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ignorance of the nobles was incapable of discerning
the serious tendency of such representations; they
might sometimes chastise with words and blows the
plebeian reformer; but he was often suffered in
the Colonna palace to amuse the company with his
threats and predictions; and the modern Brutus *
was concealed under the mask of folly and the cha-
racter of a buffoon. While they indulged their con-
tempt, the restoration of the good estate, his favourite
expression, was entertained among the people as a
desirable, a possible, and at length as an approach-
ing event; and while all had the disposition to ap-
plaud, some had the courage to assist their promised

A prophecy, or rather a summons, affixed on the
church-door of St George, was the first public evi-
dence of his designs; a nocturnal assembly of an
hundred citizens on mount Aventine, the first step
to their execution. After an oath of secrecy and
aid, he represented to the conspirators the import-
ance and facility of their enterprise; that the nobles,
without union or resources, were strong only in the
fear of their imaginary strength; that all power, as
well as right, was in the hands of the people; that
the revenues of the apostolical chamber might re-
lieve the public distress; and that the Pope him-
self would approve their victory over the common
enemies of government and freedom. After secu-
ring a faithful band to protect his first declaration,

• Priori (Druto) tamen similior, juvenis uterque, longe ingenio quam cujus simulationem induerat, ut sub hoc obtentu liberator ille P. R. aperiretur tempore suo . . . . . ille regibus, hic tyrannis contemptus, (Opp. p. 536.).

he proclaimed through the city, by sound of trumpet, that on the evening of the following day all persons should assemble without arms before the church of St Angelo, to provide for the the re-esta

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blishment of the good estate. The whole night was .

employed in the celebration of thirty masses of the Holy Ghost; and in the morning, Rienzi, bareheaded, but in complete armour, issued from the church, encompassed by the hundred conspirators. The Pope's vicar, the simple bishop of Orvieto, who had been persuaded to sustain a part in this singular ceremony, marched on his right hand; and three great standards were borne aloft as the emblems of their design. In the first, the banner of liberty, Rome was seated on two lions, with a palm in one hand, and a globe in the other; St Paul, with a drawn sword, was delineated in the banner of justice; and in the third, St Peter held the keys of concord and peace. Rienzi was encouraged by the presence and applause of an innumerable crowd, who understood little, and hoped much ; and the procession slowly rolled forwards from the castle of St Angelo to the Capitol. His triumph was disturbed by some secret emotion, which he laboured to suppress; he ascended without opposition, and with seeming confidence, the citadel of the republic; harangued the people from the balcony; and received the most flattering confirmation of his acts and laws. The nobles, as if destitute of arms and counsels, beheld in silent consternation this strange revolution; and the moment had been prudently chosen, when the most formidable, Stephen Colonna, was absent from the


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declared to the messenger of Rienzi, that at his leisure he would cast the madman from the windows of the Capitol. The great bell instantly rang an alarm, and so rapid was the tide, so urgent was

the danger, that Colonna escaped with precipitation

to the suburb of St Laurence ; from thence, after
a moment’s refreshment, he continued the same
speedy career, till he reached in safety his castle of
Palestrina, lamenting his own imprudence, which
had not trampled the spark of this mighty confla-
gration. A general and peremptory order was
issued from the Capitol to all the nobles, that they
should peaceably retire to their estates. They o-
beyed; and their departure secured the tranquillity
of the free and obedient citizens of Rome.
But such voluntary obedience evaporates with
the first transports of zeal; and Rienzi felt the im-
portance of justifying his usurpation by a regular
form, and a legal title. At his own choice, the
Roman people would have displayed their attach-
ment and authority, by lavishing on his head the
names of Senator or Consul, of King or Emperor.
He preferred the ancient and modest appellation of
Tribune; the protection of the commons was the
essence of that sacred office; and they were igno-
rant, that it had never been invested with any
share in the legislative or executive powers of the
republic. In this character, and with the consent
of the Romans, the Tribune enacted the most
salutary laws for the restoration and maintenance


of the good estate. By the first he fulfuls the wish c H. A. P. of honesty and inexperience, that no civil suit should to:be protracted beyond the term of fifteen days. The * danger of frequent perjury might justify the pronouncing against a false accuser the same penalty which his evidence would have inflicted ; the disorders of the times might compel the legislator to punish every homicide with death, and every injury with equal retaliation. But the execution of justice was hopeless till he had previously abolished the tyranny of the nobles. It was formerly provided, that none, except the supreme magistrate, should possess or command the gates, bridges, or towers, of the state; that no private garrisons should be introduced into the towns or castles of the Roman territory; that none should bear arms; or presuine to fortify their houses in the city or country; that the barons should be responsible for the safety of the highways, and the free passage of provisions; and that the protection of malefactors and robbers should be expiated by a fine of a thousand marks of silver. But these regulations would have been impotent and nugatory, had not the licentious nobles been awed by the sword of the civil power. A sudden alarm from the bell of the Capitol could still summon to the standard above twenty thousand volunteers; the support of the tribune and the laws required a more regular and permanent force. In each harbour of the coast, a vessel was stationed for the assurance of commerce; a standing militia of three hundred and sixty horse and thirteen hundred foot was levied, clothed, Vol. XII. Z and

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and paid in the thirteen quarters of the city; and the spirit of a commonwealth may be traced in the gratefulallowance of one hundred florins, orpounds, to the heirs of every soldier who lost his life in the service of his country. For the maintenance of the public defence, for the establishment of granaries, for the relief of widows, orphans, and indigent

convents, Rienzi applied, without fear of sacrilege,

the revenues of the apostolic chamber; the three branches of hearth-money, the salt-duty, and the customs, were each of the annual produce of one hundred thousand florins “; and scandalous were the abuses, if in four or five months the amount of the salt-duty could be trebled by his judicious ceconomy. After thus restoring the forces and finances of the republic, the Tribune recalled the nobles from their solitary independence; required their personal appearance in the Capitol; and imposed an oath of allegiance to the new government, and of submission to the laws of the good estate. Apprehensive for their safety, but still more apprehensive of the danger of a refusal, the princes and barons returned to their houses at Rome, in the garb of simple and peaceful citizens; the Colonna and Ursini, the Savelli and Frangipani, were con

founded before the tribunal of a plebeian, of the

vile buffoon whom they had so often derided, and


* In one MS. I read (l. ii. c. 4. p. 409.) perfumante quatro rolli, in another quatro florini, an important variety, since the florin was worth ten Roman solidi, (Muratori, dissert. xxviii.). The former reading would give us a population of 25,000, the latter of 250,000 families; and I much fear

that the former is more consistent with she decay of Rome and her territory. w

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