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let him restore us to each other, and I will on the mental and moral condition of love and praise him with all my soul.'"

the reading folk who have elected There is more of this kind, but of George Sand, and such as George Şand, so exalted a quality that we do not for their guides in matters affecting venture on a translation. If there their present and future well-being. were need we might easily descant


JUDGING from the portrait of the than the English poet; and secondly, “ melancholy Florentine," as Milton a personal aspiration to deify his pascalls him, and from the psychical fa- sion for Beatrice. culties displayed in his works, Dante In its sublime but rude ideal, its clearly possessed rather an intense power, beauty, grotesqueness, and the than an ample and various intellect. realistic prosaic spirit in which much The lofty crowned head manifests of it is laboured out, Dante's Vision largely the venerative sentiments and resembles a Gothic cathedral, which the power of will; but the forehead, was alike a contemporary embodiaccurately marked in the observing, ment of the religious spirit of Cathomemorial, and reasoning regions, is licism in a one-idead Europe, full of rather high than broad. Unlike that aspiration, but still barbarous. Mighty of Shakespeare, in which fancy and and immense in its design, like the imagination were equally developed, "poems built in stone” by the masons and who was thus able to intensify of the middle ages, it is like them in and amplify the inferior surface-con- its abundant and accurate chiselling ceptions of the former into the depth of details; and as in executing the and vastness characteristic of the lat- architectural work, it happened that ter, Dante possessed little fancy, but some sculptor, elaborating a nichewe are inclined to think that high up his mind the while in a happy, creative in the region of ideality the imagina- mood-embodied his sensitive recoltive organ was largely developed ; lection of some beautiful or terrible hence it displayed itself, as we find in face he had seen or conceived, or his his poetry, rather in brief, intense feeling for some scriptural story, in flashes, than in pictures heightened statue or bas-relief-so it was with by sublimity or beauty of detail-in a Dante during the progress of his poem. word, a narrow imagination, to which This sacred songhis concentrated intellect and force of

“Al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra, feeling gave intensity. Unlike Milton,

Si che m'ha fatto per piu anni macro," he had no sense of the infinite. His Hell is arranged in a series of circles which lines are in the Paradiso descending into the centre of the was a great labour, spiritual and perearth ; his Purgatory a mountain; his sonal, which he ambitioned to acHeaven a number of planets, each complish ; and while in it, especially spirally ascending higher than the the latter portion, there is much that other in the empyrean, in which the is mere work, intentive and unideal, degrees of blessedness are indicated so, throughout, its happiest passages by varying gradations of light and have taken form in transient, felicitous sound. But although too many of moods, in which he threw some obthe conceptions by which he has en- servation, recollection, feeling, or condeavoured to work out his picture of ception into its texture. Just as the the celestial regions exhibit a prosaic interest attaching to Homer's “Iliad" barrenness and want of fancy, never

--the representative mental monutheless, in its best passages, he dis- ment of heroic Greece-is, and was plays a greater sense of the divine intended to be, as much historic as than Milton, whose Heaven is quite poetic, so is it with the "Divina Coman inferior conception to his Pande- inedia," in which the politician, pomonium ; and this may be attribut- lemic, poet, united the contemporary able to two causes- -first, that he had life of his country with the legends of a greater power of love in his nature the past; but unlike the work of the


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Ionian, reflecting everything through sion, been already achieved ; except, the arbitrary colours of personality perhaps, we are to infer that he set a and passion. Dante was a scholar, greater value on the sonnets and like Milton ; but how great is the canzoni of the Conviva than his difference between the poems of a rude Life Poem. To us, indeed, it appears, and a cultivated age-how wonder- that having conceived his design of fully the English genius has infused the Vision of the three regions, the spirit of learning into the crea- Dante, whose soul, during his wantions of his imagination; how nakedly, derings through Italy, was always and with a few exceptions, in which he intent on this theme, threw into verse has made such materials vital with such pictures as, during his particular his peculiar fire, Dante has inserted moods, arose in his imagination and them among the hard, brief, engrav- afterwards turned the mass of maings of his pages. Dante's poem ap- terial thus accumulated into shape in pears rather the work of a great half the respective portions of his Vision. barbaric, half cultivated-of a half The poem itself is a journey, and heathen, half Christian genius, than one can fancy that the various dethat of a supreme, civilized man, as scriptions of morning and evening Milton was, or of an universal, genial, which commence and terminate so potent spirit, such as Shakespeare. many of the cantos (several of these Throughout it, indeed, there appears, are among his most beautiful pasa primeval huģeness, a giant rudeness, sages, and are impressed with the an awfulness and beauty, a plainness natural truth of direct observation) and homeliness as well, resembling -were introduced during this shapthat manifested in the religious and ing process, and mark, as it were, poetic myths of Scandinavia and Hin- the beginning and end of his daily dostan. Dante is said to have com- work while thus engaged. This apmenced the “Commedia” in his twenty- pears, of course, chiefly in the most fourth year, and then, in consequence spontaneous portions of the poem, the of the events of his tumultuous career, Inferno and Purgatorio, in which the to have thrown it by, resuming its evidences of working out an idea are composition after a long interval. less apparent than in the Paradiso, Whether, at the epoch above men- whose region is almost wholly retioned, he had conceived the general moved from the phenomena of earth. ideal of the poem, is not certain ; the It is notable also that the scenery story of Francesca and that of Ugolino and similes of the two first divisions are said to have been written from con- are just such as, with some exceptions, temporary impressions, at the early might have been observed in various period referred to; the major pro- parts of Italy during different seaportion of the poem was, of course, the sons, and exaggerated

and intensified work of his years of exile and wander- by his imagination pondering over ings; and having obtained a plan to the conceptive localities of his poem. work on from Alberico's “Vision,” he As to the similies, they are exclusively began to embody a series of sketches derived from objects which he had and impressions, whose dates spread visited, or such as presented themover many years, in an allegoric selves to his daily observation. Thus framework. That such appears to

one giant is compared to the leaning have been the case, this poemn itself af- tower of Pisa ; another, buried to the fords several evidences. For instance, middle in ice, is yet as high as the in the first canto of the Inferno, dome of St. Peter's; the burning speaking to Virgil, he says :

tombs are like the sarcophagi of Ar

qua and Pola ; and the greater num“ Tu se' solo colui, da cu' io tolsi

ber of his less shadowy and more Lo bello stile, che m'ha fatto onore."

beautiful images are derived from “Thou alone art he from whom I animals, birds, and children. have derived that beautifulstyle which While Dante purposed to make his exhalts me to fame”. à remark Life Poem a medium forexpressing his which, referring to his practice in entire knowledge, historic, temporal, poetic composition, would be inap- theologic, poetic, personal, he doubtposite in its place in the beginning of less intended it also as a satire on the poem, had not other portions of his age and country, using the mait, more deserving of such an allu- terials derived from his reading for



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filling up the lacunc. The Inferno and pursuing this blasphemer, Dante was first shaped, and bears the im- says, from that moment the serpress of the initiatory impetus of pents and I were friends.” In the the genius which, with passions ex- 33rd canto, Dante, walking over the acerbated and intensified by the heads of murderers, visored with wrongs and events of his life, consti- congealed tears, kicks one of them tuted itself the poetic judge, pun- in the face that he may weep; and isher and redeemer of humanity, his- there are several other instances in toric and contemporary: Satire he which he represents himself as pitiintended in several of his delinea- less, ruthless, and demoniacal as the tions, but satire in his hands became fiends themselves. Passion and imdeepest tragedy. In some of the agination in Dante are intense in his inventions of torture during his ima- hatred as his love ;-he becomes a ginary wanderings through hell, he devil with devils, an angel with becomes himself as infernal as his angels. In his inventions of torture, conceptions. The passions of disdain too, he evidently took as great and and hatred which inflamed the soul savage a pride as in his disdain. Thus, of this wrathful spirit when a subject after describing the scene in which occurred to elicit and concentrate the fiery serpent strikes Fucci, and the them, occasionally approach the verge subsequent metamorphosis of snake of madness. Such-(Dante as we know into man and vice versa, an uncouth had suffered deeply from the arrogance conception which is worked out with of mankind after his exile)- is the the hardest and intensest earnestness, scene in the Inferno (c. 8), when he he is so delighted with it, that he sees Fillippo Argento, a Florentine, immediately exclaims, “Now, silence who had been noted for his arro- Lucan, and silence Ovid, for thy gance and overbearing demeanour, and transformations I envy not.” Just it is one in which the poet is lost in as Shakespeare gave equal nature, so the hater. The figure appearing im- Dante gave equal intensity to all'his mersed in the muddy pool, “Who conceptions.

When he expresses art thou,” asks Dante, " who art disdain or contempt he is supreme become so foul ?" “One of those and inimitable. Thus he makes that mourn. To which Dante re- Virgil briefly say of the angels who plies, “In mourning and in woe remained neuter in the battle betarry thou accursed spirit !". When tween God and Satan, that “their the latter strives to lay hold of the punishment consists in their having boat in which they are crossing, the lost the hope of death; from the earth mild Virgil is represented by the their fame has vanished ; pity and poet as thrusting him back and cry- justice alike disdain them. Of those ing “Away! down to the otherdogs!” we will not speak, but look and and then encircling Dante in his arms pass.” and kissing his cheek, he exclaims, Dante's similes are numerous, and, “Oh, soul ! justly disdainful ; blessed though commonplace, strikingly illuswas she by whom thou wast n- trative, but as they are almost always ceived !" Dante then says, “Oh, inferior to the subject, they do not exmaster ! how rejoiced would I be tó alt the imagination. The demon, Plubehold him whelmed in those dregs tus, collapses at the reproof of Virgil, before we quit the lake;" upon which “like the wind-swelled sail, the mast Virgil assures him his desire shall be being suddenly broken.” The region satisfied :

in the city of Dis, where the heretics

are punished in burning tombs, is " Scarce these words Were ended, when I saw the miry tribes

like the cemetery of Arles or Póla. Set on him with such violence, that still

The place, guarded by the Minotaur, For that I render thanks to God and praise, is like the mountain landslip on a * To Fillippo Argento ! cried they all ; certain part of the Adige. The ridge And on himself the moody Florentine over which they walk along the side Turned his avenging fangs.”

of Phlegathon is compared to the

dykes of Ghent or the Brenta, and His sympathy toward the serpents the spirits who meet him in the (Inf., c. 25) who'transfix and torture gloom look at him as those who Fucci, is of the same sort. After strain their eyes under the dim light describing the fiery snake striking of the new moon, sharpening their

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sight, keen as an old tailor at a most all Dante's pictures are brief needle's eye. The lake of boiling traceries ; the subject is presented in pitch in Malebogue, in which pecu- a flash, in the fewest lines and the lators are punished, is like the place most concentrated diction. It is only in the Venetian arsenal, in which the in the story of Francesca and Paolo, pitch is melted for maritime use, and and that of Ugolino that he works the suffering spirits appear like dol- out his subject in detail-how admiphins following a vessel's track, and rably it is unnecessary to say; the range themselves on the brink of the tale of Francesca is the most exquisite bank like frogs. The stench which little love-story in poetry, full of rises from the region of Malebogue beauty, nature, and intensest pathos where the alchymists are punished throughout the lines are broken and with various diseases, is like that seem to be interrupted by sobs and which comes from the lazar-house by the tumultuous beating of the of Valdichiana in the sultry months heart. of July and September. The visage of one of the giants bound to the Esser baciato da cotanto amante,

“Quando leggemmo il disiato riso waist in the ice, is “as long as the Questí, che mai da me non fia diviso spire that tops the dome of St. Peter's, La bocca mi baciò tutto tremante :and from the waist up his stature Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse :

so great " that three Fries- Quel giorno piu non vi leggemmo avante." landers would have striven in vain to reach his hair.” The lost spirits The same brevity characterizes the cast themselves from

the bank into account which Ugolino gives of the Charon's boat, “like the lightautumnal process of starvation, by which he leaves that fall

, following one another, and his sons perished ; every touch till the branch is bare.”

tells, his imprisonment in the horIn the Paradiso on the arrival of rible tower, through whose narrow Dante and Beatrice, in Mercury, the chink several new moons had glimsplendrous spirits drew toward them, mered, when he was visited with the like fish in a clear lake toward

any dream which foreshadowed his doom, object they think is food. There his hearing the gates barred, and are many more of the same appro- knowing it was the sign that he and priate but commonplace sort, derived his children were left to perish; the from the daily objects which passed daily details of the deadly effects of before Dante during the composition famine—the instances of filial and of the poem ; but by far the most paternal affection, the deepening desideal and accurately beautiful simile pair, the deaths of his children one in Dante is that of the spirits, who, after another, and lastly, the dreadful seeing his shadow on the path when alternative to which nature impelled they encounter on the mountain of the wretched father, who, now grown Purgatory, are compared to sheep :- blind, goes groping over the carcases,

“ Then fasting got the mastery of “ Come le pecorelle escon del chiuso, grief." Ad una, a due, a tre, e l'altre stanno

Ugolino's story has nothing sublime Timidette atterando l'occhio e il muso;

in it; but it is the ne plus ultra of E cio che fa la prima, e l'altre fanno, Addossandosi a lei s' ella s' arresta,

horror. Dante's prevailing realism

and love of definition interferes with Semplici e quete, e lo 'mperche non sanno; Si vid' io muovere a venir la testa

his conceptions of their order, and Di quella mandria fortunata allotta. hence, though such attempts are frePudica in faccia e nell' andare onesta.” quently powerful, they fail in effect

compared with those of Milton, whose From the immense extent of the imagination was far vaster, more spitheme which he purposed to execute, ritual and abstract, and whose blind—that of representing humanity con- ness had, doubtless, great influence temporary and historic in the three in giving its objec the character of regions of punishment, purgation, and elevation, grandeur, immensity. Conblessedness, and inventing the pecu- trast, for example, Dante's Charon liar degrees of each appropriate to with Milton's Death: thefirst is paintthe beings selected—but still more ed by Dante as an old man blanched possibly from the essential character and white, inspired with demoniac of his genius and imagination al- rage, with wheels of flame round his

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eyes, which glow like burning coal, ice, who look like huge towers scathurrying the shades whom he strikes tered over the icy desert, and dimly with his oar into the boat. Milton's seen through its twilight, is not indeed Death is the most terrible of spectres, sublime, but full of a sort of primeval and every line in which he is painted grotesqueness. The apparition of Cain, increases the effect of unsubstantiality, however (whom Dante has placed, phantom-awe, and terror. From the strange to say, in the Purgatorio, concluding portion of this picture- rather than in the Inferno-one of “ Black he stood as night,

the many instances which indicate a Terrible as hell, and shook a dreadful dart,” instance of the sublime, but it is the

want of revision in his poem), is an we conjecture Milton obtained the Dantesque sublime. He is represented nucleus of his conception from Ho- as a Voice, a Voice only, which rushes mer's description of the phantom of past like a volley of lightning when Hercules, whom Ulysses meets in it cleaves the air, crying “Whoever Hades. “But he, like dark night, finds will slay me!" then flying holding a naked bow and an arrow on vanishes, like a bolt launched from the string, terribly looking around the cloud. And the same order of like one about to shoot." As a imagination appears in the succeeding ghostly conception, however, Milton's passage, in which another voice of Death is unrivalled. Shakespeare's quick rattling thunder cries

Mark spirit of Hamlet's father has less me, Aglauros turned to rock,"—which terror, naturally, and much more vi- exclamation is followed by a stony sible distinctness. But to perceive the silence. As regards the numerous superiority of Milton, take the first inventions of torture in Dante, they glimpse he gave us of hell in the seldom approach the sublime, but

Paradise Lost,” and in the Inferno. fully realize the horrible, as intended, In the first we have a vision of an though in those—which are chiefly infinite fiery sea, whose awful waves physical not mental-he is almost on which the lost angels float, give no everywhere inferior to Milton. It is light, but rather a darkness visible, only as far as the horrible enters into serving only to discover sights of woe, the sublime, and it is hardly possible regions of sorrow, where hope never to unite both, that any of them are so. comes, &c., &c. In the Inferno, on But even Milton's picture of Sin, a the other hand, you look down a deep fair woman above, ending in a serpent gulf from which sighs, moans, loud coil voluminous and vast, with the wails resound through the starless hell-hounds tearing her womb, is in its air, mingling with the sound of many way more frightful than Dante's best languages, accents of grief and anger conceptions of the semi-grotesque sort, and "horrible smoke;" all is realistic, such as the transformation of men and this latter adjunct Milton has into serpents, &c. The grotesque, judiciously excluded from his picture indeed, was the element in which and thereby heightened the idea of his imagination concentrated in conthe supernatural flame of the ocean ceptions of power, not beauty, proof hell

. There are, nevertheless, se- duced the greatest originality, and he veral pictures in the Inferno of a even manages to make some such very grand, büt peculiar order of fancies pathetic. Such is the passage imagination, a couple of which seem in which he represents the evil counto have afforded Milton the key-notė sellor, Bertrand of Born's punishfor some of his finest conceptions. ment. He sees a headless figure Such is that of the “huge spirit,” approach, carrying his head by the Capeneus, who lies scorning his tor- hair in his hand, like a lantern, and ment, under the fiery tempest ; that the head looks piteously up, and exin which Farinata raises himself from claims, “Woe's me.' The division the fiery tomb with a brow that was the retributive punishment for seems to hold hell itself in disdain ; having divided and raised contention that in which the Furies who appear between father and son. In describing on the top of the red hot tower in his angels, Dante displays frequently the city of Dis, call for the head in not only beauty but grandeur of the the Gorgon, to turn the earthly visitor highest sort. Some appear in thunder, into stone. The glimpse we get of as the one which, hurries across the the giants imprisoned to the waist in lake of hell to open its gates, through

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