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needed. But what a blessing a clear sleep of several hours ! to have thoughts of self, even to feel the vilest wants rising into competition with the grandest duties, how humbling a consciousness !--Alas, how often to be realised !
So passed the days and weeks of this distressing season. At the close of each week, when the Registrar's Report was heard, inaccurate as it was, hope would be experienced that at any rate the worst must now be over,-thirty, forty, fifty, had died in the week in the parish. It could not be worse. Next week, at least, must see a change for the better; and as the disease increased, while towns and localities, in which its commencement had succeeded that in their own, were already gradually emerging from the storm, hope got smaller, and that in proportion to the decay of the physical strength in the Clergy. Evening by evening somewhere about five, and from that till after dark, might be seen the single-horse hearse carrying off the bodies of the dead. Always along the same road from which numerous small streets branched off, these mournful conveyances found a daily occupation. Above a low wall nodded the black feathers-slowly passing on and on. It was like a per
. petual stream. It is the custom of some religious bodies external to the Church, for relatives and others to accompany the corpse of the better circumstanced on foot, singing wild, and not unmelodious hymns and dirges. These added to the general gloom brooding round the place. Something there is peculiarly chilling in the wildness of these wailing sounds. It was like the hopeless cries of a Mussulman funeral rather than the sobriety due to a Christian man's last sleeping place. Men, women, and children were thus taken from sight. The old, on the whole, fared better than the young. Those in the prime of life both suffered most and died in the greatest numbers. One of the Clergy caught it, but was instantly attended to. It did not get beyond the premonitory stage. Another, a guest, was attacked in the midst of celebrating the Eucharist in church, but recovered soon; and one young man who lived in the house, who also recovered after 150 drops of laudanum. All parties were subject to occasional qualms.
At length, by the end of September, the disease began to abate; a fast-day was appointed by the Bishop of the diocesc, and to the services of the day crawled many a wasted form that had last entered the church very differently. Again the cholera broke out, and for some time raged violently-and at last again subsided.
It will perhaps be thought that those who witness such visitations as these gain nothing but what is pure and elevating from their familiarity with woe; yet then only, perchance, is it
that the inner vilenesses of self-love are brought to light. The reader pictures to himself glowing embodiments of pure and high devotion in those whose vocation brings them in contact with so much sorrow. It would seem as though the contemplation of 'wan faces, lamentations, and loud moans,' can but chasten and refine; yet, a sudden demand for a high course of action, for which we are not prepared, - like the sudden demand for interest from the king's servants, which is not forthcoming —what a tale of recklessness, negligence, estrangement of heart, does it reveal!—the confounded soul is enlightened, without expecting it, to its poverty, its lameness, its blindness, its nakedness. Inconceivable are the smallnesses of character, sickening the intricacies of self-love which will rise on those dread occasions to the surface under which they have long lain unknown and unsuspected. How often must he who has to play the judge's part feel the smiting consciousness that Justice demands a change of place between himself and his suffering penitent! We console at times the doubting spirit with the thought, that when occasion comes, the Divine mercy will raise and enlarge the heart by a special gift of fitness. As thy day is, so shall thy strength be,-holy and blessed truth in itself, but how false as applied by the effortless religion of feelings and sympathies, fair words, and decencies of the day! No; that religion which has walked humbly in action and denial of self, will prove itself to be a something genuine in that day. Whatever is true, whatever false, in these perilous days of enlightenment, when knowledge grows apace, must come out; though the confines between true and false once broad and distinct would seem now shrouded round in mist impenetrable. However disputed questions of true or not true may be to be decided-real work, self-preparation and discipline, exercise in humbleness and charity-these are a certain foundation; they are the preparatives for seeing, as in a bright mirror, all that now may perplex those that love justice and are seeking rest for themselves.
One word in conclusion. It is under calamities and visitations that mutual animosities are softened, difficulties cleared, controversies forgotten. The love of opponent sides to a common centre is an approach to the love of each other; if that centre be sufficient for both, if it be boundless and eternal in itself, sooner or later in loving it, will all other aims and affections be merged, and cease to be. As in eternal predestination the only force to which the will of men bows is the drawing of love, so will that resistless power prove itself stronger than those influences which now divide communions, however deep and long-lived the causes from which those divisions rose and grew. In this country we stand outwardly
opposed to a great and powerful communion, which advances a claim we cannot admit. As the sides have withdrawn in sunder, so have the things that darken the evidences of former identity multiplied between us. Yet are they like the two that had been friends in youth,' and 'stood aloof, the scars remaining like cliffs that have been rent asunder,' &c. A dreary sea indeed flows between, but in times like those of war or pestilence these parted masses of the Rock recognise unwittingly the traces of unity, broken as they may seem to the eyes of outward observers. The Roman and the English priest find their work in the hospital, and can work under their own Master without interference or jealousy. And common fairness towards the Roman priesthood demands no less than a testimony to its fidelity on such occasions as the one we treat of. However unacceptable her claims in controversy, rarely does the Roman Church fail in act under the emergencies of pestilence or infection. Whether it be the shores of Cochin-China, or the barricades of Paris, or the hospitals of our crowded towns of Liverpool or Leeds, one phase of her character is shown to the full-self-devoted charity. In the last-named place three Roman priests in the summer of 1817 met their deaths in rapid succession from the putrid fever raging amongst the Irish population. One by one, in the crowded ward, or the solitary cell, knelt at the bed-head to receive without murmur the double legacy, the burden of the conscience, and with it deadly infection. When last the cholera visited Rome the Jesuit fathers walked up and down the worstinfected streets, to answer instantly any appeal that might be made. An episcopal city during the present year, in the southwest of England, suffered very severely :-the Bishop took the charge of the cholera-hospital on himself. For once at least, every rank, and all sides and differences find a temporary level. Here at least they may journey side by side, and find a road open to that City of Peace which, wherever we shall at last find it, will be reached by the way of humility and self-renouncement.
ART. VI.-Dante's Divine Comedy, the Inferno ; a literal Prose
Translation, with the Text of the Original. By J. A. CARLYLE, M.D. London: 1819.
The 'Divina Commedia' is one of the landmarks of history. More than a magnificent poem, more than the beginning of a language and the opening of a national literature, more than the inspirer of art, and the glory of a great people, it is one of those rare and solemn monuments of the mind's power, which measure and test what it can reach to, which rise up ineffaceably and for ever as time goes on, marking out its advance by grander divisions than its centuries, and adopted as epochs by the consent of all who come after. It stands with the Iliad and Shakspere's Plays, with the writings of Aristotle and Plato, with the Novum Organon and the Principia, with Justinian's Code, with the Parthenon, and S. Peter's. It is the first Christian poem; and it opens European literature, as the Iliad did that of Greece and Rome. And, like the Iliad, it has never become out of date; it accompanies in undiminished freshness, the literature which it began.
We approach the history of such works, in which genius seems to have pushed its achievements to a new limit, with a kind of awe. The beginning of all things, their bursting out from nothing, and gradual evolution into substance and shape, cast on the mind a solemn influence. They come too near the fount of being to be followed up without our feeling sensible of the shadows which surround it. We cannot but fear, cannot but feel ourselves cut off from this visible and familiar world-as we enter into the cloud. And as with the processes
nature, so is it with those offsprings of man's mind, by which he has added permanently one more great feature to the world, and created a new power which is to act on mankind to the end. The mystery of the inventive and creative faculty, the subtle and incalculable combinations by which it was led to its work, and carried through it, are out of the reach of investigating thought. Often the idea recurs of the precariousness of the result :-by how little the world might have lost one of its ornaments—by one sharp pang, or one chance meeting, or any other among the countless accidents among which man runs his course. And then the solemn recollection supervenes, that powers were formed, and life preserved, and circumstances arranged, and actions controlled, that thus it should be: and the work which man has brooded over, and at last
created, is the foster-child too of that. Wisdom which reaches from end to end, strongly and sweetly disposing all things.'
It does not abate these feelings, that we can follow in some cases and to a certain extent, the progress of a work. Indeed, the sight of the particular accidents among which it was developedwhich belong, perhaps, to a heterogeneous and widely discordant order of things, which are out of proportion, and out of harmony with it, which do not explain it, which have, as it seems to us, no natural right to be connected with it, to bear on its character, or contribute to its accomplishment,-to which we feel, as it were, ashamed to owe what we can least spare—yet on which its forming mind and purpose were dependent, and with which they had to conspire-affects the imagination even more than cases where we see nothing. We are tempted less to musing and wonder by the Iliad, a work without a history, cut off from its past, the sole relic and vestige of its age, unexplained in its origin and perfection, than by the Divina Commedia,' destined for the highest ends, and most universal sympathy, yet the reflection of a personal history, and issuing seemingly from its chance incidents.
The ‘Divina Commedia' is singular among the great works with which it ranks, for its strong stamp of personal character and history. We associate in general little more than the name,not the life,-of a great poet with his works; personal interest belongs more usually to greatness in its active than in its creative forms. But the whole idea and purpose of the Commedia, as well as its filling up and colouring, is determined by Dante's peculiar history. The loftiest, perhaps, in its aim and flight of all poems, it is also the most individual; the writer's own life is chronicled in it, as well as the issues and upshot of all things—it is at once the mirror to all time of the sins and perfections of men, of the judgments and grace of God, and the record, often the only one, of the transient names, and local factions, and obscure ambitions, and forgotten crimes of the poet's own day; and in that awful company to which he leads us, in the most unearthly of his scenes, we never lose sight of himself. And when this peculiarity sends us to history, it seems as if the poem which was to hold such a place in Christian literature, hung upon and grew out of chance events, rather than the deliberate design of its author. History indeed here, as generally, is but a feeble exponent of the course of growth in a great mind and great ideas :-it shows us early a bent and purpose, -the man conscious of power and intending to use it,—and then the accidents among which he worked: but how that current of purpose threaded its way among them, how it was thrown back, deflected, deepened, by them, we cannot learn from history. It presents but a broken and mysterious picture. A boy of quick and enthusiastic temper grows up into youth in a dream