Italian Peasant

A great inundation having taken place in the north of
Italy, owing to an excessive fall of snow in the Alps, followed by a speedy

thaw, the river Adige carried off a bridge near Verona, all except the

middle part, on which was the house of the toll-gatherer, who thus, with

his whole family, remained imprisoned by the waves, and in momentary danger

of destruction. They were discovered from the bank, stretching forth their

hands, screaming, and imploring succour, while fragments of the only

remaining arch were continually dropping into the water. In this extreme

danger, a nobleman who was present, a Count of Pulverino, held out a purse

of a hundred sequins, as a reward to any adventurer who would take a boat

and deliver this unhappy family. But the danger of being borne down by the

rapidity of the current, or of being dashed against a fragment of the

bridge, was so great, that no one in the vast number of spectators had

courage enough to attempt the exploit. A peasant passing along enquired

what was going on, and was informed of the circumstances. Immediately

jumping into a boat, he, by strength of oars, gained the middle of the

river, brought his boat under the pile, and the whole family safely

descended by means of a rope. By a still more strenuous effort, and great

strength of arm, he brought the boat and family to shore. "Brave fellow!"

exclaimed the count, handing the purse to him, "here is your recompense."

"I shall never expose my life for money," answered the peasant; "my labour

is a sufficient livelihood for myself, my wife, and children. Give the

purse to this poor family, who have lost their all."

This incident has been admirably worked up in a German ballad by Buerger

(see the "Song of the Brave Man," in "Popular Ballads.")

Integrity James the First facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail