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' endeavour to do so. Thirdly, he exhorted him to endure death, if need be, with steadfastness. Nothing is more

agreeable,” he replied, “if it be the will of God.” The 'friar was departing, when Lorenzo said to him, “ Give me

your blessing before you depart from me," and with bent • head he responded fully and in complete consciousness to the words and exhortations of the monk, undisturbed by the sorrow no longer repressed of his household.'

His end was peaceful. He continued, with mere habit and compliance, to follow the prescriptions of his physicians. His accustomed sleeplessness did not forsake him. Once when he had taken some nourishment and he was asked how he enjoyed it, he replied, · Like a dying man.' He embraced his relatives and attendants, and asked pardon of all whom he had offended or towards whom he had shown impatience during his long illness. He had the narrative of the passion and death of our Saviour read to him; at the beginning he repeated the words of Scripture, and then becoming weaker he moved his lips and at last only moved his fingers, as a sign that his intelligence still remained. When death arrived, a crucifix was held before him; he kissed it and departed.

The two great historians of Florence, Machiavelli and Guicciardini, have both analysed the character and the government of Lorenzo in some of their most striking pages.

The judgment of Guicciardini is somewhat more severe than that of Machiavelli, but both coincide in the opinion that Lorenzo was the greatest citizen which Florence had ever possessed, and that not only Florence but all Italy lamented his loss.

The city,' writes Guicciardini, was in complete peace, the ruling portion of the citizens united and firm, and the government in such a state of prosperity that no one dared to contradict it; the people every day were delighted with festivities, spectacles, and new pleasures ; the city was abundantly supplied with all kinds of good cheer ; its military strength in full flower and activity; men of talent and genius were proud of the city being the rendezvous and supporter of all literary, artistic, and other merit. Finally, while the city was thus in the greatest tranquillity and prosperity, and enjoyed without the greatest glory and reputation on account of possessing a government and a chief of the greatest authority, on account of its territory having been increased, on account of having been in great part the cause of the preservation of Ferrara and also of the King Fernando, on account, moreover, of the exclusive influence which it possessed with Innocent VIII., on account of its alliance with Naples and Milan, and of being, as it were, the balance of power of all Italy, a calamity took place which upset everything to the detriment not only of the city, but of the whole peninsula. And this was that in the year 1491 Lorenzo de' Medici, having long


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been in bad health with an illness which was esteemed at the commencement of little importance by his physicians, and which, not being treated as seriously as it should have been, increased secretly in violence, at last departed from this present life.'

Guicciardini gave credence to the report that the fatal illness of Lorenzo was brought on by the exposure to which Lorenzo subjected himself in following up his love intrigue with Bartolommea de' Nasi, the wife of Donato Benci, a lady who was neither young nor beautiful, but of much distinction of manner and intelligence. In order to save the reputation of the lady, who lived in her villa in the country during the winter months, Lorenzo, then a widower, visited her regularly after nightfall and returned to Florence in the morning. He was accompanied on these occasions by a portion of that bodyguard, with some of whom he was always surrounded after the conspiracy of the Pazzi. Two of them having complained of their hard service, the lady contrived to get them sent away in disgrace on distant embassies. “A mad thing '(cosa pazza), says Guicciardini,' was it, if we consider that a man of such * greatness, reputation, and prudence-of forty years of age• should be so captivated by a lady, not beautiful and full of

years, as to be brought to do things which would have mis• become any boy.'

After setting forth that it cannot be denied that the government of Lorenzo was in fact a tyranny, and that he took every precaution not only that those hostile to his authority should be excluded from public office, but that even his own adherents should not be allowed a chance of gaining public favour-in order to secure which latter precautions he systematically bestowed the most important offices of state among the most obscure of his partisans, Guicciardini goes on :

* In fine, it must he concluded that although beneath his government the city was not free, yet that it would have been impossible to have had a better and more agreeable tyrant, since he was by reason of his inclination and natural goodness the author of numerous benefits. Some evils resulted from the necessities of his absolute government, but moderated and limited by the requirements of necessity. As far as his own free will and decision were concerned the evils were very few. Also although those who had been kept in subjection rejoiced at his death, nevertheless all those of the ruling faction, and even those with whom he had at times come into collision, were intensely grieved, not knowing what such a change of things might bring about. The mass of the citizens, and especially the lower classes, were in great grief, for they had been maintained by him in abundance, indulged by him with frequent pleasures, shows, and delights. His death caused the greatest

, consternation to all the men in Italy who were excellent in letters,

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painting, sculpture, and in similar arts, since he either bestowed upon them great largesses, or they were kept up by him in reputation with other princes, who were assured if they should put to trial the will that they would be abandoned for the sake of Lorenzo.'

It is remarkable that that part of the administration of Lorenzo, namely the financial part, which was the most reprehensible according to modern notions, and which has met with the severe censure of Hallam, was the most lightly touched on by contemporary historians. The business affairs of the Medici had gone on deteriorating since the days of Cosimo ; the quantity of money which they required for the support and the rewarding of their partisans, for largesses of various kinds, including donations to the state, was, of course, very great. The amounts of money thus given away were enormous, even according to our present notions. Lorenzo, in his Ricordi,' states that the Medici had spent out of their own moneys, for public purposes, 663,755 golden florins between the years 1434 and 1471. Of which,' he writes, 'I do

• “ not complain, although many would consider that it were • better in our purses; yet I esteem them to have been spent

with great benefit to our party, so am very well content.' As a sample of the quantity of money advanced by Lorenzo for the support of Medicean interests, it may be mentioned that 200,000 golden guilders were sent to Rome from his own resources, and 50,000 golden guilders more were advanced by the state. To add to the deficiency caused by this enormous private experditure, the banking business which the Medici carried on nearly over the whole civilised world fell into increasing disorder. Their banks at Lyons, Bruges, and other places were obliged to come to a composition with their creditors. Among other losers by this decline of the banking business of the Medici was Philippe de Comines, who had ever been one of the most active supporters of their policy abroad and a personal friend of Lorenzo.

To make head against such iinmense expenditure and such private losses, every possible manæuvre was resorted to by Lorenzo and his advisers. The managers, cashiers, and clerks of his banks were indiscriminately employed in the management of the public revenues of the states; so that the public finances and his private ones became at last inextricably mixed up together; and, to use the words of Hallam, 'the total dilapi

dation of his private wealth was repaired at the cost of the state, • and the republic disgracefully screened the bankruptcy of the • Medici by her own.'

Whatever may have been the political merit of Lorenzo in


the eyes of his contemporaries, his fame in the eyes of poste

, rity has a brilliant and a golden glow beyond that of any mere political chief. It is as the centre of a band of poets, artists, and men of letters, and one of the most magnificent art collectors of modern times, that he now especially attracts our notice. Had he not been a statesman at all, he would ever have lived in the literature of his country as a poet; and his poetry is of no artificial kind, such as is usually the case with political men who devote their leisure to letters. His little idylls, La Caccia al Falcone,' 'La Nencia di Barberino, and ' 1 Beoni,' have a simplicity and flavour of popular life in them which recall the rustic eclogues of Theocritus; and even when he follows in the steps of Dante and Petrarch, as in his sonnets and canzoni, and his Selve d'Amore,' he always, by his choice of natural imagery and by his own expression of sentiment, walks with an independent grace. His relations with other poets and with learned men, such as Luigi Pulci, Angelo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, and Count Giovanni Pico de Mirandola, and others, are treated of by Herr von Reumont in several chapters, not the least interesting in the volumes before us; in the Florentine palace of the Medici, and in his various country villas, and especially at Careggi, Caffaggurolo, and Poggio a Cajano, frequent and intimate were the meetings round the festive board, in which these devotees of the purest philosophy of the Greeks carried on dialogues of a character more intellectual, perhaps, than any that had taken place since the famous Symposium recorded by Plato.

The most glorious age of painting and sculpture had not yet arrived. Lorenzo lived upon the very verge of it, and looked upon it, indeed, in the person of his young protégé Michel Angelo, like Moses on the Promised Land, yet numerous as well as illustrious were the artists who owed much to the encouragement of Lorenzo; such as Andrea del Verrocchio, Luca Signorelli, Domenico Ghirlandajo, Filippino Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, and Benedetto da Majano. Of the taste and activity of Lorenzo as a collector of works of art, and of those gems, intaglios, and antiquities which were the wonder of contemporaries, and still form the nucleus of the unrivalled collections of the Uffizi, there are few travellers in Italy who have not occasion to speak with gratitude. Of horses, falcons, dogs, Lorenzo also was a great amateur. Of race-horses and horses for the chase he kept up a fully-appointed stud, in which he was much aided by the presents of his friends. That the writer of the lively idyll · La Caccia al Falcone' was

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fully alive to the pleasures of the chase and fully capable of entering into the spirit of all open-air enjoyments, will be readily understood by all who have ever read the poem.

Yet fond as Lorenzo was of all that was joyous and convivial in life, he never gave himself up to the fierce extravagant sensuality which was generally practised by the princes and cardinals of his time. He was ever the cultivated Florentine citizen, which, as he taught his sons, he considered to be one of the greatest of all titles, and he ever bore himself as one who remembered that he was the chief of the Florentine state, and that he was regarded as such in the eyes of foreigners. What with his political activity, his extensive princely connexions, his intimate relation and intercourse with learned men and artists, his house was ever a centre of intellectual life and motion. In his house he kept open table. Michel Angelo narrates that the guests took their place at table, not according to rank, but according to the order of their arrival. Everybody in the household who was above the condition of a serving-man dined with him, and thus the young Buonarotti at the beginning of his career dined constantly at the table of his patron.

The government of Florence did not remain in the hands of the descendants of Lorenzo the Magnificent, for his eldest son Piero disgusted the citizens by placing the keys of the fortresses of the Republic at the disposal of a French invader. Then broke out again in the streets of the city the old cry of

Popolo e libertà, muojano i tiranni,' and Piero wisely took horse and escaped to Bologna. The old form of popular government was restored for eighteen years; and when the second Medicean restoration took place the line of Lorenzo was extinct, and the supreme authority in Florence was vested in a descendant of Cosimo, the first Father of his country.*

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* We cannot leave this subject without expressing, however briefly, our admiration for the beautiful volume, which Mrs. Oliphant has devoted to the Makers of Florence'-one of the most elegant and interesting books which has been inspired in our time by the arts and annals of that celebrated Republic.

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