Imagens das páginas


to he seen as soon as we open our eyes, the fields, hirds, air etc.! Amongst them surely maybe ranked high a singularly gifted human form; and it may create love and veneration, long previous to the possibility of any sexual desire. A perception of moral beauties, which act not immediately upon the outward senses, is less easily gained, and can be but the result of frequent reflection or of information reaped from men or books: yet even this shows itself prematurely, as in the instance of Pope's ode to solitude, a solemn disclosure of feelings more recondite far than Dante's attachment to Beatrice. This is sufficiently accordant with the jocund buoyancy of childhood and the fervid imagination of a nascent minstrell: but that exhibits a melancholy unnatural at such an age, unless we attribute it, in some measure, to bad health and redundant timidity. Not that I mean to put the two writers on a parallel: our countryman was considerably less young'; yet was he enough so to justify my believing, that his performance revealed greater powers than he afterwards exerted , when, with almost a single exception, he was unfortunately induced to give up poetry for criticism and originality for translation. Yet in spite of every exemple that can be cited, as a deduction from our amazement, this sonnet and passion of Dante at nine years of age must be classed among curious natural phenomena : andGinguene"'s mode of accounting for the matter is quite UN II.

inadmissable il prit pour elle un de ces goals

d'enfance que 1'habitude dese voir change souveut en passions (0; for it is manifest from the book we are considering, that he never enjoyed her society habitually, but, on the contrary, had rarely an occasion of seeing her and still more rarely one of speaking to her. He thus describes his feelings in her presence: 'on every occasion that I beheld her and expected she would notice me by a word or curtsy in passing by, I experienced a sensation of inexpressible benevolence. 1 had no longer an enemy in the world; and such a flame of charity consumed me, that 1 could not but have pardoned whomever had given me any offence. Whosoever had asked me any favour upon earth, I could not have denied hin; but would have answered in the affirmative, with a heart glowing with good-will and a cheek flushed with humility. When I perceived her about to salute me, methought, I felt a spirit of love run tingling along my members and mounting up to my eyes; whence, after destroying every other sensitive faculty, it seemed to chase away even my enfeebled visual powers, as if it sent them forth to do homage to their sovereign lady; so that nothing remained there but the pure spirit of Love himself; and any one, who wished to see the God, would have only had to look upon the tremour of my pupils at that moment. But when she was

(i) Hi»t. Litt. d' Italie . vol. i. p. 44*>

r.tXTO it,

actually addressing me, not even Love, who stood as umpire between us, could shelter me from a flood of intolerable beatitude, of irresistible sweetness , which, streaming impetuously from her, did so entirely overcome my physical strength, that my body was often observed to stagger, as if deprived of life. In fine it was most apparent, that in her was centered my whole happiness; and that, that happiness overwhelmed me and was frequently superior to my capacity of endurance.' On one of those occasions he wrote a sonnet, which I shall transcribe: because, although composed so many hundred years ago, it partakes nothing of the darkness which time has unavoidably cast upon much of Dante's construction, nor a single antiquated word; but has indeed as fresh an air, as though it were culled yesterday, if we merely except vestuta for vestita in the sixth line and in the eighth understand an indefinite article before miracol, as a mostrare un miracolo: because Petrarch evidently imitated it, when he wrote best; and would sometimes have written better, if he had kept closer to his model: because it shows, what is overlooked in general, that not only Italy's narrative, but also its lyric poetry is to consider Dante as its true founder; and that, if he could not cultivate the latter at great length, he at least produced an example worthy of the rivalship of posterity: and, in short, because I am unacquainted with any finer specimen of the short poem, which CiHTO II.

Italian scholars pronounce to be of more difficult execution than any other.

'So gentle, so pure and noble is the aspect of the Lady of my heart, while she maketh a salute, that not a tongue but trembling becometh hushed, and there are no eyes which have the boldness to fix her with their gaze; clad with honor and modesty, she departeth hearing whispers in her encomium; and seemeth a creature descended from heaven to earth, to prove there is such a thing as a miracle. Such kindness doth she breathe when one looketh on her, that it sendeth through the eyes to the heart a sweetness incomprehensible to all but him alone who doth feel it: and it seemeth, as if there fluttered along her lip a tender spirit replete with love, which is unceasingly saying to the soul, sigh'.

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare

La Donna mia, quand'ella altrui saluta;

Ch'ogni lingua divien, tremando, muta;

E gli occhi non 1' ardiscon di guardare.
Ella sen va, sentendosi laudare

Umilemente d' onesta vestuta:

E par, che sia una cosa venuta

Di cielo in terra, a miracol mostrare.
Mostrasi si piacente a chi la mira

Che da per gli occhi una dolcezza al core,

Che 'ntender non la pud, chi non la pruova;
E par, che dalle sue labbia si inuova

Un spirito soave pien d' amore

Che va dicendo all' anima: sospira,

OiHTO tl.

Her father's death, with his virtues anil popularity, is noticed, il suo padre che fu cre

duto (e vero e) buono in alto grado and the

date evidently assigned to it agrees with the inscription not long since discovered on his tombstone, i289. It was then the custom in Florence to have large funereal meetings in the house of the deceased, whose next relation attended there to receive condolence.This, I suppose, was once the general fashion throughout Europe; since I have found it still established in all its primitive

rigour in Portugal, the country to which many

usages of our ancestors seem to have retreated for final refuge. This is a very dreary one: and probably even still more annoying to those who are oppressed with real grief, than to those whom decency obliges to feign it. Every eveuing , for an entire month of i814, a young and handsome widow of Oporto presided at the upper end of a long room, with a single, small, veiled lamp on a table before her; while downward from her armchair extended two parallel rows of seats for the company. These, both on entering and retiring, made a silent bow; nor spoke a syllable during the visits. The ladies occupied the chairs on the right, the gentlemen, those on the left. All were in deep mourning, as well as the fair mistress , who occasionally applied a handkerchief to her eyes; although doubts were entertained as to her sincerity . But melancholy above description was

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