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especially his financial relations with preserve intact their essential quality both rulers and ruled, make him one of sex, and yet represent none the less of those central figures of an historic the spirit and manners of their respecgroup that serve as expositors of tive epochs. Scott has done the same the time. He was indeed, by his ac- thing in an historical direction, that complishments and his profligacy, his Shakespeare realized in a psychologiintrigues and associations, his alli- cal way. We regard it, therefore, as ances and enmities, his domestic and a most judicious experiment to indihis political life, a representative man, cate the characteristics of mediæval whose character and career aptly em- Italy by delineating her representative body and illustrate a most stirring women. They inevitably lead us to era of European and Italian history. the heart of things, – to the palace, the He escorted Catharine de' Medici on convent, the court, the vigil of battle, her bridal journey from Florence, and the triumph of art, to the loves of talked philosophy at Medicean ban- warrior, statesman, and priest,
to the quets, was closeted with popes and inmost domestic shrine, — to the festikings, was the boon companion of val and the funeral; and all this we bereigning dukes, a courtier to princes hold, not objectively, but through our and people, a magnificent entertain- vivid interest in a noble, persecuted, er, a fugitive, exile, prisoner, sceptic, saintly, impassioned, or gifted woman, scholar, and suicide, – typifying in his and thus partake, as it were, of the life life the luxury and lawlessness, the of the age, realize its inspiration, recculture and the crime, the splendor ognize its meaning, in a manner and and the degradation, the manners and to a degree impossible to be derived morals, of his country and his age, - from the formal narrative of events, and hence a most instructive bio- without a central figure or a consecugraphical study, which Mr. Trollope tive life which serves as a nucleus has treated with equal fulness, in- and a link, giving vital unity and persight, and authenticity:
sonal significance to the whole. But the most felicitous of the series The period of time embraced in is the “Decade of Italian Women." these female biographies extends from The idea of this work is worthy of a the birth of St. Catherine of Siena, in philosopher, and its execution, of a 1347, to the death of the celebrated humane scholar. It has long been an improvvisatrice Corilla, in 1800. With accepted theory, that, to understand the career of each is identified a sathe talent and pervasive spirit of an lient phase of Italian history, manners, age or country, we must look to the or character ; incident to the experiinfluence and character of the women. ence of all are special localities, politiA subtile social atmosphere exhales cal and social conditions, relations of from their presence and power in the art, of faith, of culture, of rule, and of state and the family; and the dominant morals, whereby we obtain the most elements of faith, as well as the tone desirable glimpses of the actual life of manners and the tendencies of char- and latent tendencies of Italy, considacter, find in the best endowed and ered as the focus of European civilimost auspiciously situated of the sex, zation. We gaze upon a woman's poran embodiment and inspiration which trait, but beyond, beside, and around are the most authentic, because the her are the warriors, statesmen, prelmost instinctive, test and trait of the ates, poets, and people of her time. life of the time. Shakespeare has, Through her triumphs and trials, her with exquisite insight and memora- renown or degradation, her love, amble skill, illustrated this representative bition, sorrows, virtues, or sins, we function of woman by creating types feel, as well as see, the vital facts of female character which, while they of her age and country. Nor is this modify and mould persons and events, all : each character is not only full
of interest in itself, bat is essentially memorable exemplars thereof. First typical and representative.
Thus we in the list is Catherine of Siena, the have the fair saint of the Middle Ages, Saint, - an accurate mediæval religthe energetic and sagacious ruler, the ious delineation which all who have gracious reformer, the artist, the near visited the old city where her relics kinswoman of prince or ecclesiastic, are preserved and her name reverthe poetess, the châtelaine, the nun, the enced will value. Then we have Cathprofligate, the powerful, the beautiful, erine Sforza, — the fair representative and the base, -- all the forms and for- of one of those powerful and princely ces of womanly influence as modified families whose history is that of the by the life of the time and country. state they rule. Next comes the noThey move before us a grand proces- blest and most gifted woman of the sion, now awakening admiration and Middle Ages, the friend of Michel Annow pity, here ravishing in beauty or gelo, the ideal of a wife, and a lady of genius and there forlorn in disaster or culture, genius, and patriotism, -Vittodisgrace, yet always bearing with them ria Colonna. The Bishop of Palermo's the strong individuality and attractive illegitimate daughter a famous poetexpression which, to the imagination, ess, Tullia d'Arragona — precedes the so easily transforms the heroines of learned, pure, intrepid Protestant, Olimhistory into the ideals of the drama, pia Morata, who takes us to the court or the characters of romance. And of Ferrara in its palmy days, to show yet in these delineations the author how “ like a star that dwells apart” is has indulged in no rhetorical embel- a woman of rectitude and wisdom and lishments: he has arrived simply, and faith amid the shallow, the sensual, sometimes sternly, at the clear state- and the bigoted. The renowned Padument of facts, and left them to convey an actress, Isabella Adrieni, gives us their legitimate impression to the read- a striking illustration of the influence, er's mind. The lives of many of these traits, and triumphs of histrionic gewomen have been written before, some nius in Italy of old; while among the of them elaborately; but they are here prone towers and gloomy arcades of grouped and contrasted as illustrative Bologna we become intimate with the of national life, and hence gain a fresh chaste and charming aspirations and charm and suggestiveness, especially skill of Elisabetta Sirani, whose pencil as the fruits of research and the was the pride of the city, and whose method of a disciplined raconteur are character hallows her genius. Of La blent with the light and life of per- Corilla it is enough to say, that she sonal observation as to scenes and was the original of Madame de Staël's memorials, — the land where they once “ Corinne”; and no woman could have dwelt, its natural aspect and ancient been more wisely selected to represent trophies, being fondly familiar to the the fascination, subtlety, force of purbiographer. Eloquent memoirs of fe- pose, ambition, resources, passion, and male sovereigns have become popular external success of an unprincipled through the genial labors of Agnes patrician Italian beauty of the Middle Strickland and Mrs. Jameson, while Ages than Bianca Capello. Shakespeare's women furnish a per- With such a basis of research it is petual challenge to psychological crit- easy to infer how authentic, as a picics ; but the “ Decade of Italian Wo- ture of life, would be the superstrucmen” has a certain unity of aim and ture of romantic fiction by an author relative interest which makes it, as a adequately equipped. Accordingly, the literary record, analogous to a com- Italian novels of Thomas Adolphus plete, though limited, gallery of family Trollope are most accurate and detailportraits, inasmuch as, however diverse ed reflections of local characteristics'; the characters, they own a common they are full of special information ; bond of race and nationality, and are and, while they enlighten the novice as to the domestic economy, habits, ways once as identical with what we have of thinking, costume, and social tradi- known in the households or social cirtions of the people, they revive, with cles of Florence. Mr. Trollope, in all singular freshness, to the mind of one this, is a Flemish artist, and, as much who has sojourned in Italy, every par
of the interest of his pictures depends ticular of his experience, -not only the on their truthfulness, perhaps they are corso, the opera, and the carnival, but really appreciated only by those who the meals, the phraseology, the house- have enjoyed adequate opportunities hold arrangements, — all that is most of becoming intimate with the original individual in a district, with all that is scenes, situations, and personages demost general as nationally representa- picted. In the fidelity of his art he tire. Indeed, not a fact or trait of mod- abstains from all attempts at brilliancy, ern Tuscan life seems to have escaped and ignores the intense and highly drathe author's vigilant observation and matic, finding enough of wholesome inpatient record; the life of the effete
terest in the real life around him, and noble, the frugal citizen, the shrewd well satisfied to reproduce it with canbroker, the pampered ecclesiastic, the dor and sympathy; now and then inpeasant, and the artist is revealed with dulging in a philosophical suggestion the most precise and graphic detail. or a judicious comment, and thus gradWe are taken to the promenade and ually, but securely, winning the grateful the caffè, to the piazza and the church, recognition of his reader. to the farm-house and the palazzo ; and “ La Beata” as completely takes there we see and hear the actual every- those familiar with its scene into the day intercourse of the people. The life and moral atmosphere of Florence, Tuscan character is drawn to the life, as does “ The Vicar of Wakefield" into without exaggeration, and even in its the rural life of England before the days more evanescent, as well as normal of railways and cheap journalism. The traits ; its urbanity, gossip, thrift, geni- streets, the dwellings, the people and ality, self-indulgence, and latent cour- incidents are so truly described, the age are admirably delineated ; its supe- perspective is so correct, and the forerior refinement, sobriety, love of show, ground so elaborate, that, with the faithand class peculiarities are truly given; ful local coloring and naïve truth of the the old feudal manners that linger in characters, we seem, as we read, to be modern civilization are accounted for lost in a retrospective dream, - the more and illustrated, especially in the rela- so as the is an utter absence the tion of dependants “occupying every sensational and rhetorical in the style, shade of gradation between a common which is that of direct and unpretendservant and a bosom friend." The au- ing narrative. The heroine is a saintly thor's ecclesiastic portraits are as exact, model, though at the same time a according to our observation, as his thoroughly human girl, — such a one brother's. Each class of Italian priests as the artistic, superstitious, frugal, and is portrayed with discrimination, and no simple experience of her class and of writer has better exemplified the para- the place could alone have fostered; lyzing and perverting influence of Ro- the artist-hero is no less characterismanism upon the integrity of domestic tic, - a selfish, clever, amiable, ambilife, and the purity and power of political tious, and superficial Italian; while the aspirations. The women, too, are typ- old wax-candle manufacturer, with his ical, - remarkably free from fanciful em- domicile, daughter, and church relabellishment, eloquent of race, instinct tions, is a genuine Florentine of his with nature. Their limited culture, so- kind. The life of the studio, then and cial prejudices, artless charms, frugal there, is drawn from reality. The pelives, naïve or reticent characters, as culiar and traditional customs, social modified by town and country, patrician experience, church ceremonials, popuor popular influences, we recognize at lar fêtes, home and heart life, have a VOL. XX.
minute fidelity which renders the pic- tions of the poet. Herein the author ture vivid and winsome to one who well has shown an insight as honest and knows and wisely loves the Tuscan suggestive as his keen and patient obcapital. An English family delineated servation and candid record thereof. without the least exaggeration, and
" Marietta is the genuine embodiwith the striking contrasts such visitors ment of that local attachment and analways present to the native scene and cestral pride so remarkable in the people of Italy, adds to and emphasizes mediæval Florentines, and still manithe salient traits of the story. Among fest in an exceptional class of their dethe subjects described and illustrated scendants. The modern life of a dewith remarkable tact and truth is that cayed branch of the Tuscan nobility in most interesting charitable fraternity, the nineteenth century, the process and the Asisericordia, of which every stran- method of its decadence, the charm of ger in Florence has caught impressive“ a local habitation and a name,” once glimpses, but of whose social influence identified with the vital power of the and real significance few are aware. old republic, and the sad, effeminate, Add to this the description of Ca- yet not unromantic sentiment incident maldoli, with its famous pines, its Dan- to its passing away, through the prostesque associations, and its remorseful perous encroachments of new men, convent, and we have a scope and detail with whom money is the power once in the scene and spirit of this little local only attached to birth, are most aptly romance which concentrate the points described. The thrifty farmer of the of interest in Florentine life and bring Apennine, and his slow and handsome into view all that is most familiar and
son, are capital types of the frugal and characteristic in the place and people. shrewd fattore and rustic proprietor We see the gay boats on St. John's of Tuscany; and his more astute and eve from the bridges of the Arno, the polished brother is equally typical of procession of the black Madonna, the the old money-lender and goldsmith of interior of the studios, the ceremonies, the Ponte Vecchio. Simon Boccanera the saintly traffic and social subterfuge well represents the tasteful artificer and naive manners, the tradesman, of Florence, and the Gobbo the feudal painter, devotee, priest, — pride, piety, devotee, whose political faith has been and passion, — whereof even the casual expanded by French ideas. In the observation of a traveller's sojourn had bon vivant, the amateur musician, the given us so curious or attractive an idea, amiable and easy Canonico Lunardi, that, thus expanded and defined, they what a true portrait of the priestly seem like a personal experience. There epicure, the self-indulgent but kindly is singular pathos in the character and churchman of the most urbane of Italian career of La Beata, as there is in the communities, and in the Canon of San expression of Santa Filomena for which Lorenzo, how faithful a picture of the she was the recognized and inspired elegant and unscrupulous aspirant and model. The integrity of her sentiment intriguer! The two girls of the story is as Southern - European as is her are veritable specimens, in looks, dress, lover's falsehood and voluntary expia- talk, domestic aspect and aptitudes, not tion. That absolute ignorance of the only of Italian maidenhood, but of that world and childlike trust, which we of the state and city of their birth, rarely meet except in Shakespeare's such maidens as are only encountered women, is a moral fact of which the on the banks of the Arno. This pleasstranger in Italy, who has grown inti- ant story takes us into one of those mate with families of the middle class, massive old Florentine palaces, with its is cognizant, and which he is apt to lofty loggia overlooking mountain, river, recall as one of those elemental and olive orchard and vineyard, dome and primitive phases of human nature which tower, - its adjacent church with the justify the most pure and plaintive crea- family chapel and ancestral effigies,
its several floors let out as lodgings, - slight exaggerations of what many of its heavy portal, stone staircase, faded us have witnessed and wondered at. frescos, barred windows, paved court- Provincial and conventual life in Italy yard, moss-grown statues, and damp is photographed in this story ; fresh green garden. We recognize the fa- forms and phases of the ecclesiastical miliar elements of the local life, — the element are incarnated from careful frugal dinner, the wine flask, the coal- observation; and the political feeling, brazier, the antique lamp, the violin, faith, and transitions of the period are the snuff-box, the ample coarse cloak, vividly illustrated. Carlo, the young the frugality, bonhommie, shrewdness, noble, is a true portrait of the kindly, proverbs, greetings, grace, cheerfulness, genial, but shallow and pleasure-seekchat, rural and city traits, prejudices, ing Florentine youth of the day, such pride, and pleasantness of Tuscan life as we have loitered with on the promand character. These all appear in enade and chatted beside at the Caffè suggestive contrast, and with accurate Doney, --- without convictions, playful, detail, woven into a tale which breathes always half in love, with a little stock the very atmosphere of the place. of philosophy and a lesser one of re
“Giulio Malatesta,” on the other ligion, yet alert to do a kindness, – full hand, opens with distinctive glimpses of tact, charming in manner, tasteful of an old Italian university town; ini- and tolerant, with no higher aim than tiates us into the prolonged and patient being agreeable and ignoring care, political conspiracies of Romagna and impatient of duty, fond of pastime, utthe ideal hopes of Gioberti's disciples. terly, incapable of giving pain or atIts hero is a student at Pisa, and one tempting hard work. His friend Giuof the brave champions of Italy who lio Malatesta, on the other hand, adeled the Tuscan volunteers to patriotic quately personifies the earnest, thoughtmartyrdom, in 1848, at Curtone. No- ful, and patriotic Italian, to whom where have we read so graceful and Viva | Italia ! means something, – graphic a picture of that noble epi- who is ready to suffer for his counsode in the history of Tuscany, which try, and who knows her poets by redeemed her character and proved heart, believes in her unity, and has the latent manliness of her children. boundless faith in her future. FranThere is a touching similarity be- cesca Varini is described with an extween the description of the march actitude which defines her peculiar of the Corpo Universitario from Pisa charms and traits to any reader who to the Mincio, the fight at the mill, has fondly noted the modifications of and the death of the generous and female beauty and character incident lovely boy, Enrico Palmieri, - and re- to race and locality in Italy; and old cent scenes
own civil war, Marta Varini is such a stoical, acute, wherein appeared the same youthful and persistent woman as signalized the enthusiasm and utter inexperience, the days of the Carbonari ; while Stella same hardships and fortitude, valor and Madalina are local heroines with and faith. In striking contrast with characteristic national traits. these scenes of battle and self-sacrifice, In “ Beppo the Conscript” we are including the tragic incidents attend- transported to “ the narrow strip of ing the third anniversary of the Tus- territory shut in between the Apencan martyrs in the church of Santa nines and the Adriatic, to the south Croce at Florence, three years later, are of Bologna and the north of Ancona," the episodes of fashionable and carni- where European civilization once cenval life in that delightful capital. The tred, Tasso sung and raved, and the Cascine and the Pergola are repro- Dukes of Urbino flourished. But not duced with all their gay life and license; to revive their past glories are we the Contessa Zenobia and her cavalier beguiled to the decayed old city of servente, so comical, yet true, are but Fano, and the umbrageous valleys that