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CHAP. Rome, he applied to himself the visions of the
phetic bard. His first trial of the popular feelings was at the funeral of Eugenius the Fourth. In an elaborate speech, he called the Romans to liberty and arms; and they listened with apparent pleasure, till Porcaro was interrupted and answered by a grave advocate, who pleaded for the church and state. By every law the seditious orator was guilty of treason; but the benevolence of the new pontiff, who viewed his character with pity and esteem, attempted, by an honourable office, to convert the patriot into a friend. The inflexible Roman returned from Anagni with an increase of reputation and zeal; and on the first opportunity, the games of the place Navona, he tried to inflame the casual dispute of some boys and mechanics into a general rising of the people. Yet the humane Nicholas was still averse to accept the forfeit of his life; and the traitor was removed from the scene of temptation to Bologna, with a liberal allowance for his support, and the easy obligation of presenting himself each day before the governor of the city. But Porcaro had learned from the younger Brutus, that with tyrants no faith or gratitude should be observed. The exile declaimed against the arbitrary sentence; a party and a conspiracy were gradually formed ; his nephew, a daring youth, assembled a band of volunteers ; and on the appointed evening, a feast was prepared at his house for the friends of the republic. Their leader, who had escaped from Bologna appeared among them
in a robe of purple and gold ; his voice, his coun- CHAP. tenance, his gestures, bespoke the man who had devoted his life or death to the glorious cause. In a studied oration, he expatiated on the motives and the means of their enterprise ; the name and liberties of Rome; the sloth and pride of their ecclesiastical tyrants; the active or passive consent of their fellow-citizens ; three hundred soldiers and four hundred exiles, long exercised in arms or in wrongs; the licence of revenge to edge their swords, and a million of ducats to reward their victory. It would be easy, (he said), on the next day, the festival of the Epiphany, to seize the Pope and his cardinals before the doors, or at the altar, of St Peter's ; to lead them in chains under the walls of St Angelo; to extort by the threat of their instant death a surrender of the castle; to ascend the vacant Capitol ; to ring the alarm-bell; and to restore in a popular assembly the ancient republic of Rome. While he triumphed, he was already betrayed. The senator, with a strong guard, invested the house ; the nephew of Porcaro cut his way through the crowd; but the unfortunate Stephen was drawn from a chest, lamenting that his enemies had anticipated by three hours the execution of his design. After such manifest and repeated guilt, even the mercy of Nicholas was silent. Porcaro, and nine of his accomplices, were hanged without the benefit of the sacraments; and amidst the fears and invectives of the Papal court, the Romans pitied, and almost applauded, these VOL. XII.
CHAP. martyrs of their country *. But their applause was
mute, their pity ineffectual, their liberty for ever extinct; and, if they have since risen in a vacancy of the throne, or a scarcity of bread, such accidental tumlts may be found in the bosom of the most
abject servitude. Last dis But the independence of the nobles, which was orders of the nobles fomented by discord, survived the freedom of the of Rome. commons, which must be founded in union. A
privilege of rapine and oppression was long maintained by the barons of Rome; their houses were a fortress and a sanctuary; and the ferocious train of banditti and criminals whom they protected from the law, repaid the hospitality with the service of their swords and daggers. The private interest of the pontiffs, or their nephews, sometimes involved them in these domestic feuds. Under the reign of Sixtus the Fourth, Rome was distracted by the battles and sieges of the rival houses ; after the conflagration of his palace, the proto-notary Colonna was tortured and beheaded; and Savelli, his captive friend, was murdered on the spot, for refusing to
join * Besides the curious though concise narrative of Machiavel, (Istoria Florentina, 1. vi. Opere, tom. i. p. 210, 211, edit. Londra, 1747, in 4to), the Porcarian conspiracy is related in the Diary of Stephen Infessura (Rer. ltal. tom. ii. p. ii. p. 1134, 1135), and in a separate tract by Leo Baptista Alberti, (Rer. Ital. tom. xxv. p. 609-614.). It is amusing to compare the style and sentiments of the courtier and citi zen. Facinus profecto quo .... neque periculo horribilius, neque audaciâ detestabilius, neque crudelitate tetrius, a quoquam perditissimo uspiam excogitatum sit. .... Perdette la vita quell' buomo da bene, e amatore dello bene et libertà di Roma.
join in the acclamations of the victorious Ursini *. CHA P. But the Popes no longer trembled in the Vatican ; they had strength to command, if they had resolution to claim, the obedience of their subjects; and the strangers, who observed these partial disorders, admired the easy taxes and wise administration of the ecclesiastical state t. The spiritual thunders of the Vatican depend on The
Popes ac. the force of opinion ; and, if that opinion be sup- quire the planted by reason or passion, the sound may idly
dominion waste itself in the air; and the helpless priest is of Rome, exposed to the brutal violence of a noble or a 1500, &c. plebeian adversary. But after their return from Avignon, the keys of St Peter were guarded by the sword of St Paul. Rome was commanded by an impregnable citadel ; the use of cannon is a powerful engine against popular seditions ; a regular force of cavalry and infantry was enlisted under the banners of the Pope ; his ample revenues supplied the resources of war; and, from the extent of his domain, he could bring down on a rebellious city an army of hostile neighbours Cc2
* The disorders of Rome, which were much inflamed by the partiality of Sixtus IV. are exposed in the Diaries of two spectators, Stephen Infessura, and an anonymous citizen. Sce the troubles of the year 14€4, and the death of the protc-notary Colonna, in tom. iii. p. ii. p. 1083. 1158.
+ Est toute la terre de l'eglise troublée pour cette partialité, (des Colonnes et des Ursins), come nous dirions Luce et Grammont, ou en Hollande Houc et Caballan ; et quand ce ne seroit ce differend la terre de l'eglise seroit la plus heureuse habitation pour les sujets, qui soit dans tout le monde, (car ils ne payent ni tailes ni gueres autres choses), et seroient tou. jours bien conduits, (car toujours les papes sont sages et bien conseillés); mais très souvent en advient de grands et cruels meurtres et pillerits.
CHAP. and loyal subjects *. Since the union of the duchies
of Ferrara and Urbino, the ecclesiastical state extends from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic, and from the confines of Naples to the banks of the Po; and as early as the sixteenth century, the greater part of that spacious and fruitful country acknowledged the lawful claims and temporal sovereignty of the Roman pontiffs. Their claims were readily deduced from the genuine or fabulous donations of the darker ages; the successive steps of their final settlement would engage us too far in the transactions of Italy, and even of Europe ; the crimes of Alexander the Sixth, the martial operations of Julius the Second, and the liberal policy of Leo the Tenth, a theme which has been adorned by the pens of the noblest historians of the timest. In the first period of their conquests, till the expedition of Charles the Eighth, the Popes might successfully wrestle with the adjacent princes and states, whose military force was equal, or superior, to their own. But as soon as the monarchs of France, Germany,
By the @conomy of Sixtus V. the revenue of the eccle. siastical state was raised to two millions and a half of Roman crowns, (Vita, tom. ii. p. 291-296.); and so regular was the military establishment, that in one month Clement VIII. could invade the duchy of Ferrara with three thousand horse and twenty thousand foot, (tom. iii. p. 64.). Since that time, (A, D. 1597), the Papal arms are happily rusted; but the revenue must have gained some nominal increase.
+ More especially by Guicciardini and Machiavel; in the general history of the former, in the Florentine history, the Prince, and the political discourses of the latter. These, with their worthy successors, Fra. Paolo and Davila, were justly esteemed the first historians of modern languages, till, in the present age, Scotland arose to dispute the prize with Italy berself.