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I was agnized of one, who by the skirt
And I, when he to me outstretch'd his arm,
My hand inclining, answer'd : “Ser Brunetto !1 1 Brunetto.] “Ser Brunetto, a Florentine, the secretary or chancellor of the city, and Dante's preceptor, hath left us á work so little read, that both the subject of it and the language of it have been mistaken. It is in the French spoken in the reign of St. Louis, under the title of Tresor , and contains a species of philosophical course of lectures divided into theory and practice, or, as he expresses it, un enchaussement des choses divines et humaines,” etc. Sir R. Clayton's Translation of Tenhove's Memoirs of the Medici, vol. i. ch. ii. p. 104. The Tresor has never been printed in the original language. There is a fine manuscript of it in the British Museum, with an illuminated portrait of Brunetto in his study, prefixed. Mus. Brit. MSS. 17. E. 1. Tesor. It is divided into four books : the first, on Cosmogony and Theology ; the second, a translation of Aristotle's Ethics; the third, on Virtues and Vices; the fourth, on Rhetoric. For an interesting memoir relating to this work, sec Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vii. 296. His Tesoretto, one of the earliest productions of Italian poetry, is a curious work, not unlike the writings of Chaucer in style and numbers; though Bembo remarks, that his pupil, however largely he had stolen from it, could not have much enriched himself. As it is perhaps but little known, I will here add a slight sketch of it. Brunetto describes himself as returning from an embassy to the King of Spain, on which he had been sent by the Guelph party from Florence. On the plain of Roncesvalles he meets a scholar on a bay mule-un scolaio
There a scholar I espied
On a bay mule that did ride. --who tells him that the Guelfi are driven out of the city with great loss. Struck with grief at these mournful tidings, and musing with his head bent downwards, he loses his road, and wanders into a wood. Here Nature, whose figure is described with sublimity, appears, and discloses to him the secrets of her operations. After this, he wanders into a desertDeh che paese fiero
Well-away! what fearsul ground
Che s'io sapessi d'arte If of art I aught could ken,
Well behoved me use it then.
That it wild and desert seem'd.
Not a road was there in sight,
Not a house, and not a wight;
Non fiume non ruscello, Not an emmet, not a fly,
Non cosa ch'io conosca. Sore I doubted therewithal
Whether death would me befal:
Full three hundred miles of grounıl
Lay the desert bare and wide.
And are ye here ?" He thus to me: “My son !
I thus to him replied: "Much as I can,
“O son!” said he, “whoever of this throng
I dared not from the path descend to tread
Bent down, as one who walks in reverent guise. -and proceeds on his way, under the protection of a banner with which Nature had furnished him, till on the third day he finds himself in a pleasant champain, where are assembled many emperors, kings, and sages :
Un gran piano giocondo Wide and far the champain lay,
Lo più gajo del mondo None in all the earth so gay.
E lo più degnitoso. It is thy habitation of Virtue and her daughters, the four Cardinal Virtues. Here Brunetto sees also Courtesy, Bounty, Loyalty, and Prowess, and hears the instructions they give to a knight, which occupy about a fourth part of the poem. Leaving this territory, he passes over valleys, mountains, woods, forests, and bridges, till he arrives in a beautiful valley covered with flowers on all sides, and the richest in the world ; but which was continually shifting its appearance from a round figure to a square, from obscurity to light, and from populousness to solitude. This is the region of Pleasure, or Cupid, who is accompanied by four ladies, Love, Hope, Fear, and Desire. In one part of it he meets with Ovid, and is instructed by him how to conquer the passion of love, and to escape from that place. After his escape, he makes his confession to a friar, and then returns to the forest of visions ; and, ascending a mountain, meets with Ptolemy, a venerable old man. Here the narrative breaks off
. The poem ends, as it began, with an address to Rustico di Filippo, on whom he lavishes every sort of praise.
It has been observed that Dante derived the idea of opening his poem by describing himself as lost in a wood, from the Tesoretto of his master. * I know not whether it has been remarked, that the crime of usury is branded by both these poets as offensive to God and Nature :
Un altro, che non cura One, that holdeth not in mind
Di Dio ne di Natura, Law of God or Nature's kind,
Taketh him to usury. or that the sin for which Brunetto is condemned by his pupil is mentioned in his Tesoretto with great horror. But see what is said on this subject by Perticari, Degli Scrittori del Trecento, lib. 1. cap. iv. Dante's twenty-fifth sonnet is a jocose one, addressed to Brunetto, of which a translation is inserted in the Life of Dante prefixed. He died in 1295. G. Villani sums up his account of him by saying, that he was himself a worldly man ; but that be was the first to refine the Florentines from their grossness, and to instruct them in speaking properly, and in conducting the affairs of the republic on principles of policy.
“What chance or destiny," thus he began,
“There up aloft," I answerd, “in the life
“If thou," he answer'd, "follow but thy star,
“Were all my wish fulfill'd," I straight replierl,
? Before mine age.] On the whole, Vellutello's explanation of this is, I think, most satisfactory. He supposes it to mean, "before the appointed end of his life was arrived—before his days were accomplished.” Lombardi, concluding that the fulness of age must be the same as "the midway of this our mortal life” (see Canto i. v. 1), understands that he had lost himself in the wood before that time, and that he then only discovered his having gone astray.
2 iho in old times came down from Fesole.] See G. Villani, Hist. lib. 4. cap. v. and Macchiav. Hist. of Flor. b. 2.
Blind.] It is said that the Florentines were thus called, in consequence of their having been deceived by a shallow artifice practised on them by the Pisans, in the year 1117. See G. Villani, lib. 4. cap. xxx.
As thine was, when so lately thou didst teach me
Thereat my sapient guide upon his right
I not the less still on my way proceed,
“To know of some is well ;" he thus replied,
Who by the servants' servantó was transferr'd With another text.] He refers to the prediction of Farinata, in Canto x. 2 Priscian.] There is no reason to believe, as the commentators observe, that the grammarian of this name was stained with the vice imputed to him; and we must therefore suppose that Dante puts the individual for the species, and implies the frequency of the crime among those who abused the opportunities which the education of youth afforded them, to so abominable a purpose.
3 Francesco.] Accorso, a Florentine, interpreted the Roman law at Bologna, and died in 1229, at the age of 78. His authority was so great as to exceed that of all the other interpreters, so that Cino da Pistoia termed him the Idol of Advocates. His sepulchre, and that of his son Francesco here spoken of, is at Bologna, with this short epitaph: “Sepulcrum Accursii Glossatoris et Francisci ejus Filii.” See Guidi Panziroli, De Claris Legum Interpretibus, lib. 2. cap. xxix. Lips. 4to, 1721.
4 Him.] Andrea de' Mozzi, who, that his scandalous life might be less exposed to observation, was translated either by Nicolas III. or Boniface VIII. from the see of Florence to that of Vicenza, through which passes the river Bacchiglione. At the latter of these places he died. 5 The servants' servant.) Servo de servi. So Ariosto, Sat. iii.
From Arno's seat to Bacchiglione, where
This said, he turn'd, and seem'd as one of those
Argument. Journeying along the pier, which crosses the sand, they are now so near the
end of it as to hear the noise of the stream falling into the eighth circle, when they meet the spirits of three military men ; who judging Dante, from his dress, to be a countryman of theirs, entreat him to stop. He complies, and speaks with them. The two Poets then reach the place where the water descends, being the termination of this third compartment in the seventh circle; and here Virgil having thrown down into the hollow a cord, wherewith Dante was girt, they behold at that signal a monstrous and horrible figure come swimming up to them.
Now came I where the water's din was heard,
Ah me! what wounds I mark'd upon their limbs,
Attentive to their cry, my teacher paused,
“Wait now : our courtesy these merit well :
Sieti raccomandato 'l mio Tesoro.
Siavi raccomandato il mio Tesoro.