In this profession he had showed himself clever, eloquent, and honorable, and always ready to defend the poor and weak against the rich. It was the reputation thus gained which first made him prominent in political affairs. Once raised to absolute power for life, Francia quickly began to show his innate qualities.
In connection with the peculiar type of melancholy exhibited on the face of Botticelli's Madonna, it will be of interest to refer to the work of Francia. The two artists were, in some points, kindred spirits; both felt the burden of life's mystery and sorrow. Francia, as we have seen, imbibed from the works of Perugino something of the spirit of mysticism common to the Umbrian school.
A fourteenth-century Dante lies open, with coloured pictures: the poet very short on one page and very tall on the next, and Virgil, at his side, very like Christ. A Relazione della Morte de Anna Regina de Francia, a fifteenth-century work, has a curious picture of the queen's burial.
Now it came to pass that Francia, being desirous of greater glory, and having known Andrea Mantegna and many other painters who had gained wealth and honours by their art, determined to try whether he could succeed in that part of painting which had to do with colour; his drawing was already such that it could well bear comparison with theirs.
Compelling the bishop of Asuncion to resign on account of senile debility, Francia himself assumed the episcopal office. Even intermarriage among the old colonial families he prohibited, so as to reduce all to a common social level. He attained his object. Paraguay became a quiet state, whatever might be said of its neighbors!
Francia: "Jose must have been a loose-made tawny creature, much given to taciturn reflection, probably to crying humours, with fits of vehement ill nature subject to the terriblest fits of hypochondria."
Francia, and by the death of John Sterling, loved with the love of David for Jonathan outside his own family losses, the greatest wrench in Carlyle's life.
Sometimes the enclosure is formed of a treillage or hedge of roses, as in a beautiful Virgin by Francia. Sometimes it is merely formed of stakes or palisades, as In some of the prints by Albert Durer. The victorious PALM, the Plantain "far spreading," and the Cypress pointing to heaven, are also emblems of the Virgin.
To do so a name of evil augury and ill repute must needs be introduced that of Dr Francia, Dictator of Paraguay, who for more than a quarter of a century ruled that fair land verily with a rod of iron.
He was succeeded by his son, Solano Lopez, whom we mention here simply from the fact that the war which Francia had so diligently prepared for came in his time. In 1864 the question of the true frontier of the state brought on a war in which Brazil, the Argentine Republic, and Uruguay combined to crush the little country in their midst.