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The best volumes of the Florentine collection are the two that contain the Relazioni on Rome and the Popes during the sixteenth century. A biography of each ambassador precedes his reports, giving in full all facts touching on public life in Venice, and drawn in the main from a curious source of contemporaneous history. There are among the treasures of the library of St. Mark fifty-eight folio volumes in manuscript, bearing the modest title of "Diarii di Marin Sanuto," commencing in 1496, and ending in 1533. Its author, who as Senator and historian had full access to public and private sources of information, gives day by day an account of the political news, the administrative or municipal changes, the discourses in the tribune and in council, the despatches and reports from abroad, with the current opinions of his friends and colleagues. After his death, the Council of Ten took possession of all the papers left by Sanuto; and in the eighteenth century they were carefully copied, annotated, indexed, and bound.
The first person to use and to make known the proper use of these invaluable treasures was Mr. Rawdon Brown, an English gentleman, long resident in Venice, who in 1837 published three volumes of selections from them.* Sanuto gives simply and concisely each day's news and opinions, with its suppositions and flying rumors, echoes of the crowd of talkers who filled the Piazza of St. Mark with their discussions, their contradictions, their gossip, their beliefs, and their doubts. These little hints and indications of the popular currents of public opinion show that, as Venice was unfortunate in the field, so it learned to achieve success in the art of government, to use the refinement of scientific diplomacy, and to stop even on the brink of what seemed final disaster. The risks, the dangers, the contests of the Republic required from its ambassadors and enforced upon them incessant activity, prudence, dexterity, and a vigilance elsewhere unknown. The safety and independence, even the existence of Venice, were by turns their reward and their aim.
* His work was entitled: “Ragguagli sulla Vita e sulle Opere di Marin Sanuto detto il juniore, Veneto patrizio e cronista pregevolissimo dei secoli XV., XVI., intitolati dall' amicizia di uno straniero al nobile Jacopo Vincenzo Foscarini. Opera divisa in 3 parti." Venezia, dalla tipografia di Alvisopoli. 1837.
Among the curious and interesting material collected by M. Baschet are the notes of a mission to Rome, made by Leonardo Dona, preserved in the archives of the family of Dona della Rosa. These notes show how an ambassador of Venice did his work, and what that work embraced; with what care he collected all preparatory knowledge and means of knowledge, with how much research he sought information, how painstaking the process by which his first impressions reached the stage of conviction, and how all things were fitted for the solemn and weighty close of his labors, the Relazione. We see here, and at length, the gradual development and final accomplishment of the functions of an ambassador, -functions which only the finer adaptation of Italian to the language of politics can define: "l' intendere e l'avisare, le negoziare e le riferire." It was thus that the diplomatists of Venice, who best knew their office, learned to fulfil its duties. It is not surprising, therefore, that finally, and for a long series of years, Venice became the arbiter between the armed rivals of the rest of Europe.
The extent to which other governments looked to Venice and sought aid from it in matters of diplomacy, is exhibited in an unpublished collection called Espozioni Principi, a series of negotiations, public and private, between foreign courts, carried on at and through the Republic. In a report from Paris in the stormy days of Catherine de Medicis, Correro tells the Senate that French merchants often asked if they could invest their money in Venice, if its zecca were open; "for they knew that it was a sure haven, a country of one religion, of one government, of one law, where all men lived without fear and in the peaceable enjoyment of their property." The contrast between the Venice of that day and the Venice of this is not stronger or more impressive, than the lesson to be drawn from the political life of Venice then and now. The diplomacy of Venice died when Venice died; but it left an invaluable legacy in the monuments of its greatness, worthy of our study and admiration.
1. Girard College and its Founder. By HENRY W. AREY, Secretary of the Girard College. Philadelphia. 1852.
2. Biography of Stephen Girard. By STEPHEN SIMPSON, Esq. Second Edition. Philadelphia: Thomas L. Bonsal. 1832. 3. Annual Reports of the Board of Directors of the Girard College for Orphans. Philadelphia. 1848 to 1863.
WITHIN the memory of many persons still alive, "old Girard," as the famous banker was usually styled, a short, stout, brisk old gentleman, used to walk, in his swift, awkward way, the streets of the lower part of Philadelphia. Though everything about him indicated that he had very little in common with his fellow-citizens, he was the marked man of the city for more than a generation. His aspect was rather insignificant and quite unprepossessing. His dress was old-fashioned and shabby; and he wore the pig-tail, the white neck-cloth, the wide-brimmed hat, and the large-skirted coat of the last century. He was blind of one eye; and though his bushy eyebrows gave some character to his countenance, it was curiously devoid of expression. He had also the absent look of a man who either had no thoughts or was absorbed in thought; and he shuffled along on his enormous feet, looking neither to the right nor to the left. There was always a certain look of the old mariner about him, though he had been fifty years an inhabitant of the town. When he rode, it was in the plainest, least comfortable gig in Philadelphia, drawn by an ancient and ill-formed horse, driven always by the master's own hand at a good pace. He chose still to live where he had lived for fifty years, in Water Street, close to the wharves, in a small and inconvenient house, darkened by tall storehouses, amid the bustle, the noise, and the odors of commerce. His sole pleasure was to visit once a day a little farm which he possessed a few miles out of town, where he was wont to take off his coat, roll up his shirt-sleeves, and personally labor in the field and in the barn, hoeing corn, pruning trees, tossing hay, and not disdaining even to assist in butchering the animals which he raised for market. It was no mere ornamental or experimental
farm. He made it pay. All of its produce was carefully, nay, scrupulously husbanded, sold, recorded, and accounted for. He loved his grapes, his plums, his pigs, and especially his rare breed of Canary-birds; but the people of Philadelphia had the full benefit of their increase-at the highest market rates.
Many feared, many served, but none loved this singular and lonely old man. If there was among the very few who habitually conversed with him one who understood and esteemed him, there was but one; and he was a man of such abounding charity, that, like Uncle Toby, if he had heard that the Devil was hopelessly damned, he would have said, "I am sorry for it." Never was there a person more destitute than Girard of the qualities which win the affection of others. His temper was violent, his presence forbidding, his usual manner ungracious, his will inflexible, his heart untender, his imagination dead. He was odious to many of his fellow-citizens, who considered him the hardest and meanest of men. He had lived among them for half a century, but he was no more a Philadelphian in 1830 than in 1776. He still spoke with a French accent, and accompanied his words with a French shrug and French gesticulation. Surrounded with Christian churches which he had helped to build, he remained a sturdy unbeliever, and possessed the complete works of only one man, Voltaire. He made it a point of duty to labor on Sunday, as a good example to others. He made no secret of the fact, that he considered the idleness of Sunday an injury to the people, moral and economical. He would have opened his bank on Sundays, if any one would have come to it. For his part, he required no rest, and would have none. He never travelled. He never attended public assemblies or amusements. He had no affections to gratify, no friends to visit, no curiosity to appease, no tastes to indulge. What he once said of himself appeared to be true, that he rose in the morning with but a single object, and that was to labor so hard all day as to be able to sleep all night. The world was absolutely nothing to him but a working-place. He scorned and scouted the opinion, that old men should cease to labor, and should spend the evening of their days in tranquillity. "No," he would say, "labor is the price of life, its happiness, its everything; to rest is to rust; every man should labor
to the last hour of his ability."
Such was Stephen Girard,
the richest man who ever lived in Pennsylvania.
This is an unpleasing picture of a citizen of polite and amiable Philadelphia. It were indeed a grim and dreary world in, which should prevail the principles of Girard. But see what this man has done for the city that loved him not! Vast and imposing structures rise on the banks of the Schuylkill, wherein, at this hour, six hundred poor orphan boys are fed, clothed, trained, and taught, upon the income of the enormous estate which he won by this entire consecration to the work of accumulating property. In the ample grounds of Girard College, looking up at its five massive marble edifices, strolling in its shady walks or by its verdant play-grounds, or listening to the cheerful cries of the boys at play, the most sympathetic and imaginative of men must pause before censuring the sterile and unlovely life of its founder. And if he should inquire closely into the character and career of the man who willed this great institution into being, he would perhaps be willing to admit that there was room in the world for one Girard, though it were a pity there should ever be another. Such an inquiry would perhaps disclose that Stephen Girard was endowed by nature with a great heart as well as a powerful mind, and that circumstances alone closed and hardened the one, cramped and perverted the other. It is not improbable that he was one of those unfortunate beings who desire to be loved, but whose temper and appearance combine to repel affection. His marble statue, which adorns the entrance to the principal building, if it could speak, might say to us, "Living, you could not understand nor love me; dead, I compel at least your respect." Indeed, he used to say, when questioned as to his career, "Wait till I am dead; my deeds will show what I was. "
Girard's recollections of his childhood were tinged with bitterness. He was born at Bordeaux in 1750. He was the eldest of the five children of Captain Pierre Girard, a mariner of substance and respectability. He used to complain that, while his younger brothers were taught at college, his own education was neglected, and that he acquired at home little more than the ability to read and write. He remembered, too, that at the age of eight vears he discovered, to his shame and sorrow, that