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(190) Giovanni Buondelmonte was on the point of marrying an Amidei, when a widow of the Donati family made him break his engagement in the manner here described.
The Amidei washed away the affront with his blood, attacking him, says G. Villani, at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, as he was coming leisurely along in his white mantle on his white palfrey; and hence many years of slaughter.
"O Buondelmonte, quanto mal fuggisti
(191) If war is a calamity, what a calamity must be civil war; for how cruel are the circumstances which it gives birth to !
"I had served long in foreign countries," says an old soldier, "and had borne my part in the sack of many a town; but there I had only to deal with strangers; and I shall never-no, never forget what I felt to-day, when a voice in my own language cried out to me for quarter."
(192) The story is Bolognese, and is told by Cherubino Ghiradacci in his history of Bologna. Her lover was of the Guelphic party, her brothers of the Ghibelline; and no sooner was this act of violence made known, than an enmity, hitherto but half-suppressed, broke out into open war. The Great Place was a scene of battle and bloodshed for forty successive days; nor was a reconciliation accomplished till six years afterwards, when the families and their adherents met there once again, and exchanged the kiss of peace before the Cardinal Legate; as the rival families of Florence had already done in the place of S. Maria Novella. Every house on the occasion was hung with tapestry and garlands of flowers.
(193) The Saracens had introduced among them the practice of poisoning their daggers.
(194) It is remarkable that the noblest works of human genius have been produced in times of tumult, when every man was his own master, and all things were open to all. Homer, Dante and Milton, appeared in such times; and we may add Virgil.*
(195) As in those of Cosmo I. and his son Francis. — Sismondi, xvi. 205.
(196) A Sicilian, the inventress of many poisons; the most celebrated of which, from its transparency, was called Acquetta or Acqua Tophana.
(197) The Cardinal, Ferdinand de' Medici, is said to have been preserved in this manner by a ring which he wore on his finger; as also Andrea, the husband of Giovanna, Queen of Naples.
(198) Il Trabocchetto. -See Vocab. degli Accadem. della Crusca. See also Dict. de l'Académie Françoise: art. Oubliettes.
(199) Poggio-Caiano, the favorite villa of Lorenzo; where he often took the diversion of hawking. Pulci sometimes went out with him; though, it seems, with little ardor. See La Caccia col Falcone, where he is described as missing; and as gone into a wood, to rhyme there.
(200) The Morgante Maggiore. He used to recite it at the table of Lorenzo, in the manner of the ancient Rhapsodists.
The Augustan age, as it is called, what was it but a dying blaze of the Commonwealth? When Augustus began to reign, Cicero and Lucretius were dead, Catullus had written his satires against Cæsar, and Horace and Virgil were no longer in their first youth. Horace had served under Brutus ; and Virgil had been pronounced to be
"Magne spes altera Roma."
(201) Bianca Capello.
(202) Caffaggiòlo, the favorite retreat of Cosmo, "the father of his country." Eleonora di Toledo was stabbed there on the 11th of July, 1576, by her husband, Pietro de' Medici; and only five days afterwards, on the 16th of the same month, Isabella de' Medici was strangled by hers, Paolo Giordano Orsini, at his villa of Cerreto. They were at Florence, when they were sent for, each in her turn, - Isabella under the pretext of a hunting-party, -and each in her turn went to die.
Isabella was one of the most beautiful and accomplished women of the age. In the Latin, French and Spanish languages, she spoke not only with fluency, but elegance; and in her own she excelled as an improvisatrice, accompanying herself on the lute. On her arrival at dusk, Paolo presented her with two beautiful greyhounds, that she might make a trial of their speed in the morning; and at supper he was gay beyond measure. When he retired, he sent for her into his apartment; and, pressing her tenderly to his bosom, slipped a cord round her neck. She was buried in Florence with great pomp: but at her burial, says Varchi, the crime divulged itself. Her face was black on the bier.
Eleonora appears to have had a presentiment of her fate. She went when required: but, before she set out, took leave of her son, then a child, weeping long and bitterly over him.
(203) I have here endeavored to describe an Italian sunset as I have often seen it. The conclusion is borrowed from that celebrated passage in Dante, "Era già l'ora," &c.
(204) Originally thus:
But let us hence. For now the sun withdraws,
On, while his absence here invites to sleep,
(205) Before line 1, in the MS.
The sun ascended, and the eastern sky
(206) The Roman and the Carthaginian. Such was the animosity, says Livy, that an earthquake, which turned the course of rivers and overthrew cities and mountains, was felt by none of the combatants. — xxii. 5.
(207) A tradition. It has been called, from time immemorial, Il Sanguinetto.
(208) An allusion to the Cascata delle Marmore, a celebrated fall of the Velino, near Terni.
(209) A sign in our country as old as Shakspeare, and still used in Italy. "Une branche d'arbre, attachée à une maison rustique, nous annonce les moyens de nous rafraichir. Nous y trouvons du lait et des œufs frais; nous voilà contens.". Mém. de Goldini. There is, or was very lately, in Florence a small wine-house with this inscription over the door : "Al buon vino non bisogna frasca." Good wine needs no bush. It was much frequented by Salvator Rosa, who drew a portrait of his hostess.
(210) This upper region, a country of dews and dewy lights, as described by Virgil and
Pliny, and still, I believe, called La Rosa, is full of beautiful scenery. Who does not wish to follow the footsteps of Cicero there, to visit the Reatine Tempe and the Seven Waters?
(211) Perhaps the most beautiful villa of that day was the Villa Madama. It is now a ruin; but enough remains of the plan and the grotesque-work to justify Vasari's account of it.
The Pastor Fido, if not the Aminta, used to be often represented there; and a theatre, such as is here described, was to be seen in the gardens very lately.
(212) A fashion forever reviving in such a climate. In the year 1783, the Nina of Paesiello was performed in a small wood near Caserta.
(213) I Tre Mauri.
(214) What poet before Shakspeare has availed himself of the phenomenon here alluded to, a phenomenon so awful in his hands?
(215) A Milanese story of the 17th century, by Alessandro Manzoni.
(216) See the Hecuba of Euripides, v. 911, &c.
(217) Such was the enthusiasm there at the revival of art, that the discovery of a precious marble was an event for celebration; and, in the instance of the Laocoon, it was recorded on the tomb of the discoverer. "Felici de Fredis, qui ob proprias virtutes, et repertum Laocoöntis divinum quod in Vaticano cernes ferè respirans simulacrum, immortalitatem meruit, A. D. 1528."*
The Laocoon was found in the baths of Titus, and, as we may conclude, in the very same chamber in which it was seen by the elder Pliny. It stood alone there in a niche that is still pointed out to the traveller; † and well might it be hailed by the poets of that day! What a moment for the imagination, when, on the entrance of a torch, it emerged at once from the darkness of so long a night!
There is a letter on the subject, written by Francesco da S. Gallo, in 1567.
"Some statues being discovered in a vineyard near S. Maria Maggiore, the Pope said to a groom of the stables, Tell Giuliano da S. Gallo to go and see them;' and my father, when he received the message, went directly to Michael Angelo Buonarroti, who was always to be found at home (being at that time employed on the Mausoleum), and they set out together on horseback; I, who was yet a child, riding on the crupper behind my father.
"When they arrived there and went down, they exclaimed, 'This is the Laocoon of which Pliny makes mention!' and the opening was enlarged that the marble might be taken out and inspected; and they returned to dinner, discoursing of ancient things."
(218) The street of the tombs in Pompeii may serve to give us some idea of the Via Appia, that Regina Viarum, in its splendor. It is perhaps the most striking vestige of antiquity that remains to us.
(219) And Augustus in his litter, coming at a still slower rate. He was borne along by slaves; and the gentle motion allowed him to read, write and employ himself as in his cabinet. Though Tivoli is only sixteen miles from the city, he was always two nights on the road. Suetonius.
In the Church of Ara Cæli.
The walls and the niche are of a bright vermilion. See Observations on the Colors of the Ancients by Sir Humphrey Davy, with whom I visited this chamber in 1814.
(221) At the words "Tu Marcellus eris." The story is so beautiful that every reader must wish it to be true.
(222) From the golden pillar in the Forum the ways ran to the gates, and from the gates to the extremities of the empire.
(223) It was Caius Gracchus who introduced vehement action and the practice of walking to and fro when they spoke. - Dio. fragm. xxxiv. 90.
(224) The laws of the twelve tables were inscribed on pillars of brass, and placed in the most conspicuous part of the Forum. - Dion. Hal.
(225) "Amplitudo tanta est, ut conspiciatur a Latiario Jove."— C. Plin.
(226) The Rostra.
(227) Marcus Junius Brutus.
(228) We are told that Cæsar passed the Rubicon and overthrew the Commonwealth; out the seeds of destruction were already in the Senate-house, the Forum, and the Camp. When Cæsar fell, was liberty restored?
History, as well as poetry, delights in a hero, and is forever ascribing to one what was the work of many; for, as men, we are flattered by such representations of human greatness; forgetting how often leaders are led, and overlooking the thousand thousand springs of action by which the events of the world are brought to pass.
(229) It was in the Via Sacra that Horace, when musing along as usual, was so cruelly assailed; and how well has he described an animal that preys on its kind! It was there also that Cicero was assailed; but he bore his sufferings with less composure, as well indeed he might; taking refuge in the vestibule of the nearest house. - Ad Att. iv. 3.
(230) An allusion to Cæsar in his Gallic triumph. "Adscendit Capitolium ad lumina," &c.-Suetonius.
(231) In the triumph of Emilus, nothing affected the Roman people like the children of Perseus. Many wept; nor could anything else attract notice till they were gone by. Plutarch.
(232) "Rien ne servit mieux Rome, que le respect qu'elle imprima à la terre. Elle mit d'abord les rois dans le silence, et les rendit comme stupides. Il ne s'agissoit pas du degré de leur puissance; mais leur personne propre étoit attaquée. Risquer une guerre, c'étoit s'exposer à la captivité, à la mort, à l'infamie du triomphe." — Montesquieu.
(234) Jugurtha. (235) Zenobia.
(236) "Spare me, I pray, this indignity," said Perseus to Æmilius. "Make me not a public spectacle; drag me not through your streets."—"What you ask for," replied the Roman, "is in your own power."- Plutarch.
(238) Sophonisba. The story of the marriage and the poison is well known to every reader.
(239) The Pantheon.
(240) The transfiguration; "la quale opera, nel vedere il corpo morto, e quella viva faceva scoppiare l'anima di dolore à ogni uno che quivi guardava." — Vasari.
(241) "You admire that picture,” said an old Dominican to me at Padua, as I stood con templating a Last Supper in the Refectory of his convent, the figures as large as the life. "I have sat at my meals before it for seven and forty years; and such are the changes that have taken place among us, so many have come and gone in the time, — that, when I look upon the company there, upon those who are sitting at that table, silent as they are, — I am sometimes inclined to think that we, and not they, are the shadows."
The celebrated fresco of Lionardo da Vinci in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, at Milan, must again and again have suggested the same reflection. Opposite to it stood the prior's table, the monks sitting down the chamber on the right and left; and the artist, throughout his picture, has evidently endeavored to make it correspond with what he saw when they were assembled there. The table-cloth, with the corners tied up, and with its regular folds as from the press, must have been faithfully copied; and the dishes and drinking-cups are, no doubt, such as were used by the fathers in that day. See Goethe, vol. xxxix. p. 94.
Indefatigable was Lionardo in the prosecution of this work. "I have seen him," says Bandello the novelist, "mount the scaffold at daybreak and continue there till night, forgetting to eat or drink. Not but that he would sometimes leave it for many days together, and then return only to meditate upon it, or to touch and retouch it here and there." The prior was forever complaining of the little progress that he made, and the duke at last consented to speak to him on the subject. His answer is given by Vasari. "Perhaps I am then most busy when I seem to be most idle, for I must think before I execute. But, think as I will, there are two persons at the supper to whom I shall never do justice, – our Lord and the disciple who betrayed him. Now, if the prior would but sit to me for the last "
The prior gave him no more trouble.
(242) A dialogue which is said to have passed many years ago at Lyons (Mem. de Gram mont, i. 3), and which may still be heard in almost every hôtellerie at daybreak.
(243) How noble is that burst of eloquence in Hooker! "Of law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power.
(244) As the descendants of an illustrious people have lately done.
They know their strength, and know that, to be free,
(245) Candor, generosity and justice, how rare are they in the world; and how much is to be deplored the want of them! When a minister in our parliament consents at last to a measure, which, for many reasons perhaps existing no longer, he had before refused to adopt, there should be no exultation as over the fallen, no taunt, no jeer. How often may the resistance be continued lest an enemy should triumph, and the result of conviction be received as a symptom of fear!
(246) Are we not also unjust to ourselves; and are not the best among us the most so? Many a good deed is done by us and forgotten. Our benevolent feelings are indulged, and we think no more of it. But is it so when we err? And when we wrong another and cannot redress the wrong, where are we then? Yet so it is, and so no doubt it should be, to urge us on without ceasing, in this place of trial and discipline,
From good to better and to better still.