Lapas attēli

which, however, is based upon a variant of the older tradition; for in this case the lover takes leave of his bride on the eve of their wedding-day, and is seen no more in life. They sought him east, they sought him west,

They sought him all the Forest thorough;
They only saw the cloud of night,

They only heard the roar of Yarrow.'

He, 'wandering in the night so dark,' had been drowned in Yarrow stream, and the despairing bride makes his destiny hers.

'She found his body in the stream,

And now with him she sleeps in Yarrow.'

But it was not till Wordsworth wandered north from Rydal that the rose-red flower of Yarrow's pathos and pain pulsed into everlasting bloom; that its solemn and tender beauty became the inheritance of all. Scott had sung for us its chivalry and romance, and Hogg its old-world legendary lore; but it was reserved for Wordsworth to discover the secret springs of its power over the human heart, and to give the feelings of all expression through his own. This is the golden gift which every great poet bequeaths to the world. Yarrow opened its heart to the poet, and he his to us.

'Meek loveliness is round thee spread,

A softness still and holy,

The grace of forest charms decayed,
And pastoral melancholy.'

The very soul of Yarrow is in the verse; the expression is perfect. No one can doubt this who has ever stood in Yarrow vale, amid the silence of its far-receding hills-a silence intensified, not broken, by the low murmur of the haunted stream; and with a light like that of dreamland lying over all.


ART. II.-1. Projet d'Empoisonnement de Mahomet II.
M. DE MAS LATRIE. Archives de l'Orient Latin. Tome I.
Paris: 1881.

2. Errori Vecchi e Documenti Nuovi. Da RINALDO FULIN. Atti del Reale Istituto Veneto. Tom. ottavo. Serie quinta. Venice: 1881.

3. Secrets

d'Etat de Venise. Par VLADIMIR LAMANSKY. St. Petersburg: 1884.


HE three works whose titles stand at the head of this article have raised and, we believe, exhausted the charge against the Venetian Council of Ten as regards the use of poison for political purposes. Hitherto the question has appeared under various aspects. Popular opinion, formed by the pen of romancers, has painted the Ten as a dark, mysterious body, employing all the horrors of dungeons, torture, poison, to heighten the terror which its name inspired. More critical students of Venetian history have been inclined, on the other hand, to treat this popular opinion as a gross exaggeration. Now we know the whole truth on the subject of State poisonings in Venice. The careful examinations of the archives of the Ten by those patient students, M. Fulin and M. Lamansky, leave few, if any, new documents to be discovered. And we are able to measure, upon the fullest evidence, the culpability or the innocence of the governing Council in the Venetian Republic.

In his Projet d'Empoisonnement' M. de Mas Latrie brought serious charges of political immorality against the Council of Ten, and declared that 'le dépouillement intégral 'et sincère de tout ce qui reste des archives du Conseil 'impose à la conscience des écrivains Vénitiens' who intend to so defend their country against the charge. To this challenge the late M. Fulin replied, in the same year, by his articles entitled Errori Vecchi e Documenti Nuovi ;' and four years later M. Lamansky, in his vast collection of documents, completes M. Fulin's labours, and, at the same time, renews M. de Mas Latrie's charge against the Republic.

The whole subject of assassinations in Italy possesses a sinister interest. It includes those terrible and picturesque stories which have so often served the pen of our playwrights; tragedies that find their home peculiarly in Italy of the Renaissance; the stories of the Cenci, Vittoria Accoramboni, Lorenzino de' Medici, Caraffa, and many others.

These dark passages form the romance of history rather than belong to history itself in its higher departments. But the widest and deepest interest which attaches to such episodes of crime and blood lies rather in the general question which they raise. How are we to explain the attitude of a people refined, cultivated, far from brutal in their tastes and in their vices, who yet freely admitted the use of such atrocious weapons as the poisoned dagger and cup? and that, too, not merely in private life, where the fury of revenge may account for the horror of many deaths, but even in their political relations with foreign powers, where these revolting weapons were necessarily used in cold blood, and where treachery was adopted with as little scruple as open war is now declared.

It is this phenomenon of murder justified as a weapon, and admitted in the code of international law, that attracts and rivets our attention. That we have not exaggerated the frequency of attempted assassination the books under discussion will abundantly prove. That we do not over-estimate the sanction of assassination will be made clear by the following passages taken from a variety of authorities upon political ethics; although we must remember that the whole question was, as Cocceius has it, materia intricata admodum et hactenus non satis extricata.' St. Thomas Aquinas in the famous passage of his 'Summa' says, 'It is not lawful to slay anyone except upon the public authority ' and for the common weal.' He who exercises the public ' authority and kills a man in his own defence justifies his 'action on the ground of the commonweal.' Again, Baldus declares, It is lawful to slay your enemy by poison.' Cocceius argues that assassins and poisons are not admissible weapons in time of war, unless the war may be absolutely terminated by their means. Grotius is even more explicit Quem interficere liceat,' he says, 'eum gladio aut veneno interimas nihil interest, si jus naturæ respicias; and he confirms this dictum by adding that 'to slay your 'enemy wherever you find him is sanctioned not only by the law of nature, but also by the law of nations; nor will it serve to prove the contrary that those who are arrested for such acts are put to death in torments, for that is only 'another proof of the law of nations that against foes all is 'permissible;' upon which Gronovius remarks, 'And there'fore you may slay your enemy when he is unarmed, unawares, even asleep.' And this is what Burlamaqui has upon the point: To the question whether the assassination ' of a foe be lawful, I reply yes, if the agent of the assassina

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tion be a subject of the prince who employs him.' We would call attention to this curious reservation made by Burlamaqui; it introduces a new point in political ethics, a point to which we shall presently return. Finally, Puffendorff decides that war, while it lasts, breaks all bonds of reciprocal rights and duties, and that in taking arms against us our enemy has granted us an unlimited faculty to employ against him all possible acts of hostility.

So far, then, the lawyers. If we turn to the Church, we find the same principles enunciated with even greater frankness, especially as regards tyrannicide. The churchmen

were, of course, influenced by the examples of Jael, Judith, and others. Mariana 'de Rege et Regis Institutione,' cap. vi., speaking of the assassination of Henry III. by Jacques Clement, says, 'Nuperque in Gallia monumentum nobile est 'constitutum . ... quo Principes doceantur impios ausus 'haud impune cadere;' and adds, doubtless referring to St. Thomas, that Clement learned from the theologians that it is lawful to slay a tyrant. Mariana observes, it is true, that the Council of Constance had condemned this doctrine, but no Pope had ever approved the condemnation, and therefore it was invalid in the eyes of good churchmen. For a general defence of assassination and easements for the same we will refer our readers to that curious collection of Jesuitical opinions compiled, under the title of Artes 'Jesuitica,' by Cristianus Alethophilus;' warning them, however, that the compilation is hostile.


The passages we have just cited abundantly prove the laxity of view upon this question of assassination-a laxity which began in Italy, but spread all over Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. On the part of lawyers, as on the part of churchmen, there was a steady and determined attempt to bring the crime of assassination within the pale of international and of ecclesiastical law. This is the phenomenon which we propose to study-to trace its origin, its growth, its justification, the reasons which induced men to accept so monstrous a proposition, its inherent weakness, and its failure.

In examining the documents before us we see that the assassinations with which they deal fall under four heads: tyrannicide, political assassination, executionary assassination, and private assassination. The attitude of men's minds towards assassination varied as the kind varied. Executionary assassination, the murder of a fugitive criminal, sanctioned or even invited by the government from

which he was flying, we may dismiss at once from our consideration. In the period of which we treat such retribution hardly required any justification. There were simply two methods of procedure against criminals: the ordinary method of justice, which ended in an execution; the extraordinary, or supplemental method of justice, which ended in an assassination. Private assassination, too, though frequent enough, was never, so far as we know, recognised as a possibly legitimate act by the secular power, whatever attempts the Jesuits may have made to palliate the crime in order to establish their own ascendency over the actions and the consciences of their penitents. This leaves for our consideration the two species of tyrannicide and political assassination, or assassination used as a weapon against foes of the state.

The point of view which justified tyrannicide is not difficult to understand. The crimes and cruelties of princes have frequently rendered them intolerable to their subjects. There is a point beyond which human endurance will not go. Mariana (loc. cit.) lays it down that Principum potentiam imbecillam esse si reverentia ab animis subdi'torum semel abscesserit.' The greatness of the prince's position, however, the number of his guards, the power and importance of those who are attached to his throne by personal and selfish motives, the enormous difficulties in the way of successful revolution, all render his person impervious to any attack except the secret and perfidious attack of the assassin.

The authority of the ancients, the study of Plutarch, the praises lavished on the names of Harmodius, of Brutus, of almost all tyrannicides, became an incentive to those who thirsted for fame, or were enamoured of liberty. The famous conspiracy against the Medici in 1512-13 will occur to every one, and the cry of Boscoli to his friend Lucca della Robbia, "Ah! Lucca, take Brutus from my heart, that I may die entirely Christian.'

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Lorenzino de' Medici's* Apology for the Murder of Ales'sandro, Duke of Florence,' is a document full of instruction in this regard. Lorenzino opens with a defence of his action generally, based upon the example of the ancients, and the sacred duty imposed on each one to secure political freedom for himself and his fellow citizens. He then comes to a more difficult part of the count against him, the opinion of those who maintain that, although Alexander was a tyrant,

* See J. A. Symonds, 'Italian Byeways,' p. 253.

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