صور الصفحة
PDF

34.
What is her pyramid of precious stones?

Stanza lx. line 1. Our veneration for the Medici begins with Cosmo and expires with his grandson; that stream is pure only at the source; and it is in search of some memorial of the virtuous republicans of the family that we visit the church of St. Lorenzo at Florence. The tawdry, glaring, unfinished chapel in that church, designed for the mausoleum of the Dukes of Tuscany, set round with crowns and coffins, gives birth to no emotions but those of contempt for the lavish vanity of a race of despots, whilst the pavenient slab simply inscribed to the Father of his Country, reconciles us to the name of Medici ?). It was very natural for Corinna 2) to suppose that the statue raised to the Duke of Urbino in the capella de depositi was intended for his great namesake; but the magnificent Lorenzo is only the sharer of a coffin half hidden in a niche of the sacristy. The decay of Tuscany dates from the sovereignty of the Medici. Of the sepulchral peace which succeeded to the establishment of the reigning families in Italy, our own Sidney has given us a glowing, but a faithful picture. «Notwithstanding all the seditions of Florence, and other cities of Tuscany, the horrid factions of Guelphs and Ghibelins, Neri and Bi. anchi, nobles and commons, they continued po. pulous, strong, and exceeding rich; but in the space of less than a hundred and fifty years, the peaceable reign of the Medices is thought to have destroyed nine parts in ten of the people of that province. Amongst other things it is remarkable, that when Philipp the Second of Spain gave Sienna to the Duke of Florence, his embassador then at Rome sent him word, that he had given away more than 650.000 subjects; and it is not believed there are now 20,000 souls inhabiting that city and territory. Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, Cortona,

1, Cosmus Medices. Decreto publico. Pater Patriae. 2 Corinne, liv. xviii. cap. iii. vol. iii. page 248.

and other towns, that were then good and popalous, are in the like proportion diminished, and Florence more than any. When that city had been long troubled with seditions, tumults, and wars, for the most part unprosperous, they still retained such strength, that when Charles Vill. of France, being admitted as a friend with his whole army, which soon after conquered the king. dom of Naples, thought to master them, the people, taking arms, struck such a terror into him, that he was glad to depart upon such conditions as they thought fit to impose. Machiavel reports, that in that time Florence alone, with the Val d'Arno, a small territory belonging to that city, could, in a few hours, by the sound of a bell, bring together 135.000 well-armed man; whereas now that city, with all the others in that province, are brought to such despicable weakness, empti ness, poverty, and baseness, that they can neither resist the oppressions of their own prince, nor defend him or themselves if they were assaulted by a foreign enemy. The people are dispersed or destroyed, and the best families sent to seek habitations in Venice, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and Lucca. This is not the effect of war or pestilence; they enjoy a perfect peace, and suffer no other plague than the government they are under 1). From the usurper Cosmo down to the imbecile Gaston, we look in vain for any of those unmixed qualities which should raise a patriot to the command of his fellow-citizens. The Grand Dukes, and particularly the third Cosmo, had operated so entire a change in the Tuscan cha racter, that the candid Florentines, in excuse for some imperfections in the philanthropic system of Leopold, are obliged to confess that the sovereiga was the only liberal man in his dominions. Yet that excellent prince himself had no other notion of a national assembly, than of a body to represent the wants and wishes, not the will, of the people.

1) On government, chap. ii, sect. xxvi. pag. 208. edit. 1751.

Sidney is, together with Locke and Hoadley, one of Mr. He me's “despicable » writers.

35.
An earthquake reeld unheededly away.

Stanza lxiii, line 5. “And such was their mutual animosity, so intent were they upon the battle, that the earthquake, which overthrew in great part many of the cities of Italy, which turned the course of rapid streams, poured back the sea upon the rivers, and tore down the very mountains, was not felt by one of the combatants 1). Such is the description of Livy. It may be doubted whether modern tactics would admit of such an abstraction

The site of the battle of Thrasimene is not to be mistaken. The traveller from the village under Cortona to Casa di Piano, the next stage on the way to Rome, has for the first two or three mi. les, around him, but more particularly to the right, that flat land which Hannibal laid waste in order to induce the consul Flaminius to move from Arezzo. On his left, and in front of him, is a ridge of hills bending down towards the lake of Thrasimene, called by Livy "montes Cortonen. ses, and now named the Gualandra. These hills he approaches at Ossaja, a village which the iti. neraries pretend to have been so denominated from the bones found there: but there have been no bones found there, and the battle was fought on the other side of the hill. From Ossaja the road begins to rise a little, but does not pass into the roots of the mountains until the sixtyseventh mi. lestone from Florence. The ascent thence is not steep but perpetual, and continues for twenty mi. nutes. The lake is soon seen below on the right, with Borghetto, a round tower close upon the water; and the undulating hills partially covered with wood, amongst which the road winds, sink by degrees into the marshes near to this tower.

1) "Tantusque fuit ardor animorum, adeo intentus pugnae ani

mus, ut eum terrae motum qui multarum urbium Italiae magnas partes prostravit, avertitque cursu rapido amnes, mare fluminibus invexit, montes lapsu ingenti proruit, nemo pugnantium senserit. » ... Tit. Liv. lib. xxii. cap. xii.

Lower than the road, down to the right amidst these woody hillocks, Hannibal placed his horse!), in the jaws of or rather above the pass, which was between the lake and the present road, and most probably close to Borghetto, just under the lowest of the «tumuli ?). On a summit to the left, above the road, is an old circular ruin which the peasants call "the Tower of Hannibal the Carthaginian. Arrived at the highest point of the road, the traveller has a partial view of the fatal plain, which opeus fully upon him as he descends the Gualandra. He soon finds himself in a vale enclosed to the left and in front and behind him by the Gualandra hills, bending round in a seg. ment larger than a semicircle, and running down at each end to the lake, which obliques to the right and forms the chord of this mountain are. The position cannot be guessed at from the plains of Cortona, nor appears to be so completely enclosed iwless to one who is fairly within the hills. It then, indeed, appears sa place made as it were on purpose for a snare, » locus insidiis natus. «Borghetto is then found to stand in a narrow marshy pass close to the hill and to the lake, whilst there is no other outlet at the opposite turu of the mountains than through the little town of Passignano, which is pushed into the water by the foot of a high rocky acclivity 3). There is a woody eminence branching down from the mouptains into the upper end of the plain nearer to the side of Passignano, and on this stands a white village called Torre. Polybius seems to allude to this eminence as the one on which Hannibal encamped and drew out his heavy armed Africans and Spaniards in a conspicuous position 4). From

[ocr errors]

this spot he despatched his Balearic and light. armed troops round through the Gualandra heights to the right, so as to arrive unseen and form an ambush amongst the broken acclivities which the road now passes, and to be ready to act upon the left flank and above the enemy, whilst the horse shnt up the pass behind. Flaminius came to the lake near Borghetto at sunset; and, without sending any spies before him, marched through the pass the next morning before the day had quite brocken, so that he perceived nothing of the horse and light troops above and about him, and saw only the heavy-armed Carthaginians in front on the hill of Torre 1). The consul began to draw out his army in the flat, and in the mean time the horse in ambush occupied the pass behind him at Borghetto. Thus the Romans were comipletely inclosed, having the lake on the right, the main army on the hill of Torre in front, the Gualandra hilis filled with the light-armed on their left flank, and being prevented from receding by the cavalry, who, the farther they advanced, stopped up all the outlets in the rear. A fog rising from the lake now spread itself over the army of the consul, but the highlands were in the sunshine, and all the different corps in ambush looked towards the hill of Torre for the order of attack. Hannibal gave the signal, and moved down from his post on the height. At the same moment all his troops on the eminences behind and in the flank of Flaminius, rushed forwards as it were with one accord into the plain. The Ro. mans, who were forming their array in the mist, suddenly heard the shouts of the enemy amongst them, on every side, and before they could fall into their ranks, or draw their swords, or see

"flank of Flan into the plainin the mist,

XaTEOT POTONé Davos. Hist. lib. iii. cap. 83. The account in Polybius is not so easily reconcileable with present appearances as that in Livy: he talks of bills to the right and left of the pass and valley; but when Flaminius

entered he had the lake at the right of both." 1) "A tergo et super caput deceper e insidiae.» T. Liv. etc

« السابقةمتابعة »