Lucinda Elliot

The Classic Robber Novels: Rinaldo Rinaldini Part Two


41ZYpCCMnoL._AA160_ Rinaldo in pub Rinaldo looking posh Rinaldo recliningRinaldo decides to flee the Old Man Of Fronteja, and departs for a tiny island, where he leads a humble existence, living in the house of ‘An Old Woman’ (hardly old by our standards, as her youngest daughter is five).

Here he intends to spend his days in peace and repentance, but by a rather wild co-incidence, here he meets again The Countess, who it may be remembered had fled Rinaldo and her castle after their last reunion.

She tells him that she did so through the threats of the Skeleton Toting brigands, and having heard Rinaldo praying, decides, ‘Surely you are now become a good man…If heaven has decided to receive you into favour,how can I reject you?’ So, she forgives the Dreadful Chief of Bandits, and they plan to spend the rest of their days together in peace and tranquility.

During this time, we finally are given an account of how Rinaldo became a bandit. He came as he said, from a poor family and was a goat herd, but fell under the influence of ‘A Hermit’ who encouraged him to read accounts of heroics and left him a small sum of money when he disappeared. We are never told in so many words that this is the same person as the Old Man of Fronteja, but it obviously is. It is not explained, either, why Rinaldo fails to recognise him as this early mentor when he turns up on his life again. However, it is even possible he does; we are only given occasional insight into the workings of Rinaldo’s mind; whether this reflects an eighteenth century lack of introspection or a fairly subtle use of mystery in portraying the character is anyone’s guess.

Rinaldo enlisted as a soldier, but having been guilty of subordination, was ”broken’ and took revenge by stabbing his superior officer.

I had always assumed that this horrible punishment was intended to be inevitably fatal,but perhaps he had only one limb broken. Anyway, he is very agile, so seems to have made a full recovery.

After this, he became a bandit, and for sure he has shown military flair in the way he organises the movements of his troops, the discipline, etc.

Then – naturally – the Old Man of Fronteja turns up again, and so does the incomprehensible Olympia. The Old Man protests that he has fallen under suspicion by Rinaldo’s old followers of having killed hm and he asks him to clear him of this suspicion, pointing out that he once saved Rinaldo’s life (possibly by far magic on the occasion when Rinaldo wanted to kill himself and held a pistol to his own head,but his arm was struck down).

Rinaldo and the Countess decide to evade him, but then the island is invaded by troops. Rinaldo decides to fight it out with them, but is distracted by seeing his old friend the Prince and his daughter, Rinaldo’s old love Aurelia in a nearby villa (this incredible co-incidence is never explained).

The troops come to take Rinaldo, the Old Man of Fronteja rushes in and stabs him, assuring him that he will save him the disgrace of execution as a bandit: ‘You ought to have been a hero, and became a robber. You wold not forsake the course you had pursued, and your tutor could not behold you upon the scaffold.’

Rinaldo falls onto a couch next to Aurelia, who swoons.

However, the spirit of the ever faithful Rosalia has appeared to Rinaldo earlier, and pressed something against his chest which seems to work to ensure that Rinaldo survives this attack.

After this, he and The Old Man of Fronteja stand trial and are banished. Oddly enough, they go off to France, ironically, in view of the slight matter of their opposition to French rule in Corsica – and as best friends.

I don’t see why the Old Man of Fronteja was so confident that Rinaldo hadn’t given up being a bandit,but there we are. We never hear which – if any – of is lady loves Rinaldo invites to share his exile or what becomes of the Countess, Aurelia, Ludovico, Olympia, or others.

Rinaldo later, as an elderly man, takes part in the American War of Independence against ‘The Tyrant George the Third’ and settles there ‘in the peaceful enjoyment of rural life’.

Hmm. A strangely unsatisfactory conclusion to the story.It’s meant to be very moral, but I didn’t find it so, particularly, unless the moral is that ‘If you are a Gung Ho type, Please Become a Hero not a Bandit.’ I make no comment on the astounding hypocrisy of the sexual behaviour of Rinaldo, except to say that when two of his women friends become pregnant – both of the poor woman later miscarry – he is astounded…Slap round head.

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