Società Dantesca Italiana
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The Letters of Dante - tr. Toynbee - Epistola I

To the most reverend Father in Christ, their most beloved Lord, the Lord Nicholas, by divine grace Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, Legate of the Apostolic See, and by Holy Church ordained Pacificator in Tuscany, Romagna, the March of Treviso, and the regions circumadjacent, his most devoted sons, Alexander the Captain, the Council, and the whole body of the White Party of Florence, commend themselves in all devotion and zeal.

1In submission to salutary admonishment, and in response to the Apostolic Holiness, after precious consultation, we make reply to the tenour of the sacred utterance which you have addressed to us. And should we be held guilty of negligence or of slothfulness by occasion of any prejudice due to our tardiness, may your holy discretion lean to the hither side of condemnation, regard being had to the number and nature of the consultations and communications necessary for the proper conduct of the affairs of our brotherhood, and for the observance of good faith with the league. But if, after consideration of the facts here submitted to you, we perchance be blamed as having been wanting in due diligence, we pray that the superabundant bounty of your Benignity may incline you to indulgence.
2As not ungrateful sons, therefore, we examined the letter of your gracious Paternity, which, in that it gives expression to the prelude of the whole matter of our desires, forthwith filled our minds with joy so exceeding great that by none could it be measured either in word or in thought.
3For the healing of our country, for which we have yearned, longing for it as it were even in our dreams, in the course of your letter, under the guise of fatherly admonition, is more than once promised us.
4And for what else did we plunge into civil war? What else did our white standards seek? And for what else were our swords and our spears dyed with crimson? Save that they, who at their own mad will and pleasure have maimed the body of civil right, should submit their necks to the yoke of beneficent law, and should be brought by force to the observance of their country's peace!
5In sooth, the lawful shaft of our purpose, leaping from the bowstring we held stretched, sought solely the peace and liberty of the people of Florence – sought, and ever will seek.
6But if your vigilance is intent on a consummation so dear to us, and you are resolved, as the end of your holy endeavours, that our foes shall return to the furrows of good citizenship, who shall attempt to render adequate thanks to you? Not in our power is it, O Father, nor in that of any of the Florentine race throughout the world. But if there exists any goodness in heaven which looks upon such deeds as worthy of recompense, may it grant meet reward to you, who have clothed yourself with compassion for so great a city, and are hastening to compose the unholy strife of her citizens!
7Whereas, then, by brother L., a man of holy religion, and an advocate of good citizenship and of peace, we are urgently on your behalf admonished and required (which was likewise the import of your letter) to cease from all assault and act of war, and to commit ourselves wholly to your fatherly hands, we as sons most devoted to yourself, and as lovers of peace and justice, putting off our swords, of our own free will and without reservation submit ourselves to your judgement, as by the report of your messenger, the aforesaid brother L., shall be made known to you, and by public instruments in due form shall be declared abroad.
8With filial voice, therefore, we most affectionately implore that your most merciful Holiness may bedew with the calm of tranquillity and peace this Florence so long tempest‑tossed; and that as a loving father you may keep under your protection ourselves, who have ever been the defenders of her people, and all who are under our authority; for as we have never been remiss in our love for our country, so we look never to stray beyond the bounds of your behests, but always in duty and devotion to be obedient to your commands, whatsoever they be.