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Enovellas), written with great fancy; and of an infinite number of sonnets, madrigals, &c. Among the most pleasing of his productions is a poem, containing one hundred and thirty-seven stanzas, into which he introduces a description of all the beautiful women who flourished in his time at Florence; describing the contests between the
and those of a maturer age. His epistles being greatly esteemed, we here introduce two of them, hitherto unpublished. Letter from Franco Sacchetti to Master Donato Acciaiuoli, wril
ten in the month of June, 1391; the said Master Donato being chief magistrate of justice in the city of Florence, and during
the war between the count di Virtu and the Florentines. Magnificent and eminent chief magistrate Master Donato,
It is strongly rumoured that, in the exercise of your power, you are about to give peace to many, which, with my hands raised to heaven, I invoke; and because peace is a blessing, than which no one is greater, and without which no good is perfect, and, also, without which no kingdom can say that it has stability;-1, who desire it most earnestly, have been moved to write to your paternity. Considering, therefore, how honourable it will be at the present time, and how necessary it is that we should be relieved from the many dangers induced by war; I think I see in
you the glory which was ascribed to the Roman Brutus, who was entitled the second Romulus, because Romulus founded the city of Rome, and Brutus maintained the liberty of that capital. And will not this renown belong to you? Certainly yes, because nothing is so hostile to liberty as war, and the wastes it occasions. This is that which has subjugated the nations and communities of the universe, as our country has twice approved. God grant that the evil may not overtake us a third time. War is extraneous to celestial glory: it reigns in the centre of the abyss. There are many who say, we cannot place our trust,” &c. And I reply, that we have not any pledge to give to the enemy. If in this contest he had come off triumphantly, and with honour, what is said by these persons might give us serious apprehensions. But seeing that the contrary is the case, I entertain a firm hope that he will have a constant dread of making any attempt against us, inasmuch as we have diminished his state, and have laid open that which still remains to him. Has he not lost the city of Padua? And, in the way in which he holds Verona, disabled as it is, may it not be said to be rather an expense to him than of any utility? Have not Ferrara and Modena been taken from his confine, and the way opened for the
passage of the Appennines, and all the other mountains? In the early spring, did not the ensigns of your warriors wave over his Lombardian territory? Is not your army now at his very gates? And is not the other army of Gascony either at present on his territory, or about to penetrate? Have not the Paduans and Bolognese risen in arms against him, while another of your gallant commanders, at the head of your militia, has entered the Sanese territory? These are not viands, which, when rightly minced, the enemy will return a second time to taste, but will rather shun them on the proof. Who among his soldiery, unless furtively, has had a sight of your territory? Certainly, all things considered, neither in writing, nor on record, has so much honor before fallen to the share of our republic. For all the reasons I have given, it may be said that peace will be secure. Hannibal observes: “ better is a secure peace than an expected victory; and Petrarch goes still farther in one of his cpistles, saying that “a secure peace is better than a certain victory." The end of a war is not certain, but very doubtful, when we consider the various accidents to which it is exposed. We are warned by Cato: Non eodem cursu respondent ultima primis. Some will say, Peace cannot be procured without the consent of others. Esi modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines. Without a beginning, there can be neither middle nor end. The Venetians, when they make war, establish an office of war, and an oflice of peace. This is a thing acceptable to God, and on many accounts grateful to the world. We have a famous city, and a delightful territory; but let us hear Scipio Africanus. “ Of what avail," he observes, “is the possession of a great city, of fine palaces, and of high walls, when the foundations of virtue are overthrown.” Peace is the principal benefit of all the virtues. Having this, therefore, we shall have every good.
Brielly to conclude, my dear lord, I congratulate you on so worthy and laudable an undertaking, which is to give life to our city, and a mortal grief to those who bear it in hatred, and look forward to its ruin. You being the author of this, have in my opinion acquired three names. The first, Brutus, as I have said above; the second, Hercules, which has so powerful and glorious a sound; and the third, Solomon, by which is implied the vision of peace. And may He who is all peace, grant you his grace in this, and, in every thing beside, do that which may be for the good and advancement of our country. Death and eternal punishment to him who may wish the contrary,
Reply of Master Donato Acciaiuoli to Franco Sacchetti.
If I had the pen and the intellect, I would make you a suitable answer; but this is not possible, seeing that, however I may be advanced in years, I am not so in virtue, and am sensible of my insufficiency. Nevertheless, I will not on any occasion neglect to furnish a simple reply.
Franco, it sometimes happens that fame is less than the truth, and sometimes greater; on this occasion, however, I shall study to testify the truth which I feel, to every one who will not spurn the knowledge of it through passion, as sometimes happens. The truly benevolent consolation you give to the country, and to me, I willingly receive; and the useful example of ancient history you adduce, animates me with the desire of following the traces of those whose memory will be eternal. Fancy portrays to me Romulus, the first king of the Romans, a chief of a lofty mind, the founder of the city, of the empire, and of the power which other nations attained. And then, that first founder of liberty, Junius Brutus, who, moved with disdain and grief for Lucretia, and animated by the favour of the people and the love of justice, dared to assail the regal pride of king Tarquin, and, having driven him from Rome, was constituted first consul, as father of the city and of justice.
Many things might be said by you, who are acquainted with them; but I shall not neglect to speak of Numa Pompilius, the second king of the Romans, who obtained so high a celebrity as the lover of peace, of religion, and of justice. He was the enemy of war, and, as you know, built the temple dedicated to Janus, to be kept open during war, and shut in peace. Throughout the whole of his life he kept it closed by the locks of his providence, and of justice; pacifying, by the gentlest means, the irritation of those who were bent on war, and restraining the fury of their arms by the blessings of peace, and the right exercise of power.
I well recollect to have heard of that famous and consummate commander Hannibal, the leader of the Carthaginians, who was, above all others, victorious in arms, and who confessed that a secure peace was better than the hope of a victory. And, if I should hear or should read the contrary, I would not believe it. What hopes of victory had not Pompey the Great in Thessaly, where, having at his command three parts of the world, he despised the peace so often tendered to him by Cæsar; still, skilful as he was in feats of arms he was the first to flee. VOL. VII
Peace preserves, and augments within itself, whatever is useful: with war it is otherwise. It bursts asunder the bonds of friendship, and imposes shackles of its own forging. May the ardour of war be cooled, and justice prevail under favour of the Divinity! I conclude this reply by reminding you of the words of Petrarca, so familiar to you, where, in his letters addressed to Italy, he speaks of morals.
Written, or I should rather say, scrawled, with my own hand, this tenth day of July. May God preserve you.
Letter from Franco Sacchetti to Astore, Lord of Faenza, with
twelve sonnets in praise of peace. No comfort is greater to the servant than this, that when he is labouring under afflictions he should convey his lamentations to his lord. I may be compared to one who, coming out of the tomb, knows what death is. If in the space of thirtythree years I have twice received the shock, I am the better able to judge how painful is the blow: and I will sing that others may not weep as I have wept. Magnificent lord, if I should finally receive the gift of eternal life, as happened to Job, I feel, according to my faculty, a considerable portion of his pains. In recounting them I shall not go a great way back, but shall confine myself to the mention of those which have befallen me since I left your clemency. On my way hither, men in arms were assembling from every side, and beginning to weave a web, which was wrought in such a form as to cause a greater dread for the future. Amid these
preparations I was assailed by a confluence of twenty mouths, complaining of divers diseases, one of one infirmity, one of anoiher; and, in addition to this, one of my sisters, who had made an advantageous match some years before, now bereft of every property, and broken-hearted, sought refuge in my house. I myself had to taste the fruit of count Alberigo [bitter fruit), all my possessions, and the furniture of five apartments, having been burnt, with the exception of the bedding. My oil jars were broken, and the oil spilled, of the value of a hundred and twenty florins; and my loss in wine was nearly of the same amount. Twenty fine orange-trees had been cut down for fuel; and the houses of my labourers burnt, with their furniture and utensils, together with many other losses, which it would be impossible to note down. The roofs and planks having all been consumed by fire, nothing remained but the terraces and the decayed walls, well stored within with ashes. I have praised, and I praise God, beseeching him that he will not do me so much evil as I have sustained, and which I did not formerly think to receive, notwithstanding I have, for a long time, anticipated the calamitous events which have overtaken my country. Some comfort me, by saying, that God visits his friends; and I reply, that I am content, but that this appears to me to be a new kind of friendship. Others tell me, that, as I have always been an enemy to war, I have received four times as much damage as another citizen. My answer to this is, that I am truly grieved for those who have not received any; and that, if I should desire the contrary, I should add to my misfortunes envy, which would make me more sorrowful than I am.
The day after my property was burned, my commune wished to recompense me from the stores which had been laid by. I was thankful, and glad that so good a provision had been made; but observed, that when dead, I should be freed from so many pains, the burthen of which brought on a fever of nearly a month's duration. This has been succeeded by another attack, from which I am nearly recovered. And to the end, that every one may be certain that I have always been a lover of peace, for which I have a greater fondness than ever, because I have a greater need of it; I have composed the twelve sonnets, which I send to your lordship; and which, as a rude man, I have rudely composed, to the end that they may be clearly understood; seeing that subtile writings are by many interpreted variously, and contrary to the intention of the authors who frame them, more especially when it is the aim of malevolent persons to calumniate the latter.
Dated at Florence, this 15th day of April, 1397, with a recommendation for your servant
FRANCO DE SACCHETTI,
Account of Pope Joan, extracted from the work of a celebrated
clergyman of the church of England.
[From the Monthly Magazine.] I here insert, says this divine, the following extract, copied, verbatim, by my own hand, from that scarce and curious old book, entitled, " The Nuremburgh Chronicle;" which was printed at Nuremburgh, 1493, in a popish city, by popish printers, and compiled by popish hands, no less than twentyfour years before the reformation by Luther.
“ Johannes Anglicus," &c.