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All beauty upon earth, compell’d to praise,
Shall feel the power of that which they destroy;
And Art's mistaken gratitude shall raise To tyrants who but take her for a toy
Emblems and monuments, and prostitute
Her charms to pontiffs proud, (16) who but employ The man of genius as the meanest brute
To bear a burthen, and to serve a need,
To sell his labours, and his soul to boot. Who toils for nations may be poor indeed,
But free; who sweats for monarchs is no more
Than the gilt chamberlain, who, clothed and fee'd, Stands sleek and slavish, bowing at his door.
Oh, Power that rulest and inspirest! how
Is it that they on earth, whose earthly power Is likest thine in heaven in outward show,
Least like to thee in attributes divine,
Tread on the universal necks that bow,
And how is it that they, the sons of fame,
Whose inspiration seems to them to shine From high, they whom the nations oftest name,
Must pass their days in penury or pain,
Or step to grandeur through the paths of shame, And wear a deeper brand and gaudier chain ?
Or if their destiny be born aloof
From lowliness, or tempted thence in vain, In their own souls sustain a harder proof,
The inner war of passions deep and fierce ?
Florence! when thy harsh sentence razed my roof, I loved thee; but the vengeance of my verse,
The hate of injuries which every year
Makes greater, and accumulates my curse, Shall live, outliving all thou holdest dear,
Thy pride, thy wealth, thy freedom, and even that,
The most infernal of all evils here, The sway of petty tyrants in a state ;
For such sway is not limited to kings,
And demagogues yield to them but in date As swept off sooner ; in all deadly things
Which make men hate themselves, and one another,
In discord, cowardice, cruelty, all that springs From Death the Sin-born's incest with his mother,
In rank oppression in its rudest shape,
The faction Chief is but the Sultan's brother, And the worst despot's far less human ape:
Florence ! when this lone spirit, which so long
Yearnd, as the captive toiling at escape, To fly back to thee in despite of wrong,
An exile, saddest of all prisoners,
Who has the whole world for a dungeon strong, Seas, mountains, and the horizon's verge for bars,
Which shut him from the sole small spot of earth
Where--whatsoe'er his fate—he still were hers, His country's, and might die where he had birth
Florence ! when this lone spirit shall return
To kindred spirits, thou wilt feel my worth, And seek to honour with an empty urn
The ashes thou shalt ne'er obtain—Alas !
" What have I done to thee, my people ?” (17) Stern Are all thy dealings, but in this they pass
The limits of man's common malice, for
All that a citizen could be I was;
And for this thou hast warr'd with me.-'Tis done :
I may not overleap the eternal bar Built up between us, and will die alone,
Behulding with the dark eye of a seer,
The evil days to gifted souls foreshown, Foretelling them to those who will not hear,
As in the old time, till the hour be come
When Truth shall strike their eyes through many a tear, And make them own the Prophet in his tomb.
Note 1, page 267, line 11.
Note 2, page 268, line 9.
- Pensar ben dèi ch' ogni terren' piacere." Canzone, in which Dante describes the person of Beatrice, Strophe third.
Note 3, page 269, line 10.
- L'Esilio che mi è dato onor mi tegno.
"Cader tra' buoni è pur di lode degno."
Sonnet of Dante, in which he represents Right, Generosity, and Temperance as banished from among men, and seeking refuge from Love, who inhabits his bosom.
Note 4, page 269, line 26.
The dust she dooms to scatter. « Ut si quis predictorum ullo tempore in fortiam dicti
communis pervenerit, talis perveniens igne comburatur, sic quod moriatur."
Second sentence of Florence against Dante, and the fourteen accused with him. The Latin is worthy of the sentence.
Note 5, page 272, last line. Where yet my boys are, and that fatul she. This lady, whose name was Gemma, sprung from one of the most powerful Guelf families, named Donati. Corso Donati was the principal adversary of the Ghibellines. She is described as being “Admodum morosa, ut de Xantippe Socratis philosophi conjuge scriptum esse legimus,” according to Giannozzo Manetti. But Lionardo Aretino is scandalized with Boccace, in his life of Dante, for saying that literary men should not marry.
« Qui il Boccaccio non ha pazienza, e dice, le mogli esser contrarie agli studj; e non si ricorda che Socrate il più nobile filosofo che mai fosse, ebbe moglie e figliuoli e uffici della Repubblica nella sua Città; e Aristotele che, &c. &c. ebbe due mogli in vari tempi, ed ebbe figliuoli, e ricchezze assai.E Marco Tullio-e Catone--e Varronee Seneca-ebbero moglie,” &c. &c. It is odd that honest Lionardo's examples, with the exception of Seneca, and, for any thing I know, of Aristotle, are not the most felicitous. Tully's Terentia, and Socrates' Xantippe, by no means contributed to their husbands' happiness, whatever they might do to their philosophy-Cato gave away his wife-of Varro's we know nothing-and of Seneca's, only that she was disposed to die with him, but recovered, and lived several years afterwards. But, says Lionardo, “L'uomo è animale civile, secondo piace a tutti i filosofi.” And thence concludes that the greatest proof of the animals civismis “la prima congiunzione, dalla quale multiplicata nasce la Città."
Note 6, page 278, line 11. Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this and set. See “ Sacco di Roma," generally attributed to Guicciardini. There is another written by a Jacopo Buonaparte, Gentiluomo Samminiatese che vi si trovò presente.