페이지 이미지

confines of the small but honored state, he respected its liberties. Receiving most graciously the ambassadors from San Marino, in an elegant address, he alluded to the singular preservation of their freedom, and promised his protection ; at the same time offering to enlarge their possessions, and tendering, as an indication of his respect and good will, a present of two field-pieces. Monge, the ambassador, made an eloquent reply, gratefully acknowledging the courtesy of Napoleon and applauding his forbearance. The people declined his offers and present; but in commemoration of the occasion, added the 12th of

February, 1797, as another joyous anniversary, to the republic's calendar.

The original government was simply paternal. The laws sprang from necessity, were improved by experience, and modified from time to time, according to the circumstances and wants of the people. Two captains, one from the signors and one from the citizens at large, are elected every six months. No individual can be re-elected oftener than once in three years. Thus all deserving the honor, serve in turn. No prejudice exists with respect to age, very young men being frequently chosen when of great promise or proved worth. It is only indispensable that the captains should be natives of the republic. The legislative body consists of a council of seventy and another of twelve. A judicial magistrate is also elected triennially by the council. The state includes a circuit of twenty-five miles, and its present population is between six and seven thousand.

Such is a brief sketch of the history of San Marino.

Its long immunity from conquest and despotism and the remarkable perpetuity of its institutions, are doubtless owing, in no small measure to its insignificant size and almost impregnable position. Still the place cannot but possess a singular interest in the view of a pilgrim from the New World, especially when its present condition is contrasted with that of the rest of Italy, and more particularly of the surrounding territory. A few humble domi. ciles scattered along the lower ridge of the mountain, and separated by a narrow and rugged street, constitute “ Il Borgo.” Thence, ascending by a circuitous path, we soon arrived at a larger collection of houses which form the capital of the republic. It differs not essentially from similar Italian towns, except that the streets are narrower and more straggling. The new church, just completed, is a pretty edifice built of travertina, excavated near by, after the design of Antonio Sara. The twelve apostles in stucco, placed in niches, ornament the interior, and near the altar is a handsome marble statue of Saint Marino, recently executed by a Roman Sculptor. He is represented holding a scroll, upon which the arms of the republic (three towers surmounted by as many pens, significant of the union of strength and wisdom) are sculptured in bronze, with the word LIBERTAS. This edifice continues as in ancient times, the place of elections as well as of worship. There is a little theatre where dilletanti occasionally perform. I was at some pains to enter this miniature temple of Thespis, for the sake of standing in the only theatre in Italy exempt from censorship, and where, although the audience is small and the spot isolated, free expression is given to any sentiment or opinion which the people choose to utter or applaud. Crossing a grass-grown and solitary court near the walls, where four or five cisterns alone gave signs of the vicinity of man, we entered a small and time-worn building ornamented by an old tower and clock, and ascending a narrow flight of steps, were ushered into the council-room. A few wooden seats scattered over the brick floor, upon the back of which are rudely painted the arms of the re. public, surround an ancient chair covered with crimson velvet, placed beneath a canopy of the same hue. A mutilated picture of the Holy Family by Giulio Romano, and a bust of their favorite ambassador, Antonio Hopup. hrio, are the only ornaments of which the apartment boasts. I had lingered, but a day or two previous, in the magnificent halls of some of the Bolognese nobility, where the silken drapery, rich marbles and splendid works of art, weary the gaze. But this plain and unadorned cham. ber possessed an interest which their profuse decorations failed to inspire. It bespoke narrower resources but a richer spirit. The presence of freedom seemed to hallow every sunbeam that played upon the undecked walls. Nor have mightier principalities disdained, in our day, to recognize the little republic. Among its archives are many communications from the several Italian governments, the late king of Spain, and the present king of France. Not long since, a prior being discovered manifesting a disposition to intrigue beyond his appropriate sphere, was bound, conducted to the confines and banished. The only organized force is the militia, who are bound to second the executive and judicial magistrates. The people, however, are distinguished for their probity and peaceful habits. Most of them are engaged in agriculture. The only peculiar trait observable among them, is an inflexible attachment to their peculiar insti. tutions and an earnest spirit of freedom. But recently, an archbishop whose province of duty properly embraced two towns, one of which was San Marino, abandoned the latter in disgust, because he could not induce the people, on public ocasions, to salute him before their own rulers. Every half-year, they go in a body to the church, and deposite their vote for captains in a silver vase. The result of the election is made known at evening, and they accompany the successful candidate home, with torches. Before leaving the town, I ascended to the old castle. The walls command a most extensive and beautiful prospect, embracing the plains of Lombardy, a broad sweep of wild, undulating hills, the mountain of Ancona and the waters of the Adriatic. It was a delightful pastime to sit in the pleasant sunshine of autumn, and gazing from this little spot of free earth over such a landscape, let the imagination luxuriate amid the thrilling associations of the scene. We found but one occupant of the prison. The gate was opened by a pretty blue-eyed woman, the wife of the gaoler, who follows the trade of a cobbler in the belfry of one of the three tow rs. There is one horrid dungeon where a traitor priest suffered a long imprison. ment; but the number of available cells is only three which speaks well for the general character of the people.


When, on our return, we reached the little bridge which divides the republican territory from Rimini, a venerable woman was leaning upon the parapet, her


hair fluttering in the wind, in earnest conversation with a hardy stripling who stood at a short distance from her. He was a political fugitive who had found safety within the bounds of San Marino, and she was his mother just arrived from a town in the vicinity to visit him. The incident excited a pleasing train of reflections. San Marino has rendered no small service to the cause of liberty, by sheltering the many unfortunate victims of unsuccessful revolution. For such she has ever a welcome. The pope has been obliged to compromise with the republicans, by agreeing that refugees from his territory may travel unmolested for a certain period, with a passport from the authorities of San Marino. This ar rangement has been eminently serviceable in protecting the persons and rights of the liberals, and excited much gratitude and respect towards the state.

The setting sun gleamed upon the summit of the mountain, as I turned back to take a farewell glimpse of this little nestling-place of freedom. I remembered the contented and happy looks of the peasantry, and recalled the testimony they all so cordially bore to the superior privileges they enjoyed. I mused upon the remarkable preservation of that isolated spot amid the unhappy destinies of the

I strove to impress the picturesque locality upon my memory; and pleased my heart with the thought that there was still one little green leaf in the withered crown of Italy.

« 이전계속 »