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243 their yet undiscovered feelings. When they came to that passage in the romance, where the lovers, after many tender approaches, are gradually drawn by one uniform reciprocation of involuntary attraction to kiss each other, the book dropped from their hands. By a sudden impulse and an irresistible sympathy, they are tempted to do the fame. Here was the commencement of their tragical history.
Noi leggiavam' un giorno per diletto
But this picture, in which nature, sentiment, and the graces are concerned, I have to contrast with scenes of a very different nature. Salvator Rosa has here borrowed the pencil Correggio. Dante's beauties are not of the soft and gentle kind.
Through many a dark and dreary vale
A hurricane suddenly rising on the banks of the river Styx is thus described.
Et gia venia sù per le torbid onde
Dante and his mystagogue meet the monster Geryon. He has the face of a man with a mild and benign aspect, but his human form ends in a serpent with a voluminous tail of immense length, terminated by a sting, which he brandishes like a scorpion. His hands are rough with bristles and seales. His breast, back, and sides have all the rich colours displayed in the textures of Tartary and Turkey, or in the labours of Arachne. To speak in Spenser's language, he is,
- A dragon, horrible and bright,
No monster of romance is more savage or superb.
Lo dosso, e'l petto, ad amenduo le coste,
The conformation of this heterogeneous beast, as a fabulous hell is the subject, perhaps immediately gave rise to one of
Cant. xvii. Dante says, that he lay
affectedly introduced by our author for a
the formidable shapes which fate on either fide of the gates of
The one seem'd woman to the waste and fair,
Virgil, seeming to acknowledge him as an old acquaintance, mounts the back of Geryon. At the same time Dante inounts, whom Virgil places before, “ that you may not, says he, be
exposed to the monster's venomous sting." Virgil then com-
In this manner they travel in the air through Tartarus: and
I sentia già dalla man destra il gorgo
This airy journey is copied from the flight of Icarus and
is it quite improbable, that Milton, although he has greatly improved and dignified the idea, might have caught from hence his fiction of Satan soaring over the infernal abyss. At length Geryon, having circuited the air like a faulcon towering without prey, deposits his burthen and vanishes k.
While they are wandering along the banks of Phlegethon, as the twilight of evening approaches, Dante suddenly hears the sound of a horn more loud than thunder, or the horn of Orlando'.
Ma io senti sonare alto corno:-
Dante descries through the gloom, what he thinks to be many high and vast towers, molte alti torri. These are the giants who warred against heaven, standing in a row, half concealed within and half extant without an immense abyss or pit,
Gli orribili giganti, cui minaccia
But Virgil informs Dante that he is deceived by appearances, and that these are not towers but the giants.
Sappi, che non son torri ma giganti
One of them cries out to Dante with horrible voice. Another, Ephialtes, is cloathed in iron and bound with huge chains.
* In the thirty-fourth CANTO, Dante
Vele di mar non vid' io mai eft celi.
Quando l'ale furo aperte affai.
This Canto begins with a Latin line,
Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni. 1 Or Roland, the subject of archbishop Turpin's romance. See supr, vol. i. 132. on CANT. xxxi.
Dante wishes to see Briareus : he is answered, that he lies in an
Non fu tremuoto già tanto rubesto,
Dante views the horn which had founded fo vehemently hanging by a leathern thong from the neck of one of the giants. Antaeus, whose body stands ten ells high from the pit, is commanded by Virgil to advance. They both mount on his shoulders, and are thus carried about Cocytus. The giant, says the poet, moved off with us like the mast of a ship". One cannot help observing, what has been indeed already hinted, how judiciously Milton, in a similar argument, has retained the just beauties, and avoided the childish or ludicrous excesses of these bold inventions. At the same time we may remark, how Dante has sometimes heightened, and sometimes diminished by improper additions or misrepresentations, the legitimate descriptions of Virgil.
One of the torments of the Damned in Dante's INFERNO, is the punishment of being eternally confined in lakes of ice.
Eran l'ombre dolenti nell ghiaccia
The ice is described to be like that of the Danube or Tanais. This species of infernal torment, which is neither directly warranted by scripture, nor suggested in the systems of the Platonic fabulists, and which has been adopted both by Shakespeare and
a pine-apple, of saint Peter's church at · Dante says, if I understand the pas. Rome, ibid. Cant. xxxi. sage right, that the face of one of the giants resembled the Cupola, shaped like
Come la pina di san Pietro a Roma.