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[46] works continual allusions to himself of great value as material for his biographer. Those who read attentively will discover that the tenderness he shows toward Francesca and her lover did not spring from any friendship for her family, but was a constant quality of his nature, and that what is called his revengeful ferocity is truly the implacable resentment of a lofty mind and a lover of good against evil, whether showing itself in private or public life; perhaps hating the former manifestation of it the most because he believed it to be the root of the latter,—a faith which those who have watched the course of politics in a democracy, as he had, will be inclined to share. His gentleness is all the more striking by contrast, like that silken compensation which blooms out of the thorny stem of the cactus. His moroseness,1 his party spirit, and his personal vindictiveness are all predicated upon the Inferno, and upon a misapprehension or careless reading even of that. Dante's zeal was not of that sentimental kind, quickly kindled and as soon quenched, that hovers on the surface of shallow minds,

Even as the flame of unctuous things is wont
To move upon the outer surface only;

Inferno, XIX. 28, 29.

it was the steady heat of an inward fire kindling the whole character of the man through and through, like the minarets of his own city of Dis.2 He was, as seems distinctive in some degree of the Latinized races, an unflinching à priori logician, not unwilling to ‘syllogize ’

1 Dante's notion of virtue was not that of an ascetic, nor has any one ever painted her in colors more soft and splendid than he in the Convito. She is ‘sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,’ and he dwells on the delights of her love with a rapture which kindles and purifies. So far from making her an inquisitor, he says expressly that she ‘should be gladsome and not sullen in all her works.’ (Convito, Tr. I. c. 8.) ‘Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose’!

2 Inferno, VIII. 70-75.

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