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be doubted by none who are conversant with the incidents of his life, or the nobility of thought that breathes throughout his writings; that he was" gentle," in the popular signification of the term, is apparent from other sources.

In the history of Florentine families, a singular feature presents itself; by a practice peculiar to Italy, nay, we believe to Florence, families, under certain circumstances, were compelled to change their arms and their surnames, the origin of which was as follows. After having long suffered the insolent factions of the great families to convulse the state, the middle classes, headed indeed by one of the nobles, by a determined movement obtained the mastery. To organize their newly-acquired power, they instituted an office, the chief at Florence during the republican era, that of Gonfalonier of Justice; they formed a species of national guard from the whole body of the citizens, who were again subdivided into companies, under the command of other officers of inferior dignity, also styled Gonfaloniers (Bannerets). As soon, and frequently did this occur, did any noble commit violence within the walls of the city, which was likely to compromise the public peace, or disturb the quiet of the state, when the great bell at the Palazzo Vecchio raised its alarum, the population flew to arms, and hastened to the spot, where the Gonfalonier of Justice speedily found himself in a position, not merely to put an end to the disturbance, but even to lay siege to the stout massive fortresses which formed the city residences of the insolent and refractious offenders to which they then withdrew. But the reforming party did not stop there; by the new constitution, which was then introduced," the ancient noble families, termed by contemporary historiaus i grandi,' and explained to include those only which had ever been illustrated by the order of Knighthood, were all placed under a severe system of civil restrictions and their names were entered upon a roll called the Ordinances of Justice; the immediate effect was that losing all political rights, they were placed in a most disadvantageous position before the law. Their situation has been aptly compared to that of the Irish Catholics under the full severity of the penal code,* and the same necessity may be regarded with equal reason, perhaps, as palliating the original harshness of each enactment."

By a somewhat amusing species of democratic liberality, a man or a family might be emancipated from this position and rendered fit for office, born again as it were into a new political life, by renouncing their connections (consorteria) and changing their arms and surnames. They were then said to be made plebeian or popular (fatti di popolo). Niebhur has noticed the analogy of such voluntary resignation of nobility to the "transitio ad plebem" of the Romans.

This practice of changing arms and surnames originated from the Ordinances of Justice promulgated about that time, which expressly requires this as a condition to the enjoyment by any of the old families of popular rights. It gave rise to great varieties of surnames and armorial bearings in different branches of the same house. But it has nevertheless been noted that in all these mutations it was still the endeavour of the parties to retain as much as possible of the ancient ensigns and appellations, so that traces of descent and connexion might not in the progress of years be altogether obliterated. Thus the

Cavalcanti took

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the name of Cavallereschi, the Tornaquinci that of Tornabuoni. Sometimes they obtained the object by a play upon the name itself thus ; at other times by making a patronymic of the Christian name of the first or some other favourite ancestor; thus a branch of the Bardi assumed the name of Gualterotti, and a branch of the Pazzi that of Accorri. Sometimes they took their new name from a place or circumstance calculated to preserve the memory of their origin; thus the Agolanti designated themselves Fiesolani, the Bostichi from the antiquity of their stock, Buonantichi. In mutation of arms a similar object was borne in mind. Thus the Buondelmonti simply added to their ancient bearings a mountain az. and a cross gu. The Baccelli, who were a branch of the Mazzinghi, replaced the three perpendicular clubs, the ancient ensigns of the family, by two placed in the form of a cross.

As the object of these provisions was to discriminate for the future those of the ancient families who had acceded to the principles of the popular institutions from their more haughty kindred, (the Protectionists of their day) who remained true to the defence of their feudal and aristocratical prejudices, the change either of arms or surname was not required if the whole family became converts to the new doctrines: for then there was no need of discrimination, and the law was not framed out of any dislike merely to particular ensigns but only to the principles and opinions which they had up to a certain time been understood to represent.

Notwithstanding one passage in the Convito, it would appear that the Poet was powerfully impressed with the feeling for antiquity so common to his age and country, but purified in his great mind from all those grosser ideas and vanities that detract from the real worth of the sentiment, and give it rather the character of a weak and indefensible prejudice. And accordingly we find him in the Paradiso thus apostrophizing 'Nobility,'

"Ben sei tu manto che tosto raccorce,

Si che, se non s'appon di die in die,

Lo tempo va dintorno con le force."-Canto xvi. 6.

"Yet cloak thou art soon shorten'd: for that Time,
Unless thou be eked out from day to day,

Goes round thee with his shears."-CAREY.

The frailty of things human, of family honors amongst them, escapes not the comment of the Poet.

"Mark Luni; Urbisaglia mark;

How they are gone; and after them how go
Chiusi and Sinigaglia; and 'twill seem
No longer new or strange to thee, to hear
That families fail, when cities have their end.
All things that appertain to ye, like yourselves,
Are mortal, but mortality in some

Ye mark not; they endure so long and you
Pass by so suddenly. And as the moon
Doth, by the rolling of her heavenly sphere
Hide and reveal the strand unceasingly;

So fortune deals with Florence. Hence admire not

At what of them I tell thee, whose renown
Time covers, the first Florentines."-CAREY.

In one of the most celebrated passages in the Inferno, the Poet Dante describes his encounter with a chief of the Uberti, hereditary enemies of his own house. Within his fiery tomb that was to remain unclosed until the last day, in the sixth circle of the Inferno (that of the "Increduli") was imprisoned the Ghibellin chieftain, the Coriolanus of Florentine History, Farinata degl' Uberti, to whom the Poet, with strict justice, awards the praise of highmindedness, designating him as " quel magnanimo." "Lo! Farinata there, who hath himself Uplifted; from his girdle upwards, all

Exposed, behold him. On his face was mine
Already fix'd; his breast and forehead there
Erecting, seem'd as in high scorn he held
E'en hell.

He, soon as there I stood at the tomb's foot,
Ey'd me, a space; then in disdainful mood

Addressed me: "Say what ancestors where thine."
I, willing to obey him, straight reveal'd

The whole, nor kept back aught: whence he his brow
Somewhat uplifting, cried: "Fiercely were they
Adverse to me, my party and the blood

From whence I sprang: twice therefore, I abroad
Scatter'd them." 66
Though driven out, yet they each time
From all parts," answered I, "returned; an act

Which yours have shown they are not skilled to learn."

And here the dialogue is interrupted by an episode which has always been admired as a striking instance of the consummate art of the Poet; it involves however many allusions for which we have no space. We therefore pass it by.

"Meanwhile the other, great of soul, near whom

I yet was station'd, chang'd not count'nance stern,
Nor mov'd the neck, nor bent his ribbed side.
"And if," continuing the first discourse,

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They in this art," he cried, "small skill have shown:
That doth torment me more e'en than this bed.

But not yet fifty times shall be relumed

Her aspect, who reigns here, queen of this realm,
Ere thou shalt know the full weight of that art."

Inferno x. Carey.

From the conversation between Dante and his ancestor Cacciaguida in Paradise is derived, although not exclusively, the information that has been handed down respecting the earlier descents of his family. It ascends by well authenticated documents by historical evidence, and municipal records, to a remote period in the middle ages. According to some, the Alighieri were originally descended from that patriotic house of Rome which derived its surname, according to tradition, from having at a time of great dearth and scarcity made a bountiful use of its opulence, to relieve the cravings of the necessitous. They broke their bread with the people, and became thenceforth the "Bread breakers," (Frangipani) in the nomenclature of a grateful people. Certain however it is that the Florentine family of the Alighieri were at a very early date divided into the kindred houses of the Alighieri

and the Elisei ;* the latter became soon extinct, but not before it, as well as the collateral branch, had filled the highest offices in Florence, which its singular constitution enabled it to bestow. In the civil dissensions which prevailed in their country during the 12th and 13th century, the two would appear to have embraced opposite sides. The Lisei (Elisei) alone are mentioned by Malespina (the earliest Florentine Historians) and these may therefore be regarded as having at that early period been the more prosperous and powerful branch. They espoused the Ghibellin-their kinsman, the Alighieri, the Guelf cause. The poet himself was the first of his own family, who, in attaching himself to the cause of the Empire, became at the commencement perhaps almost involuntarily confounded with the advocates of doctrines and principles at that time and long subsequently classed under the general term Ghibellinism. A writer in a modern review, generally regarded as one of the heads of the party styled "Italia Giovane," has claimed for Dante the credit of being neither" Guelf nor Ghibellin, but Italian ;" and certainly if we are to judge from his great Poem alone, and set out of consideration the commentary supplied by the incidents in his own political career, we should hesitate to class him with any but the party strong at that period in nothing but the merits of their cause-the true patriots who had the interests of their country at heart and who postponed to it all selfish considerations,

"The few, the band of brothers."

And accordingly we find the poet dealing out the dishonours and honors of his Hell, Purgatory and Paradise to Popes and Emperors, Guelfs and Ghibellins with the most impartial neutrality. The first progenitor of Dante whose Christian name is known was Cacciaguida, and he tells us that his son was Dante's great grandfather (bisavo). Cacciaguida thus greets the Poet in Paradise (c. xv.)

O fronda mia, in che io compiacemmi
Pure aspettando, io fui la tua radice.
"I am thy root, O leaf, whom to expect
Even, hath pleased me."-Carey.

Cacciaguida was knighted by the Emperor Conrad III., he married Aldighiera degl' Aldighieri of Ferrara, whence, he tells his descendant, came the surname of the family (by a slight alteration.)

"E quindi 'l soprannome tuo si feo."-Parad. xv. 138.

He died in the Crusade 1147, leaving two sons, of whom one, Aldighiero, mentioned by Dante (Parad. xv.) and named with his brother in a document A.D. 1189, was the father of

Bellincione or Cacciaguida, who lived 1200 circiter, and had a son, Aldighiero, a jurisconsult of the Guelf party, who was twice banished from Florence in 1248 and 1260. (Parad xv.) He died about 1270,

The arms of the Elisei were Chequered Lozengy az. and or. The arms of the Alighieri were Party per pale az. and gules. The arms of the Frangipani, Party per bend az. and gules. This similarity of bearings was one ground why the two last families were supposed to have sprung from a common ancestor : slender proof, says Borghini, if nothing else confirmed the conclusion !

leaving by his second wife Bella several children, of whom one was the Poet Dante born at Florence 8th May, 1265, died at Ravenna in exile, 14th Sept. 1321.

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Ungrateful Florence, Dante sleeps afar."-BYRON.

He married Gemma Donati of a very ancient family, at that period the most powerful at Florence; its head, Corso Donati, a noble endowed with extraordinary qualities and abilities, aspired to a tyranny but came to a violent end. By his wife Gemma (with respect to whose character distinguished literati have been divided in opinion), Dante left many children; his son Jacopo was the presumed author of a Commentary upon the Divine Comedy published at Milan 1475. Another son of the Poet was

Pietro, who having shared his father's banishment, settled after his death at Verona, and was appointed Giudice by that Commune. He died at Treves 1361, and was buried with considerable honours in the cloister of the monastery St. Margerita. He also wrote a Commentary on his father's poems. By his wife Jacopa he left a son,

Dante II., who died 1428, leaving a son,

Leonardo (whose name has been preserved from oblivion by his inti. macy with Leonardo Aretino). He had a son,

Pietro, friend of Filelfo and father of

Dante III., who was Podestà (magistrate) of Peschiera 1498, where he subsequently filled other offices. He retired from Verona to Mantua, where he is said to have died of despair. Many Latin and Italian compositions of his remain unedited. His son,

Francesco, was the author of several antiquarian works, some of which have been printed and others are lost: His will was dated 1558. Francesco was the last male descendant of Dante, but he had a brother Pietro, through whose daughter Ginevra the blood representation descended to the Counts Sarego of Verona, a family still extant and glorying in their connexion with the greatest Italian Poet.

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