By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Renaissance in Italy: Italian Literature - Part 2 (of 2)
Author: Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Renaissance in Italy: Italian Literature - Part 2 (of 2)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Special thanks to Andrew D. Hwang.

[Transcriber's Note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected
without note. For ease of reading, the Table of Contents has been
formatted as paragraphs, rather than as a table.

This is Part II of a two-part work. Part I is available at Project



_In Two Parts_



_Author of_

_"Studies of the Greek Poets," "Sketches in Italy and Greece," etc._

    "Italia, sepoltura
    De' lumi suoi, d'esterni candeliere"

    CAMPANELLA: _Poesie Filosofiche_.









_Orlando Furioso_ and _Divina Commedia_--Ariosto expresses the
Renaissance as Dante the Middle Ages--Definition of Romantic, Heroic,
Burlesque, Heroic-comic, and Satiric Poems--Ariosto's Bias toward
Romance--Sense of Beauty in the _Cinque Cento_--Choice of Boiardo's
unfinished Theme--The Propriety of this Choice--Ariosto's Irony and
Humor--The Subject of the _Furioso_--Siege of Paris--Orlando's
Madness--Loves of Ruggiero and Bradamante--Flattery of the House of
Este--The World of Chivalry--Ariosto's Delight in the Creatures of his
Fancy--Close Structure of the Poem--Exaggeration of Motives--Power of
Picture-painting--Faculty of Vision--Minute Description--Rhetorical
Amplification--Rapidity of Movement--Solidity--Nicety of Ethical
Analysis--The Introductions to the Cantos--Episodes and
_Novelle_--Imitations of the Classics--Power of Appropriation and
Transmutation--Irony--Astolfo's Journey to the Moon--Ariosto's
Portrait--S. Michael in the Monastery--The Cave of Sleep--Humor--Pathos
and Sublimity--Olimpia and Bireno--Conception of Female Character--The
Heroines--Passion and Love--Ariosto's Morality--His Style--The
Epithet of Divine--Exquisite Finish--Ariosto and Tasso--Little
Landscape-Painting--Similes--Realism--Adaptation of Homeric
Images--Ariosto's Relation to his Age 1



Boccaccio's Legacy--Social Conditions of Literature in
Italy--Importance of the _Novella_--Definition of the
_Novella_--Method of the Novelists--Their Style--Materials used--Large
Numbers of _Novelle_ in Print--Lombard and Tuscan Species--Introductions
to Il Lasca's _Cene_, Parabosco's _Diporti_--Bandello's
Dedications--Life of Bandello--His Moral Attitude--Bandello as an
Artist--Comparison of Bandello and Fletcher--The Tale of _Gerardo and
Elena_--_Romeo and Juliet_--The Tale of _Nicuola_--The _Countess of
Salisbury_--Bandello's Apology for his Morals and his Style--Il
Lasca--Mixture of Cruelty and Lust--Extravagant Situations--Treatment
of the _Parisina_ Motive--The Florentine _Burla_--Apology for Il
Lasca's Repulsiveness--Firenzuola--His Life--His Satires on the
Clergy--His Dialogue on Beauty--Novelettes and Poems--Doni's
Career--His Bizarre Humor--Bohemian Life at Venice--The
Pellegrini--His _Novelle_--Miscellaneous Works--The _Marmi_--The
Novelists of Siena--Their specific Character--Sermini--Fortini--Bargagli's
Description of the Siege of Siena--Illicini's Novel of _Angelica_--The
_Proverbi_ of Cornazano--The _Notti Piacevoli_ of Straparola--The
Novel of _Belphegor_--Straparola and Machiavelli--Giraldi Cinthio's
_Hecatommithi_--Description of the Sack of Rome--Plan of the
Collection--The Legend of the Borgias--Comparison of Italian Novels
and English Plays 51



First attempts at Secular Drama--The _Orfeo_ and _Timone_--General
Character of Italian Plays--Court Pageants and Comedies borrowed from
the Latin--Conditions under which a National Drama is formed--Their
absence in Italy--Lack of Tragic Genius--Eminently Tragic Material in
Italian History--The Use made of this by English Playwrights--The
Ballad and the Drama--The Humanistic Bias in Italy--Parallels between
Greek and Italian Life--Il Lasca's Critique of the Latinizing
Playwrights--The _Sofonisba_ of Trissino--Rucellai's _Rosmunda_--Sperone's
_Canace_--Giraldi's _Orbecche_--Dolce's _Marianna_--Transcripts from
the Greek Tragedians and Seneca--General Character of Italian
Tragedies--Sources of their Failure--Influence of Plautus and Terence
over Comedy--Latin Comedies acted at Florence, Rome, Ferrara--Translations
of Latin Comedies--Manner of Representation at Court--Want of
Permanent Theaters--Bibbiena's _Calandra_--Leo X. and Comedy at
Rome--Ariosto's Treatment of his Latin Models--The _Cassaria_,
_Suppositi_, _Lena_, _Negromante_, _Scolastica_--Qualities of
Ariosto's Comedies--Machiavelli's Plays--The _Commedia in
Prosa_--Fra Alberigo and Margherita--The _Clizia_--Its Humor--The
_Mandragola_--Its sinister Philosophy--Conditions under which it was
Composed--Aretino disengages Comedy from Latin Rules--His Point of
View--The _Cortegiana_, _Marescalco_, _Talanta_--Italy had innumerable
Comedies, but no great Comic Art--General Character of the _Commedia
Erudita_--Its fixed Personages--Gelli, Firenzuola, Cecchi, Ambra, Il
Lasca--The Farsa--Conclusion on the Moral Aspects of Italian Comedy 108



The Idyllic Ideal--Golden Age--Arcadia--Sannazzaro--His Life--The Art
of the _Arcadia_--Picture-painting--Pontano's Poetry--The Neapolitan
Genius--Baiæe and Eridanus--Eclogues--The Play of _Cefalo_--Castiglione's
_Tirsi_--Rustic Romances--Molza's Biography--The _Ninfa
Tiberina_--Progress of Didactic Poetry--Rucellai's _Api_--Alamanni's
_Coltivazione_--His Life--His Satires--Pastoral Dramatic Poetry--The
_Aminta_--The _Pastor Fido_--Climax of Renaissance Art 194



The Italians lose their Language--Prejudice against the Mother
Tongue--Problem of the Dialects--Want of a Metropolis--The Tuscan
Classics--Petrarch and Boccaccio--Dante Rejected--False Attitude of the
Petrarchisti--Renaissance Sense of Beauty unexpressed in Lyric--False
Attitude of Boccaccio's Followers--Ornamental Prose--Speron Sperone--The
Dictator Bembo--His Conception of the Problem--The _Asolani_--Grammatical
Essay--Treatise on the Language--Poems--Letters--Bembo's Place in the
_Cortegiano_--Castiglione on Italian Style--His Good Sense--Controversies
on the Language--Academical Spirit--Innumerable Poetasters--La
Casa--His Life--_Il Forno_--Peculiar Melancholy--His Sonnets--Guidiccioni's
Poems on Italy--Court Life--Caro and Castelvetro--Their
Controversies--Castelvetro accused of Heresy--Literary Ladies--Veronica
Gambara--Vittoria Colonna--Her Life--Her Friendship for Michelangelo--Life
of Bernardo Tasso--His _Amadigi_ and other Works--Life of Giangiorgio
Trissino--His Quarrel with his Son Giulio--His Critical Works--The
_Italia Liberata_ 246



Relation of Satiric to Serious Literature--Italy has more
Parody and Caricature than Satire or Comedy--Life of Folengo--His
_Orlandino_--Critique of Previous Romances--Lutheran Doctrines--Orlando's
Boyhood--Griffarosto--Invective against Friars--Maccaronic Poetry--The
Travesty of Humanism--Pedantesque Poetry--Glottogrysio Ludimagistro--Tifi
Odassi of Padua--The Pedant Vigonça--Evangelista Fossa--Giorgio
Alione--Folengo employs the Maccaronic Style for an Epic--His Address to
the Muses--His Hero Baldus--Boyhood and Youth--Cingar--The Travels of the
Barons--Gulfora--Witchcraft in Italy--Folengo's Conception of
Witchcraft--Entrance into Hell--The Zany and the Pumpkin--Nature of
Folengo's Satire--His Relation to Rabelais--The _Moscheis_--The
_Zanitonella_--Maccaronic Poetry was Lombard--Another and Tuscan Type of
Burlesque--_Capitoli_--Their Popular Growth--Berni--His Life--His
Mysterious Death--His Character and Style--Three Classes of _Capitoli_--The
pure Bernesque Manner--Berni's Imitators--The Indecency of this
Burlesque--Such Humor was Indigenous--_Terza Rima_--Berni's Satires on
Adrian VI. and Clement VII.--His Caricatures--His Sonnet on Aretino--The
_Rifacimento_ of Boiardo's _Orlando_--The Mystery of its
Publication--Albicante and Aretino--The Publishers Giunta and
Calvi--Berni's Protestant Opinions--Eighteen Stanzas of the _Rifacimento_
printed by Vergerio--Hypothesis respecting the Mutilation of the
_Rifacimento_--Satire in Italy 309



Aretino's Place in Italian Literature and Society--His Birth and
Boyhood--Goes to Rome--In the Service of Agostino Chigi--At
Mantua--Gradual Emergence into Celebrity--The Incident of Giulio
Romano's Postures--Giovanni delle Bande Nere--Aretino settles at
Venice--The Mystery of his Influence--Discerns the Power of the
Press--Satire on the Courts--Magnificent Life--Aretino's Wealth--His
Tributary Princes--Bullying and Flattery--The Divine Aretino--His
Letter to Vittoria Colonna--To Michelangelo--His Admiration of
Artists--Relations with Men of Letters--Epistle to Bernardo Tasso--His
Lack of Learning--Disengagement from Puristic Prejudices--Belief in
his own Powers--Rapidity of Composition--His Style--Originality and
Independence--Prologue to _Talanta_--Bohemian Comrades--Niccolò
Franco--Quarrel with Doni--Aretino's Literary Influence--His
Death--The Anomaly of the Renaissance--Estimate of Aretino's Character



Frivolity of Renaissance Literature--The Contrast presented by
Machiavelli--His Sober Style--Positive Spirit--The Connection of his
Works--Two Men in Machiavelli--His Political Philosophy--The
_Patria_--Place of Religion and Ethics in his System--Practical Object of
his Writings--Machiavellism--His Conception of Nationality--His
Relation to the Renaissance--Contrast between Machiavelli and
Guicciardini--Guicciardini's Doctrine of Self-interest--The Code of Italian
Corruption--The Connection between these Historians and the
Philosophers--General Character of Italian Philosophy--The Middle Ages in
Dissolution--Transition to Modern Thought and Science--Humanism
counterposed to Scholasticism--Petrarch--Pico--Dialogues on
Ethics--Importance of Greek and Latin Studies--Classical substituted for
Ecclesiastical Authority--Platonism at Florence--Ficino--Translations--New
Interest in the Problem of Life--Valla's Hedonism--The Dialogue _De
Voluptate_--Aristotle at Padua and Bologna--Arabian and Greek
Commentators--Life of Pietro Pomponazzi--His Book on Immortality--His
Controversies--Pomponazzi's Standpoint--Unlimited Belief in
Aristotle--Retrospect over the Aristotelian Doctrine of God, the World, the
Human Soul--Three Problems in the Aristotelian System--Universals--The
First Period of Scholastic Speculation--Individuality--The Second Period of
Scholasticism--Thomas Aquinas--The Nature of the Soul--New Impulse given to
Speculation by the Renaissance--Averroism--The Lateran Council--Is the Soul
Immortal?--Pomponazzi reconstructs Aristotle's Doctrine by help of
Alexander of Aphrodisias--The Soul is Material and Mortal--Man's Place in
Nature--Virtue is the End of Man--Pomponazzi on Miracles and Spirits--His
Distinction between the Philosopher and the Christian--The Book on
Fate--Pomponazzi the Precursor--Coarse Materialism--The School of
Cosenza--Aristotle's Authority Rejected--Telesio--Campanella--Bruno--The
Church stifles Philosophy in Italy--Italian Positivism 429



Retrospect--Meaning of the Renaissance--Modern Science and
Democracy--The Preparation of an Intellectual Medium for
Europe--The Precocity of Italy--Servitude and Corruption--Antiquity
and Art--The Italian Provinces--Florence--Lombardy and Venice--The
March of Ancona, Urbino, Umbria--Perugia--Rome--Sicily and
Naples--Italian Ethnology--Italian Independence on the Empire and the
Church--Persistence of the Old Italic Stocks--The New Nation--Its
Relation to the Old--The Revival of Learning was a National
Movement--Its Effect on Art--On Literature--Resumption of the Latin
Language--Affinities between the Latin and Italian Genius--Renascence
of Italian Literature combined with Humanism--Greek Studies
comparatively Uninfluential--The Modern Italians inherited Roman
Qualities--Roman Defects--Elimination of Roman Satire--Decay of Roman
Vigor--Italian Realism--Positivism--Sensuousness--Want of Mystery,
Suggestion, Romance--The Intellectual Atmosphere--A Literature of Form
and Diversion--Absence of Commanding Genius--Lack of Earnestness--Lack of
Piety--Materialism and Negation--Idyllic Beauty--The Men of the Golden
Age--The Cult of Form--Italy's Gifts to Europe--The Renaissance is not
to be Imitated--Its Importance in Human Development--Feudalism,
Renaissance, Reformation, Revolution 488


No. I.--Italian Comic Prologues 533

No. II.--Passages Translated from Folengo and Berni, which Illustrate
the Lutheran Opinions of the Burlesque Poets 536

No. III.--On Palmieri's "Città di Vita" 548





     _Orlando Furioso_ and _Divina Commedia_--Ariosto expresses
     the Renaissance as Dante the Middle Ages--Definition of
     Romantic, Heroic, Burlesque, Heroic-comic, and Satiric
     Poems--Ariosto's Bias toward Romance--Sense of Beauty in the
     _Cinque Cento_--Choice of Boiardo's unfinished Theme--The
     Propriety of this Choice--Ariosto's Irony and Humor--The
     Subject of the _Furioso_--Siege of Paris--Orlando's
     Madness--Loves of Ruggiero and Bradamante--Flattery of the
     House of Este--The World of Chivalry--Ariosto's Delight in
     the Creatures of his Fancy--Close Structure of the
     Poem--Exaggeration of Motives--Power of
     Picture-painting--Faculty of Vision--Minute
     Description--Rhetorical Amplification--Rapidity of
     Movement--Solidity--Nicety of Ethical Analysis--The
     Introductions to the Cantos--Episodes and
     _Novelle_--Imitations of the Classics--Power of
     Appropriation and Transmutation--Irony--Astolfo's Journey to
     the Moon--Ariosto's Portrait--S. Michael in the
     Monastery--The Cave of Sleep--Humor--Pathos and
     Sublimity--Olimpia and Bireno--Conception of Female
     Character--The Heroines--Passion and Love--Ariosto's
     Morality--His Style--The Epithet of Divine--Exquisite
     Finish--Ariosto and Tasso--Little
     Landscape-Painting--Similes--Realism--Adaptation of Homeric
     Images--Ariosto's Relation to his Age.

Ariosto's Satires make us know the man _intus et in cute_--to the very
core. The lyrics have a breadth and amplitude of style that mark no
common master of the poet's craft. Yet neither the Satires nor the
Lyrics reveal the author of the _Furioso_. The artist in Ariosto was
greater than the man; and the _Furioso_, conceived and executed with
no reference to the poet's personal experience, enthroned him as the
Orpheus of his age. The _Orlando Furioso_ gave full and final
expression to the _cinque cento_, just as the _Divina Commedia_
uttered the last word of the middle ages. The two supreme Italian
singers stood in the same relation to their several epochs. Dante
immortalized medieval thoughts and aspirations at the moment when they
were already losing their reality for the Italian people. Separated
from him by a short interval of time, came Petrarch, who substituted
the art of poetry for the prophetic inspiration; and while Petrarch
was yet singing, Boccaccio anticipated in his multifarious literature
the age of the Renaissance. Then the evolution of Italian literature
was interrupted by the classical revival; and when Ariosto appeared,
it was his duty to close the epoch which Petrarch had inaugurated and
Boccaccio had determined, by a poem investing Boccaccio's world, the
sensuous world of the Renaissance, with the refined artistic form of
Petrarch. This he accomplished. But even while he was at work, Italy
underwent those political and mental changes, in the wars of invasion,
in the sack of Rome, in the siege of Florence, in the Spanish
occupation, in the reconstruction of the Papacy beneath the pressure
of Luther's schism, which ended the Renaissance and opened a new age
with Tasso for its poet. Those, therefore, who would comprehend the
spirit of Italy upon the point of transition from the middle ages,
must study the Divine Comedy. Those who would contemplate the genius
of the Renaissance, consummated and conscious of its aim, upon the
very verge of transmutation and eventual ruin, must turn to the
_Orlando Furioso_. It seems to be a law of intellectual development
that the highest works of art can only be achieved when the forces
which produced them are already doomed and in the act of

[Footnote 1: Students who care to trace the thoughts and characters of
this great poem to their sources, should read Pio Rajna's exhaustive
essay, _Le Fonti dell'Orlando Furioso_, Firenze, Sansoni, 1876. The
details of the Orlando are here investigated and referred with
scientific patience to Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and other
originals. If anything, Signor Rajna may seem to have overstrained the
point of critical sagacity. It is hardly probable that Ariosto, reader
of few books as Virginio says he was, should have drawn on stores so
multifarious of erudition.]

Italian critics have classified their narrative poems, of which the
name is legion, into Romantic, Heroic, Burlesque, Heroic-comic, and
Satiric.[2] The romantic poet is one who having formed a purely
imaginary world, deals with the figments of his fancy as though they
were realities. His object is to astonish, fascinate, amuse and
interest his readers. Nothing comes amiss to him, whether the nature
of the material be comic or tragic, pathetic or satiric, miraculous or
commonplace, impossible or natural, so long as it contributes grace
and charm to the picture of adventurous existence he desires to paint.
His aim is not instruction; nor does he seek to promote laughter.
Putting all serious purposes aside, he creates a wonderland wherein
the actions and passions of mankind shall be displayed, with truth to
nature, under the strongly colored light of the artistic fantasy. The
burlesque poet enters the same enchanted region; but he deliberately
degrades it below the level of common life, parodies the fanciful
extravagances of romance, and seeks to raise a laugh at the expense of
its most delicate illusions. The heroic poet has nothing to do with
pure romance and pleasurable fiction. He deals with the truths of
history, resolving to embellish them by art, to extract lessons of
utility, to magnify the virtues and the valor of the noblest men, and
to inflame his audience with the fire of lofty aspiration. His object,
unlike that of the romancer, is essentially serious. He is less
anxious to produce a work of pure beauty than to raise a monument of
ideal and moralized sublimity. The heroic-comic poet adopts the tone,
style, conduct and machinery of the heroic manner; but he employs his
art on some trivial or absurd subject, making his ridicule of baseness
and pettiness the more pungent by the mock-gravity of his treatment.
Unlike the burlesque writer, he does not aim at mere scurrility. There
is always method in his buffoonery, and a satiric purpose in his
parody. The satirist strikes more directly; he either attacks manners,
customs, institutions, and persons without disguise, or he does so
under a thin veil of parable. He differs from the heroic-comic poet
chiefly in this, that he does not array himself in the epical panoply.
Within the range of Italian literature we find ready examples of these
several styles. Boiardo and Ariosto are romantic poets. The _Morgante
Maggiore_ is a romance with considerable elements of burlesque and
satire mingled.[3] Tasso's _Gerusalemme Liberata_ is a fair specimen
of the heroic, and Tassoni's _Secchia Rapita_ of the heroic-comic
species. The _Ricciardetto_ of Fortiguerri and Folengo's _Orlandino_
represent burlesque, while Casti's _Animali Parlanti_ is a narrative

[Footnote 2: See Ugo Foscolo's essay on the Narrative and Romantic
Poems of Italy in the _Quarterly Review_ for April, 1819.]

[Footnote 3: Especially in Morgante and Margutte.]

It may seem at first sight strange that Ariosto should have preferred
the romantic to the heroic style of poetry, and that the epic of the
Italian Renaissance should be a pure play of the fancy. Yet this was
no less natural to the man revealed in his Epistles, than to the
spirit of his century as we have learned to know it. The passions and
convictions that give force to patriotism, to religion, and to
morality, were extinct in Italy; nor was Ariosto an exception to the
general temper of his age. Yet the heroic style demands some spiritual
motive analogous to the enthusiasm for Rome which inspired Virgil, or
to the faith that touched the lips of Milton with coals from the
altar. An indolent and tranquil epicurean, indifferent to the world
around him, desiring nothing better than a life among his books, with
leisure for his loves and day-dreams, had not the fiber of a true
heroic poet; and where in Italy could Ariosto have found a proper
theme? Before he settled to the great work of his life, he began a
poem in _terza rima_ on the glories of the House of Este. That was
meant to be heroic; but the fragment which remains, proves how frigid,
how all unsuited to his genius and his times, this insincere and
literary epic would have been.[4] Italy offered elements of greatness
only to a prophet or a satirist. She found her prophet in
Michelangelo. But what remained for a poet like Ariosto, without
Dante's anger or Swift's indignation, without the humor of Cervantes
or the fire of Juvenal, without Tasso's piety or Shakspere's England,
yet equal as an artist to the greatest singers whom the world has
known? The answer to this question is not far to seek. What really
survived of noble and enthusiastic in the _cinque cento_ was the
sense of beauty, the adoration of form, the worship of art. The
supreme artist of his age obeyed a right instinct when he undertook a
work which required no sublime motive, and which left him free for the
production of a masterpiece of beauty. In this sphere the defects of
his nature were not felt, and he became the mouthpiece of his age in
all that still remained of greatness to his country.

[Footnote 4: See _Capitolo_ iii.]

In like manner we can explain to ourselves Ariosto's choice of
Boiardo's unfinished theme. He was not a poet with something
irresistible to say, but an artist seeking a fit theater for the
exercise of his omnipotent skill. He did not feel impelled to create,
but to embellish. Boiardo had constructed a vast hall in the style of
the Renaissance, when it first usurped on Gothic; he had sketched a
series of frescoes for the adornment of its walls and roof, and then
had died, leaving his work incomplete. To enrich the remaining panels
with pictures conceived in the same spirit, but executed in a freer
and a grander manner, to adorn them with all that the most wealthy and
fertile fancy could conceive, and to bestow upon them perfect finish,
was a task for which Ariosto was eminently suited. Nor did he vary
from the practice of the greatest masters in the other arts, who
willingly lent their own genius to the continuation of designs begun
by predecessors. Few craftsmen of the Renaissance thought as much of
the purpose of their work or of its main motive as of execution in
detail and richness of effect. They lacked the classic sense of unity,
the medieval sincerity and spontaneity of inspiration. Therefore
Ariosto was contented to receive from Boiardo a theme he could
embroider and make beautiful, with full employment of his rare
inventive gifts upon a multitude of episodical inventions. It is vain
to regret that a poet of his caliber should not have bent his
faculties to the task of a truly original epic--to the re-awakening of
prostrate Italy, to the scourging of her feebleness and folly, or even
to the celebration of her former glories. Had he done either of these
things, his poem would not have been so truly national, and we should
have lacked the final product of a most brilliant though defective
period of civilization.

Ariosto's own temperament and the conditions of his age alike
condemned him to the completion of a romance longer than the _Iliad_
and the _Odyssey_ together, which has for its sole serious aim, if
serious aim it has of any sort, the glorification of an obscure
family, and which, while it abounds in pathos, wisdom, wit, and poetry
of dazzling brilliance, may at the same time be accused of levity,
adulation, and licentiousness. To arraign Ariosto for these faults is
tantamount to arraigning his whole century and nation. The greatest
artist of the sixteenth century found no task worthier of his genius
than to flatter the House of Este with false pedigrees and fulsome
praises. He had no faith that could prevent him from laughing at all
things human and divine, not indeed, with the Titanic play of
Aristophanes, whose merriment is but the obverse of profound
seriousness, but with the indulgent nonchalance of an epicurean. No
sentiment of sublimity raised him above the grosser atmosphere in
which love is tainted with lust, luxurious images are sought for their
own sake, and passion dwindles in the languor of voluptuousness. The
decay of liberty, the relaxation of morals and the corruption of the
Church had brought the Italians to this point, that their
representative Renaissance poem is stained with flattery, contaminated
with licentiousness, enfeebled with levity. Poetic beauty of the
highest order it cannot claim. That implies more earnestness of
purpose and an ideal of sublimer purity. Still, though the _Furioso_
misses the supreme beauty of the _Iliad_, the _Antigone_ and the
_Paradise Lost_, it has in superfluity that secondary beauty which
expressed itself less perfectly in Italian painting. In one respect it
stands almost alone. The form reveals no inequalities or flaws. This
artist's hand has never for a moment lost its cunning; this Homer
never nods.

Pulci approached the romance of Charlemagne from a _bourgeois_ point
of view. He felt no sincere sympathy with the knightly or the
religious sentiment of his originals. Boiardo treated similar material
in a chivalrous spirit. The novelty of his poem consisted in the
fusion of the Carolingian and Arthurian Cycles; for while he handled
an episode of the former group, he felt sincere admiration for errant
knighthood as figured in the tales of Lancelot and Tristram.
Throughout the _Orlando Innamorato_ we trace the vivid influence of
feudal ideals. Ariosto differed in his attitude from both of his
predecessors. The irony that gives a special quality to his romance,
is equally removed from the humor of Pulci and the frank enthusiasm of
Boiardo. Ariosto was neither the citizen of a free burgh playing with
the legends of a bygone age, nor yet the highborn noble in whose eyes
the adventures of Orlando and his comrades formed a picture of
existence as it ought to be. He was a courtier and a man of letters,
and his poem is a masterpiece of courtly and literary art. Boiardo
never flattered the princes of the House of Este. Ariosto took every
occasion to interweave their panegyric with his verse. For Boiardo the
days of chivalry were a glorious irrecoverable golden age. Ariosto
contemplated this mythical past less with the regret of a man who had
fallen upon worse days, than with the satisfaction of an artist who
perceives the rare opportunities for poetic handling it afforded. He
does not really believe in chivalry; where Boiardo is in earnest,
Ariosto jests. It is not that, like Cervantes, he sought to satirize
the absurdities of romance, or that he set himself, like Folengo, to
burlesque the poems of his predecessors; but his philosophy inclined
him to watch the doings of humanity with a genial half-smile, an
all-pervasive irony that had no sting in it. A poet who stands thus
aside and contemplates the comedy of the world with the dry light of a
kindly and indulgent intellect, could not treat the tales of Paladins
and giants seriously. He uses them as the machinery of a great work on
human life, painting mankind, not as he thinks it ought to be, but as
he finds it. This treatment of romance from the standpoint of good
sense and quiet humor produces an apparent discrepancy between his
practical knowledge of the world and his fanciful extravagance. In the
artistic harmony effected by Ariosto between these opposite elements
lies the secret of his irony. His worldly wisdom has the solidity of
prose and embraces every circumstance of life. The creatures of his
imagination belong to fairyland and exceed the wildest dreams in
waywardness. He smiles to see them play their pranks; yet he never
loses sight of reality, and moves his puppets by impulses and passions
worthy of real men and women. Having granted the romantic elements of
wonder and exaggeration for a basis, we find the superstructure to be
natural. Never was sagacity of insight combined more perfectly with
exuberance of fancy and a joyous lightheartedness than in this poem.
Nowhere else have sound lessons in worldly wisdom been conveyed upon a
stage of so much palpable impossibility.

We may here ask what is the main subject of the _Orlando Furioso_. The
poem has three chief sources of interest--the siege of Paris and the
final rout of the Saracen army, the insanity of Orlando, and the loves
of Ruggiero and Bradamante. The first serves merely as a groundwork
for embroidery, a background for relieving more attractive incidents.
Orlando's madness, though it gives its name to the romance, is
subordinate to the principal action. It forms a proper development of
the situation in the _Orlando Innamorato_; and Ariosto intends it to
be important, because he frequently laments that the Paladin's absence
from the field injured the cause of Christendom. But Charlemagne, by
help of Rinaldo, Bradamante, and Marfisa, conquers without Orlando's
aid. Thus the hero's insanity is only operative in neutralizing an
influence that was not needed; and when he regains his wits, he
performs no critical prodigies of valor. Finding the Saracens expelled
from France, and Charlemagne at peace, Orlando fights a duel with a
crownless king upon a desert island more for show than for real
service. Far different is the remaining motive of the poem. If the
_Furioso_ can be said to have constructive unity, the central subject
is the love and marriage of Ruggiero. Ariosto found this solution of
the plot foreshadowed in the _Innamorato_. The pomp and ceremony with
which the fourth book opens, the value attached to the co-operation of
Ruggiero in the war with Charlemagne, and the romantic beginning of
his love for Bradamante, make it clear that Boiardo would have crowned
his poem, as Ariosto has done, with the union of the ancestors of Casa
d'Este. Flattery, moreover, was Ariosto's serious purpose.
Consequently, the love of Ruggiero and Bradamante, whose protracted
disappointments furnished the occasion for renewed prophecies and
promises of future glory for their descendants, formed the artistic
center of his romance. The growing importance of all that concerns
this pair of characters, the accumulation of difficulties which
interfere with their union, and the final honor reserved for Ruggiero
of killing the dreadful Rodomonte in single combat, are so disposed
and graduated as to make the marriage of the august couple the right
and natural climax to an epic of 100,000 lines. The fascinations of
Angelica, the achievements of Orlando and Rinaldo, the barbaric
chivalry of Rodomonte and Marfisa, even the shock of Christian and
Pagan armies, sink into insignificance before the interest that
environs Bradamante toward the poem's ending. Victorious art was
needed for the achievement of this success. Like a pyramid, upon the
top of which a sculptor places a gilded statue, up grows this
voluminous romance, covering acres of the plain at first, but
narrowing to a point whereon the poet sets his heroes of the House of

[Footnote 5: Ariosto's method of introducing flattery is simple. He
makes Merlin utter predictions from his tomb, Melissa prophesy to
Bradamante and Atlante to Ruggiero; or he displays magic frescoes,
statues, and embroideries, where the future splendors of the Este
family are figured; or, again, in the exordia of his cantos he
directly addresses his patrons. Omitting lesser passages, we may
reckon fifteen principal panegyrics of the Este house: canto iii. 16
to end, the fabulous pedigree; viii. 62, 63, praise of Ippolito; xiii.
57 and on, praises of the women of the family; xiv. beginning, the
battle of Ravenna and Alfonso; xv. 2, 29, Alfonso's defeat of the
Venetians; xviii. 1, 2, Alfonso's justice; xxxv. 4-9, prophecy of
Ippolito; xxxvi. 1-9, Ippolito and the Venetians; xl. 1-5, defeat of
the Venetians again; xli. 1-3, general adulation; xli. 62-67, pedigree
again; xlii. 3, Alfonso wounded; xlii. 83-92, women of the family
again; xliii. 54-62, praises of Ferrara; xlvii. 85-97, life of
Ippolito. The most extravagant flatteries are lavished upon Ippolito
and Lucrezia Borgia. When we remember who and what these Este princes
were--how brutal in his cruelty Alfonso, how coarse and selfish and
sensual Ippolito, how doubtful in her life Lucrezia--we cannot but
feel these panegyrics to be sickening in their impudence.]

Though the marriage of Ruggiero and Bradamante forms the consummation
of the _Furioso_, it would show want of sympathy with Ariosto's
intention to imagine that he wrote his poem for this incident alone.
The opening lines of the first canto are explicit:

    Le donne, i cavalier, l'arme, gli amori,
    Le cortesie, l'audaci imprese io canto
    Che furo al tempo che passaro i Mori
    D'Africa il mare, in Francia nocquer tanto....

"The ladies, the knights, the feats of arms, the loves, the
courtesies, the bold adventures are my theme." In one word, his
purpose was to paint the world of chivalry. Agramante's expedition
into France gives him the time; Orlando's madness is an episode;
Ruggiero's marriage forms a fitting climax. But his true
subject-matter is chivalry--the dream-world of love, honor, magic,
marvel, courtesy, adventure, that afforded to his fancy scope for its
most brilliant imaginings. In Ariosto's age chivalry was a thing of
the past, even among the nations of the North. It is true that Francis
I. was kneeling on the battlefield before Bayard to receive the honor
of knighthood in the names of Oliver and Roland. It is true that Henry
VIII. was challenging his Most Christian cousin to a kingly settlement
of their disputed claims in a pitched field. But the spirit of the
times was not in these picturesque incidents. Charles V., who
incarnated modern diplomacy, dynastic despotism, and autocratic
statecraft, was deciding the destinies of Europe. Gunpowder had
already revolutionized the art of feudal war.[6] The order of the
Golden Fleece, monarchical and pompous, had eclipsed the orders of the
Temple and S. John. What remained of chivalry formed a splendid
adjunct to Court-equipage; and the knight errant, if he ever existed,
was merged in the modern gentleman. Far less of real vitality had
chivalry among the cities of the South, in the land of Popes like
Sixtus, adventurers like Cesare Borgia, princes like Lodovico Sforza,
commercial aristocracies like the Republic of S. Mark. A certain ideal
of life, summed up in the word _cortesia_, existed in Italy; where
numerous petty Courts had become the school of refined sentiment and
manners. But this was not what we mean by chivalry, and even this was
daily falsified by the cynicism and corruption of the princes and
their servants.[7] Castiglione's _Cortegiano_, the handbook of that
new ideal, must be read by the light of the Roman diaries and
Machiavelli's speculative essays. The Renaissance was rapidly
destroying the feudal fabric of ideas throughout Europe. Those ideas
were always weak in Italy, and it was in Italy that the modern
intellect first attained to self-consciousness. Therefore the magic
and marvels of romance, the restless movement of knight-errantry, the
love of peril and adventure for their own sake, the insane appetite
for combat, the unpractical virtues no less than the capricious
willfulness of Paladins and Saracens, presented to the age and race of
men like Guicciardini nothing but a mad unprofitable medley. _Dove
avete trovato, messer Lodovico, tante minchionerie?_ was no
unpardonable question for a Cardinal to make, when he opened the
_Furioso_ in the Pontificate of Clement VII. Of all this Ariosto was
doubtless well aware. Yet he recognized in the _Orlando_ a fit
framework for the exercise of his unrivaled painter's power. He knew
that the magic world he had evoked was but a plaything of the fancy, a
glittering bubble blown by the imagination. This did not suggest an
afterthought of hesitation or regret: for he could make the plaything
beautiful. The serious problem of his life was to construct a miracle
of art, organically complete, harmonious as a whole and lovely in the
slightest details. Yet he never forgot that chivalry was a dream; and
thus there is an airy unsubstantiality in his romantic world. His
characters, though they are so much closer to us in time and sympathy,
lack the real humanity of Achilles in the _Iliad_ or of Penelope in
the _Odyssey_. They do not live for us, because they were not living
for the poet, but painted with perfection from an image in his brain.
He stood aloof from the work of his own hands, and turned it round for
his recreation, viewing it with a smile of conscious and delighted
irony. Nowhere did he suffer himself to be immersed in his own
visionary universe. That wonderland of love and laughter, magic and
adventure, which so amused his fancy that once he walked from Carpi to
Ferrara in slippers dreaming of it, was to him no more solid than the
shapes of clouds we form, no more durable than the rime that melts
before the sun to nothing. The smile with which he contemplates this
fleeting image, is both tender and ironical. Sarcasm and pathos mingle
on his lips and in his eyes; for while he knows it to be but a vision,
he has used it as the form of all his thought and feeling, making of
this dream a mirror for the world in which his days were spent.

[Footnote 6: See the ending of the ninth and the beginning of the
eleventh cantos of the _Furioso_.]

[Footnote 7: What Ariosto thought about contemporary Italy may be
gathered from these lines (xvii. 76):

    O d'ogni vizio fetida sentina,
    Dormi, Italia imbriaca, e non ti pesa
    Ch'ora di questa gente, ora di quella,
    Che già serva ti fu, sei fatta ancella?]

Notwithstanding the difficulty of precisely ascertaining the main
subject of the _Orlando Furioso_, the unity of the poem is close,
subtle, serried. But it is the unity of a vast piece of tapestry
rather than of architecture. There is nothing massive in its
structure, no simple and yet colossal design like that which forms the
strength of the _Iliad_ or the _Divine Comedy_. The delicacy of its
connecting links, and the perpetual shifting of its scene distinguish
it as a romantic poem from the true epic. The threads by which the
scheme is held together, are slight as gossamer; the principal figures
are confounded with a multitude of subordinate characters; the
interest is divided between a succession of episodical narratives. At
no point are we aroused by the shock of a supreme sensation, such as
that which the death of Patroclus in the _Iliad_ communicates. The
rage of Rodomonte inside the walls of Paris has been cited as an
instance of heroic grandeur. But the effect is exaggerated. Ariosto is
too much amused with the extravagant situation for the blustering of
his Pagan to arouse either terror or surprise. When we compare this
episode with the appearance of Achilles in the trench, the elaborate
similes and prolonged description of the Italian poet are as nothing
side by side with the terrific shout of the Greek hero stung at last
into activity. And what is true of Rodomonte may be said of all the
studied situations in the _Furioso_. Ariosto pushes every motive to
the verge of the burlesque, heightening the passion of love till it
becomes insanity, and the sense of honor till it passes over into
whimsical punctiliousness, and the marvelous until the utmost bounds
of credibility are passed. This is not done without profound artistic
purpose. The finest comic effects in the poem are due to such
exaggerations of the motives; and the ironic laughter of the poet is
heard at moments when, if he preserved his gravity, we should accuse
him of unpardonable childishness. Our chief difficulty in appreciating
the _Furioso_ is to take the author's point of view, to comprehend the
expenditure of so much genius and wisdom upon paradoxes, and to
sympathize with the spirit of a masterpiece which, while it verges on
the burlesque, is never meant to pass the limit.

In putting this dream-world of his fantasy upon the canvas, Ariosto
showed the power of an accomplished painter. This is the secret of the
_Furioso's_ greatness. This makes it in a deep sense the
representative poem of the Italian Renaissance. All the affinities of
its style are with the ruling art of Italy, rather than with sculpture
or with architecture; and the poet is less a singer uttering his soul
forth to the world in song, than an artist painting a multitude of
images with words instead of colors. His power of delineation never
fails him. Through the lucid medium of exquisitely chosen language we
see the object as clearly as he saw it. We scarcely seem to see it
with his eyes so much as with our own, for the poet stands aloof from
his handiwork and is a spectator of his pictures like ourselves. So
authentic is the vision that, while he is obliged by his subject to
treat the same situations--in duels, battles, storms, love-passages--he
never repeats himself. A fresh image has passed across the camera
obscura of his brain, and has been copied in its salient features. For
the whole of this pictured world is in movement, and the master has
the art to seize those details which convey the very truth of life and
motion. We sit in a dim theater of thought, and watch the motley crowd
of his fantastic personages glide across the stage. They group
themselves for a moment ere they flit away; and then the scene is
shifted, and a new procession enters; fresh _tableaux vivants_ are
arranged, and when we have enjoyed their melodies of form and color,
the spell is once more broken and new actors enter. The stage is
never empty; scene melts into scene without breathing-space or
interruption; but lest the show should weary by its continuity, the
curtain is let down upon each canto's closing, and the wizard who
evokes these phantoms for our pleasure, stands before it for a moment
and discourses wit and wisdom to his audience.

It is this all-embracing universally illuminating faculty of vision
that justifies Galileo's epithet of the DIVINE for Ariosto. This
renders his title of the Italian Homer intelligible. But we must
remember that these high-sounding compliments are paid him by a nation
in whose genius the art of painting holds the highest rank; and it may
well happen that critics less finely sensitive to pictorial
delineation shall contest them both. As in Italian painting, so in
Ariosto's poetry, deep thought and poignant passion are not suffered
to interrupt the calm unfolding of a world where plastic beauty reigns
supreme. No thrilling cry from the heart of humanity is heard; no
dreadful insight into mortal woe disturbs the rhythmic dance. Tragedy
is drowned and swallowed in a sea of images; and if the deeper chords
of pathos are touched here and there, they are so finely modulated and
blent with the pervading melody that a harsh note never jars upon our
ears. A nation in whom the dramatic instinct is paramount, an audience
attuned to _Hamlet_ or _King Lear_, will feel that something essential
to the highest poetry has been omitted. The same imperious pictorial
faculty compels Ariosto to describe what more dramatic poets are
contented to suggest. Where Dante conveys an image in one pregnant
line, he employs an octave for the exhibition of a finished
picture.[8] Thus our attention is withdrawn from the main object to a
multitude of minor illustrations, each of which is offered to us with
the same lucidity. The dædal labyrinth of exquisitely modeled forms
begins to cloy, and in our tired ingratitude we wish the artist had
left something to our own imagination. It is too much to be forced to
contemplate a countless number of highly-wrought compositions. We long
for something half-seen, indicated, shyly revealed by lightning
flashes and withdrawn before it has been fully shown. When Lessing in
_Laocoon_ censured the famous portrait of Alcina, this was, in part at
least, the truth of his complaint. She wearies us by the minuteness of
the touches that present her to our gaze; and the elaboration of each
detail prevents us from forming a complete conception of her beauty.
But the Italians of the sixteenth century, accustomed to painted forms
in fresco and in oils, and educated in the descriptive traditions of
Boccaccio's school, would not have recognized the soundness of this
criticism. For them each studied phrase of Ariosto was the index to an
image, summoned by memory from the works of their own masters, or from
life. His method of delineation was analogous to that of figurative
art. In a word, the defect pointed out by the German critic is the
defect of Ariosto's greatest quality, the quality belonging to an age
and race in which painting was supreme.

[Footnote 8: Those who are curious may compare the three lines in
which Dante likens Piero delle Vigne's voice issuing from his tree of
torment to the hissing of sap in a green log upon the fire (_Inf._
xiii. 40) with the eight lines used by Ariosto to expand the same
simile (_Orl. Fur._ vi. 27); or, again, Dante's picture of the sick
woman on her bed of fever (_Purg._ vi. 149) with Ariosto's copy (_Orl.
Fur._ xxviii. 90).]

Closely allied to this pictorial method in the representation of all
objects to our mental vision, was Ariosto's rhetorical amplification.
He rarely allows a situation to be briefly indicated or a sentiment to
be divined. The emotions of his characters are analyzed at length; and
their utterances, even at the fever-heat of passion, are expanded with
a dazzling wealth of illustration. Many of the episodes in the
_Furioso_ are eminently dramatic, and the impression left upon the
memory is forcible enough. But they are not wrought out as a dramatist
would handle them. The persons do not act before us, or express
themselves by direct speech. The artist has seen them in motion, has
understood what they are feeling; and by his manner of describing them
he makes us see them also. But it is always a picture, always an
image; that presents itself. Soul rarely speaks to soul without the
intervention of interpretative art. This does not prevent Ariosto from
being a master of the story-teller's craft. No poet of any nation knew
better what to say and what to leave unsaid in managing a fable. The
facility of his narration is perfect; and though the incidents of his
tales are extremely complicated, there is no confusion. Each story is
as limpid as each picture he invents. Nor, again, is there any languor
in his poem. Its extraordinary swiftness can only be compared to the
rush of a shining river, flowing so smoothly that we have to measure
its speed by objects on the surface. The _Furioso_, in spite of its
accumulated images, in spite of its elaborated rhetoric, is in rapid
onward movement from the first line to the last. It has an elasticity
which is lacking to the monumental architecture of the _Divine
Comedy_. It is free from the stationary digressions that impede a
student of _Paradise Lost_.

The fairy-like fantastic structure of the _Furioso_ has a groundwork
of philosophical solidity. Externally a child's story-book, it is
internally a mine of deep world-wisdom, the product of a sane and
vigorous intellect. Not that we have any right to seek for allegory in
the substance of the poem. When Spenser fancied that Ariosto had
"ensampled a good governour and vertuous man" in Orlando--in the
Orlando who went mad, neglected his liege-lord, and exposed
Christendom to peril for Angelica's fair face--he was clearly on the
wrong tack. For a man of Ariosto's temperament, in an age of violent
contrast between moral corruption and mental activity, it was enough
to observe human nature without creating ideals. His knowledge of the
actions, motives, passions and characters of men is concrete; and his
readings in the lessons of humanity, are literal. The excellence of
his delineation consists precisely in the nicety of _nuances_, the
blending of vice and virtue, the correct analysis of motives. He
paints men and women as he finds them, not without the irony of one
who stands aloof from life and takes malicious pleasure in pointing
out its misery and weakness. If I wished to indicate a single passage
that displays this knowledge of the heart, I should not select the too
transparent allegory of Logistilla[9]--though even here the contrast
between Alcina's seductive charms and the permanent beauty of her
sister is wrought with a magnificence of detail worthy of Spenser. I
would rather point to the reflections which conclude the tale of
Marganorre and his wicked sons.[10] In lucid exposition of fact lay
the strength of Ariosto; and here it may be said that he proved his
affinity to the profoundest spirits of his age in Italy--to
Machiavelli and Guicciardini, the founders of analytical science for
modern Europe. This intimate study of the laws which govern human
action when it seems most wayward, is displayed in Grifone's
subjection to the faithless Orrigille, in the conflict of passions
which agitate the heroes of Agramante's camp, in the agony of Orlando
when he finds Medoro's name coupled with Angelica's, in Bradamante's
jealousy, in the conflict of courtesy between Leone and Ruggiero, in
the delusive visions of Atlante's castle, in the pride of Rodomonte,
and in the comic termination of Angelica's coquetries. The difference
between Ariosto and Machiavelli is, that while the latter seems to
have dissected human nature with a scalpel, the former has gained this
wisdom by sympathy. The one exhibits his anatomical preparations with
grim scientific gravity; the other makes his puppets move before us,
and smiles sarcastically at their antics.

[Footnote 9: Canto x. 52 _et seq._]

[Footnote 10: Canto xxxvii. 104 _et seq._]

Sometimes he condenses his philosophy of life in short essays that
form the prefaces to cantos, introducing us as through a shapely
vestibule into the enchanted palace of his narrative. Among these the
finest are the exordia on Love and Honor, on Jealousy, on Loyalty, on
Avarice, on the fickleness of Fortune, on Hypocrisy in Courts, and on
the pains of Love.[11] The merit of these discourses does not consist
in their profundity so much as in their truth. They have been deeply
felt and are of universal applicability. What all men have
experienced, what every age and race of men have known, the supreme
poet expresses with his transparent style, his tender and caressing
melody of phrase, his graceful blending of sympathy and satire. Tasso
in the preface to _Rinaldo_ rebukes Ariosto for the introduction of
these digressions. He says they are below the dignity of the heroic
manner, and that a true poet should be able by example and the action
of his characters to point the moral without disquisition. This may be
true. Yet Ariosto was writing a romance, and we welcome these personal
utterances as a relief from the perpetual movement of his figures. In
like manner we should be loth to lose the lyrical inter-breathings of
Euripidean choruses, or Portia's descant upon mercy, or Fielding's
interpolated reflections, all of which are halting-places for the mind
to rest on in the rapid course of dramatic or narrative evolution.
Still it is not in these detached passages that Ariosto shows his
greatest wealth of observation. The _novelle_, scattered with a lavish
hand through all his cantos, combine the same sagacity with energy of
action and pictorial effect. Whatever men are wont to do, feel, hope
for, fear--what moves their wrath--what yields them pleasure, or
inflicts upon them pain--that is the material of Ariosto's tales. He
does not use this matter either as a satirist or a moralist, as a
tragic poet to effect a purification of the passions, or, again, as a
didactic poet to inculcate lessons. Like Plautus, he seems to say:
"Whatever be the hues of life, my words shall paint them." Following
the course of events without comment, his page reflects the mask of
human joys and griefs which is played out before him. In the tale of
Polinesso and Ginevra all the elements of pathos that can be extracted
from the love of women and the treachery of men, are accumulated. The
desertion of Olimpia by Bireno after the sacrifices she has made for
him, invests the myth of Ariadne with a wild romantic charm.
Isabella's devotion to Zerbino through captivity and danger; the
friendship of Cloridano for the beautiful Medoro, and their piety
toward Dardinello's corpse; Angelica's doting on Medoro, and the idyll
of their happiness among the shepherd folk; the death of Brandimarte,
and Fiordeligi's agony of grief; Fiordespina's vain love for
Bradamante, and her consolation in the arms of Ricciardetto; the wild
legend of the Amazons, who suffered no male stranger to approach their
city; Norandino's loyalty to Lucina in the cave of Orco; Lidia's cruel
treatment of Alceste; the arts whereby Tanacro and Olindo, sons of
Marganorre, work their wicked will in love; Gabrina's treachery toward
husband and paramour; Giocondo's adventures with the king Astolfo; the
ruse by which Argia justifies her infidelity to Anselmo; the sublime
courtesies of Leone; the artful machinations of Melissa--these are the
rubrics of tales and situations, so varied, so fertile in resource,
that a hundred comedies and tragedies might be wrought from them.
Ariosto, in his conduct of these stories, attempts no poetical
justice. Virtue in distress, vice triumphant, one passion expelling
another, nobler motives conquered by baser, loyalty undermined by
avarice, feminine frailty made strong to suffer by the force of love;
so runs the world, and so the poet paints it.

[Footnote 11: Cantos xxxviii. xxxi. xxi. xliii. xlv. xliv. xvi.]

New and old, false and real, he mixes all together, and by the alchemy
of his imagination makes the fusion true. The classics and the Italian
poets, writers of history and romance, geographers and chroniclers,
have been laid under contribution. But though the poem is composed of
imitations, it is invariably original, because Ariosto has seen and
felt whatever he described. Angelica on the horse going out to sea
recalls Europa. The battle with the Orc is borrowed from the tale of
Perseus. Astolfo in the myrtle grove comes straight from Virgil.
Cloridano and Medoro are Nisus and Euryalus in modern dress. The
shield of Atlante suggests Medusa's head. Pegasus was the parent of
the Hippogriff, and Polyphemus of Orco. Rodomonte rages like Mezentius
and dies like Turnus. Grifone on the bridge is a Renaissance study
from Horatius Cocles. Senapo repeats the myth of Phineus and the
Harpies. Yet throughout these plagiarisms Ariosto remains himself. He
has assimilated his originals to his own genius, and has given every
incident new life by the vividness of his humanity. If it were needful
to cite an instance of his playful, practical ironic treatment of old
material, we might point to Lucinda's feminine delicacy in the cave of
Orco. She refuses to smear herself with the old goat's fat, and fails
to escape with Norandino and his comrades from the hands of this new
Polyphemus. So comprehensive is the poet's fancy that it embraces the
classic no less than the medieval past. Both are blent in a third
substance which takes life from his own experience and observation. In
this respect the art of Ariosto corresponds to Raphael's--to the
Stanza of the Segnatura or the Antinous-Jonah of the Chigi Chapel. It
is the first emancipation of the modern spirit in a work of catholic
beauty, preluding to the final emancipation of the reason in the
sphere of criticism, thought, and science.

The quality which gives salt and savor to Ariosto's philosophy of life
is irony, sometimes bordering on satire, sometimes running over into
drollery and humor. Irony is implicit in the very substance of the
_Furioso_. The choice of a _mad_ Orlando for hero reveals the poet's
intention; and the recovery of his lost wits from the moon parodies
the medieval doctrine that only in the other world shall we find our
true selves. The fate of Angelica, again, is supremely ironical. After
flouting kings and Paladins, the noblest knights of the whole world,
her lovers, she dotes upon a handsome country-lad and marries him in a
shepherd's hut. Medoro plucks the rose for which both Christendom and
Paynimry had fought in furious rivalry; and wayward Love requites
their insults with a by-blow from his dart. Such, smiles the poet, is
the end of pride, ambition, passion, and the coquetries that placed
the kingdoms of the East and West in peril. Angelica is the embodiment
of mortal frailty. The vanity of human wishes, the vicissitudes which
blind desire prepares for haughtiest souls, the paradoxes held in
store by destiny, are symbolized and imaged in her fate.

Astolfo's journey to the moon, related in the thirty-fourth and
thirty-fifth cantos, presents the Ariostean irony with all its
gradations of satire, parody, and comic humor. This Duke of England in
the Italian romances played the part of an adventurous vain-glorious
cavalier, eminent for courtesy and courage, who carried the wandering
impulse of knight-errantry to the extreme verge of the ridiculous. We
find him at the opening of the thirty-fourth canto in possession of
Atlante's Hippogriff and Logistilla's marvelous horn. Mounting his
winged horse, he flies through space, visits the sources of the Nile,
and traverses the realm of Ethiopia. There he delivers King Senapo
from a brood of Harpies, whom he pursues to the mouth of a cavern
whence issues dense smoke. This is the entrance into Hell:

    L'orecchie attente allo spiraglio tenne,
    E l'aria ne sentì percossa e rotta
    Da pianti e d'urli, e da lamento eterno;
    Segno evidente quivi esser lo 'nferno.

The paladin's curiosity is roused, and he determines to advance:

    Di che debbo temer, dicea, s'io v'entro?
    Chè mi posso aiutar sempre col corno.
    Farò fuggir Plutone e Satanasso,
    E 'l can trifauce leverò dal passo.

This light-hearted reliance in a perfectly practical spirit upon his
magic horn is wholly in keeping with Ariosto's genius. The terrible
situation, the good sense of the adventurer, and the enchantment which
protects him are so combined as to be prosaically natural. Astolfo
gropes his way into the cavern and is immediately suffocated by dense
smoke. In the midst of it above his head he sees a body hanging and
swinging to and fro like a corpse on a gibbet. He cuts at this object
with his sword, and wakes the melancholy voice of Lidia, who tells him
that in the smoke are punished obdurate and faithless lovers. The tale
of her falseness to Alceste is very beautiful, and shows great
knowledge of the heart. But it leads to nothing in the action of the
poem, and Astolfo goes out of Hell as he came in--except that the
smoke has befouled both face and armor, and he has to scrub himself in
a fountain before he can get clean again. Meanwhile Ariosto has
parodied the opening of Dante's _Inferno_ with its sublime:

    Mi mise dentro alle segrete cose.

Lidia is the inversion of Francesca; for her sin was, not compliance
with the impulses of nature, but unkindness to her lover. This
travesty is wrought with no deliberate purpose, but by a mere caprice
of fancy, to entertain his audience with a novel while he flouts the
faiths and fears of a more earnest age. For Ariosto, the child of the
Renaissance, there remained nothing to affirm or to deny about the
future of the soul. The Inferno of the middle ages had become a
plaything of romance. Astolfo now pursues his journey, looks in on
Prester John, and scales the mountain of the Earthly Paradise. There
he finds a palace wrought of precious stones, and in the vestibule an
ancient man with venerable beard and snowy hair. This is no other than
S. John the Evangelist, who hastens to feed the knight's horse with
good corn, and sets before him a table spread with fruits which make
the sin of Adam seem excusable:

      Con accoglienza grata il cavaliero
    Fu dai santi alloggiato in una stanza:
    Fu provvisto in un'altra al suo destriero
    Di buona biada, che gli fu abbastanza.
    De' frutti a lui del paradiso diero,
    Di tal sapor, ch'a suo giudicio, sanza
    Scusa non sono i duo primi parenti,
    Se per quei fur sì poco ubbidienti!

S. John, delighted with his courteous guest, discourses many things
about Orlando, his lost wits, and the moon where they have been stored
with other rubbish. At the close of their conversation, he remarks
that it is a fine night for a journey to the moon; and orders out the
fiery chariot which erewhile took Elijah up to heaven. It holds two
passengers with comfort; and after a short voyage through the air,
Astolfo and the Evangelist land upon the lunar shores. The stanzas
which describe the valley of vain things and useless lumber lost to
earth, are justly famous for their satire and their pathos.[12] There
are found the presents made to kings in hope of rich reward, the
flatteries of poets, shameful loves, the services of courtiers, the
false beauties of women, and bottles filled with the lost sense of
men. The list is long; nor was Milton unmindful of it when he wrote
his lines upon the Paradise of Fools.[13] The passage illustrates
certain qualities in Ariosto's imagination. He has no dread of the
prosaic and the simple. Inexhaustibly various alike in thought, in
rhythm, in imagery, and in melody of phrase, he yet keeps close to
reality, and passes without modulation from seriousness to extravagant
fun, returning again to the sadness of profound reflection. His poetry
is like the picture of his own face--a large and handsome man with
sleepy eyes and epicurean mouth, over whose broad forehead and open
features, plowed by no wrinkles of old age or care, float subtle
smiles and misty multitudes of thoughts half lost in dreams. Human
life to Ariosto was a comedy such as Menander put upon the Attic
stage; and the critic may ask of him, too, whether he or nature were
the plagiarist.

[Footnote 12: Canto xxxiv. 76-85.]

[Footnote 13: _Par. Lost_, iii. 440.]

Meanwhile S. John is waiting at Astolfo's elbow to point out the
Fates, spinning their web of human destinies, and Time carrying the
records of history to the river of oblivion. It is a sad picture, did
not Ariosto enliven the most somber matter with his incorrigible
humor. By the river bank of Lethe wait cormorants and swans. The
former aid Time in his labor of destruction. The latter, who symbolize
great poets, save chosen names from undeserved neglect. This leads to
a discourse on the services rendered by writers to their patrons,
which is marked by Ariosto's levity. He has just been penning praises
for Ippolito.[14] Yet here he frankly confesses that the eulogies of
poets are distortions of the truth, that history is a lie, and that
the whole pageant of humanity conceals a sorry sham. S. John is even
made to hint that his good place in Paradise is the guerdon of a
panegyric written on his Master:

    Gli scrittori amo, e fo il debito mio;
    Ch'al vostro mondo fui scrittore anch'io:
      E sopra tutti gli altri io feci acquisto
    Che non mi può levar tempo nè morte;
    E ben convenne al mio lodato Cristo
    Rendermi guidardon di sì gran sorte.

[Footnote 14: Canto xxxv. 4-9.]

The episode of Astolfo's journey to the moon abounds in satire upon
human weakness in general. Another celebrated passage has satire of a
more direct kind, and is, moreover, valuable for illustrating
Ariosto's conduct of his poem. Paris is besieged by the assembled
forces of the Saracens. The chief Paladins are absent, and
Charlemagne, in his sore need addresses a prayer to Heaven.[15] It is
just such a prayer as the Israelites offer up in Rossini's _Mosè in
Egitto_--very resonant, very rhetorical, but without sincerity of
feeling. Ariosto selects a number of decorous phrases redolent of
Reniassance humanism, _tolte agl'inimici stigi_, _al maggior tempio_,
_gli occhi al ciel supini_, and combines them with melodramatic
effect. God accepts the Emperor's prayer, and sends Michael down to
earth to find Discord and Silence, in order that the former may sow
strife in the Saracen camp, and the latter lead re-enforcements into
Paris. Michael starts upon his errand:

    Dovunque drizza Michelangel l'ale,
    Fuggon le nubi, e torna il ciel sereno;
    Gli gira intorno un aureo cerchio, quale
    Veggiam di notte lampeggiar baleno.

[Footnote 15: Canto xiv. 68-73.]

He flies straight to a monastery, expecting to find Silence there. The
choir, the parlor, the dormitory, the refectory are searched. Wherever
he goes, he sees _Silenzio_ written up: but Silence cannot be found.
Instead of him, Discord presents herself, and is recognized by her
robe of many-colored fluttering ribbons, disheveled hair, and an
armful of law-papers. Fraud, too, accosts the angel with a gentle face
like Gabriel's when he said _Ave!_ To Michael's question after
Silence, Fraud replies: he used to live in convents and the cells of
sages; but now he goes by night with thieves, false coiners and
lovers, and you may find him in the houses of treason and homicide.
Yet if you are very anxious to lay hands on him at once, haste to the
haunt of Sleep. This cavern is described in stanzas that undoubtedly
suggested Spenser's; but Ariosto has nothing so delicate as:

    A trickling stream from high rock tumbling down,
    And ever drizzling rain upon the loft,
    Mixed with a murmuring wind much like the sown
    Of swarming bees.

Instead, he paints in his peculiar style of realistic imagery, the
corpulent form of Ease, Sloth that cannot walk and scarce can stand,
Forgetfulness who bars the door to messengers, and Silence walking
round the cave with slippers of felt. Silence, summoned by the
archangel, sets forth to meet Rinaldo. Discord also quits the convent
with her comrade Pride, leaving Fraud and Hypocrisy to keep their
places warm till they return. But Discord does her work inadequately;
and the cries of Rodomonte's victims rise to heaven. This rouses
Michael from his slumber of beatitude. He blushes, plumes his pinions,
and shoots down again to earth in search of Discord among the monks.
He finds her sitting in a chapter convened for the election of
officers, and makes her in a moment feel his presence:[16]

    Le man le pose l'Angelo nel crine,
    E pugna e calci le diè senza fine.
      Indi le roppe un manico di croce
    Per la testa, pel dosso e per le braccia.
    Mercè grida la misera a gran voce,
    E le ginocchia al divin nunzio abbraccia.

[Footnote 16: Canto xxvii. 37.]

This is a good specimen both of Ariosto's peculiar levity and of the
romantic style which in the most serious portion of his poem permitted
such extravagance. The robust archangel tearing Discord's disheveled
hair, kicking her, pounding her with his fists, breaking a cross upon
her back, and sending her about her business with a bee in her bonnet,
presents a picture of drollery which is exceedingly absurd. Nor is
there any impropriety in the picture from the poet's point of view.
Michael and the Evangelist are scarcely serious beings. They both form
part of his machinery and help to make the action move.

Broad fun, untinctured by irony, seasons the _Furioso_--as when
Astolfo creates a fleet by throwing leaves into the sea, and mounts
his Ethiopian cavalry on horses made of stone, and catches the wind in
a bladder; all of which burlesque miracles are told with that keen
relish of their practical utility which formed an element of Ariosto's
sprightliness.[17] Ruggiero's pleasure-trip on Rabicane; Orlando's
achievement of spitting six fat Dutchmen like frogs upon one spear;
the index to Astolfo's magic book; the conceit of the knights who
jousted with the golden lance and ascribed its success to their own
valor; Orlando's feats of prowess with the table in the robber's den;
are other instances of Ariosto's lightheartedness, when he banters
with his subject and takes his readers into confidence with his own
sense of drollery.[18] The donkey race in armor between Marfisa and
Zerbino for a cantankerous old hag, with its courteous ceremonies and
chivalrous conclusion, might be cited as an example of more sustained
humor.[19] And such, too, though in another region, is the novel of

[Footnote 17: Canto xxxviii. 30, 33, 26. [Transcriber's Note: last
reference should be Canto xxxix. 26.]]

[Footnote 18: Canto x. 72; ix. 68; xxii. 16; xlv. 65; xiii. 36.]

[Footnote 19: Canto xx. 122.]

Ariosto's irony, no less than his romantic method, deprived the
_Furioso_ of that sublimity which only belongs to works of greater
seriousness and deeper conviction. Yet he sometimes touches the
sublime by force of dramatic description or by pathetic intensity. The
climax of Orlando's madness has commonly been cited as an instance of
poetic grandeur. Yet I should be inclined to prefer the gathering of
the storm of discord in Agramante's camp.[20] The whole of this
elaborate scene, where the fiery characters and tempestuous passions
of the Moslem chiefs, of Ruggiero, Rodomonte, Gradasso, Mandricardo,
and Marfisa, are brought successively into play by impulses and
motives natural to each and powerful to produce a clash of adverse
claims and interests, is not only conceived and executed in a truly
dramatic spirit, but is eminently important for the action of the
poem. The thunder-clouds which had been mustering to break in ruin
upon Christendom, rush together and spend their fury in mid air. Thus
the moment is decisive, and nothing has been spared to dignify the
passions that provoke the final crash. They go on accumulating in
complexity, like a fugue of discords, till at last the hyperbole of
this sonorous stanza that seems justified:[21]

      Tremò Parigi, e turbidossi Senna
    All'alta voce, a quell'orribil grido;
    Rimbombò il suon fin alla selva Ardenna
    Sì che lasciâr tutte le fiere il nido.
    Udiron l'Alpi e il monte di Gebenna,
    Di Blaia e d'Arli e di Roano il lido;
    Rodano e Sonna udì, Garonna e il Reno:
    Si strinsero le madri i figli al seno.

[Footnote 20: Canto xxvii.]

[Footnote 21: _Ibid._ 101.]

His pathos also has its own sublimity. Imogen stretched lifeless on
the corpse of Cloten; the Duchess of Malfi telling Cariola to see that
her daughter says her prayers; Bellario describing his own sacrifice
as a mere piece of boyhood flung away--these are instances from our
own drama, in which the pathetic is sublime. Ariosto's method is
different, and the effect is more rhetorical. Yet he can produce
passages of almost equal poignancy, prolonged situations of
overmastering emotion, worthy to be set side by side with the
Euripidean pictures of Polyxena, Alcestis, or Iphigenia.[22] The death
of Zerbino; the death of Brandimarte with half of Fiordeligi's name
upon his lips; the constancy of Isabella offering her neck to
Rodomonte's sword; the anguish of Olimpia upon the desert island; are
instances of sublime poetry wrung from pathos by the force of
highly-wrought impassioned oratory. Zerbino is one of the most
sympathetic creations of the poet's fancy. Of him Ariosto wrote the
famous line:[23]

    Natura il fece, e poi ruppe la stampa.

[Footnote 22: The comparison of Ariosto and Euripides is not wholly
fanciful. Both were supreme artists in an age of incipient decadence,
lacking the convictions of their predecessors, and depending for
effect upon rhetorical devices. Both were [Greek: tragikôtatoi] in
Aristotle's sense of the phrase, and both were romantic rather than
heroic poets.]

[Footnote 23: Canto x. 84.]

He is killed by the Tartar Mandricardo before his lady Isabella's

      A questo la mestissima Isabella,
    Declinando la faccia lacrimosa,
    E congiungendo la sua bocca a quella
    Di Zerbin, languidetta, come rosa,
    Rosa non colta in sua stagion, sì ch'ella
    Impallidisca in su la siepe ombrosa,
    Disse: Non vi pensate già, mia vita,
    Far senza me quest'ultima partita.

[Footnote 24: The whole scene, with all its gradations of emotion, is
too long to quote. But see xxiv. 74-87.]

With stanzas like this the poet cheats the sorrow he has stirred in
us. Their imagery is too beautiful to admit of painful feeling while
we read; and thus, though the passion of the scene is tragic, its
anguish is brought by touches of pure art into harmony with the
romantic tone of the whole poem. So also when Isabella, kneeling
before Rodomonte's sword, like S. Catherine in Luini's fresco at
Milan, has met her own death, Ariosto heals the wound he has inflicted
on our sensibility by lines of exquisitely cadenced melody:[25]

      Vattene in pace, alma beata e bella.
    Così i miei versi avesson forza, come
    Ben m'affaticherei con tutta quella
    Arte che tanto il parlar orna e come,
    Perchè mille e mill'anni, e più, novella
    Sentisse il mondo del tuo chiaro nome.
    Vattene in pace alla superna sede,
    E lascia all'altre esempio di tua fede.

[Footnote 25: Canto xxix. 27.]

But it is in the situations, the elegiac lamentations, the unexpected
vicissitudes, and the strong pictorial beauties of Olimpia's novel,
that Ariosto strains his power over pathos to the utmost. Olimpia has
lost her kingdom and spent her substance for her husband, Bireno.
Orlando aids her in her sore distress, and frees Bireno from his
prison. Bireno proves faithless, and deserts her on an island. She is
taken by corsairs, exposed like Andromeda on a rock to a sea-monster,
and is finally rescued by Orlando. Each of these touching incidents is
developed with consummate skill; and the pathos reaches its height
when Olimpia, who had risked all for her husband, wakes at dawn to
find herself abandoned by him on a desolate sea-beach.[26] In this
passage Ariosto comes into competition with two poets of a different
stamp--with Catullus, who thus describes Ariadne:

    Saxea ut effigies Bacchantis prospicit:

and with Fletcher, who makes Aspatia in the _Maid's Tragedy_ dramatize
the situation. Catullus in a single felicitous simile, Fletcher by the
agony of passionate declamation, surpass Ariosto's detailed picture.
The one is more restrained, the other more tragic. But Ariosto goes
straight to our heart by the natural touch of Olimpia feeling for
Bireno in the darkness, and by the suggestion of pallid moonlight and
a shivering dawn. The numerous prosaic details with which he has
charged his picture, add to its reality, and enhance the Euripidean
quality we admire in it.

[Footnote 26: Canto x. 20-34.]

In the case of a poet whose imagination was invariably balanced by
practical sound sense, the personal experience he acquired of the
female sex could not fail to influence his delineation of women. He
was not a man to cherish illusion or to romance in verse about
perfection he had never found in fact. He did not place a Beatrice or
Laura on the pedestal of his heart; nor was it till he reached the age
of forty-seven, when the _Furioso_ had lain for six years finished on
his desk, that he married Alessandra Strozzi. His great poem,
completed in 1515, must have been written under the influence of those
more volatile amours he celebrated in his Latin verses. Therefore we
are not surprised to find that the female characters of the _Orlando_
illustrate his epistle on the choice of a wife.[27] His highest ideal
of woman is presented to us in Bradamante, whose virtues are a loyal
attachment to Ruggiero and a modest submission to the will of her
parents. Yet even in Bradamante he has painted a virago from whom the
more delicate humanity of Shakspere would have recoiled. The scene in
which she quarrels with Marfisa about Ruggiero degrades her in our
eyes, and makes us feel that such a termagant might prove a sorry
wife.[28] It was almost impossible to combine true feminine qualities
with the blood-thirst of an Amazon. Consequently when, just before her
marriage, she snuffs the carnage of the Saracens from afar, and
regrets that she must withhold her hand from "such rich spoil of
slaughter in a spacious field," a painful sense of incongruity is left
upon our mind.[29] Marfisa, who remains a warrior to the last, and who
in her first girlhood had preserved her virginity by slaughtering a
palace-full of Pagans,[30] is artistically justified as a romantic
heroine. But Bradamante, destined to become a mother, gentle in her
home affections, obedient to her father's wishes, tremulous in her
attachment to Ruggiero, cannot with any propriety be compared to a
leopard loosed from the leash upon defenseless gazelles.[31] Between
the Amazonian virgin and the mother of a race of kings to be, the
outline of her character wavers.

[Footnote 27: See above, Part i. p. 510.]

[Footnote 28: Canto xxxvi., especially stanza 50.]

[Footnote 29: Canto xxxix. 10-15; cp. _ib._ 67-72.]

[Footnote 30: Canto xxxvii. 15.]

[Footnote 31: Canto xxxix. 69.]

After the more finished portrait of Bradamante, we find in Isabella
and Fiordeligi, the lovers of Zerbino and Brandimarte, Ariosto's
purest types of feminine affection. The cardinal virtue of woman in
his eyes was self-devotion--loyalty to the death, unhesitating
sacrifice of wealth, ease, reputation, life, to the one object of
passionate attachment. And this self-devotion he has painted in
Olimpia no less romantically than in Isabella and Fiordeligi. Still it
must be remembered that Isabella had eloped with Zerbino from her
father's palace, that Fiordeligi was only a wife in name, and that
Olimpia murdered her first husband and consoled herself very rapidly
for Bireno's loss in the arms of Oberto. The poet has not cared to
interweave with either portrait such threads of piety and purity as
harmonize the self-abandonment of Juliet. Fiordespina's ready credence
of the absurd story by which Ricciardetto persuades her that he is
Bradamante metamorphosed by a water-fairy to a man, and her love
longings, so frankly confessed, so unblushingly indulged, illustrate
the passion Ariosto delighted to describe. He feels a tender sympathy
for feminine frailty, and in more than one exquisitely written passage
claims for women a similar license in love to that of men.[32]
Indeed, he never judges a woman severely, unless she adds to her want
of chastity the spitefulness of Gabrina or the treachery of Orrigille
or the cupidity of Argia or the heartlessness of Angelica. Angelica,
who in the _Innamorato_ touches our feelings by her tenderness for
Rinaldo, in the _Furioso_ becomes a mere coquette, and is well
punished by her insane passion for the first pretty fellow that takes
her fancy. The common faults for which Ariosto taxes women are
cupidity, infidelity, and fraud.[33] The indulgence due to them from
men is almost cynically illustrated by the story of Adonio and the
magic virtues of Merlin's goblet.[34] In the preface to the fifth
canto he condemns the brutality of husbands, and in the tenth he
recommends ladies to be free of their favors to none but middle-aged

[Footnote 32: See especially iv. 63-67.]

[Footnote 33: Introductions to cantos xliii. xxviii. xxix. xxii.
xxvi.; cp. xxvii. 123.]

[Footnote 34: Canto xlii.]

[Footnote 35: Stanzas 6-9.]

Ariosto's morality was clearly on a level with that of the novelists
from Boccaccio to Bandello; and his apology is that he was not
inferior to the standard of his age. Still it is not much to his
credit to plead that his cantos are less impure than the _Capitoli_ of
Monsignore La Casa or the prurient comedies of Aretino. Even allowing
for the laxity of Renaissance manners, it must be conceded that he
combined vulgar emotions and a coarse-fibered nature with the most
refined artistic genius.[36] Our Elizabethan drama, in spite of moral
crudity, contains nothing so cynical as Ariosto's novel of Jocondo.
The beauty of its style, the absence of tragedy in its situations or
of passion in its characters, and the humorous smile with which the
poet acts as showman to the secrets of the alcove, render this tale
one of the most licentious in literature. Nor is this licentiousness
balanced by any sublimer spiritual quality. His ideal of manliness is
physical force and animal courage. Cruelty and bloodshed for the sake
of slaughter stain his heroes.[37] The noblest conflict of emotion he
portrays is the struggle between love and honor in Ruggiero,[38] and
the contest of courtesy between Ruggiero and Leone.[39] In the few
passages where he celebrates the chivalrous ideal, he dwells chiefly
on the scorn of gain and the contempt for ease which characterized the
errant knighthood.[40]

[Footnote 36: If this seems over-stated, I might refer the reader to
the prologue of the _Suppositi_, where the worst vice of the
Renaissance is treated with a flippant relish; or, again, to the
prologue of the _Lena_, where the _double entendre_ is worthy of the
grossest _Capitolo_. The plots of all Ariosto's comedies are of a
vulgar, obscene, _bourgeois_ type.]

[Footnote 37: See xxxix. 10-72, xx. 113, xlvi. 137, and _passim_, for
the carnage wrought by knights cased in enchanted armor with
invulnerable bodies upon defenseless Saracens or unarmed peasants. It
was partly this that made Shelley shrink with loathing from the

[Footnote 38: Cantos xxi. 1-3, xx. 143, xxxviii. introduction, xlv.
57, xxv. introduction.]

[Footnote 39: Cantos xliv. xlv.]

[Footnote 40: Canto vi. 80, vii. 41-44. The sentiments, though
superficial, are exquisitely uttered.]

The style of the _Furioso_ is said to have taught Galileo how to write
Italian. This style won from him for Ariosto the title of _divine_. As
the luminous and flowing octave stanzas pass before us, we are almost
tempted to forget that they are products of deliberate art. The beauty
of their form consists in its limpidity and naturalness. Ariosto has
no mannerism. He always finds exactly the expression needed to give
clearness to the object he presents. Whether the mood be elegiac or
satiric, humorous or heroic, idyllic or rhetorical, this absolute
sincerity and directness of language maintains him at an even level.
In each case he has given the right, the best, the natural investiture
to thought, and his phrases have the self-evidence of crystals. Just
as he collected the materials of his poem from all sources, so he
appropriated every word that seemed to serve his need. The vocabulary
of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, the racy terms of popular poetry,
together with Latinisms and Lombardisms, were alike laid under
contribution. Yet these diverse elements were so fused together and
brought into a common toning by his taste that, though the language of
his poem was new, it was at once accepted as classical. When we
remember the difficulties which in his days beset Italian composition,
when we call to mind the frigid experiments of Bembo in Tuscan
diction, the meticulous proprieties of critics like Speron Speroni,
and the warfare waged around the _Gerusalemme Liberata_, we know not
whether to wonder at Ariosto's happy audacities in language or at
their still happier success. His triumph was not won without severe
labor. He spent ten years in the composition of the _Furioso_ and
sixteen in its polishing. The autograph at Ferrara shows page upon
page of alteration, transposition, and refinement on the first
draught, proving that the Homeric limpidity and ease we now admire,
were gained by assiduous self-criticism. The result of this long toil
is that there cannot be found a rough or languid or inharmonious
passage in an epic of 50,000 lines. If we do not discern in Ariosto
the inexhaustible freshness of Homer, the sublime music of Milton,
the sculpturesque brevity of Dante, the purity of Petrarch, or the
majestic sweetness of Virgilian cadences, it can fairly be said that
no other poet is so varied. None mingles strength, sweetness,
subtlety, rapidity, rhetoric, breadth of effect and delicacy of
suggestion, in a harmony so perfect. None combines workmanship so
artistic with a facility that precludes all weariness. Whether we read
him simply to enjoy his story or to taste the most exquisite flavors
of poetic diction, we shall be equally satisfied. Language in his
hands is like a soft and yielding paste, which takes all forms beneath
the molder's hand, and then, when it has hardened, stays for ever
sharp in outline, glittering as adamant.

While following the romantic method of Boiardo and borrowing the
polished numbers of Poliziano, Ariosto refined the stanzas of the
former poet without losing rapidity, and avoided the stationary pomp
of the latter without sacrificing richness. He thus effected a
combination of the two chief currents of Italian versification, and
brought the octave to its final perfection. When we study the passage
which describes the entrance of Ruggiero into the island home of
Alcina, we feel the advance in melody and movement that he made. We
are reminded of the gardens of Morgana and Venus; but both are
surpassed in their own qualities of beauty, while the fluidity that
springs from complete command of the material, is added. Such touches
as the following:[41]

    Pensier canuto nè molto nè poco
    Si può quivi albergare in alcun core:

are wholly beyond the scope of Boiardo's style. Again, this stanza,
without the brocaded splendor of Poliziano, contains all that he
derived from Claudian:[42]

      Per le cime dei pini e degli allori,
    Degli alti faggi e degli irsuti abeti,
    Volan scherzando i pargoletti Amori;
    Di lor vittorie altri godendo lieti,
    Altri pigliando a saettare i cori
    La mira quindi, altri tendendo reti:
    Chi tempra dardi ad un ruscel più basso,
    E chi gli aguzza ad un volubil sasso.

[Footnote 41: Canto vi. 73.]

[Footnote 42: Canto vi. 75.]

Raphael, Correggio and Titian have succeeded to Botticelli and
Mantegna; and as those supreme painters fused the several excellences
of their predecessors in a fully-developed work of art, so has Ariosto
passed beyond his masters in the art of poetry. Nor was the process
one of mere eclecticism. Intent upon similar aims, the final artists
of the early sixteenth century brought the same profound sentiment for
reality, the same firm grasp on truth, the same vivid imagination as
their precursors to the task. But they possessed surer hands and a
more accomplished method. They stood above their subject and surveyed
it from the height of conscious power.

After the island of Alcina, it only remained for Tasso to produce
novelty in his description of Armida's gardens by pushing one of
Ariosto's qualities to exaggeration. The _dolcezza_, which in Tasso is
too sugared, has in Ariosto the fine flavor of wild honeycombs. In the
tropical magnificence of Tasso's stanzas there is a sultry stupor
which the fresh sunlight of the _Furioso_ never sheds. This wilding
grace of the Ferrarese Homer is due to the lightness of his touch--to
the blending of humorous with luxurious images in a style that passes
swiftly over all it paints.[43] After a like fashion, the idyl of
Angelica among the shepherds surpasses the celebrated episode of
Erminia in the _Gerusalemme_. It is not that Tasso has not invented a
new music and wrung a novel effect from the situation by the
impassioned fervor of his sympathy and by the majestic languor of his
cadences. But we feel that what Tasso relies on for his main effect,
Ariosto had already suggested in combination with other and still
subtler qualities. The one has the overpowering perfume of a hothouse
jasmine; the other has the mingled scents of a garden where roses and
carnations are in bloom.

[Footnote 43: Notice, for example, the irony of the seventh line in
vi. 71, and of the third and fourth in the next stanza.]

Ariosto's pictorial faculty has already formed the topic of a
paragraph, nor is it necessary to adduce instances of what determines
the whole character of the _Orlando Furioso_. Otherwise it would be
easy to form a gallery of portraits and landscapes; to compare the
double treatment of Andromeda exposed to the sea monster in the tenth
and eleventh cantos,[44] to set a pageant in the style of Mantegna by
the side of a Correggiesque vignette,[45] or to enlarge upon the
beauty of those magical Renaissance buildings which the poet dreamed
of in the midst of verdant lawns and flowery wildernesses.[46] True to
the spirit of Italian art, he had no strong sentiment for nature
except in connection with humanity. Therefore we find but little of
landscape-painting for its own sake and small sympathy with the wilder
and uncultivated beauties of the world. His scenery recalls the
backgrounds to Carpaccio's pictures or the idyllic gardens of the
Giorgionesque school. Sometimes there is a magnificent drawing in the
style of Titian's purple mountain ranges, and here and there we come
upon minutely finished studies that imply deep feeling for the moods
of nature. Of this sort is the description of autumn[47];

    Tra il fin d'ottobre e il capo di novembre,
    Nella stagion che la frondosa vesta
    Vede levarsi, e discoprir le membre,
    Trepida pianta, finchè nuda resta,
    E van gli augelli a strette schiere insembre.

[Footnote 44: Canto x. 95, 96, xi. 65, 66. The one is Angelica, the
other Olimpia.]

[Footnote 45: Canto vi. 62, 63, 75.]

[Footnote 46: Canto vi. 71, xxxiv. 51-53.]

[Footnote 47: Canto ix. 7.]

The illuminative force of his similes is quite extraordinary. He uses
them not only as occasions for painting cabinet pictures of exquisite
richness, but also for casting strong imaginative light upon the
object under treatment. In the earlier part of the _Furioso_ he
describes two battles with a huge sea monster. The Orc is a kind of
romantic whale, such as Piero di Cosimo painted in his tale of
Andromeda; and Ruggiero has to fight it first, while riding on the
Hippogriff. It is therefore necessary for Ariosto to image forth a
battle between behemoth and a mighty bird. He does so by elaborately
painting the more familiar struggles of an eagle who has caught a
snake, and of a mastiff snapping at a fly.[48] At the same time he
adds realistic touches like the following:

    L'orca, che vede sotto le grandi ale
    L'ombra di qua e di là correr su l'onda,
    Lascia la preda certa littorale,
    E quella vana segue furibonda.

[Footnote 48: Canto x. 102-106.]

Or, again, when Ruggiero is afraid of wetting his aërial courser's

    Che se lo sprazzo in tal modo ha a durare,
    Teme sì l'ale innaffi all'Ippogrifo,
    Che brami invano avere o zucca o schifo.

The mixture of imagery with prosaic detail brings the whole scene
distinctly before our eyes. When Orlando engages the same monster, he
is in a boat, and the conditions of the contest are altered.
Accordingly we have a different set of similes. A cloud that fills a
valley, rolling to and fro between the mountain sides, describes the
movement of the Orc upon the waters; and when Orlando thrusts his
anchor in between its jaws to keep them open, he is compared to miners
propping up their galleries with beams in order that they may pursue
their work in safety.[49] In this way we realize the formidable nature
of the beast, and comprehend the stratagem that tames it to Orlando's

[Footnote 49: Canto xi. 34-38.]

The same nice adaptation of images may be noticed in the similes
showered on Rodomonte. The giant is alone inside the walls of Paris,
and the poet is bound to make us feel that a whole city may have cause
to tremble before a single man. Therefore he never leaves our fancy
for a moment in repose. At one time it is a castle shaken by a storm;
at another a lion retreating before the hunters; again, a tigress
deprived of her cubs, or a bull that has broken from the
baiting-pole, or the whelps of a lioness attacking a fierce young
steer.[50] Image succeeds image with dazzling rapidity, all tending to
render a strained situation possible.

[Footnote 50: Canto xviii. 11, 14, 19, 22, 35.]

Some of Ariosto's illustrations--like the plowman and the thunderbolt,
the two dogs fighting, the powder magazine struck by lightning, the
house on fire at night, the leaves of autumn, the pine that braves a
tempest, the forest bending beneath mighty winds, the April avalanche
of suddenly dissolving snow--though wrought with energy and spirit,
have not more than the usual excellences of carefully developed
Homeric imitation.[51] Framed in single octave stanzas, they are
pictures for the mind to rest on. Others illuminate the matter they
are used to illustrate, with the radiance of subtle and remote fancy.
Of this sort is the brief image by which the Paladins in Charlemagne's
army are likened to jewels in a cloth of gold:[52]

    Ed hanno i paladin sparsi tra loro,
    Come le gemme in un ricamo d'oro.

[Footnote 51: Canto i. 65, ii. 5, ix. 78, xx. 89, xxi. 15, 16, xxiv.
63, xxxvi. 40.]

[Footnote 52: Canto xxxix. 17.]

A common metaphor takes new beauty by its handling in this simile[53];

    Pallido come colto al mattutino
    E da sera il ligustro o il molle acanto.

[Footnote 53: Canto xliii. 169.]

Homer had compared the wound of Menelaus to ivory stained by a Mæonian
woman with crimson.[54] Ariosto refines on this conceit:[55]

    Così talora un bel purpureo nastro
    Ho veduto partir tela d'argento
    Da quella bianca man più ch'alabastro.
    Da cui partire il cor spesso mi sento.

[Footnote 54: _Iliad_, iv. 140.]

[Footnote 55: Canto xxiv. 66.]

Both Homer and Virgil likened their dying heroes to flowers cut down
by the tempest or the plow. The following passage will bear comparison
even with the death of Euphorbus:[56]

      Come purpureo fior languendo muore,
    Che 'l vomere al passar tagliato lassa,
    O come carco di superchio umore
    Il papaver nell'orto il capo abbassa:
    Così, giù della faccia ogni colore
    Cadendo, Dardinel di vita passa;
    Passa di vita, e fa passar con lui
    L'ardire e la virtù di tutti i sui.

[Footnote 56: Canto xviii. 153.]

One more example may be chosen where Ariosto has borrowed nothing from
any model. He uses the perfume that clings to the hair or dress of
youth or maiden, as a metaphor for the aroma of noble ancestry:[57]

      L'odor ch'è sparso in ben notrita e bella
    O chioma o barba o delicata vesta
    Di giovene leggiadro o di donzella,
    Ch'amor sovente sospirando desta;
    Se spira, e fa sentir di sè novella,
    E dopo molti giorni ancora resta,
    Mostra con chiaro ed evidente effetto,
    Come a principio buono era e perfetto.

[Footnote 57: Canto xli. 1.]

The unique importance of Ariosto in the history of Renaissance poetry
justifies a lengthy examination of his masterpiece. In him the chief
artistic forces of the age were so combined that he remains its best
interpreter. Painting, the cardinal art of Italy, determined his
method; and the tide of his narrative carried with it the idyl, the
elegy, and the _novella_. In these forms the genius of the Renaissance
found fittest literary expression; for the epic and the drama lay
beyond the scope of the Italians at this period. The defect of deep
passion and serious thought, the absence of enthusiasm, combined with
rare analytic powers and an acute insight into human nature, placed
Ariosto in close relation to his age. Free from illusions, struggling
after no high-set ideal, accepting the world as he found it, without
the impulse to affirm or to deny, without hate, scorn, indignation or
revolt, he represented the spirit of the sixteenth century in those
qualities which were the source of moral and political decay to the
Italians. But he also embodied the strong points of his
epoch--especially that sustained pursuit of beauty in form, that width
of intellectual sympathy, that urbanity of tone and delicacy of
perception, which rendered Italy the mistress of the arts, the
propagator of culture for the rest of Europe.



     Boccaccio's Legacy--Social Conditions of Literature in
     Italy--Importance of the _Novella_--Definition of the
     _Novella_--Method of the Novelists--Their Style--Materials
     used--Large Numbers of _Novelle_ in Print--Lombard and
     Tuscan Species--Introductions to Il Lasca's _Cene_,
     Parabosco's _Diporti_--Bandello's Dedications--Life of
     Bandello--His Moral Attitude--Bandello as an
     Artist--Comparison of Bandello and Fletcher--The Tale of
     _Gerardo and Elena_--_Romeo and Juliet_--The Tale of
     _Nicuola_--The _Countess of Salisbury_--Bandello's Apology
     for his Morals and his Style--Il Lasca--Mixture of Cruelty
     and Lust--Extravagant Situations--Treatment of the
     _Parisina_ Motive--The Florentine _Burla_--Apology for Il
     Lasca's Repulsiveness--Firenzuola--His Life--His Satires on
     the Clergy--His Dialogue on Beauty--Novelettes and
     Poems--Doni's Career--His Bizarre Humor--Bohemian Life at
     Venice--The Pellegrini--His _Novelle_--Miscellaneous
     Works--The _Marmi_--The Novelists of Siena--Their specific
     Character--Sermini--Fortini--Bargagli's Description of the
     Siege of Siena--Illicini's Novel of _Angelica_--The
     _Proverbi_ of Cornazano--The _Notti Piacevoli_ of
     Straparola--The Novel of _Belphegor_--Straparola and
     Machiavelli--Giraldi Cinthio's _Hecatommithi_--Description
     of the Sack of Rome--Plan of the Collection--The Legend of
     the Borgias--Comparison of Italian Novels and English Plays.

Of Boccaccio's legacy the most considerable portion, and the one that
bore the richest fruit, was the Decameron. During the sixteenth
century the _Novella_, as he shaped it, continued to be a popular and
widely practiced form of literature. In Italy the keynote of the
Renaissance was struck by the _Novella_, as in England by the Drama.
Nor is this predominance of what must be reckoned a subordinate branch
of fiction, altogether singular; for the _Novella_ was in a special
sense adapted to the public which during the Age of the Despots grew
up in Italy. Since the fourteenth century the conditions of social
life had undergone a thorough revolution. Under the influence of
dynastic rulers stationed in great cities, merchants and manufacturers
were confounded with the old nobility; and in commonwealths like
Florence the _bourgeoisie_ gave their tone to society. At the same
time the community thus formed was separated from the people by the
bar of humanistic culture. Literature felt this social transformation.
Its products were shaped to suit the taste of the middle classes, and
at the same time to amuse the leisure of the aristocracy. The
_Novella_ was the natural outcome of these circumstances. Its
qualities and its defects alike betray the ascendency of the
_bourgeois_ element.

When a whole nation is addressed in drama or epic, it is necessary for
the poet to strike a lofty and noble note. He appeals to collective
humanity, and there is no room for aught that savors of the trivial
and base. Homer and Sophocles, Dante and Shakspere, owed their
grandeur in no slight measure to the audience for whom they labored.
The case is altered when a nation comes to be divided into orders,
each of which has its own peculiar virtues and its own besetting sins.
Limitations are of necessity introduced and deflections from the canon
of universality are welcomed. If the poet, for example, writes for the
lowest classes of society, he can afford to be coarse, but he must be
natural. An aristocracy, taken by itself, is apt, on the contrary, to
demand from literature the refinements of fashionable vice and the
subtleties of artificial sentiment. Under such influence we obtain
the Arthurian legends of the later middle ages, which contrast
unfavorably, in all points of simplicity and directness, with the
earlier Niebelungen and Carolingian Cycles. The middle classes, for
their part, delight in pictures of daily life, presented with realism,
and flavored with satire that touches on the points of their
experience. Literature produced to please the _bourgeois_, must be
sensible and positive; and its success will greatly depend upon the
piquancy of its appeal to ordinary unidealized appetites. The Italians
lacked such means of addressing the aggregated masses of the nation as
the panhellenic festivals of Greece afforded. The public, which gave
its scale of grandeur and sincerity to the Attic and Elizabethan
drama, was wanting. The literature of the _cinque cento_, though it
owed much to the justice of perception and simple taste of the true
people, was composed for the most part by men of middle rank for the
amusement of citizens and nobles. It partook of those qualities which
characterise the upper and middle classes. It was deficient in the
breadth, the magnitude, the purity, which an audience composed of the
whole nation can alone communicate. We find it cynical, satirical,
ingenious in sly appeals to appetite, and oftentimes superfluously
naughty. Above all it was emphatically the literature of a society
confined to cities.

It may be difficult to decide what special quality of the Italian
temperament was satisfied with the _Novella_. Yet the fact remains
that this species of composition largely governed their production,
not only in the field of narrative, but also in the associated region
of poetry and in the plastic arts. So powerful was the attraction it
possessed, that even the legends of the saints assumed this character.
A notable portion of the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_ were dramatized
_Novelle_. The romantic poets interwove _Novelle_ with their main
theme, and the charm of the _Orlando Furioso_ is due in no small
measure to such episodes. Popular poems of the type represented by
_Ginevra degli Almieri_ were versified _Novelle_. Celebrated trials,
like that of the Countess of Cellant, Vittoria Accoramboni, or the
Cenci, were offered to the people in the form of _Novelle_. The
humanists--Pontano, Poggio, Æneas Sylvius--wrote _Novelle_ in Latin.
The best serial pictures of the secondary painters--whether we select
Benozzo Gozzoli's legend of S. Augustine at San Gemignano, or
Carpaccio's legend of S. Ursula at Venice, or Sodoma's legend of S.
Benedict at Monte Oliveto, or Lippo Lippi's legend of S. John at
Prato--are executed in the spirit of the novelists. They are _Novelle_
painted in their salient incidents for the laity to study on the walls
of church and oratory.

The term _Novella_ requires definition, lest the thing in question
should be confounded with our modern novel. Although they bear the
same name, these species have less in common than might be supposed.
Both, indeed, are narratives; but while the novel is a history
extending over a considerable space of time, embracing a complicated
tissue of events, and necessitating a study of character, the
_Novella_ is invariably brief and sketchy. It does not aim at
presenting a detailed picture of human life within certain
artistically chosen limitations, but confines itself to a striking
situation, or tells an anecdote illustrative of some moral quality.
This is shown by the headings of the sections into which Italian
_Novellieri_ divided their collections. We read such rubrics as the
following: "On the magnanimity of princes"; "Concerning those who have
been fortunate in love"; "Of sudden changes from prosperity to evil
fortune"; "The guiles of women practiced on their husbands." A theme
is proposed, and the _Novelle_ are intended to exemplify it. The
_Novelle_ were descended in a direct line from the anecdotes embedded
in medieval Treasuries, Bestiaries, and similar collections. The
novel, on the other hand, as Cervantes, Richardson, and Fielding
formed it for the modern nations, is an expansion and prose digest of
the drama. It implies the drama as a previous condition of its being,
and flourishes among races gifted with the dramatic faculty.

Furthermore, the _Novelle_ were composed for the amusement of mixed
companies, who met together and passed their time in conversation. All
the _Novellieri_ pretend that their stories were originally recited
and then written down, nor is there the least doubt that in a large
majority of cases they were really read aloud or improvised upon
occasions similar to those invented by their authors. These
circumstances determined the length and ruled the mechanism of the
_Novella_. It was impossible within the short space of a spoken tale
to attempt any minute analysis of character, or to weave the meshes of
a complicated plot. The narrator went straight to his object, which
was to arrest the attention, stimulate the curiosity, gratify the
sensual instincts, excite the laughter, or stir the tender emotions
of his audience by some fantastic, extraordinary, voluptuous, comic,
or pathetic incident. He sketched his personages with a few swift
touches, set forth their circumstances with pungent brevity, and
expended his force upon the painting of the central motive. Sometimes
he contented himself with a bare narrative, leaving its details to the
fancy. Many _Novelle_ are the mere skeletons of stories, short notes,
and epitomes of tales. At another time he indulged in descriptive
passages of great verbal beauty, when it was his purpose to delight
the ideal audience with pictures, or to arouse their sympathy for his
characters in a situation of peculiar vividness. Or he introduced
digressions upon moral themes suggested by the passion of the moment,
discoursing with the easy flow of one who raises points of casuistry
in a drawing-room. Again, he heightened the effects of his anecdote by
elaborate rhetorical development of the main emotions, placing
carefully-studied speeches into the mouth of heroine or hero, and
using every artifice for appealing directly to the feelings of his
hearers. Thus, while the several _Novellieri_ pursue different methods
at different times according to their purpose, their styles are all
determined by the fact that recitation was essential to the species.
All of them, moreover, have a common object in amusement. Though the
_Novellieri_ profess to teach morality by precept, and though some of
them prefix prayers to their most impudent debauches of the fancy,[58]
it is clear that entertainment was their one sole end in view. For
their success they relied on the novelty and strangeness of their
incidents; on obscenity, sometimes veiled beneath the innuendoes and
suggestive metaphors of Italian convention, but more often unabashed
and naked to the view; on startling horrors, acts of insane passion,
or the ingenuities of diabolical cruelty. The humor of _beffe_ and
_burle_, jests played by rogues on simpletons, practical jokes, and
the various devices whereby wives and lovers fooled confiding
husbands, supplied abundant material for relieving the more tragic
stories. Lastly, the wide realm of pathos, the spectacle of beauty in
distress, young lovers overwhelmed by undeserved calamity, sudden
reverses of fortune, and accidents of travel upon land and sea,
provided the narrator with plentiful matter for working on the
sympathy of his readers. Of moral purpose in any strict sense of the
phrase the _Novelle_ have none. This does not mean that they are
invariably immoral; on the contrary, the theme of a considerable
number is such that the tale can be agreeably told without violence to
the most sensitive taste. But the novelist had no ethical intention;
therefore he brought every motive into use that might amuse or
stimulate, with business-like indifference. He felt no qualm of
conscience at provoking the cruder animal instincts, at dragging the
sanctities of domestic life in the mire of his buffoonery, or at
playing on the appetite for monstrous vice, the thirst for abnormal
sensations, in his audience. So long as he could excite attention, he
was satisfied. We cannot but wonder at the customs of a society which
derived its entertainment from these tales, when we know that noble
ladies listened to them without blushing, and that bishops composed
them as a graceful compliment to the daughter of a reigning duke.[59]

[Footnote 58: See Bandello's Introduction to _Nov._ xxxv. of Part i.,
where a most disgusting story is ushered in with ethical reflections;
and take this passage from the opening of one of Il Lasca's least
presentable novels: "Prima che al novellare di questa sera si dia
principio, mi rivolgo a te, Dio ottimo e grandissimo, che solo tutto
sai e tutto puoi, pregandoti divotamente e di cuore, che per la tua
infinita bontà e clemenza mi conceda, e a tutti questi altri che dopo
me diranno, tanto del tuo ajuto e della tua grazia, che la mia lingua
e la loro non dica cosa niuna, se non a tua lode e a nostra
consolazione."--_Le Cene_ (Firenze, Lemonnier, 1857), p. 7.]

[Footnote 59: It may be mentioned that not _all_ stories were recited
before women. Bandello introduces one of his tales with the remark
that in the absence of the ladies men may be less careful in their
choice of themes (_Nov._ xxx. pt. i.). The exception is singular, as
illustrating what was thought unfit for female ears. The _Novella_
itself consists of a few jokes upon a disgusting subject; but it is
less immodest than many which he dedicated to noble women.]

In style the _Novelle_ are, as might be expected, very unequal.
Everybody tried his hand at them: some wrote sparkling Tuscan, others
a dense Lombard dialect; some were witty, others dull. Yet all
affected to be following Boccaccio. His artificial periods and
rhetorical amplifications, ill-managed by men of imperfect literary
training, who could not free themselves from local jargons, produced
an awkward mixture of discordant faults. Yet the public expected
little from the novelist in diction. What they required was movement,
stimulus, excitement of their passions. So long as the tale-maker kept
curiosity awake, it was a matter of comparative indifference what sort
of words he used. The _Novella_ was a literary no-man's-land, where
the critic exercised a feeble sway, and amateurs or artists did what
each found suited to his powers. It held its ground under conditions
similar to those which determined the supply of plays among us in the
seventeenth century, or of magazine novels in this.

In their material the _Novelle_ embraced the whole of Italian society,
furnishing pictures of its life and manners from the palaces of
princes to the cottages of _contadini_. Every class is represented--the
man of books, the soldier, the parish priest, the cardinal, the
counter-jumper, the confessor, the peasant, the duke, the merchant,
the noble lady, the village maiden, the serving-man, the artisan, the
actor, the beggar, the courtesan, the cut-throat, the astrologer, the
lawyer, the physician, the midwife, the thief, the preacher, the nun,
the pander, the fop, the witch, the saint, the galley-slave, the
friar--they move before us in a motley multitude like the masquerade
figures of carnival time, jostling each other in a whirl of merriment
and passion, mixing together in the frank democracy of vice. Though
these pictures of life are brightly colored and various beyond
description, they are superficial. It is only the surface of existence
that the _Novelliere_ touches. He leaves its depths unanalyzed, except
when he plunges a sinister glance into some horrible abyss of cruelty
or lust, or, stirred by gentler feeling, paints an innocent unhappy
youthful love. The student of contemporary Italian customs will glean
abundant information from these pages; the student of human nature
gathers little except reflections on the morals of sixteenth-century
society. It was perhaps this prodigal superfluity of striking
incident, in combination with poverty of intellectual content, which
made the _Novelle_ so precious to our playwrights. The tales of
Cinthio and Bandello supplied them with the outlines of tragedies,
leaving the poet free to exercise his analytic and imaginative powers
upon the creation of character and the elaboration of motive. But
that in spite of all their faults, the _Novelle_ fascinate the fancy
and stimulate the mental energies, will be admitted by all who have
made them the subject of careful study.

To render an adequate account of the _Novellieri_ and their works is
very difficult.[60] The printing-press poured novels forth in every
town in Italy, and authors of all districts vied with one another in
their composition. At Florence Firenzuola penned stories with the
golden fluency and dazzling wealth of phrase peculiar to him. Il
Lasca's _Cene_ rank among the most considerable literary products of
the age. At Florence again, Machiavelli wrote _Belphegor_, and
Scipione Bargagli printed his _Trattenimenti_. Gentile Sermini, Pietro
Fortini and Giustiniano Nelli were the novelists of Siena; Masuccio
and Antonio Mariconda, of Naples. At Rome the Modenese Francesco Maria
Molza rivaled the purity of Tuscan in his _Decamerone_. But it was
chiefly in the North of Italy that novelists abounded. Giraldi's
hundred tales, entitled _Hecatommithi_, issued from Ferrara. They were
heavy in style, and prosaic; yet their matter made them widely
popular. Sabadino wrote his _Porretane_ at Bologna, and Francesco
Straparola of Caravaggio published his _Tredici piacevoli Notti_ at
Venice. There also appeared the _Diporti_ of Girolamo Parabosco, the
_Sei Giornate_ of Sebastiano Erizzo, Celio Malespini's _Ducento
Novelle_, and the _Proverbi_ of Antonio Cornazano. Cademosto of Lodi,
Monsignor Brevio of Venice, Ascanio de' Mori of Mantua, Luigi da
Porto of Vicenza, and, last not least, the illustrious Matteo
Bandello, proved how rich in this species of literature were the
northern provinces. The Lombards displayed a special faculty for tales
in which romance predominated. Venice, notorious for her
pleasure-marts of luxury, became the emporium of publications which
supplied her courtesans and rufflers with appropriate mental food. The
Tuscans showed more comic humor, and, of course, a purer style. But in
point of matter, intellectual and moral, there is not much to choose
between the works of Florentine and Lombard authors.

[Footnote 60: _I Novellieri in Prosa_, by Giambattista Passano
(Milano, Schiepatti, 1864), will be found an excellent dictionary of

Following the precedent of Boccaccio, it was usual for the
_Novellieri_ to invent a framework for their stories, making it appear
that a polite society of men and women (called in Italy a _lieta
brigata_) had by some chance accident been thrown upon their own
resources in circumstances of piquant novelty. One of the party
suggests that they should spend their time in telling tales, and a
captain is chosen who sets the theme and determines the order of the
story-tellers. These introductions are not unfrequently the most
carefully written portion of the collection, and abound in charming
sketches of Italian life. Thus Il Lasca at the opening of _Le Cene_
feigns that a company of young men and women went in winter time to
visit at a friend's house in Florence. It was snowing, and the youths
amused themselves by a snow-ball match in the inner courtyard of the
palace. The ladies watched them from a _loggia_, till it came into
their heads to join the game. Snow was brought them from the roofs,
and they began to pelt the young men from their balcony.[61] The fire
was returned; and when the _brigata_ had enough of this fun, they
entered the house together, dried their clothes, and, sitting round a
blazing hearth, formed a plan for telling stories at supper. Girolamo
Parabosco places the scene of his _Diporti_ on the Venetian lagoons. A
party of gentlemen have left the city to live in huts of wood and
straw upon the islands, with the intention of fowling and fishing. The
weather proves too bad for sport, and they while away the hours of
idleness with anecdotes. Bandello follows a different method, which
had been suggested by Masuccio. He dedicates his _Novelle_ to the
distinguished people of his acquaintance, in prefaces not devoid of
flattery, but highly interesting to a student of those times. Princes,
poets, warriors, men of state, illustrious women, and humanists pass
before us in these dedications, proving that polite society in Italy,
the society of the learned and the noble, was a republic of wit and
culture. Alessandro Bentivoglio and Ippolita Sforza, the leaders of
fashion and Bandello's special patrons, take the first rank.[62] Then
we have the Gonzaga family of Mantua, Lancinus Curtius, Aldus
Manutius, Machiavelli, Molsa, Guicciardini, Castiglione, the Duchess
of Urbino, Giovanni de' Medici, Julius Cæsar Scaliger, Bernardo Tasso,
Prospero Colonna, Julius II., Porcellio, Pontano, Berni, the Milanese
Visconti, the Neapolitan Sanseverini, the Adorni of Genoa, the Foscari
of Venice, the Estensi of Ferrara. Either directly addressed in
prefaces or mentioned with familiar allusion in the course of the
narratives, these historic names remind us that the author lived at
the center of civilization, and that his _Novelle_ were intended for
the entertainment of the great world. What Castiglione presents
abstractedly and in theory as a critique of noble society, is set
before us by Bandello in the concrete form of every-day occurrence.
Nor does the author forget that he is speaking to this company. His
words are framed to suit their prejudices; his allusions have
reference to their sentiments and predilections. The whole work of art
breathes the air of good manners and is tuned to a certain pitch-note
of fashionable tone. We may be astounded that ladies and gentlemen of
the highest birth and breeding could tolerate the licenses of language
and suggestion furnished by Bandello for their delectation. We may
draw conclusions as to their corruption and essential coarseness in
the midst of refined living and external gallantries[63]. Yet the fact
remains that these _Novelle_ were a customary adjunct to the courtly
pleasures of the sixteenth century; and it was only through the
printing-press that they passed into the taverns and the brothels,
where perhaps they found their fittest audience.

[Footnote 61: This motive may have been suggested by Folgore da S.
Gemignano's sonnet on the month of January.]

[Footnote 62: These are the pair so nobly painted by Luini above the
high-altar of S. Maurizio at Milan. See my _Sketches and Studies in

[Footnote 63: What we know about manners at the Courts of our
Elizabeth and James, and the gossip of the French Court in Brantome's
_Dames Galantes_, remind us that this blending of grossness and luxury
was not peculiar to Italy.]

Matteo Bandello was a member of the petty Lombard nobility, born at
Castelnuovo in Tortona. His uncle was General of the Dominicans, and
this circumstance determined Matteo's career. After spending some
years of his youth at Rome, he entered the order of the Predicatori in
the Convent delle Grazie at Milan. He was not, however, destined to
the seclusion of a convent; for he attended his uncle, in the
character apparently of a companion or familiar secretary, when the
General visited the chief Dominican establishments of Italy, Spain,
France and Germany. A considerable portion of Bandello's manhood was
passed at Mantua, where he became the tutor and the platonic lover of
Lucrezia Gonzaga. Before the date 1525, when French and Spaniards
contested the Duchy of Milan, he had already formed a collection of
_Novelle_ in manuscript--the fruits of all that he had heard and seen
upon his frequent travels. These were dispersed when the Spaniards
entered Milan and pillaged the house of the Bandello family.[64]
Matteo, after numerous adventures as an exile, succeeded in recovering
a portion of his papers, and retired with Cesare Fregoso to the Court
of France. He now set himself seriously to the task of preparing his
_Novelle_ for the press; nor was this occupation interrupted by the
duties of the see of Agen, conferred upon him in 1550 by Henry II. The
new bishop allowed his colleague of Grasse to administer the see,
drawing enough of its emoluments for his private needs, and attending
till his death, about the year 1560, to study and composition.

[Footnote 64: See Dedication to _Nov._ xi. of second part.]

Bandello's life was itself a _novella_. The scion of a noble house,
early dedicated to the order of S. Dominic, but with the General of
that order for his uncle, he enjoyed rare opportunities of studying
men and manners in all parts of Europe. His good abilities and active
mind enabled him to master the essentials of scholarship, and
introduced him as tutor to one of the most fascinating learned women
of his age. These privileges he put to use by carrying on a courtly
flirtation with his interesting pupil, at the same time that he penned
his celebrated novels. The disasters of the Milanese Duchy deprived
him of his literary collections and probably injured his fortune. But
he found advancement on a foreign soil, and died a bishop at the
moment when Europe was ringing with the scandals of his too licentious
tales. These tales furnished the Reformers with a weapon in their war
against the Church; nor would it have been easy to devise one better
to their purpose. Even now it moves astonishment to think that a monk
should have written, and a bishop should have published, the _facetiæ_
with which Bandello's books are filled.

Bandello paints a society in dissolution, bound together by no
monarchical or feudal principles, without patriotism, without piety,
united by none of the common spiritual enthusiasms that make a people
powerful. The word honor is on everybody's lips; but the thing is
nowhere: and when the story-teller seeks to present its ideal image to
his audience, he proves by the absurdity of his exaggeration that he
has no clear conception of its meaning.[65] The virtues which
inspired an earlier and less corrupt civility, have become occasions
for insipid rhetoric. The vice that formerly stirred indignation, is
now the subject of mirth. There is no satire, because there is no
moral sense. Bandello's revelations of clerical and monastic
immorality supplied the enemies of Rome with a full brief; but it is
obvious that Bandello and his audience regarded the monstrous tale of
profligacy with amusement. His frankness upon the very eve of the
Council of Trent has something at once cynical and sinister. It makes
us feel that the hypocrisy engendered by the German Reformation, the
_si non caste tamen caute_ of the new ecclesiastical _régime_, was the
last resort of a system so debased that vital regeneration had become
impossible. This does not necessarily mean that the Italian Church had
no worthy ministers in the sixteenth century. But when her dealing
with the people ended in a humorous acceptance of such sin, we
perceive that the rottenness had reached the core. To present the
details of Bandello's clerical stories would be impossible in pages
meant for modern readers. It is enough to say that he spares no rank
or order of the Roman priesthood. The prelate, the parish curate, the
abbot and the prioress, the monk and nun, are made the subject of
impartial ribaldry.[66] The secrets of convents abandoned to
debauchery are revealed with good-humored candor, as though the
scandal was too common to need special comment.[67] Sometimes
Bandello extracts comedy from the contrast between the hypocritical
pretensions of his clerical ruffians and their lawless conduct, as in
the story of the priest who for his own ends persuaded his
parishioners that the village was haunted by a griffin.[68] Sometimes
he succeeds in drawing a satirical portrait, like that of the
Franciscan friar who domesticated himself as chaplain in the castle of
a noble Norman family.[69] But the majority of these tales are simply
obscene, with no point but a coarse picture or a shockingly painful

[Footnote 65: Read, for example, the _Novella_ of Zilia, who imposed
silence on her lover because he kissed her, and the whole sequel to
his preposterous obedience (iii. 17); or the tale of Don Giovanni
Emmanuel in the lion's den (iii. 39); or the rambling story of Don
Diego and Ginevra la Bionda (i. 27). The two latter have a touch of
Spanish extravagance, but without the glowing Spanish passion. In
quoting Bandello, I shall refer to _Part_ and _Novel_ by two numerals.
References are made to the Milanese edition, _Novellieri Italiani_,

[Footnote 66: For instance, Parte ii. _Nov._ 14; ii. xlv.; iii. 2, 3,
4, 7, 20.]

[Footnote 67: See the description in ii. 36 (vol. v. p. 270); and
again, iii. 61; ii. 45.]

[Footnote 68: ii. 2.]

[Footnote 69: ii. 24.]

[Footnote 70: See, for instance, ii. 20; ii. 7.]

The same judgment may be passed upon a large portion of the _Novelle_
which deal with secular characters. They are indecent anecdotes, and
do not illustrate any specific quality in the author or in the temper
of his times.[71] The seasoning of horror only serves to render their
licentiousness more loathsome. As Bandello lacked the indignation of
Masuccio, so he failed to touch Masuccio's tragic chord. When he
attempted it, as in the ghastly story of Violante, who revenged
herself upon a faithless lover by tearing him to pieces with pincers,
or in the disgusting novel of Pandora, or again in the tale of the
husband who forced his wife to strangle her lover with her own hands,
he only rouses physical repulsion.[72] He makes our flesh creep, and
produces literature analogous to that of the _Police Times_. Nor does
he succeed better with subjects that require the handling of a
profound psychologist. His Rosmunda and Tarquin, his Faustina and
Seleucus, leave an impression of failure through defect of imaginative
force[73]; while the incestuous theme of one tale, treated as it is
with frigid levity, can claim no justification on the score of
dramatic handling or high-wrought spiritual agony.[74]

[Footnote 71: I need not give any references to the _Novelle_ of this
groveling type. But I may call attention to i. 35; ii. 11; iv. 34, 35.
These tales are not exceptionally obscene; they illustrate to what
extent mere filth of the Swiftian sort passed for fun in the Italy of
Bembo and Castiglione.]

[Footnote 72: i. 42; iii. 21; iii. 52; ii. 12.]

[Footnote 73: iii. 18; ii. 21; i. 36; iii. 55.]

[Footnote 74: ii. 35; cp. i. 37.]

It was not in this region of tragic terror that Bandello's genius
moved with freedom. In describing the luxury of Milan or the manners
of the Venetian courtesans, in bringing before us scenes from the
_demi-monde_ of Rome or painting the life of a _grisette_, he shows
acute knowledge of society, studied under its more superficial
aspects, and produces pictures that are valuable for the
antiquarian.[75] The same merit of freshness belongs to many minor
anecdotes, like the romance of the girl who drowned herself in the
Oglio to save her honor, or the pretty episode of Costantino Boccali
who swam the Adige in winter at a thoughtless lady's behest.[76] Yet
in Bandello's versions of contemporary histories which taxed the
imaginative powers or demanded deeper insight into human passions, we
miss the true dramatic ring. It was only when it fell into the hands
of Webster, that his dull narrative of the Duchess of Amalfi revealed
its capacities for artistic treatment.[77] Nor is the story of the
Countess of Cellant, though full of striking details, so presented as
to leave the impression of tragedy upon our minds.[78] We only feel
what Webster, dealing with it as he dealt with Vittoria Corombona's
crime, might have made out of this poor material.

[Footnote 75: The pictures of Milanese luxury before the Spanish
occupation are particularly interesting. See i. 9, and the beginning
of ii. 8. It seems that then, as now, Milan was famous for her
equipages and horses. The tale of the two fops who always dressed in
white (iii. 11) brings that life before us. For the Venetian and Roman
_demi-monde_, iii. 31; i. 19; i. 42; ii. 51, may be consulted. These
passages have the value of authentic studies from contemporary life,
and are told about persons whom the author knew at least by name.]

[Footnote 76: i. 8; i. 47.]

[Footnote 77: i. 26.]

[Footnote 78: i. 108.]

It may be asked, if this is all, why any one should take the pains to
read through the two hundred and fourteen _Novelle_ of Bandello, and,
having done so, should think it worth his while to write about them.
Ought they not rather to be left among the things the world would
willingly let die? The answer to this question is twofold. In the
first place they fairly represent the whole class of novels which were
produced so abundantly in Italy that the historian of Renaissance
literature cannot pass them by in silence. Secondly, Bandello at his
best is a great artist in the story-teller's craft. The conditions
under which he displayed his powers to true advantage, require some
definition. Once only did he successfully handle a really comic
situation. That was in his tale of the monkey who dressed himself up
in a dead woman's clothes, and frightened her family when they
returned from the funeral, by mimicking her movement.[79] He was never
truly tragic. But in the intermediate region between tragedy and
comedy, where situations of romantic beauty offer themselves to the
sympathetic imagination--in that realm of pathos and adventure, where
pictures of eventful living can be painted, and the conflicts of
tender emotion have to be described, Bandello proved himself a master.
It would make the orthodox Italian critics shudder in their graves to
hear that he had been compared to Ariosto. Yet a foreigner, gifted
with obtuser sensibility to the refinements of Italian diction, may
venture the remark that Bandello was a kind of prose Ariosto--in the
same sense as Heywood seemed a prose Shakspere to Charles Lamb. Judged
by the high standard of Athenian or Elizabethan art, neither Ariosto
nor Bandello was a first-rate dramatist. But both commanded the
material of which romantic tragedies can be constructed. Bandello's
best _Novelle_ abound in the situations which delighted our
playwrights of the Jacobean age--in the thrilling incidents and scenes
of high-wrought passion we are wont to deem the special property of
Fletcher. He puts them before us with a force of realistic coloring,
and develops them with a warmth of feeling, that leave no doubt of his
artistic skill. Composition and style may fail him, but his sympathy
with the poetic situation, and his power to express it are
unmistakable. In support of this opinion I might point to his vigorous
but repulsive presentation of Parisina's legend, where the gradual
yielding of a sensitive young man to the seductions of a sensual
woman, is painted with touches of terrible veracity.[80] Or the tale
of the Venetian lovers might be chosen.[81] Gerardo and Elena were
secretly married; but in his absence on a voyage, she was plighted by
her father to another husband. Before the consummation of this second
marriage, Elena fell through misery into a death-like trance, and was
taken by her kindred to be buried at Castello on the shores of the
lagoons. At the moment when the funeral procession was crossing the
waters by the light of many torches, the ship of Gerardo cast anchor
in the port of Venice, and the young man heard that his wife was dead.
Attended by a single friend, he went under cover of the night to where
she had been laid in a sarcophagus outside the church. This he opened,
and, frantic between grief and joy, bore the corpse of his beloved to
his boat. He kissed her lips, and laid himself beside her lifeless
body, wildly refusing to listen to his friend's expostulations. Then
while the gondola rocked on the waves of the lagoons and the sea-wind
freshened before daybreak, Elena awoke. It is needless to add that the
story ends in happiness. This brief sketch conveys no notion of the
picturesque beauty of the incidents described, or of the intimate
acquaintance with Venetian customs displayed in the _Novella_. To one
who knows Venice, it is full of delicate suggestions, and the reader
illuminates the margin with illustrations in the manner of Carpaccio.

[Footnote 79: iii. 65.]

[Footnote 80: i. 44.]

[Footnote 81: ii. 41.]

There is a point of Romeo and Juliet in the tale of Gerardo and Elena.
Bandello's own treatment of the Veronese romance deserves comparison
with Shakspere's.[82] The evolution of the tragedy is nearly the same
in all its leading incidents; for we hear of Romeo's earlier love, and
the friar who dealt in simples is there, and so are the nurse and
apothecary. Bandello has anticipated Shakspere even in Juliet's
soliloquy before she drinks the potion, when the dreadful thought
occurs to her that she may wake too soon, and find herself alone among
the dry bones of her ancestors, with Tybalt festering in his shroud.
But the prose version exhibits one motive which Shakspere missed.
When Romeo opens the tomb, he rouses Juliet from her slumber, and in
his joy forgets that he has drunk the poison. For a while the lovers
are in paradise together in that region of the dead; and it is only
when the chill of coming death assails him, that Romeo remembers what
he has done. He dies, and Juliet stabs herself with his sword. Had
Shakspere chosen to develop this catastrophe, instead of making Romeo
perish before the waking of Juliet, he might have wrought the most
pathetically tragic scene in poetry. Reading the climax in Bandello,
where it is overpoweringly affecting, we feel what we have lost.

[Footnote 82: ii. 37. It is clear that both followed the earlier
version of Da Porto.]

Another _Novella_ which provokes comparison with our dramatic
literature--with the _Twelfth Night_ or with Fletcher's
_Philaster_--is the tale of Nicuola.[83] She and her brother Paolo
were twins, so like in height and form and feature that it was
difficult even for friends to know them apart. They were living with
their father at Rome, when the siege of 1527 dispersed the family.
Paolo was taken prisoner by Spaniards, and Nicuola went to dwell at
Jesi. The _Novella_ goes on to relate how she fell in love with a
nobleman of Jesi, and entering his service disguised as a page, was
sent by him to woo the lady of his heart; and how this lady loved her
in her page's dress. Then her brother, Paolo, returned, attired like
her in white, and recognitions were made, and both couples, Paolo and
the lady, Nicuola and the nobleman, were happily married in the end.
It will be seen that these situations, involving confusions of
identity and sex, unexpected discoveries, and cross-play of passions,
offered opportunities for rhetorical and picturesque development in
the style of a modern Euripides; nor did Bandello fail to utilize

[Footnote 83: ii. 36. This tale was fashionable in Italy. It forms the
basis of that rare comedy, _Gli Ingannati_, performed by the Academy
degli Intronati at Siena, and printed in 1538. The scene in this play
is laid at Modena; the main plot is interwoven with two
intrigues--between Isabella's father and Lelia, the heroine; and
between Isabella's maid and a Spaniard. In spite of these
complications the action is lucid, and the comedy is one of the best
we possess. There is an excellent humorous scene of two innkeepers
touting against each other for travelers (Act iii. 2). That Shakspere
knew the _Novella_ or the comedy before he wrote his _Twelfth Night_
is more than probable.]

Of a higher type is the _Novella_ which narrates the love of Edward
III. for the virtuous Alice of Salisbury.[84] Here the interest
centers in four characters--the King, Alice, and her father and
mother, the Earl and Countess of Salisbury. There is no action beyond
the conflict of motives and emotions caused by Edward's passion, and
its successive phases. But that conflict is so vigorously presented
that attention never flags; and, though the tale is long, we are drawn
without weariness by finely-modulated transitions to the point where a
felicitous catastrophe is not only natural but necessary. What is at
first a mere desire in Edward, passes through graduated moods of
confident, despairing, soul-absorbing love. The ordinary artifices of
a seducer are replaced by the powerful compulsion of a monarch, who
strives to corrupt the daughter by working on her father's ambition
and her mother's weakness. Thwarted by the girl's constancy at every
turn, he sinks into love-melancholy, then rouses himself with the
furious resolve to attempt force, and lastly, yielding to his nobler
nature, offers his crown to Alice. These several moments in the
King's passion are exhibited with a descriptive wealth and exuberance
of resource that remind us forcibly of our own stage. The contrasts
between the girl's invincible honor and her lover's ungovernable
impulse, between her firmness and her mother's feebler nature, and
again between the sovereign's overbearing willfulness and the Earl's
stubborn but respectful resistance, suggest a series of high-wrought
situations, which only need to be versified and divided into acts to
make a drama. Fletcher himself might have proudly owned the scene in
which Edward discovers his love to the Earl, begs him to plead with
his daughter, and has to hear his reproaches, so courteously and yet
unflinchingly expressed. What follows is equally dramatic. The Earl
explains to Alice his own ideal of honor; still he fairly sets before
her the King's lawless offer, and then receives the assurance of her
unconquerable chastity. Her mother, moved to feebler issues by the
same pressure, attempts to break her daughter's resolve, and at last
extorts a reluctant consent by her own physical agony. Finally, the
girl, when left alone with her royal lover, demands from him or death
or honor, and wins her cause by the nobility of her carriage in this
hour of trial. The whole _Novella_ in its choice of motives, method of
treatment, and ethical tone, challenges comparison with Beaumont and
Fletcher's serious plays. Nor is the style unlike theirs; for the
situations are worked out in copious and colored language, hasty and
diffuse, but charged and surcharged with the passion of the thing to
be portrayed. Bandello, like Fletcher, strikes out images at every
turn, enlarges in rhetorical digressions, and pours forth floods of
voluble eloquence.[85] The morality, though romantic, is above his
usual level; for while he paints a dissolute and willful prince in
Edward, he contrives to make us feel that the very force of passion,
when purified to true love by the constancy of Alice, has brought the
monarch to a knowledge of his better self. Nor is the type of honor in
Alice and the Earl exaggerated. They act and speak as subjects,
conscious of their duty to the King, but resolved to preserve their
self-respect at any cost, should speak and act. The compliance of the
Countess, who is willing to sacrifice her daughter's honor under the
impulse of blind terror, cannot be called unnatural. The consequent
struggle between a mother's frailty and a daughter's firmness, though
painful enough, is not so disagreeably presented as in Tourneur's
_Revenger's Tragedy_. If all Bandello's novels had been conceived in
the same spirit as this, he would have ranked among the best romantic
writers of the modern age. As it is, we English may perhaps take
credit to ourselves for the superior inspiration of the legend he here
handled. The moral fiber of the tale is rather English than Italian.

[Footnote 84: ii. 37. Historians will not look for accuracy in what is
an Italian love-tale founded on an English legend.]

[Footnote 85: Take the description of the King's love-sickness (_Nov.
It._ vol. v. p. 352), the incident of the King's offer to the Earl
(pp. 353, 354), Edward's musings (p. 364), Alice alone in London (p.
376), the King's defiance of opinion (p. 379), the people's verdict
against Alice (p. 380), Alice arming herself with the dagger (p. 398),
the garden scene upon the Thames (p. 399). Then the discourses upon
love and temperament (p. 325), on discreet conduct in love affairs
(pp. 334-338), on real and false courtiers (pp. 382-388). Compare the
descriptive passages on pp. 352, 354, 369, 393, 395, 398, with similar
passages in Beaumont and Fletcher.]

Bandello was not unaware that his _Novelle_ lay under censure for
licentiousness. His apology deserves to be considered, since it places
the Italian conscience on this point in a clear light. In the preface
to the eleventh _Novella_ of the second part, he attacks the question
boldly.[86] "They say that my stories are not honest. In this I am
with them, if they rightly apprehend honesty. I do not deny that some
are not only not honest, but I affirm and confess that they are most
dishonest; for if I write that a maiden grants favors to a lover, I
cannot pretend that the fact is not in the highest sense immoral. So
also of many things I have narrated. No sane person will fail to blame
incest, theft, homicide, and other vicious actions; and I concede that
my _Novelle_ set forth these and similar enormous crimes. But I do not
admit that I deserve to be therefore blamed. The world ought to blame
and stigmatize those who commit such crimes, and not the man who
writes about them." He then affirms that he has written his stories
down as he heard them from the lips of the narrators, that he has
clothed them in decent language, and that he has always been careful
to condemn vice and to praise virtue. In the twenty-fourth novel of
the same part he returns to the charge.[87] Hypocrites, he argues,
complain that the Decameron and similar collections corrupt the
morality of women and teach vice; "but I was always of opinion that to
commit crimes rather than to know about them was vicious. Ignorance is
never good, and it is better to be instructed in the wickedness of
the world than to fall into error through defect of knowledge." This
apology, when read by the light of Bandello's own _Novelle_, is an
impudent evasion of the accusation. They are a school of profligacy;
and the author was at pains to make his pictures of sensuality
attractive. That he should plume himself upon the decorum of his
language, is simply comic. Such simulation of a conscience was all
that remained at an epoch when the sense of shame had been
extinguished, while acquiescence in the doctrines of a corrupt Church
had not ceased to be fashionable.

[Footnote 86: _Nov. It._ vol. iv. p. 226. Compare the peroration of
his Preface to the third part (vol. vii. p. 13).]

[Footnote 87: Vol. v. p. 38.]

Bandello is more sensitive to strictures on his literary style, and
makes a better defense. "They say that I have no style. I grant it;
nor do I profess to be a master of prose, believing that if those only
wrote who were consummate in their art, very few would write at all.
But I maintain that any history, composed in however rough and uncouth
a language, will not fail to delight the reader; and these novels of
mine (unless I am deceived by their narrators) are not fables but true
histories."[88] In another place he confesses that his manner is and
always has been "light and low and deficient in intellectual
quality."[89] Again, he meets the objection that his diction is not
modeled on the purest Tuscan masterpieces, by arguing that even
Petrarch wrote Italian and not Tuscan, and that if Livy smacked of
Patavinity, he, a Lombard, does not shrink from Lombardisms in his
style.[90] The line of defense is good; but, what is more, Bandello
knew that he was popular. He cared to be read by all classes of the
people rather than to be praised by pedants for the purity of his
language. Therefore he snapped his fingers at Speron Sperone and
Trifone, the so-called Socrates of his century. The _Novella_ was not
a branch of scholarly but of vulgar literature; and Bandello had far
better right to class himself among Italian authors than Straparola or
Giraldi, whose novels were none the less sought after with avidity and
read with pleasure by thousands. It is true that he was not a master
of the best Italian prose, and that his _Novelle_ do not rank among
the _Testi di Lingua_. He is at one and the same time prolix and
involved, ornate and vulgar, coarse in phraseology and ambitious in
rhetoric. He uses metaphors borrowed from the slang of the fashionable
world to express gross thoughts or actions. He indulges in pompous
digressions and overloads his narrative with illustrations. But, in
spite of these defects, he is rarely dull. His energy and copiousness
of diction never fail him. His style is penetrated with the passion of
the subject, and he delights our imagination with wonderfully varied
pictures drawn from life. It is probable that foreigners can render
better justice to the merits of Bandello as a writer, than Italians,
who are trained to criticise language from a highly refined and
technical point of view. We recognize his vividness and force without
being disgusted by his Lombardisms or the coarseness of his phrases.
Yet even some Italian critics of no mean standing have been found to
say a good word for his style. Among these may be reckoned the
judicious Mazzuchelli.[91]

[Footnote 88: Vol. iv. p. 226. Cp. vol. ix. p. 339.]

[Footnote 89: Vol. vi. p. 254.]

[Footnote 90: Vol. vii. p. 11.]

[Footnote 91: In the biography of Bandello he says, "Lo stile è
piuttosto colto e studiato, che che taluno n'abbia detto in contrario,
non però in guisa che possa mettersi a confronto di quello del

The author of _Le Cene_ presents a marked contrast to Bandello.
Antonfrancesco Grazzini belonged to an ancient and honorable family of
Staggia in Valdelsa.[92] Some of his ancestors held office in the
Florentine republic, and many were registered in the Art of the
Notaries. Born at Florence in 1503, he was matriculated into the
Speziali, and followed the profession of a druggist. His literary
career was closely connected with the academies of Gli Umidi and La
Crusca.[93] The sobriquet Il Lasca, or The Roach, assumed by him as a
member of the Umidi, is the name by which he is best known. Besides
_Novelle_, he wrote comedies and poems, and made the renowned
collection of _Canti Carnascialeschi_. He died in 1583 and was buried
in S. Pier Maggiore. Thus while Bandello might claim to be a citizen
of the great world, reared in the ecclesiastical purple and conversant
with the noblest society of Northern Italy, Il Lasca began life and
ended it as a Florentine burgher. For aught we know, he may not have
traveled beyond the bounds of the republic. His stories are written in
the raciest Tuscan idiom and are redolent of the humor peculiar to
Florence. If Bandello appropriated the romantic element in Boccaccio,
Il Lasca chose his comic side for imitation. Nearly all his novels
turn on _beffe_ and _burle_, similar to those sketched in Sacchetti's
anecdotes, or developed with greater detail by Pulci and the author of
_Il Grasso Legnaiuolo_.[94] Three boon companions, Lo Scheggia, Il
Monaco, and Il Pilucca are the heroes of his comedy; and the pranks
they play, are described with farcical humor of the broadest and most
powerful sort. Still the specific note of Il Lasca's novels is not
pure fun. He combines obscenity with fierce carnal cruelty and inhuman
jesting, in a mixture that speaks but ill for the taste of his
time.[95] Neither Boccaccio nor the author of _Il Grasso_ struck a
chord so vicious, though the latter carried his buffoonery to the
utmost stretch of heartlessness. It needed the depravity of the
sixteenth century to relish the lust, seasoned with physical torture
and spiritual agony, which was so cunningly revealed, so coldly
reveled in by Il Lasca.[96] A practical joke or an act of refined
vengeance had peculiar attraction for the Florentines. But the men
must have been blunted in moral sensibility and surfeited with strange
experiences, who could enjoy Pilucca's brutal tricks, or derive
pleasure from the climax of a tale so ghastly as the fifth _Novella_
of the second series.

[Footnote 92: See Sonnet 79, _Rime_ (ed. 1741).]

[Footnote 93: Founded respectively in 1540 and 1583. Grazzini
quarreled with them both.]

[Footnote 94: _Cena_ i. _Nov._ 3, is in its main motive modeled on
that novel.]

[Footnote 95: The contrast between the amiable manners of the young
men and women described in the introduction to _Le Cene_, and the
stories put into their mouths; between the profound immorality, frigid
and repellent, of the tales and Ghiacinto's prayer at the beginning;
need not be insisted on.]

[Footnote 96: As I shall not dilate upon these novels further in the
text, I may support the above censure by reference to the practical
joke played upon the pedagogue (i. 2), to the inhuman novel of _Il
Berna_ (ii. 2), to the cruel vengeance of a brother (ii. 7), and to
the story of the priest (ii. 8).]

This is a story of incest and a husband's vengeance. Substantially the
same as Parisina's tragedy, Il Lasca has invented for it his own
whimsically horrible conclusion. The husband surprises his wife and
son. Then, having cut off their hands, feet, eyes and tongues, he
leaves them to die together on the bed where he had found them. The
rhetoric with which this catastrophe is embellished, and the purring
sympathy expressed for the guilty couple, only serve to make its
inhumanity more glaring. Incapable of understanding tragedy, these
writers of a vitiated age sought excitement in monstrous situations.
The work produced is a proper pendent to the filth of the burlesque
_Capitoli_. Literature of this sort might have amused Caligula and his
gladiators. Prefaced by an unctuous prayer to God, it realizes the
very superfluity of naughtiness.[97]

[Footnote 97: See above, p. 56, note.]

In favor of the Florentines, we might plead that these _Novelle_ were
accepted as pure fictions--debauches of the fancy, escapades of
inventive wit. The ideal world they represented, claimed no contact
with realities of life. The pranks of Lo Scheggia and Il Pilucca,
which drove one man into exile, another to the hospital, and a third
to his death, had no more actuality than the tricks of clown and
pantaloon. A plea of this sort was advanced by Charles Lamb for the
dramatists of the Restoration; and it carries, undoubtedly, its
measure of conviction. Literature of convention, which begins by
stimulating curiosity, must find novel combinations and fresh
seasonings, to pique the palate of the public. Thus the abominations
of Il Lasca's stories would have to be regarded as the last desperate
bids for popularity, as final hyperboles of exhausted rhetoric. Yet,
after all, books remain the mirror of a people's taste. Whatever their
quality may be, they are produced to satisfy some demand. And the
wonderful vivacity of Il Lasca's coloring, the veracity of his art,
preclude him from the benefit of a defense which presupposes that he
stood in some unnatural relation to his age. While we read his tales,
we cannot but remember the faces painted by Bronzino, or modeled by
Cellini. The sixteenth-century Florentines were hard and cold as
steel. Their temper had been brutalized by servitude, superficially
polished by humanism, blunted by the extraordinary intellectual
activity of three centuries. Compared with the voluptuous but
sympathetic mood of the Lombard novelists, this cruelty means
something special to the race.

Some of Il Lasca's stories, fortunately, need no such strained apology
or explanation. The tale of Lisabetta's dream, though it lacks point,
is free from his worse faults[98]; while the novel of Zoroaster is not
only innocent, but highly humorous and charged with playful
sarcasm.[99] It contains a portrait of a knavish astrologer, worthy to
be set beside the _Negromante_ of Ariosto or Ben Jonson's _Alchemist_.
When Jerome Cardan was coquetting with chiromancy and magic, when
Cellini was raising fiends with the Sicilian necromancer in the
Coliseum, a novelist found sufficient stuff for comedy and satire in
the foibles of ghost-seekers and the tricks of philter-mongers. The
companion portrait of the dissolute monk, who sets his hand to any
dirty work that has the spice of fun in it, is also executed with no
little spirit.

[Footnote 98: _Cena_ ii. 3.]

[Footnote 99: _Cena_ ii. 4.]

Among the most graceful of the Tuscan novelists may be mentioned
Agnolo Firenzuola. His family derived its name from a village at the
foot of the Pistojan Apennines, and his father was a citizen of
Florence. Agnolo spent his youth at Siena and Perugia, where he made
the friendship of Pietro Aretino, leading the wild student life
described in their correspondence.[100] That he subsequently entered
the Vallombrosan order seems to be certain; but it is somewhat
doubtful whether he attained the dignity of Abbot which his
biographers ascribe to him.[101] Tiraboschi, unwilling to admit so
great a scandal to the Church, has adduced reasons why we should
suspend our judgment.[102] Yet the tradition rests on substantial
authority. A monument erected by Firenzuola to his uncle Alessandro
Braccio in the church of S. Prassede, at Rome, describes him as _ædis
hujus Abbas_. S. Maria di Spoleti and S. Salvator di Vaiano are
supposed to have been his benefices. Some further collateral proof
might be drawn from the opening of the dialogue _Sopra le Bellezze
delle Donne_. The scene of it is laid in the convent grounds of
Grignano, and Celso is undoubtedly Firenzuola. A portion of his
manhood was spent at Rome in friendship with Molza, Berni, and other
brilliant literary men. While resident in Rome he contracted a severe
and tedious illness, which obliged him to retire to Prato, where he
spent some of the happiest years of his life.[103] Nearly all his
works contain frequent and affectionate recollections of this sunny
little town, the beauty of whose women is enthusiastically celebrated
by him. Firenzuola died before the middle of the sixteenth century at
the age of about fifty. Neither his life nor his friendships nor yet
his writings were consistent with his monastic profession and the
dignity of Abbot. The charm of Firenzuola's _Novelle_ is due in a
large measure to his style, which has a wonderful transparency and
ease, a wealth of the rarest Tuscan phrases, and a freshness of humor
that renders them delightful reading. The storm at sea in the first
tale, and the night scene in the streets of Florence in the third, are
described with Ariostean brilliancy.[104] In point of subject-matter
they do not greatly differ from the ordinary novels of the day, and
some of the tales reappear in the collections of other novelists.[105]
Most of them turn upon the foibles and the vices of the clergy. The
fourth _Novella_, which is perhaps the best of all in style and humor,
presents a truly comic picture of the parish priest, while the fifth
describes the interior of a dissolute convent at Perugia, and the
tenth exposes the arts whereby confessors induced silly women to make
wills in the favor of their convents. Don Giovanni, Suor Appellagia,
and Fra Cherubino, the chief actors in these stories, might be
selected as typical characters in the Italian comedy of clerical

[Footnote 100: See the Letters of Aretino, vol. ii. p. 239.]

[Footnote 101: All my references are made to the _Opere di Messer
Agnolo Firenzuola_, 5 vols. Milan, 1802.]

[Footnote 102: _Storia della Lett. It._ lib. iii. cap. 3, sect. 27.]

[Footnote 103: In a letter to Aretino, dated Prato, Oct. 5, 1541, he
says he had been ill for eleven years. It seems probable that his
illness was of the kind alluded to in his _Capitolo_ "In Lode del
Legno Santo" (_Op. Volg._ iv. p. 204).]

[Footnote 104: _Op._ ii. pp. 94, 130.]

[Footnote 105: For example, _Nov._ iv. is the same as Bandello's II.
xx.; _Nov._ vii. is the same as Il Lasca's ii. 10. and Fortina's xiv.]

Firenzuola prefaced his novels with an elaborate introduction,
describing the meeting of some friends at Celso's villa near
Pazolatico, and their discourse on love.[106] From discussion they
pass to telling amorous stories under the guidance of a Queen selected
by the company.[107] The introductory conversation is full of a
dreamy, sensualized, disintegrated Platonism. It parades conventional
distinctions between earthly and heavenly love, between the beauty of
the soul and the beauty of the body; and then we pass without
modulation into the region of what is here called _accidenti amorosi_.
The same insincere Platonism gives color to Firenzuola's discourse on
the Beauty of Women--one of the most important productions of the
sixteenth century in illustration of popular and artistic taste.[108]
The author imagines himself to have interrupted a bevy of fair ladies
from Prato in the midst of a dispute about the beauty of Mona Amelia
della Torre Nuova. Mona Amelia herself was present; and so were Mona
Lampiada, Mona Amorrorisca, Mona Selvaggia, and Mona Verdespina.[109]
Under these names it is clear that living persons of the town of Prato
are designated; and all the examples of beauty given in the dialogue
are chosen from well-known women of the district. The composition must
therefore be reckoned as an elaborate compliment from Firenzuola to
the fair sex of Prato.[110] Celso begins his exposition of beauty by
declaring that "it is God's highest gift to human nature, inasmuch as
by its virtue we direct our soul to contemplation, and through
contemplation to the desire of heavenly things."[111] He then proceeds
to define beauty as "an ordered concord, or, as it were, a harmony
inscrutably resulting from the composition, union, and commission of
divers members, each of which shall in itself be well proportioned and
in a certain sense beautiful, but which, before they combine to make
one body, shall be different and discrepant among themselves."[112]
Having explained each clause of this definition, he passes to the
appetite for beauty, and tells the myth invented for Aristophanes in
Plato's _Symposium_. This leads by natural transitions to the real
business of the dialogue, which consists in analyzing and defining
every kind of loveliness in women, and minutely describing the
proportions, qualities, and colors of each portion of the female body.
The whole is carried through with the method of a philosopher, the
enthusiasm of an artist, and the refinement of a well-bred gentleman.
The articles upon _Leggiadria_, _Grazia_, _Vaghezza_, _Venustà_,
_Aria_, _Maestà_, may even now be read with profit by those who desire
to comprehend the nice gradations of meaning implied by these
terms.[113] The discourses on the form and color of the ear, and on
the proper way of wearing ornamental flowers, bring incomparably
graceful images before us[114]; and this, indeed, can be said about
the whole dialogue, for there is hardly a sentence that does not
reveal the delicate perceptions of an artistic nature.

[Footnote 106: Vol ii. p. 28. The poem put into Celso's mouth, p. 39,
is clearly autobiographical.]

[Footnote 107: There is the usual reference to Boccaccio, at p. 32. I
may take this occasion for citing an allusion to Boccaccio from the
Introduction to _Le Cene_, which shows how truly he was recognized as
the patron saint of novelists. See _Le Cene_ (Firenze, Lemonnier,
1857), p. 4.]

[Footnote 108: Vol. i. pp. 1-97. I may here allude to a still more
copious and detailed treatise on the same theme by Federigo Luigino of
Udine: _Il Libro della Bella Donna_, Milano, Daelli, 1863; a reprint
from the Venetian edition of 1554. This book is a symphony of grateful
images and delicately chosen phrases; it is a dithyramb in praise of
feminine beauty, which owes its charm to the intense sympathy, sensual
and æsthetic, of the author for his subject.]

[Footnote 109: Selvaggia was the lady of Firenzuola's _Rime_.]

[Footnote 110: See the _Elegia alle Donne Pratesi_, vol. iv. p. 41.]

[Footnote 111: Vol. i. p. 16. Compare the extraordinary paragraph
about female beauty being an earnest of the beauties of Paradise (pp.
31, 32).]

[Footnote 112: _Ibid._ p. 21.]

[Footnote 113: _Ibid._ pp. 51-62.]

[Footnote 114: Vol. i. pp. 75-80.]

Firenzuola's adaptation of the _Golden Ass_ may be reckoned among the
triumphs of his style, and the fables contained in his _Discorsi degli
Animali_ are so many minutely finished novelettes.[115] Both of these
works belong to the proper subject of the present chapter. His
comedies and his burlesque poems must be left for discussion under
different headings. With regard to his serious verses, addressed to
Mona Selvaggia, it will be enough to say that they are modeled upon
Petrarch. Though limpid in style and musical, as all Firenzuola's
writing never failed to be, they ring hollow. The true note of the
man's feeling was sensual. The highest point it reached was the
admiration for plastic beauty expressed in his dialogue on women. It
had nothing in common with Petrarch's melancholy. Of these minor poems
I admire the little ballad beginning _O rozza pastorella_, and the
wonderfully lucid version of Poliziano's _Violæ--O Viole formose, o
dolci viole_--more than any others.[116]

[Footnote 115: Vol. iii. The _Golden Ass_ begins with an autobiography
(vol. i. p. 103).]

[Footnote 116: Vol. iv. pp. 19, 76.]

Except for the long illness which brought him to Prato, Firenzuola
appears to have spent a happy and mirthful life; and if we may trust
his introduction to the Novels, he was fairly wealthy. What we know
about the biography of Antonfrancesco Doni, who also deserves a place
among the Tuscan novelists, presents a striking contrast to this
luxurious and amorous existence.[117] He was a Florentine, and, like
Firenzuola, dedicated to religion. Born in 1513, he entered the
Servite order in the cloister of the Annunziata. He began by teaching
the boys intrusted to the monks for education. But about 1540 he was
obliged to fly the monastery under the cloud of some grave charge
connected with his pupils.[118] Doni turned his back on Florence; and
after wandering from town to town in Northern Italy, settled at last
in 1542 at Piacenza, where he seems for a short while to have applied
himself with an unwilling mind to law-studies. At Piacenza he made the
acquaintance of Lodovico Domenichi, who introduced him into the
Accademia Ortolana. This was a semi-literary club of profligates with
the Priapic emblems for its ensign. Doni's wild and capricious humor
made him a chief ornament of the society; but the members so
misconducted themselves in word and deed that it was soon found
necessary to suppress their meetings. While amusing himself with
poetry and music among his boon companions, Doni was on the lookout
for a place at Court or in the household of a wealthy nobleman. His
letters at this period show that he was willing to become anything
from poet or musician down to fool or something worse. Failing in all
his applications, he at last resolved to make what gains he could by
literature. His friend Domenichi had already settled at Venice, when
Doni joined him there in 1544. But his stay was of brief duration. We
find him again at Piacenza, next at Rome, and then at Florence, where
he established a printing-press. The principal event of this
Florentine residence was a definite rupture with Domenichi. We do not
know the causes of their quarrel; but both of them were such scamps
that it is probable they took good care, while abusing one another in
general terms, to guard the secrets of their respective crimes. During
the rest of Doni's life he pursued his old friend with relentless
animosity. His invectives deserve to be compared with those of the
humanists in the preceding century; while Domenichi, who had succeeded
in securing a position for himself at Florence, replied with no less
hostility in the tone of injured virtue.

[Footnote 117: My principal authority is Doni's Life by S. Bongi
prefixed to an edition of the _Novelle_, 1851, and reprinted in
Fanfani's edition of _I Marmi_, Florence, 1863.]

[Footnote 118: See Zilioli, quoted by Bongi, _I Marmi_, vol. i. p.

In 1547 Doni settled finally at Venice. The city of the lagoons was
the only safe resort for a man who had offended the Church by
abandoning his vows, and whose life and writings were a scandal even
in that age of license. Everywhere else he would have been exposed to
peril from the Inquisition. Though he had dropped the cowl, he could
not throw aside the cassock, and his condition as priest proved not
only irksome but perilous.[119] At Venice he lived a singular Bohemian
existence, inhabiting a garret which overlooked one of the noisiest of
the small canals, and scribbling for his daily bread. He was a rapid
and prolific writer, sending his copy to the press before it was dry,
and never caring for revision. To gain money was the sole object of
his labors. The versatility of his mind and his peculiar humor made
his miscellanies popular; and like Aretino he wheedled or menaced
ducats out of patrons. Indeed, Doni's life at Venice is the proper
pendent to Aretino's, who was once his friend and afterwards his
bitter foe. But while Aretino contrived to live like a prince, Doni,
for many years at any rate, endured the miseries of Grub Street. They
quarreled about a present which the Duke of Urbino had promised Doni
through his secretary. Aretino thought that this meant poaching on his
manors. Accordingly he threatened his comrade with a thorough literary
scourging. Doni replied by a pamphlet with this singular title:
"Terremoto del Doni fiorentino, con la rovina d'un gran Colosso
bestiale Antichristo della nostra età." His capricious nature and
bizarre passions made Doni a bad friend; but he was an incomparably
amusing companion. Accordingly we find that his society was sought by
the literary circles of all cities where he lived. At Florence he had
been appointed secretary to the Umidi. At Venice he became a member of
the Pellegrini. This academy was founded before the League of Cambrai
in a deserted villa near the lagoons.[120] Mystery hung over its
origin and continued to involve its objects. Several wealthy noblemen
of Venice supplied the club with ample funds. They had a good library,
and employed two presses for the printing of their works. The members
formed a kind of masonic body, bound together by strict mutual
obligations, and sworn to maintain each other in peril or in want.
They also exercised generosity toward needy men of letters, dowered
poor girls, and practiced many charities of a similar description.
Their meetings took place in certain gardens at Murano or on the
island of S. Giorgio Maggiore. The two Sansovini, Nardi, Titian,
Dolce, and other eminent men belonged to the society; but Doni appears
to have been its moving spirit on all occasions of convivial

[Footnote 119: How Doni hated his orders may be gathered from these
extracts: "La bestial cosa che sia sopportare quattro corna in capo
senza belare unquanco. Io ho un capriccio di farmi scomunicare per non
cantare più _Domine labia_, e spretarmi per non essere a noia a tutte
le persone." "L'esser colla chierica puzza a tutti." His chief
grievance was that he had made no money out of the Church.]

[Footnote 120: The greater part of what we know about the Pellegrini
occurs in Doni's _I Marmi_. See also a memoir by Giaxich, and the
notices in Mutinelli's _Diari Urbani_.]

The last years of this Bohemian life were spent beneath the Euganean
hills in a square castle, which, picturesquely draped with ivy, may
still be seen towering above Monselice. That Doni had accumulated some
capital by his incessant scribbling, is proved by the fact that he
laid out the grounds about his fortress with considerable luxury. A
passage quoted from the Venetian Zilioli serves to bring the man more
vividly before us: "At the summit of the hill above Monselice stands
the house where Antonfrancesco Doni indulged his leisure with
philosophy and poetry. He was a man of bizarre humor, who had but
little patience with his neighbors. Retiring from society, he chose
this abode in order to give full scope in his own way and without
regard for any one to his caprices, which were often very ludicrous.
Who could have refrained from laughter, when he saw a man of mature
age, with a beard down to his breast, going abroad at night barefooted
and in his shirt, careering among the fields, singing his own songs
and those of other poets; or else in daytime playing on a lute and
dancing like a little boy?" Doni died at Venice in the autumn of 1574.

Doni's _Novelle_ are rather detached scenes of life than stories with
a plot or theme. Glowing and picturesque in style, sharply outlined,
and smartly told, they have the point of epigrams. The fourth of the
series might be chosen to illustrate the extravagant efforts after
effect made by the Italian novelist with a view to stimulating the
attention of his audience. It is a tale of two mortal enemies, one of
whom kills the father and the brother of his foe. The injured man
challenges and conquers him in single combat, when, having the ruffian
at his mercy, he raises him from the ground, pardons him, and makes
him his bosom friend. Likelihood and moral propriety are sacrificed in
order that the _Novella_ may end with a surprise.

Doni's _Novelle_, taken by themselves, would scarcely have justified
the space allotted to him in this chapter. His biography has, however,
the importance attaching to the history of a representative man, for
much of the literature of amusement in the sixteenth century was
supplied by Bohemians of Doni's type. To give a complete account of
his miscellaneous works would be out of the question. Besides
treatises on music and the arts of design and a catalogue of Italian
books, which might be valuable if the author had not used it as a
vehicle for his literary animosities, he published letters and poems,
collections of proverbs and short tales under the title of _La Zucca_,
dialogues and dissertations on various topics with the name of _I
Mondi_, an essay on moral philosophy, an edition of Burchiello's poems
illustrated by notes more difficult to understand than the text, an
explanation of the Apocalypse proving Luther to be Antichrist, a libel
upon Aretino, two commonplace books of sentences and maxims styled _I
Cancellieri_, a work on villa-building, a series of imaginary
pictures, a comedy called _Lo Stufaiuolo_, and many others which it
would be tedious to catalogue. It is not probable that any one has
made a thorough study of Doni's writings; but those who know them
best, report that they are all marked by the same sallies of
capricious humor and wild fancy.[121]

[Footnote 121: Those I am acquainted with are _I Marmi_, _I Mondi_,
_Lo Stufaiuolo_, the _Novelle_, and two little burlesque caprices in
prose, _La Mula_ and _La Chiave_.]

A glance at the _Marmi_ will suffice to illustrate Doni's method in
these miscellanies.[122] In his preface to the reader he says it often
happens that, awaked from sleep, he spends the night-hours in thinking
of himself and of his neighbors--"not, however, as the common folk do,
nor like men of learning, but following the whimsies of a teeming
brain. I am at home, you see. I fly aloft into the air, above some
city, and believe myself to be a huge bird, monstrous, monstrous,
piercing with keen sight to everything that's going on below; and in
the twinkling of an eye, the roofs fly off, and I behold each man,
each woman at their several affairs. One is at home and weeping,
another laughing; one giving birth to children, one begetting; this
man reading, that man writing; one eating, another praying. One is
scolding his household, another playing; and see, yon fellow has
fallen starved to earth, while that one vomits his superfluous food!
What contrasts are there in one single city, at one single moment!
Then I pass from land to land, and notice divers customs, with variety
of speech and converse. In Naples, for example, the gentry are wont to
ride abroad and take the evening freshness. In Rome they haunt cool
vineyards, or seek their pleasure by artificial fountains. In Venice
they roam the canals in dainty gondolas, or sweep the salt lagoons,
with music, women, and such delights, putting to flight the day's
annoyances and heat. But above all other pleasures in the cool,
methinks the Florentines do best. Their way is this. They have the
square of Santa Liberata, midway between the ancient shrine of Mars,
now San Giovanni, and the marvelous modern Duomo. They have, I say,
certain stairs of marble, and the topmost stair leads to a large
space, where the young men come to rest in those great heats, seeing
that a most refreshing wind is always blowing there, and a delicious
breeze, and, besides, the fair white marbles for the most part keep
their freshness. It is there I find my best amusements; for, as I sail
through the air, invisibly I settle, soaring over them; and hear and
see their talk and doings. And forasmuch as they are all fine wits and
comely, they have a thousand lovely things to say--novels, stratagems
and fables; they tell of intrigues, stories, jokes, tricks played off
on men and women--all things sprightly, noble, noteworthy and fit for
gentle ears." Such is the exordium. What follows, consists of
conversations, held at night upon these marble slabs by citizens of
Florence. The dialogue is lively; the pictures tersely etched; the
language racy; the matter almost always worthy of attention. One
sustained dialogue on printing is particularly interesting, since it
involves a review of contemporary literature from the standpoint of
one who was himself exclusively employed in hack production for the
press.[123] The whole book, however, abounds in excellent criticism
and clever hints. "See what the world is coming to," says one of the
speakers, "when no one can read anything, full though it be of
learning and goodness, without flinging it away at the end of three
words! More artifice than patience goes nowadays to the writing of a
book; more racking the brains to invent some whimsical title, which
makes one take it up and read a word or two, than the composition of
the whole book demands. Just try and tell people to touch a volume
labeled _Doctrine of Good Living_ or _The Spiritual Life_! God
preserve you! Put upon the title page _An Invective against an Honest
Man_, or _New Pasquinade_, or _Pimps Expounded_, or _The Whore Lost_,
and all the world will grab at it. If our Gelli, when he wanted to
teach a thousand fine things, full of philosophy and useful to a
Christian, had not called them _The Cobbler's Caprices_, there's not a
soul would have so much as touched them. Had he christened his book
_Instructions in Civil Conduct_ or _Divine Discourses_, it must have
fallen stillborn; but that _Cobbler_, those _Caprices_ make every one
cry out: 'I'll see what sort of balderdash it is!'"

[Footnote 122: _I Marmi_, per Fanfani e Bongi, Firenze, Barbèra, 1863,
2 vols.]

[Footnote 123: Parte ii. "Della Stampa."]

One might fancy that this passage had been written to satirize our own
times rather than the sixteenth century. More than enough, however,
remains from the popular literature of Doni's days to illustrate his
observation. We have already seen how ingeniously he titillated public
curiosity in the title of his invective against Aretino. "_The
Earthquake of Doni, the Florentine, with the Ruin of a Great Bestial
Colossus, the Antichrist of our Age_," is worthy to take rank among
the most capricious pamphlets of the English Commonwealth. Meanwhile
the Venetian press kept pouring out stores of miscellaneous
information under bizarre titles; such as the _Piazza_, which
described all sorts of trades, including the most infamous, and _Il
Perchè_, which was a kind of vulgar cyclopædia, with special reference
to physiology. Manuals of domestic medicine or directions for the
toilette, like the curious _Comare_ on obstetrics, and Marinello's
interesting _Ornamenti delle Donne_; eccentricities in the style of
the _Hospidale de' Pazzi_ or the _Sinagoga degli Ignoranti_; might be
cited through a dozen pages. It is impossible to do justice to this
undergrowth of literature, which testifies to the extent of the
plebeian reading public in Italy.

The Novelists of Siena form a separate group, and are distinguished by
a certain air of delicate voluptuous grace.[124] Siena, though it
wears so pensive an aspect now, was famous in the middle ages for the
refinements of sensuality. It was here that the _godereccia brigata_,
condemned to Hell by Dante, spent their substance in gay living.
Folgore da San Gemignano's pleasure-seeking Company was Sienese.
Beccadelli called the city _molles Senæ_, and Æneas Sylvius dedicated
her groves and palaces to Venus--the Venus who appeared in dreams to
Gentile Sermini.[125] The impress of luxury is stamped upon the works
of her best novelists. They blend the _morbidezza_ of the senses with
a rare feeling for natural and artistic beauty. Descriptions of
banquets and gardens, fountains and wayside thickets, form a
delightful background to the never-ending festival of love. We wander
through pleasant bypaths of Tuscan country, abloom in spring with
acacia trees and resonant with song-birds. Though indescribably
licentious, these novelists are rarely coarse or vulgar. There is no
Florentine blackguardism, no acerbity of scorn or stain of blood-lust
on their pages. They are humorous; but they do not season humor with
cruelty. Their tales, for the most part, are the lunes of wanton love,
day-dreams of erotic fancy, a free debauch of images, now laughable,
now lewd, but all provocative of sensual desire. At the same time,
their delight in landscape-painting, combined with a certain
refinement of æsthetic taste, saves them from the brutalities of lust.

[Footnote 124: _Novelle di Autori Senesi_, edited by Gaetano Poggiali,
Londra (Livorno), 1796. This collection, reprinted in the _Raccolta di
Novellieri Italiani_, Milano, 1815, vols. xiv. and xv., contains
Bernardo Illicini, Giustiniano Nelli, Scipione Bargagli, Gentile
Sermini, Pietro Fortini, and others. Of Sermini's _Novelle_ a complete
edition appeared in 1874 at Livorno, from the press of Francesco Vigo;
and to this the student should now go. Romagnoli of Bologna in 1877
published three hitherto inedited novels of Fortini, together with the
rubrics of all those which have not yet been printed. Their titles
enable us to comprehend the scruples which prevented Poggiali from
issuing the whole series.]

[Footnote 125: _Imbasciata di Venere_, Sermini, ed. cit. p. 117.]

The foregoing remarks apply in their fullest extension to Sermini and
Fortini. The best passages from the _Ars Amandi_ of these authors
admit of no quotation. Attention, may, however, be called to the
graphic description by Sermini of the Sienese boxing-matches.[126] It
is a masterpiece of vigorous dialogue and lively movement--a little
drama in epitome or profile, bringing the excitement of the champions
and their backers vividly before us by a series of exclamations and
ejaculated sentences. Fortini does not offer the same advantage to a
modest critic; yet his handling of a very comic situation in the
fourteenth _Novella_ may be conveniently compared with Firenzuola's
and Il Lasca's treatment of the same theme.[127] Those, too, who are
curious in such matters, may trace the correspondences between his
twelfth _Novella_ and many similar subjects in the _Cent nouvelles
Nouvelles_. The common material of a _fabliau_ is here Italianized
with an exquisite sense of plastic and landscape beauty; and the crude
obscenity of the _motif_ craves pardon for the sake of its rare

[Footnote 126: _Il Giuoco della pugna_, Sermini, ed. cit. p. 105.]

[Footnote 127: See _Le Cene_, pt. ii. _Nov._ 10, and Firenzuola's
seventh _Novella_.]

Bargagli's tales are less offensive to modern notions of propriety
than either Sermini's or Fortini's. They do not detach themselves from
the average of such compositions by any peculiarly Sienese quality.
But his _Trattenimenti_ are valuable for their introduction, which
consists of a minute and pathetically simple narrative of the
sufferings sustained by the Sienese during the siege of 1553.
Boccaccio's description of the Plague at Florence was in Bargagli's
mind, when he made this unaffected record of a city's agony the
frontispiece to tales of mirth and passion. Though somewhat out of
place, it has the interest which belongs to the faithful history of an

One beautiful story, borrowed from the annals of their own city, was
treated by the two Sienese novelists, Illicini and Sermini. The palm
of excellence, however, must be awarded to the elder of these authors.
Of Bernardo Lapini, surnamed Illicini or Ollicino, very little is
known, except that he served both Gian Galeazzo Visconti and Borso da
Este in the capacity of physician, and composed a commentary on the
_Trionfi_ of Petrarch. His _Novella_ opens with a conversation between
certain noble ladies of Siena, who agreed that the three most eminent
virtues of a generous nature are courtesy, gratitude, and liberality.
An ancient dame, who kept them company on that occasion, offered to
relate a tale, which should illustrate these qualities and raise
certain fine questions concerning their exercise in actual life. The
two Sienese families De' Salimbeni and De' Montanini had long been on
terms of coldness; and though their ancient feuds were passing into
oblivion, no treaty of peace had yet been ratified between their
houses, when Anselmo Salimbeni fell deeply in love with Angelica the
only sister of Carlo Montanini. Anselmo was wealthy; but to Carlo and
his sister there only remained, of their vast ancestral possessions,
one small estate, where they lived together in retirement. Delicacy
thus prevented the rich Anselmo from declaring his affection, until an
event happened which placed it in his power to be of signal service to
the Montanini. A prosperous member of the Sienese government desired
to purchase Carlo's house at the price of one thousand ducats. Carlo
refused to sell this estate, seeing it was his sister's only support
and future source of dowry. Thereupon the powerful man of state
accused him falsely of treason to the commonwealth. He was cast into
prison and condemned to death or the forfeit of one thousand ducats.
Anselmo, the very night before Carlo's threatened execution, paid this
fine, and sent the deed of release by the hands of a servant to the
prison. When Carlo was once more at liberty, he made inquiries which
proved beyond doubt that Anselmo, a man unknown to him, the member of
a house at ancient feud with his, had done him this great courtesy. It
then rushed across his mind that certain acts and gestures of Anselmo
betrayed a secret liking for Angelica. This decided him upon the
course he had to take. Having communicated the plan to his sister, he
went alone with her at night to Salimbeni's castle, and, when he had
expressed his gratitude, there left her in her lover's power, as the
most precious thing he could bestow upon the saviour of his life.
Anselmo, not to be surpassed in this exchange of courtesies, delivered
Angelica to the women of his household, and afterwards, attended by
the train of his retainers, sought Carlo in his home. There he made a
public statement of what had passed between them, wedded Angelica with
three rings, dowered her with the half of his estates, and by a formal
deed of gift assigned the residue of his fortune to Carlo. This is a
bare outline of the story, which Illicini has adorned in all its
details with subtle analyses of feeling and reflections on the several
situations. The problem proposed to the gentlewoman is to decide which
of the two men, Anselmo or Carlo, showed the more perfect courtesy in
their several circumstances. How they settled this knotty point, may
be left to the readers of _Novelle_ to discover.

Bandello more than adequately represents the Lombard group of
novelists; and since his works have been already discussed, it will
suffice to allude briefly to three collections which in their day were
highly popular. These are _I Proverbi_ of Antonio Cornazano, _Le
Piacevoli Notti_ of Straparola, and Giraldi's _Hecatommithi_.[128]
Cornazano was a copious writer both in Latin and Italian. He passed
his life at the Courts of Francesco Sforza, Bartolommeo Colleoni, and
Ercole I. of Ferrara. One of his earliest compositions was a Life of
Christ. This fact is not insignificant, as a sign of the conditions
under which literature was produced in the Renaissance. A man who had
gained reputation by a learned or religious treatise, ventured to
extend it by jests of the broadest humor. The _Proverbi_, by which
alone Cornazano's name is now distinguished, are sixteen
carefully-wrought stories, very droll but very dirty. Each illustrates
a common proverb, and pretends to relate the circumstances which gave
it currency. The author opens one tale with a simple statement: "From
the deserts of the Thebaid came to us that trite and much used saying,
_Better late than never_; and this was how it happened." Having stated
the theme, he enters on his narrative, diverts attention by a series
of absurdities which lead to an unexpected climax. He concludes it
thus: "The abbot answered: 'It is not this which makes me weep, but to
think of my misfortune, who have been so long without discovering and
commending so excellent an usage.' 'Father,' said the monk, '_Better
late than never_.'" There is considerable comic vigor in the working
of this motive. Our sense of the ridiculous is stimulated by a studied
disproportion between the universality of the proverb and the
strangeness of the incidents invented to account for it.

[Footnote 128: None of them are included in the Milanese _Novellieri
Italiani_. The editions I shall use are _Proverbii di Messer Antonio
Cornazano in Facetie_, Bologna, Romagnoli, 1865; _Le Piacevoli Notti_,
in Vinegia per Comin da Trino di Monferrato, MDLI.; _Gli Hecatommithi
di M. Giovanbattista Giraldi Cinthio, Nobile Ferrarese_, in Vinegia,
MDLXVI., Girolamo Scotto, 2 vols.]

Straparola breaks ground in a different direction. The majority of his
novels bear traces of their origin in fairy stories or _Volksmärchen_.
Much interest attaches to the _Notti Piacevoli_, as the literary
reproduction of a popular species which the Venetian Gozzi afterwards
rendered famous. Students of folk-lore may compare them with the
Sicilian fables recently committed to the press by Signor Pitrè.[129]
The element of bizarre fancy is remarkable in all these tales; but the
marvelous has been so mingled with the facts of common life as to give
each narrative the true air of the conventional _Novella_. One in
particular may be mentioned, since it is written on the same motive as
Machiavelli's _Belphegor_. The rubric runs as follows: "The Devil,
hearing the complaints of husbands against their wives, marries Silvia
Ballastro, and takes Gasparino Boncio for gossip of the ring, and
forasmuch as he finds it impossible to live with his wife, enters into
the body of the Duke of Melphi, and Gasparino, his gossip, expels him
thence." Between Straparola's and Machiavelli's treatment of this
subject, the resemblance is so close as to justify the opinion that
the former tale was simply modeled on the latter, or that both were
drawn from an original source. In each case it is the wife's pride
which renders life unendurable to her demon husband, and in both he is
expelled from the possessed person by mistaking a brass band in full
play for the approach of his tumultuous consort. But Straparola's
loose and careless style of narrative bears no comparison with the
caustic satire of Machiavelli's meditated art.[130] The same theme was
treated in Italian by Giovanni Brevio; and since Machiavelli's novel
first appeared in print in the year 1549, Straparola's seeing the
light in 1550, and Brevio's in 1545, we may reasonably conclude that
each version was an adaptation of some primitive monastic story.[131]

[Footnote 129: _Fiabe, Novelle, Racconti_, Palermo, Lauriel, 1875, 4
vols. I may here take occasion to notice that one _Novella_ by the
Conte Lorenzo Magalotti (_Nov. It._ vol. xiii. p. 362), is the story
of Whittington and his Cat, told of a certain Florentine, Ansaldo
degli Ormanni, and the King of the Canary Islands.]

[Footnote 130: John Wilson's play of _Belphegor_, Dekker's _If it be
not good the Divel is in it_, and Ben Jonson's _The Devil is an Ass_,
were more or less founded on Machiavelli's and Straparola's novels.]

[Footnote 131: Dunlop in his _History of Fiction_, vol. ii. p. 411,
speaks of a Latin MS. preserved in the library of S. Martin at Tours
which contained the tale, but he also says that it was lost at "the
period of the civil wars in France."]

On the score of style alone, it would be difficult to explain the
widespread popularity of Giraldi Cinthio's one hundred and ten
tales.[132] The _Hecatommithi_ are written in a lumbering manner, and
the stories are often lifeless. Compared with the brilliancy of the
Tuscan _Novelle_, the point and sparkle of _Le Cene_, the grace and
gusto of Sermini, or Firenzuola's golden fluency, the diction of this
noble Ferrarese is dull. Yet the _Hecatommithi_ were reprinted again
and again and translated into several languages. In England, through
Painter's _Palace of Pleasure_, they obtained wide circulation and
supplied our best dramatists, including Shakspere and Fletcher, with
hints for plays. It is probable that they owed their fame in no small
measure to what we reckon their defects. Giraldi's language was more
intelligible to ordinary readers of Italian than the racy Tuscan of
the Sienese authors. His stories had less of a purely local flavor
than those of the Florentines. They enjoyed, moreover, the singular
advantage of diffusion through the press of Venice, which then
commanded the book-market of Europe. But, if we put this point of
style aside, the vogue of Cinthio in Italy and Europe becomes at once
intelligible. There is a massive force and volume in his matter, which
proclaims him an author to be reckoned with. The variety of scenes he
represents, the tragic gravity of many of his motives, his intimate
acquaintance with the manners and customs of a class that never fails
to interest the vulgar, combined with great sagacity in selecting and
multiplying instances of striking crime, stood him in the stead of
finer art with the special public for whom _Novelle_ were
composed.[133] Compared even with Boccaccio, the prince of
story-tellers, Cinthio holds his own, not as a great dramatic or
descriptive writer but as one who has studied, analyzed, dissected,
and digested the material of human action and passion in a vast
variety of modes. His work is more solid and reflective than
Bandello's; more moralized than Il Lasca's. The ethical tendency both
of the tales and the discussions they occasion, is, for the most part,
singularly wholesome. In spite, therefore, of the almost revolting
frankness with which impurity, fraud, cruelty, violence, and bestial
lust are exposed to view, one rises from the perusal of the
_Hecatommithi_ with an unimpaired consciousness of good and evil. It
is just the negation of this conscience which renders the mass of
Italian _Novelle_ worse than unprofitable.

[Footnote 132: The title leads us to expect one hundred tales; but
counting the ten of the Introduction, there are one hundred and ten.
When the book first circulated, it contained but seventy. The first
edition is that of Monte Regale in Sicily, 1565. My copy of the
Venetian edition of 1566 is complete.]

[Footnote 133: The ten novels of the Introduction deal exclusively
with the manners of Italian prostitutes. Placed as a frontispiece to
the whole repertory, they seem intended to attract the vulgar reader.]

The plan of the _Hecatommithi_ deserves a passing notice, if only
because it illustrates the more than ordinary force of brain which
Cinthio brought to bear upon his light material. He begins with an
elaborate description of the Sack of Rome. A party of men and women
take refuge from its horrors of rape, pestilence and tortures in one
of the Colonna palaces. When affairs have been proved desperate, they
set sail from Cività Vecchia for Marseilles, and enliven their voyage
with story-telling. A man of mature years opens the discussion with a
long panegyric of wedded love, serving as introduction to the tales
which treat of illicit passion. From this first day's debate the women
of the party are absent. They intervene next day, and upon this and
the following nine days one hundred stories are related by different
members of the party upon subjects selected for illustration. Each
novel is followed by a copious commentary in the form of dialogue, and
songs are interspersed. Cinthio thus adhered, as closely as possible,
to the model furnished by Boccaccio. But his framework, though
ingeniously put together, lacks the grace and sweetness of the
Decameron. Not a few of the novels are founded upon facts of history.
In the tenth tale of the ninth decade, for example, he repeats the
legend of the Borgia family--the murder of the Duke of Gandia,
Alexander's death by poison, and Cesare's escape. The names are
changed; but the facts, as related by Guicciardini, can be clearly
discerned through the transparent veil of fiction.

In concluding this chapter on the _Novelle_, it may be repeated that
the species of narrative in question was, in its ultimate development,
a peculiar Italian product. Originally derived through the French
_fabliaux_ from medieval Latin stories, the _Novella_ received in
Italy more serious and more artistic treatment. It satisfied the
craving of the race for such delineation of life and manners as a
great literature demands; and it did this for reasons which will be
explained in the next chapter, with more originality, more adequacy to
the special qualities of the Italian people, than even their comedies.
What De Quincey wrote concerning our theater in the age of Elizabeth
and James, might almost be applied to the material which the
_Novellieri_ used: "No literature, not excepting even that of Athens,
has ever presented such a multiform theater, such a carnival display,
mask and anti-mask of impassioned life--breathing, moving, acting,
suffering, laughing:

    "Quicquid agunt homines--votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
    Gaudia, discursus."

But, when we quit material to think of form, the parallel fails. De
Quincey's further description of our dramas, "scenically grouped,
draped, and gorgeously colored," is highly inapplicable to the brief,
careless, almost pedestrian prose of the _Novelle_. In spite of their
indescribable wealth of subject-matter, in spite of those
inexhaustible stores of plots and situations, characters and motives,
which have made them a mine for playwrights in succeeding ages, they
rarely rise to the height of poetry, nor are they ever dramas. The
artistic limitations of the Italian _Novelle_ are among the most
interesting phenomena presented by the history of literature.



     First attempts at Secular Drama--The _Orfeo_ and
     _Timone_--General Character of Italian Plays--Court Pageants
     and Comedies borrowed from the Latin--Conditions under which
     a National Drama is formed--Their absence in Italy--Lack of
     Tragic Genius--Eminently Tragic Material in Italian
     History--The Use made of this by English Playwrights--The
     Ballad and the Drama--The Humanistic Bias in
     Italy--Parallels between Greek and Italian Life--Il Lasca's
     Critique of the Latinizing Playwrights--The _Sofonisba_ of
     Trissino--Rucellai's _Rosmunda_--Sperone's
     _Canace_--Giraldi's _Orbecche_--Dolce's
     _Marianna_--Transcripts from the Greek Tragedians and
     Seneca--General Character of Italian Tragedies--Sources of
     their Failure--Influence of Plautus and Terence over
     Comedy--Latin Comedies acted at Florence, Rome,
     Ferrara--Translations of Latin Comedies--Manner of
     Representation at Court--Want of Permanent
     Theaters--Bibbiena's _Calandra_--Leo X. and Comedy at
     Rome--Ariosto's Treatment of his Latin Models--The
     _Cassaria_, _Suppositi_, _Lena_, _Negromante_,
     _Scolastica_--Qualities of Ariosto's Comedies--Machiavelli's
     Plays--The _Commedia in Prosa_--Fra Alberigo and
     Margherita--The _Clizia_--Its Humor--The _Mandragola_--Its
     sinister Philosophy--Conditions under which it was
     Composed--Aretino disengages Comedy from Latin Rules--His
     Point of View--The _Cortegiana_, _Marescalco_,
     _Talanta_--Italy had innumerable Comedies, but no great
     Comic Art--General Character of the _Commedia Erudita_--Its
     fixed Personages--Gelli, Firenzuola, Cecchi, Ambra, Il
     Lasca--The Farsa--Conclusion on the Moral Aspects of Italian

Contemporaneously with the Roman Epic, the Drama began to be a work of
studied art in Italy. Boiardo by his _Timone_ and Poliziano by his
_Orfeo_ gave the earliest specimens at Ferrara and Mantua of secular
plays written in the vulgar tongue. The _Timone_ must have been
composed before 1494, the date of Boiardo's death; and we have already
seen that the _Orfeo_ was in all probability represented in 1472. It
is significant that the two poets who were mainly instrumental in
effecting a revival of Italian poetry, should have tried their hands
at two species of composition for the stage. In the _Orfeo_ we find a
direct outgrowth from the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_. The form of the
Florentine religious show is adapted with very little alteration to a
pagan story. In substance the _Orfeo_ is a pastoral melodrama with a
tragic climax. Boiardo in the _Timone_ followed a different direction.
The subject is borrowed from Lucian, who speaks the prologue, as Gower
prologizes in the _Pericles_ of Shakspere. The comedy aims at
regularity of structure, and is written in _terza rima_. Yet the chief
character leaves the stage before the end of the fifth act, and the
conclusion is narrated by an allegorical personage, Lo Ausilio.[134]

[Footnote 134: "Comedia de Timone per el Magnifico Conte Matheo Maria
Boyardo Conte de Scandiano traducta de uno Dialogo de Luciano.
Stampata in Venetia per Georgio di Rusconi Milanese, del MDXVIII. adì
iii di Decembre." From the play itself we learn that it must have been
represented on a double stage, a lower one standing for earth and a
higher one for heaven. The first three acts consist chiefly of
soliloquies by Timon and conversations with celestial personages--Jove,
Mercury, Wealth, Poverty. In the fourth act we are introduced to
characters of Athenians--Gnatonide, Phylade, Demea, Trasycle, who
serve to bring Timone's misanthropy into relief; and the fifth act
brings two slaves, Syro and Parmeno, upon the scene, with a kind of
underplot which is not solved at the close of the play. The whole
piece must be regarded rather as a Morality than a Comedy, and the
characters are allegories or types more than living persons.]

These plays, though generally considered to have been the first
attempts at secular Italian dramatic poetry, were by no means the
earliest in date, if we admit the Latin plays of scholars.[135]
Besides some tragedies, which will afterwards be mentioned, it is
enough here to cite the _Philogenia_ of Ugolino Pisani (Parma, 1430),
the _Philodoxius_ of Alberti, the _Polissena_ of Leonardo Bruni, and
the _Progne_ of Gregorio Corrado. It is therefore a fact that, in
addition to religious dramas in the mother tongue, the Italians from
an early period turned their attention to dramatic composition. Still
the drama never flourished at any time in Italy as a form of poetry
indigenous and national. It did not succeed in freeing itself from
classical imitation on the one hand, or on the other from the
hampering adjuncts of Court-pageants and costly entertainments. Why
the Italians failed to develop a national theater, is a question
easier to ask than to answer. The attempt to solve this problem will,
however, serve to throw some light upon their intellectual conditions
at the height of the Renaissance.

[Footnote 135: To determine the question of priority in such matters
is neither easy nor important. Students who desire to follow the
gradual steps in the development of Italian play-writing before the
date of Ariosto and Machiavelli may be referred to D'Ancona's work on
the _Origini del Teatro_.]

Plays in Italy at this period were either religious _Feste_ of the
kind peculiar to Florence, or Masks at Court, or Comedies and
Tragedies imitated by men of learning from classical models, or,
lastly, Pastorals combining the scenic attractions of the Mask with
the action of a regular drama. None of these five species can be
called in a true sense popular; nor were they addressed by their
authors to the masses of the people. Performed in private by pious
confraternities or erudite academies, or exhibited on state occasions
in the halls of princely palaces, they were not an expression of the
national genius but a highly-cultivated form of aristocratic luxury.
When Heywood in his prologue to the _Challenge for Beauty_ wrote:

                Those [_i.e._ plays] that frequent are
    In Italy or France, _even in these days_,
    _Compared with ours_, are rather jigs than plays:

when Marlowe in the first scene of _Edward II._ made Gaveston,
thinking how he may divert the pleasure-loving king, exclaim:

    Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
    Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows:

both of these poets uttered a true criticism of the Italian theater.
Marlowe accurately describes the scenic exhibitions in vogue at the
Courts of Ferrara, Mantua, Urbino, and Rome, where the stage was
reckoned among the many instruments of wanton amusement. Heywood, by
his scornful phrase _jigs_, indicates their mixed nature between
comedies and ballets, with interludes of pageantry and accompaniment
of music. The words italicized show that the English playwrights were
conscious of having developed a nobler type of the drama than had been
produced in Italy. In order to complete the outline sketched by
Heywood and Marlowe, we must bear in mind that comedies adapted from
the Latin, like the _Suppositi_ of Ariosto, or constructed upon Latin
principles, like Machiavelli's _Mandragola_ or the _Calandra_ of
Bibbiena, were highly relished by a society educated in humanistic
traditions. Such efforts of the scholarly muse approved themselves
even in England to the taste of critics like Sir Philip Sidney, who
shows in his _Defense of Poesy_ that he had failed to discern the
future greatness of the national drama. But they had the fatal defect
of being imitations and exotics. The stage, however learnedly adorned
by men of scholarship and fancy, remained within the narrow sphere of
courtly pastime. What was a mere _hors d'oeuvre_ in the Elizabethan
age of England, formed the whole dramatic art of the Italians.

If tragedy and comedy sprang by a natural process of evolution from
the medieval Mystery, then the Florentines should have had a drama. We
have seen how rich in the elements of both species were the _Sacre
Rappresentazioni_; and how men of culture like Lorenzo de' Medici, and
Bernardo Pulci deigned to compose them. But the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_
died a natural death, and left no heritage. They had no vital relation
to the people, either as a source of amusement or as embodying the
real thoughts and passions of the race. Designed for the edification
of youth, their piety was too often hypocritical, and their
extravagant monastic morality stood in glaring opposition to the
ethics of society. We must go far deeper in our analysis, if we wish
to comprehend this failure of the Italians to produce a drama.

Three conditions, enjoyed by Greece and England, but denied to Italy,
seem necessary for the poetry of a nation to reach this final stage of
artistic development. The first is a free and sympathetic public, not
made up of courtiers and scholars, but of men of all classes--a public
representative of the whole nation, with whom the playwright shall
feel himself in close _rapport_. The second is, a center of social
life: an Athens, Paris or London: where the heart of the nation beats
and where its brain is ever active. The third is a perturbation of the
race in some great effort, like the Persian war or the struggle of the
Reformation, which unites the people in a common consciousness of
heroism. Taken in combination, these three conditions explain the
appearance of a drama fitted to express the very life and soul of a
puissant nation, with the temper of the times impressed upon it, but
with a truth and breadth that renders it the heritage of every race
and age. A national drama is the image created for itself in art by a
people which has arrived at knowledge of its power, at the enjoyment
of its faculties, after a period of successful action. Concentrated in
a capital, gifted with a common instrument of self-expression, it
projects itself in tragedies and comedies that bear the name of
individual poets, but are in reality the spirit of the race made

[Footnote 136: I have enlarged on these points in my Essay on
Euripides (_Greek Poets_, Series i.). I may take occasion here to say
that until Sept. 1879, after this chapter was written, I had not met
with Professor Hillebrand's _Études Italiennes_ (Paris, Franck,

These conditions have only twice in the world's history existed--once
in the Athens of Pericles, once in the London of Elizabeth. The
measure of greatness to which the dramas of Paris and Madrid, though
still not comparable with the Attic and the English, can lay claim, is
due to the participation by the French and Spanish peoples in these
privileges. But in Italy there was no public, no metropolis, no
agitation of the people in successful combat with antagonistic force.
The educated classes were, indeed, conscious of intellectual unity;
but they had no meeting-point in any city, where they might have
developed the theater upon the only principles then possible, the
principles of erudition. And, what was worse, there existed no
enthusiasms, moral, religious or political, from which a drama could
arise. A society without depth of thought or seriousness of passion,
highly cultured, but devoid of energy and aspiration, had not the seed
of tragedy within its loins. In those polite Italian Courts and
pleasure-seeking coteries, the idyl, the _Novella_, and the vision of
a golden age might entertain men weary with public calamities,
indulgent to the vice and crime around them. From this soil the
forest-trees of a great drama could not spring. But it yielded an
abundant crop of comedies, an undergrowth of rankly sprouting
vegetation. It was, moreover, well adapted to the one original
production of the Italian stage. Pastoral comedy, attaining perfection
in Tasso's _Aminta_ and Guarini's _Pastor Fido_, and bearing the germs
of the Opera in its voluptuous scenes, formed the climax of dramatic
art in Italy.

Independently of these external drawbacks, we find in the nature of
the Italian genius a reason why the drama never reached perfection.
Tragedy, which is the soul of great dramatic poetry, was almost
uniformly wanting after Dante. Petrarch, Boccaccio, Poliziano,
Boiardo, Ariosto, Tasso, are pathetic, graceful, polished, elevated,
touching, witty, humorous, reflective, radiant, inventive,
fanciful--everything but stern, impassioned, tragic in the true heroic
sense. Even the Florentines, who dallied sometimes with the thoughts
of Death and Judgment in bizarre pageants like the show of Hell
recorded by Villani, or the Mask of Penitence designed by Piero di
Cosimo, or the burlesque festivals recorded in the life of Rustici by
Giorgio Vasari--even the Florentines shrank in literature from what is
terrible and charged with anguish of the soul. The horrors of the
_Novelle_ are used by them to stimulate a jaded appetite, to point the
pleasures of the sense by contrast with the shambles and the
charnel-house. We are never invited to the spectacle of human energies
ravaged by passion, at war with destiny, yet superior to fate and
fortune and internal tempest in the strength of will and dignity of
heroism. It is not possible to imagine those _liete brigate_ of young
men and maidens responding to the fierce appeal of Marston's prologue:

                       Therefore we proclaim,
    If any spirit breathes within this round,
    Uncapable of weighty passion--
    As from his birth being huggéd in the arms
    And nuzzled twixt the breasts of happiness--
    Who winks, and shuts his apprehension up
    From common sense of what men were, and are,
    Who would not know what men must be; let such
    Hurry amain from our black-visaged shows:
    We shall affright their eyes. But if a breast
    Nailed to the earth with grief, if any heart
    Pierced through with anguish pant within this ring,
    If there be any blood whose heat is choked
    And stifled with true sense of misery,
    If aught of these strains fill this consort up,
    They arrive most welcome.

Sterner, and it may be gloomier conditions of external life than those
which the Italians enjoyed, were needed as a preparation of the public
for such spectacles. It was not on these aspects of human existence
that a race, accustomed to that genial climate and refined by the
contemplation of all-golden art, loved to dwell in hours of
recreation. The _Novella_, with its mixture of comedy and pathos,
license and satire, gave the tone, as we have seen, to literature. The
same quality of the Italian temperament may be illustrated from the
painting of the sixteenth century, which rarely rises to the height of
tragedy. If we except Michelangelo and Tintoretto, we find no masters
of sublime and fervid genius, able to conceive with intensity and to
express with force the thrilling moods of human passion. Raphael marks
the height pf national achievement, and even the more serious work of
Raphael found no adequate interpreters among his pupils.

The absence of the tragic element in Italian art and literature is all
the more remarkable because the essence of Italian history, whether
political or domestic, was eminently dramatic. When we consider what
the nation suffered during the civil wars of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, under the tyranny of monsters like Ezzelino,
from plagues that swept away the population of great cities, and
beneath the scourge of sinister religious revivals, it may well cause
wonder that the Italian spirit should not have assumed a stern and
tragic tone instead of that serenity and cheerfulness which from the
first distinguished it. The Italians lived their tragedies in the
dynasties of the Visconti and the Sforzas, in the contests of the
Baglioni and Manfredi, in the persons of Pandolfo Sigismondo Malatesta
and Cesare Borgia, in the murders, poisonings, rapes and treasons that
form the staple of the annals of their noble houses. But it was the
English and not the Italian poets who seized upon this tragic matter
and placed it with the light of poetry upon the stage.[137] Our
Elizabethan playwrights dramatized the legends of Othello and Juliet,
the loves of Bianca Capello and Vittoria Accoramboni, the tragedies of
the Duchess of Amalfi and the Duke of Milan. There is something even
appalling in the tenacity with which poets of the stamp of Marlowe,
Webster, Ford, Massinger and Tourneur clung to the episodes of blood
and treachery furnished by Italian stories. Their darkest delineations
of villainy, their subtlest analyses of evil motives, their most
audacious pictures of vice, are all contained within the charmed
circle of Italian history. A play could scarcely succeed in London
unless the characters were furnished with Italian names.[138] Italy
fascinated the Northern fancy, and the imagination of our dramatists
found itself at home among her scenes of mingled splendor and
atrocity. Nowhere, therefore, can a truer study of Italian
Court-intrigue be found than in the plays of Webster. His portraits,
it may be allowed, are painted without relief or due gradation of
tone. Flamineo and Bosola seem made to justify the proverb--_Inglese
Italianato è un diavolo incarnato_. Yet after reading the secret
history of the Borgias, or estimating the burden on Ferdinand's
conscience when he quaked before the French advance on Naples, who can
say that Webster has exaggerated the bare truth? He has but
intensified it by the incubation of his intellect. Varchi's account of
Lorenzino de' Medici, affecting profligacy and effeminacy in order to
deceive Duke Alessandro, and forming to his purpose the ruffian
Scoronconcolo from the dregs of the prisons, furnishes a complete
justification for even Tourneur's plots. The snare this traitor laid
for Alessandro, when he offered to bring his own aunt to the duke's
lust, bears a close resemblance to Vendice's scheme in the _Revenger's
Tragedy_; while the inconsequence of his action after the crime,
tallies with the moral collapse of Duke Ferdinand before his strangled
sister's corpse in the last act of the _Duchess of Malfi_.

[Footnote 137: Exception must be made in favor of some ancient
quasi-tragedies, which seem to prove that before the influences of
Boccaccio and the Renaissance had penetrated the nation, they were not
deficient in the impulse to dramatize history. The _Eccerinis_ of
Albertino Mussato (_c._ 1300), half dialogue and half narration, upon
the fate of Ezzellino da Romano, composed in the style of Seneca; the
dialogue upon the destruction of Cesena (1377) falsely attributed to
Petrarch; Giovanni Mangini della Motta's poem on the downfall of
Antonio della Scala (1387), Lodovico da Vezzano's tragedy of Jacopo
Piccinino; though far from popular in their character, and but
partially dramatic, were such as under happier auspices might have
fostered the beginnings of the tragic theater. Later on we hear of the
_Fall of Granada_ being represented before Cardinal Riario at Rome, as
well as the _Ferrandus Servatus_ of Carlo Verradi (1492).]

[Footnote 138: See the first cast of Jonson's _Every Man in his

The reality of these acted tragedies may have been a bar to their
mimic presentation on the stage in Italy. When the Borgias were
poisoning their victims in Rome; when Lodovico Sforza was compassing
his nephew's death at Pavia; when the Venetians were decapitating
Carmagnuola; when Sixtus was plotting the murder of the Medici in
church, and Grifonetto Baglioni was executing _il gran tradimento_;
could an Italian audience, in the Court or on the Piazza, have taken a
keen pleasure in witnessing the scenic presentment of barbarities so
close at hand? The sense of contrast between the world of fact and the
work of art, which forms an essential element of æsthetic pleasure,
would have been wanting. The poets turned from these crimes to comedy
and romance, though the politicians analyzed their motives with
impartial curiosity. At the same time, we may question whether the
Despots would have welcomed tragic shows which dramatized their deeds
of violence; whether they would have suffered the patriotism of
Brutus, the vengeance of Virginius, the plots of Catiline, or the
downfall of Sejanus to be displayed with spirit-stirring pomp in
theaters of Milan and Ferrara, when conspiracies like that of Olgaiti
were frequent. It was the freedom of the English public and the
self-restraint of the English character, in combination with the
profound appetite for tragic emotion inherent in our Northern blood,
which rendered the Shaksperian drama possible and acceptable.

In connection with this inaptitude of the Italians for tragedy, it is
worth noticing that their popular poetry exhibits but rare examples of
the ballad. It abounds in love ditties and lyrics of the inner life.
But references to history and the tragedies of noble families are
comparatively scarce.[139] In Great Britain, on the contrary, while
our popular poetry can show but few songs of sentiment, the Border and
Robin Hood ballads record events in national history or episodes from
actual domestic dramas, blent with the memories of old mythology.
These poems prove in the unknown minstrels who produced them, a
genuine appreciation of dramatic incident; and their manner is marked
by vigorous objectivity. The minstrel loses himself in his subject and
aims at creating in his audience a vivid sense of the action he has
undertaken to set forth. The race which could produce such ballads,
already contained the germs of Marlowe's tragedy. It would be
interesting to pursue this subject further, and by examining the
ballad-literature of the several European nations to trace how far the
capacities which in a rude state of society were directed to this type
of minstrelsy, found at a later period their true sphere of art in the

[Footnote 139: See above, Part I, p. 276, where one ballad of the
Border type is discussed.]

[Footnote 140: It is certainly significant that the Spanish share with
the English the chief honors both of the ballad and the drama. The
Scandinavian nations, rich in ballads, have been, through Danish
poets, successful in dramatic composition. The Niebelungen Lied and
the Song of Roland would, in the case of Germany and France, have to
be set against the English ballads of action. But these Epics are
different in character from the minstrelsy which turned passing events
into poetry and bequeathed them in the form of spirit-stirring
narratives to posterity. Long after the epical impulse had ceased and
the British epic of Arthur had passed into the sphere of literature,
the ballad minstrels continued to work with dramatic energy upon the
substance of contemporary incidents.]

The deficiency of the tragic instinct among the Italians seems to be
further exhibited by their failure to produce novels of the higher
type.[141] Though Boccaccio is the prince of story-tellers, his
_Novelle_ are tales, more interesting for their grace of manner and
beautifully described situations, than for analysis of character or
strength of plot. Recent Italian _romanzi_ are histories rather than
works of free fiction; and these novels were produced after the style
of Sir Walter Scott had been acclimatized in every part of Europe.
Meanwhile no Balzac or George Sand, no Thackeray or George Eliot, no
Cervantes or Fielding, has appeared in Italy. The nearest approach to
a great Italian novel of life and character is the autobiography of
Cellini.[142] As the Italians lived instead of playing their
tragedies, so they lived instead of imagining their novels.

[Footnote 141: See above, p. 54, for the distinction between the
Italian _Novella_ and the modern novel.]

[Footnote 142: In the same way Alfieri's biography is a tragic and
Goldoni's a comic novel. The Memoirs of Casanova, which I incline to
accept as genuine, might rather be cited as a string of brilliantly
written _Novelle_.]

If a national drama could have been produced in Italy, it might have
appeared at Florence during the reign of Lorenzo de' Medici. In no
other place and at no other period was the Italian genius more alive
and centralized. But a city is not a nation, and the Compagnia di San
Giovanni was not the Globe Theater. The desires of the Florentines, so
studiously gratified by their merchant prince, were bent on carnival
shows and dances. In this modern Athens the fine arts failed to find
their meeting-point and fulfillment on the stage, because the people
lacked the spirit and the freedom necessary to the drama. Artists were
satisfied with decorating masks and cars. Poets amused their patrons
with romantic stories. Scholars were absorbed in the fervent passion
for antiquity. Michelangelo carved and Lionardo painted the wonders of
the modern world. Thus the Florentine genius found channels that led
far afield from tragedy. At a later period, when culture had become
more universally Italian, it might have been imagined that the bright
spirit of Ariosto, the pregnant wit of Machiavelli, the genial humor
of Bibbiena would have given birth to plays of fancy like Fletcher's
or to original comedies of manners like Jonson's and Massinger's. But
such was the respect of these Italian playwrights for their classic
models, that the scenes of even the best Florentine comedies are
crowded with spendthrifts, misers, courtesans, lovers and slaves,
borrowed from the Latin authors. Plautus and Terence, Ariosto and
Machiavelli, not nature, were their source of inspiration.[143]
Mistakes between two brothers, confusions of sex, discoveries that
poor girls are the lost daughters of princely parents, form the staple
of their plots. The framework of comedy being thus antique, the
playwright was reduced to narrow limits for that exhibition of
"truth's image, the ensample of manners, the mirror of life," which Il
Lasca rightly designated as the proper object of the comic art.

[Footnote 143: Cantù quotes the prologue of a MS. play which goes so
far as to apologize for the scene not being laid at Athens (_Lett.
It._ p. 471):

    Benchè l'usanza sia
    Che ogni commedia
    Si soglia fare a Atene,
    Non so donde si viene
    Che questa non grecizza,
    Anzi fiorentinizza.]

The similarity of conditions between late Greek and modern Italian
life facilitated this custom of leaning on antique models, and
deceived the poets into thinking they might safely apply Græco-Roman
plots to the facts of fifteenth-century romance. With the Turk at
Otranto, with the Cardinals of Este and Medici opposing his advance in
Hungary, with the episodes of French invasion, with the confusions of
the Sack of Rome, there was enough of social anarchy and public peril
to justify dramatic intrigues based on kidnapping and anagnorisis. The
playwrights, when they adapted comedies of Plautus and Terence, were
fully alive to the advantage of these correspondences. Claudio in
Ariosto's _Suppositi_ had his son stolen in the taking of Otranto.
Bartolo in the _Scolastica_ lost sight of his intended wife at the
moment of Lodovico Sforza's expulsion from Milan. Callimaco in
Machiavelli's _Mandragola_ remained in Paris to avoid the troubles
consequent on Charles VIII.'s invasion. Lidio and Santilla in
Bibbiena's _Calandra_, Blando's children in Aretino's _Talanta_, were
taken by the Turks. Fabrizio in the _Ingannati_ was lost in the sack
of Rome. Maestro Cornelio in Ambra's _Furto_ was captured by the
German Lanzi. In the _Cofanaria_ of the same author there is a girl
kidnapped in the Siege of Florence. Slavery itself was by no means
obsolete in Italy upon the close of the middle ages; and the
slave-merchant of Ariosto's _Cassaria_, hardly distinguished from a
common brothel-keeper, was not so anachronistic as to be impossible.
The parasites of Latin comedy found their counterpart in the clients
of rich families and the poorer courtiers of princes. The
indispensable Davus was represented by the body servants of wealthy
householders. The _miles gloriosus_ reappeared in professional _bravi_
and captains of mercenaries. Thus the personages of the Latin stage
could easily be furnished with Italian masks. Still there remained an
awkwardness in fitting these new masks to the old lay-figures; and
when we read the genuine Italian comedies of Aretino, especially the
_Cortigiana_ and the _Marescalco_, we feel how much was lost to the
nation by the close adherence of its greater playwrights, Ariosto and
Machiavelli, to the conventions of the _Commedia erudita_.

The example of Ariosto and Machiavelli led even the best Florentine
playwrights--Cecchi, Ambra, and Gelli--into a false path. The plays
of these younger authors abound in reminiscences of the _Suppositi_
and _Clizia_, adapted with incomparable skill and humor to
contemporary customs, but suffering from too close adherence to
models, which had been in their turn copied from the antique. It was
not until the middle of the sixteenth century that criticism hit the
vein of common sense. Il Lasca, who deserves great credit for his
perspicacity, carried on an unremitting warfare against the comedy of
_anagnorisis_. In the prologue to his _Gelosia_ he says:[144] "All the
comedies which have been exhibited in Florence since the Siege, end in
discoveries of lost relatives. This has become so irksome to the
audience that, when they hear in the argument how at the taking of
this city or the sack of that, children have been lost or kidnapped,
they know only too well what is coming, and would fain leave the
room.... Authors of such comedies jumble up the new and the old,
antique and modern together, making a hodge-podge and confusion,
without rhyme or reason, head or tail. They lay their scenes in modern
cities and depict the manners of to-day, but foist in obsolete customs
and habits of remote antiquity. Then they excuse themselves by saying:
Plautus did thus, and this was Menander's way and Terence's; never
perceiving that in Florence, Pisa and Lucca people do not live as they
used to do in Rome and Athens. For heaven's sake let these fellows
take to translation, if they have no vein of invention, but leave off
cobbling and spoiling the property of others and their own." The
prologue to the _Spiritata_ contains a similar polemic against "quei
ritrovamenti nei tempi nostri impossibili e sciocchi."[145] In the
prologue to the _Strega_, after once more condemning "quelle
recognizioni deboli e sgarbate," he proceeds to attack the authority
of ancient critics on whom the pedantic school relied:[146] "Aristotle
and Horace knew their own times. But ours are wholly different. We
have other manners, another religion, another way of life; and
therefore our comedies ought to be composed after a different fashion.
People do not live at Florence as they did in Rome and Athens. There
are no slaves here; it is not customary to adopt children; our pimps
do not put up girls for sale at auction; nor do the soldiers of the
present century carry long-clothes babies off in the sack of cities,
to educate them as their own daughters and give them dowries; nowadays
they make as much booty as they can, and should girls or married women
fall into their hands, they either look for a large ransom or rob them
of their maidenhead and honor."

[Footnote 144: _Commedie di Antonfrancesco Grazzini_ (Firenze,
Lemonnier, 1859), p. 5.]

[Footnote 145: _Op. cit._ p. 109.]

[Footnote 146: _Ibid._ p. 173.]

This polemic of Il Lasca, and, indeed, all that he says about the art
and aim of comedy, is very sensible. But at his date there was no hope
for a great comedy of manners. What between the tyranny of the Medici
and the pressure of the Inquisition, Spanish suspicion and Papal
anxiety for a reform of manners, the liberty essential to a new
development of the dramatic art had been extinguished. And even if
external conditions had been favorable, the spirit of the race was
spent. All intellectual energy was now losing itself in the quagmire
of academical discussions and literary disputations upon verbal
niceties. Attention was turned backward to the study of Petrarch and
Boccaccio. Authors aiming above all things at correctness, slavishly
observant of rules and absurdly fearful of each other's ferules, had
not the stuff in them to create. What has been said of comedy, is
still more true of tragedy. The tragic dramas of this period are stiff
and lifeless, designed to illustrate critical principles rather than
to stir and purify the passions. They have no relation to the spirit
of the people or the times; and the blood spilt at their conclusion
fails to distinguish them from moral lucubrations in the blankest

[Footnote 147: I have put into an Appendix some further notes upon the
opinions recorded by the playwrights concerning the progress of the
dramatic art.]

The first regular Italian tragedy was the _Sofonisba_ of Gian Giorgio
Trissino, finished in 1515, and six times printed before the date of
its first representation at Vicenza in 1562.[148] Trissino was a man
of immense erudition and laborious intellect, who devoted himself to
questions of grammatical and literary accuracy, studying the critics
of antiquity with indefatigable diligence and seeking to establish
canons for the regulation of correct Italian composition. He was by no
means deficient in originality of aim, and professed himself the
pioneer of novelties in poetry.[149] Thus, besides innovating in the
minor matter of orthography, he set himself to supply the deficiencies
of Italian literature by producing an epic in the heroic style and a
tragedy that should compete with those of Athens. He had made a
profound study of the _Poetics_ and believed that Aristotle's analyses
of the epic and the drama might be used as recipes for manufacturing
similar masterpieces in a modern tongue.[150] The _Italia Liberata_
and the _Sofonisba_, meritorious but lifeless exercises which lacked
nothing but the genius for poetry, were the results of these ambitious
theories. Aristotle presided over both, while Homer served as the
professed model for Trissino's heroic poem, and Sophocles was copied
in his play. Of the _Italia Liberata_ this is not the place to speak.
The _Sofonisba_ is founded on a famous episode in the Punic Wars, when
the wife of Syphax was married by Massinissa contrary to the express
will of Lælius and Scipio. She takes poison at her new husband's
orders, and her death forms the catastrophe. There is some attempt to
mark character in Lelio, Scipione, and Massinissa; but these persons
do not act and react on one another, nor is there real dramatic
movement in the play. Sofonisba passes through it automatically,
giving her hand to Massinissa without remorse for Syphax, drinking the
poison like an obedient girl, and dying with decorous but ineffective
pathos. Massinissa plays the part of an idiot by sending her the
poison which he thinks, apparently, she will not take. His surprise
and grief, no less than his previous impulse of passionate love, are
stationary. In a word, Trissino selected a well-known story from Roman
history, and forgot that, in order to dramatize it, he must present
the circumstances, not as a narrated fable, but as a sequence of
actions determined by powerful and convincing motives. The two
essentials of dramatic art, action evolved before the eyes of the
spectators, and what Goethe called the _motiviren_ of each incident,
are conspicuous by their absence. The would-be tragic poet was too
mindful of rules--his unities, his diction, his connection of scenes
that should occupy the stage without interruption, his employment of
the Chorus in harmony with antique precedent--to conceive intensely or
to express vividly. In form the _Sofonisba_ is a fair imitation of
Attic tragedy, and the good taste of its author secures a certain pale
and frigid reflection of classical simplicity. Blank verse is
judiciously mingled with lyric meters, which are only introduced at
moments of high-wrought feeling. The Chorus plays an unobtrusive part
in the dialogue, and utters appropriate odes in the right places.
Consequently, the _Sofonisba_ was hailed as a triumph of skill by the
learned audience to whom alone the author appealed. Its merits of
ingenuity and scholarship were such as they could appreciate. Its lack
of vitality and imaginative vigor did not strike men who were
accustomed to judge of poetry by rule and precedent.

[Footnote 148: My references to Italian tragedies will be made to the
_Teatro Italiano Antico_, 10 vols., Milano, 1809.]

[Footnote 149: This is shown by his device of a Golden Fleece,
referring to the voyage of the Argonauts. To sail the ocean of
antiquity as an explorer, and to bring back the spoils of their
artistic method was his ambition.]

[Footnote 150: Compare what Giraldi says in the dedication of his
_Orbecche_ to Duke Ercole II.: "Ancora che Aristotele ci dia il modo
di comporle." In the same passage he dwells on the difficulties of
producing tragedies in the absence of dramatic instinct, with an
ingenuousness that moves our pity: "Quando altri si dà a scrivere in
quella maniera de' Poemi, che sono stati per tanti secoli tralasciati,
che appena di loro vi resta una lieve ombra." It never occurred to him
that great poetry comes neither by observation nor by imitation of
predecessors. The same dedication contains the monstrous critical
assertion that the Latin poets, _i.e._ Seneca, improved upon Greek
tragedy--_assai più grave la fecero_.]

Numerous scholars entered the lists in competition with Trissino.
Among these the first place must be given to Giovanni Rucellai, whose
_Rosmunda_ was composed almost contemporaneously with the _Sofonisba_
and was acted before Leo X. in the Rucellai Gardens upon the occasion
of a Papal visit to Florence. The chief merit of _Rosmunda_ is
brevity. But it has the fatal fault of being a story told in scenes
and dialogues, not an action moving and expanding through a series of
connected incidents. Rosmunda's father, Comundo, has been slain in
battle with the Lombards under Albuino. Like Antigone, the princess
goes by night to bury his corpse; and when the tyrant threatens her,
she replies in language borrowed from Sophocles. Albuino decapitates
Comundo and makes a wine-cup of his skull, from which, after his
marriage to Rosmunda, he forces her to drink. This determines the
catastrophe. Almachilde appears upon the scene and slaughters Albuino
in his tent. We are left to conjecture the murderer's future marriage
with the heroine. That the old tale of the _Donna Lombarda_ is
eminently fitted for tragic handling, admits of no doubt. But it is
equally certain that Rucellai failed to dramatize it. Almachilde is
not introduced until the fourth act, and he assassinates Albuino
without any previous communication with Rosmunda. The horrible banquet
scene and the incident of the murder are described by messengers,
while the chief actors rarely come to speech together face to face.
The business of the play is narrated in dialogues with servants. This
abuse of the Messenger and of subordinate characters, introduced for
the sole purpose of describing and relating what ought to be enacted,
is not peculiar to the _Rosmunda_. It weakens all the tragedies of the
sixteenth century, reducing their scenes to vacant discussions, where
one person tells another what the author has conceived but what he
cannot bring before his audience. Afraid of straining his imaginative
faculties by the display of characters in action, the poet studiously
keeps the chief personages apart, supplying the hero and the heroine
with a shadow or an echo, whose sympathetic utterances serve to elicit
the plot without making any demand upon the dramatist's power of
presentation. Unfortunately for the tragic poets, the precedent of
Seneca seemed to justify this false method of dramatic composition.
And Seneca's tragedies, we know, were written, not for action, but for

These defects culminate in Speron Sperone's _Canace_. The tale is
horrible. Eolo, god of the winds, has two children, Canace and
Macareo, born at one birth by his wife Deiopea. Under the malign
influence of Venus this unlucky couple love; and the fruit of their
union is a baby, killed as soon as born. The brother and the sister
commit suicide separately, after their father's anger has thrown the
light of publicity upon their passion. In order to justify the
exhibition of incest in this repulsive form, there should at least
have been such scenes of self-abandonment to impulse as Ford has found
for Giovanni and Annabella; or the poet might have suggested the
operation of agencies beyond human control by treading in the
footsteps of Euripides; or, again, he might have risen from the sordid
facts of sin into the region of ideal passion by the presentation of
commanding personality in his principal actors. Nothing of this kind
redeems the dreary disgust of his plot. The first act consists of a
dialogue between Eolo and his Grand Vizier; the second, of a dialogue
between Canace and her nurse; the third, of dialogues between Deiopea
and her servants; the fourth, of a Messenger's narrative; the fifth,
of Macareo's dialogues with his valet and his father's henchman. This
analysis of the situations shows how little of dramatic genius Sperone
brought to bear upon the hideous theme he had selected. The _Canace_
is a succession of conversations referring to events which happen off
the stage, and which involve no play of character in the chief
personages. It is written throughout in lyrical measures with an
affected diction, where rhetorical conceits produce the same effect as
artificial flowers and ribbons stuck upon a skeleton.

Giraldi, the author of the _Hecatommithi_, fares little better in his
_Orbecche_.[151] It is a play founded on one of the poet's own
_Novelle_.[152] Orbecche, the innocent child of Sulmone and Selina,
has led her father to detect his wife's adultery with his own eldest
son. Selina, killed together with her paramour, exercises a baleful
influence from the world of ghosts over this daughter who unwittingly
betrayed her sin. Orbecche privately marries the low-born Oronte and
has two sons by her husband. Sulmone, when he discovers this
_mésalliance_, assassinates Oronte and his children in a secret place,
and makes a present of his head and hands to his miserable daughter.
Upon this, Orbecche stabs her father and then ends her own life. To
horrors of extravagant passion and bloodshed we are accustomed in the
works of our inferior playwrights. Nor would it perhaps be just to
quarrel with Giraldi for having chosen a theme so morbid, if any
excuse could have been pleaded on the score of stirring scenes or
vivid incidents. Unluckily, the life of dramatic action and passion is
wanting to his ponderous tragedy. Instead of it, we are treated to
disquisitions in the style of Seneca, and to descriptions that would
be harrowing but for their invincible frigidity. No amount of crime
and bloodshed will atone for the stationary mechanism of this

[Footnote 151: This tragedy was acted at Ferrara in Giraldi's house
before Ercole II., Duke of Ferrara, and a brilliant company of noble
persons, in 1541. The music was composed by M. Alfonso dalla Viuola,
the scenery by M. Girolamo Carpi.]

[Footnote 152: Giraldi, a prolific writer of plays, dramatized three
other of his novels in the _Arrenopia_, the _Altile_ and the
_Antivalomeni_. He also composed a _Didone_ and a _Cleopatra_.]

Lacking dramatic instinct, these Italian scholars might have redeemed
their essential feebleness by acute analysis of character. Their
tragedies might at least have contained versified studies of motives,
metrical essays on the leading passions. But we look in vain for such
compensations. Stock tyrants, conventional lovers, rhetorical pedants,
form their _dramatis personæ_. The inherent vices of the _Novella_,
expanded to excessive length and invested with the forms of antique
art, neutralize the labors of the lamp and file that have been spent
upon them.[153] If it were requisite to select one play in which a
glimmer of dramatic light is visible, we could point to the _Marianna_
of Lodovico Dolce. Here the passion of love in a tyrant, dotingly
affectionate but egotistic, roused to suspicion by the slightest hint,
and jealous beyond Othello's lunacy, has been depicted with
considerable skill. Herod is a fantastical Creon, who murders the
fancied paramour of Marianna, and subsequently assassinates Marianna
herself, his two sons by her, and her mother, in successive paroxysms
of insane vindictiveness, waking up too late from his dream of
self-injury into ignoble remorse. Though his conviction that Marianna
meant to poison him, and his persuasion of her adultery with Soemo are
so ill prepared by reasonable motives as to be ridiculous, the
operation of these beliefs upon his wild-beast nature leads to more
real movement than is common in Italian tragedies. The inevitable
Chorus is employed for the utterance of sententious commonplaces; and
the part of the Messenger is abused for the detailed and disgusting
description of executions that inspire no horror.

[Footnote 153: It may here be remarked that though the scholarly
playwrights of the Renaissance paid great attention to Aristotle's
_Poetics_, and made a conscientious study of some Greek plays,
especially the _Antigone_, the _Oedipus Tyrannus_, the _Phoenissæ_,
and the _Iphigenia in Tauris_, they held the uncritical opinion,
openly expressed by Giraldi, that Seneca had improved the form of the
Greek drama. Their worst faults of construction, interminable
monologues, dialogues between heroines and confidantes, dry choric
dissertations, and rhetorical declamations are due to the preference
for Seneca. The more we study Italian literature in the sixteenth
century, the more we are compelled to acknowledge that humanism and
all its consequences were a revival of Latin culture, only slightly
tinctured with the simpler and purer influences of the Greeks. Latin
poetry had the fatal attraction of facility. It was, moreover, itself
composite and derivatory, like the literature of the new age. We may
profitably illustrate the attitude of the Italian critics by Sidney's
eulogy of _Gorboduc_: "full of stately speeches and well-sounding
phrases, climbing to the height of Seneca his style, and as full of
notable morality which it doth most delightfully teach and so obtain
the very end of Poesy."]

The tragedies hitherto discussed, though conforming to the type of the
classical drama, were composed on original subjects. Yet the best
plays of this pedantic school are those which closely follow some
Attic model. Rucellai's _Oreste_, produced in imitation of the
_Iphigenia in Tauris_, far surpasses the _Rosmunda_, not only as a
poem of action, but also for the richness and the beauty of its style.
That Rucellai should spoil the plot of Euripides by his alterations,
protracting the famous recognition-scene till we are forced to suppose
that Orestes and Iphigenia kept up a game of mutual misunderstanding
out of consideration for the poet, and spinning out the contest
between Orestes and Pylades to absurdity, was to be expected. A
scholar in his study can scarcely hope to improve upon the work of a
poet whose very blemishes were the defects of a dramatic quality. He
fancies that expansion of striking situations will fortify them, and
that the addition of ingenious rhetoric will render a simple action
more effective. The reverse of this is true; and the best line open to
such a poet is to produce a faithful version of his original. This was
done by Luigi Alamanni, whose translation of the _Antigone_, though
open to objections on the score of scholarship, is a brilliant and
beautiful piece of Italian versification. Lodovico Dolce in his
_Giocasta_ attempted to remodel the _Phoenissæ_ with very
indifferent success; while Giovanni Andrea dell'Anguillara defaced the
_Oedipus Tyrannus_ in his _Edippo_, by adding a final act and
interweaving episodical matter borrowed from Seneca. A more repulsive
tragi-comedy than this _pasticcio_ of Sophocles and Seneca, can
scarcely be imagined. Yet Quadrio and Tiraboschi mention it with
cautious compliment, and it received the honor of public recitation at
Vicenza in 1565, when Palladio erected a theater for the purpose in
the noble Palazzo della Ragione. We cannot contemplate these
_rifacimenti_ of standard-making masterpieces without mixed feelings
of scorn and pity. Sprouting fungus-like upon the venerable limbs of
august poetry, they lived their season of mildewy fame, and may now be
reckoned among the things which the world would only too willingly let
die. The ineptitude of such performance reached a climax in Lodovico
Martelli's _Tullia_, where the Roman legend of Lucius Tarquinius is
violently altered to suit the plot of Sophocles' _Electra_. Romulus
appears at the conclusion of the play as a _deus ex machina_, and the
insufferable tedium of the speeches may be imagined from the fact that
one of them runs to the length of 211 lines.

These tragedies were the literary manufacture of scholars, writing in
no relation of reciprocity with the world of action or the audience of
busy cities. Applying rules of Aristotle and Horace, travestying
Sophocles and Euripides, copying the worst faults of Seneca, patching,
boggling, rehandling, misconceiving, devising petty traps instead of
plots, mistaking bloodshed and brutality for terror, attending to
niceties of diction, composing commonplace sentences for superfluous
Choruses, intent on everything but the main points of passion,
character, and action, they produced the dreariest _caput mortuum_ of
unintelligent industry which it is the melancholy duty of historians
to chronicle. Their personages are shadows evoked in the camera
obscura of a pedant's brain from figures that have crossed the orbit
of his solitary studies. No breath or juice of life animates these
formal marionettes. Their movements of passion are the spasms of
machinery. No charm of poetry, no bursts of lyrical music, no
resolutions of tragic solemnity into irony or sarcasm, afford relief
from clumsy horrors and stale disquisitions, parceled out by weight
and measure in the leaden acts. An intolerable wordiness oppresses the
reader, who wades through speeches reckoned by the hundred lines,
wondering how any audience could endure the torment of their
recitation. Each play is a flat and arid wilderness, piled with
barrows of extinct sentences in Seneca's manner and with pyramids of
reflection heaped up from the commonplace books of a pedagogue.

The failure of Italian tragedy was inseparable from its artificial
origin. It was the conscious product of cultivated persons, who aimed
at nothing nobler than the imitation of the ancients and the
observance of inapplicable rules. The curse of intellectual barrenness
weighed upon the starvelings of this system from the moment of their
birth, and nothing better came of them than our own _Gorboduc_. That
tragedy, built upon the false Italian method, is indeed a sign of what
we English might have suffered, if Sidney and the court had gained
their way with the Elizabethan Drama.

The humanistic influences of the fifteenth century were scarcely less
unpropitious to national comedy at its outset than they had been to
tragedy. Although the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_ contained the germ of
vernacular farce, though interludes in dialect amused the folk of more
than one Italian province, among which special reference may be made
to the Neapolitan _Farse_, yet the playwrights of the Renaissance
preferred Plautus and Terence to the indigenous growth of their own
age and country.[154] We may note this fact with regret, since it
helped to deprive the Italians of a national theater. Still we must
not forget that it was inevitable. Humanism embraced the several
districts of Italy in a common culture, effacing the distinctions of
dialect, and bringing the separate elements of the nation to a
consciousness of intellectual unity. Divided as Venetians, as
Florentines, as Neapolitans, as Lombards, and as Romans, the members
of the Italian community recognized their identity in the spiritual
city they had reconquered from the past. What the English translation
of the Bible effected for us, the recovery of Latin and the humanistic
education of the middle classes achieved for the Italians. For a
Florentine scholar to have developed the comic elements existing in
the _Feste_, for a Neapolitan to have refined the matter of the
_Farse_, would have seemed the same in either case as self-restriction
to the limits of a single province. But the whole nation possessed the
Latin poets as a common heritage; and on the ground of Plautus,
Florentines and Neapolitans could understand each other. It was
therefore natural that the cultivated orders, brought into communion
by the ancients, should look to these for models of an art they were
intent on making national. Together with this imperious instinct,
which impelled the Italians to create their literature in sympathy
with the commanding spirit of the age, we must reckon the fashionable
indifference toward vernacular and obscure forms of poetry. The
princes and their courtiers strove alike to remodel modern customs in
accordance with the classics. Illiterate mechanics might amuse
themselves with farces.[155] Men who had once tasted the refined and
pungent salt of Attic wit, could stomach nothing simpler than scenes
from antique comedy.

[Footnote 154: D'Ancona (_Origini del Teatro_, vol. ii. sec. xxxix.)
may be consulted upon the attempts to secularize the _Sacre
Rappresentazioni_ which preceded the revival of classical comedy.]

[Footnote 155: Leo X., with a Medici's true sympathy for plebeian
literature added to his own coarse sense of fun, patronized the farces
of the Sienese Company called Rozzi. Had his influence lasted, had
there been any one to continue the traditions of his Court at Rome, it
is not impossible that a more natural comedy, as distinguished from
the _Commedia erudita_, might have been produced by this fashionable
patronage of popular dramatic art.]

We therefore find that, at the close of the fifteenth century, it was
common to recite the plays of Plautus and Terence in their original
language. Paolo Comparini at Florence in 1488 wrote a prologue to the
_Menæchmi_, which his pupils represented, much to the disgust of the
elder religious Companies, who felt that the ruin of their _Feste_ was
involved in this revival of antiquity.[156] Pomponius Lætus at Rome,
about the same time, encouraged the members of his Academy to rehearse
Terence and Plautus in the palaces of nobles and prelates.[157] The
company of youthful actors formed by him were employed by the Cardinal
Raffaello Riario in the magnificent spectacles he provided for the
amusement of the Papal Court. During the pontificate of Sixtus IV. and
Innocent VIII., the mausoleum of Hadrian, not then transformed into a
fortress, or else the squares of Rome were temporarily arranged as
theaters for these exhibitions.[158] It was on this stage that Tommaso
Inghirami, by his brilliant acting in the _Hippolytus_ of Seneca,
gained the surname of Phædra which clung to him through life. In the
pontificate of Alexander we hear of similar shows, as when, upon the
occasion of Lucrezia Borgia's espousal to the Duke of Ferrara in 1502,
the _Menæchmi_ was represented at the Vatican.[159]

[Footnote 156: See D'Ancona, _Or. del Teatro_, vol. ii. p. 201.]

[Footnote 157: Sabellico, quoted by Tiraboschi, says of him: "primorum
antistitum atriis suo theatro usus, in quibus Plauti, Terentii,
recentiorum etiam quædam agerentur fabulæ, quas ipse honestos
adolescentes et docuit et agentibus præfuit."]

[Footnote 158: See the letter of Sulpizio da Veroli to Raffaello
Riario, quoted by Tiraboschi; "eamdemque, postquam in Hadriani mole
Divo Innocentio spectante est acta, rursus inter tuos penates, tamquam
in media Circi cavea, toto consessu umbraculis tecto, admisso populo,
et pluribus tui ordinis spectatoribus honorifice excepisti. Tu etiam
primus picturatæ scenæ faciem, quum Pomponiam comoediam agerent,
nostro sæculo ostendisti."]

[Footnote 159: See _Lucrezia Borgia_, by Gregorovius (Stuttgart,
1874), vol. i. p. 201.]

The Court which accomplished most for the resuscitation of Latin
Comedy was that of the Estensi at Ferrara. Ercole I. had spent a
delicate youth in humanistic studies, collecting manuscripts and
encouraging his courtiers to make Italian translations of ancient
authors. He took special interest in theatrical compositions, and
spared no pains in putting Latin comedies with all the pomp of modern
art upon the stage. Thus the Ferrarese diaries mention a
representation of the _Menæchmi_ in 1486, which cost above 1000
ducats. In 1487 the courtyard of the castle was fitted up as a theater
for the exhibition of Nicolò da Correggio's Pastoral of _Cefalo_.[160]
Again, upon the occasion of Annibale de' Bentivogli's betrothal to a
princess of the Este family, the _Amphitryon_ was performed; and in
1491, when Anna Sforza gave her hand to Alfonso d'Este, the same
comedy was repeated. In 1493 Lodovico Sforza, on a visit to Ferrara,
witnessed a representation of the _Menæchmi_, which so delighted him
that he begged Ercole to send his company to Milan. The Duke went
thither in person, attended by his son Alfonso and by gentle actors of
his Court, among whom Lodovico Ariosto played a part. Later on, in
1499, we again hear of Latin comedies at Ferrara. Bembo in a letter of
that year mentions the _Trinummus_, _Poenulus_ and _Eunuchus_.[161]

[Footnote 160: Nicolò was a descendant of the princely house of
Correggio. He married Cassandra, daughter of Bartolommeo Colleoni. His
_Cefalo_ was a mixed composition resembling the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_
in structure. In the Prologue he says:

    Requiret autem nullus hic Comoediæ
    Leges ut observentur, aut Tragoediæ;
    Agenda nempe est historia, non fabula.

See D'Ancona, _op. cit._ vol. 2, pp. 143-146, 155.]

[Footnote 161: _Ep. Fam._ i. 18, quoted by Tiraboschi.]

It is probable that Latin comedies were recited at Ferrara, as at
Rome, in the original. At the same time we know that both Plautus and
Terence were being translated into Italian for the amusement of an
audience as yet but partially acquainted with ancient languages.
Tiraboschi mentions the _Anfitrione_ of Pandolfo Collenuccio, the
_Cassina_ and _Mostellaria_ versified in _terza rima_ by Girolamo
Berardo, and the _Menechmi_ of Duke Ercole, among the earliest of
these versions. Guarini and Ariosto followed on their path with
translations from the Latin made for special occasions. It was thus
that Italian comedy began to disengage itself from Latin. After the
presentation of the original plays, came translation; and after
translation, imitation. The further transition from imitation to
freedom was never perfectly effected. The comic drama, determined in
its form by the circumstances of its origin remained emphatically a
_commedia erudita_. Adapted to the conditions of modern life, it
never lost dependence upon Latin models; and its most ingenious
representations of manners were defaced by reminiscences which condemn
them to a place among artistic hybrids. Ariosto, who did so much to
stamp Italian comedy with the mark of his own genius, was educated, as
we have already seen, in the traditions of Duke Ercole's Latin
theater; and Ariosto gave the law to his most genial successor,
Cecchi. The Pegasus of the Italian drama, if I may venture on a
burlesque metaphor, was a mule begotten by the sturdy ass of Latin on
the fleet mare of the Italian spirit; and it had the sterility of the

The year 1502, when Lucrezia Borgia came as Alfonso d'Este's bride to
Ferrara, marks the climax of these Latin spectacles.[162] Ercole had
arranged a theater in the Palace of the Podestà (now called the
Palazzo della Ragione), which was connected with the castle by a
private gallery. His troupe, recruited from Ferrara, Rome, Siena, and
Mantua, numbered one hundred and ten actors of both sexes.
Accomplished singers, dancers, and scene-painters were summoned to add
richness to the spectacle. We hear of musical interludes performed by
six violins; while every comedy was diversified by morris-dances of
Saracens, satyrs, gladiators, wild men, hunters, and allegorical
personages.[163] The entertainment lasted over five nights, a comedy
of Plautus forming the principal piece on each occasion. On the first
evening the _Epidicus_ was given; on the second, the _Bacchides_; on
the third, the _Miles Gloriosus_; on the fourth, the _Asinaria_; on
the fifth, the _Casina_. From the reports of Cagnolo, Zambotto, and
Isabella Gonzaga, we are led to believe that the unlettered audience
judged the recitations of the Plautine comedies somewhat tedious. They
were in the same position as unmusical people of the present day,
condemned to listen to Bach's Passion Music, and afraid of expressing
their dissatisfaction. Yet these more frivolous spectators found ample
gratification in the ingenious ballets, accompanied with music, which
relieved each act. The occasion was memorable. In those five evenings
the Court of Ferrara presented to the fashionable world of Italy a
carefully-studied picture of Latin comedy framed in a setting of
luxuriant modern arabesques. The simplicity of Plautus, executed with
the fidelity born of reverence for antique art, was thrown into relief
by extravagances borrowed from medieval chivalry, tinctured with
Oriental associations, enhanced by music and colored with the glowing
hues of Ferrarese imagination. The city of Boiardo, of Dossi, of
Bello, of Ariosto, strained her resources to devise fantastic foils
for the antique. It was as though Cellini had been called to mount an
onyx of Augustus in labyrinths of gold-work and enamel for the
stomacher of a Grand-Duchess.

[Footnote 162: Gregorovius in his book on _Lucrezia Borgia_ (pp.
228-239) has condensed the authorities. See, too, Dennistoun, _Dukes
of Urbino_, vol. i. pp. 441-448.]

[Footnote 163: The minute descriptions furnished by Sanudo of these
festivals read like the prose letterpress accompanying the Masks of
our Ben Jonson.]

We may without exaggeration affirm that the practice of the Ferrarese
stage, culminating in the marriage shows of 1502, determined the
future of Italian comedy. The fashion of the Court of Ercole was
followed by all patrons of dramatic art. When a play was written, the
author planned it in connection with subordinate exhibitions of
dancing and music.[164] He wrote a poem in five acts upon the model of
Plautus or Terence, understanding that his scenes of classical
simplicity would be embedded in the grotesques of _cinque cento_
allegory. The whole performance lasted some six hours; but the comedy
itself was but a portion of the entertainment. For the majority of the
audience the dances and the pageants formed the chief attraction.[165]
It is therefore no marvel if the drama, considered as a branch of high
poetic art, was suffocated by the growth of its mere accessories. Nor
was this inconsistent with the ruling tendencies of the Renaissance.
We have no reason to suppose that even Ariosto or Machiavelli grudged
the participation of painters like Peruzzi, musicians like Dalla
Viuola, architects like San Gallo, and dancers of ephemeral
distinction, in the triumph of their plays.

[Footnote 164: Il Lasca in his prologue to the _Strega_ (_ed. cit._ p.
171) says: "Questa non è fatta da principi, nè da signori, nè in
palazzi ducali e signorili; e però non avrà quella pompa d'apparato,
di prospettiva, e d'intermedj che ad alcune altre nei tempi nostri s'è

[Footnote 165: A fine example of the Italian Mask is furnished by _El
Sacrificio_, played with great pomp by the Intronati of Siena in 1531
and printed in 1537. _El Sacrificio de gli Intronati Celebrato ne i
giuochi del Carnovale in Siena l'Anno MDXXXI._ Full particulars
regarding the music, _mise en scène_, and ballets on such ceremonial
occasions, will be found in two curious pamphlets, _Descrizione
dell'Apparato fatto nel Tempio di S. Giov. di Fiorenza_, etc. (Giunti,
1568), and _Descrizione dell'Entrata della Serenissima Reina Giovanna
d'Austria_, etc. (Giunti, 1566). They refer to a later period, but
they abound in the most curious details.]

The habit of regarding scenic exhibitions as the adjunct to
extravagant Court luxury, prevented the development of a theater in
which the genius of poets might have shone with undimmed intellectual
luster. The want of permanent buildings, devoted to acting, in any
great Italian town, may again be reckoned among the causes which
checked the expansion of the drama. When a play had to be acted, a
stage was erected at a great expense for the occasion.[166] It is true
that Alfonso I. built a theater after Ariosto's designs at Ferrara in
1528; but it was burnt down in 1532. According to Gregorovius, Leo X.
fitted one up at Rome upon the Capitol in 1513,[167] capable of
holding the two thousand spectators who witnessed a performance of the
_Suppositi_. This does not, however, seem to have been used
continuously; nor was it until the second half of the sixteenth
century that theaters began to form a part of the palatial residences
of princes. One precious relic of those more permanent stages remains
to show the style they then assumed. This is the Teatro Farnese at
Parma, erected in 1618 by Ranuzio I. after the design of Galeotti
Aleotti of Ferrara. It could accommodate seven thousand spectators;
and, though now in ruins, it is still a stately and harmonious
monument of architectural magnificence.[168] What, however, was always
wanting in Italy was a theater open to all classes and at all seasons
of the year, where the people might have been the patrons of their

[Footnote 166: See the details brought together by Campori, _Notizie
per la vita di Lodovico Ariosto_, p. 74, Castiglione's letter on the
_Calandra_ at Urbino, the private representation of the _Rosmunda_ in
the Rucellai gardens, of the _Orbecche_ in Giraldi's house, of the
_Sofonisba_ at Vicenza, of Gelli's _Errore_ by the Fantastichi, etc.]

[Footnote 167: _Stadt Rom_, viii. 350.]

[Footnote 168: See the article "Fornovo" in my _Sketches and Studies
in Italy_.]

[Footnote 169: At this point, in illustration of what has been already
stated, I take the opportunity of transcribing a passage which fairly
represents the conditions of play-going in the _cinque cento_. Doni,
in the _Marmi_, gives this description of two comedies performed in
the Sala del Papa of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence.[A] "By my faith,
in Florence never was there anything so fine: two stages, one at each
end of the Hall: two wonderful scenes, the one by Francesco Salviati,
the other by Bronzino: two most amusing comedies, and of the newest
coinage; the _Mandragola_ and the _Assiuola_: when the first act of
the one was over, there followed the first act of the other, and so
forth, each play taking up the other, without interludes, in such wise
that the one comedy served as interlude for the other. The music began
at the opening, and ended with the close."]

[Footnote A: Barbèra's edition, 1863, vol. i. p. 67.]

The transition from Latin to Italian comedy was effected almost
simultaneously by three poets, Bernardo Dovizio, Lodovico Ariosto, and
Niccolò Machiavelli. Dovizio was born at Bibbiena in 1470. He attached
himself to the Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, and received the scarlet
from his master in 1513. We need not concern ourselves with his
ecclesiastical career. It is enough to say that the _Calandra_, which
raised him to a foremost place among the literary men of Italy, was
composed before his elevation to the dignity of Cardinal, and was
first performed at Urbino some time between the dates 1504 and 1513,
possibly in 1508. The reader will already have observed that the most
popular Latin play, both at Ferrara and Rome, was the _Menæchmi_ of
Plautus. In Dovizio's _Calandra_ the influence of this comedy is so
noticeable that we may best describe it as an accommodation of the
Latin form to Italian circumstance. The intrigue depends upon the
close resemblance of a brother and sister, Lidio and Santilla, whose
appearance by turns in male and female costume gives rise to a variety
of farcical incidents. The name is derived from Calandro, a simpleton
of Calandrino's type; and the interest of the plot is that of a
_Novella._ The characters are very slightly sketched; but the
movement is continuous, and the dialogue is always lively. The
_Calandra_ achieved immediate success by reproducing both the humor of
Boccaccio and the invention of Plautus in the wittiest vernacular.[170]
A famous letter of Baldassare Castiglione, describing its
representation at Urbino, enlarges upon the splendor of the scenery
and dresses, the masks of Jason, Venus, Love, Neptune, and Juno,
accompanied by morris-dances and concerts of stringed instruments,
which were introduced as interludes.[171] From Urbino the comedy
passed through all the Courts of Italy, finding the highest favor at
Rome, where Leo more than once decreed its representation. One of
these occasions was memorable. Wishing to entertain the Marchioness
Isabella of Mantua (1514), he put the _Calandra_ with great pomp upon
his private stage in the Vatican. Baldassare Peruzzi designed and
painted the decorations, giving a new impulse to this species of art
by the beauty of his inventions.[172]

[Footnote 170: One of the chief merits of the _Calandra_ in the eyes
of contemporaries was the successful adaptation of Boccaccio's style
to the stage. Though Italians alone have the right to pronounce
judgment on such matters, I confess to preferring the limpid ease of
Ariosto and the plebeian freshness of Gelli. The former has the merit
of facile lucidity, the latter of native raciness. Bibbiena's somewhat
pompous phraseology sits ill upon his farcical obscenities.]

[Footnote 171: See the translation in Dennistoun, vol. ii. p. 141.]

[Footnote 172: See Vasari, viii. 227.]

Leo had an insatiable appetite for scenic shows. Comedies of the new
Latinizing style were his favorite recreation. But he also invited the
Sienese Company of the Rozzi, who only played farces, every year to
Rome; nor was he averse to even less artistic buffoonery, as may be
gathered from many of the stories told about him.[173] In 1513 Leo
opened a theater upon the Capitol, and here in 1519, surrounded with
two thousand spectators, he witnessed an exhibition of Ariosto's
_Suppositi_. We have a description of the scene from the pen of an
eye-witness, who relates how the Pope sat at the entrance to the
gallery leading into the theater, and admitted with his benediction
those whom he thought worthy of partaking in the night's
amusements.[174] When the house was full, he took his throne in the
orchestra, and sat, with eye-glass in hand, to watch the play. Raphael
had painted the scenery, which is said to have been, and doubtless
was, extremely beautiful. Leo's behavior scandalized the foreign
embassadors, who thought it indecorous that a Pope should not only
listen to the equivocal jests of the Prologue but also laugh
immoderately at them.[175] As usual, the inter-acts consisted of vocal
and instrumental concerts, with ballets on classical and allegorical

[Footnote 173: See D'Ancona, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 250, for the
special nature of the _Farsa_. See also _ib._ p. 211, the description
by Paolucci of Leo's buffooneries in the Vatican.]

[Footnote 174: See Campori, _Notizie Inedite di Raffaello di Urbino_,
Modena, 1863, quoted by D'Ancona, _op. cit._ p. 212. The entertainment
cost Leo 1,000 ducats.]

[Footnote 175: No doubt Paolucci refers to the obscene play upon the
word _Suppositi_, and to the ironical epithet of _Santa_ applied to
_Roma_ in a passage which does no honor to Ariosto.]

Enough has now been said concerning the mode of presenting comedies in
vogue throughout Italy. The mention of Leo's entertainment in 1519
introduces the subject of Ariosto's plays. The _Suppositi_, originally
written in prose and afterwards versified by its author, first
appeared in 1509 at Ferrara. In the preceding year Ariosto exhibited
the _Cassaria_, which, like the _Suppositi_, was planned in prose and
subsequently versified in _sdrucciolo_ iambics.[176]

[Footnote 176: For the dates of Ariosto's dramatic compositions, see
above, Part 1, p. 499. The edition I shall refer to, is that of
Giovanni Tortoli (Firenze, Barbèra, 1856), which gives both the prose
and verse redactions of the _Cassaria_ and _Suppositi_. It may here be
incidentally remarked that there are few thoroughly good editions of
Italian plays. Descriptions of the _dramatis personæ_, stage
directions, and illustrative notes are almost uniformly wanting. The
reader is left to puzzle out an intricate action without help. All the
slang, the local customs, and the passing allusions which give life to
comedy and present so many difficulties to the student, are for the
most part unexplained.]

In Ariosto's comedies the form of Roman art becomes a lay-figure,
dressed according to various modes of the Italian Renaissance. The
wire-work, so to speak, of Plautus or of Terence can be everywhere
detected; but this skeleton has been incarnated with modern flesh and
blood, habited in Ferrarese costume, and taught the paces of
contemporary fashion. Blent with the traditions of Plautine comedy, we
find in each of the four plays an Italian _Novella_. The motive is
invariably trivial. In the _Cassaria_ two young men are in love with
two girls kept by a slave-merchant. The intrigue turns upon the arts
of their valets, who cheat the pander and procure the girls for
nothing for their masters. In the _Suppositi_ a young man of good
family has assumed the part of servant, in order to seduce the
daughter of his master. The devices by which he contrives to secure
her hand in marriage, furnish the action of the play. The _Lena_ has
even a simpler plan. A young man needs a few quiet hours for
corrupting his neighbor's daughter. Lena, the chief actress, will not
serve as a go-between without a sum of ready money paid down by the
hero. The movement of the piece depends on the expedients whereby
this money is raised, and the farcical obstacles which interrupt the
lovers at the point of their felicity. In the _Negromante_ a young man
has been secretly married to one woman, and openly to another. Cinthio
loves his real wife, Lavinia, and feigns impotence in order to explain
his want of affection for Emilia, who is the recognized mistress of
his home. An astrologer, Iacchelino, holds the threads of the intrigue
in his hands. Possessed of Cinthio's secret, paid by the parents of
Emilia to restore Cinthio's virility, paid again by a lover of Emilia
to advance his own suit, and seeking in the midst of these rival
interests to make money out of the follies and ambitions of his
clients, Iacchelino has the whole domestic company at his discretion.
The comic point lies in the various passions which betray each dupe to
the astrologer--Cinthio's wish to escape from Emilia, Camillo's
eagerness to win her, the old folks' anxiety to cure Cinthio. Temolo,
a servant, who is hoodwinked by no personal desire, sees that
Iacchelino is an impostor; and the inordinate avarice of the
astrologer undoes him. Thus the _Negromante_ presents a really fine
comic web of humors at cross purposes and appetites that overreach

There is considerable similarity in Ariosto's plots. In all of them,
except the _Negromante_, we have a sub-plot which brings a tricksy
valet into play. A sum of money is imperatively needed to effect the
main scheme of the hero; and this has to be provided by the servant's
ingenuity. Such direct satire as the poet thought fit to introduce, is
common to them all. It concerns the costs, delays and frauds of legal
procedure, favoritism at Court, the Ferrarese game-laws, and the
tyranny of custom-house officials. But satire of an indirect,
indulgent species--the Horatian satire of Ariosto's own epistles--adds
a pleasant pungency to his pictures of contemporary manners no less
than to his occasional discourses. The prologue to the _Cassaria_, on
its reappearance as a versified play, might be quoted for the
perfection of genial sarcasm, playing about the foibles of society
without inflicting a serious wound. All the prologues, however, are
not innocent. Those prefixed to the _Lena_ and the _Suppositi_ contain
allusions so indecent, and veil obscenities under metaphors so flimsy,
as to justify a belief in Ariosto's vulgarity of soul. Here the
satirist borders too much on the sympathizer with a vice he professes
to condemn.

It remains to speak of the _Scolastica_, a comedy left incomplete at
Ariosto's death, and finished by his brother Gabrielle, but bearing
the unmistakable stamp of his ripest genius impressed upon the style
no less than on the structure of the plot.[177] The scene is laid at
Ferrara, where we find ourselves among the scholars of its famous
university, and are made acquainted in the liveliest manner with their
habits. The heroes are two young students, Claudio and Eurialo, firm
friends, who have passed some years at Pavia reading with Messer
Lazzaro, a doctor of laws. The disturbance of the country having
driven both professors and pupils from Pavia,[178] a variety of
accidents brings all the actors of the comedy to Ferrara, where
Eurialo is living with his father, Bartolo. Of course the two lads are
in love--Claudio with the daughter of his former tutors, and Eurialo
with a fatherless girl in the service of a noble lady at Pavia. The
intrigue is rather farcical than comic. It turns upon the difficulties
encountered by Claudio and Eurialo in concealing their sweethearts
from their respective fathers, the absurd mistakes they make in the
hurry of the moment, and the misunderstandings which ensue between
themselves and the old people. Ariosto has so cleverly complicated the
threads of his plot and has developed them with such lucidity of
method that any analysis would fall short of the original in brevity
and clearness. The _dénouement_ is effected by the device of a
recognition at the last moment. Eurialo's _innamorata_ is found to be
the lost ward of his father, Bartolo; and Claudio is happily married
to his love, Flaminia. The merit of the play lies, however, less in
the argument than the characters, which are ably conceived and
sustained with more than even Ariosto's usual skill. The timid and
perplexed Eurialo, trembling before his terrible father, seeking
advice from every counselor, despairing, resigning himself to fate, is
admirably contrasted with the more passionate and impulsive Claudio,
who takes rash steps with inconsiderate boldness, relies on his own
address to extricate himself, and vibrates between the ecstasies of
love and the suspicions of an angry jealousy.[179] Bartolo, burdened
in his conscience by an ancient act of broken faith, and punished in
the disobedience of his son, forms an excellent pendent to the honest
but pedantic Messer Lazzaro, who cannot bear to see his daughter
suffer from an unrequited passion.[180] Each of the servants, too, has
a well-marked physiognomy--the witty Accursio, picking up what
learning he can from his master's books, and turning all he says to
epigrams; the easy-going, Bacchanalian duenna; blunt Pistone;
garrulous Stanna. But the most original of all the _dramatis personæ_
is Bonifazio, that excellent keeper of lodgings for Ferrarese
students, who identifies himself with their interests, sympathizes in
their love-affairs, takes side with them against their fathers, and
puts his conscience in his pocket when required to pull them out of
scrapes.[181] Each of these characters has been copied from the life.
The taint of Latin comedy has been purged out of them.[182] They
move, speak, act like living beings, true to themselves in every
circumstance, and justifying the minutest details of the argument by
the operation of their several qualities of head and heart. Viewed as
a work of pure dramatic art, the _Scolastica_ is not only the most
genial and sympathetic of Ariosto's comedies, but also the least
fettered by his Latinizing prepossessions, and the strongest in
psychological analysis. Like the _Lena_, it has the rare merit of
making us at home in the Ferrara which he knew so well; but it does
not, like that play, disgust us by the spectacle of abject
profligacy.[183] There is a sunny, jovial freshness in this latest
product of Ariosto's genius, which invigorates while it amuses and

[Footnote 177: Gabrielle added the last two scenes of the fifth act.
See his prologue. But whether he introduced any modifications into the
body of the play, or filled up any gaps, does not appear.]

[Footnote 178:

    Poichè a Pavia levato era il salario
    Alli dottor, nè più si facea studio
    Per le guerre che più ogni dì augumentano.]

[Footnote 179: Their opposite humors are admirably developed in the
dialogues of act ii. sc. 5, act iii. sc. 5.]

[Footnote 180: Compare Bartolo's soliloquy in act iv. sc. 6, with
Lazzaro's confidences to Bonfazio, whom he mistakes for Bartolo, in
act v. sc. 3.]

[Footnote 181: His action in the comedy is admirably illustrated by
the self-revelation of the following soliloquy (act iv. sc. 1):

    Io vuò a ogni modo aiutar questo giovane,
    E dir dieci bugie, perchè ad incorrere
    Non abbia con suo padre in rissa e in scandalo:
    E così ancor quest'altro mio, che all'ultima
    Disperazione è condotto da un credere
    Falso e da gelosia che a torto il stimola.
    Nè mi vergognerò d'ordire, o tessere
    Fallacie e giunti, _e far ciò ch'eran soliti_
    _Gli antichi servi già nelle commedie_:
    Chè veramente l'aiutare un povero
    Innamorato, non mi pare uffizio
    Servil, ma di gentil qualsivoglia animo.]

[Footnote 182: The process is well indicated in the lines I have
italicized in Bonifazio's soliloquy. He is no longer a copy of the
Latin slaves, but a free agent who emulates their qualities.]

[Footnote 183: With all admiration for the _Lena_, how can we
appreciate the cynicism of the situation revealed in the first
scene--the crudely exposed appetites of Flavio, the infamous conduct
of Fazio, who places his daughter under the tutelage of his old

The _Scolastica_ is not without an element of satire. I have said that
Bartolo had a sin upon his conscience. In early manhood he promised to
adopt a friend's daughter, and to marry her in due course to his own
Eurialo. But he neglected this duty, lost sight of the girl, and
appropriated her heritage. He has reason to think that she may still
be found in Naples; and the parish priest to whom he confided his
secret in confession, will not absolve him, unless he take the journey
and do all he can to rectify the error of his past. Bartolo is
disinclined to this long pilgrimage, with the probable loss of a
fortune at the end of it. In his difficulty he has recourse to a Frate
Predicatore, who professes to hold ample powers for dispensing with
troublesome vows and pious obligations:[184]

    Voi potete veder la bolla, e leggere
    Le facultadi mie, che sono amplissime;
    E come, senza che pigliate, Bartolo,
    Questo pellegrinaggio, io posso assolvere
    E commutar i voti; e maravigliomi,
    Che essendo, com'io son, vostro amicissimo,
    Non m'abbiate richiesto; perchè, dandomi
    Quel solamente che potreste spendere
    Voi col famiglio nel viaggio, assolvere
    Vi posso, e farvi schifar un grandissimo
    Disconcio, all'età vostra incomportabile:
    Oltra diversi infiniti pericoli,
    Che ponno a chi va per cammino occorrere.

[Footnote 184: Act iii. sc. 6.]

The irony of this speech depends upon its plain and business-like
statement of a simoniacal bargain, which will prove of mutual benefit
to the parties concerned. Bartolo confides his case of conscience to
the Friar, previously telling him that he has confessed it to the

            Ma non mi sa decidere
    Questo caso, chè, come voi, teologo
    Non è; sa un poco di ragion canonica.

At the close of the communication, which is admirable for its lucid
exposition of a domestic romance adapted to the circumstances of the
sixteenth century, the Friar asks his penitent once more whether he
would not willingly escape this pilgrimage. Who could doubt it?
answers Bartolo. Well then:

    Ben si potrà commutare in qualche opera
    Pia. Non si trova al mondo sì forte obbligo,
    Che non si possa scior con l'elemosine.

Here again the sarcasm consists in the hypocritical adaptation of the
old axiom that everything in this world can be got for money. On both
sides the transaction is commercial. Bartolo, like a good man of
business, wishes to examine the Frate's title-deeds before he engages
in the purchase of his spiritual privileges. In other words he must be
permitted to examine the Bull of Indulgence:[185]

             E ve la lascerò vedere e leggere.
             Siate pur certo che la bolla è amplissima,
             E che di tutti i casi, componendovi
             Meco, vi posso interamente assolvere,
             Non meno che potria 'l Papa medesimo.

  _Bartolo._ Vi credo; nondimeno, per iscarico
             Della mia conscienza, la desidero
             Veder, e farla anco vedere e leggere
             Al mio parrocchiano.

    _Frate._                          Ora sia _in nomine_
             _Domini_, porterolla, e mostrerolla
             A chi vi pare.

[Footnote 185: Act iv. sc. 4. In the last line but one, ought we not
to read _mostreratela_ or else _mostrerollavi_?]

We may further notice how the parish priest is here meant to play the
part of solicitor in the bargain. He does not deal in these spiritual
commodities; but he can give advice upon the point of validity. The
episode of Bartolo and the Dominican reminds us that we are on the eve
of the Reformation. While Rome and Ferrara laughed at the hypocrisies,
credulities, and religious frauds implied in such transactions,
Northern Europe broke into flame, and Luther opened the great

[Footnote 186: Room must be found for a few of the sarcasms, uttered
chiefly by Accursio, which enliven the _Scolastica_. Here are the

              questi umanisti, che cercano
    Medaglie, e di rovesci si dilettano.

Here is Rome:

              Roma, dove intendono
    Che 'l sangue degli Apostoli e de' Martiri
    È molto dolce, e a lor spese è un bel vivere.

Here is Ferrara:

              Ferrara, ove pur vedesi
    Che fino alli barbieri paion nobili.

Here are the Signori of Naples:

                          da Napoli.
    Ho ben inteso che ve n'è più copia
    Che a Ferrara di Conti; e credo ch'abbiano,
    Come questi contado, quei dominio.]

The artistic merit of Ariosto's comedies consists in the perfection of
their structure. However involved the intrigues may be, we experience
no difficulty in following them; so masterly is their development.[187]
It may be objected that he too frequently resorts to the device of
anagnorisis, in order to solve a problem which cannot find its issue
in the action. This mechanical solution is so obviously employed to
make things easy for the author that no interest attaches to the
climax of his fables. Yet the characters are drawn with that ripe
insight into human nature which distinguished Ariosto. Machiavelli
observed that, being a native of Ferrara, cautious in the handling of
Tuscan idioms, and unwilling to use the dialect of his own city,
Ariosto missed the salt of comedy.[188] There is truth in this
criticism. Matched with the best Florentine dialogues, his language
wants the raciness of the vernacular. The _sdrucciolo_ verse, which he
preferred, fatigues the ear and adds to the impression of formality.
He frequently interrupts the action with tirades, talking, as it were,
in his own person to the audience, instead of making his characters
speak.[189] Yet foreigners, who study his comedies side by side with
Plautus, at almost the same distance of unfamiliarity, will recognize
the brilliance of his transcripts from contemporary life. These
studies of Italian manners are eminent for good taste, passing at no
point into extravagance, and only marred by a certain banality of
moral instinct. The _Lena_ has the highest value as a picture of
Ferrarese society. We have good reason to believe that it was founded
on an actual incident. It deserves to rank with Machiavelli's
_Mandragola_ and Aretino's _Cortigiana_ for the light it throws on
sixteenth-century customs. And the light is far more natural, less
lurid, less partial, than that which either Machiavelli or Aretino
shed upon the vices of their century.

[Footnote 187: Cecchi noticed the lucid order, easy exposition and
smooth conduct of Ariosto's plots, ranking him for these qualities
above the Latin poets. See the passage from _Le Pellegrine_ quoted

[Footnote 188: In an essay on the Italian language, included among
Machiavelli's works, but ascribed to him on no very certain ground.]

[Footnote 189: Notice the long monologue of the _Cassaria_ in which
Lucramo describes the fashionable follies of Ferrara. Ariosto
gradually outgrew this habit of tirade. The _Scolastica_ is freer than
any of his pieces from the fault.]

Of Machiavelli we have two genuine comedies in prose, the _Mandragola_
and the _Clizia_, and two of doubtful authenticity, called
respectively _Commedia in Prosa_ and _Commedia in Versi_, besides a
translation of the _Andria_.[190] Judging by internal evidence alone,
a cautious critic would reject the _Commedia in Versi_ from the canon
of Machiavelli's works; and if the existence of a copy in his
autograph has to be taken as conclusive evidence of its genuineness,
we can only accept it as a crude and juvenile production. It is
written in various measures, a graceless octave stanza rhyming only
in the last couplet being used instead of blank verse, while many of
the monologues are lyrical. The language is crabbed, uncertain,
archaistic--in no point displaying the incisive brevity of
Machiavelli's style. The scene is laid in ancient Rome, and the
intrigue turns upon a confusion between two names, Catillo and
Cammillo. The conventional parasite of antiquity and the inevitable
slaves play prominent parts; while the plot is solved by a
preposterous exchange of wives between the two chief characters. Thus
the fabric of the comedy throughout is unnatural and false to the
conditions of real life. Were it not for some piquant studies of
Italian manners, scattered here and there in the descriptive passages,
this _Commedia in Versi_ would scarcely deserve passing notice.[191]

[Footnote 190: _Le Commedie di N. Machiavelli, con prefazione di F.
Perfetti_, Firenze, Barbèra, 1863.]

[Footnote 191: Take this picture of Virginia (act i. sc. 2):

   _Ap._ Dilettasi ella dar prova a filare,
         O tessere, o cucire, com'è usanza?

  _Mis._ No, chè far lassa tal cosa a sua madre.

   _Ap._ Di che piglia piacer?

  _Mis._                       Delle finestre,
         Dove la sta dal mattino alla sera.
         E vaga è di novelle, suoni e canti,
         E studia in lisci, e dorme, e cuce in guanti.

Or the picture of the lovers in church described by the servant, Doria
(act iii. sc. 2), or Virginia's portrait of her jealous husband (act
iii. sc. 5).]

The _Commedia in Prosa_, for which we might find a title in the name
of the chief personage, Fra Alberigo, displays the spirit and the
style of the _Mandragola_. Critics who do not accept it for
Machiavelli's own, must assume it to have been the work of a clever
and obsequious imitator. It is a short piece in three acts written to
expose the corruption of a Florentine household. Caterina, the
heroine, is a young wife married to an old husband, Amerigo. Their
maid-servant, Margherita, holds the threads of the intrigue in her
hands. She has been solicited on the one side by Amerigo to help him
in his amours with a neighbor's wife, and on the other by the friar,
Alberigo, to win Caterina to his suit. The devices whereby Margherita
brings her mistress and the monk together, cheats Amerigo of his
expected enjoyment, and so contrives that the despicable but injured
husband should establish Fra Alberigo in the position of a favored
house-friend, constitute the argument. Short as the play is, it
combines the chief points of the _Clizia_ and the _Mandragola_ in a
single action, and may be regarded as the first sketch of two
situations afterwards developed with more fullness by the author.[192]
The language is coarse, and the picture of manners, executed with
remorseless realism, would be revolting but for its strong
workmanship.[193] The playwright expended his force on the
servant-maid and the friar, those two instruments of domestic
immorality. Fra Alberigo is a vulgar libertine, provided with pious
phrases to cloak his vicious purpose, but casting off the mask when he
has gained his object, well knowing from past experience that the
appetites of the woman he seduces will secure his footing in her
husband's home.[194] Margherita revels in the corruption she has
aided. She delights in sin for its own sake, extracts handfuls of
coppers from the friar, and counts on profiting by the secret of her
mistress. Her speech and action display the animal appetites and gross
phraseology of the proletariate, degraded by city vices and hardened
to the spectacle of clerical hypocrisy.[195] One of her exclamations:
"I frati, ah! son più viziati che 'l fistolo!" taken in conjunction
with her argument to Caterina: "I frati, eh? Non si trova generazione
più abile ai servigi delle donne!" points the satire intended by the
playwright. Yet neither Caterina nor Amerigo yields a point of
baseness to these servile agents. Plebeian coarseness is stamped alike
upon their language and their desires. They have no delicacy of
feeling, no redeeming passion, no self-respect. They speak of things
unmentionable with a crudity that makes one shudder, and abuse each
other in sarcasms borrowed from the rhetoric of the streets.[196] To a
refined taste the calculations of Caterina are no less obnoxious and
are far less funny than the rogueries of the friar.

[Footnote 192: The scene between Caterina and Amerigo, when the latter
is caught in flagrant adultery (act iii. 5), anticipates the
catastrophe of the _Clizia_. The final scene between Caterina,
Amerigo, and Fra Alberigo bears a close resemblance to the climax of
the _Mandragola_. On the hypothesis that this comedy is not
Machiavelli's but an imitator's, the playwright must have had both the
_Clizia_ and the _Mandragola_ in his mind, and have designed a pithy
combination of their most striking elements.]

[Footnote 193: See especially the scenes between Caterina and
Margherita (act i. 3; act ii. 1) where the advantages of taking a
lover and of choosing a friar for this purpose are discussed. They
abound in _gros mots_, as thus:

     _Cat._ Odi, in quanto a cotesta parte tu di' la verità; ma
     quello odore ch'egli hanno poi di salvaggiume, non ch'altro
     mi stomaca a pensarlo.

     _Marg._ Eh! eh! poveretta voi! i frati, eh? Non si trova
     generazione più abile ai servigi delle donne. Voi dovete
     forse avere a pigliarvi piacere col naso? etc.]

[Footnote 194: Compare his speech to Caterina (act ii. 5) with his
dialogue with Margherita (act iii. 4) and his final discourse on
charity and repentance (act iii. 6). The irony of these words,
"Certamente, Amerigo, che voi potete vantarvi d'aver la più saggia e
casta giovane, non vo' dir di Fiorenza ma di tutto 'l mondo,"
pronounced before Caterina a couple of hours after her seduction,
fixes the measure of Machiavelli's cynicism.]

[Footnote 195: The quite unquotable but characteristic monologue which
opens the third act is an epitome of Margherita's character.]

[Footnote 196: Act iii. 5.]

This comedy of Fra Alberigo is a literal transcript from a cynical
_Novella_, dramatized and put upon the stage to amuse an audience
familiar with such arguments by their perusal of Sacchetti and
Boccaccio. Its freedom from Latinizing conventionality renders it a
striking example of the influence exercised by the _Novellieri_ over
the theater. The same may be said about both the _Clizia_ and the
_Mandragola_, though the former owes a portion of its structure to the
_Casina_ of Plautus.[197] The _Clizia_ is a finished picture of
Florentine home-life. Nicomaco and Sofronia are an elderly couple, who
have educated a beautiful girl, Clizia, from childhood in their house.
At the moment when the play opens, both Nicomaco and his son,
Cleandro, are in love with Clizia. Nicomaco as determined to marry her
to one of his servants, Pirro, having previously ascertained that the
dissolute groom will not object to sharing his wife with his master.
Sofronia's family pride opposes the marriage of her son and heir with
Clizia; but she is aware of her husband's schemes, and seeks to
frustrate them by giving the girl to an honest bailiff, Eustachio. In
the contest that ensues, Nicomaco gains the victory. It is settled
that Clizia is to be wedded to Pirro, and on the night of the marriage
Nicomaco makes his way into the bridal chamber. But here Sofronia
proves more than a match for her lord and master. Helped by Cleandro,
she substitutes for Clizia a young man-servant disguised as a woman,
who gives Nicomaco a warm reception, beats him within an inch of his
life, and exposes him to the ridicule of the household.[198] Sofronia
triumphs over her ashamed and miserable husband, who now consents to
Clizia's marriage with Eustachio. But at this juncture the long-lost
father of the heroine appears like a _deus ex machina_. He turns out
to be a rich Neapolitan gentleman. There remains no obstacle to
Cleandro's happiness, and the curtain falls upon a marriage in
prospect between the hero and the heroine. The weakness of the play,
considered as a work of art, is the mechanical solution of the plot.
Its strength and beauty are the masterly delineation of a family
interior. The _dramatis personæ_ are vigorously sketched and act
throughout consistently. Nothing can be finer than the portrait of a
sober Florentine merchant, regular in his pursuits, punctual in the
performance of his duties, exact in household discipline and watchful
over his son's education, whose dignified severity of conduct has
yielded to the lunacies of an immoderate passion.[199] For the time
being Nicomaco forgets his old associates, abandons his business, and
consorts with youthful libertines in taverns. His appetite so blinds
him that he devises the odious scheme I have described, in order to
gratify a senile whim.[200] The lifelong fabric of honesty and honor
breaks down in him; and it is only when lessoned by the punishment
inflicted on him by his wife and son, that he returns to his old self
and sees the vileness of the situation his folly has created. Sofronia
is a notable housewife, rude but respectable. The good understanding
between her and her handsome son, Cleandro, whom she loves
affectionately, but whom she will not indulge in his caprice for
Clizia, is one of the best traits furnished by Italian comedy.
Cleandro himself has less than usual of the selfishness and sensuality
which degrade the Florentine _primo amoroso_. There is even something
of enthusiasm in his passion for Clizia--a germ of sentiment which
would have blossomed into romance under the more genial treatment of
our drama.[201] Morally speaking, what is odious in this comedy is the
willingness of every one to sacrifice Clizia. Even Cleandro says of
her: "Io per me la torrei per moglie, per amica, e in tutti quei modi,
che io la potessi avere." Nicomaco, when he has failed in his plot to
secure the girl, thinks only of his own shame, and takes no account of
the risk to which he has exposed her. Sofronia is merely anxious to
get her decently established beyond her husband's reach.

[Footnote 197: From an allusion in act ii. sc. 3, it is clear that the
_Clizia_ was composed after the _Mandragola_. If we assign the latter
comedy to a date later than 1512, the year of Machiavelli's disgrace,
which seems implied in its prologue, the _Clizia_ must be reckoned
among the ripest products of his leisure. The author hints that both
of these comedies were suggested to him by facts that had come under
his notice in Florentine society.]

[Footnote 198: The _Clizia_ furnished Dolce with the motive of his
_Ragazzo_ ("Il Ragazzo, comedia di M. Lodovico Dolce. Per Curtio de
Navò e fratelli al Leone, MDXLI."). An old man and his son love the
same girl. A parasite promises to get the girl for the old man, but
substitutes a page dressed up like a woman, while the son sleeps with
the real girl. Readers of Ben Jonson will be reminded of _Epicoene_.
But in Dolce's _Ragazzo_ the situation is made to suggest impurity and
lacks rare Ben's gigantic humor.]

[Footnote 199: See Sofronia's soliloquy, act. ii. sc. 4.]

[Footnote 200: Cleandro understands the faint shadow of scruple that
suggested this scheme: "perchè tentare d'averla prima che maritata,
gli debbe parere cosa impia e brutta" (act i. sc. 1). This sentence is
extremely characteristic of Italian feeling.]

[Footnote 201: His observations on his father, are, however, marked by
more than ordinary coarseness. "Come non ti vergogni tu ad avere
ordinato, che si delicato viso sia da sì fetida bocca scombavato, sì
delicate carni da sì tremanti mani, da sì grinze e puzzolenti membra
tocche?" Then he mingles fears about Nicomaco's property with a
lover's lamentations. "Tu non mi potevi far la maggiore ingiuria,
avendomi con questo colpo tolto ad un tratto e l'amata e la roba;
perchè Nicomaco, se questo amor dura, è per lasciare delle sue
sustanze più a Pirro che a me" (act iv. sc. 1).]

Only long extracts could do justice to the sarcasm and irony with
which the dialogue is seasoned. Still a few points may be
selected.[202] Sofronia is rating Nicomaco for his unseasonable
dissipation. He answers: "Ah, moglie mia, non mi dire tanti mali a un
tratto! Serba qualche cosa a domane." Eustachio, in view of taking
Clizia for his wife, reflects: "In questa terra chi ha bella moglie
non può essere povero, e del fuoco e della moglie si può essere
liberale con ognuno, perchè quanto più ne dai, più te ne rimane." When
Pirro demurs to Nicomaco's proposals, on the score that he will make
enemies of Sofronia and Cleandro, his master answers: "Che importa a
te? Sta' ben con Cristo e fàtti beffe de' santi." A little lower down
Nicomaco trusts the decision of Clizia's husband to lot:

     _Pirro._ Se la sorte me venisse contro?

     _Nicom._ Io ho speranza in Dio, che la non verrà.

     _Pirro._ O vecchio impazzato! Vuole che Dio tenga le mani a
     queste sue disonestà.

[Footnote 202: Act iii. scs. 4, 5, 6.]

Nor can criticism express the comic humor of the scenes, especially of
those in which Nicomaco describes the hours of agony he spent in
Siro's bed, and afterwards capitulates at discretion to Sofronia.[203]
In spite of what is disagreeable in the argument and obscene in the
catastrophe, the _Clizia_ leaves a wholesomer impression on the mind
than is common with Florentine comedies. It has something of
Ariosto's _bonhomie_, elsewhere unknown in Machiavelli.

[Footnote 203: Act v. scs. 2 and 3.]

Meanwhile the _Mandragola_ is claiming our attention. In that comedy,
Machiavelli put forth all his strength. Sinister and repulsive as it
may be to modern tastes, its power is indubitable. More than any plays
of which mention has hitherto been made, more even than Ariosto's
_Lena_ and _Negromante_, it detaches itself from Latin precedents and
offers an unsophisticated view of Florentine life from its author's
terrible point of contemplation.

In order to appreciate the _Mandragola_, it is necessary to know the
plot. After spending his early manhood in Paris, Callimaco returns to
Florence, bent on making the beautiful Lucrezia his mistress. He has
only heard of her divine charms; but the bare report inflames his
imagination, disturbs his sleep, and so distracts him that he feels
forced "to attempt some bold stroke, be it grave, dangerous, ruinous,
dishonorable; death itself would be better than the life I lead."
Lucrezia is the faithful and obedient wife of Nicia, a doctor of laws,
whose one wish in life is to get a son. The extreme gullibility of
Nicia and his desire for an heir are the motives upon which Callimaco
relies to work his schemes. He finds a parasite, Ligurio, ready to
assist him. Ligurio is a friend of Nicia's family, well acquainted
with the persons, and so utterly depraved that he would sell his soul
for a good dinner. He advises Callimaco to play the part of a
physician who has studied the last secrets of his art in Paris,
introduces him in this capacity to Nicia, and suggests that by his
help the desired result may be obtained without the disagreeable
necessity of leaving Florence for the baths of San Filippo. In their
first interview Callimaco explains that a potion of mandragora
administered to Lucrezia will remove her sterility, but that it has
fatal consequences to the husband. He must perish unless he first
substitutes another man, whose death will extinguish the poison and
leave Lucrezia free to be the mother of a future family. Nicia revolts
against this odious project, which makes him the destroyer of his own
honor and a murderer. But Callimaco assures him that royal persons and
great nobles of France have adopted this method with success. The
argument has its due weight: "I am satisfied," says Nicia, "since you
tell me that a king and princes have done the like." But the
difficulty remains of persuading Lucrezia. Ligurio answers: that is
simple enough; let us work upon her through her confessor and her
mother. "You, I, our money, our badness, and the badness of those
priests will settle the confessor; and I know that, when the matter is
explained, we shall have her mother on our side." Thus we are
introduced to Fra Timoteo, the chief agent of corruption. The monk, in
a first interview, does not conceal his readiness to procure abortion
and cover infanticide. For a consideration, he agrees to convince
Lucrezia that the plot is for her good. He first demonstrates the
utility of Callimaco's method to the mother Sostrata, and then by her
help persuades Lucrezia that adultery and murder are not only venial,
but commendable with so fair an end in view. His sophistries
anticipate the darkest casuistry of Escobar. Lucrezia, with a woman's
good sense, fastens on the brutal and unnatural loathsomeness of the
proposed plan: "Ma di tutte le cose che si sono tentate, questa mi
pare la più strana; avere a sottomettere il corpo mio a questo
vituperio, et essere cagione che un uomo muoia per vituperarmi: chè io
non crederei, se io fussi sola rimasa nel mondo, e da me avesse a
risurgere l'umana natura, che mi fusse simile partito concesso."
Timoteo replies: "Qui è un bene certo, che voi ingraviderete,
acquisterete un'anima a messer Domenedio. Il male incerto è, che colui
che giacerà dopo la pozione con voi, si muoia; ma e' si truova anche
di quelli che non muoiono. Ma perchè la cosa è dubbia, però è bene che
messer Nicia non incorra in quel pericolo. Quanto all'atto che sia
peccato, questo è una favola: perchè la volontà è quella che pecca,
non il corpo; e la cagione del peccato è dispiacere al marito: e voi
gli compiacete; pigliarne piacere: e voi ne avete dispiacere," etc.
Sostrata, accustomed to follow her confessor's orders, and not
burdened with a conscience, clinches this reasoning: "Di che hai tu
paura, moccicona? E c'è cinquanta dame in questa terra che ne
alzarebbero le mani al cielo." Lucrezia gives way unwillingly: "Io son
contenta; ma non credo mai esser viva domattina." Timoteo comforts her
with a final touch of monkish irony: "Non dubitare, figliuola mia, io
pregherò Dio per te; io dirò l'orazione dell'Angiolo Raffaelo che
t'accompagni. Andate in buon'ora, e preparatevi a questo misterio, che
si fa sera." What follows is the mere working of the plot, whereby
Ligurio and Timoteo contrive to introduce Callimaco as the necessary
victim into Lucrezia's bed-chamber. The silly Nicia plays the part of
pander to his own shame; and when Lucrezia discovers the scheme by
which her lover has attained his ends, she exclaims: "Poi chè
l'astuzia tua e la sciochezza del mio marito, la semplicità di mia
madre e la tristizia del mio confessore, m'hanno condotta a far quello
che mai per me medesima avrei fatto, io voglio giudicare che e' venga
da una celeste disposizione, che abbia voluto così. Però io ti prendo
per signore, padrone e guida." It must be remarked that Lucrezia omits
from her reckoning the weakness which led her to consent.

My excuse for analyzing a comedy so indecent as the _Mandragola_, is
the importance it has, not only as a product of Machiavelli's genius,
but also as an illustration of contemporary modes of thought and
feeling. In all points this play is worthy of the author of the
_Principe_. The _Mandragola_ is a microcosm of society as Machiavelli
conceived it, and as it needs must be to justify his own philosophy.
It is a study of stupidity and baseness acted on by roguery. Credulity
and appetite supply the fulcrum needed by unscrupulous intelligence.
The lover, aided by the husband's folly, the parasite's profligacy,
the mother's familiarity with sin, the confessor's avarice, the wife's
want of self-respect, achieves the triumph of making Nicia lead him
naked to Lucrezia's chamber. Moving in the region of his fancy, the
poet adds _Quod erat demonstrandum_ to his theorem of vileness and
gross folly used for selfish ends by craft. But we who read it, rise
from the perusal with the certainty that it was only the corruption of
the age which rendered such a libel upon human nature plausible--only
the author's perverse and shallow view of life which sustained him in
this reading of a problem he had failed to understand. Viewed as a
critique upon life, the _Mandragola_ is feeble, because the premises
are false; and these same false premises regarding the main forces of
society, render the logic of the _Principe_ inconsequent. Men are not
such fools as Nicia or such catspaws as Ligurio and Timoteo. Women are
not such compliant instruments as Sostrata and Lucrezia. Human nature
is not that tissue of disgusting meannesses and vices, by which
Callimaco succeeds. Here lay Machiavelli's fallacy. He dreamed of
action as the triumph of astuteness over folly. Virtue with him meant
the management of immorality by bold intelligence. But while, on the
one hand, he exaggerated the stupidity of dupes, on the other he
underestimated the resistance which strongly-rooted moral instincts
offer to audacious villainy. He left goodness out of his account.
Therefore, though his reasoning, whether we examine the _Mandragola_
or the _Principe_, seems irrefragable on the premises from which he
starts, it is an unconvincing chain of sophisms. The world is not
wholly bad; but in order to justify Machiavelli's conclusions, we have
to assume that its essential forces are corrupt.

If we turn from the _Mandragola_ to the society of which it is a
study, and which complacently accepted it as an agreeable work of art,
we are filled with a sense of surprise bordering on horror. What must
the people among whom Machiavelli lived, have been, to justify his
delineation of a ruffian so vicious as Ligurio, a confessor so lost to
sense of duty as Timoteo, a mother who scruples not to prostitute her
daughter to the first comer, a lover so depraved as Callimaco, a wife
so devoid of womanly feeling as Lucrezia? On first reflection, we are
inclined to believe that the poet in this comedy was venting Swiftian
indignation on the human nature which he misconceived and loathed. The
very name Lucrezia seems chosen in irony--as though to hint that
Rome's first martyr would have failed, if Tarquin had but used her
mother and her priest to tame her. Yet, on a second reading, the
_Mandragola_ reveals no scorn or anger. It is a piece of scientific
anatomy, a demonstration of disease, executed without subjective
feeling. The argument is so powerfully developed, with such simplicity
of language, such consistency of character, such cold analysis of
motives, that we cannot doubt the verisimilitude of the picture. No
one, at the date of its appearance, resented it. Florentine audiences
delighted in its comic flavor. Leo X. witnessed it with approval. His
hatred of the monks found satisfaction in Timoteo. Society, far from
rising in revolt against the poet who exposed its infamy with a pen of
poisoned steel, thanked the man of genius for rendering vice amusing.
Of satire or of moral purpose there is none in the _Mandragola_.
Machiavelli depicted human nature just as he had learned to know it.
The sinister fruits of his studies made contemporaries laugh.

The _Mandragola_ was the work of an unhappy man. The prologue offers a
curious mixture of haughtiness and fawning, only comparable to the
dedication of the _Principe_ and the letter to Vettori.[204] A sense
of his own intellectual greatness is combined with an uneasy feeling
of failure:

    Non è componitor di molta fama.

[Footnote 204: See _Age of the Despots_, pp. 315-319. Of the two
strains of character so ill-blent in Machiavelli, the _Mandragola_
represents the vulgar, and the _Principe_ the noble. The one
corresponds to his days at Casciano, the other to his studious

As an apology for his application to trivialities, he pleads
wretchedness and _ennui_:

    E se questa materia non è degna,
    Per esser più leggieri
    D'un uom che voglia parer saggio e grave,
    Scusatelo con questo, che s'ingegna
    Con questi vani pensieri
    Fare el suo tristo tempo più soave;
    Perchè altrove non ave
    Dove voltare el viso;
    Che gli è stato interciso
    Mostrar con altre imprese altra virtue,
    Non sendo premio alle fatiche sue.

These verses, indifferent as poetry, are poignant for their revelation
of a disappointed life. Left without occupation, unable to display his
powers upon a worthy platform, he casts the pearls of his philosophy
before the pleasure-seeking swine. The sense of this degradation
stings him and he turns upon society with threats. Let them not
attempt to browbeat or intimidate him:

    Che sa dir male anch'egli,
    E come questa fu la sua prim'arte:
    E come in ogni parte
    Del mondo, ove il sì suona,
    Non istima persona,
    Ancor che faccia el sergiere a colui
    Che può portar miglior mantel di lui.

Throughout his prologue we hear the growl of a wounded lion, helpless
in his lair, yet conscious that he still has strength to rend the
fools and knaves around him.

Aretino completed the disengagement of Italian from Latin comedy.
Ignoring the principles established by the Plautine mannerists, he
liberated the elements of satire and of realism held in bondage by
their rules. His reasoning was unanswerable. Why should he attend to
the unities, or be careful to send the same person no more than five
times on the stage in one piece? His people shall come and go as they
think fit, or as the argument requires.[205] Why should he make Romans
ape he style of Athens? His Romans shall be painted from life; his
servants shall talk and act like Italian varlets, not mimicking the
ways of Geta or Davus.[206] Why should he shackle his style with
precedents from Petrarch and Boccaccio? He will seek the fittest
words, the aptest phrases, the most biting repartees from ordinary
language.[207] Why condescend to imitation, when his mother wit
supplies him with material, and the world of men lies open like a book
before his eyes?[208] Why follow in the footsteps of the pedants, who
mistake their knowledge of grammar for genius, and whose commentaries
are an insult to the poets they pretend to illustrate?[209]

[Footnote 205: "Se voi vedessi uscire i personaggi più di cinque volte
in scena, non ve ne ridete, perchè le catene che tengono i molini sul
fiume, non terrebbeno i pazzi d'oggidì" (Prologue to the

[Footnote 206: "Non vi maravigliate se lo stil comico non s'osserva
con l'ordine che si richiede, perchè si vive d'un'altra maniera a Roma
che non si vivea in Atene" (_Ibid._).]

[Footnote 207: "Io non mi son tolto dagli andari del Petrarca e del
Boccaccio per ignoranza, chè pur so ciò che essi sono; ma per non
perdere il tempo, la pazienza e il nome nella pazzia di volermi
transformare in loro" (Prologue to the _Orazia_).]

[Footnote 208: "Più pro fa il pane asciutto in casa propria che
l'accompagnato con molte vivande su altrui tavola. Imita qua, imita
là; tutto è fava, si può dire alle composizioni dei più ... di chi
imita, mi faccio beffe ... posso giurare d'esser sempre me stesso, ed
altri non mai" (_Ibid._).]

[Footnote 209: "Io mi rido dei pedanti, i quali si credono che la
dottrina consiste nella lingua greca, dando tutta la riputatione allo
in _bus_ in _bas_ della grammatica" (Prologue to _Orazia_). "I
crocifissori del Petrarca, i quali gli fanno dir cose con i loro
comenti, che non gliene fariano confessare diece tratti di corda. E
bon per Dante che con le sue diavolerie fa star le bestie in dietro,
che a questa ora saria in croce anch'egli" (Prologue to

Conscious of his own defective education, and judging the puristic
niceties of the age at their true value, Aretino thus flung the glove
of defiance in the face of a learned public. It was a bold step; but
the adventurer knew what he was doing. The originality of his _Ars
Poetica_ took the world by surprise. His Italian audience delighted in
the sparkle of a style that gave point to their common speech. Had
Aretino been a writer of genius, Italy might now have owed to his
audacity and self-reliance the starting-point of national dramatic
art.[210] He was on the right path, but he lacked the skill to tread
it. His comedies, loosely put together, with no constructive vigor in
their plots and no grasp of psychology in their characters, are a
series of powerfully-written scenes, piquant dialogues, effective
situations, rather than comedies in the higher sense of the word. We
must not look for Ariosto's lucid order, for Machiavelli's disposition
of parts, in these vagaries of a brilliant talent aiming at immediate
success. We must be grateful for the filibustering bravado which made
him dare to sketch contemporary manners from the life. The merit of
these comedies is naturalness. Such affectation of antithesis or
labored epigram as mars their style, was part of Aretino's self. It
reveals the man, and is not wearisome like the conceits of the
pedantic school. What he had learned, seen or heard in his experience
of the world--and Aretino saw, heard and learned the worst of the
society in which he lived--is presented with vigor. The power to
express is never shackled by a back-thought of reserve or delicacy.
Each character stands outlined with a vividness none the less
convincing because the study lacks depth. What Aretino cannot supply,
is the nexus between these striking passages, the linking of these
lively portraits into a coherent whole. Machiavelli's logic, perverse
as it may be, produces by its stringent application a more impressive
æsthetical effect. The doctrine of style for style's sake, derided by
Aretino, satisfies at least our sense of harmony. In the insolence of
freedom he spoils the form of his plays by discussions, sometimes
dull, sometimes disgusting, in which he vents his spite or airs his
sycophancy without regard for the exigencies of his subject. Still, in
spite of these defects, Aretino's plays are a precious mine of
information for one who desires to enter into direct communication
with the men of the Renaissance.

[Footnote 210: His tragedy _Orazia_ has just the same merits of
boldness and dramatic movement in parts, the same defects of
incoherence. It detaches itself favorably from the tragedies of the

Aretino's point of view is that of the successful adventurer. Unlike
Machiavelli, he has no sourness and reveals no disappointment. He has
never fallen from the high estate of an impersonal ambition. His
report of human depravity is neither scientific nor indignant. He
appreciates the vices of the world, by comprehending which, as means
to ends, he has achieved celebrity. They are the instruments of his
advance in life, the sources of his wealth, the wisdom he professes.
Therefore, while he satirizes, he treats them with complacence. Evil
is good for its own sake also in his eyes. Having tasted all its
fruits, he revels in recalling his sensations, just as Casanova took
pleasure in recording his debaucheries. His knowledge of society is
that of an upstart, who has risen from the lowest ranks by the arts of
the bully, flatterer and pander. We never forget that he began life as
a lackey, and the most valuable quality of his comedies is that they
depict the great world from the standpoint of the servants' hall.
Aretino is too powerful and fashionable to be aware of this. He poses
as the sage and satirist. But the revelation is none the less pungent
because it is made unconsciously. The Court, idealized by Castiglione,
censured by Guarini, inveighed against by La Casa, here shows its
inner rottenness for our inspection, at the pleasure of a charlatan
who thrives on this pollution. We hear how the valets of debauched
prelates, the parasites of petty nobles, the pimps who battened on the
vices of the rich, the flatterer who earned his bread by calumny and
lies, viewed this world of fashion, how they discussed it among
themselves, how they utilized its corruption. We shake hands with
ruffians and cut-throats, enter the Roman brothels by their back-door,
sit down in their kitchens, and become acquainted with the secrets of
their trade. It may be suggested that the knowledge supplied by
Aretino, if it concerns such details, is neither profitable nor
valuable. No one, indeed, who is not specially curious to realize the
manners of Renaissance Italy, should occupy his leisure with these

The _Cortigiana_ is a parody of Castiglione's _Cortegiano_. A Sienese
gentleman, simple and provincial, the lineal descendant of Pulci's
Messer Goro, arrives in Rome to make his fortune.[211] He is bent on
assuming the fine airs of the Court, and hopes to become at least a
Cardinal before he returns home. On his first arrival Messer Maco
falls into the clutches of a sharper, who introduces him to
disreputable society, under color of teaching him the art of
courtiership. The satire of the piece consists in showing Rome to be
the school of profligacy rather than of gentle customs.[212] Before he
has spent more than a few days in the Eternal City, the country squire
learns the slang of the _demi-monde_ and swaggers among courtesans and
rufflers. Maestro Andrea, who has undertaken his education, lectures
him upon the virtues of the courtier in a scene of cynical irony:[213]
"La principal cosa, il cortigiano vuol sapere bestemmiare, vuole
essere giuocatore, invidioso, puttaniere, eretico, adulatore,
maldicente, sconoscente, ignorante, asino, vuol sapere frappare, far
la ninfa, et essere agente e paziente." Some of these qualities are
understood at once by Messer Maco. Concerning others he asks for
further information: "Come si diventa eretico? questo è 'l
caso.--Notate.--Io nuoto benissimo.--Quando alcuno vi dice che in
Corte sia bontà, discrezione, amore, o conoscenza, dite no 'l credo
... in somma a chi vi dice bene de la Corte, dite: tu sei un
bugiardo." Again, Messer Maco asks: "Come si dice male?" The answer
is prompt and characteristic of Aretino:[214] "Dicendo il vero,
dicendo il vero." What Maestro Andrea teaches theoretically, is
expounded as a fact of bitter experience by Valerio and Flamminio, the
gentlemen in waiting on a fool of fortune named Parabolano.[215] These
men, admitted to the secrets of a noble household, know its inner
sordidness, and reckon on the vanity and passions of their patron. A
still lower stage in the scale of debasement is revealed by the
conversations of the lackeys, Rosso and Cappa, who discuss the foibles
of their master with the coarseness of the stables.[216] In so far as
the _Cortigiana_ teaches any lesson, it is contained in the
humiliation of Parabolano. His vices have made him the slave and
creature of foul-minded serving-men, who laugh together over the
disgusting details of his privacy, while they flatter him to his face
in order to profit by his frivolities.[217] Aretino's own experience
of life in Rome enabled him to make these pictures of the servants'
hall and antechamber pungent.[218] The venom engendered by years of
servitude and adulation is vented in his criticism of the Court as
censured from a flunkey's point of view. Nor is he less at home in
painting the pleasures of the class whom he has chosen for his critics
of polite society. Cappa's soliloquy upon the paradise of the tavern,
and Rosso's pranks, when he plays the gentleman in his master's fine
clothes, owe the effect of humor to their realistic verve.[219] We
feel them to be reminiscences of fact. These scenes constitute the
salt of the comedy, supported by vivid sketches of town
characters--the news-boy, the fisherman of the Tiber, and the
superannuated prostitute.[220]

[Footnote 211: "Egli è uno di quegli animali di tanti colori che il
vostro avolo comperò in cambio d'un papagallo" (act i. sc. 1).]

[Footnote 212: Its most tedious episode is a panegyric of Venice at
the expense of Rome (act iii. sc. 7).]

[Footnote 213: Act i. sc. 22.]

[Footnote 214: He makes the same point in the prologue to _La
Talenta_: "Chi brama d'acquistarsi il nome del più scellerato uomo che
viva, dica il vero."]

[Footnote 215: Act i. sc. 9; act ii. sc. 6; act ii. sc. 10; act iii.
sc. 7.]

[Footnote 216: See especially act i. sc. 7.]

[Footnote 217: Act iv. sc. 6.]

[Footnote 218: Notice the extraordinary virulence of his invective
against the _tinello_ or common room of servants in a noble household
(act v. sc. 15).]

[Footnote 219: Act ii. sc. 1; act i. scs. 11-18.]

[Footnote 220: Act i. sc. 4; act i. sc. 11; act ii. sc. 7.]

In the _Cortigiana_ it was Aretino's object to destroy illusions about
Court-life by describing it in all the vileness of reality.[221] The
_Marescalco_ is a study of the same conditions of society, with less
malignity and far more geniality of humor.[222] A rich fool has been
recommended by his lord and master, the Duke of Mantua, to take a
wife. He loathes matrimony, and shrinks from spending several thousand
ducats on the dower. But the parasites, buffoons and henchmen of the
prince persuade and bully him into compliance. He is finally married
to a page dressed as a woman, and his relief at discovering the sex of
his supposed wife forms the climax of the plot. The play is conducted
with so much spirit that we may not be wrong in supposing Shakspere in
_Twelfth Night_ and Ben Jonson in _Epicoene_ to have owed something
to its humor. We look, however, in vain for such fine creatures of the
fancy as Sir Toby Belch, or for a catastrophe so overwhelming as the
_crescendo_ of noise and bustle which subdue the obstinacy of Morose.
On the other hand, the two companion scenes in which Marescalco's
nurse enlarges on the luxuries of married life, while Ambrogio
describes its miseries, are executed with fine sense of comic

[Footnote 221: Act ii. sc. 6.]

[Footnote 222: Of all Aretino's plays the _Marescalco_ is the simplest
and the most artistically managed.]

[Footnote 223: Act i. sc. 6; act ii. sc. 5.]

In the _Talanta_ we return to Roman society. This comedy is a study of
courtesan life, analyzed with thorough knowledge of its details. The
character of Talanta, who plays her four lovers one against the other,
extracting presents by various devices from each of them, displays the
author's intimate acquaintance with his subject.[224] Talanta on the
stage is a worthy pendant to Nanna in the _Ragionamenti_. But the
intrigue is confused, tedious and improbable; and after reading the
first act, we have already seen the best of Aretino's invention. The
same may be said about the _Ipocrita_ and the _Filosofo_, two comedies
in which Aretino attempted to portray a charlatan of Tartufe's type
and a student helpless in his wife's hands. These characters are not
ill conceived, but they are too superficially executed to bear the
weight of the plot laid upon them. In like manner the pedant in the
_Marescalco_ and the swashbuckler in the _Talanta_ are rather
silhouettes than finished portraits. Though well sketched, they lack
substance. They have neither the lifelike movement of Shakspere's
minor persons, nor the impressive mechanism of Jonson's humors.
Bobadil and Master Holofernes, though caricatures, move in a higher
region of the comic art. The characters Aretino would imitate
supremely well, were a page like Giannico in the _Marescalco_, a
footman like Rosso in the _Cortigiana_, or a woman of the town like
Talanta. His comedies are never wanting in bustle and variety of
business; while the sarcasm of the author, flying at the
best-established reputations, sneering at the most fashionable
prejudices of society, renders them effective even now, when all the
jealousies he flouted have long been buried in oblivion.[225]

[Footnote 224: Talanta's apology for her rapacity and want of heart
(act i. sc. 1); the description of her by her lover Orfinio, who sees
through her but cannot escape her fascination (act i. sc. 7); the
critique of her by a sensible man (act i. sc. 12); her arts to bring
her lover back to his allegiance and wheedle the most odious
concessions (act i. sc. 13); her undisguised marauding (act i. sc.
14); these moments in the evolution of her character are set forth
with the decision of a master's style.]

[Footnote 225: The Prologue to the _Cortigiana_ passes all the
literary celebrities of Italy in review with a ferocity of sarcasm
veiled in irony that must have been extremely piquant. And take this
equivocal compliment to Molza from the _Marescalco_ (act v. sc. 3),
"il Molza Mutinense, che arresta con la sua fistola i torrenti."]

Bibbiena's _Calandra_ is a farce, obscene but not malignant. Ariosto's
comedies are studies of society from the standpoint of the middle
class. If he is too indulgent to human frailty, too tolerant of vice,
we never miss in him the wisdom of a genial observer. Machiavelli's
_Mandragola_ casts the dry light of the intellect on an abyss of evil.
Nothing but the brilliance of the poet's wit reconciles us to his
revelation of perversity. Aretino, by the animation of his sketches,
by his prurient delight in what is vile, makes us comprehend that even
the _Mandragola_ was possible. Machiavelli stands outside his subject,
like Lucifer, fallen but disdainful. Aretino is the Belial who
acknowledges corruption for his own domain. Ariosto and Machiavelli
are artists each in his kind perfect. Aretino is an _improvvisatore_,
clever with the pen he uses like a burin.

It would be difficult to render an account of the comedies produced
by the Italians in the sixteenth century, or to catalogue their
authors. A computation has been made which reckons the plays known to
students at several thousands. In spite of this extraordinary richness
in comic literature, Italy cannot boast of a great comedy. No poet
arose to carry the art onward from the point already reached when
Aretino left the stage. The neglect that fell on those innumerable
comedies, was not wholly undeserved. It is true that their scenes
suggested brilliant episodes to French and English playwrights of
celebrity. It is true that the historian of manners finds in them an
almost inexhaustible store of matter. Still they are literary
lucubrations rather than the spontaneous expression of a vivid
nationality. Nor have they the subordinate merit of dealing in a
scientific spirit with the cardinal vices and follies of society. We
miss the original plots, the powerful modeling of character, the
philosophical insight which would have reconciled us to a _Commedia

When we examine the plays of Firenzuola, Cecchi, Ambra, Gelli, Il
Lasca, Doni, Dolce, we find that a hybrid form of art had been
established by the practice of the earlier playwrights. This hybrid
implied Plautus and Terence as a necessary basis. It adopted the
fusion of Latin arguments with Italian manners which was so ably
realized by Ariosto and Machiavelli. It allowed something for the
farce traditions which the Rozzi made fashionable at Rome. It assumed
ingredients from the _Burle_ and _Novelle_ of the marketplace,
reproduced the language of the people, and made use of current
scandals to give piquancy to its conventional plots. But
notwithstanding the admixture of so many modern elements, the
stereotyped Latinism of its form rendered this comedy unnatural.
Ingenious _contaminatio_, to use a phrase in vogue among Roman
critics, was always more apparent than creative instinct.

The _Commedia erudita_ presented a framework ready-made to the
playwright, and easily accepted on the strength of usage by the
audience he sought to entertain. At the same time it left him free,
within prescribed limits, to represent the manners of contemporary
life. The main object of a great drama "to show the very age and body
of the time his form and pressure," is thrust into the second rank;
and the most valuable portions of these clever works of skill are
their episodes--such scenes, for example, as those which in the
_Aridosio_ of Lorenzino de' Medici reveal the dissoluteness of
conventual customs in a scholastic _rifacimento_ of the _Adelphi_ and
the _Mostellaria_.[226] Had the fusion of classical and modern
elements been complete as in the _Epicoene_ of Jonson, or had the
character-drawing been masterly as in Molière's _Avare_, we should
have no cause for complaint. But these are just the qualities of
success missed by the Italian playwrights. Their studies from nature
are comparatively slight. Having exhibited them in the presentation of
the subject or introduced them here and there by way of interludes,
they work the play to its conclusion on the lines of Latinistic

[Footnote 226: _Lorenzino de' Medici_, Daelli, Milano, 1862.]

[Footnote 227: The pseudo-classical hybrid I have attempted to
describe is analogous in its fixity of outline to the conventional
framework of the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_, which allowed a playwright
the same subordinate liberty of action and saved him the trouble of
invention to a like extent. It may here be noticed that the Italians
in general adopted stereotyped forms for dramatic representation.
Harlequin, Columbine, and Pantaloon, the Bolognese doctor, the
Stenterello of Florence, the Meneghino of Milan, and many other
dramatic types, recognized as stationary, yet admitting of infinite
variety in treatment by author or actor, are notable examples. In
estimating the dramatic genius of Italy this tendency to move within
defined and conventional limits of art, whether popular or literary,
must never be forgotten.]

Such being the form of _cinque cento_ comedy, it follows that its
details are monotonous. The characters are invariably drawn from the
ranks of the rich burgher classes; and if we may trust the evidence
furnished by the playwrights, the morality of these classes must have
been of an almost inconceivable baseness. We survey a society
separated from the larger interests than elevate humanity, without
public ambition or the sense of national greatness, excluded from the
career of arms, dead to honor, bent upon sensual enjoyment and petty
intrigues. The motive which sustains the plot, is illicit love; but in
its presentation there is no romance, nothing to cloak the animalism
of an unchecked instinct. The young men who play the part of _primi
amorosi_, are in debt or without money. It is their object to repair
their fortunes by a rich marriage, to secure a maintenance from a
neighbor's wife they have seduced, to satisfy the avarice of a greedy
courtesan, or to conceal the results of an intrigue which has brought
their mistress into difficulties. From the innumerable scenes devoted
to these elegant and witty scapegraces, it would be difficult to glean
a single sentence expressive of conscience, remorse, sense of loyalty
or generous feeling. They submit to the most odious bargains and
disreputable subterfuges, sacrificing the honor of their families or
the good fame of the women who depend upon them, to the attainment of
some momentary self-indulgence.[228] Without respect for age, they
expend their ingenuity in robbing their parents and exposing their
fathers to ridicule.[229] Nor is it possible to feel much sympathy for
the elders, who are so brutally used. The old man of these comedies is
either a superannuated libertine, who makes himself ridiculous by his
intrigues with a neighbor's wife, or a parsimonious tyrant, or else an
indulgent rake, who acts the pander for his good-for-nothing rascal of
a son.[230] Mere simpletons like Machiavelli's Nicia, or Aretino's
Messer Maco, furnish another type of irreverent age, unredeemed by the
comic humor of Falstaff or the gigantic lusts of Sir Epicure Mammon.
Between son and father the inevitable servant plays the part of clever
rogue. It is he who weaves the meshes of the intrigue that shall cut
the purse-strings of the stingy parent, blind the eyes of the husband
to his wife's adultery, or cheat the creditor of his dues. Our
sympathy is always enlisted on the side of the schemers; and however
base their tricks may be, we are invited to applaud the success which
crowns them. The girls are worthy of their lovers. Corrupted by
nurses; exposed to the contaminating influences of the convent;
courted by grooms and servants in their father's household; tampered
with by infamous duennas; betrayed by their own mothers or intrusted
by their fathers to notorious prostitutes; they accept the first
husband proposed to them by their parents, confident in the hope of
continuing clandestine intrigues with the neighbor's son who has
seduced them.[231] The wives are such as the _Novelle_ paint them,
yielding to the barest impulses of wantonness, and covering their
debauchery with craft that raises a laugh against the husbands they
have cozened. Such are the main actors, the conventional personages,
of the domestic comedy. The subordinate characters consist of
parasites and flatterers; ignorant pedants and swaggering _bravi_;
priests who ply the trade of pimps; astrologers who thrive upon the
folly of their clients; doctors who conceal births; prostitutes and
their attendant bullies; compliant go-betweens and rapacious bawds;
pages, street urchins, and officers of justice. The adulterous
intrigue required such minor persons as instruments; and it often
happens that scenes of vivid comic humor, dialogues of the most
brilliant Tuscan idiom, are suggested by the interaction of these
puppets, whose wires the clever valet and the _primo amoroso_ pull.

[Footnote 228: Cinthio's conduct towards Emilia in the _Negromante_ is
a good instance.]

[Footnote 229: See above, p. 163, note, for Cleandro in the
_Mandragola_; and compare Alamanno's conversation with his uncle Lapo,
his robbery of his mother's money-box, and his reflections on the loss
he should sustain by her re-marriage, in Gelli's _La Sporta_ (act iii.
5; ii. 2). Camillo's allusions to his father's folly in Gelli's
_Errore_ (act iv. 2) are no less selfish and heartless. Alamanno's
plot to raise a dower by fraud (_La Sporta_, iv. 1) may be compared
with Fabio's trick upon his stepmother in Cecchi's _Martello_. In the
latter his father takes a hand.]

[Footnote 230: Ghirigoro in Gelli's _Sporta_, Gherardo in Gelli's
_Errore_, Girolamo in Cecchi's _Martello_. It is needless to multiply
examples. The analyses of Machiavelli's comedies will suffice.]

[Footnote 231: It would be easy to illustrate each of these points
from the comedies of Ariosto, Cecchi, Machiavelli, Lorenzino de'
Medici; to which the reader may be referred _passim_ for proof.]

The point of interest for contemporary audiences was the _burla_--the
joke played off by a wife upon her husband, by rogues upon a
simpleton, by a son upon his father, by a servant on his master's
creditors, by a pupil on his pedantic tutor. Accepting the conditions
of a comedy so constructed, and eliminating ethical considerations, we
readily admit that these jokes are infinitely amusing. The scene in
Gelli's _Sporta_ where Ghirigoro de' Macci receives the confidences of
the youth who has seduced his daughter, under the impression that he
is talking about his money-box, is not unworthy of Molière's _Avare_.
Two scenes in Gelli's _Errore_, where Gherardo Amieri, disguised as an
old woman, is tormented by a street urchin whom his son has sent to
teaze him, and afterwards confronted by his angry wife, might have
adorned the _Merry Wives of Windsor_.[232] Cecchi's comedies in like
manner abound in comical absurdities, involving exquisitely realistic
pictures of Florentine manners.[233] For the student of language, no
less than for the student of Renaissance life, they are invaluable.
But the similarity of form which marks the comedies of the _cinque
cento_, renders it impossible to do justice to their details in the
present work. I must content myself with the foregoing sketch of their
structure derived from the perusal of such plays as were accessible in
print, and with the further observation that each eminent dramatist
developed some side of the common heritage transmitted by their common
predecessors. Thus Firenzuola continued the Latin tradition with
singular tenacity, adapting classical arguments in his _Lucidi_ and
_Trinuzia_ to modern themes with the same inimitable transparency of
style he had displayed in his _rifacimento_ of the _Golden Ass_.[234]
Gelli adapted the _Aulularia_ in his _Sporta_, and closely followed
the _Clizia_ in his _Errore_. The devotion professed for Machiavelli
by this playwright, was yielded by Cecchi to Ariosto; and thus we
notice two divergent strains of tradition within the circle of
Florentine art.[235] Cecchi was a voluminous dramatic writer. Besides
his comedies in _sdrucciolo_ and _piano_ verse, he composed _Sacre
Rappresentazioni_ and plays of a mixed kind derived from a free
handling of that elder form.[236] While Gelli and Cecchi severally
followed the example of Machiavelli and Ariosto, Il Lasca attempted to
free the Italian drama from the fetters of erudite convention.[237]
His comedies are exceedingly witty versions of _Novelle_, forming
dramatic pendants to his narratives in that style. Yet though he
strove to make the stage a mirror of contemporary customs, he could
not wholly escape from the mannerism into which the dramatic art had
fallen. Nor was it possible, now that the last gleam of liberty had
expired in Italy, when even Florence accepted her fate, and the
Inquisition was jealously watching every new birth of the press, to
create what the earlier freedom of the Renaissance had missed. The
drama was condemned to trivialities which only too faithfully
reflected the political stagnation, and the literary trifling of a
decadent civilization.[238]

[Footnote 232: _Opere di Gio. Battista Gelli_ (Milano, 1807), vol.

[Footnote 233: _Commedie di Giovan Maria Cecchi_, 2 vols., Lemonnier.]

[Footnote 234: _Opere di Messer Agnolo Firenzuola_ (Milano, 1802),
vol. v.]

[Footnote 235:

    E 'l divino Ariosto anco, a chi cedono
    Greci, Latini e Toscan, tutti i comici.

    Prologue to _I Rivali_.

    Ma che dirò di te, spirito illustre,
    Ariosto gentil, qual lode fia
    Uguale al tuo gran merto, al tuo valore?
    Cede a te nella comica palestra
    Ogni Greco e Latin, perchè tu solo
    Hai veramente dimostrato come
    Esser deve il principio, il mezzo e 'l fine
    Delle comedie, etc.

_Le Pellegrine_, Intermedio Sesto, published by Barbèra, 1855.]

[Footnote 236: See the "Esaltazione della Croce," _Sacre
Rappresentazioni_, Lemonnier, vol. iii. Compare those curious hybrid
plays, _Il Figliuolo Prodigo_, _La Morte del Re Acab_, _La Conversione
della Scozia_, in his collected plays (Lemonnier, 1856). _Lo Sviato_
may be mentioned as another of his comedies derived from the _Sacre
Rappr._ with a distinctly didactic and moral purpose.]

[Footnote 237: See Prologue to _La Strega_, and above, p. 124.]

[Footnote 238: I reserve for another chapter the treatment of the
Pastoral, which eventually proved the most original and perfect
product of the Italian stage.]

It is worthy of notice, as a final remark upon the history of the
comic stage, that at this very moment of its ultimate frustration
there existed the germ of a drama analogous to that of England, only
waiting to be developed by some master spirit. That was the _Farsa_,
which Cecchi, the most prolific, original and popular of Florentine
playwrights, deigned to cultivate.[239] He describes it thus: "The
_Farsa_ is a new third species between tragedy and comedy. It enjoys
the liberties of both, and shuns their limitations; for it receives
into its ample boundaries great lords and princes, which comedy does
not, and, like a hospital or inn, welcomes the vilest and most
plebeian of the people, to whom Dame Tragedy has never stooped. It is
not restricted to certain motives; for it accepts all subjects--grave
and gay, profane and sacred, urbane and rude, sad and pleasant. It
does not care for time or place. The scene may be laid in a church, or
a public square, or where you will; and if one day is not long
enough, two or three may be employed. What, indeed, does it matter to
the _Farsa_? In a word, this modern mistress of the stage is the most
amusing, the most convenient, the sweetest, prettiest country-lass
that can be found upon our earth."[240] He then goes on to describe
the liberty of language allowed in the _Farsa_, rounding off a picture
which exactly applies to our Elizabethan drama. The _Farsa_, in the
form it had assumed when Cecchi used it, was, in fact, the survival of
an ancient, obscure species of dramatic art, which had descended from
the period of classical antiquity, and which recently had blent with
the traditions of the _Sacre Rappresentazioni_. Had circumstances been
favorable to the development of a national drama in Italy, the popular
elements of the Pagan farce and the medieval Mystery would have
naturally issued through the _Farsa_ in a modern form of art analogous
to that produced in England. But the Italians had, as we have seen, no
public to demand the rehabilitation of the _Farsa_; nor was Cecchi a
Shakspere, or even a Marlowe, to prove, in the face of Latinizing
playwrights, that the national stage lay in its cradle here. It
remained for the poets of a far-off island, who disdained Italian
_jigs_ and owed nothing to the _Farse_ of either Florentine or
Neapolitan contemporaries, acting by instinct and in concert with the
sympathies of a great nation, to take this "sweetest, prettiest
country-lass" by the hand and place her side by side with Attic
Tragedy and Comedy upon the supreme throne of art.

[Footnote 239: The titles of his _Farse_ given by D'Ancona are _I
Malandrini_, _Pittura_, _Andazzo_, _Sciotta_, _Romanesca_.]

[Footnote 240: Prologue to the _Romanesca_, Firenze, Cenniniana,

The Italian comedies offer an even more startling picture of social
vice than the _Novelle_.[241] To estimate how far they represent a
general truth, is difficult; especially when we remember that they
were written in a conventional style, to amuse princes, academicians,
and prelates.[242] Comparing their testimony with that of private
letters and biographical literature (the correspondence, for example,
of Alessandra degli Strozzi, Alberti's treatise on the Family, and
statements gleaned from memoirs and _Ricordi_), we are justified in
believing that a considerable difference existed at the commencement
of this epoch between public and domestic manners in Italy; between
the Court and the home, the piazza and the fireside, the diversions of
fashionable coteries and the conversation of friends and kinsmen. The
family still retained some of its antique simplicity. And it was not
as yet vitiated by the institution of Cicisbeism. But the great world
was incredibly corrupt. Each Court formed a nucleus of dissolute
living. Rome, stigmatized successively by men so different as Lorenzo
de' Medici, Pietro Aretino, Gian-Giorgio Trissino, and Messer
Guidiccioni, poisoned the whole Italian nation. Venice entertained a
multitude of prostitutes, and called them _benemeritæ_ in public acts.
Since, therefore, these centers of aristocratic and literary life drew
recruits from the burgher and rural classes, the strongholds of
patriarchal purity were continually being sapped by contact with
fashionable uncleanliness. And thus in the sixteenth century a common
standard of immorality had been substituted for earlier severity of
manners. The convulsions of that disastrous epoch, following upon a
period of tranquillity, during which the people had become accustomed
to luxury, submerged whole families in vice. "Wars, famines, and the
badness of the times," wrote Aretino, "inclining men to give
themselves amusement, have so debauched all Italy (_imputtanita tutta
Italia_), that cousins and kinsfolk of both sexes, brothers and
sisters, mingle together without shame, without a shadow of
conscience."[243] Though it is preposterous to see Aretino posing as a
censor of morals, his acuteness was indubitable; nor need we suppose
that his acquaintance with the disease rendered him less sagacious in
detecting its causes. What Corio tells us about Lodovico Sforza's
capital, what we read about the excess of luxury into which the nobles
of Vicenza and Milan plunged, amid the horrors of the French and
Spanish occupation, confirms his testimony.[244] After the Black
Death, described by Matteo Villani, the Florentines consoled
themselves for previous sufferings by an outburst of profligate and
reckless living. So now they sought distraction in unbridled
sensuality. Society was in dissolution, and men lived for the moment,
careless of consequences. The immorality of the theater was at once a
sign and a source of this corruption. "O times! O manners!" exclaims
Lilius Giraldus:[245] "the obscenities of the stage return in all
their foulness. Plays are acted in every city, which the common
consent of Christendom had banned because of their depravity. Now the
very prelates of the faith, our nobles, our princes, bring them back
again among us, and cause them to be publicly presented. Nay, priests
themselves are eagerly ambitious of the infamous title of actors, in
order to bring themselves into notoriety, and to enrich themselves
with benefices."

[Footnote 241: Dolce in the Prologue to his _Ragazzo_ says that,
immodest as a comedy may be, it would be impossible for any play to
reproduce the actual depravity of manners.]

[Footnote 242: What I have already observed with regard to the
_Novelle_--namely, that Italy lacked the purifying and ennobling
influences of a real public, embracing all classes, and stimulating
the production of a largely designed, broadly executed literature of
human nature--is emphatically true also of her stage. The people
demand greatness from their authors--simplicity, truth, nobleness.
They do not shrink from grossness; they tolerate what is coarse. But
these elements must be kept in proper subordination. Princes, petty
coteries, academies, drawing-room patrons, the audience of the
antechamber and the boudoir, delight in subtleties, _doubles
entendre_, scandalous tales, Divorce Court arguments. The people
evokes Shakspere; the provincial Court breeds Bibbiena.]

[Footnote 243: _Cortigiana_, act ii. sc. 10.]

[Footnote 244: See Corio, quoted in _Age of the Despots_, p. 548, note
1. For Milanese luxury, Bandello, vol. i. pp. 219 _et seq._; vol. iv.
p. 115 (Milan edition, 1814). For Vicenza, Morsolin's _Trissino_, p.

[Footnote 245: _De Poet. Hist._ Dial. 8. Giraldi may have had men like
Inghirami, surnamed "Phædra," and Cardinal Bibbiena in view.]

It must not be supposed that the immorality of the comic stage
consists in the license of language, incident or plot. Had this been
all, we should hardly be justified in drawing a distinction between
the Italians of the Renaissance and our own Elizabethan playwrights.
It lies far deeper, in the vicious philosophy of life paraded by the
authors, in the absence of any didactic or satirical aim. Molière,
while exposing evil, teaches by example. A canon of goodness is
implied, from which the deformities of sin and folly are deflections.
But Machiavelli and Aretino paint humanity as simply bad. The palm of
success is awarded to unscrupulous villainy. An incapacity for
understanding the immutable power of moral beauty was the main disease
of Italy. If we seek the cause of this internal cancer, we must trace
the history of Italian thought and feeling back to the age of
Boccaccio; and we shall probably form an opinion that misdirected
humanism, blending with the impieties of a secularized Papacy, the
self-indulgence of the despots, and the coarse tastes of the
_bourgeoisie_, had sapped the conscience of society.



     The Idyllic Ideal--Golden Age--Arcadia--Sannazzaro--His
     Life--The Art of the _Arcadia_--Picture-painting--Pontano's
     Poetry--The Neapolitan Genius--Baiæ and
     Eridanus--Eclogues--The Play of _Cefalo_--Castiglione's
     _Tirsi_--Rustic Romances--Molza's Biography--The _Ninfa
     Tiberina_--Progress of Didactic Poetry--Rucellai's
     _Api_--Alamanni's _Coltivazione_--His Life--His
     Satires--Pastoral Dramatic Poetry--The _Aminta_--The _Pastor
     Fido_--Climax of Renaissance Art.

The transition from the middle ages to the Renaissance was marked by
the formation of a new ideal, which in no slight measure determined
the type of Italian literature. The faiths and aspirations of
Catholicism, whereof the _Divine Comedy_ remains the monument in art,
began to lose their hold on the imagination. The world beyond the
grave grew dim to mental vision, in proportion as this world, through
humanism rediscovered, claimed daily more attention. Poliziano's
contemporaries were as far removed from Dante's apprehension of a
future life as modern Evangelicals from Bunyan's vivid sense of sin
and salvation. This parallel, though it may seem strained, is close
enough to be serviceable. As the need of conversion is taken for
granted among Protestants, so the other world was then assumed to be
real. Yet neither the expectation of heavenly bliss nor the fear of
purgatorial pain was felt with that intense sincerity which inspired
Dante's cantos and Orcagna's frescoes. On both emotions the new
culture, appearing at one moment as a solvent through philosophical
speculation, at another as a corrosive in the skeptical and critical
activity it stimulated, was acting with destructive energy. The
present offered a distracting tumult of antagonistic passions,
harmonized by no great hope. The future, to those inexperienced
pioneers of modern thought, was dim, although the haze, through which
the vision came to them, seemed golden. Thus it happened that the
sensibilities of men athirst for some consoling fancy, took refuge in
the dream of a past happy age. Virgil's description of Saturn's reign:

    Au reus hanc vitam in terris Saturnus agebat,
    Necdum etiam audierant inflari classica, necdum
    Impositos duris crepitare incudibus enses:

fascinated their imagination, and they amused themselves with the
fiction of a primal state of innocence. Hesiod and the Metamorphoses
of Ovid, the Idyls of Theocritus and Virgil's Eclogues, legends of
early Greek civility, and romances of late Greek literature
contributed their several elements to this conception of a pastoral
ideal. It blent with Biblical reminiscences of Eden, with medieval
stories of the Earthly Paradise. It helped that transfusion of
Christian fancy into classic shape, for which the age was always
striving.[246] On one side the ideal was purely literary, reflecting
the artistic instincts of a people enthusiastic for form, and
affording scope for their imitative activity. But on the other side it
corresponded to a deep and genuine Italian feeling. That sympathy with
rustic life, that love of nature humanized by industry, that delight
in the villa, the garden, the vineyard, and the grove, which modern
Italians inherited from their Roman ancestors, gave reality to what
might otherwise have been but artificial. Vespasiano's anecdote of
Cosimo de' Medici pruning his own fruit-trees; Ficino's description of
the village feasts at Montevecchio; Flamminio's picture of his Latin
farm; Alberti's tenderness in gazing at the autumn fields--all these
have the ring of genuine emotion. For men who felt thus, the Age of
Gold was no mere fiction, and Arcady a land of possibilities.

[Footnote 246: See above, Part i. p. 170, for the Golden Age in the

What has been well called _la voluttà idillica_--the sensuous
sensibility to beauty, finding fit expression in the Idyl--formed a
marked characteristic of Renaissance art and literature. Boccaccio
developed this idyllic motive in all his works which dealt with the
origins of society. Poliziano and Lorenzo devoted their best poetry to
the praise of rural bliss, the happiness of shepherd folk anterior to
life in cities. The same theme recurs in the Latin poems of the
humanists, from the sonorous hexameters of the _Rusticus_ down to the
delicate hendecasyllables of the later Lombard school. It pervades the
elegy, the ode, the sonnet, and takes to itself the chiefest honors of
the drama. The vision of a Golden Age idealized man's actual enjoyment
of the country, and hallowed, as with inexplicable pathos, the details
of ordinary rustic life. Weary with Courts and worldly pleasures, in
moments of revolt against the passions and ambitions that wasted their
best energies, the poets of that century, who were nearly always also
men of state and public office, sighed for the good old times, when
honor was an unknown name, and truth was spoken, and love sincere, and
steel lay hidden in the earth, and ships sailed not the sea, and old
age led the way to death unterrified by coming doom. As time advanced,
their ideal took form and substance. There rose into existence, for
the rhymsters to wander in, and for the readers of romance to dream
about, a region called Arcadia, where all that was imagined of the
Golden Age was found in combination with refined society and manners
proper to the civil state. A literary Eldorado had been discovered,
which was destined to attract explorers through the next three
centuries. Arcadia became the wonder-world of noble youths and
maidens, at Madrid no less than at Ferrara, in Elizabeth's London and
in Marie Antoinette's Versailles. After engaging the genius of Tasso
and Guarini, Spenser and Sidney, it degenerated into quaint
conventionality. Companions of Turenne and Marlborough told tales of
pastoral love to maids of honor near the throne. Frederick's and Maria
Theresa's courtiers simpered and sighed like Dresden-china swains and
shepherdesses. Crooked sticks with ribbons at the top were a
fashionable appendage to red-heeled shoes and powdered perukes. Few
phenomena in history are more curious than the prolonged prosperity
and widespread fascination of this Arcadian romance.

To Sannazzaro belongs the glory of having first explored Arcadia,
mapped out its borders, and called it after his own name. He is the
Columbus of this visionary hemisphere. Jacopo Sannazzaro has more than
once above been mentioned in the chapters devoted to Latin poetry.
But the events of his life have not yet been touched upon.[247] His
ancestors claimed to have been originally Spaniards, settled in a
village of Pavia called S. Nazzaro, whence they took their name. The
poet's immediate forefather was said to have followed Charles of
Durazzo in 1380 to the south of Italy, where he received fiefs and
lands in the Basilicata. Jacopo was born at Naples in 1458, and was
brought up in his boyhood by his mother at S. Cipriano.[248] He
studied at Naples under the grammarian Junianus Maius,[249] and made
such rapid progress in both Greek and Latin scholarship as soon to be
found worthy of a place in Pontano's Academy. In that society he
assumed the pseudonym of Actius Sincerus. The friendship between
Pontano and Sannazzaro lasted without interruption till the former's
death in 1503. Their Latin poems abound in passages which testify to a
strong mutual regard, and the life-size effigies of both may still be
seen together in the church of Monte Oliveto at Naples.[250]
Distinction in scholarship was, after the days of Alfonso the
Magnanimous, a sure title to consideration at the Neapolitan Court.
Sannazzaro attached himself to the person of Frederick, the second son
of Ferdinand I.; and when this prince succeeded to the throne, he
conferred upon the poet a pension of 600 ducats and the pleasant
villa of Mergoglino between the city and Posillipo.[251] This
recompense for past service was considerably below the poet's
expectations and deserts; nor did he receive any post of state
importance. Yet Sannazzaro remained faithful through his lifetime to
the Aragonese dynasty. He attended the princes on their campaigns;
espoused their quarrels in his fierce and potent series of epigrams
against the Rovere and Borgia Pontiffs; and when Frederick retired to
France in 1501, he journeyed into exile with his royal master, only
returning to Naples after the ex-king's death. There Sannazzaro
continued to reside until his own death in 1530. His later years were
imbittered by the destruction of his Villa Mergellina during the
occupation of Naples by the imperial troops under the Prince of
Orange. But with the exception of this misfortune, he appears to have
passed a quiet and honorable old age, devoting himself to piety,
contributing to charitable works and church-building, and employing
his leisure in study and the society of a beloved lady, Cassandra

[Footnote 247: The chief sources of Sannazzaro's biography are a
section of his _Arcadia_ (_Prosa_, vii.), and his Latin poems. The
Sannazzari of Pavia had the honor of mention in Dante's _Convito_.
Among the poet's Latin odes are several addressed to the patron saint
of his race. See _Sannazarii op. omn. Lat. scripta_ (Aldus, 1535), pp.
16, 53, 56, 59.]

[Footnote 248: Elegy, "Quod pueritiam egerit in Picentinis," _op.
cit._ p. 27.]

[Footnote 249: Elegy, "Ad Junianum Maium Præceptorem," _op. cit._ p.

[Footnote 250: I may refer in particular to Sannazzaro's beautiful
elegy "De Studiis suis et Libris Joviani Pontani" among his Latin
poems, _op. cit._ p. 10. For their terra-cotta portraits, see above
_Revival of Learning_, p. 365.]

[Footnote 251: Sannazzaro's two odes on "Villa Mergellina" and "Fons
Mergellines" (_Op. cit._ pp. 31, 53), are among his purest and most
charming Latin compositions.]

In his early youth Sannazzaro formed a romantic attachment for a girl
of noble birth, called Carmosina Bonifacia. This love made him first a
poet; and the majority of his Italian verses may be referred to its
influence. They consist of sonnets and _canzoni_, modeled upon
Petrarch, but marked by independence of treatment, and spontaneity of
feeling. The puristic revival had not yet set in, and Sannazzaro's
style shows no servile imitation of his model. It may not be out of
place to give a specimen in translation of these early _Rime_. I have
chosen a sonnet upon jealousy, which La Casa afterwards found worthy
of rehandling:

    Horrible curb of lovers, Jealousy,
      That with one force doth check and sway my will;
      Sister of loathed and impious Death, that still
      With thy grim face troublest the tranquil sky;
    Thou snake concealed in laughing flowers which lie
      Rocked on earth's lap; thou that my hope dost kill;
      Amid fair fortunes thou malignant ill;
      Venom mid viands which men taste and die!
    From what infernal valley didst thou soar,
      O ruthless monster, plague of mortals, thou
      That darkenest all my days with misery o'er?
    Hence, double not these griefs that cloud my brow!
      Accurséd fear, why camest thou? Was more
      Needed than Love's keen shafts to make me bow?

About the reality of Sannazzaro's passion for Carmosina there can be
no doubt. The most directly powerful passages in the _Arcadia_ are
those in which he refers to it.[252] His southern temperament exposed
him to the fiercest pangs of jealousy; and when he found that love
disturbed his rest and preyed upon his health he resolved to seek
relief in travel. For this purpose he went to France; but he could not
long endure the exile from his native country; and on his return he
found his Carmosina dead. The elegies in which he recorded his grief,
are not the least poetical of his compositions both in Latin and
Italian.[253] After establishing himself once more at Naples,
Sannazzaro began the composition of the _Eclogæ Piscatoriæ_, in which
he has been said to have brought the pastoral Muses down to the sea
shore. The novelty of these poems secured for them no slight
celebrity. Nor are they without real artistic merit. The charm of the
sea is nowhere felt more vividly than on the bay of Naples, and
nowhere else are the habits of a fishing population more picturesque.
Nereids and Sirens, Proteus and Nisa, Cymothoe and Triton, are not out
of place in modern verses, which can commemorate Naples, Ischia and
Procida, under the titles of Parthenope, Inarime and Prochyte. Happy
indeed is the poet, if he must needs write Latin elegies, whose home
suggests such harmonies and cadences, for whom Baiæ and Cumæ and the
Lucrine Lake, Puteoli and Capreæ and Stabiæ, are household words, and
who looks from his study windows daily on scenes which realize the
mythology still lingering in names and memories around them by beauty
ever-present, inexpressible.

[Footnote 252: She is described in _Prosa_ iv., and frequently
mentioned under the name of _Arancio_ or _Amaranta_.]

[Footnote 253: See the Epitaph "Hic Amarantha jacet," the last Eclogue
of _Arcadia_, and the Latin eclogue "Mirabar vicina Mycon," in which
Carmosina is celebrated under the name of Phyllis. I may here call
attention to Pontano's elegy beginning "Harmosyne jacet hic" in the
_Tumuli_, lib. ii. (_Joannis Joviani Pontani Amorum Libri, etc._,
Aldus, 1518, p. 87).]

The second mistress of Sannazzaro's heart was a noble lady, Cassandra
Marchesa. He paid his addresses to her _more Platonico_, and chose her
for the object of refined compliments in classical and modern verse.
The Latin elegies and epigrams are full of her praises; and one of the
Eclogues, _Pharmaceutria_, is inscribed with her name. It would
scarcely have been necessary to mention this courtly attachment, but
for the pleasant light it casts upon Sannazzaro's character. The lady
whom he had celebrated and defended in his manhood, was the friend of
his old age. He is said to have died in her house.

The _Arcadia_ was begun at Nocera in Sannazzaro's youth, continued
during his first residence in France, and finished on his return to
Naples. So much can be gathered from its personal references. The book
blends autobiography and fable in a narrative of very languid
interest. The poet's circumstances and emotions in exile are described
at one moment in plain language, at another are presented with the
indirectness of an allegory. Arcadia in some passages stands for a
semi-savage country-district in France; in others it is the
dream-world of poetry and pastoral simplicity. But in either case its
scenery is drawn from Sannazzaro's own Italian home. The inhabitants
are shepherds such as Virgil fancied, with even more of personal
refinement. Through their lips the poet tells the tale of his own
love, and paints his Neapolitan mistress among the nymphs of Mount
Parthenion. Throughout, we note an awkward interminglement of
subjective and objective points of view. Realism merges into fancy.
Experience of life assumes the garb of myth or legend. Neither as an
autobiographical romance nor again as a work of pure invention has the
_Arcadia_ surpassing merit. Loose in construction and uncertain in
aim, it lacks the clearness and consistency of perfect art. And yet it
is a masterpiece; because its author, led by prescient instinct,
contrived to make it reflect one of the deepest and most permanent
emotions of his time. The whole pastoral ideal--the yearning after a
golden age, the beauty and pathos of the country, the felicity of
simple folk, the details of rustic life, the charm of woods and
gardens, the mythology of Pan and Satyrs, Nymphs and Fauns--all this
is expressed in a series of pictures, idyllically graceful,
artistically felt. It is not for its story that we read _Arcadia_, but
for the Feast of Pales, the games at Massilia's shrine, the Sacrifice
to Pan, Androgéo's tomb, the group of girls a-maying, the carved work
of the beechen cup, the passion of Carino, the gardens with their
flowers, and the bands of youths and maidens meeting under shadowy
trees to dance and play. Pictures like these are presented with a
scrupulous and loving sincerity, an anxious accuracy of studied style,
which proves how serious was the author. His heart, as an artist, is
in the realization of his dream-world; and his touch is firm and dry
and delicate as Mantegna's. Indeed, we are constantly reminded of the
Mantegnesque manner, and one reference justifies the belief that
Sannazzaro strove to reproduce its effect.[254] The sensuousness of
the Italian feeling for mere beauty is tempered with reticence and
something of the coldness of Greek marbles. In point of diction,
Boccaccio has been obviously imitated. But Boccaccio's style is not
revived, as Masuccio strove to revive it, with the fire and energy of
Southern passion substituted for its Tuscan irony and delicacy. On the
contrary, the periods are still more artificial, the turns of phrase
more tortured. Sannazzaro writes with difficulty in a somewhat
unfamiliar language, rendered all the more stubborn by his endeavors
to add classical refinements. Boccaccio's humor is gone; his
sensuality is purged by contact with antique examples; the waving
groves of the _Filocopo_ are clipped and tutored like box-hedges in an
academic garden. If there is less of natural raciness than came
unsummoned to Boccaccio's aid, there is more of Virgil and Theocritus
than he chose to appropriate. The slow deliberate expansion of each
picture, stroke by stroke and touch by touch, reminds us of the
_quattrocento_ painters; while the _précieuseté_ of the phrasing has
affinity to the manner of a late Greek stylist, especially perhaps,
though almost certainly unconsciously, to that of Philostratus. This
close correspondence of the _Arcadia_ to the main artistic sympathies
of the Renaissance, rendered it indescribably popular in its own age,
and causes it still to rank as one of the representative masterpieces
of the epoch. Through its peculiar blending of classical and modern
strains--the feasts of Pales and of Pan taking color from Capo di
Monte superstitions; the nymphs of wood and river modeled after girls
from Massa and Sorrento; the yellow-haired shepherds of Mount Mænalus
singing love-laments for Neapolitan Carmosina--we are enabled more
nearly than in almost any other literary essay to appreciate the
spirit of the classical revival as it touched Italian art. A little
earlier, there was more of spontaneity and _naïveté_. A little later,
there was more of conscious erudition and consummate skill. The
_Arcadia_ comes midway between the _Filocopo_ and the _Pastor Fido_.

[Footnote 254: In _Prosa_ xi. he mentions a vase painted by the
"Padoano Mantegna, artefice sovra tutti gli altri accorto ed

It is time to turn from dissertation, and to detach, almost at
haphazard, some of those descriptions which render the _Arcadia_ a
storehouse of illustrations to the pictures of the fifteenth century.
I will first select the frescoes on the front of Pales' chapel,
endeavoring so far as possible to reproduce the intricacies and quaint
affectations of the style.[255] The constant abuse of epithets, and
the structure of the period by means of relatives, pegging its clauses
down and keeping them in their places, will be noticed as part of the
Boccaccesque tradition. "Intending now to ratify with souls devout the
vows which had been made in former times of need, upon the smoking
altars, all together in company we went unto the sacred temple, along
whose frontal, raised upon a few ascending steps, we found above the
doorway painted certain woods and hills of most delightful beauty,
full of leafy trees and of a thousand sorts of flowers, among the
which were seen many herds that went a-pasture, wending at pleasure
through green fields, with peradventure ten dogs to guard them, the
footsteps of the which upon the dust were traced most natural to the
view. Of the shepherds, some were milking, some shearing wool, others
playing on pipes, and there were there a few, who, as it seemed, were
singing and endeavoring to keep in tune with these. But that which
pleased me to regard with most attention were certain naked Nymphs,
the which behind a chestnut bole stayed, as it were, half-hidden,
laughing at a ram, who, in his eagerness to gnaw a wreath of oak that
hung before his eyes, forgot to feed upon the grass around him. In
that while came four Satyrs, with horns upon their heads and goat's
feet, stealing through a shrubbery of lentisks, softly, softly, to
take the maidens from behind. Whereof when they were ware, they took
to flight through the dense grove, shunning nor thorns nor aught else
that might annoy them; and of these one, nimbler than the rest, was
clinging to a hornbeam's branches, and thence, with a long bough in
her hands, defending herself. The others had cast themselves through
fright into a river, wherethrough they fled a-swimming; and the clear
water hid little or but nothing of their snow-white flesh. But whenas
they saw themselves escaped, they sat them down on the further bank,
fordone with toil and panting, drying their soaked hair, and thence
with word and gesture seemed to mock at those who had not shown the
power to capture them. And in one of the sides there was Apollo, with
the yellowest hair, leaning upon a wand of wild olive, and watching
Admetus' herds beside a river-bed; and thus, intently gazing on two
sinewy bulls which jousted with their horns, he was not ware of wily
Mercury, who in a shepherd's habit, with a kid-skin girded under his
left shoulder, stole the cows away from him. And in that same space
stood Battus, the bewrayer of the theft, transformed into a stone,
stretching his finger forth in act of one who pointed. A little lower,
Mercury was seen again, seated upon a large stone, and playing with
swollen cheeks upon a rustic pipe, while his eyes were turned to mark
a white calf close beside him, and with most cunning arts he strove to
cozen Argus of the many eyes. On the other side, at the foot of an
exceeding high oak-tree, was stretched a shepherd asleep among his
goats; and a dog stayed near him, smelling at his pouch, which lay
beneath his head; and he, forasmuch as the moon gazed at him with
glad eyes, methought must be Endymion. Next to him was Paris, who with
his sickle had begun to carve _Oenone_ on an elm-tree's bark, and
being called to judge between the naked goddesses that stood before
him, had not yet been able to complete his work. But what was not less
subtle in the thought than pleasant in the seeing was the shrewdness
of the wary painter, who, having made Juno and Minerva of such extreme
beauty that to surpass them was impossible, and doubting of his power
to make Venus so lovely as the tale demanded, had painted her with
back turned, covering the defect of art by ingenuity of invention. And
many other things right charming and most beautiful to look upon, of
the which I now have but a faulty memory, I saw there painted upon
divers places." It is clear that Sannazzaro had not read Lessing's
_Laocoon_ or noted the distinctions between poetry and painting. Yet
in this he was true to the spirit of his age; for actions no less
continuous than some of those described by him, may be found
represented in the frescoes of Gozzoli or Lippo Lippi.

[Footnote 255: _Prosa_ iii.]

The finished portrait of Sannazzaro's mistress Carmosina shall supply
my next question.[256] The exile is listening to shepherds singing,
and one of them has mentioned Amaranta. He knows that she is present,
and resolves to choose her by her gestures from the rest. "With wary
glance, watching now one and now another, I saw among the maidens one
who seemed to me the loveliest. Her hair was covered with a very thin
veil, beneath which two eyes, lovely and most brilliant, sparkled not
otherwise than the clear stars are wont to shine in a serene and
limpid sky; and her face, inclining somewhat to the oval more than the
round, of fair shape, with pallor that was not unpleasing, but
tempered, as it were toward dark complexion turning, and relieved
therewith by vermeil and gracious hues, filled with joy of love the
eyes that gazed on her. Her lips were of the sort that surpass the
morning roses; between the which, each time she spoke or smiled, she
showed some portion of her teeth, of such rare and marvelous grace
that I could not have compared them to aught else but orient pearls.
Thence passing down to her marble and delicate throat, I saw upon that
tender bosom the slight and youthful breasts, which, like two rounded
apples, thrust her robe of finest texture somewhat forward; and in the
midst of them I could discern the fairest little way, exceeding
pleasant to the sight, the which, because it ended and escaped the
view, was reason why I dwelt thereon with greater force of thought.
And she, with most delicate gait and a gentle and aspiring stature,
went through the fair fields, with her white hand plucking tender
flowers. With the which when she had filled her lap, no sooner had the
singing youth within her hearing mentioned Amaranta, than, dropping
her hands and gathered robe, and as it were lost to her own
recollection, without her knowing what befell, they all slid from her
grasp, sowing the earth with peradventure twenty sorts of colors.
Which, as though suddenly brought to herself, when she perceived, she
blushed not otherwise than sometimes reddens the enchanted moon with
rosy aspect, or as, upon the issuing of the sun, the red Aurora shows
herself to mortal gaze. Whereupon she, not for any need methinks
compelling her thereto, but haply hoping better thus to hide the
blushes that came over her, begotten by a woman's modesty, bent toward
earth again to pick them up, as though she cared for only that,
choosing the white flowers from the crimson and the dark blue from the
violet blossoms." Amaranta makes a pretty picture, but one which is
too elaborate in detail. Her sisterhood is described with touches more
negligent, and therefore the more artful.[257] "Some wore garlands of
privet with yellow buds and certain crimson intermingled; others had
white lilies and purple mixed with a few most verdant orange leaves
between; one went starred with roses, and yon other whitened with
jasmines. So that each by herself and altogether were more like to
divine spirits than to human creatures. Whereupon many men there
present cried with wonder: O blessed the possessor of such beauties!"
The young swains are hardly less attractive than their nymphs.[258]
"Logisto and Elpino, shepherds, comely of person and in years within
the bounds of earliest youth: Elpino guardian of goats, Logisto of the
woolly sheep: both with hair yellower than ripe ears of corn; both of
Arcadia; both fit alike to sing and to make answer."

[Footnote 256: _Prosa_ iv.]

[Footnote 257: _Prosa_ iv.]

[Footnote 258: _Ibid._]

Sannazzaro's touch upon inanimate nature is equally precise. Here is a
description of the evening sky.[259] "It was the hour when sunset
embroidered all the west with a thousand varieties of clouds; some
violet, some darkly blue, and certain crimson; others between yellow
and black, and a few so burning with the fire of backward-beaten rays
that they seemed as though of polished and finest gold." Here is a
garden:[260] "Moved by sympathy for Ergasto, many shepherds had
moreover wrought the place about with high hedges, not of thorns or
briars, but of junipers, roses and jasmines, and had delved therein
with their mattocks a pastoral seat, and at even spaces certain towers
of rosemary and myrtles interwoven with the most incomparable art."
Here are flowers:[261] "There were lilies, there privets, there
violets toned to amorous pallor, and in large abundance the slumberous
poppies with their leaning heads, and the ruddy spikes of the immortal
amaranth, most comely of coronals mid winter's rudeness."

[Footnote 259: _Prosa_ v.]

[Footnote 260: _Prosa_ x.]

[Footnote 261: _Ibid._]

The same research of phrase marks the exhibition of emotion. Carino,
the shepherd, tells how, overwhelmed with grief, he lay upon the
ground and seemed lost to life:[262] "Came the oxherds, came the
herdsmen of the sheep and goats, together with the peasants of the
neighboring farms, deeming me distraught, as of a truth indeed I was;
and all with deepest pity asked the reason of my woe. Unto whom I made
no answer, but, minding my own weeping, thus with lamentable voice
exclaimed: You of Arcady shall sing among your mountains of my death!
You of Arcady, who only have the art of song, you of my death shall
sing amid your mountains!" His complaint extends to a length which
defies quotation. But here is an extract from it:[263] "O gods of
heaven and earth, and whosoe'er ye are who have regard for wretched
lovers, lend, I pray, your ears of pity to my lamentation, and listen
to the dolent cries my tortured spirit sendeth forth! O Naiads,
dwellers in the running water brooks! O Napean nymphs, most gracious
haunters of far places and of liquid fonts, lift up your yellow
tresses but a little from the crystal waves, and receive these my last
cries before I perish! O you, O fairest Oreads, who naked on the
hanging cliffs are wont to go achase, leave now your lofty mountain
realm, and in my misery visit me, for I am sure to win your sorrow by
what brings my cruel maid delight! Come forth from your trees, O
pitying Hamadryads, ye anxious guardians over them, and turn your
thoughts a little toward the martyrdom these hands of mine prepare for
me! And you, O Dryads, most beauteous damsels of the woods profound,
ye who not once but many and many a time have watched our shepherds at
the fall of eve in circle dancing neath the shadow of cool walnut
trees, with yellowest curls a-ripple down their snow-white necks,
cause now I pray, if you are not with my too changeful fortune
changed, that mid these shades my death may not be mute, but ever grow
from day to day through centuries to come, so that the tale of years
life lacks, may go to lengthen out my fame!"

[Footnote 262: _Prosa_ viii.]

[Footnote 263: _Ibid._]

For English students the _Arcadia_ has a special interest, since it
begot the longer and more ambitious work of Sir Philip Sidney.
Hitherto I have spoken only of its prose; but the book blends prose
and verse in alternating sections. The verse consists of mingled
_terza rima_, _canzoni_ and sestines. Not less artificial and
decidedly less original than the prose, Sannazzaro's lyrics and
eclogues do not demand particular attention. He put needless restraint
upon himself by affecting the awkwardness of _sdrucciolo_ rhymes[264];
and he lacked the roseate fluency, the winning ease, the unaffected
graces of Poliziano. One sestine, sung by himself among the shepherds
of Arcady, I have translated, because it paints the actual conditions
of life which drove Sannazzaro into his first exile.[265] But the
singularly charmless form adopted, which even Petrarch hardly rendered
tolerable, seems to check the poet's spontaneity of feeling.

[Footnote 264: Even in this Sidney tried to follow him, with an effect
the clumsiness of which can only be conceived by those who have read
his triple rhyming English _terza rima_.]

[Footnote 265: _Egloga_ vii.]

    Even as a bird of night that loathes the sun,
    I wander, woe is me, through places dark,
    The while refulgent day doth shine on earth;
    Then when upon the world descendeth eve,
    I cannot, like all creatures, sink in sleep,
    But wake to roam and weep among the fields.

    If peradventure amid woods and fields,
    Where shines not with his radiance the sun,
    Mine eyes, o'er-tired with weeping, close in sleep,
    Harsh dreams and wandering visions, vain and dark,
    Affright me so that still I shrink at eve,
    For fear of sleep, from resting on the earth.

    O universal mother, kindly earth,
    Shall't ever be that, stretched on verdant fields,
    In slumber deep, upon that latest eve,
    I ne'er shall wake again, until the sun
    Rise to reveal his light to eyelids dark,
    And stir my soul again from that long sleep?

    From that first moment when I banished sleep,
    And left my bed to lay myself on earth,
    The cloudless days for me were drear and dark,
    And turned to stubbly straw the flowery fields;
    So that when morn to men brings back the sun,
    It darkens round mine eyes in shadowy eve.

    My lady, of her kindness, came one eve,
    Joyous and very fair, to me in sleep,
    And gladdened all my heart, even as the sun,
    When rains are past, is wont to clear the earth;
    And said to me: Come, gather from my fields
    Some flow'ret; cease to haunt those caverns dark.

    Fly hence, fly hence, ye tedious thoughts and dark,
    That have obscured me in so long an eve!
    For I'll go seek the sunny smiling fields,
    Taking upon their herbage honeyed sleep:
    Full well I know that ne'er man made of earth
    More blest than now I am beheld the sun!

    Song, in mid eve thou'lt see the orient sun,
    And me neath earth among those regions dark,
    Or e'er on yonder fields I take my sleep.

Whether the distinctively Neapolitan note can be discerned in
Sannazzaro, seems more than doubtful. As in his Sapphic Odes and
Piscatory Eclogues, so also in his _Arcadia_ we detect the working of
a talent self-restrained within the limits of finely-tempered taste.
The case is very different with Pontano's Latin elegies and
lyrics.[266] They breathe the sensuality and self-abandonment to
impulse of a Southern temperament. They reflect the profuseness of
nature in a region where men scarcely know what winter means, her
somewhat too nakedly voluptuous beauties, her volcanic energies and
interminglement of living fire with barren scoriæ. For this reason,
and because there is some danger of neglecting the special part played
by the Southern Province in Italian literary history, I am induced to
digress from the main topic of this chapter in the direction of
Pontano's poetry.

[Footnote 266: From my chapter on Latin poetry in the _Revival of
Learning_ I purposely omitted more than a general notice of Pontano's
erotic verses, intending to treat of them thereafter, when it should
be necessary to discuss the Neapolitan contribution in Italian
literature. The lyrics and elegies I shall now refer to, are found in
two volumes of _Pontani Opera_, published by Aldus, 1513 and 1518.
These volumes I shall quote together, using the minor titles of
_Amorum_, _Hendecasyllabi_, and so forth, and mentioning the page. I
am sorry that I have not a uniform edition of his Latin poetry (if
that, indeed, exists, of which I doubt) before me.]

Though a native of Cerreto in Umbria, Pontano passed his life at
Naples, and became, if we may trust the evidence of his lyrics, more
Neapolitan than the Neapolitans. In him the southern peoples found a
voice, which, though it uttered a dead language, expressed their
sentiments. It is unlucky that Pontano, who deserves to be reckoned as
the greatest poet of Naples, should have made this important
contribution to Italian literature in Latin. Whether at that moment he
could have spoken so freely in the vulgar tongue is more than
doubtful. But be that as it may, we must have recourse to his Latin
poems, in order to supply a needed link in the chain of Italian
melody. Carducci acutely remarked that, more than any other poems of
the century, they embody "the æsthetic and learned reaction against
the mystical idealism of Christianity in a preceding age." They do so
better than Beccadelli's, because, where the _Hermaphroditus_ is
obscene, the _Eridanus_, _Baiæ_, _Amor Conjugalis_, _Pompæ_, _Næniæ_
of Pontano are only sensual. The cardinal point in Pontano is the
breadth of his feeling. He touches the whole scale of natural emotions
with equal passion and sincerity. The love of the young man for his
sweetheart, the love of the husband for his bride, the love of a
father for his offspring, the love of a nurse for her infant charge,
find in his verse the same full sensuous expression. In Pontano there
is no more of Teutonic _Schwärmerei_ than of Dantesque transcendentalism.
He does not make us marvel how the young man, who has embroidered odes
upon the theme of _Alma Pellegrina_, or who has woven violet and
moonshine into some _Du bist wie eine Blume_, can submit to light the
hymeneal torch and face the prose of matrimony. Within the limits of
unsophisticated instinct he is perfectly complete and rounded to a
flawless whole. He does not say one thing and leave another to be
understood--a contradiction that imports some radical unreality into
the Platonic or sentimental modes of sexual expression. He expects
woman to weigh but little less than man in scales of natural appetite.
And yet his Muse is no mere vagrant Venus. She is a respectable if
not, according to our present views, an altogether decent Juno. The
final truth about her is that she revealed to her uniquely gifted
bard, on earth and in the shrine of home, that poetry of love which
Milton afterwards mythologized in Eden. The note of unadulterated
humanity sounds with a clearness that demands commemoration in this
poetry of passion. It is, if not the highest, yet the frankest and
most decided utterance of mutual, legitimate desire. As such, it
occupies an enviable place in the history of Italian love--equally
apart from _trecento_ sickliness and _cinque cento_ corruption;
unrefined perchance, but healthy; doing justice to the proletariate of
Naples whence it sprung.

Pontano paints all primitive affections in a way to justify his want
of reticence. His Fannia, Focilla, Stella, Ariadne, Cinnama--mistress
or wife, we need not stop to question--are the very opposite of
Dante's or of Petrarch's loves.[267] Liberal of their charms,
rejoicing like the waves of the Chiaja in the laughter of the open
day, they think it no shame to unbare their beauties to their lover's
eyes, or to respond with ardor to his caresses. Christian modesty,
medieval asceticism, the strife between the spirit and the flesh, the
aspiration after mystic modes of feeling, have been as much forgotten
in their portraits, as though the world had never undergone reaction
against paganism. And yet they differ from the women of the Roman
elegiac poets. They are less artificial than Corinna. Though "the
sweet witty soul of Ovid" passed over these honeyed elegies, the
Neapolitan poet remains a _bourgeois_ of the fifteenth century. His
passion is unreservedly sensual and at the same time tenderly
affectionate. Its motive force is sexual desire; its depth and
strength are in the love a husband and a father feels. Given the
verses upon Fannia alone, we should be justified in calling Pontano a
lascivious poet. The three books _De Amore Conjugali_ show him in a
different light. He there expounds the duties and relations of the
family with the same robust and unaffected force of feeling he had
shown in the description of a wanton. After painting his Stella with
the gusto of an Italian Rubens, he can turn to shed tears almost
sublime in their pathos over the tomb of Lucia his daughter, or to
write a cradle-song for his son Luciolus.[268] The carnal appetites
which are legitimated by matrimony and hallowed in domestic
relations, but which it is the custom of civilized humanity to veil,
assume a tone of almost Bacchic rapture in this fluent Latin verse.
This constitutes Pontano's originality. Such a combination has never
been presented to the world before or since. The genial bed, from
which he draws his inspiration, found few poets to appreciate it in
ancient days, and fewer who have dared to celebrate it so unblushingly
among the moderns.[269]

[Footnote 267: Fannia is the most attractive of these women. See
_Amorum_, lib. i. pp. 4, 5, 13. Stella, the heroine of the _Eridani_,
is touched with greater delicacy. Cinnama seems to have been a girl of
the people. Pontano borrows for her the language of popular poetry
(_Amorum_, i. 19).

    Ipsa tibi dicat, mea lux, mea vita, meus flos,
      Liliolumque meum, basiolumque meum.
    Carior et gemmis, et caro carior auro,
      Tu rosa, tu violæ, tu mihi lævis onyx.]

[Footnote 268: Among the most touching of his elegiac verses is the
lament addressed to his dead wife upon the death of their son Lucius,
_Eridanorum_, lib. ii. p. 134. The collection of epitaphs called
_Tumuli_ bears witness to the depth and sincerity of his sorrow for
the dead, to the all-embracing sympathy he felt for human grief. The
very original series of lullabies, entitled _Næniæ_, illustrate the
warmth of his paternal feeling. The nursery has never before or since
been celebrated with such exuberance of fancy--and in the purest
Ovidian elegiacs! It may, however, be objected that there is too much
about wet-nurses in these songs.]

[Footnote 269: Pontano revels in Epithalamials and pictures of the
joys of wedlock. See the series of elegies on Stella, _Eridanorum_,
lib. i. pp. 108, 111, 113, 115; the congratulation addressed to
Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, _Hendecasyllaborum_, lib. i. p. 194; and
two among the many Epithalamial hymns, _Hendec._ lib. i. p. 195;
_Lepidina_ Pompa 7, p. 172, with its reiterated "Dicimus o hymenæe Io
hymen hymenæe." The sensuality of these compositions will be too frank
and fulsome for a chastened taste; but there is nothing in them extra
or infra-human.]

The same series of Pontano's poems may be read with no less profit for
their pictures of Neapolitan life.[270] He brings the baths of Baiæ,
unspoiled as yet by the eruption from Monte Nuovo, vividly before us;
the myrtle-groves and gardens by the bay; the sailors stretched along
the shore; the youths and maidens, flirting as they bathe or drink the
waters, their evening walks, their little dinners, their assignations;
all the round of pleasure in a place and climate made for love. Or we
watch the people at their games, crowded together on those high-built
carts, rattling the tambourine and dancing the tarantella--as near to
fauns and nymphs in shape as humanity well may be.[271] Each mountain
and each stream is personified; the genii of the villages, the Oreads
of the copses, the Tritons of the waves, come forth to play with

    Claudicat hinc heros Capimontius, et de summo
    Colle ruunt misti juvenes mistæque puellæ;
    Omnis amat chorus, et juncti glomerantur amantes.
    Is lento incredit passu, baculoque tuetur
    Infirmum femur, et choreis dat signa movendis,
    Assuetus choreæ ludisque assuetus amantum.

[Footnote 270: _Hendecasyllaborum_, lib. i. and ii. pp. 186-218. If
one of these lyrics should be chosen from the rest, I should point to
"Invitantur pueri et puellæ ad audiendum Charitas," p. 209. It begins
"Ad myrtum juvenes venite, myrti."]

[Footnote 271: For such glimpses into actual life, see _Lepidina_, pp.
160-174, in which a man and woman of Naples discourse of their first
loves and wedlock. The Eclogues abound in similar material.]

[Footnote 272: _Lepidina_, p. 168. Capimontius is easily recognized as
Capo di Monte.]

Nor are these personifications merely frigid fictions. The landscape
of Naples lends itself to mythology, not only because it is so
beautiful, but because human life and nature interpenetrate, as
nowhere else in Europe, on that bay. Pontano has a tale to tell of
every river and every grove--how Adonis lives again in the orange
trees of Sorrento, how the Sebeto was a boy beloved by one of Nereus'
daughters and slain by him in anger.[273] His tendency to
personification was irresistible. Not content, like Sannazzaro, with
singing the praises of his villa, he feigns a Nympha Antiniana, whom
he invokes as the Muse of neo-Latin lyric rapture.[274] In the
melodious series of love-poems entitled _Eridanus_, he exercises the
same imaginative faculty on Lombard scenery. After closing this little
book, we seem to be no less familiar with the "king of rivers,"
Phaethon, and the Heliades, than with the living Stella, to frame
whose beauty in a fitting wreath these fancies have been woven.[275]
Even the Elegy, which he used so freely and with so complete a
pleasure in its movement, becomes for him a woman, with specific form
and habit, and a love tale taken from some Propertian memory of he
poet's Umbrian home. To quote Pontano is neither easy nor desirable.
Yet I cannot resist the inclination to present Dame Elegia in her
Ionian garb in part at least before a modern audience.[276]

    Huc ades, et nitidum myrto compesce capillum,
      Huc ades ornatis o Elegia comis.
    Inque novam venias cultu prædivite formam,
      Laxa fluat niveos vestis adusque pedes.
    Quaque moves, Arabum spires mollissima nardum,
      Lenis et Assyrio sudet odore liquor.
    Tecum etiam Charites veniant, tua cura, puellæ,
      Et juvet insolita ducere ab arte choros.
    Tu puerum Veneris primis lasciva sub annis
      Instruis, et studio perficis usque tuo.
    Hinc tibi perpetuæ tribuit Cytherea juventæ
      Tempora, neu formæ sint mala damna tuæ;
    Ergo ades, et cape, diva, lyram, sed pectine molli,
      Sed moveas dulci lenia fila sono.
    Quinetiam tu experta novos, ni fallor, amores,
      Dulcia supposito gramine furta probas.
    Namque ferunt, patrios vectam quandoque per Umbros,
      Clitumni liquidis accubuisse vadis:
    Hic juvenem vidisse, atque incaluisse natantem,
      Et cupisse ulnas iner habere tuas.
    Quid tibi lascivis, puer o formose, sub undis?
      Deliciis mage sunt commoda prata tuis.
    Hic potes e molli viola junxisse coronam,
      Et flavam vario flore ligare comam;
    Hic potes et gelida somnum quæsisse sub umbra,
      Et lassum viridi ponere corpus humo;
    Hic et adesse choris Dryadum, et saluisse per herbas,
      Molliaque ad teneros membra movere modos.
    Hic juvenis succensus amor, formamque secutus
      Et facilem cantum, quo capis ipsa deos,
    Tecum inter salices, sub amicta vitibus ulmo,
      In molli junxit candida membra toro;
    Inter et amplexus lassi jacuistis uterque,
      Et repetita venus dulce peregit opus.

[Footnote 273: See _De Hortis Hesperidum_, p. 139, and _Amorum_, lib.
ii. p. 33.]

[Footnote 274: _Versus Lyrici_, pp. 91-94.]

[Footnote 275: See, for example, the elegy "De Venere lavante se in
Eridano et quiescente," _Erid._ lib. i. p. 118.]

[Footnote 276: _De Amore Conjugali_, lib. i. p. 35. "Hither, and bind
with myrtle thy shining hair! O hither, Elegia, with the woven
tresses! Take a new form of sumptuous grace, and let thy loose robe
flutter to thy snow-white feet. And where thou movest, breathe Arabian
nard, and blandest perfume of Assyrian unguents. Let the girl Graces
come, thy charge, with thee, and take their joy in dances woven with
unwonted arts. Thou in his earliest years dost teach he boy of Venus,
and instruct him in thy lore. Wherefore Cytherea gives thee perpetual
youth, that never may thy beauty suffer decrease. Come hither, then,
and take, O goddess, thy lyre, but with a gentle quill, and move the
soft strings to a dulcet sound. Nay, thou thyself hast tried new
pleasures, and knowest the sweet thefts of lovers laid on meadow
grass. For they say that, wandering once in Umbria, my home, thou
didst lie down beside Clitumnus' liquid pools; and there didst see a
youth, and dote upon him while he swam, and long to hold him in thine
arms. What dost thou, beauteous boy, beneath the wanton waves? These
fields are better suited to thy joys! Here canst thou weave a violet
wreath, and bind thy yellow hair with flowers of many a hue! Here
canst thou sleep beneath cool shade, and rest thy body on the verdant
ground! Here join the dances of the Dryads, and leap along the sward,
and move thy supple limbs to tender music! The youth inflamed with
this, and eager for the beauty and the facile song, wherewith thou
captivatest gods, with thee among the willows, under a vine-mantled
elm, joined his white limbs upon a grassy bed, and both enjoyed the
bliss of love."]

That this poet was no servile imitator of Tibullus or Ovid is clear.
That he had not risen to their height of diction is also manifest. But
in Pontano, as in Poliziano, Latin verse lived again with new and
genuine vitality.

If it were needful to seek a formal return from this digression to the
subject of my chapter there would be no lack of opportunity. Pontano's
Eclogues, the description of his gardens, his vision of the golden
age and his long discourse on the cultivation of orange trees,
justify our placing him among the strictly pastoral poets.[277] In
treating of the country he displays his usual warmth and sensuous
realism. He mythologizes; but his myths are the substantial forms of
genuine emotion and experience. The Fauns he talks of, are such lads
as even now may be seen upon the Ischian slopes of Monte Epomeo, with
startled eyes, brown skin, and tangled tresses tossed adown their
sinewy shoulders. The Bacchus of his vintage has walked, red from the
wine-press, crowned with real ivy and vine, and sat down at the poet's
elbow, to pledge him in a cup of foaming must.

[Footnote 277: I will only refer in detail to the elegy entitled
"Lætatur in villa et hortis suis constitutis" (_De Amore Conjugali_,
lib. ii. p. 52). The two books _De Hortis Hesperidum_ (Aldus, 1513,
pp. 138-159), compose a typical didactic poem.]

While Sannazzaro was exploring Arcadia at Naples, Poliziano had
already transferred pastoral poetry to the theater at Mantua. Of the
_Orfeo_ and its place in Italian literature, I have spoken
sufficiently elsewhere. It is enough to remember, in the present
connection, that, while Arcady became the local dreamland of the new
ideal, Orpheus took the place of its hero. As the institutor of civil
society in the midst of a rude population, he personified for our
Italian poets the spirit of their own renascent culture. Arcadia
represented the realm of art and song, unstirred by warfare or
unworthy passions. Orpheus attuned the simple souls who dwelt in it,
to music with his ravishing lyre.

Pastoral representations soon became fashionable. Niccolò da Correggio
put the tale of Cephalus and Procris on the stage at Ferrara, with
choruses of nymphs, vows to Diana, eclogues between Corydon and
Thyrsis, a malignant Faun, and a _dea ex machinâ_ to close the
scene.[278] At Urbino in the carnival of 1506 Baldassare Castiglione
and his friend Cesare Gonzaga recited amoebean stanzas, attired in
pastoral dress, before the Court. This eclogue, entitled _Tirsi_,
deserves notice, less perhaps for its intrinsic merits, though these,
judged by the standard of bucolic poetry, are not slight, than because
it illustrates the worst vices of the rustic style in its adaptation
to fashionable usage.[279] The dialogue opens with the customary
lament of one love-lorn shepherd to another, and turns upon
time-honored bucolic themes, until the mention of Metaurus reminds us
that we are not really in Arcadia but at Urbino. The goddess who
strays among her nymphs along its bank, is no other than the Duchess,
attended by Emilia Pia and the other ladies of her Court. "The good
shepherd, who rules these happy fields and holy lands," is Duke
Guidubaldo. Then follow compliments to all the interlocutors of the
_Cortegiano_. Bembo is the shepherd, "who hither came from the bosom
of Hadria." The "ancient shepherd, honored by all, who wears a wreath
of sacred laurel," is Morello da Ortona. The Tuscan shepherd, "wise
and learned in all arts," must either be Bernardo Accolti or else
Giuliano de' Medici. And yonder shepherd from the Mincio is Lodovico
da Canossa. A chorus of shepherds and a morris-dance relieved the
recitation, which was also enlivened by the introduction of one solo,
sung by Iola. Thus in this early specimen of the pastoral mask we
observe that confusion of things real and things ideal, of past and
present, of imaginary rustics and living courtiers, which was destined
to prove the bane of the species and to render it a literary plague in
every European capital. The radical fault existed in Virgil's
treatment of the Syracusan idyl. But each remove from its source
rendered the falsehood more obnoxious. In Spenser's Eclogues the
awkwardness is greater than in Castiglione's. Before Teresa Maria the
absurdity was more apparent than before Elizabeth. At last the common
sense of the public could no longer tolerate the sham, and Arcadia,
with its make-believe and flattery and allegory, became synonymous
with affectation.

[Footnote 278: It was printed in 1486.]

[Footnote 279: See the _Poesie Volgari e Latine del Conte B.
Castiglione_ (Roma 1760), pp. 7-26.]

It is no part of my programme to follow the development of the
pastoral drama through all its stages in Italy.[280] For the end of
this chapter I reserve certain necessary remarks upon its
masterpieces, the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_. At present it will
suffice to indicate the fact that, on the stage, as in the eclogue,
bucolic poetry followed two distinct directions--the one Arcadian and
artificial, the other national and closely modeled on popular forms.
The _Nencia da Barberino_ and _Beca da Dicomano_ of Lorenzo de'
Medici and Luigi Pulci belong to the latter class of eclogues.[281]
Their corresponding forms in dramatic verse are Berni's _Catrina_ and
_Mogliazzo_, together with the _Tancia_ and _Fiera_ of Michelangelo
Buonarroti the younger.[282] If it is impossible to render any
adequate account of pastoral drama, to do this for bucolic idyls would
be no less difficult. Their name in Latin and Italian is legion. Poets
so different in all things else as were Girolamo Benivieni, Antonio
Tebaldeo, Sperone Speroni, Bernardino Baldi, Benedetto Varchi, and
Luigi Tansillo--to mention only men of some distinction--brought
Mopsus and Tityrus, Menalcas and Melibæus, Amaryllis and Cydippe, from
Virgil's Arcadia, and made them talk interminably of their loves and
sheep in delicate Italian.[283] Folengo's sharp satiric wit, as we
shall remark in another chapter, finally pursued them with the shafts
of ridicule in _Baldus_ and _Zanitonella_. Thus pastoral poetry
completed the whole cycle of Italian literature--expressed itself
through dialogue in the drama, adhered to Virgilian precedent in the
Latinists and their Italian followers, adopted the forms of popular
poetry, and finally submitted to the degradation of Maccaronic

[Footnote 280: To do so would be almost impossible within lesser
limits than those of a bulky volume. Any one who wishes to form a
conception of the multitudes of pastoral plays written and printed in
Italy, may consult the catalogues. I have before me one list, which I
do not believe to be complete, in the _Teatro Italiano_, vol. x. It
occupies twenty-seven closely-printed pages, and is devoted solely to
rural scenes of actual life. The Arcadian masks and plays are omitted.
Mutinelli, in the _Annali Urbani di Venezia_, p. 541, gives a list of
the shows performed at Doges' banquets between 1574 and 1605. The
large majority are pastoral; and it is noticeable that, as years go
on, the pastorals drive all other forms of drama out of the field.]

[Footnote 281: See above, Part i., pp. 381, 382.]

[Footnote 282: For Berni, see Barbèra's small edition, Florence, 1863.
For Buonarroti, Lemonnier's edition in two volumes, 1860.]

[Footnote 283: See _Poesie Pastorali e Rusticali_ (Milano, _Classici
Italiani_, 1808) for a fairly representative collection of these

We can well afford to turn in silence from the common crowd of
eclogue-writers. Yet one poet emerges from the rank and file, and
deserves particular attention. Francesco Maria Molza stood foremost
in his own day among scholars of ripe erudition and literary artists
of accomplished skill. His high birth, his genial conversation, his
loves and his misfortunes rendered him alike illustrious; and his
_Ninfa Tiberina_ is still the sweetest pastoral of the golden age.
Molza was born in 1489 at Modena. Since his parents were among the
richest and noblest people of that city, it is probable that he
acquired the Greek and Latin scholarship, for which he was in
after-life distinguished, under tutors at home. At the age of sixteen
he went to Rome in order to learn Hebrew, and was at once recognized
as a youth of more than ordinary promise by men like Marcantonio
Flamminio and Lilio Giraldi. In 1512 he returned to Modena, where he
married according to his rank. His wife brought him four children, and
he passed a few years at this period with his family. But Molza soon
wearied of domestic and provincial retirement. In 1516 he left home
again and plunged into the dissipations of Roman life. From this date
forward till his death in 1544 he must be reckoned among those
Italians for whom Rome was dearer than their native cities. The
brilliance of his literary fame and the affection felt for him by men
of note in every part of Italy will not distract attention from the
ignobility of his career. Faithless to his wife, neglectful of his
children, continually begging money from his father, he passed his
manhood in a series of amours. Some of these were respectable, but
most of them disreputable. A certain Furnia, a low-born Beatrice
Paregia, and the notorious Faustina Mancina are to be mentioned among
the women who from time to time enslaved him. In the course of his
intrigue with Beatrice he received a stab in the back from some
obscure rival, which put him in peril of his life. For Faustina he
composed the _Ninfa Tiberina_. She was a Roman courtesan, so famous
for her beauty and fine breeding as to attract the sympathy of even
severe natures. When she died, the town went into mourning, and the
streets echoed with elegiac lamentations. It is curious that among
Michelangelo's sonnets should be found one--not, however, of the
best--written upon this occasion. While seeking amusement with the
Imperias, who took Aspasia's place in Papal Rome, Molza formed a
temporary attachment for a more illustrious lady--the beautiful and
witty Camilla Gonzaga. He passed two years, between 1523 and 1525, in
her society at Bologna. After his return to Rome, Molza witnessed the
miseries of the sack, which made so doleful an impression on his mind
that, saddened for a moment, he retired like the prodigal to Modena.
Rome, however, although not destined to regain the splendor she had
lost, shook off the dust and blood of 1527; and there were competent
observers who, like Aretino, thought her still more reckless in vice
than she had been before. Molza could not long resist the attractions
of the Papal city. In 1529 we find him once more in Rome, attached to
the person of Ippolito de' Medici, and delighting the Academies with
his wit. Two years afterwards, his father and mother died on
successive days of August. Molza celebrated their death in one of the
most lovely of his many sonnets. But his ill life and obstinate
refusal to settle at Modena had disinherited him; and henceforth he
lived upon his son Camillo's bounty. To follow his literary biography
at this period would be tantamount to writing the history of the two
famous Academies _delle Virtù_ and _de' Vignaiuoli_. Of both he was a
most distinguished member. He amused them with his conversation,
recited before them his _Capitoli_, and charmed them with the softness
and the sweetness of his manners. Numbers of his sonnets commemorate
the friendships he made in those urbane circles.

From the interchange, indeed, of occasional poems between such men as
Molza, Soranzo, Gandolfo, Caro, Varchi, Guidiccioni, and La Casa, the
materials for forming a just conception of he inner life of men of
letters at that epoch must be drawn. They breathe a spirit of gentle
urbanity, enlivened by jests, and saddened by a sense, rather uneasy
than oppressive, of Italian disaster. The moral tone is pensive and
relaxed; and in spite of frequent references to a corrupt Church and a
lost nation, scarcely one spark of rage or passion flashes from the
dreamy eyes that gaze at us. Leave us alone, they seem to say; it is
true that Florence has been enslaved, and the shadow of disgrace rests
upon our Rome; but what have we to do with it? And then they turn to
indite sonnets on Faustina's hair or elegies upon her modesty[284];
and when they are tired with these recreations, meet together to
invent ingenious obscenities.[285] It was in the midst of such
trifling that the great misfortune of Molza's life befell him. The
disease of the Renaissance, not the least of Italy's scourges in
those latter days of heedlessness and dissolute living, overtook him
in some haunt of pleasure. After 1539 he languished miserably under
the infliction, and died of it, having first suffered a kind of slow
paralysis, in February 1544. During the last months of his illness his
thoughts turned to the home and children he had deserted. The
exquisitely beautiful Latin elegy, in which he recorded the misery of
slow decay, speaks touchingly, if such a late and valueless repentance
can be touching, of his yearning for them.[286] In the autumn of 1543,
accordingly, he managed to crawl back to Modena; and it was there he
breathed his last, offering to the world as his biographer is careful
to assure us, a rare example of Christian resignation and
devotion.[287] All the men of the Renaissance died in the odor of
piety; and Molza, as many of his sonnets prove, had true religious
feeling. He was not a bad man, though a weak one. In the flaccidity of
his moral fiber, his intellectual and æsthetical serenity, his
confused and yet contented conscience, he fairly represents his age.

[Footnote 284: Of Molza's many sonnets upon this woman and her death,
see especially Nos. cxi. cxii.]

[Footnote 285: In the chapter on Burlesque Poetry I shall have to
justify this remark.]

[Footnote 286: See _Revival of Learning_, p. 488.]

[Footnote 287: The best Life of Molza is that written by Pierantonio
Serassi, Bergamo, 1747. It is republished, with Molza's Italian poems,
in the series of _Classici Italiani_, 1808.]

It would be difficult to choose between Molza's Latin and Italian
poems, were it necessary to award the palm of elegance to either. Both
are marked by the same _morbidezza_, the same pliancy, as of acanthus
leaves that feather round the marble of some Roman ruin. Both are
languid alike and somewhat tiresome, in spite of a peculiar fragrance.
I have sought through upwards of 350 sonnets contained in two
collections of his Italian works, for one with the ring of true
virility or for one sufficiently perfect in form to bear
transplantation. It is not difficult to understand their popularity
during the poet's lifetime. None are deficient in touches of delicate
beauty, spontaneous images, and sentiments expressed with much
lucidity. And their rhythms are invariably melodious. Reading them, we
might seem to be hearing flutes a short way from us played beside a
rippling stream. And yet--or rather, perhaps, for this very
reason--our attention is not riveted. The most distinctly interesting
note in them is sounded when the poet speaks of Rome. He felt the
charm of the seven hills, and his melancholy was at home among their
ruins. Yet even upon this congenial topic it would be difficult to
select a single poem of commanding power.

The _Ninfa Tiberina_ is a monody of eighty-one octave stanzas,
addressed by the poet, feigning himself a shepherd, to Faustina, whom
he feigns a nymph. It has nothing real but the sense of beauty that
inspired it, the beauty, exquisite but soulless, that informs its
faultless pictures and mellifluous rhythms. We are in a dream-world of
fictitious feelings and conventional images, where only art remains
sincere and unaffected. The proper point of view from which to judge
these stanzas, is the simply æsthetic. He who would submit to their
influence and comprehend the poet's aim, must come to the reading of
them attuned by contemplation of contemporary art. The arabesques of
the Loggie, the metal-work of Cellini, the stucchi of the Palazzo del
Te, Sansovino's bass-reliefs of fruits and garlands, Albano's cupids,
supply the necessary analogues. Poliziano's _Giostra_ demanded a
similar initiation. But between the _Giostra_ and the _Ninfa Tiberina_
Italian art had completed her cycle from early Florence to late Rome,
from Botticelli and Donatello to Giulio Romano and Cellini. The
freshness of the dawn has been lost in fervor of noonday. Faustina
succeeds to the fair Simonetta. Molza cannot "recapture the first fine
careless rapture" of Poliziano's morning song--so exuberant and yet so
delicate, so full of movement, so tender in its sentiment of art. The
_voluttà idillica_, which opened like a rosebud in the _Giostra_,
expands full petals in the _Ninfa Tiberina_; we dare not shake them,
lest they fall. And these changes are indicated even by the verse. It
was the glory of Poliziano to have discovered the various harmonies,
of which the octave, artistically treated, is capable, and to have
made each stanza a miniature masterpiece. Under Molza's treatment the
verse is heavier and languid, not by reason of relapse into the
negligence of Boccaccio, but because he aims at full development of
its resources. He weaves intricate periods, and sustains a single
sentence, with parentheses and involutions, from the opening of the
stanza to its close. Given these conditions, the _Ninfa Tiberina_ is
all nectar and all gold.

After an exordium, which introduces

    La bella Ninfa mia, che al Tebro infiora
    Col piè le sponde,

Molza calls upon the shepherds to transfer their vows to her from
Pales. She shall be made the goddess of the spring, and claim an altar
by Pomona's. Here let the rustic folk play, dance, and strive in
song. Hither let them bring their gifts.[288]

    Io dieci pomi di fin oro eletto,
      Ch'a te pendevan con soave odore,
      Simil a quel, che dal tuo vago petto
      Spira sovente, onde si nutre amore,
      Ti sacro umil; e se n'avrai diletto,
      Doman col novo giorno uscendo fuore,
      Per soddisfar in parte al gran disio,
      Altrettanti cogliendo a te gl'invio.

    E d'ulivo una tazza, ch'ancor serba
      Quel puro odor, che già le diede il torno,
      Nel mezzo a cui si vede in vista acerba
      Portar smarrito un giovinetto il giorno,
      E sì 'l carro guidar che accende l'erba,
      E sin al fondo i fiumi arde d'intorno,
      Stolto che mal tener seppe il viaggio,
      E il consiglio seguir fedele e saggio!

[Footnote 288:

    Ten apples of fine gold, elect and rare,
    Which hung for thee, and softest perfume shed,
    Like unto that which from thy bosom fair
    Doth often breathe, whence Love is nourishéd,
    Humbly I offer; and if thou shalt care,
    To-morrow with the dawn yon fields I'll tread,
    My great desire some little to requite,
    Plucking another ten for thy delight.

    Also an olive cup, where still doth cling
    That pure perfume it borrowed from the lathe,
    Where in the midst a fair youth ruining
    Conducts the day, and with such woeful scathe
    Doth guide his car, that to their deepest spring
    The rivers burn, and burn the grasses rathe;
    Ah fool, who knew not how to hold his way,
    Nor by that counsel leal and wise to stay!]

The description of the olive cup is carried over the next five
stanzas, when the poet turns to complain that Faustina does not care
for his piping. And yet Pan joined the rustic reeds; and Amphion
breathed through them such melody as held the hills attentive; and
Silenus taught how earth was made, and how the seasons come and go,
with his sweet pipings. Even yet, perchance, she will incline and
listen, if only he can find for her some powerful charm. Come forth,
he cries, repeating the address to Galatea, leave Tiber to chafe
within his banks and hurry toward the sea. Come to my fields and

    A te di bei corimbi un antro ingombra,
      E folto indora d'elicrisi nembo
      L'edera bianca, e sparge sì dolce ombra,
      Che tosto tolta a le verd'erbe in grembo
      D'ogni grave pensier te n'andrai sgombra;
      E sparso in terra il bel ceruleo lembo,
      Potrai con l'aura, ch'ivi alberga il colle,
      Seguir securo sonno dolce e molle.

[Footnote 289:

    White ivy with pale corymbs loads for thee
    That cave, and with thick folds of helichryse
    Gildeth the arch it shades so lovingly;
    Here lapped in the green grass which round it lies,
    Thou shalt dismiss grave thoughts, and fancy-free
    Spread wide thy skirt of fair cerulean dyes,
    And with the wholesome airs that haunt the hill,
    Welcome sweet soothing sleep, secure from ill.]

It is perilous for thee to roam the shores where Mars met Ilia. O
Father Tiber, deal gently with so fair a maiden. It was thou who
erewhile saved the infant hope of Rome, whom the she-wolf suckled near
thine overflow! But such themes soar too high for shepherd's pipings.
I turn to Caro and to Varchi. Both are shepherds, who know how to stir
the streams of Mincius and Arethuse. Even the gods have lived in
forest wild, among the woods, and there Anchises by the side of Venus
pressed the flowers. What gifts shall I find for my Faustina? Daphnis
and Moeris are richer far than I. How can I contend with them in
presents to the fair? And yet she heeds them not:

    Tanto d'ogni altrui dono poco si cura
    Questa vaga angioletta umile e pura.

My passion weighs upon me as love weighed on Aristæus. He forgot his
flocks, his herds, his gardens, even his beehives for Eurydice. His
heartache made him mad, and he pursued her over field and forest. She
fled before him, but he followed:[290]

    La sottil gonna in preda a i venti resta,
      E col crine ondeggiando addietro torna:
      Ella più ch'aura, o più che strale, presta
      Per l'odorata selva non soggiorna;
      Tanto che il lito prende snella e mesta,
      Fatta per paura assai più adorna:
      Fende Aristeo la vagha selva anch'egli,
      E la man parle aver entro i capegli.

    Tre volte innanzi la man destra spinse
      Per pigliar de le chiome il largo invito;
      Tre volte il vento solamente strinse,
      E restò lasso senza fin schernito:
      Nè stanchezza però tardollo o vinse,
      Perchè tornasse il pensier suo fallito;
      Anzi quanto mendico più si sente,
      Tanto s'affretta, non che il corso allente.

[Footnote 290:

    Her rippling raiment, to the winds a prey,
    Waves backward with her wavering tresses light;
    Faster than air or arrow, without stay
    She through the perfumed wood pursues her flight;
    Then takes the river-bed, nor heeds delay,
    Made even yet more beautiful by fright;
    Threads Aristæus, too, the forest fair,
    And seems to have his hands within her hair.

    Three times he thrust his right hand forth to clasp
    The abundance of her curls that lured him on;
    Three times the wind alone deceived his grasp,
    Leaving him scorned, with all his hopes undone;
    Yet not the toil that made him faint and gasp,
    Could turn him from his purpose still unwon;
    Nay, all the while, the more his strength is spent,
    The more he hurries on the course intent.]

The story of Eurydice occupies twenty-nine stanzas, and with it the
poem ends abruptly. It is full of carefully-wrought pictures,
excessively smooth and sugared, recalling the superficial manner of
the later Roman painters. Even in the passage that describes
Eurydice's agony, just quoted, the forest is _odorata_ or _vagha_.
Fear and flight make the maiden more _adorna_. The ruffian Aristæus
gets tired in the chase. He, too, must be presented in a form of
elegance. Not the action, but how the action might be made a
groundwork for embroidery of beauty, is the poet's care. We quit the
_Ninfa Tiberina_ with senses swooning under superfluity of
sweetness--as though we had inhaled the breath of hyacinths in a
heated chamber.

Closely allied to bucolic stands didactic poetry. The _Works and Days_
of Hesiod and the _Georgics_ of Virgil--the latter far more
effectually, however, than the former--determined this style for the
Italians. We have already seen to what extent the neo-Latin poets
cultivated a form of verse that, more than any other, requires the
skill of a great artist and the inspiration of true poetry, if it is
to shun intolerable tedium.[291] The best didactic poems written in
Latin by an Italian are undoubtedly Poliziano's _Sylvæ_, and of these
the most refined is the _Rusticus_.[292] But Poliziano, in composing
them, struck out a new line. He did not follow his Virgilian models
closely. He chose the form of declamation to an audience, in
preference to the time-honored usage of apostrophizing a patron. This
relieves the _Sylvæ_ from the absurdity of the poet's feigning to
instruct a Memmius or Augustus, a Francis I. or Charles V., in matters
about which those warriors and rulers can have felt but a frigid
interest. Pontano's _Urania_ and _De Hortis Hesperidum_ are almost
free from the same blemish. The former is addressed to his son Lucius,
but in words so brief and simple that we recognize the propriety of a
father giving this instruction to his child.[293] The latter is
dedicated to Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, who receives
complimentary panegyrics in the exordium and peroration, but does not
interfere with the structure of the poem. Its chief honors are
reserved, as is right and due, for Virgil:[294]--

                  Dryades dum munera vati
    Annua, dum magno texunt nova serta Maroni,
    E molli violâ et ferrugineis hyacinthis,
    Quasque fovent teneras Sebethi flumina myrtos.

[Footnote 291: _Revival of Learning_, chap. viii.]

[Footnote 292: _Ibid._ pp. 453-463.]

[Footnote 293:

    Tu vero nate ingentes accingere ad orsus
    Et mecum illustres coeli spatiare per oras,
    Namque aderit tibi Mercurius, cui coelifer Atlas
    Est avus, et notas puerum puer instruet artes.

    Ed. Aldus (1513), p. 2.]

[Footnote 294: _Ibid._ p. 138.]

Pontano's greatness, here as elsewhere, is shown in his mytho-poetic
faculty. The lengthy dissertation on the heavens and the lighter
discourse on orange-cultivation are adorned and enlivened with
innumerable legends suggested to his fertile fancy by the beauty of
Neapolitan scenery. When we reach the age of Vida and Fracastoro, we
find ourselves in the full tide of Virgilian imitation[295]; and it is
just at this point in our inquiry that the transition from Latin to
Italian didactic poetry should be effected.

[Footnote 295: See _Revival of Learning_, pp. 471-481, for notices of
the _Poetica_, _Bombyces_, _Scacchia_ and _Syphilis_.]

Giovanni Rucellai, the son of that Bernardo, who opened his famous
Florentine Gardens to the Platonic Academy, was born in 1475. As the
author of _Rosmunda_, he has already appeared in this book. When he
died, in 1526, he bequeathed a little poem on Bees to his brother
Palla and his friend Gian Giorgio Trissino. Trissino and Rucellai had
been intimate at Florence and in Rome. They wrote the _Sofonisba_ and
_Rosmunda_ in generous rivalry, meeting from time to time to compare
notes of progress and to recite their verses. An eye-witness related
to Scipione Ammirato how "these two dearest friends, when they were
together in a room, would jump upon a bench and declaim pieces of
their tragedies, calling upon the audience to decide between them on
the merits of the plays."[296] Trissino received the MS. of his
friend's posthumous poem at Padua, and undertook to see it through the
press. The _Api_ was published at Venice in 1539.[297] What remained
to be said or sung about bees after the Fourth Georgic? Very little
indeed, it must be granted. Yet the _Api_ is no mere translation from
Virgil; and though the higher qualities of variety invention and
imagination were denied to Rucellai, though he can show no passages of
pathos to compete with the _Corycius senex_, of humor to approach the
battle of the hives, no episode, it need be hardly said, to match with
_Pastor Aristæus_, still his modest poem is a monument of pure taste
and classical correctness. It is the work of a ripe scholar and
melodious versifier, if not of a great singer; and its diction belongs
to the best period of polite Italian.

[Footnote 296: See Morsolin's _Giangiorgio Trissino_ (Vicenza, 1878),
p. 92.]

[Footnote 297: _Ibid._ p. 245.]

The same moderate praise might be awarded to the more ambitious poem
of Luigi Alamanni, entitled _Coltivazione_, but for its immoderate
prolixity.[298] Alamanni resolved to combine the precepts of Hesiod,
Virgil and Varro, together with the pastoral passages of Lucretius, in
one work, adapting them to modern usage, and producing a comprehensive
treatise upon farming. With this object he divided his poem into six
books, the first four devoted to the labors of the several seasons,
the fifth to gardens, and the sixth to lucky and unlucky days. On a
rough computation, the whole six contain some 5,500 lines. _La
Coltivazione_ is dedicated to Francis I., and is marred by inordinate
flatteries of the French people and their king. Students who have the
heart to peruse its always chaste and limpidly flowing blank verse,
will be rewarded from time to time with passages like the following,
in which the sad circumstances of the poet and the pathos of his
regrets for Italy raise the style to more than usual energy and

    Ma qual paese è quello ove oggi possa,
    Glorioso Francesco, in questa guisa
    Il rustico cultor goderse in pace
    L'alte fatiche sue sicuro e lieto?
    Non già il bel nido ond'io mi sto lontano,
    Non già l'Italia mia; che poichè lunge
    Ebbe, altissimo Re, le vostre insegne,
    Altro non ebbe mai che pianto e guerra.
    I colti campi suoi son fatti boschi,
    Son fatti albergo di selvagge fere,
    Lasciati in abbandono a gente iniqua.
    Il bifulco e 'l pastor non puote appena
    In mezzo alle città viver sicuro
    Nel grembo al suo signor; chè di lui stesso
    Che 'l devria vendicar, divien rapina ...
    Fuggasi lunge omai dal seggio antico
    L'italico villan; trapassi l'alpi;
    Truove il gallico sen; sicuro posi
    Sotto l'ali, signor, del vostro impero.
    E se quì non avrà, come ebbe altrove
    Così tepido il sol, sì chiaro il cielo,
    Se non vedrà quei verdi colli toschi,
    Ove ha il nido più bello Palla e Pomona;
    Se non vedrà quei cetri, lauri e mirti,
    Che del Partenopeo veston le piagge;
    Se del Benaco e di mill'altri insieme
    Non saprà quì trovar le rive e l'onde;
    Se non l'ombra, gli odor, gli scogli ameni
    Che 'l bel liguro mar circonda e bagna;
    Se non l'ampie pianure e i verdi prati
    Che 'l Po, l'Adda e 'l Tesin rigando infiora,
    Quì vedrà le campagne aperte e liete,
    Che senza fine aver vincon lo sguardo, etc.[300]

[Footnote 298: See _Versi e Prose di Luigi Alamanni_, 2 vols.,
Lemonnier, Firenze, 1859. This edition is prefaced by a Life written
by Pietro Raffaelli.]

[Footnote 299: _Op. cit._ vol. ii p. 210. It is the opening of the
peroration to Book i.]

[Footnote 300: "But what land is that where now, O glorious Francis,
the husbandman may thus enjoy his labors with gladness and
tranquillity in peace? Not the fair nest, from which I dwell so far
away; nay, not my Italy! She since your ensigns, mighty king, withdrew
from her, hath had naught else but tears and war. Her tilled fields
have become wild woods, the haunts of beasts, abandoned to lawless
men. Herdsman or shepherd can scarce dwell secure within the city
beneath their master's mantle; for those who should defend them, make
the country folk their prey.... Let Italy's husbandman fly far from
his own home, pass the Alpine barrier, seek out the breast of Gaul,
repose, great lord, beneath thy empire's pinions! And though he shall
not have the sun so warm, the skies so clear, as he was wont to have;
though he shall not gaze upon those green Tuscan hills, where Pallas
and Pomona make their fairest dwelling; though he shall not see those
groves of orange, laurel, myrtle, which clothe the slopes of
Parthenope; though he shall seek in vain the banks and waves of Garda
and a hundred other lakes; the shade, the perfume, and the pleasant
crags, which Liguria's laughing sea surrounds and bathes; the ample
plains and verdant meadows which flower beneath the waters of Po,
Adda, and Ticino; yet shall he behold glad fields and open, spreading
too far for eyes to follow!"]

Luigi Alamanni was the member of a noble Florentine family, who for
several generations had been devoted to the Medicean cause. He was
born in 1495, and early joined the band of patriots and scholars who
assembled in the Rucellai gardens to hear Machiavelli read his notes
on Livy. After the discovery of the conspiracy against Cardinal Giulio
de' Medici, in which Machiavelli was implicated, and which cost his
cousin Luigi di Tommaso Alamanni and his friend Jacopo del Diacceto
their lives, Luigi escaped across the mountains by Borgo San Sepolcro
to Urbino. Finally, after running many risks, and being imprisoned for
a while at Brescia by Giulio's emissaries, he made good his flight to
France. His wife and three children had been left at Florence. He was
poor and miserable, suffering as only exiles suffer when their home is
such a paradise as Italy. In 1527, after the expulsion of the Medici,
Luigi returned to Florence, and took an active part in the
preparations for the siege as well as in the diplomatic negotiations
which followed the fall of the city. Alessandro de' Medici declared
him a rebel; and he was forced to avail himself again of French
protection. With the exception of a few years passed in Italy between
1537 and 1540, the rest of his life was spent as a French courtier.
Both Francis I. and Henri II. treated him with distinction and bounty.
Catherine de Medicis made him her master of the household; and his son
received the bishopric of Macon. In 1556 he died at Amboise following
the Court.

Luigi Alamanni was the greatest Italian poet of whose services Francis
I. could boast, as Cellini was the greatest Italian artist. His works
are numerous, and all are marked by the same qualities of limpid
facility, tending to prolixity and feebleness. Sonnets and _canzoni_,
satires, romantic epics, eclogues, translations, comedies, he tried
them all. His translation of the _Antigone_ deserves commendation for
its style. His _Flora_ is curious for its attempt to reproduce the
comic iambic of the Latin poets. If his satires dealt less in
generalities, they might aspire to comparison with Ariosto's. As it
is, the poet's bile vents itself in abstract invectives, of which the
following verses upon Rome may stand for a fair specimen:[301]

    Or chi vedesse il ver, vedrebbe come
      Più disnor tu, che 'l tuo Luter Martino,
      Porti a te stessa, e più gravose some.
    Non la Germania, no, ma l'ozio e 'l vino,
      Avarizia, ambizion, lussuria, e gola
      Ti mena al fin, che già veggiam vicino.
    Non pur questo dico io, non Francia sola,
      Non pur la Spagna, tutta Italia ancora
      Che ti tien d'eresia, di vizi scola.
    E chi nol crede, ne dimandi ognora
      Urbin, Ferrara, l'Orso, e la Colonna,
      La Marca, il Romagnuol, ma più chi plora
    Per te servendo, che fu d'altri donna.

[Footnote 301: Vol. i. p. 251. It is the end of the third satire. "He
who saw truly, would perceive that thyself brings on thee more
dishonor than thy Martin Luther, and heavier burdens too. Not Germany,
no, but sloth and wine, avarice, ambition, sensuality, and gluttony,
are bringing thee to thy now near approaching end. It is not I who say
this, not France alone, nor yet Spain, but all Italy, which holds thee
for the school of heresy and vice. He who believes it not, let him
inquire of Urbino, Ferrara, the Bear and the Column, the Marches and
Romagna, yet more of her who weeps because you make her serve, who was
once mistress over nations."]

Alamanni is said to have been an admirable improvisatore; and this we
can readily believe, for his verses even when they are most polished,
flow with a placidity of movement that betrays excessive case.

We have traced the pastoral ideal from its commencement in Boccaccio,
through the _Arcadia_ of Sannazzaro, Poliziano's _Orfeo_, and the
didactic poets, up to the point when it was destined soon to find its
perfect form in the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_. Both Tasso and
Guarini lived beyond the chronological limits assigned to this work.
The Renaissance was finished; and Italy had passed into a new phase of
existence, under the ecclesiastical reaction which is called the
Counter-Reformation. It is no part of my programme to enter with
particularity into the history of the second half of the sixteenth
century. And yet the subject of this and the preceding chapter would
be incomplete were I not to notice the two poems which combined the
drama and the pastoral in a work of art no less characteristic for the
people and the age than fruitful of results for European literature.
Great tragedy and great comedy were denied to the Italians. But they
produced a novel species in the pastoral drama, which testified to
their artistic originality, and led by natural transitions to the
opera. Poetry was on the point of expiring; but music was rising to
take her place. And the imaginative medium prepared by the lyrical
scenes of the Arcadian play, afforded just that generality and
aloofness from actual conditions of life, which were needed by the new
art in its first dramatic essays.

It would be a mistake to suppose that because the form of the Arcadian
romance was artificial, it could not lend itself to the presentation
of real passion when adapted to the theater. The study of the
_Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_ is sufficient to remove this
misconception. Though the latter is the more carefully constructed of
the two, the plot in either case presents a series of emotional
situations, developed with refined art and expressed with lyrical
abundance. The rustic fable is but a veil, through which the
everlasting lineaments of love are shown. Arcadia, stripped of
pedantry and affectation, has become the ideal world of sentiment.
Like amber, it incloses in its glittering transparency the hopes and
fears, the pains and joys, which flit from heart to heart of men and
women when they love. The very conventionality of the pastoral style
assists the lyrical utterance of real feeling. For it must be borne in
mind that both _Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_ are essentially lyrical.
The salt and savor of each play are in their choruses and monologues.
The dialogue, the fable and the characters serve to supply the poet
with motives for emotion that finds vent in song. This being conceded,
it will be understood how from their scenes as a whole world of
melodrama issued. Whatever may have been the subject of an opera
before the days of Gluck, it drew its life-blood from these pastorals.

The central motive of _Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_ is the contrast
between the actual world of ambition, treachery and sordid strife, and
the ideal world of pleasure, loyalty and tranquil ease. Nature is
placed in opposition to civil society, the laws of honor to the laws
of love, the manners of Arcadia to the manners of Italy. This cardinal
motive finds its highest utterance in Tasso's chorus on the Age of

    O bella età dell'oro,
    Non già perchè di latte
    Sen corse il fiume, e stillò mele il bosco;
    Non perchè i frutti loro
    Dier dall'aratro intatte
    Le terre, e gli angui erràr senz'ira o tosco;
    Non perchè nuvol fosco
    Non spiegò allor suo velo,
    Ma in primavera eterna,
    Ch'ora s'accende, e verna,
    Rise di luce e di sereno il cielo;
    Nè portò peregrino
    O guerra, o mercè agli altrui lidi il pino:
      Ma sol perchè quel vano
    Nome senza oggetto,
    Quell'idolo d'errori, idol d'inganno,
    Quel che dal volgo insano
    Onor poscia fu detto,
    Che di nostra natura 'l feo tiranno,
    Non mischiava il suo affanno
    Fra le liete dolcezze
    Dell'amoroso gregge;
    Nè fu sua dura legge
    Nota a quell'alme in libertate avvezze:
    Ma legge aurea e felice,
    Che Natura scolpì, "S'ei piace, ei lice."

The last phrase, _S'ei piace, ei lice_, might be written on the
frontispiece of both dramas, together with Dafne's sigh: _Il mondo
invecchia, E invecchiando intristisce_. Of what use is life unless we

    Amiam, che 'l sol si muore, e poi rinasce;
    A noi sua breve luce
    S'asconde, e 'l sonno eterna notte adduce.

The girl who wastes her youth in proud virginity, prepares a sad old
age of vain regret:

    Cangia, cangia consiglio,
    Pazzarella che sei;
    Che 'l pentirsi da sezzo nulla giova.

It is the old cry of the Florentine _Canti_ and _Ballate_, "Gather ye
rose-buds while ye may!" _Di doman non c'è certezza._ And the stories
of _Aminta_ and _Pastor Fido_ teach the same lesson, that nature's
laws cannot be violated, that even fate and the most stubborn bosoms
bow to love.

Of the music and beauty of these two dramas, I find it difficult to
speak. Before some masterpieces criticism bends in silence. We cannot
describe what must be felt. All the melodies that had been growing
through two centuries in Italy, are concentrated in their songs. The
idyllic voluptuousness, which permeated literature and art, steeps
their pictures in a golden glow. It is easy enough to object that
their apparent simplicity conceals seduction, that their
sentimentalism is unmanly, and their suggestions of physical beauty

    Ma come Silvia il ricconobbe, e vide
    Le belle guance tenere d'Aminta
    Iscolorite in sì leggiadri modi,
    Che viola non è che impallidisca
    Sì dolcemente, e lui languir sì fatto,
    Che parea già ultimi sospiri
    Esalar l'alma; in guisa di Baccante,
    Gridando e percotendosi il bel petto,
    Lasciò cadersi in sul giacente corpo;
    E giunse viso a viso, e bocca a bocca.

This passage warns us that an age of _cicisbei_ and _castrati_ has
begun, and that the Italian sensuousness has reached its final
dissolution. Silvia's kisses in _Aminta_, Mirtillo's kisses in _Pastor
Fido_, introduce a new refinement of enervation. Marino with his
_Adone_ is not distant. But, while we recognize in both these
poems--the one perfumed and delicate like flowers of spring, the other
sculptured in pure forms of classic grace--evident signs of a
civilization sinking to decay; though we almost loathe the beauty
which relaxes every chord of manhood in the soul that feels it; we are
bound to confess that to this goal the Italian genius had been
steadily advancing since the publication of the _Filocopo_. The
negation of chivalry, mysticism, asceticism, is accomplished. After
traversing the cycle of comedy, romance, satire, burlesque poetry, the
plastic arts, and invading every province of human thought, the
Italian reaction against the middle ages assumes a final shape of
hitherto unapprehended loveliness in the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor
Fido_. They complete and close the Renaissance, bequeathing in a new
species of art its form and pressure to succeeding generations.



     The Italians lose their Language--Prejudice against the
     Mother Tongue--Problem of the Dialects--Want of a
     Metropolis--The Tuscan Classics--Petrarch and
     Boccaccio--Dante Rejected--False Attitude of the
     Petrarchisti--Renaissance Sense of Beauty unexpressed in
     Lyric--False Attitude of Boccaccio's Followers--Ornamental
     Prose--Speron Sperone--The Dictator Bembo--His Conception of
     the Problem--The _Asolani_--Grammatical Essay--Treatise on
     the Language--Poems--Letters--Bembo's Place in the
     _Cortegiano_--Castiglione on Italian Style--His Good
     Sense--Controversies on the Language--Academical
     Spirit--Innumerable Poetasters--La Casa--His Life--_Il
     Forno_--Peculiar Melancholy--His Sonnets--Guidiccioni's
     Poems on Italy--Court Life--Caro and Castelvetro--Their
     Controversies--Castelvetro accused of Heresy--Literary
     Ladies--Veronica Gambara--Vittoria Colonna--Her Life--Her
     Friendship for Michelangelo--Life of Bernardo Tasso--His
     _Amadigi_ and other Works--Life of Giangiorgio Trissino--His
     Quarrel with his Son Giulio--His Critical Works--The _Italia

It was the misfortune of the Italians that, when culture had become
national and the revival of the vulgar literature had been effected,
they found themselves in nearly the same relation to their own
language as to Latin. After more than a hundred years absorbed in
humanistic studies, the authors of the fourteenth century were hardly
less remote than the Augustan classics; and to all but Tuscans their
diction was almost foreign. At the beginning of the _cinque cento_,
the living mother-tongue of Italy which Dante sought--the _Vulgare,
quod superius venabamur, quod in qualibet redolet civitate, nec cubat
in ulla_--was still to seek. Since the composition of Dante's essay
_De Vulgari Eloquio_, the literary activity of the nation had, indeed,
created a desire for some fixed standard of style in modern speech.
But the experiments of the _quattro cento_ had not far advanced the
matter. They only proved that Tuscan was the dialect to imitate, and
that success in the future must depend on adherence to the Tuscan
authors. Hence it happened that Petrarch and Boccaccio came to be
studied with the same diligence, the same obsequious reverence, as
Cicero and Virgil. Italian was written with no less effort after
formal purity, no less minute observance of rules, than if it had been
a dead language. At the same time, as a consequence of this system,
the vices of the humanistic style--its tendency to servile imitation,
emptiness, rhetorical verbosity, and preference of form to
matter--were imported into the vernacular literature.

While noting these drawbacks, which attended the resurgence of Italian
at an epoch when the whole nation began to demand a common language,
we must give due credit to the sagacity displayed by scholars at that
epoch in grappling with the problem before them. The main points at
issue were, _first_, to overcome the prejudice against the mother
tongue, which still lingered among educated people; _secondly_, to
adjust Italian to the standards of taste established by the humanistic
movement; and, _thirdly_, to decide whether Tuscan should reign
supreme, or be merged in a speech more representative of the Italians
as a nation. Early in the century, the battle of Italian against Latin
was practically won. There remained no obstinate antagonism to a
purely national and modern literature. Still the type to which this
literature should conform, the laws by which it should be regulated,
were as yet unsettled. These questions had to be decided by
intelligence rather than by instinct; for the Italians possessed no
common medium of conversation, no common opportunities of forensic or
parliamentary debate. That insensible process whereby French style has
been modeled on the usages of conversation, and English style has been
adapted to the tone of oratory, had to be performed, so far as this
was possible, by conscious analysis. The Italians were aware that they
lacked a language, and they set themselves deliberately to remedy this
defect. These peculiar circumstances gave a pedantic tone to the
discussion of the problem. Yet the problem itself was neither puerile
nor pedantic. It concerned nothing less than the formation of an
instrument of self-expression for a people, who had reached the
highest grade of artistic skill in the exercise of the dead languages,
and who, though intellectually raised to an equality of culture, were
divided by tenacious local differences.

That Petrarch and Boccaccio should have been chosen as models of
classical Italian style, was not only natural but inevitable. Writers,
trained in the method of the humanists, required the guidance of
authoritative masters. Just as they used Cicero and Virgil for the
correction of medieval Latin, so Petrarch and Boccaccio were needed
for the castigation of homespun dialects. Dante, had he been
comprehended by such men, would not have satisfied ears educated in
the niceties of Latin versification; nor could the builders of
Ciceronian perorations have revived the simple prose of the Villani.
Petrarch contented their sense of polish; Boccaccio supplied them with
intricate periods and cadences of numerous prose. Yet the choice was
in either case unfortunate, though for somewhat different reasons.

It was impossible for poets of the sixteenth century to follow
Petrarch to the very letter of his diction, without borrowing his
tone. Consequently these versifiers affected to languish and adore,
wove conceits and complained of cruelty, in the fashion of Vaucluse.
Their facile mistresses became Lauras; or else they draped a
lay-figure, and wrote sonnets to its painted eyebrows. The confusion
between literary ceremony and practical experience of passion wrought
an ineradicable discord. Authors of indecent burlesques penned
Platonic odes. Bembo, who was answerable for the _Menta_ in its Latin
form, praised his mistress Morosina in polished sonnets and elegiac
threnodies. Firenzuola published the poems to Selvaggia and the
_Capitolo_ in praise of a specific against infamous diseases. La Casa
gratified the same Academies with his panegyric of the Oven and his
scholastic exercises in a metaphysical emotion. Reading thee diverse
compositions side by side, we wake to the conviction that the
Petrarchistic counterfeits, however excellent in form, have precisely
the same mediocrity as Sannazzaro's epic, while the Bernesque
effusions express the crudest temper of the men who wrote them. The
one class of poems is redolent of affectation, the other of coarse
realism. The middle term between these opposites is wanting. Nor
could it well be otherwise. The conditions of society in the sixteenth
century rendered Petrarch's sentiment impossible. His melancholy,
engendered by the contest between passion and religious duty, had
become a thing of the far past. The license of the times rendered this
halting between two impulses ridiculous, when no man was found to
question the divine right of natural appetite. Even the reverential
attitude assumed by Petrarch as a lover, was out of date; and when his
imitators aped it, their insincerity was patent. The highest
enthusiasm of the Renaissance revealed itself through the plastic arts
in admiration for corporeal beauty. This feeling, while it easily
degenerated into sensuality, had no point of contact with Petrarch's
medieval Platonism. Therefore the tone of the Petrarchisti was
hypocritical, and the love they professed, a sham.

We have a further reason for resenting this devotion to a poet with
whose habitual mood the men of that age could not sympathize. We know
that they had much to say which remained buried beneath their
fourteenth-century disguises. The sincerity of feeling, the fervid
passion of poets like Bembo, Molza, or La Casa, cannot be denied. But
their emotion found no natural channel of expression. It is not
without irritation that we deplore the intellectual conditions of an
age, which forced these artists to give forth what they felt in one of
two equally artificial forms. Between transcription from the Latin
elegists and reproduction of Petrarch there lay for them no choice.
Consequently, the Renaissance lacked its full development upon the
side of lyric poetry. The secret of the times remained unspoken--a
something analogous to Venetian painting, a something indicated in
Firenzuola's and Luigini's dialogues on female beauty, a something
indirectly presented in Ariosto's episodes, which ought to have been
uttered from the heart in song by men who felt the loveliness of
plastic form. Instead of this lyrical expression of a ruling passion,
we have to content ourselves with pseudo-platonic rhymes and with the
fervid sensualities of Pontano's elegiacs. The sensibility to
corporeal beauty, which was abundantly represented by Titian,
Lionardo, Raphael, Correggio, Michelangelo in art, in literature was
either shorn of its essential freedom by the limitations of
conventional Platonism, or exaggerated on the side of animalism by
imitation of erotic Latin poets. Furthermore, we have some right to
regard the burlesque obscenity of academical literature as a partial
reaction against the hypocritical refinements of the Petrarchistic
mannerism. Thus the deepest instinct of the epoch, that which gave its
splendor to the painting of the golden age, found no spontaneous
utterance in lyric verse.

The academical study of Boccaccio proved disastrous for a different
reason. In this case there was no division between the master and his
pupils; for we have seen already that the author of the Decameron
anticipated the Renaissance in the scope and tenor of his work. But he
supplied students with a false standard. His Latinizing periods, his
involved construction of sentences and oratorical amplification of
motives encouraged the worst qualities of humanistic style. Boccaccio
prevented the Italians from forming a masculine prose manner. Each
writer, whatever might be the subject of his work, aimed at ornate
diction. Cumbrous and circuitous phrases were admired for their own
sake. The simplicity of the Chronicles was abandoned for ponderous
verbosity, and Machiavelli's virile force found no successors in the
crowd of academicians who dissected the Decameron for flowers of

Thus the efforts of the purists took a false direction from the outset
both in prose and verse. The literature which aimed at being national,
began with archaistic exercises; and Italy, at the moment of attaining
self-consciousness, found herself, without a living language, forced
to follow in the steps of antiquated authors. The industry and
earnestness of the disciples made their failure the more notable; for
while they pursued a track that could not lead to aught but mannerism,
they plumed themselves upon the soundness of their method. In order to
illustrate the spirit of this movement, I will select a passage from
the works of Speron Sperone, who was by no means the least successful
stylist of the period. He is describing his earlier essays in the art
of writing and the steps by which he arrived at what he clearly
thought to be perfection:[302]

"Being in all truth desirous beyond measure from my earliest years to
speak and to write my thoughts in our mother tongue, and that not so
much with a view to being understood, which lies within the scope of
every unlettered person, as with the object of placing my name upon
the roll of famous men, I neglected every other interest, and gave my
whole attention to the reading of Petrarch and the hundred Novels; in
which studies having exercised myself for many months with little
profit and without a guide, under the inspiration of God I finally
betook me to our revered Master Trifone Gabrielli[303]; by whose
kindly assistance I arrived at perfect comprehension of those authors,
whom, through ignorance of what I ought to notice, I had frequently
before misunderstood. This excellent man and true father of ours first
bade me observe the vocables, then gave me rules for knowing the
declension and conjugation of nouns and verbs in Tuscan, and lastly
explained to me articles, pronouns, participles, adverbs, and other
parts of speech; so that, collecting all that I had learned, I
composed a grammar for myself, by following the which while writing I
so controlled my style that in a short space of time the world held me
for a man of erudition, and still considers me as such. When it seemed
to me that I had taken rank as a grammarian, I set myself, with the
utmost expectation of every one who knew me, to the making of verses;
and then, my head full of rhythms, sentences and words from Petrarch
and Boccaccio, for a few years, I produced things that appeared
wonderful to my judgment; but afterwards, thinking that my vein was
beginning to dry up (inasmuch as words frequently failed me, and, not
finding what to say in different sonnets, it occurred to me to
rehandle the same thoughts), I had recourse to that which all the
world does now[304]; for, using the greatest diligence, I composed a
rhyming dictionary or vocabulary of Italian phrases; in the which I
classed by the alphabet every word those two authors had used;
moreover I collected in another book their divers ways of describing
things, as day, night, anger, peace, hate, love, fear, hope, beauty,
in such wise that not a single word or thought came from me which had
not its precedent in their sonnets and novels." At this point Sperone
frankly admits that his practice was too slavish. He then proceeds to
tell how he compared Petrarch's Latin with his vulgar style in order
to discover the correct rules of Italian versification. "Conquered by
the arguments and experiments I have described, I returned to my
earlier studies; and then, in addition to continual self-exercise in
the reading of Petrarch (which by itself and without any other
artifice may procure great benefit), by fixing my mind more diligently
than before upon his modes of diction, I observed (as I believed)
certain qualities pertaining in an eminent degree to the poet and also
the orator; which, since you desire it, I will briefly expound. In the
first place, while numbering and weighing his words one by one, I
became aware that I discovered none common and none base, few harsh,
all clear, all elegant; and all, moreover, so adapted to common use
that one might have supposed he had selected and accumulated them with
the concurrence of all Italy in conclave. Among the which (like stars
amid the limpid space of midnight) some few shone out with special
luster; for some part ancient words, but not unpleasing through their
age, as _uopo_, _unquanco_, _sovente_; for some part beautiful and
very graceful words, which like jewels that delight the eyes of all
men, are only used by gentle and high intellects, such as _gioia_,
_speme_, _rai_, _disio_, _soggiorno_, _beltà_, and others of like
quality, the which no learned tongue would utter, nor hand write,
unless the ear consented. Time would fail to tell in detail of the
verbs, adverbs, and other parts of speech, which make his verses
noble; but one thing I will not pass in silence, namely that, when
speaking of his lady, now of her person, now of her soul, now of her
tears, now of her smile, now of her movement, now of her taking rest,
now of her anger, now of her pity, and now of her age, in a word when
describing and magnifying her alive or dead, he generally avoids the
proper name of things, and by some wonderful art adorns each thing by
words appropriate to others, calling her head fine gold and roof of
gold, her eyes suns, stars, sapphires, nest and home of love, her
cheeks now snow and roses, now milk and fire, rubies her lips, pearls
her teeth, her throat and breast now ivory, now alabaster." Halfway up
this _Gradus ad Parnassum_ we are forced to stop and take deep breath.
Sperone has launched the theory of "poetic diction," and advances
boldly to its extreme consequences. We need not follow his analysis
further into particulars. He carries it through the several topics of
tautology, periphrasis, antithesis, and proportion of syllables in
words of different length; after which the subject of prosody proper
is discussed. Having finished with Petrarch, he then proceeds to
render the same account of his studies in Boccaccio, observing the
variety and choice of his phrases, but calling special attention to
the numbers of his periods, and winding up with this sonorous sentence
on prose architecture. "But you must know that as the composition of
prose is a marshaling of the sounds of words in proper order, so its
numbers are certain orders in their syllables; pleasing the ear
wherewith, the art of oratory opens, continues and finishes a period:
forasmuch as every clause has not only a beginning but also a middle
and an end; at the beginning it puts itself in motion and ascends; in
the middle, as though weary with exertion, it rests upon its feet
awhile; then it descends, and flies to the conclusion for

[Footnote 302: _I Dialoghi di Messer Speron Sperone_ (Aldus, Venice,
1542), p. 146. The passage is taken from a Dialogue on Rhetoric. I
have tried to preserve the clauses of the original periods.]

[Footnote 303: Trifone Gabrielli was a Venetian, celebrated for his
excellent morals no less than for his learning. He gained the epithet
of the Socrates of his age, and died in 1549. His personal influence
seems to have been very great. Bembo makes frequent and respectful
references to him in his letters, and Giasone de Nores wrote a
magnificent panegyric of him in the preface to his commentary on
Horace's _Ars Poetica_, which he professed to have derived orally from

[Footnote 304: Sperone probably alludes to works like Minerbi's
Vocabulary of words used by Boccaccio (Venice, 1535); Luna's
_Vocabolario di cinque mila vocaboli toschi del Furioso Petrarca
Boccaccio e Dante_ (Naples, 1536); Accarigi's dictionary to Boccaccio
entitled _Ricchezze della lingua volgare_ (Venice, 1543); and so

[Footnote 305: It should be mentioned that the passage I have
paraphrased is put into the lips of Antonio Broccardo, a Venetian
poet, whose _Rime_ were published in 1538. He attacked Bembo's works,
and brought down upon himself such a storm of fury from the pedants of
Padua and Venice that he took to his bed and died of grief.]

What is admirable, in spite of pedantry and servility, in this lengthy
diatribe is the sense of art as art, the devotion to form for its own
sake, the effort to grapple with the problems of style, the writer's
single-hearted seeking after perfection. Nothing but a highly-developed
artistic instinct in the nation could have produced students of this
type. At the same time we feel an absence of spontaneity, and the
tendency to aim at decorative writing is apparent. When the glow of
discovery, which impelled Sperone and his fellow-pioneers to open a
way across the continent of literature, had failed; when the practice
of their school had passed into precepts, and their inventions had
been formulated as canons of style; nothing remained for travelers
upon this path but frigid repetition, precise observance of
conventional limitations, and exercises in sonorous oratory. The
rhetoric of the seventeenth century was a necessary outgrowth of
pedantic purism. The conceits of Marini and his imitators followed
inevitably from a rigorous application of rules that denied to poetry
the right of natural expression. It may be urged that for a nation so
highly sensitive to form as the Italians, without a metropolis to mold
the language in the process of development, and without a spoken
dialect of good society, there existed no common school of style but
the recognized classics of Tuscany.[306] When each district habitually
used a different speech for private and public utterance, men could
not write as they talked, and they were therefore forced to write by
rule. There is force in these arguments. Yet the consequences of a
too minute and fastidious study of the Tuscan authors proved none the
less fatal to the freedom of Italian literature; and what is more,
sagacious critics foresaw the danger, though they were unable to avert

[Footnote 306: The difficulty is well put by one of the interlocutors
in Castiglione's dialogue upon the courtier (ed. Lemonnier, p. 41):
"Oltre a questo, le consuetudini sono molto varie, nè è città nobile
in Italia che non abbia diversa maniera di parlar da tutte l'altre.
Però non vi ristringendo voi a dichiarar qual sia la migliore,
potrebbe l'uomo attaccarsi alla bergamasca così come alla fiorentina."
Messer Federigo Fregoso of Genoa is speaking, and he draws the
conclusion which practically triumphed in Italy: "Parmi adunque, che a
chi vuol fuggir ogni dubio ed esser ben sicuro, sia necessario
proporsi ad imitar uno, il quale di consentimento di tutti sia
estimato buono ... e questo (nel volgar dico), non penso che abbia da
esser altro che il Petrarca e 'l Boccaccio; e chi da questi dui si
discosta va tentoni, come chi cammina per le tenebre e spesso erra la

The leader in this movement, acknowledged throughout Italy for more
than half a century as dictator in the republic of letters,
"foster-father of the language" (_balio della lingua_), "guide and
master of our tongue" (_guida e maestro di questa lingua_), was Pietro
Bembo.[307] Though only sixteen years junior to Angelo Poliziano, whom
he had himself saluted as "ruler of the Ausonian lyre," Bembo outlived
his master for the space of fifty-one years, and swayed the literary
world at a period when Italian succeeded to the honors of Latin
scholarship.[308] He was a Venetian. This fact is not insignificant,
since it clearly marks the change that had come over the nation, when
the scepter of learning was transferred to the northern provinces, and
the exclusive privilege of correct Italian composition was shared with
Tuscans by men of other dialects.[309] In his early youth Bembo had
the good sense to perceive that the mother tongue was no less worthy
of cultivation than Greek and Latin. The arguments advanced by Dante,
by Alberti, by Lorenzo de' Medici, recurred with fresh force to his
mind. He therefore made himself the champion of Italian against those
exclusive students who, like Ercole Strozzi, still contended that the
dead languages were alone worthy of attention.[310] He also saw that
it was necessary to create a standard of correct style for writers who
were not fortunate enough to have been born within the bounds of
Tuscany. Accordingly, he devoted himself to the precise and formal
study of fourteenth-century literature, polishing his own Italian
compositions with a diligence that, while it secured transparent
purity of diction, deprived them of originality and impulse. It is
said that he passed each of his works through forty successive
revisions, keeping as many portfolios to represent the stages at which
they had arrived.

[Footnote 307: In the famous passage of the _Furioso_ where Ariosto
pronounces the eulogy of the poets of his day, he mentions Bembo thus
(_Orl. Fur._ xlvi. 15).

    Bembo, che 'l puro e dolce idioma nostro,
    Levato fuor del volgar uso tetro,
    Quale esser dee, ci ha co 'l suo esempio mostro.]

[Footnote 308: See Bembo's elegy on Poliziano quoted by me in the
_Revival of Learning_, p. 484.]

[Footnote 309: See _Revival of Learning_, p. 506, for the transference
of scholarship to Lombardy.]

[Footnote 310: See the Latin hendecasyllables quoted by me in the
_Revival of Learning_, p. 415, and the Defense of Italian in the
treatise "Della volgare Lingua" (Bembo, _Opere_, Milan, _Class. It._
x. 28). Carducci in his essay _Delle Poesie Latine di Ludovico
Ariosto_, pp. 179-181, gives some interesting notices of Ercole
Strozzi's conversion to the vulgar tongue.]

Having already sketched the life of Bembo, I shall here restrict
myself to remarks upon those of his works which were influential in
reviving the practice of Italian composition.[311] Among these the
first place must be awarded to _Gli Asolani_, a dialogue on Love,
written in his early manhood and dedicated to Lucrezia Borgia. The
beauty of its language and the interest of the theme discussed
rendered this treatise widely fashionable. Yet it is not possible to
study it with pleasure now. Those Platonic conversations, in which the
refined society of the Italian Courts delighted, have lost their
attraction for us. Nothing but the charming description of Asolo,
where the Queen of Cyprus had her garden, surrounded by trimmed
laurels and divided crosswise with a leafy _pergola_ of vines, retains
its freshness. That picture, animated by the figures of the six
novitiates of Love, now sauntering through shade and sunlight under
the vine-branches, now seated on the grass to hear a lute or viol
deftly touched, is in the best idyllic style of the Venetian masters.
At the Court of Urbino, where Bembo was residing when his book
appeared, it was received with acclamation, as a triumph of divine
genius. The illustrious circle celebrated by Castiglione in his
_Cortegiano_ perused it with avidity, and there is no doubt that the
publication gave a powerful impulse to Italian studies. These were
still further fostered by Bembo's Defense of the Vulgar Tongue.[312]
He had secured the hearing of the world by his _Asolani_. Women and
the leaders of fashionable society were with him; and he pushed his
arguments home against the Latinizing humanists. "To abandon our own
language for another," he reminded them, "is the same as withdrawing
supplies from our mother to support a strange woman." This phrase is
almost identical with what Dante had written on the same topic two
centuries earlier. But Bembo's standing-ground was different from
Dante's. The poet of the fourteenth century felt called to create a
language for his nation. The student of the sixteenth, imbued with the
assimilative principles of scholarship, too fastidious to risk a rough
note in his style, too feeble to attempt a new act of creation, was
content to "affect the fame of an imitator."[313] His piety toward
the mother-tongue was generous; his method of rehabilitation was
almost servile.

[Footnote 311: See _Revival of Learning_, pp. 410-415, 481-485.]

[Footnote 312: _Opere del Cardinale Bembo_ (_Class. It._ Milano, 1808,
vol. x.).]

[Footnote 313: See his Latin treatise _De Imitatione_. It is in the
form of an epistle.]

With the view of illustrating his practice by precepts, Bembo
published a short Italian grammar, or compendium of _Regole
Grammaticali_. It went through fourteen editions, and formed the
text-book for future discussions of linguistic problems. Though
welcomed with enthusiasm, this first attempt to reduce Italian to
system was severely criticised, especially by Sannazzaro, Caro,
Castelvetro and the Florentine Academy.

I have already had occasion to observe that, as a Latin poet, Bembo
succeeded best with memorial verses. The same may be said about his
Italian poems. The _Canzoni_ on the death of his brother, and that on
the death of his mistress Morosina, are justly celebrated for their
perfection of form; nor are they so wanting in spontaneous emotion as
many of his Petrarchistic exercises. Bembo was tenderly attached to
this Morosina, whom he first met at Rome, and with whom he lived till
her death at Padua in 1525. She was the mother of his three children,
Lucilio, Torquato and Elena. The _Canzone_ in question, beginning:

    Donna, de' cui begli occhi alto diletto:

was written so late as 1539, three months after Bembo had been raised
to the dignity of Cardinal.[314] As a specimen of the conceits which
he tolerated in poetry, I have thought it worth while to present the
following translation of a sonnet:[315]

    Ah me, at one same moment forced to cry
      And hush, to hope and fear, rejoice and grieve,
      The service of one master seek and leave,
      Over my loss laugh equally and sigh!
    My guide I govern; without wings I fly;
      With favoring winds, to rocks and sandbanks cleave;
      Hate haughtiness, yet meekness disbelieve;
      Mistrust all men, nor on myself rely.
    I strive to stay the sun, set snows on fire;
      Yearn after freedom, run to take the yoke:
      Defend myself without, but bleed within;
    Fall, when there's none to lift me from the mire;
      Complain, when plaints are vain, of fortune's stroke;
      And power, being powerless, from impuissance win.

[Footnote 314: See Panizzi, _Bioardo ed Ariosto_, vi. lxxxi.]

[Footnote 315: Sonnet xxxvi. of his collected poems.]

In the sixteenth century verses of this stamp passed for masterpieces
of incomparable elegance. The same high value was set on Bembo's
familiar letters. He wrote them with a view to publication, and they
were frequently reprinted during the course of the next fifty
years.[316] These may still be read with profit by students for the
light they cast upon Italian society during the first half of the
_cinque cento_, and with pleasure by all who can appreciate the
courtesies of refined breeding expressed in language of fastidious
delicacy. The chief men of the day, whether Popes, princes, Cardinals
or poets, and all the illustrious ladies, including Lucrezia Borgia,
Veronica Gambara, and Vittoria Colonna, are addressed with a mingled
freedom and ceremony, nicely graduated according to their rank or
degree of intimacy, which proves the exquisite tact developed by the
intercourse of Courts in men like Bembo.

[Footnote 316: My edition is in four volumes, Gualtero Scotto,
Vinegia, MDLII. They are collected with copious additions in the
_Classici Italiani_.]

Since the composition and publication of such letters formed a main
branch of literary industry in the period we have reached,[317] it
will be well to offer some examples of Bembo's epistolary style; and
for this purpose, the correspondence with Lucrezia Borgia may be
chosen, not only because of the interest attaching to her friendship
with the author, but also because the topics treated display the
refinement of his nature in a very agreeable light.[318] In one of
these, written upon the occasion of her father's death, he calls
Alexander VI. _quel vostro così gran padre_. In a second, touched with
the deepest personal feeling, he announces the death of his own
brother Carlo, _mio solo e caro fratello, unico sostegno e sollazzo
della vita mia_.[319] In a third he thanks her for her letters of
condolence: _Le lagrime alle quali mi scrivete essere stata constretta
leggendo nelle mei lettere la morte del mio caro e amato fratello M.
Carlo, sono dolcissimo refrigerio stato al mio dolore, se cosa dolce
alcuna m'è potuta venire a questo tempo._ In a fourth he turns this
graceful compliment: _Pregherei eziandio il cielo, che ogni giorno
v'accrescerebbe la bellezza; ma considero che non vi se ne può
aggiungere._ In a fifth he congratulates Lucrezia upon the birth of a
son and heir, and in a sixth condoles with her upon his early death.
Then another boy is born, just when the Duke of Urbino dies; and Bembo
mingles courtly tears with ceremonious protestations of his joy. It
would be impossible to pen more scholarly exercises upon similar
occasions; and through the style of the professed epistolographer we
seem to feel that Bembo had real interest in the events he illustrates
so elegantly. The fatal defect of his letters is, that he is always
thinking more of his manner than of his matter. Like the humanists
from whom he drew his mental lineage, he labored for posterity without
reckoning on the actual demands posterity would make. Success crowned
his efforts in the pleasure he afforded to the public of his day; but
this was a success comparable with that of Bernardo Accolti or
Tibaldeo of Ferrara, whom he scorned. He little thought that future
students would rate an annalist of Corio's stamp, for the sake of his
material, at a higher value than the polished author of the _Lettere_.
Yet such is the irony of fame that we could willingly exchange Bembo's
nicely-turned phrases for a few solid facts, a few spontaneous

[Footnote 317: It will be impossible to do more than make general
reference to the vast masses of Italian letters printed in the
sixteenth century. I must, therefore, content myself here with
mentioning the collections of La Casa, Caro, Bernardo, and Torquato
Tasso, Aretino, Guidiccioni, together with the miscellanies published
under the titles of _Lettre Scritte al Signor Pietro Aretino_, the
_Lettere Diverse_ in three books (Aldus, 1567), and the _Lettere di
Tredici Uomini Illustri_ (Venetia, 1554).]

[Footnote 318: _Lettere_, ed. cit. vol. iv. pp. 1-31.]

[Footnote 319: Another letter, dated Venice, August 1, 1504, is fuller
in particulars about this dearly-loved brother.]

Bembo was a power in literature, the exact force of which it is
difficult to estimate without taking his personal influence into
consideration. Distinguished by great physical beauty, gifted with a
noble presence, cultivated in the commerce of the best society, he
added to his insight and his mental energy all the charm that belongs
to a man of fashion and persuasive eloquence in conversation. He was
untiring in his literary industry, unfailing in his courtesy to
scholars, punctual in correspondence, and generous in the use he made
of his considerable wealth. At Urbino, at Venice, at Rome, and at
Padua, his study was the meeting-place of learned men, who found the
graces of the highest aristocracy combined in him with genial
enthusiasm for the common interests of letters. Thus the man did even
more than the author to promote the revolution he had at heart. This
is brought home to us with force when we consider the place assigned
to him in Castiglione's _Cortegiano_--a masterpiece of composition
transcending, in my opinion, all the efforts made by Bembo to conquer
the difficulties of style. Castiglione is no less correct than the
dictator strove to be; but at the same time he is far more natural. He
treats the same topics with greater ease, and with a warmth of feeling
and conviction which endears him to the heart of those who read his
golden periods. Yet Castiglione gives the honors of his dialogue to
the author of the _Asolani_, when he puts into the mouth of Bembo that
glowing panegyric of Platonic love, which forms the close and climax
of his dialogue upon the qualities of a true gentleman.[320]

[Footnote 320: _Il Cortegiano_ (ed. Lemonnier, Firenze, 1854), pp.
296-303. I have already spoken at some length about this essay in the
_Age of the Despots_, pp. 183-190, and have narrated the principal
events of Castiglione's life in the _Revival of Learning_, pp.
418-422. For his Latin poems see _ib._ pp. 490-497.]

The crowning merit of the _Cortegiano_ is an air of good breeding and
disengagement from pedantic prejudices. This urbanity renders it a
book to read with profit and instruction through all time.
Castiglione's culture was the result of a large experience of men and
books, ripened by intercourse with good society in all its forms. His
sense and breadth of view are peculiarly valuable when he discusses a
subject like that which forms the topic of the present chapter. There
is one passage in his book, relating to the problem of Italian style,
which, had it been treated with the attention it deserved, might have
saved his fellow-countrymen from the rigors of pedagogical

[Footnote 321: Ed. cit. pp. 39-53.]

Starting from his cardinal axiom that good manners demand freedom from
all affectation, he deprecates the use in speech or writing of those
antiquated Tuscan words the purists loved. As usual, he hits the very
center of the subject in his comments on this theme. "It seems to me,
therefore, exceedingly strange to employ words in writing which we
avoid in all the common usages of conversation. Writing is nothing but
a form of speaking, which continues to exist after a man has spoken,
and is, as it were, an image or rather the life of the words he
utters. Therefore in speech, which, as soon as the voice has issued
from the mouth, is lost, some things may be tolerated that are not
admissible in composition, because writing preserves the words,
subjects them to the criticism of the reader, and allows time for
their mature consideration. It is consequently reasonable to use
greater diligence with a view to making what we write more polished
and correct, yet not to do this so that the written words shall differ
from the spoken, but only so that the best in spoken use shall be
selected for our composition." After touching on the need of lucidity,
he proceeds "I therefore should approve of a man's not only avoiding
antiquated Tuscan phrases, but also being careful to employ such as
are in present use in Tuscany and other parts of Italy, provided they
have a certain grace and harmony."[322] At this point another
interlocutor in the dialogue observes that Italy possesses no common
language. In the difficulty of knowing whether to follow the custom of
Florence or of Bergamo, it is desirable to recognize a classical
standard of style. Petrarch and Boccaccio should be selected as
models. To refuse to imitate them is mere presumption. Here
Castiglione states the position of the school he combats. In his
answer to their argument he makes Giuliano de' Medici, one of the
company, declare that he, a Tuscan of the Tuscans as he is, should
never think of employing any words of Petrarch or Boccaccio which were
obsolete in good society. Then the thread of exposition is resumed.
The Italian language, in spite of its long past, may still be called
young and unformed. When the Roman Empire decayed, spoken Latin
suffered from the corruptions introduced by barbarian invaders. It
retained greater purity in Tuscany than elsewhere. Yet other districts
of Italy preserved certain elements of the ancient language that have
a right to be incorporated with the living tongue; nor is it
reasonable to suppose that a modern dialect should at a certain moment
have reached perfection any more than Latin did. The true rule to
follow is to see that a man has something good to say. "Making a
division between thoughts and words is much the same as separating
soul and body. In order, therefore, to speak or write well, our
courtier must have knowledge; for he who has none, and whose mind is
void of matter worthy to be apprehended, has naught to say or write."
He must be careful to clothe his thoughts in select and fitting words,
but above all things to use such "as are still upon the lips of the
people." He need not shun foreign phrases, if there be a special force
in them above their synonyms in his own language. Nor is there cause
to fear lest the vulgar tongue should prove deficient in resources
when examined by grammarians and stylists. "Even though it be not
ancient Tuscan of the purest water, it will be Italian, common to the
nation, copious and varied, like a delicious garden full of divers
fruits and flowers." Here Castiglione quotes the precedent of Greek,
showing that each of its dialects contributed something to the common
stock, though Attic was recognized as sovereign for its polish. Among
the Romans likewise, Livy was not tabooed because of his patavinity,
nor Virgil because the Romans recognized a something in him of
rusticity. "We, meanwhile, far more severe than the ancients, impose
upon ourselves certain newfangled laws that have no true relation to
the object. With a beaten track before our eyes, we try to walk in
bypaths. We take a willful pleasure in obscurity, though our language,
like all others, is only meant to express our thoughts with force and
clearness. While we call it the popular speech, we plume ourselves on
using phrases that are not only unknown to the people, but
unintelligible to men of birth and learning, and which have fallen out
of conversation in every district of the land." If Petrarch and
Boccaccio were living at our epoch, they would certainly omit words
that have fallen out of fashion since their days; and it is mere
impertinence for a purist to tell me that I ought to say _Campidoglio_
instead of _Capitolio_ and so forth, because some elder Tuscan author
wrote it, or the peasants of the Tuscan district speak it so. You
argue that only pride prevents our imitating Petrarch and Boccaccio.
But pray inform me whom they imitated? To model Latin poems upon
Virgil or Catullus is necessary, because Latin is a dead language. But
since Italian is alive and spoken, let us write it as we use it, with
due attention to artistic elegance. "The final master of style is
genius, and the ultimate guide is a sound natural judgment." Do we
require all our painters to follow one precedent? Lionardo, Mantegna,
Raphael, Michelangelo, Giorgione have struck out different paths of
excellence in art. Writers should claim the same liberty of choice,
the same spontaneity of inspiration. "I cannot comprehend how it
should be right, instead of enriching Italian and giving it spirit,
dignity and luster, to make it poor, attenuated, humble and obscure,
and so to pen it up within fixed limits as that every one should have
to copy Petrarch and Boccaccio. Why should we, for example, not put
equal faith in Poliziano, Lorenzo de' Medici, Francesco Diaceto, and
others who are Tuscan too, and possibly of no less learning and
discretion than were Petrarch and Boccaccio? However, there are
certain scrupulous persons abroad nowadays, who make a religion and
ineffable mystery of their Tuscan tongue, frightening those who listen
to them, to the length of preventing many noble and lettered men from
opening their lips, and forcing them to admit they do not know how to
talk the language they learned from their nurses in the cradle."[323]

[Footnote 322: Ariosto's style was formed on precisely these

[Footnote 323: The preface to the _Cortegiano_ may be compared with
this passage. When it appeared, the critics complained that
Castiglione had not imitated Boccaccio. His answer is marked by good
sense and manly logic: see pp. 3, 4. With Castiglione, Aretino joined
hands, the ruffian with the gentleman, in this matter of revolt
against the purists. See the chapter in this volume upon Aretino.]

If the Italians could have accepted Castiglione's principles, and
approached the problem of their language in this liberal spirit, the
nation would have been spared its wearisome, perpetually recurrent
quarrel about words. But the matter had already got into the hands of
theorists; and local jealousies were inflamed. The municipal wars of
the middle ages were resuscitated on the ground of rhetoric and
grammar. Unluckily, the quarrel is not over; _adhuc sub judice lis
est_, and there is no judge to decide it. But in the nineteenth
century it no longer rages with the violence that made it a matter of
duels, assassinations and lifelong hatreds in the sixteenth. The
Italians have recently secured for the first time in their history the
external conditions which are necessary to a natural settlement of the
dispute by the formation of a common speech through common usage. The
parliament, the army, the newspapers of United Italy are rapidly
creating a language adequate to all the needs of modern life; and
though purists may still be found, who maintain that Passavanti's
_Specchio_ is a model of style for leading articles in _Fanfulla_, yet
the nation, having passed into a new phase of existence, must be
congratulated on having exchanged the "golden simplicity of the
_trecento_" for a powerful and variously-colored instrument of

To stir the dust of those obsolete controversies on the language of
Italy--to make extracts from Varchi's, Sperone's or Bembo's treatises
upon the Tongues--to set Tolommei's claims for Tuscan priority in the
balance against Muzio's more modest pleas in favor of Italian[324]--to
describe how one set of scholars argued that the vernacular ought to
be called Tuscan, how another dubbed it Florentine or Sienese, and how
a third, more sensible, voted for Italian[325]--to enumerate the
blasts and counterblasts of criticism blown about each sentence in
Boccaccio and Petrarch[326]--to resuscitate the orthographical
encounters between Trissino and Firenzuola on the matter of the letter
K--is no part of my present purpose. It must suffice to have noted
that these problems occupied the serious attention of the literary
world, and to have indicated by extracts from Sperone and Castiglione
the extreme limits of pedantry and sound sense between which the
opinion of the learned vibrated. The details of the quarrel may be
left to the obscurity of treatises, long since doomed to "dust and an
endless darkness."

[Footnote 324: Varchi's _Ercolano_ or _Dialogo delle Lingue_;
Sperone's dialogue _Delle Lingue_; Claudio Tolommei's _Cesano_;
Girolamo Muzio's _Battaglie_.]

[Footnote 325: Varchi called it _Fiorentina_, Tolommei and Salviati
_Toscana_, Bargagli _Senese_, Trissino and Muzio _Italiana_.
Castiglione and Bembo agreed in aiming at Italian rather than pure
Tuscan, but differed in their proposed method of cultivating style.
Bembo preferred to call the language _Volgare_, as it was the common
property of the _Volgo_. Castiglione suggested the title _Cortigiana_,
as it was refined and settled by the usage of Courts. Yet Castiglione
was more liberal than Bembo in acknowledging the claims of local

[Footnote 326: For a list of commentators upon Petrarch at this
period, see Tiraboschi, lib. iii. cap. iii., section 1. Common sense
found at last sarcastic utterance in Tassoni.]

Much unprofitable expenditure of time and thought upon verbal
questions of no vital interest was encouraged by the Academies, which
now began to sprout like mushrooms in all towns of Italy.[327] The
old humanistic societies founded by Cosimo de' Medici, Pomponius
Lætus, Pontano, and Aldo for the promotion of classical studies, had
done their work and died away. Their successor, the Umidi of Florence,
the Pellegrini of Venice, the Eterei of Padua, the Vignaiuoli of Rome,
professed to follow the same objects, with special attention to the
reformation of Italian literature. Yet their very titles indicate a
certain triviality and want of manly purpose. They were clubs
combining conviviality with he pursuit of study; and it too frequently
happened that the spirit of their jovial meetings extended itself to
the _dicerie_, _cicalate_ and _capitoli_ recited by their members,
when the cloth was drawn and the society sat down to intellectual
banquets. At the same time the Academies were so fashionable and so
universal that they gave the tone to literature. It was the ambition
of all rising students to be numbered with the more illustrious
bodies; and when a writer of promise joined one of these, he naturally
felt the influence of his companions. Member vied with member in
producing sonnets and rhetorical effusions on the slenderest themes;
for it was less an object to probe weighty matters or to discover
truth, than to make a display of ingenuity by clothing trifles in
sonorous language. Surrounded by a crowd of empty-pated but censorious
critics, exercised in the minutiæ of style and armed with precedents
from Petrarch, the poet read his verses to the company. They were
approved or rejected according as they satisfied the sense of
correctness, or fell below the conventional standard of imitative
diction. To think profoundly, to feel intensely, to imagine boldly, to
invent novelties, to be original in any line, was perilous. The
wealth of the Academies, the interest of the public in purely literary
questions, and the activity of the press encouraged the publication
and circulation of these pedantic exercises. Time would fail to tell
of all the poems and orations poured forth at the expense of these
societies and greedily devoured by friends prepared to eulogize, or
rival bodies eager to dissect and criticise. Students who are desirous
of forming some conception of the multitudes of poets at this period,
must be referred to the pages of Quadrio with a warning that
Tiraboschi is inclined to think that even Quadrio's lists are
incomplete. All ranks and conditions both of men and women joined in
the pursuit. Princes and plebeians, scholars and worldlings, noble
ladies and leaders of the _demi-monde_, high-placed ecclesiastics and
penniless Bohemians aspired to the same honors; and the one idol of
the motley crowd was Petrarch. There is no doubt that the final result
of their labors was the attainment of a certain grace and the
diffusion of literary elegance. Yet these gains carried with them a
false feeling about poetry in general, a wrong conception of its
purpose and its scope. The Italian purists could scarcely have
comprehended the drift of Milton's excursion, in his "Reason of Church
Government urged against Prelaty," upon the high vocation of the
prophet-bard. They would have been no less puzzled by Sidney's
definition of poetry, and have felt Shelley's last word upon the
poetic office, "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the
world," to be no better than a piece of pardonable lunacy.

[Footnote 327: See _Revival of Learning_, pp. 365-368.]

In this thick-spreading undergrowth of verse, where, as Tiraboschi
aptly remarks, "beneath the green and ample foliage we seek in vain
for fruit," it is difficult to see the wood by reason of the trees.
Poet so closely resembles poet in the mediocrity of similar
attainment, that we are forced to sigh for the energy of
Michelangelo's unfinished sonnets, or the crudities of Campanella's
muse. Yet it is possible to make a representative selection of
writers, who, while they belonged to the school of the purists and
were associated with the chief Academies of the day, distinguished
themselves by some originality of style or by enduring qualities of
literary excellence. Foremost among these may be placed Monsignore
Giovanni della Casa. He was born in 1503 of noble Florentine parents,
his mother being a member of the Tornabuoni family. Educated at
Bologna, he entered the service of the Church, and already in 1538 had
reached the dignity of Apostolic Clerk. Rome was still what Lorenzo
de' Medici had called it, "a sink of all the vices," and very few
ecclesiastics escaped its immoralities. La Casa formed some permanent
connection, the fruit of which was his acknowledged son Quirino.[328]
In 1540 he was sent on a special mission to Florence with the title of
Apostolic Commissary; and in 1544 he was raised to the Archbishopric
of Benevento, and soon afterwards appointed Nuncio at Venice. During
the pontificate of Julius III., finding himself out of favor with the
Vatican, he continued to reside at Venice, employing his leisure in
literary occupations. Paul IV. recalled him to Rome, and made him
Secretary of State. But though he seemed upon the point of touching
the highest ecclesiastical dignity, La Casa was never promoted to the
Cardinalate. It is difficult to find a reason for this omission,
unless we accept the traditional belief that the scandal of his
_Capitolo del Forno_ barred La Casa's entrance to the Sacred
College.[329] This burlesque poem, at any rate, supplied the
Protestants with a weapon which they used against the Church. The
legend based upon its audacious obscenities was credited by Bayle, and
in part refuted by the _Antibaillet_ of Ménage. Though by no means
more offensive to good taste than scores of similar compositions, the
high rank of its author and the offices of trust he had discharged for
the Papal Curia, emphasized its infamy, and caused La Casa to be
chosen as the scapegoat for his comrades. He died in 1556.

[Footnote 328: Quirino is mentioned as "legitimatum, seu forsitan
legitimandum," in La Casa's will (_Opp._ Venezia, Pasinelli, 1752,
vol. i. p. lxxvii.). From his name and his age at La Casa's death we
ought perhaps to refer this fruit of his amours to the Venetian period
of his life and his intimacy with the Quirino family. His biographer,
Casotti, says that he discovered nothing about the mother's name
(_loc. cit._ p. lxxiii.).]

[Footnote 329: La Casa received a special commission at Venice in
1546, to prosecute Pier Paolo Vergerio for heresy. When Vergerio went
into exile, he did his best to blacken La Casa's character, and used
his writings to point the picture he drew in Protestant circles of
ecclesiastical profligacy. The whole subject of La Casa's exclusion
from the College is treated by his editor, Casotti (_Opp._ vol. 1. pp.
xlv.-xlviii.). That the Bishop of Benevento was stung to the quick by
Vergerio's invectives may be seen in his savage answer "Adversus
Paulum Vergerium" (_Opp._ iii. 103), and in the hendecasyllables "Ad
Germanos" (_Opp._ i. 295), both of which discuss the _Forno_ and
attempt to apologize for it.]

La Casa's name is best known in modern literature by his treatise on
the manners of the finished gentleman. In his short essay, entitled
_Galateo_, he discusses the particulars of social conduct, descending
to rules about the proper use of the drinking-glass at table, the
employment of the napkin, the dressing of the hair, and the treatment
of immodest topics by polite periphrases.[330] Galateo is recommended
not to breathe hard in the face of the persons he is speaking to, not
to swear at his servants in company, not to trim his nails in public,
not to tell indecent anecdotes to girls, and so forth. He is shown how
to dress with proper pomp, what ceremonies to observe, and which to
omit as servile or superfluous, how to choose his words, and how to
behave at dinner. The book is an elaborate discourse on etiquette; and
while it never goes far below the surface, it is full of useful
precepts based upon the principles of mutual respect and tolerance
which govern good society. We might accept it as a sequel to the
_Courtier_; for while Castiglione drew the portrait of a gentleman, La
Casa explained how this gentleman should conduct himself among his
equals. The chief curiosity about the book is, that a man of its
author's distinction should have thought it worthy of his pains to
formulate so many rules of simple decency. From the introduction it is
clear that La Casa meant the _Galateo_ to be a handbook for young men
entering upon the world. That it fulfilled this purpose, seems proved
by the fact that its title passed into a proverb. "To teach the
Galateo" is synonymous in Italian with to teach good manners.

[Footnote 330: _Opp._ vol. i. pp. 237-306. Galateo is said to have
been a certain Galeazzo Florimonte of Sessa.]

One whole volume of La Casa's collected works is devoted to his
official and familiar correspondence, composed in choice but colorless
Italian.[331] Another contains his Italian and Latin poems. No poet of
the century expressed his inner self more plainly than La Casa in his
verse. The spectacle is stern and grave. From the vocabulary of the
Tuscan classics he seems to have chosen the gloomiest phrases, to
adumbrate some unknown terror of the soul.[332] Sometimes his sonnets,
in their vivid but polished grandeur, rise even to sublimity, as when
he compares himself to a leafless wood in winter, beaten by fiercer
storms, with days more cold and short in front, and with a longer
night to follow.[333] It is a cheerless prospect of old age and death,
uncomforted by hope, unvisited by human love. The same shadow,
intensified by even a deeper horror of some coming doom, rests upon
another sonnet in which he deplores his wasted life.[334] It drapes,
as with a funeral pall, the long majestic ode describing his early
errors and the vanity of worldly pomp.[335] It adds despair to his
lines on jealousy, intensity to his satire on Court-life, and
incommunicable sadness to the poems of his love.[336] Very judicious
were the Italian critics who pronounced his style too stern for the
erotic muse. We find something at once sinister and solemn in his
mood. The darkness that envelops him, issues from the depth of his own
heart. The world around is bright with beautiful women and goodly men;
but he is alone, shut up with fear and self-reproach. Such a voice
befits the age, as we learn to know it in our books of history, far
better than the light effusions of contemporary rhymsters. It suits
the black-robed personages painted by Moroni, whose calm pale eyes
seem gazing on a world made desolate, they know not why. Its accents
are all the more melancholy because La Casa yielded to no impulses of
rage. He remained sober, cold, sedate; but by some fatal instinct
shunned the light and sought the shade. The gloom that envelops him is
only broken by the baleful fires of his _Capitoli_. That those
burlesque verses, of which I shall speak in another place, were
written in his early manhood, and that the _Rime_ were perhaps the
composition of his age, need not prevent us from connecting them
together. The dreariness of La Casa's later years may well have been
engendered by the follies of his youth. It is the despondency of
exhaustion following on ill-expended energy, the _tædium vitæ_ which
fell on Italy when she awoke from laughter.

[Footnote 331: Vol. ii. of the Venetian edition, 1752.]

[Footnote 332: Take for instance this outburst from a complimentary
sonnet (No. 40, vol. i. p. 70):

    O tempestosa, o torbida procella,
      Che 'n mar sì crudo la mia vita giri!
      Donna amar, ch'Amor odia e i suoi desiri,
      Che sdegno e feritate onor appella.

Or this opening of the sonnet on Court-honors (No. 26):

    Mentre fra valli paludose ed ime
      Ritengon me larve turbate, e mostri,
      Che tra le gemme, lasso, e l'auro, e gli ostri
      Copron venen, che 'l cor mi roda e lima.

Or this from a _Canzone_ on his love (No. 2):

    Qual chiuso albergo in solitario bosco
      Pien di sospetto suol pregar talora
      Corrier di notte traviato e lasso;
      Tal io per entro il tuo dubbioso, e fosco.
      E duro calle, Amor, corro e trapasso.]

[Footnote 333: Sonnet 58, vol. i. 154.]

[Footnote 334: No. 52, _ib._ p. 136.]

[Footnote 335: _Canzone_ 4, _ib._ p. 102.]

[Footnote 336: Sonnets 8, 26, 40. _ib._ pp. 12, 39, 70; _Canzone_ 2,
_ib._ p. 79.]

In illustration of the foregoing remarks I have translated six of La
Casa's sonnets, which I shall here insert without further
comment.[337] In point of form, Italian literature can show few
masterpieces superior to the first and second.

[Footnote 337: They are Nos. 58, 50, 25, 26, 8. The sixth, on
Jealousy, may be compared with Sannazzaro's, above, p. 200.]

    Sweet woodland solitude, that art so dear
      To my dark soul lost in doubt's dreadful maze,
      Now that the North-wind, these short sullen days,
      Wraps earth and air in winter's mantle drear,
    And thy green ancient shadowy locks are sere,
      White as my own, above the frosty ways,
      Where summer flowers once basked beneath heaven's rays,
      But rigid ice now reigns and snows austere;
    Pondering upon that brief and cloudy light
      That's left for me, I walk, and feel my mind
      And members, like thy branches, frozen too;
    Yet me, within, without, worse frost doth bind,
      My winter brings a fiercer East-wind's blight,
      A longer darkness, days more cold, more few.

    O Sleep, O tranquil son of noiseless Night,
      Of humid, shadowy Night; O dear repose
      For wearied men, forgetfulness of woes
      Grievous enough the bloom of life to blight!
    Succor this heart that hath outgrown delight,
      And knows no rest; these tired limbs compose;
      Fly to me, Sleep; thy dusky vans disclose
      Over my languid eyes, then cease thy flight.
    Where, where is Silence, that avoids the day?
      Where the light dreams, that with a wavering tread
      And unsubstantial footing follow thee?
    Alas! in vain I call thee; and these gray,
      These frigid shades flatter in vain. O bed,
      How rough with thorns! O nights, how harsh to me!

    It was my wont by day to seek the grove
      Or grot or font, soothing my soul with song,
      Weaving sweet woes in rhyme, and all night long
      To watch the stars with Phoebus and with Love;
    Nor, Bernard, did I fear with thee to rove
      That sacred mount where now few poets throng:
      Till like sea-billows, uncontrollably strong,
      Me too the vulgar usage earthward drove;
    And bound me down to tears and bitter life,
      Where fonts are not, nor laurel boughs, nor shade,
      But false and empty honor stirs vain strife.
    Now, not unmixed with envious regret,
      I watch thee scale yon far-off heights, where yet
      No footstep on the sward was ever laid.

    While mid low-lying dells and swampy vales
      Those troubled ghosts and dreams my feet delay,
      Which hide 'neath gems and gold and proud array
      The barb of poison that my heart impales;
    Thou on the heights that virtue rarely scales,
      By paths untrodden and a trackless way,
      Wrestling for fame with thine own soul, dost stray,
      Free o'er yon hills no earth-born cloud assails.
    Whence I take shame and sorrow, when I think
      How with the crowd in this low net accursed
      I fell, and how 'tis doomed that I shall die.
    O happy thou! Thou hast assuaged thy thirst!
      Not Phoebus but grief dwells with me, and I
      Must wait to purge my woes on Lethe's brink.

    Now pomps and purple, now clear stream or field
      Seeking, I've brought my day to evensong,
      Profitless, like dry fern or tares, the throng
      Of luckless herbs that no fair fruitage yield.
    Wherefore my heart, false guide on this vain quest,
      More than a smitten flint strikes spark and flame;
      So dulled a spirit must she bring with shame
      To Him who placed it bright within my breast.
    Poor heart! She well deserves to chafe and burn
      Since her so precious and so noble freight,
      Ill-governed, she to loss and woe doth turn!
    Nor 'neath the North-wind do the branches quake
      On yonder bristling oak-trees, as I shake
      Fearing that even repentance comes too late.

    Heart-ache, that drawest nutriment from fear,
      And still through growing fear dost gather power;
      That mingling ice with flame, confusion drear
      And fell disaster on love's realm dost shower!
    Forth from my breast, since all thy bitter cheer
      With my life's sweet thou'st blent in one brief hour!
      Hence to Cocytus! Where hell drinks each tear
      Of tortured souls, self-plagued, self-loathing, cower!
    There without rest thy dolorous days drag out,
      Thy dark nights without slumber! Smart thy worst
      No less with felt pangs than fictitious doubt!
    Avaunt! Why fiercer now than at the first,
      Now when thy venom runs my veins throughout,
      Bring'st thou on those black wings new dreams accurst?

The vicissitudes of Italy during the first half of the sixteenth
century were so tragic, and her ruin was so near at hand, that we
naturally seek some echo of this anguish in the verses of her poets.
Nothing, however, is rarer than to find direct allusion to the
troubles of the times, or apprehension of impending danger expressed
in sonnet or _canzone_. While following Petrarch to the letter, the
purists neglected his odes to Rienzi and the Princes of Italy. His
passionate outcry, _Italia mia_, found no response in their rhetoric.
Those sublime outpourings of eloquence, palpitating with alternate
hopes and fears, might have taught the poets how to write at least the
threnody of Rome or Florence. Had they studied this side of their
master's style, the gravity of the matter supplied them by the
miseries of their country, might have immortalized their purity of
style. As it was, they preferred the _Rime in Vita e Morte di Madonna
Laura_, and sang of sentiments they had not felt, while Italy was
dying. Only here and there, as in the somber rhymes of La Casa, the
spirit of the age found utterance unconsciously. But for the mass of
versifiers it was enough to escape from the real agonies of the moment
into academical Arcadia, to forget the Spaniard and the Frenchman in
Philiroe's lap with Ariosto, or to sigh for a past age of gold:[338]

    O rivi, o fonti, o fiumi, o faggi, o querce,
      Onde il mondo novello ebbe suo cibo
      In quel tranquilli secoli dell'oro:
      Deh come ha il folle poi cangiando l'esca,
      Cangiato il gusto! e come son questi anni
      Da quei diversi in povertate e 'n guerra!

[Footnote 338: La Casa, _Canzone_ 4 (_Opp._ i. 151).]

This makes the occasional treatment of political subjects the more
valuable; and we hail the patriotic poems of Giovanni Guidiccioni as a
relief from the limpid nonsense of the amourists. Born at Lucca in
1500, he was made Bishop of Fossombrone by Paul III., and died in
1541. Contemporaries praised him for the grandeur of his conceptions
and the severity of his diction, while they censured the obscurity
that veiled his unfamiliar thoughts. "In those songs," writes Lilius
Giraldus, "which he composed upon the woes and miseries of Italy, he
set before his readers ample proofs of his illustrious style."[339]
One sonnet might be chosen from these rhymes, reproving the Italians
for their slavery and shame, and pointing to the cause, now
irremediable, of their downfall:[340]

    From deep and slothful slumber, where till now
      Entombed thou liest, waken, breathe, arise!
      Look on those wounds with anger in thine eyes,
      Italia, self-enslaved in folly's slough!
    The diadem of freedom from thy brow
      Torn through thine own misdoing, seek with sighs;
      Turn to the path, that straight before thee lies,
      From yonder crooked furrow thou dost plow.
    Think on thine ancient memories! Thou shalt see
      That those who once thy triumphs did adorn,
      Have chained thee to their yoke with fetters bound.
    Foe to thyself, thine own iniquity,
      With fame for them, for thee fierce grief and scorn,
      To this vile end hath forced thee, Queen discrowned!

[Footnote 339: _De Poetis_, Dial. ii.]

[Footnote 340: _Opere di Messer G. Guidiccioni_ (Firenze, Barbèra,
1867), vol. i. p. 12.]

Such appeals were impotent. Yet they proved a consciousness of the
situation, an unextinguished sense of duty, in the man who penned

[Footnote 341: We might parallel Guidiccioni's lamentations with
several passages from the Latin elegies of the period, and with some
of the obscurer compositions of Italian poetasters. See, for example,
the extracts from Cariteo of Naples, Tibaldeo of Ferrara, and Cammelli
of Pistoja on the passage of Charles VIII. quoted by Carducci, _Delle
Poesie Latine di Ludovico Ariosto_, pp. 83-86. But the most touching
expression of sympathy with Italy's disaster is the sudden silence of
Boiardo in the middle of a canto of _Orlando_. See above, part i. p.

The Court-life followed by professional men of letters made it
difficult for them to utter their real feelings in an age of bitter
political jealousies. They either held their tongues, or kept within
the safer regions of compliment and fancy. The biographies of Annibale
Caro and Lodovico Castelvetro illustrate the ordinary conditions as
well as the exceptional vicissitudes of the literary career at this
epoch. Annibale Caro was born in 1507 at Civitanuova in the March of
Ancona. Being poor and of humble origin, he entered the family of
Luigi Gaddi at Florence, in the quality of tutor to his children. This
patron died in 1541, and Caro then took service under Pier Luigi
Farnese, one of the worst princelings of the period. When the Duke was
murdered in 1547, he transferred himself to Parma, still following the
fortunes of the Farnesi. Employed as secretary by the Cardinal
Ranuccio and afterwards by the Cardinal Alessandro of that house, he
lived at ease until his death in 1566. Caro's letters, written for his
patrons, and his correspondence with the famous scholars of the day,
pass for models of Italian epistolography. Less rigid than La Casa's,
less manneristic than Bembo's, his style is distinguished by a natural
grace and elegance of diction. He formed his manner by translation
from the Greek, especially by a version of _Daphnis and Chloe_, which
may be compared with Firenzuola's _Asino d'Oro_ for classic beauty
and facility of phrase. But the great achievement of his life was a
transcription of the _Æneid_ into blank verse. Though Caro's poem
exceeds the original by about 5,500 lines, and therefore cannot pass
for an exact copy of Virgil's form, Italians still reckon it the
standard translation of their national epic. The charm of Caro's prose
was communicated to his _versi sciolti_, always easy, always flowing,
with varied cadence and sustained melody of rhythm. A _Diceria de'
Nasi_, or discourse on noses, and a dissertation called _Ficheide_,
commenting on Molza's _Fichi_, prove that Caro lent himself with
pleasure to the academical follies of his contemporaries. It seems
incredible that a learned man, who had spent the best years of his
maturity in diplomatic missions to the Courts of princes, should have
employed the leisure of his age in polishing these trifles. Yet such
was the temper of the times that this frivolity passed for a
commendable exercise of ingenuity.

Caro's original poems have not much to recommend them beyond limpidity
of language. The sonnets to an imaginary mistress repeat conventional
antitheses and complimentary _concetti_.[342] The adulatory odes are
stiff and labored, as, indeed, they might be, when we consider that
they were made to order upon Charles V., the Casa Farnese, and the
lilies of France, by a plebeian scholar from Ancona.[343] The
last-named of these flatteries, "Venite all'ombra de' gran gigli
d'oro," is a masterpiece of prize poetry, produced with labor, filed
to superficial smoothness, and overloaded with conceits. On its
appearance it was hailed with acclamation as the final triumph of
Italian writing. The Farnesi, who had recently placed themselves under
the protection of France, and who bore her lilies on their scutcheon,
used all their influence to get their servant's work applauded. The
Academies were delighted with a display of consummate artifice and
mechanical ability. One only voice was raised in criticism. Aurelio
Bellincini, a gentleman of Modena, had sent a copy of the ode to
Lodovico Castelvetro, with a request that he should pronounce upon its
merits. Castelvetro, who was wayward and independent beyond the usual
prudence of his class, replied with a free censure of the "plebeian
diction, empty phrases, strange digressions, purple patches, poverty
of argument, and absence of sentiment or inspiration," he detected in
its stanzas. At the same time he begged his friend to keep this
criticism to himself. Bellincini was indiscreet, and the letter found
its way to Caro. Then arose a literary quarrel, which held all Italy
in suspense, and equaled in ferocity the combats of the humanists.

[Footnote 342: See, for example, "Donna, qual mi foss'io," and "In voi
mi trasformai," or "Eran l'aer tranquillo e l'onde chiare."]

[Footnote 343: See "Carlo il Quinto fu questi"; "Nell'apparir del
giorno"; and "Venite all'ombra de' gran gigli d'oro."]

Lodovico Castelvetro was born in 1505 at Modena. He studied
successively at Bologna, Ferrara, Padua, and Siena. Thence he passed
to Rome, where strong pressure was put upon him to enter orders. His
uncle, Giovanni Maria della Porta, promised, if he did so, to procure
for him the bishopric of Gubbio. But Castelvetro had no mind to become
a priest. He escaped clandestinely from Rome, and, after a brief
sojourn at Siena, returned to Modena. Here in 1542 he subscribed the
Formulary of Faith dictated by Cardinal Contarini, and thereby fell
under suspicion of heresy. Though he escaped inquisitorial censure at
the moment, the charges of Lutheranism were revived in 1554, when Caro
declared open war against him. Invectives, apologies, censures, and
replies were briskly interchanged between the principals, while half
the scholars of Italy allowed themselves to be drawn into the
fray--Varchi and Molza siding with Caro, Gian Maria Barbieri and other
friends of Castelvetro taking up the cudgels for the opposite
champion.[344] The bitterness of the contending parties may be
gathered from the fact that Castelvetro was accused of having murdered
a friend of Caro's, and Caro of having hired assassins to take
Castelvetro's life.[345] It seems tolerably certain that either Caro
or one of his supporters denounced their enemy to the Inquisition. He
was summoned to Rome, and in 1560 was confined in the convent of S.
Maria in Via to await his trial. After undergoing some preliminary
examinations, Castelvetro became persuaded that his life was in peril.
He contrived to escape by night from Rome, and, after a journey of
much anxiety and danger, took refuge in Chiavenna, at that time a city
of the Grisons. The Holy Office condemned him as a contumacious
heretic in his absence. Wandering from Chiavenna to Lyons and Geneva,
and back again to Chiavenna, he spent the rest of his life in exile,
and died at the last place in 1571.

[Footnote 344: Among the liveliest missiles used in this squabble are
Bronzino's _Sattarelli_, recently reprinted by Romagnoli, Bologna,

[Footnote 345: Alberigo Longo was in fact murdered in 1555, and a
servant of Castelvetro's was tried for the offense. But he was
acquitted. Caro, on his side, gave occasion to the worst reports by
writing in May 1560 to Varchi: "E credo che all'ultimo sarò sforzato a
finirla, per ogni altra via, e vengane ciò che vuole." See Tiraboschi,
Part 3, lib. iii. chap. 3 sec. 13.]

Castelvetro's publications do not correspond to his fame; for though
he gave signs of an acute wit and a biting pen in his debate with
Caro, he left but little highly-finished work to posterity. In
addition to critical annotations upon Bembo's prose, published in his
lifetime, he wrote a treatise upon Rhetoric, which was printed at
Modena in 1653, and sent an Italian version of Aristotle's _Poetics_
to the press in 1570. This book was the idol of his later years. It is
said that, while residing at Lyons, his house took fire, and
Castelvetro, careless of all else, kept crying out "The _Poetics_, the
_Poetics_! Save me my _Poetics_!" He may be fairly reckoned among the
men who did solid service in the cause of graver studies. Yet, but for
the vicissitudes of his career, he could hardly claim a foremost place
in literary history.

The ladies who cultivated poetry and maintained relations with
illustrious men of letters at this epoch, were almost as numerous as
the songsters of the other sex. Lodovico Domenichi in the year 1559
published the poems of no less than fifty authoresses in his _Rime di
alcune nobilissime e virtuosissime Donne_. Subjected to the same
intellectual training as men, they felt the same influences, and
passed at the same moment from humanism to renascent Italian
literature.[346] Many of these Viragos,[347] as it was the fashion of
the age approvingly and with no touch of sarcasm to call them, were
dames of high degree and leaders of society. Some, like _la bella
Imperia_, were better known in the resorts of pleasure. All were
distinguished by intercourse with artists and writers of eminence. It
is impossible to render an account of their literary labors. But the
names of a few, interesting alike for their talents and their amours,
may here be recorded. Tullia di Aragona, the mistress of Girolamo
Muzio, who ruled society in Rome, and lived in infamy at
Venice[348]--Vittoria Accoramboni, whose tragedy thrilled Italy, and
gave a masterpiece to our Elizabethan stage--Tarquinia Molza,
granddaughter of the poet, and maid of honor at Ferrara in Guarini's
brilliant days--Laura Terracina, with whose marriage and murder
romance employed itself at the expense of probability--Veronica
Franco, who entertained Montaigne in her Venetian home in
1580--Ersilia Cortese, the natural daughter of a humanist and wife of
a Pope's nephew--Gaspara Stampa, "sweet songstress and most excellent
musician":--such were the women, to whom Bembo and Aretino addressed
letters, and whose drawing-rooms were the resort of Bandello's heroes.

[Footnote 346: The identity of male and female education in Italy is
an important feature of this epoch. The history of Vittorino da
Feltre's school at Mantua given by his biographer, Rosmini, supplies
valuable information upon this point. Students may consult Burckhardt,
_Cultur der Renaissance_, sec. 5, ed. 2, p. 312; Gregorovius,
_Lucrezia Borgia_, book i. sec. 4; Janitschek, _Gesellschaft der
Renaissance_, Lecture 3.]

[Footnote 347: See Vulgate, Gen. ii. 23: "Hæc vocabitur Virago," etc.]

[Footnote 348: In a rare tract called _Tariffa delle puttane, etc._,
Tullia d'Aragona is catalogued among the courtesans of Venice. See
Passano, _Novellieri in Verso_, p. 118.]

Two poetesses have to be distinguished from the common herd. These are
Veronica Gambara and Vittoria Colonna. Veronica was the daughter of
Count Gianfrancesco Gambara and his wife Alda Pia of Carpi, whose name
recalls the fervid days of humanism at its noon.[349] She was born in
1485, and was therefore contemporary with the restorers of Italian
literature. Bembo was the guide of her youth, and Vittoria Colonna the
friend of her maturer years. In 1509 she married Giberto, lord of
Correggio, by whom she had two sons, Ippolito and Girolamo. Her
husband died after nine years of matrimony, and she was left to
educate her children for the State and Church. She discharged her
duties as a mother with praiseworthy diligence, and died in 1550,
respected by all Italy, the type of what a noble woman should be in an
age when virtue shone by contrast with especial luster. Her letters
and her poems were collected and published in 1759 at Brescia, the
city of her birth. Except for the purity of their sentiments and the
sincerity of their expression, her verses do not rise far above
mediocrity. Like literary ladies of the French metropolis, she owed
her fame to personal rather than to literary excellence. "The house of
Veronica," writes a biographer of the sixteenth century, "was an
Academy, where every day she gathered round her for discourse on noble
questions Bembo and Cappello, Molza and Mauro, and all the famous men
of Europe who followed the Italian Courts."[350]

[Footnote 349: See _Revival of Learning_, p. 375.]

[Footnote 350: Rinaldo Corso, quoted by Tiraboschi.]

Fabrizio, the father of Vittoria Colonna, was Grand Constable of
Naples. He married Agnesina di Montefeltro, daughter of Duke Federigo
of Urbino. Their child Vittoria was born at Marino, a feud of the
Colonna family, in the year 1490. At the age of four she was betrothed
to Ferrante Francesco D'Avalos, a boy of the same age, the only son
of the Marchese di Pescara. His father died while he was still a
child: and in their nineteenth year the affianced couple were married
at Ischia, the residence of the house of D'Avalos. The splendor of two
princely families alike distinguished in the annals of Spanish and
Italian history and illustrious by their military honors, conferred
unusual luster upon this marriage. It was, moreover, on the bride's
side at least, a love-match. Vittoria was beautiful and cultivated;
the young Marquis of Pescara chivalrous and brave. She was tenderly
attached to him, and he had not as yet revealed the darker side of his
mixed character. Yet their happiness proved of very short duration. In
1512 he was wounded and made prisoner at the battle of Ravenna; and
though he returned to his wife for a short interval, his duties again
called him to the field of war in Lombardy in 1515. Vittoria never saw
him after this date; and before his death the honor of her hero was
tarnished by one of the darkest deeds of treason recorded in Italian
history. Acting as general for the Spanish emperor, the Marquis
entered Milan immediately after the battle of Pavia in 1525. He there
and then began his intrigues with Girolamo Morone, Grand Chancellor of
Francesco Sforza's duchy. Morone had formed a plan for reinstating his
master in Milan by the help of an Italian coalition. With the view of
securing the Marquis of Pescara, by which bold stroke he would have
paralyzed the Spanish military power, Morone offered the young general
the crown of Naples, if he would consent to join the league. D'Avalos
turned a not unwilling ear to these proposals; but while the plot was
hatching, he saw good reason to doubt of its success, and determined
to clear himself with Charles V. by revealing the conspiracy.
Accordingly, he made his lieutenant, Antonio de Leyva, assist at a
privy conference between Morone and himself. Concealed behind the
arras, this Spanish officer heard enough to be able afterwards to
deliver direct testimony against the conspirators, while the Marquis
averred that he had led them on designedly to this end. It may be
difficult to estimate the precise amount of Pescara's guilt. But
whether he was deceiving Morone from the first, or whether, as seems
more probable, he entered the negotiation resolved to side with
Charles or with the League as best might suit his purpose, there can
be no doubt that he played an odious part in this transaction. He did
not long survive the treason; for his constitution had been ruined by
wounds received at Pavia. It was also rumored that Charles accelerated
his death by poison. He died on November 25, 1525, execrated by the
Italians, and handed down by their historians too perpetual infamy.
Something of national jealousy mingled undoubtedly in their
resentment. D'Avalos was a Spaniard, and made no concealment of his
contempt for the Italian character. Finally, it must be admitted that
if he really was acting throughout in his master's interest, his
betrayal of Morone was but a bold stroke of policy which Machiavelli
might have approved. The game was a dangerous one; but it was
thoroughly consistent with statecraft as then understood.[351]

[Footnote 351: See _Ricordi Inediti di Gerolamo Morone_, pubblicati
dal C. Tullio Dandolo, Milano, 1855.]

No suspicion of her husband's guilt seems to have crossed Vittoria
Colonna's mind. Though left so young a widow, beautiful and
illustrious by her high rank and education, she determined to
consecrate her whole life to his memory and to religion. She survived
him two-and-twenty years, which were spent partly in retirement at
Ischia, partly in convents at Orvieto and Viterbo, partly in a
semi-monastic seclusion at Rome. While still a girl and during her
husband's absence in the field, she had amused her leisure with study.
This now became her chief resource in the hours she spared from pious
exercises. There was no man of great name in the world of letters who
did not set his pride on being thought her friend. The collections of
letters and poems belonging to that period abound in allusions to her
genius, her holiness, and her great beauty. But her chief associates
were the group of earnest thinkers who felt the influences of the
Reformation without ceasing to be children of the Church. With
Vittoria Colonna's name are inseparably connected those of Gasparo
Contarini, Reginald Pole, Giovanni Morone, Jacopo Sadoleto,
Marcantonio Flamminio, Pietro Carnesecchi, and Fra Bernardino Ochino.
The last of these avowed his Lutheran principles; and Carnesecchi was
burned for heresy; but Vittoria never adopted Protestantism in any of
its dogmatic aspects. She remained an orthodox Catholic to the last,
although it seems tolerably certain that she was by no means ignorant
of the new doctrines nor unsympathetic to their spirit.[352] Her
attitude was probably the same as that of many Italians who, before
the opening of the Council of Trent, desired a reformation from within
the Church. To bring it back to purer morals and an evangelical
sincerity of faith, was their aim. Like Savonarola, they shrank from
heresy, and failed to comprehend that a radical renovation of religion
was inseparable, in the changed conditions of modern thought, from a
metamorphosis of dogma and a new freedom accorded to the individual
conscience. While the Teutonic world struck boldly for the liberation
of the reason, the Italians dreamed of an impossible harmony between
Catholicism and philosophy. Their compromises led to ethical
hypocrisies and to that dogmatic despotism which was confirmed by the
Tridentine Council.

[Footnote 352: The most recent investigations tend rather to confirm
the tradition of Vittoria's Lutheran leanings. See Giuseppe Campori's
_Vittoria Colonna_ (Modena, 1878), and the fine article upon it by
Ernesto Masi in the _Rassegna Settimanale_, January 29, 1879. Karl
Benrath's _Ueber die Quellen der italienischen Reformationsgeschichte_
(Bonn, 1876) is a valuable contribution to the history of Lutheran
opinion in the South.]

A pleasant glimpse into Vittoria's life at Rome is given by the
Portuguese artist, Francesco d'Olanda, who visited her about the year
1548. "Madonna Vittoria Colonna," he says, "Marchioness of Pescara and
sister to the Lord Antonio Colonna, is one of the most excellent and
famous women of Europe,--that is, of the whole civilized world. Not
less chaste than beautiful, learned in Latin literature and full of
genius, she possesses all the qualities and virtues that are
praiseworthy in woman. After the death of her hero husband, she now
leads a modest and retired life. Tired with the splendor and grandeur
of her former state, she gives her whole affections to Christ and to
serious studies. To the poor she is beneficent, and is a model of
true Catholic devotion." He then proceeds to describe a conversation
held with her, in which Michelangelo Buonarroti took a part.[353]

[Footnote 353: The whole document may be seen in the _Archivio
Storico_, nuov. ser. tom. v. part 2, p. 139, or in Grimm's Life of

Vittoria Colonna's _Rime_ consist for the most part of sonnets on the
death of her husband, and on sacred and moral subjects. Penetrated by
genuine feeling and almost wholly free from literary affectation, they
have that dignity and sweetness which belongs to the spontaneous
utterance of a noble heart. Like the poets of an earlier and simpler
age, Vittoria listens to the voice of Love, and when he speaks,
records the thoughts dictated by his inspiration.[354] That the object
of her lifelong regret was unworthy of her, does not offend our sense
of fitness.[355] It is manifest that her own feeling for the Marquis
of Pescara, _il mio bel sole, mio lume eterno_, as she loves to call
him with pathetic iteration of the chosen metaphor, had satisfied her
unsuspecting nature.[356] Death consecrates her husband for Vittoria,
as death canonized Laura for Petrarch. He has become divine, and her
sole desire is to rejoin him in a world where parting is
impossible.[357] The blending of the hero with the saint, of earthly
fame with everlasting glory, in this half Christian half Pagan
apotheosis, is characteristic of the Renaissance. Michelangelo strikes
the same note in the _Capitolo_ upon his father's death: "Or sei tu
del morir morto e fatto divo." It is said that, in her first grief,
Vittoria thought of suicide as the means of escaping from this world.
But she triumphed over the temptation, and in Bembo's words proved
herself _vincitrice di se stessa_. We seem to trace the anguish of
that struggle in a sonnet which may possibly have suggested Bembo's

[Footnote 354: The first lines of the introductory sonnet are strictly

    Scrivo sol per sfogar l'interna doglia,
      Di che si pasce il cor, ch'altro non vole,
      E non per giunger lume al mio bel sole,
      Che lasciò in terra si onorata spoglia.]

[Footnote 355: The last biographer of Vittoria Colonna, G. Campori,
has shown that her husband was by no means faithful to his marriage

[Footnote 356: The close of the twenty-second sonnet is touching by
reason of its allusion to the past. Vittoria had no children.

    Sterili i corpi fur, l'alme feconde,
      Chè il suo valor lasciò raggio si chiaro,
      Che sarà lume ancor del nome mio.
    Se d'altre grazie mi fu il ciel avaro,
      E se il mio caro ben morte m'asconde,
      Pur con lui vivo; ed è quanto disio.]

[Footnote 357: See, for instance, _Rime Varie_, Sonetto li. and lxxi.

[Footnote 358: It is No. 31 of the _Rime Varie_ (Florence, Barbèra,

The religious sonnets are distinguished in general by the same
simplicity and sincerity of style.[359] While Vittoria proves herself
a Catholic by her invocation of Madonna and S. Francis,[360] it is to
the cross of Christ that she turns with the deepest outgoings of pious
feeling.[361] Her cry is for lively faith, for evangelical purity of
conviction. There is nothing in these meditations that a Christian of
any communion may not read with profit, as the heartfelt utterances of
a soul athirst for God and nourished on the study of the Gospel.

[Footnote 359: The introductory Sonnet has, however, these ugly

    I santi chiodi ormai sian le mie penne,
      E puro inchiostro il prezioso sangue;
      Purgata carta il sacro corpo esangue,
      Sì ch'io scriva nel cor quel ch'ei sostenne.]

[Footnote 360: _Rime Sacre_, 119, 120, 86, 87.]

[Footnote 361: _Ibid._ 75, 80, 81.]

The memory of Vittoria Colonna is inseparable from that of
Michelangelo Buonarroti, who was her intimate companion during the
closing years of her life. Of that famous friendship this is not the
place to speak at length. It may be enough to report Condivi's words
about Michelangelo's grief when he had lost her. "I remember having
heard him say that nothing caused him so much sorrow as that, when he
went to visit her upon her passage from this life, he had not kissed
her forehead and face, even as he kissed her hand. Her death left him
oftentimes astonied and, as it were, deprived of reason." Some of
Michelangelo's best sonnets were composed for Vittoria Colonna in her
lifetime. Others record his sorrow for her loss. Those again which
give expression to his religious feelings, are animated by her spirit
of genuine piety. It is clear that her influence affected him

To include any notice of Michelangelo's poetry in a chapter devoted to
the purists, may seem paradoxical.[362] His verses are remarkable for
the imperfection of their style, and the rugged elevation of their
thoughts. With the school of Bembo he has nothing in common except
that Platonism which the versifiers of the time affected as a fashion,
but which had a real meaning for his creative genius. In the second
half of the sixteenth century Michelangelo's sonnets upon the divine
idea, lifting the soul by contemplation to her heavenly home, reach
our ears like utterances from some other and far distant age. Both in
form and in spirit they are alien to the _cinque cento_. Yet the
precisians of the time admired these uncouth verses for the
philosophic depth of thought they found in them. Benedetto Varchi
composed a learned treatise on the sonnet "Non ha l'ottimo artista";
and when the poems were printed, Mario Guidicci delivered two lectures
on them before the Florentine Academy.[363]

[Footnote 362: For a brief account of Michelangelo's _Rime_, see _Fine
Arts_, Appendix ii.; also the introduction to my translation of the
sonnets, _The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti and Tommaso
Campanella_, Smith and Elder, 1878.]

[Footnote 363: Varchi's and Guidicci's _Lezioni_ will be found in
Guasti's edition of the _Rime_.]

There is no sort of impropriety in placing Bernardo Tasso and
Giangiorgio Trissino upon the list of literary purists. The
biographies of these two men, more interesting for the share they took
in public life than for their poetical achievements, shall close a
chapter which has been, almost of necessity, rambling. Bernardo Tasso
was a member of the noble and ancient Bergamasque family Dei
Tassi.[364] He was born at Venice in 1493. Left an orphan in his early
childhood, an uncle on his father's side, the Bishop of Recanati, took
charge of him. But this good man was murdered in 1520, at the time
when Bernardo had just begun a brilliant career in the University of
Padua. The loss of his father and his uncle threw the young student on
the world, and he was glad to take service as secretary with the Count
Guido Rangone. At this epoch the Rangoni stood high among the first
nobility of Italy, and Count Guido was Captain-General of the Church.
He employed Bernardo in a mission to Paris in 1528, on the occasion of
Ercole d'Este's marriage to Renée, daughter of Louis XII. Tasso went
to France as servant of the Rangoni. He returned to Italy in the
employment of the Estensi. But he did not long remain at the Court of
Ferrara. About the year 1532, we find him with Ferrante Sanseverino,
Prince of Salerno, whom he accompanied in 1535 on the expedition to
Tunis. It cannot have been much later than this date that he married
the beautiful Porzia de' Rossi, who was the mother of his illustrious
son, Torquato. But though this marriage was in all respects a happy
one, in none more fortunate than in the birth of Italy's fourth sovran
poet, Bernardo was not destined to lead a life of tranquil
domesticity. His master, whom he followed whithersoever military
service called him, fell out of favor with the Spanish Court in 1547.
Maddened by the injustice of his treatment, the Prince deserted from
Charles V. to his rival, Francis, was declared a rebel and deprived of
his vast domains. Bernardo resolved to share his fortunes, and in
return for this act of loyalty, found himself involved in the ruin of
the Sanseverini. Henceforth he lived a wandering life, away from
Porzia and his family, and ill-contented with the pittance which his
patron could afford. In 1556, at Duke Guidubaldo's invitation, he
joined the Court of Urbino; and again in 1563 he entered the service
of the Duke of Mantua. He died in 1569 at Ostiglia.

[Footnote 364: I use the Life prefixed by G. Campori to his _Lettere
Inedite di Bernardo Tasso_ (Bologna, Romagnoli, 1869).]

It will be seen from this brief sketch that Bernardo Tasso spent his
life in mixed employments, as courtier, diplomatist, and military
secretary. His career was analogous to that of many nobly-born
Italians, for whom there existed no sphere outside the service of a
prince. Yet he found time, amid his journeys, campaigns and
miscellaneous Court duties, to practice literature. The seven books of
his collected poems--sonnets, odes and epithalamial hymns--placed him
among the foremost lyrists of the century; while his letters displayed
the merits which were usual in that species of composition. Had this
been all, he would have deserved honorable mention by the side of
Caro, on a somewhat lower level than Bembo. But he was also ambitious
of giving a new kind of epic to Italian literature. With this view, he
versified the Spanish romance of Amadis of Gaul in octave stanzas. The
_Amadigi_ is a chivalrous poem in the style of the _Orlando_, but
without the irony of Ariosto.[365] It cannot be reckoned a success;
for though written with fertile fancy and a flowing vein, its
prolixity is tedious. Tasso lacked the art of sustaining his reader's
attention. His attempt to treat the ideal of feudalism seriously,
without the faith and freshness of the chivalrous epoch, deprived his
work of that peculiar charm which belongs to the Italian romantic
epic. While still in MS., he submitted his poem to literary friends,
and read it at the Court of Urbino. The acclamation it received from
men whose literary principles coincided with his own, raised Tasso's
expectations high. He imagined that the world would welcome _Amadigi_
as a masterpiece, combining the interest of _Orlando_ with the dignity
and purity of a classic. When it appeared, however, the public
received it coldly, and on this occasion the verdict of the people was
indubitably right. Another mortification awaited the author. He had
dedicated his epic to Philip II. and filled its cantos with adulation
of the Spanish race. But the king took no notice of the gift; and two
years after the publication of _Amadigi_, it appeared that Tasso's
agents at the Spanish Court had not taken the trouble to present him
with a copy.[366]

[Footnote 365: The _Amadigi_ was printed by Giolito at Venice in 1560
under the author's own supervision. The book is a splendid specimen of
florid typography.]

[Footnote 366: Besides the _Amadigi_, Bernardo Tasso composed a second
narrative poem, the _Floridante_, which his son, Torquato, retouched
and published at Mantua in 1587.]

Bernardo Tasso is the representative of a class which was common in
Renaissance Italy, when courtiers and men of affairs devoted their
leisure to study and composed poetry upon scholastic principles. His
epic failed precisely through the qualities for which he prized it.
Less the product of inspiration than pedantic choice, it bore the
taint of languor and unpardonable dullness. Giangiorgio Trissino, in
the circumstances of his life no less than in the nature of his
literary work, bears a striking resemblance to the author of the
_Amadigi_. The main difference between the two men is that Trissino
adopted by preference the career of diplomacy into which poverty drove
Tasso.[367] He was born at Vicenza in 1478 of wealthy and noble
ancestors, from whom he inherited vast estates. His mother was
Cecilia, of the Bevilacqua family. During his boyhood Trissino enjoyed
fewer opportunities of study than usually fell to the lot of young
Italian nobles. He spent his time in active exercises; and it was only
in 1506 that he began his education in earnest. At this date he had
been married nine years, and had already lost his wife, the mother of
two surviving children, Francesco and Giulio.[368]

[Footnote 367: _Giangiorgio Trissino_, by Bernardo Morsolin (Vicenza,
1878), is a copious biography and careful study of this poet's times.]

[Footnote 368: Francesco died in 1514.]

Trissino's inclination toward literature induced him to settle at
Milan, where he became a pupil of the veteran Demetrius Chalcondylas.
He cultivated the society of learned men, collected MSS., and devoted
himself to the study of Greek philosophy. From the first, he showed
the decided partiality for erudition which was destined to rule his
future career. But scholars at that epoch, even though they might be
men of princely fortune, had little chance of uninterrupted leisure.
Trissino's estates gave him for a while as much trouble as poverty had
brought on Tasso. Vicenza was allotted to the Empire in 1509; and
afterwards, when the city gave itself to the Venetian Republic,
Trissino's adherence to Maximilian's party cost him some months of
exile in Germany and the temporary confiscation of his property.
Between 1510 and 1514, after his return from Germany, but before he
made his peace with Venice, Trissino visited Ferrara, Florence and
Rome. These years determined his life as a man of letters. The tragedy
of _Sofonisba_, which was written before 1515, won for its author a
place among the foremost poets of the time.[369] The same period
decided his future as a courtier. Leo X. sent him on a mission to
Bavaria, and upon his return procured his pardon from the Republic of
S. Mark. There is not much to be gained by following the intricate
details of Trissino's public career. After Leo's death, he was
employed by Clement VII. and Paul III. He assisted at the coronation
of Charles V., and on this occasion was made Knight and Count.
Gradually he assumed the style of a finished courtier; and though he
never took pay from his Papal or princely masters, no poet carried the
art of adulation further.[370]

[Footnote 369: See above, pp. 126-128.]

[Footnote 370: See Morsolin, _op. cit._, p. 360, for Trissino's own
emphatic statement that his services had been unpaid. _Ibid._ p. 344,
for a list of the personages he complimented.]

This self-subjection to the annoyances and indignities of Court-life
is all the more remarkable because Trissino continued to live like a
great noble. When he traveled, he was followed by a retinue of
servants. A chaplain attended him for the celebration of Mass. His
litter was furnished with silver plate, and with all the conveniences
of a magnificent household. His own cook went before, with couriers,
to prepare his table; and the equipage included a train of
sumpter-mules and serving-men in livery.[371] At home, in his palace
at Vicenza or among his numerous villas, he showed no less
magnificence. Upon the building of one country-house at Cricoli, which
he designed himself and surrounded with the loveliest Italian gardens,
enormous sums were spent; and when the structure was completed, he
opened it to noble friends, who lived with him at large and formed an
Academy called after him La Trissiniana.[372] Trissino was, moreover,
a diligent student and a lover of solitude. He spent many years of his
life upon the island of Murano, in a villa secluded from the world,
and open to none but a few guests of similar tastes.[373] Yet in spite
of the advantages which fortune gave him, in spite of his studious
habits, he could not resist the attraction which Courts at that epoch
exercised over men of birth and breeding throughout Europe. He was for
ever returning to Rome, although he expressed the deepest horror for
the corruptions of that sinful city.[374] No sooner had he established
himself in quiet among the woods and streams of the Vicentine lowlands
or upon the breast of the Venetian lagoons, than the hankering to
shine before a Prince came over him, and he resumed his march to
Ferrara, or made his bow once more in the Vatican.

[Footnote 371: _Ibid._ p. 323.]

[Footnote 372: _Ibid._ pp. 219-235.]

[Footnote 373: _Ibid._ p. 301.]

[Footnote 374: _Op. cit._ p. 366.]

The end of Trissino's life was troubled by a quarrel with his son
Giulio, in which it is difficult to decide whether the father or the
son was more to blame. Some years after the death of his first wife,
he married a cousin, Bianca Trissino, by whom he had another son,
Ciro. Giulio was sickly, and had taken to the ecclesiastical career.
His father's preference for Ciro was decided, and he openly expressed
it. That Bianca was not entirely responsible for the ensuing quarrel,
is certain from the fact that Trissino separated from this second wife
in 1535. But it appears that Giulio opened hostilities by behaving
with brutal rudeness to his stepmother. Trissino refused to receive
him, and cut off his allowance. Giulio then went to law with his
father. A hollow peace was patched up, and, after Bianca's death in
1540, Giulio was appointed steward of the family estates. His
management of Trissino's property led to new disputes, and new acts of
violence. On one occasion the son broke into his father's palace at
Vicenza, and tried to turn him by armed force into the streets upon a
bitter night of Christmas. Meanwhile fresh lawsuits were on foot, and
Giulio's cause triumphed in the courts of Venice, whither the case had
been removed on appeal from Vicenza. Infuriated by what he deemed a
maladministration of justice, the old poet hurled sonnets and
invectives against both cities, execrating their infamy in the
strongest verse he ever penned.[375] But he could not gain redress
against the son he hated. At the age of seventy-two, in the midst of
these private troubles, Trissino undertook his last journey to Rome.
There he died in 1550, and was buried near John Lascaris in the church
of S. Agata in Suburra.

[Footnote 375: _Op. cit._ p. 385.]

Whatever may have been the crimes of Giulio against his father,
Trissino used a cruel and unpardonable revenge upon his eldest son.
Not content with blackening his character under the name of Agrilupo
in the _Italia Liberata_,[376] he wrote a codicil to his will, in
which he brought against Giulio the most dangerous charge it was then
possible to make. He disinherited him with a curse, and accused him of
Lutheran heresy.[377] It was clearly the father's intention to hand
his son down to an immortality of shame in his great poem, to ruin him
in his temporal affairs, and to deprive him of his ecclesiastical
privileges. Posterity has defeated his first purpose; for few indeed
are the readers of Trissino's _Italia Liberata_. In his second and his
third objects, he was completely successful. Giulio was prosecuted for
heresy in 1551, cited before the Inquisition of Bologna in 1553,
excommunicated by the Roman Holy Office in 1554, condemned as a
contumacious heretic in 1556, driven into hiding at Venice, attacked
in bed and half murdered there in 1568, and finally thrown into prison
in 1573. He died in prison in 1576, without having shown any signs of
repentance, a martyr to his Lutheran opinions.[378] Ciro Trissino, the
third actor in this domestic tragedy, had already been strangled in
his villa at Cornedo in the year 1574.

[Footnote 376: _Ibid._ p. 413.]

[Footnote 377: _Ibid._ p. 414.]

[Footnote 378: The whole of this extraordinary sequel to Trissino's
biography will be read with interest in the last chapter of Signor
Morsolin's monograph. It leaves upon my mind the impression that
Giulio, though unpardonably ill-tempered, and possibly as
ill-conducted in his private life as his foes asserted, was the victim
of an almost diabolical persecution.]

Trissino's literary labors bring us back to the specific subject of
this chapter. He made it the aim of his life to apply the methods of
the ancients to the practice of Italian poetry, and to settle the
vexed questions of the language on rational principles. Conscious of
the novelty and ambitious nature of his designs, he adopted the Golden
Fleece of Jason for an emblem, signifying that his voyages in
literature led far beyond the ordinary track, with an inestimable
prize in view.[379] Had his genius been equal to his enterprise, he
might have effected a decisive revolution. But Trissino was a man of
sterling parts and sound judgment rather than a poet: a formulator of
rules and precepts rather than a creator. His bent of mind was
critical; and in this field he owed his success more to coincidence
with prevalent opinion than to originality. Though he fixed the type
of Italian tragedy by his _Sofonisba_, and tied comedy down to Latin
models by his _Simillimi_, we cannot rate his talents as a playwright
very high. The _Poetica_, in which he reduced Horace and Aristotle to
Italian prose, and laid down laws for adapting modern literature to
antique system, had a wide and lasting influence.[380] We may trace
the canon of dramatic unities, which through Italian determined French
practice, up to this source: but had not Trissino's precepts been
concordant with the tendencies of his age, it is probable that even
this treatise would have carried little weight. When he attempted to
reform Italian orthography on similar principles, he met with derision
and resistance.[381] The world was bent on aping the classics; it did
not care about adopting the Greek Kappa, Zeta, Phi, etc. Trissino
intervened with more effect in the dispute on language. He pleaded
that the vernacular, being the common property of the whole nation,
should be called Italian and cultivated with a wise tolerance of local
diction. Having discovered a copy of Dante's _De Eloquio_, he
communicated this treatise to the learned world in support of his own
views, and had a translation of it printed.[382] This publication
embittered the strife which was then raging. Some Florentine scholars,
led by Martelli, impugned its genuineness. But the _De Eloquio_
survived antagonistic criticism, and opened a new stage in the

[Footnote 379: See Morsolin, _op. cit._, p. 197. This device was
imprinted as early as 1529, upon the books published for Trissino at
Verona by Janicolo of Brescia.]

[Footnote 380: The _Poetica_ was printed in 1529; but it had been
composed some years earlier.]

[Footnote 381: His grammatical and orthographical treatises were
published under the titles of _Epistola a Clemente VII._,
_Grammatichetta_, _Dialogo Castellano_, _Dubbi Grammaticali_.
Firenzuola made Trissino's new letters famous and ridiculous by the
burlesque sonnets he wrote upon them.]

[Footnote 382: Vicenza, Tolomeo Janicolo, 1529.]

In his attempt to add the heroic species of the epic to Italian
literature, Trissino was even less successful than in his dramatic
experiments. Disgusted with Ariosto's success in what he regarded as
a barbarous style of art, he set himself to make an epic on the model
of Homer, with scrupulous obedience to Aristotle's rules. For his
subject he chose an episode from Italian history, and used blank verse
instead of the attractive octave stanza. The _Italia Liberata_ cost
its author twenty years of labor.[383] It was a masterpiece of
erudition, displaying profound acquaintance with Roman tactics, and a
competent knowledge of Roman topography. But in spite of its
characters _plaqués_ upon those of the _Iliad_, in spite of its
learnedly-constructed episodes, in spite of its fidelity to Aristotle,
the _Italia Liberata_ was not a poem. The good sense of the nation
refused it. Tasso returned to the romantic method and the meretricious
charms of the _ottava rima_. Only Gravina among critics spoke a good
word for it. The subject lacked real grandeur. Italy delivered from
the Goths, was only Italy delivered to the Lombards. The unity of the
poem was not the unity of an epic, but of a chapter from a medieval
Chronicle. The machinery of angels, travestied with classic titles,
was ridiculous. The Norcian Sibyl, introduced in rivalry with Virgil's
Sibyl of Avernus, was out of place. And though Trissino expunged what
made the old romantic poems charming, he retained their faults.
Intricate underplots and flatteries of noble families were consistent
with a species which had its origin in feudal minstrelsy. They were
wholly out of character with a professed transcription from the
Greek. Neither style nor meter rose to the heroic level. The blank
verse was pedestrian and prolix. The language was charged with
Lombardisms. Thus the _Italia Liberata_ proved at all points that
Trissino could make rules, but that he could not apply them to any
purpose. It is curious to compare his failure with Milton's success in
a not entirely dissimilar endeavor. The poet achieves a triumph where
the pedant only suffers a defeat; and yet the aim of both was almost
identical. So different is genius guided by principles from the
mechanical carpentry of imitative talent.

[Footnote 383: Nine books were first printed at Rome in 1547 by
Valerio and Luigi Dorici. The whole, consisting of twenty-seven books,
was published at Venice in 1548 by Tolomeo Janicolo of Brescia. This
Janicolo was Trissino's favorite publisher.]



     Relation of Satiric to Serious Literature--Italy has more
     Parody and Caricature than Satire or Comedy--Life of
     Folengo--His _Orlandino_--Critique of Previous
     Romances--Lutheran Doctrines--Orlando's
     Boyhood--Griffarosto--Invective against Friars--Maccaronic
     Poetry--The Travesty of Humanism--Pedantesque
     Poetry--Glottogrysio Ludimagistro--Tifi Odassi of Padua--The
     Pedant Vigonça--Evangelista Fossa--Giorgio Alione--Folengo
     employs the Maccaronic Style for an Epic--His Address to the
     Muses--His Hero Baldus--Boyhood and Youth--Cingar--The
     Travels of the Barons--Gulfora--Witchcraft in
     Italy--Folengo's Conception of Witchcraft--Entrance into
     Hell--The Zany and the Pumpkin--Nature of Folengo's
     Satire--His Relation to Rabelais--The _Moscheis_--The
     _Zanitonella_--Maccaronic Poetry was Lombard--Another and
     Tuscan Type of Burlesque--_Capitoli_--Their Popular
     Growth--Berni--His Life--His Mysterious Death--His Character
     and Style--Three Classes of _Capitoli_--The pure Bernesque
     Manner--Berni's Imitators--The Indecency of this
     Burlesque--Such Humor was Indigenous--_Terza Rima_--Berni's
     Satires on Adrian VI. and Clement VII.--His Caricatures--His
     Sonnet on Aretino--The _Rifacimento_ of Boiardo's
     _Orlando_--The Mystery of its Publication--Albicante and
     Aretino--The Publishers Giunta and Calvi--Berni's Protestant
     Opinions--Eighteen Stanzas of the _Rifacimento_ printed by
     Vergerio--Hypothesis respecting the Mutilation of the
     _Rifacimento_--Satire in Italy.

In all classical epochs of literature comedy and satire have presented
their antithesis to ideal poetry, by setting the actual against the
imagined world, or by travestying the forms of serious art. Thus the
Titanic farce of Aristophanes was counterposed to Æschylean tragedy;
and Molière portrayed men as they are, before an audience which
welcomed Racine's pictures of men as the age conceived they ought to
be. It is the mark of really great literature when both thesis and
antithesis, the aspiration after the ideal and the critique of actual
existence, exhibit an equality of scale. The comic and satiric species
of poetry attain to grandeur only by contact with impassioned art of a
high quality, or else by contrast with a natural greatness in the
nation that produces them. Both mask and anti-mask reveal the mental
stature of the people. Both issue from the conscience of society, and
bear its impress.

If so much be admitted, we can easily understand why burlesque poetry
formed the inevitable pendent to polite literature in Italy. There was
no national tragedy; therefore there could be no great comedy. The
best work of the age, typified by Ariosto's epic, was so steeped in
irony that it offered no vantage-ground for humorous counterpoise.
There was nothing left but to exaggerate its salient qualities, and to
caricature its form. Such exaggeration was burlesque; such caricature
was parody. In like manner, satire found no adequate sphere. The
nation's life was not on so grand a scale as to evolve the elements of
satire from the contrast between faculties and foibles. Nor again
could a society, corrupt and satisfied with corruption, anxious to
live and let live, apply the lash with earnestness to its own
shoulders. _Facit indignatio versus_, was Juvenal's motto; and
indignation tore the heart of Swift. But in Italy there was no
indignation. All men were agreed to tolerate, condone, and compromise.
When vices come to be laughingly admitted, when discords between
practice and profession furnish themes for tales and epigrams, the
moral conscience is extinct. But without an appeal to conscience the
satirist has no _locus standi_. Therefore, in Italy there was no great
satire, as in Italy there was no great comedy.

The burlesque rhymsters portrayed their own and their neighbors'
immorality with self-complacent humor, calling upon the public to make
merry over the spectacle. This poetry, obscene, equivocal, frivolous,
horribly sincere, supplied a natural antithesis to the pseudo-platonic,
pedantic, artificial mannerism of the purists. In point of intrinsic
value, there is not much to choose between the Petrarchistic and the
burlesque styles. Many burlesque poets piqued themselves with justice
on their elegance, and clothed gross thoughts in diction of elaborate
polish. Meanwhile they laid the affectations, conventions and ideals
of the age impartially under contribution. The sonneteers suggested
parodies to Aretino, who celebrated vice and deformity in women with
hyperboles adapted from the sentimental school.[384] The age of gold
was ridiculed by Romolo Bertini.[385] The idyl found its travesty in
Berni's pictures of crude village loves and in Folengo's
_Zanitonella_. Chivalry became absurd by the simple process of
enforcing the prosaic elements in Ariosto, reducing his heroes to the
level of plebeian life, and exaggerating the extravagance of his
romance. The ironical smile which played upon his lips, expands into
broad grins and horse-laughter. Yet, though the burlesque poets turned
everything they touched into ridicule, these buffoons were not
unfrequently possessed of excellent good sense. Not a few of them, as
we shall see, were among the freest thinkers of their age. Like Court
jesters they dared to utter truths which would have sent a serious
writer to the stake. Lucidity of intellectual vision was granted at
this time in Italy to none but positive and materialistic thinkers--to
analysts like Machiavelli and Pomponazzi, critics like Pietro Aretino,
poets with feet firmly planted on the earth like Berni and Folengo.
The two last-named artists in the burlesque style may be selected as
the leaders of two different but cognate schools, the one flourishing
in Lombardy, the other in Florence.

[Footnote 384: See the Madrigals in _Opere Burlesche_, vol. iii. pp.

[Footnote 385: _Ibid._ p. 290.]

Girolamo Folengo was born in 1491 of noble parents at Cipada, a
village of the Mantuan district. He made his first studies under his
father's roof, and in due time proceeded to Bologna. Here he attended
the lectures of Pomponazzi, and threw himself with ardor into the
pleasures and perils of the academical career. Francesco Gonzaga, a
fantastical and high-spirited libertine from Mantua, was the
recognized leader of the students at that moment. Duels, challenges,
intrigues and street-quarrels formed the staple of their life. It was
an exciting and romantic round of gayety and danger, of which the
novelists have left us many an animated picture. Folengo by his
extravagant conduct soon exhausted the easy patience of the university
authorities. He was obliged to quit Bologna, and his father refused to
receive him. In this emergency he took refuge in a Benedictine convent
at Brescia. When he made himself a monk, Folengo changed his Christian
name to Teofilo, by which he is now best known in literature. But he
did not long endure the confinement of a cloister. After six years
spent among the Benedictines, he threw the cowl aside, and ran off
with a woman, Girolama Dieda, for whom he had conceived an insane
passion.[386] This was in the year 1515. During the next eleven years
he gave himself to the composition of burlesque poetry. His
_Maccaronea_ appeared at Venice in 1519, and his _Orlandino_ in 1526.
The former was published under he pseudonym of Merlinus Cocaius,
compounded of a slang word in the Mantuan dialect, and of the famous
wizard's title of romance.[387] The latter bore the _nom de plume_ of
_Limerno Pitocco_--an anagram of Merlino, with the addition of an
epithet pointing to the poet's indigence. These works brought Folengo
fame but little wealth, and he was fain to return at last to his old
refuge.[388] Resuming the cowl, he now retired to a monastery in the
kingdom of Naples, visited Sicily, and died at last near Padua, in the
convent of S. Croce di Campese. This was in 1544. The last years of
his life had been devoted to religious poetry, which is not read with
the same curiosity as his burlesque productions.

[Footnote 386: In _Mac._ xx. (p. 152 of Mantuan edition, 1771), he
darkly alludes to this episode of his early life, where he makes an
exposed witch exclaim:

    Nocentina vocor magicis tam dedita chartis,
    Decepique mea juvenem cum fraude Folengum.]

[Footnote 387: I cannot find sufficient authority for the story of
Folengo's having had a grammar-master named Cocaius, from whom he
borrowed part of his pseudonym. The explanation given by his Mantuan
editor, which I have adopted in the text, seems the more probable.
_Cocáj_ in Mantuan dialect means a cork for a bottle; and the phrase
_ch'al fà di cocáj_ is used to indicate some extravagant absurdity or

[Footnote 388: There seems good reason, from many passages in his
_Maccaronea_, to believe that his repentance was sincere. I may here
take occasion to remark that, though his poems are gross in the
extreme, their moral tone is not unhealthy. He never makes obscenity
or vice attractive.]

Teofilo Folengo, or Merlinus Cocaius, or Limerno Pitocco, was, when he
wrote his burlesque poems, what the French would call a _déclassé_. He
had compromised his character in early youth and had been refused the
shelter of his father's home. He had taken monastic vows in a moment
of pique, or with the baser object of getting daily bread in idleness.
His elopement from the convent with a paramour had brought scandal on
religion. Each of these steps contributed to place him beyond the pale
of respectability. Driven to bay and forced to earn his living, he now
turned round upon society; and spoke his mind out with a freedom born
of bile and cynical indifference. If he had learned nothing else at
Bologna, he had imbibed the materialistic philosophy of Pomponazzi
together with Gonzaga's lessons in libertinage. Brutalized, degraded
in his own eyes, rejected by the world of honest or decorous citizens,
but with a keen sense of the follies, vices and hypocrisies of his
age, he resolved to retaliate by a work of art that should attract
attention and force the public to listen to his comments on their
shame. In his humorous poetry there is, therefore, a deliberate if not
a very dignified intention. He does not merely laugh, but mixes satire
with ribaldry, and points buffoonery with biting sarcasm. Since the
burlesque style had by its nature to be parasitical and needed an
external motive, Folengo chose for the subject of his parody the
romance of _Orlando_, which was fashionable to the point of
extravagance in Italy after the appearance of the _Furioso_. But he
was not satisfied with turning a tale of Paladins to ridicule. He used
it as the shield behind which he knew that he might safely shoot his
arrows at the clergy and the princes of his native land, attack the
fortresses of orthodoxy, and vent his spleen upon society by dragging
its depraved ideals in the mire of his own powerful but vulgar scorn.

Folengo has told us that the _Orlandino_ was conceived and written
before the _Maccaronea_, though it was published some years later. It
is probable that the rude form and plebeian language of this burlesque
romance found but little favor with a public educated in the niceties
of style. They were ready to accept the bastard Latin dialect invented
for his second venture, because it offended no puristic sensibilities.
But the coarse Italian of the _Orlandino_ could not be relished by
academicians, who had been pampered with the refinements of Berni's
wanton Muse.[389] Only eight cantos appeared; nor is there reason to
suppose that any more were written, for it may be assumed that the
fragment had fulfilled its author's purpose.[390] That purpose was to
satirize the vice, hypocrisy and superstition of the clergy, and more
particularly of the begging friars. In form the _Orlandino_ pretends
to be a romance of chivalry, and it bears the same relation to the
_Orlando_ of Boiardo and Ariosto as the _Secchia Rapita_ to the heroic
poems of Tasso's school. It begins with a burlesque invocation to
Federigo Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, in which the poet bluntly
describes his poverty and begs for largess. Then Folengo passes to an
account of his authorities and to the criticism of his predecessors in
romantic poetry. He had recourse, he says, to a witch of Val Camonica,
who mounted him upon a ram, and bore him to the country of the Goths.
There he found forty decades of Turpin's history among the rubbish of
old books stolen from Italy. Of these, three decades had already been
discovered and translated by Boiardo; but, after versifying a large
portion of the second, the poet left the rest of it to Ariosto. The
sixth was stolen from him by Francesco Bello. The last he gave with
his own hands to Poliziano, who put it into rhyme and allowed Pulci to
have the credit of his labors.[391] Folengo himself took a portion of
the first decade, and thus obtained material for treating of the birth
and boyhood of Orlando. This exordium is chiefly valuable as a piece
of contemporary criticism:

    Queste tre Deche dunque sin quà trovo
    Esser dal fonte di Turpin cavate;
    Ma _Trebisonda_, _Ancroia_, _Spagna_, e _Bovo_
    Coll'altro resto al foco sian donate:
    Apocrife son tutte, e le riprovo
    Come nemiche d'ogni veritate;
    Boiardo, l'Ariosto, Pulci, e'l Cieco
    Autenticati sono, ed io con seco.

[Footnote 389: Part of Folengo's satire is directed against the
purists. See Canto i. 7-9. He confesses himself a Lombard, and shrugs
his shoulders at their solemn criticisms:

    Non però, se non nacqui Tosco, i' piango;
    Chè ancora il ciacco gode nel suo fango.

To the reproach of "turnip-eating Lombard" he retorts, "Tuscan
chatterbox." Compare vi. 1, 2, on his own style:

    Oscuri sensi ed affettate rime,
    Qual'è chi dica mai compor Limerno?]

[Footnote 390: The first line of the elegy placed upon the edition of
1526 runs thus:

    Mensibus istud opus tribus _indignatio fecit_.

Folengo claims for himself a satiric purpose. The edition used by me
is Molini's, Londra, 1775.]

[Footnote 391: See above Part i. p. 455, for the belief that Poliziano
was the real author of the _Morgante Maggiore_.]

If we may accept this stanza as expressing the opinion of Italians in
the sixteenth century relative to their romantic poets, we find that
it almost exactly agrees with that of posterity. Only the _Mambriano_
of Bello has failed to maintain its place beside the _Morgante_ and

Embarking upon the subject of his tale, Folengo describes the Court of
Charlemagne, and passes he Paladins in review, intermingling comic
touches with exaggerated imitations of the romantic style. The peers
of France preserve their well-known features through the distorting
medium of caricature; while humorous couplets, detonating here and
there like crackers, break the mock-heroical monotony. Gano, for
example, is still the arch-traitor of the tribe of Judas:

    Figliuol non d'uomo, nè da Dio creato,
    Ma il gran Diavol ebbelo cacato.

The effect of parody is thus obtained by emphasizing the style of
elder poets and suddenly breaking off into a different vein. Next
comes the description of Berta's passion for Milone, with a singularly
coarse and out-spoken invective against love.[392] Meanwhile
Charlemagne has proclaimed a tournament. The peers array themselves,
and the Court is in a state of feverish expectation. _Parturiunt
montes_: instead of mailed warriors careering upon fiery chargers, the
knights crawl into the lists on limping mules and lean asses, with a
ludicrous array of kitchen-gear for armor. The description of this
donkey-tournament, is one of Folengo's triumphs.[393] When Milone
comes upon the scene and jousts beneath his lady's balcony, the style
is heightened to the tone of true romance, and, but for the roughness
of the language, we might fancy that a page of the _Orlando_ were
beneath our eyes. A banquet follows, after which we are regaled with a
Court-ball, and then ensues the comic chain of incidents which bring
Milone and Berta to the fruition of their love. They elope, take ship,
and are separated by a series of mishaps upon the open sea. Berta is
cast ashore alone in Italy, and begs her way to Sutri, where she gives
birth to Orlando in a shepherd's cabin. During the course of these
adventures, Folengo diverts his readers with many brilliant passages
and bits of satire, at one time inveighing against the license of
balls, at another describing the mixed company on board a ship of
passage; now breaking off into burlesque pedigrees, and then again
putting into Berta's mouth a string of Lutheran opinions. Though the
personages are romantic, the incidents are copied with realistic
fidelity from actual life. We are moving among Italian _bourgeois_ in
the masquerade of heroes and princesses.

[Footnote 392: Canto i. 64, 65; ii. 1-4:

    Ed io dico ch'Amor è un bardassola
    Più che sua madre non fu mai puttana, etc.

Folengo, of course, has a mistress, to whom he turns at the proper
moments of his narrative. This _mia diva Caritunga_ is a caricature of
the fashionable Laura. See v. 1, 2:

    O donna mia, ch'hai gli occhi, ch'hai l'orecchie,
    Quelli di pipistrel, queste di bracco, etc.]

[Footnote 393: Canto ii. 9-42.]

Berta's prayer when she found herself alone upon the waters in an open
boat, is so characteristic of Folengo's serious intention that it
deserves more than a passing comment.[394] She addresses herself to
God instead of to any Saints:

    A te ricorro, non a Piero, o Andrea,
    Chè l'altrui mezzo non mi fa mestiero:
    Ben tengo a mente che la Cananea
    Non supplicò nè a Giacomo nè a Piero.

[Footnote 394: Canto vi. 40-46. I have placed a translation of this
passage in an Appendix to this chapter.]

It is the hypocrisy of friars, Folengo says, who sacrifice to Moloch,
while they use the name of Mary to cloak their crimes--it is this
damnable hypocrisy which has blinded simple folk into trusting the
invocation of Saints. Avarice is the motive of these false priests:
and lust moves them to preach the duty of confession:

    E quì trovo ben spesso un Confessore
    Essere più ruffiano che Dottore.

Therefore, cries Berta, I make my confession to God alone and from Him
seek salvation, and vow that, if I escape the fury of the sea, I will
no more lend belief to men who sell indulgences for gold. So far the
poet is apparently sincere. In the next stanza he resumes his comic

    Cotal preghiere carche d'eresia
    Berta facea, mercè ch'era Tedesca;
    Perchè in quel tempo la Teologia
    Era fatta Romana e fiandresca;
    Ma dubito ch'alfin nella Turchia
    Si troverà vivendo alla Moresca;
    Perchè di Cristo l'inconsutil vesta
    Squarciata è sì che più non ve ne resta.

The blending of buffoonery and earnestness in Folengo's style might be
illustrated by the bizarre myth of the making of peasants, where he
introduces Christ and the Apostles:[395]

    _Transibat Jesus_ per un gran villaggio
    Con Pietro, Andrea, Giovanni, e con Taddeo;
    Trovan ch'un asinello in sul rivaggio
    Molte pallotte del suo sterco feo.
    Disse allor Piero al suo Maestro saggio:
    _En, Domine, fac homines ex eo._
    _Surge, Villane_, disse Cristo allora;
    E 'l villan di que' stronzi saltò fora.

[Footnote 395: Canto v. 56-58. The contempt for country folk seems

His fantastic humor, half-serious, half-flippant, spares nothing
sacred or profane. Even the Last Judgment receives an inconceivably
droll treatment on the slender occasion of an allusion to the
disasters of Milan.[396] Folengo has just been saying that Italy well
deserves her title of _barbarorum sepultura_.[397]

      Chè veramente in quell'orribil giorno
    Che in Giosafatto suonerà la tromba,
    Facendosi sentire al mondo intorno,
    E i morti salteran fuor d'ogni tomba,
    Non sarà pozzo, cacatojo, o forno,
    Che mentre il tararan del ciel ribomba,
    Non getti fuora Svizzeri, Francesi,
    Tedeschi, Ispani, e d'altri assai paesi;
      E vederassi una mirabil guerra,
    Fra loro combattendo gli ossi suoi:
    Chi un braccio, chi una man, chi un piede afferra;
    Ma vien chi dice--questi non son tuoi--
    Anzi son miei--non sono; e sulla terra
    Molti di loro avran gambe di buoi,
    Teste di muli, e d'asini le schiene,
    Siccome all'opre di ciascun conviene.

[Footnote 396: Canto vi. 55-57. This passage is a caricature of
Pulci's burlesque description of the Last Day. See above Part i. p.
449. Folengo's loathing of the strangers who devoured Italy is clear
here, as also in i. 43, ii. 4, 59. But there is no force in his
invectives or laments.

    L'Italia non più Italia appello,
    Ma d'ogni strana gente un bel bordello....
    Che 'l cancaro mangiasse il Taliano,
    Il quale, o ricco, o povero che sia,
    Desidra in nostre stanze il Tramontano....
    Chè se non fosser le gran parti in quella,
    Dominerebbe il mondo Italia bella.]

[Footnote 397:

    For verily on that most dreadful day,
    When in the Valley of Jehosaphat
    The trump shall sound, and thrill this globe of clay,
    And dead folk shuddering leave their tombs thereat,
    No well, sewer, privy shall be found, I say,
    Which, while the angels roar their rat-tat-tat,
    Shall not disgorge its Spaniards, Frenchmen, Swiss,
    Germans, and rogues of every race that is.
    Then shall we see a wonderful dispute,
    As each with each they wrangle, bone for bone;
    One grasps an arm, one grabs a hand, a foot;
    Comes one who says, "These are not yours, you loon!"
    "They're mine!" "They're not!" While many a limb of brute
    Joined to their human bodies shall be shown,
    Mule's heads, bull's legs, cruppers and ears of asses,
    As each man's life on earth his spirit classes.]

The birth of Orlando gives occasion for a mock-heroic passage, in
which Pulci is parodied to the letter.[398] All the more amusing for
the assumption of pompous style, is the ensuing account of the hero's
boyhood among the street-urchins of Sutri. When he is tall enough to
bestride a broomstick, Orlandino proves his valor by careering through
the town and laughing at the falls he gets. At seven he shows the
strength of twelve:

    Urta, fracassa, rompe, quassa, e smembra;
    Orsi, leoni, tigri non paventa,
    Ma contro loro intrepido s'avventa.

[Footnote 398: Canto vi. 8-11:

    Quì nacque Orlando, l'inclito Barone;
    Quì nacque Orlando, Senator Romano, etc.]

The octave stanzas become a cataract of verbs and nouns to paint his
tempestuous childhood. It is a spirited comic picture of the Italian
_enfant terrible_, stone-throwing, boxing, scuffling, and swearing
like a pickpocket. At the same time the boy grows in cunning, and
supports his mother by begging from one and bullying another of the
citizens of Sutri:--

      Io v'addimando per l'amor di Dio
    Un pane solo ed un boccal di vino;
    Officio non fu mai più santo e pio
    Che se pascete il pover pellegrino:
    Se non men date, vi prometto ch'io,
    Quantunque sia di membra si piccino,
    Ne prenderò da me senza riguardo;
    Chè salsa non vogl'io di San Bernardo.
      Cancar vi mangi, datemi a mangiare,
    Se non, vi butterò le porte giuso;
    Per debolezza sentomi mancare,
    E le budella vannomi a riffuso.
    Gente devota, e voi persone care
    Che vi leccate di buon rosto il muso,
    Mandatemi, per Dio, qualche minestra,
    O me la trate giù dalla finestra.

In the course of these adventures Orlandino meets Oliver, the son of
Rainero, the governor, and breaks his crown in a quarrel. This brings
about the catastrophe; for the young hero pours forth such a torrent
of voluble slang, mixed with imprecations and menaces, that Rainero is
forced to acknowledge the presence of a superior genius.[399] But
before the curtain falls upon the discovery of Orlandino's parentage
and his reception into the company of peers, Folengo devotes a canto
to the episodical history of the Prelate Griffarosto.[400] The name of
this Rabelaisian ecclesiastic--Claw-the-roast--sufficiently indicates
the line of the poet's satire.

[Footnote 399: Canto vii. 61-65.]

[Footnote 400: He has been identified on sufficiently plausible
grounds with Ignazio Squarcialupo, the prior of Folengo's convent. In
the _Maccaronea_ this burlesque personage reappears as the keeper of a
tavern in hell, who feeds hungry souls on the most hideous messes of
carrion and vermin (Book xxiii. p. 217). There is sufficient rancor in
Griffarosto's portrait to justify the belief that Folengo meant in it
to gratify a private thirst for vengeance.]

Whatever appeared in the market of Sutri fit for the table, fell into
his clutches, or was transferred to the great bag he wore beneath his
scapulary. His library consisted of cookery books; and all the tongues
he knew, were tongues of swine and oxen.[401] Orlandino met this
Griffarosto fat as a stalled ox, one morning after he had purchased a
huge sturgeon:

      La Reverenzia vostra non si parta;
    Statemi alquanto, prego, ad ascoltare.
    _Nimis sollicita es, O Marta, Marta,
    Circa substantian Christi devorare._
    Dammi poltron, quel pesce, ch'io 'l disquarta,
    Per poterlo _in communi_ dispensare,
    Nassa d'anguille che tu sei, lurcone;
    E ciò dicendo dagli col bastone.

[Footnote 401: In the play on the word _lingue_ there is a side-thrust
at the Purists.]

The priest was compelled to disgorge his prey, and the fame of the
boy's achievement went abroad through Sutri. Rainero thereupon sent
for Griffarosto, and treated the Abbot to such a compendious abuse of
monks in general as would have delighted a Lutheran.[402] Griffarosto
essayed to answer him with a ludicrous jumble of dog Latin; but the
Governor requested him to defer his apology for the morrow. The
description of Griffarosto's study in the monastery, where wine and
victuals fill the place of books, his oratory consecrated to Bacchus,
the conversation with his cook, and the _ruse_ by which the cook gets
chosen Prior in his master's place, carry on the satire through fifty
stanzas of slashing sarcasm. The whole episode is a pendent picture to
Pulci's Margutte. Then, by a brusque change from buffoonery to
seriousness, Folengo plunges into a confession of faith, attributed to
Rainero, but presumably his own.[403] It includes the essential
points of Catholic orthodoxy, abjuring the impostures of priests and
friars, and taking final station on the Lutheran doctrine of salvation
by faith and repentance. Idle as a dream, says Folengo, are the
endeavors made by friars to force scholastic conclusions on the
conscience in support of theses S. Paul would have rejected. What they
preach, they do not comprehend. Their ignorance is only equal to their
insolent pretension. They are worse than Judas in their treason to
Christ, worse than Herod, Anna, Caiaphas, or Pilate. They are only fit
to consort with usurers and slaves. They use the names of saints and
the altar of the Virgin as the means of glutting their avarice with
the gold of superstitious folk. They abuse confession to gratify their
lusts. Their priories are dens of dogs, hawks, and reprobate women.
They revel in soft beds, drink to intoxication, and stuff themselves
with unctuous food. And still the laity intrust their souls to these
rogues, and there are found many who defraud their kith and kin in
order to enrich a convent![404]

[Footnote 402: Canto viii. 23-32.]

[Footnote 403: Canto viii. 73-84. This passage I have also translated
and placed in an Appendix to this chapter, where the chief Lutheran
utterances of the burlesque poets will be found together.]

[Footnote 404: In addition to the eighth Canto, I have drawn on iii.
4, 20; iv. 13; vi. 44, for this list.]

It would not be easy to compose an invective more suited to degrade
the objects of a satirist's anger by the copiousness and the tenacity
of the dirt flung at them. Yet the _Orlandino_ was written by a monk,
who, though he had left his convent, was on the point of returning to
it; and the poem was openly printed during the pontificate of Clement
VII. That Folengo should have escaped inquisitorial censure is
remarkable. That he should have been readmitted to the Benedictine
order after this outburst of bile and bold diffusion of heretical
opinion, is only explicable by the hatred which subsisted in Italy
between the rules of S. Francis and S. Benedict. While attacking the
former, he gratified the spite and jealousy of the latter. But the
fact is that his auditors, whether lay or clerical, were too
accustomed to similar charges and too frankly conscious of their
truth, to care about them. Folengo stirred no indignation in the
people, who had laughed at ecclesiastical corruption since the golden
days of the Decameron. He roused no shame in the clergy, for, till
Luther frightened the Church into that pseudo-reformation which Sarpi
styled a deformation of manners, the authorities of Rome were
nonchalantly careless what was said about them.[405] An atrabilious
monk in his garret vented his spleen with more than usual acrimony,
and the world applauded. _Ha fatto un bel libro!_ That was all.
Conversely, it is not strange that the weighty truths about religion
uttered by Folengo should have had but little influence. He was a
scribbler, famous for scurrility, notoriously profligate in private
life. Free thought in Italy found itself too often thus in company
with immorality. The names of heretic and Lutheran carried with them
at that time a reproach more pungent and more reasonable than is usual
with the epithets of theological hatred.[406]

[Footnote 405: Leo X.'s complacent acceptance of the _Mandragola_
proves this.]

[Footnote 406: The curious history of Giulio Trissino, told by
Bernardo Morsolin in the last chapters of his _Giangiorgio Trissino_
(Vicenza, 1878), reveals the manner of men who adopted Lutheranism in
Italy in the sixteenth century. See above, p. 304. I shall support the
above remarks lower down in this chapter by reference to Berni's
Lutheran opinions.]

In the _Orlandino_, Ariosto's irony is degraded to buffoonery. The
prosaic details he mingled with his poetry are made the material of a
new and vulgar comedy of manners. The satire he veiled in allegory or
polite discussion, bursts into open virulence. His licentiousness
yields to gross obscenity. The chivalrous epic, as employed for
purposes of art in Italy, contained within itself the germs of this
burlesque. It was only necessary to develop certain motives at the
expense of general harmony, to suppress the noble and pathetic
elements, and to lower the literary key of utterance, in order to
produce a parody. Ariosto had strained the semi-seriousness of romance
to the utmost limits of endurance. For his successors nothing was left
but imitation, caricature, or divergence upon a different track. Of
these alternatives, Folengo and Berni, Aretino and Fortiguerra, chose
the second; Tasso took the third, and provided Tassoni with the
occasion of a new burlesque.

While the romantic epic lent itself thus easily to parody, another
form of humorous poetry took root and flourished on the mass of Latin
literature produced by the Revival. Latin never became a wholly dead
language in Italy; and at the height of the Renaissance a public had
been formed whose appreciation of classic style insured a welcome for
its travesty. To depreciate the humanistic currency by an alloy of
plebeian phrases, borrowed from various base dialects; to ape
Virgilian mannerism while treating of the lowest themes suggested by
boisterous mirth or satiric wit; was the method of the so-called
Maccaronic poets. It is matter for debate who first invented this
style, and who created the title _Maccaronea_. So far back as the
thirteenth century, we notice a blending of Latin with French and
German in certain portions of the _Carmina Burana_.[407] But the two
elements of language here lie side by side, without interpenetration.
This imperfect fusion is not sufficient to constitute the genuine
Maccaronic manner. The jargon known as Maccaronic must consist of the
vernacular, suited with Latin terminations, and freely mingled with
classical Latin words. Nothing should meet the ear or eye, which does
not sound or look like Latin; but, upon inspection, it must be
discovered that a half or third is simple slang and common speech
tricked out with the endings of Latin declensions and conjugations.[408]
In Italy, where the modern tongue retained close similarity to Latin,
this amalgamation was easy; and we find that in the fifteenth century
the hybrid had already assumed finished form. The name by which it was
then known, indicates its composition. As maccaroni is dressed with
cheese and butter, so the maccaronic poet mixed colloquial expressions
of the people with classical Latin, serving up a dish that satisfied
the appetite by rarity and richness of concoction. At the same time,
since maccaroni was the special delicacy of the proletariate, and
since a stupid fellow was called a _Maccherone_, the ineptitude and
the vulgarity of the species are indicated by its title. Among the
Maccaronic poets we invariably find ourselves in low Bohemian company.
No Phoebus sends them inspiration; nor do they slake their thirst at
the Castalian spring. The muses they invoke are tavern-wenches and
scullions, haunting the slums and stews of Lombard cities.[409] Their
mistresses are of the same type as Villon's Margot. Mountains of
cheese, rivers of fat broth, are their Helicon and Hippocrene. Their
pictures of manners demand a coarser brush than Hogarth's to do them

[Footnote 407: The political and ecclesiastical satires known in
England as the work of Walter Mapes, abound in pseudo-Maccaronic
passages. Compare Du Méril, _Poésies Populaires Latines antérieures au
xiime Siècle_, p. 142, etc., for further specimens of undeveloped
Maccaronic poetry of the middle ages.]

[Footnote 408: Those who are curious to study this subject further,
should consult the two exhaustive works of Octave Delepierre,
_Macaronéana_ (Paris, 1852), and _Macaronéana Andra_ (Londres,
Trübner, 1862). These two publications contain a history of Maccaronic
verse, with reprints of the scarcer poems in this style. The second
gives the best text of Odassi, Fossa, and the _Virgiliana_. The
_Maccheronee di Cinque Poeti Italiani_ (Milano, Daelli, 1864), is a
useful little book, since it reproduces Delepierre's collections in a
cheap and convenient form. In the uncertainty which attends the
spelling of this word, I have adopted the form _Maccaronic_.]

[Footnote 409: Take one example, from the induction to Odassi's poems
(_Mac. Andr._ p. 63):

    O putanarum putanissima, vacca vaccarum,
    O potifarum potissima pota potaza ...
    Tu Phrosina mihi foveas, mea sola voluptas;
    Nulla mihi poterit melius succurrere Musa,
    Nullus Apollo magis.]

Before engaging in the criticism of this Maccaronic literature, it is
necessary to interpolate some notice of a kindred style, called
_pedantesco_. This was the exact converse of the Maccaronic manner.
Instead of adapting Italian to the rules of Latin, the parodist now
treated Latin according to the grammatical usages and metrical laws of
Italian. A good deal of the _Hypnerotomachia Poliphili_ is written in
_lingua pedantesca_. But the recognized masterpiece of the species is
a book called _I Cantici di Fidentio Glottogrysio Ludimagistro_. The
author's real name was Camillo Scrofa, a humanist and schoolmaster of
Vicenza. Though more than once reprinted, together with similar
compositions by equally obscure craftsmen, his verses are exceedingly
rare.[410] They owe their neglect partly to the absurdity of their
language, partly to the undisguised immorality of their
subject-matter. Of the _stilo pedantesco_ the following specimen may
suffice. It describes a hostelry of boors and peasants:[411]

    Pur pedetentim giunsi ad un cubiculo,
      Sordido, inelegante, ove molti hospiti
      Facean corona a un semimortuo igniculo.
    Salvete, dissi, et Giove lieti e sospiti
      Vi riconduca a i vostri dolci hospitii!
      Ma responso non hebbi; o rudi, o inhospiti!
    Io che tra veri equestri e tra patritii
      Soglio seder, mi vedi alhor negligere
      Da quegli huomini novi et adventitii.
    Non sapea quasi indignabundo eligere
      Partito; pur al fin fu necessario
      Tra lor per calefarmi un scanno erigere.
    Che colloquio, O Dii boni, empio e nefario
      Pervenne a l'aure nostre purgatissime,
      Da muover nausea a un lenone a un sicario!

[Footnote 410: The book was first printed at Vicenza. The copy I have
studied is the Florentine edition of 1574. Scrofa's verses, detached
from the collection, may be found in the _Parnaso Italiano_, vol.

[Footnote 411: _Op. cit._ p. 23.]

One of the most famous and earliest, if not absolutely the first among
the authors of Maccaronic verse, was Tifi Odassi, a Paduan, whose
poems were given to the press after his death, in at least two
editions earlier than the close of the fifteenth century.[412] He
chose a commonplace _Novella_ for his theme; but the interest of his
tale consists less in its argument than in its vivid descriptions of
low town-life. Odassi's portraits of plebeian characters are executed
with masterly realism, and the novelty of the vehicle gives them a
singularly trenchant force. It is unfortunately impossible to bring
either the cook-shop-keeper or his female servant, the mountebank or
the glutton, before modern readers. These pictures are too
Rabelaisian.[413] I must content myself with a passage taken from the
description of a bad painter, which, though it is inferior in comic
power, contains nothing unpardonably gross.[414]

    Quodsi forte aliquem voluit depingere gallum,
    Quicunque aspiciat poterit jurare cigognam;
    Depinxitque semel canes in caza currentes,
    Omnes credebant natantes in æquore luzos;
    Sive hominem pingit, poteris tu credere lignum
    In quo sartores ponunt sine capite vestes;
    Seu nudos facit multo sudore putinos,
    Tu caput a culo poteris dignoscere nunquam;
    Sive facit gremio Christum retinere Mariam,
    Non licet a filio sanctam dignoscere matrem;
    Pro gardelinis depingit sepe gallinas,
    Et pro gallinis depingit sepe caballos:
    Blasfemat, jurat, culpam dicit esse penelli,
    Quos spazzaturas poteris jurare de bruscho;
    Tam bene depingit pictorum pessimus iste,
    Nec tamen inferior se cogitat esse Bellino.

[Footnote 412: Bernardino Scardeone in his work _De antiquitate urbis
Patavii_, etc. (Basileæ, 1560), speaks of Odassi as the inventor of
Maccaronic poetry: "adinvenit enim primus ridiculum carminis genus,
nunquam prius a quopiam excogitatum, quod Macaronæum nuncupavit,
multis farcitum salibus, et satyrica mordacitate respersum." He adds
that Odassi desired on his deathbed that the book should be burned. In
spite of this wish, it was frequently reprinted during Scardeone's

[Footnote 413: It is with great regret that I omit Bertapalia, the
charlatan--a portrait executed with inimitable verve. Students of
Italian life in its lowest and liveliest details should seek him out.
_Mac. Andr._ pp. 68-71.]

[Footnote 414: _Ibid._ p. 71. I have altered spelling and

It will be seen from this specimen that Italian and Latin are
confounded without regard to either prosody or propriety of diction.
The style, far from being even pedestrian, is reptile, and the
inspiration is worthy of the source imagined by the poet.[415] As
Odassi remarks in his induction:

    Aspices, lector, Prisciani vulnera mille
    Gramaticamque novam, quam nos docuere putane.

[Footnote 415:

    Cognosces in me quantum tua numina possunt,
    Quæque tua veniunt stilantia carmina pota.]

The note struck by Odassi was sustained by his immediate imitators.
Another Paduan author used this parody of humanistic verse to
caricature a humanist, whom he called Vigonça.[416] Like Odassi, he
invoked Venus Volgivaga; and like Odassi's, very little of his verse
is quotable. The following extracts may be found acceptable for their
humorous account of a Professor's inaugural lecture in the university
of Padua.[417] Vigonça announces the opening of his course:

    Ipse ante totis facit asavere piacis,
    Et totis scolis mandat bolletina bidelis,
    Quæ bolletina portabant talia verba:
    "Comes magnificus cavalerius ille Vigonça,
    Patricius Patavus comesque ab origine longa,
    Vos rogat ad primam veniatis quisque legendam;
    Qui veniet, magnum fructum portabit a casa."
    Omnes venturos sese dixere libenter;
    Promissit comes, capitaneus atque potestas,
    Et paduani vechi juvenesque politi.
    Lux promissa aderat, qua se smatare Vigonça
    Debebat, atque suam cunctis monstrare matieram.
    Ille tamen totam facit conçare la scolam,
    De nigro totam facit conzare cathedram,
    In qua debebat matus sprologare Vigonça;
    Cetera fulgebant banchalis atque thapetis,
    Et decem in brochis dicit spendidisse duchatos.

[Footnote 416: This anonymous poet has been variously identified with
Odassi and with Fossa of Cremona. The frequent occurrence of Paduan
idioms seems to point to a Paduan rather than a Cremonese author; and
though there is no authoritative reason for referring the poem to
Odassi, it resembles his style sufficiently to render the hypothesis
of his authorship very plausible. The name of the hero, Vigonça, is
probably the Italian _Bigoncia_, which meant in one sense a pulpit or
a reading-desk, in its ordinary sense a tub.]

[Footnote 417: Daelli, _Maccheronee di Cinque Poeti Italiani_ (Milano,
1864), p. 50; cp. _Mac. Andr._ p. 19.]

After narrating how the whole town responded to Vigonça's invitation,
and how the folk assembled to hear his first address, the poet thus
describes the great occasion:[418]

    Sed neque bastabat ingens intrantibus ussus;
    Rumpebant cupos parietes atque fenestras,
    Inque ipso multos busos fecere parete.
    Tunc ibi bidelus cunctos ratione pregavit,
    Et sibi cavavit nigrum Vigonça biretum,
    Et manicas alzans dedit hic sua verba de mato,
    Et començavit sanctam faciendo la crucem.
    "Magnifice pretor, pariter generose prefecte,
    Tu facunde comes auri portando colanam,
    Magnus philosophus, lingua in utraque poeta,
    Tu primicerius, Venete spes alma paludis,
    Et vos doctores, celeberrima fama per orbem,
    Vos cavalerii multum sperone dorati,
    Vosque scolares, cives, charique sodales!
    Non ego perdivi tempus futuendo putanas,
    Non ego zugando, non per bordella vagando;
    Non ego cum canibus lepores seguendo veloces,
    Non cum sparveris, non cum falconibus ipse;
    Non ego cum dadis tabulam lissando per ullam;
    Non ego cum chartis volui dissipare dinaros,
    Qualiter in Padue faciunt de nocte scolares.
    Quum jocant alii, stabat in casa Vigonça
    Et studiabat guardando volumina longa."

[Footnote 418: Daelli, _op. cit._ pp. 52, 54.]

This Paduan caricature may be reckoned among the most valuable
documents we possess for the illustration of the professorial system
in Italy during the ascendancy of humanism. Some material of the same
kind is supplied by the _Virgiliana_ of Evangelista Fossa, a Cremonese
gentleman, who versified a Venetian _Burla_ in mock-heroic Latin. He,
too, painted the portrait of a pedant, Priscianus:[419]

    Est mirandus homo; nam sunt miracula in illo,
    Omnes virtutes habet hic in testa fichatas ...
    Nam quicquid dicit, semper per littera parlat,
    Atque habet in boccham pulchra hæc proverbia semper....
    Est letrutus nam multum, studiavit in omni
    Arte, fuit Padoe, fuit in la citta de Perosa,
    Bononie multum mansit de senno robando.

[Footnote 419: _Ibid._ p. 112; _Mac. Andra_, p. 32.]

But Fossa's _Virgiliana_, while aiming at a more subtle sort of parody
than the purely maccaronic poems, misses their peculiar salt, and,
except for the Hudibrastic description of the author on
horseback,[420] offers nothing of great interest.

[Footnote 420: "De fossa compositore quando venit patavio" (_Mac.
Andra_, p. 39).]

Brief notice also may be taken of Giovan Giorgio Alione's satire on
the Lombards. Alione was a native of Asti, and seasoned his maccaroni
with the base French of his birthplace. For Asti, transferred to the
House of Orleans by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, was more than half a
French city and its inhabitants spoke the Gallic dialect common to
Piedmont.[421] Alione is proud of this subjection, and twits the
Lombards of Milan and Pavia with being unworthy of their ancient
origin no less than of their modern masters.[422] Unlike the ordinary
run of burlesque poems, his _Macharonea_ is virulently satirical.
Animated by a real rage against the North Italians, Alione paints them
as effeminate cowards, devoid of the sense of honor and debased by the
vices of ill-bred _parvenus_. The opening of a _Novella_ he relates,
may be cited as a fair specimen of his style:[423]

    Quidam Franzosus, volens tornare Parisum,
    Certum Mìlaneysum scontravit extra viglianam
    Sine capello docheti testa bagnatum:
    Et cum ignoraret Gallicus hic unde fuisset
    Dixit vulgariter _estes vous moglie mon amicus_?
    Ille qui intelligit a la rebusa, respondit
    _Sy sy mi che ho mogle Milani et anca fiolos._
    Gallus tunc cernens Lombardum fore loquela,
    Et recordatus quod tempore guerre Salucis
    Alixandrini fecerant pagare menestram
    Scutumque sibi sgrafignarant de gibesera,
    Sfodravit ensem dicens _o tretre ribalde_
    _Rendez moy sa mon escu_, sy non a la morte spazat.

[Footnote 421: Alione says:

    Cum nos Astenses reputemur undique Galli.]

[Footnote 422: See the passage beginning "O Longobardi frapatores,"
and ending with these lines:

    Tunc baratasti Gallorum nobile nomen
    Cum Longobardo, etc.

Daelli, _op. cit._ p. 94.]

[Footnote 423: Daelli, p. 93.]

The end of the story is far too crude to quote, and it is probable
that even the most curious readers will already have had enough of
Alione's peculiar gibberish.

The maccaronic style had reached this point when Folengo took
possession of it, stamped it with his own genius, and employed it for
one of the most important poems of the century. He is said to have
begun a serious Latin epic in his early manhood, and to have laid this
aside because he foresaw the impossibility of wresting the laurels
from Virgil. This story is probably a legend; but it contains at least
an element of truth. Folengo aimed at originality; he chose to be the
first of burlesque Latin poets rather than to claim the name and fame
of a Virgilian imitator.[424] In the proemium to his _Moscheis_ he
professes to have found the orthodox Apollo deaf to his prayers:

    Illius heu frustra doctas captare sorores
      Speravi ac multa laude tenere polos.

[Footnote 424: In the first book of the _Moscheis_, line 7, he says:

    Gens ceratana sinat vecchias cantare batajas,
      Squarzet Virgilios turba pedanta suos.

The end of the _Maccaronea_ sets forth the impossibility of modern
bards contending with the great poet of antiquity. Pontanus,
Sannazzarius, all the best Latin writers of the age, pale before

    Non tamen æquatur vati quem protulit Andes,
    Namque vetusta nocet laus nobis sæpe modernis.

This refrain he repeats for each poet with whimsical reiteration.
Folengo's own ambition to take the first place among burlesque writers
appears in the final lines of _Mac._ book iii.:

    Mantua Virgilio gaudet, Verona Catullo,
    Dante suo florens urbs Tusca, Cipada Cocajo:
    Dicor ego superans alios levitate poetas,
    Ut Maro medesimos superans gravitate poetas.

The induction to the _Moscheis_ points to a serious heroic poem on
Mantua which he abandoned for want of inspiration. We have in these
references enough to account for the myth above mentioned.]

The reason of the god's anger was that his votary had sullied the
clear springs of Hippocrene:

    Nescio quas reperi musas, turpesve sorores,
      Nescio quas turpi carmina voce canunt.
    Limpida Pegasidum vitiavi stagna profanus,
      Totaque sunt limo dedecorata meo.

The exordium to the _Maccaronea_ introduces us to these vulgar Muses,
_grossæ Camoenæ_, who fill their neophytes with maccaronic

    Jam nec Melpomene, Clio, nec magna Thalia,
    Nec Phoebus grattando lyram mihi carmina dictet,
    Qui tantos olim doctos fecere poetas;
    Verum cara mihi foveat solummodo Berta,
    Gosaque, Togna simul, Mafelina, Pedrala, Comina.
    Veridicæ Musæ sunt hæ, doctæque sorellæ;
    Quarum non multis habitatio nota poetis.

The holy hill of Folengo's Muses is a mountain of cheese and
maccaroni, with lakes of broth and rivers of unctuous sauces:

    Stant ipsæ Musæ super altum montis acumen,
    Formajum gratulis durum retridando foratis.

Here he seeks them, and here they deign to crown him poet:[425]

    Ergo macaronicas illic cattavimus artes,
    Et me grossiloquum vatem statuere sorores.

[Footnote 425: Compare _Mac._ vii. p. 195.

    Nil nisi crassiloquas dicor scrivisse camoenas,
    Crassiloquis igitur dicamus magna camoenis.

This _great theme_ is nothing less than monasticism in its vilest

We have seen already that the maccaronic style involved a free use of
plebeian Italian, imbedded in a mixed mass of classical and medieval
Latinity. Folengo refined the usage of his predecessors, by improving
the versification, adopting a more uniformly heroic tone, and
introducing scraps of Mantuan dialect at unexpected intervals, so that
each lapse into Italian has the force of a surprise--what the Greeks
called [Greek: para prosdokian]. The comic effect is produced by a
sustained epical inflation, breaking irregularly into the coarsest and
least pardonable freaks of vulgarity. It is as though the poet were
improvising, emulous of Virgil; but the tide of inspiration fails him,
he falls short of classical phrases to express his thoughts, and is
forced in the hurry of the moment to avail himself of words and images
that lie more close at hand. His Pegasus is a showy hack, who ambles
on the bypaths of Parnassus, dropping now and then a spavined hock and
stumbling back into his paces with a snort. His war-trumpet utters a
sonorous fanfaronnade; but the blower loses breath, and breaks his
note, or suffers it to lapse into a lamentable quaver.

Tifi Odassi, who may be regarded as Folengo's master in this species
of verse, confined the Maccaronic Muse to quaintly-finished sketches
in the Dutch style.[426] His pupil raised her to the dignity of Clio
and composed an epic in twenty-five books. The length of this poem and
the strangeness of the manner render it unpalatable to all but serious
students at the present time. Its humor has evaporated, and the form
itself strikes us as rococo. We experience some difficulty in
sympathizing with those readers of the sixteenth century, who,
perfectly acquainted with Latin poetry and accustomed to derive
intellectual pleasure from its practice, found exquisite amusement in
so cleverly constructed a parody. Nor is it possible for Englishmen to
appreciate the more delicate irony of the vulgarisms, which Folengo
adopted from one of the coarsest Italian dialects, and cemented with
subtle skill upon the stately structure of his hexameters. Still we
may remember that the _Maccaronea_ was read with profit by Rabelais,
and that much of Butler's humor betrays a strong affinity to this
antiquated burlesque.

[Footnote 426: At the end of the _Maccaronea_ I think there may be an
allusion to Odassi conveyed in these words, _Tifi Caroloque futuris_.]

In substance the _Maccaronea_ begins with a rehandling of the
_Orlandino_. Guido, peerless among Paladins, wins the love of his
king's daughter, Baldovina of France. They fly together into Italy,
and she dies in giving birth to a son at Cipada, near Mantua. Guido
disappears, and the boy, Baldus, is brought up by a couple of
peasants. He believes himself to be their child, and recognizes the
rustic boor, Zambellus, for his brother. Still the hero's nature
reveals itself in the village urchin; and, like the young Orlando,
Baldus performs prodigies of valor in his boyhood:

    Non it post vaccas, at sæpe caminat ad urbem,
    Ac ad Panadæ dispectum praticat illam;
    In villam semper tornabat vespere facto,
    Portabatque caput fractum gambasque macatas.

When he goes to school, he begins by learning his letters with great
readiness. But he soon turns away from grammar to books of chivalry:

    Sed mox Orlandi nasare volumina coepit:
    Non vacat ultra deponentia discere verba,
    Non species, numeros, non casus atque figuras,
    Non Doctrinalis versamina tradere menti:
    Fecit de norma scartazzos mille Donati
    Inque Perotinum librum salcicia coxit.
    Orlandi solum, nec non fera bella Rinaldi
    Aggradant; animum faciebat talibus altum:
    Legerat Ancrojam, Tribisondam, gesta Danesi,
    Antonæque Bovum, mox tota Realea Francæ,
    Innamoramentum Carlonis et Asperamontem,
    Spagnam, Altobellum, Morgantis facta gigantis.

And so forth through the whole list of chivalrous romances, down to
the _Orlando Furioso_ and the _Orlandino_. The boy's heart is set on
deeds of daring. He makes himself the captain of a band of rogues who
turn the village of Cipada upside down. Three of these deserve
especial notice--Fracassus, Cingar, and Falchettus; since they became
the henchmen of our hero in all his subsequent exploits. Fracassus was
descended in the direct line from Morgante:

    Primus erat quidam Fracassus prole gigantis,
    Cujus stirps olim Morganto venit ab illo,
    Qui bachiocconem campanæ ferre solebat
    Cum quo mille hominum colpo sfracasset in uno.

Cingar in like manner drew his blood from Pulci's Margutte:

    Alter erat Baldi compagnus, nomine Cingar,
    Accortus, ladro, semper truffare paratus;
    Scarnus enim facie, reliquo sed corpore nervis
    Plenus, compressus, picolinus, brunus, et atrox,
    Semper habens nudam testam, rizzutus et asper.
    Iste suam traxit Marguti a sanguine razzam,
    Qui ad calcagnos sperones ut gallus habebat
    Et nimio risu simia cagante morivit.

Falchettus boasted a still stranger origin:[427]

    Sed quidnam de te, Falchette stupende, canemus?
    Tu quoque pro Baldo bramasti prendere mortem.
    Forsitan, o lecor, quæ dico, dura videntur,
    Namque Pulicano Falchettus venit ab illo
    Quem scripsere virum medium, mediumque catellum;
    Quapropter sic sic noster Falchettus habebat
    Anteriora viri, sed posteriora canina.

[Footnote 427: I do not recognize Pulicanus, who is said to be the
ancestor of Falchettus. Is it a misprint for Fulicanus? Fulicano is a
giant in Bello's _Mambriano_, one of Folengo's favorite poems of

It would be too long to relate how Baldus received knightly education
from a nobleman who admired his daring; how, ignorant of his
illustrious blood, he married the village beauty Berta; and how he
made himself the petty tyrant of Cipada. The exploits of his youth are
a satire on the violence of local magnates, whose manners differed
little from those of the peasants they oppressed. In course of time
Baldus fell under the displeasure of a despot stronger than himself,
and was shut up in prison.[428] In the absence of his hero from the
scene, the poet now devotes himself to the exploits of Cingar among
the peasants of Cipada. Without lowering his epic tone, Folengo fills
five books with whimsical adventures, painting the manners of the
country in their coarsest colors, and introducing passages of stinging
satire on the monks he hated.[429] Cingar, finding himself on one
occasion in a convent, gives vent to a long soliloquy which expresses
Folengo's own contempt for the monastic institutions that filled Italy
with rogues:

    Quo diavol, ait, tanti venere capuzzi?
    Nil nisi per mundum video portare capuzzos:
    Quisquam vult fieri Frater, vult quisque capuzzum
    Postquam giocarunt nummos, tascasque vodarunt,
    Postquam pane caret cophinum, celaria vino,
    In Fratres properant, datur his extemplo capuzzus.
    Undique sunt isti Fratres, istique capuzzi.
    Qui sint nescimus; discernare nemo valeret
    Tantas vestitum foggias, tantosque colores:
    Sunt pars turchini, pars nigri, parsque morelli,
    Pars albi, russi, pars gialdi, parsque bretini.
    Si per iter vado telluris, cerno capuzzos:
    Si per iter pelagi, non mancum cerno capuzzos;
    Quando per armatos eo campos, cerno capuzzos;
    Sive forum subeo, sive barcam, sive tabernam,
    Protinus ante oculos aliquem mihi cerno capuzzum.

[Footnote 428: _Mac._ iii. The edition I quote from is that of Mantua
(?) under name of Amsterdam, 1769 and 1771, 2 vols. 4to. See vol. i.
p. 117, for a satire on the frauds and injustice of a country
law-court, followed by a mock heroic panegyric of the Casa Gonzaga.
The description of their celebrated stud and breed of horses may be
read with interest.]

[Footnote 429: The episode of Berta's battle with her sister Laena
(_Mac._ iv. p. 144), the apostrophe to old age (_Mac._ v. p. 152), the
village ball (_ibid._ p. 163), the tricks played by Cingar on
Zambellus (_ibid._ p. 168, and _Mac._ vi.), the description of the
convent of Motella (_Mac._ vii. 196), the portrait of the ignorant
parish-priest (_Mac._ vii. p. 202), the Carnival Mass (_Mac._ viii. p.
212), followed by a drunken _Ker Mess_ (_ibid._ p. 214), are all
executed in the broad style of a Dutch painter, and abound in
realistic sketches of Lombard country-life.]

There will soon be no one left to bear arms, till the fields, or ply
the common handicrafts. All the villains make themselves monks,
aspiring to ecclesiastical honors and seeking the grade of superiority
denied them by their birth. It is ambition that fills the convents:

    Illic nobilitas sub rusticitate laborat,
    Ambitio quoniam villanos unica brancat.

This tirade is followed by the portrait of Prae Jacopinus, a village
parson whose stupidity is only equaled by his vices. Jacopino's
education in the alphabet is a masterpiece of Rabelaisian humor, and
the following passage on his celebration of the Mass brings all the
sordidness of rustic ceremonial before our eyes:[430]

    Præterea Missam foggia dicebat in una,
    Nec crucis in fronte signum formare sciebat.
    Inter Confiteor parvum discrimen et Amen
    Semper erat, jam jam meditans adjungere finem;
    Incipiebat enim nec adhuc in nomine Patris,
    Quod tribus in saltis veniebat ad Ite misestum.

[Footnote 430: _Mac._ vii. p. 204.]

From generalities Folengo passes to particulars in the following
description of a village Mass:[431]

    Inde Jacopinus, chiamatis undique Pretis,
    Coeperat in gorga Missam cantare stupendam;
    Subsequitant alii, magnisque cridoribus instant.
    Protinus Introitum spazzant talqualiter omnem,
    Ad Chyrios veniunt, quos miro dicere sentis
    Cum contrappunto, veluti si cantor adesset
    Master Adrianus, Constantius atque Jachettus.
    Hic per dolcezzam scorlabant corda vilani
    Quando de quintis terzisque calabat in unam
    Musicus octavam noster Jacopinus et ipsas
    Providus octavas longa cum voce tirabat.
    Gloria in excelsis passat, jam Credo propinquat;
    Oh si Josquinus Cantorum splendor adesset!

[Footnote 431: _Mac._ vii. p. 212. Folengo seems to have been fond of
music. See the whimsical description of four-part singing, _Mac._ xx.
p. 139, followed by the panegyric of Music and the malediction of her

Meanwhile Baldus has been left in prison, and it is time for Cingar to
undertake his rescue. He effects this feat, by stripping two
Franciscan monks, and dressing himself up in the frock he had just
filched from one of them, while he coaxes the unfortunate Zambellus
to assume the other. Then he persuades the people of Mantua that he
has seen himself assassinated on the high road; gains access to Baldus
in the dungeon, on the plea of hearing his confession; and contrives
to leave Zambellus there in the clothes of Baldus, after disguising
his friend in one of the friar's tunics. The story is too intricate
for repetition here.[432] Suffice it to say that Baldus escapes and
meets a knight errant, Leonardus, at the city gate, who has ridden all
the way from Rome to meet so valorous a Paladin. The swear eternal
friendship. The three henchmen of the hero muster round the new
comrades in arms; and the party thus formed set forth upon a series of
adventures in the style of Astolfo's journey to the moon.

[Footnote 432: This episode of Cingar's triumph over the enemies of
Baldus, his craft, his rhetoric, his ready wit, his infinite powers of
persuasion, his monkey tricks and fox-like cunning, is executed with
an energy of humor and breadth of conception, that places it upon a
level with the choicest passages in Rabelais.]

This part of the epic is a close copy of the chivalrous romances in
their more fantastic details. The journey of the Barons, as they are
now invariably styled, is performed in a great ship. They encounter
storms and pirates, land on marvelous islands, enter fairy palaces,
and from time to time recruit their forces with notable rogues and
drunkards whom they find upon their way. The parody consists in the
similarity of their achievements to those of knight-errantry, while
they are themselves in all points unlike the champions of chivalry.
One of their most cherished companions, for example, is Boccalus, a
Bergamasque buffoon, who distinguishes himself by presence of mind in
a great storm:[433]

    Ille galantus homo, qui nuper in æquora bruttam
    Jecerat uxorem, dicens non esse fagottum
    Fardellumque homini plus laidum, plusque pesentum
    Quam sibi mojeram lateri mirare tacatam
    Quæ sit oca ingenio, quæ vultu spazzacaminus.

[Footnote 433: _Mac._ xii. p. 296.]

The tale of adventures is diversified, after the manner of the
romantic poets, by digressions, sometimes pathetic, sometimes
dissertational. Among these the most amusing is Cingar's lecture on
astronomy, in which the planetary theories of the middle ages are
burlesqued with considerable irony.[434] The most affecting is the
death of Leonardus, who chooses to be torn in pieces by bears rather
than yield his virginity to a vile woman. This episode suggests one of
the finest satiric passages in the whole poem. Having exhibited the
temptress Muselina, the poet breaks off with this exclamation:[435]

    Heu quantis noster Muselinis orbis abundat!

[Footnote 434: In the course of this oration Folengo introduces an
extraordinarily venomous invective against _contadini_, which may be
paralleled with his allegory in the _Orlandino_. It begins (_Mac._
xiii. p. 11):

    Progenies maledicta quidem villana vocatur,

and extends through forty lines of condensed abuse.]

[Footnote 435: _Mac._ xvi. p. 66.]

He then enumerates their arts of seduction, and winds up with a
powerful dramatic picture, painted from the life, of a _mezzana_
engaged in corrupting a young man's mind during Mass-time:

    Dum Missæ celebrantur, amant cantonibus esse,
    Postque tenebrosos mussant chiachiarantque pilastros;
    Ah miserelle puer, dicunt, male nate, quod ullam
    Non habes, ut juvenes bisognat habere, morosam!...
    Numquid vis fieri Frater Monachusve, remotis
    Delitiis Veneris, Bacchi, Martisque, Jovisque,
    Quos vel simplicitas, vel desperatio traxit?...
    Nemo super terram sanctus; stant æthere sancti:
    Nos carnem natura facit, quo carne fruamur.

As the epic approaches its conclusion, Baldus discovers his true
father, Guido, under the form of a holy hermit, and learns that it is
reserved for him by destiny, first to extirpate the sect of witches
under their queen Smirna Gulfora, and afterwards to penetrate the
realms of death and hell. The last five books of the _Maccaronea_ are
devoted to these crowning exploits. Merlin appears, and undertakes the
guidance of the Barons on their journey to Avernus.[436] But first he
requires full confession of their sins from each; and this humorous
act of penitence forms one of the absurdest episodes, as may be easily
imagined, in the poem. Absolved and furnished with heroic armor, the
Barons march to the conquest of Gulfora and the destruction of her
magic palace. Folengo has placed it appropriately on the road to hell;
for under Gulfora he allegorizes witchcraft. The space allotted to
Smirna Gulfora and the importance attached to her overthrow by Baldus
and his Barons, call attention to the prevalence of magic in Italy at
this epoch.[437] It may not, therefore, be out of place, before
engaging in this portion of the analysis, to give some account of
Italian witchcraft drawn from other sources, in order to estimate the
truth of the satire upon which Folengo expended his force.

[Footnote 436: _Mac._ xx. p. 152. From this point onward the poet and
Merlin are one person:

    Nomine Merlinos dicor, de sanguine Mantus,
    Est mihi cognomen Cocajus Maccaronensis.]

[Footnote 437: The _Novella_ of Luca Philippus, who kept a tavern at
the door of Paradise, and had no custom, since no one came that way so
long as Gulfora ruled on earth, forms a significant preface to her
episode. See _Mac._ xxi. p. 180. The altercation between this host and
Peter at the rusty gate of heaven is written in the purest Italian
style of pious parody.]

"Beautiful and humane Italy," as Bandello calls his country in the
preface to one of his most horrible _Novelle_, was, in spite of her
enlightenment, but little in advance of Europe on the common points of
medieval superstition. The teaching of the Church encouraged a belief
in demons; and the common people saw on every chapel wall the fresco
of some saint expelling devils from the bodies of possessed persons,
or exorcising domestic utensils which had been bewitched.[438] Thus
the laity grew up in the confirmed opinion that earth, air, and ocean
swarmed with supernatural beings, whom they distinguished as fiends
from hell or inferior sprites of the elements, called _spiriti
folletti_.[439] While the evil spirits of both degrees were supposed
to lie beneath the ban of ecclesiastical malediction, they lent their
aid to necromancers, witches and wizards, who, defying the
interdictions of the Church, had the audacity to use them as their
slaves by the employment of powerful spells and rites of conjurations.
There was a way, it was believed, of taming both the demons and the
elves, of making them the instruments of human avarice, ambition,
jealousy and passion. Since all forms of superstition in Italy lent
themselves to utilitarian purposes, the necromancer and the witch,
having acquired this power over supernatural agents, became the
servants of popular lusts. They sold their authority to the highest
bidders, undertaking to blast the vines or to poison the flocks of an
enemy; to force young men and maidens to become the victims of
inordinate appetites; to ruin inconvenient husbands by slowly-wasting
diseases; to procure abortion by spells and potions; to confer wealth
and power upon aspirants after luxury; to sow the seeds of discord in
families--in a word, to open a free path for the indulgence of the
vain desires that plague ill-regulated egotisms. A class of impostors,
half dupes of their own pretensions, half rogues relying on the folly
of their employers, sprang into existence, who combined the Locusta of
ancient Rome with the witch of medieval Germany. Such was the Italian
_strega_--a loathsome creature, who studied the chemistry of poisons,
philtres, and abortion-hastening drugs, and while she pretended to
work her miracles by the help of devils, played upon the common
passions and credulities of human kind.[440] By her side stood her
masculine counterpart, the _stregone_, _negromante_ or _alchimista_,
who plays so prominent a part in the Italian comedies and novels.

[Footnote 438: Aretino's _Cortigiana_ contains a very humorous
exorcism inflicted by way of a practical joke upon a fisherman.]

[Footnote 439: See above, Part i, p. 453, note 2, for the distinction
between the fiends and the sprites drawn by Pulci.]

[Footnote 440: See Lasca's _Novella_ of _Zoroastro_; Bandello's novels
of witchcraft (Part iii. 29 and 52); Cellini's celebrated conjuration
in the Coliseum; and Ariosto's comedy of the _Negromante_. These
sources may be illustrated from the evidence given by Virginia Maria
Lezia before her judges, and the trial of witches at Nogaredo, both of
which are printed in Dandolo's _Signora di Monza_ (Milano, 1855).
Compare the curious details about Lombard witchcraft in Cantù's
_Diocesi di Como_.]

Witchcraft was localized in two chief centers--the mountains of
Norcia, and the Lombard valleys of the Alps.[441] In the former we
find a remnant of antique superstition. The witches of this district,
whether male or female, had something of the classical Sibyl in their
composition and played upon the terrors of their clients. Like their
Roman predecessors, they plied the trades of poisoner, quack-doctor
and bawd. In Lombardy witchcraft assumed a more Teutonic complexion.
The witch was less the instrument of fashionable vices, trading in
them as a lucrative branch of industry, than the hysterical subject of
a spiritual disease. Lust itself inflamed the victims of this
superstition, who were burned by hundreds in the towns, and who were
supposed to hold their revels in the villages of Val Camonica. Like
the hags of northern Europe, these Lombard _streghe_ had recourse to
the black art in the delirious hope of satisfying their own inordinate
ambitions, their own indescribable desires. The disease spread so
wildly at the close of the fifteenth century that Innocent VIII., by
his Bull of 1484, issued special injunctions to the Dominican monks of
Brescia, Bergamo and Cremona, authorizing them to stamp it out with
fire and torture.[442] The result was a crusade against witchcraft,
which seems to have increased the evil by fascinating the imagination
of the people. They believed all the more blindly in the supernatural
powers to be obtained by magic arts, inasmuch as this traffic had
become the object of a bloody persecution. When the Church recognized
that men and women might command the fiends of hell, it followed as a
logical consequence that wretches, maddened by misery and intoxicated
with ungovernable lusts, were tempted to tamper with the forbidden
thing at the risk of life and honor in this world and with the
certainty of damnation in the other. After this fashion the confused
conscience of illiterate people bred a formidable extension of this
spiritual malady throughout the northern provinces of Italy. Some were
led by morbid curiosity; others by a vain desire to satisfy their
appetites, or to escape the consequences of their crimes. A more
dangerous class used the superstition to acquire power over their
neighbors and to make money out of popular credulity.

[Footnote 441: It may be remembered that the necromancer in Cellini
sent his book to be enchanted in the Apennines of Norcia. Folengo
alludes to this superstition:

    Qualiter ad stagnum Nursæ sacrare quadernos.

With regard to Val Camonica, see the actual state of that district as
reported by Cantù. Folengo in the _Orlandino_ mentions its witches.
Bandello (iii. 52) speaks of it thus: "Val Camonica, ove si dice
essere di molte streghe."]

[Footnote 442: Witchcraft in Italy grew the more formidable the closer
it approached the German frontier. It seems to have assumed the
features of an epidemic at the close of the fifteenth century. Up to
that date little is heard of it, and little heed was paid to it. The
exacerbation of the malady portended and accompanied the dissolution
of medieval beliefs in a population vexed by war, famine and
pestilence, and vitiated by ecclesiastical corruption.]

Born and bred in Lombardy at the epoch when witchcraft had attained
the height of popular insanity, Folengo was keenly alive to the
hideousness of a superstition which, rightly or wrongly, he regarded
as a widespread plague embracing all classes of society. It may be
questioned whether he did not exaggerate its importance. But there is
no mistaking the verisimilitude of the picture he drew. All the
uncleanliness of a diseased imagination, all the extravagances of
wanton desire, all the consequences of domestic unchastity--incest,
infanticide, secret assassination, concealment of births--are traced
to this one cause and identified by him with witchcraft. The palace of
the queen Gulfora is a pandemonium of lawless vice:

    Quales hic reperit strepitus, qualemque tumultum,
    Quales mollities turpes, actusque salaces,
    Utile nil scribi posset, si scribere vellem.

Her courts are crowded with devils who have taken human shape to
gratify the lusts of her votaries:

    Leggiadros juvenes, bellos, facieque venustos,
    Stringatos, agiles, quos judicat esse diablos,
    Humanum piliasse caput moresque decentes,
    Conspicit, innumeras circum scherzare puellas,
    Quæ gestant vestes auri brettasque veluti.

The multitude is made up of all nations, sexes, ages, classes:

    Obstupet innumeros illic retrovare striones,
    Innumerasque strias vecchias, modicasque puellas.
    Non ea medesimo generatur schiatta paeso;
    At sunt Italici, Græci, Gallique, Spagnoles,
    Magnates, poveri, laici, fratresque, pretesque,
    Matronæ, monighæ per forzam claustra colentes.

Some of them are engaged in preparing love-potions and poisonous
draughts from the most disgusting and noxious ingredients. Others
compound unguents to be used in the metamorphosis of themselves on
their nocturnal jaunts. Among these are found poets, orators,
physicians, lawyers, governors, for whose sins a handful of poor old
women play the part of scapegoats before the public:

    Sed quia respectu legis prævertitur ordo,
    Namque solent grossi pisces mangiare minutos,
    Desventuratæ quædam solummodo vecchiæ
    Sunt quæ supra asinos plebi spectacula fiunt,
    Sunt quæ primatum multorum crimina celant,
    Sunt quæ sparagnant madonnis pluribus ignem.

Some again are discovered compiling books of spells:

    Quomodo adulterium uxoris vir noscere possit,
    Quomodo virgineæ cogantur amare puellæ,
    Quomodo non tumeat mulier cornando maritum,
    Quomodo si tumuit fantinum mingat abortum,
    Quomodo vix natos vitient sua fascina puttos,
    Quomodo desiccent odiati membra mariti.

The elder witches keep a school for the younger, and instruct them in
the secrets of their craft. Among these Baldus recognizes his own
wife, together with the principal ladies of his native land.

It is clear that under the allegory of witchcraft, in which at the
same time he seems to have believed firmly, Folengo meant to satirize
the secret corruption of society. When Gulfora herself appears, she
holds her court like an Italian duchess:

    Longa sequit series hominum muschiata zibettis,
    Qui cortesanos se vantant esse tilatos,
    Quorum si videas mores rationis ochialo,
    Non homines maschios sed dicas esse bagassas.

The terrible friar then breaks into a tirade against the courtiers of
his day, comparing them with Arthur's knights:

    Tempore sed nostro, proh dii, sæcloque dadessum,
    Non nisi perfumis variis et odore zibetti,
    Non nisi, seu sazaræ petenentur sive tosentur,
    Brettis velluti, nec non scufiotibus auri,
    Auri cordiculis, impresis, atque medallis,
    Millibus et frappis per calzas perque giupones,
    Cercamus carum merdosi germen amoris.

Baldus exterminates the whole vile multitude, while Fracassus pulls
Gulfora's palace about her ears. After this, the Barons pursue their
way to Acheron, and call upon Charon to ferry them across. He refuses
to take so burdensome a party into his boat; but by the strength of
Fracassus and the craft of Cingar they effect a passage. Their entry
into hell furnishes Folengo with opportunities for new tirades against
the vices of Italy. Tisiphone boasts how Rome, through her
machinations, has kept Christendom in discord. Alecto exults in her
offspring, the Guelph and Ghibelline factions:

    Unde fides Christi paulatim lapsa ruinet,
    Dum gentes Italæ bastantes vincere mundum
    Se se in se stessos discordant, seque medesmos
    Vassallos faciunt, servos, vilesque famejos
    His qui vassalli, servi, vilesque fa meji
    Tempore passato nobis per forza fu ere.

After passing the Furies, and entering the very jaws of Hades, Baldus
encounters the fantasies of grammarians and humanists, the idle
nonsense of the schoolmen, all the lumber of medieval philosophy mixed
with the trifles of the Renaissance.[443] He fights his way through
the thick-crowding swarm of follies, and reaches the hell of lovers,
where a mountebank starts forward and offers to be his guide. Led by
this zany, the hero and his comrades enter an enormous gourd, the bulk
of which is compared to the mountains of Val Camonica. Within its
spacious caverns dwell the sages of antiquity, with astrologers,
physicians, wizards, and false poets. But, having brought his Barons
to this place Merlinus Cocajus can advance no further. He is destined
to inhabit the great gourd himself. Beyond it he has no knowledge; and
here, therefore, he leaves the figments of his fancy without a word of

    Nec Merlinus ego, laus, gloria, fama Cipadæ,
    Quamvis fautrices habui Tognamque Gosamque,
    Quamvis implevi totum macaronibus orbem,
    Quamvis promerui Baldi cantare batajas,
    Non tamen hanc zuccam potui schifare decentem,
    In qua me tantos opus est nunc perdere dentes,
    Tot, quot in immenso posui mendacia libro.

[Footnote 443:

    Hic sunt Grammaticæ populi, gentesque reductæ,
    Huc, illuc, istuc, reliqua seguitante fameja:
    Argumenta volant dialectica, mille sophistæ
    Adsunt bajanæ, pro, contra, non, ita, lyque:
    Adsunt Errores, asunt mendacia, bollæ,
    Atque solecismi, fallacia, fictio vatum...
    Omnes altandem tanto rumore volutant
    Ethicen et Physicen, Animam, centumque novellas,
    Ut sibi stornito Baldus stopparet orecchias.
    Squarnazzam Scoti Fracassus repperit illic,
    Quam vestit, gabbatque Deum, pugnatque Thomistas.
    Alberti magni Lironus somnia zaffat.]

With this grotesque invention of the infernal pumpkin, where lying
bards are punished by the extraction of teeth which never cease to
grow again, Folengo breaks abruptly off. His epic ends with a
Rabelaisian peal of laughter, in which we can detect a growl of
discontent and anger.

Laying the book down, we ask ourselves whether the author had a
serious object, or whether he meant merely to indulge a vein of
wayward drollery. The virulent invectives which abound in the
_Maccaronea_, seem to warrant the former conclusion; nor might it be
wholly impossible to regard the poem as an allegory, in which Baldus
should play the part of the reason, unconscious at first of its noble
origin, consorting with the passions and the senses, but finally
arriving at the knowledge of its high destiny and defeating the powers
of evil.[444] Yet when we attempt to press this theory and to explain
the allegory in detail, the thread snaps in our hands. Like the
romances of chivalry which it parodies, the _Maccaronea_ is a bizarre
mixture of heterogeneous elements, loosely put together to amuse an
idle public and excite curiosity. If its author has used it also as
the vehicle for satire which embraces all the popular superstitions,
vices and hypocrisies of his century; if, as he approaches the
conclusion, he assumes a tone of sarcasm more sinister than befits the
broad burlesque of the commencement; we must rest contented with the
assumption that his choleric humor led him from the path of comedy,
while the fury of a soul divided against itself inspired his muses of
the cook-shop with loftier strains than they had promised at the
outset.[445] Should students in the future devote the same minute
attention to Folengo that has been paid to Rabelais, it is not
improbable that the question here raised may receive solution. The
poet is not unworthy of such pains. Regarded merely as the precursor
of Rabelais, Folengo deserves careful perusal. He was the creator of a
style, which, when we read his epic, forces us to think of the
seventeenth century; so strongly did it influence the form of humorous
burlesque in Europe for at least two hundred years. On this account,
the historian of modern literature cannot afford to neglect him. For
the student of Italian manners in Lombardy during the height of the
Renaissance, the huge amorphous undigested mass of the _Maccaronea_ is
one of the most valuable and instructive documents that we possess. I
do not hesitate, from this point of view, to rank it with the
masterpieces of the age, with the _Orlando_ of Ariosto, with
Machiavelli's comedies, and with the novels of Bandello.

[Footnote 444: This hypothesis receives support from the passage in
which Baldus compares his new love for Crispis, the paragon of all
virtues, with his old infatuation for Berta, who is the
personification of vulgar appetite, unrefined natural instinct. See
the end of Book xxiii.]

[Footnote 445: The rage of a man who knows that he has chosen the
lower while he might have trodden the higher paths of life and art,
flames out at intervals through this burlesque. Take this example, the
last five lines of Book xxiii.:

    Sic ego Macronicum penitus volo linquere carmen
    Cum mihi tempus erit, quod erit, si celsa voluntas
    Flectitur et nostris lachrymis et supplice voto.
    Heu heu! quod volui misero mihi? floribus Austrum
    Perditus et liquidis immisi fontibus aprum.]

Folengo used the maccaronic style in two other considerable
compositions. The one entitled _Moscheis_ is an elegant parody of the
_Batrachomyomachia_, relating the wars of ants and flies in elegiac
verse. The other, called _Zanitonella_, celebrates the rustic loves of
Zanina and Tonello in a long series of elegies, odes and eclogues.
This collection furnishes a complete epitome of parodies modeled on
the pastorals in vogue. The hero appears upon the scene in the
following _Sonolegia_, under which title we detect a blending of the
Sonnet and the Elegy:[446]

    Solus solettus stabam colegatus in umbra,
      Pascebamque meas virda per arva capras.
    Nulla travajabant animum pensiria nostrum,
      Cercabam quoniam tempus habere bonum.
    Quando bolzoniger puer, o mea corda forasti;
      Nec dedit in fallum dardus alhora tuus.
    Immo fracassasti rationis vincula, quæ tunc
      Circa coradam bastio fortis erat.

[Footnote 446: _Zanitonella_, p. 3.]

The lament is spun out to the orthodox length of fourteen verses, and
concludes with a pretty point. Who the _bolzoniger puer_ was, is more
openly revealed in another Sonolegia:[447]

    Nemo super terram mangiat mihi credite panem
      Seu contadinus, seu citadinus erit,
    Quem non attrapolet Veneris bastardulus iste,
      Qui volat instar avis, cæcus, et absque braga.

[Footnote 447: _Ibid._ p. 2. Compare Sonolegia xiii. _ib._ p. 40.]

To follow the poet through all his burlesques of Petrarchistic
and elegiac literature, Italian or Latin, would be superfluous.
It is enough to say that he leaves none of their accustomed themes
untouched with parody. The masterpiece of his art in this style is
the sixth Eclogue, consisting of a dialogue between two drunken
bumpkins--_interloquutores Tonellus et Pedralus, qui ambo

[Footnote 448: _Op. cit._ p. 42.]

The maccaronic style was a product of North Italy, cultivated by
writers of the Lombard towns, who versified comic or satiric subjects
in parodies of humanistic poetry. The branch of burlesque literature
we have next to examine, belonged to Tuscany, and took its origin from
the equivocal carnival and dance songs raised to the dignity of art by
Lorenzo de' Medici. Its conventional meter was _terza rima_, handled
with exquisite sense of rhythm, but degraded to low comedy by the
treatment of trivial or vulgar motives. The author of these
_Capitoli_, as they were called, chose some common object--a
paint-brush, salad, a sausage, peaches, figs, eels, radishes--to
celebrate; affected to be inspired by the grandeur of his subject;
developed the drollest tropes, metaphors and illustrations; and almost
invariably conveyed an obscene meaning under the form of innuendoes
appropriate to his professed theme. Though some exceptions can be
pointed out, the _Capitoli_ in general may be regarded as a species of
Priapic literature, fashioned to suit the taste of Florentines, who
had been accustomed for many generations to semi-disguised obscenity
in their vernacular town poetry.[449] Taken from the streets and
squares, adopted by the fashionable rhymsters of academies and courtly
coteries, the rude Fescennine verse lost none of its license, while it
assumed the polish of urbane art. Were it not for this antiquity and
popularity of origin, which suggests a plausible excuse for the
learned writers of _Capitoli_ and warns us to regard their indecency
as in some measure conventional, it would be difficult to approach the
three volumes which contain a selection of their poems, without
horror.[450] So deep, universal, unblushing is the vice revealed in

[Footnote 449: We may ascend to the very sources of popular Tuscan
poetry, and we shall find this literature of _double entendre_ in the
_Canzoni_ of the _Nicchio_ and _Ugellino_, noticed above, Part i. p.
38. Besides the _Canti Carnascialeschi_ edited by Il Lasca, we have a
collection of _Canzoni a Ballo_, printed at Florence in 1569, which
proves that the raw material of the _Capitoli_ lay ready to the hand
of the burlesque poets in plebeian literature.]

[Footnote 450: My references are made to _Opere Burlesche_, 3 vols.,
1723, with the names of Londra and Firenze. Gregorovius says of them:
"Wenn man diese 'scherzenden' Gedichte liest, muss man entweder über
die Nichtigkeit ihrer Gegenstände staunen, oder vor dem Abgrund der
Unsittlichkeit erschrecken, den sie frech entschleiern." _Stadt Rom._
vol. viii. p. 345.]

To Francesco Berni belongs the merit, such as it is, of having
invented the burlesque _Capitoli_. He gave his name to it, and the
term Bernesque has passed into the critical phraseology of Europe. The
unique place of this rare poet in the history of Italian literature,
will justify a somewhat lengthy account of his life and works.
Studying him, we study the ecclesiastical and literary society of Rome
in the age of Leo X. and Clement VII.

Francesco Berni was born at Lamporecchio, in the Val di Nievole,
about the end of the fifteenth century.[451] His parents were poor;
but they were connected with the family of the Cardinal Bibbiena, who,
after the boy's education at Florence, took him at the age of nineteen
to Rome. Upon the death of this patron in 1520, Berni remained in the
service of Bibbiena's nephew, Agnolo Dovizio. Receiving no advancement
from these kinsmen, he next transferred himself, in the quality of
secretary, to the household of Giammatteo Giberti, Bishop of Verona,
who was a distinguished Mecænas of literary men. This change involved
his taking orders. Berni now resided partly at Rome and partly at
Verona, tempering the irksome duties of his office by the writing of
humorous poetry, which he recited in the then celebrated Academy of
the Vignajuoli. This society, which numbered Molza, Mauro, La Casa,
Lelio Capilupi, Firenzuola, and Francesco Bini among its members, gave
the tone to polite literature at the Courts of Leo and Clement.

[Footnote 451: The probable date is 1496.]

Berni survived the sack of 1527, which proved so disastrous to Italian
scholars; but he lost everything he possessed.[452] Monsignor Giberti
employed him on various missions of minor importance, involving
journeys to Venice, Padua, Nice, Florence, and the Abruzzi. After
sixteen years of Court-life, Berni grew weary of the petty duties,
which must have been peculiarly odious to a man of his lazy
temperament, if it is true, as he informs us, that the Archbishop kept
him dancing attendance till daylight, while he played primiera with
his friends. Accordingly, he retired to Florence, where he held a
canonry in the cathedral. There, after a quiet life of literary ease,
he died suddenly in 1535. It was rumored that he had been poisoned:
and the most recent investigations into the circumstances of his death
tend rather to confirm this report. All that is known, however, for
certain, is that he spent the evening of May 25 with his friends the
Marchionesse di Massa in the Palazzo Pazzi, and that next morning he
breathed his last. His mysterious and unexplained decease was ascribed
to one of the two Medicean princes then resident in Florence. A sonnet
in Berni's best style, containing a vehement invective against
Alessandro de' Medici, is extant. The hatred expressed in this poem
may have occasioned the rumor (which certainly acquired a certain
degree of currency) that Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici attempted to use
the poet for the secret poisoning of his cousin, and on his refusal
had him murdered. Other accounts of the supposed assassination ascribe
a like intention to the Duke, who is said to have suggested the
poisoning of the Cardinal to Berni. Both stories agree in representing
his tragic end as the price paid for refusal to play the part of an
assassin. The matter remains obscure; but enough suspicion rests upon
the manner of his death to render this characteristic double legend
plausible; especially when we remember what the customs of Florence
with respect to poisoning were, and how the Cardinal de' Medici ended
his own life.[453]

[Footnote 452: _Orl. Inn. Rifatto da Fr. Berni_, i. 14, 23-28, makes
it clear that Berni was an eye-witness of the Sack of Rome. Panizzi's
reference to this passage (_Boiardo ed Ariosto_, London, 1830, vol.
ii. p. cxi.) involves what seems to me a confusion.]

[Footnote 453: The matter is fully discussed by Mazzuchelli in his
biography of Berni. He, relying on the hypothesis of Berni having
lived till 1536, if not till 1543, points out the impossibility of his
having been murdered by the Cardinal, who died himself in July, 1535.
This difficulty has recently been removed by Signor Antonio Virgili's
demonstration of the real date of Berni's death in May, 1535. See
_Rassegna Settimanale_, February 23, 1879, a paper of great importance
for students of Berni's life and works, to which I shall frequently

Such is the uneventful record of Berni's career. He was distinguished
among all the poets of the century for his genial vein of humor and
amiable personal qualities. That he was known to be stained with vices
which it is not easy to describe, but which he frankly acknowledged in
his poetical epistles, did not injure his reputation in that age of
mutual indulgence.[454] Willing to live and let live, with a
never-failing fund of drollery, and with a sincere dislike for work of
any sort, he lounged through existence, an agreeable, genial and witty
member of society. If this were all we should not need to write about
him now. But with this easy-going temperament he combined a genius for
poetry so peculiar and delicate, that his few works mark an epoch in
Italian literature.

[Footnote 454: It is enough to mention the _Capitoli_ "Delle Pesche,"
"A M. Antonio da Bibbiena," "Sopra un Garzone," "Lamentazion d'Amore."
References are made to the _Rime e Lettere di Fr. Berni_, Firenze,
Barbèra, 1865. For the _Rifacimento_ of the _Orlando Innamorato_ I
shall use the Milan reprint in 5 vols., 1806, which also contains the

The best description of Berni is contained in the burlesque portrait
of himself, which forms part of his _Boiardo Innamorato_.[455] This
has been so well translated by an English scholar, the late W.S. Rose,
that I cannot do better than refer the student to his stanzas. They
convey as accurate a notion of the Bernesque manner as can be derived
from any version in a foreign language.[456] The character he there
has given to himself for laziness is corroborated by his extant
epistles in prose. Berni represents himself as an incurably bad
correspondent, pleased to get letters, but overcome with mortal terror
when he is obliged to answer them.[457] He confides to his friend
Francesco Bini that the great affair in life is to be gay and to write
as little as possible:[458] "A vivere avemo sino alla morte a dispetto
di chi non vuole, e il vantaggio è vivere allegramente, come conforto
a far vio, attendando a frequentar quelli banchetti che si fanno per
Roma, e scrivendo sopra tutto manco che potete. _Quia hæc est
victoria, quæ vincit mundum._" The curse has been laid upon him of
having to drive his quill without ceasing:[459] "_O ego lævus_, che
scrivo d'ogni tempo, e scrivo ora che ho una gamba al collo, che ieri
tornando dalla Certosa mi ruppe la mia cavalla, cascandomivi sopra.
Sono pure un gran coglione!" So his pen runs on. The man writes just
as he spoke, without affectation, mixing his phrases of Latin with the
idiom of common life. The whole presents an agreeable contrast to the
stilted style of Bembo, La Casa's studied periods, and the ambitious
epistolary efforts of Aretino. Sometimes he breaks into doggrel:[460]
"S'io avessi l'ingenio del Burchiello, Io vi farei volentier un
sonetto, Che non ebbi giammai tema e subietto, Più dolce, più
piacevol, nè più bello." When his friends insist upon his writing to
them, rhyme comes to his aid, and he affects a comic fit of rage:[461]

    Perchè m'ammazzi con le tue querele,
    Priuli mio, perchè ti duole a torto,
    Che sai che t'amo più che l'orso il miele, etc.

[Footnote 455: Book III. canto vii. (canto 67 of the _Rifacimento_,
vol. iv. p. 266).]

[Footnote 456: This translation will be found in Panizzi's edition of
the _Orlando Innamorato_ (London, Pickering, 1830), vol. ii. p. cxiv.]

[Footnote 457: Letter vi. to Messer Giamb. Montebuona.]

[Footnote 458: Letter xvii.]

[Footnote 459: Letter xxiv.]

[Footnote 460: Letter to Ippolito de' Medici (ed. Milan, vol. v. p.

[Footnote 461: Letter ix.]

Importuned to publish the poems he recited with so much effect in
private circles, he at last consents because he cannot help it:[462]
"Compare, io non ho potuto tanto schermirmi che pure m'è bisognato dar
fuori questo benedetto Capitolo e Comento della Primiera; e siate
certo che l'ho fatto, non perchè mi consumassi d'andare in stampa, nè
per immortalarmi come il cavalier Casio, ma per fuggire la fatica mia,
e la malevolenza di molti che domandandomelo e non lo avendo mi
volevano mal di morte." Nor were these the ordinary excuses of an
author eager to conceal his vanity. The _Capitolo_ upon the game of
primiera was the only poem which appeared with his consent.[463] He
intended his burlesque verses for recitation, and is even said to have
preserved no copies of them, so that many of his compositions,
piratically published in his lifetime, were with difficulty restored
to a right text by Il Lasca in 1548. This indifference to public fame
did not imply any carelessness of style. Mazzuchelli, who had seen
some of his rough copies, asserts that they bore signs of the minutest
pains bestowed upon them. The melody of versification, richness of
allusion, refinement of phrase, equality and flowing smoothness,
which distinguish Berni's work from that of his imitators confirm the
belief that his _Capitoli_ and sonnets, in spite of their apparent
ease, were produced with the conscientious industry of a real artist.

[Footnote 462: Letter vii. Compare the sonnet "In nome di M.
Prinzivalle da Pontremoli" (ed. Milan, vol. v. p. 3).]

[Footnote 463: It was published at Rome by Calvo in 1526, with the
comment of M. Pietro Paolo da S. Chirico.]

Berni's theory of poetry revealed a common-sense and insight which
were no less rare than commendable in that age of artificial
literature. He refused to write at command, pleading that spontaneity
of inspiration is essential to art, and quoting Vida's dictum:

          Nec jussa canas, nisi forte coactus
    Magnorum imperio regum.

Notwithstanding his avoidance of publication and parsimony of
production, Berni won an almost unique reputation during his lifetime,
and after his death was worshiped as a saint by the lovers of
burlesque.[464] In one of his drollest sonnets he complains that poets
were wont to steal their neighbors' verses, but that he is compelled
to take the credit of more than he ever wrote:[465]

      A me quei d'altri son per forza dati,
    E dicon tu gli arai, vuoi o non vuoi.

[Footnote 464: Il Lasca prefixed a sonnet to his edition of 1548, in
which he speaks of "Il Berni nostro dabbene e gentile," calls him
"primo e vero trovatore, Maestro e padre del burlesco stile," says
that it is possible to envy but impossible to imitate him, and
compares him thus with Burchiello:

    Non sia chi mi ragioni di Burchiello,
      Che saria proprio come comparare
      Caron Dimonio all'Agnol Gabriello.

In another sonnet he climbs a further height of panegyric:

    Quanti mai fur poeti al mondo e sono,
      Volete in Greco, in Ebreo, o in Latino,
      A petto a lui non vagliono un lupino,
      Tant'è dotto, faceto, bello e buono:

and winds up with the strange assurance that:

              da lui si sente
    Anzi s'impara con gioja infinita
    Come viver si debbe in questa vita.]

[Footnote 465: Sonnet xxvii.]

A piece of comic prose or verse cannot appear but that it is at once
ascribed to him:

          E la gente faceta
    Mi vuole pure impiastrar di prose e carmi,
    Come s'io fussi di razza di marmi:
          Non posso ripararmi;
    Come si vede fuor qualche sonetto,
    Il Berni l'ha composto a suo dispetto.
          E fanvi su un guazzetto
    Di chiose e di sensi, che rinnieghi il cielo,
    Se Luter fa più stracci del Vangelo.

One of the glosses referred to in this _coda_, lies before me as I
write. It was composed by Gianmaria Cecchi on Berni's sonnet which
begins "Cancheri e beccafichi." The sonnet is an amusing imprecation
upon matrimony, written in one paragraph, and containing the sting of
the epigram in its short _coda_ of three lines.[466] But it did not
need a commentary, and Cecchi's voluminous annotations justify the
poet's comic anger.

[Footnote 466: Sonnet ix.]

Berni's _Capitoli_ may be broadly divided into three classes. The
first includes his poetical epistles, addressed to Fracastoro,
Sebastian del Piombo, Ippolito de' Medici, Marco Veneziano, and other
friends. Except for the peculiar humor, which elevates the trivial
accidents of life to comedy, except for the consummate style, which
dignifies the details of familiar correspondence and renders fugitive
effusions classical, these letters in verse would scarcely detach
themselves from a mass of similar compositions. As it is, Berni's
personality renders them worthy companions of Ariosto's masterpieces
in a similar but nicely differentiated branch of literature. It
remains for the amateurs of autobiographical poetry to choose between
the self-revelation of the philosophizing Ferrarese poet and the
brilliant trifling of the Florentine. The second class embraces a
number of occasional poems--the Complaint against Love, the Deluge in
Mugello, the Satire upon Adrian VI., the Lamentation of
Nardino--descriptive or sarcastic pieces, where the poet chooses a
theme and develops it with rhetorical abundance. The third class may
be regarded as the special source and fountain of the Bernesque
manner, as afterwards adopted and elaborated by Berni's imitators.
Omitting personal or occasional motives, he sings the praises of the
Plague, of Primiera, of Aristotle, of Peaches, of Debt, of Eels, of
the Urinal, of Thistles, and of other trifling subjects. Here his
burlesque genius takes the most fantastic flight, soaring to the ether
of absurdity and sinking to the nadir of obscenity, combining
heterogeneous elements of fun and farce, yet never transgressing the
limits of refined taste. These _Capitoli_ revealed a new vehicle of
artistic expression to his contemporaries. Penetrated with their
author's individuality, they caught the spirit of the age and met its
sense of humor. Consequently they became the touchstones of burlesque
inspiration, the models which tempted men of feebler force and more
uncertain tact to hopeless tasks of emulation. We still possess La
Casa's _Capitolo_ on the Oven; Molza's on Salad and the Fig;
Firenzuola's on the Sausage and the Legno Santo; Bronzino's on the
Paint-brush and the Radish; Aretino's on the Quartan Fever; Franzesi's
on Carrots and Chestnuts; Varchi's on Hard Eggs and Fennel; Mauro's
on Beans and Priapus; Dolce's on Spittle and Noses; Bini's on the _Mal
Franzese_; Lori's on Apples; Ruscelli's on the Spindle--not to speak
of many authors, the obscurity of whose names and the obscenity of the
themes they celebrated, condemn them to condign oblivion. Not without
reason did Gregorovius stigmatize these poems as a moral syphilis,
invading Italian literature and penetrating to the remotest fibers of
its organism. After their publication in academical circles and their
further diffusion through the press, simple terms which had been used
to cloak their improprieties, became the bywords of pornographic
pamphleteers and poets. Figs, beans, peaches, apples, chestnuts
acquired a new and scandalous significance. Sins secluded from the
light of day by a modest instinct of humanity, flaunted their
loathsomeness without shame beneath the ensigns of these literary
allegories. The corruption of society, hypocritically veiled or
cynically half-revealed in coteries, expressed itself too plainly
through the phraseology invented by a set of sensual poets. The most
distinguished members of society, Cardinals like Bembo, prelates like
La Casa, painters like Bronzino, critics like Varchi, scholars like
Molza, lent the prestige of their position and their talents to the
diffusion of this leprosy, which still remains the final most
convincing testimony to the demoralization of Italy in the

[Footnote 467: The scholars of the day were not content with writing
burlesque _Capitoli_. They must needs annotate them. See Caro's
Commentary on the _Ficheide_ of Molza (Romagnoli, _Scelta di Curiosità
Letterarie_, Dispensa vii. Bologna, 1862) for the most celebrated
example. There is not a sentence in this long and witty composition,
read before the Accademia delle Virtù, which does not contain a
grossly obscene allusion, scarcely a paragraph which does not refer to
an unmentionable vice.]

To what extent, it may be asked, was Berni responsible for these
consequences? He brought the indecencies of the piazza, where they
were the comparatively innocuous expression of coarse instincts, into
the close atmosphere of the study and the academical circle, refined
their vulgarisms, and made their viciousness attractive by the charm
of his incomparable style. This transition from the _Canto
Carnascialesco_ to the _Capitolo_ may be observed in Berni's _Caccia
di Amore_, a very licentious poem dedicated to "noble and gentle
ladies." It is a Carnival Song or _Canzone a Ballo_ rewritten in
octave stanzas of roseate fluency and seductive softness. A band of
youthful huntsmen pay their court in it to women, and the _double
entendre_ exactly reproduces the style of innuendo rendered
fashionable by Lorenzo de' Medici. Yet, though Berni is unquestionably
answerable for the obscene _Capitoli_ of the sixteenth century, it
must not be forgotten that he only gave form to material already
sufficiently appropriated by the literary classes. With him, the
grossness which formed the staple of Mauro's, Molza's, Bini's, La
Casa's and Bronzino's poems, the depravities of appetite which
poisoned the very substance of their compositions, were but
accidental. The poet stood above them and in some measure aloof from
them, employing these ingredients in the concoction of his burlesque,
but never losing the main object of his art in their development. A
bizarre literary effect, rather than the indulgence of a sensual
imagination, was the aim he had in view. Therefore, while we regret
that his example gave occasion to coarser debaucheries of talent, we
are bound to acknowledge that the jests to which he condescended, do
not represent his most essential self. This, however, is but a feeble
apology. That without the excuse of passion, without satirical motive
or overmastering personal proclivity, he should have penned the
_Capitolo a M. Antonio da Bibbiena_, and have joked about giving and
taking his metaphorical peaches, remains an ineradicable blot upon his

[Footnote 468: The six opening lines of the _Lamentazion d'Amore_
prevent our regarding Berni's jests as wholly separate from his
experience and practice.]

The Bernesque _Capitoli_ were invariably written in _terza rima_,
which at this epoch became the recognized meter of epistolary,
satirical, and dissertational poetry throughout Italy.[469] Thus the
rhythm of the Divine Comedy received final development by lending
itself to the expression of whims, fancies, personal invectives and
scurrilities. To quote from Berni's masterpieces in this style would
be impossible. Each poem of about one hundred lines is a perfect and
connected unity, which admits of no mutilation by the detachment of
separate passages. Still readers may be referred to the _Capitolo a
Fracastoro_ and the two _Capitoli della Peste_ as representative of
the poet's humor in its purest form, without the moral deformities of
the still more celebrated _Pesche_ or the uncleanliness of the

[Footnote 469: A familiar illustration is Cellini's _Capitolo del
Carcere_. Curious examples of these occasional poems, written for the
popular taste, are furnished by Mutinelli in his _Annali Urbani di
Venezia_. See above, Part i. pp. 172, 519, for the vicissitudes of
_terza rima_ after the close of the fourteenth century.]

At the close of the _Capitolo_ written on the occasion of Adrian VI.'s
election to the Papacy, Berni declared that it had never been his
custom to speak ill of people:

    L'usanza mia non fu mai di dir male;
      E che sia il ver, leggi le cose mie,
      Leggi l'Anguille, leggi l'Orinale,
    Le Pesche, i Cardi e l'altre fantasie:
      Tutte sono inni, salmi, laudi ed ode.

We have reason to believe this declaration. Genial good humor is a
characteristic note of his literary temperament. At the same time he
was no mean master of caricature and epigram. The _Capitolo_ in
question is a sustained tirade against the Fleming, who had come to
break the peace of polished Rome--a shriek of angry lamentation over
altered times, intolerable insults, odious innovations. The amazement
and discomfiture of the poet, contrasted with his burlesque utterance,
render this composition comic in a double sense. Its satire cuts both
ways, against the author and the object of his rage. Yet when Adrian
gave place to Giulio de' Medici, and Berni discovered what kind of a
man the new Pope was, he vented nobler scorn in verse of far more
pungent criticism. His sonnet on Clement is remarkable for exactly
expressing the verdict posterity has formed after cool and mature
inquiry into this Pope's actions. Clement's weakness and irresolution
must end, the poet says, by making even Adrian seem a saint:[470]

    Un Papato composto di rispetti,
      Di considerazioni e di discorsi,
      Di più, di poi, di ma, di sì, di forsi,
      Di pur, di assai parole senza effetti;
    Di pensier, di consigli, di concetti,
      Di congetture magre per apporsi
      D'intrattenerti, purchè non si sborsi,
      Con audienze, risposte, e bei detti:
    Di piè di piombo e di neutralità,
      Di pazienza, di dimostrazione,
      Di Fede, di Speranza e Carità,
    D'innocenza, di buona intenzione;
      Ch'è quasi come dir, semplicità.
      Per non le dare altra interpretazione,
            Sia con sopportazione,
    Lo dirò pur, vedrete che pian piano
    Farà canonizzar Papa Adriano.

[Footnote 470:

    A Papacy composed of compliment,
      Debate, consideration, complaisance,
      Of furthermore, then, but, yes, well, perchance,
      Haply, and such-like terms inconsequent;
    Of thought, conjecture, counsel, argument,
      Starveling surmise to summon countenance,
      Negotiations, audiences, romance,
      Fine words and shifts, disbursement to prevent;
    Of feet of lead, of tame neutrality,
      Of patience and parade to outer view.
      Of fawning Faith, of Hope and Charity,
    Of Innocence and good intentions too,
      Which it were well to dub simplicity,
      Uglier interpretations to eschew;
            With your permission, you,
    To speak the plain truth out, shall live to see
    Pope Adrian sainted through this Papacy.]

The insight into Clement's character displayed in this sonnet, the
invective against Adrian, and the acerbity of another sonnet against
Alessandro de' Medici:

    Empio Signor, che de la roba altrui
      Lieto ti vai godendo, e del sudore:

would gain in cogency, could we attach more value to the manliness of
Berni's utterances. But when we know that, while he was showering
curses on the Duke of Cività di Penna, he frequented the Medicean
Court and wrote a humorous _Capitolo_ upon Gradasso, a dwarf of
Cardinal Ippolito, we feel forced to place these epigrammatic
effusions among the ebullitions of personal rather than political
animosity. There was nothing of the patriot in Berni, not even so much
as in Machiavelli, who himself avowed his readiness to roll stones for
the Signori Medici.

As a satirist, Berni appears to better advantage in his caricatures of
private or domestic personages. The portrait of his housekeeper, who
combined in her single person all the antiquities of all the viragos
of romance:

    Io ho per cameriera mia l'Ancroja
      Madre di Ferraù, zia di Morgante,
      Arcavola maggior dell'Amostante,
      Balia del Turco e suocera del Boja:

Alcionio upon his mule:

    Quella che per soperchio digiunare
      Tra l'anime celesti benedette
      Come un corpo diafano traspare:

Ser Cecco who could never be severed from the Court, nor the Court
from Ser Cecco:

    Perch'ambedue son la Corte e ser Cecco:

the pompous doctor:

          l'ambasciador del Boja,
    Un medico, maestro Guazzaletto:

Domenico d'Ancona, the memory of whose beard, shorn by some Vandal of
a barber, draws tears from every sympathetic soul:

    Or hai dato, barbier, l'ultimo crollo
      Ad una barba la più singolare
      Che mai fosse descritta in verso o 'n prosa:

these form a gallery of comic likenesses, drawn from the life and
communicated with the force of reality to the reader. Each is perfect
in style, clearly cut like some antique chalcedony, bringing the
object of the poet's mirth before us with the exact measure of
ridicule he sought to inflict.[471]

[Footnote 471: Sonnets xi. xvi. xiv. iii. xx. The same vivid
picturesqueness is displayed in the desecrated Abbey (Sonnet xvii.),
which deserves to be called an etching in words.]

This satiric power culminates in the sonnet on Pietro Aretino.[472]
The tartness of Berni's more good-humored pasquinades is concentrated
to vitriol by unadulterated loathing. He flings this biting acid in
the face of one whom he has found a scoundrel. The sonnet starts at
the white heat of fury:

    Tu ne dirai e farai tante e tante,
      Lingua fracida, marcia, senza sale.

[Footnote 472: Sonnet xix. In the _Capitolo_ to Ippolito de' Medici,
Berni thus alludes to Aretino:

    Com'ha fatto non so chi mio vicino,
      Che veste d'oro, e più non degna il panno,
      E dassi del messere e del divino.]

It proceeds with execration; and when the required fourteen lines have
been terminated, it foams over into rage more voluble and still more
voluble, unwinding the folds of an interminable _Coda_ with
ever-increasing _crescendo_ of vituperation, as though the passion of
the writer could not be appeased. The whole has to be read at one
breath. No quotation can render a conception of its rhetorical art.
Every word strikes home because every word contains a truth expressed
in language of malignant undiluted heartfelt hate. That most difficult
of literary triumphs, to render abuse sublime, to sustain a single
note of fierce invective without relaxing or weakening the several
grades that lead to the catastrophe, has been accomplished. This
achievement is no doubt due in some measure to the exact
correspondence between what we know of Pietro Aretino and what Berni
has written of him. Yet its blunt fidelity to fact does not detract
from the skill displayed in the handling of those triple series of
rhymes, each one of which descends like a lash upon the writhing back

          Ch'ormai ogni paese
    Hai ammorbato, ogn'uom, ogn'animale,
    Il ciel e Dio e 'l diavol ti vuol male.
          Quelle veste ducale,
    O ducali accattate e furfantate,
    Che ti piangono addosso sventurate,
          A suon di bastonate
    Ti saran tratte, prima che tu muoja,
    Dal reverendo padre messer boja,
          Che l'anima di noja,
    Mediante un capestro, caveratti,
    E per maggior favore squarteratti;
          E quei tuoi leccapiatti,
    Bardassonacci, paggi da taverna,
    Ti canteranno il requiem eterna.
          Or vivi e ti governa,
    Bench'un pugnale, un cesso, overo un nodo
    Ti faranno star cheto in ogni modo.

From this conclusion the rest may be divined. Berni paid dearly for
the satisfaction of thus venting his spleen. Aretino had found more
than his match. Though himself a master in the art of throwing dirt,
he could not, like Berni, sling his missiles with the certainty of
gaining for himself by the same act an immortality of glory. This
privilege is reserved for the genius of style, and style alone.
Therefore he had to shrink in silence under Berni's scourge. But
Aretino was not the man to forego revenge if only an opportunity for
inflicting injury upon his antagonist, full and effectual, and without
peril to himself, was offered. The occasion came after Berni's death;
and how he availed himself of it, will appear in the next paragraphs.

Though the _Capitoli_ and sonnets won for their author the high place
he occupies among Italian poets, Berni is also famous for his
_rifacimento_ or remodeling of the _Orlando Innamorato_. He undertook
this task after the publication of the _Furioso_; and though part was
written at Verona, we know from references to contemporary events
contained in the _rifacimento_, that Berni was at work upon it in the
last years of his life at Florence. It was not published until some
time after his death. Berni subjected the whole of Boiardo's poem to
minute revision, eliminating obsolete words and Lombard phrases,
polishing the verse, and softening the roughness of the elder poet's
style. He omitted a few passages, introduced digressions, connected
the episodes by links and references, and opened each canto with a
dissertation in the manner of Ariosto. Opinions may vary as to the
value of the changes wrought by Berni. But there can be no doubt that
his work was executed with artistic accuracy, and that his purpose was
a right one. He aimed at nothing less than rendering a noble poem
adequate to the measure of literary excellence attained by the
Italians since Boiardo's death. The _Innamorato_ was to be made worthy
of the _Furioso_. The nation was to possess a continuous epic of
Orlando, complete in all its parts and uniformly pure in style. Had
Berni lived to see his own work through the press, it is probable
that this result would have been attained. As it happened, the
malignity of fortune or the malice of a concealed enemy defeated his
intention. We only possess a deformed version of his _rifacimento_.
The history, or rather the tragedy, of its publication involves some
complicated questions of conjecture. Yet the side-lights thrown upon
the conditions of literature at that time in Italy, as well as on the
mystery of Berni's death, are sufficiently interesting to justify the
requisite expenditure of space and time.

The _rifacimento_ appeared in a mutilated form at Venice in 1541, from
the press of the Giunti, and again in 1542 at Milan from that of
Francesco Calvo. These two issues are identical, except in the title
and tail pages. The same batch of sheets was in fact divided by the
two publishers. In 1545 another issue, called _Edizione Seconda_, saw
the light at Venice, in which Giunta introduced a very significant
note, pointing out that certain stanzas were not the work of "M.
Francesco Berni, but of one who presumptuously willed to do him so
great an injury."[473] This edition, differing in many respects from
those of 1541 and 1542, was on the whole an improvement. It would seem
that the publishers, in the interval between 1541 and 1545, regretted
that Berni's copy had been tampered with, and did their best, in the
absence of the original, to restore a correct text. Still, as Giunta
acknowledged, the _rifacimento_ had been irretrievably damaged by some
private foe.[474] The introductory dedication to Isabella Gonzaga,
where we might have expected an allusion to Boiardo, is certainly not
Berni's; and the two lines,

    Nè ti sdegnar veder quel ch'altri volse
    Forse a te dedicar, ma morte il tolse,

must be understood to refer to Berni's and not to Boiardo's death.
Comparison of the two editions makes it, moreover, clear that Berni's
MS. had been garbled, and the autograph probably put out of the way
before the publication of the poem.

[Footnote 473: "Di chi presuntuosamente gli ha voluto fare tanta
ingiuria." This note occurs at Stanza 83 of Canto 1.]

[Footnote 474: In some cases the readings of the second edition are
inferior to those of the first, while both fall short of Boiardo.
Boiardo wrote in his description of Astolfo (Canto i. 60):

    Quel solea dir, ch'egli era per sciagura,
    E tornava a cader senza paura.

In the _rifacimento_ of 1541 we have:

    E alle volte cadeva per sciagura,
    E si levava poi senza paura.

In that of 1545:

    Un sol dispetto avea: dice Turpino
    Che nel cader alquanto era latino.

I take these instances from Panizzi.]

Who is to be held responsible for this fraud? Who was the presumptuous
enemy who did such injury to Berni? Panizzi, so far back as 1830,
pointed out that Giovanni Alberto Albicante took some part in
preparing the edition of 1541-2. This man prefixed sonnets written by
himself to the _rifacimento_; "whence we might conclude that he was
the editor."[475] Signor Virgili, to whose researches attention has
already been directed, proved further by references to Pietro
Aretino's correspondence that this old enemy of Berni had a hand in
the same work. Writing to Francesco Calvo from Venice on February 16,
1540, Aretino approaches the subject of the _rifacimento_ in these
words:[476] "Our friend Albicante informs me, with reference to the
printing of _Orlando_ defamed by Berni, that you are good enough to
meet my wishes, for which I thank you.... You will see that, for the
sake of your own modesty, you are bound either not to issue the book
at all, or else to purge it of all evil-speaking." He then states that
it had been his own intention "to emend the Count of Scandiano's
_Innamoramento_, a thing in its kind of heroic beauty, but executed in
a trivial style, and expressed with phrases at once plebeian and
obsolete." This task he renounced upon reflection that it would bring
him no fame to assume the mask of a dead man's labors. In another
letter to the same Calvo, dated February 17, 1542, Aretino resumes the
subject. Sbernia (so he chooses to call Berni) has been "overwhelmed
beneath the ruins he pulled down upon himself by his undoing of the
_Innamoramento_."[477] Now, it is certain that the ruin proclaimed by
Aretino did really fall on Berni's labors. In 1545 Lodovico Domenichi
published a second _rifacimento_, far inferior in style to that of
Berni, and executed with the slovenliness of a literary hack. But this
was several times reprinted, whereas Berni's remained neglected on the
shelves of the librarians until the year 1725, when it was
republished and welcomed with a storm of exaggerated enthusiasm.

[Footnote 475: _Boiardo ed Ariosto_, vol. ii. p. cxxxiv.]

[Footnote 476: _Lettere_, Book ii. p. 121.]

[Footnote 477: _Ibid._ p. 249. We might quote a parallel passage from
the Prologue to the _Ipocrita_, which Aretino published in 1542, just
after accomplishing his revenge on Berni: "Io non ho pensato al
gastigo che io darei a quegli che pongono il lor nome nei libri che
essi guastano nella foggia che un non so chi ha guasto il Boiardo, per
non mi credere che si trovasse cotanta temerità nella presunzione del
mondo." The hypocrisy of this is worthy of the play's title.]

We have therefore reached this conclusion, that Aretino, aided by
Albicante, both of them notable literary brigands, contrived to send a
mutilated version of the _rifacimento_ to press, with a view of doing
irreparable mischief to Berni's reputation.[478] We have also seen
that there was something dangerous in Berni's work, described by
Aretino as _maldicentia_, which he held as a threat over the Milanese
publisher. Lastly, Giunta recognized too late that he had made himself
the party to some act of malice by issuing a garbled copy. Aretino
had, we know, a private grudge to satisfy. He could not forget the
castigation he received at Berni's hands, in the sonnet which has been
already described. The hatred subsisting between the two men had been
further exasperated by the different parts they took in a literary
duel. Antonio Broccardo, a young Venetian scholar, attacked Pietro
Bembo's fame at Padua in 1530, and attempted to raise allies against
the great dictator. Aretino took up the cudgels for Bembo, and
assailed Broccardo with vehement abuse and calumny. Berni ranged
himself upon Broccardo's side. The quarrel ended in Broccardo's death
under suspicious circumstances in 1531 at Padua. He was, indeed, said
to have been killed by Aretino.[479] Berni died mysteriously at
Florence four years later, and Aretino caused his _rifacimento_,
"purged of evil-speaking," to be simultaneously published at Venice
and Milan.

[Footnote 478: Mazzuchelli (_Scrittori d'Italia_: Albicante, Giov.
Alberto) may be consulted about the relations between these two
ruffians, who alternately praised and abused each other in print.]

[Footnote 479: See Mazzuchelli, _op. cit._, under "Brocardo, Antonio."
The spelling of the name varies. Bembo, six years afterwards, told
Varchi that Aretino drove Broccardo for him into an early grave. See
_Lettere all'Aretino_, vol. ii. p. 186, ed. Romagnoli. The probability
is that Broccardo died of fever aggravated by the annoyance caused him
by Aretino's calumnies. There is no valid suspicion of poison.]

The question still remains to be asked how Aretino, Berni's avowed
enemy, obtained possession of the MS. Berni had many literary friends.
Yet none of them came forward to avert the catastrophe. None of them
undertook the publication of his remains. His last work was produced,
not at Florence, where he lived and died, but at Venice; and
Albicante, Aretino's tool, was editor. In the present state of our
knowledge it is impossible to answer this question authoritatively.
Considerable light, however, is thrown upon the mystery by a pamphlet
published in 1554 by the heretic Vergerio. He states that Berni
undertook his _rifacimento_ with the view of diffusing Protestant
doctrines in a popular and unobtrusive form; but that the craft of the
devil, or in other words the policy of the Church, effected its
suppression at the very moment when it was finished and all but
printed.[480] Here, then, we seem to find some missing links in the
dark chain of intrigue. Aretino's phrase _maldicentia_ is explained;
his menace to Francesco Calvo becomes intelligible; the silence of
Berni's friends can be accounted for; and the agency by which the MS.
was placed in Albicante's hands, can be at least conjectured. As a
specimen of Berni's Lutheran propaganda, Vergerio subjoins eighteen
stanzas, written in the poet's purest style, which were addressed to
Battista Sanga, and which formed the induction to the twentieth Canto.
This induction, as it stands in Berni's _Innamorato_, is reduced to
seven stanzas, grossly garbled and deformed in diction. Very few of
the original lines have been retained, and those substituted are full
of vulgarisms.[481] From a comparison of the original supplied by
Vergerio with the mutilated version, the full measure of the mischief
practiced upon Berni's posthumous work can be gauged. Furthermore, it
must be noticed that these compromising eighteen stanzas contained the
names of several men alive in Italy, all of whom were therefore
interested in their suppression, or precluded from exposing the fraud.

[Footnote 480: This curious pamphlet was reprinted from a unique copy
by Panizzi, _op. cit._ vol. iii. p. 361. In the introduction, Vergerio
gives an interesting account of Berni. He represents him as a man of
worldly life, addicted to gross pleasures and indecent literature
until within a few years of his death. Having been converted to
evangelical faith in Christ, Berni then resolved to use the _Orlando_
as a vehicle for Lutheran opinions; and his _rifacimento_ was already
almost printed, when the devil found means to suppress it. Vergerio is
emphatic in his statement that the poem was finished and nearly
printed. If this was indeed the case, we must suppose that Albicante
worked upon the sheets, canceling some and leaving others, and that
the book thus treated was afterwards shared by Giunta and Calvo.]

[Footnote 481: I shall print a translation of the eighteen stanzas in
an Appendix to this volume. Lines like the following,

    Arrandellarsi come un salsicciuolo,

which are common in the mangled version, would never have passed
Berni's censure.]

The inference I am inclined to draw from Signor Virgili's researches,
combined with Vergerio's pamphlet, is that the Church interfered to
prevent the publication of Berni's heretical additions to Boiardo's
poem. Berni's sudden death, throwing his affairs into confusion at the
moment when he was upon the point of finishing the business, afforded
an excellent occasion to his ecclesiastical and personal opponents,
who seem to have put some pressure on his kinsmen to obtain the MS.
or the sheets they meant to mutilate.[482] The obnoxious passages may
have been denounced by Aretino; for we know that he was intimate with
Vergerio, and it is more than probable that the verses to Sanga were
already in circulation.[483] Aretino, strange to say, was regarded in
clerical quarters as a pillar of the Church. He therefore found it in
his power to wreak his vengeance on an enemy at the same time that he
posed as a defender of the faith. That he was allowed to control the
publication, appears from his letters to Calvo; and he confided the
literary part of the business to Albicante. His threats to Calvo have
reference to Berni's heresy, and the _maldicentia_ may possibly have
been the eighteen stanzas addressed to Sanga. The terror of the
Inquisition reduced Berni's friends to silence. Aretino, even if he
had not denounced Berni to the Church, had now identified himself with
the crusade against his poem, and he was capable of ruining opponents
in this unequal contest by charges they would have found it impossible
to refute. The eighteen stanzas were addressed to a secretary of
Clement VII.; and men of note like Molza, Flamminio, Navagero,
Fondulo, Fregoso, were distinctly named in them. If, then, there is
any cogency in the conclusions I have drawn from various sources,
Berni's poem, and perhaps his life, was sacrificed to theological
hatred in combination with Aretino's personal malice. The
unaccountable inactivity of his friends is explained by their dread of
being entangled in a charge of heresy.[484]

[Footnote 482: This appears from a reference in Aretino's second
letter to Calvo, where he talks of Berni's "friends and relatives." It
might be going too far to suggest that Berni was murdered by his
ecclesiastical enemies, who feared the scandal which would be caused
by the publication of his opinions.]

[Footnote 483: Vergerio may have communicated the eighteen stanzas to
Aretino; or conversely he may have received them from him. I have read
through the letters exchanged between him and Aretino--and they are
numerous--without, however, finding any passage that throws light on
this transaction. Aretino published both series of letters. He had
therefore opportunity to suppress inconvenient allusions.]

[Footnote 484: We may note the dates and fates of the chief actors in
this tragedy. Broccardo died of grief in 1531. Berni died, under
suspicion of poison, in 1535. Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici was
poisoned a few months later, in 1535. Alessandro de' Medici was
murdered by Lorenzino in 1537. Pietro Paolo Vergerio was deprived of
his see and accused of heresy in 1544. Berni's old friend, the author
of _Il Forno_, M. La Casa, conducted his trial, as Papal Nuncio at
Venice. Aretino, who had assumed the part of inquisitor and mutilator
to gratify his private spite, survived triumphant.]

Enough has been already said about Berni's imitators in the burlesque
style. Of satire in the strict sense of the term, the poets of the
sixteenth century produced nothing that is worth consideration. The
epistolary form introduced by Ariosto, and the comic caprices rendered
fashionable by Berni, determined the compositions of Pietro Aretino,
of Ercole Bentivoglio, of Luigi Alamanni, of Antonio Vinciguerra, of
Giovanni Andrea dell'Anguillara, of Cesare Caporali, and of the minor
versifiers whose occasional poems in _terza rima_, seasoned with more
or less satirical intention, are usually reckoned among the satires of
the golden age.[485] Personal vituperation poured forth in the heat of
literary quarrels, scarcely deserves the name of satire. Else it might
be necessary in this place to mention Niccolò Franco's sonnets on
Pietro Aretino, or the far more elegant compositions of Annibale Caro
directed against his enemy Castelvetro.[486] Models for this species
of poetical abuse had been already furnished by the sonnets exchanged
between Luigi Pulci and Matteo Franco in a more masculine age of
Italian literature.[487] It is not, however, incumbent upon the
historian to resuscitate the memory of those forgotten and now
unimportant duels. The present allusion to them may suffice to
corroborate the opinion already stated that, while the Italians of the
Renaissance were ingenious in burlesque, and virulent in personal
invective, they lacked the earnestness of moral conviction, the
indignation, and the philosophic force that generate real satire.

[Footnote 485: See the _Raccolta di Poesie Satiriche_, Milano, 1808.]

[Footnote 486: See, for the latter series, _Poesie Satiriche_, pp.

[Footnote 487: See _Sonetti di Matteo Franco e di Luigi Pulci_, 1759.
Cp. above, Part i. p. 431.]



     Aretino's Place in Italian Literature and Society--His Birth
     and Boyhood--Goes to Rome--In the Service of Agostino
     Chigi--At Mantua--Gradual Emergence into Celebrity--The
     Incident of Giulio Romano's Postures--Giovanni delle Bande
     Nere--Aretino settles at Venice--The Mystery of his
     Influence--Discerns the Power of the Press--Satire on the
     Courts--Magnificent Life--Aretino's Wealth--His Tributary
     Princes--Bullying and Flattery--The Divine Aretino--His
     Letter to Vittoria Colonna--To Michelangelo--His Admiration
     of Artists--Relations with Men of Letters--Epistle to
     Bernardo Tasso--His Lack of Learning--Disengagement from
     Puristic Prejudices--Belief in his own Powers--Rapidity of
     Composition--His Style--Originality and
     Independence--Prologue to _Talanta_--Bohemian
     Comrades--Niccolò Franco--Quarrel with Doni--Aretino's
     Literary Influence--His Death--The Anomaly of the
     Renaissance--Estimate of Aretino's Character.

Pietro Aretino, as I have already had occasion to observe, is a
representative name in the history of Italian literature. It is almost
as impossible to slur him over with a passing notice as it would be to
dwell but casually upon Machiavelli or Ariosto, Cellini or Poliziano,
in reviewing the Renaissance. Base in character, coarse in mental
fiber, unworthy to rank among real artists, notwithstanding his
undoubted genius, Aretino was the typical ruffian of an age which
brought ruffianism to perfection, welcomed it when successful, bowed
to its insolence, and viewed it with complacent toleration in the
highest places of Church, State, and letters. He was the _condottiere_
of the pen in a society which truckled to the Borgias. He embodied
the infamy and cowardice which lurked beneath the braveries of Italian
Court-life--the coarseness of speech which contradicted literary
purism--the cynicism and gross strength of appetite for which
convention was a flimsy veil.[488] The man himself incarnated the
dissolution of Italian culture. His works, for the student of that
period, are an anti-mask to the brilliant display of Ariosto's or of
Tasso's puppets. It is the condemnation of Italy that we are forced to
give this prominence to Aretino. If we place Poliziano or
Guicciardini, Bembo or La Casa, Bandello or Firenzuola, Cellini or
Berni, Paolo Giovio or Lodovico Dolce--typical men of letters chosen
from the poets, journalists, historians, thinkers, artists,
novel-writers of the age--under the critical microscope, we find in
each and all of them a tincture of Aretino. It is because he
emphasizes and brings into relief one master element of the
Renaissance, that he deserves the rank assigned to him. In Athens
Aristophanes is named together with Sophocles, Thucydides and Plato,
because, with genius equal to theirs, he represented the comic
antithesis to tragedy, philosophy and history. In Italy Aretino is
classed with Machiavelli and Ariosto for a different reason. His lower
nature expressed, not an antithesis, but a quality, which, in spite of
intellectual and moral superiority, they possessed in common with
him, which he exhibited in arrogant abundance, and which cannot be
omitted from the survey of his century. The alloy of cynicism in
Machiavelli, his sordid private pleasures, his perverse admiration for
Cesare Borgia, his failure to recognize the power of goodness in the
world, condemn him to the company of this triumvir. The profligacy of
genius in Ariosto, his waste of divine gifts upon trifles, his lack of
noble sentiment, his easy acquiescence in conditions of society
against which he should have uttered powerful protest, consign him,
however undeservedly, to the same association.[489]

[Footnote 488: The best source of information regarding Pietro Aretino
is his own correspondence published in six volumes (Paris, 1609), and
the two volumes of letters written to him by eminent personages, which
are indeed a rich mine of details regarding Italian society and
manners in the sixteenth century. Mazzuchelli's _Vita di Pietro
Aretino_ (Padua, 1741) is a conscientious, sober, and laborious piece
of work, on which all subsequent notices have been based.]

[Footnote 489: It may be mentioned that Ariosto has immortalized this
bully in the _Orlando_ (xlvi. 14), among the most illustrious men and
women of his age:

                  ecco il flagello
    De' principi, il divin Pietro Aretino.]

Pietro was born at Arezzo in 1492. His reputed father was a nobleman
of that city, named Luigi Bacci. His mother, Tita, was a woman of the
town, whose portrait, painted as the Virgin of the Annunciation,
adorned the church-door of S. Pietro. The boy, "born," as he
afterwards boasted, "in a hospital with the spirit of a king," passed
his childhood at Arezzo with his mother. He had no education but what
he may have picked up among the men who frequented Tita's house, or
the artists who employed her as a model. Of Greek and Latin he learned
nothing either now or afterwards. Before growing to man's estate, he
had to quit his native city--according to one account because he
composed and uttered a ribald sonnet on indulgences, according to
another because he robbed his mother. He escaped to Perugia, and
gained his livelihood by binding books. Here he made acquaintance with
Firenzuola, as appears from a letter of the year 1541, in which he
alludes to their youthful pranks together at the University. One of
Aretino's exploits at Perugia became famous. "Having noticed in a
place of much resort upon the public square a picture, in which the
Magdalen was represented at the feet of Christ, with extended arms and
in an attitude of passionate grief, he went privily and painted in a
lute between her hands." From Perugia he trudged on foot to Rome, and
entered the service of Agostino Chigi, under whose patronage he made
himself useful to the Medici, remaining in the retinue of both Leo X.
and Clement VII. between 1517 and 1524. This period of seven years
formed the man's character; and it would be interesting to know for
certain what his employment was. Judging by the graphic descriptions
he has left us of the Roman Court in his comedy of the _Cortigiana_
and his dialogue _De le Corti_, and also by his humble condition in
Perugia, we have reason to believe that he occupied at first the post
of lackey, rising gradually by flattery and baser arts to the position
of a confidential domestic, half favorite, half servant.[490] That he
possessed extraordinary social qualities, and knew how to render
himself agreeable by witty conversation and boon companionship, is
obvious from the whole course of his subsequent history. It is no less
certain that he allowed neither honor nor self-respect to interfere
with his advancement by means which cannot be described in detail, but
which opened the readiest way to favor in that profligate society of
Rome. His own enormous appetite for sensual enjoyment, his cynicism,
and his familiarity with low life in all its forms, rendered him the
congenial associate of a great man's secret pleasures, the convenient
link of communication between the palace and the stews.[491]

[Footnote 490: Aretino's comedies, letters, and occasional poems are
our best sources for acquaintance with the actual conditions of
palace-life. The _Dialogo de le Corti_ opens with a truly terrible
description of the debauchery and degradation to which a youth was
exposed on his first entrance into the service of a Roman noble. It
may have been drawn from the author's own experience. The nauseous
picture of the _tinello_, or upper-servants' hall, which occurs in the
comedy _Cortigiana_ (act v. sc. 15), proves intimate familiarity with
the most revolting details of domestic drudgery. The dirt of these
places made an ineffaceable impression on Aretino's memory. In his
burlesque _Orlandino_, when he wishes to call up a disgusting image,
he writes:

    Odorava la sala come odora
      Un gran tinel d'un Monsignor Francese,
      O come quel d'un Cardinal ancora
      Quando Febo riscalda un bestial mese.]

[Footnote 491: Aretino's correspondence and the comedy above mentioned
throw sufficient light upon these features of Roman society. It will,
for the rest, suffice to quote a passage from Monsignore Guidiccioni's
letter to Giambattista Bernardi (_Opere di M. Giov. Guidiccioni_,
Barbèra, 1867, vol. i. p. 195): "Non solamente _da questi illustri per
ricchezze_ non si può avere, ma non si puote ancora sperare premio che
sia di lunghe fatiche o di rischio di morte, se _l'uomo non si rivolge
ad acquistarlo per vie disoneste_. Perciocchè essi non carezzano e non
esaltano se non adulatori, e _quelli che sanno per alfabeto le
abitazioni, le pratiche e le qualità delle cortigiane_." The whole
letter should be read by those who would understand Roman society of
the Renaissance. The italics are mine.]

Yet though Pietro resided at this time principally in Rome, he had by
no means a fixed occupation, and his life was interrupted by frequent
wanderings. He is said to have left Agostino Chigi's service, because
he stole a silver cup. He is also said to have taken the cowl in a
Capuchin convent at Ravenna, and to have thrown his frock to the
nettles on the occasion of Leo's election to the Papacy. We hear of
him parading in the Courts of Lombardy, always on the lookout for
patronage, supporting himself by what means is unapparent, but
gradually pushing his way to fame and fashion, loudly asserting his
own claims to notice, and boasting of each new favor he received. Here
is a characteristic glimpse into his nomadic mode of life:[492] "I am
now in Mantua with the Marquis, and am held by him in so high favor
that he leaves off sleeping and eating to converse with me, and says
he has no other pleasure in life; and he has written to the Cardinal
about me things that will not fail to help me greatly to my credit. I
have also received a present of 300 crowns. He has assigned to me the
very same apartment which Francesco Maria, Duke of Urbino, occupied
when he was in exile; and has appointed a steward to preside over my
table, where I always have some noblemen of rank. In a word, more
could not be done for the entertainment of the greatest prince.
Besides, the whole Court worships me. Happy are they who can boast of
having got a verse from me. My lord has had all the poems ever writ by
me copied, and I have made some in his praise. So I pass my life here,
and every day get some gift, grand things which you shall see at
Arezzo. But it was at Bologna they began to make me presents. The
Bishop of Pisa had a robe of black satin embroidered with gold cut for
me; nothing could be handsomer. So I came like a prince to Mantua.
Everybody calls me 'Messere' and 'Signore.' I think this Easter we
shall be at Loreto, where the Marquis goes to perform a vow; and on
this journey I shall be able to satisfy the Dukes of Ferrara and
Urbino, both of whom have expressed the desire to make my

[Footnote 492: Quoted by Philarète Chasles from Gamurrini, _Ist. Gen.
delle famiglie nobili Toscane ed Umbre_, iii. 332. I do not know
exactly to what period the letter refers.]

On the election of Clement VII., Pietro returned to Rome with a
complimentary sonnet in his pocket for the new Pope. He had now
acquired an Italian reputation, and was able to keep the state of an
independent gentleman, surrounded by a band of disreputable
hangers-on, the _bardassonacci, paggi da taverna_, of Berni's
satirical sonnet. But a misfortune obliged him suddenly to decamp.
Giulio Romano had designed a series of obscene figures, which
Marcantonio Raimondi engraved, and Aretino illustrated by sixteen
sonnets, describing and commenting upon the lewdness of each picture.
Put in circulation, these works of immodest art roused the indignation
of the Roman prelates, who, though they complacently listened to
Berni's _Pesche_ or La Casa's _Forno_ behind the closed doors of a
literary club, disliked the scandal of publicity. Raimondi was
imprisoned; Giulio Romano went in the service of the Marquis of Mantua
to build the famous Palazzo del Te; and Aretino discreetly retired
from Rome for a season. Of the three accomplices in this act of high
treason against art, Aretino was undoubtedly the guiltiest. Yet he had
the impudence to defend his sonnets in 1537, and to address them with
a letter of dedication, unmatched for its parade of shamelessness, to
Messer Battista Zatti of Brescia.[493] In this epistle he takes credit
to himself for having procured the engraver's pardon and liberation
from Clement VII. However this may be, he fell in 1524 under the
special ban of Monsignor Giberti's displeasure, and had to take
refuge with Giovanni de' Medici delle Bande Nere.[494] This famous
general was a wild free-liver. He conceived a real affection for
Aretino, made him the sharer in his debaucheries, gave him a place
even in his own bed, and listened with rapture to his indecent
improvisations. Aretino's fortune was secured. It was discovered that
he had the art of pleasing princes. He knew exactly how to season his
servility with freedom, how to flatter the great man by pandering to
his passions and tickling his vanity, while he added the pungent sauce
of satire and affected bluntness. _Il gran Diavolo_, as Giovanni de'
Medici was called, introduced Aretino to Francis I., and promised, if
fortune favored him, to make the adventurer master of his native town,

[Footnote 493: _Lettere_, vol. i. p. 258.]

[Footnote 494: It may be remembered that Giberti, Bishop of Verona,
was Berni's patron. This helps to account for the animosity between
Berni and Aretino.]

[Footnote 495: _Op. Burl._ ii. p. 11:

    Sotto Milano dieci volte, non ch'una,
      Mi disse: Pietro, se di questa guerra
      Mi scampa Dio e la buona fortuna,
    Ti voglio impadronir della tua terra.

Giovanni de' Medici wrote to him thus: "Vieni presto.... Il re a buon
proposito si dolse che non ti aveva menato al solito, onde io diedi la
colpa al piacerti più lo stare in Corte che in Campo ... non so vivere
senza l'Aretino."--_Lettere scritte all'Aretino_, i. 6.]

Aretino's intercourse with these powerful protectors was broken by a
short visit to Rome, where he seems to have made peace with the
prelates. It was probably inconvenient to protract hostilities against
a man who had gained the friendship of a King of France and of the
greatest Italian _condottiere_ of his age. But fortune had ceased to
smile on our hero in Rome. It so happened that he wrote a ribald
sonnet on a scullion-wench in the service of Monsignor Giberti, to
whom a certain Achille della Volta was at the same time paying his
addresses. The _bravo_ avenged this insult to his mistress by
waylaying Aretino in the Trastevere and stabbing him several times in
the breast and hands. When Aretino recovered from his wounds, he
endeavored in vain to get justice against Achille. The Pope and his
Datary refused to interfere in this ignoble quarrel. Aretino once more
retired from Rome, vowing vengeance against Clement, whom he defamed
to the best of his ability in scurrilous libels and calumnious

[Footnote 496: The sonnet by Berni quoted above, p. 371, was written
to meet these libels of Aretino. It contains an allusion to Achille
della Volta's poignard.]

He now remained with Giovanni de' Medici until that general's death in
1526. The great captain died in Aretino's arms at Mantua from the
effect of a wound inflicted by an unknown harquebuss in Frundsperg's
army.[497] This accident decided Aretino to place no further reliance
on princely patronage. He was thirty-two years of age, and had
acquired a singular reputation throughout Italy for social humor,
pungent wit and literary ability. Though deficient in personal
courage, as the affair of Achille della Volta proved, he contrived to
render himself formidable by reckless evil-speaking; and while he had
no learning and no style, he managed to pass for a writer of
distinction. How he attained this position in an age of purists,
remains a puzzle; we possess nothing which explains the importance
attached to his compositions at this early period. His sonnets had
made what the French call a success of scandal; and the libertines who
protected him, were less particular about literary elegance than eager
to be amused. If we inquire minutely into the circumstances of
Aretino's career, we find that he had worked himself into favor with a
set of princes--the Marquis of Mantua, the Dukes of Ferrara and
Urbino, Giovanni de' Medici, and the King of France--who were powerful
enough to confer fashion upon an adventurer, and to place him in a
position where it would be perilous to contest his claims, but who
were not eminent for literary taste. In the Court of the two Medici at
Rome, who exacted more scholarship and refinement than Aretino
possessed, he never gained firm footing; and this was perhaps the
chief reason of his animosity against Clement. He had in fact become
the foremost parasite, the wittiest and most brilliant companion of
debauch, in the less cultivated Italian Courts. This reputation he now
resolved to use for his own profit. From the moment when he retired to
Venice in 1527, resolved to support himself by literary work, until
his death, in 1557, he enjoyed a princely income, levying tribute on
kings and nobles, living with prodigal magnificence, corresponding
with the most illustrious men of all nations, and dictating his own
terms to the society he alternately flattered and insulted. The
history of these last thirty years, which may be clearly read in the
six bulky volumes of his published correspondence, and in the four
volumes of letters written to him, is one of the most extraordinary
instances on record of celebrity and power acquired by calculated
imposture and audacious brigandism.[498]

[Footnote 497: See Aretino's Letters, vol. i. pp. 8, 10, for very
interesting details concerning the death of Giovanni de' Medici. He
here used the interest of his old master to secure the favor of Duke

[Footnote 498: The edition of Aretino's own letters which I shall use
is that of Paris, 1609 in six books. The edition of the _Lettere
scritte all'Aretino_ is Romagnoli's reprint, _Scelta di Curiosità_,
Bologna, 1873-1876, Dispensa cxxxii., two books divided into four
volumes; to these, for convenience sake, I shall refer as 1, 2, 3, 4.]

Aretino showed prudence in the choice of Venice for his fixed abode.
In Venice there was greater liberty both of life and speech than
elsewhere at that time in Italy. So long as a man refrained from
politics and offered no cause of suspicion to the State, he might do
and publish pretty much what he chose, without fear of interference
and without any serious peril from the Inquisition. For a filibuster
of Aretino's type, Venice offered precisely the most advantageous
harbor, whence he could make sallies and predatory excursions, and
whither he might always return to rest at ease beneath the rampart of
a proud political indifference. His greatness consisted in the
accurate measure he had taken of the society upon which he now
intended to live by literary speculation. His acute common sense
enabled him to comprehend the power of the press, which had not as yet
been deliberately used as a weapon of offense and an instrument of
extortion. We have seen in another portion of this book how important
a branch of literature the invectives of the humanists had been, how
widely they were read, and what an impression they produced upon
society. The diatribes of Poggio and Filelfo circulated in manuscript;
but now the press was in full working order, and Aretino perceived
that he might make a livelihood by printing threats and libels mixed
with eulogies and personal panegyrics. The unwieldy three-decker of
the invective should be reduced to the manageable form of the
epistolary torpedo and gunboat. To propagate calumnies and to render
them imperishable by printing was the menace he addressed to society.
He calculated wisely on the uneasiness which the occasional appearance
of stinging pamphlets, fully charged with personalities, would produce
among the Italians, who were nothing if not a nation of readers at
this epoch. At the same time he took measures to secure his own
safety. Professing himself a good Christian, he liberally seasoned his
compositions with sacred names; and, though he had no more real
religion than Fra Timoteo in Machiavelli's _Mandragola_ he published
pious romances under the titles of _I tre libri della Humanità di
Christo_, _I Sette Salmi de la penitentia di David_, _Il Genesi di
Pietro Aretino_, _La Vita di Catherina Vergine_, _La Vita di Maria
Vergine_, _La Vita di S. Tommaso Signor d'Aquino_. These books,
proceeding from the same pen as the _Sonetti lussuriosi_ and the
pornographic _Ragionamenti_, were an insult to piety. Still they
served their author for a shield, behind which he shot the arrows of
his calumnies, and carried on the more congenial game of making money
by pandering to the licentiousness or working on the cowardice of the

[Footnote 499: It is clear from a perusal of the _Lettere all'Aretino_
that his reputation depended in a great measure upon these pious
romances. The panegyrics heaped on them are too lengthy and too
copious to be quoted. They are curiously mixed with no less fervent
praises of the _Dialoghi_.]

Aretino, who was able to boast that he had just refused a flattering
invitation from the Marquis of Montferrat, was received with honor by
the State of Venice. Soon after his arrival he wrote thus to the Doge
Andrea Gritti:[500] "I, who, in the liberty of so great and virtuous a
commonwealth, have now learned what it is to be free, reject Courts
henceforth for ever, and here make my abiding tabernacle for the years
that yet remain to me; for here there is no place for treason, here
favor cannot injure right, here the cruelty of prostitutes exerts no
sway, here the insolence of the effeminate is powerless to command,
here there is no robbing, no violence to the person, no assassination.
Wherefore I, who have stricken terror into kings, I, who have restored
confidence to virtuous men, give myself to you, fathers of your
people, brothers of your servants, sons of truth, friends of virtue,
companions of the stranger, pillars of religion, observers of your
word, executors of justice, treasuries of charity, and subjects of
clemency." Then follows a long tirade in the same stilted style upon
the majesty of Venice. The Doge took Aretino by the hand, reconciled
him with Clement and the Bishop of Verona, and assured him of
protection, so long as the illustrious author chose to make the city
of the lagoons his home. Luigi Gritti, the Doge's son, assigned him a
pension; and though invitations came from foreign Courts, Aretino made
his mind up to remain at Venice. He knew that the very singularity of
his resolve, in an age when men of letters sought the patronage of
princely houses, would enable him to play the game he had in view. Nor
could he forget the degradation he had previously undergone in
courtly service. "Only let me draw breath outside that hell! Ah! your
Court! your Court! To my mind a gondolier here is better off than a
chamberlain there. Look you at yonder poor waiting man, tortured by
the cold, consumed by the heat, standing at his master's
pleasure--where is the fire to warm him? where is the water to refresh
him? When he falls ill, what chamber, what stable, what hospital will
take him in? Rain, snow, mud! Faugh, it murders a man to ride in such
weather with his patron or upon his errands. Think how cruel it is to
have to show a beard grown in the service of mere boys, how abject are
white hairs, when youth and manhood have been spent in idling around
tables, antechamber doors, and privies? Here I sit when I am tired;
when I am hungry, eat; when I feel the inclination, sleep; and all the
hours are obedient to my will."[501] He revels in the sense of his own
freedom. "My sincerity, and my virtue, which never could stomach the
lies that bolster up the Court of Rome, nor the vices that reign in
it, have found favor in the eyes of all the princes of the world.
Emperors, thank God, are not Popes, nor Kings Cardinals! Therefore I
enjoy their generosity, instead of courting that hypocrisy of priests,
which acts the bawd and pander to our souls. Look at Chieti, the
parasite of penitence! Look at Verona, the buffoon of piety! They at
least have solved the doubts in which their ambitious dissimulation
held those who believed that the one would not accept the hat, and
the other was not scheming for it. I meanwhile praise God for being
what I am. The hatred of slaves, the rancors of ambition no longer hem
me round. I rob no man's time. I take no delight in seeing my
neighbors go naked through the world. Nay, I share with them the very
shirts off my back, the crust of bread upon my plate. My servant-girls
are my daughters, my lackeys are my brothers. Peace is the pomp of my
chambers, and liberty the majordomo of my palace. I feast daily off
bread and gladness; and, wishing not to be of more importance than I
am, live by the sweat of my ink, the luster of which has never been
extinguished by the blasts of malignity or the mists of envy."[502] At
another time he breaks into jubilant descriptions of his own
magnificence and popularity. "I swear to you by the wings of Pegasus
that, much as may have reached your ears, you have not heard one half
the hymn of my celebrity. Medals are coined in my honor; medals of
gold, of silver, of brass, of lead, of stucco. My features are carved
along the fronts of palaces. My portrait is stamped upon comb-cases,
engraved on mirror-handles, painted on majolica. I am a second
Alexander, Cæsar, Scipio. Nay more: I tell you that some kinds of
glasses they make at Murano, are called Aretines. Aretine is the name
given to a breed of cobs--after one Pope Clement sent me and I gave to
Duke Frederick. They have christened the little canal that runs beside
my house upon the Canalozzo, Rio Aretino. And, to make the pedants
burst with rage, besides talking of the Aretine style, three wenches
of my household, who have left me and become ladies, will have
themselves known only as the Aretines."[503]

[Footnote 500: _Lettere_, vol. i. p. 3.]

[Footnote 501: _Lettere_, i. 204.]

[Footnote 502: _Lettere_, ii. 58.]

[Footnote 503: _Lettere_, iii. 145; cp. iii. 89. The whole of the
passage translated above is an abstract of a letter professedly
written to Aretino by Doni (_Lett. all'Ar._ vol. iv. p. 395), which
may be read with profit as an instance of flattery. The occurrence of
the same phrases in both series of epistles raises a doubt whether
Aretino did not tamper with the text of the correspondence he
published, penning panegyrics of himself and printing them under
fictitious names as advertisements. Doni was a man who might have lent
himself to such imposture on the public.]

These self-congratulations were no idle vaunts. His palace on the
Grand Canal was crowded with male and female servants, thronged with
visitors, crammed with costly works of art and presents received from
every part of Italy and Europe. The choicest wines and the most
exquisite viands--rare birds, delicate fruits, and vegetables out of
season--arrived by special messengers to furnish forth his banquets.
Here he kept open house, enjoying the society of his two bosom
friends, Titian and Sansovino, entertaining the magnificent Venetian
prostitutes, and welcoming the men of fashion or of learning who made
long journeys to visit him.[504] "If I only spent in composition one
third of the time I fling away, the printers would do nothing but
attend to the issuing of my works. And yet I could not write so much
if I would; so enormous is the multitude which comes incessantly to
see me. I am often forced to fly from my own house, and leave the
concourse to take care of itself."[505] "So many lords and gentlemen
are eternally breaking in upon me with their importunities, that my
stairs are worn by their feet like the Capitol with wheels of
triumphal chariots. Turks, Jews, Indians, Frenchmen, Germans,
Spaniards, flock to see me. You can fancy how many Italians come! I
say nothing about the common folk. You could not find me without a
flock of friars and priests. I have come to be the Oracle of Truth,
the Secretary of the Universe: everybody brings me the tale of his
injury by this prince or that prelate."[506] This sumptuous train of
life demanded a long purse, and Aretino had nothing but his brains to
live by. Yet, by the sale of his books and the contributions levied on
great folk, he accumulated a yearly income sufficient to his needs.
"Thanks to their Majesties of Spain and France, with the addition of a
hundred crowns of pension allowed me by the Marquis of Vasto, and the
same amount paid by the Prince of Salerno, I have six hundred crowns
of fixed income, besides the thousand or thereabouts I make yearly
with a quire of paper and a bottle of ink."[507] In another place he
says that in the course of eighteen years "the alchemy of his pen had
drawn over twenty-five thousand crowns from the entrails of various
princes."[508] It was computed that, during his lifetime, he levied
blackmail to the extent of about 70,000 crowns, or considerably more
than a million of francs, without counting his strictly professional
earnings. All this wealth he spent as soon as he laid hands upon it,
boasting loudly of his prodigality, as though it were a virtue. He
dressed splendidly, and denied himself no sensual indulgence. His
house contained a harem of women, devoted to his personal pleasures
and those, apparently, of his familiar friends. He had many
illegitimate daughters, whom he dowered. Moreover, he was liberal to
poor people; and while squandering money first upon his vices, he paid
due attention to his reputation for generosity.[509] The bastard of
Arezzo vaunted he had been born in a hospital with the soul of a
king.[510] Yet he understood nothing of real magnanimity; his charity
was part of an openhanded recklessness, which made him fling the goods
of fortune to the wind as soon as gained--part of the character of
_grand seigneur_ he aspired to assume.[511]

[Footnote 504: See _Lettere all'Ar._ vol. iv. p. 352, for a vivid
description, written by Francesco Marcolini, of Aretino's train of
living and prodigal hospitality. It realizes the vast banqueting-pictures
of Veronese.]

[Footnote 505: _Lettere_, iii. 72.]

[Footnote 506: _Lettere_, i. 206. This passage occurs also in a letter
addressed to Aretino by one Alessandro Andrea (_Lett. all'Ar._ vol.
iii. p. 178); whence Mazzuchelli argues that Aretino tampered with the
letters written to him, and interpolated passages before he sent them
to the press. See last page, note 1.]

[Footnote 507: _Lettere_, ii. 213.]

[Footnote 508: _Lettere_, iii. 70.]

[Footnote 509: See _Lettere_, ii. 257; iii. 340; v. 251.]

[Footnote 510: See the _Capitolo al Duca di Fiorenza_.]

[Footnote 511: Marcolini's letter (_Lettere all'Aretino_, vol. iv. p.
352), and some letters from obscure scholars (for example, _ib._ vol.
ii. pp. 118-121), seem to prove that he was really openhanded in cases
of distress.]

It would fatigue the patience of the reader to furnish forth a
complete list of the presents made to Aretino and acknowledged by him
in his correspondence. Chains, jewels, horses, pictures, costly
stuffs, cups, mirrors, delicacies of the table, wines--nothing came
amiss to him; and the more he received, the more he cried continually,
give, give, give! There was hardly a reigning prince in Europe, hardly
a noble of distinction in Italy, who had not sent some offering to his
shrine. The Sultan Soliman, the pirate Barbarossa, the Pope, the
Emperor, were among his tributaries.[512] The Empress gave him a
golden collar worth three hundred crowns. Philip, Infante of Spain,
presented him with another worth four hundred. Francis I. bestowed on
him a still more costly chain, wrought of pure gold, from which hung a
row of red enameled tongues, bearing the inscription _Lingua ejus
loquetur mendacium_. Aretino received these presents from the hands of
embassadors, and wore them when he sat to Titian or to Tintoretto for
his portrait. Instead of resenting the equivocal compliment of the
French king's motto, he gloried in it. Lies, no less than flattery,
were among the openly-avowed weapons of his armory.[513] Upon the
medals struck in his honor he styled himself _Divus P. Aretinus,
Flagellum Principum_, the Divine Pietro Aretino, Scourge of Princes.
Another inscription ran as follows: _I Principi tributati dai popoli
il Servo loro tributano_--Princes who levy tribute from their people,
bring tribute to their servant. And there is Aretino seated on a
throne, with noble clients laying golden vases at his feet.[514]

[Footnote 512: There is a letter from Barbarossa to Aretino in the
_Lettere all'Ar._ vol. iii. p. 269.]

[Footnote 513: See the frank admissions in _Lettere_, ii. 52; iv. 168;
i. 19, 30, 142.]

[Footnote 514: See the plates prefixed to Mazzuchelli's Life of
Aretino. Compare a passage in his Letters, vi. 115, and the headings
of the Letters addressed to him, _passim_.]

It is incredible that arrogance so palpable should have been
tolerated, inconceivable how such a braggart exercised this
fascination. What had Emperors and Kings to gain or lose by Aretino's
pen? What was the secret of his power? No satisfactory answer has yet
been given to these questions. The enigma does not, indeed, admit of
solution. We have to deal in Aretino's case with a blind movement
among "the better vulgar," expressing itself as fashion; and nothing
is more difficult to fathom than the fashion of a bygone age.[515] The
prestige which attached itself to people like Cagliostro or S.
Germains or Beau Nash is quite incalculable. Yet some account may be
rendered of what seems to have been Aretino's method. He assiduously
cultivated a reputation for reckless freedom of speech. He loudly
trumpeted his intention of speaking evil when and where it pleased
him. He proclaimed himself the champion of veracity, asserted that
nothing was so damnatory as the truths he had to tell, and announced
himself the "Censor of the world," the foe of vice, the defender of
virtue. Having occupied the ear of society by these preliminary
fanfaronnades, he proceeded to satirize the Courts in general, and to
vilify the manners of princes, without mentioning any in
particular.[516] It thus came to be believed that Aretino was a
dangerous person, a writer it would be wiser to have upon one's side,
and who, if he were not coaxed into good humor, might say something
eminently disagreeable.[517] There was pungency enough in his
epigrams, in the slashing, coarse, incisive brutality of his style, to
make his attack formidable. People shrank from it, as they now shrink
from articles in certain libelous weekly papers. Aretino was
recognized as a Cerberus, to whom sops should be thrown. Accordingly,
the custom began of making him presents and conferring on him
pensions. Then it was discovered that if he used a pen dipped in
vitriol for his enemies, he had in reserve a pen of gold for his
patrons, from which the gross mud-honey of flatteries incessantly
trickled.[518] To send him a heavy fee was the sure way of receiving
an adulatory epistle, in which the Scourge of Princes raised his
benefactor of the moment to the skies. In a word, Aretino's art
consisted in making each patron believe that the vigilant satirist of
other people's vices bestowed just eulogy on him alone, and that his
praises were wrung from the mouth of truth by singular and exceptional
merit. The fact is that though Aretino corresponded with all the
princes of Europe and with at least thirty Cardinals, his letters are
nothing but a series of the grossest flatteries. There is a hint here
and there that the benefactor had better loosen his purse strings, if
he wishes the stream of sycophancy to continue. When Cerberus has been
barking long without a sop, we hear an angry growl, a menace, a curt
and vicious snarl for gold.[519] But no sooner has the gift been sent,
than the fawning process recommences. In this way, by terrorism and
toad-eating, by wheedling and bullying, by impudent demands for money
and no less impudent assertions of his power to confer disgrace or
fame, the rascal held society at his disposal. He boasted, and not
without reason, that from his study in Venice he could move the world
by a few lines scribbled on a piece of paper with his pen. What
remains inconceivable, is that any value should have been attached to
his invectives or his panegyrics--that persons of distinction should
have paid him for the latter, and have stooped to deprecate the
former. But it had become the fashion to be afraid of Aretino, the
fashion to court his goodwill, the fashion to parade his praises.
Francis I. and Charles V. led this vogue. The other princes followed
suit. Charles wished to knight Aretino: but the adventurer refused a
barren honor. Julius III. made him knight of S. Peter with a small
pension. Henry VIII. sent him a purse of 300 crowns for a dedicatory
epistle.[520] It was even talked of elevating him to the rank of
Cardinal, and engrossing his talents for the service of the
Church.[521] Nobody thought of addressing him without the prefix of
_Divino_.[522] And yet, all this while, it was known to every one in
Italy that Aretino was a pander, a coward, a liar, a debauchee, who
had wallowed in every lust, sold himself to work all wickedness, and
speculated on the grossest passions, the basest curiosities, the
vilest vices of his age.[523]

[Footnote 515: After studying the _Lettere scritte
all'Aretino_--epistles, it must be remembered, from foreign kings and
princes, from cardinals and bishops, from Italian dukes and noblemen,
from illustrious ladies and great artists, and from the most
distinguished men of letters of his day--I am quite at a loss to
comprehend the _furore_ of fashion which accompanied this man through
his career. One and all praise him as the most powerful, the most
virtuous, the bravest, the wittiest, the wisest, or, to use their
favorite phrase, the _divinest_ man of his century. Was all this a
mere convention? Was it evoked by fear and desire of being flattered
in return? Or, after all, had Aretino some now occult splendor, some
real, but now unintelligible, utility for his contemporaries?]

[Footnote 516: The Papal Court was attacked by him; but none other
that I can discover. The only Prince who felt the rough side of his
tongue was the Farnese:

    Impara tu, Pierluigi ammorbato,
      Impara, Ducarel da sei quattrini,
      Il costume d'un Rè si onorato.

Cardinal Gaddi and the Bishop of Verona were pretty roughly treated.
So was Clement VII. But all these personages made their peace with
Aretino, and paid him homage.]

[Footnote 517: See the curious epistle written to Messer Pompeo Pace
by the Conte di Monte Labbate, and included among the _Lettere
all'Aretino_, vol. iv. p. 385. Speaking of Aretino's singular worth
and excellent qualities, it discusses the question of the terror he
inspired, which the author attributes to a kind of justifiable
_chantage_. That Aretino was the inventor of literary _chantage_ is
certain; but that it was justifiable, does not appear.]

[Footnote 518: Aretino made no secret of his artificial method of
flattery. In a letter to Bembo (_Lettere_, ii. 52), he openly boasts
that his literary skill enables him to "swell the pride of grandees
with exorbitant praises, keeping them aloft in the skies upon the
wings of hyperboles." "It is my business," he adds, "to transform
digressions, metaphors, and pedagogeries of all sorts into capstans
for moving and pincers for opening. I must so work that the voice of
my writings shall break the sleep of avarice; and baptize that conceit
or that phrase which shall bring me crowns of gold, not laurels."]

[Footnote 519: As a sample of his begging style, we may extract the
following passage from a letter (1537), referring to the king of
France (_Lettere_, i. 111): "I was and ever shall be the servant of
his Majesty, of whom I preached and published what appears in all my
utterances and in all my works. But since it is my wonted habit not to
live by dreams, and since certain persons take no care for me, I have
with glory to myself made myself esteemed and sought by those who are
really liberal. The chain was three years delayed, and four have gone
without so much as a courtesy to me from the King's quarter. Therefore
I have turned to one who gives without promising--I speak of the
Emperor. I adored Francis; but never to get money from the stirring of
his liberality, is enough to cool the furnaces of Murano."]

[Footnote 520: See Cromwell's letter, in the _Lettere all'Aretino_,
vol. ii. p. 15.]

[Footnote 521: _Lettere all'Aretino_, vol. i. p. 245; vol. iv. pp.
281, 289, 300, contain allusions to this project, which is said to
have originated with the Duke of Parma. The first citation is a letter
of Titian's.]

[Footnote 522: "Divino," "Divinissimo," "Precellentissimo,"
"Unichissimo," "Onnipotente," are a few of the epithets culled from
the common language of his flatterers.]

[Footnote 523: I will translate passages from two letters, which, by
their very blasphemies, emphasize this contradiction. "One might well
say that you, most divine Signor Pietro, are neither Prophet nor
Sibyl, but rather the very Son of God, seeing that God is highest
truth in heaven, and you are truth on earth; nor is any city but
Venice fit to give you harborage, who are the jewel of the earth, the
treasure of the sea, the pride of heaven; and that rare cloth of gold,
bedecked with gems, they place upon the altar of S. Mark's, is naught
but you" (_Lettere scritte a P. Aretino_, vol. iii. p. 176). The next
is more extraordinary, since it professes to be written by a monk: "In
this our age you are a column, lantern, torch and splendor of Holy
Church, who, could she speak, would give to you the revenues of
Chieti, Farnese, Santa Fiore, and all those other idlers, crying
out--Let them be awarded to the Lord Pietro, who distinguishes, exalts
and honors me, in whom unite the subtlety of Augustine, the moral
force of Gregory, Jerome's profundity of meaning, the weighty style of
Ambrose. It is not I but the whole world that says you are another
Paul, who have borne the name of the Son of God into the presence of
kings, potentates, princes of the universe; another Baptist, who with
boldness, fearing naught, have reproved, chastised, exposed
iniquities, malice, hypocrisy before the whole world; another John the
Evangelist, for exhorting, entreating, exalting, honoring the good,
the righteous, and the virtuous. Verily he who first called you
Divine, can claim the words Christ spake to Peter: Beatus es, quia
caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi, sed Pater noster qui in coelis
est" (_Ibid._ p. 142).]

Sometimes he met with men stout enough to treat him as he deserved.
The English embassador at Venice cudgeled him within an inch of his
life. Pietro Strozzi threatened to assassinate him if he showed his
face abroad, and Aretino kept close so long as the _condottiere_
remained in Venice. Tintoretto offered to paint his portrait; and when
he had got the fellow inside his studio, grimly took his measure with
a cutlass. Aretino never resented these insults. Bully as he was, he
bowed to blows, and kissed the hand that dared to strike him. We have
already seen how he waited till Berni's death before he took revenge
for the famous sonnet. All this makes the general adulation of society
for the "divine Aretino" the more unintelligible. We can only compare
the treatment he received with the mingled contempt and flattery, the
canings and the invitations, showered at the present time on editors
of scandal-mongering journals.

The miracle of Aretino's dictatorship is further enhanced by the fact
that he played with cards upon the table. His epistles were
continually being printed--in fact, were sent to the press as soon as
written. Here all the world could see the workings of his mind, his
hypocrisies, his contradictions, the clamorousness of his demands for
gold, the grossness and universality of his flatteries, his cynical
obscenity, his simulation of a superficial and disgusting piety. Yet
the more he published of his correspondence, the louder was the
acclamation of society. The charlatan of genius knew his public, and
won their favor by effronteries that would have ruined a more cautious
impostor. Some of his letters are masterpieces of infernal malice.
The Marchioness of Pescara had besought him to change his mode of
life, and to dedicate his talents only to religion.[524] This is how
he answers her:[525] "It gives me pleasure, most modest lady, that the
religious pieces I have written do not displease the taste of your
good judgment. Your doubt, whether to praise me or to dispraise me for
expending my talents on aught else than sacred studies, is prompted by
that most excellent spirit which moves you to desire that every
thought and every word should turn toward God, forasmuch as He is the
giver of virtue and of intellectual power. I confess that I am less
useful to the world, and less acceptable to Christ, when I exhaust my
studious energies on lying trifles, and not on the eternal verities.
But all this evil is caused by the pleasure of others, and by my own
necessities; for if the princes were as truly pious as I am indigent,
I would employ my pen on nothing else but Misereres. Excellent my
lady, all men are not gifted with the graces of divine inspiration.
_They_ are ever burning with lustful desires, while _you_ are every
hour inflamed with angelic fire. For _you_ the services of the Church
and sermons are what music and comedies are for _them_. _You_ would
not turn your eyes to look at Hercules upon his pyre, nor yet on
Marsyas without his skin: while _they_ would hardly keep a S. Lawrence
on the gridiron or a flayed Bartholomew in their bedroom. There's my
bosom friend Bruciolo; five years ago he dedicated his Bible to the
King, who calls himself Most Christian, and yet he has not had an
answer. Perhaps the book was neither well translated nor well bound.
On this account my _Cortigiana_, which drew from his Majesty the
famous chain of gold, abstained from laughing at his _Old Testament_;
for this would be indecent. So you see I ought to be excused if I
compose jests for my livelihood and not for evil purpose. Anyhow, may
Jesus inspire you with the thought of paying me through M. Sebastiano
of Pesaro--from whom I received your thirty crowns--the rest, which I
owe, upon my word and honor. From Venice. The 9th of January, 1537."

[Footnote 524: Her letter may be read in the _Lettere all'Aretino_,
vol iii. p. 28.]

[Footnote 525: _Lettere_, ii. 9.]

This letter, one long tissue of sneers, taunts and hypocritical
sarcasms, gives the complete measure of Aretino's arrogance. Yet the
illustrious and pious lady to whom it was addressed, suffered the
writer--such was this man's unaccountable prestige--to remain her
correspondent. The collection of his letters contains several
addressed to Vittoria Colonna, of which the date is subsequent to
1537.[526] Not less remarkable were Aretino's dealings with the proud,
resentful, solitary Michelangelo. Professing the highest admiration
for Buonarroti's genius, averring that "the world has many kings but
one only Michelangelo," Aretino wrote demanding drawings from the
mighty sculptor, and giving him advice about his pictures in the
Sistine. Instead of treating these impertinent advances with silence
or sending a well-merited rebuff, we have a letter from Michelangelo
addressed to "M. Pietro, my lord and brother," requesting the
dictator to write something concerning him:[527] "Not only do I hold
this dear, but I implore you to do so, since kings and emperors regard
it as the height of favor to be mentioned by your pen." Was this the
depth of humility, or the acme of irony, or was it the acquiescence of
a noble nature in a fashion too prevalent to be examined by the light
of reason? Let those decide who have read a portion of Aretino's
letters to his "singularly divine Buonaruoto." For my own part, in
spite of their strange but characteristic fusion of bullying and
servility, I find in these epistles a trace of Aretino's most
respectable quality--his worship of art, and his personal attachment
to great artists. It may be said in passing that he never shows so
well as in the epistles to Sansovino and Titian, men from whom he
could gain but indirectly, and to whom he clung by an instinct of what
was truest and sincerest in his nature. It is, therefore, not
improbable that Michelangelo gave him credit for sincerity, and,
instead of resenting his importunity, was willing to accept his
advances in a kindly spirit.[528]

[Footnote 526: She wrote to him again in 1539; see _Lettere
all'Aretino_, vol. iii. p. 30. The series of letters from the virtuous
Veronica Gambara are equally astonishing (_ib._ vol. i. pp. 318-333).]

[Footnote 527: _Lettere all'Aretino_, vol. ii. p. 335.]

[Footnote 528: Giorgio Vasari, the common friend of Pietro Aretino and
M.A. Buonarroti, had no doubt something to do with the acquiescent
courtesy of the latter.]

Thus far we have been dealing with Aretino's relation to sovereigns,
ladies, and people of importance in the world of art. That he should
have imposed upon them is singular. But his position in the republic
of letters offers still stranger food for reflection. In an age of
literary refinement and classical erudition, this untaught child of
the people arrogated to himself the fame of a prominent author, and
had his claims acknowledged by men like Bembo, Varchi, Molza,
Sperone.[529] All the Academies in Italy made him their member with
extraordinary honors, and he corresponded with every writer of
distinction. He treated the scholars of his day as he treated the
princes of Italy, abusing them collectively for pedantry, and
showering the epithets of _divino, divinissimo_, upon them
individually. With his usual sagacity, Aretino saw how to command the
public by running counter to the prejudices of his century, and
proclaiming his independence of its principles. He resolved to win
celebrity by contrast, by piquancy of style, by the assertion of his
individual character, by what Machiavelli termed _virtù_. As he had
boasted of the baseness of his origin, so now he piqued himself upon
his ignorance. He made a parade of knowing neither Latin nor Greek,
derided the puristic veneration for Petrarch and Boccaccio then in
vogue, and asserted that his mother-wit was the best source of
inspiration. This audacity proved successful. While the stylists of
the day were polishing their labored periods to smoothness, he
expressed such thoughts as occurred to him in the words which came
first to hand, seeking only vivacity, relief and salience. He wrote as
he talked; and the result was that he acquired a well-won reputation
for freshness, wit, originality and vigor. This is how he dictates the
terms of epistolary style to Bernardo Tasso:[530] "I, who am more your
brother in benevolence than you show yourself to be my friend in
honor, did not believe that the serenity of my mind would ever again
be dimmed by those clouds, which, after thunders and lightnings, burst
in the bolt that sent Antonio Broccardo beneath the earth. Pride and
vanity, for certain, prompted you to tell the excellent and
illustrious Annibale Caro that no writer of letters is worthy to be
imitated at the present day, sagaciously hinting at yourself as the
right man to be imitated. Without doubt, your inordinate self-love,
combined with your inattention to the claims of others, brought your
judgment to this pass. I published letters before you, and you
borrowed your style, in so far as it is worth anything, from me. Yet
you cannot produce even a counterfeit of my manner. My sentences and
similes are made to live; yours issue stillborn from your mind. It is
time that you copy a few of my familiar phrases, word by word. What
else can you do? Your own taste is rather inclined to the scent of
flowers than the savor of fruits. You have the graces of a certain
celestial style, fit for epithalamial odes and hymns. But all that
sweetness is out of place in epistles, where we want the salience of
invention, not the illuminated arabesques of artifice. I am not going
to sing my own praises, nor to tell you that men of merit ought to
mark my birthday with white chalk--I, who without scouring the
post-roads, without following Courts, without stirring from my study,
have made every living duke, prince, sovereign, tributary to my
virtue--I, who hold fame at my discretion through the universe--I,
whose portrait is revered, whose name is honored in Persia and the
Indies. To end this letter, I salute you with the assurance that
nobody, so far as your epistles go, blames you for envy's sake, while
many, very many, praise you through compassion for your having written
them." There was no limit to his literary self-confidence.[531] "Of
the three opinions current respecting the talents which keep my name
alive, time has refuted that, which, hearing I had no erudition,
judged my compositions to be nonsense, together with that other,
which, finding in them some gust of genius, affirmed they were not
mine. Whence it follows that only one remains, the opinion, to wit,
that I, who never had a tutor, am complete in every branch of
knowledge. All this comes from the poverty of art, which ever envies
the wealth of nature, from whom I borrow my conceptions. Wherefore, if
you are of the number of those who, in order to deprive me of nature's
favor, attribute to me the learning that comes from study, you deceive
yourself, for I swear by God I hardly understand my mother tongue."
Meanwhile his tirades against the purists are full of excellent good
sense. "O mistaken multitude, I tell you again, and yet again that
poetry is a caprice of nature in her moments of gladness; it depends
on a man's own inspiration, and if this fails, a poet's singing is but
a tambourine without rattles, a bell-tower without bells. He who
attempts to write verses without the gift is like the alchemists, who,
for all their industry and eager avarice, never yet made gold, while
nature, without labor, turns it out in plenty, pure and beautiful.
Take lessons from that painter, who, when he was asked whom he
imitated, pointed to a crowd of living men, meaning that he borrowed
his examples from life and reality. This is what I do, when I write or
talk. Nature herself, of whose simplicity I am the secretary, dictates
that which I set down."[532] And again: "I laugh at those pedants, who
think that learning consists in Greek and Latin, laying down the law
that one who does not understand these languages, cannot open his
mouth. It is not because I do not know them, that I have departed from
Petrarch's and Boccaccio's precedents; but because I care not to lose
time, patience, reputation, in the mad attempt to convert myself into
their persons. The true aim of writing is to condense into the space
of half a page, the length of histories, the tedium of orations; and
this my letters clearly show that I have done." "It is far better to
drink out of one's own wooden cup than another's golden goblet; and a
man makes a finer show in his own rags than in stolen velvets. What
have we to do with other people's property?"[533] "What have we to do
with words which, however once in common use, have now passed out of
fashion?"[534] At times he bursts into a fury of invective against
erudition: "Those pedants, the asses of other people's books, who,
after massacring the dead, rest not till they have crucified the
living! It was pedantry that murdered Duke Alessandro, pedantry that
flung the Cardinal of Ravenna into prison, and, what is worse, stirred
up heresy against our faith through the mouth of that arch-pedant
Luther."[535] This is admirable. It plunges to the very root of the
matter. Sharpened by his hostility to the learning he did not share,
and the puerile aspects of which he justly satirized, this acute and
clairvoyant critic is enabled to perceive that both Italian
tyrannicide and German Reformation had their origin in the humanistic
movement of the fifteenth century. He is equally averse to either
consequence. Erudition spoils sport, stiffens style, breaks in upon
the pastimes of the principalities and papacies, which breed the lusts
on which an Aretino lives.

[Footnote 529: The adulation with which all the chief literary men of
Italy greeted Aretino, is quite incredible. One must read their
letters in the _Lettere all'Aretino_ to have any conception of it. See
in particular those of Varchi (_ib._ vol. ii. pp. 186-202), of Dolce
(vol. ii. pp. 277-295), of Paolo Giovio (vol. iii. pp. 59-64), of
Niccolò Martelli (vol. iii. pp. 116-125), of Annibale Caro (_ib._ p.
163), of Sperone (_ib._ pp. 324-330), of Firenzuola (_ib._ p. 345), of
Doni (vol. iv. p. 395). Molza, terrified by one of Aretino's threats,
cringes before him (vol. i. p. 340). Doni signs himself "Il Doni
dell'Aretino," and Vergerio, Bishop of Capo d'Istria, "Il Vescovo
dell'Aretino." Even the excellent Bishop of Fossombrone pays him
courtly compliments (vol. ii. pp. 61-67). The pitch attained by these
flatteries may be understood from this opening of a letter: "Bella
armonia, e soave concento, dovea essere nel cielo, Signor Pietro
divino, e fra le stelle amiche, il dì, che Iddio e la Natura di voi
fece altero dono a questa nostra etade," etc. _ad. inf._ (vol. iv. p.
269). Here is another fragment: "Manifestamente si vede e si conosce
che da Iddio per conservazione de la sua gloria e per utilità del
mondo v'abbi fra tanti avversari," etc. (vol. iv. p. 398).]

[Footnote 530: _Lettere_, v. 184. The above is only a condensed
paraphrase of a very long tirade.]

[Footnote 531: _Lettere_, ii. 242.]

[Footnote 532: _Lettere_, i. 123.]

[Footnote 533: _Lettere_, ii. 182.]

[Footnote 534: _Lettere_, i. 210.]

[Footnote 535: _Lettere_, i. 143.]

It was Aretino's boast that he composed as fast as the pen would move
across the paper, and that his study contained no books of
reference--nothing but the quire of paper and the bottle of ink, which
were necessary to immortalize the thick-crowding fancies of his brain.
His comedy of the _Filosofo_ was written in ten mornings; the
_Talanta_ and the _Ipocrita_ in "the hours robbed from sleep during
perhaps twenty nights."[536] Referring to his earlier fertility in
1537, he says:[537] "Old age begins to stupefy my brains, and love,
which ought to wake them up, now sends them off to sleep. I used to
turn out forty stanzas in a morning; now I can with difficulty produce
one. It took me only seven mornings to compose the _Psalms_; ten for
the _Cortigiana_ and the _Marescalco_; forty-eight for the two
_Dialogues_; thirty for the _Life of Christ_." The necessary
consequences of this haste are discernible in all his compositions.
Aretino left nothing artistically finished, nothing to which it is now
possible to point in justification of his extraordinary celebrity. His
sonnets are below contempt. Frigid, inharmonious, pompous, strained,
affected, they exhibit the worst vices to which this species of poetry
is liable. His _Capitoli_, though he compared them to "colossal
statues of gold or silver, where I have carved the forms of Julius, a
Pope, Charles, an Emperor, Catherine, a Queen, Francesco Maria, a
Duke, with such art that the outlines of their inner nature are
brought into relief, the muscles of their will and purpose are shown
in play, the profiles of their emotions are thrown into
salience"[538]--these _Capitoli_ will not bear comparison for one
moment with Berni's. They are coarse and strident in style, threadbare
in sentiment, commonplace in conception, with only one eminent
quality, a certain gross prolific force, a brazen clash and clangor of
antithesis, to compensate for their vulgarity. Yet, such as they are,
the _Capitoli_ must be reckoned the best of his compositions in verse.
Of his comedies I have already spoken. These will always be valuable
for their lively sketches of contemporary manners, their free satiric
vein of humor. The _Dialoghi_, although it is scarcely possible to
mention them in a decent book of history, are distinguished by the
same qualities of veracity, acumen, prolific vigor, animal spirits,
and outspokenness. Aretino's religious works, it need hardly be said,
are worthless or worse. Impudent romances, penned by one of the most
unscrupulous of men, frankly acknowledged by their author to be a
tissue of "poetical lies," we are left to marvel how they could have
deceived the judgment and perverted the taste of really elevated
natures.[539] That the Marchioness of Pescara should have hailed the
coarse fictions of the Life of S. Catherine, which Aretino confessed
to have written out of his own head, as a work of efficient piety,
remains one of the wonders of that extraordinary age.

[Footnote 536: _Lettere_, iii. 84. Letter at the end of the

[Footnote 537: _Lettere_, i. 99.]

[Footnote 538: _Lettere_, vi. 4.]

[Footnote 539: See _Lettere_, ii. 168, iii. 169, for his method of
composing these books.]

What then, it may finally be asked, was Aretino's merit as an author?
Why do we allude to him at all in writing the history of
sixteenth-century literature? The answer can be given in two
words--originality and independence. It was no vain boast of Aretino
that he trusted only to nature and mother-wit. His intellectual
distinction consisted precisely in this confidence and self-reliance,
at a moment when the literary world was given over to pedantic
scruples and the formalities of academical prescription. Writing
without the fear of pedagogues before his eyes--seeking, as he says,
relief, expression, force, and brilliancy of phrase, he produced a
manner at once singular and attractive which turned to ridicule the
pretensions of the purists. He had the courage of his personality, and
stamped upon his style the very form and pressure of himself. As a
writer, he exhibited what Machiavelli demanded from the man of
action--_virtù_, or the virility of self-reliance. That was the secret
of his success. The same audacity and independence characterize all
his utterances of opinion--his criticisms of art and literature--his
appreciation of natural beauty. In some of the letters written to
painters and sculptors, and in a description of a Venetian sunset
already quoted in this book, we trace the dawnings of a true and
natural school of criticism, a forecast of the spontaneity of Diderot
and Henri Beyle. This naturalness of expression did not save Aretino
from glaring bad taste. His letters and his dedicatory introductions
abound in confused metaphors, extravagant _concetti_, and artificial
ornaments. It seems impossible for him to put pen to paper without
inventing monstrous and ridiculous periphrases. Still the literary
impropriety, which would have been affectation in any one else, and
which became affectation in his imitators, was true to the man's
nature. He could not be true to himself without falseness of
utterance, because there was in him an inherent insincerity, and this
was veiled by no scholastic accuracy or studied purity of phrase.

Much of the bad taste of the later Renaissance (the tropes of Marini
and the absurdities of _seicentismo_) may be ascribed to the
fascination exercised by this strange combination of artificiality and
naturalness in a style remarkable for vigor. Who, for instance does
not feel that the mannerism of our euphuistic prosaists is shadowed
forth in the following passage from the introduction to the
_Talanta_?[540] The Prologue, on the drawing of the curtain, takes
the audience into his confidence, and tells them that he long had
hesitated which of the Immortal Gods to personate. Mars, Jupiter,
Phoebus, Venus, Mercury, and all the Pantheon in succession were
rejected, for different appropriate reasons, till the God of Love
appeared. "When at last it came to Cupid's turn, I immediately said
Yes! and having so assented, I felt wings growing at my shoulders, the
quiver at my side, the bow within my hands. In a moment I became all
steel, all fire; and eager to be ware what things are done in love, I
cast a glance upon the crowd of lovers; whence I soon could see who
has the rendezvous, who is sent about his business, who prowls around
his mistress' house, who enters by the door, who clambers up the
walls, who scales the rope, who jumps from the window, who hides
himself within a tub, who takes the cudgel, who gets a gelding for his
pains, who is stowed away by the chambermaid, who is kicked out by the
serving-man, who goes mad with anxiety, who bursts with passion, who
wastes away in gazing, who cuts snooks at hope, who lets himself be
hoodwinked, who spends a fortune on his mistress to look grand, who
robs her for a freak, who saps her chastity with threats, who conjures
her with prayers, who blabs of his success, who hides his luck, who
bolsters up his vaunt with lies, who dissembles the truth, who extols
the flame that burns him, who curses the cause of his heart's
conflagration, who cannot eat for grief, who cannot sleep for joy, who
compiles sonnets, who scribbles billets-doux, who dabbles in
enchantments, who renews assaults, who takes counsel with bawds, who
ties a favor on his arm, who mumbles at a flower the wench has
touched, who twangles the lute, who hums a glee, who thrusts his rival
through the body, who gets killed by his competitors, who eats his
heart out for a mylady, who dies of longing for a strumpet. When I
understood the things aforesaid, I turned round to these female
firebrands, and saw how the devil (to chastise them for the perverse
ways they use toward men who serve them, praise them, and adore them)
gives them up, easy victims, to a pedant, a plebeian, a simpleton, a
loon, a groom, a graceless clown, and to a certain mange that catches

[Footnote 540: I have purposely chosen an extract where the style is
keen and mobile. Had I taken examples from the Letters, I could have
produced a far closer parallel to Lilly's rhetoric.]

Aretino congregated round him a whole class of literary Bohemians,
drawing forth the peccant humors of more than one Italian city, and
locating these greedy adventurers in Venice as his satellites. It is
enough to mention Niccolò Franco, Giovanni Alberto Albicante, Lorenzo
Veniero, Doni, Lodovico Dolce. They were, most of them, hack writers,
who gained a scanty livelihood by miscellaneous work for the
booksellers and by selling dedications to patrons. More or less
successfully, they carried on the trade invented and developed by
Aretino; remaining on terms of intimacy with him, at first as friends
or secretaries, afterwards as enemies and rivals. We have already seen
what use was made of Albicante for the mutilation of Berni's
_Innamoramento_. This poetaster was a native of Milan, who published a
history of the war in Piedmont, which Aretino chose to ridicule in one
of his _Capitoli_.[541] Albicante replied with another poem in _terza
rima_, and Aretino seems to have perceived that he had met a worthy
adversary. It was Albicante's glory to be called _furibondo_ and
_bestiale_. He affected an utter indifference to consequences, an
absolute recklessness concerning what he did and said. Whether Aretino
was really afraid of him, or whether he wished to employ him in the
matter of Berni's _Innamoramento_, is not certain. At any rate, he
made advances to Albicante in a letter which begins: "My brother, the
rage of poets is but a frenzy of stupidity." The antagonists were
reconciled, and the Academy of the Intronati at Siena thought this
event worthy of commemoration in a volume: "Combattimento poetico del
divino Aretino e del bestiale Albicante occorso sopra la Guerra di
Piemonte, e la pace loro celebrata nella Accademia de gli Intronati a

[Footnote 541: See the article on Albicante in Mazzuchelli's
_Scrittori Italiani_, vol. i.]

Niccolò Franco was a native of Benevento, whom Aretino took into his
service, as a kind of secretary.[542] Being deficient in scholarship,
he needed a man capable of supplying him with Greek and Latin
quotations, and who could veneer his coarse work with a show of
humanistic erudition. Franco undertook the office; and it is probable
that some of Aretino's earlier works of piety and learning--the
_Genesis_, for instance--issued from this unequal collaboration. But
their good accord did not last long. Franco proved to be a ruffian of
even fiercer type than his master. If Aretino kept a literary poignard
in the scabbard, ready to strike when his utility demanded, Franco
went about the world with unsheathed dagger, stabbing for the pleasure
of the sport. "I would rather lose a dinner," he writes, "than omit to
fire my pen off when the fancy takes me." The two men could not dwell
together in union. When Aretino published the first series of his
letters, Franco issued a rival volume, in the last epistle of which,
addressed to Envy, he made an attack on his patron. Ambrogio degli
Eusebi, an _âme damnée_ of the Aretine, about whom many scurrilous
stories were told, stabbed Franco, while Aretino published invective
after invective against him in the form of letters. Franco left
Venice, established himself for a while at Casale in the lordship of
Montferrat, opened a school at Mantua, and ran a thousand infamous
adventures, pouring forth satirical sonnets all the while at Aretino.
In the course of his wanderings, he completed a Latin commentary on
the _Priapea_. These two works together--the centuries of sonnets
against Aretino, and the Priapic lucubrations--obtained a wide
celebrity. Speaking of the book, Tiraboschi is compelled to say that
"few works exist which so dishonor human nature. The grossest
obscenities, the most licentious evil-speaking, the boldest contempt
of princes, Popes, Fathers of the Council, and other weighty
personages, are the gems with which he adorned his monument of
perverse industry." Franco proved so obnoxious to polite society that
he was at last taken and summarily hanged in 1569. The curious point
about this condemnation of a cur is, that he was in no whit worse than
many other scribblers of the day. But he made more noise; he had not
the art to rule society like Aretino; he committed the mistake of
trusting himself to the perilous climates of Lombardy and Rome. His
old master drove him out of Venice, and the unlucky reprobate paid
the penalty of his misdeeds by becoming the scapegoat for men whom he

[Footnote 542: For what follows see Tiraboschi, tom. vii. part 3, lib.

Doni began his Venetian career as a friend of Aretino, whose companion
he was in the famous Academy of the Pellegrini. They quarreled over a
present sent to Doni by the Duke of Urbino, and the bizarre Florentine
passed over to the ranks of Aretino's bitterest enemies. In 1556 he
declared war, with a book entitled "Terremoto del Doni Fiorentino."
The preface was addressed to "the infamous and vicious Pietro Aretino,
the source and fountain of all evil, the stinking limb of public
falsehood, and true Antichrist of our century." Soon after the
appearance of this volume, followed Aretino's death. But Doni pursued
his animosity beyond the grave, and was instrumental in causing his
rival's writings to be subjected to ecclesiastical interdiction.

We tire of these low literary quarrels. Yet they form an integral part
of the history of Italian civilization; and the language of invective
used in them, originating with Aretino and improved upon by Doni and
Franco, became the model of vituperative style in Europe. Doni's
"Earthquake, with the Ruin of a great Bestial Colossus, the Antichrist
of our age," brings to mind a score of pamphlets, published in Europe
during the conflict of the Church with Reformation. We find an echo of
its strained metaphors in the polemical writings of Bruno and
Campanella. The grotesque manner of the seventeenth century begins
with Aretino and his satellites, just as its far-fetched conceits may
be traced in the clear language of Guarini. Gongora, Marini, Euphues,
and the _Précieuses Ridicules_ of the Hôtel Rambouillet are
contained, as it were, in germ among this little knot of refugees at
Venice, who set their wits against the academical traditions of pure
Italian taste.

A characteristic legend is told of Aretino's death. Two of his sisters
kept, it is said, a house of ill fame; and the story runs that he died
of immoderate laughter, flinging himself backward in his chair and
breaking his neck, on hearing some foul jest reported by them. It is
difficult to believe that this tale has any foundation in fact. We
must take it as a scurrilous invention, proving the revolution of
public opinion, which since his books had been put upon the Index in
1559, undoubtedly took place. Of like tenor is the epitaph which was
never really placed upon his grave:[543]

    Qui giace l'Aretin poeta tosco,
      Che disse mal d'ognun fuorchè di Cristo,
      Scusandosi col dir: non lo conosco.

[Footnote 543: These lines have been, without authority, ascribed to
Giovio; they may thus be rendered:

    Here lieth Aretine, in prose and poem
      Who spake such ill of all the world but Christ,
      Pleading for this neglect, I do not know him.

Giovio, we may remember, styled Aretino _divino_, _divinissimo_,
_unichissimo_, _precellentissimo_, in his letters.]

His features, though formed upon a large and not ignoble type, bore in
later life a mixed expression of the wolf and the fox; nor was it
without oblique satire that the engraver of his portrait, Giuseppe
Patrini, surrounded the medallion with a wolf's hide, the grinning
snarl and slanting eyes of the brute mimicking the man's physiognomy.
It was a handsome face, no doubt, in youth, when, richly attired in
the satin mantle cut for him by a bishop, and mounted on his white
charger, he scoured the streets of Reggio at Giovanni de' Medici's
side, curling his blue-black beard, and fixing his bold bright eyes
upon the venal beauties they courted in company. But the thick lips
and open sensual mouth, the distended nostrils, and the wicked puckers
of the wrinkles round his eyes and nose, show that the beast of prey
and appetite had been encouraged through a life of self-indulgence,
until the likeness of humanity yielded to victorious animalism. The
same face, at once handsome and bestial, never to be forgotten after a
first acquaintance, leans out, in the company of Sansovino and Titian,
from the bronze door of the Sacristy in S. Mark's Church.[544] The
high relief is full of life and movement, one of Sansovino's
masterpieces. And yet it strikes one here with even greater
strangeness than the myths of Ganymede and Leda on the portals of S.
Peter's at Rome.

[Footnote 544: Among the many flatteries addressed to Aretino none is
more laughable than a letter (_Lettere all'Aretino_, vol. iii. p. 175)
which praises his physical beauty in most extravagant terms: "Most
divine Lord Peter; if, among the many and so lovely creatures that
swinish Nature sends into this worst of worlds, you alone are of such
beauty and incomparable grace that you combine all qualities the human
frame can boast of: for the which cause there is no need to wonder
that Titian, when he seeks to paint a face that has in it true beauty,
uses his skilled brush in only drawing you," etc. etc. The period is
too long to finish.]

Aretino is, in truth, not the least of the anomalies which meet us
everywhere in the Italian Renaissance. Was he worse, was he not even
in some respects better than his age? How much of the repulsion he
inspires can be ascribed to altered taste and feeling? To what extent
was the legend of the man, so far as this is separable from the
testimony of his writings, made black by posthumous malevolence and
envy? These are the questions which rise in our mind when we reflect
upon the incidents of his extraordinary career, and calmly estimate
his credit with contemporaries. The contradictions of the epoch were
concentrated in his character. He was a professed Christian of the
type formed by Rome before the Counter-Reformation. He helped the
needy, tended the sick, dowered orphans, and kept open house for
beggars. He was the devoted friend of men like Titian, a sincere lover
of natural and artistic beauty, an acute and enthusiastic critic. At
the same time he did his best to corrupt youth by painting vice in
piquant colors. He led a life of open and voluptuous debauchery. He
was a liar, a bully, a braggart, venomous in the pursuit of private
animosities, and the remorseless foe of weaker men who met with his
displeasure. From the conditions of society which produced Cesare and
Lucrezia Borgia, Pier Luigi Farnese and Gianpaolo Baglioni, it was no
wonder that a writer resolved on turning those conditions to account,
should have arisen. The credit of originality, independence,
self-reliant character--of what Machiavelli called _virtù_--does
certainly belong to him. It is true that he extracted the means of a
luxurious existence from patrons upon whom he fawned. Yet he was
superior to the common herd of courtiers, in so far as he attached
himself to no master, and all his adulation masked a battery of
menaces. The social diseases which emasculated men of weaker fiber, he
turned to the account of his rapacious appetites. His force consisted
in the clear notion he had formed of his own aim in life, and the
sagacity with which he used the most efficient means for attaining it.
The future, whether of reputation or of literary fame, had no
influence over his imagination. He resolved to enjoy the present, and
he succeeded beyond expectation. Corruption is itself a kind of
superiority, when it is consummate, cynical, self-conscious. It
carries with it its own clairvoyance, its own philosophy of life, its
own good sense. More than this, it imposes on opinion and fascinates
society. Aretino did not suffer from a divided will. He never halted
between two courses, but realized the ideal of the _perfettamente
tristo_. He lived up to Guicciardini's conception of the final motive,
which may be described as the cult of self. Sneering at all men less
complete in purpose than himself, he disengaged his conduct from
contemporary rules of fashion; dictated laws to his betters in birth,
position, breeding, learning, morals, taste; and vindicated his
virility by unimpeded indulgence of his personal proclivities. He was
the last, the most perfect, if also the most vitiated product of
Renaissance manners. In the second half of the sixteenth century, when
hypocrisy descended like a cloud upon the ineradicable faults of
Italy, there was no longer any possibility for the formation of a hero
after Aretino's type.

Thus at the close of any estimate of Aretino, we are forced to do
justice to the man's vigor. It is not for nothing that even a debased
society bows to a dictatorship so autocratic; nor can eminence be
secured, even among the products of a decadent civilization, by
undiluted defects. Aretino owed his influence to genuine
qualities--to the independence which underlay his arrogance, to the
acute common sense which almost justified his vanity, to the
outspokenness which made him satirize the vices that he shared and
illustrated.[545] We have abundant and incontrovertible testimony to
the fact that his _Dialoghi_, when they were first published, passed
for powerful and drastic antidotes to social poisons[546]; and it is
clear that even his religious works were accepted by the pious world
as edifying. The majority of his contemporaries seem to have beheld in
him the fearless denouncer of ecclesiastical and civil tyrants, the
humble man's friend, and the relentless detective of vice. The
indescribable nastiness of the _Dialoghi_, the false feeling of the
_Vita di S. Catherina_, which makes us turn with loathing from their
pages, did not offend the taste of his century. While, therefore, he
comprehended and expressed his age in its ruffianism and
dissoluteness, he stood outside it and above it, dealing haughtily and
like a potentate with evils which subdued less hardened spirits, and
with personages before whom his equals groveled. We must not suffer
our hatred of his mendacity, uncleanliness, brutality, and arrogance
to blind us to the elements of strength and freedom which can be
discerned in him.[547]

[Footnote 545: I should not be surprised to see an attempt soon made
to whitewash Aretino. Balzac, in his _Catherine de Médicis_, has
already indicated the line to be followed: "L'Arétin, l'ami de Titien
et le Voltaire de son siècle, a, de nos jours, un renom en complète
opposition avec ses oeuvres, avec son caractère, et que lui vaut une
débauche d'esprit en harmonie avec les écrits de ce siècle, où le
drolatique était en honneur, où les reines et les cardinaux écrivaient
des contes, dits aujourd'hui licentieux."]

[Footnote 546: I will only refer to a very curious epistle (_Lettere a
P. Aretino_, vol. iii. p. 193), which appears to me genuine, in which
Aretino is indicated as the poor man's friend against princely
tyrants; and another from Daniello Barbaro (_ibid._ p. 217), in which
the Dialogue on Courts is praised as a handbook for the warning and
instruction of would-be courtiers. The Pornographic Dialogues made
upon society the same impression as Zola's _Nana_ is now making,
although it is clear to us that they were written with a licentious,
and not an even ostensibly scientific, intention.]

[Footnote 547: While these sheets are passing through the press, I see
announced a forthcoming work by Antonio Virgili, _Francesco Berni con
nuovi documenti_. We may expect from this book more light upon
Aretino's relation to the Tuscan poet.]



     Frivolity of Renaissance Literature--The Contrast presented
     by Machiavelli--His Sober Style--Positive Spirit--The
     Connection of his Works--Two Men in Machiavelli--His
     Political Philosophy--The _Patria_--Place of Religion and
     Ethics in his System--Practical Object of his
     Writings--Machiavellism--His Conception of Nationality--His
     Relation to the Renaissance--Contrast between Machiavelli
     and Guicciardini--Guicciardini's Doctrine of
     Self-interest--The Code of Italian Corruption--The
     Connection between these Historians and the
     Philosophers--General Character of Italian Philosophy--The
     Middle Ages in Dissolution--Transition to Modern Thought and
     Science--Humanism counterposed to
     Scholasticism--Petrarch--Pico--Dialogues on
     Ethics--Importance of Greek and Latin Studies--Classical
     substituted for Ecclesiastical Authority--Platonism at
     Florence--Ficino--Translations--New Interest in the Problem
     of Life--Valla's Hedonism--The Dialogue _De
     Voluptate_--Aristotle at Padua and Bologna--Arabian and
     Greek Commentators--Life of Pietro Pomponazzi--His Book on
     Immortality--His Controversies--Pomponazzi's
     Standpoint--Unlimited Belief in Aristotle--Retrospect over
     the Aristotelian Doctrine of God, the World, the Human
     Soul--Three Problems in the Aristotelian
     System--Universals--The First Period of Scholastic
     Speculation--Individuality--The Second Period of
     Scholasticism--Thomas Aquinas--The Nature of the Soul--New
     Impulse given to Speculation by the
     Renaissance--Averroism--The Lateran Council--Is the Soul
     Immortal?--Pomponazzi reconstructs Aristotle's Doctrine by
     help of Alexander Aphrodisius--The Soul is Material and
     Mortal--Man's Place in Nature--Virtue is the End of
     Man--Pomponazzi on Miracles and Spirits--His Distinction
     between the Philosopher and the Christian--The Book on
     Fate--Pomponazzi the Precursor--Coarse Materialism--The
     School of Cosenza--Aristotle's Authority
     Rejected--Telesio--Campanella--Bruno--The Church stifles
     Philosophy in Italy--Italian Positivism.

The literature which has occupied us during the last nine chapters, is
a literature of form and entertainment. Whether treating chivalrous
romance, or the Arcadian ideal, or the conditions of contemporary
life, these poets, playwrights and novelists had but one serious
object--the perfection of their art, the richness and variety of their
pictures. In the conscious pursuit of beautiful form, Poliziano and
Ariosto, Bembo and Berni, Castiglione and Firenzuola, Il Lasca and
Molza, were alike earnest. For the rest, they sought to occupy their
own leisure, and to give polite society the pastime of refined
amusement. The content of this miscellaneous literature was of far
less moment to the authors and their audience than its mode of
presentation. Even when they undertook some theme involving the
realities of life, they dwelt by preference upon externals. In the
_Cortegiano_ and _Galateo_, for example, conduct is studied from an
æsthetical far more than from a moral point of view. The questions
which stirred and divided literary coteries, were questions of
scholarship, style, language. Matter is everywhere subordinated to
expression; the writer's interest in actuality is slight; the power or
the inclination to think is inferior to the faculty for harmonious
construction. These characteristics of literature in general, render
the exceptions noticeable, and force me, at some risk of repetition,
to devote a chapter to those men in whom the speculative vigor of the
race was concentrated. These were the historians and a small band of
metaphysicians, who may be fitly represented by a single philosopher,
Pietro Pomponazzi. Of the Florentine historiographers, from Villani to
Guicciardini, I have already treated at some length in a previous
portion of this work.[548] I shall therefore confine myself to
resuming those points in which Machiavelli and Guicciardini uttered
the reflections of their age on statecraft and the laws that govern
political life.

[Footnote 548: _Age of the Despots_, chaps. v. and vi.]

When we compare Machiavelli with his contemporaries, we are struck by
his want of sympathy with the prevalent artistic enthusiasms. Far from
being preoccupied with problems of diction, he wrote with the sole
object of making what he had to say plain. The result is that, without
thinking about expression, Machiavelli created Italian prose anew, and
was the first to form a monumental modern style. Language became,
beneath his treatment, a transparent and colorless medium for
presenting thoughts to the reader's mind; and his thoughts were always
removed as little as possible from the facts which suggested them. He
says himself that he preferred in all cases the essential reality of a
fact to its modification by fancy or by theory.[549] His style is,
therefore, the reverse of that which the purists cultivated. They
uttered generalities in ornamented and sonorous phrases. Machiavelli
scorned ornament, and ignored the cadence of the period. His boldest
abstractions are presented with the hard outline and relief of
concrete things. Each sentence is a crystal, formed of few but precise
words by a spontaneous process in his mind. It takes shape from the
thought; not from any preconceived type of rhythm, to which the
thought must be accommodated. It is perfect or imperfect according as
the thinking process has been completely or incompletely victorious
over the difficulties of language. It is figurative only when the fact
to be enforced derives new energy from the imagination. Beauty is
never sought, but comes unbidden, as upon the limbs and muscles of an
athlete, whose aim has been to gain agility and strength. These
qualities render Machiavelli's prose a model worthy of imitation by
all who study scientific accuracy.

[Footnote 549: "Mi è parso più conveniente andare dietro alla verità
effettuale della cosa che all'immaginazione di essa" (_Principe_, cap.

The style is the man; and Machiavelli's style was the mirror of his
mind and character. While the literary world echoed to the cry of Art
for Art, he followed Science for the sake of Science. Occupied with
practical problems, smiling at the supra-mundane aspirations of the
middle ages, scorning the æsthetical ideals of the Renaissance, he
made the political action of man, _l'homme politique_, the object of
exclusive study. His resolute elimination of what he considered
irrelevant or distracting circumstances from this chosen field of
research, justifies our placing him among the founders or precursors
of the modern scientific method. We may judge his premises
insufficient, his conclusions false; but we cannot mistake the
positive quality of his mind in the midst of a rhetorical and artistic

There is a strict link of connection between Machiavelli's works.
These may be divided into four classes--official, historical,
speculative and literary. To the first belongs his correspondence with
the Florentine Government; to the second, his Florentine History and
several minor studies, the _Vita di Castruccio_, the _Ritratti_, and
the _Metodo tenuto dal Duca Valentino_; to the third, his _Discorsi_,
_Principe_, _Arte della Guerra_ and _Discorso sopra la Riforma di
Firenze_; to the fourth, his comedies, poems, novel of _Belfagor_,
and _Descrizione della Peste_. The familiar letters should be used as
a key to the more intimate understanding of his character. They
illustrate some points in his political philosophy, explain his
personal motives, and throw much light upon his purely literary
compositions. We learn from them to know him as a friend, the father
of a family, the member of a little social circle, and finally as the
ever-restless aspirant after public employment. Valuable as these
letters are for the student of Machiavelli's writings, his private
reputation would have gained by their destruction. They show that the
man was inferior to the thinker. In spite of his logical consistency
of intellect, we become convinced, while reading them, that there were
two persons in Machiavelli. The one was a faithful servant of the
State, a student of books and human nature, the inaugurator of
political philosophy for modern Europe. The other was a boon
companion, stooping to low pleasures, and soiling his correspondence
with gossip which breathes the tainted atmosphere of Florentine vice.
These letters force us to reject the theory that he wrote his comedies
with any profound ethical purpose, or that he personally abhorred the
moral corruption of which he pointed out the weakening results for
Italy. The famous epistle from San Casciano paints the man in his two
aspects--at one moment in a leathern jerkin, playing games of hazard
with the butcher, or scouring the streets of Florence with a Giuliano
Brancaccio; at another, attired in senatorial robes, conversing with
princes, approaching the writers of antiquity on equal terms, and
penning works which place him on a level with Ariosto and Galileo. The
second of these Machiavellis claims our exclusive attention at the
present moment. Yet it is needful to remember that the former existed,
and was no less real. Only by keeping this in mind can we avoid the
errors of those panegyrists who credit the _Mandragola_ with a
didactic purpose, and refuse to recognize the moral bluntness betrayed
in Machiavelli's theorization of human conduct. The man who thought
and felt in private what his familiar letters disclose, was no right
censor of the principles that rule society. We cannot trust his moral
tact or taste.

Machiavelli was not a metaphysician. He started with the conception of
the State as understood in Italy. His familiarity with the Latin
classics, and his acquaintance with the newly-formed monarchies of
Europe, caused him, indeed, to modify the current notion. But he did
not inquire into the final cause of political communities, or present
to his own mind a clear definition of what was meant by the phrase
_patria_. We are aware of a certain hesitancy between the ideas of the
Commune and the race, the State and the Government, which might have
been removed by a more careful preliminary analysis. Between the Roman
Republic, on the one hand, and the modern nation, on the other, we
always find an Italian city. From this point of view, it is to be
regretted that he did not appropriate Plato's _Republic_ or
Aristotle's _Politics_.[550] He might by such a course of study have
avoided the severance of politics from ethics, which renders his
philosophy unnatural. We must, however, remember that he did not
propose to plan a scientific system. His works have a practical aim in
view. They are directed toward the grand end of Italy's restoration
from weakness and degeneracy to a place among the powerful peoples of
the world. This purpose modifies them in the most minute particulars.
It is ever present to Machiavelli's mind. It makes his philosophy
assume the form of a critique. It explains the apparent discord
between the _Discorsi_ and the _Principe_. It enables us to comprehend
the nature of a patriotism which subordinates the interests of the
individual to the body politic, even though the State were in the
hands of an unscrupulous autocrat. The salvation of Italy, rather than
any metaphysical principle, is the animating motive of Machiavelli's
political writings. Yet we may note that if he had laid a more solid
philosophical basis, if he had striven more vigorously to work out his
own conception of the _patria_, and to understand the laws of national
health, instead of trusting to such occasional remedies as the almost
desperate state of Italy afforded, he would have deserved better of
his country and more adequately fulfilled his own end.

[Footnote 550: The section on the types of commonwealths in the
_Discorsi_ (cap. ii.) comes straight from Polybius. But I am not aware
of any signs in Machiavelli of a direct study of the elder Greek
philosophical writings.]

Though Machiavelli had not worked out the conception of a nation as an
organic whole, he was penetrated with the thought, familiar to his
age, that all human institutions, like men, have a youth, a manhood,
and a period of decline. Looking round him, he perceived that Italy,
of all the European nations, had advanced farthest on the path of
dissolution. He calls the Italians the reproach and corruption of the
world--_la corruttela, il vituperio del mondo_. When he inquires into
the causes of this ruin, he is led to assign (i) the moral debasement
of his country to the Roman Church; (ii) her sloth and inefficiency in
warfare to the despots and the mercenaries; (iii) her inability to
cope with greater nations to the want of one controlling power in the
peninsula. A nation, he argues, cannot be a nation while divided into
independent and antagonistic States. It needs to be united under a
monarch like France, reduced beneath the sway of a presiding
commonwealth like ancient Rome, or connected in a federation like the
Swiss. This doctrine of the nation, or, to use his own phrase, of the
_patria_, as distinguished from the Commune and the Empire, was highly
original in Italy at the time when Machiavelli gave it utterance. It
contained the first logically reasoned aspiration after that
independence in unity, which the Italians were destined to realize
between the years 1858 and 1871. He may be said to have formed it by
meditating on the Roman historians, and by comparing Italy with the
nascent modern nations. The notion of ethnology did not enter into it
so much as the notion of political and social cohesion. Yet
nationality was not excluded; for he conceived of no power, whether
Empire or Church, above the people who had strength to define
themselves against their neighbors. To secure for the population of
the Italian peninsula that unity which he rightly considered essential
to the _patria_, and the want of which constituted their main
inferiority, was the object of all his speculations.

The word _patria_ sounds the keynote of his political Army, and a
patriot is synonymous for him with a completely virtuous man. All
energies, public and private, are only valuable in so far as they
build up the fabric of the commonwealth. Religion is good because it
sustains the moral fiber of the people. It is a powerful instrument in
the hands of a wise governor; and the best religion is that which
develops hardy and law-loving qualities. He criticises Christianity
for exalting contemplative virtues above the energies of practical
life, and for encouraging a spirit of humility. He sternly condemns
the Church because she has been unfaithful even to the tame ideal of
her saints, and has set an example of licentious living. Religion is
needed as the basis of morality; and morality itself must be
encouraged as the safeguard of that discipline which constitutes a
nation's vigor. A moralized race is stronger than a corrupt one,
because it has a higher respect for law and social order, because it
accepts public burdens more cheerfully, because it is more obedient to
military ordinances. Thus both religion and morality are means to the
grand end of human existence, which is strenuous life in a united
nation. I need hardly point out how this conception runs counter to
the transcendentalism of the Middle Ages.

Machiavelli admires the Germans for their discipline and sobriety,
which he ascribes to the soundness of their religious instincts.
France and Spain, he says, have been contaminated by the same
corrupting influence as Italy; but they owe their present superiority
to the fact of their monarchical allegiance. This opens a second
indictment against the Church. Not only has the Church demoralized the
people; but it is chiefly due to the ambition of the Popes that Italy
has never passed beyond the stage of conflict and disunion.

An important element in this conception of the _patria_ is that it
should be militant. Races that have ceased from war, are on the road
to ruin; and only those are powerful which train the native population
to arms. The feebleness of Italy can be traced to the mercenary
system, introduced by despots adopted by commercial republics, and
favored by ecclesiastics. If the Italians desire to recover freedom,
they must form a national militia; and this can best be done by
adapting the principles of the Roman army to modern requirements. The
_Art of War_ is a development of this theme. At its close, Machiavelli
promises the scepter of Italy, together with the glory of creating
Italian nationality, to any State clear-sighted and self-denying
enough to arm its citizens and take the lead in the peninsula. That
State, he says, shall play the part of Macedon. Reading the peroration
of the _Art of War_ by the light of recent history, its paragraphs
sound like a prophecy. What Machiavelli there promised, has been
achieved, much in the way he indicated, by Piedmont, the Macedon of
United Italy.

When Machiavelli discusses the forms of constitutions, he is clearly
thinking of cities rather than of nations as we understand them. He
has no conception of representative government, but bases all his
observations on the principle of burghership. There is no sound
intermediate, he says, between a commonwealth and a principality. In
the former, the burghers have equal rights. In the latter there will
be a hierarchy of classes. Though his sympathies are with the former
(since he holds that the equality of the citizens is the best
safeguard for the liberties and law abiding virtues of the State), he
is yet by no means unfavorable to despotism. The decadence of Italy,
indeed, had gone so far that her best chance of restoration depended
on a prince. Therefore, while he suggests measures for converting
despotic States into republics by crushing the aristocracy, and for
creating principalities out of free commonwealths by instituting an
order of nobles, he regards the latter as the easier task of the two.
Upon such topics we must always bear in mind that what he says is
partly speculative, and partly meant to meet the actual conditions of
Italian politics. The point of view is never simply philosophical nor
yet simply practical. So long as the great end could be achieved, and
a strong military power could rise in Italy, he is indifferent to the
means employed. The peroration of the _Art of War_ is an appeal to
either prince or republic. The peroration of the _Riforma di Firenze_
is an appeal to a patriotic Nomothetes. He there says to Clement: You
have one of those singular opportunities offered to you, which confer
undying glory on a mortal; you may make Florence free, and, by wise
regulations, render her the bulwark of renascent Italy. The peroration
of the _Principe_ is an appeal to an ambitious autocrat. Follow the
suggestions of ancient and contemporary history, which all point to
the formation of a native army. Comprehend the magnitude of the task,
and use the right means for executing it; and you will earn the fame
of restoring your country to her place among the nations.

The case of Italy is almost desperate. Yet there is still hope. A
prudent lawgiver may infuse life into the decaying commonwealth of
Florence. A spirited despot may succeed in bringing the whole
peninsula by force of arms beneath his sway. Machiavelli will not
scrutinize the nature of the remedy too closely. He is ready to
sacrifice his republican sympathies, and to welcome the saviour who
comes even in the guise of Cesare Borgia. When the salvation of the
_patria_ is at stake, none but precisians can hesitate about the
choice of instruments.

This indifference to means, provided the end be secured, is
characteristic of the man. Machiavelli's Machiavellism consists in
regarding politics as a game of skill, where all ways are justified,
and fixity of purpose wins. He does not believe in Fortune, though he
admits the favorable circumstances which smoothed the way for men like
Cesare. With Juvenal, he says: _Nos te, nos facimus, Fortuna, deam_.
Again, he does not believe in Providence. Though a prophet speak with
the voice of God, he will not succeed unless, like Moses, he be
provided with a sword to ratify his revelation. History is a logical
sequence of events, the sole intelligible nexus between its several
links being the human will. Virtue is decision of character,
accompanied by intellectual sagacity; it is the strong man's
subordination of his passions, prejudices, predilections, energies, to
the chosen aim. We all admit that it is better to be good than bad.
Yet morality has little to do with political success. What lies in the
way of really great achievement, is the mediocrity of human nature.
Men will not be completely bad or perfectly good. They spoil their
best endeavors by vacillation and incompetence to guide their action
with regard to the sole end in view.

Enough has been said in different portions of this book about the
morality of Machiavelli's political essays. Yet this much may be here
repeated. Those who wish to understand it, must not forget the
Medieval background of the despots--Ezzelini, Visconti, Scaligeri,
Estensi, Carreresi--which lay behind Machiavelli. The sinfulness,
treason, masterful personality, Thyestean tragedies, enormous vices
and intolerable mischief of the Renaissance--all this was but a pale
reflex of the middle ages. In those earlier tyrants, the Centaur
progenitors of feebler broods, through generations in which men
gradually discriminated the twy-formed nature of their ancestry, the
lust and luxury of sin had been at their last apogee. _In istis
peccandi voluptas erat summa._ What followed in Machiavelli's age, was
reflection succeeding to action--evil philosophized in place of evil

Though Machiavelli perceived that the decadence of Italy was due to
bad education, corrupt customs, and a habit of irreligion, he did not
insist on the necessity of reformation. He was satisfied with invoking
a Dictator, and he counseled this Dictator to meet the badness of his
age with fraud and violence. Thus he based his hope of national
regeneration upon those very vices which he indicated as the cause of
national degeneracy. Whether we ascribe this error to the spirit of
the times in which he lived, or to something defective in his own
character, it is clear he had not grasped the fundamental principle of
righteousness, as that which can alone be safely trusted by a people
or its princes. Perhaps he thought that, for practical purposes, the
method of radical reformation was too tardy. Perhaps he despaired of
seeing it attempted. Of all Italian institutions, the Church, in his
opinion, was the most corrupted. Yet the Church held religious
monopoly, and controlled education. And the Church had severed
morality from religion, religion from the State; making both the
private concern of individuals between their conscience and their God.

Just as Machiavelli proved himself incapable of transcending the
corruption of his age, though he denounced it; so, while he grasped
the notion of a _patria_ superior to the commune, he was not able to
disengage his mind from the associations of Italian diplomacy. He
perceived that the _débris_ of medieval society in Italy--the Papacy,
the nobles, the _condottieri_--afforded no foundation for the State he
dreamed of building. He relied on the masses of the people as the only
sound constituent of his ideal _patria_. He foresaw a united nation,
to which the individual should devote himself, and which should absorb
the dispersed forces of the race. And yet he had not conceived of the
nation as a living whole, obeying its own laws of evolution and
expansion. He regarded the State as a mechanical or artificial
product, to be molded by the will of a firm ruler. In his theory there
is always a Nomothetes, a Dictator, the intervenient skill of a
constructor, whom he imagines capable of altering the conditions of
political existence by a _coup d'état_ or by a readjustment of
conflicting rights and interests. Even while praising the French
monarchy for its stability, in words that show a just appreciation of
constitutional government, he hypothesizes a lawgiver in the past.
_Chi ordinò quello stato, volle che quelli rè_--he who organized that
State, willed that those kings, etc. The _ordinò_ and _volle_ are both
characteristic of his habitual point of view. Probably this faith in
manipulation arose from his lifelong habit of regarding small
political communities, where change was easily effected. In his works
we do not gain any broad prospect from the vantage-ground of
comprehensive principles, but a minutely analytical discussion of
statecraft, based in the last resort upon the observation of decadent
Italian cities. The question always presents itself: how, given
certain circumstances, ought a republic or a prince to use them to the
best advantage? The deeper problem, how a nation stirred by some
impulse, which combines all classes in a common heroism or a common
animosity, must act, hardly occurs to his mind. England, with forces
intellectual, emotional and practical at fullest strain, in combat
with the Spanish tyranny, adopting a course of conduct which reveals
the nation to itself by the act of its instinctive will--such a phase
of the larger, more magnetic life of peoples, which Milton compared to
the new youth of the eagle, had not been observed by Machiavelli. The
German Reformation, the French Revolution, the American War of
Independence, might have taught him to understand that conception of
the modern nation which he had divined, but which the conditions of
his experience prevented his appropriating. Had he fully grasped it,
we can scarcely believe that the _Principe_ would have been written.
The good faith of that essay depends upon a misconception.

In like manner Machiavelli discerned the weaknesses of the Renaissance
without escaping from its enthusiasms. He despised the æsthetical
ideal of his age. He was willing to sacrifice form, beauty, rhythm,
the arts of culture and learned leisure, to stern matters of fact and
stringent discipline. Yet he believed as firmly as any humanist, that
the regeneration of his country must proceed from a revival of the
past. It is the loss of antique virtues that has enervated our
character, he cries. It is the neglect of historical lessons that
renders our policy so suicidal. We need to recover the Roman military
system, the Roman craft of conquest, the Roman pride and poverty, the
Roman subordination of the individual to the State. What we want is a
dictator or a lawgiver after the Roman fashion--a Romulus, a Numa, a
Camillus, a Coriolanus. The _patria_, as he imagines it, is less the
modern nation than the Roman Commonwealth before the epoch of the
Empire. This unquestioning belief in the efficacy of classical revival
finds vent, at the close of the _Arte della Guerra_, in a sentence
highly characteristic of the Renaissance. "This province, Italy," he
says, "seems made to give new birth to things dead, as we have seen in
poetry, in painting, and in sculpture." Hence, he argues, it may be
her vocation to bring back the military system and supremacy of
ancient Rome.

Thus, to resume what has been said, Machiavelli ascribed the weakness
of the Italians to their loss of morality; but he was not logical
enough to insist that their regeneration must begin with a religious
revolution. He foresaw the modern nation; but he attempted to
construct it on the outlines of antiquity. Believing that States might
be formed or reformed by ingenious manipulation of machinery, he
acquired no true notion of constitutional development or national
evolution. His neglect to base his speculations on a thorough-going
definition of the State and its relation to man as a social being,
caused him to assume a severance between ethics and politics, which no
sound philosophy of human life will warrant.

On what, then, if these criticisms are just, is founded his claim to
rank among the inaugurators of historical and political science? The
answer has been already given. It was not so much what he taught, as
the spirit in which he approached the problems of his inquiry, which
was scientific in the modern sense. Practical, sincere and positive,
Machiavelli never raises points deficient in actuality. He does not
invite us to sympathize with the emotions of a visionary, or to follow
the vagaries of a dreamer. All that he presents, is hard, tangible
fact, wrought into precise uncompromising argument, expressed in
unmistakably plain language. Not only do his works cast floods of
light upon Italian history; but they suggest questions of vital
importance, which can still be discussed upon the ground selected by
their author. They are, moreover, so penetrated with the passion of a
patriot, however mistaken in his plan of national reconstitution, that
our first sense of repulsion yields to a warmer feeling of admiration
for the man who, from the depths of despair, could thus hope on
against hope for his country.

Studying Guicciardini, we remain within the same sphere of
conceptions, limited by the conditions of Italian politics in the
beginning of the sixteenth century. There is no less stringency of
minute analysis, an even sharper insight into motives, an equal purity
and precision of language.[551] But the moral atmosphere is different.
The corruption which Machiavelli perceived and criticised, is now
accepted. In the place of desperate remedies suggested by the dread of
certain ruin, Guicciardini has nothing to offer but indifference and
self-adjustment to the exigencies of the moment. Machiavelli was a
visionary and an idealist in spite of his positive bias. Guicciardini
is a practical diplomatist, bent on saving his own State and fortune
from the wreck which he contemplated. What gives grandeur to
Machiavelli's speculation is the conception of the _patria_, superior
to the individual, demanding unlimited self-sacrifice, and repaying
the devotion of the citizens by strength in union. This idea has
disappeared in Guicciardini's writings. In its stead he offers us
self-interested egotism. Where Machiavelli wrote _patria_, he
substituted _il particolare_. It follows from this cold acquiescence
in a base theory of public conduct, adapted to a recognized state of
social anarchy, that Guicciardini's philosophy is far more immoral
than Machiavelli's. The _Ricordi_, in which, under the form of
aphorisms, he condensed the results of his experience and observation,
have been well described as the "code of Italian corruption."
Resistance has to be abandoned. Remedies are hopeless. Let us sit down
and calmly criticise the process of decay. A wise man will seek to
turn the worst circumstances to his own profit; and what remains for
political sagacity is the accumulation of wealth, honors, offices of
power on the ambitious individual.

[Footnote 551: I refer to the _Opere Inedite_. In the _Isteria
d'Italia_, Guicciardini's style is inferior to Machiavelli's.]

Machiavelli and Guicciardini had this in common, that their mental
attitude was analytical, positive, critically scientific. It negatived
the _à priori_ idealism of medieval political philosophy, and
introduced a just conception of the method of inquiry. This quality
connects them on the one hand with the practical politicians of their
age, and on the other with its representative thinkers in the field of

It is no part of my plan to attempt a general history of Italian
philosophy during the Renaissance period, or even to indicate its
leading moments. On the scale of my present work, any such endeavor
would of necessity be incomplete; for the material to be dealt with is
obscure, and the threads of thought to be interwoven are scattered,
requiring no little patience and no slight expenditure of exposition
on the part of one who seeks to place them in their proper relations.
Of philosophy, in the strict sense of the term, the Italian
Renaissance had not much to offer. We do not revert to that epoch,
expecting to meet with systematic theories of the universe, plausible
analyses of the laws of thought, or ingenious speculations upon the
nature of being. It is well known that the thinkers of the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries can scarcely claim to have done more than lead
the revolt of reason against scholastic tyranny and obsolete
authorities, appealing with often misdirected enthusiasm to original
sources, and suggesting theories and methods which, in the hands of
abler speculators, at a more fortunate epoch, generated the
philosophies of modern Europe. Yet even so the movement of thought in
Italy was of no slight moment, and the work accomplished deserves to
be recorded with more honor than it has hitherto received from the
historians of philosophy.

The Renaissance in general may be called the Middle Ages in
dissolution. That the period was transitional in its chief aspects,
has often already been insisted on. The massive fabrics of feudalism
and the Church were breaking up. The vast edifice of scholastic
theology was being undermined by men who had the energy to free
themselves from orthodox tradition, but scarcely force enough or
opportunity to mold the thought of the new age. The Italians who
occupied themselves with philosophical problems, from Petrarch to
Campanella, hold an intermediate place between the schoolmen and the
founders of modern metaphysics. They accomplish the transition from S.
Thomas and Occam to Bacon, Descartes and Spinoza. It is possible to
mark three phases in this process of transition, each of which was
necessary in the progress of the mind from theological ontology to
science and free speculation. The thinkers of the first stage began by
questioning the authority of dogma. Those of the second stage accepted
the authority of the ancients. Those of the third appealed to Nature
against ecclesiastical and classical authority alike. Humanism was
thus intermediate between scholasticism and what, for want of a more
definite phrase, may be termed rationalism. Succeeding to the
schoolmen, the scholars cleared the groundwork of philosophy of old
encumbrances, and reappropriated antique systems of thought. After
them, the schools of Lower Italy, including Telesio, Campanella and
Bruno, prepared the path to be immediately followed; with what profit
is apparent to the dullest intellect. Clearly, and beyond the
possibility of question, they propounded the main problems which have
agitated all the scientific schools of modern Europe. To them belongs
the credit of having first speculated knowledge and reality from no
external standpoint, but from the immediate consciousness. The
_Interrogatio Naturæ_ and the _Cogito, ergo sum_, which became the
watchwords of modern empiricism and rationalism, are theirs. But, at
the very moment when the Italians of the Revival had performed their
pioneering task-work, all vital vigor in the nation was extinguished
or suspended by the deadly influences of Spanish domination and Papal
terrorism.[552] It was left for other races to enter on the promised
land which they had conquered.

[Footnote 552: I cannot refrain from translating a paragraph in
Spaventa's Essay upon Bruno, which, no less truly than passionately,
states the pith of this Italian tragedy. "The sixteenth century was
the epoch, in which the human spirit burst the chains that up to then
had bound it, and was free. There is no more glorious age for Italy.
The heroes of thought and freedom, who then fought for truth, were
almost all her sons. They were persecuted and extinguished with sword
and fire. Would that the liberty of thought, the autonomy of the
reason, they gave to the other nations of Europe, had borne fruit in
Italy! From that time forward we remained as though cut off from the
universal life; it seemed as if the spirit which inspired the world
and pushed it onward, had abandoned us" (_Saggi di Critica_, Napoli,
1867, p. 140).]

Upon its first appearance, it was clear that humanism would run
counter to both currents of medieval thought, the orthodox and the
heretical, the Thomistic and Averroistic. Dante designed his epic in
accordance with the fixed outlines of Thomistic theology. The
freethinkers of the Lombard universities expressed a not uncertain
adhesion to the materialistic doctrines which passed for Averroism.
But Petrarch, the hero of the coming age, pronounced his contempt for
scholastic quibbles, and at the same time waged war against the
tenants of Averroes. He introduced a new spirit into philosophical
discussion, a new style of treatment, literary rather than scientific,
which tended to substitute humane culture for logical pedantry. The
departure from medieval lines of thought, thus signalized by Petrarch,
was followed by the students of the next two centuries. Questions
which had agitated Europe since the days of Roscelin, now seemed to
lose the interest of actuality. The distinctions of Nominalism and
Realism retained no attraction for men who were engaged in discovering
manuscripts, learning to write correct Latin, acquiring Greek, and
striving to penetrate the secret of antiquity. The very style of the
schoolmen became a byword for ineptitude and barbarism. It required no
little courage and a prestige as brilliant as Pico's to sustain the
cause of Albertus Magnus or Johannes Scotus.[553] Scholars of the type
of Poggio and Filelfo, Beccadelli and Poliziano, abhorred their
ponderous metaphysics, as though they were grotesque chimeras
generated by the indigestion of half-starved intellectual stomachs.
Orpheus had reappeared. He bade the world thenceforward move to music
and melodious rhythms both of thought and language. The barbarians
might harbor Mercury within their hearts, to quote Pico's apology;
they might display wisdom in unvarnished plainness; but what were
these claims worth in an age that required the lips rather than the
soul to be eloquent, and when a decorated fiction found more favor
than a naked truth? No more decided antithesis than that of scholastic
philosophy to the new classical ideal is conceivable.

[Footnote 553: _Epistolæ Angeli Poliziani_, lib. ix. p. 269 (ed.
Gryphius, 1533).]

Thus the first movement of the Revival implied an uncompromising
abandonment of medieval thought as worse than worthless. If men
educated by the humanistic method were to speculate, they would do so
upon lines different from those suggested by the schoolmen. Cicero and
Seneca became their models; and the rhetorical treatment of moral
topics passed muster with them for philosophy. A garrulous colloquial
skimming in fair Latin over the well-trodden ground of ethics
supplanted the endeavor to think strictly upon difficult subjects.
Much of this literature--the dialogues of Alberti, for example, and
Landino's Camaldolese Disputations--can still be read with profit. But
regarded from the point of view of systematic thought, it has slight
importance. We value it principally for the light it casts upon
contemporary manners and modes of opinion.

The study of Greek and Latin texts revealed a world to the Italians
far wider than the regions where the medieval mind had moved in narrow
limits. The immediate effect of this discovery was not, however,
wholly salutary. The ancients began to exercise a kind of despotism;
and a new authority, no less stringent than that of dogma, bound the
scholars of the Revival beneath the tyranny of classical names. It was
impossible for the intellect to free itself from fetters at a single
leap. This second servitude seemed destined to be even more pernicious
than the first; for as yet there was no criticism, and the
superincumbent masses of antique literature, extending from the
earliest dawn of Greek history to the latest commentators of Byzantium
and Ravenna, underwent but little process of sifting. It was enough
for the Italians of that epoch to assimilate. Nothing which bore the
stamp of antiquity came amiss to their omnivorous appetite.
Compilations from second or third sources were valued as equally
precious with original texts. The testimony of hearsay reporters
passed for conclusive evidence in matters of history. Masters in
philosophy were confounded with expositors, who flourished at the
distance of some centuries. Athens and Alexandria, Rome and
Constantinople, were indiscriminately regarded as a single Holy Land
of wisdom.

While this fermentation of assimilative erudition was still at its
height, Gemistos Plethon preached his Neo-platonic mysticism at
Florence; and the first attempt at a new philosophy for Western
Europe, independent of the schoolmen, uninfluenced by orthodoxy,
proceeded from the Medicean academy. The Platonism of Ficino and Pico,
we now know, was of a very mixed and ill-determined quality.
Uncontrolled by critical insight, and paralyzed by the prestige
attaching to antiquity, the Florentine school produced little better
than an unintelligent eclecticism. Their so-called philosophical
writings were commonplace-books of citations, anthologies of
ill-digested abstracts, in which Greek and Asiatic and Christian
opinions issued in an incoherent theosophy. It must be reckoned a
great misfortune for Italian thought that the Platonists were able to
approach the masterpieces of their Attic teacher through a medium of
Alexandrian and Byzantine enthusiasm. Had they been forced to attack
the "Republic" without the intervention of Plotinus and Gemistos, they
might have started on some fruitful line of speculation. They would at
least have perceived that Plato's theology formed a background to his
psychological, ethical, educational and political theories, instead of
fastening upon those visionary systems which his later Greek
expositors extracted from the least important portions of his works.
At the same time, this Neo-platonic mysticism was only too sympathetic
to the feebler pietism of the middle ages for men who had discovered
it, to doubt its inspiration.

What was finally accomplished for sound scholarship by Ficino, lay in
the direction, not of metaphysics or of history, but of translation.
The enduring value of Pico's work is due, not to his Quixotic quest of
an accord between Pagan, Hebrew and Christian traditions, but to the
noble spirit of confidence and humane sympathy with all great
movements of the mind, which penetrates it. If we cannot rate the
positive achievements of the Florentines in philosophy at a high
value, still the discussion of Platonic and Aristotelian doctrines
which their investigations originated, caused the text of the Greek
philosophers to be accurately examined for the first time in Western
Europe. Their theories, though devoid of originality and clogged at
every point with slavish reverence for classical authority, marked a
momentous deviation from the traditional methods of medieval

Thus a vast and tolerably accurate acquaintance with the chief
thinkers of antiquity, re-enforced by the translation of their
principal works, was the main outcome of the Platonic revival at
Florence. Uncritically, and with many a blundering divergence into the
uncongenial provinces of Oriental thought, the Italian intellect
appropriated Greek philosophy. A groundwork was laid down for the
discussion of fundamental problems in the forms under which they had
presented themselves to the ancient world. But while the Platonists
were wrangling with the Aristotelians about the superiority of their
respective masters; while the scholars were translating from the
original languages; while the mystics were building castles in the
air, composed of fragments from Neo-platonic and Neo-pythagorean
systems, cementing them with the mortar of Christianity and adding
quaint outbuildings of Cabbalistic and astrological delusions; the
writers of ethical treatises pursued another line of inquiry, which
was no less characteristic of the age and no less fruitful of results.
During the middle ages thought of every kind had been concentrated on
the world beyond this life. The question of how to live here was
answered with reference to eternal interests solely. Human existence
had no meaning except as the prelude to heaven or hell. But contact
with antiquity introduced a new class of problems. Men began once more
to ask themselves how they ought to live in this world, not with the
view of avoiding misery and securing happiness in the next, but with
the aim of making their terrestrial home most comfortable and their
sojourn in it most effective for themselves and their companions. The
discussion of the fundamental question how to live to best advantage,
without regard for the next world and unbiased by the belief in a
rigid scheme of salvation, occupies an important place in the
philosophical essays of the time. Landino, for example, in his
Camaldolese Disputations, raises the question whether the
contemplative or the practical life offers superior attractions to a
man desirous of perfecting self-culture. Alberti touches the same
topic in his minor dialogues, while he subjects the organism of the
Family in all its relations to a searching analysis in his most
important essay.

Valla, in the famous dialogue _De Voluptate_, attacks the problem of
conduct from another point of view.[554] Contrasting the Stoical with
the Epicurean ideals, asceticism with hedonism, he asks which of the
two fulfills the true end of human life. His treatise on Pleasure is,
indeed, a disputation between renascent paganism, naturalism, and
humanism on the one side, and the medieval scheme of ethics on the
other. Man according to nature contends with man according to grace;
the soul, obeying the desires of the flesh, defends her cause against
the spirit, whose life is hid with a crucified Christ in God. Thus the
two points of view between which the Renaissance wavered, are placed
in powerful contrast; and nowhere has their antagonism been more ably
stated. For the champion of hedonism Valla appropriately chose the
poet Beccadelli, while he committed the defense of asceticism to
Niccolò Niccoli. Though at the close of the argument he awarded the
palm of victory to the latter,[555] it is clear that his sympathies
lay with the former, and all the strength of his reasoning faculty is
employed in the statement and support of Beccadelli's thesis. The
first and far the longest part of the dialogue, where we detect a true
note of sincerity, is a remorseless onslaught upon monasticism under
the name of Stoicism, resulting in a no less uncompromising defense of
physical appetite. Some of the utterances upon sexual morality are
penetrated with the rancor of rebellion.[556] It is the revolt of the
will against unnatural restrictions, the reassertion of natural
liberty, emboldened by the study of classical literature, imbittered
by long centuries of ecclesiastical oppression. Underlying the
extravagances of an argument which owes its crudity and coarseness to
the contradictions of the century, we find one central thought of
permanent importance. Nature can do nothing wrong: and that must be
wrong which violates nature.[557] It is man's duty, by interrogation
of nature, to discover the laws of his own being and to obey those. In
other words, Valla, though in no sense a man of science, proclaims
the fundamental principle of science, and inaugurates a new criterion
of ethics.

[Footnote 554: _Laurentius Valla: Opera omnia_, Basileæ, 1465. The "De
Voluptate" begins at p. 896 of this edition.]

[Footnote 555: "Uterque pro se de laudibus Voluptatis suavissime
quidem quasi cantare visus est; sed Antonius hirundini, Nicolaus
philomelæ (quam lusciniam nominant) magis comparandus" (_ib._ lib.
iii. p. 697).]

[Footnote 556: "Meâ quidem sententiâ odiosus est si quis in moechos,
si rerum naturam intueri volumus, invehat" (_ib._ lib. i. cap. 38).
"Quisquis virgines sanctimoniales primus invenit, abominandum atque in
ultimas terras exterminandum morem in civitatem induxisse.... Melius
merentur scorta et postribula quam sanctimoniales virgines ac
continentes" (_ib._ lib. i. cap. 43).]

[Footnote 557: "Quod natura finxit atque formavit id nisi sanctum
laudabileque esse non posse" (_ib._ lib. i. cap. 9).]

Three main points may be discriminated in the intellectual movement
briefly surveyed in the preceding paragraphs. The first is an abrupt
breach with scholasticism. The whole method of philosophy has been
changed, and the canon of authority has altered. The second is the
acquisition of classical thought, and the endeavor, especially at
Florence, among the Platonists to appropriate it and adapt it to
Christianity. The third is the introduction of a new problem into
philosophical discussion. How to make the best of human life, is
substituted for the question how to insure salvation in the world
beyond the grave. It will be observed that each of these three points
implies departure from the prescribed ground of medieval speculation,
which always moved within the limits of theology. Theology, except in
the mysticism of the Platonists, except in occasional and perfunctory
allusions of the rhetoricians, has no place in this medley of
scholarship, citation, superstition, and frank handling of practical

While the Florentine Platonists were evolving an eclectic mysticism
from the materials furnished by their Greek and Oriental studies;
while the Ciceronian humanists were discussing the fundamental
principles which underlie the various forms of human life; the
universities of Lombardy continued their exposition of Aristotle upon
the lines laid down by Thomistic and Averroistic schoolmen. Padua and
Bologna extended the methods of the middle ages into the Renaissance.
Their professors adhered to the formal definitions and distinctions of
an earlier epoch, accumulating comment upon comment, and darkening
the text of their originals with glosses. Yet the light shed by the
Revival penetrated even to the lecture-rooms of men like Achillini.
Humanism had established the principle of basing erudition on the
study of authentic documents. The text of Aristotle in the Greek or in
first-hand translations, had become the common property of theologians
and philosophers. It was from these universities that the first dim
light of veritable science was to issue. And here the part played by
one man in the preparation of a new epoch for modern thought is so
important that I may be allowed to introduce him with some prolixity
of biographical details.[558]

[Footnote 558: For the following sketch of Pomponazzi's life, and for
help in the study of his philosophy, I am indebted to Francesco
Fiorentino's _Pietro Pomponazzi_, Firenze, Lemonnier, 1868, 1 vol. I
may here take occasion to mention a work by the same author,
_Bernardino Telesio_, _ibid._ 1872, 2 vols. Together, these two books
form an important contribution to the history of Italian philosophy.]

Pietro Pomponazzi was born of noble lineage at Mantua in 1462. He
completed his studies at Padua, where he graduated in 1487 as laureate
of medicine. It may be remarked incidentally that teachers of
philosophy at this era held the degree of physicians. This point is
not unimportant, since it fixes our attention on the fact that
philosophy, as distinguished from theology, had not yet won a
recognized position. Logic formed a separate part of the educational
curriculum. Rhetoric was classed with humanistic literature.
Philosophy counted as a branch of Physics. At Florence, in the schools
of the Platonists, metaphysical inquiries assumed a certain hue of
mysticism. At Padua and Bologna, in the schools of the physicians,
they assimilated something of materialism. During the middle ages
they had always flourished in connection with theology. But that
association had been broken; and as yet a proper place had not been
assigned to the science of the human mind. A new department of
knowledge was in process of formation, distinct from theology,
distinct from physics, distinct from literature. But at the epoch of
which we are now treating, it had not been correctly marked off from
either of these provinces, and in the schools of Lombardy it was
confounded with physical science.

In 1488 Pomponazzi, soon after taking his degree as a physician, was
appointed Professor Extraordinary of Philosophy at Padua. He taught in
concurrence with the veteran Achillini, who was celebrated for his
old-world erudition and his leaning toward the doctrines of Averroes.
Pomponazzi signalized his _début_ in the professorial career, by
adopting a new method of instruction. Less distinguished for learning
than acuteness, he confined himself to brilliant elucidations of his
author's text. For glosses, citations and hair-splitting distinctions,
he substituted lucid and precise analysis. It is probable that he was
a poor Greek scholar. Paolo Giovio goes so far, indeed, as to assert
that, of the two classical languages, he only knew Latin; nor is there
anything in his own writings to demonstrate that he had studied Greek
philosophy in the original. But he proved himself a child of the new
era by his style of exposition, no less than by a strict adherence to
Alexander of Aphrodisias, the Greek commentator of Aristotle. What
that divergence from the system of his rival, Achillini, who still
adhered to the commentaries of Averroes, implied, I shall endeavor to
make clear in the sequel. For the present, we must follow his career
as a professor. Before the year 1495 he had been appointed to the
ordinary chair of Natural Philosophy at Padua; and there he resided
until 1509, when the schools of Padua were closed. He spent this
period chiefly in lecturing on Aristotle's Physics, for the sake
presumably of the medical students who crowded that university. Forced
by circumstances to leave Padua, Pomponazzi found a home in Ferrara,
where he began to expound Aristotle's treatise _De Animâ_. Unlike
Padua, the University of Ferrara had a literary bias; and we may
therefore conclude that Pomponazzi availed himself of this first
favorable opportunity to pursue the studies in Aristotelian psychology
for which he had a decided personal preference. In 1512 he was invited
to Bologna, where he remained until his death, in the capacity of
Professor of Natural and Moral Philosophy. His stipend, increased
gradually through a series of engagements, varied from a little over
200 to 600 golden ducats. Bologna, like Ferrara, was not distinguished
for its school of medicine. Consequently, we find that from the date
of his first settlement in that city, Pomponazzi devoted himself to
psychological and ethical investigations. All the books on which his
fame are founded were written at Bologna. In the autumn of 1516 he
published his treatise _De Immortalitate Animæ_. It was dedicated to
Marcantonio Flavio Contarini; and, finding its way to Venice, it was
immediately burned in public because of its heretical opinions. A long
and fierce controversy followed this first publication. Contarini,
Agostino Nifo, Ambrogio Fiandino, and Bartolommeo di Spina issued
treatises, in which they strove to combat the Aristotelian materialism
of Pomponazzi with arguments based on Thomistic theology or
Averroistic mysticism. He replied with an _Apologia_ and a
_Defensorium_, avowing his submission to the Church in all matters of
faith, but stubbornly upholding a philosophical disagreement with the
doctrine of the immortality of the human soul. During this discussion
Pomponazzi ran some risk of being held accountable for his opinions.
The friars and preachers of all colors were loud in their
denunciations; and it is said that Bembo's intercession with Pope Leo
in behalf of his old master was needed to secure Pomponazzi from
ecclesiastical procedure. During the last years of his life the
professor of Bologna completed two important treatises, _De
Incantationibus_ and _De Fato_. They were finished in 1520 but not
published until after his death, when they appeared in the Basle
edition of his collected works. He died in 1525, and was buried at
Mantua. Pomponazzi had been thrice married. He left behind him an
unsullied reputation for virtuous conduct and sweet temper. He was,
physically, a little man, and owed to this circumstance the
_sobriquet_ of _Peretto_. We gain a glimpse of him in one of
Bandello's novels. But, with this exception, the man is undiscernible
through the mists of three intervening centuries. With the author the
case is different. In his books Pomponazzi presents a powerful and
unmistakable personality. What remains to be said about him and his
influence over Italian thought must be derived from an examination of
the three treatises already mentioned.

In order to make Pomponazzi's position intelligible, it will be
needful to review the main outlines of Aristotelian thought, as it was
transmitted through the middle ages to the men of the Renaissance.
Pomponazzi claimed to be no more than an expositor of Aristotle's
system. If he diverged from the paths of orthodox philosophy, it was
because he recognized a discrepancy upon vital points between Thomas
of Aquino and the Peripatetic writings. If he rejected some
fashionable theories of the freethinkers who preceded him, it was
because he saw that Averroes had misinterpreted their common master.
He aimed at stating once again the precise doctrine of the Greek
philosopher. He believed that if he could but grasp Aristotle's real
opinion, he should by that mental act arrive at truth. The authority
of the Stagirite in all matters of human knowledge lay for him beyond
the possibility of question; or, what amounted to nearly the same
thing, his interest in speculative questions was confined to making
Aristotle's view intelligible. Thus, under the humble garb of a
commentator, one of the boldest and in some respects the most original
thinkers of his age stepped forth to wage war with superstition and
ecclesiastical despotism. The Church, since the date of Thomas
Aquinas, had so committed herself to Aristotle that proving a
discrepancy between her dogma and the Aristotelian text upon any vital
point, was much the same as attacking the dogma itself. This must be
kept steadily in mind if we wish to appreciate Pomponazzi.[559] His
attitude cannot easily be understood at the present day, when science
has discarded authority, and the _ipse dixit_ of a dead man carries no
weight outside religious or quasi-religious circles. This renders the
prefatory remarks I have to make necessary.

[Footnote 559: It will be remembered that in the controversy between
Galileo and the Inquisition, the latter condemned Copernicus on the
score that he contradicted Aristotle and S. Thomas of Aquino.]

In the Platonic system it was impossible to explain the connection
between ideas, conceived as sole realities, and phenomena, regarded as
distinct from that ideal world to which they owed their qualities of
relative substantiality and cognizability. Aristotle attempted to
solve Plato's problem by his theory of form and matter, activity and
passivity, energy and potentiality, inseparable in the reality of the
individual. He represented the intelligible world as a scale of
existences, beginning with form and matter coherent in the simplest
object, and ending in God. God was the form of forms, the thought of
thoughts, independent of matter, immovable and unchangeable, although
the cause of movement and variety. The forms resumed in God, as
species are included in the Summum Genus, were disseminated through
the universe in a hierarchy of substances, from the most complex
immediately below God, to the most simple immediately above the
groundwork given by incognizable matter. In this hierarchy matter was
conceived as the mere base; necessary, indeed, to every individual but
God; an essential element of reality; but beyond the reach of
knowledge. The form or universal alone was intelligible. It may
already be perceived that in this system, if the individual, composed
of form and matter, alone is substantial and concrete, while the
universal alone is cognizable, Aristotle admitted a division between
reality and truth. The former attribute belongs to the individual,
the latter to the universal. The place of God, too, in the system is
doubtful. Is He meant to be immanent in the universe, or separated
from it? Aristotle uses language which supports each of these views.
Again, God is immaterial, universal, the highest form; and yet at the
same time He is an individual substance; whereas, by the fundamental
conception of the whole scheme, the coherence of form and matter in
the individual is necessary to reality. It might seem possible to
escape from these difficulties by regarding Aristotle's Deity as the
Idea of the Universe, and each inferior form in the ascending series
of existences as the material of its immediate superior, until the
final and inclusive form is reached in God. But what, then, becomes of
matter in itself, which, though recognized as unintelligible, is
postulated as the necessary base of individual substances?

In Aristotle's theory of life there is a similar ascending scale. The
soul ([Greek: psychê]) is defined as the form of the body. Its
vegetative, motive, sensitive, appetitive faculties ([Greek: psychê
threptikê, kinêtikê, aisthêtikê, orektikê]), are subordinated to the
active intellect ([Greek: nous pathêtikos]), which receives their
reports; and this in its turn is subordinated to the active intellect
([Greek: nous poiêtikos]), which possesses the content of the passive
intellect as thought. The intellect ([Greek: nous]) is man's peculiar
property: and Aristotle in plain words asserts that it is separate
from the soul ([Greek: psychê]). But he has not explained whether it
is separate as the highest series of an evolution may be called
distinct from the lower, or as something alien and communicated from
without is separate. The passive intellect, being a receptacle for
images and phantasms furnished by the senses, perishes with the soul,
which, upon the dissolution of the body, whereof it is the form,
ceases to exist. But the active intellect is immortal and eternal,
being pure thought, and identifiable in the last resort with God. So
much Aristotle seems to have laid down about the immortality of the
intellect. It is tempting to infer that he maintained a theory of
man's participation in the divine Idea--that is to say, in the complex
of the categories which render the universe intelligible and
distinguish it as a cosmos. But, just as Aristotle failed to explain
the connection of God with the world, so he failed to render his
opinion regarding the relation of God to the human intellect, and of
the immortal to the perishable part of the soul, manifest. It can,
however, be safely asserted that he laid himself open to a denial of
the immortality of each individual person. This, at any rate, would
follow from the assumption that he believed us to be persons by reason
of physical existence, of the soul's faculties, and of that blending
of the reason with the orectic soul which we call will. As the
universe culminates in God, so man culminates in thought, which is the
definition of God; and this thought is eternal, the same for all and
for ever. It does not, however, follow that each man who has shared
the divine thought, should survive the dissolution of his body. The
person is a complex, and this complex perishes. The active intellect
is imperishable, but it is impersonal. In like manner the whole
hierarchy of substances between the ground of matter and the form of
forms is in perpetual process of combination and dissolution. But the
supreme Idea endures, in isolation from that flux and reflux of the
individuals it causes. Whether we regard the ontological or the
psychological series, only the world of pure thought, the Idea, is
indissoluble, subject to no process of becoming, and superior to all
change. The supreme place assigned to Thought in either hierarchy is
clear enough. But the nexus between (i) God and the Universe (ii) God
and the active intellect (iii) the active intellect, or pure thought,
and the inferior faculties of the soul, which supply it with material
for thought, is unexplained.

Three distinct but interpenetrating problems were presented by the
Aristotelian system. One concerns the theory of the Universal. Are
universals or particulars prior? Do we collect the former from the
latter; or do the latter owe their value as approximate realities to
the former? The second concerns the theory of the Individual. Assuming
that the Individual is a complex of form and matter, are we to regard
the matter or the form as its essential substratum? The third concerns
the theory of the human Soul. Is it perishable with the body, or
immortal? If it is immortal, does the incorruptible quality perpetuate
the person who has lived upon this globe; or is it the common property
of all persons, surviving their decease, but not insuring the
prolongation of each several consciousness? The first of these
problems formed the battlefield of Nominalists, Realists and
Conceptualists in the first period of medieval thought. It was waged
upon the data supplied by Porphyry's abstract of the Aristotelian
doctrine of the predicaments. The second problem occupied the
encyclopædic thinkers of the second period, Albertus Magnus, Duns
Scotus and Thomas of Aquino. Their contest was fought out over the
Metaphysics of Aristotle. The third problem arrested the attention of
speculators in the age of the Renaissance. The text which they
disputed was Aristotle's essay _De Animâ_. This movement of medieval
thought from point to point was not unnatural nor unnecessitated. In
the first period Aristotle was unknown; but the creeds of Christianity
supplied a very definite body of conceptions to be dealt with. About
the personality of God, the immortality of the soul, and the concrete
reality of the human individual, there was then no doubt. Theology was
paramount; and the contention of the schoolmen at this epoch regarded
the right interpretation of the Universal. Was it a simple conception
of the mind, or an external and substantial reality? Was it a name or
an entity? The Nominalists, who adopted the former of these two
alternatives, fell necessarily beneath the ban of ecclesiastical
censure and suspicion; not because their philosophical conclusions
were unwarranted, but because these ran counter to the prevailing
spirit of the Christian belief. Their definitions sapped the basis of
that transcendentalism on which the whole fabric of medieval thought
reposed. Nevertheless, at the end of the battle, the Nominalists
virtually gained the day. Abelard's Conceptualism was an attempt to
harmonize antagonistic points of view by emphasizing the abstractive
faculty of the human subject. In the course of this warfare the
problem of the Individual had been neglected. The reciprocity of form
and matter had not been expressly made a topic of dispute. Meanwhile
a flood of new light was being cast upon philosophical questions by
the introduction into Europe of Latin texts translated by Jewish
scholars from the Arabic versions of Aristotle, as well as by the
commentaries of Averroes. This rediscovery of Aristotle forced the
schoolmen of the second period to consider the fundamental relation of
matter to form. The master had postulated the conjunction of these two
constituents in the individual. Thomas of Aquino and Duns Scotus
advanced opposing theories to explain the ground and process of
individualization. With regard to the elder problem of the Universal,
S. Thomas declared himself for modified Conceptualism. With regard to
the second problem, he pronounced matter to be the substratum of
individuals--matter stamped as with a seal by the form impressed upon
it. Thus he adhered as closely as was possible for a theologian to the
Peripatetic doctrines. For a student of philosophy to advance opinions
without reckoning with Aristotle was now impossible. The great
Dominican Doctor achieved the task of bringing Aristotle into
satisfactory accord with Christian dogma. Nor was this so difficult as
it appears. Aristotle, as we have seen, did not define his views about
the soul and God. Moreover, he had written no treatise on theology
proper. Whether he ascribed personality or conscious thought to God
was more than doubtful. His God stood at the apex of the world's
pyramid, inert, abstract, empty, and devoid of life. Christendom,
meanwhile, was provided with a robust set of theological opinions,
based on revelation and held as matters of faith. To transfer these
to the account of the Aristotelian Deity, to fill out the vacuous and
formal outline, and to theosophize the whole system was the work of S.
Thomas. To the fixed dogmas of the Latin Church he adjusted the more
favorable of Aristotle's various definitions, and interpreted his
dubious utterances by the light of ecclesiastical orthodoxy.

Up to this point the doctrine of personal immortality had been
accepted by all Christians as requiring no investigation. Human life
was only studied in relation to the world beyond the grave, where each
man and woman was destined to endure for all eternity. To traverse
this fundamental postulate, was to proclaim the grossest heresy; and
though Epicureans, as Dante calls them, of that type were found, they
had not formulated their opinions regarding the soul's corruptibility
in any scientific theory, nor based them on the authority of
Aristotle. S. Thomas viewed the soul as the essential form of the
human body; he further affirmed its separate existence in each person,
and its separate immortality. The soul, he thought, although defined
as the form of a physical body, acquired a habit of existence in the
body, which sufficed for its independent and perpetual survival. These
determinations were clearly in accordance with the Christian faith.
But the time was approaching when the problem of the soul itself
should be narrowly considered. Averroes had interpreted Aristotle to
mean that the active intellect alone, which he regarded as common to
all human beings, was immortal. This was tantamount to denying the
immortality of the individual. Men live and die, but the species is
eternal. The active intellect arrives continually at human
consciousness in persons, who participate in it and perish. Knowledge
is indestructible for the race, transitory for each separate soul. At
one end of the universal hierarchy is matter; at the other end is God.
Between God and man in the descending scale are the intelligences of
the several spheres. From the lowest or lunar sphere humanity derives
the active intellect. This active intellect is a substantial entity,
separate no less from God than from the human soul on which it rains
the knowledge of a lifetime. It is not necessary to point out how much
of mystical and Oriental material Averroes ingrafted on Aristotle's
system. His doctrine, though vehemently repudiated by orthodox
schoolmen, found wide acceptance; and there were other heretics who
asserted the perishable nature of the human soul, without distinction
of its faculties. These heterodoxies gained ground so rapidly through
the first two centuries of the Italian revival (1300-1500), that in
December, 1513, it was judged needful to condemn them, and to reassert
the Thomistic doctrine by a Council of the Lateran over which Leo X.

[Footnote 560: These are the words: "Hoc sacro approbante Concilio
damnamus et reprobamus omnes asserentes _animam intellectivam mortalem
esse_, aut _unicam in cunctis hominibus_, et hæc in dubium vertentes,
cum illa non solum vere per se et essentialiter humani corporis forma
existat ... verum et immortalis, et pro corporum quibus infunditur
multitudine, singulariter multiplicabilis et multiplicata et
multiplicanda sit."]

If we consider the intellectual conditions of the Renaissance, it
becomes clear why the problem of Immortality acquired this importance,
and why heretical opinions spread so widely as to necessitate a
confirmation of the orthodox dogma. Medieval speculation had a
perpetual tendency to transcend the sphere of this earth. The other
world gave reality and meaning to human life. All eyes were fixed on
the Beyond, at first with an immediate expectation of the Judgment,
afterwards with a continued looking forward to Paradise or Punishment.
This attitude toward eternity was an absorbing preoccupation. But with
the dawn of the new age our life on earth acquired a deeper
significance; and the question was not unnaturally posed--this soul,
whose immortality has been postulated, on whose ultimate destiny so
many anticipations of weal and woe have been based, what is it? Are we
justified in assuming its existence as an incorruptible and
everlasting self? What did Aristotle really think about it? The age
inclined with overmastering bias toward a practical materialism. Men
were eager to enjoy their lives and to indulge their appetites. They
tired of the restrictions imposed upon their nature by the prospect of
futurity. They found in their cherished classics, whose authority had
triumphed over Church and Council, but vague and visionary hints of
immortality. Even in the highest ecclesiastical quarters it was
fashionable to speak lightly of the fundamental dogmas of the
Christian creed. Leo X., who presided over the Lateran Council of
1513, did not disguise his doubts concerning the very doctrine it had
re-enforced. The time had come for a reconsideration _ab initio_ of a
theory which the middle ages had accepted as an axiom. The battle was
fought out on the ground of Aristotle's treatise on the soul.
Independent research had not yet asserted its claims against
authority; and the problem which now presented itself to the
professors and students of Italy, was not: Is the soul immortal? but:
Did Aristotle maintain the immortality of the soul? The philosopher of
Stagira, having been treated on his first appearance as a foe of the
faith and then accepted as its bulwark, was now to be used as an
efficient battering-ram against the castles of orthodox opinion.

There were two ways of regarding Aristotle's doctrine of the active
intellect. The one was to view the Nous as a development from the
soul, which in its turn should be conceived as a development from the
senses. The other was to recognize it as separate from the soul and
imported from without. Each claimed substantial support in various
dicta of the master. The latter found able exposition at the hands of
his Arabic commentator Averroes. The former was maintained by the
fullest and latest of the Greek peripatetics, Alexander of
Aphrodisias. In the later middle ages free thought, combating the
Thomistic system, inclined to Averroism. Pomponazzi, the chief
Aristotelian of the Renaissance, declared for Alexander. His great
work, _De Immortalitate Animæ_, is little more than an attempt to
reconstruct the doctrine of Aristotle by the help of Alexander.
Pomponazzi starts by laying down the double nature of the human soul.
It is both sensitive and intelligent. On this point philosophers are
agreed; the questions at issue relate to the mode of connection
between the two portions, and the prospect of immortality for both or
either. He next proceeds to state the opinions of Averroes, the
Platonists, and Thomas of Aquino, meeting their several arguments, and
showing how and where they diverge from Aristotle, and endeavoring to
prove the superiority of his master's doctrine. Pomponazzi agrees with
S. Thomas as to the division of the soul and its relation to the body.
He differs with him on the point of immortality, declaring with
sufficient clearness that no portion of the human soul can be other
than perishable. If we admit that the soul in general is the act or
form of the body, the intelligent portion of the soul is included in
this definition. It cannot dispense with the body, at least as the
object of its intelligent activity. But if it be thus intimately bound
up with the body, it must suffer corruption with the body; or even
should we suppose it to survive, it will have no images or phantasms
furnished by the senses, which are the necessary pabulum of its
thinking faculty.[561] The order of nature admits of no interruption.
It will not do to say that the soul thinks in one way during life on
earth, and in another way after death. This contradicts the first
principle of continuity. Man occupies a middle place between
imperishable and perishable things.[562] He has a certain odor of
immateriality, a mere shadow of intellect, because he stands upon the
confine between these regions.[563] But his very conduct shows how
vain and unsubstantial is his claim to pure reason. If we see a few
men elevate themselves toward God, there are thousands who descend
toward the brutes; and of those who spend their lives in clarifying
their intelligence, none can boast of more than an obscure and cloudy
vision.[564] In the hierarchy of souls we can broadly distinguish
three grades; the pure intelligences of the astral spheres, who have
no need of physical organs; the souls of brutes, immersed in matter,
and no better than a mode of it; the souls of men, which occupy a
middle place, requiring matter as the object of their thought, but
rising by speculation above it. Even so within the mind of man we may
discern a triple series--the factive, practical, and speculative
intellects. The first subserves utility; man shares it with the
brutes. The third enables him to lift himself toward God. The second
is essentially human; he uses it in moral action, and performs his
duty by obeying it. Both the sensitive soul and the intellect are
material in the full sense of extension.[565] To conceive of them
otherwise is contradictory to reason and to Aristotle. It is therefore
impossible to hold that either soul or intellect, although the latter
has certain affinities to imperishable intelligence, should survive
the body. The senses supply the object of thought; the phantasms
dealt with by the intellect depend upon the physical organs: abstract
these, and where is the cogitative faculty? Having thus attempted to
demonstrate the mortality of the human soul, Pomponazzi feels bound to
attack the problem of the final end of human beings. Hitherto,
throughout the ages of Christianity, men had lived on this world with
eternity in view. That was their aim and goal. He has removed this
object; and he anticipates hostile argument by affirming that virtue
itself is the proper end of man on earth. The practical intellect is
the attribute of humanity as distinguished both from the brutes and
from the separate intelligences of the spheres. To act in accordance
with the nature of this specific quality--in other words, to follow
virtue--is the end of man. Virtue is her own reward, as vice is its
own punishment.[566] The question whether the soul be mortal or
immortal, whether we have a right to expect future judgment or not,
has really nothing to do with the matter.[567] With this ethical
conclusion Pomponazzi terminates his argument. He is careful, however,
to note that though he disbelieves in the immortality of the soul as a
philosopher, he accepts it in the fullest sense as a Christian.[568]
It has been suggested that the orthodox doctrine of the resurrection
of the body might have supplied Pomponazzi with a link between science
and faith.[569] However, he did not avail himself of it; and his
philosophy stands in abrupt and open conflict with his creed.

[Footnote 561: Cap. viii. "Cum et Aristoteles dicat, necesse esse
intelligentem phantasma aliquod speculari." Again, _ibid._: "Ergo in
omni suo intelligere indiget phantasia, sed si sic est, ipsa est
materialis; ergo anima intellectiva est materialis." Again, _ibid._:
"Humanus intellectus corpus habet caducum, quare vel corrupto corpore
ipse non esset, quod positioni repugnat, vel si esset, sine opere
esset, cum sine phantasmate per positionem intelligere non posset et
sic otiaretur."]

[Footnote 562: Cap. ix. "Et sic medio modo humanus intellectus inter
materialia et immaterialia est actus corporis organici." Again,
_ibid._: "Ipse igitur intellectus sic medius existens inter materialia
et immaterialia." Again, _ibid._: "Homo est medius inter Deos et
bestias, quare sicut pallidum comparatum nigro dicitur album, sic
homo, comparatus bestiis, dici potest Deus et immortalis, sed non vere
et simpliciter."]

[Footnote 563: Cap. viii. "Vixque sit umbra intellectûs." Again, cap.
ix.: "Cum ipsa sit materialium nobilissima, in confinioque
immaterialium, aliquid immaterialitatis odorat, sed non simpliciter."]

[Footnote 564: See (cap. viii.) the passage which begins "Secundò quia
cum in ista essentia."]

[Footnote 565: See the passages quoted above; and compare _De
Nutritione_, lib. i. cap. 11, which contains Pomponazzi's most mature
opinion on the material extension of the soul, which he calls, in all
its faculties, _realiter extensa_.]

[Footnote 566: _De Immortalitate_, cap. xiv. After demonstrating that
the _intellectus practicus_, as distinguished from the _speculativus_
and the _factivus_, is the special property of man, and that
consequently in Ethics we have the true science of humanity, he lays
down and tries to demonstrate the two positions that (1) "præmium
essentiale virtutis est ipsamet virtus quæ hominem felicem facit;" (2)
"poena vitiosi est ipsum vitium, quo nihil miserius, nihil
infelicius esse potest."]

[Footnote 567: For this argument he refers to Plato in cap. xiv.:
"Sive animus mortalis sit, sive immortalis, nihilominus contemnenda
est mors, neque alio pacto declinandum est a virtute quicquid accidat
post mortem."]

[Footnote 568: See especially the exordium to cap. viii.]

[Footnote 569: Ritter, _Geschichte der Christlichen Philosophie_, part
v. p. 426, quoted by Fiorentino, _op. cit._]

The treatise _De Incantatione_ presents the same antithesis between
Peripatetic science and Christian faith. Pomponazzi composed it at the
instance of a physician, his friend, who begged him to offer an
explanation of some apparently supernatural phenomena. It is, in fact,
an essay upon demons and miracles. As a philosopher, Pomponazzi
stoutly rejects both. The order of nature cannot be interrupted.
Angels and devils only exist in the popular imagination. Miracles are
but imperfectly comprehended manifestations of natural forces, which
the vulgar ascribe to the intervention of God or spirits.[570] Each
religion has its own miracles and its own saints, to whom the common
folk attribute supernatural power.[571] But Moses, Mahomet and Christ
stand upon the same level; the thaumaturgists of every creed are
equally unable to alter the universal order.[572] Credulity and
ignorance ascribe to all of them faculties they cannot possess.
Having, as a philosopher, expressed these revolutionary ideas, as a
Christian, he briefly and summarily states his belief in all that he
has just denied.[573]

[Footnote 570: _De Incant._ cap. 3.]

[Footnote 571: _Ibid._ cap. 4.]

[Footnote 572: _Ibid._ cap. 12.]

[Footnote 573: Peroration of _De Incant._]

Basing his argument upon the ground of reason, which, for him, was no
other than the Aristotelian doctrine of the Cosmos, Pomponazzi
recognizes no agency that interrupts the sequence of cause and effect
in nature. But the astral intelligences are realities, and their
operation has been as clearly ascertained as that of any other natural
force. Therefore Pomponazzi refers to the planets many extraordinary
exhibitions of apparently abnormal power, conceding upon this point as
much as could have been desired by the most superstitious of his
contemporaries. Not only are the lives of men subject to planetary
influence; but all human institutions rise, flourish and decay in
obedience to the same superior laws. Even religions have their day of
inevitable decline, and Christianity is no exception to the general
rule. At the present moment, says Pomponazzi, we may discern signs of
approaching dissolution in the fabric of our creed.[574] He is careful
to add, as usual, that he holds this doctrine as a philosopher; but
that, as a Christian, he believes in the permanence of revealed
religion. Faith and reason could not be brought into more glaring
antagonism, nor is it possible to affirm contradictory propositions
with less attempt at reconciliation. Pomponazzi seems determined to
act out by anticipation Pascal's axiom, _Il faut être Pyrrhonniste
accompli et Chrétien soumis_. What the real state of his mind was, and
whether the antithesis which seems to us so untenable, did not present
itself to him as an anomaly, hardly admits of explanation. A similar
unresolved discord may be traced in nearly all the thinkers of this

[Footnote 574: _De Incant._ cap. 12.]

It remains to mention one more treatise of Pomponazzi, the Book on
Fate. Here he raises the question of human freedom face to face with
God and the unbroken order of the Universe. The conclusions at which
he arrives are vacillating and unsatisfactory; nor is there much in
his method of handling this ancient problem to arrest attention. The
essay, however, contains one sentence which deserves to be recorded.
"A very Prometheus," he says, "is the philosopher. Seeking to
penetrate the secret things of God, he is consumed with ceaseless
cares and cogitations; he forgets to thirst, to hunger, to eat, to
sleep, to spit; he is derided of all men, and held for a fool and
sacrilegious person; he is persecuted by inquisitors; he becomes a
gazing-stock to the common folk. These, then, are the gains of the
philosophers; these are their guerdons."[575] Not only were these
words spoken from the man's own heart, smarting under the attacks to
which his treatise on the soul had exposed him; but they were in a
profound sense prophetic. While reading them, we think of Campanella's
lifelong imprisonment and sevenfold tortures; of Bruno's death by
fire, and Vanini's tongue torn out before his execution; of Galileo's
recantation and disgrace; of Carnesecchi, Paleario and Montalcino
burned or strangled. A whole procession of Italian martyrs to free
thought and bold avowal of opinion passes before our eyes.

[Footnote 575: _De Fato_, lib. iii. cap. 7.]

Reviewing Pomponazzi's work, we find that, though he occupied for the
most part the modest place of a commentator and expositor, he
valiantly asserted the rights of reason face to face with
ecclesiastical authority. Under the ægis of the formula _salvâ fide_,
he attacked the popular belief, disputed the fiats of Church
Councils, denied miracles, rejected supernatural causes, and
proclaimed that science must be based upon the axiom of an unalterable
permanence in the order of the universe. The controversy which his
treatise on immortality inflamed in Italy, popularized the two
conceptions of God's immanence in nature and of the evolution of the
human soul from corporeal organs. In other words it struck a powerful
blow at transcendental, extra-mundane speculation, and prepared the
way for sounder physical investigations. The positive spirit appeared
in Pomponazzi, never thenceforward to be set at rest until the cycle
of modern scientific illumination shall be accomplished.

The deep impression produced by this controversy on the mind of the
Italians, may be illustrated by a little story. Pomponazzi's disciple,
Simone Porzio, when invited to lecture at Pisa, opened Aristotle's
meteorological treatises at the commencement of his course. The
assembly, composed of students and people of the town, who had
assembled, as was then the custom, to gaze upon the new professor and
to judge his manner,[576] cried in a loud voice: "_Quid de animâ?_
Speak to us about the soul!" He had to close his book, and take up the
_De Animâ_. This Porzio frankly professed his belief that the human
soul differed in no essential point from the soul of a lion or a
plant, and that those who thought otherwise, were prompted by a
generous pity for our mean estate.[577] Materialism of the purest
water became fashionable and expressed itself in pithy sentences,
which, though devoid of historical accuracy, sufficiently paint the
temper of the folk who gave them currency. Of this type is the
apocryphal epitaph of Cesare Cremonini, one of the latest of the
Italian peripateticians. He died in 1631, and on his grave was said to
have been written at his own request _Hic jacet Cremoninus totus_. To
the same Cremonini is ascribed the Jesuitical motto _Foris ut moris,
intus ut libet_, which may be regarded as a cynical version of
Pomponazzi's oft-repeated protestation of belief in dogmas he had
demonstrated contrary to reason.[578] Had it been possible for the
Church to continue her tolerance of Leo's age, or had the
Counter-Reformation taken a direction less inimical to free inquiry,
the studied hypocrisy of this epigram, so painfully characteristic of
the age that gave it birth, might have been avoided. The men who
uttered it and acted by it, were the same of whom Milton spoke in
_Areopagitica_: "I have sat among their learned men (for that honor I
had), and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic
freedom as they supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but
bemoan the servile condition into which learning amongst them was
brought; that this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits;
that nothing had been written now these many years but flattery and

[Footnote 576: An interesting description of a humanist opening his
course at Padua, and of the excitement in the town about it, is
furnished by the anonymous Maccaronic poet who sang the burlesque
praises of _Vigonça_. See Delepierre, _Macaronéana Andra_, London,
1862. Above, p. 331.]

[Footnote 577: He makes these assertions in a treatise _De Mente

[Footnote 578: In the peroration of his treatise on Incantation,
Pomponazzi says: "Habes itaque, compater charissime, quæ, ut mea fert
opinio, Peripatetici ad ea quæ quæsivisti, dicere verisimiliter
haberent. Habes et quæ veritati et Christianæ religioni consona

Central and Northern Italy performed the first two stages of
Renaissance thought. Florence, true to the destiny which made her
artful and form-giving, attempted to restore Platonic philosophy in
accordance with the conditions determined by the middle ages. Bologna,
gifted with a personality no less substantial, adhered to scholastic
traditions, but accommodated their rigid subject-matter to the spirit
breathed upon them by more liberal scholarship. It remained for the
South of Italy to complete the work, and to supply the fulcrum needed
for the first true effort of modern science. Hitherto, whether at
Florence or Bologna, philosophy had recognized authority. Discarding
the yoke of the Church, both Platonists and Aristotelians recognized
masters, whose words they were contented to interpret. Reason dared
not declare herself, except beneath the mask of some great
teacher--Plato or Plotinus, Aristotle or Alexander or Averroes. The
school of Cosenza cut itself adrift from authority, ecclesiastical or
classical. This is the import of the first sonnet in Campanella's
series, preserved for us by the fortunate mediation of his disciple,
the German with the Italianized patronymic, Tobia Adami:[579]

    Born of God's Wisdom and Philosophy,
      Keen lover of true beauty and true good,
      I call the vain self-traitorous multitude
      Back to my mother's milk; for it is she,
    Faithful to God her spouse, who nourished me,
      Making me quick and active to intrude
      Within the inmost veil, where I have viewed
      And handled all things in eternity.
    If the whole world's our home where we may run,
      Up, friends, forsake those secondary schools
      Which give grains, units, inches for the whole!
    If facts surpass mere words, melt pride of soul,
      And pain, and ignorance that hardens fools,
      Here in the fire I've stolen from the Sun!

[Footnote 579: From my _Sonnets of Michael Angelo and Campanella_, p.

Campanella calls the students of truth back to Nature from the
"secondary schools" of the philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas of
Aquino, or Averroes; who imposed upon their reason by the word
"authority." In his fifth sonnet he enforces the same theme:[580]

    The world's the book where the eternal sense
      Wrote his own thoughts; the living temple where,
      Painting his very self, with figures fair
      He filled the whole immense circumference.
    Here then should each man read, and gazing find
      Both how to live and govern, and beware
      Of godlessness; and, seeing God all-where,
      Be bold to grasp the universal mind.
    But we tied down to books and temples dead,
      Copied with countless errors from the life,--
      These nobler than that school sublime we call.
    O may our senseless souls at length be led,
      To truth by pain, grief, anguish, trouble, strife!
      Turn we to read the one original!

[Footnote 580: _Ibid._ p. 123.]

Tyrants, hypocrites and sophists--that is to say, the triple band of
State and Church oppressors, of interested ecclesiastics, and of
subtle logicians--have drawn their threefold veil between the human
intelligence and the universe, from which alone, as their proper home
and _milieu_, men must derive the knowledge that belongs to them.
Campanella, with the sincerity of one to whom the truth is dearer than
his own reputation, yields the _spolia opima_ of this latest victory
over the strongholds of authority to his master--the master whom he
never knew in life, but over whose bier he wept and prayed in secret,
hiding the fire of modern freedom and modern science beneath the black
cowl of a Dominican friar:[581]

    Telesius, the arrow from thy bow
      Midmost his band of sophists slays that high
      Tyrant of souls that think; he cannot fly:
      While Truth soars free, loosed by the self-same blow.
    Proud lyres with thine immortal praises glow,
      Smitten by bards elate with victory:
      Lo, thine own Cavalcante, stormfully
      Lightning, still strikes the fortress of the foe!
    Good Gaieta bedecks our saint serene
      With robes translucent, light-irradiate,
      Restoring her to all her natural sheen;
    The while my tocsin at the temple-gate
      Of the wide universe proclaims her queen,
      Pythia of first and last ordained by fate.

[Footnote 581: _Ibid._ p. 174.]

In these verses, the saint and queen proclaimed by Campanella is
Nature. During the middle ages truth had seemed to descend as by a
sort of inspiration upon man from an extra-mundane God. During the
first and second periods of the Renaissance the human intellect
repudiated this transcendentalism, but yielded itself, a willing
victim, to the authority of books, Plato or Aristotle, and their
commentators. Now the mind of man stands face to face with nature, and
knows that there, and there alone, is inspiration. The great Baconian
secret, the Interrogation of Nature, has been revealed. It is now
acknowledged on all sides that not what Telesio or Campanella, or
their famous disciple, Bacon, achieved in actual discovery, was
noteworthy. But the spirit communicated from Telesio and Campanella to
Bacon, is the spirit of modern science. Meanwhile, another native of
South Italy, Giordano Bruno, proclaimed the immanence of God in the
world, the identification of the universe with God in thought, the
impossibility of escaping from God in nature, because nature,
realizing God for the human soul, is divine. The central conception of
the third age of Italian thought, underlying the apparently divergent
systems of Campanella and Bruno--the conception, namely, of a real and
indestructible correlation between the human spirit and the actual
universe, and the consequent reliance of the human consciousness upon
its own testimony in the search for truth--contained the germ of all
that has, in very various regions, been subsequently achieved by
French, Dutch, English, and German speculators. Telesio and
Campanella, long before Bacon, founded empirical science. Campanella
and Bruno, long before Descartes, established the principle of
idealistic philosophy in the self-conscious thinking faculty of man.
The sensualism of Telesio, the spiritualism of Bruno, and Campanella's
dualism, foreshadow all possible sects of empiricists, rationalists
and eclectics, which have since divided the field of modern
speculation. It is easy enough now to look down either from the height
of full-blown transcendental metaphysics or from the more modest
eminence of solid physical science upon the intellectual abortions
generated by this potent conception in its earliest fusion with
medieval theology. Yet it is impossible to neglect the negative
importance of the work effected by men who declared their independence
of ecclesiastical and classical authority in an age when the Church
and antiquity contended for the empire of the human reason. Still less
possible is it to deny the place of Galileo, Descartes, Bacon,
Spinoza, among the offspring begotten of the movement which
Pomponazzi, Telesio, Campanella and Bruno inaugurated and developed.

Thus, therefore, by the substitution of human for revealed authority;
by the suggestion of new and real topics of inquiry, and finally by
the repudiation of all authority except that of nature's ascertained
laws; by the rending of all veils between the human reason and the
universe, the Italian philosophers of the Renaissance effected for
Europe the transition from the middle ages to the modern era.

What is the link of connection between Machiavelli and Pomponazzi, the
two leaders of Italian thought at the height of the Renaissance? It
may be expressed in one formula--a vivid sense of man and the world as
they are; or, in other words, positivism. Machiavelli dispenses with
Providence, smiles incredulously at Fortune, explains all social and
historical problems by reference to the will and thought of men in
action. He studies human nature as he finds it, not as it ought to be
according to some ideal standard. Pomponazzi shatters transcendentalism
at a blow. He proves that there is no convincing argument for
immortality. He demonstrates that the end of man is to be found in
conduct. He treats religions without exception as transitory
institutions, subject to the universal laws of birth and corruption,
useful to society in their day of vigor, but destined to succeed each
other with the waxing and the waning of the influences that control
our globe and all that it contains. On this point Machiavelli and
Pomponazzi are in complete accord. Both of them interpret the spirit
of their century.

As Machiavellism existed in Italian politics before Machiavelli
theorized it, so materialism leavened society before Pomponazzi gave
it the consistency of demonstration. The middle ages with their
political and theological idealism were at an end. Machiavelli and
Pomponazzi contemporaneously philosophized the realism on which
science was destined to be founded. They were the deicides of elder
faiths; the hierophants of a new revelation, as yet but dimly
apprehended; the Columbus and Vespucci of an intellectual hemisphere
which it remained for their posterity to colonize. The conditions of
public and private life in the Italian cities--the decline of
religious feeling, the corruption of morality, the paganizing
tendencies of humanism, the extinction of political activity, the
decay of freedom, the survival of the Church and Commune when their
work was ended--rendered any such movement as that of the German
Reformation wholly impossible. The people lacked the spiritual stuff
for it. We have seen that it was chiefly men like Berni and Folengo
who gave open utterance to Lutheran opinions; and from sources like
those no pure or vivifying waters could be drawn. Italy's work lay in
another direction. Those very conditions which unfitted her for a
religious revival, enabled her to perform her true mission. It was no
slight achievement to have set up the pillars of Hercules for
transcendentalism, and at the same time to have discovered the
continent of positive science. For the fruits and recognition of her
labors she has had to wait. Her history since the date of
Machiavelli's death has been obscure until the middle of this century,
and in the race of the nations she has been left behind.[582] But the
perturbation of the intellectual current caused by the Reformation is
now nearly over, and the spirit of modern science still finds itself
in harmony with that of the Italian thinkers who gave it earliest

[Footnote 582: It may be worth reminding the reader that Pomponazzi
died in 1525, and Machiavelli in 1527--the year of Rome's disaster.
Their births also were nearly synchronous. Pomponazzi was born in
1462, Machiavelli in 1469.]



     Retrospect--Meaning of the Renaissance--Modern Science and
     Democracy--The Preparation of an Intellectual Medium for
     Europe--The Precocity of Italy--Servitude and
     Corruption--Antiquity and Art--The Italian
     Provinces--Florence--Lombardy and Venice--The March of
     Ancona, Urbino, Umbria--Perugia--Rome--Sicily and
     Naples--Italian Ethnology--Italian Independence on the
     Empire and the Church--Persistence of the Old Italic
     Stocks--The New Nation--Its Relation to the Old--The Revival
     of Learning was a National Movement--Its Effect on Art--On
     Literature--Resumption of the Latin Language--Affinities
     between the Latin and Italian Genius--Renascence of Italian
     Literature combined with Humanism--Greek Studies
     comparatively Uninfluential--The Modern Italians inherited
     Roman Qualities--Roman Defects--Elimination of Roman
     Satire--Decay of Roman Vigor--Italian
     Realism--Positivism--Sensuousness--Want of Mystery,
     Suggestion, Romance--The Intellectual Atmosphere--A
     Literature of Form and Diversion--Absence of Commanding
     Genius--Lack of Earnestness--Lack of Piety--Materialism and
     Negation--Idyllic Beauty--The Men of the Golden Age--The
     Cult of Form--Italy's Gifts to Europe--The Renaissance is
     not to be Imitated--Its Importance in Human
     Development--Feudalism, Renaissance, Reformation,

At the end of a long journey it is natural to review the stages of the
way that has been traversed. We resume the impressions made upon our
mind, and extract that element of generality from recollection, which
the rapid succession of scenes, incidents and interests denied to the
experience of travel. In like manner, those who have been engaged in
some historical inquiry, after examining each province of the subject
separately, seek a vantage-ground of contemplation, whence the
conclusions they have reached can be surveyed in their relation to
each other.

What we call, for want of a better name, the Renaissance, was a period
of transition from the middle ages to the first phase of modern life.
It was a step which had to be made, at unequal distances of time and
under varying influences, by all the peoples of the European
community. Its accomplishment brought the several members of that
community into international relationship, and formed a confederation
of reciprocally balanced powers out of the Occidental races who shared
the inheritance of imperial Rome. At the commencement of this period,
the modern nations acquired consistency and fixity of type. Mutually
repelled by the principle of nationality, which made of each a
separate organism, obeying its own laws of growth according to
peculiarities of climate, blood and social institutions, they were at
the same time drawn and knit together by a common bond of intellectual
activities and interests. The creation of this international
consciousness or spirit, which, after the lapse of four centuries,
justifies us in regarding the past history of Europe as the history of
a single family, and encourages us to expect from the future a still
closer interaction of the Western nations, can be ascribed in a great
measure to the Renaissance. One distinctive feature of that epoch was,
reaction against the main forces of the middle ages. And since
reaction implies a vivid principle of vitality, we find, in the
further progress of this movement, the new ideas of democracy and
science counterposed to feudalism and the Church. So vast a revolution
as the reconstruction of society upon new bases, could not be
effected by any simple or continuously progressive process. The
nations educated by the Church and disciplined by feudalism, could not
pass into a new phase of being without checks, hesitations,
retrogressions, hindrances innumerable. Nor was it to be expected that
the advance of each member in the European community should proceed
upon an exactly similar method, or with equally felicitous results. It
was inevitable that both feudalism and the Church should long remain
in liquidation, resisting the impact of skepticism inherent in the
Reformation; opposing stubborn resistance to republican energy
liberated by the Revolution; crystallizing the counter-movement of the
modern spirit at one point in monarchical absolutism, at another in
Protestant establishments; receding from this rebellious province to
fortify and garrison that loyal stronghold; tolerating no compromise
here, and there achieving a temporary triumph by transaction with the
steadily-advancing forces ranged against them. The battle even now is
being waged with varying success over the wide field of Europe; and
whatever may be our conviction as to the ultimate issue of the
struggle, it is impossible to foresee a definite end, or to assign
even probable limits to the extent and the duration of the conflict.

Although we may hold the opinion that science and democracy constitute
the fundamental points in modern as distinguished from medieval
history, it would be paradoxical to assert that they emerged into
prominence during the initial stage of the Renaissance. A common
intellectual atmosphere had first to be prepared for Europe. The sense
of human freedom had to be acquired by studies and discoveries which
made man master of himself and of the world around him. His attention
had to be diverted from the life beyond the grave to his life upon
this planet. The culture, which formed the great achievement of the
Italian Renaissance and which was diffused through Europe, uniting men
of all races and all creeds in speculative and literary activity,
evoking sympathies and stimulating antagonisms upon vital questions of
universal import, was necessary for the evolution of the modern world
as we now know it. In many senses we have already transcended the
original conditions of that culture. But we owe to it our spiritual
solidarity, our feeling of intellectual identity, our habit of pouring
convergent contributions from divers quarters into the stock of
indestructible experience.

Quickened to livelier consciousness by contact with the masterpieces
of antiquity, in the dawn of that new age, the reason rapidly engaged
in exploratory expeditions. Both human nature and the material
universe presented themselves with altered aspect to thought and
senses, which had lain dormant during centuries of incubation. At
first, like the blind man of the miracle, the awakening intelligence
saw confusedly. It is easy with our clearer vision to despise the
hybrid fancies of a time when things old and new were so romantically
blent--"the men as trees, walking," of that inexperienced intuition,
the childish science and the scarce-fledged criticism of discoverers,
who, while they reached forth to the future, still retained the hold
of custom and long reverence on the past. A note of imperfection,
vacillation, tentative endeavor, can be traced in all the productions
of the Renaissance--everywhere, in fact, but in the fine arts, where a
simpler insight and more unimpeded faculties were exercised at that
period than the last three centuries have boasted. In another
important department the men of that age proved themselves more than
merely precocious and immature. The humanistic system of mental
training has survived with little alteration to the present day, and
still forms the basis of what is called a liberal education.

This transition from the middle ages to the modern era, which we
designate by the metaphor of Renascence or new birth, made itself
first powerfully felt in Italy. Of all the European nations, the
Italians alone can boast of a great and uninterrupted history,
extending over the twenty-five centuries which are known to us by
tolerably trustworthy records. They first gave the civilization of
republican and imperial Rome to the Western world. They formed the
Latin Church, and extended the organization of ecclesiastical Rome to
European Christendom. This was their double work in what we call the
ancient and medieval periods. At the close of the latter, they
inaugurated the age of culture, science and associated intellectual
endeavor, in which we are now living. In Italy the people preserved
unbroken memories of their classical past; and, as we have seen
throughout these volumes, the point of departure for modern
reconstruction was a renewed and vital interest in antiquity. Here,
too, the characteristic institutions of feudalism had taken but slight
hold, while the secularization of the Papacy had undermined the
spiritual prestige of the Church. Thus the forces to be overcome were
feebler in Italy than elsewhere, while the current of fresh energy
was stronger.

The conditions under which the Italians performed their task in the
Renaissance were such as seem at first sight unfavorable to any great
achievement. Yet it is probable that, the end in view being the
stimulation of mental activity, no better circumstances than they
enjoyed could have been provided. Owing to a series of adverse
accidents, and owing also to their own instinctive preference for
local institutions, they failed to attain the coherence and the
centralized organization which are necessary to a nation as we
understand that word. Their dismemberment among rival communities
proved a fatal source of political and military weakness, but it
developed all their intellectual energies by competition to the

At the middle of the fifteenth century their communes had lost
political liberty, and were ruled by despots. Martial spirit declined.
Wars were carried on by mercenaries; and the people found itself in a
state of practical disarmament, when the neighboring nations quarreled
for the prize of those rich provinces. At the same time society
underwent a rapid moral deterioration. When Machiavelli called Italy
"the corruption of the world," he did not speak rhetorically. An
impure and worldly clergy; an irreligious, though superstitious,
laity; a self-indulgent and materialistic middle class; an idle
aristocracy, excluded from politics and unused to arms; a public given
up to pleasure and money-getting; a multitude of scholars, devoted to
trifles, and vitiated by studies which clashed with the ideals of
Christianity--from such elements in the nation proceeded a
widely-spread and ever-increasing degeneracy. Public energy, exhausted
by the civil wars and debilitated by the arts of the tyrants, sank
deep and deeper into the lassitude of acquiescent lethargy. Religion
expired in laughter, irony and license. Domestic simplicity yielded to
vice, whereof the records are precise and unmistakable. The virile
virtues disappeared. What survived of courage assumed the forms of
ruffianism, ferocity and treasonable daring. Still, simultaneously
with this decline in all the moral qualities which constitute a
powerful people, the Italians brought their arts and some departments
of their literature to a perfection that can only be paralleled by
ancient Greece. The anomaly implied in this statement is striking; but
it is revealed to us by evidence too overwhelming to be rejected. We
must be careful not to insist on any causal link of connection between
the moral and intellectual conditions of Italian society at this
epoch. Still we are forced to admit that servitude and corruption are
the commanding features of the age in which Italy for the third time
in her history won and held the hegemony of the world. In politics, in
religion, in ethics, she seemed to have been left devoid of guiding
principles; and tragic interest is added to the climax of her
greatness by the long series of disasters, culminating in Spanish
enslavement and ecclesiastical tyranny, which proved her internal
rottenness and put an end to her unrivaled intellectual triumphs.

It has been my object in this work to review the part played by the
Italians at the beginning of modern history, subjecting each
department of their activity to separate examination. In the first of
the five volumes I described the social and political conditions under
which the renascence of the race took place. In the second I treated
of that retrogressive movement toward antiquity, which constitutes the
most important factor in the problem offered by that age. The third
volume was devoted to the Fine Arts, wherein the main originality of
modern Italy emerged. It was through art that the creative instincts
of the people found their true and adequate channel of expression.
Paramount over all other manifestations of the epoch, fundamental
beneath all, penetrative to the core of all, is the artistic impulse.
The slowly self-consolidating life of a great kingdom, concentrating
all elements of national existence by the centripetal force of organic
unity, was wanting. Commonwealths and despotisms, representing a more
imperfect stage of political growth, achieved completion and decayed.
But art survived this disintegration of the medieval fabric; and in
art the Italians found the cohesion denied them as a nation. While
speaking thus of art, it is necessary to give a wide extension to that
word. It must be understood to include literature. Nor, in the case of
Italy, does this imply an undue strain upon its meaning. The last two
volumes of my work have been devoted to the stages whereby vernacular
literature absorbed into itself the elements of scholarship, and gave
form to the predominating thoughts and feelings of the people. This
process of form-giving was controlled, more or less consciously
throughout, by the artistic instincts of which I have been speaking.
Thus we are justified in regarding the literary masterpieces of the
sixteenth century as the fullest and most representative expression
of the Italian temperament at the climax of its growth. The literature
of the golden age implies humanism, implies painting. It will be seen
that the logic of the whole subject necessitated the reservation of
this department for final treatment, and justified a more minute
investigation than had been accorded to the rest.

It is not only possible but right to speak of Italy collectively when
we review her work in the Renaissance. Yet it should not be forgotten
that Italy at this time was a federation, presenting upon a miniature
scale the same diversities in her component parts as the nations of
Europe do now. If for this reason alone, we may profitably survey the
different shares claimed by her several communities in the general

At the beginning of such a review, we cannot fail to be struck with
the predominance of Florence. The superiority of the Tuscans was
threefold. In the first place, they determined the development of art
in all its branches. In the second place, they gave a language to
Italy, which, without obliterating the local dialects, superseded them
in literature when the right moment for intellectual community
arrived. That moment, in the third place, was rendered possible by the
humanistic movement, which began at Florence. The humanists prepared
the needful literary medium by introducing classical studies into
every town of the peninsula. Without this discipline, Tuscan could not
so speedily have produced Italian, or have been so readily accepted by
North and South. It may, indeed, be affirmed without exaggeration
that, prior to the close of the fifteenth century, what we call the
Italian genius was, in truth, the genius of Florence.

What the Lombards and Venetians produced in fine art and literature
was of a later birth.[583] Yet the novelists of Lombardy, the Latin
lyrists of Garda, the school of romantic and dramatic poets at
Ferrara, the group of sculptors and painters assembled in Milan by the
Sforza dynasty, the maccaronic Muse of Mantua, the unrivaled
magnificence of painting at Venice, the transient splendor of the
Parmese masters, the wit of Modena, the learning of the princes of
Mirandola and Carpi, must be catalogued among the most brilliant and
characteristic manifestations of Italian genius. In pure literature
Venice contributed but little, though she sent forth a dictator,
Pietro Bembo, to rule the republic of letters at the moment when the
scepter was about to pass from Florence. Her place, as the home of
Aldo's Greek press, and as the refuge for adventurers like Aretino and
Folengo, when the rest of Italy was yielding to reactionary despotism,
has to be commemorated. Of the northern universities, Padua preserved
the tradition of physical studies, and Bologna that of legal
erudition, onward from the middle ages. Both became headquarters of
materialistic philosophy in the sixteenth century. The school of
Vicenza had flourished in humane letters at the commencement of the
epoch. But it declined early; while that of Ferrara, on the contrary,
succeeded to the honors of Florence and Pisa. Genoa was almost
excluded from the current of Italian culture. Her sumptuous palaces
and churches, her sensual unsympathetic painting, belong to the last
days of Italian energy. Her few great scholars owed their fame to
correspondence and connection with the students of more favored

[Footnote 583: I need hardly guard this paragraph by saying that I
speak within the limits of the Renaissance.]

From Romagna, the Marches of Ancona, and the Umbrian cities, more
captains of adventure than men of letters or artists swelled the
muster-roll of Italian worthies. We must not, however, forget the
unique place which Urbino, with its refined society, pure Court, and
concourse of accomplished men and women, occupies in the history of
Italian civilization. The position of Perugia, again, is not a little
singular. Situated upon the borders of Tuscany and Umbria, sharing
something of the spirit of both districts, overshadowed by Papal Rome,
yet harboring such broods of _bravi_ as the Baglioni, conferring a
tyranny on Braccio and the honor of her name on Pietro Vannucci, this
city offers a succession of picturesque and perplexing contradictions.
Perugia was the center of the most religious school of painting which
flourished in the fifteenth century, and also the cradle of the
religious drama. For the student of Italian psychology, very much of
serious moment is contained in this statement.

Rome continued to be rather cosmopolitan than Italian. The power,
wealth, and prestige of the Popes made their court a center; and men
who settled in the Eternal City, caught something of its greatness.
There is, however, no reason to recapitulate the benefits conferred by
ecclesiastical patronage at various times on fine arts, scholarship,
and literature. Rather must it be borne in mind that the Romans who
advanced Italian culture, were singularly few. The work of Rome was
done almost exclusively by aliens, drawn for the most part from
Tuscany and Lombardy.

After Frederick II.'s brilliant reign, the Sicilians shared but little
in the intellectual activity of the nation. That this was not due to
want of capacity in the people, seems proved by their aptitude for
poetry first shown at Frederick's Court, and next by the unrivaled
richness of their dialectical literature, both popular and cultivated.
Whether the semi-feudalism which oppressed the Southern provinces,
checked the free expansion of mental faculty, admits of question. But
it is certainly remarkable that, during the Renaissance, the wide
districts of the Regno produced so little. Antonio Beccadelli was,
indeed, a native of Palermo; but Pontano owned Cerreto for his
birthplace. Valla claimed to be a Roman, and Sannazzaro traced his
ancestry through Piacenza into Spain. These are the four greatest
names of the period when Naples formed a literary center under the
Aragonese dynasty. We have already seen that Naples, though not
prolific of native genius, gave specific tone of warmth and liberty to
literature. This may be ascribed partly to the free manners, bordering
on license, of the South, and partly to the permanent jealousy
subsisting between the Kingdom and the Papacy. The _Novella_ produced
humorous pictures of society at Florence, facetiæ in Rome, but bitter
satires on the clergy at Naples. The scandals of the Church provoked
the frigid animosity of Florentines like Machiavelli and
Guicciardini; in Naples they led to Valla's ponderous critique and
Sannazzaro's envenomed epigrams. The sensuousness of Poliziano assumed
voluptuous fervor in Pontano's lyrics. Lastly, the Platonic mysticism
of Florence, and the Peripatetic materialism of Bologna ended in the
new philosophy of the Calabrian school. This crowning contribution of
the south to Italy, this special glory of the sixteenth century, came
less from Naples than from minor cities of Calabria. Telesio of
Cosenza, Bruno of Nola, Campanella of Stilo, showed that something of
the old Greek speculative genius--the spirit of Parmenides and
Pythagoras--still lingered round the shores of Magna Græcia. Just as
the Hellenic colonists at Elea and Tarentum anticipated the dawn of
Attic philosophy, so did those robust and innovating thinkers shoot
the arrows of their speculation forward at the mark of modern science.

It is tempting to pass from this review of the Italian provinces to
meditations on a further problem. How far may the qualities of each
district have endured from remote antiquity? To what extent may they
have determined the specific character of Italian production in the
modern age? Did the population of Calabria, we ponder, really inherit
philosophical capacity from their Greek ancestors? Dare we connect the
Tuscan aptitude for art with that mysterious race who built their
cities on Etrurian hill-tops? Can the primitive ethnology of the
Ligurian and Iapygian stocks be used to explain the silence of the
Genoese Riviera and the Apulian champaign? Is a Teutonic strain
discernible in the gross humor of the Mantuan Muse, or in the ballads
of Montferrat? It would be easy to multiply these questions. But the
whole subject of national development is still too obscure to admit of
satisfactory answers.[584] All we can affirm without liability to
error, amounts to this; that Rome never completely fused the divers
races of the Italian peninsula, nor obliterated their characteristic
differences. After the dissolution of her empire, we find the Italian
provinces presenting local types in language, manners, sentiments, and
intellectual proclivities. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to
conjecture that certain of these differences sprang from the
persistence of ethnological qualities, and others from the infusion of
fresh blood from without.

[Footnote 584: Those who are curious in such matters, may be referred
to the following works by Giustiniano Nicolucci: _La Stirpe Ligure in
Italia_, Napoli, 1864; _Sulla Stirpe Iapigica_, Napoli, 1866;
_Sull'Antropologia delta Grecia_, Napoli, 1867; _Antropologia
dell'Etruria_, Napoli, 1869; _Antropologia del Lazio_, Napoli, 1873.
Also to Luigi Calori's _Del Tipo Brachicefalo negli Italiani odierni_,
Bologna, 1868, and a learned article upon this work by J. Barnard
Davis in the _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_, Jan. July,
1871. Nicolucci's and Calori's researches lead to opposite results
regarding the distribution of brachycephalic skulls in Italy.
Nicolucci adopts in its entirety the theory of an Aryan immigration
from the North; Barnard Davis rejects it. It seems to me impossible in
our present state of knowledge to draw conclusions from the extremely
varied and interesting observations recorded in the treatises cited

The decisive fact of Italian history in all its branches at this epoch
is the resurgence of the Latin, or shall we rather say, of the Italic
spirit? The national consciousness survived, though dimly, through the
middle ages; nor had the people suffered shipwreck in the break-up of
the Roman power. This was due in no small measure to the fact that the
Empire was the creation of this people, and that consequently they
were in a sense superior to its fall. Roman civilization, Roman
organization, Roman institutions, Roman law, were the products of the
Italian genius; and when the Roman State declined, the home province
suffered a less thorough-going transformation than, to take an
instance, either Gaul or Spain. It would be paradoxical to maintain
that the imperial despotism exercised a more controlling authority
over the outlying provinces than over Italy proper. Yet something of
this kind might be advanced, when we reflect upon the self-indulgent
majesty of Rome herself; upon the sovereign privileges accorded to the
chief Italian cities; upon the prosperity and vastness of Mediolanum,
Aquileia and Ravenna. Local ties and local institutions kept a lasting
hold upon the ancient no less than the medieval Italian; and long
after Rome became the _colluvies omnium gentium_ so bitterly described
by Juvenal, the country towns, especially in the valley of the Po,
retained a vigorous personality. In this respect the relation in which
men of state and letters, like the Plinies, stood on one side to the
capital and on the other to their birthplace, is both interesting and
instructive. The citizens of the provincial _municipia_ gloried in the
might of Rome. Rome was for them the fulcrum of a lever which set the
habitable globe in movement at their touch. Still the Empire existed
for the world, while each Italian city claimed the duty and affection
of its own inhabitants. When Rome failed, the cosmopolitan authority
of the Empire was extended to the Church, or, rather, fell into
abeyance between the Church and the resuscitated Empire. Just as the
_municipia_ flourished beneath the shadow of old Rome, so now the
Communes grew beneath the Church and the new Empire. These two
creations of the earlier middle ages, though formulated and legalized
in Italy, weighed less heavily there than on some other parts of
Europe. The Italians resisted imperial authority, and preserved their
own local independence. The Northern Emperors were never really strong
below the Alps except on sufferance and by the aid of faction. In like
manner the Italian burghers tolerated ecclesiastical despotism only in
so far as they found it convenient to do so. In spite of Gothic,
Lombard, Frankish and German attempts at solidification, the cities
succeeded in asserting their autonomy. The Italic stock absorbed the
several foreign elements that mingled with it. Vernacular Latin,
surviving the decay of literature, repelling the influence of alien
dialects, prevailed and was the language of the people.

Notwithstanding this persistence of the antique type, the Italian
nation, between the ages of Constantine and Frederick Barbarossa, was
intellectually and actually remade. It was not a new nation like the
English, French or Germans; for its life had continued without
cessation on the same soil from a period antecedent to the birth of
Rome. It had no fund of myth and legend, embodying its memories in
popular epical poetry. Instead of Siegfried, Arthur or Roland, it
looked back to the Virgilian Æneas.[585] Still it underwent, together
with the rest of Europe, the transformation from Paganism to
Christianity. It felt the influences of feudalism, while repelling
them with obstinate and finally victorious jealousy. It owed
something to chivalry, though the instincts of the race were rather
practical and positive than romantic. It suffered the eclipse of
antique culture, and borrowed from its conquerors a tincture of their
style in art and literature. When these new Italians found a voice,
they spoke in tones which lacked the ring of Roman eloquence. The
massy fabric of the Roman syntax was dismembered. And yet their speech
had more affinity to Roman style than that of any Northern people. The
greatest jurists, ecclesiastics and statesmen of the middle ages, the
interpreters of Roman law, the fabricators of solid theological
edifices, the founders of the Catholic Church, the champions of the
Imperial idea, were Italians, proving by their grasp of practical
affairs and by the positive turn they gave to speculative inquiries, a
participation in the ancient Latin Spirit.[586] Even when it is least
classical, the medieval work of the Italian genius betrays this
ancestry--in Lombard no less than in Tuscan architecture, in the
monumental structure of the Divine Comedy, in the comprehensive digest
of the _Summa_, in the rejection of sentimentalism from the tradition
of Provençal poetry, in Petrarch's conception of scholarship, in the
sensuous realism of Boccaccio.

[Footnote 585: That the _Æneid_ was still the Italian Epos is proved
by the many local legends which connected the foundation of cities
with the Trojan wars.]

[Footnote 586: It is enough to mention a few names--Gregory the Great,
Lanfranc, S. Anselm, Peter the Lombard, Hildebrand, S. Thomas Aquinas,
Accursius, Bartolus--to prove how strong in construction, as opposed
to criticism, were the Italian thinkers of the middle ages.]

The Revival of Learning was the acquisition of complete
self-consciousness by this new race, which still retained so much of
its old temperament. Ill at ease among the customs and ideals of
Teutonic tribes; stubbornly refusing to merge their local
independence in a kingdom; struggling against feudalism; accepting
Chivalry and Gothic architecture as exotics; without national legends;
without crusading enthusiasms; the Italians were scarcely themselves
until they regained the right use of their energies by contact with
the classics. This makes the Revival of Learning a national, a
patriotic, a dramatic movement. This gives life and passion to a
process which in any other country, upon any other soil, might have
possessed but little more than antiquarian interest. This, and this
alone, explains the extraordinary fervor with which the Italians threw
themselves into the search, abandoning the new-gained laurels of their
modern tongue, absorbing the intellectual faculties of at least three
generations in the labor of erudition, and emerging from the libraries
of the humanists with a fresh sense of national unity. At the same
moment, and by the same series of discoveries, they found themselves
and found for Europe the civilization of the modern world.

It is only by remembering that the Italic races, clogged by the ruins
of the Roman Empire, and tardily receptive of Teutonic influences,
resumed their natural activity and recognized their vocation in the
Revival of Learning, that we can comprehend the radical revolution
effected in all departments of thought by this event. In Architecture,
the Gothic style, which had been adopted as it were with repugnance
and imperfectly assimilated, was at once abandoned. Brunelleschi,
Alberti, Bramante, San Gallo, Michelangelo, Palladio, strove, one and
all, to effect a right adjustment of the antique style to modern
requirements. Foreign elsewhere, the so-called Palladian manner is at
home and national in Italy. Sculpture, even earlier than architecture,
took and followed the same hint. What chiefly distinguishes the work
of the Pisan school from contemporary work of French or German
craftsmen is, that here the manner of Græco-Roman art has been felt
and partly comprehended. Painting, though more closely connected with
Christianity, more perfectly related to conditions of contemporary
life, owed strength and vigor in great measure to the same conditions.
During the fifteenth century classical influences continued
increasingly to modify the practice of the strongest masters. In
literature, the effect of the Revival was so decisive as to demand a
somewhat closer investigation.

The awakened consciousness of the Italic people showed itself first in
the creation of a learned literature, imitating as closely as possible
in a dead language the models recovered from ancient Rome. It was not
enough to appropriate the matter of the Latin authors. Their form had
to be assimilated and reproduced. These pioneers in scholarship
believed that the vulgar tongue, with its divergent dialects, had ever
been and still remained incapable of higher culture. The refined
diction of Cicero and Virgil was for them a separate and superior
speech, consecrated by infallible precedent, and no less serviceable
for modern than it formerly had been for antique usage. Recovering the
style of the Augustan age, they thought they should possess an
instrument of utterance adapted to their present needs, and correlated
to the living language of the people as it had been in the age of
Roman greatness. They attacked the easier branches of composition
first. Epistolography and rhetoric assumed the Roman habit. Then the
meters of Horace, Ovid, and Virgil were analyzed and copied. In the
inevitable compromise between classical modes of expression and modern
necessities of thought, concessions were always made to the advantage
of the former. The Persons of the Trinity, the saints and Martyrs of
the Church, pranked themselves in phrases borrowed from an obsolete
mythology. Christ figured as a hero. The councils of each petty
Commune arrogated the style of Senate and People. _Condottieri_
masqueraded as Scipio, Hannibal, and Fabius Cunctator. Cecco and
Tonino assumed the graceful garb of Lycidas and Thyrsis. So fervid was
the sense of national resurgence that these literary conventions
imposed on men who ruled the politics of Italy--on statesmen with
subtle insight into practical affairs; on generals with egotistic
schemes to be developed from the play and counter-play of living
interests. When Poliziano ruled the republic of letters, this
acclimatization of the Latin classics was complete. Innumerable poems,
reproducing the epic, elegiac and lyric measures of the Romans, poured
from the press. Moralists draped themselves in the Hortensian toga.
Orators fulminated copious floods of Ciceronian rhetoric. Critics aped
Quintilian. Historians stuffed their chapters with speeches and
descriptions modeled upon Livy. Pastoral and didactic poets made
centos from Virgil. The drama flourished under the auspices of
Plautus, Terence, and Seneca. Preachers were more scrupulous to turn
their sentences in florid style than to clinch a theological argument.
Upon the lips of Popes the God of Sinai or Calvary was Jupiter
Optimus Maximus. Even envoys and embassadors won causes for their
States by paragraphs, citations, perorations in the manner of the

This humanistic ardor at first effected a division between the
lettered and unlettered classes. The people clung to their dialects.
Educated folk despised all forms of speech but Latin. It seemed as
though the national literature might henceforth follow two separate
and divergent courses. But with the cessation of the first enthusiasm
for antique culture, the claims of vernacular Italian came to be
recognized. No other modern nation had produced masterpieces equal to
Dante's, Petrarch's and Boccaccio's. The self-esteem of the Italians
could not suffer the exclusion of the Divine Comedy, the _Canzoniere_
and the Decameron from the rank of classics. Men of delicate
perception, like Alberti and Lorenzo de' Medici, felt that the honors
of posterity would fall to the share of those who cultivated and
improved their mother tongue. Thus the earlier position of the
humanists was recognized as false. Could not their recent acquisitions
be carried over to the account and profit of the vernacular? A common
Italian language, based upon the Tuscan, but modified for general
usage, was now practiced in accordance with the rules and objects of
the scholars. Upon the briar of the popular literature were grafted
the highly-cultivated roses of the classic gardens. It was thus that
the masterpieces of _cinque cento_ literature came into being--the
_Orlando_ and the comedies of Ariosto, Machiavelli's histories and
Sannazzaro's _Arcadia_--Tasso's _Gerusalemme_, and Guarini's _Pastor
Fido_, together with the multitudinous and multifarious work of lesser
craftsmen in prose and verse.

Steeped in classical allusion and reminiscence, the form of this new
literature was modern; but its spirit was in a true sense Latin. The
Italic people had found their proper mode of self-expression, and
proclaimed their hereditary affinities to the makers of Roman art. In
the history of the Italian Renaissance Greek studies form but an
episode. The Platonic school of Florence, the Venetian labors of
Aldus, exercised a partial and imperfect influence over Italian
culture. They proved more important for Europe at large than for the
peninsula, more valuable in their remote than their immediate
consequences. With the whole of classic literature to choose from,
this instinctive preference of Latin illustrates the point I am
engaged in demonstrating--namely, that in Italy the Revival of
Learning was a resurgence of the Italic genius modified and formed by
Roman influence. True to their ancestry, the Italians assimilated
Roman types, and left the Greek aside.

If we pause to consider the qualities of the Roman spirit in art and
literature, we shall see in how real a sense the modern people
reproduced them and remained within their limits. Compared with the
Hellenic and Teutonic races, the Romans were not myth-making, nor in
the sincerest sense poetical. In like manner the Italians are
deficient on the side of legend and romance. This defect has been
insisted on in the preceding volumes, where the practical and positive
quality of Italian poetry, its leaning to realism and abstinence from
visionary flights of the imagination, have more than once been pointed
out. Roman literature was composite and cultured, rather than simple
or spontaneous. The Roman epic was literary; based on antecedent
models, and confined within the sphere of polished imitation. The
Roman Comedy and Tragedy were copies of the Greek. In these highest
departments of art the Roman poets gave new form to foreign matter,
and infused their national spirit into works that might be almost
ranked with free translations. The same is true of their lyrics. Even
the meters in all these species are appropriated. The Italians in like
manner invented but little. They borrowed from every source--from the
Arthurian and Carolingian romances, from Provençal love-poetry, and
lastly in copious quantities from Roman literature. But they stamped
their own genius on the materials adopted, retouched the form, and
modified the sentiment, converting all they took to their own genuine
uses. In this respect the Italians, though apparently so uncreative,
may be called more original than the Romans. Their metrical systems,
to begin with--the sonnet, the octave stanza, and _terza rima_--are
their own. Their touch upon Teutonic legend is more characteristic
than the Roman touch on Greek mythology. Dante and Petrarch deal more
freely with Provençal poetry than Horace or Catullus with the lyrics
of their predecessors. In the matter of dramatic composition, the
Italians stand in much the same relation to the Romans as the Romans
to the Greeks; and this may be repeated with reference to elegiac and
pastoral poetry, and some minor species. The Italic race, in its
later as in its earlier development, seems here, also, satisfied with
form-giving and delicacy of execution.

If we turn to the indigenous and characteristic qualities of Roman
literary genius, we find these reappearing with the force of
spontaneity among the Italians. First of all may be reckoned the
strong love of country-life which lends undying freshness to Catullus,
Horace, and the poetical episodes of Lucretius. This is a no less
marked feature of Italian literature. The very best poetry of the
humanists is that which deals with villa-life among the Tuscan hills,
beside the bay of Naples, or on the shores of Garda. The purest
passages in the _Novelle_, the least intolerable descriptions in the
treatises of the essayists, are those which celebrate the joys of
field and wood and garden. The most original products of the Italian
stage are the _Aminta_ and the _Pastor Fido_, penetrated through and
through with a real love of the country--not with any feeling for
Nature in her sublimer and wilder aspects, but with the old Saturnian
pathos and fresh clinging loveliness of nature made the friend of man
and humanized by labor. The tears shed by Alberti over the rich fields
of autumn, as he gazed upon them from some Tuscan summit, seem to have
fallen like a dew of real emotion upon the driest places of a pastoral
literature which is too often conventional.

Resuming the main thread of the argument, it may be said that the
Italians also shared the Roman partiality for didactic poetry. The
Latin poems of Poliziano, Vida, and Fracastoro, together with the
Italian work of Alamanni, Rucellai, and other authors, sufficiently
prove this. Nor does it seem to me that we need suppose these essays
in a style of inevitable weariness to have been merely formal
imitations of the ancients. The delight with which they were first
received and even now sometimes are read in Italy, and the high
reputation they have won for their authors, show that there is
something in the Italian genius sympathetic to their spirit. One
department of their Roman heritage was left uncultivated by the
Italians. They produced no really great satire; but, on the other
hand, that indigenous satiric humor, inclining to caricature and
obscenity, which found vent in the fescennine songs of Roman festivals
and triumphs, endured without material change through all
modifications of the national life. The earliest monuments of the
vernacular literature afford instances of its popularity throughout
the middle ages. It gave a special quality to the Florentine Carnival;
it assumed high literary form in Lorenzo's _Canti_ and Berni's
burlesque _Capitoli_; it flourished on the quays of Naples, and
sheltered at Rome under the protection of Pasquino.

Leaving pure literature aside, we may trace the Latin ancestry of the
Italians in their strong forensic bias. Just as the Forum was the
center of Roman, so was the Piazza the center of Italian life. The
declamatory emphasis that spoils much Latin prose and verse for
Northern ears, sounds throughout Italian literature. Their writers too
easily assume a rhetorical tone, and substitute sonorousness of
verbiage for solid matter or sound feeling. The recitations of the
Romans find an analogue in the Italian Academies. The colloquial taint
of Roman philosophical discussion is repeated in the moral diatribes
of the humanists. But with equal justice we might urge that the
practical and legal qualities of the Latin race, and its powerful
organizing faculty, survived, and found expression in the modern
nation. The Italians, as we have already said, were the greatest
Churchmen, Statesmen, and Jurists of medieval Europe. They created the
Papacy. They formulated the conception of the Empire. They preserved,
explained, and taught Roman law. But this element was already worked
out and exhausted at the close of the medieval period. We find it in
abeyance during the Renaissance. The political vigor, the martial
energy, the cohesive force, the indomitable will of the Romans, have
clearly deserted their Italian inheritors. There is a massive
architecture, as of masonry, in Roman writing, which Italian almost
always misses.

If it were permissible to venture here upon a somewhat bold
hypothesis, we might ask whether the Italic races now displayed
themselves as they might have been without the centralizing and
controlling genius of Rome? In the history of the Italian peninsula
can we regard the ascendancy of Rome as a gigantic episode? Rome bound
the various tribes together in a common system, formed one language,
and used Italy as the throne of world-wide empire. But Rome's empire
passed, and the tribes remained--indelibly stamped, it is true, with
her mark, and subsequently modified by a succession of intrusive
incidents--yet yielding to the world in a new form a second crop of
flowers and fruitage similar to that which they had borne for Rome. It
will not do to press these speculations. They suggest themselves when
we observe that, what the Italians lacked in the Renaissance was
precisely what Rome, or the Latin confederacy, gave to Italy in the
ancient days of her supremacy. It is as though the great Saturnian
mother, exhausted by the production of Rome and all that Rome implied
through Empire and through Papacy for Europe, had little force left
but for amenities and subtleties in modern literature. To the masonry
of Rome succeeds the filigree work of the _cinque cento_.

There is no mistaking the positive, materialistic, quality possessed
by the Italians in common with their Latin ancestors. This, after all
is said, constitutes the true note of their art and literature.
Realism, preferring the tangible and concrete to the visionary and
abstract, the defined to the indefinite, the sensuous to the ideal,
determines the character of their genius in all its manifestations. We
find it even in the Divine Comedy. Dante's pictures appeal to our
eyes; his songs of angels and cries of damned souls reach our ears; he
makes us shrink with physical loathing from the abominations of
Malebolge, and feel upon our foreheads the cool morning wind of
Purgatory. His imaginary world can be mapped out; his journey through
it has been traced and measured, inch by inch, and hour by hour. The
same realism determined the speculation of the Italians, deflecting it
from metaphysics to problems of practical life. Again it leavened
their religion. We find it in S. Catherine's visions, in the stigmata
of S. Francis, in the miracle of Bolsena. Under its influence the
dogmas of the Church assumed a kind of palpability. It was against
Italian sensuousness that the finer spiritual perceptions of the
Teutonic races rose in revolt; and the Italians, who had transmitted
their own religious forms to Europe, could not understand the point at
issue. Feeble or insufficient as we may judge this realism in the
regions of pure thought or pious feeling, it was supremely powerful in
art. It enabled the Italians so to apprehend the mysteries of the
faith, and so to assimilate the classic myths, as to find for both a
form of beauty in sculpture and in painting. Had they inclined more to
the abstract or to the visionary, Christian art would have remained
impossible. Had they been less simply sensuous, they might perhaps
have shrunk from pagan legends, or have failed to touch them with the
right sincerity. How ill these legends fared at the hands of
contemporary Teutonic artists, is notorious. In the realm of
literature the same quality gave to Petrarch's treatment of chivalrous
love a new substantiality. It animated Boccaccio, and through his
influence created a literature of fiction, indescribably rich in
objective realism and spontaneous passion. Ariosto owed to it the
incomparable brilliance of his pictures. And, since such sensuousness
has perforce its evil side, we find it, in the last resort, no longer
clothing unsubstantial thoughts with forms of beauty, lending reality
to the poet's visions, or humanizing the austerities of faith, but
frankly and simply subordinating its powers to a debased imagination.
The Italian sensuousness too often degenerates into mere sensuality in
the period of our inquiry. Nor is this the only defect of the quality.
When we complain that the Italians are deficient in the highest tragic
imagination, that their feeling for nature lacks romance, or that none
but their rarest works of art attain sublimity, we are but insisting
on the realistic bias which inclined them to things tangible,
palpable, experienced, compassable by the senses. How much of tragedy
is due to horror the soul alone can gauge; how much of romance depends
upon a sense of mystery and unexplored capacities in natural things;
how much of the sublime consists of incorporeal vagueness, need not
here be insisted on. The sensuousness of the Italians, simpler and
less finely tempered with spiritual substance than that of the Greeks,
while it gave them so much of serene beauty and intelligible form,
denied them those high and rare touches which the less evenly balanced
genius of the Northern races can command at will. The poverty of
imaginative suggestion in their lyrical and dramatic poetry has been
already indicated. We feel this even in their music. The most adorable
melodies, poured forth like nightingale songs in the great schools of
the eighteenth century, owe their perfection to purity of outline;
their magic depends on a direct appeal to sensibility. There is not in
them "more than the ear discovers." They are not, to quote Sir Thomas
Browne again, "a hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole world
and creatures of God." Palestrina and Stradella, Pergolese and
Salvator Rosa, move in a region less mystical and pregnant with
accumulated meaning than that which belongs to Bach and Beethoven.

The intellectual medium formed in Italy upon the dissolution of the
middle ages was irreligious and indifferent; highly refined and highly
cultivated; instinctively æsthetic and superbly gifted, but devoid of
moral earnestness or patriotic enthusiasm, of spiritual passion or
political energy. Society, enslaved, disfranchised, and unwarlike, was
composed of peasants and artisans, sleek citizens, effeminated nobles,
courtiers and scholars of a hundred types, monks and clergy of
manifold variety and almost incalculable multitude, despots more or
less successful in their arts of imposition and seduction, and the
countless dependents on the wants and whims and vices of this motley
population. Among the last may be reckoned artists of all but the
first rank, men of letters, parasites and captains of adventure,
courtesans and Abbés, pamphleteers and _bravi_, orators and
secretaries. Outside the universities, the factories and the
marketplace, there were few callings that could be reckoned honorable
or honest, independent or respectable. Over the rest hung the shadow
of servitude and corruption, of ecclesiastical depravity and private
debauchery, of political stagnation and haughty patronage. Still the
qualities of intellectual sagacity, determined volition, and a certain
æsthetical good taste, were all but universal. We find them in such
works as Cellini's biography, Lorenzino de' Medici's apology, and the
memoirs of his murderer--to mention only documents where the
last-named quality might well have been absent. Even the lowest
instruments of public or private profligacy maintained an independence
face to face with art, and recognized a higher law than their
employer's in the duties imposed upon them by the ideal after which
they strove as men of letters, painters or the like. We trace this
loyal service and artistic freedom even in Pietro Aretino.

A literature, corresponding to this medium, of necessity arose. It was
a literature of form and style, of pleasure and diversion, without
intensity of passion, earnestness of purpose, or profundity of
thought. It could boast no Shakspere, no Pindar, no Dante, no
Descartes. The prevailing types which it developed, were idyllic,
descriptive, melodramatic, narrative, elegiac, sentimental, burlesque,
and licentious. Poliziano, Sannazzaro, Lorenzo de' Medici, Pulci, the
writers of Sonnets and _Capitoli_, the novelists and the satirists,
are each and all of them related by no superficial tie to Boccaccio.
He is the morning star of this multifarious and brilliant band of
artist-authors, until the moment when Ariosto rises above the horizon,
and the _cinque cento_ finds adequate expression in the _Orlando
Furioso_. In that poem the qualities by which the age is
characterized, are concentrated, and the advance in artistic faculty
and feeling since the period of the Decameron is manifested. Amid the
many writers of the century we seek in vain a true philosopher. We
have, instead, to content ourselves with the ethical dissertations of
the humanists; with sketches like the _Cortegiano_, the _Galateo_, the
_Governo della Famiglia_; with erudite fancies like the speculations
of Ficino, or the scholastic triflings of Pico della Mirandola. Yet
out of the very indifferentism of the age philosophy will spring.
Pomponazzi formulates the current materialism. It remains for Telesio,
Campanella, Bruno, Galileo to found the modern scientific method.
Meanwhile, the political agitations of despotisms and republics alike,
and the diplomatic relations of so many petty States, have stimulated
observation and developed the powers of analysis. Therefore the most
vigorous and virile product of this literature is such work as the
_Principe_ and _Discorsi_ of Machiavelli, the _Ricordi_ of
Guicciardini, together with the histories and reflective treatises on
statecraft published by the statists of their school.

The absence of seriousness in the literature of the golden age is
striking to a Northern student. It seems to have been produced for and
by men who had lost their ethical and political conscience, and had
enthroned an æsthetical conscience in its room. Their religious
indifference is deadlier than atheism. Their levity is worse than
sarcasm. They fulfill the epigram of Tacitus, who wrote: _corrumpere
et corrumpi sæculum vocant_. Yet no one has the vigor to be angry. It
is difficult to detect the true note of satire in their criticism of
society. Ariosto is playful, Aretino scurrilous, Alamanni peevish,
Folengo atrabilious. The purely religious compositions of the period
lack simplicity and sincerity. The _Sacre Rappresentazioni_ are
sentimental and romantic. The Christian epics of the Latin poets are
indescribably frigid. The _Laudi_ are either literary like Lorenzo's,
or hysterical like Benivieni's praise of Christian madness. The
impertinent biographies of Aretino pass muster for genuinely pious
work with Vittoria Colonna. It is only in some heartfelt utterance of
the aged Michelangelo, in the holy life of a S. Antonino, or the
charity of Luca della Robbia's mission to young Boscoli, or the fervor
of Savonarola's sermons, that here and there the chord of real
religious feeling vibrates. Philosophy entrenches herself, where she
is strongest, in negation--in Valla's negation of any ethical
standard superior to sensuous hedonism, in Pomponazzi's negation of
immortality, in Machiavelli's negation of Providence. So complete an
antithesis to the medieval ground of thought was necessary; and its
results for the future of science are incontestable. But at the moment
it meant a withdrawal from spiritual interests, an insistance on the
material side of human life, which was correlated to religious
indifference and social dissolution.

The drama abounds in comedies and masks, of wonderful variety and
great artistic beauty. But there is no tragedy worthy of the name. And
the tragic element, as distinguished from romance and pathos, is
conspicuous by its absence in the novels of the period. Lyrical poets
prefer the conscious shams of Petrarchism to any genuine utterance of
emotion. The gravity of La Casa's sonnets, wrenched from an uneasy and
unwilling conscience, the sublimity of Michelangelo's Platonic
mysticism, the patriotic indignation of Guidiccioni's laments for
Italy enslaved and sunk in sensual sloth, must rank as luminous
exceptions. In the romantic epic, chivalry, the ideal of an earlier
age, is turned to gentle ridicule. Honor is sneered at or
misunderstood. The absurd, the marvelous, the licentious are mingled
in a form of incomparable artistic suavity. Tasso's graver epic
belongs to another epoch. Trissino's heroic poem is unreadable. Like
the tragedies of the scholars, it lacks life and stands in no relation
to the spirit of the age.

Over the whole art and literature of the epoch is shed an agreeable
light of quietude and acquiescence, a glow of contentment and
well-being, which contrasts strangely with the tragic circumstances of
a nation crumbling into an abyss of ruin. It is not precisely the
_bourgeois_ felicity of Boccaccio, but a tranquillity that finds
choicest expression in the painted idyls of Giorgione and the written
idyls of Sannazzaro. Its ultimate ideal is the Golden Age, when no
restraints were placed on natural inclination, and no ambition ruffled
the spirit rocked in halcyon ease. This prevailing mood of artists and
writers was capable of sensuous depth, as in the _Baiæ_ of Pontano. It
was capable of refined irony, as in the smile of Ariosto. It was
capable of broad laughter, as in the farce of Bibbiena. It was capable
of tenderness, as in the _Ballate_ of Poliziano. It was capable of
cynical licentiousness, as in Aretino's _Ragionamenti_, and the
Florentine _Capitoli_. But it was incapable of tragic passion, lyrical
rapture, intensity, sublimity, heroism. What ears would there have
been in Italy for Marston's prologue to _Antonio and Mellida_ or for
Milton's definition of the poet's calling? The men who made this
literature and those with whom they lived, for whom they wrote, were
well-bred, satisfied with inactivity, open at all pores to pleasure,
delighting in the refinements of tact and taste, but at the same time
addicted to gross sensuality of word and deed. The world was over for
them. The arenas of energy were closed. About the future life they
entertained a suave and genial skepticism, a delicate _peut-être_ of
blended affirmation and negation, lightly worn, which did not
interrupt the observance of ceremonial piety. They loved their villa,
like Flamminio, Ficino, Bembo, all the poets of Benacus. They spent
their leisure between a grove of laurels and a study. They met in
courtly circles for polite discourse and trifling dissertation, with
no influencing passion, no speculative enthusiasm, no insight into
mysteries deeper than the subtleties of poetry and art. Not one of
them, amid the crash and conflict of three nations on their soil,
exclaimed in darkness _Imus, imus præcipites!_ When the woes of Italy
touched them with a shade of melancholy, they sought relief in
pastimes or in study. Cinthio, prefacing his novels with the horrors
of the Sack of Rome, Bargagli using Siena's agony as introduction to
his love-romances, are parables of what was happening in the world of
fact and feeling. The portrait of Castiglione, clear-browed, sedate,
intelligent, humane, expresses the best men of the best moment in that
age. The _Aminta_ is their dream-world, modeled on reality. Vida's
apostrophe to _pulcherrima Roma_ utters their sentiment of

There is a beautiful side to all this. It is the idyllic ideal of
life, revealed in Titian's picture of the _Three Ages of Man_, the
ideal which results in golden and consummate art, tranquilized to
euthanasia, purged of all purpose more earnest than may be found in
melodies played beside a fountain in the fields by boys to listening
girls, on flute or viol. For this ideal a great future was in store,
when the animating motive of idyllic melody expressed itself in the
opera music of the eighteenth century, and Italy gave the last of her
imperishable gifts, a new and perfect art of song, to Europe. But
there is also an ugly side to all this. The ultimate corruption of the
age--in its absence of energy, its avoidance of serious endeavor, its
courtly adulation, its ruffianism, servility, cynicism and
hypocrisy--is incarnated in Aretino. Here the vices of the Italian
Renaissance show their cloven hoofs. Through the orange and laurel
bowers, flooded with Tintoretto's golden sunlight, grins a bestial
all-devouring satyr, a satyr far less innocent or gentle than Greek
poets feigned, with a wolf's jaws as well as a goat's legs. And in
Aretino is already foreshadowed Baffo, the prurient and porcine
Caliban of verse, more barbarously bestial than Venetian Casanova.
Meanwhile amid apparent civility of manner, the violent crimes of a
corrupt and servile race were frequent. Poisoning and secret
assassination, acts of personal vengeance and the employment of hired
cut-throats, rendered life unsafe in that idyllic Italy.

The historian of this epoch, though he feels its splendor and would
fain bless, finds himself forced to insist upon the darker details of
the subject. The triumphal pæan of his opening pages ends, too often
for his sympathy, in dissonance and wailing echoes. Yet it would be
unjust and unscientific to close on any note of lamentation, when the
achievements of the eldest-born of Europe's daughters stand arrayed
before him. It has often been said that the Renaissance presents an
insoluble problem. Twy-natured and indeterminate, the spirit of the
age has been likened to the Sphinx, whose riddle finds no Oedipus.
But this language is at best rhetorical. The anomalies and
contradictions of a period to which we owe so much of our spiritual
and intellectual force, are due to its transitional character. The
middle ages were closed. The modern world was scarcely formed. This
interval was chosen for the re-birth of the Italian spirit. On the
Italians fell the complicated and perplexing task of modulating from
the one phase to the other. And, as I have attempted to explain, the
Italians were a peculiar people. They had resisted the Teutonic impact
of the medieval past; but they had failed to prepare themselves for
the drama of violence and bloodshed which the feudal races played out
on the plains of Lombardy. When we say that it was their duty to have
formed themselves into a nation like the French, we are criticising
their conduct from a modern point of view. Experience proved that
their policy of municipal independence was a kind of suicide. But the
instincts of clanship, slowly transmuted through feudal institutions
into a monarchical system, had from time immemorial been absent in
Italy. Rome herself had never gathered the Italian cities into what we
call a nation. And when Rome, the world's head, fell, the
municipalities of Italy remained, and the Italian people sprang to
life again by contact with their irrecoverable past.[587] Then, though
the Church swayed Europe from Italian soil, she had nowhere less
devoted subjects than in Italy. Proud as the Italians had been of the
Empire, proud as they now were of the Church, still neither the Roman
Empire nor the Roman Church imposed on the Italian character.
Pondering on the unique circumstances of this new nation, unorganized
like her sisters, conscious of an immense past and a persistent
vitality, shrewdly apathetic to the religious enthusiasms of the
younger races, yet obliged to temporize and acquiesce and cloak
indifference with hypocrisy, we are brought to feel, though we may not
fully explain, the inevitableness of many distracting discords in what
was still an incomplete phase of national existence.

[Footnote 587: "Roma, caput mundi," is a significant phrase. It marks
the defect of Italian nationality as distinguished from cosmopolitan

As a final consideration, after reviewing the anomalies of Italian
society upon the dissolution of the Middle Ages, we are fully
justified in maintaining that the race which had produced Machiavelli
and Columbus, Campanella and Galileo--that is to say, the firmest
pioneers and freest speculators of the dawning modern age--was
capable, left but alone, of solving its own moral contradictions by
some virile effort. Pioneering energy, speculative boldness, virility
of effort (however masked by pedantry and purism, by the urbanities
and amenities of polite culture, by the baseness of egotism and the
immorality of social decadence), were the deepest notes of the
bewildering age which forms our theme. But this freedom from
interference, this luck of being left alone, was just what the
Italians could never get. The catastrophes of several successive
invasions, followed by the petrifying stagnation of political and
ecclesiastical tyranny, checked their natural evolution and suspended
their intellectual life, before the fruit-time had succeeded to the
flower-time of the Renaissance. The magnificent audacity of their
impulse fell checked in mid-career. Their achievement might be likened
to an arch ascending bravely from two mighty piers, whereon the key
stone of completion was not set.

When all her deities were decayed or broken, Italy still worshiped
beauty in fine art and literary form. When all her energies seemed
paralyzed, she still pursued her intellectual development with
unremitting ardor. This is the true greatness of those fifty years of
glorious achievement and pitiful humiliation, during which the
Italians, like Archimedes in his Syracusan watch-tower, turned deaf
ears to combatant and conqueror, intent on problems that involved the
future destinies of man. The light of the classics had fallen on their
pathway at the close of the middle ages. The leading of that light
they still pursued, as though they had been consecrated to the service
of a god before unknown in modern Europe. Their first and foremost
gift to nations who had scourged and slain them, was a new and radiant
conception of humanity. This conception externalized itself in the
creation of a common mental atmosphere, in the expression of the
modern spirit by fine art and literature, in the diffusion of all that
is contained for us in culture. They wrought, thought, painted, carved
and built with the antique ideal as a guiding and illuminative
principle in view. This principle enabled them to elevate and
harmonize, to humanize and beautify the coarser elements existing in
the world around them. What they sought and clung to in the heritage
of the ancients, was the divinity of form--the form that gives grace,
loveliness, sublimity to common flesh and blood in art; style to
poetry and prose; urbanity to social manners; richness and elegance to
reflections upon history and statecraft and the problems of still
infantine science. Lastly, whatsoever is implied in the double
formula of the discovery of man and of the world--the resuscitation of
learning by scholars; the positive study of human motives and action
by historians; the new philosophy prepared by speculators of the
Southern school; the revival of mathematical and astronomical
researches after a sound method; the endeavor to base physical science
on experiment and observation; the exploration of the western
hemisphere by navigators--all this we owe to the Italians of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

We may allow that their execution of a task so arduous and beneficial
was accomplished under conditions of social corruption and political
apathy, which somewhat dimmed the luster of their triumph. It may be
admitted that they failed, even in their own domains of art and
poetry, to realize the highest possible ideals; and we may ascribe
this failure partly to their moral feebleness, which contradicts our
sense of manhood. Still these are no reasons why we should not pay the
homage due to their achievement. The deepest interest in the Italian
Renaissance, the warmest recognition of its services to modern Europe,
are compatible with a just conviction that the tone of that epoch is
not to be imitated. Such imitation would, in point of fact, be not
merely anachronistic but impossible. To insist on anything so obvious
would be impertinent to common sense, were we not from time to time
admonished from the chair of criticism that a new Gospel, founded on
the principles of the Renaissance, has been or is being preached in
England. Criticism, however, is fallible; and in this matter its
mistake is due to the English incapacity for understanding that
scientific curiosity may be engaged, without didactic objects, on
moral and historical problems. We cannot extract from the Renaissance
a body of ethical teaching, an ideal of conduct, or a discipline of
manners, applicable to the altered conditions of the nineteenth
century. But we can exercise our ingenuity upon the complex questions
which it offers; we can satisfy the passion of inquiry, which prompts
men to examine, analyze, reflect upon, and reappropriate the past. We
can attempt to depict the period, as we recover a phase of our own
youth by recollection, extenuating nothing, setting nothing down in
malice, using the results of our researches for no purposes of
propaganda, but aiming, in so far as our capacity sustains us, at the
simple truth about it.

For a student animated with this passion of curiosity, the Italian
Renaissance, independently of any sympathies he may have formed for
the Italian people, or any fascination which an age and race so
picturesque may exercise, must be a subject worthy of most patient
contemplation. As we grow in knowledge, corroborating and confirming
those views about the world and man which originated with the new
direction given to inquiry in the fifteenth century, we learn with
ever stronger certainty, that as there is no interruption in the order
of nature, so the history of civilization is continuous and undivided.
In the sequence of events, in the growth of human character, no
arbitrary freaks, no flaws of chance, are recognizable. Age succeeds
to age; nations rise and perish; new elements are introduced at
intervals into the common stock; the drama is not played out with one
set of actors. But, in spite of all change, and though we cannot as
yet demonstrate the law of evolution in details, we are reasonably
convinced that the development of human energy and intellectual
consciousness has been carried on without cessation from the earliest
times until the present moment, and is destined to unbroken progress
through the centuries before us. History, under the influence of this
conception, is rapidly ceasing to be the record of external incidents,
of isolated moments, or of brilliant episodes in the epic of humanity.
We have learned to look upon it as the biography of man. To trace the
continuity of civilization through the labyrinths of chance and error
and suspended energy, apparent to a superficial glance or partial
knowledge, but on closer observation and a wider sweep of vision found
to disappear, is the highest aim of the historian. The germ of this
new notion of man's life upon our planet was contained in the cardinal
intuition of the Renaissance, when the ancient and the modern worlds
were recognized as one. It assumed the dignity of organized
speculation in the German philosophies of history, and in the positive
philosophy of Auguste Comte. It has received its most powerful
corroboration from recent physical discoveries, and has acquired
firmer consistency in the Darwinian speculation. Whether we approach
the problem from a theological, a positive, or a purely scientific
point of view, the force of the hypothesis remains unaltered. We are
obliged to think of civilized humanity as one.

In this unbroken sequence of events, a place of prime importance must
be assigned to the Renaissance; and the Italian race at that moment
must be regarded, for a short while at least, as the protagonist of
the universal drama. The first stage of civilization is by common
consent assigned to the Eastern empires of remote antiquity; the
second to the Hellenic system of civic liberty and intellectual
energy; the third to Roman organization. During the third period a new
spiritual force was evolved in Christianity, and new factors were
introduced into Europe by the immigration of the Northern races. The
fourth historical period is occupied by the Church and feudalism, the
first inheriting Roman organization, the second helping to constitute
the immigrant races into new nationalities. The fifth great epoch is
the emancipation of modern Europe from medieval influences. We may be
said to live in it; for though the work of liberation has in large
measure been accomplished, no new social principle or comprehensive
system has yet supervened. Three movements in the process can,
however, be discerned; and these are respectively known by the names
of Renaissance, Reformation, Revolution. It was in the first of these
three stages that Italy determined the course of civilization. To
neglect the work achieved by Italy, before the other nations of Europe
had emerged from feudalism, is tantamount to dropping a link
indispensable to the strength and cohesion of the whole chain.

Accustomed to regard the Church as a political member of their own
confederation, and withdrawn from the feudal system by the action of
their communes, the Italians were specially fitted to perform their
task. The conditions under which they lived as the inheritors of Rome,
obliged them to look backward instead of forward; and from this
necessity emerged the Revival of Learning, which not only restored the
interrupted consciousness of human unity, but supplied the needful
starting-point for a new period of intellectual growth. The connection
between the study of classical literature, scientific investigation,
and Biblical criticism, has been already insisted on in this work.
From the Renaissance sprang the Reformation, veiling the same spirit
in another form, before the Church bethought herself of quenching the
new light in Italy. Without the skeptical and critical industry of the
Italians; without their bold explorations in the fields of philosophy,
theology and political science; without their digging round the roots
of human knowledge; without their frank disavowal of past medieval
transcendentalism; neither the German Reformation nor the advance of
speculative thought in France, Holland and England, would have been

To pursue the subject further is not necessary. How the Revolution was
linked to the Reformation by the intermediate action of Holland,
England and America; and how the European peoples, educated after the
type designed by Italian humanists, formed their literatures, built up
philosophies, and based positive inquiry on solid foundations, are
matters too well known and have too often been already noted to need
illustration. It is enough for a student of the Renaissance to have
suggested that the peculiar circumstances and sympathies of the
Italians, at a certain moment of this modern evolution, forced and
enabled them to do what was imperatively demanded for its after
progress. That they led the van of liberation; that, like the Jews
and Greeks, their predecessors, they sacrificed their independence in
the very triumph of achievement; are claims upon our everlasting
gratitude. This lends the interest of romance or drama to the doleful
tale of depredation and enslavement which concludes the history of the
Italian Renaissance.



(See above, chapter xi.)

_Italian Comic Prologues._

The current of opinion represented by the prologues to Italian
comedies deserves some further illustration.

Bibbiena, in the _Calandra_, starts with what is tantamount to an
apology for the modern style of his play. "Voi sarete oggi spettatori
d'una nuova commedia intitolata Calandra, in prosa non in versi,
moderna non antica, volgare non latina." He then explains why he has
chosen the language of his age and nation, taking great pains to
combat learned prejudices in favor of pure Latin. At the close he
defends himself from the charge of having robbed from Plautus,
confessing at the same time that he has done so, and thus restricting
his earlier boast of novelty to the bare point of diction.

In the prose _Cassaria_, which was contemporaneous with the
_Calandra_, Ariosto takes the same line:

    Nuova commedia v'appresento, piena
        Di vari giuochi; che nè mai latine
        Nè greche lingue recitarno in scena.
    Parmi vedere che la più parte incline
        A riprenderla, subito ch'ho detto
        Nuova, senza ascoltarne mezzo o fine:
    Chè tale impresa non gli par suggetto
        Delli moderni ingegni, e solo stima
        Quel, che gli antiqui han detto, esser perfetto.

He then proceeds to defend his own audacity, which really consists in
no more than the attempt to remodel a Latin play. In the prologue to
the prose _Suppositi_ Ariosto follows a different course, apologizing
for his _contaminatio_ of Plautus and Terence by the argument that
they borrowed from Menander and Apollodorus.

Machiavelli in the prologue to the _Clizia_ says that history repeats
itself. What happened at Athens, happened yesterday at Florence. He
has, therefore, laid his scene at Florence: "perchè Atene è rovinata,
le vie, le piazze, i luoghi non vi si riconoscono." He thus justifies
the modern _rifacimento_ of an ancient comedy conducted upon classical

Gelli in the _Sporta_ reproduces Ariosto's defense for the
_Suppositi_. If he has borrowed from Plautus and Terence, they
borrowed from Menander. Then follows an acute description of comedy as
it should be: "La commedia, per non essere elleno altro ch'uno
specchio di costumi della vita privata e civile sotto una imaginazione
di verità, non tratto da altro che di cose, che tutto 'l giorno
accaggiono al viver nostro, non ci vedrete riconoscimenti di giovani o
di fanciulle che oggidì non ne occorre."

Cecchi in the _Martello_ says he has followed the _Asinaria_:

    Rimbustata a suo dosso, e su compostovi
    (Aggiungendo e levando, come meglio
    Gli è parso; e ciò, non per corregger Plauto,
    Ma per accomodarsi ai tempi e agli uomini
    Che ci sono oggidì) questa sua favola.

In the _Moglie_ and the _Dissimili_ he makes similar statements,
preferring "la opinione di quelli maestri migliori" (probably Ariosto
and Machiavelli), and also:

                    perchè il medesimo
    Ved'egli che hanno fatto li più nobili
    Comici che vi sieno.

Lorenzino de' Medici in his prologue to the _Aridosio_ tells the
audience they must not be angry if they see the usual lover, miser,
and crafty servant, "e simil cose delle quali non può uscire chi vuol
fare commedie."

These quotations may suffice. If we analyze them, it is clear that at
first the comic playwrights felt bound to apologize for writing in
Italian; next, that they had to defend themselves against the charge
of plagiarism; and in the third place that, when the public became
accustomed to Latinizing comedies in the vulgar tongue, they undertook
the more difficult task of justifying the usage which introduced so
many obsolete, monotonous, and anachronistic elements into dramatic
literature. At first they were afraid to innovate even to the slight
extent of adaptation. At last they were driven to vindicate their
artificial forms of art on the score of prescribed usage. But when
Cecchi and Lorenzino de' Medici advanced these pleas, which seem to
indicate a desire on the part of their public for a more original and
modern comedy, the form was too fixed to be altered. Aretino, boldly
breaking with tradition, had effected nothing. Il Lasca, laughing at
the learned unrealities of his contemporaries, was not strong enough
to burst their fetters. Nothing was left for the playwrights but to go
on cutting down the old clothes of Plautus and Terence to fit their
own backs--as Cecchi puts it.


(See above, chapter xiv.)

_Passages translated from Folengo and Berni, which illustrate the
Lutheran opinions of the Burlesque Poets._


    "To Thee, and not to any Saint I go;
    How should their mediation here succeed?
    The Canaanitish woman, well I know,
    Prayed not to James or Peter in her need;
    She had recourse to only Thee; and so,
    Alone with Thee alone, I hope and plead.
    Thou know'st my weal and woe; make plain the way
    Thou, Lord, for to none other dare I pray.

    "Nor will I wander with the common kind,
    Who, clogged with falsehood and credulity,
    Make vows to Gothard or to Roch, and mind
    I know not what Saint Bovo more than Thee;
    Because some friar, as cunning as they're blind,
    Offering to Moloch, his dark deity,
    Causes Thy Mother, up in heaven, a Queen,
    To load with spoil his sacrifice obscene.

    "Beneath the husk of piety these friars
    Make a huge harvest for themselves to hold;
    The alms on Mary's altar quench the fires
    Of impious greed in priests who burn for gold:
    Another of their odious laws requires
    That year by year my faults should still be told
    To a monk's ears:--I who am young and fair!--
    He hears, and straightway flogs his shoulders bare:

    "He flogs himself because he feels the sting
    My words, impregnate with lasciviousness,
    Send to his heart; so sharp are they, and wring
    His lust so nearly, that, in sore distress,
    With wiles and wheedling ways, he seeks to bring
    Me in his secret will to acquiesce;
    And here confessors oft are shown to be
    More learned in pimping than divinity.

    "Therefore, O Lord, that know'st the heart of man,
    And seest Thy Church in these same friars' grasp,
    To Thee with contrite soul, as sinners can,
    Who hope their faults forgiven, my hands I clasp;
    And if, my God, from this mad ocean
    Thou'lt save me, now, as at my latest gasp,
    I vow that never more will I trust any
    Who grant indulgences for pound or penny."

    Such prayers, chock-full of rankest heresy,
    Prayed Berta; for she was a German wench:
    In those days, you must know, theology
    Had changed herself to Roman, Flemish, French;
    But I've my doubts that in the end she'll be
    Found squatting _à la_ Moor on some Turk's bench,
    Because Christ's seamless coat has so been tattered
    Its rags have long since to the winds been scattered.


    "I do not marvel much," Rainero cried,
    "If the lambs suffer scandals and the fold
    Be ruined by these wolves of lust and pride,
    Foemen to God beneath God's flag enrolled:
    But for the present need I'll soon provide--
    Ho! to my presence drag yon Prior bold!"
    Sharp were the words; the sheriff in a skurry,
    He and his serjeants to the convent hurry,

    Drag forth that _monstr'horrendum_ from his lair,
    And lead him straight to Rayner on his throne;
    Folk run together at the brute to stare,
    You never saw an ox so overgrown;
    And not a man but stops his nostrils there
    From the foul stench of wine, sweat, filth unknown;
    One calls him Bacchus, and Silenus one,
    Or hog, or bag of beastliness, or tun.

    "Stand forth before my face," Rainero cries,
    "Thou man of God, prophet most reverend!
    I know that thou in all the lore art wise,
    Of things divine, and what the stars portend;
    With thee the freedom of S. Peter lies,
    Great freedom though but little pelf to spend!
    Stand forth, I say, before me, Father blest;
    There are some doubts I'd fain have put to rest.

    "Truly thou know'st e'en better how much tripe
    Must go to stuff the cupboard of thy prog:
    'Tis there are stowed more fish, flesh, onions ripe,
    Than there be leaves in forest, field, or bog:
    Thy scores of partridge, pheasant, woodcock, snipe,
    Outnumber the sea sands, thou gorging dog!
    Therefore I honor thee no more nor less
    Than a beast filled with filth, a stinking cess.

    "Bundle of guts, hast thou no shame to show
    Thy visage to the eyes of living wight?
    Think'st thou that 'tis for nothing thou dost owe
    Thy calling to Christ's sheepfold? By this light,
    Judas the traitor did no worse, I know,
    Than thou what time he sold his Lord at night;
    Caiaphas, Annas, Herod, Pilate, all
    Helped Pluto less than thou man's soul to thrall.

    "Think'st thou the Benedicts, Pauls, Anthonies,
    Gave rules like thine unto their neophytes?
    They fed on lentils, beans, peas, cabbages,
    Curbing their own rebellious appetites,
    Not merely preaching how the spirit flees
    From Satan's fraud and his accursèd rites;
    They slept on sand and marble cold, and sang
    Psalms that through night and day unceasing rang.

    "Quiet within their cells they stayed, nor dealt
    On street or square with idle loitering bands;
    Kindly to wayfarers and meek, they knelt
    To wash their feet, and not, like you, their hands;
    And when they left the cloisters where they dwelt,
    To traverse hills or plains in foreign lands,
    A staff or crutch upon their pilgrimage
    Sufficed to prop the faltering steps of age.

    "That frugal diet of plain herb and root
    You've changed to-day for quails and partridges;
    Some miracle has turned to flesh their fruit,
    Their acorns, brambles, and wild strawberries;
    The straw they slept on, hath grown dissolute
    With down and cushions; their lean visages
    Are swathed in fat, with double, treble chins,
    Red as the sun's face when the day begins.

    "Their staves and crutches, O rare miracle
    Wrought by these living Saints! are steeds of price;
    Their reed-built cot, refectory or cell,
    Soar into palaces that flout the skies;
    In many an Abbey now lewd strumpets dwell,
    Hounds, hawks, the instruments of pride and vice:--
    Fools, madmen, idiots, maniacs are ye,
    Who've left to priests or friars your wealth in fee!

    "What could be worse impiety than thus
    To rob your lawful kindred of their own,
    And squander it on those obstreperous
    Bell-ringing monks, who let one voice alone
    Speak in the Church for twenty?--All that fuss
    In praise of poverty is only shown
    To bait beneath the shadow of their cowl
    Some gudgeon, or birdlime some silly fowl!"

    Such things and others full of angry spite
    Said Rayner, contrary to sober reason;
    For if a man should lose his temper quite,
    Sense leaves him, he can't speak one word in season:
    But when Church rights and wrongs their wrath excite,
    I've noticed that your great men often seize on
    Some crazy fad; they fancy, O how silly!
    That friars should feed on acorns, willy-nilly.

    Then spake the Prior: "Noble Lord and Sir!
    With your forbearance I'll speak with precision.
    _Ecclesia Dei_ ne'er was known to err;
    You may have read in Tully this decision:
    The Stagyrite, our sole interpreter
    Of Gospel text, confirms this definition--
    _Quod merum Laicus non det judicare
    Clericam Preti et Fratris scapulare._

    "There is a gloss which lays down, _quod Prelatum
    Non est subjectus legi Constantina,
    Affirmans eo quod nullum peccatum
    Accidit in persona et re divina.
    Et hoc deinceps fuit roboratum
    In capite, Ne agro a Clementina.
    Et princeps, qui de Ecclesia se impazzabit,
    Scomunicatus cito publicabit_.

    "Saith _Thomas_ in a text on which I've pored,
    Second distinction of his Chapter _quo_,
    _Quod unde Spirtus Sanctum_ hath been stored,
    _Possibile non est_ for sin to accrue:
    My life hath naught to hide, illustrious Lord,
    _In visu verbo et opera_ from you;
    For Christ himself our Saviour teaches that,
    Speaking to all, _lux vestra luceat_.

    "Behold and see how next my skin I wear
    A shirt of wool instead of linen fine!
    By hair-cloth of this texture you may swear
    I circumspectly walk in duty's line.
    Look now a little lower!"--Free and fair
    Laughed Rayner, when the excellent divine
    Shows all he's got--an illustration purer
    Than e'er occurred to Saint Bonaventura.


    I am no heretic, as to my shame
    Before the common folk you christen me!
    Perchance your lofty Reverence will claim
    Me for a cut-throat, come from Saxony,
    To wreak my violence on Rome's dread name!
    Yet you are wrong: for, look you, Burgundy
    Trusts less in German Bishops, or in French,
    Or Spanish, than the mighty Roman Bench.

    Far more I trust in the high Trinity,
    In Father, Son, and eke the Spirit blest;
    In Mary's undefiled virginity,
    Since God from her derived his fleshly vest;
    I trust in that inscrutable potency
    Granted from God to man, by which behest
    He dares, if his enormities be great,
    Call himself, not God, but God's delegate.

    It is my creed that the good Jesus wrought
    All that He came to witness here below;
    I hold that the predicted sword he brought,
    Came to bring peace on earth and also woe;
    I hold that a thief's tear, repentance-fraught,
    Shuts Hell and opens Heaven; and this I know
    That the firm truth of what the Gospel saith,
    Is naught but pure and uncorrupted Faith.

    I hold that He was fair without one flaw,
    Wore beard and locks around his shoulder sprent;
    I hold the Lamb's blood abrogates the law
    And every type of that old Testament;
    Wherefore I hold there differs not a straw
    Betwixt the tonsure and the hair unshent;
    But I believe the clergy still were known
    For rebels to His work and will alone.

    I hold that on the motion of a lewd
    Pope of that year, with certain Pharisees,
    Pilate did nail Him to the cruel wood
    Between two thieves with fierce indignities;
    I hold that thence for men a pledge accrued,
    And memory so sweet that still it frees
    Us from God's righteous anger, and discloses
    The veil that clung before the eyes of Moses.

    I speak of His dire passion, and the boon
    Most wondrous of His body and His blood,
    Eating the which all persons late or soon
    May quit those quails and grouse, their desert food;
    I hold that Christ seeks not for eyes that swoon,
    Wry necks, and faces set to solemn mood;
    But for the heart alone: this is my creed;
    If it be wrong, I waste vain breath indeed.

    I hold that Hell exists, and Purgatory,
    Beyond this world; and here I prove it too:
    Wherefore, in concert with S. Paul, I glory
    In having passed those many trials through,
    Not by my might but that great adjutory,
    Who calls aloud with ringing voice and true;
    Perils mid hills and robbers, storms and fires,
    Perils at sea, and perils from false friars!

    My Saviour in the flesh I trust to see,
    And hope for ever to enjoy His sight:--
    But here the force of faith abandons me;
    Help then, thou Bishop, Great Albertus hight!
    Son of Nichomachus, I turn to thee,
    Dubbed Doctor of the Church by Thomas wight,
    Without whose Metaphysic, as I've read,
    The _Verbum Dei_ were but ill bestead.

    I hold that a lay sinner can repent;
    That Churchmen never are what they pretend--
    I speak of bad ones:--d'you mistake my bent,
    And in God's house defy me to contend?--
    Pray softly, softly! It was never meant,
    Good servants of our Lord, _your_ fame to rend:
    Nay, _you_ I honor, since you please God duly;
    Places I'd change with _you_ really and truly:

    Gainst scapular and cord I've naught to tell,
    Gainst cowl or tassel, breviary or book;
    That superstition need not choke you, well
    I know; you may be pious as you look:
    I swear to all that no man here should smell
    Disparagement to monks, from prior to cook;
    I'm aiming at those wolves and hirelings fairly,
    Who give large orders and perform them sparely.


    A brand-new story now compels my song,
    To make the twentieth canto bright and clear,
    Whence all the world shall plainly learn ere long
    Some saints are not such saints as they appear;
    For cowls, gray, blue or black, a motley throng,
    With dangling breviaries and brows severe,
    And often naming on the lips our Lord,
    While the heart's cold, no sanctity afford.

    A cupping-glass upon your skull, a leech,
    A blister, or a tonsure, are all one;
    It will not help you though you gird your breech
    With several braces or with one alone;
    Or wear straight vestments, long and lank, that reach
    Like coachmen's great-coats to your heels, or drone
    Gibberish and Paternosters:--Sainthood needs
    More than fair words for foul and filthy deeds.

    The hands are where true charity begins;
    Not the mouth, face, or clothes: be mild, humane,
    Reticent, sorry for your neighbor's sins,
    Pitiful to his suffering and his pain:
    Christians need wear no masks; who wears them, wins
    A backway to the fold, and brings it bane,
    Scaling the wall by craft--a traitor he,
    A thief and knave, who deals in subtlety.

    These be that tribe of rogues and rascals whom
    Our good Lord hates, the race on whom alone
    In wrath he uttered that tremendous doom,
    Though every other fault he could condone:
    Ye whited sepulchers, ye living tomb,
    Fire on the surface, in the soul a stone!
    Why will ye wash the outside of the platter?
    First cleanse your heart--that is the graver matter!

    'Tis said by some that by and by the good
    Pope and his Prelates will reform their ways:
    I tell you that a turnip has no blood,
    Nor sick folk health, nor can you hope to raise
    Syrup from vinegar to sauce your food:
    The Church will be reformed when summer days
    Come without gad-flies, when a butcher's store
    Has neither bones nor dogs about the door.

    Sanga, this lewd age is an age of lead,
    Whence Truth is banished both in deed and word:
    You're called a fool, poor-spirited, ill-bred,
    If you but name S. Peter and our Lord:
    Where'er you walk, where'er you turn your head,
    Some rascal hypocrite, with scowl abhorred,
    Snarls twixt his teeth "Freethinker! Lutheran!"--
    And Lutheran means, you know, good Christian.

    Those grasping priests have thrown a net full wide:
    With bells and anthems, altar-cloth and cope,
    They lift their well-decked shrines on every side,
    Bent upon life eternal--sorry hope!
    This wooden image is the sailor's pride,
    That plastered face the soldier's; piss-pots slope
    In rows to Cosmo and S. Damian;
    The pox belong to stout Sebastian.

    Baron S. Anthony hides fire in heart,
    Thoughts of the donkey and the swine in head;
    Whence comes it that all monks in every part
    Stuff paunch and wallet with flesh, wine, and bread:
    Yon Abbot, like Silenus, fills a cart;
    Yon Cardinal's a Bacchus overfed;
    The Pope through Europe sells, a second Mars,
    Bulls and indulgences to feed his wars.

    The Word of God, aroused from its long trance,
    Runs like live fire abroad through Germany;
    The work continues, as the days advance,
    Unmasking that close-cloaked iniquity,
    Which with a false and fraudulent countenance
    So long imposed on France, Spain, Italy:
    Now by the grace of God we've learned in sooth
    What mean the words Church, Charity, Hope, Truth.

    O the great goodness of our heavenly Sire!
    Behold, his Son once more appears on high,
    Treads under foot the proud rebellious ire
    Of faithless Churchmen, who by threat and lie
    Strove to conceal the Love that did inspire
    The mighty Maker of earth, sea, and sky,
    What time he served, and bore our flesh, and trod
    With blood the path that leads man back to God.

    None speaks in this lost land of his pure blood,
    That sinless blood of Christ, both God and man,
    Which quelled the serpent's stiff and venomous brood,
    The powers malign that reigned where Lethe ran!
    In his fair bleeding limbs he slew the lewd
    Old Adam from whose sin our woes began,
    Appeased his Father's wrath, and on the door
    Of impious Hell set bars for evermore.

    This is that seed thrice holy and thrice blest,
    Promised to our first parents, which doth bring
    Unto the stairs of heaven our hope oppressed!
    This is that puissant and victorious king,
    Whose foot treads man's misjudgment on the crest!
    This is that calm clear light, whose sunbeams fling
    Shade on the souls and darkness o'er the eyes
    Of fools in this world's knowledge vainly wise!

    O Christians, with the hearts of Hebrews! Ye
    Who make a mortal man your chief and head,
    Of these new Pharisees first Pharisee!
    Your soaring and immortal pinions spread
    For that starred shrine, where, through eternity,
    The Lamb of God is Pope, whose heart once bled
    That men, blind men, from yon pure font on high
    Might seek indulgence full and free for aye!

    Yet that cooked crayfish hath the face to pray,
    Kneeling in chapel opposite that crow,
    That Antichrist, upon some holy day--
    "Thou art our sail, our rudder!"--when we know
    The simple truth requires that he should say
    "Thou art the God of ruin and of woe,
    Father of infinite hypocrisies,
    Of evil customs and all heresies!"--

    O Sanga, for our lord Verona's sake,
    Put by your Virgil, lay Lucretius down,
    Ovid, and him in whom such joy you take,
    Tully, of Latin eloquence the crown!
    With arms out-spread, our heart's arms, let us make
    To Him petition, who, without our own
    Merit or diligence or works, can place
    Our souls in heaven, made worthy by his grace!

    And prithee see that Molza is aware,
    And Navagero, and Flaminio too,
    That here far other things should be our care
    Than Janus, Flora, Thetis, and the crew
    Of Homer's gods, who paint their page so fair!
    Here we experience the false and true;
    Here find that Sun, which shows, without, within,
    That man by nature is compact of sin.

    O good Fregoso, who hast shut thine ear
    To all those siren songs of Poesy,
    Abiding by the mirror keen and clear,
    In joyance of divine Philosophy
    Both Testaments, Old, New, to thee are dear!
    Thou hast outworn that ancient fantasy
    Which led thee once with Fondulo to call
    Plato the link twixt Peter and S. Paul!--

    But now Gradasso calls me; I am bid
    Back to the follies of my Paladins--
                  etc., etc.


_On Palmieri's "Città di Vita."_ (_To illustrate Part I. p. 171._)

In the first part of this sketch of Italian literary history
(_Renaissance in Italy_, vol. iv. p. 171, note 2) I promised, if
possible, to give some further notice of Palmieri's poem entitled the
_Città di Vita_. This promise I was unable to fulfill in the proper
place. But while my book was going through the press, I obtained the
necessary materials for such a study of Palmieri's work through the
courtesy of a Florentine scholar, Signor A. Gherardi, who sent me
extracts from a MS. existing in the Laurentian Library. This MS.,
which is an illuminated parchment codex, contains, besides the poem,
the commentary of Lionardo Dati, with his Life of the author and two
of his letters addressed to Palmieri. Whether or not the codex is an
autograph, remains uncertain. But it has this singular interest, that
Matteo Palmieri himself presented it to the Art of the Notaries in
Florence, sealed and under the express condition that it should not be
opened so long as he lived imprisoned in his body--"ut non aperiatur
dum in suo religatus corpusculo vivat." After his death, the Republic
decreed a public funeral to their honored magistrate and servant; and
the MS. in question was placed upon his breast in the church of S.
Pier Maggiore, where he was interred in the family chapel of the
Palmieri. Alamanno Rinuccini pronounced the panegyrical oration on
this occasion; and in his speech he alluded to "this bulky volume
which lies upon his breast, a poem in _terza rima_, called by him the
City of Life."

It would appear, from the circumstance of the volume having been
presented under seal to the Art of the Notaries, that Palmieri, while
wishing to secure the safety of his poem, was aware of its liability
to censure. What he may have dreaded, happened after his decease; for
his opinions were condemned as heretical, and the picture Botticelli
painted for him in illustration of his views, was removed from its
place in the Palmieri Chapel of S. Pier Maggiore. This picture is now
in the possession of the Duke of Hamilton.

The MS. of the _Città di Vita_ passed from the Art of the Notaries
into the Laurentian Library. Since the biographical notices from the
pen of Palmieri's friend, Lionardo Dati, which this MS. contains, form
our most trustworthy source of information about the poet's life, it
may be well to preface the account of his poem with an abstract of
their contents. Matteo Palmieri was a member of an honorable
Florentine family. Born in 1405, he received his first education in
grammar from Sozomeno of Pistoja. Afterwards he studied Greek and
Latin letters in the schools of Carlo Aretino and Ambrogio Traversari.
In early manhood he entered public life, and passed through the
various Florentine magistracies to the dignity of Gonfalonier of
Justice. The Signory employed him upon embassies to Calixtus III.,
Frederick III., Alfonso the Magnanimous and Paul II. Matteo devoted
his leisure to study and composition. The treatise _Della Vita
Civile_, which he wrote in Italian, was a work of his adolescence.
Then followed, in Latin, a Life of Niccolò Acciaiolo, a narrative of
the successful war with Pisa, and a Universal History, which was
subsequently continued by Mattia Palmieri--a Pisan, who, though he
bore the same name, was in no wise related to our author. The _Città
di Vita_ was a work of his mature age. He died probably in 1478.

Matteo told Lionardo Dati that on the first of August, 1451, while he
was living at Pescia as Governor of the Val di Nievole, he dreamed
that his dead friend Cipriano Rucellai appeared to him, and invited
him to the yearly festival which was celebrated on that day in a
monastery, called Il Paradiso, near Florence. In his dream, Matteo
accompanied the ghost of Cipriano, conversing on the way about the
state of spirits after death--where they dwell, and how they are
permitted to revisit their living friends. Cipriano, moreover,
revealed to him weighty matters concerning the nature of the human
soul. He told him how God first made angels in innumerable hosts.
These angels separated into three companies. The one band followed
Lucifer, when he rebelled. The second held with Michael and abode firm
in their allegiance. The third decided neither for God nor for the
Devil. After Lucifer's defeat, these angels of the third class were
relegated to the Elysian fields, which extend at all points over the
extreme periphery of the highest sphere; and God, wishing to give them
a final chance of determining for good or evil, ordained that they
should, one by one, be sent to dwell in human bodies. There, attended
by a good and a bad spirit, they have the choice of lives, and after
their death in the body, are drafted into the trains of Lucifer or
Michael according to their conduct. Having communicated this doctrine,
Cipriano vanished from his friend's sight with these words upon his

    Misero ad noi quanto mal segno
    Rizoron quelli che si fer ribelli
    Per porre in aquilon loco più degno.

Palmieri forgot or neglected the import of his dream until the year
1455, when he was at Alfonso's Court in Naples. There Cipriano
appeared to him again, rebuked him for his carelessness, and bade him
write a poem in _terza rima_, after Dante's method, on the subject of
their former discourse. He also recommended him three books, which
would assist him in the labor. When Palmieri returned to Florence, he
obtained these helps and set about the composition of his poem. It
must have been completed in 1464; for in this year Dati received a
copy, which he styled _opus pæne divinum_, and began to annotate. In
1466 Dati wrote again to Palmieri, thanking him for an emended copy of
the work, which the author had sent him from Florence to Rome.
Palmieri's own letter accompanying the gift, refers to the poem as
already published. This proves (as would, indeed, appear from the
title given him by Ficino of _Poeta Theologicus_) that, whatever may
have been his dread of a prosecution for heresy, he had at least
divulged the _Città di Vita_ to the learned.

The poem consists of three books, divided, like Dante's _Commedia_,
into one hundred Cantos; but the extra Canto has by Palmieri been
assigned to the last instead of the first Cantica. The title _Città di
Vita_ was given to it, because Palmieri designed to bring the universe
into consideration under the aspect of spiritual existence. The
universe, as he conceived it, is the burgh in which all souls live.
His object was to show how free-will is innate in men, who have the
choice of good and evil, of salvation or perdition, in this life. The
origin of evil he relegates to that prehistoric moment of Lucifer's
revolt, when the third class of angels refused to side with either God
or Devil. In the first book, then, he describes how these angels are
transmitted from the Elysian fields to earth, in order that they may
become men, and in their mortal body be forced to exercise their
faculty of election. In the second book he treats of the way of
perdition. In the third book he deals with the way of salvation.
Following Dante's precedent in the choice of Virgil, he takes the
Sibyl for his guide upon the beginning of this visionary journey.

The heretical portions of the _Città di Vita_ are Cantos v. ix. x. xi.
of the first Cantica. These deal with the original creation of angelic
essences, and with the transit of the indeterminate angels to our
earth. Regarding the universe from the Ptolemaic point of view,
Palmieri conceives that these angels, who inhabit the Elysian fields
beyond the utmost verge of the stellar spheres, proceed on their
earthward journey through the several planets, till they reach our
globe, which is the center of the whole. On their way, they gradually
submit to animal impressions and prepare themselves for incarnation,
according to that conception which made the human soul itself in a
certain sense corporeal. It is here that Palmieri adjusts the theory
of planetary influences to his theory of free will. For he supposes
that the angels assimilate the qualities of the planetary spheres as
they pass through them, being attracted by curiosity to one planet
rather than another. At the same time they undergo the action of the
three superior elements, which fits them for their final reception
into an earthly habitation. After this wise he ingeniously combined
his theories of the Creation, the Fall, and Free-will, with
Averroistic doctrines of intermediate intelligences and speculations
collected from Platonistic writings.

The path of the descending angels is, to quote the words of Dati, "in
a straight line beneath the first point of Cancer to the cave of
earth, in which line there are ten gates, for each of the planets to
wit, and for the three super-terrestrial elements each his gate. The
whole of this vast body of the universe is by our poet called the City
of Life, forasmuch as in this universe all creatures live. And this
journey of the souls from Elysium to their bodies is performed in one
year." It will be observed that Palmieri affected the precision of his
master Dante. Having thus conducted the soul to earth, he is no less
definite in his description of the two ways, which severally lead to
damnation and salvation. In the second Cantica, he employs the space
of a whole year compressed into one night, in passing through the
eighteen mansions of the passions of the flesh, fortune and the mind.
For this journey he has the guidance of an evil spirit. Afterwards, in
the third Cantica, he employs the same space of one year compressed
into a single day, in traversing the twelve mansions of civil virtue
and purgation, through which the soul arrives at beatific life. In
this voyage he is guided by a good angel. It is not necessary to enter
further into the calculations whereby Palmieri adjusts the chronology
and cosmography of his vision to the Ptolemaic theory of the universe.

Though the material of the poem is thus curious, and the structure
thus ingenious, it does not rise in style above the level of the works
of Frezzi and Uberti (see above vol. iv. chap. 3). In order to give
the reader a specimen of its composition, I will extract a passage
from Cantica I. Canto v., which concerns the Divine Being and the
Creation of Angels:

    Sopra ogn'altro potere è questo tale,
      che come e' vuole in tutto può giovare,
      sanza potenza di voler far male.
    Tal carità volendo ad altri dare
      la gloria in sè, (?) di se stesso godeva,
      degnò co' cieli ancor la terra fare.
    Et perchè cosa far non si poteva
      che eterno bene in ciel sempre godesse,
      se sempre quel goder non intendeva;
    Intelligenza bisognò facesse
      con lume di ragione et immortale,
      ad chi l'eterno ben tutto si desse.
    Creatura fè per questo rationale,
      l'angelo et l'huomo acciò che 'l somme bene
      godessono intendendo quel che e' vale.
    Da 'ntenderlo et amar di ragion vene
      volerlo possedere, et con letitia
      per sempre usar sanza timor di pene.
    Ad questo Idio creò la gran militia
      del celestiale exercitio et felice,
      che 'n parte cadde per la sua malitia.


     _In the following Index the volume on the 'Age of the
     Despots' is referred to as Vol. I., that on the 'Revival of
     Learning' as Vol. II., that on the 'Fine Arts' as Vol. III.,
     and the two Volumes on 'Italian Literature' as Vols. IV. and

  Abbas Siculus, received 800 scudi yearly as Jurist at Bologna, ii. 122

  Abbreviators, college of, founded by Pius II., ii. 358

  Abelard, teaching of, i. 9, v. 467

  Academies, the Italian, ii. 161, 311;
    lose their classical character, 365;
    their degeneracy, 367, 542, v. 272;
    Milton's commendation of them, ii. 367;
    their effect on Italian poetry, v. 272

  Academy, the Aldine, at Venice, ii. 385, v. 272

  Accaiuolo, Ruberto, i. 197 _note_ 1, 203 _note_ 2

  Accaiuolo, Zenobio, made librarian of the Vatican, ii. 425

  Accarigi, his Dictionary to Boccaccio, v. 254 _note_ 1

  Accolti, Francesco di Michele, his _terza rima_ version of the _Principe
    di Salerno_, iv. 250 _note_ 2

  Accoramboni, Vittoria, Bandello's _Novella_ upon her trial, v. 54;
    use made of it by Webster, 69, 117, 288;
    her poetry, v. 288

  Achates, Leonard, his edition of Lascari's grammar, ii. 376

  Achillini, Professor of Philosophy at Padua, v. 458, 459

  Adami, Tobia, the disciple of Campanella, v. 481

  Admonition, the Law of, at Florence, i. 226

  Adolph of Nassau, pillages Maintz, ii. 368

  Adorni, the, at Genoa, i. 201

  Adrian VI., the tutor of Charles V., iv. 398;
    elected by political intrigues, i. 441;
    his simplicity of life and efforts at reform, 441-443 (cp. ii. 434,
    Berni's Satire on him, i. 443, v. 368

  Agnolo, Baccio d', architect of the Campanile of S. Spirito at Florence,
    iii. 86

  Agolanti of Padua, i. 114

  Agostino, Pre, his _Lamenti_, iv. 172 _note_ 2

  Agrippa, his _De Vanitate Scientiarum_ quoted for the corruptions of
    Rome, i. 459 _note_ 1

  Alamanni, Antonio, writer of the 'Triumph of Death,' iv. 320, 393-395;
    translated, 395

  Alamanni, Jacopino, story of, i. 211

  Alamanni, Luigi, his translation of the _Antigone_, v. 134, 240;
    his didactic poem, _La Coltivazione_, 237;
    translation (in prose) of a passage on the woes of Italy, 238;
    story of his life, 239;
    number and variety of his works, 240;
    his dramatic poem, the _Flora_, 240;
    translation (in prose) of a passage on Rome, 240 _note_ 1;
    said to have been a great _improvisatore_, 240;
    his satires, 381;
    composed in the metre of the Divine Comedy, iv. 172

  Alamanni, Luigi di Tommaso, executed for his share in the conspiracy
    against Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, v. 239

  Albano, Francesco, v. 229

  Albergati, Niccolò degli, his patronage of Tommaso Parentucelli
    (Nicholas V.), ii. 223

  Alberti, the, at Florence, exiled by the Albizzi, iv. 184, 188;
    their family history, 190 _note_ 1

  Alberti, Leo Battista, his originality, ii. 5;
    his many-sided genius, 10, 341-344, iv. 183, 214-219;
    one of the circle gathered around Lorenzo de' Medici, ii. 322;
      iii. 263;
    his cosmopolitan spirit, iv. 184;
    recommends the study of Italian, iv. 185, v. 508;
    his feelings for the greatness of ancient Rome, iv. 186;
    character of his religious sentiment, 206, 216, 217;
    tenderness of his character, 218, v. 196, 511;
    arranges a poetical competition in Italian at Florence, iv. 238;
    architect of S. Francesco at Rimini, i. 172, 326, ii. 34, 210, 342,
      iii. 70 _note_ 1, 74;
    of S. Andrea at Mantua, ii. 342, iii. 70 _note_ 1, 75, 278;
    of the Rucellai Palace at Florence, ii. 342, iii. 75;
    other architectural works of Alberti, ii. 342, 440, iii. 74-76;
    his admiration of Brunelleschi's dome at Florence, iii. 67 _note_
      1, iv. 209 (cp. _ib._ 204), 216;
    influence of Boccaccio on his writings, iv. 136;
    character of his style, 187;
    his narrative of Porcari's attempt on Nicholas V., i. 265 _note_
      1, 386;
    his description of Nicholas' administration, i. 377;
    his Latin play _Philodoxius_, ii. 341, 452, iv. 183, v. 110;
    his _Trattato della Famiglia_, ii. 37, iv. 188, v. 190, 518;
    its value, iv. 188, 190, v. 455;
    analyzed, iv. 191;
    question whether Alberti was the original author of the treatise
      _Del Governo della Famiglia_, i. 239 _note_ 1, 272, iv. 192-203;
    the Dialogues, v. 451, 455;
    the _Deiciarchia_, iv. 203;
    the _Tranquillità dell'Animo_, 204;
    the _Teogenio_, 205;
    the Essays on the Arts, 207-209;
    the Dedication to Brunelleschi, 208;
    the 'Treatise on Building' cited for the influence of Vitruvius on
      Italian architects, iii. 94 _note_ 1;
    the 'Treatise on Painting,' 127 _note_ 1;
    the various discourses upon Love and Matrimony, iv. 209-211;
    Alberti the reputed author of 'Ippolito and Leonora,' 212, 250;
    his Poems, 213

  Alberti, Leo Battista, the anonymous Memoir of Alberti, ii. 37, 184
    _note_ 1, 195 _note_ 1, 216 _note_ 1, 218

  Albertini, Francesco, aids Mazochi in collecting the Roman Inscriptions,
    ii. 429

  Albertinelli, Mariotto, his friendship with Fra Bartolommeo, iii. 304,

  Alberto da Sarteano, Fra, denounces Beccadelli's 'Hermaphroditus,'
    ii. 256 _note_ 1

  Albertus Magnus, v. 467

  Albicante, Giovanni Alberto, probability that he was Aretino's agent
    in mutilating Berni's _rifacimento_ of the _Orlando Innamorato_, v.
      375-380, 419;
    his relations to Aretino, 419

  Albigenses, the, i. 9

  Albizzi, the, rule of, at Florence, i. 221, iv. 2;
    their contest with the Medici, i. 227 _note_ 3, ii. 167, 170, iv.
      176, 184, 252;
    their exile of the Alberti, iv. 184, 189

  Albizzi, Rinaldo degli, his patronage of learning, ii. 165, 223

  Alciato, ii. 84

  Aldus Manutius. [_See_ Manuzio, Aldo.]

  Aleander, his lectures in Hebrew at Paris, i. 27, ii. 424;
    a member of the Aldine Academy, ii. 387;
    made Cardinal, 402, 424;
    sent to Germany as Nuncio, 424

  Aleotti, Galeotti, architect of the Teatro Farnese at Parma, v. 144

  Alessi, Galeazzo, his work at Genoa, iii. 96;
    his church of S. Maria di Carignano there, 96

  Alexander of Aphrodisias, his view of Aristotle's doctrine of the
    soul, v. 472;
    adopted by Pomponazzi, 459, 472

  Alexander, a Cretan, joint editor of a Greek Psalter, ii. 376

  Alexander III., i. 64

  Alexander IV., preaches a crusade against Ezzelino, i. 107 _note_ 1,
    iv. 280

  Alexander VI., Guiccardini's character of him, i. 308;
    invites the French into Italy, 349, 427, 515;
    Machiavelli makes him his example of successful hypocrisy, 357;
    his additions to the Vatican, 389 _note_ 1;
    personal descriptions of him at his accession, 407;
    the popular legend of him, 408;
    his policy, 410, 427;
    his avarice, 413;
    his relations with the Sultan and murder of Prince Djem, 415, 566
      _note_ 1;
    his attitude towards orthodoxy, 416;
    his establishment of the censorship, 416, ii. 359, 371;
    his sensuality, 417-419;
    his exaggerated love of his children, 417;
    his grief at the murder of the Duke of Gandia, 425;
    his death--was it by poison? 429-431;
    the legend that he had sold his soul to the devil, 431;
    his attempt to gain over or silence Savonarola, 529;
    comes to terms with Charles and saves himself from a General Council,
      427, 532 _note_ 1, 565;
    joins the League of Venice against Charles VIII., 577;
    the _Menæchmi_ represented by his orders at the Vatican at the
      espousal of Lucrezia Borgia, v. 139

  Alexius, Marcus Attilius, his character of Paul II., i. 385 _note_ 1

  Alfonso (the Magnanimous), conquers Naples, i. 88, 568;
    Vespasiano's Life of him, 480 _note_ 1, 569 _note_ 1, ii. 352;
    wins over the Duke of Milan, 568 _note_ 1;
    his nobility of character and love of learning, 569, ii. 38, 252, 265;
    his family life, 569;
    story of his patient listening to a speech of Manetti, ii. 191
      _note_ 1, 254;
    his patronage of Manetti, 192

  Alfonso II., King of Naples, i. 543, 550;
    his avarice, 105;
    his league against Charles VIII., 550;
    character of him by Comines, 572;
    his terrors of conscience and abdication, 119, 572

  Alfonso, Prince of Biseglia, husband of Lucrezia Borgia, murder of,
    i. 420

  Alidosi, the, of Imola, i. 375

  Alidosi, Cardinal, his patronage of scholars, ii. 404

  Alighieri, Jacopo, his commentary upon the Divine Comedy, iv. 163;
    his _Dottrinale_, 240

  Alione, Giovan Giorgio, his Maccaronic Satire on the Lombards, v. 333

  Allegre, Monseigneur d', captures the mistresses of Alexander III.,
    i. 418

  Allegretti, Allegretto, cited, i. 165 _note_ 1;
    on the reconciliation of factions at Siena, 616, iii. 213

  Alopa, Lorenzo, printer of the first edition of Homer, ii. 369, 376

  Alticlinio of Padua, i. 114

  Amadeo, Antonio, iii. 78 _note_ 1;
    dispute about his name, 164;
    his work at the Certosa of Pavia, 164;
    his monument to Media Colleoni, 165

  Amalteo, ii. 506;
    his Latin Eclogues, 453, 497

  Ambra, his Comedies, v. 123, 181

  Ambrogio da Milano, his reliefs in the ducal palace, Urbino, iii. 162
    _note_ 1

  America, discovery of, i. 3, 15, 29, ii. 112;
    given by Alexander VI. to Spain, i. 413

  Amerigo di Peguilhan, his _Lament_ on the death of Manfred, iv. 27

  Amidei, the, at Florence, i. 74, 210, _note_ 2

  Ammanati, Bartolommeo, his work as sculptor and architect in Florence,
    iii. 96;
    feebleness of his statues, 173;
    his regret that he had made so many statues of heathen gods, 174;
    his quarrels with Cellini, 477

  Ammirato, Scipione, quoted for the friendly rivalry of Giangiorgio
    Trissino and Giovanni Rucellai, v. 236

  Amurath II., Filelfo's mission to him, ii. 268

  Andrea dell'Anguillara, Giovanni, his tragedy of _Edippo_, v. 134;
    acted in the Palazzo della Ragione, 134;
    his satiric poems, 381

  Andrea dell'Aquila, probable sculptor of a monument in S. Bernardino,
    Aquila, iii. 141 _note_ 1

  Andrea da Barbarino, probably the author of the _Reali di Francia_,
    iv. 246;
    other romances of his, 246

  Andrea of Florence, said to be the painter of frescoes in S. Maria
    Novella, iii. 205 _note_ 1

  Andrea de Pontadero (_called_ Pisano), his work in bronze and marble,
    iii. 119

  Andrea di Sicilia, elected Professor at Parma, iv. 315

  Angelico, Fra, spirituality of his paintings, iii. 239;
    his intense religious feeling, 303, 311;
    critical difficulty of deciding his place in the succession of
      Florentine painters, 240;
    his frescoes at Orvieto, 283 _note_ 1

  Angioleri, Cecco, his Sonnets, iv. 56 _note_ 1

  Anguillara, i. 114, 404, 545

  Annales Bononienses, quoted for the Revival of 1457, i. 617

  Annius of Viterbo, his forged Histories, ii. 156 _note_ 2

  Antiquari, Jacopo, his Latin correspondence, ii. 288 _note_ 1, 532;
    quotation from a letter of his upon Poliziano's Miscellanies, 352;
    his verses on Aldo Manuzio, 390 _note_ 2;
    his nobility of character, 523

  Antonino, Sant', the good archbishop of Florence, i. 470 _note_ 1,
    iv. 313, v. 519

  Antonio da Tempo, his _Treatise on Italian Poetry_ cited for the
    early estimation of Tuscan, iv. 31 _note_ 1

  Antonio di San Marco (the Roman goldsmith), his answer to Agostino
    Chigi's couplet on Leo X., i. 435

  _Anziani_ or Ancients, name of magistrates in some Italian cities,
    i. 35, 68, 224

  Apollo Belvedere, discovery of the, ii. 431;
    description of it by a Venetian envoy, 434

  Apostolios Aristoboulos, a compositor employed by Aldo Manuzio, ii. 378;
    a member of the Aldine Academy, 387;

  Appiano, Gherardo, sells Pisa to Gian Galeazzo, i. 114, 148

  Appiano, Jacopo, murders Pietro Gambacorta, i. 148, 148 _note_ 1

  Aquila, S. Bernardo, monument of the Countess Montorio, iii. 141 _note_ 1

  Arabs, the, their preservation of Greek literature, ii. 66, 68, 251,
    iii. 209, v. 468

  Arcadia, creation of the Arcadian ideal at the Renaissance, v. 197;
    length of time during which it prevailed, 197, 223;
    received form at the hands of Sannazzaro, 197;
    lent itself to the dramatical presentation of real passion, in
      spite of its artificial form, 241. (_See_ Guarini, Sannazzaro,
      and Tasso.)

  Archio, Latin verse writer, ii. 507

  Architecture, Italian architecture rather local than national, ii. 5;
    architecture does not require so much individuality in the artist
      as painting, 7;
    effect on Italian architecture of the ancient Roman buildings, 439,
      iii. 48 _note_ 1;
    reasons why the middle ages excelled in architecture, iii. 10;
    architecture precedes the other arts, 40;
    the various building materials used in Italian architecture, 44

  Arcimboldi, Gian Angelo, discovered the MS. of Tacitus' _Annals_ at
    Corvey, ii. 140, 425

  _Ardenti_, the, an Academy at Naples, ii. 366

  Aretino, Carlo. (_See_ Marsuppini.)

  Aretino, Pietro, parallel between Aretino, Machiavelli, and Cellini,
    iii. 479 (cp. v. 384);
    said to have died from excessive laughter, iv. 452;
    the story probably without foundation, v. 423;
    his quarrel with Doni, 90, 419, 422;
    his writings placed on the Index after his death, 422, 423;
    the Comedies, 40, 123;
    their originality and freedom from imitation of the antique, 172,
      173 (cp. 269 _note_ 1), 517;
    defective in structure, 173;
    point of view from which Aretino regards contemporary manners in
      them, 174;
    celerity of their composition, 414;
    the _Cortigiana_, its plot and characters, 176;
    intended to expose the Courts, 176, 177, 178 (cp. 386 _note_ 1);
    sarcasms of the Prologue on the Italian authors, 180, _note_ 1;
    its testimony to the profligacy of Rome, and to the belief that the
      sack of the city was a Divine chastisement, i. 446 _note_ 1, v.
      176, 190, 226;
    to the general corruption of morals in Italy, v. 191;
    the _Marescalco_, its plot, 178;
    may have supplied hints to Shakspere and Ben Jonson, 178;
    the _Talanta_, _Ipocrita_, and _Filosofo_, 179;
    comparison of the comedies of Aretino, Bibbiena, and Machiavelli, 180;
    passage in the Prologue to the _Ipocrita_, referring to Berni's
      _rifacimento_ of the Orlando Innamorato, 376 _note_ 2;
    Prologue of the _Talanta_ translated (in prose), 417-419;
    his Madrigals and Sonnets, 311;
    their badness, 415;
    his _Capitoli_, 364, 381, 419;
    inferior to Berni's, 415;
    the _Dialoghi_, 386, 394, _note_ 1, 415;
    their description of life in Roman palaces, 386 _note_ 1;
    belief of contemporary society in the good intentions of Aretino
      in writing the work, 427;
    probability that Aretino was the author of the mutilation of Berni's
      _rifacimento_ of the Orlando Innamorato, 375-380, 406;
    he sides with Bembo in his dispute with Broccardo, 377;
    his place in Italian literature, 383-385;
    his boyhood, 385;
    enters Agostino Chigi's service, 386;
    nature of his position, 386;
    stories of his early life, 387;
    begins to find his way into Courts, 388;
    comes to Rome at the election of Clement VII., 389;
    writes a series of sonnets on obscene designs by Giulio Romano, and
      is obliged to quit Rome, 389;
    makes the friendship of Giovanni de' Medici delle Bande Nere, 390,
      391, 424;
    narrowly escapes assassination at Rome, 391;
    his animosity against Clement VII., 391, 392, 402 _note_ 1;
    retires to Venice in order to support himself by literary labour,
    dread inspired by his talents, ii. 34, 512, iii. 171, v. 392;
    trades upon the new power given by the press, v. 393;
    secures his reputation by writing religious romances, 394, 519;
      their worthlessness, 416, 427;
    may have been aided in them by Niccolò Franco, 420;
    his life at Venice, 396-399;
    amount of money extorted by him, 399;
    presents made him by various princes, 400, 405;
    question as to the real nature of the influence exercised by him,
      392, 401, 404, 406;
    partly owing to his force of character, 425-427;
    his attractiveness as a writer due to his naturalness and independence,
    his employment of lying, abuse, and flattery, 401-404;
    his reputation for orthodoxy, 380, 405;
    idea of making him Cardinal, ii. 22, 282 _note_ 1, 403, v. 405;
    his cowardice, 391, 405, 406;
    his relations to Michelangelo, iii. 426, v. 408;
    the friend of Sansovino and Titian, iii. 167, 168, v. 398, 405
      _note_ 4, 409, 425;
    his relations to men of letters, v. 409;
    his boasts of ignorance and attacks on the purists, 410-414;
    his celerity of composition, 414;
    his faults of taste, 417;
    effect of his writings on the euphuistic literature of the seventeenth
      century, and on the literature of abuse in Europe, 417, 422;
    his literary associates, 419-423;
    the epitaph composed upon him, 423;
    his portrait (1) engraved by Guiseppe Patrini, (2) by Sansovino, on
      the door of the sacristy in St. Mark's, iii. 168, v. 424;
    his contradictions of character, v. 425, 517;
    Aretino embodies the vices of his age, 425, 523;
    his Correspondence, 384, _note_ 1, 393 _note_ 1;
    its illustrations of the profligacy of Rome, 386 _note_ 1, 387
      _note_ 1;
    a letter to Titian quoted for a description of a Venetian sunset,
      iii. 351, v. 417;
    Aretino relates in a letter his life at Mantua, v. 388;
    letters of his cited for the death of Giovanni de' Medici delle
      Bande Nere, 391 _note_ 2;
    the Letter to the Doge of Venice, 395;
    letters describing his life at Venice, 396-399;
    probability that Aretino tampered with his correspondence before
      publication, 398 _note_ 1, 399 _note_ 1;
    letter describing his method of flattery, 403 _note_ 1;
    another quoted as a specimen of his begging style, 404 _note_ 1;
    another written to Vittoria Colonna, who entreated him to devote
      himself to pious literature, 407;
    another to Bernardo Tasso on epistolary style, 411

  Arezzo, the high school at, ii. 116;
    receives a diploma from Charles IV., 118

  ---- Cathedral shrine of S. Donato (by Giovanni Pisano), iii. 110

  ---- S. Francesco, Piero della Francesca, _Dream of Constantine_,
    iii. 235

  Argyropoulos, John, the guest of Palla degli Strozzi at Padua, ii. 168;
    teaches Greek at Florence and Rome, 210

  Ariosto, Gabriele, brother of the poet, finishes _La Scolastica_, iv.
    502, v. 150

  Ariosto, Giovanni Battista, illegitimate son of the poet, iv. 502

  Ariosto, Lodovico, his panegyrics of Lucrezia Borgia, i. 420, 422,
    v. 12 _note_ 1;
    of the d'Este family, v. 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 _note_ 1, 30;
    Ariosto inferior as a poet to Dante, ii. 9;
    analogy of his character to that of Boccaccio, iv. 506;
    quoted for the word _umanista_, ii. 71 _note_ 1;
    had no knowledge of Greek, iv. 493, 517;
    facts of his life, 493-503 (cp. 517);
    enters the service of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, 494, (cp. 517);
    refuses to enter the Church, 495;
    his rupture with the Cardinal, 496;
    enters the service of Alfonso I. of Ferrara, 498;
    his superintendence of the Ducal Theatre, 498, v. 140, 141, 144;
    his marriage, iv. 502, v. 38;
    receives a pension from the Marquis of Vasto, iv. 503;
    his personal habits, 504;
    his device of the pen, 521;
    his genius representative of his age, v. 49, 518;
    the Satires cited for the nepotism of the Popes, i. 413, _note_ 2,
      iv. 509, 518;
    on the relations of the Papacy to the nation, ii. 22;
    on the bad character of the Humanists, 519, iv. 517;
    written in the metre of the Divine Comedy, iv. 172, 519;
    revelation of his own character contained in the Satires, 504,
      505-508, 517-519, v. 1, 5;
    their interest in illustrating the Renaissance, iv. 518;
    subjects of the Satires, 508;
    the first Satire: ecclesiastical vices, 509 (cp. ii. 406);
    the second: dependents upon Courts, character of Ippolito d'Este, 509;
    the third: the choice of a wife, 510, v. 38;
    fourth and sixth: Court life and place-hunting, iv. 511-513;
    the fifth: the poet at Garfagnana, 514;
    sketches of contemporaries, 515;
    the seventh: a tutor wanted for his son, vices of the Humanists,
      516 (for the latter cp. v. 155 _note_ 2);
    the _Canzoni_, iv. 520;
    the origin of his love for Alessandra Benucci, 520;
    Giuliano de' Medici to his widow, 520;
    the _Capitoli_, 509 _note_ 1, 519, v. 5;
    the _Cinque Canti_, iv. 501, 502;
    passage on the Italian tyrants quoted, i. 130, iv. 506 _note_ 2;
    the Madrigals and Sonnets, iv. 522;
    the Elegies, 519, 521;
    his Latin poems, ii. 497, iv. 494, 497 _note_ 1, 506 _note_ 1, 522,
      v. 38;
    his translations from Latin comedies, v. 140;
    the Comedies, 40 _note_ 5, 111, 122, 123, 146 _note_ 1;
    the _Negromante_ cited in illustration of the character of Italian
      witches, 346 _note_ 1;
    plots of the comedies, 148, 153 _note_ 1;
    their satire, 150;
    the Prologues, 147 _note_ 1, 150;
    the _Scolastica_, left unfinished by Ariosto, iv. 502, v. 150;
    its plot, v. 150;
    excellence of the characters, 151-153;
    its satire, 153-155;
    artistic merit of the comedies, 156;
    criticisms of them by Machiavelli (?) and Cecchi, 156;
    their value as sketches of contemporary life, 159;
    the _Orlando Furioso_: its relation to the old romances, iv. 248, 249;
    his debt to Boiardo, 458 (cp. i. 171), 470, 489, 492;
    his silence respecting his indebtedness, 490;
    contrast of Ariosto and Boiardo, 463;
    continuous labour of Ariosto upon the _Orlando_, 497, 503, v. 42;
    the _Orlando_ the final expression of the _Cinque Cento_, v. 2;
    Ariosto's choice of a romantic subject, 4-6;
    why he set himself to finish Boiardo's poem, 6;
    artistic beauty of the _Orlando_, 6, 8, 14, 515;
    its subject as illustrating the age, 7;
    Ariosto's treatment of romance, 9, 15;
    material of the _Orlando_, 9-12;
    the connection of its various parts, 15;
    its pictorial character, 17-20;
    Ariosto's style contrasted with the brevity of Dante, 19;
    his power of narrative, 20;
    his knowledge of character, 21;
    the preludes to the Cantos, 22;
    Tasso's censure of them, 23;
    the tales interspersed in the narrative, 23-25;
    Ariosto's original treatment of the material borrowed by him, 25;
    his irony, 26;
    illustrated by Astolfo's journey to the moon, 27-30;
    illustrated by the episode of S. Michael in the monastery, 31-33;
    peculiar character of his imagination, 29;
    his humour, 33;
    his sublimity and pathos, 34-36;
    the story of Olimpia, 36;
    Euripidean quality of Ariosto, 35-37;
    the female characters in the _Orlando_, 37-40;
    Lessing's criticism of the description of Alcina, iv. 116, v. 19;
    Ariosto's perfection of style, v. 41;
    his advance in versification on Poliziano and Boiardo, 43;
    comparison of Ariosto and Tasso, 44;
    illustrations of his art from contemporary painters, 45;
    his similes 46-49;
    the lines on the contemporary poets quoted
    ---- upon Bembo, 258 _note_ 1;
    ---- upon Aretino, 385 _note_ 1

  Ariosto, Virginio, illegitimate son of the poet, iv. 502;
    his Recollections of his father, 502, 504

  Aristotle, influence of the Politics at the Renaissance, i. 197
    _note_ 1, 250 _note_ 1;
    cited, 234 _note_ 1, 235 _note_ 1;
    the Lines on Virtue translated, iv. 62;
    supposed coffin of Aristotle at Palermo, i. 461;
    Aristotle known to the Middle Ages chiefly through the Arabs, ii.
      66, 68, iii. 209, v. 468;
    regarded in the Middle Ages as a pillar of orthodoxy, ii. 208, v. 462;
    his system turned against orthodox doctrines at the Renaissance,
      v. 472;
    quarrel of the Aristotelians and the Platonists, ii. 208, 244, 247,
      394, v. 454;
    study of the _Poetics_ by the Italian playwrights, v. 127, 132
      _note_ 1, 135;
    outlines of the Aristotelian system, 462-466;
    problems for speculation successively suggested by Aristotelian
      studies, 466-470

  Arnold of Brescia, i. 64, iv. 12

  Arnolfo del Cambio, ii. 5;
    the architect of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, iii. 61-63;
    impress of his genius on Florence, 63;
    his work as a sculptor, 62 _note_ 1;
    begins the Duomo, 64;
    his intentions, 66

  Arpino, traditional reverence for Cicero there, ii. 30, iv. 12

  Arrabbiati, name of the extreme Medicean party at Florence, i. 529

  Arthur Legends, the, preferred by the Italian nobles to the stories
    of Roland, iv. 13, 17, 244, 437, v. 52;
    represent a refined and decadent feudalism, v. 52

  Arti, the, in Italian cities, i. 35, 72;
    at Florence, 224

  Arts, degeneracy of the plastic arts in the early Middle Ages, i. 17;
    change brought about in them by the Renaissance, 18-20;
    predominance of art in the Italian genius, iii. 1-5;
    art and religion--how far inseparable, 6 _note_ 1;
    the arts of the Renaissance had to combine Pagan and Christian
      traditions, 6, 170;
    share of the arts in the emancipation of the intellect, 8, 23, 32,
      iv. 346 _note_ 1;
    the arts invade religion by their tendency to materialize its
      ideals, iii. 11, 19, 22, 31;
    antagonism of art and religion, 24-26, 28, 31;
    the separate spheres and meeting-points of art and religion, 30;
    important part played by Tuscany in the development of Italian art,
      185 _note_ 1;
    fluctuations in the estimation of artists, illustrated by
      Botticelli, 249 _note_ 1;
    works of art may be judged either by æsthetic quality or as
      expressing ideas, 343 _note_ 1;
    commercial spirit in which art was pursued in Italy, 442 _note_ 1

  Ascanio de' Mori, his _Novelle_, v. 60

  Ascham, Roger, quoted for the English opinion on Italy, i. 472

  Asolanus, father-in-law and partner of Aldo Manuzio, ii. 388

  Assisi, Church of S. Francis, designed by a German architect, iii. 50;
    importance of its decorations by Giotto in the history of Italian
      art, 195;
    Simone Martini's Legend of S. Martin, 217

  _Assorditi_, the, an Academy at Urbino, ii. 366

  Asti, transferred to the house of Orleans by Gian Galeazzo Visconti,
    i. 143 _note_ 2, v. 333;
    its half French character, v. 333

  Astrology, influence of, in Italy, i. 428 _note_ 1, iii. 77 _note_ 1

  Athens, comparison of Athens and Florence, i. 234, 236, ii. 163, 165

  Athens, Duke of, i. 75 _note_ 1, 221, iii. 309

  Attendolo, Sforza (father of Francesco Sforza), i. 86;
    said to have been a peasant, 159;
    his murder of Terzi, 121 _note_ 1;
    his desertion of Queen Joan of Naples, 361

  Aurispa, Giovanni, protected by Nicholas, i. 111, 173;
    brings Greek MSS. to Italy, ii. 141, 267, 301;
    obliged to leave Florence by Niccoli's opposition, 182;
    made Apostolic Secretary by Eugenius IV., 220;
    his life at Ferrara, 301

  Avanzi, Girolamo, a member of the Aldine Academy, ii. 387

  Averrhoes, the arch-heresiarch of medieval imagination, iii. 206-209
    (cp. iv. 447), v. 449;
    his teaching on immortality, v. 469

  Averrhoists, Petrarch's dislike of them, ii. 101, iii. 209;
    Pomponazzi and the Averrhoists, v. 462

  Avignon, transference of the Papal Court there, i. 77, 80, 101, 374,
    iv. 2, 87

  _Avvelenato, L'_, name of an Italian ballad, iv. 275;
    its correspondence with Northern ballads, 275-278, v. 119 _note_ 1

  Baccio Della Porta. (_See_ Bartolommeo, Fra.)

  Bacon, Roger, his anticipation of modern science, i. 9;
    imprisoned by the Franciscans, 10;
    knew the use of the telescope, 29

  Baden (Switzerland), Poggio's visit to, ii. 231

  Baglioni, the, supported by the people at Perugia, i. 87 (cp. v. 498);
    their rise to power, 114, 115, 122, 123;
    their misgovernment, 130, 225, iii. 328;
    overthrown by Gian Galeazzo, i. 148;
    members of this family become Condottieri, 161;
    take part in the Diet of La Magione, 351;
    attempted massacre of them, 397 _note_ 2

  ---- Astorre, his comeliness of person, ii. 31;
    Gian Paolo, i. 421 _note_ 1;
    Machiavelli condemns him for not murdering Julius II., 324, 463;
    beheaded by Leo X., 439;
    Grifonetto, 168 _note_ 1, iii. 221, v. 118;
    Malatesta, betrays Florence, i. 223, 245, 285;
    Pandolfo, murder of, 148 _note_ 2

  Bajazet, Sultan, his relations with Alexander VI., i. 415

  Baldi, Bernardino, his pastoral poems, v. 224

  Balduccio, Giovanni, invited to Milan by Azzo Visconti, iii. 123;
    carves the shrine of S. Peter Martyr in S. Eutorgio, 123

  Baldus, dies of hunger in the sack of Rome, ii. 444

  _Balia_, the, at Florence, i. 230, 526

  Ballad poetry, general absence of ballads in Italian, iv. 37 (cp.
    251), 274, v. 119;
    the ballad of _L'Avvelenato_, iv. 275-278;
    connection of ballad poetry and the Drama, v. 120

  _Ballata_, or _Canzone a Ballo_, meaning of the term in Italian, iv.
    261 _note_ 2;
    popularity of the _ballate_ in Italy, 261-263

  Bambagiuoli, poems of, iv. 164

  Bandello, Matteo, belonged to the Dominican order, i. 459 v. 64;
    facts of his life, v. 63;
    his _Novelle_ cited for the profligacy of Rome and the scandals of
      the Church, i. 446 _note_ 1, 458, v. 66;
    use of them made by the Reformers against the Church, v. 65, 66;
    state of society revealed by them, 65;
    their allusions to witchcraft, 346 _note_ 1;
    their dedications, 62;
    want of tragic and dramatic power in the _Novelle_, 67-69;
    their pictures of manners, 68;
    Bandello's ability best shown in the romantic tales, 69;
    the description of Pomponazzi in one of the novels, 461;
    Bandello, a sort of prose-Ariosto, 70;
    the tale of Gerardo and Elena, 70;
    the tale of Romeo and Juliet: comparison with Shakspere's drama, 71;
    the tale of Nicuola: its relation to the _Twelfth Night_, 72;
    tale of Edward III. and Alice of Salisbury, 73-75;
    comparison of Bandello with Beaumont and Fletcher, 74, 75 _note_ 1;
    Bandello's apology for the licentiousness of the _Novelle_, 76;
    for their literary style, 77

  Bandinelli, Baccio, feebleness of his statues, iii. 173;
    legend that he destroyed Michelangelo's cartoon for the _Battle of
      Pisa_, 396 _note_ 1;
    his quarrel with Cellini, 477 (cp. 173)

  Bandini assassinates Giuliano de' Medici, i. 398

  Barbaro, Daniello, a letter of his to Aretino quoted for contemporary
    opinion of the _Dialogo de le Corti_, v. 427 _note_ 2

  Barbaro, Francesco, i. 173;
    a scholar of Giovanni da Ravenna, ii. 100;
    learns Greek from Chrysoloras, 110;
    his account of Poggio's enthusiasm in the quest of MSS., 138;
    his patronage of learning at Venice, 212

  Barbavara, Francesco, i. 150

  Barbiano, Alberico da, leader of Condottieri, i. 150, 159

  Barbieri, Gian Maria, sides with Castelvetro in his quarrel with
    Caro, v. 286

  Bardi, the, at Florence, i. 238;
    their loan to Edward III., 257;
    their bankruptcy, 258

  Bargagli, Scipione, his _Novelle_, v. 60;
    the description of the Siege of Siena in the Introduction, 98 (cp. 522)

  Barlam, teaches Leontius Pilatus Greek, ii. 90

  Baroccio, Federigo, his relation to Correggio, iii. 495

  Baroncelli, the Roman conspirator, i. 376

  Bartolommeo, Fra, his portraits of Savonarola, i. 508, iii. 309 _note_ 2;
    story of his _Sebastian_ in the cloister of San Marco, iii. 28;
    his position in the history of Italian art, 304;
    his friendship with Albertinelli, 305;
    furthered the progress of composition and colouring in painting,
      331, 498;
    his attempt to imitate Michelangelo, 307;
    the painter of adoration, 307;
    his unfinished _Madonna with the Patron Saints of Florence_, 308;
    influence of Savonarola upon him, 309

  Bartolommeo da Montepulciano, discovers the MSS. of Vegetius and
    Pompeius Festus, ii. 140

  Basaiti, Marco, iii. 362

  Basle, Council, question of precedence at, ii. 216

  Bassani, the, Venetian painters, iii. 371

  Basso, Girolamo, nephew of Sixtus IV., i. 389

  Bati, Luca, composes the music for Cecchi's _Elevation of the Cross_,
    iv. 326

  _Battuti_, the Italian name for the Flagellants, iv. 281, 282, 283

  Bazzi. (_See_ Sodoma.)

  Beatrice di Tenda, i. 152

  Beaufort, Cardinal, invites Poggio to England, ii. 231 _note_ 3

  Beaumont and Fletcher, comparison of, with Bandello, v. 74, 75 _note_ 1

  Beauty, Greek appreciation of bodily beauty contrasted with Christian
    asceticism, iii. 13-18, 19;
    the study of human beauty revived by the painters of the
      Renaissance, 23;
    the delight in the beauty of nature restored by the Renaissance,
      33, 107, v. 250;
    the later artists wholly absorbed by the pursuit of sensual beauty,
      iii. 453-455;
    the beauty of wild and uncultivated scenery unappreciated in the
      Renaissance, 464, v. 46

  Beccadelli, Antonio, tutor of Ferdinand I., i. 174, ii. 257;
    in attendance on Alphonso I., 252;
    the author of the _Hermaphroditus_, 254 (cp. i. 174 _note_ 1), 452;
    favourable reception of his work, 255;
    crowned poet by the Emperor Sigismund, 255;
    his _Hermaphroditus_ denounced by the Church, 256;
    honours paid to him, 256 (cp. 524);
    introduces Pontanus at the Court of Naples, 363

  Beccafumi, Domenico, the scholar of Sodoma, iii. 501

  Beccaria Family, the, of Pavia, i. 145

  Begarelli, Antonio, Modanese artist in terra-cotta, iii. 164 _note_ 1

  Belcari, Feo, his Alphabet, iv. 240;
    his _Vita del Beato Colombino_, 240;
    his _Sacre Rappresentazioni_, 320, 340;
    Benivieni's Elegy on his death, 321

  Belgioioso, Count of, Lodovico Sforza's ambassador to Charles VIII.,
    i. 541

  Bellincini, Aurelio, communicates Castelvetro's criticisms to Caro,
    and so causes the quarrel between them, v. 285

  Bellini, Gentile, iii. 362;
    his pictures for the Scuola of S. Croce, 363;
    Giovanni, 362;
    how far influenced by his brother-in-law Mantegna, 277, 362;
    his perfection as a colourist, 365;
    adhered to the earlier manner of painting, 365;
    Jacopo, 362

  Bello, Francesco (called _Il Cieco_), language of his _Mambriano_
    respecting the Chronicle of Turpin, iv. 439 _note_ 1;
    character of Astolfo in it, 470 _note_ 1;
    use of episodical _novelle_ in it, 490 _note_ 2;
    classed by Folengo with Boiardo, Pulci, and Ariosto, v. 316

  Beltraffio, Giovanni Antonio, the scholar of Lionardo da Vinci, iii. 484

  Bembo, Bernardo, builds the tomb of Dante at Ravenna, ii. 410

  Bembo, Pietro, introduced in Castiglione's 'Cortegiano,' i. 184, ii.
    411, v. 260, 265;
    his moral quality, i. 459 _note_ 2, v. 261;
    his account of De Comines' behaviour before the Venetian Signory,
      i. 578 _note_ 1;
    a member of the Aldine Academy, ii. 387;
    made a Cardinal, 402;
    his rise into greatness, 403;
    his friendship with Lucrezia Borgia, i. 422, ii. 403, 411, v. 263;
    with Veronica Gambara, v. 289;
    said to have saved Pomponazzo from ecclesiastical procedure, ii.
      410, v. 461;
    his life at Urbino, ii. 411, v. 260;
    his retirement at Padua, ii. 413;
    becomes the dictator of Italian letters, ii. 414, v. 258, 497;
    greatness of his personal influence, v. 264;
    his quarrel with Broccardo, 377;
    his panegyric of Sadoleto's _Laocoon_, ii. 497;
    his Venetian origin, illustrating the loss of intellectual supremacy
      by Florence, 507, v. 258;
    Cellini visits him at Padua and makes a medallion of him, iii. 463;
    his advice to Sadoleto not to read St. Paul for fear of spoiling
      his taste, ii. 398, 413;
    his ridiculous purisms, 400;
    his pedantic and mannered style, 413 (cp. 535), v. 259;
    his Latin verses, ii. 453, 481-485, v. 249;
    Gyraldus' criticism of them, ii. 484;
    the _De Galeso_ translated, 483;
    the Elegy on Poliziano, 357, 484, v. 258;
    translated (in prose), ii. 484;
    his cultivation of Italian, 414, v. 258;
    the _Gli Asolani_, ii. 411, v. 259, 265;
    the Defence of the Vulgar Tongue, v. 259 _note_ 1, 260;
    the _Regole Grammaticali_, 261;
    the Italian poems, 261;
    translation of a sonnet, illustrating the conceits affected by him,
    his Letters, 262-264, 360;
    mention in one of them of the representations of Latin comedies at
      Ferrara, 140.

  Benedetti, the, of Todi, the family to which Jacopone da Todi
    belonged, iv. 285, 287

  Benedict XI., surmise of his death by poison, i. 374, iii. 115;
    his monument by Giovanni Pisano, iii. 115

  Benedictines, their treatment of the classical literature, i. 10, ii.
    their hatred of the Franciscans, v. 325

  Benevento, a Lombard duchy, i. 48;
    its fate, _note_ 1, 50;
    battle of, iv. 21, 27, 48

  Benignius, Cornelius, his edition of Pindar, the first Greek book
    printed in Rome, i. 405 _note_ 1

  Benivieni, i. Girolamo, his elegies in the metre of the Divine
    Comedy, iv. 172;
    his poetical version of the novel _Tancredi_, 250;
    his hymns, v. 519;
    two translated, iv. 303;
    his Elegy on Feo Belcari, 321 (see Appendix vi. for translation);
    his Pastoral Poems, v. 224

  Bentivogli, the, supported by the people of Bologna, i. 87, 102;
    their rise to power, 114, 123, 124;
    claimed descent from King Enzo, 115, iv. 49;
    take part in the 'Diet of La Magione,' 351

  Bentivogli, Annibale de', v. 140;
    Cardinal de', his portrait by Vandyck, ii. 27;
    Francesca, murders her husband, Galeotto Manfredi, i. 428 _note_ 1

  Bentivoglio, Ercole, his Satiric Poems, v. 381

  Benucci, Alessandra, the wife of Ariosto, iv. 502, 520, 521, 522, v. 38

  Benvenuto da Imola, his account of Boccaccio's visit to Monte
    Cassino, ii. 133

  Benzoni Family, the, at Crema, i. 150

  Berardo, Girolamo, his versions of the _Casina_ and the _Mostellaria_,
    v. 140

  Berengar, the last Italian king, i. 51-53

  Bergamo, story of Calabrians murdered there, i. 74

  ---- S. Maria Maggiore, the Capella Colleoni, iii. 165

  Bernard, S., the type of medieval contempt for natural beauty, i. 13;
    his _Hymn to Christ on the Cross_, iii. 17;
    two stanzas translated, _note_ 1

  Bernard de Ventadour, iv. 60

  Bernardino S. (of Siena), his preaching, i. 611-613, iv. 175;
    his attacks on Beccadelli's _Hermaphroditus_, ii. 256 _note_ 1 (cp.
    his canonisation, i. 461, iv. 315

  Berni, Francesco, related to Cardinal Bibbiena, v. 357;
    taken by him to Rome, 357;
    enters the Church and becomes Canon of Florence, i. 459, v. 357, 358;
    acts as secretary to Giberti, Bishop of Verona, v. 357;
    becomes a member of the _Vignajuoli_ Academy at Rome, ii. 366, v. 357;
    loses his property in the sack of Rome, v. 357;
    retires to Florence, 358;
    aids Broccardo against Aretino in his quarrel with Bembo, 377;
    mysterious circumstances of his death, 358, 374, 377, 381 (cp. i.
      170 _note_ 1);
    his easy, genial temper, 357, 359, 368;
    his correspondence, 360;
    his scantiness of production and avoidance of publication, 361-363;
    his refinement of style, 315;
    the _Capitoli_, (1) poetical epistles, 363;
      (2) occasional poems, 364;
      (3) poems on burlesque subjects, 364;
    degree in which Berni is responsible for the profligacy of the
      _Capitoli_, 366;
    manner in which he treated his themes, 366;
    the _Capitoli_ written in _terza rima_, 366 (cp. iv. 172);
    the _Capitolo_ on Adrian VI.'s election to the Papacy, v. 368, 369
      (cp. i. 443);
    the sonnet on Pope Clement, v. 368 (cp. i. 443);
    translated, v. 368;
    the sonnet on Alessandro de' Medici, the force of their satire
      weakened by Berni's servility to the Medici, 369;
    excellence of Berni's personal caricatures, 370;
    the sonnet on Aretino, 371, 389, 390 _note_ 1, 406;
    the rustic plays, _Catrina_ and _Mogliazzo_, 224, 311;
    the _rifacimento_ of the _Orlando Innamorato_, iv. 491, v. 373;
    object of the undertaking, v. 373;
    published in a mutilated form, 374;
    the question who was guilty of the fraud, 375;
    probability that Aretino, with the aid of Albicante, contrived the
      mutilation of the MS. or proof-sheets, 375-378, 419;
    Vergerio's statement that Berni had embraced Protestantism and
      wrote the _rifacimento_ with the view of spreading Lutheran
      opinions, 378-380;
    the suppressed stanzas, intended by Berni as the Induction to the
      twentieth Canto of the _Innamorato_, 379 (for a translation see
      Appendix ii. 543);
    likelihood that the ecclesiastical authorities may have employed
      Aretino, 380

  Bernini, adds the Colonnades to S. Peter's, iii. 93

  Beroaldo, Filippo, edits Tacitus' Annals for the first edition, ii. 425;
    made Librarian of the Vatican, 425;
    professor in the Sapienza at Rome, 427;
    his version of the _Principe di Salerno_ in Latin elegiacs, iv. 250
      _note_ 2

  Bertini, Romolo, v. 311

  Bertoldo, his work as a bronze founder in Italian churches, iii. 78
    _note_ 1

  Bertrand du Poiet, i. 81

  Bescapé, Pietro, his _Bible History_ written for popular use in a
    North Italian dialect, iv. 34

  Bessarion, Cardinal, a disciple of Gemistos Plethos, ii. 204, 247;
    joins the Latin Church, 204, 246;
    gives his library to Venice, 247;
    his controversy with Trapezuntios, 247

  Beyle, Henri, his critique on the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel,
    iii. 427

  Bianchi and Neri Factions, the, at Pistoja, i. 210 _note_ 2;
    at Florence, 221, 225

  Bianchino, Il Cieco, his _Incatenatura_, iv. 268

  Bibbiena, Cardinal, i. 459;
    introduced in Castiglione's 'Cortegiano,' 184, 190;
    his kinship with Berni, v. 357;
    his rise to greatness, ii. 403, v. 145;
    his comedy, _Calandra_, v. 111, 123;
    largely indebted to the _Menæchmi_, 145;
    its popularity, 146;
    its literary style, 146 _note_ 1;
    representations of it at Urbino and Rome, 146;
    comparison of his comedy with those of Aretino and Machiavelli, 180

  Bibboni, Francesco, the murderer of Lorenzino de' Medici, i. 480
    _note_ 3 (cp. v. 517)

  Bigi, name of the Medicean faction at Florence, i. 529

  Bini, Francesco, a member of the _Vignajuoli_ Academy at Rome, v. 357;
    the friend and correspondent of Berni, 360;
    his _Capitolo_ on the _Mal Franzese_, 365

  Biondo, Flavio, ii. 430;
    patronized by Eugenius IV., ii. 220;
    his prodigious learning, 220, iii. 272;
    not duly appreciated by his contemporaries, ii. 221

  Bishoprics, the Italian bishoprics in Roman municipia, i. 61

  Bishops, the, on the side of the people in their first struggles for
    independence, i. 53, 55-61;
    the cities claim the privilege of electing their own bishops, 59

  Bissolo, Venetian painter, iii. 362

  Blastos, Nicolaos, a Greek printer at Venice, ii. 386

  Bloodmadness, i. 109, Appendix No. 1

  Boccaccino da Cremona, the _Madonna with S. Catherine_, iii. 225

  Boccaccio, Giannandrea, cited for the popular detestation of the
    Spanish cardinals, i. 410;
    for the temperance in eating of Alexander VI., 417

  Boccaccio, Giovanni, his services to the Renaissance, i. 11, iv. 142;
    learnt Greek late in life, 20, ii. 91, iv. 120 _note_ 2;
    cited for the attachment of the Italians to their past history, ii. 30;
    influenced by Petrarch, 87, 89, iv. 102;
    story of his visit to the tomb of Virgil at Naples, ii. 88, iv. 101;
    his enthusiasm for Dante, ii. 89;
    the first Greek scholar in Europe, 91;
    translates Homer, 93;
    his industry as a scholar, 94, iv. 101;
    sensuousness of his ideal, ii. 97, iv. 100 _note_, 106, 114, 118,
      v. 504, 515;
    his visit to Monte Cassino, ii. 133;
    his relation to Robert of Anjou, 252, iv. 120 _note_ 1;
    his influence on Italian literature, iv. 3, 123, v. 518;
    not of pure Italian blood, iv. 98;
    the typical Italian of the middle class, 99, 104, 113, 114, 164;
    his realism, 99, v. 515;
    his nickname of