The last letters of Jacopo Ortiz
The action begins in October 1789, ends in March 1799 and unfolds mainly in the north of Italy, in the vicinity of Venice. The narrative is a letter from the main character, Jacopo Ortiz, to his friend Lorenzo, as well as the memoirs of Lorenzo about Jacopo.
In October 1797, an agreement was signed between Napoleonic France and Austria, according to which Bonaparte conceded Venice to the Austrians, and received Belgium and the Ionian Islands. This treaty erased the hopes of the Venetians for the liberation of their homeland from Austrian domination, hopes that were initially associated with the Emperor of France, who embodied in the eyes of the Italians the Great French Revolution. Many of the young Venetians fighting for freedom turned out to be included in the proscription lists by the Austrian authorities and are doomed to exile. Forced to leave his hometown and Jacopo Ortiz, left in Venice, his mother and left for a modest family estate in the Euganean mountains. In letters to a friend, Lorenzo Alderani, he mourns the tragic fate of his homeland and the younger generation of Italians, for whom there is no future in their native country.
The solitude of the young man was shared only by his faithful servant Michele. But soon the loneliness of Jacopo was disturbed by the visit of a neighbor, Signor T., who lived in his estate with his daughters – fair-haired beauty Teresa and four-year-old baby Isabella. Jacopo, exhausted by his soul, found solace in conversations with an intelligent, educated neighbor, in games with the little girl, in a tender friendship with Teresa. Very soon the young man realized that he loved Theresa whole-heartedly. Jacopo also met with a friend of the family, Odardo, serious, positive, well-read, but completely alien to the subtle emotional experiences and did not share the lofty political ideals of Jacopo. During the walk to Arkua, to the house of Petrarch, the excited Theresa suddenly confided to Jacopo her secret – her father betrayed her to marry Odardo. The girl does not love him, but they are ruined; because of his political views, his father was compromised in the eyes of the authorities; marriage with a wealthy, intelligent, trustworthy person, according to his father, will ensure the future of his daughter and strengthen the position of the family. Mother Teresa, who regretted her daughter and dared to protest her husband, was forced to
leave for Padua after a fierce quarrel.
Confession Theresa shocked Jacopo, made him cruelly suffer and deprived of that ghostly peace that he found far from Venice. He succumbed to the persuasion of his mother and went to Padua, where he intended to continue his education at the university. But university science seemed to him dry and useless; he was disappointed in books and told Lorenzo to sell his huge library, which remained in Venice. Secular society Padua rejected Jacopo: he ridiculed the empty chatter salons, openly called scoundrels scoundrels and did not succumb to the charms of cold beauties.
In January Ortiz returned to the Euganean mountains. Odardoo left on business, and Jacopo continued to visit the T. family. Only when he saw Theresa did he feel that life had not yet left him. He was looking for meetings with her and at the same time was afraid of them. One day, reading Stern, Jacopo was struck by the similarity of the story told in the novel, with the fate of the young Laurette, which was once known to both friends – after the death of her lover she lost her mind. Combining the translation of the part of the novel with the true story of Lauretta, Jacopo wanted to let Teresa read this, so that she could understand how painful unrequited love she was, but she did not dare to embarrass the girl’s soul. And soon Lorenzo told a friend that Laurette had died in suffering. Lauretta became for Jacopo a symbol of true love.
But the young man happened to see something else – in Signor T. he met a girl who was once loved by one of his now deceased friend. She was married according to the calculation for a well-meaning aristocrat. Now she struck Jacopo with her empty chatter about bonnets and frank helplessness.
Once on a walk, Jacopo could not stand it and kissed Theresa. The shocked girl escaped, and the young man felt himself on top of bliss. However, the imminent return of Odardo was approaching, and from Theresa Jacopo he heard fatal words: “I will never be yours.”
Odardoo returned, and Jacopo completely lost his composure, emaciated, turned pale. Like mad, he wandered through the fields, was tormented and sobbed unconsciously. The meeting with Odoardo ended in a violent quarrel, the reason for which was the pro-Austrian views of Odardo. Signor T., who loved and understood Jacopo, began to guess his feelings for Teresa. Worrying about the illness of the young man, he nevertheless told Teresa that Ortiz’s love could push the T.’s family into the abyss. Preparations for the wedding have already begun, and Jacopo has fallen into a fit of severe fever.
Ortiz considered himself guilty of having destroyed Teresa’s peace of mind. As soon as he got to his feet, he went on a trip to Italy. He visited Ferrara, Bologna, Florence, where, looking at the monuments of the great past of Italy, he bitterly reflected on its present and future, comparing great ancestors and pathetic descendants.
An important stage in the journey of Jacopo was Milan, where he met with Giuseppe Parini, a famous Italian poet. Ortiz poured out the old poet’s soul and found in him a like-minded person who also did not accept the conformism and pettiness of Italian society. Parini prophetically predicted Ortiz tragic lot.
Jacopo intended to continue his wanderings in France, but stopped in a small town in the Ligurian Alps, where he collided with a young Italian, a former lieutenant of the Napoleonic troops, once with a weapon in his hands fought against the Austrians. Now he was in exile, in poverty, unable to feed his wife and daughter. Jacopo gave him all the money; The sad fate of the lieutenant, doomed to humiliation, again reminded him of the vanity of existence and the inevitability of the collapse of hopes. Arriving to Nice, Ortiz decided to return to Italy: someone informed him the news, which Lorenzo preferred to keep quiet, – Theresa is already married to Odardo. “In the past – repentance, in the present – longing, in the future – fear” – so now life appeared to Ortiz. Before returning to the Euganean mountains, he drove to Ravenna to bow to the grave of Dante.
Returning to the estate, Jacopo only caught a glimpse of Teresa, accompanied by her husband and father. Deep mental anguish pushed Jacopo into insane deeds. He was riding at night in the fields and once accidentally knocked down a horse to death of a peasant. The boy did his best so that the unfortunate family would not need anything.
Yakopo had enough strength to pay another visit to the family of T. He talked about the upcoming trip and said that they would not see for a long time. Father and Teresa felt that this was not just a farewell before leaving.
A story about the last week of life of Jacopo Ortiz was collected by bit by Lorenzo Alderani, including fragments of records found in Jacopo’s room after his death. Jacopo confessed to the purposelessness of his own existence, in his spiritual emptiness and deep despair. According to the servant Michele, most of the written on the eve of death, his master burned. Gathering his last strength, the young man went to Venice, where he met Lorenzo and his mother, who convinced him that he was returning to Padua, and then would continue his journey. In his hometown, Jacopo visited Lauretta’s grave. After spending only one day in Padua, he returned to the estate.
Lorenzo drove to a friend, hoping to persuade him to go to travel together, but saw that Ortiz was not happy with him. Jacopo was just going to signor T. Lorenzo did not dare leave a friend alone and went with him. They met with Theresa, but the meeting was in hard silence, but little Isabella suddenly burst into tears and no one could reassure her. Then Lorenzo learned that by this time Jacopo had already prepared farewell letters: one to friend, the other to Theresa.
Michele, who slept in the next room, it seemed at night that moans were coming from the master’s bedroom. However, recently Ortiz was often tormented by nightmares, and the servant did not go to Jacopo. In the morning, the door had to be broken – Jacopo was lying on the bed, drenched in blood. He thrust his dagger into his chest, trying to get into the heart. The unfortunate man had enough strength to pull out his weapon, and the blood flowed from the vast wound with a river. The young man was dying, but still breathing. The doctor was not at home, and Michele rushed to signor T. Terese, having heard about the misfortune, fainted, fell to the ground. Her father rushed to Ortiz’s house, where he took the last breath of Jacopo, whom he always loved as a son. On the sheet of paper thrown on the table, you could read “dear mother…” and on the other – “Theresa is not to blame for anything…”
From Padua, Lorenzo was summoned, Jacopo in a farewell letter asked a friend to do funerals. Theresa spent all these days in complete silence, immersed in deep mourning. Yakopo Ortiz was buried in a modest grave at the foot of a hill in the Euganean mountains.