« AnteriorContinuar »
ephemeral publication, in whatever language, French or Italian, Spanish, Greek or German, is bribed or forced into the service, and rendered, directly or indirectly, subservient to this end. The Romans adopted the arms of their enemies when persuaded of their utility; we are too idle to profit by the example of ours, even where the weapon is perhaps less efficacious in their hands than it would be in our own. · But it will be said that nothing hostile to France can find its way to her territories: an excuse for silence which, if it be valid, as far as it respects her original dominions, is not applicable to the conquered provinces, where, unseconded by the inhabitants, and less zealously served by his creatures, her ruler must find it inpossible to dam up all the channels of information which might be opened to the people. Against a power, the basis of which is so rotten, the press might doubtless be employed every where with advantage, but perhaps in no part of Europe with greater promise of success than in Italy. 'The lively imagination and impassioned temperament of the people render them peculiarly sensible to the force of eloquence, and many circumstances concur in leading us to believe this one of the most vulnerable points of the overgrown dominions of France. If, roused to action, she should shake off the yoke of the oppressors, who knows but she may, by a union of her parts, form the best barrier which has yet been erected against the ambition of the conqueror ? The extinction of so many independent states is certainly favourable to such an expectation; nor has any thing inspired greater confidence into the party which nourishes the passionate desire of Machiavel, that of the re-union of Italy under a single government. It may be questioned whether this project be not visionary; it may be doubted whether this party be strong either in authority or numbers; but the disposition to revolt amongst the Italians, under the influence of different hopes, and under the pressure of different evils, is placed beyond the reach of contradiction. On the withdrawal of Beauharnois' army to act against the Archduke near Vienna, the Ferrarese broke into an insurrection, which, though rendered vain by the desperate state of the Austrian affairs, afforded a sufficient test of what, under happier circumstances, might be expected from them. The Calabrias, which maintained a three years' defensive war against France, the grave of fifty thousand of her troops, and which, subdued only by the formation of roads and the establishment of military positions, cost her not dearer in blood than in treasure, await only a new opportunity of proving themselves in arms, while there is a smouldering insurrection in the Roman state which might be kindled by a breath. To keep alive this ardent spirit, to place before the eyes of the Italians their ancient wrongs and present suf
ferings, to detect the weakness of the enemy, and disclose to them the secret of their own strength, in short to foment, by every appeal to their reason or their passions, the growing indignation till the tune be ripe for action, ought surely to be the
policy of Great Britain; nor could she find a better instrument for her purpose than she already possesses in the writer of the work under our review. This gentleman is already known to the public, as author of a History of the Subversion of the late Venetian Republic, stiled son its also succinctly narrating the former fortunes of that state, Le Rivoluzioni della Repubblica Veneta. If there be any who, dazzled by the glory of Buonaparte, yet persevere in admiration or bis character, let them recur to this publication; they may here Tetrace the base and contemptible qualities which were subservient in the development of his more splendid vices; they may see, in tas
, tae proudest period of his glory, how largely the lion's was paced with the fox's skin; they may watch him wading through drt as well as blood towards dominion. Does the disease remain unubdued ? a second remedy is presented to them in the volume before us; . if this too fail, we may indeed pronounce that their malady is beyond the reach of hellebore.
The reader will have anticipated the character of the Romani nella Grecia. The title is typical; Italy is figured in Greece; the French in the Romans; the Austrians in the Macedonians; the Russians in the Thracians; the Venetians in the Ætolians, and Eunaparte in Flaminjus; the parallel is more artfully sustained stan is usual in works of a similar description. The author was probably influenced in adopting such a vehicle, as justificatory of that declamatory style in which he is peculiarly successful. Should It, however, be thought that this scholastic fiction is insufficient to bis defence, he may at least shelter himself under the plea and example of Josephus, who from the deep interest taken by him in the calamities which he descirbes, claims the privilege of indulging in a more impassioned tone than is permitted to the ordinary historian. Like his, the language of Barzoni comes from the heart; and he describes, with natural pity and feeling indignation the weakness and the sufferings of his countrymen; the perfidy and oppression of the conqueror. Framed upon the same plan as the Ricoluzioni della Repubblica Veneta—this work, though of inferior bulk, embraces a wider field; the pictures which it contains are drawn with the same fidelity and spirit. It commences with a description of the causes which led to the conquest of Italy, the relative strength and disposition of the belligerents, and the character of the captain of the invaders. After the battle which was decisive of her destinies, the author becomes more circumstantial, and pres a detail of the measures resorted to in order to seduce, divide,
corrupt and terrify the people. With all this, there is no attempt to fatter the passions of the reader by underrating the valor or substantial force of the conqueror; but when other engines are substituted for these, he presents us with the ring of Angelica, dissolves the enchantment, and shews the wizard, apparently victorious in arms, in reality triumphant by imposture and delusion.
Amidst this exposure, he is singularly happy in an account of the ephemeral governments of Italy, purposely constructed with a view to their own speedy dissolution, and of the arts by which the political fanaticism of the nation was irritated, till, reduced by a succession of paroxysms to the last stage of debility, she fell an unresisting victim to the tyranny of the French chief. Then follows a picture of the havoc of an unlicensed soldiery, ceaseless rapine and confiscation, the immediate evils which were their consequence, and the remoter, yet more lasting mischief which followed, in the moral debasement and depravation of the people. The infamous transfer of Venice, which formed the subject of the work before alluded to, is succinctly told and reprobated, and this closes the first Italian war. Very few pages are devoted to the second and its consequences: these are new modifications of fraud and violence. Here the story appears somewhat strained for the purpose of adapting it to the history, its prototype, and we should in some cases find a difficulty in fitting the Roman masks upon those personages of the drama for whom they are designed. The author rises again, however, towards his conclusion, and a summary account of the nefarious policy of France towards foreign nations, in general, furnishes him with a most brilliant and powerful peroration.
The chief characteristics of this work may be said to be shrewdness and vigor. Add to this, that the eloquence of the author flows in a full, clear, and uninterrupted stream, and is generally rapid as it is copious. Yet it would be too much to say that he has wholly escaped the defects of his school, defects to which the English are, perhaps, of all people the least indulgent. The most striking of these is the anxiety to screw every thing to the same pitch, to furbish and adorn the meanest as well as the strongest parts of the subject, to have, in the language of Foote,' as much to say upon a riband as upon a Raffael. We do not, however, intend to affirm that Signor Barzoni has sinned to this extent; but in his attempt to soar one even and continued flight, the effort is often visible and sometimes unsuccessful. Another fault of the Italian rhetoricians, from which he cannot be considered entirely exempt, a vice, perhaps, occasioned by the seduction of the language, is the propensity to round a period at the expense of its more essential part, and to baulk the understanding while they gratify the ear. These defects, however, are neither frequent nor important. We return to a more
Essential point. We would willingly give the English reader a juster idea of the more intrinsic merits of this work than our short abstract of its contents can have afforded: but this is inconsistent with our plan and limits. We will not, therefore, since a short citation is insufficient for such a purpose, deprive those conTersant with the Italian, of an opportunity of tasting beauties, as preceptible in a fragment as in a whole, but which cannot be transfused or fixed in a translation. We select the character of Buonaparte.
'Nel terzo anno Tito Quinzio Flaminio fu destinato a quel comando. Edi era per natura soldato, e l'esercizio incessante dell'armi lo aveva costo ad essere gran capitano. Fino dalla sua prima età aveva apporse l'arte di governare, e di comandar le armate. In qualità di trito era stato alla guerra contro d'Annibale sotto Marcello. Prefetto 2 poi di Tarento, indi condottiere di due colonie alle città Narnia e Cossa, tanto negli affidatigli carichi si distinse, che il popolo il creò conbe, benchè non ancora di anni trenta. Fu nella spedizione contro Filippo ch' egli fece risplendere que' grandi talenti militari che gli diedero tanto vantaggio su'Greci generali, e che tanta fama gli procacciarono a Roma. Ardito ed intrepido nel combattimento, atto a durar fatiche che fanno fremere la natura, accorto a tutto prevedere ed a provvedere a tutto nel periglio istesso, sagace a trarre da' suoi disastri e dall'infedeltà della fortuna improvvisi ripari ed impensati profitti, ziustato nelle sue mire, di un genio perspicacissimo per eseguire a tempo li suoi progetti e per penetrare i disegni de' suvi nemici, tutto artiózio per operar senza scoprirsi, mai più artifizioso ancora allorquando evidentemente si scopriva, immenso negli espedienti, sempre inclinato ad intraprendere cose difficili, ed a tentare pur anco le impossibili, deciso di non abbandonare mai all' arbitrio del caso ciò che poteva essere condotto dalla prudenza, risoluto di osar tutto quando il consiglio era inutile, destro a coprire d'una calma sorprendente tutte le sue più gravi operazioni, facile ad essere spinto quasi da febbrile impeto a straordinarie imprese; tale era Flaminio
"Ho esaminato questo giovane come guerriero, ora l'osservo come Uomo di stato.
'Ente ingegnosissimo, astuto, profondo e maraviglioso perche impenetrabile, senza onore, senza religione, senza morale, senza fede, ma molto esperto ad ammantarsi colle apparenze di quelle virtù per quanto contenisse a' suoi vantaggj; aspro per natura, impetuoso, iracondo, ma capace d'imperare a se stesso, e d'assumere all'uopo gli aspetti delle più delicate passioni; egualmente facile a far da tiranno che a spiegare i modi soavi e compiacenti d'adulatore; perspicace a conoscere il momento di fare il bene senza aver l'anima propria a volerlo; tronco e grave ne' detti suoi, inestricabile ne' suoi discorsi come nella sua condotta; costantemente assorto in un mondo di viste, di desiderj, d'imprese, tutte coincidenti all'aumento del suo potere; pronto a sagrifi. care l'amicizia, la riconoscenza, l'altrui riputazione all'esito de' suoi divisamenti, ed a servirsi della calunnia per tradir l'uno, soppiantare
l'altro, screditar questo, perdere quello, e per rimovere ogni ostacolo dalla carriera della sua ambizione; alacre a parlar sempre ai popoli il linguaggio che era nell'animo loro, ed a nascondere sempre a tutti i sentimenti del suo; lesto a toccar le fibre del cuore umano per cavarne i segreti che gli erano utili, quanto Orfev a sorvolar sulle corde della sua lira per trarne i suoni che gli erano necessarj ; ambizioso come Alessandro, avido come Pimmalione, perfido come Lisandro, impostore come Pisistrato ... ... ecco Tito, ecco il redentore degli schiavi. In · breve tutto stringo: trattavasi di far la guerra, egli era soldato, era Romano: trattavasi di gabbare, era Flaminio, con tante prodigiose arti del suo ingegno e del suo carattere, egli giunse ad ingannar tutti i "Greci, e vi riuscì tanto più facilmente quanto che non gli occorse che della mala fede per sedurre popoli che amavano esser sedotti.'
The reader, after this specimen, will probably agree with us in regretting that Signor Barzoni, who has now been several years
in the service of Great Britain, to which he is equally attached from interest and from principles, should not have laboured more than he has in a cause which he is so well qualified to support. Would he know why we have so little of what is so good, he will learn that the valuable time of this gentleman is occupied in the conduct of a Maltese newspaper. He will perhaps imagine that this is but a vehicle for political discussion and for patriotic exhortation; that the little island in which he is placed has been merely chosen for his residence on account of its centrical situation, and that he is sounding an alarm to the surrounding nations from his watch-tower on the rock. Though the watchman slumber not on his post, his trumpet is not heard. Yet if he is not striving,
ciere viros martemque accendere cantu," he is doubtless usefully, though less brilliantly, employed; he may at least be occupied in informing the small population amongst which he is placed, and in animating and directing public opinion in the neighbouring kingdom of Sicily? No such thing; his duty is confined to translating articles, selected for him from the English papers, into the Malta Gazette, to detailing the number of old wheelbarrows found in some old fort in some part of the old or new world, of which perhaps his readers never heard, and to reechoing all those small news, which, because interesting to ourselves, we wisely conceive must be equally so to every body else. It is not often we find men fit for our purposes, who will embrace our cold favour and scanty remuneration. We have found one, and we neither know nor will learn how to turn his talents to account. We are worse than Master Stephen; when he had got his hawk he sought a book to keep him by: we keep ours perched,