Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE

GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE,

JUNE, 1831.

ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS.

ITALY AND THE ITALIANS.

ITALY, the land of the Church of the student. The ancient Romans the country where Christianity first must always in their history form a acquired a national character, the soil theme of intense curiosity to the where on a grand scale a new and reader who explores the peculiar and purer religion than the world ever distinctive features of human characsaw, became first indigenous, and ter, as displayed on the great arena of taught the doctrines of her sacred in- nations, together with the causes stitutions to the surrounding nations which push some States on to high of Europe ;—Italy, although in more eminence, while others slumber in than one period of modern history, perpetual mediocrity. The storied several of her States have, even in the narrative of their transactions and midst of intestine feuds and open hos- exploits, blazes forth with a promi. tilities, risen distinguished in art and nence and lustre in the history of in letters, – ranks at present low in the mankind which distinguishes the reintellectual sciences, and all her efforts cords of no other nation or people.for political emancipation have hitherto The soul expands whilst expatiating proved unavailing. The various causes over the lengthened series of their which have tended to produce her pre- republican history,-over their fame, sent state of degeneracy, when com ripening through centuries, and throw, pared with her former greatness, may ing the transactions of all other nabe interesting to the philosophical and tions into the shade. For the littlespeculative inquirer.

ness of comparative obscurity circles In tracing the history of nations, over the chivalric deeds of other naand the varying complexion of human tions, inasmuch as no other State with character, animosity is often arrested which history brings us acquainted, by the diverse circumstances under ever maintained so long its political which mankind at various periods of ascendancy over the nations of the the world are presented to our notice. earth. It is remarked by Boileau, while The scholar who lucubrates amidst speaking of the characters of the va the scenes and narratives of days long rious ages of life,

gone by, sees in fancied retrospect the

ample space which the empires of “ Le temps que change tout, change aussi Semiramis, Sesostris, and Cyrus, oc.

nos humeurs ; Chaque age a ses plaisirs, son esprit, et ses

cupied on the map of Asia,--although meurs.”

he may not probably credit the pro

digious “circumstance" of warlike It may be also said of the several ages operation related of the former by of the world, as exemplified in the Diodorus Siculus, who was in these history of mankind, and having espe matters guided chiefly by the authocial reference to some of its periods, rity of Ctesias the Cnidian. But the that its contrasts, as exhibited in the influence and preponderating ascendmanners, caprices, and views of its

ancy, if not the actual territorial posinhabitants, are not less striking to session of the Romans has been long him who contemplates them.

acknowledged to be without parallel In viewing, then, these contrasts, in the entire history of mankind. The that which ancient and modern Italy, terror of their arms reached much furin some of the periods of its history, ther than their actual conquests; and presents in the character of her inha

envoys from all the civilized nations bitants, must ever arrest the curiosity of the globe crowded either to do

484
Italy and the Italians.

[June, homage, or negotiate an amicable al lution of the Roman power. After the liance with a people whose military hives of barbarians, who with such renown was only equalled by the ma

perseverance struggled for the ascendtured wisdom of their policy. While ancy throughout the Western prothey introduced throughout the na vinces, had become the occupants of tions they subjugated the arts of civi. the soil, the grossest superstitions lization and the literature of Greece, were presently foisted upon the purer their magnanimity and patriotic devo precepts of the Christian faith, and tion to the interests of their country, the human mind soon became veiled protracted through centuries, and ani. in ignorance and gloom. The relimating to deeds of heroism on a grand gious orders and institutions which national scale, has no parallel in the grew with the growth of every sucannals of mankind.

cessive century, and spread themselves In periods of her modern history, particularly over the nations of Italy, alas ! *how has Italy distinguished were doubtless, in the abuses to which herself? and how in a national point they led, generative of that blindness of view does she rank at the present and superstition which to this day moment among the pations of Europe prevails to a greater extent there than and the world ? Alas! a nation of in any other country in Europe, with singers and fiddlers can never hope, the exception perhaps of Spain and by any human ingenuity, to rival the Portugal. " In this barbarous age,” dignity and grandeur which attached says Mosheim, speaking of the 7th to her name, when Rome in her re

century, " religion lay expiring under publican strength stood the proud ar a motley and enormous heap of subiter of the universe.

perstitious inventions, and had neiWhat political and moral effects, it ther the courage nor the force to raise may be asked, have Christianity in her head, or to display her native modern times had upon the people of charms to a darkened and deluded Italy? A spectator, in view of the world.” He expresses himself in sipuerile superstitions of ancient Rome, milar terms concerning the 8th cenmight have predicted amongst the mo tury; for though, as he says, Charlederns another state of things,-a moral magne seemed disposed to stem this expansion of character at least equi torrent of superstition, and opposed valent to that of any former period. the worship of images, yet profound But, alas! nothing (if we view the and grovelling ignorance, both as it whole period of their modern history) regarded religious light and the cultican stand more utterly in the teeth of vation of mind, again spread itself any such prediction, than the narra after his death through the nations of tive of those moral and religious vir the West. tues which have adorned the charac Italy was the soil from whence most ter and temperament of the modern of these perversions of reason and Italians.

common sense, as well as of religion, Constantine the Great doubtless may be said to have first emanated, supposed, when he removed the seat the head quarters of superstition and of empire to a spot which seemed to

spiritual tyranny, from which the command the riches (or the facilities alleged successors of St. Peter and of acquiring them) of Europe and their innumerable coadjutors, wove Asia, and Christianized the Roman their ingenious web of entanglement world, that the ancient vigour and for enslaving the minds and consoundness of moral temperament was sciences of all ranks of people. about to be restored.

In point of commercial greatness The history of Italy, for the last and richness, the famous maritime ten or twelve centuries, if viewed in Republics of Italy in the middle ages relation to Christianity, may almost may be said to have rivalled the anindeed in its general character be cient states of Tyre and Carthage,thought a summary of all that is anti luxury which followed in its train, Christian, All ecclesiastical histo was carried to a high excess, and even rians concur in depicting in the most the independence of its denizens was glowing characters, the frightful state often asserted and maintained. But of obliquity and declension which pre over the states of the Church, and vailed in the Church throughout Chris their dependancies, there generally tendom for many ages after the disso reigned a frightful moral gloom, which

1831.] Works of Eustace and Lady Morgan on Italy. 485 was mainly attributable, it may be most strenuously, by a variety of ilthought, to the benighting influences lustrations, and the use of argument of the doctrines propagated from the which sometimes however is any thing Vatican; and the anti-Christian ex but conclusive, to prove to the reader amples (with some bright exceptionsthat this thesis is built upon a close it is true) which were held forth by and accurate observation of Italy, as the supreme pontiffs.

she is. Mr. Eustace's rhetoric is "The history of the Roman pontiffs powerful, occasionally, but it may be that lived in the 9th century,” says thought he altogether fails when he Dr. Mosheim, " is a history of so speaks of the public spirit, pamany monsters, and not of men, and triotism," and magnanimity”. of exhibits a horrible series of the most the modern Italian states, -as (Venice flagitious, tremendous, and compli- perhaps excepted) the history of those cated crimes; as all writers, even those states will assuredly testify that they of the Romish communion, unani have in modern times fallen far below mously acknowledge.” The debasing several other European states, in each tenets taught by her priests may be of these particulars. In this " Dis. thought to have been instrumental, in sertation” he declares that, were a more than a slight degree, in pro. leader of great abilities to place himducing that supine and pusillanimous self at the head of Italy, he would character, which at length distinguishes find all the materials of greatness Italy, in our own day, so far as re ready for his use.” The historical regards valour, discipline, and constancy. cords of the modern Italian states, and

Amongst the most prominent of the their wars with foreign powers, cermodern speculators on the subject of tainly disprove this assertion, The Italy, ranks Eustace, author of the truth is, the sons of Italy are, in “ Classical Tour.” An enthusiastic point of character, of a different con, admirer of the policy and magnanimity texture from what they were about of the ancient Romans, surveying with the times here mentioned. With every astonishment, as all must, the stu allowance for the splendid talents, and pendous remains of their ancient gran the thinking both on subjects of art deur, he yet perhaps is disposed to and literature which has distinguished place the character and features of modern Italy, they have indubitably Modern Italy higher in the scale of evolved a very different standard of moral and mental excellence, than the bravery and of patriotism from that accounts which may be drawn from which prevailed in the old Republic most other quarters, will warrant. during the period of the rising grandeur But it is impossible to trace the pages of Rome, as Tacitus calls it—for that, of Eustace-eminent among other tra of course, is the period to which all vellers, without feeling a spark of that point who speak of Roman superiority, flame which seems to kindle in his The architectural grandeur of Rome own breast, at the recital of the archi

appears to have attained its high emia tectural splendours of the “ancient nence and maturity after the enslave, city.” The heart swells with a ge ment of its inhabitants. Its skill in nerous and gratulatory emotion while the arts rose as its liberties sunk, their contemplating the elevation of thought, inventive faculty an expansion of the purity and grandeur of design, their ingenuity in the varied works of which inspired a race of beings to the imagination and genius, trod upon the achievement of works whose consum heels of their freedom. mate skill and astounding magnifi On the subject of Italy, our intelli. cence have few or no parallels in the gent countrywoman, Lady Morgan, degenerate days of modern times. – has also written a work. Whatever But Eustace, doubtless, proceeds in rank her Ladyship may hold in her the teeth of every other recorded au country's literature, it may be said of thority, when, in his last chapter, he her book, so far as it relates to the endeavours to establish a position, as historical state of Italy, that it aims at it should seem, peculiar to himself, that species of fine writing which con. that the modern Italians, taken in sists of sweeping metaphors and bold every sense in which a people can be generalizing positions. In common considered, dispute the palm of rival with some other writers, she takes ship with their ancestors. In his for granted that the modern Italian conclusive “ Dissertation,” he labours Republics of Milan, Florence, Pisa,

486
Italy and the Italians.

[June, Genoa, and Venice, as they partook of domestic hearths and altars. Until the same form of government, wearing the beginning of the thirteenth centhe word Libertas traced in golden tury, however, “ Florence,” says Percharacters on their frontlet, so they cival, “ was governed by Consuls and were composed of the same materials a Senate of popular choice; but she as the old Roman Republic, animated then fell, like other cities, into the by the same mind, imbued with the fashion of entrusting her government same virtue, prompted by the same to foreign podestas.' The early estapublic zeal, and the magnanimous blishment and rise of the five beforespirit of the same stern patriotism. mentioned famous Republics, was This is by no means the case. The auspicious to the cause of liberty in history of these Republics (taken ge- Italy and Europe ; but, as Lady Mornerally) is far from warranting any gan justly observes, “ their existence such assumption. Isolated instances was a solecism in the reigning system of high and splendid character form, of Europe, and their example dangerous perhaps, exceptions in the annals of to its permanency.”. Florentine and Milanese warfare, while The existence of liberty in Italy," the long line of Venetian story often says Lady Morgan, in the fitful metaapproximates, in more than a distant phors of her style, was like the naresemblance, the energy and decision tural day of her brilliant climate; it of the ancient Roman councils.

rose in bursts of splendour, and sunk The fact of the occupation of Italy in sudden and unprepared darkness." during the middle ages, and down to “ Italy,” she adds, “ her republics the epoch of our own times, by the invaded, environed, overwhelmed by troops of Austria and Spain (to say the successive armies of Europe, to nothing of the military interference of the last gasp of her independence, exother claimants), is a sort of stigma hibited the results of her free instituin the history of Italian Republics, tions; and, like the dying gladiator of which, while it proves that the fair her capitol, was sublime even in the soils of Italy have always been an ob- last pang of dissolution. From the ject of cupidity to the other powers of walls of Milan to the sanctuary of Europe, looks with rather a malign the Vatican, the loveliest country of aspect upon the hypothesis which Europe was desolated by acts of speaks of the liberty of her sons. Al

savage atrocity and brutal violation, though it must be acknowledged that from which, even at this distance of instances of bravery and good conduct time, humanity shudders and recoils.” have not only been known to distin A summary of a few of the leading guish their armies in the field, but to characteristics of the Italian Republics fire the resolutions of the Senate with may now serve to substantiate what zeal in the public cause, upon the in we have advanced, that the moderns vasion of a common enemy,—yet these had materially fallen from the great occasional displays seemed more the and noble lineaments of character sudden bursts of a patriotism which which had once animated the ancient still retained a sense of glorious an- Republic. The history of all the cestry, than the uniform impulse of a transactions of the Italian States durpeople free from choice, and brave ing the middle ages, do not assuredly from a sort of energizing principle. prove that from her soils alone emaForeign podestas, as every one knows, nated the wisdom which was to direct were placed in her cities, and were Europe. The rise and progress in regarded by all the citizens as the riches, arts, and commercial grandeur common and supreme arbiters of their of the five celebrated Republics of differences. This measure, in the po- modern Italy, doubtless comprised licy of Austria, doubtless had the within the period of their annals effect of perpetuating the submission many illustrious deeds ; and in the of her territorial possessions in Italy, enterprise, activity, and greatness of Claiming, by right of conquest, what view which occasionally distinguished all saw they had not the shadow of them, they stood forth prominently to pretension to by any other right, the the admiration of all their continental princes of the Imperial House showed neighbours. But there were periods, a subtle insight into the art of govern- and those not unfrequent (especially ing, by insinuating the badge of in the Milanese and Florentine domislavery under the precincts of their nions), when neither their domestic

1831.)
Topographical notices of Ruerdean.

487 or their foreign policy betrayed much have come to my knowledge subse. of wisdom, but was rather marked by quently to my publication. laxness and incapacity. The eternal

Yours, &c. T. D. FOSBROKE. factions of the Guelphs (or, as Percival writes it, the Guelfs,) and Ghibe Dr. Meyrick objects to Sir Robert lins which for two centuries afflicted Atkyns's definition of Ruerdean by the cities of Milan and Florence, and

River Dean because it adjoins the their dependencies, with all the cala- Wye, and thinks that it was origimities of rancorous though petty war nally Rhiwyr-din, “a fortress on the fare, was doubtless inauspicious of side of a hill;" of which there are rethat prosperity and unity which the maining earth-works and a small piece free aspect of their constituted govern.

of wall, and groins, round, not ogee, ment, and other advantages, certainly and such as we ascribe to centuries promised. But that the citizens of preceding the fourteenth. I am inso many noble and populous cities, in clined to Dr. Meyrick's opinion for the habiting soils which rung with the following reasons : deeds of ancestral glory,—with all the RUARDYN, or Rewardyne, is menadvantages which unity and a concen tioned as the original orthography in tration of every thing which a super

several ancient records, quoted in my abundance of immense wealth threw History of Gloucestershire, vol. ii. pp. into their hands,-should, instead of 150, 154. In contiguity are Michelstrengthening themselves against the Dean, Little Dean, and Deep-dean (in common invader, on the other hand, Walford). There is, too, reason to exhaust themselves in the bitter ani- think, from the old records, that ori. mosities of party spite, proves cer ginally Dene was the generic term for tainly not that they were animated by all these vills; and Michel-Dean is courage and noble bearing, but rather still familiarly called Dean by the inby a malignant and degenerate spirit habitants. Ábbenhall, Michel-Dean, of jealousy.

and Little Dean, were but one vill in If, indeed, all the Italian Republics the times of Edward the First and Sewere perpetually distinguished by the cond. At neither of these places was magnanimity which writers there a castle, and Abbenhall, which seem inclined to ascribe to them, adjoins Ruerdean on the west, was so history, in the accumulated experience named from the Abbot of Flaxley of nations, affords us sufficient rea having lands and a mansion there, sons for thinking that they would A close roll of the 7 Edw. II.* says, oftener have united for the defence of that All the lands in the forest their own common liberties. Forgranted under the old castle of Dean to though Eustace distinctly states him be assarted were then confirmed to the self of opinion that “ their private Abbot and monks of Flaxley. This cabals and party feuds were from age abbey was founded by Roger, son of to age the unhappy cause which pre Milo Earl of Hereford, in 1140, and in vented their thus uniting ;” still that the confirmation-charters of Henry such cause should have continued to the Secondt, it is said, that the above exist, proved that the high-minded Roger gave to the abbey the whole patriotism of their ancestors had no land under the old castle of Dean to be longer an existence.

assarted. Now, St. Briavel's could Melksham,

E. P. not be the old castle of Dean, for it (To be concluded in our Supplement.)

was only erected by the father of the founder of Flaxley. William de Alba

Mara, 40 Hen. III, held two carucates Mr. URBAN,

June 10.

in the manor of Ruardyn, by a quitMY neighbour Dr. Meyrick having

rent to the crown, and attending the

summons of the constable of St. Briacalled upon me, in your last Magazine vel's-castle. Among his heirs was a (May, 1831, p. 403) to furnish some

William, son of William de Hatesway further explanations concerning the

(whose estate is still called Hathaparochial chapelry of Ruerdean, I herewith forward such matters as are not included in my own or the other * Fosbroke's Gloucestershire, i. 86. histories of Gloucestershire, and which + Dugd. Monast. i, 884, old edit.

some

« AnteriorContinuar »