Imágenes de página

of Padua, nor from oưr 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. Wild as we may find them, we will soon make them stand still. And this is the pleasure of us and of our commune. As for these my brothers of Genoa , that you have brought with 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. Veltor 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 extremilies. At this time, the Ist of January, 1380 , arrived Charlo 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,

* « Alla di Dio, Signori Veneziani, non havarete mai pace dal Signore di Padoua, dal nostro comune di Genova , se primieramente non mettemo le briglie a quelli vostri cavalli sfrenati , che sono su la Reza del Vostro Evangelista S. Marco. Imbrenati che gli havremo vi faremo , stare in buona pace. E questa è la intenzione nostra , e del nostro comune. Questi miei fratelli Genovesi che havete menati con voi per donarci, non li voglio ; rimanategli in dietro perche io intendo da qui a pochi giorni venirgli a riscuoter dalle vostre prigioni , e lore e gli altri. »

and outfit of the expedition, fell into the hands of the conquerors , who, hadit 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. *

Slanza Xy. Thin streets and foreign aspects, such as must Too oft remind her who and what enthrals. 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 it diminishes 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 deserved , and would gradually disappear , had not the government, alarmed by the demolition of seventy-two, 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 « gentil uomo 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 querelous. Whatever may have been the vices of the republic, and although the natural term of its existence may be thought hy foreigners to have arrived in the due course of mortality , only one septiment 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 unfnrled; and the cowar

*« Chronaca della guerra di Chioza, » etc, Script. Rer. Italic. tom. xv. pp. 699. to 804.

** « Nonnullorum è nobilitate immensæ sunt opes , adeo ut vix æstmari possint : id quod tribus è rebus oritur, parsimonia , commercio atqueiis cmolumentis ; quæ è Repub, percipiunt , quæ banc ob causam diuturna fore creditur. » - See de Principalibus Italiæ , Tractatus. edit. 1631.

dice 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 apparent 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 creatiou having lost that principal which called it into life and supported its existence, must fall to pieces at once, and sink more rapidly than it rose. The abhorence 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 humiliating spectacle of a whole nation loaded with recent chains. Their liveliness, their affability, and that happy indifference which conslitution 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 ther fellow citizens ; their continuance in which wonld have been a symptom of acquiescence, and an insult to those who suffered by the common misfortune. Those who remained 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 inay be safely foretold that this unprofitable aversion will not ( have been corrected before Venices shall have suuk into the slime of lier choked canals.

Stanza xx.
But from their nature will the tannen grow

Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter'd rocks. Tannen is the plural of tanne, a species of fir peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky parts, where scarcely soil sufficient for its nourishment can be found. On these spots it grows to a greater height than any mountain tree.

Stanza XXVIII.
A single star is at her side, and reigns

With her oer half the lovely heaven. The above description may seem fantastical or exaggerated to those who have never seen an Oriental or an Italian sky, yet it is but a literal and hardly sufficient delineation of an August evening (the eighteenth) as contemplated in one of many rides along the banks of the Brenta near La Mira,

Stanza XXX.
Watering the tree which bears his lady's name

With his melodious tears, he gave himself to fame. 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. * We must not, however, think that these memoirs are as much a romance as Belisarius or the Incas, although we are told so hy Dr. Beattie, a great name but a little authority. S His « labour» has not been in vain, notwithstanding his «love » has, like most other passions, made him ridiculous. ** The hypothesis which overpowered

* 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 , aud both have been incorporated into a work, published , under the first title , by Ballantyne in 1810.

† Memoires pour la vie de Pétarque.
% Life of Beattie, by Sir S. Forbes, t. ii. p. 106.

** Mr. Gibbon called his Memoirs « a labour of love, » ( see Decline and Fall, cap , lxx. vole 1.), and followed him with

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 ancierit prejudice.

It seems, then, first, that Laura was born, lived, died, and was buried, not in Avignon, but in the country. The fountairis of the Sorga, the thickets of Cabrieres 'may resume their pretensions, and the exploded de la Bastiė 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 nole 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 carcase 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 faot, 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. *

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 tho first poet of the age. It was,

confidence and delight. The compiler of a very voluminous work must take much criticism upon trust ; Mr. "Gibbon has done so. though not so readily aś some other authors.

* The sonnet had before awakened the suspicions of Mr- Horace Walpole. See his letter to Wharton in 1963.

† «Par ce petit manége, cette alternative de faveurs et de rigueurs bien ménagée, une femme tendre et sage amuse, pendant vingl-un ans, le plus grand poële de son siècle, sans faire la moindre brè. che 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 ten

« AnteriorContinuar »