« AnteriorContinuar »
visit. I at first affected not to know him, and without the least compunction of gratitude for his former favours intended not to receive him, till a thought immediately suggesting itself to me how I might convert him to my advantage, I pretended to recollect him; and, blaming the shortness of my memory and badness of my eyes, I sprung forward and embraced him with great affection.
'My design was to betray him to Apsimar, who, I doubted not, would generously reward such a service. I therefore very earnestly requested him to spend the whole evening with me; to which he consented. I formed an excuse for leaving him a few minutes, and ran away to the palace to acquaint Apsimar with the guest whom I had then in my cell. He presently ordered a guard to go with me and seize him: but whether the length of my stay gave him any suspicion, or whether he changed his purpose after my departure, I know not; for at my return we found he had given us the slip; nor could we with the most diligent search discover him.
'Apsimar, being disappointed of his prey, now raged at me: at first denouncing the most dreadful vengeance if I did not produce the deposed monarch. However, by soothing his passion when at the highest, and afterwards by canting and flattery, I made a shift to escape his fury.
'When Justinian was restored I very confidently went to wish him joy of his restoration: but it seems he had unfortunately heard of my treachery, so that he at first received me coldly, and afterwards upbraided me openly with what I had done. I persevered stoutly in denying it, as I knew no evidence could be produced against me; till, finding him irreconcilable, I betook myself to reviling him in my sermons, and on every other occasion, as an enemy to the church, and good men, and as an infidel, an heretic, an atheist, a heathen, and an Arian. This I did immediately on his return, and before he gave those flagrant proofs of his inhumanity which afterwards sufficiently verified all I had said.
* Luckily, I died on the same day when a great number of those forces which Justinian had sent against the Thracian Bosphorus, and who had executed such unheard-of cruelties there, perished. As everyone of these was cast into the bottomless pit, Minos was so tired with condemnation, that he proclaimed that all present, who had not been concerned in that bloody expedition, might, if they pleased, return to the other world. I took him at his word, and, presently turning about, began my journey.'
Julian passes into the character of a Fiddler.
'Rome was now the seat of my nativity. My mother 'was an African, a woman of no great beauty, but a 'favourite, I suppose from her piety, to pope Gregory 'II. Who was my father, I know not: but I believe 'no very considerable man: for after the death of that 'pope, who was, out of his religion, a very good friend • of my mother, we fell into great distress, and were 'at length reduced to walk the streets of Rome; nor 'had either of us any other support but a fiddle, on 'which I played with pretty tolerable skill: for as my 'genius turned naturally to music, so I had been in
VOL. IV. D D
my youth very early instructed at the expense of the good pope. This afforded us but a very poor livelihood: for though I had often a numerous crowd of hearers, few ever thought themselves obliged to contribute the smallest pittance to the poor starving wretch who had given them pleasure. Nay, some of the graver sort, after an hour's attention to my music, have gone away shaking their heads, and crying, it was a shame such vagabonds were suffered to stay in the city.
'To say the truth, I am confident the fiddle wonld not have kept us alive, had we entirely depended on the generosity of my hearers. My mother therefore was forced to use her own industry; and while I was soothing the ears of the crowd, she applied to their pockets, and that generally with such good success, that we now began to enjoy a very comfortable subsistence; and indeed, had we had the least prudence or forecast, might have soon acquired enough to enable us to quit this dangerous and dishonourable way of life: but I know not what is the reason, that money got with labour and safety is constantly preserved, while the produce of danger and ease is commonly spent as easily, and often as wickedly, as acquired. Thus we proportioned our expenses rather by what we had than what we wanted, or even desired; and on obtaining a considerable booty, we have even forced nature into the most profligate extravagance; and have been wicked without inclination.
'We carried on this method of thievery for a long time without detection: but as Fortune generally leaves persons of extraordinary ingenuity in the lurch at last; so did she us: for my poor mother was taken in the fact, and, together with myself, as her accomplice, hurried before a magistrate.
'Luckily for us, the person who was to be our judge, was the greatest lover of music in the whole city, and had often sent for me to play to him, for which, as he had given me very small rewards, perhaps his gratitude now moved him: but, whatever was his motive, he browbeat the informers against us, and treated their evidence with so little favour, that their mouths were soon stopped, and we dismissed with honour; acquitted, I should rather have said: for we were not suffered to depart, till I had given the judge several tunes on the fiddle.
'We escaped the better on this occasion, because the person robbed happened to be a poet; which gave the judge, who was a facetious person, many opportunities of jesting. He said, poets and musicians should agree together, seeing they had married sisters; which he afterwards explained to be the sister arts. And when the piece of gold was produced he burst into a loud laugh, and said it must be the golden age, when poets had gold in their pockets, and in that age, there could be no robbers. He made many more jests of the same kind, but a small taste will suffice.
'It is a common saying that men should take warning by any signal delivery; but I cannot approve the justice of it: for to me it seems that the acquittal of a guilty person should rather inspire him with confidence, and it had this effect on us: for we now laughed at the law, and despised its punishments, which we found were to be escaped even against positive evidence. We imagined the late example was rather a warning to the accuser than the criminal, and accordingly proceeded in the most impudent and flagitious manner.
'Among other robberies, one night being admitted 'by the servants into the house of an opulent priest, my mother took an opportunity, whilst the servants were dancing to my tunes, to convey away a silver vessel; this she did without the least sacrilegious intention: but it seems the cup, which was a pretty large one, was dedicated to holy uses, and only borrowed by the priest on an entertainment which he made for some of his brethren. We were immediately pursued upon this robbery (the cup being taken in our possession), and carried before the same magistrate, who had before behaved to us with so much gentleness; but his countenance was now changed; for the moment the priest appeared against us, his severity was as remarkable as his candour had been before, and we were both ordered to be stript and whipt through the streets.
'This sentence was executed with great severity, the priest himself attending and encouraging the executioner, which he said he did for the good of our souls: but though our backs were both flea'd, neither my mother's torments nor my own afflicted me so much, as the indignity offered to my poor fiddle, which was carried in triumph before me, and treated with a contempt by the multitude, intimating a great scom for the science I had the honour to profess; which, as it is one of the noblest inventions of men, and as I had been always in the highest degree proud of my excellence in it, I suffered so much from the ill-treatment my fiddle received, that I would have given all my remainder of skin to have preserved it from this affront.
'My mother survived the whipping a very short time; and I was now reduced to great distress and misery, till a young Roman of considerable rank took a fancy to me, received me into his family, and conversed with me in the utmost familiarity. He had a violent