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and the HelI-of-the*damned: and that conveys a just idea of this Limbo, which, we shall find, maybe termed suspended in three several senses-—as being a counter-poise between joy and sorrow; as having held the Patriarchs in a state of suspense; and as over-hanging the infernal abyss. That to this Limbo Saints and Angels (0 make frequent visits, was once an opinion of the Franciscan friars, and is so still, 1 suppose; so that Dante, in making 'a gentle fair'descend thither from Paradise, did nothing theologically irregular.
The Original is la Stella'the star: which is after the manner of the Greeks, who named the sun, ctspovy the star by excellence; a mode of expression followed by Boetius in latin , for he calls the sun simply sidus CO, and by Dante in Italian, not only on the present occasion , but also in one of his Canzoni (5).
Os olhos com que o sol escurecia 'Those eyes at which the sun grew dim' wrote Camoes (*); but, long before him, another Portugese (Bernardes) had transplanted from
(t) Sarpi. Storia dpi Con. Trid. I. a. p. i<55. (a) Vel cur bespetias Sidus in undaa Casurum ruiulu surgat ah ortn.
De Consol 1. i. cap. a.
(3) La nella stc 'la. Rime. p. aoo.
(4) Sonetto. uxxxa.
Dante's Italian this hyperbole of eyes outshining the sun
A luz que faz o Sol escurecerse(0 —
In the text there is, between the oldest editions, B petty disagreement not worth a translator's attention; since, be the true reading moto, or mondo>
the signification is, in substance, the same
the roll of the world, or the rolling world. I would however venture to propose the insertion of a comma after moto, or mondo; by which means quanto'l moto or mondo, being included between two commas, as in a parenthesis, ceases to govern lontana; which therefore, ceasing to be a very dubious kind of verb, resumes its usual title of adjective and agrees in case, gender and number
Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura
E durera, quanto 1 moto, lontana:
That is, di cui la lontana fama dura ancor nel mondo e durera, quanto il moto, o il mondo: 'whose distant fame still lasts in the world, and shall, as long as motion, or the world itself.'Lontana is an epithet quite naturally given to fama,
(i) Rimas. Sou. xxm
'distant or wide-spread fame'. As the lines are at present stopped
Di cui la fa ma ancor nel mondo dura
E durera, quanto 1 moto lontana:
lontana is explained to be a verb neuter put for si lontana, and in the Vocabolario is declared synonimous with si stende in lungo: whereupon it is
generally construed 'whose fame shall last
as long, as motion or the world shall continue moving itself to a distance.' But this does not seem to me to furnish clear ideas. Since the spheres
move in a circle, as Dante says, gira uii cor
po why should they be described as going from
us to a distance, rather than as coming to us? Then I do not think it happy, to make Dante here use as a verb neuter loutanare, which I find him every where else using either as active or reflective, like the rest of Italians. Indeed the Academicians cite no other authority than this very verse for the employmentof that verb in a neutral sense. Then, even were the interpretation not loose,yet it would seem to me an easier matter to insert a comma, ( if one be indeed necessary to my proposal of considering lontana as a simple adjective) than to have recourse to a kind of grammatical licence, or to at least a novelty, by making lontana be considered as the third person singular of a verb neuter. I, however, am almost afraid of suggesting even this trifle in a text so often revised by the <ni»TO 11.
learned: were it a matter of consequence, T should
not, certainly, have any such presumption sed
haec nos cognovimus esse nihil
Some moderns have exerted their ingenuity in endeavouring to prove Beatrice entirely a creation of fancy; as if it were an enhancement, both of the poet's merit, and of his theme, to consider her as having no connection whatever with mortality. But in this they are at variance, if not with taste and nature , at least with historical matter of fact: for not only Dante himself tells us in various passages what she truly was, and where she was horn, and when and how she died, but his ancient commentators agree in their account of her name and family. Thus writes one of them: 'As to Beatrice, you must know that in truth she was a Florentine lady, to whom Dante in his youth was greatly attached, and for whom he composed many moral songs and sonnets. The girl was daughter of a well known nobleman, Folcho Portinari, and wife of Messer Simon de'Bardi;.. .. but in this poem you are to understand her as personifying sacred theology (0.' But Dante wrote prose for
(i) Chi fosse Beatrice i da sapere, che nella verita questa fa una donna di Firenze, la quale Dante am& con grande affectione et fece per lei molte cose in rima, canzoni morali et ballate. Fu questa giovane fjgliuola di Folcho Portinari e moglie di Messer Simone de'Bar. di:... ma intende per questa Beatrice la santa teologia.
Bib. Rice. M S. Cod. i0i6.
her as well as rhyme; and the history, he has left us of his strangely pure and exalted courtship and of her decease, is (with the exception of verses interspersed here and there) in prose burning with the very essence of love, and, at last, melting with the tenderest sorrow. It is indeed an e nchanting volume, and discovers that intense glow of refined passion, which Rousseau alone has sometimes equalled, when it may be with fullest justice said of him that
with ethereal flame Kindled he was(0. But alas! the Genevese experienced only the lightning of a disordered brain that blasted him; his heart remained unvisited by any holy warmth; and even his most spiritual creations are such, as morality cannot avoid censuring . Not so Dante: whose affections were at first engaged naturally by a fellow-creature; and, when death rendered the object of them ideal, it only gave a loftier elevation to both his heart and genius; nor did his pen transgress his own precept, that,'a Gentleman should never use an expression improper for a
female to hear' il pudico e nobile uorao mai
non parla sicche a una donna non fossero oneste le sue parole In the composition alluded to above , (the Vita Nuova) he, more than once , enters into details both as to the person and dress
(i) Childe Harold. Canto in. (a) Courito. p. >99.