Imagens das páginas

«:t*TO 1.

were welcome, but an illustrious guest was nol screened from insult (0: although this flattering address ( made years before and probably while he was himself in the zenith of prosperity) might have insured him something like a creditor's claim to protection, in his subsequent adversity. Hence he never remained with this youth after he had become sole lord, an event that occurred in i31 i, by Alboino's decease; and we find Dante in Tuscany as early as April the sixteenth of that very year, writing to the Emperor one of the few of his letters which are still extant (»). At that date, Cap still wanted eleven months of being of age; and Dante never paid any subsequent visit to Verona, except perhaps for a few days in June i3ao to maintain a public disputation , as Cinelli , Negri and others pretend on a very slender authority, (3) a latin pamphlet printed in Venice,

with Dante's name in the title page, but little other proof of authenticity (4). His rambles are hard to follow distinctly; yet, from their multitude and the documents that remain, we see, he did not put the hospitality of any one to a severe trial. His longer sojourns were in Ravenna. In i3i3 he was in Venice and Paris and Avignon and, perhaps, Oxford, in »3i4 in Ravenna, in Friuli in i3i7,in

(i) Petrarca. Rer. Mem. 1. i Cinthio Geraldi. p. aoo.

(») Prose, p. ai i.

(3) Apost. Zeno. Lett.

(4) Qnaestio etc. de aqua et terra.


1318 in Gubbio, in i3it) in Ravenna, in Venice in i3ai (') and, on his return to Ravenna, in September of that year he died. (») Maffei then confounds chronology, in order to obtain Verona the exclusive credit of being the birthplace of the Divine Comedy; and defames its author, to varnish up a paltry despot. This even might be considered as rather the effect of inadvertence, than of voluntary mistatement, if he had not shown that he had read the dedication of Paradise, by quoting it to prove Dante's sense of obligation to Can. Now this dedication alone suffices to refute all the Marquis's stories about the pension allowed by that prince to the poet; for it expressly declares that Dante, far from having acquired opulence, was in pecuniary distress; it contains not a word that can be tortured into a confession of his being pensioned by Can, whom he had left for ever years before; and when it mentions his poverty, it is in the honest tone of a man, who, without expecting or perhaps being willing to receive a favour from the personage to whom he writes, regrets candidly that his private difficulties render him less fit for the service of the public. 'It prevents me from composing a Comment on my poem as well as other works that might be of general utility' — urget

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his expressions: and they probably allude to the necessity of supporting himself by his diplomatic exertions, which curtailed much of his time and indeed, finally, his life, for it was the fatigue of his last vexatious embassy that killed him . Maffei ought rather to have remarked, that this document displays, not the magnificence of the Veronese, but Dante's admirable spirit of independance , which shrunk from remaining indebted to a man from whom he had experienced unkindness and whom he was determined never to revisit: and so repaid a hundred-fold whatever favours he had accepted from that Ducal minor, or his father and brothers, by attaching the name of Scala in front of the sublimest Canticle of his immortal work. Such an observation were the more applicable, from independance being one of those mental features which distinguish Dante among the votaries of Parnassus. Homer, it has been justly observed, is a national poet; Virgil, Ariosto and Tasso, courtly ones. These wrote to flatter the Csesars, and the house of Este; but the Grecian, to celebrate the whole of Greece. Our Milton and Dante were even more universal and independent than Homer; for their compositions were to panegyrise no single nation; but to treat of topics nearly

(t) Dedic. p. 38.

H.MO 1.

equally interesting to all mankind. The Tuscan indeed often speaks of Florence, but such bursts of patriotism are rather accidental elucidations of the main subject, than any essential part of it. They are rarely flattering; and, in comparison with the whole poem, are both short and few: while as to the Paradise lost, I think, it does not contain one passage exclusively directed to England. If Can's largesses were (as is ridiculously pretended) the only cure for Dante's avarice, it was a desperate case. Nor was the prediction of that leader's political prowess any better founded, than of his domestic generosity. Far from curbing the licentiousness of the Papal power in any way, (to say nothing of chasing it from 'State to State'and freeing fair, fallen Italia ) he consumed his life in bacchanal frivolity , and is to thank the Dante , whom his coarseness had dared insult , if his fame now extends beyond the local chronicles of a provincial town .

A CTl.

Poor Dante's presages were, almost all, to be contradicted by the event: a circumstance that might have spared his answering to a charge of proficiency in judicial astrology. That portion of Italy, for which Nisus, Euryalus, Turnus and Camilla fell, was precisely the Papal territory; and this exact designation of it corroborates, more and more, my argument of the she wolf's meaning the ava

atiro i.

ricious Popedom: but the downfal of her temporal usurpations was so far from taking place, that, of all the despotisms from the Alps to Sicily, the district whose regeneration he predicted, was precisely the one that was to groan most hopelessly: and was shortly to. be so reduced, as to regret even its tyrant; who, leaving it in total anarchy, deserted to Avignon .

It is surely strange that we should dwell so much more forcibly on the shades of distinction between our opinions, than on the wide group of such as are common to us all. There seem to be no doctrines more contradictory than fate and freewill, for on none philosophers and divines have disputed with greater warmth: yet Cicero, with a little temper and logic, reduces the reasonable members of both parties to a coufession that their only disagreement is in words, and that they are all substantially of one opinion (0. If that be the case in a controversy wherein at first view the contrast appears as strong as that between light and darkness, how much more must it be so in one which iloes not present even the appearance of important dissimilarities? Yet men seem to have acted on other principles, and often to have combated most inhumanly on the most frivolous pretences. Thus, two Orien

(t) De fato p. xix.

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