« ForrigeFortsett »
in arins the vacant republic; and the mischiefs of discord were per petuated by the wretched compromise of electing each year two riva. senators. By their private hostilities the city and country were desolated, and the fluctuating balance inclined with their alternate
But none of either family had fallen by the sword till the most renowned champion of the Ursini was surprised and slain by the younger Stephen Colonna.'08 His triumph is stained with the reproach of violating the truce; their defeat was basely avenged by the assassination, before the church door, of an innocent boy and his two servants. Yet the victorious Colonna, with an annual colleague, was declared senator of Rome during the term of five years. And the muse of Petrarch inspired a wish, a hope, a prediction, that the generous youth, the son of his venerable hero, would restore Rome and Italy to their pristine glory; that his justice would extirpate the wolves and lions, the serpents and bears, who laboured to subvert the eternal basis of the marble COLUMN.109
108 Petrarch (tom, i. p. 222-230)_has celebrated this victory according to tho Colonna; but two contemporaries, a Florentine (Giovanni Villani, 1. 1. c. 220) and • Roman (Ludovico Monaldeschi, p. 533, 534), are less favourable to their arms.
1 The Abbé de Sade (tom. i. Notes, p. 61-66) has applied the vith Canzone of Petrarch, Spirto Gentil, &c., to Stephen Colonna the younger:
Orsi, lupi, leoni, aquile e serpi
CHARACTER AND CORONATION OF PETRARCH. - RESTORATION OF THE FREEDOM
AND GOVERNMENT OF ROME BY THE TRIBUNE RIENZI. — His VIRTUES AND VICES, HIS EXPULSION AND DEATH. — RETURN OF THE POPES FROM AVIGNON.
GREAT SCHISM OF THE WEST. — REUNION OF THE LATIN CHURCH. — LAST STRUGGLES OF ROMAN LIBERTY. STATUTES OF ROME. FINAL SETTLEMENT OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL STATE.
Petrarch, July 19.
In the apprehension of modern times Petrarch is the Italian songster of Laura and love. In the harmony of his Tuscan rhymes Italy applauds, or rather adores, the father of her lyric A.D. 1301, poetry; and his verse, or at least his name, is repeated by A.D. 1374, the enthusiasm or affectation of amorous sensibility. Whatever may be the private taste of a stranger, his slight and superficial knowledge should humbly acquiesce in the taste of a learned nation ; yet I may hope or presume that the Italians do not compare the tedious uniformity of sonnets and elegies with the sublime compositions of their epic muse, the original wildness of Dante, the regular beauties of Tasso, and the boundless variety of the incomparable Ariosto. The merits of the lover I am still less qualified to appreciate: nor am I deeply interested in a metaphysical passion for a nymph so shadowy, that her existence has been questioned ; for a matron so prolific, that she was delivered of eleven legitimate children,' while her amorous swain sighed and sung at the fountain
· The Mémoires sur la vie de François Pétrarque (Amsterdam, 1764, 1767, 3 vols. in 4to.) form a copious, original, and entertaining work, a labour of love, composed from the accurate study of Petrarch and his contemporaries; but the hero is too often lost in the general history of the age, and the author too often languishes in the affectation of politeness and gallantry. In the preface to his first volume he enu. merates and weighs twenty Italian biographers, who have professedly treated of the same subject.
* The allegorical interpretation prevailed in the xvth century; but the wise commentators were not agreed whether they should understand, by Laura, religion, or virtue, or the blessed Virgin, or
See the prefaces to the first and second volume.
3 Laure de Noves, born about the year 1307, was married in January, 1325, to Hugues de Sade, a noble citizen of Avignon, whose jealousy was not the effect of love, since he married a second wife within seven months of her death, which happened the 6th of April, 1348, precisely one-and-twenty years after Petrarch had seen and loved her.
* Corpus crebris partubus exhaustum: from one of these is issued, in the tenth degree, the abbé de Sade, the food and grateful biographer of Petrarch; and this domestic motive most probably suggested the idea of his work, and urged him to inquire into every circumstance that could affect the history and character of his
of Vaucluse. But in the eyes of Petrarch and those of his graver contemporaries his love was a sin, and Italian verse a frivolous amusement. His Latin works of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence established his serious reputation, which was soon diffused from Avignon over France and Italy: his friends and disciples were multiplied in every city; and if the ponderous volume of his writings • be now abandoned to a long repose, our gratitude must applaud the man who, by precept and example, revived the spirit and study of the Augustan age. From his earliest youth Petrarch aspired to the poetic crown. The academical honours of the three faculties had introduced a royal degree of master or doctor in the art of poetry;? and the title of poet-laureat, which custom, rather than vanity, perpetuates in the English court,' was first invented by the Cæsars of Germany. In the musical games of antiquity a prize was bestowed on the victor :' the belief that Virgil and Horace had been crowned in the Capitol inflamed the emulation of a Latin bard; 10 and the laurel " was endeared to the lover by a verbal resemblance with the
grandmother (see particularly tom. i. p. 122-133, notes, p. 7-58; tom. ii. p. 455-495, not. p. 76-82).
- Vaucluse, 80 familiar to our English travellers, is described from the writings of Petrarch, and the local knowledge of his biographer (Mémoires, tom. i. p. 340-359). It was, in truth, the retreat of a hermit; and the moderns are much mistaken if they place Laura and a happy lover in the grotto.
6 Of 1250 pagos, in a close print, at Basil in the xvith century, but without the date of the year. The abbé de Sade calls aloud for 9 dew edition of Petrarch's Latin works; but I much doubt whether it would redouud to the profit of the bookseller or the amusement of the public.
? Consult Selden's Titles of Honour, in his works (vol. iii. p. 457-466). An hun. dred years before Petrarch, St. Francis received the visit of a poet qui ab imperatore fuerat coronatus et exinde rex versuum dictus.
* From Augustus to Louis the muse has too often been false and venal; but I much doubt whether any age or court can produce a similar establishment of a stipendiary poet, who, in every reign and at all events, is bound to furnish twice a-year a measure of praise and verse, such as may be sung in the chapel, and, I believe, in the presence, of the sovereign. I speak the more freely, as the best time for abolishing this ridiculous custom is while the prince is a man of virtue, and the poet a man of genius.
Isocrates (in Panegyrico, tom. i. p. 116, 117, edit. Battie, Cantab. 1729) claims for his native Athens the glory of first instituting and recommending the adwraessai τα αθλα μέγιστα-μή μόνον τάχους και ρώμης, αλλά και λόγων και γνώμης. The example cf the Panathenæa was imitated at Delphi; but the Olympic games were ignorant of musical crown, till it was extorted by the vain tyranny of Nero (Sueton. in Nerone, c. 23; Philostrat. apud Casaubon ad locum; Dion Cassius, or Xiphilin, 1. lxiii. (c. 9, 20] p. 1032, 1041; Potter's Greek Antiquities, vol. i. p. 445, 450).
10 The Capitoline games (certamen quinquennale, musicum, equestre, gymnicum) were instituted by Domitian (Sueton. c. 4) in the year of Christ 86 (Censorin. de Die Natali, c. 18, p. 100, edit. Havercamp.), and were not abolished in the ivth century (Ausonius do Professoribus Burdegal. V.). If the crown were given to superior merit, the exclusion of Statius (Capitolia nostræ inficiata lyræ, Silv. l. iii. v. 31) may do honour to the games of the Capitol; but the Latin poets who lived before Domitian were crowned only in the public opinion.
u Petrarch and the senators of Rome were ignorant that the laurel was not the Capitoline, but the Delphic, crown (Plin. Hist. Natur. xv. 39; Hist. Critique de la République des Lettres, tom. i. p. 150-220). The victors in the Capitol were orowned with a garland of oak-loaves (Martial, L. iv, epigram 54).
name of his mistress. The value of either object was enhanced ty the difficulties of the pursuit; and if the virtue or prudence of Laura was inexorable, 12 he enjoyed, and inight boast of enjoying, the nymph of poetry. His vanity was not of the most delicate kind, since he applauds the success of his own labours ; his name was popular; his friends were active; the open or secret opposition of envy and prejudice was surmounted by the dexterity of patient merit. In the thirty-sixth year of his age he was solicited to accept the object of his wishes; and on the same day, in the solitude of Vaucluse, he received a similar and solemn invitation from the senate of Rome and the university of Paris. The learning of a theological school, and the ignorance of a lawless city, were alike unqualified to bestow the ideal though immortal wreath which genius may obtain from the free applause of the public and of posterity: but the candidate dismissed this troublesome reflection; and, after some moments of complacency and suspense, preferred the summons of the metropolis of the world
The ceremony of his coronation 13 was performed in the Capitol, by his friend and patron the supreme magistrate of the
His poetic republic. Twelve patrician youths were arrayed in scarlet ; coronation six representatives of the most illustrious families, in green A.D. 1341, robes, with garlands of flowers, accompanied the procession ; in the midst of the princes and nobles, the senator, count of Anguillara, a kinsman of the Colonna, assumed his throne; and at the voice of a herald Petrarch arose. After discoursing on a text of Virgil, and thrice repeating his vows for the prosperity of Rome, he knelt before the throne and received from the senator a laurel crown, with a more precious declaration, “ This is the reward of merit.” The people shouted, “ Long life to the Capitol and the poet!” A sonnet in praise of Rome was accepted as the effusion of genius and gratitude; and after the whole procession had visited the Vatican the profane wreath was suspended before the shrine of St. Peter. In the act or diploma 14 which was presented to Petrarch, the title and prerogatives of poet-laureat are revived in the Capitol after the lapse of thirteen hundred years; and he receives the perpetual privilege of wearing, at his choice, a crown of laurel, ivy, or myrtle, of assuming
13 The pious grandson of Laura has laboured, and not without success, to vindicate her immaculate chastity against the censures of the grave and the sneers of tho profane (tom. ii, notes, p. 76-82).
13 The whole process of Petrarch's coronation is accurately described by the abbó de Sade (tom. i. p. 425-435; tom. ii. p. 1-6, notes, p. 1-13) from his own writings, and the Roman diary of Ludovico Monaldeschi, without mixing in this authentic nar. rative the more recent fables of Sannuccio Dolbene.
16 The original act is printed among the Pièces Justificatives in the Mémoires sur Pétrarque, tom. Üï. p. 50-53.
the poetic habit, and of teaching, disputing, interpreting, and composing, in all places whatsoever, and on all subjects of literature. The grant was ratified by the authority of the senate and people ; and the character of citizen was the recompense of his affection for the Roman name. They did him honour, but they did him justice. In the familiar society of Cicero and Livy he had imbibed the ideas of an ancient patriot; and his ardent fancy kindled every idea to a sentiment, and every sentiment to a passion. The aspect of the seven hills and their majestic ruins confirmed these lively impressions; and he loved a country by whose liberal spirit he had been crowned and adopted. The poverty and debasement of Rome excited the indignation and pity of her grateful son : he dissembled the faults of his fellow-citizens; applauded with partial fondness the last of their heroes and matrons; and in the remembrance of the past, in the hope of the future, was pleased to forget the miseries of the present time. Rome was still the lawful mistress of the world; the pope and the emperor, her bishop and general, had abdicated their station by an inglorious retreat to the Rhône and the Danube ; but if she could resume her virtue, the republic might again vindicate her liberty and dominion. Amidst the indulgence of enthusiasm and eloquence, 15 Petrarch, Italy, and Europe were astonished by a revolution which realised for a moment his most splendid visions. The rise and fall of the tribune Rienzi will occupy the following pages: 16 the subject is interesting, the materials are rich, and the glance of a patriot bard 17 will sometimes vivify the copious, but simple, narrative of the Florentine, 18 and more especially of the Roman,'' historian.
15 To find the proofs of his enthusiasm for Rome,
I need only request
that the reader would open, by chance, either Petrarch or his French biographer. The latter has described the poet's first visit to Rome (tom. i. p. 323-335). But, in the place of much idle rhetoric and morality, Petrarch might have amused the present and future age with an original account of the city and his coronation.
16 It has been treated by the pen of a Jesuit, the P. du Cerceau, whose postbumous work (Conjuration de Nicolas Gabrini, dit de Rienzi, Tyran de Rome, en 1347) was published at Paris, 1748, in 12mo. I am indebted to him for some facts and documents in John Hocsemius, canon of Liege, a contemporary historian (Fabricius, Biblioth. Lat. med. Ævi, tom. iii. p. 273; tom. iv. p. 85).
17 The abbé de Sade, who so freely expatiates on the history of the xivth century, might treat, as his proper subject, a revolution in which the heart of Petrarch was 80 deeply engaged (Mémoires, tom. ii. p. 50, 51, 320-417, notes, p. 70-76; tom. iii. p. 221-243, 366-375). Not an idea or a fact in the writings of Petrarch has probably escaped him.
10 Giovanni Villani, l. xii. c. 89, 104, in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, tom. xiii. p. 969, 970, 981-983.
19 In his third volume of Italian Antiquities (p. 249-548) Muratori has inserted the Fragmenta Historiæ Romanæ ab Anno 1327 usque ad Annum 1354, in the original dialect of Rome or Naples in the xivth century, and a Latin version for the benefit of strangers. It contains the most particular and authentic life of Cola (Nicholas) di Rienzi, which had been printed at Bracciano, 1627, in 4to., under the name of Tomaso Fortifiocca, who is only mentioned in this work as having been punished by the tribune for forgery. Human nature is scarcely capable of such sublime or stupid