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[77] own beauty with a pride as natural as that of Fair Annie in the old ballad, and compares herself as advantageously with the ‘brown, brown bride’ who had supplanted her. If this be a ghost, we do not need be told that she is a woman still.1 We must remember, however, that Beatrice had to be real that she might be interesting, to be beautiful that her goodness might be persuasive, nay, to be beautiful at any rate, because beauty has also something in it of divine. Dante has told, in a passage already quoted, that he would rather his readers should find his doctrine sweet than his verses, but he had his relentings from this Stoicism.

1 This touch of nature recalls another. The Italians claim humor for Dante. We have never been able to find it, unless it be in that passage (Inferno, XV. 119) where Brunetto Latini lingers under the burning shower to recommend his Tesoro to his former pupil. There is a comical touch of nature in an author's solicitude for his little work, not, as in Fielding's case, after its, but his own damnation. We are not sure, but we fancy we catch the momentary flicker of a smile across those serious eyes of Dante's. There is something like humor in the opening verses of the XVI. Paradise, where Dante tells us how even in heaven he could not help glorying in being gently born,— he who had devoted a Canzone and a book of the Convito to proving that nobility consisted wholly in virtue. But there is, after all, something touchingly natural in the feeling. Dante, unjustly robbed of his property, and with it of the independence so dear to him, seeing

Needy nothings trimmed in jollity,
     And captive Good attending Captain Ill,

would naturally fall back on a distinction which money could neither buy nor replace. There is a curious passage in the Convito which shows how bitterly he resented his undeserved poverty. He tells us that buried treasure commonly revealed itself to the bad rather than the good. ‘Verily I saw the place on the flanks of a mountain in Tuscany called Falterona, where the basest peasant of the whole countryside digging found there more than a bushel of pieces of the finest silver, which perhaps had awaited him more than a thousand years.’ (Tr. IV. c. 11.) One can see the grimness of his face as he looked and thought, ‘how salt a savor hath the bread of others!’

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