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cobaldi might have torn them up as worse than useless, when he received from Malaspina that perfect copy, which he had requested might be sent him on the poem's being terminated; or he might have corrected the imperfect Cantos, according to the perfect (0. But there is no setting aside so circumstantial a recital as is given. It is then entitled to a place among other antiquarian.trifles; but why its authenticity should ever have been keenly disputed can be well accounted for only from the propensity, which some have, to swell motes into beams. To the Marquis Malaspina, as we are told, the Canticle of Purgatory was dedicated; but the Purgatory must have been written, at earliest, after the Author had left Lunigiana (»): the Canticle Hell is said to have been dedicated to Uguccione della Faggiola, who was Podesta of Arezzo when Dante escaped thither from Rome (5); so that this compliment also dates subsequently (by at least 4 years) to Dante's final departure from the person he compliments. Wherefore, when we find the Paradise
(i) Compiuto die fosse, preg6 cbe adoptrasse eh'egli l'avesse. Bib. Eicc. M. S. ut supra. Indeed the disappearance of those seven Cantos is no stranger , thau that of all of Dante's autographical writings. Of these scarcely any are extant: whereas of Petrarch's and of Boccaccio's there are several. The present Marquis Malaspina has a multitude of ancient documents in his archives. His collection if accurately examined (which would be a laborious undertaking) might, perhaps, furnish some specimens of the hand-writing of Dante.
(j) He did so to go to Verona . Hell, Comment, Canto I. p. 45.— Pelli, Mem. ee. p. Ioo.
(3) In i3oa He soon sought Pistoja. Hell, Comment, Canto vi. p. 366. (USTO Tllt.
dedicated to Can, after the poet had abandoned Verona for ever (0: and when we learn that the entire Divine Comedy was dedicated to Frederick iii of Sicily (»); a sovereign to whom its Author was once ambassador, but whom, during his exile, he must only for a very short time have visited, if
he did so at all: such considerations imply,
that our poet never dedicated a part of his great poem to any one to whom he left the power of repaying his homage by hospitality or any other vulgar reward. Indeed as to Faggiota and Can, the thing is yet more striking: for his dedications to them were made, not only after he had left them, but after he had been obliged to leave them by
(i) Concerning the close of the Divine Comedy j there is some fable. One of Dante's sous imagined his father's ghost appeared to him, and showed him the secret drawer in which the last thirteen Cantos of P«. Tadise were to be found. This might have bpen a sick fancy of the young man; or at wont an invention of filial devotion . It however clearly proves, that the Cantos in question were posthumously published . The composition of Paradise theu occupied the last years of Dante, and these he past in Ravenna. In Ravenna therefore he wrote the dedication of Paradise . Indeed as the poem ( at least the whole of it) was not sent to Can before Dante's death, it is most probable Dante bad never sent him the dedication, though composed and ready to be sent; and this suggestion of mine is Iboch strengthened by the fact of the dedication being without a date, though in the form of a letter; while all the other letters which we have of Dante are scrupulously dated .
(a) This is the way to take all discordance from Boccaccio's words; without blaming him, as Pell! does ( Mem. ec. p. i44). Boccaccio say* '( Vita di Dante p. a5o,), Paradise was dedicated to Frederick; and the whole Divine Comedy, to Can. Either Boccaccio wrote one thing for another, in the hurry of composition; or his copiers, in copying. He must have known Paradise was dedicated to Can ; for he had seen the dedication, and translated it, verbatim. Hell, Comment, Canto i. p. 6). cm To Vin.
their own ill treatment of him . How much he had to complain of the latter, I have already shown: and as to the former, a contemporary chronicler affirms , that his conduct became so indecent towards all the White refugees, that they found themselves constrained to quit Arezzo; adding, that the corrupt change was produced by the delusive hope of having his son made Cardinal by Dante's implacable foe, Boniface viu (0.1 may therefore repeat my former words, that, 'with an admirable spirit of independence Dante shrunk from owing any thing to men, from whom he had experienced unkindness, and whom he was determined never to revisit; and so repaid a hundredfold whatever favours had been received from them, by attaching their names in front of Canticles of his immortal work (»).'
'So I, turning to the sea of all wisdom ' is the text; and it is a bold and most Dantesque manner of designating Virgil. Indeed the variety of appellations which he is given is a distinguishing trait of the Divine Comedy. No writer of verse or prose
(i) Corrotto da vana speranza datagli da Papa Bonifazio di fare uno suo Ggliuolo Cardinale, fece Ioro tante ingiarie che loro convenne ptrtirsi. Dino Compagni, Lib. i. p. 5o.— Recollect, Dante was on* of their chief Governors ; ao he must have had a full share of the Podetta'i injustice. The While Chiefs staid only a few weeks in Arezzo .
(a) Hell, Comment, Canto i. p. 5».
in any language ( not even Mr. Gibbon ) rivals its fertility in this particular (0.
The fable of Phlegyas in Polytheism, and the beautiful story of the sacrifice of Isaac in the Hebrew law, were intended ( however dissimilar in their modes and merits ) to convey a similar moral unqualified obedience to Providence. For
a most loving father to slay with his own hand his young, innocent, lovely boy, were at least as heartrending as to submit to the violation of a daughter. The Pagtius selected the latter example; and if the Bible, which preferred the former, represented it as put into execution too, we might for once hold, that, of the two creeds, Paganism seemed to display the milder spirit. Our religion vindicates its usual superiority of chaste feeling . Phlegyas was a king of Thessaly , whose child was ravished by Apollo; on which the repining father revenged himself in the only way he could devise against a Celestial, and set fire to the Temple at
Delphos perhaps hoping to starve the Deity
( as Aristophanes profanely declared might be ) by depriving him of the fume of altar offerings 00.
(>) Mr. Cary, as afraid of the boldness of the expression, replaces it with the common-place one — "turning to the deep source of knowledge." Yet mar di tutto 'I senno has, I know not what of peculiar poignancy; which a literal version best conveys.
(a) The same conclusion follows from the theories of Jerome and Origen; who held the Pagan Deities to be bad angels. Hell, Comment, Cauto 1ii. p. i79. Note.
^But Apollo shot him dead for his temerity; and his soul was hurled to the Tartarean abyss, as an admonition to man that true justice is not what appears such in his eyes, but what is ordained by the Divinity:
Phlegyasque miserrimus omnes
(i) Aeneid. Lib. vi. v. 6i8. — I know that both a French wit and the Bishop of Gloucester objected to this exclamation of Phlegyas; and that the Bishop employed it as a prop to his hypothesis— an hypothesis that nu-lts away before plain sense. "In the midst of his torments" (Gibbon, Miscellaneous Works, Vol. iv. p. 5io) "the unfortunate Phlegyas preaches justice and piety, like Ixion in Pindar. A very useful piece of advice, says the French buffoon , for those who were already damned to all eternity:
Cette sentence est bonne et belle:
Mais en enfer, de quoi sert-elle? From this judicious piece ofcriticism his lordship argues, that Phlegyas was preaching not to the dead , but to the living: and that Virgil is only describing the mimic Tartarus, which was exhibited at Eleusis for the instruction of the initiated. I shall transcribe one or two of the reasons, which Dr. Jortin condescends to oppose toScarron'scriticism. 4 To preach to the damned , says he, is labour in vain. And what if it is ? This admonition , as far as it relates to himself and his companiona in misery , is not so much as an admonition to mend, as a bitter sarcasm , etc. It is labour in vain . But in the poetical system it seems to have been the occupation of the damned to labour in vain.' " That Dante, though living in the age of the love of allegory and indeed rather over-inclined to it himself, never does Virgil the injustice of attributing to him any other allegorical project, than that of inculcating the doctrine of the religion of his time as to futurity, by the imagery with which that religion was conversant. I have said elsewhere. (Hell, Comment, Canto in. p. i6a.) Aeneas's descent to the shades was in Dante's opinion intended to appear as real as any poetic fiction can be. Whence to the tenderness and sublimity of poetry, is added most interesting information as to the creed of Paganism . What would it all shrink to under the Warburtonian process ? But it is a hopeless canse. Warburton and Scarron; against Gibbon , Jortin, and Dante!