e is scarce a village that has not its tradition of him, its sedia, rocca, spelonca, or torre di Dante; and what between the patriotic complaisance of some biographers overwilling to gratify as many provincial vanities as possible, and the pettishness of others anxious only to snub them, the confusion becomes hopeless.
The loose way in which many Italian scholars write history is as amazing as it is perplexing.
For example: Count Balbo's Life of Dante was published originally at Turin, in 1839.
In a note (Lib.
I. Cap. X.) he expresses a doubt whether the date of Dante's banishment should not be 1303, and inclines to think it should be. Meanwhile, it seems never to have occurred to him to employ some one to look at the original decree, still existing in the archives.
Stranger still, Le Monnier,reprinting the work at Florence in 1853, within a stone'sthrow of the document itself, and with full permission from Balbo to make corrections, leaves the matter just where it was. After hi
ed to itself the reverence and the troops of friends which his poems and the nobly simple life reflected in them deserved.
Public honors followed private appreciation.
In 1838 the University of Dublin conferred upon him the degree of D. C. L. In 1839 Oxford did the same, and the reception of the poet (now in his seventieth year) at the University was enthusiastic.
In 1842 he resigned his office of StampDis-tributor, and Sir Robert Peel had the honor of putting him upon the civil list for a petain tendency to the diffuse and commonplace.
It is in the understanding (always prosaic) that the great golden veins of his imagination are imbedded.
This was instinctively felt, even by his admirers.
Miss Martineau said to Crabb Robinson in 1839, speaking of Wordsworth's conversation: Sometimes he is annoying from the pertinacity with which he dwells on trifles; at other times he flows on in the utmost grandeur, leaving a strong impression of inspiration.
Robinson tells us that he read R