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Thine own confession should commingled be." At first he stands speechless in his dismay

"My powers their wonted strength so much did miss,

That my voice moved, and yet all-broken fled.” But the question is pressed home. The confession of the sinner must be articulate and audible

“ Awhile she bore it; then What think'st thou,' said,

• Answer me now ; for those thy memories sad
Are by the stream not yet extinguished.'
Confusion and dismay together bade
A 'yes' from out my lips in such wise flow

That to hear it sight's help must needs be had.” The state of unnerved prostration into which he fell leads, as it was meant to lead, to penitential tears—

“E'en as a cross-bow, when both string and bow

Are overstrained, and with full force no more
The arrow to its destined mark doth go,
So I gave way beneath that burden sore,
Pouring full flood

many tears and sighs,
And my voice failed ere half its course was o'er.
Whence she to me, ‘To my desires to rise
That led thee on to love the highest good,
Beyond which nought that men can strive for, lies,
What pits that lay athwart, what chains withstood,
So that thy hope of passing further on,
Thou so hadst laid aside, as all subdued ?
And what allurements or what vantage shone
Upon the brow of others to thine eye

So that thy steps to seek for them were won?'
And then comes the confession which Beatrice sought for :

“Then after I had drawn one bitter sigh

Scarce had ( voice wherewith to answer her,
And my lips struggled hard to make reply ;
Weeping I said, “The things that present were
With their false pleasure led my steps aside,

Soon as thy face was hidden from me there.'Purg. xxxi. 1-30. Confession brings, as ever, the sense of pardon and absolution ; but the wound has yet to be probed, and reproof and warning are needed for the coming years, lest they should reproduce the failures of the past :

" And she, ‘Hadst thou been silent or denied

What thon confessest, not less known had been
Thy guilt, so great the Judge by whom thou’rt tried.
But when a man's own mouth is open seen
Himself of sin accusing, then the wheel
In our court turns against the sword-edge keen !
Howe'er this be, that thou more shame may’st feel
For that thine error, and in future years,
Hearing the Sirens more thine heart mayst steel ;
List thou, and cease awhile to sow in tears,
So shalt thou hear how, buried in the tomb,
I should have been thy guide to other spheres.
Never to thee did such full rapture come
From art or nature as from that fair frame
Wherein I dwelt, now finding earth its home.
And if to thee, through my departure, came
The loss of highest joy, what mortal thing
Should thus have stirred thee with hot passion's flame?

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Byt he first stroke that did experience bring
Of earth's false shows, thou shouldst have upward striven,
Thy flight to me, no longer such, to wing.
Ill was it when thy pinions down were driven
To wait new blows--some girl of little price,
Or other vain thing, for but brief use given.
The callow bird makes trial once or twice,
But all in vain the net is spread, or dart

Shot from the bow, before the fledged one's eyes.'” We cannot wonder that the poet who has thus thrown his selfreproach with such wonderful dramatic force into the lips of another should paint also his own self-humiliation.

“As little children, dumb for shame of heart,
Will listening stand with eyes upon the ground,
Owning their faults with penitential smart,

So thus stood I.”—Purg. xxxi. 37-67. Here, for the present, I stop, great as is the fascination which would lead me on at once to the close of that wonderful scene which restores to the sinner bis lost purity and peace.

We are dealing now, not with the process of restoration, but with the confession which was its antecedent and condition. It may well be asked, I think, whether the whole wide region of literature presents anything more intensely autobiographical. We read it in its dramatic form, which half veils from us its intense reality ; but we have to remember that it was his pen that wrote it all—that it was the man, proud, reserved, reticent, craving for the praises of men and sensitive to their censure, that thus laid bare the secrets of his soul. The reproofs of Beatrice are, as I have said, those of his own illumined and transfigured conscience. The “ Purgatorio takes its place, in spite of all differences of form and character, side by side with the “Confessions of Augustine.” One who has entered into its meaning will at least have learnt one lesson. He will have felt the power of Dante's intense truthfulness. The theories which see in the “Commedia," from first to last, the symbolic cypher of a crypto-heresy, the writings of a man in a mask, veiling a pantheistic license under the garb of a scholastic theology, will seem absolutely incredible. *

Starting from the point thụs gained, we may venture, without undue boldness, to trace in the cleansing processes which he describes the results, in greater or less measure, of his own experience, the record of what he had found purifying and healing in its influences upon his soul.

Of his joy in the serene influences of light and sky I have already spoken as one of those influences. It is worth while to note how often he returns in the “Purgatorio” to descriptions of a like character, sometimes in their purely natural beauty, more often in

I refer, I need hardly say, to the theories put forth by the elder Rossetti in his “Spirito Anti-papale," and elaborated even more systematically by Aroux, in his “ Dante, Heretique, Revolutionnaire et Socialiste.”

VOL. XLVI.

Z

the tender human memories which are associated with them. So, while he still stands by the sea on which he had seen the trembling of the waters, he notes the change that dawn brought with it.

" So tbat the clear white and the crimson rose

Which on Aurora's beauteous cheeks are seen
Where I stood, passed, with time, to orange glows.

*

And, lo, as when the morning draweth nigh,
Through the thick vapour Mars grows fiery red

Down in the West where Ocean's wide plains lie.”—Purg. ii. 5-15. Not without significance is the poet told by Sordello that the Mountain of Purification can only be ascended while the sunlight falls on it

" But see how day e'en now doth downward move ;

We cannot take our upward course by night,

And it were well some shelter fair to prove."-Purg. vii. 43-45. They find that shelter in a fair valley which is painted with a jewelled beauty that reminds us of Fra Angelico, and which we have to picture to ourselves as lit up with the glow of the westering sun

“Gold, silver, crimson, white-lead's whitest bit,

The Indian wood so lucent and serene,
Bright emeralds at the moment when they split,
Placed in that vale the plants and flowers between,
Would each and all be found surpassed in hue,
As less by greater overpowered is seen.
Nor did we Nature's painting only view,
But of a thousand fragrant odours sweet

She made a mingled perfume strange and new.”Purg. vii. 73-81. But evening has its human memories, and these also come on the mind which has been opened to enter into the depths of its outward splendour, and to consider the beauty of the lilies of the field that are more wonderful than Solomon in all his glory, with a chastening and purifying influence

“ The hour was come which yearning doth renew
To those far out at sea, and melts their heart,
The day that they have bid sweet friends adieu.
Which makes the wanderer young with love to start
If he perchance hear vesper bell afar,

That seems to mourn as day's life doth depart."-Purg. viii. 1-6. The slumber of the night that follows is succeeded by another dawn. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night declareth knowledge to the soul that has eyes to see and ears to hear. And here the outward beauty touched yet another chord, and there is an apocalypse to the inward eye such as Dante, we must believe, had known in the glories of a sunrise on the Apennines.

“She who, of yore, shared old Tithonus' bed,
Already whitened all the Orient far,
As from her sweet friend's arms her steps were led,

Her brow was bright with many a jewelled star.”—ix, 1. And Dante

as by his Adam-flesh down-weighed Conquered by sleep upon the grass reclined,” where he and his companions had been resting.

" It was the hour when swallow to the wind

Chants her sad songs as morning's dawn draws near ;
Perchance as old woes vex and haunt her mind.

And when our soul more alien from the sphere
Of flesh, and less by many a hot thought driven,

As half-divine looks forth in vision clear."'-Purg. ix. 1-13. Or take Virgil's words, as he addresses the visible sun, not without a scarcely veiled reference to the true Light that lighteth every man

“O pleasant light, with trust in whom I take

This our new path, do thou our footsteps guide,
E'en as 'tis meet, lest we the way forsake.
Thou warm'st the world, thy beams shine far and wide ;
Unless some good canse bid the contrary,

Thy rays should be to us as leaders tried.”—Purg. xiii. 16–21. Or his warning counsel to the poet whom he has led up the mountain slopes :

“ The heavens call on you, wheeling round on high,

And show to you their beanteous orbs eterne,

And yet your gaze upon the earth doth lie.”—Purg. xiv. 148–150. Or Dante's own memory of the sweet influences of spring :

And e'en as comes, proclaiming day's clear rise,
The breath of May, with odours fresh and sweet
Impregnate, that from grass and flowers arise,
So felt I then the gentle breezes meet
My brow, and heard of wings the rustling sound,

Wafting ambrosial airs the sense to greet."-Purg. xxiv. 145–150. Or of his vision of the night when he and Virgil and Statius are seated on the rock-hewn steps :

“ So were we three seen then in silence deep,
I as the goat, and eke as goatherds they,
On either side hemmed in by craggy steep :
Little we saw of what beyond us lay,
But through that little I beheld each star,

Larger than is their wont, with brighter ray.”Purg. xxvii. 88–93. As far as proving the point in Dante's character which I have sought to illustrate, my induction is already more than sufficiently complete. But the supreme witness to the healing power of the outward beauty of Nature to the eye that has been purged and illumined is found in the parting words with which Virgil leaves the disciple who no longer needs his guidance, and in the new abounding joy with which that disciple yields himself to its influence, all the more suggestive from the intermingling with that imagined ideal of what might be in the soul's future, of the memories which sprang from his own solitary walks in the pine-woods of Ravenna :

" And when the whole ascent below us lay,

And we stood where no step upmounteth higher,
Virgil on me his eyes intent did stay,
And said, “The temporal and the eternal fire
Thou hast beheld, my son, and hast attained
Where to see further I may not aspire.
To bring thee here my skill and art I've strained ;
Now let thine own will take the true guide's place :
In steep and strait paths thou'rt no more detained.
Behold the sun that shines upon thy face,
See the green grass, the flowers, the tender trees,
Which the fair land brings forth itself to grace.
Until shall come, now bright with thoughts at ease,

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The eyes, which, weeping, led me thee to seek,
Thou mayst sit still, or wander among these.
Look not for me to signal or to speak :
Free, upright, healthy is thive own will now,
And not to do its bidding pow were weak.

So place I crown and mitre on thy brow.”-Purg. xxvii. 124–142. And then the poet opens a new canto for that new experience :

“Eager, within it and around, each way,

To search that heavenly forest, dense and green,
That tempered to mine eye the new-born day,
Waiting no more, where I till then had been,
Upon the bank I went on slowly, slow,
· On ground which fragrance breathed o'er all the scene.
And a sweet breeze toward me then did blow
With calm unvarying course upon my face,
Not with more force than gentlest gale doth kuow.
Thereat the leaves, set trembling all apace,
Bent themselves one and all towards the side
Where its first shade the Holy Mount doth trace.
Yet from the upright swerved they not aside,
So far that any birds upon the spray
Ceased by their wonted task-work to abide,
But with full heart of joy, the breeze of day
They welcomed now within their leafy bower,
Which to their songs its music deep did play,
Like that which through the pine wood runs each hour,
From branch to branch, upon Chiassi's shore,

When Æolus lets loose Sirocco's power. -Purg. xxviii. 1-21. But side by side with this yielding of the soul, as with the openness of a renewed childhood, in the very spirit of Wordsworth, to the teaching of Nature, the voices of the silent stars, the whisperings of the winds, the music of the waters, the beauty of the hills and woods, the “Purgatorio” describes other processes, each of them suggestive of an experience through which Dante had himself passed, and of an insight into the hygiene and therapeutics of the soul gained by that experience. One of these meets us on the very threshold of the poem. The master and the scholar, Virgil and Dante, have asked for guidance. How is the latter to qualify himself for the ascent of the Mount of Purification ? And the answer comes from Cato as the representative of natural ethics pointing to something beyond itself, and is addressed to Virgil :

“Go, therefore, now, and that he gird him teach

With a smooth rush, and see thou cleanse his face
So that each stain that lingers there thou bleach;
For 'twere not meet his eye with any trace
Of that thick mist before the angel go

Who holds in Paradise the foremost place.”Purg. i. 94-99.
And so while the green grass was wet with the dew of morning,
Virgil lays his hands upon it, and with a “sweetness wonderful”
prepares him for the task assigned him. And then Dante goes on ::

“ I turned to him my cheeks, where tears fell full,
And then he laved and cleansed my face all o'er

From hue that Hell had left there, dark and dull.”-Purg. i. 126-128. And then he girds him with the rush which was to be the symbol, not of the strength and vigour which men look on as conditions of success in their great enterprises--intellectual, moral, spiritual-but

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