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The Romance of Biography (Vol 1 of 2) or Memoirs of Women Loved and Celebrated by Poets, from the Days of the Troubadours to the Present Age. 3rd ed. 2 Vols.   By: (1794-1860)

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First Page:

[Illustration: T. Wright. sc.

ARIOSTO READING HIS VERSES TO ALESSANDRA STROZZI.]

London, Published by H. Colburn, 1829.

THE LOVES OF THE POETS.

VOL. I.

LONDON: PRINTED BY S. AND R. BENTLEY, Dorset Street, Fleet Street.

THE ROMANCE OF BIOGRAPHY;

OR

MEMOIRS OF WOMEN LOVED AND CELEBRATED BY POETS,

FROM

THE DAYS OF THE TROUBADOURS TO THE PRESENT AGE;

A SERIES OF ANECDOTES INTENDED TO ILLUSTRATE THE INFLUENCE WHICH FEMALE BEAUTY AND VIRTUE HAVE EXERCISED OVER THE CHARACTERS AND WRITINGS OF MEN OF GENIUS.

BY MRS. JAMESON,

Authoress of the Diary of an Ennuyée; Lives of Celebrated Female Sovereigns; Female Characters of Shakspeare's Plays; Beauties of the Court of Charles the Second, &c.

THIRD EDITION, IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. I.

LONDON: SAUNDERS AND OTLEY.

MDCCCXXXVII.

Enfin, relevons nous sous le poids de l'existence; ne donnons pas à nos injustes ennemis, à nos amis ingrats, le triomphe d'avoir abattu nos facultés intellectuelles. Ils reduisent à chercher la celèbrité ceux qui se seraient contentés des affections: eh bien! il faut l'atteindre. Ces essais ambitieux ne porteront point remède aux peines de l'âme; mais ils honoreront la vie. La consacrer à l'espoir toujours trompé du bonheur, c'est la rendre encore plus infortunée. Il vaut mieux réunir tous ses efforts pour descendre avec quelque noblesse, avec quelque réputation, la route qui conduit de la jeunesse à la mort.

MADAME DE STAËL.

THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.

These little sketches (they can pretend to no higher title,) are submitted to the public with a feeling of timidity almost painful.

They are absolutely without any other pretension than that of exhibiting, in a small compass and under one point of view, many anecdotes of biography and criticism, and many beautiful poetical portraits, scattered through a variety of works, and all tending to illustrate a subject in itself full of interest, the influence which the beauty and virtue of women have exercised over the characters and writings of men of genius. But little praise or reputation attends the mere compiler, but the pleasure of the task has compensated its difficulty; "song, beauty, youth, love, virtue, joy," these "flowers of Paradise," whose growth is not of earth, were all around me; I had but to gather them from the intermingling weeds and briars, and to bind them into one sparkling wreath, consecrated to the glory of women and the gallantry of men.

The design which unfolded itself before me, as these little sketches extended gradually from a few memoranda into volumes, is not completed; much has been omitted, much suppressed. If I have paused midway in my task, it is not for want of materials, which offer themselves in almost exhaustless profusion nor from want of interest in the subject the most delightful in which the imagination ever revelled! but because I desponded over my own power to do it justice. I know, I feel that it required more extensive knowledge of languages, more matured judgment, more critical power, more eloquence; only Madame de Staël could have fulfilled my conception of the style in which it ought to have been treated. It was enthusiasm, not presumption, which induced me to attempt it. I have touched on matters, on which there are a variety of tastes and opinions, and lightly passed over questions on which there are volumes of grave "historic doubts;" but I have ventured on no discussion, still less on any decision. I have been satisfied merely to quote my authorities; and where these exhibited many opposing facts and opinions, it seemed to me that there was far more propriety and much less egotism in simply expressing, in the first person, what I thought and felt, than in asserting absolutely that a thing is so , or is said to be so . Every one has a right to have an opinion, and deliver it with modesty; but no one has a right to clothe such opinions in general assertions, and in terms which seem to insinuate that they are or ought to be universal... Continue reading book >>




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