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performed but little service to litterature, augmented the veneration which beheld a sacred or moral allegory in all the images of his mystic muse. His birth and his infancy were discovered to have been distinguished above those of ordinary men: the author of the Decameron, his earliest biographer, relates that his mother was warned in a dream of the importance of her pregnancy; and it was found, by others, that at ten years of age he had manifested his precocious passion for that wisdom or theology, which, under the name of Beatrice, had been mistaken for a s!ibstantial mistress. When the Divine Comedy had been recognized as a mere mortal production, and at the distance of two centuries, when criticism and competition had sobered the judgment of Italians, Dante was seriously declared superior to Homer,' and though the preference appeared to some casuists “and heretical blasphemy worthy of the flames," the contest was vigorously maintained for nearly fifty years. In later times it was made a question which of the Lords of Verona could boast of having patronised him, 3 and the jealous scepticism of one writer would not allow Ravenna the undoubted possession of his bones. Even the critical Tiraboschi was inclined to be-lieve that the poet had foreseen and foretold one of the discoveries of Galileo. Like the great originals of other nations, his popularity has not always maintained the same level. The last age seemed inclined to undervalue
I By Varchy in his Ercolano, The controversy continued from 1570 to 1616. See Storia, etc. tom. vii. lib. iii. par. iii. p. 1280.
? Gio. Jacopo Dionisi canonico di Verona. Serie di Anecdoti, n. 2. Seo Storia , etc. tom. v. lib. i. par. p. 24, him as a model and a study; and Bettinelli one day rebuked his pupil Monti, for poring over the harsh, and absolete extravagances of the Commedia. The present generation having recovered from the Gallic idolatries of Cesarotti, has returned to the ancient worship, and the Danteggiare of the northern Italians is thought even indiscreet by the more moderate Tuscans.
There is still much curious information relative to the life and writings of this great poet which has not as yet been collected even by the Italians; but the celebrated Ugo Fosculo meditates to supply this defect, and it is not to be regretted that this national work has been reserved for one so devoted to his country and the cause of truth.
Note 31, page 121, lines 10, 11 and 12:
The elder Scipio Africanus had a tomb if he was not buried at Liternum, whither he had retired to voluntary banishment. This tomb was near the sea-shore, and the story of an inscription upon it, Ingrata. Patria, having given a name to a modern tower, is, if not true, an agreeable fiction. If he was not buried, he cerlainly lived there. I
1 Vitam · Literni egit sine desiderio urbis. See T. Liv. Hist. lib. xxxviii. Livy reports that some said he was buried at Liternum, others at Rome. Ib. cap. LY.
In così ángusta e solitaria villa
Perchè prima col ferro al vivo aprilla. " Ingratitude is generally supposed the vice peculiar to republics; aud it seems to be forgotten that for one instance of popular inconstancy, we have a hundred examples of the fall of courtly favourites. Besides, a people have often repented — a monarch seldom or never. Leaving apart many familiar proofs of this fact, a short story may show the difference between even an aristocracy and the multitmde.
Vettor Pisani, having been defeated in 13.54 at Portolongo, and many years afierwards in the more decisive action of Pola, by the Genoese, was recalled by the Venetian government, and thrown into chains. The Avvogadori proposed to behead him, but the supreme tribunal was content with the sentence of imprisonment. Whilst Pisani was suffering this unmerited disgrace, Chioza, in the vicinity of the capital, 2 was, by the assistance of the Signor of Padua, delivered into the hands of Pietro Doria. At the intelligence of that disaster, the great bell of St. Mark's tower tolled tv arms, and the people and the soldiery of the gallies were summoned to the repulse of the approaching enemy; but they protested they would not move a step, unless Pisani were liberated and placed at their head. The great council was instantly assembled: the prisoner was called before them, and the Doge, Andrea Contarini informed him of the demands of the people and the necessites of
1 Trionfo della Castità. 2 See note 8, page 198.
the state, whose only hope of safety was reposed on his efforts, and who implored him to forget the indignities he had endured in her service. “I have submitted." replied the magnanimous republican, “I have submitted to your deliberations without complaint; I have supported patiently the pains of imprisonment, for they were inflicted at your command: this is no time to inquire whether I deserved them the good of the republic may have seemed to require it, and that which the republic resolves is always resolved wisely. Behold me ready to lay down my life for the preservation of my country." Pisani was appointed generalissimo, and by his exertions, in conjunction with those of Carlo Zeno, the Venetians soon recovered the ascendancy over their maritime rivals.
The Italian communities were no less unjnst to their citizens than the Greek republics. Liberty, both with the one and the other, seems to have been a national, not an individual object : and, notwithstanding the boasted equality before the laws which an ancient Greek writer considered the great distinctive mark between his countrymen and the barbarians, the mutual rights of fellow- citizens seem never to have been the principal scope of the old democracies. The world may have not yet seen an essay by the author of the Italian Republics, in which the distinction between the liberty of former states, and the signification attached to that word by the happier constitution of England, is ingeniously developed. The Italians, however, when they had ceased
I The Greek boasted that he was loovóuos. See the last chapter of the first book of Dionysius of Halicarnassus,
to be free still looked back with a sigh upon those times of turbulence, when every citizen might rise to a share of sovereign power, and have never been taught fully to appreciate the repose of a monarchy. Sperone Speroni, when Francis Maria II. Duke of Rovere, proposed the question, “which was preferable, the republic or the principality - the perfect and not durable, or the less perfect and not so liable to change,” replied, " that our happiness is to be measured by its quality, not by its duration; and that he perfered to live for one day like a man, than for a hundred years like a brute, a stock, or a stone.". This was thought, and called, a magnificent answer, down to the last days of Italian servitude. "
Note 32, page 121, Itnes 15, 16 and 17.
And the crown
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown.
The Florentines did not take the opportunity of Petrarch's short visit to their city in 1350 to revoke the decree which confiscated the property of his father, who had been banished shordly after the exile of Dante. Ilis crown did not dazzle them ; but when in the next year they were in want of his assistance in the forma-' tion of their university, the repented of their injustice, and Boccaccio was sent to Padua to intreat the laureate to conclude his wanderings in the bosom of his native country, where he might finish his immortal Africa,
I E intorno alla magnifica risposta," etc. Serassi Vita del Tasso, lib. iii. pag. 149. tom. ii. edit. 2. Bergamo.