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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another source behind the Second Charade in Emma?

While trying unsuccessfully to figure out the deeper answer to the second charade in Emma that Anielka Briggs claims to have discovered, I did come across a passage in a book published in English in 1748 which seemed to me to possibly be echoed by JA in that charade in several ways. While it is probably coincidental, I decided to bring it forward anyway, hoping that perhaps it will lead to additional connections to JA's second charade.

The book is The Life of Petrarch collected by S. Dobson, and here is the relevant passage, which describes events which occurred during a trip to Avignon by Petrarch. I've capitalized the words “power”, ”united”, "behold", "pomp", "prince", "Leviathan", "vicar" and "kingdom", as well as the reference to the delivery of an anonymous letter by dropping it, all of which resonate to the charade:

"The next affair in debate at Avignon, was the enterprise of John Viscomti, the brother and successor of Luchin. He was archbishop, as well as governor of Milan, and he aimed at being master of all Italy. The Pope on this sent a nuncio, to re-demand the city of Bologna, which he had purchased; and to choose whether he would possess the spiritual or the temporal POWER, for both could not be UNITED. The Archbishop, after hearing the message with respect, said he would answer it the following Sunday at the cathedral. The day came; and after celebrating mass in his pontifical robes, he advanced towards the Legate, requiring him to repeat the orders of the Pope on the choice of the spiritual or the temporal: then taking the cross in one hand, and drawing forth a naked sword with the other, he said, "BEHOLD my spiritual and my temporal: and tell the holy father from me, that with the one I will defend the other."

There is another anecdote related of this PRINCE: and they all serve to shew his artful character, and with what apparent modesty and submission he covered his pride and resolution. The Cardinal de Ceccano, going on his legateship to Rome, passed by Milan. The Archbishop went out to meet him, with so numerous and splendid a train, and so many led horses richly harnessed; that in surprise he said to him, "Mr. Archbishop, why all this POMP?" "It is," replied he, affecting an humble air and a soft tone of voice, "to convince the holy father that he has under him a little priest who can do something."

There was AN ANONYMOUS LETTER that was also attributed to this prince; but it appears more likely to have been written by Petrarch, from the style of IRONY that runs through it. One day, when the Pope was in full consistory, a Cardinal who is not named, LET THIS LETTER FALL in so cunning a manner, that it was brought to the Pope, who ordered it to be read in the presence of all the court. The inscription was in these terms:
"LEVIATHAN, PRINCE of darkness, to Pope Clement his VICAR, and to the Cardinals his counsellors and good friends."
After an enumeration of very dreadful crimes which LEVIATHAN ascribes to this corrupt court, and on which he makes them great compliments, exhorting them to continue in this noble course that they may more and more merit his protection; he inveighs against the doctrine of the Apostles, and turns their plain and sober life into the highest ridicule. "I know, says he, that so far from imitating, you have their piety and humility in horror and derision. I have no reproach to make you on this account, but that your words do not always correspond with your actions. Correct this fault if you wish to be advanced in my KINGDOM." He concludes thus: "Pride, your superb mother, salutes you; with your sisters Avarice, Lewdness, and the rest of your family; who make every day new progress under your encouragement and protection. Given from our centre of hell, in the presence of all the devils." The Pope and the Cardinals took little notice of this letter, and continued the same course of life." END QUOTE

I know little of Petrarch's poetry, but, upon reflection, it occurred to me that one of the heroines of JA's juvenilia Love and Freindship (in Volume the  Second) is named "Laura", which was not a typical English name in JA's day---and of course it is the same name as Petrarch's famous unrequited lover immortalized in his poetry. And I also recalled that Lesley Castle, which comes later in Volume the Second and therefore was written by JA not long after she wrote Love and Freindship, has several
passages describing travel in Italy.

But perhaps the most intriguing possible connection between Petrarch and the second charade in Emma  is that Petrarch was so influential a figure in the history of Western poetry, in particular in shaping the form of the sonnet. I remembered that Anielka had written something earlier this year about the structure of the second charade and sonnets, and I quickly tracked it down, here is what she wrote:

"Sonnet experts amongst you will know that the Shakespearean sonnet is just one form of sonnet and is based on the original fourteen-line format by Petrarch. Here's where Austen is clever. In a Petrarchian sonnet the meaning falls in two parts. The first two quatrains form an eight line octave that sort of "poses a question that needs resolution". The third quatrain and the couplet form a six-line sestet and "resolve" the question posed by the octave. This is the ONLY aspect of a sonnet that can be considered "a charade'."

Hmm....might all of this smoke indicate that in a variety of ways, Petrarch was on JA's radar screen as she wrote Emma?

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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