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than that of the crowds whose part in it was that of onlookers and mourners only. It was in Capponi's unaffected identification of himself with the character and interests of his countrymen that the secret of their devotion to him lay. The Senator Marco Tabarrini, in his oration on the occasion, said: • The people could not take measure of the loftiness of his mind, but they felt instinctively that his heart beat in unison with theirs. They saw him abstemious as regards the luxury ' which humiliates, and the pride which gives offence; they saluted him in the national feasts; they beheld him sorrowing
in the common misfortunes, praying at the common altars; ' for Capponi was a Christian, and the religious sentiment which for him comprehended all forms of good, raised and ennobled every other affection.'
There was another pathetic circumstance attending the death of Gino Capponi, which to all denizens of Florence helped to give it the aspect of a national event. With him died out one of the most illustrious and characteristic of her historic races. The Capponi belonged to the grossi popolani, sometimes also styled popolani grassi, or again nobili popolani, the burgher-aristocracy of the Republic, which built its greatness on commerce after the feudal aristocracy had been forced out of the field of civic power. They are said to have derived their wealth from the silk trade, which ranked high among the Arti maggiori. They furnished Florence with some of her most eminent statesmen; and while we hear of no Capponi who brought dishonour on his name, several of the race achieved signal distinction in their country's annals.
Gino Alessandro Capponi was baptised in orthodox Florentine fashion, at the font of St. John the Baptist, on the 15th of September, 1792. His mother was a Frescobaldi; one of the families, not of the burgher, but of the feudal aristocracy of the State. Among his intimate early associates were J. B. Niccolini, the distinguished dramatic author, and Cesare Balbo. When twenty-six years of age he was known in England as the friend of Ugo Foscolo, and as sharing in those aspirations for Italian liberty which were alternately bursting forth and being stified in the hearts of Florentines and Milanese and Romans after the Peace. The copy of this history which the author was good enough to send us last year is inscribed in his own hand, “By the Author, old acquaintance of Mr. * Jeffrey, Dr. Brewster, and Mr. Brougham' As time went on, all the distinguished men of letters of his country were drawn more or less into connexion with the influential nobleman whose wealth and taste led him to promote literary effort as well as patriotic impulse. In conjunction with the well-knowa bookseller John Peter Vieusseux, he set up the ' Antologia' at Florence, which counted among its contributors Tommaseo, Mazzini, Matteucci, Sclopis, and other eminent men. A curious anecdote has been told us arising out of his relations with Vieusseux. It was the Marquis's practice to place a sum of money in the publisher's hands, for the purpose of supplying the necessities of deserving persons who might be involved in difficulties. After Vieusseux's death, a letter was found among his papers, addressed to the Marquis, stating that up to the time of its date he had not made use of the fund, but that he had just met with a young man of singular merit, to whom he had now advanced a part: the young man's name was Giuseppe Garibaldi. To Capponi the unhappy poet Leopardi was deeply indebted for the offices of friendship. Leopardi addressed his . Palinodia' to the candido, lodato Gino. Colletta's History of Naples was published under Capponi's auspices. Guerrazzi dedicated to him his novel Isabella • Orsini.' Giusti, to whom latterly he gave a home under his roof, and who died in his arms, loved him with unbounded and touching devotion, and inscribed to him his • Terra de Morti.' The Marquis's temporary residence at Munich in 1841, where he sought the aid of skilled advice (unhappily in vain) to avert his threatened blindness, brought him into contact with Schelling, Görres, Döllinger and other German authors. Physical calamity and domestic sorrow kept him for a while in retirement, though not in mental inertness ; but the events of 1848 stirred him to take an active part in his country's fortunes. He was entrusted with the formation of the liberal cabinet to which the Grand Duke of Tuscany found himself driven to commit the conduct of affairs; but his power was shortlived; he did not go far enough for Montanelli and others. Nevertheless, when the Grand Duke took flight a few months afterwards, and the Tuscan Senate deliberated in perplexity, it was Gino Capponi who stood up and exclaimed, "If the Prince is not to • be found, the people have the right to choose that form of
government which shall seem to them best;' words which were immediately followed by the proclamation of the Republic. The lengths to which the democratic government and the Constituent Assembly were disposed to go, threw the Capponiani, as the followers of the Marchese were called, * into the
* Or Sanbastiani, from the name of the street, San Sebastiano, in which the Capponi Palazzo was situated—now to have its name changed to that of the Via Gino Capponi.
ranks of reaction; but their leader himself, shrinking from reactionary policy, withdrew from public life, till the year 1859 again opened a vista to the hopes of moderate liberalism. He then tried to force upon the Grand Duke a consciousness of the impending crisis; but his warnings were rejected. He was made president of the Council of State in the brief Provisional Government appointed by the King of Sardinia; and when the new Kingdom of Italy was established, he was first deputed to the Constituent Assembly as representative of Tuscany, and afterwards took his place as a member of the Senate. The calm enjoyments of literature and friendship gilded his later years; his society was sought by all foreigners of distinction who visited his city, and on whom his varied conversation, marvellous memory, and singularly noble presence never failed to make profound impression. He survived to witness the admiration with which the chief literary achievement of his life was received ; and was called away to his desired rest after an illness of a few days only.
A monument in Santa Croce, the Florentine Valhalla, and a marble bust on the Pincian Hill, have been decreed as tokens of the public esteem of this eminent Italian. But no monument of him will preserve his memory so proudly as the literary work which it is our business now to describe—truly a wonderful legacy for an octogenarian statesman and a sightless scholar to have bequeathed to his fellow-countrymen.
Of its origin the Marquis himself gives the following account. A French lady, Madame Hortense Allart, known in Italy and in France by several publications of a historical nature, put forth in 1843 a concise narrative of the Florentine Republic, which had great merit, and was translated into Italian by Signor Alessandro Carraresi. Gino Capponi on looking over this book judged that for Italian readers it was somewhat disproportioned in the measure given to different parts and subjects; and he occupied himself in suggesting notes and alterations in it, till he found his thoughts altogether steeped in the history of Florence. In difficult and anxious times the subject became a rest and resource to him, and by degrees the present composition took shape. What stimulated its author the most to its completion was the knowledge that the French historian and statesman M. Thiers had the idea in his mind of writing a history of the Florentine Republic as being an important subject of study in these days of advancing democracy. A German writer in the · Deutsche Rundschau' (April, 1875), who visited Capponi in 1873, was told by him that the work was not destined to see the light till after his
death; but happily this intention was changed at the instance of the Baron Alfred von Reumont, who was so strongly impressed with its merits after reading it in manuscript that he persuaded the venerable author not to defer enriching Italian literature with so valuable a monument.
For familiar conversance with facts, delicate portrayal of character, acute criticism of moral and mental phenomena, and tempered enthusiasm for the picturesque aspects of human affairs, as well as for lucidity and force of language, this work is undoubtedly a literary monument of very high mark. The author adopts the narrative rather than the philosophic style. He recounts, indeed, with a tranquil judgment of causes near and remote which justify his right to be considered a historian of the philosophic class; but he does not argue or analyse like a Hallam or a Sismondi. He tells his story as the old Italian chroniclers and epic poets were wont to tell their storiescolloquially, almost garrulously, not striving to make points, or to state evidence, but moving on from incident to incident, as though he had been an actual spectator of the events described, and was mainly anxious to make his hearers understand in what form they had happened. Sometimes we are reminded of Herodotus, sometimes of Ariosto, by his facile yet earnest manner of story-telling. And yet the Marquis knows how owopwvífelv on occasion; and when he assumes a didactic position, as when contemplating the causes and results of the Ciompi outbreak, does it with authority, and not as do the Scribes of the ordinary lecture-room ; laying down his axioms with the calm experience of a sage who has made up his mind as to the lessons to be drawn from this or that complication of human affairs, and assuming his dicta as granted for all present purposes.
Nevertheless on the whole we rather desiderate a clear expression of what the writer's ultimate opinion is as to the lessons to be derived from the political history of Florence. His sympathies seem to be called out in various directions, and not always in the same direction as his judgment. He evidently exults in the joyous energetic life of what he terms the heroic
age' in the city's annals, when already the fallacious theory, as he considers it, of founding government on trade fraternisation had been established, and the State machinery was by his admission emphatically bad. For the levelling tendencies of the succeeding time, ending in the Ciompi convulsion, he entertains evident antipathy; his feelings incline him, there can be little doubt, to the oligarchic reaction under the Ottimati, far more than to any other rule or party in the city's history; yet theoretically he condemns that government by the Few' as unconstitutional and arbitrary, and to be admired only as a happy accident. For the rule of the Medici he has no approval or sympathy, considering it as corrupt in principle and demoralising in effect. But he brings to the front its better aspects, its citizen-like absence of display, its association with popular traditions. The short-lived presidencies of Savonarola and Soderini claim his interest; but he sees that they were anachronisms, the benevolent enthusiasms of revivalists who could not discern the track on which the world was advancing. Had the Marquis Capponi lived in the early part of the sixteenth century, we cannot doubt that he would himself have belonged to the doctrinaire school which worked its brains so hard to devise a "governo 'misto' on the model of Venice as the best possible constitution for a Florentine republic, just when a republic in Florence had become impossible. His own political standing point was always that of one a little behind his times ; too much governed by the past to dare greatly, too large-minded to favour reaction. As little could the political wiseacres of 1530 set the old commonwealth of Florence on its legs again, as the Capponiani of 1848 could keep Tuscany from following where the novel combinations of national affairs led her.
Our remarks in the ensuing pages will be mainly directed to the internal workings of the Florentine democracy, and we shall be compelled to forego the pleasure of dwelling on those elaborate and instructive portions of his work where the Marquis Capponi has described the formation of the language and literature of Tuscany, and has weighed the characteristics of its greatest writers. This he has done in a spirit of independence, and with a store of knowledge which render his opinions especially valuable; and the forcible wording in which they are conveyed testifies to an earnestness based on thorough ripeness of thought. We can merely refer to his account of Dante, who designed to infuse into his great poem ‘his whole being, thus seeking to consecrate to Love all the powers of his will. But within and without the unstable mind stood impediments of every sort, hinted at by him, and known to himself alone; and “ ditches crossed his path, and fetters bound him.” ?
And of Petrarch, who 'created for himself that new phenomenon, the life of a literary man, and derived from it a fame such as, perhaps, no other ever enjoyed tranquil, constant, free from animosities, and little hurt by offences, to which nevertheless, he was peculiarly sensitive; and after his death