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On the close of the EVERY-DAY Book, which commenced on new Year's Day, 1825, and ended in the last week of 1826, I began this work.
The only prospectus of the TABLE Book was the eight versified lines on the title-page. They appeared on new Year's Day, prefixed to the first number, which, with the successive sheets, to the present date, constitute the volume now in the reader's hands, and the entire of my endeavours during the half
So long as I am enabled, and the public continue to be pleased, the 'TABLE Book will be continued. The kind reception of the weekly numbers, and the monthly parts, encourages me to hope that like favour will be extended to the half-yearly volume. Its multifarious contents and the illustrative engravings, with the help of the copious index, realize my wish, “to please the young, and help divert the wise.” Perhaps, if the good old window-seats had not gone out of fashion, it might be called a parlour-window book—a good name for a volume of agreeable reading selected from the book-case, and left lying about, for the constant recreation of the family, and the casual amusement of visitors.
Miss EDGEWORTH's lines express her esti- and sent many precious volumes to Engmation of the gem she has the happiness land to enrich the bishop's magnificent to own. That lady allowed a few casts library. He vividly remarks, “I delight from it in bronze, and a gentleman who passionately in my books;" and yet he, who possesses one, and who favours the “ Table had accumulated them largely, estimated Book” with his approbation, permits its them rightly : he has a saying of books use for a frontispiece to this volume. The worthy of himself—"a wise man seeketh engraving will not be questioned as a deco- not quantity, but sufficiency.” ration, and it has some claim to be regarded Petrarch loved the quiet scenes of nature; as an elegant illustration of a miscellany and these can scarcely be observed from a which draws largely on art and literature, carriage or while riding, and are never and on nature itself, towards its supply. enjoyed but on foot; and to me on whom
“I delight,” says Petrarch, “in my pic- that discovery was imposed, and who am tures. I take great pleasure also in images; sometimes restrained from country walks they come in show more near unto nature by necessity—it was no small pleasure, than pictures : for they do but appear; but when I read a passage in his “View of these are felt to be substantial, and their Human Nature” which persuaded me of bodies are more durable. Amongst the his fondness for the exercise : “ A journey Grecians, the art of painting was esteemed on foot hath most pleasant commodities; above all handycrafts, and the chief of all a man may go at his pleasure ; none shall the liberal arts. How great the dignity hath stay him, none shall carry him beyond been of statues, and how fervently the study his wish ; none shall trouble him; he hath and desire of men have reposed in such but one labour, the labour of nature—to pleasures, emperors and kings, and other noble personages, nay, even persons of in In “ The Indicator " there is a paper of ferior degree, have shown, in their indus- peculiar beauty, by Mr. Leigh Hunt, “ trious keeping of them when obtained.” receiving a sprig of myrtle from Vaucluse,” Insisting on the golden mean, as a rule of with a paragraph suitable to this occasion : happiness, he says, “I possess an amazing “We are supposing that all our readers collection of books, for attaining this, and are acquainted with Petrarch. Many of every virtue : great is my delight in behold- them doubtless know him intimately. ing such a treasure." He slights persons Should any of them want an introduction who collect books “for the pleasure of to him, how should we speak of him in the boasting they have them; who furnish their gross? We should say that he was one chambers with what was invented to furnish of the finest gentlemen and greatest schotheir minds; and use them no otherwise lars that ever lived ; that he was a writer than they do their Corinthian tables, or who flourished in Italy in the fourteenth their painted tables and images, to look century, at the time when Chaucer was at." He contemns others who esteem not young, during the reigns of our Edwards ; the true value of books, but the price at that he was the greatest light of his age; which they may sell them—"a new prac- that although so fine a writer himself, and tice" (observe it is Petrarch that speaks) the author of a multitude of works, or “crept in among the rich, whereby they may rather because he was both, he took the attain one art more of unruly desire.” He greatest pains to revive the knowledge of repeats, with rivetting force, “ I have great the ancient learning, recommending it every plenty of books: where such scarcity has where, and copying out large manuscripts been lamented, this is no small possession: with his own hand; that two great cities, I have an inestimable many of books !" Paris and Rome, contended which should He was a diligent collector, and a liberal have the honour of crowning him; that he imparter of these treasures.
He corre was crowned publicly, in the metropolis of sponded with Richard de Bury, an illus- the world, with laurel and with myrtle; trious prelate of our own country, eminent that he was the friend of Boccaccio, the for his love of learning and learned men, father of Italian prose ; and, lastly, that his
greatest renown nevertheless, as well as the predominant feelings of his existence, arose from the long love he bore for a lady of Avignon, the far-famed Laura, whom he fell in love with on the 6th of April, 1327, on a Good Friday; whom he rendered illustrious in a multitude of sonnets, which have left a sweet sound and sentiment in the ear of all after lovers; and who died, still passionately beloved, in the year 1348, on the same day and hour on which he first beheld her. Who she was, or why their connection was not closer, remains a mystery. But that she was a real person, and that in spite of all her modesty she did not show an insensible countenance to his passion, is clear from bis long-haunted imagination, from his own repeated, accounts, from all that he wrote, uttered, and thought. One love, and one poet, sufficed to give the whole civilixed world a sense of delicacy in desire, of the abundant riches to be found in one single idea, and of the going out of a man's self to dwell in the soul and happiness of another, which has served to refine the passion for all modern times ; and perhaps will do so, as lorg as love renews the world."
At Vaucluse, or Valchiusa, " a remarkable spot in the old poetical region of Provence, consisting of a little deep glen of green meadows surrounded with rocks, and containing the fountain of the river Sorgue," Petrarch resided for several years, and composed in it the greater part of his poems.
The following is a translation, by Sir William Jones, of
AN ODE BY PETRARCH,
Ye clear and sparkling streams !
(Warm'd by the sunny beams) Through whose transparent crystal Laura play'd;
Ye boughs that deck the grove,
Where Spring her chaplets wove,
Sweet herbs! and blushing flowers !
For ever fatal, yet for ever dear;
And ye, that heard my sighs
When first she char'd my eyes,
If Ileavin has fix'd my doom,
That Lore must quite consume
Ah! grunt this slight request,-
That here my uro way rest,
This pleasing hope will smooth
My 2nxious mind, and soothe The pangs of that inevitable hour;
My spirit will not grieve
Iler mortal veil to leave
Haply, the guilty maid
Through yon accustom'd glade
Where first her beauty's light
O'erpower'd my dazzled sight,
There, sorrowing, shall she see,
Beneath an aged tree,
Too late her tender sighs
Shall melt the pitying skies,
0! well-remember'd day,
When on you bank she lay,
The young and blooming Howers,
Falling in fragrant showers,
Some on her mantle hung,
Some in her locks were strung, Like orient gems in rings of flaming gold;
Some, in a spicy cloud
Descending, call'd aloud, “ Here Love and Youth the reins of empire hold."
1 view'd the heavenly maid;
And, rapt in wonder, said “ The groves of Eden gave this angel birth ;"
Her look, her voice, her smile,
That might all Ileaven beguile, Wafted my soul above the realms of earth :
The star-bespangled skies
Were open'd to my eyes; Sighing I said, " Whence rose this glittering scene ?"*
Since that auspicious hour,
This bank, and odorous bower,
Well mayst thou blush, my song,
To leave the rural throng
But, were thy poet's fire
Ardent as his desire,
It is within probability to imagine that the original of this “ode” may have been impressed on the paper, by Petrarch's pen, from the ink-tand of the frontispiece.