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nephew Girolamo Riario, in the beautiful and fertile plains of Romagna, The rest of the Italian powers were already contesting for predominance in, or for the possession of, these territories; and, as a question of right, the Pope had clearly a better title than the others, He was only deficient in political resources and in the means of war. He did not scruple to make his spiritual power, exalted in its nature and in its object above everything earthly, subservient to his temporal designs, and to debase it to the intrigues of the day, in which he was thus involved. As the Medici stood principally in his way, he mingled himself up with the feuds of Florence, and brought on himself, as is well known, the suspicion that he was cognizant of the Pazzi conspiracy; that he was not without knowledge of the murder which these men perpetrated before the altar of the cathedral-he the Father of the Faithful! When the Venetians ceased to favour the enterprise of his nephew, which they had some time done, the Pope was not satisfied with deserting them in the midst of a war to which he himself had urged them; he went so far as to excommunicate them for continuing the war. He acted with no less violence in Rome. He persecuted with wild relentlessness the adversaries of Riario, the Colonnas ; he forced from them Marino; he stormed the house of the prothonotary Colonna, took him prisoner and executed him. His mother came to the church of St. Celso, in Banchi, where the body lay ; she lifted up by the hair the dissevered head, and cried—“ This is the head of my son! this is the truth of the Pope !-He promised, if we would yield up Marino, that he would liberate my son; Marino is in his hands, my son in mine, but dead! Lo! thus does the Pope keep his word.” ?
The first act of Cæsar Borgia, the too-famous son of Alexander VI., who, though not the immediate successor to the popedom, was the immediate heir to the splendid nepotism of Sixtus, was to drive the widow of Riario from Imola and Forli, of which the possession had been bought by so much crime, and by such a fatal precedent of the degradation of the Papal power. In Cæsar Borgia, Papal nepotisin rose to its height of ambition and of guilt.* The inquiries of Ranke have thrown discredit on no one crime; they have confirmed the monstrous mass of iniquity which has been charged against this man. But with all his subtlety, and all his profound Machiavellism, Cæsar Borgia alone did not perceive the inherent instability of a power which must depend on the life of the reigning Pope. It was built on sand, and however he might cement it with blood, it could not endure
* We have heard a striking anecdote relating to these times from one of the contemporary MS. documents. The writer, if we remember right, a Venetian ambassador, was present at Rome during the tumuit caused by the disappearance of the Duke of Gandia, Alexander's elder son. "All Rome is in an uproar,' he writes : • the Duke of Gandia has been murdered, and his body thrown into the Tiber. I have been upon the bridge; I saw the body taken out of the river; I followed it to the gates of the Castle of St. Angelo. We thought we heard the voice of the old Pope wailing audibly above all the wild tumult.'
the the shock. The sagacious Venetians, according to a MS. chronicle, quoted by Ranke, looked on without concern, for they well knew that the conquests of the Duke Valentino were but “a fire of straw, which would soon go out of itself. We may add to Mr. Ranke's authorities, a passage from a curious and nearly contemporaneous life of Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, by Bernardino Baldi. When this duke was driven from his city by the extraordinary arts of Borgia, his subjects consoled him with the observation, that · Popes do not live for ever.'
Julius II., by fortunately obtaining the inheritance of this dukedom of Urbino in a peaceful way, was enabled to satisfy the claims of his family without warlike aggression. Thenceforward he could entirely devote himself to the nobler, yet by no means spiritual object of his life, his warlike achievements for the aggrandizement of the Papal territory, and the expulsion of foreign powers from Italy.
With Julius II. the proper subject of Mr. Ranke's narrative commences. It was in the third year of the sixteenth century, that the poison which had served the house of Borgia with so much fidelity, revenged and liberated the world from the supremacy of Alexander VI. It was a singular coincidence, that exactly at the period at which the pure and genuine gospel of Christ was about to be re-opened, as it were, to the eyes of man- when, éven if Luther had never lived, the art of printing must to a certain extent have revealed again the true character of the evangelic faith-the highest office in the Christian community should have been filled by such men. The successor of Christ and his apostles was Alexander, in the midst of his blood. stained and incestuous family; Julius II. in full armour, at the head of an host of condottieri; and even Leo X., in his splendid and luxuriant court, where, if Christianity was not openly treated as a fable, it had given place, both in its religious and moral influence, to the revived philosophy and the unregulated manners of Greece. The pontificate of Leo X. is sketched with admirable fairness and judgment by Mr. Ranke. The effect of the study of antiquity on poetry and the arts is developed with peculiar felicity. The men of creative genius at this stirring period had discovered the beauty, and deeply imbued their minds with the harmonious principles, of the ancient poets—but they were not yet enslaved to their imitation.
• Not that the middle ages had been altogether ignorant of the classic writers. The ardour with which the Arabians, from whose intellectual labours so much passed back into the south, collected and appropriated the works of the ancients, did not fall far short of the zeal with which the Italians of the fifteenth century did the same; and Caliph Maimun may be compared, in this respect, with Cosmo de' Medici.
But let us observe the difference. Unimportant as it may appear, it is, in my opinion, decisive. The Arabians translated, at the same time they often destroyed the original. As their own peculiar ideas impregnated the whole of their translations, they turned Aristotle, we might say, into a system of theosophy; they applied astronomy only to astrology, and astrology to medicine; and medicine they diverted to the development of their own fantastic notions of the universe. The Italians, on the other hand, read and learned. From the Romans they advanced to the Greeks; the art of printing disseminated the original works throughout the world in numberless copies. The genuine expelled the Arabian Aristotle. In the unaltered writings of the ancients, men studied the sciences; geography directly out of Ptolemy, botany out of Dioscorides, the knowledge of medicine out of Galen and Hippocrates. How could mankind be so rapidly emancipated from the imaginations which hitherto had peopled the world, from the prejudices which enslaved the mind!
It was precisely at this period of transition from the dark ages to the revival of learning, that the second great epoch of the creative genius of Italy took place. The study of antiquity was now free, noble, emulative: not servile, cold, and pedantic. The old poetic spirit was yet unextinguished; it admired, with kindred and congenial rapture, the graceful and harmonious forms of Grecian skill-it aspired to array its own conceptions in the same kind of grace and majesty. From this union of original and still unfettered imagination with the silent influence of familiarity with the most perfect models, sprung the Romantic Epic, the Sculpture and Architecture of Michael Angelo, the Loggie of Raffaelle. It is singular that Italy alone, which, perhaps, contributed nothing to the treasures of romance, excepting indeed that curious specimen of early Tuscan prose, the · Aventuriere Siciliano,' by Busone da Gubbio—(lately discovered and admirably edited by our countryman, Dr. Nott)—that Italy should alone have founded great poems on the old romances of chivalry.* But how wonderful the transmutation of the rude and garrulous, and sometimes picturesque, old tales, by the magic hand of Boyardo and Ariosto, into majestic poems!
The following observations of Mr. Ranke are marked, in our opinion, with equal ingenuity and taste :
• This is the peculiar character of the romantic epic, that its form and matter were equally foreign to the genius of antiquity, yet it betrays the inward and unseen influence. The poet found prepared for his subject a Christian fable of mingled religious and heroic interest ; the principal figures, drawn in a few broad and strong and general lines, were at his command; he had ready for his use striking situations, though imperfectly developed; the form of expression was at
* The Spanish Cid and the German Nibelungen are ancient national epic poems, not poems founded on old romances.
haud, hand, it came immediately from the common language of the people. With this blended itself the tendency of the age to ally itself with antiquity. Plastic, painting, humanizing, it pervaded the whole. How different is the Rinaldo of Boyardo-noble, modest, full of joyous gallantry—from the terrible son of Aimon, of the ancient romance! How is the violent, the monstrous, the gigantic, of the old representation subdued to the comprehensible, the attractive, the captivating! The old tales in their simplicity have something pleasing and delightful; but how different the pleasure of abandoning oneself to the harmony of Ariosto's stanzas, and hurrying on from scene to scene, in the companionship of a frank and accomplished mind! The unlovely and the shapeless has moulded itself into a distinct outline -into form and music.'*
The same admiration of the majesty of the ancient forms, strug. gling with, but never taming, the inventive boldness of genius, harmonized the sculpture of Michael Angelo. It was Bramante's sublime notion to rival the proportions of the Pantheon, but to suspend its dome in the air. The dispute whether Raffaelle borrowed the exquisite arabesques of the Loggie from the antique shows how deeply he had imbibed the beauty of the Grecian form: still it only imperceptibly blends with his own free and graceful conceptions; it is the same principle working within him—from whatever source derived, however influenced in its secret development, the sense of beauty is in him an attribute of his nature-it is become himself. Tragedy alone in Italy wanted its Ariosto or Michael Angelo. In the cold and feeble hands of Trissino and Rucellai, it gave the form and outline of antiquity, but the form alone; all was dead and cold within- a direct, tame, and lifeless copy from the antique. Even comedy, though too fond of casting its rich metal in the moulds of Plautus and Terence, preserved some originality of invention, some gaiety and freedom of expression.
The manners of the court of Leo X, exhibited the same singular combination--the same struggle for the mastery between the spirit of antiquity and the barbaric Christianity of the middle ages. The splendid ceremonial went on in all its pomp; architecture. and sculpture lavished their invention in building and decorating Christian churches. Yet the Vatican was visited less for the purpose of worshipping the footsteps of the apostles than to admire the great works of ancient art in the papal palace-the Belvedere Apollo and the Laocoon. The Pope was strongly urged to undertake a holy war against the infidels, but the scholars of
* It is remarkable that the first reprint of Boyardo's genuine poem has been made in England by Sig. Panizzi. We admire the professor's taste and courage. The difference between the original work and the long-popular rifacciamento of Berni, is, that one is in earnest, the other in jest-the one the work of a poet, the other of a satirist.
his court (Mr. Ranke quotes a remarkable passage from a preface of Navagero) thought little of the conquest of the Holy Sepulchre; their hope was that the Pope might recover some of the lost writings of the Greeks, or even of the Romans. The character of Leo himself is thus struck out in the Journal of a Venetian ambassador. “He is a learned man, and a lover of learned men, very religious, but he will live-(E docto e amador di docti, ben religioso, ma vol viver).' The acute Venetian calls him buona persona, which we may English, a good fellow.
And Leo X. knew how to live :-his summers were passed in the most beautiful parts of the Roman territory, in hunting, shooting, and fishing—men of agreeable talents, improvvisatores, enlivened the pleasant hours :
In the winter he returned to the city; it was in the highest state of prosperity. The number of inhabitants increased a third in a few years. Manufactures found their profit-art, honour- every one security. Never was the court more lively, more agreeable, more intellectual; no expenditure was too great to be lavished on religious and secular festivals, on amusements and theatres, on presents and marks of favour. It was heard with pleasure that Juliano Medici, with his young wife, thought of making Rome his residence. “ Praised be God !” Cardinal Bibiena writes to him; “ the only thing we want is a court with ladies.”
Ariosto had been known to Leo in his youth-(Mr. Ranke has not noticed that the satires of the poet are not so favourable to Leo's court). Tragedies, such as they were, and comedies, by no means wanting in talent, whatever might be said as to their decency, were written, and by the pens of cardinals. To Leo, Machiavelli had addressed his writings; for him Raffaelle was peopling the Vatican with his more than human forms. Leo possessed an exquisite taste, and was passionately fond of music; and Leo, the most fortunate of the popes, as Ranke observes, was not least fortunate in his early death, before these splendid scenes were disturbed by the sad reverses which were in some respects their inevitable consequence.
Had Rome been merely the metropolis of the Christian world, from which emanated the law's and the decrees which were to regulate the religious concerns of mankind, this classical and Epicurean character of the court would have been of less importance; but it was likewise the centre of confluence to the whole Christian world. Ecclesiastics, or those destined for the ecclesiastical profession, and even religious men of all classes, undertook pilgrimages to Rome from all parts of Europe. To such persons, only accustomed to the rude and coarse habits which then generally prevailed in the northern nations- to men perhaps trained in the severest monastic rules, who had been taught to consider the