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PETIT-PIED (Nicholas), nephew of the preceding, and a celebrated doctor of the Sorbonne, was born Aug. 4, 1665, at Paris. He was appointed professor in the Sorbonne 1701; but, having signed the famous “ Case of Conscience” the same year, with thirty-nine other doctors, he lost his professorship, and was banished to Beaune in 1703. Some time after this he retired into Holland with father Quesnel and M. Fouillon, but obtained leave to return to Paris in 1718, where the faculty of theology, and the house of Sorbonne, restored him to his privileges as doctor in June 1719. This, however, was of no avail, as the king annulled what had been done in his favour the July following. M. Petit-Pied became afterwards theologian to M. de Lorraine, bishop of Bayeux, which prelate dying June 9, 1728, he narrowly escaped being arrested, and retired again into Holland. In 1734, however, he was recalled ; passed the remainder of life quietly at Paris, and died January 7, 1747, aged 82, leaving a large number of well-written works, the greatest part in French, the rest in Latin, in which he strongly opposes the constitution Unigenitus.
PETIVER (James), a famous English botanist, was contemporary with Plukenet; but the exact time of his birth is not known, nor is much intelligence concerning him at present to be obtained.
His profession was that of an apo. thecary, to which he was apprenticed under Mr. Feltham, then apothecary to St. Bartholomew's hospital. When he entered into business for himself, he settled in Aldersgatestreet, and there coutinued for the remainder of his life. He obtained considerable business, and after a time became apothecary to the Charter-house. After the Tradescants, he appears to bave been the only person, except Mr. Courten, and sir Hans Sloane, who made any considerable collection in Natural History, previous to those of the present day. He engaged the captains and surgeons of ships to bring him home specimens, and enabled them to select proper objects by printed directions which he distributed among them. By these means his collection became so valuable, that, some time before his death, sir Han's Sloane offered him four thousand pounds for it. After his death, it was purchased by the same collector, and now makes part of the British Museum, where they
! Moreri. -Dict. Hist,
are frequently resorted to for the sake of ascertaining obscure synonyms, his plates being so generally cited by Linnæus, and in many instances so insufficient to express the precise object intended. He was elected into the royal society, and becoming acquainted with Ray, assisted him in arranging the second volume of his History of Plants. He died April 20, 1718, and much honour was shewn to him at his funeral, by the attendance of sir Hans Sloane, and other eminent men, as pall-bearers, &c.
He gave the world several publications on various subjects of natural history : 1. “ Musei Petiveriani Centuriæ decem,” 1692–1703, 8vo. 2. “ Gazophylacii Naturæ et Artis, Decades decem,” 1702, folio, with 100 plates. 3. “A Catalogue of Mr. Ray's English Herbal, illustrated with figures,” 1713, folio, and continued in 1715. Many smaller publications may be found enumerated in Dr. Pulteney's Sketches, with many papers in the Philosophical Transactions, and a material article in the third volume of Ray's work, entitled “ Plantæ rariores Chinenses Madraspatanæ, et Africanæ, à Jacobo Petivero ad opus consummanduin collatæ,” &c. Most of his lists and catalogues having become very scarce, they were collected and published in 1767, in 2 vols: fol.'
PETRARCH (FRANCIS), one of the most celebrated characters in literary history, was born in Tuscany, in 1304. His father was a notary at Florence, who having taken part with the Ghibellin faction, shared their fate, and was banished, after which he took up his residence at Pisa. Here, his infant son discovering marks of genius, his father destined him for a learned profession; and having recommended him to study the law, he passed several years at Montpellier and Bologna, listening to the ablest professors in that science, but much more inclined to peruse the writings of the classical authors. He relates himself, that his father, incensed at what he thought a misapplication of time, seized at once every classical author of which he was possessed, and threw them into the fire ; but the frantic grief which Petrarch expressed at that sight, so mollified the old man, that he hastily rescued Cicero and Virgil from the flames, and gave them back to his son ; remarking, that it was only the immoderate attachment to these authors which he blamed, and that the works of
Pulteney's Sketches. --Rees's Cyclopædia, by sir J. E. Smith.
Cicero, if rightly used, were the best preparative to the study of the law. Petrarch acknowledges that the struggle between the strong propensity of bis nature, and the will of a respected parent, was the cause of many unhappy hours : but his father's death, which happened when he was about the
age of twenty-two, put an end to the contest; and left him at liberty to pursue his inclinations.
The pope's court being then at Avignon, Petrarch, who had while at college contracted a strict intimacy with the bishop of Lombes, of the illustrious family of Colonna, and had passed a summer with him at his bishopric in Gascony, was afterwards kiodly solicited to reside with him in the house of his brother, the cardinal Colonna, then at Avig
This invitation he accepted. His shining talents, says his late apologist, joined to the most amiable manners, procured bim the favour and esteem of many persons in power and eminent stations: and he found in the house of the cardinal an agreeable bome, where he enjoyed the sweets of an affectionate society, with every convenience he could desire for the indulgence of his favourite studies.
It was while at Avignon, that he contracted that passion which has so deeply engaged the attention of his biographers, and has given an air of romance, or of poetic fiction, to a considerable portion of his life. It appears that on the morning of Good Friday in 1327, he saw for the first time the young and beautiful Laura; undoubtedly a most important incident to Petrarch, for although his works give evidence of his abilities as a politician, theologian, and philosopher, yet it is to those beautiful verses alone, in which he has celebrated the accomplishments, and bewailed the fate of Laura, that he has been indebted for his perma. nent reputation. But his biographers differ widely from each other in their representations of the nature of Petrarch's love for Laura. His late acute and ingenious apologist, Jord Woodhouselee, deduces from the works of the poet himself, that this passion, so remarkable both for its fervency and duration, was an honourable and virtuous flame, and that Petrarch aspired to the happiness of being united to Laura in marriage. “We have," says his lordship,
unquestionable grounds for believing, from the evidence of his own writings, that the heart of Laura was not insensible to his passion; and although the term of his probation was tedious and severe, he cherished a hope, approaching to confidence, that he was at last to attain the
end of his wishes. Such are the ideas that we are led to entertain from the writings of the poet himself, of the nature and object of his passion; and such has been the uniform and continued belief of the world with regard to it, from his own days to the present."
“At length,” continues lord Woodhouselee," comes into the field, a hardy but most uncourteous knight, who, with a spirit very opposite to that of the heroes of chivalry, blasts at once the fair fame of the virtuous Laura, and the hitherto unsullied honour of her lover; and, proudly throwing down his gauntlet of defiance, maintains that Laura was a married woman, the mother of a numerous family; that Petrarch, with all his professions of a pure and honourable flame, had no other end in his unexampled assiduity of pursuit, than what every libertine proposes to himself in the possession of a mistress ; and that the lovely Laura, though never actually unfaithful to her husband's bed, was sensible to the passion of her Cicisbeo, highly gratified by his pursuit, and while she suffered on bis account much restraint and severity from a jealous husband, continued to give him every mark of regard, which, without a direct breach of her matrimonial vow, she could bestow upon him." Such is the hypothesis of M. de Sade, in his “ Memoires pour la Vie de Petrarque,” 3 vols. 4to, which he published at Amsterdam, in 1764-67. He also asserts that Laura was the wife of one of his own predecessors, Hugh de Sade, and the mother of eleven children; that she was the daughter of Audibert de Noyes, was born in 1307 or 1308, at Avignon, and died there in 1348, having been married in 1325.
The arguments of lord Woodhouselee, who has fully examined and refuted this hypothesis, appear to us to amount as nearly to historic demonstration as the case will admit, while the whole train of De Sade's narrative is inconsistent with the evidence to be derived from Petrarch's writings. In the conclusion lord Woodhouselee says, “I have now, as I trust, impartially canvassed the whole of these arguments drawn by the author of the Memoires' from the works of Petrarch himself, or what may be termed the intrinsic evidence in support of the material part of his hypothesis, namely, that Laura was a married woman; nor do I think I presume too much when I say that I have shewn their absolute insufficiency to prove that proposition.” After farther asserting, that in the whole of Petrarch's works, consisting of more than 300 sonnets and other poetical pieces, there is not to be found a single passage
which intimates that Laura was a married woman, he produces a variety of direct arguments on the subject, and concludes, that " while on the one hand we have shewn that there is not the smallest solidity in all that elaborate argument, which has been brought to prove that Laura was a married woman, we have proved, on the other, from the whole tenour of the writings of Petrarch, the only evidence that applies to the matter, that his affection for Laura was an honourable and virtuous flame."
Notwithstanding this argument, which we think conclusive against the abbé Sade, all the difficulties which attend this part of Petrarch's history are by no means reinoved. Many are still inclined to doubt whether Laura was a real character. Gibbon calls Petrarch's love “a metaphysical passion for a nymph so shadowy, that her existence has been questioned.” Some
that his mistress's name was Lauretta, and that the poet made it Laurą, because, thus altered, it supplied him with numberless allusions to the laurel, and to the story of Apollo and Daphne; but what appears to have perplexed most of his biographers and critics, is their supposition that Laura was a married lady. This obliges them to suppose farther, that Petrarch's love was disinterested, and correspondent to a certain purity of character which they have been pleased to give him, in contradiction to the fact of his licentious commerce with women, by whom he had at least two children, at the times when he is suffering most for the absence of his Laura.
The duration and intensity of Petrarch's passion for Laura, whether single or married, afford also other subjects for dispute; and it seems to be agreed upon by those sober critics who wish to strip his history from romance, that although bis passion was so sincere as to give bim uneasiness for a time, it was not of a permanent and overwhelming nature, and must have been diverted, if not extinguished, by the multiplicity of studies, travels, and political em ployments, which form his public life, to which we shall dow advert.
It is said that one of the methods he took to combat his passion was travelling; and it is certain that his frequent removals form a very great part of the incidents which compose his life. In 1333 he travelled through Paris into Flanders, and thence to Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne, returning by Lyons to Avignon. After another