Rienzi: The Last of the Roman Tribunes

By Edward Bulwer Lytton; L. W. Zeigler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE CONSPIRATOR BECOMES THE MAGISTRATE

At midnight, when the rest of the city seemed hushed in rest, lights were streaming from the windows of the Church of St. Angelo. Breaking from its echoing aisles, the long and solemn notes of sacred music stole at frequent intervals upon the air. Rienzi was praying within the church; thirty masses consumed the hours from night till morn, and all the sanction of religion was invoked to consecrate the enterprise of liberty.* The sun had long risen, and the crowd had long been assembled before the church door, and in vast streams along every street that led to it, -- when the bell of the church tolled out long and merrily; and as it ceased, the voices of the choristers within chanted the following hymn, in which were somewhat strikingly, though barbarously, blended, the spirit of the classic patriotism with the fervour of religious zeal: --


THE ROMAN HYMN OF LIBERTY

Let the mountains exult around!
On her seven-hill'd throne renown'd,
Once more old Rome is crown'd!
Jubilate!

____________________
*
In fact, I apprehend that if ever the life of Cola di Rienzi shall be written by a hand worthy of the task, it will be shown that a strong religious feeling was blended with the political enthusiasm of the people, -- the religious feeling of a premature and crude reformation, the legacy of Arnold of Brescia. It was not, however, one excited against the priests, but favoured by them. The principal conventual orders declared for the Revolution.
"Exultent in circuito Vestro Montes," &c. -- Let the mountains exult around! So begins Rienzi's letter to the Senate and Roman people: preserved by Hocsemius.

-176-

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