life, can form an idea of a life that was standers, women and children, rise up contented to enact itself upon so small in fear, Accorr'uomo." The dense a stage. Here, on this the true empo- crowd retreats, and when the execurium of Florentine commerce, were tioner arrives with his followers, always gathered together shopkeepers, mer- too late of course - justice, then as chants, doctors, idlers, gamblers, rus- now, was never up to time- the victim tics, apothecaries, rogues, maidservants, already lies on the ground in a pool of courtiers, beggars, huxters, and gay blood. oands of spendthrifts. Here, too, were Such the dramas, the faits divers of to be found merchandise of every sort those days, which every now and again and kind : fresh meat, fruit, cheese, disturbed the peace of our ancestors. vegetables, game, poultry, linen, flow- The burgher story-tellers who fulfilled ers, pottery, barrels, and second-hand the office of our modern newspapers furniture. The street-boys, mischiev- rarely tell of these cruel acts. They ous and quick-tongued even then, took prefer to dwell on the tricks and practiup their permanent abode there, as if it cal jokes with which the merry folk were their proper home ; here, too, rats amused themselves, eternal source of held perpetual carnival. In short, fireside talk when the housemates were people and things from all parts of the gathered together before the andirons then known globe were gathered to- of those huge open hearths, under gether in this tiny space.

No day whose blackened chimneys the family passed that some disturbance did not assembled before the hour of putting occur, some quarrel, some alarm. Thus out the lights should sound, after which a horse became obstreperous, and every whosoever went last to bed would ascerperson shouted at the top of their tain that the barrels were well closed voices for help, “ Accorr’uomo ;” the and the doors and windows tightly Piazza dei Signori was filled up with shut. They were always ready for a the runaways, the palace door was laugh, this people — always ready to bastily shut, the family armed itself, forget the terrors of the other world and so did the followers of the captain held up to them by their priests, and and of the executioner ; some for very calculated by their weird horrors to fear hid under their beds, to come out damp the most buoyant spirits. The after the tumult had subsided covered incredulity of the new age already bewith dirt and cobwebs. Two mules gan to peep forth, mocking at the pecked at by crows would begin to kick priests, and also a little at the miracles and jump over the stalls of the sellers. and many like impostures. The mockOnce again all the shops were hastily ers and scoffers who laughed at others, shut, and serious quarrels would arise and sought to deceive their neighbors between the linen - drapers and the and the world, called themselves a new butchers on account of the harm done men,” and their mischievous doctrines by these infuriated beasts. Sometimes“ new things.' The group of people even graver disputes arose. Gamblers that gathered around the counters of and keepers of gaming-tables would shops and under the loggie, that nestled come to blows, and such a scene be close to the palaces, made the place enacted as is represented in the fresco re-echo with their clear, silvery laughin the Monastery of Lecceto near ter, to which the knot of whispering Siena. The dice fall on the table in women corresponded, who clustered such a manner that one of the players chatting beside their house doors. The loses ; he springs to his feet maddened artists, or, as they then called themby the stroke of ill-luck, and stretching selves, the artificers, were the most out his arms clutches the winner by the ingenious plotters of practical jokes, throat ; the other, pale with fear and concocted between one stroke of thé anger, seeks in vain for the avenging brush and another. The memory of knife; oaths break out from the lips of them endured for a long while, so much the combatants; the voices of the by- I so that Vasari has incorporated into his

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" Lives” various of those which the you will see how excellent it will benovelists had not consigned into their come.” Soccebonel did as he was told, chronicles of citizen life. “ It has ever and then took the cloth to the shearer. been that among painters are found When he went to fetch it back, he new men,” says Sacchetti ; and Bon- asked how much he had to pay. amico Buffalmacco, immortalized in the seems to me, nine braccia,” said the “Decamerone,” and the names of Bar- shearer ; “therefore give me nine soltolo Gioggi, Bruno di Giovanni, Filippo di.? Nine braccia," said the other, di Ser Brunellesco, Paolo Uccello, and “ alas ! they measure, but the cloth Donatello, recall to our memories tricks does not grow under their hands." played on a certain Calandrino and on Soccebonel runs to the cutter, runs the Fat Carpenter, besides many others hither and thither, in his despair. At who were the victims of these merci- last he is told that these Florentine less high spirits. But the mad wish to cloths do not grow in water, and one joke and laugh was caught also by man tells him about a person who grauder people, and from the work- bought a braccio of Florentine cloth, shops of artificers it entered into those kept it in water, and by next morning of the apothecaries; it took possession it had shrunk so that there was none of the doctors, of the judges, of the left. proctors, it even climbed up into the But whoever searches the mercantile palace to enliven the dulness of the codes amidst the dust of libraries and priori obliged to stay here shut up far archives will find that they all concur away from wife and child, simple men in condemning such tricks. All of of simple habits, both men and habits these papers, each of which begins, bearing the stamp of ancient boorish- “ In the name of the Father, Amen,”

Thus the whole Signoria slept in are pervaded by instances of good exone room, a fact that gave occasion for amples, and all breathe excellent cusmany jokes, that indeed provoked them. toms, wise saws, and honest rules. So simple, truly, were these signori, Their theoretical precepts were clearly that it was not uncommon for the pro- inspired by the most severe morality. vost of the priori to go himself into the One of these sapient scribes says: kitchen to broil his own slice of meat.

Bear well in mind that when you proThe tricks and pranks played bordered often, it must be owned, on roguery ;

nounce a sentence you go on straightforbut a good laugh at the expense of the wardly, loyally, and justly, and do not let

yourself be swayed aside from this either person who was in the wrong, and on

by bribes, love, or fear, by relationship or whom the joke bad been perpetrated, friendship, or for the sake of a companion.

considered to put everything For the person against whom you give your square. For in these days, when every- sentence will be your enemy, and he whom body thought of themselves and of you would serve will hold you neither their own interests, public opinion had honest, nor loyal, nor straightforward ; he no pity or compassion on the man who will, instead, always distrust and despise let himself be befooled. By common you. consent all manner of wily tricks were Immediately after, a little below, we permitted to merchants, and the Flor

read : entine traders were famous for their great cunning. Sacchetti tells what If you have need in trade or in any other happened to a certain Soccebonel of business of the friendship of any lord or Friuli who went to buy some cloth from proprietor, I advise that with carefully one of them ; he measured out four chosen presents you curry his favor ; watch

those who are of his household, above all canes, but then managed to steal his secretary, and make friends with him ; half the amount. To cover the fraud, you can present him with some little thing the merchant said to Soccebonel, “ If to his taste, asking help and counsel of him you want to do well with this cloth, that he may teach you how best to find leave it to soak all night in water, and favor in his master's eyes.




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Nor is this all.

Our practical moralist every action. It would be useless to gives yet another useful counsel : look for the sentiment that inspires the

When you buy oats, look out that the modern family, where for women is measure is not filled too quickly, for it will reserved so noble a rôle, such honoralways sink two or three per cent. ; but able and tender offices. Those poor when you sell, fill quickly and your oats will Florentine mothers had to be contented grow. Always speak well of the mem- with such humble activity as the tyrbers of the Commune ; live in charity with anny of their husbands permitted to your neighbors, because they always are the them, and to live, or rather to drag out, first to speak of your affairs, and in honor their lives in those gloomy, squalid or dishonor they may make or mar you.

houses, taking care of the children, It was thus these men of yore coun- visiting the churches, and confessing selled their sons, who grew up quick to the friars their manifold sins of dewitted and expert in the art of living sire. The daughters — those girls with amid a people who were learned in all whom to-day we take such pains – the stratagens and wiles of life. What were then never even taught to read. marvel, then, that a preacher, in order “ If it is a girl, put her to sew and not to attract a congregation, and not to to read ; it is not good that a woman speak his words to the desert air, an- should know how to read unless you nounced that he would proclaim from wish to make her a nun,” thus counsels the pulpit that usury is not a sin ? and Paolo di Ser Pace da Certaldo. The so he did all through Lent and on convents were then, and for centuries Palm-Sunday to a large and attentive after, the sole refuge for these poor congregation. What we moderns term wretches. They were also a providence “log-rolling was the order of the day. for the prolific families. To have Families widened their borders and twenty or more children seemed the strengthened their connections by this most natural thing in the world. If means, usually favored by matrimonial they lived it was said, “Heaven be alliances, for capital was the one and praised ;” and if they died, “ For everyonly basis of safety, and this was upheld thing be heaven praised, Amen.” Such by a whole mass of laws and privileges. were the sentiments of the times. In The father was the despot master of all the memorandas, in domestic chronicles his personal property. He could leave in the time of great mortality, were it to whomsoever he chose, to collateral registered in such terms the deaths as relations or to some pious foundation, well as the births, with a serenity that nay, even to those children whom love to-day to loving mothers would seem had brought into his house ; and this cynicism indeed. he could do by will, a matter now These documents also hand down to impossible in Continental countries, us indisputable proofs of a singular though still possible in England, where fact that is, the intrusion in the famthe Code Napoléon ” does not obtain. ily of a new element that obscures the From this fact we can realize the im- vaunted purity of the morals of those portant place that lawyers and clerks past days. Benevolent critics find an then occupied, for disputes about testa- excuse for this because of the great ments were quite common occurrences. void made by the plague among the city A wife inheriting ab intestato had a and country dwellers, and because the right only to a fourth of her children's prospect of small wages was not enough goods, and in reality only to mere nour- to induce the men and women of the ishment. Everything conspired to pre- people to go out as domestic servants ;

the integrity of capital and hence it was necessary to look to forprevent it from leaving the family, the eign commerce to supply the defifirm, and the commune. It is a point ciency. But this reasoning hardly holds. that cannot be too much insisted on. Rather, we think, it was the trade Inside that society of merchants a with the East, the vagabond life led by greed for gain was the supreme law of the merchants, and their ever-increas

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ing wealth, that caused that traffic masters. He maliciously explains some in slaves of both sexes which lasted reasons, and tells that they often knew through two centuries, from 1300 on how to play ugly tricks on their miswards. Oriental slaves bought as live tresses, who, as Alessandra Macinghi, goods, generally through Genoese, Ve- the mother of the Strozzi, confessed netian, and Neapolitan brokers, were some years later, would avenge themchiefly Tartars, Greeks, Turks, Dalma- selves by laying hands on these same tians, and Circassians, and do not seem slaves. Still, pests though they were, to have been archetypes of beauty. it seems the families could not do withThe registers in which the notaries out them. They were the nurses, the marked down, together with the name maids-of-all-work, of their days ; and and age, the price and description of Alessandra wrote to her son Filippo

“ the points,” of the necks when at Naples : “Let me remind you and faces of the slaves bought and of the need we have of a slave, for sold, bear witness to this circumstance; so far we have always had one. nearly all had olive complexions, though give orders to have one bought, ask for some were found who had rosy skins a Tartar, for they are the best for hard and were florid and fair. The faces work, and are simple in their ways. never seemed to lack some special and The Russians are more delicate and distinctive mark some were pocked, prettier, but according to my judgment some had moles, others were scarred ; a Tartar. would be best.” Nor could the nose was generally squat and flat, Madonna Alessandra have found any the lips thick and prominent, the eyes one who could execute her commission dull and small, the foreheads low and better than Filippo, who already had freckled. To these pen-sketches made with him for a long while a slave who by pedantic and precise lawyers, some knew how to work well, and about portraits correspond that are still ex- whom his mother wrote, April 7, 1469 : tant of these women. In a rare and“ Andrea as well as Tomaso Ginori, curious book, the memoranda of Baldo- who are now with you, came to see us vinetti, in which this forebear of the on Easter day, and told me many things famous painter used to illustrate by about your household, and especially drawings his journalistic jottings, there about Marina, and the many pretty are preserved for us the portraits of ways she has with you.” And a year three slaves he bought in the years later, in an ironical tone, she says, “I 1377, 1380, 1388 : “Dorothea, a Tartar, send you the towels ; be careful that from Russia, eighteen years or more of you do not lose them, and that Madama age ; Domenica, of white skin, from Marina does not make them disappear;" Tartary ; and Veronica, sixteen years from which we gather that by cunning old, whom I bought almost naked from and pretty ways these women knew Bonaroti, son of Simon de Bonaroti” how to win over their masters and be

- that is to say, from an ancestor of come madam. They even obtained, by Michael Angelo. These three — Doro- faithful labor, good behavior, and genthea, Domenica, and Veronica — could, eral aptitude, many a liberal testamenwhen a little older, have easily served tary bequest. It was yet worse when for models to the future Buonarotti that bartered blood of Tartars and Rusfor his “Three Fates.” Such women, sians mixed with that of this pure, anugly or beautiful, entered the houses cient, and free race. of the rich Florentines to perform the But let us return to the chaster atmost humble services and to take care mosphere of the family, in which, with of the children. They caused much accumulated riches, there entered also, anxiety on every account to the poor alas ! those poisonous germs which house matrons. Pucci, in one of his later on were destined to corrupt and sonnets, tells us that the slaves had the corrode Italian life and conscience. best of it in everything, and were above Between the fourteenth and fifteenth every good match, checkmating their centuries a great change occurred. The

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renovation of manners and customs, women were the best artists of all the already panting towards a freer life, world. that became entirely unbridled in the

Was there ever before them a painterRenaissance, had weakened faith and nay, even a mere dyer — who could turn discouraged religion. It seemed as black into white ? Certainly not ; for it is though the people no longer understood against nature. Yet if a face is yellow and any but worldly pleasures. The letters pallid, they change it by artificial means to of Mazzei, the good notary of Prato, the hue of the rose. One who by nature or the wise man of rough soul and age has a skinny figure, they are able to

I do not think frozen heart," bear witness to this. make florid and plump.

Giotto or any other painter could color betSer Lapo was an ascetic spirit, a man of good and ancient faith, and a con- ful is, that even a face which is out of

ter than they do ; but what is most wondervinced moralist. In his letters is re- proportion, and has goggle eyes, they will flected the rebellious sinner, struggling make correct, with eyes like to a falcon's. against the holier tendencies that seek As to crooked noses, they are soon put. to lead him to a peaceful death and the straight. If they have jaws like a donkey, redemption of his earthly errors. It is they quickly correct them. If their shoulthe fight between the religious senti- ders are too large they plane them; if one ment and the moralistic spirit of the projects more than the other, they stuff new age that radiated in the glory of the them so with cotton that they seem in proRenaissance, but which, after a won- portion. And so on with breasts and hips, derful moment of splendor, left behind doing all this without a scalpel, so that it in the souls of Italians a black and Polycletus himself could not have rivalled

them. The Florentine women are pastdeadly void. Out of this darkness the mistresses of painting and modelling, for it modern man was to arise later on, puri- is plain to see that they restore where nafied by these centuries of servitude, and ture has failed. matured by many vigils of thought.

We cannot blame them, nor do we But we have again wandered from wish to do so. Poor women ! this was the family. Let us look in once more the only freedom they enjoyed, to masupon the Florentine house, out of whose windows “the loving slaves shook the to make their faces bright and fresh

querade as youthful, happy creatures, dust from their masters' dress every while their hearts were often weeping at morning, looking fresher and happier finding themselves supplanted by other than the rose,” as a poem of the period women. They also love to change the has it — this house where the wife fashion and shape of the dresses, and barely passed in happiness even the here they were able to give free vent to very first months of her married life ; that ambitious spirit which they poslater on she merely numbered the years sessed no less than their male relatives. that sped by the names of the children The admirers of the past, beginning who grew up around her, each of whom with Dante, blame them for so much recalled to her one of her husband's volubility, which irritated even the long absences, when he had gone away story-tellers and priests, not to mention to trade far off beyond the mountains the husbands, who would willingly have and over the seas. The youthful fresli

economized on these extravagant exness of these women faded quickly, and

penses of their wives. Sacchetti had as Sacchetti writes, the most beautiful much to say on this theme, over which among them in a short time - drooped, he grows eloquent. He writes in his degenerated, withered in old


virtuous indignation how at last became a skull.” It was but natural that they should try to correct some women had their dresses cut so low

that the armpit could be seen. They then nature by art, and repair the ravages gave a jump and made the collars come up induced by domestic cares ; and this

to their ears. The girls who used to go not merely from vanity. Even great about so modestly have entirely changed painters like Taddeo Gaddi and Alberto the shape of their hood, so as to reduce it Arnoldi agreed that the Florentine to a cap, and with this head-gear they wear

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