which were denied any other channel of escape:

“La vive voci m'erano interditti,
Ond'io gridai con carta e con inchiostro.”
(The living voice was denied me, hence I
sought utterance in writing.)

It is evident that he wrote chiefly from retrospection, and failed in the command of his mind, when under the immediate influence of deep tenderness or baffled deslre:

“Piu volte incomminciai di scriver versi, Mala penna e la mano e l’intelletto Rimaser vinti nel primier assalto.” (Often I began to write verses, but the pen, the hand and the mind were overcome at the first attempt.)

This sufficiently proves the genuineness of his inspiration. His allusions to the laurel-tree in reference to the name of his beloved, to the window at which he had seen her seated, to the waters beside which she had reposed, to the places in which he encountered her, and to her dress and the color of her eyes and hair, her gait, her salutations, her smile, and her glances, are but the native overflowings of an ardent mind. It is the effect of ideality not only to exalt the actual into infinite possibility, but to reveal in detail every circumstance and association which Love has made sacred. Even those who can scarcely be deemed imaginative, are sensible of the magic agency of sounds, perfumes and the most ordinary visible objects connected, in their memories, with persons or localities singularly endeared. It is only requisite to extend this familiar principle to understand why Petrarch dwells with such fondness on the most trivial associations. They helped him to recal the past, to bring more distinctly before him the image of Laura, and to realize more completely the delicious though tyrannical sway of Love. The same explanation may be given of his constant appeals to Nature. The heart is thrown upon itself in love as in grief. Few, if any, fellowbeings, however near and dear, are fitted to share the confidence of our inmost affections. They have a sacredness, a delicacy, an individuality which makes us shrink from exposing them even to friendly observation:

“Not easily forgiven Are those, who, setting wide the doors that bar

The secret bridal-chambers of the heart, Let in the day.”

The poet needed relief when denied sympathy, and therefore he apostrophised Nature, whose silent beauty wins but never betrays. It is worthy of remark that Petrarch was a skeptic in regard to love, as an enduring and deep principle of the human soul, until his own experii converted him so effectually to the aith.

“e quel che in me non era, Mi pareva un miracolo in altrui.”

Many live and die knowing nothing of love except through their intellect. Their ideas on the subject are fanciful, because it has never been revealed by consciousness. Yet it were to question the benignity of God, to believe that an element of our being so operative and subtle, and one that abounds chiefly in the good and the gifted, is of light import or not susceptible of being explained by reason, justified by conscience, and hallowed by religion, and thus made to bear a harvest not only of delight but of virtue. Love, Petrarch maintains, is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good. It is a blessing or a bane, a weakness or a strength, a fearful or a glorious experience, according to the soul in which it is engendered. Let us endeavor to define its action and vindicate its worth, as set forth in the Sonnets of Petrarch.

All noble beings live in their affections. While this important fact has been ever illustrated by poets, it is seldom fully recognized in moral systems or popular theology. Yet, if we would truly discern the free, genuine elements of character, the history of the heart affords the only authentic ground of judgment. Love has been, and is, so mightily abused, that in the view of superficial reasoners it becomes identified rather with feebleness than strength. Yet, in point of fact, its highest significance can alone be realized by natures of singular depth and exaltation. To the unperverted soul, instead of a pastime it is a discipline. Once elevated from a blind instinct to a conscious principle, it is the mighty tide which sways all that is solemn and eternal in life. To love, in one sense, is, indeed, little more than an animal necessity; but

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to love nobly, profoundly—tolove, as Madame de Stael expresses it, “at once with the mind and with the heart,” to dedicate to another mature sympathies, is the noblest function of a human being. The fever of passion, the ignoble motives, the casual impulses which belong to our nature, blend, it is true, with the exercise of all affection, but love, in its deepest and genuine import, is the highest and most profound interest of existence. This is a truth but imperfectly understood; but there are few spirits so utterly bereft of celestial affinities as not to respond more or less cordially, to every sincere appeal to a capacity so divine. All the folly of vain imaginations, all the coarseness of vulgar sensuality, all the scorn of mental hardihood, while they profane the name, can never violate the sacred realities of love. There have been, and there ever will be earnest and uncompromising hearts, who bravely vindicate a faith too native and actuating ever to be eradicated. Such natures can only realize themselves through love, and in proportion to their integrity will be their consciousness of the glory of this attribute. They intuitively anticipate its pervading influence upon their character and happiness. They feel that within it lies the vital points of their destiny, and through it their access to truth. The world may long present but glimpses of what they ever wateh to descly. Life may seem barren of a good never absent from their inward sense. At times, from very weariness, they may be half inclined to believe that the love for which they pray, is but a poetic invention, having no actual type. Witnessing so much apparent renunciation, they may, at last, regard themselves as vain dreamers, and look back, with bitter regret upon years of self-delusion. But the great want, the haunting vision, the o need, assert themselves still; and when, through selfdenial and fervent trust, the dawn glimmers upon their souls, the lonely vigil and restless fears of the night are forgotten in “a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.” To some minds it may appear sacrilegious thus to identify love with religion, but the sentiments rightly understood, are too intimately allied to be easily divided. It is through the outward universe that natural theology points us to a Supreme Intelligence; and it is through the creature that spirits of lofty mould most nearly approach the Creator. Coleridge describes love as the absorption of self in

an idea dearer than self. This is doubtless the only process by which the problem of human life is solved to exalted natures. It is in vain that you bid them find content, either in the pleasures of sense or the abstractions of wisdom, however keen their perceptions, or ardent their passions. They know themselves born to find completion through another. A subtle and pleading expectancy foretells the advent of a Messiah. They seek not, but wait. It is no romantic vision, no extravagant desire, but a clear and deep conviction that speaks in their bosoms. This is the germ of the sweetest flower that shall adorn their being; this is their innate pledge of immortality, and ceaselessly invokes them to self-respect and glory. There is something essentially shallow in the play of character, until deep feeling gives it shape and intensity. The office of love is to induce a strong and permanent motive, and it is this process which concentrates all the faculties of the soul. Hence the satisfaction which follows;–a condition wholly different from what was previously regarded as enjoyment. Through vanity and the senses, partial delight may have been obtained; but it was a graft upon, rather than a product of the heart. The blessedness of true love springs from the soul itself, and is felt to be its legitimate and holiest fruit. Thus, and thus alone, is human nature richly developed, and the best interests of life wisely embraced. Shadows give way to substance, vague wishes to permanent aims, indifferent moods to endearing associations, and vain desire to a “hope full of immortality.” Man is for the first time revealed to himself, and absolutely known to another; for entire sympathy, not friendly observation, is the key to our individual natures; and when this has fairly opened the sacred portal, we are alone no more forever! Petrarch affords a good illustration of this subject, because he has bequeathed a record of his experience, which fame has rendered classical. In him, as in every one, the influence of the sentiment was modified by particular traits of character. It is not requisite that we regard him as the most unexceptionable example of a lover, in order to avail ourselves of the autobiography of the heart which he left behind him. }. is enough to acknowledge the fact that his career was mainly swayed by a feeling which, in most men, exerts but a temporary and casual agency;

and that the most genial outpourings of his soul have exclusive reference to its hases. It is not pretended that he is faultless; but the good taste of ages has hallowed his effusions, and, on this account, they furnish an authoritative exposition. In order to estimate aright these revelations, let us glance at their author as a man. He was, then, in relation to society, one of the most important personages of his time. With many his name is merely associated with the idle dreams of a minstrel, and his existence is recalled as that of an imaginative devotee, who lived chiefly to indulge his private tastes. That the case was far otherwise is indisputable. Few prominent men of that era so richly deserve the title of patriot. His love of country was fervent and wise, and his efforts in her behalf unremitted. The frequent and momentous political embassies to which he was appointed, and the cheerful zeal with which they were fulfilled, is proof enough of his political talent and noble enterprise. The high consideration he enjoyed, both with princes and people, his steady friendship with individuals of high rank and influence, the interest he manifested in Rienzi's unsuccessful efforts to restore ltaly to freedom, his voluminous correspondence on questions relating to the public weal, evince, among other facts, that he enacted no useless or ignoble part on the world's broad arena. Nor is this all. If Petrarch excelled the mass of every age in the refinement and earnestness of his affections, he was also far beyond his own in knowledge and liberality. We can trace in his writings the slumbering embers of the flame afterwards kindled by Luther, and the same devotion to liberty, which in the progress of time, found scope and realization on this continent. The great rinciples of free governmentand religious inquiry, that in our day have become actual experiments, are discoverable in the ardent speculations and elevated desires of the bard of Laura. He was the uncompromising advocate of civil and ecclesiastical reform, and threw all the weight of his literary reputation into the scale of progress. This end he promoted more signally by learned researches and the circulation of ancient manuscripts, so as to become identified with the revival of letters. These objects were methodically pursued throughout his life. They formed no small portion of that external activity, which is so often wasted upon selfish Vol. I.-no. W. 31

objects, and this is in itself sufficient gloriously to vindicate his life from the charge of inutility. In estimating his moral traits, it should be remembered that the sunshine of fame made him conspicuous, and subjected his behavior to a keener scrutiny than is the lot of the obscure. We may safely deem the judgment of cotemporaries critical and searching, especially as it is the usual fate of superior gifts to attract a large share of envy as well as admiration. The biographers of Petrarch have gleaned but two authentic charges, which can, even in the view of more recent and enlightened moralists, sully the pervading brightness of his character. He was the father of two illegitimate children—for whose temporal and spiritual welfare he amply provided. Such a fact, in those times, was not only regarded as venial from the license of manners that prevailed, but considered especially excusable in churchmen, on account of their obligation to celibacy. All testimonies concur in representing his habitual course as remarkably exemplary, and the disgust and indignation he evidently feels at the dissolute manners of the papal court, as well as long years of pure and devoted love and studious retirement, assure us that Petrarch's soul was far above the baseness of habitual dissipation. He may have lapsed from strict virtue, but he never lost for her either his allegiance or sympathy. In an age famous for libertinism and courtly adulation, he preserved . to an extraordinary degree, his self-respect and purity of heart. His native instincts rendered the pursuit of wisdom, communion with the great and good of past times, the society of the learned and gifted, and the study of nature infinitely more attractive than any less ennobling pleasures. Compared with those around him, his example was worthy of all praise, and a sincere vein of conscientious sensibility and repentant musing, mingles with and lends pathos and dignity to his strains of love. The other charge which has been referred against him is vanity. This, owever, seems from his own confession and the opinion of others, to have been a youthful weakness, chiefly manifested by a fondness for dress, which disappeared as soon as his mind and heart ". interested. He is described as quite indifferent to wealth, and of a singularly reserved and meek demeanor. He was by nature and habit a severe student, and delighted to meditate in the open air,

and alternately lead the life of a recluse and a traveler, filling his mind with knowledge and reflection, and his heart with thoughts of love and piety. Such was the man who on the morning of Good Friday, at the church of Santa Clara at Avignon, met Laura; their eyes encountered, and from that moment the destiny of his affections was sealed. The very idea suggested by this fact, that of love at first sight, doubtless appears to the majority of readers, particularly those of northern origin, a piece of absurd romance. Yet, . us endeavor to regard it calmly and thoughtfully, and discover if there be no actual foundation for such an experience. Truthful human beings, whom the world has not perverted, express in their looks and manners, their enuine souls. Where there is depth of eeling, and pride of character, this na: tural language is still more direct and impressive. Such individuals, indeed, habitually conceal their moods and sentiments under a veil of passionless reserve, or animal gayety; and when this is drawn aside, their tones and features only speak with more eloquent significance from the previous restraint. No medium is more true and earnest in thus conveying the heart's language than the eye. The cold and worldly may have deadened its beams by selfishness and cunning, and the sensualist can only summon thither an earthly and base fire; but they of child-like frankness and un... dimmed enthusiasm, may utter by a lance more than words could unfold. t is then not a mere vagary of imagination, but a rational and perfectly credible thing, that the meeting of the eyes of two candid, noble beings should reveal them essentially to each other; and such, we doubt not, was the case with Petrarch and Laura. A very important principle is involved in such an incident. It proves that Love, in its highest sense, is properly Recognition. Any man of winning address and knowledge of the world, may by appeals to the passions, the interests or the unappropriated tenderness of a uileless, considing woman, win her to É. But let him not imagine that such an outrage to the majesty of Love, will secure to him its richest fruits. His pride may be gratified by the dependence of a fair and gentle being, and her endearments may afford a delightful solace in his listless hours. Over her person, her time, ler actions, he may exercise a permanent control. If she be infirm of

purpose, she may become a domestic slave, the creature, or, at least, the honored pet of her liege lord. The mass of women may, and probably do not feel conscious that their dearest rights have been thus invaded; and men, in general, doubtless think that their disinterestedness is sufficiently indicated by providing all the external sources of comfort for the objects of their choice. There is but a limited degree of conscious wrong on either side. When no deep affections, no intense sympathies crave gratification, society gains much, and the individual loses nothing by conventional alliances. But in questions of this nature, it must be ever remembered, that there are here and there, scattered among the multitude of human beings, souls that do not slumber, hearts that have burst the chrysalis of vegetative life, and feel the tides of individual desires, hopes, and aspirations fearfully sway their pulses. Sacred are the pure instincts, holy before God, if not before man, the spiritual necessities of such as these. If self-knowledge has come too late, if their outward fate is sealed before their inward wants have been revealed to their own consciousness, then to religion and self-control must they look to enable them to fulfil the lettel of the bond. Yet, in so doing, if they possess any true depth of character, they will never compromise their highest privilege; they will never profane the sentiment of love by hypocrisy; they will recognize and rejoice in their ideal when once encountered. In the solemn privacy of their bosoms, will be cherished the being to whom their hearts went instinctively forth. For the sake of this pure and deep sentiment, they will be faithful to outward duty, calm and trusting, and maintain self-respect and hope unstained. Tennyson has drawn a portrait bitterly true to experience, of the influence of uncongenial bonds upon a large class of women, in “Locksley Hall.” But all of the sex are not the mere passive victims of habit and circumstance. A few peerless exceptions really live, women. who through remarkable spirituality of character, or firm will, united to fine moral perceptions, prove superior to outward fate, and never permit the temple of their hearts to be crossed, save by the one, who, from affinity of soul, is an authorized and welcome guest. There is a grandeur in such vindication of rights, too holy for human law to protect, but, at the same time, too ennobling and heavenly for virtue to abandon.—

“Patience, quiet, toil, denial,—
These though hard, are good for man;
And the martyred spirit's trial
Gains it more than passion can.”

It is on these principles that we account for the conduct of Laura—a subject of endless discussion among the critics of Petrarch. The idea, that his love was wholly unreciprocated, is contradicted by the very nature of things. The truth is, a degree of mutual sentiment is absolutely necessary to keep affection alive for a great length of time. It is true we hear of instances that seem, at a superficial view, to justify a different conclusion; but, generally speaking, the martyrs to such vain devotion at last discover that their passion originated in the imagination, not the heart. There are evidences enough in the Sonnets of Petrarch, that his love was returned; and we can scarcely conceive that a feeling of this kind, toward such a man, if once excited, should be lukewarm or ill-defined. He speaks of Laura’s “amoroso sguardo,” "..."; glance) and of her turning pale at hearing of his intended absence. The very complaints he breathes of her pride, coldness, and reserve, betray a consciousness, on her part, more gratifying as proofs of interest, from such a woman, than the sweetest blandishments of the less sustained and magnanimous of the sex. It is probable that the conscientious behavior of her husband, gave Laura no just ground for breaking a contract into which she had voluntarily, though perhaps blindly, entered. Her children, too, had claims which were paramount and sacred. Being, as her lover describes her, of a high nature, with a clear sense of right, and a rare degree of self-control, she regulated her conduct by the strictest law of propriety. She was too generous to follow out her inclinations, even if she felt them perfectly justifiable, at the expense of others. But while in outward act she was thus scrupulous, how easy it is for us to imagine the inner life of her heart! There she was free. The world's cold maxims had no authority within her innocent bosom. She could brood with the tenderest devotion in her hours of solitude, over the gifts and graces of her lover. She could cherish every token of his regard. In society, in her walks, wherever they met, she

was at liberty for the time, to realize in her soul, that he was her spirit's mate, the chosen, the beloved, the one in whose resence she alone found content; whose ove was the richest flower in her life's chaplet, and the dearest hope that reconciled her to death. In this and a world of similar emotions, there was no infidelity. From the hour she knew, by experience, the meaning of Love, it is impossible, with a conscience so delicate, she could have ever professed it for her husband. Her obligations to him were those of duty, and, as far as he deserved it, respect. Perhaps he never made a claim upon her sentiment; perhaps he had not the soul to know its meaning. And here let us notice a beautiful trait of what many deem a weak passion, when it is awakened in superior natures. The very characteristics which induced Laura to preserve her decorum and to fulfil her duties—and which her lover often deemed cold and unkind—were those that won and kept his heart. Such a man would have wearied of a weak woman, living only in herself. His nature was too lofty to take advantage of feebleness. The same aspiring spirit that made him a patriot and a bard, exalted his character as a lover. Even in his affections he reverenced the divine principles of truth and equality. His chosen was a woman who understood herself, who had an intelligent, not a slavish need of him; who, in the frank nobleness of womanhood, was his genial friend, whose pure and strong heart spontaneously responded unto his. Some of his most common allusions to her personal traits, and points of character, enable us readily to infer the nature of the charm that won and kept the poet's heart. He says, “ non era landar cosa mortale,” (her movements were not mortal.) How much this expresses to the mind of one aware of the moral significance of a woman's air and gait ! : L'angelica sembianza umile e piana; (her angelic semblance meek and affable,) combined with Il lampeggiar dell angelico riso, (the flash of her heavenly smile,), give the most vivid idea of that union of ardor of soul with lofty principle, which is the perfection of the sex. Such phrases as l'umilita superba, (proud humility), il bel tacere, (beautiful silence), dolci sdegni (sweet disdain), in aspetto pensoso anima lieta, (a glad soul beneath - a thoughtful aspect.) l atto che parla con silenzio, (the act which speaks silently,)

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