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indeed, rather, too unfair that a female should be made responsible for eleven children upon the faith of a misinterpreted, abbreviation, and the decision of a librarian. * It is, however, satisfactory to think that the love of Petrarch was not platonic. The happiness which he prayed to possess but once and for a moment was surely not of the mind, ** and something so very real as a marriage project, with one who has been idly called a shadowy nymph, may be, perhaps, detected in at least six places of his own sonnets. *** The love of Petrarch was neither platonic nor poetical; and if in one passage of his works he calls it «amore veementeissimo ma unico ed onesto » he confesses in a letter to a friend, that it was guilty and perverse, that it absorbed him quite and mastered his heart. f
dre et sage » «raffinata civetta. » Riflessioni intorno a madonna Laura, p. 234, vol. iii. ed. 1811.
* In a dialogue with St. Augustin, Petrarch has described Laura as having a body exhausted with repeated ptubs. The old editors read and printed perturbationibus; but Mr. Capperonier, librarian to the French King in 1762, who saw the MS. in the Paris library, made an attestation that «on lit et qu'on doit lire, partubus exhaustum.» De Sade joined the names of Messrs. Boudot and Bejot with Mr. Capperonier , and in the whole discussion on this ptubs, showed himself a downright literary rogue. See' Riflessiðni, etc. p. 267. Thomas Aquinas is called in to settle whether Petrarch’s mistress was a chaste maid or a continent wife.
** « Pigmalion, quanto lodar ti dei
Dell' imagine tua, se mille volte
Sonetto 58. quanto giunse a Simon l' alto
concetto Le Rime etc. par. i. page i8g. edit. Ven. 1756.
*** See Riflessioni, etc. p. 291.
† «Quella rea e perversa passione che solo tutto mi occupava • mi regnava nel cuoe. »
In this case, however he was perhaps alarmed for the culpability of his wishes; for the Abbé de Sade himself, who certainly would not have been scrupulously delicate if he could have proved his descent from Petrarch as well as Laura , is forced into a stout defence of his virtuous grand-mother. As far as relates to the poet, we have no security for the innocence , except perhaps in the constancy of his pursuit. He assures us in his epistle to posterity that, when arrived at his fortieth year, he not only had in horror, but had lost all recollection and image of any « irreregularity. * But the birth of his natural daughter cannot be assigned earlier than his thirty ninth year ; and either the memory or the morality of the poet must have failed him, when he forgot or was guilty of this slip. ** The weakest argument for the purity of this love has been drawn from the permanence of effects, which survived the object of his passion. The reflection of Mr de la Bastie, that virtue alone is capable of making impressions which death cannot efface, is one of those which every body applauds and every body finds not to be true, the moment he examines his own breast or the records of human feeling.*** Such apothegms can do nothing for Petrarch or for the cause of morality , except with the very weak and the very young. He that has made even a little progress beyond ignorance and pupilage , cannot be edified with any thing but truth. What is called vindicating the honour of an individual or a nation, is the most futile , tedious and uninstructive of all writing ; although it will always meet with more applause than that sober criticism which is attributed to the malicious desire of reducing a great man to the common standard of humanity. It is, after all not unlikely, that our historian was
* Azion disonesta are his words.
**«A questa confessione così sincera diede forse occasione una nuova caduta ch' ei fece. » Tiraboschi, Storia, etc. tom. v. lib. iv. par. ii. page 492.
*** «Il n'y a que la vertu seule qui soit capable de faire des impressions que la mort n'efface pas. » M. de Bimard, Baron de la Bastie, in the Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscrip. et Belles - Lettres for 1740 and 1751. See also Riflessioni, etc., p. 295.
right in retaining his favorite hypothetic salvo, which secures the author , although it scarcely saves the honour of the still unknown mistress of Petrarch. *
Stanza XXXI. They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died. Petrarch retired to Arquà immediately on his return from the unsuccessful attempt to visit Urban V. at Rome, in the year 1370, and, with the exception of his celebrated visit to Venice in company with Francesco Novello da Carrara, he appears to have passed the four last years of his life between that charming solitude and Padua. For four months previous to his death he was in a stale of continual languor, and in the morning of July the 19th, in the year 1374, was found dead in his library chair with his head resting upon a book. The chair is still shown amongst the precious relics of Arquả, which, from the uninterrupted veneration that has been attached to every thing relative to this great man from the moment of his death to the present hour, have, it may be hoped, a better chance of authenticity than the Shakesperian memorials of Stratford upon Avon.
Arquà (for the last syllable is accented in pronunciation, although the analogy of the English language has been observed in the verse) is twelve miles from Padua, and about three miles on the right of the high road to Rovigo, in the bosom of the Euganean hills. After a walk of twenty minutes, across a flat well wooded meadow, you come to a little blue lake, clear, but fathomless, and to the foot of a succession of acclivities and hills, clothed with vineyards and orchạrds, rich with fir and pomegranate trees, and every sunny fruit shrub. From the banks of the lake the road winds into the hills, and the church of Arquà is soon seen between a cleft where two ridges slope towards each other, and nearly inclose the village. The houses are scattered at intervals on the steep sides of these summits; and that of the poet is on the edge of a little knoll over
« And if the virtue or prudence of Laura was inexorable, he enjoyed, and might boast of enjoying the nymph of poetry.» Decline and Fall, cap. lxx. p. 327. vol. xii. etc. Perhaps the if is here meant for although.
looking two descents, and commanding a view not only of the glowing gardens in the dales immediately beneath, but of the wide plains, above whose low woods of mulberry and willow thickened into a dark mass by festoons of vines, tall single cypresses, and the spires of towns are seen in the distance, which stretches to the mouths of the Po and the shores of the Adriatic. The climate of these volcanic hills is warmer, and the vintage begins a week sooner than in the plains of Padua. Petrarch is laid, for he cannot be said to be buried, in a sarcophagus of red marble, raised on four pilasters on an elevated base, and preserved from an association with meaner tombs. It stands conspicuously alone, but will be soon overshadowed by four lately planted laurels. Petrarch's fountain, for here every thing is Petrarch's, springs and expands itself beneath an artificial arch, a little below the church, and abounds plentifully, in the driest season, with that soft water which was the ancient wealth of the Euganean hills, It would be more allractive, were it not, in some seasons, beset with hornets and wasps. No otber coincidence could assimilate the tombs of Petrarch and Archilochus. The revolutions of centuries have spared these sequestered vallies, and the only violence which has been offered to the ashes of Petrarch was prompled, not by hate, but veneration. An attempt was made to rob the sarcophagus of its treasure, and one of the arms was stolen by a Florentine through a rent which is still visible. The injury is not forgotten, but has served to identify the poet with the country where he was born, but where he would not live, A peasant boy of Arquà being asked who Petrarch was, replied, « that the people of the parsonage knew all about him, but that he only knew that he was a Florentine.»
Mr. Forsyth * was not quite correct in saying that Petrarch never returned to Tuscany after he had once quitted it when a boy. It appears he did pass through Florence on his way from Parma to Rome, and on his relurn in the year 1350, and remained there long enough to form some acquaintance with its most distinguished inhabitants. A Florentine gentleman, ashamed of the aversion of the poet for his native country, was eager to point out this trivial error in our accomplished traveller, whom he knew and respected
* Remarks, etc. on Italy, p. 95, note, 2nd edit,
for an extraordinary capacity, extensive erudition, and refined taste, joined to that engaging simplicity of manners which has been so frequently recognized as the surest, though it is certainly not an indispensable, trait of superior genius.
Every footstep of Laura's lover has been anxiously traced and recorded. The house in which he lodged is shewn in Venice. The inhabitants of Arezzo, in order to decide the ancient controversy between their city and the neighbouring Ancisa, where Petrarch was carried when seven months old, and remained until his seventh year, have designated by a long inscription the spot where their great fellow cilizen was born. A tablet has been raised to him at Parma , in the chapel of St. Agatha , at the cathedral * hecause he was archdeacon of that society, and was only snatched from his intended supulture in their church by a foreign death. Another tablet with a bust has been erected to him at Pavia , on
* D. O. M.
S. P. Q. R. laurea donato.
H. M. P.
Si Parmæ occumberet