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attention in other quarters. He deserves well, however, of the Dissenting bodies for his resolute attachment to principle, and able advocacy of the independence of Christ's church. His book will reward attention, and will tend to make those think closely who cannot assent to his doctrines. It is to be regretted that he has attempted to treat so many subjects in no small a space. In some respects he appears crotchety and dogmatic, not paying sufficient attention to the reasoning of his opponents, and on some questions doing little more than assert his own.
Art. IV. 1. The Life of Petrarch. By THOMAS CAMPBELL, Esq. Two
volumes. London: Colburn. 2. One Hundred Sonnets, translated from Petrarch. By Susan Wol
LASTON. London: Bull.
middle ages,-great indeed, although she sent hundreds of luxurious and haughty churchmen to fill her highest ecclesiastical offices, and impose an iron yoke on the neck of her church, -although Italian prelates and Italian legates joined heart and hand with John, and with his son, in refusing every petition for redress, until the spirit of a free people was aroused, and they redressed themselves. But Rome was not all Italy, nor were profligate churchmen the representatives of her whole people ; and thus, while the priestly deputation might journey to Rome with their gold and silver, to be exchanged for lead, more Ro
mano,' as Matthew Paris bitterly remarks, the merchant who sought her ports, exchanged the wool, the tin, and the lead of the English staples for the richer produce of that fair land; for the dates and dried fruits, the spices of the east, for the delicate silks and damasks of the Sicilian looms.
But not luxuries alone were brought from thence :-in the haughty republics of mediæval Italy the merchant of Bris'towe,' Southampton, or London, saw what a lofty station the trader might assume. He beheld the Italian merchants building splendid palaces, and waging successful warfare with a powerful aristocracy; he beheld the Bardi, the Peruzzi, sued to by crowned heads, and the elected chief magistrate of Venice go forth to wed the Adriatic, with greater pomp than the monarchs of France or England could show. And important was the lesson,- for the English merchant returned rejoicing in his calling, and prepared to emulate, not alone the high bearing, but the intelligence, the refinement, of the merchant
princes of Genoa and Florence. But greater benefits still did England receive from Italy. Many a case of lutes and dulcimers, many a right learned treatise on music, many a sweet melody, came to us from that land which music has chosen for her own; and more precious still, many a graceful poem, many a witching tale, which supplied to Chaucer, to Spenser, to Shakspere, materials to be wrought upon by their master skill.
It is curious to observe, that while the troubadours-the precursors of the Italian poets,-although certainly well known to England, for they were extensively patronized by Elinor of Aquitaine, by her sons Richard Caur-de-lion and John, and by her grandson Henry the Third---exercised no influence over our native poetry, the Italian poets themselves, from the days of Chaucer to those of Milton, became the exemplars alike of our lyrical and narrative poets, and the source whence our dramatists have derived their most effective plots. It is creditable to the early taste of England that this should have been so. The more healthful feeling of our forefathers found little to admire in the wire-drawn sentimentalities, and the mere combination of musical words and flowing numbers, which the productions of the troubadours presented; but when Petrarch gave forth his truly poetical compositions, the Englishman yielded a willing admiration to the sweet singing-bird of the south, and scarcely had death hushed his melody, ere our Chaucer, with the ardent enthusiasm of the true poet, hastened to proffer his homage to
· Francis Petrarke, that laureate poet swete,
(Who) Illumined all Itaille with poesie.' Francis Petrarch, although for generations he has been remembered only as a poet, was yet an important personage both in the learned and in the political world. Like his great contemporary Dante, he was a public character; and notwithstanding his repeated eulogies on solitude, he was a frequent resident at the court of princes, and received from them the most flattering homage. His career, indeed, so far as worldly prosperity is concerned, forms a striking contrast to that of many an illustrious poet; while, unlike many a favorite of one generation, who having received his meed of praise in his lifetime, is forgotten by the next, five centuries have joined in accumulating laurels on the tomb of 'il piu gentile amatore,' and whenever the names of the chief poets of modern Europe are pronounced, among them Petrarch finds a place. The life of a poet so illustrious was a suitable task for one who holds high place among our modern poets; we were, however, on looking over the first work on our list, disappointed that so very few specimens of Petrarch's poems were given ; this deficiency is happily supplied
by the second work on our table, and from them both we shall draw our illustrations of Petrarch, his times and his poetry.
Francesco Petrarcha, the son of Petrarco del 'l Ancisa and Eletta Canigiani, both Florentines, was born on the 20th of July, 1304, at Arezzo, whither his mother had fled, her husband, as one of the ' Bianci,'having been banished from Florence. During his infancy, his parents had still to struggle with an adverse fate,' for the father was compelled to separate himself from his wife and child, that he might obtain employment. The first seven years of his life were passed at Ancisa; but on the arrival of the Emperor Henry the Seventh in Italy, Petrarch's father proceeded with his family to Pisa, and soon after to Avignon. From hence, in 1315, they removed to Carpentras, and here young Petrarch was first placed under a master who taught him the rudiments of grammar and logic--the two grand divisions of the school instruction of the day. From school, he was sent to the University of Montpelier, and from thence he was taken by his father in 1323, and placed at Bologna, the celebrated university for the study of the canon law, together with his brother Gherardo, and a young friend about his own age, Guido Settimo.
• But neither the abilities of the several professors in that celebrated academy, nor the strongest exhortations of his father, were sufficient to conquer the deeply-rooted aversion which conceived against the law. Accordingly, Petracco hastened to Bologna, that he might endeavor to check his son's indulgence in literature, which disconcerted his favorite designs. Petrarch, guessing at the motive of his arrival, hid the copies of Cicero, Virgil, and some other authors, which composed his small library, and to purchase which he had deprived himself of almost the necessaries of life. His father, however, soon discovered the place of their concealment, and threw them into the fire. Petrarch exhibited as much feeling of agony as if he had been himself the martyr of his father's resentment. But Petracco was so much affected by his son's tears, that he rescued from the flames Cicero and Virgil, and, presenting them to Petrarch, he said, “ Virgil will console you for the loss of your other MSS., and Cicero will prepare you for the study of the law.'
-Life of Petrarch, vol. i. p. 39. Not long after he lost his mother, on whose death he composed a poem, and with troubadour-like affectation, made the number of the verses, thirty-eight, correspond with the years of her life. His father did not long survive; he died at Avignon, about 1325, and Petrarch, now in his twenty-second year, with his younger brother Gherardo, quitted the dull city of Bologna and its uncongenial studies, to take up their residence at the largest, most luxurious, and most licentious of the Italian cities. The bequests of their father not being sufficient for the
maintenance of the two brothers, they sought a subsistence from literature. Mr. Campbell says they entered the church; an assertion which he would find it difficult to prove from historical testimony; and which is, we think, completely disproved by Petrarch's account of himself. The case was, that as a scholar, he was viewed as belonging to the church, although not qualified to perform any of her peculiar functions (we need scarcely remind our readers that the phrase 'clerical,' in our language, has reference to learning, not to the priestly office), and thus although the young scholar soon received more than one benefice, and eventually obtained a canonry, still he was no more to be considered as an actual minister of the church than the lay fellows of our universities.
At Avignon, in the society of the great and noble, but in too many instances the profligate, did the young poet, at the most susceptible period of life, reside, and although he soon discovered, and expressed himself indignantly at the shameless licentiousness and venality of the papal court there, still that he was not proof against the baleful example which every where met his eyes, we have his own repentant acknowledgment in after life. There seems, indeed, to have been every thing in Petrarch at this early period to have rendered him an attractive companion both to young and old.
• Petrarch, when young, was so strikingly handsome, that he was frequently pointed at and admired as he passed along, for his features were manly, well formed, and expressive, and his carriage was graceful and distinguished. He was sprightly in conversation, and his voice was uncommonly musical. His complexion was between brown and fair, and his eyes were bright and animated. His countenance was a faithful index of his heart.
• He endeavored to temper the warmth of his constitution by the regularity of his living and the plainness of his diet. He indulged little in either wine or sleep, and fed chiefly on fruits and vegetables.
• In his early days he was nice and neat in his dress, even to a degree of affectation, which, in later life, he ridiculed when writing to his brother Gherardo. “Do you remember,' he says, 'how much care we employed in the lure of dressing our persons ? When we traversed the streets, with what attention did we not avoid every breath of wind which might discompose our hair ; and with what caution did we not prevent the least speck of dirt from soiling our garments !'
• This vanity, however, lasted only during his youthful days. And even then neither attention to his personal appearance, nor his attachment to the fair sex, nor his attendance upon the great, could induce Petrarch to neglect his own mental improvement, for, amidst all these occupations, he found leisure for application ; and, as he had no longer to contend with the absolute commands of a father, he gave up the law, and devoted himself entirely to the cultivation of his favorite pursuits of literature.'- 1b. pp. 46, 47.
He now began to compose, both in Latin and Italian; and in the former language, his productions, now for the most part forgotten, consist of Africa,' an epic poem, twelve eclogues, and three books of epistles.
Petrarch found that the greatest obstacles to his improvement arose from the scarcity of authors whom he wished to consult-for the manuscripts of the writers of the Augustan age were, at that time, so uncommon,
that many could not be procured, and many more of them could not be purchased under the most extravagant price. This scarcity of books had checked the dawning light of literature.
• The zeal of our poet, however, surmounted all these obstacles, for he was indefatigable in collecting and copying many of the choicest manuscripts ; and posterity is indebted to him for the possession of many valuable writings, which were in danger of being lost through the carelessness or ignorance of the possessors.'-Ib. pp. 49, 50.
Although classical literature is doubtless indebted to Petrarc for this, still we cannot but think that if he had been thrown more upon
his own resources, as Dante was, his poetry would have displayed more originality, and certainly more strength. Still we are aware it may be answered, that his keen relish for the refined diction of his favorite Latin authors, went far to qualify him for the task of refining and improving his native tongue, and that especially it enabled him to adopt in his sonnets that exquisite beauty of style which defies translation.
Young, handsome, learned,-admired by the scholar no less than by the lady—the friend of John of Florence, and the protegé of James Colonna, bishop of Lombes, Petrarch on the morning that he attended service in the church of Santa Clara at Avignon, had probably little foreboding of that influence which was hereafter to rule all his energies, and only cease with life. It was here he first saw Laura. Mr. Campbell remarks, that it is generally supposed Good Friday was the day, but that an Italian critic denies this; and considers it to have been Easter Monday. This is strange indeed, since Petrarch, who certainly knew better than his critics, has expressly stated in his third sonnet
• It was the day when Phæbus veiled his light,
Their beauty then enchained my aching sight.'
“I beheld a lady,' thus speaks the poet, 'habited in a green mantle interspersed with violets, upon which hung a profusion of golden tresses, whilst her lofty, yet graceful carriage, distinguished her from all who surrounded ler. A countenance of celestial beauty was set off