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ing of this could have made him submit to concessions so alien (to his whole character and habits—and the world, says Mad. d« S., so understood him. 'Quand il a nrononcé les mots de Lot .* et Libert?, l'Europe s'est rassuree: Elle a senti (jue ce n'ctoii * plus son ancien et terrible adversaire.'
She passes a magnificent encomium on the military genius and exalted character of our Wellington; but says he could not have conquered as he did, if the French had been led by one who could rally round him the affections of the people as well as he could direct their soldiers. JShe maintains^ that after the battle, when Bonaparte returned to Paris, he had not the least idea of being called upon again to abdicate, but expected to obtain from the two chambers the means of renewing or continuing the contest. When he found that this was impossible, lie sunk at once into despair, and resigned himself without a struggle. The selfishness which had guided his whole career, disclosed itself in naked deformity in the last acts of his public life. He abandoned his army the moment he found that he could not lead it immediately against the enemy—and no sooner saw his own fate determined, than he gave up all concern for that of the unhappy country which his ambition had involved in such disasters. He quietly passed by the camp of his warriors on his way to the port by which he was to make his own escape —and, by throwing himself into the hands of the English, endeavoured to obtain for himself the benefit of those liberal principles which it had been the business of his life to extirpate and discredit all over the world.
At this point Mad. de S. terminates somewhat abruptly her historical review of the events of the Revolution; and here, our readers will be happy to learn, we must stop too. There is half a volume more of her work, indeed,—and one that cannot be supposed the least interesting to us, as it treats chiefly of the history, constitution, and society of England. But it is for this very reason that we cannot trust ourselves with the examination of it. We have every reason certainly to be satisfied with the account she gives of us; nor can any thing be more eloquent and animating than the view she has presented of the admirable mechanism and steady working of our constitution, and of its ennobling effects on the character of all who live under it. We are willing to believe all this too to be just; though we are certainly painted en beau. In some parts, however, we are more shocked at the notions she gives us of the French character, than flattered at the contrast exhibited by our own. In mentioning the good reception that gentlemen in opposition to government sometimes meet with in society, and the upright posjture they contrive to maintain, she says, that nobody here would think of condoling with a man for being out of power, or of receiving him with less cordiality. She notices also, with a very alarming sort of admiration, that she understood when in England, that a gentleman of the law had actually refused a situation worth 6000/. or 7000/. a year, merely because he did not approve of the ministry by whom it was offered; and adds, that in France, any man who would refuse a respectable office, with a salary of 8000 louis, would certainly be considered as lit for Bedlam: And in another place she observes, that it seems to be a fundamental maxim in that country, that every man must have a place. We confess that we have some difficulty in reconciling these incidental intimations with her leading position, that the great majority of the French nation is desirous of a free constitution, and perfectly fit for and deserving of it. If these be the principles, not only upon which they act, but which they and their advocates avow, we know no constitution under which they can be free; and have no faith in the power of any new institutions to counteract that spirit of corruption by which, even where they have existed the longest, their whole virtue is consumed.
With our manners in society she is not quite so well pleased; —though she is kind enough to ascribe our deficiencies to the most honourable causes. In commiserating the comparative dulness of our social talk, however, has not this philosophic observer a little overlooked the effects of national tastes and habits—and is it not conceivable, at least, that we who are used to it, may really have as much satisfaction in our own hum-drum way of seeing each other, as our more sprightly neighbours in their exquisite assemblies? In all this part of the work, too, we think we can perceive the traces rather of ingenious theory than of correct observation; and suspect that a good part of the tableau of English society is rather a sort of conjectural sketch, than a copy from real life; or at least that it is a generalization from a very few, and not very common examples. May we be pardoned too for hinting, that a person of Mad. de S.'s great talents and celebrity, is by no means well qualified for discovering the true tone and character of English society from her own observation; both because she was not likely to see it in those smaller and more familiar assemblages in which it is seen to the most advantage, and because her presence must have had the unlucky effect of imposing silence on the modest, and tempting the vain and ambitious to unnatural display and ostentation.
With all its faults, however, the portion of her book which we have been obliged to pass over in silence, is well worthy of as ample a notice as we have bestowed on the other parts of ^ and would of itself be sufficient to justify us in ascribing to its lamented author that perfection of masculine understanding, and female grace and acuteness, which are so rarely to be met with apart, and never, we believe, were before united.
Art. II. Osservazioni Intorno alia Questione sopra la Originalita del Poema di Dante. Di F. Cancellieri. Roma, 181*.
Observations concerning the Question of the Originality of the Poem of Dante. By F. Cancelueri.
T^he limits of a late Number precluded us from entering, as fully as we would have wished, into the subject of Dante. We resume it the more willingly, from our having just received a work, published two or three years ago in Italy, but almost unknown in England, having for its object to ascertain, whether this great poet was an inventor, or an imitator only. The continental antiquaries and scholars have eagerly laid hold of a manuscript, said to have been discovered about the beginning of the present century, and affording evidence, according to some persons, that he had borrowed from others the' whole plan and conception of his wonderful work. The question, indeed, is of ancient date; and, long before such value had been set upon this manuscript, was so perplexed and prolonged, as now to call for definitive elucidation. We trust we shall place our readers in a condition to decide it for themselves.
An extract, or rather a short abstract of an old Vision, written in Latin, appeared in a pamphlet published at Rome in 1801, with an insinuation, that the primitive model of Dante's poem had at length been discovered. Some reader of new publications transmitted the intelligence of this discovery to a German journalist, who received it as of the utmost importance; and from him, a writer in a French paper, (the Publiciste of July 1809), transcribed, embellished, and diffused it over all Europe, through the medium of his universal language. Having nothing to do with politics, every body received it upon the faith of the author of the pamphlet, by whom alone the old manuscript had been read; and it was immediately settled, among the wits and critics of the day, that Dante was but the versifier of the ideas of others. Mr Cancellieri, a professed black-letter scholar, and animated, no doubt, with a laudable aeal for religion as well as literature, published the Vision entire in 1814, on the return of his Holiness to Rome. He ac
companied it with an Italian translation, the whole comprising some sixty pages, preceded by twice that number of pages of his own remarks. In this ample dissertation, the question, however, is merely glanced at;—and all that its readers can make out with certainty is, that the learned author had selected this curious subject chiefly to astonish the world by his multifarious erudition, in a book which might have been not inaptly entitled—' I)e rebus omnibus, et de qitibusdam atiis.' It must .be acknowledged* however, that, amidst the unbounded variety of his citations, we meet with some things which it is agreeable to know; but they have so little to do with Dante, that we are really but little beholden to him on the present occasion; and have been obliged to refer to many other authorities, in order to disentangle ourselves from the perplexities into which he had brought us,
Mr Cancellieri apprises us that there existed two famous Alherics, both monks of Monte-Cassino;—but he thought it immaterial to add, that the first was one of the few monks to whom the civilization of the world is not without obligations—he having, in the midst of the barbarism of the 11th century, written treatises upon logic, astronomy, and music. * His works probably contributed more to form the mind of Dante, than the Visions of the other to form the plan of his poem.
The latter Alberic was born about the year 1100, soon after the death of the former. When in his 9th year, he fell sick, and remained in a lethargy for nine days. Whilst in this state, a dove appeared to him, and catching him by the hair lifted him up to the presence of Saint Peter, who, with two angels, conducted the child across Purgatory, and, mounting thence from planet to planet, transported him into Paradise, there to contemplate the glory of the blessed. His vision restored him to perfect health ;—the miraculous cure was published to the world;—the monks received the child at Monte-Cassino;—and, because he repeated his vision tolerably well, and was of a rich family, they devoted him to Saint Benedict, before he had reached his 10th year. He lived from that time in constant penitence, tasting neither flesh or wine, and never wearing shoes; and the monastery had thus the glory of possessing a living saint, who, by his virtue, confirmed the belief that he had seen Purgatory and Paradise.
They took care to have the vision of Alberic reduced to writing, first by one of their own lettered brethren, and, some years after, by Alberic himself, assisted by the pen of Peter the 'Deacon, of whom there are yet remaining some historical piece*
which occasionally throw li•>ht upon the darkness of that age. We subjoin what he says of Alberic in his own words. f
It' there existed but this one vision before the time of Dante* there might be some ground for presuming, that it suggested to him the idea of his poem. But the truth is, that such visions abounded from the very earliest ages of Christianity. Saint Cyprian had visions,—Saint Perpetua had visions,—and both, with many others, were declared divine by Saint Augustine. The revelations of each turned upon the doctrine which each thought the best for establishing the faith. Accordingly, the creed written ibr the church over which he presided, by Saint Gregory Thau mat urgus, was dictated to him in a vision by Saint John the Evangelist. But the zeal of the early bishops was soon replaced by the interested views of their successors. About the 10th century, the great object was, to establish the doctrine of Purgatory, in which the period of expiation was shortened in favour of souls, in proportion to the alms given by their heirs to the Church. The monk Alberic describes Purgatory with minuteness, and sees Hell only at a distance. All those visions, having the same object, resembled each othcr; and whoever will take the trouble to examine the legends of the saints, and archives of the monasteries, will find hundreds, of the same epoch, and the same tenor. It may be said, that Dante cither profited by all, or by none; but, if there be any one to which he can be supposed to be indebted more than another, it is the vision of an English monk, not named by any one that we know, though told circumstantially by Mathew Paris. * The English monk, like the Italian, gives no description of Hell, but, like Dante, describes his Purgatory as a mount;—the passage from Purgatory to Paradise, a vast garden, intersected by delightful woods, as in our poet: Both had their visions in the holy week;—both allot the same punishments to the same infamous crimes, with some other points of resemblance, which those who are curious may find in Mathew Paris. The vision related by that historian, suffices to give as idea of
f Tanta usque in hodiernum abstinentia, tanta morum gravitate pollet, ut pcenas peccatorum perspexisse, et pertimuisse, et gloriain sanctorum vidisse nemo quis dubitet: Non enim carnem, non adipetn, non rinum, ab illo tempore usque nunc, Deo annuentw, assumpsit j ca|ciamento nullo penitus tempore utitur; et sic, in tanta cordis, ae corporis coutritione, et humilitate usque nunc in hodiernum, in hoc Cu-iinensi ccenobio persevcrat, ut multa ilium quse alios laterent vel metuenda> vel desideranda vidisse, etiamsi lingua taceret, vita loqueretur. (De Viris illustr. Casin.)
* Hist. Aug. ad an. 1196. .5