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The other is, Have the law officers of the crown properly understood the Foreign Enlistment Act, when they declined, in June, 1862, to advise the detention and seizure of the Alabama, and on other occasions, when they were asked to detain other ships building or fitting in British ports? It appears to her Majesty's government that neither of these questions could be put to a foreign government with any regard to the dignity and character of the British crown and the British nation.
“ Her Majesty's government are the sole guardians of their own honor. They cannot admit that they have acted with bad faith in maintaining the neutrality they professed. The law officers of the crown must be held to be better interpreters of a British statute than any foreign government can be presumed to be.”
For these reasons the offer to arbitrate was declined.
President Johnson, in his first Message to the present Congress, says that the United States did not present these claims as an impeachment of the good faith of England, but as involving questions of public law, of which the settlement is essential to the peace of nations; and declares his opinion that the grounds on which Lord Russell refuses arbitration cannot be sustained before the tribunal of nations.
What is a nation's honor, that it should fear injury from the award of an impartial arbiter? Truth, justice, and honesty to other nations and to its own citizens, are its elements. Accuse a nation of actions which imply lying, oppression, or deceit, and you bring charges against its honor. A nation's honor is the honor of its citizens, not in their private acts, nor yet exclusively in their public acts, but in all acts, whether public or private, which concern other nations. A United States gunboat takes a Confederate agent from an English mail steamer, and England's honor demands that he be restored; an English private citizen takes our prisoners from the water, and carries them to England's shore, and our honor is concerned. The moment that one nation claims and the other refuses compensation, the honor of each is at stake. If the claim is just, the refusal is unjust, and vice versa.
Are the acts of citizens so free from all reproach that a nation must, if called upon, defend them, and refuse to arbitrate the question in dispute, because it involves a question of the honor of a citizen, and thus of the nation that defends him? Blackstone tells us, that it was within the jurisdiction of the court of chivalry to settle points of honor between gentlemen. Nations need no such court, for arbitration affords the method of settling such questions.
An award decides that a nation was endeavoring to hold land that did not belong to it; another, that a nation must make compensation for the acts of its citizens which it once defended; another, that the claims for a long time demanded, even with threats of war, had no foundation. When the arbiter makes known his award, the losing party performs the award, or withdraws his claim, because his honor compels him to stand by the terms of the submission. In maintaining this last point of honor, he does all that honor requires.
When, in 1817, we were endeavoring to persuade Spain to submit claims very like those now made against England, the great ground on which we urged that they might be referred to an arbiter was, that in this way the point of honor involved could be saved.
The folly of refusing to submit a question to arbitration, simply because a question of honor is involved, will appear from comparing the position of France in 1859 with that of England now. Then France would not submit its claims to an arbiter, because the officers of Portugal had done wrong; now, England, the injuring nation, will not allow our demands to be presented before a friendly sovereign because her officers have done right. If England's honor is now concerned, the honor of France was in 1859; if the honor of Portugal was involved in 1859, that of the United States is now.
That the people of the United States believe in the justice of their claims upon England is certain ; and they also believe that it is for the nation's honor to submit them to arbitration.
The press of England has already shown a more reasonable spirit in regard to this question, which must in time act upon the government. Earl Clarendon would do well to remember and apply the words of a former Secretary, Lord Aberdeen, who, writing of the Portendic claims, said: “The amicable relations of both countries, which are now endangered, would be maintained by such a settlement of the question in dispute between them, whatever might be the decision of the arbiter; and kindly feelings would take the place of that estrangement which, most unfortunately for the interest of both, the present discussion is but too well calculated to produce.”
ART. VIII. – 1. The Divine Comedy of DANTE ALIGHIERI.
Translated in Terza Rima. By John DAYMAN, M. A., Rector of Skelton, Cumberland, and formerly Fellow of C.C.C.,
Oxford. London: Longmans. 1865. 8vo. pp. xxviii., 771. 2. The Inferno of DANTE, translated in the Metre of the Origi
nal. By JAMES FORD, A. M., Prebendary of Exeter. London : Smith, Elder, & Co. 1865. 8vo.
Half sheet. pp. xviii., 180 double, 181 - 187. 3. The Comedy of DANTE ALIGHIERI. Part I. The Hell.
Translated into Blank Verse by WILLIAM MICHAEL RosSETTI, with Introductions and Notes. London and Cambridge: Macmillan & Co. 1865.
8vo. Half sheet. pp. xxxiv., 248. 4. Seventeen Cantos of the Inferno of DANTE ALIGHIERI.
[Translated by Thomas WILLIAM PARSONS, M. D.] Boston: Printed by John Wilson and Son. 1865. Sm. 4to. pp. xi., 104.
The interest in the life of the Middle Ages which has been so widely felt during the last fifty years, the zeal with which the study of mediæval art and literature has been pursued, and the better knowledge of them which has been acquired during this period, have naturally turned the attention of men more than ever before to the works of Dante. For in them the mediæval spirit found its highest and completest expression. From his works better than from any others — better, indeed, than from all others — may be learned the prevailing characteristics, the mental and spiritual conditions, which made the period which his life closed one of the most important epochs in the progress of civilization. At a time in which faith in some kind of invisible realities - in something beyond this world and other than this world, in something to complete and account for this life -- was powerful as at no other time, not only on thought but as a motive of action and a guide to conduct, his faith was deeper, more imaginative, and more controlling than that of other men. When inquiry had begun to investigate the causes and
sequences of things with fresh and ardent activity, he pushed out farther into the unknown world, and caught stronger hold of truth than any other questioner, his predecessor or contemporary. He was the profoundest and most imaginative of mystics. Among students he was the student of most varied learning. Among poets he was the poet so supreme that no rival approached him. After a period during which the fancy of the world was exalted and its imagination productive as at no other modern epoch, he came to surpass all other men in fancy, and to set bounds beyond which imagination has never gone. When the sensibilities of men were touched by hitherto unfelt or unrecognized emotions, and there was a new birth of true and tender sentiment in their hearts, Dante put this sentiment into forms which set the perfect model for the expression of the most refined and the most intense feeling. The passions of men in that day swayed them with a force strange to our selfconscious and indifferent generation, and Dante, with passion deeper and more exalted than that of others, yet controlled it by the supreme power of will.
In his varied experience he comprehended all the forms of contemporary life: he was soldier, scholar, citizen, ruler, ambassador, exile, dependant. He knew riches and festivities; he knew also poverty and the salt bread of other men's tables. He knew what it was to be courted; he knew also what it was to be scorned. Through his large and sensitive nature he sympathized with the moods of the men he lived with, and was susceptible to every breath of emotion which swayed them. He was, by turns, in his inner life, all that other men were. But as all other poets in some degree, so Dante in full measure, not merely reflected the qualities of his own time, but through his works brought those qualities into relations with universal humanity. Every poet in proportion to his genius has a relation not only to his own age and race, but to all the world. He gives to the transient permanence, to the narrow and special breadth and generality; he turns the particular into the universal. He sees, and he opens to the sight of others, the truth and essence of things. Dante and Shakespeare, perhaps we should add Homer and Goethe also, are the only poets who have thus won for themselves universal citizenship, — who belong to all the nations of the world alike.
The Divine Comedy is the most intensely individual poem ever written; but it is in great part through this individualism, through its truth to an individual nature and experience, that it asserts and proves its claim to the interest of all men. It is in this the very opposite to the dramas of Shakespeare. Shakespeare, as a man, as himself, is nothing in his plays. Dante is the central figure, the very soul, of his Divine Comedy.
The form and construction of the Divine Comedy perfectly correspond with the spirit of the poem. They are its natural expression. In all works of art, form is the link between the spiritual and the material elements of its composition. The perfection of form is the perfection of art. The more perfect the form, the more enduring is the work. No poem surpasses the Divine Comedy in this respect; none exhibits the artistic sense in fuller measure. In its general proportions, in the balance and harmony of its parts, in the subordination of its detail to the main effect, in freedom of expression within the limits of construction, the Divine Comedy stands supreme. But in these qualities it shows not only the genius of its author, but the influence of a spirit thạt was prevailing in the development of other arts in Italy at this period.
It is not a mere analogy, there is a real parallel, between the construction of the Divine Comedy and that of a building in the contemporary style of Florentine architecture ; between the expression given to the artistic sense in building, in painting, and in sculpture, and the expression here given to it in verse. Nor is it a mere coincidence that the noblest Gothic design ever accomplished in Italy, the building which stands among the few most beautiful in the world, “ the model and mirror of perfect architecture,” — the Campanile of Giotto at Florence,
was built, not merely in Dante's day, but by his friend, and represents a similar power, a like sense, to that which is shown in the stately and beautiful form of the work of the