« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
traordinary advice; which the other obstinately refusing, Lioni ordered him to be seized, and confined ; and, send
l ing for some of his friends of the senate, by means of promises and threats, they at length prevailed on the prisoner to discover the whole of this horrid mystery.
They send for the avogadors, the council of ten, and other high officers, by whom the prisoner was examined ; after which, orders were given for seizing the principal conspirators in their houses, and for summoning those of the nobility and citizens, on whose fidelity the council could rely. These measures could not be taken so secretly as not to alarm many, who found means to make their escape. A considerable number were arrested, among whom were two chiefs of the conspiracy under the doge. They being put to the question, confessed the whole. It appeared, that only a select body of the principal men had been privy to the real design; great numbers had been desired to be prepared with arms, at a particular hour, when they would be employed in attacking certain enemies of the state, which were not named ; they were desired to keep those orders a perfect secret, and were told, that upon their fidelity and secrecy their future for, tunes depended. Those men did not know of each other, and had no suspicion that it was not a lawful enterprise for which they were thus engaged; they were therefore set at liberty ; but all the chiefs of the plot gave the fullest evidence against the doge. It was proved, that the whole scheme had been formed by his direction, and supported by his influence. After the principal conspirators were tried, and executed, the council of ten next proceeded to the trial of the doge himself. They desired that twenty senators, of the highest reputation, might assist upon this solemn occasion, and that two relations
; of the Falliero family, one of whom was a member of the council of ten, and the o:her an avogador, might withdraw from the court.
The doge, who hitherto had remained under a guard in his own apartments in the palace, was now brought be,
fore this tribunal of his own subjects. He was dressed in the robes of his office.
It is thought he intended to have denied the charge, and attempted a defence; but when he perceived the number and nature of the proofs against him, overwhelmed by their force, he acknowledged his guilt, with many fruitless and abject entreaties for mercy.
That a man, of eighty years of age, should lose all firmness on such an occasion, is not marvellous ; that he should have been incited, by a trifling offence, to such an inhuman, and such a deliberate plan of wickedness, is without example.
He was sentenced to lose his head. The sentence was executed in the place where the doges are usually crowned.
In the great chamber of the palace, where the portraits of the doges are placed, there is a vacant space between the portraits of Falliero's immediate predecessor and successor, with this inscription.
Locus Marini Pallieri decapitati. The only other instance which history presents to our contemplation, of a sovereign tried according to the forms of law, and condemned to death by a tribunal of his own subjects, is that of Charles I of Great Britain. But how differently are we affected by a review of the two cases !
In the one, the original errors of the misguided prince are forgotten in the severity of his fate, and in the calm majestic firmness with which he bore it. Those who, from public spirit, had opposed the unconstitutional measures of his government, were no more; and the men now in power were actuated by far different principles. All the passions of humanity, therefore, take part with the royal sufferer; nothing but the ungenerous spirit of party can seduce them to the side of his enemies. In his trial we behold, with a mixture of pity and indignation, the unhappy monarch delivered up to the malice of hy
pocrites, the rage of fanatics, and the insolence of a lowborn law ruffian.
In the other, every sentiment of compassion is effaced by horror at the enormity of the crime.
In the year 1361, after the death of the doge John Delfino, when the last electors were confined in the ducal chamber to choose his successor, and while the election vibrated between three candidates, a report arrived at Venice, that Laurentius Celsus, who commanded the fleet, had obtained a complete victory over the Genoese, who were at that time at war with the Venetians. This intelligence was communicated to the electors, who immediately dropped all the three candidates, and unanimously chose this commander. Soon after it was found, that the rumour of the victory was entirely groundless. This could not affect the validity of the election ; but it produced a decree to prevent, on future occasions of the same kind, all communication between the people without, and the conclave of electors.
This doge's father displayed a singular instance of weakness and vanity, which some of the historians have thought worth transmitting to us. I do not know for what reason, unless it be to comfort posterity with the reflection, that human folly is much the same in all ages, and that their ancestors have not been a great deal wiser than themselves. This old gentleman thought it beneath the dignity of a father to pull off his cap to his own son ; and that he might not seem to condescend so far, even when all the other nobles shewed this mark of respect to their sovereign, he went, from the moment of his son's election, upon all occasions, and in all weathers, with his head uncovered. The doge being solicitous for his father's health, and finding that no persuasion nor explanation of the matter, that could be given, were sufficient to overcome this obstinacy, recollected that he was as devout as he was vain, which suggested an expedient that had the desired effect. He placed a cross on the front of
his ducal coronet. The old man was as desirous to testify his respect to the cross, as he was averse to pay obei. sance to his son ; and unable to devise any way of pulling off a cap which he never wore, his piety, at length, got the better of his pride: he resumed his cap, as formerly, that, as often as his son appeared, he might pull it off in honour of the cross.
During the reign of Laurentius Celsus, the celebrated poet Petrarch, who resided for some time at Venice, and was pleased with the manners of the people, and the wise dom of their government, made a present to the republic, of his collection of books; which, at that time, was reckoned very valuable.
This was the foundation of the great library of St. Mark.
In perusing the annals of Venice, we continually meet with new institutions. No sooner is any incoveniency perceived, than measures are taken to remove it, or guard against its effects. About this time, three new magistrates were appointed, whose duty is to prevent all ostentatious luxuries in dress, equipage, and other expensive superfluities, and to prosecute those who transgress the sumptuary laws, which comprehend such objects. Those magistrates are called Sopra Proveditori alle Pompé ; they were allowed a discretionary power of levying fines, from people of certain professions, who deal entirely in articles of luxury. Of this number, that of public courtesans was reckoned. This profession, according to all accounts, formerly flourished at Venice, with a degree of splendour unknown in any other capital of Europe; and very considerable exactions were raised to the use of the state, at particular times, from the wealthiest of those dealers. This excise, it would appear, has been pushed beyond what the trade could bear; for it is at present in a state of wretchedness and decay; the best of the business, as is said, being now carried on, for mere pleasure, by people who do not avow themselves of the profession.
Venice. No government was ever more punctual, and impartial, than that of Venice, in the execution of the laws. This was thought essential to the well-being, and very existence of the state. For this, all respect for individuals, all private considerations whatever, and every compunctious feeling of the heart, is sacrificed. To execute law with all the rigour of justice, is considered as the chief virtue of a judge; and, as there are cases in which the sternest may relent, the Venetian government has taken care to appoint certain magistrates, whose whole business is to see that others perform their duty upon all occasions.
All this is very fine in the abstract, but we often find it detestable in the application.
In the year 1400, while Antonio Venier was doge, lis son having committed an offence which evidently sprung from mere youthful levity, and nothing worse, was condemned in a fine of one hundred ducats, and to be imprisoned for a certain time.
While the young man was in prison, he fell sick, and petitioned to be removed to a purer air. The doge rejected the petition; declaring, that the sentence must be executed literally ; and that his son must take the fortune of others in the same predicament. The youth was much beloved, and many applications were made, that the sentence might be softened, on account of the danger which threatened him. The father was inexorable, and the son died in prison. Of whatever refined substance this man's heart may have been composed, I am better pleased that mine is made of the common materials.
Carlo Zeno was accused, by the council of ten, of having received a sum of money from Francis Carraro, son of the seignior of Padua, contrary to an express law, which forbids all subjects of Venice, on any pretext whatever, accepting any salary, pension, or gratification, from a foreign prince or state. This accusation was grounded