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necessity of digressing much to justify that preference, or that dissent. That my preceding calculation as to the age of Beatrice is correct will be easily verified by a moment's reflection, or indeed even without it, upon glancing over the biographical table which I shall here set down , not only to answer the present purpose, but also because it may be sometimes a convenient reference hereafter.

Dante born in May ia65 and Beatrice about May 1a66, they (from May to May) were in

he his first year

he his second

he his fifth

he Lis sixth

he his eighth

he his ninth

he his tenth

he his thirteenth

he his sixteenth

he his nineteenth

he his twenty-fourth 1288 —

he his twenty-fifth 1289 —

he his twenty-sixth 1290 —

he his thirtieth 120,4 —

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7, she her first, 70, she her fourth,

i, she her fifth,

3, she her seventh,

4, she her eighth,

5, she her ninth,

8, she her twelfth,
1, she her fifteenth,

4, she her eighteenth,

9, she her twenty-third, 9o, she her twenty-fourth,

1, she her twenty-Gfth ,


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he his forty-fifth i3o9— i0,

he his fiftieth 1314— 5,

he his fifty-sixth i3ao— i,

he his fifty-seventh i3ai — a.

But she died when barely entered into her twenty-fifth

year June the ninth, i290; and he died in the fourth

month of his fifty-seventh September the fourteenth,


I am aware of no further details to be procured with regard to the lady of whom we are treating; many could scarcely be expected about one who died young, and who during her life performed no mighty part on the theatre of the world. Of the generality of females in her situation the entire history is comprised in this, that they were born, solaced or fretted their housholds for a while, and died. To her noble birth and noble marriage she could add, that she inspired the greatest man of her age with the purest love of which our heavenly souls are susceptible while here on earth, such love as an angel would delight to awake; that the decease of her mortal frame was mourned universally by her fellow citizens, and her spirit greeted with an unrivalled compliment by being made to personify God-like wisdom ; that her name is identified with one of those few productions destined to survive such long lapses of time, that passing generations sooth their own feelings by attributing its superiority to some superhuman

Cuts u.

power, and therefore lavish ou it the epithets of diviue and immortal, although they are not ignorant that these cannot be strictly merited by anything terrestrial; and, in fine, that she was canonized, if not by a general Council of her Church, at least by one of its most learned theological doctors, lam conscious of being slow, perhaps tiresome: but I have at present lingered with the less scruple, both on account of my desire to give a complete idea of the heroine from her first appearance, and because we shall not see her again for more than half the poem. How can I close better a note spun out to almost an essay than by a hope that the tender , pious poet had his prayer realized ; and that ,on departure from this state of existence, his soul was permitted to ascend and rejoin its lady, the 'sacred Beatrice living in the glorious contemplation of the Being who is blessed throughout eternity? (0.'


I have said Beatrice is to be received as the personification of supreme Philosophy; and it is in that character that Virgil styles her 'queen of the highest virtue.' The whole address much resembles

that of Boetius on a similar occasion O omnium

magistra virtutum! supero cardine delapsa venisti? Jfihilne te ipsa loci facies movet? (a).

(i) Vita Nuota . Firenze i7»3. («) De Consol. 1. i. cap. J—4it.

It appears to have been the author's fixed intent to include in these two prefatory Canti some reference to each department of the sciences that are to be more familiarly introduced on various occasions. Thus he here prepares his reader by an indication of his astronomical system , which was the one then received by all learned men, who by no treatises of theirs could have rendered its knowledge half so popular, as this widely diffused poem did; wherein there are scattered so many references to that branch of erudition, that the audience (if they had taken the pains to become masters of the two first Canticles) must have attained an entire acquaintance with it, even long previous to their arrival at its recapitulated and more detailed exemplification in the third Canticle , or Paradise . A few words are enough at present: the nine heavens of Ptolemy are followed with the addition of a tenth, a moveless infinite one beyond the others, and inwrapping them and all things, according to the Christian belief. They therefore

are in this order: that moveless Empyrean,

within which rolls the prime mover,within it the orbit of the fixed stars, then , one within the other, the seven planets, of which the Moon is the inmost aud consequently describes the narrowest circle. These are celestial: but within or, in other words, beneath the moon lie all terrene

osiit II.

things, the atmospheres of fire and air, and , like the nucleus of the universe, this our orb of earth itself; within whose bowels, (that is near whose centre, which is the centre of creation )are placed C in conformity with the classics ) the infernal regions. The entire creation may thus be considered as divided into earthly and unearthly: the former being spurned by man's soul if guided by true wisdom; and the latter having for its lowest, or, in the terms of the text, its narrowest orbit or sky that of the moon; below which there is therefore nothing, but what our immortal part should learn to view with a feeling of its own superiority: for, in the words of Cicero,—r infra lunam nihil est nisi mortale et caducum, printer animos generi hominum munere Deorum datos (■). Indeed it is highly probable that this sentence of the Romnn orator was present to Dante's recollection when he composed the passage we are considering. He was certainly familiar with a vast number of books, as all his writings show: but those which he turned over night and day were Virgil, Cicero , and Boelius. These were so constantly his companions, that whenever any one of his phrases resemble one of theirs, we may affirm, without difficulty, it was suggested by it; nor do I consider that as detracting from his merit, not even from his chief merit as a poet, invention. How Virgilian is this poem,

(<} Sumnnm Scip. p. ft

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