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Calisto, upon apparently the same identical footing of authority, by
spirits in all the sincerity of agonised penitence, is very remarkable.
A dissertation, by some competent antiquary, on the curious question
suggested by these anomalies, would be a welcome novelty in the world of

[Footnote 52: An allegory of the Active and Contemplative Life; - not, I
think, a happy one, though beautifully painted. It presents, apart
from its terminating comment no necessary intellectual suggestion; is
rendered, by the, comment itself, hardly consistent with Leah's express
love of ornament; and, if it were not for the last sentence, might be
taken for a picture of two different forms of Vanity.]

[Footnote 53:

"Tal, qual di ramo in ramo si raccoglie
Per la pineta in sul lito di Chiassi,
Quand' Eolo scirocco fuor discioglie."

Even as from branch to branch
Along the piny forests on the shore
Of Chiassi, rolls the gathering melody,
When Eolus hath from his cavern loosed
The dripping south." - _Cary_.

"This is the wood," says Mr. Cary, "where the scene of Boccaccio's
sublimest story (taken entirely from Elinaud, as I learn in the notes to
the Decameron, ediz. Giunti, 1573, p. 62) is laid. See Dec., G. 5, N.
8, and Dryden's Theodore and Honoria. Our poet perhaps wandered in
it during his abode with Guido Novello da Polenta." - _Translation of
Dante_, ut sup. p. 121.]

[Footnote 54: Lethe, _Forgetfulness_; Eunoe, _Well-mindedness_.]

[Footnote 55:

"Senza alcuno scotto
Di pentimento."

Literally, _scot-free_. - "Scotto," scot; - "payment for dinner or supper
in a tavern" (says Rubbi, the Petrarchal rather than Dantesque editor
of the _Parnaso Italiano_, and a very summary gentleman); "here used
figuratively, though it is not a word fit to be employed on serious and
grand occasions" (in cose gravi ed illustri). See his "Dante" in that
collection, vol. ii. p. 297.]

[Footnote 56: The allusion to the childish girl (_pargoletta_) or any
other fleeting vanity,

"O altra vanità con sì breve use,"

is not handsome. It was not the fault of the childish girls that he
liked them; and he should not have taunted them, whatever else they
might have been. What answer could they make to the great poet?

Nor does Beatrice make a good figure throughout this scene, whether as
a woman or an allegory. If she is Theology, or Heavenly Grace, &c. the
sternness of the allegory should not have been put into female shape;
and when she is to be taken in her literal sense (as the poet also tells
us she is), her treatment of the poor submissive lover, with leave of
Signor Rubbi, is no better than _snubbing_; - to say nothing of the
vanity with which she pays compliments to her own beauty.

I must, furthermore, beg leave to differ with the poet's thinking it an
exalted symptom on his part to hate every thing he had loved before, out
of supposed compliment the transcendental object of his affections and
his own awakened merits. All the heights of love and wisdom terminate in
charity; and charity, by very reason of its knowing the poorness of so
many things, hates nothing. Besides, it is any thing but handsome or
high-minded to turn round upon objects whom we have helped to lower with
our own gratified passions, and pretend a right to scorn them.]

[Footnote 57:

"Tu asperges me, et mundabor," &c. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be
clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." - Psalm li. 7.]

[Footnote 58: Beatrice had been dead ten years.]



The Paradise or Heaven of Dante, in whose time the received system of
astronomy was the Ptolemaic, consists of the Seven successive Planets
according to that system, or the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars,
Jupiter, and Saturn; of the Eighth Sphere beyond these, or that of the
Fixed Stars; of the Primum Mobile, or First Mover of them all round the
moveless Earth; and of the Empyrean, or Region of Pure Light, in which
is the Beatific Vision. Each of these ascending spheres is occupied by
its proportionate degree of Faith and Virtue; and Dante visits each
under the guidance of Beatrice, receiving many lessons, as he goes,
on theological and other subjects (here left out), and being finally
admitted, after the sight of Christ and the Virgin, to a glimpse of the
Great First Cause.


It was evening now on earth, and morning on the top of the hill in
Purgatory, when Beatrice having fixed her eyes upon the sun, Dante fixed
his eyes upon hers, and suddenly found himself in Heaven.

He had been transported by the attraction of love, and Beatrice was by
his side.

The poet beheld from where he stood the blaze of the empyrean, and heard
the music of the spheres; yet he was only in the first or lowest Heaven,
the circle of the orb of the moon.

This orb, with his new guide, he proceeded to enter. It had seemed,
outside, as solid, though as lucid, as diamond; yet they entered it, as
sunbeams are admitted into water without dividing the substance. It now
appeared, as it enclosed them, like a pearl, through the essence of
which they saw but dimly; and they beheld many faces eagerly looking at
them, as if about to speak, but not more distinct from the surrounding
whiteness than pearls themselves are from the forehead they adorn.[1]
Dante thought them only reflected faces, and turned round to see to whom
they belonged, when his smiling companion set him right; and he entered
into discourse with the spirit that seemed the most anxious to accost
him. It was Piccarda, the sister of his friend Forese Donati, whom he
had met in the sixth region of Purgatory. He did not know her, by reason
of her wonderful increase in beauty. She and her associates were such
as had been Vowed to a Life of Chastity and Religion, but had been
Compelled by Others to Break their Vows. This had been done, in
Piccarda's instance, by her brother Corso.[2] On

Dante's asking if they did not long for a higher state of bliss, she and
her sister-spirits gently smiled; and then answered, with faces as happy
as first love,[3] that they willed only what it pleased God to give
them, and therefore were truly blest. The poet found by this answer,
that every place in Heaven was Paradise, though the bliss might be of
different degrees. Piccarda then shewed him the spirit at her side,
lustrous with all the glory of the region, Costanza, daughter of the
king of Sicily, who had been forced out of the cloister to become the
wife of the Emperor Henry. Having given him this information, she began
singing _Ave Maria_; and, while singing, disappeared with the rest, as
substances disappear in water.[4]

A loving will transported the two companions, as before, to the next
circle of Heaven, where they found themselves in the planet Mercury, the
residence of those who had acted rather out of Desire of Fame than Love
of God. The spirits here, as in the former Heaven, crowded towards them,
as fish in a clear pond crowd to the hand that offers them food. Their
eyes sparkled with celestial joy; and the more they thought of their
joy, the brighter they grew; till one of them who addressed the poet
became indistinguishable for excess of splendour. It was the soul of
the Emperor Justinian. Justinian told him the whole story of the Roman
empire up to his time; and then gave an account of one of his associates
in bliss, Romèo, who had been minister to Raymond Beranger, Count of
Provence. Four daughters had been born to Raymond Beranger, and every
one became a queen; and all this had been brought about by Romèo, a poor
stranger from another country. The courtiers, envying Romèo, incited
Raymond to demand of him an account of his stewardship, though he had
brought his master's treasury twelve-fold for every ten it disbursed.
Romeo quitted the court, poor and old; "and if the world," said
Justinian, "could know the heart such a man must have had, begging his
bread as he went, crust by crust - praise him as it does, it would praise
him a great deal more."[5]

"Hosanna, Holy God of Sabaoth,
Superillumining with light of light
The happy fires of these thy Malahoth!"[6]

Thus began singing the soul of the Emperor Justinian; and then, turning
as he sang, vanished with those about him, like sparks of fire.

Dante now found himself, before he was aware, in the third Heaven,
or planet Venus, the abode of the Amorous.[7] He only knew it by the
increased loveliness in the face of his companion.

The spirits in this orb, who came and went in the light of it like
sparks in fire, or like voices chanting in harmony with voice, were spun
round in circles of delight, each with more or less swiftness, according
to its share of the beatific vision. Several of them came sweeping out
of their dance towards the poet who had sung of Love, among whom was his
patron, Charles Martel, king of Hungary, who shewed him the reason why
diversities of natures must occur in families; and Cunizza, sister of
the tyrant Ezzelino, who was overcome by this her star when on earth;
and Folco the Troubadour, whose place was next Cunizza in Heaven; and
Rahab the harlot, who favoured the entrance of the Jews into the Holy
Land, and whose place was next Folco.[8] Cunizza said that she did not
at all regret a lot which carried her no higher, whatever the vulgar
might think of such an opinion. She spoke of the glories of the jewel
who was close to her, Folco - contrasted his zeal with the inertness of
her contemptible countrymen - and foretold the bloodshed that awaited the
latter from wars and treacheries. The Troubadour, meanwhile, glowed
in his aspect like a ruby stricken with the sun; for in heaven joy is
expressed by effulgence, as on earth by laughter. He confessed the
lawless fires of his youth, as great (he said) as those of Dido or
Hercules; but added, that he had no recollection of them, except a
joyous one, not for the fault (which does not come to mind in heaven),
but for the good which heaven brings out of it. Folco concluded with
explaining how Rahab had come into the third Heaven, and with denouncing
the indifference of popes and cardinals (those adulterers of the Church)
to every thing but accursed money-getting.[9]

In an instant, before he could think about it, Dante was in the fourth
Heaven, the sun, the abode of Blessed Doctors of the Church. A band of
them came encircling him and his guide, as a halo encircles the moon,
singing a song, the beauty of which, like jewels too rich to be
exported, was not conveyable by expression to mortal fancy. The spirits
composing the band were those of St. Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus,
Gratian the Benedictine, Pietro Lombardo, Solomon, Saint Dionysius
the Areopagite, Paulus Orosius, Boetius, Isidore, the Venerable Bede,
Richard of St. Victor, and Sigebert of Gemblours. St. Thomas was the
namer of them to Dante. Their song had paused that he might speak; but
when he had done speaking, they began resuming it, one by one, and
circling as they moved, like the wheels of church-clocks that sound one
after another with a sweet tinkling, when they summon the hearts of the
devout to morning prayer.[10]

Again they stopped, and again St. Thomas addressed the poet. He was of
the order of St. Dominic; but with generous grace he held up the founder
of the Franciscans, with his vow of poverty, as the example of what a
pope should be, and reproved the errors of no order but his own. On
the other hand, a new circle of doctors of the Church making their
appearance, and enclosing the first as rainbow encloses rainbow, rolling
round with it in the unison of a two-fold joy, a voice from the new
circle attracted the poet's ear, as the pole attracts the needle,
and Saint Buonaventura, a Franciscan, opened upon the praises of St.
Dominic, the loving minion of Christianity, the holy wrestler, - benign
to his friends and cruel to his enemies;[11] - and so confined his
reproofs to his own Franciscan order. He then, as St. Thomas had done
with the doctors in the inner circle, named those who constituted the
outer: to wit, Illuminato, and Agostino, and Hugues of St. Victor, and
Petrus Comestor, and Pope John the Twenty-first, Nathan the Prophet,
Chrysostom, Anselmo of Canterbury, Donatus who deigned to teach grammar,
Raban of Mentz, and Joachim of Calabria. The two circles then varied
their movement by wheeling round one another in counter directions; and
after they had chanted, not of Bacchus or Apollo, but of Three Persons
in One, St. Thomas, who knew Dante's thoughts by intuition, again
addressed him, discoursing of mysteries human and divine, exhorting
him to be slow in giving assent or denial to propositions without
examination, and bidding him warn people in general how they presumed
to anticipate the divine judgment as to who should be saved and who
not.[12] The spirit of Solomon then related how souls could resume their
bodies glorified; and the two circles uttering a rapturous amen, glowed
with such intolerable brightness, that the eyes of Beatrice only were
able to sustain it. Dante gazed on her with a delight ineffable, and
suddenly found himself in the fifth Heaven.

It was the planet Mars, the receptacle of those who had Died Fighting
for the Cross. In the middle of its ruddy light stood a cross itself, of
enormous dimensions, made of light still greater, and exhibiting, first,
in the body of it, the Crucified Presence, glittering all over with
indescribable flashes like lightning; and secondly, in addition to and
across the Presence, innumerable sparkles of the intensest mixture
of white and red, darting to and fro through the whole extent of the
crucifix. The movement was like that of motes in a sunbeam. And as a
sweet dinning arises from the multitudinous touching of harps and viols,
before the ear distinguishes the notes, there issued in like manner from
the whole glittering ferment a harmony indistinct but exquisite, which
entranced the poet beyond all he had ever felt. He heard even the words,
"Arise and conquer," as one who hears and yet hears not.

On a sudden, with a glide like a falling star, there ran down from the
right horn of the Cross to the foot of it, one of the lights of this
cluster of splendours, distinguishing itself, as it went, like flame in

"O flesh of my flesh!" it exclaimed to Dante; "O superabounding Divine
Grace! when was the door of Paradise ever twice opened, as it Shall have
been to thee?"[13] Dante, in astonishment, turned to Beatrice, and saw
such a rapture of delight in her eyes, that he seemed, at that instant,
as if his own had touched the depth of his acceptance and of his

The light resumed its speech, but in words too profound in their meaning
for Dante to comprehend. They seemed to be returning thanks to God. This
rapturous absorption being ended, the speaker expressed in more human
terms his gratitude to Beatrice; and then, after inciting Dante to ask
his name, declared himself thus:

"O branch of mine, whom I have long desired to behold, I am the root of
thy stock; of him thy great-grandsire, who first brought from his mother
the family-name into thy house, and whom thou sawest expiating his sin
of pride on the first circle of the mountain. Well it befitteth thee to
shorten his long suffering with thy good works. Florence,[15] while yet
she was confined within the ancient boundary which still contains the
bell that summons her to prayer, abided in peace, for she was chaste
and sober. She had no trinkets of chains then, no head-tires, no gaudy
sandals, no girdles more worth looking at than the wearers. Fathers were
not then afraid of having daughters, for fear they should want dowries
too great, and husbands before their time. Families were in no haste to
separate; nor had chamberers arisen to shew what enormities they dared
to practise. The heights of Rome had not been surpassed by your tower of
Uccellatoio, whose fall shall be in proportion to its aspiring. I saw
Bellincion Berti walking the streets in a leathern girdle fastened with
bone; and his wife come from her looking-glass without a painted face.
I saw the Nerlis and the Vecchios contented with the simplest doublets,
and their good dames hard at work at their spindles. O happy they! They
were sure of burial in their native earth, and none were left desolate
by husbands that loved France better than Italy. One kept awake to tend
her child in its cradle, lulling it with the household words that had
fondled her own infancy. Another, as she sat in the midst of her family,
drawing the flax from the distaff, told them stories of Troy, and
Fiesole, and Rome. It would have been as great a wonder, then, to see
such a woman as Cianghella, or such a man as Lapo Salterello, as it
would now be to meet with a Cincinnatus or a Cornelia.[16]

"It was at that peaceful, at that beautiful time," continued the poet's
ancestor, "when we all lived in such good faith and fellowship, and in
so sweet a place, that the blessed Virgin vouchsafed the first sight
of me to the cries of my mother; and there, in your old Baptistery, I
became, at once, Christian and Cacciaguida. My brothers were called
Moronto and Eliseo. It was my wife that brought thee, from Valdipado,
thy family name of Alighieri. I then followed the Emperor Conrad, and
he made me a knight for my good service, and I went with him to fight
against the wicked Saracen law, whose people usurp the fold that remains
lost through the fault of the shepherd. There, by that foul crew, was I
delivered from the snares and pollutions of the world; and so, from the
martyrdom, came to this peace."

Cacciaguida was silent. But his descendant praying to be told more of
his family and of the old state of Florence, the beatified soldier
resumed. He would not, however, speak of his own predecessors. He said
it would be more becoming to say nothing as to who they were, or the
place they came from. All he disclosed was, that his father and
mother lived near the gate San Piero.[17] With regard to Florence, he
continued, the number of the inhabitants fit to carry arms was at that
time not a fifth of its present amount; but then the blood of the
whole city was pure. It had not been mixed up with that of Campi, and
Certaldo, and Figghine. It ran clear in the veins of the humblest

"Oh, how much better would it have been," cried the soul of the old
Florentine, "had my countrymen still kept it as it was, and not brought
upon themselves the stench of the peasant knave out of Aguglione, and
that other from Signa, with his eye to a bribe! Had Rome done its duty
to the emperor, and so prevented the factions that have ruined us,
Simifonte would have kept its beggarly upstart to itself; the Conti
would have stuck to their parish of Acone, and perhaps the Buondelmonti
to Valdigrieve. Crude mixtures do as much harm to the body politic as to
the natural body; and size is not strength. The blind bull falls with a
speedier plunge than the blind lamb. One sword often slashes round about
it better than five. Cities themselves perish. See what has become of
Luni and of Urbisaglia; and what will soon become of Sinigaglia too, and
of Chiusi! And if cities perish, what is to be expected of families? In
my time the Ughi, the Catellini, the Filippi, were great names. So were
the Alberichi, the Ormanni, and twenty others. The golden sword of
knighthood was then to be seen in the house of Galigaio. The Column,
Verrey, was then a great thing in the herald's eye. The Galli, the
Sacchetti, were great; so was the old trunk of the Calfucci; so was that
of the peculators who now blush to hear of a measure of wheat; and the
Sizii and the Arrigucci were drawn in pomp to their civic chairs. Oh,
how mighty I saw them then, and how low has their pride brought them!
_Florence_ in those days deserved her name. She _flourished_ indeed; and
the balls of gold were ever at the top of the flower.[18] And now the
descendants of these men sit in priestly stalls and grow fat. The
over-weening Adimari, who are such dragons when their foes run, and such
lambs when they turn, were then of note so little, that Albertino Donato
was angry with Bellincion, his father-in-law, for making him brother
to one of their females. On the other hand, thy foes, the Amidei, the
origin of all thy tears through the just anger which has slain the
happiness of thy life, were honoured in those days; and the honour was
par taken by their friends. O Buondelmonte! why didst thou break thy
troth to thy first love, and become wedded to another? Many who are now
miserable would have been happy, had God given thee to the river Ema,
when it rose against thy first coming to Florence. But the Arno had
swept our Palladium from its bridge, and Florence was to be the victim
on its altar."[19]

Cacciaguida was again silent; but his descendant begged him to speak
yet a little more. He had heard, as he came through the nether regions,
alarming intimations of the ill fortune that awaited him, and he was
anxious to know, from so high and certain an authority, what it would
really be.

Cacciaguida said, "As Hippolytus was forced to depart from Athens by the
wiles of his cruel step-dame, so must even thou depart out of Florence.
Such is the wish, such this very moment the plot, and soon will it be
the deed, of those, the business of whose lives is to make a traffic of
Christ with Rome. Thou shalt quit every thing that is dearest to thee
in the world. That is the first arrow shot from the bow of exile. Thou
shalt experience how salt is the taste of bread eaten at the expense of
others; how hard is the going up and down others' stairs. But what shall
most bow thee down, is the worthless and disgusting company with whom
thy lot must be partaken; for they shall all turn against thee, the
whole mad, heartless, and ungrateful set. Nevertheless, it shall not be
long first, before themselves, and not thou, shall have cause to hang
down their heads for shame. The brutishness of all they do, will shew
how well it became thee to be of no party, but the party of thyself.[20]

"Thy first refuge thou shalt owe to the courtesy of the great Lombard,
who bears the Ladder charged with the Holy Bird.[21] So benignly
shall he regard thee, that in the matter of asking and receiving, the
customary order of things shall be reversed between you two, and the
gift anticipate the request. With him thou shalt behold the mortal, born
under so strong an influence of this our star, that the nations shall
take note of him. They are not aware of him yet, by reason
of his tender age; but ere the Gascon practise on the great
Henry, sparkles of his worth shall break forth in his contempt
of money and of ease; and when his munificence appears in all
its lustre, his very enemies shall not be able to hold their
tongues for admiration.[22] Look thou to this second benefactor
also; for many a change of the lots of people shall he make, both rich
and poor; and do thou bear in mind, but repeat not, what further I shall
now tell thee of thy life." Here the spirit, says the poet,
foretold things which afterwards appeared incredible to their very
beholders; - and then added: "Such, my son, is the heart and mystery of
the things thou hast desired to learn. The snares will shortly gather
about thee; but wish not to change places with the contrivers; for thy
days will outlast those of their retribution."

Again was the spirit silent; and yet again once more did his descendant
question him, anxious to have the advice of one that saw so far, and
that spoke the truth so purely, and loved him so well.

"Too plainly, my father," said Dante, "do I see the time coming, when a
blow is to be struck me, heaviest ever to the man that is not true to
himself. For which reason it is fit that I so far arm myself beforehand,
that in losing the spot dearest to me on earth, I do not let my verses
deprive me of every other refuge. Now I have been down below through the
region whose grief is without end; and I have scaled the mountain from
the top of which I was lifted by my lady's eyes; and I have come thus
far through heaven, from luminary to luminary; and in the course of this
my pilgrimage I have heard things which, if I tell again, may bitterly
disrelish with many. Yet, on the other hand, if I prove but a timid
friend to truth, I fear I shall not survive with the generations by whom
the present times will be called times of old."

The light that enclosed the treasure which its descendant had found in
heaven, first flashed at this speech like a golden mirror against the
sun, and then it replied thus:

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