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Waters and woods and cloud-capt promontories,
This house was ANDREA DORIA's.823 Here he lived ; 821
He left it for a better; and 't is now
'T is in the heart of GENOA (he who comes,
Thou art now
Thine was a glorious course ; but couldst thou there
drew envy, stirring up The ambitious man, 32 that in a perilous hour Fell from the plank.
War is a game at which all are sure to lose, sooner or later, play they how they will ; yet every nation has delighted in war, and none more, in their day, than the little republic of GENOA, whose galleys, while she had any, were always burning and sinking those of the Pisans, the Venetians, the Greeks, or the Turks; Christian and Infidel alike to her.
But experience, when dearly bought, is seldom thrown away altogether. A moment of sober reflection came at last; and, after a victory the most splendid and ruinous of any in her annals, she resolved from that day and forever to live at peace with all mankind; having in her long career
acquired nothing but glory and a tax on every article of life.
Peace came, but with none of its blessings. No stir in the harbor, no merchandise in the mart or on the quay; no song as the shuttle was thrown or the ploughshare broke the furrow. The frenzy had left a languor more alarming than itself. Yet the burden must be borne, the taxes be gathered ; and, year after year, they lay like a curse on the land, the prospect on every side growing darker and darker, till an old man entered the senate-house on his crutches, and all was changed.
Marco GRIFFONI was the last of an ancient family, a family of royal merchants; and the richest citizen in GENOA, perhaps in Europe. His parents dying while yet he lay in the cradle, his wealth had accumulated from the year of his birth; and so noble a use did he make of it when he arrived at manhood, that wherever he went he was followed by the blessings of the people. He would often say, “I hold it only in trust for others ;” but GENOA was then at her old amusement, and the work grew on his hands. Strong as he was, the evil he had to struggle with was stronger than he. His cheerfulness, his alacrity, left him; and, having lifted up his voice for peace, he withdrew at once from the sphere of life he had moved in — to become, as it were,
another man. From that time, and for full fifty years, he was to be seen sitting, like one of the founders of his house, at his desk among his money-bags, in a narrow street near the Porto Franco; and he, who in a famine had filled the granaries of the state, sending to Sicily, and even to Egypt, now lived only as for his heirs, though there were none to inherit; giving no longer to any, but lending to all — to the rich
on their bonds and the poor on their pledges; lending at the highest rate, and exacting with the utmost rigor. No longer relieving the miserable, he sought only to enrich himself by their misery; and there he sate in his gown of frieze, till every finger was pointed at him in passing, and every tongue exclaimed, “There sits the miser!
But in that character, and amidst all that obloquy, he was still the same as ever, still acting to the best of his judgment for the good of his fellow-citizens; and when the measure of their calamities was full, — when peace but had come to no purpose, and the lesson, as he flattered himself, was graven deep in their minds,— then, but not till then, though his hair had long grown gray, he threw off the mask and gave up all he had, to annihilate at a blow his great and cruel adversaries, 323 those taxes which, when excessive, break the hearts of the people; a glorious achievement for an individual, though a bloodless one, and such as only can be conceived possible in a small community like theirs.
Alas! how little did he know of human nature ! How little had he reflected on the ruling passion of his countrymen, so injurious to others, and at length so fatal to themselves! Almost instantly they grew arrogant and quarrelsome; almost instantly they were in arms again; and, before the statue was up that had been voted to his memory, every tax, if we may believe the historian, was laid on as before to awaken vain regrets and wise resolutions.