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muse is astonishing, when we read the licentious ravings of the Trou. badours. The Provençal bards, like the poet of Vaucluse, were mystics in love. But nature forced her way through their Platonism. It is difficult to suppose, considering the amatory character of Petrarca, that if his feelings for Laura had been those of ardent love, some corresponding expression would not have escaped him. The Canzoni of Petrarca, on moral and political subjects, have often ideas astonishingly noble, conveyed in expressions of majestic gravity. Lyrical poetry has not many finer pieces than his canzoni beginning with the words, “ O aspettata in ciel," and, “ Sprito gentil, che quelle membra reggi,” in the former of which he endeavours to revive the spirit of crusading; and in the latter, be writes on a subject which, from his love of classical literature, was always dear to him,--the restoration of Roman liberty. Petrarca's lyrical genius appears in full display in several others of the canzoni, particularly in those whose initial lines are, “ Chiare fresche e dolci acque,"

"*« Di pensier in pensier, di monti in monti,'' “ Inquella parte dove amor mi sprona;" and " Nella stagion che 'l ciel'rapido inchina." His Trionfi of death, chastity, &c. are, for the most part, dull and frigid allegories, seldom illuminated by the rays of poetic fancy, or made interesting by the glow of poetic feeling. Petrarca, like Dante, owes much of his celebrity to the circumstance that he was one of the earliest writers of genius in the Italian language. To him, as a man who contributed to the perfection of this most melodious dialect, posterity bow with veneration; for the purity, taste and melodiousness of his verses are beyond all praise. Vol. I. pp.

264–267. The passion of Boccaccio (the third great ornament of Tuscany in the fourteenth century) for the Princess Mary of Naples, was far different from that of Dante for Beatrice, or of Petrarch for Laura. It was a sensual intercourse, in which the heart had no share ; and it was preserved only by vanity on one side, and by voluptuousness on the other. Hence the works he composed for her, viz. the romance of Fiametta, (the name under which he celebrated her,) that which is intituled Filoscopo, and the two heroic poems, the Theseide and Filostrato, are cold and lifeless compositions, and betray the want of interest occasioned by an unreal or unworthy passion. One merit belongs to the former of these poems, that it is an early specimen of the ottava rima; that majestic and delightful stanza which has ever since been the heroic poetry of Italy. Mr. Mills indeed says, that Boccaccio 'was the earliest Italian • poet who used that beautiful form of verse.' He is, however, wrong; for the earliest poem in that measure, is the Buove d' Antona, the work of an unknown author, but probably produced within thirty years after the death of Dante. Ginguene is wrong in making Boccaccio the inventor of the stanza ; and Mr, Mills is incorrect in stating, that he was the earliest Italian

poet who used it. There is another cireumstance,' remarks our Author, in these poems, interesting 10 the history of • poetry. Before Boccaccio's time, poets were accustomed o to make visions and dreams the vehicles of their tales. • Boccaccio boldly imitated the classical poets, imagined a

fable, and conducted it by various events, to its close. He might have found in the Theseide a still higher claim to distinction. It furnished the model of the Knighte's Tale of Chaucer, and was therefore the origin of one of the noblest poems in the English language, the Palamon and Arcite of Dryden.

We quote the following passage as a specimen of just and pleasing criticism.

• It is, however, as the father of Italian prose, that Boccaccio stands pre-eminent. He gave it richness, purity, and harmony. Whether such was his wish or not, his fame rests on his novels, and of those, on the Decamerone chiefly. It is generally said that he depended for immortality on his Latin works only; and that he wrote his Italian pieces for relaxation of mind. This assertion may be opposed by the fact, that his novels are far longer and more numerous than his other pieces, and that at the conclusion of the Decamerone he often complains of the lunga fatica of his work. Towards the elose of his life, he certainly regretted that so much licentiousness had fallen from his pen; and this opinion gave rise, perhaps, to the assertion which I have mentioned.

• Of the Decamerone I must say a few words. Boccaccio supposes, that during the dreadful pestilence which raged through Europe in the fourteenth century, and which devastated the rich and populous city of Florence, in the year 1948, seven young ladies and three gentlemen retired to a beautiful house and garden, a short distance from the city, and diverted the time by telling tales. Each person told one tale a day. Ten days formed the time of the continuance of the party, and, therefore, the compound word Decamerone is given to the budget of stories. It is an amusing proof of Boccaccio's fondness for Greek literature, that he has given a Greek title to his book, and Greek names to the ladies and gentlemen who recite the tales. To assemble several persons, whose object it is to narrate tales, is a common artifice in Oriental literature, and was well known in Europe in Boccaccio's time, by French and Latin translations of a collection of Asiatic fictions, called the Seven Wise Men. The machinery which surrounds the Decamerone has been imitated by several suc. ceeding writers. Chaucer has adopted the fashion which the popularity of Boccaccio gave rise to, of investing tales in a dramatic form: but he has infinitely improved on his original, by collecting a number of pilgrims, who agreed to deceive the road, by telling tales. Each person speaks agreeably to his character and circumstances; and the judicious appropriation of stories to individuals is a great subject for the exercise of the author's ingenuity. The want of this harmony makes Boccaccio's machinery occasionally appear cumbrous. Besides, as pilgrimages were often made excursions of pleasure as well as of religion, the telling of tales was a natural part of the entertainment, much more conformable to situation than an amusement of that sort in the midst of a public calamity.

• Pew of the tales in the Decamerone are the perfect creations of Boccaccio's genius. Most of them existed already in a rude shape. The collection of tales called the Gesta Romanorum, by Peter Berchorius, prior of the Benedictine convent of St. Eloy at Paris, was a very favorite work in the fourteenth century, when it was written, as well as in after times. Boccaccio has occasionally drawn from it. He calls his master Leontius an inexhaustible archive of Grecian tales and fables. Hence many Oriental and Greek fictions are to be met with in the Decamerone. Boccaccio likewise borrowed from the Trouveurs of the north, and the Troubadours of the south of France. Italian cities were in Boccaccio's time so much infested by vagrant French minstrels, that their excesses were made the subject of municipal regulation. Some germs of the Decamerone are to be found in the Golden Ass of Apuleius, in the tales of the Seven Wise Men, and others in the collection of popular stories called the Cento Novelle Antiche. Many had been long the hereditary property of the travelling Italian minstrels, and not a few were mere village stories. The proud lord, the polite cavalier, the lovely damsel, the cruel and avaricious father, coquettes, and cuckolds, luxurious monks, and crafty friars, were common members of society in Boccaccio's time, and he has introduced them into his tales in every possible variety of exhibition. He gave vitality and spirit to the meagre forms of ancient fiction, and his pictures of his contemporaries are striking and faithful. The elegance of the narratives, the richness and naïveté of the style, the wit of the conversation, the remarks on life, the poetic grace of description, in short, the genius of the whole, must be claimed by Boccaccio alone. pp. 285–289.

To the antiquarian sources to which Mr. Mills has traced the Decameron, he ought to have added the old Indian romance of Dolospathos, which had found its way into the national literature of every country in Europe, and which was in fact the ground-work of that highly prized, illegible, and unread book, 80 dear to the worthy members of the Roxburghe Clubbe, the “ Seven Wise Masters.” As to Boccaccio’s having borrowed his tales from the Trouveurs and Troubadours, we agree rather with Ginguenè and the Italian avengers of their native literature, that both Boccaccio and those from whom he more immediately drew, were, without reference to each other, supplied at the same common Oriental fountains. We have also remarked, and with some surprise, that, in the summary of Boccaccio's writings, his prose version of the Iliad and Odyssey, framed probably from the lectures of his friend Leo Pilatus, (for Boccaccio was an indifferent Greek scholar,) that trans

lation, however, which conveyed to Petrarch, who was still less versed in that language, the only notions he had of the Father of poetry, and, which, in the succeeding century, was clandestinely used by Laurentius Valla, the Latin interpreter,

-we are surprised, we say, that this important work should have escaped the learned diligence of our Author.

Of the poets of the fourteenth century, Mr. Mills gives only a barren and desultory catalogue. We shall very briefly endeavour to supply the omission, confining ourselves to the poetical literature of Italy, and only referring occasionally to Mr. Mills, rather as an auxiliary than a guide. Dante was followed by a tribe of imitators. Fazio degl' Uberti, and Pederigo Frezzi, the former in the poem called Detta-mondo, the latter in the Quadriregio, followed servilely the track of that sublime master. The Detta-mondo is vigorous in style and expression, and is only not worthy of Dante. It is now, we think, undeservedly forgotten, having never passed beyond two editions, each of them now very scarce. What has weighed it down, is the mystical theology that pervades it. Antonio Pucci, the inventor of that peculiar barlesque which Berni afterwards brought to such perfection, closes the poetical catalogue of the fourteenth century.

The next age was that of philologists, grammarians, commentators, while the national literature giving way to the rage for antiquity, remained almost stationary. Dante and Petrarch seemed to have left the poetic soil exhausted and effete; for their successors dealt in 'little more than those strokes of wit, puerilities, and conceits, which render it the severest penance to read them. Towards the close of the century,' a divine 'ray,' says Sismondi*, penetrated the inanimate statue ; the • soul was rekindled, and life began a new career.' This second life was breathed into Italian poetry by the liberal encouragement of Lorenzo de' Medici. To this era belongs the creation of the highest kind of Italian poetry; we mean the heroic romance which may be styled the Epic of Italy. We presume not to meddle with the perplexed controversy as to the origin of chivalrous fiction, acquiescing as we do in the ingenious theory of Warton, which M. Ginguené has also adopted, by which the jarring opinions of those who trace it to the Scandinavian scalds and the Moorish minstrels, are completely harmo. nized. They who are well read in the Italian romantic fictions, will without difficulty recognise the varied features of a double descent,--the gloom of the northern superstition, and the en

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thusiasm of the northern courage, softened by the brilliant voluptuousness, the caprice, the exaggeration of the more airy poesy which belongs to the South.

For a very long period, Turpin's Charlemagne was the chief source of Italian fable. This, with other romances equally wretched, constituted no inconsiderable part of the literature of Italy during the fourteenth and part of the fifteenth centųries. They will, however, be interesting to those who are desirous of tracing the beauties of Ariosto to their primary sources, and of contrasting their rude conceptions with the embellished forms in which his genius has invested them.

• All the romances which I have mentioned,' says Mr. Mills, were superseded in reputation by the Morgante Maggiore of Lodovico Pulci, the friend of Lorenzo de' Medici. He is called, indeed, the Ennius of Italy. The topics of the poem are the wars and adventures of Charlemagne's Paladins, which the envy of Ganellon, the minister of the emperor, gave rise to ; and the nominal hero, Morgante, is a giant, subdued and converted to Christianity by Orlando, and who serves as his friend and esquire during some of his expeditions against the Moors. Like the rest of the early writers of the romantic epopée, Pulci commences many of his cantos with quotations from Scripture; he invokes most sacred names in the midst of his descriptions of follies and indecencies; and introduces prayers and Scriptural phrases in places little analogous to such solemnities; among extravagant, and even licentious tales. Pulci is a fine painter of manners. Poignant satire and arch simplicity are not the only features of the Morgante Maggiore.' Vol. II. pp. 146, 7.

Mr. Mills rightly estimates the Morgante Maggiore; and we observe with pleasure, that he by no means concurs with Sismondi in consigning both poet and song to unqualified condemnation. We admit its unmeasured prolixity, and its grotesque mixture of sacred and ludicrous subjects; but a rich vein runs through it, and its Tuscan dialect is considered by the Italian critics as exquisitely pure. One important link in the genealogy of Ariosto's great poem has, however, been omitted by Mr. Mills, viz. the Mambriano of Francesco bello, commonly called the blind man of Ferrara, which preceded the Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo. We acknowledge that we never saw the work; but, from M. Ginguené's analysis, which is now before us, we infer that it has considerable merit. Both the Morgante Maggiore and the Mambriano are, however, memorable chiefly as the precursors of the Orlando Innamorato, the immediate progenitor of the. Orlando Furioso of Ariosto. Of Matteo Maria Boiardo, we cite the following notice from Mr. Mills.

• He was born in a castle near Reggio, in Lombardy, about the

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