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subjects of his poetry was received by a very numerous audience, for the most part in silence, or with laughter; but when the assistant, unfolding one of the papers, exclaimed, « The apotheosis of Victor Alfieri,» the whole theatre burst into a shout, and the applause was continued for some moments. The lot did not fall on Alfieri; and the Signor Sgricci had to pour forth his extemporary common-places on the bombardment of Algiers. The choice, indeed, is not left to accident quite so much as might be thought from a first view of the ceremony; and the police not only takes care to look at the papers beforehand, but, in case of any prudential after-thought, steps in to correct the blindness of chance. The proposal for deifying Alfieri was received with immediate enthusiasm the rather because is was conjectured there would be no opportunity of carrying it into effect.
Stanza LIV. Here Machiavelli's earth returned to whence it rose. The affectation of simplicity in sepulchral inscriptions, which so often leaves us uncertain whether the structure before us is an actual depository, or a cenotaph, or a simple memorial not of death but life, has given to the tomb of Machiavelli no information as to the place or time of the birth or death, the age or parentage, of the historian.
TANTO NOMINI NVLLVM PAR ELOGIVM
NICCOLAVS MACHIAVELLI. There seems as least no reason why the name should not have beeu put above the sentence which alludes to it.
It will readily be imagined that these prejudices which have passed the name of Marchiavelli into an epithet proverbial of iniquity exist no longer at Florence. His memory was persecuted as his life had been for a attachment to liberty , incompatible with the new system of despotism, which succeded the fall of the free governments of Italy. He was put to the torture for being a « libertine , that is, for wishing to restore the republic of Florence and such are the undying efforts of those who are interested in
the perversion not only of the nature of actions, but the meaning of words, that what was once patriotism, has by degrees come to signify debauch. We have ourselves outlived the old meaning of
liberality,' which is now another word for treason in one country and for infatuation in all. It seems to have been a strange mistake to accuse the author of the Prince, as being a pandar to tyranny; and to think that the inquisition would condemn his work for such a delinquency. The fact is that Machiavelli, as is usual with those against whom no crime can be proved, was suspected of and charged with atheism; and the first and last most violent opposers of the Prince were both Jesuits, one of whom persuaded the Inquisition « benchè fosse tardo ,» to prohibit the treatise, and the other qualified the secretary of the Florentine republic as no better than a fool. The father Possevin was proved never to have read the book, and the father Lucchesini not to have understood it. It is clear, however, that such critics must have objected not to the slavery of the doctrines, but to the supposed tendency of a lesson which shows how distinct are the interests of a monarch from the happiness of mankind. The Jesuits are re-established in Italy, and the last chapter of the Prince may again call forth a particular refutation, from those who are employed once more in moulding the minds of the rising generation, so as to receive the impressions of despotism. The chapter bears for title, « Esortazione a liberare la Italia dai Barbari , » and concludes with a libertine excitement to the future redemption of Italy. « Non si deve adunque lasciar passare questa occasione, acciocchè la Italia vegga dopo tanto tempo apparire un suo redentore. Ne posso esprimere con qual amore ei fusse ricevuto in tutte quelle provincie, che hanno patito per queste illuvioni esterne, con qual sete di vendetta, con che ostinata fede, con che lacrime. Quali porte se li serrerebeno? Quali popoli li negherebbeno la obbedienza? Quale Italiano li negherebbe l'ossequio? AD OGNUNO PUZZA QUESTO BARBARO DOMINIO. » *
* Il Principe di Niccolò Machiavelli , etc. con la prefazione e le nole istoriche e politiche di Mr. Amelot de la Houssaye e l'esame e confutazione dell'opera... Cosmopoli, 1769.
Stanza LVII. Ungrateful Florence ! Dante sleeps afar. Dante was born in Florence in the year 1261. He fought in two battles, was fourteen times ambassador, and once prior of the republic. When the party of Charles of Anjou triumphed over the Bianchi, he was absent on an embassy to Pope Boniface VIII, and was condemned to two years banishment, and to a fine of 8000 lire; on the non-payment of which he was further punished by the sequestration of all his property. The republic, however, was not content with this satisfaction, for in 1972 was discovered in the archives at Florence a sentence in which Dante is the eleventh of a list of fifteen condemned in 1302 to be burnt alive; Talis perveniens igne comburatur sic quod moriatur. The pretext for this judgment was a proof of unfair barter, extortions, and illicit gains. Baracteriarum iniquarum, extorsionum, et illicitorum lucrorum, f and with such an accusation it is not strange that Dante should have always protested his innocence, and the injustice of his fellow citizens. His appeal to Florence was accompanied by another to the Emperor Henry, and the death of that sovereing in 1313, was the signal for a sentence of irrevocable banishment. He had before lingered near Tuscany with hopes of recal; then travelled into the north of Italy, where Verona had to boast of his longest residence, and he finally settled at Ravenna, which was his ordinary but not constant abode until his death. The resusal of the Venetians to grant him a public audience, on the part of Guido Novello da Polenta his protector, is said to have been the principal cause of this event, which happened in 1321. He was buried («in sacra minorum æde, ») at Ravenna, in a handsome tomb, which was erected by Guido, restored by Bernando Bembo in 1483, pretor for that republic which had refused to hear him, again restored by Cardinal Corsi in 1692, and replaced by a more magnificent sepulchre, constructed in 1980 at the expense of the Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga. The offence or misfortune of Dante was an attachment to a defeated party, and, as his least favourable
† Storia della Dett. Ital. tom. v. lib. iii. par. 2. pag. 448. Tiraboschi's date is incorrect.
Boruck medalere is still body, cro
biographers alledge against him, too great a freedom of speech and haughtiness of manner. But the next age paid honours almost di(vine to the exile. The Florentines, having in vain and frequently attempted to recover his body, crowned his image in a church , * and his picture is still one of the idols of their cathedral They struck medals, they raised statues to him. The cities of Italy, not being able to dispute about his own birth, contended for that of his great poem, and the Florentines thought it for their honour to prove that he had finished the seventh Canto, before they drove him from his native city. Fifty-one years after his death, they endowed a professorial chair for the expounding of his verses, and Boccaccio was appointed to this patriotic employment. The example was imitated by Bologna and Pisa, and the commentators, if they performed but little service to literature, augmented the veneration which beheld a sạcred or moral allegory in all the images of liis mystic muse. His birth and his infancy were discovered to have been distinguished above those of ordinary men : the author of the Decameron, his earliest biographer, relates that his mother was warned in a dream of the importance of her pregnancy; and it was found, by others, that at ten years of age he had manifested his precocious passion for that wisdom or theology, which, under the name of Beatrice, had been mistaken for a substantial mistress. When the Divine Comedy had been recognized as a rere mortal production, and at the distance of two centuries, when criticism and competition had sobered the judgment of Italians, Dante was seriously declared superior to Homer, ** and though the preference appeared to some casuists «an heretical blasphemy worthy of the flames, » the contest was vigorously maintained for nearly fifty years. In later times it was made a question which of the Lords of Verona could boast of having patronised him, *** and the jealous
* So relates Ficino , but some think his coronation only an allegory. See Storia, etc. ut sup. p. 453.
** By Varchi in his Ercolano. The controversy continued from 1570 to 1616. See Storía , etc, tom. vii. lib. iii. par. iii, p. 1280.
*** Gio. Jacopo Dionis canonico di Verona. Seaie di Aneddoti, m, 2. See Storia , etc, tom, v. lib. par i. p. 24.
scepticism of one writer would not allow Ravenna the undoubted possession of his bones. Even the critical Tiraboschi was inclined to believe that the poet had foreseen and foretold one of the discoveries of Galileo. Like the great originals of other nations, his popularity has not always maintained the same level. The last age seemed inclined to undervalue him as a model and a study ; and Bettinelli one day rebuked his pupil Monti, for poring over the harsh, and obsolete extravagances of the Commedia. The present generation having recovered from the Gallic idolatries of Cesarotti, has returned to the ancient worship, and the Danteggiare of the northern Italians is thought even indiscreet by the more moderate Tuscans.
Proscribed , etc. The elder Scipio Africanus had a tomb if he was not buried at Liternum , whither he had retired to voluntary banishment. This tomb was near the sea shore, and the story of an inscription upon it, Ingrata Patria , having given a name to a modern tower, is , if not true , an agreeable fiction. If he was not buried, her certainly lived there. *
In cosi angusta e solitaria villa.
Perchè prima col ferro al vivo aprilla.f Ingratitude is generally supposed the vice peculiar to republics ; and it seems to be forgotten that for one instance of popular inconstancy, we have a hundred examples of the fall of courtly favourites. Besides, a people have often repented-a monarch seldom or never Leaving apart many familiar proofs of this fact, a short story may show the difference between even an aristocracy and the multitude.
.* Vitam Literni egit sine desiderio urbis. See T. Liv. Hist. lib. Xxxvii. Livy reports that some said he was buried at Liternum , others at Rome. Ib. cap. LV.
+ Trionfo della Castità.