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one of the most celebrated characters in literary history, was born

, one of the most celebrated characters in literary history, was born in Tuscany, in 1304. His father was a notary at Florence, who having taken part with the Ghibellin faction, shared their fate, and was banished, after which he took up 'his residence at Pisa. Here, his infant son discovering marks of genius, his father destined him for a learned profession; and having recommended him to study the law, he passed several years at Montpellier and Bologna, listening to the ablest professors in that science, but much more inclined to peruse the writings of the classical authors. He relates himself, that his father, incensed at what he thought a misapplication of time, seized at once every classical author of which, he was possessed, and threw them into the fire; but the frantic grief which Petrarch expressed at that sight, so mollified the old man, that he hastily rescued Cicero and Virgil from the flames, and gave them back to his son; remarking, that it was only the immoderate attachment to these authors which he blamed, and that the works of Cicero, if rightly used, were the best preparative to the study of the law. Petrarch acknowledges that the struggle between the strong propensity of his nature, and the will of a respected parent, was the cause of many unhappy hours: but his father’s death, which happened when he was about the age of twenty-two, put an end to the contest; and left him at liberty to pursue his inclinations.