Imagens das páginas

- oim i.

equalled our Dante . As to his justice, you are all acquainted with it; and certainly this Republic never was blessed with a more meritorious magistrate , or one that enforced the laws more impartially without distinction of parties or of rich and poor. Yes! you yourselves, grave and distinguished citizens , will extol our poet as the most devoted lover , the most rigorous observer of that divine justice, which is defined by Justinian to be a constant and perpetual inclination to administer equity to every one lofty, celestial attribute! Above

all words of mine was our Dante's temperance . And as to his fortitude, what better can I do than conjure you, O countrymen, to imitate it? And so shall you possess the constancy and boldness, that are requisite in this perilous war, we are now waging against tyrants, who menace our liberties. You then I cite as witnesses to establish this incontestible truth, that our great bard was conspicuous, above his generation, in pure patriotism and a holy culture of all the four cardinal virtues' .


If the usual interpretations put on the panther and lion be unsatisfactory, still more so are they that are put on the she wolf. With her is connected the idea of lewd avarice; and mercenary strumpets were called she wolves by the Latins, cino I.

and a brothel, a wolf-lair (0. But to make her

here denote an abstract vice of that kind as

most of the ancient Commentators do is liable

to the objections already pointed out with regard to the two other wild beasts; and some cruel, unchaste, avaricious, human power must have been intended. Hence many moderns have made our poet designate his own enormities. Who was ever so pursued by calumny? His most deadly antagonists could desire no more complete justification of their severity towards him, than to find his very admirers obliging him to confess himself guilty of such manifold iniquities unparalleled voluptuousness, rabid ambition, and lewd, all-devouring avarice. This is in curious contrast with the quotation in the preceding Article. To pretend ( as some have) that Dante debases his own' reputation through humility is preposterous. No one ever spoke so much of himself, and applied to his individual person the three noble metaphors of a Prophet through humility: nor did any one ever pretend to be a dangerous villain through humility. To have banished such a fiend from the commonwealth were a mercy. But this interpretation renders him not only hateful, but absurd. To cause him to predict, that a patron should destroy his avarice by enriching him (as is done a few

(t) Spnrca saliva /uptt O lutnm , Iupinar\

Catull. Carm. 4»— 99.


lines lower) might, possibly, pass; although in con traduction with the proverb alluded to a moment

after 'whom food but makes more ravenous

still' (0: but really to make him affirm, that, that patron shall expel his avarice 'from State to State' (as is the necessary consequence) is too ridiculous. For the same reasons given in arguing about the lion and panther, this she wolf also must personify some potent Sovereign, or realm; and one characteristically avaricious, if (as is vulgarly and, I think, rightly supposed) she have a necessary connection with that sordid sin. This consideration alone might suffice to prove the Papacy of that day was meant; because under the then reigning pontiffs (Boniface and a few of the worst of his immediate predecessors and successors) the court of Rome became so scandalously tainted with avarice, that this was denounced as its ruling passion above every other European Government; and, as such, was anathematized by none more severely than various holy writers of its own communion: but not only such indirect testimony establishes, beyond cavil, that the Popedom, and no other, was the she wolf, but the direct positive affirmation of Dante himself, in different passages of this very poem . In Canto vn., for instance,

(i) Largis cum potius muneribus fluens
Sitis ardescil babendi •

Boetius Consol. I. *. cap.a.

um i.

we shall find the demon of avarice in the shape of a male wolf and all the favourites of his infernal seraglio said to be Popes and their train (0. The association in latin of she wolf with harlot and of both with avarice moreover implies, that, when Dante (like so many other devout Catholics, and even ecclesiastics, indignant at the corruption of the heads of their Rt ligion ) directed against Boniface and his immediate rivals in impiety a celebrated reproach of the Apocalypse, he could hardly fail of having present to his mind, besides the idea of lewdness and lucre, that, likewise, of the incestuous sister of the brute, whom, as I have just said, we shall find selected to personify the money-fiend:

Oh! loathing breeds

Your lust of lucre, Pastors! Knaves!
Whom did the scribe of Patmos view
In her, the harlot throned on waves

And whoring with the Kings of earth, but you (»)?

Petrarch ( himself a church-man and a zealous one) links together the same notions, whoredom, avarice and Babylon, and applies them in precisely the same manner 'Avaricious, Babylonian

jade! may fire from heaven consume thy braided tresses!' (3) Here, without circumlocution, is the

(i) Papi • Cardinal!. (i) Hell. Canto UI. (3) Son. io5—6.

Giitto t.

unworthy Pope said to be typified by a whore:. could the same voice have hesitated to call him a she wolf? Or is this latter a less decorous title? Or rather must they not both have been synonimes to Dante, as in the original latin? Pure latin he inserts continually in almost every Canto, as well as in the present one (0: he could not then have overlooked the latin signification of she wolf (lupa ); nor had he any reason to deem his readers ignorant of it. In fine since all agree, that the she wolf must represent something lewd and avaricious, and Dante was neither, and,even if he were, could never have been so hyperbolical, as to talk of his friend chasing that avarice from State to State; since he must then have meant by the she wolf some avaricious power and a mighty one, to avoid derogating from his Scriptural model; and since he elsewhere declares avarice to be the characteristic of bad Popes, and calls them a mercenary whore, which, translated into latin, is lupa or she wolf, and puts them in the exclusive favour

of a he wolf, 1 presume it will be allowed, that

such a body of circumstantial evidence bears me out in considering the she wolf, as a personification of the profaned Pontificate, just as unequivocally as if my author were to spring to life and affirm it directly with his own lip. Nor should this shock any one who knows of what unworthy

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