Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the eyes of his contemporaries, his fame in the eyes of posterity 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 Burberino, and · 1 Beoni,' have a simplicity and flavour of popular lifo 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 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.*

* 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.

Art. X.--1. The Map of Europe by Treaty; showing the

various political and territorial Changes which have taken place since the General Peace of 1814. With numerous Maps and Plans. By EDWARD HERTSLET, Esq., of the Foreign

Office. 3 volumes 8vo. London: 1875. 2. A Handy Book of the Eastern Question. By Sir GEORGE

CAMPBELL, M.P. London: 1876. Amidst the conflicting opinions and the fervent heat which

recent events in Eastern Europe have excited in this country, the wisest course for a statesman or a political writer would be to hold his tongue until this cyclone has passed by ; and this is the course taken by those leaders of the Whig party, who have all our respect and confidence, and with whom we desire, in our own humbler sphere, to act. But this liberty of silence is hardly conceded to a quarterly reviewer. It is our duty to give the best account we can of the political changes of the times, and to assist, as far as lies in our power, to the intelligence of past, present, and future events. We cannot pretend to discuss negotiations with which we are very imperfectly acquainted and which are still perhaps incomplete. We cannot invent a scheme for the government of a vast empire, over which this country has no authority, and in which it is resolved not to interfere by force of arms. Before you can determine what the institutions of a province or a nation are to be, you must be master of it by cession or conquest. No doubt an Indian Lieutenant-Governor might govern Bulgaria much better than a Pasha; but until that district is our own, we have neither the right nor the duty to govern it at all. The plenipotentiaries of Europe have urged upon the acceptance of the Porte conditions for the amelioration of the condition of its Christian subjects in Europe which appear to us to be in themselves wise and moderate. The Porte, ill-disposed to accept any conditions imposed upon it by the dictation of the Christian Powers, but professing a sincere desire to place all classes of its subjects on the same basis of toleration and freedom, has met these demands by the promulgation of a scheme of constitutional government, for which, as far as we can judge, the vast and various populations of the Ottoman Empire are very illprepared. We do not contend that the conditions were inacceptable, or that the Constitution is impracticable, though we have not much faith in either; and we should hail with joy any changes which admitted and secured the rights of the people in a country hitherto ruled by an exclusive creed and

by arbitrary power. But behind and beyond these questions lies the more essential and important question of the right of sovereignty. It is upon his right as an independent sovereign that the Sultan has taken his stand ; and we are not aware that anything short of conquest can deprive him of that right, as long as he is resolved to defend it. In the eyes of the Porte the question is not whether this or that reform is to be introduced, but whether the Sultan or the Christian Powers are to be

supreme in the Turkish dominions. We should not, therefore, be surprised at the rejection by the Porte of the conditions proposed by the Conference, although those conditions have been reduced to a very moderate compass, and although the resistance of Turkey may appear to be rash as well as stubborn.

No doubt the excitement recently manifested throughout England was due in the main to generous and disinterested sentiments of humanity, and to that sympathy for the suffering and the oppressed which is one of the noblest characteristics of the British nation ; but humanity itself may sometimes lead to inhuman consequences by inflaming and prolonging fierce contests, until those whom it is our design to assist and relieve become the victims of our interference. Servia was two or three years back a tributary province of the Turkish Empire, absolutely free and self-governed, prosperous, and progressive, the Porte claiming nothing from it but a small tribute and the right of investiture. How heart-rending are the accounts we now read of that country! By rushing into an unprovoked war and by refusing to make peace in September, on very liberal terms, at the fatal instigation of foreign emissaries, this province, which was the type of what a Christian principality of European Turkey may become, has caused to itself an amount of ruin and suffering hardly to be described. Whatever may have been the motives for foreign interference in Servia, the Servians have been its dupes and its victims. The Vilayet of Bulgaria had recently enjoyed for five years under Midhat Pasha, the most enlightened and humane of Turkish statesmen, as good an administration as is possible under Oriental government. He had made roads, encouraged trade and education, and the progress of the Christians was so remarkable that it was said to have excited the jealousy of their Moslem neighbours. This progress has been interrupted by the attempt to incite Bulgaria to rise in insurrection in aid of the Servian war. The Bulgarians, as Mr. Baring reported, had no heart in the rising; but the Moslems crushed the attempt (which also originated with foreign emissaries) with a degree of lawless ferocity that called forth the indignation and horror of Europe. The sufferings of the Bulgarians are as great as they were undeserved. But if anything be wanting to complete their misery, it is that their fertile and industrious valleys should become the theatre of war between two great Powers, and that in the name of humanity the whole province should be depopulated and laid waste as it was by the Russian invasion of 1828 and 1829. We merely point to these facts as instances in which a generous and humane impulse may defeat its own ends, and cause evils far greater than those it seeks to avenge or to cure. It seems to us the strangest thing in the world that by way of giving to Mussulmans a lesson in the sacred duties of toleration and humanity, a fierce cry has been raised, which might be mistaken for the language of bigotry and revenge.

Other motives, of a less generous character, contributed to swell this crusade. There are those whose sacerdotal zeal claims a morbid affinity with the most venal and illiterate Church in Christendom, by the common bond of ritualism. There are the enthusiasts of the Low Church and of Dissent, who believe that the Little Horn is about to be crushed and the prophecies of the book of Daniel fulfilled. There are those who are inflamed by the resentment of disappointed avarice, who lent their money by millions to support a bad government when it paid them seven per cent., but who discover all its iniquities when the rate of interest is reduced to three. There are those who see in these events a favourable opportunity for a mortal assault on the present Administration; and no doubt Lord Beaconsfield has laid himself open to severe attack by his cynical remarks in the House of Commons, by the mystery in which he has shrouded an equivocal policy, by the use of vague generalities when plain specific statements were wanted, and by the incredible imprudence of his speech on November 9, at Guildhall, which breathed defiance to Russia, when he had in his pocket and might have produced, to the great and general satisfaction of his hearers and of the nation, assurances of the most pacific characters given on November 2 by the Czar. But these are not the issues we shall endeavour to try. Questions of this nature must be left, some to the operation of time and reason, some to the constitutional test of parliamentary debate. That test will be applied in its proper place and at a time not now remote; and we regard as extremely unwise any attempt to anticipate its results.

It is our intention in the following pages, to deal with nothing but the hard facts of the case, as far as they are already known to us, and to fall back on those historical and military

« EdellinenJatka »