Imagens das páginas

pun i.

tive from the writer to his work,was produced the

present form Divina Commedia Divink

Comedy, which is too generally adopted for me not to adopt it also; although well aware that it may displease many English readers at first sight.

Z —— Bxxxiv.

Landino , and some of his predecessors too, pretended that this gate was to be interpreted that of Purgatory; and, although they could advance nothing plausible in favour of their interpretation, it has been followed by almost all the modern commentators, except Daniello and Biagioli. Virgil had offered to lead through Hell and Purgatory; and had subjoined only that he could not enter Paradise, but by no means that he could not approach within sight of its gate . Dante accepts this offer and answers, as shortly and modestly as he can, calling all the inhabitants of Hell and Purgatory sorrowers, and implying Paradise by an . allusion to the text « Thou art Peter and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven (0.» To refer forward, with Venturi and the rest, to a Canto of Purgatory, where there is an Angel with keys, is to create a difficulty: for how should Dante now know that there is to be such an Angel there? Why should D.mte be made so simple as to ask his Master to take him to the gate of Purgatory

(i) S. Mar. xvi. i8—9.


after having heard bim offer to take him through it? Milton considered it to mean the gate of Paradise certainly: for it is hard to believe, that the first English translator of Dan te had not this poem uppermost in his memory, when writing — They pass the planets seven and pass the fixed

And the crystalline sphere

And now Saint Peter at heaven's wicket seerai

To wait them with his keyHO.

(0 Parad. Lost. b. 3.



A. I.

If the preceding Canto be a general introduction to the whole poem, this one is a prologue to its first Canticle, Hell; and prologue is the title it bears in some editions (0, which, in this particular, I follow,as perhaps more methodical. Virgil, after having, in the first Canto, extricated Dante from the allegorical forest and proposed to him an unearthly journey, now finds him shrinking from the emprize as too sublime. Upon this he tells him his journey is sanctioned by Providence; and that it was his own adored and sainted mistress, Beatrice, who descended from heaven to Elysium and said so. On which the pupil, replete with confidence and courage, calls on his master to lead on: and the Canto ends. As to the time, it is clear that a day has been consumed in the first Canto: so that it is now night-fall, April the eighth i3oo(a).

(i) Bnonanni. Fiorenza. i5aa.
(a) Comment, Hell, Canto i. p. »4.

Cabto ii.

The opening verses are said (0 to be worthy of Virgil; it may be added they are manifestly borrowed from him,

Nox erat et terras aninialia fessa per omnes
Alituum pecudumque genus sopor altus habebat,
Cum pater

Aeneas tristi turbatus pectore bello (a) etc.

The expression 'war guerra(3) to denote

moral difficulty, is much employed by Dante and by his countrymen after him: so Petrarch in his

hymn to the Virgin

Soccorri alia mia guerra

'Oh! help me in my war'.

B. vi.

Mente che nan erra is the original; which non erra shows that mente does not here signify generally the mind or intellect, but only that faculty of it which does not err, the memory: which is defined by Locke to be « the power to revive in our minds those ideas which were there before.» Hence it is clear that it cannot err; because when those old ideas are exclusively retraced, there is so far no error; and when we mingle them with new ones, it is some other intellectual power that we exert, although perhaps unconsciously, and not memory. And if we mistake in our estimate of

(i) Hist. Litt. d'Italic vol. a p. 3a. (a) Aeneid. 1. TIII. T. a6.

(3) v. 4

i:iRO II.

those ideas, the fault is in our judgment; and not in our memory. One may err from want of memory; but to speak of the fault of one's memory is quite illogical. It is then a very exact definition of memory, to call it that mental power which is faultless. Dante, having once given this precise notion of what he means by mente, mind , continues to use it, without further scruple, as synonimous with memory; as for example, only two lines lower

And thou, inditing mind!
O mente che scrivesti!

He found it probably a more convenient word than memoria: In the same peculiar sense, we ourselves also employ mind; as, time out of mind , or, we call to mind his covenant.

C. «.

Nobility nobilitate is thus defined in the

Monarchia: 'By virtue are men ennobled; — by their own, or by that of their ancestors. According to the Philosopher, nobility is virtue and

ancient heritage: and, Juvenal wrote nobilitas

sola est atque unica virtus . Nobility then is twofold , personal and ancestral (0.' Dante aspired to them both: for, if he now claims the former for his intellectual endowments, we shall, hereafter, hear him challenging the latter, with the pride of

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