Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/134



escaped oblivion, thanks te a beautiful lady of those times called Ricciarda de’ Selvaggi, that was much loved and praised by Cine in bis verses. This is the specimen:

Mille dubbi in un di, mille querele al tribunal de l’alta imperatrice, ecc.

So far I bave shown our speech coming out of the poor remains of the Latin tongue, like an unhappy woman that escapes from under the ruins of a tremendous earthquake, in a tattered gown, such as chance has thrown on ber back; but her beauty, though concealed in rags, is soon perceived and every one strives to give her something, that she may dress and adorn herself completely. Thus Brunetto Latini and Guittone d’Arezzo had given our language a tolerable degree of grammar, Dante Alighieri a forcible and vigorous turn, and Gino of Pistoia had laboured much to make it sweet and harmonious.

But the man to whom the Italians have the greatest obligation for their fine language was without doubt Francesco Petrarca, son of a Fiorentine notary, who, having been banished bis native place, fled for reluge to Arezzo with bis wife, who was there brought to bed of our poet in the year 1304.

It is to be supposed that the youth was very ingenious and very studious, because bis Latin compositions began to give him a reputation in bis earliest years, not only in Italy but in France, where he was carried by bis father when he was but eight years of age. Having reached twenty-three, bis gentle soul was kindled with love for a young lady of Avignon, called Laura, who being, in ali probability, a lover of Italian, then the fashionable language of the wits of both countries, was the cause that her admirer took to write in it those numerous pieces of poetry which will send the name of this lady to the remotest posterity.

This is not a proper place to expatiate on Petrarch ’s different powers as a writer, that gained him the appellation of «restorer of the Latin tongue»; therefore confining myself to the character of bis Italian verses, I say that he fell short ot Dante in point of vehemence of expression, strength of thinking