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[29] general peace. This is the doctrine of the first book, enforced sometimes eloquently, always logically, and with great fertility of illustration. It is an enlargement of some of the obiter dicta of the Convito. The earnestness with which peace is insisted on as a necessary postulate of civic well-being shows what the experience had been out of which Dante had constructed his theory. It is to be looked on as a purely scholastic demonstration of a speculative thesis, in which the manifold exceptions and modifications essential in practical application are necessarily left aside. Dante almost forestalls the famous proposition of Calvin, ‘that it is possible to conceive a people without a prince, but not a prince without a people,’ when he says, Non enim gens propter regem, sed e converso rex propter genterm.1 And in his letter to the princes and peoples of Italy on the coming of Henry VII., he bids them ‘obey their prince, but so as freemen preserving their own constitutional forms.’ He says also expressly:
Aninmadvertendum sane, quod cum dicitur humanum genus potest regi per unum supremum principem, non sic intelligendum est ut ab illo uno prodire possint municipia et leges municipales. Habent namque nationes, regna, et civitates inter se proprietates quas legibus differentibus regulari oportet.
Schlosser the historian compares Dante's system with that of the United States.2 It in some respects resembled more the constitution of the Netherlands under the supreme stadtholder, but parallels between ideal and actual institutions are always unsatisfactory.3

1 Jean de Meung had already said,—

Ge n'en met hors rois ne prelas

Qu'il sunt tui serf au menu pueple.

Roman de la Rose (ed. Meon), V. II. pp. 78, 79.

2 Dante, Studien, etc., 1855, p. 144.

3 Compare also Spinoza, Tractat. polit., Cap. VI.

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