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can To it. note appended to it: 'Boccaccio writes that Beatrice when she died was in her twenty-fourth year; but that is false — ma ció e falso; for, considering that Dante fell in love with her towards the close of his ninth year, it follows that it was about April 1274, he being born in May 1265; and the same Dante telling us that Beatrice had entered her ninth year a little before then, who does not clearly see that she must have been born in the said month of April 1265, and that in June 1290 she must have fully completed twenty-six years of age (')?' But, far from seeing clearly, I ask who can understand any thing of all this? In the text, she died in her twenty-sixth year; in the note, after having fully completed twenty-six years of age, ergo when she was in her twenty-seventh year. First, she is nearly a year younger than Dante — entering her ninth when he was closing his ninth year; secondly, as a month older than him — being born in April and he in May of the self-same year 1265; thirdly, as a year older than him — having fully completed twenty-six years when he was only entering them . The same identical page therefore represents him, and with the same tone of decision, as her senior by a year, as her junior by a month, and as her junior by a whole twelvemonth. Again, she is said to have entered her ninth year a little before April
(1) . . . . aveva at anni compiti. Mem. per la vita di Dante. p. 65.
canto it. 1274, when she would, on the contrary, have been
on the point of closing it, were the other assertion not incorrect of her having been born in May 1265. But let that pass : and turn to the conclusion which undertakes to rectify Boccaccio- this latter saying that when Beatrice died in June 1290 she was in her twenty-fourth year, and Pelli that she was twenty-six years old . Dante was truly born in May 1265; so that Beatrice who was about a year younger (in Dante's words she was entering her ninth when he was closing his ninth year) must have been born in or about May the first 1266; but probably on the first itself, from the circumstance of the ball which, I before remarked (), her father gave on that day, and which being a usual birth-day commemoration in dis-, tinguished families, was more likely to be given on the anniversary of her birth than on any other day within the week or fortnight, and within the week or fortnight, either immediately before or after the first of May, she must have been born, according to that phrase of Dante's. Then from May 1266 to May 1267 she was still in her first year; therefore during the first four months of 1290 she was still in her twenty-fourth. She entered her twenty-fifth however in or about May the first, so that on the ninth of the following month she certainly had outlived her twenty-fourth by
(1) p. 95.
to Anto 11. some days or weeks. Boccaccio then by saying she died in her twenty-fourth is not mathematically precise, but makes her a week or two younger than the truth; but the impugner, who accuses him of speaking false, makes her a couple of years too old by asserting she had then completed twenty-six years of age. The slightest correction of the press, and Boccaccio's date is geometrically exact: but, to correct the other's laboured incongruities the en. tire passage must be expunged. Yet I do not enter into these details, either to blame Pelli, or from any weight that I attach to the nice ascertainment of the dying lady's age; but I select his book to exemplify the inaccuracy, not to say slovenliness, of writers on Dante as to dates, exactly because I think Pelli a very satisfactory biographer in several other respects, and because he has obtained the reputation of being very accurate; and I trouble my readers with this digression, in order to merit their confidence for the future. For, if I show that such a man as Pelli who profess. edly undertakes to give a long, minute, chronological memoir on the life of Dante, is quite inexact on the very point on which he had chosen to display himself at issue with Boccaccio, I may reasonably hope, that on various future occasions I shall have credit for prefering Boccaccio to many modern critics and commentators of less reputa. tion than Pelli, and for even frequently dissenting from these latter, without being always under the canto 11. necessity of digressing much to justify that preference, or that dissent. That my preceding calculation as to the age of Beatrice is correct will be easily verified by a moment's reflection, or indeed even without it, upon glancing over the biographical table which I shall here set down, not only to answer the present purpose, but also because it may be sometimes a convenient re. ference hereafter.
Dante born in May 1265 and Beatrice about May 1266, they (from May to May) were in
he his first year 1265 – 6,
he his second 1266 – 7, she her first, he his fifth 1269 – 70, she her fourth, he his sixth 1270 – 1, she her fifth, he his eighth 1272 – 3, she her seventh, he his ninth 1273 — 4, she her eighth, he his tenth 1274 – 5, she her ninth, he his thirteenth 1277 – 8, she her twelfth, he his sixteenth 128o – 1, she her fifteenth, he his nineteenth 1283 – 4, she her eighteenth,
he his twenty-fourth 1288 – 9, she her twenty-third, he his twenty-fifth 1289 – 90, she her twenty-fourth, he his twenty-sixth 1290 – 1, she her twenty-fifth , he his thirtieth 1294 – 5, he his thirty-fourth 1298 – 9, he his thirty-fifth 1299 — 3oo, he his thirty-sixth 13oo — 1,
he his fortieth 13o4 – 5, he his forty-fourth 1308– 9,
he his forty-fifth 1309 — 16, .
he his fiftieth 1314 – 5, he his fifty-sixth 1320 — 1, he his fifty-seventh 1321 – 2.
But she died when barely entered into her twenty-fifth year — June the ninth, 1290; and he died in the fourth
month of his fifty-seventh — September the fourteenth, 1321.
I am aware of no further details to be procured with regard to the lady of whom we are treating; many could scarcely be expected about one who died young, and who during her life performed no mighty part on the theatre of the world. Of the generality of females in her situation the entire history is comprised in this, that they were born, solaced or fretted their housholds for a while, and died. To her noble birth and noble marriage she could add, that she inspired the greatest man of her age with the purest love of which our heavenly souls are susceptible while here on earth, such love as an angel would delight to awake; that the decease of her mortal frame was mourned universally by her fellow citizens, and her spirit greeted with an unrivalled compliment by being made to personify God-like wisdom ; that her name is identified with one of those few productions destined to survive such long lapses of time, that passing generations sooth their own feelings by attributing its superiority to some superhuman