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[84] can find assured rest? We have already said that we believe Dante's political opinions to have taken their final shape and the De Monarchia to have been written before 1300.1 That the revision of the Vita Nuova was completed in that year seems probable from the last sonnet but one, which is addressed to pilgrims on their way to the Santa Veronica at Rome.2 In this sonnet he still laments Beatrice as dead; he would make the pilgrims share his grief. It is the very folly of despairing sorrow, that calls on the first comer, stranger though he be, for a sympathy which none can fully give, and he least of all. But in the next sonnet, the last in the book, there is a surprising change of tone. The transfiguration of Beatrice has begun, and we see completing itself that natural gradation of grief which will erelong bring the mourner to call on the departed saint to console him for her own loss. The sonnet is remarkable in more senses than one, first for its psychological truth, and then still more for the light it throws on Dante's inward history as poet and thinker.

1 He refers to a change in his own opinions (Lib. II. § 1), where he says, ‘When I knew the nations to have murmured against the preeminence of the Roman people, and saw the people imagining vain things as I myself was wont.’ He was a Guelph by inheritance, he became a Ghibelline by conviction.

2 It should seem from Dante's words (‘at the time when much people went to see the blessed image,’ and ‘ye seem to come from a far-off people’) that this was some extraordinary occasion, and what so likely as the jubilee of 1300? (Compare Paradiso, XXXI. 103– 108.) Dante's comparisons are so constantly drawn from actual eyesight, that his allusion (Inferno, XIII. 28-33) to a device of Boniface VIII. for passing the crowds quietly across the bridge of Saint Angelo, renders it not unlikely that he was in Rome at that time, and perhaps conceived his poem there as Giovanni Villani his chronicle. That Rome would deeply stir his mind and heart is beyond question. ‘And certes I am of a firm opinion that the stones that stand in her walls are worthy of reverence, and the soil where she sits worthy beyond what is preached and admitted of men.’ (Convito, Tr. IV. c. 5.)

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