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fuisse felicem(0.This latter book, along with Tully, was Dante's first solace after Beatrice's death, as he tells us himself in the Convito. 'After I had lost the early delight of my soul, I remained long in a state of desolation that nothing could alleviate. At last however my understanding, admitting the possibility of a cure, engaged me to recur to those topics of consolation, which had been found useful to others in their woes; and so I applied myself to the reading of the volume (not known to many) which Boetius composed to assuage the suffering of his captivity and exile; and learning that Tully, in his treatise on Friendship, wrote to condole with good Lelius on the death of his friend, Scipio, I began to read that also. And although I found it rather difficult at first to enter entirely into the spirit of thoqe compositions , nevertheless, what with the grammatical lore I had acquired , and what with some little genius of my own, I became imbued with their thought, and had, as it were in a dream of the fancy, a succession of visions as may be seen in the Vita Nuova (a). These last expressions show, that those commentators who describe the book of Boetius as being first resorted to by Dante for consolation in his exile, have made a mistake: for he had been familiar with it, from the period of the decease of' the earliest delight of his soul,' Beatrice, and before he had finished
(i) De Contol. Lib. a. Cap. 4
(j) ConTItO, p. |)5.
composing his Vita Nuova; that is, before the
close of his twenty-sixth year, in i29i^ or ten
years previous to his exile (0. This tract of Boetius, which was little noticed in Dante's age, is less so now: it has however been in great fashion at different times, and not unfrequently been even a royal manual; James i, of Scotland, read it in the Tower of London; Alfred turned it into Saxon,and queen Elisabeth into English (a). The tiercet that immediately follows is an imitation of Virgil: Sed si tantus amor casus cognoscere nostros,
Quanquam animus meminisse horret, luctuque refugit, Incipiam (3)
and, notwithstanding what is borrowed from Boetius, the title Dottore naturally refers to Virgil, for several reasons, but particulary because he was there present, so that Francesca pointed to him while she spoke.
They were reading Launcelot of the lake, (as I said before) a romance in which the hero finds himself with the fair Ginevra and kisses her. There was a confidant on the occasion; whose name,Galeotto, became so synonimous with that
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of an abettor of illicit amours, that, the early editions of the Decameron were inscribed Prince Galeotto in the title-page, in order to warn the reader of their sensual tendency. This is the reason that Francesca calls both the Romance that misled them and its author, Galeotto; that is to say,i/wpure and false: M. Ginguene" does not preserve this idea of culpability, for he construes Galeotto messagers d'amour. Neither is he happy in rendering disiato riso; besides which, he does not give ',all trembling;' but what would have most merited M. Biagioli's severity is the converting of la bocca mi bacio into il colla sur mes levres sa bouche : for surely nothing can be worse adapted to express the first fluttering kiss of timid love than the word coller. How wide is it from Boccaccio's observation: 'excellently doth our Author paint the mode of proceeding among such as love fervently; for these, whatever be the favours offered them, can never without trembling cull them for the first time(0. Disiato riso seems taken
from Catullus' desiderio meo nitenti words
rendered by the scholiast 'my beautiful girl (»):' and perhaps the discolouring of their cheeks, scolorocci ilviso, from Sapho, or the Latin of Longinus. If Dante truly had Longinus in his memory all trembling may have come from the same
(i) Coroento, Vol- i. p. 3ai.
(a) . . . pitrllte mecefonnosce. Desiderium vocatur puella cnju* detiderio am a tor flagrat. Carru. 2. ex rec•n- During.
sublime source (0. After what I have said in my Preface, I refrain from ever noticing M. Cary's translation excepting where I find it literally defective; yet on this one occasion, it may be allowed me, in justice to my Author, to regret that it is possible for much literal exactness to co exist with sp-eomplete a dearth of the spirit and melody of the original. Yet even literally, he is not more happy than M. Ginguene in translating Galeotto, "love's purveyors. " Once more we here find Francesca repeating with complacency that her companion will never leave her: piteous then is it to behold a late commentator labouring to spoil this charming poetry by making this constancy of Paul be an increase of their punishment (»), and not a consolation; as if his faithful presence were like that of an ever-tormenting fiend, instead of being, as it truly is, a sweet, soothing circumstance that sheds enchantment over the entire passage.
This is that closing line of Francesca's speech to which I already alluded, as most delicate and sublime: sublime, from the multitudinous imagery
(i) . tremorqns
Occupat totam; velut bcrba pallet)t
(») Questo cheormai in etemo, per sua » mia maggiore pena, dovra euermi indiviiibil compagno. Poggiali, Ed. Livorno, i807. Vol. 3. p. 74.
'it suggests of all her woes, and joys, and errors (to whatever extent we choose to draw these last); and delicate to such a degree, that, if it be true that they imply the glowing crime of adultery, it may most fairly be asserted, that never, before, or since, was an iniquitous idea conveyed in sounds so free from any thing that could be considered unbecoming of a lady's, or even of a seraph's lip. Aquino in his Latin version has paraphrased them prettily enough:
Distulimus post hsec sontes evolvere chartas;
Sorites? heu miseram! gravias nocuere remotae.
It is displeasing to criticise details of a production which we unaffectedly admire as a whole: still 1 will not permit myself to conceal my opinion of Mr. Hunt's miscarriage in the imitation of this verse:
"The world was all forgot, the struggle o'er,
"Desperate the joy that day we read no more ."
Now in this way there is no longer the least ihuend6: i that day we read no more' is certainly verbally an accurate translation; but what information does it convey? The original is pregnant with information: so much so, that, besides its obvious allusion to scenes of blood and distress, many consider it as so eloquent that it affords a sufficient proof of actual adultery; although totally unsupported by any other testimony, as we have seen Boccaccio affirms. The preceding parts of Mr. Hunt's couplet disclose in flaming terms all that