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Carrara, Lord of Padua, to whom the treatise was addressed, and who loved to retire from the toils of state to philosophize with his beloved friend Petrarch.
The terms of friendship on which Petrarch lived with many
of the most illustrious and remarkable men of his time, reflects even less credit on him than on those, who were capable of appreciating his noble qualities. But it was not alone with the great that he maintained friendships. What can be more gratifying than to reflect on the long and uninterrupted attachment that subsisted between him and Boccacio; so different from the temporary liaisons, broken by jealousies and embittered by envy, which exist between authors in our days.
It was only a short time previous to the death of Petrarch, that the “ Decameron ” fell into his hands, for Boccacio, though on terms of such cordial affection with him, forbore from mentioning this work; doubtlessly because he deemed that the licentious freedom of some portion of it might have been displeasing to his friend. How kind is the letter he sent to Boccacio after the perusal of it — the last letter he ever wrote. I thought of it as I looked round the chamber in which it was written, a chamber that was to me invested with the sacredness of a sanctuary, when I reflected on the kindly affections indulged in, and the peaceful life passed here by him who breathed his last sigh within its humble walls.
By how many poets has this last dwelling of
Petrarch been visited. Alfieri recorded his pilgrimage to it by a beautiful sonnet written in the album kept in the house, of which the following is a faithful transcript :
O Cameretta, che gia in te chiudesti
Quel grande alla cui fama è augusto il mondo,
Quel gentile d'amor mastro profondo
Solitario ricovero giocondo!
Di che lagrime amare il petto inondo
Prezioso diaspro, aguta, ed oro
Di rivestir si nobile tesoro.
Vuolsi, e por gemme ove disdice alloro:
The tomb of Petrarch stands in the churchyard at Arqua. It is of marble, simple and unpretending in form, placed on four columns, and bears the following inscription :
Frigida Franscisca tegit hic lapis ossa Petrarcæ
Suscipe, Virgo, parens, animam : sate Virgine parce ; Fessaque jam terris coeli requiescat in arce. The tomb still bears the marks of the sacrilegious robbers who broke it open in 1667, to possess themselves of the bones of Petrarch, in order to sell them. Our own Byron, too, came here, and his name with that of his companion is in the album. Well do I I remember his having told me of his visit to Arqua, when he brought the lady of his love, the fair Con
tessa Guiccioli to see the abode and tomb of Petrarch.
“She who knows his sonnets by heart,” said Byron, “and who recites them as only an Italian mouth can pronounce the poetry of her country, was delighted with this little journey among the Euganean hills, and rendered it very delightful to me. Petrarch is the poetical idol of the women in Italy,” continued he, “and no wonder, since if he serves not their cause in representing the passion of love, as so engrossing and despotic a one, as it sometimes is, he at least professes that such was its empire
VICENZA.-Palladio has enriched his birth-place with many specimens of his fine taste and skill; which, in despite of the absence of all other attractions, still draw many a traveller to Vicenza. Nowhere have I seen a worse inn, or streets so unclean, and crowded by a population more ill-looking. A sitting-room even in the least bad inn here is a luxury unknown; and no fewer than two beds
оссиру the greater portion of the chamber in which our repasts are served. Our courier, the most indefatigable of his profession in endeavours to secure the comfort of his employers, shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders, and exclaims, “ Patienza, Signora !” after each vain effort to procure a better room, or less disgusting looking food. Luckily, roasted chickens and omelets he can always manage to
prepare ; but even the poultry and eggs he has been compelled to go in search of himself.
The dinner provided for us, and which the host insisted on serving, consisted of some soup, composed of maccaroni floating in a tureen of warm water, powdered with cheese. A square piece of beef, compact and hard as the bee's-wax used in France for polishing floors ; a lump of mutton, and a lump of pork, all served on the same dish. These were the piéces-de-résistance; and the entrés consisted of brains fried in oil, and salt fish stewed with olives. Our host seemed no less offended than surprised at our rejection of these dainties: and was only consoled by the assurance that though not eaten, payment would be made for them.
The palace here has been restored by Palladio, and reflects great credit on his skill and judgment. It contains some good pictures, chiefly allegorical, a style which, whether in painting or literature, I admire less than any other.
There is a fine library at Vicenza, founded by a Count Bertolo, and in honour of him called the Bertoliana. The frequency of bequests of libraries and valuable collections in every branch of science and natural history, in Italy, reflects great credit on the liberality and patriotism of the donors; who in thus enriching their native towns lay the foundation of literature and science, the humanizing effects of which have so salutary an influence on the happiness of the inhabitants.
Vanity, that stimulant which excites mortals into so many praiseworthy as well as foolish actions, is often attributed to those who have bequeathed valuable collections away from their families for the public advantage ; but admitting that this puerile motive may have led to such gifts, the effect is so good that surely the cause may be pardoned, for vanity never was displayed in a more laudable man
To how many beneficial consequences have such bequests paved the way? The
gratifying the thirst for knowledge inherent in many youthful minds, the emulation excited among those who might not otherwise have been tempted to study, the love of learning that grows with the habit of acquiring it, are all fostered by the liberality of him who places within reach of his townsmen the treasures collected during his life, and the desire of the honourable distinction of having his name identified with his gift, is a blameless vanity, forgotten in the gratitude felt for his beneficence.
The Olympic theatre at Vicenza was designed by Palladio. It is too small, notwithstanding the admi. rable skill in perspective evinced to counteract this defect, to admit of its producing the effect so classical a building ought to produce; nevertheless, in purity of design and elegance of execution, it is not unworthy of him who planned it. It is lucky for the fame of Palladio, that the design for this theatre was given previously to the discovery of those at Pompeii and Herculaneum; for the resemblance,