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from the period of his banishment from Florence up to the day of his-tleath; and which might enable a biographer to narrate at least that portion of his life with much exactness of detail. No reasonable doubt can attach to the literary anecdote I am about to relate; for, at the same time that it contradicts nothing told in any of the elder comments, it is itself most circumstantially given by two of the oldest of them, Boccaccio and the Riccardi M. S. which only vary enough to corroborate each other, by showing (an observation already made by me in speaking of Francesca da Rimini) that they were not derived from identical' sources, though their account is identical (0.
Dante was Florentine Ambassador in Rome when the first sentence of banishment was pronounced against him in January, i3oa; and immediately upon learning it, he departed from a city, where it is likely he could not have staid with any safety (since Boniface viu. was yet alive) and retiring to Sienna and thence to Arezzo, was named by the Chiefs of the white Guelphs (as soon as they were exiled , about three months after he had been so himself) one of the twelve counsellors entrusted with the supreme authority; and in this quality he accompanied them in that unsuccessful attempt to re-instate themselves at home in i3o4, which, I said formerly, was patronised by the new Pontiff
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto v. p. 3oo.
Benedict xi; and which terminated so unfortunately, not only for the IVhite Chiefs themselves, but for the whole of the White party (0 . After that overthrow, our Poet wandered into the north of Italy, and took up his residence for at least a short time in Padua; for there is extant a legal instrument belonging to the Papafava family (»), which bears Dante's signature, as one of the witnesses . The asking of him to witness it was probably intended as a compliment to an illustrious stranger; and his signature, besides its usual mode of designating his family and country, informs us that he was regularly domiciliated there, and even tells in what street his house stood (3). Returning into Tuscany we find him signing a treaty in Mugello in i3oy, without specification of month or day (<); but probably in January. From Mugello (where the JFhites made a last feeble struggle ) he went early in the same year, to the Marquis Malaspina's near Sarzana. Thus full Vive years had elapsed since his exile, when he found himself with Malaspina. Although this he an instance in which Boc
(i) Hell, Comment, Canto vi. p. 367.
(») The Marchesc Papafava is still the most considerable nnbleimu of Padua .
(3) Millesimo treeentcsiroo sexto.... die vigesimo aeptimo mensis Augusti, Padue in rontrata 8 Martini in domo Domini
Papafnve; prrsentihns Dantino Alligcrii de Florentia qui nunc itat Padue in coutrnta S. Laurentii, etc. PeHi, Mem. ec. p. 96.
(4) (n Dei nomine Amen J 'S07. Actum in Choro Ab. S. Gaudentii, presentibus, etc. Dom. Tonigianua, Dante Allcghierii, etc. etc. Pelli, Mem. p. 98. /
caccio seems to be at variance with what I now
state ( as well as with the M. S. for it also
descrines Dante as moving about much during this interval ) yet is it only in seeming; for he comes to the same conclusion and indeed corroborates my statement, when, leaping over those five years entirely, he writes: ' it was about five years after his exile, that Dante, being on a visit to the Marchese M. Malaspina, an estimable nobleman of Lunigiana, recovered those Cantos of the Divine Comedy which had been written by him in Florence (').' For the violence of the Blacks against the exiled Whites being a little calmed about this time, and popular excesses consequently repressed, the sufferers began to be permitted to turn themselves towards legal interference and seek for some reparation for their losses fa): on which Dante's wife (who was a Donati, and had with her children obtained refuge in her brother's house, when obliged to fly from her own ) was advised to put in her claim likewise, and to require that at least her dowry should be paid out of her condemned husband's property which seems to
(i) This family, (no longer independent princes) even yet hold their Marquisate; but under Genova. I am intimate with the present Marquis. His habitation, though ancient, is not the ancient feudal castle , but stands a little below it. Eren that old rocca however still exist* in a dilapidated state; and the chamber of Dante is shown to visitors.
(») Riposato lo stato di Firenze e cessate le ruberie, fu conceduto ad assai Cittadini, ancorche fossino di fuori, di poter ridimandare il loro che era stato occupato. Bib. Rice. M. S. Cod. toi6.
have been still in the forcible possession of some potent individuals, rather than irrevocably confiscated to the State (0. To make this petition with any hopes of success, it was necessary to corroborate her brother's authority (who was a chieftain of the triumphant faction ) with that of her own marriage articles. These, along with all the writings of her husband, she had thrown into a box; with which she escaped at the moment the mob were advancing : and papers seem to have been the only matter of property which she had time to save from that relentless rabble, who soon reduced Dante's house to a few bare walls. There is no ground for believing her to have been a literary lady, nor were writings in those days of any mercantile value; it was then a natural and affecting example of conjugal tenderness in her, to select, in that moment of trepidation and danger, not any of the effects which were of more intrinsic worth in vulgar eyes (and probably even in her
(i) Passati ben 5 anni o più , dopo che le caie di quei condannati furono rubate, e che i possenti n'occuparono chi una possessione, e chi un'altra, e similmente quelle di Dante, la città essendo venuta a più convenevole reggimento, le persone cominciarono a domandare loro ragione, chi con un titolo, e chi con un'altro (Boccaccio, Comento, Voi. a. p. «i— ). Onde fu consigliata la donna di Dante, che ella almeno colle ragioni della dote sua dovesse dei di lui beni raddomaodare: onilc essa, che fu sirocchia del baccellieri de'Donati, e al tempo della cacciata di Dante avea portato uno suo forziere a casa del fratello, per volere ridimandare certi beni ch'erano occupati da un grande buomo di Firenze, andd a quasto forziere e mend seco Ser Dino Perrini uno grande amico di Dante; e cercando di sue carte, trovo i sette Capitoli scritti tutti dalla man» di Dante stesso. Bib. Rice. M. S. ut snpra .
own), but the loose papers of her husband; which she felt would be the most acceptable present to make him, in case he and she should ever meet again (0. Meet again they never did, nor could. The one past the remainder of his life in forlorn poverty in foreign lands, daily hoping to be recalled to Florence and daily finding his hopes deferred: and the other remained under her brother's roof, bringing up her six children as well as she could .(yet poorly and with difficulty) on the little she could scrape up from her husband's ruin; and probably indulging the false hopes of his return, that he did himself. Had she left Florence, their offspring would have been reduced to the same total penury as their father; who ( allowed no remittances from home) went wandering over the world , sometimes a transient guest, but generally the occasional diplomatic agent of one or other of the little Italian States(»). When the marriage articles were inquired after, she thought of the box of papers, which in scrupulous fidelity she is said to have kept unopened up to that hour; and sus
(i) Boccaccio indeed uses the plural : but the Rice. M. S. says emphatically that it was one box she saved — unojorziert.
(») Era alcuna particella delle sue possessioni dalla Donna col titolo della sua dote dalla cittadioa rabbia stata con fatica difesa : de'frutti della quale essase e i piccioli figliuoli di lui, assai sottilmente reggeva;perlaqual cosa , povcro, con industria disusata gli convenia il sostentameuto di se medesimo procacciare. Ob! quanti onesti sdegni gli convenne posporre, piu duri a lui che la murte ... colla sperauza della prostima ritoruata, ec. Boccaccio, Vita di Dante, p. a34.