enjoyed a day of quiet! Rome attempted at first to extinguish the author with his work; all the books were seized on; and copies of the first edition are of extreme rarity. To escape the fangs of inquisitorial power, the historian of Naples flew from Naples on the publication of his immortal work. The fugitive and excommunicated author sought an asylum at Vienna, where, though he found no friend in the emperor, prince Eugene, and other nobles became his patrons. Forced to quit Vienna, he retired to Venice, when a new persecution arose from the jealousy of the stateinquisitors, who one night landed him on the borders of the pope's dominions. Escaping unexpectedly with his life to Geneva, he was preparing a supplemental volume to his celebrated history, when, enticed by a treacherous friend to a catholic village, GIANNONE was arrested by an order of the king of Sardinia ; his manuscripts were sent to Rome, and the historian imprisoned in a fort. It is curious that the imprisoned GIANNONE wrote a vindication of the rights of the king of Sardinia, against the claims of the court of Rome. This powerful appeal to the feelings of this sovereign was at first favourably received; but, under the secret influence of Rome, the Sardinian monarch, on the extraordinary plea that he kept Giannone as a prisoner of state that he might preserve him from the papal power, ordered that the vindicator of his rights should be more closely confined than before! and, for this purpose, transferred his state - prisoner to the Citadel of Turin, where, after twelve years of persecution and of agitation, our great historian closed his life!

Such was the fate of this historical martyr, whose work the catholic Haym describes as operd scritta con molto fuoco e troppa libertà. He hints that this History is only paralleled by De Thou's great work. This Italian history will ever be ranked among the most philosophical. But, profound as was the masculine genius of GIANNONE; such was his love of fame, that he wanted the intrepidity requisite to deny himself the delight of giving his history to the world, though some of his great predecessors had set him a noble and dignified example. · One more observation on these Italian historians. All of them represent man in his darkest colours; their drama is terrific; the actors are

monsters of perfidy, of inhumanity, and inventors of crimes which seem to want a pame! They were all“ princes of darkness ;” and the age seemed to afford a triumph to Manicheism! The worst passions were called into play by all parties: But if something is to be ascribed to the manners of the times, much more may be traced to that science of politics, which sought for mastery in an undefinable struggle of ungovernable political power; in the remorseless ambition of the despots, and the hatreds and jealousies of the republics. These Italian historians have formed a perpetual satire on the contemptible simulation and dissimulation, and the inexpiable crimes of that system of politics, which has derived a name from one of themselves--the great, may we add, the calumniated, MACHIAVEL?



OUR ministers and court favourites, as well as those on the continent, practised a very impolitical custom, and one likely to be repeated, although it has never failed to cast a popular odium on their name, exciting even the envy

of their equals—in the erection of PALACES for themselves, which outvied those of the sovereign; and which, to the eyes of the populace, appeared as a perpetual and insolent exhibition of what they deemed the ill-earned wages of peculation, oppression, and court-favour. We discover the seduction of this passion for ostentation, this haughty sense of their power, and this selfidolatry, even among the most prudent and the wisest of our ministers; and not one but lived to lament over this vain act of imprudence. To these ministers the noble simplicity of Pitt will ever form an admirable contrast ; while his personal character, as a statesman, descends to posterity, unstained by calumny.

The houses of Cardinal Wolsey appear to have exceeded the palaces of the sovereign in magni

pomp, the

ficence; and potent as he was in all the pride of

“great Cardinal” found rabid envy pursuing him so close at his heels, that he relinquished one palace after the other, and gave up as gifts to the monarch, what, in all his overgrown greatness, he trembled to retain for himself. The state satire of that day was often pointed at this very circumstance, as appears in Skelton's "

Why come ye not to Court ?" and Roy's “Rede me, and be not wrothe.” Skelton's railing rhymes leave their bitter teeth in his purple pride; and the style of both these satirists, if we use our own orthography, shows how little the language of the common people has varied during three centuries.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »