ct of Dante's priorate was to expel from Florence the chiefs of both parties as the sowers of strife, and he tells us (Paradiso, XVII.) that he had formed a party by himself.
The king of Saxony has well defined his political theory as being an ideal Ghibellinism
Comment on Paradiso, VI. and he has been accused of want of patriotism only by those short-sighted persons who cannot see beyond their own parish.
Dante's want of faith in freedom was of the same kind with Milton's refusing (as Tacitus had done before) to confound license with liberty.
The argument of the De Monarchia is briefly this: As the object of the individual man is the highest development of his faculties, so is it also with men united in societies.
But the individual can only attain the highest development when all his powers are in absolute subjection to the intellect, and society only when it subjects its individual caprices to an intelligent head.
This is the order of nature, as in families, and men have fo
the Piscatory Eclogues of Phinehas Fletcher.
Browne and Fletcher wrote because Spenser had written, but Spenser wrote from a strong inward impulse—an instinct it might be called—to escape at all risks into the fresh air from that horrible atmosphere into which rhymer after rhymer had been pumping carbonic-acid gas with the full force of his lungs, and in which all sincerity was on the edge of suffocation.
His longing for something truer and better was as honest as that which led Tacitus so long before to idealize the Germans, and Rousseau so long after to make an angel of the savage.
Spenser himself supremely overlooks the whole chasm between himself and Chaucer, as Dante between himself and Virgil.
He called Chaucer master, as Milton was afterwards to call him. And, even while he chose the most artificial of all forms, his aim—that of getting back to nature and life—was conscious, I have no doubt, to himself, and must be obvious to whoever reads with anything but the
nor wanted in his grasp What seemed both spear and shield. But the thin stiletto of Macchiavelli is a more effective weapon than these fantastic arms of his. He had not the secret of compression that properly belongs to the political thinker, on whom, as Hazlitt said of himself, nothing but abstract ideas makes any impression.
Almost every aphoristic phrase that he has made current is borrowed from some one of the classics, like his famous
License they mean when they cry liberty, from Tacitus.
This is no reproach to him so far as his true function, that of poet, is concerned.
It is his peculiar glory that literature was with him so much an art, an end and not a means.
Of his political work he has himself told us, I should not choose this manner of writing, wherein, knowing myself inferior to myself (led by the genial power of nature to another task), I have the use, as I may account, but of my left hand.
Mr. Masson has given an excellent analysis of these writings, select