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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.)

He has made friends with Chiappino


Luitolfo

_is_ frightened, for his friendship for Chiappino has been carrying him away; and on finding that entreaties were of no use, he has struck at the provost, and, as he thinks, killed him. A crowd which he imagines to be composed of the Provost's attendants has followed him from the palace. Torture stares him in the face; and his physical sensitiveness has the upper hand again. For a moment Chiappino becomes a hero; he is shamed into nobleness. He flings his own cloak over Luitolfo, gives him his passport, hurries him from the house, assumes his friend's blood-stained garment, and claims his deed. But he has scarcely done so when he perceives their mistake. Luitolfo's fears have distorted a friendly crowd into a hostile one; and the throng which Chiappino has nerved himself to defy is the populace of Faenza applauding him as its saviour. He postpones the duty of undeceiving it under pretence of the danger being not yet over. The next step will be to refuse to do so. His moral collapse, the "tragedy" of his "soul," has begun.

In the second act, a month later, this is complete. The papal legate, Ogniben, has ridden on his mule in to Faenza to find out what was wanted. "He has not come to punish; there is no harm done: for the provost was not killed after all. He has known twenty-three leaders of revolts," and therefore, so we understand, is not disposed to take such persons too seriously. He has made friends with Chiappino, accepting him in this character,

and lured him on with the hope of becoming provost himself; and Chiappino again rising--or falling--to the situation, has discovered patriotic reasons for accepting the post. He has outgrown his love, as well as modified his ideas of civic duty; and he disposes of the obligations of friendship, by declaring (to Eulalia) that the blow imputed to him was virtually his, because Luitolfo would fain have avoided striking it, while he would have struck it if he could. The legate draws him out in a humorous dialogue; satirizes his flimsy sophistries under cover of endorsing them, and leads him up to a final self-exposure.

This occurs when he reminds Chiappino in the hearing of the crowd of the private agreement they have come to: that he is to have the title and privileges of Provost on the one hand, and pay implicit obedience to Rome, in the person of her legate, on the other; but with the now added condition, that if the actual assailant of the late provost is discovered, he shall be dealt with as he deserves. At which new view of the situation Chiappino is silent; and Luitolfo, who had missed all the reward of his deed, characteristically comes forward to receive its punishment. The legate orders him to his own house; advises Chiappino, with a little more joking at his expense, to leave the town for a short time; takes possession of the key of the provost's palace, to which he does _not_ intend to give a new inmate; bids a cheery goodbye to every one, and rides away as he came. He has

"known _four_ and twenty leaders of revolts." (vol. iii. p. 302.)

The tragedy of "LURIA" is supposed to be enacted at some period of the fifteenth century; being an episode in the historical struggle between Florence and Pisa. It occupies one day; and the five acts correspond respectively to its "Morning," "Noon," "Afternoon," "Evening," and "Night." The day is that of a long-expected encounter which is to end the war. The Florentine troops are commanded by the Moorish mercenary Luria. He is encamped between the two cities; and with, or near him, are his Moorish friend and confidant Husain; Puccio--the officer whom he has superseded; Braccio--Commissary of the Republic; his secretary Jacopo, or Lapo; and a noble Florentine lady, Domizia.


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