Page images


It was thy wont to shun much company,

A risk incur that it may cost my life ; Unto all sorry concourse ill inclined:

For I received a wound so deep and wide And still thy speech of me, heartfelt and From one I saw entrenched within her eyes, kind,

That still I weep, nor peace I since have Had made me treasure up thy poetry.

known." But now I dare not, for thine abject life, Make manifest that I approve thy rhymes;

Others think the allusion is general. Nor come I in such sort that thou may'st The Ottimo says: "Neither that young know.

woman, whom in his Rime he called Ah ! prythee read this sonnet many times : So shall that evil one who bred this strife

Pargoletta, nor that Lisetta, nor that Be thrust from thy dishonoured soul, and other mountain maiden, nor this one,

nor that other." He might have added

the lady of Bologna, of whom Dante CANTO XXXI.

sings in one of his sonnets:

" And I may say 1. In this canto Dante, having made That in an evil hour I saw Bologna, confession of his sins, is drawn by Ma And that fair lady whom I looked upon.' tilda through the river Lethe.

Buti gives a different interpretation of 2. Hitherto Beatrice has directed her the word pargoletta, making it the same discourse to her attendant hand-maidens as pargultà or pargolezza, * childishness around the chariot. Now she speaks or indiscretion of youth.' directly to Dante.

In all this unnecessary confusion one 25. As in a castle or fortress,

thing is quite evident. As Beatrice is 30. As one fascinated and enamoured speaking of the past, she could not with them,

possibly allude to Gentucca, who is 42. The sword of justice is dulled by spoken of as one who would make the wheel being turned against its edge. Lucca pleasant to Dante at some future This is the usual interpretation; but a time:friend suggests that the allusion may be

A maid is born, and wears not yet the veil,' to the wheel of St. Catherine, which is

Began he, 'who to thee shall pleasant make studded with sword-blades.

My city, howsoever men may blame it."" 46. The grief which is the cause of

Upon the whole, the interpretation your weeping

of the Ottimo is the most satisfactory, 59. There is a good deal of gossiping or at all events the least open to objecamong the commentators about this little tion. girl or Pargoletta. Some suppose it to 63. Proverbs i. 17: “Surely in vain be the same as the Gentucca of Canto the net is spread in the sight of any XXIV. 37, and the Pargoletta of one of bird." the poems in the Canzoniere, which in

72. Iarbas, king of Gætulia, from Mr. Lyell’s translation runs as follows:

whom Dido bought the land for building “Ladies, behold a maiden sair, and young ;

Carthage. To you I come heaven's beauty to display, 77. The angels described in Canto And manifest the place from whence I am. XXX. 20, as In heaven I dwelt, and thither shall return, Joy to impart to angels with my light. "Scattering flowers above and round about." He who shall me behold nor be enamoured, Of Love shall never comprehend the charm;

92. Matilda, described in Canto For every pleasing gift was freely given,

XXVIIL 40:When Nature sought the grant of me from him

“A lady all alone, who went along Who willed that your companion I should be.

Singing and culling floweret after floweret, Each star upon my eyes its influence sheds,

With which her pathway was all painted And with its light and virtue I am blest: Beauties are mine the world hath never seen, 95. Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, the For I obtained them in the realms above ;

river without a bridge : And ever must their essence rest unknown, Unless through consciousness of him in

"Now I further saw that betwixt whom

them and the gate was a river ; but there Love shall abide through pleasure of another. was no bridge to go over: the river was These words a youthful angel bore inscribed

Upon her brow, whose vision we beheld; very deep. At the sight therefore of And I, who to find safety gazed on her this river, the pilgrims were much



stunned ; but the men that went with against phantoms and demons; calms them said, “You must go through, or tempests; stanches blood, and is useful you cannot come at the gate.' ... to soothsayers.”

“ They then addressed themselves to The beauty of green eyes, ojuelos the water, and, entering, Christian began verdes, is extolled by Spanish poets ; to sink, and crying out to his good friend and is not left unsung by poets of other Hopeful, he said, 'I sink in deep waters ; countries. Lycophron in his “tenebrous the billows go over my head, all his poem” of Cassandra, says of Achilles : waves go over me. Selah.'

" Lol the warlike eagle come, “Now upon the bank of the river, on Green of eye, and black of plume." the other side, they saw the two shining men again, who there waited for them. teries, Hist. Théat. Franc., I. 176,

And in one of the old French Mys. Wherefore being come out of the river, Joseph describes the child Jesus as they saluted them, saying, We are

| having ministering spirits, sent forth to minister i for those that shall be heirs of salva-/

“Les yeulx vers, la chair blanche et tendre

Les cheveulx blonds." 98. Psalms li. 7: Purge me with 122. Monster is here used in the sense hyssop, and I shall be clean : wash me of marvel or prodigy. and I shall be whiter than snow.”

123. Now as an eagle, now as a lion. 104. The four attendant Nymphs on The two natures, divine and human, of the left of the triumphal chariot. See Christ are reflected in Theology, or Canto XXIX. 130 :

Divine Wisdom. Didron, who thinks

the Griffin a symbol of the Pope, applies “Upon the left hand four made holiday Vested in purple."

this to his spiritual and temporal power :

“As priest he is the eagle floating in 106. See Canto I. Note 23.

the air; as king he is a lion walking on 11. These four Cardinal Virtues lead the earth." to Divine Wisdom, but the three Evan. 132. The Italian Caribo, like the Eng. gelical Virtues quicken the sight to pene- lish Carol or Roundelay, is both song and trate more deeply into it.

dance. Some editions read in this line 114. Standing upon the chariot still ; " singing," instead of "dancing.” she does not alight till line 36 of the next canto. 116. The colour of Beatrice's eyes

CANTO XXXII. has not been passed over in silence by 1. A mystical canto, in which is dethe commentators. Lani, in his Annota- scribed the tree of the forbidden fruit, zioni, says: “ They were of a greenish and other wonderful and mysterious blue, like the colour of the sea. chior Messirini, who thought he had 2. Beatrice had been dead ten years. discovered a portrait of Beatrice as old 10. Goethe, Hermann and Dorothea, as the fourteenth century, affirms that Cochrane's Tr., p. 103 : she had “splendid brown eyes.” Dante here calls them emeralds; ypon which

“Ev'n as the wanderer, who, ere the sun dips

his orb in the ocean, the Ottimo comments thus : “Dante One last look still takes of the day-god, fast very happily introduces this precious disappearing; stone, considering its properties, and

Then, amid rocks rude-piled, umbrageous

forests, and copsewoods, considering that griffins watch over

Sees his similitude float, wherever he fixes his emeralds. The emerald is the prince

vision ; of all green stones ; no gem nor herb Finding it glancing before him, and dancing has greater greenness; it reflects an

in magical colours." image like a mirror; increases wealth ; 35. A disfrenata saetta, an uncurbed is useful in litigation and to orators; is arrow, like that which Pandarus shot at good for convulsions and epilepsy; pre. Menelaus, Iliad, IV. 124: “The sharp. serves and strengthens the sight; restrains pointed arrow sprang forth, eager to rusb lust ; restores memory ; ois powerful l among the crowd

Me things.

Buti says:

38. Genesis ii. 16: “Of every tree of water which flowed from the wound in the garden thou mayest freely eat. But! Christ's side. At least so thinks Vellus of the tree of the knowledge of good and telli. evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the Ruskin, Mod. Painters, III, 226, says: day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt "Some three arrow-flights farther up surely die.”

into the wood we come to a tall tree, Some commentators suppose that which is at first barren, but, after some Dante's mystic tree is not only the tree little time, visibly opens into flowers, of of knowledge of good and evil, but also a colour 'less than that of roses, but more a symbol of the Roman Empire. than that of violets.' It certainly would

41. Virgil, Georgics, II. 123: “The not be possible, in words, to come nearer groves which India, nearer the ocean, to the definition of the exact hue which the utmost skirts of the globe, produces, Dante meant,--that of the apple-blossom. where no arrows by their flight have Had he employed any simple colour. been able to surmount the airy summit phrase, as a 'pale pink,' or 'violet pink,' of the tree ; and yet that nation is not or any other such combined expression, slow at archery.

he still could not have completely got at 43. Christ's renunciation of temporal the delicacy of the hue; he might perpower.

haps have indicated its kind, but not its 51. The pole of the chariot, which tenderness; but by taking the rose-leaf was made of this tree, he left bound to as the type of the delicate red, and then the tree.

enfeebling this with the violet gray, he “This chariot represents gets, as closely as language can carry the Holy Church, which is the congrega- him, to the complete rendering of the tion of the faithful, and the pole of this vision, though it is evidently felt by him chariot is the cross of Christ, which he to be in its perfect beauty ineffable; and bore upon his shoulders, so that the rightly so felt, for of all lovely things author well represents him as dragging which grace the spring-time in our fair the pole with his neck.” The statement temperate zone, I am not sure but this that the cross was made of the tree of blossoming of the apple-tree is the * knowledge, is founded on an old legend. fairest.” When Adam was dying, he sent his son 65. The eyes of Argus, whom MerSeth to the Garden of Paradise toobring cury lulled asleep by telling him the him some drops of the oil of the mercy story of Syrinx, and then put to death. of God. The angel at the gate refused Ovid, Alet., I., Dryden's Tr. :him entrance, but gave him a branch

While Hermes piped, and sung, and told his from the tree of knowledge, and told tale, him to plant it upon Adam's grave; and The keeper's winking eyes began to fail, that, when it should bear fruit, then And drowsy slumber on the lids to creep : should Adam receive the oil of God's Then soon the god his voice and song supprest,

Till all the watchman was at length asleep. mercy. The branch grew into a tree, and with his powerful rod confirmed his rest ; but never bore fruit till the passion of Without delay his crooked falchion drew, Christ; but “ of a branch of this tree and And at one fatal stroke the keeper slew." of other wood,” says Buti, “the cross 73. The Transfiguration. The pas. was made, and from that branch was sage in the Song of Solomon, ii. 3, “As suspended such sweet fruit as the body the apple-tree among the trees of the of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then Adam wood, so is my beloved among the and other saints had the oil of mercy, sons,

," is interpreted as referring to inasmuch as they were taken from Limbo Christ; and Dante here calls the Transand led by Christ into eternal life.” figuration the blossoming of that tree.

54. In the month of February, when 77. Matthew xvii. 5: “While ne yet the sun is in the constellation of the spake, behold, a bright cloud over. Fishes. Dante here gives it the title of shadowed them: and, behold, a voice the Lasca, the Roach or Mullet.

out of the cloud, which said, This is 58. The red and white of the apple. my beloved Son, in whom I am well blossoms is symbolical of the blood and pleased; hear ye him. And when the

disciples heard it, they fell on their face, 152. Philip the Fourth of France. and were sore afraid.' And Jesus came For his character see Canto XX. Note and touched them, and said, Arise, and 43. be not afraid. And when they had lifted 156. This alludes to the maltreatment up their eyes, they saw no man, save of Boniface by the troops of Philip at Jesus only.

Alagna. See Canto XX. Note 87. 82. Matilda.

159. The removal of the Papal See 98. The seven Virtues holding the from Rome to Avignon. seven golden candlesticks, or the seven The principal points of the allegory gifts of the Holy Spirit.

of this canto may be summed up as 112. The descent of the eagle upon follows. The triumphal chariot, the the tree is interpreted by Buti as the Church; the seven Nymphs, the Virtues persecution of the Christians by the Cardinal and Evangelical ; the seven Emperors. The rending of the bark candlesticks, the seven gifts of the Holy of the tree is the breaking down of Spirit; the tree of knowledge, Rome; the constancy and fortitude of holy the Eagle, the Imperial power ; the men"; the blossoms are virtuous Fox, heresy ; the Dragon, Mahomet ; examples or prayers,' and the new the shameless whore, Pope Boniface the leaves, “the virtuous deeds that holy Eighth ; and the giant, Philip the Fair men had begun to do, and which were of France. interrupted by these persecutions." 115. Buti says: “This descent of the

CANTO XXXIII. eagle upon the chariot, and the smiting it, mean the persecution of the Holy

1. In this canto Dante is made to Church and of the Christians by the drink of the river Eunoë, the memory Emperors, as appears in the chronicles of things good. down to the time of Constantine."

Psalm lxxix., beginning : "O God, 119. The fox is Heresy.

the heathen are come into thine inherit. 126. The gist of Constantine to the ance ; thy_holy temple have they Church. Inf. XIX. 125:

defiled.” The three Evangelical and

four Cardinal Virtues chant this psalm, “Ah, Constantine ! of how much woe was alternately responding to each other.

mother, Not thy conversion, but that marriage-dower The Latin words must be chanted, Which the first wealthy Father took from in order to make the lines rhythmical, thee !"

with an equal emphasis on each syllable. 131. Mahomet. Revelation xii. 3:

7. When their singing was ended. "And there appeared another wonder 10. John xvi, 16: "A little while, in heaven ; and, behold, a great red and ye shall not see me : and again, a dragon, having seven heads and ten little while, and ye shall see me ; be. horns, and seven crowns upon his cause I go to the Father." heads, And his tail drew the third 15. Dante, Matilda, and Statius. part of the stars of heaven, and did 27. As in Canto XXXI. 73cast them to the earth.”

"My faculties were in so great confusion seven heads, say the

That the voice

moved, but sooner was extinct, Ollimo and others, “denote the seven

Than by its organs it was set at large." deadly sins." But Biagioli, following 34. Is no longer what it was. Reve Buti, says:

“There is no doubt that lation xvii. 8: * The beast that thou these heads and the horns represent the sawest was, and is not.” same that we have said in Canto XIX. 36. In the olden time in Florence, of the Inferno ; namely, the ten horns, if an assassin could contrive to eat a the Ten Commandments of God; and sop of bread and wine at the grave of the seven heads, the Seven Sacraments the murdered man, within nine days of the Church.” Never was there a after the murder, he was free from the wider difference of interpretation. The vengeance of the family; and to prevent context certainly favours the first. this they kept watch at the tomb. There

150. Pope Boniface the Eighth. is no evading the vengeance of God in

144. These

this way. Such is the interpretation of implacable enemy, who ever and secretly this passage by all the old commentators. layeth snares for human prosperity, –

37. The Roman Empire shall not disinheriting some of those who were always be without an Emperor, as it willing, -impiously, in the absence of was tlien in the eyes of Dante, who our protector, despoiled us also, who counted the “German Albert,” Alberto were unwilling. Wherefore we wept tedesco, as no Emperor, because he never long by the rivers of confusion, and incame into Italy. See the appeal to him, cessantly implored the protection of the Canto VI. 96, and the malediction, just king, to scatter the satellites of the because he suffered

cruel tyrant, and restore us to our just "The garden of the empire to be waste."

rights. And when thou, successor of

Cæsar and of Augustus, crossing the 43. The Roman numerals making chain of the Apennines, brought back DVX, or Leader. The allusion is to the venerable Tarpeian ensigns, our long Henry of Luxemburgh, in whom Dante sighings straightway ceased, the founplaced his hopes of the restoration of tains of our tears were stayed, and a new ihe Imperial power. He was the suc- hope of a better age, like a sun suddenly cessor of the German Albert of the risen, shed its beams over Latium. Then preceding note, after an interregnum of many, breaking forth into jubilant vows, one year.

He died in 1312, shortly sang with Mars the Saturnian reign, and after his coronation in Rome. See the return of the Virgi. Canto VI. Note 97.

“But since our sun (whether the fer. Villani, though a Guelf, pays this vour of desire suggests it, or the aspect tribute of respect to his memory, Book of truth) is already believed to have de. IX. Ch. 1: • He was wise and just and layed, or is supposed to be going back gracious, valiant in armis, dignified, and in his course, as if a new Joshua or the catholic ; and although of low estate in son of Amos had commanded, we are lineage, he was of a magnanimous heart, compelled in our uncertainty to doubt, feared and redoubted, and if he had and to break forth in the words of the lived longer, he would have done great Forerunner : Art thou he that should things."

come, or look we for another?' And When Henry entered Italy in Sep. although the fury of long thirst turns tember, 1310, Dante hastened to meet into doubt, as is its wont, the things him, full of faith and hope. Whether which are certain because they are near, this interview took place at Susa, Turin, nevertheless we believe and hope in thee, or Milan, is uncertain ; nor is there any asserting thee to be the minister of God, record of it, except the allusion in the and the son of the Church, and the profollowing extract from a letter of Dante, moter of the Roman glory. And I, who “written in Tuscany, at the sources of write as well for myself as for others, the Arno, on the 14th of May, 1311, in when my hands touched thy feet and my the first year of the happy journey of the lips performed their office, saw thee most divine Henry into Italy." Dante was benignant, as becometh the Imperial disappointed that his hero should linger majesty, and heard thee most clement. so long in the Lombard towns, and Then my spirit exulted within me, and wished him to march at once against I silently said to myself, “Behold the Florence, the monster “that drinketh lamb of God, who taketh away the sins neither of the headlong Po, nop, of thy of the world.”” Tyber.” In this letter, Mr. Greene's Dante, Par. XXX. 133, sees the Tr., he says :

crown and throne that await the “noble " The inheritance of peace, as the Henry” in the highest heaven :immense love of God witnesseth, was

“On that great throne on which thine eyes are left us, that in the marvellous sweetness

fixed thereof our hard warfare might be soft For the crown's sake already placed upon is, ened, and by the use thereof we might

Before thou suppest at this wedding feast,

Shall sit the soul that is to be Augustus deserve the joys of our triumphant coun

On earth) of noble Henry, who shall come try. But the hatred of the ancient and To reform Italy ere she be prepared.”

« PreviousContinue »