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and thus corroborates my former observations on perche tieni ?-(0.
0. '- XIVI.
This is the second, and direct part of the reply to Dante's demand. ' All those whose crowns appear shaven were Popes and Cardinals; for it is with regard to these that avarice uses its fullest measure C1). ' Lombardi accuses the Academy of introducing the false reading of' uses ' ( usa ) instead of ( uso)' used;' but in this he seems to be very wrong. ' It was not merely on the authority of the majority of M. S. S. nor to avoid elision of an accented vowel ( for that such a poetic licence was sometimes admissable, they well knew), but because the context pointed it out as the true reading, that the Academicians preferred it. The clerical delicacy which thus interposes to lessen the '.scandal' of Dante is futile; except it could at the same time erase the other much harsher invectives, which are up and down in the poem, against the clergy of his day. He must be justified not by softening down his expressions, but by showing he had reason to employ the harshest: and that his great ancestor tells him positively to speak the whole truth without reserve (J).'
(0 p. 4»«.
(a) Soverchio, quasi andante sopra lo cerchio, cioe all'orlo del Tjso. Biagioli, Comento, Vol. i.p. i46. Mr. Cary leaves out this metaphor. Neither does he introduce ihe characteristic term 'tonsures' (chercnti) any where in his version of the passage.
(3) Paradise, Cantoxvn. — Biagioli, Comento, vol. i. p. i46.
That a monstrous portion of the Catholic clergy, though free from the cares of wife and family, had 'so far receded from evangelical simplicity during several ages previous to the reformation, as to be a class notorious for avarice and prodigality, is a fact not more severely denounced by any than by Catholic writers themselves; and it is to those vices some of them attribute the reformation. ' Irresistible is the impulse' (says Madame deStae'l) 'which men of talents feel to attack the strongest; and such indeed is the sign by which we may ever distinguish the effervescence of real genius . When therefore we recollect the potency of the Church in Dante's day and his own rigid morals and profound piety, it is no wonder that he expressed himself with vehemence against Priests, Cardinals, and Popes; if their conduct was really ruinous to the State and disgraceful to religion . 'It was holy and honest indignation,' writes Landino, ,'that made both Dante and Petrarch thunder against the dignitaries of their own communion. But Alas! the evils they combated exist still: for who does
not behold men rather brutes than men
without either learning or morals, who, though too ignorant and vicious to merit a curacy in the smallest village, are raised to elevated stations; which they prostitute in the vilest manner, amassing with most exorbitant avarice , by the most atrocious injustice, huge treasure; and soon spending it prodigally in such unheard-of debauchery and revels, that in comparison with them Sardanapalusand Heliogabalus were temperate Saints (0? '' If there exist in the world' (exclaims Boccaccio) 'people immersed beyond all measure in avarice they are our great Prelates; who give, nay fling away Archbishoprics, Bishoprics, Abbeys, and the other benefices of our sacred Church upon idiots, drunkards, gluttons, and wicked furious men contaminated with every description of enormous vice; and these they are who lead Christendom to hell (*). ' This religious poet might well then have expressed himself as he did. But another line of
Madame de Stael's 'actions and writings should
be judged with a reference to their dates' may
imply that his asperity would have been otherwise directed, had he lived nearer to the present time. Wherever vice appeared with the most triumphant effrontery, thither would have been pointed his dauntless, heaven-inspired pen . Wherever justice was most grossly outraged, whether under pretence of religion, or of civil freedom, he would have resented the profanation: and if it be against pretenders to the former that we find him most emphatic , we shall discern ' the reason in the date.' The Clergy were the direst offenders during his life: but had they been persecuted in their turn , and exposed to at least as much violence and insult as ever they exerted , there i% evidence
(i) Comento , p. 43. (a) Id. vol. II- p-49
enough in this poena to certify that he would have changed his style, though not sentiments; for these were strikingly an union (, to repeat my former words ) of entire fidelity to his own Church with much tolerance towards that of others (0. If bribery, plunder, extortion, and all the enormities of avarice and debauch were displayed by pseudo-republicans , and free discussion interdicted by pseudo-philosophers, it is them that our poet, who was truly both a philosopher and a republican, would have reprobated: for the context of all his writings justify the assertion, that it was manifestly to the beneficial or pestilential nature.of men's actions that he attended, and not to see by what rank or garb the actors were distinguished military or clerical 'whether by toga or cassock , bonnet or tonsure (»).'
Virgil, having given a negative to Dante's question whether any of those shades were to be recognised, goes on to tell him of the appearance which their bodies shall present when rising from the grave on the last day. The Avaricious shall be seen with 'clenched hand' (col pugno chiuso):
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto ti,p. 87.
(a) Sive ille Epiicopus , sive sit laicus; Imperator et dominus, ant miles et servus, nut in purpura , ant in serico , aut in vilitsimo panno jaceat; nun honurnm diversitate, sod operum merito judicabitur . l'ebrunius, de statu Ecclesiae , p. 77*.
and this is the expression which, I already said, should be understood even of the semblances of bodies (0, the ghosts, after (perche tieni ? ) ' why keep?' The prodigals shall rise to judgment with
bald crowns' ( co'crin mozzi ): which may
refer either to the Italian ' they have shaved him* (1'hanno pelato), the proverbial mode of designating a man ruined by his excesses; or else to the medical observation that premature baldness is generally the consequence of a wild, extravagant life. This want of hair is not to be referred to the tonsures, or shaven heads, of the Romish clergy as twice before alluded to in verse xxxix and xLv1. It is only the prodigals that are to rise with 'bald crowns;' whereas the Clergy, though accused both of avarice and prodigality , were more characteristically guilty of the former vice. Then whatever resemblance appear between the figures, this present one has nothing to do with either of the preceding 00.
'Evil spending and evil hoarding robbed them
(i) La vanita che par persona. Inf. Canto vi. v. 1t5.
(a) This resemblance is not much in the Italian. Neither the technical term chercuti, nor coperchio piloso al capo (which is only applicable to the upprr part nf the head and is thus synonimons with chercuti, 'tonsured') has a similar signification with crin mozzi—which last expression refeis to the entire head of hair as being cut or torn off. But Mr. Gary's "whose heads aieshorn,""that with no hairy cowls are crowned" and "those with close-shaven locks" all seem synonimet.