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Ostracism established at Athens, which had a similar foundation. In a large state, or in a less popular form of government, the same dangers from civil commotions cannot be apprehended; similar precautions for preyenting them are therefore superfluous; but, notwithstanding every apology that can be made, I am at a loss to account for the existence of this terrible tribunal for so long a time in the Venetian republic, because all ranks seem to have an interest in its destruction; and I do not see on what principle any one man, or any set of men, should wish for its preservation. It cannot be the doge, for the state inquisitors keep him in absolute bondage; nor would one naturally imagine that the nobles would relish this court, for the nobles are more exposed to the jealousy of the state inquisitors than the citizens, or inferior people; and least of all ought the citizens to support a tribunal, to which none of them can ever be admitted. As, however, the body of the nobility alone can remove this tribunal from being part of the constitution, and yet, we find, they have always supported it; we must conclude, that a junto of that body which has sufficient influence to command a majority of their brethren, has always retained the power in their own hands, and found means of having the majority, at least of the council of ten, chosen from their own members ; so that this arbitrary court is, perhaps, always composed, by a kind of rotation, of the individuals of a junto. But if the possibility of this is denied, because of the precaution used in the form of electing by ballot, the only other way I can account for a tribunal of such a nature being permitted to exist, is, by supposing that a majority of the Venetian nobles have so great a relish for unlimited power, that, to have a chance of enjoying it for a short period, they are willing to bear all the miseries of slavery for the rest of their lives.
The encouragement given by this government to anonymous accusers, and secret informations, is attended with consequences which greatly outweigh any benefit
that can arise from them. They must destroy mutual confidence, and promote suspicions and jealousies among neighbours; and, while they render all ranks of men fearful, they encourage them to be malicious. The laws ought to be able to protect every man who openly and boldly accuses another.
If any set of men, in a state, are so powerful, that it is dangerous for an individual to charge them with their crimes openly, there must be a weakness in that government which requires a speedy remedy; but let not that be a remedy worse than the disease.
It is no proof of the boasted wisdom of this government, that, in the use of the torture, it imitates many European states, whose judicial regulations it has avoided where they seem far less censurable. The practice of forcing confession, and procuring evidence by this means, always appeared to me a complication of cruelty and absurdity. To make a man suffer more than the pains of death, that you may discover whether he deserves death, or not, is a manner of distributing justice which I cannot reconcile to my idea of equity.
If it is the intention of the legislature, that every crime shall be expiated by the sufferings of somebody, and is regardless whether this expiation is made by the agonies of an innocent person, or a guilty, then there is no more to be said ; but, if the intention be to discover the truth, this horrid device of the torture will very often fail ; for nineteen people out of twenty will declare whatever they imagine will soonest put an end to their sufferings, whether it be truth or falsehood.
Although many important events have happened since the establishment of the state inquisition, which have greatly affected the power, riches, and extent of dominion of this republic, yet the nature of the government has re,
mained much the same. In what I have to add, therefore, I shall be very short and general.
I have already observed, that it was the usual policy of this republic to maintain a neutrality, as long as possible, in all the wars which took place among her neighbours ; and when obliged, contrary to her inclinations, to declare for either party, she generally joined with that state whose distant situation rendered its power and prosperity the least dangerous of the two to Venice.
This republic seems, however, to have too much neglected to form defensive alliances with other states, and by the continual jealousy she shewed of them, joined to her immense riches, at last became the object of the hatred and envy of all the powers in Europe. This universe al jealousy was roused, and brought into action, in the year 1508, by the intriguing genius of Pope Julius II. A confederacy was secretly entered into at Cambray, between Julius, the emperor Maximilian, Lewis XII, and Ferdinand of Arragon, against the republic of Venice. A bare enumeration of the powers which composed this league, gives a very high idea of the importance of the state against which it was formed.
The duke of Savoy, the duke of Farrara, and the duke of Mantua, acceded to this confederacy, and gave in claims to part of the dominions of Venice. It was not difficult to form pretensions to the best part of the dominions of a state, which originally possessed nothing but a few marshy islands at the bottom of the Aridatic Gulf. It was the general opinion of Europe, that the league of Cambray would reduce Venice to her original possessions.
The Venetians, finding themselves deprived of all hopes of foreign assistance, sought support from their own courage, and resolved to meet the danger which threatened them, with the spirit of a brave and independent people.
Their general, Count Alviano, led an army against Lewis, who, being prepared before the other confederates, had already entered Italy. However great the magnanimity
of the senate, and the skill of their general, the soldiery were by no means equal to the disciplined troops of France, led by a martial nobility, and headed by a gallant monarch. The army of Alviano was defeated; new enemies poured on the republic from all sides; and she lost, in one campaign, all the territories in Italy which she had been ages in acquiring
Venice now found that she could no longer depend on her own strength and resources, and endeavoured to break, by policy, a combination which she had not force to resist. The Venetian senate, knowing that Julius was the soul of the confederacy, offered to deliver up the towns he claimed, and made every other submission that could gratify the pride, and avert the anger, of that ambitious pontiff; they also find means to separate Ferdinand from the alliance. Lewis and Maximilian being now their only enemies, the Venetians are able to sustain the war, till Julius, bearing no longer any resentment against the republic, and seized with remorse at beholding his native country ravaged by French and German armies, unites with Venice to drive the invaders out of Italy; and this republic is saved, with the loss of a small part of her Italian dominions, from a ruin which all Europe had considered as inevitable. The long and expensive wars between the different powers of Europe, in which this state was obliged to take part, prove that her strength and resources were not exhausted.
In the year 1570, the Venetians were forced into a ruinous war with the Ottoman empire, at a time when the senate, sensible of the great need they stood in of repose, had, with much address and policy, kept clear of the quarrels which agitated the rest of Europe. But Solymon II, upon the most frivolous pretext, demanded from them the island of Cyprus.
It was evident to all the world, that he had no better foundation for this claim, than a strong desire, supported by a sufficient power, of conquering the island. This
kind of right might not be thought complete in a court of equity; but, in the jurisprudence of monarchs, it has always been found preferable to every other.
The Turks make a descent, with a great army, on Cyprus ; they invest Famagousta, the capital; the garrison defends it with the most obstinate bravery ; the Turks are repulsed in repeated assaults; many thousands of them are slain ; but the ranks are constantly supplied by rein. forcements. Antonio Bragadino, the commander, having displayed proofs of the highest military skill, and the most heroic courage, his garrison being quite exhausted with fatigue, and greatly reduced in point of numbers, is obliged to capitulate.
The terms were, that the garrison should march out with their arms, baggage, and three pieces of cannon, and should be transported to Candia in Turkish vessels; that the citizens should not be pillaged, but allowed to retire with their effects.
Mustapha, the Turkish bashaw, no sooner had possession of the place, than he delivered it up to be pillaged by the Janisaries; the garrison were put in chains, and made slaves on board the Turkish galleys. The principal officers were beheaded, and the gallant Bragadino was tied to a pillar, and, in the bashaw's presence, flayed alive.
We meet with events in the annals of mankind, that make us doubt the truth of the most authentic history. We cannot believe that such actions have ever been committed by the inhabitants of this globe, and by creatures of the same species with ourselves. We are tempted to think we are perusing the records of hell, whose inhabita ants, according to the most authentic accounts, derive a constant pleasure from the tortures of each other, as well as of all foreigners.
The conquest of the island of Cyprus is said to have cost the Turks fifty thousand lives. At this time, not Venice only, but all Christendom, had reason to dread the progress
of the Turkish arms. The state of Venice soli.