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blance of liberty, or the portion of it which may for a time be possessed by an ochlocracy, must ere long give place to some more stable form of government; and happy, strangely happy, is that democratic Republic which falls under anything short of a simple and oppressive despotism; we cannot call to mind any instance of so fortunate a lot. The liberties of Florence succumbed through the showy virtues of a succession of great citizens to the base and imbecile tyranny of their descendants; and the house of the Medici in due time was compelled to resign its ill-gotten and illused authority to the present family, of whom it is difficult to speak in too high terms.

Returning from this anticipatory summary of events, many of which we shall not be able to notice at greater length, let us survey once more the earlier phases of Florentine existence, and give a few extracts which may show that Italian daily life, both private and public, was in the middle ages that wild, and strange, and romantic thing which poets picture and ladies dream; though full of faults, it may prove a relief from considerations of the three Destinies of modern days. Yes, unpoetic as our philosophers and economists may be, they have their three Destinies-Pounds, Shillings, and Pence.

"In the year 1215, according to an ancient manuscript published from the Buondelmonti Library, Messer Mazzingo Tegrini de' Mazzinghi invited many Florentines of high rank to dine at his villa near Campi, about six miles from the capital; while still at table the family jester snatched a trencher of meat from Messer Uberto degli Infangati, who, nettled at this impertinence, expressed his displeasure in terms so offensive, that Messer Oddo Arrighi de' Fifanti as sharply and unceremoniously rebuked him : upon this Uberto gave him the lie, and Oddo, in return, dashed a trencher of meat in his face. Every thing was immediately in confusion; weapons were soon out, and while the guests started up in disorder, young Buondelmonte de' Buondelmonti, the friend and companion of Uberto, severely wounded Oddo Arrighi. The party then separated, and Oddo called a meeting of his friends to consider the offence; amongst them were the Counts Gangalandi, the Uberti, Amidei, and Lamberti, who unanimously decided that the quarrel should be quietly settled by a marriage between Buondelmonte and Oddo's niece, the daughter of Messer Lambertuccio di Capo di Ponte, of the Amidei family. This proposition appears to have been unhesitatingly accepted by the offender's family, and a day was immediately nominated for the ceremony of plighting his troth to the destined bride.


During the interim, Madonna Aldruda or Gualdrada, wife of Forese de' Donati, sent privately for young Buondelmonte and thus addressed him: Unworthy knight! What! Hast thou accepted a wife through fear of the Fifanti and Uberti ?—Leave her that thou hast taken, choose this damsel in her place, and be henceforth a brave and honoured gentle

man.' In so saying, she threw open the chamber door and exposed her daughter to his view: the unexpected apparition of so much beauty, as it were soliciting his love, had its usual consequence. Buondelmonte's

better reason was overcome, yet he had resolution to answer, Alas! It is now too late!'-'No,' replied Aldruda, 'thou canst even yet have her; dare but to take the step, and let the consequences rest on my head.' —' I do dare,' returned the fascinated youth, and stepping forward, again plighted a faith no longer his to give.

"Early on the 10th of February, the very day appointed for his original nuptials, Buondelmonte passed by the Porta Santa Maria amidst all the kinsfolk of his first betrothed, who had assembled near the dwellings of the Amidei to assist at the expected marriage, yet not without certain misgivings of his faithlessness. With a haughty

demeanour he rode forward through them all, bearing the marriage ring to the lady of his choice, and leaving her of the Amidei with the shame of an aggravated insult by the choosing the same moment for a violation of one contract and the consummation of a second; for in those days, and for centuries after, the old Roman custom of presenting a ring long before the marriage ceremony took place was still in use.

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"Such insults were then impatiently borne. Oddo Arrighi assembled his kindred in the no longer existing church of Santa Maria sopra Porta,' to settle the mode of resenting this affront, and the moody aspect of each individual marked the character of the meeting and all the vindictive feeling of an injured family. There were, however, some of a more temperate spirit, that suggested personal chastisement, or, at most, the gashing of Buondelmonte's face as the most reasonable and effectual retribution. The assembly paused, but Mosca de' Lamberti, starting suddenly forward, exclaimed, Beat or wound him as ye list, but first prepare your own graves, for wounds bring equal consequences with death. No! mete him out his deserts and let him pay the penalty; but no delay, Up and be doing. Cominciamo a fare, ché poi, cosa fatto capo ha.'

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"This turned the scale, and Buondelmonte was doomed, but according to the manners of that age, not in the field, which would have been hazardous, but by the sure though inglorious means of noonday murder; wherefore at the very place where the insult was offered, beneath the battlements of the Amidei, nay, under the casement of the deserted maiden, and in his way to a happy expecting bride, vengeance was prepared by those fierce barons for the perjurer.

"On Easter morning, 1215, the murderers concealed themselves within the courts and towers of the Amidei, which the young and heedless bridegroom was soon to pass, and he was soon after seen at a distance carelessly riding alone across the Ponte Vecchio, on a milkwhite palfrey, attired in a vest of white woollen cloth, a white mantle thrown across his shoulders, and the wedding garland on his head. The bridge was passed in thoughtless gaiety, but scarcely had he reached the time-worn image of the Roman Mars, the last relic of heathen worship then extant, when the mace of Schiatto degli Uberti felled him to the ground; and at the base of this grim idol the daggers of Oddo

and his furious kinsmen finished the savage deed; they met him gay and adorned for the altar, and left him with the bridal wreath still dangling from his brow, a bloody and ill-omened sacrifice. The tidings of this murder spread rapidly, and disordered the whole community of Florence; the people became more and more excited, because both law; and custom had awarded due penalties for faithless men, and death was an unheard of punishment.

"Buondelmonte's corpse was placed on a bier, with its head resting in the lap of his affianced bride, the young and beautiful Donati, who hung like a lily over the pallid features of her husband, and thus united were they borne through the streets of Florence. It was the gloomy dawning of a tempestuous day, for in that bloody moment was unchained the demon of Florentine discord; the names of Guelf and Ghibeline were then for the first time assumed by noble and commoner as the cry of faction, and long after the original cause of enmity had ceased, they continued to steep all Italy in blood.”—Vol. i. pp. 188—


However peculiar and characteristic of an age of violence, and a nation of romance, this tale may be, our readers will scarcely enter into the state of feeling which could embroil two powerful and friendly states in war, for the sake of a lapdog. We should have expected that the stern republicans of renovating Italy would have left such brawls for weak women or depraved courtiers, the scions of a luxurious aristocracy, or the minions of an effeminate court. But no; human nature is the same every where, when unenlightened by philosophy or religion-the same in inward reality whatever variations it may show on the surface-and the heirs as well as the votaries of republican institutions furnish us, by their own conduct, with ample proof that their idolized principles do not raise them too far above the level of common humanity, too far, we mean, for the gaze of such mere mortal royalists as ourselves; whether it be from a kind consideration for the weakness of their brethren, or from a desire to attract the sympathy of those who might be repelled by the display of too stern a virtue, too unerring a judgment, too keen a sense of right and wrong.

From whatever cause it happens, certain it is, that if the poor misguided monarchist does, whilst hearing the harangues of the noble-hearted democrat, feel convinced of his own darkness of reason and vileness of heart, he has only to turn from the words of his eloquent instructor to his actions, to derive a store of inexhaustible comfort for his wounded spirit. Does he hear of the expensive nature of regal government, and the economy of free institutions? He has but to compare the expenditure of Pisistratus with that of Cleon-the taxes levied by Charles I. with

those imposed by William of Orange. Does he stand abashed as the republican points out to him the immense size of the armies of kings? He has but to place in two columns, side by side, the army lists of Louis Philippe and his pacific successors. Does he quail under the glance of the Chartist orator, as he dwells on the folly, the luxury, the petulance of a feeble and selfish oligarchy, on the whims of kings that have deluged nations with blood, and the private piques of favourites that have ruined mighty states? Let him read the sad tale of the Cardinal's Lapdog:

"At his coronation ambassadors were present with magnificent retinues of distinguished gentlemen and their retainers, from all the Italian states, and amongst these the Florentine and Pisan embassies were conspicuous. The two republics were then at peace, but a silly misunderstanding at a private entertainment is said to have caused those wars which, after centuries of mischief, only ended in the second and final subjection of Pisa, when Florence, herself exhausted, was almost at the termination of her race as an independent city.

"It happened that a certain Roman cardinal invited the Florentine ambassadors to his house, where one of them, struck with the beauty of a little dog belonging to their host, begged it as a present: next day the Pisan embassy was feasted, and the dog, already promised to the Florentine, attracted equal admiration; a similar request followed, and the cardinal forgetting his previous engagement, answered it as graciously. Scarcely had the guests departed when the animal was sent for by the Florentine ambassador; then came the Pisan messenger, but all too late. The two dignitaries met, restitution of the dog was immediately demanded and as decidedly refused: sharp altercation ensued, swords were soon drawn, and an affray succeeded in which the Pisans overcame by their superior numbers. The manners of the age, however, did not admit of such a termination, both Florentine factions united against the Pisans, and even volunteers from the capital came to the aid of the former; the affair had now become serious, almost national, and the Florentines took ample revenge. The Pisan ambassadors complained to their government, and their haughty countrymen trusting to great naval power and consequent influence on the trade of Florence, seized all the merchandise of that state which was within their grasp, and refused any satisfaction, while the latter carried its forbearance to a point of humiliation that proves the great importance of its commercial relations with Pisa. The Florentines offered to take an equal number of bales of tow, or any other rubbish, however vile, in lieu of the goods, and afterwards indemnify their own merchants, so that some shadow of satisfaction might be exhibited to the world for the sake of national reputation; adding, that if this also failed their ancient friendship must cease, and war be the only alternative. If the Florentines march we will endeavour to meet them half-way,' was the contemptuous

4 That of Frederic II.

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answer of Pisa. War was therefore declared, and in July the armies met at Castel del Bosco, in the Pisan territory, Florence being probably assisted by Lucca, as the Lucchese historians assert; for it may be doubted whether the former at that early period could have ventured alone to war with so powerful an adversary. A long and bloody battle ending in the total defeat of Pisa, satisfied the honour and soothed the pride of Florence, while thirteen hundred prisoners, including the greater part of the Pisan nobility, convinced the people that this victory was a palpable instance of Divine retribution for the arrogance and injustice of their adversaries."-Vol. i. pp. 198-200.

But whatever were the follies or the faults of the Florentines, their merits were in many ways transcendent, their high and undaunted spirit, their ardent, though in some degree unenlightened, love of freedom, their wise policy and merciful conduct, these are enough to immortalize them even had neither the awful Dante nor the gentle Petrarca sprung from their race-even had the sculptors and painters, the historians and philosophers of Florence never lived.

By their high and undaunted spirit, they struggled through difficulties which would have overpowered a feebler race; their love of freedom was both the proof and the parent of every manly excellence; by their wise policy they admitted to all the rights of citizenship the people of the towns or districts which they gradually conquered, thus making every fresh acquisition an integral portion of the state, and by their merciful conduct in the moment of victory they have left a name behind them which it is painfully difficult to match in the history of civilized man.

One instance' of this last merit we cannot avoid citing from the first volume of the work before us, long as we have lingered amongst its pages. At the siege of Semifonte, a revolted town, great courage was shown on both sides; every exertion had been made by the Florentine consul to ensure success, his reputation was at stake, for he had been commanded to leave the place if it did not surrender within a given time: he however persisted in defiance of his orders. Often had the attack been made and repelled. At length he determined to risk every thing on one general assault :

".... the storm raged in every quarter: shouts, groans, the crash of ladders, and the fall of steel-clad men, echoed through the streets of Semifonte; the besieged were thinned, faint and exhausted; and could no longer defend the weary circuit of their lines: the enemy kept bringing up fresh forces at every moment with louder shouts and more stirring cheers, until the failing strength of the garrison sank under their gallant efforts; yet at this very moment, old men, women, and even children rushed desperately to the fight, and flying parties hurried from

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