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Four renown, or that of any one of us, to fame that endures for but a little part of move from those cultivated and inhabited a single year? If, then, you would fain spots of ground, and pass beyond that direct your regards on high and aspire Caucasus, or swim across yonder Ganges to this mansion and eternal abode, you What inhabitant of the other parts of neither will devote yourself to the ru. the east, or of the extreme regions of the mours of the vulgar, nor will you rest seiting sun, of those tracts that run your hopes and your interest on human toward the south or toward the north, rewards. Virtue herself ought to attract shall ever hear of your name? Now, you by her own charms to true glory ; supposing them cut off, you see at once what others may talk of you, for talk within what narrow limits your glory they will, let themselves consider. But would fain expand itself. As to those all such talk is confined to the narrow who speak of you, how long will they limits of those regions which you see. speak?
None respecting any man was everlasting, "Let me even suppose that a future It is boih extinguished by the death or race of men shall be «lesirous of trans- the individual, and perishes altogether in mitting to their posterity your renown the oblivion of posterity.' or mine, as they received it from their Which, when he had said, I replied, fathers; yet when we consider the con. "Truly, O Africanus, since the path to vul-ions and conflagrations that must heaven lies open to those who have necessarily happen at definite deserved well of their country, though period, we are unable to attain not only from my childhood I have ever trod in to an etemal, but even to a lasting same. your and my father's footsteps without Now of what consequence is it to you to disgracing your glory, yet now, with so be talked of by those who are born after noble a prize set before me, I shall strive you, and not by those who were born with much more diligence.” before you, who certainly were as nume “ Do so strive,” replied he, "and do rous and more virtuous, -- especially as not consider yourself, but your body, to among the very men who are thus to be mortal. For you arız not the being celebrate our renown not a single one which this corporeal figure evinces; but can preserve the recollections of a single the mind of every man is the man, and year? For mankind ordinarily measure not that form which may be delineated their year by the revolution of the sun, with a finger. Know cherefore that you that is, of a single heavenly body. But are a divine person. Since it is divinity when all the planets shall return to the that has consciousness, sensation, mesame position which they once had, and mory, and foresight, -that governs, bring back after a long rotation the same regulates, and moves thai body over aspect of the entire heavens, then the which it has been appointed, just as the year may be said to be truly completed ; Supreme Deity rules this world ; and in in which I do not venture to say how like manner as an eternal God guides many ages of mankind will be contained. this world, which in some respect is For, as of old, when the spirit of Romulus perishable, so an eternal spirit animates entered these temples, the sun disap. your frail body. peared to mortals and seemed to be “ For ihat which is ever moving is extinguislied ; so whenever the sun, at eternal ; now that which communicates the same time with all the stars and to another object a motion which it constellations brought back to the same received elsewhere, must necessarily starting - point, shåll again disappear, cease to live as soon as its motion is at then you are to reckon the year to an end. Thus the being which is selfbe complete. But be assured that the motive is the only being that is eternal, twentieth part of such a year is not yet because it never is abandoned by its
own properties, neither is this self-motion If
, therefore, you hope to return to ever at an end ; nay, this is the fountain, this place, toward which all the aspira- this is the beginning of motion to all tions of great and good men are tending, things that are thus subjects of motion. what must be the value of that human Now there can be no commencement of
what is aboriginal, for all things proceed material torments : spirits which had from a beginning ; therefore a beginning put off the mortal body, cognizable by can rise from no other cause, for if it the corporeal sense. The mediæval proceeded from another cause it would Hell had gathered from all ages, all not be aboriginal, which, if it have no lands, all races, its imagery, its denizens, commencement, certainly never has an its site, its access, its commingling hor. end; for the primeval principle, if ex. rors; from the old Jewish traditions, tinct, can neither be reproduced from perhaps from the regions beyond the any other source, nor produce anything sphere of the Old Testament; from the else from itself, because it is necessary Pagan poets, with their black rivers, that all things should spring from some their Cerberus, their boatman and his original source.'
crazy vessel ; perhaps from the Teutonic Hela, through some of the earlier visions. Then came the great Poet, and reduced
all this wild chaos to a kind of order, HELL, PURGATORY, AND
moulded it up with the cosmical notions HEAVEN.
of the times, and made it, as it were, one Milman's History of Latin Christianity. with the prevalent mundane system. Book XIV. ch. 2.
Above all, he brought it to the very Throughout the Middle Ages the borders of our world; he made the life world after death continued to reveal beyond the grave one with our presenc more and more fully its awful secrets. life ; he mingled in close and intimate Hell, Purgatory, Heaven became more relation the present and the future. Hell, distinct, if it may be so said, more visible. Purgatory, Heaven, were but an immeTheir site, their topography, their tor- diate expansion and extension of the ments, their trials, their enjoyments, present world. And this is among the became more conceivable, almost more wonderful causes of Dante's power, the palpable to sense : till Dante summed realizing the unreal by the admixture of up ihe whole of this traditional lore, or the real : even as in his imagery the at least, with a Poet's intuitive sagacity, actual, homely, every-day language or seized on all which was most imposing, similitude mingles with and heightens effective, real, and condensed it in his the fantastic, the vague, the transmunthree co-ordinate poems. That Hell had dane. What effect had Hell produced, a local existence, that immaterial spirits if peopled by ancient, almost immemosuffered bodily and material torments, rial objects of human detestation, Nimnone, or scarcely one hardy speculative rod or Iscariot, or Julian or Mohammed ? mind, presumed to doubt. Hell had It was when Popes all but living, Kings admitted, according to legend, more but now on their thrones, Guelfs who than one visitant from this upper world, had hardly ceased to walk the streets of who returned to relate his fearful journey Florence, Ghibellines almost yet in exile, to wondering man: St. Farcy, St. Vettin, revealed their awful doom,—this it was a layman Bernilo. But all these early which, as it expressed the passions and descents interest us only as they may be the fears of mankind of an instant, im. supposed or appear to have been fairt mediate, actual, bodily, comprehensible types of the great Italian Poet. Dante place of torment; so, wherever it was is the one authorized topographer of the read, it deepened that notion, and made mediæval Hell. His originality is no it more distinct and natural. This was more called in question by these mere the Hell, conterminous to the earth, but signs and manifestations of the popular separate, as it were, by a gulf passed by belief, than by the existence and reality almost instantaneous transition, of which of those objects or scenes in external the Priesthood held the keys. These keys nature which he describes with such the audacious Poet had wrenched from unrivalled truth. In Dante meet un- their hands, and dared to turn on many reconciled (who thought of or cared for of themselves, speaking even against Their reconciliation ?) those strange con- Popes the sentence of condemnation. tradictions, immaterial souls subject to | Oribat which Hell, Purgatory, Heaven,
were in popular opinion during the tion, closed not with the grave. The Yiddle Ages, Dante was but the full, departed soul was still to a certain de. deep, concentred expression ; what he gree dependent upon the Priest. They embodied in verse, all men believed, had yet a mission, it might be of feared, hoped.
mercy; they had still some power of Purgatory had now its intermediate saving the soul after it had departed from place between Heaven and Hell, as the body. Their faithf love, their ini unquestioned, as undisturbed by doubt ; exhaustible interest, might yet rescue the its existence was as much an article of sinner; for he had not reached those uncontested popular belief as Heaven gates-over which alone was written, or Hell. It' were as unjust and un " There is no hope"-the gates of Hell. philosophical to attribute all the legen- That which was a mercy, a consolation, cary lore which realized Purgatory to became a trade, an irrexhaustible source the sordid invention of the Churchman of wealth. Praying souls out of Pur. or the Monk, as it would be unhistori- gatory by masses said on their behalf, cal to deny the use which was made of became an ordinary office, an office this superstition to exact tribute from which deserved, which could demand, the fears or the fondness of mankind. which did demand, the most prodigal But the abuse grew out of the belief; remuneration. It was later that the the belief was not slowly, subtly, de- Indulgence, originally the remission of libera:ely instilled into the mind for so much penance, of so many days, the sake of the abuse. Purgatory, pos- weeks, months, years, or of that which sible with St. Augustine, probable with was the commutation for penance, so Gregory the Great, grew up, I am per- much almsgiving or munificence to suaded, (its growth is singularly indis- churches or Churchmen, in sound at tinct and untraceable,) out of the mercy least extended (and mankind, the high and modesty of the Priesthood. To and low vulgar of mankind, are govthe eternity of Hell torments there is erned by sound) its significance : it was and ever must be-notwithstanding the literally understood as the remission of peremptory decrees of dogmatic theology so many years, sometimes centuries, of and the reverential dread in so many Purgatory. religious minds of tampering with what If there were living men to whom it seems the language of the New Testa had been vouchsafed to visit and to ment-a tacit repugnance. But when return and to reveal the secrets of remote the doom of every man rested on the lips and terrible Hell, there were those too of the Priest, on his absolution or refusal who were admitted in vision, or in actual of absolution, that Priest might well life to more accessible Purgatory, and tremble with some natural awe-awe brought back intelligence of its real local not confessed to himself—at dismissing existence, and of the state of souls within the soul to an irrevocable
, unrepealable, its penitential circles. There is a legend unchangeable destiny. He would not be of St. Paul himself; of the French monk averse to pronounce a more mitigated, a St. Farcy; of Drithelm, related_by Teversible sentence. The keys of Heaven Bede; of the Emperor Charles the Fai, and of Hell were a fearful trust, a ter- by William of Malmesbury. Matthew rible responsibility; the key of Purga. Paris relates two or three journeys of the tory might be used with far less pre- Monk of Evesham, of Thurkill, an Essex sumption, with less trembling confidence. peasant, very wild and fantastic
. The Then came naturally, as it might seem, Purgatory of St. Patrick, the Purgatory the strengthening and exaltation of the of Owen Miles, the vision of Alberic of efficacy of prayer, of the efficacy of the Monte Casino, were among the most feligious ceremonials, of the efficacy of popular and wide-spread legends of the the sacrifice of the altar, and the efficacy ages preceding Dante; and as in Hell
, of the intercession of the Saints: and so in Purgatory, Dante sums up in his these all within the province, within the noble verses the whole theory
, the whole power, of the Sacerdotal Order. Their popular belief as to this intermediate authority, their influence, their interven-sphere.
If Hell and Purgatory thus dimly it should seem, is below the ascending divulged their gloomy mysteries, if they circles of the Celestial Hierarchies, tha: had been visited by those who returned immediate vestibule or fore-court of the to actual life, Heaven was unapproached, Holy of Holies, the Heaven of Heavens, unapproachable. To be wrapt to the into which the most perfect of the Saints higher Heaven remained the privilege of are admitted. They are commingled the Apostle ; the popular conception was with, yet unabsorbed by, the Redeemer, content to rest in modest ignorance. in mystic union ; yet the mysticism still Though the Saints might descend on reverently endeavours to maintain some beneficent missions to the world of man; distinction in regard to this Light, which, of the site of their beatitude, of the state as it has descended upon earth, is drawn of the Blessed, of the joys of the supernal up again to the highest Heavens, and world, they brought but vague and inde has a kind of communion with the yet finite tidings. In truth, the notion of Incommunicable Deity. That in all ihe Heaven was inextricably mingled up with Paradise of Dante there should be : the astronomical and cosmogonical as dazzling sameness, a mystic indistinct. well as with the theological notions of ness, an inseparable blending of the real the age.
Dante's Paradise blends the and the unreal, is not wonderful, is we Ptolemaic system with the nine angelic consider the nature of the subject, and circles of the Pseudo Dionysius ; the the still more incoherent and incongruous material heavens in their nine circles ; popular conceptions which he had to above and beyond them, in the invisible represent and to harmonise. It is more heavens, the nine Hierarchies; and yet wonderful that, with these few elements, higher than the highest_heavens the Light, Music, and Mysticism, he should, dwelling of the Ineffable Trinity. The by his singular talent of embodying the Beatific Vision, whether immediate or purely abstract and metaphysical thought to await the Last Day, had been cluded in the liveliest imagery, represent such rather than determined, till the rash and things with the most objective truth, yet presumptuous theology of Pope John without disturbing their fine spiritualism. XXII. compelled a declaration from the The subtilist scholasticism is not more Church. But yet this ascent to the Heaven subtile than Dante. It is perhaps a bold of Heavens would seem from Dante, the assertion, but what is there on these best interpreter of the dominant concep- transcendent subjects in the vast theology tions, to have been an especial privilege of Aquinas, of which the essence and if it may be so said, of the most Blessed sum is not in the Paradise of Dante? of the Blessed, the Saint of Saints. Dante, perhaps, though expressing to a There is a manifest gradation in Beati- great extent the popular conception of tude and Sanctity. According to the Heaven, is as much by his innate subuniversal cosmical theory, the Earth, limity above it, as St. Thomas himself. the round and level Earth, was the centre of the whole system.
It was usually supposed to be encircled by the
THE VISION OF FRATE AL. vast, circumambient, endless ocean ;
Wright, St. Patrick's Purgatory, p. 118. Elysian Fields of the poets) was placed Alberic, when he wrote his vision, a Paradise, where the souls of men here was a monk of Monte Cassino. His after to be blest awaited the final resur- father was a baron, lord of the castle de rection. Dante takes the other theory: Sette Fratelli, in the Campagna of he peoples the nine material heavens Rome. In his tenth year, the child that is, the cycle of the Moon, Venus, Alberic was seized with a languor, and Mercury, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, lay nine days and nine nights in a trance, the fixed stars, and the firmament above, to all appearance dead. As soon as he or the Primum Mobile-with those who had fallen into this condition, a white are a imitted to a progressively advancing bird, like a dove, came and put its bill state of glory and blessedness. All this, into his mouth, and seemed to lift him
the end of which seemed to be fastened hunted and tormented by a demon
thrown; and after this there stood anbroad and easy for the virtuous to pass ; infeinal pit, (os infernalis baratri,) a vast purge them of their sins. After this the They next came to the mouth of the until they had been sufficiently boiled to stench, and full of screaming and howi. i plain, three days' and three nights' magnitude, bound by a great chain, the and brambles, in which souls were
, and then he saw St. Peter and two pent stood a multitude of souls, which angels, who carried him to the lower he sucked in like flies at each breath, regions St. Peter told him that he and then, with the return of respiration, sould see the least torments first, and blew them out scorched to sparks; and afterwards, successively, the more terrible this process continued till the souls were panishments of the other world. They purged of their sins. The pit was sur came first to a place filled with red-hot dark that Alberic could not see what burning cinders and boiling vapour, in was going on in hell. After quitting which little children were purged; those this spot, Alberic was conducted first to of one year old being subjected to this a valley in which persons who had comtorment during seven days; those of two mitted sacrilege were burnt in a sea of years
, fourteen days; and so on, in pro- fames; then to a pit of fire in which portion to their age. Then they entered simonists were punished ; next to a place a terrible valley, in which Alberic saw a filled with flames, and with serpents and great number of persons plunged to dif- dragons, in which were tormented those ferent depths, according to their different who, having embraced the monastic prodegrees of criminality, in frost,
and cold, fession, had quitted it and returned to a and ice, which consumed them like fire ; secular life ; and afterwards to a great these were adulterers, and people who black lake of sulphureous water, full of had led impure lives. Then they ap: serpents and scorpions, in which the proached a still more fearful valley, filled souls of detractors and false witnesses with trees, the branches of which were were immersed to the chin, and their long spikes, on which hung women faces continually flogged with serpents transfixed through their breasts, while by demons who hovered over them. On Jenomous serpents were sucking them; the borders of hell, Alberic saw two these were women who had refused pity malignant spirits” in the form of a orphans. Other women, who had dog and a lion, which he was told blew been saithless to the marriage bed, were out from their fiery mouths all the torsuspended by the hair over raging fires. ments that were outside of hell, and ar Next he saw an iron ladder, three hun- every breath the souls before them were dred and sixty, cubits long, red hot
, and wafted each into the peculiar punishgreat boiler of melted oil
, ment appropriated to him. The visitor pitch, and resin ; married persons who was here left for a moment by his conhad not been continent on sabbaths and ductors; and the demons seized upon
were compelled to mount this him, and would have thrown him into ladder, and ever as they were obliged to the fire, had not St. Peter suddenly quit their hold by the heat, they dropped arrived to rescue him. He was carried into the boiler below. Then they beheld thence to a fair plain, where he saw wast fires in which were burnt the souls thieves carrying heavy collars of iron, of tyrannical and cruel lords, and of red hot, about their necks, hands, and women who had destroyed their off- feet. He saw here a great burning pitchy spring. Next was a great space full of river
, issuing from hell
, and an iron are like blood, in which homicides were bridge over it, which appeared very immense vessel filled with boiling brass, but when sinners attempted it, it became tin, lead, sulphur, and resin, in which narrow as a thread, and they fell over were immersed during three years those into the river, and afterwards attempted who had encouraged wicked priests. it again, but were not allowed to pass
under it a
Ing. By the pit
was a serpent of infinite journey in breadth, covered with thorns