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Title: Petrarch's Secret - or the Soul's Conflict with Passion (Three Dialogues Between - Himself and S. Augustine
Author: Petrarca, Francesco
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Petrarch's Secret - or the Soul's Conflict with Passion (Three Dialogues Between - Himself and S. Augustine" ***

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               FRANCIS PETRARCH

               EMILIAE AUGUSTAE

                PER ANNUS XXII






                 GRATUS DEDICO

                A. S. MDCCCCXI




Most modern writers on Petrarch agree in stating that of all his works
the Dialogues which he calls _Secretum meum_ are the one which throws
most light upon the man himself.

Yet no English translation has hitherto been published. A French
version by M. Victor Develay was issued a few years ago, and received
the recognition of the French Academy; and, considering the great
importance of Petrarch in the history of the Renaissance, not merely in
Italy but in Europe, it is time that a similar opportunity of knowing
him more fully was offered to English readers; for there are signs on
both bides of the Atlantic that the number of those interested in him
is steadily growing. The reason for this is undoubtedly the fact that,
as the whole work of Petrarch comes to be better known, interest in him
as a man increases. Mr. Sidney Lee has lately reminded us of his wide
range and predominating influence in the matter of the sonnet in France
and in Elizabethan England, as well as in his own country; and yet that
influence was very far indeed from revealing all that Petrarch was.
It was largely an influence of style, a triumph of the perfection of
form, and his imitators did not trouble much about the precise nature
of the sentiment and spirit informing the style. When this came to
be weighed in the balances of a later day, the tendency of English
feeling was to regard his sentiment as a trifle too serious and weak.
The love-making of the Cavaliers brought in a robuster tone. When once
the question was raised, "Why so pale and wan, fond lover?" there was
really no good answer to it on Petrarchan lines, and the consequence
was that his name and fame suffered something of eclipse among us. But
eclipses are transient events, and when literary England felt once more
the attraction of Italy in the end of the eighteenth century it was not
only Dante who began to resume his sway and to provoke translation, but
Petrarch also. Then attention was turned chiefly to his Italian poetry,
but also in some degree to the general body of his Latin works and to
his Letters, of which it is reported that Fox was among the first to
perceive the high value. In England the pioneers in this direction were
Mrs. Susannah Dobson, who published first a Life of Petrarch in two
volumes in 1775, which had by 1805 reached a sixth edition, and, soon
after, another volume called _Petrarch's View of Life_, purporting to
be a translation, but in fact a very loose and attenuated abstract
of the treatise _De remediis utriusque Fortunæ,_ which nevertheless
reached a new edition in 1797. Then came a volume of Essays on Petrarch
(Murray 1823) by the Italian exile Ugo Foscolo, and a little later a
second Life of the Poet by no less a person than Thomas Campbell, also
in two volumes.

Testifying to the re-awakened interest in Petrarch, numerous
translations also of his poetry were published by Lady Dacre, Hugh
Boyd, Leigh Hunt, Capel Lofft, and many others, who took up after a
long interval the tradition begun by Chaucer and handed on by Surrey,
Wyatt, Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser, Drummond of Hawthornden, and George

Then for a while there was a pause, and the main drift of such
attention in England as could be spared for things Italian in
mid-Victorian days was concentrated on the greater luminary of the
_Divine Comedy_ and the exciting political events of the sixties;
though some attention was drawn to things connected with Petrarch by
Lytton's novel of _Rienzi_, which was first published in 1835 and had a
considerable vogue.

Meanwhile in Italy itself his fame was well served by the excellent
collection and reprint of his Latin letters by Fracasetti in three
vols. (1859-63), and since that time there have appeared several
important works dealing with the larger aspects of his life and
work, most notable among them being Koerting's _Petrarka's Leben und
Werke_ (Leipsig 1878), and in France M. P. de Nolhac's _Pétrarque et
l'Humanisme_ (two vols., 1907, new edition), with other subsidiary
works, and four small volumes by M. Henri Cochin, elucidating what is
known of Petrarch's brother Gherardo and some of his many friends.
Amongst ourselves in late years, following the labours of J. A. Symonds
in his history of the Renaissance, we have Henry Reeve's small but
well-planned volume in the "Foreign Classics for English Readers," and,
more recently still, Mr. Hollway Calthrop's _Petrarch: his Life, Work
and Times_ (1907), and Mrs. Maud Jerrold's _Francesco Petrarca: Poet
and Humanist_ (1909).

It is significant that both the last writers single out the _Secretum_
for its psychological interest, the former stating that "to those who
feel the charm of Petrarch's nature and the intense humanity of his
character, these three Dialogues are the most fascinating of all his
writings"; and the latter "that this conflict of the dual self is of
quite peculiar interest."

Mrs. Jerrold indeed goes so far as to say that Petrarch "plunges into
the most scathing self-examination that any man ever made. Whether
the book was intended for the public we may well doubt, both from the
words of the preface and from the fact that it does not appear to have
been published till after the author's death. But however this may
be, it remains one of the world's great monuments of self-revelation
and ranks with the _Confessions of S. Augustine_"--a verdict which to
some critics will seem to have a touch of overstatement, though hardly
beyond the opinion of Petrarch's French students, and not altogether
unpardonable in so enthusiastic an admirer of her subject, and a
verdict which at least would not have been displeasing to Petrarch

Among the many points of human interest to be found in the Dialogues
not the least is the one connected with Accidie, a theme which has
of itself attracted special study in the present day, particularly
since attention was called to it by the late Bishop of Oxford in his
well-known introduction to the _Spirit of Discipline._ Observers of
mental life incline to the view that the form of depression denoted
by the mediæval word was not confined to those times or met with only
in monasteries, and it is curious that he who is sometimes called
the "first of the moderns" should take us into his confidence as to
his sufferings from this trouble, and exemplify the truth of the
observation to which reference has been made. M. P. de Nolhac, in his
interesting work entitled _Le Frère de Pétrarque,_ calls particular
attention to this trait in Petrarch's character, and in an appendix on
the subject writes, "Mais il faut surtout lire l'émouvante discussion
que Pétrarque, dans le second dialogue du _Secretum_, suppose entre
Saint Augustin et lui-meme, les aveux entrecoupés de sanglots qu'il
laisse échapper. Cette torture, dit-il, où il passe des jours et des
nuits, a pourtant en elle je ne sais quelle atroce volupté tellement
que parfois il en conte de s'y arracher" (p. 220). It is the remarking
on this note of self-will, this _voluptas dolendi,_ that M. de Nolhac
considers is Petrarch's special contribution to the subject and
furnishes a new point beyond what is in previous definitions.

The fundamental question raised by these Dialogues is the question
of what was the real nature and character of Petrarch, and wherein
lay the secret of his extraordinary charm and influence among his
contemporaries, and especially among contemporary men? It is difficult
to convey in few words how great an impression the study of his
Latin works makes in regard to this influence in his own lifetime.
Of course, a reader is soon aware of the trait of personal vanity in
Petrarch and of certain unconscious littlenesses, as in the matter of
his appreciation of Dante; but the strange thing is how little this
interfered with the regard and admiration extended to him by many
sorts and conditions of men. In the ordinary intercourse of life one
is apt to think such a trait fatal to anything like respect, and it
must always detract somewhat from the full stature of any mind, but in
the case of Petrarch it seems evident that he was one to whom much
was forgiven, and that the reason is to be found in the presence in
him of so rich an assemblage of other and better qualities that this
one hardly counted at all, or was looked on with kindly amusement by
friends large-hearted enough to think it nothing compared with what was
good and admirable in his mind. We may take it for granted that, as he
hints in his "Letter to Posterity," he started with the advantage of a
good presence and a sufficient care of his own person and appearance
in younger days; and it is evident that he had by nature a certain
engaging frankness and impulsiveness, which nevertheless were not
inconsistent with the contrasted qualities of gravity and dignity,
learned at first from his father and mother and their friends, and
cultivated by his study of the Law and afterwards by his attendance on
the Papal court at Avignon. One can discern this in his Letters and
see it reflected in those that were written to him or about him. But
beyond these introductory qualities, as they may be called, there were
other deeper traits, of rarer kind, that must be noted before one can
understand the position he attained and has held so long. Studying
his work from the cool distance of six centuries, one is inclined to
judge that the most fundamental quality of his nature was his love of
literature, and that every other trait took a subordinate place to

It is perhaps doubtful whether this or the life of personal affection,
or even of devotion in a monastery, would have gained the upper hand if
the circumstances of his life had been different in the matter of his
love for Laura; but taking into consideration that she was separated
from him apparently by temperament and circumstance, the one course
that remained open to him without let or hindrance was the life of
literature in the sense of devotion to the great writers of the Past
and the practice of the art of writing for himself. He loved this for
its own sake, and at the same time he was quickened by the sense of a
new learning, which, since his time and largely by the impetus he gave
it, has taken form and outline in a wonderful way, but was then only
like the first streak of dawn upon the sky.

Petrarch was not the first man to find a certain contradiction between
his desires and the possibilities of life around him, and to pass
many years under the pain of contrary attractions that could not all
be followed to fulfilment This conflict is what gives interest to the
_Secretum._ Some have thought, and the idea was expressed by one of his
correspondents, that his love for Laura was very much of a literary
pose. Yet that such a view is an insufficient account of it seems
pretty clearly established by the work here translated. It is, indeed,
plain that his feelings ran a course, and not a smooth one, and did
not continue in one stay; he came to see the whole matter in a changed
light, and yet not wholly changed; his relation was transfigured, not
abandoned, and after the death of Laura, which took place when he was
forty-four, it continued as a memory from which the pain had faded away
and only what was uplifting remained.

That which persisted unchanged all through his life and seems most to
have had the colour and substance of a passion was the love of Letters.
To this his friendship, his very real patriotism, and (must we not
add?) his religion also were in a sense second. But the mention of this
last factor in the life of Petrarch leads one to express the opinion
that this has not yet been quite sufficiently reckoned with. That it
should not have been thought worthy of such reckoning has probably
arisen from the one ugly fact in his life which he himself does not
conceal, and indeed expressly refers to in his "Letter to Posterity,"
in the following words:--

"As for the looser indulgences of appetite, would indeed I could
say I was a stranger to them altogether; but if I should so say, I
should lie. This I can safely affirm that, although I was hurried away
to them by the fervour of my age and temperament, their vileness I
have always inwardly execrated. As soon as I approached my fortieth
year I repelled these weaknesses entirely from _my_ thoughts and my
remembrance, as if I had never known them. And this I count among my
earliest happy recollections, thanking God, who has freed me, while
yet my powers were unimpaired and strong, from this so vile and always
hateful servitude."[1]

Now, although Petrarch did not, as some other men have done, including
his own brother, express his repentance by retiring to a monastery, yet
there is evidence enough that the change of will here referred to, and
professed in the _Secretum_, was real, and that the older he grew the
more he lifted up his heart. Among other signs of this there is the
curious little group of what he calls _Penitential Psalms,_ which were
translated into English by George Chapman, into whose translation of
Homer Keats looked and was inspired

In his Will also there are not a few passages through which one hears
a note of genuine penitence. Among other curious points in it is the
mention of the exact spot in which he would wish to be laid to rest
in some one of seven different places where he might happen to die,
the last being the city of Parma, of which he says, "At si Parmæ, in
ecclesiâ majori, ubi per multos annos archidiaconus fui inutilis et
semper fere absens."

Petrarch must have fully weighed in his own case the pros and cons
for such retirement. His treatise _De Otio Religiosorum_ shows that
he understood what good side that kind of life has, and his whole
attitude towards his brother--generous, and attached, almost to the
point of romance--reveals how he could admire it. But in his own case
he felt that it would cramp his faculties too much to be endurable, and
hinder more than it would help the kind of work to which he had put
his hand. There was also another influence that told strongly on this
father of Humanism. He whose nature was so full of unsatisfied natural
affection had begun in his latter years to find some rest and blessing
in the love and tendance of a daughter, the light of whose care and
companionship for him shines through his declining days like the rays
of the sun in the evening after a dark and troubled day.

But if we are right in judging that the love of Letters was the
dominant factor in the life of Petrarch, it was but the main thread in
a singularly complex nature. Not much less in substance and strength
was his genius for friendship. Indeed, his study of the writers of
past ages partook of the nature of friendship, just as his friendship
with living men had a deep literary tinge. He loved books and he loved
men, and he loved them in the same way. This is by no means a frequent
combination in the degree in which it was shown in Petrarch. More
often the book-lover becomes a recluse, and the lover of his fellow-men
loses his ardour for study.

But not even the love of books and of men took up all the activities
of this rich nature. He was also a keen traveller and among the first
to write of natural scenery in the modern spirit. He had that in him
which, in spite of his love for reading and writing, sent him forth
into other lands and made him eager to see men and cities. Yet the
love of the country in him prevailed over the love of cities. His many
references to his life at Vaucluse, though to readers of to-day they
may seem sometimes affected, yet show only a superficial affectation, a
mere mode, which does not seriously lessen the impression of his simple
taste and his genuine delight in his garden and his fishing, and his
talk with the charming old farmer-man and that sun-burnt wife for whom
he had such an unbounded respect.

In the two recent lives of Petrarch in English a reader may make closer
acquaintance with this side of his character, and will find much that
falls in with modern feeling as to simplicity of living and the joys of
escaping from "the man-stifled town." But what is still a desideratum
is a good English translation of his Letters to his friends, which will
add many glimpses of his daily interests and thoughts, and fill up the
picture of his interior life as it is disclosed to us in the Dialogues
here presented.

What the _Secretum gives_ us is the picture of Petrarch as he was
in the crisis of his middle years. It was written in or about the
year 1342 when he was thirty-eight, and in these Dialogues we find
him looking back over his youth and early life--the sap and vigour
of his mind as strong as ever, the recollection of many sensations
green and still powerful--but finding that the sheer march of time
and experience of manhood are forcing him now to see things with more
mature vision. Five years later he will be seen suddenly kindled into
surprising excitement in that strange Rienzi episode, but in one of
his letters to that unhappy politician there is a sentence which might
have been penned by Bishop Butler, and has in it the accent of grave
experience:[2] _"Ibunt res quâ sempiterna lex statuit: mutare ista non
possum, fugere possum"_ (Things will go as the law eternal has decided:
to alter their course is out of our power; what we can do is to get out
of their way).

The interest of the _Secretum_ is heightened by remembering the time
of life in which it was composed.[3] Some will find most pleasure in
reading what men have written _De Senectute_, and others prefer the
charm that belongs to youth; but is there not much to be said for the
interest of what men write from that high tableland that lies between
the two, in the full strength of their mind when they have lived long
enough to know what is hidden from the eyes of youth and not long
enough to be wearied and broken with the greatness of the way? Such is
the tone that seems to pervade the Dialogues between S. Augustine and
Petrarch. In the preface he looks forward to cherishing the little book
himself in future years, like some flower that keeps alive remembrance
of past days and yet is not cherished for memory only, but to guard the
resolution which has been taken to go forward and not back, and, as his
French translator suggests, "Is it to be wondered at that these pages,
written with such _abandon_, in which he has laid bare his whole soul,
should have been his own favourite work? It was the book he kept at his
bedside, his faithful counsellor and friend, and to which he turned
ever and again with pleasure in the hours of remembering the time past."

It is not necessary to tell over again the story of Petrarch's lifelong
devotion to the study of S. Augustine's _Confessions,_ or to dwell on
the obvious reasons for that devotion. Every man loves the book which
tells the history of conflicts like his own, and which has helped to
give him courage in his warfare and its sorrows and joys.

    "That loss is common would not make
    My own less bitter, rather more;"

sings the poet, but if one reads the experience of those who have
suffered and contended and conquered, and is sure that their load was
as heavy as his own, then there is a spirit which is breathed over
from one life to another, and which even though it tells us how great
is the burden of sorrow in the world, yet also tells us that a man
is not alone, but that there are companions in patience who a little
strengthen each other and give the sense of fellowship from age to age,
_donec aspiret dies et inclinentur umbrae._

Many of the letters of Petrarch's later years show how wistfully he
waited for that day. But they also show how gallant a heart he kept,
and how faithful to those friends that remained, including the one so
lovable and generous and true, Giovanni Boccaccio, who survived him
little more than a year.

Petrarch passed the end of his life in a modest house which he built in
one of the loveliest parts of Italy, that to English readers will be
for ever dear because of the haunting music that Shelley wove around
its name.

It was in the Euganæan Hills at Arqua where Petrarch chose to wait for
the dawn, and, till it came, to go on working among the books he loved
as his own soul.

    "Many a green isle needs must be
    In the deep wide sea of misery,"

and to read the story of his last years there is to think of one of
those green isles. These were days of calm, and the book of the Secret
ends with the expression of hope for a deeper calm still. In due time
it came, but, as the English Poet sang, after more than six centuries--

    The love from Petrarch's urn
    Yet amid yon hills doth burn,

[1] Translation by H. Reeve.

[2] _De rebus fam.,_ vii. 7.

[3] The profile portrait, reproduced by kind permission of Mr. T.
Fisher Unwin, publisher of Mr. E. J. Mills' book on Petrarch, is from
Lombardo's copy of the _De viris illustribus,_ finished about five
years after the death of Petrarch, and is believed to be an authentic
picture of him in later life.



[Illustration: S. AUGUSTINE GREETING A FRIEND _From a picture by
Benozzo Gozzoli at San Gimignano_]



Often have I wondered with much curiosity as to our coming into this
world and what will follow our departure. When I was ruminating lately
on this matter, not in any dream as one in sickness and slumber, but
wide awake and with all my wits about me, I was greatly astonished to
behold a very beautiful Lady, shining with an indescribable light about
her. She seemed as one whose beauty is not known, as it might be, to
mankind. I could not tell how she came there, but from her raiment and
appearance I judged her a fair Virgin, and her eyes, like the sun,
seemed to send forth rays of such light that they made me lower my own
before her, so that I was afraid to look up. When she saw this she
said, Fear not; and let not the strangeness of my presence affright you
in any wise. I saw your steps had gone astray; and I had compassion on
you and have come down from above to bring you timely succour. Hitherto
your eyes have been darkened and you have looked too much, yes, far
too much, upon the things of earth. If these so much delight you, what
shall be your rapture when you lift your gaze to things eternal!

When I heard her thus speak, though my fear still clung about me with
trembling voice I made reply in Virgil's words--

    "What name to call thee by, O Virgin fair,
    I know not, for thy looks are not of earth
    And more than mortal seems thy countenance."[1]

I am that Lady, she answered, whom you have depicted in your poem
_Africa_ with rare art and skill, and for whom, like another Amphion of
Thebes, you have with poetic hands built a fair and glorious Palace in
the far West on Atlas's lofty peak.

Be not afraid, then, to listen and to look upon the face of her who, as
your finely-wrought allegory proves, has been well-known to you from of

Scarcely had she uttered these words when, as I pondered all these
things in my mind, it occurred to me this could be none other than
Truth herself who thus spoke. I remembered how I had described her
abode on the heights of Atlas; yet was I ignorant from what region
she had come, save only that I felt assured she could have come from
none other place than Heaven. Therefore I turned my gaze towards her,
eagerly desiring to look upon her face; but lo, the eye of man is
unable to gaze on that ethereal Form, wherefore again was I forced
to turn them towards the ground. When she took note of this, after a
short silence, she spoke once more; and, questioning me many times, she
led me to engage with her in long discourse. From this converse I was
sensible of gaining a twofold benefit for I won knowledge, and the very
act of talking with her gave me confidence. I found myself by degrees
becoming able to look upon the face which at first dismayed me by its
splendour, and as soon as I was able to bear it without dread, and gaze
fixedly on her wondrous beauty, I looked to see if she were accompanied
with any other, or had come upon the retirement of my solitude alone;
and as I did so I discerned at her side the figure of an aged man, of
aspect venerable and full of majesty. There was no need to inquire his
name. His religious bearing, modest brow, his eyes full of dignity, his
measured step, his African look, but Roman speech, plainly declared
him to be that most illustrious Father, Augustine. Moreover, he had
so gracious a mien, and withal so noble, that one could not possibly
imagine it to belong to any other than to him. Even so I was on the
point of opening my lips to ask, when at that moment I heard the name
so dear to me uttered from the lips of Truth herself. Turning herself
to him, as if to intervene upon his deep meditation, she addressed
him in these words: "Augustine, dear to me above a thousand others,
you know how devoted to yourself this man is, and you are aware also
with how dangerous and long a malady he is stricken, and that he is so
much nearer to Death as he knows not the gravity of his disease. It is
needful, then, that one take thought for this man's life forthwith,
and who so fit to undertake the pious work as yourself? He has ever
been deeply attached to your name and person; and all good doctrine
is wont more easily to enter the mind of the disciple when he already
starts with loving the Master from whom he is to learn. Unless your
present happiness has made you quite forget your former sorrow, you
will remember that when you were shut in the prison of the mortal body
you also were subject to like temptation as his. And if that were so,
most excellent Physician of those passions yourself experienced, even
though your silent meditation be full of sweetness to your mind, I beg
that your sacred voice, which to me is ever a delight, shall break its
silence, and try whether you are able by some means to bring calm to
one so deeply distressed."

Augustine answered her: "You are my guide, my Counsellor, my Sovereign,
my Ruler; what is it, then, you would have me say in your presence?"

"I would," she replied, "that some human voice speak to the ears of
this mortal man. He will better bear to hear truth so. But seeing that
whatever you shall say to him he will take as said by me, I also will
be present in person during your discourse."

Augustine answered her, "The love I bear to this sick man, as well
as the authority of her who speaks, make it my duty to obey." Then,
looking kindly at me and pressing me to his heart in fatherly embrace,
he led me away to the most retired corner he could find, and Truth
herself went on a few steps in front. There we all three sat down.
Then while Truth listened as the silent Judge, none other beside her
being present, we held long converse on one side and the other; and
because of the greatness of the theme, the discourse between us lasted
over three days. Though we talked of many things much against the
manners of this age, and on faults and failings common to mankind, in
such wise that the reproaches of the Master seemed in a sense more
directed against men in general than against myself, yet those which
to me came closest home I have graven with more especial vividness on
the tablet of my memory. That this discourse, so intimate and deep,
might not be lost, I have sot it down in writing and made this book;
not that I wish to class it with my other works, or desire from it any
credit. My thoughts aim higher. What I desire is that I may be able
by reading to renew as often as I wish the pleasure I felt from the
discourse itself. So, little Book, I bid you flee the haunts of men and
be content to stay with me, true to the title I have given you of "My
Secret": and when I would think upon deep matters, all that you keep
in remembrance that was spoken in secret you in secret will tell to me
over again.

To avoid the too frequent iteration of the words "said I," "said he,"
and to bring the personages of the Dialogue, as it were, before one's
very eyes, I have acted on Cicero's method and merely placed the name
of each interlocutor before each paragraph.[2] My dear Master learned
this mode himself from Plato. But to cut short all further digression,
this is how Augustine opened the discourse.

[1] _Æneid,_ i. 327-28.

[2] _De Amicitiâ_, i.



_S. Augustine._ What have you to say, O man of little strength? Of what
are you dreaming? For what are you looking? Remember you not you are

_Petrarch._ Yes, I remember it right well, and a shudder comes upon me
every time that remembrance rises in my breast.

_S. Augustine._ May you, indeed, remember as you say, and take heed for
yourself. You will spare me much trouble by so doing. For there con
be no doubt that to recollect one's misery and to practise frequent
meditation on death is the surest aid in scorning the seductions of
this world, and in ordering the soul amid its storms and tempests, if
only such meditation be not superficial, but sink into the bones and
marrow of the heart. Yet am I greatly afraid lest that happen in your
case which I have seen in so many others, and you be found deceiving
your own self.

_Petrarch_. In what way do you mean? For I do not clearly understand
the drift of your remarks.

_S. Augustine._ O race of mortal men, this it is that above all makes
me astonished and fearful for you, when I behold you, of your own will
clinging to your miseries; pretending that you do not know the peril
hanging over your heads and if one bring it under your very eyes, you
try to thrust it from your sight and put it afar off.

_Petrarch._ In what way are we so mad?

_S. Augustine._ Do you suppose there is any living man so unreasonable
that if he found himself stricken with a dangerous ailment he would not
anxiously desire to regain the blessing of health?

_Petrarch._ I do not suppose such a case has ever been heard of.

_S. Augustine._ And do you think if one wished for a thing with all
one's soul one would be so idle and careless as not to use all possible
means to obtain what one desired?

_Petrarch._ No one, I think, would be so foolish.

_S. Augustine._ If we are agreed on these two points, so we ought also
to agree on a third.

_Petrarch._ What is this third point?

_S. Augustine._ It is this: that just as he who by deep meditation has
discovered he is miserable will ardently wish to be so no more; and as
he who has formed this wish will seek to have it realised, so he who
seeks will be able to reach what he wishes. It is clear that the third
step depends on the second as the second on the first. And therefore
the first should be, as it were, a root of salvation in man's heart.
Now you mortal men, and you yourself with all your power of mind, keep
doing your best by all the pleasures of the world to pull up this
saving root out of your hearts, which, as I said, fills me with horror
and wonder. With justice, therefore, you are punished by the loss of
this root of salvation and the consequent loss of all the rest.

_Petrarch_. I foresee this complaint you bring is likely to be
lengthy, and take many words to develop it. Would you mind, therefore,
postponing it to another occasion? And that I may travel more surely to
your conclusion, may we send a little more time over the premisses?

_S. Augustine_. I must concede something to, your slowness of mind; so
please stop me at any point where you wish.

_Petrarch_. Well, if I must speak for myself, I do not follow your
chain of reasoning.

_S. Augustine_. What possible obscurity is there in it? What are you in
doubt about now?

_Petrarch_. I believe there is a multitude of things for which we
ardently long, which we seek for with all our energy, but which
nevertheless, however diligent we are, we never have obtained and never

_S. Augustine_. That may be true of other desires, but in regard to
that we have now under discussion the case is wholly different.

_Petrarch._ What makes you say that?

_S. Augustine._ Because every man who desires to be delivered from his
misery, provided only he desires sincerely and with all his heart,
cannot fail to obtain that which he desires.

_Petrarch_. O father, what is this I hear? There are few men indeed who
do not feel they lack many things and who would not confess they were
so far unhappy. Every one who questions his own heart will acknowledge
it is so. By natural consequence if the fulness of blessing makes man
happy, all things he lacks will so far make him unhappy. This burden
of unhappiness all men would fain lay down, as every one is aware; but
every one is aware also that very few have been able. How many there
are who have felt the crushing weight of grief, through bodily disease,
or the loss of those they loved, or imprisonment, or exile, or hard
poverty, or other misfortunes it would take too long to tell over; and
yet they who suffer these things have only too often to lament that it
is not permitted them, as you suggest, to be set free. To me, then,
it seems quite beyond dispute that a multitude of men are unhappy by
compulsion and in spite of themselves.

_S. Augustine_. I must take you a long way back, and as one does with
the very young whose wits are slight and slow, I must ask you to
follow out the thread of my discourse from its very simplest elements.
I thought your mind was more advanced, and I had no idea you still
needed lessons so childish. Ah, if only you had kept in mind those true
and saving maxims of the wise which you have so often read and re-read
with me; if, I must take leave to say, you had but wrought for yourself
instead of others; if you had but applied your study of so many volumes
to the ruling of your own conduct, instead of to vanity and gaining the
empty praise of men, you would not want to retail such low and absurd

_Petrarch._ I know not where you want to take me, but already I am
aware of the blush mounting to my brow, and I feel like schoolboys in
presence of an angry master. Before they know what they are accused of
they think of many offences of which they are guilty, and at the very
first word from the master's lips they are filled with confusion. In
like case I too am conscious of my ignorance and of many other faults,
and though I perceive not the drift of your admonition, yet as I know
almost everything bad may be brought against me, I blush even before
you have done speaking. So pray state more clearly what is this biting
accusation that you have made.

_S. Augustine_. I shall have many things to lay to your charge
presently. Just now what makes me so indignant is to hear you suppose
that any one can become or can be unhappy against his will.

_Petrarch_. I might as well spare my blushes. For what more obvious
truth than this can possibly be imagined? What man exists so ignorant
or so far removed from all contact with the world as not to know that
penury, grief, disgrace, illness, death, and other evils too that are
reckoned among the greatest, often befall us in spite of ourselves,
and never with our own consent? From which it follows that it is easy
enough to know and to detest one's own misery, but not to remove it;
so that if the two first steps depend on ourselves, the third is
nevertheless in Fortune's hand.

_S. Augustine._ When I saw you ashamed I was ready to give you pardon,
but brazen impudence angers me more than error itself. How is it you
have forgotten all those wise precepts of Philosophy, which declare
that no man can be made unhappy by those things you rattle off by name?
Now if it is Virtue only that makes the happiness of man, which is
demonstrated by Cicero and a whole multitude of weighty reasons, it
follows of necessity that nothing is opposed to true happiness except
what is also opposed to Virtue. This truth you can yourself call to
mind even without a word from me, at least unless your wits are very

_Petrarch._ I remember it quite well. You would have me bear in mind
the precepts of the Stoics, which contradict the opinions of the crowd
and are nearer truth than common custom is.

_S. Augustine._ You would indeed be of all men the most miserable were
you to try to arrive at the truth through the absurdities of the crowd,
or to suppose that under the leadership of blind guides you would
reach the light. You must avoid the common beaten track and set your
aspirations higher; take the way marked by the steps of very few who
have gone before, if you would be counted worthy to hear the Poet's

    "On, brave lad, on! your courage leading you,
    So only Heaven is scaled."[1]

_Petrarch._ Heaven grant I may hear it ere I die! But I pray you to
proceed. For I assure you I have by no means become shameless. I do not
doubt the Stoics' rules are wiser far than the blunders of the crowd. I
await therefore your further counsel.

_S. Augustine_. Since we are agreed on this, that no one can become or
be unhappy except through his own fault, what need of more words is

_Petrarch._ Just this need, that I think I have seen very many people,
and I am one of them, to whom nothing is more distressful than the
inability to break the yoke of their faults, though all their life long
they make the greatest efforts so to do. Wherefore, even allowing that
the maxim of the Stoics holds good, one may yet admit that many people
are very unhappy in spite of themselves, yes, and although they lament
it and wish they were not, with their whole heart.

_S. Augustine_. We have wandered somewhat from our course, but we are
slowly working back to our starting-point. Or have you quite forgotten
whence we set out?

_Petrarch._ I had begun to lose sight of it, but it is coming back to
me now.

_S. Augustine._ What I had set out to do with you was to make clear
that the first step in avoiding the distresses of this mortal life and
raising the soul to higher things is to practise meditation on death
and on man's misery; and that the second is to have a vehement desire
and purpose to rise. When these two things were present, I promised a
comparatively easy ascent to the goal of our desire. Unless haply to
you it seems otherwise?

_Petrarch_. I should certainly never venture to affirm this, for from
my youth upwards I have had the increasing conviction that if in any
matter I was inclined to think differently from yourself I was certain
to be wrong.

_S. Augustine._ We will please waive all compliments. And as I observe
you are inclined to admit the truth of my words more out of deference
than conviction, pray feel at liberty to say whatever your real
judgment suggests.

_Petrarch._ I am still afraid to be found differing, but nevertheless
I will make use of the liberty you grant. Not to speak of other men, I
call to witness Her who has ever been the ruling spirit of my life; you
yourself also I call to witness how many times I have pondered over my
own misery and over the subject of Death; with what floods of tears I
have sought to wash away my stains, so that I can scarce speak of it
without weeping; yet hitherto, as you see, all is in vain. This alone
leads me to doubt the truth of that proposition you seek to establish,
that no man has ever fallen into misery but of his own free will, or
remained, miserable except of his own accord; the exact opposite of
which I have proved in my own sad experience.

_S. Augustine_. That complaint is an old one and seems likely to prove
unending. Though I have already several times stated the truth in
vain, I shall not cease to maintain it yet. No man can become or can
be unhappy unless he so chooses; but as I said at the beginning, there
is in men a certain perverse and dangerous inclination to deceive
themselves, which is the most deadly thing in life. For if it is true
that we rightly fear being taken in by those with whom we live, because
our natural habit of trusting them tends to make us unsuspicious, and
the pleasantly familiar sound of their voice is apt to put us off our
guard,--how much rather ought you to fear the deceptions you practise
on yourself, where love, influence, familiarity play so large a part,
a case wherein every one esteems himself more than he deserves, loves
himself more than he ought, and where Deceiver and Deceived are one and
the same person?

_Petrarch._ You have said this kind of thing pretty often to-day
already. But I do not recollect ever practising such deception on
myself; and I hope other people have not deceived me either.

_S. Augustine._ Now at this very moment you are notably deceiving
yourself when you boast never to have done such a thing at all; and I
have a good enough hope of your own wit and talent to make me think
that if you pay close attention you will see for yourself that no man
can fall into misery of his own will. For on this point our whole
discussion rests. I pray you to think well before answering, and
give your closest attention, and be jealous for truth more than for
disputation, but then tell me what man in the world was ever forced to
sin? For the Seers and Wise Men require that sin must be a voluntary
action, and so rigid is their definition that if this voluntariness is
absent then the sin also is not there. But without sin no man is made
unhappy, as you agreed to admit a few minutes ago.

_Petrarch._ I perceive that by degrees I am getting away from my
proposition and am being compelled to acknowledge that the beginning
of my misery did arise from my own will. I feel it is true in myself,
and I conjecture the same to be true of others. Now I beg you on your
part to acknowledge a certain truth also.

_S. Augustine._ What is it you wish me to acknowledge?

_Petrarch_. That as it is true no man ever fell involuntarily, so this
also is true that countless numbers of those who thus are voluntarily
fallen, nevertheless do not voluntarily remain so. I affirm this
confidently of my own self. And I believe that I have received this for
my punishment, as I would not stand when I might, so now I cannot rise
when I would.

_S. Augustine._ That is indeed a wise and true view to take. Still as
you now confess you were wrong in your first proposition, so I think
you should own you are wrong in your second.

_Petrarch._ Then you would say there is no distinction between falling
and remaining fallen?

_S. Augustine._ No, they are indeed different things; that is to say,
different in time, but in the nature of the action and in the mind of
the person concerned they are one and the same.

_Petrarch._ I see in what knots you entangle me. But the wrestler who
wins his victory by a trick is not necessarily the stronger man, though
he may be the more practised.

_S. Augustine._ It is Truth herself in whose presence we are
discoursing. To her, plain simplicity is ever dear, and cunning is
hateful. That you may see this beyond all doubt I will go forward from
this point with all the plainness you can desire.

_Petrarch._ You could give me no more welcome news. Tell me, then, as
it is a question concerning myself, by what line of reasoning you mean
to prove I am unhappy. I do not deny that I am; but I deny that it is
with my own consent I remain so. For, on the contrary, I feel this to
be most hateful and the very opposite of what I wish. But yet I can do
nothing except wish.

_S. Augustine._ If only the conditions laid down are observed, I will
prove to you that you are misusing words.

_Petrarch._ What conditions do you mean, and how would you have me use
words differently?

_S. Augustine._ Our conditions were to lay aside all juggling with
terms and to seek truth in all plain simplicity, and the words I would
have you use are these: instead of saying you _can_not, you ought to
say you _will_ not.

_Petrarch._ There will be no end then to our discussion, for that is
what I never shall confess. I tell you I know, and you yourself are
witness, how often I have wished to and yet could not rise. What floods
of tears have I shed, and all to no purpose?

_S. Augustine._ O yes, I have witnessed many tears, but very little

_Petrarch._ Heaven is witness (for indeed I think no man on this earth
knows) what I have suffered, and how I have longed earnestly to rise,
if only I might.

_S. Augustine_. Hush, hush. Heaven and earth will crash in ruin, the
stars themselves will fall to hell, and all harmonious Nature be
divided against itself, sooner than Truth, who is our Judge, can be

_Petrarch._ And what do you mean by that?

_S. Augustine_. I mean that your tears have often stung your conscience
but not changed your will.

_Petrarch._ I wonder how many times I must tell you that it is just
this impossibility of change which I bewail.

_S. Augustine._ And I wonder how many times I must reply that it is
want of will, not want of power, which is the trouble.

And yet I wonder not that now you find yourself involved in these
perplexities; in which in time past I too was tossed about, when I was
beginning to contemplate entering upon a new way of life.[2] I tore my
hair; I beat my brow; my fingers I twisted nervously; I bent double and
held my knees; I filled the air of heaven with most bitter sighs; I
poured out tears like water on every side: yet nevertheless I remained
what I was and no other, until a deep meditation at last showed me the
root of all my misery and made it plain before my eyes. And then my
will after that became fully changed, and my weakness also was changed
in that same moment to power, and by a marvellous and most blessed
alteration I was transformed instantly and made another man, another
Augustine altogether. The full history of that transformation is known,
if I mistake not, to you already in my _Confessions._

_Petrarch._ Yes, in truth I know it well, and never can I forget the
story of that health-bringing fig-tree, beneath whose shade the miracle
took place.[3]

_S. Augustine._ Well indeed may you remember it. And no tree to you
should be more dear: no, not the myrtle, nor the ivy, nor the laurel
beloved of Apollo and ever afterwards favoured by all the band of
Poets, favoured too by you, above all, who alone in your age have been
counted worthy to be crowned with its leaves; yet dearer than these
should be to you the memory of that fig-tree, for it greets you like
some mariner coming into haven after many storms; it holds out to you
the path of righteousness, and a sure hope which fadeth not away, that
presently the divine Forgiveness shall be yours.

_Petrarch_. I would not say one word in contradiction. Go on, I beseech
you, with what you have begun.

_S. Augustine._ This is what I undertook and will go on with, to prove
to you that so far you are like those many others of whom it may be
said in the words of Virgil--

    "Unchanged their mind while vainly flow their tears."[4]

Though I might multiply examples, yet I will rather content myself with
this alone, that we might almost reckon as belonging to ourselves, and
so all the more likely to come home.

_Petrarch_. How wisely you have made choice; for indeed it were
useless to add more, and no other could be so deeply graven in my
heart. Great as the gulf which parts us may be--I mean between you in
your safe haven and me in peril of shipwreck, you in felicity, me in
distress--still amid my winds and tempests I can recognise from time to
time the traces of, your own storm-tossed passions. So that as often
as I read the book of your _Confessions_, and am made partaker of your
conflict between two contrary emotions, between hope and fear, (and
weep as I read), I seem to be hearing the story of my own self, the
story not of another's wandering, but of my own. Therefore, since now I
have put away every inclination to mere dispute, go on, I beg, as you
desire. For all my heart wishes now is not to hinder but only to follow
where you lead.

_S. Augustine_. I make no such demand on you as that. For though a
certain very wise man[5] has laid it down that "Through overmuch
contention truth is lost," yet often it happens that a well-ordered
discussion leads to truth. It is not then expedient to accept
everything advanced, which is the token of a slack and sleepy mind, any
more than it is expedient to set oneself to oppose a plain and open
truth, which indicates only the mind of one who likes fighting for
fighting's sake.

_Petrarch_. I understand and agree with you and will act on your
advice. Now, pray go on.

_S. Augustine_. You admit, therefore, that the argument is just and the
chain of reasoning valid, when we say that a perfect knowledge of one's
misery will beget a perfect desire to be rid of it, if only the power
to be rid may follow the desire.

_Petrarch_. I have professed that I will believe you in everything.

_S. Augustine._ I feel there is still something you would like to urge,
even now. Do, please, confess it, no matter what it may be.

_Petrarch._ Nothing, only that I am much amazed I to think I should
never yet have wished what I have believed I always wished.

_S. Augustine._ You still stick at that point. O well, to put an end to
this kind of talk I will agree that you have wished sometimes.

_Petrarch._ What then?

_S. Augustine._ Do you not remember the phrase of Ovid--

    "To wish for what you want is not enough;
    With ardent longing you must strive for it."[6]

_Petrarch._ I understand, but thought that was just what I had been

_S. Augustine._ You were mistaken.

_Petrarch._ Well, I will believe so.

_S. Augustine._ To make your belief certain, examine your own
conscience. Conscience is the best judge of virtue. It is a guide, true
and unerring, that weighs every thought and deed. It will tell you that
you have never longed for spiritual health as you ought, but that,
considering what great dangers beset you, your wishes were but feeble
and ineffective.

_Petrarch._ I have been examining my conscience, as you suggested.

_S. Augustine._ What do you find?

_Petrarch._ That what you say is true.

_S. Augustine._ We have made a little progress, if you are beginning to
be awake. It will soon be better with you now you acknowledge it was
not well hitherto.

_Petrarch._ If it is enough to acknowledge, I hope to be able to be
not only well but quite well, for never have I understood more clearly
that my wishes for liberty and for an end to my misery have been too
lukewarm. But can it be enough to desire only?

_S. Augustine._ Why do you ask?

_Petrarch._ I mean, to desire without doing anything.

_S. Augustine._ What you propose is an impossibility. No one desires
ardently and goes to sleep.

_Petrarch._ Of what use is desire, then?

_S. Augustine._ Doubtless the path leads through many difficulties, but
the desire of virtue is itself a great part of virtue.

_Petrarch._ There you give me ground for good hope.

_S. Augustine._ All my discourse is just to teach you how to hope and
to fear.

_Petrarch._ Why to fear?

_S. Augustine._ Then tell me why to hope?

_Petrarch._ Because whereas so far I have striven, and with much
tribulation, merely not to become worse, you now open a way to me
whereby I may become better and better, even to perfection.

_S. Augustine._ But maybe you do not think how toilsome that way is.

_Petrarch._ Have you some now terror in store for me?

_S. Augustine._ To desire is but one word, but how many things go to
make it up!

_Petrarch._ Your words make me tremble.

_S. Augustine._ Not to mention the positive elements in desire, it
involves the destruction of many other objects.

_Petrarch._ I do not quite take in your meaning.

_S. Augustine._ The desire of all good cannot exist without thrusting
out every lower wish. You know how many different objects one longs for
in life. All these you must first learn to count as nothing before you
can rise to the desire for the chief good; which a man loves less when
along with it he loves something else that does not minister to it.

_Petrarch_. I recognise the thought.

_S. Augustine_. How many men are there who have extinguished all their
passions, or, not to speak of extinguishing, tell me how many are there
who have subdued their spirit to the control of Reason, and will dare
to say, "I have no more in common with my body; all that once seemed
so pleasing to me is become poor in my sight. I aspire now to joys of
nobler nature"?

_Petrarch_. Such men are rare indeed. And now I understand what those
difficulties are with which you threatened me.

_S. Augustine_. When all these passions are extinguished, then, and not
till then, will desire be full and free. For when the soul is uplifted
on one side to heaven by its own nobility, and on the other dragged
down to earth by the weight of the flesh and the seductions of the
world, so that it both desires to rise and also to sink at one and the
same time, then, drawn contrary ways, you find you arrive nowhither.

_Petrarch._ What, then, would you say a man must do for his soul to
break the fetters of the world, and mount up perfect and entire to the
realms above?

_S. Augustine._ What leads to this goal is, as I said in the first
instance, the practice of meditation on death and the perpetual
recollection of our mortal nature.

_Petrarch._ Unless I am deceived, there is no man alive who is more
often revolving this thought in his heart than I.

_S. Augustine._ Ah, here is another delusion, a fresh obstacle in your

_Petrarch._ What! Do you mean to say I am once more lying?

_Augustine._ I would sooner hear you use more civil language.

_Petrarch._ But to say the same thing?

_S. Augustine._ Yes, to say nothing else.

_Petrarch._ So then you mean I care nothing at all about death?

_S. Augustine._ To tell the truth you think very seldom of it, and
in so feeble a way that your thought never touches the root of your

_Petrarch._ I supposed just the opposite.

_S. Augustine._ I am not concerned with what you suppose, but with what
you ought to suppose.

_Petrarch._ Well, I may tell you that in spite of that I will suppose
it no more, if you prove to me that my supposition was a false one.

_S. Augustine._ That I will do easily enough, provided you are willing
to admit the truth in good faith. For this end I will call in a
witness who is not far away.

_Petrarch_. And who may that be, pray?

_S. Augustine._ Your conscience.

_Petrarch_. She testifies just the contrary.

_S. Augustine._ When you make an obscure, confused demand no witness
can give precise or clear answers.

_Petrarch._ What has that to do with the subject, I would like to know?

_S. Augustine._ Much, every way. To see dearly, listen well. No man is
so senseless (unless he be altogether out of his mind) as never once
to remember his own weak nature, or who, if asked the question whether
he were mortal and dwelt in a frail body, would not answer that he
was. The pains of the body, the onsets of fever, attest the fact; and
whom has the favour of Heaven made exempt? Moreover, your friends are
carried out to their burial before your eyes; and this fills the soul
with dread. When one goes to the graveside of some friend of one's own
age one is forced to tremble at another's fall and to begin feeling
uneasy for oneself; just as when you see your neighbour's roof on fire,
you cannot fool quite happy for your own, because, as Horace puts it--

    "On your own head you see the stroke will fall."[7]

The impression will be more strong in case you see some sudden death
carry off one younger, more vigorous, finer looking than yourself. In
such an event a man will say, "This one seemed to live secure, and yet
he is snatched off. His youth, his beauty, his strength have brought
him no help. What God or what magician has promised me any surer
warrant of security? Verily, I too am mortal."

When the like fate befalls kings and rulers of the earth, people of
great might and such as are regarded with awe, those who see it are
struck with more dread, are more shaken with alarm; they are amazed
when they behold a sudden terror, or perchance hours of intense agony
seize on one who was wont to strike terror into others. From what
other cause proceed the doings of people who seem beside themselves
upon the death of men in highest place, such as, to take an instance
from history, the many things of this kind that, as you have related,
were done at the funeral of Julius Cæsar? A public spectacle like this
strikes the attention and touches the heart of mortal men; and what
then they see in the case of another is brought home as pertaining
also to themselves. Beside all these, are there not the rage of savage
boasts, and of men, and the furious madness of war? Are there not
the falls of those great buildings which, as some one neatly says,
are first the safeguards, then the sepulchres of men? Are there not
malignant motions of the air beneath some evil star and pestilential
sky? And so many perils on sea and land that, look wheresoever you
will, you cannot turn your gaze anywhither but you will meet the
visible image and memento of your own mortality.

_Petrarch_. I beg your pardon, but I cannot wait any longer, for, as
for having my reason fortified, I do not think any more powerful aid
can be brought than the many arguments you have adduced. As I listened
I wondered what end you were aiming at, and when your discourse would

_S. Augustine._ As a matter of fact, you have interrupted me, and it
has not yet reached its end. However, here is the conclusion--although
a host of little pin-pricks play upon the surface of your mind, nothing
yet has penetrated the centre. The miserable heart is hardened by long
habit, and becomes like some indurated stone; impervious to warnings,
however salutary, you will find few people considering with any
seriousness the fact that they will die.

_Petrarch_. Then few people are aware of the very definition of man,
which nevertheless is so hackneyed in the schools, that it ought not
merely to weary the ears of those who hear it, but is now long since
scrawled upon the walls and pillars of every room. This prattling of
the Dialecticians will never come to an end; it throws up summaries and
definitions like bubbles, matter indeed for endless controversies, but
for the most part they know nothing of the real truth of the things
they talk about. So, if you ask one of this set of men for a definition
of a man or of anything else, they have their answer quite pat, as the
saying goes; if you press him further, he will lie low, or if by sheer
practice in arguing he has acquired a certain boldness and power of
speech, the very tone of the man will tell you he possesses no real
knowledge of the thing he sets out to define. The best way of dealing
with this brood, with their studied air of carelessness and empty
curiosity, is to launch at their head some such invective as this,
"You wretched creatures, why this everlasting labour for nothing; this
expense of wit on silly subtleties? Why in total oblivion of the real
basis of things will you grow old simply conversant with words, and
with whitening hair and wrinkled brow, spend all your time in babyish
babble? Heaven grant that your foolishness hurt no one but yourselves,
and do as little harm as possible to the excellent minds and capacities
of the young."

_S. Augustine._ I agree that nothing half severe enough can be said of
this monstrous perversion of learning. But let me remind you that your
zeal of denunciation has so carried you away that you have omitted to
finish your definition of man.

_Petrarch_. I thought I had explained sufficiently, but I will be more
explicit still. Man is an animal, or rather the chief of all animals.
The veriest rustic knows that much. Every schoolboy could tell you
also, if you asked him, that man is, moreover, a rational animal
and that he is mortal. This definition, then, is a matter of common

_S. Augustine._ No, it is not. Those who are acquainted with it are
very few in number.

_Petrarch._ How so?

_S. Augustine._ When you can find a man so governed by Reason that
all his conduct is regulated by her, all his appetites subject to
her alone, a man who has so mastered every motion of his spirit by
Reason's curb that he knows it is she alone who distinguishes him from
the savagery of the brute, and that it is only by submission to her
guidance that he deserves the name of man at all; when you have found
one so convinced of his own mortality as to have that always before his
eyes, always to be ruling himself by it, and holding perishable things
in such light esteem that he ever sighs after that life, which Reason
always foresaw, wherein mortality shall be cast away; when you have
found such a man, then you may say that he has some true and fruitful
idea of what the definition of man is. This definition, of which we
were speaking, I said it was given to few men to know, and to reflect
upon as the nature of the truth requires.

_Petrarch._ Hitherto I had believed I was of that number.

_S. Augustine_. I have no doubt that when you turn over in your mind
the many things you have learned, whether in the school of experience
or in your reading of books, the thought of death has several times
entered your head. But still it has not sunk down into your heart as
deeply as it ought, nor is it lodged there as firmly as it should be.

_Petrarch_. What do you call sinking down into my heart? Though I think
I understand, I would like you to explain more clearly.

_S. Augustine._ This is what I mean. Every one knows, and the greatest
philosophers are of the same opinion, that of all tremendous realities
Death is the most tremendous. So true is this, that from ever of old
its very name is terrible and dreadful to hear. Yet though so it
is, it will not do that we hear that name but lightly, or allow the
remembrance of it to slip quickly from our mind. No, we must take time
to realise it. We must meditate with attention thereon. We must picture
to ourselves the effect of death on each several part of our bodily
frame, the cold extremities, the breast in the sweat of fever, the side
throbbing with pain, the vital spirits running slower and slower as
death draws near, the eyes sunken and weeping, every look filled with
tears, the forehead pale and drawn, the cheeks hanging and hollow,
the teeth staring and discoloured, the nostrils shrunk and sharpened,
the lips foaming, the tongue foul and motionless, the palate parched
and dry, the languid head and panting breast, the hoarse murmur and
sorrowful sigh, the evil smell of the whole body, the horror of seeing
the face utterly unlike itself--all these things will come to mind and,
so to speak, be ready to one's hand, if one recalls what one has seen
in any close observation of some deathbed where it has fallen to our
lot to attend. For things seen cling closer to our remembrance than
things heard.

And, moreover, it is not without a profound instinct of wisdom that
in certain Religious Orders, of the stricter kind, the custom has
survived, even down to our own time (though I do not think it makes
for good character altogether), of allowing the members to watch the
bodies of the dead being washed and put in shrouds for their burial;
while the stern professors of the Rule stand by, in order that this sad
and pitiful spectacle, thrust forsooth beneath their very eyes, may
admonish their remembrance continually, and affright the minds of those
who survive from every hope of this transitory world.

This, then, is what I meant by sinking down deeply into the soul.
Perchance you never name the name of Death, that so you may fall in
with the custom of the time, although nothing is more certain than the
fact or more uncertain than the hour. Yet in daily converse you must
often speak of things connected with it, only they soon fly out of mind
and leave no trace.

_Petrarch._ I follow your counsel the more readily because now I
recognise much in your words that I have myself revolved in my own
breast. But please, if you think it well, will you impress some mark
on my memory which will act as a warning to me and prevent me from
this time henceforth from telling lies to myself and fondling my own
mistakes. For this, it seems to me, is what turns men from the right
way, that they dream they have already reached the goal, and make
therefore no effort any more.

_S. Augustine._ I like to hear you speak so. Your words are those of
a man alert and watchful, who will not bear to be idle and trust to
chance. So here is a test which will never play you false: every time
you meditate on death without the least sign of motion, know that you
have meditated in vain, as about any ordinary topic. But if in the act
of meditation you find yourself suddenly grow stiff, if you tremble,
turn pale, and feel as if already you endured its pains; if at the same
time you seem to yourself as if you were leaving your body behind,
and were forced to render up your account before the bar of eternal
judgment, of all the words and deeds of your past life, nothing omitted
or passed over; that nothing any more is to be hoped for from good
looks or worldly position, nothing from eloquence, or riches, or power:
if you realise that this Judge takes no bribe and that all things are
naked and open in His sight; that death itself will not turn aside for
any plea; that it is not the end of sufferings, but only a passage: if
you picture to yourself a thousand forms of punishment and pain, the
noise and wailing of Hell, the sulphurous rivers, the thick darkness,
and avenging Furies,--in a word, the fierce malignity everywhere of
that dark abode; and, what is the climax of its horror, that the misery
knows no end, and despair thereof itself is everlasting, since the
time of God's mercy is passed by; if, I say, all these things rise up
before your eyes at once, not as fictions but as truth, not as being
possible, but inevitable, and of a surety bound to come, yes, and even
now at the door; and if you think on these things, not lightly, nor
with desperation, but full of hope in God, and that His strong right
hand is able and ready to pluck you out of so great calamities; if you
but show yourself willing to be healed and wishful to be raised up; if
you cleave to your purpose and persist in your endeavour, then you may
be assured you have not meditated in vain.

_Petrarch_. I will not deny you have terrified me greatly by putting
so huge a mass of suffering before my eyes. But may God give me such
plenteous mercy as that I may steep my thought in meditations like
these; not only day by day, but more especially at night, when the
mind, with all its daily interests laid aside, relaxes and is wont to
return upon itself. When I lay my body down, as those who die, and
my shrinking mind imagines the hour itself with all its horrors is
at hand: so intently do I conceive it all, as though I were in the
very agony of dying, that I shall seem to be already in the place of
torment, beholding what you speak of and every kind of anguish. And
so stricken shall I be at that sight, so terrified and affrighted,
that I shall rise up (I know it) before my horrified household and cry
aloud, "What am I doing? What suffering is this? For what miserable
destruction is Fate keeping me alive? Jesu, by Thy mercy,

    "Thou whom none yet hath conquered, succour me,"[8]

    "Give Thy right hand to me in misery
    Through the dark waves, O bear me up with Thee,
    That dying I may rest and be in peace."[9]

Many other things shall I say to myself, as one in a fever whose mind
every chance impression carries hither and thither in his fear; and
then I go talking strangely to my friends, weeping and making them
weep, and then presently after this we shall return to what we were
before. And since these things are so, what is it, I ask, which holds
me back? What little hidden obstacle is there which makes it come to
pass that hitherto all these meditations avail nothing but to bring
me troubles and terrors: and I continue the same man that I have ever
been; the same, it may be, as men to whom no reflections like these
have ever come? Yet am I more miserable than they, for they, whatever
may be their latter end, enjoy at least the pleasures of the present
time; but as for me, I know not either what my end will be, and I taste
no pleasure that is not poisoned with these embittering thoughts.

_S. Augustine._ Vex not yourself, I pray you, when you ought rather
to rejoice. The more the sinner feels pleasure in his sin, the more
unhappy should we think him and the more in need of pity.

_Petrarch._ I suppose you mean that a man whose pleasures are
uninterrupted comes to forget himself, and is never led back into
virtue's path; but that he who amid his carnal delights is sometime
visited with adversity will come to the recollection of his true
condition just in proportion as he finds fickle and wayward Pleasure
desert him.

If both kind of life had one and the same end, I do not see why he
should not be counted the happier who enjoys the present time and puts
off affliction to another day, rather than the man who neither enjoys
the present nor looks for any joy hereafter; unless you are perhaps
moved by this consideration that in the end the laughter of the former
will be changed to more bitter tears?

_S. Augustine._ Yes, much more bitter. For I have often noticed that
if a man throws away the rein of reason altogether (and in the most
excessive pleasure of all this is commonly the case), his fall is more
dangerous than that of the man who may come rushing down from the same
height, but keeps still some hold, though feebly, on the reins. But
before all else I attach importance to what you said before, that in
the case of the one there is some hope of his conversion, but in that
of the other nothing remains but despair.

_Petrarch._ Yes, that is my view also; in the meanwhile, however, have
you not forgotten my first question?

_S. Augustine._ What was it?

_Petrarch_. Concerning what keeps me back. I asked you why I am the
only one to whom the profound meditation on Death, that you said was so
full of benefit, brings no good whatever.

_S. Augustine._ In the first place it is perhaps because you look on
death as something remote, whereas when one thinks how very short life
is and how many divers kinds of accidents befall it, you ought not to
think death is far away. "What deludes almost all of us," as Cicero
says, "is that we regard death from afar off." Some correctors--I would
prefer to call them corruptors--of the text have wished to change the
reading by inserting a negative before the verb, and have maintained
that he ought to have said, "We do NOT regard death from afar off." For
the rest, there is no one in his senses who does not see death one way
or another, and in reality Cicero's word _prospicere_ means to see from
afar. The one thing that makes so many people suffer illusion in their
ideas on death is that they are wont to forecast for their own life
some limit, which is indeed possible according to nature, but at which,
nevertheless, very few arrive. Hardly any one, in fact, dies of whom
the poet's line might not be quoted--

    "Grey hairs and length of years he for himself

The fault may touch you nearly, for your age, your vigorous
constitution and temperate way of life perchance have fostered a like
hope in your heart.

_Petrarch._ Please do not suspect that of me. God keep me from such

    "As in that monster false to put my trust!"[11]

If I may borrow the words Virgil puts in the mouth of his famous pilot
Palinurus. For I too am cast upon a wide ocean, cruel and full of
storms. I sail across its angry waves and struggle with the wind; and
the little boat I steer shivers and seems to be letting in the water
in every part. I know well she cannot hold out for long, and I see I
have no hope at all of safety unless the Almighty Pity put forth His
strong right hand and guide my vessel rightly ere it be too late, and
bring me to shore--

    "So that I who have lived upon the waters may die
    in port."[12]

Of this I think I should have a good hope, because it has never been
my lot to put any confidence in those riches and power on which I see
so many of my contemporaries, yes, and older men as well, relying. For
what folly would it be to pass all one's life in toil and poverty and
care, heaping up riches, just to die at last and have no time to enjoy
them? So, then, in truth, I regard this dark shadow of death, not as
something afar off, but very nigh and ever at the doors. And I have not
forgotten a certain little verse I wrote in my youth at the end of a
letter to a friend--

    "E'en while we speak, along a thousand ways
    With stealthy steps up to our very door
    Death creeps."

If I could say words like these at that time of life, what shall I
say now that I am more advanced in age and more experienced in what
life is? For everything I see or hear or feel or think seems, unless I
deceive myself, connected in my mind with that last end. And yet the
question still remains, what is it that holds me back?

_S. Augustine._ Give humble thanks to God who so regards you and guides
you with his merciful rein, and so pricks you with his spur. It is not
surely possible, that he who thus has the thought of death before him
day by day should ever be doomed to death eternal.

But since you feel, and rightly so, that something still is wanting, I
will try and unfold to you what it is, and, if God so please, remove it
also; to the end that you may arise and with free, uplifted mind shake
off that old bondage that so long has kept you down.

_Petrarch_. O would that indeed you may prove able so to help me, and I
on my part be capable of receiving such a boon!

_S. Augustine._ It shall be yours if you wish. The thing is not
impossible. But in the nature of man's actions two things are required,
and if either be wanting, the action will come to nought. There must be
will, and that will must be so strong and earnest that it can deserve
the name of purpose.

_Petrarch._ So let it be.

_S. Augustine_. Do you know what stands in the way of your purpose of

_Petrarch._ That is what I want to know; what for so long I have
earnestly desired to understand.

_S. Augustine_. Then listen. It was from Heaven your soul came forth:
never will I assert a lower origin than that. But in its contact with
the flesh, wherein it is imprisoned, it has lost much of its first
splendour. Have no doubt of this in your mind. And not only is it so,
but by reason of the length of time it has in a manner fallen asleep;
and, if one may so express it, forgotten its own beginning and its
heavenly Creator.

And these passions that are born in the soul through its connection
with the body, and that forgetfulness of its nobler nature, seem to me
to have been touched by Virgil with pen almost inspired when he writes--

    "The souls of men still shine with heavenly fire,
    That tells from whence they come, save that the flesh
    And limbs of earth breed dullness, hence spring fears,
    Desire, and grief and pleasures of the world,
    And so, in darkness prisoned, they no more
    Look upward to heaven's face."[13]

Do you not in the poet's words discern that monster with four heads so
deadly to the nature of man?

_Petrarch_. I discern very clearly the fourfold passion of our nature,
which, first of all, we divide in two as it has respect to past and
future, and then subdivide again in respect of good and evil. And so,
by these four winds distraught, the rest and quietness of man's soul is
perished and gone.

_S. Augustine._ You discern rightly, and the words of the Apostle are
fulfilled in us, which say, "The corruptible body presseth down the
soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth
upon many things."[14] Of a truth the countless forms and images of
things visible, that one by one are brought into the soul by the senses
of the body, gather there in the inner centre in a mass, and the soul,
not being akin to these or capable of learning them, they weigh it
down and overwhelm it with their contrariety. Hence that plague of too
many impressions tears apart and wounds the thinking faculty of the
soul, and with its fatal, distracting complexity bars the way of clear
meditation, whereby it would mount up to the threshold of the One Chief

_Petrarch_. You have spoken admirably of that plague in many places,
and especially in your book on _True Religion_ (with which it is,
indeed, quite incompatible). It was but the other day that I lighted
on that work of yours in one of my digressions from the study of
philosophy and poetry, and it was with very great eagerness that I
began to peruse it. Indeed, I was like a man setting out from his own
country to see the world, and coming to the gate of some famous city
quite new to him, where, charmed by the novelty of all around, he stops
now here, now there, and looks intently on all that meets his gaze.

_S. Augustine._ And yet in that book, allowing for a difference of
phraseology such as becomes a teacher of catholic truth, you will
find a large part of its doctrine is drawn from philosophers, more
especially from those of the Platonist and Socratic school. And, to
keep nothing from you, I may say that what especially moved me to
undertake that work was a word of your favourite Cicero. God blessed
that work of mine so that from a few seeds there came an abundant
harvest. But let us come back to the matter in hand.

_Petrarch._ As you wish; but, O best of Fathers, do not hide from me
what that word was which gave you the starting-point of so excellent a

_S. Augustine._ It was the passage where in a certain book Cicero
says, by way of expressing his detestation of the errors of his time:
"They could look at nothing with their mind, but judged everything by
the sight of their eyes; yet a man of any greatness of understanding
is known by his detaching his thought from objects of sense, and his
meditations from the ordinary track in which others move."[15] This,
then, I took as my foundation, and built upon it the work which you say
has given you pleasure.

_Petrarch._ I remember the place; it is in the _Tusculan Orations._
I have been delighted to notice what a habit it is of yours to quote
those words here and elsewhere in your works; and they deserve it, for
they are words that seem to blend in one phrase truth and dignity and
grace. Now, since it seems good to you, pray return to our subject.

_S. Augustine._ This, then, is that plague that has hurt you, this
is what will quickly drive you to destruction, unless you take
care. Overwhelmed with too many divers impressions made on it, and
everlastingly fighting with its own cares, your weak spirit is crushed
so that it has not strength to judge what it should first attack
or to discern what to cherish, what to destroy, what to repel; all
its strength and what time the niggard hand of Fate allows are not
sufficient for so many demands. So it suffers that same evil which
befalls those who sow too many seeds in one small space of ground.

As they spring up they choke each other. So in your overcrowded
mind what there is sown can make no root and bear no fruit. With
no considered plan, you are tossed now here now there in strange
fluctuation, and can never put your whole strength to anything. Hence
it happens that whenever the generous mind approaches (if it is
allowed) the contemplation of death, or some other meditation that
might help it in the path of life, and penetrates by its own acumen to
the depths of its own nature, it is unable to stand there, and, driven
by hosts of various cares, it starts back. And then the work, that
promised so well and seemed so good, flags and grows unsteady; and
there comes to pass that inward discord of which we have said so much,
and that worrying torment of a mind angry with itself; when it loathes
its own defilements, yet cleanses them not away; sees the crooked
paths, yet does not forsake them; dreads the impending danger, yet
stirs not a step to avoid it.

_Petrarch._ Ah, woe is me! Now you have probed my wound to the quick.
There is the seat of my pain, from there I fear my death will come.

_S. Augustine._ It is well. You are awakening to life. But as we have
now prolonged our discussion enough for to-day, let us, if you will,
defer the rest until to-morrow, and let us take a breathing space in

_Petrarch._ Yes, I am tired somewhat, and most gladly shall I welcome
quiet and rest.

[1] _Æneid,_ ix. 641.

[2] _S. Augustine Confessions_, viii. 8.

[3] _S. Augustine Confessions,_ viii. 12.

[4] _Æneid_, iv. 449.

[5] Publius Cyrus.

[6] Ovid, _Pontic._, III i. 35.

[7] Horace, _Epist.,_ I. 18, 83.

[8] _Æneid,_ vi 365.

[9] _Ibid.,_ vi 370.

[10] _Æneid,_ x. 649.

[11] _Ibid.,_ v. 849.

[12] Seneca, _Letters,_ xix.

[13] _Æneid,_ vi. 730-34.

[14] Book of wisdom, ix. 15

[15] _Tusculan Orations,_ i. 16.



_S. Augustine_. Well, have we rested long enough?

_Petrarch._ Certainly, if it so please you.

_S. Augustine._ Let me hear if you feel now in good heart and
confidence. For when a man has been ill, a hopeful spirit in him is no
small sign of returning health.

_Petrarch._ What hope I have is no whit in myself: God is my hope.

_S. Augustine._ It is wisely spoken. And now I return to our theme.
Many things are against you, many temptations assail, but you yourself
still seem ignorant both of their numbers and their strength. And what
in warfare generally happens to one who, from a distance, sees some
closely marshalled battalion, has happened to you. Such a man is often
deceived into thinking his foes fewer in number than they are. But when
they draw nearer, when they have deployed their serried ranks before
his eyes in all their martial pomp, then his fears soon increase, and
he repents him of his boldness. So likewise will it be with you when I
shall display before your eyes, on this side and on that, all the evils
that are pressing upon you and hemming you in from every quarter. You
will be ashamed of your own boldness, you will be sorry you were so
light-hearted, and begin to bewail that in its sore straits your soul
has been unable to break through the wedged phalanx of your foes. You
will discover presently how many foolish fancies of too easy victory
you have let come into your mind, excluding that wholesome dread to
which I am endeavouring to bring you.

_Petrarch_. Indeed, you make me horribly afraid. That my danger was
great I have always been aware; and now, in spite of this, you tell me
I have very much under-estimated it, and indeed that, compared with
what they should be, my fears have been nothing at all. What hope have
I then left?

_S. Augustine_. It is never time to despair. Be sure of that. Despair
is the very last and worst of evils, and therefore I would have you
make it a first principle to put it away wholly.

_Petrarch_. I knew the truth of the maxim, but in my dread forgot it at
the moment.

_S. Augustine_. Now give me all your attention, look and listen while I
recall words of your favourite seer.

    "Behold what foemen gather round your walls
    And at your gates make sharp their gleaming sword
    To murder you and yours."[1]

Look what snares the world spreads for you; what vanities it dangles
before your eyes; what vain cares it has to weigh you down. To begin
at the beginning, consider what made those most noble spirits among
all creatures fall into the abyss of ruin; and take heed lest in like
manner you also fall after them. All your forethought, all your care
will be needed to save you from this danger. Think how many temptations
urge your mind to perilous and soaring flights. They make you dream
of nobleness and forget your frailty; they choke your faculties with
fumes of self-esteem, until you think of nothing else; they lead you
to wax so proud and confident in your own strength that at length you
hate your Creator. So you live for self-pleasing and imagine that great
things are what you deserve. Whereas if you had a truer remembrance,
great blessings ought to make you not proud but humble, when you
realise that they came to you for no merit of your own. What need for
me to speak of the Eternal Lord God when even to earthly lords men
feel their minds more humbly bound if they experience any bounty of
theirs which they are conscious of being undeserved. Do we not see them
striving to merit afterwards what they feel they should have earned

Now let your mind realise, as it easily can, on what paltry grounds
your pride is set up. You trust in your intellect; you boast of what
eloquence much reading has given you; you take pleasure in the beauty
of your mortal body. Yet do you not feel that in many things your
intellect fails you? Are there not many things in which you cannot
rival the skill of the humblest of mankind? Nay, might I not go further
and, without mentioning mankind, may I not say that with all your
labour and study you will find yourself no match in skill for some of
the meanest and smallest of God's creatures? Will you boast, then, of
intellect after that? And as for reading, what has it profited you? Of
the multitude of things you have perused how many have remained in your
mind? How many have struck root and borne fruit in due season? Search
well your heart and you will find that the whole of what you know is
but like a little shrunken stream dried by the summer heat compared to
the mighty ocean.

And of what relevance is it to know a multitude of things? Suppose
you shall have learned all the circuits of the heavens and the earth,
the spaces of the sea, the courses of the stars, the virtues of herbs
and stones, the secrets of nature, and then be ignorant of yourself?
Of what profit is it? If by the help of Scripture you shall have
discovered the right and upward path, what use is it if wrath and
passion make you swerve aside into the crooked, downward way? Supposing
you shall have learned by heart the deeds of illustrious men of all the
ages, of what profit will it be if you yourself day by day care not
what you do?

What need for me to speak of eloquence? Will not you yourself readily
confess how often the putting any confidence in this has proved vain?
And, moreover, what boots it that others shall approve what you have
said if in the court of your own conscience it stands condemned? For
though the applause of those who hear you may seem to yield a certain
fruit which is not to be despised, yet of what worth is it after all
if in his heart the speaker himself is not able to applaud? How petty
is the pleasure that comes from the plaudits of the multitude! And
how can a man soothe and flatter others unless he first soothe and
flatter himself? Therefore you will easily understand how often you
are deluded by that glory you hope for from your eloquence, and how
your pride therein rests but upon a foundation of wind. For what can
be more childish, nay, might I not say more insane, than to waste time
and trouble over matters where all the things themselves are worthless
and the words about them vain? What worse folly than to go on blind
to one's real defects, and be infatuated with words and the pleasure
of hearing one's own voice, like those little birds they tell of
who are so ravished with the sweetness of their own song that they
sing themselves to death? And furthermore, in the common affairs of
every-day life does it not often happen to you to find yourself put to
the blush to discover that in the use of words you are no match even
for some whom you think are very inferior men? Consider also how in
Nature there are many things for which names are altogether wanting,
and many more to which names have indeed been given, but to express
the beauty of them--as you know by experience--words are altogether
inadequate. How often have I heard you lament, how often seen you
dumb and dissatisfied, because neither your tongue nor your pen could
sufficiently utter ideas, which nevertheless to your reflecting mind
were very clear and intelligible?

What, then, is this Eloquence, so limited and so weak, which is neither
able to compass and bring within its scope all the things that it
would, nor yet to hold fast even those things that it has compassed?

The Greeks reproach you, and you in turn the Greeks, with having
a paucity of words. Seneca, it is true, accounts their vocabulary
the richer, but Cicero at the beginning of his treatise _On the
Distinctions of Good and Evil_ makes the following declaration, "I
cannot enough marvel whence should arise that insolent scorn of our
national literature. Though this is not the place to discuss it, yet
I will express my conviction, which I have often maintained, not only
that the Latin tongue is not poor, as it is the fashion to assert, but
that it is, in fact, richer than the Greek;"[2] and as he frequently
repeats elsewhere the same opinion, so, especially in the _Tusculan
Orations_, he exclaims, "Thou Greek that countest thyself rich in
words, how poor art thou in phrases."[3]

This is the saying, mark you, of one who know quite well that he was
the prince of Latin oratory, and had already shown that he was not
afraid to challenge Greece for the palm of literary glory. Let me add
that Seneca, so notable an admirer of the Greek tongue, says in his
_Declamations_, "All that Roman eloquence can bring forward to rival or
excel the pride of Greece is connected with the name of Cicero."[4] A
magnificent tribute, but unquestionably true!

There is, then, as you see, on the subject of the primacy in Eloquence
a very great controversy, not only between you and the Greeks, but
among our own most learned writers themselves. There are in our camp
those who hold for the Greeks, and it may be among them there are some
who hold for us, if at least we may judge from what is reported of the
illustrious philosopher Plutarch. In a word, Seneca, who is ours,
while doing all justice to Cicero, gives his final verdict for the
Greeks, notwithstanding that Cicero is of the contrary opinion.

As to my own opinion on the question in debate, I consider that both
parties to the controversy have some truth on their side when they
accuse both Latin and Greek of poverty of words: and if this judgment
be correct in regard to two such famous languages, what hope is there
for any other?

Bethink you therefore what sort of confidence you can have in your own
simple powers when the whole resources of that people of which you are
but a little part are adjudged poor, and how ashamed you should be to
have spent so much time in pursuing something which cannot be attained,
and which, if it could be, would prove after all but vanity itself.

I will pass on to other points. Are you perhaps inclined to plume
yourself on your physical advantages? But think what a thread they hang
upon! What is it you are most pleased with in this way? Is it your good
health and strength? But truly nothing is more frail. It is proved by
the fatigue you suffer from even little things. The various maladies to
which the body is liable; the stings of insects; a slight draught of
air, and a thousand other such small vexations all tell the same tale.
Will you perchance be taken in by your own good-looking face, and when
you behold in the glass your smooth complexion and comely features are
you minded to be smitten, entranced, charmed? The story of Narcissus
has no warning for you, and, content with gazing only at the outward
envelope of the body, you consider not that the eyes of the mind tell
you how vile and plain it is within. Moreover, if you had no other
warning, the stormy course of life itself, which every day robs you of
something, ought to show you how transient and perishing that flower
of beauty is. And if, perhaps, which you will hardly dare affirm, you
fancy yourself invincible by age, by illness, and whatever else may
change the grace of bodily form, you have at least not forgotten that
Last Enemy which destroys all, and you will do well to engrave in your
inmost heart and mind this word of the satirist--

    "'Tis death alone compels us all to see
    What little things we are."[5]

Here, unless I am mistaken, are the causes that inflate your mind with
pride, forbid you to recognise your low estate, and keep you from the
recollection of death. But others there still are that I now propose to
pass in review.

_Petrarch._ Stop a little, I beg you, lest, overwhelmed by the weight
of so many reproaches, I have no strength or spirit to reply.

_S. Augustine._ By all means say on. Gladly will I hold my peace.

_Petrarch._ You have astonished me not a little by casting in my
teeth a multitude of things of which I am perfectly sure they have
never entered my head at all. You allege that I trusted in my own
intelligence. But surely the one sign I have given of possessing some
little intelligence is that never have I counted on that faculty
at all. Shall I pride myself on much reading of books, which with
a little wisdom has brought me a thousand anxieties? How can you
say I have sought the glory of eloquence, I, who, as you yourself
acknowledged a moment ago, am wont above all things to complain that
speech is inadequate to my thoughts? Unless you wish to try and prove
the contrary, I may say that you know I am always conscious of my own
littleness, and that if by chance I have ever thought myself to be
anything, such a thought has come but rarely and then only from seeing
the ignorance of other men; for, as I often remark, we are reduced to
acknowledge, according to Cicero's celebrated phrase, that "what powers
we may possess come rather from the feebleness of others than from any
merit in ourselves."

But even were I endowed as richly as you imagine with those advantages
of which you speak, what is there so magnificent about them that
I should be vain? I am surely not so forgetful of myself nor so
feather-brained as to let myself trouble about cares of that sort. For
what use in the world are intellect, knowledge, eloquence, if they can
bring no healing to a soul diseased? I remember having given expression
already in one of my letters to my sad sense of this truth.

As to what you remarked with an air of quasi gravity about my physical
advantages, I must confess it makes me smile. That I of all men should
be thought to have plumed myself on my mortal and perishing body, when
every day of my life I feel in it the ravages of time at work! Heaven
save me from such folly!

I will not deny that in the days of my youth I took some care to trim
my head and to adorn my face; but the taste for that kind of thing has
gone with my early years, and I recognise now the truth of that saying
of the Emperor Domitian who, writing of himself in a letter to a lady
friend, and complaining of the too swift decay of the goodliness of
man, said, "Know you that nothing is so sweet, but nothing also is so
fleeting, as the beauty of the body."[6]

_S. Augustine._ It would be an easy task to refute all you have
advanced, but I prefer that your own conscience should send the shaft
of shame to your heart rather than words of mine. I will not labour
the point or draw the truth from you by torture; but as those who take
revenge magnanimously, I will merely prefer a simple request that you
will continue to avoid what you profess you have hitherto avoided.

If by any chance the fashion of your countenance should at any time
have stirred the least motion of conceit, then I beg you to reflect
what soon those bodily members must become, though now they please
your eye: think how their destiny is to be foul and hideous, and what
repulsion they would cause even in yourself were you able to see them
then. Then call often to mind this maxim of the Philosopher: "I was
born for some higher destiny than to be the slave of my body."[7]
Assuredly it is the very climax of folly to see men neglect their real
selves in order to cosset the body and limbs in which they dwell. If a
man is imprisoned for a little while in some dungeon, dark, damp, and
dirty, would he not seem to have lost his senses if he did not shield
himself as far as he was able from any contact with the walls and soil?
And with the expectation of freedom would he not eagerly listen for the
footsteps of his deliverer? But if giving up that expectation, covered
with filth and plunged in darkness, he dreads to leave his prison; if
he turns all his attention to painting and adorning the walls which
shut him in, in a vain endeavour to counteract the nature of his
dripping prison-house, will he not rightly be counted a wretched fool?

Well, you yourself know and love your prison-house, wretched that you
are! And on the very eve of your issuing or being dragged therefrom you
chain yourself more firmly in it, labouring to adorn what you ought to
despise, if you would follow the advice you yourself had tendered to
the father of the great Scipio in your poem called _Africa._

    "The bonds and fetters known and suffered long,
    The clogs on liberty are hateful to us,
    And the new freedom now attained we love."[8]

Wonderful is it if you made others give the counsel which you yourself
refuse! But I cannot disguise from you one word in your discourse
which to you may seem very humble, but to me seems full of pride and

_Petrarch._ I am sorry if I have in any way expressed myself
arrogantly, but if the spirit is the true rule of one's deeds and
words, then my own bears me witness that I intended nothing in that

_S. Augustine._ To depreciate others is a kind of pride more
intolerable than to exalt oneself above one's due measure; I would
much rather see you exalt others and then put yourself above them than
degrade all the world in a heap at your feet, and by a refinement of
pride fashion for yourself a shield of humanity out of scorn for your

_Petrarch._ Take it how you will, I profess but small esteem either for
others or myself. I am ashamed to tell you what experience has made me
think of the majority of mankind.

_S. Augustine_. It is very prudent to despise oneself; but it is very
dangerous and very useless to despise others. However, let us proceed.
Are you aware of what still makes you turn from the right way?

_Petrarch._ Pray say anything you like, only do not accuse me of envy.

_S. Augustine_. Please God may pride have done you as little hurt as
envy! So far as I judge, you have escaped this sin, but I have others
whereof to accuse you.

_Petrarch_. Still you will not vex me whatever reproaches you may
bring. Tell me freely everything that leads me astray.

_S. Augustine._ The desire of things temporal.

_Petrarch._ Come, come! I truly have never heard anything so absurd.

_S. Augustine._ There! you see everything vexes you. You have forgotten
your promise. This is not, however, any question of envy.

_Petrarch._ No, but of cupidity, and I do not believe there is a man in
the world more free of this fault than myself.

_S. Augustine._ You are great at self-justification, but, believe me,
you are not so clear of this fault as you think you are.

_Petrarch._ What? do you mean to say that I, I am not free from the
reproach of cupidity?

_S. Augustine._ I do, and that you are likewise guilty of ambition.

_Petrarch._ Go on, ill-treat me more still, double your reproaches,
make full proof of your work of an accuser. I wonder what fresh blow
you have in store for me.

_S. Augustine._ What is mere truth and right testimony you call
accusation and ill-treatment. The satirist was quite right who wrote--

    "To speak the truth to men is to accuse."[9]

And the saying of the comic poet is equally true--

    "'Tis flattery makes friends and candour foes."[10]

But tell me, pray, what is the use of this irritation and anger that
makes you so on edge? Was it necessary in a life so short to weave such
long hopes?

    "Have no long hopes! life's shortness cries to man."[11]

You read that often enough but take no count of it. You will reply, I
suppose, that you do this from a tender solicitude for your friends,
and so find a fair pretext for your error; but what madness it is,
under pretext of friendship to others, to declare war on yourself and
treat yourself as an enemy.

_Petrarch._ I am neither covetous nor inhuman enough to be without
solicitude for my friends, especially for those whose virtue or deserts
attach me to them, for it is those whom I admire, revere, love, and
compassionate; but, on the other hand, I do not pretend to be generous
enough to court my own ruin for the sake of my friends. What I desire
is so to manage my affairs as to have a decent subsistence while I
live; and as you have delivered a shot at me from Horace, let me also
from the same poet put up a shield in self-defence and profess my
desire is the same as his,--

"Let me have books and stores for one year hence, Nor make my life one
flutter of suspense!"[12]

And further how I shape my course so that I may in the same poet's

"Pass my old age and not my honour lose, And, if I may, still serve the
lyric Muse."[13]

Let me own also that I dread very much the rocks ahead if life should
be prolonged, and so would provide beforehand for this double wish of
mine to blend with my work for the Muses some simpler occupation in
household affairs. But this I do with such indifference that it is
plain enough I only descend to such necessities because I am so obliged.

_Augustine._ I see clearly how these pretexts texts which serve as an
excuse for your folly have penetrated deeply into your very spirit. How
is it, then, you have not engraved equally deeply in your heart the
words of the satirist--

    "Why keep such hoarded gold to vex the mind?
    Why should such madness still delude mankind?
    To scrape through life on water and dry bread
    That you may have a fortune when you're dead?"[14]

Undoubtedly it is more because you think that it is a fine thing to
die in a winding-sheet of purple, and rest in a marble tomb, and leave
to your heirs the business of disputing over a great succession, than
that you yourself care for the money which wins such advantages. It is
a futile trouble, believe me, and quite devoid of good sense. If you
will steadily observe human nature, you will discover that in a general
way it is content with very little, and, in your case particularly,
there is hardly a man who needs less for his satisfaction, unless you
had been blinded by prejudices. Doubtless the poet was thinking of the
average run of men, or possibly his own actual self, when he said--

    "My sorry fare is dogwood fruit; I pluck
    Wild herbs and roots that in the fields do grow,
    And a few berries."[15]

But, unlike him, you will acknowledge yourself that such a mode of life
is far from sorry, and that in fact nothing would be pleasanter if you
were to consult only your own taste and not the customs of a deluded
world. Why, then, continue to torment yourself? If you order your life
as your nature dictates, you were rich long ago, but you never will
be able to be rich if you follow the standard of the world; you will
always think something wanting, and in 'rushing after it you will find
yourself swept away by your passion.

Do you remember with what delight you used to wander in the depth of
the country? Sometimes, laying yourself down on a bed of turf, you
would listen to the water of a brook murmuring over the stones; at
another time, seated on some open hill, you would let your eye wander
freely over the plain stretched at your feet; at others, again, you
enjoyed a sweet slumber beneath the shady trees of some valley in the
noontide heat, and revelled in the delicious silence. Never idle, in
your soul you would ponder over some high meditation, with only the
Muses for your friends--you were never less alone than when in their
company, and then, like the old man in Virgil who reckoned himself

    "As rich askings, when, at the close of day,
    Home to his cot he took his happy way,
    And on his table spread his simple fare,
    Fresh from the meadow without cost or care,"[16]

you would come at sunset back to your humble roof; and, contented with
your good things, did you not find yourself the richest and happiest
of mortal men?

_Petrarch._ Ah, well-a-day! I recall it all now, and the remembrance of
that time makes me sigh with regret.

_S. Augustine._ Why--why do you speak of sighing? And who, pray, is
the author of your woes? It is, indeed, your own spirit and none other
which too long has not dared to follow the true law of its nature,
and has thought itself a prisoner only because it would not break its
chain. Even now it is dragging you along like a runaway horse, and
unless you tighten the rein it will rush you to destruction. Ever since
you grew tired of your leafy trees, of your simple way of life, and
society of country people, egged on by cupidity, you have plunged once
more into the midst of the tumultuous life of cities. I read in your
face and speech what a happy and peaceful life you lived; for what
miseries have you not endured since then? Too rebellious against the
teachings of experience, you still hesitate!

It is without a doubt the bonds of your own sins that keep you back,
and God allows that, as you passed your childhood under a harsh muster,
so, though you once became free, you have again fallen into bondage,
and there will end your miserable old age. Verily, I was at your side
once, when, quite young, unstained by avarice or ambition, you gave
promise of becoming a great man; now, alas, having quite changed your
character, the nearer you get to the end of your journey the more you
trouble yourself about provisions for the way. What remains then but
that you will be found, when the day comes for you to die--and it may
be even now at hand, and certainly cannot be any great way off--you
will be found, I say, still hungering after gold, poring half-dead over
the calendar?

For those anxious cares, which increase day after day, must by
necessity at last have grown to a huge figure and a prodigious amount.

_Petrarch_. Well, after all, if I foresee the poverty of old age, and
gather some provision against that time of weariness, what is there so
much to find fault with?

_S. Augustine._ Ah! ludicrous anxiety and tragic neglect, to worry and
trouble yourself about a time at which you may never arrive and in
which you assuredly will not have long to stay, and yet to be quite
oblivious of that end at which you cannot help arriving, and of which
there is no remedy when you once have reached it. But such is your
execrable habit--to care for what's temporal, and be careless for all
that's eternal. As for this delusion of providing a shield against old
age, no doubt what put it into your head was the verse in Virgil which
speaks of

    "The ant who dreads a destitute old age."[17]

And so you have made an ant your mentor and you are as excusable as the
satiric poet who wrote--

    "Some people, like the ant, fear hunger and cold,"[18]

but if you are going to put no limit to the following of ants, you will
discover that there is nothing more melancholy and nothing more absurd
than to ward off poverty one day by loading yourself with it all your

_Petrarch._ What will you say next! Do you counsel me to court Poverty?
I have no longing for it, but I will bear it with courage if Fortune,
who delights to overturn human affairs, reduces me to it.

_S. Augustine._ My opinion is that in every condition man should aim at
the golden mean. I would not then restrict you to the rules of those
who say, "All that is needed for man's life is bread and water; with
these none is poor; whosoever desires no more than these will rival
in felicity the Father of the Gods."[19] No, I do not tie man's life
down to dry bread and water; such maxims are as extreme as they are
troublesome and odious to listen to. Also, in regard to your infirmity,
what I enjoin is not to over-indulge natural appetite, but to control
it. What you already have would be sufficient for your wants if you had
known how to be sufficient to yourself. But as it is you are yourself
the cause of your own poverty. To heap up riches is to heap up cares
and anxieties. This truth has been proved so continually that there
is no need to bring more arguments. What a strange delusion, what a
melancholy blindness of the soul of man, whose nature is so noble,
whose birth is from above, that it will neglect all that is lofty and
debase itself to care for the metals of the earth. Every time you have
been drawn by these hooks of cupidity you come down from your high
meditations to these grovelling thoughts, and do you not feel each time
as if hurled from heaven to earth, from the bosom of the stars to a
bottomless pit of blackness?

_Petrarch_. Yes; in truth, I feel it, and one knows not how to express
what I have suffered in my fall.

_S. Augustine_. Why, then, are you not afraid of a danger you have so
often experienced? And when you were raised up to the higher life, why
did you not attach yourself to it more firmly?

_Petrarch_. I make all the efforts I can to do so; but inasmuch as the
various exigencies of our human lot shake and unsettle me, I am torn
away in spite of myself. It is not without reason, I imagine, that
the poets of antiquity dedicated the double peaks of Parnassus to two
different divinities. They desired to beg from Apollo, whom they called
the god of Genius, the interior resources of the mind, and from Bacchus
a plentiful supply of external goods, way of regarding it is suggested
to me not only by the teaching of experience, but by the frequent
testimony of wise men whom I need not quote to you. Moreover, although
the plurality of deities may be ridiculous, this opinion of the
Poets is not devoid of common sense. And in referring a like twofold
supplication to the one God from whom all good comes down, I do not
think I can be called unreasonable, unless indeed you hold otherwise.

_S. Augustine_. I deny not you are right in your view, but the poor
way you divide your time stirs my indignation. You had already devoted
your whole life to honourable work; if anything compelled you to spend
any of your time on other occupations, you regarded it as lost. But I
now you only concede to what is Good and Beautiful the moments you can
spare from avarice.

Any man in the world would desire to reach old age on such terms as
that; but what limit or check would be to such a state of mind? Choose
for yourself some defined goal, and when you have attained it, then
stay there and breathe awhile. Doubtless you know that the saying I am
about to quote is from lips of man, but has all the force of a divine

    "The miser's voice for ever cries, Give, give;
    Then curb your lusts if you would wisely live."[20]

_Petrarch._ Neither to want nor to abound, neither to command others or
obey them--there you have my heart's wish.

_S. Augustine_. Then you must drop your humanity and become God, if you
would want nothing. Can you be ignorant that of all the creatures Man
is the one that has most wants?

_Petrarch_. Many a time have I heard that said, but I would still like
to hear it afresh from your lips and lodge it in my remembrance.

_S. Augustine._ Behold him naked and unformed, born in wailings and
tears, comforted with a few drops of milk, trembling and crawling,
needing the hand of another, fed and clothed from the beasts of the
field, his body feeble, his spirit restless, subject to all kinds of
sickness, the prey of passions innumerable, devoid of reason, joyful
to-day, to-morrow sorrowful, in both full of agitation, incapable of
mastering himself, unable to restrain his appetite, ignorant of what
things are useful to him and in what proportion, knowing not how to
control himself in meat or drink, forced with great labour to gain
the food that other creatures find ready at their need, made dull
with sleep, swollen with food, stupefied with drink, emaciated with
watching, famished with hunger, parched with thirst, at once greedy
and timid, disgusted with what he has, longing after what he has lost,
discontented alike with past, present and future, full of pride in his
misery, and aware of his frailty, baser than the vilest worms, his life
is short, his days uncertain, his fate inevitable, since Death in a
thousand forms is waiting for him at last.

_Petrarch._ You have so piled up his miseries and beggary that I feel
it were good if I had never been born.

_S. Augustine._ Yet, in the midst of such wretchedness and such deep
destitution of good in man's estate, you go on dreaming of riches and
power such as neither emperors nor kings have ever fully enjoyed.

_Petrarch_. Kindly tell me who ever made use of those words? Who spoke
either of riches or of power?

_S. Augustine._ You imply both, for what greater riches can there be
than to lack nothing? What greater power than to be independent of
every one else in the world? Certainly those kings and masters of the
earth whom you think so rich have wanted a multitude of things. The
generals of great armies depend on those whom they seem to command,
and, kept in check by their armed legions, they find the very soldiers
who render them invincible also render them in turn helpless. Give up,
therefore, your dreams of the impossible, and be content to accept the
lot of humanity; learn to live in want and in abundance, to command
and to obey, without desiring, with those ideas of yours, to shake off
the yoke of fortune that presses even on kings. You will only be free
from this yoke when, caring not a straw for human passions, you bend
your neck wholly to the rule of Virtue. Then you will be free, wanting
nothing, then. you will be independent; in a word, then you will be a
king, truly powerful and perfectly happy.

_Petrarch_. Now I do indeed repent for all that is past, and I desire
nothing. But I am still in bondage to one evil habit and am conscious
always of a certain need at the bottom of my heart.

_S. Augustine._ Well, to come back to our subject, there is the very
thing which keeps you back from the contemplation of death. It is that
which makes you harassed with earthly anxieties; you do not lift up
your heart at all to higher things. If you will take my counsel you
will utterly cast away these anxieties, which are as so many dead
weights upon the spirit, and you will find that it is not so hard after
all to order your life by your nature, and let that rule and govern you
more than the foolish opinions of the crowd.

_Petrarch_. I will do so very willingly, but may I ask you to finish
what you were beginning to say about ambition, which I have long
desired to hear?

_S. Augustine_. Why ask me to do what you can quite well do for
yourself? Examine your own heart; you will see that among its other
faults it is not ambition which holds the least place there.

_Petrarch._ It has profited me nothing then to have fled from towns
whenever I could, to have thought scorn of the world and public
affairs, to have gone into the recesses of the woods and silence of the
fields, to have proved my aversion from empty honours, if still I am to
be accused of ambition.

_S. Augustine._ You renounce many things well,--all you mortal men; but
not so much; because you despise them as because you despair of getting
them. Hope and desire inflame each other by the mutual stings of those
passions, so that when the one grows cold the other dies away, and when
one gets warm the other boils over.

_Petrarch._ Why, then, should I not hope? Was I quite destitute of any

_S. Augustine._ I am not now speaking of your accomplishments, but
certainly you had not those by help of which, especially in the present
day, men mount to high places; I mean the art of ingratiating yourself
in the palaces of the great, the trick of flattery, deceit, promising,
lying, pretending, dissembling, and putting up with all kinds of
slights and indignities. Devoid of these accomplishments and others of
the kind, and seeing clearly that you could not overcome nature, you
turned your steps elsewhere. And you acted wisely and with prudence,
for, as Cicero expresses it, "to contend against the gods as did the
giants, what is it but to make war with nature itself."[21]

_Petrarch_. Farewell such honours as these, if they have to be sought
by such means!

_S. Augustine._ Your words are golden, but you have not convinced me
of your innocence, for you do not assert your indifference to honours
so much as to the vexations their pursuit involves, like the man who
pretended he did not want to see Rome because he really would not
endure the trouble of the journey thither. Observe, you have not yet
desisted from the pursuit of honour, as you seem to believe and as you
try to persuade me. But leave off trying to hide behind your finger, as
the saying goes; all your thoughts, all your actions are plain before
my eyes: and when you boast of having fled from cities and become
enamoured of the woods, I see no real excuse, but only a shifting of
your culpability.

We travel many ways to the same end, and, believe me, though you have
left the road worn by feet of the crowd, you still direct your feet by
a side-path towards this same ambition that you say you have thought
scorn of; it is repose, solitude, a total disregard of human affairs,
yes, and your own activities also, which just at present take you along
that chosen path, but the end and object is glory.

_Petrarch_. You drive me into a corner whence I think, however,
I could manage to escape; but, as the time is short and we must
discriminate between many things, let us proceed, if you have no

_S. Augustine_. Follow me, then, as I go forward. We will say nothing
of gourmandising, for which you have no more inclination than a
harmless pleasure in an occasional meeting with a few friends at the
hospitable board. But I have no fear for you on this score, for when
the country has regained its denizen, now snatched away to the towns,
these temptations will disappear in a moment; and I have noticed,
and have pleasure in acknowledging, that when you are alone you live
in such a simple way as to surpass your friends and neighbours in
frugality and temperance. I leave on one side anger also, though you
often get carried away by it more than is reasonable, yet at the same
time, thanks to your sweet natural temperament, you commonly control
the motions of your spirit, and recall the advice of Horace--

    "Anger's a kind of madness, though not long;
    Master the passion, since it's very strong;
    And, if you rule it not, it will rule you,
    So put the curb on quickly."[22]

_Petrarch._ That saying of the poet, and other words of philosophy
like it, have helped me a little, I own; but what has helped me above
all is the thought of the shortness of life. What insensate folly
to spend in hating and hurting our fellow-men the few days we pass
among them! Soon enough the last day of all will arrive, which will
quite extinguish this flame in human breasts and put an end to all
our hatred, and if we have desired for any of them nothing worse than
death, our evil wish will soon be fulfilled. Why, then, seek to take
one's life or that of others? Why let pass unused the better part of
a time so short? When the days are hardly long enough for honest joys
of this life, and for meditating on that which is to come, no matter
what economy of time we practise, what good is there in robbing any of
them of their right and needful use, and turning them to instruments
of sorrow and death for ourselves and others? This reflection has
helped me, when I found myself under any temptation to anger, not to
fall utterly under its dominion, or if I fell has helped me quickly to
recover; but hitherto I have not been able quite to arm myself at all
points from some little gusts of irritation.

_S. Augustine._ As I am not afraid that this wind of anger will cause
you to make shipwreck of yourself or others, I agree willingly that
without paying attention to the promises of the Stoics, who set out to
extirpate root and branch all the maladies of the soul, you content
yourself with the milder treatment of the Peripatetics. Leaving, then,
on one side for the moment these particular failings, I hasten to treat
of others more dangerous than these and against which you will need to
be on guard with more care.

_Petrarch_. Gracious Heaven, what is yet to come that is more dangerous

_S. Augustine._ Well, has the sin of lust never touched you with its

_Petrarch_. Yes, indeed, at times so fiercely us to make me mourn
sorely that I was not born without feelings. I would sooner have been a
senseless stone than be tormented by so many stings of the flesh.

_S. Augustine_. Ah, there is that which turns you most aside from the
thought of things divine. For what does the doctrine of the heavenly
Plato show but that the soul must separate itself far from the passion
of the flesh and tread down its imaginings before it can rise pure and
free to the contemplation of the mystery of the Divine; for otherwise
the thought of its mortality will make it cling to those seducing
charms. You know what I mean, and you have learned this truth in
Plato's writings, to the study of which you said not long ago you had
given yourself up with ardour.

_Petrarch_. Yes, I own I had given myself to studying him with great
hopefulness and desire, but the novelty of a strange language and the
sudden departure of my teacher cut short my purpose.[23] For the rest
this doctrine of which you speak is very well known to me from your own
writings and those of the Platonists.

_S. Augustine._ It matters little from whom you learned the truth,
though it is a fact that the authority of a great master will often
have a profound influence.

_Petrarch._ Yes, in my own case I must confess I feel profoundly the
influence of a man of whom Cicero in his _Tusculan Orations_ made this
remark, which has remained graven in the bottom of my heart: "When
Plato vouchsafes not to bring forward any proof (you see what deference
I pay him), his mere authority would make me yield consent."[24]
Often in reflecting on this heavenly genius it has appeared to me an
injustice when the disciples of Pythagoras dispense their chief from
submitting proofs, that Plato should be supposed to have less liberty
than he. But, not to be carried away from our subject, authority,
reason and experience alike have for a long time so much commended this
axiom of Plato to me that I do not believe anything more true or more
truly holy could be said by any man. Every time I have raised myself
up, thanks to the hand of God stretched out to me, I have recognised
with infinite joy, beyond belief, who it was that then preserved me
and who had cast me down in times of old. Now that I am once more
fallen into my old misery, I feel with a keen sense of bitterness that
failing which again has undone me. And this I tell you, that you may
see nothing strange in my saying I had put Plato's maxim to the proof.

_S. Augustine._ Indeed, I think it not strange, for I have been witness
of your conflicts; I have seen you fall and then once again rise up,
and now that you are down once more I determined from pity to bring you
my succour.

_Petrarch._ I am grateful for your compassionate feeling, but of what
avail is any human succour?

_S. Augustine._ It avails nothing, but the succour of God is much every
way. None can be chaste except God give him the grace of chastity.[25]
You must therefore implore this grace from Him above all, with
humbleness, and often it may be with tears. He is wont never to deny
him who asks as he should.

_Petrarch_. So often have I done it that I fear I am as one too

_S. Augustine_. But you have not asked with due humbleness or
singleness of heart. You have ever kept a corner for your passions
to creep in; you have always asked that your prayers may be granted
presently. I speak from experience, for I did likewise in my old life.
I said, "Give me chastity, but not now. Put it off a little while; the
time will soon come. My life is still in all its vigour; let it follow
its own course, obey its natural laws; it will feel it more of a shame
later, to return to its youthful folly. I will give up this failing
when the course of time itself shall have rendered me less inclined
that way, and when satiety will have delivered me from the fear of
going back."[26] In talking thus do you not perceive that you prayed
for one thing but wished another in your heart?

_Petrarch_. How so?

_S. Augustine._ Because to ask for a thing to-morrow is to put it aside
for to-day.

_Petrarch._ With tears have I often asked for it to-day. My hope was
that after breaking the chain of my passions and casting away the
misery of life, I should escape safe and sound, and after so many
storms of vain anxieties, I might swim ashore in some haven of safety;
but you see, alas, how many shipwrecks I have suffered among the same
rocks and shoals, and how I shall still suffer more if I am left to

_S. Augustine._ Trust me, there has always been something wanting in
your prayer; otherwise the Supreme Giver would have granted it or, as
in the case of the Apostle, would have only denied you to make you more
perfect in virtue and convince you entirely of your own frailty.[27]

_Petrarch._ That is my conviction also; and I will go on praying
constantly, unwearied, unashamed, undespairing. The Almighty, taking
pity on my sorrows, will perchance lend an ear to my prayer, sent up
daily to His throne, and even as He would not have denied His grace if
my prayers had been pure, so He will also purify them.

_S. Augustine._ You are quite right, but redouble your efforts; and, as
men wounded and fallen in battle raise themselves on their elbow, so do
you keep a look out on all sides for the dangers that beset you, for
fear that some foe; unseen come near and do you hurt yet more, where
you lie on the ground. In the mean time, pray instantly for the aid of
Him who is able to raise you up again. He will perchance be nearer to
you just then when you think Him furthest off. Keep ever in mind that
saying of Plato we were speaking of just now, "Nothing so much hinders
the knowledge of the Divine as lust and the burning desire of carnal
passion." Ponder well, therefore, this doctrine; it is the very basis
of our purpose that we have in hand.

_Petrarch._ To let you see how much I welcome this teaching, I have
treasured it with earnest care, not only when it dwells in the court of
Plato's royal demesne, but also where it lurks hidden in the forests
of other writers, and I have kept note in my memory of the very place
where it was first perceived by my mind.

_S. Augustine._ I wonder what is your meaning. Do you mind being more

_Petrarch._ You know Virgil: you remember through what dangers he makes
his hero pass in that last awful night of the sack of Troy?

_S. Augustine._ Yes, it is a topic repeated over and over again in all
the schools. He makes him recount his adventures thus--

    "What tongue could tell the horrors of that night,
    Paint all the forms of death, or who have tears
    Enough to weep so many wretched wights?
    Hath the great city that so long was queen
    Fallen at last? Behold in all the streets
    The bodies of the dead by thousands strewn,
    And in their homes and on the temple's steps!
    Yet is there other blood than that of Troy,
    What time her vanquished heroes gathering up
    Their quenchless courage smite anon their foes,
    They, though triumphant, fall. Everywhere grief,
    Dread everywhere, and in all places Death!"[28]

_Petrarch._ Now wherever he wandered accompanied by the goddess of
Love, through crowding foes, through burning fire, he could not
discern, though his eyes were open, the wrath of the angered gods,
and so long as Venus was speaking to him he only had understanding
for things of earth. But as soon as she left him you remember what
happened; he immediately beheld the frowning faces of the deities, and
recognised what dangers beset him round about.

    "Then I beheld the awe-inspiring form
    Of gods in anger for the fall of Troy."[29]

From which my conclusion is that commerce with Venus takes away the
vision of the Divine.

_S. Augustine._ Among the clouds themselves you have clearly discerned
the light of truth. It is in this way that truth abides in the fictions
of the poets, and one perceives it shining out through the crevices of
their thought. But, as we shall have to return to this question later
on, let us reserve what we have to say for the end of our discourse.

_Petrarch._ That I may not get lost in tracks unknown to me, may I ask
when you propose to return to this point?

_S. Augustine._ I have not yet probed the deepest wounds of your soul,
and I have purposely deferred to do so, in order that, coming at the
end, my counsels may be more deeply graven in your remembrance. In
another dialogue we will treat more fully of the subject of the desires
of the flesh, on which we have just now lightly touched.

_Petrarch._ Go on, then, now as you proposed.

_S. Augustine._ Yes, there need be nothing to hinder me, unless you are
obstinately bent on stopping me.

_Petrarch._ Indeed, nothing will please me better than to banish for
ever every cause of dispute from the earth. I have never engaged in
disputation, even on things perfectly familiar, without regretting it;
for the contentions that arise, even between friends, have a certain
character of sharpness and hostility contrary to the laws of friendship.

But pass on to those matters in which you think I shall welcome your
good counsel.

_S. Augustine._ You are the victim of a terrible plague of the
soul--melancholy; which the moderns call _accidie_, but which in old
days used to be called _ægritudo._

_Petrarch._ The very name of this complaint makes me shudder.

_S. Augustine._ Nor do I wonder, for you have endured its burden long

_Petrarch._ Yes, and though in almost all other diseases which torment
me there is mingled a certain false delight, in this wretched state
everything is harsh, gloomy, frightful. The way to despair is for ever
open, and everything goads one's miserable soul to self-destruction.
Moreover, while other passions attack me only in bouts, which, though
frequent, are but short and for a moment, this one usually has invested
me so closely that it clings to and tortures me for whole days and
nights together. In such times I take no pleasure in the light of day,
I see nothing, I am as one plunged in the darkness of hell itself, and
seem to endure death in its most cruel form. But what one may call the
climax of the misery is, that I so feed upon my tears and sufferings
with a morbid attraction that I can only be rescued from it by main
force and in despite of myself.

_S. Augustine._ So well do you know your symptoms, so familiar are you
become with their cause, that I beg you will tell me what is it that
depresses you most at the present hour? Is it the general course of
human affairs? Is it some physical trouble, or some disgrace of fortune
in men's eyes?

_Petrarch._ It is no one of these separately. Had I only been
challenged to single combat, I would certainly have come off
victorious; but now, as it is, I am besieged by a whole host of enemies.

_S. Augustine_. I pray you will tell me fully all that torments you.

_Petrarch._ Every time that fortune pushes me back one step, I stand
firm and courageous, recalling to myself that often before I have been
struck in the same way and yet have come off conqueror; if, after that,
she presently deals me a sterner blow, I begin to stagger somewhat;
if then she returns to the charge a third and fourth time, driven by
force, I retreat, not hurriedly but step by step, to the citadel of

If fortune still lays siege to me there with all her troops, and if,
to reduce me to surrender, she piles up the sorrows of our human lot,
the remembrance of my old miseries and the dread of evils yet to come,
then, at lost, hemmed in on all sides, seized with terror at these
heaped-up calamities, I bemoan my wretched fate, and feel rising in my
very soul this bitter disdain of life. Picture to yourself some one
beset with countless enemies, with no hope of escape or of pity, with
no comfort anywhere, with every one and everything against him; his
foes bring up their batteries, they mine the very ground beneath his
feet, the towers are already falling, the ladders are at the gates, the
grappling-hooks are fastened to the walls, the fire is seen crackling
through the roofs, and, at sight of those gleaming swords on every
side, those fierce faces of his foes, and that utter ruin that is upon
him, how should he not be utterly dismayed and overwhelmed, since, even
if life itself should be left, yet to men not quite bereft of every
feeling the loss of liberty alone is a mortal stroke?

_S. Augustine._ Although your confession is a little confused, I
make out that your misfortunes all proceed from a single false
conception which has in the past claimed and in futuro will still claim
innumerable victims. You have a bad conceit of yourself.

_Petrarch._ Yes, truly, a very bad one.

_S. Augustine._ And why?

_Petrarch._ Not for one, but a thousand reasons.

_S. Augustine._ You are like people who on the slightest offence rake
up all the old grounds of quarrel they ever had.

_Petrarch._ In my case there is no wound old enough for it to have
been effaced and forgotten: my sufferings are all quite fresh, and if
anything by chance were made better through time, Fortune has so soon
redoubled her strokes that the open wound has never been perfectly
healed over. I cannot, moreover, rid myself of that hate and disdain of
our life which I spoke of. Oppressed with that, I cannot but be grieved
and sorrowful exceedingly. That you call this grief _accidie_ or
_ægritudo_ makes no difference; in substance we mean one and the same

_S. Augustine._ As from what I can understand the evil is so
deep-seated, it will do no good to heal it slightly, for it will soon
throw out more shoots. It must be entirely rooted up. Yet I know not
where to begin, so many complications alarm me. But to make the task of
dividing the matter easier, I will examine each point in detail. Tell
me, then, what is it that has hurt you most?

_Petrarch_. Whatever I see, or hear, or feel.

_S. Augustine._ Come, come, does nothing please you?

_Petrarch_. Nothing, or almost nothing.

_S. Augustine._ Would to God that at least the better things in your
life might be dear, to you. But tell me what is it that is to you the
most displeasing of all? I beg you give me an answer.

_Petrarch._ I have already answered.

_S. Augustine._ It is this melancholy I spoke of which is the true
cause of all your displeasure with yourself.

_Petrarch._ I am just as displeased with what I see in others as with
what I see in myself.

_S. Augustine._ That too comes from the same source. But to get a
little order into our discourse, does what you see in yourself truly
displease you as much as you say?

_Petrarch._ Stop worrying me with your petty questions, that are more
than I know how to reply to.

_S. Augustine._ I see, then, that those things which make many other
people envy you are nevertheless in your own eyes of no account at all?

_Petrarch._ Any one who envies a wretch like me must indeed himself be

_S. Augustine._ But now please tell me what is it that most displeases

_Petrarch._ I am sure I do not know.

_S. Augustine._ If I guess right will you acknowledge it?

_Petrarch._ Yes, I will, quite freely.

_S. Augustine._ You are vexed with Fortune.

_Petrarch._ And am I not right to hate her? Proud, violent, blind, she
makes a mock of mankind.

_S. Augustine._ It is an idle complaint. Let us look now at your own
troubles. If I prove you have complained unjustly, will you consent to

_Petrarch._ You will find it very hard to convince me. If, however, you
prove me in the wrong, I will give in.

_S. Augustine._ You find that Fortune is to you too unkind.

_Petrarch_. Not too unkind; too unjust, too proud, too cruel.

_S. Augustine_. The comic poets have more than one comedy called "The
Grumbler." There are scores of them. And now you are making yourself
one of the crowd. I should rather find you in more select company. But
as this subject is so very threadbare that no one can add anything
new on it, will you allow me to offer you an old remedy for an old

_Petrarch_. As you wish.

_S. Augustine_. Well then, has poverty yet made you endure hunger and
thirst and cold?

_Petrarch_. No, Fortune has not yet brought me to this pass.

_S. Augustine._ Yet such is the hard lot of a great many people every
day of their lives. Is it not?

_Petrarch_. Use some other remedy than this if you can, for this brings
me no relief. I am not one of those who in their own misfortunes
rejoice to behold the crowd of other wretched ones who sob around them;
and not seldom I mourn as much for the griefs of others as for my own.

_S. Augustine_. I wish no man to rejoice in witnessing the misfortunes
of others, but they ought at any rate to give him some consolation,
and teach him not to complain of his own lot. All the world cannot
possibly occupy the first and best place. How could there be any first
unless there was also a second following after? Only be thankful, you
mortal men, if you are not reduced to the last of all; and that of so
many blows of outrageous Fortune you only bear her milder strokes. For
the rest, to those who are doomed to endure the extremes of misery,
one must offer more potent remedies than you have need of whom Fortune
has wounded but a little. That which casts men down into these doleful
moods is that each one, forgetting his own condition, dreams of the
highest place, and, like every one else, as I just now pointed out,
cannot possibly attain it; then when he fails he is discontented. If
they only knew the sorrows that attend on greatness they would recoil
from that which they now pursue. Let me call as witnesses those who by
dint of toil have reached the pinnacle, and who no sooner have arrived
than they forthwith bewail the too easy accomplishment of their wish.
This truth should be familiar to every one, and especially to you, to
whom long experience has shown that the summit of rank, surrounded as
it is with trouble and anxieties, is only deserving of pity. It follows
that no earthly lot of man is free from complaint, since those who have
attained what they desire and those who have missed it alike show some
reason for discontent. The first allege they have been cheated, and the
second that they have suffered neglect.

Take Seneca's advice then, "When you see how many people are in front
of you, think also how many are behind. If you would be reconciled
with Providence and your own lot in life, think of all those you have
surpassed;" and as the same wise man says in the same place, "Set a
goal to your desires such as you cannot overleap, even if you wish."

_Petrarch._ I have long ago set such a goal to my desires, and, unless
I am mistaken, a very modest one; but in the pushing and shameless
manners of my time, what place is left for modesty, which men now call
slackness or sloth?

_S. Augustine._ Can your peace of mind be disturbed by the opinion of
the crowd, whose judgment is never true, who never call anything by its
right name? But unless my recollection is at fault, you used to look
down on their opinion.

_Petrarch._ Never, believe me, did I despise it more than I do now.
I care as much for what the crowd thinks of me as I care what I am
thought of by the beasts of the field.

_S. Augustine._ Well, then?

_Petrarch._ What raises my spleen is that having, of all my
contemporaries whom I know, the least exalted ambitions, not one
of them has encountered so many difficulties as I have in the
accomplishment of my desires. Most assuredly I never aspired to the
highest place; I call the spirit of Truth as witness who judges us,
who sees all, and who has always read my most secret thoughts. She
knows very well that whenever after the manner of men I have gone over
in my mind all the degrees and conditions of our human lot. I have
never found in the highest place that tranquillity and serenity of soul
which I place above all other goods; and for that matter, having a
horror of a life full of disquiet and care, I have ever chosen, in my
modest judgment, some middle position, and given, not lip-service, but
the homage of my heart to that truth expressed by Horace--

    "Whoso with little wealth will live content,
    Easy and free his days shall all be spent;
    His well-built house keeps out the winter wind,
    Too modest to excite an envious mind."[30]

And I admire the reasons he gives in the same Ode not less than the
sentiment itself.

    "The tallest trees most fear the tempest's might,
    The highest towers come down with most affright,
    The loftiest hills feel first the thunder smite."

Alas! it is just the middle place that it has never been my lot to

_S. Augustine._ And what if that which you think is a middle position
is in truth below you? What if as a matter of fact you have for a long
while enjoyed a really middle place, enjoyed it abundantly? Nay, what
if you have in truth left the middle far behind, and are become to a
great many people a man more to be envied than despised?

_Petrarch._ Well, if they think my lot one to be envied, I think the

_S. Augustine._ Yes, your false opinion is precisely the cause of all
your miseries, and especially of this last. As Cicero puts it, "You
must flee Charybdis, with all hands to the oars, and sails as well!"[31]

_Petrarch._ Whither can I flee? where direct my ship? In a word, what
am I to think except what I see before my eyes?

_S. Augustine._ You only see from side to side where your view is
limited. If you look behind you will discover a countless throng coming
after, and that you are somewhat nearer to the front rank than to that
in the rear, but pride and stubbornness suffer you not to turn your
gaze behind you.

_Petrarch._ Nevertheless from time to time I have done so, and have
noticed many people coming along behind. I have no cause to blush at my
condition, but I complain of having so many cares. I deplore, if I may
yet again make use of a phrase of Horace, that I must live "only from
day to day."[32] As to this restlessness of which I have suffered more
than enough, I gladly subscribe to what the same poet says in the same

    "What prayers are mine? O may I yet possess
    The goods I have, or, if heaven pleases, less!
    Let the few years that Fate may grant me still
    Be all my own, not held at others' will."[33]

Always in a state of suspense, always uncertain of the future,
Fortune's favours have no attraction for me. Up to now, as you see, I
have lived always in dependence on others; it is the bitterest cup of
all. May heaven grant me some peace in what is left of my old age, and
that the mariner who has lived so long amid the stormy waves may die in

_S. Augustine._ So then in this great whirlpool of human affairs, amid
so many vicissitudes, with the future all dark before you; in a word,
placed as you are at the caprice of Fortune, you will be the only one
of so many millions of mankind who shall live a life exempt from care!
Look what you are asking for, O mortal man! look what you demand! As
for that complaint you have brought forward of never having lived a
life of your own, what it really amounts to is not that you have lived
in poverty, but more or less in subservience. I admit, as you say, that
it is a thing very troublesome. However, if you look around you will
find very few men who have lived a life of their own. Those whom one
counts most happy, and for whom numbers of others live their lives,
bear witness by the constancy of their vigils and their toils that they
themselves are living for others. To quote you a striking instance,
Julius Cæsar, of whom some one has reported this true but arrogant
saying, "The human race only lives for a small number,"[34] Julius
Cæsar, after he had subdued the human race to live for himself alone,
did himself live for other people. Perhaps you will ask me for whom did
he live? and I reply, for those who slew him--for Brutus, Cimber, and
other traitorous heads of that conspiracy, for whom his inexhaustible
munificence proved too small to satisfy their rapacity.

_Petrarch_. I must admit you have brought me to my senses, and I will
never any more complain either of my obligations to others or of my

_S. Augustine._ Complain rather of your want of wisdom, for it is this
alone that can obtain for you liberty and true riches. For the rest,
the man who quietly endures to go without the cause of those good
effects, and then makes complaint of not having them, cannot truly be
said to have any intelligent understanding of either the cause or the
effects. But now tell me what is it that makes you suffer, apart from
what we have been speaking of? Is it any weakness of health or any
secret trouble?

_Petrarch_. I confess that my body has always been a burden every time
I think of myself; but when I cast my eyes on the unwieldiness of other
people's bodies, I acknowledge that I have a fairly obedient slave. I
would to Heaven I could say as much of my soul, but I am afraid that in
it there is what is more than a match for me.

_S. Augustine_. May it please God to bring that also under the rule of
reason. But to come back to your body, of what do you complain?

_Petrarch._ Of that of which most other people also complain. I charge
it with being mortal, with implicating me in its sufferings, loading
me with its burdens, asking me to sleep when my soul is awake, and
subjecting me to other human necessities which it would be tedious to
go through.

_S. Augustine._ Calm yourself, I entreat you, and remember you are a
man. Presently your agitation will cease. If any other thing troubles
you, tell me.

_Petrarch._ Have you never heard how cruelly Fortune used me? This
stepdame, who in a single day with her ruthless hand laid low all my
hopes, all my resources, my family and home?[35]

_S. Augustine._ I see your tears are running down, and I pass on. The
present is not the time for instruction, but only for giving warning;
let, then, this simple one suffice. If you consider, in truth, not the
disasters of private families only, but the ruins also of empires from
the beginning of history, with which; you are so well acquainted; and
if you call to mind the tragedies you have read, you will not perhaps
be so sorely offended when you see your own humble roof brought to
nought along with so many palaces of kings. Now pray go on, for these
few warning words will open to you a field for long meditation.

_Petrarch._ Who shall find words to utter my daily disgust for this
place where I live, in the most melancholy and disorderly of towns,[36]
the narrow and obscure sink of the earth, where all the filth of the
world is collected? What brush could depict the nauseating spectacle
--streets full of disease and infection, dirty pigs and snarling
dogs, the noise of cart-wheels grinding against the walls, four-horse
chariots coming dashing down at every cross-road, the motley crew
of people, swarms of vile beggars side by side with the flaunting
luxury of the wealthy, the one crushed down in sordid misery, the
others debauched with pleasure and riot; and then the medley of
characters--such diverse rôles in life--the endless clamour of their
confused voices, as the passers-by jostle one another in the streets?

All this destroys the soul accustomed to any better kind of life,
banishes all serenity from a generous heart, and quite upsets the
student's habit of mind. So my prayers to God are earnest as well as
frequent that he would save my barque from imminent wreck, for whenever
I look around I seem to myself to be going down alive into the pit.

"Now," I say in mockery, "now betake yourself to noble thoughts "--

    "Now go and meditate the tuneful lyre."[37]

S. _Augustine._ That line of Horace makes me realise what most afflicts
you. You lament having lighted on a place so unfavourable for study,
for as the same poet says--

    "Bards fly from town, and haunt the wood and glade."[38]

And you yourself have expressed the same truth in other words--

    "The leafy forests charm the sacred Muse,
    And bards the noisy life of towns refuse."[39]

If, however, the tumult of your mind within should once learn to calm
itself down, believe me this din and bustle around you, though it will
strike upon your senses, will not touch your soul. Not to repeat what
you have been long well aware of, you have Seneca's letter[40] on this
subject, and it is very much to the point. You have your own work also
on "Tranquillity of Soul"; you have beside, for combating this mental
malady, an excellent book of Cicero's which sums up the discussions
of the third day in his _Tusculan Orations_, and is dedicated to

_Petrarch._ You know I have read all that work and with great attention.

_S. Augustine_. And have you got no help from it?

_Petrarch._ Well, yes, at the time of reading, much help; but no sooner
is the book from my hands than all my feeling for it vanishes.

_S. Augustine._ This way of reading is become common now; there is such
a mob of lettered men, a detestable herd, who have spread themselves
everywhere and make long discussions in the schools on the art of life,
which they put in practice little enough. But if you would only make
notes of the chief points in what you read you would then gather the
fruit of your reading.

_Petrarch._ What kind of notes?

_S. Augustine._ Whenever you read a book and meet with any wholesome
maxims by which you feel your spirit stirred or enthralled, do not
trust merely to the resources of your wits, but make a point of
learning them by heart and making them quite familiar by meditating
on them, as the doctors do with their experiments, so that no matter
when or where some urgent case of illness arises, you have the remedy
written, so to speak, in your head. For in the maladies of the soul, as
in those of the body, there are some in which delay is fatal, so that
if you defer the remedy you take away all hope of a cure. Who is not
aware, for instance, that certain impulses of the soul are so swift and
strong that, unless reason checks the passion from which they arise,
they whelm in destruction the soul and body and the whole man, so that
a tardy remedy is a useless one? Anger, in my judgment, is a case in
point. It is not for nothing that, by those who have divided the soul
into three parts, anger has been placed below the seat of reason, and
reason set in the head of man as in a citadel, anger in the heart, and
desire lower still in the loins. They wished to show that reason was
ever ready to repress instantly the violent outbreaks of the passions
beneath her, and was empowered in some way from her lofty estate to
sound the retreat. As this check was more necessary in the case of
anger, it has been placed directly under reason's control.

_Petrarch._ Yes, and rightly; and to show you I have found this truth
not only in the works of Philosophers but also in the Poets, by that
fury of winds that Virgil describes hidden in deep caves, by his
mountains piled up, and by his King Æolus sitting above, who rules them
with his power, I have often thought he may have meant to denote anger
and the other passions of the soul which seethe at the bottom of our
heart, and which, unless controlled by the curb of reason, would in
their furious haste, as he says, drag us in their train and sweep us
over sea and land and the very sky itself.[42] In effect, he has given
us to understand he means by the earth our bodily frame; by the sea,
the water through which it lives; and by the depths of the sky, the
soul that has its dwelling in a place remote, and of which elsewhere
he says that its essence is formed out of a divine fire.[43] It is
as though he said that these passions will hurl body, soul, and man
himself into the abyss. On the other side, these mountains and this
King sitting on high--what can they mean but the head placed on high
where reason is enthroned? These are Virgil's words--

    "There, in a cave profound, King Æolus
    Holds in the tempests and the noisy wind,
    Which there he prisons fast. Those angry thralls
    Rage at their barrier, and the mountain side
    Roars with their dreadful noise, but he on top
    Sits high enthroned, his sceptre in his hand."[44]

So writes the Poet. As I carefully study every word, I have heard with
my ears the fury, the rage, the roar of the winds; I have heard the
trembling of the mountain and the din. Notice how well it all applies
to the tempest of anger. And, on the other hand, I have heard the
King, sitting on his high place, his sceptre grasped in his hand,
subduing, binding in chains, and imprisoning those rebel blasts,--who
can doubt that with equal appropriateness this applies to the Reason?
However, lest any one should miss the truth that all this refers to the
soul and the wrath that vexes it, you see he adds the line--

"And calms their passion and allays their wrath."[45]

_S. Augustine_. I cannot but applaud that meaning which I understand
you find hidden in the poet's story, familiar as it is to you; for
whether Virgil had this in mind when writing, or whether without any
such idea he only meant to depict a storm at sea and nothing else, what
you have said about the rush of anger and the authority of reason seems
to me expressed with equal wit and truth.

But to resume the thread of our discourse, take notice in your reading
if you find anything dealing with anger or other passions of the soul,
and especially with this plague of melancholy, of which we have been
speaking at some length. When you come to any passages that seem to you
useful, put marks against them, which may serve as hooks to hold them
fast in your remembrance, lest otherwise they might be taking wings to
flee away.

By this contrivance you will be able to stand firm against all the
passions, and not least against sorrow of heart, which, like some
pestilential cloud utterly destroys the seeds of virtue and all the
fruits of understanding, and is, in the elegant phrase of Cicero--

    "The fount and head of all miseries."[46]

Assuredly if you look carefully at the lives of others as well as your
own, and reflect that there is hardly a man without many causes of
grief in his life, and if you except that one just and salutary ground,
the recollection of your own sins--always supposing it is not suffered
to drive you to despair--then you will come to acknowledge that Heaven
has assigned to you many gifts that are for you a ground of consolation
and joy, side by side with that multitude of things of which you murmur
and complain.

As for your complaint that you have not had any life of your own and
the vexation you feel in the tumultuous life of cities, you will find
no small consolation in reflecting that the same complaint has been
made by greater men than yourself, and that if you have of your own
free will fallen into this labyrinth, so you can of your own free will
make your escape. If not, yet in time your ears will grow so used to
the noise of the crowd that it will seem to you as pleasant as the
murmur of a falling stream. Or, as I have already hinted, you will
find the same result easily if you will but first calm down the tumult
of your imagination, for a soul serene and tranquil in itself fears not
the coming of any shadow from without and is deaf to all the thunder of
the world.

And so, like a man on dry land and out of danger, you will look upon
the shipwreck of others, and from your quiet haven hear the cries of
those wrestling, with the waves, and though you will be moved with
tender compassion by that sight, yet even that will be the measure
also of your own thankfulness and joy at being in safety. And ere long
I am sure you will banish and drive away all the melancholy that has
oppressed your soul.

_Petrarch_. Although not a few things rather give me a twinge, and
especially your notion that it is quite easy and depends only on
myself to get away from towns, yet, as you have on many points got the
better of me in reasoning, I will here lay down my arms ere I am quite

_S. Augustine_. Do you feel able, then, now to cast off your sorrow and
be more reconciled to your fortune?

_Petrarch_. Yes, I am able, supposing always that there is any such
thing as fortune at all. For I notice the two Greek and Latin Poets
are so little of one mind on this point that the one has not deigned
to mention the word even once in all his works, whereas the other
mentions the name of fortune often and even reckons her Almighty.[47]
And this opinion is shared by a celebrated historian and famous
orator. Sallust has said of fortune that "all things are under her
dominion."[48] And Cicero has not scrupled to affirm that "she is the
mistress; of human affairs."[49] For myself, perhaps I will declare
what I think on the subject at some other time and place. But so far as
concerns the matter of our discussion, your admonitions have been of
such service to me, that when I compare my lot with that of most other
men it no longer seems so unhappy to me as once it did.

_S. Augustine_. I am glad indeed to have been of any service to you,
and my desire is to do everything I can. But as our converse to-day has
lasted a long while, are you willing that we should defer the rest for
a third day, when we will bring it to a conclusion?

_Petrarch._ With my whole heart I adore the very number three
itself, not so much because the three Graces are contained in it,
as because it is held to be nearest of kin to the Deity; which is
not only the persuasion of yourself and other professors of the true
faith, who place all your faith in the Trinity, but also that of
Gentile philosophers who have a traditional use of the same number in
worshipping their own deities. And my beloved Virgil seems to have
been conversant with this when he wrote--

    "Uneven number to the gods is dear."[50]

For what goes before makes it clear that three is the number to which
he alludes. I will therefore presently await from your hands the third
part of this your threefold gift.

[1] _Æneid_, viii. 385-86.

[2] _De bonis et malis_, i. 3.

[3] _Tusculan Orations_, ii. 15. But Cicero's words are more guarded,
"_inops interdum._"

[4] _Declamations_, i.

[5] Juvenal, _Sat._ x. 172-73.

[6] Suetonius Domitian, xviii.

[7] Seneca, _Epist.,_ 65.

[8] Scipio is speaking of the souls admitted to heaven, freed from the
body. _Africa,_ i. 329.

[9] Juvenal, i. 161 (not correctly quoted).

[10] Terence L'Audrienne, 68.

[11] Horace, _Odes_, i. 4, 15.

[12] Horace, _Epist._ i. 18, 109. Conington's translation.

[13] Horace, _Odes_, I. xxxi. 19, 20.

[14] Juvenal, _Sat.,_ xiv. 135.

[15] _Æneid,_ iii. 629.

[16] _Georgics,_ iv. 132.

[17] _Georgics_, i. 106.

[18] Juvenal, vi. 361.

[19] Seneca, _Epist.,_ xxv.

[20] Horace, _Epist.,_ i. 2, 56.

[21] _De Senectute,_ xi.

[22] Horace, _Epist._ i. 2, 62-3.

[23] Petrarch refers to a Calabrian monk who had begun giving him
lessons in Greek, but left him on being appointed to a bishopric.

[24] _Tusculan Orations,_ i. 21.

[25] Wisdom, viii. 21.

[26] _Cor_. xii. 9.

[27] _Confessions_, viii. 7.

[28] _Æneid_, ii. 361-9.

[29] _Æneid_, ii. 622.

[30] Horace, _Odes,_ xi. 10, 6-8.

[31] _Tusculan Orations,_ iii. 11.

[32] Horace, _Epist.,_ i. 18, 110.

[33] Horace, _Epist.,_ i. 18, 106-8.

[34] Lucian, 343.

[35] He refers to the fact that his father was banished from Florence,
and he himself was born in exile at Arezzo.

[36] Avignon.

[37] Horace, _Epist._, ii. 2, 76.

[38] _Epist.,_ ii. 2, 77 (Conington).

[39] Petrarch's _Epist.,_ ii. 2, 77.

[40] Seneca's _Letters,_ lvi.

[41] _Tusculan Orations,_ cxi.

[42] _Æneid,_ i. 58.

[43] _Ibid.,_ vi. 730.

[44] _Ibid.,_ i. 52-57.

[45] _Æneid_ i. 57.

[46] _Tusculan Orations_, iv. 38.

[47] _Æneid,_ viii. 334.

[48] _Pro Marcello,_ ii.

[49] _Catilina_, viii.

[50] _Eclogue_, vii. 75.



_S. Augustine_. Supposing that hitherto you have found some good from
my words, I beg and implore you in what I have still to say to lend
me a ready ear, and to put aside altogether the spirit of dispute and

_Petrarch._ You may be sure I will so do, for I feel that, owing to
your good counsels, I have been set free from a large part of my
distress, and am therefore the better disposed to listen to what you
may still have to say.

_S. Augustine._ I have not at all as yet touched upon the deep-seated
wounds which are within, and I rather dread the task when I remember
what debate and murmuring were caused by even the lightest allusion
to them. But, on the other hand, I am not without hope that when you
have rallied your strength, your spirit will more firmly bear without
flinching a severer handling of the trouble.

_Petrarch._ Have no fear on that score. By this time I am used to
hearing the name of my maladies and to bearing the touch of the
surgeon's hand.

_S. Augustine_. Well, you are still held in bondage, on your right
hand and on your left, by two strong chains which will not suffer
you to turn your thoughts to meditate on life or on death. I have
always dreaded these might bring you to destruction; and I am not yet
at all reassured, and I shall only be so when I have seen you break
and cast away your bonds and come forth perfectly free. And this I
think possible but difficult enough to achieve, and that until it is
accomplished I shall only be moving in a futile round. They say that
to break a diamond one must use the blood of a goat, and in the same
way to soften the hardness of these kinds of passions, this blood is
of strange efficacy. No sooner has it touched even the hardest heart
but it breaks and penetrates it. But I will tell you what my fear is.
In this matter I must have your own full assent as we proceed, and I
am haunted by the fear you will not be able, or perhaps I should say
will prove unwilling, to give it. I greatly dread lest the glittering
brilliance of your chains may dazzle your eyes and hinder you, and make
you like the miser bound in prison with fetters of gold, who wished
greatly to be set free but was not willing to break his chains.

Now such are the conditions of your own bondage that you can only gain
your freedom by breaking your chains.

_Petrarch_. Alas, alas, I am more wretched than I thought. Do you
mean to tell me my soul is still bound by two chains of which I am

_S. Augustine_. All the same they are plain enough to see; but, dazzled
by their beauty, you think they are not fetters but treasures; and, to
keep to the same figure, you are like some one who, with hands and feet
fast bound in shackles of gold, should look at them with delight and
not see at all that they are shackles. Yes, you yourself with blinded
eyes keep looking at your bonds; but, oh strange delusion! you are
charmed with the very chains that are dragging you to your death, and,
what is most sad of all, you glory in them!

_Petrarch._ What may these chains be of which you speak?

_S. Augustine._ Love and glory.

_Petrarch._ Great Heavens! what is this I hear? You call these things
chains? And you would break them from me, if I would let you?

_S. Augustine._ Yes, I mean to try, but I doubt if I shall succeed.
All the other things that held you back were less strong and also
less pleasant to you, so you helped me to break them. These, on the
contrary, are pleasant though they injure, and they deceive you by a
false show of beauty; so they will demand greater efforts, for you will
make resistance as if I were wishing to rob you of some great good.
Nevertheless I mean to try.

_Petrarch._ Pray what have I done that you should desire to relieve
me of the finest passions of my nature, and condemn to everlasting
darkness the clearest faculties of my soul?

_S. Augustine._ Ah, unhappy man, have you forgotten quite this axiom of
philosophy, that the climax of all evils is when a man, rooted in some
false opinion, by degrees grows fatally persuaded that such and such a
course is right?

_Petrarch._ I have by no means forgotten that axiom, but it has nothing
to do with the subject, for why in the world should I not think that
the course which I indicated is right? No, I never have thought and
I never shall think any truth more indisputable than that these two
passions, which you cast at me as a reproach, are the very noblest of

_Augustine._ Let us take them separately for the present, while I
endeavour to find the remedies, so that I may not blunt the edge of my
weapon by striking first at one and then the other indiscriminately.
Tell me then, since we have first mentioned love, do you or do you not
hold it to be the height of all madness?

_Petrarch._ To tell you the whole truth as I conceive it, I judge that
love may be either described as the vilest passion or the noblest
action of the soul.

_S. Augustine._ Do you mind giving me some example to confirm the view
you have put forward?

_Petrarch._ If my passion is for some low woman of ill fame, my love
is the height of folly. But if, fascinated by one who is the image of
virtue, I devote myself to love and honour her, what have you to say
to that? Do you put no difference between things so entirely opposed?
Do you wish to banish all remains of honour from the case? To tell you
my real feeling, just as I regard the first kind of love as a heavy
and ill-starred burden on the soul, so of the second I think there is
hardly any greater blessing to it; if it so happen that you hold an
opposite view, let each one follow his own feeling, for, as you are
well aware, truth is a large field and every man should have freedom to
judge for himself.

_S. Augustine_. In matters directly contradictory opinions also may be
diverse. But truth itself is one and always the same.

_Petrarch_. I admit that is so. But what makes us go wrong is that we
bind ourselves obstinately to old opinions, and will not easily part
from them.

_S. Augustine._ Heaven grant you may think as wisely on the whole
matter of love as you do on this point.

_Petrarch_. To speak briefly, I think I am so certainly right that
those who think the opposite I believe to be quite out of their senses.

_S. Augustine_. I should certainly maintain that to take for truth
some ancient falsehood, and to take as falsehood some newly-discovered
truth, as though all authority for truth were a matter of time, is the
very climax of madness.

_Petrarch._ You are wasting your labour. Whoever asserts that view of
love I shall never believe him. And I will rest on Cicero's saying, "If
I err here I err willingly, and I shall never consent to part with this
error as long as I live."[1]

_S. Augustine._ When Cicero uses those words he is speaking of the
immortality of the soul, and referring to it as the noblest of
conceptions, and declaring his own belief in it to be so firm that he
would not endure to listen to any one who maintained the contrary. You,
however, to urge the ignoblest and most false of all opinions, make
use of those same terms. Unquestionably, even if the soul were mortal,
it would be better to think it immortal. For error though it were, yet
would it inspire the love of virtue, and that is a thing to be desired
for its own sake alone, even if all hope of future reward were taken
away from us; and as to which the desire for it will certainly become
weaker, as men come to think the soul a mortal thing; and, on the
other hand, the promise of a life to come, even if it were to turn out
a delusion, is none the less a powerful incentive to the soul, human
nature being what it is.

But you see what will be the consequences of that error in which you
stand; it will precipitate your soul into all manner of folly, when
shame, and fear, even reason, that now acts as some check on passion,
and the knowledge of truth itself shall all have disappeared.

_Petrarch._ I have already told you you were wasting your time. My own
remembrance tells mo that I have never loved anything to be ashamed of,
and, on the contrary, have ever loved what is most noble.

_S. Augustine._ Even noble things may be loved in a shameful way; it is
beyond doubt.

_Petrarch._ Neither in the object of love nor in the manner of loving
am I guilty. So you may as well give up tormenting me.

_S. Augustine._ Well, well! Do you wish, like those with fever on the
brain, to die laughing and joking? Or will you rather take some remedy
for your mind so pitiable and so far from its true health?

_Petrarch._ I will not refuse a remedy if you will prove to me that
I am ill, but, when a man is quite well, to begin taking remedies is
often fatal.

_S. Augustine._ As soon as you have reached the stage of convalescence
you will perceive quickly enough, as men generally do, that you have
been seriously ill.

_Petrarch._ After all, I cannot but show deference to one who often in
the past, and especially in these last two days, has given me proof how
good were his counsels. So please go on.

_S. Augustine._ In the first place I ask you to forgive me if,
compelled by the subject, I have to deal severely with what has been
so delightful to you. For I cannot but foresee that the truth will
sound bitterly in your ears.

_Petrarch_. Just one word before you begin. Do you thoroughly know the
matter you are to touch upon?

_S. Augustine._ I have gone into it all carefully beforehand. It is
about a mortal woman, in admiring and celebrating whom you have, alas!
spent a large part of your life. That a mind like yours should have
felt such an insensate passion and for so long a time does greatly
astonish me.

_Petrarch_. Spare your reproaches, I pray. Thais and Livia were both
mortal women; but you should be aware that she of whom you have set
out to speak is a mind that has no care for things of earth, and burns
only with the love of what is heavenly. In whose face, unless truth is
an empty word, a certain divine loveliness shines out; whose character
is the image and picture of perfect honour; whose voice and the living
expression of whose eyes has nothing mortal in it; whose very form
and motion is not as that of others. Consider this again and again, I
entreat you, and I trust you may have understanding in what words to

_S. Augustine._ Ah! out of all reason have you grown! Have you then
for sixteen long years been feeding: with false joys this flame of
your heart? Of a truth not longer did Italy once suffer the assaults
of her most famous enemy, the great Hannibal; nor did she then endure
more frequent onsets of her would-be lover, nor was consumed with more
furious fires. You to-day carry within you as hot a flame of passion,
you endure as fierce stings. Yet was there found one who forced him to
retreat and, though late, to take his leave! But who shall expel this
invader from your soul if you yourself forbid him to depart; if you of
your own will invite him to stay long with you; if you, unhappy as you
are, delight in your own calamity? Far other will be your thoughts when
the fatal day shall come that will close for ever those eyes that are
now so pleasing to you to look upon; when you shall see that face and
those pale limbs changed by death; then you will be filled with shame
to have so knit your mortal affections to a perishing body such as
this, and what now you so obstinately maintain you will then blush to

_Petrarch_. Heaven forbid any such misery. I shall not see your threats

_S. Augustine_. They will inevitably come to pass.

_Petrarch_. I know it. But the stars in their courses will not so fight
against me as to prevent the order of Nature by hastening her death
like that. First came I into this world and I shall be first to depart.

_S. Augustine._ I think you will not have forgotten that time when you
feared the contrary event, and made a song of your beloved as if she
were presently to die, a song full of moving sorrow.

_Petrarch._ Certainly I remember very well, but the thought that filled
me then with grief, and the memory of which makes me shiver, was a
jealous indignation at the bare possibility of my outliving her who is
the best part of my life and whose presence makes all its sweetness.
For that is the motive of that song; I remember it well, and how I was
overcome with tears. Its spirit is still with me, if with you perchance
are the words.

_S. Augustine._ I was not complaining how many tears the fear of
her death made you shed, nor of how much grief you felt. I was only
concerned that you should realise how this fear of yours in the past
may certainly return; and more easily, in that every day is a step
nearer to death, and that that fair form, worn by sicknesses and the
bearing of many children, has already lost much of its first strength.

_Petrarch._ I also am borne down with cares and am worn with age, and
in that onward path towards death I have outrun her whom I love.

_S. Augustine._ What folly it is to calculate the order of death by
that of birth! For what are those sad lamentations of the old but
because of the early deaths of their young children? What is it that
yonder aged nurse is grieving over but that she sees the loss of her
little nursling--

                                 "Whom some dark day
    Has stripped of his sweet life; and cruel fate
    Snatched from his mother's breast and covered him
    In a too early grave."[2]

In your own case the small number of years by which you have preceded
her gives you a very uncertain hope that you will be gone before the
fire of your passion shall be extinguished; and yet you indulge the
fiction that this order of Nature is unchangeable.

_Petrarch_. Not exactly unchangeable, but I pray without ceasing that
it may not be changed, and whenever I think of death I remember Ovid's

    "Late may her time arrive, and after mine."[3]

_S. Augustine._ I can listen to these trifles no more; but since you
now admit that she may possibly die before you, I ask what should you
say if she really were dead?

_Petrarch_. What should I say but that such a calamity would be the
climax of all my miseries? Yet I should try and comfort myself with
what was past. But may the winds bear away the words from our lips and
the hurricane scatter such an omen to the ends of the earth!

_S. Augustine._ Ah, blindfold one! you see not yet what foolishness
it is so to subject your soul to things of earth, that kindle in it
the flames of desire, that have no power to give it rest, that cannot
endure; and, while promising to charm you with their sweetness, torment
you with perpetual agitations.

_Petrarch_. If you have any more effectual remedy, I beg you will point
it out. You will never frighten me with talk like this; for I am not,
as you suppose, infatuated with any creature that is mortal. You might
have known that I have loved her physical charm loss than her soul,
that what has captivated me has been a life above that of ordinary
lives, the witnessing of which has shown me how the blessed live above.

Therefore, since you inquire of me (and the mere question is a torture
to listen to) what I should do supposing she were to leave me and be
the first to die--well, I should try and console myself in sorrow with
Lælius, the wisest of the Romans. With him I should say, "It is her
goodness that I loved and that is not dead;" and I would say to myself
those other words that he pronounced after the death of him for whom he
had conceived an affection surpassing all common affection.[4]

_S. Augustine._ You retire to Error's inaccessible fastness, and it
will not be easy to dislodge you. But as I notice you are inclined
to listen much more patiently to the truth about yourself and her,
sing the praises of your darling lady as much as you will, and I will
gainsay nothing. Were she a queen, a saint--

      "A very goddess, or to Apollo's self
    Own sister, or a mother of the nymphs,"[5]

yet all her excellence will in nowise excuse your error.

_Petrarch_. Let us see what fresh quarrel you seek with me?

_S. Augustine._ It is unquestionably true that oftentimes the loveliest
things are loved in a shameful way.

_Petrarch._ I have already met that insinuation on a previous occasion.
If any one could see the image of the love that reigns in my heart, he
would recognise that there is no difference between it and that face
that I have praised indeed much, but less by far than it deserves to be
praised. I call to witness the spirit of Truth in whose presence we are
speaking when I assert that in my love there has never been anything
dishonourable, never anything of the flesh, never anything that any
man could blame unless it were its mere intensity. And if you add that
even so it never passed the line of right, I think a fairer thing could
never be conceived.

_S. Augustine._ I might reply to you with a word of Cicero and tell
you, "You are talking of putting boundary lines in vice itself."[6]

_Petrarch_. Not in vice, but in love.

_S. Augustine_. But in that very passage he was speaking of love. Do
you remember where it occurs?

_Petrarch._ Do I remember indeed? Of course I have read it in the
_Tusculans_. But he was speaking of men's common love; mine is one by

_S. Augustine._ Other people, I fancy, might say the same of theirs;
for true it is that in all the passions, and most of all in this, every
man interprets his own case favourably, and there is point in the verse
though from a common poet--

    "To every man his lady,
       Then one to me assign;
     To every man his love affairs,
       And so let me have mine!"[7]

_Petrarch._ Would you like, if you have time, to hear me tell you a few
of those many charms of hers that would strike you with astonishment
and admiration?

_S. Augustine._ Do you think I am ignorant of all

    "Those pleasant dreams that lovers use to weave"?

Every schoolboy knows the line, but I confess I am ashamed to hear such
silliness from the lips of one whose words and thoughts should seek a
higher range.

_Petrarch._ One thing I will not keep silence on,--call it silliness,
call it gratitude, as you please,--namely, that to her I owe whatever I
am, and I should never have attained such little renown and glory as I
have unless she by the power of this love had quickened into life the
feeble germ of virtue that Nature had sown in my heart. It was she who
turned my youthful soul away from all that was base, who drew me as it
were by a grappling chain, and forced me to look upwards. Why should
you not believe it? It is a sure truth that by love we grow like what
we love. Now there is no backbiter alive, let his tongue be as sharp
as it may, that has ventured to touch her good name, or dared to say
he had seen a single fault, I will not say in her conduct, but even in
any one of her gestures or words. Moreover, those whisperers who leave
no one's reputation untouched if they can help it, have been obliged in
her, case to utter only reverence and respect.

It is no wonder, then, if such a glory as hers should have fostered
in my heart the longing for more conspicuous glory, and should have
sweetened those hard toils which I had to endure if I would attain
that which I desired. What were all the wishes of my youth but solely
to please her who above all others had pleased me? And you are not
ignorant that to gain my end I scorned delights a thousand times, I
gave myself before my time to labour and to cares without number; and
now you bid me forget or diminish somewhat of my love for her who first
taught me how to escape the vulgar crowd, who guided all my steps,
spurred on my lagging mind, and wakened into life my drowsy spirit.

_S. Augustine._ Poor man! you would have done better to be silent than
to speak, although even if you had been silent I should have discerned
what you are within. But such stout words as these stir my indignation
and anger.

_Petrarch._ I wonder why?

_S. Augustine._ To have a false opinion shows ignorance, but to keep on
boldly proclaiming it shows pride as well as ignorance.

_Petrarch_. Suppose you try and prove that what I think and say is

_S. Augustine._ It is all false; and, first, what you say as to owing
all you are to her. If you mean that she has made you what you are,
there you certainly lie; but if you were to say that it is she. who
has prevented you being any more than you are, you would speak the
truth. O what long contention would you have been spared if by the
charm of her beauty she had not held you back. What you are you owe to
the bounty of Nature; what you might have been she has quite cut off,
or rather let me say you yourself have cut it off, for she indeed is
innocent. That beauty which seemed so charming and so sweet, through
the burning flame of your desire, through the continual rain of your
tears, has done away all that harvest that should have grown from the
seeds of virtue in your soul. It is a false boast of yours that she has
held you back from base things; from some perhaps she may, but only
to plunge you into evils worse still. For if one leads you from some
miry path to bring you to a precipice, or in lancing some small abscess
cuts your throat, he deserves not the name of deliverer but assassin.
Likewise she whom you hold up as your guide, though she drew you away
from some base courses, has none the less overwhelmed you in a deep
gulf of splendid ruin. As for her having taught you to look upwards and
separate yourself from the vulgar crowd, what else is it than to say
by sitting at her feet you became so infatuated with the charm of her
above as to studiously neglect everything else?

And in the common intercourse of human life what can be more injurious
than that? when you say she has involved you in toils without number,
there indeed you speak truth. But what great gain is there in that?
When there are such varied labours that a man is perforce obliged to
engage in, what madness is it of one's own accord to go after fresh
ones! As for your boasting that it is she who has made you thirst for
glory, I pity your delusion, for I will prove to you that of all the
burdens of your soul there is none more fatal than this. But the time
for this is not yet come.

_Petrarch_. I believe the readiest of warriors first threatens and
then strikes. I seem, however, to find threat and wound together. And
already I begin to stagger.

_S. Augustine_. How much more will you stagger when I deliver my
sharpest thrust of all? Forsooth that woman to whom you profess you owe
everything, she, even she, has been your ruin.

_Petrarch._ Good Heavens! How do you think you will persuade me of that?

_S. Augustine._ She has detached your mind from the love of heavenly
things and has inclined your heart to love the creature more than the
Creator: and that one path alone leads, sooner than any other, to death.

_Petrarch._ I pray you make no rash judgment. The love which I feel for
her has most certainly led me to love God.

_S. Augustine._ But it has inverted the true order.

_Petrarch._ How so?

_S. Augustine._ Because 'every creature' should be dear to us because
of our love for the Creator. But in your case, on the contrary, held
captive by the charm of the creature, you have not loved the Creator as
you ought. You have admired the Divine Artificer as though in all His
works He had made nothing fairer than the object of your love, although
in truth the beauty of the body should be reckoned last of all.

_Petrarch._ I call Truth to witness as she stands here between us,
and I take my conscience to witness also, as I said before, that the
body. of my lady has been less dear to me than her soul. The proof
of it is here, that the further she has advanced in age (which for
the beauty of the body is a fatal thunderstroke) the more firm has
been my admiration; for albeit the flower of her youth has withered
visibly with time, the beauty of her soul has grown with the years, and
as it was the beginning of my love for her, even so has it been its
sustainer. Otherwise if it had been her bodily form which attracted me,
it was, ere this, time to make a change.

_S. Augustine._ Are you mocking me? Do you mean to assert that if the
same soul had been lodged in a body ill-formed and poor to look upon,
you would have taken equal delight therein?

_Petrarch._ I dare not say that. For the soul itself cannot be
discerned, and the image of a body like that would have given no
indication of such a soul. But were it possible for the soul to be
visible to my gaze, I should most certainly have loved its beauty even
though its dwelling-place were poor.

_S. Augustine._ You are relying on mere words; for if you are only able
to love that which is visible to your gaze, then what you love is the
bodily form. However, I deny not that her soul and her character have
helped to feed your flame, for (as I will show you before long) her
name alone has both little and much kindled your mad passion; for, as
in all the affections of the soul, it happens most of all in this one
that oftentimes a very little spark will light a great fire.

_Petrarch._ I see where you would drive me. You want to make me say
with Ovid--

    "I love at once her body and her soul."[8]

_S. Augustine._ Yes, and you ought to confess this also, that neither
in one or the other case has your love been temperate or what it should

_Petrarch._ You will have to put me to the torture ere I will make any
such confession.

_S. Augustine._ And you will allow that this love has also cast you
into great miseries.

_Petrarch._ Though you place me on the block itself, I will not
acknowledge any such thing.

_S. Augustine._ If you do not ignore my questions and conclusions, you
will soon make both those confessions. Tell me, then, can you recall
the years when you were a little child, or have the crowding cares of
your present life blotted all that time out?

_Petrarch._ My childhood and youth are as vividly before my eyes as if
they were yesterday.

_S. Augustine._ Do you remember, then, how in those times you had
the fear of God, how you thought about Death, what love you had for
Religion, how dear goodness and virtue were to you?

_Petrarch._ Yes, I remember it all, and I am sorry when I see that as
my years increased these virtues grew less and less in me.

_S. Augustine._ For my part I have ever been afraid lest the wind of
Spring should cut that early blossom off, which, if only it might be
left whole and unhurt, would have produced a wondrous fruitage.

_Petrarch._ Pray do not wander from the subject; for what has this to
do with the question we were discussing?

_S. Augustine._ I will tell you. Recall each step in your life, since
your remembrance is so complete and fresh; recall all the course of
your life, and recollect at what period this great change you speak of

_Petrarch._ I have run over in my mind all the course and number of my

_S. Augustine._ And what do you find?

_Petrarch._ I see that the doctrine in the treatise of Pythagoras, of
which I have heard tell and have read, is by no means void of truth.
For when travelling the right road, still temperate and modest, I had
reached the parting of the ways and had been bidden to turn to the
right hand, whether from carelessness or perversity I know not, behold
I turned to the left; and what I had read in my boyhood was of no
profit to me--

    "Here the ways part: the right will thee conduct
    To the walled palace of the mighty King
    And to Elysium, but the left will lead
    Where sin is punished and the malefactor
    Goes to his dreaded doom."[9]

Although I had read of all this before, yet I understood it not until
I found it by experience. Afterwards I went wrong, in this foul and
crooked pathway, and often in mind went back with tears and sorrow, yet
could not keep the right way; and it was when I left that way, yes,
that was certainly the time when all this confusion in my life began.

_S. Augustine_. And in what period of your age did this take place?

_Petrarch._ About the middle of my growing youth. But if you give me a
minute or two, I think I can recall the exact year when it took place.

_S. Augustine_. I do not ask for the precise date, but tell me about
when was it that you saw the form and feature of this woman for the
first time?

_Petrarch._ Never assuredly shall I forget that day.

_S. Augustine._ Well now, put two and two together; compare the two

_Petrarch._ I must confess in truth they coincide. I first saw her and
I turned from my right course at one and the same time.

_S. Augustine._ That is all I wanted. You became infatuated. The
unwonted dazzle blinded your eyes, so I believe. For they say the first
effect of love is blindness. So one reads in the poet most conversant
with Nature--

    "At the first sight was that Sidonian dame

and then he adds presently--

    "With love was Dido burning."[10]

And though, as you well know, the story is but on ancient fable, yet
did the Poet in making it follow the order of Nature.

And when you had been struck blind by this meeting, if you chose the
left-hand path it was because to you it seemed more broad and easy;
for that to the right is steep and narrow, and of its hardship you
were afraid. But that woman so renowned, whom you imagine as your most
safe guide, wherefore did not she direct you upward, hesitating and
trembling as you were? Why did she not take you by the hand as one does
the blind, and set you in the way where you should walk?

_Petrarch_. She certainly did so, as far as it was in her power. What
but this was in her heart when, unmoved by my entreaties, unyielding
to my caress, she safeguarded her woman's honour, and in spite of her
youth and mine, in spite of a thousand circumstances that would have
bent a heart of adamant, she stood her ground, resolute and unsubdued?
Yes, this womanly soul taught me what should be the honour and duty of
a man; and to preserve her chastity she did, as Seneca expresses it--

    "What was to me at once an example and a reproach."[11]

And at last, when she saw the reins of my chariot were broken and that
I was rushing to the abyss, she chose rather to part from me than
follow where I went.

_S. Augustine_. Base desires, then, sometimes you felt, though not long
since you denied it? But it is the common folly of lovers, let me say
of mad folk. One may say of them all alike--

    "I would not, yet I would; I would, yet would not."[12]

You know not, any of you, what you want or what you want not.

_Petrarch_. Without seeing, I fell into the snare. But if in past
days my feelings were other than they are now, love and youth were
the cause. Now I know what I wish and what I desire, and I have at
last made firm my staggering soul. She for her part has ever been firm
in her mind and always the same. The more I understand this woman's
constancy, the more I admire it; and if sometimes I regretted her
resolution, now I rejoice in it and give her thanks.

_S. Augustine._ It is not easy to believe a man who has once taken you
in. You may have changed the outside fashion of your life, but have not
yet persuaded me that your soul is also changed.

If your flame is calmed and softened somewhat, yet it is not for
certain quite put out. But you who set such price on her you love,
do you not see how deeply by absolving her you condemn yourself? You
delight in seeing in her the model of purity, and you avow yourself to
be without any feeling and a criminal; and you protest that she is the
most happy of women, while her love has made you the most unhappy of
men. If you remember, it is just what I said at the beginning.

_Petrarch._ Yes, I remember. I cannot deny that what you say is true,
and I see whither you are gradually leading me.

_S. Augustine._ To see it better still, lend me all your attention.
Nothing so much leads a man to forget or despise God as the love of
things temporal, and most of all this passion that we call love; and
to which, by the greatest of all desecrations, we even gave the name
of God, without doubt only that we may throw a heavenly veil over our
human follies and make a pretext of divine inspiration when we want to
commit an enormous transgression. In the case of the other passions,
the sight of the object, the hope of enjoying it, and the ardour of
the will take us captive. Love also demands all that, but in addition
it asks also a reciprocal passion, without which it will be forced to
die away. So, whereas in the other cases one loves singly and alone,
in this case we must give love for love, and thus man's heart is stung
and stung again. Therefore, Cicero was right when he wrote that "Of
all the passions of the soul, assuredly the most violent is love,"[13]
and he must have been very certain of his ground when he added that
"assuredly"--he who in four books shows he was aware how Plato's
Academy doubted everything.[14]

_Petrarch_. I have often noticed that reference, and wondered that of
the passions he should call this the most violent of all.

_S. Augustine._ Your surprise would have vanished if you had not lost
your powers of memory. But I must recall you by a short admonition to a
recollection of its many evils. Think what you were when that plague
seized upon your soul; how suddenly you fell to bemoaning, and came to
such a pitch of wretchedness that you felt a morbid pleasure in feeding
on tears and sighs. Passing sleepless nights, and murmuring ever the
name of your beloved, scorning everything, hating life, desiring death,
with a melancholy love for being alone, avoiding all your fellow-men,
one might well apply to you, for they exactly fit your case, the lines
in which Homer describes Bellerophon--

    "There in the pleasant fields he wandered sad,
    Eating his heart, far from the ways of men."[15]

What meant that pale face and wasted figure? that flower of your age
withering before its time, those heavy eyes, ever bathed in tears, your
mind in a state of agitation, your broken rest and troubled moans,
even when you were asleep? Why was your voice weak and altered through
your sorrow of heart, and the very sound of your words, indistinct
and broken, with whatever other token can be imagined, of a heart
distressed and in disorder? Do you call these the signs of one in good
health? Was it not this lady with whom for you every day, whether feast
or fast, began and ended? Was it not at her coming the sun shone forth,
and when she left you, night returned? Every change of her countenance
brought a change in your heart; and if she were sad, you forthwith were
filled with sadness. In a word, your life became wholly dependent upon
hers. You know that I say but what is true and what is in every one's

And what could be more senseless than that, not content with the
presence of her living face, the cause of all your woes, you must
needs obtain a painted picture by an artist[16] of high repute, that
you might carry it everywhere with you, to have an everlasting spring
of tears, fearing, I suppose, lest otherwise their fountain might dry
up? Of all such things you were only too vigilant, and you neglected
everything else. But to come to that which is the very crowning
instance of your folly, and of which I gave you warning a little while
ago, who could sufficiently utter his indignation and amazement at this
sign of a distempered mind, that, infatuated as much by the beauty of
her name as of her person, you have with perfectly incredible silliness
paid honour to anything that has the remotest connection with that name
itself? Had you any liking for the laurel of empire or of poetry, it
was forsooth because the name they bore was hers; and from this time
onwards there is hardly a verse from your pen but in it you have made
mention of the laurel, as if indeed you were a denizen of Peneus'
stream,[17] or some priest on Cirrha's[18] Mount.

And finally, discovering that the laurel of empire was beyond your
reach, you have, with as little self-restraint as you showed in the
case of your beloved herself, now coveted the laurel of Poetry of which
the merit of your works seemed to give more promise.

Although to gain your reward you were borne up on the wings of genius,
yet will you shudder to remember with what trouble you attained it. I
clearly divine what excuse you will make, and I see your thought the
moment you open your lips. You will allege that you were devoted to
these studies some time before you became a lover at all, and that
desire for the glory of the poet's crown had kindled your heart from
childhood. I neither deny it or forget it; but the fact of the usage
being obsolete for centuries, and this being an epoch very unfavourable
for studies like yours, the dangers also of long voyages, which would
have brought you to the threshold of prison and of death itself, not
to mention other obstacles of fortune no less violent than those--all
these difficulties, I say, would perhaps have broken your resolve
entirely, if the remembrance of a name so sweet, always entwining
itself with your inmost soul, had not banished every other care, and
drawn you over sea, over land, across mountains of difficulty, to Rome
and to Naples, where at length you attained what you had longed for
with such ardour. If all this seems to you the token of but a moderate
passion, then at least shall be quite certain you are the victim of the
moderate delusion.

I purposely leave out what Cicero was not ashamed to imitate from
Terence when he wrote, "Wrongs, suspicions, fierce quarrels,
jealousies, war, and then again peace--behold the miseries of love." Do
you not recognise at once in his words the madness and, above all, the
madness of jealousy which, as one knows too well, is the ruling power
in love as love is the ruling passion among all others? Perhaps you
may reply: "I admit it is so, but reason will be there to temper such
excess." Terence himself had anticipated your answer when he added--

    "Such fickle things to settle by sane rule
    Is to be sanely insane."[19]

The phrase, the truth of which you will scarcely question, puts an end,
unless I am mistaken, to all those subterfuges of yours.

Such, then, are the miseries of love, the particulars of which it is
needless to mention to those who have proved them, and which would not
be believed by those who never tried. But the worst of them all, to
come back to our subject, is that it engenders a forgetfulness of God
and of man's real state. For how should the soul thus crushed beneath
these weights ever arise to that one and only most pure fountain of
true Good? And since it is so, you may lay aside your wonder that
Cicero should tell us no passion of man's soul seemed to him more
violent than love.

_Petrarch_. I must own myself beaten; for it appears all you have said
is taken from the very heart of the book of experience. And as you have
quoted from the play of Terence, let me please myself by bringing from
there also this sad complaint--

    "O deed of shame! now am I foil of woe.
    Weary I burn with love; with open eyes,
    Brain clear, I am undone; and what to do
    I know not."[20]

I would also call to mind this counsel from the same poet's words--

    "Think, while there's time, again and yet again."[21]

_S. Augustine._ And I likewise from the lips of Terence will give you
my reply--

    "What in itself contains no rule or reason,
    By rule or reason you can never hold."[22]

_Petrarch._ What is to be done, then? Am I to despair?

_S. Augustine._ That is the last thing in the world to do. However,
let me briefly tell you the remedy I propose. You know that on this
subject there are not only special treatises compiled by philosophers
of eminence, but that some of the most famous poets have written on it
whole books.

It would be almost an insult to point out which they are, above all, to
you who are a past-master in the whole field, or to offer any advice
as to reading them; but perhaps I might say a word without offence to
suggest in what way their study might be applied for your own welfare.

First, then, notice what is said by Cicero--

    "Some think that an old love can best be driven out by
    a new, as one nail is by another."[23]

And Ovid agrees, giving this general rule--

    "Old love affairs must always yield to new."[24]

And without a doubt it is the truth, for the mind thus divided and
parcelled out between different objects feels itself moved with less
force towards each one. So the river Ganges, they tell us, was divided
up by the Persian king into countless channels, and this river, that
was so deep and formidable, was cut up into a thousand inconsiderable
streamlets. And so an army, broken up and scattered, becomes vulnerable
by the enemy; so Fire dispersed dies down; in a word, every power in
the world, if concentrated, increases, but by dispersion is reduced. On
the other hand, I think this is not to be overlooked, that there may
be great danger when you lay aside a passion and, if one may say so,
a passion of the nobler kind; you may, if you are not watchful, fall
into dissipation of another sort, run after women and become a loose
libertine. In my judgment, then, if one must die for certain, there is
some consolation in dying of a nobler rather than a less noble wound.
So if you ask my advice, it is this: Take your courage in both hands.
Fly, if you possibly can; and I would even say, go from one prison to
another; perchance you might escape by the way or else find a milder
discipline to be under. Only beware, when your neck is freed from one
such yoke as this, that you place it not under the weight of a crowd of
more base and vile oppressions.

_S. Petrarch._ While the doctor is finishing his advice, will he allow
the patient, in the throes of his malady, to interrupt him for a minute?

_Augustine._ Of course. Why not? Many a doctor, guided by the symptoms
of his patient thus declared, has been able to find the very remedy he

_Petrarch._ Then what I want to say is just this: For me to love
another is impossible. My mind has grown only to love her; my eyes to
look only for her; excepting her, all to them is nothing, or is mere
darkness. And so if your remedy is that in order to be healed of this
love I should love another, your condition is an impossible one. In
that case all is over, and I am lost.

_S. Augustine._ Your senses are dulled, your appetite is lost; since
then you can take no internal remedy, one must have recourse to other
treatment and see what can be done by change of scene. Can you bring
your mind to think of flight or exile and going right away from the
places that you know?

_Petrarch_. Though I feel that her attraction draws me to her with
hooks of steel, nevertheless if I have to go, I can.

_S. Augustine_. If you can, you will be safe. What else can I say,
then, but this advice of Virgil's, changing only two little words--

    "Ah! flee this land beloved, and leave behind
    shore to thee so dear."[25]

For how can you continue in safety in these scenes where there are so
many memories of your wounds, where things present and the memory of
things past cling always to you? So that I say, as Cicero also advises,
"Seek change of scene; take care to do as one does who is recovering
from some illness."[26]

_Petrarch_. Think of what you are prescribing. For how often and
often, longing to get well, and familiar with advice like this, have I
tried this remedy of flight; and though I have feigned various other
reasons for it, yet the end and aim of all my peregrinations and all
my retirement to the country was this one thing--to become free! For
that I have wandered far away to the West, to the North, to the very
confines of the ocean. Far and wide have I roamed. You see what good
it has done me. And so Virgil's simile has many a time come home to my

    "E'en as the stricken deer, that unaware
    Rooming afar in pleasant groves of Crete,
    The hunter pierces with his weapon keen.
    And she unknowing o'er Mount Dicte's side
    Flees wounded, and the fatal arrow cleaves
    To her poor side."[27]

I am even as that deer. I have fled, but I bear everywhere my wound
with me.

_S. Augustine._ Yourself have given me the answer for which you look.

_Petrarch._ How so?

_S. Augustine_. Why, do you not see that if a man bears his wound with
him, change of scone is but an aggravation of his pain and not a means
of healing it? One might say your case is just that of the young man
who complained to Socrates that he had been a tour and it had done him
no good whatever. "You went touring with yourself,"[28] said the Sage.

You must first break off the old load of your passions; you must
make your soul ready. _Then_ you must fly. For it is proved to
demonstration, not only in things physical but in moral also, that
unless the patient is well disposed, the doctor's help is in vain.
Otherwise were you to go to the far-off Indies, you will find that
Horace only spoke truth when he said--

    "Who cross the ocean making peace their goal,
    Change but their sky and cannot change their soul."

Or thus--

    "We come to this; when o'er the world we range,
    'Tis but our climate, not our mind, we change."[29]

_Petrarch_. I must say I cannot follow you. You give me a prescription
to cure and heal my soul and tell me I must first heal it and then
flee. Now, my difficulty is I do not know how to heal it. If it is
cured, what more do I need? But if, again, it is not cured, what good
will change of scene bring me? The help you offer me is useless. Tell
me briefly what are the remedies I must use?

_S. Augustine._ I did not say that you must cure and heal your soul.
What I said was you must make it ready. As for the rest, either you
will be cured, and the change of scene will then establish your health
on a firm footing; or you will not yet be cured, but only made ready,
and then the change of scene will have the same ultimate result. But,
if your soul is neither cured nor made ready, this change and frequent
moving from place to place will only stir up its grief. I will still
advise you to take a leaf out of Horace's book--

    "For if the cure of mental ills is due
    To sense and wisdom, not a fine sea view,"[30]

--what he says is true. You will set out full of the hope and the wish
to return, carrying along with you all that has ensnared your soul.
In whatever place you are, to whatever side you turn, you will behold
the face, you will hear the voice of her whom you have left. By that
sad enchantment that belongs to lovers, you will have power to see her
though you are absent, and to hear her though she is far away; and
do you imagine that love is to be extinguished by subterfuges like
this? Believe me, it will rather burn more fiercely. Those who call
themselves masters in the art of love enjoin among their other maxims
short absences one from another on the part of lovers, for fear they
should become tired of seeing each other face to face or from their
importunity. Therefore I advise, I recommend, I enjoin upon you that
you learn to wholly sever your soul from that which weighs it down
and go away without hope of return. You will discover then, but not
before, what absence is able to do for the soul's healing. If fate had
placed your lot in some unhealthy plague-stricken region where you
were liable to constant illness, should you not flee from it never to
return? And so I counsel you to do now, unless, as I much fear, men
care more for their body than their soul.

_Petrarch_. That is their affair. But undoubtedly if I found myself ill
on account of the unhealthiness of the place I was in, I should choose
for my recovery some place with a healthier climate, and I should act
in the same way, and with stronger reasons still, in case of maladies
of the soul. Yet, as far as I can see, the cure of these is a more
difficult matter.

_S. Augustine_. The united testimony of the greatest philosophers
proves the falsity of that assertion. It is evident that all the
maladies of the soul can be healed if only the patient puts no obstacle
in the way, although many diseases of the body are incurable by any
known means. For the rest, and not to go too far from our subject, I
stick to my judgment. You must, as I said, make your soul ready, and
teach it to renounce the object of its love, never once to turn back,
never to see that which it was wont to look for. This is the only sure
road for a lover; and if you wish to preserve your soul from ruin, this
is what you must do.

_Petrarch._ That you may see how perfectly I have learned all you have
said, let me recapitulate that to go for change of scene is useless,
unless the soul is first made ready; such journeys will cure it when
made ready, and will establish it when once cured. Is not that the
conclusion of your threefold precept?

_S. Augustine._ Yes, it is precisely that, and you sum up very well
what I have unfolded.

_Petrarch._ I could have divined your two first truths by myself,
without you pointing them out; but as for the third, that the soul,
when it is cured and established in health, still needs absence, I
do not understand it, unless it is the fear of a relapse that is the
motive of what you say.

_S. Augustine._ But you surely do not suppose that to be a slight point
even in bodily health? And how much more grave a matter ought one to
think it in regard to the soul, where a relapse is so much more rapid
and dangerous. So I would say, let us refer once more to what seems one
of the soundest remarks of Seneca, where in a letter he writes, "If any
man wishes to have done with love he must avoid all recollection of
the beloved form," and adds as his reason, "For nothing is so easily
rekindled to life again as love."[31] O how true a saying is that,
and from what profound experience of life is he speaking! But it is
needless to call any other witness of this than your own knowledge will

_Petrarch._ Yes, I agree he speaks truth, but if you notice he is
speaking not of one who already has done with love, but of one who
wishes to have done with it.

_S. Augustine_. He speaks of any man who is in danger. Any kind of
blow is more dangerous if there is some wound before unhealed, or
some disease not yet cured; and even afterwards it is not safe. And
since we remember most, instances that have come home to us in our own
experience, let me ask how often have you who speak to me not found
yourself, as you went about these well-known spots, by their mere look,
though no person met you, reminded of your former vanities; standing
speechless, full of sighs, as you pace this town that has been, I will
not say the cause, but at any rate the scene of all your evils; though
before you came back to it you thought you were cured, and would have
been to a very great extent if only you had remained away? And then
with difficulty restraining your tears, half-wounded to death, you have
fled, and cried to your own heart, "Here in these places I see at every
turn the ambush of my ancient foe. The signs of death are ever about
me!" So, then, were you healed already, if you would take counsel of
me, I should say, "Do not stay long in this place. It is not wise for
the prisoner who has broken his chains to go wandering round the prison
gates, ever ready to take him in again, before which the jailer is ever
on guard, laying his traps with special care to recapture those whose
escape he regrets.

    "The downward path to hell is ever smooth,
    Its dismal gate is open night and day."[32]

If precautions like these are needful for men in health, how much
more are they in the case of those who have not yet shaken off their
sickness. It is of the latter that Seneca was thinking when he wrote
that maxim. He was giving counsel to those who were most in danger, for
it was no use to speak of those whom the flame had already devoured
and who were past all care for their safety. He addressed himself to
those in another stage, who still felt the heat but tried to come forth
of the flame. Many a sick man on the way to recovery has been thrown
back by a draught of water which before his illness would have done
him no harm; and often has one wearied out, with a long day's work,
been knocked down by some trifling shake which when he was in his full
strength would not have moved him at all.

It needs but a trifle sometimes, when the soul is emerging from its
miseries, to plunge it quite back once more into the abyss. To see the
purple on the shoulders of another will rouse again all our sleeping
ambition; the sight of a little pile of money sets up our thirst for
gold; one look at some fair lady will stir again our desire; the light
glance of an eye will awaken sleeping love.

It is no wonder plagues like these take possession of your minds, when
you see the madness of the world; and when once they have found their
way back to the soul, they come with fatal ease. And since it is so, it
is not enough merely to leave a plague-stricken spot, but you, O man,
must keep on in your flight for life, till you have escaped everything
that might drag the soul back to its old passions; for fear lest, when
you return from the pit with Orpheus and look back, you lose your
Eurydice once more.

Such is the sum of my counsel.

_Petrarch_. I accept it heartily and with thankfulness, for I feel that
the remedy is suited to my wound. My intention is to fly, but I know
not yet where lies the direction I should choose.

_S. Augustine._ A thousand ways are open to you to make choice of on
every side; a thousand ports are ready to receive you. I know that,
more than to other lands, your heart turns to Italy, and that a love of
your native soil is inborn in you; and you are right, for--

    "Not Media's forests rich, nor Ganges' stream,
    Though fair it be, nor Hermus rolling gold,
    May vie with Italy; Bactria and Ind,
    And all Pachaia with its odours rare
    Shall not be mentioned."[33]

I think you have yourself not long ago, in a letter to one of your
friends,[34] treated this theme of the famous Poet at fuller length in
a Latin poem. Italy then would be my choice for you; because the ways
of its people, its climate, the sea washing its shores, the Apennine
range coming between them, all promise that a sojourn there would be
better suited to extirpate your troubles than going anywhere else in
the world. I would not, however, wish to confine you only to one corner
of the land. Go under good auspices wherever inclination may lead; go
without fear and with a free mind; take no backward glances, forget
the past and step forward to the future. See how long you have been a
stranger to your own country and your own self. It is time to return,

    "O now 'tis evening, and the night
       Is chiefly friend to thieves."[35]

I warn you in words of your own.

One further counsel I must urge which I had nearly forgotten. You must
avoid solitude, until you are quite sure that you have not a trace of
your old ailment left. You told me that a country life had done you no
good. There is nothing surprising in that. What remedy were you likely
to find in a place all lonely and remote? Let me confess that often
when you were retreating thither all by yourself, sighing, and turning
longing eyes back to the town, I have laughed heartily and said to
myself: "What a blindfold fool love has made of this unhappy wight! and
led him to quite forget the verse that every schoolboy knows, about
flying from his trouble and finding his death."

_Petrarch_. I am afraid you are right, but what are the lines to which
you allude?

_S. Augustine._ Ovid, of course.

    "Lover! whoe'er you be, dwell not alone;
    In solitude you're sure to be undone.
    You're safer in a crowd; the word is true,
    Lone woods are not the place for such as you."[36]

_Petrarch_. Yes, I remember them perfectly, and knew them almost by
heart from my childhood.

_S. Augustine._ Much good has it done you to know so many things yet
not know how to suit them to your need. When you not only know all
the testimony of the ancients, but have yourself proved the evils of
solitude, it astonishes me that you should commit such a blunder as to
seek it. You have, in fact, often complained that there was no good in
being alone. You have expressed it in a thousand places, and especially
in the fine poem you composed on your own misfortune. The sweet accents
of it charmed me while you were writing.[37]

It surprised me to hear a song so harmonious arise from a soul so full
of agitation, and come from the lips of a man so far out of his senses
and I asked myself what power of love can stay the offended Muses from
abandoning so dire a nest of troubles, and, scared by such aberration
of mind in their host, forsaking utterly their wonted dwelling? I
thought of words of Plato, "Let no man wholly sane knock at Poe try'd
door," and then of Aristotle, who followed him and said, "All great
genius has a touch of madness in it,"[38] but I remembered that in
these sayings of theirs they were thinking of a frenzy far indeed
removed from yours. However, we will return to this subject at some
other time.

_Petrarch_. I must fain own what you say is the truth; but I never
thought to have made verses so harmonious as to be worth your praise
and commendation. They will be all the dearer to me now that I know it.

If you have other remedy to offer me, I beg you withhold it not from
him who is in need.

_S. Augustine_. To unfold all one knows is the act of a braggart more
than of a wise friend. And remember that men did not invent all the
sundry kinds of remedies, internal and external, for diverse kinds of
sickness, on purpose that each and every one should be tried on every
occasion; but that, as Seneca remarks to Lucilius, "Nothing is so
contrary to the work of healing as a frequent change of remedy; and
no wound will ever be healed perfectly, to which first one and then
another medicine is continually applied. The true way is only to try
the new when the old remedy has failed."[39]

So, then, although the remedies for this kind of ailment are many and
varied, I will content myself with only pointing out a few, and I will
choose those which in my judgment will best suit your need. For indeed,
I have no wish merely to show you what is new, but only to tell you, of
all those which are known, what remedies, so far as I can judge, are
most likely in your case to be efficacious.

There are three things, as Cicero says, that will avert the mind of man
from Love,--Satiety, Shamefastness, Reflection.[40]

There may indeed be more; there may be less. But, to follow the steps
of so great an authority, let us suppose there are three. It will be
useless for me to speak of the first in your case, because you will
judge it is impossible you should ever come to satiety of your love.
But still if your passion will hear the voice of reason and judge the
future from the past, you will readily agree that an object, even
the most beloved, can produce, I do not say satiety only, but even
weariness and disgust. Now, as I am quite sure I should be entering
on a vain quest if I embark on this track, because, even if it were
granted that satiety is a possible thing, and that it kills love, you
will pretend that by the ardour of your passion you are a thousand
leagues removed from any such possibility, and, as I am not at all
disposed to deny it, what remains is for me to touch only upon the
other two remedies that are left. You will not wish to dispute my
assertion that Nature has endowed you with a certain power of reason,
and also with some talent for forming a weighty judgment.

_Petrarch._ Unless I am deceived by acting as judge in my own cause,
what you say is so true that I am often inclined to fear I am too
wanting in what is due both to my sex and this age; wherein, as
you doubtless observe, everything goes to the shameless. Honours,
prosperity, wealth--all these hold the field; and to these, virtue
itself, nay even fortune, must give way.[41]

_S. Augustine._ Do you not see what conflict there is between Love and
Shamefastness? While the one urges the soul forward, the other holds it
back; the one drives in the spur, the other pulls hard at the bridle;
the one looks at nothing, the other watches carefully on every side.

_Petrarch_. This is only too familiar to me, and I feel to my cost
how distracted is my life by passions so contrary. They come upon me
by turn, so that my poor spirit, tossed hither and thither, knows not
which impulse to obey.

_S. Augustine._ Do you mind telling me if you have looked in your glass

_Petrarch._ And, pray, what do you ask that question for? I have only
done as usual.

_S. Augustine._ Heaven grant you do it no oftener, neither with more
self-complacency, than you should! Well, and have you not noticed that
your face is changing from day to day, and that from time to time grey
hairs begin to show themselves around your temples?

_Petrarch._ Is that all? I thought you were about to ask me something
out of the common; but to grow up, to grow old, to die is the common
lot of all that are born. I have observed what befalls almost all my
contemporaries; for nowadays men seem to age more quickly than they
used to, though I know not why or wherefore.

_S. Augustine._ The growing old of others will not give you back your
youth, neither will their dying bring you immortality. So let us leave
on one side everything else and return to your own case. Tell me; when
you have noticed these signs of change in your body, has it not brought
some change also in your soul?

_Petrarch._ It has certainly made some impression on me, but not
exactly a change.

_S. Augustine._ What, then, were your thoughts, and what did you say to

_Petrarch._ What would you have me say, except what was said by
Domitian the Emperor, "With even mind I brook the sight of watching,
though still young, my hairs grow grey."[42] So illustrious an example
has consoled me for what grey hairs I too behold. And if I needed more,
I brought to mind a king beside that emperor; I mean Numa Pompilius
the Second, who, as the historian relates, had grey hair even from
his youth. And Poetry as well as History comes to my aid, since in
his Bucolics our own Virgil, writing when he was but five-and-twenty,
speaking of himself in the person of a shepherd, exclaims--

    "When now my whitening beard the razor knew."[43]

_S. Augustine._ What vast abundance of examples you can command! Pray
heaven you have as many recollections of your own death. For I praise
not those exemplars that lead one to dissemble grey hairs which are
the heralds of old age, and the _avant-couriers_ of Death. And good
those examples are not, if their effect is to take you off the trouble
of remembering how time flies, and to lead you to forget your own
last hour; to the recollection of which the whole of my discourse is
entirely and without ceasing directed. When I bid you think on your own
whitening forehead, do you quote me a crowd of famous men whose locks
were white also? What does it prove? Ah, if you were able to say these
were immortal, then you might from their example put away the dread of
your changing brow. If instead of mentioning greyness I had ventured
to hint that you were getting bald, you would, I suppose, have thrown
Julius Cæsar in my teeth!

_Petrarch_. Certainly. What more illustrious example could I need?
Now, unless I am mistaken, it is in fact a great comfort to find
oneself surrounded by companions so famous. Yes, I will freely admit
that I am not disposed for a moment to reject such examples, which
are, for me, part of the luggage I carry daily in my mind; for it is a
pleasure to me not only in such misfortunes as Nature or chance have
already allotted me, but also in those which they may still have in
store; it is a pleasure, I say, to have ever at hand such matter of
comfort and consolation as I can obtain only from some truly cogent
reason or outstanding example.

If, then, you meant to reproach me for being afraid of thunder--a
charge I could not deny (and one of the chief reasons why I love the
laurel is because it is said that thunder will not strike this tree),
then I shall reply to you that this was a weakness Cæsar Augustus
shared; if you allege that I am getting blind (and there also you
would be right), I should quote you Appius Cæcus and also Homer, the
Prince of Poets; if you call me one-eyed, I will, shield myself behind
Hannibal, the Punic leader, or Philip, King of Macedon; call me deaf,
and Marcus Crassus shall be my defence; say I cannot stand the heat,
and I will say I am but like Alexander, Prince of Macedonia.

It were tedious to go through all the list; but after these you can
judge who they would be.

_S. Augustine._ Yes, perfectly. I am nowise displeased with your
wealth of instances, provided it does not make you self-negligent and
only serves to disperse the clouds of fear and sadness. I applaud
anything that helps a man to face with courage the coming of old age,
and keeps him from bewailing its presence when it has arrived. But I
loathe and abominate profoundly everything that conceals from him the
truth that old age is the port of departure from this life, and blinds
him to the need of reflecting on death. To take with equanimity the
going grey before one's time is the sign of a good natural disposition;
but to try and interpose artificial checks, to cheat time of his years,
to raise an outcry and declare grey hairs are come too soon, to begin
dyeing or plucking them out, is a piece of folly, which, common as it
may be, is none the less egregious for all that.

You perceive not, O blind that you are, how swiftly the stars roll
in their course, and how soon the flight of time consumes the space
of your short life, and you marvel when you see old age coming on,
hastening quickly the despatch of all your days.

Two causes seem to foster this delusion. The first is that even the
shortest life is partitioned out by some people into four, by others
into six, and by others again into a still larger number of periods;
that is to say, the reality is so small, and as you cannot make it
longer, you think you will enlarge it by division. But of what profit
tis all this dividing? Make as many particles as you like, and they are
all gone in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

    "Yesterday was born the baby,
       See to-day the lovely boy,
     Then the young man quick as may be,
       Then an end of life and joy."

You observe with what quick hurrying words the subtle poet has sketched
out the swift course of our life. So it is in vain you strive to
lengthen out what Nature, the mother of us all, has made so short.

The second cause is that you will persist in letting old age find you
still in the midst of games and empty pleasures; like the old Trojans
who in their customary ways passed the last night without perceiving.

    "The cunning, fatal horse, who bore within
    Those armed bands, had overleapt the wall
    Of Pergamos."[44]

Yes, even so you perceive not that old age, bringing in his train
the armed warrior Death, unpitying and stem, has over-leapt the
weakly-guarded rampart of your body; and then you find your foe has
already glided by stealth along his rope--

    "And now the invader climbs within the gate
    And takes the city in its drunken sleep."[45]

For in the gross body and the pleasure of things temporal, not less
drunk are you than those old Trojans were, as Virgil saw them, in their
slumber and their wine.

Or, looking to another quarter, no less truth is to be found in the
neat lines of the Satirist--

"Our lives unfold in morning air As lilies of a day, 'Come bring us
wine,' we shout. 'Ho, there, Fetch garlands, odours, damsels fair.' But
ah! before we are aware, Old Age sweeps all away."[46]

Now, to come back to our subject and to yourself, when this old age
comes stealing on and knocks at your door, you make an effort to
bar him out. You pretend that by some infraction of the order of
Nature he has come too soon. You are delighted when you come across
some rather elderly person who declares he knew you when you were a
child, especially if, as people generally do, he makes out it was but
yesterday or the day before. You find it convenient to forget that one
can say as much about any old dotard however decrepit. Who was not a
child yesterday, or to-day, as far as that goes?

We can look here and there and find infants of ninety quarrelling about
trifles and even now occupied with infantine toys. The days flee away,
the body decays, the soul is where it was. Though everything is rotten
with age, the soul has never grown up, never come to maturity, and
it is a truth, as the proverb says, "One soul uses up many bodies."
Infancy passes, but, as Seneca remarks, "childishness remains."[47]
And, believe me, perhaps you are not so young as you imagine, for the
greater part of mankind have not yet reached the age which you have.

Blush, therefore, to pass for an aged lover; blush to be so long the
Public's jest; and if true glory has no charm for you and ridicule no
terror, at least let change of heart come to the rescue and save you
from disgrace. For, if I see things at all truly, a man should guard
his reputation, if only to spare his own friends the shameful necessity
of telling lies. All the world owes this to itself, but especially such
a man as yourself, who have so great a public to justify, and one which
is always talking of you.

    "Great is the task to guard a great man's name."[48]

If in your poem of _Africa_ you make a truculent enemy tender such
good counsel to your beloved Scipio, you may well allow, for your own
profit, a father, who loves you tenderly, to utter with his lips the
very same monition.

Put away the childish things of infancy; quench the burning desires
of youth; think not all the time of what you are going to be and do
next; look carefully what you are now; do not imagine that the mirror
has been put before your eyes for nothing, but remember that which is
written in the Book of Questions on Nature:--

"Mirrors were invented that men might know themselves. Much profit
comes thereby. First, knowledge of self; second, wise counsel. You are
handsome, then beware of what disfigures: plain, then make up by virtue
what is wanting in good looks. You are young, then remember youth's
springtime is the time for study and for manly work: old, then lay
aside the ugly vices off the flesh and turn your thoughts to what will
be the latter end."[49]

_Petrarch_. It has dwelt in my remembrance always, from the first day
that ever I read it; for the thing itself is worth remembering and its
warning is wise.

_S. Augustine._ Of what profit has it been to you to read and remember?
You had better excused yourself had you pleaded ignorance for your
shield. Knowing what you do, are you not ashamed to see that your grey
hairs have brought no change in you?

_Petrarch._ I am ashamed, I regret it, I repent of it, but as for doing
more, I cannot. Moreover, you know I have this much of consolation,
that she too is growing old with me.

_S. Augustine._ The very word of Julia, Cæsar Augustus' daughter!
Doubtless it has lain fixed in your mind, has it not? When her father
found fault because she would not have older people round her, as did
Livia, she parried the paternal reproof by the neat rejoinder--"They
will be older as soon as I am."[50]

But pray, tell me, do you suppose that at your age it will be more
becoming to doat upon an old woman than to love a young one? On the
contrary, it is the more unbecoming, as the reason for loving is less.
Well may you take shame to yourself never to grow any wiser though you
see your body daily growing older. That is all I can say on the subject
of shame.

But, as Cicero tells us, it is but a poor thing to make shame do the
work of reason; and so to reason, the true source of all remedies, let
us now turn for help. You will assuredly find it through using deep
Reflection--the third of the things that turn the soul away from love.
Remember what you are now called to is that citadel wherein alone you
can be quite safe against the incursions of passion and by which alone
you will deserve the name of Man. Consider, then, first how noble a
thing is the soul, and that so great is it that were I to discourse
as I should wish, I must needs make a whole book thereon. Consider,
again, the frailty and vileness of the body, which would demand no
less full treatment than the other. Think also of the shortness of our
life, concerning which many great men have left their books. Think
of the flight of time, that no one yet has been able to express in
words. Think of Death, the fact so certain, the hour so uncertain, but
everywhere and at all times imminent. Think how men are deceived just
in this one point, that they believe they can put off what in fact
never can be put off: for no one is really such a fool as, supposing
the question is asked him, not to answer that of course some day he
will die. And so let not the hope of longer life mock you, as it mocks
so many others, but rather lay up in your heart the verse that seems as
it were an oracle of heaven--

    "Count every day that dawns to be your last,"[51]

For is it not so that to mortal men every day is in truth the last,
or all but the last? Consider, moreover, how shameful it is to have
men point the finger at you, and to become a public laughing-stock;
remember, too, how ill your profession accords with a life like this.
Think how this woman has injured your soul, your body, your fortune.
Remember what you have borne for her, all to no purpose: how many times
you have been mocked, despised, scorned; think what flatteries, what
lamentations, and of all the tears you have cast upon the wind; think
how again and again she has heaped all this on you with an air of
haughty disdain, and how if for a moment she showed herself more kind,
it was but for the passing of a breath and then was gone.

Think, moreover, how much you have added to her fame, and of what she
has subtracted from your life: how you have ever been jealous for her
good name, but she has been always regardless of your very self and
condition. Remember how she has turned you aside from loving God, and
into how great miseries you have fallen, known to me, but which I pass
in silence lest the birds of the air carry the matter abroad.

Think, moreover, what tasks on all sides are claiming your attention,
and by which you may do far more good and deserve far more honour: how
many things you have on hand, as yet uncompleted, to which it would
be far better for you to return, and devote more time, instead of
attempting them so perfunctorily as you have en doing lately.

Finally, ponder well what that thing is for which you have such
consuming desire. But think like a man and with your wits about you;
for fear lest while you are in the act of flying you be cunningly
entangled, as not a few have been when Beauty's fascinating charm
steals upon them by some little, unlooked-for channel, and then is fed
and strengthened by evil remedies.

For how be there that have once tasted this seductive pleasure and
can retain enough manliness, not to say courage, to rate at its true
value that poor form of woman of which I speak. Only too easily Man's
strength of mind gives way, and with nature pressing on, he falls
soonest on that side to which he has long leaned. Take most earnest
heed that this happen not to you. Banish every recollection of those
old cares of yours: put far away from you every vision of the past,
and, as one has said in a certain place, "dash the little children
against the stones,"[52] lest if they grow up you yourself be cast into
the mire. And defer not to knock at Heaven's door with prayers; let
your supplications weary the ears of the heavenly King; day and night
lift up your petition with tears and crying, if perchance the Almighty
will take compassion upon you and give an end to your sore trouble and

These are the things that you must do, these the safeguards you must
employ; if you will observe them faithfully the Divine Help will be at
hand, as I trust; and the right hand of the Deliverer whom none can
resist will succour you.

But albeit I have spoken on this one malady what is too short for your
needs but too long for the briefness of our time, let us pass now to
another matter. One evil still is left, to heal you of which I now will
make a last endeavour.

_Petrarch._ Even so do, most gentle Father. For though I be not yet
wholly set free from my burdens, yet, nevertheless, from great part of
them I do feel in truth a blessed release.

_S. Augustine._ Ambition still has too much hold on you. You seek too
eagerly the praise of men, and to leave behind you an undying name.

_Petrarch._ I freely confess it. I cannot beat down that passion in my
soul. For it, as yet, I have found no cure.

_S. Augustine_. But I greatly fear lest this pursuit of a false
immortality of fame may shut for you the way that leads to the true
immortality of life.

_Petrarch._ That is one of my fears also, but I await your discovering
to me the means to save my life; you, of a truth, will do it, who have
furnished me with means for the healing of evils greater still.

_S. Augustine_. Think not that any of your ills is greater than this
one, though I deny not that some may be more vile.

But tell me, I pray you, what in your opinion is this thing called
glory, that you so ardently covet?

_Petrarch._ I know not if you ask me for a definition. But if so, who
so capable to give one as yourself?

_S. Augustine._ The name of glory is well enough known to you; but to
the real thing, if one may judge by your actions, you are a stranger.
If you had known what it is you would not long for it so eagerly.
Suppose you define glory, with Cicero, as being "the illustrious
and world-wide renown of good services rendered to one's fellow
citizens, to one's country, or to all mankind"; or as he expresses it
elsewhere, "Public opinion uttering its voice about a man in words of
praise."[53] You will notice that in both these cases glory is said to
be reputation. Now, do you know what this reputation is?

_Petrarch._ I cannot say any good description of it occurs to me at the
moment; and I shrink from putting forward things I do not understand. I
think, therefore, the truer and better course is for me to keep silence.

_S. Augustine_. You act like a wise and modest man. In every serious
question, and especially when the matter is ambiguous, one should pay
much less attention to what one will say than to what one will not say,
for the credit of having said well is something much less than the
discredit of having said ill. Now I submit to you that reputation is
nothing but talk about some one, passing from mouth to mouth of many

_Petrarch._ I think your definition, or, if you prefer the word, your
description, is a good one.

_S. Augustine_. It is, then, but a breath, a changing wind; and, what
will disgust you more, it is the breath of a crowd. I know to whom I am
speaking. I have observed that no man more than you abhors the manners
and behaviour of the common herd. Now see what perversity is this! You
let yourself be charmed with the applause of those whose conduct you
abominate; and may Heaven grant you are only charmed, and that you put
not in their power your own everlasting welfare! Why and wherefore,
I ask, this perpetual toil, these ceaseless vigils, and this intense
application to study? You will answer, perhaps, that you seek to find
out what is profitable for life. But you have long since learned what
is needful for life and for death.

What was now required of you was to try and put in practice what you
know, instead of plunging deeper and deeper into laborious inquiries,
where new problems are always meeting you, and insoluble mysteries,
in which you never reach the end. Add to which the fact that you keep
toiling and toiling to satisfy the public; wearying yourself to please
the very people who, to you, are the most displeasing; gathering now a
flower of poesy, now of history--in a word, employing all your genius
of words to tickle the ears of the listening throng.

_Petrarch_. I beg your pardon, but I cannot let that pass without
saying a word. Never since I was a boy have I pleased myself with
elegant extracts and flowerets of literature. For often have I noted
what neat and excellent things Cicero has uttered against butchers of
books, and especially, also, the phrase of Seneca in which he declares,
"It is a disgrace for a man to keep hunting for flowers and prop
himself up on familiar quotations, and only stand on what he knows by

_S. Augustine._ In saying what I did, I neither accuse you of idleness
nor scant memory. What I blame you for is that in your reading you have
picked out the more flowery passages for the amusement of your cronies,
and, as it were, packed up boxes of pretty things out of a great heap,
for the benefit of your friends--which is nothing but pandering to a
desire of vainglory; and, moreover, I say that, not being contented
with your duty of every day (which, in spite of great expense of time,
only promised you some celebrity among your contemporaries), you have
let your thoughts run on ages of time and given yourself up to dreams
of fame among those who come after. And in pursuit of this end, putting
your hand to yet greater tasks, you entered on writing a history from
the time of King Romulus to that of the Emperor Titus, an enormous
undertaking that would swallow up an immensity of time and labour.
Then, without waiting till this was finished, goaded by the pricks of
your ambition for glory, you sailed off in your poetical barque towards
Africa; and now on the aforesaid books of your _Africa_ you are hard at
work, without relinquishing the other. And in this way you devote your
whole life to those two absorbing occupations--for I will not stop to
mention the countless others that come in also--and throw utterly away
what is of most concern and which, when lost, cannot be recovered. You
write books on others, but yourself you quite forget. And who knows but
what, before either of your works be finished, Death may snatch the pen
from your tired hand, and while in your insatiable hunt for glory you
hurry on first by one path, then the other, you may find at last that
by neither of them have you reached your goal?

_Petrarch._ Fears of that kind have sometimes come over me, I confess.
And knowing I suffered from grave illness, I was afraid death might
not be far off. Nothing then was more bitter to me than the thought of
leaving my _Africa_ half finished. Unwilling that another hand should
put the finishing touch, I had determined that with my own I would cast
it to the flames, for there was none of my friends whom I could trust
to do me this service after I was gone. I knew that a request like
that was the only one of our Virgil's which the Emperor Cæsar Augustus
declined to grant. To make a long story short, this land of Africa,
burnt already by that fierce sun to which it is for ever exposed,
already three times by the Roman torches devastated far and wide, had
all but yet again, by my hands, been made a prey to the flames.

But of that we will say no more now, for too painful are the
recollections that it brings.

_S. Augustine._ What you have said confirms my opinion. The day of
reckoning is put off for a short time, but the account remains still
to be paid. And what can be more foolish than thus to waste such
enormous labour over a thing of uncertain issue? I know what prevents
you abandoning the work is simply that you still hope you may complete
it. As I see that there will be some difficulty (unless I am mistaken)
in getting you to diminish this hope, I propose we try to magnify it
and so set it out in words that you will see how disproportionate it is
to toils like yours. Suppose, therefore, that you have full abundance
of time, leisure, and freedom of mind; let there be no failure of
intellect, no languor of body, none of those mischances of fortune
which, by checking the first onrush of expression, so often stop the
ready writer's pen; let all things go better even than you had dared to
wish--still, what considerable work do you expect to achieve?

_Petrarch._ Oh, certainly, one of great excellence, quite out of the
common and likely to attract attention.

_S. Augustine._ I have no wish to seem contradictory: let us suppose
it may be a work of great excellence. But if you knew of what greater
excellence still is the work which this will hinder, you would abhor
what you now desire. For I will go so far as to assert that this work
of yours is, to begin with, taking off your attention from cares of a
nobler kind; and, greatly excellent as you think it, has no wide scope
nor long future before it, circumscribed as it must be by time and

_Petrarch._ Well do I know that old story bandied about by the
philosophers, how they declare that all the earth is but a tiny point,
how the soul alone endures for infinite millions of years, how fame
cannot fill either the earth or the soul, and other paltry pleas of
this sort, by which they try to turn minds aside from the love of
glory. But I beg you will produce some more solid arguments than
these, if you know any; for experience has shown me that all this is
more specious than convincing. I do not think to become as God, or to
inhabit eternity, or embrace, heaven and earth. Such glory as belongs
to man is enough for me. That is all I sigh after. Mortal myself, it is
but mortal blessings I desire.

_S. Augustine._ Oh, if that is what you truly mean, how wretched are
you! If you have no desire for things immortal, if no regard for what
is eternal, then you are indeed wholly of the earth earthy: then all is
over for you; no hope at all is left.

_Petrarch._ Heaven defend me from such folly! But my conscience is
witness, and knows what have been my desires, that never have I
ceased to love with burning zeal the things eternal. I said--or if,
perchance, I am mistaken, I intended to say--that my wish was to use
mortal things for what they were worth, to do no violence to nature
by bringing to its good things a limitless and immoderate desire, and
so to follow after human fame as knowing that both myself and it will

_S. Augustine._ There you speak as a wise man. But when you declare you
are willing to rob yourself of the riches that will endure merely for
the sake of what you own is a perishing breath of applause--then you
are a fool indeed.

_Petrarch_. True, I may be postponing those riches, but not
relinquishing them altogether.

_S. Augustine._ But how dangerous is such delay, remembering that
time flies fast and how uncertain our short life is. Let me ask you a
question, and I beg you to answer it. Suppose that He who alone can fix
our time of life and death were this day to assign you one whole year,
and you had the definite certainty of how would you propose to use that

_Petrarch_. Assuredly I should use great economy of time, and be
extremely, careful to employ it on serious things; and I suppose no man
alive would be so insolent or foolish as to answer your question in any
other way.

_S. Augustine._ You have answered rightly. And yet the folly men
display in this case is matter of astonishment, not to me only but to
all those who have ever written on this subject. To set forth what
they feel, they have combined every faculty they possess and employed
all their eloquence, and even then the truth itself will leave their
utmost efforts far behind.

_Petrarch._ I fear I do not understand the motive of so great

_S. Augustine._ It is because you are covetous of uncertain riches and
altogether wasteful of those which are eternal, doing the very contrary
of what you ought to do, if you were not quite devoid of wisdom.

So this space of a year, though short enough indeed, being promised
you by Him who deceives not, neither is deceived, you would partition
out and dissipate on any kind of folly, provided you could keep the
last hour for the care of your salvation! The horrible and hateful
madness of you all is just this, that you waste your time on ridiculous
vanities, as if there were enough and to spare, and though you do not
in the least know if what you have will be long enough for the supreme
necessities of the soul in face of death. The man who has one year of
life possesses something certain though short; whereas he who has no
such promise and lies under the power of death (whose stroke may fall
at any moment), which is the common lot of all men--this man, I say, is
not sure of a year, a day; no, not even of one hour. He who has a year
to live, if six months shall have slipped away, will still have another
half-year left to run; but for you, if you lose the day that now is,
who will promise you to-morrow?[55]

It is Cicero who says: "It is certain that we must die: what is
uncertain is whether it will be to-day; and there is none so young
that-he can be sure he will live until the evening."[56] I ask, then,
of you, and I ask it likewise of all those who stand gaping after the
future and pay no heed to the present, "Who knows if the high gods will
add even one morrow to this your little day of life?"[57]

_Petrarch_. If I am to answer for myself and for all: No one knows, of
a truth. But let us hope for a year at least; on which, if we are still
to follow Cicero, even the most aged reckons!

_S. Augustine._ Yes; and, as he also adds, not old men only but young
ones too are fools in that they cherish false hope, and promise
themselves uncertain goods as though they were certain.[58]

But let us take for granted (what is quite impossible) that the
duration of life will be long and assured: still, do you not find it is
the height of madness to squander the best years and the best parts of
your existence on pleading only the eyes of others and tickling other
men's ears, and to keep the last and worst--the years that are almost
good for nothing--that bring nothing but distaste for life and then its
end--to keep these, I say, for God and yourself, as though the welfare
of your soul were the last thing you cared for?

Even supposing the time were certain, is it not reversing the true
order to put off the best to the last?

_Petrarch._ I do not think my way of looking at it is so unreasonable
as you imagine. My principle in that, as concerning the glory which we
may hope for here below, it is right for us to seek while we are here
below. One may expect to enjoy that other more radiant glory in heaven,
when we shall have there arrived, and when one will have no more care
or wish for the glory of earth. Therefore, as I think, it is in the
true order that mortal men should first care for mortal things; and
that to things transitory things eternal should succeed; because to
pass from those to these is to go forward in most certain accordance
with what is ordained for us, although no way is open for us to pass
back again from eternity to time.

_S. Augustine._ O man, little in yourself, and of little wisdom! Do
you, then, dream that you shall enjoy every pleasure in heaven and
earth, and everything will turn out fortunate and prosperous for you
always and everywhere? But that delusion has betrayed thousands of
men thousands of times, and has sunk into hell a countless host of
souls. Thinking to have one foot on earth and one in heaven, they
could neither stand here below nor mount on high. Therefore they fell
miserably, and the moving breeze swept them suddenly away, some in the
flower of their age, and some when they were in midst of their years
and all their business.

And do you suppose what has befallen so many others may not befall you?
Alas! if (which may God forefend!) in the midst of all your plans and
projects you should be cut off--what grief, what shame, what remorse
(then too late!) that you should have grasped at all and lost all!

_Petrarch._ May the Most High in His mercy save me from that misery!

_S. Augustine._ Though Divine Mercy may deliver a man from his folly,
yet it will not excuse it. Presume not upon this mercy overmuch. For
if God abhors those who lose hope, He also laughs at those who in
false hope put their trust. I was sorry when I heard fall from your
lips that phrase about despising what you called the old story of
the philosophers on this matter. Is it, then, an old story, pray, by
figures of geometry, to show how small is all the earth, and to prove
it but an island of little length and width? Is it an old story to
divide the earth into five zones, the largest of which, lying in the
centre, is burned by the heat of the sun, and the two utmost, to right
and left, are a prey to binding frost and eternal snow, which leave
not a corner where man can dwell; but those other two, between the
middle and two utmost zones, are inhabited by man? Is it an old story
that this habitable part is divided again into two parts, whereof one
is placed under your feet, guarded by a vast sea, and the other is
left you to inhabit everywhere, or, according to some authorities, is
again in two parts subdivided, with but one part habitable and the
other surrounded by the winding intricacies of the Northern Ocean,
preventing all access to it? As to that part under your feet, called
the antipodes, you are aware that for a long time the most learned men
have been of two opinions whether it is inhabited or not: for myself, I
have set forth my opinion in the book called _The City of God_, which
you have doubtless read. Is it also an old story that your habitable
part, already so restricted, is yet further diminished to such an
extent by seas, marshes, forests, sand and deserts, that the little
corner left you, of which you are so proud, is brought down to almost
nothing? And, finally, is it an old story to point out to you that on
this narrow strip, where you dwell, there are divers kinds of life,
different religions which oppose one another, different languages and
customs, which render it impossible to make the fame of your name go

But if these things are to you nought but fables, so, to me, all I had
promised myself of your future greatness must be a fable also; for I
had thought, hitherto, that no man had more knowledge of these things
than you yourself To say nothing of the conceptions of Cicero and
Virgil and other systems of knowledge, physical or poetic, of which you
seemed to have a competent knowledge, I knew that not long since, in
your _Africa,_ you had expressed the very same opinions in these pretty

    "The Universe itself is but an isle
    Confined in narrow bounds, small, and begirt
    By Ocean's flowing waves."[59]

You have added other developments later on, and now that I know you
think them all fables, I am astonished you have put them forth with
such hardihood.

What shall I say now of the brief existence of human fame, the short,
short span of time, when you know too well how small and recent even
the oldest memory of man is if compared to eternity? I spare to call to
your mind those opinions of the men of old, laid up in Plato's _Timæus_
and in the sixth book of Cicero's _Republic,_ where it is foretold what
floods and conflagrations shall be coming not seldom on the earth. To
many men such things have seemed probable; but they wear a different
aspect to those who, like yourself, have come to know the true religion.

And besides these, how many other things there are that militate
against, I do not say the eternity, but even the survival of one's
name. First there is the death of those with whom one has passed
one's life; and that forgetfulness which is the common bane of old
age: then there is the rising fame, ever growing greater, of new men;
which always, by its freshness, is somewhat derogatory to that of those
who went before, and seems to mount up higher just in so far as it
can depress this other down. Then you must add, also, that persistent
envy which ever dogs the steps of those who embark on any glorious
enterprise; and the hatred of Truth itself, and the fact that the very
life of men of genius is odious to the crowd. Think, too, how fickle is
the judgment of the multitude. And alas for the sepulchres of the dead!
to shatter which--

    "The wild fig's barren branch is strong enough,"[60]

as Juvenal has told us.

In your own _Africa_ you call this, elegantly enough, "a second death";
and if I may here address to you the same words you have put in the
mouth of another--

    "The animated bust and storied urn
    Shall fall, and with them fall thy memory,
    And thou, my son, thus taste a second death."[61]

Lo, then, how excellent, how undying that glory must be which the fall
of one poor stone can bring to nought!

And, then, consider the perishing of books wherein your name has
been written, either by your own hand or another's. Even though that
perishing may appear so much more delayed as books outlast monuments,
nevertheless it is sooner or later inevitable; for, as is the case with
everything else, there are countless natural or fortuitous calamities
to which books are ever exposed. And even if they escape all these,
they, like us, grow old and die--

    "For whatsoever mortal hand has made,
    With its vain labour, shall be mortal too,"[62]

if one may be allowed, for choice, to refute your childish error by
your own words.

What need to say more? I shall never cease to bring to your
recollection lines of your own making which only too truly fit the case.

    "When your books perish you shall perish too;
    This is the third death, still to be endured."[63]

And now you know what I think about glory.

Perhaps I have used more words in expressing it than was needful for
you or me; and yet fewer, I believe, than the importance of the subject
demands--unless perchance you still think all these things only an old

_Petrarch_. No indeed. What you have been saying--so far from seeming
to me like old stories--has stirred in me a new desire to get rid of
my old delusions. For albeit that these things were known to me long
ago, and that I have heard them oftentimes repeated, since, as Terence
puts it--

    "Everything that one can say
    Has all been said before,"[64]

nevertheless the stateliness of phrase, the orderly narration, the
authority of him who speaks, cannot but move me deeply.

But I have yet a last request to make, which is that you will give me
your definite judgment on this point. Is it your wish that I should put
all my studies on one side and renounce every ambition, or would you
advise some middle course?

_S. Augustine._ I will never advise you to live without ambition; but
I would always urge you to put virtue before glory. You know that
glory is in a sense the shadow of virtue. And therefore, just as it
is impossible that your body should not cast a shadow if the sun is
shining, so it is impossible also in the light of God Himself that
virtues should exist and not make their glory to appear. Whoever, then,
would take true glory away must of necessity take away virtue also; and
when that is gone man's life is left bare, and only resembles that of
the brute beasts that follow headlong their appetite, which to them is
their only law. Here, therefore, is the rule for you to live by--follow
after virtue and let glory take care of itself; and as for this, as
some one said of Cato, the less you seek it the more you will find it.
I must once more allow myself to invoke your own witness--

    "Thou shalt do well from Honour's self to flee,
    For then shell Honour follow after thee."[65]

Do you not recognise the verse? It is your own. One would surely think
that man a fool who at midday should run here and there in the blaze
of the sun, wearing himself out to see his shadow and point it out
to others; now the man shows no more sense or reason who, amid the
anxieties of life, takes huge trouble, first one way, then another, to
spread his own glory abroad.

What then? Let a man march steadily to the goal set before him, his
shadow will follow him step by step: let him so act that he shall make
virtue his prize, and lo! glory also shall be found at his side. I
speak of that glory which is virtue's true companion; as for that which
comes by other means, whether from bodily grace or mere cleverness, in
the countless ways men have invented, it does not seem to me worthy of
the name. And so, in regard to yourself, while you are wearing your
strength out by such great labours in writing books, if you will allow
me to say so, you are shooting wide of the mark. For you are spending
all your efforts on things that concern others, and neglecting those
that are your own; and so, through this vain hope of glory, the time,
so precious, though you know it not, is passing away.

_Petrarch._ What must I do, then? Abandon my unfinished works? Or would
it be better to hasten them on, and, if God gives me grace, put the
finishing touch to them? If I were once rid of these cares I would go
forward, with a mind more free, to greater things; for hardly could I
bear the thought of leaving half completed a work so fine and rich in
promise of success.

_S. Augustine._ Which foot you mean to hobble on, I do not know. You
seem inclined to leave yourself derelict, rather than your books.

As for me, I shall do my duty, with what success depends on you; but
at least I shall have satisfied my conscience. Throw to the winds
those great loads of histories; the deeds of the Romans have been
celebrated quite enough by others, and are known by their own fame.
Get out of Africa and leave it to its possessors. You will add nothing
to the glory of your Scipio or to your own. He can be exalted to no
higher pinnacle, but you may bring down his reputation, and with it
your own. Therefore leave all this on one side, and now at length take
possession of yourself; and to come back to our starting-point, let me
urge you to enter upon the meditation of your last end, which comes
on step by step without your being aware. Tear off the veil; disperse
the shadows; look only on that which is coming; with eyes and mind
give all your attention there: let nought else distract you. Heaven,
Earth, the Sea--these all suffer change. What can man, the frailest of
all creatures, hope for? The seasons fulfil their courses and change;
nothing remains as it was. If you think you shall remain, you are
deceived. For, Horace beautifully says--

    "The losses of the changing Heaven,
       The changing moons repair;
     But we, when we have gone below,
     And our rich land no longer know,
     And hear no more its rivers flow,
       Are nought but dust and air."[66]

Therefore, as often as you watch the fruits of summer follow the
flowers of spring, and the pleasant cool of autumn succeed the summer
heat, and winter's snow come after autumn's vintage, say to yourself:
"The seasons pass, yet they will come again; but I am going, never
again to return." As often as you behold at sunset the shadows of
the mountains lengthening on the plain, say to yourself: "Now life
is sinking fast; the shadow of death begins to overspread the scene;
yonder sun to-morrow will again be rising the same, but this day of
mine will never come back."

Who shall count the glories of the midnight sky, which, though it be
the time that men of evil heart choose for their misdoing, yet is it
to men of good heart the holiest of all times? Well, take care you be
not less watchful than that admiral of the Trojan fleet;[67] for the
seas you sail upon are no more safe than his; rise up at the mid hour
of night, and

    "All the stars, that in the silent sky
    Roll on their way, observe with careful heed."[68]

As you see them hasten to their setting in the west, think how you
also are moving with them; and that as for your abiding you have no
hope, saving only in Him who knows no change and suffers no decline.
Moreover, when you meet with those whom you knew but yesterday as
children, and see them now growing up in stature to their manhood,
stage by stage, remember how you in like manner, in the same lapse of
time, are going down the hill, and at greater speed, by that law in
nature under which things that are heavy tend to fall.

When your eyes behold some ancient building, let your first thought
be, Where are those who wrought it with their hands? and when you see
new ones, ask, Where, soon, the builders of them will be also? If you
chance to see the trees of some orchard, remember how often it falls
out that one plants it and another plucks the fruit; for many a time
the saying in the _Georgics_ comes to pass--

    "One plants the tree, but eh, the slow-grown shade
    His grandchild will enjoy."[69]

And when you look with pleased wonder at some swiftly flowing stream,
then, that I bring no other poet's thought, keep ever in mind this one
of your own--

    "No river harries with more rapid flight
    Than Life's swift current."[70]

Neither let multitude of days or the artificial divisions of time
deceive your judgment; for man's whole existence, let it be never so
prolonged, Is but as one day, and that not a day entire.

Have oftentimes before your eyes one similitude of Aristotle's, whom
I know to be a favourite of yours; and his words I am sure you never
read or hear without feeling them deeply. You will find it reported
by Cicero in the _Tusculan Orations_, and in words possibly even more
clear and impressive than the original. Here is what he says, or very
nearly so, for at the moment I have not his book at hand:--

"Aristotle tells us that on the banks of the river Hypanis, which on
one side of Europe empties itself into the Euxine Sea, there exists a
race of little animals who only live one day. Any one of them that dies
at sunrise dies young; he that dies at noon is middle-aged; and should
one live till sunset, he dies in old age: and especially is this so
about the time of the solstice. If you compare the time of man's life
with eternity, it will seem no longer than theirs."[71] So far I give
you Cicero; but what he says seems to me so beyond all cavil that now
for a long time the saying has passed from the tongue of philosophers
into common speech. Every day you hear even ignorant and unlearned men,
if they chance to see a little child, make use of some expression like
this--"Well, well, it's early morning with him yet"; if they see a
man they will say, "Oh, it's high noon with him now," or "He's well in
the middle of his day"; if they see one old and broken down they will
remark, "Ah! he's getting toward evening and the going down of the sun."

Ponder well on these things, my very dear son, and on others akin
to them, which will, I doubt not, flock into your thoughts, as
these on the spur of the moment have come into mine. And one more
thing I beseech you to have in mind: look at the graves of those
older, perhaps, than you, but whom nevertheless you have known; look
diligently, and then rest assured that the same dwelling-place,
the same house, is for you also made ready. Thither are all of us
travelling on; that is our last home. You who now, perchance, are proud
and think that your springtime has not quite departed, and are for
trampling others underfoot, you in turn shall underfoot be trampled.
Think over all this; consider it by day and by night; not merely as a
man of sober mind and remembering what nature he is of, but as becomes
a man of wisdom, and so holding it all fast, as one who remembers it is

    "A wise man's life is all one preparation for death."[72]

This saying will teach you to think little of what concerns earthly
things, and set before your eyes a better path of life on which to
enter. You will be asking me what is that kind of life, and by what
ways you can approach it? And I shall reply that now you have no need
of long advice or counsel. Listen only to that Holy Spirit who is ever
calling, and in urgent words saying, "Here is the way to your native
country, your true home."

You know what He would bring to mind; what paths for your feet, what
dangers to avoid. If you would be safe and free obey His voice. There
is no need for long deliberations. The nature of your danger calls
for action, not words. The enemy is pressing you from behind, and
hastening to the charge in front; the walls of the citadel, where you
are besieged, already tremble. There is no time for hesitation. Of what
use is it to make sweet songs for the ears of others, if you listen not
to them yourself?

I must draw to an end. Shun the rocks ahead, at all costs; drop anchor
in a place of safety; follow the lead which the inspirations of your
own soul give you. They may, on the side of what is evil, be evil; but
towards that which is good they are themselves of the very best.

_Petrarch_. Ah! would that you had told me all this before I had
surrendered myself over to these studies!

_S. Augustine._ I have told you, many a time and oft. From the moment
when I saw you first take up your pen, I foresaw how short life would
be, and how uncertain: how certain, too, and how long the toil. I
saw the work would be great and the fruit little, and I warned you
of all these things. But your ears were filled with the plaudits of
the public, which, to my astonishment, took you captive, although you
talked as if you despised them. But as we have now been conferring
together long enough, I beg that if any of my counsels have seemed good
to you, you will not allow them to come to nothing for want of energy
or recollection; and if, on the other hand, I have sometimes been too
rough, I pray you take it not amiss.

_Petrarch_. Indeed I owe you a deep debt of gratitude, as for many
other things, so, especially, for this three days' colloquy; for you
have cleansed my darkened sight and scattered the thick clouds of error
in which I was involved. And how shall I express my thankfulness to
Her also, the Spirit of Truth, who, unwearied by our much talking,
has waited upon us to the end? Had She turned away her face from us we
should have wandered in darkness: your discourse had then contained no
sure truth, neither would my understanding have embraced it. And now,
as She and you have your dwelling-place in heaven, and I must still
abide on earth, and, as you see, am greatly perplexed and troubled, not
knowing for how long this must be, I implore you, of your goodness, not
to forsake me, in spite of that great distance which separates me from
such as you; for without you, O best of fathers, my life would be but
one long sadness, and without Her I could not live at all.

_S. Augustine._ You may count your prayer already granted, if you will
only to yourself be true: for how shall any one be constant to him who
is inconstant to himself?

_Petrarch._ I will be true to myself, so far as in me lies. I will
pull myself together and collect my scattered wits, and make a great
endeavour to possess my soul in patience. But even while we speak, a
crowd of important affairs, though only of the world, is waiting my

_S. Augustine._ For the common herd of men these may be what to
them seem more important; but in reality there is nothing of more
importance, and nothing ought to be esteemed of so much worth. For,
of other trains of thought, you may reckon them to be not essential
for the soul, but the end of life will prove that these we have been
engaged in are of eternal necessity.

_Petrarch._ I confess they are so. And I now return to attend to those
other concerns only in order that, when they are discharged, I may come
back to these.

I am not ignorant that, as you said a few minutes before, it would be
much safer for me to attend only to the care of my soul, to relinquish
altogether every bypath and follow the straight path of the way of
salvation. But I have not strength to resist that old bent for study

_S. Augustine_. We are falling into our old controversy. Want of will
you call want of power. Well, so it must be, if it cannot be otherwise.
I pray God that He will go with you where you go, and that He will
order your steps, even though they wander, into the way of truth.

_Petrarch._ O may it indeed be as you have prayed! May God lead me safe
and whole out of so many crooked ways; that I may follow the Voice that
calls me; that I may raise up no cloud of dust before my eyes; and,
with my mind calmed down and at peace, I may hear the world grow still
and silent, and the winds of adversity die away.

_Francis Petrarch, Poet, Most illustrious Orator; his Book, which
he entitled Secretum; in which a Three days' Discussion concerning
Contempt of the World is carried on._ Finis.

[1] _De Senectute_, xxiii.

[2] _Æneid_, vi. 428-29.

[3] "Tarda sit illa dies et nostro serior ævo."--_Met._ xv. 868.

[4] This refers to the second Scipio Africanus, and the words alluded
to are these: "It is his goodness that I loved, and that is not dead;
it lives not alone for me, who have had it ever before my eyes, but it
will go down in all its beauty to those who come after. Whenever a man
is meditating some great undertaking, or shall be nourishing in his
breast great hopes, his shall be the memory, and his the image that
such a man shall take for a pattern."--Cicero, _De Amicitiâ_, xxvii.

[5] _Æneid,_ i. 328-29.

[6] Cicero, _Tusculan Orations,_ iv. 18.

[7] Quoted from Attilius in Cicero's _Letters to Atticus,_ xiv.

[8] Ovid, _Amores_, I. x. 13.

[9] _Æneid_, vi. 540-43.

[10] _Æneid_, i. 613

[11] Seneca, _De Beneficiis,_ vii. 8.

[12] Terence, _Phormio_, 949.

[13] _Tusculan Orations_, iv. 35

[14] Academica.

[15] Quoted from Tusculan Orations, iii. 26.

[16] Simone Martini, of Siena.

[17] A river in Thessaly.

[18] A town in Phocis, near Delphi.

[19] Terence, _Eunuch,_ 59-63.

[20] Terence, _Eunuch,_ 70-73.

[21] _Ibid.,_ 56.

[22] _Ibid._ 57, 58.

[23] _Tusculan Orations_, iv. 35.

[24] _De Remediis Amoris,_ I. 162.

[25] _Æneid,_ iii. 44.

[26] _Tusculan Orations,_ iv. 35.

[27] _Æneid_, iv. 69-73.

[28] Seneca, _Epist._, xxviii.

[29] Horace, _Epistles_, Book I., _Epist._, xi. 27 (Conington).

[30] Horace, _Epist.,_ Book I., xi. 25-26 (Conington).

[31] Seneca's _Epist.,_ lxiv.

[32] _Æneid,_ vi. 126-27.

[33] _Georgics,_ ii. 136-39.

[34] Ildebrandino di Conte, Bishop of Padua, _Epist._ cxi. 25.

[35] Petrarch's _Penitential Psalms,_ iii. (translated by George

[36] Ovid's _De Remediis Amoris_, 579-80.

[37] Petrarch's _Epistles,_ i. 7.

[38] Quoted in Seneca's treatise, _De Animæ tranquillitate_, xv.

[39] Seneca's _Epistles,_ ii.

[40] _Tusculan Orations,_ iv. 35.

[41] The text here is obscure.

[42] Suetonius Domitian, xviii.

[43] Virgil, _Eclogues,_ i. 29.

[44] _Æneid,_ vi. 615-16.

[45] _Ibid.,_ ii. 265.

[47] Seneca, _Epistles,_ iv.

[48] Petrarch's _Africa_, vii. 292.

[49] Seneca, _De Natura Quæstiones,_ i. 17.

[50] Macrobius _Saturnalia,_ ii 5.

[51] Horace, _Epistles_, i 4, 13.

[52] PS. cxxxi. 9.

[53] Cicero, _Pro Marcello_, viii.

[54] Seneca, _Letters_.

[55] _De Senectute_, xx.

[56] _Ibid.,_ xix.

[57] Horace, _Odes,_ iv. 7,17.

[58] _De Senectute_, xix.

[59] _Africa_, ii. 361, 363.

[60] _Satira,_ x. 145.

[61] _Africa,_ ii. 481, &c.

[62] _Africa_, ii. 455-6.

[63] _Ibid._, ii. 464-5.

[64] Terence's _Eunuch,_ 41.

[65] _Africa_, ii 486.

[66] Horace, _Odes_, iv. 7, 13-16.

[67] Palinurus.

[68] Æneid, iii. 515.

[69] _Georgics_, ii. 58.

[70] Petrarch's Epist., I. iv. 91-2.

[71] _Tusculan Orations_, i. 39.

[72] _Tusculan Orations_, i. 30.

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