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THE most appropriate Introduction to this notice of Francis Petrarch will be a short account of his writings, and of the various forms and editions in which they have been given to the world. Of his Italian poetry, included in the Canzoniere, and consisting of his Sonnets, Canzonets, and the Triumphs of Love, Chastity, Fame, Time, Deity, and Death (in terza - rima), it is scarcely necessary to say much, except that it is probable that no poems have been more widely circulated or more often reprinted. The first printed edition of them appeared at Venice in 1470, and is therefore one of the earliest productions of the press. Before the close of the fifteenth century 34 more editions had been sold; in the sixteenth century 167 editions have been traced; 70 in the seventeenth; 46 in the eighteenth; and more than 50 in the present age. A catalogue of these
1 It is curious to contrast with this abundant crop of publications the fact that only four editions of the works of Shakespeare were F.C.-IV.
editions was published in 1834 by Rossetti, an advocate in Trieste, and they are all accurately known. One of the best editions of his 'Rime' is that published by Zatta in Venice, in 1756, with the Commentary of Castelveltro, including also the oldest biographies of the poet and a vast superfluity of notes. In modern times the edition published by Ciardetto in Florence, in 1822, is perhaps the most complete.
The Latin works of Petrarch, from which the materials of the following pages are chiefly taken, were as follows:
These letters were the work of his life, a complete correspondence extending from 1326 to 1374, and embracing almost every incident which befell him in those forty-eight years. They were arranged by Petrarch himself, and intended by him to be the record of his thoughts and actions. He tells us that in making the collection he destroyed above one thousand letters and pieces which he thought unworthy to form part of it. Next come his philosophical writings :
The Secretum, or Conflict of Cares, written in 1342.
Of Monastic Leisure, written in 1347.
Of Memorable Events (date unknown).
Of True Wisdom: a Dialogue (date unknown).
printed (in folio) in the seventeenth century; and that the first 8vo edition of our great English poet was published in 1709.