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ed States, extending kindly tolerance or catholic sympathy to all, so he sought, in the history of the past and the facts of the present in the land of his love and adoption, evidences of her vital worth and auspicious destiny. Long residence abroad liberalized, and long study enriched, a mind singularly just in its appreciation, and a heart naturally kind and expansive. All his friends recognize in Adolphus Trollope that rare union of rectitude and reflection which constitutes the genuine philosopher. Mrs. Browning aptly called him Aristides. Thus living in the atmosphere of broad social instincts, and sharing the literary faculty and facility of his family, this Englishman in Italy set himself deliberately to study the country of his sojourn, in her records, local memorials, and social life, and, having so studied, to reproduce and illustrate the knowledge thus gleaned, with the fidelity of an annalist and the tact of a raconteur. It was a noble and pleasant task, and has been nobly and pleasantly fulfilled. Let us note its chief results, and honor the industry, truth, and humane wisdom manifest therein.
The range of Mr. Trollope's investigations may be appreciated by the fact that, while he is the author of " A History of Florence from the Earliest Independence of the Commune to the Fall of the Republic in 1531," he has also given to the press the most clear and reliable account of the revolution of our own day, under the title of "Tuscany in 1849"; tnus supplying the two chronicles of the past and the present which together reveal the origin, development, and character of the state and its people. In the Preface to the former work he suggests this vital connection between the ancient republic and the modern city. "It contains," he observes, "such an exposition of the old Guelph community as sufficiently demonstrates the fitness of this culmination of the grand old city's fortunes." It is this liberal and comprehensive tone, this "looking before and after," which, united to careful
research and patient narration, renders the author so well equipped and inspired for his task. He has brought together the essential social and political facts of the past, and, associating them with local traits and transitions, enabled us to realize the rise, progress, and alternations of the Italian state, as it is next to impossible for the Anglo-Saxon reader to do while exploring the partial, prejudiced, and complicated annals of the native historians. This is a needful, a timely, and a gracious service, for which every intelligent and sympathetic traveller who has learned to love the Tuscan capital, and grown bewildered over the complex story of her civil strifes, will feel grateful, while his obligations are renewed by the moderate but candid statement of those later movements, which, culminating in a childlike triumph, were followed by a reaction whose hopelessness was more apparent than real, and has subsequently proved an auspicious trial and training for the discipline and privileges of constitutional liberty.
The "History of Florence" is remarkable for the skilful method whereby the author has arranged, in luminous sequence, a long and confused series of political events. He has confined his narrative to the essential points of an intricate subject, omitting what is of mere casual or local interest, and aiming to elucidate the civic growth of the little city on the banks of the Arno. It is an admirable illustration of the conservative principles of free municipal institutions in the Middle Ages, notwithstanding their limited sway and frequent perversion. There is no attempt at rhetorical display, but great precision and authenticity of statement, and a conscientious citation of authorities; the style 'often lapses into colloquial freedom, not inappropriate to the familiar discussion of some of the curious details involved in the theme; and there are episodes of judicious and philosophical comment, with apt historical parallels, not a few of which come home to our recent national experience. The author's previous studies in Italian history, and intimate familiarity with the scene of his chronicle, give him a grasp and an insight which render his treatment at once thorough, sensible, and facile. But it is upon the more special subjects of Italian history that Mr. Trollope has expended his time and talents to the best advantage, — subjects chosen with singular judgment and imbued with fresh local and personal interest .
The scope and method of these historical studies are such as at once to embody and illustrate what is normally characteristic in time, place, and individual, while completeness of treatment is secured, and a person and period made suggestive of a comprehensive historical subject. Thus in "The Girlhood of Catharine de' Medici" we have the key to her mature and relentless bigotry, the logical origin of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, while, at the same time, the discipline of a convent and the intrigues of a ruling family in the Middle Ages are elaborately unfolded. Grouped around and associated with so remarkable an historical woman, they have a definite significance to the modern reader, otherwise unattainable; the Palazzo Medici, the Convents of St, Mark, Santa Lucia, and Murate, become scenes of personal interest; the Cardinal Clement and Alessandro, in their relation to the young Catharine, grow more real in their subtlety, family ambitions, and unscrupulous tyranny; and the surroundings, superstition, fanaticism, and domestic despotism which attended the forlorn girl until she became the wife of Henry of France, explain her subsequent career and execrated memory. Incidentally the life of medieval Tuscany is also revealed with authentic emphasis. In "Paul the Pope and Paul the Friar," all the singular circumstances whereby a priest of Rome became the instrument of striking the first effectual blow at her absolute spiritual dominion are narrated with precision and tact. The prolonged quarrel between the Vatican and the
Republic of Venice, the ecclesiastical and civic power, then opened the way to human freedom, and Sarpi is truly exhibited as the pioneer reformer. His liberal studies, foreign friends, and independent and intrepid mind rendered him admirably fitted for the task he undertook, and the Papal government only added infamy to despotism by the baffled attempt to assassinate him. It is difficult to imagine a better introduction to the subsequent history of free thought and spiritual emancipation, which culminated in the Reformation, than this biographical sketch, where a. great historical development is made clear and dramatic by the carefully told story of the lives of the two chief actors and agents therein.
There is a power in the state, unofficial, but essential, and therefore more intimately blended with its welfare and identified with its fortunes than pope, emperor, or prince, — and that is the Banker. Even in modern times the life of such a financier as Lafitte is part of the social and political history of France; but in mediaeval times. when "the sinews of war" and the wages of corruption so often turned the scale of ambition and success, the rich bankers of the Italian cities were among the most efficient of their social forces and fame. In writing the memoirs of Filippo Strozzi, Mr. Trollope struck the key-note of local associations in the Tuscan capital. The least observant or retrospective stranger is impressed with the sight of the massive walls and grated windows of the Strozzi Palace, and is attracted by such a monument of the past to the story of its founder. A standard drama and novel were long since made to illustrate those annals,* but it was reserved for an Englishman in Italy to record, in a well - digested and authentic narrative, the career of Filippo, whose immense wealth, marriage to a Medici, family ambition, scholarship, political and social distinction, enterprise, and luxury, and especially his financial relations with both rulers and ruled, make him one of those central figures of an historic group that serve as expositors of the time. He was indeed, by his accomplishments and his profligacy, his intrigues and associations, his alliances and enmities, his domestic and his political life, a representative man, whose character and career aptly embody and illustrate a most stirring era of European and Italian history. He escorted Catharine de' Medici on her bridal journey from Florence, talked philosophy at Medicean banquets, was closeted with popes and kings, was the boon companion of reigning dukes, a courtier to princes and people, a magnificent entertainer, a fugitive, exile, prisoner, sceptic, scholar, and suicide, — typifying in his life the luxury and lawlessness, the culture and the crime, the splendor and the degradation, the manners and morals, of his country and his age,— and hence a most instructive biographical study, which Mr. Trollope has treated with equal fulness, insight, and authenticity.
* Fili/,po Stroisi, Tragedia par G. B. Niccolini. LuUa- Strozzi, Romanzo par G. Rossini
But the most felicitous of the series is the "Decade of Italian Women." The idea of this work is worthy of a philosopher, and its execution, of a humane scholar. It has long been an accepted theory, that, to understand the talent and pervasive spirit of an age or country, we must look to the influence and character of the women. A subtile social atmosphere exhales from their presence and power in the state and the family; and the dominant elements of faith, as well as the tone of manners and the tendencies of character, find in the best endowed and most auspiciously situated of the sex, an embodiment and inspiration which are the most authentic, because the most instinctive, test and trait of the life of the time. Shakespeare has, with exquisite insight and memorable skill, illustrated this representative function of woman by creating types of female character which, while they modify and mould persons and events,
preserve intact their essential quality of sex, and yet represent none the less the spirit and manners of their respective epochs. Scott has done the same thing in an historical direction, that Shakespeare realized in a psychological way. We regard it, therefore, as a most judicious experiment to indicate the characteristics of mediaeval Italy by delineating her representative women. They inevitably lead us to the heart of things, — to the palace, the convent, the court, the vigil of battle, and the triumph of art, — to the loves of warrior, statesman, and priest, — to the inmost domestic shrine, — to the festival and the funeral; and all this we behold, not objectively, but through our vivid interest in a noble, persecuted, saintly, impassioned, or gifted woman, and thus partake, as it were, of the life of the age, realize its inspiration, recognize its meaning, in a manner and to a degree impossible to be derived from the formal narrative of events, without a central figure or a consecutive life which serves as a nucleus and a link, giving vital unity and personal significance to the whole.
The period of time embraced in these female biographies extends from the birth of St. Catherine of Siena, in 1347, to the death of the celebrated improwisatrice Corilla, in 1800. With the career of each is identified a salient phase of Italian history, manners, or character; incident to the experience of all are special localities, political and social conditions, relations of art, of faith, of culture, of rule, and of morals, whereby we obtain the most desirable glimpses of the actual life and latent tendencies of Italy, considered as the focus of European civilization. We gaze upon a woman's portrait, but beyond, beside, and around her arc the warriors, statesmen, prelates, poets, and people of her time. Through her triumphs and trials, her renown or degradation, her love, ambition, sorrows, virtues, or sins, we feel, as well as see, the vital facts of her age and country. Nor is this all: each character is not only full of interest in itself, bat is essentially typical and representative. Thus we have the fair saint of the Middle Ages, the energetic and sagacious ruler, the gracious reformer, the artist, the near kinswoman of prince or ecclesiastic, the poetess, the ch&telaine, the nun, the profligate, the powerful, the beautiful, and the base,—all the forms and forces of womanly influence as modified by the life of the time and country. They move before us a grand procession, now awakening admiration and now pity, here ravishing in beauty or genius and there forlorn in disaster or disgrace, yet always bearing with them the strong individuality and attractive expression which, to the imagination, so easily transforms the heroines of history into the ideals of the drama, or the characters of romance. And yet in these delineations the author has indulged in no rhetorical embellishments: he has arrived simply, and sometimes sternly, at the clear statement of facts, and left them to convey their legitimate impression to the reader's mind. The lives of many of these women have been written before, some of them elaborately; but they are here grouped and contrasted as illustrative of national life, and hence gain a fresh charm and suggestiveness, especially as the fruits of research and the method of a disciplined raconteur are blent with the light and life of personal observation as to scenes and memorials, — the land where they once dwelt, its natural aspect and ancient trophies, being fondly familiar to the biographer. Eloquent memoirs of female sovereigns have become popular through the genial labors of Agnes Strickland and Mrs. Jameson, while Shakespeare's women furnish a perpetual challenge to psychological critics; but the "Decade of Italian Women" has a certain unity of aim and relative interest which makes it, as a literary record, analogous to a complete, though limited, gallery of family portraits, inasmuch as, however diverse the characters, they own a common bond of race and nationality, and are
memorable exemplars thereof. First in the list is Catherine of Siena, the Saint, — an accurate mediaeval religious delineation which all who have visited the old city where her relics are preserved and her name reverenced will value. Then we have Catherine Sforza, — the fair representative of one of those powerful and princely families whose history is that of the state they rule. Next comes the noblest and most gifted woman of the Middle Ages, the friend of Michel Angelo, the ideal of a wife, and a lady of culture, genius, and patriotism, —Victoria Colonna. The Bishop of Palermo's illegitimate daughter — a famous poetess, Tullia d' Arragona — precedes the learned, pure, intrepid Protestant, Olimpia Morata, who takes us to the court of Ferrara in its palmy days, to show how " like a star that dwells apart" is a woman of rectitude and wisdom and faith amid the shallow, the sensual, and the bigoted. The renowned Paduan actress, Isabella Adrieni, gives us a striking illustration of the influence, traits, and triumphs of histrionic genius in Italy of old; while among the prone towers and gloomy arcades of Bologna we become intimate with the chaste and charming aspirations and skill of Elisabetta Sirani, whose pencil was the pride of the city, and whose character hallows her genius. Of La Corilla it is enough to say, that she was the original of Madame de Stael's "Corinne " ; and no woman could have been more wisely selected to represent the fascination, subtlety, force of purpose, ambition, resources, passion, and external success of an unprincipled patrician Italian beauty of the Middle Ages than Bianca Capello.
With such a basis of research it is easy to infer how authentic, as a picture of life, would be the superstructure of romantic fiction by an author adequately equipped. Accordingly, the Italian novels of Thomas Adolphus Trollope are most accurate and detailed reflections of local characteristics; they are full of special information; and, while they enlighten the novice as to the domestic economy, habits, ways of thinking, costume, and social traditions of the people, they revive, with singular freshness, to the mind of one who has sojourned in Italy, every particular of his experience, — not only the corso, the opera, and the carnival, but the meals, the phraseology, the household arrangements, — all that is most individual in a district, with all that is most general as nationally representative. Indeed, not a fact or trait of modern Tuscan life seems to have escaped the author's vigilant observation and patient record; the life of the effete noble, the frugal citizen, the shrewd broker, the pampered ecclesiastic, the peasant, and the artist is revealed with the most precise and graphic detail. We are taken to the promenade and the caffe, to the piazza and the church, to the farm-house and the palazzo; and there we see and hear the actual everyday intercourse of the people. The Tuscan character is drawn to the life, without exaggeration, and even in its more evanescent, as well as normal traits; its urbanity, gossip, thrift, geniality, self-indulgence, and latent courage are admirably delineated; its superior refinement, sobriety, love of show, and class peculiarities are truly given; the old feudal manners that linger in modern civilization are accounted for and illustrated, especially in the relation of dependants '•occupying every shade of gradation between a common servant and a bosom friend." The author's ecclesiastic portraits are as exact, according to our observation, as his brother's. Each class of Italian priests is portrayed with discrimination, and no writer has better exemplified the paralyzing and perverting influence of Romanism upon the integrity of domestic life, and the purity and power of political aspirations. The women, too, are typical,— remarkably free from fanciful embellishment, eloquent of race, instinct with nature. Their limited culture, social prejudices, artless charms, frugal lives, naive or reticent characters, as modified by town and country, patrician or popular influences, we recognize at VOL. XX.— NO. 120. 31
once as identical with what we have known in the households or social circles of Florence. Mr. Trollope, in all this, is a Flemish artist, and, as much of the interest of his pictures depends on their truthfulness, perhaps they are really appreciated only by those who have enjoyed adequate opportunities of becoming intimate with the original scenes, situations, and personages depicted. In the fidelity of his art he abstains from all attempts at brilliancy, and ignores the intense and highly dramatic, finding enough of wholesome interest in the real life around him, and well satisfied to reproduce it with candor and sympathy; now and then indulging in a philosophical suggestion or a judicious comment, and thus gradually, but securely, winning the grateful recognition of his reader.
"La Beata" as completely takes those familiar with its scene into the life and moral atmosphere of Florence, as does "The Vicar of Wakefield" into the rural life of England before the days of railways and cheap journalism. The streets, the dwellings, the people and incidents are so truly described, the perspective is so correct, and the foreground so elaborate, that, with the faithful local coloring and naive truth of the characters, we seem, as we read, to be lost in a retrospective dream, — the more so as there is an utter absence of the sensational and Historical in the style, which is that of direct and unpretending narrative. The heroine is a saintly model, though at the same time a thoroughly human girl, — such a one as the artistic, superstitious, frugal, and simple experience of her class and of the place could alone have fostered; the artist-hero is no less characteristic,— a selfish, clever, amiable, ambitious, and superficial Italian; while the old wax-candle manufacturer, with his domicile, daughter, and church relations, is a genuine Florentine of his kind. The life of the studio, then and there, is drawn from reality. The peculiar and traditional customs, social experience, church ceremonials, popular fetes, home and heart life, have a