« ElőzőTovább »
had forgotten,) the crush was no less complimentary fithe face was as earnest and beaming, the “ glad to see you” as syllabical and sincere, and the shake as close, as long, and as rejoicing, as if the semi-unknown was a friend come home from the Desarts.
On the other hand, there would be a gentleman now and then as coy of his hand, as if he were a prude or had a whitlow. It was in vain, that your pretensions did not go baeyond the civil salute” of the ordinary shake; or that being introduced to him in a friendly mana ner and expected to shake hands with the rest of the company, you could not in decency omit his. His fingers, half coming out, and half retreating, seemed to think that you were going to do them a mischief; and when you got hold of them, the whole shake was on your side: the other hand did but proudly or pensively acquiesce, there was no knowing which : you had to sustain it, as you might a lady's in handing her to a scat: and it was an equal perplexity to know how to shake or to let it go.
The ore seemed a violence done to the patient; the other an aukward responsibility brought upon yourself. You did not know, all the evening, whether you were not an object of dislike to the person; till on the party's breaking up, you saw him bebave like an equally ill-used gentleman, to all whó practised the same unthinking civility.
Both these errors, we think, might as well be avoided: but of the too, we must say we prefer the former. If it does not look so much like particular sincerity, it looks more like general kindness; and if those two virtues are to be separated, (which they assuredly need not be, if considered without spleen) the world can better afford to dispense with an unpleasant truth than a gratuitous humanity. Besides, it is more difficult to make sure of the one, than to practice the other; and kindness itself is the best of all truths. As long as we are sure of that, we are sure of something, and of something pleasant. It is always the best end, if not in every instance the most logieal means.
This manual shyness is sometimes attributed to modesty, we suspect, with justice, unless it be that sort of modesty, whose fear of committing itself is gropinded in pride. Want of address is a better reason, but this particular instance of it would be grounded in the same feeling. It always implies a habit either of pride or distrust. We have met with two really kind men, who evinced this soreness of hand. Neither of them perhaps thought himself inferior to any body about him, and both had good reason to think highly of themselves; but both had been sanguine men contradicted in their early hopes. There was a plot to meet the hand of one of them with a fish-slice, in order to shew him the disadvantage to which he put his friends by that flat mode of salutation; but the conspirator had not the courage to do it. Whether he heard of the intention, we know not; but shortly afterwards he took very kindly to a shake. The other was the only man of a warm set of politicians, who remained true to his first love of mankind. He was impatient at the change of his companions and at the folly and inattention of the rest; but though his manner became cold, his consistency still remained warm; and this gave him a right to be as strange as he pleased,
And this piece of laurel is from Vaucluse! Perhaps Petrarch, perhaps Laura, sat under it! This is a true present. What an exquisite dry old, vital, young-looking, everlasting twig it is! It has been plucked nine months, and looks as hale and as crisp as if it would last ninety years. It shall last at any rate as long as it's owner, and longer, if care and love can preserve it. How beautifully it is turned ! It was a happy pull from the tree. It's shape is the very line of beauty; it has berries upon it, as if resolved to shew us in what fine condition the trees are; while the leaves issue from it, and swerve upwards with their elegant points, as though they had come from adorning the poet's head. Be thou among the best of one's keepsakes, thou gentle stem,-in deliciis nostris ;--and may the very maid-servant who wonders to see thy withered beauty in it': frame, miss her lover the next five weeks, for not having the instinct to know that thou must have something to do with love.
Perhaps Petrarch has felt the old ancestral boughs of this branch, stretching over his head, and whispering to him of the name of Laura, of his love, and of their future glory; for all these ideas used to be entwined in one. (Sestina ?, Canzone 17, Sonetti 162, 163, 164, 207, 224, &c.) Perhaps it is of the very stock of that bough, which he describes as supplying his mistress with a leaning-stock when she sat in her fayourite bower. (See the translation at the end.)
Giovane donna sotto un verde lauro
Vol. I, Sestina 2.
And shall have, ever, whether on hill or lea.
It was out of Vaucluse that he was called. Vaucluse, Valchiusa, the Shut Valley, (from which the French, in the modern enthusiasm for intellect, gave the name to the department in which it lies), is a remarkable spot in the old poetical region of Provence, consisting of a little deep glen of green meadows surrounded with rocks, and contain: ing the fountain of the river Sorgue. Petrarch, when a boy of eight or
age, had been struck with it's beauty, and exclaimed that it was the place of all others he should like to live in, better than the most splendid cities. He resided there afterwards for several years, and composed in it the greater part of his poems. Indeed, he says in his own account of himself, that he either wrote or conceived in that valley almost every work he produced. He lived in a little cottage with a small homestead, on the banks of the river. · Here he thought to forget his passion for Laura, and here he found it stronger than
We do not well see how it could have been otherwise; for Laura lived no great way off, at Chabrieres : and he appears to have seen her often in the very place. He paced along the river; he sat under the trees; he climbed the mountains; but Lore, he says, was ever by his side,
Regionando con meco, ed io con lui.
He holding talk with me, and I with him. We
e are supposing that all our readers are acquainted with Petrarch. Many of them doubtless-know him intimately. Should any of them want an introduction to him, how should we speak of him in the gross ? We should say, that he was one of the finest gentlemen and greatest scholars that ever lived; that he was a writer who flourished in Italy in the 14th century at the time when Chaucer was young, during the reigns of our Edwards; that he was the greatest light of his age; that although so fine a writer himself, and the author of a multitude of works, or rather because he was both, he took the greatest pains to revive the knowledge of the ancient learning, recommending it every where, and copying out large manuscripts with his own hand; that two great cities, Paris and Rome, contended which should have the honour of crowning him; that he was crowned publicly, in the Metropolis of the World, with laurel and with myrtle; that he was the friend of Boccaccio, the Father of Italian Prose; and lastly, that his greatest renown nevertheless, as well as the predominant feelings of his existence, arose from the long love he bore for a lady of Avignon, the far-famed Laura, whom he fell in love with on the 6th of April, 1327, on a Good Friday; whom he rendered illustrious in a multitude of sonnets, which have left a sweet sound and sentiment in the ear of all after lovers; and who died, still passionately beloved, in the year 1348, on the same day and hour on which he first beheld her. Who she was, or why their connexion was not closer, remains a mystery. But that she was a real person, and that in spite of all her modesty she did not shew an insensible countenance to his passion, is clear from his long-haunted imagination, from his own repeated accounts, from all that he wrote, uttered, and thought. One love, and one poet, sufficed to give the whole civilized world a sense of delicacy in desire, of the abundant riches to be found in one single idea, and of the going out of a man's self to dwell in the soul and happiness of another, which has served to refine the passion for all modern times; and perhaps will do so, as long as love renews the world.
By way of completing this ebullition on Petrarch, which has been unexpectedly excited in us, (for we intended to devote a longer
and perhaps a duller article to him by and hy), we will conclude it with a translation of his most celebrated canzone, which was addressed to the river Sorgue and it's bowers. It has appeared before, though not in a place so suitable as the present; and as we have been asked to re-print it, before we ever thought of doing so, we repeat it with the less scruple. It is the 14th Canzone, Vol. 1., beginning,
CHIARE, FRESCHE, E DOLCE ACQUE.
How often then I said,
" Doubtless this creature came from Paradise!"
had forgotten; and alas,
A TRUE STORY.
TO THE INDICATOR.
Sir,-When I was a young boy, I had delicate health, and was somewhat of a pensive and contemplative turn of mind : it was my delight in the long summer evenings to slip away from my noisy and more robust companions, that I might walk in the shade of a venerable wood, my favourite haunt, and listen to the cawing of the old rooks, who seemed as fond of this retreat as I was.
One evening I sat later than usual, though the distant sound of the cathedral clock had more than once warned me to my home. There was a stillness in all nature that I was unwilling to distúrb by the least motion. From this reverie I was suddenly startled by the sight of a tall slender female who was standing by me, looking sorrowfully and steadily in my face. She was dressed in white, from head to foot, in a fashion I had never seen before; her garments were unusually long and flowing, and rustled as she glided through the low shrubs near me as if they were made of the richest silk. My heart beat as if I was dying, and I knew not that I could have stirred from the spot; but she seemed so very mild and beautiful, I did not attempt it. brown hair was braided round her head, but there were some locks that strayed upon her neck; and altogether she looked like a lovely picture, but not like a living woman. I closed my eyes forcibly with my hands, and when I looked again she had vanished.
I cannot exactly say why I did not on my return speak of this beautiful appearance, nor why, with a strange mixture of hope and fear, I went again and again to the same spot that I might see her. She always came, and often in the storm and plashing rain, that never seemed to touch or to annoy her, and looked sweetly at me, and silently passed on; and though she was so near to me, that once the wind lifted those light straying locks, and I felt them against my cheek, yet I never could move or speak to her. I fell ill; and when I recovered, my mother closely questioned me of the tall lady, of whom, in the height of my fever, I had so often spoken.
I cannot tell you what a weight was taken from my boyish spirits, when I learnt that this was no apparition, but a most lovely woman;