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From "The Italian Novelists" translated from the originals with Critical and Biographical Notices by Thomas Roscoe; Frederick Warne and Co.; London; [undated edition, c.1900, first published, c. 1824]; pp. 405-410.


Novels of Niccolo Granucci.






THE family of this novelist, becoming partisans of the Guelph faction, were banished early in the fourteenth century from Lucca. Afterwards, on its restoration, it became very powerful, various branches spreading throughout the different states of Italy. From some circumstances, indeed, connected with the fortunes of his family, Granucci is said to have derived many of his stories, expressly stating in his work, as we learn from Mr. Dunlop, that when on a visit to Sienna in 1568, he availed himself of the occasion to reach the little town of Pienza, in the vicinity, for the purpose of inquiring whether there were any descendants of the family name remaining in those parts. He then goes on to relate that two very respectable citizens bore him company to a monastery in the neighbourhood of Pienza, whence he subsequently proceeded to visit the Villa di Tojano, in company with one of the monks, who relates a variety of stories, and presents him, likewise, on parting, with a MS. which furnished him with the materials from which he compiled his work, and which the author in his preface declares “well merited the title of Selva di varia lezione.” Though the style of this writer can by no means boast the ease and elegance of some of the earlier novelists, it is, nevertheless, for that age extremely good. For being an avowed imitator and admirer of Boccaccio, he was at the pains of rendering his “Teseide,” from ottava rima into prose; a task which fully entitled him, we think, to claim some acquaintance with the taste and purity of that writer’s language.

He flourished about the year 1570. His moral work, entitled “La Piacevol Notte e Lieto Giorno,” the “Delightful Night and Pleasant Day,” made its appearance, with the date of 1574, at Venice.


*  La Piacevol Notte e Lieto Giorno, Opera Morale di Nicolao Granucci di Lucca, indirizzato al molto Magnifico e Nobilissimo Sig. M. Giuseppe Arnolfini, Gentiluomo Lucchese. Venezia, appresso Jacomo vidali, 8vo, 1574.

  History of Fiction, vol. ii. p. 469.

  La Teseide di M. Givanni Boccaccio, &c., di ottava rima nuovamente ridotta in prose per Nicolao Granucci di Lucca, &c., Lucca, Presso Vincenzo Busdraghi, 1579.



IN the magnificent city of Ferrara, about the time of Duke Borso, dwelt a noble youth of the name of Polidoro. Becoming deeply attached to one of the most beautiful girls in the whole place, he had 408 soon the happiness of acquiring such an interest in her affections as to induce her to yield her consent to a speedy union. As she had numerous other suitors, however, of whom Polidoro was extremely jealous, she was persuaded, in order to allay his apprehensions, in the meantime, unknown to her friends and family, to give him frequent meetings, in one of which he prevailed upon her to accept the marriage ring from his hand, as a pledge of his honorable views. Having then taken leave of each other, the promised bride retired to rest; but soon after midnight she was awoke, and imagined she heard someone entering her chamber window. She arose, and beheld by the light of the moon one of the most daring of her rejected lovers, who had already made good his entrance. Having only a single moment to decide how she could best defend her menaced honour, which she was aware she should equally forfeit by giving vent to her cries, she seized a weapon which lay near her and smote the youth so severely on the temples that he immediately fell headlong to the ground, at the very moment when he fancied he was about to succeed in his attempt. His cries drawing the officers of justice to the spot, a strict search took place, during which the unfortunate Polidoro, being the only person found near the place, was forthwith seized upon suspicion of having assassinated his rival, and was thrown into the public prison.

Fearful only of casting the least imputation upon the reputation of her he loved, he at once admitted the charge of having perpetrated the deed, a supposed crime for which he was adjudged to suffer death. Tidings of the unhappy result of this affair coming, the ensuing day, to the ears of his betrothed bride, she hesitated not an instant in what way to act. Heedless of consequences, she set out for the palace of the Duke, where, half wild with grief and terror at the idea of her lover having already suffered, she became clamorous for an audience, the people on all sides making way for her, until she was at length stopped by the officer upon guard at the ducal gates. Her passionate appeals, however, for admittance were here irresistible, and she was conducted in a short time into the audience-chamber before the Duke and his whole court. But, regardless of surrounding objects, she singled out him of whom she was in search, and throwing herself at his feet in all the sweet disorder of distressed beauty, which heightened rather than diminished her charms, she besought his clemency and pity in the following terms: “Heaven, that has given me access to your Excellency, will, I fervently trust, incline your heart also to listen to me, to listen to justice and to truth. Let not the innocent, my honoured lord, suffer for the guilty. The cause for which I appear before you, however much it may seem to reflect upon myself, will not permit me to be longer silent. Believe me, then, when I say that the prisoner Polidoro and my unhappy self have been long though secretly betrothed to each other, and we were on the eve of becoming united when the deceased youth, for whose death he has been made responsible, urged by envy and disappointment, had the shameless audacity to make attempts upon my honour, by stealing his way into my chamber by night. At the same hour came my betrothed husband, whom I had consented to meet in order to arrange measures of reconciliation 409 with our friends, as well as to obviate the effects of some ungrounded jealousy in regard to the deceased, which had been some time before preying upon his mind. And for this reason only had I consented to unite my fate with his before we had succeeded in obtaining the favourable decision of our friends. We had scarcely taken leave of each other, when, on retiring to rest, I was soon after startled out of my slumbers by hearing the sash of my chamber window open, and beheld with terror the head of the deceased, who had succeeded in scaling the walls, and was about to invade the sanctuary of my rest. Impelled at once by fear and indignation, I snatched the sword that I have long kept near my couch, and struck the invader of my honour with the utmost strength I could command. He fell to the ground, and by the just award of Heaven, rather than by any power of mine, he shortly afterwards expired.

“In the tumult thus caused it was not long before the captain of the band with his followers rushed toward the spot. What was my surprise and horror, then, to hear this very morning that my beloved and innocent Polidoro had been just seized, convicted, and lay under sentence of death, preferring rather to suffer everything than even to betray my name. Deserted, alone, and fearful of confiding the circumstances of our union to any, fearful even of the jealous reproaches of my Polidoro, to whom or whither could I turn for advice and aid — whither, I repeated in my despair, but to the source of honour and justice itself, at the feet of our most noble and righteous Duke?”

Here, no longer able to control her emotions, the lovely Ortensia ceased to speak, but not to weep, until the Duke kindly raising her up and assuring her she had no cause for such excessive sorrow, as far as it lay in his power to remove it, she attempted to recover her composure. “But is he free? is he pardoned?” inquired the anxious girl with breathless haste, almost resisting his efforts to raise her from the ground. “Yes, yes, you are both free,” rejoined the Duke with one of his most benevolent and irresistible smiles; “ you are both free to be as happy as you please, and as I doubt not you deserve to be, as far as my influence, at least, with both your parents can be supposed to be of any avail. For it is impossible that I should not believe what you say; your words and looks have the stamp of truth impressed upon them; and the only part of the affair, I think, which we have to regret is your surpassing loveliness and worth, which doubtless led to the fatal enterprise of the poor enamoured boy. You have taught others, however, by his fate, fair lady, to keep a more respectful distance; and we are far from wishing to find fault with you for showing the courage of the heroine as well as the affection of the woman. You have our full approbation and respect.” But the scene which she had now gone through, and even supported until the Duke ceased to speak, with so much animation and courage, was too affecting to be longer borne; she gazed timidly around the court, and hearing some murmurs of applause as the Duke concluded, aware that the eyes of numbers were upon her, all her womanly feelings, all her sensibility and delicacy, came into sudden play; she grew pale, she trembled, and the next moment fainted in the Duke’s arms. “I trust 410 we have done no mischief here,” he continued as he himself bore her, followed by the princesses, into another saloon; “she will recover, and we will all of us yet be present to grace her approaching nuptials.” And our noble Duke performed what he had thus promised; for he himself saw and reconciled the rival families: and as he watched the hand of the bright Ortensia conferred upon the happy Polidoro, he observed to one of the courtiers near him, “I think she did well to put the other fellow first out of his pain; he could not have borne this.”


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