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palace received his ill-fated bride, the Archduchess Jane of Austria, whose life was one continued scene of wounded pride and jealousy, occasioned by the publicly displayed preference of her husband to the fair but frail Bianca Capello. Cosimo, too, though advanced in years, was not insensible to the tender passion; for he yielded his affections to Eleonore de Albizzi, a young and beautiful girl, descended from one of the most ancient families in Florence. His attachment to this young person alarmed the Regent, his son, who, fearful that he might marry her, and forgetful of his own more culpable conduct with Bianca Capello, became the censor of his father. He employed his valet, Sforza Almeni, to become a spy on the Grand Duke, and even remonstrated with him on the subject; which occasioned Cosimo to give way to so ungovernable a rage that, in this palace, he plunged his sword in the breast of Almeni, and some say, was even disposed to use violence towards his son. By this mistress he had a child, named Don John, on whom he settled a considerable fortune; and having given a large dowry to the mother, he bestowed her hand in marriage on Carlo Panciatichi.
Shortly after this period Cosimo formed a liaison with Camilla Martelli, daughter of a Florentine gentleman of ruined fortune, but of high birth. Some scruples of a conscientious nature led him to consult the Pope Pius V., who exhorted him to atone for the sin he had committed, by marrying the object of his attachment. This marriage was privately celebrated in the Pitti Palace, in presence of the relatives of the lady, and a few confidential favourites of the Grand Duke. To conciliate the Regent, and his proud wife, Cosimo declared that Camilla should never have the treatment, nor the title of Grand Duchess. Shortly after the celebration of the marriage, he retired from the Court with his bride, and an infant daughter, born previously to their nuptials, and took up his residence in the country.
This ill-assorted marriage, however it might have satisfied his conscientious scruples, destroyed the peace of his old age ; for Camilla, vain, ambitious, and turbulent, was at no pains to conceal from him that her attachment had been founded only on ambitious motives. Disappointed in not having been acknowledged Grand Duchess, she treated him with even more than indifference, with marked dislike. Her neglect of his personal comfort, when reduced by repeated attacks of gout and apoplexy to nearly a state of helplessness, induced the Regent to have him removed to Florence. Here, in this palace, having lost not only the use of his limbs, but his speech, he lingered for a few months, making the walls echo with the sighs and groans wrung from him by the recollection of the past, and the dread of the future; for he retained his senses to the last.
It was probably this example of the ill-assorted union of Cosimo that led to the subsequent and more disgraceful conduct of Francisco. How often have these apartments witnessed the revels of Bianca Capello, and her infatuated lover! and the anguish, rage, and jealousy of the Duchess Jane, who, treated with perfect indifference by her husband, and with insolence by his favourite, had neither the art to lead him back to his duty, nor the patience to witness his
breach of it.
30th.-Saw the Countess of Albany to-day. She retains no trace of beauty to justify Alfieri's passion
for her ; but the truth is, poets require not to find loveliness in the objects of their attachment, as they can endow them with an imaginary beauty, more brilliant than reality can often display; and as all are disposed to admire the gifts they confer, poets are generally more devoted to imaginary charms than real ones.
I was told an amusing anecdote to-day, à-propos of the Countess of Albany.
“Who is this lady, about whom people show such an interest ?” asked a female compatriot of mine of an acquaintance of the same sex, and also of the same country.
“Why, is it possible that you do not know? Well, for my part, I thought every one was aware that the Countess of Albany, as they call her, is the widow of King Charles I., and the lady with whom the celebrated Ariosto the poet was so long, and so desperately enamoured.”
It was thus that the Princess of Stolberg, Countess of Albanty, and widow of the exiled James Stuart, was described by a lady who professed to believe that every one knew all about her!
Various are the stories related of the brutality
and grossièrté of James Stuart—this unworthy scion of an unhappy house ; whose conduct to his wife was so abominable, as to compel her to seek the seclusion of a monastery to escape his society. The attachment of Alfieri to this lady continued to his death, and so great was her influence over him, that the sauvagerie of his manners, so much complained of by others, was seldom, if ever, visible in her presence.
The genius of Alfieri hardly redeems the eccentricity of his character, of which innumerable anecdotes are given by his contemporaries. Nor was he at any pains to subdue, or to conceal, the petulance for which he was so remarkable. Haughty, even to insolence, he treated society with a contempt, the display of which indicated a greater degree of courage than of prudence; and betrayed that his bad opinion of it originated more in an undue and overweening self-esteem, than in a just knowledge of that which he contemned. I think there is a great similarity between the characters of Alfieri and Byron. The difference observable in them was created by the influence of their respective countries and habits ; for had Byron been born an inhabitant