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THE POETRY OF LIFE; OR, HOW D'YE DO?
FIRE and water have been exceedingly useful in domestic arrangements from time immemorial. We will not stop to illustrate a fact which commends itself to all readers, te say nothing of thinkers. Perhaps old clothes were not so useful in the olden times; although, judging from the friendly feeling with which we in these days regard an old cost or hat, which had been our close companion through an interesting part of our pilgrimage, even old clothesags were not laid aside by our ancestors without a kindly feeling, a sort of mute good bye.' But fire and water are now adapted to new and higher uses. Our good mothers and housewives have no longer a monopoly of them, for railway directors have laid hold of them, and controlled their natural antipathies so far as to make them draw together in their swift and long-resounding 'trains.' So also with old clothes or rags. They have passed through a metamorphosis and become beautiful writing paper. Hence our modern literature, and the wonders of the printing press. It is all founded on old rags, but, lo, how magnificent the superstructure!
We mention these familiar changes to a proposition which, put boldly forward, might be apt to pave the way for excite a smile or encounter the ridicule of some amiable and well-disposed persons. We have no authentic account of the free-and-easy salutation, How d'ye do?' But probably the use of it in social intercourse stretches to as venerable an antiquity as the use of fire and water in the domestic economy. We would not urge this point, however, for a few hundred years more or less does not signify. All that we contend for is, that it has served long enough in subordinate capacity to deserve promotion, and we would Dow submit to the reading public that it be promoted accordingly. That mere material things, as we have seen, have been promoted to a rank that our ancestors never dreamed of, is a reason for believing that there are latent capabilities in the social and friendly sentiment in question to entitle it to rank higher than the small change, the pence and ha'pence, of conversation. What if it be a coin purest gold? Think of the loss and waste which this apposes? It has passed current between man and man for six thousand years, as a bit of mere copper, impoverishing the giver and not enriching the receiver. How d'ye do-is it a golden salutation? Very well, thank you' is the response true? Let us cast them both into the crucable of thought and subject them to its analysis.
in the vestibule of life without venturing into the living temple. It is the play of children but not the work of men. It is talk but not communion. It is the easier but of power, a self-deception, a voluntary abandonment of the not the better way. It is a perversion of language, a waste light and heat which spring from the collision and communion of soul with soul; for thus souls never meet nor mingle, the mortal tisques are interposed between them.
The torch of science,' says one of the greatest of living We have royal societies and literary clubs without end. writers, has now been brandished and borne about, with more or less effect, for five thousand years and upwards, art can remain unilluminated;' and, therefore, he thinks so that not the smallest cranny or dog-hole in nature or that it might strike the reflective mind with some surprise that hitherto little or nothing of a fundamental character, whether in the way of philosophy or history, has been written on the subject of clothes.' But it is also surprising that no proposition has been made to institute a society with the special mission of elevating How d'ye do' to its literal and spiritual place in the intercourse of man with man. therefore we would venture to submit to our intelligent There is ample room for such a society, without encroaching on the domains of any now existing; and countrymen, that such a society be forthwith established. members shall use How d'ye do' in the true and literal We would propose, as its fundamental principle, that its meaning of language. They shall be allowed to retain the privilege of using it to outside barbarians' in its conventional sense, as housewives use fire and water, not as engineers, but simply as housewives; but all the members point of true and manly conversation. We shall endeavour of the society shall use it to each other as the startingsideratum of the times, inasmuch as the conventional use to show in this paper that such a society is the great deof our familiar salutation, by striking a low key-note, gives of thought and our popular literature; that it is the barrier a low tone not only to our conversation but to our habits which prevents us from entering into the most glorious temple in the world-our own life; the veil which hides from us its most holy place; the darkness which conceals from us our lost Eden, which lies hidden in our own hearts; places between us and the poetry of life, which rings incesthe dull prose which interposes its miserable commonman, if he had ears to hear and eyes to see. santly, which shines perennially, within and around every
This poetry of life is something higher than knowledge.
'The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
How d'ye do?' in the conventional and common use of it, does not mean how do you do,' but how does the shell which you live do.' It is not the welfare of the man ather which his friend inquires, but the condition of the ent or tabernacle in which he lives. The response, very well, thank you,' corresponds to the salutation. It is the kept in the background, as though he had no business body which is very well. The man is not referred to. He to trade himself upon good company. This is playing of stirring and strengthening the inner life of the soul.
may be surveyed, and weighed, and measured, and yet be apprehended only as things of length, breadth, and thickness; things cold, inert, passive; without life, or the power
Knowledge is the quarried stones, the polished blocks, the columns and capitals of the intellect; science and art are the machinery by which we fit them into their proper places, and build up a Diana temple-a miracle of beauty and loveliness. But having built the temple, we may not be able to enter in, and stand in the presence of the Shekinah which fills it with a divine glory. We may be unconscious that there is a divinity within; the universe and human life may be presented to us like beauty shrouded in a cold eclipse; and though surrounded by the rich treasures of our knowledge we may be forced to exclaim, Oh, who will show us any good!'
What is the philosophy of this wail, which is always deepest in the most thoughtful and serious natures? In this investigation we must start with the faith that there is an antidote for this bane of life. Here, as in material things, there is a north and a south pole. The wail of sorrow has somewhere its corresponding song of joy and gladness. But how to bring the hooks and eyes together? How to neutralise the evil by bringing it in contact with its corresponding good? We will begin our search among the treasures which our laborious thinkers have dug up for us from the dark mines of truth, or brought down to us from the fields of space. All honour to this noble band of labourers. They give us light, if not warmth; strength, if not peace; the consciousness of greatness, if not the feeling of happiness. And if, after luxuriating among the triumphs and treasures which they have laid at our feet, that pathetic exclamation flows instinctively and all but involuntarily from our heart of hearts, we feel in that heart of hearts that we have no cause to reproach those industrious workers and most useful servants.
he may find that there is something about it which corresponds to those repeating decimals which perplexed his schoolboy days, and gave him the first glimpse of the paradox of everlasting approximation and the impossibility of touching.
Cautiously and slowly then, we would take our first step by planting our foot upon the proposition, that the human heart is a deep and serious thing. We lay this down as an absolute and universal truth. We speak of light and frivolous natures, and we speak correctly. We utter a conventional and accidental truth. There are light and frivolous natures, just as there are dwarfed and stunted oaks, and as there are dwarfed and stunted human bodies. But let us beware of making this utterance in levity or scorn; let us make it in sorrow not in anger. In those natures there are yearnings which are never satisfied, capacities which are never filled, or, more pitiful still, which are never developed. From those natures too, often there breaks forth that heart-wail of which we have spoken. Over them might we not pour the lamentation which Thomas Carlyle utters over the poor man, whose hard and dark toils shut him out from the temple of knowledge? 'What I do mourn over is, that the lamp of his soul should go out, that no ray of heavenly or even of earthly knowledge should visit him, but only in the haggard darkness, like two spectres, fear and indignation. Alas, while the body stands so broad and brawny, must the soul be blinded, dwarfed, stupified, almost annihilated! Alas, was this too a breath of God! bestowed in heaven, but on earth never to be unfolded! That there should one man die ignorant who had capacity for knowledge, this I call a tragedy, were it to happen more than twenty times in the minute, as by some computations it does!'
If, then, the heart is a deep and serious thing, it will long for something after its own nature. Things light and frivolous, which only amuse and divert, may be received for a moment only to be cast away as miserable comforters. There are no natural sympathies between them, and they can never coalesce. Even better things-knowledge that is truly valuable, knowledge extensive and profound, science with its clear and conclusive demonstrations, plastic art, divine philosophy-all may appeal in vain, with their charms and their magic, to fill the void of the heart and dispel the winter of its discontent.
Then we must advance a step. If to those we must say Well done, good and faithful servants,' we must call others before us and ask what they have done. Our chemists and mechanics, our discoverers, geographers, and astronomers, can give a good account of themselves; call now our moralists and poets, the men who train us in duty and beauty; call them up to judgment! They come, a cloud of witnesses-the moralists with their systems, the poets with their songs. The moralists expatiate to us of Causation, of the laws and principles of motives, the fitness of things, the essential nature of right and wrong, and of the gulf which separates these two things eternally. The poets strike their harps before us, and, lo, the deep-re- We must dive deeper, we must soar higher. We must sounding hymn rings through all nature! the wind is cultivate the habit of contemplation, we must hold commusical, every tree of the forest has a voice, the lion and munion with thought. We must, with steady eye and earthe lamb join in the chorus, and the anthem of the prime-nest heart, look through the atmospheric veil of phenomena val morning stars is again heard ringing through the vault of heaven.
Must we not then dismiss those also with Well done, good and faithful servants?' Justice demands that we do so. Their works bear them noble witness. And if after all the truth and beauty, all the melting melodies and subduing harmonies which they have made to pass before our eyes, and to ring through soul and sense, and heart and brain, that old wail comes like an echo, or the mysterious messenger of a want, a feeling, a capacity, which the beauty and the song have not been able to reach or great enough to satisfy, we must just begin our search anew; nothing doubting, never despairing, but strong and bold in the faith, that the corresponding joy is somewhere to be found; perhaps that it is just at the door, and we ourselves the impediment to its entering.
Let us grapple a little more closely with this riddle of life. For we must solve it, else the sphynx who propounds it will for ever stand between us and our heart's peace. But as it is no light matter, we must be allowed to proceed cautiously and slowly. Here we cannot jump to a conclusion. It is the problem of a life with which we are engaged; and though we would by no means regard it as unsolvable, yet there is reason to think that the solution of it is a very slow matter, a thing of progress and degrees, which grows with our growth and strengthens with our strength; a thing which every good and true man ultimately reaches; only it is possible that in his best estate, when he stands on the summit of the Andes of life,
at the realities which lie behind it. Thus only shall we come in contact and hold communion with the spiritual, which is the real, and with which alone our better nature has entire sympathy. For it is not a revelation of our German friends, that all this glorious and beautiful universe is but the vesture and manifestation of something more real, and far more beautiful and glorious. It is the doctrine of ancient seers and prophets; and the voice of reason, in our deepest hearts, gives forth the response the doctrine is true. Here at last we find the key which unlocks the secret of our vacancy and discontent. Here we begin to hear the prelude of that triumphal song of joy, which is destined to still the heart-wail- Oh, who will show us any good!' And here, if we might venture upon a little criticism, we would say that we meet with the grand defect of our popular literature. It wants completeness. It deals too much with the objective-the outward and visible, and too little with the subjectivethe inner and intangible, but, par excellence, the good, the true, the beautiful. We can speak thus with more boldness after the frank admissions we have made in reference to that able and useful army who are engaged in conquering for us the material world; and that other army of moralists and poets, who conquer for us the spiritual world. We want more of the latter in our army of popular writers, though by no means to the exclusion of the former. We want the thought, and fire, and spiritualism of the one, to enliven and beautify the facts and demonstrations of the other. We want, first, the cunning artificers,
who can cut and quarry, and build up beautiful structures; and then we want Prometheus with his fire from heaven. All due honour to the devoted men who build the temples of knowledge; but greater honour and a heartier welcome to the seers and revealers, who show us that there is a Shekinah there, and teach us how to enter in, and worship, and enjoy.
We have been going upon the assumption that mere objective knowledge, however extensive and accurate, does not suppose a high degree of mental culture. A man may be conversant with the events of history; the exact sciences may be mirrored in his mind, as perfectly as their eternal axioms and principles are in the nature and source of things; he may have reasoned high of knowledge, providence, freewill, and fate,' and dived with his sounding-line into the abyss of being; and, after all, not have more experience than a child of the moral beatitudes, and enjoy far less than a child the poetry of life-that mood or condition of being, which is to life what midsummer is to the year, what midday is to the day; which is the ultimate end of all knowledge-which is a beacon-fire in the stormy night -which is a blessed presence that springs up in our daily paths, with the smile and the voice of a mother.
If we would attain to this poetry of life (which is simply a nood or condition of being); if we would enter into that temple of life of which we have spoken, and behold the cherubim spreading their wings, as of old, over the mercyseat, and obtain a glimpse of the Shekinah which ever dwells there, we must begin by dismissing the notion that human life is a dull prosaic thing, and that the world, in which this flower of eternity is planted for a season, is less pervaded by the spirit of poetry than in what we call the old romantic times. The world may be old, and cold, and a prison to some of us; but it is ever young, and warm, and a joyous May-fair to the child. The world that seems old to the aged, is young, and seems as young to the child of this day as it was to the old man in his youth. Nature may be a sphynx to some of us, perplexing us with dark problems and unsolvable riddles; but she is at the same time a laughing fay-a rollicking, gambolling Pan, to the little children. She sings songs to them the live-long day; sad if we, by our false conventions and social perplexities, would not come between them and the light of her motherly Countenance, she would make them as happy as the day is long.
Minds accustomed to the habit of contemplation, and to look closely at the vital reality of things, will perceive, from these remarks, that sublimity is a principal element in the poetry of life. We live, and move, and have our being' in this element; and the grand desideratum is to make us feel that we do so. To induce such a feeling, or consciousness, or state of being, is the ultimate aim of all true culture. But if we might judge from facts and results, it is of all things the most difficult. To say nothing of the mass of men to whom the stores of knowledge have never been displayed, it is to be feared that of the intelligent and the learned a small per centage only are able to enter into the temple which they themselves have built, or are penetrated with the spiritualism of the truths with which they are conversant. They walk in the midst of them, as men do in the common atmosphere, unconscious that they are breathing a liquid fire, and living upon & subtle element, whose invisible but ever-operating force guides ten thousand ships unerringly across the trackless highway of the oceans. All is clear to the intellect, but all is cold to the heart-to the unity of the entire man. Noble triumphs have been won by the intellect; it has clothed itself, as with a garment, with truths battled for, and conquered from, the material and spiritual kingdoms of the universe; but that is all. They are worn as a prince wears his crown and his coronation robes; but they do not mingle with the man's life. They are not distilled into it, as the dews into the flower-as the sunbeams into the great heart of vegetation, building up, strengthening, beautifying, and blessing. Hence the coldness of our life; hence the vacancy of our heart.. Possessed of the rarest and richest treasures, we are poor as a miser in the midst of his money-bags. We have, but enjoy not; we are rich, but we are miserably poor. Hence the apathy with which we look upon things of superlative sublimity and beauty. They pass before us, and excite no deeper emotion than the appearance of a departed friend in a dream. The spirit of the universe appeals to us with his splendours, but our spirit responds not. He appeals to us with his beauty, but the sympathetic response in our hearts is mute! We have an uneasy, half-awakened consciousness of his appeals; but, like men who in sleep grasp at the phantoms which flit across their path, and grasp in vain, we make an effort to respond. We desire to enjoy the dimly-imagined bliss, but our strength fails us-the beautiful vision melts away, and the common world again spreads around us.
And is life a dull prosaic thing? Look at its origin, environments, and disappearance. See it springing from The poets have by intuition that clear perception of the the abyss of non-existence-beginning to be. See its first spirituality of things, which common men can attain to appearance on the stage of time. Look reverently into only by a severe process of mental discipline and culture. that quiet room. See the babe of an hour old, nestling on It might be worth while to inquire, whether the vivid perthe bosom of the mother, encircled by an atmosphere of ception of the poet is not the grand secret of his strength? love and sorrow. Mark that love, strong as death-the The ancient prophets were poets, and the ancient prophets love of a mother's heart; that pain and sorrow which mingle were called seers. There is a meaning in the name. with and chasten the love; those hopes and fears of husband, It shadows forth a truth, of which we would do well fa her, and friends. Mark the contrast presented by that to take cognisance. The prophets saw more than cominteresting group: on the one hand, the intellects which mon men; so do the poets. What the prophets saw, have been disciplined and strengthened, and the passions they taught; so do the poets. Here we discover the which have been stirred, by intercourse and collision with mission of our teachers and guides; and, if we underthe outer world; and, on the other hand, the unruffled stood it aright, we should find that the first step in the bundle of life just drifted on the shore of time from the process of mental culture which leads to the mood of depths of eternity, and now lapped in its first sweet slum- being we have called the 'poetry of life,' is—to open our ber. Follow the child out into the world. The sun, moon, eyes. The faculty of observation is not at all so common and stars from on high; the seasons, as they march round as some would imagine; and more rarely still do we find the eircle of the year; the rising and setting sun, measur- it developed into a confirmed habit. But it is the faculty ing days and nights-all are his companions and teachers. of mental observation to which we more especially refer, As it was in the beginning, so is it now. The sun has not and that developement of it called contemplation. It is in grown dim with age; the watch-fires of the night have not this mood that the poets build up their creations, and comJaled their lustre; and to the seeing eye and open heart pose those anthems which stir the hearts of men for ages 'the sunshine is a glorious birth,' the seasons are a hymn,-voices which will never become mute. Such moods are a beautiful, as melodious, as in the old primeval times. Thus environed and serenaded, the child leaves the bosom and arms of his mother-passes into boyhood-into manbod-mixes in the strife of men-is tossed in the storm of passion—passes under the eclipse of temptation, the ligats and shadows of good and evil-on to that portal on the western horizon of life-over that 'bourne from whence Bo traveller returns.'
seeing moods. In such moods they see for us; they proclaim to us their burdens' and their visions;' they communicate to us a portion of their spirit, of their capacity, and their power; and we see also, and love, admire, and enjoy. At the first reading of a good poem almost all men of moderate culture feel more or less of the poetic inspiration; a breath of the afflatus sweeps through the recesses of their being; and they experience the sensation of a new
and higher life. This divine mood may be of short duration; but it is of priceless value, as indicating our capabilities; and the cause which induced it should be cherished as a link of the golden chain which unites our common life with the spiritual world of thought and beauty—as our good angel, which brings us messages from heaven. Here we must pause on the very threshold of the noble theme, promising to return to it as soon as all the readers of the INSTRUCTOR have read, learned, and inwardly digested this symphony or prelude to the Poetry of Life.
THE LAST OF THE ROMAN TRIBUNES. THE story of the rise and fall of Rienzi, which has engaged the congenial pens of Byron and Bulwer, and even kindled the phlegmatic Gibbon into a transient enthusiasm, is one possessed of no common interest. To the reader who has waded through the interminable chronicle of Italian wars and dissensions, the career of Rienzi has much of moral grandeur, and will probably be long eagerly turned to by the historical student as one of the few bright episodes in the waste of modern Italian history.
It was in 1346, five hundred years since, that Nicolas Cola di Rienzi appeared prominently on the stage of active life. But before sketching his brief but glorious career, it will be necessary shortly to glance at the social condition of Italy, and particularly of Rome. About the beginning of the eleventh century, Italy began to assume the form of regular and settled governments, and to emerge from the scene of universal anarchy which followed the breaking up of the Roman empire. Then the arts began to flourish; the nobles to acknowledge the authority of law; and commerce to give a legitimate employment to the people. But while Milan, Florence, and Genoa were thus forming independent republics, under whose shade civilisation was resuming its ancient march, Rome, the capital of the country, unhappily did not participate in the beneficial movement. The papal government was feeble and disorderly, and altogether incapable of repressing the license of the nobles, or curbing the unmanageable passions of the populace. Faction continued to oppose faction; pope was occasionally set up against pope; and foreign arms were not seldom called in to settle the rage of contending parties. In the midst of the confusion, the popes were often forced for safety to retire temporarily to the adjacent cities of Italy. At length the interference of the French power, and perhaps the wish of the papal, induced the latter, under Clement V., to prefer as a permanent residence the town of Avignon, in the south of France. This event took place in 1305. Rome, thus deprived of her chief magistrate, was left a prey to the discordant elements within it. The feuds of the rival houses of the Colonna and the Ursini were inveterate and had been of long standing; and the absence of a superior power was the prelude to the most outrageous abuses. The opposing nobles for tified their houses, whence they issued to oppress the people and plunder the peaceful ships which ventured into the Tiber. Even the wives and daughters of the citizens were not safe from the lust of those insolent lords. Battles were
fought in the streets-rapacity and violence reigned uncontrolled.
In the midst of these lamentable social convulsions, Rome produced a mind worthy of the best periods of her history. Nicolas Cola di Rienzi was the son of an innkeeper, and was born in the humblest and most despicable part of the city. But his parents, though poor, managed to confer on their son an education much superior to his station; and as Rienzi grew to manhood, his susceptible mind dwelt with rapture over the pages of the old Roman historians. He beheld with deep chagrin the ancient magnificence and glory of his country in those times when Rome was the capital of the world, and could boast of her orators, poets, and warriors worthy to entitle her to the proud pre-eminence. His mind brooded in secret over the degradation of the evil times on which he had fallen, compared with the grandeur of the past; and, hopeless though the enterprise appeared, he determined to devote his life to the re
generation of his country. An occasion for distinguishing The himself was long sought and at length obtained. people having arranged an embassy to their sovereign at Avignon, Rienzi's spirit and eloquence recommended him to a place amongst the deputies from the commons. Avignon he met, and had the satisfaction of conversing with and securing the friendship of a kindred spirit, the illustrious Petrarch, then in the full blaze of his wellearned fame. A more important consequence of his visit was the approval of the pope, who seems to have been captivated by the bold and fervid eloquence of Rienzi while expatiating on the miseries of his country; and as a special mark of his favour, the pope, influenced, it is said, by Petrarch, conferred on Rienzi the office of apostolic notary in Rome. This office allowed Rienzi to draw a salary of five gold florins per diem; and, what was of superior consequence, permitted him certain powers of interference in the management of the affairs of Rome, in the use of which his influence was invariably exercised to protect the citizens against the oppressions of the nobles. The latter do not seem to have understood the character of Rienzi; and Rienzi himself was probably desirous that they should not, for it would appear that he was occasionally invited to their feasts to amuse them with badinage and buffoonery. For the people his entertainments were of a very different nature. The monuments and inscriptions profusely scattered through the city in the days of Rienzi were by him explained and commented on in a style which excited the passions and hopes of his audiences, and prepared them to anticipate a time when an attempt would be made to restore the ancient glory of the republic. The privileges of Rome,' says Gibbon, 'her eternal sovereignty over her princes and governors, was the theme of his public and private discourse; and a monument of servitude became in his hands a title and incentive of liberty. The decree of the senate, which granted the most ample prerogatives to the Emperor Vespasian, had been inscribed on a copper-plate in the choir of the church of St John Lateran. A numerous assembly of nobles and plebeians was invited to this political lecture, and a convenient theatre was erected for their reception. The notary appeared in a magnificent and mysterious habit, explained the inscription by a version and commentary, and descanted with eloquence and zeal on the ancient glories of the senate and people, from whom all legal authority was derived.'
The supineness of the nobles, confident in their own strength, was favourable to the designs of Rienzi. By them he was believed to be merely an eloquent and clever buffoon, and treated with no feeling save that of contempt. But they were speedily undeceived. The notary did not propose making them parties to his plans; and while they were allowed to riot and oppress, Rienzi was busily engaged amongst the citizens, stimulating the more trustworthy and resolute to join in his enterprise for the restoration of what he styled la buona stata (the good estate).
The moment at length approached for the development of his designs. He had already, by his persuasive address, secured the approbation of the pope's legate in Rome, the Bishop of Orvietto; and, after selecting a hundred trusty followers, it was arranged that on the evening of the next day, the people, unarmed, should be summoned by sound of trumpet, to attend before the church of St Angelo. Even yet the nobles did not take the alarm. The whole night was allowed to be spent in the church by the conspirators, in the celebration of religious rites; and in the morning Rienzi, bareheaded, but in complete armour, and surrounded by his friends, issued forth to begin his perilous enterprise. The pope's vicar marched on his right hand, and three great standards, emblematic of his design, floated above him. The procession, swelled by ever-increasing crowds, moved forwards to the capitol; and Rienzi, having ascended the citadel of the republic, harangued the people. His exposure of the miseries of Rome and the development of his own scheme of government were hailed with accla mation by the assembled thousands.
The revolution was in fact accomplished, for the nobles, destitute of arms or counsel, were paralysed. The most powerful, Stephen Colonna, was absent from the city; but despising the movement, and still more the humble instrument by whom it had been accomplished, he immediately returned with his retainers, threatening to throw Rienzi from the windows of the capitol. His threat seemed more likely to be turned against himself; for the proud old man was besieged in his own palace by the forces of Rienzi, and only saved himself by precipitate flight. His example was followed by the other nobles, who prudently and peaceably obeyed a general order to retire from the city, leaving the daring revolutionist at leisure to form laws for the restoration and maintenance of the tranquillity of Rome. To effect this object a council was appointed to co-operate with Rienzi, who, despising more ambitious titles, contented himself with the ancient and modest appellation of tribune. In this character he enacted the most salutary laws. The privilege which had been claimed by the nobles of fortifying their palaces was abolished; the defence of the state was provided for by a regular militia; and the barons were rendered responsible for the safety of the highways and the free passage of provisions. After restoring order amongst the forces and finances of Rome, it was determined that the haughty nobles should be recalled, and compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the new government and submission to its laws. The decree was obeyed; the heads of the Colonna and Ursini, the Savelli and Frangipani, successively appearing before the tribunal of the plebeian reformer, and promising, with oaths and adjurations, to uphold the new order of things. The success of the revolution was splendid and complete-marred by no violence and tarnished by no treachery. To use the striking language of the historian of the period- A den of robbers was converted to the discipline of a camp or convent. Patient to bear, swift to redress, inexorable to punish, his tribunal was always accessible to the poor and stranger; nor could birth, or dignity, or the immunities of the church protect the offender or his accomplices. The privileged houses, the private sanctuaries in Rome, on which Bo officer of justice would presume to trespass, were abolished; and he applied the timber and iron of their barricades in the fortifications of the capitol.' 'In his time,' says another authority, the woods began to rejoice that they were no longer infested with robbers; the oxen began to plough; the pilgrims visited the sanctuaries; the roads and inns were replenished with travellers; trade, plenty, and good faith were restored in the markets; and a purse of gold might be exposed without danger in the midst of the highway.' The impartiality of the tribune's laws was vindicated in the case of Martin Ursini, the head of the noble house of that name. Amongst other acts of violence, this baron was convicted of having aided in the pillage of a shipwrecked vessel at the mouth of the Tiber. He was condemned to death for the crime; and not all the influence of his name or relatives could shield the culprit from the offended majesty of the .aws which he had contemned. The death of Martin Ursini was the signal for the flight of the idle and licentious from the city and territory of Rome; and the country, thus purged of the pests which had afflicted it, began once more to experience the blessings of settled government. To spread these blessings was the first desire of Rienzi. He had delivered Rome from the hands of its insolent and selfish tyrants; his next idea was to attempt the regeneration of the whole of Italy, by uniting the various scattered republics into one great federative baily. With this object he detached ambassadors to the different states, who, if unsuccessful in their mission, were at least received everywhere with respect and distinction. The name of Rienzi became known and revered far beyond the confines of his country. The King of Hungary referred to his decision a weighty and important case; and Petrarch at Avignon sang his praises as the saviour of Italy.
A career of continued prosperity is probably as difficult to sustain as its opposite; and Rienzi, in the full flush of Success, offended the people by displays of vanity and needes ostentation; and by summoning the pope and car
dinals to Rome, there to reside during his pleasure, he lost the countenance of the papal power. In the meanwhile, however, the humiliation of the proud aristocracy of Rome was complete. Bareheaded, their hands crossed on their breast,' says a cotemporary (the first biographer of Rienzi), they stood before the tribune while he sat-their looks downcast-oh! how frightened they were!' But it was not in human nature to submit to this degradation without a struggle. The heads of the Colonna and Ursini families secretly associated together to murder the tribune and subvert his government. Their designs were discovered to Rienzi by the assassin they had employed; and while they were yet ignorant of the circumstance, Rienzi invited his leading enemies to a grand banquet, in place of which they found themselves prisoners, and a council assembled to adjudicate on their contemplated crime. After a solemn trial the conspirators were condemned to die on the following morning. But Rienzi, dreading the effect of this severity, which would have annihilated the Roman nobility, and raised up against him a new host of enemies, decided on offering the condemned their lives, provided they would renew their oath of allegiance to the state. Glad to escape from their peril on any terms, the oath was eagerly taken-to be again broken, and again to receive fitting punishment. Having escaped from the city, and raised the standard of revolt, they ravaged the country around, sweeping away the flocks and herds, and destroying the harvests and vineyards. Rienzi was at first unsuccessful in quelling the rebellion, and was compelled to retire into the capitol. The insurgents followed, with the intention of chasing him from the city. A dreadful reverse awaited them. Attempting to enter the gates of Rome, they were driven back by the forces of Rienzi with fearful slaughter. The house of the Colonna was the most extensive sufferer, its venerable head being left to mourn over the loss of six members of his family, including three sons.
This new danger successfully overcome, the tribune seems to have been betrayed into acts of presumption and injudicious ostentation, which tended to alienate the minds of the people. The ceremony of knighthood was conferred on his son on the spot where the nobles had fallen, and the people were scandalised to behold the son of the plebeian receive ablution from a pool of water yet mixed with the blood of the fallen Colonna. An opposition gradually arose against his measures. Attempting to impose a new tax, his council demurred and voted against the measure. The pope and college of cardinals, stung by the recent insult offered to them, stepped in to complete the unpopularity of Rienzi. A legate was sent to Rome, with power to excommunicate the tribune, in case he should prove refractory; and after several unsuccessful interviews, the dreaded bull of excommunication was fulminated against him. Rienzi, dispirited but not subdued, still maintained his position. He owed his elevation to the free suffrages of the Roman people; and till they deprived him of his office, he determined to retain the government. The fickleness and cowardice of the Romans speedily furnished him with a pretext to withdraw; for, on the Count de Minorbino, at the instigation of the remaining barons, entering Rome with a small force, the tribune found that the great bell, the sound of which had never as yet failed to collect thousands of devoted citizens to the help of the good estate, had now lost its charm. The count was allowed to seize the city without resistance; and Rienzi, deprived of everything but a few followers, dejectedly retired to the castle of St Angelo. The acts of the tribune were abolished, and his person proscribed; yet such was the influence of his name that he was allowed quietly to hold possession of St Angelo for some weeks, during which he vainly laboured to revive the affections of the people. Hopeless of regaining his power, the tribune doffed his splendid robes, and, assuming the disguise of a monk or pilgrim, escaped from the castle.
So ended the first act in the drama of Rienzi's history. It was a stirring and grand, though brief, reign; for the whole of the events just recorded were crowded into seven