his inspiration, and not from muddy Fra Alberico or Abbate Giovacchino
, from stupid visions of Saint Paul
or voyages of Saint Brandan.
She has written by far the best comment that has appeared in English
, and we should say the best that has been done in England
, were it not for her father's Comento analitico
, for excepting which her filial piety will thank us. Students of Dante
in the original will be grateful to her for many suggestive hints, and those who read him in English will find in her volume a travelling map in which the principal points and their connections are clearly set down.
In what we shall say of Dante
we shall endeavor only to supplement her interpretation with such side-lights as may have been furnished us by twenty years of assiduous study.
's thought is multiform, and, like certain street signs, once common, presents a different image according to the point of view.
Let us consider briefly what was the plan of the Divina Commedia
's aim in writing it, which, if not to justify, was at least to illustrate, for warning and example, the ways of God to man. The higher intention of the poem was to set forth the results of sin, or unwisdom, and of virtue, or wisdom, in this life, and consequently in the life to come, which is but the continuation and fulfilment of this.
The scene accordingly is the spiritual world, of which we are as truly denizens now as hereafter.
The poem is a diary of the human soul in its journey upwards from error through repentance to atonement with God.
To make it apprehensible by those whom it was meant to teach, nay, from its very nature as a poem, and not a treatise of abstract morality, it must set forth everything by means of sensible types and images.
To speak thus is adapted to your mind,
Since only from the sensible it learns