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city of Venice. An account of these transactions is found in a work called the War of Chioza, written by Daniel Chinazzo, who was in Venice at the time. *
The “ Planter of the Lion."
Stanza siv. line 3 Plant the Lion-that is, the Lion of St. Mark, the standard of the republic, which is the origin of the word Pantalooú-Piantaleone, Pantaleon, Pantaloon.
Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must
Stanza xv. lines 7 and 8.
The population of Venice at the end of the seventeenth century amounted to nearly two hundred thousand souls. At the last census, taken two years ago, it was no more than about one hundred and three thousand, and it diminishes daily. The commerce and the official employments, which were to be the unexhausted source of Venetian grandeur, have both expired. Most of the patrician mansions are deserted, and would gradually disappear, had not the government, alarmed by the demolition of seventy-two, during the last two years, expressly forbidden this sad resource of poverty. Many remnants of the Venetian nobility are now scattered and confounded with the wealthier Jews upon the banks of the Brenta, whose palladian palaces have sunk, or are sinking, in the general decay. Of the “ gentil uomo Veneto," the name is still known, and that is all. He is but the shadow of his former self, but he is polite and kind. It surely may be pardoned to him if he is querulous. Whatever may have been the vices of the republic, and although the natural term of its existence may be thought by foreigners to have arrived in the due course of mortality, only one sentiment can be expected from the Venetians themselves. At no time were
+ Nonnullorum è nobilitate immensæ sunt opes, adeo ut vix æstimari possint : id quod tribus è rebus oritur, parsimonia, commercio, atque iis emolumentis, quæ è Repub. percipiunt, quæ hane causam diuturna fore creditur."-See de Principatibus Italiæ,
atus. edit. 1631.
the subjects of the republic so unanimous in their resolution to rally round the standard of St. Mark, as when it was for the last time unfurled ; and the cowardice and the treachery of the few patricians who recommended the fatal neutrality, were confined to the persons of the traitors themselves. The present race cannot be thought to regret the loss of their aristocratical forms, and too despotic government; they think only on their vanished independence. They pine away at the remembrance, and on this subject suspend for a moment their gay good humour. Venice may be said, in the words of the scripture, "to die daily;" and so general and so apparent is the decline, as to become painful to a stranger, not reconciled to the sight of a whole nation expiring as it were before his eyes. So artificial a creation having lost that principle which called it into life and supported its existence, must fall to pieces at once, and sink more rapidly than it rose. The abhorrence of slavery which drove the Venetians to the sea, has, since their disaster, forced them to the land, where they may be at least overlooked amongst the crowd of dependants, and not present the humiliating spectacle of a whole nation loaded with recent chains. Their liveliness, their affability, and that happy indifference which constitution alone can give, for philosophy aspires to it in vain, have not sunk under circumstances; but many peculiarities of costume and manner have by degrees been lost, and the nobles, with a pride common to all Italians who have been masters, have not been persuaded to parade their insignificance. That splendour which was a proof and a portion of their power, they would not degrade into the trappings of their subjection. They retired from the space which they had occupied in the eyes of their fellow citizens; their continuance in which would have been a symptom of acquiescence, ard an insult to those who suffered by the common misfortune. Those who remained in the degraded capital might be said rather to haunt the scenes of their departed power, than to live in them. The reflection, " who and what enthrals," will hardly bear a comment from one who is, nationally, the friend and the ally of the conqueror. It may, however, be allowed to say thus much, that to those who wish to recover their independence, any masters must be an object of detestation; and it may be safely foretold that this unprofitable aversion will not have been corrected before Venice shall have sunk ilto the slime of her choked canals.
Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse.
Stanza xvi. line 3. The story is told in Plutarch's life of Nicias.
Stanza xvjij. line 5. Venice Preserved; Mysteries of Udolpho; the Ghost seer, or Armenian; the Merchant of Venice; Othello.
But from their nature will the tannen grow
Stanza xx. lines 1 and 2 Tannen is the plural of tanne, a species of fr peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky parts, where scarcely soil sufficient for its nourishment can be found. On these spots it grows to a greater height than any other mountain tree.
A single star is at her side, and reigns
Stanza xxviji lines 1 and 2. The above description may seem fantastical or exaggerated to those who have never seen an Oriental or an Italian sky, yet it is but a literal and hardly sufficient delineation of an August evening (the eighteenth) as contemplated in one of many rides along the banks of the Brenta near La Mira.
Watering the tree which bears his lady's name
Stanza xxx. lines 8 and 9. Thanks to the critical acumen of a Scotchman, we now know as little of Laura as ever.* The discoveries of the Abbé de Sade, bis
* See An historical and critical Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch; and a dissertation on an Historical Hypothesis of the Abbé de Sade: the first appeared about the year 1784; the other is inserted in the fourth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and both have been incorporated into a work, published, under the first title, by Ballantyne in 18 10.
triumphs, his sneers, can no longer instruct or amuse. * We must not, however, think that these memoirs are as much a romance as Belisarius or the Incas, although we are told so by Dr. Beattie, a great name but a little authority. His“ labour” has not been in vain, notwithstanding his “ love" has, like most other passions, made him ridiculous. The hypothesis which overpowered the struggling Italians, and carried along less interested critics in its current, is run out. We have another proof that we can be never sure that the paradox, the most singular, and therefore having the most agreeable and authentic air, will not give place to the re-established ancient prejudice.
It seems, then, first, that Laura was born, lived, died, and was buried, not in Avignon, but in the country. The fountains of the Sorga, the thickets of Cabrieres, may resume their pretensions, and the exploded de la Bastie again be heard with complacency.
The hypothesis of the Abbé had no stronger props than the parchment sonnet and medal found on the skeleton of the wife of Hugo de Sade, and the manuscript note to the Virgil of Petrarch, now in the Ambrosian library. If these proofs were both incontestable, the poetry was written, the medal composed, cast, and deposited within the space of twelve hours; and these deliberate duties were performed round the carcase of one who died of the plague, and was hurried to the grave on the day of her death. These documents, therefore, are too decisive : they prove not the fact, but the forgery. Either the sonnet or the Virgilian note must be a falsification. The Abbé cites both as incontestably true; the consequent deduction is inevitable-they are both evidently false. Il
Secondly, Laura was never married, and was a haughty virgin rather than that tender and prudent wife who honoured Avignon by making that town the theatre of an honest French passion, and played off for one and twenty years her little machinery of alternate favours and refusalst upon the first poet of the age. It was, indeed,
rather too unfair that a female should be made responsible for eleven children upon the faith of a misinterrupted abbreviation, and the decision of a librarian*. It is, however, satisfactory to think that the love of Petrarch was not platonic The happiness which he prayed to possess but once and for a moment was surely not of the mindt, and something so very real as a marriage project, with one who has been idly called a shadowy nymph, may be, perhaps, detected in at least six places of his own sonnetst. The love of Petrarch was neither platonic nor poetical; and if in one passage of his works he calls it ** amore veementeiss imo ma unico ed onesto," he confesses in a letter to a friend, that it was guilty and perverse, that it absorbed him quite and mastered his bearti).
In this case, however, he was perhaps alarmed for the culpability of his wishes; for the Abbé de Sade himself, who certainly would not have been scrupulously delicate if he could have proved his descent from Petrarch as well as Laura, is forced into a stout defence of his virtuous grandmother. As far as relates to the poet, we have no security for the innocence, except perhaps in the codstancy of his pursuit. He assures us in his epistle to posterity that, when arrived at his fortieth year, he not only had in horror, but had lost all recollection and image of any “irregularity.” But the birth of his natural daughter cannot be assigned earlier
moindre brêche à son honneur." Mémpour la vie de Pétrarque, Preface aux Francois. The Italian editor of the London edition of Petrarch, who has translated Lord Woodhouselee,renders the “femme tendre et sage" " rafinata civetla." Riflessioni intorno a madonna Laura, p. 234, vol. jii. ed. 1811.
* In a dialogue with St. Augustin, Petrarch has described Laura as having a body exhaused with repeated ptubs. The old editors read and printed perturbationibus ; but Mr. Capperonier, librarian to the French King in 1762, who saw the MS. in the Paris library, made an attestation that “ on lit et qu'on doit lire, partubus exhaustum." De Sade joined the names of Messrs. Boudot and Bejo: with Mr. Capperonier, and in the whole discussion on tbis ptubs, showed himself a downright literary rogue. See Riflessioni, &c. p. 267. Thomas Aquinas is called in to settle whether Petrarch's mistress was a chaste maid or a continent wife.
t * Pigmalion, quanto lodar ti dei
Dell' imagine tua, se mille volte
Rime, &c. par. i. pag. 189 edit. Ven. 1756.
" Quella rea e perversa passione che solo tutto mi occupava mi regnava nel cuore."
Azion disonesta are his words.