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life and death, the many privileges they received during the fifteenth and sixteenth century, enabled them to take part in all the political factions and civil feuds of the day, and to decide the most important contests ; though, like true women, they often attached themselves to the least powerful party, and abandoned the magnificence of their convent to share the exile of their friends and partizans. Enjoying the greatest credit, by the talents, graces, and high birth which led to their monastic elevation, making head against their bishops, in the struggle for jurisdiction, resisting all attempts to subject them à la clôture, availing themselves of the sanction of the convent, yet participating in all the pleasures and passions of society, courting fame, and alive to glory, they sought to illustrate their conventual reign by such enterprises as were calculated to give their names to posterity.
Among these priestesses of Catholicism, Giovanna di Piacenza was conspicuous for taste, talent, and magnificence. Elected in the flower of her youth and beauty to the abbess's chair at Parma, she began her reign by erecting a sanctuary, worthy of Cnidus, among the rude cloisters of her monastic seclusion. For the purpose of decorating an apartment dedicated to her own exclusive use, and intended as a monument of her refined taste and patronage of the arts, she invited some of the most distinguished artists of Parma and Modena, but she chose the young and obscure Antonio Allegri of Reggio, called Il Corregio ; and she herself selected those subjects which he so beautifully executed, and which were copied or imitated from the antique.
Here were no fearful exhibitions of human suffering, “ for the love of God,”— no martyrs broiled, ---no saints agonized. Sacrifices indeed there were ; but they were innoxious sacrifices offered by young and beautiful priestesses on the altars of Jupiter and Vesta.
Had the accomplished abbess confined the gratification of her tastes to such representations of classical imagery, she might have been pardoned. But she had borrowed more from the ancients than their tastes or their arts ;-she had drawn from their pages their love of liberty and noble independence; and she had long resisted the attempts of the bishops and pope to interfere with her jurisdiction.
After a long and noble struggle against the encroachment of the church tyranny, she fell a victim to its resistless power. Her convent was cloistered, and cut off from all human intercourse; and she survived her living entombment but a short time. Her favourite apartment, the monument of her taste, her learning, and her liberality, closed hermetically, even against the sisters of the order, was at last forgotten. The oblivion of near three centuries, concealed from the study and admiration of successive generations those chefs-d'ouvre which the enterprize of modern virtù finally discovered, for the benefit of a declining art, that had long ceased to produce a Corregio.
While I resided at Rome, my head was still running on “ Giovanna of Piacenza,"--when two other subjects fell in my way, (for my work on Italy wrote itself); one of these was Salvator Rosa, not as I have since given it to the public, but as an Italian romance. The idea came into my head as I was sauntering with Cardinal Fesch through the sumptuous rooms of his superb palace, just after we had been looking at one of Salvator's pictures. On my return home I sketched out the first chapter of my romance ; but the genius, character, and literary works of Salvator grew into such importance in my mind,“ his times” appeared so full of interest, that I threw aside my romance, and produced his life, one of the most successful of all my trifling works.
Still, in the repertory of my imagination lay my Abbess of Parma, until at last I found a niche for her, in “ the O'Briens 'and O'Flahertys," where something of her character, and a literal description of her apartment, in the monastery of St. Paul, is given ; and there she figures away as the Abbess of Moy Cullen. Au reste," all that is said in that novel of the foundress of the “ holy heart," is historically true: a young, clever, and wealthy religieuse, acting by the agency of the Jesuits, did found that mystic worship, which is still throughout Catholic Europe a sign and a focus of jesuitism.
THE CAP OF LIBERTY.
The cap of liberty, which still adorned the milestones near the French capital, in 1813, and which were to have been effaced, in order to make way for Napoleon's eagle, were supplanted at the restoration by the fleur de lis. This is the history of the French revolution in a single sentence.
Among the Romans, the presentation of a cap was part of the ceremony observed in the manumission of slaves, and, therefore, perhaps, it was adopted as an emblem of freedom. The custom is still preserved at the investiture of a doctor in the university graduations. The circumstance gives a strong meaning to a whimsical speech of Sir R. St. G., who, at the celebrated Catholic dinner at the Black Abbey, at Kilkenny, got very tipsy. During the process he had made several efforts to be as eloquent as his neighbours, but was coughed