Imagens da página

of low birth, who they persuaded him was the niece and heiress of the emperor of the East. He immediately assumed the title of emperor, arrayed himself and his bride in royal robes, had a throne carried before him, and appropriated the liberal gifts of the barons to raising money for the conquest of his supposed empire.

• The exhaustion of his finances probably cured him of this folly, and sent him back in poverty to Europe, io fall into another which had well nigh proved fatal. On his arrival in Provence, be became enamoured of a lady unfortunately called Louve de Penautier ; he called himself Loup, in honour of her name, and not content with this mark of his gallantry, le habited himself in a wolf's skin, and suffered himself to be hunted by shepherds and dogs, till, exhausted by wounds and fatigue, he fell, and was recognized by his pursuers.'

Some interesting incidents in the life of the greatest of Italian poets are selected; but the Author is not sufficiently careful in intimating the sources from which he has taken them. Brunetto Latini, a celebrated grammarian of the thirteenth century, was the preceptor of Dante from the earliest dawn of his faculties.

• He happened to be at Florence at the period of the birth of the immortal Dante Alighieri, and being eminent as an astrologer, was employed by his parents to draw his horoscope, and foretold for the new-born babe a glorious career in literature and science. Dante early lost his father, but his mother Bella, as the astrologer's prediction was confirmed by the fond dreams of maternal love previous to the birth of her child, took the utmost care of his education, and gave him Brunetto as a preceptor, who, by carefully imparting to him his own knowledge in grammar, philosophy, theology, and political science, contributed not a little to the fulfilment of his astrological prediction. Hence it happened that Dante, like our own Milton, to whom he has often been compared, was one of the most erudite of poets. He, however, cultivated not only the abstruser sciences, but the fine arts, in his youth, particularly music and painting, and was also remarkable for the beauty of his hand-writing. These various tastes led him to cultivate the friendship of the poets, painters, and musicians of Florence; he was equally intimate with

poet Guido Cavalcanti, the painter Giotto, and the musician Casella. One of his favourite amusements was, to take part as a performer in the private concerts of the musicians of his native city. Perhaps the utmost effort of their skill would not have afforded much delight to the fastidious ears of a modern amateur, though the science of music had made some progress since the invention of the modern system of notation in the eleventh century by Guido Aretini.'

[ocr errors]

· When but nine years old, Dante first saw Beatrice, the daughter of Folco Polinari, at a family festival ; and from that early age cherished a passion for her which terminated only with his life ; but

her death taking place when he had attained his twenty-fifth year, he vainly endeavoured, in the following year, to console himself for her loss by a marriage with Gemma Donati, a lady of that powerful family which was at the head of one of the subdivisions of the Guelph party, under the appellation of the Donati or the Neri; whilst Dante himself was inclined to the opposite faction of the Cerchi or Bianchi. This marriage was an unhappy one; party spirit might, perhaps, in the first instance have engendered matrimonial discord. Gemma was not remarkable for a meek temper, and Dante's exalted imagination was, perhaps, too much inflamed by the perfections of a dead mistress, easily to pardon the faults of a living wife. From the circumstance of his having called his only daughter after that Beatrice whose name he has immortalized in his works, we may naturally conclude that his avowed adoration of her memory, could not but be wounding to the pride, if not to the affection, of his high-born spouse; whilst, on the other hand, her errors served not a little to give strength and duration to his regrets for the loss of the object of his early passion.'

who goes

• Dante was of the middle stature, of a grave and dignified air, the contour of his face long, his complexion brown, his nose large apud aquiline, his eyes prominent and full of fire and expression, his under lip projecting, his hair and beard black, thick, and curled. He had habitually a melancholy and thoughtful air. One day at Verona, when his Inferno had acquired much reputation, he happened to pass by a house at the door of which some women were seated—“ Do you see that man,” said one of them to the rest in a low voice,“ that is he

down into hell and comes back again whenever he likes, and brings up to the earth news of those who abide there below."

" What you

say is true enough," replied her companion,“ Don't you see how brown his complexion is, and how his beard is curled up? --it must be the smoke and the heat there below that occasions it.Dante amused, and gratified at the effect his powerful genius had produced on the imaginations of the lower order, smiled at the simplicity of the women, and passed on. This great poet studied much, and spoke little, but his replies were pointed and acute. He was not unfrequently subject to fits of absence: having found, by chance, in an apothecary's shop at Vienna, a book he had long been in search of, he began to read it with such avidity, that he remained motionless on the same spot from morning till evening in the open shop, undisturbed by the noise and bustle of a marriage procession, which passed close by him.'

Charles, duke of Calabria, eldest son of Robert the Wise, and father of Joanna, was invited by the magistrates and principal citizens of Florence to take the government of that state, as the means of pacifying the civil dissentions which had caused the exile of Dante, and still continued to rage with unabated fury. The entry of the duke and dutchess into Flo,

rence, the administration of that prince, a great banquet given by the duke before his departure for Naples, a magnificent ball on the same day by the dutchess, are successively, described. At length we arrive at the central subject, round which these varied topics are made to revolve. Joanna was born after their return to Naples, and her healthy constitution promised length of days, to the great joy of the good old king, whose prosperity had been somewhat alloyed by the dread of seeing his race expire with his son. Now follows a subject, which is sure of occupying its due space in a work of this kind-the customary arrangements of the apartments of a princess on the birth of a child. To those who are gratified by pictures of the ancient domestic manners of Europe, and by tracing the progress of the arts and refinements of life, the minuteness of the description will not perhaps be considered frivolous. We presume that it is taken from the Abbé St. Palaye's Memoirs of Chivalry. No suspicion, therefore, can be entertained of its correctness.

· These apartments consisted of three rooms in suite; the chamber of parade, that of the mother, and that of the infant. The articles of furniture in these rooms were few in number, but splendid in their material. The chamber of parade contained only a buffet with long narrow shelves, of which our modern kitchen dresser is an exact copy in form;--a bed, never used, except to place the infant upon on the day of baptism; and a single low chair with a cushion, such as princesses were wont to sit on.

• This chamber, as we may suppose from the name, was 'adorned with the utmost magnificence the times could boast; it was hung with crimson satin embroidered with gold; the floor was entirely covered with crimson velvet ; and the curtains, tester, and coverlet of the bed, corresponded with the hangings of the walls. The single low chair was covered with crimson velvet, and contained a cushion of cloth of gold ; a similar cushion lay on the bolster of the bed. The buffet stood under a canopy of crimson cloth of gold, its long narrow shelves were covered with napkins of fine white linen, on which stood flagons, cups, and vases of gold and silver plate.

This apartment, resplendent with crimson and gold, and fine linen, led into that of the mother, which was entirely hung with white figured satin. It is doubtful whether modern luxury could exceed the simple splendour of the one, or the chaste elegance of the other.

This interior apartment contained rather more furniture than the exterior, having two beds, a couch on rollers, a buffet, a small table, and a single high-backed chair. The walls were hung with white figured silk damask; a traversaine or curtain of white figured satin, bordered with silk fringe, hung across the entrance : two others of the same description were festooned up at the upper end of the chamber in the day-time, but running on rings, were drawn at night, so as to enclose the space which contained the two beds on a line with each other, about five feet apart. These two beds, and the space between, were covered with one tester of white silk damask, with valances of the same white satin and silk fringes as the traversaines, a curtain similar to which was drawn up at the head of the alley between the two beds, under which stood the high-backed chair of state, covered with crimson cloth of gold, with a cushion of the same material. The coverlets of the beds were of ermine, on a ground of violet cloth, which appeared three-quarters of a yard" below the ermine all round, and hung down the sides of the bed a yard and a half, below which again appeared sheets of fine cambric, starched clear. The couch on rollers was hung and furnished with cushions and coverlets, similar to those of the beds, and commonly stood under a square canopy of crimson cloth of gold, terminating in a point at top. The floor was entirely covered with a carpet of velvet.

• But the principal ornament of this apartment was the great buffet which stood under a canopy of crimson cloth of gold, with a border of black velvet embroidered in gold, with the arms of the parents. The number of the shelves of this buffet marked in a conspicuous manner the rank of the parents of the new-born babe.

Two were appropriated to the wife of a banneret, three to a countess, four to the consort of a reigning duke or prince, and five to a queen. On these shelves, covered with white napkins, were ranged " vessels of crystal, garnished with gold and jewels, basins and cups of wrought gold and silver, never used on any other occasion," and all the most

magnifi, cent plate the banneret, count, duke, or king, possessed.

• At each end of the buffet stood massy candlesticks of gold, with wax tapers, which were lighted " when visitors entered;" two other lights stood before the buffet, and were kept constantly burning, night and day, as even in summer the day-light was excluded for fifteen days, in conformity to etiquette. On the buffet were placed three drageoirs (confection-boxes) of gold, ornamented with jewels, each rolled in a fine napkin, and at the side stood the low table, on which were placed the gold and silver cups, in which spiced wines were served, after confections had been presented from the buffet. The chamber of the new-born babe was arranged much in the same manner, except that the hangings were of silk of an inferior quality.

On the birth of Charles the Seventh of France, his mother hung her apartments with green, which then became the colour appropriated to queens alone; but previous to that period, princesses, with better taste, had adopted that colour which is emblematic of infant in

• On the day of baptism, preparatory to total immersion at the font, the infant was laid on the bed of the chamber of parade, en veloped in a mantle of cloth of gold, lined with ermine, but otherwise quite naked. A couvre-chef, or wrapping quilt of violet silk, covered the head, and hung down over the mantle. All who took part in the ceremony assembled in the chamber of parade. The child was carried by the most illustrious of its female relatives, and the cumbrous mantle was borne up by the next in rank.

· The bearer of the infant was supported by the most exalted of its male relatives, followed by three others carrying wax tapers, a


covered goblet containing salt, and two gold basins (the one covering the other, containing rose water for the font.

Before these royal personages, walked a long line of torch-bearers, two and two; others were stationed on each side of the space the procession was to pass, from the palace or castle, up to the font of the baptistery. The streets, the body of the church, and the font, were hung with tapestry, silk, or cloth of gold : and a splendid bed, richly draped in front of the choir of the church, marked the highest rank. As soon as the cere. mony of baptism was concluded, the sponsors and their attendants assembled in the apartments of the mother, when the infant was laid bea side her. A matron of royal birth presented the drageoir or confectionbox to her immediate superior, and was followed by another bearing the spiced wines (hypocras or pimento.) A less noble matron served those who held the rank of princes of the second degree, that is, counts or barons, lords of fiefs; whilst those still inferior, as simple knights not bannerets, or the minor officers of the household, were served by an unmarried lady of gentle blood.' pp. 111-16.

In the year 1328, the duke of Calabria died of a fever caught in the diversion of hawking. An anecdote is told of Robert, which does equal credit to the feelings and to the philosophy of that monarch. Having sat, during the last illness of his son, night and day by his bed-side, anxiously watching every changing symptom of the disease, when life and hope had expired together, the disconsolate parent walked about ejaculaing in the words of the prophet, Cecidit corona capitis mei-mihi, va vobis! Yet, so far did his sense of the high duties of bis office restrain his paternal sorrow, that he actually administered justice on the day on which the duke expired-an admirable instance of Christian fortitude! The dutchess of Calabria survived the duke but three years, leaving two daughters, Joanna, and Maria of Sicily, born only a few months after his death. In 1331, the king, anxious to establish the peaceable succession of Joanna, caused the oath of allegiance to be taken to her, with remainder to her sister; and as heiress to all the rights and privileges of her father, she was styled dutchess of Calabria.

The early nuptials of Joanna and Andrew were celebrated in the year 1333, with great pomp. It was an ill-fated union, and destined to destroy the Angevin dynasty of Naples. The young prince was left at the Neapolitan court under an Hungarian governor, and Friar Robert was invested with the unlimited charge of the religious faith and literary education of bis royal pupil. The latter is described by Petrarch as a most odious and crafty hypocrite, ostentatiously arrayed in filthy habiliments to give him the appearance of outward sanctity, and an indifference to worldly luxuries. In the mean while, the prince acquired at Naples nothing from his Hungarian precep

« AnteriorContinuar »