Page images


[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


ichæans imagined that all souls, before 1. The Mountain of Purgatory is a returning to their native heaven, must past conical mountain, rising steep and be borne first to the moon, where with high from the waters of the Southern good waters they would be washed pure Ocean, at a point antipodal to Mount from outward filth, and then to the sun, Sion in Jerusalem. In Canto III. 14, where they would be purged by good Dante speaks of it as

fires from every inward stain. After

these lunar and solar lustrations, they

“The hill That highest tow'rds the heaven uplifts itself”;

were fit for the eternal world of light. and in Paradiso, XXVI. 139, as

But the conception of Purgatory as it

was held by the early Christians, whether “The mount that rises highest o'er the wave."

orthodox Fathers or heretical sects, was

merely the just and necessary result of Around it run seven terraces, on which applying to the subject of future punishare punished severally the Seven Deadly ment the two ethical ideas that punishSins. Rough stairways, cut in the rock, ment should partake of degrees proead up from terrace to terrace, and on portioned to guilt, and that it should be he summit is the garden of the Ter- restorative. restrial Paradise.

Pope Gregory the Great, in the The Seven Sins punished in the Seven sixth century, -either borrowing some Circles are,— 1. Pride ; 2. Envy; 3. Anger; of the more objectionable features of the

Sloth; 5. Avarice and Prodigality ; Purgatory-doctrine previously held by - Gluttony ; 7. Lust.

the heathen, or else devising the same The threefold division of the Purga- things himself from a perception of the rio, marked only by more elaborate striking adaptedness of such notions eludes, or by a natural pause in the to secure an enviable power to the tion of the poem, is,-1. From Canto Church, -constructed, established, and to Canto IX. ; 2. From Canto IX. gave working efficiency to the dogmatic Canto XXVIII.; 3, From Canto scheme of Purgatory ever since firmly XVIII. to the end. The first of defended by the Papal adherents as an se divisions describes the region integral part of the Roman Catholic ng outside the gate of Purgatory; system,

The doctrine as matured and second, the Seven Circles of the promulgated by Gregory, giving to untain ; and the third, the Terres- the representatives of the Church an 1 Paradise on its summit.

almost unlimited power over Purgatory, • Traces of belief in a Purgatory,” rapidly grew into favour with the clergy, 5 Mr. Alger, Doctrine of a Future and sank with general conviction into ; p. 410, "early appear among the the hopes and fears of the laity." -istians. Many of the gravest Fathers 9. The Muse “of the beautiful voice,"

he first five centuries naturally con- who presided over eloquence and heroic
ed and taught,-as is indeed intrin- verse.
Ily reasonable, – that after death II. The nine daughters of Pierus,
e souls will be punished for their king of Macedonia, called the Pierides.
until they are cleansed, and then They challenged the Musęs to a tria
be released from pain. The Man. I of skill in singing, and being vanquisl.ed

were changed by Apollo into magpics. piece that advances very regularly neze Ovid, Net. V., Maynwaring's Tr.: four minutes a day, and no other group

of stars exhibits, to the naked eye, an “Beneath their nails Feathers they feel, and on their fares scales;

observation of time so easily made. How Their horny beaks at once each other scare,

often have we heard our guides exclaira Their arms are plumed, and on their backs they in the savannahs of Venezuela, or in the

Red wings, and Autter in the fleeting air.'

desert extending from Lima to Truxillo, (hatt'ring, the scandal of the woods, they fly,

Midnight is past, the Cross begins to And there continue still their clam'rous cry:

bend!' How often those woriis reThe same their eloquence, as maids or birds, minded us of that affecting scene, where Now only noise, and nothing then but words."

Paul and Virginia, seated near the source 15. The highest heaven.

of the river of Lataniers, conversed toge19. The planet Venus.

ther for the last time, and where the old 20. Chaucer, knightes Tale:

man, at the sight of the Southern Cross,

warns them that it is time to separate." “ The besy larke, the messager of day,

24. By the “primal people" Dante Saleweth in hire song the morwe gray, And firy Phebus riseth up so bright,

does not mean our first parents, but That all the oriere laugheth of the sight."

“the early races which inhabited Europe

and Asia,” says Dr. Barlow, Study of 23. The stars of the Southern Cross. Dante, and quotes in confirmation of his Figuratively the four cardinal virtues, view the following passage from Ilum. Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Tem- boldt's Cosmos, II.: perance. See Canto XXXI. 106: “In consequence of the precession of

the equinoxes, the starry heavens are “We here are Nymphs, and in the Heaven are continually changing their aspect from stars."

every portion of the earth's surface. The The next line may be interpreted in the early races of mankind beheld in the far same figurative sense.

north the glorious constellations of the Humboldt, Personal Narrativi, II. 21, southern hemisphere rise before them, Miss Williams's Tr., thus describes his which, after remaining long invisible, first glimpse of the Southern Cross. will again appear in those latitudes after

"The pleasure we felt on discovering a lapse of thousands of years. the Southern Cross was warmly shared The Southern Cross began to become by such of the crew as had lived in the invisible in 52° 30' north latitude 2900 colonies. In the solitude of the seas, | years before our era, since, according to we hail a star as a friend from whom Galle, this constellation might previously we have long been separated. Among have reached an altitude of more than the Portuguese and Spaniards peculiar 10°. When it disappeared from the motives seem to increase this feeling ; horizon of the countries of the Baltic, a religious sentiment attaches them to a the great Pyramid of Cheops had constellation, the form of which recalls already been erected more than 500 the sign of the faith planted by their years. ancestors in the deserts of the New 30. Iliad, XVIII. : “ The Pleiades, World.

and the Hyades, and the strength of “ The two great stars which mark Orion, and the Bear, which likewise the summit and the foot of the Cross they call by the appellation of the Wain, having nearly the same right ascen- which there turns round and watches sion, it follow's hence, that the constel- Orion ; and it alone is deprived of the lation is almost perpendicular at the baths of Oceanus. moment when it passes the meridian. 31. Cato of Utica. " Pythagoras This circumstance is known to every escapes, in the fabulous hell of Dante." nation that lives beyond the tropics, or says Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial, in the Southern hemisphere. It has IV., “among that swarm of philosoPieen observed at what hour of the night, phers, wherein, whilst we meet with in different seasons, the Cross of the Plato and Socrates, Cato is found in no South is erect or inclined. It is a time lower place than Purgatory."

[ocr errors]

In the description of the shield of marks: “The eighth book of the Te. Æneas, Æneic, VIII., Cato is represoro of Brunetto Latini is headed Qur sented as presiding over the good in comincia la Reitorica che e' insegna a ben the Tartarean realms : “And the good parlare, e di governare città e popoli. In apart, Cato dispensing laws to them.” this art Dante was duly instructed by his This line of Virgil may have suggested loving master, and became the most able co Dante the idea of making Cato the orator of his era in Italy. Giov. Villani warden of Purgatory.

speaks of him as retorico perfetto tanto in In the Conrrto, IV. 28, he expresses dittare e versificare come in aringhiero the greatest reverence for him. Marcia parlare. But without this record and returning to him in her widowhood, he without acquaintance with the poet's says, " symbolizes the noble soul return political history, knowing nothing of his ing to God in old age." And continues : influence in debates and councils, nor of "What man on earth was more worthy his credit at foreign courts, we miglit, to symbolize God, than Cato? Surely from the occasional speeches in the fione";-ending the chapter with these Divina Commedia, be fully assured of words: “In his name it is beautiful to the truth of what Villani has said, and close what I have had to say of the signs that Dante's words and manner were of nobility, because in him this nobility always skilfully adapted to the purpose displays them all through all ages. he had in view, and to the persons whom

Here, on the shores of Purgatory, his he addressed. countenance is adorned with the light of Virgil's speech to the venerable the fuur stars, which are the four virtues, Cato is a perfect specimen of persuasive Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Tem- eloquence. The sense of personal dig. perance, and it is foretold of him, that nity is here combined with extreme his garments will shine brightly on the courtesy and respect, and the most flat. last day. And here he is the symbol of tering appeals to the old man's wellLiberty, since, for her sake, to him “not known sentiments, his love of liberty, bitter was death in Utica”; and the his love of rectitude, and his devoted meaning of Purgatory is spiritual Liberty, attachment to Marcia, are interwoven or freedom from sin through purification, with irresistible art; but though the "the glorious liberty of the children of resentment of Cato at the approach of God."

Therefore in thus selecting the the strangers is thus appeased, and he "Divine Cato” for the guardian of this is persuaded to regard them with as realm, Dante shows himself to have much favour as the severity of his char. greater freedom then the critics, who acter permits, yet he will not have accuse him of " a perverse theology in them think that his consent to their saving the soul of an idolater and proceeding has been ob:ained by adu. suicide."

lation, but simply by the assertion of 40. The “blind river” is Lethe, power vouchsafed to them from on which by sound and not by sight had high, -guided them through the winding cavern Ma se donna del Ciel ti muove e regge, liom the centre of the earth to the sur Come tu di', non c' e mestier lusinga: lace. Inf. XXXIV. 130.

Bastiti ben, che per lei mi richegge. 42. His beard. Ford, Lady's Trial : In this also the consistency of Cato's "Now the down

character is maintained ; he is sensible Of softness is exchanged for plumes of age." of the flattery, but disowns its intluence." Dante uses the same expression, Inf.

77. See Inf. V. 4. XX. 45, and Petrarca, who became gray iv. 28 : “This the great poet Lucan

78. See Inf. IV. 128. Alo Convite, at an early period, says:

shadows forth in the second book of his In such a tenebrous and narrow cage

Pharsalia, when he says that Marcia Were we shut up, and the accustomed plumes, returned to Cato, and besorght him and I changed betimes, and my first countenance.'

entreated him to take her back in his old 52. Upon this speech of Virgil to age. And by this Marcia is understood Cain, Dr. Barlow, Study oj Dante, re. the noble soul.”

« PreviousContinue »