Page images


time of Campanella's City of the Sun, More's Utopia, Bacon's New Altantis, Harrington's Oceana, Kant's Eternal Peace, and Bellamy's Looking Backward, brave idealists have sketched a better social organization. There was nothing dreamy or romantic in Dante's work; it was one of the most serious and practical political tracts, in its purpose, ever written. The work is divided into three parts - the first intended to show that mankind must be politically united in order to realize its true destiny; the second, to demonstrate that it belongs to Italy to effect that union; the third, to assert the separation and independence of the State from the Church. The poet in our time dreams of "the parliament of man, the federation of the world." Dante could think of the world's political unity only under the form of one great empire. But it is important to fix the mind on what is essential in Dante's scheme, not on what was local and accidental. German scholars have observed that it is in our own federal republic that Dante's conception finds its truest realization. The Italian Botta says: "It anticipates in some measure the plan adopted by Washington and his compeers in the Constitution of the United States, differing, however, in this, that while the American Republic extends to states geographically and ethnographically integrant parts of the same country, the Italian empire, as proposed by Dante, would have embraced all the world, and have placed Italy, in relation to other nations, as the sun to the planets, whose influence unites them in their harmonious movements, while it gives them free scope in their appointed orbits. . . . In advocating the union of mankind under the leadership of Italy, Dante did not intend to place other nations under her military despotism. The revival of the empire he contemplated was not that of the Asiatic monarchies, neither was it that of Charlemagne or Charles V. His plan, grand in its conception, resting on the basis of liberty, both national and individual, was derived, on the one hand, from ancient Rome, where the emperor was but a citizen charged with the high office of tribune, and with the defence of popular rights against the patricians; on the other, from the idea of modern governments founded on the political union of municipalities belonging to the same nation. Hence the idea of Dante did not necessarily involve monarchical institutions, as is commonly believed, but simply the concentration of social power into an individual or collective authority, which should exercise the common sovereignty for the good of the people. Admitting all forms of government, as circumstances might require, the plan of Dante was adapted to all nations, their different characters, traditions, and wants. It was essentially liberal and democratic."

The date which the young people are asked to remember in connection with the life and times of Dante is 1289, the year of the battle of Campaldino, in which Dante fought. This battle effected the overthrow of the

Ghibellines in Italy; the date is therefore serviceable for fixing in mind the period of the long conflict between the papal and imperial factions known as the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, which began just a century and a half before. Dante was now entering upon active life; he was twenty-four years old, having been born in 1265. Dante returned from this battle, we read, "to his studies and his love." The year after the battle was the year of the death of Beatrice, whom Dante had first met sixteen years before, when both were in their ninth year. Dante's Vita Nuova is the story of his love for Beatrice. His Convito is a philosophic treatise. Dante was a profound student of philosophy, influenced chiefly by Aristotle (whom he always means when, as in the passages in the present Leaflet, he speaks of "the Philosopher" or "the Master") and Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas, the greatest of the schoolmen, died the year that Dante first met Beatrice; Albertus Magnus died six years later; Duns Scotus was probably born in the same year with Dante; and William of Occam, the last great schoolman, five years afterwards. With Dante's life it is thus easy to connect the whole later history of scholasticism, as it was easy to connect its earlier history with the life of Lanfranc. William of Occam was born the same year (1270) that St. Louis, the leader of the last Crusade, died before Tunis; the epoch of the Crusades was thus ending just as Dante's life began. It will be remembered that Prince Edward of England accompanied King Louis on the last Crusade. He returned to England in 1272, and succeeded his father the same yearas Edward I. The time of Edward I, as all the young people who have studied English history know, was the time of Wallace, Baliol and Bruce. It was by Edward that Wallace was put to death; but it was Edward's sccessor, Edward II, whom Bruce defeated at Bannockburn, in 1314. The famous battle of Morgarten, in Switzerland, the victory of the Swiss confederation over the Austrians, came the next year, 1315; the beginning of the Swiss confederation and the exploits of William Tell, if there were a William Tell, belong to the years just before this, the years when Dante in Italy was writing his De Monarchia. Rudolph of Hapsburg became emperor, “king of the Romans," when Dante was a boy. The very year of Dante's birth, 1265, was the year when the first real Parliament met in England, summoned by Simon de Montfort, who had won the victory of Lewes the previous year. It was in the year of Dante's birth that we know that the composition of gunpowder was known to Roger Bacon; it was invented a few years before Dante's birth, and the first cannon appeared a few years after his death. 1250 is the year to which the invention of gunpowder is usually assigned. The Sorbonne at Paris was founded the same year, and University College at Oxford, the oldest of the Oxford colleges, the year before, these two famous schools having thus just come into being as Dante was born. Marco Polo, the famous traveller, whose book about the East should by and by stimulate the Portuguese navigators to their voyages round

[ocr errors]

the Cape of Good Hope and also rouse the passion for discovery in the breast of Columbus, was a contemporary of Dante and an Italian like himself; he was born at Venice a few years before Dante was born and died two years after Dante died, and he was writing the account of his travels, immured in a dungeon at Genoa, while Dante was in the midst of the stormy politics of Florence. The early years of Dante's life were the last years of the life of the celebrated Persian poet, Saadi; Saadi was once taken prisoner by the Crusaders near Jerusalem. Giotto, the great Italian painter, was the personal friend of Dante, and, as many of the young people know, painted his portrait, which has been preserved for us in a fresco, long hidden, on the wall of the palace of the Podesta at Florence. Cimabue, Giotto's master and the first celebrated name in the history of Italian painting, was also Dante's contemporary, painting his famous pictures for the churches of Florence while Dante was a young man in the city. This gives us a date for our studies of early Italian art. In our studies of Italian literature we can similarly remember that Petrarch and Boccaccio, who wrote a life of Dante, were both born before Dante died, the former approaching manhood, the latter being but a child, in the year of Dante's death, 1321. Wyclif, who will be the central figure in our study of the 14th century, was born three years after the death of Dante.

Since the above notes were written to accompany this leaflet as first prepared in connection with the Old South lectures for young people on "The Story of the Centuries," in 1888, much important Dante literature has been published in England and America. Moore's "Studies in Dante" and other volumes are of high critical value. A J. Butler's translations and essays should be noticed; and Butler has also translated from the German Scartazzini's "A Companion to Dante. A new translation of the "Convito " has been made by Hillard. Professor Norton has published a translation of the whole of the "Divine Comedy" in prose. H. Oelsner's "The Influence of Dante on Modern Thought" is a most suggestive study. Ar admirable Dante bibliography has been prepared by William C. Lane, librarian of the Harvard University Library.




THE DIRECTORS OF THE OLD SOUTH WORK, Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Old South Leaflets.

No. 124.

Life in Utopia.


HUSBANDRY is a science common to them all in general, both men and women, wherein they be all expert and cunning. In this they be all instruct even from their youth: partly in their schools with traditions and precepts, and partly in the country nigh the city, brought up as it were in playing, not only beholding the use of it, but by occasion of exercising their bodies practising it also. Besides husbandry, which (as I said) is common to them all, every one of them learneth one or other several and particular science, as his own proper craft. That is most commonly either clothworking in wool or flax, or masonry, or the smith's craft, or the carpenter's science. For there is none other occupation that any number to speak of doth use there. For their garments, which throughout all the island be of one fashion (saving that there is a difference between the man's garment and the woman's, between the married and the unmarried) and this one continueth for evermore unchanged, seemly and comely to the eye, no let to the moving and wielding of the body, also fit both for winter and summer: as for these garments (I say) every family maketh their own. But of the other foresaid crafts every man learneth one. And not only the men, but also the women. But the women, as the weaker sort, be put to the easier crafts: as to work wool and flax. The more laboursome sciences be committed to the men. For the most part every man is brought up in his father's craft. For most commonly they be naturally thereto bent and inclined. But if a man's mind stand to any other, he is by adoption put into a family of that occupation which he doth most fantasy. Whom not only his father, but also the magistrates do diligently look to, that he be put to a discreet and an honest householder. Yea, and. if any person, when he hath learned one craft, be desirous to learn also another, he is likewise suffered and permitted.

When he hath learned both, he occupieth whether he will: unless the city have more need of the one, than of the other. The chief and almost the only office of the syphogrants is, to see and take heed that no man sit idle: but that every one apply his own craft with earnest diligence. And yet for all that, not to be wearied from early in the morning, to late in the evening, with continual work, like labouring and toiling beasts.

For this is worse than the miserable and wretched condition of bondmen. Which nevertheless is almost everywhere the life of workmen and artificers, saving in Utopia. For they dividing the day and the night into twenty-four just hours, appoint and assign only six of these hours to work before noon, upon the which they go straight to dinner: and after dinner, when they have rested two hours, then they work three hours and upon that they go to supper. About eight of the clock in the evening (counting one of the clock at the first hour after noon) they go to bed: eight hours they give to sleep. All the void time, that is between the hours of work, sleep, and meat, that they be suffered to bestow, every man as he liketh best himself. Not to the intent that they should misspend this time in riot or slothfulness: but being then licensed from the labour of their own occupations, to bestow the time well and thriftly upon some other science, as shall please them. For it is a solemn custom there, to have lectures daily early in the morning, where to be present they only be constrained that be namely chosen and appointed to learning. Howbeit a great multitude of every sort of people, both men and women, go to hear lectures, some one and some another, as every man's nature is inclined. Yet, this notwithstanding, if any man had rather bestow this time upon his own occupation (as it chanceth in many, whose minds rise not in the contemplation of any science liberal) he is not let, nor prohibited, but is also praised and commended, as profitable to the commonwealth. After supper they bestow one hour in play: in summer in their gardens: in winter in their common halls: where they dine and sup. There they exercise themselves in music, or else in honest and wholesome communication. Diceplay, and such other foolish and pernicious games they know not. But they use two games not much unlike the chess. The one is the battle of numbers, wherein one number stealeth away another. The other is wherein vices fight with virtues, as it were in battle array, or a set field. In the which game is very properly showed, both the strife and discord that vices have among themselves, and again their unity and concord against virtues. And also what vices be repugnant to

« PreviousContinue »