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Title: Tacitus and Bracciolini
 - The Annals Forged in the XVth Century
Author: Ross, John Wilson
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tacitus and Bracciolini
 - The Annals Forged in the XVth Century" ***

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by JOHN WILSON ROSS (1818-1887)

Originally published anonymously in 1878.

    Non ulli Tacitus patuit manifestius unquam.
                                         SOSSAGO. _Epigrammata_.

    Excellentissimum Poggium, immortalem quidem virum, sed prope
    hac aetate sepultum, redivivium donaveris nobis.
               BICCIONI. _Epistola Hyacintho de Lan inscripta._

    Is ... reliquit, quae et facundiam, et mirificam ingenii
    facilitatem ostendunt. Tendebat toto animo, et quotidiano
    quodam usu ad EFFINGENDUM ... Sed habet hoc dilucida illa
    divini hominis in dicendo copia, ut estimanti se imitabilem
    praebeat, _experienti spem imitationis eripiat_. Eam
    igitur dicendi laudem POGGIUS si non facultate, at _certe
    voluntate_ complectebatur. Scripsit ... Historiam ...
    magnuum munus.
         PAOLO CORTESE (Bishop of Urbino). _De Hominibus Doctis_.

    Quaestio ... contra communem totius orbis traditionem ac fidem,
    contra tot historicocum ... nemine contradicente, consensum,
    demum agitari coepta est; et a nobis ... tam abunde ventilate,
    ut magis copia quam inopia laborare videamur.
         GISBERT VOET. _Spicilegium ad Disceptationem Historicam de
                       Papissa Johanna._

LONDON: 1878


This Research
The Authorship of the Annals of Tacitus







The theory broached in this book involves a charge of the
grossest fraud against a most distinguished man, who rose to high
posts in public affairs and won imperishable fame in letters.
There being blots on his moral character, it would be censurable
to fasten upon his memory this new imputation of dishonesty, were
it not substantiated by irresistible evidence.

The title of this book quite explains what its design is,--to
contribute something towards settling the authorship of the Annals
of Tacitus, which encomiastic admirers imagine to be the most
extraordinary history ever penned, and the writer "but one degree
removed from inspiration, if not inspired." This wondrous writer I
assert to be the famous Florentine of the Renaissance, Poggio
Bracciolini, in favour of which view I have tried to make out a
case by bringing forward a variety of passages from the "History"
and the "Annals" to show an extensive series of contradictions as
to facts and characters, departures from truth about matters
connected with ancient Roman life, laches in grammar and use of
words that never could have proceeded from any patrician or
plebian of the world-renowned old Commonwealth, with a number of
other things that will readily strike the intelligent and sober
mind as utterly inconsistent with the existing belief of the
"Annals" being the production of Tacitus. All this is case in the
shade for the fullest light to be thrown on the subject, when not
wishing to make my theory a matter of speculation but founded in
common sense, I give a detailed history of the forgery, from its
conception to its completion, the sum that was paid for it, the
abbey where it was transcribed, and other such convincing minutiae
taken from a correspondence that Poggio carried on with a familiar
friend who resided in Florence.

A reader of acumen and critical faculty following a writer in an
inquiry of this nature places himself in the position of a lawyer
who will not accept the interpretation of an Act of Parliament, or
even a clause in it, as correct, except,--as his phrase goes,--it
"runs upon all fours:" he knows that it is with a speculation in a
literary matter as with a chapter of a statute: he struggles to
raise only a single valid objection against what is advanced: if
successful he at one destroys the whole of the theory, from thus
exposing it to view as not "running upon all fours;" the fabric
is, in fact, discovered to be reared on a false foundation; it
must, therefore, fall as at the slightest breath a child's house
built of cards; and the theory becomes one more added to the list
of those that are apocryphal. If on examination it should be
agreed that the theory in this book is without a flaw, I conceived
that I shall have done not a small, but a considerable service to
the cause of true history.

LONDON, _April_ 3, 1878.






 I. From the chronological point of view.
 II. The silence preserved about that work by all writers till
 the fifteenth century.
 III. The age of the MSS. containing the Annals.



 I. The fifteenth century an age of imposture, shown in the
 invention of printing.
 II. The curious discovery of the first six books of the Annals.
 III. The blunders it has in common with all forged documents.
 IV. The Twelve Tables.
 V. The Speech of Claudius in the Eleventh Book of the Annals.
 VI. Brutus creating the second class of nobility.
 VII. Camillus and his grandson.
 VIII. The Marching of Germanicus.
 IX. Description of London in the time of Nero.
 X. Labeo Antistius and Capito Ateius; the number of people
 executed for their attachment to Sejanus; and the
 marriage of Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, to the
 Elder Antonia.



 I. Nature of the history.
 II. Arrangement of the narrative.
 III. Completeness in form.
 IV. Incongruities, contradictions and disagreements from the
 History of Tacitus.
 V. Craftiness of the writer.
 VI. Subordination of history to biography.
 VII. The author of the Annals and Tacitus differently illustrate
 Roman history.
 VIII. Characters and events corresponding to characters and
 events in the XVth century.
 IX. Greatness of the Author of the Annals.



 I. In the qualities of the writers; and why that difference.
 II. In the narrative, and in what respect.
 III. In style and language.
 IV. The reputation Tacitus has of writing bad Latin due to the
 mistakes of his imitator.



 I. Errors in Latin, (_a_) on the part of the transcriber;
 (_b_) on the part of the writer.
 II. Diction and Alliterations: Wherein they differ from those
 of Tacitus.





 I. His genius and the greatness of his age.
 II. His qualifications.
 III. His early career.
 IV. The character of Niccolo Niccoli, who abetted him in the
 V. Bracciolini's descriptive writing of the Burning of Jerome
 of Prague compared with the descriptive writing of the
 sham sea fight in the Twelfth Book of the Annals.



 I. Gaining insight into the darkest passions from associating
 with Cardinal Beaufort.
 II. His passage about London in the Fourteenth Book of the
 Annals examined.
 III. About the Parliament of England in the Fourth Book.



 I. The Proposal made in February, 1422, by a Florentine, named
 Lamberteschi, and backed by Niccoli.
 II. Correspondence on the matter, and Mr. Shepherd's view that
 it referred to a Professorship refuted.
 III. Professional disappointments in England determine
 Bracciolini to persevere in his intention of forging
 the Annals.
 IV. He returns to the Papal Secretaryship, and begins the
 forgery in Rome in October, 1423.



 I. Doubts on the authenticity of the Latin, but not the
 Greek Classics.
 II. At the revival of letters Popes and Princes offered large
 rewards for the recovery of the ancient classics.
 III. The labours of Bracciolini as a bookfinder.
 IV. Belief put about by the professional bookfinders that
 MSS. were soonest found in obscure convents in barbarous
 V. How this reasoning throws the door open to fraud and
 VI. The bands of bookfinders consisted of men of genius in
 every department of literature and science.
 VII. Bracciolini endeavours to escape from forging the Annals by
 forging the whole lost History of Livy.
 VIII. His Letter on the subject to Niccoli quoted, and examined.
 IX. Failure of his attempt, and he proceeds with the forgery of
 the Annals.





 I. The audacity of the forgery accounted for by the mean
 opinion Bracciolini had of the intelligence of men.
 II. The character and tone of the last Six Books of the Annals
 exemplified by what is said of Sabina Poppaea, Sagitta,
 Pontia and Messalina.
 III. A few errors that must have proceeded from Bracciolini
 about the Colophonian Oracle of Apollo Clarius, the
 Household Gods of the Germans, Gotarzes, Bardanes and,
 above all, Nineveh.
 IV. The estimate taken of human nature by the writer of the
 Annals the same as that taken by Bracciolini.
 V. The general depravity of mankind as shown in the
 Annals insisted upon in Bracciolini's Dialogue
 "De Infelicitate Principum".



 I. The intellect and depravity of the age.
 II. Bracciolini as its exponent.
 III. Hunter's accurate description of him.
 IV. Bracciolini gave way to the impulses of his age.
 V. The Claudius, Nero and Tiberius of the Annals
 personifications of the Church of Rome in the
 fifteenth century.
 VI. Schildius and his doubts.
 VII. Bracciolini not covetous of martyrdom: communicates his
 fears to Niccoli.
 VIII. The princes and great men in the Annals the princes and
 great men of the XVth century, not of the opening period
 of the Christian aera.
 IX. Bracciolini, and not Tacitus, a disparager of persons in
 high places.



 I. "Octavianus" as the name of Augustus Caesar.
 II. Cumanus and Felix as joint governors of Judaea.
 III. The blood relationship of Italians and Romans.
 IV. Fatal error in the _oratio obliqua_.
 V. Mistake made about "locus".
 VI. Objections of some critics to the language of Tacitus
 VII. Some improprieties that occur in the Annals found also in
 Bracciolini's works.
 VIII. Instanced in (_a_) "nec--aut".
 (_b_) rhyming and the peculiar use of "pariter".
 IX. The harmony of Tacitus and the ruggedness of Bracciolini
 X. Other peculiarities of Bracciolini's not shared by Tacitus:
 Two words terminating alike following two others with like
 terminations; prefixes that have no meaning; and playing
 on a single letter for alliterative purposes.



 I. The literary merit and avaricious humour of Bracciolini.
 II. He is aided in his scheme by a monk of the Abbey of Fulda.
 III. Expressions indicating forgery.
 IV. Efforts to obtain a very old copy of Tacitus.
 V. The forgery transcribed in the Abbey of Fulda.
 VI. First saw the light in the spring of 1429.



 I. Recapitulation, showing the certainty of forgery.
 II. The Second Florence MS. the forged MS.
 III. Cosmo de' Medici the man imposed upon.
 IV. Digressions about Cosmo de' Medici's position, and fondness
 for books, especially Tacitus.
 V. The many suspicious marks of forgery about the Second
 Florence MS.; the Lombard characters; the attestation
 of Salustius.
 VI. The headings, and Tacitus being bound up with Apuleius,
 seem to connect Bracciolini with the forged MS.
 VII. The first authentic mention of the Annals.
 VIII. Nothing invalidates the theory in this book.
 IX. Brief recapitulation of the whole argument.





 I. Improvement in Bracciolini's means after the completion
 of the forgery of the last part of the Annals.
 II. Discovery of the first six books, and theory about their
 III. Internal evidence the only proof of their being forged.
 IV. Superiority of workmanship a strong proof.
 V. Further departure than in the last six books from Tacitus's
 method another proof.
 VI. The symmetry of the framework a third proof.
 VII. Fourth evidence, the close resemblance in the openings of
 the two parts.
 VIII. The same tone and colouring prove the same authorship.
 IX. False statements made about Sejanus and Antonius Natalis
 for the purpose of blackening Tiberius and Nero.
 X. This spirit of detraction runs through Bracciolini's works.
 XI. Other resemblances denoting the same author.
 XII. Policy given to every subject another cause to believe both
 parts composed by a single writer.
 XIII. An absence of the power to depict differences in persons
 and things.



 I. The poetic diction of Tacitus, and its fabrication in
 the Annals.
 II. Florid passages in the Annals.
 III. Metrical composition of Bracciolini.
 IV. Figurative words: (_a_) "pessum dare"
 (_b_) "voluntas"
 V. The verb "foedare" and the Ciceronian use of "foedus".
 VI. The language of other Roman writers,--Livy, Quintus Curtius
 and Sallust.
 VII. The phrase "non modo--sed", and other anomalous expressions,
 not Tacitus's.
 VIII. Words not used by Tacitus, "distinctus" and "codicillus"
 IX. Peculiar alliterations in the Annals and works of
 X. Monotonous repetition of accent on penultimate syllables.
 XI. Peculiar use of words: (_a_) "properus"
 (_b_) "annales" and "scriptura"
 (_c_) "totiens"
 XII. Words not used by Tacitus: (_a_) "addubitare"
 (_b_) "extitere"
 XIII. Polysyllabic words ending consecutive sentences.
 XIV. Omissions of prepositions: (_a_) in.
 (_b_) with names of nations.



 I. The gift for the recovery of Livia.
 II. Julius Caesar and the Pomoerium.
 III. Julia, the wife of Tiberius.
 IV. The statement about her proved false by a coin.
 V. Value of coins in detecting historical errors.
 VI. Another coin shows an error about Cornatus.
 VII. Suspicion of spuriousness from mention of the
 Quinquennale Ludicrum.
 VIII. Account of cities destroyed by earthquake contradicted by
 a monument.
 IX. Bracciolini's hand shown by reference to the Plague.
 X. Fawning of Roman senators more like conduct of Italians in
 the fifteenth century.
 XI. Same exaggeration with respect to Pomponia Graecina.
 XII. Wrong statement of the images borne at the funeral
 of Drusus.
 XIII. Similar kind of error committed by Bracciolini in his
 "Varietate Fortunae".
 XIV. Errors about the Red Sea.
 XV. About the Caspian Sea.
 XVI. Accounted for.
 XVII. A passage clearly written by Bracciolini.



 I. The descriptive powers of Bracciolini and Tacitus.
 II. The different mode of writing of both.
 III. Their different manners of digressing.
 IV. Two statements in the Fourth Book of the Annals that could
 not have been made by Tacitus.
 V. The spirit of the Renaissance shown in both parts of the
 VI. That both parts proceeded from the same hand shown in the
 writer pretending to know the feelings of the characters
 in the narrative.
 VII. The contradictions in the two parts of the Annals and in
 the works of Bracciolini.
 VIII. The Second Florence MS. a forgery.
 IX. Conclusion.



 "Allusiones saepe subobscurae ... mihi conjectandi aliquando,
 et aliquando exploratae veritatis fundamento innitendi materiam
 DE TONELLIS. Praef. ad Poggii Epist.




I. From the chronological point of view.--II. The silence
preserved about that work by all writers till the fifteenth
century.--III. The age of the MSS. containing the Annals.

I. The Annals and the History of Tacitus are like two houses in
ruins: dismantled of their original proportions they perpetuate
the splendour of Roman historiography, as the crumbling remnants
of the Coliseum preserve from oblivion the magnificence of Roman
architecture. Some of the subtlest intellects, keen in criticism
and expert in scholarship, have, for centuries, endeavoured with
considerable pains, though not with success in every instance, to
free the imperfect pieces from difficulties, as the priesthood of
the Quindecimvirs, generation after generation, assiduously, yet
vainly, strove to clear from perplexities the mutilated books of
the Sibyls. I purpose to bring,--parodying a passage of the good
Sieur Chanvallon,--not freestone and marble for their restoration,
but a critical hammer to knock down the loose bricks that, for
more than four centuries, have shown large holes in several

Tacitus is raised by his genius to a height, which lifts him above
the reach of the critic. He shines in the firmament of letters
like a sun before whose lustre all, Parsee-like, bow down in
worship. Preceding generations have read him with reverence and
admiration: as one of the greatest masters of history, he must
continue to be so read. But though neither praise nor censure can
exalt or impair his fame, truth and justice call for a passionless
inquiry into the nature and character of works presenting such
difference in structure, and such contradictions in a variety of
matters as the History and the Annals.

The belief is general that Tacitus wrote Roman history in the
retrograde order, in which Hume wrote the History of England. Why
Hume pursued that method is obvious: eager to gain fame in
letters,--seeing his opportunity by supplying a good History of
England,--knowing how interest attaches to times near us while all
but absence of sympathy accompanies those that are remote,--and
meaning to exclude from his plan the incompleted dynasty under
which he lived,--he commenced with the House of Stuart, continued
with that of Tudor, and finished with the remaining portion from
the Roman Invasion to the Accession of Henry VII. But why Tacitus
should have decided in favour of the inverse of chronological
order is by no means clear. He could not have been actuated by any
of the motives which influenced Hume. Rome, with respect to her
history, was not in the position that England was, with respect to
hers, in the middle of the last century. All the remarkable
occurrences during the 820 years from her Foundation to the office
of Emperor ceasing as the inheritance of the Julian Family on the
death of Nero, had been recorded by many writers that rendered
needless the further labours of the historian. Tacitus states this
at the commencement of his history, and as a reason why he began
that work with the accession of Galba: "Initium mihi operis
Servius Galba iterum, Titus Vinius consules erunt; nam post
conditam urbem, octingentos et viginti prioris aevi annos multi
auctores retulerunt." (Hist. I. 1.) After this admission, it is
absolutely unaccountable that he should revert to the year since
the building of the City 769, and continue writing to the year
819, going over ground that, according to his own account, had
been gone over before most admirably, every one of the numerous
historians having written in his view, "with an equal amount of
forcible expression and independent opinion"--"pari eloquentia ac
libertate." Thus, by his own showing, he performed a work which he
knew to be superfluous in recounting events that occurred in the
time of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.

What authority have we that he did this? Certainly, not the
authority of those who knew best--the ancients. They do not
mention, in their meagre accounts of him, the names of his
writings, the number of which we, perhaps, glean from casual
remarks dropped by Pliny the Younger in his Epistles. He says
(vii. 20), "I have read your book, and with the utmost care have
made remarks upon such passages, as I think ought to be altered or
expunged." "Librum tuum legi, et quam diligentissime potui,
adnotavi, quae commutanda, quae eximenda arbitrarer." In a second
letter (viii. 7) he alludes to another (or it might be the same)
"book," which his friend had sent him "not as a master to a
master, nor as a disciple to a disciple, but as a master to a
disciple:" "neque ut magistro magister, neque ut discipulo
discipulus ... sed ut discipulo magister ... librum misisti." That
Tacitus was not the author of one work only is clear from Pliny in
another of his letters (vi. 16) speaking in the plural of what his
friend had written: "the immortality of your writings:"--
"scriptorum tuorum aeternitas;" also of "my uncle both by his own,
and your works:"--"avunculus meus et suis libris et tuis." In the
letter already referred to (vii. 20), Tacitus is further spoken of
as having written, at least, two historical works, the immortality
of which Pliny predicted without fear of proving a false prophet:
"auguror, nec me fallit augurium, historias tuas immortales
futuras." From these passages it would seem that the works of
Tacitus were, at the most, three.

If his works were only three in number, everything points in
preference to the Books of History, of which we possess but five;
the Treatise on the different manners of the various tribes that
peopled Germany in his day; and the Life of his father-in-law,
Agricola. Nobody but Fabius Planciades Fulgentius, Bishop of
Carthage, supposes that he wrote a book of Facetiae or pleasant
tales and anecdotes, as may be seen by reference to the episcopal
writer's Treatise on Archaic or Obsolete Words, where explaining
"Elogium" to mean "hereditary disease," he continues, "as
Cornelius Tacitus says in his book of Facetiae; 'therefore pained
in the cutting off of children who had hereditary disease left to
them'": "Elogium est haereditas in malo; sicut Cornelius Tacitus
ait in libro Facetiarum: 'caesis itaque motum elogio in filiis
derelicto.'" (De Vocibus Antiquis. p. 151. Basle ed. 1549).
Justus Lipsius doubts whether the Discourse on the Causes of the
Corruption of Latin Eloquence proceeded from Tacitus, or the other
Roman to whom many impute it, Quintilian, for he says in his
Preface to that Dialogue: "What will it matter whether we
attribute it to Tacitus, or, as I once thought, to Marcus Fabius
Quinctilianus? ... Though the age of Quinctilianus seems to have
been a little too old for this Discourse to be by that young man.
Therefore, I have my doubts." "Incommodi quid erit, sive Tacito
tribuamus; sive M. Fabio Quinctiliano, ut mihi olim visim? ...
Aetas tamen Quinctiliani paullo grandior fuisse videtur, quam ut
hic sermo illo juvene. Itaque ambigo." (p. 470. Antwerp ed. 1607.)
Enough will be said in the course of this discussion to carry
conviction to the minds of those who can be convinced by facts and
arguments that Tacitus did not write the Annals.

Chronology, in the first place, prevents our regarding him as the
author. Though we know as little of his life as of his writings--
and though no ancient mentions the date or place of his birth, or
the time of his death,--we can form a conjecture when he
flourished by comparing his age with that of his friend, Pliny the
Younger. Pliny died in the year 13 of the second century at the
age of 52, so that Pliny was born A.D. 61. Tacitus was by several
years his senior. Otherwise Pliny would not have spoken of himself
as a disciple looking up to him with reverence as to "a master";
"the duty of submitting to his influence," and "a desire to obey
his advice":--"tu magister, ego contra"--(Ep. viii. 7): "cedere
auctoritati tuae debeam" (Ep. i. 20): "cupio praeceptis tuis
parere" (Ep. ix. 10); nor would he describe himself as "a mere
stripling when his friend was at the height of fame and in a proud
position": "equidem adolescentulus, quum jam tu fama gloriaque
floreres" (Ep. vii. 20); nor of their being, "all but
contemporaries in age": "duos homines, aetate propemodum aequales"
(Ep. vii. 20). From these remarks chiefly and a few other
circumstances, the modern biographers of Tacitus suppose there was
a difference of ten or eleven years between that ancient historian
and Pliny, and fix the date of his birth about A.D. 52.

This is reconcilable with the belief of Tacitus being the author
of the Annals; for when the boundaries of Rome are spoken of in
that work as being extended to the Red Sea in terms as if it were
a recent extension--"claustra ... Romani imperii, quod _nunc_
Rubrum ad mare patescit" (ii. 61),--he would be 63, the extension
having been effected as we learn from Xiphilinus, by Trajan A.D.
115. It is also reconcilable with Agricola when Consul offering to
him his daughter in marriage, he being then "a young man": "Consul
egregiae tum spei filiam juveni mihi despondit" (Agr. 9); for,
according as Agricola was Consul A.D. 76 or 77, he would be 24 or
25. But it is by no means reconcilable with the time when he
administered the several offices in the State. He tells us himself
that he "began holding office under Vespasian, was promoted by
Titus, and still further advanced by Domitian": "dignitatem
nostram a Vespasiano inchoatam, a Tito auctam, a Domitiano longius
provectam" (Hist. i. 1). To have "held office" under Vespasian he
must have been quaestor; to have been "promoted" by Titus he must
have been aedile; and as for his further advancement we know that
he was praetor under Domitian. By the Lex Villia Annalis, passed
by the Tribune Lucius Villius during the time of the Republic in
573 after the Building of the City, the years were fixed wherein
the different offices were to be entered on--in the language of
Livy; "eo anno rogatio primum lata est ab Lucio Villio tribuno
plebis, quot annos nati quemque magistratum peterent caperentque"
(xl. 44); and the custom was never departed from, in conformity
with Ovid's statement in his Fasti with respect to the mature
years of those who legislated for his countrymen, and the special
enactment which strictly prescribed the age when Romans could be
candidates for public offices:

    "Jura dabat populo senior, finitaque certis
    Legibus est aetas, unde petatur honos."
    Fast. v. 65-6.

After the promulgation of his famous plebiscitum by the old
Tribune of the People in the year 179 A.C., a Roman could not fill
the office of quaestor till he was 31, nor aedile till he was 37,--as,
guided by the antiquaries, Sigonius and Pighius, Doujat, the
Delphin editor of Livy, states: "quaestores ante annum aetatis
trigesimum primum non crearentur, nec aediles curules ante
septimum ac trigesimum";--and the ages for the two offices were
usually 32 and 38.

From Vespasian's rule extending to ten years we cannot arrive at
the date when Tacitus was quaestor; but we can guess when he was
aedile, as Titus was emperor only from the spring of 79 to the
autumn of 81.

Had his appointment to the aedileship taken place on the last day
of the reign of Titus, he would then be but 29 years old; and
though in the time of the Emperors, after the year 9 of our aera,
there might be a remission of one or more years by the Lex Julia
or the Lex Pappia Poppaea, those laws enacted rewards and
privileges to encourage marriage and the begetting of children;
the remission could, therefore, be in favour only of married men,
especially those who had children; so that any such indulgence in
the competition for the place of honours could not have been
granted to Tacitus, he not being, as will be immediately seen, yet
married. In order, then, that he should have been aedile under
Titus,--even admitting that he could boast, like Cicero, of having
obtained all his honours in the prescribed years--"omnes honores
anno suo"--and been aedile the moment he was qualified by age for
the office,--he must have been born, at least, as far back as the
year 44.

This will be reconcilable with all that Pliny says, as well as
with his being married when "young"; for he would then be 32 or
33, and his bride 22 or 23; for the daughter of Agricola was born
when her father was quaestor in Asia--"sors quaesturae provinciam
Asiam dedit ... auctus est ibi filiâ." (Agr. 9). Nor let it be
supposed that a Roman would not have used the epithet "young" to a
man of 32 or 33, seeing that the Romans applied the term to men in
their best years, from 20 to 40, or a little under or over. Hence
Livy terms Alexander the Great at the time of his death, when he
was 31, "a young man," "egregium ducem fuisse Alexandrum ...
adolescens ... decessit" (ix. 17): so Cicero styles Lucius Crassus
at the age of 34;--"talem vero exsistere eloquentiam qualis fuerit
in Crasso et Antonio ... alter non multum (quod quidem exstaret),
et id ipsum adolescens, alter nihil admodum scripti reliquisset".
(De Orat. ii. 2): so also does Cornelius Nepos speak of Marcus
Brutus, when the latter was praetor, Brutus being then 43 years of
age:--"sic Marco Bruto usus est, ut nullo ille adolescens aequali
familiarius" (Att. 8); to this passage of Nepos's, Nicholas
Courtin, his Delphin editor, adds that the ancients called men
"young" from the age of 17 to the age of 46; notwithstanding that
Varro limited youth to 30 years:--"a 17 ad 46 annum, adolescentia
antiquitus pertingebat, ut ab antiquis observatum est. Nihilominus
Varro ad 30 tantum pertingere ait." But Tacitus being born in 44
is not reconcilable with his being the Author of the Annals, as

Some time in the nineteen years that Trajan was Emperor,--from 98
to ll7,--Tacitus, being then between the ages of 54 and 73,
composed his History. He paused when he had carried it on to the
reign of Domitian; the narrative had then extended to twenty-three
years, and was comprised in "thirty books," if we are to believe
St. Jerome in his Commentary on the Fourteenth Chapter of

"Cornelius Tacitus ... post Augustum usque ad mortem Domitiani
vitas Caesarum triginta voluminibus exaravit." [Endnote 013] It was
scarcely possible for Tacitus to have executed his History in a
shorter compass;--indeed, it is surprising that the compass was so
short, looking at the probability of his having observed the
symmetry attended to by the ancients in their writings, and having
continued his work on the plan he pursued at the commencement, the
important fragment which we have of four books, and a part of the
fifth, embracing but little more than one year. Whether he ever
carried into execution the design he had reserved for his old
age,--writing of Nerva and Trajan,--we have no record. But two
things seem tolerably certain; that he would have gone on with
that continuation to his History in preference to writing the
Annals; and that he would not have written that continuation until
after the death of the Emperor Trajan. He would then have been 73.
Now, how long would he have been on that separate history? Then at
what age could he have commenced the Annals? And how long would he
have been engaged in its composition? We see that he must have
been bordering on 80, if not 90: consequently with impaired
faculties, and thus altogether disqualified for producing such a
vigorous historical masterpiece; for though we have instances of
poets writing successfully at a very advanced age, as Pindar
composing one of his grandest lyrics at 84, and Sophocles his
Oedipus Coloneus at 90, we have no instance of any great
historian, except Livy, attempting to write at a very old age, and
then Livy rambled into inordinate diffuseness.

II. The silence maintained with respect to the Annals by all
writers till the first half of the fifteenth century is much more
striking than chronology in raising the very strongest suspicion
that Tacitus did not write that book. This is the more remarkable
as after the first publication of the last portion of that work by
Vindelinus of Spire at Venice in 1469 or 1470, all sorts and
degrees of writers began referring to or quoting the Annals, and
have continued doing so to the present day with a frequency which
has given to its supposed writer as great a celebrity as any name
in antiquity. Kings, princes, ministers and politicians have
studied it with diligence and curiosity, while scholars,
professors, authors and historians in Italy, Spain, France,
England, Holland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden have applied their
minds to it with an enthusiasm, which has been like a kind of
worship. Yet, after the most minute investigation, it cannot be
discovered that a single reference was made to the Annals by any
person from the time when Tacitus lived until shortly before the
day when Vindelinus of Spire first ushered the last six books to
the admiring world from the mediaeval Athens. When it appeared it
was at once pronounced to be the brightest gem among histories;
its author was greeted as a most wonderful man,--the "unique
historian", for so went the phrase--"inter historicos unicus."

Now, are we to be asked quietly to believe that there never lived
from the first quarter of the second century till after the second
quarter of the fifteenth, a single individual possessed of
sufficient capacity to discern such eminent and obvious excellence
as is contained in the Annals? Are we to believe that that could
have been so? in a slowly revolving cycle of 1,000 years and more?
ay, upwards of 1,300! If that really was the case, it is enough to
strike us dumb with stupor in contemplating such a miraculous
instance of perpetuated inanity,--among the lettered, too!--the
learned! the studious! the critical! If that was not the case,
what a long neglect! Anyhow, the silence is inexplicable. It
indicates one of two things,--duncelike stupidity or studious
contempt. Both these surmises must be dismissed,--the first as too
absurd, the second as too improbable. There can arise a third
conjecture--Taste for intellectual achievements, and appreciation
of literary merit, had vanished for awhile from the earth, to
return after an absence of forty generations of mankind. Again,
this supposed probability is too preposterously extravagant to be
for an instant credited because it cannot for a moment be
comprehended. In short, how marvellous it is! how utterly
unaccountable! how inexpressibly mysterious!

Pliny does not say a word about the Annals. The earliest Latin
father, Tertullian, quotes only the History (Apol. c. 16).
St. Jerome, in his Commentary on Zechariah (iii. 14), cites the
passage in the fifth book of the History about the origin of the
Jews; he also notices what Tacitus says of another important
event, the Fall of Jerusalem, which, having occurred in the reign
of Vespasian, must have been narrated in the History. The "single
book" treating of the Caesars, which Vopiscus says Tacitus wrote,
must have been the "History," ten copies of which the Emperor
Tacitus ordered to be placed every year in the public libraries
among the national archives. (Tac. Imp. x.) Orosius, the Spanish
ecclesiastic, who flourished at the commencement of the fifth
century, has several references to Tacitus in his famous work,
Hormesta. This great proficient in knowledge of the Scriptures and
disciple of St. Augustin quotes the fifth book of the History
thrice (Lib. V., cc. 5 and 10), and thrice alludes to facts
recorded by Tacitus,--the Temple of Janus being open from the time
of Augustus to Vespasian (vii. 3);--the number of the Jews who
perished at the siege of Jerusalem (vii. 9); and the possibly
large number of Romans who were killed in the wars with the Daci
during the reign of Domitian (vii. 10):--all which passages must
have been in the lost portions of the History.

In his Epistles and Poems, that man of wit and fancy, with an
intellect and learning above the fifth century in which he lived,
--Sidonius Apollinaris,--has one quotation from Tacitus and three
references to him. The quotation, which occurs in the fourteenth
chapter of the fourth book of his Epistles, is from the last
section of the History, (that part of the speech of Civilis where
the seditious Batavian touches on the friendship which existed
between himself and Vespasian); and his three references are,
first, to the "ancient mode of narrative," combined with the
greatest "literary excellence" (iv. 22); secondly, to "genius for
eloquence" (Carm. xxiii. 153-4); and thirdly, to "pomp of manner"
(Carm. ii. 192); the not inelegant Christian writer enumerating
qualities that specially commend themselves in the History. When
Spartian praises Tacitus for "good faith," the eulogy is more
appropriate to the writer of the History than the Annals, howbeit
that so many moderns, including the famous philologist and
polygrapher, Justus Lipsius; the Pomeranian scholar of the last
century, Meierotto; Boetticher and Prutz all question the veracity
of Tacitus; while for what he says of the Jews Tertullian
vituperates him in language so outrageous as to be altogether
unbecoming the capacious mind of the Patristic worthy, who calls
him, "the most loquacious of liars,"--"mendaciorum loquacissimus;"
--in which strain of calumny he was, from the same cause of religious
fervour, followed centuries after,--in the seventeenth,--by two
of the most renowned preachers and orators of their day, the famous
Jesuit, Famianus Strada, and his less known contemporary, but most
able Chamberlain of Urban VIII., Augustino Mascardi,--as if all
these pious Christians found it quite impossible to pardon a heathen,
blinded by the prejudices of paganism, for believing what he did
of the Hebrews; and for recording which belief he ought to receive
immediate forgiveness, seeing that Justin, Plutarch, Strabo and
Democritus said as bad, if not worse things of that ancient people
and their sacred books. [Endnote 019]

Cassiodorus, the Senator, is the only writer of the sixth century,
who makes any allusion to Tacitus, and that but once, in the fifth
book of his Epistles, to what the Roman says in his Germany of the
origin of amber, about which naturalists are still divided, that
it is a distillation from certain trees. Freculphus (otherwise
written Radulphus), Bishop of Lisieux, who died in the middle of
the ninth century (856), in the second volume of his Chronicles,
--the sixth chapter of the second book,--quotes Tacitus as the
author of the History, the passage being in reference to the
Romans who fell in the Dacian war. We have no proof that the
Annals was in existence in the twelfth century from what John of
Salisbury says in his Polycraticon (viii. 18), that Tacitus is
among the number of those historians, "qui tyrannorum atrocitates
et exitus miseros plenius scribunt;" for in his completed History
Tacitus must have expatiated pretty freely on the "atrocious
tyranny" of Domitian, and the "unfortunate termination of the
lives of tyrants."

From the time of John of Salisbury till shortly before the
publication of the Annals, no further reference is made to Tacitus
by any writer or historian, monkish or otherwise, not even of
erudite Germany, beginning with Abbot Hermannus, who wrote in the
twelfth century the history of his own monastery of St. Martin's
at Dornick, and ending with Caspar Bruschius, who, in the
sixteenth century, wrote an Epitome of the Archbishoprics and
Bishoprics of Germany, and the Centuria Prima (as Daniel Nessel in
the next century wrote the Centuria Secunda) of the German
monasteries. And yet in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
all kinds of writers quote the Annals about as freely and
frequently as they quote the History, and that not once or twice,
but five or six, and even seven and eight times, in the same work.
It would be impossible to mention them all, the writers being "as
numerous as the leaves in Vallambrosa's vale";--a figure that can
hardly be considered hyperbolic when the enormous number of these
writers can be partially guessed from the following catalogue of
those who delighted in antiquarian researches, whose productions
cited are archaeological, and who made all their references to the
Annals for the purpose of merely illustrating archaic matters;
nevertheless, the number of such writers alone amounts to as many
as a score; moreover, the whole twenty are to be found in one
compilation comprised in but five volumes,--Polenus's New
Supplement to the collections of Graevius and Gronovius, entitled
"Utriusque Thesauri Antiquitatum Romanarum Graecarumque Nova
Supplementa";--the Friesland scholar, Titus Popma in his
"De Operis Servorum"; the Italian antiquary, Lorenzo Pignorio,
Canon of Trevigo, in his treatise "De Servis"; the renowned critic,
Salmasius, in his explanation of two ancient inscriptions found on
a Temple in the island of Crete ("Notae ad Consecrationem Templi
in Agro Herodis Attici Triopio"); Peter Burmann in his "De
Vectigalibus"; Albertinus Barrisonus in his "De Archivis"; Merula,
the jurist, historian and polygrapher, in his "De Legibus
Romanorum"; Carolus Patinus in his Commentary "In Antiquum
Monumentum Marcellinae"; Polletus in his "Historia Fori Romani";
Aegyptius in his "De Bacchanalibus Explicatio"; Gisbert Cuper in
his "Monumenta Antiqua Inedita"; Octavius Ferrarius in his
"Dissertatio de Gladiatoribus"; William à Loon in his
"Eleutheria"; Schaeffer in his "De Re Vehiculari"; Johannes
Jacobus Claudius in his "Diatribê de Nutricibus et Paedagogis";
Antonius Bombardinus in his "De Carcere Tractatus"; Gutherlethus
in his work on the "Salii," or Priests of Mars; the learned
Spaniard, Miniana, in his "De Theatro Saguntino Dialogus"; Gorius
in his "Columbarium Libertorum et Servorum"; Spon in his
"Miscellanea Erudita Antiquitatis" and Jaques Leroy in his
"Achates Tiberianus." In fact, the Annals of Tacitus is noticed,
or quoted, or referred to, or commented upon at length (as at the
commencement of the sixteenth century by Scipione Ammirato), in an
endless list of works, with or without the names of the authors,
which by itself is all but conclusive that the Annals was not in
existence till the fifteenth century, and not generally known till
the sixteenth and seventeenth.

But to return for a moment to what was done by two writers, who
lived before the fifteenth century,--Sulpicius Severus, who died
A.D. 420; and Jornandez, who, in the time of Justinian, was
Secretary to the Gothic kings in Italy. Now, it must not be
withheld,--for it would be too uncandid,--that identical passages
are found in the Annals ascribed to Tacitus and the Sacred History
of Sulpicius Severus.

In order that the reader may see the identity of the passages, we
place them in juxtaposition, italicising the words that are found
in both works:--

Sulpicius (ii. 28). "_Inditum imperatori flammeum, dos et
genialis torus et faces nuptiales; cuncta denique, quae_ vel
_in feminis_ non sine verecundia conspiciuntur,

Annals (xv. 37). "_Inditum imperatori flammeum_, visi
auspices, _dos et genialis torus et faces nuptiales; cuncta
denique spectata, quae_ etiam _in femina_ nox operit."

Sulpicius (ii. 29). "Sed opinio omnium invidiam incendii in
principem retorquebat, _credebaturque imperator gloriam
innovandae urbis quaesisse_."

Annals (xv. 10). "_Videbaturque Nero condendae urbis novae_
et cognomento suo adpellandae _gloriam quaerere_."

Sulpicius (v. 2). "Quin et novae mortes excogitatae, _ut ferarum
tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent_. Multi _crucibus
affixi, aut flamma usti_. Plerique in id reservati, ut, CUM
_defecisset dies, in usum nocturni luminis urerentur_."

Annals (xv. 44). "Et pereuntibus addita ludibria, _ut ferarum
tergis contecti, laniatu canum interirent_, aut _crucibus
affixi, aut flammandi_, atque, UBI _defecisset dies, in usum
nocturni luminis urerentur_."

These passages, of course, have, till this moment, been regarded
as taken by Sulpicius Severus from the Annals, on the unquestioned
assumption that that work was the composition of Tacitus. The
passages, however, were taken from the Historia Sacra: they bear
traces of having been so appropriated, from Sulpicius Severus
composing with a harmony almost equal to Tacitus, and a
grammatical correctness on a par with the Roman, while the author
of the Annals mars that harmony, here by the change of a word, and
there by the reconstruction of a sentence; and the grammatical
correctness by substituting for "cum," which strictly signifies
"when," "ubi," which strictly signifies "where": hence, from
resembling Tacitus less than Sulpicius Severus, he seems, of two
writers convicted of plagiarism, to be the one who purloined the
passages from the other; and if he introduced but trifling
alterations, it was because the accomplished presbyter of the
fifth century was the master of a neat Latin style, which will
bear comparison with that of the best classical writers. Indeed,
Sulpicius Severus is likened for style and eloquence to Sallust;
he is known as the "Christian Sallust"; and Leclerc in the
twentieth volume of his Bibliothèque Choisie, is loud in praise of
his Latin, which is, certainly, purer than could have been
imagined for his time. He was, nevertheless the very last
authority that the author of the Annals ought to have followed for
authentic particulars with respect to Nero; for as that emperor
was the first persecutor of the Christians, there was nothing too
bad that the church-building ecclesiastical writer did not think
it right to state of him, as (in his own language) "the worst, not
only of princes, but of all mankind, and even brute beasts"; he
went, in fact, to the extreme length of believing, being a
ridiculously credulous Chiliast, that Nero would live again as
Anti-Christ in the millennian kingdom before the end of the world.

It is generally supposed that Jornandez,--whose works are so
valuable for their history of the fifth and sixth centuries of our
aera,--when speaking, in the second chapter of his History of the
Goths, of one "Cornelius as the author of Annals," is speaking of
Tacitus,--"Cornelius etiam Annalium scriptor." Camden in his
Britannia questions whether Tacitus is meant by "Cornelius"; and,
certainly the passage quoted, which is about Meneg in Cornwall, is
nowhere to be found in any of the works written by the ancient
Roman. But if Tacitus be meant, the passage is an interpolation,
because the historical books ascribed to Tacitus bear in all the
MSS. either the title "Augustae Historiae Libri," or "Ab Excessu
divi Augusti Historiarum Libri," and so in all the first published
editions--that of Vindelinus of Spire about 1470, of Puteolanus
and Lanterius about 1475, of Beroaldus in 1515, and the early
editions of Venice 1484, 1497 and 1512; of Rome in 1485; Milan
1517; Basle 1519, and Florence (the Juntine Edition) 1527--it not
being till 1533, that Beatus Rhenanus first gave those books the
name "Annals" (it being Justus Lipsius who, close at the
commencement of the last quarter of that century,--in 1574,--first
divided the books into two parts, to one of which he gave the name
"Annals," and to the other, "Histories"). Then how could
Jornandez, who lived in the sixth century, have known any writings
of Tacitus by the name of "Annals," when that title was not given
to them until the sixteenth century?

We may now, after close research, advance this with extreme
caution, and certainty:--no support can be derived from citations
or statements made by any writer till the fifteenth century that
Tacitus wrote a number of books of the Annals. Should any one
extensively read known authors, living between the second and the
fifteenth century, besides those mentioned, who quote Tacitus, it
will be found that their quotations are from the History, the
Germany, or the Agricola; and this can be predicted with just as
much confidence, as an astronomer predicts eclipses of the sun and
the moon, and, for their verification, needs not wait to see the
actual obscuration of those heavenly bodies.

III. In turning to the different MSS., we find that the age of all
of them confirms in an equally corroborative manner the theory
that Tacitus did not write the Annals. Here let it be noted that
the age of a MS. can easily be discovered; and that, too, in a
variety of ways:--by the formation of the characters, such as the
roundness of the letters; or their largeness or smallness;--the
writing of the final l's; the use of the Gothic s's and the Gothic
j's; the dotting, or no dotting of the i's; the absence or
presence of diphthongs; the length of the lines; the punctuation;
the accentuation; the form or size; the parchment or the paper;
the ink;--or some other mode of detection. Those MSS. need only be
examined which contain either the whole or the concluding books of
the Annals.

Of the seven MSS. in the Vatican, that numbered 1,864, (referred
to by John Frederic Gronovius, and other editors of Tacitus as the
"Farnesian," from its having been transferred from the Farnese
Palace to the Vatican,) is supposed to be the oldest, for it is
believed to be of the fourteenth century; but the vellum on which
it is written is of the sixteenth; so is the vellum of No. 1,422.
No. 1,863 was thought by Justus Lipsius to be almost as old as No.
1,864, to have been of the close of the fourteenth century; but it
is written on vellum of the middle of the fifteenth century.
Nothing can be ascertained, either from its form or the substance
on which it is written, of No. 2,965, but the Bipontine editors
declared its date to be 1449. No. 1,958, which Puteolanus used in
1475, for his edition (containing the concluding books of the
Annals) was copied at Genoa in the year 1448. The two others,
numbered 412 and 1,478, are both written on vellum of the
fifteenth century.

The oldest Paris MS. is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and is
written on paper of the close of the fifteenth century. Nobody
knows what has become of the MS., which is supposed to have been
anterior to the editions at the end of the fifteenth century, and
was in the library of the Congrégation de l'Oratoire, to whom it
was presented by Henri Harlai de Sancy, who brought it from Italy
and died in the Oratory in 1667.

The MS. of Wolfenbuttel (Guelferbytana), used by Ernesti in his
edition, was bought at Ferrara on the 28th of September, 1461;
beyond that nothing is known of it. The MS. in the library of
Jesus College, Oxford, is of the year 1458; the Bodleian, numbered
2,764, is of the century after, though the great Benedictine
antiquary, Montfaucon, in that monument of labour and erudition,
Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum MSS. Nova, is of opinion that it is as
old as 1463; and that in the Harleian collection of MSS. in the
British Museum, also numbered 2,764, stated to date back to 1412,
can scarcely be older than 1440 or 1450, from the diphthongal
writing, first introduced by Guarino of Verona, who died in 1460.
The MS. of Grenoble, written on very fine vellum, and containing
the whole of the Annals, is of the sixteenth century. The three
Medicean, the Neapolitan and the other Italian MSS. are all of
very modern writing. As to the MSS. of Wurzburg and Mirandola, the
former is not to be found, and the latter was not in existence
even in the time of Justus Lipsius.

The four most important MSS. are those known as the First and
Second Florence, the Buda and that from which Vindelinus of Spire
published the last six books. The two oldest are the "Second
Florence" and the "Buda." It would seem that the "Second
Florence", from the note at the end, dates back to the year 395,
though the Benedictines in their Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique
(vol. iii. pp. 278-9) thought they recognized in it a Lombard
writing of the tenth or eleventh century; Ernesti modified that to
the ninth; others again changed it to the seventh and even the
sixth; but it will be shown to satisfaction in the course of this
treatise that it belongs to the fifteenth century. So the Buda
MS., believed by Justus Lipsius to be as ancient as the Second
Florence (which he thought with the Benedictines was of the tenth
or eleventh century) was considered by James Gronovius to be very
modern; and very modern it is, being traceable to a little after
the same period as the Second Florence, namely, the fifteenth
century. The First Florence, which was stated to have been found
in the Abbey of Corvey, and which furnished the opening six books
of the Annals as first given to the world by Beroaldus, is of an
age that has hitherto never been determined; but that age will be
shown, towards the close of this work, to be the first quarter of
the sixteenth century. The MS. from which Vindelinus of Spire
published his edition, was in the Library of St Mark's, Venice,
but,--according, to Croll and Exter,--it is no longer to be found.

The case, then, stands thus with respect to the MSS.;--no MS. of
the works of Tacitus, whose existence can be traced back further
than the sixteenth century, contains the whole of the Annals; and
no MS. of the works of Tacitus, whose existence can be traced back
further than the first half of the preceding century, has the
closing books of the Annals.

Here let me briefly recapitulate;--it being very important for the
reader to bear in mind that three things have now been shown:--
first, that, from the chronological point of view, Tacitus could
barely have written the Annals; secondly, that, from the silence
preserved about that book by all writers for upwards of 1300 years
from the death of Tacitus, there is cause for supposing it was not
in existence from his time, that is, the second century to the
fifteenth and sixteenth (the commencement of the fifteenth century
being the time of the forgery of the last six books, and the
commencement of the sixteenth the time of the publication of the
forged first six books);--and thirdly, that there is nothing to
contradict this theory of mine in the age of any of the known MSS.
containing a part, or the whole of the Annals; but, on the
contrary, to verify it, from the age of the oldest being limited
to the fifteenth century; and that if there be, or ever have been
others older, it is singular, and puzzling to account for, that
one of two things should have occurred; either that they are lost,
or else that their age cannot be determined,--both which latter
things are actually the case with respect to the two MSS. from
which the Annals was originally printed,--that which supplied the
concluding books being lost, and that which contains the whole of
it being of an age that nobody up till now has been able to



I. The fifteenth century an age of imposture, shown in the
invention of printing.--II. The curious discovery of the first six
books of the Annals.--III. The blunders it has in common with all
forged documents.--IV. The Twelve Tables.--V. The Speech of
Claudius in the Eleventh Book of the Annals.--VI. Brutus creating
the second class of nobility.--VII. Camillus and his grandson.--
VIII. The Marching of Germanicus.--IX. Description of London in
the time of Nero.--X. Labeo Antistius and Capito Ateius; the
number of people executed for their attachment to Sejanus; and the
marriage of Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, to the Elder Antonia.

I. I have now so far cleared the way as to be in a fair position
to enter with feasibleness into an investigation of the Annals,
with the view of proving that it was not written by Tacitus.

In beginning the investigation, I shall proceed on the assumption
that it is a modern forgery of the fifteenth century, having as
grounds for this assumption that it was the age when the original
MSS. containing the work were discovered; that the existence of
those MSS. cannot be traced farther than that century; that (which
is of vast consequence in an inquiry of this description) it was
an age of imposture; of credulity so immoderate that people were
easily imposed upon, believing, as they did, without sufficient
evidence, or on slight evidence, or no evidence at all, whatever
was foisted upon them; when, too, the love of lucre was such that
for money men willingly forewent the reputation that is the
accompaniment of the grandest achievements of the intellect. Take,
for example, the noble art of printing; for inventing it any man
of genius might reasonably be proud. His name, if known, would be
emblazoned on the scroll of imperishable fame; be displayed for
ever on the highest pyramid of mind; and his country would receive
an additional beam of splendor to its previous blaze of renown.
But who, for a certainty, knows the inventor of printing? or the
country of its origin? Was it Holland in the person of Coster of
Haarlem? Or Germany in the person of Mentel, the nobleman, of
Strasburg? Or Guttenberg, the goldsmith, of Mayence? Was it
neither of these countries? or none of these men? And why this
uncertainty? Because a few men possessing the secret, which they
kept cautiously to themselves, of printing by means of movable
blocks of wood, preferred accumulating enormous sums, equivalent
to fair fortunes, by receiving five, six and even between seven
and eight hundred gold sequins from a King of France or a Pope of
Rome, a Cardinal or an Archbishop, for a bible, which, printed,
was passed off as written. We all know how the whole imposture
exploded, by the King of France and the Archbishop of Paris
comparing the bibles which they had bought of Faust during his
stay at the Soleil d'Or in the Rue St. Jacques, Paris. Each
thought his bible so superb that the whole world could not produce
such another for beauty,--the books being fine vellum copies of
what are now known as the Mazarin Bible;--and what was their
amazement on discovering, after a very close comparison, that
everything was exactly alike in the two copies,--the flower-pieces
in gold, green and blue, with grouped and single birds amid
tendrils and leaves, the illuminated letters at the beginning of
books with variegated embellishments and brilliant hues of scarlet
and azure, the crimson initials to each chapter and sentence,
along with astonishing and incomprehensible conformity in letters,
words, pagination and lines on every page.

II. The temptation was great to palm off literary forgeries,
especially of the chief writers of antiquity, on account of the
Popes, in their efforts to revive learning, giving money rewards
and indulgences to those who should procure MS. copies of any of
the ancient Greek or Roman authors. Manuscripts turned up, as if
by magic, in every direction; from libraries of monasteries,
obscure as well as famous; from the most out-of-the-way places,--
the bottom of exhausted wells, besmeared by snails, as the History
of Velleius Paterculus; or from garrets, where they had been
contending with cobwebs and dust, as the Poems of Catullus. So
long as the work had an appearance of high antiquity, it passed
muster as an old classic; and no doubt could be entertained of its
genuineness, if, in addition to its ancient look, it was brought
in a fragmentary form. We have no history of the last six
fragmentary books of the Annals--at least, up to this time; though
I shall give it towards the end of this inquiry; but we are told
all about the discovery of the fragmentary first six books by
Meibomius, the Westphalian historian, and Professor of Poetry and
History at Helmstädt at the close of the sixteenth century in his
Opuscula Historica Rerum Germianicarum, while telling the story of
the life of Witikind, the monk of the Abbey of Corvey; by Justus
Lipsius in note 34 to the second book of the Annals; by Brotier,
and other editors of Tacitus.

John de Medici, that magnificent Pope, had been scarcely elected
to the Pontifical chair by the title of Leo X. in the spring of
1513, when he caused it to be publicly made known that he would
increase the price of rewards given by his predecessors to persons
who procured new MS. copies of ancient Greek and Roman works. More
than a year, nearly two years elapsed; then his own "Thesaurum
Quaestor Pontificius"--"steward," "receiver," or "collector",--
Angelo Arcomboldi, brought to him a new MS. of the works of
Tacitus, with a most startling novelty--THE FIRST SIX (or, as then
divided, FIVE) BOOKS OF THE ANNALS! Everybody was amazed; and
everybody was extremely anxious to know where and how it had been
obtained. The story of Arcomboldi was that he had found the
stranger among the treasures on the well-stored shelves in the
Library of the Benedictine monastery on the banks of the Weser, at
Corvey, in Westphalia, long famed for the high culture of its
learned inmates. The MS. was given out as being of great
antiquity, traceable to, at the very least, the commencement of
the ninth century; for it was said to have belonged to one of the
most distinguished and accomplished scholars of the abbey,
Anschaire, whom Gregory IV. in the year 835 appointed his Legate
Apostolic in Denmark and Sweden, and who Christianized the whole
northern parts of Europe. The MS. was conned with care: it was
musty, discoloured and antique-looking; furthermore, it was of the
usual orthodox nature of recovered ancient MSS.--it was
fragmentary: the genius of Tacitus was believed to be detected in
the newly found books: 500 gold sequins were counted out from the
Papal Treasury to the greedy discoverer: at the expense of Leo,
the scholastic Philippo Beroaldi the Younger, who was Professor of
the learned languages in the University of Rome, and who wrote
Latin lyric poetry (in the opinion of Paulus Jovius) with the
elegance and correctness of Horace, superintended the text; the
celebrated Stephen Guilleret came all the way from Lorraine to
print it; and the "Historiarum Libri quinque nuper in Germaniâ
inventi" were ushered forth to the world in Rome _literis
rotundis_ on the first day of March, 1515. From that day to
this the imposture has slumbered; the counterfeit coin has passed
current, nobody having noticed the absence of the true ring of the
genuine metal.

III. The books of the Annals must not merely be assumed to be
forgeries; they must be proved to be so; for, if forgeries, they
cannot be as invulnerable as walls of adamant. It is nothing that
nobody has suspected they were forged;--nothing that the editors
and commentators, who, for the most part possessed of remarkable
perspicacity and discernment, have applied their minds to minute
revision and close examination of these books, have, after such
diligent attention never considered them to be spurious, but
belonging to the domain of true history;--nothing that they have
stood for close on four hundred years unchallenged, deceiving the
wisest and the most learned as well as the best and the most
experienced in matters of this description. The cause is obvious:
the forger fabricated with the decided determination of defying
detection. He did not rely upon his own sagacity alone: he called
in the assistance of two of his cleverest friends: three of the
astutest men in the most enlightened portion then of Europe,--
Italy,--sat in conclave over the matter for nearly three years,
deliberating in every possible way how to avoid suspicious
management and faulty performance: consequently, the forgery is
anything but plain and palpable; nay, it is wonderfully obscure
and monstrously difficult: nevertheless, like all forged
documents, it is bungled--ay, in spite of the pains taken to keep
free from bad and blundering work, it is, occasionally (as will be
seen in the present book, from this point until the close),
clumsily, awkwardly, grossly, ridiculously bungled.

In the last generation there was a famous trial for forgery in
Edinburgh. A number of documents, thirty-three, were impounded as
forged to obtain for the forger the title of a Scotch Earl and
domains covering many millions of acres,--a larger area of square
miles than were included in the whole united territories of the
now dethroned Dukes of Tuscany, Parma and Modena, or all the
possessions put together of the German Electors, Margraves and
Landgraves. In such a number of legal documents executed by one
man, and that man, too, a civilian, it was almost next to an
impossibility that there should not be a good deal of bungling.
One of the blunders was the King of Scotland giving away lands and
provinces that never belonged to Scotland, for they were lands and
provinces in New England; another was the name of Archbishop
Spottiswoode as witness to a document executed by King James I. at
Whitehall on the 7th of December, 1639, whereas Archbishop
Spottiswoode had been dead eleven days, his monument in
Westminster Abbey bearing as the date of his death, the 26th of
November in that year. So the author of the Annals, who, as will
be hereafter shown, lived in the fifteenth century, could not
possibly write many books of ancient Roman History without, every
now and then doing or saying something that was attended with
dreadful fatality to his fraud; for he could not write them
without palpable blunders; and some are so clumsy as to surpass
conception what bungling can do.

IV. He makes Tacitus commit an error about the contents of the
Twelve Tables, which is really as monstrous as if we could fancy
ourselves reading in the pages of a native historian of mark,
Hume, Henry, or Lingard, some blunder, into which a schoolboy
could not fall, about the contents of Magna Charta, the Bill of
Rights, the Declaration of Rights, or any other well known English
law, on which the constitution of the country is primarily
founded. In a work given out as written by Tacitus we are told
that the Twelve Tables first fixed interest for usury at an
"uncia," or twelfth part of an as per hundred asses per month, or
one per cent per annum:--"Primo Duodecim Tabulis sanctum 'ne quis
unciario foenore amplius exerceret,' cum antea ex libidine
locupletium agitaretur" (An. VI. 16). Into this error the Author
of the Annals must surely have been seduced by some shocking
mediaeval writer of ancient Roman history or antiquities, under
whose guidance he again falls into another mistake when ascribing
to tribunitian regulations the reduction of the interest to one-half
per cent. per annum, or the sixth part of an as per hundred
asses a month:--"dein rogatione tribuncia ad semuncias redacta"
(L. c.). The truth is that, in the year of Rome 398, a hundred and
four years after the Twelve Tables were composed,--the Tribunes
Duillius and Moenius passed the original law of interest at one
per cent: twelve years after,--in the year 410,--the interest was
reduced to one half per cent. under the consulate of Lucius
Manlius Torquatus and Caius Plautius;--as may be seen by referring
to the seventh book (16, 27) of Livy,--or still better, the clear
exposition of this error by Montesquieu in the 22nd chapter of the
22nd book of his "Esprit des Loix." The author of the Annals is
then only right when stating that originally the interest was one
per cent. per annum, and afterwards reduced to half that amount.
In everything else he blunders to an extent that is inexplicable
in an ancient Roman. Were any staunch upholder of the authenticity
of the Annals to be here called upon compulsorily to give a
reason, unprepared or premeditated, plausible or probable, why,
after this exposure of such an error, he still believed it
possible that the blunder could have been made by Tacitus, who
achieved a brilliant reputation as an historian writing truthfully
of his countrymen, as a lawyer practising successfully among them,
as a statesman filling with ability exalted offices, and thus
possessed such pledges for being admirably informed and
exceedingly cautious, he would be reluctantly forced to take
refuge in the quibbling of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff:
--"I would not tell you on compulsion. Give you a reason on
compulsion! If reasons were as plenty as blackberries, I would
give no man a reason on compulsion, I!"

The Twelve Tables are most fatal for the author of the Annals;
they bring out his imposture so clearly to the broad glare of
noonday. Tacitus is made to place on record for the enlightenment
of posterity that, after those Tables were composed, his
countrymen ceased making just and equal laws, only occasionally
penal enactments; but more frequently, on account of the
differences between the two orders, decrees for attaining
illegitimate honours and for banishing distinguished citizens,
along with other sinister legislation:--"Compositae Duodecim
Tabulae, finis aequi juris; nam secutae leges, etsi aliquando in
maleficos ex delicto, saepius tamen dissensione ordinum, et
apiscendi illicitos honores, aut pellendi claros viros, aliaque ob
prava, per vim latae sunt" (III. 27). The statement is about as
contrary to fact as if an English historian were to assert that
after Charles I. assented to the Petition of Rights, there was an
end to all further enlargement in this country of the rights,
liberties and privileges of the subject,--the only laws passed
since then being for the repression of crime, the mitigation of
the penal code, and the establishment of religious equality;
because if we set aside all the laws that were passed by the
Romans for the bettering of their State after the year 449 before
our aera,--which is the date of the composition of the Twelve
Tables,--and look only at those which extended social equality, we
find enactments "aequi juris," such as the Lex Canuleia which
allowed the intermarriage of patricians and plebeians, and the
Leges Liciniae, which put both orders on a par in holding public
offices. It is clear that these laws never came to the knowledge
of the author of the Annals; and it is for the reader to decide
for himself whether he thinks it likely that a lawyer and
statesman of the stamp of Tacitus could have been ignorant of the
removal of these weighty and vexatious class inconveniences.

V. Had Tacitus written the Annals, he would have known more of the
speech which Claudius spake in the Senate (XI. 24), when the
inhabitants of Transalpine Gaul petitioned to be rendered eligible
to the highest offices of the State, than to direct the eloquence
of the Emperor in favour of all the extra-provincial Gauls in
general, and the Aedui in particular. From the way in which he
wrote harangues--that of Galgacus in his Agricola, for instance,
--he would have caught in his alembic the essence of the original,
and sublimated it; but he would not have placed before us an
offspring that does not reflect one feature of its parent. Yet
that is what the author of the Annals did with the speech of
Claudius: he fabricated that which bears not the faintest
resemblance to the original. If the assumption be considered as
true that he forged the Annals, he could not have done otherwise;
for when he was engaged in the business of forgery, the speech was
not in existence, it not being until 1528, more than a hundred
years after the Eleventh Book of the Annals was written by him,
and considerably over half a century after it was first printed in
Venice, that a copy of the speech of the Emperor Claudius, which
had long been lost, was found again buried within the earth at
Lyons, and as so discovered is still preserved, engraved on two
brass plates in the vestibule of the Town Hall of Lyons, a lasting
memento of the modern fabrication of the Annals.

VI. The author of the Annals ascribes to Brutus the creation of
the second class of nobility, which Brutus no more created than
(as Famianus Strada observes,) "Pythagoras originated the idea of
the transmigration of souls." The statement that "few were left of
the families to which Romulus gave the title, the 'gentes
majores,' or 'old clans,' and Lucius Brutus the 'gentes minores,'
or 'young clans'":--"paucis jam reliquis familiarum, quas Romulus
'majorum,' et Lucius Brutus 'minorum gentium' adpellaverant"
(XI.25):--could never have been written by a Roman; because, in the
first place, it was not Romulus who created the whole patrician
body known as the "majores gentes"; the only senators whom he
created were the "decuriones," or heads of the various "gentes" of
the united Romans and Sabines; to these Tullus Hostilius added the
most distinguished citizens of the Albans, when they were removed
to Rome in his reign;--and it was the united descendants of these
two sets of patricians who were called by subsequent generations
"patricii majorum gentium": in the second place, it was Tarquinius
Priscus who enlarged the patrician body by creating the 100
representatives of the Luceres, or Etruscans, senators, and it was
the descendants of these who were "called," by way of distinction
from the others, "patricii minorum gentium." The new sort of
nobility which originated with Brutus was a very different kind of
thing: the new eminence or dignity conferred on the senators
elected by Brutus was confined to themselves only, being strictly
personal and purely titular: until then Roman senators had been
styled simply "Patres," but from that time downwards they were
denominated "Patres CONSCRIPTI." No Roman could have been ignorant
of this; and if the author of the Annals did not know it, we ought
not to be too severe upon him, when we shall see afterwards that
he was a Florentine of the fifteenth century: then on account of
his having lived so many centuries after the events of which he
writes, it is quite excusable that he should fall into a state of
confusion with respect to this rather out of the way matter,
though into such a state of confusion no Roman could have fallen
on account of his intimate acquaintance with the outlines of his
constitution, the customs of his country, and the distinctions of
rank in native society.

VII. The author of the Annals takes the grandson of the great
dictator Camillus to have been his son, when he observes: "after
the illustrious recoverer of the city" (meaning Rome) "and his son
Camillus": "post illum reciperatorem urbis, filiumque ejus
Camillum," (II. 52). In that case what becomes of the exclamation
of Spartian in his Life of the Emperor Severus, when speaking of
great Romans who had no illustrious children: "What of Camillus?
For had he children like himself?" "Quid Camillus? Nam sui similes
liberos habuit?" Why, certainly, "he had children like himself,"
if Marcus Furius had been his son, and not his grandson; for he
was Consul and Dictator like the renowned and noble-minded Lucius
Furius. The mistake is easily accounted for in a modern European
writing Roman history from the famous Marcus Furius Camillus being
Consul only eleven years after his grandfather, which makes it
look as if it was the son who succeeded, and not the grandson. But
it cannot be explained in a Roman, who must have taken so much
pride in the second Romulus of his country as to have known all
about his family relations. The error is only comparable to the
extreme case of an Englishman being supposed to take such very
little interest in Queen Victoria as to mistake her for a daughter
of William IV.

VIII. To be called upon to believe that these blunders could have
been committed by Tacitus, is to ask one to believe that he, who
made no such mistakes in his History, ceased to write like a Roman
when composing the Annals. It is truly writing, not like an
ancient Roman, but a modern European, when in the first book of
the Annals Germanicus is represented consulting whether he will
take a short and well known road, or one untried and difficult,
though the reason is, that by going the longer, he would go the
unguarded way, and really do things quicker: "consultatque, ex
duobus itineribus breve et solitum sequatur, an impeditius et
intentatum, eoque hostibus incautum. Delecta longiore via, cetera
adcelerantur" (I. 50). Were it not for this passage, one would
have thought that, in the days of Tiberius, Germany was almost as
bare of roads as the present interior of Arabia and Chinese
Tartary; and that each tribe in that enormous wilderness of wood
and morass was approached, as the present people of Dahomey,
Ashantee and Timbucto, by a single path; and that it was only,
after the lapse of centuries, when, in the due course of things,
Germany had assumed a more civilised character, that there were
two, three, or more roads; so that we can quite understand it
being said of the Bavarian general, John de Werth, in the
seventeenth century, that he did this,--march out of the direct
way, which was watched, by another road, which was longer because
it was unguarded: thus pouncing on the enemy by night, and taking
them so by surprise that they fled in alarm, he gained a bloodless
victory, without the drawing of a sword from its scabbard. Any
advantage that a modern general would gain in this way was not
open to an ancient general, particularly when invading the country
of a people like the Germans, mere savages, who knew no more of
such arts of warfare, as guarding roads and sending out scouts,
than Red Indians, Maoris and Hottentots of the present time. Sir
Garnet Wolseley, making his way to Coomassie, as a crow would fly,
is just about the manner in which we may be sure that Germanicus
made his way into Germany--as straight as he could go. But
military history is not the forte of the author of the Annals. He
knew it and avoided it as much as he could,--very unlike Tacitus,
who, practically acquainted with military as well as civil
affairs, writes with an obvious liking, of combats and civil wars,
and, according to military authorities competent to pass an
opinion, shows everywhere familiarity with battles, marches,
management of armies and conduct of generals.

One cannot understand how Tacitus, whose youth was passed in a
camp, should not have known the whole minutiae about the Roman
army; and that he should, with respect to its ensigns, exhibit
extraordinary ignorance. The fact stood thus:--the legions had
"signa," or standards; the "socii," or allies, that is, the
Latins, had "vexilla," or flags; so, perhaps, had the Romans when
marching under arms to a new settlement, or "colony"; but,
certainly, soldiers raised in the provinces had no ensigns at all,
neither standards nor flags; yet in the first book of the Annals
we hear of some "maniples," or "infantry companies" of the legions
that had been raised in Pannonia, when the news reached them of
the breaking out of a mutiny in the camp, tearing to pieces their
_flags_: "manipuli ... postquam turbatum in castris accepere,
_vexilla_ convellunt" (I. 20). The mistake is similar to that
which would be made if any one among ourselves were to give
colours to our volunteers or standards to our yeomanry.

Here it may be noticed that the figures of speech of Tacitus are,
like those of most ancient Romans, chiefly military. To be of the
highest rank is, with him, "to lead the van,"--"primum pilum
ducere" (Hist. IV. 3), or to set about a thing, "to be girt" (as
with a sword),--"accingi" (Hist. IV. 79). The author of the
Annals, though borrowing the latter phrase, goes anywhere but to
the field of battle for his figures; he takes them mostly from the
ways of ordinary civil life, selecting his metaphors, now from the
trader's shop or the merchant's counting-house, as "ratio constat"
(An. I. 6), used when the debtor and creditor sides of an account
balance one another; now from seamen steering and tacking vessels,
or coachmen driving horses, as "verbis moderans" (An. VI. 2),
which Nipperdey says ought to be rendered, "touching-up and
reining-in his words, and driving only at this."

IX. When Julius Caesar came to this country, he found the Britons,
without an exception, thorough barbarians, the best of them living
in places that were fortified woods. The author of the Annals,
only a century after this wild state of things in the barbarism of
the inhabitants and the rudeness of their abodes, speaks of
London, in the reign of Nero, in the year 60, as if it were the
chief residence of merchants and their principal mart of trade in
the civilized world. If there be one thing certain, it is that
centuries after,--in the middle of the fourth,--the people of
London were only exporters of corn;--no certainty that they
carried on any other kind of commerce, except it might be doing a
little business in dogs, and slaves whom they captured from
neighbouring barbarians,--their imports being polished bits of
bone, toys and horse-collars. Progressing, rapidly under the
Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans, and in the time of the
Plantagenets, they were in the fifteenth century a great and
wealthy people, illustrious for their commercial transactions,
dealing in every species of commodity, visited by merchants from
every part of Europe, and envied by the most flourishing
communities, such as the trading oligarchies of Italy. Any one
living at that time,--especially in Italy (where many
circumstances induce me to believe that the author or forger of
the "Annals of Tacitus" lived),--and hearing a great deal of the
wealth, greatness and immense antiquity of London, might easily
fall into this mistake, grievous in its enormity as it is. But any
one living about the time of Nero, as Tacitus did, could never
have described London in this flourishing state of commercial
greatness and prosperity. The chances are he never would have
heard of London; for that would be supposing in a Roman at the
close of the first or the commencement of the second century of
our aera a geographical knowledge more minute than that of the
President of the Royal Geographical Society, unless at the
haphazard mention of any particular village in the newly annexed
Fiji Islands, Sir Henry Rawlinson could enter into a correct
account of its chief characteristic. But if we are to go to the
extreme length of supposing that Tacitus had heard of London, he
would know that it was a place of no repute, utterly insignificant,
far inferior in importance to two now almost forgotten places in
Essex and Hertfordshire,--Maldon and St. Alban's,--called then
respectively Camelodunum and Verulamium,--the former being a
"colonia," and the latter a "municipium,"--London being a mere
"praefectura." It is then the height of absurdity to believe that
if Tacitus wrote the Annals we should have heard in that work London
spoken of as "remarkably celebrated for the multiplicity of its
merchants and its commodities": "copia negotiatorum et commeatuum
maxime celebre" (XIV. 33).

X. The author of the Annals pretends to know more about prominent
individuals in Rome than was known to their distinguished
contemporaneous countrymen. He writes of Labeo Antistius, as if
that jurisconsult were an example to the age in which he lived of
all the virtues and all goodness, and possessed, to a masterly
extent, accomplishments and acquirements; for thus he speaks of
him in conjunction with Capito Ateius: "Capito Ateius ...
principem in civitate locum studiis adsecutus--Labeonem Antistium,
iisdem artibus praecellentem ... namque illa aetas duo pacis
decora simul tulit; sed Labeo incorrupta libertate ...
celebratior" (An. III. 75). Horace, who was a contemporary of
Labeo's, says that he was a maniac, or, at any rate--"considered
very crazy in the company of the sane":--

    "Labeone insanior inter
    Sanos dicatur." (Sat. I. III. 82.)

Hitherto Horace by the side of "Tacitus" has been no better than a
clay pitcher by a porcelain vase; thus his disparaging, but,
doubtless, quite correct estimate of Labeo has been till now
altogether disregarded, in consequence of this passage in the
Annals, from its author being credited with having exceeded what
the ancient Romans had left us in the way of history.

So great is the repute of the Author of the Annals for supremacy
in the historian's art that Justus Lipsius places no faith
whatever in Suetonius when that, possibly, most veracious
historian records in his Life of Tiberius (61) the number of the
people who were executed for their attachment to Sejanus as
amounting to twenty; the universally applauded, and, generally
considered, most judicious Batavian critic of the sixteenth
century, without a manuscript or edition for his authority, alters
this number for One Thousand, because the author of the Annals
speaks of a "countless" mass of slain of all ranks, ages, and both
(he says "all") sexes, and further describes corpses as lying
about singly or piled up in heaps: "jacuit _immensa_ strages,
omnis sexus, omnis aetas, illustres, ignobiles, dispersi aut
aggerati" (VI. 19).

Hence, too, Dr. Nipperdey, in drawing up a table of the Augustan
family, in order to guard the reader against being perplexed by
the relationships of that house, treats the same Suetonius as of
no account when he says,--and Suetonius twice says it (Cal. I.,
Ner. 5),--that Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, married "the
younger Antonia." "In default of other evidence on the question of
fact," says the learned professor, "we must follow the better
author, Tacitus,"--the better author being the writer of the
Annals, who, on two occasions (I. 42; XII. 64), makes the "elder
Antonia" the wife of Drusus.

Examples of this description could be multiplied. But it is not
necessary to pursue this line of argument farther,--at least, at
present. What is required just now is not so much proof that the
author of the Annals did not write like the Romans, but that he
did not write like Tacitus, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts
he made to imitate him, and be mistaken for him by contemporaries
and posterity. To do this I must bring forward from the History
and the Annals an accumulation of coincidences, seeing that the
fabricator, being a most acute person, must have proceeded upon
the same principle as a man who forges a cheque upon a banker, and
who, in the prosecution of his design, endeavours to imitate, as
closely as he can, the handwriting of his victim, and do
everything carefully enough to escape immediate detection,
whatever may afterwards ensue.



I. Nature of the history.--II. Arrangement of the narrative.--
III. Completeness in form.--IV. Incongruities, contradictions and
disagreements from the History of Tacitus.--V. Craftiness of the
writer.--VI. Subordination of history to biography.--VII. The
author of the Annals and Tacitus differently illustrate Roman
history.--VIII. Characters and events corresponding to characters
and events of the XVth century.--IX. Greatness of the Author of
the Annals.

I. Before proceeding to point out the imitations, and show where,
in the efforts to write, and make history after the likeness of
Tacitus, the author of the Annals fails; and, from the signal
nature of his failures, his efforts are seen to be counterfeit, I
may observe that a constant endeavour on his part to escape
detection renders his imposture difficult to perceive and still
more difficult to expose. A man of his penetration and power to
enter far into subjects was, of course, deep enough to contrive
every species of artifice to conceal his fraud; and as we have no
record of his having been seen in the act of fabrication, or of
his ever having been even suspected of so doing, I must prove the
forgery by a detail of facts and circumstances. I can do this only
by going through the Annals minutely,--examining the matter,
manner, treatment, knowledge, views, sentiments, language, style,
--in fact, a variety of circumstances,--everything that can be
thought of;--for if it really be a forgery, it cannot be exactly
like the History of Tacitus in any one thing, whatever that one
thing be;--then I shall leave the reader to himself, to take into
account the whole of the circumstances, and judge whether such a
combination could have existed in a genuine work by Tacitus, and
is compatible with such a production.

We are to look, first, what the nature of the history purports to
be;--whether there is nothing peculiar as to its character.

It will be obvious to the least sagacious that the most paramount
and absolutely necessary thing to be accomplished was a vast and
comprehensive execution that should correspond to the vast and
comprehensive execution of Tacitus. Here was something to be done
seemingly insuperable; for how can any one hope to imitate the
execution of another, with such marvellous nicety that no
distinction can be discerned between the two on the minutest test
of microscopic investigation? more especially if the execution to
be imitated be that of a man of real genius, consequently
unparalleled in its way, of a mighty nature, and, in addition to
its mightiness, a thing of the purest individuality. Now, the
History of Tacitus is an execution of this description; it is a
work of real genius; therefore, it is a distinct essence,--a
realization of all the special aptitude possessed by the master-spirit
that penned it. But though this cannot be done, yet any one
having genius,--and a powerful genius,--by following its bent
directly, may expect to exhibit in the execution of a work an
ability that shall be considered equal to the ability displayed in
the execution of another, even though that other be a man of great
genius; but it can only be upon this very sage precaution,--that
he exercises his ability, which must necessarily be of a very
different kind, in quite a different manner. The forger of the
Annals had much too acute a discernment not to know this;--he was
also well aware that he had a very strong forte. We know the
department in which he excelled,--dealing with despotism,
servility and bloodshed. But then, if he was to do this, he would
do that, which would be a very strong proof that his work was a
forgery; for if he was to do this, he could not take up the
continuance of history as Tacitus intended to go on with it
namely, with Nerva and Trajan;--that he could not do, because in
dealing with those two rulers he would have to deal with men
remarkable for mildness, generosity, leniency and good-
heartedness;--thus he would have to deal with a subject which must
be fatal to his attempt; for it would be opposed to the play of
his peculiar gifts, which to be brought out properly required that
he should write only of Emperors noted for cruel, unnatural,
blood-thirsty tyranny. The plan of his undertaking, to be attended
with success, therefore compelled him, whether he liked it or not,
to go back to Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.

II. This must have been greatly against his will as a forger,
because this difficulty must have risen up before his mental
vision in colossal magnitude--that nobody, on careful
consideration, could admit that Tacitus would have written the
narrative of the half-century from the death of Augustus to the
accession of Galba, after what he says at the commencement of his
History, that the subject next to engage his attention would be
the events that happened in the reigns of Nerva and Trajan. This,
I repeat, is a point that brings forcibly before us the certainty
of the Annals being forged, unless any one can believe with
Niebuhr that, if Tacitus completed his History before the death of
Trajan, and could not write of that Emperor as long as that
Emperor lived, but "feeling a void," and "desiring to produce
another work," he resumed History with the rule of Tiberius; but
nobody can believe this, because it gets us into this enormous,
nay, inexplicable difficulty--Why the writer, who, in the History,
had shown an epic construction, with an epic opening and an epic
story, should observe in the Annals quite another arrangement, and
distribute the narrative in a studiously annalistic form? when,
too, the disjointed record of the journalist was to be combined
with the distinct arrangement of the historian who took the
continued transactions of a nation in their multiplicity of
details as they occurred at the same time in different places, and
related them in clear and due unity in the subject.

III. Out of this variance in the two works arises another
tremendous difficulty which we have to look at:--The Annals and
the History are intended, the one to be the complement to the
other. Then two works, which are necessary to each other, ought to
be, when separated, incomplete: if one man wrote them they would
be incomplete when separated; but if two men wrote them, they
would be complete in themselves. Now, are the History and the
Annals incomplete, when separated? or complete in themselves?
Everybody acknowledges that they are complete in themselves; each
contains everything requisite for the full understanding and
enjoyment of each; each has its peculiar force; each its distinct
beauty; and for uniformity to exist in the two many passages in
both must be destroyed; and the most ingenious can give no just or
adequate cause for the destruction of the passages, even as he can
give no just or adequate cause for their existence, except that
which I am advancing that it was because two men wrote the two

IV. This accounts at once for all the incongruities they owe their
existence naturally enough to the following simple causes:--the
different kinds of information possessed as well as the different
views of things entertained by two different individuals; and,
along with these, an occasional failing of the memory; for a man,
who forges such a very long work as the Annals, must every now and
then forget,--however tenacious his memory may be,--what the man,
whom he simulates, has said, here and there, in this or that work,
upon some minor point in Roman history, not associated with nor
essential to the principal thing he has always to keep steadily in
mind,--his main matter. Thus we find no end of little trips in the
Annals, many of which we will point out in their proper places as
we proceed with this investigation: at present it is sufficient
for the illustration of our remark to call the reader's attention
to this fact:--In the Annals Augustus is represented having as his
successors in the first degree Tiberius and Livia; in the second
degree his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and in the third
degree the leading nobles, including even some of those whom he
hated, such, we may presume, as Labeo, his detractor, Gallus
Asinius, who was thirsting for empire, and Lucius Arruntius, who
would have made the attempt to unseat him had the opportunity
presented itself:--"Tiberium et Liviam haeredes habuit ... in
spem secundam, nepotes pronepotesque: tertio gradu primores
civitatis scripserat, plerosque invisos sibi, sed jactantia
gloriaque ad posteros" (An. I. 8). Such an account of Augustus
adopting these relations, and, after them, strangers and enemies,
"out of vain-glory and for future renown,"--that is, to be admired
by posterity for an unexampled display of humanity,--could not
have been written by Tacitus, being different in every respect
from what he relates,--and what he says, by the way, is also said
by Suetonius,--that Augustus, looking for a successor in his own
family, placed next to himself in dignity, so as to be prepared to
be his successor, his nephew, Marcellus, then his son-in-law,
Agrippa, next his grandsons, and lastly, his step-son, Tiberius
Nero:--"divi Augusti, qui sororis filium, Marcellum, dein generum,
Agrippam, mox nepotes suos, postremo Tiberium Neronem, privignum,
in proximo sibi fastigio collocavit" (Hist. I. 15).

Such disagreements, due,--in all probability, more than to
anything else,--to the occasional failure of the memory,--are
sufficient in themselves to prove that the Annals and the History
did not proceed from the same source. Accordingly, the man who
forged the Annals, having apparently, this overwhelming and
troublesome difficulty ever uppermost in his mind, seems to have
taken measures for guarding against it as well as he could, and
with as much care as he could. This taking precautions against the
failure of memory must have been one of the main reasons, why he
elected writing of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero, when, as
Tacitus, he ought to have written of Nerva and Trajan. He was thus
enabled to relate a series of events prior to, and entirely
different from the series of events related by Tacitus; there was
thereby no possibility of his narrative clashing with that of his
archetype; the most trying difficulties were in this way got over
with sufficient ease; the only danger was with regard to a few
individuals who lived during the two periods, and a few facts,
that trailed their circumstances from one period into the other;
but his main history would have nothing in common with the main
history of Tacitus.

V. To borrow a phrase of Gualterius--he ran the risk of "falling
into Scylla in trying to avoid Charybdis":

 "Incidit in Scyllam, qui vult vitare Charybdin."

How could he convince the world that Tacitus would act with such
twofold inconsistency as to write of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius
and Nero, when he had said that he would not do so, on account of
the number of writers who had recorded the occurrences of their
reigns, and that if he resumed the duties of an historian it would
be with the reigns of Nerva and Trajan. The world,--and nobody
knew it better than the author of the Annals,--is easily
convinced; and there is no inconsistency, however monstrous, that
it considers unaccountable. He, therefore, set about the task of
convincing the world that Tacitus did this. Acting up to his own
maxim, that "the way to get out of disgraceful acts that are
evident is by audaciousness": "flagitiis manifestis subsidium ab
audacia petendum" (An. XI. 26), he resorted to audacity in a
trick, which has been hitherto eminently successful,--making the
world believe from a single remark which he introduced into his
narrative as the double of Tacitus, that that noble Roman was
really guilty of this twofold inconsistency, so that
changeableness, unsteadiness of purpose and self-contradiction
should seem to be his leading characteristics. Without ever
intending to write the history of Augustus,--or he never would
have begun the Annals with an introduction in which he epitomizes
principal events in the Roman State from its very foundation,
otherwise what had he left to himself in a subsequent historical
composition of a prior date for an appropriate exordium,--he says
in his third book that he would make the memorable events in the
reign of Augustus the subject of a new history, should his health
and life continue:--"cetera illius aetatis memorabo, si plures ad
curas vitam produxero" (An. III. 24)--evidently only because
Tacitus had said at the commencement of his History, that he had
reserved as the employment of his old age, should his life be long
enough, the reigns of Nerva and Trajan:--"quod si vita suppeditet,
principatum Divi Nervae et imperium Trajani ... senectuti seposui"
(Hist. I. 1). There was then one and the same man saying in one
place:--"I am going to write the History of Augustus when I am an
old man;"--(and this being said in the Annals, the author of that
book must have wanted the world to presume that the writer would
have chosen the form of biography for it):--and in another place:
"I am going to write the history of Nerva and Trajan when I am an
old man"; (and this being said in the History, the author of the
Annals must have supposed that the world might presume that the
writer would have chosen the form of history for this continued

The author of the Annals having done this, opened out before himself
the very widest field for indulging in all sorts of contradictions;
for, after this, who would not be, and who is not, prepared for any
contradictions? The contradictions come; and they are strange and

VI. There is a systematic subordination of history to biography
throughout the Annals, in which imperial events are sacrificed to
the prominence and effect of individual delineations: in the
History there is a general, comprehensive review of the Empire at
the time of Nero's death; Rome is the centre, and the subject
matter the condition of a people affected by the imperial system
of government. The History conveys political instruction; the
Annals supplies materials for studying the human mind and the
motives of human conduct: in imparting a knowledge of events
respecting the Roman nation, the writer of the History, who is
gifted with graphic power, places _images_ before us, whereas
the writer of the Annals, aware that in picturesqueness he was
inferior to Tacitus, gives us _impressions_, while he investigates
social phenomena and elucidates the principles of human nature.
One work is historic, the other philosophic. One man generalizes,
the other particularizes. We are presented with one set of
interests in the History, with another set in the Annals.
In the History we see the struggles of an empire and the
convulsions of the world; in the Annals we are shut out from such
a prospect, to have our view limited to the deeds of one or two
emperors, and a few renowned individuals.

VII. Such differences, so striking and so essential, prove the
Annals to be a forged book; for all these differences in the two
works can only be ascribed to the entirely different turns of mind
peculiar to two writers. Tacitus wrote as he did, from having a
profounder knowledge of the springs of action in the political
world than the author of the Annals. The author of the Annals,
surpassing Tacitus with respect to the moral world, wrote as he
did, from knowing better the motives that influence men's minds,
and the passions that sway their hearts. The result of two such
very different men composing two such very different works, is,
that the contrast is almost as great when we turn from the History
to the Annals, as when we turn from a general history of England
by a Hume or a Lingard where we notice the origin of Englishmen's
liberties and privileges, the chivalrous scenes of the past and
the proud glories of the present, to the local record of some
county, as Kent or Lancashire, by a Hasted or a Baines, embodying
information of boroughs and parishes, town councils and
corporations, where such things become of substantial importance
as the clauses of charters, the collection of market dues,
donations of maces and drinking cups to mayors, and gold or silver
cradles to their ladies on the birth of babies during the year of

If the Annals is really to be considered a forgery, this, instead
of being a matter of surprise, ought to be just the thing to be
expected; because a clever fabricator, foreseeing that he would be
suspected, and eager to foil detection, would know that the
curious inquirer into a research of the present description would
thus become baffled at every turn from inability, if not to
discover it himself, at least, to explain to the satisfaction and
conviction of others, the incompatibility of the workings of one
spirit in one book with the workings of the other spirit in the
other book, when the two compositions were so differently
contrived. But if the Annals is to be considered as genuine, then
nobody can explain why the same individual should illustrate Roman
history in this singular fashion,--both works being designed, as
universally admitted, the one to be a complement to the other.
What should be the inducement of the author of the Annals if he
did not wish the world to deny that it was his handiwork to write
his book so very differently from the History of Tacitus? For what
was there in the times of Rome under Galba, Otho, Vitellius and
Vespasian so very different from what the Roman Empire was under
their immediate predecessors, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and
Nero, that the part which has to do with events in the days of the
first-named four emperors should treat of imperial transactions
and be deficient in many of the memorials which claim notice in
the part dealing with Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero; and,
that the part which has to do with events in the times of the
last-named four emperors should all but avoid what is amply
recorded in the part, dealing with Galba, Otho, Vitellius and
Vespasian, imperial occurrences finding but an occasional and
almost accidental notice in the Annals, where the mind is
encumbered with the minutiae of circumstantial details of
individual deeds.

VIII. The author of the Annals, who (as I shall convincingly show
hereafter) lived in the XVth century, seems, on account of that,
to have had a still stronger reason than those just given for
selecting as his subject the half century after the death of
Augustus: its characters and events corresponded closely to the
characters of the princes who ruled, and the nature of the
movements that were going on all over Europe in his time; for in
forging history, that was to pass as written by Tacitus, it was
incumbent that he should have the same advantage as the Roman,--be
on the same level with him in the occupation of ground. Now, the
ground occupied by Tacitus was the time of himself, which enabled
him to give a complete and copious reflex of a period through
which he had lived with thoughtful attention. Thus his colours are
bright. Unless antiquity supplied the author of the Annals only
the framework of his picture, and the events of the time when he
lived gave the scenes for the painting, his colours would fail,
and his outlines become unsteady. In other words, there could not
be the scrupulous minuteness and the perfect freedom which make
history live and breathe, unless, like Tacitus, he registered
facts in which he took the deepest interest, from feeling their
influence directly and powerfully exerted over himself, and the
living and loved around him. Thus his hand, by being guided as the
hand of Tacitus, would throw life into his work. And, truly, there
is as much life in the Annals as in the History; but, instead of
the air of the first century breathing around it, it is the air of
the fifteenth.

This can be tested by many a character; one will suffice, that of
Caius Piso in the fifteenth book (48). Pliny and Juvenal tell us
that Piso was consul suffectus under Claudius: the Tabulae Arvales
add that he was a member of the College of Twelve who offered
sacrifice when there was increase in the produce of the soil.
Writers and records of antiquity say no more of Caius Piso, not
even mentioning the name of his father. On such a little known man
a forger of Roman history could safely expatiate; the author of
the Annals does so in a portraiture that bears the stamp of the
fifteenth century: this is particularly observable when Piso is
spoken of as "of brilliant repute among the populace for virtues,"
or, rather, "qualities that wore the form of virtues,"--"species
virtutibus similes";--that he was "far from being morosely moral,
or restrained by moderation in pleasures; mild in temper and soft
in manners; given to pompous show and occasionally steeping
himself in luxurious excesses,"--"procul gravitas morum, aut
voluptatum parsimonia: lenitati ac magnificentiae et aliquando
luxui indulgebat." This does not appear to be at all applicable to
the character of any conspicuous personage belonging to the Roman
Empire in the first century, when Romans were warriors still,
preserving, amid some effeminacy, much of the hardy vigour of
their Republican predecessors, ever and anon throwing aside the
toga for the sagum, and rushing from the Forum to the field, to
battle with ferocious and demi-nude savages, whom ever subduing
they carried home captives chained to their triumphal chariots;
but it does seem to be uncommonly applicable to a time when many a
priest, whose writings manifest a lax habit of thinking and betray
a levity, indeed, licentiousness, ill according with a religious
turn of mind, rose to the position of a great dignitary of the
Church and a powerful arbiter of the destinies of his kind. As
that was an age when Alexander VI. was a Pope, and Lucretia Borgia
the daughter of a Pontiff and consort of a reigning Duke of Italy,
we can readily credit the author of the Annals, and laud him for
admirable, life-like portraiture, when he says that a character
and conduct, such as Piso's, "met with the approbation of a large
number of people, who, indulging in vice as delightful, did not
want at the head of affairs a strict practiser of the moral duties
and an austere abstainer from vice:"--"pluribus probabatur, qui in
tanta vitiorum dulcedine summum imperium non restrictum nec
perseverum volunt."

The character is too vague in its outlines to be any particular
individual's; but as all its points fit many an Italian priest who
became a Cardinal or a Bishop and a chief minister to a prince, in
the time of the Renaissance, as well as in the period immediately
before it, and that immediately after it,--it shows how men
reflect the age they live in,--how the principal biographies in
any certain time convey a pretty accurate idea of the tone of mind
then prevailing; further, and above all, it shows to what a great
degree the books of the Annals reflect the chief features of the
period when they were written, and how deeply their author enters
into the spirit of his age.

As with characters so with events. Heaps of passages in the Annals
read like incidents in the fifteenth century. It is more like a
picture in an Italian court at that period than in a Roman
Emperor's in the first century, when the arrest is made of Cneius
Novius for being found treacherously armed with a dagger while
mixing with the throng of courtiers bowing to the prince; and then
when he is stretched on the rack, no confession being wrung from
him as to accomplices; and the doubt that prevailed whether he
really had fellow-conspirators. "Cneius Novius, eques Romanus,
ferro accinctus reperitur in coetu salutantium principem. Nam,
postquam tormentis dilaniabatur, de se non infitiatus conscios non
edidit, incertum an occultans." (An. XI. 22.)

IX. In this way do I fancy I perceive the author of the Annals
chose his subject and worked his materials, so as to do most
justice to his talents, and more easily reach the height attained
by Tacitus. When he had apparently thus sketched the plan of his
edifice, and set about struggling with the difficulties of the
elaboration, he encountered these with such eminent success that
the reality of his literary labour is one of the most surprising
facts in the history of the human mind. He seems never to have
once deviated from his design nor to have ever been perplexed by
embarrassments in the course of his undertaking, notwithstanding
the voluminousness of its nature. In such a procedure, where the
time he chose to descant upon fits in with all he wanted to
accomplish, we see the first indication of the vast judgment he
possessed, as well as the correct notion he had formed of the
extent of his superior powers. In detecting in the author of the
Annals so much judgment and such an exact estimate of his great
mental faculties, we see the difficulty to be coped with in
distinguishing between him and Tacitus, and thus in distinguishing
between the spurious and the genuine: but this distinguishing can
be accomplished by a minute, and only a most minute examination of
the two works.



I. In the qualities of the writers; and why that difference.
--II. In the narrative, and in what respect.--III. In style and
language.--IV. The reputation Tacitus has of writing bad Latin
due to the mistakes of his imitator.

I. Statesmen learn the things which are of use to them in
government by reading the History, because Tacitus recounts the
actions of the world under the imperial rule of Rome. All men can
profit in the choice of morals from reading the Annals, on account
of its writer relating principally the actions of sovereign
princes and illustrious persons in their private capacity.

This diversity of treatment results from the difference in the
qualities of the writers. Tacitus possessed a consummate knowledge
of the true policy of States, and the use and extent of
government. Accordingly, he reveals measures necessary for the
successful carrying on of war, or the proper and equitable
administration of affairs in peace, while he places before us a
graphic and presumably true picture of the mode in which the
Romans ruled their Empire in the first century of the Christian
aera. The author of the Annals was acquainted with an entirely
different form and order of statesmanship and politics. Hence he
immerses us in crooked turnings of false policy and dark intrigues
of bad ambition, forcibly reminding us of what made the greatest
portion of the European art of government in the fifteenth century
towards the close of the mediaeval and the commencement of the
modern periods. He favours us with a paucity of maxims relating to
government in general, or the different branches and offices which
make up the body politic; but enters, with tedious fulness, into
the rise, operation, consequences and proper restraint of the
genuine passions and natural propensities of mankind in
individuals, public and private.

We search in vain in the History for any trace of the melancholy
that we find in the Annals; and in vain do we look in the Annals
for any pictures of virtue and lessons of wisdom which in the
History are taught us by bright examples and illustrious actions.
Had the same hand that wrote the Annals written the History, we
should have had in the latter work a very different treatment. The
record would have been dark and dismal, even to repulsion, the
opportunities being ample for an historian of gloomy disposition
to indulge his humour, when the character of the History is thus
described with truth in the Preface to Sir Henry Saville's
translation of it:--"In these four books we see all the miseries
of a torn and declining state; the empire usurped; the princes
murdered; the people wandering; the soldiers tumultuous; nothing
unlawful to him that hath power, and nothing so unsafe as to be
securely innocent." Then, after stating what we learn from the
examples of Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, the writer adds:
"In them all, and in the state of Rome under them, we see the
calamities that follow civil war, where laws lie asleep, and all
things are judged by the sword." In going over such a dreary
period of human history, Tacitus is as composed and cheerful as if
he was dwelling on the gayest and brightest of themes.

The cause of this is to be found in the fact that there was
nothing to overshadow the soul of Tacitus with gloom. However
painful and dire may have been the constraint to other Romans
during the fifteen years' rule of Domitian, he had no ground of
complaint: far from that; for he says that he was advanced by that
Emperor further in dignity than by Vespasian and Titus. In the
reign of Trajan he must have been supremely happy; for he speaks
of it himself as "a time of rare felicity,"--"rara temporum
felicitate,"--when men might "think what they pleased and express
what they thought." His domestic life must have been blest by the
perfect devotion and tender attachment of a wife, who, then in her
prime, had surely verified the brilliant hopes of the promising
bride. (Agr. 9.) In the maturity of his days he lived again in his
children; for that he had children we know from the Emperor
Tacitus, a century and a half after, boasting of being his
descendant, a pride that was shared in the fifth century by
Polemius, a Prefect of Gaul, as we learn from a remark of the
Prefect's friend, Sidonius Apollinaris. He enjoyed the most
brilliant of literary reputations, as the anecdote sufficiently
reveals of a stranger, who, addressing him at a public spectacle,
and being informed that he must know him well from his writings,
remarked: "Then you must be either Tacitus or Pliny." He was happy
in the friendship of Pliny the Younger, and men as good, eminent
and distinguished as that elegant disciple of Cicero's.

There was then nothing, in the fortunes of Tacitus to make him
trenchant, biting and cynical; but, on the contrary, most gentle,
as he was, and most placid and benign. Such being his character, a
kind interpretation and a candid sense of actions and individuals
meet us on every page of his History. Still in enumerating the
virtues of eminent persons he does not omit their vices or
failings: his way of doing this is peculiar. He tells us Sabinus
served the State for five and thirty years with great distinction
at home and abroad, and was of unquestionable integrity, but adds
jestingly "he talked too much."--"Quinque et triginta stipendia in
republicâ fecerat, domi militiaeque clarus; innocentiam
justitiamque ejus non argueret: _sermonis nimium erat_."
(Hist. III. 75.) Otho and Vitellius quarrel and charge each other
with debaucheries and the grossest crimes; the historian then,
with dry humour, remarks, "neither was wrong":--"Mox, quasi
rixantes stupra et flagitia invicem objectavere: _neuter
falso._" (Hist. I. 74.) This witty and ridiculing vein does not
prevent him from being always kindly. The benignity of his nature
is seen in all his portraitures (which look, by the way, like the
portraitures of real men); it is observable in his character of
Licinius Mucianus (I. 10), Cornelius Fuscus (II. 86), Helvidius
Priscus (IV. 5), and others;--lovely portraits where defects or
peccadilloes are given along with real and positive virtues, and
in an antithetical manner. His antithetical manner is preserved in
the Annals; but, instead of blandness, we come across a propensity
to form unfavourable opinions of character and conduct, as when
the Athenians are designated "that scum of nations":--"colluviem
illam nationum" (II. 55); and Octavia, "the sprig of a gipsy
fiddler" [Endnote 074]:--"tibicinis Aegyptii subolem." (XIV. 61)
There is wit and ridicule in both works, but it is not the wit and
ridicule of the same individual; it is sprightly and amusing in
the History; it is ungracious and actually cruel in the Annals.

This difference in the writing of Tacitus and the author of the
Annals may be accounted for in many ways,--perhaps in none better
than this:--When Tacitus lived no one despaired of public cares
being attended to, or the plans of the wise being employed in
advancing the national welfare; but when the author of the Annals
lived, everybody despaired; private profligacy was as rampant as
public misery, and, amid the universal degeneracy, scheming
politicians disregarded the good and greatness of their country to
be intriguers at court for the improvement of their position.

Those were the times when Louis XI. supplied the places of the
ministers and marshals, the generals and admirals of France, the
Dunois, the La Tremoilles, the Brézés and the Chabannes with mere
creatures--new and obscure men who aided him in his artful schemes
and plans of government: he made his barber an ambassador, his
tailor a herald at arms, and his phlebotomist a chancellor: he
imposed enormous taxes on the people, and when the people
revolted, he ordered some of the ringleaders to be torn to pieces
alive by horses, and the others to be beheaded, as occurred at
Rheims, Angers, Alençon and Aurillac. Francis of Carrara, the Lord
of Padua, cruelly murdered the Venetian General, Galeaz of Mantua,
when the Doge and Council of Venice refused to ratify the terms of
a capitulation. Suspicion attached to the peace in which Ivan
Basilowitch lived and ruled in his palace at Moscow, surrounded
completely by a wooden wall. Enclosed, too, by a very large tract
of land, and in a most magnificent mansion which he built for
himself and his companions at Ripaglia, a place pleasantly
situated on the Lake of Geneva, Amedeus, the last Count and first
Duke of Savoy, so abandoned himself in his unobserved private and
solitary life, to all kinds of debaucheries, that Desmarets says
in his "Tableau des Papes" (p. 167) that from that originated the
phrase "to feast and make merry,"--"faire repaille"; yet this very
Amedeus afterwards acted the part of the only true Pope at Tonon
during the greater portion of the two years, 1440 and 1441, having
been elected to the Pontificate by the Fathers of Basle during the
Papacy of Eugenius IV. When the throne of Don Carlos, the Infant
of Navarre, was usurped, on the death of his mother, Blanche of
Navarre, by her husband, John I. of Aragon, a disgraceful quarrel
and a prolonged war ensued between father and son, when the son,
being repeatedly defeated in battle, was finally captured and cast
into prison by the father, and poisoned by his mother-in-law;
although he was deserving of a better fate, being an enlightened
prince who wrote a History of the Kings of Navarre, which is still
preserved in the archives of Pampeluna. A blind and feeble old
monarch, Muley Albohaçan, King of Granada, ordered the massacre of
a number of children by his first marriage; Ziska destroyed 550
churches and monasteries in Germany alone; and, for attempting
reforms in religion, Huss and Jerome of Prague were cruelly burnt
alive at the stake. These and similar horrors of those distressful
times, which find fit counterparts in revolting incidents in the
Annals, could not but deeply affect the soul of a man ardently
loving liberty and devoted to humanity as, unquestionably, was the
forger of that work: hence throughout his book the sting which
misfortune gives, and the moodiness which melancholy begets.

A spirit of liberty runs through his work; but the spirit is not
the same as that which pervades the History of Tacitus any more
than that his merits are like the Roman's in precision of
delineating actions and characters. The good temper of Tacitus
causes him to differ from other writers in the estimation of
character. He gives a better account of Galba and Vitellius than
Suetonius; of Vitellius and Nero than the abbreviator of Cassius
Dio, Xiphilinus, of Otho than Juvenal; and of Vinius than
Plutarch. Galba, who, in Suetonius, puts to death, with their
wives and children, the Governors in Spain and Gaul who did not
side with his party during the life of Nero, is, with Tacitus, a
prince remarkable for integrity and justice, and such faults as he
has are not, strictly speaking, his own, but those of worthless
friends who abuse his confidence, for we are told that it is the
pernicious counsels of Titus Vinius and Cornelius Laco, the former
depraved and profligate, the other slothful and incapable, which
first lose him the popular favour and ultimately prove his ruin:
"Invalidum senem Titus Vinnius et Cornelius Laeo, alter deterrimus
mortalium, alter ignavissimus, _odio flagitorum oneratum,
contemptu inertiae destruebant_." (Hist. I. 6 _in._) Vitellius,
who, according to Suetonius, puts one of his sons to death, and
poisons his mother, or starves her to death, is, in Tacitus, a
tender father doing all for his offspring that fortune permits him
to do in his excess of adversity (Hist. II. 59), and a respectful,
sensitive son seeking to abdicate his empire in order to rescue
his parent from impending evils. (Hist. III. 67.) Juvenal shows us
Otho carrying into the tumult of the battle-field the effeminacy
that disgraces him in time of peace; Tacitus represents Otho as an
active warrior (Hist. II. 11); and convinces us that there was
more of good than evil in that emperor. Xiphilinus paints the wife
of Vitellius as wickedly dissolute; Tacitus as a respectable woman
of whom the State had no complaint to make in her misfortune. He
can find virtues even in Vinius (Hist. I. 13), whom the Roman
people execrated and whom Plutarch castigates in terms of
unmeasured reprehension.

The Author of the Annals brings before our vision quite opposite
reflections from the mirror of life: his pictures are quite horrid
of revolting crimes unrelieved by virtuous actions in Tiberius,
Claudius, Nero, Sejanus, Agrippina, Messalina, Albucilla, and
other men and women. His character of Tiberius is the wonderfully
drawn portrait of the most absolute and artful tyrant that was
ever created by the fancy of man; and we may be as certain that
such a character never existed as we may be assured that that the
wise maxims and fine things were ever uttered which he tells us
passed the lips in private of Emperors and Ministers of State.
Though not a single virtue relieves the vices of Tiberius in the
Annals, Suetonius speaks of him as showing clemency when a public
officer; Cassius Dio describes him as so humane that he condemned
nobody for his estate, nor confiscated any man's goods, nor
exacted money by force; and Velleius Paterculus makes him all but
a pattern of the virtues,--if Velleius Paterculus is an
authority,--it being just possible that his "Historiae Romanae ad
Marcum Vinicium Consulem" may some of these days be as clearly
proved to be as glaring a modern forgery, as I am now attempting
to prove the Annals of Tacitus to be: certain it is that what we
have of Velleius Paterculus is supplied by only one MS., which was
found under very suspicious circumstances in very suspicious

II. The general train of the narrative may be as nervous in the
Annals as in the History; but the latter is proof against all
objections to imperfection and hurry of narrative: every now and
then errors of this description mar the workmanship of the Annals,
showing at once that it was not composed by Tacitus. From what he
did in the History, he never would have abruptly dropped the
proceedings in the Senate with regard to Tiberius and the honours
paid to his family: there would have been a measure of time and
place in the campaigns of Germanicus: he would have told us what
urged Piso to his acts of apparent madness; and whether he was
guilty or innocent of poisoning Germanicus: we should have known
whether the adopted son of Tiberius came to a violent end; whether
Agrippina perished on account of food withheld from her in her
dungeon; and how Julia, the granddaughter of Augustus died. This
habit of occasionally neglecting to impart complete information,
which is not at all in the manner of Tacitus, cannot be due to the
difference of arrangement in the two works; which, in itself, is a
very suspicious difference; for the plan in the Annals is to give
the transactions of every year in chronological order, whereas
that in the History is not to keep each year distinct in itself,
but allow occurrences to find their proper place according to
their nature, before the time when they happen. [Endnote 081]

In addition to this very suspicious difference, there is another
producing so much doubt that alone it seems to stamp with truth
the theory of the Annals being a forgery.

Tacitus passes over in silence men renowned for learning who took
no part in the historical events related by him. The author of the
Annals, at the end of one historic year, before passing on to
record the events of that which follows, mentions their deaths, as
of the two famous juris-consults, Capito Ateius and Labeo
Antistius. (III. 74.) In this style of writing we detect two men
differing from each other as widely as De Thou differs from
Guicciardini: De Thou, confining himself to his own times,
descends into minutiae, so as to record the deaths of the great
men of his day; Guicciardini, with his eye fixed on his country,
passes over memorials of individuals to dwell on the various
causes which brought about the great changes in the civil and
ecclesiastical policy of his stirring period.

Another thing extremely suspicious is that nowhere in his History,
nor even in his biographical work, Agricola, does Tacitus
introduce a whole letter. All that he does is to give the
substance, and not the contents, as the letter from Tiberius to
Germanicus in Germany. (Hist. V. 75.) Elsewhere he refers merely
to the contents of letters, as in the second book of the History (64).
Speeches are found in his works, for this reason:--Speeches form
no small part of what is transacted in the senate, at the army
and before the emperor; they issue to the public, they pass
through the mouths of men, and they form much weighty matter.
Tacitus then seems to have thought that if he inserted speeches,
he would be maintaining the majesty of history by attending to
great matters, but that if he inserted letters, as they refer
generally to private affairs, he would be faulty as an historian,
by ceasing to be grave and becoming trifling. There is no
accounting, then, for the letter that is found in the Annals (III. 53),
if we are to assume that that work was the composition of
Tacitus, except we are ready to admit that he was capable of
descending from the accustomed gravity of his lofty historical
manner to be a rival for supremacy in the small style of such
indifferent memoirists, as Vulcatius Gallicanus, who has almost as
many letters as there are pages in his very short life of the
Emperor Avidius Cassius. [Endnote 083]

Nobody can satisfactorily explain why, or how it was possible
that, Tacitus should have contradicted in the Annals what he says
in the History of the Legions of Rome and the Praetorian and Urban
Cohorts. He tells us in his History that his countrymen had
legions in Britain, Gaul, and Italy; in the Annals we are told
that the Romans had no troops in those countries. We gather from
the Annals, that there were eight legions in Germany, three in
Spain, and two each in Moesia, Africa, and Pannonia; from the
History we find that there were seven legions in Germany, three in
Moesia, two in Spain, and one each in Africa and Pannonia. We are
told in the History that the Praetorian Cohorts were nine, in the
Annals ten. So we are told in the History that the Urban Cohorts
were four (_quatuor urbanae cohortes_ scribebantur) (Hist. II. 93), and
in the Annals three (insideret urbem proprius miles, _tres urbanae_).
(An. IV. 5.) It matters not what are the right statements in these
several instances; all that concerns us in our inquiry is that,
here beyond all question are two different men, possessing quite
a different knowledge, informing us about the same things; and
the disagreements would be mighty puzzling on any other theory
than that which we are advancing,--that two different men wrote
the History and the Annals.

So, again, with respect to the twenty-one, and afterwards twenty-five
priests of Apollo, the "Sodales Augustales," otherwise styled
"Sacerdotes Titii," the latter name being given to them, according
to Varro, after birds similarly called, whose motions it was their
duty to watch in certain auguries (though what the ancients called
the "titius," by the way, is about as little known as what Pliny
calls the "spinthurnyx,"--Servius and Isidorus thinking they might
have been "doves," from such fowls being styled by the common
people "tetas" and "tetos"). Livy makes no mention of these
priests; neither does Dionysius of Halicarnassus, though Dionysius
was very fond of entering into details of Roman antiquities.
Tacitus gives one origin to this priesthood, the author of the
Annals another; Tacitus, describing the gladiatorial shows by
which the birthday of Vitellius was celebrated in the year 15,
says, that the Emperor Tiberius consecrated those priests to the
Julian House, in imitation of their first institutor, Romulus, who
consecrated them to King Tatius: (facem Augustales subdidere: quod
sacerdotium, ut _Romulus Tatio regi_, ita Caesar Tiberius
Juliae genti, _sacravit_.) (Hist. II. 95.) The author of the
Annals, as if this passage had entirely slipped his attention, or
dropped from his memory, or forgetting that he was engaged in the
forgery of a work by Tacitus, corrects that view by making quite a
different statement, that it was King Tatius, and not Romulus, who
first instituted, and apparently consecrated that order of
priesthood to himself, his exact words being: "that same year saw
established a new religious ceremony, by the priesthood being
added of the 'Augustales Sodales,' as of yore Titus Tatius, to
retain the holy rites of the Sabines, had instituted the 'Sodales
Titii'":--Idem annus novas caermonias accepit, addito sodalium
Augustalium sacerdotio, ut quodam _Titus Tatius_ retinendis
Sabinorum sacris _sodales Titios instituerat_. (An. I. 54.)
As many writings bearing upon the remote time of Romulus and the
Sabine kings may be lost, and the author of the Annals may have
had, in the fifteenth century, authorities not extant now, to
warrant him in writing history so very differently from Tacitus;
and as that Roman in such matters must have taken what he said on
trust from others, we cannot here decide who was right and who
wrong; but what is most important in this investigation is that
the disagreement is quite sufficient to convince us that Tacitus
did not write the Annals.

We shall hereafter more particularly distinguish the two works by
other differences in their matter and form, the manner of their
authors, and the substance of the things treated of: for the
present we may proceed to distinguish them by some differences in
their style and language.

III. In these respects nothing is easier than to detect two
writers, no matter how careful they may be in endeavouring to
imitate the style and language of each other: there will always be
some shade,--and indeed, a very strong shade,--whereby to
distinguish their manner of thinking and their choice and
arrangement of words; there will be more or less purity,
simplicity, grace and propriety in their choice of language; more
or less beauty, precision, cadence and harmony in their
collocation of words: their cogitative faculty will vary in
measure of thought--in force or tenuity; nor will they resemble in
their train of ideas,--be that regular, methodical and uniform, or
unsteady, scattered and disorderly. There must ever be these
important differences; they spring out of individual idiosyncrasy;
their exercise is involuntary, being dependent upon the native
taste and turn of mind of the writer; from such influence he can
no more escape, than he can avoid in his physical qualities a
peculiar gait or tone of voice, look, laugh, or mode of bearing.
If any one question this, let him take up any of the dramas
written conjointly by members of the School of Shakespeare in the
reign of James the First. They all tried to shape themselves in
the same mould; they served apprentices to one another in
constructing and composing the drama; Cartwright strove to write
like his instructor, Ben Jonson; Massinger like his master,
Shakespeare; Shakespeare, too, like Marston and Robert Green (for
Marston taught him how to write tragedy, and Green taught him how
to write comedy): they believed that they eminently succeeded in
catching each other's manner, and to such a nicety, that they
could write together, without the handiwork of one being
distinguishable from the handiwork of the other. In this spirit
Shakespeare wrote with Fletcher; Dekker with William Rowley; Ford,
too, with Dekker; numerous others similarly composed in
companionship, Middleton, Marston, Day and Heywood; but any one
acquainted with their separate productions, consequently, with
their style and language can hardly fail to point out what this
one wrote, and what was written by the other. Test this by
Shakespeare, who, it would be supposed, is the most difficult to
detect because it is generally stated and believed that he wrote
in a variety of styles; it is only a seeming variety; his mode of
versification certainly differs--he changed his measures with his
subjects; still the same fancy is always at work, impressing
images with strength on the mind; there is no change in the
weightiness of the style, the quaintness of the language, the
justness of the representations, the depth of the reflections,
whether he be writing the two worst plays in which he took part
(for portions only seem to have been supplied by him), Pericles
and Titus Andronicus, or his two best, conceived so massively and
executed in such a masterly manner, Macbeth and Othello. In the
Two Noble Kinsmen, which he wrote with Fletcher, any body familiar
with his acknowledged dramas, can trace him as easily as a
traveller follows with his finger the course of the Rhone while
that river is traversing the Lake of Geneva; for one can tell with
as much certainty, as if assured of it, that he wrote the whole
opening of that tragedy, or First Act, while his light, airy and
more sprightly collaborator wrote all the closing part, or last

Now, the author of the Annals seems to have displayed remarkable
diligence in a careful study of the style and language of Tacitus
with the view of reproducing them in the multiplicity and variety
of expressions that would necessarily occur in the course of the
very long work he meditated forging. To judge from his handiwork,
he was specially struck by certain peculiarities:--such as
dignified and powerful expression, with extraordinary conciseness
joined to loftiness of diction;--hence, his brevity, being
dissembled, and altogether foreign to his own natural diction,
which was most copious, has a hardness and obscurity, of which the
brevity of Tacitus is totally void. He seems to have furthermore
observed how the language of Tacitus has a poetical complexion, is
figurative, nor altogether free from oratorical tinsel with
mixture of foreign, especially Greek construction, and the most
peculiar, new and unusual turns of expression, alliterations and
similar endings of words. Yet notwithstanding all this care and
diligence he was utterly incapable of approaching in language and
style so close to the great original he pretended to be as to be
confounded with him; he was, indeed, not a bit more successful in
approaching his prototype, than that emulous imitator of Tacitus,
Ammianus Marcellinus.

Much might be taken from the Excursus of Roth and the Prolegomena
of Döderlein and Bötticher greatly to strengthen this part of my
argument; but, their treatises being well known, I abstain, merely
observing that, from their remarks, it will be seen that only in
the Annals are verbs constructed in a very uncommon and frequently
archaic manner, as the ancient perfect, _conpesivere_ (IV. 32), of
which there is no example in Tacitus, as there is in Catullus:

    O Latonia, maximi
    Magna progenies Jovis,
    Quam mater prope Deliam
   _Deposivit_ olivam. XXXIV. 5-8.

It will be also seen in the above-mentioned most able production
of Döderlein that the infinitive and the particles _ut, ne_
and _quod_ are joined with many verbs; that there is an
interchange of _ad_ and _ut_ (An. II. 62); a joining of
the present and the perfect, and a joining of the infinitive with
those two tenses. In the midst of this damaging criticism
Döderlein quotes Walther, who has also commented upon the Annals,
but in terms of enthusiastic commendation, for he praises such
writing as first-rate workmanship--"adjustments by design," says
the ingenious German; not, of course, the unconscious errors, that
a modern European might make in a case of forgery: the discovery
reminds me of Mr. Ruskin's unqualified eulogies of everything done
by the brush of Turner, which caused the great artist to observe:
--"This gentleman has found out to be beauties what I have always
considered to be blemishes."

Professor Hill, also, in his "Essay upon the Principles of Historical
Composition" has noticed in the Annals some modes of construction
not to be met with in any Roman writer, such as a wrong case after
a verb,--a genitive after _apiscor_ which governs an accusative:
"dum _dominationis_ apisceretur" (VI. 45); and an accusative after
_praesideo_ which governs a dative: "_proximum_ que Galliae _litus_
rostratae naves praesidebant" (IV. 5).

IV. Here let me pause for a moment to glance at a prodigious thing
that has been done to Tacitus: it really has no parallel in
literature: a number of foreigners have impugned his knowledge of
his native tongue. The learned German, Rheinach (Beatus Rhenanus),
began, for he could not admit in his Basle edition in 1533 of the
works of Tacitus that the language of that Roman was equal to the
language of Livy, being florid, affected, stiff and unnatural; his
observation being, that "though Tacitus was without elegance and
purity in his language, from Latin in his time being deteriorated
by foreign turns and figures of speech; yet there was one thing he
retained in its entirety, and that was blood and marrow in his
matter": "Quamvis Tacitus caruerit nitore et puritate linguae,
abeunte jam Romano sermone in peregrinas formas atque figuras;
succum tamen et sanguinem rerum incorruptum retinuit." Eight years
after the famous Tuscan lawyer and scholar, Ferretti, followed by
accusing Tacitus in the preface to the edition of his works
published at Lyons in 1541, of writing with inelegance and
impurity: "consequently," he says, "in the estimation of eminent
literary men Tacitus is not to be ranked after, but rather before
Livy; and yet his style, which was florid, though smacking of the
thought and care that pleased in the days of Vespasian and his
son, and which, from that time,--on account of the Latin language
gradually declining in purity,--steadily degenerated into a kind
of affected composition, ought not to be placed on a par with nor
preferred to Livy's, whose language flows naturally and agreeably,
for his was the age of the greatest purity": "Unde factum, ut
praestantium in literis virorum judicio Livio non sit postponendus
Tacitus, quin potius anteferendus: non quod hujus floridum, ac
meditationem et curam olens dicendi genus, quale sub Vespasianis
placuit, ac indies exin degeneravit in affectatam quandam
compositionem, exolescente paulatim sermonis latini puritate,
Livianae dictioni, illi naturaliter amabiliterque fluenti (nam id
seculum purissimum fuit), aequari debeat, aut praeferri." Next
came the Milanese schoolman, Alciati, who preferred the certainly
sometimes elegant and polished phrases of Paulus Jovius (in his
letter to Jovius himself prefixed to the edition of 1558 of the
renowned Bishop of Nocera de' Pagani's principal production, the
45 books of Historia Sui Temporis):--"they will not ask of you the
reason why you have not reached the soft exuberance of Livy, after
you have thoroughly regretted imitating the calm solemnity of
Sallust, and been satisfied with only the few flowers you have
plucked with a discriminative hand out of the gardens of Quintus
Curtius more frequently than the thorny thickets of Cornelius
Tacitus": "Non reposcent a te rationem, cur lacteam Livii
ubertatem non sis assecutus; postquam et te omnino piguerit
Sallustii sobrietatem imitari, et satis tibi fuerit pauculos
tantum flores ex Quinti Curtii pratis, soepius quam ex Cornelii
Taciti senticetis arguta manu decerpsisse." Then succeeded, as
fast as flakes falling in a snow-storm, a long string of acute
critics, each with his just objections, and each more pointed than
his predecessors in his animadversions, down to the present day,
when, I suppose it may be said that the eminent Dr. Nipperdey
stands foremost amongst the exposers of the bad Latinity of
Tacitus. The Tacitus, thus universally proclaimed, and for nearly
a dozen generations, not to be a competent master of his own
tongue, is not the Tacitus of the History, it is the "Tacitus" of
the Annals; and when hereafter I point out who this "Tacitus" of
the Annals was,--an Italian "Grammaticus," or "Latin writer" of
the fifteenth century,--the reader will not be at all surprised
that he every now and then slips and trips in Latin;--on the
contrary, the reader would be amazed if it were not so; because he
would regard it as a thing more than phenomenal,--as a matter
partaking of the miraculous;--he must consider himself as coming
in contact with a being altogether superhuman;--if the "Tacitus"
of the fifteenth century, who, as a Florentine, may have been a
complete master of the choicest Tuscan, had written with the
correctness of the Tacitus of the first century, who, as befitted
a "civis Romanus" of consular rank, was perfectly skilled in his
native tongue;--aye, quite as much so as Livy, Sallust, or any
other accomplished man of letters of ancient Rome.



I. Errors in Latin, (_a_) on the part of the transcriber;
(_b_) on the part of the writer.--II. Diction and
Alliterations: Wherein they differ from those of Tacitus.

I.--An anecdote is told of our present sovereign that, on one
occasion, conversing with the celebrated scene painter and naval
artist, Clarkson Stanfield, her Majesty, hearing that he had been
an "able-bodied seaman," was desirous of knowing how he could have
left the Navy at an age sufficiently early to achieve greatness by
pursuing his difficult art. The reply of Stanfield was that he had
received his discharge when quite young in consequence of a fall
from the fore-top which had lamed him,--and for the remainder of
his life,--whereupon the Queen is stated to have exclaimed: "What
a lucky tumble!" In a similar strain the author of the Annals,
after he had handed over his work, according to the custom of his
time, for transcription, must have been induced to exclaim, when
he marked how the monk who had put his thoughts on vellum, had
made him write nonsense in almost every other sentence: "What a
lucky transcriber!" The knowledge that he would have a transcriber,
who was no adept in Latin, must have been one of the greatest
factors in his calculations as a forger. Otherwise how could
he entertain the shadow of a hope that his book could pass current,
when, in order that it should take its place in the first rank
of Roman classics, it was imperative that he should write Latin
to perfection. That was impossible; and his fabrication must
have been detected immediately upon its publication, even though
his age was destitute of philological criticism, unless everybody
had known that the scribes in convents who copied the classics
were famous for committing endless blunders in their transcriptions.
Thus, his good fortune stood steadfastly by him all through his
extraordinary forgery; at its initiation as well as during the
subsequent stages of it.

There was in his time a regular profession of transcribers, who
may be looked upon as the precursors of printers. Numbered among
them were some who had great fame for transcribing;--learned men,
who knew Latin almost, if not quite, as well as they knew their
mother-tongue, Cosimo of Cremona, Leonardo Giustiniani of Venice,
Guarino of Verona, Biondo Flavio, Gasparino Barzizza, Sarzana,
Niccoli, Vitturi, Lazarino Resta, Faccino Ventraria, and some
others;--in fact, a host; for nearly all the literary men, in
consideration of the enormous sums they obtained for copies of the
ancient classics carefully and correctly written, devoted
themselves to the occupation of transcription, as, in these times,
men of the highest attainments in letters, some, too, of the
greatest, even European, celebrity, give their services, for the
handsome remunerations they receive, to the newspaper and
periodical press. But, in the fifteenth century, the vast majority
of writers of manuscripts,--those who were in general employment
from not commanding the high prices obtained by the "crack"
transcribers, and might be compared to "penny-a-liners" among us,
suppliers of scraps of news to the papers,--were still to be found
only in convents, knowing more about ploughs than books, and for
literary acquirements standing on a par with professors of
handwriting and dancing masters of the present day. These monkish
transcribers wrote down words as daws or parrots articulate them;
for just as these birds do not know the meaning of what they
utter, so these scribes in monasteries did not understand the
signification of the phrases which they copied. We can easily
understand how to these manipulators of the pen an infinite number
of passages in the Annals, which are still "posers" to the most
expert classical professors in the leading Universities of Europe,
must have been as dark as the Delphic Oracle,--or the Punic
speech of the Carthaginian in Plautus's Comedy of Poenulus to
everybody (except, of course, the great Oriental linguist, Petit,
who knew all about it, for in the second book of his
"Miscellaneorum Libri Novem" he explains the whole speech, without
the slightest fear of anybody correcting the mistakes into which
he fell).

The jumble occasioned by the interminable blunders of the monastic
writers (for there were two of them, as will he hereafter seen)
causes both the codices of the Annals to be phenomena for
confusion. Unique as literary gems, and preserved in the
Laurentian Medicean Library in Florence, they are the greatest
attraction to literary sightseers visiting the lucky library in
which they are carefully deposited; and, I believe, have a fancy
value set upon them as a fancy value is set upon the Koh-i-noor.

Any member of the medical faculty, even the latest licentiate of
the Apothecaries Hall, who knows the fatal effect of wear and tear
upon the system caused by ceaseless worry, can explain why
Philippo Beroaldi the Younger departed this life five years after
undergoing the labour of preparing for the press at the order of
Leo X. the MS. found in the Westphalian Convent, containing the
first six books of the Annals. When we consider the chaos in which
that dismal MS. presented itself to the eyes of the unfortunate
Professor in the University of Rome, we can readily conceive how
he must have consulted, as he told us he did, "the learned, the
judicious and the subtle" about the correction of errors of the
knottiest nature which came upon him so fast that, to express
their abundance, he instinctively borrows his figure of speech,
from water gushing from a fountain or coming down in a cataract:--
"the old manuscript," says he, "from which I have undertaken to
transcribe and publish this volume, _gushes forth_ with a multiplicity
of blunders:"--"vetus codex, unde hunc ipsum describendum atque
invulgandum curavi, pluribus mendis _scatet_." One example, out
of a legion, will suffice:--In the passage in the eleventh book
where Narcissus is represented begging pardon of Claudius for not
having told him of Messalina's intrigue, the MSS. at Florence and
Rome run thus (according to the report of James Gronovius):
"Is veniam in praeteritum petens quod ci CIS V&CTICIS PLAUCIO
DIMU-lavisset." Half a century before, Vindelinus of Spire,--
who distributed books to all the inhabitants of the world as
Triptolemus of old distributed corn,--broke the back-bone of
this gibberish, when first publishing the concluding books (from
that Vatican MS. which is no longer to be found), by editing
"quod _eicis Vecticis Plautio dissimu_ lavisset." Beroaldi altered
this to "quod _ei cis Vectium Plaucium dissimu_ lavisset." This
was retained in all editions, as the best that could be thought of,
till Justus Lipsius, who collated the MSS. of Tacitus in the
Vatican Library, as he collated the MSS. of other ancient authors
in that and the Farnese and Sfortian Libraries, during his two
years stay in Rome, changed it to "quod _ei cis Vectium cis
Plautium dissimu_ lavisset." So for a century that remained as
the latest improvement till again amended by John Frederic
Gronovius, who, seeing the Vatican and Florentine MSS. while
searching the treasures of literature in Italy during his tour in
that country, edited _cis Vectios cis Plautios_. Most editors
adopt, according to fancy, the rendering of Lipsius or Gronovius,
on account of Vectius Valens and Plautius Lateranus being two
distinguished Romans in the days of Claudius who intrigued with
Messalina. For my own part, I prefer the conjectural emendation of
the Bipontine editors who, giving up as hopeless the corrupted
passage, edit "quod _incestae uxoris flagitia dissimu_ lavisset,"
which, if not precisely what was written, carries with it the
recommendation of being intelligible, and doing away with
the unmeaning _cis_.

On account of the corruption of the text in the two oldest MSS.
that supply the Annals,--the First and Second Florence,--I am
aware what care must be taken, when touching upon the Latin in the
Annals, not to ascribe to the author faults that were the errors
of other people. One ought to be guarded when coming across
"reditus," which ought to be "rediturus" (II. 63), and "datum,"
which ought to be "daturum" (II. 73).

I must pause to observe that, here as elsewhere, in examining the
Latinity of the Annals, I cite from the original editions of the
last six books by Vindelinus of Spire published in 1470, and the
first six books by Beroaldus published in 1515, all editions now
in use having "rediturus" and "daturum," but without the authority
of a single MS.

These blunders we may fairly father on the monkish transcribers,
the more so as their handiworks abound with faults, arising from
one of these four causes,--inability of perceiving propriety of
expression; which people call "stupidity"; disinclination to the
requisite exertion; known as "laziness";--misunderstanding the
meaning of the author, or destitution of knowledge.

The errors that spring from ignorance are the most striking; they
show the purely negative state of the transcribers' minds; how
uninformed they were of facts, and how uninstructed in arts,
literature or science. Evidently the transcriber of the first Six
Books had never heard of the "Sacerdotes Titii," and seeing that
the author had mentioned Tatius in the first portion of the clause
in a passage in the First Book (54), he writes "Sodales _Ta_tios,"
instead of "Sodales _Ti_tios";--"ut quondam Titus _Tatius_ retinendis
Sabinorum sacris sodales _Tatios_ instituerat"; just as evidently,
from ignorance of the language, having no notion what the author
was saying in another passage in the Second Book (2), but seeing
that he had used the word "majorum" in the previous sentence, he
writes nonsensically "ipsorum _majoribus_" for "ipsorum _moribus_"
(II. 2); nor knowing what the "propatulum" was in a Roman house,
but misled by the author having almost immediately before (IV. 72)
spoken of "soldiers being fastened to the patibulum"--or, as we
should say, "hanged on the gallows,"--he writes (IV. 74), "in
_propatibulo_ servitium" instead of "in _propatulo_ servitium,"
the "propatulum" being an open uncovered court-yard, differing
from the "aedium," as being in the forepart of the dwelling.

How illiterate he and the transcriber of the last Six Books were
will be seen in examples and remarks by Kritz in his Prolegomena
to Velleius Paterculus; by Döderlein in his Preface to his edition
of Tacitus; by Ernesti in his Notes to the Annals; by Sauppe, the
able editor of the Oratores Attici, in his Epistolae Criticae,
addressed to his learned relation, Godfrey Hermann, and, above
all, by Herä, in his "Studia Critica," or elaborate treatise on
the Florentine Manuscripts of Tacitus. Both transcribers seem to
have had a taste for rhyming and to have thought that the beauty
of writing Latin consisted in obtaining jingles, to get which they
mix up two words into one, as "san_us_ repert_us_," for "san_e_ is
repertus" (VI. 14); or coining, as "_templores flores_," for
"_templorum fores_" (II. 82); or changing the termination of a word,
in order that it may resemble in sound, the word that follows, as
"don_aria_ mili_taria_" for "_dona militaria_" (I. 44); or the
word that precedes, as "potu_isset_ tradi_disset_" for "potuisset
tradi" (XII. 61).

The same bungling is shown with respect to adjectives, the number,
gender and case of which are changed, as "tris_tios_ primordio,"
for "tris_tiores_ primordio" (I. 7); "amore an odio incert_as_"
for "amore an odio incert_um_" (XIII. 9), and "conqueren_tium_
irritum laborem," for "conqueren_te_ irritum laborem" (XV. 17).
The number, mood and tense of verbs are also changed as "quotiens
concordes agunt sper_nun_tur: Parthus," for "quotiens concords
agunt, sper_ni_tur Parthus" (VI. 42); "nationes promptum habe_re_"
for "nationes promptum habar_et_," and "neque dubium habe_retur_"
for "neque dubium ha_betur_." (XII. 61).

They sometimes succeed, from their stupidity or laziness, in
completely puzzling the reader by omitting syllables, and transposing
and substituting consonants and vowels, thus producing the most
confounding gibberish, as "_pars nipulique_" for "Pharasmani
Polemonique" (XIV. 26); or adding a letter, as "m_orte_m" for
"m_ore_m" (III. 26), or omitting a syllable, as "eff_unt_" for
"eff_und_unt" (VI. 33). From the same fault they every now and
then double a letter, as "Ami_ss_iam" for "Ami_s_iam", or omit
one of the double letters, as "antefe_r_entur" for "antefe_rr_entur"
(1. 8); or, when two words occur, one ending, and the other beginning
with the same letter, they either omit the last letter of the
preceding word, as "event_u_ Suetonius" for "event_us_ Suetonius"
(XIV. 36), or the first letter of the following word as "quipped
_l_apsum" for "quippe _e_lapsum" (V. 10). But it is in single
syllables or words or letters that they most abound in errors,
frequently omitting them without the mark of a _lacuna_, or any
defect; now they omit single letters, when the second word begins
with the same letter as that with which the first ends; at times
in the first word, as "victori_a_ sacrari," for "victoria_s_ sacrari"
(III. 18); at times in the second word, as "ad _e_os" for "ad _d_eos"
(I. 11) now they add single letters as "vitae ejus" for "vit_a_ ejus"
(I. 9), or "a_u_diturus" for "aditurus" (XV. 36); or voluntarily
add a syllable, that the termination of one word may correspond
to the commencement of another, as "Stratonicidi_ve_ _ve_neri" for
"Stratonicidi Veneri" (III. 63), or repeat syllables or words
(what is called "dittography"), as "Cujus adversa pravitati _ipsius_,
prospera ad fortunam _ipsius_ referebat" (XIV. 38). Puteolanus
was the first to throw out the second _ipsius_, and substitute
for it "reipublicae," which most of the editors of Tacitus have
retained, though Brotier edits, I cannot help thinking properly,
on account of the antithesis in which the Author of the Annals
delighted:--"whose adversity he ascribed to his depravity, and
whose prosperity to his good fortune":--"cujus adversa, pravitati
ipsius; prospera, ad fortunam referebat" (XIV. 38); so that the
second _ipsius_ in the MS. is not wrong, only inelegant and unnecessary.

Having thus seen the nature of the errors committed by the transcribers,
we may now pass on to what we must consider as the errors of the
writer. There is very little doubt that he alone is responsible
for the following: using the poetic form "celebris" for the prose
form "celeber"--Romanis haud perinde _celebris_ (II. 88, in fin.),
which so startled Ernesti that he is almost sure the author must
have written "celebratus;" still he would not dare to alter it on
account of its being repeated on two other occasions--Pons Mulvius
in eo tempore _celebris_ (XIII. 47): Servilius, diu foro, mox
tradendis rebus Romanis _celebris_ (XIV. 19);--so merely contents
himself with the observation that "those who are desirous of writing
elegant Latin will not imitate it:" "studiosi elegantiae in scribendo
non imitabuntur." Those desirous of attaining an elegant style
would not write as in the Annals, "exauctorare," with the meaning
of "putting out of the ranks and into the reserve," as when we find
it stated that "a discharge should be given to those who had served
twenty years, and that those should be _put out of the ranks and
into the reserve_, who had gone through sixteen years' service,
there to be kept as auxiliary troops, free from the other duties
which it was customary to render to the State, except that of
repelling the invasion of an enemy":--"missionem dari vicena stipendia
meritis; _exauctorari_, qui senadena fecissent, ac retineri sub
vexillo, ceterorum immunes nisi propulsandi hostis" (An. I. 36);--
here we have a meaning of the word "exauctorare" very different
from its sense of "a final discharge," in which it is understood
by Tacitus towards the opening of his History, when he is
describing the distracted state of Rome, and continues: "during
such a crisis tribunes were _finally discharged_, Antonius
Taurus and Antonius Naso, from the body guard; Aemilius Pacensis
from the troops garrisoned at Rome, and Julius Fronto from the
watch": "_exauctorati_ per cos dies tribuni, e praetorio
Antonius Taurus et Antonius Naso; ex urbanis cohortibus Aemilius
Pacensis; e vigiliis Julius Fronto" (Hist. I. 20);--nor would a
person desirous of writing graceful Latin use "destinari" for
being "elected" to an office, as "_destinari_ consules" (An. I. 3)
where Tacitus uses "designari,"--"consule _designato_"
(Hist I. 6).

Grammatical mistakes of the most extraordinary character are
sometimes made. There is neglect of indispensable attraction; "non
medicinam _illud_" (I. 49) for "_illam_," and "non enim, preces
sunt _istud_" (II. 38) for "_istae_;"--proper Latinity requires
that, in "nihil reliqui faciunt quominus invidi_am_, misericordi_am_,
met_um_ et ir_as_ _per_mov_erent_ (I. 21), the four nouns should
be in either the ablative or genitive, and the verb in the present,
with (as Dr. Nipperdey says) _moveant_ in preference to _permoveant_.
"An" is used as an equivalent to "vel;"--"metu invidiae, _an_ (vel)
ratus" (II. 22,) and as if synonymous with "sive," "sive fatali
vecordia, _an_" (seu, or sive) "imminentium periculorum remedium"
(XI. 26.) In the sentence where Tiberius is described as, according
to rumour, being pained with grief at his own and the Roman people's
contemptible position for no other "reason" more than that Tacfarinas,
a robber and deserter, would treat with them like a regular enemy:--
we have the only instance in a classical composition reputed to be
written by an ancient Roman, of "alias" conveying the idea of _cause_,
instead of being an adverb of _time_:--"Nec _alias_ magis sua
populique Romani contumelia indoluisse Caesarem ferunt, quam quod
desertor et praedo hostium more agerat" (III. 73).

These errors we must believe to be the author's; considering their
gravity, we are compelled to ask ourselves the question: "Could
this writer have been an ancient Roman?" If we answer in the
affirmative, how can we explain coming repeatedly across this sort
of writing, "lacu IN ipso" (XII. 56), that is, a monosyllabic
preposition placed between a substantive and an adjective or
pronoun, a kind of composition found in the poets, but disapproved
by the prose-writers, who, if so placing a preposition, used a
dissyllable and put the adjective first. Independently of a
monosyllabic preposition thus standing frequently between a
substantive and an adjective or pronoun (judice _ab_ uno:
III. 10--urbe _ex_ ipsa: XII. 56--senatuque _in_ ipso and
urbe _in_ ipsa: XIV. 42 & 53.--portu _in_ ipso XV. 18); there
are other occasional abnormal collocations of the preposition,
such as, after two words combined by a copulative particle,
or two of them: diisque et patria _coram_ (IV. 8), Poppaea
et Tigellino _coram_ (XV. 61) and between two words connected
by apposition: montem _apud_ Erycum (IV. 43), uxore _ab_ Octavia
(IV. 43--XIII. 12). These usages are not found in the other
works ascribed to Tacitus, nor any of the ancient Latin
prose-writers; though common enough in the poets, the three
instances being found in Virgil;--the first in the Aeneid:--

   "Cum litora fervere late
    Prospiceres arce _ex_ summa:"
    Aen. IV. 409-10;

   "Vespere _ab_ atro
    Consurgunt venti:" Aen. V. 19-20


   "Graditur bellum _ad_ crudele Camilla:"
    Ib. XI. 535;

The second in the Georgics:

   "Si non tanta quies iret frigusque caloremque
    Georg. II. 344;

And shortly after,

   "Pagos et compita _circum_:"
    Ib. 382;

And the third in the Aeneid:

   "Duros mille labores
    Rege _sub_ Eurystheo, fatis Junonis iniquae,
    Aen. VIII. 291-3.

The Latinity, therefore, is good; but though good, it can scarcely
be said to be that of an ancient Roman; for an ancient Roman never
resorted to such inflexions in prose, only when writing poetry to
get over the difficulties of rhythm; hence a modern European would
easily fall into the error, from taking the Latin of Virgil to be
most perfect; and from deeming that what was done in verse could,
with equal propriety, be done in prose.

Though nothing could be more natural than for a modern European to
think that the right Latin for "good deeds," was "bona facta"
(III. 40), an ancient Roman would have written "_bene_ facta,"
just as he would have used for the expression "if bounds were
observed," "si modus _adhiberetur_," not "si modus _adjiceretur_"
(III. 6). He would have followed "inscitia" with a genitive,
as Tacitus, "inscitiam ceterorum" (Hist. I. 54), and not with
a preposition, as "finis inscitiae _erga_ domum suam" (XI. 25),
for "an end of ignorance of his family"; nor have used that noun
absolutely, as "quo fidem _inscitiae_ pararet" (XV. 58); "in order
that he should create a belief in his ignorance." Instead of
"hi _molium objectus_, hi proximas scaphas scandere" (XIV. 8),
for "some clambered up the heights that lay in front of them,
some into the skiffs that were nigh at hand," he would have used
the participle, "_moles objectas_"; and written "_loca_ opportuna"
instead of "_locorum_ opportuna permunivit" (IV. 24), for "he fortified
convenient places."

Ancient writers among the Romans, such as Cicero and Livy, used
the comparative in both clauses with quanto and tanto; the more
recent writers, such as Tacitus and Sallust, used the comparative
with them in, at least, one clause. We find in the Annals these
ablatives of quantus and tantus, as if their real force was not
known, used with the positive in both clauses. A European putting
into Latin: "the more closely he had at one time applied himself
to public business, the more wholly he gave himself up to secret
debaucheries and vicious idleness;" would think his language quite
correct when he wrote: "quanto _intentus_ olim publicas _ad_ curas"
(mark the place of the monosyllabic preposition), "tanto occultos
_in_ luxus" (again), "et malum otium _resolutus_" (IV. 67).

A Roman did not use the verb "pergere" in the sense of "continuing
or proceeding" in a _matter_, only of "continuing or proceeding"
where there is _bodily motion_. Yet the author of the Annals for
"things would come to a successful issue, that they were going on
with," has "prospere cessura, quae _pergerent_" (I. 28); an ancient
Roman would have written "per_a_gerent," as may be seen from Livy,
who expresses "I will go on with the achievements in peace and war":
"res pace belloque gestas _peragam_" (II. 1); Pliny, "let us now go
on with the remainder": "reliqua nunc _peragemus_" (N.H. VI. 32, 2);
and Cornelius Nepos, "but he went on, not otherwise than one would
have thought, in his purpose": "tamen propositum nihilo secius
_peregit_" (Att. 22). As many will believe, contrary to myself,
that this was a blunder of the copyist (notwithstanding that it
is not in the style of his blundering), I will not insist upon it;
though I must insist upon the following being an error on the part
of the writer for "giving praises and thanks":--"laudes et grates
_habentem_" (I. 69): A Roman could not have said that: had he used
"laudes et grates," his phrase would have been "laudes et grates
_agentem_";--had he used "habentem," his phrase would have been
"laudes et grat_iam_" (or grat_ias_) "habentem." "Diisque et
_patria_ coram)" (IV. 8), is much more in keeping with the ragged
language of St. Jerome in his Vulgate than the precision of Tacitus
in his History:--There are two mistakes: the first is the collocation
of the preposition which has been already noticed; the second is the
phrase "standing before the _eyes_ of a country," which is the real
meaning of "patria _coram_"; it is akin to "looking a matter in the
_face_," which is met with,--(and which I almost deem elegant,)--
in the cumbrous oratory of Lord Castlereagh, but which I should be
very much astonished to discover had originated from the lips of
another statesman, the very opposite in speech of the renowned
Foreign Secretary,--the ornate and correct rhetorician, so famed
for the concinnity of his phrases, the Earl of Beaconsfield.

II. From the diction point of view, the Annals could not have been
written by Tacitus, as the language at times is anybody's but his.
When "ubi" signifies "where" (at the place itself), and not
"whither" (to a distance from the place where a person stands),
"Answer me, Blaesus, _whither_ have you thrown the corpse?"
"Responde, Blaese, _ubi_" (quo?) "cadaver abjeceris?" (I. 22)
it is the language of Suetonius in that passage in the life of
Galba, where he speaks of Patrobius casting the Emperor's head
into that place, where by Galba's order Patrobius's patron had
been assassinated; "eo loco, _ubi_" (quo) "jussu Galbae
animadversum in patronum suum fuerat, abjecit" (Galb. 20). When
two words are coupled with que--que we have the language of the
poets, Virgil, Ovid, Terence, Silius Italicus, Manilius, and among
prose writers, Sallust (exempli gratia) "meque regnumque" (Jug. 10)
when "infecta" is used in the sense of "poisoned," "infected":
"the times were so infected and soiled with sycophancy"--"tempora
illa adeo _infecta_ et adulatione sordida fuere" (III. 65),
we have the language of Pliny the Elder, when speaking of honey
"not being infected with leaves," that is, not having the taste of
leaves--"minime fronde infectum" (N.H. XIII. 13); and when "que,"
as if it were "et," means "too," or "also,"--"till that was _also_
forbidden": "donec id_que_ vetitum" (IV. 74), and "his mines of
gold, _too_": "aurarias_que_ ejus"(VI. 19), we have the language
of Pliny the Younger, "me, _too_, from boyhood," "me_que_ a pueritia"
(Ep. IV. 19). Just as Cicero uses "domestic" for "personal;"--"exempla
domestica, "_my own_ speeches" the author of the Annals uses "at home"
for "personal," and "personally";--"_domi_ artes" (III. 69),
"_personal_ qualities;"--"_domi_ partam" (XIII. 42), "_personally_
acquired." When he desires to put into Latin: "How honourable
their liberty regained by victory, and how much more intolerable
their slavery if again subdued," he writes: "quam decora victoribus
libertas, quanto _intolerantior_ servitus iterum victis" (III. 45),
misapplying "intolerantior" for "intolerabilior" with Florus (IV. 12),
who is clever in committing errors in grammar and geography. There
is ringing the changes with Livy, when we read in the Annals (II. 24)
"_quanto_ violentior, _tantum_" (for tanto) "illa," and in the great
Roman historian, "_quantum_" (for quanto) "laxaverat, _tanto_ magis"
(Livy XXXII. 5). It is using, too, in the sense of Livy (XLI. 8, 5)
the verb "differere," instead of the customary expression, "rejicere."
The language is peculiar to himself when he uses "differre" for
"spargere" in the phrase "and to be spread abroad among foreigners":
"differique etiam per externos" (III. 12), as the style is peculiar
to himself in omitting the past time (fuisse) when no doubt is left
by the preceding context or the immediate sequel in the same sentence,
that the past time is referred to in the passage where Silius
boasts that "his soldiers continued to be loyal, while others fell
into sedition; and that his empire would not have remained to
Tiberius, if there had been a desire for revolution also in those
legions of his": "suum militem in obsequio duravisse, cum alii ad
seditiones prolaberentur: neque mansurum Tiberio imperium, si iis
quoque legionibus cupido novandi fuisset" (IV. 18), where after
"mansurum," according to Dr. Nipperdey, there should be "fuisse."

Further proof is afforded by the use of the word "imperator," that
the diction in the Annals is not that of Tacitus. Having lived in
the time of the Caesars, he never could have heard a countryman in
speech or writing use "Imperator" other than as signifying one
individual, not the commander in chief of the army, but the
occupant of the supreme civil authority, "Imperator" being the
noun proper of "imperium." In this restricted sense Tacitus always
uses the word, because it was understood with that signification
by every Roman of his time. For example, in his Agricola (39), he
means by "imperatoria laus" "the renown in arms of the Emperor,"
who was then Domitian. The author of the Annals, who was not aware
of this nice distinction, uses Imperator, not as it was used in
the time of Tacitus, but as it was used in the days of the
Republic. He, too, like Tacitus, uses the noun in its adjectival
form, but he does not apply it, as Tacitus does, to that which
belongs to the Emperor, but to that which belongs to a general;
for he means by "imperatoria laus" (II. 52), "the fame of a
general," even of Germanicus. He seems to have thought that it
could be given to any member of the imperial house, for he applies
it without distinction to Germanicus, who was the son of an
Emperor, as to the Emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero, when
speaking of the daughter of Germanicus, Agrippina, who was the
mother of Nero, wife of Claudius and sister of Caligula: "quam
_imperatore genitam_, sororem ejus, qui rerum potitus sit, et
conjugem et matrem fuisse" (XII. 42); he applies it even to the
wife of an Emperor's son, for he styles Agrippina, the wife of
Germanicus, "imperatoria uxor" (I. 41); he gives the title to the
barbarian generals among the Germans (II. 45), which no Roman in
the time of the Empire, or, perhaps, even of the Republic, could
have possibly done; and, further, to military chiefs, who
corresponded then to our present generals of division, for, when
speaking of Caractacus as "superior in rank to other _generals_
of the Britons," he expresses himself: "ceteros Britannorum
_imperatores_ praemineret" (XII. 33).

That a modern European wrote the Annals is also very clear from
the undistinguishing use in that work of the cognate word,
"princeps," which, like "imperator," had two different meanings at
two different periods of Roman history, meaning, in the time of
the Republic, merely "a leading man of the City," and, in the time
of the Empire, the Emperor only. This every Roman, of course,
discriminated; hence Tacitus everywhere uses the word in its
strictly confined sense of "Emperor" (Hist. I. 4, 5, 56, 79 _et al._).
For "the leading men of the Country," his phrase is not, as a
Roman would have expressed himself in the Republican period,
"principes viri urbis," but "primores civitatis." The author of
the Annals, who was in the dark as to this, uses "principes" in
the Republican sense of "leading men," as occurs in the
observation: "the same thing became not the _principal
citizens_ and imperial people" (meaning, the aristocracy and
freemen), "as became humble" homes (meaning, the dregs of the
populace), or, "States" (meaning, the occupants of thrones): "non
cadem decora _principibus viris_ et imperatori populo, quae
modicis domibus aut civitatibus" (III. 6). He also misapplies the
word to the sons of Emperors, as if he were under the impression
that they were styled "princes" by the ancient Romans as by modern
Europeans, for thus he speaks of the sons of Tiberius, Drusus and
Germanicus: "except that Marcus Silanus out of affront to the
Consulate sought that office for the _princes_": "nisi quod
Marcus Silanus ex contumelia consulatus honorem _principibus_
petivit" (III. 57).

The author of the Annals is quite as remarkable as Tacitus for
antithesis: sometimes two antitheses occur together in Tacitus in
the same clause. He is as remarkable for an equal balancing of
phrases. But only in the Annals is the style of Tacitus mingled
with the manner of some other Roman writer, as the easy and
flowing redundance of Livy (I. 32, 33); the peculiar
alliterations, triplets, ring of the sentences and flow of
narrative of Sallust (XIV. 60-4), the antiquated expressions, new
words, Greek idioms, and concise and nervous diction throughout of
that historian; along with words and phrases, borrowed from the
poets, especially Tibullus, Propertius, Catullus, above all,

There is neither in Tacitus, nor the author of the Annals, the
strength and sublimity of expression found in that great master of
rhetoric, Cicero. The eloquence of Tacitus is grave and majestic,
his language copious and florid. The language of the author of the
Annals is cramped; and he maintains a dignified composure, rather
than majesty; occasionally he has an inward laugh in a mood of
irony, as when commending Claudius for "clemency," in allowing a
man,--whom he has sentenced to execution, to choose his own mode
of death. His close, dry way, too, of saying things savours of
harshness, and differs widely from the Greek severeness of manner
observable in Tacitus. The crucial test is to be found in a few
trifling matters of style. So far from displaying the same care as
Tacitus to avoid a discordant jingle of three like endings, he
will write bad Latin to get at the intolerable recurrence. Rather
than have a similar ending to three words Tacitus will depart from
his rule of composition which is to balance phrases,--"dissipation,
industry"; "insolence, courtesy";--"bad, good";--but to avoid
a jingle he writes "luxuria, industria"; _comitate, arrogantia"_;
"malis bonisque artibus mixtus" (Hist. I. 10), his usual style
of composition requiring "luxuri_a_, industri_a_; arroganti_a_,
comitate." He prefers incorrect Latin to such sounds. He writes,
"coque Poppaeam Sabinam--deposuerat" (Hist. I. 13), instead of
what the best Latinity required, "coque j_am_ Poppae_am_
Sabin_am_." The author of the Annals, not having his exquisite
ear, nor abhorrence of inharmonious concurrence of sounds,
actually goes out of his way, by disregarding grammar, carefully
to do Tacitus, also by disregard of grammar, as carefully avoided,
to procure three like endings, as "uter_que_ opibus_que_ at_que_
honoribus pervignere" (An. III. 27), when Tacitus would have
unquestionably written, "uterque opibusque _et,_" and, moreover,
have written correctly, because the Romans never followed "que"
with "atque," always with "et."

The author of the Annals falls into the opposite fault of having
three like beginnings as "_a_dhuc Augustum _a_pud" (I. 5), which
is in the style of Livy or Cicero, but not Tacitus. At the same
time no writer is so fond of alliteration as Tacitus; yet he
resorts to it with so much judgment, that it never grates on the
ear, and with so much art that it all but passes notice. It is
perceptible in the Germany and the Agricola as well as the
History; though in the latter work it is carried to greater
perfection, and is more systematically used, being found in almost
every paragraph. The rule with Tacitus is this:--When he resorts
to alliteration in the middle of a sentence where there is no
pause, he uses words that differ in length, as "_justis
judiciis_ approbatum" (Hist. I. 3), "_tot terrarum_ orbe"
(I. 4), "_pars populi_ integra" (6); and so throughout the
History, till at the close, we find the same thing uniformly going
on:--"_miscebantur minis_ promissa" (V. 24); "_poena
poenitentiam_ fateantur" (V. 25); "_Vespasianum vetus_
mihi observantiam" (V. 26). But--and particular attention is
called to this--when the alliteration is found at the end of a
sentence, or (where there is a pause) in the middle of a sentence,
he prefers words of the same length, but different quantities, as,
at the beginning of the History;--_senectuti seposui_ (I. l);
"_plerumque permixta_; "_sterile saeculum_" (ibid); and so
throughout the work to the end, where we still find the same
regularity of identical alliteration: "_clamore cognitum_"
(V. 18); "_coeptâ coede_" (V. 22); "_oequoris electum_"
(V. 23); "_merito mutare_" (V. 24). This peculiarity of
composition, so distinctive of Tacitus, unfortunately for his
forgery, ENTIRELY escaped the attention of the author of the
Annals; he seems to have thought that any kind of alliteration, so
long as it was constantly carried on, would sufficiently mark the
style of Tacitus. Accordingly he has all kinds of alliterations,
except the right ones, for they are quite different from, and,
indeed, the very reverse of those of Tacitus; sometimes they are
twofold (I. 6); sometimes threefold (I. 5); sometimes even four
together--"posita, puerili praetexta principes" (I. 8);--from
which last Tacitus would have shrunk with horror at the sight, as
Mozart is stated to have rebounded and swooned at the discordant
blare of a trumpet. As to using in the middle of sentences words
that differ in length as a rule they do not, from the first of the
kind, "_ortum octo_" (I. 3), to the last of the kind, "_voce vultu_"
(XVI. 29); at the end of sentences, he uses words that, instead of
not differing, do differ in from the first of the kind, "_Augustum
adsumebatur_" (I. 8), to the last of the kind "_sortem subiret_"
(XVI. 32) and "_sestertium singulis_" (XVI. 33).

After this overwhelming proof of forgery, I need not press another
syllable upon the reader. If not convinced by this, he will be
convinced by nothing; for here is just that little blunder which a
forger is sure to make: so far from being insignificant it is all-
important; it swells out into proportions of colossal magnitude,
at once disclosing the whole imposture, it being absolutely
impossible that Tacitus should have so systematically adhered to a
particular kind of alliteration in that part of his history which
deals with Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, and have so
suddenly and utterly neglected or ignored it in that part of the
history which deals with Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.




    Si per se virtus sine fortuna ponderanda sit, dubito an hunc
    primum omnium ponam.
     CORNELIUS NEPOS. _Thrasybulus._



I. His genius and the greatness of his age.--II. His qualifications.
--III. His early career.--IV. The character of Niccolo Niccoli, who
abetted him in the forgery.--V. Bracciolini's descriptive writing
of the Burning of Jerome of Prague compared with the descriptive
writing of the Sham Sea Fight in the Twelfth Book of the Annals.

Though I have dwelt on the harshness of style and manner, and the
occasional inaccuracies in grammar and language of the author of
the Annals, it must not be supposed that I fail to appreciate his
merit. In some of the qualities that denote a great writer he is
superior to Tacitus; nor can anyone, not reading him in his
original form, conceive an adequate notion of how his powers
culminate into true genius,--what a master he is of eloquence, and
how happy in expressing his very beautiful sentiments, which,
sometimes having the nature of a proverb or an epigram, please by
the placing of a word. His general ideas are scarcely retained in
a translation: such a reproduction deprives them of the train of
images and impressions which cluster round them in his language of
poetry and suggestion, giving them spirit and interest, and
imparting to them strength and ornament:--As winter is thrown over
a landscape by the hand of nature, so coldness is thrown over his
page by the hand of a translator: the student who can familiarize
himself with his thoughts as expressed in the tongue in which he
wrote, and reads a translation, is in the position of a man who
can walk in summer along the bank of a majestic river flowing
beautifully calm and stately by meadows pranked with flowers and
woods waving in varied hues of green, yet prefers visiting the
scene in winter when life and freshness are fled, the river being
frozen, the flowers and greenness gone from the fields, and the
leaves fallen from the trees.

The question arises,--Who was this wonderful man? If unknown, can
he not be discovered?

John Leycester Adolphus, famous for his History of George the Third,
discovered the author of the Waverley Novels in Sir Walter Scott,
when the Wizard of the North was styled "The Great Unknown," by
pointing out coincidences in the pieces and poems, known to be
the productions of Scott, in such matters as the correct morals,
the refined manners, the Scotch words and idioms, the descriptive
power, the picturesque and dramatic fancy, the neat, colloquial
turns in dialogue, the quaint similes, the sprinkle of metaphors,
the love of dogs, the eloquent touches with regard to the pure
and tender relations of father and daughter; and clinched the
investigation by showing the freedom and correctness in the use
of law-terms and phrases, which indicated clearly that the author
was a lawyer. It being easy when a way has been shown to follow
in the track, I turned to the period in question, which, I knew,
must be the first half of the fifteenth century, to look for a writer,
whose qualities, literary and moral,--or rather immoral,--could win
for him the triumphal car of being the Author of the Annals--if
triumph can, in any way, be associated with such ingloriousness
as forgery,--and, after a little looking about, I found him in
one whose compositions display, not to a remote, but in a close
degree the energy, the animation, the feeling, the genius, the
true taste, the deep meaning, and glimpses, ever and anon, of that
signal power, which, rising into truly awful magnificence, of
looking deeply into the darkest recesses of the human heart,
runs through the Annals like the shining waters of a river in
whose rich sands roll grains of gold.

The age of that writer was instinct with mental power: men were
giants of intellect: Italy had soared to the highest pinnacle in
the domain of mind, unequalled by preceding ages, except those of
Pericles and Augustus: beginning in the fourteenth Century with
Dante and Petrarch, and ending at the beginning of the sixteenth
with the father of the modern political system, Machiavelli, it
rose to the highest point of its altitude, and remained there
through the whole of the fifteenth, when such bright lights shone
constantly in the meridian of mind, as that Prince of the Church,
Cardinal Sadoleti, great as a poet, equally great as a philosopher,
whose poems on Curtius and the Curtian Lake and the Statue of Laocoon
would have done honour to Virgil, while in his "De Laudibus Philosophiae"
Cicero lives again in style and manner of thinking.

During that long interval of splendour, achievements of the
intellect are upon record that fully establish the existence of
the most remarkable genius. Poliziano in a letter (Ep. XII. 2) to
Prince Pico of Mirandola tells of one of these marvellous feats
that was done by a youthful prodigy, only eleven years old, of the
great family of Orsini (Fabius Ursinus). First young, Fabio Orsini
sang; then recited verses of his own: requested to turn the verse
into prose, he repeated the same thoughts unfettered by measure in
an unassuming manner, and with an appropriate and choice flow of
expression. After that subjects were proposed to him for
epistolary correspondence, on which he was to dictate ex tempore
to five amanuenses at once, the subjects given being "of a nature
so novel, various, and withal so ludicrous that he could not have
been prepared for them": after a moment's pause he dictated a few
words to the first amanuensis on one subject; gave his
instructions on a different theme to the second; proceeded in like
manner with the rest, then returning to the first, "filled up
every chasm and connected the suspended thread of his argument so
that nothing appeared discordant or disjointed," and, at the same
instant, finished the five letters. "If he lives," concluded
Poliziano, "to complete the measure of his days," and "perseveres
in the path of fame, as he has begun, he will, I venture to
predict, prove a person, whom, for admirable qualities and
attainments, mankind must unite to venerate as something more than

In that age some men had such an enthusiastic predilection to
antiquity that they were animated by an ardent zeal for collecting
ancient manuscripts, medals, inscriptions, statues, monumental
fragments, and other ancient and classical remains. Others, again,
were suspected of the intention to impose their own productions on
the public as works of antiquity; one man, who never ceased to
regret that it had not been his lot to live in the days of Roman
splendour, Peter of Calabria, styled himself in his Commentaries
on Virgil, Julius Pomponius Sabinus, and in his notes to
Columella, Julius Pomponius Fortunatus, his object in both
instances being that he should be mistaken for some Roman who had
flourished in the purest ages of Latinity; and Foy-Vaillant, the
celebrated numismatist of the seventeenth century, actually places
him, in one of his numismatical works, in the list of ancient
authors, while Justus Lipsius and Pithaeus both took him to have
been a "Grammaticus", or "writer in Latin," of the earlier middle
ages, all the time that he was an Italian academician, who
flourished in the fifteenth century, having been born in 1425 at a
place that has been called "The Garden of Almond Trees,"--
Amendolara, in Upper Calabria.

It would be idle to suppose that the author of the Annals was
actuated by the simple purpose of Peter of Calabria; there is
ground for believing that some deeper, and less pure, motive
instigated him to commit forgery. Though no Peter of Calabria, he
was a matured Fabio Orsini; and the only drawback from his
fabricated work is that it is not to be looked upon as Roman
history, always in the most reliable shape, but rather as a form
of the imagination which he selected for expressing his views on
humanity;--to paint crime; to castigate tyranny; to vindicate
honesty; to portray the abomination of corruption, the turpitude
of debauchery and the baseness of servility;--to represent
fortitude in its strength and grandeur, innocence in its grace and
beauty, while standing forth the sturdy admirer of heroism and
freedom; the tender friend of virtue in misfortune; the austere
enemy of successful criminality, and the inflexible dispenser of
good and evil repute.

That a man of such great parts and extensive learning, with such
fine thoughts, beautiful sentiments and wise reflections;--such a
cool, abstracted philosopher, yet such an over-refined
politician;--such a gloomy moralist, yet such an acute, fastidious
observer of men and manners, was a cloistered monk or any obscure
individual whatever was an idea to be immediately dispelled from
the mind, for that the Annals was composed by such a man would
have been about as incomprehensible an occurrence, as it would be
impossible to conceive that an acrobat who exercises gymnastic
tricks upon the backs of galloping horses in an American circus
could discharge the functions of a First Lord of the Treasury or a
Justice in the High Court of Judicature, or that a pantaloon in a
Christmas pantomime could think out the Principia of Sir Isaac
Newton or the Novum Organum of Lord Bacon. The fact was, the
author was a conspicuous, shining light of his generation; the
associate of princes and ministers; who, from the commanding
position of his exalted eminence, cast his eyes over wide views of
mankind that stretched into sweeping vistas of artifice and
dissimulation; and who, for close upon half a century,
participated prominently in the active business,--the subdolous
and knavish politics,--of his time.

II. Everybody knows the fable of the old man, the boy and the ass;
but not one in a thousand knows that it was written nearly four
hundred years ago by a man who for forty years was a member of the
Secretariate to nine Popes, from Innocent VII. to Calixtus III.
First in the Bugiale of the Vatican, where the officers of the
Roman Chancery, when discussing the news of the day, were making
merry with sarcasms, jests, tales and anecdotes, one of the party
having observed that those who craved popularity were chained to a
miserable slavery, it being impossible from the variety of
opinions that prevailed to please everybody, some approving one
course of conduct, and others another, the fable in question was
narrated in confirmation of that statement.

Poggio Bracciolini was not only the author of that fable, I am now
about to bring forward reasons for believing, and with the view of
inducing the reader to agree with me, that he,--and nobody else
but he,--was the writer of the Annals of Tacitus.

He was in every way qualified to undertake, and succeed in, that
egregious task. He was one of the most profound scholars of his
age, more learned than Traversari, the Camaldolese, and if less
learned than Andrea Biglia, superior to the Augustinian Hermit in
a more natural, easy and cultivated style of composition and in a
wider knowledge of the world: acquainted somewhat with Greek and
slightly with Hebrew, he possessed a masterly and critical
knowledge of Latin which he had carefully studied in his native
city, Florence, with the most accomplished Latinist of the day,
Petrarch's valued friend, the illustrious Giovanni Malpaghino of

Bracciolini was not of a character to have revolted at the
baseness of fabrication;--an inordinate love of riches, more
devouring in his breast than his next strongest passion, love of
knowledge, was sufficient to egg him on to it. Throughout life,
his moral conduct was unfavourably influenced by the scantiness of
his means. It was to beguile the anxiety occasioned by his narrow
circumstances that he devoted himself to intense study, from
knowing that superior attainments combined with splendid talents
would secure for him great offices of trust and profit: he saw how
those who were esteemed the most learned as well as the most able
gained the best lucrative posts under the governments of the Popes
and Princes of his day: he, therefore, employed himself in the
pursuit of knowledge for the sake of attaining high rank and great
wealth; knowledge was, accordingly, only so far pursued by him as
it would be productive of money, and get him through the world in
honour and affluence. Up to the age of twenty-six he had the run
of, what was then considered,--when good manuscripts were
uncommonly costly and very scarce,--a magnificent library of 800
volumes, that belonged to his veteran friend, Coluccio Salutati,
Chancellor of the Republic of Florence; amid those stores of
knowledge he courted the Muses ardently, all the while cultivating
diligently the acquaintance of the leaders of society, uniting the
character of the scholar with that of the man of the world, and
becoming as accomplished in politeness and as profound in mastery
of the human heart as in scholarship and learning;--qualities
conspicuous in his acknowledged writings, no less than in that
extraordinary masterpiece, the Annals of Tacitus.

Notwithstanding that the period in which he flourished was
remarkable for its number of men, who, by their genius and
learning revived the golden ages of ancient literature, he was
admitted by all to be without his equal, be it in erudition or
intellect, power of writing or intimacy with Latin. Guarino of
Verona, in spite of the severity with which he was treated by him
in his controversies, likens him, in one of his Epistles (Ep.
Egreg. Viro Poggio Flor. 26 Maji 1455), to "the purest models of
antiquity," and commends him for his "vigorous eloquence and
encyclopaedic stores of information": "pristini socculi floret, et
viget eloquentia, virtutisque thesaurus." Another of the best
spirits of that age, Benedotto Accolti of Arezzo, in his work on
the Eminent Men of his Time, puts him on a level with, if not
superior to any of the ancient historians, Livy and Sallust alone
excepted; for he says, "some of whom" (he is speaking, along with
Bracciolini, of Bruni, Marsuppini, Guarino, Rossi, Manetti, and
Traversari) "so wrote history, that, with the exception of Livy
and Sallust, there were none of the ancients to whom they might
not justly be considered as equal or superior"--"quorum aliqui ita
historias conscripserunt, ut Livio et Sallustio exceptis, nulli
veterum sint, quibus illi non pares aut superiores fuisse recte
existimentur" (Benedict. Accoltus Arez. in Dial. de Praest. Viris
sui aevi. Muratori. t. XX. p. 179). L'Enfant does not make this
exception, for, speaking of Bracciolini's History of Florence, he
says, that in "reading it one is reminded of Livy, Sallust and the
best historians of antiquity":--"A légard de son Histoire, on ne
sauroit le lire sans y reconnoître Tite Live, Salluste, et les
meilleurs historiens de l'antiquité" (Poggiana, Vol. II. p. 83).
Sismondi, too, in the opening pages of the 8th volume of his
"Histoire des Républiques Italiennes du Moyen Age," says in a
footnote (p. 5) that Bracciolini, in common with Leonardo Bruni
and Coluccio Salutati carried off the palm as a Latin writer from
all his predecessors in the fourteenth century:--"à la fin du
siècle on vit paroitre Leonardo Bruni, dit d'Arétin, Poggio
Bracciolini, et Coluccio Salutati, qui devoient l'emporter, comme
écrivains Latins, sur tous leurs prédecesseurs." Although Sismondi
is quite right as to the date when Bruni and Salutati flourished,
he is altogether wrong in supposing that Bracciolini made an
appearance before the public at any time in the fourteenth
century; quite at the end of it he was only in his twentieth year:
the next century had well advanced towards the close of its first
quarter before (with the exception of some Epistles) he began to
write, which was not until after he had passed his fortieth year.

Along with these superior merits of an intellectual writer thus
freely accorded to him by some of his more distinguished
contemporaries and by illustrious historians, Bracciolini
possessed the plastic power that makes the forger. He wrote in a
great variety of styles and manners; sometimes treating subjects
with condensation, and sometimes with diffusiveness. His language
is elevated and his sentences are rounded and smooth in his
Funeral Orations, in which there is no inflation, nothing
declamatory, a perfect absence of straining after effect, yet a
rising with ease into veins of sublime rhetoric, while he is
close, severe and antique:--hence the principal position that is
given to him as an orator by Porcellio in a poem where Marsuppini
is called upon to chaunt the praises of Ciriano of Ancona (see
Tiraboschi, VI. 286): in ascribing to Marsuppini the place of
honour, Porcellio leaves others who are inferior in verse-making
to follow; such as, he says, "_the_ Orator Poggio, the
sublime Vegio, and Flavio, the Historian":--

    Tuque, Aretine, prior, qui cantas laude poetam,
    Karole, sic jubeo, sit tibi primus honos.
    Post alii subeant: Orator Poggius ille,
    Vegius altiloquus, Flavius Historicus.

Then it would seem that, as Vegio and Biondo Flavio were, in the
opinion of Porcellio, unsurpassed, the first, for the sublimity of
his diction, and the second, by his historical writing, so
Bracciolini was lifted by his oratory above all his
contemporaries. Wit, polish, and keen sarcasm, with abundance of
acute observations on the human character, distinguish his Essay
on Hypocrisy, published at Cologne in 1535 by Orthuinus Gratius
Daventriensis in his "Fasciculus Rerum Expetendarum et
Fugiendarum." His Letters are written in an easy, agreeable style,
with constant sportiveness and endless felicity of expression. In
his Dialogues he is delicate, lively, and careful. Facility and
happiness of diction are conspicuous in his "Description of the
Ruins of the City of Rome," along with accuracy and
picturesqueness in representation of objects. But whatever he did,
all his writings (including the Annals), bear the stamp of one
mind: they indicate alike the predominance of three powers
exercised in an equal and uncommon degree, and without which no
one can stand, as he does, on the loftiest pedestal of literary
merit,--sensibility, imagination and judgment, working together
like one compact, indivisible faculty.

In addition to this versatility in composition, which enabled him
to imitate any writer, his career fitted him for the production of
the Annals by instilling into his mind the peculiar principles of
morals and behaviour which find apt illustration in that work. No
one could have written that book who had not been admitted within
the veil which hides the daily transactions of the great from the
profane eyes of the vulgar; and who had not come into frequent
personal contact with courts that were corrupt, and with princes,
ministers and leading men of society who were objects of
unqualified abhorrence.

III. Young Bracciolini who as the son of a notary of Florence in
embarrassed circumstances, inherited no advantages of rank or
fortune, when he had attained, at the age of 23, a competent
knowledge of the learned languages under the instruction of
Malpaghino, Chrysolaras [Endnote 136] and a Jewish Rabbi, made his
first entry into life by receiving admission, perhaps,--it being
the common custom in the fifteenth century,--by purchase, into the
Pontifical Chancery as a writer of the Apostolic Letters. At that
early age the scene that opened itself to his eyes was calculated
to destroy all faith in the goodness of human nature. He found in
the occupant of St. Peter's Chair, in Boniface IX., a man,
ambitious, avaricious, insincere in his dealings, and guilty of
the most flagrant simony, bestowing all Church preferments upon
the best bidder, without regard to merit or learning, and making
it his study to enrich his family and relations.

Bracciolini did not come into the closest communion with the Popes
till he became their Principal Secretary, which was when he was
between forty and fifty years of age, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini,
afterwards Pius II., stating in the 54th chapter of his History of
Europe that he "dictated" (or caused to be written) "the
Pontifical Letters during the time of three Popes";-"Poggium ...
qui Secretarius Apostolicas tribus quondam Romanis Pontificibus
dictarat Epistolas";--and though Aeneas Sylvius does not mention
the names of the Pontiffs, he must have meant Martin V. (1417),
Eugenius IV. (1431) and Nicholas V. (1447). Nevertheless, as one
of the writers of the Apostolic Letters, Bracciolini was in a
position to have seen a great deal that left a lasting impression
on his mind of the wickedness of a corrupt court, the Papal one at
this period being thus described by Leonardo Bruni, to Francis,
Lord of Cortona:--"full of ill-designing people, too apt to
suspect others of crimes, which they themselves would not scruple
to commit, and some, out of love for calumny, taking delight in
spreading reports, which they themselves did not credit"; so that
when Innocent VII. died suddenly of apoplexy, the rumour gained
belief that he had been poisoned, a violent death seeming quite a
natural end to a life of leniency to murder.

Not one star of light shone across the long and dreary gloom of
the papal court experiences of Bracciolini. On the deposition of
Gregory XII. for that Pope's duplicity and share in the intrigues
and dissensions which disgraced the Pontifical palace for three
years, Bracciolini seems to have retired from Rome, and to have
remained a resident in Florence during the greater part of the ten
months' reign of the mild, pious and philosophical Alexander V.,
the only able and virtuous divine, who sat in those dark times on
St. Peter's throne.

IV. For losing that one glimpse of light in public life,
Bracciolini was more than compensated by a beam of beneficent
Fortune in his private career, which threw such lustre on his
path, that it rescued him from what must have been his inevitable
fate, morbid cynicism: it was one of the happiest incidents that
ever occurred to him:--he formed the acquaintance of a man,
seventeen years his senior--who, in the lapse of a very short
time, became to him a father and adviser, to whom present or
absent he imparted every one of his schemes, thoughts, cares,
sayings and doings; who was the unfailing allayer of his
anxieties, alleviator of his sorrows, and most constant support of
all his undertakings,--Niccolo Niccoli,--of whom I must take
notice, as he was one of the most active stimulators of the
forgery of the Annals.

Though by no means affluent, and frequently straitened in
circumstances ("homo nequaquam opulens, et rerum persaepe inops,"
says Bracciolini of him, Or. Fun. III.), nevertheless, he made
enough money, as well as possessed the munificent spirit to build
at his own expense, and present to the Convent of the Holy Spirit
in Florence an edifice in which to deposit the books bequeathed to
the Brothers by Boccaccio; and, at his death, he left to the
public in the same City his own manuscripts, which he had
accumulated at great cost and with much pains. He was one of the
few laymen, not to be found out of Italy, who had learning and a
knowledge of Latin, which he had acquired with that eminent
scholar, philosopher and theologian, about half a dozen of whose
works have come down to us, Ludovicus Marsilius; but learning and
Latin were essential to the carrying on of his very pleasant and
most lucrative occupation;--that of amending and collating
manuscripts previous to their disposal for coin; a business, in
which, we are told by Bracciolini, that he surpassed everybody in
excessive expertness ("solertissimus omnium fuit in emendis ac
comparandis libris fructuosissima ac pulcherrima omnium
negotiatione," Or. in Fun. Nic. Nic.); we can, consequently,
conceive what immense sums he must have received for manuscripts
of the best ancient Greek and Roman classics, when properly spelt,
correctly punctuated, and freed from errors.

His qualities, as enumerated by his friend, Bracciolini, in a most
enthusiastic Funeral Oration over his remains (Pog. Op. 273-4),
were such as to show, if there be no exaggeration in the
description of him, that he was as much a wonder as any of the
great Oracles of his age. His attainments were varied; his
information extensive; his judgment sound, and to be relied upon,
being given not for the mere sake of assent nor for flattery, but
for what he believed to be true; "he got into a considerable
sweat," says Bracciolini, "when he read Greek," ("in Graecis
literis plurimum insudavit"), but was enabled to range over every
department of literature in Latin, of which his knowledge was
critical and most masterly, for the same authority assures us "not
a word could be mentioned, the force and etymology of which he did
not know"--"nullum proferebatur verbum cujus vim et originem
ignoraret" in geography he stood without a rival; for, his memory,
being like a vice, retaining everything he read, even to names, he
knew the minutiae, of every country better than those who had been
residents in them; though he rarely practised the art, he was a
master of rhetoric; as a conversationist he held his company in
entranced silence from the wisdom of his remarks, the dulcet flow
of his words, and his transcendent memory bringing together from
all quarters, with appropriateness to every subject under
discussion, the valuable stock of his miscellaneous reading.
Nothing could be more natural than that such a wonderful instance
of the human intellect should court the congenial society of
lovers of learning; he made his house the resort for them; and he
placed at the disposal of the studious his library, which was the
best in Florence, now that Salutati's, after his death, had been
disposed of by his sons at auction.

Bracciolini was so struck by the attainments and captivated by the
character of this man, that an acquaintance casually formed
speedily ripened into an intimacy of the most confidential,
cordial and communicative kind. Bracciolini, during his stay in
Florence, was a guest in the house of Niccoli; and there, for
nearly a year, he resumed and pursued his studies with ardour amid
the rich stores of the large and select assortment of manuscripts,
amounting to not far from a thousand in number. He was thus adding
to the treasures of his lore with daily assiduity, when the news
reached Florence that Cardinal Cossa had (notwithstanding the
well-known virtues of Alexander V.) poisoned his predecessor, and
had been elected to the pontifical chair by the title of John XXIII.

Behold Bracciolini once more in the palace of the Pontiffs of
Rome; and now acting, in the capacity of Secretary, or, more
properly, writer of the Apostolic Letters, to a Pope who was a
poisoner. John XXIII. was even worse than that: he was a most
atrocious violator of laws, human and divine; and some crimes he
committed were so heinous that it would be indecent to place them
before the public. One can imagine how agreeable must have been
the occupation to that Pope of a military rather than an
ecclesiastic turn, and fonder of deeds of violence and bloodshed
than of acts of meekness and Christianity, when he was presiding
at Constance over that General Council, which sent to the stake
those Bohemian followers of the Morning Star of the Reformation,
Huss and Jerome of Prague, to be burnt alive, according to general
belief, with their clothes and everything about them, even to
their purses and the money in them, and their ashes to be thrown
into the Rhine; but, as will be immediately seen, from the account
of an eye-witness, in a state of perfect nudity.

V. Bracciolini, who witnessed the burning of Jerome of Prague,
gives a description of it in one of his Epistles, in a manner
equal to anything that may be found in the Annals;--indeed, many
of his contemporaries thought that his Epistles reflected the
style and spirit of antiquity,--Beccadelli of Bologna, for
example, who says, writing to Bracciolini: "Your Epistles, which,
in my opinion, reflect the very spirit of the ancients, and,
especially, the antique style of Roman expression":--"Epistolae
tuae, quae veterum sane, et antiquum illum eloquentiae Romanae
morem, prae ceteris, mea sententia exprimunt" (at the end of Lusus
ad Vencrem, p. 47). The style is simpler, more unambitious, and
more flowing and smooth than is usually found in the Annals; but,
(as in the descriptive passages in that work), free play is given
to the fancy which works unclogged by verboseness; and judgment
marks the circumstances in a description which progresses,
apparently without art, to the close of the beautiful climax, and
strongly moves the compassion of the reader:--"When he persisted
with increased contumacy in his errors, he was condemned of heresy
by the Council, and sentenced to be burnt alive. With an unruffled
brow and cheerful countenance he went to his end; he was unawed by
fire, or any kind of torture, or death. Never did any Stoic suffer
death with a soul of so much fortitude and courage, as he seemed
to meet it. When he came to the place of death, he stripped
himself of his clothes, then dropping on his bended knees clasped
the stake to which he was to be fastened: he was first bound naked
to the stake with wet ropes, and then with a chain, after which
not small, but large logs of wood with sticks thrown in among them
were piled around him up to his breast; then when they were being
set on fire he began to sing a sort of hymn, which the smoke and
the flames hardly put a stop to. This was the greatest mark of his
soul of fortitude: when the executioner wanted to light the fire
behind his back, so that he should not see it, he called out,
'Come here, and set fire to it before my eyes; for if I had been
afraid of it, I never should have come to this place, which it was
in my power to have avoided.' Thus did this man, perish, who was
excellent in everything but faith. I saw the end of him; I watched
every scene of it. Whether he acted from conviction or contumacy,
you would have pronounced his the death of a man who belonged to
the school of philosophy. I have laid before you a long narrative
for the sake of occupation; having nothing to do I wanted to do
something, and give an account of things very different, indeed,
from the stories of the ancients; for the famous Mutius did not
suffer his arm to be burnt with a soul so bold, as this man his
whole body; nor Socrates drink poison half so willingly as he
endured burning."

I shall now place the passage before the reader in the Latin, as
it was written by Bracciolini, with some words in Italics, upon
which I shall afterwards comment:--

"_Cum pertinacius_ in erroribus perseveraret, per Concilium
haeresis damnatus est, et _igni_ combustus. Jucunda fronte et
alacri vultu ad _exitum_ suum _accessit_, non _ignem_ expavit,
non tormenti genus, non _mortis_. Nullus unquam Stoicorum fuit
_tam constanti animo, tam_ forti _mortem_ perpessus, quam iste
_oppetiisse_ videtur. _Cum_ venisset ad _locum mortis, se ipsum
exuit vestimentis, tum_ procumbens, flexis genibus, veneratus est
_palum_, ad quem ligatus fuit: primum funibus manentibus, _tum_
catena undus ad _palum_ constrictus fuit; ligna deinde circumposita
pectore tenus non minuscula, sed grossa palaeis interjectis,
_tum_ flamma adhibita canere coepit hymnum quendam, quem fumus
et _ignis_ vix interrupit. Hoc maximum _constantis animi_ signum:
_cum_ lector _ignem_ post tergum, ne id _videret_, injicere vellet:
--'huc,' inquit, '_accede_, atque in conspectu accende _ignem_;
si enim illum timuissem, nunquam ad hunc _locum_ quem effugiendi
facultus erat, _accessissem_.' Hoc modo vir, praeter fidem,
egregius, consumptus est. _Vidi_ hunc _exitum_, singulos _actus_
inspexi. Sive perfidia, sive _pertinacia_ id _egerit_, certe
philosophiae schola interitum _viri_ descripsisses. Longam tibi
cantilenam _narravi_ ocii causa, nihil _agens_ aliquid _agere_
volui, et res tibi _narrare_ paulum similes histories priscorum.
Nam neque Mutius ille _tam_ fidenti _animo_ passus est membrum
uri, quam iste universum corpus; neque Socrates _tam_ sponte
venenum bibit, quam iste _ignem_ suscepit." [Endnote 145]

It will be seen, as a peculiarity in composition, that, in this
not very long sentence, several words are re-introduced, and
sometimes over and over again, when the repetition could have been
avoided, as: "accedere," "agere," "videre," "narrare," "pertinacia,"
"constans," "animus," "mors," "exitus," "ignis," "vir," "locus,"
"palus," "cum," "tum," "tam," &c. As this runs through the whole
of Bracciolini's compositions with much frequency, it is to be
expected that it would be found to some extent in the Annals;
because a man who so writes, writes thus unconsciously and
unavoidably, and even when engaged in a forgery, striving to
imitate the style and manner of another, he could not escape
from so marked and distinctive a mannerism. Bracciolini,
accordingly, is found adhering in the Annals to this uniformity of
manner: many passages more forcibly illustrative of this
peculiarity might be quoted; but I select the sham sea-fight in
the XIIth book, for two reasons, because it is pretty much of the
same length as the burning of Jerome of Prague, and because it is
of a similar nature,--descriptive:--

"Sub idem _tempus_, inter _lacum_ Fucinum amnemque Lirin perrupto
monte, quo magnificentia _operis_ a pluribus _viseretur, lacu_ in
ipso navale _proelium_ adornatur; ut quondam Augustus, structo cis
Tiberim stagno, sed levibus navigiis et minore copia _ediderat._
Claudius triremes quadriremesque et undeviginti hominum millia
armavit, cincto _ratibus_ ambitu, ne vaga effugia forent; _ac_
tamen spatium amplexus, ad _vim_ remigii, gubernantium artes,
impetus _navium_, et _proelio_ solita. In _ratibus_ praetoriarum
cohortium manipuli turmaeque adstiterant, antepositis propugnaculis,
ex quis catapultae ballistaeque tenderentur: reliqua _lacus_
classiarii tectis _navibus_ obtinebant. Ripas et colles, _ac_
montium _edita_, in modum theatri _multitudo_ innumera complevit
_proximis_ e municipiis, et alii urbe ex ipsa, _visendi cupidine_
aut officio in _principem_. Ipse insigni paludamento, neque procul
Agrippina chlamyde aurata, praesedere. _Pugnatum_, quamquam inter
sontes, fortium virorum animo; _ac_, post multum vulnerum, occidioni
exempti sunt. Sed perfecto _spectaculo_ apertum _aquarum_ iter.
Incuria _operis_ manifesta fuit, haud satis depressi ad _lacus_
ima vel media. Eoque, _tempore_ interjecto, altius effossi specus,
et contrahendae rursus _multitudini_ gladiatorum _spectaculum editur_,
inditis pontibus pedestrem ad _pugnam_. Quin et convivium effluvio
_lacus_ adpositum, magna formidine cunctos adfecit; quia _vis aquarum_
prorumpens _proxima_ trahebat, convulsis ulterioribus, aut fragore
et sonitu exterritis. Simul Agrippina, trepidatione _principis_ usa,
ministrum _operis_ Narcissum incusat _Cupidinis ac_ praedarum. Nec
ille reticet, impotentiam muliebrem nimiasque spes ejus arguens."
(An. XII. 56-7).

In this passage it will be observed that the same thing takes place
in the repetition of words:--"lacus," "ratis," "vis," "navis," "ac,"
"multitudo," "Cupido," "princeps," "tempus," "spectaculum," "edere,"
"proelium," "visere," "proximus," "aqua," "opus" and "pugna." The
conjunctive particle "ac," is more particularly to be noted as an
out of the way word for the ordinary copulative "et": "_ac_ tamen
spatium amplexus"; "_ac_ montium edita"; "_ac_ post multum vulnerum,"
occurring so frequently in such a brief sentence is just like the
monotony of composition in the extract from Bracciolini with respect
to "cum": "_cum_ pertinacius in erroribus perseveraret"; "_cum_
venisset ad locum mortis"; "_cum_ lictor ignem post tergum," &c.

But this is not all as to the resemblance which the passage from
Bracciolini bears to the writing in the Annals. The expression
"quam iste _oppetiise_," i.e. mortem, "videtur," has its
exact counterpart in the Second Book of the Annals in the phrase:
"vix cohibuere amici, quo minus eodem mari _oppeteret_," i.e.
mortem (II. 24). When, too, Bracciolini says of Jerome of Prague,
"_se ipsum exuit_ vestimentis," "_strips himself_ of his clothes,"
instead of simply, "takes off his clothes,"--"exuit vestimenta,"--
we have an expression precisely like that in the Annals, "_neutrum_
datis a se praemiis _exuit_," that is, "_strips neither_ of the
rewards which he had given him" (XIV. 55), instead of "takes away
the rewards,"--"praemia exuit."

But I will go by-and-bye more fully into matters of this kind. At
present it is necessary that I should still pursue the career of
Bracciolini,--or rather so much of it as is absolutely needed, in
order that the reader may see how curiously it prepared and formed
him to be the author of such a peculiar work as the Annals, which
in its characteristic singularity, could have proceeded from him
only, and by no manner of means from Tacitus.



Gaining insight into the darkest passions from associating with
Cardinal Beaufort.--II. His passage about London in the Fourteenth
Book of the Annals examined.--And III. About the Parliament of
England in the Fourth Book.

I. In the autumn of 1418, after the breaking up of the Council of
Constance, Bracciolini left Italy and accompanied to England a
member of the Plantagenet family, the second son of John of Gaunt,
Duke of Lancaster, Henry Beaufort, whose placid and beardless face
the great Florentine seems to have first seen at the Ecumenical
Council which that princely prelate had turned aside to visit in
the course of a pilgrimage he was making to Jerusalem. Henry
Beaufort was then Bishop of Winchester, but afterwards a Cardinal,
and though there was another Prince of the Roman Church, Kemp,
Archbishop of York and subsequently of Canterbury, Beaufort was
always styled by the popular voice and in public acts "The
Cardinal of England," on account, perhaps, of his Royal parentage
and large wealth, more enormous than had been known since the days
of the De Spencers: he had lands in manors, farms, chaces, parks
and warrens in seven counties, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire,
Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Somersetshire, Hampshire and Surrey,
besides having the Customs of England mortgaged to him, and the
cocket of the Port of Southampton with its dependencies,--an
indebtedness of the State which is so far interesting as being the
foundation of our National Debt.

Bracciolini had now an opportunity of watching and unravelling the
wiles of this august prelate and patron of his; he thus gained
still more insight into the ways of the worldly and the feelings
of the ambitious; acquired a masterly knowledge of the dark
passions and became versed in the crooked policy of court
intrigue. He had quitted provinces at home laid waste by hostile
invasions and cities agitated by the discord of contending
parties; Genoa sending warships to ravage in the Mediterranean,
Venice reducing to subjection the smaller States along the
Adriatic, and Florence warring with Pisa, still to fix his eyes on
darkness and the degradation of humanity; for he was visiting a
country,--as England was in the fifteenth century,--buried in the
gloom of barbarism, and forlorn in its literary condition, with
writers, unworthy the name of scholars, Walsingham and
Whethamstede, Otterbourne and Elmham, inditing bald chronicles;
students applying their minds to scholastic philosophy; divines
confounding their wits with theological mysteries; and men with
inclinations to science, as Thomas Northfield, losing themselves
in witchcraft, divination and the barbarous jargon of astrology,
while rendering themselves, at any moment, liable to be
apprehended by order of the doctors and notaries who formed the
Board of Commissioners for the discovery of magicians, enchanters
and sorcerers; for it was the age when invention framed the lie of
the day, the marvellous military leadership of Joan of Arc, and
credulity stood as ready to receive it as little boys in nurseries
the wondrous tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Through this mist the
figure of Cardinal Beaufort loomed largest, unsociable,
disdainful, avaricious, immeasurably high-stomached (for he deemed
himself on an equality with the king); and, in spite of immoderate
riches, inordinately mean: along with these unamiable qualities,
he upheld the policy of Martin V., which was to destroy the
independence of the National Church of England: he was treacherous
to his associates, and murderous thoughts were not strangers to
his bosom.

Bishop Milner, in his History of Winchester under the Plantagenets
(Vol. I. p. 301), denies that there is solid ground in history for
representing Beaufort as depraved, and condemns Shakespeare for
having endowed Humphry, Duke of Gloucester, with merit of which he
deprived the memory of Cardinal Beaufort. The late Dean Hook, too,
in his elegantly written life of Archbishop Chicheley (p. 97) is
of opinion that Beaufort "has appeared in history with his
character drawn in darker colours than it deserves." Those two
distinguished dignitaries, one of the Roman Catholic and the other
of the English Church, do not then seem to have heard of the
anecdote related by Agnes Strickland, in her Life of Katherine of
Valois (p. 114), that Henry V., when Prince of Wales, was narrowly
saved from murder by the fidelity of his little spaniel, whose
restlessness caused the discovery of a man who was concealed
behind the arras near the bed where the Prince was sleeping in the
Green Chamber in the Palace at Westminster, and a dagger being
found on the person of the intruder, he confessed that he was
there by the order of Beaufort to kill the Prince in the night,
showing that the Cardinal was guilty of a double treachery, for he
was setting on the heir-apparent at the time to seize his father's
crown; nor do Milner and Hook seem to have known that the death of
the Duke of Gloucester was principally contrived by Wykeham's
successor in the See of Winchester, and that, whether poisoned or
not, the Duke was hurried out of the world in a very suspicious
manner, one of the first acts of Margaret of Anjou after her
coronation being, in conjunction with the Wintonian diocesan to
bring about the death of that Prince after arresting him in a
Parliament called for the purpose at St. Edmund's Bury;
Shakespeare, accordingly, had historic truth with him, when he
represented the Cardinal suffering on his death-bed the tortures
of a murderer's guilty conscience, from being implicated in taking
away by violence the life of Humphry, Duke of Gloucester:--

    "Alive again! Then show me where he is,
    I'll give a thousand pound to look upon him.
    He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them.
    Comb down his hair. Look, look! it stands upright
    Like lime twigs set to catch my winged soul.
    Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary
    Bring the strong poison that I bought of him":--

to which a looker-on observes:--

    "O! thou Eternal Mover of the Heavens,
    Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch."

It could have been with no gentle eye that Bracciolini looked on
Cardinal Beaufort, whose "bad death," as Shakespeare makes the
Earl of Warwick observe, "argued a monstrous life."

Repeatedly in letters to his friend Niccoli, during two years and
more of anxiety and discontent passed by him from 1420 to 1422 in
the Palace of the Prince Prelate, Bracciolini complained bitterly
of the magnificent promises not being fulfilled that the Cardinal
had held forth to him on condition of his accompanying him to
England. In vain he looked forward to considerable emolument; day
after day he found himself doomed to the common lot of those who
depend on the patronage of the great;--"in suing long to bide":--

    "To lose good days that might be better spent;
    To waste long nights in pensive discontent;
    To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
    To feed on hope; to pine on fear and sorrow;
    To fret the soul with crosses and with cares;
    To eat the heart through comfortless despairs;
    To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
    To spend, to give, to want, to be undone."

And, really, Bracciolini may be said to have been "undone"; for
when he got what he had bargained to purchase, the frivolous
goodwill of his master, it was, as he expressed it, "the birth of
the mouse after the labour of the mountain": he obtained a
benefice of 120 florins a year, with what he did not anticipate
would be attached to it,--hard work.

In order to have a precise and not a vague and confused idea of
the galling effect produced on his feelings by this offer, it is
necessary to turn to two paragraphs (37, 38), in the Second Book
of the Annals;--for I cannot divest myself of the suspicion that
this incident in his life is there indirectly referred to, where
an account is given that has no historical basis of the "nobilis
juvenis, in paupertate manifesta," Marcus Hortalus, whose noble
parentage and straightened circumstances closely corresponded to
the birth and means of Bracciolini. When seeking recompense from
Tiberius for his four sons, he calls on the Emperor to behold in
them "the scions and offspring of what a multitude of consuls!
what a multitude of dictators! which he says not to mortify, but
to excite commiseration."--"En! stirps et progenies tot consulum!
tot dictatorum! nec ad invidiam ista, sed conciliandae
misericordiae refero;" commenting on which Justus Lipsius bursts
into the angry exclamation: "What a braggart, lying speech on this
man's part! For where was this multitude of consuls, this
multitude of dictators? Why, I can find only one dictator and one
consul in the Hortensian family; the dictator in the year of Rome,
467, when the Commons revolted; and the Consul, Quintus
Hortensius, the grandfather of the speaker,--who, perhaps,
however, reckoned in the ancestors also in his mother's line":
--"Vaniloqua hominis oratio et falsa! Ubi enim isti tot consules,
tot dictatores? Certe ego in Hortensia gente unum, dictatorem
reperio, et Consulem unum; dictatorem anno urbis 467 secessione
plebis; consulem, Q. Hortensium hujus avum. Sed intellegit
fortasse majores suos etiam ex gente materna."

Lipsius would have spared himself the trouble of inditing this
indignant note and throwing out this useless suggestion had he
known that Bracciolini forged the Annals, and playfully
interspersed his fabrication occasionally with fanciful characters
and fictitious events. The picture of Marcus Hortalus, who had
received from Augustus the munificent gift of a million sesterces,
being in the days of Tiberius once more poor, married, with
children, and seeking aid from the State for his four sons, seems
to be all purely imaginary, introduced merely as a photograph from
life, the feelings and conduct of Hortalus, after the treatment of
his sons by Tiberius, being such a faithful reflex, as far as can
be judged from his own confessions, of the feelings and conduct of
Bracciolini himself after the way in which his hopes of preferment
were blasted by Cardinal Beaufort. Just as Hortalus, if he had
been left to himself, would have remained a bachelor, and only
from pressure on the part of Augustus, became a husband, and,
while incapable of supporting children, a father, so Bracciolini
would have remained in Italy and never visited this country, had
it not been for the importunities of the Cardinal, and never
turned his thoughts to preferment in the Church, which he is
invariably telling us he disliked, had not Beaufort given
assurance that he would put him in the way of holding some high
and lucrative post in England; and then when he received a paltry
benefice, instead of expressing thanks like the other dependents
on the Prince Prelate, he was silent, from fear of the power
possessed by Beaufort, or from retaining even in his contracted
fortunes the politeness which he had inherited from his noble
forefathers:--"egere alii grates; siluit Hortalus, pavore, an
avitae nobilitatis, etiam inter angustias fortunae, retinens"
(An. II. 38).

II. We are indebted to Bracciolini's stay among us for one or two
matters that are interesting about our country. His two years'
residence here filled him with a marked admiration of London as
well as with the most confused ideas of the antiquity and
greatness of its commerce; and though comments have already been
made on his description of it as eminently absurd, the passage is
too curious not to be examined again; the more so as it has misled
good historians of London, who believing that the account actually
proceeded from Tacitus, have taken it to be incontrovertibly true,
whereas it is only true, if it be applied, as it is applicable
only to the advanced state of society and the large commercial
town of which Bracciolini was the eye witness towards the close of
the reign of Henry V., and the commencement of that of his infant
son and successor. The slightest investigation will carry
conviction of this.

A hundred years before the birth of Tacitus, Britain was so
monstrously barbarous and obscure, that Julius Caesar, when
wanting to invade it and wishing for information of its state and
circumstances, could not gain that knowledge, because, as he tells
us, "scarcely anybody but merchants visited Britain in those
times, and no part of it, except the seacoast and the provinces
opposite Gaul": ("neque enim temere praeter mercatores illo adiit
quisquam, neque iis ipsis quidquam, praeter oram maritimam, atque
eas regiones, quae sunt contra Gallias." (Caesar De Bell. Gall. IV. 20).
From this we see that, in the middle of the century before the
Christian era, the only trade with Britain was then confined
to the shores, and the southern parts, from Kent to Cornwall: it
is then, against every probability that, in a period extending
over no more than about a hundred years, this trade should have
extended up the navigable rivers and have reached London enough
for it to have risen up, by the year 60 of our era, into an
immense emporium and be known all over the world for its enormous
commerce. That this was not the case we know from Strabo, who
lived in the time of Augustus, and who, though saying a great deal
about our island and its trade, has not a word about London,
howbeit that the author of the Annals does record in his work that
it was exceedingly famous for the number of the merchants who
frequented it and the extent of its commerce; but it is not likely
that it was so, if the whole island did no more trade than Strabo
informs us, the articles exported from all Britain being
insignificant and few;--corn and cattle; such metals as gold,
silver, tin, lead and iron; slaves and hunting dogs (Strabo III.
2. 9.--ib. 5. 11.--IV. 5. 2), which Oppian says were beagles.
Musgrave, in his Belgicum Britannicum adds "cheese," from some
wretched authority, for Strabo says that the natives at that time
were as ignorant of the art of making cheese, as of gardening and
every kind of husbandry:--[Greek: "Mae turopoiein dia taen apeirian,
apeirous d'einai kai kaepeias kai allon georgikon."] (IV. 5. 2).

The statement, then, that London had the very greatest reputation
for the number of its merchants and commodities of trade in Nero's
time is utterly unfounded--nothing more nor less than outrageously
absurd; the picture, however, is quite true if London be considered
at the time when Bracciolini was here. Its merchants then carried
on a considerable trade with a number of foreign countries, to
an extent far greater, and protected by commercial treaties much
more numerous than previous to investigation I could have been
led to suppose. The foreign merchants who principally came to the
Port of London were those of Majorca, Sicily, and the other islands
in the Mediterranean; the western parts of Morocco; Venice, Genoa,
Florence and the other cities of Italy; Spain and Portugal; the
subjects of the Duke of Brabant, Lorraine and Luxemburgh; of the
Duke of Brittany, and of the Duke of Holland, Zealand, Hanneau
and Friesland; the traders of the great manufacturing towns of
Flanders; of the Hanse Towns of Germany, 64 in number, situated
on the shores of the Baltic, the banks of the Rhine, and the other
navigable rivers of Germany; the people of the great seaport towns
of Prussia and Livonia, then subject to the Grand Master of the
Teutonic Order of Knights, along with the traders of Sweden,
Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

In addition to these bringing their goods here in their own
bottoms, a great number of other foreign merchants were
established in London for managing the trade of their respective
States and Cities, performing, in fact, the duties now attached to
the office of Consul, first instituted by the maligned but
enlightened Richard III. These foreign merchants being as powerful
as they were numerous, formed themselves into Companies:
independently of the German merchants of the Steel Yard, there
were the Companies of the Lombards; the Caursini of Rome; the
Peruchi, Scaldi, Friscobaldi and Bardi of Florence, and the
Ballardi and Reisardi of Lucca. The Government protected them,
and, as they were viewed with intense jealousy by the native
traders, they were judged, in all disputes, not by the common law,
but the merchant law, which was administered by the Mayor and
Constables; and of the mediators in these disputes, two only were
native, four being foreigners, two Germans and two Italians.

The Londoners had made prodigious advances upon their forefathers
in the commodities of merchandize in which they dealt. Their most
valuable articles of exportation were wool and woollen clothes in
great varieties and great quantity; corn; metals, particularly
lead and tin; herrings from Yarmouth and Norfolk; salmon, salt,
cheese, honey, wax, tallow, and several articles of smaller value.
But their great trade was in foreign imports and that was entirely
in the hands of foreign merchants who came here in shoals,
bringing with them their gold and silver, in coin and bullion;
different kinds of wines from the finest provinces in the south of
France, and from Spain and Portugal; also from the two last
countries (to enter into a nomenclature that's like the catalogue
of an auctioneer for monotony of names and unconnectedness of
things), figs, raisins, dates, oils, soap, wax, wool, liquorice,
iron, wadmote, goat-fell, red-fell, saffron and quicksilver; wine,
salt, linen and canvas from Brittany; corn, hemp, flax, tar,
pitch, wax, osmond, iron, steel, copper, pelfry, thread, fustian,
buckram, canvas, boards, bow-staves and wool-cards from Germany
and Prussia; coffee, silk, oil, woad, black pepper, rock alum,
gold and cloth of gold from Genoa; spices of all kinds, sweet
wines and grocery wares, sugar and drugs, from Venice, Florence
and the other Italian States; gold and other precious stones from
Egypt and Arabia; oil of palm from the countries about Babylon;
frankincense from Arabia; spiceries, drugs, aromatics of various
kinds, silks and other fine fabrics from Turkey, India and other
Oriental lands; silks from the manufactories established in
Sicily, Spain, Majorca and Ivica; linen and woollen cloths of the
finest texture and the most delicate colours from the looms of
Flanders for the use of persons of high rank; the tapestries of
Arras; and furs of various kinds and in great quantities from
Russia, Norway and other northern countries. The native merchants
of London, the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Normans, carried on an
enormous inland trade. They supplied all parts of the kingdom with
corn from the many granaries which filled the City of London.
There was a constant buying and selling of live horned cattle and
sheep. Trade was great among goldsmiths, jewellers, gilders,
embroiderers, illuminators and painters; and makers of all kinds
of commodities sent their goods from every part of the provinces,
knowing that they were wanted and would meet with immediate

If those were the days when Florence had its Cosmo de' Medici, who
spent millions of florins in building palaces, churches and
charitable foundations to beautify his native town; and when
Bourges had its Jean Coeur who was rich enough to furnish Lewis
VII. with sufficient gold crowns to support the armies with which
that monarch recovered his possessions from the English, London,
too, had its Hende, Whittington and Norbury affluent and
magnificent enough to lend their sovereign immense sums of money,
and adorn the city in which they had amassed their stupendous
fortunes with useful and ornamental buildings--Bridewells,
Colleges, Hospitals, Guildhalls and Public Libraries. Well might
Bracciolini, without the slightest particle of exaggeration, say
of London, as he saw it, that it was "COPIA negotiatorum et
commeatuum MAXIME CELEBRE" (An. XIV. 33).

In leaving this passage I cannot help remarking that the
expression, "copia negotiatorum et commeatuum," has a turn that is
frequently found in the Annals; it is a cast of phrase not
affected by Tacitus; but it is exactly the manner of arranging
words in a sentence to which Sallust is partial: "frequentiam
negotiatorum et commeatuum," he says in his "Jugurtha" (47); it is
obvious that in this passage Sallust means by "commeatuus,"
"supplies of corn and provisions," as it is equally obvious that
Bracciolini (though following the phraseology of his favourite
Latin author,) gives it, in the sentence quoted from the
Fourteenth Book of the Annals, a wider meaning, "commodities of

III. If Bracciolini erred with respect to London, in magnifying it
into a town of superlative commercial splendour in the days of
Nero, which, I repeat, is wildly ridiculous, he more grossly erred
with respect to our form of government; for when he decried it,
and prophesied its decadence and downfall, his sagacity and
judgment were impugned.

When he was here our country was in the infancy of its example as
a land ruled by the most admirable political arrangements. It can
readily be believed with what interest and surprise the proud
Italian, who had seen nothing of the kind in his own land of high
civilization, must have witnessed our parliaments regularly
meeting, as had been the case for generations, since the reign of
Edward I. in 1293, knights and burgesses popularly elected by the
inhabitants of the counties and boroughs sitting in council with
the king, surrounded by his barons and bishops, priors who were
peers and abbots who had mitres. With an outspoken contempt of
England, and an overweening admiration of Italy, he avails himself
of an opportunity of sneering covertly at our harmonious
combination of the three forms of government, the monarchy, the
oligarchy and the republic.

It is scarcely necessary to say that, as reference is made to the
English Parliament, the editors of Tacitus have all been puzzled
as to the meaning of the phrase, "delecta ex his et consociata,"
in the following passage, where the author of the Annals speaks of
"the commonalty, or the aristocracy, or a monarch ruling every
nation and community"; and that "a form of government based on a
realised; or if it is realized, cannot last":--"cunctas nationes
et urbes populus, aut primores, aut singuli regunt: DELECTA EX HIS
ET CONSOCIATA reipublicae forma laudari facilius, quam evenire;
vel si evenit, haud diuturna esse potest" (IV. 33). Now the
phrase, "delecta ex his," selected from these, that is, the
monarchy, the oligarchy and the republic, and meaning that the
selections were of all the excellences and none of the faults of
each, is in every way applicable to only one form of government,--
our Parliamentary government, which is at once legislative and
executive, and, as it is now, it almost was in the days when
Bracciolini was on a visit to us in the opening days of the infant
king, Henry VI. Then not only was the "populus," or "commonalty,"
represented by knights, citizens and burgesses of their own
choosing; but the "primores," or "aristocracy," had their
representatives also in the larger barons, bishops, priors who
were peers and mitred abbots; priors who were not peers, and
abbots who had not mitres, as well as many of the smaller barons,
not receiving writs of summons: the king himself, being an infant
at the breast, had his representative, the "selection" being from
his own family, in the person of his uncle Humphry, Duke of
Gloucester, who was his substitute in the Parliament as the
Protector or Regent; and even when the king was an adult, and
absent in wars, as Edward I. when engaged in the conquest of
Wales, he was represented in Parliament by Commissioners, as our
sovereign is to this day.

But Bracciolini not only said that the selections were from the
monarchic, aristocratic and popular elements, but that they were
"associated" or "conjoined"--"consociata." Here all the editors of
Tacitus by their silence or otherwise fairly admit that the
passage is utterly beyond their comprehension,--"one of those
things," in fact, "which," in the words of Lord Dundreary, "no
fellow is supposed to understand." As for the word, "consociata,"
James Gronovius was of opinion that Tacitus must have written
"concinnata"; but not having the boldness, after the fashion of
Justus Lipsius of making alterations, according to his own sweet
pleasure, without the authority of manuscript or edition, he
followed Beroaldi, who, as much puzzled as any of the subsequent
editors, had substituted "constituta" for the nonsensical word in
the blundering MS. "consciata," though common sense should have
told him that "consociata" was meant, it being evident that the
transcriber, infinitely more puzzled than the editors, for he
could not have had the remotest conception of what he was doing,
had merely omitted a vowel in his usual careless way. It was not
till Ernesti's time, 1772, that the proper word was restored.
Ernesti, too, fancied that he had discovered something in the
Roman government, according to the description by Polybius, which
justified the language in the Annals. "I have no doubt," he says,
"but that Tacitus had in his mind (along with other historians)
Polybius, who, in the 9th and following chapters of the 6th book
of his History, praises the Roman Republic for combining the
excellences of all the three forms of government, while avoiding
the faults of each, and he speaks of that system of government as
being alone perfect which is compounded of these three." "Neque
dubito, Tacitum in animo habuisse cum alios historicos, tum
Polybium qui 6. 9 sqq. rempublicam romanam laudat hoc nomine, quod
omnium illarum trium formarum commoda complexa sit, vitatis
singularum vitiis, eamque solam rempublicam perfectam esse dicit,
quae sit e tribus istis temperata."

Let us then see exactly what it is that Polybius does say. After
speaking of a balance between the three forms of government in the
Roman administration being so fine that it was no easy matter to
decide whether the government was aristocratic, democratic or
monarchical (VI. 11), he proceeds to point out the several powers
appropriated to each branch of the constitution;--the apparently
regal rule of the Consuls, the aristocratic authority of the
Senate, and the share taken by the people in the administration of
affairs (_ibid._ 12, 13, 14). This done, his endeavour is to
show not that there was any "selection and conjunction" as stated
in the Annals, of the several forms, but quite on the contrary,
"counteraction and co-operation": to this he devotes an entire
chapter, with these remarks by way of preface:--"With respect,
then, to the several parts into which the government is divided,
the nature of every one of them has been shown; and it now remains
to be pointed out how each of these forms is enabled to COUNTERACT
the others, and how, on the other hand, it can CO-OPERATE with
them:--[Greek: "Tina men oun tropon diaergaetai ta taes politeias
eis ekaston eidos, eirgaetai tina de tropon ANTIPRATTEIN
boulaethenta, kai SYNERGEIN allaelois palin hekasta ton mergan
dunatai, nun phaethaesetai."] (VI. 15.)

After this, it cannot be supposed that reference is made to the
Commonwealth of Rome. Still less so, when, in the very next
sentence the author of the Annals attempts to show that an equally
blended administration cannot endure, because of the example
afforded by Rome (proving how well he knew that the Romans had
mixed together in their government the elements of the three
forms); he says, that when the Plebeians had the principal power,
there was submission to the will of the populace; when the
Patricians held the sway, the wishes of the aristocratic section
of the community were consulted; and when Rome had her emperors,
the people fared no better than during the reign of the kings:
here are his words:--"Therefore as in the olden time" (during the
Republic), "when the plebeians were paramount, or when the
patricians were superior in power," (in the first instance) "the
whim of the populace was ascertained and the way in which their
humour was to be dealt with, and" (in the second instance) "those
persons were accounted astute in their generation and wise who
made themselves thoroughly conversant with the disposition of the
Senate and the aristocracy; then when a change took place in the
Government" (from the Republic to the Empire), "there was the same
state of things as when a King was the ruler":--"Igitur, ut olim,
plebe valida, vel cum patres pollerent, noscenda vulgi natura et
quibus modis temperanter haberetur, senatusque et optimatium
ingenia qui maxime perdidicerant, callidi temporum et sapientes
credebantur; sic, converso statu, neque alia rerum quam si unus
imperitet." (l.c.)

What he is striving in his usual dark way to establish is this:--
Here was the failure of the Roman form of administration; the
Romans were the most accomplished people in the art of government;
the English, who are semi-barbarous, can know nothing about
government; it is then idle on their part to imagine that they are
endowed with such a vast amount of political knowledge as to be
qualified by their own reflections alone to build up a new and
magnificent form of government; when, too, that form of government
is essentially different from our superb oligarchies in Italy, the
most civilized and cultivated part of the world in everything,
especially politics; the English style of government is, also,
strictly based on the old Roman mode of administration, and when
that failed, how can any sensible man deem that the English method
of administration will ever work successfully. Hence his remarks:
"raking up and relating this," (namely, how the Roman government
never worked well at any time,) "will be of benefit," (to whom?
forsooth, the English,) "because few" (in matters of statesmanship),
"by their own sagacity distinguish the good from the very bad,
the practicable from the pernicious; the many gain their wisdom
from the acts of others; yet as examples bring benefit so do they
meet least with a probation." If that be not the meaning of his
words, then they must remain, as in all translations, without meaning.
Yet the Latin, crabbed as it is, (and it is always crabbed in the Annals),
seems to me to be simple enough:--"haec conquiri tradique in rem fuerit;
quia pauci prudentia honesta ab deterioribus, utilia ab noxiis,
discernunt; plures aliorum eventis docentur; ceterum ut profutura
ita minimum oblectationis adferunt" (l.c.).

That he does not mean the Roman form of government is further seen
by his remark that the kind of administration spoken of is "easier
to be commended than _realized_"--"laudari facilius, quam _evenire_";
just as it is easy to see from his language that he has before him
an instance of some government framed like that which he says will
not exist for any length of time; for whenever he employs the
hypothetical particle, "_si_" about anything that is absolute and
beyond doubt, he always uses it with the indicative and not the
conditional. As he then writes, "si _evenit_," (not "si _eveniat_"),
"if it _is_ realized," (not "if it _be_ realized,") he really has
in his mind some State constituted according to his description.

It should now be borne in mind that he was in this country before
he forged the Annals, and was in the household of Cardinal
Beaufort, who had repeatedly filled the office of Chancellor, on
whom devolved the duty of issuing the writs to the members of the
Parliament, Commoners as well as Peers; for that great officer the
Speaker, was not yet invested with the authority so to do with
respect to the Lower House; not only, then, had Bracciolini heard
of the English Parliament, but the precise nature of it must have
come frequently under his cognizance. In fact, it was no other
than the English Parliament to which he refers.

That being accepted, there were several reasons to induce him to
doubt the durability of our Parliament: the Crown possessed too
great power in those assemblies: it was with difficulty that the
great barons could be got to attend, their delight being to reside
at their castles in the country, and take no part in political
affairs; it was also difficult to get the representatives of the
counties and boroughs to attend, on account of the long distances
that many had to come, and the great expenses of their attendance;
sometimes in a county the properly qualified person,--an actual
knight,--could not be found, and there was no representative from
a county, until upwards of twenty years after Bracciolini had left
us, when esquires and gentlemen could be returned; sometimes a
city or borough would not send a member, either by pleading
poverty in not being able to pay the wages of the two
representatives, or from not finding among their townsmen two
burgesses with the qualifications required by the writ, that is,
sufficiently hale to bear the fatigue of the journey, and
sufficiently sensible to discharge the duties of close attendance
on Parliament; for every member was then required to be present at
the Parliament; hence each small freeholder from a county and each
burgess had to find three or four persons of credit to be sureties
for him that he would attend; and the constituents of each were
forced to bear the cost of his attendance.

In addition to these difficulties there were other drawbacks that
seemed to threaten a speedy termination to these Parliaments. The
session was very short; the business was prepared beforehand, the
laws being drawn up by the bishops, earls, barons, justices, and
others who formed the king's council; and several statutes and
laws were thus hastily and ill considered.

In spite of all these excuses for Bracciolini, experience has
proved that his observation was shallow; and it is possible that,
with his profound insight into the human mind, he might not have
made it had he gone deeply into English character; but it seems
that he deemed it unworthy of his study, England being "a country,
which," as he says, "he did not like at all,"--"hujus patriae,
quam parum diligo" (Ep. I. 2). With such an aversion to us it is
no wonder that he had no faith in the continuance of our
Parliament, for no stronger reason, probably, than that it was an
English institution; but had he foreseen its durability he would
have been a greater wonder than he was from having his eyes more
fully opened than were the eyes of any man at that period to the
rare qualities possessed by Englishmen; their unpretending
magnanimity; their fine talents for business; their keen views in
policy; the great things they had done in the arts of peace and
war, as well as their capability of continuing to accomplish still
greater achievements in both; the solidity of their understandings
and their reflective spirits, which, when directed and applied to
political schemes, devise and consummate sound and lasting reforms
of the State.



I. The Proposal made in February, 1422, by a Florentine, named
Lamberteschi, and backed by Niccoli.--II. Correspondence on the
matter, and Mr. Shepherd's view that it referred to a
Professorship refuted.--III. Professional disappointments in
England determine Bracciolini to persevere in his intention of
forging the Annals.--IV. He returns to the Papal Secretaryship,
and begins the forgery in Rome in October, 1423.

I. About this period Bracciolini commenced the forgery of the
Annals. In noticing the preliminary steps to that fabrication, and
then glancing back at a few circumstances peculiar to his age,
while touching upon some incidents hitherto passed over in his
biography, we shall have all the necessary lights and shades in
his life that will be of use to us in the maintenance and
illustration of our theory.

Although he received in exchange for the living of 120 florins a
year another of the annual worth of £40 with slighter duties
attached to it, he still continued to express dissatisfaction at
his fortunes, and desire a sinecure canonry in England that would
enable him to live in literary ease at home. When, however, an
alternative was presented to him of returning to the Pontifical
Secretariate, through the intercession of one of his powerful
Italian friends, Cardinal Adimari, Archbishop of Pisa, he rudely
scouted the overture upon these grounds: that he would "rather be
a free man than a public slave"; that he had "a smaller opinion of
the Papacy and its limbs than the world believed"; that "if he had
thought as highly of the Secretaryship to the Pope, as many did,
he would long before have gone back to it; and that if he lost
everything, from what he now had, he would not want."--"Video quae
Cardinalis Pisanus scribit de Secretariatu. Sane si ego illud
officium tantum existimarem, quantum nonnulli, ego jamdudum istuc
rediissem: sed si omnia deficerent, hoc quod nunc habeo, non
deerit mihi. Ego minus existimo et Pontificatum et ejus membra
quam credunt. Cupio enim liber esse, non publicus servus"
(Ep. I. 17).

Just as he was in this bad humour, disgusted with his patron and
the world, and in the most cynical of moods, a proposal reached
him from Florence, which, as set forth to view by himself in
communications to his friend Niccoli, is so dimly disclosed as to
be capable of two interpretations: The Rev. William Shepherd in
his Life of him understands his ambiguous terms as having
reference to a professorship, the words of Mr. Shepherd being:

--"Piero Lamberteschi ... offered him a situation, _the nature of
which is not precisely known_, but which was probably that of
public professor in one of the Italian Universities" (Life of
Poggio Bracciolini, p. 138). Now I conceive, and shall attempt to
prove that the proposal was not about a "situation," but to forge
additional books to the hopelessly lost History of Tacitus.

Niccolo Niccoli seems to have been at the bottom of the business;
at any rate, he appears to have advised his bosom friend to
undertake the task; for Bracciolini says that he "thinks he will
follow his advice, while writing to him from the London Palace of
Cardinal Beaufort, in a letter dated the 22nd of February, 1422,
respecting "a suggestion" and "an offer" made by his fellow-
countryman, Piero Lamberteschi, who, he says, "will endeavour to
procure for me in three years 500 gold sequins. If he will make it
600, I will at once close with his proposal. He holds forth
sanguine hopes about several future profitable contingencies,
which, I am inclined to believe, may probably be realized; yet it
is more prudent to covenant for something certain than to depend
on hope alone." "Placent mihi quae Pierus imaginatur, quaeque
offert; et ego, ut puto, sequar consilium vestrum. Scribit mihi se
daturum operam, ut habeam triennio quingentos aureos: fient
sexcenti, et acquiescam. Proponit spem magnam plurium rerum, quam
licet existimem futuram veram, tamen aliquid certum pacisci satius
est, quam ex sola spe pendere" (Ep. I. 17).

Speaking further on in the letter about Lamberteschi, he says: "I
like the occupation to which he has invited me, and hope I shall
be able to produce something WORTH READING; but for this purpose,
as I tell him in my letters, I require the retirement and leisure
that are necessary for literary work." "Placet mihi occupatio, ad
quam me hortatur, et spero me nonnihil effecturum DIGNUM LECTIONE;
sed, ut ad eum scribo, ad haec est opus quiete et otio literarum."

II. The expression of his hope that he would "produce something
worth reading," and the mention of his want, in order that he
should accomplish what was required of him, "retirement and
leisure for literary work," quite set at rest Mr. Shepherd's
theory that the proposal had reference to a Professorship. In the
first place, professors in those days did not collect their
lectures and publish them for the behoof of those who had not the
privilege of hearing them delivered. They did not give their
addresses an elaborate form, nor introduce into them the novel
views and profound and accurate thought with which Professors now
dignify their vocation from chairs in Universities, especially
those of Oxford and Cambridge, or places of public instruction, as
the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, with its Professor
Tyndall, or the Royal School of Mines and Museum of Practical
Geology in Jermyn Street, with its Professor Huxley. They could
not then "produce something worth reading." In the second place
they did not require the "retirement and leisure necessary for
literary work"; they talked about what they knew in the most
simple and artless manner; made no preparations beforehand; walked
into a class room, and, book in hand, Greek or Roman classic,
discoursed to their pupils about the meaning of this or that
passage or the rendering of this or that word benefiting the
juvenile class with the spontaneous harvest of their cultivated
minds, and giving the opinions of others a great deal more freely
than they gave their own: all that they said, too, was detached
and trite; and if books are valuable, as consisting of perfectly
combined parts, and new or extraordinary contents, the lectures of
the fifteenth century professors would not have been worth the
paper on which they were written. Bracciolini, then, would never,
in the contemplation of turning a professor, have spoken of
"producing something worth reading"; nor, for the discharge of
professorial duties, would he speak of requiring "retirement and
leisure for literary work." It is clear that Mr. Shepherd is
altogether wrong in his conjecture.

And now as to mine. If the dim revelations concerned a plan about
forging the Annals, then "something worth reading" Bracciolini
certainly did produce; for the Annals is,--taking the
circumstances under which it was composed into consideration--
about one of the most wonderful literary creations that we have;
on every page there is indication of the "labour limae,"--the
filing and polishing that are the result of the "retirement and
leisure necessary to literary work"; and, though not bearing a
very striking resemblance to the History of Tacitus, of which it
is intended to be the supplement, it was, nevertheless, contrived
with so much artfulness that, for more than four hundred years, it
has deceived the scholars of Europe: yes, indeed, the author

    "Gave out such a seeming
    To seal their eyes up,--close as oak,--
    They thought 'twas Tacitus."

The more the passages in these interesting letters are considered,
the stronger becomes the impression that they are all about a
scheme for forging the Annals of Tacitus. Even those which seem to
give a colouring to Mr. Shepherd's view in reality favour mine.

A part of the original scheme appears to have been that
Bracciolini was to go to Hungary: what for is not mentioned. It
then becomes a matter of conjecture. Mine is, that, on account of
the belief current in those days that singular treasures of
ancient history were to be found more readily than elsewhere in
barbarous countries, and that the more barbarous the country the
greater the chance of recovering an ancient classic, so
Bracciolini was to go, or feign that he had gone to Hungary, and
then on returning give out that he had there found some of the
lost books of the History of Tacitus. If this be not the right
conjecture, it can barely be understood why Bracciolini should
make a mystery about this visit. "If I undertake a journey to
Hungary," he says, "it will be unknown to everybody but a few, and
down the throats of these I shall cram all sorts of speeches,
since I will pretend that I have come from here," that is, from
England. "Si in Hungariam proficiscar, erit ignotum omnibus,
praeter paucos; quin simulabo me huc venturum, et istos pascam
verbis." (Ep. I. 18). This intention to keep the journey to
Hungary a secret looks as if his going there were connected with
the wrong act suggested, seeing that men usually resort to
concealment when they commit a wrong act, and endeavour to lead
people astray with respect to it (as Bracciolini showed an
inclination to do) by misstatements and falsehoods: then
Bracciolini knew well that the commission of a forgery would be
immediately suspected were it bruited abroad that he had come from
Hungary where he had found a long-lost classic because those were
days when book-finders were in the habit of first forging works,
and then visiting far distant lands to report on their return that
they had there recovered MSS. which they themselves had written.

Another passage strengthens my view, though, at a first glance, it
favours Mr. Shepherd's. After observing that his friend "knew well
how he preferred liberty and literary leisure to the other things
which the vast majority held in the highest estimation and made
the objects of their ambition," Bracciolini proceeds thus: "And if
I were to see that I should get that which our friend Picro
expects, I would go not only to the end of Europe but as far as to
the wilds of Tartary, especially as I should have the opportunity
of paying attention to Greek literature, which it is my desire to
devour with avidity, were it but to avoid those wretched
translations, which so torment me that there is more pain in
reading than pleasure in acquiring knowledge."--"Id primum scias
volo, me libertatem et otium litterarum praeponere rebus caeteris,
quae plures existimant permaximi, atque optant. Sique videro id me
consecuturum, prout sperat Pierius noster, non solum ad Sarmatas,
sed Scythas usque proficiscar, praesertim proposita facultate
dandi operam Graecis litteris, quas avide cupio haurire, ut fugiam
istas molestas translationes, quae ita me torquent, ut pluris sit
molestiae in legendo, quam in discendo suavitatis." (Ep. I. 18.)

This is the passage that must have particularly induced Mr.
Shepherd to think that what was offered to Bracciolini was a
Professorship; and as Bracciolini spoke of the opportunity that
would be afforded to him of studying Greek literature, that the
Professorship was of Greek. But Mr. Shepherd ought not to have
conjectured that the Professorship must have been in some Italian
University; it is clear that if Bracciolini was to carry out the
proposal of Lamberteschi, he was, from the original plan, to have
gone to Hungary. The Professorship must, therefore, have been in
Hungary. But in 1422 no professor was wanted in that country,
because it had no university: Hungary then was, and remained a
wilderness of unlettered barbarism for nearly half a century
after, it not being until 1465, half a dozen years from the death
of Bracciolini, that Matthias Corvinus established in Buda the
first Hungarian University, filling it with valuable works which
he got copied from rare manuscripts in the principal cities of
Italy, especially Rome and Florence, and inviting to it men as
learned as Bracciolini, not only from Italy, but also France and
Germany. What Bracciolini really alludes to is not a
professorship, but the money he was to get for his forgery,--the
500 or 600 gold sequins; and as money was then worth about twenty
times more than it is now, it was a moderate fortune of ten or
twelve thousand pounds; and when he should have such means at his
disposal, he would have quite sufficient for his purpose; he could
then forsake the clerical duties which were so onerous and
distasteful to him, to devote himself in peace and comfort to his
favourite study of Greek literature, with which he became
specially captivated just at this period of his life from reading
for the first time in the magnificent library of Cardinal Beaufort
the works of the Greek fathers, above all, Chrysostom, whom he
looked upon as the greatest of all writers; for writing to Niccoli
from the London palace of Cardinal Beaufort in the summer of 1420,
he speaks of "preferring Chrysostom to everybody else whom he had
ever read,"--"Joannes Chrysostomus, quem omnibus, quos ego unquam
legerim, praefero" (Ep. I. 7); and, on another occasion, in a
letter to the same friend, again referring to Chrysostom, he
bursts into the enthusiastic exclamation: "this man by a good
shoulder, or more, overtops everybody":--"hic vir longe humero
supereminet omnes" (Ep. I. 8). A still greater, nay, "the greatest
reason for his desire of returning to Greek literature," he gives
in a letter to Niccoli dated London, the 17th of July, 1420, that,
in "skimming over Aristotle during the spring of that year, not
for the purpose of studying him then, but reading and seeing what
there was in each of his works,"--he had found that sort of
"perusal not wholly unprofitable, as he had learnt something every
day, superficial though it might be, from understanding Aristotle
in his own language, when he found him in the words of translators
either incomprehensible or nonsensical." "Ego jam tribus mensibus
vaco Aristoteli, non tam discendi causa ad praesens, quam legendi,
ac videndi, quid in quoque opere contineatur: nec est tamen omnino
inutilis haec lectio; disco aliquid in diem, saltem superficie
tenus, et haec est causa potissima, cur amor graecarum litterarum
redierit, ut hunc virum quasi elinguem, et absurdum aliena lingua,
cognoscam sua."

III. As Bracciolini gave his assent to the fabrication of
additional books to the History of Tacitus, his friends Niccoli
and Lamberteschi as well as himself were of opinion that his
presence was required in Italy, in order that the three should
take counsel together, and, discussing the matter in concert,
deliberate fully what was best to be done: "nam maturius
deliberare poterimus, quid sit agendum," he says in a letter
addressed to Niccoli from London on the 5th of March, 1422; and as
he left England for Italy in the summer, and did not begin his
forgery till the autumn of the next year, he spent the interval of
some eighteen, nineteen or twenty months in continually holding
cabinet councils with his two friends, and secretly devising with
them on what plan he could best execute the addition to the
History of Tacitus; no doubt, he thought they had so cleverly
arranged matters in providing against all mishaps that he never
would be found out. "Veniam ad vos," he continues in the same
letter; "et tunc propositis in unum conditionibus, discussisque in
utramque partem rationibus, meliorem, ut spero, eligemus partem."

Bracciolini was, notwithstanding, undesirous of leaving England
just yet, from keeping his eye fixed upon the main chance. There
was the pleasant prospect before him of his living, which had such
heavy duties attached to it, being exchanged for a sinecure worth
£20 a year, "all," he said, "he coveted, and no more"; but it
being uncertain when such good fortune would attend him, he knew
not what to do,--whether, as things now stood, he should return to
Italy, and lose all chance of getting the free benefice, or stay a
little longer in England and wait the possible exchange. "Credo me
inventurum pro hac beneficium liberum, et sine cura XX librarum:
hoc si fieri poterit, satis est mihi, nec opto amplius; veruntamen
nescio quando hoc inveniam; neque scio, an sit melius isto venire,
prout res nunc se habent, an expectare paulum, quaerens an possem
hanc facere permutationem" (Ep. I. 18). Three months passed
without the exchange being effected, whereupon as time progressed,
his hopes, like the courage of Bob Acres, "oozed out at his
fingers' ends." Still he was unwilling to lose what had cost him a
great deal of importunity, as well as much time and anxiety of
mind by any fault on his part, such as being in too great a hurry
over the matter; so he told his friend Niccoli when writing to him
in June; as that "there was nothing else which detained him in
England but the business of effecting the exchange of his
benefice, which from the badness of the times was a much worse
living than it was considered to be:" he also came to the definite
determination that if in two months what he had been looking for
turned up, he would make his arrangements immediately and be off
to his two friends at home; and even if he got nothing, still he
would start for Italy in August at the latest. "Ut alia epistola
ad te scripsi, nihil aliud me hic tenet, nisi cura permutandi hoc
beneficium, quod defectu temporum multo tenuius est, quam
ferebatur. Nollem enim, id quod tanto et temporis impendio
quaesivi, et animi sollicitudine, nunc amittere vitio festinandi.
Si his duobus mensibus emerserit aliquid, quod cupio, concludam
statim, atque ad vos veniam; sin autem nihil invenero, etiam
veniam ad vos." (Ep. I. 22 in.)

Cardinal Beaufort had in the April of 1422 promised to get him a
prebend for his church,--a simple, as distinguished from a
dignitary prebend. If without a dean and chapter inducting him
into a prebendal stall, which he did not want, he could go to
Italy and there draw every year the stipend granted for the
maintenance of a prebendary out of the estate of an English
collegiate church, possibly in the diocese of Winchester, he would
not have visited England in vain. But when he reminded the
Cardinal of his promise, and claimed its performance, Beaufort
receded from his position. "To trust the speeches of such
persons," said Bracciolini, "is like holding a wolf by the ears,"
(quoting what the old Greeks used to say, [Greek: ton oton echein
ton lukon] when they wanted to denote the awkward position of a
man holding on to something when it was difficult for him to cling
to it, and still more dangerous for him to let it go). From that
moment Bracciolini ceased to place any further trust in Cardinal
Beaufort, and turned with redoubled zest to the proposal of
Lamberteschi as one on which he alone relied: "Quidam me duobus
jam mensibus suspensum tenet promittens mihi daturum praebendam
quandam pro hac ecclesia: nunc autem cum rem urgerem, et ad calcem
cuperem pervenire, recessit a promissis suis. Credere verbis
istorum est, ac si auribus lupum teneas. Tu vero da operam, et cum
primum Petrus responderit, me de eo facias certiorem: nam hoc
solum expecto" (Ep. I. 21). From this time his mind was made up:
he would leap the Rubicon: he would go in for the forgery, and his
friend must have confidence in him. So speaking of his powers for
the great task which he meditated he proceeds thus interestingly
in the letter to Niccoli bearing date London, the 10th of June,
1422: "I want you to have no distrust: give me the leisure and the
time for 'writing that HISTORY'" (the nearest approach this to a
disclosure of the grand secret so frequently hinted at by him in
the London letters of the spring and summer of 1422), "and I will
do something you will approve. My heart is in the work, though I
question my powers." Then quoting the sentiment from Virgil about
"labour overcoming everything," he proceeds with unabated
interest: "I have not for four years devoted any attention to
literature, nor read a single book that can be considered well-
written,--as you may judge from these letters of mine which are
not what they used to be; but I shall soon get back into my old
manner. When I reflect on _the merits of the ancient writers of
history, I recoil with fear from the undertaking_" (mark that);
"though when I consider what are the writers of the present day, I
recover some confidence in the hope that if I strive with all my
might, I shall be inferior to few of them." He then implores his
friend to let him know the reply of Lamberteschi as soon as
possible. "Nec dubites volo; si dabitur otium et tempus
DESCRIBENDI GESTA ILLIUS, aliquid agam quod probabis. Cor bonum,
adest mihi; nescio an vires aderint: tamen 'labor omnia vincit
improbus.' Quatuor his annis nullam dedi operam studiis
humanitatis, nec legi librum, quod ad eloquentiam spectaret; quod
ex ipsis litteris meis potes conjicere. Non sunt enim quales esse
consuevere; sed tamen brevi tempore redigar in priorem statum.
_Cum priores rerum scriptores considero, deterreor a scribendo_;
cum vero nostri temporis, nonnihil confido, sperans me paucis
inferiorem futurum, si omnino nervos intendero. Tuum vero sit
studium, ut quam primum certior fiam responsionis Petri" (Ep. I. 21).

IV. He did not remain in England long after this; soon after the
midsummer of 1422 he left this country. His motive for taking this
step may have been that he ended by giving up all hope of
exchanging his laborious living for a sinecure free benefice, or
of obtaining a permanent appointment to a prebend that was without
any jurisdiction attached to it; or, what may be far more likely,
he resolutely abandoned every object he had in view in England for
the far brighter prospects that opened out before him at home if
he undertook the forgery which had been proposed to him by
Lamberteschi, and to which he had been invited by the promise of,
in the first instance, a magnificent pecuniary reward, and
afterwards the possibility of many rare advantages.

Only a fortnight after the last letter to Niccoli he addressed to
him another, the last he wrote from London, on the 25th of June,
1422, couched in language which showed how deeply involved his
Florentine friend was in the plot of the forgery: "If Lamberteschi
would only place something certain before us, which we could adopt
or approve," he wrote; and "How heartily I hope that Lamberteschi
will do what would be so agreeable to us both." "Si Petrus certum
quid responderit, quod sequi ant probare possimus"--"Quam maxime
exopto, ut Petrus perficiat, quae vellemus" (Ep. I. 22).

From this day we hear no more of him in London. Sometime during
the summer of 1422 he returned to Rome, and, following the advice
of the Cardinal Archbishop of Pisa, went back to his old
employment in Rome at the Secretariate, but now, it would appear,
as the Principal Secretary to the Pope,--a post which he obtained
with little or no intercession, as borne testimony to by himself:
--"Ego effectus sum Secretarius Pontificis, et quidem nullis
precibus, vel admodum paucis" (Ep. II. 2).

Here then was Bracciolini again in Rome, not then a city of saints
and sacred things, but of scoffing priests and absolved sinners:
we all know what Luther said on returning to Wittenberg, after his
first visit to Rome: "everything is permitted there except to be
an honest man." If that was true at the commencement of the
sixteenth century, it was much more true at the commencement of
the fifteenth.

Count Corniani, in his "Ages of Italian Literature," is of opinion
that Bracciolini had been in Hungary (II. 76). If so, it must have
been after he left England; he could not then have been so soon,
as I have stated, in Rome: he was there, however, for a certainty,
as some of his letters now extant show, in the earlier portion of
the spring of the following year; even this is against his having
been in Hungary, except on the ground that almost immediately
after he had arrived there, he found that whatever it was that
Lamberteschi had offered to him was neither practicable nor
agreeable; therefore he relinquished it and accepted the office of
Secretary in the Papal Court. Bracciolini, however, does not seem
to have gone to Hungary; nor was there any necessity that he
should have done so, if my theory be correct; for then, so far
from Lamberteschi's offer being neither practicable nor agreeable,
it was both so feasible and pleasant, that it was in order to
accomplish it, he expressly accepted the Secretary's post in the
Court of Rome. He could not have carried out the forgery had he
remained in England, because he would not have had the necessary
leisure, on account of the heavy duties attached to his cure; and
we have seen how he could get neither a sinecure nor a simple
prebend; but to be in the Secretariate of the Papacy was to be the
holder of an office with little or nothing to do, which gave him
ample leisure for literary pursuits. He, therefore, became
reconciled to accepting the Papal Secretaryship; "it being the way
with a wise man," he observed in a philosophic spirit, "to do the
best he can under circumstances, and be satisfied." If by being
Secretary to the Pope he saw he could procure what he wanted,
which was "obtaining a support," stick to the Secretariate he
would; accordingly, he staid in Rome, devoting himself to his
books. "Parere temporis semper sapientis est habitum. Si videro me
hac via consecuturum, quod cupio, hoc est aliquod sustentaculum,
tum adhaeream: quiescens in studiis, hic manebo" (Ep. II. 2).

As if preparing for some great literary undertaking connected with
antiquity, he wrote from Rome on the 15th of May, 1423, to his
friend Niccoli to let him have without the least delay all his
notes and extracts from the various books (and they not a few and
miscellaneous) which he had read; here it may be observed that
what Cortese, Bishop of Urbino, says of the Camaldolese General,
Traversari, is strictly applicable to him:--"Such was his
inexhaustible love of reading, he regretted a moment spent away
from his books; and every day, when not engaged in writing,
devoured the compositions of the ancient Greeks and Romans":
("Erat in hoc homine inexhaustus quidem legendi amor; nullum enim
patiebatur esse vacuum tempus. Quotidie aut scribebat, aut aliquid
ex Graecis Latinisque litteris mandabat"):--"Mittas ad me, rogo,
singula commentariola mea, hoc est, excerpta illa ex variis
libris, quos legi, quae sunt plurima, ac dispersa; collige simul
omnia, oro te, et ad me quamprimum mittas" (Ep. II. 2).

Having, no doubt, obtained in due time the notes and extracts
wanted, apparently in the autumn of 1423, he then set about the
commencement of his immortal and wonderful forgery, or, as he
styles it in the fabrication itself, his "condensed and inglorious
drudgery,"--"nobis in arto et inglorius labor" (Annal. IV. 31);
for in a letter written from Rome in the night of the 8th of
October that year he makes a reflection about "beginnings of any
kind being arduous and difficult," following up the remark with
these striking words: that "what the ancients did pleasantly,
quickly and easily was to him troublesome, tedious and
burdensome"; a remark which he could not have made unless he was
attempting something in the way of the ancients; unless, moreover,
he was just setting about it; then he consoles himself by again
repeating his favourite sage old saw from Virgil: that "hard work
gets over everything":--"In quibusvis quoque rebus principia sunt
ardua et difficilia; ut quod antiquioribus in officio sit
jucundum, promptum ac leve, mihi sit molestum, tardum, onerosum.
Sed 'labor omnia vincit improbus'" (Ep. II. 5).

A month after this significant declaration he was hard at work
forging the Annals of Tacitus; for we find him earnestly plying
for books that were indispensable for any one writing the history
of the early Roman Emperors. In a letter to Niccoli dated Rome,
the 6th of November, 1423, he begs his friend to do all he can to
get him some map of Ptolemy's Geography; to bear it in mind in
case one should happen to fall in his way; also not to forget
Suetonius and the other historians, and, above all, Plutarch's
Lives of Illustrious Characters: "Vellem aliquam Chartam Ptolemaei
Geographiae, si fieri posset; in hoc cogita, si quid forte
inciderit; ac etiam Suetonium, aliosque Historicos, et praesertim
Plutarchi Viros Illustres non obliviscaris" (Ep. II. 7).

If it be said that Bracciolini wrote a History of Florence, and
that these remarks which, unquestionably, refer to some "history"
from the expression "describendi gesta illius," apply to that
work, it must be borne in mind that he did not write that history
until towards the close of his life, that is, more than thirty
years after these letters which passed between him and Niccoli,
for the events recorded in his History of Florence are carried
down to as late as the year 1455; that that historical work is the
only one he wrote under his own name; that it is no more written
in imitation of the ancients, than any other of his acknowledged
productions; and that even if it were, he would not have required
for its composition such maps as Ptolemy's, nor such works as
those of Suetonius and Plutarch. In fact, the most acute ingenuity
cannot rescue Bracciolini from the charge that in October 1423 he,
then resident in Rome, began to forge a work with the intention of
palming it off upon the world as written by an ancient Roman: as I
proceed I shall convincingly show that that ancient Roman was
Tacitus, and that that work was the Annals.



I. Doubts on the authenticity of the Latin, but not the Greek
Classics.--II. At the revival of letters Popes and Princes offered
large rewards for the recovery of the ancient classics.--III. The
labours of Bracciolini as a bookfinder.--IV. Belief put about by
the professional bookfinders that MSS. were soonest found in
obscure convents in barbarous lands.--V. How this reasoning throws
the door open to fraud and forgery.--VI. The bands of bookfinders
consisted of men of genius in every department of literature and
science.--VII. Bracciolini endeavours to escape from forging the
Annals by forging the whole lost History of Livy.--VIII. His
Letter on the subject to Niccoli quoted, and examined.--
IX. Failure of his attempt, and he proceeds with the forgery of
the Annals.

I. When we thus see Bracciolini setting to work in this quiet,
business-like manner to forge the Annals of Tacitus, as if it were
a general, common-place occurrence, a grave suspicion enters the
mind whether it was not a thing very ordinarily done in his day;
if so, whether we may not have a wholesale fabrication of the
Latin classics; which is very annoying to contemplate when we
remember the number of works we shall have to reject as not having
been written by ancient Romans but by modern Italians, of the
fifteenth, and possibly the close of the fourteenth centuries. The
suspicion becomes all the stronger with the fact before us that
the literature of the ancient Romans was totally extinguished in
Europe in the very opening centuries of the Christian aera; and
that their language would have been also lost had it not been
preserved till the age of Justinian (527-565) by the pleadings and
writings of the leading lawyers; after which it is generally
believed that it was continued to be preserved, along with the
literature of the ancient Romans, in the buildings founded by the
various monastic orders of Christians. Here again we are met by
another equally vexing circumstance, it being excessively
questionable whether monasteries ever really conserved, to any,
even the least extent, the interests of human knowledge. Monks
never had any love for learning; did not appreciate the volumes of
antiquity; in fact, could not read them; for the Latin was not
their Latin; and they are not likely to have preserved what they
did not appreciate and could not read: the libraries they founded
were for bibles, missals and prayer-books: the schools they
established were for teaching children to read the Testament and
prayer book, and to sing hymns and psalms, while the ancient
manuscripts they transcribed were, at best, the hagiological
productions of the Fathers of the Christian Church.

But even if the works of the ancient Romans were preserved by the
monks in their convent libraries, that was only till the approach
of the last quarter of the sixth century. Then came the dark
period of the conquest of Italy by the last swarm of the northern
barbarians from their native settlements in Pannonia: Italy
continued under the iron yoke of the dominion of these illiterate
Lombards till their final overthrow towards the commencement of
the last quarter of the eighth century by the great conqueror,
warrior, Christian and devoted admirer of learning, Charlemagne:
during that period literature became entirely extinguished, for in
all the vigour and savage freedom of their fresh and unworn
barbarism these Pannonian dunces were as diligent for two whole
centuries (568-774) in demolishing monasteries and destroying
books as in levelling fortresses and ravaging cities. For six
centuries after, a confused assemblage of different races of
boors, Franks, Normans and Saracens, occupied Italy; they cared
not a fig for knowledge; they did not know what a book was, for
they did not know the alphabet, engaged as they were, like those
kindred spirits in after ages, the Ioways, Mohicans and
Ojibbeways, in perpetual wars and bloodshed: all this time the
light of literature never once broke in upon the scene: at length
traces of it were discerned in the revival of learning during the
age of Petrarch and the Father of modern Italian prose, Boccaccio,
in the middle of the fourteenth century. Thus for eight hundred
years there was a moral eclipse of all that was excellent in human
knowledge in Italy and the whole West of Europe.

Fortunately there was no such middle age of darkness in Greece:
there the light of science and literature remained unextinguished:
the knowledge of the works of antiquity was cultivated in the East
with enthusiasm; and while we may be confident that we possess the
works of all those high and gifted spirits who adorned that bright
period which extends from Homer and Hesiod to Plato and Aristotle,
and again the works of all those Greeks who flourished from the
death of Alexander the Great to the death of Augustus Caesar, the
brightest of whom were Menander, Theocritus, Polybius, Strabo, and
a gorgeous array of philosophers, sophists and rhetoricians, we
can be by no means sure that we have the real works of the Roman
classics; there must even be the gravest doubt as to the
probability; for, though during the close of the fourteenth
century, throughout the fifteenth, and at the commencement of the
sixteenth, books purporting to be of their writing were constantly
being recovered, it was invariably under distressingly suspicious
circumstances; exactly the Roman author that was wanted turned up;
and always for a certainty that Roman author for whom the highest
price had been offered; the monastery was rarely famous, seldom in
Italy, but obscure and situated in a barbarous country; the
discoverer, too, was not, as is generally supposed, an ignorant,
unlettered monk or friar, who could not read what he found, and
who could not, therefore be suspected of having forged what he
stated he had discovered; it was invariably a most cultured
scholar, nay, a man of the very highest literary attainments, an
exquisitely accomplished writer, to boot; a "Grammaticus,"
forsooth, who possessed a masterly and critical knowledge of the
Latin language.

II. The unlettered gloom in which Italy had been immersed for ages
was effectually dissipated by the great number of learned and
illustrious Greeks who took refuge in the West of Europe, in order
to escape from Ottoman Power long before the fall of
Constantinople. On account of their enlightenment, literature
revived in Florence, Venice and Rome; it speedily spread from the
Cities of the Great Merchants and of the Popes into the provincial
and inferior towns; thus Italy was the first country in the West
where good taste, enlightened views, and generous emulation in the
sciences and the fine arts took the place of the ignorance, the
avarice and the venality which for centuries had held sole sway in
that civilized portion of the world. Princes and nobles vied with
Popes and Cardinals in the restoration of letters; and now the
best way for a man to advance himself was to show a desire for the
promotion of letters; above all, for the discovery of manuscripts
of the ancient classics, which, when long looked for, and not
found, were usually,--from the too tempting reward, which was a
fortune,--forged by some unscrupulous "Grammaticus," or writer of

III. At the commencement of the fifteenth century, a little band
of men lived in Rome: some were Apostolic Secretaries; all were
famous for their abilities; five were scholars endowed with
sterling talents, Antonio Lusco Cincio de Rustici, Leonardo Bruni,
and two others from Florence, Bracciolini, and Dominici, afterwards
Cardinal Archbishop of Ragusa. (Pog. Vita p. 180 from Joannes Baptista
Poggius in Orat. Card. Capranicae (Miscell. Ballutii Tom. 3.) They
were all friends; and their delight was, like their masters, the Popes,
to retire in summer from the heat of Rome into the cool air of the
Campagna; there, after a frugal repast, they held discourse daily,
like men of mind, on a variety of engaging topics: "sumus saepius
una confabulantes variis de rebus," says Bracciolini in a letter
to Francesco Marescalcho of Ferrara (Op. Pog. 307), and continues:
"incidit inter nos sermo de viris doctis et eloquentibus." Thus

    "Oft unwearied did they spend the nights,
    Till the Ledaean stars, so famed for love,
    Wondered at them from above--
    They spent them not in toys, or lust, or wine;
    But search of deep philosophy,
    Wit, eloquence, and poetry,
    Arts which they loved."

Of these men, the most extraordinary for superlative qualifications,
and, apparently that inseparable companion of the highest order of
genius, indefatigable energy, was Bracciolini. Muratori, in his
"Annali d'Italia" (anno 1459) speaks of him as "letterato insigne
di questi tempi," and, as leaving behind him when he died on the
30th of October, 1459, "molte opere e gran nome" (Vol. XIII. 481).

When Bracciolini first joined the Papal Court, Guarino of Verona,
Aurispa and Filelfo were making continuous voyages to Greece in
order to fetch home manuscripts of Greek authors yet unknown in
Italy; at this time were found and first brought to the West of
Europe the poems of Callimachus, Pindar, Oppian and Orpheus; the
Commentaries of Aristarchus on the Iliad; the works of Plato,
Proclus, Plotinus, Xenophon and Lucian; the Histories of Arrian,
Cassius Dio, and Diodorus Siculus; the Geography of Strabo;
Procopius and some of the Byzantine historians; Gregory of
Nazianzen, Chrysostom, and other Greek Fathers of the Church. In
emulation of these men Bracciolini and a band of bookfinders,
assisted and rewarded by the wealth of Princes and Popes, went up
and down the countries of Europe to find manuscripts of the
ancient works of the Romans that were supposed to be lost; and it
is generally believed that the republic of letters is more
indebted to him than to anybody else of his manuscript finding age
for the numerous books that were found, and which without such
timely recovery we are given to understand, from the decaying
state of the manuscript and the pernicious place where it was
lighted on, would very soon, in almost every instance, have been
irrecoverably lost.

When Bracciolini accompanied the Papal Court in the capacity of
Secretary to the Council of Constance in 1414, he, one day, went
with two friends, Cincio, the Roman gentleman and scholar of
fortune, of the family de Rustici, and the eminent schoolman and
finished writer Bartolommeo de Montepulciano to the monastery of
St. Gall about twenty miles distant from Constance for the purpose
of finding new manuscripts; his companions found Lactantius, "De
Utroque Homine," Vitruvius on Architecture and the Grammar of
Priscian, while he himself found, in addition to the Commentaries
of Asconius Pedianus on eight of Cicero's Orations,--the three
first books, and half of the fourth of the Argonauticon of
Valerius Flaccus. On this discovery being communicated to
Francesco Barbaro, the latter in his reply spoke of other
discoveries of Bracciolini's, of some of which we have no account
as to where they were found, nor when, except before 1414:
Tertullian, Lucretius, Silius Italicus, Ammianus Marcelinus,
Manilius (his unfinished poem on "Astronomy," clearly a forgery),
Lucius Septimius Caper, Eutychius and Probus; and, adds Barbaro,
"many others,"--"complures alios," among which Aulus Gellius may
be included. All these were found not by Bracciolini alone, but
always in the company of very remarkable characters, and more
frequently than any other, Bartolommeo de Montepulciano, of whom
nothing is known, except that he was a splendid scholar, and great
bookfinder, or forger (the terms are synonymous), and that he
resided in Rome in a pleasant villa situated near the Lateran
Church (Pog. Op. p. 2).

In the oration which he delivered over the remains of his friend
Niccoli (Op. 272) Bracciolini says that he found in French and
German monasteries, besides Quintilian, Silius Italicus, and part
of the poem of Lucretius, some orations of Cicero and Nonius
Marcellus. In his Treatise "de Infelicitate Principum" (p. 394),
and in one of his Letters (II. 7), he mentions having found
Cicero's Orations along with Columella in the Monastery of Cluny
in the Maconnois district of Burgundy; he gives the number of the
Orations of Cicero, which were eight (Ep. IV. 2), and which are
generally supposed to have been those for Caecina, Rubirius and
Roscius, against Rullus and Lucius Piso, and those relating to the
Agrarian Laws. He also found Cicero's two treatises De Legibus and
De Finibus. In his Descriptio Ruinarum Urbis Romae he states that
he found in the Monastery of Monte Casino, near Naples, Frontinus
on the Aqueducts of Rome, and it was, as we know from one of his
letters (III. 37), in July 1429. The Abbé Méhus, in the preface to
his edition of the works of Traversari, adds that he found the
eight books of the Mathematics of Firmicus, which is confirmed by
himself (Ep. III. 37). While in England he recovered the poems of
Julius Calpurnicus who wrote pastorals in the reign of the Emperor
Carus; he also lighted in the monasteries on part of Petronius
Arbiter (Ep. IV. 3), also part of Statius, and book XV. in Cologne
in 1423 (ib.); six years after he found the following twelve plays
of Plautus: Bacchides, Mostellaria, Mercator, Miles Gloriosus,
Pseudolus, Poenulus, Persa, Rudens, Stichus, Trinummus and
Truculentus. In fact, he was occupied nearly all his days, as long
as he was in the vigour of life, in traversing Germany and other
lands in search of ancient manuscripts, which he recovered in
monasteries at different times and in different places; nor was he
to be deterred from these toils, which have been likened to the
labours of Hercules, by any stress of weather, length of journey
or badness of roads.

IV.--The account which he gives in his Dialogue "De Infelicitate
Principum," while dwelling upon a custom of his of going from one
country to another in far distant and barbarous parts for Latin
books, opens our eyes to a very strange state of belief which
obtained at the beginning of the fifteenth century with respect to
the refined works of the ancients;--that, because a number of
these manuscripts were discovered by him, and his band of
bookfinders, in obscure monasteries in barbarous countries, there
was to be deduced therefrom a definite conclusion that many more
were to be discovered in that way; and that this conclusion was so
firmly lodged in the minds of men it prevented Popes and Princes
from continuing to offer that pecuniary aid and those other
rewards which they had been for a long time in the habit of
tendering for the recovery of such manuscripts:--"When these,"
says he in the above-mentioned treatise, "had been brought to
light by him, and when the very sanguine and certain hope was held
forth of more being found, never after that did either a Pope or a
Prince give the slightest attention or assistance to the recovery
of those most illustrious men out of the convents of barbarians:"--
"haec cum ab eo fuissent in lucem edita, cumque uberior et certa
spes proposita esset ampliora inveniendi, nunquam postea aut
pontifex aut princeps vel minimum operae aut auxilii adhibuit ad
liberandos praeclarissimos illos viros ex ergastulis barbarorum"
(p. 393). This statement is so remarkably curious that it requires
a little consideration.

We can easily understand how the valuable works of the Greeks and
Romans, from the importance attached to them and the appreciation
in which they were held, were safest and longest preserved in
their respective countries, and that, therefore, they could have
been found, sooner than elsewhere, in Greece and Italy; but after
those countries had been thoroughly ransacked, it is not so clear
to comprehend how it should follow that their works were to be
just as rapidly and easily found in other, and those barbarous
countries, nay, indeed, more rapidly and more easily. To put this
forth was to endeavour to prepare people's minds for the numbers
of discoveries that were made, or, perhaps, more properly,
pretended to be made in foreign parts. It was, in fact, to pursue
this course of reasoning:--If those works had remained in
civilized hands, centuries would not have elapsed without the
world being cognizant of their existence; the learned could not
have lost sight of them; the select few would have transmitted
copies from generation to generation; but when they passed into
the possession of unlettered men living in barbarous countries,
they would then be altogether hidden from view; such people would
treat them as swine treat pearls; spurn them; not keep them in
libraries, but throw them away as useless lumber into cellars,
pits, dark holes, dirty passages, dry wells; fling them away as
refuse into dustbins or upon dungheaps. Nearly as much says
Bracciolini by these shadowy phrases: "in darkness"; "in a blind
dungeon"; "in a dirty dungeon;" "in dismal dungeons," and "in many
dens," as for instance, "for the sake of finding books that were
kept by them in their convents shut up _in darkness_ and
_in a blind dungeon_" (Op. 393)--"He had rescued renowned
authors out of _the dismal dungeons_ in which, against their
will and without being used, they had been kept concealed (for
they were shut up in _many a den_ and _foul dungeon_" (ib.):--
"in tenebris"; "carcere caeco"; "foedo carcere"; "diris
carceribus," and "multis vinculis," e.g.:--"librorum
perquirendorum gratia, qui in ergastulis apud illos reclusi
detinentur _in tenebris_, et _carcere caeco_" (Op. 393)--
"Autores praeclaros ... _ex diris carceribus_ quibus inviti
obsoletique opprimuntur eruisset (sunt enim _multis vinculis_
et _foedo carcere_ abstrusi" (ib.). Books thrown away in such
places must be regarded, when recovered, as found by the purest
accident; hence it was at once comprehensible how they had
remained unknown to the world for hundreds of years; for who would
think of looking for books in such places?

Yet it was precisely in such places that Bracciolini and his
companions looked for the books that they wanted; what is still
stranger, they always found in such queer places the exact books
they were in search of. It was so, for example, when they
recovered the books in the monastery of St. Gall; the books were
not found where, Bracciolini admits, they ought to have been, on
account of their excellence, on the shelves of the library, but
where slugs and toads are more frequently looked for and found
than books and manuscripts, in an exceedingly dirty and dark
dungeon at the bottom of a tower and one of these books,
Quintilian, though described as "sound and safe," is also
described as being "saturated with moisture and begrimed with
mire," as if it had been made dirty expressly for the occasion of
the recovery: "Quintilianum comperimus, adhuc salvum et incolumem,
plenum tamen situ et pulvere squalentem. Erant non in bibliotheca
libri illi, ut eorum dignitas postulabat, sed in teterrimo quodam
et obscuro carcere, fundo scilicet unius turris." (From a letter
of Bracciolini to Guarino of Verona, preserved in St. Paul's
Library, Leipzic--printed at the end of Poggiana, and dated Jan. 1,

V. This kind of reasoning, when admitted, throws the door open to
fraud and forgery; but it cannot be admitted, because it is
fallacious in reality, sound in appearance only, as will be seen
by only putting a few natural questions:--How came these books
into such places? Who took them from Italy, Greece, or other
enlightened parts of the globe? If some learned monk, made abbot
or prior of a convent of Germany or Hungary? or some equally
learned priest sent as bishop to christianize the heathen in still
more barbarous lands in the North in a far distant age, why should
succeeding monks, fonder, be it granted, of ploughing and reaping
than reading and writing, treat as refuse books which, though not
deemed by them of any value, as far as their own tastes and
inclinations were concerned, they, nevertheless, knew were held in
the very highest esteem by the studious in more civilized parts;
and that these studious people, understanding the language in
which they were written, and considering their contents most
precious, would willingly give in exchange for them at any time
not large, but enormous sums of money?

These are questions that cannot be answered with satisfaction:
they seem to give the highest colouring of truth to what has been
suggested, that there was a wholesale forgery of these books; and
one is almost inclined to give Father Hardouin credit, for being
quite right, when he expressed as his belief that, perhaps, not
more than two or three of the ancient Latin classics were really
written by the old Romans. [Endnote 208]

VI. The clause in the passage just quoted from the "De
Infelicitate Principum":--"never after" (Bracciolini had found a
great many books abroad, in Germany and elsewhere) "did either a
Pope or a Prince give the slightest attention or assistance
towards the recovery of those most illustrious men out of the
convents of barbarians."--"nunquam postea aut Pontifex aut
Princeps vel minimum operae aut auxilii adhibuit ad liberandos
praeclarissimos illos viros ex ergastulis barbarorum," shows that
before the time of Bracciolini the custom prevailed of valuable
assistance and large money rewards being given by Popes and
Princes for the recovery of ancient classics; and therefore
confirms what was stated in the first portion of this inquiry that
the custom was not confined to the age of Leo X., but ranged back
to, at least, a hundred, if not, half as many more years. In that
way men, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, made large
fortunes. In that way Bracciolini made his.

The finding of any ancient Latin MSS. was a distinct profession in
those days, and Bracciolini may be said to have studied the art,
of which he was one of the greatest experts, so carefully, and to
have practised it with such ability and diligence as to have
elevated it into a science. Many enterprising scholars before him
had devoted themselves with indefatigable perseverance to
traversing, sometimes singly, but more frequently in bands of two,
three, or more, Italy, Greece, Spain, and the more civilized
countries of Europe for the purpose of ransacking,--or pretending
to ransack,--the shelves of convent libraries of their treasures.
As scarcely anything was more profitable than searching for MSS.,--
particularly when it was certain that, after the looking for,
they would be found, if not of the particular authors wanted, yet
of others that would repay for the searching;--and as Emperors and
Popes, Kings, Princes, Cardinals, Ministers and Bishops paid
fabulous prices for the literary treasures of ancient Rome,
Bracciolini improved upon this plan by extending the area of
search into the woods of Germany, the wildernesses of Bohemia and
Hungary, and the not then over civilized fastnesses and forests of
England and marshes and bogs of France: the great thing with him
and his companions was, when they could not find, to forge; all
they had to ascertain was simply which ancient Roman was
particularly wanted and would fetch the highest price; and as the
band consisted of men of genius of different tastes or faculties,--
poetical, historical or narrative, philosophical, grammatical or
critical, and scientific or mathematical, if the reward was
sufficiently munificent to pay for the time and labour, the highly
valued work that was wanted, no matter to what department of
literature or science it belonged, was sure to turn up, sooner or
later; and if the man who was to forge was not in the proper mood
of inspiration for the business, some other fabricated writer was
put forward on the ground that he was quite equivalent in merit to
the author that was desiderated, as when a thief or other vagabond
is wanted by a London Detective, he is certain to turn up in due
time, and if not the actual delinquent, at any rate somebody else
as bad, who serves equally well for the culprit.

VII. Bracciolini now engaged in forging an addition to the History
of Tacitus, impelled to it from his intolerable and restless
passion for the acquisition of a fortune, greater even than his
constantly increasing avidity for knowledge, soon saw that it was
a task beset by enormous difficulties; nay, difficulties of an
apparently insuperable nature. We have no record that he was aware
of this; but we require no record to know it; his proceedings
pointed to it: We have already speculated as to the reasons which
must have induced him to forge the Annals so strangely as he did,
but before those reasons could have entered his mind, they must
have been preceded by others: it is to be presumed that he
endeavoured, in the first instance, to continue the History of
Tacitus, as Tacitus himself would have continued it, by following
up the history of Domitian with that of Nerva; but the few
materials that were left rendered it impossible for him to record
the events in that Emperor's reign on the broad and expansive plan
adopted by Tacitus, which was to spread out the events of one year
so that they should fill four lengthy books. He therefore gave up
the notion as utterly impracticable; but in trying to get out of
the forgery of the Annals he suggested another scheme of
fabrication just as audacious, and which he seems to have imagined
would have been just as remunerative.

Two months after he had written for Ptolemy's maps, Plutarch's
Lives, and the works of Suetonius and other historians of the
first Roman Emperors, he addressed another letter to his
Florentine friend, Niccoli, dated the 8th of January, 1424, in
which he hinted at no less a forgery than the whole of Livy's
History, and if circumstances had been favourable to it, we should
have, doubtless, had a composition so like the original,--even so
much more like than even what was afterwards honourably and
admirably done by Freinshemius,--as to have defied detection. His
statement was that a learned Goth, who had been a great traveller,
had told him he had seen the Ten Decades of Livy's History in the
Cistercian Abbey of Sora, near Roschild, about a day's journey
from Lubeck. He wrote in the highest spirits, as gay as a
butterfly, as playful as a kitten, and as light as a balloon; he
implored his friend to lose no time in seeking out Cosmo de Medici
and get his consent for the finding of these volumes, which he
described as written in two large, oblong volumes in Lombard
characters. He added that the man who had brought the news was not
to be relied upon, yet he wished to believe him in a matter "out
of which coin could be made to such an amount as to be absolutely
incredible,"--"ex qua tantum lucrum fieri posset, quam esse omnino
incredulus" (Ep. II. 9).

He wished it to be further communicated to Leonardo Bruni who had
just been appointed Chancellor of the Republic of Florence, in
hopes, no doubt, that Bruni would further the scheme by money
assistance; he also wrote about it to Leonello d'Este;--all which
eagerness on his part with respect to forging the lost books of
Livy can be easily accounted for, when, in exchange for a mere
copy of Livy's imperfect history he got from Beccadelli of
Bologna, the minister of King Alphonso I. of Arragon, a sum
sufficient wherewith to purchase a landed estate:--"Poggio
vendette un codice di Tito Livio per acquistarsi un podere, e il
Panormita vendette un podere per acquistare il codice di Tito
Livio" (Corniani, tom. II. p. 122). Although, for the purpose of
making a statement with a telling or striking effect, these are
the words of Count Corniani in his "I Secoli della Letteratura
Italiana," it was not exactly "a farm" that was taken and given by
the accepter and disposer of a manuscript copy of Livy; Count
Corniani himself is immediately his own contradicter by quoting in
a note a passage from one of Beccadelli's Letters (Lib. V.), to
the effect that the "farm" in Bracciolini's case was a "villa at
Florence," as Beccadelli thus wrote to King Alphonso: "But I also
want to know who in your judgment acted wiser, Poggio or myself;
he, that he might buy a _villa at Florence_, sold a Livy
which he had written with his own hand and was a most beautiful
copy; I, that I might buy a Livy, sold a farm by auction":--"Sed
et illud a prudentia tua scire desidero, uter ego an Poggius
melius fecerit: is ut _Villam Florentiae_ emerit, Livium
vendidit, quem sua manu pulcherrimus scripserat; ego ut Livium
emam, fundum proscripsi." If Bracciolini could get so much for an
incomplete copy of Livy's History, what might he not hope to get
for a complete one? Imagination wanders into the realms of fairy.
I am confident that if he had received the requisite encouragement
from Niccolo Niccoli, or Leonardo Bruni, or Cosmo de Medici, or
that munificent patron of letters, Leonello d' Este, afterwards
that enormously wealthy prince, the Marquis of Ferrara, and had
undertaken the task, he would have been more successful as an
imitator of Livy than he proved himself to be (marvellous though
he was) as an imitator of Tacitus. The genius of Livy, and also of
Sallust, was more in accord with his own than the staid majestic
coldness and the solemn curt sententiousness of Tacitus. Indeed,
he was such a devoted admirer of Livy and Sallust, that he reminds
the reader of them throughout his History of Florence; in the
Annals, too, he goes out of his way to lavish praises upon them,
and upon them only of all the Roman historians: he speaks of
Sallust as the "finest writer of Roman history": and of Livy, as
"famous, above others, for eloquence and fidelity":--"Caius
Sallustius, rerum Romanarum florentissimus auctor" (III. 30):--
"Titus Livius, eloquentiae ac fidei praeclarus in primis" (IV.
34). Tacitus nowhere expresses such very lofty opinions of his,
two fellow and rival historians; on the contrary, he does not seem
to have so thoroughly approved their style and manner; at any
rate, he carefully avoided their mode of treating history. It is
true that in his Agricola he speaks well of Livy, but at the same
time he places Fabius Rusticus exactly upon the same level with
him:--for he says "that Livy among the ancients, and Fabius
Rusticus among the modern authors were the most eloquent": "Livius
veterum, Fabius Rusticus recentium, eloquentissimi auctores" (10);
he, therefore, never could have spoken of Livy, as Bracciolini
speaks of him in the Annals, as "famous, _above others,_"--
"praeclarus _in primis_." This is another of those little
slips of Bracciolini's, which, without question, at once, bring
his forgery to light.

VIII. After these remarks, it cannot but be highly interesting to
the reader if I now place before him the whole of the very
remarkable, and what should be ever-memorable letter about the
contemplated forgery of Livy, not only for the subject on which it
touches, but as exhibiting Bracciolini in his most playful, and,
it may also be added, most roguish mood:--

"A learned man who is a Goth in race, and has travelled over a
great part of the world, has been here; he is a man of a good
understanding, but unreliable. He said that he had seen the X.
Decades of Livy, in two big and oblong volumes written in Lombard
characters, and there was on the title page of one volume a note
that the codex contained the ten decades of Titus Livy, and that
he had read some parts of these volumes. This he asserts with an
air of truth that commands belief; he told the same tale to
Cardinal Orsini, and to many more, and to all in the very same
words, so that I think this is no fib of his. What more do you
want? This statement of his, and his serious countenance, cause me
to give some credence to him. For it is a very good thing to be
misled in a matter of this kind, out of which coin can be made to
such an amount as to be absolutely incredible. Therefore I have
wanted to write to you about this, that you may talk over it with
Cosmo, and anxiously set to work for these volumes to be searched
for; it will be an easy job for you. The books are in the
Monastery at Sora that belongs to the Cistercian Order, about two
German miles from Roschild, that is, a little more than a day's
journey from Lubeek. Prick up your ears, Pamphilus. Two volumes
big, oblong, in Lombard characters, are in the monastery at Sora
that belongs to the Cistercian Order, about two German miles from
Roschild, and to be reached from Lubeek in two days or so. See
then that Cosmo writes as soon as possible to Gherard de Bueri,
for him to betake himself there when he has the opportunity,--aye,
betake himself at once to the Monastery. For if this is true, it
will be a triumph over the Dacians. The Cardinal will send
somebody there, or commission a person to start post-haste. I
don't want such a big pill as this to slip out of our own throats;
therefore, be on the stir, look alive, and don't sleep over it.
For this is just what the man has stated, and though he might seem
to talk too fast, yet there is no reason why he should tell an
impudent lie, especially as he can gain nothing by telling lies.
Therefore, I, who am such a sort of man as scarcely to believe
what I see, am induced to think that this is not entirely false,
and in a matter of this kind it is a proper thing to be deceived.
Run then to Cosmo,--press him,--importune him to make an advance
for these books to be brought to you safe and sharp. Adieu. Rome,
the 8th of January, 1424. What you do, mind you let me know. In
haste. Tell this to our Chancellor, Leonardo. In that monastery
nearly all the kings of the Dacians are buried:"--

"Venit huc quidam doctus homo natione Gothus, qui peragravit
magnam partem orbis; homo quidem est ingenio acuto, sed
inconstans. Idem retulit se vidisse X. decades Livii, duobus
voluminibus magnis, et oblongis, scriptas litteris Longobardis, et
in titulo esse unius voluminis, in eo contineri decem decades Titi
Livii, seque legisse nonnulla in iis voluminibus. Hoc ita verum
esse asserit, ut credi possit; retulit hoc Cardinali de Ursinis,
multisque praeterea, et omnibus eisdem verbis, ut opinor, non esse
haec ab eo conficta. Quid quaeris? Facit assertio sua, et constans
vultus, ut credam aliquid. Melius est enim peccare in hanc partem,
ex qua tantum lucrum fieri posset, quam esse omnino incredulus.
Itaque volui hoc ad te scribere, ut loquaris cum Cosmo, desque
solicite operam, ut haec volumina quaerantur; nam facile erit
vobis. Libri sunt in Monasterio de Sora, ordinis Cisterciensium,
prope Roschild ad duo milliaria theutonica, hoc est, prope Lubich
paulo amplius quam est iter diei unius. Arrige aures, Pamphile.
Duo sunt volumina, magna, oblonga, litteris Longobardis, in
Monasterio de Sora, ordinis Cisterciensium, prope Roschild, ad duo
milliaria theutonica, quo adiri potest a Lubich biduo amplius.
Cura ergo, ut Cosmus scribat quam primum diligenter ad Gherardum
de Bueris, ut, si opus sit, ipse eo se conferat; imo omnino se
conferat ad Monasterium. Nam si hoc verum est, triumphandum erit
de Dacis. Cardinalis mittet illuc nescio quem, aut committet uni
propediem discessuro. Nollem hunc tantum bolum de faucibus nostris
cadere; itaque matura, ac diligenter; ne dormias. Nam haec vir
ille ita affirmavit, ut quamvis verbosior videretur, tamen nulla
esset causa, cur ita impudenter mentiretur, praesertim nullo
proposito mentiendi praemio. Ego igitur ille, qui vix credo quae
video, adducor, ut hoc non omnino esse falsum putem, et hac una in
re honestum est falli. Tu igitur curre, insta, preme Cosmum, ut
aliquid expendat, quo litterae cito tutae deferantur. Vale. Romae
die VIII. Januarii 1424. Quid autem egeritis, cura, ut sciam. Manu
veloci. Dicas haec Leonardo nostro Cancellario. In eo monasterio
omnes fere Dacorum reges sepeliuntur." (Lib. II. Ep. 9.)

I cannot pass away from this singular letter without some comment.
It is very certain that there never was known to have been any
such copy of Livy in the Monastery of Sora, though Tiraboschi, who
is simple enough to believe in the sincerity of Bracciolini,
speaks of these volumes as having shared the same fate as other
manuscripts, that is, being lost:--"questo si raro codice ha avuta
la stessa sorte degli altri" (Vol. I. p. 452 n.). We may be
assured that the "two big, oblong volumes" never had an
existence:--the two volumes, like Sir John Falstaff's men in
buckram, increase in number in the telling, for in a subsequent
letter addressed by Bracciolini to Leonello d'Este, the "two"
become "THREE": what is more, the learned Goth's "serious
statement" is "a sacred oath"; the "Lombard characters" are
intermixed with some "Gothic" ones, and "another person" is found
who declares that he has also seen the whole of the Decades of
Livy:--"Nicolaus quidam, natione Gothus ... _sancte juravit_
esse ... TRIA praegrandia volumina, et oblonga, conscripta literis
Longobardis et nonnullis praeterea _Gothicis_ intermixtis ...
nunc quoque _alius testis_ horum librorum reperiatur, qui se
quoque decades omnes vidisse asseveret" (Pog. Ep. XXX., post lib.
De Variet. Fortun.). After this one is almost inclined to exclaim
with Shakespeare's Prince Hal: "Prithee, let him alone: we shall
have more anon." Where there is such inconsistency in the putting
of a statement, the account looks uncommonly like a figment. We
may be equally sure that the learned Goth never had an existence,
any more than the "two" volumes, or the "three" volumes; (for,
with the different statements, it is difficult to determine their
number), nor, consequently, can there be any truth about the
communication made by the Goth to Cardinal Orsini, and many

It will have been observed also that Bracciolini himself insists
on the probable myth of the whole tale; the learned Goth is
"unreliable"; he maintains that he is "telling no fib";
Bracciolini doubts himself whether what he hears is "true," but he
can "see no reason why the man should lie": thus repeatedly in a
very short letter he strongly suspects the veracity of the story--
he only believes it because he wishes to believe it.

The whole thing was trumped up by himself for a very obvious
reason: he wanted to ascertain whether Cosmo de' Medici (or any
other rich man) would give money (in fact, a fortune,) for the
recovered portion of the whole History of Livy: that being
ascertained, he had his own scheme of further procedure; he kept
that to himself; it has died with him, and, never having been
revealed, it can only be divined:--my conjecture (looking at the
character of Bracciolini) is that he would have played upon the
credulity of Cosmo de' Medici, Leonardo Bruni, Leonello d'Este (or
any other man whom he could have duped) till he had had time,
which would have been years, to forge what he would have continued
to assert, until the completion of the forgery, was in existence
somewhere in Germany, a mistake only having been made by the
"learned Goth" as to the name and site of the monastery. Hence his
speaking of that imaginary individual as "unreliable,"--or
whatever else he may mean by "inconstans,"--a word that he uses to
denote a man who might fall into mistakes, as, for example, in not
recollecting the exact name or precise situation of a monastery,
but who could not possibly err as to the nature of a book which he
had seen, handled, opened and read, and had learning to understand
what he read.

IX. Notwithstanding the enthusiasm and energy, as well as the
craft and force, with which he laid the foundation for its
acceptance, nothing came of this grand determination--this
indirect proposal of his to produce by imposture the whole lost
portion of the history of Livy; so whether he liked it or not, if
he wanted to get a sum equivalent in these days to a little
fortune of £10,000 at the least, he had to return to the
fabrication of the Annals of Tacitus; and get through the
ungrateful task as best he could. So, "hanging down his ears," as
Horace says,

    "ut iniquae mentis asellus,
    Cum gravius dorso subiit onus,"

he steadily set to work in the January of 1424, with a patient
soul and an iron will to the completion of the dolorous drudgery
from which he had ascertained to his sorrow there was no escape.

All went on for months,--for years in silence and secresy, as the
case always is when mischief is brewing. Upwards of three years
and a half thus elapsed; then the low and hidden rumblings of the
volcano were again heard; once more vague and mysterious
utterances with respect to Tacitus passed in their correspondence
between Bracciolini and Niccoli. Two years,--or nearly that time,--
again passed: then followed the pangs of labour from the womb of
forgery: through the hands of Bracciolini came a hitherto
thoroughly unknown MS. of Tacitus, which he said had been brought
to him by a monk from a far distant convent in the easternmost
corner of Saxony, on the borders of Bohemia; (the reader will be
pleased to observe not "Hungary" although the country adjacent to
it;--so circumstances shift and vary, in the lapse of years, and
owing to the inconstancy of men's intentions). The new codex was
an affair at once startling and gratifying: it was such a triumph
over darkness in the progress of knowledge that it rivalled a
conquest over the Dacians in the march of civilization: for the
first time it brought to light as the opening portion of the
History of Tacitus what are now known as "The Last Six Books of
the Annals." These I shall now endeavour to point out were the
handiwork of Bracciolini, to whose wondrous power of assimilating
his literary abilities to those of another I must pay this just
tribute;--that in those six books of the Annals he mastered the
simplicity, though he came far short of the elegance of Tacitus.




    Quum itaque multa ex Taciti operibus deessent, ut Nicoli
    voluntati morem gereret Poggius, nil omisit intentatum, ut per
    Monachum nescio quem è Germania Tacitum erueret.
     MEHUS, _Praefat. ad Lat. Epistol. Traversarii._



I. The audacity of the forgery accounted for by the mean opinion
Bracciolini had of the intelligence of men.--II. The character and
tone of the last Six Books of the Annals exemplified by what is
said of Sabina Poppaea, Sagitta, Pontia and Messalina.--III. A few
errors that must have proceeded from Bracciolini about the
Colophonian Oracle of Apollo Clarius, the Household Gods of the
Germans, Gotarzes, Bardanes and, above all, Nineveh.--IV. The
estimate taken of human nature by the writer of the Annals the
same as that taken by Bracciolini.--V. The general depravity of
mankind as shown in the Annals insisted upon in Bracciolini's
Dialogue "De Infelicitate Principum".

I. There is a great difference between the first six books of the
Annals and the last six books; the latter portion is more historical,
and less biographical than the first portion: there is an obvious
attempt to assimilate it as closely as possible to the work of
Tacitus; and any material difference in the character of the two
productions is not to be detected at a superficial glance.
Hence many most intelligent readers are led astray in believing
that the Annals and the History of Tacitus proceeded from the same
hand, from not sufficiently bearing in mind that whatever a
history may be, the general character must always be the same;
plots and intrigues being alike, as well as stratagems and
revolutions; also persons and passions: the reason is clear: man
ever remains the same, affording the same examples of virtues and
vices, and carrying on wars in the same way, according to interest
and ambition, while the most important events in which he plays a
part resemble in having their origin from trivial causes, as
rivers, even the mightiest, take their source from insignificant

But while nobody discerns any such material difference in the
character of the Annals and the History of Tacitus as to be struck
with wonder, everybody is filled with amazement at there being in
the two works two such very different conceptions of historical
composition. In the History only full light is thrown on important
events and leading characters: that this may shine the brighter
every common action is thrown into the shade, and every small
individual passed over unmentioned. But the pages in the last six
books of the Annals are crowded with incidents, great and small,
and figures, good, bad and indifferent. Contrary also to Tacitus,
who disposes materials in a just order, arranging those together
that refer to the same thing at different times, the writer of the
Annals speaks of cognate things, that should be associated,
separately, as they occur from year to year, thus reducing his
narrative from the height of a general history to the level of a
mere diary.

The audacity of the forgery is here something absolutely
marvellous;--and it never would have been attempted by any one who
was not made of the stuff of Bracciolini: it was the stuff that
makes a forger: anyone with proper appreciation of men's
intelligence would not have dared to do this; but, instead of
regarding the majority of his kind as sagacious, or even more so
than they are, and knowing much, or more than they do,--as is the
case with well-disposed people,--Bracciolini, who was far from
being of a benevolent nature, fell into the very opposite extreme,
of looking upon men as remarkably stupid and ignorant. Nothing is
more common than meeting in his works with contemptuous
disparagements of his kind; he scoffs at human nature for its
deficiency of understanding; he does not hesitate decrying its
want of thought, as in his Essay "De Miseriâ Humanae Conditionis":
"we must at times recollect," says he, "that we are men, silly
and shallow in our nature":--"aliquando nos esse homines meminerimus,
hoc est, imbecillis fragilisque naturae" (p. 130); or, "I admit
the silliness of mankind to be great": "fateor--magnam esse humani
generis imbecillitatem" (p. 90); or, "Knowledge is cultivated
by a few on account of the general stupidity": "quoniam communi
stultitia a paucis virtus colitur" (p. 9l): pretty well this for
one work. Then opening his "Historia Disceptativa Convivalis,"
the reader lights on him sneering at the "shallowness and silliness
of his age":--"haec fragilis atque imbecilla aetas" (p. 32). As in
his elaborate and carefully conned works, so in his Epistles thrown
off on the spur of the moment,--as when he is inviting his friend
Bartolomeo Fazio to stay with him in Florence, he continues: "Though
I have lived in this city now for a great many years, from my youth
upwards, yet every day as if a fresh resident I am overcome with
amazement at the number of the remarkable objects, and very often
am roused to enthusiasm at the sight of those public buildings which
fools, from the stupidity of their understandings, speak of as erected
by supernatural beings":--"quamvis in ea jam pluribus annis ab ipsa
juventute fuerim versatus, tamen quotidie tamquam novus incola
tantarum rerum admiratione obstupesco, recreoque persaepe animum
visu eorum aedificiorum, quae stulti propter ingenii imbecillitatem
a daemonibus facta dicunt" (Ep. IX. Bartol. Facii Epist. p. 79, Flor.
Ed. 1745).

II. With such a low notion of men's intelligence and the stupidity
of his age (though it was a clever one,--at least, so far as Italy
was concerned, the country of which he had the closest knowledge
and with which he had the most constant intercourse), it is to be
expected,--quite natural, in fact, that he should have regarded
lightly the difficulties he had to encounter in his endeavours to
imitate Tacitus; and though he must have been thoroughly conscious
that it was not in his power victoriously to surmount them, yet he
cared not, for he did not fear detection, viewing, as he did, with
such withering and lordly disdain the want of perspicacity which,
in his fancy, characterized his species. He worked on, then, as
best he could, with courage and confidence; every now and then
doing things that never would have been done by Tacitus: the
story, for example, of Sabina Poppaea in the 14th book; Tacitus
would have surely passed it over as, though having some relation
to the public, coming within the province of biography.
Unquestionably, Tacitus would have rejected as strictly
unhistorical the dark tale of murder and adultery of the tribune
of the people, Sagitta, and the private woman, Pontia, which has
no more to do with the historical affairs of the Romans, than a
villainous case of adultery in the Divorce Court, or a monstrous
murder tried at the Old Bailey is in any way connected with the
public transactions of Great Britain. [Endnote 231]

What history, then, we have in the last six books of the Annals
does not remind us in its character of the history taken note of
by Tacitus.

The tone and treatment, too, are not his.

The Jesuit, Réné Rapin, in his Comparisons of the Great Men of
Antiquity (Réflexions sur l'Histoire, p. 211), may, with a violent
seizure of ecstacy, fall, like a genuine Frenchman, into a fit of
enthusiasm over the description, as "exquisite in delicacy and
elegance" ("tout y est décrit dans une délicatesse et dans une
élégance exquise" says he), of the lascivious dancing of Messalina
and her wanton crew of Terpsichorean revellers when counterfeiting
the passions and actions of the phrenzied women-worshippers of
Bacchus celebrating a vintage in the youth of the world, when the
age was considered to be as good as gold: the gay touches in the
lively picture may be introduced with sufficient warmth to
enrapture the chaste Jesuit priest, and judiciously enough to
contrast boldly with the dreadful, tragic details of the shortly
ensuing death of the Empress; but they are not circumstances that
would have ever emanated with their emotional particularities from
the solemn soul of Tacitus. The passage is only another powerful
proof how absolutely ineffectual was the attempt of Bracciolini to
render history after the style of the stern, majestic Roman.

III. Every now and then, too, the most extraordinary errors with
respect to facts cannot be explained by the hypothesis that
Tacitus wrote the Annals; for there could not have been such
deviations from truth on the part of any Roman who lived in the
time of the first Caesars: on the other hand, the errors are just
of the character which makes it look uncommonly as if they were
the unhappy blunders of a mediaeval or Renaissance writer such as
Bracciolini. An instance or two will best illustrate what is

In the Twelfth Book Lollia Paulina is made to consult the
Colophonian Oracle of Apollo Clarius respecting the nuptials of
the Emperor Claudius: "interrogatumque _Apollinis Clarii
simulacrum_ super nuptiis Imperatoris" (An. XII. 22). How could
this be? when Strabo, who lived in the time of Augustus, tells us
that in his day that oracle no longer existed, only the fame of
it, for his words are: "the grove of Apollo Clarius, in which
there used to be the ancient oracle":--[Greek: "alsos tou Klariou
Apollonos, en ho kai manteion aen pote palaion"] (XIV. I. 27).
This is quite convincing that Tacitus could not have written those

There is another reason against Tacitus having made the statement:
he must have been aware from personal knowledge that his
countrymen obtained all their oracular responses from water.
Bracciolini might have known that this custom prevailed among the
Romans during the time of the Caesars, had he consulted Lucian's
Alexander or Pseudomantis, Melek (better known as Porphyry), and,
above all, Jamblicus, who, in his book upon Egyyptian, Chaldaean
and Assyrian Mysteries, speaks (III. 11) of the habit among the
Romans of "interpreting the divine will by water": [Greek: di
hudatos chraematizesthai], and explains the manner how, "for in a
subterraneous temple" (by which, I presume, Jamblicus means a
"sanctified cave or grotto") there was a fountain, from which the
augur drank," [Greek: einai gar paegaen en oiko katageio, kai ap
autaes pinein ton prophaetaen.] How can we believe that Tacitus
was ignorant of such an ordinary native ceremony, and one, too,
that must have come repeatedly within his ken?

Another error is, apparently, very trifling, but it becomes quite
startling when we are to suppose that it was made by Tacitus, an
accepted authority upon the people in question,--the ancient
Germans of the first century of our aera:--that people who
(according to Sanson's Maps and Geographical Tables) inhabited
what was then known as "Germany," namely, the country between the
Danube and the Rhine, with Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the western
portion of Poland and some part of the kingdom of Hungary,--are
represented as having HOUSEHOLD GODS, for we are told that if
Italicus had had the spirit of his father (Flavius, brother of
Armin), he would have done what his parent did, wage war more
rancorously than any man, against his country and his "Household
Gods"; "Si paterna Italico mens esset, non alium infensius coutra
patriam ac _Deos Penates_, quam parentes ejus exercuisse"
(An. XV. 16). Into this mistake Tacitus could not possibly have
fallen, from being thoroughly acquainted with the manners of the
Germans, as he has shown in his work on that subject: he knew that
that people had only one set of gods whom they worshipped publicly
in sacred groves and woods, but none corresponding to the Roman
Dei Penetrales, privately worshipped at home.

We have read scarcely more than a page from the commencement of
that portion of the Annals where the forgery began,--the Eleventh
Book,--before we find that a mistake is made about Gotarzes being
the brother of Artabanus: for he is described as having
"compounded poison for the particular purpose of killing his
'brother' Artabanus and his wife and son": "necem fratri Artabano
conjugique ac filio ejus praeparaverat" (An. XI. 8). Artabanus was
the father, as may be seen in Josephus: "not long after Artabanus
died, leaving his kingdom to his son Vardanes: [Greek: "Met' ou
polun de chronon Artabanos telueta, taen Basileian to paidi
Ouardanae katalipon"] (Antiq. Jud. XX. 3, 4 in init). Vardanes
(according to Josephus), but (according to other writers) Bardanes
was the brother of Gotarzes; as was known to Bracciolini who
speaks of "Gotarzes revealing to his brother," meaning Bardanes,
"a conspiracy of their countrymen which had been disclosed to
him": "cognitis popularium insidiis, quas Gotarzes _fratri_
patefecerat" (An. XI. 9). It cannot be said that Bracciolini was
unacquainted with Josephus; for he follows him closely in the last
six books of the Annals; further he mentions him in his letters,
for he says that he has been "a long while waiting for his works,"
(to make use of them in his forgery): "Jamdiu expectavi Josephi
libros," &c. (Ep. III. 28): his memory, notwithstanding, entirely
failed him with respect to the passage in question, or else he
paid no heed to it.

While he makes this misstatement about Gotarzes and Artabanus he
falls into another blunder with respect to Bardanes: he circumscribes
the limit of his reign to less than one twelvemonth,--the year when
the Secular Games were celebrated which, according to his own account,
was the year 800 from the Foundation of Rome, or the year 47 of the
Christian Aera ("Ludi Saeculares octingesimo post Romam conditam ...
spectati sunt." An. XI. 11).

Soon after his accession Bardanes, (according to the narrative we
have of him in the Annals), found a rebel in his brother Gotarzes,
who waged war against him, defeated him, and, gaining his kingdom,
had him assassinated by a body of Parthians, who "killed him in
his very earliest youth while he was engaged in hunting and not
anticipating any harm:" "incautum venationique intentum interfecere
primam intra juventam" (An. XI. 10). All these circumstances are
made to occur in such rapid succession to each other that they
occupied only one year, if so much; for they are all shown as
taking place during the consulship of Valerius Asiaticus and
Valerius Messalla.

Now let the reader turn to the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by
Philostratus. He will there see that the Magician of Cappadocia on
his arrival in Babylon was told that Bardanes had been reigning
two years and as many months; Apollonius stopped in the palace of
the king twenty months; then he started on a tour to India; he
travelled about the Asiatic Peninsula for a considerable time;
next he went on a visit to the Brahmins with whom he staid four
months; after that he returned to Babylon, where he found Bardanes
as he had left him, still king and in the enjoyment of excellent
health. It is necessary that I should substantiate this by
extracts from Philostratus. In a conversation with one of the
king's courtiers Apollonius asks the question: "What year that was
since Bardanes had recovered his kingdom?" and received the reply
that it was "the third, two months of which they had already
reached": [Greek: "poston de dae touto etos tae anaktaetheisae
archae; pritou, ephae, haptometha duo aedae pou maenes"] (I. 28):
in another conversation with Damis Apollonius says that he "is off
to India"; that he has been staying at the court "already a year
and four months"; though "the king will not let him take his
departure until the completion of the eighth month": [Greek: age,
o Dami, es Indous iomen ... eniautos gar haemin aedae, kai
tettares ... oude anaesei haemas ... ho Basilaeus proteron, ae ton
ogdoon telesai maena]: the biographer then speaking of the visit
to the Brahmins, says that Apollonius spent four months with
them": [Greek: maenon tettaron ekei diatripsanti]: and "on his
return to Babylon he found Bardanes as he had left him," that is,
on the throne and in the enjoyment of health: [Greek: es Babylona
... anapleusai para ton Ouardanon, kai tuchontes auton oion
egignoskon] (III. 58).

We have proof positive here that Bardanes sat on the throne of
Babylon for at least four years and a half; quite contrary to the
account in the Annals. Philostratus is generally regarded as a
most reliable writer of antiquity; we may be, therefore, tolerably
certain, from the look out given us in the pages of the historian
of Lemnos, that Bardanes did not die, as we are told in the
Annals, in his earliest youth by assassination after a short reign
of less than one year, but that he reigned long, lived to a good
old age, and died a natural death.

One more example of this kind, which almost seems to bring home
the forgery to Bracciolini; and then we will pass on to other
matters (for the present).

Nowhere in his works do I find that Bracciolini makes any
reference to Lucian or Strabo, or even mentions their names. I
think if he had read them, he would have known better than to have
spoken of Nineveh being in existence in the reign of the Emperor
Claudius, because this is the reverse of what we are told by
Lucian and Strabo. For all that, we hear in the Annals of troops
"along their march capturing the City of Nineveh, that most
ancient capital of Assyria": "Capta in transitu urbis Ninos
vetustissima sedes Assyriae" (An. XII. 13). In Lucian's amusing
Dialogue, entitled "Charon," when Mercury points out the tomb of
Achilles on Cape Sigaeum and that of Ajax on the Rhoetaean
promontory, Charon wants to see Nineveh, with Troy, Babylon,
Mycenae, and Cleone, the following being the conversation; "I want
to point out to you," says Mercury, "the tomb of Achilles: you see
it on the sea? That's Cape Sigaeum in the Troad: and on the
Rhoetaean promontory opposite Ajax is buried. CHAR. Those tombs, O
Hermes, are no great sights. Rather point out to me those renowned
cities, of which I have heard below,--Nineveh, the capital of
Sardanapalus, Babylon, Mycenae, Cleone and that famous Troy, on
account of which I remember ferrying across there such numbers
that for ten whole years my skiff was never high and dry and never
caught cold," (that being Charon's fun, according to Lucian's
conception, in conveying that all that long time his boat was
_in the water_ (hence "catching cold") from being perpetually
used: [Greek: "Thelo soi deixai ton tou Achilleos taphon, horas
ton epi tae thalattae; Sigeion men ekeino to Troikon, antikru de
ho Aias tethattai en to Rhoiteio. CHAR. Ou megaloi, o Hermae, oi
taphoi tas poleis de tas episaemous deixon moi aedae, has kato
akouomen taen Ninon taen Sardanapalou, kai Babulona, kai Mukaenas,
kai Kleonas, kai taen Ilion autaen, pollous goun memnaemai
diaporthmensas ekeithen, hos deka oloneon maede neolkaesai, maede
diapsuxai to skaphidion."] The reply that then follows of Mercury
shows that not a remnant was left of Nineveh in the very ancient
time of Croesus, and that nobody even then knew of its site:
"Nineveh, O Ferryman, is quite destroyed, and not a trace of it is
left now, nor can you tell where it used to be": [Greek: "Hae
Minos men, o porthmen, apololen aedae, kai ouden ichnos eti loipon
autaes oud an eipois hopou pot' ae"] (Charon 23). Strabo says the
same with respect to the destruction of Nineveh: "The city of
Nineveh was thereupon demolished simultaneously with the
overthrowal of the Syrians: [Greek: Hae men oun Ninos polis
aephanisthae parachraema meta taen ton Suron katalusin"] (XVI. I.3),
--though to speak of the inhabitants as "Syrians," at such a
juncture is hardly correct language on the part of Strabo; it
should have been "_Assyrians_," if Justin is right in saying
that that people only took the name of _Syrians_ after their
empire was at an end: "for thirteen hundred years," says he, "did
the Assyrians, who were _afterwards called the Syrians_,
retain their empire": "Imperium Assyrii, qui _postea Syri dicti
sunt_, mille trecentis annis tenuere" (Justin I. 2).

Had Bracciolini been acquainted with these things, they would have
made such an impression upon his mind that he could never have
forgotten them. But as he wrote ancient history in the fifteenth
century, and did not know what Lucian and Strabo had said of
Nineveh, he took as an authority for his statement a most
indifferent historian who flourished towards the close of the
fourth century of our aera, Ammianus Marcellinus; for I know of
nobody but Marcellinus, who makes this statement; nor is there
likely to be anybody else, because the statement is ridiculous. It
will be remembered that Bracciolini recovered the work of Ammianus
Marcellinus: it is then reasonable to presume that he had read, if
not studied his history. Indeed, there can be very little doubt
that it was Marcellinus who misled him: for when he was setting
about the forgery and importunately soliciting Niccoli to supply
him with books for that purpose in the autumn of 1423, Ammianus
Marcellinus was one of these authorities: in the letter dated the
6th of November that year, he says he was "glad that his friend
had done with Marcellinus, and would be still more glad if he
would send him the book": "Gratum est mihi te absolvisse
Marcellinum, idque gratius si me librum miseris" (Ep. II. 7). We
may be certain the book, being "done with" by Niccoli, was sent to
him on account of the importance of his having it, for the
carrying out of his undertaking; thus he makes Tacitus commit the
same mistake as Marcellinus committed,--that Nineveh was in
existence in the time of the Roman Emperors: "In Adiabena is the
city of Nineveh, which in olden time had possessed an extensive
portion of Persia"; "In Adiabena Ninus EST civitas quae olim
Persidis magna possederat" (XXIII. 6). Tacitus lived a good three
hundred years before that historical epitomist of not much note or
weight; and could not, on his authority, have been dragged, like
his "discoverer" and student, Bracciolini, into this monstrous

IV. But it is in the estimate of human nature, and the invariable
disparagement pervading the delineation of the character of every
individual, in the last six books of the Annals, that the Italian
hand of Bracciolini is unmistakably detected, and the Roman hand
of Tacitus not at all traceable. Shakespeare makes Iago say of
himself: "I am nothing if not critical,"--meaning censorious.
Bracciolini might have said the same of himself. He was never so
much "at home," (by which I mean that he never seemed to have been
so completely "happy"), as when lashing the anti-pope Felix,
Filelfo, Valla, George of Trebizond, Guarino of Verona, or some
other great literary rival of whose fame he was jealous; carping
at others, whose intellectual attainments were at all commensurate
to his own, and accusing of foul enormities persons who were
possessors of rhetorical merit, as he accused the "Fratres
Observantiae," for no other reason that one can see except that
those interlopers in the monastic order (the "Brothers of
Observance" being a new branch of the Franciscans) preached
capital sermons.

There is no getting at any insight as to his nature from the
biographies of him; they are all such faint and imperfect
sketches: we learn nothing of him from that curiosity of
literature, L'Enfant's astonishing performance, "Poggiana"--in
which the pages and the blunders contend for supremacy in number,
and the blunders get it,--nor from that bald, cold business,
entitled "Vita Poggii," which Recanati, flinging aside brilliancy
and clinging fast to fidelity in facts and plainness of speech,
prefixed to his edition of Bracciolini's "Historia Florentina,"
published at Venice in 1715, and which Muratori, sixteen years
after, reprinted at Milan along with the said "History of
Florence, in the 20th volume of his "Rerum Italicarum
Scriptores;"--nor from the Rev. William Shepherd's innocent
affair, "The Life of Poggio Bracciolini"; but the deficiencies of
the biographers have been supplied by a true man of genius,
Poliziano, who has hit off his character in a noun substantive and
an adjective in the superlative. In his History of the Pazzi and
Salviati Conspiracy against Lorenzo de' Medici,--which plot to
overthrow the government Bracciolini's third son, Jacopo, joined,
and was hanged for his pains in front of the first floor windows
of that Prince's palace,--Poliziano says that Jacopo Bracciolini
was "specially remarkable for calumny," in which respect," adds
the historian, "he was exactly like his father, who was a MOST
CALUMNIOUS MAN:"--"Ejus praecipua in maledicendo virtus, in qua
vel patrem HOMINEM MALEDICENTISSIMUM referebat" (Politiani Opera,
p. 637).

Such being the character of Bracciolini, I may glance aside for a
moment to observe that nothing can be more incongruous than that
his statue, which his countrymen originally placed in the portico
of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (because he had
praised them in his history of their city and abused all
foreigners), should have been transferred in 1560 by the reigning
Duke of Tuscany into the interior of the sacred building and
placed among the figures of the Twelve Apostles, where it still
remains, the ungodly "Poggio" forming a grotesque portion of the
saintly group.

If the son was such an exact counterpart of the father in evil-
speaking, as borne testimony to by that admirable and accurate
historian, Poliziano, it follows that Bracciolini confirmed by his
tongue and pen the words put by Shakespeare into the mouth of the
Duke in "Measure for Measure":

    "Back-wounding calumny
    The whitest virtue strikes: What king so strong
    Can tie the gall up in a slanderous tongue?"

Indeed, if faith is to be placed in what Poliziano says, then
Bracciolini was, like Thersites in the Iliad, a "systematic
calumniator of kings and princes, while at the same time he must
have indiscriminately inveighed against the characters of private
individuals, run down the productions of all learned men, and, in
fact, vilified everybody"; for that is exactly the estimate formed
of him by Poliziano:--"Semper ille aut principes insectari passim,
aut in mores hominum sine ullo discrimine invehi, aut eujusque
docti scripta lacessere: nemini parcere" (Polit. Op. 1. c.).

If this was, really, the distinguishing characteristic of
Bracciolini, we have then another very strong point in evidence
that he forged the Annals, for the spirit of detraction stands
forth in the boldest relief on every page of that production. From
the beginning to the end of the last six books (with which we are
at present dealing, as we shall hereafter deal separately with the
first six books), there is scarcely such a thing as a good man.
Now though we are all perfectly conscious of our shortcomings and
those of our kind, so that we spontaneously acknowledge the
truthfulness of the smart, though not altogether decorous remark
of Ovid's, that "if Jupiter were to strike men with lightning as
often as they committed sins, he would in a short time be without
his thunderbolts":--

    "Si quoties peccant homines, sua fulmina mittat
    Jupiter, exiguo tempore inermis erit;"

there is, nevertheless, no necessity for exaggerating those faults
with the persistency met with in the Annals. Scandal without
contradiction is admitted of all persons who are either thought
good or who act properly. Every infamous slander is accepted that
is cast on the eminent statesman and philosopher, Seneca (XIII. 20
and 42.--XIV. 52-3). Piso, who has the reputation of being a good
man, is described as a hypocrite, pretending to have virtues (XV.
48). Fenius Rufus draws no gain nor advantage from his office of
superintendent of the stores (XIV. 51), and is held in general
esteem for his course of life (XIV. 51.--XV. 50); but he is
described as immeasurably severe (XV. 58), harsh towards his
associates (ib.), and wanting in spirit (XV. 61). Sylla's
innocence is ascribed to despicable pusillanimity and cowardice
(XIII. 47). Corbulo, though he took "the shortest route," and
"sped his march day and night without intermission" (XV. 12), to
relieve Poetus when distressed from the approach of Vologeses and
the Parthian army, is said, contrary to these statements, to "have
made no great haste in order that he might gain more praise from
bringing relief when the danger had increased" (XV. 10). Because
Flavius, the brother of the German hero, Armin, takes up his abode
in Rome, he is accused of being a "spy." (XI. 16). This is,
certainly, the writing of a malicious, altogether spiteful man,--a
man, too, irrational in his calumny,--revelling, in short, in the
spirit of detraction.

V. It is, of course, (if there be any truth in the present
theory), a thing by no means strange, but, on the contrary, to be
thoroughly expected, when this temper and turn of mind are
strongly enforced by Bracciolini in his Dialogue "De Infelicitate
Principum"; his friend, Niccoli, one of the interlocutors, when
asked "why he was more prone to blame than praise," replies that
"there was no difficulty at all in giving an explanation, because
he had been taught it by the experience of advanced age and the
antecedents of a long life: he had too often been wrong in
praising men, because he had found them worse than he had thought
them; yet he had never been wrong when he had abused them, for
there was such a multitude of rogues amongst men, such an amount
of vices and crimes, such a superabundance of hypocrites, from
people preferring to seem rather than be good, so many who threw
such a veil of honesty over their rascalities, that it was
perilous, and akin to falsehood, to bestow laudation on anybody."
"'Cur in vituperando sis quam in laudando proclivior.' 'Hoc facile
est ad explicandum,' Nicolaus inquit, 'quod longa aetas et ante
acta vita me docuit. Nam in laudandis hominibus saepius deceptus
sum, cum hi deteriores essent quam existimarem, in vituperandis
vero nunquam me fefellit opinio. Tanta enim inter homines versatur
improborum copia,--ita sceleribus omnia inficiuntur, ita
hypocritae superabundant, qui videri quam esse boni malunt,--ita
quilibet sua vitia aliquo honesti velamento tegit, ut periculosum
sit et mendacio proximum quempiam laudare'" (Pog. Op. 394). Though
these words are ascribed to his friend Niccoli, they exactly
expressed his own sentiments, as may be seen in the letter to his
friend, Bartolommeo Fazio, from which we have already quoted,
where he speaks of himself as being "always excessively averse to
the language of praise," and further reproves it as "a species of
vice":--"non adulandi causa loquor, nam abfuit a me longissime
semper id vitii genus" (Ep. IX. Bartol. Facii Epistol).

In that strongly expressed sentiment of the world being filled
with so many knaves that it was dangerous, and all but destructive
of truth, to believe in honesty, we have the keynote to the whole
of the Annals; and the last six books are marked by a universal
cynical disbelief in human honesty; for from the first character,
Asiaticus, who is accused of every kind of corruption and
abomination (XI. 2), down to Egnatius, with his perfidy,
treachery, avarice, lust, and superficial virtues (XVI. 32), all
are patterns of the vices, few, except the aged Thrasea, being
bright examples of virtue. I have no doubt this description of the
general depravity of Adam's descendants, the dwelling on which was
so delectable to the disposition of Bracciolini, was a very
correct portraiture of the human race in the fifteenth century,
when, in Italy especially, and, above all, in Rome, the light from
the lamp of Diogenes was, I suspect, very much wanted to find an
honest man.



I. The intellect and depravity of the age.--II. Bracciolini as its
exponent.--III. Hunter's accurate description of him.--IV.
Bracciolini gave way to the impulses of his age.--V. The Claudius,
Nero and Tiberius of the Annals personifications of the Church of
Rome in the fifteenth century.--VI. Schildius and his doubts.--
VII. Bracciolini not covetous of martyrdom: communicates his fears
to Niccoli.--VIII. The princes and great men in the Annals the
princes and great men of the XVth century, not of the opening
period of the Christian aera.--IX. Bracciolini, and not Tacitus, a
disparager of persons in high places.

I. The fifteenth century was the most curious of all ages: it has
never been properly depicted, except on its darker side,
indirectly, in the Annals. It is usually regarded as an age of
barbarism; it was not that; it must ever be memorable for
splendour of genius and the promotion of letters. A proof of the
esteem in which literary excellence was held is afforded by the
conduct of the Sultan of Turkey, Mahomet II., who deemed a mere
ode by Filelfo a sufficient ransom for that scholar's mother-in-law,
Manfredina Doria, and her two daughters. Astronomers were
treading for the first time in the right track after two thousand
years, since the days of Pythagoras, as may be seen by the
hypothesis of Domenico Maria, about the variability of the axis of
the globe, and by the labours of Mueller, better known by the
Latin name derived from his native town of Koenigsberg,
Regiomontanus, who almost anticipated Copernicus in discovering
the true system of the universe. Few before or since have so
excelled in mathematics and mechanics as Peurbach. Divinity had a
profound and subtle exponent in the mild and gentle Thomas à
Kempis. The age nursed the man who first philosophized in
politics, Machiavelli. Italy was ablaze, like the galaxy, with a
countless number of brilliant lights that shone in classical lore
and accomplishments. Alberti shewed by his Gothic church dedicated
to St. Francis (now the Cathedral at Rimini), that the genius of
architecture was again abroad as much inspired as when Hermogenes
reared the temple of Bacchus at Teos. Chaucer, the morning star of
poetry in England, briefly preceded one greater, and even more
learned, Rowley, whose few fragments recovered, as asserted by the
sprightly boy-finder, Chatterton, in a chest in the muniment room
of the church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, reveal to us what we
have unfortunately lost; his Battle of Hastings, though far away
from the power and grandeur of the poetry, recalls, if not the
tramp and march of the verse, attempts at the subdued tone, ease
of manner, effect and picturesqueness of thoughts and figures,
along with frequent, rich similes drawn from nature, which meet us
at every turn in the Iliad, then newly brought to Europe, and with
which the delighted poet had evidently saturated his astonished
soul, a few of his expressions being close copies and some of his
language a literal translation from Homer. [Endnote 251] All over
Europe princes and nobles signalized themselves in martial
achievements and the art of war: some revived memories of the
mightiest: the great hero of antiquity, Cyrus, had not a history
more obscured with fable than the great hero of the Tartars,
Tamerlane; the tale of George Castriot, surnamed Scanderbeg, for
his acts of valour and feats of strength, is as mythical as the
tale of Ninus: Francis Sforza, Duke of Milan, could have stood by
the side of Pausanias, having as signally defeated at Mont Olmo
the great general Francis Piccinino as the King of Sparta crushed
at Plataea the brilliant chief, Mardonius; the Hungarian
sovereigns, John Corvinus Hunniades and his son Matthias occupied
the ground that was held by the Theban princes, Pelopidas and
Epaminondas; for the two Woiwodes of Transylvania kept their
country free from the enslavement of the Turk, as the two
Boeotarchs preserved Thebes in independence from the rule of the
Lacedaemonians. Never did Athens produce a general superior to our
own gallant and magnanimous Henry the Fifth:--

    "quo justior alter
    Nec pictate fuit, nec bello major et armis."

Still the age, though distinguished for intellect and valour, was
degraded by the most monstrous villainies that were ever
perpetrated, and the most detestable characters who ever existed;
and a becoming procreation of such an intellectual and depraved
age was that revolting monster in letters,--the Annals.

The Muses were courted more than the Graces: talents were held in
higher esteem than the virtues. Men were unremitting,
indiscriminate worshippers of money; they were not trained in the
school of good morals; and when people, brought up without the
pale of the precepts of probity, are congenitally cursed with a
greed for pelf and a legion of evil and rascally proclivities,
they become easily pervious to the promptings of all sorts of

Profligacy was so wide-spread that it extended to men usually
supposed to be most pious and exemplary in their lives: Bishops,
Archbishops, Cardinals and the Pope himself, though celibats and
holders of ecclesiastical dignities, did not arrive at Delphi
without touching at Cythera: indirect evidence is afforded of this
by the treatises which physicians, shortly after the commencement
of the next century, wrote on the disease then called "Morbus
Gallicus," when Gaspard Torella wrote his for the purpose of
benefiting the manners of the Bishop of Avranches, Ulrich von
Hutten his as a safeguard for the perils that attended the habits
of the Cardinal Archbishop of Mayence, and Peter Pintor his to
warn that gay pope, Alexander VI., of the danger of his ways, the
Spanish physician even expressing the kind hope (which may not
have been fulfilled) that the Holy Father would be preserved
"morbo foedo et occulto his temporibus affligente": there is
direct evidence of this state of abandonment to vice on the part
of consecrated men from Bracciolini, who, during his excursion to
the Baths of Baden in 1416, gave an account of that favourite
watering place of the fifteenth century, where abbots, monks,
friars and priests comported themselves with more licentiousness
than the laity, laid aside all thoughts of religion, and sometimes
bathed with women, whose hair they decked with ribbons and wreaths
of flowers: "hic quoque virgines Vestales, vel, ut verius loquar,
Florales: hic abbates, monachi, fratres, sacerdotes majori
licentia quam caeteri vivunt, et simul quandoque cum mulieribus
lavantes, et sertis quoque comas ornantes, omni religione abjecta"
(Ep. I. 1). Joanna II., Queen of Naples, when a Doctor of Laws of
Florence was sent to her court on an embassy from his fellow-
citizens, and, seeking a private interview, made a coarse
declaration of love, could look with a pleasant smile upon him,
and ask mildly "If that was also in his instructions?" At the
wonderfully numerous assembly that attended at Constance on the
22nd of April, 1418, on the formal dismissal of the Ecumenical
Council by the newly elected Pope, Otto Colonna, who took the name
of Martin V., there were present no fewer (according to one
account) than 1,500 courtezans, many of whom heaped up a great
mass of money, one accumulating 800 gold sequins, equivalent now
to a little fortune of £16,000, not so much, it appears, from
among the 80,000 married laymen, who were Emperors, Kings,
Princes, Dukes, Counts and Knights, bankers, shop-keepers, bakers,
tailors, barbers and merry-andrews, as from among the 18,000
celibats, who were the Pope, the prelates, the priests, the
presbyters, the monks and the friars, grey, white and black.

II. As a notable informer in the Annals of the exact spirit of his
age, Bracciolini necessarily places before his reader not a few
pictures of the deterioration of moral principles in the
aphrodisiac direction; his book reflects in the most vivid light
the strange and very wonderful depravities of his period, some so
huge as to deviate greatly out of the common course of nature.
From time to time the historic and philosophic gravity of the last
six books of the Annals suffers great eclipses by his leaving
aside weighty affairs of State to descend into petty descriptions
of the erratic conduct of Messalina, with her extravagant lewdness
(XI. 26-8), Nero, with his abominable pollutions (XVI. 37), and
that Emperor's mother, Agrippina, with her monstrous incest (XIV. 2).
These matters, even if true of the ancient Romans in the first
century of our aera, Tacitus, we may be certain, would have
avoided as not coming within the scope of the historian's
province, and as being altogether uncongenial to his sublime tone
of elevated sentiments and high-minded refinement. But anyone
conversant with the writings and temper of Bracciolini will know
well that such passages, instead of being in any way distasteful,
would be altogether agreeable. To be convinced, one has only to
glance at the collection of anecdotes, styled "Facetiae," at the
end of his works, which even a frequenter of the Judge and Jury
Society would consider justly liable to objection, howbeit that a
pious gentleman in holy orders who wrote a Life of Bracciolini,
the Reverend William Shepherd, can find words of palliation for
them as sprightly pleasantries. They show us Bracciolini in his
merry mood; they give us a fresh glimpse into the fifteenth
century; they may be considered the best jokes or Joe Millerisms
of the fifteenth century, such as the one commencing "Homo è
nostris rusticanus, et haud multum prudens" (Pog. Op. 423), the
one that follows entitled "De Vidua accensa libidine cum paupere"
(ibid); and that which begins "Adolescens nobilis et forma
insignis" (p. 433).

The taste of Bracciolini which is shown by these "Facetiae," is
still more forcibly exhibited in a letter to Becadelli of Bologna
(Ep. II. 40), in which he gloats over a book of indecent epigrams
which his friend had written; he describes it as a "work at once
waggish and luxuriating in voluptuousness," "opus et jocosum et
plenum voluptatis," and as "a most sweet book," "liber est
suavissimus." With respect to his own feelings on reading it, he
observes, "that he was delighted beyond measure at the variety of
the subjects and the elegance of the poetry; at the same time he
wondered how things so improper and so obscene could be
represented by his friend so gracefully and so neatly, and" he was
of opinion that "the many excessive obscenities were expressed in
such a manner that they seemed not only to be depicted but to have
been actually committed; for he could not help thinking that they
must be considered as facts, and not as fictions merely for the
sake of entertaining the reader":--"Delectatus sum, mehercule,
varietate rerum et elegantia versuum: simulque admiratus sum res
adeo impudicas, adeo ineptas tam venuste, tam composite a te dici,
atque ita multa exprimi turpiuscula, ut non enarrari, sed agi
videantur: neque ficta a te jocandi causa, ut existimo, sed acta
aestimari possunt." Such was his extravagant commendation, and,
consequently, his hearty approbation of a most unnatural
production, "Hermaphroditus," which ultimately received the
censure of the author himself, who was ashamed that he had written
it, as shown in the following epigram preserved by Cardinal
Quirini in his "Diatriba in Epistolas Francisci Barbari":--

    "Hic faeces varias Veneris, moresque prophanos,
    _Quos natura fugit_, me docuisse _pudet_."

III. We shall now see how accurately a writer in the middle of the
last century, the Reverend Thomas Hunter, in his "Observations on
Tacitus" (p. 51), hit off the character of Bracciolini, all the
while that he fancied he was venting objurgations on the staid old
Roman: "If he is anywhere happy in his description, it is in the
display of ... luxury refined and high-flavoured ... Never writer
had a happier pen at describing wickedness ... Were we to give
room to suspicions ... we should say that he might have been ... a
party in every lewd scene he represents."

Mr. Hunter proceeds: "Messalina's guilty amours with Silius are
described with a gay and festive air, with that pride of
voluptuousness, and feeling taste of pleasure, as show the writer
well versed in court intrigue. The description is too luscious,
and may lead to a perpetration of the crime, rather than an
abhorrence of the criminals."

Only one fault is to be found with this criticism, which is both
excellent and curious,--excellent, because remarkable for its
simple truthfulness,--curious, because it looks as if Hunter, who
knew nothing about Bracciolini, had the eyes of a cat and could
see in the dark;--the fault is that the writer applies the
criticism to one eminently undeserving of its causticity;--because
though we have quoted "If he is," Hunter wrote, "If Tacitus is";
now Tacitus never wrote any descriptions of the nature commented
on by the Vicar of Wrexham; they are not to be found in any of the
works that pass under his name except the Annals; there is this
excuse to be found for Hunter, that, at the time when he wrote, he
was compelled to take the majestic Roman Consul to be the author
of the Annals; but though his criticism is not applicable in a
single syllable to Tacitus, it is strictly applicable in every
word to Bracciolini, whom he never dreamt of as the composer of
the Annals.

IV. It matters not what a man may attempt in literature, what
style he may adopt, or what old pattern imitate,--he cannot get
away from the impulses of his own time, strive he ever so hard:
the tone and colour of his work will be modified by actual history
and current politics; his strongest impressions will be influenced
by the deeds that are being transacted and the lives that are
being passed around him; so that however wide, searching and
vigorous may be his powers of observation, thought and intellect,
he cannot liberate these from contemporary associations; any
endeavour to do that must end in failure, ending, as it must, in
artificial coldness and unemotional lifelessness. Bracciolini
never made the attempt; he gave way to Nature, and never did his
genius shine so brightly, and never was it more prolific, than
when dealing with the diversity required of it by the history
embraced in the Annals.

V. I am now about to make some remarks which I am glad to say,
will get for this book a place in the "Index Expurgatorius" in
Rome; and which will do a great deal more than that,--considerably
amaze the shade of Bracciolini (supposing that he has a shade),
perhaps as much as M. Jourdain was astonished when told that he
had been talking prose all his life.

Every student of the Annals, in order rightly to understand its
meaning and properly to appreciate its greatness, should bear in
mind that the Emperors who play a part in it, Claudius and Nero in
the last six books, and Tiberius in the first six, are intended to
be the representatives or personifications of the Church of Rome
in the fifteenth century. Hence it is that Claudius, Nero and
Tiberius are depicted as superhuman in monstrosities,--colossal in
crime,--perpetrators of enormities that never yet met, and never
will meet, in combination in any single man. Each is, in fact, a
fiend, and not a human being. It was thus only that Bracciolini
could show us in its true light the Church of Rome as it acted in
his day. In the language of Wickliffe it was the "Synagogue of
Satan." A mere trifle was it that reprobates in the form of
bishops and priests ordained, consecrated and sacrificed. See the
Church at an Oecumenical Council; then it capped the climax of
cruelty and crime; it resorted to demoniacal subterfuge to condemn
good men as heretics and burn them alive, believing that death by
fire would inflict the most exquisitely excruciating tortures; at
the Council of Constance it sought to condemn Wickliffe, by making
an inference from some of his principles that he propagated the
doctrine,--"God is obliged to obey the Devil,"--nowhere to be
found in the Trialogue, Dialogue, and all the other works,
treatises, and opuscles or small pieces bearing the name of that
honoured and most pious divine: it consigned to the flames those
two intimate friends and associates, John Huss and Jerome of
Prague, for holding just and virtuous views about the degradation
of the priestly office, and for nobly and fearlessly inveighing
against the corruptions of the pontifical court, the pomp and
pride of prelates, and the dissipated habits and abuses of the

When we read in the Annals of men, who, in spite of their
nobility, innocence and virtues, were put to death by the sword of
the executioner or the poisoned bowl, we must not think that we
are reading of real Romans who thus actually suffered: the whole
is a fabrication placing before us fictitious pictures, meant to
be life-like, of what the DOMINATING POWER CAN DO IN SOCIETY: they
are not pictures intended to show with truthfulness monstrosities
positively done by Emperors of Rome in the first century: they are
pictures that reflect with fidelity the atrocities that stained
the Church of Rome in the beginning of the fifteenth century.

Those were the closing days of the ancient period of the most
abominable of all the Inquisitions, that of Spain, before the
establishment by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1481 of the modern
Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula: that terrible jurisdiction
extended to everybody, dead as well as living, absent as well as
present, princes and subjects, rich and poor,--all were liable
alike on the bare suspicion of such an insignificant matter as
heresy, to corporal punishment, pecuniary fines, confiscation of
property, and loss of life, by being burnt at the stake, or,--as
occurred to Savonarola, towards the close of the century,--first
strangled by the hangman, and then committed to the flames. Only
the Nero of the last part of the Annals, or the Tiberius of the
first six books of that work, can properly stand forth, in his
persecuting spirit, as the counterpart of the Dominican, John de
Torquemada, who, in the performance of his duty, as the Inquisitor
General in Spain, proceeded against upwards of 100,000 persons,
6,000 of whom he condemned to the flames.

VI. So far, then, from being surprised with Professor Schildius
(Professor of History and Greek, and afterwards of Hebrew in the
University of Bremen at the commencement of the seventeenth
century), and induced to doubt with him, the veraciousness of the
Annals, I should have been very much astonished indeed, and,
certainly, called in question its fidelity as representing the
spirit of the fifteenth century, if it had not recorded (to borrow
the language of Schildius) "a number of the most honourable and
innocent men, the prides and ornaments of the State, coming to an
ignominious end, and for no other crime, forsooth, than that which
we call treason-felony": "Quod si non omnium judiciis superior
esset Cornelius Tacitus, laboraret Annalium fides, tot
nobilissimos et innocuos viros, tot decora et ornamenta Civitatis,
indignissimo fine cecidisse crederemus, idque non aliud hercle ob
crimen, quam illum, quem diximus, obtentuin laesae majestatis"
(Schildi Exercitationes in C. Taciti Annal: XV. p. 29). Substitute
for "treason felony" "heresy," and we have the strictest truth
with regard to the unutterable ferocity of the Church of Rome in
the fifteenth century.

VII. Had any man then living been bold enough to tell the world of
the Church of Rome's ferocity in primitive terms, he must have
been particularly desirous of being roasted alive: had he even so
represented it as to render himself comprehensible by the most
quick-witted, he must still have had the martyr's liking for
instruments of torture and the blazing faggot: Bracciolini, whom
nature had not gifted with the taste of Huss and Jerome of Prague,
was so conscious of the perilous position in which he placed
himself by undertaking a composition of this description, that he
communicated his alarm to Niccoli about the care he must take as
to the expression of his views lest he should give offence to
princes, in that memorable letter, from which I have already
quoted, dated Rome, October 8, 1423, in which he indirectly
informed his friend that he had commenced his forgery of the
Annals, by confessing that he was engaged on a certain work (or,
as he puts it, "certain tiny occupations" ("occupatiunculae
quaedam") in the style of Lord Byron, who would speak meanly of
any of his marvellous poems, Childe Harold or Manfred, as "a
thing"). "Besides," said he, "there are certain tiny occupations
in which I am engaged, which do not so much impede me in
themselves, as the way in which I tarry over them; for it is
necessary that I should be on my guard with respect to the
inclinations of princes, that their susceptibilities be not
offended, as they are much more ready to vent their rage than to
extend their forgiveness if anything be done amiss";--he then
ended by making an observation which we have already noticed to
the effect that beginnings were always difficult, especially when
an attempt was made to imitate the ancients: "Sunt praeterea
occupatiuculae quaedam, in quibus versor, quae non tantum ipsae me
impediunt, quantum earum expectatio. Oportet enim paratum esse
etiam ad nutum, ne offiendatur religio principum, quorum
indignatio promptior est, quam remissio, si quid omittatur. In
quibusvis quoque rebus principia sunt ardua ac difficilia; ut quod
antiquioribus in officio sit jucundum, promptum ac leve, mihi sit
molestum, tardum, onerosum" (Ep. II. 5). Therefore, Bracciolini,
in the most strained detortions from literal meaning,--in the
darkest nimbus of far-fetched elaboration of mystical allegory,
--placed before us the unparalleled cruelty of the Church of Rome
in the tiger-like thirst for blood of the Tiberius and the Nero of
the Annals.

VIII. In the same manner as we have in the Annals a true and life-
like picture of the savage and ravenous fierceness of the Church
of Rome in the fifteenth century, so we have the likenesses,
drawn, too, with the spirit and vigour of life about them, of the
persons who flourished at that period as Princes, Ministers, and
their agents and servants, though the likenesses may have been
reproduced with some partial poetical exaggeration with regard to
the peculiar characters, vices and singular debasement of
individuals: this, however, is very certain; people, then, were
altogether abnormal. We have already seen how historians tell us
that Cardinal Beaufort by his intrigues and those of the Queen of
Henry IV. hastened the ruin and untimely fate of Humphry, Duke of
Gloucester. Kings so troubled their subjects by their tyranny and
excesses, they were deposed, imprisoned, or put to death: in
England Richard II. was stripped of his kingdom; in Bohemia
Wenceslaus was twice thrown into prison; in Germany, Frederick,
Duke of Brunswick, was murdered only two days after he had been
elected Emperor; and in France, Jean Sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy,
had his life taken on the bridge of Montereau. In the East things
fared even worse: sovereigns trampled on sovereigns: Tamerlane,
the victor, treated with contumely the once proud conqueror, the
vanquished Bayazid, Sultan of Turkey, used his body as a footstool
or ladder by which to mount his horse; forced him to lie on the
ground while he fed and to pick up the crumbs that fell from his
table, and finally shut him up in an iron cage, where he died of a
broken heart: if these things be false, as they may be, or
exaggerated, as unquestionably they were, yet they point to the
spirit of the age, in the simple fact of their having been
recounted, and in the still more remarkable fact of their having
been believed.

There were no such emperors and persons in high places during the
opening period of the Christian aera; or Tacitus in his "History"
gives us a very wrong account of them; his views of them are, if
not favourable, lenient or apologetic: they do not seem to have
had the vices and faults of most men; Tacitus has otherwise
successfully thrown a veil over them. Were the whole truth known,
it might be found that there is a shameful exaggeration of the
vices of Roman Emperors: this looks most probable when we consider
the significant reflections made about Princes in one of his
miscellaneous productions, by the historian, David Hume,--not the
David Hume, _minor_, who, living a long time among the English,
and becoming fascinated with their ways, manners, customs and
civilization, mooted the union of England and Scotland, more
than a hundred years before the great event came off, in that
famous historical essay printed in London in 1605 and entitled
"De Unione Insulae Britanniae Tractatus;" nor David Hume _minimus_,
who wrote the "History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus" but
the David Hume, _major_, who wrote the "History of England"--that
"there are, perhaps, and have been for two centuries nearly two
hundred absolute princes, great and small in Europe; and allowing
twenty years to each reign, we may suppose that there have been
in the whole two thousand monarchs, or 'tyrants,' as the Greeks
would have called them, yet of these there has not been one, not
even Philip of Spain, so bad as Tiberius, Caligula, Nero or Domitian,
who were four in twelve among the Roman Emperors." When we find
David Hume thus putting the matter, in his Essay on "Civil Liberty,"
it makes us at once see how highly unlikely it is that all the
badness of human nature should have been concentrated in a few
individuals who lived at a particular period and in a particular
country, those individuals being Emperors, that particular period
the commencement of the Christian aera and that particular country
ancient Rome. Somewhere or other there must have been a great deal
of maligning; nor is it difficult to discover who the maligner was
as far as the characters in the Annals are concerned.

IX. No one will accuse Tacitus of disparaging Princes and persons
in high places; but everybody will admit, who is acquainted with
the productions of Bracciolini, that he speaks trumpet-tongued of
their delinquencies. When in his Dialogue, "De Infelicitate
Principum," an attempt is made by Cosmo de' Medici to uphold some
of them as "worthy of all praise and commendation for their
learning and estimable qualities," the passage follows, as the
reply of Niccoli (already quoted), of the hypocrisy and rascality
of all men, consequently, of the hypocrisy and rascality of kings,
ministers and their agents and servants. Nay, more: Cosmo de'
Medici is made to express his astonishment at the spirit of
detraction in Niccoli, but is not surprised as he lashes private
individuals, to find him bitterly inveighing against princes,
being ever ready and fluent in his abuse of the latter, even when
they do no harm, and cannot be reproached for their lives: Cosmo
de' Medici is, therefore, of opinion that exceptions ought to be
made in their favour, and wants to know why Niccoli should be so
strongly given to vituperate them:--"Tum, Cosmus, graviter ut
assolet, "Facillime," inquit, "Nicolae, (qui mos tuus est),
laberis ad detrahendum. Equidem minime miror, si quando es in
privatos dicatior, cum in ipsos principes tam facile inveharis,
et tamen nullius injuria, aut vitae contumelia facit, ut tam sis
promptus, aut copiosus in eorum objurgationem. Novi nonnullos qui
abs te excipi deberent ab reliquorum caterva viri docti, egregii,
omnique laude et commendatione dignissimi. Unde mecum saepius
cogitans addubitare cogor quaenam sit potissimum causa, cur in
vituperando sis quam, &c." (Pog. Op. p. 394)

We who live in these days and know how exemplary, as a rule, for
piety and excellent conduct, are Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and, in
fact, the clergy in the Church of Rome, as well as the dignitaries
and pastors in all the other ecclesiastical establishments of
Europe, and who, at the same time, honour and admire crowned heads
and princes, ministers and great men for their position and
virtues, cannot realize to ourselves how there ever could have
been such hatefully contemptible personages in the sovereign and
loftiest places as are depicted in the Annals, page after page,
nor can we bring ourselves to believe that there ever existed such
a bevy of brilliant malefactors, except in the judgment and fancy
of one who did not shine among the most amiable of mankind as he,
certainly, shone among the most able.



I. "Octavianus" as the name of Augustus Caesar.--II. Cumanus and
Felix as joint governors of Judaea.--III. The blood relationship
of Italians and Romans.--IV. Fatal error in the _oratio
obliqua_.--V. Mistake made about "locus".--VI. Objections of
some critics to the language of Tacitus examined.--VII. Some
improprieties that occur in the Annals found also in Bracciolini's
works.--VIII. Instanced in (_a_) "nec ... aut", (_b_)
rhyming and the peculiar use of "pariter".--IX. The harmony of
Tacitus and the ruggedness of Bracciolini illustrated.--X. Other
peculiarities of Bracciolini's not shared by Tacitus: Two words
terminating alike following two others with like terminations;
prefixes that have no meaning; and playing on a single letter for
alliterative purposes.

I. If there be one man more than another who might easily fall
into the error of supposing that an ancient Roman could take in
the most capricious and arbitrary way any name he pleased,
Flavius, or Julius, or Pius, it would be a man like Bracciolini,
who, as Secretary of the Popes for forty years, was in the habit
of seeing every now and then, and that, too, at very brief
intervals, a Cardinal, on being raised to the dignity of the
Papacy, take any name from whim or fancy, and, sometimes a very
queer name, too, as a Cossa taking the name of John, or a Colonna
the name of Martin. This being admitted, it seems quite consistent
that Bracciolini should speak of Augustus Caesar, before he was
Emperor, as "Octavianus." When we read in the XIIIth book of the
Annals (6), "imperatori" (Bracciolini's word for "General,"
Tacitus would have written "duci"), "quantum ad robur deesse, cum
octavo decimo aetatis anno Cneius Pompeius, nono decimo Caesar
OCTAVIANUS civilia bella sustinuerint, we may be assured that we
are reading words which were not written by Tacitus, and, as for
the matter of that, any Roman, because he would have known that
Augustus Caesar, before he was called Augustus, did not bear and
never could have borne, the name of Octavianus: the son of
Octavius, he was himself Octavius, not Octavianus, as his sister
was Octavia (so Pliny the Elder writes, "Marcellus _Octavia_"
not Octaviana, "sorore Augusti genitus" N.H. XIX. 6, 1.)
Shakespeare knew better than Bracciolini the name of Augustus,
before he was Emperor, by making Antony say to him:

    "And now, _Octavius_,
    Listen great things."
    _Julius Caesar_, Act IV. sc. 1.

Whenever we find a Roman's name ending in "_ianus_," we know
one of three things: either that he had taken his name from his
wife who was an heiress, as Domitianus; or that he was the eldest
son of a man who had taken his mother's name, which he was himself
allowed to assume by the marriage contract, as Titus Vespasianus;
or, when we find a repetition of the same name ending in "ius" and
"ianus," as "Aemilius Aemilianus," or in "ianus" and "ius" as
"Licinianus Licinius," we know that the individual was of the
Aemilian or Licinian family, and had married the heiress of
another great Roman house. This was the rule among that ancient
people, unless I have been misled by Father Hardouin (See
Harduinus. Praef. ad Histor. August. ex Nummis Antiq. Opera Sel.
p. 683). The termination, then, "ianus," always indicated marriage
with an heiress, just as such a marriage among ourselves is
heraldically marked by the husband and wife's coats of arms being
placed alongside of each other; and just as we never depart from
this custom in escutcheons, so the Romans never varied their rule
with respect to such names; then as Augustus Caesar neither
married an heiress, nor was the eldest son of a man who had formed
such a marriage; and as this custom of changing the termination of
the name was familiar to all the Romans,--if not to every ignorant
or ill-bred man, at least, to every well-informed, well-bred man
among them,--it follows as clearly, as that 2 and 2 make 4, that
Tacitus, the high-born gentleman and consul, could never have
written Caesar _Octavianus_.

I am exceedingly sorry to have made these remarks for the sake of
the writers of classical biographies, whose reputation is at
stake, for one and all, from Lemprière to Dr. William Smith,
mislead those who consult their pages as to the names of Augustus,
among which figures "Octavianus"; this is their own fault; they
will persist in regarding the Annals as the best and most
authentic history we have of the ancient Romans during the period
embraced in its records; they reject all other testimony, when all
other testimony is far more reliable.

I also grieve very much for the authorities of the British Museum
on account of the inscription they have had graved in the Roman
Gallery of Antiquities under the bust numbered 3 which represents
Augustus in his youth,--"_Octavianus_ Caesar Augustus"; I have been
compelled to point out this error in examining a work given out as
the production of the ancient Roman, Caius Cornelius Tacitus, when
it is the glaring forgery of a bungling mediaeval European
"grammaticus," that bungling mediaeval European "grammaticus" being
(as I am showing, and the reader is, I trust, becoming more and more
convinced as he proceeds) no other than Poggio Bracciolini.

II. I am also extremely sorry for Dr. Adam Clarke that his
accuracy in research and his extensive and extraordinary learning,
which have hitherto been indisputable, should be now called in
question; but they are jeoparded: in his valuable Commentary on
the Bible, he says in one of his notes to the Acts of the Apostles
(Ch. XXIV. v. 10): "Cumanus and Felix were, for a time, joint
governors of Judaea; but, after the condemnation of Cumanus, the
government fell entirely into the hands of Felix";--this is not
history. In the first place, Cumanus and Felix were never joint
governors of Judaea; in the second place, when Cumanus was
punished, his government did not "fall" to Felix; Felix succeeded,
for Felix was appointed to it. Dr. Clarke could have made this
statement on no other authority than that of Bracciolini, who in
the 54th chapter of the XIIth book of the Annals, says that Judaea
was under the government of Cumanus conjointly with Felix, the
province being so divided that Cumanus was governor of Galilee and
Felix of Samaria:--"Ventidio Cumano, _cui pars provinciae
habebatur_: ita divisis, ut huic Galilaeorum natio; Felici
Samaritae parerent" (An. XII. 54). Justus Lipsius was rather
startled at the number of mistakes he found in those words: in
addition to Felix and Cumanus never being joint governors, Judaea
was not a divided province, and Cumanus was, certainly, governor
over the Samaritans, as may be seen by reference to Josephus, who
can always be relied upon, for what Julius Caesar Scaliger, one of
the most learned and famous men of the sixteenth century, said of
him everybody knows, from Whiston (quoting it from Bishop Porteus),
placing it at the commencement of his admirable popular translation
of the Hebrew historian, that "he deserved more credit than all
the Greek and Roman writers put together." Well, Josephus, who
"deserved more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put
together," says that a disturbance broke out between the Jews
and the Samaritans, whereupon "the former burnt and plundered
the villages of the latter, and when what had been done reached
Cumanus, he _armed the Samaritans_ and marched against the Jews,"
clearly showing that by "arming the Samaritans," he was governor
of Samaria, and not Felix:--[Greek: Komas tinas ton Samareon
empraesantes diarpazousi. Koumanos de, taes praxeos eis auton
aphikomenaes ... tous Samareitas kathoplisas, exaelthen epi tous
Ioudaious] (Antiq. Jud. XX. 6). Having said this in his "Antiquities
of the Jews", Josephus more distinctly says in his "Wars of the Jews"
that the Emperor Claudius banished Cumanus, "after which he sent
Felix, the brother of Pallas, to be the governor of Judaea, Galilee,
Samaria and Peraea": [Greek: meta tauta Ioudaias men epitropon
Phaelika ton Pallantos adelphon ekpempei, taes te Galilaias kai
Samareias kai Peraias] (De Bello Jud. II. 12. 8).

Cardinal Baronius, in one of the forty folio volumes of his
"Annales Ecclesiastici" (A.C. 50. Tom I. p. 355), has fallen
exactly into the same mistake as Dr. Adam Clarke, and, from the
very same cause, placing implicit confidence in what is stated in
the Annals. He says that "the same Josephus is, nevertheless,
guilty of an evident mistake when he asserts that Cumanus was
convicted in Rome, and that Claudius thence sent to Judaea the
brother of his freedman Pallas,--Felix; for Felix was sent along
with Cumanus to that province, which was so divided between them,
that Felix ruled Samaria, but Cumanus the remainder of the
province":--"Sed patentis erroris nihilominus idem Josephus
arguitur, dum ait esse damnatum Romae Cumanum ac inde Claudium
Felicem Pallantis liberti Claudii Augusti germanum missum esse in
Judaeam. Nam Felix simul cum Cumano in eam provinciam missus est,
sic ea inter eos divisa, ut Felix Samariam administraret, Cumanus
vero reliquam provinciae partem."

Another Cardinal, Noris, who has the credit of being one of the
most accurate and learned antiquaries, chronologists and
historians of his age (the close of the seventeenth century), for
Zedler says of him (_sub vocibus_, "Heinrich Noris"), that he
was "einer der gelehrtesten Leute seiner Zeit, ein vollkommener
Antiquarius, Chronologus und Historicus," maintains, in his
Commentary on the Two Monumental Stones erected at Pisa in honour
of the two grandsons of the Emperor Augustus, ("Cenotaphia
Pisana",) that Cardinal Baronius was wrong when he made that
statement on the authority of the Jewish historian, because
"Josephus has nowhere said that Felix was sent from Rome as the
successor of Cumanus, but on the contrary, as may be clearly
gathered from the 11th," (it should be the 12th) "chapter of his
second book of the war, for that immediately after he has spoken
of the condemnation of Cumanus by the Emperor Claudius, he says
that that Emperor 'sent Felix, the brother of Pallas, to the Jews,
to administer their country along with Samaria and Galilee, while
he transferred Agrippa from Chalcis to a larger government, giving
him the province also which had been Felix's': now that was
Trachonitis, Bethanea and Gaulanitis: therefore Felix, before the
condemnation of Cumanus, was placed over Judaea, having been the
governor, according to Josephus, of that part of Galilee which lay
between the river Jordan and the hills of Coelesyria and
Philadelphia; and, consequently, he did not go to Judaea from
Rome, as that learned man wrongly ascribes to Josephus, but from
Galilee beyond the Jordan":--"Verum Josephus nusquam dixit Felicem
Roma missum Cumano successorem, immo aperte ex lib. 2. belli cap.
11 oppositum colligitur; siquidem cum dixisset Cumanum Romae
damnatum a Claudio Imperatore, statim ait:--'Post haec Felicem
Pallantis fratrem misit ad Judaeos, qui eorum provinciam cum
Samaria et Galilaea curaret. Agrippam vero de Chalcide in regnum
majus transtulit, tradens ei illam quoque provinciam, quae Felicis
fuisset.' Erat autem ista Trachonitis, Bethanea, Gaulanitis.
Igitur Felix, antequam damnato Cumano, Judaeae imponeretur,
Galilaeam transamnanam quae Jordane ac montibus Coelesyriae, ac
Philadelphiae includitur, auctore Josepho, regebat; ac proinde in
Judaeam non ex Urbe, ut minus recte vir eruditus Josepho imponit,
sed ex Galilaea transamnana advenit." (Cenotaphia Pisana. Diss.
sec. p. 333 ed. Ven. 1681.)

Of course, if Josephus wrote thus, the whole matter is settled;
Felix was governor with Cumanus, for the province over which he
had ruled, Peraea, or Galilee to the eastward of the Jordan, was
transferred to Agrippa: but "litera scripta manet:" on turning to
Josephus it is found that it was Philip, and not Felix, who held
the country that was given to Agrippa:--"And he" (the Emperor
Claudius) "transfers Agrippa from Chalcis to a larger government,
by giving him the tetrachy that had been PHILIP'S":--[Greek: ek de
taes Chalkidos Agrippan ein meizona Basileian metatithaesi, dous
auto taen te PHILIPPOI genomenaen tetrarchian.] (De Bello Jud. II. 12).
For such dishonesty in attempting to carry his point against another
Eminence Cardinal Noris ought to have blushed as scarlet as his

Ernesti, quite puzzled at the singular statement that a Roman
province had two governors, is of opinion that the error was
occasioned by statements to be found in the New Testament: "There
is," he says, "the additional testimony of St. Luke, or rather
St. Paul, who says that Felix was many years set over the Jews, in
the third or fourth year after Cumanus had been condemned": "Accedit
Lucae auctoritas, vel potius Pauli, qui Felicem multos annos
Judaeis praefuisse dicit, anno, postquam Cumanus damnatus est,
tertio aut quarto." It is just possible that the passage about
Felix being "many years a judge unto that nation," which occurs in
the Acts of the Apostles (c. XXIV. v. 10), was what actually
misled Bracciolini; the more so, as when he was in this country,
he discharged what Dean Hook called "the heavenly occupations of a
parish priest" (Life of Becket, p. 359), and for the very reason
that he was a consecrated man he must have taken a much greater
interest and placed far more trust in St. Paul, than Tacitus or
any other heathen among the ancient Romans was likely to have
done; but an error so extraordinary about the contemporary
government of his country could barely have been committed by such
an eminent public man and politician as Tacitus: this is the
reason why Cardinal Baronius convicted Josephus of "an evident
mistake," for as he properly observed parenthetically in the
passage we have quoted, that "we ought to attach faith to Tacitus,
whom, certainly, any learned man would clearly prefer to Josephus
in matters especially which appertain to Roman magistracies": "si
Tacito fidem praebemus, quem certe, in his praesertim quae ad
Romanos pertinent magistratus, quivis eruditus Josepho facile
anteferat" (l.c.). But as Tacitus did not write the Annals,
Josephus is to be preferred to Bracciolini; when, too, it is just
the kind of mistake which a writer of the XVth century, as
Bracciolini, however learned and careful he might be, would be
likely to fall into, from the testimony of St. Paul conflicting
with that of Josephus.

III. Another blunder is made by Bracciolini with regard to the
Italians and Romans, whom he looks upon as blood relations, fellow
countrymen, and possessors of a common capital in the City of
Rome. The Italians were not of the same descent as the Romans; and
when they were all brought under subjection to Rome in the first
half of the third century before the Christian aera, they beheld
themselves inhabitants of towns, some of which were "municipia",
(having their own laws and magistracy, enjoying the privilege of
voting in the comitia and soliciting for public offices in Rome),
others "coloni," (conquered places ruled over by poor Romans sent
to keep the inhabitants in subjection, having the jus Romanum,
Latinum or Italicum, and ceasing to be citizens of Rome); but in
either set of towns the freedom and the sacred rites, the laws of
race and of government, the oaths and the guardianship of the
Romans did not prevail; in fact, the Italians had not the private
rights of the Romans, and, therefore, in the language of Livy,
"they were not Roman citizens":--"non eos esse cives Romanos"
(XXXIV. 42). Even the privileges they enjoyed, such as immunity
from the tribute raised in the Roman provinces, they participated
with other people, to whom the privilege had been accorded at
various periods;--for example,--the inhabitants of Laodicaea in
Syria and of Beyroot in Phoenicia in the time of Augustus;--of
Tyre in the time of Severus;--of Antioch and the colony of Emissa
in Upper Syria in the time of Antonine, and of the colonies in
Mauritania in the time of Titus. Tacitus, therefore, as a Roman
citizen, could not, by any possibility, have spoken of Rome being
the "capital" of Italy, and the Italians and Romans being people
of the "same blood," as the author of the Annals does when he
writes: "non adeo aegram Italiam ut senatum suppeditare _urbi
suae_ nequiret; suffecisse olim indigenas _consanguineis
populis_" (XI. 23).

Nobody can understand those last five words; they have not been
understood by the editors, from Justus Lipsius and John Frederic
Gronovius to Ernesti and Heinsius: they are capable of more than
one interpretation on account of the brevity and obscurity of the
expression: I take it that Bracciolini meant to imply that "in the
ancient days the natives of Italy were quite on a par with their
'brethren' in Rome," referring to the time when Romans, Latins,
Etruscans and Sabines stood on the same level; and in order to
make out that Italians are still in the same position, he adds:
"there is no regretting what was anciently done in the State,"
"nec poenitere veteris reipublicae."

An Italian of the fifteenth century, and a Florentine like
Bracciolini, was glad to think, and proud to say, nay, ready to
believe, and to perpetuate the belief, that Italy and Rome were
identical, and the people consanguineous. We see how that pleasing
delusion is still cherished fondly by the living countrymen of
Bracciolini: General Garibaldi, to wit, as well as the late Joseph
Mazzini, always looked upon the City of Rome as the "natural"
capital of the Kingdom of Italy; and we can easily believe, with
what joy, pride, and confidence in its veracity the gallant
general or the devoted patriot, or any other Italian warrior or
politician, would have written, as Bracciolini wrote, the passage
that we have quoted from the eleventh book of the Annals.

IV. Nor is this the only time when Bracciolini does not maintain
the character he assumes of an ancient Roman. Narcissus,
addressing Claudius in the eleventh book of the Annals says: "he
did not _now_ mean to charge him"--that is, Silius, "with
adulteries": "nec _nunc_ adulteria objecturum" (XI. 30). The
language used seems to be very good language. A Roman historian,
though, would have written, "nec _tunc_": he could not have
fallen into the error of failing to define time in reference to
himself when ascribing words to persons, any more than he could
have failed to vary the grammar to the accusative and infinitive.
This elementary principle in Latin composition is known, (as Lord
Macaulay would have said,) "to every schoolboy." It was,
certainly, well known to such an accomplished "grammaticus" as
Bracciolini; and for the very simple reason that he adheres to it
on all other occasions. His neglect of it in this instance is as
strong a proof as any that can be advanced, of his forgery: it
makes that forgery the more obvious, his slip not being
accidental, but intentional: it is a deliberate violation of a
rule that must never be infringed; but as a countryman will
sometimes run after a jack-a-lantern, till running after it he
finds himself in a burying-ground, so Bracciolini suffered himself
to be misled by his literary will-o'-the wisp,--alliteration:
therefore he preferred writing "_n_ec _n_unc," instead
of "nec tunc;" he therefore did that which was fatal to the work
that he wanted to palm off upon the world as the composition of a
Roman, because a Roman would not have done this, because he could
not have done it. Definition of time in reference to himself was a
necessity of expression; he could not have sacrificed it for
alliteration or any other trick of composition, because he would
not have dreamt of changing the time in ascribing words to
persons. A modern, on the other hand, would think that a mere
trifle; left to himself, he would prefer it; he would also know
that his readers, being moderns like himself, would very much
admire his composition for the alliteration, whilst finding
definition of time in reference to the position of the speaker,
much more agreeable to their ears, from their being accustomed to
native historians who wrote in the vernacular so defining time in
all passages of the kind spontaneously, without art or
affectation, and not, as the ancient Romans, stiffly adopting the
harsh, unnatural fashion of defining it in reference to the
position of the writer.

V. Our word "box" (apart from three technical meanings, one in
botany, and two in mechanics), has six different significations for
things that have nothing in common with each other;--"a slap on
the chaps"; "a coffer or case for holding any materials"; "seats
in a theatre"; "a Christmas present"; "the case for the mariner's
compass," and "the seat on a coach for the driver." The Roman
word, too, "locus," has just the same half-dozen meanings for
things as unconnected;--"a passage"; "a country"; "an argument";
"a place"; "a sentence," and "a seat." In five instances "box" is
a primitive noun; when it means "a blow on the cheek with the palm
of the hand," it is a verbal substantive. Exactly the same number
of curiosities distinguished "locus." In five instances it was
masculine; when it signified "a seat in a theatre" it was neuter;
this was familiar to every Roman with a lettered education:
unfortunately it slipped the memory of Bracciolini when he wrote:
An. XV. 32: "equitum Romanorum _locos_ sedilibus plebis
anteposuit apud Circum." Tacitus would have written "loca."

VI. This brings me again to consider the Latin of Tacitus; no
reasonable objection can be found with it; severely captious
critics who carp at trifles, and look at language microscopically,
point out errors; but they are not so great as the mistakes
sometimes made by Cicero and Caesar, Sallust and Livy. As a
specimen of the objections we may give the following: a critic has
been bold enough to say that in the phrase "refractis palatiis
foribus, ruere intus" (Hist. I. 35), Tacitus uses the adverb for
_in_ a place instead of the adverb for _to_ a place. "Intus"
means "into" or "within," just as well as "in," as may be seen
from numerous instances in Cicero, Caesar, Ovid, Plautus, and
other writers of inferior reputation in prose and poetry. The
phrase then is: "having broken open the palace doors, to rush
_within_." Where is the mistake?

Another objection raised is that Tacitus wrongly writes "quantum"
as the corresponding adverb to "tanto," "_quantum_que hebes
ad sustinendum laborem miles, _tanto_ ad discordias promptior"
(Hist. II. 99). It was a common custom among the Romans to use
"quantum," if they preferred it, to "quanto," and to follow
it with "tanto": at any rate it occurs in Livy twice, if not
oftener: _quantum_ augebatur, _tanto_ majore (V. 10);--_quantum_
laxaverat, _tanto_ magis (XXXII. 5). The objections to the
grammar of Tacitus are, as a rule, all on a par with these two;
it is not, however, without some pleasurable feeling that one
comes across charges made against him of using incorrect forms
of speech, were it only from perceiving how extremely happy the
fault-finders seem to be in having such an opportunity of gratifying
their natural malice.

VII. Vossius, the Canon of Canterbury in the seventeenth century,
adopts an entirely different tone in his agreeable treatise on the
Roman historians--"De Historicis Latinis." Commenting on the
statement made by Alciati and Emilio Ferretti that Tacitus wrote
bad Latin, he bursts into an exclamation that may be considered
rather uncourteous when applied to His Eminence a Cardinal and to
an eminent Jurisconsult, that they were both silly and absurd:
"they say," exclaims Gerardus Johannes, "that he did not write
Latin properly: how silly is this! how absurd!"--"aiunt, eum non
Latine satis scribere: quam, hoc insubidum! quam insulsum!" (I.
30). Perhaps Vossius was of opinion that if Tacitus wrote
incorrectly, it must be upon the principle alleged by Quintilian
that "one kind of expression is grammatical, another kind Latin,"
"aliud esse grammatice, aliud Latine loqui" (I. 16) after the
accommodating fashion of that kind gentleman of etymology and
syntax, Valerius Probus, who in Aulus Gellius (XIII. 20. 1), said
"has urb_e_s" or "has urb_is_" was the more correct according
to metrical convenience when writing verses, or sonorous
utterance when delivering a set oration, which (without being
Romans), we can easily understand, when some of our poets rhyme
"clear" to "idea," and a Clerkenwell Green orator prefers
"obstropalous" to "obstreperous." On some such grounds alone can
excuse be found for some anomalous expressions in the Annals; they
are irreconcilable to the common rules of grammar; and what may
seem strange to the reader, though to me it is quite natural, the
very same improprieties that occur in the Annals of words and
phrases not according with the established principles of writing
occur also in the acknowledged works of Bracciolini.

VIII. (_a_). When the Romans used the disjunctive particle,
"nec," in the first branch of a negative sentence, the same word
(or its equivalent "neque,") was used in the subsequent branch of
the proposition. To couple "aut" with "nec" was a wrong correlative.
The rule was so absolute that I know but of one Roman writer who
infringed it; and that was because he was a poet,--Ovid:

    "_Nec_ piget, _aut_ unquam stulte elegisse videbor."
    Her. XVI. 167.

    "_Nec_ plus Atrides animi Menelaus habebit
    Quam Paris; _aut_ armis anteferendus erit."
    Ib. 355-6.

It will be seen that the error, which is committed twice, occurs
in the same poem, the XVIth Heroic, or The Epistle of Helen to
Paris, and under the same circumstance of pressure,--the want of a
word that began with a vowel,--because a word beginning with a
consonant could not, of course, follow the last foot of a dactyle
ending with a consonant;--therefore Ovid took refuge in what is
called "poetical license," which is a gentle term for expressing
departure from syntax. Ovid never again committed the offence,
quite sufficient to convince us that it went against his grain to
have so written in his XVIth Heroic; he knew that it was not
elegant; it was not, in fact, correct, nor in his style; and he
would not have done it but that he was cramped by verse. But why,
uncramped by verse, the author of the Annals should have written:
"hortatur miles, ut hostem vagum, _neque_ paci _aut_ proelio paratum,"
instead of "_neque_ proelia," is difficult to determine, except
that he was desirous of imitating Bracciolini, who writes in the
letter to his friend Niccoli from which we have already quoted
(Ep. II. 7): "muta igitur propositum, et huc veni, _neque_ te
terreat longitudo itineris, _aut_ hiemis asperitas." The imitation
is, besides, so very close that we find in both cases "neque" is
preferred in the first clause to the more usual form of "nec."

VIII. (_b_.) In order to show how closely the expressions
peculiar to Bracciolini and his artifices of composition resemble,
(as he did not mean them to do, though they did), the style of
writing and the language in the Annals, I need, without wandering
over the whole work, simply confine myself to the remainder of the
sentence from which this fragment is taken; and beg the reader to
mark carefully the italicized syllables and words "hortatur miles,
ut hostem vagum, _neque_ paci _aut_ proelio paratum, sed perfidiam
et ignaviam fuga confitentem exu_erent_ sedibus, gloriaeque _pariter_
et praedae consul_erent_" (An. XIII. 39).

First, there is the correspondence of the two last syllables of
the words at the end of two almost equally balanced clauses, with
more syllables in the first than the second clause: "sed perfidiam,
et ignaviam fuga confitentem exu_erent_ // sedibus, gloriaeque
pariter et praedae consul_erent_ //. It will be seen, (without
multiplying examples), that the very same thing occurs in the
passage quoted in the preceding chapter from Bracciolini's letter
about the Baths of Baden: "et simul quandoque cum mulieribus
lav_antes_, // et sertis quoque comas orn_antes_" // (Ep. I. 1).

There is the altogether peculiar use of "pariter" in the sense of
equality of association or time--"gloriaeque _pariter_ et
praedae consulerent," just as in Bracciolini's Treatise "De
Miseria Humanae Conditionis" (Pog. Op. p. 121): "Victis postmodum
_pariter_ victoribus imperarunt." Three things ought to be
noticed: first, "pariter" is the equivalent of "simul"; secondly,
it is placed between the connected words; and, thirdly, the phrase
ends with a four-syllabled verb--"imperarunt,"--"consulerent."
That this is not only Bracciolini's individual phraseology, but
his stereotyped cast of expression, is at once seen in the
extraordinary sameness of the three things occurring when he again
uses it in the Annals: "vox _pariter_ et spiritus
_raperentur_" (An. XIII. 16).

IX. The composition of any writer can be easily detected from
examining his affinities of language as displayed not only in his
use of words, but in his construction of sentences and combination
of words.

Nobody can read Tacitus, and not come to the conclusion that if
any man ever wrote harmoniously, it is he; but any one reading the
Annals must come to the very opposite conclusion, that Bracciolini
is the very prince of rugged writers. By varying the accents,
Tacitus manages to please the ear even when ending sentences with
ugly polysyllabic words, as (taking the instances from the opening
of his work): "suspectis sollicitis, adoptanti placebat" (I. 14);
"deterius interpretantibus tristior, habebatur" (ib.); "Lusitaniam,
specie legationis, seposuit" (I. 13). This is the unmusical way
in which Bracciolini ends sentences with long words (taking the
instances, also, from the commencement of the forgery): "victores
longinquam militiam aspernabantur" (An. XI. 10):--"potissimum
exaequaebantur officia ceremoniarum" (An. XI. 11):--"Claudio
dolore, injuriae credebatur" (An. XII. 11). Almost the same ring
and ruggedness are to be found in:--"marmorea tabula epigramma
referente" (Ruin. Urb. Rom. Descript. Op. Pog. p. 136);
--"magistratus, officia, imperia deferuntur" (Mis. Hum. Cond. I.
Op. Pog. p. 102); "homines amplissimam materiam suppeditarunt"
(De Nobil. Op. Pogg. p. 77).

X. Tacitus avoids, as much as the genius of his native tongue will
permit, two words following each other with the same terminations;
Bracciolini is not only much given to this, but very partial to a
reduplication of sounds, as if the jingle, instead of being most
disagreeable, was excessively pleasant to the ear, as in his Letter
describing the trial and death of Jerome of Prague (Ep. I. 2):
--"_rerum_ plurim_arum_ sci_entiam_, eloq_uentiam_"; and in the
Annals (XI. 38) "od_ii_, gau_dii_, ir_ae_, tristiti_ae_."

Bracciolini is fond of using prefixes that have no meaning, as in
his Funeral Oration on the death of his friend Niccoli: "moneta
_ob_signari est coepta concipiebant" (Op. Pog. p. 278), where
he uses "_ob_signari" for "signari," "ob" being without meaning:
so in the Annals: "testamentum Acerroniae requiri, bonaque
_ob_signari jubet" (XIV. 6).

Another peculiarity of Bracciolini's is (for alliterative
purposes) the playing upon a single letter that is repeated again
and again at the beginning, in the middle, and, if the letter will
allow it, at the end of words. "P" will not permit of being used
in Latin at the end of words; but we find Bracciolini thus playing
with it in the very first of his letters:--"_p_rojicit eam _p_ersonam
sibi acce_p_tiorem, cum illam multi _p_etant _p_orrectis manibus,
atque i_p_se," &c. (Ep. I. 1). But "m" does admit of being used
at the end of words, and thus we find him, with a friskiness that
the staid Tacitus would have in vain essayed to imitate, frolicking
with it as a juggler with balls; for the rapidity of the repetition
can be compared only to the rapidity of conveyance displayed by a
conjuror when he receives into and passes out of his hands a number
of balls with which he is playing: "_m_ox, ut o_m_itteret _m_aritum,
e_m_ercatur, suu_m m_atri_m_oniu_m_ pro_m_ittens" (An. XIII. 44).



I.--The literary merit and avaricious humour of Bracciolini.
--II. He is aided in his scheme by a monk of the Abbey of Fulda.
--III. Expressions indicating forgery.--IV. Efforts to obtain a
very old copy of Tacitus.--V. The forgery transcribed in the Abbey
of Fulda.--VI. First saw the light in the spring of 1429.

I. We have pointed out in the preceding chapter some of the more
glaring errors committed by Bracciolini in style and syntax,
customs and history, not with the view of showing that Niccoli
made any mistake when he recommended him to take the task in hand
of forging the Annals; for in no way did Niccoli overrate the
merit of his friend. The Latin of Bracciolini, though not equal in
its elegance to that of his splendid successor, Poliziano, was,
nevertheless, superior to the Latin of any of his great
contemporaries, none of whom, besides, had his versatility and
varied attainments nor his wisdom and philosophy. The world now
knows, as his Florentine friend then knew, that he had the
requisite splendour of genius to undertake the daring task of
writing history as eminently as Tacitus, that is, with as powerful
a conception, and as superior an expression: he had already
written nobly, sensibly, purely and simply; he had acquired in the
Court of Rome, and, what we may call, the Court of the Royal
Prelate, Beaufort, the necessary experience of public affairs and
leading individuals, which fitted him to pass sovereign judgment
on great men and public events, and he was gifted with the
acuteness, the understanding and the prudence to lay down lessons
of instruction for mankind.

We have seen with what modesty he approached the immortal
production that was fated to lift the name of Tacitus, where it
was not before, above even those of Herodotus, Thucydides and
Xenophon, Caesar, Sallust and Livy: yet he hesitated, questioning
much whether he could clothe himself in the garb of an
authoritative ancient speaking in lofty tones to the whole world
and to all mankind. He had, too, to take as his model a writer who
had not his fluency, and who is never great but when concise. This
is the case with himself in the Annals, from his striving to do
what his prototype did; with this exception, that when he is great
he is never natural. In imitating this conciseness, he is the
happiest instance of a writer illustrating the Horatian adage of
"striving to be brief, and becoming obscure":

   "Brevis esse laboro,
    Obscurus fio."
    _De Arte Poet._ 25-6:

ever and anon he falls into a graceless obscurity from compressing
into a few words what he ought to have said in a more expanded
form: his great fault is that he outdoes Tacitus in conciseness:
hence he keeps his reader in ignorance of things which would have
been known if he had only more fully disclosed them.

His avarice swayed his will stronger than his compunctions. The
five hundred gold sequins, which were to be counted out to him on
the completion of the work, which it was calculated would occupy
three years, was too tempting an offer; and yet the offer was not
sufficiently liberal in his opinion: as we have seen, he suggested
that it should be increased one-fifth; he was right; for in those
days as much, and even twice as much, was sometimes given for a
mere translation: Lorenzo Valla got five hundred gold sequins for
his Latin translation of Thucydides; Filelfo would have received
twice as much, and, in addition to the thousand gold pieces, a
handsome town house in Rome and a good landed estate if he would
have translated the Iliad and the Odyssey into Latin verse.
Bracciolini may, therefore, have succeeded in obtaining the
increased price of six hundred sequins. Still he was not the kind
of man to have been satisfied with this only: when he translated
Diodorus Siculus, he required to be supported while engaged in its
execution; and supported he was by the liberality of the Popes.
The proposal of Lamberteschi included board and lodging, and in
the house of the Florentine; Bracciolini expressed his willingness
to accept that; but on the condition that Lamberteschi did not
move about, for he wanted, as a prime necessity, to remain quite
quiet, as the great literary undertaking in which he was about to
be engaged would call for a more than usual amount of patient
attention and labour: "libenter vivam cum Piero, nisi Scythae
simus, libenter enim quiesco" (Ep. I. 17). We have seen that
Bracciolini did not avail himself of what was proffered to him in
this matter on account of his re-appointment to the Papal
Secretariate: had it not been so he would have unquestionably
called upon his friend Lamberteschi to fulfil this part of the
contract; as before his appointment to an ecclesiastical living in
England, he had been boarded and lodged by Cardinal Beaufort, and
that too, on a scale of regal magnificence. He tells us himself in
one of his Letters (Ep. I. 6), that, while the Cardinal, as
vagrant as a Scythian, was continually absent from home, (it must
have been on his episcopal visitations or in the discharge of his
State duties), he staid behind in the Palace in London, passing
his time peacefully and pleasantly in a splendid library, and
vying at the expense of his princely patron with the magnificence
of the king himself in the sumptuousness of his fare and the
costliness of his apparel: "Dominus meus, quasi continuo abest,
vagus ut Scytha, ego autem hic dego, in quiete libris involvor.
Providetur mihi pro victu et vestitu, idque est satis, neque enim
amplius vel Rex ex hoc tanto apparatu rerum capit." [Endnote 297]

When we bear in mind his strong desire for gain, we may consider
it not unlikely that, adhering to his bargain, he exacted from
Lamberteschi some equivalent in lieu of the board and lodging: be
that as it may, after the lapse of three years, (as may be seen
from letters that passed between himself and Niccoli), he had then
completed, as had been rightly calculated, the first instalment of
his forgery.

II. In those days when so many valuable works ascribed to the
ancients were being constantly recovered, there was a very general
(though as I have shown, very silly) belief abroad, that any
ancient work, consequently, the lost History of Tacitus, might yet
be found in some dark corner of Europe,--some barbarous country
such as Germany, Hungary, or Bohemia. Accident decided that
Bracciolini chose a place for the asserted recovery of what he had
forged different from what had been arranged between himself and
his friends in 1422, while they were devising the fabrication,
namely, Hungary: when Bracciolini said that, "if he did go to
Hungary he would pretend that he had come from England," the
object must have been that no one should know the country where
the MS. had been recovered; any busybody would be thus effectively
foiled in visiting the right spot, and there prying about, making
inquiries and ascertaining all the particulars with respect to the
alleged discovery of some recent rare manuscript. The place thus
decided on by accident was a town in Saxony at the farthest
eastern extremity of that country on the borders of Bohemia, named
Hirschfeldt, formerly the capital of Hesse Cassel, but which,
after the peace of Westphalia, when it was secularized, became
only a part of that principality. In the far-away times, it was
famous for an Abbey of the Benedictine monks, which had been
founded on the banks of the Fulda in the first half of the eighth
century, in the year 737, in the reign of King Pepin, by a
disciple of St. Boniface, St. Lul, who became Boniface's successor
in the Bishopric of Mayence. The accident which caused Bracciolini
to choose this convent, the most famous in Germany, as the place
whence his forgery was to emanate, was his forming the
acquaintance of a member of the abbey, who attended in the name of
his brother Benedictines to watch a case that was being litigated
for the monastery in the ecclesiastical courts of Rome. From some
reason unexplained this monk was under obligation to Bracciolini,
who determined that this holy man should be the medium of his
forgery being placed before the world. The monk had the necessary
qualifications for the tool that was wanted; he was needy and
ignorant; above all things, he was stupid. "The good fellow," says
Bracciolini in his scornful way to Niccoli, "who has not our
attainments, thought that we were equally ignorant of what he
found he did not know himself"--"Vir ille bonus, expers studiorum
nostrorum, quicquid reperit ignotum sibi, id et apud nos
incognitum putavit" (Ep. III 12).

He gave this booby monk a long list of books that he was to hunt
out for him on the library shelves of the Abbey of Fulda,
including in the catalogue the works of Tacitus; and as he wanted
a copy of the latter in the very oldest writing that could be
procured, he enjoined the monk to give him a full description of
certain books that were carefully put down in a list; these being
very numerous, the monk could not possibly divine that the book
particularly wanted was a Tacitus in the oldest characters that
could be found.

III. These instructions were given in May, 1427; and, notwithstanding
the care and wisdom shown in the matter, something before the close
of the summer that year oozed out which seemed to menace a disclosure
of the imposture: rumours had got abroad evidently about what was
transpiring between Niccoli and Bracciolini, which greatly alarmed the
former; but he was quieted by his bolder friend assuring him that "when
Tacitus came, he would keep it a secresy; that he knew all the tittle-
tattle that was going on,--whence it came,--through whom, and how it
was got up; but that he need have no fear, for that not a syllable
should escape him."--"Cornelium Tacitum, cum venerit, observabo penes
me occulte. Scio enim omnem illam cantilenam, et unde exierit, et per
quem, et quis eum vendicet. Sed nil dubites, non exibit a me ne
verbo quidem."

These words occur in a letter that bears date Rome, the 25th of
September, 1427; and whatever interpretation the reader may feel
disposed to put upon them, he must admit, after considering all
that has been said, that they seem to confirm wonderfully the
truth of our theory, pointing, as they unquestionably do, to some
mysterious and deep secret about Tacitus that existed only between
Niccoli and Bracciolini; and what could that secret be? It could
not be about the recovery of a rare and valuable copy of the works
of Tacitus. There would be no necessity of keeping that by one
secretly; on the contrary, the proper thing to do was to noise it
abroad immediately, and as publicly as could be, so that it might
be known to a wide circle of book-collectors, and as large a sum
got for it as could be obtained; but if it were a Tacitus in the
oldest characters that were to be found in order that it should be
made use of as a copy for the letters in a figment, one can then
easily understand the cause for all this secresy. "Thus conscience
doth make cowards of us all." In fact, forgery, and nothing else
than forgery, seems to be the easiest as well as the most feasible
explanation of these remarks, which, were it not for this theory,
would, instead of being very clear, be quite nebulous.

IV. The Tacitus that was to have come from Germany did not,
however, arrive. "I hear nothing of the Tacitus that is in
Germany," he observes towards the close of the letter. "I am
expecting an answer from the monk."--"De Cornelio Tacito qui est
in Germania nil sentio; expecto responsum ab illo monacho."
(Ep. III. 14.)

Towards the close of September, then, 1427, what Bracciolini had
written had not yet been given to the transcriber: time was
passing; and Niccoli sent him in the following month what must
have been the oldest copy of Tacitus he had in his collection.
Bracciolini thanked him for it, but complained that the Lombard
characters, in which it was written, were half effaced; and that
if he had only known what he was about to do, he would have spared
him the trouble. He went on to say that he remembered having read
a copy of Tacitus in antique characters which Niccoli had in his
possession, and which he had purchased at the sale of the library
of his old friend Coluccio Salutati, or some other large book
collector. He was desirous of having that or some other that could
be read; for it would be difficult to find a transcriber who,
without making mistakes, could read the manuscript that he had
sent him:--"Misisti mihi librum Senecae, et Cornelium Tacitum,
quod est mihi gratum; et is est litteris longobardis, et majori ex
parte caducis, quod si scissem, liberassem te eo labore. Legi olim
quemdam apud vos manens litteris antiquis; nescio Colucii ne
esset, an alterius. Illum cupio habere, vel alium, qui legi
possit; nam difficile erit reperire scriptorem qui hunc codicem
recte legat" (Ep. III. 15).

It is clear from these words that the copy of Tacitus which
Bracciolini received in October 1427 from his friend Niccoli so
very badly written in Lombard letters as to be for the most part
indistinguishable, could not have been for his own reading, nor
for his making a copy of it as he was in the habit of doing with
the ancient classics, but from his saying that it could not be
correctly read by a transcriber, it must have been for the purpose
of placing it in the hands of such a person. But why should he put
such a Tacitus in the hands of a transcriber? Let the reader ask
himself that question; and his reply will be, that it could have
been with no other object than that the History and the other
works of Tacitus should be copied into the oldest characters that
could be obtained by Bracciolini; with this further and more
important motive in view, to add to the acknowledged works of
Tacitus the new portion that had just been forged, all uniformly
transcribed in the same equally old letters in order to deceive
the world as to the very great antiquity, and, consequently, the
implied authenticity of the fabrication. Bracciolini is,
accordingly, most anxious to get a very old copy of Tacitus. "Take
care, therefore," he continues in his letter to Niccoli, "that I
have another, if it can be done; but you can do it, if you will
strive your utmost":--"ideo cura ut alium habeam, si fieri potest;
poteris autem, si volueris nervos intendere" (ibid). His anxiety
also is very great for the transcriber to set to work at once by
his adding: "You have, however, sent me the book without the
parchment. I know not the state of mind you were in when you did
this, except that you were as mad as a March hare. For what book
can be transcribed, if there be not the parchment? Have a care to
it, then, and, also, to a second manuscript, but, above all, keep
in mind the vellum."--"Tu tamen misisti librum sine chartis, quod
nescio qua mente effeceris, nisi ut poneres lunam in Ariete.
[Endnote 303] Qui enim potest liber transcribi desint Pergamenae?
Cura ergo de eis, et item de altero codice, sed primum de chartis
confice" (ibid).

The parchment came in good time, as well as a second old copy of
Tacitus that could be read by a transcriber.

V. This was the 2lst of October, 1427. Exactly eleven months and
ten days elapsed, during the whole of which time nothing more is
heard about old copies of Tacitus and transcriptions on calfskin;
all again went on in profound silence and secresy till the llth of
September, 1428, when the mountain again laboured; and a little
bit of news that dropped from Bracciolini bore a close resemblance
to the appearance of a small mouse: "Not a word," says he, "of
Cornelius Tacitus from Germany; nor have I heard thence any
further news of his works," showing that this must have been in
reply to some remark in a letter of Niccoli's expressing surprise,
it may be, at the very long time that was being taken in the
transcription of the works of Tacitus with the additional new
bit:--"Cornelius Tacitus silet inter Germanos, neque quicquam
exinde novi percepi de ejus operibus" (Ep. III. 19).

Evidently the needy, ignorant, stupid monk of Hirschfeldt was not
over busy in the Abbey of Fulda transcribing the forgery of
Bracciolini and incorporating it with the works of Tacitus in
closely copied Lombard characters of great antiquity. The monk was
not only slow at his work; he was also negligent; for when he went
to Rome in the winter following, and should have taken his
transcript to Bracciolini, he had left it behind him at the abbey.
"The Hirschfeldt monk has come without the book," writes
Bracciolini angrily to Niccoli on the 26th February, 1429; "and I
gave him a sound rating for it; he has given me his assurance that
he will be back aoain soon for he is carrying on a suit about his
abbey in the law-courts, and will bring the book. He made heavy
demands upon me; but I told him I would do nothing for him until
_I_ have the book; I am, therefore, in hopes that I shall have it,
as he is in need of my good offices":--"Monachus Hersfeldensis
venit absque libro; multumque est a me increpatus ob eam causam;
asseveravit se cito rediturum, nam litigat nomine Monasterii,
et portaturum librum. Rogavit me multa; dixi me nil facturum,
nisi librum haberemus; ideo spero et illum nos haberemus, quia
eget favore nostro " (Ep. III. 29).

VI. As he anticipated, the book ultimately turned up; it might
have been in a week or two, or it might not have been till two or
three months after; for in a letter that bears the date of neither
the year nor the day,--(which I think was sometime in March 1429,
though the Chevalier de Tonelli, in his Collection of the Letters
of Bracciolini, conjectures must have been in the first week in
May,--some time before the 6th of that month,)--a passage occurs
in which Bracciolini informs his friend Niccoli that, as far as
himself was concerned, everything was "now complete with respect
to the 'Little Work,' concerning which he would on some future
opportunity write to him, and at the same time send it to him to
read in order to get his opinion of it": "Ego jam Opusculum
absolvi, de quo alias ad te scribam, et simul legendum mittam, ut
exquirendum judicium tuum" (Ep. III. 30). I take it that he is
here alluding in his customary jesting manner (from his writing
"opusculum" with a big O, to his "great" undertaking, the Annals.
If he is not joking, but serious, he must, then, of course, be
referring to his treatise, "De Avaritia," which is, certainly, a
"little affair," and which he wrote in 1429. However, the monk in
the Abbey of Fulda, who had taken a very long time in his
transcription of the forgery, had finished his work by the 26th of
February, 1429, and must have placed it in Bracciolini's hands a
little before or after the month of March in that year.

The deed was then now done. With the consummation of the forgery,
all that correspondence suddenly came to an end which had been
carried on for years by Bracciolini with Niccoli relative to
Tacitus; that correspondence has given much additional colouring
of truthfulness to the theory I have proposed to myself to uphold;
if there had been nothing else convincing, it should, by itself,
leave no shadow of a shade of doubt that Bracciolini forged the
Annals of Tacitus. Though, too, we have no positive record of it,
we may be as sure as if we had, that the last six books of that
production first saw the light some time in the spring of the year



I. Recapitulation, showing the certainty of forgery.--II. The
Second Florence MS. the forged MS.--III. Cosmo de' Medici the man
imposed upon.--IV. Digressions about Cosmo de' Medici's position,
and fondness for books, especially Tacitus.--V. The many
suspicious marks of forgery about the Second Florence MS.: the
Lombard characters; the attestation of Salustius.--VI. The
headings, and Tacitus being bound up with Apuleius, seem to
connect Bracciolini with the forged MS.--VII. The first authentic
mention of the Annals.--VIII. Nothing invalidates the theory in
this book.--IX. Brief recapitulation of the whole argument.

I. We have, then, seen, how, from the inception to the
commencement of the forgery;--how, from its first suggestion to
Bracciolini by Lamberteschi and its approval by Niccoli in
February, 1422, down to the finishing of the transcription by the
monk of the Abbey of Fulda in February, 1429, and its delivery
into the hands of Bracciolini in probably the month following,
seven years elapsed. The time was, certainly, long enough for the
fabrication to have been elaborated into the remarkable
completeness by which it is distinguished, and which secured the
signal success with which, to all appearances, it was immediately,
as it has all along, been attended. Nearly two years were passed
in considering how the last Six Books of the Annals could best be
done: the composition of those few books was commenced about
January, 1424, and completed by May, 1427: several months were
then occupied in endeavouring to procure the oldest copy of
Tacitus that could be got to serve as a guide for the copyist, nor
was it until October, 1427, that the transcriber was supplied with
a copy in small Lombard characters; the transcription was then
begun, and, after a year and a few months, in February, 1429, the
work was finally completed, and next month probably placed in the
hands of the fabricator.

Throughout this we see the exercise of an exceeding caution from
the beginning to the end which would have provided against all
mistakes and mischances, if it were in the power of man to be on
his guard against all mischances and mistakes in an achievement of
such a description. We have pointed out a few of these mistakes;
they may in some instances be considered trifling; looked at from
one point of view, trifling they are; but looked at from another
point of view, they are most important, nay, startling, because
they are mistakes that could not, in any instance, have been made
by Tacitus; in several instances they could not have been made by
any ancient Roman whomsoever.

Still, the wonder is, not that Bracciolini made these mistakes,
but that he did not make a great many more. As for the general
merit of his achievement, it is actually marvellous;--the most
phenomenal thing ever known to have been done in literature. It
has not come within the scope of this inquiry that I should point
out the successes of Bracciolini in imitating Tacitus: suffice it
that they are sustained, continuous, close, felicitous,
wonderful;--so much so that frequently in the pursuing of this
investigation I have been induced to throw it aside as a mere
barren paradox instead of a thoroughly sound hypothesis, aye,
based on a foundation as firm as the Great Pyramid; but every now
and then the occurrence of some mistake, which, though at the
first glance, it looked very small, nay, insignificant,--of no
importance whatever, yet considered more minutely, it bulked out
into an egregious, colossal, monstrous blunder which made it
impossible for me to believe that the Annals was a production by

If errors pointed out in language or style, in statements or
grammar, have shaken the reader's faith in the authenticity of the
Annals, that faith must have been still more shaken by the
mysterious allusions made by Bracciolini in his letters to Niccoli
about Tacitus; the conjectures I have hazarded on these must have
gained additional force when references followed to an unknown
monk of Hirschfeldt, with mention of copies of Tacitus in Lombard
writing, parchment for transcription, and other matters denoting
the completion of a literary work in those days.

II. Now, if there be any truth in my theory,--if Bracciolini
really forged the Annals,--further, if a transcript of it was made
by a monk of the Abbey of Fulda, and if the manuscript is still in
existence, it must necessarily be the oldest containing the last
six books of the Annals; I will add this more, that if there be
one place more likely than another where it would be found, it is
the city whence the offer emanated, namely, Florence, and if there
be one library more likely than another where it would be deposited,
it is the library founded by (for a reason that will be immediately
seen) the Medici family. Well, it does so happen that the oldest
MS. of Tacitus containing the last six books of the Annals is
really preserved in Florence; and in that library, the foundation
of which was laid by Cosmo de' Medici, and which is known by the
name of the Mediceo-Laurentian Library.

III. There can be very little doubt that Cosmo de' Medici was the
famous individual,--the very rich man, for whom the three
Florentines, Lamberteschi, Niccoli, and Bracciolini, conspired to
get up a forgery of Tacitus. It certainly never once comes out in
the correspondence, in language that can be considered "totus,
teres atque rotundus," that the man who was imposed upon by
Bracciolini and his two accomplices, and who was shamefully
deceived into paying the little fortune of five, six, or even more
hundred gold sequins for a forgery, was their own most affectionate,
intimate, and eminent friend, the merchant of a fortune that placed
him on a level with the princes of Italy, Cosmo de' Medici;--but
Cosmo de' Medici it was: any other man than he would have jumped
at such an offer as having the whole history of Livy, instead
of a small fragment of Tacitus, which Bracciolini was positive
that he could get (because he was positive that he could forge
it); but the illustrious Florentine peremptorily refused the offer,
there being no other historian whom he liked so much as Tacitus,
nor whom he read with so much pleasure and profit, as borne testimony
to by Vossius in his Treatise on the Roman Historians, when speaking
of Tacitus in terms which lend additional strength to the truth of
our theory of forgery. "The diction of Tacitus," he says, "is more
florid and exuberant in the books of the History, terser and drier
in the Annals: meanwhile he is staid and eloquent in both: no other
historian was read with equal pleasure by Cosmo de' Medici, the
Duke of Tuscany, a man, who, if there was one, possessed the
greatest genius for statesmanship, and was clearly made to rule":
--"Dictio Taciti floridior uberiorque in Historiarum est libris,
pressior, sicciorque in Annalibus. Interim gravis utrobique et
disertus. Non alium Historicum aeque lectitaret Cosmus Medices,
Hetruriae Dux, vir, si quis alius, civilis prudentiae intelligentis-
simus, planeque ad imperandum factus" (Vossius. De Historicis Latinis.
Lib. I. c. 30. p. 146). Muretus says the same in the second volume
of his Orations (Orat. XVIII.): "Cosmo de' Medici, who was the
first Grand Duke of Tuscany, a man made to rule, who laid down the
doctrine, that that which is commonly called good fortune consists
in wise and prudent conduct, delighted in the works of Tacitus;
and from the reading of them he derived the most excessive
enjoyment":--"Cosmus Medices, qui primus Magnus Etruriae Dux fuit,
homo factus ad imperandum, qui eam, quae vulgo fortuna dicitur, in
consilio et prudentia consistere docuit, Taciti libros in deliciis
habebat; eorumque lectione avidissime fruebatur."--

IV. We may here observe parenthetically that both Vossius and
Muretus err in speaking of Cosmo de' Medici, the former as "the
Duke," the second as the "First Grand Duke" of Tuscany: it was not
till the sixteenth century that the members of that family
obtained the absolute sovereignty: in the fifteenth century there
was, as Roscoe says in his Life of Lorenzo de' Medici (p. 6), no
"prescribed or definite compact" between them and the people; the
authority which Cosmo de' Medici exercised consisted, according to
that correct and elegant writer, "rather in a tacit influence on
his part, and a voluntary acquiescence on that of the people."

That Roscoe was quite right can be seen by consulting a
contemporary writer, Bartolommeo Fazio; in the biographical
sketches that he has given of the most illustrious men of his
time, who distinguished themselves as poets, orators, lawyers,
physicians, painters, sculptors, private citizens, generals, and
kings and princes, he has placed Cosmo de' Medici under the
heading, "Of Some Private Citizens," ("De Quibusdam Civibus
Privatis"); furthermore, he speaks of him in the following terms:
--"As a civilian he was exceedingly rich, being not only the
wealthiest of all the private men of our age, but in that respect
to be compared, moreover, with princes of no mean standing":
--"Divitiis civilem modum longe excessit omnium non tantum
privatorum hominum nostrae tempestatis locupletissimus, sed etiam
cum non mediocribus principibus ea re conferendus" (Bartol.
Facius. De Viris Illustribus, p. 57. Flor. Ed. 1745).

After he has spoken of the active part that Cosmo de' Medici took
in the administration of public affairs, and the valuable advice
that he gave in matters pertaining to war;--of the churches and
other public buildings that he erected at his own expense;--the
numbers of men whom he raised to public posts;--his beneficence to
the poor;--his liberality to foreigners;--his hospitality to his
countrymen; and the wonderful way in which he had adorned and
embellished his private mansion with Tuscan marble;--Fazio ends by
saying that, "in authority and estimation he was unquestionably
the PRINCE of his native city":--"Auctoritate et existimatione
haud dubie civitatis suae PRINCEPS" (ibid. p. 58). Here we see the
cause of the error committed by Vossius, Muretus, and a number of
historians; not only this phrase of Fazio's, but the manner in
which contemporary Florentines thought of and demeaned themselves
towards Cosmo de' Medici.

We may further state, while thus digressing, that, from what Fazio
says, we know that Cosmo de' Medici was a great lover of books;
for Fazio informs us in his notice of Niccolo Niccoli that Cosmo
de' Medici had his library in the magnificent church which at his
own cost he had erected in Florence, namely, St. Mark's,
("bibliothecae, quae erat in Marci Evangelistae Templo, quam
Cosmus Medices effecerat" (Facius. De Viris Illust. p. 12); "this
library he had built on a very extensive scale," and "adorned" it
"with an infinite number of volumes of both Greek and Latin
authors, of all kinds, and every degree of merit, some of which he
had got at heavy expense from various quarters, others being
copies contracted for with transcribers":--"bibliothecam, quam
amplissimam aedificavit, infinitis librorum voluminibus tum
Greacorum, tum Latinorum, cujusque ordinis, ac facultatis
exornavit partim undique magno impendio quaesitis, partim
conductis librariis exscriptis" (ibid. p. 57).

But to return.--

We see, then, from two such reliable authorities as Vossius and
Muretus, that Cosmo de' Medici took a special delight in Tacitus,
and ardently enjoyed reading him. We can thus clearly perceive,
why it was when a forgery was to be undertaken, it was of an
ancient classic, and the selection made was a continuance to the
History of Tacitus: we, also, know how natural it was when
Bracciolini found, after deliberation and a trial, that there was
little or no sympathy between him and Tacitus, and, certainly, no
identity of genius, that he should strive his utmost to cast off
such a heavy burden and endeavour to carry a lighter load by
fabricating a continuation of Livy; but no guinea is required to
be spent for a visit to the séance of a medium, to call up the
spirit of Cosmo de' Medici by the rapping of a table: in the first
place, the spirit would be sure not to come, however hard the
table might be rapped, from fear of being addressed in Latin or
Italian, as spirits are always sulky when they speak languages
that are unknown to the medium: in the second place, after what we
hear from Vossius and Muretus about the historical studies of the
enlightened Princely Florentine, we want no ghost of his to come
from the grave, and tell us that he would not have taken one
entire book of Livy for one little page of Tacitus. Hence
Bracciolini was forced to go on with a forgery that went against
his grain; but, uncongenial as it was, he executed it with the
skill and power that showed the master mind.

V. The manuscript in the Mediceo-Laurentian library is known as
the Second Florence MS.; all the other MSS. of the last six books
of the Annals are copies of it: as James Gronovius puts it,
"emanated" from it: "ex hoc codice omnia alia scripta Taciti
exemplaria _fluxisse_"; just as the other Florentine MS. is
the only one containing all the books of the Annals, or as Ernesti
says: "it is unique: we have no other manuscript of those books:
--"ille unus est, nec alium scriptum illorum librorum codicem
habemus;" there was no necessity making many transcripts of the
latter codex, for printing had come into use a good half century
before it was found,--or, more properly, said to have been found,
--in the Abbey of Corvey.

Both these manuscripts are spurious; though it concerns us for the
present only to deal with the Second or earlier one:--Of the First
or later one I will speak at the proper time.

The second Florence MS., if a forgery, ought to have many
suspicious marks about it to denote that it is a fabrication; and,
perhaps, there does not exist in the world a more suspicious
manuscript, not in one, but sundry, respects.

In the first place, it is written in Lombard characters; of which
the Benedictines in their "Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique," give
both a description and a specimen; and from the specimen given,
the characters are small and elegant, some being high and ending
in volutes or curves, while there is a "mingling of capitals and

But why should the manuscript have been written in Lombard
characters at all? It would seem simply in order to give it an air
of excessively great antiquity;--but a more fatal mistake could
not possibly have been made.

We know from the letters that Bracciolini wrote to Niccoli that he
wanted a very old copy of Tacitus to serve as a guide to the
transcriber at Hirschfeldt: Niccoli sent him a Tacitus in Lombard
characters; his objection to it was not that the characters were
Lombard, but that they were "half-effaced" ("caduca"). We may,
therefore, conclude that the copy finally sent to him as a guide
for the transcriber, was, also, in Lombard characters; those not
"half-effaced," but clear and legible; it is a pity for them, but
a good job for me, that he or Niccoli, or both, did not know that
Lombard characters were not in use in the century when they wanted
it to appear that their forgery was in existence; for they
indulged in a trick to make the reader believe that the MS. was in
existence at the close of the fourth century at the very latest;
and, perhaps, a hundred or two hundred years before, for they put
a note at the end, by which the reader is given to understand, to
his mighty surprise, that the manuscript was in the hands of that
illustrious Heathen Philosopher, Salustius, not the Syrian and
Cynic, of whom an account is given by Suidas, Photius, Fabricitis
and others, for he lived in the fifth century, but the Gaul and
Platonist, who flourished in the preceding century, of whom
Fabricius said that he would "rather ascribe to him who was the
friend of the Emperor Julian and the Platonist, than to the other
Salustius, who was the Cynic, the elegant treatise that was
extant, "On the Gods and the World";--"huic potius Juliani,
Platonico, quam alteri Cynico Salustio tribuerim libellum
elegantem, qui exstat [Greek: peri Theon kai kosmou]" (Biblioth.
Graec. Lib. III. c. 9); Theodoretus also speaks of him in his
[Greek: Historia Ekklaesiastikae] (Lib. I. 3), as well as the
Emperor Julian in one of his Orations (VIII.) and Ammianus
Marcellinus in the 21st and 23rd books of his History. Now, the
very fact that Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of this Salustius is
the very reason why he should have been selected to be the
corrector of the forged MS.; we have already said more than once,
--and it cannot be too often impressed upon the reader,--that
Bracciolini found the historical books of Ammianus Marcellinus;
to all appearances, he had most carefully studied them: it was
therefore, from his being quite familiar with the pages of
Marcellinus, that he had Salustius suggested to him as the best
individual to write the note.

The note is to the effect that Salustius had read and corrected
the manuscript when he was residing in Rome during the Consulate
of Olibrius and Probinus, and that he had again revised it at
Constantinople in the Consulate of Caesarius and Atticus.--"Ego
Salustius legi et emendavi Romae felix, Olibio et Probino vc.
Coss. in foro Martis controversias declamans oratori Endelechio.
Rursus Constantinopoli recognovi Caesario et Attico Consulibus".
Olibrius (not Olibius) and Probinus were the two last consuls in
the reign of the Emperor Theodosius; that, therefore, gives the
date 395; and Caesarius and Atticus were the consuls in the second
year of the Emperor Arcadius, so that that gives the date 397.

All the editors of Tacitus cast no doubt on the authenticity of
these words; they believe they were actually written by Salustius;
the fact is, they have not the slightest suspicion of forgery;
under which circumstance, they had no other alternative but to
regard the manuscript as a palimpsest, with everything erased
except these words, which they believed ought also to have been
expunged, as appertaining to the previous, and not the existing
MS., and which remained through the negligence of the transcriber.
Pichena, accepting everything as genuine, was of opinion that the
manuscript was as old as 395; this is an opinion that everybody
considers ridiculous, on account of the characters being Lombard,
it not being until the sixth century that the Lombards came into
Italy, until which date all Latin manuscripts were written in
Roman characters.

On account of this, there has arisen, among, the cognoscente of
codices, an interminable controversy attended by a startling
divergence of opinion with respect to the length of the existence
of this manuscript.

Unable to agree with Pichena, Jarnes Gronovius, nevertheless,
places it at such an "immense distance in antiquity from all the
others," that one must suppose he considered it coeval with the
immediate arrival of the Lombards into Italy, and, therefore,
about the sixth century. Exterus and Panckoucke, entertaining
pretty much the same opinion as James Gronovius, date its origin
from the seventh or eighth century.

A man who took an enormous interest in all literary matters of
this description, Cardinal Passionei, deputed, in the middle of
the last century, one of the most skilful experts in manuscripts
in Italy, Signor Botari, to ascertain the age of this puzzling
codex. Botari naturally applied to the principal keeper of the
Mediceo-Laurentian Library, Signor Biccioni, who, after
consulting with his colleague, Signor Martini, came to the
conclusion that it did not date further back than the eighth

The Benedictine Brothers, who tell this anecdote, are themselves
of opinion that the manuscript is not older than the tenth
century; and for these reasons, "the characters, the distance
between the words, the punctuation, and some other signs" which
are indicative, they say, of that century: "les caractères, la
distance des mots, la ponctuation et plusieurs autres signes
marquent tout au plus le Xe siècle" (t. III. p. 279).

Other men have given other opinions of the age of this manuscript;
Ernesti, for example, believes that it is as old as the 11th
century; others say the 13th; others again give some other time;
whereas the exact date is known to the reader, who is aware that
it first saw the light in February or March, 1429.

But about this writing of Salustius. Further imposture is shown by
what the Philosopher is made to say about his "declaiming
controversies" in the Forum of Mars before the Orator Endelechius.
There is nothing to show that Salustius, (though he was in Gaul,
the prefect in the praetorium, while Julian, the Apostate, was
proconsul), was ever in Rome. It is doubtful whether Salustius and
Endelechius ever were together; for though both flourished in the
time of the Emperor Theodosius, one lived in Rome and the other in

Looking at all the circumstances in this investigation it must be
admitted as being uncommonly remarkable, and, therefore,
uncommonly suspicious, that the note should have been made by one
of whom such very little is known as Salustius; consequently, the
very little that would be known of what he did, or what might be
affirmed of him that he did:--we have seen from what is said of
him by Fabricius that it is not positively known, but only
shrewdly conjectured, that he wrote the treatise "De Diis et
Mundo";--it is not ascertained whether he was the Salustius who
was Consul with the Emperor Julian IV. in the year 363;--it is not
settled what were his other names, some, such as Lemprière, taking
them to be Secundus Promo_tus_, others, such as M. Weiss, in
the "Biographie Universelle", Secundus Promo_tius_, a third
set questioning whether he had any such names as "Secundus" and
"Promotus" or "Promotius":--finally, it is not determined how his
name, Salustius, ought to be spelt, whether with one or with two
l's, when in Suidas it is spelt "Salustius" [Greek: Saloustios],
and in Theodoretus "Sallustius" [Greek letters: Salloustios].
And "who shall decide" when a lexicographer and a bishop "disagree?"

There is not yet an end to all the mystery and confusion hanging
around this Praefectus Praetorio. Was he ever a Praefectus
Praetorio? One cannot then understand why Theodoretus, when
speaking of his being [Greek: huparchos] (Hist. Eccl. I. 6
post init.), should express his surprise at it, from Salustius
"being a slave to impiety." The general of the Imperial Guard
could have discharged his duties just as well whether he was pious
or impious: So could the Praefectus Urbi; but this would not have
been the case with the officer who was the superintendent of the
public morals,--the Praefectus Morum: It would therefore seem that
this was the post held by Salustius, when Ammianus Marcellinus
informs us in his History that the Emperor Julian "promoted him to
be Prefect and sent him into Gaul:"--"Salustium Praefectum
promotum in Galliam missus est" (Lib. XXI. c. 8): Otherwise it is
not clear why Theodoretus should write thus in his Ecelesiastical
History:--"At this time Sallustius who was Prefect, ALTHOUGH he
was a _slave to impiety_:--[Greek: Salloustios de hyparchos on
taenikauta, KAITOI tae dussebeia douleuon"] (L. c.)

With all this mystery and confusion attaching to Salustius, there
is almost as much confusion and mystery attaching to Sanctus
Severus Endelechius,--or Severus, as he is mostly known to the
writers of ecclesiastical history. Possevino, the Elder, in the
second volume (p. 398) of his "Apparatus Sacer" speaks of him as a
teacher of oratory and a poet in the Christian world:--"Severi
Rectoris et Poetae Christiani, Carmen Bucolicon". Rheinesius, in
one of his Letters (VIII.) to Daumius, misquotes this, by
substituting "Rhetoris "for "Rectoris"; in the course of the same
letter he makes a remark which causes one to understand what is
meant by "declaiming controversies in the Forum of Mars to the
Orator Endelechius": Rheinesius says that, the custom of
rhetoricians was to bring forward into the forum set matters, or
themes" [Greek: Theseis] "for the sake of intellectual
exercitation":--"solebant enim oratores etiam fictas materias, seu
[Greek: Theseis], in forum producere exercendi ingenii gratia";
--from this being done, we learn towards the close of the letter,
when he is speaking of this very note to the Second Florentine
MS., that "Endelechius was a master to Sallustius"--"Endelechius
... Sallustio magister fuit."

It is clear that Rheinesius believes everything about the note to
the Second Florence MS. But how came a Heathen philosopher,--a
very impious one, too, (according to Theodoretus), like Salustius,
to be so cordially connected in the fourth century with a devout
Christian teacher, like Sanctus Severus Endelechius? Even
admitting that there was this freedom of intercourse between the
two, do dates agree for the kind of relationship that is said to
have existed between them? The time when Salustius was learning
oratory from Endelechius was, as the note tells us, the year 395.
But Endelechius was the contemporary of Paulinus, the date of
whose death was 431, and Endelechius died a little before or after
him, (See Rheinesius Epist. ad Daumium VIII. p. 25.) Endelechius
must have then been a remarkably juvenile instructor in rhetoric.
Shall we say at ten years of age? or eight? or six? or when he was
in his cradle? for he died before he was 50.

Why, also, should there have been any written declaration on the
part of Salustius, that he had revised the copy? Does it not look
as if his certificate of revision was meant to establish this as a
fact not to be contravened,--that the Manuscript is as old as the
fourth century? The trick is clearly the artifice of an impostor,
who wants an attestation, when no attestation is required to
substantiate a thing except when the thing to be substantiated is,
as in this instance, a falsification. The Benedictine monks say in
their "Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique" (III. 279), "they never saw
in any manuscript an attestation of corrections"; more so, when
the manuscript is a copy, and not an original, and does not bear
any corrections on its margin;--"sur un très grand nombre de mss.
que nous avons vus, jamais nous n'ayons rémarqué d'attestations de
corrections, transcrites dans les copies." I will be bound to say
that they never saw in any other manuscript than this, (the vellum
of which is, I suspect, of the 15th century), the letters formed
and the words placed at the distance between each other as
obtained in the tenth century, along with the abbreviations and
the punctuations of that period.

Nor is this an end of the marks of imposture about this Second
Florence MS.

The reader will admit that a very great (and what looks like an
insuperable) difficulty was to be got over by some amazingly
clever trick not easily conceivable, when a number of books, as if
written by Tacitus, were to precede a history which he had
composed, commencing: "When I begin this work"--"Initium mihi
operis;" those words which now in all the editions properly stand
at the head of a separate and substantive work, "Historiarum Liber I."
stand in the Second Florence MS. at the head of what is designated
the "Seventeenth Book" of the whole production. The device had
recourse to is ingenious in the extreme, yet as arrant a mark of
imposture as anything that we have pointed out.

The last Six Books of what we now know as "The Annals" are headed
"Cornelii Taciti Historiae Augustae LI. XI. _Actionum_ Diurnalium:"
that is, "The Books of the History of the Emperors by Cornelius
Tacitus, the 11th of the Daily _Transactions_." The first book of
what we now know as "The History" has this change in the heading:
"_Actorum_ Diurnalium XVII."; that is "the 17th book of the Daily
_Affairs_." The implication is that Tacitus meant a vast difference
between "_Actiones_ Diurnales" and "_Actus_ Diurnales"; so to leave
the reader in doubt as to whether Tacitus had given any explanations
as to why he meant to change the character of the narrative but not
the numbering of the books, the Sixteenth Book breaks off abruptly;
the kind of explanation that must have been given by Tacitus is thus
left entirely to the imagination of the reader, for everybody must
conjecture, if the affair was genuine, that some sort of explanation
was given in the lost part. This is certain that, from the manner in
which he wrote the Annals, Bracciolini gave a larger meaning to "actus"
than to "actiones," the former meaning "public affairs," and the other
"things that were done" of any note or interest; clearly showing that
nobody was more conscious than Bracciolini himself how he had failed
in attempting to write history in the exact manner in which it was
written by Tacitus. I may now place before the reader the astonishment
which Seemiller expresses in his "Incrementa Typographica" (pp. 10, 11),
that the books about the Emperors of Rome in the first edition of the
works of Tacitus printed at Venice in 1469 by the then unrivalled master
of his art, Vindelinus of Spire, should not have the titles of "Annals"
and "History." The reader now sees the reason why; and, moreover, the
reader knows that Seemiller must have seen very few editions of the
works of Tacitus.

VI. One or two things more ought to be taken notice of, because
they connect Bracciolini with the forged manuscript.

It was usual for monastic transcribers to follow the text of the
writer as closely as printers in these days follow the copy of an
author. Everybody has his peculiarities: Bracciolini was no
exception to this rule. He was in the habit of writing "incipit
feliciter" at the commencement of a work: this maybe seen in an
old MS. copy of his "Facetiae", preserved in the British Museum,
and supposed to have been written at Nuremberg in 1470. This also
runs through the headings to the books in the Second Florence MS.
To either "feliciter" or "felix," he was so partial, that he shows
it in the attestation of Salustius, who is made to write "Ego
Salustius legi et emendavi Romae _felix_."

There is another point, which, though as trifling, is as striking.
MSS. were sometimes found with two or more authors bound up
together, and these, in the majority of cases, were very old ones.
To give the Second Florence MS. an air of antiquity Tacitus is
bound up with Apuleius. If an author was to be selected to be
bound up with anything done by Bracciolini at this date, and he
had been consulted in the matter, there was none more likely for
him to have chosen than Apuleius, for his thoughts were now
running altogether upon that writer, of whose "Golden Ass" he gave
a Latin translation; and the particular part of Apuleius bound up
with Tacitus only begins at the 10th chapter, that is, with only
what he writes "De Asino Aureo."

These are, as I have said, small points; but looking at
surrounding circumstances, they are significant; and stand forth
as additional proofs of Bracciolini being concerned not only in
the forgery of the last Six Books of the Annals, but also in the
forgery of the Second Florence MS.

VII. Another point ought not to be passed over in silence, as it
is of much importance.

It has been said in the first part of this investigation that no
authentic mention is to be found of the Annals of Tacitus from the
second to the fifteenth century; for the simple reason that it was
not then in existence. But if it was forged, copied and issued by
1429, it would almost follow that some mention would be made of it
not very long after that date: this was actually the case: the
first authentic mention of the Annals is by Zecco Polentone, in
the Sixth Book of his "De Scriptoribus Illustribus Latinae
Linguae": he says that he would "not venture to state very
positively what was the number of the books of Tacitus's History;
but for himself he had seen the eleventh book (in a fragmentary
form) and all the others down to the twenty-first, in which
abundant materials had been furnished in an elaborate manner of
the life of Claudius and of the succeeding emperors down to
Vespasian." This work of Polentone I have never seen, and quote
the extract as it is given by the Abbé Méhus in his Preface to the
works of Traversari: "Librorum ejus" (Taciti nempe) "numerum
affirmare satis certe non audeo. Fragmenta quidem libri undecimi,
et reliquos deinceps ad vigesimum primum vidi, in quis vita
Claudii, et qui fuerunt postea Caesares ad Vespasianum usque,
ornate, ut dixi, et copiose ornavit" (Méhus. Praef. ad Latinas
Epistolas Traversarii p. XLVII.). The question now arises when did
Polentone write this? It could not have been before 1429, because
the last six books of the Annals had not yet been given to the
world; nor would it have been after 1463, for that date was,
according to Pignorius, the year of his death. The first authentic
mention of the last six books of the Annals might then have been
in the first year after its publication, or it might not have been
till the thirty-third; but this is certain, that those books, as
might have been expected from their most remarkable character,
attracted attention, as they have not ceased to do down to the
present day, in the very first generation when they were placed
before the public.

VIII. I cannot see that anything I can think of and investigate
invalidates my theory: on the contrary, everything that suggests
itself immediately and strictly tallies with the truth of it; but
if this be not the case with every theory, then that theory is
not, and cannot be correct. Take and test any; take and test the
theory, for example, of Sir George Cornewall Lewis with respect to
the ancient monarchy of Rome; he considered it to be a myth, his
principal argument, in my opinion, being, on account of the number
of years the seven kings had reigned,--244;--he maintained that
such a length of years in such an exceedingly small number of
consecutive reigns is not to be found in the history of any other
country; that may be true enough; but only turn the eye to the
country contiguous to ours; the land which almost seems to present
itself as a matter of course for its great fame and splendour,
France; then turn to the most striking and memorable period of its
monarchy,--the time of the seven last kings, the Henries and the
Louises, just preceding the Great Revolution: the years of their
consecutive reigns number 233, so that there are 11 years to the
good of Sir George Cornewall Lewis's theory; but if two of those
French kings, Henry III. and Henry IV., had not been assassinated,
and the last of them, Louis XVI., deprived of his life by an
infuriated people, the number of years of those seven monarchs'
reigns might have been 270 or 280, possibly even 300. That theory
of Sir George Cornewall Lewis cannot then be accepted; there being
nothing,--for the leading reason given by him,--that should induce
us to question the accuracy of history as regards the Roman

IX. But it does strike me most forcibly that after what I have
advanced, (it may be, feebly,--I am certain in a manner that is
very faulty),--it is simply aversion to novelty that can cause the
reader still to believe that Tacitus wrote that part of his
History which passes by the name of "Annals": I do not see how the
reader can be of that opinion when he ponders over the numerous
literary doubts I have raised as to its authenticity, more
particularly, of the last six books;--when, too, he remembers how
I have shown by facts, dates and circumstances the period when
that portion came into existence;--the year when it was begun and
the year when it was completed;--the people who were engaged in
its production;--the writer who composed it;--the individual who
suggested it;--the book-collector who instigated it;--the monk who
transcribed it;--the rich man who purchased it;--and, just now,
the author who made the first authentic mention of it; and last,
but not least, the condition (that is, the exact age and undoubted
spuriousness) of the oldest MS. that we have of it:--all goes to
prove that, if not the whole work, at any rate, the last Six Books
of the Annals are a forgery;--and a forgery, too, so audacious in
its conception, and so extraordinary in its bungling,--while all
the steps of its execution have been so distinctly set forth
according to data that have been given and authorities that have
been cited,--that it seems to me to be nothing more nor less than
sheer obstinacy, after such clear demonstration, for any body to
entertain a doubt about it.




 Hunc lege quaeso librum, quem condidit ore disertus,
 Et Latiae linguae Poggius ipse decus.
 BEBELIUS. _Utilissimus Liber_.



I.--Improvement in Bracciolini's means after the completion of the
forgery of the last part of the Annals.--II. Discovery of the
first six books, and theory about their forgery.--III. Internal
evidence the only proof of their being forged.--IV. Superiority of
workmanship a strong proof.--V. Further departure than in the last
six books from Tacitus's method another proof.--VI. The Symmetry
of the framework a third proof.--VII. Fourth evidence, the close
resemblance in the openings of the two parts.--VIII. The same tone
and colouring prove the same authorship.--IX. False statements
made about Sejanus and Antonius Natalis for the purpose of
blackening Tiberius and Nero.--X. This spirit of detraction runs
through Bracciolini's works.--XI. Other resemblances denoting the
same author.--XII. Policy given to every subject another cause to
believe both parts composed by a single writer.--And XIII. An
absence of the power to depict differences in persons and things.

I. When Bracciolini completed the first instalment of his forgery
he was in his fiftieth year. From that date, for the remainder of
his life, in consequence of the large remuneration he received for
his audacious imposition, he lived in comparatively affluent
circumstances. He permanently fixed his residence in a villa which
he purchased in the pleasant district of Valdarno in the Tuscan
territory;--a villa made profitable by a vineyard, and beautiful
by a garden adorned with tasteful ornaments, fountains and classic
statues, the workmanship of ancient Greek and Roman sculptors.
With the lucrative contingencies attached to his forgery, such as
disposing of copies from the original, a privilege which he,
doubtless, obtained from his friend Cosmo de' Medici, and for
which he must have frequently got large sums of money, he may have
gratified the inclination he expressed six years before to his
friend, Niccoli, of spending 400 gold sequins a year;--"non sum
pecuniosus ... erat animus expendere usque ad CCCC. aureos, non
quod tot habeam." (Ep. II. 3.) He now had the means, that sum
being equivalent to from 8 to 10 thousand pounds a year in these
days. That he made a splendid fortune there can be no question,
were it only for the words used by Poliziano in his History of the
Pazzi and Salviati Conspiracy against Lorenzo de' Medici, while
speaking of his eldest son James "squandering in a few years the
ample patrimony which he had inherited": "patrimonium quod ipse
amplum ex haereditate paterna obvoverat totum paucis annis
profuderat" (Polit. De Pact. Conj. Hist. p. 637), the language
used showing that Jacopo Bracciolini was not sole inheritor but
co-heir with his brothers. Certain it is that the circumstances of
Bracciolini were so much improved after his forgery of the Annals
that from that time he had the opportunity of indulging a
cherished idea of his earlier manhood devoting himself to literary
undertakings. He started off with his treatise on Avarice, (a
subject of which he was a very good judge): composition after
composition then issued rapidly from his pen; they were no longer
anonymous; they were attended by fame; he thus made ample amends
for the "inglorius labor", as he styles it himself (An. IV, 32),
of the Annals.

These works have been extremely valuable in the course of this
inquiry; they are more especially valuable just now in enabling me
to trace home to him the authorship of the first six books of the
Annals; these works were 15 in number, namely 1. Historia
Disceptativa de Avaritia; 2. Two books of Historiae Convivales;
3. An essay De Nobilitate; 4. Ruinarum Urbis Romae Descriptio;
5. A treatise De Humanae Conditionis Miseria; 6. Controversial
Writings; 7. Funeral Orations; 8. Epistles; 9. Fables; 10. Facetiae;
11. A Dialogue De Infelicitate Principum; 12. Another entitled
"An Seni sit Uxor ducenda"? first published in Liverpool in 1807,
and edited by the Rev. William Shepherd; 13. Four books De Varietate
Fortunae first published in 1723 by the Abbé Oliva; 14. History
of Florence in 8 books, published by Muratori in the 20th volume
of his Rerum Italicarum Scriptores; and 15. A Dialogue on
Hypocrisy printed in the Appendix to the Fasciculus Rerum
Expetendarum et Fugiendarum first published at Cologne in 1535 by
Orthuinus Gratius, and in 1689 by Edward Brown with considerable

But these were not his only literary productions. Fazio tells us
that he wrote a book upon the manners of the Indians: "scripsit
... de Moribus Indorum" (Facius. De Viris Illustr. p. 17): this is
the same as the fourth book of his "De Varietate Fortunae," which
is a translation or version of the travels in India of Niccolo di
Conti. The same authority also informs us that "he translated the
Cyropaedeia of Xenophon, which he dedicated to Alphonso I, King of
Naples, from whom he received a very large sum of money for his
dedication, even as he dedicated to Pope Nicholas V. his
translation of the six books of the historian Diodorus Siculus":
--"Cyripaediam, quam Xenophon ille scripsit, latinam reddidit,
atque Alphonso Regi dedicavit, pro qua a Rege magnam mercedem
accepit. Ejusdem est traductio Diodori Siculi historiographi ad
Nicolaum Quintum Pontificem Maximum libri sex" (L. c.) Another
translation of his was "The Golden Ass" of Apuleius in ten books;
and he edited, (but without notes), the "Astronomicon" of Manilius,
--whom, by the way, he misstyles "Manlius."

The advantage which he obtained from the publication of these
works was as nothing compared to the large and repeated sums he
must have got from his fabrication of the Annals; and the
knowledge that he would always have a ready and munificent
purchaser in Cosmo de' Medici, induced him to continue his
wondrous and daring forgery.

II. We have seen how, at the very least, 500 gold sequins were
given by Cosmo de' Medici, for the last six books of the Annals.
After the lapse of nearly 90 years, exactly the same sum was
awarded for the discovery of the first six books by another
de' Medici, Leo X., to Arcimboldi, afterwards Archbishop of Milan,
--the 122nd, according to the Abbot Ughelli, in his work that
occupied him thirty years,--"Italia Sacra".

Now, it is a very remarkable circumstance that, at the time when
Arcimboldi gave out that he had discovered the first six books of
the Annals in the Abbey of Corvey, the fourth son of Bracciolini,
Giovanni Francesco, then a man 68 years of years, was holding the
same office that his father had held before him in the Pontifical
Court as Papal Secretary. We have no record that Giovanni
Francesco Bracciolini knew anything about the opening books of the
Annals, nor where they were to be found: we are not told that he
was in any communication on the matter with Arcimboldi: all we
know is that he was a colleague in the court of Leo X. of the
finder of those books.

On this fact, nevertheless, I build up the following theory:--That
Bracciolini having found what a good thing he had made of it in
forging the last six books of the Annals, along with the great
success that had attended it, set about forging an addendum, with
a view of disposing of it when completed to Cosmo de' Medici;
--that while he was engaged in the composition, he was surprised by
death on the 30th of October, 1459, leaving behind his friend and
patron, Cosmo de' Medici, to survive him nearly five years, till
the 1st of August, 1464;--that Bracciolini, when he saw that he
was approaching the end of his days, must necessarily and
naturally have made his sons acquainted with the existence of the
work, on account of the great profit that could be made by the
disposal of it whenever the favourable opportunity presented
itself;--that Giovanni Francesco Bracciolini, in 1513 when John
de' Medici was elected to the Pontifical throne, having outlived
all his brothers, had then this MS. in his keeping; knowing that
it was in an unfinished state, from his father being engaged upon
it when he died,--also being aware that there was an ugly gap of
three years between the imprisonment of Drusus and the fall of
Sejanus,--believing in the necessity of this gap being supplied,
--and regarding Arcimboldi as a greater Latinist and scholar
generally than himself, therefore more capable of adding this
fresh matter,--at any rate, of putting the manuscript in order for
transcription,--he apprised the Pope's Receiver of the treasure;
--and that the time which elapsed between the offering of the reward
by Leo X. and the turning up of the first six books of the Annals,
something more than a year, or even a year and a half, was
occupied by Arcimboldi in the revision of the MS. and by a monk in
the Abbey of Corvey in transcribing the forgery along with the
works of Tacitus.

This theory, founded altogether on the imagination, may be right,
or it may be quite wrong; but whether it be wrong or right, it is
impossible to believe that Tacitus wrote those books: it is
equally impossible to believe that they were forged by Arcimboldi,
or that more than one man composed the first six and the last six
books of the Annals, were it only on account of the close identity
of the character, and the conspicuous splendour of the peculiar
ability manifested in both parts.

III. We must, therefore, now endeavour by internal evidence, and
by that alone, to convince the reader that Bracciolini, and nobody
else but he, forged the first portion of the Annals: too many
proofs stand prominently forward to prevent our doubting for a
moment that this really was the case, however unaccountable it may
seem that 86 years should have intervened between the appearance
of the two parts, and 56 after the death of the author.

IV. One strong reason for believing that Bracciolini wrote the
first six books is the far greater superiority of the workmanship
to that in the last six books, showing that the author was then
older, more matured in his mental powers, more experienced in the
ways of the world and better acquainted with the workings of the
human heart;--for if it be true what Goethe said that no young man
can produce a masterpiece, it is, certainly, quite as true that a
man's work in the way of intellect, information and wisdom, is
better after he is fifty than before he reaches that age,--
provided always that he retains the full vigour of his faculties.
Now no one will for a moment say that such workmanship as the
delineation of character, say, for example, of Nero and Seneca, in
the last part of the Annals can stand by the side of the finished
picturing of Tiberius and Sejanus in the first part.

V. Another reason for entertaining this belief is that there is a
still further departure in the first six than in the last six
books from the method pursued by Tacitus: greater attention is
paid to acts of individuals than to events of State: the writer
seems to have been emboldened by his first success to follow more
closely the bent of his genius, and that was, to make of history a
school of morals for imparting instruction by means of revealing
the springs of human action and the workings of the human heart.

VI. That, indeed, the two parts proceeded from the same hand is
seen in the symmetry of the framework. Each book contains the
actions of two, three, four or six years. The latter is the case
in the last part,--in the 12th book,--and in the first part,--in
the 4th and 6th books. The narrative extends to four years in the
13th book, and to about the same time in the 14th in the last
part, and in the first part to the 2nd book; a little more than
three years occupies the 15th book in the last part and the 3rd
and 5th in the first part; two years the 11th and nearly two years
the 1st; in both parts one book is left in a fragmentary state, it
being the 16th in the last part, and in the first part the 5th.

These circumstances go a considerable way towards supporting the
hypothesis that the first six books of the Annals were written by
the same man who wrote the last six books.

VII. A further evidence of the same authorship is found in the
close resemblance which the openings of both parts bear to one
another: each refers to crime, the last part opening with the
hideous accusations against Silius, and the adulteries of
Messalina, while the first part opens with the murder of Agrippa

VIII. The same tone and colouring, too, are thrown over both
parts: an unbroken moodiness pervades them; one unceasing series
of repulsive pictures of the vices and immoralities of a country
fallen into servility and hastening to destruction; men and women
commit revolting crimes; the human race is a prey to calamity;
individuals are feared and followed by oppression, and that, too,
simply because they are distinguished by nobility of birth, or
because they are excellent rhetoricians, or popular with the
multitude, or endowed with faculties equal to all requirements in
public emergencies and State difficulties: we have the same
terrible deaths of ministers,--Seneca and Sejanus; the same
blending of ferocity and lust in emperors,--Nero and Tiberius; the
same accusations and sacrifices of men who are free of speech and
honourable in their proceedings.

IX. Statements are made in both parts that appear to be the
outcome only of inventive ingenuity and a malignant humour. Thus
Sejanus, who is depicted as a peril to the State, both when he
flourished and when he fell, has, after his execution, his body
ignominiously drawn through the streets, (which looks, by the way,
like a custom of the fifteenth century), and those who are accused
of attachment to him, including his innocent little children, are
all put to death. This seems to be said merely with the view of
blackening the character of Tiberius, as the character of Nero is
blackened by the statements made about Antonius Natalis. Antonius
Natalis takes part in the Pisonian Conspiracy against Nero (An.
XV. 54, 55); then he betrays Seneca and the companions of Seneca
(ib. 56); after that he gets off with impunity (ib. 71). I may be
wrong, but it strikes me that this statement is merely made with
the view of attacking Nero as a bad administrator for not
punishing a mean conspirator and cruel traitor: Tiberius is
similarly assailed for cruelly killing harmless children.

There are no means of showing that what is said of the children of
Sejanus is fiction; it can only be surmised: but it can be proved
as a fact that what is stated about Antonius Natalis is nothing
more nor less than pure romance. He was dead before the conspiracy
of Piso: Bracciolini could have seen that had he read carefully
the letters of Seneca himself; for the philosopher and statesman
speaks of Natalis at the time when he wrote the letter numbered in
his works 87, as being dead some time, and "having many heirs" as
he had been "the heir of many":--"Nuper Natalis ... et multorum
haeres fuit, et multos habuit haeredes" (Ep. LXXXVII.)

X. This statement then about Nero having no foundation, seems to
have been merely made out of that spirit of detraction which we
have already noticed as characterizing both parts of the Annals:
it is the same spirit which runs through the works of Bracciolini:
first he praises an individual, and then mars the eulogy of him by
introducing some little bit of defamation. To give examples:--We
open his collected works, and begin to read his treatise on
Avarice: turning over the first page we find him speaking of a
great preaching friar, named Bernardino, whom he lauds as most
extraordinary in the command he held over the feelings of his
congregation, moving them, as he pleased, to tears or laughter;
but he adds that Bernardino did not adapt his sermons to the good
of those who heard him, but, like the rest of his class, to his
own reputation as a preacher: "Una in re maxime excellit in
persuadendo, ac excitandum affectibus flectit populum, et quo vult
deducit, movens ad lachrymas, et cum res patitur ad risum....
Verum ... ipse, et caeteri hujusmodi praedicatores, ... non
accommodant orationes suas ad nostram utilitatem sed ad suam
loquacitatem" (De Avaritia. Pog. Op. p. 2). A few pages further
on, we find him speaking of Robert, King of Sicily, as unsurpassed
by any living prince in reputation and the glory of his deeds, but
the meanness of his avarice, we are told, clouded the splendour of
his virtues: "At quid illustrius est etiam hodie regis illius
memoria, fama, nomine, gloria rerum gestarum ... si avaritia in eo
virtutis laudem extinxisset" (ib. p. 14).

XI. Other resemblances in both parts denote identity of
authorship. Mean individuals are magnified and inconsiderable
nations exalted; their wars and deeds are related with pompous
particularity; battles are fought not worth recording, and
enterprizes undertaken not worth reading; Tacitus would have
deemed such incidents unworthy of mention; for he takes no more
notice of the Hermundurians, than to speak of them as a German
tribe faithful to the Romans, and living in friendly relations
with them: but in the Annals they are put forward for the
admiration of posterity as waging a war with the Callians, and
fighting a severe battle with those little creatures. In the last
part of the Annals (XII. 55) the Clitae tribes of Cilician boors
rush down from their rugged mountains upon maritime regions and
cities under the conduct of their leader, Throsobor; so in the
first part (III. 74) Tacfarinas makes depredations upon the
Leptuanians, and then retreats among the Garamantes. The same
Numidian savage in the same part leads his disorderly gang of
vagabonds and robbers against the Musulanians, an uncivilized
people without towns (II. 52); in the last part Eunones, prince of
the Adorsians, fights with Zorsines, king of the Siracians,
besieges his mud-huts, and, the historian gravely informs us, had
not night interrupted the assault, would have carried his moats in
a single day. "These are

    "the battles, sieges, fortunes,--
    The most disastrous chances
    Of moving accidents by flood and field,"

that enlist our sympathies in both parts of the Annals; and of
these people, with their

    "hair-breadth 'scapes in the imminent deadly breach,"

"you have little else," says that severe critic of the Annals, the
Vicar of Wrexham (p. 89), "but tumults, advances, retreats, kings
recalled, kings banished, kings slain, and all in such confusion
and hurry," as to be devoid of "satisfaction and pleasure"; and
the Rev. Thomas Hunter likens these mean tribes so signalized by
immortality to the ill-conditioned natives of India whom the Great
Mogul styled "Mountain Rats."

XII. Another great resemblance which induces the reader to believe
that both parts of the Annals were composed by a single author is
a monotony so very peculiar as to be characteristic of the same
individual: it is a monotony quite equal to that of an ancient
mansion in an English county, where one passes from apartment to
apartment to be reminded of Gray's "Long Story," for the rooms are
still spacious, the ceilings still fretted, the panels still
gilded, the portraits still those of beauties rustling in silks
and tissues, and still those of grave Lord Keepers in high crowned
hats and green stockings;--or the monotony is like that which
meets one when walking about a town, where at the corners of all
the streets and squares and the beginning and end of every bridge
and viaduct; the entrance to a palace or a public office; the
gateway to a market or a subway, a park or a garden; the foot of a
lamp-post or a statue; a curbstone running round an open space, or
a wall abutting on a roadway, the same thing is always found for
the purpose of keeping off the wheels of vehicles as they roll
by,--a round stone: so one finds in the Annals always the same
form given to every subject: that form is policy; through policy
everything is done; by policy every person is actuated; policy is
the motive of every action; policy is the solution of every

Augustus on his deathbed chooses a worse master than himself to be
his successor in order that his loss may be the more regretted by
the State. Tiberius makes Piso governor of Syria only that he may
have a spy for Germanicus as governor of Egypt, for he was envious
of the fame and virtues of the successful, popular young general.
Nero sends Sylla into exile from mistaking his dullness for
dissimulation. Arruntius kills himself because he is intolerant of
iniquity. The stupidity of Claudius is discovered to be
astuteness, the bestialities of Nero elegance. Nothing is easy,
nothing natural; everything is forced, everything artificial.

XIII. Nor does Bracciolini shine as a depicter of character. What
a contrast between him and Livy in that respect! And as a
describer of imperial occurrences, what a contrast between him and
Tacitus! He does not touch the Paduese in his grand form of
painting all people and all things in their proper colours: Livy
places before us the Kings of old Rome in their pride and the
Consuls in their variety; the former with their fierce virtue, the
latter with their degraded love of luxury;--Decemvirs in the
austerity of their rule and Tribunes with their popular impulses.
Tacitus makes us see the movements of mighty events, as clearly as
we behold objects shining in the broad light of day,--their
vicissitudes, relations, causes and issues;--armies with their
temper and feelings; provinces with their disposition and
sentiments;--the Empire in the elements of its strength and
weakness; the Capital in its distracted and fluctuating state;
--all political phaenomena that marked the dreary reality of
dominion in the declining days of the Roman Commonwealth. But
Bracciolini puts before us nothing like this;--only incongruous,
unimaginable and un-Romanlike personages,--people who gibber at
us, as idiots in their asylums, as that unfortunate simpleton, the
Emperor Claudius;--murderous criminals who glower and scowl upon
us, as those two monsters of iniquity, Tiberius and Nero;--pimps
and parasites beyond number, who so plague us with their perpetual
presence, that the revolted soul at length wonders how so many
such beings can be acting together, and be so degenerate, when
Nature might have designed most, if not all, of them, for greater
and more salutary purposes. While Bracciolini does not, in the
least, resemble either of the two great historians of Rome, he is
the very reverse of the historical classic of Spain, Mariana, who,
in the thirty volumes of his Historia de Rebus Hispaniae, places
before us the different characters of different people,
distinguishing Mussulmans from Christians, Moors from Arabs, and
Carthaginians from Romans; whereas, in the Annals, we perceive no
difference between the Parthians and the Suevians, the Romans and
the Germans, the Dandarides and the Adiabenians, the Medes and the



I. The poetic diction of Tacitus, and its fabrication in the
Annals.--II. Florid passages in the Annals.--III. Metrical
composition of Bracciolini.--IV. Figurative words: (_a_)
"pessum dare"; (_b_) "voluntas".--The verb foedare and the
Ciceronian use of foedus.--VI. The language of other Roman
writers,--Livy, Quintus Curtius and Sallust.--VII. The phrase
"non modo ... sed", and other anomalous expressions, not
Tacitus's.--VIII. Words not used by Tacitus, distinctus and
codicillus.--IX. Peculiar alliterations in the Annals and works
of Bracciolini.--X. Monotonous repetition of accent on
penultimate syllables.--XI. Peculiar use of words: (_a_)
properus; (_b_) annales and scriptura; (_c_) totiens.
--XII. Words not used by Tacitus: (_a_) addubitare; (_b_)
exitere.--XIII. Polysyllabic words ending consecutive sentences.
--XIV. Omission of prepositions: (_a_) in; (_b_) with
names of nations.

I. Any student of Thucydides and Tacitus must have observed that,
though both support their opinions by sober, rational remarks,
Thucydides expresses himself with logical accuracy in the calm and
cold phraseology of passionless prose, whereas Tacitus ever and
anon indulges in figures of rhetoric and poetic diction.

He changes things which can be considered only with reference to
thought into solid, visible forms, as when he speaks of "wounds,"
instead of "the wounded," being taken to mothers and wives: "ad
matres, ad conjuges _vulnera_ ferunt" (Germ. 7). He ascribes
to the lifeless what can be properly attributed only to the
living, as when he makes "day and the plain _reveal_,"
"_detexit_ dies et campus" (Hist. II. 62). He speaks of
things done in a place as if they were done by the place itself,
as Judaea _elevating_ Libanon into its principal mountain":
"praecipuum montium Libanon _erigit_" i.e., Judaea (Hist. V. 6).
He applies epithets to objects that are local, as if they were
mental or moral, as we hear of "a _chaste_ grove" ("nemus
_castum_") in the Germany (40).

Any one who had carefully analyzed his writings with the view of
imitating him by forgery could not have failed to notice this; the
consequence is that if we were to have a forgery, we should have a
very close reproduction of this style of expression, and it would
show itself to be forgery, by being without the boldness,
spontaneity and novelty of the original; it would be timid,
forced, and elaborately close and cramped. Now just this copying
of a fabricator is what we find in the Annals. Exactly corresponding,
to Tacitus's "_wounds_" instead of "the wounded," is seeing _blood
streaming_ in families," meaning "suicides," and "the _hands of
executioners_," meaning "the executed": "aspiciens _undantem_ per
domos _sanguinem_ aut _manus carnificum_ (An. VI. 39). Precisely
akin to Tacitus's "day and the plain revealing" is "night _bursting_
into wickedness": "noctem in scelus _erupturam_" (An. I. 28).
For "a country lifting up a mountain into its highest altitude,"
is the analogous substitute, "the upper part of a town on fire
_burning_ everything": "incensa super villa omnes _cremavit_"
(An. III. 37): Here, too, is a further extension of poetical
phraseology, more clearly proving forgery by denoting the hand
of nobody so much as Bracciolini, who was remarkably fond of
borrowing the language of Virgil, (never resorted to by Tacitus),
"super" for "desuper":

    "Haec _super_ e vallo prospectant Troies"
    (Aen. IX. 168).

For Tacitus's "chaste grove" we have the expression, like the note
of a mockbird, "_just_ places",--when places do not favour either
combatant: ("fundi Germanos acie et _justis locis"_ An. II. 5).

This imitation is found not only in the first but also in the last
part of the Annals.

By tropes of verbs, nouns, adjectives, and in other ways, Tacitus
produces effects that we look for in poets, but not in historians,
as he uses "bosom" or "lap" ("sinus"), in the metaphorical sense
of a "hiding place", ("latebrae"), in the History (II. 92), and of
"a retreat", ("recessus"), in the Agricola (30). So, instead of
his "bosom," or "lap", for "hiding place," or "retreat," we find
"tears" for "weeping persons," where Seneca endeavours to recall
his distracted friends to composure by words of suasion or authority:
"Simul _lacrymas_ eorum modo sermone, modo intentior in modum
coercentis, ad firmitudinem revocat" (An. XV. 62).

The close crampness of the whole of these instances raises a very
strong suspicion that it cannot be the writing of Tacitus, but
merely a servile imitation of his manner. It shows, too, that both
parts of the Annals proceeded from the same hand.

II. When in the course of the autumn before last an announcement
was made of this work in some of the public journals, the
compliment was paid to me in one of the most enlightened of them,
the _Daily News_, by a brilliant and learned writer, who was
a perfect master of his subject, questioning whether it could be
possible that Bracciolini had forged the Annals, on account of his
mode of composition being so thoroughly different from that of
Tacitus. The passages of Bracciolini were properly pronounced to
be florid at times, and to bear resemblance to the high-flown
magniloquence of Chateaubriand rather than the classic staidness
of Tacitus. I have already pointed out how varied was Bracciolini
in style, and his variety proved how by an effort he could, if it
pleased him, imitate anybody. Still there is truth in the remark,
that let him be as guarded as he might, he would, sometimes, fall
quite unconsciously into a natural peculiarity. It might then be
questioned whether he had forged the Annals unless it can be shown
that in both parts of that work he now and again fell into the
florid style found in his "Ruinarum Urbis Romae Descriptio", as
quoted by the accomplished writer in the _Daily News_, (who took,
as he said, the translation of Gibbon), to wit: "The temple is
overthrown, the gold is pillaged, the wheel of Fortune has accomplished
her revolution."

I cannot do better than give the four instances that are adduced
by Famianus Strada in his Prolusions (II. 3) by way of illustrating
how every now and then Bracciolini wrote sentences that are marked
by the qualities of poetry rather than of prose.

The first occurs in the eleventh book, where Messalina is described
in the following manner: "such was her furious lust, that, in mid
autumn, she would celebrate in her home the vintage festival; the
presses were plied, the vats flowed, and women girt with skins
bounded about like sacrificing or raving Bacchantes, she, with
hair flowing loosely, waving the thyrsus, and Silius by her side
wreathed with ivy and shod with the cothurnus, tossing his head,
while a crew of female wantons shrieked around them":--"Messalina
non alias solutior luxu, adulto autumno, simulacrum vindemiae per
domum celebrabat: urgeri prela, fluere lacus, et faeminae pellibus
accinetae assultabant, ut sacrificantes vel insanientes Bacchae;
ipsa crine fluxo, thyrsum quatiens, juxtaque Silius hedera vinetus,
gerere cothurnos, jacere caput, strepente circum procaci choro."
(An. XI. 31). It is not possible in any translation to convey
an adequate notion of the all but rhythmical flow of the last few
concluding words, as may be more clearly seen by their being arranged

    "Juxtaque Sillus,
    Hedera Vinctus,
    Gerere _c_othurnos,
    Jacere _c_aput,
    Strepente _c_ircum
    Procaci _c_horo."

The second instance given by Famianus Strada is in the first part
of the Annals, where the Roman commander in Lower Germany, Aulus
Caecina, is beset by Armin and the Germans at the causeway called
the Long Bridges. Speaking of both armies, the historian says: "It
was a restless night to them from different causes whilst the
barbarians with their festive carousals, their triumphal songs or
their savage yells woke the echoes in the low-lying parts of the
vallies and the resounding groves, among the Romans there were
feeble fires, broken murmurs, and everywhere the sentinels leant
drooping against the pales, or wandered about the tents more
asleep than awake: awful dreams, too, horrified the commander; for
he seemed to see and hear Quinctilius Varus, smeared with blood
and rising out of the marsh, calling aloud, as it were, to him he
paying no heed, and pushing back the hand that was held forth to
him." "Nox per diversa inquies: cum barbari festis epulis, laeto
cantu aut truci sonore subjecta vallium ac resultantis saltus
complerent; apud Romanos invalidi ignes, interruptae voces, atque
ipsi passim adjacerent vallo, oberrarent tentoriis, insomnes magis
quam pervigiles; ducemque terruit dira quies: nani Quinctilium
Varum sanguine oblitum et paludibus emersum, cernere et audire
visus est, velut vocantem, non tamen obsecutus, et manum intendentis
repulisse" (An. I. 65). As in the preceding sentence the closing
words are arranged in musically measured cadences, as will be more
clearly distinguished when thus presented to the eye:

    Sanguine oblitum
    Et paludibus emersum,
    Cernere et audire
    Visus est, velut vocantem,
    Non tamen obsecutus,
    Et manum intendentis repulisse. [Endnote 357]

Famianus Strada was also struck at the extravagantly florid
phraseology in the fifteenth book with respect to Scaevina's
dagger being sharpened to a point the day before the intended
execution of a plot: "Finding fault with the poniard which he drew
from its sheath that it was blunted by time, he gave orders it
should be whetted on a stone, and be made to FLAME UP _into a
point_." "Promptam vagina pugionem 'vetustatem obtusum,'
increpans, asperari saxo, et in _mucronem_ ARDESCERE" (An. XV. 24).

High-flown, poetical language is also used in the first book when
the Romans visit the scene of the defeat of Varus. "Caecina," says
the historian, "having been sent on to explore the hidden recesses
of the forest, and make bridges and conveyances over the waters of
the bog and the insecure places in the plains, the soldiers reach
the _sad spot, hideous both in its appearance and from association_."
"Praemisso Caecina, ut occulta saltuum scrutaretur, pontesque et
aggeres humido paludum et fallacibus campis imponeret, incedunt
_moestos locos, visuque ac memoria deformes_" (An. I. 61).

III. A writer so poetically inclined would naturally fall every
now and then without being aware of it into metrical composition;
Bracciolini frequently does so: for instance: writing to his
friend Niccoli from London, he says that at that moment he fancies
he is speaking to him, "hearing his tones and returning his speeches":
--"jam jam videor tecum loqui, et au/dire no/tas et/reddere voces"
(Ep. II. 1).

In another of his letters he falls into hexametrical measure:
"la/bris nos/tris om/ni re/rum strepi/tu vacu/us" (Ep. II. 17),
about as inharmonious as the complete, inelegant hexameter which
we find him writing in the opening words of the Annals:--

 "Urbem / Romam a / principi/o re/ges habu/ere."

The whole of this is in imitation of his two favorite authors,
--Sallust, who occasionally wrote in hexametrical measure as, "ex
vir/tute fu/it mul/ta et prae/clara re/i mili/taris." Jug. V.;
--and Livy, who, if Sallust sometimes exceeded the number of feet,
sometimes fell short of them, as in the opening words of the
Preface to his History: "factu rusne oper/ae preti/um sim."

IV. Another circumstance which causes us to credit Bracciolini
with having written the first part of the Annals is that we find
there certain poetical or figurative words, which are nowhere to
be found in any of the works of Tacitus. One of these is "pessum
dare," which means literally "to sink to the bottom," but is
figuratively used for "destroying" or "ruining," as when
Bracciolini in one of his letters says that he is "desirous of
guarding against the weight of present circumstances _sinking
him to the bottom_," that is "ruining him:" "id vellem curare,
ne praesentiarum onus me _pessumdaret_" (Ep. II. 3). So in
the first book of the Annals (9), he speaks of Mark Antony being
"sunk to the bottom," that is "ruined" "by his sensualities": "per
libidines _pessum datus_ sit"; or of the over-eagerness of
Brutidius to grasp at honours undoing him, as it had "sunk to the
bottom" "many, even good men": "multos etiam bonos _pessumdedit_"
(An. III. 66).

Bracciolini uses "voluntas" as the equivalent of "benevolentia."
In the second "Disceptatio" of his Historia Tripartita, "where he
means to speak of laws being framed for the good they do the
greatest number," he expresses himself: "leges pro _voluntate_"
(_i.e._ benevolentia) "majorum conditae" (Op. p. 38). So in the
first part of the Annals when he says that "there was no getting
any good to be done by Sejanus except by committing crime," he
expresses himself in the same way: "neque Sejani _voluntas_"
(_i.e._ benevolentia) "nisi scelere, quaerebatur" (An. IV. 68).

V. The meaning "to disgrace," or "dishonour" is given to the verb
"foedare." In the first part of the Annals when it is said that
silk clothes are _a disgrace_ to men," the expression is "vestis
serica viros _foedat_" (II. 33). When in the last part eloquence
(periphrastically styled "the first of the fine arts") is spoken
of as "_disgraced_ when turned to sordid purposes," the phrase is
"bonarum artium principem sordidis ministeriis _foedari_" (An. XI. 6).
This meaning is not to be found in any ancient Roman work, in prose
or poetry; it might then be taken to be mediaeval; but it seems to
be classical; for this reason: Bracciolini in one of his letters to
Niccoli says, and truly enough, that he had formed himself on Cicero:
whence it is easy to see that the idea occurred to him of coining
that signification for the verb from the meaning which is given to
the adjective by the writer whom he regarded as the greatest among
the Romans, for Cicero certainly gives that meaning to "foedus" in
this passage in his "Atticus" (VIII. 11) "nihil fieri potest miserius,
nihil perditius, nihil _foedius_," that is, "nothing can be more
miserably, nothing more flagitiously, nothing more _disgracefully_
done"; and this other passage in his Offices (I. 34): "lust is most
_disgraceful_ to old age": "luxuria ... senectuti _foedissima_ est":
directly following Cicero, and altogether ignoring Tacitus, Bracciolini
in the first part of the Annals, when speaking of the dishonourable
fawning of the Roman senators, expresses "that _disgraceful_ servility,"
"_foedum_ illud servitium" (IV. 74).

VI. As this is the language of Cicero, and not Tacitus, so we find
in other places in both parts of the Annals Bracciolini using the
language of other leading Roman writers, in preference to that of
the historian whom he was feigning himself to be. The following
few instances will suffice:--Tacitus makes the adjective agree
with the substantive: Livy does not. In imitation of Livy Bracciolini,
throughout both parts of the Annals, puts the adjective in the neuter,
and makes the substantive depend upon it in the genitive. Tacitus
never uses the rare form "jutum." It is used in both parts of the
Annals (III. 35, XIV. 4). Quintus Curtius uses the form of ere
instead of erunt as the termination of the third person plural
of the perfect active: it is then in imitation of Quintus Curtius
that Bracciolini uses the form ere so constantly throughout the
Annals. Tacitus always uses "dies" in the masculine, but Livy
sometimes in the feminine when speaking of a specified day.
"Postera die" in the third book of the Annals (10 _in._) is then
more in the style of Livy than Tacitus.

As for Sallust, Bracciolini was never able to conceal his
unbounded admiration of him; nor forbear from imitating him: this
did not escape the notice of his contemporaries, who likened him
to that ancient historian: he is perpetually borrowing his phrases,
from the very first words in the Annals: "_Urbem Romam_ a principio
reges _habuere_," after Sallust's "_Urbem Romam ... habuere_ initio
Trojani" (Cat. 6) down to the close of his forgery, as in the XVth
book (36), "haec atque talia _plebi volentia_ fuere," after Sallust's
"multisque suspicionibus _plebi volentia_ facturus habebatur"
(Fragmenta. Lib. IV. Delph. Ed. p. 317). To give a few instances
from the First Six Books of the Annals: his "ambulantis Tiberii
_genua advolveretur_" (I. 13) is Sallust's "_genua_ patrum" _advol-
vuntur_ (Fragm.): his "_adepto_ principatu" (I. 7) is Sallust's
"magistratus _adeptus_" (Jug. IV.), and "_adepta_ libertate" (Cat.7):
his "_spirantem_ adhuc Augustum" (I. 5) is Sallust's "Catilina
paullulam etiam _spirans_" (Cat. in fin. 61): his "excepere Graeci
_quaesitissimis_ honoribus" (II. 53) is Sallust's "epulae _quaesitis-
simae_" (Frag.): his "_magnitudinem paecuniae_ malo vertisse" (VI. 7)
is Sallust's "_magnitudine paecuniae_ a bono honestoque in pravum
abstractus est" (Jug. 24); and numerous other phrases are so precisely
and peculiarly of the same kind as Sallust's, that we know they were
taken or stolen from him. But Tacitus does not borrow from anybody;
he is himself a great original. As in his unadmitted forgeries, so in
his acknowledged works, whether it be a treatise as in his "De Miseria
Humanae Conditionis" (I. Op. p. 107), Bracciolini goes on borrowing
his choice phrases from Sallust, as "_libidini obnoxios_ fortuna
fecit," which is Sallust's "neque delicto, neque _libidini obnoxius_"
(Cat. 52); or whether it be one of his Funeral Orations as in that over
Cardinal Florian (Op. p. 258), "nunquam ne parvula quidem nota ejus
fama _labefactaretur_," or one of his essays, as that from which we
have just quoted,--"On the Misery of the Human Condition,"--"vires
Imperii _labefactarent_ flagitiis" (Op. p. 125), which are both
Sallust's "vitiis obtentui quibus _labefactatis_" (Fragm. p. 357).

So he prefers Sallust's archaic word "inquies"; for just as
Sallust writes "humanum ingenium _inquies_ atque indomitum"
(Frag. Lib. p. 172), he, too, writes "nox per diversa _inquies_"
(I. 65), and "dies ploratibus _inquies_" (An. III. 4), forgetting
that Tacitus always uses the modern word, "inquietus," as "inquieta
urbs" (Hist. I. 20).

VII. The phrase in the Annals "non modo ... sed," instead of "non
modo ... sed etiam" is peculiar, being at variance with the measured
style of all the old Roman writers. It occurs several times in the
first part, as "_non modo_ portus et proxima maris, _sed_ moenia ac
tecta" (III. 1), as well as in the last part, "_non modo_ milites,
_sed_ populus" (XVI. 3). In both instances Tacitus would have written
"_sed etiam_ moenia--_sed etiam_ populus."

Nor would Tacitus have erred in using the anomalous expressions
pointed out by Nicholas Aagard in his treatise about him, entitled
"In C.C. Tacitum Disputatio." Tacitus would never have written, as
in the Fourth Book of the Annals (56): "missa navali _copia_,
non modo externa ad bella"; he would have used the plural instead
of the singular; and, just as he would have used "copiis" instead
of "copia", he would have used "ejus" for "sua" in this passage in
the sixth book (6): "adeo facinora atque flagitia _sua_ ipsi
quoque in supplicium verterant":--we know that he would not have
constructed an adjective in the positive when it ought to be in
the comparative, as: "_quanto_ quis audacia _promtus_" (An. I. 57);
for we have almost just seen how in such a phrase he properly
constructs _promtus_ in the comparative: "_tanto_ ad discordias
_promtior_" (Hist. II. 99).

VIII.--He now and then forgets himself by using words that clearly
never could have been known to Tacitus, because they were words
that sprang up in an after age. Thus on one occasion he is led
into this error from the desire to express a poetical idea by a
poetical word: just as Statius writes "distinctus" in the sense
that his predecessors of ages before had used "distinctio":

    "Viridis quum regula longo
    Synnada _distinctu_ variat:"
    Sylv. I. 5. 41.;

so he falls into the blunder of making Tacitus say;--"ore ac
_distinctu_ pennarum a ceteris avibus diversum" (An. VI. 28);
at the same time he commits another mistake, of which he is
repeatedly guilty, and which a Roman carefully avoided--using the
rhythm of the hexameter in prose,--(if the Greek quantity with
"ceterus" be taken:--

    "penna/rum a cete/ris avi/bus di/versum."

In both parts of the Annals "codicillus" is used in the plural as
signifying "the codicil to a will" (VI. 9): "precatusque per
_codicillos_, immiti rescripto, venas absolvit"; and in An.
XV. 64 Seneca is described as "writing in the codicil of his will"
"in _codicillis_ rescripserat." Such Latin not only would not
have been written but would not have been even understood by
Tacitus; because when he lived his countrymen confined the meaning
of "codicillus" to a wooden table for writing on, and thence,
figuratively, for "a note" or "letter": it was not till several
centuries after,--the first part of the fifth (409-450),--in the
reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, that the lawyers used
the word to signify "an imperial patent or diploma"; for
"codicillariae dignitates" in the Theodosian Codex (VI. 22. 7)
means "offices given by the patent of the Emperor." It is also put
here and there in the same Codex (VIII. 18. 7 and XVI. 5. 40) for
the "codicil to a will"; but it is used in the singular: the
meaning so given to it in the plural, (as in both parts of the
Annals), did not come into vogue till a century after, in the time
of Justinian, as may be seen by consulting the Twenty-ninth
Chapter of the Pandects which treats of the Law of Codicils ("De
Jure _Codicillorum_"); and Marcian is quoted to this effect:
that "a man who can make a will can, certainly, also make a
codicil", the language being "_codicillos_ is demum facere
potest, qui et testamentum facere potest" (Lib. VI. c. 3. Marcian
VII. Instit.). It looks then tolerably clear that the author of
the Annals got his Latin about "codicillus" in the plural
signifying the "codicil to a will" either from the Institutes of
Marcian or the Pandects of Justinian.

IX. Alliterations occur in the Annals at the end of words four
times repeated, as "Cui superposit_um_ convivi_um_ navi_um_ aliar_um_
tractu moverentur" (XV. 37), which is in the style not of Tacitus,
but Bracciolini, as "ad liberand_os_ praeclarissim_os_ ill_os_
vir_os_ ex ergastulis barbarorum," already quoted from the treatise
"De Infelicitate Principum"; or "mul_tis_ cap_tis_, trecen_tis_
occi_sis_," in his History of Florence (Lib. V. See Muratori XX. p.346).

Another very peculiar alliteration of Bracciolini's is with the
letter _c_. Sometimes he alternates it after two words, as in
a letter to his friend Niccoli, _C_ommisi hoc idem _c_uidam amico
meo _c_ivi Senensi" (Ep. II. 3), exactly as we find it towards the
beginning of the first book of the Annals (9) _C_uncta inter se
_c_onnexa: jus apud _c_ives modestiam"; or at the end of the second
book (88): _c_um varia fortuna _c_ertaret, dolo propinquorum _c_ecidit
liberator." He repeats, too, this favourite alliteration four times,
sometimes after one word, sometimes after two, as in a letter to
Cardinal Julian, the Pope's Legate in Germany: "_c_ertissima quadam
_c_onjectura, qua praeteritis _c_onnectens praesentia _c_ausasque"
(Op. p. 309). In his History of Florence this quadrupled alliteration
of _c_ occurs thus (Lib. II. see Muratori XX. p. 224): "_c_onspiciant;
est quippe _c_ommune belluis, quae ratione _c_arent, ut naturali
_c_ogente," as we have just seen in a quotation from the fifteenth
book of the Annals (31), "gerere _c_othurnos, jacere _c_aput, strepente
_c_ircum procaci _c_horo." But these alliterations with _c_ four
times repeated, which occur frequently in the Annals generally take
place with three or more words intervening between each alliteration,
as in this sentence in the first part: "_c_onfertus pedes, dispositae
turmae _c_uncta praelio provisa: hostibus _c_ontra, omnium nesciis,
non arma, non ordo, non _c_onsilium" (An. IV. 25); or in this sentence
in the last part: "_c_ompertum sibi, referens, ex _c_ommentariis patris
sui nullam _c_ujusquam accusationem ab eo _c_oactam."
(XIII. 43 _in med_.), which is in the style of one of the numerous
beautiful alliterations of his favourite poet, Virgil:

    "_C_redunt se vidisse Jovem _c_um saepe nigrantem
    Aegida _c_oncuteret dextra, nimbosque _c_ieret"
    Aen. VIII. 353-4.

But it is not at all in imitation of the manner of Tacitus, who,
certainly, sometimes has an alliteration after two words, but it
is not with the letter _c_, nor does he alternate it; if an
alliteration again occurs immediately afterwards, it is of quite a
different character, as in his Agricola (45): "_o_mnia sine dubio,
_o_ptime parentum, _a_ssidente _a_mantissima uxore"; and in his
History (III. 36) "_p_raeterita, instantia, futura, _p_ari oblivione
dimiserat; atque _i_llum _i_n nemore Aricino."

Bracciolini distinctly shows himself to be the author of the Annals
by a very peculiar kind of composition to which he is uncommonly
partial,--joining together with an enclitic polysyllabic words of
the same length and the same long ending, as "contempl_ationem_
cogit_ationem_que" in his "De Miseria Humanae Conditionis" (Op. p. 130);
in the first part of the Annals, "extoll_ebatur_, argu_ebatur_que"
(I. 9) and in the last part, respec_tantes_, rogi_tantes_que"
(An. XII. 69);--and it is difficult to say whether this is to be
found oftener in his acknowledged productions or in his famous forgery.

He is much given to placing together several words ending with i,
as in the first part of the Annals: "sed pecorum modo, trah_i_,
occid_i_, cap_i_" (IV. 25); and in the last part "illustri memoria
Poppae_i_ Sabin_i consular_i" (XIII. 45).

X. He is fond of monotonously repeating the accent on the penultimate
syllable of trisyllabic words, as in describing the trial of Jerome
of Prague (Ep. I. 11.),--if we are to consider "quae vellet" as
equivalent to a trisyllable:--"de_in_de loq_uen_di quae _ve_llet
fa_cul_tas da_re_tur"; this most disagreeable monotonous sound,
which resembles, more than anything else, the pattering of a horse's
feet when the animal is ambling, and which may, therefore, be
called the "tit-up-a-tit-up" style, I will be bound to say, is not
to be found in anybody else's Latin compositions but Poggio
Bracciolini's all the way down from Julius Caesar to Dr. Cumming,
--(the famous epistle of the reverend gentleman's to the Pope in
which he endeavoured to procure an invitation from his Holiness to
attend the Oecumenical Council of 1870): there is the dreadful
sound again,--in the first six books of the Annals (II. 17),--just
as it strikes the ear in the Letter describing the trial and death
of Jerome of Prague--exactly as many as five times repeated,--when
Bracciolini, (for now we know it is he, and nobody else but he,
who wrote the Annals), is giving an account of the battle between
the Cherusei and the Romans: "ple_ros_que tra_na_re Vi_sur_gim
con_an_tes, in_jec_ta"; this sound occurs four times consecutively,
in the last part of the Annals, when Bracciolini is speaking of
Curtius Rufus fulfilling by his death the fatal destiny prognosticated
to him by a female apparition of supernatural stature: "def_unc_tus
fa_ta_le prae_sa_gium im_ple_vit" (An. XI. 21). Sometimes this
very abominable monotony is accompanied by most horrible assonances,
as in one of his letters (Ep. III. 23) "err_o_rum tu_o_rum certi_o_rem";
--we catch it again, or something like it, in the last part of the
Annals (XIV. 36) in "im_bel_les in_er_mes ces_su_ros," and in the
first part: (I. 41) "_or_ant ob_sis_tunt, re_di_ret, ma_ne_ret."

XI. We find in both part of the Annals a very peculiar use of
"properus," with the genitive: in the last part: "Claudium, ut
insidiis incautum, ita _irae properum_" (XI. 26): in the first
part: "libertis et clientibus _potentiae_ apiscendae _properis_"
(IV. 59). This is not to be met with in the writings of any of
the old Romans; it would seem, then, that the Annals was, as is
alleged, a spurious composition of the fifteenth century, and that
the same hand wrote both parts.

When Bracciolini wants to put into Latin:--"Nobody will compare my
_history_ with the _books_ of those who wrote about the ancient
affairs of the Roman people"; he expresses himself:--"Nemo
_annales_ nostros cum _scriptura_ eorum contenderit, qui veteres
populi Romani res composuere" (An. IV. 32): it is not only
a very true observation, but, as far as concerns the use of
"annales" and "scriptura," the exact counterpart of what we read
in his "Description of the Ruins of the City of Rome", ("Ruinarum
Urbis Romae Descriptio"), when he observes: "though you may wade
through all the _books_ that are extant and pore over the
whole _history_ of human transactions", he writes: "licet ...
omnia _scripturarum_ monumenta pertractes, omnes gestarum
rerum _annales_ scruteris" (Pog. Op. p. 132), where it will
be observed that in both sentences not only "annales" and
"scriptura" occur almost together, but the former has the meaning
of "a history" and the latter of "a book," with which
significations Tacitus never uses the two words: indeed Tacitus
never uses the two words at all.

The use of "totiens," or its equivalent "toties," is peculiar to
the author of the Annals: it is never found in Tacitus, but
frequently in the writings of Bracciolini, as "tuam _toties_
a me reprehensam credulitatem" (Ep. I. 11):--"_toties_ has
fabulas audisti" (ibid):--"toties ... hoc biennio delusus sum in
hac re libraria" (Ep. II. 41). So in the Annals: "An Augustum
fessâ aetate, _toties_ in Germania potuisse" (II. 46):--"anxia
sui et infelici fecunditate fortunae _totiens_ obnoxia" (II.75):
--"_totiens_ irrisa resolutus" (IV. 9), and in other passages.
Bracciolini is so partial to the word that he uses it in its
compound as well as simple form, as in one of his letters to
Niccoli: "_Multoties_ scripsi tibi" (Ep. I. 17), and at the
beginning of the second book of the "Convivales," "addubitari,
inquam, _multotiens_" (Op. p. 37).

XII. "Addubitare" is a word which Tacitus never uses, only the
author of the Annals, as "paullum _addubitatum_, quod
Halicarnassii" (IV. 65). So in the "Ruinarum Urbis Romae
Descriptio," when speaking of Marius sitting amid the ruins of
Carthage, Bracciolini writes: "admirantem suam et Carthaginis
vicem, simulque fortunam utriusque conferentem,
_addubitantem_que utriusque fortunae majus spectaculum
extitisset" (Op. p. 132).

"Extitere" is a word never used by Tacitus;--or, more properly, he
so avoids it that he uses it but once. Bracciolini, on the contrary,
is very much given to the use of it. In the Annals it is repeatedly
met with; in the last part, (take the fifteenth book,) "centurionem
_extitisse_" (XV. 49), "auriga et histrio et incendiarius _extitisti_"
(ib. 67):--in the first part, "_extitisse_ tandem viros" (III. 44),
"socium delationis _extitisse_" (IV. 66), and on other occasions.
So it runs throughout the works of Bracciolini, as in his essay
on "Avarice": "si amator _extiterit_ sapientiae" (Op. 20); on
"The Unhappiness of Princes," "cogitationesque dominantium _extiterunt_,"
(Op. 393); on "Nobility," "autorem nobilitatis filiis _extitisse_
(Op. p. 69); on "The Misery of the Human Condition," splendidissimas
in illis civitatibus _extitisse_ (Op. p. 119); in his Letters,
"egenorum praesidium, oppressorem refugium, _extitisti_" (Ep. III. 17);
in his "History of Florence," "quae verba si execranda, et digna
odio _extitissent_" (Muratori XX. p. 235);--in fact, in all his
productions, whether forged or unforged.

There are, in fact, a number of words, and also phrases, used by
Bracciolini that are no where to be found in any of the works of
Tacitus. To illustrate this, we will confine ourselves to two
examples only of each, and to the first part of the Annals and the
History of Florence. To begin with words, and to take "pervastare":
in the first part of the Annals: "spatium ferro flammisque _pervastat_"
(I. 51): the History of Florence (Lib. I) "caede, incendio, rapinis
_pervastatis_" (Muratori tom. XX. p. 213). "Conficta," in the sense
of "fabricated": in the first part of the Annals: "in tempus _conficta_"
(I. 37): in the History of Florence (Lib. III): "_confictis_ mendaciis"
(ib. p. 254). To pass on to phrases, and to take (a word never used
by Tacitus) "impendium" with "posse": in the first part of the Annals:
"_impendio_ diligentiaque _poterat_" (IV. 6): in the History of
Florence (Lib. V.) "_impendio_ plurimum damni inferre _potuissent_"
(ib. 320). "Bellum" with "flagrare": in the first part of the Annals:
"_flagrante_ adhuc Poenorum _bello_" (II. 59): in the History of
Florence (Lib. V.): "Gallia omnis _bello flagraret_ Florentinos"
(ib. 320).

XIII. Whenever Tacitus ends a sentence with a polysyllabic word of
five syllables he avoids its repetition at the close of the next
sentence. The reverse is the case in the Annals, as, (take the
first book of the last part (XI. 22), "rem militarem _comitarentur_,
--in the sentence after, "accedentibus provinciarum _vectigalibus_,"
--in the sentence after that, "sententia Dolabellae velut _venundaretur_";
(or take the first book of the first part (I. 21-2), "eo immitior
quia _toleraverat_,"--the sentence after, "vagi circumspecta
_populabantur_,"--the sentence after that, "manipularium _parabantur_,"
--where, to be sure, in the last instance a syllable is deficient,
but it is made good by the sonorous sesquipedalian penultimate,--
_manipulariam_. So in the works of Bracciolini: "aures tuae
_recusabantur_," in the following sentence, "domi forisque
_obtemperares_," in the next sentence, "factorum dictorumque
_conscientiae_" (Op. 313).

XIV. A peculiarity in composition, if not actually proving, at
least raising the suspicion, that the same hand which wrote the
last part of the Annals also wrote the first part is observable in
the omission of the preposition _in_, when rest at a place is
denoted;--the omission, it is to be remarked, is not where there
is a single word, but when two words are coupled together, as in
the last six books,--in the description of the Romans bearing on
their shoulders statues of Octavia, which they decorate with
flowers and place both in the forum and in their temples:
"Octaviae imagines gestant humeris, spargunt floribus, _foroque
ac templis_ statuunt" (XIV. 61); and in the first six books in
the description of servile Romans following Sejanus in crowds to
Campania, and there without distinction of classes lying day and
night in the fields and on the sea shore:--"ibi _campo aut
litore_ jacentes, nullo discrimine noctem ac diem" (IV. 74).

Tacitus, in common with all other Roman prose-writers, uses the
names of _nations_ (when the verb implies motion) with a
preposition, which is not required with the names of
_countries_. The Roman poets are not so particular in this
respect, Virgil, for instance, writes, after the Homeric fashion,
by the omission of the preposition:

    "At nos hinc alii sitientis ibimus _Afros_:
    Ecl. I. 65;

for "ad Afros." So after Virgil, whom he is always quoting and
imitating, Bracciolini writes "ipse praecepts _Iberos_, ad
patrium regnum pervadit" (An. XII. 51), for "_ad_ Iberos,
_in_ patrium."



I. The Gift for the recovery of Livia.--II. Julius Caesar and the
Pomoerium.--III.--Julia, the wife of Tiberius.--IV. The statement
about her proved false by a coin.--V. Value of coins in detecting
historical errors.--VI. Another coin shows an error about
Cornutus.--VII. Suspicion of spuriousness from mention of the
Quinquennale Ludicrum.--VIII. Account of cities destroyed by
earthquake contradicted by a monument.--IX. Bracciolini's hand
shown by reference to the Plague.--X. Fawning of Roman senators
more like conduct of Italians in the fifteenth century.--XI. Same
exaggeration with respect to Pomponia Graecina and the Romans.--
XII. Wrong statement of the images borne at the funeral of
Drusus.--XIII. Similar kind of error committed by Bracciolini in
his "De Varietate Fortunae".--XIV. Errors about the Red Sea.--
XV. About the Caspian Sea.--XVI. Accounted for.--XVII. A passage
clearly written by Bracciolini.

It is now, however, time to pass on to other matters more
interesting and important, and, it may be, more convincing.

I. Famianus Strada is very much surprised in his Prolusions (I. 2
Histor.) that it should be stated in the third book of the Annals
(71), that when a gift for the recovery of Livia was to be
presented to Fortune the Equestrian, it had to be made at Antium,
where, it is stated, there was a temple which had that title,
there being none in Rome that was so named. Here are the words of
Bracciolini, in his own style, too, and his own history, neither
of which is, nor could be that of Tacitus: "A debate then came on
about a matter of religion, as to the temple in which the offering
was to be placed, which the Knights of Rome had promised to
present to Fortune the Equestrian for the health of the Imperial
Princess" (a phrase which no Roman would have used); "for though
there were many shrines of that Goddess in Rome, yet there was
none with that name: it was resolved:--'that there be a temple at
Antium which has such an appellation, and that all religious rites
in towns in Italy, and temples and statues of Gods and Goddesses,
be under Roman law and rule': consequently, the offering was set
up at Antium": "Incessit dein religio, quonam in templo locandum
erat donum, quod pro valetudine Augustae equites Romani voverant
Equestri Fortunae: nam etsi delubra ejus deae multa in urbe,
nullum tamen tali cognomento erat; repertum est, 'aedem esse apud
Antium quae sic nuncuparetur, cunctasque caerimonias Italicis in
oppidis, templaque et numinum effigies, juris atque imperii Romani
esse': ita donum apud Antium statuitur" (An. III. 71). This,
however, was not the case; for Famianus Strada says that there was
a temple in Rome which had been dedicated to Fortune the
Equestrian for more than 200 years by Quintus Fulvius after the
war with the Celtiberians, when he was Praetor; and, afterwards
when he was Censor, he erected a magnificent edifice in honour of
the goddess: the gift and the temple are both mentioned by Livy
(XL. 42), also by Vitruvius, Julius Obsequens, Valerius Maximus,
Publius Victor, and other historians and antiquaries. One cannot
then well understand how a fact like this could have been unknown
to Tacitus, who must have been acquainted with all the public
buildings in Rome, especially the Temples; though it is quite easy
to conceive how the slip could have been made by a writer of the
fifteenth century: indeed, it would be odd if Bracciolini had not,
now and then, fallen into such errors, which, though trivial in
themselves, become mistakes of mighty magnitude in an inquiry of
this description.

II. A writer who could be so ignorant about the temples in Rome is
just the sort of writer who would display ignorance about the
public works in that city. Cognate then with this blunder in the
first part of the Annals is the blunder in the last part about
that ancient right, the enlargement of the pomoerium. We are told
that those only who had extended the bounds of the Empire by the
annexation of countries which they had brought under subjection
were entitled to add also to the City, and that the only two of
all the generals who had exercised this privilege before the time
of Claudius, were Sylla and Augustus. "Pomoerium urbis auxit
Caesar more prisco, quo iis qui protulere imperium, etiam terminos
urbis propagare datur. Nec tamen duces Romani, quamquam magnis
nationibus subactis, usurpaverant, nisi Lucius Sulla et divus
Augustus" (An. XII. 23). Justus Lipsius, at this misstatement, is,
strange to say, quite contented by merely remarking in a merry
mood: "I am not going to defend you, Cornelius: you are wrong: an
enlargement was also made by Julius Caesar, who was 'pitched in'"
("interjectus") "between these two." "Non defendo te, Corneli:
erras: etiani C. Caesar auxit interjectus inter eos duos." Any
critic ought not to be facetiously playful, but seriously startled
and unaccountably puzzled, that Tacitus, or any Roman of his
stamp, should have been ignorant of a fact which must have been
known to all his well informed countrymen, from its having been
borne testimony to by so many eminent writers;--by Cicero in his
Letter to Atticus (I. 13), by Cassius Dio in the 43rd Book of his
History, by Aulus Gellius in his "Noctes Atticae" (XIII. 14), and,
omitting all the antiquaries such as Fulvius and Onuphrius, Mark
Antony in his Funeral Oration over the remains of Caesar, where he
bewails the fate of an Emperor, who had been slain in the City,
the pomoerium of which he had enlarged: [Greek: en tae polei
enedreutheis, ho kai to pomaerion autaes apeuxaesas] (Cas. Dio.
XLIV. 49). This fact seems to have been unknown just as well to
Shakespeare as to Bracciolini; or our great national poet would
have taken cognizance of it somewhere, perhaps in that part of
Mark Antony's speech, where reference is made to what Caesar did
for the Romans:

    "Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
    His private arbours, and new-planted orchards
    On this side Tiber: he hath left them you,
    And to your heirs for ever; common pleasures,
    To walk abroad and recreate yourselves."
    (_Jul. Caesar_, Act III. sc. 2)

III. A writer who could entirely overlook such a memorable
achievement of Julius Caesar distinctly shows himself in his
incorrectness about the career of such a distinguished member of
the Augustan family as Julia, the wife of Tiberius: she is spoken
of as having died in the first year of the reign of Tiberius,
after having been banished by her father for infamous adulteries
to the island of Trimetus, where, deserted by her husband, she
must have speedily perished, in lieu of languishing in exile for
twenty years, had she not been supported by the bounty of
"Augusta". "Per idem tempus Julia mortem obiit quam neptem
Augustus convictam adulterii damnatus est, projeceratque haud
procul Apulis littoribus. Illic viginti annis exilium toleravit,
Augustae ope sustentata" (An. IV. 71).

IV. A very small brass coin preserved in the National Collection
in Paris informs us that Julia was alive at least three years
after that date. So far from having been doomed by her husband to
perish through want, Tiberius held her in such uncommon esteem
that he ordered a coin to be struck in her honour in the fourth
year of his reign for the money bears the inscription, in Greek
capitals, [Greek: IOULIA], with the initials, [Greek: LD],
signifying in the fourth year of Tiberius after the death of

V. Now let the reader bear in mind that when we find in the Annals
a statement so contrary to what we gather from an old coin, we
must set down that statement as a pure figment of history; for
nothing can be so valuable for correct and exact information as
coins, which were always struck among the ancient Romans by public
authority, by the decrees of the Senate or the Comitia Curiata, or
by the edicts of the Decuriones (Councils of the Municipal towns
or Colonies), and of the Propraetors or Proconsuls of the

VI. A coin of the latter description lays bare another very gross
error committed in the first part of the Annals in making Caius
Caecilius Cornutus governor of Paphlagonia in the time of Tiberius
(An. IV. 28): Cornutus must have been a Proconsul of that province
in the time of either Galba or Otho. The coin, which is a large
brass one, exhibits, on its obverse side, Cornutus with a helmet
on his head, and underneath [Greek: AMISOU], meaning that he was
the Governor of Paphlagonia, of which "Amisus" was the capital,
while on the reverse side are the words [Greek: EPI GAIOU
KAIKILIOU KORNOUTOU]; Rome, sitting upon shields, holds the Roman
world in her right hand Victory stretches forth hers to place a
crown on the head of Cornutus, and beneath is [Greek: ROMAE],
which, during the period of the Empire, was inscribed on coins,
but only in the time of Galba and Otho, because Amisus, that is
Paphlagonia, was then subject to Rome, that is, the Senate, under
Caius Caecilius Cornutus, as Africa was under Caius Clodius

VII. No one would have been more willing than Bracciolini himself
to have acknowledged the ample sufficiency of this argument to
prove in the cases of Julia and Cornutus the forgery of the
Annals; for he was himself a great collector of the coins and
medals of antiquity, from which he gained a great deal of his
historical information: he must, for example, have had in his
possession, or have seen somewhere one of those medals which
antiquaries say were struck in the time of Nero with a table, a
garland, a pot, and the inscription: "Certa: Quinq. Rom. Co. Se."
meaning "Certamen, Quinquennale Romae constituit"; for in the
fourteenth book of the Annals (20) he makes mention of a set of
games by the name "Quinquennale Ludricum," and in the sixteenth
(4) by the title "Lustrale Certamnen, though no one has been able
to decide, or even divine, what games these were on account of
their exceeding insignificance: his object, then, in mentioning
them, when their chief constituents or principal prizes were a
table, a garland, and a pot, was evidently to impress his reader
with his most intimate knowledge of ancient Roman customs, and
leave his reader to infer with certainty that the Annals must have
proceeded from a native Roman; but here it strikes me that he
altogether defeated his own purpose; for if the Annals had been
written by Tacitus, that grave historian took such high ground
that he would have deemed it beneath him to notice any such
trivial amusements, just as Hume and Henry, in tracing the history
of the people of England, did not descend to make any inquiry into
or mention of the precise time when such popular games were
instituted, as the Maypole or country fairs, horse-racing or

VIII. Monuments as well as coins may be relied upon for correcting
errors made by historians. There is a monument at Puteoli erected
in the time of Tiberius A.D. 30, containing the names of fourteen
cities in Asia Minor that were destroyed by a series of
earthquakes that took place during seven years in the course of
the reign of Tiberius, the first being Cilicia (Nipp. I. 233),
which was destroyed A.D. 23, and the last, and greatest of all,
being Ephesus, which was reduced to ruins A.D. 29. A passage in
the second book of the Annals (47) describes twelve famous cities
of Asia owing their sudden destruction to an earthquake occurring
at night. We are told that "the usual means of escape by rushing
into the open air was of no avail: the yawning earth swallowed up
everybody: huge mountains sank down, level plains rose into hills,
and lightning flashed throughout the catastrophe." Substitute
"villages" for "famous cities," "hills" for "huge mountains," and
we have, perhaps, as good an account as can be found in such few
words of one of those dreadful calamities of nature,--though it
happened not in the reign of Tiberius but three years before the
death of Bracciolini,--the entire destruction of the city of
Naples and its surrounding villages in 1456, when all the
inhabitants perished, men, women and children, to the number of no
fewer than 20,000 souls. "Eodem anno duodecim celebres Asiae urbes
conlapsae nocturno motu terrae; quo improvisior graviorque pestis
fuit. Neque solitum in tali casu effugium in aperta prorumpendi,
quia diductis terris hauriebantur. Sedisse immensos montes, enisa
in arduum quae plana fuerint, effulsisse inter ruinam ignis
memorant." (II. 47).

IX. It will be here seen that the only thing mentioned as breaking
out more suddenly and being more dreadful in its devastation than
an earthquake is the "plague": "quo IMPROVISIOR GRAVIORque PESTIS
fuit." Bracciolini spoke from personal observation. When he was
here in England in 1422, he would not venture abroad nor leave
London, on account of the plague which raged in the provinces and
extended over almost the whole island (Ep. I. 7.). Details of this
pestilence have not come down to us, but we see how terrible must
have been its character, when this strong and lasting impression
was left on the memory of Bracciolini, that he avails himself of
it in this passage of the Annals to serve as a symbol of the worst
species of destructiveness, from which we needs must gather that
nothing could have broken out so unexpectedly and without apparent
cause as the plague in England in 1422, nor have been more
frightful and more rapid in its fatality.

X. Another instance in the first part of the Annnals of how
Bracciolini modified circumstances from his own period, and then,
--knowing that human actions are ever repeating themselves, just
as that the human passions remain the same in all ages,--remitted
them to the first century, is his account of the fawning of the
Roman Senators, when he represents them imploring Tiberius and
Sejanus to deign to vouchsafe to the citizens the honour of an
audience: the Emperor and the Minister refuse the supplication;
their condescension extends no further than to their not crossing
over to the island of Caprea, but remaining on the coast of
Campania: thither the Senators, the knights, and the vast mass of
the commonalty of the City resort to exhibit a disgraceful spirit
of sycophancy and servility; they hurry continually to and from
Rome, crowd into Campania in such numbers that they are forced to
lie in the open fields night and day, some on the bare sands of
the seashore, without distinction of rank; and they put up with
the insolence of the porters of Sejanus, who deny them ingress to
the Minister. "Aram Clementiae, aram Amicitiae effigiesquecircum
Caesaris ac Sejani censuere; crebrisque precibus efflagitabant,
visendi sui copiam facerent. Non illi tamen in urbem, aut
propinqua urbi digressi sunt: satis visum, omittere insulam, et in
proximo Campaniae adspici. eo venire patres, eques, magna pars
plebis, anxii erga Sejanum; cujus durior congressus, atque eo per
ambitum, et societate consiliorum parabatur. Satis constabat
auctam, ei adrogantiam, foedum illud in propatulo servitium
spectanti. quippe Romae, sueti discursus; et magnitudine urbis
incertum, quod quisque ad negotium pergat: ibi campo aut litore
jacentes, nullo discrimine noctem ac diem, juxta gratiam aut
fastus janitorum perpetiebantur" (An. IV. 74).

A man must be credulous beyond measure who can believe that such
degrading servility was ever manifested among all classes by the
ancient Roman people; the picture, nevertheless, seems to have
much truth in it, though tinged with exaggeration; but the
painting must be transferred from the first to the fifteenth
century: there was then a schism in the Church: every now and then
the Pope would leave Rome, and stay at Florence, Reate, Ferrara,
or some other city in Italy; thereupon crowds of sycophantic
devotees, of whom the Roman Church has always had multitudes,
would crouch into the presence of the Sovereign Pontiff, and put
themselves to a wonderful amount of inconvenience, by thronging
into towns beyond the power they possessed of affording
accommodation: these flying visits of the Popes into small country
towns always occurred during the heats of summer; hence the
pilgrims lay in the open air; and all this suffering they
submitted to with the patient spirit of martyrs, only to obtain an
audience, to have a sight of and a blessing from the Holy Father.
When we remember too what was the power of the Popes in those
days, we can easily fancy how true is the remainder of the picture
when those to whom an audience was denied returned home in alarm,
and how ill-timed was the joy of those whose unfortunate
friendship with some cruel Papal Minister portended their imminent
death. "Donec idque vetitum. et revenere in urbeni trepidi, quos
non sermone, non visu dignatus erat: quidam male alacres, quibus
infaustae amicitiae gravis exitus imminebat" (l. c.)

XI. The same love of extraordinary exaggeration is found in the
last as in the first part of the Annals, showing thereby that the
whole work came from the same source. In the thirteenth book
Pomponia Graecina is described as changing not her weeds nor her
lamenting spirit for "forty" years,--mourning, too, as she was,
not for a husband, a son or a father, but Julia, the daughter of
Drusus, who was murdered by Messalina. "Nam post Juliam, Drusi
filiam, dolo Messalinae interfectam, per 'quadraginta' annos, non
cultu nisi lugubri, non animo nisi moesto egit." (An. XIII. 32).
Lipsius saw something so extraordinary in this, that, in his usual
way, without any authority of manuscript or edition, he cut short
the term, substituting "fourteen" for "forty,"--"quatuordecim" for

XII. A mistake which no Roman could have made occurs in the first
part of the Annals, where, we are told that, at the funeral of
Drusus, the father of Germanicus, "the images of the Claudii and
the _Julii_ were borne around his bier":--"circumfusas lecto
Claudiorum _Juliorumque_ imagines" (III. 5). Should the
reader turn for the venfication of this curious statement to some
modern edition of the works of Tacitus, it is possible that he may
find "Liviorum" instead of "Juliorum," for reasons which will be
immediately given; but if he will consult any of the MSS. or
editions prior to the time of Justus Lipsius, he will find the
passage as given. The error was so monstrous, that Lipsius
corrected it; because the Romans, at the obsequies of their great,
only carried around the bier the images of the ancestors of the
deceased. Accordingly Lipsius asks the very pertinent question,
how at the funeral procession of Drusus, who was no member of the
Julian family, not even by adoption, the images of members of that
house could be borne? He, therefore, substituted a family to which
Drusus belonged, the Livii. Freinshemius followed him, and some of
the subsequent editors, among them Ernesti, who observes he could
see no reason why the images of the Livii should have been omitted
at the funeral of Drusus; nor anybody else, except for the very
strong and simple reason that the author of the Annals, being
Bracciolini, was not acquainted with the fact, which must have
been familiar to Tacitus, that the Livii, and not the Julii, were
the great ancestors of Drusus.

XIII. That Bracciolini was just the sort of man to fall into
glaring mistakes, oftener than otherwise from perverseness, or
some peculiar humour, such as a resolution to be in the wrong,
would appear to be the case from the remarkable error which he
commits in his "Historia de Varietate Fortunae," respecting the
beginning of the French kingdom which he puts down at "a little
beyond the year 900,"--"paulo ultra nongentesimum annum" (Hist. de
Var. For. II. p. 45), thus entirely discarding the Merovingian and
Carlovingian dynasties, and ascribing the commencement of the
French kingdom to the beginning of the Capetian house; and he
gives his reason; for he says that until "a little beyond 900,"
France had been divided among a number of Princes; but so it was
even when Hugh Capet, putting an end to the system of anarchy
which had prevailed before his time, established real monarchy;
yet monarchy, after all, was not so real then as it was in the
time of Charlemagne: Capet was only the most powerful prince among
a number of others, who, nominally acknowledging him as king, were
absolute in their own rights, raised taxes, dispensed justice,
framed laws, coined money and made war. It is true that it is not
very easy to get at the proper history of France at the period in
question, from there not being the requisite authority for a
correct knowledge of those dark and distant times: a great deal of
obscurity and conjecture, too, exist as to the actual character of
the monarchy,--as to whether, for example, Clovis and his
predecessors were real kings, or merely knights errant, and
whether their successors were as absolute as the Emperors among
the Romans, or more magistrates than sovereigns as among the
Germans, all sorts of doubts having been raised and mistiness
thrown over these and other important matters by the ingenuity of
such writers as Adrien de Valois, Boulainvilliers, Daniel, Dubos,
Mad'lle de Lézardière, Mably, Montesquieu, Mad'lle Montlozier,
Velly and others: still the historians of France are all unanimous
in agreeing, that the French monarchy commenced hundreds of years
before the date fixed by Bracciolini, namely, at the commencement
of the fifth century, some preferring to begin with Marchomir,
Duke of the Sicambrian Franks, and others with Pharamond, (though
Marchomir, before Pharamond, was, certainly, king of Gallic

XIV. We are told in the first part of the Annals (II. 61) that the
boundaries of the Roman Empire extended to the Red Sea. This is
generally supposed to allude to the possession of Mesopotamia,
Assyria and Armenia by the Romans, which they held only for two
years, from 115 to 117. Now, none of these provinces, only Arabia,
Susiana, Persis, Carmania and Gedrosia, bordered upon what the
Romans called "The Red Sea," and we "The Indian Ocean"; for the
ancients believed that from about twelve degrees south of the
sources of the Nile, from a country named by them Agyzimba, there
was a continuation of land stretching from Africa to Asia, an
opinion entertained by all the old geographers, from Hipparchus to
Marinus of Tyre and Ptolemy, and never abandoned, until long after
the death of Bracciolini, when the Portuguese under Vasco de Gama,
doubling the Cape of Good Hope, and hugging the shores of eastern
Africa and of Asia, reached India by the sea towards the close of
the fifteenth century. The Indian Ocean having then been known for
many hundred years by the name of the Red Sea, and looked upon as
a vast body of inland water, like the Mediterranean, we have,
unquestionably, a gross error with respect to the geography of
Asia, as it was known in the time of Tacitus, when it is written
in the Annals: "Exin ventum Elephantinen ac Syenen, claustra olim
Romani Imperii, quod nunc RUBRUM AD MARE patescit."(An. II. 61).

XV. The same confusion of ideas with respect to the Indian Ocean,
and pointing to identity of authorship, is found in the last, as
well as in the first, part of the Annals, when the Hyrcanian
ambassadors returning home from Rome have a military escort as far
as the shores (it is said) "of the Red Sea," which they are to
pass over in order to avoid the territories of the enemy:--"eos
regredientes Corbulo, ne Euphraten transgressi hostium custodiis
circumvenirentur, dato praesidio ad littora 'Maris Rubri' deduxit,
unde vitatis Parthorum finibus, patrias in sedes remeavere"
(An. XIV. 25). Here the "Red Sea" clearly means the Caspian Sea,
because the Parthians lived to the south of the Hyrcanians, and
there was no means of the ambassadors by crossing the Euphrates or
going southwards, getting into their country without passing
through the territory of their enemies, but by travelling
northwards they would pass through Media across the Caspian Sea to
their own shores. It is difficult to determine whether Bracciolini
did not give the name of "Mare Rubrum" to any large body of water
which he believed communicated with the Indian Ocean, which he may
have thought was the case with the Caspian, in common with Strabo,
and before Strabo Eratosthenes, and after Strabo Pomponius Mela:
or Bracciolini may have thought that the Caspian had no
communication with any other sea,--was perfectly mediterranean,
and that being in the midst of land, it ought to have the same
name given to it as the lndian Ocean, that neither mingled with
nor joined any other sea. Let the error have originated as it
might, it is of a character so cognate with that in the second
book, as to induce one to believe that both parts of the Annals
proceeded from the same hand, and that that could not have been
the hand of Tacitus, as in his day the Romans spoke specifically
of the Euxine and the Caspian Sea, so that if he had written the
Annals, he would have written in the first instance, "ad Pontum
Euxinum," and in the second,"Caspii Maris."

XVI. But if my theory be accepted that Bracciolini forged both
parts of the Annals, these errors are not at all to be wondered
at; for at the commencement of the fifteenth century, even his
countrymen, the Italians, especially the rich merchants of his
native city, Florence, as well as the other wealthy traders of
Venice and Genoa, who dealt in spices and other Oriental
productions, alone practised navigation and cultivated commerce in
the countries of Asia, and though better informed of those parts
of the world than the other nations of Europe, had yet but a
confused and false conception of the Red Sea and the waters in the

There ought, further, to be no surprise that Bracciolini possessed
this limited geographical knowledge of the lands and waters of
Asia, considering that, up to his time, only a few travellers,
such as Carpin and Asevlino, Rubrequis, Marco Polo and Conti, had
penetrated into the central portions of that continent:--as to
Africa, its very shape was unknown, for navigation scarcely
extended beyond the Mediterranean: at the commencement of the
fifteenth century, indeed, not only information about the
different quarters of the globe, but letters, arts, the sciences,
and the greater part of our present ideas, were all prostrate,
--crushed beneath the weight of weapons and silent amid the din
of arms, for everybody thought of nothing but wars.

XVII. While treating of maritime matters, I may refer to a passage
in the second book of the Annals, which forcibly impresses me as
being penned by Bracciolini, in whose declining years Prince Henry
of Portugal, with a passion for voyages and discoveries, gave a
new direction to the genius of his age by laying the foundation
for a revolution which must be for ever memorable in modern
history. On Prince Henry giving the signal, navigation spread its
sails; discovery followed discovery with amazing, speed; successes
attended every expedition; each started after the other rapidly,
and soon in all directions; the navigators returning home brought
news so strange,--so animating all minds,--so inspiring all
imaginations,--of the fresh lands they had seen that we can easily
imagine a writer living in the midst of all these stirring
accounts, who was desirous of producing as much effect as possible
in a history that he was forging, writing thus of mariners on
their "return from a long distance": "they talk about wonders, the
power of whirlwinds and unheard of birds, monsters of the deep
having the forms of half men and half beasts,--things either
actually seen or else believed under the influence of excitement":
--Lipsius adds in a note, "rather based on pure fancy,"--"vanitate
efficta";--had the great Dutch critic for a moment dreamt that
Bracciolini had forged the "Annals of Tacitus," he would have known
that the observation, as far as concerned the author's own period,
was founded on fact, the English having then had the good fortune
to discover,--(or, as it was known to the Romans, more properly,
re-discover) Madeira; for the first time, in modern days, the French
nobleman in the service of Spain, Jean de Bethencourt, reached the
Canaries; the Flemings, too, for the first time got as far as the
Azores; above all, Gilianez, in 1433, doubling Cape Boyador, or Nun,
arrived on the West Coast of Africa to a few degrees above the equator:
every one of them returned with wonderful news of his voyage which was
looked upon as something marvellous:--accordingly their great contemp-
orary, Bracciolini, wrote thus, thinking of the miraculous narrative
that was told by each adventurous navigator of his time:--"Ut quis ex
longinquo venerat, miracula narrabant, vim turbinum, et inauditas
volucres, monstra maris, ambiguas hominum et belluarum formas,
--visa, sive ex motu credita" (An. II. 24). Nothing was going on in
the days of Tacitus, which could have put such a notion in his
head; nor is the passage from which it is taken at all in his
style, as will be admitted when I immediately proceed to compare
and contrast certain passages in Bracciolini and himself with the
view of examining the graphic powers which they both possessed.




I. The descriptive powers of Bracciolini and Tacitus.--II. The
different mode of writing of both.--III. Their different manners
of digressing.--IV. Two Statements in the Fourth Book of the
Annals that could not have been made by Tacitus.--V. The spirit
of the Renaissance shown in both parts of the Annals.--VI. That
both parts proceeded from the same hand shown in the writer
pretending to know the feelings of the characters in the
narrative.--VII. The contradictions in the two parts of the Annals
and in the works of Bracciolini.--VIII. The Second Florence MS. a
forgery.--IX. Conclusion.

I. The graphic powers possessed by Tacitus and Bracciolini were
considerably influenced by their respective characters, which were
widely different: no one can read the works of Tacitus, and not
come to the conclusion that he was unassuming; whereas no one can
read the works of Bracciolini, without being struck by his
inordinate vanity, no matter what he maybe doing, describing the
Ruins of Rome, discoursing on the Unhappiness of Princes,
moralizing on Avarice or wailing in rhetorical magniloquence over
the remains of friends: still he displays himself for admiration.
The same thing occurs throughout the Annals. From the first to the
last the author stands before his reader on account of the
extraordinary manner of his narrative which is ever filling one
with surprize from Emperors and Generals, like Tiberius and
Germanicus, weeping like Homer's heroes, and Queens and captive
women, like Boadicea and the wife of Armin, exhibiting none of the
frailties of their sex, being above the timorous passions, and not
shedding a tear even when they are made prisoners, but conducting
themselves with all the insolence of conquerors. Roman knights and
senators, of the stamp of Lucanus, Senecio and Quinctianus
(XV. 49-57) betray the dearest pledges they have in blood and
friendship, while slaves, and wantons such as Epicharis, undergo
the fury of stripes and tortures to protect those not bound to
them by ties of kindred and not even personally known to them. Not
only do we find the heroic in malefactors and the criminal in
heroes;--the spirited where we expect to come across the sordid,
and the mean where we look for the grand, but the supernatural and
magical mingle with the real and practical;--the sound of
trumpets comes from hills where it is known there are no musical
instruments; shrieks of departed ghosts issue from the tombs of
mothers; incidents by sea and land are accompanied by wonderfully
sublime circumstances; shipwrecks have whatever make up such
scenes in their worst appearances.

The whole of this proceeds from Bracciolini indulging his fancy in
a latitude which is denied the historian, and allowed only to the
poet; hence he sometimes carries circumstances to bounds that
border upon extravagance. Tacitus, on the other hand, always
maintains his dignity; holding command over his fancy he carries
circumstances to their due length, and only to their due extent.

This will be seen in the passages which I shall now select to
illustrate the correctness of this remark; and beginning with
Bracciolini, I will take his account of a marine disaster in the
second book of the Annals.

The picture opens with a scene of beauty: "a thousand ships
propelled by creaking oars or flapping sails float over a calm
sea: all of a sudden a hailstorm bursts from a circular rack of
clouds: simultaneously billows rolling to uncertain heights before
shifting squalls that blow from every quarter shut out the view
and impede navigation: the soldiers, in their alarm and knowing
nothing of the dangers of the deep, get in the way of the sailors,
or rendering services not required, undo the work of the skilful
seaman: from this point the whole welkin and the whole sea are
given up to a hurricane that rages from an enormous mass of clouds
sweeping down from the swelling hilltops and deep rivers of
Germany: the hurricane made more dreadful by freezing blasts from
the neighbouring North, lays hold of the ships which it scatters
into the open ocean or among islands perilous with precipitous
cliffs or hidden shoals; the fleet, narrowly escaping shipwreck
among them, is borne onwards, after the change of tide, in the
direction whither the wind is blowing."

The reader is now left to the resources of his imagination; he has
to supply a missing link in the chain of the description,--the
mooring of the ships; though how or where that could be done it is
impossible to conceive; we are, nevertheless, told that the
vessels "cannot hold by their anchors"--("non adhaerere anchoris
... poterant"), "nor draw off the water that rushes into them.
Horses, beasts of burden, baggage and even arms are thrown
overboard to lighten the hulls with their leaking sides and seas
breaking over them."

Here the terrible character of the calamity is poetically
heightened by the writer observing that, "though there might be
greater tempests in other parts of the Ocean, and Germany was
unsurpassed for its convulsions of the elements, yet this disaster
was worse than those for the novelty and magnitude of its dangers
--the surrounding shores being inhabited by enemies, and the sea
so boundless and unfathomable that it was taken to be without a
shore, and the last in the world": whence we way infer that the
ships had got well out into the Atlantic, which must have
presented to the eyes of the Romans pretty much the same
appearance that it presented to Bracciolini's contemporaries, the
English, Flemings and Spaniards, when, sailing for days together
out of sight of land, they were making their way for the first
time to (in the language in the Annals) "islands situated a very
long way off":--"insulas longius sitas",--Madeira, the Azores and
the Canaries.

On such far-away islands described as deserted, "the majority of
the ships are cast ashore, the remainder having foundered in the
deep; there the soldiers, deprived of the means of existence,
perish from starvation, except those who survive by eating the
dead horses that are thrown up on the sands"; though it is beyond
the reach of the mind to conjecture whence the dead horses could
have come after such a description.

"Germanicus, whose galley alone is saved by being thrown on the
country of the Chauci, roams about the rocky coast and
promontories all those days and nights, bitterly blaming himself
as the guilty cause of the mighty catastrophe, and is with
difficulty prevented by his friends from casting himself into the
sea, and thus putting an end to a life made miserable by such
self-accusation. At length the swell subsides; a favourable breeze
springs up; the shattered ships return, with few oars and garments
spread for sails; some are towed by others more efficient; these
being hastily repaired are sent to search the distant islands; by
these means several" of the surviving soldiers "are with great
pains recovered; the Angrivarii, newly received into alliance with
the Romans, return others, who had found their way into the
interior of their country; and the petty British princes send back
the remainder who had been cast upon their shores." Thus all ends
as happily as a comedy; everybody and everything are saved; men
and ships return: meanwhile Bracciolini has entertained his reader
with a pretty, exciting episode, (what British sailors call "a
yarn"), without making himself absolutely ridiculous by placing on
record that the Romans in the days of Tiberius lost "a thousand
ships"; though he certainly gives credit to his reader for
considerable credulity by inviting him to believe that the Romans
at any time ever had a fleet amounting to such an enormous number
of vessels. [Endnote 401]

"Ac primo placidum aequor mille navium remis strepere, aut velis
impelli: mox atro nubium globo effusa grando, simul variis undique
procellis incerti fluctus prospectum adimere, regimen impedire:
milesque pavidus, et casuum maris ignarus, dum turbat nautas, vel
intempestive juvat, officia prudentium corrumpebat. omne dehine
coelum, et mare omne in austrum cessit, qui tumidis Germaniae
terris, profundis amnibus, immenso nubium tractu validus, et
rigore vicini septemtrionis horridior, rapuit disjecitque naves in
aperta Oceani, aut insulas saxis abruptis vel per occulta vada
infestas. quibus paulum aegreque vitatis, postquam mutabat aestus,
eodemque quo ventus ferebat; non adhaerere anchoris, non exhaurire
inrumpentis undas poterant: equi, jumenta, sarcinae, etiam arma
praecipitantur, quo levarentur alvei manantes per latera, et
fluctu superurgente.

"Quanto violentior cetero mari Oceanus, et truculentia coeli
praestat Germania, tantum illa clades novitate et magnitudine
excessit, hostilibus circum litoribus, aut ita vasto et profundo,
ut credatur novissimum ac sine terris, mari. pars navium haustae
sunt; plures, apud insulas longius sitas ejectae: milesque, nullo
illic hominum cultu, fame absumptus, nisi quos corpora equorum
eodem elisa toleraverant. sola Germanici triremis Chaucorum terram
adpulit, quem per omnes illos dies noctesque apud scopulos et
prominentis oras, cum se tanti exitii reum clamitaret, vix
cohibuere amici, quo minus eodem mari oppeteret. Tandem relabente
aestu, et secundante vento, claudae naves raro remigio, aut
intentis vestibus, et quaedam a validioribus tractae, revertere:
quas raptim refectas misit, ut scrutarentur insulas. collecti ea
cura plerique: multos Angrivarii nuper in fidem accepti, redemptos
ab interioribus reddidere: quidam in Britanniam rapti, et remissi
a regulis" (An. II. 24, 25).

We have no means of testing by minute and accurate comparison the
descriptive powers which Tacitus possessed in dealing with such a
subject, because he has no account of a marine disaster in any of
his works. We must then do the next best we can, see how he deals
with a military calamity,--for, though in the account we are about
to give, the Romans had been victorious, we must remember the
sentiment of the Duke of Wellington, that next to a defeat there
is nothing so miserable as a victory. The passage we shall give is
that of the visit of Vitellius to the plains of Bedriacum forty
days after a battle had been fought and a victory had been won by
the Romans.

"Thence Vitellius turned aside to Cremona, and, after he had seen
Caecina's contest of gladiators, longed to visit the plains of
Bedriacum, and view the field where a victory had been lately won.
Horrible and ghastly spectacle! Forty days after the battle,--and
the mangled bodies, lacerated limbs and putrefying corpses of men
and horses,--the ground stained with gore,--the trees and the corn
levelled;--what a dismal devastation!--nor less painful the part
of the road which the people of Cremona,--as if they were the
subjects of a king,--had strewn with roses and laurels, altars
they had raised and victims they had slain,--signs of gratulation
for the moment, which very soon afterwards occasioned their
destruction. Valens and Caecina were there, and told the points of
the battle:--'Here the columns of the legions rushed to the fray:
here the cavalry charged: there the bands of the auxiliaries
routed the foe.' The tribunes and prefects then began each to
praise his own deeds, and utter a medley of truths and
falsehoods,--or exaggerations. The rank and file, too, of the
troops with shouts that showed their joy turned from the line of
march to behold again the field of battle, and wonder as they
looked at the piles of arms and the heaps of bodies. And some,
when the various turns of chance occurred to their minds, melted
into tears and were heavy at heart from sorrow, but Vitellius did
not turn aside his eyes nor shudder at so many thousands of his
unburied countrymen: he was even glad, and ignorant of his all but
impending fate made an offering to the gods of the place."

"Inde Vitellius Cremonam flexit, et spectato munere Caecinae,
insistere Bedriacensibus campis, ac vestigia recentis victoriae
lustrare oculis concupivit. Foedum atque atrox spectaculum! Intra
quadragesimum pugnae diem lacera corpora, trunci artus, putres
virorum equorumque formae, infecta tabo humus, protritis arboribus
ac frugibus--dira vastitas: nec minus inhumana pars viae, quam
Cremonenses lauro rosisque constraverant, exstructis altaribus
caesisque victimis, regium in morem: quae, laeta in praesens, mox
perniciem ipsis fecere. Aderant Valens et Caecina, monstrabantque
pugnae locos: 'Hinc irrupisse legionum agmen: hinc equites
coortos: inde circumfusas auxiliorum manus.' Jam tribuni
praefectique, sua quisque facta extollentes; falsa, vera, aut
majora vero miscebant. Vulgus quoque militum, clamore et gaudio
deflectere via, spatia certaminum recognoscere, aggerem armorum,
strues corporum intueri, mirari. Et erant, quos varia fors rerum,
lacrimaeque et misericordia subiret; at non Vitellius deflexit
oculos, nec tot millia insepultorum civium exhorruit: laetus
ultro, et tam propinquae sortis ignarus, instaurabat sacrum diis
loci" (Hist. II. 70).

It must be obvious even to the most careless and least
perspicacious what a striking contrast there is in the descriptive
powers of the two; the objects that Tacitus depicts are not only
few in number and telling in character, but seem to be presented
to us on the principle of truth, as of actual occurrences; the
method he adopts reminds one of that pursued by Sir Walter Scott,
no matter whether the descriptive passage occur in one of his
poems, as The Lady of the Lake, or in one of his romances, as The
Heart of Mid-Lothian: Bracciolini, on the other hand, appears to
be inventing,--or, at least, heaping together a number of real
circumstances, one or two of which might have happened together,
but scarcely all of them at the same time, while he so arranges
them as to produce a highly poetic effect: he writes as Lord Byron
made up his shipwreck in Don Juan,--as Moore shows us in his Life
of the eminent poet,--by selecting here and there a telling
incident from the narrative of this or that shipwrecked mariner.

II. Not only in description did Bracciolini fail to imitate the
writing of Tacitus; he failed to imitate it also in sequence of
ideas. There is unquestionably resemblance in the absence of
circumlocution; in such considerable conciseness that words are as
sentences; in there being no hyperbole, and in judicious language
at all times consonant with the solidity of the instructions
conducive to wisdom in political and civil life. But in order to
effect this Bracciolini clipped his sentences as a gardener clips
hedges: a sentence is now and then like an amputated limb; a word
is wanting, like a hand or a foot cut off from an arm or a leg:
sometimes the reader sees, what was evidently made with
mischievous intent, a great gap in thought, at which he is stopped
and disturbed,--as a farmer, when walking in his fields, is
brought to a stand-still and overcome with annoyance to see an
opening which his cattle have made in his fences, and which he
must be at the pains of repairing: so these vacuities in thought
require to be botched by the fancy of the reader; the patching may
not be the requisite thing to be done: accordingly the gaps cause
difficulties in rightly apprehending the meaning of the writer,
who, in some passages may, possibly, never be properly understood.

The consequence of this is that no remark is so common as to hear
people, especially young persons, say of Tacitus, "How difficult
his Latin is!" Even Messrs. Church and Brodripp say so in the
Preface to their translation of the "History." Certainly, it is
difficult, perhaps impossible, to reproduce in another language
the smooth style and polished phrases of Tacitus; but his Latin is
easy to follow, whatever he maybe doing,--describing a battle, a
riot or a flight;--recording the success of a party, the death of
an Emperor, or a disturbance in the Forum. Notwithstanding his
fiery, rapid style, he is regular in his connection of thought,--
logical in his sequence of ideas, thereby he is always alluring
and attractive, while crisp, clear and comprehensible, he dazzles
and delights with his picturesque images and glittering beauties.
It is otherwise with the author of the Annals, whose style is
occasionally enveloped in such Cimmerian obscurities from
deficiencies of expression as to beset his work with a formidable
opaqueness--anything but Milton's "darkness visible". [Endnote 408]

Many specimens of this might be given, but as the mist is
impenetrable, we will turn to one where the light can be seen--the
story of the peasant of Termes, who assassinates a praetor, while
that officer is passing along a road unattended. The assassin,
being on the back of a fleet horse, gallops off to a wood,
entering which, after turning his horse loose, he baffles pursuit
by clambering over steep and stony parts into the pathless
wilderness, "where," continues the writer, "he did _not remain
long concealed_; FOR" (mark the sequence), "his horse having
been caught and shown through all the towns round, the people knew
whose it was, _and_ that led to his apprehension":--"pernicitate
equi profugus, postquam saltuosos locos adtigerat, dimisso equo,
per derupta et avia sequentis frustratus est, _neque diu fefellit_;
NAM prehenso ductoque per proximos pagos equo, eujus foret cognitum,
_et_ repertus" (An. IV. 45).

The context is not seen. A man who has committed a murder unseen
by anybody effects his escape from pursuit by getting into a wood.
Of what consequence was it whether his horse was known or not? for
how could that help his pursuer to catch him, if, like a maroon
negro, having run away safely into the impenetrable thicket, he
staid in the bush for the remainder of his days,--or as long as he
was not wanted for a breakfast by a hungry wild beast? The author
means us to understand, after the fugitive had baffled pursuit by
getting into the depth of the forest, that he lay hidden there for
a certain number of days, after which, deeming that all was safe,
he returned into the towns to his home: then should come the
words: "where he did not remain long concealed, for his horse
having been caught," &c.

This obscurity increases when the author of the Annals is in the
palace of Tiberius, or in the Senate amid the deliberations of the
Patres Conscripti. From his inadequate mode of speech he then
outstrips the comprehension of the reader; certainly he quite
baffles the intelligence of the very young, his meaning being
penetrable only by the keen sagacity of ripe age, for he enters
into the recesses of the heart, and reveals the secret workings of
the bad passions,--envy, hatred, malice and ambition.

As before, we cannot give one of his best gems, because those are
hidden in clouds of darkness, through which nobody can see, only
one of them that is shrouded in a light mist through which the eye
can dimly peer. So take the passage where Tiberius leaves it to
the Senate to choose whether Lepidus or Blaesus shall have the
government of Africa. Lepidus refuses in very unmistakable terms,
alleging as his reasons the bad state of his health, the tender
age of his children, and the marriageable condition of his
daughter: the writer then goes on: "another reason that Lepidus
had, he kept to himself, though it was understood, Blaesus being
the uncle of Sejanus, and that was a very powerful reason with
him." "Tum audita amborum verba, intentius excusante se Lepido,
cum valetudinem corporis, aetatem liberum, nubilem filiam
obtenderet: intelligereturque etiam, (quod silebat), avunculum
esse Sejani Blaesum, atque eo praevalidum." (An. III. 35). Of
course, that was the most powerful reason for Lepidus refusing the
honour, because he knew that if he stood in the way of the
promotion of the uncle, the nephew, in those corrupt times, would
seek a way of wreaking his vengeance upon him. That is easily
enough understood, and certainly did not require any further
explanation from the historian. But how about the next sentence?
"Blaesus in his reply to the Senate made, (but not in the same
resolute tone as Lepidus), a show of refusal, and by the assent of
the sycophants he was not supported"; and, without another
syllable, the author leaves the subject and passes on to another
matter. "Respondit Blaesus specie recusantis, sed neque eadem
adseveratione; et consensu adulantium haud jutus est." (ibid.) In
what was he not supported? And whom were the "sycophants," that is
the Senators, flattering? Blaesus? They had no cause to care
whether they pleased or displeased him. Tiberius? The Emperor was
perfectly indifferent as to which of the two men the Senate
selected. The author of the Annals, in order that his full meaning
may be brought out, wants the reader to supply, after the words "a
show of refusal," some such as the following:--"the Senators could
see from the sham of Blaesus that the promotion to the office
would be highly acceptable to him, and, as they knew it would
please Sejanus, they were desirous of doing what would gratify the
minister": then should come the words: "and by the assent of the
sycophants he was not supported," that is, in his refusal:
accordingly the writer leaves his reader to infer that the
Senators gave their universal approval to the appointment of
Blaesus as the Proconsul of Africa.

There is no such writing as this in any of the works of Tacitus,
who, though curt and concise, is always remarkable for concinnity
and clearness of expression as well as for perspicuity and
consecutiveness of idea. This can be instanced by any passage in
the "History": take this where Galba admonishes Piso whom he has
adopted to be careful of himself as the successor to the empire,
and beware of the perils to which he was exposed by his new

"You are at the age which shuns the passions of youth: your past
life has been such you have nothing to regret. You have endured
hardship up to this point: prosperity tries our dispositions with
sharper probes; because misfortune is borne, we are spoilt by a
brilliant position. With your determined character you will
preserve those most precious boons of the human soul, honourable
principles, an independent spirit and friendly feelings; but
others will undermine these by obsequiousness. Flattery,
--fawning,--that worst bane of virtuous inclinations,--will assail
you:--everybody seeks his own advancement. To-day you and I
converse together quite disinterestedly; others all selfishly pay
their court to our fortunes in preference to ourselves. Now to
counsel an Emperor what he ought to do is a task of much
difficulty: humouring the whims of this or that Emperor does not
cost the slightest trouble." "Ea aetas tua, quae cupiditates
adolescentiae jam effugerit: ea vita, in qua nihil praeteritum
excusandum habeas. Fortunam adhuc adversam tulisti: secundae res
acrioribus stimulis animos explorant, quia miseriae tolerantur,
felicitate corrumpimur. Fidem, libertatem, amicitiam, praecipua
humani animi bona, tu quidem eadem constantia retinebis: sed alii
per obsequium imminuent. Irrumpet adulatio,--blanditiae, pessimum
veri adfectus venenum,--sua cuique utilitas. Ego ac tu
simplicissime inter nos hodie loquimur; ceteri libentius cum
fortuna nostra, quam nobiscum. Nam suadere principi quod oporteat
multi laboris: adsentatio erga principem quemeunque sine adfectu
peragitur." (Hist. I. 15).

It will be seen from this literal version of his text, that,
notwithstanding his epigrammatic brevity, Tacitus writes with a
precision of thought that leaves nothing to be supplied. It may be
that the author of the Annals found it impossible to write thus:
at any rate he resorts to quite another kind of composition in
order to be on a level with his prototype by making his book hard
reading, for he gives his reader as much difficulty in following
him by leaving gaps in thought, as Tacitus gives his reader by
uncommon terseness. The difference of exertion to which the mind
is subjected in understanding the two is pretty much like the
difference of exerting the legs which a traveller experiences when
moving about a most mountainous region, between toiling painfully
up steep but smooth acclivities and taking violent leaps over a
succession of ravines.

III. The Rev. Thomas Hunter, in the opening portion of his work
entitled "Observations on Tacitus," (to which I have so often
referred, and to which I am so much indebted),--misled by giving
his assent, as a matter of necessity, to the universal belief that
Tacitus and Bracciolini were one,--errs in ascribing to them both
a perfect similarity in ambition of pomp and ornament to display
learning; Bracciolini bears little or no resemblance in this
respect to Tacitus, as may be seen by comparing, or rather
contrasting them in any one thing,--say in their digressions.
Whenever Tacitus digresses, it is always appropriately,--with
taste and judgment. What, for instance, can be more fitting than
that he should fall into a little digression about the Temple of
Venus in Cyprus, when Titus visits that island (Hist. II. 2 & 3),
because Titus had an amorous disposition? or, when he is about to
relate such an important event and turning point in the history of
the Jews as the destruction of Jerusalem, that he should recount
the whole origin of that most mysterious and romantic people
(Hist. V. 2)? or, when the Capitol was burnt, give a history of it
(ib. III. 71)? On these and other occasions, his digressions are
seemly, and afford satisfaction as appertaining closely to the

It is not so with the author of the Annals; he cannot speak about
a law, but straightway must tell his reader about laws in general,
as he does when speaking of the Lex Poppaea, of which had Tacitus
spoken, he would have merely mentioned its qualification, then
passed on; or, if digressing, confined his statement to the other
laws of a similar kind which had been enacted by his countrymen;
but the author of the Annals starts off to talk about laws of all
kinds that the whole world had witnessed from the Flood of
Deucalion to the time of which he is writing,--consequently he
talks about the legislation of Minos, Lycurgus and Solon, the
law-making of Numa and Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Martius and Servius
Tullius, down to what was done in that way by the Emperor Augustus
Caesar (III. 26); and when the cities of Asia contend for the
honour of building a temple, away he rambles into a discourse
about things in general, the wars of Perseus and Aristonicus; the
great antiquity of Troy, proclaimed to be the mother of Rome; the
love of home of the Lydians; the first names and settlements of
the Tyrrhenians; the Sardinians and Etrurians being of the same
descent; the divine origin of Tantalus and Theseus; and the
Amazons being the founders of some of the cities in Asia (IV. 55
and 56).

This, it must be admitted, is not in the style of Tacitus; it is,
however, exactly in the style of Bracciolini--in proof of which I
need only point to the historic details which abound in the
Dialogue on the Unhappiness of Princes;--the introduction of the
particulars into which he enters when drawing up a comparison for
a young friend of Ferrara between Julius Caesar and Scipio
Africanus, on the question submitted to him, "which was the
greater man" (Op. 357 seq.); and when in the Discourse on Nobility
he refers to the statues that adorned the garden of a villa, he
enters into remarks on the passion possessed by the ancient Romans
of ornamenting their homes with the images of their ancestors (Op.

IV. Bodinus, in his "Method to an Easy Knowledge of History,"
first published in 1566, seems to be very much struck at two
statements in the Fourth Book of the Annals; in the 33rd chapter
the words occur: "we link together cruel orders, continual
prosecutions, treacherous alliances, the destruction of the
innocent, and trials terminating in similar issues": in the
chapter preceding the writer says that he does not narrate "wars,
sieges of cities, routings of armies and struggles of politicians
and plebeians": Bodinus observes, Tacitus "carefully describes all
the wars that occurred in his time; they were conflicts in which
he was usually engaged or acted as commander, nor was there after
the battle of Actium a single historian who treated so copiously
of military and civil affairs":--"Libro quarto profitetur se 'nec
bella, nec urbium expugnationes, nec fusos exercitus, nec
certamina plebis et optimatium' narrare ... et paulo post: 'nos
saeva jussa, continuas accusationes, fallaces amicitias, perniciem
innocentium, et easdem exitu causas conjungimus', quanquam omnia
bella, quae illis temporibus contigerunt, et quibus fere interfuit
aut praefuit, studiose describit: nec post Actiacam victoriam
ullus est historicus qui militarem aut forensem rationem copiosius
tractavit" (Jo. Bodinus. Methodus ad facilem Historiarum
Cognitionem. p. 66. Geneva Ed. 1610).

Can anything be stronger than these simple words of the French
Doctor of Civil Law of the sixteenth century towards drawing
further the attention of the reader to the truth of the theory
maintained in this book? It is not possible that, though
Bracciolini thus, as we see, forgot himself for a moment as the
imitator of another, Tacitus could have made a slip of this kind.
He is always describing battles; he takes a special delight in
doing so; it is a species of description in which he particularly
excelled, even as it is a species of description in which
Bracciolini just as particularly showed weakness; Tacitus could do
nothing better, because, as Bodinus says, he was actually engaged
in the battles, or else acted in them as a commander. Nor is it
true of his History, as it is of the Annals, that it is one
perpetual tissue of prosecutions and trials that end in the
conviction of innocent persons, treacherous alliances and
tyrannical decrees; nor that it avoids all narration of the
contentions between the people and the nobles.

V. We seem to be looking at a picture of the middle ages or the
Renaissance and not of the first or second century of the
Christian aera, when we read the story of Caius Silanus, the
Proconsul of Asia, who, accused of malversation and peculation, is
first banished to the island of Gyarus, but when the Prince pleads
for him, and he is backed by the intercession of a Vestal Virgin
of sanctity,--corresponding to a Christian nun or abbess of
exemplary piety,--Silanus is removed to the more bearable place of
exile, the island of Cythaera (III. 66-9).

Just as we find in the first part of the Annals this picture
marking the mediaeval period, we find in the last part a sentiment
that strongly denotes the time of the Renaissance, because it is
morally wrong: with the greatest coolness Bracciolini states in
the eleventh book of the Annals that "employment of stratagem
against a deserter and violator of his oath reflects no dishonour
on the Roman character": "nec irritae aut degeneres insidiae fuere
adversus transfugam et violatorem fidei" (XI. 19): the sentiment
would never have proceeded from Tacitus nor any other high-minded
Roman of antiquity; but it is strictly in accord with the views
and feelings of the Renaissance, or fifteenth and beginning of the
sixteenth century: in reading the best writers of that period we
every now and then come across maxims which a strict morality
condemns: Machiavelli, who better reflects the spirit of his age
and Italy than anybody else, except the author of the Annals,
occasionally shocks us by such utterances in his Treatise on Livy,
as, "it is permissible to deceive for the good of the State,
provided that advantage be gained by it"; it is a proper thing "to
violate one's word for the good of one's country"; "cruelty which
tends to a beneficial end is not blamable and that which profits
is praiseworthy"; or in his work entitled "The Prince",--"it is
quite enough for a Prince to be virtuous in show, and not in
fact"; he should "dissemble to reign well," and "the justice of
war is in its utility."

VI. Bracciolini, who was inventing history as well as forging a
production, did not deem it necessary to be actuated at all times
in his representations by the love of truth: in putting forth
supposititious matters as matters of fact, he advanced his own
opinions and conjectures as the conjectures and opinions of the
persons who figured in his narrative: to give an example:
--"Tiberius and Augusta abstained from appearing in public" on
the day when the remains of Germanicus were borne to the tomb of
Augustus: that may be history; but we are certain that it is not
history when we are told what their supposition was about going
abroad: "I do not know," says the writer, "whether they supposed
that a public expression of sorrow on their part would be
derogatory to their imperial dignity, but I rather suspect it was
fear that their hypocrisy would be detected when their looks were
scrutinised by the eyes of all": "Tiberius atque Augusta publico
abstinuere; inferius majestate sua rati, si palam lamentarentur,
an ne, omnium oculis vultum eorum scrutantibus, falsi
intelligerentur" (Ann. III. 4).

We have another proof here that the whole Annals proceeded from
the same hand; this sort of thing goes on as well in the last, as
in the first part of that work; in the fourteenth chapter (10),
the writer undertakes to describe the state of Nero's punishment
after (what may or may not be history) the murder of his mother:
we are told, as if Bracciolini possessed the magic of peering into
the inmost recesses of the soul, that it was only "at length after
Nero had completed the monstrous deed that he became conscious of
its enormity": "perfecto demum scelere magnitudo ejus intellecta
est". We then follow the Emperor into the privacy of his locked
chamber; in the dead of night, we see what he does, when he is
hidden from the eyes of all: everybody can pretty well guess (but
only guess not positively know) how it fared with him; an evil
conscience like a hidden torture wracks the criminal as the
vulture fed on the liver of the rock-tied Titan;--the Furies come,
causing the guilty to pass sleepless nights, for the Furies are
the Demons sent to torture the impious: accordingly Bracciolini
thus continues the description:--"during the remainder of the
night, he would at one time remain in silence with his eyes fixed
immovably, very often springing up out of terror, and with a
distracted soul watch for the dawn of day, as if it were to bring
death to him":--"reliquo noctis, modo, per silentium defixus
soepius pavore exurgens et mentis inops lucem opperiebatur,
tanquam exitium allaturam" (L. c.).

Though we all know that investigations of this kind must
necessarily be attended with uncertainty, yet in watching
Bracciolini's bold proceedings in unfolding the mazes of the human
heart by the passions of famous men, we assent readily to his
delineations, because the feelings he represents, if not true,
seem to be true on account of their being natural and obvious.

This kind of guesswork, nowhere to be found in the pages of
Tacitus, has been considered in these days a great improvement in
historical composition,--by none more so than by Lord Macaulay,
who made Bracciolini, (supposing him to be Tacitus), the object of
his adoration. Modern historians reject what Thucydides, Xenophon,
Herodotus, Livy, Sallust, Tacitus, and other ancient writers of
history, Greek and Roman, did,--ascribing probable words and
phrases to eminent persons on grand occasions, as violations of
truth and daring assumptions;--nevertheless, they imitate the
practice set by Bracciolini of knowing the motives that influenced
illustrious characters.

The cause of a memorable matter of fact,--Luther casting off his
allegiance to the Pope,--remains hidden in impenetrable mystery:
notwithstanding that, Protestant historians as confidently
maintain it was the love of truth, as Catholic biographers boldly
assert it was the passion of resentment.

We have the same rash conjectures as to James the Second: after he
abdicated the throne of England, he lived to the end of his days
in quietness and seclusion, never making an attempt to regain the
goodwill of his people, nor breathing a wish for a reconciliation:
though that monarch kept his feelings to himself, Lord Macaulay in
his History of England (IV. 380), with a comprehensiveness of
discernment that is amazing, writes thus: "_in his view_," that is,
King James's, "there could be between him and his subjects no
reciprocity of obligation. Their duty was to risk property, liberty,
life, in order to replace him on the throne, and then to bear
patiently whatever he chose to inflict upon them. They could no more
pretend to merit before him than before God. When they had done all
they were still unprofitable servants. The highest praise due to
the Royalist who shed his blood on the field of battle or on the
scaffold for hereditary monarchy was simply that he was not a
traitor." When such intimate acquaintance is shown with the senti-
ments of the fallen king, one wonders who knew better his intentions
and inclinations, Lord Macaulay, his historian, or Peters, his father
confessor. In writing thus Lord Macaulay merely imitated the example
set by Bracciolini, who, on almost every occasion, pretends to know
motives, detect inclinations, explore the causes of events as well
as look into the soul, reveal the passions and determine the judgments
of powerful men. It is very pretty, but it is not history; and any
one who considers how beyond his power it is to ascertain the
principles which regulate his own conduct or the behaviour of those
with whom he is in familiar and daily intercourse,--whose peculiar
habit, too, he knows well,--must see that the task is not only
difficult, but superhuman,--comprised in one plain and simple word

VII. A thousand authors may be read, and in vain contradictions
looked for in any of them. When, therefore, a writer is found
contradicting himself, it is a peculiarity to be noted as
uncommonly striking; one contradiction being found, several may be
looked for. Bracciolini is one of these writers; his
contradictions, too, are most remarkable: they are to be found
just as well in his acknowledged productions as in both parts of
the Annals. Many instances might be given; the following may

In the fourth book of the Annals, Tiberius is represented so full
of hatred that a man who had been for a long time in exile does
not escape his memory, as occurs with Serenus--"non occultante
Tiberio vetus odium adversus exulem Serenum" (IV. 29). In the
sixth book, however, Tiberius, though still actuated by hatred, is
so forgetful that Rubrius Fabatus remains unharmed through
oblivion:--"mansit tamen incolumis oblivione magis quam elementia"
(VI. 14). What then is the characteristic of Tiberius?
Forgetfulness or remembrance in his hatreds?

So in his acknowledged works, Bracciolini speaks in one of his
letters, as we have seen, of not having such a very high opinion
of the Papacy as the world believed: "Ego minus existimo
Pontificatum quam credunt" (Ep. I. 17). But in another of his
works, "De Infelicitate Principum," (Op. p. 392), he expresses his
belief that "all Princes were in the enjoyment of a large amount
of happiness, more particularly the Pope, who was considered the
greatest of men, and yet gained his position without any anxiety
or any labour, any pains or any peril." "Nam cum omnes principes
magna existimem felicitate frui, tum vero maxime Pontifices, cum
nulla cura, nullo labore, nulla opera, nullo periculo eum statum
adipiscuntur, qui habetur maximus apud mortales." What are we then
to suppose? that Bracciolini had formed a very lofty, or a very
indifferent estimate of the Papacy?

In both parts of the Annals, he displays the same spirit of
contradiction; first he praises, then condemns the same things; in
the last part he defends Popular Revels (XIV. 20) and objects to
them immediately afterwards (ibid); so in the first part he lauds
luxury in the second book (33) and censures it in the third (53).

We find the same contradiction with respect to Augustus and
deification; in the first book of the Annals we are told that if a
man has temples reared to him and is worshipped in the likeness of
a god, he commits a grievous wrong, because he deprives divine
beings of all their honours: this it is stated was done by
Augustus:--"Nihil Deorum honoribus relictum cum se templis et
effigie numinum coli vellet" (An. I. 10). After this we should be
mightily surprised, did we not know of the humour of the writer
with whom we are dealing, to find it asserted in the fourth book,
when the people of Lusitania and Boetica (now Portugal, Andalusia
and Granada), offer to erect a temple to Tiberius, and he refuses
(IV. 37, 38), that that Emperor "showed degeneracy of spirit,
because men of the highest virtue have ever sought the greatest
honours: thus Hercules and Bacchus were added to the number of the
Gods among the Greeks, and Romulus among the Romans: accordingly
that Augustus who hoped for deification chose the nobler part, for
when we scorn fame we scorn the virtues:--"quidam, ut degeneris
animi, interpretabantur: optumos quippe mortalium altissima
cupere. Sic Herculem et Liberum apud Graecos; Quirinum apud nos,
deum numero, additos. Melius Augustum, qui speraverit ... contemtu
famae, contemni virtutes" (IV. 38).

VIII. A few words, in conclusion, may be said about the oldest
manuscript containing the first six, and, consequently, all the
books of the Annals. This, which, it has been stated, is the First
Florence MS., I take to be the identical one that came out of the
Abbey of Corvey through the hands of Arcimboldi, because, like its
mendacious brother, the Second Florence, it bears upon it the
unmistakable stamp of an impudent forgery. Just as the Second
Florence pretends to be of the fourth century, if not earlier,
from having the attestation of Salustius the Philosopher, so the
First Florence professes to be as old as, at the very least, the
twelfth century, from being written in characters, which,
Taurellus says (Praef. ad Pand. Floren.), are the same as those in
the Florentine MS. of the Pandects of Justinian. Now, the
Florentine Pandects, which were found at Amalfi, were plundered
from that town and taken to Pisa in 1137 by Lotharius Saxe after
his successful war with Pope Innocent II., though the two costly
volumes were not first deposited in the Grand Duke's Library at
Florence until 1406.

Danesius, Bishop of Lavaur (in Languedoc), also bears testimony to
the great antiquity of the First Florence MS. But this was
nineteen years after the first publication of all the Annals in
Rome, it being in 1534 that Danesius, examining it with other
ancient works, pronounced upon its very old age.

Ernesti, in his preface to the works of Tacitus, quotes a passage
from a letter of Graevius to his friend Heinsius where the great
Hellenist is of opinion that the MS. bore the marks of being
copied from a supposititious and half learned original; "exemplar,
unde illud fluxit, mendosum et ab semidocto interpolatum"
(Tom. IV. Coll. Burm. p. 496). But suppose that the manuscript is
no copy, but, as I maintain, an original, then the opinion of
Graevius becomes extremely valuable in this inquiry, because it
actually corroborates what I have said about the manuscript,--that
it was transcribed by an ignorant monk, and that it is an
audacious forgery.

We have, then, no evidence whatsoever that can be relied upon of
the great antiquity of this manuscript: on the contrary what we do
know about it as a fact is utterly subversive of such an
assumption: this copy in the Mediceo-Laurentian Library in
Florence of all the Annals of Tacitus cannot be traced further
back than to the possession of a man who flourished in the days of
Leo X. and the Emperor Maximilian I.,--Johannes Jocundus of
Verona; so that it turns out, on careful investigation that all
positive knowledge of this MS. stops at the commencement of the
sixteenth century, exactly as all positive knowledge of the other
Florentine MS. stops at the commencement of the fifteenth century.

IX. I have now done; and think that I have said quite enough for
the spuriousness of the Annals never to be hereafter argued as a
moot point, but accepted as an established fact. I need not go
into further consideration; because further consideration cannot
give more weight to what has been put forward. I, therefore,
pause, assured that with only these few facts and observations
placed before him, the reader has come to the same conclusion as
myself, that, strange as it may be, yet, nevertheless, there is
truth in the theory now started for the first time, I dare say, to
the amazement of the reader, as to the amazement of everybody,
that Tacitus is, and has been, for century after century, wrongly
accredited with the authorship of the Annals. It is to dispel all
cavil about this, that I have examined the History and the Annals
from every imaginable point of view, so as to enable the reader to
see the two works as clearly as they can be seen--not that the
reader has seen them as clearly as objects are seen under the open
sky by the blaze of the noontide sun; still I hope that he has
seen them, as objects in broad day are seen,--where there must he
some shadows in corners,--in a room, when all the blinds are drawn
up and all the windows are thrown open.

T H E  E N D.


[Endnote 013] Here we find the most learned Father of the Church
using "volumen" in an unusual acceptation, not as a whole work,
nor a part of a literary composition rolled into a scroll among
the ancients, or separately bound among ourselves, but a division
of a subject in the same "volume," just as Cornelius Nepos, once,
and once only,--in his Life of Atticus (16),--speaks of the
sixteen "books" of Letters which Cicero addressed to Atticus:
"Sexdecim _volumina_ Epistolarum ... ad Atticum missarum";
yet three or four "books" must have formed a "volumen," when we
find Ovid, in his "Tristia" (III. 14, 19) speaking of the "five
volumes" that contained his Metamorphoses:--

    "Sunt quoque mutatae per quinque volumina formae;"

as the Metamorphoses were divided into fifteen books, three then
formed a "volumen."--I cannot avoid calling attention to the
curiously incorrect phrase, "voluminibus exaravit." An ancient,
speaking of the "volumen," or scroll, would have used "scribere,"
--"exarare," possibly, when speaking of the "codicillus," or little
wooden table made of wax, which he sent as a note or billet-doux
to a friend or sweetheart, the figurative verb being applicable to
the stylus "ploughing" letters "out" of the wax. The passage, from
this blunder alone, seems to be an interpolation, where the forger
ridiculously overshoots his mark: he out-Jeromes Jerome; for he
makes the saint write bad Latin from a motive that never led
St. Jerome astray,--a desire to be poetic. It is strange, too, for
the passage to have come from the most learned of the Latin fathers
with the loose expression, "post Augustum," to denote a history
that began with Galba; and when Tacitus, who confined his
attention to affairs of state (to the utter disregard of
biographical details of the emperors), is spoken of as writing
"Vitas Caesarum." However, the man who made the interpolation knew
all that he wanted to accomplish, and would have been eminently
successful in his crafty and knavish design, had he only known
Latin well enough to have made St. Jerome write it as a bishop
would have written it in the fourth century.

[Endnote 019] Nevertheless, Tacitus is uncommonly provoking to
believers,--in his version, for example, of what is solemnly
recorded in the xviith chapter of Exodus and the xxth of Numbers
about the Israelites, when, in their wanderings, they murmured for
want of water, and the Lord instructed Moses to "take the rod with
which he smote" the waters of the Red Sea: the sacred penman
proceeds: "And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he
commanded him: And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation
together before the rock, and he said unto them, 'Hear now, ye
rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?' And Moses
lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and
the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank and
their beasts also." (Numbers xx. 9-11). This incident, opposed to
the laws of nature, Tacitus shews happened according to the
constituted course of things, and makes the miracle ridiculous by
introducing asses as the principal performers: he has been
speaking of the Jews, ignorant of all the parts through which they
were to pass, setting forth on a journey for which they had made
no provision; "but nothing distressed them so much," he continues,
"as want of water; and they were lying all over the plains, not
far from the point of death, when a herd of wild asses quitted the
pasture for a rock overgrown with copse and brushwood: Moses
followed, and found, as he had conjectured from the spot being
covered with verdure, abundant springs of water." "Omnium ignari,
fortuitum iter incipiunt: sed nihil aeque quam inopia aquae
fatigabat: jamque haud procul exitio, totis campis procubuerant,
cum grex asinorum agrestium e pastu in rupem nemore opacam
concessit: secutus Moses, conjectura herbidi soli, largas aquarum
venas aperit." (Hist. v. 3). Tacitus is infinitely more offensive,
and, certainly, most untruthful, when he says that the Jews "kept
for worship in their holy of holies the image of an ass, as the
animal by whose guidance they had slaked their thirst and brought
their wanderings to a happy sequel": "effigiem animalis, quo
monstrante errorem sitimque depulerant, penetrali sacravere."
(Hist. v. 4)

[Endnote 074] This, I take it, is what the author of the Annals
means. "Tibicen" was, of course, not a violin, but species of pipe
among the ancients; the Egyptians were not famous for their
performances upon this instrument, if they were acquainted with
the "tibicen" at all. The question then arises,--Was the author of
the Annals cognizant of the existence of such people as "Gipsies"?
The last part of the Annals (where, it will be seen, this passage
occurs,) was forged after the first quarter of the fifteenth
century; was this nomad horde in Europe at that time? If there be
one established fact it is that the "Gipsies" (then called
"Aegyptiani") came into Europe at the commencement of the
fifteenth century in the reign of the Emperor Sigismund. Martin
Zeiller in his "Topographia Hassiae" says they were first caught
sight of in Hesse in 1414, which is four years earlier than all
historians fix the date of their advent into Germany, from
following Jacob Thomasius, who makes that statement in the 16th
and 17th sections of his "Disputatio de Cingaris." Two years after
their arrival in Germany, (that is 1416, according to Zeiller, but
1420, according to Thomasius and the historians,) this curious
people, separating into several bands, found their way into Italy.
Here they may have attracted the attention of the author of the
Annals, as well as in his frequent visits to Germany and the
principality of Hesse. In fact, they attracted universal attention
by their sporadic habitations, their nomadic lives, their
wandering and dwelling, like the Thespians of old, in waggons,
their shabby and ragged clothes, yet the heaps of gold and silver
they had with them, their trains of horses, mules and asses, their
love of music (to this day they are great experts with the
violin), their favourite practice of fortune-telling, magic,
palmistry, and those arts of sorcery, of which we hear so much in
the Annals, the author of which must have been further impressed
with their giving out that, though heathens coming from Lower
Egypt, they wanted to embrace the Christian faith. This vagabond
people had at their head a "king," whom the chroniclers style a
"noble Count,"--as Martin Cursius in his Annals of Swabia (sub
A.D. 1453): "obiit nobilis Comes Petrus de Minori Egypto, in die
Philippi et Jacobi Apostolorum." "Peter" was preceded on the gipsy
throne by "Panuel," who, styled also "nobilis Comes" by the
chroniclers, died in 1445, his immediate predecessor being
"Michael," under whom the immigration into Europe was effected of
these "Egyptian" wanderers numbering 14,000 men, women and

[Endnote 081] I am indebted for nearly the whole of this to
Niebuhr's Essay in the "Rheinisches Museum" on "The Difference
between Annals and History." But in saying that Aulus Gellius
attempting to solve the same problem showed "more learning than
thought," Niebuhr did not know how easy it was to retaliate upon
him by saying that in his own investigation he exhibited "more
thought than learning" from supposing that a writer in the time of
Marcus Antoninus might have had his inquiry suggested to him by
Tacitus's "History" and "Annals," when, down to the fifteenth
century, as we have shown, one common title, "Imperial History"
("Augusta Historia,") covered the historical productions of
Tacitus, now known as "Annales" and "Historiae."

[Endnote 083] No overstatement but a fact. There are only 14
paragraphs in the Life and 8 letters, namely:--1. A letter from
the Emperor Verus to Marcus Aurelius (§ 1); 2. Marcus Aurelius's
Reply (§ 2); 3. A letter from Marcus Aurelius to his prefect (§ 5);
4. The prefect's reply (ibid); 5. A letter from Marcus Aurelius
to Faustina (§ 9); 6. From Faustina to Marcus Aurelius (§ 10);
7. Marcus Aurelius's Answer (§ 11); and 8. A letter from
Avidius Cassius to his son-in-law (§ 14); which ends the Life and
enables the biographer to observe that "that letter showed what a
stern and cruel emperor Avidius Cassius must have been": "haec
epistola ejus indicat, quam severus et quam tristis futurus fuerit

[Endnote 136] The name of Emmanuel Chrysolaras must ever be
associated with the revival of the Greek language in Western
Europe after the study of it had been discontinued since the close
of the eighth century, or for six hundred years. One of the
earliest pupils of Chrysolaras, Leonardi Bruni, speaks of him in
terms of warm admiration in his interesting "Memoirs of
Occurrences in Italy during his Time" ("Rerum suo Tempore in
Italia Gestarum Commentarius"). Bruni says that Chrysolaras was
"the only and sole Professor of Greek, and that if he had been
lost sight of, there was no one afterwards who could have taught
that tongue": "hic autem unus solusque Literarum Graecarum Doctor,
si e conspectu se auferet, a quo postmodum ediscas, nemo
reperietur" (Muratori XIX. 920). Chrysolaras was a native of
Constantinople, and member of a noble family; the way in which his
country was assailed by Bayazid, Sultan of the Turks, and
threatened by Tamerlane, Sultan of Samarcand, caused him to leave
home, assured, as he was, of the certain downfall of the Byzantine
Empire; first he went to Venice, which he reached by sea; while he
was there teaching the Greek language his reputation spread to
Florence, the inhabitants of which, making him the offer of a
public salary, pressed him to come to their city, to teach their
young men, numbers of whom were desirous of making themselves
masters of his native tongue. It was in the year 1399 when
Chrysolaras, thus settling in Florence, revived the study of the
Greek language, and thereby gave a new and wonderful impulse to
literature, first throughout Italy, and then Spain, Portugal,
France, and the other countries of Europe.

[Endnote 145] The letter, from which this extract is made, will be
found in Bracciolini's works (Pog. Op. pp. 301-5), as well as in
the collection of his Epistles, (of which we have the first volume
only,) by the Chevalier de' Tonelli (pp. 11-20);--should the
reader be fond of literary curiosities he will also find it
reproduced, as if it were his own composition, by Reduxis de Quero
in his "Chronicle of Trevigo,"--"Chronicon Tarvisinum,"--
preserved in Muratori's Rerum Italicarum Scriptores (tom. XIX.
829-33). As Bracciolini wrote to his friend Leonardo Bruni,
Reduxis de Quero, not venturing to alter a word of what he
pilfered, for fear of spoiling his pillage, takes his reader into
his confidence and affectionately addresses him in the second
person, while pretending, to have the exclusive information and
personal recollections of Bracciolini, who, present at the Council
of Constance, as a member of the court of John XXIII., witnessed
the whole of the trial, defence and death of Jerome of Prague.
Muratori, in exposing the plagiarism, is surprised at the
impudence of Reduxis stating that, at the time he wrote the
account, he was enjoying some leisure moments as Castellan of the
"great Castle of Brescia":--"nihil enim agens, _dum custodiae
vacarem Castri magni Brixiae_, aliquid agere," &c. The
narrative of Bracciolini, light and airy, yet withal touching and
graphic, has a wonderful effect in the "Chronicon Tarvisinum":
it's not unlike sunlight breaking in and brightly shining between
banks of fog. It was, therefore, necessary that a cause should be
given for this supreme gleaming amid the general mists of the dull
and heavy Chronicle of de Quero; Muratori, accordingly, very
properly dispels the wonder of the reader by informing him that he
is "here listening to Poggio writing, and in a style," he adds,
"which Reduxis was about the last man to imitate":--"itaque heic
audis Poggium scribentem, et quidem stylo, quem aequare Redusius
minime gentium poterat."

[Endnote 208] Father Hardouin, however, is outrageously extravagant.
He will admit that only two Greek authors and four Latin ones
--Cicero, Pliny the Elder, (a big part of) Horace (the Satires
and Epistles), and (a little bit of) Virgil (the Georgics),
have come down to us, along with the sacred writings of the
Old and New Testaments. Nothing else is genuine that we have
from antiquity,--not even the coins,--certainly, not the
productions of the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Church, nor the
Ecumenical Councils down to that held at Trent, and to cap the
climax of these appalling paradoxes, the parables and prophecies
of the Saviour and the Apostles first appeared in Latin. More
wondrous still! This wholesale fabrication all occurred in the
13th century, and the forgers were exclusively Benedictine monks.
Had the great Jesuit confined his playful erudition to profane
people all would have been well with him; but as he trenched upon
holy ground in the skittishness of his scepticism the
ecclesiastical authorities set over him were bound to interfere:
his superiors severely reprimanded him, his promotion in the
Church was for ever after stopped, and the supreme French law
court,--the Parlement de Paris,--suppressed the book containing
the novel raciness:--"Chronologiae ex Nummis Antiquis Restitutae
Prolusio de Nummis Herodiadum":--but wedded to his opinions, and
stubborn in the maintenance of them, Hardouin reproduced the least
reprehensible in his "Ad Censuram Scriptorum Veterum Prologomena."
From the manner in which he has been replied to by scholars all
over Europe, especially in Holland, France and Germany,
conspicuous among whom for pith of argument stand Basnage,
Leclerc, Lacroze, Ittig and Bierling, nobody at the present day
considers that what he said about the monuments of antiquity is
worthy of the slightest attention, though everybody acknowledges
his wonderful memory, sagacity, ingenuity, and mastery of all
kinds of literature, especially history and chronology, and, above
all, theology, of which he was a professor.

[Endnote 231] This I borrow from the Rev. Thomas Hunter, Vicar of
Wrexham in the middle of the last century, and author of a book on
Tacitus, from which I take the idea in the text. Hunter meant his
work to be at once a philological and historical disquisition and
a psychological and ethical analysis: he wrote it evidently from
being thoroughly disgusted by what he had read in the Annals--(as
well he might be);--and he laboured hard but in vain to show that
the same faults which he found in that work he detected also in
the History. His dissertation ends with a parallel between Livy
and Tacitus, drawn expressly to disparage the latter, when every
judicious, unbiassed reader who will form his opinion of Tacitus
solely from the narrative, maxims, and sentiments met with in his
History, must freely admit that he stands on a par with (to the
thinking of many, above) Livy as an historian, a moralist and a
man, all of which is denied by the ingenious Denbighshire
clergyman. By a sort of intuitive knowledge,--or that mental
process, known as the evolution of inner consciousness,--the world
has long arrived at the conclusion that the Vicar of Wrexham's
production is not valuable as a literary venture that aims at
imparting truth: accordingly, his small 8vo. of 1752 labelled
"Observations on Tacitus" shares the fate of the vast majority of
modern volumes--it rests in peace buried in dust upon bookshelves.

[Endnote 251] I know that Hallam says in one of his great books
("Literature of Europe") that nobody now living believes in the
authenticity of the Rowley Poems: but poetry was not the forte of
Henry Hallam. I am also aware that, towards the close of the last
century, a long and heated controversy raged for years among
literary men, who may be divided into two distinct classes,--
Believers in the Natural,--as Mr. Jacob Bryant, Dr. Jeremiah
Milles, the Dean of Exeter, Dr. Langhorne, and Dr. Glynne,--and
Believers in the Cock Lane Ghost and the Supernatural as
Dr. Johnson, and the Mysterious and Impossible, as Lord Camden and
Horace Walpole; and that the world has denied its assent to the
theory of the first set who maintained that the poems were
Rowley's, agreeing with the other set that they were Chatterton's,
who, in consequence of his tender years and ignorance, was placed,
for inspiration and intuitive knowledge, on a higher pedestal than
Jeremiah. The position of the controversialists which has been
accepted amounts to this:--that a child at the age of twelve years
wrote the pastoral "Elinoure and Juga," which is marked by finer
pathos than anything that proceeded from the passionate soul of
Burns: that when a few months or so older this child wrote
"Aella," which displays an energy equal, if not superior to
Spencer's, and about the same time the "Tournament," which
breathes the spirit of the middle ages more intensely than the
Ivanhoe of Sir Walter Scott. Marvellous as all this is, it is
found to be nearly a trifle by the side of this:--that the infant
prodigy, when a lad in his eighteenth year, composed poetry that
is not in accord with an improved information, but is a very
deteriorated sort of stuff,--a reproduction of old fancies, too,
in no new form,--as, to test it anywhere,--I take at random the
opening lines of the "Invitation," as good as anything in "Kew
Gardens," "Sly Dick," "Fanny of the Hill," or any other piece
composed by Chatterton towards the close of his life:

    "O God! whose thunder shakes the sky,
    Whose eye this atom globe surveys,
    To thee, my only rock, I fly,
    Thy mercy in thy justice praise.

    The mystic mazes of thy will,
    The shadows of celestial," &c.:

as good as Tate and Brady, to be sure,--but verses so common-place
in ideas and so prosaic in expression--that any youth in the sixth
form at Eton or Winchester College would be ashamed to produce
them as a school exercise. Everything that is marvellous has its
history as well as everything that is comprehensible; and the
story of the poems is as follows:--A bridge at Bristol was
completed in 1768; thereupon a ballad of a friar crossing a
Bristol bridge in the reign of Edward IV. was inserted in a local
journal as appropriate to the occasion: it was so sweet in its
simplicity and rich in poetry while so much judgment tempered the
composition and such correctness was shown in every archaeological
detail that it struck with amazement all persons of literary taste
who read it: the author being inquired after was found to be an
attorney's snub-nosed apprentice who copied precedents: the
inquirer, becoming the victim of a thousand-fold multiplied
admiration and wonder, was astounded that such a queer boy turned
out to be the author of such a fine ballad! The world marvelled
too, but became, and remains to this day, a believer that
Chatterton composed all the fragments which he himself, in the
first instance, truly and honestly ascribed to Rowley and other
poets, who flourished in different centuries; the consequence of
which is that their poems form a very curious and interesting
medley of various archaic words belonging to several mediaeval
periods. From the poems ascribed to Lydgate (wrongly written by
Chatterton, Ladgate) not being printed elsewhere, we must infer
that those fragments of his, and, by induction, the fragments of
the other poets, were not multiplied in copies; consequently we
must conclude that they were all so highly prized by their
possessor in the fifteenth century, the rich Bristol merchant,
Canynge, the founder of St. Mary Redcliffe, that in his last will
he bequeathed the whole of these protographs, to be locked up in
strong iron coffers, and deposited for safety in the church he had
erected, believing, no doubt, and with much propriety, that if he
placed them in a sacred edifice their preservation would be
secured for the benefit of posterity. Unfortunately, if so, the
stupidity of the Town Clerk and the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol
in 1727 frustrated the intention of the enlightened merchant; for
when in that year those civic functionaries examined the papers in
the muniment room over the north porch of St. Mary Redcliffe for
the purpose of reserving only those that were valuable, they threw
away as worthless all but the title deeds relating to the church.
They thus secured an immortal fame for Chatterton by enabling him
(through the aid of his uncle, the sexton), to get at the contents
of the chests, select what parchments he pleased, and place before
the world poems which he candidly acknowledged were not his own,
but which he seems to have modernised, to have smoothed the verse
(his own common-place rhymes showing that he had an exquisite ear
for harmony; but nothing else); and here and there to have
interpolated (or supplied missing, erased, and undecypherable)
words, which spoilt lines, but could not spoil the poems as
masterpieces, from the classic form in which they are cast, their
power of thought, brilliance and vigour of imagination, happiness
of invention, and extraordinary depth of sensibility. One cannot
help recalling Dogberry's saying that "good looks come by Fortune
and learning by Nature" when contemplating the universal belief
that Chatterton wrote the poems of Rowley.

[Endnote 297] I cannot help thinking that some confusion may
arise in the mind of the reader from misunderstanding the
concluding expression of Bracciolini: literally he says:
"provision is made for me in the way of food and clothing with
which I am satisfied, for out of _this_ very great costliness
of the means of living even the king does not get more": from such
language one is almost induced to think that, in common with the
sovereign, he had the use of the royal kitchen and the royal
wardrobe; in other words, that he was living in the royal palace,
and faring just as the king himself; but this was not the case:
during his stay in England, he resided with Cardinal Beaufort in
the London Palace of the Prince Prelate: he means that in eatables
and raiment he was as well off as the king: he is alluding to the
circumstance that, notwithstanding his means and position, he was
not bound down to the style of apparel and meals as regulated by
the law, which, for more than half a century, (since the days of
Edward III.,) had prohibited all who were not possessed of more
than £100 a year (as was the case with himself) from using gold
and silver in their dress, and had limited their grandest
entertainment to one soup and two dishes.

[Endnote 303] "To place the Moon in the Ram!" Well, the
expression certainly in its eccentricity is quite equal to the
phraseological excursion to the moon of Madame de Sévigné, who,
meaning to speak of attempting an impossibility, writes "lay hold
of the moon with the teeth"--prendre la lune avec les dents!"
Bracciolini, who, in his letters to Niccoli puts me in mind of
Dean Swift in his letters to Dr. Arbuthnot, (as far as using words
and inventing terms to bother and perplex his friend,) has here
fairly put his editors at a non plus from the first in Basle to
the last in Florence; he is up in a balloon--clean out of their
sight,--so they all print Aries in the accusative and with a small
a--"poneres lunam in arietem,"--which not at all understanding, I
have changed the phrase to what it is in the text. Bracciolini by
the Ram is referring neither to the male sheep nor the battering
instrument of war among the Romans, but the vernal sign: he had
evidently read Roger Bacon, and believed with the "Somersetshire
Magician," (as the Brother of the Minor Order was styled by his
contemporaries), that a man's neck is subject to the power of the
Bull, his arms to that of the Twins, and his head or brains to
that of the Ram: When "the Moon" then, "is in the Ram," a lunatic
is surely doubly mad, suffering, as he does, from the combined
influences of the Moon, (especially when full), and of the Ram,
--particularly at the beginning of April, the first day of which
is amusingly consecrated to fools, and has been so worshippingly
set apart in consequence of the belief that was entertained by the
Benedictine man of science respecting the Constellation of the
Zodiac that is the sign of April--"caput est de complexione
Arietis" (Rog. Bacon. Opus Majus. p. 240).

[Endnote 357] The way in which Bracciolini wrote Latin verse will
be seen in the following epitaph which he composed in honour of
his preceptor in the Greek language, Emanuel Chrysolarus:--

    Hic est Emanuel situs
    Sermonis decus Attici,
    Qui dum quaerere spem patriae
    Afflictae studeret, huc iit;
    Res belle cecidit tuis
    Votis Italia. Hic tibi
    Linguae restituit decus,
    Atticae ante reconditae.
    Res belle cecidit tuis
    Votis Emanuel. Solo
    Constitutus in Italo
    Aeternum decus, et tibi
    Quale Graecia non dedit
    Bello perdita Graecia.

The fact, then, is that,--putting aside false quantities,--he was
more eloquent and poetic when he was writing prose than when he
was writing poetry.

[Endnote 401] Don Pio Mutio in his "Meditations upon Tacitus"
forms a very different estimate of this description; he places the
account of this tempest which carried Germanicus into the ocean in
that part of his dissertation where he speaks of Tacitus as
"marvellous in description",--"nelle descrittioni maraviglioso",
--portraying things with such magnificent clearness that you can see
them as distinctly on his page as if you were looking at a picture
on canvas or cardboard done by an eminent artist;--"portando egli
le cose con tanta maestà e chiarezza, che quasi ce le fa vedere
nella sua scrittura, come farebbe eccellente pittore in una tela o
tavolo" (Considerationi sopra Cornelio Tacito. p. 481 Brescia Ed.
1623). Mutio's "Meditations" are no meditations on Cornelius
Tacitus but Poggio Bracciolini; for they are not meditations upon
all the historical productions that pass under the name of
Tacitus,--not even upon the whole of the Annals, but only the
first book of it; almost every passage of which,--certainly, every
sentiment is elucidated, or rather, expatiated upon with signal
originality and shrewdness of view, so as to have won the
admiration and praise in no fewer than five of his epigrams of
Benedetto Sossago, Mutio's fellow-countryman and contemporary,
well skilled in scholastic acquirements, philosophy and theology,
a doctor of the Ambrosian College at Milan, and a writer
distinguished principally for poems in Latin,--"Sylvae"; "Opuscula
Sacra"; two books of "Odes"; seven books of "Epigrams"; and
according to the Abbot Picinelli, in his "Atenco de i Letterati
Milanesi", Sossago would have added to these an epic about
Borromeo, had he not died in the midst of composing the
"Caroleis", which was to have made his name a "familiar household
word" to all posterity. The "Biographie Universelle", which Madame
Desplaces's editor of it, M. Charles Nodier, says, is "one of the
greatest and most useful conceptions of our age" ought, (because
it is so useful and great), to have contained a memoir of Mutio,
for he was a most accomplished politician: in addition to these
"Meditations on Tacitus" which are filled with political wisdom,
he wrote another treatise also on politics and also in Italian: he
was Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Casino, and went
on several important embassies to the French Court during the
reign of Louis XIII. His work on the First Book of the Annals,
--which is a commentary divided into 358 meditations or
considerations comprised in a quarto of over 600 closely printed
pages,--goes a long way in proving the truth of my theory, because
it is one of the half-dozen or so of substantive books, (and bulky
tomes, too), which were devoted exclusively to a consideration of
the Annals in less than a century after the whole of that work was
first placed before the world, showing its remarkable
attractiveness, and what great attention MUST have been paid to
it, had it been as old as it is generally supposed to be; but, (as
I have observed in the text, p. 16), there not having been a word
said about it from the second to the fifteenth century is all but
proof positive of its non-existence during those 1,300 years.

[Endnote 408: "What has rendered 'Tacitus' obscure", says the
Rev. Thomas Hunter in that book of his from which I have so
frequently quoted, "is the refinement of his sentiments; which,
like some minims in Nature, require uncommon sagacity and
artificial power to assist you in the knowledge of." I cannot
help thinking that these remarks are much more, if not solely
applicable to the author of the Annals, (consequently,
Bracciolini), than to Tacitus, as well as these further
observations on the difficulty of the Latin:--"Let a reader take
Livy in hand without translation or notes, if he is but a moderate
adept in the Latin tongue, he will find little difficulty in many
chapters together, except where some plodding editor brings in an
awkward word to confound common sense and spoil a beautiful
antithesis. If he is a proficient in the Roman language, he will
read a book from end to end, with little hesitation or doubt
concerning his meaning in any place: but a good classical scholar,
who sits down to Tacitus, disclaiming the assistance of commentary
or translation, will meet with difficulties in every book, and
frequently in every page". (Observations upon Tacitus. pp. 218-9.)
Archdeacon Browne, speaking of the style of "Tacitus," says (in
his "History of Roman Classical Literature," p. 487), "his brevity
... is the necessary condensation of a writer whose thoughts flow
more quickly than his tongue could express them. Hence his
sentences are suggestive of far more than they express: they are
enigmatical hints of deep and hidden meaning, which keep the mind
active and the attention alive, and delight the reader with the
pleasures of discovery and the consciousness of difficulties
overcome." "The thoughts flowing more quickly than the tongue"
(that is, the pen) "can express them," is an apt phrase, (without
the Archdeacon knowing how truthfully he was speaking), for the
embarrassment under which a fabricator labours when endeavouring,
not only to write like an ancient, but to assimilate his style to
that of another, which being quite different to his own, he is
conscious that, strive as he may, he will never come up to a close
resemblance to the original. The reader no doubt recalls
Bracciolini's own description of his task when he first set about
forging the Annals: "Beginnings of any kind are arduous and
difficult; as what the ancients did pleasantly, quickly and easily
to ME is _troublesome, tedious and burdensome_":--"In quibusvis
quoque rebus principia sunt ardua et difficilia; ut quod
antiquioribus in officio sit jucundum, promptum ac leve, MIHI sit
_molestum, tardum, onerosum_." (See pages 192 and 266 of this

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