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But a people which subsists by the cultivation of the earth is in a very different situation. The husbandman is bound to the soil on which he labours. A long campaign would be ruinous to him. Still his pursuits are such as give to his rame both the active and the passive strength necessary to a soldier. Nor do they, at least in the infancy of agricultural science, demand his uninterrupted attention. At particular times of the year he is almost wholly unemployed, and can, without injury to himself, afford the time necessary for a short expe dition. Thus, the legions of Rome were supThe season,
scribes the state of Italy at that period:-Ri- of society which facilitated the gigantic condotta tutta in somma pace e tranquillità, colti- quests of Attila and Timour. vata non meno ne' luoghi più montuosi e più sterili che nelle pianure e regioni più fertili, ne sottoposta ad altro imperio che de 'suoi medesimi, non solo era abbondantissima d'abitatori e di ricchezze; ma illustrata sommamente dalla magnificenza di molti principi, dallo splendore di molte nobilissime e bellissime città, dalla sedia e maestà delle religione, fioriva d'uomini prestantissimi nell' amministrazione delle cose pubbliche, e d'ingegni molto nobili in tutte le scienze, ed in qualunque arte preclara ed industriosa." When we peruse this just and splendid description, we can scarcely persuade ourselves that we are read-plied during its earlier wars. ing of times, in which the annals of England during which the farms did not require the and France present us only with a frightful presence of the cultivators, sufficed for a short spectacle of poverty, barbarity, and ignorance. inroad and a battle. These operations, too From the oppressions of illiterate masters, and frequently interrupted to produce decisive rethe sufferings of a brutalized peasantry, it is sults, yet served to keep up among the people a delightful to turn to the opulent and enlighten- degree of discipline and courage which rendered States of Italy-to the vast and magnificent ed them, not only secure, but formidable. The cities, the ports, the arsenals, the villas, the archers and billmen of the middle ages, who, museums, the libraries, the marts filled with with provisions for forty days at their backs, every article of comfort and luxury, the manu- left the fields for the camp, were troops of the factories swarming with artisans, the Apen- same description. nines covered with rich cultivation up to their very summits, the Po wafting the harvests of Lombardy to the granaries of Venice, and carrying back the silks of Bengal and the firs of Siberia to the palaces of Milan. With peculiar pleasure, every cultivated mind must repose on the fair, the happy, the glorious Florence-on the halls which rung with the mirth of Pulci-the cell where twinkled the midnight lamp of Politian-the statues on which the young eye of Michel Angelo glared with the frenzy of a kindred inspiration-the gardens in which Lorenzo meditated some sparkling song for the May-day dance of the Etrurian virgins. Alas, for the beautiful city! Alas, for the wit and the learning, the genius and
But, when commerce and manufactures begin to flourish, a great change takes place. The sedentary habits of the desk and the loom render the exertions and hardships of war insupportable. The occupations of traders and artisans require their constant presence and attention. In such a community, there is little superfluous time; but there is generally much superfluous money. Some members of the society are, therefore, hired to relieve the rest from a task inconsistent with their habits and engagements.
The history of Greece is, in this, as in many other respects, the best commentary on the history of Italy. Five hundred years before the Christian era, the citizens of the republics round the Egean Sea formed perhaps the finest militia that ever existed. As wealth and refinement advanced, the system underwent a gradual alteration. The Ionian States were the first in which commerce and the arts were cultivated,-and the first in which the ancient discipline decayed. Within eighty years after the battle of Platea, mercenary troops were everywhere plying for battles and sieges. In the time of Demosthenes, it was scarcely possible to persuade or compel the Athenians to enlist for foreign service. The laws of Lycur gus prohibited trade and manufactures. The Spartans, therefore, continued to form a national force, long after their neighbours had begun to hire soldiers. But their military spirit declined with their singular institutions. In the second century, Greece contained only one nation of warriors, the savage highlanders of Etolia, who were at least ten generations behind their countrymen in civilization and intelligence.
All the causes which produced these effects among the Greeks acted still more strongly on the modern Italians. Instead of a power like Sparta, in its nature warlike, they had amongst them an ecclesiastical state, in its nature pa cific. Where there are numerous slaves, every freeman is induced by the strongest motives to
familiarize himself with the use of arms. The commonwealths of Italy did not, like those of Greece, swarm with thousands of these household enemies. Lastly, the mode in which military operations were conducted, during the prosperous times of Italy, was peculiarly unfavourable to the formation of an efficient militia. Men covered with iron from head to foot, armed with ponderous lances, and mounted on horses of the largest breed, were considered as composing the strength of an army. The infantry was regarded as comparatively worthless, and was neglected till it became really so. These tactics maintained their ground for centuries in most parts of Europe. That foot soldiers could withstand the charge of heavy cavalry was thought utterly impossible, till, towards the close of the fifteenth century, the rude mountaineers of Switzerland dissolved the spell, and astounded the most experienced generals, by receiving the dreaded shock on an impenetrable forest of pikes.
the King of Naples or the Duke of Milan, the Pope or the Signory of Florence, struck the bargain, was to him a matter of perfect indifference. He was for the highest wages and the longest term. When the campaign for which he had contracted was finished, there was neither law nor punctilio to prevent him from instantly turring his arms against his late masters. The soldier was altogether disjoined from the citizen and from the subject. The natural consequences followed. Left to the conduct of men who neither loved those whom they defended, nor hated those whom they opposed-who were often bound by stronger ties to the army against which they fought than the state which they served-who lost by the termination of the conflict, and gained by its prolongation, war completely changed its character. Every man came into the field of battle impressed with the knowledge that, in a few days, he migh be taking the pay of the power against which he was The use of the Grecian spear, the Roman then employed, and fighting by the side of his sword, or the modern bayonet, might be acquir-enemies against his associates. The strongest ed with comparative ease. But nothing short interest and the strongest feelings concurred to of the daily exercise of years could train the mitigate the hostility of those who had lately man at arms to support his ponderous panoply been brethren in arms, and who might soon be and manage his unwieldy weapon. Through- brethren in arms once more. Their common out Europe, this most important branch of war profession was a bond of union not to be for became a separate profession. Beyond the gotten, even when they were engaged in the Alps, indeed, though a profession, it was not service of contending parties. ilence it was generally a trade. It was the duty and the that operations, languid and indecisive beyond amusement of a large class of country gentle- any recorded in history, marches and countermen. It was the service by which they held marches, pillaging expeditions and blockades, their lands, and the diversion by which, in the bloodless capitulations and equally bloodless absence of mental resources, they beguiled combats, make up the military history of Italy their leisure. But, in the Northern States of during the course of nearly two centuries. Italy, as we have already remarked, the grow-Mighty armies fight from sunrise to sunset. A ing power of the cities, where it had not exter-great victory is won. Thousands of prisoners minated this order of men, had completely are taken; and hardly a life is lost! A pitched changed their habits. Here, therefore, the prac- battle seems to have been really less dangerous tice of employing mercenaries became univer-than an ordinary civil tumult. sal, at a time when it was almost unknown in Courage was now no longer necessary even to the military character. Men grew old in camps, and acquired the highest renown by their warlike achievements, without being once required to face serious danger. The political consequences are too well known. The richest and most enlightened part of the world was left undefended, to the assaults of every barbarous invader-to the brutality of Switzerland, the insolence of France, and the fierce rapacity of Arragon. The moral effects which followed from this state of things were still more remarkable.
When war becomes the trade of a separate class, the least dangerous course left to a government is to form that class into a standing army. It is scarcely possible, that men can pass their lives in the service of a single state, without feeling some interest in its greatness. Its victories are their victories. Its defeats are their defeats. The contract loses something of its mercantile character. The services of the soldier are considered as the effects of patriotic zeal, his pay as the tribute of national gratitude. To betray the power which employs him, to be even remiss in its service, are in his eyes the most atrocious and degrading of crimes.
When the princes and commonwealths of Italy began to use hired troops, their wisest course would have been to form separate military establishments. Unhappily this was not done. The mercenary warriors of the Peninsula, instead of being attached to the service of different powers, were regarded as the common property of all. The connection between the state and its defenders was reduced to the most simple naked traffic. The adventurer brought his horse, his weapons, his strength, and his experience into the market. Whether
Among the rude nations which lay beyond the Alps, valour was absolutely indispensable. Without it, none could be eminent; few could be secure. Cowardice was, therefore, naturally considered as the foulest reproach. Among the polished Italians, enriched by commerce, governed by law, and passionately attached to literature, every thing was done by superiority of intelligence. Their very wars, more pacific than the peace of their neighbours, required rather civil than military qualifications. Hence, while courage was the point of honour in other countries, ingenuity became the point of honour in Italy.
From these principles were deduced, by processes strictly analogous, two opposite sys
of his victim. Something of interest and respect would have mingled with their disapprobation. The readiness of his wit, the clearness of his judgment, the skill with which he penetrates the dispositions of others and conceals his own, would have insured to him a certain portion of their esteem.
tems of fashionable morality.-Through the greater part of Europe, the vices which peculiarly belong to timid dispositions, and which are the natural defence of weakness, fraud, and hypocrisy, have always been most disreputable. On the other hand, the excesses of haughty and daring spirits have been treated with indulgence, and even with respect. The Italians regarded with corresponding lenity those crimes which require self-command, address, quick observation, fertile invention, and profound knowledge of human nature.
So wide was the difference between the Italians and their neighbours. A similar difference existed between the Greeks of the second century before Christ, and their masters the Romans. The conquerors, brave and resolute, faithful to their engagements, and strongly influenced by religious feelings, were, at the same time, ignorant, arbitrary, and cruel. With the vanquished people were deposited all the art, the science, and the litera
Such a prince as our Henry the Fifth would have been the idol of the North. The follies of his youth, the selfish and desolating ambition of his manhood, the Lollards roasted at slow fires, the prisoners massacred on the field of battle, the expiring lease of priestcraft re-ture of the Western world. In poetry, in newed for another century, the dreadful legacy philosophy, in painting, in architecture, in of a causeless and hopeless war, bequeathed to sculpture, they had no rivals. Their manners a people who had no interest in its event, were polished, their perceptions acute, their every thing is forgotten, but the victory of invention ready; they were tolerant, affable, Agincourt! Francis Sforza, on the other hand, humane. But of courage and sincerity they was the model of the Italian hero. He made were almost utterly destitute. The rude warhis employers and his rivals alike his tools. riors who had subdued them consoled themHe first overpowered his open enemies by the selves for their intellectual inferiority, by help of faithless allies; he then armed himself remarking that knowledge and taste seemed against his allies with the spoils taken from only to make men atheists, cowards, and his enemies. By his incomparable dexterity, slaves. The distinction long continued to be he raised himself from the precarious and de- strongly marked, and furnished an admirable pendent situation of a military adventurer to subject for the fierce sarcasm of Juvenal. the first throne of Italy. To such a man much was forgiven-hollow friendship, ungenerous enmity, violated faith. Such are the opposite errors which men commit, when their morality is not a science, but a taste; when they abandon eternal principles for accidental associations.
The citizen of an Italian commonwealth was the Greek of the time of Juvenal, and the Greek of the time of Pericles, joined in one. Like the former, he was timid and pliable, artful and unscrupulous. But, like the latter, he had a country. Its independence and prosperity were dear to him. If his character were degraded by some mean crimes, it was, on the other hand, ennobled by public spirit and by an honourable ambition.
We have illustrated our meaning by an instance taken from history. We will select another from fiction. Othello murders his wife; he gives orders for the murder of his lieutenant; he ends by murdering himself. Yet he never loses the esteem and affection of a Northern reader-his intrepid and ardent spirit redeeming every thing. The unsuspecting confidence with which he listens to his adviser, the agony with which he shrinks from the thought of shame, the tempest of passion with which he commits his crimes, and the haughty fearlessness with which he avows them, give an extraordinary interest to his character. Iago, on the contrary, is the object of universal loathing. Many are inclined to suspect that Shakspeare has been seduced into an exaggeration unusual with him, and has drawn a monster who has no archetype in human nature. Now we suspect, that an Italian audience, in the fifteenth century, would have felt very differently. Othello would have inspired nothing but detestation and contempt. The folly with which he trusts to the friendly professions of a man whose promotion he had obstructed the credulity with which he takes unsupported assertions, and trivial circumstances, for unanswerable proofs-the violence with which he silences the exculpation till the exculpation can only aggravate his misery, would have excited the abhorrence and disgust of the spectators. The conduct of lago they would assuredly have condemned; but they would have condemned it as we condemn that
A vice sanctioned by the general opinion is merely a vice. The evil terminates in itself. A vice condemned by the general opinion produces a pernicious effect on the whole character. The former is a local malady, the latter a constitutional taint. When the reputation of the offender is lost, he too often flings the remains of his virtue after it in despair. The Highland gentleman, who, a century ago, lived by taking black mail from his neighbours, committed the same crime for which Wild was accompanied to Tyburn by the huzzas of two hundred thousand people. But there can be no doubt that he was a much less depraved man than Wild. The deed for which Mrs. Brownrigg was hanged sinks into nothing, when compared with the conduct of the Roman who treated the public to a hundred pair of gladiators. Yet we should probably wrong such a Roman if we supposed that his disposi tion was so cruel as that of Mrs. Brownrigg. In our own country, a woman forfeits her place in society, by what, in a man, is too commonly considered as an honourable distinction, and, at worst, as a venial error. The consequence is notorious. The moral principle of a woman is frequently more impaired by a single lapse from virtue, than that of a man by twenty years of intrigue. Classical antiquity would furnish us with instances
stronger, if possible, than those to which we have referred.
is insensible to shame, but because, in the so-
We must apply this principle to the case be-
them eminent either in active or in contempla- | from it. But they no longer produce their tive life, and fitted them either to govern or to wonted effect. Virgil advises the husbandmen instruct mankind. who removes a plant from one spot to another Every age and every nation has certain to mark its bearings on the cork, and to place characteristic vices, which prevail almost uni- it in the same position with regard to the dif versally, which scarcely any person scruples ferent points of the heaven in which it forto avow, and which even rigid moralists but merly stood. A similar care is necessary in faintly censure. Succeeding generations poetical transplantation. Where it is neglectchange the fashion of their morals, with their ed, we perpetually see the flowers of language, hats and their coaches; take some other kind which have bloomed on one soil, wither on of wickedness under their patronage, and won- another. Yet the Golden Ass is not altogether der at the depravity of their ancestors. Nor is destitute of merit. There is considerable inthis all. Posterity, that high court of appeal | genuity in the allegory, and some vivid colour. which is never tired of eulogizing its own jus-ing in the descriptions. tice and discernment, acts, on such occasions, The Comedies deserve more attention. The like a Roman dictator after a general mutiny. Mandragola, in particular, is superior to the Finding the delinquents too numerous to be all best of Goldoni, and inferior only to the best punished, it selects some of them at hazard to of Molière. It is the work of a man who, if bear the whole penalty of an offence in which he had devoted himself to the drama, would they are not more deeply implicated than those probably have attained the highest eminence, who escape. Whether decimation be a con- and produced a permanent and salutary effect venient mode of military execution, we know on the national taste. This we infer, not so not: but we solemnly protest against the intro-much from the degree, as from the kind of its duction of such a principle into the philoso-excellence. There are compositions which phy of history. indicate still greater talent, and which are In the present instance, the lot has fallen on perused with still greater delight, from which Machiavelli: a man whose public conduct was we should have drawn very different conclu upright and honourable, whose views of mo- sions. Books quite worthless are quite harm rality, where they differed from those of the less. The sure sign of the general decline of persons around him, seem to have differed for an art is the frequent occurrence, not of de the better, and whose only fault was, that, hav-formity, but of misplaced beauty. In general, ing adopted some of the maxims then generally tragedy is corrupted by eloquence, and comedy received, he arranged them more luminously, by_wit. and expressed them more forcibly than any other writer.
The real object of the drama is the exhibi. tion of the human character. This, we conHaving now, we hope, in some degree ceive, is no arbitrary canon, originating in cleared the personal character of Machiavelli, local and temporary associations, like those we come to the consideration of his works. which regulate the number of acts in a play, As a poet, he is not entitled to a very high or syllables in a line. It is the very essence place. The Decennali are merely abstracts of of a species of composition, in which every the history of his own times in rhyme. The idea is coloured by passing through the mestyle and versification are sedulously modelled dium of an imagined mind. To this fundaon those of Dante. But the manner of Dante, mental law every other regulation is suborlike that of every other great original poet, wasdinate. The situations which most signally suited only to his own genius, and to his own develope character form the best plot. The subject. The distorted and rugged diction mother tongue of the passions is the best style. which gives to his unearthly imagery a yet The principle, rightly understood, does not more unearthly character, and seems to pro-debar the poet from any grace of composition. ceed from a man labouring to express that There is no style in which some man may not, which is inexpressible, is at once mean and under some circumstances, express himself. extravagant when misemployed by an imitator. There is therefore no style which the drama The moral poems are in every point superior. rejects, none which it does not occasionally That on Fortune, in particular, and that on Op-require. It is in the discernment of place, of portunity exhibit both justness of thought and time, and of person, that the inferior artists fertility of fancy. The Golden Ass has no- fail. The brilliant rodomontade of Mercutio, thing but the name in common with the Ro- the elaborate declamation of Antony, are, mance of Apuleius, a book which, in spite of where Shakspeare has placed them, natural its irregular plan and its detestable style, is and pleasing. But Dryden would have made among the most fascinating in the Latin lan- Mercutio challenge Tybalt, in hyperboles as guage, and in which the merits of Le Sage and fanciful as those in which he describes the Radcliffe, Bunyan and Crébillon, are singularly chariot of Mab.-Corneille would have repreunited. The Poem of Machiavelli, which is sented Antony as scolding and coaxing Cleoevidently unfinished, is carefully copied from patra with all the measured rhetoric of a funethe earlier Cantos of the Inferno. The writer ral oration. loses himself in a wood. He is terrified by monsters, and relieved by a beautiful damsel. His protectress conducts him to a large menagerie of emblematical beasts, whose peculiari- taste. Unhappily they made all their characties are described at length. The manner asters in their own likeness. Their works bear well as the plan of the Divine Comedy is care- the same relation to the legitimate drama fully imitated. Whole lines are transferred which a transparency bears to a painting; no
No writers have injured the Comedy of Eng land so deeply as Congreve and Sheridan. Both were men of splendid wit and polished