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But side by side with this yielding of as a member of the Tertiary Order of the the soul, as with the openness of a re. Brethren, a follower of Francis of Assisi. newed childhood, in the very spirit of The unmistakable appearance of Dante's Wordsworth, to the teaching of nature, features in Giotto's fresco at Assisi, comthe voices of the silent stars, the whisper. ing in, with the ardor of a new-born life, ings of the winds, the music of the wa. to present himself to the great brideters, the beauty of the hills and woods, groom of poverty, and the reverence which
Purgatorio describes other proc- utters itself in the " Paradiso,” at least esses, each of them suggestive of an ex. tend to confirm what is, in any case, a perience through which Dante had himself respectable tradition. What I note here passed, and of an insight into the hygiene is that this passage in the “ Purgatorio and therapeutics of the soul gained by shows that he had grasped in its comthat experience. One of these meets us pleteness the idea of that “cord of lowon the very threshold of the poem. The liness ” which was one of the outward master and the scholar, Virgil and Dante, badges of the Franciscan order. have asked for guidance. How is the That other process of the cleansing of latter to qualify himself for the ascent of the face from the smoky grime of the Inthe Mount of Purification ? And the ferno is hardly less significant in its symanswer comes from Cato as the repre. bolism. Contact with evil, even with the sentative of na oral ethics pointing to righteous mesis that falls on evil, is something beyond itself, and is addressed not without its perils. The man catches to Virgil:
something of the taint of the vices on Go, therefore, now, and that he gird him teach which he looks. He is infected as with With a smooth rush, and see thou cleanse his the bassa voglia, which lingers as it lis. face
tens to the revilings of the base. He So that each stain that lingers there thou becomes hard and relentless as he dwells bleach;
with those who have perished in their For 'twere not meet his with
hatred. He looks on the sufferings of Of that thick mist before the angel go
the lost, not only with awe and dread, but Who holds in Paradise the foremost place. with a Tertullian-like ferocity of exulta
[Purg. i. 94-99.] tion. He analyzes the foulness of their And so while the green grass was wet with guilt as with the cynical realism which is the dew of morning, Virgil lays his hands dominant in modern French literature.
Before the work of purification can begin, upon it, and with a
sweetness wonderful” prepares him for the task assigned before he can prepare himself to meet the him. And then Dante goes on :
gaze of the angel.guard of Paradise, he
must cleanse himself from that blackness I turned to him my cheeks, where tears fell of the pit. The eye cannot see clearly full,
the beauty, outward or spiritual, which is And then he laved and cleansed my face all o'er to work out its restoration to humanity From hue that Hell had left there, dark and and holiness, until its memories of the dull. [Purg. i. 126-128.]
abyss of evil are made less, keen and viru.
lent. And when that process begins, and And then be girds him with the rush the pilgrim has at last arrived at the gate which was to be the symbol, not of the of Purgatory, the symbolism becomes yet strength and vigor which men look on as richer and more suggestive. He had conditions of success in their great enter- dreamt that he had been borne upward, as prises – intellectual, moral, spiritual on eagles' wings, into a region terrible in but of the bumility which ceases to assert its brightness. itself, and yields itself to the chastise. There seemed both he and I to feel the flame; ments which God appoints for it, and is And that imagined fire so scorched, it broke content with low estate, and seeks not Perforce the slumber which my soul o'ercame. great things for itself.
[Purg. ix. 31-33.] No other plant that leaves and branches bore, But the dream has its interpretation. He Or hardened grew, could there sustain its life, wakes in terror, but bis comforter is nigh For they yield not as each stroke passeth o'er.
at hand. [Purg. i. 103-105.] I do not enter now into the vexed ques. Be sure that we a goodly time have won ;
Then said my Master, “Cast off thy dismay, tion whether Dante had ever entered on Check not thy powers, but let them have full the life which was for bis generation the play ; ideal pattern of humility, and had become, Now shall thy steps through Purgatory run.
See there the high cliffs that around it go, Then prostrate at the holy feet I lay.
And thrice I smote my breast in contrite way.
[Purg. ix. 46-48.] Then on my brow he did delineate, He had been transported in that ecstasy
With his sword's point, seven P's, and said,
“ When there of his morning slumber by Lucia, at once Thou go'st within, cleanse these wounds oba saint in whose church at Florence he
stinate.” may have worshipped, to whom he may
[Purg. ix. 109-114.] have turned in the simplicity of his youthful faith, as the healer of that dimness of And so the gates are opened with the sil. şight, the outcome of intense study and ver and the golden keys of command and intense grief, which at one time threat-counsel, of which the angel says: ened to place him, no less than Milton, in “ From Peter hold I them; from him I learn the list of the great poets of the world Rather to ope in error than to close, who had suffered from a like privation, If only at my feet men kneel and mourn."
And then the second door he open throws, Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old,
Saying, "Enter in, but also take good heed; Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
He is cast forth who looks back as he goes.' and one who was for him, in the after-glow
[Purg. ix. 127-132.] of his age, when he had learned to trans- Yes, the seven P's of the seven pecfigure all his early memories, the symbol cata, the mortal sins of the ethics of ined. of heavenly illumination. That diviner iæval Christendom, are all thus traced insight was needed for what was to follow. upon the poet's brow, for in him, as in all Sitting on the topmost of three steps of of us, there were the possibilities, and varied hue, he sees the angel of Purgatory even the actualities, of all. He might be with a face of transcendent brightness. conscious, as we have seen in the inIn his right hand a naked sword he bare,
stances of pride and envy, of one form of
evil as more dominant in him than an. Which upon us its rays reflected still, So that in vain mine eyes did meet its glare.
other, of its being, as we say, his “beset[Purg. ix. 82-84.]
ting” sin; but not the less did he need to
pass through each successive stage in the And the fashion of those three steps was great ascent and to experience the work:
ing of all that was most potent to beal and Thither did we draw nigh, and that first stair
deliver from the sin which there was Was of white marble, polished so and clean
purged. It mirrored all my features as they were.
It is every way characteristic both of
the man and of his time that so large a There is the self-knowledge which sees share in that healing work should be as. itself in the mirror of the divine Word :
signed to.music, and that the music of the The second darker than dusk perse was seen,
Church. He may possibly have studied, Of stone all crumbling, rough and coarse in be certainly shared, the visions of the grain,
great English Franciscan thinker, as to With many a crack its length and breadth the regenerating and purifying power of between.
sacred psalmody.* He had known, as There is the rough sternness of mortifica- Milton, Hooker, Newman knew, how it tion, which is far other than the soft couch could soothe the troubles and attune the of self-indulgence, in which the natural discords of the soul; how, when married man delights.
to immortal words, it could give them The third, which o'er the others towers amain, made them fit vehicles for the utterance
wings, like those of Ezekiel's vision, that Appeared as if of fiery porphyry, Like blood that gushes crimson from the vein. of divinest mysteries. Shall we be wrong
[Purg. ix. 94-102.]
in thinking that here also.we have in the
"Purgatorio an autobiographical eleThere is the glow of burning love, not ment, reminiscences of hours when in the without a latent hint of the supreme in. Duomo of Florence, or in his own beloved stance of that love in the blood that flowed St. John, or elsewhere in church or mon. from bands and feet and wounded side astery, he had had new thoughts of peni. upon the cross.
tence and pardon, of high resolve and These were the steps that had to be aspirations after holiness? surmounted before the soul could enter Let us examine some at least of these on its steep ascent, and then, passing these, he falls before the angelic guardian.
* Roger Bacon.
instances by way of an induction. He is that it was not from minstrels or trouba. still on the shore of the sea where he had dours, Italian or Provençal, but from the laved his face and seen the angel guide's singers and choristers of the church, that boat bearing more than a hundred souls, Dante had heard the melodies that chased and they were all chanting as with one away the evil phantasms of his soul. So, voice: In exitu Israel de Egypto. That as he advances, he hears other souls sing was the fit opening hymn of this “pil. their Miserere of penitence. So, as the grim's progress.” After the fashion of gates are unlocked with the gold and silhis time, Dante had read in it a deeper ver keys — meaning than at first appeared. It spoke At the first thund'rous peal I turned again, to him of the deliverance of the Israel of And Te Deum Laudamus seemed to hear, God from another house of bondage than in voices mingled with melodious strain, that of the literal Egypt. When he notes, and what I heard upon my mind did bear as with special care, that they did not stop Such impress as it oft is wont to take, at those opening words, but
When men their singing with the organ share,
For now were heard, now not the words they So with one voice they chanted out their lay,
spake. With all the psalm doth afterwards unfold,
[Purg. ix. 109-115.] [Purg. ii. 46, 47.]
But chiefest in its power, and therefore we feel that that mystical interpretation worthy of fuller reproduction, was the had guided his thoughts to its closing prayer which men learn in childhood at words and that for him, the wanderer in a ibeir mother's knees, and which retains desert land, thirsting after righteousness, its power to utter the soul's wants to exit bore its witness of the Power that would
tremest age : turn "the hard rock into a standing water and the fint-stone into a springing well.” Our Father, Thou who dwellest in the heavens, In what follows there is surely something Not circumscribed, save as by greater sense intensely personal. Among these newly of love which Thou to Thy first works hast arrived souls was that of the Casella,
given, whose meeting with his former friend, in Praised be Thy name and Thine omnipotence the milder Shades of Purgatory,” Mil. To render thanks to Thy sweet effluence.
By every creature, as is meet and right ton's sonnet has made familiar to us all. Thy kingdom come to us in peace and might, Time and death have not changed the old For of ourselves we may not it attain, affection. After the vain embrace of the If it come not, with all our reason's height: shadow of the one with the mortal body As of their will Thine angels chant their strain, of the other, after the recognition which And high hosannas offer up alway, revives the memories of past days –
So may all men like will to offer gain.
Our daily manna give to us this day, And I, “If thy new law to thee doth spare Without which whoso through the desert The skill and memory of thy songs of love,
bleak Which calmed of yore my every eager care, Journeys, goes back, though pressing on his I pray thee still thy power to comfort prove
way. On this my soul, which with its fleshly mould And as the trespass men upon us wreak, O'erburdened, slow and heavily doth move." We forgive each, so, Lord, do Thou forgive, “O Love who with my soul dost converse Of Thy great goodness, nor our merit seek. hold,"
Our virtue, which so soon doth harm receive, He then began so sweetly to intone,
Put not to peril with our ancient foe, That still its sweetness thrills me as of old; But from his evil sting deliverance give. That music did the thoughts of all arrest, This final prayer, dear Lord, from us doth flow, Fixed and intent.
Not for ourselves, for we no longer need, [Purg. ii. 106-114.] But for their sakes whom we have left below.
[Purg. xi. 1-24.] It is, I think, impossible not to recog pize in this something more than the What follows is given, as before, more memory of the pleasant days of youthful in the way of brief and suggestive hints. friendship. There is the distinct recogni. The poet is in the circle of the proud, tion that ine mysterious, religious, purify- and ing power of music is not limited to that which we commonly call sacred, that a From voices with a charm ineffable.
Beati pauperes spiritu did rise, song of love may touch that which is most Ah me, how diverse are these entrances essentially spiritual in us, and may stir from those of Hell, for here with anthems up thoughts that lie too deep for tears.
clear This, however, stands as a solitary epi. Men enter, there with wail of miseries. sode, the exception which proves the rule,
[Purg. xii. 110-114.]
He passes among the envious, and the A little vexed he said, “Now look, my son, words Vinum non habent and “ Love ye. This wall parts thee from Beatrice fair!' your enemies ” speak to him of the char. That name at last prevails over all coward ity which cares for the wants of others fear, all human weakness: and overcomes evil with good. He is with the wrathful:
So then, my hardness melted, did I stir
Myself to my wise leader at the name We mounted thence and as we went therein
Which ever in my mind wells full and clear. “Yea, blessed are the merciful,” behind We heard them sing, “Rejoice ye, ye that And so he plunges in - comfort mingling win.”
with the pain, [Purg. xv. 37-39.]
When I reached it, I could myself have cast And later on, in the same company : –
In molten glass to cool mine agony,
The fire was there so measureless and vast. Voices I heard, and each one piteously Appeared for mercy and for peace to pray
Then my sweet Father, as to comfort me The Lamb of God who all our sins puts by:
Went on, of Beatrice speaking still, Still Agnus Dei led them on their way,
Saying, “E’en now I seem her eyes to see. One word for all, for all one melody,
[Purg. xxvii. 49-54.] So that their song full concord did display. And when he has passed through that wall
[Purg. xvi. 19-24.] of fire, we again trace the memories of the And yet once more :
anthems of past years: I heard the whirr, as if of wings flow by For guide we had a voice whose song did thrill And fan me in the face, and utter, “ Blest From thence, and we on it alone intent Are they that make peace, free from enmity.” Came forth where rose the steep side of the
[Purg. xvii. 67-69] So Benti qui angent comes as the mes. That voice from out a light so dazzling clear
Venite, benedicti Patris, sent sage for the covetous (xix. 50), and Adha- That I, o'ercome, could no more gaze attent. sit pavimento anima mea is their peniten
[Purg. xxvii. 55-60.] tial cry (xix. 73); and when the trembling of the mountain shows that a soul has And so he enters on the earthly Para. accomplished its purgation, there rises dise, where even by night the stars are from all the souls who hear it the Gloria larger than their wont; and where, when in excelsis Deo (xx. 136); and Beati qui the day dawns, he sees the stream, at once sitiunt corrects the inordinate appetite of dark and crystal clear, and the fair lady the gluttonous (xxii. 5), and Labin men, whom he identified with the Countess Domine, izperi comes from the lips of oné Matilda as the great representative type who is paying the penalty of that vice : of active holiness in the history of the and as the pilgrims approach the circle of mediæval Church. Her hands are full of fire, they hear from its central burning the powers and her eyes are bright with the suggestive words Summæ Deus clementiæ brightness of a benign and sympathizing and Virum non cognosco, and further on love. That he may understand what he the highest of the beatitudes Bcati muniti sees, she bids him remember the psalm, corde (xvii. 8). The poet writes as if con- of which he gives but the opening word scious that ibis was what called for the (xxviii. 80), but of which at least the first sharpest pain of all. He all but shrinks two verses must have been present to his back from that ordeal of fire.
thoughts:But Virgil said, “My son, here pain may be, Quia delectasti me, Domine, in factura tua, And torment; death thou leavest far behind. Et in operibus manuum Tuarum exultavi.
Here was the supreine sanction for man's Be well assured that, shouldst thou here abide delight in the work of God, for the witness Within this womb of flame a thousand year,
borne by all forms of visible beauty to No loss of e'en one hair should thee betide.
that which is invisible and eternal. It is [Purg. xxvii. 20–27.]
significant that she reveals, after she has That assurance, however, fails to give him told of the inystic rivers which he still has the courage which he needs. In vain he to pass, the secret of this full capacity for is told that the flame will purify, but not joy:destroy :
Singing like lady fair whom love doth sway, “Now lay aside, now lay aside all dread,
She carried on the close of her discourse, Turn thee to it, and enter free from care."
Quarum peccata tecta, blest are they. And I stood still, and conscience disobeyed,
[Purg. xxix. 1-3.] And when he saw me fixed and hard stand there,
I pass over the mystic vision that fol.
lows, as being more deliberately symbolic, to the truth of God. Disloyalty to her and therefore showing more the skill of who had first wakened in him the sense of the apocalyptic artist than the personality a higher life, of an eternal good, had been of the man : but the immediate prelude to disloyalty to bim, who through her had the revelation of the glorified Beatrice as sought to lead him to himself. When that the impersonation of the eternal wisdom confession has been made, and not till is again distioctly personal as blending then, the time has come for the baptism of together the two influences of natural a new regeneration. beauty and of sacred song, of which I have already spoken. In that vision, apparently
Then when my heart new outward strength from the lips of the seer of Patmos, he The lady fair whom I had found alone,
did gain, hears a voice of power :
Near me I saw, saying, “ Hold me, hold,” And one of them as if by Heaven sent there,
again. Sang “Veni Sponsa, come from Lebanon,"
Up to the throat, within the river thrown, Three times, and all the rest took up the air,
She drew me on behind her, while she went, As at the last call every blessed one
As though a shuttle o'er the stream had flown, Shall rise full quick from out his caverned And as my way to that blest shore I bent, bourne.
Asperges me I heard so sweetly sung, And Alleluias sung with voice rewon.
I cannot it in thought or speech present. So where the heavenly chariot on was borne,
And then her arms the beauteous lady tlung A hundred rose ad vocem tanti senis,
Around my head, and plunged me in the tide, Angels and heralds of the life eterne,
So that the water flowed down o'er my tongue ; And all said Benedictus es qui venis,
Thence me she crew and led me purified And scattering flowers above them and around, Within the dance of that quaternion bright, Manibus O date lilia plenis.
And each embraced me in her arms oped wide. [Purg. xxx. 10–21.]
[Purg. xxxi. 91-105.] These herald songs that meet the ear The river which he thus crossed was have their counterpart in what meets the none other than the stream of Lethe,
which Dante, with a profound insight, Oft have I seen how all the East was crowned though in defiance of all Christian tradi. Just at the break of day, with roseate hue,
tions, thus places as all but the final stage And all the sky beyond serener found,
of purification. He had felt, as all souls And the sun's facę o'erclouded came in view,
that have passed through the crisis of The vapors so attempering its power
conversion have felt, that what is needed That the eye gazed long while nor weary grew. for the soul is that its memory may be
[Purg. xxx. 22–27.] cleansed of all the evil of the past, tiiat as
God blots out its transgressions as a And then there comes the final revelation cloud, and as a thick cloud its sins, so it of Beatrice, Madonna-like in her beauty, too may forget the past, or remember it and arrayed in the symbolic colors with only as belonging to an alien and a van. which early Italian art clothed their ideal ished self. That cleansing of the conof that Madonna:
science, as with the blood of sprinkling so And so enveloped in a cloud of flowers that it becomes white as snow, makes the Which leapt up, scattered by angelic hands, vision of the eternal truth no longer over. And part within, and part without sent showers, whelming, for it is coupled with the vis. And in white veil with olive-wreathed bands, ion of the Christ in his divine and human 'Neath mantle green a lady came in sight,
unity. And clad in garb all red as burning brands. [Purg. xxx. 28–33.] Think, reader, what my wonder must have
been, Of that meeting as far as it belonged to When I beheld the object changeless stand, Dante's confessions, I have already spok- Yet in its image changed in form and mien, en fully. It remains, however, to note the While full of joy, yet slow to understand, significance of the place which it occupies My soul its hunger fed with nourishment in the long process of purification. It is Which satisfies yet stimulates demand. not till the soul has been cleansed from Showing in every act their high descent, its last baseness and conquered the last The other three moved on in harmonies besetting sin, and passed through the with their angelic dancing in concent: agonizing fire, that it learns to comprehend So sang their song, “ to this thy servant true,
“ Turn, Beatrice, turn, thine holy eyes,' fully the root-evil of which the seven
Who to see thee has dared such enterprise : deadly sins were but the manifold out. For grace' sake, grant this grace, to yield to growth. Then at last it sees that there view had been from the first an unfaithfulness | Thy face to him, that he may well discern