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Pasquin And Marforio
by [?]

All the world have heard of these statues: they have served as vehicles for the keenest satire in a land of the most uncontrolled despotism. The statue of Pasquin (from whence the word pasquinade) and that of Marforio are placed in Rome in two different quarters. Marforio is an ancient statue of Mars, found in the Forum, which the people have corrupted into Marforio. Pasquin is a marble statue, greatly mutilated, supposed to be the figure of a gladiator.[1] To one or other of these statues, during the concealment of the night, are affixed those satires or lampoons which the authors wish should be dispersed about Rome without any danger to themselves. When Marforio is attacked, Pasquin comes to his succour; and when Pasquin is the sufferer, he finds in Marforio a constant defender. Thus, by a thrust and a parry, the most serious matters are disclosed: and the most illustrious personages are attacked by their enemies, and defended by their friends.

Misson, in his Travels in Italy, gives the following account of the origin of the name of the statue of Pasquin:–

A satirical tailor, who lived at Rome, and whose name was Pasquin, amused himself by severe raillery, liberally bestowed on those who passed by his shop; which in time became the lounge of the newsmongers. The tailor had precisely the talents to head a regiment of satirical wits; and had he had time to publish, he would have been the Peter Pindar of his day; but his genius seems to have been satisfied to rest cross-legged on his shopboard. When any lampoons or amusing bon-mots were current at Rome, they were usually called, from his shop, pasquinades. After his death, this statue of an ancient gladiator was found under the pavement of his shop. It was soon set up, and by universal consent was inscribed with his name; and they still attempt to raise him from the dead, and keep the caustic tailor alive, in the marble gladiator of wit.

There is a very rare work, with this title:–“Pasquillorum Tomi Duo;” the first containing the verse, and the second the prose pasquinades, published at Basle, 1544. The rarity of this collection of satirical pieces is entirely owing to the arts of suppression practised by the papal government. Sallengre, in his literary Memoirs, has given an account of this work; his own copy had formerly belonged to Daniel Heinsius, who, in verses written in his hand, describes its rarity and the price it too cost:–

Roma meos fratres igni dedit, unica Phoenix
Vivo, aureisque venio centum Heinsio.

“Rome gave my brothers to the flames, but I survive a solitary
Phoenix. Heinsius bought me for a hundred golden ducats.”

This collection contains a great number of pieces composed at different times, against the popes, cardinals, etc. They are not, indeed, materials for the historian, and they must be taken with grains of allowance. We find sarcastic epigrams on Leo X., and the infamous Lucretia, daughter of Alexander VI.: even the corrupt Romans of the day were capable of expressing themselves with the utmost freedom. Of Alexander VI. we have an apology for his conduct:

Vendit Alexander claves, altaria, Christum;
Emerat ille prius, vendere jure potest.

“Alexander sells the keys, the altars, and Christ;
As he bought them first, he had a right to sell them!”

On Lucretia:–

Hoc tumulo dormit Lucretia nomine, sed re
Thais; Alexandri filia, sponsa, nurus!

“Beneath this stone sleeps Lucretia by name, but by nature Thais;
the daughter, the wife, and the daughter-in-law of Alexander!”

Leo X. was a frequent butt for the arrows of Pasquin:–

Sacra sub extrema, si forte requiritis, hora
Cur Leo non potuit sumere; vendiderat.

“Do you ask why Leo did not take the sacrament on his
death-bed?–How could he? He had sold it!”

Many of these satirical touches depend on puns. Urban VII., one of the Barberini family, pillaged the Pantheon of brass to make cannon,[2] on which occasion Pasquin was made to say:–