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[343] in Southey's ‘Curse of Kehama,’ by one imaginary being to another, and therefore might have been well applied by a real poet to a fancied mistress. I remember, too, to have seen, somewhere, great trust put upon the exquisite phrase, ‘lasciando tenebroso, onde si move,’ as too fresh from the heart of a lover to be considered mere poetry; and yet Milton has made Adam say of Eve, ‘She disappeared, and left me dark,’ and Spenser, reversing the medal, says, yet more beautifully, of Una, that

her angel's face
Could make a sunshine in the shady place.

In short, this argument of internal evidence seems to me to be very little applicable to poetry like that in question; because, in truth, as the Clown says in ‘As You Like It,’ ‘what is most feigning is most poetical,’ and because the Platonizing period, in which Petrarch lived, filled the world with imaginations not less extravagant than Laura; and many of them of the same kind, which have hardly yet ceased to be worshipped as realities. I am not, however, willing to say that Petrarch found nothing in nature to give him the intimation of the being he has idealized and called Laura; nor am I willing to abandon those dates which he has given with so much exactness in his Sonnets, and which I remember, also, to have seen in his own exquisite Gothic hand, in his copy of Virgil, recording the time when he first saw her, and the time of her death. It seems to me it cannot all have been a mere fiction; and yet I think that the fat, happy, patriotic citizen and poet, who travelled all over Europe, and who studied more books than any mian of his time, and who lived so much in the houses and confidence of Princes and Cardinals, is little likely to have been the pining, suffering lover he so exquisitely represents. That he was in love, I do not doubt. That he chose a lady of his heart, that he saw her first at church, in April, 1327, and that she died in 1348,—as he has so exactly marked it in his Sonnets,—seems all very reasonable. But it remains to be proved from his works, or in any other way, that he was among her acquaintance or friends, or that he ever spoke to her. Not one line intimates that she ever vouchsafed him a word of kindness or favor. He was satisfied, I apprehend, to consider her a bright and beautiful vision; ‘to behold though but her utmost skirts of glory, and far off her steps adore.’ He formed a circle of dreams and wishes for his heart, and she was the centre of them, but that was all. She, perhaps, knew nothing of his passion, and, at any rate, lived on in undisturbed happiness

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