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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 become, as it were,
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 had come, 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, 32s 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,329 was laid on as before, to awaken vain regrets and wise resolutions.
AND now farewell to ITALY — perhaps
Gentle or rude,
That level region, where no echo dwells,
But now a long farewell! Oft, while I live,
Solemn, sublime, such as at midnight flows
And now a parting word is due from him
Nature denied him much,
Nature denied him much, but gave him more; And ever, ever grateful should he be, Though from his cheek, ere yet the down was there, Health fled; for in his heaviest hours would come Gleams such as come not now; nor failed he then (Then and through life his happiest privilege)