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jealously contends, that the Emperor should not even be permitted to interfere with the particular
constitutions of the country animadvertendum
sane, quod cum dicitur humanum genus potest regi per unum supremum principem, non sic intel. ligendum est, ut ab illo uno prodire possint rnunicipia et leges municipales. Habent namque nationes, regna, et civitates inter se proprietates quas legibus differentibus regulari oportet. If the various nations, realms, and states of Italy were thus to have their own legislatures, and that there only was to be, for the common utility, a common chief to maintain the public concord, (as is continually repeated by Dante in pre-conformity to the sound, whig principle , cited more than once in the same page, that the people is not created for the sovereign , but on the contrary the sovereign
for the people, non enim gens propter regem,
sed e converso rex propter gentem ) then
indeed the Emperor was, in point of substantial force, to be little more than what the President is in the United States, and the desire of our poet was really that of a federal commonwealth; which, if it had taken place, would have insured the independence of Italy and have suppressed the intestine conflicts between those 'democracies , oligarchies, and tyrannies that equally reduce the human kind into servitude, as is everywhere most
evident' democratic, oligarchial, atque tyranni
des quae in servilutein cogunt genus humanum, ut
ubique patet. It is no fault of his, therefore, if we must traverse the Atlantic for a model of federalism; which alone, perhaps, could have conferred durability on those turbulent republics and principalities, always in revolution and with a large portion of their population exiled, and whose sanguinary rapacity was at such a pitch, that they could never rest from petty yet cruel and obstinate wars undertaken, if there was no more plausible pretence to be discovered, for any thing however ridiculous, even for an old water-bucket (0. The reason for selecting the Emperor as that common Italian chief was obviously, because, as legitimate heir to the Roman diadem, he was the only individual in whose favour it was possible that the Italians might have united. In the third book he thus continues: 'Confiding in the promises made to Daniel, that the Divinity will be himself a buckler to the advocates of truth; putting on the armour of faith, according to the admonition of S. Paul; heated with that burning coal, which one of the Seraphim took from the celestial altar and applied to the lip of Isaiah ; and strengthened by the arm of Him , who, with his blood, redeemed us from 'he powers of darkness ; I advance to the struggle in order to chase iniquity and lies from the face °f the earth. Why should I fear? Spoke not the spirit of the co-eternal Father and Sou, by the
(<) La SecchU Rapiu .
mouth of David, « the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, and shall not be afraid of
evil tidings ? (0 » Between two great luminaries
am I called on to pronounce, between the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Prince; and to decide whether this latter (whom I have shown to be a legitimate Monarch) be dependant immediately upon God, or only mediately, through the interposition of the Vicar of God, I mean, of the successor of S. Peter, who truly is the bearer of the keys of the kingdom of heaven' And, having substantiated several irrefragable, but in our age superfluous arguments, touching the difference between spiritualities and temporalities, which it has ever been the chief policy of the Papacy to confuse, he thus winds up the whole 'Wherefore, imbued with the reverence that a pious child owes to his father, that a pious child owes to his mother, pious towards Christ, pious towards the Church , pious towards its Pastor, pious towards all the professors of the Christian religion , I say ( to uphold what is the truth) that, of all earthly creatures, man alone is created for a double end, a corruptible one and an incorruptible. Unerring Providence then has destined him to a twofold felicity; that of this life, which is figured by the terrestrial Paradise, and which is attainable by the exercise of philosophy and virtue, and that of eter
(i) Psalms cxii. 6.
nity, consisting in the fruition of the sight of the Divinity, and shadowed forth by the celestial Paradise, which cannot be merited by mere human virtues till they be aided by the grace of God. In unison with these two ends, we certainly require
two rulers: the Pontiff, whose duty it is to lead
men, in conformity with revelation, to life everlasting; and the Emperor, whose business consists in the employment of philosophical ordinances to promote human welfare here below. Hence should the Emperor's principal object be the maintenance of public peace; which alone can insure us something of the slight, rare portion of content which is attainable, though with difficulty, in this our lowly sojourn,where people can expect no port whatever, until the present ocean of turbulence and cupidity be somewhat appeased. This earthly sovereignty is dependant upon God alone, is ordained by him, and has no other superior. Not that I should be understood to assert, that, absolutely in nothing the Roman Prince is to look up to the Roman Pontiff; for our mortal is but a type of our immortal happiness. Let Caesar then testify that respect to Peter, which an eldest son should to his father: but as to unlimited command, it certainly belongeth de jure only to that Being on high , who is Ruler of every thing alike, spiritual and temporal (0.',
(i) Dantis Monarch!*. Colon. Allob. i740.
It follows, that when Dante expresses his obedience to the Pope, it is in a spiritual capacity; and that what he reviles is a temporal usurpation . This distinction is never kept in view by his enemies; nor even enough so by those who think more kindly of him. Yet is it the obvious duty of an annotator to give, not his own opinions, but, as fairly as he can discern them , those of his author. This I have endeavoured to do, and to mark clearly, at this outset, the line of thought which I find pervading his various writings; in order that it may serve as a general regulator in the explaining of a multitude of passages; which otherwise may easily be made diverge either to the one side or to the other of the fine pivot on which alone, it appeared to him, the scales of truth could maintain their equipoise: and against the commentator who would represent him as making any such divergence, whether favourable or unfavourable to the Pope, I am convinced, from my study of Dante's productions, (and I state his sentiments without meddling with the question, if they be right, or wrong) that he would equally protest, whether the comment were offered as matter of reprobation, or of encomium .
Some of those who consider this fine proem as the product of judgment, as well as of fancy, ( in which light it surely merits to be viewed) may,