Page images

Into its orb; but the new loveliness,
That graced my lady, gave me ample proof
That we had enter'd there. And as in flame
A sparkle is distinct, or voice in voice
Discern'd, when one its even tenour keeps,
The other comes and goes; so in that light
I other luminaries saw, that coursed
In circling motion, rapid more or less,
As their eternal vision each impels.

Never was blast from vapour charged with cold,
Whether invisible to eye or no,
Descended with such speed, it had not seem'd
To linger in dull tardiness, compared
To those celestial lights, that toward us came,
Leaving the circuit of their joyous ring,
Conducted by the lofty Seraphim.
And after them, who in the van appear'd,
Such an Hosanna sounded as hath left
Desire, ne'er since extinct in me, to hear
Renew'd the strain. Then, parting from the rest,
One near us drew, and sole began: “We all
Are ready at thy pleasure, well disposed
To do thee gentle service. We are they
To whom thou in the world erewhile didst sing;
• O ye! whose intellectual ministry
Moves the third Heaven:' and in one orb we roll,
One motion, one impulse, with those who rule
Princedoms in Heaven; yet are of love so full,
That to please thee 'twill be as sweet to rest.”

After mine eyes had with meek reverence
Sought the celestial guide, and were by her
Assured, they turn'd again unto the light,
Who had so largely promised; and with voice
That bare the lively pressure of my zeal,
“Tell who ye are," I cried. Forthwith it grew
In size and splendour, through augmented joy;
And thus it answer'd: “A short date, below,
The world possess'd me. Had the time been more,

Charles Martel, crowned King of Hungary, and son of Charles II,

King of Naples and Sicily, to which throne, dying in his father's life.

Croton with its wid that with Sorg

Much evil, that will come, had never chanced.
My gladness hides thee from me, which doth shine
Around, and shroud me, as an animal
In its own silk enswathed. Thou lovedst me well,
And hadst good cause; for had my sojourning
Been longer on the earth, the love I bare thee
Had put forth more than blossoms. The left bank,“
That Rhone, when he hath mix'd with Sorga, laves,
In me its lord expected, and that horn
Of fair Ausonia, with its boroughs old,
Bari, and Croton, and Gaeta piled,
From where the Trento disembogues his waves
With Verde mingled, to the salt-sea flood.
Already on my temples beam'd the crown,
Which gave me sovereignty over the land
By Danube wash'd, whenas he strays beyond
The limits of his German shores. The realm,
Where, on the gulf by stormy Eurus lash'd,
Betwixt Pelorus and Pachynian heights,
The beautiful Trinacria’ lies in gloom,
(Not through Typhæus, but the vapoury cloud
Bituminous upsteam'd,) that too did look
To have its sceptre wielded by a race [Rodolph,
Of monarchs, sprung through me from Charles and
Had not ill-lording,1° which doth desperate make
The people ever, in Palermo raised .
The shout of 'death,' re-echoed loud and long.

time, he did not succeed. The evil, that would have been prevented by the longer life of Charles Martel, was that resistance which his brother Robert, King of Sicily, who succeeded him, made to the Emperor Henry VII.

? Sicily; so called from its three promontories of which Pachynus and Pelorus, here mentioned, are two.

3 Charles Martel might have been known to our Poet at Florence, whither he came to meet his father in 1259, the year of his death. G. Villani says that “he remained more than twenty days in Florence, wait ing for his father, King Charles, and his brothers." Lib. vii. cap. xiii. His brother Robert, King of Naples, was the friend of Petrarch.

4“The left bank." Provence.
5 The kingdom of Naples.
6* The land." Hungary.

8 The giant, whom Jupiter overwhelmed under Mount Ætna, whence he vomited forth smoke and flame.

9“ Sicily would be still ruled by monarchs, descended through me from Charles I and Rodolph I, the former my grandfather, King of Naples and Sicily; the latter, Em. peror of Germany, my father-in. law;” both celebrated in the “Purgatory," Canto vii.

10 If the ill-conduct of our govern. ors in Sicily had not excited the people to that dreadful massacre at the Sicilian vespers in consequence of which the kingdom fell into the hands of Peter III of Arragon, in 1282,

Had but my brother's foresight“ kenn'd as much,
He had been warier, that the greedy want
Of Catalonia might not work his bale.
And truly need there is that he forecast,
Or other for him, lest more freight be laid
On his already over-laden bark.
Nature in him, from bounty fallen to thrift,
Would ask the guard of braver arms, than such
As only care to have their coffers fill’d.”

“My liege! it doth enhance the joy thy words
Infuse into me, mighty as it is,
To think my gladness manifest to thee,
As to myself, who own it, when thou look'st
Into the source and limit of all good,
There, where thou markest that which thou dost speak,
Thence prized of me the more. Glad thou hast made me:
Now make intelligent, clearing the doubt
Thy speech hath raised in me; for much I muse,
How bitter can spring up, when sweet is sown.”
I thus inquiring; he forthwith replied:
“If I have power to show one truth, soon that
Shall face thee, which thy questioning declares
Behind thee now conceal'd. The Good,18 that guides
And blessed makes this realm which thou dost mount,
Ordains its providence to be the virtue
In these great bodies: nor the natures only
The all-perfect Mind provides for, but with them

11 He seems to tax his brother Robert with employing necessitous and greedy Catalonians to administer the affairs of his kingdom.

13 “ How a covetous son can spring from a liberal father.” Yet' that father has himself been accused of avarice in the “Purgatory," Canto xx. 78; though his general character was that of : bounteous prince.

13 The Supreme Being uses these spheres a: the intelligent instruments of His providence in the conduct of terrestrial natures; so that these natures cannot but be conducted aright, unless these heavenly bodies should themselves fail from not having been made perfect at first, or the Creator of them should fail. To this Dante replies that Nature, he

is satisfied, thus directed must do her part. Charles Martel then reminds him that he had learned from Aristotle that human society requires a variety of conditions, and consequently a variety of qualifica. tions in its members. Accordingly, men are born with different powers and capacities, caused by the influ. ence of the heavenly bodies at the time of their nativity; on which in. fluence, and not on their parents, those powers and capacities depend. Charles Martel adds, by way of corollary, that the want of ob. serving their natural bent. in the destination of men to their several offices in life, is the occasion of much of the disorder that prevails in the world.

That which preserves them too; for naught, that lies
Within the range of that unerring bow,
But is as level with the destined aim,
As ever mark to arrow's point opposed.
Were it not thus, these Heavens, thou dost visit,
Would their effect so work, it would not be
Art, but destruction; and this may not chance,
If the intellectual powers, that move these stars,
Fail not, and who, first faulty made them, fail.
Wilt thou this truth more clearly evidenced?”
To whom I thus: “It is enough: no fear,
I see, lest nature in her part should tire.”

He straight rejoin'd:

“Say, were it worse for man,

If he lived not in fellowship on earth?”
“Yea,” answer'd I; “nor here a reason needs.”
“And may that be, if different estates

Grow not of different duties in your life?

Consult your teacher,” and he tells you ‘no.’”
Thus did he come, deducing to this point,

And then concluded:

“For this cause behoves,

The roots, from whence your operations come,

Must differ.

Therefore one is Solon born;

Another, Xerxes; and Melchisedec
A third; and he a fourth, whose airy voyage

Cost him his son.”

In her circuitous course,

Nature, that is the seal to mortal wax,
Doth well her art, but no distinction owns
*Twixt one or other household. Hence befals
That Esau is so wide of Jacob: hence
Quirinus” of so base a father springs,
He dates from Mars his lineage. Were it not
That Providence celestial overruled,
Nature, in generation, must the path
Traced by the generator still pursue

14 Aristotle, “De Rep.” lib. iii, cap. 4: Since a state is made up of members differing from one another (for even as an animal, in the first instance, consists of soul and body; and the soul, of reason and desire; and a family, of man and woman; and property, of master and slave; in like manner a state consists both

of all these, and besides these of
other dissimilar kinds); it necessa-
rily follows that the excellence of
all the members of the state can-
not be one and the same.
15 Daedalus.
is “Quirinus.”
so obscure a father that his parent-
age was attributed to Mars.

Romulus, born of

Unswervingly. Thus place I in thy sight
That, which was late behind thee. But, in sign
Of more affection for thee, 'tis my will
Thou wear this corollary. Nature ever,
Finding discordant fortune, like all seed
Out of its proper climate, thrives but ill.
And were the world below content to mark
And work on the foundation nature lays,
I would not lack supply of excellence.
But ye perversely to religion strain
Him, who was born to gird on him the sword,
And of the fluent phraseman make your king :
Therefore your steps have wander'd from the path.”


ARGUMENT.—The next spirit who converses with our Poet in the planet Venus is the amorous Cunizza. To her succeeds Folco, or Folques, the Provençal bard, who declares that the soul of Rahab the harlot is there also; and then, blaming the Pope for his neglect of the Holy Land, prognosticates some reverse to the papai power.

FTER solution of my doubt, thy Charles,

O fair Clemenza,' of the treachery' spake,

That must befal his seed; but, “ Tell it not,”
Said he, “and let the destined years come round.”
Nor may I tell thee more, save that the meed
Of sorrow well-deserved shall quit your wrongs.

And now the visage of that saintly light
Was to the sun, that fills it, turn'd again,
As to the good, whose plenitude of bliss
Sufficeth all. O ye misguided souls !
Infatuate, who from such a good estrange
Your hearts, and bend your gaze on vanity,
Alas for you !-And lo! toward me, next,
Another of those splendent forms approach'd
That, by its outward brightening, testified

The will it had to pleasure me. The eyes 1 Daughter of Charles Martel, and of Sicily by Robert, in exclusion second wife of Louis X of France. of his brother's son Carobert, or

" The treachery.” He alludes Charles Robert, the rightful heir. to the occupation of the Kingdom II-VOL. XX


8 Charles Martel.

« PreviousContinue »