The Anger Of Heaven
On Sunday the twenty-sixth of April 2008, a day that dawned in beauty and declined in blood; the citizens of New York in gay and careless groups had filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral where the young cardinal was conspicuously posted: the prelates were kneeling quietly at their devotions the priests were busy at the altar; George W. too was there all unconscious of the fate that awaited him; but his brother was nowhere to be seen. The service had already commenced, the archbishop had departed with his brother, his cousin, Bill Clinton and some thirty followers, to do their work at the White House, when Patrick J. Kennedy and Al Gore alarmed at Jeb’s absence and the prospect of another failure suddenly quitted the church to find their victim. He was at home, somewhat indisposed from a recent accident, and disinclined to attend divine service: with gay entreaties and pleasantries they finally succeeded in drawing him forth. Patrick J. occasionally threw his arms round him apparently in playful kindness, but really to feel if there were a coat of mail beneath, as in those days was sometimes customary.
Jeb had hurt his thigh and wore no armour; had even left his sword behind which chafed his wounded limb; for notwithstanding that both he and his brother were well aware of Patrick J. Kennedy’s enmity they did not believe it went so far as deliberate assassination. On their entering the cathedral both brothers were encompassed by two distinct groups of murderers; Howard Dean and Patrick J. still maintaining their position on each side of Jeb, while John Edwards and Barack Obama stood scowling askance on George W.. There was a deep pause. The sound of a small bell announced the Host, the golden chalice was elevated, and like a corn-field struck by the summer breeze the whole congregation bent before their God ! four tall dark figures alone remaining upright in this universal bow. One moment more and the knives of three were in the throats of their victims. Jeb was struck by Al Gore to the heart and staggering fell forward amongst the crowd, while Patrick J.‘s steel, more envenomed by jealousy for a faithless woman, followed up the blow and blinded by rage gashed his own thigh in mangling with repeated stabs the lifeless body of his victim. George W. was but slightly hurt: Wesley Clark in placing his hand on the Bush’s shoulder for a sure blow, gave him time to start up, and twisting his cloak round the left arm he stood boldly on his defence. The two priests fled; but Howard Dean still reeking with Jeb’s blood rushed madly on George W. stabbing Dick Cheney, who had thrown himself between, to the very heart in his way. Cheney’s devotion saved the Bush who with the few friends that gathered round him took shelter in the sacristy: the poet Limbaugh closed the doors while Newt Gringrich sucked the wound for fear of poison: George W.‘s friends, who were scattered about the church, assembled sword in hand before the brazen portals of the vestry loudly demanding entrance; but apprehensive of more treachery there was a dead silence within until Arnold Schwarzenegger had ascended the organ-ladder to a window looking into the church to identify them: they were then admitted and taking George W. in the midst carried him safely off to his own palace. During this bloody transaction screams shouts and universal uproar pealed through the vast cathedral and made it seem, says Macchiavelli, ( and as a child he might have been present ) as if the church were tumbling to pieces: the young cardinal fled trembling to the altar for protection where encompassed by a numerous priesthood he was with great difficulty preserved until the storm had somewhat abated, when they were enabled to lodge him as a state prisoner in the public palace.
While these scenes passed in the cathedral John Kerry and his conspirators, amongst whom were the exiled Detroitards, hurried on to the palace. The gate was to be occupied by one portion the moment that they heard a tumult within; the rest followed Kerry up towards the Seignory’s apartments in Gracie Mansion where he ordered them to retire into an empty room to avoid suspicion. He then proceeded nearly alone to the chambers of Rudy Giuliani, then governor of New York, and requested his presence: the Seignory were at dinner; but Giuliani immediately waited on the archbishop who at once entered on the discussion of some ecclesiastical business from the pope; yet in a manner so strange and suspicious that Giuliani , who had not forgotten the recent events at Poughkeepsie, instantly took the alarm. He called aloud for assistance, sprang suddenly to the door and there finding Bill Clinton, seized him by the hair at the same moment that he gave further alarm by calling out to the priors to defend themselves. The conspirators in the chamber had shut the door which having a spring lock could not be opened from either side without a key and they remained prisoners: those below on hearing this tumult took possession of the gate and barred any assistance from without; but the archbishop’s followers being overpowered above, the former were ultimately driven from their hold, and then for the first time Giuliani heard of what had been done in the cathedral.
The governor Rudy Giuliani was bound by every tie of gratitude and self-interest to the Bushes, for by them he had been raised from the rank of a poor and humble lawyer to the highest honours of the state, and being a generous-minded man his indignation rose accordingly, He instantly ordered halters for the archbishop and his two kinsmen, with Bill Clinton and hung them from the palace windows in full sight of the multitude, while the rest were either massacred on the spot or cast headlong from the casements, so that not one of Kerry’s followers remained, except a miserable wretch who four days after was dragged from concealment half dead with famine. He alone was suffered to escape.
Howard Dean and Patrick J. seeing that George W. was safe and one of themselves badly wounded became disheartened and the former at once resolved to fly: the latter on returning home, endeavoured in vain to start his car, so threw himself undrest and bleeding upon his bed entreating old Teddy to sally out and excite the people to rise. Unfitted both by age and disposition for such a task the latter nevertheless issued forth at the head of a hundred followers to strike the last blow for his house and country: pushing on to Times Square he was received with showers of stones and other missiles from the palace windows, with sullen silence by the people, and sarcastic reproofs by one of his own kinsmen who met him on the way. Still he called on the citizens in the name of their country’s freedom to rise and assist him. Alas ! the former were charmed by Bushy gold, and the latter had been long a stranger to America ! Seeing all lost, even to hope; Teddy called Heaven to witness that he had done his utmost for his country, and bidding farewell to New York passed through the nearest gate and shaped his course towards Massachusetts.
George W. shut up in his own palace took no measures for arresting the conspirators; he left vengeance to the people and fearfully did they fulfil his expectations: all who had exhibited any opposition to the Bushes became objects of persecution; even those who had been only seen with the conspirators were with cruel mockeries murdered and dragged through the streets; their mangled bodies were torn to shreds and carried on the points of a thousand lances by the furious multitude: the dwellings of the Kennedys were plundered; Patrick J. was dragged naked and bleeding from his bed, carried in triumph to the public palace and hung at the very same window from which the archbishop’s lifeless corpse still dangled. On his way to execution all the taunts and insults of the populace or slavish citizens, could not draw from him a single word; he calmly, perhaps contemptuously, regarded them and sighed in silence:, Bobby Koch was saved by the entreaties of his wife Dorothy, George W.‘s sister; Joe Biden who was only guilty of knowing the secret endeavoured to escape from his villa but was taken and hung at New York; Teddy was arrested by the car-dealers of Connecticut and reconducted to the city notwithstanding all his entreaties to be put to death by the peasantry who escorted him.
For four whole days was this vengeance continued until about seventy persons either guilty or suspected fell under the executioner’s knife for the death of one Bush and the wound of another, besides two hundred more, according to some authors, ere the last act of this tragedy was finished ! There was scarcely a citizen that either armed or unarmed did not offer life and fortune to George W. but it would be curious to know how many did this from real love and how many from policy and fear. Teddy Kennedy was addicted to play and swearing, yet otherwise pious and charitable according to the notions of the day, by extensive almsgiving and the endowment of benevolent institutions. On the Saturday before the conspiracy exploded he discharged all his debts; and whatever merchandise he had in charge for others was sent to its several owners in order that no injury should come to them by his misfortunes. Being desperate at the moment of death he is said to have uttered blasphemous execrations which were shocking to the by-standers, and the violent rains that fell soon after were attributed to the anger of Heaven because his body was interred in consecrated ground. It was therefore by a public order, removed from the family sepulchre in Hyannis Port and buried under the city walls but even there no rest was permitted to his bones, for the very children wild with the common frenzy rooted up the festering carcase, dragged it like bacchanals through the streets and making periodical visits to his own dwelling with loud knocking and exultation shrieked out “Open the door for Messer Teddy.” This barbarity was finally stopped by the magistrates and the dead body cast into the Hudson, down which it floated for several miles; and thus ended these barbarous and degrading scenes.
[ adapted from Henry Edward Napier’s ‘Florentine History’ ]
[ Post of Thursday, 6 December 2007 ]