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Character and Coronation of Petrarch. Restoration of the Freedom

and Government of Rome by the Tribune Rienzi. His Virtues and Vices, his Expulsion and Death. Return of the Popes from Avignon. Great Schism of the West. - Re-union of the Latin Church. Last Struggles of Roman Liberty. Statutes of Rome. Final Settlement of the Ecclesiastical State.

In the apprehension of modern times, Petrarch is the Petrarch, Italian songster of Laura and love. In the harmony of June 19 -his Tuscan rhymes, Italy applauds, or rather adores, the July 19. father of her lyric poetry; and his verse, or at least his name, is repeated by the enthusiasm, or affectation, of amorous sensibility. Whatever may be the private taste of a stranger, his slight and superficial knowledge should humby acquiesce in the judgment of a learned nation ; yet I may hope or presume, that the Italians do not compare the tedious uniformity of sonnets and elegies with the sublime compositions of their epic muse, the original wildness of Dante, the regular beauties of Tasso, and the boundless variety of the incomparable Ariosto. The merits of the lover I am still less qualified to appreciate: nor am I deeply interested in a metaphysical passion for a nymph so shadowy, that her existence has been questioned ?; for a matron so prolific ", that she was delivered of eleven legitimate children“, while her amorous swain sighed and

| The Mémoires sur la vie de François Pétrarque (Amsterdam, 1764, 1767, 3 vols. in 4to.) form a copious, original, and entertaining work, a labour of love, composed from the accurate study of Petrarch and his contemporaries; but the hero is too often lost in the general history of the age, and the author too often languishes in the affectation of politeness and gallantry. In the preface to his first volume, he enumerates and weighs twenty Italian biographers, who have professedly treated of the same subject.

9 The allegorical interpretation prevailed in the xvth century; but the wise commentators were not agreed whether they should understand by Laura, religion, or virtue, or the blessed virgin, or

See the prefaces to the first and second volume.

3 Laure de Noves, born about the year 1.307, was married in January, 1925, to Hugues de Sade, a noble citizen of Avignon, whose jealousy was not the effect of love, since he married a second wife within seven months of her death, which happened the 6th of April, 1348, precisely one-and-twenty years after Petrarch had seen and loved her.

+ Corpus crebis partubus exhaustum : from one of these is issued, in the tenth degree, the abbé de Sade, the fond and grateful biographer of Petrarch; and this domestic motive most probably suggested the idea of his work, and urged him to

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which was presented to Betrarch, the title and prerogatives of poet-laureat are revived in the Capitol, after the lapse of thirteen hundred years; and he receives the perpetual privilege of wearing, at his choice, a crown of laurel, ivy, or myrtle, of assuming the poetic habit, and of teaching, disputing, interpreting, and composing, in all places whatsoever, and on all subjects of literature. The grant was ratified by the authority of the senate and people ; and the character of citizen was the recompence of his affection for the Roman name. They did him honour, but they did him justice. In the familiar society of Cicero and Livy, he had imbibed the ideas of an ancient patriot; and his ardent fancy kindled every idea to a sentiment, and every sentiment to a passion. The aspect of the seven hills and their majestic ruins confirmed these lively impressions; and he loved a country by whose liberal spirit he had been crowned and adopted. The poverty and debasement of Rome excited the indignation and pity of her grateful son ; he dissembled the faults of his fellow-citizens ; applauded with partial fondness the last of their heroes and matrons; and in the remembrance of the past, in the hopes of the future, was pleased to forget the miseries of the present time. Rome was still the lawful mistress of the world: the pope and the emperor, the bishop and general, had abdicated their station by an inglorious retreat to the Rhône and the Danube; but if she could resume her virtue, the republic might again vindicate her liberty and dominion. Amidst the indulgence of enthusiasm and eloquence 15, Petrarch, Italy, and Europe, were astonished by a revolution which realised for a moment his most splendid visions. The rise and fall of the tribune Rienzi will occupy the following pages 16: the subject is interesting, the materials are rich, and the glance of a patriot bard' will sometimes vivify the copious, but simple, narrative of the Florentinels, and more especially of the Roman", historian. .

15 To find the proofs of his enthusiasm for Rome, I need only request that the reader would open, by chance, either Petrarch, or his French biographer. The latter has described the poet's first visit to Rome (tom. i. p. 323–385.). But in the place of much idle rhetoric and morality, Petrarch might have amused the present and future age with an original account of the city and his coronation.

16 It has been treated by the pen of a Jesuit, the P. de Cerceau, whose posthumous work (Conjuration de Nicolas Gabrini, dit de Rienzi, Tyran de Rome, en 1347) was published at Paris, 1748, in 12mo. I am indebted to him for some facts and documents in John Hocsemius, canon of Liege, a contemporary historian (Fabricius, Bibliot, Lat. med. Ævi, tom. iii. p. 273. tom. iv. p. 85.).

17 The abbé de Sade, who so freely expatiates on the history of the xivth century, might treat, as his proper subject, a revolution in which the heart of Petrarch was so deeply engaged (Mémoires, tom. ii. p. 50, 51. 320——417. notes, p. 70–76. tom, üi. p. 221-243. 366-375.). Not an idea or a fact in the writings of Petrarch has probably escaped him.

18 Giovanni Villani, l. xii. c. 89. 104. in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, tom. xiii. p. 969, 970. 981–983.

19 In his third volume of Italian Antiquities (p. 249–548.), Muratori has inserted

In a quarter of the city which was inhabited only by Birth, chamechanics and Jews, the marriage of an innkeeper and a patriotic washerwoman produced the future deliverer of Rome. 20 † Rienzi. From such parents Nicholas Rienzi Gabrini could inherit neither dignity nor fortune; and the gift of a liberal education, which they painfully bestowed, was the cause of his glory and untimely end. The study of history and eloquence, the writings of Cicero, Seneca, Livy, Cæsar, and Valerius Maximus, elevated above his equals and contemporaries the genius of the young plebeian : he perused with indefatigable diligence the manuscripts and marbles of antiquity; loved to dispense his knowledge in familiar language; and was often provoked to exclaim, “ Where are now these “ Romans? their virtue, their justice, their power? why was I not “ born in those happy times ?” 21 When the republic addressed to the throne of Avignon an embassy of the three orders, the spirit and eloquence of Rienzi recommended him to a place among the thirteen deputies of the commons.

the Fragmenta Historiæ Romanæ ab Anno 1327 usque ad Annum 1354, in the original dialect of Rome or Naples in the xivth century, and a Latin version for the benefit of strangers. It contains the most particular and authentic life of Cola (Nicholas) di Rienzi; which had been printed at Bracciano, 1627, in 4to., under the name of Tomaso Fortifiocca, who is only mentioned in this work as having been punished by the tribune for forgery. Human nature is scarcely capable of such sublime or stupid impartiality : but whosoever is the author of these Fragments, he wrote on the spot and at the time, and paints, without design or art, the manners of Rome and the character of the tribune. *

20 The first and splendid period of Rienzi, his tribunitian government, is contained in the xviiith chapter of the Fragments (p. 399_479.), which, in the new division, forms the iid book of the history in xxxviii smaller chapters or sections.

91. The reader may be pleased with a specimen of the original idiom : Fò da soa juventutine nutricato di latte de eloquentia, bono gramatico, megliore rettuorico, autorista bravo. Deh como et quanto era veloce leitore ! moito usava Tito Livio, Seneca, et Tullio, et Balerio Massimo, moito li dilettava le magnificentie di Julio Cesare raccontare, Tutta la die se speculava negl' intagli di marmo lequali iaccio intorno Roma. Non era altri che esso, che sapesse lejere li antichi pataffii. Tutte scritture antiche vulgarizzava ; quesse fiure di marmo justamente interpretava. Oh come spesso diceva, “ Dove suono quelli buoni Romani ? dove ene loro somma justitia? poleramme trovare “ in tempo che quessi fiuriano!”

* Since the publication of my first appeared, but a copy made by Pelzel for edition of Gibbon some new and very his own use is now in the library of Count remarkable documents have been brought Thun at Teschen. There seems no doubt to light in a life of Nicolas Rienzi, — Cola of their authenticity. Dr. Papencordt di Rienzo und seine Zeit, — by Dr. Felix has printed the whole in his Urkunden, Papencordt. The most important of these with the exception of one long theological documents are letters from Rienzi to paper. — M. 1845, Charles the Fourth, emperor and king of † But see in Dr. Papencordt's work, Bohemia, and to the archbishop of Prague; and in Rienzi's own words, his claim to be they enter into the whole history of his a bastard son of the emperor Henry the adventurous career during its first period, Seventh, whose intrigue with his mother and throw a strong light upon his extra- Rienzi relates with a sort of proud shameordinary character. These documents lessness. Compare account by the editor were first discovered and made use of, to of Dr. Papencordt's work in Quarterly a certain extent, by Pelzel, the historian Review, vol. Ixix.-M. 1845. of Bohemia. The originals have dis

The orator had the honour of haranguing pope Clement the Sixth, and the satisfaction of conversing with Petrarch, a congenial mind: but his aspiring hopes were chilled by disgrace and poverty; and the patriot was reduced to a single garment and the charity of the hospital. From this misery he was relieved by the sense of merit or the smile of favour; and the employment of apostolic notary afforded him a daily stipend of five gold florins, a more honourable and extensive connection, and the right of contrasting, both in words and actions, his own integrity with the vices of the state. The eloquence of Rienzi was prompt and persuasive: the multitude is always prone to envy and censure: he was stimulated by the loss of a brother and the impunity of the assassins; nor was it possible to excuse or exaggerate the public calamities. The blessings of peace and justice, for which civil society has been instituted, were banished from Rome: the jealous citizens, who might have endured every personal or pecuniary injury, were most deeply wounded in the dishonour of their wives and daughters 22: they were equally oppressed by the arrogance of the nobles and the corruption of the magistrates t; and the abuse of arms or of laws was the only circumstance that distinguished the lions, from the dogs and serpents, of the Capitol. These allegorical emblems were variously repeated in the pictures which Rienzi exhibited in the streets and churches; and while the spectators gazed with curious wonder, the bold and ready orator unfolded the meaning, applied the satire, inflamed their passions, and announced a distant hope of comfort and deliverance. The privileges of Rome, her eternal sovereignty over her princes and provinces, was the theme of his public and private discourse; and a monument of servitude became in his hands a title and incentive of liberty. The decree of the senate, which granted the most ample prerogatives to the emperor Vespasian, had been inscribed on a copper-plate still extant in the choir of the church of St. John Lateran. 23 A numerous assembly of nobles and plebeians was invited to this political lecture, and a convenient theatre was erected for their reception. The notary appeared in a magnificent and mysterious habit, explained the inscription by a version and commentary 24, and descanted with eloquence and zeal on the ancient glories of the senate and people, from whom all legal authority was derived. The supine ignorance of the nobles was incapable of discerning the serious tendency of such representations : they might sometimes chastise with words and blows the plebeian reformer ; but he was often suffered in the Colonna palace to amuse the company with his threats and predictions, and the modern Brutus 25 was concealed under the mask of folly and the character of a buffoon. While they indulged their contempt, the restoration of the good estate, his favourite expression, was entertained among the people as a desirable, a possible, and at length as an approaching, event; and while all had the disposition to applaud, some had the courage to assist, their promised deliverer.

* Petrarch compares the jealousy of the Romans, with the easy temper of the husbands of Avignon (Mémoires, tom. i. p. 330.).

23 The fragments of the Lex regia may be found in the Inscriptions of Gruter, tom. i. p. 242., and at the end of the Tacitus of Ernesti, with some learned notes of the editor, tom. ii.

• Sir J. Hobhouse published (in his period to the Archbishop of Prague, atIllustrations of Childe Harold) Rienzi's tributed to the criminal abandonment of joyful letter to the people of Rome, on the his flock by the supreme pontiff. See Urapparently favourable termination of this kunde apud Papencordt, p. xliv. Quarmission. - M. 1845.

terly Review, p. 355.-M. 1845. † All this Rienzi, writing at a later

A prophecy, or rather a summons, affixed on the church door of St. George, was the first public evidence of his the governdesigns; a nocturnal assembly of an hundred citizens on MOD. 1347, Mount Aventine, the first step to their execution. After May 20, ; an oath of secrecy and aid, he represented to the conspirators the importance and facility of their enterprise; that the nobles, without union or resources, were strong only in the fear of their imaginary strength; that all power, as well as right, was in the hands of the people; that the revenues of the apostolical chamber might relieve the public distress; and that the pope himself would approve their victory over the common enemies of government and freedom. After securing a faithful band to protect his first declaration, he proclaimed through the city, by sound of trumpet, that on the evening of the following day all persons should assemble without

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24 I cannot overlook a stupendous and laughable blunder of Rienzi. The Lex regia empowers Vespasian to enlarge the Pomarium, a word familiar to every antiquary. It was not so to the tribune; he confounds it with pomarium, an orchard, translates lo Jardino de Roma cioene Italia, and is copied by the less excusable ignorance of the Latin translator (p. 406.), and the French historian (p. 33.). Even the learning of Muratori has slumbered over the passage.

25 Priori (Bruto) tamen similior, juvenis uterque, longe ingenio quam cujus simulationem induerat, ut sub hoc obtentû liberator ille P. R. aperiretur tempore suo . Ille regibus, hic tyrannis contemptus (Opp. p. 536.). *

• Fateor attamen quod — nunc fatuum, to an archbishop (of Prague), Rienzi nunc hystrionem, nunc gravem, nunc sim- alleges scriptural examples. Saltator coram plicem, nunc astutum, nunc fervidum, nunc archa David et insanus apparuit coram timidum simulatorem, et dissimulatorem Rege ; blanda, astuta, et tecta Judith astitit ad hunc caritativum finem, quem dixi, Holoferni; et astutè Jacob meruit benedici, constitui sepius memet ipsum. Writing Urkunde, xlix.- M. 1845.

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