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those martial exercises to which his fierce temper led him; an infirmity that caused the rude man to be usually known by the barbarous nick-name of John Scanatus (0. Some say that that the delicate-minded Paul became enamoured of Francesoa only upon making her personal acquaintance after she had become affianced to his brother, Scanatus; whose pride was flattered by the fame of her worth and charms, so he demanded to be her husband previous to beholding her: but what is most probable ( because related by the great historian of Ravenna as the current report) is, that Paul had been himself affianced to Francesca; and that when Scanatus came to pay her a ceremonious visit as his intended sister-in-law, he was so much struck by her beauty, that, he declared she should be his own wife; and prosecuted his suit with such ferocious energy, that he terrified her reluctant parents into obedience to his will. Rut in this all agree, that much force and fear were employed;
and that she was surrendered unwillingly not,
I mean, against her own will (for she, poor victim! like so mauy others, was never consulted about her destiny ), but against that of her father and mother (*). The Imolese huddles up the story by
(i) Mire clandus Johannes Scanatus, et vir corpora deformis, sed auimo ferox • Benvcnuti, nt supra .
(») Sunt qui scribunt matrem Paulo Franciscam detpondtist et Lan
celottum cum Ravennam venissct confestim am air
illius ardere capisse, et cum alia ratione non posset, per vim et me<UJtO *.
shortly adding, that a criminal connexioo soon took place between Paul and Francesca, and that the irritated husband and brother, informed by a servant of their rendez-vous, surprised them together, and slew them both in the lady's chamber during their assignation (0. Landino and all the later commentators do nothing more than translate this servilely . The Imolese delivered those his lectures on Dante publickly in Bologna , a town near enough to Ravenna and Rimini, for many considerations, of which we are ignorant, to prevent his being over-explicit. Yet his words are the only foundation for the two common charges, that the unfortunate couple
turn impetrasie ul sibi uxor adjungerrtur. flier. Rubaei, Hist. Raven, p. 3o8. E percbe era uomo potente e terribile gli fu data piit per paurn die per aroore. Landino, Comento. p. 34
(1) Hia words are simply these — deposito libro pervenernnt ad osculum, et ad caotera, quaesequuntur. Hose autem, iu brevi, signifirata Juhanni per nuum familiarem fuere. Ambos siroul in dicta camera , ubi convencrant, mactavit. Com. ap. Mar. Antiq. Ital. T. i. p. i040. At the worst these imply an act of adultery quickly avenged, but not habitual profligacy: yet Rubious cites Benvenuti as his authority (or accusing them of a criminal connexion during several dart, and dementiai for the roost profligate conduct during many years: spesso giacevano in un medesimo letto , ma 1'abouiinevole peccatodrl troppo continuato gioco discoperse I'accostoed impudico fuoco al tnarito, il quale, dopo averlo piu volte accennato a Francesca, nn gior00, trovatoli in letto abbracciati ed addormentati, con uu sol rolpo di spada amm<"ndue ucrise 1' anno s aSo, come acrive Benvenuti da Iroola, ec. Rare. 1st. di Rimiui Lib v. p. Sng The impudico fuoco roust have been in the mind of the annalist, or be could never have made such an indecent paraphrase of Brnvenuti's few words. It is a glaring instance of literary flippancy. Had Francesca been such , Oante'a wondrous delicacy would bav* been satire .
were caught in adultery, and that they were murdered in Francesca's own room: but both of these assertions are contradicted by two more ancient, and more candid authorities, Boccaccio and the lliccardian M. S. now before me. The former absolutely denies that he had ever been able to discover a single proof of the adultery, beyond what is to be found in Dante's text; and that he verily believes it to be rather a fiction deduced from the interpretation of which that text is possibly susceptible, than that Dante was conscious of their adulterous intercourse, or meant to affirm it: and certainly what Boccaccio could not discover then, it is unreasonable to expect now (0. The M. S. places the scene of their sanguinary catastrophe, not in Francesca's room, but, as it particulary specifies, in a chamber on the floor below it 00." And both books agree in the positive declaration that Francesca's death was no murder, but altogether accidental; and that it was not only involuntary on the part of her husband, but that it gave him pain(3). Now, without laying any stress on the superior credibility merited by Boccaccio, on
(i) Che Franceses dunque si congisse con Paolo, mai io non ndii M non quello che 1'Autore ne scrive; il che possibile e che cosi fosse, in a io credo essere quello piuttosto fizion formata sopra quello ch'era possibile ad esser avvenuto, cb' io non credo che 1'Autore sapesse che •on) fosse. Comento Vol. i. p. i34
(») . . . . nella camera che rispondea di sotto. Bib. Rice. M. S. Cod. i0i0.
(3) . . . aveune quello ch'egli non aTrebbe voluto .. . Boecaceio , ut aupra .... credendo dare a lui, diede alia moglie. M. S. ut supra . CAHTO r
the score of his inhabiting a free city far removed from the intrigues of either Ravenna, or Rimini, it is enough to remark, that the comments of the Imolese, who began their composition in i375 (0, have much less antiquity than those of Boccaccio, who died that very year (a): and as to the manuscript, its date is still older by thirty-two years (3). The following is the whole statement of the matter according to these two last-named authorities , who generally corroborate , and never contradict each other. The few details which the M. S. Author adds to Boccaccio's recital, are of the self-same complexion with it; and when he varies from it, it is so ^lightly, and with regard to such minute facts (as at what precise moment Francesca discovered the deception , whether it was during the night by the reflection of a lamp, or in the morning when the ravisher was rising from the bed), that weight is added to both their testimonies, by showing that they had neither communicated with each other, nor drawn their information from precisely the same sources. On the close of hostilities at the commencement of i2^5, (as mentioned before) Polenta, pressed by political interests, but above all by the demands of Scanatus, determined on the ill-starred mar*
(0 Bettiuelli, Risorgimento, Vol. i. p. i44.
(a) II monrut a Cartildo le »i decembrede i37 S. Hist. Litt. d'ltalie,
Vol. 3. p. 33.
(3) It is dated :3*3, as I said before. Hell, Comment, Canto i. p. (t. AUTO T.
riage : and maternal sollicitations, that were ineffectual towards deterring him from sacrificing his daughter to state policy, only produced the effect of making him apprehend resistance to his plan: so that the poor mother could not obtain for her child the privilege of choosing between the two brothers. She, with the perspicacity of parental sollicitude, had long wished for the union of her lovely girl with 'Paul the beautiful': for such is the title that designates him in the Riminese annals (0. That she had privately affianced them, is reported by the historian of Ravenna; and even he of Rimini concedes, that she was as much disgusted by the marriage with 'Scanatus the lame Wand as desirous of that with' Paul the beautiful,'as her daughter herself (3^. She felt that the one union was almost an outrage upon nature; and that the second was so natural, that it promised felicity to all parties. Nor was the mother the sole person who caused Polenta to foresee the possibility of his matrimonial scheme being thwarted: for several
(i) Vita di Paolo il hello — Panlo terzo figliuolo di Malatesta . . per la roolta bplta, leggiadria e dispotezza ch' era in lui, fa cognominato il bello. Cleraentini, Race. 1st. di Rimini, Lib. p. <>o8.
(a) John , alias , Launcelot, alias, Guigliotto, alias, Scanatus the lame — mentr'era fanciullo cadendo edebililata unagamba, o, come altri dicono,per debolezza de'nem,zoppicava alquantoevenne chiamato scioncato, e di alcuni Lanciotto e Guigliotto ec. Id. Id. p. 5So.
(3) Polenta quasi ubligato diedegli in matrimonio Francesca con disgusto di lei e poca soddisfazione della madre, amendue inebriate a Paolo. Id. Id. Id. . . . matrem Paulo Franciscam despondisse. Hier. Rubxi Hist. Ravenn. p. 3og.