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praying them to prescribe what terms they pleased, and leave to Venice only her independence. The Prince of Padua was inclined to listen to these proposals, but the Genoese, who, after the victory at Pola, had shouted, “To Venice, to Venice, and long live St.George!” determined to annihilate their rival; and Peter Doria, their commander-in-chief, returned this answer to the suppliants: “On God’s faith, gentlemen of Venice, ye shall have no peace from the Signor of Padua, nor from our commune of Genoa, until we have first put a rein upon those unbridled horses of yours, that are upon the porch of your evangelist St. Mark. When we have bridled them, we shall keep you quiet. And this is the pleasure of us and of our commune. As for these my brothers of Genoa, that you have brought
e-orith you to give up to us, I will not have them: take them back; for, in a few days hence, I shall come and let them out of prison myself, both these and all the others.” “ In fact, the Genoese did advance as far as Malamocco, within five miles of the capital; but their own danger and the pride of their enemies gave courage to the Venetians, who made prodigious efforts, and many individual sacrifices, all of them carefully recorded by their historians. Vettor Pisani was put at the head of thirty-four galleys. The Genoese broke up from Malamocco, and retired to Chioza in October; but they again threatened Venice, which was reduced to extremities. At this time, the 1st of January, 1380, arrived Carlo Zeno, who had been cruising on the Genoese coast with fourteen galleys. The Venetians were now strong enough to besiege the Genoese. Doria was killed on the 22d of January, by a stone bullet 195 pounds weight, discharged from a bombard called the Trevisan. Chioza was then closely invested: 5000 auxiliaries, amongst whom were some English condottieri, commanded by one Captain Ceccho, joined the Venetians. The Genoese, in their turn, prayed for conditions, but none were granted, until, at last, they surrendered at discretion; and, on the 24th of June, 1380, the Doge Contarini made his triumphal entry into Chioza. Four thousand prisoners, nineteen galleys, many smaller vessels and barks, with all the ammunition and arms, and outfit of the expedition, fell into the hands of the conquerors, who, had it not been for the inexorable answer of Doria, would have gladly reduced their dominion to the city of Venice. An account of these transactions is found in a work called the War of Chioza, written by Daniel Chinazzo, who was in Venice at the time.*
* “ Alla fê di Dio, Signori Veneziani, non haverete mai pace dal Signore di Padoua, ne dal nostro commune di Genova, se primieramente non mettemo le briglie a quelli vostri cavallisfrenati, che sono su la reza del vostro Evangelista S. Marco. Imbrenati che gli havremo, vi faremo stare in buona pace. Equesta e la intenzione nostra, e del nostro commune. Questi miei fratelli Genovesi che havete menati con voi per donarci, non livoglio; rimanetegli in dietro perche io intendo da qui a pochi giorni venirgli a riscuoter, dallevostre prigioni, e loro e gli altri.”
* “Chronica della Guerra di Chioza,” &c. Script. Rer. Italic. tom. xv. pp. 699. to 804.
VENICE UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRIA.
“ Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must
Stanza xv. lines 7. and 8.
The population of Venice at the end of the seventeenth century amounted to nearly two hundred thousand souls. At the last census, taken two years ago, it was no more than about one hundred and three thousand; and itãodiminishes daily. The commerce and the official employments, which were to be the unexhausted source of Venetian grandeur, have both expired.* Most of the patrician mansions are deserted, and would gradually disappear, had not the government, alarmed by the demolition of seventytwo, during the last two years, expressly forbidden this sad resource of poverty. Many remnants of the Venetian nobility are now scattered, and confounded with the wealthier Jews upon the banks of the Brenta, whose Palladian palaces have sunk, or are sinking, in the general decay. Of the “gentiluomo Veneto,” the name is still known, and that is all. He is but the shadow of his former self, but he is polite and kind. It surely may be pardoned to him if he is querulous. Whatever may have been the vices of the republic, and although the natural term of its existence may be thought by foreigners to have arrived in the due course of mortality, only one sentiment can be expected from the Venetians themselves. At no time were the subjects of the republic so unanimous in their resolution to rally round the standard of St. Mark, as when it was for the last time unfurled; and the cowardice and the treachery of the few patricians who recommended the fatal neutrality were confined to the persons of the traitors themselves. The present race cannot be thought to regret the loss of their aristocratical forms, and too despotic government; they think only on their vanished independence. They pine away at the remembrance, and on this subject suspend for a moment their gay good humour. Venice may be said, in the words of the scripture, “to die daily;” and so general and so apparer.t is the decline, as to become painful to a stranger, not reconciled to the sight of a whole nation expiring as it were before his eyes. So artificial a creation, having lost that principle which called it into life and supported its existence, must fall to pieces at once, and sink more rapidly than it rose. The abhorrence of slavery which drove the Venetians to the sea, has, since their disaster, forced them to the land, where they may be at least overlooked amongst the crowd of dependants, and not present the
* “Nonnullorum e nobilitate immensae sunt opes, adeout vix aestimari possint: id. Quod tribus e rebus oritur, parsimonia, commercio, atque iis emolumentis, quae e repub. percipiunt, quae hanc ob causam diuturma fore creditur.” See De Principalibus Italiae, Tractatus, edit. 1631.
humiliating spectacle of a whole nation loaded with recent chains. Their liveliness, their affability, and that happy indifference which constitution alone can give (for philosophy aspires to it in vain), have not sunk under circumstances; but many peculiarities of costume and manner have by degrees been lost, and the nobles, with a pride common to all Italians who have been masters, have not been persuaded to parade their insignificance. That splendour which was a proof and a portion of their power, they would not degrade into the trappings of their subjection. They retired from the space which they had occupied in the eyes of their fellow-citizens; their continuance in which would have been a symptom of acquiescence, and an insult to those who suffered by the common misfortune. Those who reYmained in the degraded capital might be said rather to haunt the scenes of *their departed power, than to live in them. The reflection, “who and what enthrals,” will hardly bear a comment from one who is, nationally, the friend and the ally of the conqueror. It may, however, be allowed to say thus much, that to those who wish to recover their independence, any masters must be an object of detestation; and it may be safely foretold that this unprofitable aversion will not have been corrected before Venice shall have sunk into the slime of her choked canals.
“Watering the tree which bears his lady's name
Thanks to the critical acumen of a Scotchman, we now know as little of Laura as ever.” The discoveries of the Abbé de Sade, his triumphs, his sneers, can no longer instruct or amuse.f. We must not, however, think that these memoirs are as much a romance as Belisarius or the Incas, although we are told so by Dr. Beattie, a great name, but a little authority.t His “labour * has not been in vain, notwithstanding his “love” has, like
* See An Historical and Critical Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch; and a Dissertation on an Historical Hypothesis of the Abbé de Sade: the first appeared about the year 1784; the other is inserted in the fourth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and both have been incorporated into a work, published, under the first title, by Ballantyne, in 1810.
most other passions, made him ridiculous.* The hypothes.s which overpowered the struggling Italians, and carried along less interested critics in its current, is run out. We have another proof that we can be never sure that the paradox, the most singular, and therefore having the most agreeable and authentic air, will not give place to the re-established ancient prejudice. It seems, then, first, that Laura was born, lived, died, and was buried, not in Avignon, but in the country. The fountains of the Sorga, the thickets of Cabrieres, may resume their pretensions, and the exploded de la Bastie again be heard with complacency. The hypothesis of the Abbé had no stronger props than the parchment sonnet and medal found on the skeleton of the wife of Hugo de Sade, and the manuscript note to the Virgil of Petrarch, now in the Ambrosian library. If these proofs were both incontestable, the poetry was written, the medal composed, cast, and deposited within the space of twelve hours: and these deliberate duties were performed round the carcass of one who died of the plague, and was hurried to the grave on the day of her death. These documents, therefore, are too decisive: they prove not the fact, but the forgery. Either the sonnet or the Virgilian note must be a falsification. The Abbé cites both as incontestably true; the consequent deduction is inevitable—they are both evidently false.f Secondly, Laura was never married, and was a haughty virgin rather than that tender and prudent wife who honoured Avignon by making that town the theatre of an honest French passion, and played off for one and twenty years her little machinery of alternate favours and refusals f upon the first poet of the age. It was, indeed, rather too unfair that a female should be made responsible for eleven children upon the faith of a misinterpreted abbreviation, and the decision of a librarian. § It is, however, satisfactory to
* Mr. Gibbon called his Memoirs “a labour of love " (see Decline and Fall, chap. lxx. note 1.), and followed him with confidence and delight. The compiler of a very voluminous work must take much criticism upon trust. Mr. Gibbon has done so, though not as readily as some other authors.
f The sonnet had before awakened the suspicions of Mr. Horace Walpole. See his letter to Warton in 1763.
f “Parce petit manège, cette alternative de faveurs et de rigueurs bien ménagée, une femme tendre et sage amuse, pendant vingt et unans, le plus grand poète de son siècle, sans faire la moindre brèche à son honneur.” Mém. pour la Vie de Pétrarque, Préface aux François. The Italian editor of the London edition of Petrarch, who has translated Lord Woodhouselee, renders the “femme tendre et sage,” “raffinata civetta.” Riflessioni intorno a Madonna Laura, p. 234 vol. iii. ed. 1811.
§ In a dialogue with St. Augustin, Petrarch has described Laura as having a body exhausted with repeated ptubs. The old editors read and printed perturbationibus; but M. Capperonier, librarian to the French king in 1792, who saw the MS. in the Paris library, made an attestation that “on lit et qu'on doit lire, partubus exhaustum.” De Sade joined the names
think that the love of Petrarch was not platonic. The happiness which he prayed to possess but once and for a moment was surely not of the mind *, and something so very real as a marriage project, with one who has been idly called a shadowy nymph, may be, perhaps, detected in at least six places of his own sonnets. The love of Petrarch was neither platonic nor poetical : and if in one passage of his works he calls it “amore veementeissimo ma unico ed onesto,” he confesses, in a letter to a friend, that it was guilty and perverse, that it absorbed him quite, and mastered his heart.f In this case, however, he was perhaps alarmed for the culpability of his wishes; for the Abbé de Sade himself, who certainly would not have been scrupulously delicate if he could have proved his descent from Petrarch as well as Laura, is forced into a stout defence of his virtuous grandmother. As far as relates to the poet, we have no security for the innocence, except perhaps in the constancy of his pursuit. He assures us in his epistle to posterity, that, when arrived at his fortieth year, he not only had in horror, but had lost all recollection and image of any “irregularity.” But the birth of his natural daughter cannot be assigned earlier than his thirtyninth year; and either the memory or the morality of the poet must have failed him, when he forgot or was guilty of this slip. || The weakest argument for the purity of this love has been drawn from the permanence of its effects, which survived the object of his passion. The reflection of M. de la Bastie, that virtue alone is capable of making impressions which death cannot efface, is one of those which every body applauds, and every body finds not to be true, the moment he examines his own breast or the records of human feeling." Such apophthegms can do nothing for Petrarch or for
of Messrs. Boudot and Bejot with M. Capperonier, and in the whole discussion on this ptubs, showed himself a downright literary rogue. See Riflessioni, &c. p. 267. Thomas Aquinas is called in to settle whether Petrarch's mistress was a chaste maid or a continent wife.
f “Quella rea e perversa passione che solo tutto mi occupava emi regnava nel cuore.”
§ “Azion dishonesta” are his words.
| “A questa confessione cosi sincera diede forse occasione una nuova caduta ch'ei fece.” Tiraboschi, Storia, &c. tom. v. lib. iv. par. ii. pag. 492.
* “Il n'y a quela vertu seule qui soit capable de faire des impressions que la mort n'efface pas.” M. de Bimard, Baron de la Bastie, in the Mé
Inoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres for 1740 and 1751.