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COUNCIL OF BASLE.

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night, these rough gems, to be arranged as shirt and wrist buttons. Mottoes, now of grave, now of merry import, placed over mouldering door-ways and under mullioned windows, occasionally greet the eye of the antiquary; but they are growing each day rarer, and a hundred years hence, excepting the grand features of the city, Bâsle will probably become like the ancient Roman colony of Deutz across the Rhine at Cologne, of which a German said, with much naïveté, to the writer, when expressing astonishment at the exceeding modernness of the streets," it was its being so very old that makes it now so very

new.

It was at the epoch of the long duration of the council, held for the reformation of ecclesiastical abuses from 1431 to 1444, that Eneas Sylvius Pic

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*The greatest of all innovators - the destroyer of gilded palaces, the obliterator of monumental inscriptions, of sculptured column and animated statue-Time, has passed his ruthless scythe so remorselessly over the birthplace of Agrippina, that tradition fails to mark out even the sites of the edifices occupied by Claudius and Germanicus, and their Roman legions at Deutz-whilst at Augusta Rauracorum-the extensive settlement of which Bâsle was a colony, so that Erasmus in playful moments loved to style himself a Roman citizen, -scarcely a vestige remains above ground; though, beneath the flowery meads and waving crops, the ground is so full of relics of these ancient masters of the world, that each year commonly brings to light some long-buried memento of their reign. The author possesses a very curious and perfect lamp, found in a cottager's garden four years ago.

colomini, elevated twenty-two years afterwards to the pontifical throne under the name of Pius II., at that period the courtly secretary of the excellent Cardinal di Fermo, Archbishop of Arles, composed a description of Bâsle, for which city he always preserved so affectionate a remembrance, that one of his first acts on attaining the tiara was to found, at the request of the citizens, the university, which has subsequently counted so long a list of learned members. The original Latin MS., dated 1436, is now in the public library of Bâsle. It was printed in 1577. A translation soon appeared in the German language, and eventually in the French. He witnessed, from the top of a tower, the bloody fight of Saint Jacobthe Marathon, or rather the Thermopyla, of Switzerland; and bears unbiassed testimony to the wondrous valour which enabled 1200 men to repulse 40,000, commanded by the élite of the French and Austrian nobility under the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI. More than four centuries have passed away since this accomplished observer, whose abilities were far in advance of his principles, wrote in the purest Latin this description; and yet all the great outlines of the picture drawn by his skilful hand remain the Rhine still rapidly pours a broad deep flood of pale green over its rocky bed; the great square is daily filled with the choicest fruits and vegetables; the picturesque costume of the young

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maidens is unaltered, and admirably calculated to display that beauty of form and features which he (no mean judge) so enthusiastically lauds. The churches are, indeed, no longer studded with elegant tribunes (such as are now to be seen in Italy) where the patrician ladies sat to hear mass; and the relics, and statues, and holy paintings have all disappeared, for Bâsle is eminently Protestant; but the forty-six fountains, supplying ever-gushing streams of the most limpid water, suggesting springs cool, deep, and sanative the well-furnished shops, and general air of wealth pervading the whole aspect of the city the ramparts, gates, cloisters, and style of architecture, attest the minute accuracy of his details.*

*Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini, sprung from a noble and gifted family of Sienna, was unquestionably one of the ablest men of his age. The powers of his extraordinary mind and splendid pen were first displayed at Bâsle, during the council, by his warm support of that learned body against papal authority. He was then private secretary to the good Archbishop of Arles, perhaps the most strenuous advocate of the proposed reforms-subsequently to the council, appointed in gratitude for the zeal, energy, and ability he evinced in its favour ; and lastly to the Emperor Frederick the Third. Though highly born he was poor, and owed his first elevation to the subtle arguments he employed in defending the council : his next, to the equally skilful and statesman-like manœuvres with which he brought about its dissolution when his own interests and the wishes of the emperor decided him to pursue an opposite course. Learned, elegant, accomplished, and courteous, he was much admired at Bâsle; and, when raised to the papal throne, he remembered the favours bestowed on the

The interior arrangements of the houses of the rich citizens and gentils-hommes, he says, yielded in no respect to those of Florence, - a high compliment, when it is remembered that Florence was the seat of the refined government of the Medici. He expatiates on the pretty exotic birds, shut up in costly prisons of gilded wire, whose sweet chants beguiled the hours of their fair mistresses, as they sat employing their delicate fingers in all the mysteries of stitchery, or pored over the dreary legends of saints; and the small pendant gardens, tastefully disposed in long baskets under the bay windows, filling the apartments with the odorous perfume of flowers and shrubs. He praises the citizens for their attention to commerce and business-like habits; and wisely, since all that embellishes life, or that leads to the intercourse of different nations, springs from that source; whilst the beneficent reciprocity of blessings and benefits necessarily leads to amelioration of the heart and manners. Yet Bâsle, as a mercantile entrepôt, must then have been much behind the importance it afterwards reached; for, commenting on the

young unknown secretary of the Cardinal of Arles. This is perhaps (excepting his love of learning) the most pleasing trait in the character of one so entirely destitute of honourable feeling and real principle. His papal excommunication (in his official character as Pope Pius II.) of himself as Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini, for having dared to defend the councils against popes, is a matchless piece of effrontery and singularity.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BALOISES. 9

accelerated rapidity of the Rhine, as it rushes from the cataract of Schaffhausen, he says, "no vessels can ascend the adverse tide from Strasbourg." What would he have thought could a magician's wand, or Prince Achmed's telescope directed through a vista of four hundred years into futurity, have shown him the Adler of the Upper Rhine, that most elegant of elegant steamers, decorated with gay pavilions of every colour, fearlessly dashing forward on her brilliant but hazardous enterprise, till, panting and foaming, she stopped to land her cosmopolite multitudes in triumph at the very foot of the old bridge?

Æneas, then twenty-six years of age, next offers his warm tribute of admiration to the personal charms of the ladies of Bâsle, which he thinks were rather obscured than heightened by their rich habiliments, and profuse display of jewelry. Balls, it appears, were frequent, at which no plebeian could be present unless adorned in some civic dignity or excessively rich; in which case, he hints, that a golden key sometimes opened the doors at Bâsle as elsewhere. Another writer of celebrity, Daniel l'Ermite, a native of Antwerp, who accompanied the French ambassador into Switzerland about 1600, also bears testimony to the loveliness of the Bâloises, and speaks of their costume as alike elegant and magnificent. He says they bear away the palm from their gentle compatriots, not excepting those of

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