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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, January 05, 1908, Image 20

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We just shake hands at mreting
With many that come nigh;
We nod the bead in greeting
To many that go by —
But welcome through the gateway
Our few old friends and true;
Then arts leap up. and straightway
There* open boose for you.
Old Friends.
There's open house for you!
©he Wftto^&fo gxibunt*
In Ibe course of an amusing essay on "Writ
ing" which he has contributed to "Harper's."
Mr. E. S. Martin shows just the right feeling
for the art which he practises with so much
. leverness. In one passage especially he treats
r f a phase of the subject which is not. perhaps,
as well understood as it ought to be by many
young authors. The latter very often start in
life with an unimpeachable set of principles and
with quite an heroic determination to follow the
highest ideals of truth and beauty, but some
thing is missing from their work, the precious
quality of gusto. Speaking of some of the re
wards of authorship, Mr. Martin adds. 'And
{►■sides all that, writing is interesting work.
Writing i.s exceedingly pleasant if you
can make it go well enough. It is the practice
of as art. and to practise an art with skill is
delightful. . • • To do a good piece of work
satisfies a certain hunger of the mind." Of
coarse the young author will tell you that he
rejoices in his work, that he expects you to take
th.it for granted, yet this is not by any means
the idea to he gathered from the average mod
ern page. Seldom indeed does an author "let
himself go" and communicate to the reader a
siMise of freedom, energy and buoyant interest
in the matter in hand. The effect is rather one
ot intense solicitude for details of craftsman
ship. The result is often very clever writing,
but not the kind of writing which spells vital
ity and a seus? of delight in the mind of the
author. Is it that the author is too often pre
occupied with theories of style — and the hope
jf tangible reward?
The English journals continue to print rather
plaintive observations on the decision of the
committee which gave the Nobel prize for litera
ture to Mr. Kipling. Some critics, like the one
'quoted in The Tribune last Sunday, are espe
cially struck by the irony of the incident. Mr.
Kipling, they think, is hardly the man to be
rewarded as one having produced "the most re
markable literary work of an idealist tendency.
But what more particularly disturbs the com
mentator is not so much the committee's misap
prehension of the author chosen (to whom, in
deed, no one seems really to grudge the prize)
as its strange indifference to the claims of the
three veterans in English letters. Mr. Meredith
Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Hardy. It is said that
'hi per cent of the Englishmen called upon to
take part in the prize-giving voted in favor of
Mr. Swinburne. The action of their Continental
colleagues in ignoring their view of the matter
lias bewildered more than one English observer.
It is. no doubt, a little puzzling, but, on the other
hand, it is always interesting and even helpful
for the countrymen of a distinguished writer to
I* • brought face to face with foreign opinion of
him. After all. may not this episode serve to
remind the blind adorers of Mr. Swinburne—
who have got into the habit of calling him the
greatest living poet. and. by an easy transition,
have come to think of him r.s one of the greatest
poets in history— that he is not, whin all is
said, absolutely impeccable? No one with any
sense of literature could fail to perceive the
genius in Mr. Meredith's novels, but because his
countrymen can forgive him his eccentricities of
style are we to expect a foreigner to forget those
same defects? It ought not to be so very diffi
cult to understand why the Nobel committee did
not share the Swinburnian fervor of its British
I In the opinion of "The DiaT the disposition
■M the American novelist to turn muck raker has
had two unfortunate consequences. The fiction
/>ut forth by our latter-day school of exposure in
the first place "presents as a whole a picture of
OUT national life that is absolutely ■atypical,
however exactly an occasional instance may
exemplify it." Furthermore, we are told, "the
novelists who thus lend themselves to sensa
tionalism are deliberately putting themselves
into alliance with the yellow journalism which is
oi:r chief national disgrace." To both these
charges it might be retorted that the muck rak
ing novelist has nevertheless been doing, in his
way. some good, but the point ou which we pre
fer to dwell is the harm done by this type of
:iuthor in helping to open a breach between fic
tion and literature. Other causes have con
tributed to the making of that breach, notably
the rapid pouring forth of stories written to sell.
ISut the writer who frames a novel along re
formatory lines, simply to catch the favoring
gale and satisfy the curiosity of the hour, is
especially to be dreaded by those who love fic
tion as an art. His book is. indeed, only a book
because it happens to be printed between covers.
It rarely possesses the qualities that belong to a
.work of literature. The novelists who strive to
preserve the true character of their art may
some day find it necessary to invent a new cate
gory for their works, to distinguish themselves
by a new name from the writers of •reform"
Its Place in the Hwtoty of Old
Italian Despotism.
V;y(V cilia M. A.iy. Edited by Kdw:ir.l Arm
strong With twenty illustrations and a n.ap.
Svo. pp. xii. 351. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
The social and political conditions in Italy
during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
have been traversed by many historians. and
every student Is familiar with the manner in
which the despots of these days carved out their
different principalities. Nevertheless a place
has been kept waiting for just such a series as
the one on "The States of Italy" which is begun
with thus sketch of Milan under the Sforzas. The
idea of the series Is to set forth in clear relief
the fortunes of a number of typical govern
ments, treating each one as a little world, and
giving it thereby a kind of personal interest
which it is apt to lose, in a measure, if it is con
sidered only as forming part and parcel of the
broad history of the Peninsula. This essentially
human portrayal of a given state is not only
justified by the singular independence of this or
that tyrannical house: it is bound to leave a
deeper impression upon the general reader,
stirnulnting his interest and aiding him to ob
tain a firmer grasp upon historical developments.
Mr. Edward Armstrong and Mr. R. Langton
Douglas, the general editors of the new series,
have adopted a good plan and they have chosen,
in the author of the present volume, a useful
contributor. Miss Ady i.s perhaps a little long
winded, but her narrative i.s fairly well ar
ranged, and in the course of it she brings out
precisely what the reader wants to know. She
tells him who the Sfcraaa were, how they found
Milan and how they left it.
It was the opinion of Maehiavelli that if the
soldier of fortune was often, as he well knew,
a serviceable type, be was also a menace to his
employer. How could the successful man at
arms, working at his trade for so much cash
in hand, be expected to rest content with only
a sordid reward? If he had the brains to be a
leader of men would he not naturally desire
to lead them in politics as well as in war' The
Italian comiottitri were, indeed, in many cases
soldiers with the aspirations and sometimes
with the genius of statesmen, and once started
upon a military career they came almost in
evitably to desire territorial possessions and
political power. The founder of the house of
Sforza, as it happened, lived and died a man
of the camp, pure and simple, but his son was
avid of civil no less than of military authority,
and such were the opportunities of the time
that he made himself in due course Duke of
Milan. The first Sforza got his name through
the wit of a commander, who thus signalized
bis "great strength and fiery nature," but he
was born Mazio Attendolo. lie was of lowly
origin, if legend may be believed. "One day,"
it is said, "when a troop of mercenaries were
riding through the flat, marshy country be
tween Ravenna and Bologna, they came upon
a peasant lad who was cutting wood near his
native town of Cotignola. Struck by the boy's
appearance, they called out to him to join them.
He replied by throwing his axe into the
branches of .in adjacent oak: if it stays. I
will go.' he cried. The ax.- stuck in the tree
and Sforza went forth to found a line of
dukes." The story may or may not be true.
It hardly matters. The main point is that in
the early fifteenth century an unknown youth
was able, on embracing the life of a soldier
of fortune, to win his way through sheer abil
ity to a position of extraordinary weight.
I'rinces competed for km services, ami he saw
that he was well paid in lands and money.
When, crossing a river, he «M drowned in the
effort to save ■ favorite page from the swift
current. Msda ! -ft his son ft Ml Ml* a well
trained aoHliw of tv.-enty-thrc?. m possession at
once of a /rood f.P'htirs machine and of a def
inite place in the turbulent political system of
the period.
M ■■-•■ heir was for a time an apparently
complaisant servant of Milan and the Vlsconti.
Bat presently, in order to retain him, the duke
had to bid against Florence with something
more than money. He promised Sforza the hand
(.From a photograph.)
of his illegitimate daughter. Ittanea Maria, and
though after the betrothal he sought to squirm
out of the bargain his agreement had inflamed
an ambition which nothing could withstand.
Francesco Sforza was as patient as he was
clever. He made up his mind that his marriage
with Bianca Maria would take place and that it
would serve as a stepping stone to his estab
lishment upon the ducal throne at Milan. Play
ing a waiting game and never allowing any
favorame chance to slip by him he ultimately
had his wish. When Filippo Maria Visconti
died and his rule gave place to that of the so
called Ambrosian Republic, the man who had
married his daughter saw that his day had come.
Self-government was the last thing in the world
for which the Italians of the Renaissance were
prepared. "Instead of providing for the defence
of Milan." says Miss Ady, "the Republic passed
decrees forbidding barbers to shave on saints'
days." The Milanese needed a master, and
Sforza hovered around their gates, watching for
the psychological moment which would call for
(From the m^Uu! by Soeiundio.)
his intervention. It soon came, and by a process
which in its sudden picturesque character sug
gests pure romance, he was lifted by the anas
of a grateful populace to the seat of his wily
father-in-law. In that seat he ham himself
with wisdom, and. above all things, with discre
tion, showing sterling judgment la hid for
eign policy and exercising in his home admin
istration some severity as regards taxation tot.
on the whole, a genuine solicitude for the well
being of his subjects.
Obviously, the history " Milan under thin
r,oldier and his successors Is nothing r.or» nor
less than the history of so many personalities.
You see the duchy waxing or waning 33
the reigning duke is strong or weak. Franc***),
though crafty and cruel. mi occasion require^
after the fashion of the RecaLssar.ee. was aa
able ruler. Haleazzo. his son and successor,
was not without talent, but extravagant and
sinister traits cut short his r-!^n Qms C*.
ltazzo, proclaimed duke on the day of hit
father's assassination, had every mama to mi>
pose that his rights would be respected, bat
those right? were destined to be ignored th#
moment Lodovico Sforza appeared upon the
scene, for the very simple reason that II Moro
was the stronger man. That is the history of
Milan, and. for that matter, of every other
Renaissance principality, in a nutshell. Might
made right. In that stew of politics, in that
chaos of manners, men could be sure of but
one thing— the survival of the fittest. So. as
Miss Ady follows the sequence of eve" th?
reader is scarcely conscious of those thirg'
which ordinarily count in the lives of govem
irents; he thinks rather of Milan an the sport
of warring Individualities, as a ball tossei
about through one fantastic disturbance after
another. With the fall of Lodovlco the house
of Sforza does not immediately disappear, but
it never recovers anything like the splendor
which it enjoyed in his day or in that of Fran
cesco, and. as time wears on. the state loses its
high significance until it counts merely as a
pawn in the game of the Hapsburgs.
Milanese history contains much that is cS
moment to the student of the liberal arts. The
Sforzas continued what the Visconti had begun
in enriching their domain with sumptuous mon
uments. The Certosa of Pavia hi one beautiful
souvenir of their architectural pride, and ttsl
stately Caste.: > of Milan is another. It '■'■ ■
in Milan that Bramante produced some of the
most interesting fruits of his great genius, ar.i
it was to the court of II Moro that Leonard?
brought hi- marvellous Rifts. The Sforza?.
once in the saddle, were quick to exert that
beneficent influence upon the artist and t*e
man of letters whirl) was the special preroga
tive of the Renaissance prince. Yet the thins:
that makes this house significant m the stu
dent remain-, when all is said, sirrply its illus
tration of the tremendous scope of individuality
in the era of Italian greatness. This book is
the history of a state, but the state was t!se
appanage of a family in a sense absolutely pe
culiar to the Renaissance. Never before or
since has the potentiality at statecraft ars<! tie
sword, in the aggrandizement of the hwHvidtxal
been more vividly exemplified than in the rapi*!
rise and fall of the line of Sformn.

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