Imágenes de páginas

VII. The emperor's absence from his own in a passage quoted by Dr. Papencordt, he quarters for ten days could not but be known, declares that his meditations on the religious and must have excited great anxiety ; his subjects of 'providence, foreknowledge, will, wonderful escape must have been a subject of and fate,' were not derived from the profound marked rejoicing. It is even more singular wisdom of Gregory or Augustine, but were that, with the exception of a vague rumour droppings from the less deep but transparent which might have some connection with the springs of the Roman patricians Boetus and story, and which was gleaned, we know not Symmachus, Livy, Cicero, and Seneca. He from what quarter, by De Sade, * there is no was handsome, and a peculiar smile gave a vestige of it in any of the contemporary chroni- remarkable expression to his countenance : he cles; more particularly in the Roman life of married early the daughter of a burgher, Rienzi. The question then arises, was it al. named Francesco, and had three children, one together an audacious fiction of Rienzi's du son and two daughters. His wife's dowry ring his residence in Germany ? or did he find was only 150 golden florins. or set afloat this rumour during the earlier His classical studies had led Rienzi to conyears of his ambition, and encourage or sup- trast the miserable and servile state of his press it as it suited his circumstances ? countrymen with that of their free and glorious On these questions we can scarcely hope to ancestors. "Where are these old Romans arrive at any satisfactory conclusion ; but in where their justice? Would that I had lived either case the use which he attempted to in their times ! The sense of personal wrong make of it, when it was his manifest purpose mingled with these more lofty and patriotic to connect himself as closely as possible with feelings—his younger brother was murdered, the German and imperial interests—when, as and unable to obtain redress from the partial appears throughout these latter documents, he and disdainful justice of the nobles, he vowed was offering himself as an instrument to rein- vengeance for the innocent blood. He seems state the imperial power in Italy—is a singu- likewise to have assumed the office of chamlar illustration of the tenacity of his hopes, the pion of the poor. As the heads of the merfertility of his resources, and the versatility of cantile guilds called themselves consuls, so he his ambition. It is clear that his spirit was took the title of Consul of the orphans, the unbroken by the total failure of his republican widows, and the poor. schemes for the independence and aggrandise- Rienzi's first public function was his mission ment of Rome; but that whether, by an intito Pope Clement VI., at Avignon. He ap. mate alliance with the strong religious enthu-pears to have been one of the representatives siasm of the day, he hoped to come forth again of the people in this embassy, which consisted as a deliverer foreshone by prophecy and vi- of delegates from the three orders; and he is sion, among the fantastic dreamers in the Fran- said to have so charmed the pope with his elociscan hermitages—or as the champion of the quence that he desired to hear him every day. imperial power—or as the representative of the Petrarch was not one of the delegates, but actemporal sovereignty of the pope—he was fet- companied the mission, and in Avignon made tered by no scruples, and resolved by any that personal acquaintance with the future means to regain his lost ascendency.

tribune which has connected their names toIt appears from his own statement, that gether; and there that admiration of his chaafter the death of his mother, Rienzi lived at racter commenced, which ripened into that noAnagni till his twentieth year; he then re- ble canzone, 'Spirto gentil.' That this canturned to Rome, and, embracing the profes- zone was addressed to Rienzi we have never sion of a notary, he devoted himself to those doubted, and are glad to find our opinion confirmclassical studies which exercised so powerful ed by Dr. Papencordi's conclusive arguments. an influence on his mind. The old historian Rienzi's joyful letter from Avignon to the Fortifiocca gives, as his favourite authors, people of Rome on the apparently favourable Livy, Cicero, Seneca, and Valerius Maxi- termination of his mission, was first published mus; but the magnificent deeds (le magnifi- by Sir John Hobhouse from the Turin MS., centie) of Julius Cæsar were his clief delight. in his 'Illustrations of Childe Harold. The He translated these authors into the vulgar pope had conceded the jubilee on the fiftieth tongue, deciphered inscriptions, and explained year: he had promised, when the affairs of the marbles of antiquity. He was evidently France should permit, to revisit Rome. fully impregnated with the biblical language Rienzi calls on the mountains around, and on and religious imagery of the times; though, the hills and plains, and the whole city of

Rome, to break out into joy :De Sade had picked up what might be a loose reminiscence of this story, According to him, Made

May the Roman city arise from her long pros. lena, the mother of Rienzi, was reported to be the tration, ascend the throne of her majesty, cast danghter of a bastard of Henry VII.

i off the mourning garb of her widowhood, and

[ocr errors]

put on the bridal purple. Let the crown of li- | than this, he nurses, cherishes, and favours those berty adorn her head, and rings of gold her neck: very wolves, the fear of which, as he pretends, let her re-assume the sceptre of justice, and, re keeps him away from Rome, that their teeth and generate in every virtue, go forth in her bridal their talons may be stronger to devour his sheep. attire to meet ber bridegroom. ... Behold the On the Orsini, and the Colonnas, and on the other most merciful Lamb of God, that confoundeth nobles, whom he knows to be infamous as public sio. The most holy Roman pontiff, the Father robbers, the destroyers, both spiritual and temof the city, the Bridegroom of the Lord, moved poral, of his holy episcopal city, and the devourby the cries and complaints and wailings of his ers of his own peculiar flock, he confers digpi. bride, compassionating her sufferings, her ca. ties and honours; he even bestows on them rich lamities, and her ruin, astonished at the regen- prelacies, in order that they may wage those eration of the city, the glory of the people, the wars, which they have not wealth enough themjoy and salvation of the world, by the inspira- selves to support, from the treasures of the tion of the Holy Spirit, opening the bosom of his church. And when he has been perpetually enclemency, has pledged himself to have mercy treated by the people, that, as a compassionate upon us, and promises grace and redemption to father, he would at least appoint some good man, the whole world, and to the nations remission a foreigner, as ruler over his episcopal city, he of sins.' ...

would never consent; but in contempt of the pe

titions of the people, he placed the sword in the After all this rague and high-flown scriptu- hands of some madman, and invested the tyrants ral imagery Rienzi passes to his classical re- of the people with the authority of senators, for miniscences :

the sole purpose, as it is credibly known and

proved, that the Roman flock, thus preyed upon What Scipio,' he demands,' what Cæsar, or by ravening wolves, should not have strength or Metellus, or Marcellus, or Fabius, can be so courage to demand the residence of their pastor fairly deemed the deliverers of their country,or so in his episcopal seat.'--Urkunde, p. XLIV. justly honoured with a statue? They won hard victories by the calamities of war, by the blood- Rienzi, thus despairing of all alleviation of shed of citizens; he, unsolicited, by one holy the calamities of the people from the ecclesiasand triumphant word, has achieved a victory tical power, sat brooding over his hopes of reover the present and future calamities of his awakening the old Roman spirit of liberty. country, re-established the Roman common. In this high design he proceeded with wonwealth, and rescued the despairing people from

derful death.'

courage, address, and resolution.

He submitted to every kind of indignity, and Whether the pope was conscious that he assumed every disguise which might advance was deluding the ardent mind of Rienzi with his end. Once in the assembly of the people false hopes, or whether Rienzi betrayed his he was betrayed by his indignation at some suspicions of the pope's sincerity, or the Cardi- atrocious act of tyranny into a premature apnal Colonna became jealous of his influence peal to their yet unawakened sympathies. with the pope, Rienzi soon fell into disfavour. He reproached his fellow representatives with At Avignon he was reduced to great poverty, their disregard of the miseries of the people, and, according to the old Roman biographer, and ventured to let loose his eloquence on the probably from illness, was glad to take refuge blessings of good order. The only answer in an hospital. The cardinal, however, perhaps was a blow from a Norman relative of the from contemptuous compassion, reconciled him Colonnas; in the simple language of the hisagain with the pope, and Rienzi returned 10 torian, a box on the ear that rang again, un Rome with the appointment of notary in the sonante gotata. papal court, and a flattering testimonial to his Allegorical picture was the language of the character, as a man zealous for the welfare of times. The church had long employed it to the city.

teach or to enforce Christian truth or Christian At Rome Rienzi executed his office of no-obedience among the

de and unlettered peotary by deputy, and confined himself to his ple. Dr. Papencordt has indicated other ocstudies, and to his profound and rankling casions on which it had been used for political meditations on the miseries and oppressions of purposes. The reader of Dante will underthe city. The lyranny of the nobles was with stand how completely the Italian mind must 'out check; the lives of the men, and the hon- have been familiarised with this suggestive our of the women, seemed to be abandoned 10 imagery. Many of the great names of the their caprice and their lust; and all this, at time, the Orsini, the Mastini, the Cani, the least so he wrote at a later period to the Arch. Lucchi, either lent themselves to, or grew out bishop of Prague, Rienzi attributed in a great of this bestial symbolism; and Rienzi seized degree to the criminal abandonment of his flock on the yet unrestricted freedom of painting, as by the supreme pontiff :

a modern patriot might on the freedom of the Would that our pastor had been content with press, to instil his own feelings of burning this scandal alone; that he should dwell in Avig- shame at their degradation and oppression. non, having deserted his flock. But far worse | All his historians have dwelt on the masterVOL. LXIX,


piece of his pictorial eloquence. On a sink. mask of folly and the character of a buffoon, ing ship, without mast or sail, sat a noble and thus was often suffered in the Colonna lady, in widow's weeds, with dishevelled hair, palace to amuse the company with his tricks and her hands crossed over her breast. Above and predictions. Rienzi describes his own was written This is Rome.' She was conduct in this respect, but justifies it (he surrounded by four other ships, in which sat was writing to an archbishop) with different women, who personated Babylon, Carthage, precedents : Tyre, Jerusalem. "Through unrighteousness,' ran the legend, 'these fell to ruin. An in- • I confess that, having become drunk after the scription hung above.—'Thou, oh Rome! parching fever of my soul, in order to put down wert exalted above all; we await thy down. the prevailing injustice, and to persuade the peofall ! Three islands appeared beside the ple to union, I often feigned and dissembled; ship; in one was Italy, in another four of the made myself a simpleton, and an actor; was by Cardinal Virtues, in the third Christian Faith.

turns serious, or silly, cunning, earnest, and timid,

as occasion required, to promote my work of Each had its appropriate inscription. Over love. David danced before the ark, and ap. Faith was written, 'Oh, highest Father, Ruler, peared as a madman before the king; Judith and Lord, when Rome sinks, where find I a stood before Holofernes, bland, and crafty, and refuge! Bitter satire was not wanting to the dissembling; and Jacob obtained his blessing by piece. Four rows of winged beasts stood cunning. So I, when I look up the cause of the above, who blew their horns, and directed the people against their greatest tyrants

. had to deal pitiless storm against the sinking vessel. The of shifts and wiles, the craftiest and the most

with no frank and open antagonists, but with men lions, wolves, and bears, denoted, as the le- deceitful.” gend explained, the mighty barons and traitorous senators; the dogs, the swine, and the bulls , were the counsellors , the base partisans the glorious history of Rienzi's rise to pow.

We shall not think it necessary to pursue of the nobles; the sheep, the serpents, and foxes, were the officials, the false judges and er; it may be read in De Cerceau, in Gib. notaries; the hares, cats, goats, and apes,

bon, in Sismondi, or more fully in the work

before us. were the robbers, murderers, adulterers, and

Glorious it unquestionably was; thieves among the people. Above was 'God, it was the triumph of liberty,.of order

, of in his majesty, come down to judgment, justice--even of religion---over the wildest with two swords, as in the Apocalypse, out of anarchy, and the most cruel of tyrannies, his mouth. St. Peter and St. Paul' knelt on that of an armed and unprincipled oligarchy; either side in the attitude of supplication. it was the establishment, for a time at least

, Rienzi's own account of another of his well- of law and justice, of peace at home, and resknown attempts to work upon the populace, pect and even awe throughout Italy, almost and to impress them with the sense of the throughout Europe. Let us, however, hear former greatness of Rome, is contained in his Rienzi's own account of the rapidity with letter to the Archbishop of Prague. The which he achieved his wonderful victory:... great bronze tablet containing the lex regia, the decree by which the senate conferred the * By the divine grace, no king, or duke, or imperium upon Vespasian (now in the Cap- prince, or marquis of Italy ever surpassed me in toline Museum) had been employed by Boni- the shortness of the time by which I rose to leface VIII. (out of jealousy to the emperor, ed even to the Saracens. It was achieved in

gitimate power, and earned a fame which reache Rienzi asseris, at this period when it was his seven months, a period which would hardly object to obtain favour with the emperor at the suffice for a king io subdue one of the Roman expense of the pope) to form part of an altar nobles. I (for God was with me) on the first in the Lateran church, with the inscription day of my tribunate (an office whích, from the turned inwards, so that it could not be read. time that the empire had sunk into decrepitude, Rienzi brought forth this tablet, placed it on a had been vacant under tyrannical rule for more kind of high scaffold in the church, and sum

than five hundred years,) I scattered with my moned the people to a lecture on its meaning, fore the face of God, all these nobles, these hat

consuming breath before my face, or rather bein which he enlarged on the former power and ers of God and justice. And thus in truth on the dominion of Rome. It was in this speech day of Pentecost was that word fulfilled which that he made the singular antiquarian blunder is chanted on that day in honour of the Holy which Gibbon takes credit for detecting, bis Ghost : "Let God arise, and let his enemies be rendering pomærium (of which he did not know scattered." And again - Send forth thy Holy the sense) pomarium, and making Italy the Ghost, and thou shalt renew the face of the garden of Rome.

earth.” Certainly hitherto no pontiff or empe. Gibbon has also spoken of Rienzi as the city, who had in general rather triumphed than

ror had been able to expel the nobles from the modern Brutus’ (the expression, indeed, is submitted to the popes and the emperors; and Petrarch’s),' who was concealed under the yet these nobles, thus terribly expelled and es.

iled, when I cited them to appear again in fif the People to remind them of the days of teen days, I had prostrate at my feet, swearing their liberty. He called himself Augustus, obedience to my decrees.'

and chose to be crowned in the month of This was the scene which the old Roman August, * because that month was called af. biographer described so graphically--deh che ter the great emperor, the conqueror of stavano paurosi !

Cleopatra. He called himself Severe, not The magic effect of the Tribune's sudden merely to awe the noble malcontents with apparition at the head of a new Roman re

the stern terrors of his justice, but in respect public, which seemed to aspire to the sway Severinus Boethius. He was knighted ac

to the philosopher, the last of the Romans, of ancient Rome over Italy, and indeed over all the world, must be described, as before, cording to the full ceremonial of chivalry ;in his own words :

being bathed in the porphyry vessel, in which,

according to the legend, Pope Sylvester had • Did I not restore real peace among the cities cleansed Constantine the Great of his leprosy. which were distracted by factions? Did I not Among the banners which he bestowed on deeree that all the citizens who were banished the cities of Italy, which did him a kind of by party violence, with their wretched wives and children, should be re-admitted ? Had I not be- homage, that of Perugia was inscribed with gun to extinguish the party names of Guelf and · Long live the citizens of Perugia and the Gbibelline, for which innumerable victims had memory of Constantine:' Sienna received perished body and soul ; and to reduce the city the arms of the Tribune and those of Rome, of Rome and all Italy into one harmonious, peace the Wolf and her twin Founders ; Florence ful, holy, and single confederacy ; the sacred had the banner of Italy, in which Rome was standards and banners of all the cities having been gathered together, and, as a testimony to represented between two other females, deour holy association and perfect union, conse- signated Italy and the Christian faith. crated and offered with their golden rings on the

Rieuzi professed the most profound resday of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady?' pect for religion: throughout he endeavourIn another passage to the emperor

ed to sanction and hallow his proceedings by

the ceremonial of the church. "I received the homage and submission of the ed the most submissive reverence for the

He professcounts and barons, and almost all the people of Italy. I was honoured by solemn embassies and pope; and--though some of his measures apletters from the emperor of Constantinople and peared to encroach on the prerogatives of the king of England ; the queen of Naples sub- the pontiff, and when his vicar protested mitied herself and her kingdom to the protection against them he drowned his voice with the of the Tribune; the king of Hungary by two sound of his trumpets-he was inclined, as solemn embassies with great urgency brought far as possible, to encourage the notion, that his cause against his queen and against his nobles before my tribunal ; and I venture to say

his rise and his power were, if not authorised, further, that the fame of the Tribune alarmed the approved by his holiness. He asserts insoldan of Babylon. When the Christian pil- deed in one place that he was the greatest grims to the sepulchre of our Lord related all bulwark of the church—Who, in the memihe wonderful and unheard-of circumstances of ory of man, among all the sovereigns of Rome the reformation of Rome to the Christian and and Italy, ever showed greater love for eccle. Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem, both Christians

siastical persons, or so strictly protected and Jews celebrated the event with unusual festivities. When the soldan inquired the cause

ecclesiastical rights? Did I not, before all of these rejoicings, and received this intelligence things, respect all monasteries, hospitals, and about Rome, he ordered all the havens and cities other temples of God: and whenever comon the coast to be fortified and put in a state plaint was made, enforce the peaceful restiof defence.'

tution of all their estates and properties, of It is difficult to decide whether, as he him- which they had been despoiled by the nobles? self admits in one place, it was mere vanity, or This restitution they never could obtain by a vague and not impolitic desire to gather all the bulls and charters of the supreme ponround his own name all the glorious remin- tiff; and now that I am deposed they deplore iscences of every period of history, and so to all their former losses. I wish that the surivet his power on the minds of men, which preme pontiff would condescend to promote induced Rienzi to accumulate on himself so me, or put me to death, according to the many lofty but discordant appellations. The judgment of all religious persons, of the Roman Republic—the Roman Empire, in monks, and the whole clergy. The Triits periods of grandeur and of declension- bune's language asserting himself to be under the Church and the chivalry of the middle the special influence of the Holy Ghost, which ages were blended together in the strange already awoke the jealousy of ihe pontiff, and pomp of his ceremonies and the splendid array of his titles. He was the Tribune of

• Urkunde, si and lxv.

thus early cast a suspicion of heresy around | and most irrational democracy of opinion, his name, he explains away, with more inge- who will suppose that the magic name of nuity perhaps, than ingenuousness. No freedom, or even the sudden consciousness of power but that of the Spirit of God could relief from the burthen of tyranny, and have united the turbulent and dissolute Rostrongly stimulated sense of independence, man people in his favour. It was their unity, could have wrought such a transmutation, not his words and actions, which manifestly not merely in fæce Romuli, but in the displayed the presence of the Holy Ghost.' burghers and in the lower orders of a Baby. At all events, in the proudest days of his cere- lon such as Rome had been for centuries. It monial, especially that of his coronation with was impossible but that the malaria of that the seven crowns, all the most distinguished long servitude should have depressed and clergy of Rome did not scruple to officiate. degraded their whole moral constitution. Of This was the day of his highest magnificence: the old vigorous plebeian Roman they could though the seizure, imprisonment, and dis- have nothing but the turbulence; the frudainful pardon of the nobles, their insurrec- gality, the fortitude, the discipline, the love tion and their defeat took place after this, ne. of order, the respect for law, were virtues ver, as Rienzi confesses in his humiliation, which they certainly could not have acquired was he environed with such pomp or elated by any species of training or practice. If with so much pride. It was on this occa- they were too often the victims of the prosion that he made the profane comparison fligacy of the nobles, submission to such outbetween himself and our Lord; and the strik- rages, however reluctant, is no good school ing circumstance took place which he re- of morals; and the long dominion of the Rolates in his letter to the archbishop of Prague. man clergy, by the admission of all the inIn the midst of all the wild and joyous exul- dignant writers of the times, was little tation of the people, one of his most zealous favourable to those social and domestic virsupporters, a monk, Fra Gulielmo, who was tues, which are the only safeguard of free in high repute for his sanctity, stood apart in popular institutions. Rienzi himself appears a corner of the church and wept bitterly! A fondly to have supposed that he had wrought domestic chaplain of Rienzi's inquired the a permanent moral as well as political revocause of his grief

. Now,' replied the man lution :—It was hardly to be believed that of God, “is thy master cast down from heav- the Roman people, till now full of dissension, en-never saw I man so proud. By the aid and corrupted by every kind of vice, should of the Holy Ghost he has driven the tyrants be so soon reduced to a state of unanimity, from the city without drawing a sword; the to so great a love of justice, virtue, and peace; cities and the sovereigns of Italy have sub- and that hatred, assaults, murder, and rapine mitted to his Why is he so arrogant should be subdued and put an end to. There and ungrateful towards the Most High ? Why is now no person in the city who dares to does he seek earthly and transitory rewards play at forbidden games, or to provoke God for his labours, and in his wanton speech or his saints with blasphemy, there is no liken himself to the Creator? Tell thy layman who keeps his concubine; all ene. master that he can only atone for this offence mies are reconciled; even wives who had by tears of penitence. In the evening the been long cast off return to their husbands.** chaplain communicated this solemn rebuke This passion of virtue- we speak from no to the Tribune: it appalled him for the time, ungenerous mistrust of human nature or of but was soon forgotten in the tumult and her principles-was too sudden and violent hurry of business.

to last

. Nor was the example of Rienzi, On the causes of the rapid and sudden fall though his morals were by all accounts of the Tribune, these documents furnish less blameless, adapted for the enforcement of information. One month after his triumph, the sterner republican virtues. He wanted and the death of the Colonnas under the walls simplicity, solidity, and self-command. His of Rome, Rienzi was an exile. In fact, the ostentation, though in some respects perhaps lofty and imposing edifice of his power was politic, became puerile. His luxury was built upon a quicksand. It would indeed costly, burthensome to the people, have been the most extraordinary moral and offensive to their jealousy. The advance. political miracle, if the Roman people, after ment of his family (the rock upon which centuries of misrule, of degradation, of slave almost all demagogues split) unwise

. Even ry, and of superstition, had suddenly appear his religion, one of the indispensable dominant ed worthy of liberty ; able to maintain, and wisely and moderately to employ, the blessings of a just and equal constitution.

• Letter to a friend in Avignon. From the TuThat man must be far gone in the wildest I rin MS., in Hobhouse, page 537.


as well as

« AnteriorContinuar »