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of a native literature, but amid the new influences to which it was now subjected, the Italian mind gave itself up to the enthusiastic admiration and the careful imitation of those ancient models which were gradually emerging from the oblivion in which they had been buried for ages.
Such were the intellectual tendencies of the Italian people in the early part of the fourteenth century, when Petrarch began his career as an author and a restorer of the learning of the past. Into this spirit of his age he entered with the full earnestness of his enthusiastic nature, and soon became the foremost among his countrymen in zeal for the discovery of manuscripts and in taste for the delicate appreciation of the literary beauties which they contained. Mr. Hallam pronounces Petrarch the first real restorer of polite letters, the most earnest and influential promoter of a taste for classical knowledge among the people of Italy. He was charmed with the exquisite rhythm of the language of Cicero and Virgil, and long before he learned to comprehend their meaning, he copied with his own hand several of their writings from the manuscripts which he had been instrumental in rescuing from the dungeons of monasteries where they had long been mouldering. He soon entered upon the study of the Latin tongue with the utmost ardor of youth, and for many years it seems to have been his highest ambition to acquire the ability to write the language which had been used by the great authors of the classic age. He attempted in Latin an epic poem, which he called Africa, and of which he is said to have been more proud than of the sonnets and odes with which his name has since become identified.
In the sketch which Mr. Greene here gives of Petrarch we. find a comprehensive view of his entire character both as an author and a man, which we specially commend to the attention of those who have been accustomed to think of him only as the author of the Canzoniere and the subject of the mysterious passion which so deeply tinged his life and became the inspiration of much of his poetry. If not the profoundest he was certainly the most enthusiastic scholar of his age, and his influence both in the restoration of ancient learning and in the creation of a native literature for his country continued to be felt through many subsequent generations. Resolute and unwearied as were his researches among the scattered remains of Roman genius, his labors and aspirations were by no means confined to these, and while he pointed the writers of his age to the classic models of the past, he also called them by many an earnest exhortation to cultivate their own VOL. XV.—NO. LX.
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language and make it the receptacle of a permanent national literature. In this patriotic undertaking he himself nobly led the way, and by his example as well as by his precepts, taught the young scholars of Italy to make their studies of Virgil and Horace, of Cicero and Livy, tributary to the improvement of their own tongue and a means of rekindling the genius of their own countrymen. He breathed forth in the deep current of his verse the tenderest laments over the fallen condition of his country, and by recalling the proud history of the past, the long glories of Rome's elder days, he sought to arouse the Italian mind to new hopes and new determinations. He thus became the founder of a school of poetry and criticism which not only numbered among its disciples the leading minds of the age, but, long after he had gone down to the tomb, continued to shape by its influence the literary taste and character of the Italian people. Su 1. The practice of crowning with laurel the favorite bards of a people seems to have been common throughout antiquity. It existed among the states of Greece, and was continued in the palmiest days of the republic and the empire of Rome; but it had now been obsolete in Western Europe for many centuries. Beneath the influences of reviving learning, however, it was occasionally renewed at the universities of France and Germany, and the laurel was bestowed upon youthful scholars, eminent for their genius or their attainments in literature. But as yet it had not extended beyond the walls of universities or the societies of the learned, and it was reserved for Petrarch to be the first who should win this high distinction by the renown of his literary works. It was in the autumn of 1340, in the thirty-seventh year of his age, that the Senate of Rome offered to bestow on him the laureate crown in their own Capitol, as a token of their admiration of his genius and their gratitude for his services to their country. Many of his finest odes and sonnets had been given to the world and were now widely read and sung in the homes of the people, thus linking the name of Petrarch with the warmest enthusiasm of the peasantry and with the hopes and joys of the young of every class. But it was the rumor which had gone abroad that, in his retirement at Vaucluse, he was engaged in writing an epic poem in the Latin tongue, that made him the admiration and pride of the learned and the powerful both of his own and of other countries. On the same day on which the offer of the Senate reached him in the solitude of his studies, he also re: ceived from the University of Paris an invitation to be crowned as Poet Laureate in that city. He hesitated for a while between the two proposals, of which the one would extend his fame in a foreign land, and the other would bind him more closely to the sympathies and fortunes of his own country. Prompted by patriotic feelings he decided to accept the honor from the hands of the Roman Senate, and in April of the following year he repaired to the Capitol in order to participate in the magnificent pageant and to receive from the venerable Fathers of the State the proudest distinction which literary genics could win. It was the most glorious spectacle of the age, and one which might well be hailed by the desponding patriot or the thoughtful friend of human progress as the harbinger of a better era that would yet dawn upon a land: hitherto desolated by war and overgrown with barbarism. « The dark clouds which hung so thickly over the moral and political horizon, seemed for an instant to break away, and the shout of the thousands who crowded around the Capitol and filled the avenues of the Forum might have seemed the voice of reviving Rome,-reviving, not to roll the dripping wheels of the triumphal car along the steep of the Capitol ; not to suspend a new shield or lance at the shrine of Capitolinus; but to place upon the bloodless brow of genius the reward of victories gained in the pure field of intellectual exertion, over the ignorance and wildness of a barbarous
Such were the labors and the rewards of a man of genius and letters in Italy, in the age which witnessed the earliest revival of ancient learning. We linger over them with peculiar interest as exemplifications of the dawning period of modern civilization, when not in Italy alone, but in every country of Western Europe, were slowly developing the intellectual activities, the social institutions, and the civil rights, from which has sprung all that we most value both in the literature and the social order of our own times. Contemporary with Petrarch were other names of high literary celebrity, but there is not one among them which stands out so boldly as the representative of the scholarship and the genius of the age. The same period also witnessed the singular insurrection and the short-lived triumph of the popular favorite Cola di Rienzi, for whose character Petrarch conceived the highest admiration, and whose marvellous career was a natural result of the new ideas which were then just starting 10 life in the minds of the people. But upon these incidental characters we are unable now to linger, for we must turn to other topics furnished in the volume before us.
Intimately connected with the revival of learning in Italy,
of which Petrarch was so zealous a promoter, was the origin and progress of the Reformation in that country. Mr. Greene treats of this in a subsequent paper, though the object which he has in view leads him to present only a general outline of the manner in which it was begun and of the causes which prevented its success. Italy and Spain are justly regarded throughout the Protestant world as the strongest fortresses of the Papacy, and indeed are usually spoken of as countries in which none have ever dared to breathe the doctrines of the Reformation. This opinion is far more correct when applied to Spain than when applied to Italy, for in this latter country, the corruptions in the doctrine and practice of the Church were loudly complained of and denounced even before the voice of the great Reformer had been raised in Germany. The literary spirit which had been awakened in Italy during the fourteenth century had proved unfriendly to that implicit faith in the dogmas of the Church which the Papacy always demands, and by the beginning of the sixteenth century it had created in the minds of many leading scholars and ecclesiastics a settled unbelief with respect to the foundations of Christianity itself. This is said to have forced itself on the attention of Luther when in youth he visited that country, and to have excited his amazement more than any other fact which he observed in the condition of the people. He found that in every circle there were those who spoke in derision alike of the authority of the Papal See, the institutions of the Church, and of the doctrines and evidences of religion. But though this scoffing infidelity was widely spread among the literary and scientific men of Italy, there were those in every leading city over whom it had no power, but who, while they saw and condemned the abominations of Popery, still clung with unyielding faith to the truth of divine revelation and to many of the institutions of the Catholic Church. These men maintained in the discussions of their literary societies, and not a few of them promulgated in their writings, doctrines analogous to those of Protestantism; and when the voice of the Reformation was heard from beyond the Alps, the sentiments it proclaimed found an echo in many a conclave of scholars in every city of Italy and even around the very walls of the Vatican.
It was on the borders of Italy too that the Waldenses had for unknown ages maintained their simple worship, and amid their mountain homes had kept uncorrupted the faith they had received from the earliest fathers of the Christian church. Content with their own primitive independence, and careless of the ecclesiastical struggles which had divided the world, they had hitherto dwelt unharmed while the tumults of war and the relentless vengeance of persecution were raging around them. But the influence of their quiet example and of their spiritual doctrines had not been wholly unfelt, and wherever it was extended it was sure to weaken the hold of the Papacy upon the consciences of men.
The agency of causes like these, in conjunction with the political events of the time, had prepared the way for the Reformation in Italy; and when its doctrines began to be promulgated, they found a ready reception in nearly every portion of the country. In Ferrara they were embraced by the princess who sat upon the ducal throne, and the persecuted Protestants who took refuge within her jurisdiction found in her a powerful protector and a liberal patron. In Modena they were cherished by a large body of scholars who became their teachers among the people, and in Bologna they ranked among their disciples many of the brightest names of the University as well as some of the most distinguished citizens. In Naples they were boldly preached by Bernardino Ochino, a devout and enthusiastic monk, first of the Franciscan and afterwards of the Capuchin order, whose whole nature was kindled by his enlivening faith in the doctrine of justification by grace. He travelled over Italy everywhere proclaiming the new opinions. “ The cities,” says Ranké,“ poured out their multitudes to hear him preach; the churches were too small to contain them; the learned and the common people, both sexes, old and young, all were gratified. His coarse garb, his beard that swept his breast, his gray hairs, his pallid, meagre countenance, and the feebleness he had contracted from his obstinate fasts, gave him the aspect of a saint.” In Venice and in Lucca the Lutheran doctrines spread even more widely among the people ; they were eagerly embraced by leading scholars and ecclesiastics, who republished the works of the Reformers of Germany and Switzerland, and openly applauded the principles of spiritual independence which they contained. * Both these States were well nigh won over to Protestantism, and were on the eve of declaring against the Papal See, when a complication of political events made the support of the Pontiff necessary to their security, and decided their governments to continue an allegiance which, however it might be hated, could not now be safely dispensed with.
So widely had the Reforination spread its influence among the States of Italy. In some of them it seemed already triumphant. In others its principles had taken strong hold of