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del fuoco,' &c.) as strikingly illustrative of the state of Florence, of the character of its principal inhabitants, and of the factions which disturbed it. Even in this cold and phlegmatic climate we have frequent reason to deplore the mournful effects of party-spirit; yet we have no idea of political attachments and hatred, such as enfamed the ardent souls of the Italian republicans.
The shade of Farinata (who, when living, was distinguished for his moderation in the cause with which he was engaged, and for a spirit of patriotism which sometimes placed him in opposition to the violent and baneful designs of his own party) is supposed, by the poet, to taunt him with the defeat of the Guelphs. If they were beaten,' returns Dante,' they knew how to recover what they lost; an art which your friends have not yet acquired.' This reflection,' replies the unhappy ghost, torments me even more than the pains of hell which I endure.'
• Ciò mi tormenta più, che questo letto.' * However, he adds, with a malignant satisfaction, before the mistress of these regions (the moon) shall have fifty times rekindled her face, you also will have learned how difficult is that art.'
In this the poet alludes to the factions of the Neri and Bianchi, which broke out in Tuscany within a few years after the second expulsion of the Gibelins from Florence, and, in the beginning of the 14th century, divided the Guelphs in every city where they possessed the ascendancy. Two parties could not long subsist together under the same government with such a spirit as animated the factions of Italy. The Bianchi (to whom Dante was attached) were expelled by their rivals from Florence, and many among them threw themselves into the arms of their hitherto implacable enemies the Gibelins. Dante himself does not appear to have engaged in any political affairs subsequently to his expulsion. He acted a more patriotic part by submitting to his fate, and composed, in his exile, that extraordinary and magnificent poem which has exalted his reputation very high above that of the age iu which he lived, even (in the opinion of many competent judges) to à superiority over all the Italian poets who have succeeded him.
The expedition of the Emperor Henry the Seventh into Italy, in the years 1311 and 1312, which re-united the scattered forces of the Gibelins, and threatened the rival faction with the most imminent dangers, first extended the views of Florence beyond the narrow limits of Tuscany, and taught her to feel her own importance as the protectress of that cause, now the cause of national independence, throughout Italy. She even endeavoured to engage the courts of France and of Avignon in a league to oppose the aggrandisement of a power which might, in time, become dangerous to the liberties
of other nations as well as Italy; and she appears, as our author remarks, to have been the first to conceive the existence of ties by which all the members of the European commonwealth ought to be united, and of that balance of powers which ought to ensure the independence of all.'
One of the most striking peculiarities in the historical character of this extraordinary people is that, at the very time of the formation of their political grandeur, their military spirit had entirely forsaken them. Sages and heroes in counsel, they henceforward committed the execution of their noble designs, the actual defence of those liberties which appeared to be dearer to them than existence, to mercenary bands. The profession of arms was considered as degrading to the condition of a free citizen; and Florence, during the fourteenth century, presents to the world the singular spectacle of the highest possible degree of political firmness and constancy, combined with the total absence of all military virtue, of all physical courage. When it is farther considered that this spectacle was exhibited in an age, during which, in every other country of Europe, the reputation for personal strength and valour was at its highest pitch; in that age which was rendered illustrious by the victories of Crecy and Poîtiers, by the various deeds of arms which Froissart has delighted to celebrate, and by the chivalrous character of the two first princes of the House of Luxembourg, who swayed the imperial sceptre, it must be considered as one of the most extraordinary phænomena in the history of the human race.
Early in the fourteenth century, the celebrated Castruccio Castraccani commenced his career of military greatness. His ambitious prospects certainly extended to, and perhaps were not bounded by, the sovereignty of Italy; and for a considerable time the Florentines were left almost alone to contend with him in the plenitude of his power. They contended successfully; and the period of Castruccio's death, is, perhaps, that of their greatest political splendour. Their national character at this epoch forms a subject of pleasing contemplation.
• Une nouvelle époque de grandeur et de gloire commença, pour la république florentine, à la mort de Castruccio; du moment où Florence fut délivrée de ce redoutable ennemi, elle domina sur tout le reste de l'italie, par la vigueur de ses conseils et la profondeur de sa politique. Toujours prête à protéger les foibles et les opprimés, toujours prête à opposer aux usurpateurs une résistance indomptable, la seigneujie de Florence se considera comme gardienne de la balance politique de l'Italie, et spécialement chargée de conserver aux souveraines leur indépendance, aux peuples des gouvernemens de leur choix,
. Il faut chercher dans le caractère même d'une nation, les motifs de la conduite habituelle de son gouvernement, surtout s'il est démocratique. Les qualités distinctives des Florentins les rendoient propres au rôle brillant dont ils se chargèrent, et l'Athènes de l'Italie rapelle celle de la Grèce, autant par le génie de son peuple, que par les chefsd'auvre qu'on lui vit produire.
Le Florentin étoit reconnu pour avoir l'esprit le plus délié parmi tous les peuples de l'Italie; dans la societé il étoit railleur et saisissoit avec vivacité le ridicule; dans les affaires, sa perspicacité lui faisoit découvrir avant les autres la voie la plus courte pour arriver à son but, et apprécier mieux les avantages et les inconvéniens de chaque parti; dans la politique, il devinoit les projets de ses ennemis, il prévoyoit de bonne heure la suite de lears actions et la marche des événemens. Cependant, son caractère étoit plus ferme, et sa conduite plus mesurée qu'une telle vivacité d'esprit n'auroit pu le faire supposer. Il étoit lent à se déterminer, il n'entreprenoit les choses hazardeuses qu'après une mûre délibération; et lorsqu'il s'étoit engagé, il persistoit dans ses déterminations, avec une constance inébranlable, malgré des échecs inattendus. Dans la littérature, le Florentin réunissoit la vivacité à la force du raisonnement, la gaîté à la philosophie, et la plaisanterie aux plus hautes méditations. La profondeur du caractère avoit conservé chez lui l'enthousiame, et la raillerie avoit formé le goût; la. sévérité du public, contre le ridicule, avoit établi sur les lettres et les arts une législation non moins sévère. Tom. v. p. 169.
Besides Henry the Seventh, and Castruccio, Florence had, during the course of this century, to make head in the same noble causes against three equally formidable enemies, each of which had advanced even nearer than either of the former towards the accomplishment of his ambitious purpose. Mastino della Scala, lord of Verona ; Ladislaus, king of Naples, and John Galeas Visconti, the first duke of Milan, all of them, at different periods, affected the dominion of Italy, and all of them pressed forward to the accomplishment of their designs with forces, before which, in a merely military view, the power of the Florentine republic must have crumbled into dust. In
every one of these cases, it is to the wisdom and energy, and extensive political combinations of that republic, that the preservation of the liberties of Italy is alone, under Providence, to be attributed.
Though the spirit of party must be acknowledged to have first engendered this noble flame, and though the earliest exertions of the Florentines, in the cause of independence, must be traced rather to the hatred of Guelph and Gibellin, than to a pure and disinterested sense of patriotism; yet their history, during the fourteenth century, properly exaniined, affords sufficient evidence that the sacred Aame was kept alive by a far nobler fuel than that with which it first was kindled. The distinction of party still sub
sisted, and the hatred which animated them was not extinguished; yet we behold the Guelphs of Florence forming a league with the very heads of the Gibelin faction, to overthrow the military tyranny of the free companies, endeavouring to unite all the principal members of either denomination, in checking the progress of the Pope himself, when his legates had bound the free cities of Ro-, mania in fetters; and rejecting, with true republican haughtiness, at the moment of their greatest need, the protection of the king of France, which they thought would have been too dearly purchased even by the nominal recognition of a seignorial supremacy.
We regret that it becomes necessary for us now to quit the subject. Enough, we trust, has been said to prove that the History of Italy, properly treated, (and we think it is properly treated by M. Sismondi,) throws uo such obstructions as are generally imagined, in the way of the reader. By this mode of management, the republics of Florence and Milan, present strong rallying points, sufficient to preserve the unity of interest; while we gain enough of the history of all the other states of Italy, from their necessary connection with the principal object. If there is any interruption in the harmony of the design, it is that which is occasioned by tracing the rise and progress of the maritime republics, which (especially that of Venice) had little counection with the rest of Italy, and no perceptible influence 'upou her general politics till near the period when Italy berself was enslaved, and those very republics were only left to tell the story of her departed liberties.
Our high opinion of the author of this work may be collected from many of our remarks. The only observation that remains for us to make regards his style, in which he appears to have oco casionally sacrificed solidity and clearness to false refinement, and occasionally also to have been somewhat too sparing of the labour of. revision. But these faults would but slighily detract, did they even more frequently occur, from the merits of a work which possesses so many indisputable claims on the gratitude of the public.
ART. XI. Irish Melodies, with Words, by Thomas Moore, Esq.
Four Numbers. Power, Strand.
our track to review a series of poems published with music; because, as they bear the name of Mr. Moore, it will at once be perceived that they can have no affinity to those well-bred effusions, which Lauretta and Rosabella are perpetually prevailing upon their music masters to print with a tune.
Nothing can be more satisfactorily explained than the high de gree of honour acquired by the lyric bards of antiquity. Their poetry had not only sublimity and beauty to strike the soul and win the affections, but enjoyed the farther benefit of musical accompaniments, admirably suited to fan the animation whcih they kindled. When to this we add the occasions on which the lyrical compositions of the Greeks were usually exhibited, at sacred festivals and public rejoicings, where the splendour and solemnity, the bustle and pride of the scene, concurred to awaken the strongest emotions of taste and patriotism, we shall not wonder that, among so susceptible and polished a people, the odes and chorusses of their great poets were regarded with an enthusiasm at once affectionate and ardent. And, as the elevation of one branch of a family frequently exalts the others, the glory belonging to the sublimer classes of lyric poetry reflected its lustre on those slighter effusions which were allied to them by their common connection with music.
But the changes of manners have wrought correspondent revolutions in taste. The impatience of fashion will endure no piece of music which has not the recommendation of brevity, whatever be the merit of the poetry connected with it. Few odes, therefore, are now set to music; so that the greatest part of what is called lyric poetry in the works of the chief modern writers is no longer lyric except in its name, having avowedly been written, not to be accompanied by music, but simply to be read. Indeed it was not to be expected that men of genius, accustomed to classic and canonized forms, would often be found willing to curtail their compositions for the sake of musical accompaniment; so little has usually been the reputation attached to the shorter effusions of poetry.
We conceive that song-writing has sunk in popular estimation far below its just level; but we can scarcely wonder at it, when we contemplate the demerits of those who, through a long 'succession of years, have addicted themselves to the polite art of making canzonets for the young ladies of their acquaintance. These well-meaning persons, we fear, have brought discredit upon the muse who has been so unfortunate as to obtain their partiality; and thus, probably, it has happened that lyric poetry has lost so much of its ancient honour. Its character and consequence have been appraised in the gross, and the few good poets overlooked or confounded in the multitude of pretenders.
This undiscriminating depreciation is, in truth, an error much more important than at first sight it may appear; not only as taste is concerned, but as national character may be affected. We do not mean to insist upon the influence which poetry has actually had in forming or improving the minds or mavners of the English people;