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The drift of all this seems to be that he wanted to dip a little deeper into the treasures of Mother Church, who had certainly been a bountiful mother to him; but though these glimpses of real life sometimes disclose the less dignified side of his character, there is a freshness and truth about them which have a peculiar charm.
The debt of gratitude for substantial favours which Petrarch owed to the Church, and indeed personally to the Pontiffs, did not prevent him from inveighing with extreme virulence against the Papal Court. The work called by him the "Epistola sine Titulo," which appears to have been a clandestine production, abounds in this declamation. The "Eclogues," in Latin hexameters, are really satires in a bucolic form, but sometimes as coarse in language as the Satires of Juvenal. Three of his sonnets, directed against the Roman Court and clergy, were for centuries proscribed by the Church as impious. Benedict XII. he described as a drunkard, Clement VI. as a profligate, Innocent VI. as a fool. Upon the death of this Pope in 1362, the Sacred College proceeded to elect, by a most unusual departure from precedent, not a cardinal, but a simple priest, Guillaume de Grimoard, then Abbot of St Victor at Marseilles, to the highest office in the Church. The new Pope assumed the name of Urban V., and soon gave signs of intelligence and independence. Petrarch, who was then living at Venice, hailed this remarkable election as a proof that Providence had great designs to be accomplished by the new Pope; and Cardinal Talleyrand, the experienced Minister of the Holy See, exclaimed, "Now we have a Pope indeed." The poet therefore addressed Urban in a congratulatory letter; but he declined an invitation to return to the Court
EXHORTATION TO URBAN V.
of Avignon, partly from the dread of having an office forced upon him unsuited to his years, and partly from his firm determination to live free and without care. It was not till the 29th June 1366 that Petrarch addressed the Pope in one of those powerful hortatory letters which on great occasions he hurled, like the prophet of the age, at the rulers of Rome or of the world. He had exhorted Rienzi; he had exhorted the Emperor; he had urged each successive Pope to return to Rome: but the most eloquent of those appeals was that made to Urban V. It fills an entire book of the "Senile Letters" (the 7th), and but a small portion of it can be inserted here :
"Hearken then to me, O Roman Pontiff! hear me, O Christian prince! Rome invokes you as her spouse, Christendom as its chief,-calling you to action, not to repose; to war, not to peace-but to a war of short duration, to give lasting peace to the soul, salvation to many, immortal glory to yourself. Choose by what death you would die; for whether you fulfil your glorious office, or whether you basely betray it, death is alike inevitable. Raise yourself, therefore, to this magnanimous enterprise, and turn your back on that which is unworthy of you. God has done great things for you; neither can that be small which you have to do for Him. The lives of men are short-the lives of Popes especially so. When you shall shortly appear before the judgmentseat of Christ, in whose presence you stand not as a master, and we as slaves, but He only as Master, and you, like ourselves, a slave, what if these words are addressed to you,-' Poor and humble, I raised thee from the ground, not merely as the equal of princes, but as one above them all. Thou, then, where hast thou left the Church I trusted to your faith? For so many gifts vouchsafed to thee, what is thy return? To have, kept on the rock of Avignon the seat placed by my hand upon the capitol'?
"Whatever be your final decision, one prayer at least your Rome addresses to you. May it seem just to you at least to restore to her her other consort, the Emperor, whom your predecessor Innocent VI. succeeded by a rash engagement in divorcing from her. Deign to remove that impediment, and to command that Cæsar should return to Rome. As long as Rome remains deprived of both her chiefs, human affairs can never go right, nor can the Christian republic enjoy peace. If either of them return, all will go well; if both, perfectly, and in the plenitude of glory and success. May Christ our Lord prolong your days, and open your heart to counsels, not smooth or flattering, but just, sincere, and, as I believe, acceptable to God!"
These emphatic lines, which I have condensed, express the last political dream of Petrarch's life; and he had the happiness of thinking that his prayer and exhortation had been heard. Urban was not averse to visit Rome. In April 1367 he embarked at Marseilles on a Venetian galley, and, accompanied by a fleet of twenty vessels, sailed for the shores of Italy. He landed· at Genoa, received the homage of the Italian princes at Viterbo, and in October entered Rome, where he remained three years, encouraged and applauded by the poet. But the effort was made in vain. The peace of Italy, the tranquillity of Rome, were not secured. Urban, in failing health, longed to return to his native country, and arrived there in the autumn of 1370, a few weeks before his death. Petrarch, exasperated at this last disappointment, addressed the dying Pontiff in the sternest language. "Did you not, like St Peter, when you fled from Rome, meet Christ upon your way? 'Domine, quo vadis?' 'I go to be crucified there again, since you are departing from it.'"
PETRARCH AT VENICE AND ARQUA.
PETRARCH never resorted to the Court of Urban V., either at Avignon or at Rome, nor does he appear in the last twenty years of his life to have resided at Vaucluse. He started, indeed, for Rome in 1370, and made his will before he undertook the journey; but falling ill at Ferrara, he never reached his destination. He had become, he says, not so much a visitor as a denizen of the cities of Northern Italy, Milan,1 Verona, then Parma and Ferrara, and lastly Padua. No doubt the favour of the reigning princes of these cities first attracted him to them. In 1361, the Emperor, the Pope, and the King of France, had all invited him to their respective Courts; but he preferred to remain at Milan. Although he once set out to visit the Emperor at Prague, I believe he crossed the Alps no more. But as his friends died off,2 and
1 Petrarch had a small country-house at Garignano, on the Adda, about three miles from Milan, and mentions that he had already spent an Olympiad at Milan, and was beginning a lustre. His house in the town, as has been already mentioned, was near St Ambrose.
2 His friend. Socrates died at Avignon in 1361; Azo di Correggio in 1362; and in 1363 his three friends, Laelius, Francesco Neldi, whom he called Simonides, and Barbato.
the favour of princes cooled, the spot which he found most attractive to those who would lead a life of tranquillity and repose was Venice, and there he remained from 1362 to 1368. Petrarch had first visited Venice in 1352, when he went there to negotiate the peace; and he had formed an acquaintance which ripened into friendship with Benintendi da' Ravegnani, Chancellor of the Republic. In later years Petrarch wrote to Boccaccio a charming description of this Venetian society :
"Of my old friends, indeed, scarcely one remains except yourself. I know not what has become of our Barbato-perhaps he is in the Abruzzi. [Both Lælius and Socrates were recently dead.] Come, then, to my call. Nay, you are invited by the mild season of the year--by the absence of every care but those of the pleasant and joyous Muse-to a most salubrious house, which I do not describe to you, because you know it so well. A choice group of friends awaits you; I know not which of them is the best company. There is Benintendi, the Chancellor of this famous city, whose disposition agrees with his name, and who, after giving the day to public affairs, reserves the evening for private friendship and polished study. He comes with his cheerful friendly voice in his gondola to refresh himself with pleasant talk, and you already know how delightful are those nocturnal voyages in such company. Then there is our Donato Appeninigena,
who has come down from his Tuscan hills to fix himself on this shore of the Adriatic. Or if you are tired of this place, though the conversation of friends makes the sky more blue than any wind that blows, it would be delightful to go you to Capo d'Istria or Trieste, where I am told the climate is perfect. Or we might go in search of the source of the Timavus, as I have long meant to do; but it is not in the neighbourhood of Padua or the Euganean hills. The true site is in the territory of Aquileia."
Boccaccio, driven out of Florence by the plague, joined