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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 state of continual languor, and in the morning of July 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 Arquà, 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 orchards, 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 overlooking 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 attractive, were it not, in some seasons, beset with hornets and wasps. No other coincidence could assimilate the tombs of Petrarch and Archilochus. The revolutions of centuries have spared these sequestered valleys, and the only violence which has been offered to the ashes of Petrarch was prompted, 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 return 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 for an extraordinary capacity, extensive erudition, and refined taste, joined to that engaging simplicity of manners which has been so frequently recognised 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 shown 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 citizen was born. A tablet has been raised to him at Parma, in the chapel of St. Agatha, at the cathedralt, because he was archdeacon of that society, and was only snatched from his intended sepulture in their church by a foreign death. Another tablet with a bust has been erected to him at Pavia, on account of his having passed the autumn of 1368 in that city, with his son-in-law Brossano. The political condition which has for ages precluded the Italians from the criticism of the living, has concentrated their attention to the illustration of the dead.
* Remarks, &c. on Italy, p. 95, note, 2nd edit.
† D. 0. M.
S. P. Q. R. LAUREA DONATO.
H. M. P.
NI PARME OCCUMBERET
Or, it may be, with demons ---The struggle is to the full as likely to be with demons as with our better thoughts. Satan chose the wilderness for the temptation of our Saviour. And our unsullied John Locke preferred the presence of a child to complete solitude.
And Boileau, whose rash envy, &c. Perhaps the couplet in which Boileau depreciates Tasso may serve as well as any other specimen to justify the opinion given of the harmony of French verse :
A Malherbe, à Racan, préfère Théophile,
Sat. ix. vers. 176. The biographer Serassi *, out of tenderness to the reputation either of the Italian or the French poet, is eager to observe that the satirist recanted or explained away this censure, and subsequently allowed the author of the Jerusalem to be a “genius, sublime, vast, and happily born for the higher flights of poetry.” To this we will add, that the recantation is far from satisfactory, when we examine the whole anecdote as reported by Olivett. The sentence pronounced against him by Bohours I is recorded only to the confusion of the critic, whose palinodia the Italian makes no effort to discover, and would not, perhaps, accept. As to the opposition which the Jerusalem encountered from the Cruscan academy, who degraded Tasso from all competition with Ariosto, below Bojardo and Pulci, the disgrace of such opposition must also in some measure be laid to the charge of Alfonso, and the court of Ferrara For Leonard Salviati, the principal and nearly the sole origin of this attack, was, there can be no doubt $, influenced by a hope to acquire the favour of the House of Este : an object which he thought attainable by exalting the reputation of a native poet at the expense of a rival, then a prisoner of state. The hopes and efforts of Salviati must serve to show the contemporary opinion as to the nature of the poet's imprisonment; and will fill up the measure of our indignation at the tyrant jailer|l. In fact, the
* La Vita del Tasso, lib. iii. p. 284. tom. ii. edit. Bergamo 1790.
† Histoire de l'Académie Françoise depuis 1632 jusqu'à 1700, par l'Abbé d'Olivet, p. 181, edit. Amsterdam, 1730. "Mais, ensuite, venant à l'usage qu'il a fait de ses talens, j'aurois montré que le bon sens n'est pas toujours ce qui domine chez lui," p. 182. Boileau said, he had not changed his opinion. " J'en ai si peu changé, dit il," &c. p. 181.
I La manière de bien penser dans les ouvrages de l'esprit, sec. dial. p. 89, edit. 1692. Philanthes is for Tasso, and says in the outset, “de tous les beaux esprits que l'Italie a portés, le Tasse est peut-être celui qui pense le plus noblement." But Bohours seems to speak in Eudoxus, who closes with the absurd comparison : “ Faites valoir le Tasse tant qu'il vous plaira, je m'en tiens pour moi a Virgile, &c. ibid. p. 102.
$ La Vita, &c. lib. iii. p. 90, tom. ii. The English reader may see an account of the opposition of the Crusca to Tasso, in Dr. Black, Life, &c. cap. xvii. vol. ii.
For further, and, it is hoped, decisive proof, that Tasso was neither more nor less than a prisoner of state, the reader is referred to Historical Illustrations of the Ulth Canto of Childe Harold," page 5, and following.
antagonist of Tasso was not disappointed in the reception given to his criticism; he was called to the court of Ferrara, where, having endeavoured to heighten his claims to favour, by panegyrics on the family of his sovereign *, he was in turn abandoned, and expired in neglected poverty. The opposition of the Cruscans was brought to a close in six years after the commencement of the controversy; and if the academy owed its first renown to having almost opened with such a paradoxt, it is probable that, on the other hand, the care of his reputation alleviated rather than aggravated the imprisonment of the injured poet. The defence of his father and of himself, for both were involved in the censure of Salviati, found employment for many of his solitary hours, and the captive could have been but little embarrassed to reply to accusations, where, amongst other delinquencies, he was charged with invidiously omitting, in his comparison between France and Italy, to make any mention of the cupola of St. Maria del Fiore at Florence I. The late biographer of Ariosto seems as if willing to renew the controversy by doubting the interpretation of Tasso's self-estimation $ related in Serassi's life of the poet. But Tiraboschi had before laid that rivalry at rest, by showing, that between Ariosto and
The iron crown of laurels mimick'd leaves ; Before the remains of Ariosto were removed from the Benedictine church to the library of Ferrara, his bust, which surmounted the tomb, was struck by lightning, and a crown of iron laurels melted away. The event has been recorded by a writer of the last century. The transfer of these sacred ashes on the 6th of June, 1801, was one of the most brilliant spectacles of the shortlived Italian Republic, and to consecrate the memory of the ceremony, the once famous fallen Intrepidi were revived and re-formed into the Ariostean academy. The large public place through which the procession paraded was then for the first time called Ariosto Square. The author of the Orlando is jealously claimed as the Homer, not of Italy, but Ferrara **. The mother of Ariosto was of Reggio, and the house in which he was born is carefully dis
* Orazioni funebri ... delle lode di Don Luigi Cardinal d'Este ... delle lodi di Donno Alfonso d'Este. See La Vita, lib. iii. page 117.
† It was founded in 1582, and the ("ruscan answer to Pellegrino's Caraffu, or epica poesia, was published in 1584.
† “ Cotanto potè sempre in lui il veleno della sua pessima volontà contro alla nazion Fiorentina." La Vita, lib. iii. p. 96, 98, tom. ii.
$ La Vita di M. L. Ariosto, scritta dall' Abate Girolamo Baruffaldi Giuniore, &c., Ferrara 1807, lib. iii. pag. 262. See Historical Illustrations, &c. p. 26.
Storia della Lett. &c. lib. iii. tom. vii. par. iii. pag. 1220. sect. 4.
“Mi raccontarono que' monaci, ch' essendo caduto un fulmine nella loro chiesa schianto esso dalle tempie la corona di lauro a quell' inmortale poeta." Op. di Bianconi, vol. iii. p. 176. ed. Milano, 1802 ; lettera al Signor Guido Savini Arcitisiocritico, sull' indole di un fulmine caduto in Dresda l'anno 1739.
*** Appassionato ammiratore ed invitto apologista dell' Omero Ferrarese.” The title was first given by Tasso, and is quoted to the confusion of the Tassisli, lib. iii. pp. 262. 265. La Vita di M. L. Ariosto, &c.
tinguished by a tablet with these words: “Qui nacque Ludovico Ariosto il giorno 8 di Settembre dell'anno 1474.” But the Ferrarese make light of the accident by which their poet was born abroad, and claim him exclusively for their own. They possess his bones, they show his arm-chair, and his inkstand, and his autographs.
".. ... . Hic illius arma,
Hic currus fuit....
The house where he lived, the room where he died, are designated by his own replaced memorial*, and by a recent inscription. The Ferrarese are more jealous of their claims since the animosity of Denina, arising from a cause which their apologists mysteriously hint is not unknown to them, ventured to degrade their soil and climate to a Baotian incapacity for all spiritual productions. A quarto volume has been called forth by the detraction, and this supplement to Barotti's Memoirs of the illustrious Ferrarese has been considered a triumphant reply to the “Quadro Storico Statistico dell'Alta Italia.”
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, The eagle, the sea calf, the laurelt, and the white vine I, were amongst the most approved preservatives against lightning : Jupiter chose the first, Augustus Cæsar the second $, and Tiberius never failed to wear a wreath of the third when the sky threatened a thunder-storm ||. These superstitions may be received without a sneer in a country where the magical properties of the hazel twig have not lost all their credit ; and perhaps the reader may not be much surprised to find that a commentator on Suetonius has taken upon himself gravely to disprove the imputed virtues of the crown of Tiberius, by mentioning that a few years before he wrote a laurel was actually struck by lightning at Rome 1.
Know, that the lightning sanctifies below The Curtian lake and the Ruminal fig-tree in the Forum, having been touched by lightning, were held sacred, and the memory of the accident was preserved by a puteal, or altar resembling the mouth of a well, with a little chapel covering the cavity supposed to be made by the thunderbolt. Bodies scathed and persons struck dead were thought to be incorruptible **; and a stroke not fatal conferred perpetual dignity upon the man so distinguished by heaven tt.
Those killed by lightning were wrapped in a white garment, and buried where they fell. The superstition was not confined to the worshippers of
*" Parva sed apta mihi, sed nulli obnoxia, sed non
Sordida, parta meo sed tamen ære domus." † Aquila, vitulus marinus, et laurus, fulmine non feriuntur. Plin. Nat. Hist. lib ii. cap. lv. I Columella, lib x.
§ Sueton. in Vit. Augusti, cap. xc. | Sueton. in Vit. Tiberii, cap. Ixix.
I Note 2. page 409. edit. Lugd. Bat. 1667. ** Vid. J. C. Bullenger, de Terræ motu et Fulminib. lib. v. cap. xi. ++ Ovdeis kepavvwleis ärtuós éomo, 60ev kaiús Heos Tijarat. Plut. Sympos. vid. J. C. Bulleng. ut sup.