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and perhaps the best critic, that ever lived -- the very martyr to impartiality '). But as this information, that in the begioning of the last century one would have been hooted at for pretending that Boccaccio was not a good man, may seem to come from one of those enemies who are to be suspected, even when they make us a present of truth, a more acceptable contrast with the proseription of the body, soul, and muse of Boccaceio may be found in a few words from the vir. tuous, the patriotic cotemporary, who thought one of the tales of this impure writer worthy a Latin version from his own pen. “I have remarked elsewhere, » says Petrarch, writing to Boccaccio, « that the Book itself has been worried by certain dogs, but stoutly defended by your staff and voice. Nor was I astonished, for I have had proof of the vigour of your mind, and I know you have fallen on that unaccommodating incapable race of mortals who, whatever they either like not, or know not, or cannot do, are sure to reprehend in others; and on those occasions only put on a show of learning and eloquence, but other wise are entirely dumb ?). »
It is satisfactory to find that all the priesthood do not resemble those of Certaldo, and that one of them who did not possess the bones of Boccaccio would not lose the opportunity of raising a cenotaph to his memory. Bevius, canon of Padua, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, erected at Arquà, opposite to the tomb of the Laureate, a tablet, in which he associated Boccaccio to the equal honours of Dante and of Petrarch.
1) Eclaircissement, etc. etc. p. 638. edit. Basle, 1741, in the
Supplement to Bayle's Dictionary. 2) "Animadverti alicubi librum ipsum canum dentibus lacessi
tum, tuo tamen baculo egregiè tuâque voce defensum. Nec miratus sum: nam et vires ingenii tui novi, et scio expertus esses hominum genus insolens et ignavu, qui quicquid ipsi vel nolunt vel nesciunt, vel non possunt, in aliis reprehendunt; ad hoc unum docti et arguti, sed elingues reliqua.»)... Epist. Joan. Boccatio. Opp. tom. i. p. 540. edit. Basil.
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 pavement 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 Bianchi, 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 populous, 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 ). 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 character, that the candid Florentines , in excuse for some imperfections in the philanthropic system of Leopold, are obliged to confess that the sovereign 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) O goverument, chap. ii, sect. xxvi. pag. 208. edit. 1751.
Sidney is, together with Locke and Hoadley, one of Mr. He me's “despicable
Stanza Ixiii, 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 ?). » 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 sixty-seventh 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 pagnae ani
mus, ut eum terrae motum qui multarum urbium Italia, 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 opens 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 unless to one who is fairly within the hills. It then, indeed, appears “a 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 turut 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 mouotains 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 1) “Equites ad ipsas sauces saltus tumulis apte tegentibus locat.
T. Livii, lib. xxi. cap. iy. 2) "Ubi maxime montes Cortonenses Thrasimenus subit. » Ibid. 3) «Inde colles assurgunt. »
Ibid. . 4) Τον μεν κατα πρόσωπος της πορείας
λόφον αυτός κατελάβετο και τους Λίβυας και τους Ίβηρας έχων επ' αυτού