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calling the Giaour, as to subject the Dutch poet to unfavourable
See, yon bright shield Aings back the torches shine,
Two glossy snakes crawl in, athirst for blood,
One sbrieks and flies, and round the buckler clings:
He holds them, strains them, casts them off, in death.
ART. VII.--. Il Duca d'Alene, Narrazione (The Duke of Athens,
a Narration), by N. Tommaseo. 12mo. Paris, 1837. 2. Il Primo Viceré de Napoli (The First Viceroy of Naples), by
E. C. di Belmonte. 12mo. Parigi : Londra, 1838. Not many years ago the novel, as we understand the word, might have been considered as unknown in Italy; and now Italian historic novels and novelists are actually swarming, in numbers, if not quite equal to those of France and Germany, yet approaching very near to our own present home growth. Four authors of this class we some seven or eight numbers back introduced to our readers, and are now called upon to perform the same friendly office to two more of the fraternity, who have arisen since that time. These are the Signori Tommaseo and di Belmonte; which last is, however, as we are assured upon good authority, a mere nom de guerre, assumed in compliance with a German fashion. The author's true patronymic is Capoccio, and he himself, we apprehend, a descendant, if not the direct representative of an Italian warrior celebrated in his novel, and one of the champions of Italy in the well-known combat of thirteen Italian against thirteen French knights, fought for the express purpose of ascertaining the relative military, or rather chivalrous prowess of the two nations; and in which victory decided nearly, if not quite, for the last time, in favour of the former mistress of the world.
Both Il Duca d'Atene, and Il Primo Viceré di Napoli, are extremely popular in Italy, and are moreover considered there as decidedly historical. They nevertheless differ very materially, not to say essentially, from each other in character; and, to speak sooth, neither of them answers precisely to our idea of the historic novel. Il Duca d'Atene is, in conception and situation, pretty much what our last number predicated of Ida della Torre, save that it has far less intermixture of love story: in fact there is very little of love itself, and of incident arising out of the passion, none. Its merits lie in embodying the humours of the democratic Florentine nobles, people, and populace, in their republican condition; and presenting vivid, striking, and instructive views of the nature of democracy, even in a small, highly cultivated, and, for the times, highly enlightened state.
n Primo Viceré di Napoli on the contrary, in due compliance with the most approved recipes for the concoction of these same historic novels, combines a regular love story with a fragment of history, but does not blend them. The history comes first; and the love story, with the exception of a bare mention of its existence in the early part, follows only when all historical curiosity,
all doubt, and sympathy are ended. Unfortunately, too, for our gentlest readers, this portion is interesting chiefly for the picture it affords of the state of the country at the opening of the sixteenth century. But we must speak of these works separately, and somewhat more in detail, begioning with the former and far better performance, Il Duca d'Atene, inasmuch as it takes precedence in time both of action and of publication.
As every reader may not be so familiar with the history of the Italian republics as M. Sismonde de Sismondi, it may not be amiss to give the origin of the tale, for the sake of rendering intelligible the portion of history wrought out in this narration, as Signor Tommaseo is pleased to call it.
The Florentines, who long alternated between the extremes of self-government, to adopt the favourite liberal expression for a sort of dictatorship, in June 1342 elected the French Comte de Brienne, titular Duke of Athens, Captain and Signor of Florence for one year. In the following September they were induced by the duke to make the term of his rule coequal with that of his natural life; and on the 26th of the following July, exasperated by his arbitrary tyranny, they rose in rebellion against him. This insurrection is the subject of the narration before us.
The opening of the book exhibits, in a series of sketches, the vindictive grief of parents unjustly bereaved of their children by legal or illegal murders; the insolence and licentious amours of the duke's creatures, whether foreigners, or the yet more detested exiles of neighbouring Italian cities, and conspiracy ripening amongst nearly the whole population of Florence. This too, not in one indivisible, nor even in a federate form, but, as it should seem, a variety of unconnected conspiracies, scarcely aware of each other's existence; whilst the moment that is to call them all into action appears to be still remote and uncertain. many important secrets, each known to so many persons, were not likely to remain long impenetrable to the ruler; and accordingly we early find the fears of one conspirator revealing that which, as implicating the principal nobles, appears the chief conspiracy, to the duke, who immediately secures the person of its leader, Adimari. This blow brings the heads of the scattered conspiracies together on the very night of the arrest; when, in order if possible to save Adimari from death or torture, the ensuing morning is appointed for the general rising, and an introductory popular movement is arranged to collect and excite the rabble. The outbreak affords a lively picture:
" As nine* o'clock struck, a tumult arose in Porta San Piero : an ap
* Italian hours are counted from sun-set; so this would be, in July, between four and five o'clock in the morning,
prentice first commenced, screaming from bis shop-door to a neighbouring apprentice,– We are now not Florentines but Frenchmen, I tell you, baving a French ruler : he who calls himself a Florentine is a traitor!'
“ • Who denies it?' cried the other, with the full strength of his lungs, *We are Frencbmen; I well know that!'
“ Thou'rt fouting me, and dost not speak as thou truly thinkest,' replied the first; and thou liest in thy throat!'
« • And I tell thee that Florence is no Florence now, and that thou’rt a scoundrel, the very refuse of Porta San Piero.'
“ From all sides the people flocked to the scene of strife.
“ Lower down, in Mercato Vecchio, two blackguards got up another quarrel. “Thou grumblest,' said the one, because wine is dear; and I tell thee the dearer wine is, the better it relishes, and cheers without getting into the bead, and leaves us free to think of the mercies of our lord the duke.'
“ To which the second replied, “Who denies the duke's mercies? Villain, would'st set me at loggerheads with Guilio d'Assisi? (the bargello, or bead of the police.) I'll have a bout with thee first.'
“ And grappling each other, they rolled together in the kennel. The noise attracted a crowd.
“When hark ! a cry of • To arms !' bursts from one of the nearest houses, and then from an opposite and distant street, and now it resounds on all sides, filling the city like the deep voice of a bell in the silence of the night. Some shops are already closed, and the owners burrying along, shouting ' To arms! Other tradesmen are.precipitately shutting up theirs; artificers and labourers run each to his owu ward, whilst a few companies, some mounted, others on foot, impetuously scour through the town. Men in the streets call forth their comrades who had remained at home. Cries burtle in the air like arrows in battle. Banners with the arms of the people, a cross gules on a field argent, some with, some without the regal portcullis, waved from the mansions of the noble and the citizen, and even from the meanest bovels. The red lily too was there ; whilst the duke's banners were thrown down, and dragged by a rabble of boys through the filth and the blood from the slaughterhouses, with cries of Death to the duke and his minions! Long live the people and commonwealth of Florence !' One thought, that of mutual assistance, filled every mind. From the windows the women, loudly reiterating the cries of Death !' and 'Long life!' threw, one a flag, another a spear, to husband or to father. Others knelt to pray, but interrupted their devotions, to chorus from their windows the cry of
Death! Death!' The streets were instantaneously thronged with people, active as ants expecting rain. *
“ All was in order ; every man ranged under the banners of his ward; and they moved as lightly under the weight of their arms as in the burgher frock ; both tradesmen and artificers being well trained to break opposing breastplates with the charge of their spears. The Adimari rode through the six wards, preparing for attack and defence; of the other conspirators, each provided for his own district. Even the Medici appeared, as if from underground, stirred partly by shame, partly by