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race, who, at different periods, made conquests in the Peninsula, sometimes mastering its coasts and sometimes its interior.
Those earliest questions, however, in Italian antiquities are too abstruse and complex to be stated in narrow limits; and I shall avoid them as much as I can, since they bear but very remotely on the history of Roman literature. At the same time, before I enter on that subject, I am unwilling altogether to omit such a general notice of Italy as may bring before you some remembrances both of its past and recent state. As it is a country where civilization may be said scarcely ever to have died, the glories of its ancient and modern ages reciprocate a lustre on each other; and the imagination, in hearing of its classic places, demands to know wbat objects they now present to the traveller. Literary history, too, is but a dry study when it presents only books and authors, abstracted from all recollections of the scenery, climate, age, and people, in the midst of which they were produced. In speaking of Italy, preparatory to entering on the literature of Rome, I shall of course avoid going too far into such collateral objects of interest; but, for the present, I invite you to accompany me on the map of that country, whilst I endeavour to sketch its geographical picture.
The stupendous Alps may be called the peculiar property of Italy; for though they branch into other countries, this country alone looks up to their whole semicircular chain, extending from the Gulf of Genoa to that of Venice. Hannibal was the first traveller over the Alps who was great enough to make them famous as the natural, though not impregnable, ramparts of Italy. It is clear that he must have passed over Mont Cenis. From thence alone could he have had a view through the vale of Souza to the distance of some thirty miles of the plain which is watered by the Po.
Caesar was the first who thought of subduing Transalpine Gaul. For this purpose he chose the nearest and already well-known way through the territory of the Salassii, over the Grecian Alps and the lesser Saint Bernard, by which route he was brought immediately to the exit of the Rhone out of the Lake of Geneva, and to the neighbourhood of the Helvetians.
Eight years employed in his plan of conquering Gaul, Cæsar drew troops and warlike supplies to his army out of Italy, and every winter he came back thither in person over the same passes of the Alps with an increasing retinue. It was not, however, till Augustus's time that the Romans became very familiar with the Alps, when those mountainous tracts were opened up to them in all directions, and different names were assigned to their different portions. The lowest part of them that dips into the Gulf of Genoa, and separates Nice and Piemont, had been already denominated the Maritime Alps. New appellations, bowever, were now introduced. The chain that divided Gaul and Italy from the sources of the Var and the Stoura to Mont Iseran, were called the Cottian Alps, from Cottius, a Gallic chieftain that reminds us of Caractacus in Britain, though he was more fortunate. From thence to Mont Blanc the mountainous mass was called the Grecian Alps, owing to the fable of Hercules having entered Italy in that direction. From Mont Blanc extends a chain called the Pennine Alps, to Adula, or the greater Mont St. Bernard, which divides the Valey and the rest of Switzerland from Italy. Lastly, the Rhætian Alps cross the Tyrol and approach those of Carinthia, forming a suite of mountains
six hundred miles in sweep, and unparalleled for grandeur and picturequeness.
The following enumeration of the ancient provinces of Italy, though different from the Augustan division, has been adopted by most geographical writers_namely, I, Liguria : II, Gallia Cisalpina : III, Venetia, including the Carni and Histria: IV, Etruria: V, Umbria and Picenum: VI, The Sabini, Æqui, Marsi, Peligni, Vestini, Marrucini : VII, Roma: VIII, Latium: IX, Campania : X, Samnium an the Frentani : XI, Apulia, including Daunia and Messapia, or Japygia : XII, Lucania : XIII, Bruttii.
I. Liguria.-This land, in its old geographical meaning, extended into Gaul, and even to the Pyrenees, where Scylax speaks of the Ligurians and Iberians living together. But when the Romans had mastered Italy, the name of Liguria was limited to its north-western cor
On the west it was bounded by the river Varus, near the Maritime Alps : on the north by the Po, in its course eastward to the vicinity of Placentia. An oblique line along the Apennines as far as the source of the Macra, and then that river itself, formed its eastern limits; whilst the whole of its southern side was open to the sea. Liguria will thus be found to be represented on the modern map by the Duchy of Genoa, and by Southern Piemont up to Mont Viso.
The known residence of the Ligurians in Italy is so remote, that we may safely reject all theories of their Gallic or Celtic or Spanish origin. As little could they be congenerous with the Veneti, who never came to this part of Italy. It may be concluded that they were pure and primitive Itali. Dionysius, indeed, makes them parents of the Siculi, and gives them a king of the name of Italus. That the Ligurians and Siculi lived together at Rome long before the time of Romulus, we are expressly told by Festus.
The military character which Livy gives of this people surpasses even his accustomed eloquence.* During the first Punic war, their troops were the mercenaries of Carthage; and it was not till long after the second, that Rome could be said to have subdued them.
Accustomed as the Romans had been at that time to easier enemies, they would have much rather peaceably exchanged their own wine and oil for the honey and cattle and fine timber of the Ligurians, than have been obliged to besiege them in their highland castles, or to meet their brazen targets and terrific war-cry, that so often surprised them in the narrow glens. But to maintain a western dominion, the mountains of Liguria were an indispensable perch for the Roman Eagle. And after a struggle of eighty years those mountains were won at last ; though not till the natives had been slaughtered or torn alive from their country almost by myriads.
“Is hostis," says Livy of the Ligurians, “velut natns ad continendam inter magnorum intervalla bellorum Romanis militarem disciplinam erat : nec alia provincia militem magis ad virtutem acuebat, Nam Asia, et amenitate urbium, et copia terrestrium maritimarumque rerum, et mollitia hostium regiisque opibus, ditiores qnam fortiores exercitus faciebat. In Liguribus omnia erant quæ militem excitarent : loca montana et aspera quæ et ipsis capere labor est, et ex præ-occupatis dejicere bostem : itinera ardua, angusta, infesta insidiis ; hostis levis et velox et repentinus, qui nullum usquam tempus, nullum locum quietum aut securum esse sineret : oppugnatio necessaria munitorum castellorum laboriosa simul pericuJosaque : inops regio quæ parsimoniâ astringeret milites, prædæ hand multum præberet."
In character, however, the martial Ligurians are described by the ancients as not more moral than their present representatives in Pie. mont are said to be,--of whose turn for extravagant fiction, a modern traveller alleges it to be a decisive proof that they have so many native stories beginning with the words “ AN HONEST PIEMONTESE.”
This part of Italy has but few classical monuments; but to interest the heart and imagination, it still has Genoa and her noble memory, Genoa, that lent her mariners to our English Edwards—that was for a time, indeed, Queen of the Mediterranean--the rival of living Venice, and the likeness of departed Greece—and that still, even in our own days, had patriots courageous enough to execrate the infamous cession of their country to Sardinia by Metternich and Castlereagh.
II. Gallia Cisalpina sometimes meant all Northern Italy; but its limits, more strictly defined, correspond on the modern map only to part of Piemont, together with Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna.
In the reign of Tarquinius Priscus at Rome, the Gauls began their irruptions into Italy, and for seventy years new tribes continued to pour into it through the passes of the Alps. Driving the polished Tuscans out of the country which is now called Lombardy, they pushed on to the south, and at the end of two centuries were within the walls of Rome, from whence they were bought off and not beaten by Camillus. But the tide of destiny changed, the Romans in their turn attacked them; and the Gauls, forced back from the Adriatic to the Po, and from the Po to the Alps, had only a last chance for vengeance and recovery of losses, by attaching themselves to Hannibal. His fate sealed theirs; and twelve years after the second Punic war, Cisalpine Gaul was a Roman province.
At the fall of the empire, the Heruli, under Odoacer, established themselves on both sides of the Po, and made Ravenna their capital; but had scarcely finished their conquests when they were swept down by the Ostrogoths, whose power however was shaken by Belisarius, and destroyed by Narses. But Italy had no sooner been brought back under the power of the eastern emperors than the Longobardi, breaking in from Pannonia and the German forests, in 567, founded a powerful kingdom that bore their name, in the great valley of the Po. Stephen II. the Bishop of Rome, looked with jealousy on this foreign dominion : he crossed the Alps to wait in person on Pepin, King of the Franks, and implored him to come and protect the church in Italy. Pepin accepted the invitation, and fought the enemies of the church. Charlemagne completed the work of his father, in whose house, when a boy twelve years old, he had seen the holy Pontiff. He subdued the Lombards, and on a memorable Christmas night was presented by the Pope with the Roman imperial diadem. Never was there a more dexterous throw of the fisherman's net, or a gift more produetive to the giver. The church obtained a champion, the Bishop of Rome became a spiritual emperor, and the power of church and state was henceforth, with some casual exceptions, indissolubly united.
Yet there was still a spirit of independence in Italy, and the emperors of Germany found it their interest to comply with it. Republican ideas sprang up, and were perpetuated. In the twelfth century all the Lombard cities chose their own magistrates, and deliberated on peace and war, as well as on their local interests. Frederic Barbarossa
was the first emperor who attempted to establish absolute power in Italy. Milan, at that time the head city of Lombardy, was besieged, famished, and reduced to a heap of ruins by that Imperial ruffian. After a truce of terror the oppressed Republics again confederated. Happily Barbarossa was so mad as to attack the Romans, and the Vatican for once launched its thunders on the side of Liberty. The excommunicated emperor was defeated by the Lombards, and with difficulty skulked out of the field. But the feuds of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and the change of elective into hereditary magistrates, effected in those Republics more than external enemies could have done. The Milanese, in the thirteenth century, had eight thousand knights and two hundred and forty thousand men under arms. Into their subsequent history it is hardly interesting to inquire. On the death of the Sforza family, the Duchy of Milan fell to Spain, in 1700, and from thence was consigned to Austria.
Whilst the whole of that tract, the very garden of Italy, which is now called Lombardy, was in the power of the Etrurians, the blessings of its natural fertility must have been enhanced by considerable civilization. Its succeeding occupants, the Gauls, who drank hard, and frequently out of the skulls of their enemies, were unlikely to be scientific farmers, though the country is still described as rich in their possession. By the time of Polybius it was a Roman province, and its productiveness is represented by him as perfectly marvellous ; for, making all allowance for the comparative value of money, a land where the traveller could be sumptuously entertained at an inn at the cost of less than a halfpenny a day, must have been blessed with cheapness, even according to ancient ideas.
Of the present state of Lombardy, under its Austrian masters, statements are different. Charles Pictet, a very recent writer, paints the happiness of its farmers, and the beauty of its farms, in the most enchanting colours. Other travellers, as well as Malte Brun the geographer, speak of it as a country exhibiting extreme contrasts of luxury and wretchedness; and it would be strange indeed, if things were otherwise under a government which, though it has not encouraged exactly the same drinking cups as those of the Gauls, has done its best to degrade and dishonour the skulls of the living. Yet, cursed as it is by a foreign yoke, it is clear that the land is still exuberant and lovely. The luxury of plantation, says Pictet, is so thick over all Lombardy that the eye of the traveller cannot pierce its depth. He journeys on through an horizon that is always veiled before him, and which unfolds itself only as he advances, thus raising a succession of pictures that raise as well as reward the imagination. The plains of Milan also present certain objects that pleasingly resemble the figures of ancient bas reliefs ; such as the low-wheeled and massive rustic cars, the oxen adorned with garlands, the female peasants with their hair buckled up with a silver arrow, the sheep with pendent ears, and the shepherds with their mantles flung gracefully over the left shoulder-familiar and living reminiscences of classical antiquity, that I should think must touch the heart more agreeably than the most elaborate monuments.
III. The north-east angle of Italy, formed by the Alps and the head of the Adriatic Gulf, was the site of the Roman province of Venetia, corresponding, on the modern map, pretty nearly to the territory of the late republic of Venice, or to the eastern part of what Austria calls her
Lombardo Veneto Kingdom ; only the Roman Venetia, from the time of Augustus, included Istria. The Heneti, or Veneti, who gave this region their name, were probably of Sclavonic origin; but their settlement in Italy was so ancient, that it cannot be ascertained whether they found this part of it unoccupied, or displaced the Tuscans. Their fifty cities which are known to have flourished before the Romans came among them, one of which, Patavium, alone,-a place of cloth and other manufactures,-could bring 20,000 men into the field; their famous horses and wines, and their trade in amber, which was so plentiful that strings of it were worn by their poorest women as necklaces, —these, and other circumstances, mark them to have been considerably civilized; but of their language no monument remains.
Constantly fighting with the Gauls, the Veneti early attached themselves to the Romans, and made no opposition to the spreading power of that people in Italy. Rome, in turn, treated them as friends, and allowed them to retain their constitution and their free towns, whilst it delighted in grinding the Gallic hordes. The Venetians therefore prospered under the Roman Empire, but they suffered dreadfully during its fall, from their land being the main thoroughfare between Rome and her enemies; and many of their finest cities never recovered from the devastations of the Goth and the Hun.
In the fifth century, a remnant of the Veneti bad fled from the wasting sword of Alaric to some islands at the mouth of the Brenta, where they founded two small towns, Rivoalto and Malamocco. There they first eluded and then defied succeeding invaders; and in the year 697 those isles had become populous. From the Emperor Leontius they obtained authority to elect a Doge. Pepin, King of Italy, gave them territory on either side of the Adige: and Rivoalto, uniting itself to its dependencies, became modern Venice, with her 150 islands and 300 bridges. In the ninth century this Republic was great at sea ; in the twelfth it equipped Aeets for the Crusaders; in the thirteenth it shared in the capture and spoils of Constantinople : during several centuries it was the vanguard of Europe against the Turks; and for 1300 years never saw a conquering army within its walls, till the French entered it in 1797.
The appearance of Venice is still at once glorious and curious. Its churches, and palaces, and private buildings, have an air of magnificence truly Roman. Its school of painting, excites the noblest recollections; and its rampart for protecting the city and port against the storms and swell of the Adriatic-a vast pile, formed of blocks of Istrian marble, running along the shore and connecting island with island for the space of nineteen miles-reminds us of the Piræus of Athens, and, if finished, would rival any work of human construction.'
Yet, proud as the story of Venice may be, it has nothing illustrative of permanence in human affairs, or in national character. Its government, originally popular and free, was ages ago crushed by the aristocracy, who finally organized a Constitution having oppression for its end, and espionage and assassination for its means.
This gentle government was removed by the horrors of French invasion. Venice was then merged in the Cisalpine Republic, and, in 1805, in the kingdom of Italy. By the Congress of Vienna, it has been since made a part of the Lombard Venetian realm already mentioned.
The Venetian gentlemen draw well under the yoke of Austria ; they