Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

demned him to the flames of both worlds.* These doctrines, however, were not dispersed with his scattered ashes, but were concentrated in that Capitol and by that Senate which he restored; and however the ignorance of the age may have misapplied his institutions, they served to retard for three centuries the confirmed establishment of religious despotism. The Romans were the last of all the people of Christendom who submitted to the Pope. The feudal wars of the city belonged to the times, and are not to be charged to the democratical spirit, but to the impotence of the laws.

Rienzi had the fortune to fall on better days and lietter tongues. With Petrarch for a poet,| and a fellowcitizen, rude, but a witness of his exploits, for a biographer, J his merits have been fairly balanced with his

* "Messo costui (Arnold) nelle forze del Prefetto di Roma fu impiccato e bruciato e le sue ceneri sparse nel Tevere, accioche la stolida plebe non venerasse il corpo di questo infame."—Muratori, Annal. ad an. 1155, tom. vi. p. 516.

t Petr. epistola hortatoria de capessenda libertate. Opp. p. 535, 540, and the 5th eclogue. Vir magnanime, vir fortissime, Junior Brute, are the titles he gives Rienzi. De Sade was not the first who supposed the spirto gentil of Petrarch to be addressed to the younger Stephen Colonna: and that eulogy has been also claimed for Giordano de' Sabelli; but the Italian editors have, for the most part, recognised the gentle spirit in Cola di Rienzi. (See Castelvetro's edition, Venice, 1756, p. 132 et seq.) Our London editor has rejected the French hypothesis. Zotti, tom. i. p. 112. Gibbon (chap. lxix. ad fin. and chap. lxx. p. 588,4to.) followed his favourite Abbe.

+ Historias Romans Fragmenta. Antiq. Med. iEvi, tom. iii. p. 399 to p. 480, and 509 to 546.

defects; and as those who suffered by his justice were the rebellious barons rather than the partizans either of the church or the empire, his half heroic, fantastic figure * has been delineated with unusual partiality. The facility with which he succeeded in his first designs shows that the allure of liberty had lost none of its charms at Rome, and that the tyranny of the nobles was equally odious with that of the Emperor or the Pope.

The fall of this abortion of fortune was the fruit rather of his own intemperance than of the inconstancy of the Romans.t As the overthrower of the usurpation of the nobles, as the assertor of justice, as the punisher of violence, and the projector of a splendid system which was to restore the freedom of Rome and of Italy, he did indeed "redeem centuries of shame." When the republican aspired to perpetuate his own power, when the tribune imitated the fopperies of royalty, \ when the

* " Costui era uomo fantastico; dall' un canto facea la lipura d' eroe, dall' altro di pazzo."—Annali ad an. 1347, torn. viii. p. 250.

t Giovanni Villani seems inclined to divide the disgrace between the tribune and the people :—

"Nessuna signoria mondana dura
B la vana speranza t' ha scoperto
II fine della fallace ventura."

Hist. Fiorentince, lib. xii. cap. civ. Script. Rer. Ital. tom, xiii. p. 982.

X The account of the feast given by Rienzi in the Lateran palace is a singular picture of the magnificence and luxury of those times, as well as of the vulgar profusion of the tribune. "Sweetmeats of various kinds; a great abundance of sturgeon, a delicate fish; reformer declared himself the champion of superstition * and the church, he lost his distinctive character, and, like a more celebrated personage of our own times, left a convincing proof that a revolution can be maintained only by the maxims, and even the very forms, by which it was at first ushered into life.

Tiraboschi-f- has given Rienzi a place amongst the restorers of literature, but he seems never to have seen some specimens of the tribune's composition existing in the royal library at Turin. Indeed the Abbd de Sade appears to be the only compiler who has consulted these manuscripts, and he transcribes such only as relate to Petrarch. The continuer of Baronius cites letters of Rienzi amongst the secret epistles of the Vatican, but cannot be inferred to have seen a copy of the Turin

pheasants, kids. Every one was allowed to pocket what he liked." "Confietti de divisate manere. Fonce abbonnantia de storione (lo pescie delicate); fasani, capretti. Chi bolea portare lo rifudio, se lo portava liberamente."—Hist. Bom. Fragmenta, cap. xxvii. p. 453, ibid. Stephen Colonna told Rienzi that the decent garments of a plebeian were more becoming the tribune than those pompous robes which he affected.—Ibid. cap. xxviii.

* Instead of the Holy Roman Empire, Rienzi called it the Holy Roman Republic in his title. "Nicola Severo e Clemente, de libertate, de pace, e de justitia Tribuno, anco de la Santa Romana Reipubbica Libberatore Illustre." It was in this spirit that his word of battle was The Holy Ghost, Cavaliers!" E ordinab le battaglie, e fece li capitani delle vattaglie. E deo lo nome Spirito Santo Cavalieri."Hist. Rom. Frag., cap. xxxii., ibid. When he came from Avignon, he came as senator of the Pope.

Storia delta Lett., tom. v. lib. ii. p. 313 et seq., edit. Moden. 1775.

papers.* By a strange fatality the acts of the Roman tribune have been preserved in the annals of a monastery at Liege.-)- The Canon Hocsemius has supplied us with three documents which are to be found also in the Turin manuscripts, and with two others which are not in that collection. Hocsemius was cited and translated by Du Cerceau, J and Du Cerceau was consulted by Gibbon, who does not appear to have referred to the original. Neither the one nor the other knew anything of the existence of these letters, which, although they are not the original acts, and although the collection whence they were transferred to the library is unknown, are undoubtedly authentic. They afford a curious specimen of the style in which a revolutionary leader addressed the Roinans of the fourteenth century, and were, for the first time, published in the Illustrations to the Fourth Canto of ' Childe Harold,' 1818. It will be seen from these letters that Rienzi, bike Cromwell, adopted a spiritual tone in his official discourses; and by no means openly, or, at least, in the first instance, declared against the authority of the Pope. The Abbe" de Sade has argued at length against the supposed

* Raynaldus contin. Baronii ad an. 1347, num. xiii. xiv. et seq. tom. vi. p. 442 et seq. edit. Lucas, 1750.

t Gesta Pontificum. Leodiens. scripserunt auctores Leodii anno 1613, tom. ii. Joan. Hocsemii Canon Leod. cap. xxxv., Admiranda de Nicolao filio cujusdam molendarii 1'ribuno Romance urbis affecto, p. 494 et seq.

I Conjuration de Nicolas Gabrini, dit de Itienzi, Tyran de Rome, en 1347; ouvrage posthume du R. Pere Du Cerceau, de la Compagnie de JiSsus a Paris, 1733.

citation of the Pope by Rienzi, when the tribune commanded the rival Emperors to appear before his tribunal, but the continuer of Baronius seems to have seen proofs of that temerity in the Vatican, and has published the excommunication of Rienzi by Clement VI. The Liege annals contain a long letter from Rienzi to Raynaldo de' Ursi, Papal notary, excusing himself for the irregularities of Ins conduct on the day of his knighthood, and defending the bathing in Constantine's Vase, and the other arrogant or puerile ceremonies which had alienated the affection of his former admirers.

The modern Capitol retains two objects which recall the memory of Rienzi—the horse of Aurelius,* called, formerly, the horse of Constantine, which stood before the Lateran, and from whose right nostril the tribune poured a stream of wine on the day of his ridiculous knighthood ;t and the bronze table, usually called the lex regia, conferring the privileges of dominion on Vespasian, which Rienzi expounded to the populace,

* "A stream of wine flowed from the nostrils of Constantine's brazen horse: no complaint, except of the scarcity of water, could be heard."—Decline and Fall, cap. lxx. tom. xii. oct. p. 348. A trifling mistake in the masterly sketch of Rienzi's life. Wine flowed from the right, water from the left nostril. "In quella die continuamente de la matina nell' alva fin a nona, pe le nare de lo Cavallo de Constantino, che esse de vronzo pe canali de piommo ordenati jescio pe froscia ritta vino roscio, e pe froscia manca jescio acqua e cadea indificientemente ne la conca piena."—Hist. Bom. Frag., cap. xxvi. p. 451, loc. cit.

t "Vitiosa buffonia " is the title given to the ceremony by the anonymous author of the Fragments. Rienzi excuses it in a letter

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »