Imagens das páginas

l.kSTO IT.

the philosophers, poets, and warriors degraded into vile, ignorant assassins (0.

(i) I was at Tangier in i8i5. An inoffensive French gentleman was aliol while w ilking on the roof of his Consul's house; uor was satisfaction expected, nor, I helievp, asked for the murder. Even our own government (whose influence was at that time greuter than auy other Christian oue ) could have obtained none. Admiral Penrose's surgeon , Mr. Williams, a young man of superior abilities, was assassinated in full view of Gibraltar, at foot of the other pillar of Hercules: and when a naval officer and I returned, with an order from the Pacha himself, to get the canon, anchor, etc, of the wreck of our little gunboat, the same Moors seized and carried me into the hills, where, during seven hours, I bad their muskets above an hundred limes at my breast; nor do I now well conceive how among so many triggers not one went off. Perhaps in the very wantonness of barbarity the)' disdained killing a man whom they had so completely in their power; perhaps it was my own composure: but it is not likely such an escape will occur again. They have a fine, fierce breed of black dogs . He who was called their Governor had one, of which, he said, he would make me a present in return fora present of a barrel of gun powder; for that Moors never Jow their dogs. I suspected it was a blood-hound; upon which his Excellency , thinking I asked whether it could kill a roan, had a Jew taken (the Captain of the very felucca in which we came from Tangier for the canon) proposing to set his dog fairly at him. If in two-minutes the Jew was not dead, I was to have the animal immediately for nothing: otherwise I was to send the gun-powder from Gibraltar, and the bearer of it was to receive the dog: besidet (to obviate any complaints to the Pacha) the naval officer and I were to sign a declaration that the Jew was killed by accident in lifting the canon. Waving the trial as superfluous, I closed the bargain. Had I afterwards kept my promise, be would have broken his : and perhaps muideied the bearer of the gun-powder. It was in escaping from the wreck Williams fell. Four of our sailors too were wounded. There were twelve in a crazy, stoven-in skiff — amid wild waves — still wilder savages firing from the shore—fifteen miles to the nearest refuge. Williams was shot right through the brain; he never moved, but stiffened; so that when we raised him out of the boat at Tangier, he was still sitting with bis face turned frowning towards the coast and his arms a-kimbo, exactly as when the volley was fired . Hia wife was a little Jew girl, whom he had ran away with at Gibraltar and had had baptized on board the Admiral's ship. Though not quite four



X. —— en.

Homer, Horace, Ovid and Lucan,Hke Anchises, remain in Elysium; while Virgil and Dante prosecute their journey, like Aeneas. But the latter returned up to his ships

Ille viam secat ad naves, sociosque revisit (0; aud our pair descend into the second infernal circle, where begins the region of punishment, Hell vulgarly so called, or Tartarus.

teen she was throe months advanced towards maternity. Her father, one of the richest on the rock, had disinherited her for changing religion. But, as she was an only child, her mother came to see ber iu her widowhood; and it was hoped even her father would relent. She had but one Christian friend; and , when he was lost, she perhaps became Jewess again- She now separated from him for the first time. She followed him to the beach weeping bitterly and was so bent On embarking, that, to get her to return, he had to chide her.Whether it was a presentiment or not, it is certain, that the burthen of her lament*was /'//never see you more: one could hear her repeating it even after the boat was pushed off to some distance. We buried Williams in the Swedish Consul's garden. It lies a little without Tangier. He sleeps surrounded with the most beautiful myrtles in the world . There were few handsomer men than Williams; few prettier creatures than his wife. His corpse wrapt in a cloak and borne by those rough, yet sorrowing tars — our slender escort of the Consuls of the place — the spleudour of the day — the groups of Moors in their haicks, fine, though ferocious figures, and now quietly looking on—the odours and flowery shrnbs of that lovely garden — the touching funeral service read by our Consul, Mr. Green , to whom I was Clerk — at a little distance the sparkling sea, and, beyond it, Gibraltar on whose summit waved the flag, which neither protected, nor avenged him who was now to be interred within view of it — and, with all that, ■ slight sense of danger to ourselves formed the most impressive whole I ever saw. (i) Aeneid . Lib. vi- v 899.



A. i.

Here we enter the region of punishment, where the infernal judge, sentencing the wicked, decides what place they are to occupy, whether in this second circle, or farther below. This second circle is the beginning of what is vulgarly called Hell (0

the seat of eternal woe. It is the Infernus

damnatorum of Catholicism, the sixth circle of Virgil, or Tartarus; within which Aeneas (though he descries it at a distance ) does not only not venture, but is even dissuaded by the Sybil from inquiring much about it:

Ne quaere doceri

Quam pocnam , aut quae forma viros fortunave mersit (»). The Pagan Tartarus and this portion of the christian hell are in the strictest sense of the word synonimous: they both mean an eternity of ineffable torment;

(i) C'est au second cercle que commence proprement l'enfer. Hitt. Lift d' Italie. Vol- a. p. 43. (a) Aeoeid. Lib. vi. v. 6i4.

r.kSTO v.

sedet, aeternumque sedebit,


Non , mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum,
Omnia paenarum percurrere nomina possim (>).

But the Sybil is most cursory; whereas Dante' sups on horrors' in the long residue of 3o Cantos of the present Canticle. Here then he leaves the beaten track; and really undertakes (what in Paradise Lost will by every reader of the Divine Comedy be restricted to the English language)" things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme." The plan of the Aeneid being left, the imitations of its passages diminish loo; so I shall become less profuse of quotations, which I should have been more fearful of multiplying, had I not been encouraged by the expressions of Macrobius when instituting a comparison betweeu Homer and Virgil (a).

In sitting down to read this Cauto, it were well to prepare the mind by reflecting ( as the Author probably did before beginning its composition ) that it is to close with one of the most pathetic stories upon record: nor would it derogate much from either the magnificent theme of the poem, or the gravity of the poet, to suppose that it was for the sake of introducing that story this entire Canto was composed. Hence all those named throughout it are distinguished historic personages, who

(i) Aeneid. Lib. vi. v. tlfj —6a5.

(?) Quid enim suavius quam duos praecipuns rates audire idem loquenlea?Saturnalia, Lib. v. Cap. S.


(however their characters differed in other respects) were similar in one common misfortune, that of having been brought to a premature end by erring love: and if the freshest memorial left behind by the verses is not those immortal Demigods and Heroines, but Francesco, da Rimini; then was never any such unfading garland hung on the bier of a private female; and, in comparison with it, the tu Marcellus eris of Virgil is a cold gallantry: and no wonder, since one bard wrote to compliment an Empress, and the other to rescue from obloquy his own friend's lovely child. Yet, strange to say, this consideration, of her being the daughter of his friend, has been urged against his putting of her in hell. But Dante was none of those heartless panegyrists who deal in undistinguishing apotheosis. Her bloody catastrophe already public,and her error probably much exaggerated by the Italian factions, her full justification would never have been admitted. Would it have been truer friendship to have left her unnoticed by his muse? I think not. Would he have insured her more sympathy by placing her in Purgatory, or in Elysium? or, by braving opinion, in Paradise? I think not. A distracted mother, a perhaps more wretched, because a self-accusing father, admiration, anger, sorrow, gratitude agitated the soul of Dante; who wrote this Canto (as some aver, though probably it is a mistake) in the very room where the unfortunate girl was brought up . Not all this

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