Imagens das páginas


•the whole of this exquisite passage, it would be necessary to hear it well recited; for capable, as it is, of producing a high dramatical effect, half its colours fade under a common perusal; and if its brief indications and passionate bursts are not aided by a corresponding variation of voice and features, and the verbal breaches filled up by .Pantomime, there remains no cue to the rapid succession of opposite feelings; so that, that which would cause great emotion on the stage, becomes a rhapsodical medley. Had I not heard it declaimed by an excellent Actor, I should ;never have been able to penetrate its true spirit: for none have commented it with its recital; although such a memoir would be both instructive and agreeable. Francesca's transitions from sorrowful complacency to horror at her ignominous death, and from melancholy satisfaction at the constancy of her love and lover to the common destruction which that love brought both upon herself and him, followed by a short denunciation of the deeper damnation awaiting their slayer; then the

long silence until Virgil asks his pupil on what he was thinking; and this latter'sabrupt exclamation, and his subsequent address to Francesca; who replies in a style more than ever expressive of an internal war of feelings, of sorrow, regret, contrition , disdain, satisfaction , and almost delight; her dwelling, in ten verses, on the theme of her love, with such a sense of bitterly alloyed pleamm

sure, as shows clearly it is her ruling sentiment even in hell; her anew referring to the secure possession of her lover; and, after just touching the climax- of joy and pathos, her recurring to the consciousness of her error; and pronouncing a malediction on the book and writer who so far misled her and her companion; and, in fine, her closing with that broken trope, which, however it be interpreted, will, I believe, continue to imply more meaning than an equal given number of syllables discoverable throughout the entire range of poetry, ancient, or modern : — to render quite discernible all these various hues of passion, a masterly tragedian is as necessary, as in a soliloquy of Shakespere's (0. It is the mournful complacency, with which Franceses dwells on the eternity of her union with Paul, that forms the vital principle of the interest she excites: and without this vivida vis animi, this buoyancy and uncouquerableness of her spirit, I do not conceive it were possible to make her maintain dignity and strength of character, without which it is vain to attempt to awaken deep commotion. Yet this consideration is so overlooked by some interpreters, that they make it a part, not of her consolation, but of her suffering

(i) Th« fint line of the tiercet is prettily paraphrased by Lord Surrey:

I know how love doth rage
Upoa a yielden mind;
How small a net may take and mesh
A heart of gentle kind .


and despair, that she can never be separated from Paul. Boccaccio however, who almost always penetrated his Author's sense with the sagacity of congenial genius, was fully aware of the necessity of understanding the matter as I do ('); and he moreover adds that it appears to be an imitation of Dido and Sicchaeus, whose affections are mutual

and equal among the shades

t Respontlet curis aequatcjue Sicchaeus amorem (»).

V. * oxii.

M. Ginguene" and the other translators with whom I am acquainted interpolate a lui, or something equivalent (as Mr. Gary's "I, in answer") words that are, I believe, directly in opposition with the spirit of the original: for they make Dante reply unto Virgil, although there is no such thing in the text. It is, on the contrary, very observable, that Dante, who generally repeats methodically ' and / to him,' or something of the kind, expresses himself on the present occasion in a mode that testifies the propriety of understanding what first he utters as a simple soliloquy, to which succeeds his address to Francesca. Quando risposi, comin

ciai is the Italian 'when I answered, I began;'

viz. I began to exclaim to myself: for otherwise our attention would be directed to Virgil by risposi

(i) Puoi comprendere ch' in I' »mo come l'amai mentre vircvamo.

Comcnlo, Vol. i. p. 3i8.
(?) Aeueid. Lib. Ti. T. 74.

tUtlTO T.

a lui, in Dante's usual manner. It is certainly a beauty, that a pupil, almost always so prompt in answering his revered Conductor, is now absorbed to such a degree by his own melancholy reflections, that he gives no answer whatever to his question; but, pursuing his own train of feelings, bursts out with the exclamation O lasso ec. 'Alas! etc.' and, after that, turns again to the pair of lovers. This remark , made to me by the chief Italian poet of this day, the Chevalier Monti, I thought so just, that in order to direct the reader's attention to it more forcibly (and particularly by reason of his having been perhaps already misled by other translations ) I took the liberty of inserting a syllable and changed 'And , answering, I began ' into 'And I, in answer's lieu;' as it at present stands.

W oxx.

Dubbiosi desiri, 'dubious desires,' is the original ; and the absolute signification of the tiercet is, how did you become conscious of your mutual desires (0? — for a couple so young and pure might have long continued in their situation without making the dangerous discovery; and previous to the making of it their desires must have been full of doubt, because they were not known to each other. But this naked meaning is veiled in an

(i) A perilous knowledge, says the old commentator, Buti; for were people conscious of each others wishes, all shame would be banished from the earth. Bib. Rice. M. S. Cod. i006.

C4BTO r.

exquisite poetry, of which there is really little or no vestige in M. Ginguene^s version.' In the season of sweet sighs' is the original, and it means in the spring of life: so that to interpolate your, as that Gentleman and Mr. Gary do, is to injure the image by obliterating its generalization . The Italian calls ourattention to the tender years of the couple; but dans le temps de vos doux soupirs, as well as "in the time of your sweet sighs," are words applicable to lovers at any age. Concedette implies a reproach that is very touching; as if it were both strange and cruel in Love to permit two so dear to acquire the terrible knowledge of each other's secret wishes. For to a fanciful mind this epithet dubious applied to desires, is nearly akin with that of uncertain applied by Virgil to the moon; and both,besides their primary and obvious signification, suggest another, of treachery and peril. That these criticisms penetrate the spirit of my Author, I trust; whether my verses have succeeded in conveying it, is a very different thing; my confidence of the former nearly equals my diffidence of the latter.

X. — oxxit.

This imitates Virgil

Infandum, Regina, jubes renovare dolorem (');

but literally translates Roetius in omni adver

sitate fori una?, infelicissimum genus est infortunii

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