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XV. BEING formed to love, Petrarch courted the good-will of others, sighed for more friendship than human selfishness is willing to allow, and lowered himself in the eyes, and possibly in the affections, of the persons most devoted to him. His disappointments in this respect often embittered his soul, and extorted from him the confession, "that he feared those whom he loved*." His enemies knowing that, if he readily gave vent to his anger, he was still more ready to forget injuries, found fair game for ridicule† in his passionate temper, and provoked him to commit himself even in his old age with apologies +.-Dante, on the contrary, was one of those rare individuals who are above the reach of ridicule, and whose natural dignity is enhanced, even by the blows of malignity. In his friends he inspired less commiseration than awe; in his enemies, fear and hatred - but never contempt. His wrath was inexorable; with him vengeance was not only a natural impulse but a duty§: and he enjoyed the certainty of that

* Senil. Lib. 13. Ep. 7.

+ Indignantissimi animi, sed offensarum obliviosissimi-ira mihi persæpe nocuit, aliis nunquam.-Epist. ad Post.

AGOSTINI, Scritt. Venez. vol. 1. p. 5.

§ Che bell' onor s'acquista in far vendetta. DANTE, Convito. -See also, Inferno, cant. xxix. vers. 31—36.

slow but everlasting revenge which "his wrath brooded over in secret silence"

Fa dolce l'ira sua nel suo secreto-
Taci e lascia volger gli anni:

Sì ch'io non posso dir se non che pianto
Giusto verrà di retro a' vostri danni.


Let the destined years come round:
may I tell thee more, save that the meed
Of sorrow well-deserved, shall quit your wrongs.

CARY'S Transl.

One would easily imagine his portrait from these lines:

Egli non ci diceva alcuna cosa:
Ma lasciavane gir, solo guardando,
A guisa di Leon, quando si posa.

He spoke not aught, but let us onward pass,
Eyeing us as a Lion on his watch.

CARY'S Transl.

As Petrarch without love would probably never have become a great poet-so had it not been for injustice and persecution which kindled his indignation, Dante, perhaps, would never have persevered to complete―

Il poema sacro,

A cui han posto mano e cielo e terra,
Sì che mi ha fatto per molti anni macro.

The sacred poem, that hath made

Both heaven and earth copartners in its toil,

And with lean abstinence, through many a year,

Faded my brow.

CARY'S Transl.

XVI. THE gratification of knowing and asserting the truth, and of being able to make it, resound even from their graves, is so keen as to outbalance all the vexations to which the life of men of genius is generally doomed, not so much by the coldness and envy of mankind, as by the burning passions of their own hearts. This sentiment was a more abundant source of comfort to Dante than to Petrarch

Mentre ch'i'era a Virgilio congiunto,


lo monte, che l'anime cura,
E discendendo nel mondo defunto,

Dette mi fur di mia vita futura
Parole gravi; avvegnach'io mi senta
Ben tetragono a i colpi di ventura.—

Ben veggio, Padre mio, sì come sprona
Lo tempo verso me, per colpo darmi
Tal, ch'è più grave a chi più s'abbandona:
Perchè di previdenza è buon ch'io m'armi.-

O sacrosante Vergini! se fami,

Freddi, o vigilie, mai per voi soffersi,
Cagion mi sprona ch' io mercè ne chiami.

Or convien ch' Elicona per me versi

Ed Urania m'ajuti col suo coro
Forti cose a pensar mettere in versi.-

E s' io al vero son timido amico,
Temo di perder vita tra coloro,
Che questo tempo chiameranno antico.

I, the whilst I scal'd

With Virgil, the soul-purifying mount,
And visited the nether world of woe,
Touching my future destiny have heard
Words grievous, though I feel me on all sides
Well squar'd to fortune's blows.—

My father! well I mark how time spurs on
Toward me, ready to inflict the blow,
Which falls most heavily on him who most
Abandoneth himself. Therefore 'tis good
I should forecast.-

O ye thrice holy Virgins! for your sakes
If e'er I suffer'd hunger, cold, and watching,
Occasion calls on me to crave your bounty.
Now through my breast let Helicon his stream
Pour copious, and Urania with her choir

Arise to aid me; while the verse unfolds

Things, that do almost mock the grasp of thought.—

And, if I am a timid friend to truth,

I fear my life may perish among those

To whom these days shall be of ancient date.

CARY'S Transl.

And from a letter of Dante lately discovered *, it appears that about the year 1316, his friends succeeded in obtaining his restoration to his


country and his possessions, on condition that he compounded with his calumniators, avowed himself guilty, and asked pardon of the commonwealth. The following was his answer on the occasion, to one of his kinsmen, whom he calls Father,' because, perhaps, he was an ecclesiastic; or, more probably, because he was older than the poet.

XVII. "FROM your letter, which I received with due respect and affection, I observe how much you have at heart my restoration to my country. I am bound to you the more gratefully, since an exile rarely finds a friend. But, after mature consideration, I must, by my answer, disappoint the wishes of some little. minds; and I confide in the judgment to which your impartiality and prudence will lead you. Your nephew and mine has written to me, what indeed had been mentioned by many other friends, that, by a decree concerning the exiles, I am allowed to return to Florence, provided I pay a certain sum of money, and submit to the humiliation of asking and receiving absolution; wherein, father, I see two propositions that are ridiculous and impertinent. I speak of the impertinence of those who mention such conditions to me; for, in your

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