Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/538

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494
[CANTO IV.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

redentore. Nè posso esprimere con quale amore ei fusse ricevuto in tutte quelle provincie, che hanno patito per queste illuvioni esterne, con qual sete di vendetta, con che ostinata fede, con que pietà, con che lacrime. Quali porte se gli serrerebbero? Quali popoli gli negherebbero l'ubbidienza? Quale Italiano gli negherebbe l'ossequio? AD OGNUNO PUZZA QUESTO BARBARO DOMINIO."[1]


18.

Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar.

Stanza lvii. line 1.

Dante was born in Florence, in the year 1261. He fought in two battles, was fourteen times ambassador, and once prior of the republic. When the party of Charles of Anjou triumphed over the Bianchi, he was absent on an embassy to Pope Boniface VIII., and was condemned to two years' banishment, and to a fine of 8000 lire; on the non-payment of which he was further punished by the sequestration of all his property. The republic, however, was not content with this satisfaction, for in 1772 was discovered in the archives at Florence a sentence in which Dante is the eleventh of a list of fifteen condemned in 1302 to be burnt alive; Talis perveniens igne coinburatur sic quod moriatur. The pretext for this judgment was a proof of unfair barter, extortions, and illicit gains. Baracteriarum iniquarum extorsionum et illicitorum lucrorum,[2] and with such an accusation it is not strange that Dante should have always protested his innocence, and the injustice of his fellow-citizens. His appeal to Florence was accompanied by another to the Emperor Henry; and the death of that Sovereign in 1313 was the signal for a sentence of irrevocable banishment. He had before lingered near Tuscany with hopes of recall; then travelled into the north of Italy, where Verona had to boast of his longest residence; and he finally settled at Ravenna, which was his ordinary but not constant abode until his death. The refusal of the Venetians to grant him a public audience, on the part of Guido Novello da Polenta, his protector, is said to have been the principal cause of this event,

  1. Il Principe di Niccolò Machiavelli, Paris, 1825, pp. 184, 185.
  2. Storia della Lett. Ital., edit, Venice, 1795, tom. v. lib. iii, par. 2, p. 448, note. Tiraboschi is incorrect; the dates of the three decrees against Dante are A.D. 1302, 1314, and 1316.