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from the universal happiness which conformity to the will of God produces, all form part of one glorious and eternal Paradise. *

In the planet Mercury, to wbich the poet next ascends,t he meets with Justinian, who recites the conquests and successes of the Romans, in order to establish the divine right of the Emperors. Having occasion to mention the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, Dante is led to the subject of our Saviour's crucifixion, and the redemption of mankind. This he calls “the most sublime scheme that has been, or shall be, from the beginning to the end of the world;"* and he treats of it with such astonishing clearness and precision, that from a few stanzas may be gathered more solid divinity than from volumes of theological discourses.

The third heaven to which he ascends is Venus ; $the fourth the Sun,ll Within the latter are seen glorified spirits, who encompass Dante and Beatrice in two concentric circles, and by a most magnificent simile are compared to a double rainbow. Having recorded the praises of St. Francis and St. Dominic, they are requested by Beatrice to satisfy the curiosity of Dante as to their own condition. At this request, each star increases in brilliancy; and in the warmth of their charity and benevolence, they break forth into songs of joy, while they dance around their terrestial visitor. Enraptured with the divine melody, the poet exclaims,

* Canto iii. 70, 88.

+ Ib. v. 93. || Ib. x.

# Ib. vii. 114. Ib. xii. 10.

f Ib. viii.

“He who laments that man on earth must die,

Ere he can live in heaven, hath little known

The calm refreshment of the shower on high !"* A hymn is then sung to the blessed Trinity; when Solomon advancing informs Dante that the brightness shed around them by the flame of charity is proportioned to the ardour they severally feel-that on resuming their bodies, they will receive an accession of light, to enable them to see God; and that their faculties will be endued with an increased capacity for enjoyment. +

Mounting up to the sphere of Mars, the fifth heaven, Dante now beholds the souls of warriors, who died fighting in defence of the faith, ranged in form of a cross, along which they move to the notes of a melodious hymn. Enamoured of the sound, he forgets awhile even Beatrice herself. I Suddenly the spirit of Cacciaguida his ancestor descends, like a shooting star, to the foot of the cross, and fondly addresses him in language similar to that used by Anchises on beholding his son in the Elysian fields. Cacciaguida gives a history of his family, and this leads him to contrast the ancient with the modern state of

Florence.

The subject is one upon which the poet loves to dwell.

* Canto xiv. 25.

+ Ib. xiv. 58.

Ib. xv. 28.

# Ib. xiv. 131.

Hence the ensuing canto is devoted to a continued lamentation over the degeneracy of his country, and a beautiful description of the peaceful and contented times of old.* Cacciaguida then predicts to Dante his exile, and the calamities he is about to suffer from the ingratitude of his countrymen :

“ 'Tis thine to part from all thou lovest best

From all most cherish'd:-Exile's bow shall send

This self-same arrow first, to pierce thy breast.
'Tis thine to prove what bitter savour bears

The bread of others ;-and how hard to wend
Upward and downward by another's stairs.”+

Before Dante quits the sphere of Mars, he is admitted to see the souls of many distinguished Crusaders. A change then comes over his feelings; and conscious of an accession of spiritual joy, he finds himself translated to the planet Jupiter. Here are beheld numerous stars, containing the spirits of those who have been distinguished upon earth by their administration of Justice. These presently arrange themselves in form of an Eagle, emblematical of universal government. This allusion to the standard of the Empire, which the Pope was endeavouring to subvert, leads the poet to an invective against the court of Rome. Proceeding from the consideration of earthly to that of heavenly justice, he vindicates the counsels of

* Canto xv. 97.

+ Ib. xvii. 55.

# Ib. xviii. 69.

God; and passes a severe censure on those who dare to arraign His decrees, and would limit the benefit of our Saviour's death to mankind under the present dispensation.*

Beholding Beatrice increased in beauty, Dante becomes aware of his elevation to the planet Saturn. Here are seen contemplative spirits, ascending a ladder, whose summit reaches to heaven. By a smile from Beatrice he is encouraged to ascend; and is conducted to the constellation of Gemini; t whence, looking back through the spheres, he surveys our insignificant globe, and confesses how utterly unworthy it is to engross the attention of immortal beings. I

Summoned before St. Peter, St. James, and St. John, Dante undergoes an examination upon the three cardinal virtues, which these three Apostles are respectively supposed to represent. The confession of his faith having been in the first place made to St. Peter, that Apostle expresses his delight by embracing him three times, and pronouncing upon him a divine benediction. || And it is here worthy of remark, how, amid these high and heavenly scenes, the striking of a single chord in the patriotic breast of the poet brings him back for a time to the things of earth.—That Faith, which obtained such approbation from the angelic host, he had first acknowledged at his baptism in the Church of St. John at Florence. The thought of his native country, from which he had been so cruelly banished, is immediately associated with the hope of his return. He suddenly interrupts the course of his narration ; and anticipating the meed of his exertions in the cause of his religion, breaks forth into that ardent remonstrance,

* Canto xx. 94. + Ib, xxii. 101.

g Ib. xxiv., XXV., xxvi.

Ib. xxii. 135. || Ib. xxiv. 153.

“ Should it befall that e'er the sacred lay,

To which have lent their aid both heaven and earth,

While year by year my body pined away,
O’ercome the cruelty that is my bar

From the fair fold where I, a lamb, had birth,

Foe to the ravening wolves its peace who mar,
With other voice, with other fleece shall I

Poet return; and at that shrine be crown'd
Which my baptismal fountain did supply."*

In his examination by St. Peter, he tells us that he derived his first encouragement to place his hope in God from the Psalms of David; and this confession draws forth the sympathies of the heavenly host. St. John is described as uniting himself to his fellow Apostles, like a modest virgin, who joyfully rises from her seat, and enters the nuptial dance with singleness of heart, intent only on doing honour to the bridal pair.t This beloved Disciple (who rested on the breast of our Saviour, strikingly denominated " our Pelican") attracts the atten

* Canto xxv. 1.

+ Ib. xxv. 103.

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