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“Thy soul is by vile fear assail'd, 1 which oft
So overcasts a man, that he recoils
From noblest resolution, like a beast
At some false semblance in the twilight gloom.
That from this terror thou mayst free thyself,
I will instruct thee why I came, and what
I heard in that same instant, when for thee
Grief touch'd me first. · I was among the tribe,
Who rest suspended, when a dame, so blest
And lovely I besought her to command,
Call’d me; her eyes were brighter than the star
Of day; and she, with gentle voice and soft,
Angelically tuned, her speech address'd :

O courteous shade of Mantua! thou whose fame
‘Yet lives, and shall live long as nature lasts ! 3
A friend, not of my fortune but myself,4
On the wide desert in his road has met
'Hindrance so great, that he through fear has turn'd.

Now much I dread' lest he past help have stray'd,
* And I be risen too late for his relief,
"From what in heaven of him I heard. Speed now,
And by thy eloquent persuasive tongue,
· And by all means for his deliverance meet,
Assist him. So to me will comfort spring.
'I, who now bid thee on this errand forth,
“Am Beatrice ; 5 from a place I come
Revisited with joy. Love brought me thence,
'Who prompts my speech. When in my Master's sight
'I stand, thy praise to him I oft will telí.?

“She then was silent, and I thus began :
O Lady! by whose influence alone

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i Thy soul is by vile fear assaild.]

L'anima tua è da viltate offesa. So in Berni, Orl. Inn, lib. 3. c. i. st. 53. Se l'alma avete offesa da viltate.

2 Who rest suspended.]. The spirits in Limbo, neither admitted to a state of glory nor doomed to punishment.

3 As nature lasts.] Quanto 'l moto lontana. “Mondo,” instead of “moto,” which Lombardi claims as a reading peculiar to the Nidobeatina edition and some MSS., is also in Landino's edition of 1484. Of this Monti was not aware. See his Proposta, under the word "Lontanare.”

* A friend, not of my fortune but myself.] Se non fortunæ sed hominibus solere esse amicum. Cornelii Nepotis Attici Vita, cap. ix.

Cætera fortunæ, non mea turba, fuit. Ovid, Trist. lib. 1. el. v. 31.

My Fortune and my seeming destiny
He made the bond, and broke it not with me.

Coleridge's Death of Wallenstein, act i. sc. 7. 5 Beatrice.] The daughter of Folco Portinari, who is here invested with the character of celestial wisdom or theology. See the Life of Dante prefixed.

Mankind excels whatever is contain'd 1
Within that heaven which hath the smallest orb,
'So thy command delights me, that to obey,
'If it were done already, would seem late.
‘No need hast thou farther to speak thy will :
'Yet tell the reason, why thou art not loth
* To leave that ample space, where to return
• Thou burnest, for this centre here beneath.'

“She then : Since thou so deeply wouldst inquire,
'I will instruct thee briefly why no dread
“Hinders my entrance here. Those things alone

Are to be fear’d whence evil may proceed ;
* None else, for none are terrible beside.
'I am so framed by God, thanks to his grace !
“That any sufferance of your misery
' Touches me not, nor flame of that fierce fire
'Assails me. In high heaven a blessed dame 2
* Resides, who mourns with such effectual grief
* That hindrance, which I send thee to remove,
“That God's stern judgment to her will inclines.
* To Lucia 3 calling, her she thus bespake :
“Now doth thy faithful servant need thy aid,
“And I commend him to thee.” At her word
*Sped Lucia, of all cruelty the foe,

And coming to the place, where Í abode
'Seated with Rachel, her of ancient days,
‘She thus address'd me: “Thou true praise of God !
“Beatrice! why is not thy succour lent
“To him, who so much loved thee, as to leave
“For thy sake all the multitude admires ?
“Dost thou not hear how pitiful his wail,
“Nor mark the death, which in the torrent flood,
“Swoln mightier than a sea, him struggling holds ?"
Ne’er among men did any with such speed
Haste to their profit, flee from their annoy,
‘As, when these words were spoken, I came here,

Down from my blessed seat, trusting the force
“Of thy pure eloquence, which thee, and all
Who well have mark'd it, into honour brings.'

“When she had ended, her bright beaming eyes

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6

1 Whatever is contain'd.] Every other thing comprised within the lunar heaven, which, being the lowest of all, has the smallest circle. 2 A blessed dame.] The Divine Mercy.

3 Lucia.] The enlightening Grace of Heaven ; as it is commonly explained. But Lombardi has well observed, that as our Poet places her in the Paradise, c. xxxii., amongst the souls of the blessed, so it is probable that she, like Beatrice, had a real existence; and he accordingly supposes her to have been Saint Lúcia the martyr, although she is here representative of an abstract idea.

Tearful she turn'l aside ; whereat I felt
Redoubled zeal to serve thee. As she will’d,
Thus am I come: I saved thee from the beast,
Who thy near way across the goodly mount
Prevented. What is this comes o'er thee then?
Why, why dost thou hang back? why in thy breast
Harbour vile fear? why hast not courage there,
And noble daring; since three mails, so blest,
Thy safety plan, c’en in the court of heaven ;
And so much certain good my words forebode ?"

As florets,” by the frosty air of night
Bent down and closed, when day has blanclı’d their leaves,
Rise all unfolded on their spiry stems;
So was my fainting vigour new restored,
And to my heart such kindly courage ran,
That I as one undaunted soon replied :
“O full of pity she, who undertook
My succour! and thou kind, who didst performi
So soon her true behest! With such desire
Thou hast disposed me to renew my voyage,
That my first purpose fully is resumed.
Lead on: one only will is in us both.
Thou art my guide, my master thou, and lord.”

So spake I; and when he hail onward moved,
I enter'd on the deep and woody way.

Three maids.] The Divine Mercy, Lucia, and Beatrice. ? ils florets.] Come fioretto dal notturno gelo

Chinato e chiuso, poi che il sol l'imbianca,
S'apre e si leva dritto sopra il stelo.

Boccaccio, 1 Filostrato, part iii. st. 13.
But right as floures through the cold of night
Iclosed, stoupen in her stalkes lowe,
Redressen hem agen the sunne bright,
And spreden in her kinde course by rowe, etc.

Chaucer, Troilus and Creseide, b. 2. It is from Boccaccio rather than Dante that Chaucer has taken this simile, which he applies to Troilus on the same occasion as Boccaccio has done. He appears indeed to have imitated or rather paraphrased the Filostrato in his Troilus and Crescide ; for it is not yet known who that Lollius is, from whom he professes to take the poem, and who is again mentioned in the House of Fame, b. 3. The simile in the text has been imitated by many others; among whom see Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. 1. c. xii. st. 86; Marino, Adone, c. xvii. st. 63, and Son. “Donna vestita di nero :" and Spenser's Faery Queen, b. 4. c. xii

. st. 31, and b. 6. c. ii. st. 33; and Boccaccio again in the Teseide, lib. 9. st. 23.

CANTO III.

Argument.

Dante, following Virgil, comes to the gate of Hell ; where, after having read

the dreadful words that are written thereon, they both enter. Here, as he understands from Virgil, those were punisheil who had passt their time (for living it could not be called) in a state of apathy and indifference both to good and evil. Then pursuing their way, they arrive at the river Acheron ; and there find the old ferryman Charon, who takes the spirits over to the opposite shore ; which as soon as Dante reaches, he is seized with terror, and falls into a trance.

“Through me you pass into the city of woe :
Through me you pass into eternal pain :
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fábric moved :
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

Such characters, in colour dim, I mark'u
Over a portal's lofty arch inscribed.
Whercat I thus : "Master, these words import
Hard meaning." He as one prepared replied :
“Here thou must all distrust behind thee leave;
Here be vile fear extinguish’d. We are come
Where I have told thee we shall see the souls
To misery doom'd, who intellectual good
Have lost." And when his hand 3 he had stretch'd forth
To mine, with pleasant looks, whence I was cheer'd,
Into that secret place he led me on.

Here sighs, 4 with lamentations and loud moans,

-Power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.]
The three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

2. All hope abandon.) Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch' entrate.
So Berni, Orl. Inn. lib. 1. c. viii. st. 13. Lascia pur della vita ogni speranza.
3 And when his hand.]

With that my hand in his he caught anone;
On which I comfort caught, and went in fast.

Chaucer, The Assemble of Foules. 4 Here sighs.] “Post hæc omnia ad loca tartarea, et ad os infernalis baratri deductus sum, qui simile videbatur puteo, loca verc eadem horridis tenebris, fætoribus exhalantibus, stridoribus quoque et nimiis plena eraut ejulatibus, juxta quem infernum vermis crat infinita magnitudinis, ligatus maxima catena." Alberici l'isio, sec. 9.

Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swelld the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain',
Like to the sand 1 that in the whirlwind flies.

I then, with error? yet encompast, cried :
“O master! what is this I hear ? what race
Are these, who seem so overcome with woe?”

He thus to me: “This miserable fate
Suffer the wretched souls of those, who lived
Without or praise or blame, with that ill banı
Of angels mix’d, who nor rebellious proved,
Nor yet were true to God, but for themselves
Were only. From his bounds Heaven drove them forth,
Not to impair his lustre ; nor the depth
Of Hell receives them, lest the accursed tribe 3
Should glory thence with exultation vain."

I then : - Master ! what doth aggrieve them thus,
That they lament so loud ?" He straight replied :
“That will I tell thee briefly. These of death
No hope may entertain : and their blind life
So meanly passes, that all other lots
They envy. Fame 4 of them the world hath none,
Nor suffers ; mercy and justice scorn them both.:
Speak not of them, but look, and pass them by.”

And I, who straightway look’d, beheld a flag," ? Like to the sand.] -Unnumber'd as the sands

Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings.-

Milton, P. L. b. 2. 903. 2 Jith error.] Instead of "error," Vellutello's edition of 1544 has “orror," a reading remarked also by Landino, in his notes. So much mistaken is the collater of the Monte Casino MS. in calling it " lezione da niuno notata ;” “a reading which no one has observed."

3 Lest the accursed tribe.] Lest the rebellious angels should exult at seeing those who were neutral, and therefore less guilty, condemned to the same punishment with themselves. Rossetti, in a long note on this passage, has ably exposed the plausible interpretation of Monti

, who would have “alcuna gloria” mean “no glory," and thus make Virgil say "that the evil ones would derive no honour from the society of the neutral.” A similar mistake in the same word is made elsewhere by Lombardi. See my note on c. xii. v. 9. * Fame.] Cancel'd from heaven and sacred memory, Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell.

Milton, P. L. b. 6. 380. Therefore eternal silence be their doom. Ibid. 385. 5 A flag.] ---All the grisly legions that troop

Under the sooty flag of Acheron. Milton, Comus.

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