Графични страници
PDF файл

of his rich and creative mind, were committed to paper, with an accuracy which he himself approved, and may serve as a standard to mark in future times the progress or decline of the arts.


" To

No species of reputation is so cheaply acquired as that derived from death-bed fortitude. When it is fruitless to contend and impossible to fly, little applause is due to that resignation which patiently awaits its doom. It is not, therefore, to be considered as enhancing that dignity of character which Lorenzo had so frequently displayed, that he sustained the last conflict with equanimity. judge from his conduct, and that of his servants," says Politiano, « you would have thought that it was they who momentarily expected that fate from which he alone appeared to be exempt.” Even to the last the scintillations of his former vivacity were perceptible. Being asked, on taking a morsel of food, how he relished it :- As a dying man always does,” was his reply. Having affece tionately embraced his surrounding friends, and submitted to the last ceremonies of the church, he became absorbed in meditation, occasionally repeating portions of scripture, and accompanying his ejaculations with elevated eyes and solemn gestures of his hands, till the energies of life gradually declining, and pressing to his lips a magnificent crucifix, he calmly expired.


In the height of his reputation, and at a premature period of life, thus died Lorenzo de Medici; a man, who may be selected from all the characters of ancient and modern history, as exhibiting the most remarkable instance of depth of penetration, versatility of talent, and comprehension of mind. Whether genius be a predominant impulse, directing the mind to some particular object, or whether it be an energy of intellect, that arrives at excellence in any department in which it may be employed, it is certain that there are few instances in which a successful exertion in any human pursuit has not occasioned a dereliction of many other objects, the attainment of which might have conferred immortality. If the powers of the mind are to bear down all obstacles that oppose their progress, it seems necessary that they should sweep along in some certain course, and in one collected mass. What then shall we think of that rich fountain, which, whilst it was poured out by so many different channels, flowed through each with a full and equal stream? To be absorbed in one pursuit, however important, is not the characteristic of the higher class of genius, which piercing through the various combinations and relations of surrounding circumstances, sees all things in their just dimensions, and attributes to each its due. Of the va, rious occupations in which Lorenzo engaged, there is not one in which he was not eminently successful; but he was most particularly distinguished in those which justly hold the first rank in human estimation. The facility with which he turned from subjects of the highest importance to those of amusement and levity, suggested to his countrymen the idea that he had two distinct souls in one body. Even his moral character seems to have partaken, in some degree, of the same divinity ; and his devotional poems are as ardent as his lighter pieces are licentious. On all sides he touched the extremes of human character; and the powers

of his mind were only bounded by that impenetrable circle which prescribes the limits of human nature.


Whilst borne in sable state Lorenzo's bier,

The tyrant death his proudest triumph brings, He mark'd a BARV, in agony severe,

Smite with delirious hand the sounding strings. He stop'd---he gaz’d---the storm of passion raged,

And prayers with tears were mingled tears with grief; Tor lost Lorenzo, war with fate he wag'd,

And every god was call'd to bring relief--The tyrant smil'd---and mindful of the hour,

When from the shades his consort Orpheus led; • Rebellious too, would'st thou usurp my power,

“ And burst the chain that binds the captive dead?” He spoke---and speaking, launch'd the shaft of fate,

And clos'd the lips that glow'd with sacred fire. His timeless doom 'twas thus POLITIAN met...

POLITIAN, master of the Ausonian lyre.

RISE OF THE REFORMATION. Leo the X. was not aware, that whilst he was composing the troubles which the ambition of his neighbours or the misconduct of his predecessors had occasioned, he was exciting a still more formi. dable adversary, that was destined by a slow, but certain progress, to sap the foundation of the papal power, and to alienate that spiritual allegiance which the christian world had kept inviolate for so many centuries. Under the controul of Leo, the riches that flowed from every part of Europe to Rome, as to the heart of the ecclesiastical system, were again poured out through a thousand chan: nels, till the sources became inadequate to the expenditure. To supply this deficiency, he availed himself of various expedients, which, whilst they effected for a time the intended purpose, roused the attention of the people to the enormities and abuses of the church, and, in some measure, drew aside that sacred veil, which, in shading her from the prying eyes of the vulgar, has always been her safest preservative. The open sale of dispensations and indulgencies for the most enormous and disgraceful crimes, was too flagrant not to attract general notice. Encouraged by the dissatisfaction which was thus excited, a daring reformer arost, and, equally regardless of the threats of secular power and the denunciations of the Roman See, ventured to oppose the opinion of an individual to the infallible determinations of the church. At this critical juncture Luther found that support which he might in vain have sought at any other period, aud an inroad was made into the sanctuary, which has ever since been widening, and will probably continue to widen, till the mighty fabric, the work of so many ages, shall be laid in ruins. It is not, however, so much for the tenets of their religious creed as for the principles upon which they founded their dissent, that the reformers are entitled to the thanks of posterity. The right of private judg. ment, which they claimed for themselves, they could not refuse to others; and, by a mode of reasoning, as siinple as it was decisive, mankind arrived at the knowledge of one of those great truths which form the basis of human happiness. It appeared that 'the denunciations were as ineffectual to con. demn as its absolution was to exculpate ; and, instead of an intercourse between the man and his priest, an intercourse took place between his conscience and his God.

MISPLACED PANEGYRIC. Like the Egyptians, who embalm a putrid carcase with the richest odours, the artist and the poet too often lavish their divine incense on the most undeserving of mankind.




JEMIMA WILKINSON. (From the Duke de la Rochefoucault's Travels in North America.) NE Jemima Wilkinson, a quaker, and a na

tive of Rhode Island, manifested so fervent a zeal in her religion, that at the age of twenty she was admitted to all the meetings of the society, which were held weekly, monthly, and quarterly, for settling the general concerns, and watching over the conduct of the brethren. She at length fancied that she was called to act some great and extraordinary part, and in this persuasion formed the project of becoming the leader of a sect. In the course of a long and dangerous illness, she was suddenly seized, or gave it out that she was seized, with a lethargy, so that to her friends she appeared as really dead. She continued several hours in this situation ; and preparations were actually making for her interment, when she suddenly started up, called for her cloaths, declaring " that she had risen from the dead, and that she had cast off all her material substance, and retained only the spiritual.” She went, accordingly, to the next meeting, as if with the authority of some celestial being, spoke there as one inspired, and gained some followers. She, ere long, expressed her displeasure at some religious observances of the quakers, and



« ПредишнаНапред »