of the way at all hazards; because obedience to God's law, and not making things generally comfortable, was the highest duty of man, as it was also his only way to true felicity.
It has been commonly assumed that Dante
was a man soured by undeserved misfortune, that he took up a wholly new outfit of political opinions with his fallen fortunes, and that his theory of life and of man's relations to it was altogether reshaped for him by the bitter musings of his exile.
This would be singular, to say the least, in a man who tells us that he ‘felt himself indeed four-square against the strokes of chance,’ and whose convictions were so intimate that they were not merely intellectual conclusions, but parts of his moral being.
Fortunately we are called on to believe nothing of the kind.
himself has supplied us with hints and dates which enable us to watch the germination and trace the growth of his double theory of government, applicable to man as he is a citizen of this world, and as he hopes to become hereafter a freeman of the celestial city.
It would be of little consequence to show in which of two equally selfish and short-sighted parties a man enrolled himself six hundred years ago, but it is worth something to know that a man of ambitious temper and violent passions, aspiring to office in a city of factions, could rise to a level of principle so far above them all. Dante
's opinions have life in them still, because they were drawn from living sources of reflection and experience, because they were reasoned out from the astronomic laws of history and ethics, and were not weather-guesses snatched in a glance at the doubtful political sky of the hour.
Swiftly the politic goes: is it dark?
he borrows a lantern;
Slowly the statesman and sure, guiding his feet by the stars.
It will be well, then, to clear up the chronology of