James Fenimore Cooper Society Website
This page is: http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/susan/susan-bravo.html

Introductions to Novels by James Fenimore Cooper

by Susan Fenimore Cooper

The Bravo (1831)

Return to Susan Fenimore Cooper

Introductions to novels by her father, with significant biographic and literary information, were written by Susan Fenimore Cooper as prefaces to excerpts from 25 Cooper novels in Pages and Pictures from the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper, with Notes by Susan Fenimore Cooper (New York: W.A. Townsend and Co., 1861). She also wrote introductions to 15 (not all the same) novels published between 1876-1884 as the Household Edition of the Works of J. Fenimore Cooper (New York and Cambridge: Houghton, Mifflin and Co. [Hurd and Mifflin]).
These introductions are collected for the first time on the Cooper Society Website. Lengthy quotations have been reproduced in indented form, but retaining the quotation marks of the original, and their sources have been indicated in [square brackets].

Topics Covered: Travel from Rome to Venice; sightseeing in Venice [quotation]; tyranny of the Venetian Republic inspired The Bravo; Cooper had not read "Monk" Lewis' The Bravo of Venice; false claim by a Frenchman to friendship with Cooper (and forged letters) shortly after Cooper's death; Gelsomina based in part on Cooper nursemaid in Sorrento.

Pages and Pictures, pp. 241-252

Contents: THE BRAVO -- Journey from Rome -- The Adriatic -- Venice -- Literary forgery -- Gelsomina -- The well of the Casa Tasso -- Extract, The death of Antonio

[241] IT was during the choice days of an Italian spring, when the country was in all the luxuriant freshness of its beautiful vegetation, that the American author left Rome, after the winter passed there. "The first stopping-place was Cività Castellana; a town which, like Sorrento, has a natural ditch, formed by the crevices of the volcanic rock. * * * A bridge carried us over the Tiber, and we began to ascend the Apennines. We breakfasted on their aide, at a hamlet, and leaving the horses to bait, I walked ahead. It was a solitary, wild mountain road, though perfectly good; and I soon fell in company with a party of pilgrims on their return from Rome. These men carried the staves and scrips, and wore a species of light cloak, with the capes covered with scallop-shells. They were conversable, and any thing but solemn or wayworn. They had been attending some of the recent ceremonies at Rome. Passing through vineyards, olive-trees, and fruit-trees, we reached the little city of Terni, prettily placed on the river Nera, in the centre of a very fertile region. The falls are more than a league from the town, as we found to our cost, for we made the mistake of undertaking to walk to them. These celebrated falls are artificial, having been made by the Romans some centuries before Christ, by turning the course of a pretty little stream. They are reputed the finest waterfalls in Europe -- a quarter of the world that, with [242] many cascades, has few fine cataracts. There is a "method in the madness" of these falls, however, which I think slightly impairs their beauty, though very beautiful they are. Between Terni and Spoleto we had another reach of mountains and mountain scenery. There are Roman remains at the latter town, which is prettily placed on a rocky and irregular hill, thought to be an extinct crater. A long aqueduct, called Roman in the books, has gothic arches. There is also a high bridge across a valley, leading to a hermitage; a proof of what religious feeling can effect, even when ill-directed. There is a poetry, notwithstanding, about these hermitages, which makes them pleasing objects to a traveller. I may have seen, first and last, a hundred of them in Europe. Very few are now tenanted. Those of Italy are generally the finest in position. The valley beyond Spoleto was very beautiful. On one side there is a côte, as the French term it, and houses and churches were clinging to its sides, almost buried in fruit-trees. While trotting alone; pleasantly, beneath this teeming hill-side, we came to a small brick edifice, standing near the highway, while meadows were spreading themselves on our left, more like a country north than south of the Alps. This is the temple of the Clitumnus, standing near the sources of that classical stream; it is now a Christian chapel. You would be surprised to find these temples so small. This is the twentieth I have seen, not much larger than a good-sized maize crib of a Yankee farmer. The workmanship of this is neat, but plain; though its marbles may have shared the fate of so many despoiled amphitheatres, theatres, forums, and temples, found all over Italy. It is with these ruins as with our departed friends; me never truly prize them until they are irretrievably lost. Beyond Foligno the road was beautiful, carrying us over a spur of the Apennines called the Col Fiorito. It had at first a sort of camera-lucide wildness about it -- a boldness that was quite striking, though in miniature after the Alps; and as the day drew toward a close, we rolled, by a gradual and almost imperceptible descent, into a lovely region, affluent in towns, villas, hamlets, and all other appliances of civilized life. This was the March of Ancona. The fine country continued next day; the Adriatic becoming visible, a silvery belt on the horizon, distant some eight or ten leagues. All the towns in this region appear to be built on isolated hills, that once admitted of being strongly fortified. About three in the afternoon we came to the foot of another ridge, running at right angles to the coast of the Adriatic, from which it might be distant about a league. The ascent was long, but not difficult. Having overcome it, we reached a village of a single long street, terminated by a pretty good square, and a large church, with other ecclesiastical edifices, tolerably spacious even for the States of the Church. These were the village and shrine of Loretto. * * * The history of this shrine, as it is given in books sold on the [285] spot, is as follows: The house, of course, is asserted to have been built in Nazareth, where the Saviour was reared. In 1291, angels raised it from its foundations, and transported it to Dalmatia. There it remained four or five years, when angels again transferred it to Italy. It was first placed in a wood near Reconati, on the land of a lady named Lauretta, whence the present name of Loretto. The road to it being much infested by robbers, the angels again removed it a short distance, leaving it on the property of two brothers. These brothers quarrelled and fought about the profits of the pilgrims, who began to frequent the shrine in throngs, and both were killed; whereupon the house was finally removed to its present site. What is one to think of such a history? Do they who promulgate it believe it themselves; or is it a mere fiction invented to deceive? Can it be true? Certainly it might, as well as that this earth could be created, and continue to roll in its orbit. Is it true? That is far more than I should affirm, or even believe, supported by such incomplete proofs, accompanied with circumstances of so little dignity, and facts so little worthy of the display of Divine power. Do the people themselves, who frequent the shrine, believe it? Of that I should think there could be little doubt, as respects the majority, I cannot express to you the feelings with which I saw my fellow-creatures kneeling at this shrine, and manifesting every sign of a devout reliance on the truth of this extraordinary legend. The Santa Casa, or the shrine, stands near the centre of the church erected around it as an honorable canopy. The house has been cased externally with Carrara marble, wrought beautifully, after designs of Bramanti. The image of the Virgin, which is separated from those within the house by a grating, is said to be made of the cedar of Lebanon, and it wears a triple crown. It is gorgeously attired, bears a figure of the Child in one arm, and has the bronzed, mysterious countenance that is common to find about all the more renowned images of Mary. I cannot discover how far the Church of Rome, at this day, attaches importance to belief in the history of the Santa Casa. So far as I can discover, intelligent Catholics, especially those out of Italy, wish to overlook this shrine. Certainly I should say that the more enlightened Catholics, even here, regard the whole account with distrust; for he who really believes that God had made such a manifestation of His will, could scarcely hesitate about worshipping at the shrine, if he worshipped at all, since the building would not have been transferred by a miracle without a motive. It is fair, then, to suppose that few among the intelligent now put any faith in the tradition; for it is certain, few of that class continuo to make pilgrimages to the spot. The time will probably come when shrine and legend will be abandoned together." [James Fenimore Cooper, Gleanings in Europe: Italy [1838] (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981), Letter XXVII, pp. 257-260; Letter XXVIII, pp. 261-266]

At Ancona the American traveller first stood on the shores of the Adriatic. [244] His sailor's instincts hurried him as usual to the port. Such, indeed, was ever his habit while travelling, especially after having been shut up for a time in some inland situation -- his friends often smiling at the almost boyish eagerness with which be enjoyed the odor of rope, pitch, and tar, and the lively interest with which he would examine two or three rusty-looking craft, in some insignificant harbor. "The port of Ancona is formed by the bluff, against the side of which the town is principally built, aided by a mole of considerable extent. A part of this mole is very ancient, for there is an arch on it raised in honor of Trajan. Another arch farther advanced, shows that the Popes have greatly added to the work. The harbor is pretty safe, but it appears to want water. Here we first stood on the shores of the Adriatic. The color of this sea is less beautiful than that of the Mediterranean; its waters having a stronger resemblance to those of our own coast than to those of the neighboring sea. * * * On leaving Ancona, next morning, we commenced a journey of some twenty or thirty leagues along the coast, within a mile or two of the Adriatic, and with constant views of the sea. The first stage was to Sinigaglia, a pretty little town, with a sort of port; for all the places along this shore have some pretensions to be considered seaports, although the coast is a low, sandy beach, almost without points, or bays, or headlands; a small creek has usually sufficed to commence a harbor, and by means of excavations, and perhaps a small mole at the outlet, to prevent the accumulation of sands by the south winds, the thing has usually been effected. We saw the remains of a considerable castle near La Cattolica. It was rather a striking structure of the sort for Italy; this country not being at all remarkable for buildings of that nature. One reads of moated castles among the Apennines in Mrs. Radcliffe's novels; but I have not yet seen an edifice in all Italy that would at all justify her descriptions. Such things may be, but none have lain in my path. With the exception of Castel Guelfo, near Modena, and the regular forts and citadels, I do not remember to have seen a moated building in the country. Some of the castles on the heights are gloriously picturesque, it is true, that of Ischia being a striking example. But, on the whole, I should say few parts of Europe have so little embellishment in this way as Italy. Most of the fortresses of the middle ages, in this part of the world, were made out of the ruins of Roman works. Walking ahead of the carriage this morning, we amused ourselves for several hours on the beach; the children gathering shells on the shores of the Adriatic. The scenery improved as we advanced, the mountains drawing nearer to the coast, and the foreground becoming undulating and verdant. We had the sea always on our right, and seized every good occasion for strolling on the banks." [Gleanings in Europe: Italy, Letter XXVIII, pp. 267-269]

After a brief pause at Bologna, and another at Ferrara, the American traveller [245] moved eastward toward Venice: "I cannot say that the villas on the Brente at all equalled my expectation. The monotony of a country as level as Holland, and the landscape gardening that is confined to flowers, and allees, and exotics, compare ill with the broader beauties of the Hudson, or the high finish of the lawns on the Thames. The road and river showed signs of a crowded population, and we were amused in that way, but scarcely in raptures with the sylvan charms of the scenery. A part of our road, however, ran athwart a common. At this point, looking across the bay on our right, a town appeared rising above the water, singularly resembling New York, as seen from the low lands near Powles' Hook. The presence of domes, and the absence of shipping, told of the difference, however. I need scarcely add, the town was Venice -- the water, the intervening lagoons. We were soon afloat. Venice has recently been declared a free port; a line of wooden posts, with painted tops, encircles the whole town, perhaps a mile from the islands. After a pull of an hour, the boat entered a broad canal, lined with palaces and noble houses. Passing through this, we came to another, which seemed to be the main artery, smaller lateral canals communicating with it, at short distances. Across the lesser canals we could see, among dark ravines of houses, numberless narrow bridges trodden by foot-passengers. Over the larger channel, which was the Grand Canal, there was but one; this was of stone, covered with low buildings; its length was great; its single arch was high and pointed, though not Gothic. As we glided beneath it, vessels that might contend with the Adriatic appeared beyond, the water gradually widening. The bridge was the Rialto, the water the Canal Grande, and the opening beyond the port. We disembarked at the Leone Bianco. We were in the centre of a [246] civilization entirely novel. On entering the inn we found ourselves in a large paved hall, only a step or two above the water, and in the corner lay a gondola. From the windows we saw boats gliding about in all directions, but no noise was heard beyond the plash of an oar -- no sound of wheel or hoof rattling over pavement. The fall of a rope in the water might be heard a considerable distance. Every thing was strange -- though a sailor, and accustomed to water, I had never seen a city afloat. It was now evening; but a fine moon was shedding its light on the scene, rendering; it fairy-like. C----- and myself quitted the inn, for he told me there was something he wished me to see before I slept. Instead of taking a boat, we passed into the rear of the inn, and found ourselves in a street. I had believed until then that Venice had no streets. On the contrary, the whole town is intersected in this way; the bridges over the smaller canals serving as communication between these streets, which, however, are usually only eight or ten feet wide, That we followed was lined with shops, and it seemed a great thoroughfare. Its width varied from tell to twenty feet. Following this passage, in itself a novelty, we inclined a little to the right, passed beneath an arch, and issued into the great Square of St. Mark. No other scene in a town ever struck me with so much surprise and pleasure. Three sides of this large area were surrounded by palaces, with arcades; on the fourth stood a low ancient church, of an architecture so quaint -- having oriental domes, and external ornaments so peculiar -- that I felt as if transported to a scene in the Arabian Nights. The moon, with its mild delusive light, aided the deception, the forms rising beneath it still more fanciful and quaint. You will know, at once, this was the Church of St. Mark. Another area communicates with the first, extending from it, at right angles, to the bay. Two sides only of this square, which is called the Piazzetta, were built on; the side next the Piazza, or Great Square, and that toward the sea, being open. On one of the other sides of this area the line of palaces was continued, and on the other rose the celebrated Ducal residence. This was, if possible, still more oriental and quaint than the church, transferring the mind at once to the events of the East, and to the days of Venetian greatness and power. On every side were objects of interest. The two large columns near the sea were trophies of one conquest; the ranges of little columns on the church were trophies of a hundred more; the great stairway, at which we looked through an arch, were the 'Giant's Stairs,' and the openings in the walls above them the Lions' Mouths! This huge tower is the Campanile, which has stood there a thousand years rooted in mud; and those spars let into the pavement, in front of the church, are the very same on which the conquered standards of Cyprus, and Candia, and the Morea, were wont to flap. The noble group of horses in bronze, [247] above the great door, is the group restored at last to its resting-place of centuries. Passing the front of the palace of the Doge, facing the sea, by an area that lines its noble exterior -- which is the celebrated Broglio, where none but the noble once walked, and where intrigues were formerly so rife -- we came to the bridge which spans the canal that girts the rear of church and palace. The covered gallery, thrown across this canal, at the height of a story or two above the ground, connecting the palace with the prisons opposite, was the Bridge of Sighs! By the side of the water-gate beneath were the submarine dungeons, and I had only to look toward the roof to imagine the position of the Piombi. Then there was the port, lighted by a soft moon, and dotted with vessels of quaint rigs, with the sea-breeze fanning the cheek -- the distant Lido beyond -- and dark, hearse-like gondolas, gliding in every direction. Certainly no other place ever struck my imagination so forcibly; and never before did I experience so much pleasure, from novel objects, in so short a time. * * * I have set up my own gondola, and we have been regularly at work looking at sights for the last week. We have visited half the churches picture-hunting; and a queer thing it is to draw up to a noble portico in your gondola, to land, and find yourself in one of the noblest edifices of Europe! The sea-breezes fan the shrine, and sometimes the spray and surf are leaping about them, as if they were rooks on a strand. St. Mark's is as quaint internally as its exterior. It is an odd jumble of magnificence, and of tastes that are almost barbarous. The imitation mosaics, in particular, are something like what one might expect to see at the court of the Incas. The pavement of this church is undulating, like low waves -- a sort of sleeping groundswell. C----- thinks it intentional, by way of marine poetry, to denote the habits of the people; but I fancy it is more probably poetical justice, a reward for not driving home the piles. The effect is odd, for you almost fancy you are afloat, as you walk over the undulating surface. * * * Titian, Tintoretto, and Paul Veronese, are seen only in Venice; good pictures of the first are certainly found elsewhere, but here you find him in a blaze of glory. You know the French carried away every work of art they could. They even attempted to remove fresco paintings-- a desecration that merited the overthrow of their power. One great picture in Venice, however, escaped them; it stood in a dark chapel, so completely covered with dust and smoke that no one attended to it. Within a few years, however, some artist had the curiosity to examine into the subject of this unknown altar-piece. The picture was taken down, and being thoroughly cleaned, it proved to be one of the most gorgeous Titians extant. Some think it his chef-d'oeuvre. The subject is the Assumption, which he has treated in a manner very different from that of Murillo, all of whose virgins are in white, [248] while this of Titian's is red. The picture is now kept in the Academy, and imitations of it are seen on half the ornamental manufactures of Venice. All the painters who create, or revive their art, commence with the head, which they paint well long before they call draw the form at all. The works of the old masters exhibit heavenly countenances on spiders' legs, as any one knows who has ever seen a picture of Geotto. A picture here by John of Bellino, the master of Titian, has much of this about it; but it is a gem. I liked it better than any thing I saw, one fresco painting excepted. Some of the carvings in the churches, in high relief surpass any thing of the sort I have ever seen; and, in general, there is an affluence of ornaments and of works of merit that renders these edifices second to few besides those of Rome. A monument by Canova, designed for Titian, has received a new destination, by being erected in honor of the sculptor himself; it is an extraordinary work, quite unique. Besides the main group, there are detached figures, standing several feet aloof; and the effect of this work, which is beautifully chiselled out of spotless marble, beneath the gloomy arches of the church, is singularly dramatic and startling. One is afraid to commend the conceit, and yet it is impossible not to admire the result. Still I think the admirable thought of Nahl renders his humble Swiss tomb the sublimest thing of the kind in Europe." [Gleanings in Europe: Italy, Letter XXIX, pp. 276-278; Letter XXX, pp. 279-281; Letter XXXI, pp. 282-284]

The mind of the American author was very deeply impressed with these views of Venice -- that very Nereid among earth's gorgeous capitals, whose whole existence for long ages has been a brilliant marvel; most picturesque among municipalities; most poetical among the daughters of commerce; most thrifty, most politic among the daughters of art; most oriental among the children of Christian Europe; most stately, most beautiful, most elegant, among the proud daughters of the sea; most gay and gorgeous, most heartless, most tyrannical Queen among earth's crowning cities. Here was just the material to attract the imagination of one who was both seaman and poet at heart. For weeks the traveller went gliding [249] along the noiseless canals, in the easy gondola -- reminding him in form and lightness, as he tells us, of the Indian canoe of bark; now stepping from the graceful and shadowy skiff into the portal of some sacred pile, and now leaping from the boat into the aquatic hall of some old palace, all marble to the eye, between water and sky. Until now he had had but a vague general idea of the history of Venice -- of the spirit of her government. The first glow of enchantment, excited by the outward aspect of the beautiful city, had scarcely passed away, when he became very curious with regard to the details of the political history of that singular government. He procured several of the principal works on this subject, and read them with lively interest. An insight into the interior working of that political system filled him with indignation. Its heartless trifling with the most sacred rights of individuals, where these came in the remotest degree into conflict with the one great object -- the aggrandisement of the power of San Marco -- excited his horror. The singular blending of admiration for the outward aspect of the marvellous city, and indignation against the tyranny of the political system which for ages lived a life of crime in the secret chambers of its councils, soon led him to form the idea of writing a work in which views of both, as distinct and just as his pen could draw them, should be given to the reader. The tale called "The Bravo" was the result of this attempt -- a romance especially political in its character, and among the very first, it is believed, of books of that class, since then become quite numerous. The task the author had allotted himself was thoroughly carried out; a fearful picture of the heartless cruelty of the Venetian oligarchy, in its secret workings, is laid before the reader -- and yet it is a picture which, in no particular, surpasses, in the darkness of its coloring, what history has revealed on the same subject. It was the opinion of Mr. Cooper that an aristocracy must, from its very nature, be a dangerous form of government; as a general rule, he believed a prolonged aristocracy more likely to prove coldly selfish, tyrannical, and treacherous, than either a monarchy or a democracy. And this danger he believed to flow from its irresponsible character, united to the great strength to which such a form of government may attain by the concentration of talent, wealth, legislative and executive power, within a circle sufficiently narrow for the most decisive action, while, like all corporate bodies, it is lacking in the restraints of individual responsibility. Even in an absolute monarchy, he held that there would be greater hope, during an evil hour, from change of counsel, and from the responsibility inevitably connected with a single head. While, fearful as he knew the latent power for evil to be in a democracy, he believed it to he ever tempered by that latent power for good, flowing, in an educated Christian community, from its higher principles of natural justice and truth -- which, in a system allowing full [250] freedom of action, may at any moment, by constitutional means, be rendered more or less available. Such were his views on these subjects -- views adopted early in life, and to which he always adhered. Venice appeared to him altogether the most striking picture of an oligarchy which Christendom has ever seen, and he endeavored to give the reader a sketch of the system as strong and as just as his pen could draw it.

"The Bravo" was written in Paris, after the author's return from Germany, and was published in America in the summer of 1831, by Messrs. Carey & Lea. In Europe the book was much liked, particularly in France and Germany; the distinctions it draws between a nominal republic, and the higher principle of a free Christian government, were considered just; while the power, the pathetic incidents of the narrative, the pure moral tone, and the beautiful poetical spirit pervading the whole work, were greatly admired. In America, on the contrary, the book was pronounced a decided failure, and was very generally decried. The author was repeatedly accused by his countrymen of having closely copied the novel of Lewis, bearing the title of "The Bravo of Venice," and also of imitating a drama taken from that romance, and called "Abellino." These criticisms and accusations may be scarcely remembered to-day, but it will be well, perhaps, simply to assert the fact that before writing this tale of Venice, Mr. Cooper had never read a line of either work -- the romance of Lewis, or the drama referred to. "The Bravo" was as entirely original with him, in its general conception and in its details, as "The Prairie," or "The Pioneers."

"The Bravo" is connected with one of the most audacious and most extraordinary attempts at a literary forgery to be found on record. Mr. Fenimore Cooper had lain but a few weeks in his grave, in the parish church-yard of the little village which was his home, when there appeared in Paris, in a French periodical, a very flattering notice of his works, purporting to be written by an intimate personal friend, and openly bearing the signature of a literary man of some local reputation. Allusion was made to the years passed by the American author in France, and the writer, declaring himself to have been on terms of the closest intimacy with him, deplored in his death the decease of a friend -- one who for years had been a constant companion -- one who was in the habit of going almost daily with him to this café and that theatre. But it was not only a friend whom the French littérateur had lost; he had also been deprived of a constant correspondent -- one whose letters filled his portfolio; a few of these letters he now lays before the public; a volume of them should shortly be published. While travelling in Italy, these letters had been particularly interesting. At Venice, however, where Mr. Cooper wrote his celebrated romance of "The Bravo," the littérateur was so for[251]tunate as to have been his constant companion -- having visited with him the spot marked for the death of Antonio, the jailer's dwelling in which Gelsomina had lived, and the Piombi, where the wretched father of Jacopo had died. Remarks made by Mr. Cooper on these occasions were given -- extracts from several letters of his were printed. Would it have been thought possible that such an article, from the very first to the very last line, in so far as Mr. Fenimore Cooper was concerned, was a most daring fabrication? It was falsehood throughout. Cooper had no French friend bearing the name of this writer. It is probable that he never wrote one line to that person. It is very doubtful if that individual ever crossed his threshold. The cafés alluded to Mr. Cooper never frequented; rarely, indeed, did he go to a theatre. The only gentlemen who accompanied him to the prisons of Venice chanced to be Americans; he had, on those occasions, no European companion whatever. A brief denial of this most flagrant falsehood was published at the time, by the family of Mr. Cooper; allusion to it in these pages was scarcely needed, excepting as showing the audacity to which similar attempts may be carried.

The reader may remember the jailer's daughter, with the sweet Italian name of Gelsomina -- one of the most delicately drawn of all the author's female characters -- a creature to whom the imagination unconsciously gives one of those lovely Italian countenances painted by Raphael. The name was a real one, and possibly something in the general character may have been drawn from life. While the American family were living on the cliffs of Sorrento, a young peasant girl of the neighborhood became one of the household -- half nurse, half play-fellow to the children of the party. She bore the sweet name of Gelsomina. Simple and child-like, yet singularly faithful to duty, Gelsomina was soon in high favor with great and small, and, in charge of the young flock, made one of every family party in the little excursions about the bay. On these occasions she was always in gay costume: a light blue silken jacket, garnished with gold lace; a flowery chintz skirt; her dark hair well garnished with long golden pins and bodkins; while a gold chain of manifold strands encircled her throat, and drops long and heavy hung from her ears. It chanced one afternoon that, after playing with her young charge among the orange groves of the garden, Gelsomina went for a draught of water, to the well in the court -- that picturesque marble well. There, while bending over the curbstone, and drawing up the bucket, like Zara of Moorish fame, she dropped one of the long, heavy ear-rings into the water. Great was the lamentation of the simple creature! Warm was the sympathy of the household! The ear-rings, like most of the jewelry of the Italian peasants, were as much an heir-loom -- a family treasure as the diamonds of a Duchess. [294] But the well was very deep; the jewel was irretrievably lost. Gelsomina's tears, like those of Moorish Zara, fell on the marble curbstone in vain:

"The well is deep -- far down they lie, beneath the cold blue water!
My ear-rings! my ear-rings! oh! luckless, luckless well!"

The warm-hearted and faithful Gelsomina would gladly have followed her American friends to the northward; but there was a portly aunt, stately and dignified as a Roman matron, who would not trust her so far away from the orange groves of Sorrento. When the hour of parting came, she received from her mistress a fine pair of new ear-rings, as a reward for her simple fidelity; and tears of gratitude and of sorrow fell upon the trinkets, as she kissed the hand of the giver. Something of the simplicity, innocence, and fidelity of this young creature would seem to have been given, with her name, to the jailer's daughter, in "The Bravo."

Excerpt: "The Death of Antonio" [James Fenimore Cooper, The Bravo [1831] (New York: W.A. Townsend and Co., 1859), Chapter 15 {misnumbered XVI in this edition}, pp. 218-233]

Return to Top of Page