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among the rest that of the Bonaccorsi, of which Villani himself was a principal, who, in consequence of this calamity, was, at a very advanced age, consigned to a public gaol. This event happened in the year 1345. How long he remained a prisoner is
not known, nor whether he ever extricated himself from the en- barrassments of his declining age ; but, three years afterwards, he
became one, and that the most illustrious, of the numerous victims swept off by the plague, which in 1348 desolated all the provinces of Italy, and thence spread its devastations over almost the whole of Europe. Thus was terminated a long and chequered life, the greatest part of which was spent in honour and affluence, and in a state of unremitting public activity, which furnished him with the best opportunities for the study of inankind. “Les historiens de la Grèce, observes M. Sismondi, (tom. iv. p. 204,) avoient, comme lui, parcouru toutes les carrières publiques et privées, et
, par bien des traits, Villani est digne d'être comparé à Hérodote.'
After the death of Giovanni, his brother Matteo, who; being the youngest of the family, was probably several years his junior, took up the continuation of his history from the point where it was broken off by his death, and prosecuted it with vigour, intelligence and ability, at least equal to those displayed by his predecessor, until the year 1363, when the same public calamity which had deprived the world of the elder, in its recurrence carried off the
He was struck by the fatal disease on the 8th of July, and lingered till the 12th, when he devoutly rendered up his soul to God. The length of his struggle was ascribed to his temperate course of life. In dying, he charged his son Philip to continue the family work until a peace should be concluded between the states of Florence and Pisa; a task, which he faithfully performed. The treaty of peace was signed at Pescia on the 17th of August, 1364; and with that event concludes the history of the three Villani.
With regard to the comparative merits of Giovanni and Mattéo, Muratori (and no opinion can have more weight than his) seems inclined to bestow the palun upon the forner. Comparatus cum Johanne,' he says, concedere illi non uno titulo videtur ; quippe qui Asiatico stylo usus, pluribus interdum quam opus sit, rerum eventus describit; attamen,' he continues, - spondere id possumus, neminem ad legendum Matthæi historiam accessurum, cui voluptatem non pariat hominis sinceritas, prudentia, reciunque de rebus quas enarrat, judicium. Proinde tanti estimata est semper ejus auctoritas, ut fermè quicunque Italicam, immo et Gallicam, aliarurnque provinciarum bistoriam, ad ea tempora spectantem, scribere amplissimè aggressi sunt, honorem illius fidei habuerint, eumque testum rerum tunc gestarum sine trepidatione adhibuerint.
On account of these last mentioned and most important qualities of the historian, M. Sismondi pronounces him superior to his brother; and perhaps, though he does not expressly say it, Muratori, from the above passage, may be thought upon the whole to have entertained the same opinion.
Both these histories, eminently valuable as they are, lay concealed and almost forgotten, in MS., till about the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Giunti of Florence undertook the laudable task of giving them to the public. Their first edition of Giovanni Villani was printed at Venice in 1559; that of Matteo, at the same place, in 1562, extending only to the 9th book. The three concluding books of the same author, and his son Philip, did not appear till 1577; and in 1581 and 1587 the whole of both histories was republished by the same enterprising printers, at FloStill much was wanting to restore the text of Villani to its original purity; and many MSS. existed of which the Giunti had no information, or which they certainly did not take the pains of consulting. Muratori undertook to supply these defects, and, in 1729, published at Milan the edition which appears among his Scriptores Italici: it was not, however, very well received, and gave je to a literary warfare, of which we have now neither time nor inclination to inquire into the merits. The present editors have, nevertheless, made the text of Muratori the foundation of their own; and they certainly possess ample means of forming an accurate judgment respecting it. The notes which they have furnished are few, and those few (as far as we have consulted them) distinguished only for an air of solemn trifling, which the name of the writer
, Remigio Fiorentino, however high it may stand in the catalogue of Florentine cominentators, does not, in our apprehensions, redeem.
The merits of the author may be in some degree, but still very imperfectly
, appreciated by the series of desultory remarks and quotations which occupy the preceding pages. The latter half of the thirteenth century, and the beginning of the fourteenth, have been aptly called the heroic age of Florentine history; and the comparison of Giovanni Villani to Herodotus holds equally good with regard to the manners and situation of the pesple, of whom they were respectively the contemporaneous historians. It was the same age that witnesed the revival of poetry and philosophy, of sculpture, painting, and architecture. Dante,* the first and greatest of Italian poets, Guido Cavalcanti, one of the earliest
The high reputation which this poet enjoyed, even among his contemporaries, is plainly slewn, not only by the passages in which Villani expressly dwells on the cir. čunistances of his banishment and death, but by the frequent references which he makes to the vistorical allusions with which his poem abounds. GG4
among those who dared to judge for themselves on the great questions of philosophy and religion, Cimabue and Giotto, Arnolfo and Brunnelleschi, were all contemporaries and fellow-citizens of the Herodotus of Florence.
The simplicity of manners which distinguished the Florentines of that early period, may be collected from the picture presented by our historian of the condition of his fellow-citizens about the year 1250, that is, about twenty or thirty years previous to his own birth. That period forms a most distinguished era in the Florentine annals. It was then that the Guelphs were recalled to the government, after having been expelled from their native city by the Emperor Frederick the Second; and the administration which was formed upon their recal, and which lasted during the space of ten years, till the fatal battle of the Arbia (Sept. 4, 1260) restored the Gibellin faction, offers a spectacle of successful warfare, and legitimate aggrandizement, of patriotic magnanimity and public disinterestedness, hardly to be paralleled, in the same short space of time, by the annals of any nation under the sun.
In those times, the citizens of Florence lived in great sobriety, on coarse diet, and at little expense. In many of their habits they were uncultivated and rude : both themselves and their wives were clad in garments of the coarsest texture; many even wearing skins without lining, with bonnets on their heads, and wooden shoes (usatti) on their feet. The ladies used no ornaments; even those of the highest rank were satisfied with a gown, somewhat scanty, of coarse scarlet stuff of Ypres or Cambray, girt with a broad silken sash after the antique fashion, and a hooded mantle lined with fur; and the common sort went clad in coarse green cambrick, made after the same mode. One hundred pounds was the general rate of dower given with a woman in marriage, and those who gave the utmost, reckoned two or three hundred pounds to be an extravagant portion, and quite beyond measure. The young maidens, for the most part, were twenty years old, or upwards, before they wedded. Of sueh habits, and such coarse manners, were the Florentines of that day; but they were of good faith, and loyal to each other and to the public, and with all their coarse living and their poverty, they accomplished greater and more virtuous actions than are performed in these our days, with so much more refinement and so much greater opulence. - Lib. vi. cap. 70.
* Car meilleur temps fut le temps ancien,' has been the universal cry of writers in all ages sufficiently advanced to reflect upon the manners of their predecessors, and compare the actual state of things with what they have heard, or believe that they have heard, of former times. How just the maxim may be in general
, or how strictly applicable to the age in which Villani thus deplores the decay of virtue, which the short space of half a century had produced, we shall not stop to inquire; but one or two instances of that Spartan principle which, at the period we
arespeaking of, characterised both the community at large, and many of the individuals who composed it, we cannot forbear recording, although eonscious of having already exceeded our limits. The first was the action of the public at large. The city of Arezzo had hitherto remained a stranger to the wars which divided the rest of Tuscany; the Guelphs and Gibellins possessed an equal share in its internal governnent; aud its tranquillity was assured by treaties with the neighbouring states, and among the rest with Florence in particular. In the year 1255, it happened that Count Guido Guerra, at the head of a troop of Florentine cavalry, marched through the territory of Arezzo, on his road to Orvieto; as he passed under the walls of the former city, the Guelph party watched their opportunity, and sent him an invitation to enter and expel their Gibellin rivals. In recompense for this service, which he instantly performed, they put him in possession of their citadel. It is thus, observes M. Sismondi, who relates the circumstance after Villani, that the citadel of Thebes was seized by a Lacedæmonian general; the senate of Sparta condemned the captor, and retained the prize: the Florentines, on the contrary, took arms immediately, and repaired to Arezzo, to re-establish the Gibellins. They were their enemies, it is true, but they were enemies with whom a treaty of peace had been concluded; and, as Count Guido thought proper to defend his conquest, and the Guelphs who had invited him, knew not how to dismiss him without a remuneration, the Florentines lent the inhabitants of Arezzo a sum of 12,000 forins, which was never repaid, to enable them to satisfy the count, recover their citadel, defend their liberties, and re-establish order within their walls.'
The other anecdote reflects at least equal lustre upon an individual. The Pisans, after breaking a peace which the superior prowess of their enemies the Florentines had compelled them to sign, were again forced, by new defeats, to submit not only to the former terms, but to deliver up in addition the castle of Mutrone, on the sea-shore, which the Florentines reserved the right of destroying, or retaining to themselves, as they might deem most advisable. After long deliberation, they came to the resolution of adopting the former course ; but the Pisans, unwilling to trust to this contingency, and extremely anxious to prevent their enemies from obtaining an establishment on the sea-coast, which they feared would tend to the prejudice of their exclusive commerce, had previously sent a secret deputation to prevent them, if possible, from coming to the determination which they so much dreaded.
There was then at Florence, says Villani, a great citizen, very powerful in his influence with the people and the commonalty, one of the Anziani, by name Aldobrandino Ottobuoni, to whom the Pisan
envoy applied himself, through one of his friends, offering him 4000 golden florins, or more if he required it, to procure the dismantling of Mutrone. The good man Aldobrandino, hearing this offer, acted not like one avaricious of gain, but as a loyal and virtuous citizen; and calling to mind, that, only the day before, he had taken counsel with the other Anziani to dismantle Mutrone, and now seeing how much it was the wish of the Pisans that it should be dismantled, he returned to the council board, and, without saying any thing of the offer which had been made him, persuaded them, by many eloquent and sound arguments, to adopt the contrary of that on which they had before determined. Now note, reader, (continues our historian,) the virtue of this noble citizen ; who, albeit he was far from being rich in possessions, yet had so great continence and sincerity of love for the public good, that the good Roman, Fabricius, did not display more in rejecting the treasure offered him by the Samnites; and therefore it appears a worthy thing to make mention of him for the sake of a good example to our citizens, that now are and hereafter shall be, to cherish more the reputation of virtue than the acquisition of corruptible riches.---Lib. vi. cap. 63,
Such were the people and such the age of which the history of Giovanni Villani exhibits throughout a most lively and interesting picture; and, however much the citizens of Florence may have degenerated, even in bis life-time, from the pristine simplicity of manners and strictness of morals which he remarks to have prevailed in the days of their fathers, neither then, nor for more than a century after, did their spirit of patriotism decay, or that public virtue which, so long as it accompanies a people, alone creates and preserves the genuine interest of historical narration, in any degrec become extinct or evaporate.
Art. XIII. Observations on the Nature and Cure of Dropsies.
By John Blackall, M. D. Physician to the Devon and Exeter Hospital and to the Lunatic Asylum near Exeter. London. 1813.
8vo. pp. 428. THE endeavours of tiose who have sought to improve the
practice of medicine by applying to it facts or principles discovered in any other branches of physical science, or even by the introduction of any subtile refinements of investigation into morbid physiology and pathology, have hitherto been attended by no very decided success. An atiempt of this kind is made in the present work of Dr. Blackall; and in a forn, which is at least sufficient to excite our attention, and to induce the medical world to submit to the test of further experience the observations which it contains: but the concurrent testimony of such experience, in the hands of various practitioners, is obviously required, before