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• The historical writings of Guicciardini have not only entitled their author to the indisputable precedence of all the historians of Italy, but have placed him at least on a level with those of any age or of any country
His first great advantage is, that he was himself personally acquainted with most of the transactions which he relates, and frequently acted in them an important part. He also united in himself almost every qualification that is necessary for a perfect historian; a fearless impartiality, a strong and vigorous judgment, equally remote from superstition and licentiousness, and a penetration of mind that pierced through the inmost recesses of political intrigue. His narrative is full, clear, and perspicuous, and the observa. tions to which it occasionally gives rise, are in general just, apposite, and forcible. The principal blemishes which have been attributed to him as a writer, are those of having frequently given too much im. portance to events of inferior consideration, and of having, in imita. tion of the ancient historians, assigned to several of his principal actors, orations, which although sufficiently consonant to their sentiments, were never in reality delivered. If, however, the writings of all his contemporaries had perished, his works alone would have exhibited a perfect picture of the age, and must ever be regarded as the mine from which furore historians must derive their richest materials. Fastidious critics and indolent readers may complain of the minuteness of his narrative, or the length of his periods, but every sentence is pregnant with thought, every paragraph teems with information, and if sometimes they do not please the ear, they always gratify the understanding. The principal defect in his history is such as is perhaps inseparable from his character as a statesman and a soldier, and appears in his accounting for the conduct of others wholly hy motives of interest, and of ambition, without sufficiently adverting to the various other causes which have in all ages had a considerable influence on the affairs of mankind.'
The author had, we think, before satisfactorily solved the problem of Machiavelli.
In the chapter on the state of the arts in the days of Leo, Mr. Roscoe appears advantageously distinguished by the accomplishments of a connoisseur. On this subject, however, we are unwillingly compelled to refer our readers to the volumes themselves, by the impossibility of minutely attending the historian through every part of his narrative.
In summing up the history of Leo, the author proposes solve the following queries :
• What were his personal and intellectual accomplishments? Was he a man of talents, or a mere favourite of fortune? Will his public and private conduct stand the test of an impartial examination? In what degree is the world indebted to him for the extraordinary proficiency in literature and the arts, which took place during his pontificate?
With some deductions and allowances, these qestions are all anwered in his favour; and Mr, Roscoe represents him as in 5
every way highly favoured by nature ; as an able prince, a decorous pontiff, an amiable man, a considerable scholar, an ardent lover and zealous patron of letters and the arts.
Having now taken a rapid view of the details of political, ecclesiastical, and literary matters contained in these volumes, we should indeed be ungrateful if we did not acknowlege our obligations to the very intelligent and ingenious author, for the interesting traits which his researches have restored to the page of general history, for many portions of well-weighed and au. thentic narrative, for numerous instances of able criticism, for various happy sketches of character, and for the assistance which he affords to the attentive reader in estimating the state of the human mind during the early part of the sixteenth cen. tury. When it is considered that these learned labours proceed from a man who has been throughout his life engaged in business, they will be viewed with astonishment, and will induce us to think most highly of his persevering industry and happy genius. After this just acknowlegement, it is incumbent on us to offer a few more particular remarks,
With regard to the political history which this work contains, we have already intimated that, in our opinion, much greater brevity would have been eligible. The transactions of the time have been related by contemporary historians of the first order : little can be added to the accounts which they have supplied, and it is difficult for any man to present himself by the side of them without appearing to disadvantage. Robertson, an experienced and tried historian, blest with a fine genius, master of amplo leisure, and commanding vast sources of information, even he did not add to his fame by lis narrative of the events of this period; and if the ingenious Principal has occasioned Guicciardini, Phillip de Comines, Sleidan, and others whom we could name, to be neglected, it were better that the History of Charles V, had never been written, We of course except the first volume, which has little connection with those that follow, and which may be regarded as a distinct treatise, and doubtless a most valuable one. The present author might have avoided a similar comparison.. A very brief summary of the wars of France, and a succinct view of their effects with regard to literature, would best have coin. cided with the object of Mr. Roscoe.
It was incumbent on the author to enter more fully into ecclesiastical affairs. The dissentions of the period in this respect are those which principally render memorable the pontificate of Leo; they came under his cognizance in his spiritual character, and they also most happily consist with what we regard as the leading design of such a history as that which
Mr. Roscoe undertook. In staring the predisposing causes of the revolution in the church which happened under Leo, it is necessary to take a near view of the state of society; the go vernment and doctrines of the church are to be represented; the policy of its rulers, the character of its priesthood, the views and sentiments of its members, are to be set forth and discussed ; and all these are auxiliary, we conceive, to the researches and conclusions which are requisite in order to pursue the principal object of the present work.
Instead of minute details of the wars maintained in Italy by the French, we are of opinion that the author should have substituted a retrospective view of the progress of letters from the first moment of their becoming objects of public attention, to the period of which he writes. The principles, events, and incidents, which gave the happy impulse, should have been ascertained ; and following this clue, the several stages of their progress should have been noted. Instead of dwelling on particulars, the causes of this auspicious revolution should have been developed and reviewed in detail; and instead of pourtraying individuals, the author ought to have sketched groupes.
In many even eminent writers, we discern a weakness which we must always contemplate as very degrading, viz. that of de. serting the character of historian, in order to assume the office of advocate ; and we are sorry to add that we scarcely know a respectable author who has subjected himself in a greater degree to this imputation than Mr. Roscoe. This infirmity in several instances leads him not merely to go beyond the truth, but even to lose sight of it, and to mislead his less informed and less cautious readers. We have formerly passed over much of the ground which the author has here explored, but we own that the Leo described by him differs widely from the picture which we should have formed from our own impressions. Even admitting Mr. R.'s relations, we find them inconsistent with the portrait which is presented to us in the last chapter. As sovereign Pontiff, Leo seems to have rightly apprehended the part which he ought to act in his relation to foreign states; and he appears desirous of copying the policy of Julius II. He clearly discerned his Italian interests, but he wanted steadiness and firmness to pursue them. During his pontificate, he atchieved nothing that could distinguish him in history. He seems to have been endowed with little foresight. Like most of his predecessors, he appears to have sought anxiously the aggrandizement of his family, but had not resolution effectually to prosecute that which he had so much at heart. His plan of life, his amusements, and his engagements, as described by the present author himself, shew that the hours, which should have been devoted to the meditations and the pursuits of the statesman, were consumed in attending on the invitations of pleasure. Let us see how far Mr. Roscoe's account of his manner of passing his time confirms these allegations :
• When Leo occasionally retired from the tumults of the city to his villa of Malliana, about five miles from Rome, he dedicated a considerable portion of his time to the amusements of fowling and hunting, in which he engaged with such carnestness, as to disregard all the inclemencies of weather, and the inconveniencies arising from want of accommodation. To these active exercises, he was most probably led to accustom himself, from an idea that they were conducive to his health, in correcting his natural tendency to a corpulent. habit. Having from his youth been devoted to these sports, he was well skilled in conducting them; and was highly offended with any of his companions, whatever their rank might be, who, through ignorance or carelesness, spoiled the expected diversion. An unsuccessful chase seemed to be one of the heaviest misfortunes that could befal him, whilst those who were hunting for the pontifical favour, rather than the beasts of the field, always found that it was the best time to obtain it, when the exertions of the pontiff had been crowned with success. Towards the decline of the year, when the heat of the season began to be mitigated by the rains, he visited the warm baths of Viterbo, the vicinity of which abounded with partridges, quails, and pheasants, and where he frequently took the diversion of bawking. Thence he passed to the beautiful lake of Bolsena, where he spent his time in fishing on the island in the midst of the lake, or at the entrance of the river Marta. In this neighbourhood he was al. ways splendidly received and entertained by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese, afterwards Paul III. who had erected there superb villas and palaces, and by extensive plantations of fruit and forest trees, had Orcamented and enriched the surrounding country. After quitting these confines, he usually pursued his journies along the Tuscan ter ritories, until he arrived at the shore of the sea, near Civita Vecchia. Here an entertainment of the most acceptable kind was provided for him. In a large plain, surrounded with hills, like an amphitheatre, and overspred with underwood for covert, a great number of wild boars and deer were collected, and the Roman pontiff, forgetful of both church and state, enjoyed the pleasures of the chase in their highest perfection. From Civita Vecchia he returned about the month of November, by Palo, and the forest of Cervetri to Rome, which, however, he soon quitted for his villa at Malliana ; a place with whicle he was so delighted, not withstanding the insalubrity of the ait, occasioned by the exhalations of the surrounding fens, that it was with difficulty he could be prevailed on to return to the ci y, unless a meeting of the consistory, or some important occasion, required his presence. His arrival here was welcomed by the peasantry, with no less joy than the appearance of an abundant harvest. His bounty was showered down alike on the old and the young, who surrounded him on the road to present to kim their rustie offerings. But pot satisfied with indiscriminate
generosity, he frequently entered into conversation with them, inquired into their wants, paid the debts of the aged, unfortunate, or infirm; bestowed marriage portions upon the damsels, and assisted those who had to provide for a numerous family; there being, in his opinion, nothing so becoming a great prince, as to alleviate distress, and to send away every person satisfied and cheerful from his presence.'
Do not his gratifications hence appear to have formed the principal occupation of the Pontiff? Scarcely will he forego his amusements to execute the formal part of his functions ! Have we not, in this delineation, traits which bespeak a mind incapable of great and dignified pursuits ?
In his ecclesiastical character, the merit of Leo seems to have been confined to a decorous discharge of his sacerdotal functions. To comprehensive views, to fine strokes of policy, to well judged interpositions of authority, he exhibits not any claim. No man was ever more unequal to the crisis on which he was thrown; for he discerned not the spirit of the times, nor the principles which were in activity, nor the dangers which hùng over him. The period called for strict behaviour from all persons in high ecclesiastical stations; and yet never did a pontiff more forget his sacred character, and in no court was less restraint ever imposed upon conduct. A traffic the most odious that occurs in human annals, which (it is true) had been long known at Rome, and which remains in the recollection of men an eternal disgrace to that court, it was one of the measures of his spiritual administration to extend to the most shameful and detestable length as an operation of finance. This conduct gave rise to the schism which so widely diffused itself, and laid the foundation for the ultimate downfall of the Romish hierarchy.-The partiality of Mr. Roscoe to the Pontiff induces him to give a preference to the sophistical and artful historian Pallavicini, over the most ingenious parrator that ever transmitted accounts to other times.
Fra. Paolo's History of the Council of Trent is founded on indis, putable documents ; though, as has been observed, it be full of inaccuracies in little matters, its authority in all that is important cannot be impeached ; and in the notes to the translation of Père Courayer, all the minor mistakes are rectified. Had Mr. Roscoe consulted this work, he would have met with much that would have been adapted to his purpose.
That Leo was a lover of letters, and a munificent patron of them, cannot be doubted: but this glorious province he must divide with several of his predecessors as well as with many preceding and contemporary princes and chiefs of Italy. We feel no propensity to derogate from his merit as a