« AnteriorContinuar »
"Now that I have, in some degree, vented my rage against the cruelty you have shown towards my devotion, and that I have pretty well proved, that if you are of wine [divino], I am not of water; tear this to bits, as I too have done; and also take it into your consideration that I am one whose letters even kings and emperors answer."
Passing over some not less singular testimony to the character of this foul-mouthed reprobate, and to the inexplicable successes of his insolence, we shall extract a letter from the Grand Duke Cosmo I., which might well console Michelangelo under the lash of his libels.
"To Messer Michelagnolo Buonarroti.
"As the state of the times, and the accounts of your friends, give us some hopes that you are not alien to the wish of returning once again to Florence, in order to revisit for a time your country and possessions, after so many years, this would afford us a pleasure proportionate to the desire for it we long have entertained. We have, therefore, thought it right to exhort and pray you by this our letter, as we do now most heartily exhort and pray you to this step, persuading you to put yourself in the way of being very graciously received by us. Nor need you nourish a doubt lest we should impose upon you any sort of irksome duty or labour, for we know well the respect in every way due both to your age and to your extraordinary talents. Come, therefore, freely, and we promise that you may pass, entirely at your choice and liking, such stay as it may suit you to make, for to see you here is quite sufficient for us. For the rest, the more you enjoy your relaxation and quiet the better pleased shall we be, nor shall we take any thought but for your honour and comfort. May our Lord God preserve you! From Florence, 8th May, 1557."—Vol. ii., p. 418.
The kindly feelings of the Medici towards artists was of early date. In 1450 we find Giovanni, the younger son of Cosmo, Pater Patria, addressed by an organ-maker as my dearest comrade,' in a letter full of gossip of his trade. Still quainter is an epistle to him, from one who subscribes himself the painter of Camerino who played upon the lute,' containing this proposal:
"Should you not have taken a wife, I, for the great affection and duty I bear towards your highness, will, with your leave, seek for your highness a certain noble girl, who is paternally of the house of Chiavelli, daughter of the late Signor Battista of Fabriano, and by her mother of the house of Varano, being daughter of the Lady Guglielmina, the aunt of our magnificent sovereigns. She is a maiden about thirteen years of age, and in virtue and worth, I do not believe there is her like in Italy; as to her beauty, she will please you before all rivals, and she has a good dowry. I therefore beg that you will condescend to write me your ideas as to this, for it is enough that I have the will in order to bring matters about. And now I recollect that your highness lent me three ducats, and your brother Piero four, when we went to the baths of Petregiolo," &c.-Vol. i., p. 162.
The Medici-Ambassadors' bravery.
Although this Giovanni is scarcely known to history, he seems to have been a zealous patron and collector of art, and he is often so mentioned in the Carteggio. In 1448, he sent an agent into the Low Countries to purchase tapestries and other rich furniture, who reported that he had found nothing of the quality and size wanted for his saloon, the finer descriptions of work being generally made to order. He however mentions having been offered an excellent piece with the history of Sampson, which was too large and too full of dead men, as well as too dear at seven hundred ducats; also a smaller one of Narcissus at a hundred and fifty (about 450l. in modern value), which was scarcely rich enough. (Vol. i., p. 158.)
We might easily swell our pages by similar notices of the Medicean princes, of which the third volume in particular is full. It may however be more acceptable to the reader to glance at a despatch from the ambassadors of Sienna to Pope Gregory XI. at Avignon, in 1373. The envoys were four in number, including Andrea Vanni, who was equally esteemed as a painter and a politician. At Pisa, their port of embarkation, they found an embassy from Florence bound for the same quarter, and they joined in hiring vessels for the transport of both parties. For a bark to carry themselves, they were to pay a hundred florins of gold, and three others were engaged to take the horses, at the rate of four florins for each horse. The Florentines are described as an imposing cavalcade with twenty-four horses, besides a baggage beast for each person, and as handsomely dressed in a uniform colour, with many fine burgess clothes. The Siennese, jealous of this splendour, and anxious for the honour of their republic not to be outdone, immediately purchased a handsome horse for each of their number, costing in all two hundred florins, and also resolved by God's grace to buy each a cloak of fine cloth, without regard to cost, being determined to spend their all rather than fail in doing credit to their mission. But whilst they report this spirited resolution to their government, they take the opportunity of bringing under notice the heavy travelling expenses they were incurring, their lodging alone at inns costing two florins a day, and they being out of pocket in that sum daily beyond their pay; all which they pray may be taken into due consideration, bearing in mind the amount to which their whole journey will at this rate run, incurred only with a view to maintain the credit of the state against invidious sneers. (Vol. i., p. 76.)
From some curious documents in the archives of the same republic, we are enabled to form an idea of the tenure by which the small Italian townships were held in the fifteenth century. The lady Anna Palegina, daughter of Luke Grand Duke of Romeia, and formerly consort of the ex-emperor of Constantinople
and the Greeks (a personage as to whom history seems silent), received a grant from the Seigneury of Sienna in 1472, of the ruinous castle of Montacuto, to her and her heirs, so long as they were neither Italian sovereigns nor the sons of such, nor under suspicion of that commonwealth, to be held with mere and mixed jurisdiction, for the honour of Sienna, to which they were to swear allegiance, and to pay an annual cense of five pounds of wax, and two ducats towards providing a pallium for the cathedral there, besides a quit-rent of five lire every ten years. She and her Greek followers had licence to build there, within five years, a town for at least a hundred families, who were to be subject to the fiscal regulations of Sienna, but might exercise their national customs and laws except in cases of capital crimes. Should they depart within fifty years, the republic was bound to repay twothirds of their outlay on ameliorations. (Vol. i., p. 247.)
Upon many of the most valuable historical materials which these volumes contain, our limits forbid us to enter. We must however, in conclusion, advert to a series of letters addressed by Cola di Rienzo to the government of Florence, during the brief period of his singular ascendancy. They are rare examples of selfish ambition and immoderate conceit, hurried onwards by religious enthusiasm, and disguised under a mantle of holy zeal. Verily, as regards human folly, nothing is new under the sun, and there are few phases even of error and absurdity which have not recurred under congenial circumstances. The cant of the Roundheads surpassed not the extravagance of these despatches, and the devotional phraseology of the Roman Tribune might have flowed from the pen of the English Protector, who fell as far short of him. in vanity as he excelled him in talent. "Nicholas the knight, stern yet clement, the candidate of the Holy Ghost, the liberator of the city, the renovator of Italy, the friend of the universe, the august tribune," elsewhere thus swells his sonorous designations, as tribune by the authority of our ever merciful Lord Jesus Christ for freedom and justice, illustrious liberator of the holy Roman republic, and distinguished prefect of the favoured city." There is throughout his letters a pervading tone of self-glorification, in the double character of a heaven-commissioned envoy, and an efficient reformer of all-prevailing abuses.
His first despatch, dated from the Capitol, on the 7th of June, 1347, sets out with announcing to the government and community of Florence," the joyous gift of the Holy Spirit, which our pious father and Lord, Jesus Christ, on this venerable feast of Pentecost, deigned in mercy to bestow, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, upon this sacred city and its population, and upon all of you the faithful and orthodox people of Christ, who constitute his members." After this imposing prelude, the tribune
The Tribune Rienzi.
thus depicts with eloquent exaggeration the state in which he found Rome. "The condition of the favoured city, its inhabitants, and the entire Roman province was, by the fault of its corrupt and cruel rulers, or rather destroyers, thoroughly convulsed, and so reduced to ruin and misery that, even in the city itself, justice was violated, peace banished, freedom trampled upon, security abrogated, charity scouted, truth trodden down, pity outraged, and piety profaned, and neither strangers, pilgrims, nor even our Roman citizens and beloved neighbours and country folk, could resort hither, or dwell here in safety. On all sides indeed were oppression, sedition, arming, open war, homicides, robberies, raids, and incendiary fires, remorselessly perpetrated on sea and land." These things are described as fatal to pilgrimages and holy visits to the capital of Christendom, which was thus rendered a perilous desert and a den of robbers, whence pious believers could derive neither counsel nor consolation, even the ostensible government conniving at such abuses. In this state of affairs, at the intercession of St. Peter and St. Paul, the tutelary patrons of Rome, Jesus Christ," by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, recalled the people to unity and concord, inflamed them with the desire of freedom, peace, and justice, and stimulated them to seek for safety and defence," which they were enabled to effect by "unanimously, in full public and solemn parliament, committing to our unworthy selves, absolute power, entire authority, and unfettered discretion, for reforming and providing for the tranquil state of the said city and whole Roman province; which commission and authority we have undertaken with devout heart and undaunted resolution, knowing our own feebleness and insufficiency for the support of such an honour, but assured also that it is the Lord's doing, and wondrous in our eyes." This inflated rhapsody at length resolves itself into three requests: that the seigneury of Florence would join in returning public and festal thanks to the Saviour and his apostles for their divine interposition; that they would send deputies to the parliament summoned by Rienzo for the ensuing anniversary of St. Peter and St. Paul, to deliberate upon the welfare and peace of all Italy; and that they would send a skilful jurist to sit at Rome as a consistorial judge during six months, with an experienced die-cutter to prepare a new coinage. A postscript adds that, "a friend of the Lord came, after this letter had been scaled and despatched, whispering to us on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we must postpone the day therein announced until the feast of St. Peter ad vincula," which was done accordingly. The remaining letters, which come down to the 9th of November, are full of equally curious illustrations of the Tribune and his times.-Vol. i., pp. 53, 395-407.
Those who would watch the expiring efforts of Florentine
freedom will find in the Carteggio a multitude of notices as to the fortifications supplied by San Gallo and Michelangelo for the last struggles; indeed the many details regarding military engineering which it supplies are generally precious for history. But it is time for us to close these volumes, which are fertile with important and minute facts as to artists and art, and enriched with valuable notes, supplying or correcting a multiplicity of dates, and affording at the same time a store of esthetical suggestions and critical inferences. Although prematurely cut off in his meritorious career, Gaye has left here a legacy for which the student of art may well be grateful, and which we trust will not be the only portion of his papers and collections given to the public. For the one fault of the work, although it is a material one, he is not to blame, the total absence of such a consulting index as can alone render it generally useful.
ART. V.-1. Gedichte von Ferdinand Freiligrath. Sechste Auflage. (Poems by FERDINAND FREILIGRATH.) 6th. Edition. Cotta, Stuttgart, and Tübingen, 1843.
2. Ein Glaubensbekenntniss. Zeitgedichte von Ferdinand Freiligrath. (A Confession of Faith. Poems for the Times, by FERDINAND FREILIGRATH.) Mayence, 1844.
FERDINAND FREILIGRATH, born on the 17th of June, in Detmold in Westphalia, where his father was a teacher in the burgher school, was early destined for the pursuit of commerce. He is said to have given proofs, even in childhood, of a poetic temperament, and, at the age of seven, to have delighted his father by the production of his first copy of verses. This we cannot help thinking was a perilous thing for the schoolmaster's son. Heaven only knows how narrowly the boy's genius escaped being spoiled beyond cure by educational quackery; but his better genius interposed in the shape of an uncle, a rich merchant, who decreed that his promising nephew should walk in his own footsteps. In consequence of this decision, young Freiligrath was not only permitted, but encouraged, to indulge those tastes and feelings which had been awakened in his infant mind by the pictures in the old family Bible, and by the comments upon them that flowed direct from a mother's lips to the soul of her child. Visions of the East played continually before his vivid fancy; books of travel, and narratives of adventure by sea and land, were the cherished companions of his leisure; and when he left the gymnasium of his native town at the age of fifteen, to be initiated into the mysteries of commerce under his uncle at Soerst, that worthy and enlightened man allowed his