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[55] in its theoretical application the civilized world. His political system was one which his reason adopted, not for any temporary expediency, but because it conduced to justice, peace, and civilization,—the three conditions on which alone freedom was possible in any sense which made it worth having. Dante was intensely Italian, nay, intensely Florentine, but on all great questions he was, by the logical structure of his mind and its philosophic impartiality, incapable of intellectual provincialism.1 If the circle of his affections, as with persistent natures commonly, was narrow, his thought swept a broad horizon from that tower of absolute self which he had reared for its speculation. Even upon the principles of poetry, mechanical and other,2 he had reflected more profoundly than most of those who criticise his work, and it was not by chance that he discovered the secret of that magical word too few, which not only distinguishes his verse from all other, but so strikingly from his own prose. He never took the bit of art3 between

1 Some Florentines have amusingly enough doubted the genuineness of the De vulgari Eloquio, because Dante therein denies the preeminence of the Tuscan dialect.

2 See particularly the second book of the De vulgari Eloquio.

3 Purgatorio, XXXIII. 141. ‘That thing one calls beautiful whose parts answer to each other, because pleasure results from their harmony.’ (Convito, Tr. I. c. 5.) Carlyle says that ‘he knew too, partly, that his work was great, the greatest a man could do.’ He knew it fully. Telling us how Giotto's fame as a painter had eclipsed that of Cimabue, he takes an example from poetry also, and selecting two Italian poets,—one the most famous of his predecessors, the other of his contemporaries,—calmly sets himself above them both (Purgatorio, XI. 97-99), and gives the reason for his supremacy (Purgatorio, XXIV. 49-62). It is to be remembered that Amore in the latter passage does not mean love in the ordinary sense, but in that transcendental one set forth in the Convito,—that state of the soul which opens it for the descent of God's spirit, to make it over into his own image. ‘Therefore it is manifest that in this love the Divine virtue descends into men in the guise of an angel, .... and it is to be noted that the descending of the virtue of one thing into another is nothing else than reducing it to its own likeness.’ (Convito, Tr. III. c. 14.)

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