine-for this book has also a heroine, who occupies as important a place as the hero is a certain Eleonora Br.. saldi, Norina, as she is familiarly called, a woman no longer in the first flushes of youth, in easy circumstances, a musical and artistic amateur, who lives a thoroughly respectable but unconventional life, and surrounds herself with artistic and literary men. The idea of marriage has long been banished from her mind, even if it ever had much place there; her friends, their society gathered around her every evening in her rooms at Venice, suffice her needs, and for female friendship she has the affection of her cousin, Emilia Volpiano, sister-in-law to an ex-aspirer to Norina's hand. Into this group of bons camarades enters the Count Leouforte, "a dilettante, half-bourgeois, half-aristocrat, half-engineer, half speculator, a Stock Exchange being," as one of Norina's friends, disgusted at this interloper into their cosy circle, contemptuously describes him. Norina,
although no longer young or beautiful, appears to Leonforte to be a suitable match, and she in turn is captivated by him, and after putting him to the test by telling him she has lost her fortune, which he does not believe but feigns not to care for, she marries him against the advice of all her old friends, who rightly mistrust Paolo. This mistrust naturally brings about a breach, and Norina, removed into a higher social sphere, is isolated from all her old associations. The friends, however, were right. If they could but have read Paolo's thoughts after his acceptance! Thus ran the rede: "Henceforth the future was his. Yet a short while and he would be rich, and with riches one can aspire to everything. It is true he must swallow the pill of this ugly and mature wife, but when it was a question of rising it did not matter that the stairway should be beautiful; it sufficed that it should be solid." In short, Paolo had married Norina to help his ambition, while she, poor soul, had married him for love, or, rather, for passion. Soon, all too soon, the glamour vanishes, and Norina recognizes that she is not happy. For one thing, her husband is still young and handsome, while she is neither, despite the pains she takes with her toilet. Paolo soon sets up an official friend, the Marchesa Olimpia Tremonti, a picturesque chatterbox who has an elderly husband. This Marchesa is a cynical and up-todate young lady, who affects a great liking for Norina, and wants to initiate her into society. Norina, who au fond is a real grande dame, does not care for society-she cares only for her husband, who unhappily does not care for her. The sketches of frivolous Venetian society in the early chapters of the book are drawn with a master's hand; the modern adoration of wealth is sharply satirized. Olimpia and Paolo have a retreat where they meet at stated times; but though he likes the intrigue, Paolo keeps his head, even with Olimpia, whom he hopes to manipulate to his aims. At this time Leon forte is agent in Venice for a Belgian insurance company. He leaves most of
the work, however, to his clerks-one a Radical, Merizzi; one purely Conservative, Valeriani. Of course they quarrel incessantly. But the padrone does not care; he has chosen them of opposite views on purpose; he wishes by their means and without appearing himself to keep himself informed as to what is thought and done in the two opposite camps of political opinions. But an insurance agency does not suffice for Leonforte's ambition. He sees that this is a lucky moment for floating a company, and he plays upon the vanity of Olimpia's weak-minded husband, who finds himself in a tight place owing to her extravagance, to induce him to propose the establishment of a jointstock bank in North Italy, of which Tremonti should be one of the paid directors. The idea catches on, and the bank is floated with much éclat, with many aristocratic names on the committee and a duke as figurehead. The next step is for Leonforte to become a deputy. It is put forward that thus he can best help the bank. To attain this end he begins by taking a villa in the country, at Sant' Agnese in Colle, after having cast about in all directions to see where there was a villa belonging to some deputy whom he could oust, a deputy who must be weak and yielding. To acquire this villa he causes Merizzi to write to the then existing deputy of the district, Cesare Corimbo, the proprietor of the villa, to sound him. as to whether he would let it for the season. Leonforte knows that Corimbo is in financial difficulties, and hopes by thus obliging him to get him in his toils. This Cesare Corimbo is a patriot of the old school, whom Leonforte regards as only fit to be shouldered out by the new men-by the type, in short, to which Leonforte secretly belongs, who regard politics, as an old ambassador once said, as an "affaire de chantage, de marchandage, et souvent de brigandage." The villa is too expensive for the finances of the Corimbo family, crippled as it is by the sacrifices voluntarily offered towards the making of Italy. Leonforte's offer is made with much delicacy and great
generosity. He and his wife remove to the villa for the summer months. Norina, who is beginning to understand her husband's deep game, is told that she must make herself agreeable to all the notabilities of the district and to all the electors, and open house is kept at the villa, which he runs in a style that none can remember since the departed days of the Corimbo's glory. Corimbo, to whom, of course, Leonforte and his wife are especially attentive, has a niece, an eccentric child, who after much resistance becomes the friend of Norina, when she recognizes that this rich woman is not happy, despite all appearances to the contrary. Norina, amiable, honest, straightforward, is just the person to win over the electorate, with whom she is soon most popular, while Leonforte himself coaxes and flatters and cajoles and indirectly bribes the whole village, including Corimbo, the old deputy whom he is fast crowding out of his seat in the most amiable manner imaginable. "Tant pis pour lui," says Leonforte in his inmost thoughts, "if he be the weakest."
He had also desired to put himself in connection with the other two deputies of the neighboring constituencies, and had prudently informed himself if there were not one weaker than Corimbo, for, after
all, it mattered little to him whether he ousted Corimbo or any other deputy. But the result of his inquiries had shown him that he must not change his battle-field. Corimbo's two companions were worth very much less than he; they were two selfish idlers who had never devoted an
hour of their time nor a drop of their blood to their country; but it did not matterthey had great possessions, a good foundation of connections, and were always sure of the support of some minister or other, because, in his turn, some minister or other was always sure of their support. Therefore, all things considered, our Count Paolo was not wrong in directing his batteries against the Onorevole Corrimbo. Corimbo was wrong in being the
weaker of the two.
That year, ever since the reopening of Parliament in November, it could be seen that the ministerial majority had lessened noticeably. The difference made itself
felt less in the public voting than in the private, which meant that many deputies who could not yet make up their minds to secede openly from the Cabinet were con·
spiring privately to injure it. An evil custom of our Chamber, a sign of small minds and weak characters.
step is to buy the villa, which Corimbo is forced most reluctantly to sell, and thus he, so to speak, buys the seat. A real struggle for it there has never been, still Corimbo, though maimed, is determined to fight, and puts up for election, a forlorn hope, as all who
Hence there occurred a ministerial have eyes to see recognize. crisis,―
After which the members were sent to their homes for the carnival vacation. But only the least ambitious and the least concerned went away. All those who hoped to obtain a portfolio or a secretaryship, all who were eager to get into the good graces of the rulers of the morrow, whoever they might be, remained in Rome to hatch their plots in the halls and corridors of Montecitorio. As had been foreseen, the king intrusted the task of forming the new Administration to the Onorevole Fuscelli, who, not without some trouble, composed a Cabinet of mosaics which looked like a chemist's draught. So many grams of Neapolitans, so many of Sicilians, of Umbrians, of the Romagna, of Tuscans, of Lombard-Venetians, of Piedmontese. And, besides being of the absolute Right, there were some of all colors, the classical and romantic Left, the Radical evolutionary group, right and left Centre, partisans of economy and partisans of expenses, friends and adversaries of the Triple Alliance. With this harlequin's dress Fuscelli presented himself before the reassembled Chamber and found it diffident and hostile, delighted at the idea of overthrowing a second ministry so soon after the first. The Carnival had been crowned with a crisis; there could be nothing better than a second crisis for dispelling somewhat of the Lenten melancholy. But the Onorevole Fuscelli, with fine craftiness, had taken his precautions. The same day that he took office he had a decree of dissolution in his pocket, and hardly had the Chamber given a contrary vote than he simply bade it good day, and announced a general election.
Parliament is dissolved, a general election is called for, but it has come rather too soon for Leonforte's plans; he had hoped to act more slowly, but since it has come Corimbo must be sacrificed: yet another year and he would have voluntarily retired, according to Leonforte's calculations. His next
"Certainly," he says, "the old ones should make way for the young. I understand, but on one condition-namely, that the young should have given proofs that they think of something beyond their own interests, that they have character. Character, Mairani, is what we of the old school place above everything; character is the abnegation without which, I assure you, we should still have the Austrians in the land. Or perhaps you think your Leonforte has character? Look here; I am a fool, but perhaps not so great a one as you suppose."
to desist, to resign on the plea of age, His sister, his true friends, beg him
or of ill-health.
He recognized that this was the wisest course, and perhaps Corimbo would have adopted it. But that excessive susceptibility to which Norina Leonforte had alluded in ner letter, that sentiment of amour propre which often becomes diseased in those who fall from prosperity to low estate, spoilt for him all serenity of judgment. And who knows but that at bottom notwithstanding his declaration that he was fighting for the honor of the arms, he was deluding himself as to the issue! Who knows that he did not hope for a revolt of the public conscience against the invading humor of that feudatory banker!
On the election day the old patriot walks into the country with his niece, returning just in time to meet the partisans of Leonforte, who are celebrating his victory, one thousand two hundred and seventy-three votes against four hundred and one. "Consummatum est," says the brave old fellow, hearing of his defeat, but his heart is broken. This election has been an exciting one, to which Sant' Agnese was not accustomed.
In the Communal Hall, where the electors were gathered around the chair in which the President Quaglione, red
and hoarse, begged with voice and gestures that they would not suffocate him, the collecting of the poll-tickets began at a quarter to five. The first that was opened and read by the secretary bore the name of Cesare Corimbo, which was received with a murmur of disapproval. But the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth were all for Leonforte, and provoked a round of applause. "Silence! silence!" said the president. The eighth ticket was nothing, because the elector, either absent-minded or facetious, had voted for both candidates, confusing the names, Cesare Leonforte and Paolo Corimbo. Then another ticket for Corimbo, which was followed by another, the tenth, for Leonforte. And in these proportions they continued, seven or eight votes out of ten were for Leonforte. The contests, if any arose, always resulted to the disadvantage of the failing candidate. For Count Paolo they passed as valid tickets that were torn and almost illegible; they refused for Corimbo some that were evidently for him, and which lacked but a letter or the dot over an i or the loop of an e.
Bortolo Dogna, the schoolmaster, weighed down the scale with his caligraphic authority. In the square curious crowd waited for news. Italo Merizzi was not there to excite them,Italo Merizzi had gone that afternoon to San Basilio; but the crowd, as usual, excited itself. The number of votes verified, stated by one or other of the electors who
issued from the Communal house, was on all lips. Leonforte 95; Corimbo 26. Later on, Leonforte 147; Corimbo 39. Here loud acclamations and derisive laughter. By degrees the ferment increased. The numbers alone were announced without the names being given. There was no need: 203 and 54; 238 and 68; 281 and 96. It was like a lottery won by every one present. "Now Gigia also will get married," said Bortolo Schiavi the bell-ringer, nudging with his elbow an ugly and lame And the chance remark, spoken without conviction but also without irony, reflected to a certain degree the singular state of mind of a population which believed the Golden Age had arrived. The partisans of Corimbo, if there were any amongst the people gathered in the square, took good care not to throw a discordant note into the general joy; the carabineers. who had dismounted from their horses, walked about quietly between the groups, shedding benevolent smiles around them. After all, so long as there was no dis
turbance, what did Corimbo or Leonforte matter to them? They would have sent the whole Parliament to the devil if they could only have whispered two words in the ears of the pretty girls they ogled with their wicked eyes.
Corimbo's death, which follows soon after the elections, is to be ascribed greatly to his defeat and to all he suffered in consequence. His is a welldrawn character, and happily for Italy there have been many such, though they are nearly all gone now. Perhaps those men erred for want of perspicacity, were blind to the signs of the times and what those times required of them; but they were real patriots, who put principles before party, thing too rarely seen since in the Italian Parliament, made up of too many Paolo Leonfortes. On his death-bed Corimbo reviews his whole political life for his niece's benefit, speaking with enthusiasm of the men of his own day. "Do things for money, those men! Ah no, no bad act for the sake of money then; but those were other times, those were epic times; a people cannot continue in that state, and when a period of calm and reflection supervenes, it is needful to change tactics. The means by which a nation shakes off the yoke which presses it are not the same with
which it gresses."
preserves itself and proMeantime Leonforte passes from triumph fo triumph; he has even the unexpected happiness that a son is born to him, an event which he promptly utilizes to further still more his ambitious ends. The christening is made the occasion of bringing over the Church to his side; he has already, thanks to his clever steering, conciliated the Radicals and the Moderates. The bishop is asked to perform the ceremony and to stay at the villa, which is filled with guests of high degree. For the occasion the whole interior is dressed with evergreens, the portraits of Victor Emmanuel, Humbert, and especially Garibaldi, being cleverly hidden beneath their foliage, This thus conciliating both parties. manœuvre hides the obnoxious pictures from the priest, and the need of
decorating the place en fête renders it quite natural that on this account the patriotic emblems should be out of sight. Leonforte with his own hands attended to this trifling yet all-important detail. Among other guests are the Tremonti: the husband, indeed, is godfather to the boy. Leonforte, in order to kill two birds with one stone, has arranged that at the time of his christening a great industrial fête shall also be held in the village, which is to inaugurate an enterprise that promises to be most advantageous to the place, and of which he is also the originator. These fêtes to outward appearance are the same old storyspeeches, ovations, compliments; Leonforte, above all, is eloquent, triumphant, carrying away with him all his auditors. Meantime Norina grows less and less happy; even her child, fondly as she loves it, gives her little consola tion, for it pains her to see that its innocence is used by the mountebank father as an instrument of display and duplicity. However, fortunately he is much away now in Rome, and intercourse with the Corimbos, whose probity she admires more and more, aud the reconciliation with her cousin friend, besides her power to help the sad and suffering, give her some distraction. She has an inkling, though, that notwithstanding all Leonforte's show and bluster, matters are not going as well with him as would seem, and her fears are justified. Leonforte, too, foresees the possibility of ruin; he has dabbled in too many speculations, floated too many bubble concerns. To ensure the future of his wife and son, and thus indirectly his own, he invests a large sum'in an annuity for them, a fact that his friends utilize to prove how the ugly rumors already spreading concerning his financial condition must be untrue, but which, wiser eyes see, more probably means the beginning of the end. Nevertheless Leonforte hopes to stave off disaster, perhaps to avert it altogether and tide over the bad quarter of an hour. A successful speech in the Chamber almost seems to promise this result. But an honest
deputy, Santuri, who has sworn vengeance against all plutocrats and financial adventurers, rises to reply to this speech, and confronts Leonforte, and the government unat has connived with him, with a number of such crushing facts that the support of the ministry has for shame's sake to be withdrawn, and Leonforte is left stranded high and dry. He is ruined financially and politically. There now remains for him flight, or trial and probable imprisonment. One night, unexpectedly, unannounced, he turns up at the villa to say good-bye to wife and child and to collect needful papers and destroy compromising ones. There occurs a scene between him and Norina, in which he tells her some brutal truths, and discloses fully his brazen, cynical temperament. She begs him to remain, to try to make good the wrongs he has done, to think of his victims, to rehonor. member his Her just proaches are to him irritating beyond bounds:
"For heaven's sake do not let us entangle ourselves in metaphysics. Honor! I know that the strong, the rich, and the powerful have always sufficient of it. It is the weak and the ruined who are asked to render an account of this portion of their patrimony, perhaps because they have no other. The essential thing is to be strong, powerful, and rich."
"Oh, Paolo, what morals!"
"Rich above all," repeated Leonforte, "also in order to do good. Those who are ruined die of hunger and let others die of hunger. I have done good. Many of those who turn against me to-day owe everything to me. And you, how could you have been so charitable if you were not rich? Perhaps you would give kind words to those who wanted bread? And would your artists have been able to work for us if we had been poor? I know you will say that part of the money which was spent belonged to you,-that you had your dowry. But I was the husband, the master: I could have deprived you of every centime." Norina was silent, not persuaded, certainly, by these assertions, but deeply struck by the truth they con. tained. And she reflected that henceforth she would be deprived of one of the few joys of her life, that of succoring the needy. "Money, my dear," continued