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1885, July 18,
Gift of

Charles Eliot Norton, of Oambridfre;



It is perhaps difficult to find a subject in English on which some one has not already written. Yet a commentator on Dante has this advantage; and may fearlessly tell his reader 'use my book until you can find a better.' To a man who has reason to be diffident, such is no small encouragement. A long residence in Italy (I have lived in it for several years and am likely to continue ) and many consequent facilities might render me fitter for my undertaking than my competitors, if I had any; and I am entirely unconscious of having any. My undertaking is a detailed comment on the DiVina Commedia. — a work that embraces a greater variety of matter, than any other poem that has been ever written. The Iliad and Odyssey and the Aeneid have been commented over and over again in a great many languages; and to whatever extent those comments were perfect, or imperfect, the world has always received them willingly, and looked to them

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