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Title: Stories from the Italian Poets: with Lives of the Writers, Volume 2
Author: Hunt, Leigh, 1784-1859
Language: English
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  VOL. II.









  Part the Second




    I. Angelica and her Suitors
    II. Angelica and Medoro
    III. The Jealousy of Orlando










    Part I. Armida in the Christian Camp
           II. Armida's Hate and Love
           III. The Terrors of the Enchanted Forest
           IV. The Loves of Rinaldo and Armida
           V. The Disenchantment of the Forest, and the Taking of
              Jerusalem, &c.


  I. The Death of Agrican
  II. Angelica and Medoro Translation
  III. The Jealousy of Orlando
  IV. The Death of Clorinda
  V. Tancred in the Enchanted Forest


Critical Notice of his Life and Genius.

Critical Notice


While Pulci in Florence was elevating romance out of the street-ballads,
and laying the foundation of the chivalrous epic, a poet appeared in
Lombardy (whether inspired by his example is uncertain) who was destined
to carry it to a graver though still cheerful height, and prepare the way
for the crowning glories of Ariosto. In some respects he even excelled
Ariosto: in all, with the exception of style, shewed himself a genuine
though immature master.

Little is known of his life, but that little is very pleasant. It
exhibits him in the rare light of a poet who was at once rich, romantic,
an Arcadian and a man of the world, a feudal lord and an indulgent
philosopher, a courtier equally beloved by prince and people.

Matteo Maria Boiardo, Count of Scandiano, Lord of Arceto, Casalgrande,
&c., Governor of Reggio, and Captain of the citadel of Modena (it is
pleasant to repeat such titles when so adorned), is understood to have
been born about the year 1434, at Scandiano, a castle at the foot of the
Apennines, not far from Reggio, and famous for its vines.

He was of an ancient family, once lords of Rubiera, and son of Giovanni,
second count of Scandiano, and Lucia, a lady of a branch of the Strozzi
family in Florence, and sister and aunt of Tito and Erole Strozzi,
celebrated Latin poets. His parents appear to have been wise people, for
they gave him an education that fitted him equally for public and private
life. He was even taught, or acquired, more Greek than was common to the
men of letters of that age. His whole life seems, accordingly, to have
been divided, with equal success, between his duties as a servant of the
dukes of Modena, both military and civil, and the prosecution of his
beloved art of poetry,--a combination of pursuits which have been idly
supposed incompatible. Milton's poetry did not hinder him from being
secretary to Cromwell, and an active partisan. Even the sequestered
Spenser was a statesman; and poets and writers of fiction abound in
the political histories of all the great nations of Europe. When a
man possesses a thorough insight into any one intellectual department
(except, perhaps, in certain corners of science), it only sharpens his
powers of perception for the others, if he chooses to apply them.

In the year 1469, Boiardo was one of the noblemen who went to meet the
Emperor Frederick the Third on his way to Ferrara, when Duke Borso of
Modena entertained him in that city. Two years afterwards, Borso, who had
been only Marquis of Ferrara, received its ducal title from the Pope; and
on going to Rome to be invested with his new honours, the name of our
poet is again found among the adorners of his state. A few days after his
return home this prince died; and Boiardo, favoured as he had been by
him, appears to have succeeded to a double portion of regard in the
friendship of the new duke, Ercole, who was more of his own age.

During all this period, from his youth to his prime, our author varied
his occupations with Italian and Latin poetry; some of it addressed to a
lady of the name of Antonia Caprara, and some to another, whose name is
thought to have been Rosa; but whether these ladies died, or his love was
diverted elsewhere, he took to wife, in the year 1472, Taddea Gonzaga, of
the noble house of that name, daughter of the Count of Novellara. In the
course of the same year he is supposed to have begun his great poem. A
popular court-favourite, in the prime of life, marrying and commencing
a great poem nearly at one and the same time, presents an image of
prosperity singularly delightful. By this lady Boiardo had two sons and
four daughters. The younger son, Francesco Maria, died in his childhood;
but the elder, Camillo, succeeded to his father's title, and left an heir
to it,--the last, I believe, of the name. The reception given to the
poet's bride, when he took her to Scandiano, is said to have been very

In the ensuing year the duke his master took a wife himself. She was
Eleonora, daughter of the King of Naples; and the newly-married poet was
among the noblemen who were sent to escort her to Ferrara. For several
years afterwards, his time was probably filled up with the composition
of the _Orlando Innamorato_, and the entertainments given by a splendid
court. He was appointed Governor of Reggio, probably in 1478. At the
expiration of two or three years he was made Captain of the citadel of
Modena; and in 1482 a war broke out, with the Venetians, in which he took
part, for it interrupted the progress of his poem. In 1484 he returned
to it; but ten years afterwards was again and finally interrupted by the
unprincipled descent of the French on Italy under Charles the Eighth; and
in the December following he died. The _Orlando Innamorato_ was thus left
unfinished. Eight years before his decease the author published what he
had written of it up to that time, but the first complete edition was
posthumous. The poet was writing when the French came: he breaks off with
an anxious and bitter notice of the interruption, though still unable to
deny himself a last word on the episode which he was relating, and a hope
that he should conclude it another time.

  "Mentre che io canto, o Dio redentore,
    Vedo l'Italia tutta a fiamma e foco,
  Per questi Galli, che con gran valore
    Vengon, per disertar non so che loco:
  Però vi lascio in questo vano amore
    Di Fiordespina ardente poco a poco
  Un' altra volta, se mi fia concesso,
  Racconterovvi il tutto per espresso."

  But while I sing, mine eyes, great God! behold
    A flaming fire light all the Italian sky,
  Brought by these French, who, with their myriads bold,
    Come to lay waste, I know not where or why.
  Therefore, at present, I must leave untold
    How love misled poor Fiordespina's eye.[2]
  Another time, Fate willing, I shall tell,
  From first to last, how every thing befell.

Besides the _Orlando Innamorato_, Boiardo wrote a variety of prose works,
a comedy in verse on the subject of Timon, lyrics of great elegance, with
a vein of natural feeling running through them, and Latin poetry of a
like sort, not, indeed, as classical in its style as that of Politian and
the other subsequent revivers of the ancient manner, but perhaps not
the less interesting on that account; for it is difficult to conceive
a thorough copyist in style expressing his own thorough feelings. Mr.
Panizzi, if I am not mistaken, promised the world a collection of the
miscellaneous poems of Boiardo; but we have not yet had the pleasure
of seeing them. In his life of the poet, however, he has given several
specimens, both Latin and Italian, which are extremely agreeable. The
Latin poems consist of ten eclogues and a few epigrams; but the epigrams,
this critic tells us, are neither good nor on a fitting subject, being
satirical sallies against Nicolò of Este, who had attempted to seize on
Ferrara, and been beheaded. Boiardo was not of a nature qualified to
indulge in bitterness. A man of his chivalrous disposition probably
misgave himself while he was writing these epigrams. Perhaps he suffered
them to escape his pen out of friendship for the reigning branch of the
family. But it must be confessed, that some of the best-natured men have
too often lost sight of their higher feelings during the pleasure and
pride of composition.

With respect to the comedy of _Timon_, if the whole of it is written as
well as the concluding address of the misanthrope (which Mr. Panizzi has
extracted into his pages), it must be very pleasant. Timon conceals a
treasure in a tomb, and thinks he has baffled some knaves who had a
design upon it. He therefore takes leave of his audience with the
following benedictions

          "Pur ho scacciate queste due formiche,
  Che raspavano l' oro alla mia buca,
  Or vadan pur, che Dio le malediche.

     Cotal fortuna a casa li conduca,
  Che lor fiacchi le gambe al primo passo,
  E nel secondo l'osso della nuca.

    Voi altri, che ascoltate giuso al basso,
  Chiedete, se volete alcuna cosa,
  Prima ch' io parta, perchè mo vi lasso.

    Benchè abbia l'alma irata e disdegnosa,
  Da ingiusti oltraggi combattuta e vinta,
  A voi già non l'avrò tanto ritrosa.

    In me non è pietade al tutto estinta
  Faccia di voi la prova chi gli pare,
  Sino alla corda, the mi trovo cinta;

  Gli presterò, volendosi impiccare."

     So! I've got rid of these two creeping things,
  That fain would have scratched up my buried gold.
  They're gone; and may the curse of God go with them!
  May they reach home dust in good time enough
  To break their legs at the first step in doors,
  And necks i' the second!--And now then, as to you,
  Good audience,--groundlings,--folks who love low places,
  You too perhaps would fain get something of me,
  Ere I take leave.--Well;--angered though I be,
  Scornful and torn with rage at being ground
  Into the dust with wrong, I'm not so lost
  To all concern and charity for others
  As not to be still kind enough to part
  With something near to me-something that's wound
  About my very self. Here, sirs; mark this;--
                                 _[Untying the cord round his waist_.
  Let any that would put me to the test,
  Take it with all my heart, and hang themselves.

The comedy of _Timon_, which was chiefly taken from Lucian, and one,
if not more, of Boiardo's prose translations from other ancients, were
written at the request of Duke Ercole, who was a great lover of dramatic
versions of this kind, and built a theatre for their exhibition at an
enormous expense. These prose translations consist of Apuleius's
_Golden Ass_, Herodotus (the Duke's order), the _Golden Ass_ of Lucian,
Xenophon's _Cyropædia_ (not printed), Emilius Probus (also not printed,
and supposed to be Cornelius Nepos), and Riccobaldo's credulous _Historia
Universalis_, with additions. It seems not improbable, that he also
translated Homer and Diodorus; and Doni the bookmaker asserts, that he
wrote a work called the _Testamento dell' Anima_ (the Soul's Testament)
but Mr. Panizzi calls Doni "a barefaced impostor;" and says, that as
the work is mentioned by nobody else, we may be "certain that it never
existed," and that the title was "a forgery of the impudent priest."

Nothing else of Boiardo's writing is known to exist, but a collection
of official letters in the archives of Modena, which, according to
Tiraboschi, are of no great importance. It is difficult to suppose,
however, that they would not be worth looking at. The author of the
_Orlando Innamorato_ could hardly write, even upon the driest matters
of government, with the aridity of a common clerk. Some little lurking
well-head of character or circumstance, interesting to readers of a later
age, would probably break through the barren ground. Perhaps the letters
went counter to some of the good Jesuit's theology.

Boiardo's prose translations from the authors of antiquity are so scarce,
that Mr. Panizzi himself, a learned and miscellaneous reader, says he
never saw them. I am willing to get the only advantage in my power
over an Italian critic, by saying that I have had some of them in my
hands,--brought there by the pleasant chances of the bookstalls; but I
can give no account of them. A modern critic, quoted by this gentleman
(Gamba, _Testi di Lingua_), calls the version of Apuleius "rude and
curious;"[3] but adds, that it contains "expressions full of liveliness
and propriety." By "rude" is probably meant obsolete, and comparatively
unlearned. Correctness of interpretation and classical nicety of style
(as Mr. Panizzi observes) were the growths of a later age.

Nothing is told us by his biographers of the person of Boiardo: and it is
not safe to determine a man's _physique_ from his writings, unless
perhaps with respect to the greater or less amount of his animal spirits;
for the able-bodied may write effeminately, and the feeblest supply the
defect of corporal stamina with spiritual. Portraits, however, seem to be
extant. Mazzuchelli discovered that a medal had been struck in the
poet's honour; and in the castle of Scandiano (though "the halls where
knights and ladies listened to the adventures of the Paladin are now
turned into granaries," and Orlando himself has nearly disappeared
from the outside, where he was painted in huge dimensions as
if "entrusted with the wardenship") there was a likeness of Boiardo
executed by Niccolo dell' Abate, together with the principal events of
the _Orlando Innamorato_ and the _Æneid_.But part of these
paintings (Mr. Panizzi tells us) were destroyed, and part removed from
the castle to Modena" to save them from certain loss;" and he does not
add whether the portrait was among the latter.

From anecdotes, however, and from the poet's writings, we gather the
nature of the man; and this appears to have been very amiable. There is
an aristocratic tone in his poem, when speaking of the sort of people of
whom the mass of soldiers is wont to consist; and Foscolo says, that the
Count of Scandiano writes like a feudal lord. But common soldiers are not
apt to be the _elite_ of mankind; neither do we know with how goodnatured
a smile the mention of them may have been accompanied. People often give
a tone to what they read, more belonging to their own minds than the
author's. All the accounts left us of Boiardo, hostile as well as
friendly, prove him to have been an indulgent and popular man. According
to one, he was fond of making personal inquiries among its inhabitants
into the history of his native place; and he requited them so generously
for their information, that it was customary with them to say, when they
wished good fortune to one another, "Heaven send Boiardo to your house!"
There is said to have been a tradition at Scandiano, that having tried in
vain one day, as he was riding out, to discover a name for one of his
heroes, expressive of his lofty character, and the word _Rodamonte_
coming into his head, he galloped back with a pleasant ostentation to his
castle, crying it out aloud, and ordering the bells of the place to be
rung in its holiour; to the astonishment of the good people, who took
"Rodamonte" for some newly-discovered saint. His friend Paganelli of
Modena, who wrote a Latin poem on the _Empire of Cupid_, extolled
the Governor of Reggio for ranking among the deity's most generous
vassals,--one who, in spite of his office of magistrate, looked with
an indulgent eye on errors to which himself was liable, and who was
accustomed to prefer the study of love-verses to that of the law. The
learned lawyer, his countryman Panciroli, probably in resentment, as
Panizzi says, of this preference, accused him of an excess of benignity,
and of being fitter for writing poems than punishing ill deeds; and in
truth, as the same critic observes, "he must have been considered crazy
by the whole tribe of lawyers of that age," if it be true that he
anticipated the opinion of Beccaria, in thinking that no crime ought to
be punished with death.

The great work of this interesting and accomplished person, the _Orlando
Innamorato_, is an epic romance, founded on the love of the great Paladin
for the peerless beauty Angelica, whose name has enamoured the ears of
posterity. The poem introduces us to the pleasantest paths in that track
of reading in which Milton has told us that his "young feet delighted to
wander." Nor did he forsake it in his age.

  "Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
  When Agrican with all his northern powers
  Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
  The city of Gallaphrone, from whence to win
  The fairest of her sex, Angelica."

                                            _Paradise Regained._

The _Orlando Innamorato_ may be divided into three principal
portions:-the search for Angelica by Orlando and her other lovers; the
siege of her father's city Albracca by the Tartars; and that of Paris
and Charlemagne by the Moors. These, however, are all more or less
intermingled, and with the greatest art; and there are numerous episodes
of a like intertexture. The fairies and fairy-gardens of British romance,
and the fabulous glories of the house of Este, now proclaimed for the
first time, were added by the author to the enchantments of Pulci,
together with a pervading elegance; and had the poem been completed, we
were to have heard again of the traitor Gan of Maganza, for the purpose
of exalting the imaginary founder of that house, Ruggero.

This resuscitation of the Helen of antiquity, under a more seducing form,
was an invention of Boiardo's; so was the subjection of Charles's hero
Orlando to the passion of love; so, besides the heroine and her name,
was that of other interesting characters with beautiful names, which
afterwards figured in Ariosto. This inventive faculty is indeed so
conspicuous in every part of the work, on small as well as great
occasions, in fairy-adventures and those of flesh and blood, that
although the author appears to have had both his loves and his fairies
suggested to him by our romances of Arthur and the Round Table, it
constitutes, next to the pervading elegance above mentioned, his chief
claim to our admiration. Another of his merits is a certain tender
gallantry, or rather an honest admixture of animal passion with
spiritual, also the precursor of the like ingenuous emotions in Ariosto;
and he furthermore set his follower the example, not only of good
breeding, but of a constant heroical cheerfulness, looking with faith on
nature. Pulci has a constant cheerfulness, but not with so much grace and
dignity. Foscolo has remarked, that Boiardo's characters even surpass
those of Ariosto in truth and variety, and that his Angelica more engages
our feelings;[4] to which I will venture to add, that if his style is
less strong and complete, it never gives us a sense of elaboration. I
should take Boiardo to have been the healthier man, though of a less
determined will than Ariosto, and perhaps, on the whole, less robust.
You find in Boiardo almost which Ariosto perfected,--chivalry, battles,
combats, loves and graces, passions, enchantments, classical and romantic
fable, eulogy, satire, mirth, pathos, philosophy. It is like the first
sketch of a great picture, not the worse in some respects for being a
sketch; free and light, though not so grandly coloured. It is the morning
before the sun is up, and when the dew is on the grass. Take the stories
which are translated in the present volume, and you might fancy them all
written by Ariosto, with a difference; the _Death of Agrican_ perhaps
with minuter touches of nature, but certainly not with greater simplicity
and earnestness. In the _Saracen Friends_ there is just Ariosto's balance
of passion and levity; and in the story which I have entitled _Seeing and
Believing_, his exhibition of triumphant cunning. During the lives of
Pulci and Boiardo, the fierce passions and severe ethics of Dante had
been gradually giving way to a gentler and laxer state of opinion before
the progress of luxury; and though Boiardo's enamoured Paladin retains a
kind of virtue not common in any age to the heroes of warfare, the lord
of Scandiano, who appears to have recited his poem, sometimes to his
vassals and sometimes to the ducal circle at court, intimates a smiling
suspicion that such a virtue would be considered a little rude and
obsolete by his hearers. Pulci's wandering gallant, Uliviero, who in
Dante's time would have been a scandalous profligate, had become the
prototype of the court-lover in Boiardo's. The poet, however, in his most
favourite characters, retained and recommended a truer sentiment, as in
the instance of the loves of Brandimart and Fiordelisa; and there is
a graceful cheerfulness in some of his least sentimental ones, which
redeems them from grossness. I know not a more charming fancy in the
whole loving circle of fairy-land, than the female's shaking her long
tresses round Mandricardo, in order to furnish him with a mantle, when he
issues out of the enchanted fountain.[5]

But Boiardo's poem was unfinished: there are many prosaical passages
in it, many lame and harsh lines, incorrect and even ungrammatical
expressions, trivial images, and, above all, many Lombard provincialisms,
which are not in their nature of a "significant or graceful" sort,[6] and
which shocked the fastidious Florentines, the arbiters of Italian taste.
It was to avoid these in his own poetry, that Boiardo's countryman
Ariosto carefully studied the Tuscan dialect, if not visited Florence
itself; and the consequence was, that his greater genius so obscured the
popularity of his predecessor, that a remarkable process, unique in the
history of letters, appears to have been thought necessary to restore
its perusal. The facetious Berni, a Tuscan wit full of genius, without
omitting any particulars of consequence, or adding a single story except
of himself, re-cast the whole poem of Boiardo, altering the diction of
almost every stanza, and supplying introductions to the cantos after the
manner of Ariosto; and the Florentine idiom and unfailing spirit of this
re-fashioner's verse (though, what is very curious, not till after a long
chance of its being overlooked itself, and a posthumous editorship which
has left doubts on the authority of the text) gradually effaced almost
the very mention of the man's name who had supplied him with the whole
staple commodity of his book, with all the heart of its interest, and
with far the greater part of the actual words. The first edition of Berni
was prohibited in consequence of its containing a severe attack on the
clergy; but even the prohibition did not help to make it popular. The
reader may imagine a similar occurrence in England, by supposing that
Dryden had re-written the whole of Chaucer, and that his reconstruction
had in the course of time as much surpassed the original in popularity,
as his version of the _Flower and the Leaf_ did, up to the beginning of
the present century.

I do not mean to compare Chaucer with Boiardo, or Dryden with Berni. Fine
poet as I think Boiardo, I hold Chaucer to be a far finer; and spirited,
and in some respects admirable, as are Dryden's versions of Chaucer, they
do not equal that of Boiardo by the Tuscan. Dryden did not apprehend
the sentiment of Chaucer in any such degree as Berni did that of his
original. Indeed, Mr. Panizzi himself, to whom the world is indebted both
for the only good edition of Boiardo and for the knowledge of the most
curious facts respecting Berni's _rifacimento_, declares himself unable
to pronounce which of the two poems is the better one, the original
Boiardo, or the re-modelled. It would therefore not very well become a
foreigner to give a verdict, even if he were able; and I confess, after
no little consideration (and apart, of course, from questions of dialect,
which I cannot pretend to look into), I feel myself almost entirely at a
loss to conjecture on which side the superiority lies, except in point
of invention and a certain early simplicity. The advantage in those two
respects unquestionably belongs to Boiardo; and a great one it is, and
may not unreasonably be supposed to settle the rest of the question in
his favour; and yet Berni's fancy, during a more sophisticate period of
Italian manners, exhibited itself so abundantly in his own witty poems,
his pen at all times has such a charming facility, and he proved himself,
in his version of Boiardo, to have so strong a sympathy with the
earnestness and sentiment of his original in his gravest moments, that I
cannot help thinking the two men would have been each what the other was
in their respective times;--the Lombard the comparative idler, given more
to witty than serious invention, under a corrupt Roman court; and the
Tuscan the originator of romantic fictions, in a court more suited to him
than the one he avowedly despised. I look upon them as two men singularly
well matched. The nature of the present work does not require, and the
limits to which it is confined do not permit, me to indulge myself in a
comparison between them corroborated by proofs; but it is impossible not
to notice the connexion: and therefore, begging the reader's pardon for
the sorry substitute of affirmative for demonstrative criticism, I may be
allowed to say, that if Boiardo has the praise of invention to himself,
Berni thoroughly appreciated and even enriched it; that if Boiardo has
sometimes a more thoroughly charming simplicity, Berni still appreciates
it so well, that the difference of their times is sufficient to restore
the claim of equality of feeling; and finally, that if Berni strengthens
and adorns the interest of the composition with more felicitous
expressions, and with a variety of lively and beautiful trains of
thought, you feel that Boiardo was quite capable of them all, and might
have done precisely the same had he lived in Berni's age. In the greater
part of the poem the original is altered in nothing except diction,
and often (so at least it seems to me) for no other reason than the
requirements of the Tuscan manner. And this is the case with most of the
noblest, and even the liveliest passages. My first acquaintance, for
example, with the _Orlando Innamorato_ was through the medium of Berni;
and on turning to those stories in his version, which I have translated
from his original for the present volume, I found that every passage but
one, to which I had given a mark of admiration, was the property of the
old poet. That single one, however, was in the exquisitest taste, full of
as deep a feeling as any thing in its company (I have noticed it in the
translated passage). And then, in the celebrated introductions to his
cantos, and the additions to Boiardo's passages of description and
character (those about Rodamonte, for example, so admired by Foscolo), if
Berni occasionally spews a comparative want of faith which you regret, he
does it with a regret on his own part, visible through all his jesting.
Lastly, the singular and indignant strength of his execution often makes
up for the trustingness that he was sorry to miss. If I were asked, in
short, which of the two poems I should prefer keeping, were I compelled
to choose, I should first complain of being forced upon so hard an
alternative, and then, with many a look after Berni, retain Boiardo. The
invention is his; the first earnest impulse; the unmisgivings joy; the
primitive morning breath, when the town-smoke has not polluted the
fields, and the birds are singing their "wood-notes wild." Besides, after
all, one cannot be _sure_ that Berni could have invented as Boiardo did.
If he could, he would probably have written some fine serious poem of his
own. And Panizzi has observed, with striking and conclusive truth, that
"without Berni the _Orlando Innamorato_ will be read and enjoyed; without
Boiardo not even the name of the poem remains."[7]

Nevertheless this conclusion need not deprive us of either work. Berni
raised a fine polished edifice, copied and enlarged after that of
Boiardo;--on the other hand, the old house, thank Heaven, remains; and
our best way of settling the question between the two is, to be glad that
we have got both. Let the reader who is rich in such possessions look
upon Berni's as one of his town mansions, erected in the park-like
neighbourhood of some metropolis; and Boiardo's as the ancient country
original of it, embosomed in the woods afar off, and beautiful as the
Enchanted Castle of Claude--

  "Lone sitting by the shores of old romance."

       *       *       *       *       *

[Footnote 1: The materials for the biography in this notice have been
gathered from Tiraboschi and others, but more immediately from the
copious critical memoir from the pen of Mr. Panizzi, in that gentleman's
admirable edition of the combined poems of Boiardo and Ariosto, in nine
volumes octavo, published by Mr. Pickering. I have been under obligations
to this work in the notice of Pulci, and shall again be so in that of
Boiardo's successor; but I must not a third time run the risk of omitting
to give it my thanks (such as they are), and of earnestly recommending
every lover of Italian poetry, who can afford it, to possess himself of
this learned, entertaining, and only satisfactory edition of either of
the Orlandos. The author writes an English almost as correct as it is
elegant; and he is as painstaking as he is lively.]

[Footnote 2: She had taken a damsel in male attire for a man]

[Footnote 3: Crescimbeni himself had not seen the translation from
Apuleius, nor, apparently, several others--_Commentari, &c_. vol. ii.
part ii. lib. vii. sect. xi.]

[Footnote 4: Article on the _Narrative and Romantic Poems of the
Italians_, in the _Quarterly Review_, No. 62, p. 527.]

[Footnote 5:

  "E' suoi capelli a sè sciolse di testa,
  Che n'avea molti la dama gioconda;
  Ed, abbracciato il cavalier con festa,
  Tutto il coperse de la treccia bionda:
  Così, nascosi entrambi di tal vesta,
  Uscir' di quella fonte e la bell' onda."

  Her locks she loosened from her lovely head,
  For many and long had that same lady fair;
  And clasping him in mirth as round they spread,
  Covered the knight with the sweet shaken hair:
  And so, thus both together garmented,
  They issued from the fount to the fresh air.

Readers of the _Faerie Queene_ will here see where Spenser has been,
among his other visits to the Bowers of Bliss.]

[Footnote 6: Foscolo, _ut sup_. p. 528.]

[Footnote 7: A late amiable man of wit, Mr. Stewart Rose, has given
a prose abstract of Berni's _Orlando Innamorato_, with occasional
versification; but it is hardly more than a dry outline, and was, indeed,
intended only as an introduction to his version of the _Furioso_. A good
idea, however, of one of the phases of Berni's humour may be obtained
from the same gentleman's abridgment of the _Animali Parlanti_ of Casti,
in which he has introduced a translation of the Tuscan's description of
himself and of his way of life, out of his additions to Boiardo's poem.
The verses in the prohibited edition of Berni's _Orlando_, in which he
denounced the corruptions of the clergy, have been published, for the
first time in this country, in the notes to the twentieth canto of Mr.
Panizzi's Boiardo. They have all his peculiar wit, together with a
_Lutheran_ earnestness; and shew him, as that critic observes, to have
been "Protestant at his heart."

Since writing this note I have called to mind that a translation of
Berni's account of himself is to be found in Mr. Rose's prose abstract of
the _Innamorato._]



Angelica, daughter of Galafron, king of Cathay, the most beautiful of
womankind, and a possessor of the art of magic, comes, with her brother
Argalia, to the court of Charlemagne under false pretences, in order
to carry away his knights to the country of her father. Her immediate
purpose is defeated, and her brother slain; but all the knights, Orlando
in particular, fall in love with her; and she herself, in consequence of
drinking at an enchanted fountain, becomes in love with Rinaldo. On the
other hand, Rinaldo, from drinking a neighbouring fountain of a reverse
quality, finds his own love converted to loathing. Various adventures
arise out of these circumstances; and the fountains are again drunk, with
a mutual reversal of their effects.


It was the month of May and the feast of Pentecost, and Charlemagne had
ordained a great jousting, which brought into Paris an infinite number of
people, baptised and infidel; for there was truce proclaimed, in order
that every knight might come. There was King Grandonio from Spain, with
his serpent's face; and Ferragus, with his eyes like an eagle; and
Balugante, the emperor's kinsman; and Orlando, and Rinaldo, and Duke
Namo; and Astolfo of England, the handsomest of mankind; and the
enchanter Malagigi; and Isoliero and Salamone; and the traitor Gan, with
his scoundrel followers; and, in short, the whole flower of the chivalry
of the age, the greatest in the world. The tables at which they feasted
were on three sides of the hall, with the emperor's canopy midway at the
top; and at that first table sat crowned heads; and down the table on the
right sat dukes and marquises; and down the table on the left, counts and
cavaliers. But the Saracen nobles, after their doggish fashion, looked
neither for chair nor bench, but preferred a carpet on the floor, which
was accordingly spread for them in the midst.

High sat Charlemagne at the head of his vassals and his Paladins,
rejoicing in the thought of all the great men of which they consisted,
and holding the infidels cheap as the sands which are scattered by the
tempest. To each of his lords, as they drank, he sent round, by his
pages, gifts of enamelled cups of exquisite workmanship; and to every
body some mark of his princely distinction; and so they were all sitting
and hearing music, and feasting off dishes of gold, and talking of lovely
things with low voices,[1] when suddenly there came into the hall four
enormous giants, in the midst of whom was a lady, and behind the lady
there followed a cavalier. She was a very lily of the field, and a rose
of the garden, and a morning-star; in short, so beautiful that the like
had never been seen. There was Galerana in the hall; there was Alda,
the wife of Orlando; and Clarice, and Armellina the kind-hearted, and
abundance of other ladies, all beautiful till she made her appearance;
but after that they seemed nothing. Every Christian knight turned his
face that way; and not a Pagan remained on the floor, but arose and got
as near to her as he could; while she, with a cheerful sweetness, and
a smile fit to enamour a heart of stone, began speaking the following

"High-minded lord, the renown of your worthiness, and the valour of these
your knights, which echoes from sea to sea, encourages me to hope, that
two pilgrims who have come from the ends of the world to behold you, will
not have encountered their fatigue in vain. And to the end that I may not
hold your attention too long with speaking, let me briefly say, that
this knight here, Uberto of the Lion, a prince renowned also for his
achievements, has been wrongfully driven from out his dominions; and that
I, who was driven out with him, am his sister, whose name is Angelica.
Fame has told us of the jousting this day appointed, and of the noble
press of knights here assembled, and how your generous natures care not
to win prizes of gold or jewels, or gifts of cities, but only a wreath of
roses; and so the prince my brother has come to prove his own valour, and
to say, that if any or all of your guests, whether baptised or infidel,
choose to meet him in the joust, he will encounter them one by one, in
the green meadow without the walls, near the place called the Horseblock
of Merlin, by the Fountain of the Pine. And his conditions are
these,--that no knight who chances to be thrown shall have license to
renew the combat in any way whatsoever, but remain a submissive prisoner
in his hands; he, on the other hand, if himself be thrown, agreeing to
take his departure out of the country with his giants, and to leave his
sister, for prize, in the hands of the conqueror."

Kneeling at the close of these words, the lady awaited the answer of
Charlemagne, and every body gazed on her with astonishment. Orlando
especially, more than all the rest, felt irresistibly drawn towards her,
so that his heart trembled, and he changed countenance. But he felt
ashamed at the same time; and casting his eyes down, he said to himself,
"Ah, mad and unworthy Orlando! whither is thy soul being hurried? I am
drawn, and cannot say nay to what draws me. I reckoned the whole world as
nothing, and now I am conquered by a girl. I cannot get her sweet look
out of my heart. My soul seems to die within me, at the thought of being
without her. It is love that has seized me, and I feel that nothing will
set me free;--not strength, nor courage, nor my own wisdom, nor that of
any adviser. I see the better part, and cleave to the worse."[2]

Thus secretly in his heart did the frank and noble Orlando lament over
his new feelings; and no wonder; for every knight in the hall was
enamoured of the beautiful stranger, not excepting even old white-headed
Duke Namo. Charlemagne himself did not escape.

All stood for awhile in silence, lost in the delight of looking at
her. The fiery youth Ferragus was the first to exhibit symptoms in his
countenance of uncontrollable passion. He refrained with difficulty from
going up to the giants, and tearing her out of their keeping. Rinaldo
also turned as red as fire; while his cousin Malagigi the enchanter, who
had discovered that the stranger was not speaking truth, muttered softly,
as he looked at her, "Exquisite false creature! I will play thee such a
trick for this, as will leave thee no cause to boast of thy visit."

Charlemagne, to detain her as long as possible before him, made a speech
in answer, in which he talked and looked, and looked and talked, till
there seemed no end of it. At length, however, the challenge was accepted
in all its forms; and the lady quitted the hall with her brother and the

She had not yet passed the gates, when Malagigi the enchanter consulted
his books; and that no means might be wanting to complete the
counteraction of what he suspected, he summoned to his aid three spirits
out of the lower regions. But how serious his look turned, how his very
soul within him was shaken, when he discovered that the most dreadful
disasters hung over Charles and his court, and that the sister of the
pretended Uberto was daughter of King Galafron of Cathay, a beauty
accomplished in every species of enchantment, and sent there by her
father on purpose to betray them all! Her brother's name was not Uberto,
but Argalia. Galafron had given him a horse swifter than the wind, an
enchanted sword, a golden lance, also enchanted, which overthrew all whom
it touched,[3] and a ring of a virtue so extraordinary, that if put into
the mouth, it rendered the person invisible, and if worn on the finger,
nullified every enchantment. But beyond even all this, he gave him his
sister for a companion; rightly judging, that every body that saw her
would fall into the proposal of the joust; and trusting that, at the
close of it, she would bring him the whole court of France into Cathay,
prisoners in her hands.

Such, Malagigi discovered, was the plot of the accursed infidel hound,
King Galafron.[4]

Meantime the pretended Uberto had returned to his station at the
Horseblock of Merlin. He had had a beautiful pavilion pitched there; and
under this pavilion he lay down awhile to refresh himself with sleep. His
sister Angelica lay down also, but in the open air, under the great pine
by the fountain. The four giants kept watch: and as she lay thus asleep,
with her fair head on the grass, she appeared like an angel come down
from heaven.

By this time Malagigi, borne by one of his demons, had arrived in the
same place. He saw the beauty asleep by the flowery water, and the four
giants all wide awake; and he said within his teeth,--" Brute scoundrels,
I will take every one of you into my net without a blow."

Malagigi took his book, and cast a spell out of it; and in an instant
the whole four giants were buried in sleep. Then, drawing his sword, he
softly approached the young lady, intending to despatch her as quickly:
but seeing her look so lovely as she slept, he paused, and considered
within himself, and resolved to detain her in the same state by
enchantment, so long as it should please him. Laying down the naked sword
in the grass, he again took his book, and read and read on, and still
read on, and fancied he was locking up her senses all the while in a
sleep unwakeable. But the ring of which I have spoken was on her finger.
She had borrowed it of her brother; and a superior power rendered all
other magic of no avail. A touch from Malagigi to prove the force of his
spell awoke her, to the magician's consternation, with a great cry. She
fled into the arms of her brother, whom it aroused; and, by the help of
his sister's knowledge of enchantment, Argalia mastered and bound the
magician. The book was then turned against him, and the place was
suddenly filled with a crowd of his own demons, every one of them crying
out to Angelica, "What commandest thou?"

"Take this man," said Angelica, "and bear him prisoner to the great city
between Tartary and India, where my father Galafron is lord. Present him
to him in my name, and say it was I that took him; and add, that having
so taken the master of the book, I care not for all the other lords of
the court of Charlemagne."

At the end of these words, and at one and the same instant, the magician
was conveyed to the feet of Galafron in Cathay, and locked up in a rock
under the sea.

In due time the enamoured knights, according to agreement, came to the
spot, for the purpose of jousting with the supposed Uberto, each anxious
to have the first encounter, particularly Orlando, in order that he might
not see the beauty carried off by another. But they were obliged to draw
lots; and thirty other names appeared before his, the first of which was
that of Astolfo the Englishman.

Now Astolfo was son of the king of England; and as I said before, he was
the handsomest man in the world. He was also very rich and well bred, and
loved to dress well, and was as brave as he was handsome; but his success
was not always equal to his bravery. He had a trick of being thrown from
his horse, a failing which he was accustomed to attribute to accident;
and then he would mount again, and be again thrown from the saddle, in
the boldest manner conceivable.

This gallant prince was habited, on the present occasion, in arms worth a
whole treasury. His shield had a border of large pearls; his mail was of
gold; on his helmet was a ruby as big as a chestnut; and his horse was
covered with a cloth all over golden leopards.[5] He issued to the
combat, looking at nobody and fearing nothing; and on his sounding
the horn to battle, Argalia came forth to meet him. After courteous
salutations, the two combatants rushed together; but the moment the
Englishman was touched with the golden lance, his legs flew over his

"Cursed fortune!" cried he, as he lay on the grass; "this is out of all
calculation. But it was entirely owing to the saddle. You can't but
acknowledge, that if I had kept my seat, the beautiful lady would have
been mine. But thus it is when Fortune chooses to befriend infidels!"[6]

The four giants, who had by this time been disenchanted out of their
sleep by Angelica, took up the English prince, and put him in the
pavilion. But when he was stripped of his armour, he looked so handsome,
that the lovely stranger secretly took pity on him, and bade them shew
him all the courtesies that captivity allowed. He was permitted to walk
outside by the fountain; and Angelica, from a dark corner, looked at him
with admiration, as he walked up and down in the moonlight.[7]

The violent Ferragus had the next chance in the encounter, and was thrown
no less speedily than Astolfo; but he did not so easily put up with the
mischance. Crying out, "What are the emperor's engagements to me?" he
rushed with his sword against Argalia, who, being forced to defend himself
unexpectedly, dismounted and set aside his lance, and got so much the
worse of the fight, that he listened to proposals of marriage from
Ferragus to his sister. The beauty, however, not feeling an inclination
to match with so rough and savage-looking a person, was so dismayed at
the offer, that, hastily bidding her brother meet her in the forest of
Arden, she vanished from the sight of both, by means of the enchanted
ring. Argalia, seeing this, took to his horse of swiftness, and dashed
away in the same direction; Ferragus, in distraction, pursued Argalia;
and Astolfo, thus left to himself, took possession of the golden lance,
and again issued forth--not, indeed, with quite his usual confidence of
the result, but determined to run all risks, in any thing that might
ensue, for the sake of the emperor. In fine, to cut this part of the
history short, Charlemagne, finding the lady and her brother gone,
ordered the joust to be restored to its first intention; and Astolfo,
who was as ignorant as the others of the treasure he possessed in the
enchanted lance, unhorsed all comers against him like so many children,
equally to their astonishment and his own.

The Paladin Rinaldo now learnt the issue of the fight between Ferragus
and the stranger, and galloped in a loving agony of pursuit after
the fair fugitive. Orlando learnt the disappearance of Rinaldo, and,
distracted with jealousy, pushed forth in like manner; and at length all
three are in the forest of Arden, hunting about for her who is invisible.

Now in this forest were two enchanted waters, the one a running stream,
and the other a built fountain; the first caused every body who tasted it
to fall in love, and the other (so to speak) to fall _out_ of love; say,
rather, to feel the love turned into hate. To the latter of these two
waters Rinaldo happened to come; and being flushed with heat and anxiety,
he dismounted from his horse, and quenched, in one cold draught, both his
thirst and his passion. So far from loving Angelica as before, or holding
her beauty of any account, he became disgusted with its pursuit, nay,
hated her from the bottom of his heart; and so, in this new state of
mind, and with feelings of lofty contempt, he remounted and rode away,
and happened to come on the bank of the running stream. There, enticed by
the beauty of the place, which was all sweet meadow-ground and bowers of
trees, he again quitted his saddle, and, throwing himself on the ground,
fell fast asleep. Unfortunately for the proud beauty Angelica, or rather
in just punishment for her contempt, her palfrey conducted her to this
very place. The water tempted her to drink, and, dismounting and tying
the animal to one of the trees, she did so, and then cast her eyes on the
sleeping Rinaldo. Love instantly seized her, and she stood rooted to the

The meadow round about was all full of lilies of the valley and wild
roses. Angelica, not knowing what to do, at length plucked a quantity
of these, and with her white hand she dropped them on the face of the
sleeper. He woke up; and seeing who it was, not only received her
salutations with a change of countenance, but remounting his horse,
galloped away through the thickest part of the forest. In vain the
beautiful creature followed and called after him; in vain asked him what
she had done to be so despised, and entreated him, at any rate, to take
care how he went so fast. Rinaldo disappeared, leaving her to wring her
hands in despair; and she returned in tears to the spot on which she had
found him sleeping. There, in her turn, she herself lay down, pressing
the spot of earth on which he had lain; and so, weeping and lamenting,
yet blessing every flower and bit of grass that he had touched, fell
asleep out of fatigue and sorrow.

As Angelica thus lay, the good or bad fortune of Orlando conducted him to
the same place. The attitude in which she was sleeping was so lovely
that it is not even to be conceived, much less expressed. The very grass
seemed to flower on all sides of her for joy; and the stream, as it
murmured along, to go talking of love.[8] Orlando stood gazing like a man
who had been transported to another sphere. "Am I on earth," thought he,
"or am I in paradise? Surely it is I myself that am sleeping, and this is
my dream."

But his dream was proved to be none, in a manner which he little desired.
Ferragus, who had slain Argalia, came up raging with jealousy, and a
combat ensued which awoke the sleeper. Terrified at what she beheld, she
rushed to her palfrey; and while the fighters were occupied with one
another, fled away through the forest.

Fast fled the beauty in the direction taken by Rinaldo; nor did she
cease travelling, by one conveyance or another, till she reached her own
country, whither she had sent Malagigi. Him she freed from his prison,
on condition that he would employ his art for the purpose of bringing
Rinaldo to a palace of hers, which she possessed in an island; and
accordingly Rinaldo was inveigled by a spirit into an enchanted barque,
which he found on a sea-shore, and which conveyed him, without any
visible pilot, into Joyous Palace (for so the island was called).

The whole island was a garden, fifteen miles in extent. It was full of
trees and lawns; and on the western side, close to the sea, was the
palace, built of a marble so clear and polished, that it reflected the
landscape round about. Rinaldo, not knowing what to think of his strange
conveyance, lost no time in leaping to shore; upon which a lady made her
appearance, who invited him within. The house was a most beautiful house,
full of rooms adorned with azure and gold, and with noble paintings;
and within as well as without it were the loveliest flowers, the purest
fountains, and a fragrance fit to turn sorrow to joy. The lady led the
knight into an apartment painted with stories, and opening to the garden
through pillars of crystal with golden capitals. Here he found a bevy of
ladies, three of whom were singing in concert, while another played on
some foreign instrument of exquisite accord, and the rest were dancing
round about them. When the ladies beheld him coming, they turned the
dance into a circuit round about himself; and then one of them, in the
sweetest manner, said, "Sir knight, the tables are set, and the hour
for the banquet is come:" and with these words they all drew him, still
dancing, across the lawn in front of the apartment, to a table that was
spread with cloth of gold and fine linen, under a bower of damask roses,
by the side of a fountain.[9]

Four ladies were already seated there, who rose and placed Rinaldo
at their head, in a chair set with pearls. And truly indeed was he
astonished. A repast ensued, consisting of viands the most delicate, and
wines as fragrant as they were fine, drunk out of jewelled cups; and
when it drew towards its conclusion, harps and lutes were heard in the
distance, and one of the ladies said in the knight's ear, "This house,
and all that you see in it, are yours. For you alone was it built, and
the builder is a queen; and happy indeed must you think yourself, for
she loves you, and she is the greatest beauty in the world. Her name is

The moment Rinaldo heard the name he so detested, disgust and
wretchedness fell upon his heart, notwithstanding the joys around him. He
started up with a changed countenance, and, in spite of all that the lady
could say, broke off across the garden, and never ceased hastening till
he reached the place where he landed. He would have thrown himself into
the sea, rather than stay any longer in that island; but the enchanted
barque was still on the shore. He sprang into it, and attempted instantly
to push off, for he still saw nobody in it but himself; but the barque
for a while resisted his efforts; till, on his feeling a wish to drown
himself, or to do any thing rather than return to that detested house, it
suddenly loosed itself from its moorings, and dashed away with him over
the sea, as if in a fury.

All night did the pilotless barque dash on, till it reached, in the
morning, a distant shore covered with a gloomy forest. Here Rinaldo,
surrounded by enchantments of a very different sort from those which he
had lately resisted, was entrapped into a pit. The pit belonged to a
castle which was hung with human heads, and painted red with blood; and
as the Paladin was calling upon God to help him, a hideous white-headed
old woman, of a spiteful countenance, made her appearance on the edge of
the pit, and told him that he must fight with a monster born of Death and

"Be it so," said the Paladin. "Let me but remain armed as I am, and I
fear nothing." For Rinaldo had with him his renowned sword Fusberta.[10]

The old woman laughed in derision. Rinaldo remained in the den all night,
and next day was taken to a place where a portcullis was lifted up, and
the monster rushed forth. He was a mixture of hog and serpent, larger
than an ox, and not to be looked at without horror. He had eyes like a
traitor, the hands of a man, but clawed, a beard dabbled with blood, a
skin of coarse variegated colours, too hard to be cut through, and two
horns on his temples, which he could turn on all sides of him at his
pleasure, and which were so sharp that they cut like a sword.

Rising on his hind-legs, and opening a mouth six palms in width, this
horrible beast fell heavily on Rinaldo, who was nevertheless quick enough
to give it a blow on the snout which increased its fury. Returning the
knight a tremendous cuff, it seized his coat of mail between breast and
shoulder, and tore away a great strip of it down to the girdle,
leaving the skin bare. Every successive rent and blow was of the like
irresistible violence; and though the Paladin himself never fought with
more force and fury, he lost blood every instant. The monster at length
tearing his sword out of his hand, the Paladin surely began to think that
his last hour was arrived.

Looking about to see what might possibly help him, he observed overhead
a beam sticking out of a wall at the height of some ten feet. He took a
leap more than human; and reaching the beam with his hand, succeeded in
flinging himself up across it. Here he sat for hours, the furious brute
continually trying to reach him. Night-time then came on with a clear
starry sky and moonlight, and the Paladin could discern no way of
escaping, when he heard a sound of something, he knew not what, coming
through the air like a bird. Suddenly a female figure stood on the end of
the beam, holding something in her hand towards him, and speaking in a
loving voice.

It was Angelica, come with means for destroying the monster, and carrying
the knight away.

But the moment Rinaldo saw her, desperate as seemed to be his condition,
he renounced all offers of her assistance; and at length became so
exasperated with her good offices, especially when she opened her arms
and offered to bear him away in them, that he threatened to cast himself
down to the monster if she did not go away.[11]

Angelica, saying that she would lose her life rather than displease him,
descended from the beam; and having given the monster a cake of wax which
fastened up his teeth, and then caught and fixed him in a set of nooses
she had brought for that purpose, took her miserable departure. Rinaldo
upon this got down from the beam himself; and having succeeded, though
with the greatest difficulty, in beating and squeezing the life out of
the monster, dealt such havoc among the people of the castle who
assailed him, that the horrible old woman, whose crimes had made her the
creature's housekeeper, and led her to take delight in its cruelty, threw
herself headlong from a tower. The Paladin then took his way forth,
turning his back on the castle and the sea-shore.

Angelica returned to the capital of her father's dominion, Albracca; and
the pertinacity of others in seeking her love being as great as that of
hers for Rinaldo, she found King Galafron, in a short time, besieged
there for her sake, by the fierce Agrican, king of Tartary.

In a short time a jealous feud sprang up between the loving friends
Rinaldo and Orlando; and Angelica, torn with conflicting emotions, from
her dread on her father's account as well as her own, and her aversion
to every knight but her detester, was at one time compelled to apply to
Orlando for assistance, and at another, being afraid that he would have
the better of Rinaldo in combat, to send him away on a perilous adventure
elsewhere, with a promise of accepting his love should he succeed.[12]
Orlando went, but not before he had slain Agrican and delivered Albracca.
Circumstances, however, again took him with her to a distance, as the
reader will see, ere he could bring her to perform her promise; and the
Paladins in general having again been scattered abroad, it happened that
Rinaldo a second time found himself in the forest of Arden; and here,
without expecting it, he became an altered man; for he now tasted a very
different stream from that which had given him his hate for Angelica;
namely, the one which had made her fall in love with himself. He was led
to do this by a very extraordinary adventure.

In the thick of the forest he had come upon a mead full of flowers, in
which there was a naked youth, singing in the midst of three damsels, who
were naked also, and who were dancing round about him. They had bunches
of flowers in their hands, and garlands on their heads; and as they
were thus delighting themselves, with faces full of love and joy, they
suddenly changed countenance on seeing Rinaldo. "Behold," cried they, "the
traitor! Behold him, villain that he is, and the scorner of all delights!
He has fallen into the net at last." With these words they fell upon him
with the flowers like so many furies; and tender as such scourges might
be thought, every blow which the roses and violets gave him, every fresh
stroke of the lilies and the hyacinths, smote him to the very heart, and
filled his veins with fire. The flowers in the bands of the nymphs
being exhausted, the youth gave him a blow on the helmet with a tall
garden-lily, which felled him to the earth; and so, taking him by the
legs, and dragging him over the grass, his conqueror went the whole
circuit of the mead with him, the nymphs taking the very garlands off
their heads, and again scourging him with their white and red roses.[13]

At the close of this discipline, which left him more exhausted than
twenty battles, his enemies suddenly developed wings from their
shoulders, the feathers of which were of white and gold and vermilion,
every feather having an eye in it, not like those in the peacock's
feathers, but one full of life and motion, being a female eye, lovely and
gracious. And with these wings they poised themselves a little, and so
sprung up to heaven.[14]

The Paladin, more dead than alive, lay helpless among the flowers, when a
fourth nymph came up to him, of inexpressible beauty. She told him that
he had grievously offended the naked youth, who was no other than Love
himself; and added, that his only remedy was to be penitent, and to drink
of the waters of a stream hard by, which he would find running from the
roots of an olive-tree and a pine. With these words, she vanished in her
turn like the rest; and Rinaldo, dragging himself as well as he could to
the olive and pine, stooped down, and greedily drank of the water. Again
and again he drank, and wished still to be drinking, for it took not only
all pain out of his limbs, but all hate and bitterness out of his soul,
and produced such a remorseful and doating memory of Angelica, that he
would fain have galloped that instant to Cathay, and prostrated himself
at her feet. By degrees he knew the place; and looking round about him,
and preparing to remount his horse, he discerned a knight and a lady in
the distance. The knight was in a coat of armour unknown to him, and the
lady kneeling and drinking at a fountain, which was the one that had
formerly quenched his own thirst; to wit, the Fountain of Disdain.

Alas! it was Angelica herself; and the knight was Orlando. She had
allowed him to bring her into France, ostensibly for the purpose of
wedding him at the court of Charlemagne, whither the hero's assistance
had been called against Agramant king of the Moors, but secretly with the
object of discovering Rinaldo. Rinaldo, behold! is discovered; but the
fatal averse water has been drunk, and Angelica now hates him in turn, as
cordially as he detested her. In vain he accosted her in the humblest and
most repentant manner, calling himself the unworthiest of mankind, and
entreating to be allowed to love her. Orlando, disclosing himself,
fiercely interrupted him; and a combat so terrific ensued, that Angelica
fled away on her palfrey till she came to a large plain, in which she
beheld an army encamped.

The army was Charlemagne's, who had come to meet Rodamonte, one of the
vassals of Agramant. Angelica, in a tremble, related how she had left the
two Paladins fighting in the wood; and Charlemagne, who was delighted to
find Orlando so near him, proceeded thither with his lords, and parting
the combatants by his royal authority, suppressed the dispute between
them for the present, by consigning the object of their contention to the
care of Namo duke of Bavaria, with the understanding that she was to be
the prize of the warrior who should best deserve her in the approaching
battle with the infidels.

[This is the last we hear of Angelica in the unfinished poem of Boiardo.
For the close of her history see its continuation by Ariosto in the
present volume.]

[Footnote 1: "Con parlar basso e bei ragionamenti."]

[Footnote 2: _Video meliora, proboque, &c._ Writers were now beginning
to pride themselves on their classical reading. The present occasion,
it must be owned, was a very good one for introducing the passage from
Horace. The previous words have an affecting ingenuousness; and, indeed,
the whole stanza is beautiful:

  "Io non mi posso dal cor dipartire
    La dolce vista del viso sereno,
  Perch'io mi sento senza lei morire,
    E 'l spirto a poco a poco venir meno.
  Or non mi vale forza, nè l'ardire
    Contra d' amor, the m' ha già posto il freno;
  Nè mi giova saper, ne altrui consiglio:
  Il meglio veggio, ed al peggior m'appiglio."

  Alas! I cannot, though I shut mine eyes,
    Lose the sweet look of that delightful face;
  The very soul within me droops and dies,
    To think that I may fail to gain her grace.
  No strong limbs now, no valour, will suffice
    To burst the spell that roots me to the place:
  No, nor reflection, nor advice, nor force;
  I see the better part, and clasp the worse.]

[Footnote 3:
  [Greek: Argureais logchaisi machou, kai panta krataeseis.]

  "Make war with silver spears, and you'll beat all."

The reader will note the allegory or not, as he pleases. It is a very
good allegory; but allegory, by the due process of enchantment, becomes
matter of fact; and it is pleasant to take it as such.]

[Footnote 4: "Rè Galagron, il maledetto cane"]

[Footnote 5: The lions in the shield of England were leopards in the
"olden time," and it is understood, I believe, ought still to be so,--as
Napoleon, with an invidious pedantry, once permitted himself to be angry
enough to inform us.]

[Footnote 6: The character of Astolfo, the germ of which is in our own
ancient British romances, appears to have been completed by the lively
invention of Boiardo, and is a curious epitome of almost all which has
been discerned in the travelled Englishmen by the envy of poorer and the
wit of livelier foreigners. He has the handsomeness and ostentation of a
Buckingham, the wealth of a Beckford, the generosity of a Carlisle, the
invincible pretensions of a Crichton, the self-commitals and bravery of
a Digby, the lucklessness of a Stuart, and the _nonchalance_ "under
difficulties" of "_Milord What-then_" in Voltaire's _Princess of
Babylon_, where the noble traveller is discovered philosophically reading
the news-paper in his carriage after it was overturned. English beauty,
ever since the days of Pope Gregory, with his pun about Angles and
Angels, has been greatly admired in the south of Europe--not a little,
perhaps, on account of the general fairness of its complexion. I once
heard a fair-faced English gentleman, who would have been thought rather
effeminate looking at home, called an "Angel" by a lady in Genoa.]

[Footnote 7:

  "Stava disciolto, senza guardia alcuna,
  Ed intorno a la fonte sollazzava;
  Angelica nel lume de la luna,
  Quanto potea nascosa, lo mirava."

There is something wonderfully soft and _lunar_ in the liquid monotony of
the third line.]

[Footnote 8:

  "La qual dormiva in atto tanto adorno,
  Che pensar non si può, non ch'io lo scriva
  Parea che l'erba a lei fiorisse intorno,
  E d'amor ragionasse quella riva."

  Her posture, as she lay, was exquisite
  Above all words--nay, thought itself above:
  The grass seemed flowering round her in delight,
  And the soft river murmuring of love.]

[Footnote 9: Supremely elegant all this appears to me.]

[Footnote 10: Sometimes called in the romances _Frusberta_ (query, from
_fourbir_, to burnish; or, _froisser_, to crush?). The meaning does not
seem to be known. I ought to have observed, in the notes to Pulci, that
the name of Orlando's sword, _Durlindana_ (called also _Durindana,
Durandal_, &c.), is understood to mean _Hardhitter_.]

[Footnote 11: The force of aversion was surely never better imagined than
in this scene of the opened arms of beauty, and the knight's preference
of the most odious death.]

[Footnote 12: Legalised, I presume, by a divorce from the hero's wife,
the fair Alda; who, though she is generally designated by that epithet,
seems never to have had much of his attention.]

[Footnote 13: This violent effect of weapons so extremely gentle is
beautifully conceived.]

[Footnote 14: The "female eye, lovely and gracious," is charmingly
painted _per se_, but of this otherwise thoroughly beautiful description
I must venture to doubt, whether _living_ eyes of any sort, instead of
those in the peacock's feathers, are in good taste. The imagination
revolts from life misplaced.]




Agrican king of Tartary, in love with Angelica, and baffled by the
prowess of the unknown Orlando in his attempts to bring the siege of
Albracca to a favourable conclusion, entices him apart from the battle
into a wood, in the hope of killing him in single combat. The combat is
suspended by the arrival of night-time; and a conversation ensues between
the warriors, which is furiously interrupted by Agrican's discovery of
his rival, and the latter's refusal to renounce his love. Agrican is
slain; and in his dying moments requests baptism at the hand of his
conqueror, who, with great tenderness, bestows it.



The siege of Albracca was going on formidably under the command of
Agrican, and the city of Galafron was threatened with the loss of the
monarch's daughter, Angelica, when Orlando, at his earnest prayer, came
to assist him, and changing at once the whole course of the war, threw
the enemy in his turn into transports of anxiety. Wherever the great
Paladin came, pennon and standard fell before him. Men were cut up and
cloven down, at every stroke of his sword; and whereas the Indians had
been in full rout but a moment before, and the Tartars ever on their
flanks, Galafron himself being the swiftest among the spurrers away, it
was now the Tartars that fled for their lives; for Orlando was there, and
a band of fresh knights were about him, and Agrican in vain attempted to
rally his troops. The Paladin kept him constantly in his front, forcing
him to attend to nobody else. The Tartar king, who cared not a button for
Galafron and all his army,[1] provided he could but rid himself of this
terrible knight (whom he guessed at, but did not know), bethought him of
a stratagem. He turned his horse, and made a show of flying in despair.
Orlando dashed after him, as he desired; and Agrican fled till he reached
a green place in a wood, with a fountain in it.

The place was beautiful, and the Tartar dismounted to refresh himself at
the fountain, but without taking off his helmet, or laying aside any of
his armour. Orlando was quickly at his back, crying out, "So bold, and
yet such a fugitive! How could you fly from a single arm, and yet think
to escape? When a man can die with honour, he should be glad to die; for
he may live and fare worse. He may get death and infamy together."

The Tartar king had leaped on his saddle the moment he saw his enemy; and
when the Paladin had done speaking, he said in a mild voice, "Without
doubt you are the best knight I ever encountered; and fain would I leave
you untouched for your own sake, if you would cease to hinder me from
rallying my people. I pretended to fly, in order to bring you out of the
field. If you insist upon fighting, I must needs fight and slay you; but
I call the sun in the heavens to witness, that I would rather not. I
should be very sorry for your death."

The County Orlando felt pity for so much gallantry; and he said," The
nobler you shew yourself, the more it grieves me to think, that in dying
without a knowledge of the true faith, you will be lost in the other
world. Let me advise you to save body and soul at once. Receive baptism,
and go your way in peace."

Agrican looked him in the face, and replied, "I suspect you to be the
Paladin Orlando. If you are, I would not lose this opportunity of
fighting with you, to be king of Paradise. Talk to me no more about your
things of the other world; for you will preach in vain. Each of us for
himself, and let the sword be umpire."

No sooner said than done. The Tartar drew his sword, boldly advancing
upon Orlando; and a cut and thrust fight began, so long and so terrible,
each warrior being a miracle of prowess, that the story says it lasted
from noon till night. Orlando then, seeing the stars come out, was the
first to propose a respite. "What are we to do," said he, "now that
daylight has left us?"

Agrican answered readily enough, "Let us repose in this meadow, and renew
the combat at dawn."

The repose was taken accordingly. Each tied up his horse, and reclined
himself on the grass, not far from one another, just as if they had been
friends,--Orlando by the fountain, Agrican beneath a pine. It was a
beautiful clear night; and as they talked together, before addressing
themselves to sleep, the champion of Christendom, looking up at the
firmament, said, "That is a fine piece of workmanship, that starry
spectacle. God made it all,--that moon of silver, and those stars of
gold, and the light of day and the sun,--all for the sake of human kind."

"You wish, I see, to talk of matters of faith," said the Tartar. "Now
I may as well tell you at once, that I have no sort of skill in such
matters, nor learning of any kind. I never could learn anything when
I was a boy. I hated it so, that I broke the man's head who was
commissioned to teach me; and it produced such an effect on others, that
nobody ever afterwards dared so much as shew me a book. My boyhood was
therefore passed as it should be, in horsemanship, and hunting, and
learning to fight. What is the good of a gentleman's poring all day over
a book? Prowess to the knight, and prattle to the clergyman. That is my

"I acknowledge," returned Orlando, "that arms are the first consideration
of a gentleman; but not at all that he does himself dishonour by
knowledge. On the contrary, knowledge is as great an embellishment of the
rest of his attainments, as the flowers are to the meadow before us; and
as to the knowledge of his Maker, the man that is without it is no better
than a stock or a stone, or a brute beast. Neither, without study, can
he reach anything like a due sense of the depth and divineness of the

"Learned or not learned," said Agrican, "you might skew yourself better
bred than by endeavouring to make me talk on a subject on which you have
me at a disadvantage. I have frankly told you what sort of person I am;
and I dare say, that you for your part are very learned and wise. You
will therefore permit me, if you say anything more of such things, to
make you no answer. If you choose to sleep, I wish you good night; but
if you prefer talking, I recommend you to talk of fighting, or of fair
ladies. And, by the way, pray tell me-are you, or are you not, may I ask,
that Orlando who makes such a noise in the world? And what is it, pray,
brings you into these parts? Were you ever in love? I suppose you must
have been; for to be a knight, and never to have been in love, would be
like being a man with no heart in his breast."

The County replied, "Orlando I am, and in love I am.[2] Love has made me
abandon every thing, and brought me into these distant regions; and to
tell you all in one word, my heart is in the hands of the daughter of
King Galafron. You have come against him with fire and sword, to get
possession of his castles and his dominions; and I have come to help
him, for no object in the world but to please his daughter, and win her
beautiful hand. I care for nothing else in existence."

Now when the Tartar king Agrican heard his antagonist speak in this
manner, and knew him to be indeed Orlando, and to be in love with
Angelica, his face changed colour for grief and jealousy, though it could
not be seen for the darkness. His heart began beating with such violence,
that he felt as if he should have died. "Well," said he to Orlando, "we
are to fight when it is daylight, and one or the other is to be left
here, dead on the ground. I have a proposal to make to you; nay, an
entreaty. My love is so excessive for the same lady, that I beg you to
leave her to me. I will owe you my thanks, and give up the fight myself.
I cannot bear that any one else should love her, and I live to see it.
Why, therefore, should either of us perish? Give her up. Not a soul shall
know it."[3]

"I never yet," answered Orlando, "made a promise which I did not keep;
and, nevertheless, I own to you, that were I to make a promise like that,
and even swear to keep it, I should not. You might as well ask me to tear
away the limbs from my body, and the eyes out of my head. I could as soon
live without breath itself, as cease loving Angelica."

Agrican bad scarcely patience enough to let the speaker finish, ere he
leaped furiously on horseback, though it was midnight. "Quit her," said
he, "or die!"

Orlando, seeing the infidel getting up, and not being sure that he would
not add treachery to fierceness, had been hardly less quick in mounting
for the combat. "Never!" exclaimed he. "I never could have quitted her if
I would; and now I wouldn't if I could. You must seek her by other
means than these."

Fiercely dashed their horses together, in the night-time, on the green
mead. Despiteful and terrible were the blows they gave and took by the
moonlight. There was no need of their looking out for one another,
night-time though it was. Their business was to take as sharp heed of
every movement, as if it had been noon-day.[4]

Agrican fought in a rage: Orlando was cooler. And now the struggle had
lasted more than five hours, and dawn began to be visible, when the
Tartar king, furious to find so much trouble given him, dealt his enemy a
blow sharp and violent beyond conception. It cut the shield in two, as
if it had been a cheesecake; and though blood could not be drawn from
Orlando, because he was fated, it shook and bruised him, as if it had
started every joint in his body.

His body only, however; not a particle of his soul. So dreadful was the
blow which the Paladin gave in return, that not only shield, but every
bit of mail on the body of Agrican, was broken in pieces, and three of
his left ribs cut asunder.

The Tartar, roaring like a lion, raised his sword with still greater
vehemence than before, and dealt a blow on the Paladin's helmet, such as
he had never yet received from mortal man. For a moment it took away his
senses. His sight failed; his ears tinkled; his frightened horse turned
about to fly; and he was falling from the saddle, when the very action
of falling jerked his head upwards, and with the jerk he regained his

"O my God!" thought he, "what a shame is this! how shall I ever again
dare to face Angelica! I have been fighting, hour after hour, with this
man, and he is but one, and I call myself Orlando. If the combat last
any longer, I will bury myself in a monastery, and never look on sword

Orlando muttered with his lips closed and his teeth ground together; and
you might have thought that fire instead of breath came out of his nose
and mouth. He raised his sword Durindana with both his hands, and sent
it down so tremendously on Agrican's left shoulder, that it cut through
breast-plate and belly-piece down to the very haunch; nay, crushed the
saddle-bow, though it was made of bone and iron, and felled man and horse
to the earth. From shoulder to hip was Agrican cut through his weary
soul, and he turned as white as ashes, and felt death upon him. He called
Orlando to come close to him with a gentle voice, and said, as well as he
could, "I believe in Him who died on the Cross. Baptise me, I pray thee,
with the fountain, before my senses are gone. I have lived an evil life,
but need not be rebellious to God in death also. May He who came to save
all the rest of the world, save me! He is a God of great mercy."

And he shed tears, did that king, though he had been so lofty and fierce.

Orlando dismounted quickly, with his own face in tears. He gathered the
king tenderly in his arms, and took and laid him by the fountain, on
a marble cirque which it had; and then he wept in concert with him
heartily, and asked his pardon, and so baptised him in the water of the
fountain, and knelt and prayed to God for him with joined hands.

He then paused and looked at him; and when he perceived his countenance
changed, and that his whole person was cold, he left him there on the
marble cirque by the fountain, all armed as he was, with the sword by his
side, and the crown upon his head.

       *       *       *       *       *

I think I may anticipate the warm admiration of the reader for the whole
of this beautiful episode, particularly its close. "I think," says
Panizzi, "that Tasso had this passage particularly in view when he wrote
the duel of Clorinda and Tancredi, and her conversion and baptism before
dying. The whole passage, from stanza xii. (where Agrican receives his
mortal blow) to this, is beautiful; and the delicate proceeding of
Orlando in leaving Agrican's body armed, even with the sword in his hand,
is in the noblest spirit of chivalry."--Edition of _Boiardo and Ariosto_,
vol. iii. page 357.

The reader will find the original in the Appendix No. I.

In the course of the poem (canto xix. stanza xxvi.) a knight, with the
same noble delicacy, who is in distress for a set of arms, borrows those
belonging to the dead body, with many excuses, and a kiss on its face.

[Footnote 1:

  "Che tutti insieme, e 'l suo Rè Galafrone,
  Non li stimava quanto un vil bottone."]

[Footnote 2: Berni has here introduced the touching words, "Would I were
not so!" (Così non foss'io!)]

[Footnote 3: This proposal is in the highest ingenuous spirit of the
absurd wilfulness of passion, thinking that every thing is to give way
before it, not excepting the same identical wishes in other people.]

[Footnote 4: Very fine all this, I think.]




Prasildo, a nobleman of Babylon, to his great anguish, falls in love with
his friend's wife, Tisbina; and being overheard by her and her husband
threatening to kill himself, the lady, hoping to divert him from his
passion by time and absence, promises to return it on condition of his
performing a distant and perilous adventure. He performs the adventure;
and the husband and wife, supposing that there is no other way of her
escaping the consequences, resolve to take poison; after which the lady
goes to Prasildo's house, and informs him of their having done so.
Prasildo resolves to die with them; but hearing, in the mean time, that
the apothecary had given them a drink that was harmless, he goes and
tells them of their good fortune; upon which the husband is so struck
with his generosity, that he voluntarily quits Babylon for life and the
lady marries the lover. The new husband subsequently hears that his
friend's life is in danger, and quits the wife to go and deliver him from
it at the risk of his own, which he does.

This story, which has resemblances to it in Boccaccio and Chaucer, is
told to Rinaldo while riding through a wood in Asia, with a damsel behind
him on the same horse. He has engaged to combat in her behalf with a band
of knights; and the lady relates it to beguile the way.

The reader is to bear in mind, that the age of chivalry took delight in
mooting points of love and friendship, such as in after-times would
have been out of the question; and that the parties in this story are
Mahometans, with whom divorce was an easy thing, and caused no scandal.


Iroldo, a knight of Babylon, had to wife a lady of the name of Tisbina,
whom he loved with a passion equal to that of Tristan for Iseult;[1] and
she returned his love with such fondness, that her thoughts were occupied
with him from morning till night. Among other pleasant circumstances
of their position, they had a neighbour who was accounted the greatest
nobleman in the city; and he deserved his credit, for he spent his great
riches in doing nothing but honour to his rank. He was pleasant in
company, formidable in battle, full of grace in love; an open-hearted,
accomplished gentleman.

This personage, whose name was Prasildo, happened to be of a party one
day with Tisbina, who were amusing themselves in a garden, with a game in
which the players knelt down with their faces bent on one another's laps,
and guessed who it was that struck them. The turn came to himself, and
he knelt down to the lap of Tisbina; but no sooner was he there, than he
experienced feelings he had never dreamt of; and instead of trying to
guess correctly, took all the pains he could to remain in the same

These feelings pursued him all the rest of the day, and still more
closely at night. He did nothing but think and sigh, and find the soft
feathers harder than any stone. Nor did he get better as time advanced.
His once favourite pastime of hunting now ceased to afford him any
delight. Nothing pleased him but to be giving dinners and balls, to make
verses and sing them to his lute, and to joust and tournay in the eyes of
his love, dressed in the most sumptuous apparel. But above all, gentle
and graceful as he had been before, he now became still more gentle and
graceful--for good qualities are always increased when a man is in
love. Never in my life did I know them turn to ill in that case. So, in
Prasildo's, you may guess what a super-excellent person he became.

The passion which had thus taken possession of this gentleman was not
lost upon the lady for want of her knowing it. A mutual acquaintance
was always talking to her on the subject, but to no purpose; she never
relaxed her pride and dignity for a moment. The lover at last fell ill;
he fairly wasted away; and was so unhappy, that he gave up all his
feastings and entertainments. The only pleasure he took was in a solitary
wood, in which he used to plunge himself in order to give way to his
grief and lamentations.

It happened one day, early in the morning, while he was thus occupied,
that Iroldo came into the wood to amuse himself with bird-catching. He
had Tisbina with him; and as they were coming along, they overheard their
neighbour during one of his paroxysms, and stopped to listen to what he

"Hear me," exclaimed he, "ye flowers and ye woods. Hear to what a pass of
wretchedness I am come, since that cruel one will hear me not. Hear, O
sun that hast taken away the night from the heavens, and you, ye stars,
and thou the departing moon, hear the voice of my grief for the last
time, for exist I can no longer; my death is the only way left me to
gratify that proud beauty, to whom it has pleased Heaven to give a
cruel heart with a merciful countenance. Fain would I have died in her
presence. It would have comforted me to see her pleased even with that
proof of my love. But I pray, nevertheless, that she may never know it;
since, cruel as she is, she might blame herself for having shewn a scorn
so extreme; and I love her so, I would not have her pained for all her
cruelty. Surely I shall love her even in my grave."

With these words, turning pale with his own mortal resolution, Prasildo
drew his sword, and pronouncing the name of Tisbina more than once with a
loving voice, as though its very sound would be sufficient to waft him
to Paradise, was about to plunge the steel into his bosom, when the lady
herself, by leave of her husband, whose manly visage was all in tears for
pity, stood suddenly before him.

"Prasildo," said she, "if you love me, listen to me. You have often told
me that you do so. Now prove it. I happen to be threatened with nothing
less than the loss of life and honour. Nothing short of such a calamity
could have induced me to beg of you the service I am going to request;
since there is no greater shame in the world than to ask favours from
those to whom we have refused them. But I now promise you, that if you do
what I desire, your love shall be returned. I give you my word for it. I
give you my honour. On the other side of the wilds of Barbary is a garden
which has a wall of iron. It has four gates. Life itself keeps one; Death
another; Poverty the third; the fairy of Riches the fourth. He who goes
in at one gate must go out at the other opposite; and in the midst of the
garden is a tree, tall as the reach of an arrow, which produces pearls
for blossoms. It is called the Tree of Wealth, and has fruit of emeralds
and boughs of gold. I must have a bough of that tree, or suffer the most
painful consequences. Now, then, if you love me, I say, prove it. Prove
it, and most assuredly I shall love you in turn, better than ever you
loved myself."

What need of saying that Prasildo, with haste and joy, undertook to do
all that she required? If she had asked the sun and stars, and the whole
universe, he would have promised them. Quitting her in spite of his love,
he set out on the journey without delay, only dressing himself before he
left the city in the habit of a pilgrim.

Now you must know, that Iroldo and his lady had set Prasildo on that
adventure, in the hope that the great distance which he would have to
travel, and the change which it might assist time to produce, would
deliver him from his passion. At all events, in case this good end was
not effected before he arrived at the garden, they counted to a certainty
on his getting rid of it when he did; because the fairy of that garden,
which was called the Garden of Medusa, was of such a nature, that
whosoever did but look on her countenance forgot the reason for his going
thither; and whoever saluted, touched, and sat down to converse by her
side, forgot all that had ever occurred in his lifetime.

Away, however, on his steed went our bold lover; all alone, or rather
with Love for his companion; and so, riding hard till he came to the Red
Sea, he took ship, and journeyed through Egypt, and came to the mountains
of Barca, where he overtook an old grey-headed palmer.

Prasildo told the palmer the reason of his coming, and the palmer told
him what the reader has heard about the garden; adding, that he must
enter by the gate of Poverty, and take no arms or armour with him,
excepting a looking-glass for a shield, in which the fairy might behold
her beauty. The old man gave him other directions necessary for his
passing out of the gate of Riches; and Prasildo, thanking him, went on,
and in thirty days found himself entering the garden with the greatest
ease, by the gate of Poverty.

The garden looked like a Paradise, it was so full of beautiful trees, and
flowers, and fresh grass. Prasildo took care to hold the shield over his
eyes, that he might avoid seeing the fairy Medusa; and in this manner,
guarding his approach, he arrived at the Golden Tree. The fairy, who was
reclining against the trunk of it, looked up, and saw herself in the
glass. Wonderful was the effect on her. Instead of her own white-and-red
blooming face, she beheld that of a dreadful serpent. The spectacle made
her take to flight in terror; and the lover, finding his object so far
gained, looked freely at the tree, and climbed it, and bore away a

With this he proceeded to the gate of Riches. It was all of loadstone,
and opened with a great noise. But he passed through it happily, for he
made the fairy who kept it a present of half the bough; and so he issued
forth out of the garden, with indescribable joy.

Behold our loving adventurer now on his road home. Every step of the way
appeared to him a thousand. He took the road of Nubia to shorten the
journey; crossed the Arabian Gulf with a breeze in his favour; and
travelling by night as well as by day, arrived one fine morning in

No sooner was he there, than he sent to tell the object of his passion
how fortunate he had been. He begged her to name her own place and time
for receiving the bough at his hands, taking care to remind her of her
promise; and he could not help adding, that he should die if she broke it.

Terrible was the grief of Tisbina at this unlooked-for news. She threw
herself on her couch in despair, and bewailed the hour she was born.
"What on earth am I to do?" cried the wretched lady; "death itself is no
remedy for a case like this, since it is only another mode of breaking my
word. To think that Prasildo should return from the garden of Medusa! who
could have supposed it possible? And yet, in truth, what a fool I was to
suppose any thing impossible to love! O my husband! little didst thou
think what thou thyself advisedst me to promise!"

The husband was coming that moment towards the room; and overhearing his
wife grieving in this distracted manner, he entered and clasped her in
his arms. On learning the cause of her affliction, he felt as though he
should have died with her on the spot.

"Alas!" cried he, "that it should be possible for me to be miserable
while I am so dear to your heart. But you know, O my soul! that when love
and jealousy come together, the torment is the greatest in the world.
Myself--myself, alas! caused the mischief, and myself alone ought to
suffer for it. You must keep your promise. You must abide by the word you
have given, especially to one who has undergone so much to perform what
you asked him. Sweet face, you must. But oh! see him not till after I am
dead. Let Fortune do with me what she pleases, so that I be saved from a
disgrace like that. It will be a comfort to me in death to think that
I alone, while I was on earth, enjoyed the fond looking of that lovely
face. Nay," concluded the wretched husband, "I feel as though I should
die over again, if I could call to mind in my grave how you were taken
from me."

Iroldo became dumb for anguish. It seemed to him as if his very heart had
been taken out of his breast. Nor was Tisbina less miserable. She was as
pale as death, and could hardly speak to him, or bear to look at him. At
length turning her eyes upon him, she said, "And do you believe I could
make my poor sorry case out in this world without Iroldo? Can he bear,
himself, to think of leaving his Tisbina? he who has so often said, that
if he possessed heaven itself, he should not think it heaven without her?
O dearest husband, there is a way to make death not bitter to either of
us. It is to die together. I must only exist long enough to see Prasildo!
Death, alas! is in that thought; but the same death will release us. It
need not even be a hard death, saving our misery. There are poisons so
gentle in their deadliness, that we need but faint away into sleep, and
so, in the course of a few hours, be delivered. Our misery and our folly
will then alike be ended."

Iroldo assenting, clasped his wife in distraction; and for a long time
they remained in the same posture, half stifled with grief, and bathing
one another's cheeks with their tears. Afterwards they sent quietly for
the poison; and the apothecary made up a preparation in a cup, without
asking any questions; and so the husband and wife took it. Iroldo drank
first, and then endeavoured to give the cup to his wife, uttering not a
word, and trembling in every limb; not because he was afraid of death,
but because he could not bear to ask her to share it. At length, turning
away his face and looking down, he held the cup towards her, and she took
it with a chilled heart and trembling hand, and drank the remainder to
the dregs. Iroldo then covered his face and head, not daring to see her
depart for the house of Prasildo; and Tisbina, with pangs bitterer than
death, left him in solitude.

Tisbina, accompanied by a servant, went to Prasildo, who could scarcely
believe his ears when he heard that she was at the door requesting to
speak with him. He hastened down to shew her all honour, leading her
from the door into a room by themselves; and when he found her in tears,
addressed her in the most considerate and subdued, yet still not unhappy
manner, taking her confusion for bashfulness, and never dreaming what a
tragedy had been meditated.

Finding at length that her grief was not to be done away, he conjured
her by what she held dearest on earth to let him know the cause of it;
adding, that he could still die for her sake, if his death would do her
any service. Tisbina spoke at these words; and Prasildo then heard what
he did not wish to hear. "I am in your hands," answered she, "while I
am yet alive. I am bound to my word, but I cannot survive the dishonour
which it costs me, nor, above all, the loss of the husband of my heart.
You also, to whose eyes I have been so welcome, must be prepared for my
disappearance from the earth. Had my affections not belonged to another,
ungentle would have been my heart not to have loved yourself, who are so
capable of loving; but (as you must well know) to love two at once is
neither fitting nor in one's power. It was for that reason I never loved
you, baron; I was only touched with compassion for you; and hence the
miseries of us all. Before this day closes, I shall have learnt the taste
of death." And without further preface she disclosed to him how she and
her husband had taken poison.

Prasildo was struck dumb with horror. He had thought his felicity at
hand, and was at the same instant to behold it gone for ever. She who was
rooted in his heart, she who carried his life in her sweet looks, even
she was sitting there before him, already, so to speak, dead.

"It has pleased neither Heaven nor you, Tisbina," exclaimed the unhappy
young man, "to put my best feelings to the proof. Often have two lovers
perished for love; the world will now behold a sacrifice of three. Oh,
why did you not make a request to me in your turn, and ask me to free you
from your promise? You say you took pity on me! Alas, cruel one, confess
that you have killed yourself, in order to kill me. Yet why? Never did I
think of giving you displeasure; and I now do what I would have done at
any time to prevent it, I absolve you from your oath. Stay, or go this
instant, as it seems best to you."

A stronger feeling than compassion moved the heart of Tisbina at these
words. "This indeed," replied she, "I feel to be noble; and truly could
I also now die to save you. But life is flitting; and how may I prove my

Prasildo, who had in good earnest resolved that three instead of two
should perish, experienced such anguish at the extraordinary position in
which he found all three, that even her sweet words came but dimly to his
ears. He stood like a man stupified; then begged of her to give him but
one kiss, and so took his leave without further ado, only intimating that
her way out of the house lay before her. As he spake, he removed himself
from her sight.

Tisbina reached home. She found her husband with his head covered up as
she left him; but when she recounted what had passed, and the courtesy of
Prasildo, and how he had exacted from her but a single kiss, Iroldo got
up, and removed the covering from his face, and then clasping his hands,
and raising it to heaven, he knelt with grateful humility, and prayed God
to give pardon to himself, and reward to his neighbour. But before he had
ended, Tisbina sunk on the floor in a swoon. Her weaker frame was the
first to undergo the effects of what she had taken. Iroldo felt icy chill
to see her, albeit she seemed to sleep sweetly. Her aspect was not at all
like death. He taxed Heaven with cruelty for treating two loving hearts
so hardly, and cried out against Fortune, and life, and Love itself.

Nor was Prasildo happier in his chamber. He also exclaimed against the
bitter tyrant "whom men call Love;" and protested, that he would gladly
encounter any fate, to be delivered from the worse evils of his false and
cruel ascendency.

But his lamentations were interrupted. The apothecary who sold the potion
to the husband and wife was at the door below, requesting to speak with
him. The servants at first had refused to carry the message; but the old
man persisting, and saying it was a matter of life and death, entrance
for him into his master's chamber was obtained. "Noble sir," said the
apothecary, "I have always held you in love and reverence. I have
unfortunately reason to fear that somebody is desiring your death. This
morning a handmaiden of the lady Tisbina applied to me for a secret
poison; and just now it was told me, that the lady herself had been at
this house. I am old, sir, and you are young; and I warn you against the
violence and jealousies of womankind. Talk of their flames of love! Satan
himself burn them, say I, for they are fit for nothing better. Do not be
too much alarmed, however, this time: for in truth I gave the young woman
nothing of the sort that she asked for, but only a draught so innocent,
that if you have taken it, it will cost you but four or five hours'
sleep. So, in God's name, give up the whole foolish sex; for you may
depend on it, that in this city of ours there are ninety-nine wicked ones
among them to one good."

You may guess how Prasildo's heart revived at these words. Truly might he
be compared to flowers in sunshine after rain; he rejoiced through all
his being, and displayed again a cheerful countenance. Hastily thanking
the old man, he lost no time in repairing to the house of his neighbours,
and telling them of their safety: and you may guess how the like joy was
theirs. But behold a wonder! Iroldo was so struck with the generosity
of his neighbour's conduct throughout the whole of this extraordinary
affair, that nothing would content his grateful though ever-grieving
heart, but he must fairly give up Tisbina after all. Prasildo, to do him
justice, resisted the proposition as stoutly as he could; but a man's
powers are ill seconded by an unwilling heart; and though the contest was
long and handsome, as is customary between generous natures, the husband
adhered firmly to his intention. In short, he abruptly quitted the city,
declaring that he would never again see it, and so left his wife to the
lover. And I must add (concluded the fair lady who was telling the story
to Rinaldo), that although Tisbina took his departure greatly to heart,
and sometimes felt as if she should die at the thoughts of it, yet since
he persisted in staying away, and there appeared no chance of his ever
doing otherwise, she did, as in that case we should all do, we at least
that are young and kind, and took the handsome Prasildo for second


The conclusion of this part of the history of Iroldo and Prasildo was
scarcely out of the lady's mouth, when a tremendous voice was heard among
the trees, and Rinaldo found himself confronting a giant of a frightful
aspect, who with a griffin on each side of him was guarding a cavern
that contained the enchanted horse which had belonged to the brother of
Angelica. A combat ensued; and after winning the horse, and subsequently
losing the company of the lady, the Paladin, in the course of his
adventures, came upon a knight who lay lamenting in a green place by a
fountain. The knight heeding nothing but his grief, did not perceive the
new comer, who for some time remained looking at him in silence, till,
desirous to know the cause of his sorrow, he dismounted from his horse,
and courteously begged to be informed of it. The stranger in his turn
looked a little while in silence at Rinaldo, and then told him he had
resolved to die, in order to be rid of a life of misery. And yet, he
added, it was not his own lot which grieved him, so much as that of a
noble friend who would die at the same time, and who had nobody to help

The knight, who was no other than Tisbina's husband Iroldo, then briefly
related the events which the reader has heard, and proceeded to state how
he lead traversed the world ever since for two years, when it was his
misfortune to arrive in the territories of the enchantress Falerina,
whose custom it was to detain foreigners in prison, and daily give a
couple of them (a lady and a cavalier) for food to a serpent which kept
the entrance of her enchanted garden. To this serpent he himself was
destined to be sacrificed, when Prasildo, the possessor of his wife
Tisbina, hearing of his peril, set out instantly from Babylon, and rode
night and day till he came to the abode of the enchantress, determined
that nothing should hinder him from doing his utmost to save the life of
a friend so generous. Save it he did, and that by a generosity no less
devoted; for having attempted in vain to bribe the keeper of the prison,
he succeeded in prevailing on the man to let him substitute himself for
his friend; and he was that very day, perhaps that very moment, preparing
for the dreadful death to which he would speedily be brought.

"I will not survive such a friend," concluded Iroldo. "I know I shall
contend with his warders to no purpose; but let the wretches come, if
they will, by thousands; I shall fight them to the last gasp. One comfort
in death, one joy I shall at all events experience. I shall be with
Prasildo in the other world. And yet when I think what sort of death he
must endure, even the release from my own miseries afflicts me, since it
will not prevent him from undergoing that horror."

The Paladin shed tears to hear of a case so piteous and affectionate, and
in a tone of encouragement offered his services towards the rescue of his
friend. Iroldo looked at him in astonishment, but sighed and said, "Ah,
Sir, I thank you with all my heart, and you are doubtless a most noble
cavalier, to be so fearless and good-hearted; but what right have I to
bring you to destruction for no reason and to no purpose? There is not
a man on earth but Orlando himself, or his cousin Rinaldo, who could
possibly do us any good; and so I beg you to accept my thanks and depart
in safety, and may God reward you."

"It is true," replied the Paladin, "I am not Orlando; and yet, for all
that, I doubt not to be able to effect what I propose. Nor do I offer my
assistance out of desire of glory, or of thanks, or return of any kind;
except indeed, that if two such unparalleled friends could admit me to be
a third, I should hold myself a happy man. What! you have given up the
woman of your heart, and deprived yourself of all joy and comfort; and
your friend, on the other hand, has become a prisoner and devoted to
death, for your sake; and can I be expected to leave two such friends in
a jeopardy so monstrous, and not do all in my power to save them? I would
rather die first myself, and on your own principle; I mean, in order to
go with you into a better world."

While they were talking in this manner, a great ill-looking rabble,
upwards of a thousand strong, made their appearance, carrying a banner,
and bringing forth two prisoners to die. The wretches were armed after
their disorderly fashion; and the prisoners each tied upon a horse. One
of these hapless persons too surely was Prasildo; and the other turned
out to be the damsel who had told Rinaldo the story of the friends.
Having been deprived of the Paladin's assistance, her subsequent
misadventures had brought her to this terrible pass. The moment Rinaldo
beheld her, he leaped on his horse, and dashed among the villains. The
sight of such an onset was enough for their cowardly hearts. The whole
posse fled before him with precipitation, all except the leader, who was
a villain of gigantic strength; and him the Paladin, at one blow, clove
through the middle. Iroldo could not speak for joy, as he hastened to
release Prasildo. He was forced to give him tears instead of words. But
when speech at length became possible, the two friends, fervently and
with a religious awe, declared that their deliverer must have been divine
and not human, so tremendous was the death-blow he had given the ruffian,
and such winged and contemptuous slaughter he had dealt among the
fugitives. By the time he returned from the pursuit, their astonishment
had risen to such a pitch, that they fell on their knees and worshipped
him for the Prophet of the Saracens, not believing such prowess possible
to humanity, and devoutly thanking him for the mercy he had shewn them in
coming thus visibly from heaven. Rinaldo for the moment was not a little
disturbed at this sally of enthusiasm; but the singular good faith and
simplicity of it restored him to himself; and with a smile between
lovingness and humility he begged them to lay aside all such fancies, and
know him for a man like themselves. He then disclosed himself for the
Rinaldo of whom they had spoken, and made such an impression on them with
his piety, and his attributing what had appeared a superhuman valour to
nothing but his belief in the Christian religion, that the transported
friends became converts on the spot, and accompanied him thenceforth as
the most faithful of his knights.

       *       *       *       *       *

The story tells us nothing further of Tisbina, though there can be no
doubt that Boiardo meant to give us the conclusion of her share in it;
for the two knights take an active part in the adventures of their new
friend Rinaldo. Perhaps, however, the discontinuance of the poem itself
was lucky for the author, as far as this episode was concerned; for it
is difficult to conceive in what manner he would have wound it up to the
satisfaction of the reader.

[Footnote 1: The hero and heroine of the famous romance of _Tristan de

[Footnote 2: "Mr. Rose observes, that Medusa may be designed by Boiardo
as the 'type of conscience;' and he is confirmed in his opinion by the
circumstance mentioned in this canto (12, lib. i. stan. 39) of Medusa not
being able to contemplate the reflection of her own hideous appearance,
though beautiful in the sight of others. I fully agree with
him."--PANIZZI, _ut sup_. Vol. iii p. 333.]

[Footnote 3: "Tisbina," says Panizzi, in a note on this passage, "very
wisely acted like Emilia (in Chaucer), who, when she saw she could not
marry Arcita, because he was killed, thought of marrying Palemone, rather
than 'be a mayden all hire lyf.' It is to be observed, that although she
regretted very much what had happened, and even fainted away, she did
not, however, stand on ceremonies, as the poet says in the next stanza,
but yielded immediately, and married Prasildo. This, at first, I thought
to be a somewhat inconsistent; but on consideration I found I was wrong.
Tisbina was wrong; because, having lost Iroldo, she did not know what
Prasildo would do; but so soon as the latter offered to fill up the
place, she nobly and magnanimously resigned herself to her fate."--_Ut
sup_. vol. iii. p. 336.

It might be thought inconsistent in Tisbina, notwithstanding Mr.
Panizzi's pleasantry, to be so willing to take another husband, after
having poisoned herself for the first; but she seems intended by the poet
to exhibit a character of impulse in contradistinction to permanency of
sentiment. She cannot help shewing pity for Prasildo; she cannot help
poisoning herself for her husband; and she cannot help taking his friend,
when she has lost him. Nor must it be forgotten, that the husband was the
first to break the tie. We respect him more than we do her, because he
was capable of greater self-denial; but if he himself preferred his
friend to his love, we can hardly blame her (custom apart) for following
the example.]



A lady has two suitors, a young and an old one, the latter of whom wins
her against her inclinations by practising the artifice of Hippomanes in
his race with Atalanta. Being very jealous, he locks her up in a tower;
and the youth, who continued to be her lover, makes a subterraneous
passage to it; and pretending to have married her sister, invites the old
man to his house, and introduces his own wife to him as the bride. The
husband, deceived, but still jealous, facilitates their departure out of
the country, and returns to his tower to find himself deserted.

This story, like that of the _Saracen Friends_, is told by a damsel to a
knight while riding in his company; with this difference, that she is the
heroine of it herself. She is a damsel of a nature still lighter than the
former; and the reader's sympathy with the trouble she brings on herself,
and the way she gets out of it, will be modified accordingly. On the
other hand, nobody can respect the foolish old man with his unwarrantable
marriage; and the moral of Boiardo's story is still useful for these
"enlightened times," though conveyed with an air of levity.

In addition to the classics, the poet has been to the Norman fablers for
his story. The subterranean passage has been more than once repeated in
romance; and the closing incident, the assistance given by the husband
to his wife's elopement, has been imitated in the farce of _Lionel and


My father (said the damsel) is King of the Distant Islands, where the
treasure of the earth is collected. Never was greater wealth known, and I
was heiress of it all.

But it is impossible to foresee what is most to be desired for us in this
world. I was a king's daughter, I was rich, I was handsome, I was lively;
and yet to all those advantages I owed my ill-fortune.

Among other suitors for my hand there came two on the same day, one of
whom was a youth named Ordauro, handsome from head to foot; the other an
old man of seventy, whose name was Folderico. Both were rich and of noble
birth; but the greybeard was counted extremely wise, and of a foresight
more than human. As I did not feel in want of his foresight, the youth
was far more to my taste; and accordingly I listened to him with perfect
good-will, and gave the wise man no sort of encouragement. I was not at
liberty, however, to determine the matter; my father had a voice in it;
so, fearing what he would advise, I thought to secure a good result by
cunning and management. It is an old observation, that the craft of a
woman exceeds all other craft. Indeed, it is Solomon's own saying. But
now-a-days people laugh at it; and I found to my cost that the laugh is
just. I requested my father to proclaim, first, that nobody should have
me in marriage who did not surpass me in swiftness (for I was a damsel of
a mighty agility); and secondly, that he who did surpass me should be my
husband. He consented, and I thought my happiness secure. You must know,
I have run down a bird, and caught it with my own hand.

Well, both my suitors came to the race; the youth on a large war-horse,
trapped with gold, which curvetted in a prodigious manner, and seemed
impatient for a gallop; the old roan on a mule, carrying a great bag at
his side, and looking already tired out. They dismounted on the place
chosen for the trial, which was a meadow. It was encircled by a world of
spectators; and the greybeard and myself (for his age gave him the first
chance) only waited for the sound of the trumpet to set off.

I held my competitor in such contempt, that I let him get the start of
me, on purpose to make him ridiculous; but I was not prepared for his
pulling a golden apple out of his bag, and throwing it as far as he could
in a direction different from that of the goal. The sight of a curiosity
so tempting was too much for my prudence; and it rolled away so roundly,
and to such a distance, that I lost more time in reaching it than I
looked for. Before I overtook the old gentleman, he threw another apple,
and this again led me a chase after it. In short, I blush to say, that,
resolved as I was to be tempted no further, seeing that the end of our
course was now at hand, and my marriage with an old man instead of a
young man was out of the question, he seduced me to give chase to a
third apple, and fairly reached the goal before me. I wept for rage and
disgust, and meditated every species of unconjugal treatment of the old
fox. What right had he to marry such a child as I was? I asked myself the
question at the time; I asked it a thousand times afterwards; and I must
confess, that the more I have tormented him, the more the retaliation
delights me.

However, it was of no use at the moment. The old wretch bore me off
to his domains with an ostentatious triumph; and then, his jealousy
misgiving him, he shut me up in a castle on a rock, where he endeavoured
from that day forth to keep me from the sight of living being. You may
judge what sort of castle it was by its name--_Altamura_ (lofty wall). It
overlooked a desert on three sides, and the sea on the fourth; and a man
might as well have flown as endeavoured to scale it. There was but one
path up to the entrance, very steep and difficult; and when you were
there, you must have pierced outwork after outwork, and picked the lock
of gate after gate. So there sat I in this delicious retreat, hopeless,
and bursting with rage. I called upon death day and night, as my only
refuge. I had no comfort but in seeing my keeper mad with jealousy, even
in that desolate spot. I think he was jealous of the very flies.

My handsome youth, Ordauro, however, had not forgotten me; no, nor even
given me up. Luckily he was not only very clever, but rich besides;
without which, to be sure, his brains would not have availed him a pin.
What does he do, therefore, but take a house in the neighbourhood on the
sea-shore; and while my tormentor, in alarm and horror, watches every
movement, and thinks him coming if he sees a cloud or a bird, Ordauro
sets people secretly to work night and day, and makes a subterraneous
passage up to the very tower! Guess what I felt when I saw him enter!
Assuredly I did not show him the face which I shewed Folderico. I
die with joy this moment to think of my delight. As soon as we could
discourse of any thing but our meeting, Ordauro concerted measures for my
escape; and the greatest difficulty being surmounted by the subterraneous
passage, they at last succeeded. But our enemy gave us a frightful degree
of trouble.

There was no end of the old man's pryings, peepings, and precautions.
He left me as little as possible by myself; and he had all the coast
thereabouts at his command, together with the few boats that ever touched

Ordauro, however, did a thing at once the most bold and the most
ingenious. He gave out that he was married; and inviting my husband to
dinner, who had heard the news with transport, presented me, to his
astonished eyes, for the bride. The old man looked as if he would have
died for rage and misery.

"Horrible villain!" cried he," what is this?"

Ordauro professed astonishment in his turn.

"What!" asked he; "do you not know that the princess, your lady's sister,
is wonderfully like her, and that she has done me the honour of becoming
my wife? I invited you in order to do honour to yourself, and so bring
the good families together."

"Detestable falsehood!" cried Folderico. "Do you think I'm blind, or a
born idiot? But I'll see to this business directly; and terrible shall be
my revenge."

So saying, he flung out, and hastened, as fast as age would let him, to
the room in the tower, where he expected to find me not. But there he did
find me:--there was I, sitting as if nothing had happened, with my hand
on my cheek, and full of my old melancholy.

"God preserve me!" exclaimed he; "this is astonishing indeed! Never could
I have dreamt that one sister could be so like another! But is it so, or
is it not? I have terrible suspicions. It is impossible to believe it.
Tell me truly," he continued; "answer me on the faith of a daring woman,
and you shall get no hurt by it. Has any one opened the portals for you
to-day? Who was it? How did you get out? Tell me the truth, and you shall
not suffer for it; but deceive me, and there is no punishment that you
may not look for."

It is needless to say how I vowed and protested that I had never stirred;
that it was quite impossible; that I could not have done it if I would,
&c. I took all the saints to witness to my veracity, and swore I had
never seen the outside of his tremendous castle.

The monster had nothing to say to this; but I saw what he meant to do--I
saw that he would return instantly to the house of Ordauro, and ascertain
if the bride was there. Accordingly, the moment he turned the key on me,
I flew down the subterraneous passage, tossed on my new clothes like
lightning, and sat in my lover's house as before, waiting the arrival of
the panting old gentleman.

"Well," exclaimed he, as soon as he set eyes upon me, "never in all my
life--no--I must allow it to be impossible--never can my wife at home be
the lady sitting here."

From that day forth the old man, whenever he saw me in Ordauro's house,
treated me as if I were indeed his sister-in-law, though he never had the
heart to bring the two wives together, for fear of old recollections.
Nevertheless, this state of things was still very perilous; and my new
husband and myself lost no time in considering how we should put an end
to it by leaving the country. Ordauro resorted, as before, to a bold
expedient. He told Folderico that the air of the sea-coast disagreed
with him; and the old man, whose delight at getting rid of his neighbour
helped to blind him to the deceit, not only expedited the movement, but
offered to see him part of the way on his journey!

The offer was accepted. Six miles he rode forth with us, the stupid old
man; and then, taking his leave, to return home, we pushed our horses
like lightning, and so left him to tear his hair and his old beard with
cries and curses, as soon as he opened the door of his tower.


Critical Notice of his Life and Genius.




The congenial spirits of Pulci and Boiardo may be said to have attained
to their height in the person of Ariosto, upon the principle of a
transmigration of souls, or after the fashion of that hero in romance,
who was heir to the bodily strengths of all whom he conquered.

Lodovico Giovanni Ariosto was born on the 8th of September, 1474, in the
fortress at Reggio, in Lombardy, and was the son of Niccolò Ariosto,
captain of that citadel (as Boiardo had been), and Daria Maleguzzi,
whose family still exists. The race was transplanted from Bologna in the
century previous, when Obizzo the Third of Este, Marquess of Ferrara,
married a lady belonging to it, whose Christian name was Lippa. Niccolò
Ariosto, besides holding the same office as Boiardo had done, at Modena
as well as at Reggio, was master of the household to his two successive
patrons, the Dukes Borso and Ercole. He was also employed, like him,
in diplomacy; and was made a count by the Emperor Frederick the Third,
though not, it seems, with remainder to his heirs.

Lodovico was the eldest of ten children, five sons and five daughters.
During his boyhood, theatrical entertainments were in great vogue at
court, as we have seen in the life of Boiardo; and at the age of twelve,
a year after the decease of that poet (who must have been well known to
him, and probably encouraged his attempts), his successor is understood
to have dramatised, after his infant fashion, the story of Pyramus and
Thisbe, and to have got his brothers and sisters to perform it. Panizzi
doubts the possibility of these precocious private theatricals; but
considering what is called "writing" on the part of children, and that
only one other performer was required in the piece, or at best a third
for the lion (which some little brother might have "roared like any
sucking-dove"), I cannot see good reason for disbelieving the story. Pope
was not twelve years old when he turned the siege of Troy into a play,
and got his school-fellows to perform it, the part of Ajax being given to
the gardener. Man is a theatrical animal ([Greek: zoon mimaetikon]), and
the instinct is developed at a very early period, as almost every family
can witness that has taken its children to the "playhouse."

At fifteen the young poet, like so many others of his class, was
consigned to the study of the law, and took a great dislike to it. The
extreme mobility of his nature, and the wish to please his father, appear
to have made him enter on it willingly enough in the first instance;[2]
but as soon as he betrayed symptoms of disgust, Niccolò, whose affairs
were in a bad way, drove him back to it with a vehemence which must have
made bad worse.[3] At the expiration of five years he was allowed to give
it up.

There is reason to believe that Ariosto was "theatricalising" during
no little portion of this time; for, in his nineteenth year, he is
understood to have been taken by Duke Ercole to Pavia and to Milan,
either as a writer or performer of comedies, probably both, since the
courtiers and ducal family themselves occasionally appeared on the stage;
and one of the poet's brothers mentions his having frequently seen him
dressed in character.[4]

On being delivered from the study of the law, the young poet appears
to have led a cheerful and unrestrained life for the next four or five

He wrote, or began to write, the comedy of the _Cassaria_; probably
meditated some poem in the style of Boiardo, then in the height of his
fame; and he cultivated the Latin language, and intended to learn Greek,
but delayed, and unfortunately missed it in consequence of losing his
tutor. Some of his happiest days were passed at a villa, still possessed
by the Maleguzzi family, called La Mauriziana, two miles from Reggio.
Twenty-five years afterwards he called to mind, with sighs, the pleasant
spots there which used to invite him to write verses; the garden, the
little river, the mill, the trees by the water-side, and all the other
shady places in which he enjoyed himself during that sweet season of his
life "betwixt April and May."[5] To complete his happiness, he had a
friend and cousin, Pandolfo Ariosto, who loved every thing that he loved,
and for whom he augured a brilliant reputation.

But a dismal cloud was approaching. In his twenty-first year he lost
his father, and found a large family left on his hands in narrow
circumstances. The charge was at first so heavy, especially when
aggravated by the death of Pandolfo, that he tells us he wished to die.
He took to it manfully, however, in spite of these fits of gloom; and he
lived to see his admirable efforts rewarded; his brothers enabled to seek
their fortunes, and his sisters properly taken care of. Two of them, it
seems, had become nuns. A third married; and a fourth remained long in
his house. It is not known what became of the fifth.

In these family-matters the anxious son and brother was occupied for
three or four years, not, however, without recreating himself with his
verses, Latin and Italian, and recording his admiration of a number of
goddesses of his youth. He mentions, in particular, one of the name of
Lydia, who kept him often from "his dear mother and household," and
who is probably represented by the princess of the same name in the
_Orlando_, punished in the smoke of Tartarus for being a jilt and
coquette.[6] His friend Bembo, afterwards the celebrated cardinal,
recommended him to be blind to such little immaterial points as ladies'
infidelities. But he is shocked at the advice. He was far more of
Othello's opinion than Congreve's in such matters; and declared, that he
would not have shared his mistress' good-will with Jupiter himself.[7]

Towards the year 1504, the poet entered the service of the unworthy
prince, Cardinal Ippolito of Este, brother of the new Duke of Ferrara,
Alfonso the First. His eminence, who had been made a prince of the church
at thirteen years of age by the infamous Alexander the Sixth (Borgia),
was at this period little more than one-and-twenty; but he took an active
part in the duke's affairs, both civil and military, and is said to
have made himself conspicuous in his father's lifetime for his vices and
brutality. He is charged with having ordered a papal messenger to be
severely beaten for bringing him some unpleasant despatches: which so
exasperated his unfortunate parent, that he was exiled to Mantua; and the
marquess of that city, his brother-in-law, was obliged to come to Ferrara
to obtain his pardon. But this was a trifle compared with what he
is accused of having done to one of his brothers. A female of their
acquaintance, in answer to a speech made her by the reverend gallant, had
been so unlucky as to say that she preferred his brother Giulio's eyes
to his eminence's whole body: upon which the monstrous villain hired two
ruffians to put out his brother's eyes; some say, was present at the
attempt. Attempt only it fortunately turned out to be, at least in part;
the opinion being, that the sight of one of the eyes was preserved.[8]

Party-spirit has so much to do with stories of princes, and princes are
so little in a condition to notice them, that, on the principle of
not condemning a man till he has been heard in his defence, an honest
biographer would be loath to credit these horrors of Cardinal Ippolito,
did not the violent nature of the times, and the general character of the
man, even with his defenders, incline him to do so. His being a soldier
rather than a churchman was a fault of the age, perhaps a credit to the
man, for he appears to have had abilities for war, and it was no crime of
his if he was put into the church when a boy. But his conduct to Ariosto
shewed him coarse and selfish; and those who say all they can for him
admit that he was proud and revengeful, and that nobody regretted him
when he died. He is said to have had a taste for mathematics, as his
brother had for mechanics. The truth seems to be, that he and the duke,
who lived in troubled times, and had to exert all their strength to
hinder Ferrara from becoming a prey to the court of Rome, were clever,
harsh men, of no grace or elevation of character, and with no taste but
for war; and if it had not been for their connexion with Ariosto, nobody
would have heard of them, except while perusing the annals of the time.
Ippolito might have been, and probably was, the ruffian which the
anecdote of his brother Giulio represents him; but the world would have
heard little of the villany, had he not treated a poet with contempt.

The admirers of our author may wonder how he could become the servant of
such a man, much more how he could praise him as he did in the great work
which he was soon to begin writing. But Ariosto was the son of a man who
had passed his life in the service of the family; he had probably been
taught a loyal blindness to its defects; gratuitous panegyrics of princes
had been the fashion of men of letters since the time of Augustus; and
the poet wanted help for his relatives, and was of a nature to take
the least show of favour for a virtue, till he had learnt, as he
unfortunately did, to be disappointed in the substance. It is not known
what his appointment was under the cardinal. Probably he was a kind of
gentleman of all work; an officer in his guards, a companion to amuse,
and a confidential agent for the transaction of business. The employment
in which he is chiefly seen is that of an envoy, but he is said also to
have been in the field of battle; and he intimates in his _Satires_,
that household attentions were expected of him which he was not quick
to offer, such as pulling off his eminence's boots, and putting on
his spurs.[9] It is certain that he was employed in very delicate
negotiations, sometimes to the risk of his life from the perils of roads
and torrents. Ippolito, who was a man of no delicacy, probably made use
of him on every occasion that required address, the smallest as well
as greatest,--an interview with a pope one day, and a despatch to a
dog-fancier the next.

His great poem, however, proceeded. It was probably begun before he
entered the cardinal's service; certainly was in progress during the
early part of his engagement. This appears from a letter written to
Ippolito by his sister the Marchioness of Mantua, to whom he had sent
Ariosto at the beginning of the year 1509 to congratulate her on the
birth of a child. She gives her brother special thanks for sending his
message to her by "Messer Ludovico Ariosto," who had made her, she says,
pass two delightful days, with giving her an account of the poem he was
writing.[10] Isabella was the name of this princess; and the grateful
poet did not forget to embalm it in his verse.[11]

Ariosto's latest biographer, Panizzi, thinks he never served under any
other leader than the cardinal; but I cannot help being of opinion with a
former one, whom he quotes, that he once took arms under a captain of the
name of Pio, probably a kinsman of his friend Alberto Pio, to whom he
addresses a Latin poem. It was probably on occasion of some early disgust
with the cardinal; but I am at a loss to discover at what period of time.
Perhaps, indeed, he had the cardinal's permission, both to quit his
service, and return to it. Possibly he was not to quit it at all, except
according to events; but merely had leave given him to join a party in
arms, who were furthering Ippolito's own objects. Italy was full of
captains in arms and conflicting interests. The poet might even, at some
period of his life, have headed a troop under another cardinal, his
friend Giovanni de' Medici, afterwards Leo the Tenth. He had certainly
been with him in various parts of Italy; and might have taken part in
some of his bloodless, if not his most military, equitations.

Be this as it may, it is understood that Ariosto was present at the
repulse given to the Venetians by Ippolito, when they came up the river
Po against Ferrara towards the close of the year 1509; though he was away
from the scene of action at his subsequent capture of their flotilla, the
poet having been despatched between the two events to Pope Julius the
Second on the delicate business of at once appeasing his anger with the
duke for resisting his allies, and requesting his help to a feudatary of
the church. Julius was in one of his towering passions at first, but
gave way before the address of the envoy, and did what he desired. But
Ariosto's success in this mission was nearly being the death of him in
another; for Alfonso having accompanied the French the year following
in their attack on Vicenza, where they committed cruelties of the same
horrible kind as have shocked Europe within a few months past,[12] the
poet's tongue, it was thought, might be equally efficacious a second
time; but Julius, worn out of patience with his too independent vassal,
who maintained an alliance with the French when the pope had ceased to
desire it, was to be appeased no longer. He excommunicated Alfonso, and
threatened to pitch his envoy into the Tiber; so that the poet was fain
to run for it, as the duke himself was afterwards, when he visited Rome
to be absolved. Would Julius have thus treated Ariosto, could he have
foreseen his renown? Probably he would. The greater the opposition to the
will, the greater the will itself. To chuck an accomplished envoy into
the river would have been much; but to chuck the immortal poet there,
laurels and all, in the teeth of the amazement of posterity, would have
been a temptation irresistible.

It was on this occasion that Ariosto, probably from inability to choose
his times or anodes of returning home, contracted a cough, which is
understood to have shortened his existence; so that Julius may have
killed him after all. But the pope had a worse enemy in his own
bosom--his violence--which killed himself in a much shorter period. He
died in little more than two years afterwards; and the poet's prospects
were all now of a very different sort--at least he thought so; for in
March 1513, his friend Giovanni de' Medici succeeded to the papacy, under
the title of Leo the Tenth.

Ariosto hastened to Rome, among a shoal of visitants, to congratulate the
new pope, perhaps not without a commission from Alfonso to see what he
could do for his native country, on which the rival Medici family never
ceased to have designs. The poet was full of hope, for he had known Leo
under various fortunes; had been styled by him not only a friend, but a
brother; and promised all sorts of participations of his prosperity. Not
one of them came. The visitor was cordially received. Leo stooped from
his throne, squeezed his hand, and kissed him on both his cheeks; but "at
night," says Ariosto, "I went all the way to the Sheep to get my supper,
wet through." All that Leo gave him was a "bull," probably the one
securing to him the profits of his _Orlando;_ and the poet's friend
Bibbiena--wit, cardinal, and kinsman of Berni--facilitated the bull, but
the receiver discharged the fees. He did not get one penny by promise,
pope, or friend.[13] He complains a little, but all in good humour; and
good-naturedly asks what he was to expect, when so many hungry kinsmen
and partisans were to be served first. Well and wisely asked too, and
with a superiority to his fortunes which Leo and Bibbiena might have

It is thought probable, however, that if the poet had been less a friend
to the house of Este, Leo would have kept his word with him, for their
intimacy had undoubtedly been of the most cordial description. But it is
supposed that Leo was afraid he should have a Ferrarese envoy constantly
about him, had he detained Ariosto in Rome. The poet, however, it is
admitted, was not a good hunter of preferment. He could not play the
assenter, and bow and importune: and sovereigns, however friendly they
may have been before their elevation, go the way of most princely flesh
when they have attained it. They like to take out a man's gratitude
beforehand, perhaps because they feel little security in it afterwards.

The elevation to the papacy of the cheerful and indulgent son of Lorenzo
de' Medici, after the troublous reign of Julius, was hailed with delight
by all Christendom, and nowhere more so than in the pope's native place,
Florence. Ariosto went there to see the spectacles; and there, in the
midst of them, he found himself robbed of his heart by the lady whom he
afterwards married. Her name was Alessandra Benucci. She was the widow of
one of the Strozzi family, whom he had known in Ferrara, and he had long
admired her. The poet, who, like Petrarch and Boccaccio, has recorded the
day on which he fell in love, which was that of St. John the Baptist (the
showy saint-days of the south offer special temptations to that effect),
dwells with minute fondness on the particulars of the lady's appearance.
Her dress was black silk, embroidered with two grape-bearing vines
intertwisted; and "between her serene forehead and the path that went
dividing in two her rich and golden tresses," was a sprig of laurel in
bud. Her observer, probably her welcome if not yet accepted lover, beheld
something very significant in this attire; and a mysterious poem, in
which he records a device of a black pen feathered with gold, which he
wore embroidered on a gown of his own, has been supposed to allude to it.
As every body is tempted to make his guess on such occasions, I take the
pen to have been the black-haired poet himself, and the golden feather
the tresses of the lady. Beautiful as he describes her, with a face full
of sweetness, and manners noble and engaging, he speaks most of the
charms of her golden locks. The black gown could hardly have implied her
widowhood: the allusion would not have been delicate. The vine belongs to
dramatic poets, among whom the lover was at that time to be classed, the
_Orlando_ not having appeared. Its duplification intimated another self;
and the crowning laurel was the success that awaited the heroic poet and
the conqueror of the lady's heart.[14]

The marriage was never acknowledged. The husband was in the receipt of
profits arising from church-offices, which put him into the condition of
the fellow of a college with us, who cannot marry so long as he retains
his fellowship: but it is proved to have taken place, though the date of
it is uncertain. Ariosto, in a satire written three or four years after
his falling in love, says he never intends either to marry or to take
orders; because, if he takes orders, he cannot marry; and if he marries,
he cannot take orders--that is to say, must give up his semi-priestly
emoluments. This is one of the falsehoods which the Roman Catholic
religion thinks itself warranted in tempting honest men to fall into;
thus perplexing their faith as to the very roots of all faith, and
tending to maintain a sensual hypocrisy, which can do no good to the
strongest minds, and must terribly injure the weak.

Ariosto's love for this lady I take to have been one of the causes of
dissatisfaction between him and the cardinal. "Fortunately for the poet,"
as Panizzi observes, Ippolito was not always in Ferrara. He travelled
in Italy, and he had an archbishopric in Hungary, the tenure of which
compelled occasional residence. His company was not desired in Rome, so
that he was seldom there. Ariosto, however, was an amusing companion; and
the cardinal seems not to have liked to go anywhere without him. In the
year 1515 he was attended by the poet part of the way on a journey to
Rome and Urbino; but Ariosto fell ill, and had leave to return. He
confesses that his illness was owing to an anxiety of love; and he even
makes an appeal to the cardinal's experience of such feelings; so that it
might seem he was not afraid of Ippolito's displeasure in that direction.
But the weakness which selfish people excuse in themselves becomes a
"very different thing" (as they phrase it) in another. The appeal to the
cardinal's experience might only have exasperated him, in its assumption
of the identity of the case. However, the poet was, at all events, left
this time to the indulgence of his love and his poetry; and in the
course of the ensuing year, a copy of the first edition of the _Orlando
Furioso_, in forty cantos, was put into the hands of the illustrious
person to whom it was dedicated.

The words in which the cardinal was pleased to express himself on this
occasion have become memorable. "Where the devil, Master Lodovick," said
the reverend personage, "have you picked up such a parcel of trumpery?"
The original term is much stronger, aggravating the insult with
indecency. There is no equivalent for it in English; and I shall not
repeat it in Italian. "It is as low and indecent," says Panizzi, "as
any in the language." Suffice it to say that, although the age was not
scrupulous in such matters, it was one of the last words befitting the
lips of the reverend Catholic; and that, when Ippolito of Este
(as Ginguéné observes) made that speech to the great poet, "he
uttered--prince, cardinal, and mathematician as he was--an

Was the cardinal put out of temper by a device which appeared in this
book? On the leaf succeeding the title-page was the privilege for its
publication, granted by Leo in terms of the most flattering personal
recognition.[16] So far so good; unless the unpoetical Este patron was
not pleased to see such interest taken in the book by the tasteful Medici
patron. But on the back of this leaf was a device of a hive, with the
bees burnt out of it for their honey, and the motto, "Evil for good"
(_Pro bono malum_). Most biographers are of opinion that this device was
aimed at the cardinal's ill return for all the sweet words lavished on
him and his house. If so, and supposing Ariosto to have presented the
dedication-copy in person, it would have been curious to see the faces of
the two men while his Eminence was looking at it. Some will think that
the good-natured poet could hardly have taken such an occasion of
displaying his resentment. But the device did not express at whom it was
aimed: the cardinal need not have applied it to himself if he did not
choose, especially as the book was full of his praises; and good-natured
people will not always miss an opportunity of covertly inflicting a
sting. The device, at all events, shewed that the honey-maker had got
worse than nothing by his honey; and the house of Este could not say they
had done any thing to contradict it.

I think it probable that neither the poet's device nor the cardinal's
speech were forgotten, when, in the course of the next year, the parties
came to a rupture in consequence of the servant's refusing to attend his
master into Hungary. Ariosto excused himself on account of the state of
his health and of his family. He said that a cold climate did not agree
with him; that his chest was affected, and could not bear even the stoves
of Hungary; and that he could not, in common decency and humanity, leave
his mother in her old age, especially as all the rest of the family were
away but his youngest sister, whose interests he had also to take care
of. But Ippolito was not to be appeased. The public have seen, in a late
female biography, a deplorable instance of the unfeelingness with which
even a princess with a reputation for religion could treat the declining
health and unwilling retirement of a poor slave in her service, fifty
times her superior in every thing but servility. Greater delicacy was
not to be expected of the military priest. The nobler the servant, the
greater the desire to trample upon him and keep him at a disadvantage. It
is a grudge which rank owes to genius, and which it can only wave when
its possessor is himself "one of God Almighty's gentlemen." I do not mean
in point of genius, which is by no means the highest thing in the world,
whatever its owners may think of it; but in point of the highest of all
things, which is nobleness of heart. I confess I think Ariosto was wrong
in expecting what he did of a man he must have known so well, and in
complaining so much of courts, however good-humouredly. A prince occupies
the station he does, to avert the perils of disputed successions, and
not to be what his birth cannot make him--if nature has not supplied the
materials. Besides, the cardinal, in his quality of a mechanical-minded
man with no taste, might with reason have complained of his servant's
attending to poetry when it was "not in his bond;" when it diverted
him from the only attentions which his employer understood or desired.
Ippolito candidly confessed, as Ariosto himself tells us, that he not
only did not care for poetry, but never gave his attendant one stiver in
patronage of it, or for any thing whatsoever but going his journeys and
doing as he was bidden.[17] On the other hand, the cardinal's payments
were sorry ones; and the poet might with justice have thought, that he
was not bound to consider them an equivalent for the time be was expected
to give up. The only thing to have been desired in this case was, that he
should have said so; and, in truth, at the close of the explanation which
he gave on the subject to his friends at court, he did--boldly desiring
them, as became him, to tell the cardinal, that if his eminence expected
him to be a "serf" for what he received, he should decline the bargain;
and that he preferred the humblest freedom and his studies to a slavery
so preposterous.[18] The truth is, the poet should have attached himself
wholly to the Medici. Had he not adhered to the duller house, he might
have led as happy a life with the pope as Pulci did with the pope's
father; perhaps have been made a cardinal, like his friends Bembo and
Sadolet. But then we might have lost the _Orlando_.

The only sinecure which the poet is now supposed to have retained, was a
grant of twenty-five crowns every four months on the episcopal chancery
of Milan: so, to help out his petty income, he proceeded to enter into
the service of Alfonso, which shews that both the brothers were not angry
with him. He tells us, that he would gladly have had no new master, could
he have helped it; but that, if he must needs serve, he would rather
serve the master of every body else than a subordinate one. At this
juncture he had a brief prospect of being as free as he wished; for an
uncle died leaving a large landed property still known as the Ariosto
lands (_Le Arioste_); but a convent demanded it on the part of one of
their brotherhood, who was a natural son of this gentleman; and a more
formidable and ultimately successful claim was advanced in a court of
law by the Chamber of the Duchy of Ferrara, the first judge in the cause
being the duke's own steward and a personal enemy of the poet's. Ariosto,
therefore, while the suit was going on, was obliged to content himself
with his fees from Milan and a monthly allowance which he received from
the duke of "about thirty-eight shillings," together with provisions
for three servants and two horses. He entered the duke's service in the
spring of 1518, and remained in it for the rest of his life. But it was
not so burden-some as that of the cardinal; and the consequence of the
poet's greater leisure was a second edition of the _Furioso_, in the year
1521, with additions and corrections; still, however, in forty cantos
only. It appears, by a deed of agreement,[19] that the work was printed
at the author's expense; that he was to sell the bookseller one hundred
copies for sixty livres (about 5_l_. 12_s_.) on condition of the book's
not being sold at the rate of more than sixteen sous (1_s_. 8_d_.); that
the author was not to give, sell, or allow to be sold, any copy of the
book at Ferrara, except by the bookseller; that the bookseller, after
disposing of the hundred copies, was to have as many more as he chose on
the same terms; and that, on his failing to require a further supply,
Ariosto was to be at liberty to sell his volumes to whom he pleased.
"With such profits," observes Panizzi, "it was not likely that the poet
would soon become independent;" and it may be added, that he certainly
got nothing by the first edition, whatever he may have done by the
second. He expressly tells us, in the satire which he wrote on declining
to go abroad with Ippolito, that all his poetry had not procured him
money enough to purchase a cloak.[20] Twenty years afterwards, when he
was dead, the poem was in such request, that, between 1542 and 1551,
Panizzi calculates there must have been a sale of it in Europe to the
amount of a hundred thousand copies.[21]

The second edition of the _Furioso_ did not extricate the author from
very serious difficulties; for the next year he was compelled to apply
to either to relieve him from his necessities, or permit him to look for
some employment more profitable than the ducal service. The answer of
this prince, who was now rich, but had always been penurious, and who
never laid out a farthing, if he could help it, except in defence of his
capital, was an appointment of Ariosto to the government of a district in
a state of anarchy, called Garfagnana, which had nominally returned to
his rule in consequence of the death of Leo, who had wrested it from him.
It was a wild spot in the Apennines, on the borders of the Ferrarese and
papal territories. Ariosto was there three years, and is said to have
reduced it to order; but, according to his own account, he had very
doubtful work of it. The place was overrun with banditti, including the
troops commissioned to suppress them. It required a severer governor than
he was inclined to be; and Alfonso did not attend to his requisitions for
supplies. The candid and good-natured poet intimates that the duke might
have given him the appointment rather for the governor's sake than the
people's; and the cold, the loneliness and barrenness of the place, and,
above all, his absence from the object of his affections, oppressed him.
He did not write a verse for twelve months: he says he felt like a bird
moulting[22]. The best thing got out of it was an anecdote for posterity.
The poet was riding out one day with a few attendants--some say walking
out in a fit of absence of mind--when he found himself in the midst of
a band of outlaws, who, in a suspicious manner, barely suffered him
to pass. A reader of Mrs. Radcliffe might suppose them a band of
_condottieri_, under the command of some profligate desperado; and such
perhaps they were. The governor had scarcely gone by, when the leader of
the band, discovering who he was, came riding back with much earnestness,
and making his obeisance to the poet, said, that he never should have
allowed him to pass in that manner had he known him to be the Signor
Ludovico Ariosto, author of the _Orlando Furioso_; that his own name was
Filippo Pacchione (a celebrated personage of his order); and that his men
and himself, so far from doing the Signor displeasure, would have the
honour of conducting him back to his castle. "And so they did," says
Baretti, "entertaining him all along the way with the various excellences
they had discerned in his poem, and bestowing upon it the most rapturous

On his return from Garfagnana, Ariosto is understood to have made several
journeys in Italy, either with or without the duke his master; some of
them to Mantua, where it has been said that he was crowned with laurel by
the Emperor Charles the Fifth. But the truth seems to be, that he only
received a laureate diploma: it does not appear that Charles made him any
other gift. His majesty, and the whole house of Este, and the pope, and
all the other Italian princes, left that to be done by the imperial
general, the celebrated Alfonso Davallos, Marquess of Vasto, to whom he
was sent on some mission by the Duke of Ferrara, and who settled on him
an annuity of a hundred golden ducats; "the only reward," says Panizzi,
"which we find to have been conferred on Ariosto expressly as a
poet."[24] Davallos was one of the conquerors of Francis the First,
young and handsome, and himself a writer of verses. The grateful poet
accordingly availed himself of his benefactor's accomplishments to make
him, in turn, a present of every virtue under the sun. Cæsar was not so
liberal, Nestor so wise, Achilles so potent, Nireus so beautiful, nor
even Ladas, Alexander's messenger, so swift.[25] Ariosto was now verging
towards the grave; and he probably saw in the hundred ducats a golden
sunset of his cares.

Meantime, however, the poet had built a house, which, although small, was
raised with his own money; so that the second edition of the _Orlando_
may have realised some profits at last. He recorded the pleasant fact in
an inscription over the door, which has become celebrated:

  "Parva, sed apta mihi; sed nulli obnoxia; sed non
    Sordida; parta meo sed tamen acre domus."
  Small, yet it suits me; is of no offence;
  Was built, not meanly, at my own expense.

What a pity (to compare great things with small) that he had not as long
a life before him to enjoy it, as Gil Blas had with his own comfortable
quotation over his retreat at Lirias![26]

The house still remains; but the inscription unfortunately became
effaced; though the following one remains, which was added by his son

                 "Sic domus hæc Areostea
  Propitios habeat deos, olim ut Pindarica."

  Dear to the gods, whatever come to pass,
  Be Ariosto's house, as Pindar's was.

This was an anticipation--perhaps the origin--of Milton's sonnet about
his own house, addressed to "Captains and Collonels," during the civil

Davallos made the poet his generous present in the October of the year
1513; and in the same month of the year following the _Orlando_ was
published as it now stands, with various insertions throughout, chiefly
stories, and six additional cantos. Cardinal Ippolito had been dead some
time; and the device of the beehive was exchanged for one of two vipers,
with a hand and pair of shears cutting out their tongues, and the motto,
"Thou hast preferred ill-will to good" (_Dilexisti malitiam super
benignitatem_). The allusion is understood to have been to certain
critics whose names have all perished, unless Sperone (of whom we shall
hear more by and by) was one of them. The appearance of this edition was
eagerly looked for; but the trouble of correcting the press, and the
destruction of a theatre by fire which had been built under the poet's
direction, did his health no good in its rapidly declining condition; and
after suffering greatly from an obstruction, he died, much attenuated, on
the sixth day of June, 1533. His decease, his fond biographers have
told us, took place "about three in the afternoon;" and he was "aged
fifty-eight years, eight months, and twenty-eight days." His body,
according to his direction, was taken to the church of the Benedictines
during the night by four men, with only two tapers, and in the most
private and simple manner. The monks followed it to the grave out of
respect, contrary to their usual custom.

So lived, and so died, and so desired humbly to be buried, one of the
delights of the world.

His son Virginio had erected a chapel in the garden of the house built by
his father, and he wished to have his body removed thither; but the
monks would not allow it. The tomb, at first a very humble one, was
subsequently altered and enriched several times; but remains, I
believe, as rebuilt at the beginning of the century before last by his
grand-nephew, Ludovico Ariosto, with a bust of the poet, and two statues
representing Poetry and Glory.

Ariosto was tall and stout, with a dark complexion, bright black eyes,
black and curling hair, aquiline nose, and shoulders broad but a little
stooping. His aspect was thoughtful, and his gestures deliberate. Titian,
besides painting his portrait, designed that which appeared in the
woodcut of the author's own third edition of his poem, which has been
copied into Mr. Panizzi's. It has all the look of truth of that great
artist's vital hand; but, though there is an expression of the, genial
character of the mouth, notwithstanding the exuberance of beard, it does
not suggest the sweetness observable in one of the medals of Ariosto,
a wax impression of which is now before me; nor has the nose so much
delicacy and grace.[28]

The poet's temperament inclined him to melancholy, but his intercourse
was always cheerful. One biographer says he was strong and
healthy--another, that he was neither. In all probability he was
naturally strong, but weakened by a life full of emotion. He talks of
growing old at forty four, and of leaving been bald for some time.[29] He
had a cough for many years before he died. His son says he cured it by
drinking good old wine. Ariosto says that "vin fumoso" did not agree with
him; but that might only mean wine of a heady sort. The chances, under
such circumstances, were probably against wine of any kind; and Panizzi
thinks the cough was never subdued. His physicians forbade him all sorts
of stimulants with his food.[30]

His temper and habits were those of a man wholly given up to love and
poetry. In his youth he was volatile, and at no time without what is
called some "affair of the heart." Every woman attracted him who had
modesty and agreeableness; and as, at the same time, he was very jealous,
one might imagine that his wife, who had a right to be equally so, would
have led no easy life. But it is evident he could practise very generous
self-denial; and probably the married portion of his existence, supposing
Alessandra's sweet countenance not to have belied her, was happy on both
sides. He was beloved by his family, which is never the case with the
unamiable. Among his friends were most Of the great names of the age,
including a world of ladies, and the whole graceful court of Guidobaldo
da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, for which Catiglione wrote his book of
the _Gentleman (Il Cortegiano)_. Raphael addressed him a sonnet, and
Titian painted his likeness. He knew Vittoria Colonna, and Veronica da
Gambera, and Giulia Gonzaga (whom the Turks would have run away with),
and Ippolita Sforza, the beautiful blue-stocking, who set Bandello on
writing his novels, and Bembo, and Flaminio, and Berni, and Molza, and
Sannazzaro, and the Medici family, and Vida, and Macchiavelli; and nobody
doubts that he might have shone at the court of Leo the brightest of the
bright. But he thought it "better to enjoy a little in peace, than seek
after much with trouble."[31] He cared for none of the pleasures of the
great, except building, and that he was content to satisfy in Cowley's
fashion, with "a small house in a large garden." He was plain in his
diet, disliked ceremony, and was frequently absorbed in thought. His
indignation was roused by mean and brutal vices; but he took a large and
liberal view of human nature in general; and, if he was somewhat free in
his life, must be pardoned for the custom of the times, for his charity
to others, and for the genial disposition which made him an enchanting
poet. Above all, he was an affectionate son; lived like a friend with his
children; and, in spite of his tendency to pleasure, supplied the place
of an anxious and careful father to his brothers and sisters, who
idolized him.

  "Ornabat pietas et grata modestia vatem,"

wrote his brother Gabriel,

  "Sancta fides, dictique memor, munitaque recto
  Justitia, et nullo patientia victa labore,
  Et constans virtus animi, et elementia mitis,
  Ambitione procul pulsa fastûsque tumore;
  Credere uti posses natum felicibus horis,
  Felici fulgente astro Jovis atque Diones."[32]

  Devoted tenderness adorn'd the bard,
  And grateful modesty, and grave regard
  To his least word, and justice arm'd with right,
  And patience counting every labour light,
  And constancy of soul, and meekness too,
  That neither pride nor worldly wishes knew.
  You might have thought him born when there concur
  The sweet star and the strong, Venus and Jupiter.

His son Virginio, and others, have left a variety of anecdotes
corroborating points in his character. I shall give them all, for they
put us into his company. It is recorded, as an instance of his reputation
for honesty, that an old kinsman, a clergyman, who was afraid of being
poisoned for his possessions, would trust himself in no other hands; but
the clergyman was his own grand-uncle and namesake, probably godfather;
so that the compliment is not so very great.

In his youth he underwent a long rebuke one day from his father without
saying a word, though a satisfactory answer was in his power; on which
his brother Gabriel expressing his surprise, he said that he was thinking
all the time of a scene in a comedy he was writing, for which the
paternal lecture afforded an excellent study.

He loved gardening better than he understood it; was always shifting
his plants, and destroying the seeds, out of impatience to see them
germinate. He was rejoicing once on the coming up of some "capers," which
he had been visiting every day to see how they got on, when it turned out
that his capers were elder-trees!

He was perpetually altering his verses. His manuscripts are full of
corrections. He wrote the exordium of the _Orlando_ over and over again;
and at last could only be satisfied with it in proportion as it was not
his own; that is to say, in proportion as it came nearer to the beautiful
passage in Dante from which his ear and his feelings had caught it.[33]

He, however, discovered that correction was not always improvement. He
used to say, it was with verses as with trees. A plant naturally well
growing might be made perfect by a little delicate treatment; but
over-cultivation destroyed its native grace. In like manner, you might
perfect a happily-inspired verse by taking away any little fault of
expression; but too great a polish deprived it of the charm of the first
conception. It was like over-training a naturally graceful child. If it
be wondered how he who corrected so much should succeed so well, even to
an appearance of happy negligence, it is to be considered that the most
impulsive writers often put down their thoughts too hastily, then correct
and re-correct them in the same impatient manner; and so have to bring
them round, by as many steps, to the feeling which they really had at
first, though they were too hasty to do it justice.

Ariosto would have altered his house as often as his verses, but did not
find it so convenient. Somebody wondering that he contented himself with
so small an abode, when he built such magnificent mansions in his poetry,
he said it was easier to put words together than blocks of stone.[34]

He liked Virgil; commended the style of Tibullus; did not care for
Propertius; but expressed high approbation of Catullus and Horace. I
suspect his favourite to have been Ovid. His son says he did not study
much, nor look after books; but this may have been in his decline, or
when Virginio first took to observing him. A different conclusion as to
study is to be drawn from the corrected state of his manuscripts, and the
variety of his knowledge; and with regard to books, he not only mentions
the library of the Vatican as one of his greatest temptations to visit
Rome, but describes himself, with all the gusto of a book-worm, as
enjoying them in his chimney-corner.[35]

To intimate his secrecy in love-matters, he had an inkstand with a
Cupid on it, holding a finger on his lips. I believe it is still in
existence.[36] He did not disclose his mistresses' names, as Dante did,
for the purpose of treating them with contempt; nor, on the other hand,
does he appear to have been so indiscriminately gallant as to be fond of
goitres.[37] The only mistress of whom he complained he concealed in a
Latin appellation; and of her he did not complain with scorn. He had
loved, besides Alessandra Benucci, a lady of the name of Ginevra; the
mother of one of his children is recorded as a certain Orsolina; and that
of the other was named Maria, and is understood to have been a governess
in his father's family.[38]

He ate fast, and of whatever was next him, often beginning with the bread
on the table before the dishes came; and he would finish his dinner with
another bit of bread. "Appetiva le rape," says his good son; videlicet,
he was fond of turnips. In his fourth Satire, he mentions as a favourite
dish, turnips seasoned with vinegar and boiled _must_ (sapa), which
seems, not unjustifiably, to startle Mr. Panizzi.[39] He cared so little
for good eating, that he said of himself, he should have done very well
in the days when people lived on acorns.

A stranger coming in one day at the dinner-hour, he ate up what was
provided for both; saying afterwards, when told of it, that the gentleman
should have taken care of himself. This does not look very polite; but of
course it was said in jest. His son attributed this carelessness at table
to absorption in his studies.

He carried this absence of mind so far, and was at the same time so good
a pedestrian, that Virginio tells us he once walked all the way from
Carpi to Ferrara in his slippers, owing to his having strolled out of
doors in that direction.

The same biographers who describe him as a brave soldier, add, that he
was a timid horseman and seaman; and indeed he appears to have eschewed
every kind of unnecessary danger. It was a maxim of his, to be the last
in going out of a boat. I know not what Orlando would have said to this;
but there is no doubt that the good son and brother avoided no pain in
pursuit of his duty. He more than once risked his life in the service of
government from the perils of travelling among war-makers and banditti.
Imagination finds something worthy of itself on great occasions, but is
apt to discover the absurdity of staking existence on small ones. Ariosto
did not care to travel out of Italy. He preferred, he says, going round
the earth in a map; visiting countries without having to pay innkeepers,
and ploughing harmless seas without thunder and lightning[40].

His outward religion, like the one he ascribed to his friend Cardinal
Bembo, was "that of other people." He did not think it of use to disturb
their belief; yet excused rather than blamed Luther, attributing his
heresy to the necessary consequences of mooting points too subtle for
human apprehension[41]. He found it impossible, however, to restrain his
contempt of bigotry; and, like most great writers in Catholic countries,
was a derider of the pretensions of devotees, and the discords and
hypocrisies of the convent. He evidently laughed at Dante's figments
about the other world; not at the poetry of them, for that he admired,
and sometimes imitated, but at the superstition and presumption. He
turned the Florentine's moon into a depository of non-sense; and found no
hell so bad as the hearts of tyrants. The only other people he put into
the infernal regions are ladies who were cruel to their lovers! He had
a noble confidence in the intentions of his Creator; and died ill the
expectation of meeting his friends again in a higher state of existence.

Of Ariosto's four brothers, one became a courtier at Naples, another a
clergyman, another an envoy to the Emperor Charles the Fifth; and the
fourth, who was a cripple and a scholar, lived with Lodovico, and
celebrated his memory. His two sons, whose names were Virginio and
Gianbattista, and who were illegitimate (the reader is always to bear
in mind the more indulgent customs of Italy in matters of this nature,
especially in the poet's time), became, the first a canon in the
cathedral of Ferrara, and the other an officer in the army. It does not
appear that he had any other children.

Ariosto's renown is wholly founded on the _Orlando Furioso_, though he
wrote satires, comedies, and a good deal of miscellaneous poetry, all
occasionally exhibiting a master-hand. The comedies, however, were
unfortunately modelled on those of the ancients; and the constant
termination of the verse with trisyllables contributes to render them
tedious. What comedies might he not have written, had he given himself up
to existing times and manners[42]!

The satires are rather good-natured epistles to his friends, written with
a charming ease and straightforwardness, and containing much exquisite
sense and interesting autobiography.

On his lyrical poetry he set little value; and his Latin verse is not of
the best order. Critics have expressed their surprise at its inferiority
to that of contemporaries inferior to him in genius; but the reason lay
in the very circumstance. I mean, that his large and liberal inspiration
could only find its proper vent in his own language; he could not be
content with potting up little delicacies in old-fashioned vessels.

The _Orlando Furioso_ is, literally, a continuation of the _Orlando
Innamorato_; so much so, that the story is not thoroughly intelligible
without it. This was probably the reason of a circumstance that would be
otherwise unaccountable, and that was ridiculously charged against him as
a proof of despairing envy by the despairing envy of Sperone; namely, his
never having once mentioned the name of his predecessor. If Ariosto had
despaired of equalling Boiardo, he must have been hopeless of reaching
posterity, in which case his silence must have been useless; and, in
any case, it is clear that he looked on himself as the continuator of
another's narration. But Boiardo was so popular when he wrote, that
the very silence shews he must have thought the mention of his name
superfluous. Still it is curious that he never should have alluded to it
in the course of the poem. It could not have been from any dislike to the
name itself, or the family; for in his Latin poems he has eulogised the
hospitality of the house of Boiardo[43].

The _Furioso_ continued not only what Boiardo did, but what he intended
to do; for as its subject is Orlando's love, and knight-errantry in
general, so its object was to extol the house of Este, and deduce it from
its fabulous ancestor Ruggiero. Orlando is the open, Ruggiero the covert
hero; and almost all the incidents of this supposed irregular poem,
which, as Panizzi has shewn, is one of the most regular in the world, go
to crown with triumph and wedlock the originator of that unworthy race.
This is done on the old groundwork of Charlemagne and his Paladins, of
the treacheries of the house of Gan of Maganza, and of the wars of the
Saracens against Christendom. Bradamante, the Amazonian _intended_ of
Ruggiero, is of the same race as Orlando, and a great overthrower of
infidels. Ruggiero begins with being an infidel himself, and is kept from
the wars, like a second Achilles, by the devices of an anxious guardian,
but ultimately fights, is converted, and marries; and Orlando all the
while slays his thousands, as of old, loves, goes mad for jealousy, is
the foolishest and wisest of mankind (somewhat like the poet himself);
and crowns the glory of Ruggiero, not only by being present at his
marriage, but putting on his spurs with his own hand when he goes forth
to conclude the war by the death of the king of Algiers.

The great charm, however, of the _Orlando Furioso_ is not in its
knight-errantry, or its main plot, or the cunning interweavement of its
minor ones, but in its endless variety, truth, force, and animal spirits;
in its fidelity to actual nature while it keeps within the bounds of the
probable, and its no less enchanting verisimilitude during its wildest
sallies of imagination. At one moment we are in the midst of flesh and
blood like ourselves; at the next with fairies and goblins; at the next
in a tremendous battle or tempest; then in one of the loveliest of
solitudes; then hearing a tragedy, then a comedy; then mystified in some
enchanted palace; then riding, dancing, dining, looking at pictures; then
again descending to the depths of the earth, or soaring to the moon, or
seeing lovers in a glade, or witnessing the extravagances of the great
jealous hero Orlando; and the music of an enchanting style perpetually
attends us, and the sweet face of Angelica glances here and there like
a bud: and there are gallantries of all kinds, and stories endless, and
honest tears, and joyous bursts of laughter, and beardings for all base
opinions, and no bigotry, and reverence for whatsoever is venerable,
and candour exquisite, and the happy interwoven names of "Angelica and
Medoro," young for ever.

But so great a work is not to be dismissed with a mere rhapsody of
panegyric. Ariosto is inferior, in some remarkable respects, to his
predecessors Pulci and Boiardo. His characters, for the most part, do not
interest us as much as theirs by their variety and good fellowship; he
invented none as Boiardo did, with the exception, indeed, of Orlando's,
as modified by jealousy; and he has no passage, I thick, equal in pathos
to that of the struggle at Roncesvalles; for though Orlando's jealousy
is pathetic, as well as appalling, the effects of it are confined to one
person, and disputed by his excessive strength. Ariosto has taken all
tenderness out of Angelica, except that of a kind of boarding-school
first love (which, however, as here-after intimated, may have simplified
and improved her general effect), and he has omitted all that was amusing
in the character of Astolfo. Knight-errantry has fallen off a little
in his hands from its first youthful and trusting freshness; more
sophisticate times are opening upon us; and satire more frequently and
bitterly interferes. The licentious passages (though never gross in
words, like those of his contemporaries,) are not redeemed by sentiment
as in Boiardo; and it seems to me, that Ariosto hardly improved so much
as he might have done Upon his predecessor's imitations of the classics.
I cannot help thinking that, upon the whole, he had better have left them
alone, and depended entirely on himself. Shelley says, he has too much
fighting and "revenge,"[44]--which is true; but the revenge was only
among his knights. He was himself (like my admirable friend) one of the
most forgiving of men; and the fighting was the taste of the age, in
which chivalry was still flourishing in the shape of such men as Bayard,
and ferocity in men like Gaston de Foix. Ariosto certainly did not
anticipate, any more than Shakspeare did, that spirit of human
amelioration which has ennobled the present age. He thought only of
reflecting nature as he found it. He is sometimes even as uninteresting
as he found other people; but the tiresome passages, thank God, all
belong to the house of Este! His panegyrics of Ippolito and his ancestors
recoiled on the poet with a retributive dulness.

But in all the rest there is a wonderful invigoration and enlargement.
The genius of romance has increased to an extraordinary degree in power,
if not in simplicity. Its shoulders have grown broader, its voice louder
and more sustained; and if it has lost a little on the sentimental side,
it has gained prodigiously, not only in animal vigour, but, above all, in
knowledge of human nature, and a brave and joyous candour in shewing it.
The poet takes a universal, an acute, and, upon the whole, a cheerful
view, like the sun itself, of all which the sun looks on; and readers are
charmed to see a knowledge at once so keen and so happy. Herein lies the
secret of Ariosto's greatness; which is great, not because it has the
intensity of Dante, or the incessant thought and passion of Shakspeare,
or the dignified imagination of Milton, to all of whom he is far inferior
in sustained excellence,--but because he is like very Nature herself.
Whether great, small, serious, pleasureable, or even indifferent, he
still has the life, ease, and beauty of the operations of the daily
planet. Even where he seems dull and common-place, his brightness and
originality at other times make it look like a good-natured condescension
to our own common habits of thought and discourse; as though he did it
but on purpose to leave nothing unsaid that could bring him within the
category of ourselves. His charming manner intimates that, instead of
taking thought, he chooses to take pleasure with us, and compare old
notes; and we are delighted that he does us so much honour, and makes, as
it were, Ariostos of us all. He is Shakspearian in going all lengths with
Nature as he found her, not blinking the fact of evil, yet finding a
"soul of goodness" in it, and, at the same time, never compromising the
worth of noble and generous qualities. His young and handsome Medoro is a
pitiless slayer of his enemies; but they were his master's enemies, and
he would have lost his life, even to preserve his dead body. His Orlando,
for all his wisdom and greatness, runs mad for love of a coquette, who
triumphs over warriors and kings, only to fall in love herself with an
obscure lad. His kings laugh with all their hearts, like common people;
his mourners weep like such unaffected children of sorrow, that they must
needs "swallow some of their tears."[45] His heroes, on the arrival of
intelligence that excites them, leap out of bed and write letters before
they dress, from natural impatience, thinking nothing of their "dignity."
When Astolfo blows the magic horn which drives every body out of the
castle of Atlantes, "not a mouse" stays behind;--not, as Hoole and such
critics think, because the poet is here writing ludicrously, but because
he uses the same image seriously, to give an idea of desolation, as
Shakspeare in _Hamlet_ does to give that of silence, when "not a mouse is
stirring." Instead of being mere comic writing, such incidents are in the
highest epic taste of the meeting of extremes,--of the impartial eye with
which Nature regards high and low. So, give Ariosto his hippogriff, and
other marvels with which he has enriched the stock of romance, and Nature
takes as much care of the verisimilitude of their actions, as if she had
made them herself. His hippogriff returns, like a common horse, to the
stable to which he has been accustomed. His enchanter, who is gifted with
the power of surviving decapitation and pursuing the decapitator so long
as a fated hair remains on his head, turns deadly pale in the face when
it is scalped, and falls lifeless from his horse. His truth, indeed, is
so genuine, and at the same time his style is so unaffected, sometimes so
familiar in its grace, and sets us so much at ease in his company, that
the familiarity is in danger of bringing him into contempt with the
inexperienced, and the truth of being considered old and obvious, because
the mode of its introduction makes it seem an old acquaintance. When
Voltaire was a young man, and (to Anglicise a favourite Gallic phrase)
fancied he had _profounded_ every thing deep and knowing, he thought
nothing of Ariosto. Some years afterwards he took him for the first of
grotesque writers, but nothing more. At last he pronounced him equally
"entertaining and sublime, and humbly apologised for his error." Foscolo
quotes this passage from the _Dictionnaire Philosophique_; and adds
another from Sir Joshua Reynolds, in which the painter speaks of a
similar inability on his own part, when young, to enjoy the perfect
nature of Raphael, and the admiration and astonishment which, in his
riper years, he grew to feel for it.[46]

The excessive "wildness" attributed to Ariosto is not wilder than
many things in Homer, or even than some things in Virgil (such as the
transformation of ships into sea-nymphs). The reason why it has been
thought so is, that he rendered them more popular by mixing them with
satire, and thus brought them more universally into notice. One main
secret of the delight they give us is their being poetical comments,
as it were, on fancies and metaphors of our own. Thus, we say of
a suspicious man, that he is suspicion itself; Ariosto turns him
accordingly into an actual being of that name. We speak of the flights of
the poets; Ariosto makes them literally flights--flights on a hippogriff,
and to the moon. The moon, it has been said, makes lunatics; he
accordingly puts a man's wits into that planet. Vice deforms beauty;
therefore his beautiful enchantress turns out to be an old hag. Ancient
defeated empires are sounds and emptiness; therefore the Assyrian and
Persian monarchies become, in his limbo of vanities, a heap of positive
bladders. Youth is headstrong, and kissing goes by favour; so Angelica,
queen of Cathay, and beauty of the world, jilts warriors and kings, and
marries a common soldier.

And what a creature is this Angelica! what effect has she not had upon
the world in spite of all her faults, nay, probably by very reason of
them! I know not whether it has been remarked before, but it appears to
me, that the charm which every body has felt in the story of Angelica
consists mainly in that very fact of her being nothing but a beauty and
a woman, dashed even with coquetry, which renders her so inferior in
character to most heroines of romance. Her interest is founded on nothing
exclusive or prejudiced. It is not addressed to any special class. She
might or might not have been liked by this person or that; but the world
in general will adore her, because nature has made them to adore beauty
and the sex, apart from prejudices right or wrong. Youth will attribute
virtues to her, whether she has them or not; middle-age be unable to help
gazing on her; old-age dote on her. She is womankind itself, in form and
substance; and that is a stronger thing, for the most part, than all our
figments about it. Two musical names, "Angelica and Medoro," have become
identified in the minds of poetical readers with the honeymoon of
youthful passion.

The only false acid insipid fiction I can call to mind in the _Orlando
Furioso_ is that of the "swans" who rescue "medals" from the river of
oblivion (canto xxxv.). It betrays a singular forgetfulness of the poet's
wonted verisimilitude; for what metaphor can reconcile us to swans taking
an interest in medals? Popular belief had made them singers; but it was
not a wise step to convert them into antiquaries.

Ariosto's animal spirits, and the brilliant hurry and abundance of his
incidents, blind a careless reader to his endless particular beauties,
which, though he may too often "describe instead of paint" (on account,
as Foscolo says, of his writing to the many), spew that no man could
paint better when he chose. The bosoms of his females "come and go, like
the waves on the sea-coast in summer airs."[47] His witches draw the fish
out of the water

  "With simple words and a pure warbled spell."[48]

He borrows the word "painting" itself,--like a true Italian and friend
of Raphael and Titian, to express the commiseration in the faces of the
blest for the sufferings of mortality

  "Dipinte di pietade il viso pio."[49]

  Their pious looks painted with tenderness.

Jesus is very finely called, in the same passage, "il sempiterno Amante,"
the eternal Lover. The female sex are the

  "Schiera gentil the pur adorna il mondo."[50]

  The gentle bevy that adorns the world.

He paints cabinet-pictures like Spenser, in isolated stanzas, with a
pencil at once solid and light; as in the instance of the charming one
that tells the story of Mercury and his net; how he watched the Goddess
of Flowers as she issued forth at dawn with her lap full of roses and
violets, and so threw the net over her "one day," and "took her;"

  "un dì lo prese[51]."

But he does not confine himself to these gentle pictures. He has many
as strong as Michael Angelo, some as intense as Dante. He paints the
conquest of America in five words

  "Veggio da diece cacciar mille."[52]
  I see thousands
  Hunted by tens.

He compares the noise of a tremendous battle heard in the neighbourhood
to the sound of the cataracts of the Nile:

  "un alto suon ch' a quel s' accorda
  Con che i vicin' cadendo il Nil assorda."[53]

He "scourges" ships at sea with tempests--say rather the "miserable
seamen;" while night-time grows blacker and blacker on the "exasperated

When Rodomont has plunged into the thick of Paris, and is carrying every
thing before him ("like a serpent that has newly cast his skin, and
goes shaking his three tongues under his eyes of fire"), he makes this
tremendous hero break the middle of the palace-gate into a huge "window,"
and look through it with a countenance which is suddenly beheld by a
crowd of faces as pale as death:

  "E dentro fatto l' ha tanta finestra,
  Che ben vedere e veduto esser puote
  Dai visi impressi di color di morte[55]."

The whole description of Orlando's jealousy and growing madness is
Shakspearian for passion and circumstance, as the reader may see even
in the prose abstract of it in this volume; and his sublimation of a
suspicious king into suspicion itself (which it also contains) is as
grandly and felicitously audacious as any thing ever invented by poet.
Spenser thought so; and has imitated and emulated it in one of his own
finest passages. Ariosto has not the spleen and gall of Dante, and
therefore his satire is not so tremendous; yet it is very exquisite, as
all the world have acknowledged in the instances of the lost things found
in the moon, and the angel who finds Discord in a convent. He does not
take things so much to heart as Chaucer. He has nothing so profoundly
pathetic as our great poet's _Griselda_. Yet many a gentle eye has
moistened at the conclusion of the story of Isabella; and to recur once
more to Orlando's jealousy, all who have experienced that passion will
feel it shake them. I have read somewhere of a visit paid to Voltaire by
an Italian gentleman, who recited it to him, and who (being moved perhaps
by the recollection of some passage in his own history) had the tears all
the while pouring down his cheeks.

Such is the poem which the gracious and good Cardinal Ippolito designated
as a "parcel of trumpery." It had, indeed, to contend with more slights
than his. Like all originals, it was obliged to wait for the death of
the envious and the self-loving, before it acquired a popularity which
surpassed all precedent. Foscolo says, that Macchiavelli and Ariosto,
"the two writers of that age who really possessed most excellence, were
the least praised during their lives. Bembo was approached in a posture
of adoration and fear; the infamous Aretino extorted a fulsome letter of
praises from the great and the learned[56]." He might have added, that
the writer most in request "in the circles" was a gentleman of the name
of Bernardo Accolti, then called the _Unique_, now never heard of.
Ariosto himself eulogised him among a shoal of writers, half of whose
names have perished; and who most likely included in that half the men
who thought he did not praise them enough. For such was the fact! I
allude to the charming invention in his last canto, in which he supposes
himself welcomed home after a long voyage. Gay imitated it very
pleasantly in an address to Pope on the conclusion of his Homer. Some of
the persons thus honoured by Ariosto were vexed, it is said, at not being
praised highly enough; others at seeing so many praised in their company;
some at being left out of the list; and some others at being mentioned at
all! These silly people thought it taking too great a liberty! The poor
flies of a day did not know that a god had taken them in hand to give
them wings for eternity. Happily for them the names of most of these
mighty personages are not known. One or two, however, took care to make
posterity laugh. Trissino, a very great man in his day, and the would-be
restorer of the ancient epic, had the face, in return for the poet's
too honourable mention of him, to speak, in his own absurd verses, of
"Ariosto, with that _Furioso_ of his, which pleases the vulgar:"

  "L' Ariosto
  Con quel _Furioso_ suo the piace al volgo."

"_His_ poem," adds Panizzi, "has the merit of not having pleased any
body[57]." A sullen critic, Sperone (the same that afterwards plagued
Tasso), was so disappointed at being left out, that he became the poet's
bitter enemy. He talked of Ariosto taking himself for a swan and "dying
like a goose" (the allusion was to the fragment he left called the _Five
Cantos_). What has become of the swan Sperone? Bernardo Tasso, Torquato's
father, made a more reasonable (but which turned out to be an unfounded)
complaint, that Ariosto had established a precedent which poets would
find inconvenient. And Macchiavelli, like the true genius he was,
expressed a good-natured and flattering regret that his friend Ariosto
had left him out of his list of congratulators, in a work which was "fine
throughout," and in some places "wonderful[58]."

The great Galileo knew Ariosto nearly by heart[59].

He is a poet whom it may require a certain amount of animal spirits to
relish thoroughly. The _air_ of his verse must agree with you before you
can perceive all its freshness and vitality. But if read with any thing
like Italian sympathy, with allowance for times and manners, and with a
_sense_ as well as _admittance_ of the different kinds of the beautiful
in poetry (two very different things), you will be almost as much charmed
with the "divine Ariosto" as his countrymen have been for ages.

[Footnote 1: The materials for this notice have been chiefly collected
from the poet's own writings (rich in autobiographical intimation)
and from his latest editor Panizzi. I was unable to see this writer's
principal authority, Baruffaldi, till I corrected the proofs and the
press was waiting; otherwise I might have added two or three more
particulars, not, however, of any great consequence. Panizzi is, as
usual, copious and to the purpose; and has, for the first time I believe,
critically proved the regularity and connectedness of Ariosto's plots,
as well as the hollowness of the pretensions of the house of Este to be
considered patrons of literature. It is only a pity that his _Life
of Ariosto is_ not better arranged. I have, of course, drawn my own
conclusions respecting particulars, and sometimes have thought I had
reason to differ with those who have preceded me; but not, I hope, with a
presumption unbecoming a foreigner.]

[Footnote 2: See in his Latin poems the lines beginning, "Hæc me
verbosas suasit perdiscere leges."
_De Diversis Amoribus._]

[Footnote 3:

  "Mio padre mi cacciò con spiedi e lancie," &c.

                                                            _Satira_ vi.

There is some appearance of contradiction in this passage and the one
referred to in the preceding note; but I think the conclusion in the test
the probable one, and that he was not compelled to study the law in the
first instance. He speaks more than once of his father's memory with
great tenderness, particularly in the lines on his death, entitled _De
Nicolao Areosto_.]

[Footnote 4: His brother Gabriel expressly mentions it in his prologue to
the _Scholastica_.]

[Footnote 5:

  "Già mi fur dolci inviti," &c.

                                            _Satira_ v.]

[Footnote 6: See, in the present volume, the beginning of _Astolfo's
Journey to the Moon_.]

[Footnote 7:

  "Me potius fugiat, nullis mollita querelis,
    Dum simulet reliquos Lydia dura procos.
  Parte carere omni malo, quam admittere quemquam
    In partem. Cupiat Juppiter ipse, negem."

                                          _Ad Petrum Bembum._]

[Footnote 8: Panizzi, on the authority of Guicciardini and others. Giulio
and another brother (Ferrante) afterwards conspired against Alfonso and
Ippolito, and, on the failure of their enterprise, were sentenced to be
imprisoned for life. Ferrante died in confinement at the expiration of
thirty-four years; Giulio, at the end of fifty-three, was pardoned. He
came out of prison on horseback, dressed according to the fashion of the
time when he was arrested, and "greatly excited the curiosity of the
people."--_Idem_, vol. i. p xii.]

[Footnote 9:

  "Che debbo fare io qui?
  Agli usatti, agli spron (perch'io son grande)
  Non mi posso adattar, per porne o trarne."
                                                           _Satira_ ii.]

[Footnote 10: "Per la lettera de la S.V. Reverendiss. et a bocha da Ms.
Ludovico Ariosto ho inteso quanta leticia ha conceputa del felice parto
mio: il che mi è stato summamente grato, cussi lo ringrazio de la
visitazione, et particolarmente di havermi mandato il dicto Ms. Ludovico,
per che ultra che mi sia stato acetto, representando la persona de
la S.V. Reverendiss. lui anche per conto suo mi ha addutta gran
satisfazione, havendomi cum la narratione de l'opera the compone facto
passar questi due giorni non solum senza fastidio, ma cum piacer
grandissimo."--Tiraboschi, _Storia della Poesia Italiana_, Matthias'
edition, vol. iii. p. 197.]

[Footnote 11: _Orlando Furioso_, canto xxix, st. 29.]

[Footnote 12: See the horrible account of the suffocated Vicentine
Grottoes, in Sismondi, _Histoire des Republiques Italiennes_, &c vol. iv.
p. 48.]

[Footnote 13:

  "Piegossi a me dalla beata sede;
  La mano e poi le gote ambe mi prese,
  E il santo bacio in amendue mi diede.

  Di mezza quella bolla anco cortese
  Mi fu, della quale ora il mio Bibbiena
  Espedito m'ha il resto alle mie spese.

  Indi col seno e con la falda piena
  Di speme, ma di pioggia molle e brutto,
  La notte andai sin al Montone a cena."               _Sat_. iv.]

[Footnote 14: See _canzone_ the first, "Non so s'io potrò," &c. and the
_copitolo_ beginning "Della mia negra penna in fregio d'oro."]

[Footnote 15: _Histoire Litteraire_, &c. vol. iv. p. 335.]

[Footnote 16:
"Singularis tua et pervetus erga nos familiamque nostrum observantia,
egregiaque bonarum artium et litterarum doctrina, atque in studiis
mitioribus, praesertimque poetices elegans et præclarum ingenium, jure
prope suo a nobis exposcere videntur, ut quae tibi usui futurae sint,
justa praesertim et honesta petenti, ea tibi liberaliter et gratiose
concedamus. Quamobrem," &c. . "On the same page," says Panizzi, "are
mentioned the privileges granted by the king of France, by the republic
of Venice, and other potentates;" so that authors, in those days, appear
to have been thought worthy of profiting by their labours, wherever they
contributed to the enjoyment of mankind.

Leo's privilege is the one that so long underwent the singular obloquy of
being a bull of excommunication against all who objected to the poem! a
misconception on the part of some ignorant man, or misrepresentation by
some malignant one, which affords a remarkable warning against taking
things on trust from one writer after another. Even Bayle (see the
article "Leo X." in his Dictionary) suffered his inclinations to blind
his vigilance.]

[Footnote 17:

    "Apollo, tua mercè, tua mercè, santo
  Collegio delle Muse, io non mi trovo
  Tanto per voi, ch'io possa farmi un manto

    E se 'l signor m'ha dato onde far novo
  Ogni anno mi potrei piu d'un mantello,
  Che mi abbia per voi dato, non approve.

  Egli l' ha detto."
                                                _Satira_ ii.]

[Footnote 18:

    "Se avermi dato onde ogni quattro mesi
  Ho venticinque scudi, nè sì fermi,
  Che molte volte non mi sien contesi,

    Mi debbe incatenar, schiavo tenermi,
  Obbligarmi ch'io sudi e tremi senza
  Rispetto alcun, ch'io muoja o ch'io m'infermi,

    Non gli lasciate aver questa credenza
  Ditegli, che più tosto ch'esser servo,
  Torrò la povertade in pazienza"

                                                  _Satira_ ii.]

[Footnote 19: Panizzi, vol. i. p. 29. The agreement itself is in

[Footnote 20: See the lines before quoted, beginning" Apollo, tua

[Footnote 21: _Bibliographical Notices of Editions of

Ariosto_, prefixed to his first vol. p. 51.]

[Footnote 22:

    "La novità del loco è stata tanta,
  C' ho fatto come augel che muta gabbia,
  Che molti giorni resta the non canta."

For the rest of the above particulars see the fifth satire, beginning
"Il vigesimo giorno di Febbraio." I quote the exordium, because these
compositions are differently numbered in different editions. The one I
generally use is that of Molini--_Poesie Varie di Lodovico Ariosto, con
Annotazioni_. Firenze, 12mo, 1824.]

[Footnote 23: _Italian Library_, p. 52. I quote Baretti, because he
speaks with a corresponding enthusiasm. He calls the incident "a very
rare proof of the irresistible powers of poetry, and a noble comment on
the fables of Orpheus and Amphion," &c. The words "noble comment" might
lead us to fancy that Johnson had made some such remark to him while
relating the story in Bolt Court. Nor is the former part of the sentence
unlike him: "A very rare proof, _sir_, of the irresistible powers of
poetry, and a noble comment," &c. Johnson, notwithstanding his classical
predilections, was likely to take much interest in Ariosto on account
of his universality and the heartiness of his passions. He had a secret
regard for "wildness" of all sorts, provided it came within any pale
of the sympathetic. He was also fond of romances of chivalry. On one
occasion he selected the history of Felixmarte of Hyrcania as his course
of reading during a visit.]

[Footnote 24: The deed of gift sets forth the interest which it becomes
princes and commanders to take in men of letters, particularly poets,
as heralds of their fame, and consequently the special fitness of the
illustrious and superexcellent poet Lodovico Ariosto for receiving from
Alfonso Davallos, Marquess of Vasto, the irrevocable sum of, &c. &c.
Panizzi has copied the substance of it from Baruffaldi, vol. i. p. 67.]

[Footnote 25: _Orlando Furioso_ canto xxxiii. st. 28.]

[Footnote 26:

  "Inveni portum: spes et fortuna valete;
  Sat me lusistis; Indite nune alios."

  My port is found: adieu, ye freaks of chance;
  The dance ye led me, now let others dance.]

[Footnote 27:

  "The great Emathian conqueror bade spare
  The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
  went to the ground," &c.]

[Footnote 28: This medal is inscribed "Ludovicus Ariost. Poet." and has
the bee-hive on the reverse, with the motto "Pro bono malum." Ariosto was
so fond of this device, that in his fragment called the _Five Cantos_ (c.
v. st. 26), the Paladin Rinaldo wears it embroidered on his mantle.]

[Footnote 29:

    "Io son de' dieci il primo, e vecchio fatto
  Di quaranta quattro anni, e il capo calvo
  Da un tempo in qua sotto il cuffiotto appiatto."

                                                             _Satira_ ii.]

[Footnote 30:

    "Il vin fumoso, a me vie più interdetto
  Che 'l tosco, costì a inviti si tracanna,
  E sacrilegio è non ber molto, e schietto.

(He is speaking of the wines of Hungary, and of the hard drinking
expected of strangers in that country.)

    Tutti li cibi son con pope e canna,
  Di amomo e d' altri aromati, che tutti
  Come nocivi il medico mi danna."

                                                            _Satira_ ii.]

[Footnote 31: Pigna, _I Romanzi_, p. 119.]

[Footnote 32: _Epicedium_ on his brother's death. It is reprinted
(perhaps for the first time since 1582) in Mr. Panizzi's Appendix to the
Life, in his first volume, p. clxi.]

[Footnote 33:

  "Le donne, i cavalier, l' arme, gli amori,
  Le cortesie, le audaci imprese, io canto,"

is Ariosto's commencement;

  Ladies, and cavaliers, and loves, and arms,
  And courtesies, and daring deeds, I sing.

In Dante's _Purgatory_ (canto xiv.), a noble Romagnese, lamenting the
degeneracy of his country, calls to mind with graceful and touching

  "Le donne, i cavalier, gli affanni e gli agi,
  Che inspiravano amore e cortesia."

  The ladies and the knights, the cares and leisures,
  Breathing around them love and courtesy.]

[Footnote 34: The original is much pithier, but I cannot find equivalents
for the alliteration. He said, "Porvi le pietre e porvi le parole non è
il medesimo."--_Pigna_, p. 119. According to his son, however, his remark
was, that "palaces could be made in poems without money." He probably
expressed the same thing in different ways to different people.]

[Footnote 35: Vide Sat. iii. "Mi sia un tempo," &c. and the passage in
Sat. vii. beginning "Di libri antiqui."]

[Footnote 36: The inkstand which Shelley saw at Ferrara (_Essays and
Letters_, p. 149) could not have been this; probably his eye was caught
by a wrong one. Doubts also, after what we know of the tricks practised
upon visitors of Stratford-upon-Avon, may unfortunately be entertained
of the "plain old wooden piece of furniture," the arm-chair. Shelley
describes the handwriting of Ariosto as "a small, firm, and pointed
character, expressing, as he should say, a strong and keen, but
circumscribed energy of mind." Every one of Shelley s words is always
worth consideration; but handwritings are surely equivocal testimonies
of character; they depend so much on education, on times and seasons and
moods, conscious and unconscious wills, &c. What would be said by an
autographist to the strange old, ungraceful, slovenly handwriting of

[Footnote 37: See vol. i. of the present work, pp. 30, 202, and 216.]

[Footnote 38: Baruffaldi, 1807; p. 105.]

[Footnote 39:

    "In casa mia mi sa meglio una rapa
  Ch'io cuoca, e cotta s' un stecco m' inforco,
  E mondo, e spargo poi di aceto e sapa,

  Che all'altrui mensa tordo, starno, o porco

[Footnote 40: "Chi vuole andare," &c. _Satira_ iv.]

[Footnote 41:

    "Se Nicoletto o Fra Martin fan segno
  D' infedele o d' cretico, ne accuso
  Il saper troppo, e men con lor mi sdegno:

    Perchè salendo lo intelletto in suso
  Per veder Dio, non de' parerci strano
  Se talor cade giù cieco e confuso."

                                                             _Satira_ vi.

This satire was addressed to Bembo. The cardinal is said to have asked
a visitor from Germany whether Brother Martin really believed what he
preached; and to have expressed the greatest astonishment when told
that he did. Cardinals were then what augurs were in the time of
Cicero--wondering that they did not burst out a-laughing in one another's
faces. This was bad; but inquisitors are a million times worse. By the
Nicoletto here mentioned by Ariosto in company with Luther, we are to
understand (according to the conjecture of Molini) a Paduan professor of
the name of Niccolò Vernia, who was accused of holding the Pantheistic
opinions of Averroes.]

[Footnote 42: Take a specimen of this leap-frog versification from the
prologue to the _Cassaria_:--

  "Questa commedia, ch'oggi _recitàtavi_
  Sarà, se nol sapete, è la _Cassària_,
  Ch'un altra volta, già vent'anni _pàssano_,
  Veder si fece sopra questi _pùlpiti_,
  Ed allora assai piacque a tutto il _pòpolo_,
  Ma non ne ripostò già degno _prèmio_,
  Che data in preda a gl'importuni ed _àvidi_
  Stampator fu," &c.

This through five comedies in five acts!]

[Footnote 43: In the verses entitled _Bacchi Statua_.]

[Footnote 44: Essays and Letters, _ut sup._ vol. ii. p. 125.]

[Footnote 45:

  "Le lacrime scendean tra gigli e rôse,
  Là dove avvien ch' alcune sè n' inghiozzi."

                                              Canto xii. st. 94.

Which has been well translated by Mr. Rose

  And between rose and lily, from her eyes
  Tears fall so fast, she needs must swallow some."]

[Footnote 46: Essay on the _Narrative and Romantic Poems of the
Italians_, in the _Quarterly Review_, vol. xxi.]

[Footnote 47:

  "Vengono e van, come onda al primo margo
  Quando piacevole aura il mar combatte."

                                                        Canto vii. st. 14.]

[Footnote 48:

  "Con semplici parole e puri incanti."

                                                   Canto vi. st. 38.]

[Footnote 49: Canto xiv. st. 79.]

[Footnote 50: Canto xxviii. st. 98.]

[Footnote 51: Canto XV. st. 57.]

[Footnote 52: _Id_. st. 23.]

[Footnote 53: Canto xvi. st. 56.]

[Footnote 54: Canto xviii. st. 142.]

[Footnote 55: Canto XVII. st. 12.]

[Footnote 56: _Essay_, as above, p.534.]

[Footnote 57: _Boiardo and Ariosto_, vol. iv. p. 318.]

[Footnote 58: _Life_, in Panizzi p. ix.]

[Footnote 59: _Opere di Galileo_, Padova, 1744, vol. i. p. lxxii.]




PART I.--Angelica flies from the camp of Charlemagne into a wood, where
she meets with a number of her suitors. Description of a beautiful
natural bower. She claims the protection of Sacripant, who is overthrown,
in passing, by an unknown warrior that turns out to be a damsel. Rinaldo
comes up, and Angelica flies from both. She meets a pretended hermit, who
takes her to some rocks in the sea, and casts her asleep by magic. They
are seized and carried off by some mariners from the isle of Ebuda, where
she is exposed to be devoured by an orc, but is rescued by a knight on a
winged horse. He descends with her into a beautiful spot on the coast of
Brittany, but suddenly misses both horse and lady. He is lured, with the
other knights, into an enchanted palace, whither Angelica comes too. She
quits it, and again eludes her suitors.

PART II.--Cloridan and Medoro, two Moorish youths, after a battle with
the Christians, resolve to find the dead body of their master, King
Dardinel, and bury it. They kill many sleepers as they pass through the
enemy's camp, and then discover the body; but are surprised, and left for
dead themselves. Medoro, however, survives his friend, and is cured of
his wounds by Angelica, who happens to come up. She falls in love with
and marries him. Account of their honeymoon in the woods. They quit them
to set out for Cathay, and see a madman on the road.

PART III.--When the lovers had quitted their abode in the wood, Orlando,
by chance, arrived there, and saw every where, all round him, in-doors
and out-of-doors, inscriptions of "Angelica and Medoro." He tries in vain
to disbelieve his eyes; finally, learns the whole story from the owner of
the cottage, and loses his senses. What he did in that state, both in the
neighbourhood and afar off, where he runs naked through the country. His
arrival among his brother Paladins; and the result.




Part the First.


Angelica, not at all approving her consignment to the care of Namo by
Charlemagne, for the purpose of being made the prize of the conqueror,
resolved to escape before the battle with the Pagans. She accordingly
mounted her palfrey at once, and fled with all her might till she found
herself in a wood.

Scarcely had she congratulated herself on being in a place of refuge,
when she met a warrior full armed, whom with terror she recognised to be
the once-loved but now detested Rinaldo. He had lost his horse, and was
looking for it. Angelica turned her palfrey aside instantly, and galloped
whithersoever it chose to carry her, till she came to a river-side, where
she found another of her suitors, Ferragus. She called loudly upon him
for help. Rinaldo had recognised her in turn; and though he was on foot,
she knew he would be coming after her.

Come after her he did. A fight between the rivals ensued; and the beauty,
taking advantage of it, again fled away--fled like the fawn, that, having
seen its mother's throat seized by a wild beast, scours through the
woods, and fancies herself every instant in the jaws of the monster.
Every sweep of the wind in the trees--every shadow across her path--drove
her with sudden starts into the wildest cross-roads; for it made her feel
as if Rinaldo was at her shoulders.[2]

Slackening her speed by degrees, she wandered afterwards she knew not
whither, till she came, next day, to a pleasant wood that was gently
stirring with the breeze. There were two streams in it, which kept the
grass always green; and when you listened, you heard them softly running
among the pebbles with a broken murmur.

Thinking herself secure at last, and indeed feeling as if she were now a
thousand miles off from Rinaldo--tired also with her long journey, and
with the heat of the summer sun--she here determined to rest herself.
She dismounted; and having relieved her horse of his bridle, and let him
wander away in the fresh pasture, she cast her eyes upon a lovely natural
bower, formed of wild roses, which made a sort of little room by the
water's side. The bower beheld itself in the water; trees enclosed it
overhead, on the three other sides; and in the middle was room enough to
lie down on the sward; while the whole was so thickly trellised with the
leaves and branches, that the sunbeams themselves could not enter, much
less any prying sight. The place invited her to rest; and accordingly the
beautiful creature laid herself down, and so gathering herself, as it
were, together, went fast asleep[3].

She had not slept long when she was awakened by the trampling of a horse;
and getting up, and looking cautiously through the trees, she perceived
a cavalier, who dismounted from his steed, and sat himself down by the
water in a melancholy posture. It was Sacripant, king of Circassia, one
of her lovers, wretched at the thought of having missed her in the camp
of King Charles. Angelica loved Sacripant no more than the rest; but,
considering him a man of great conscientiousness, she thought he would
make her a good protector while on her journey home. She therefore
suddenly appeared before him out of the bower, like a goddess of the
woods, or Venus herself, and claimed his protection.

Never did a mother bathe the eyes of her son with tears of such exquisite
joy, when he came home after news of his death in battle, as the Saracen
king beheld this sudden apparition with

  Così vôto nel mezo, the concede
  Fresca stanza fra l'ombre più nascose:
  E la foglie coi rami in modo è mista,
  Che 'l Sol non v' entra, non che minor vista.

  Dentro letto vi fan tener' erbette,
  Ch'invitano a posar chi s' appresenta.
  La bella donna in mezo a quel si mette;
  Ivi si scorca, et ivi s' addormenta."


An exquisite picture! Its divine face and beautiful manners.[4] He could
not help clasping her in his arms; and very different intentions were
coming into his head than those for which she had given him credit, when
the noise of a second warrior thundering through the woods made him
remount his horse and prepare for an encounter. The stranger speedily
made his appearance, a personage of a gallant and fiery bearing, clad in
a surcoat white as snow, with a white streamer for a crest. He seemed
more bent on having the way cleared before him than anxious about the
manner of it; so couching his lance as he came, while Sacripant did the
like with his, he dashed upon the Circassian with such violence as to
cast him on the ground; and though his own horse slipped at the same
time, he had it up again in an instant with his spurs; and so,
continuing his way, was a mile off before the Saracen recovered from his

As the stunned and stupid ploughman, who has been stretched by a
thunderbolt beside his slain oxen, raises himself from the ground after
the lofty crash, and looks with astonishment at the old pine-tree near
him which has been stripped from head to foot, with just such amazement
the Circassian got up from his downfall, and stood in the presence of
Angelica, who had witnessed it. Never in his life had he blushed so red
as at that moment.

Angelica comforted him in sorry fashion, attributing the disaster to his
tired and ill-fed horse, and observing that his enemy had chosen to risk
no second encounter; but, while she was talking, a messenger, with an
appearance of great fatigue and anxiety, came riding up, who asked
Sacripant if he had seen a knight in a white surcoat and crest.

"He has this instant," answered the king, "overthrown me, and galloped
away. Who is he?"

"It is no _he_," replied the messenger. "The rider who has overthrown
you, and thus taken possession of whatever glory you may have acquired,
is a damsel; and she is still more beautiful than brave. Bradalnante is
her illustrious name." And with these words the horseman set spurs to
his horse, and left the Saracen more miserable than before. He mounted
Angelica's horse without a word, his own having been disabled; and so,
taking her up behind him, proceeded on the road in continued silence.[5]

They had just gone a couple of miles, when they again heard a noise, as
of some powerful body in haste; and in a little while, a horse without a
rider came rushing towards them, in golden trappings. It was Rinaldo's
horse, Bayardo.[6] The Circassian, dismounting, thought to seize it,
but was welcomed with a curvet, which made him beware how he hazarded
something worse. The horse then went straight to Angelica in a way as
caressing as a dog; for he remembered how she fed him in Albracca at the
time when she was in love with his ungracious master: and the beauty
recollected Bayardo with equal pleasure, for she had need of him.
Sacripant, however, watched his opportunity, and mounted the horse; so
that now the two companions had each a separate steed. They were about
to proceed more at their ease, when again a great noise was heard, and
Rinaldo himself was seen coming after them on foot, threatening the
Saracen with furious gestures, for he saw that he had got his horse; and
he recognised, above all, in a rage of jealousy, the lovely face beside
him. Angelica in vain implored the Circassian to fly with her. He asked
if she had forgotten the wars of Albracca, and all which he had done to
serve her, that thus she supposed him afraid of another battle.

Sacripant endeavoured to push Bayardo against Rinaldo; but the horse
refusing to fight his master, he dismounted, and the two rivals
encountered each other with their swords. At first they went through
the whole sword-exercise to no effect; but Rinaldo, tired of the delay,
raised the terrible Fusberta,[7] and at one blow cut through the other's
twofold buckler of bone and steel, and benumbed his arm. Angelica turned
as pale as a criminal going to execution; and, without farther waiting,
galloped off through the forest, looking round every instant to see if
Rinaldo was upon her.

She had not gone far when she met an old man who seemed to be a hermit,
but was in reality a magician, coming along upon an ass. He was of
venerable aspect, and seemed worn out with age and mortifications; yet,
when he beheld the exquisite face before him, and heard the lady explain
how it was she needed his assistance, even he, old as he really was,
began to fancy himself a lover, and determined to use his art for the
purpose of keeping his two rivals at a distance. Taking out a book, and
reading a little in it, there issued from the air a spirit in likeness
of a servant, whom he sent to the two combatants with directions to
give them a false account of Orlando's having gone off to France with
Angelica. The spirit disappeared; and the magician journeying with his
companion to the sea-coast, raised another, who entered Angelica's horse,
and carried her, to her astonishment and terror, out to sea, and so round
to some lonely rocks. There, to her great comfort at first, the old man
rejoined her; but his proceedings becoming very mysterious, and exciting
her indignation, he cast her into a deep sleep.

It happened, at this moment, that a ship was passing by the rocks, bound
upon a tragical commission from the island of Ebuda. It was the custom of
that place to consign a female daily to the jaws of a sea-monster, for
the purpose of averting the wrath of one of their gods; and as it was
thought that the god would be appeased if they brought him one of
singular beauty, the mariners of the ship seized with avidity on the
sleeping Angelica, and carried her off, together with the old man.
The people of Ebuda, out of love and pity, kept her, unexposed to the
sea-monster, for some days; but at length she was bound to the rock where
it was accustomed to seek its food; and thus, in tears and horror, with
not a friend to look to, the delight of the world expected her fate. East
and west she looked in vain; to the heavens she looked in vain; every
where she looked in vain. That beauty which had made King Agrican come
from the Caspian gates, with half Scythia, to find his death from the
hands of Orlando; that beauty which had made King Sacripant forget both
his country and his honour; that beauty which had tarnished the renown
and the wisdom of the great Orlando himself, and turned the whole East
upside down, and laid it at the feet of loveliness, has now not a soul
near it to give it the comfort of a word.

Leaving our heroine awhile in this condition, I must now tell you that
Ruggiero, the greatest of all the infidel warriors, had been presented by
his guardian, the magician Atlantes, with two wonderful gifts; the one
a shield of dazzling metal, which blinded and overthrew every one that
looked at it; and the other an animal which combined the bird with the
quadruped, and was called the Hippogriff, or griffin-horse. It had the
plumage, the wings, head, beak, and front-legs of a griffin, and the rest
like a horse. It was not made by enchantment, but was a creature of a
natural kind found but very rarely in the Riphæan mountains, far on the
other side of the Frozen Sea.[8]

With these gifts, high mounted in the air, the young ward of Atlantes
was now making the grandest of grand tours. He had for some time been
confined by the magician in a castle, in order to save him from the
dangers threatened in his horoscope. From this he had been set free by
the lady with whom he was destined to fall in love; he had then been
inveigled by a wicked fairy into her tower, and set free by a good one;
and now he was on his travels through the world, to seek his mistress and
pursue knightly adventures.

Casting his eyes on the coast of Ebuda, the rider of the hippogriff
beheld the amazing spectacle of the lady tied to the rock; and struck
with a beauty which reminded him of her whom he loved, he
resolved to deliver her from a peril which soon became too manifest.

A noise was heard in the sea; and the huge monster, the Orc, appeared
half in the water and half out of it, like a ship which drags its way
into port after a long and tempestuous voyage.[9] It seemed a huge mass
without form except the head, which had eyes sticking out, and bristles
like a boar. Ruggiero, who had dashed down to the side of Angelica, and
attempted to encourage her in vain, now rose in the air; and the monster,
whose attention was diverted by a shadow on the water of a couple of
great wings dashing round and above him, presently felt a spear on his
Deck; but only to irritate him, for it could not pierce the skin. In vain
Ruggiero tried to do so a hundred times. The combat was of no more effect
than that of the fly with the mastiff, when it dashes against his eyes
and mouth, and at last comes once too often within the gape of his
snapping teeth. The orc raised such a foam and tempest in the waters with
the flapping of his tail, that the knight of the hippogriff hardly knew
whether he was in air or sea. He began to fear that the monster would
disable the creature's wings; and where would its rider be then? He
therefore had recourse to a weapon which he never used but at the last
moment, when skill and courage became of no service: he unveiled the
magic shield. But first he flew to Angelica, and put on her finger the
ring which neutralised its effect. The shield blazed on the water
like another sun. The orc, beholding it, felt it smite its eyes like
lightning; and rolling over its unwieldy body in the foam which it had
raised, lay turned up, like a dead fish, insensible. But it was not dead;
and Ruggiero was so long in making ineffectual efforts to pierce it, that
Angelica cried out to him for God's sake to release her while he had the
opportunity, lest the monster should revive. "Take Ime with you," she
said; "drown me; any thing, rather than let me be food for this horror."

The knight released her instantly. He set her behind him on the winged
horse, and in a few minutes was in the air, transported with having
deprived the brute of his delicate supper. Then, turning as he went, he
imprinted on her a thousand kisses. He had intended to make a tour of
Spain, which was not far off; but he now altered his mind, and descended
with his prize into a lovely spot, on the coast of Brittany, encircled
with oaks full of nightingales, with here and there a solitary mountain.

It was a little green meadow with a brook.[10]

Ruggiero looked about him with transport, and was preparing to
disencumber himself of his hot armour, when the blushing beauty, casting
her eyes downwards, beheld on her finger the identical magic ring which
her father had given her when she first entered Christendom, and which
had delivered her out of so many dangers. If put on the finger only, it
neutralised all enchantment; but put into the mouth, it rendered the
wearer invisible. It had been stolen from her, and came into the hands of
a good fairy, who gave it to Ruggiero, in order to deliver him from
the wiles of a bad one. Falsehood to the good fairy's friend, his own
mistress Bradamante, now rendered him unworthy of its possession; and
at the moment when he thought Angelica his own beyond redemption, she
vanished out of his sight. In vain he knew the secret of the ring, and
the possibility of her being still present--the certainty, at all events,
of her not being very far off. He ran hither and thither like a madman,
hoping to clasp her in his arms, and embracing nothing but the air. In a
little while she was distant far enough; and Ruggiero, stamping about to
no purpose in a rage of disappointment, and at length resolving to
take horse, perceived he had been deprived, in the mean time, of his
hippogriff. It had loosened itself from the tree to which he had tied
it, and taken its own course over the mountains. Thus he had lost horse,
ring, and lady, all at once.[11]

Pursuing his way, with contending emotions, through a valley between
lofty woods, he heard a great noise in the thick of them. He rushed to
see what it was; and found a giant combating with a young knight. The
giant got the better of the knight; and having cast him on the ground,
unloosed his helmet for the purpose of slaying him, when Ruggiero, to
his horror, beheld in the youth's face that of his unworthily-treated
mistress Bradamante. He rushed to assault her enemy; but the giant,
seizing her in his arms, took to his heels; and the penitent lover
followed him with all his might, but in vain. The wretch was hidden from
his eyes by the trees. At length Ruggiero, incessantly pursuing him,
issued forth into a great meadow, containing a noble mansion; and here he
beheld the giant in the act of dashing through the gate of it with his

The mansion was an enchanted one, raised by the anxious old guardian of
Ruggiero for the purpose of enticing into it both the youth himself, and
all from whom he could experience danger in the course of his adventures.
Orlando had just been brought there by a similar device, that of the
apparition of a knight carrying off Angelica; for the supposed Bradamante
was equally a deception, and the giant no other than the magician
himself. There also were the knights Ferragus, and Brandimart, and
Grandonio, and King Sacripant, all searching for something they had
missed. They wandered about the house to no purpose; and sometimes
Ruggiero heard Bradamante calling him; and sometimes Orlando beheld
Angelica's face at a window.[12]

At length the beauty arrived in her own veritable person. She was again
on horseback, and once more on the look-out for a knight who should
conduct her safely home--whether Orlando or Sacripant she had not
determined. The same road which had brought Ruggiero to the enchanted
house having done as much for her, she now entered it invisibly by means
of the ring.

Finding both the knights in the place, and feeling under the necessity of
coming to a determination respecting one or the other, Angelica made up
her mind in favour of King Sacripant, whom she reckoned to be more at her
disposal. Contriving therefore to meet him by himself, she took the
ring out of her mouth, and suddenly appeared before him. He had hardly
recovered from his amazement, when Ferragus and Orlando himself came up;
and as Angelica now was visible to all, she took occasion to deliver them
from the enchanted house by hastening before them into a wood. They all
followed of course, in a frenzy of anxiety and delight; but the lady
being perplexed with the presence of the whole three, and recollecting
that she had again obtained possession of her ring, resolved to trust her
safe conduct to invisibility alone; so, in the old fashion, she left
them to new quarrels by suddenly vanishing from their eyes. She stopped,
nevertheless, a while to laugh at them, as they all turned their
stupefied faces hither and thither; then suffered them to pass her in a
blind thunder of pursuit; and so, gently following at her leisure on the
same road, took her way towards the East.

It was a long journey, and she saw many places and people, and was now
hidden and now seen, like the moon, till she calve one day into a forest
near the walls of Paris, where she beheld a youth lying wounded on the
grass, between two companions that were dead.

Part the Second.


Now, in order to understand who the youth was that Angelica found lying
on the grass between the two dead companions, and how he came to be so
lying, you must know that a great battle had been fought there between
Charlemagne and the Saracens, in which the latter were defeated, and that
these three people belonged to the Saracens. The two that were slain were
Dardinel, king of Zumara, and Cloridan, one of his followers; and the
wounded survivor was another, whose name was Medoro. Cloridan and Medoro
had been loving and grateful servants of Dardinel, and very fast friends
of one another; such friends, indeed, that on their own account, as well
as in honour of what they did for their master, their history deserves a
particular mention.

They were of a lowly stock on the coast of Syria, and in all the various
fortunes of their lord had shewn him a special attachment. Cloridan had
been bred a huntsman, and was the robuster person of the two. Medoro was
in the first bloom of youth, with a complexion rosy and fair, and a most
pleasant as well as beautiful countenance. He had black eyes, and hair
that ran into curls of gold; in short, looked like a very angel from

These two were keeping anxious watch upon the trenches of the defeated
army, when Medoro, unable to cease thinking of the master who had been
left dead on the field, told his friend that he could no longer delay to
go and look for his dead body, and bury it. "You," said he, "will remain,
and so be able to do justice to my memory, in case I fail."

Cloridan, though he delighted in this proof of his friend's
noble-heartedness, did all he could to dissuade him from so perilous an
enterprise; but Medoro, in the fervour of his gratitude for benefits
conferred on him by his lord, was immovable in his determination to die
or to succeed; and Cloridan, seeing this, determined to go with him.

They took their way accordingly out of the Saracen camp, and in a short
time found themselves in that of the enemy. The Christians had been
drinking over-night for joy at their victory, and were buried in wine and
sleep. Cloridan halted a moment, and said in a whisper to his friend,
"Do you see this? Ought I to lose such an opportunity of revenging our
beloved master? Keep watch, and I will do it. Look about you, and listen
on every side, while I make a passage for us among these sleepers with my

Without waiting an answer, the vigorous huntsman pushed into the first
tent before him. It contained, among other occupants, a certain Alpheus,
a physician and caster of nativities, who had prophesied to himself a
long life, and a death in the bosom of his family. Cloridan cautiously
put the sword's point in his throat, and there was an end of his dreams.
Four other sleepers were despatched in like manner, without time given
them to utter a syllable. After them went another, who had entrenched
himself between two horses; then the luckless Grill, who had made himself
a pillow of a barrel which he had emptied. He was dreaming of opening
a second barrel, but, alas, was tapped himself. A Greek and a German
followed, who had been playing late at dice; fortunate, if they had
continued to do so a little longer; but they never counted a throw like
this among their chances.

By this time the Saracen had grown ferocious with his bloody work, and
went slaughtering along like a wild beast among sheep. Nor could
Medoro keep his own sword unemployed; but he disdained to strike
indiscriminately--he was choice in his victims. Among these was a certain
Duke La Brett, who had his lady fast asleep in his arms. Shall I pity
them? That will I not. Sweet was their fated hour, most happy their
departure; for, embraced as the sword found them, even so, I believe, it
dismissed them into the other world, loving and enfolded.

Two brothers were slain next, sons of the Count of Flanders, and
newly-made valorous knights. Charlemagne had seen them turn red with
slaughter in the field, and had augmented their coat of arms with his
lilies, and promised them lands beside in Friesland. And he would have
bestowed the lands, only Medoro forbade it.

The friends now discovered that they had approached the quarter in
which the Paladins kept guard about their sovereign. They were afraid,
therefore, to continue the slaughter any further; so they put up their
swords, and picked their way cautiously through the rest of the camp into
the field where the battle had taken place. There they experienced so
much difficulty in the search for their master's body, in consequence of
the horrible mixture of the corpses, that they might have searched till
the perilous return of daylight, had not the moon, at the close of a
prayer of Medoro's, sent forth its beams right on the spot where the king
was lying. Medoro knew him by his cognizance, _argent_ and _gules_.The
poor youth burst into tears at the sight, weeping plentifully as he
approached him, only he was obliged to let his tears flow without noise.
Not that he cared for death--at that moment he would gladly have embraced
it, so deep was his affection for his lord; but he was anxious not to be
hindered in his pious office of consigning him to the earth.

The two friends took up the dead king on their shoulders, and were
hasting away with the beloved burden, when the whiteness of dawn began to
appear, and with it, unfortunately, a troop of horsemen in the distance,
right in their path.

It was Zerbino, prince of Scotland, with a party of horse. He was a
warrior of extreme vigilance and activity, and was returning to the camp
after having been occupied all night in pursuing such of the enemy as had
not succeeded in getting into their entrenchments[13].

"My friend," exclaimed the huntsman, "we must e'en take to our heels. Two
living people must not be sacrificed to one who is dead."

With these words he let go his share of the burden, taking for granted
that the friend, whose life as well as his own he was thinking to secure,
would do as he himself did. But attached as Cloridan had been to his
master, Medoro was far more so. He accordingly received the whole burden
on his shoulders. Cloridan meantime scoured away, as fast as feet could
carry him, thinking his companion was at his side: otherwise he would
sooner have died a hundred times over than have left him.

In the interim, the party of the Scottish prince had dispersed themselves
about the plain, for the purpose of intercepting the two fugitives,
whichever way they went; for they saw plainly they were enemies, by the
alarm they shewed.

There was an old forest at hand in those days, which, besides being thick
and dark, was full of the most intricate cross-paths, and inhabited only
by game. Into this Cloridan had plunged. Medoro, as well as he could,
hastened after him; but hampered as he was with his burden, the more he
sought the darkest and most intricate paths, the less advanced he found
himself, especially as he had no acquaintance with the place.

On a sudden, Cloridan having arrived at a spot so quiet that he became
aware of the silence, missed his beloved friend. "Great God!" he
exclaimed, "what have I done? Left him I know not where, or how!" The
swift runner instantly turned about, and, retracing his steps, came
voluntarily back on the road to his own death. As he approached the scene
where it was to take place, he began to hear the noise of men and horses;
then he discerned voices threatening; then the voice of his unhappy
friend; and at length he saw him, still bearing his load, in the midst of
the whole troop of horsemen. The prince was commanding them to seize him.
The poor youth, however, burdened as he was, rendered it no such easy
matter; for he turned himself about like a wheel, and entrenched himself,
now behind this tree and now behind that. Finding this would not do,
he laid his beloved burden on the ground, and then strode hither and
thither, over and round about it, parrying the horsemen's endeavours
to take him prisoner. Never did poor hunted bear feel more conflicting
emotions, when, surprised in her den, she stands over her offspring with
uncertain heart, groaning with a mingled sound of tenderness and rage.
Wrath bids her rush forward, and bury her nails in the flesh of their
enemy; love melts her, and holds her back in the middle of her fury, to
look upon those whom she bore.[14]

Cloridan was in an agony of perplexity what to do. He longed to rush
forth and die with his friend; he longed also still to do what he could,
and not to let him die unavenged. He therefore halted awhile before
he issued from the trees, and, putting an arrow to his bow, sent it
well-aimed among the horsemen. A Scotsman fell dead from his saddle. The
troop all turned to see whence the arrow came; and as they were raging
and crying out, a second stuck in the throat of the loudest.

"This is not to be borne," cried the prince, pushing his horse towards
Medoro; "you shall suffer for this." And so speaking, he thrust his hand
into the golden locks of the youth, and dragged him violently backwards,
intending to kill him; but when he looked on his beautiful face, he
couldn't do it.

The youth betook himself to entreaty. "For God's sake, sir knight!" cried
he, "be not so cruel as to deny me leave to bury my lord and master. He
was a king. I ask nothing for myself--not even my life. I do not care for
my life. I care for nothing but to bury my lord and master."

These words were spoken in a manner so earnest, that the good prince
could feel nothing but pity; but a ruffian among the troop, losing sight
even of respect for his lord, thrust his lance into the poor youth's
bosom right over the prince's hand. Zerbino turned with indignation to
smite him, but the villain, seeing what was coming, galloped off; and
meanwhile Cloridan, thinking that his friend was slain, came leaping full
of rage out of the wood, and laid about him with his sword in mortal
desperation. Twenty swords were upon him in a moment; and perceiving
life flowing out of him, he let himself fall down by the side of his

The Scotsmen, supposing both the friends to be dead, now took their
departure; and Medoro indeed would have been dead before long, he bled so
profusely. But assistance of a very unusual sort was at hand.

A lady on a palfrey happened to be coming by, who observed signs of life
in him, and was struck with his youth and beauty. She was attired with
great simplicity, but her air was that of a person of high rank, and her
beauty inexpressible. In short, it was the proud daughter of the lord of
Cathay, Angelica herself. Finding that she could travel in safety and
independence by means of the magic ring, her self-estimation had risen to
such a height, that she disdained to stoop to the companionship of the
greatest man living. She could not even call to mind that such lovers as
the County Orlando or King Sacripant existed and it mortified her beyond
measure to think of the affection she had entertained for Rinaldo.

"Such arrogance," thought Love, "is not to be endured." The little archer
with the wings put an arrow to his bow, and stood waiting for her by the
spot where Medoro lay.

Now, when the beauty beheld the youth lying half dead with his wounds,
and yet, on accosting him, found that he lamented less for himself than
for the unburied body of the king his master, she felt a tenderness
unknown before creep into every particle of her being; and as the
greatest ladies of India were accustomed to dress the wounds of their
knights, she bethought her of a balsam which she had observed in coming
along; and so, looking about for it, brought it back with her to the
spot, together with a herdsman whom she had met on horseback in search
of one of his stray cattle. The blood was ebbing so fast, that the poor
youth was on the point of expiring; but Angelica bruised the plant
between stones, and gathered the juice into her delicate hands, and
restored his strength with infusing it into the wounds; so that, in a
little while, he was able to get on the horse belonging to the herdsman,
and be carried away to the man's cottage. He would not quit his lord's
body, however, nor that of his friend, till he had seen them laid in the
ground. He then went with the lady, and she took up her abode with him in
the cottage, and attended him till he recovered, loving him more and more
day by day; so that at length she fairly told him as much, and he loved
her in turn; and the king's daughter married the lowly-born soldier.

O County Orlando! O King Sacripant! That renowned valour of yours, say,
what has it availed you? That lofty honour, tell us, at what price is it
rated? What is the reward ye have obtained for all your services? Shew us
a single courtesy which the lady ever vouchsafed, late or early, for all
that you ever suffered in her behalf.

O King Agrican! if you could return to life, how hard would you think it
to call to mind all the repulses she gave you--all the pride and aversion
and contempt with which she received your advances! O Ferragus! O
thousands of others too numerous to speak of, who performed thousands of
exploits for this ungrateful one, what would you all think at beholding
her in the arms of the courted boy!

Yes, Medoro had the first gathering of the kiss off the lips of
Angelica--those lips never touched before--that garden of roses on
the threshold of which nobody ever yet dared to venture. The love was
headlong and irresistible; but the priest was called in to sanctify
it; and the brideswoman of the daughter of Cathay was the wife of the
cottager. The lovers remained upwards of a month in the cottage. Angelica
could not bear her young husband out of her sight. She was for ever
gazing on him, and hanging on his neck. In-doors and out-of-doors, day as
well as night, she had him at her side. In the morning or evening they
wandered forth along the banks of some stream, or by the hedge-rows of
some verdant meadow. In the middle of the day they took refuge from the
heat in a grotto that seemed made for lovers; and wherever, in their
wanderings, they found a tree fit to carve and write on, by the side of
fount or river, or even a slab of rock soft enough for the purpose, there
they were sure to leave their names on the bark or marble; so that, what
with the inscriptions in-doors and out-of-doors (for the walls of the
cottage displayed them also), a visitor of the place could not have
turned his eye in any direction without seeing the words


written in as many different ways as true-lovers' knots could run.[16]

Having thus awhile enjoyed themselves in the rustic solitude, the Queen
of Cathay (for in the course of her adventures in Christendom she had
succeeded to her father's crown) thought it time to return to her
beautiful empire, and complete the triumph of love by crowning Medoro
king of it.

She took leave of the cottagers with a princely gift. The islanders of
Ebuda had deprived her of every thing valuable but a rich bracelet,
which, for some strange, perhaps superstitious, reason, they left on her
arm. This she took off, and made a present of it to the good couple for
their hospitality; and so bade them farewell.

The bracelet was of inimitable workmanship, adorned with gems, and had
been given by the enchantress Morgana to a favourite youth, who was
rescued from her wiles by Orlando. The youth, in gratitude, bestowed it
on his preserver; and the hero had humbly presented it to Angelica, who
vouchsafed to accept it, not because of the giver, but for the rarity of
the gift.

The happy bride and bridegroom, bidding farewell to France, proceeded by
easy journeys, and crossed the mountains into Spain, where it was their
intention to take ship for the Levant. Descending the Pyrenees, they
discerned the ocean in the distance, and had now reached the coast, and
were proceeding by the water-side along the high road to Barcelona, when
they beheld a miserable-looking creature, a madman, all over mud and
dirt, lying naked in the sands. He had buried himself half inside them
for shelter from the sun; but having observed the lovers as they came
along, he leaped out of his hole like a dog, and came raging against

But, before I proceed to relate who this madman was, I must return to the
cottage which the two lovers had occupied, and recount what passed in it
during the interval between their bidding it adieu and their arrival in
this place.



During the course of his search for Angelica, the County Orlando had just
restored two lovers to one another, and was pursuing a Pagan enemy to no
purpose through a wild and tangled wood, when he came into a beautiful
spot by a river's side, which tempted him to rest himself from the heat.
It was a small meadow, full of daisies and butter-cups, and surrounded
with trees. There was an air abroad, notwithstanding the heat, which made
the shepherds glad to sit without their jerkins, and receive the coolness
on their naked bodies: even the hard-skinned cattle were glad of it; and
Orlando, who was armed _cap-a-pie_, was delighted to take off his helmet,
and lay aside his buckler, and repose awhile in the midst of a scene so
refreshing. Alas! it was the unhappiest moment of his life.

Casting his eyes around him, while about to get off his horse, he
observed a handwriting on many of the trees which he thought he knew.
Riding up to the trees, and looking more closely, he was sure he knew it;
and in truth it was no other than that of his adored mistress Angelica,
and the inscription one of those numerous inscriptions of which I have
spoken. The spot was one of the haunts of the lovers while they abode in
the shepherd's cottage. Wherever the County turned his eyes, he beheld,
tied together in true-lovers' knots, nothing but the words


All the trees had them--his eyes could see nothing else; and every letter
was a dagger that pierced his heart.

The unhappy lover tried in vain to disbelieve what he saw. He endeavoured
to compel himself to think that it was some other Angelica who had
written the words; but he knew the handwriting too well. Too often had he
dwelt upon it, and made himself familiar with every turn of the letters.
He then strove to fancy that "Medoro" was a feigned name, intended for
himself; but he felt that he was trying to delude himself, and that the
more he tried, the bitterer was his conviction of the truth. He was like
a bird fixing itself only the more deeply in the lime in which it is
caught, by struggling and beating its wings.

Orlando turned his horse away in his anguish, and paced it towards a
grotto covered with vine and ivy, which he looked into. The grotto, both
outside and in, was full of the like inscriptions. It was the retreat the
lovers were so fond of at noon. Their names were written on all sides of
it, some in chalk and coal,[17] others carved with a knife.

The wretched beholder got off his horse and entered the grotto. The first
thing that met his eyes was a larger inscription in the Saracen lover's
own handwriting and tongue--a language which the slayer of the infidels
was too well acquainted with. The words were in verse, and expressed the
gratitude of the "poor Medoro," the writer, for having had in his arms,
in that grotto, the beautiful Angelica, daughter of King Galafron, whom
so many had loved in vain. The writer invoked a blessing on every part
of it, its shades, its waters, its flowers, its creeping plants; and
entreated every person, high and low, who should chance to visit it,
particularly lovers, that they would bless the place likewise, and take
care that it was never polluted by foot of herd.

Thrice, and four times, did the unhappy Orlando read these words, trying
always, but in vain, to disbelieve what he saw. Every time he read, they
appeared plainer and plainer; and every time did a cold hand seem to be
wringing the heart in his bosom. At length he remained with his eyes
fixed on the stone, seeing nothing more, not even the stone itself. He
felt as if his wits were leaving him, so abandoned did he seem of all
comfort. Let those imagine what he felt who have experienced the same
emotions--who know, by their own sufferings, that this is the grief which
surpasses all other griefs. His head had fallen on his bosom; his look
was deprived of all confidence; he could not even speak or shed a
tear. His impetuous grief remained within him by reason of his
impetuosity--like water which attempts to rush out of the narrow-necked
bottle, but which is so compressed as it comes, that it scarcely issues
drop by drop.

Again he endeavoured to disbelieve his eyes--to conclude that somebody
had wished to calumniate his mistress, and drive her lover mad, and so
had done his best to imitate her handwriting. With these sorry attempts
at consolation, he again took horse, the sun having now given way to the
moon, and so rode a little onward, till he beheld smoke rising out of
the tops of the trees, and heard the barking of dogs and the lowing of
cattle. By these signs he knew that he was approaching a village. He
entered it, and going into the first house he came to, gave his horse to
the care of a youth, and was disarmed, and had his spurs of gold taken
off, and so went into a room that was shewn him without demanding either
meat or drink, so entirely was he filled with his sorrow.

Now it happened that this was the very cottage into which Medoro had been
carried out of the wood by the loving Angelica. There he had been cured
of his wounds--there he had been loved and made happy--and there,
wherever the County Orlando turned his eyes, he beheld the detested
writing on the walls, the windows, the doors. He made no inquiries about
it of the people of the house: he still dreaded to render the certainty
clearer than he would fain suppose it.

But the cowardice availed him nothing; for the host seeing him unhappy,
and thinking to cheer him, came in as he was getting into bed, and opened
on the subject of his own accord. It was a story be told to every body
who came, and he was accustomed to have it admired; so with little
preface he related all the particulars to his new guest--how the youth
had been left for dead on the field, and how the lady had found him, and
had him brought to the cottage--and how she fell in love with him as he
grew well--and how she could be content with nothing but marrying him,
though she was daughter of the greatest king of the East, and a queen
herself. At the conclusion of his narrative, the good man produced the
bracelet which had been given him by Angelica, as evidence of the truth
of all that he had been saying.

This was the final stroke, the last fatal blow, given to the poor hopes
of Orlando by the executioner, Love. He tried to conceal his misery, but
it was no longer to be repressed; so finding the tears rush into his
eyes, he desired to be alone. As soon as the man had retired, he let them
flow in passion and agony. In vain he attempted to rest, much less to
sleep. Every part of the bed appeared to be made of stones and thorns.

At length it occurred to him, that most likely they had slept in that
very bed. He rose instantly, as if he had been lying on a serpent. The
bed, the house, the herdsman, every thing about the place, gave him such
horror and detestation, that, without waiting for dawn, or the light of
moon, he dressed himself, and went forth and took his horse from the
stable, and galloped onwards into the middle of the woods. There, as soon
as he found himself in the solitude, he opened all the flood-gates of his
grief, and gave way to cries and outcries.

But he still rode on. Day and night did Orlando ride on, weeping and
lamenting. He avoided towns and cities, and made his bed on the hard
earth, and wondered at himself that he could weep so long.

"These," thought he, "are no tears that are thus poured forth. They are
life itself, the fountains of vitality; and I am weeping and dying both.
These are no sighs that I thus eternally exhale. Nature could not supply
them. They are Love himself storming in my heart, and at once consuming
me and keeping me alive with his miraculous fires. No more--no more am I
the man I seem. He that was Orlando is dead and buried. His ungrateful
mistress has slain him. I am but the soul divided from his body--doomed
to wander here in this misery, an example to those that put their trust
in love."

For the wits of the County Orlando were going; and he wandered all night
round and round in the wood, till he came back to the grotto where Medoro
had written his triumphant verses. Madness then indeed fell upon him.
Every particle of his being seemed torn up with rage and fury; and he
drew his mighty sword, and hewed the grotto and the writing, till the
words flew in pieces to the heavens. Woe to every spot in the place in
which were written the names of "Angelica and Medoro." Woe to the place
itself: never again did it afford refuge from the heat of day to sheep or
shepherd; for not a particle of it remained as it was. With arm and sword
Orlando defaced it all, the clear and gentle fountain included. He hacked
and hewed it inside and out, and cut down the branches of the trees that
hung over it, and tore away the ivy and the vine, and rooted up great
bits of earth and stone, and filled the sweet water with the rubbish, so
that it was never clear and sweet again; and at the end of his toil, not
having satisfied or being able to satisfy his soul with the excess of
his violence, he cast himself on the ground in rage and disdain, and lay
groaning towards the heavens.

On the ground Orlando threw himself, and on the ground he remained, his
eyes fixed on heaven, his lips closed in dumbness; and thus he continued
for the space of three days and three nights, till his frenzy had mounted
to such a pitch that it turned against himself. He then arose in fury,
and tore off mail and breastplate, and every particle of clothing from
his body, till humanity was degraded in his heroical person, and he
became naked as the beasts of the field. In this condition, and his wits
quite gone, sword was forgotten as well as shield and helm; and he tore
up fir-tree and ash, and began running through the woods. The shepherds
hearing the cries of the strong man, and the crashing of the boughs, came
hastening from all quarters to know what it was; but when he saw them he
gave them chase, and smote to death those whom he reached, till the whole
country was up in arms, though to no purpose; for they were seized with
such terror, that while they threatened and closed after him, they
avoided him. He entered cottages, and tore away the food from the tables;
and ran up the craggy hills and down into the valleys; and chased beasts
as well as men, tearing the fawn and the goat to pieces, and stuffing
their flesh into his stomach with fierce will.

Raging and scouring onwards in this manner, he arrived one day at a
bridge over a torrent, on which the fierce Rodomont had fixed himself for
the purpose of throwing any one that attempted to pass it into the water.
It was a very narrow bridge, with scarcely room for two horses. But
Orlando took no heed of its narrowness. He dashed right forwards against
man and steed, and forced the champion to wrestle with him on foot; and,
winding himself about him with hideous strength, he leaped backwards with
him into the torrent, where he left him, and so mounted the opposite
bank, and again rushed over the country. A more terrible bridge than
this was in his way--even a precipitous pass of frightful height over
a valley; but still he scoured onwards, throwing over it the agonised
passengers that dared, in their ignorance of his strength, to oppose
him; and so always rushing and raging, he came down the mountains by the
sea-side to Barcelona, where he cast his eyes on the sands, and thought,
in his idiot mind, to make himself a house in them for coolness and
repose; and so he grubbed up the sand, and laid himself down in it: and
this was the terrible madman whom Angelica and Medoro saw looking at them
as they were approaching the city.

Neither of them knew him, nor did he know Angelica; but, with an idiot
laugh, he looked at her beauty, and liked her, and came horribly towards
her to carry her away. Shrieking, she put spurs to her horse and fled;
and Medoro, in a fury, came after the pursuer and smote him, but to no
purpose. The great madman turned round and smote the other's horse to the
ground, and so renewed his chase after Angelica, who suddenly regained
enough of her wits to recollect the enchanted ring. Instantly she put
it into her lips and disappeared; but in her hurry she fell from her
palfrey, and Orlando forgot her in the instant, and, mounting the poor
beast, dashed off with it over the country till it died; and so at last,
after many dreadful adventures by flood and field, he came running into
a camp full of his brother Paladins, who recognised him with tears; and,
all joining their forces, succeeded in pulling him down and binding him,
though not without many wounds: and by the help of these friends, and the
special grace of the apostle St. John (as will be told in another place),
the wits of the champion of the church were restored, and he became
ashamed of that passion for an infidel beauty which the heavenly powers
had thus resolved to punish.

But Angelica and Medoro pursued the rest of their journey in peace, and
took ship on the coast of Spain for India; and there she crowned her
bridegroom King of Cathay. The description of Orlando's jealousy and
growing madness is reckoned one of the finest things in Italian poetry;
and very fine it surely is--as strong as the hero's strength, and
sensitive as the heart of man. The circumstances are heightened, one
after the other, with the utmost art as well as nature. There is a
scriptural awfulness in the account of the hero's becoming naked; and the
violent result is tremendous. I have not followed Orlando into his feats
of ultra-supernatural strength. The reader requires to be prepared
for them by the whole poem. Nor are they necessary, I think, to
the production of the best effect; perhaps would hurt it in an age
unaccustomed to the old romances.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Footnote 1: See p. 58 of the present volume.]

[Footnote 2:

  "Fugge tra selve spaventose e scure,
  Per lochi inabitati, ermi e selvaggi.
  Il mover de le frondi e di verzure
  Che di cerri sentia, d' olmi e di faggi,
  Fatto le avea con subite paure
  Trovar di quà e di là strani viaggi;
  Ch' ad ogni ombra veduta o in monte o in valle
  Temea Rinaldo aver sempre alle spalle."

                                                         Canto i. st. 33.]

[Footnote 3:

  "Ecco non lungi un bel cespuglio vede
  Di spin fioriti e di vermiglic rôse,
  Che de le liquide onde al specchio siede,
  Chiuso dal Sol fra l' alte quercie ombrose; ]

[Footnote 4: And how lovely is this!

  "E fuor di quel cespuglio oscuro e cieco
  Fa di se bella et improvvisa mostra,
  Come di selva o fuor d'ombroso speco
  Diana in scena, o Citerea si mostra," &c.

                                                         St. 52.]

[Footnote 5: How admirable is the suddenness, brevity, and force of this
scene! And it is as artful and dramatic as off-hand; for this Amazon,
Bradamante, is the future heroine of the warlike part of the poem, and
the beauty from whose marriage with Ruggiero is to spring the house of
Este. Nor without her appearance at this moment, as Panizzi has shewn
(vol. i. p. cvi.), could a variety of subsequent events have taken place
necessary to the greatest interests of the story. All the previous
passages in romance about Amazons are nothing compared with this flash of
a thunderbolt.]

[Footnote 6: From _bayard_, old French; _bay-colour._]

Footnote 7: His famous sword, vide p. 48.]

[Footnote 8: To richness and rarity, how much is added by remoteness! It
adds distance to the other difficulties of procuring it.]

[Footnote 9:

  "Ecco apparir lo smisurato mostro
  Mezo ascoso ne l'onda, e mezo sorto.
  Come sospinto suol da Borca o d'Ostro
  Venir lungo navilio a pigliar porto,"
                                        Canto x. st. 100.

Improved from Ovid, _Metamorph_. lib. iv. 706

  "Ecce velut navis præfixo concita rostro
  Sulcat aquas, juvenum sudantibus acta lacertis;
  Sic fera," &c.

  As when a galley with sharp beak comes fierce,
  Ploughing the waves with many a sweating oar.

Ovid is brisker and more obviously to the purpose; but Ariosto gives the
ponderousness and dreary triumph of the monster. The comparison of the
fly and the mastiff is in the same higher and more epic taste. The
classical reader need not be told that the whole ensuing passage, as far
as the combat is concerned, is imitated from Ovid's story of Perseus and

[Footnote 10:

    "Sul lito un bosco era di querce ombrose,
  Dove ogn' or par che Filomena piagna;
  Ch'in mezo avea un pratel con una fonte,

    E quinci e quindi un solitario monte.
  Quivi il bramoso cavalier ritenne
  L'audace corso, e nel pratel discese."
                                                           St. 113.

What a landscape! and what a charm beyond painting he has put into it
with his nightingales! and then what figures besides! A knight on a
winged steed descending with a naked beauty into a meadow in the thick of
woods, with "here and there a solitary mountain." The mountains make no
formal circle; they keep their separate distances, with their various
intervals of light and shade. And what a heart of solitude is given to
the meadow by the loneliness of these its waiters aloof!]

[Footnote 11: Nothing can be more perfectly wrought up than this sudden
change of circumstances.]

[Footnote 12: To feel the complete force of this picture, a reader should
have been in the South, and beheld the like sudden apparitions, at open
windows, of ladies looking forth in dresses of beautiful colours, and
with faces the most interesting. I remember a vision of this sort at
Carrara, on a bright but not too hot day (I fancied that the marble
mountains there cooled it). It resembled one of Titian's women, with its
broad shoulders, and boddice and sleeves differently coloured from the
petticoat; and seemed literally framed in the unsashed window. But I am

[Footnote 13: Ariosto elsewhere represents him as the handsomest man in
the world; saying of him, in a line that has become famous,

  "Natura il fece, e poi roppe la stampa."

                                                 Canto x. st. 84.

  --Nature made him, and then broke the mould.

(The word is generally printed _ruppe_; but I use the primitive text
of Mr. Pannizi's edition.) Boiardo's handsomest man, Astolfo, was an
Englishman; Ariosto's is a Scotchman. See, in the present volume, the
  note on the character of Astolfo, p. 41.]

[Footnote 14:

  "Come orsa, che l'alpestre cacciatore
    Ne la pietrosa tana assalita abbia,
  Sta sopra i figli con incerto core,
    E freme in suono di pieta e di rabbia:
  Ira la 'nvita e natural furore
    A spiegar l'ugne, e a insanguinar le labbia;
  Amor la 'ntenerisce, e la ritira
  A riguardare a i figli in mezo l'ira."

  Like as a bear, whom men in mountains start
    In her old stony den, and dare, and goad,
  Stands o'er her children with uncertain heart,
    And roars for rage and sorrow in one mood;
  Anger impels her, and her natural part,
    To use her nails, and bathe her lips in blood;
  Love melts her, and, for all her angry roar,
  Holds back her eyes to look on those she bore.

This stanza in Ariosto has become famous as a beautiful transcript of a
beautiful passage in Statius, which, indeed, it surpasses in style, but
not in feeling, especially when we consider with whom the comparison

  "Ut lea, quam saevo foetam pressere cubili
    Venantes Numidae, natos erecta superstat
  Mente sub incerta, torvum ac miserabile frendens
    Illa quidem turbare globes, et frangere morsu
  Tela queat; sed prolis amor crudelia vincit
    Pectora, et in media catulos circumspicit ira."

                                                        _Thebais_, x. 414.]

[Footnote 15: This adventure of Cloridan and Medoro is imitated from the
Nisus and Euryalus of Virgil. An Italian critic, quoted by Panizzi, says,
that the way in which Cloridan exposes himself to the enemy is inferior
to the Latin poet's famous

  "Me, me (adsum qui feci), in me convertite ferrum."

  Me, me ('tis I who did the deed), slay me.

And the reader will agree with Panizzi, that he is right. The
circumstance, also, of Euryalus's bequeathing his aged mother to the care
of his prince, in case he fails in his enterprise, is very touching;
and the main honour, both of the invention of the whole episode and its
particulars, remains with Virgil. On the other hand, the enterprise of
the friends in the Italian poet, which is that of burying their dead
master, and not merely of communicating with an absent general, is more
affecting, though it may be less patriotic; the inability of Zerbino to
kill him, when he looked on his face, is extremely so; and, as Panizzi
has shewn, the adventure is made of importance to the whole story of the
poem, and is not simply an episode, like that in the Æneid. It serves,
too, in a very particular manner to introduce Medoro worthily to the
affection of Angelica; for, mere female though she be, we should hardly
have gone along with her passion as we do, in a poem of any seriousness,
had it been founded merely on his beauty.]

[Footnote 16: Canto xix. st. 34, &c. All the world have felt this to be
a true picture of first love. The inscription may be said to be that of
every other pair of lovers that ever existed, who knew how to write their
names. How musical, too, are the words "Angelica and Medoro!" Boiardo
invented the one; Ariosto found the match for it. One has no end to the
pleasure of repeating them. All hail to the moment when I first became
aware of their existence, more than fifty years ago, in the house of
the gentle artist Benjamin West! (Let the reader indulge me with this
recollection.) I sighed with pleasure to look on them at that time; I
sigh now, with far more pleasure than pain, to look back on them, for
they never come across me but with delight; and poetry is a world in
which nothing beautiful ever thoroughly forsakes us.]

[Footnote 17:

  "Scritti, qual con carbone e qual con gesso."

                                                   Canto xxiii. st. 106.

Ariosto did not mind soiling the beautiful fingers of Angelica with coal
and chalk. He knew that Love did not mind it.

       *       *       *       *       *



The Paladin Astolfo ascends on the hippogriff to the top of one of the
mountains at the source of the Nile, called the Mountains of the Moon,
where he discovers the Terrestrial Paradise, and is welcomed by St. John
the Evangelist. The Evangelist then conveys him to the Moon itself, where
he is shewn all the things that have been lost on earth, among which is
the Reason of Orlando, who had been deprived of it for loving a Pagan
beauty. Astolfo is favoured with a singular discourse by the Apostle, and
is then presented with a vial containing the Reason of his great brother
Paladin, which he conveys to earth.



When the hippogriff loosened itself from the tree to which Ruggiero had
tied it in the beautiful spot to which he descended with Angelica,[1] it
soared away, like the faithful creature it was, to the house of its own
master, Atlantes the magician. But not long did it remain there--no, nor
the house itself, nor the magician; for the Paladin Astolfo came with a
mighty horn given him by a greater magician, the sound of which overthrew
all such abodes, and put to flight whoever heard it; and so the house
of Atlantes vanished, and the enchanter fled; and the Paladin took
possession of the griffin-horse, and rode away with it on farther

One of these was the deliverance of Senapus, king of Ethiopia, from the
visitation of the dreadful harpies of old, who came infesting his table
as they did those of Æneas and Phineus. Astolfo drove them with his horse
towards the sources of the river Nile, in the Mountains of the Moon, and
pursued them with the hippogriff till they entered a great cavern, which,
by the dreadful cries and lamentings that issued from the depths within
it, the Paladin discovered to be the entrance from earth to Hell.

The daring Englishman, whose curiosity was excited, resolved to penetrate
to the regions of darkness. "What have I to fear?" thought he; "the horn
will assist me, if I want it. I'll drive the triple-mouthed dog out of
the way, and put Pluto and Satan to flight."[2]

Astolfo tied the hippogriff to a tree, and pushed forward in spite of a
smoke that grew thicker and thicker, offending his eyes and nostrils. It
became, however, so exceedingly heavy and noisome, that he found it would
be impossible to complete his enterprise. Still he pushed forward as far
as he could, especially as he began to discern in the darkness something
that appeared to stir with an involuntary motion. It looked like a dead
body which has hung up many days in the rain and sun, and is waved
unsteadily by the wind. It turned out to be a condemned spirit in this
first threshold of Hell, sentenced there, with thousands of others, for
having been cruel and false in love. Her name was Lydia, and she had been
princess of the country so called.[3] Anaxarete was among them, who, for
her hard-heartedness, became a stone; and Daphne, who now discovered how
she had erred in making Apollo "run so much;" and multitudes of other
women; but a far greater number of men--men being worthier of punishment
in offences of love, because women are proner to believe. Theseus and
Jason were among them; and Amnon, the abuser of Tamar; and he that
disturbed the old kingdom of Latinus.[4]

Astolfo would fain have gone deeper into the jaws of Hell, but the smoke
grew so thick and palpable, it was impossible to move a step farther.
Turning about, therefore, he regained the entrance; and having refreshed
himself in a fountain hard by, and re-mounted the hippogriff, felt an
inclination to ascend as high as he possibly could in the air. The
excessive loftiness of the mountain above the cavern made him think that
its top could be at no great distance from the region of the Moon; and
accordingly he pushed his horse upwards, and rose and rose, till at
length he found himself on its table-land. It exhibited a region of
celestial beauty. The flowers were like beds of precious stones for
colour and brightness; the grass, if you could have brought any to earth,
would have been found to surpass emeralds; and the trees, whose leaves
were no less beautiful, were in fruit and flower at once. Birds of as
many colours were singing in the branches; the murmuring rivulets and
dumb lakes were more limpid than crystal: a sweet air was for ever
stirring, which reduced the warmth to a gentle temperature; and every
breath of it brought an odour from flowers, fruit-trees, and herbage all
at once, which nourished the soul with sweetness.[5]

In the middle of this lonely plain was a palace radiant as fire. Astolfo
rode his horse round about it, constantly admiring all he saw, and filled
with increasing astonishment; for he found that the dwelling was thirty
miles in circuit, and composed of one entire carbuncle, lucid and
vermilion. What became of the boasted wonders of the world before this?
The world itself, in the comparison, appeared but a lump of brute and
fetid matter.[6]

As the Paladin approached the vestibule, he was met by a venerable old
man, clad in a white gown and red mantle, whose beard descended on his
bosom, and whose aspect announced him as one of the elect of Paradise.
It was St. John the Evangelist, who lived in that mansion with Enoch and
Elijah, the only three mortals who never tasted death; for the place, as
the saint informed him, was the Terrestrial Paradise; and the inhabitants
were to live there till the angelical trumpet announced the coming of
Christ "on the white cloud." The Paladin, he said, had been allowed to
visit it, by the favour of God, for the purpose of fetching away to earth
the lost wits of Orlando, which the champion of the Church had been
deprived of for loving a Pagan, and which had been attracted out of his
brains to the neighbouring sphere, the Moon.

Accordingly, after the new friends had spent two days in discourse, and
meals had been served up, consisting of fruit so exquisite that the
Paladin could not help thinking our first parents had some excuse for
eating it,[7] the Evangelist, when the Moon arose, took him into the car
which had borne Elijah to heaven; and four horses, redder than fire,
conveyed them to the lunar world.

The mortal visitant was amazed to see in the Moon a world resembling his
own, full of wood and water, and containing even cities and castles,
though of a different sort from ours. It was strange to find a sphere so
large which had seemed so petty afar off; and no less strange was it to
look down on the world he had left, and be compelled to knit his brows
and look sharply before he could well discern it, for it happened at the
time to want light.[8]

But his guide did not leave him much time to look about him. He conducted
him with due speed into a valley that contained, in one miraculous
collection, whatsoever had been lost or wasted on earth. I do not speak
only (says the poet) of riches and dominions, and such like gratuities of
Fortune, but of things also which Fortune can neither grant nor resume.
Much fame is there which Time has withdrawn--infinite prayers and vows
which are made to God Almighty by us poor sinners. There lie the tears
and the sighs of lovers, the hours lost in pastimes, the leisures of the
dull, and the intentions of the lazy. As to desires, they are so numerous
that they shadow the whole place. Astolfo went round among the different
heaps, asking what they were. His eyes were first struck with a huge
one of bladders which seemed to contain mighty sounds and the voices of
multitudes. These he found were the Assyrian and Persian monarchies,
together with those of Greece and Lydia.[9] One heap was nothing but
hooks of silver and gold, which were the presents, it seems, made to
patrons and great men in hopes of a return. Another consisted of snares
in the shape of garlands, the manufacture of parasites. Others were
verses in praise of great lords, all made of crickets which had burst
themselves with singing. Chains of gold he saw there, which were
pretended and unhappy love-matches; and eagles' claws, which were deputed
authorities; and pairs of bellows, which were princes' favours; and
overturned cities and treasuries, being treasons and conspiracies; and
serpents with female faces, that were coiners and thieves; and all sorts
of broken bottles, which were services rendered in miserable courts. A
great heap of overturned soup[10] he found to be alms to the poor, which
had been delayed till the giver's death. He then came to a great mount
of flowers, which once had a sweet smell, but now a most rank one. This
(_with submission_) was the present which the Emperor Constantine made to
good Pope Sylvester.[11] Heaps of twigs he saw next, set with bird-lime,
which, dear ladies, are your charms. In short there was no end to what he
saw. Thousands and thousands would not complete the list. Every thing
was there which was to be met with on earth, except folly in the raw
material, for that is never exported.[12]

There he beheld some of his own lost time and deeds; and yet, if nobody
had been with him to make him aware of them, never would he have
recognised them as his.[13]

They then arrived at something, which none of us ever prayed God to
bestow, for we fancy we possess it in superabundance; yet here it was in
greater quantities than any thing else in the place--I mean, sense.
It was a subtle fluid, apt to evaporate if not kept closely; and here
accordingly it was kept in vials of greater or less size. The greatest of
them all was inscribed with the following words: "The sense of Orlando."
Others, in like manner, exhibited the names of the proper possessors; and
among them the frank-hearted Paladin beheld the greater portion of his
own. But what more astonished him, was to see multitudes of the vials
almost full to the stopper, which bore the names of men whom he had
supposed to enjoy their senses in perfection. Some had lost them for
love, others for glory, others for riches, others for hopes from great
men, others for stupid conjurers, for jewels, for paintings, for all
sorts of whims. There was a heap belonging to sophists and astrologers,
and a still greater to poets.[14]

Astolfo, with leave of the "writer of the dark Apocalypse," took
possession of his own. He had but to uncork it, and set it under his
nose, and the wit shot up to its place at once. Turpin acknowledges that
the Paladin, for a long time afterwards, led the life of a sage man,
till, unfortunately, a mistake which he made lost him his brains a second

The Evangelist now presented him with the vial containing the wits of
Orlando, and the travellers quitted the vale of Lost Treasure. Before
they returned to earth, however, the good saint chewed his guest other
curiosities, and favoured him with many a sage remark, particularly on
the subject of poets, and the neglect of them by courts. He shewed him
how foolish it was in princes and other great men not to make friends of
those who can immortalise them; and observed, with singular indulgence,
that crimes themselves might be no hindrance to a good name with
posterity, if the poet were but feed well enough for spices to embalm the
criminal. He instanced the cases of Homer and Virgil.

"You are not to take for granted," said he, "that Æneas was so pious
as fame reports him, or Achilles and Hector so brave. Thousands and
thousands of warriors have excelled them; but their descendents bestowed
fine houses and estates on great writers, and it is from their honoured
pages that all the glory has proceeded. Augustus was no such religious or
clement prince as the trumpet of Virgil has proclaimed him. It was his
good taste in poetry that got him pardoned his iniquitous proscription.
Nero himself might have fared as well as Augustus, had he possessed as
much wit. Heaven and earth might have been his enemies to no purpose, had
he known how to keep friends with good authors. Homer makes the Greeks
victorious, the Trojans a poor set, and Penelope undergo a thousand
wrongs rather than be unfaithful to her husband; and yet, if you would
have the real truth of the matter, the Greeks were beaten, and the
Trojans the conquerors, and Penelope was a --. [16] See, on the other
hand, what infamy has become the portion of Dido. She was honest to her
heart's core; and yet, because Virgil was no friend of hers, she is
looked upon as a baggage.

"Be not surprised," concluded the good saint, "if I have expressed myself
with warmth on this subject. I love writers, and look upon their cause as
my own, for I was a writer myself when I lived among you; and I succeeded
so well in the vocation, that time and death will never prevail against
me. Just therefore is it, that I should be thankful to my beloved Master,
who procured me so great a lot. I grieve for writers who have fallen
on evil times--men that, with pale and hungry faces, find the doors of
courtesy closed against all their hardships. This is the reason there are
so few poets now, and why nobody cares to study. Why should he study? The
very beasts abandon places where there is nothing to feed them."

At these words the eyes of the blessed old man grew so inflamed with
anger, that they sparkled like two fires. But he presently suppressed
what he felt; and, turning with a sage and gracious smile to the Paladin,
prepared to accompany him back to earth with his wonted serenity.

He accordingly did so in the sacred car: and Astolfo, after receiving his
gentle benediction, descended on his hippogriff from the mountain, and,
joining the delighted Paladins with the vial, his wits were restored, as
you have heard, to the noble Orlando.

The figure which is here cut by St. John gives this remarkable satire a
most remarkable close. His association of himself with the fraternity of
authors was thought a little "strong" by Ariosto's contemporaries. The
lesson read to the house of Este is obvious, and could hardly have been
pleasant to men reputed to be such "criminals" themselves. Nor can
Ariosto, in this passage, be reckoned a very flattering or conscientious
pleader for his brother-poets. Resentment, and a good jest, seem to have
conspired to make him forget what was due to himself.

The original of St. John's remarks about Augustus and the ancient poets
must not be omitted. It is exquisite of its kind, both in matter and
style. Voltaire has quoted it somewhere with rapture.

  "Non fu sì santo nè benigno Augusto
    Come la tuba di Virgilio suona:
  L'aver avuto in poesia buon gusto
    La proscrizion iniqua gli perdona.
  Nessun sapria se Neron fosse ingiusto,
    Nè sua fama saria forse men buona,
  Avesse avuto e terra e ciel nimici,
  Se gli scrittor sapea tenersi amici.

  Omero Agamennon vittorioso,
    E fe' i Trojan parer vili et inerti;
  E che Penelopea fida al suo sposo
    Da i prochi mille oltraggi avea sofferti:
  E, se tu vuoi che 'l ver non ti sia ascoso,
    Tutta al contrario l'istoria converti:
  Che i Greci rotti, e che Troia vittrice,
  E che Penelopea fu meretrice.

  Da l'altra parte odi che fama lascia
    Elissa, ch'ebbe il cor tanto pudico;
  Che riputata viene una bagascia,
    Solo perchè Maron non le fu amico."

                                                    Canto xxxv. st. 26. ]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Footnote 1: See p. 192.]

[Footnote 2: Ariosto is here imitating Pulci, and bearding Dante. See
vol. i. p. 336.]

[Footnote 3: I know of no story of a cruel Lydia but the poet's own
mistress of that name, whom I take to be the lady here "shadowed forth."
See Life, p. 114.]

[Footnote 4: The story of Anaxarete is in Ovid, lib. xiv. Every body
knows that of Daphne, who made Apollo, as Ariosto says, "run so much"
(correr tanto). Theseus and Jason are in hell, as deserters of Ariadne
and Medea; Amnon, for the atrocity recorded in the Bible (2 Samuel, chap.
xiii.); and Æneas for interfering with Turnus and Lavinia, and taking
possession of places he had no right to. It is delightful to see the
great, generous poet going upon grounds of reason and justice in the
teeth of the trumped-up rights of the "pious Æneas," that shabby deserter
of Dido, and canting prototype of Augustus. He turns the tables, also,
with brave candour, upon the tyrannical claims of the stronger sex to
privileges which they deny the other; and says, that there are more
faithless men in Hell than faithless women; which, if personal infidelity
sends people there, most undoubtedly is the case beyond all comparison.]

[Footnote 5: "Che di soävità l'alma notriva" is beautiful; but the
passage, as a whole, is not well imitated from the Terrestrial Paradise
of Dante. It is not bad in itself, but it is very inferior to the one
that suggested it. See vol. i. p. 210, &c. Ariosto's Terrestrial Paradise
was at home, among the friends who loved him, and whom he made happy.]

[Footnote 6: This is better; and the house made of one jewel thirty miles
in circuit is an extravagance that becomes reasonable on reflection,
affording a just idea of what might be looked for among the endless
planetary wonders of Nature, which confound all our relative ideas of
size and splendour. The "lucid vermilion" of a structure so enormous, and
under a sun so pure, presents a gorgeous spectacle to the imagination.
Dante himself, if he could have forgiven the poet his animal spirits
and views of the Moon so different from his own, might have stood in
admiration before an abode at once so lustrous and so vast.]

[Footnote 7:

  "De' frutti a lui del Paradiso diero,
    Di tal sapor, ch'a suo giudizio, sanza
  Scusa non sono i due primi parenti,
    Se pur quei fur si poco ubbidienti."

                                                 Canto xxxiv. st. 60.]

[Footnote 8: Modern astronomers differ very much both with Dante's and
Ariosto's Moon; nor do the "argent fields" of Milton appear better placed
in our mysterious satellite, with its no-atmosphere and no-water, and its
tremendous precipices. It is to be hoped (and believed) that knowledge
will be best for us all in the end; for it is not always so by the way.
It displaces beautiful ignorances.]

[Footnote 9: Very fine and scornful, I think, this. Mighty monarchies
reduced to actual bladders, which, little too as they were, contained big

[Footnote 10: Such, I suppose, as was given at convent-gates.]

[Footnote 11: The pretended gift of the palace of St. John Lateran, the
foundation of the pope's temporal sovereignty. This famous passage was
quoted and translated by Milton.

  "Di varii fiori ad on gran monte passa
  Ch'ebbe già buon odore, or putia forte.
  Questo era il dono (se però dir lece)
  Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece."

                                                      Canto xxxiv. st. 80.

  The lines were not so bold in the first edition. They stood thus

  "Ad un monte di rose e gigli passa,
  Ch'ebbe già buon odore, or putia forte,
  Ch'era corrotto; e da Giovanni intese,
  Che fu un gran don ch'un gran signor mal spese."

"He came to a mount of lilies and roses, that once had a sweet smell,
but now stank with corruption; and be understood from John that it was a
great gift which a great lord ill expended."

The change of these lines to the stronger ones in the third edition, as
they now stand, served to occasion a charge against Ariosto of having got
his privilege of publication from the court of Rome for passages which
never existed, and which he afterwards basely introduced; but, as Panizzi
observes, the third edition had a privilege also; so that the papacy
put its hand, as it were, to these very lines. This is remarkable; and
doubtless it would not have occurred in some other ages. The Spanish
Inquisition, for instance, erased it, though the holy brotherhood found
no fault with the story of Giocondo.]

  [Footnote 12: "Sol la pazzia non v'è, poca nè assai;
  Che sta quà giù, nè se ne parte mai"
                                                               St. 78.]

[Footnote 13: Part of this very striking passage is well translated by

  "He saw some of his own lost time and deeds,
  And yet he knew them not to be his own."

 I have heard these lines more than once repeated with touching
earnestness by Charles Lamb.]

[Footnote 14: Readers need not have the points of this exquisite satire
pointed out to them. In noticing it, I only mean to enjoy it in their
company--particularly the passage about the men accounted wisest, and the
emphatic "I mean, sense" (Io dico, il senno).]

[Footnote 15: Admirable lesson to frailty!]

[Footnote 16: I do not feel warranted in injuring the strength of the
term here made use of by the indignant apostle, and yet am withheld from
giving it in all its force by the delicacy, real or false, of the times.
I must therefore leave it to be supplied by the reader according to the
requirements of his own feelings.]



The Duke of Albany, pretending to be in love with a damsel in the service
of Ginevra, Princess of Scotland, but desiring to marry the princess
herself, and not being able to compass his design by reason of her being
in love with a gentleman from Italy named Ariodante, persuades the
damsel, in his revenge, to personate Ginevra in a balcony at night,
and so make her lover believe that she is false. Ariodante, deceived,
disappears from court. News is brought of his death; and his brother
Lurcanio publicly denounces Ginevra, who, according to the laws of
Scotland, is sentenced to death for her supposed lawless passion.
Lurcanio then challenges the unknown paramour (for the duke's face had
not been discerned in the balcony); and Ariodante, who is not dead, is
fighting him in disguise, when the Paladin Rinaldo comes up, discloses
the whole affair, and slays the deceiver.


Charlemagne had suffered a great defeat at Paris, and the Paladin Rinaldo
was sent across the Channel to ask succours of the King of England; but a
tempest arose ere he could reach the coast, and drove him northwards upon
that of Scotland, where he found himself in the Caledonian Forest, a
place famous of old for knightly adventure. Many a clash of arms had been
heard in its shady recesses--many great things had been done there by
knights from all quarters, particularly the Tristans and the Launcelots,
and the Gawains, and others of the Round Table of King Arthur.

Rinaldo, bidding the ship await him at the town of Berwick, plunged into
the forest with no other companion than his horse Bayardo, seeking the
wildest paths he could find, in the hope of some strange adventure.[2] He
put up, for the first day, at an abbey which was accustomed to entertain
the knights and ladies that journeyed that way; and after availing
himself of its hospitality, he inquired of the abbot and his monks if
they could direct him where to find what he looked for. They said that
plenty of adventures were to be met with in the forest; but that, for the
most part, they remained in as much obscurity as the spots in which they
occurred. It would be more becoming his valour, they thought, to exert
itself where it would not be hidden; and they concluded with telling him
of one of the noblest chances for renown that ever awaited a sword. The
daughter of their king was in need of a defender against a certain baron
of the name of Lurcanio, who sought to deprive her both of life and
reputation. He accused her of having been found in the arms of a lover
without the license of the priest; which, by the laws of Scotland, was a
crime only to be expiated at the stake, unless a champion could be found
to disprove the charge before the end of a month. Unfortunately the month
had nearly expired, and no champion yet made his appearance, though the
king had promised his daughter's hand to anybody of noble blood who
should establish her innocence; and the saddest part of the thing was,
that she was accounted innocent by all the world, and a very pattern of

While this horrible story was being told him, the Paladin fell into a
profound state of thought. After remaining silent for a little while,
at the close of it he looked up, and said, "A lady then, it seems, is
condemned to death for having been too kind to one lover, while thousands
of our sex are playing the gallant with whomsoever they please, and
not only go unpunished for it, but are admired! Perish such infamous
injustice! The man was a madman who made such a law, and they are little
better who maintain it. I hope in God to be able to shew them their

The good monks agreed, that their ancestors were very unwise to make such
a law, and kings very wrong who could, but would not, put an end to it.
So, when the morning came, they speeded their guest on his noble purpose
of fighting in the lady's behalf. A guide from the abbey took him a short
cut through the forest towards the place where the matter was to be
decided; but, before they arrived, they heard cries of distress in a dark
quarter of the forest, and, turning their horses thither to see what it
was, they observed a damsel between two vagabonds, who were standing over
her with drawn swords. The moment the wretches saw the new comer, they
fled; and Rinaldo, after re-assuring the damsel, and requesting to know
what had brought her to a pass so dreadful, made his guide take her up
on his horse behind him, in order that they might lose no more time. The
damsel, who was very beautiful, could not speak at first, for the horror
of what she had expected to undergo; but, on Rinaldo's repeating his
request, she at length found words, and, in a voice of great humility,
began to relate her story.

But before she begins, the poet interferes with an impatient remark.--"Of
all the creatures in existence," cries he, "whether they be tame or wild,
whether they are in a state of peace or of war, man is the only one that
lays violent hands on the female of his species. The bear offers no
injury to his; the lioness is safe by the side of the lion; the heifer
has no fear of the horns of the bull. What pest of abomination, what fury
from hell, has come to disturb, in this respect, the bosom of human kind?
Husband and wife deafen one another with injurious speeches, tear one
another's faces, bathe the genial bed with tears, nay, some times with
bloodshed. In my eyes the man who can allow himself to give a blow to a
woman, or to hurt even a hair of her head, is a violater of nature, and a
rebel against God; but to poison her, to strangle her, to take the soul
out of her body with a knife,--he that can do that, never will I believe
him to be a man at all, but a fiend out of hell with a man's face."[3]

Such must have been the two villains who fled at the sight of Rinaldo,
and who had brought the woman into this dark spot to stifle her testimony
for ever.

But to return to what she was going to say.--

"You are to know, sir," she began, "that I have been from my childhood in
the service of the king's daughter, the princess Ginevra. I grew up with
her; I was held in bonour, and I led a happy life, till it pleased the
cruel passion of love to envy me my condition, and make me think that
there was no being on earth to be compared to the Duke of Albany. He
pretended to love me so much, that, in return, I loved him with all my
heart. Unable, by degrees, to refuse him anything, I let him into the
palace at night, nay, into the room which of all others the princess
regarded as most exclusively her own; for there she kept her jewels, and
there she was accustomed to sleep during inclement states of the weather.
It communicated with the other sleeping-room by a covered gallery, which
looked out to some lonely ruins; and nobody ever passed that way, day or

"Our intercourse continued for several months; and, finding that I placed
all my happiness in obliging him, he ventured to disclose to me one day
a design he had upon the princess's hand; nay, did not blush to ask my
assistance in furthering it. Judge how I set his wishes above my own,
when I confess that I undertook to do so. It is true, his rank was nearer
to the princess's than to mine; and he pretended that he sought the
alliance merely on that account; protesting that he should love me more
than ever, and that Ginevra would be little better than his wife in name.
But, God knows, I did it wholly out of the excess of my desire to please

"Day and night I exerted all my endeavours to recommend him to the
princess. Heaven is my witness that I did it in real earnest, however
wrong it was. But my labour was to no purpose, for she was in love
herself. She returned in all its warmth the passion of a most
accomplished and valiant gentleman, who had come into Scotland with a
younger brother from Italy, and who had made himself such a favourite
with every body, my lover included, that the king himself had bestowed on
him titles and estates, and put him on a footing with the greatest lords
of the land.

"Unfortunately, the princess not only turned a deaf ear to all I said
in the duke's favour, but grew to dislike him in proportion to my
recommendation; so that, finding there was no likelihood of his success,
his own love was secretly turned into hate and rage. He studied, little
as I dreamt he could be so base, how he could best destroy her prospect
of happiness. He resorted, for this purpose, to a most crafty expedient,
which I, poor fool, took for nothing but what he feigned it to be. He
pretended that a whim had come into his head for seeming to prosper in
his suit, out of a kind of revenge for his not being able to do so in
reality; and, in order to indulge this whim, he requested me to dress
myself in the identical clothes which the princess put off when she went
to bed that night, and then to appear in them at my usual post in the
balcony, and so let down the ladder as though I were her very self, and
receive him into my arms.

"I did all that he desired, mad fool that I was; and out of the part
which I played has come all this mischief. I have intimated to you that
the duke and Ariodante (for such was the other's name) had been good
friends before Ginevra preferred hint to my false lover. Pretending
therefore to be still his friend, and entering on the subject of a
passion which he said he had long entertained for her, he expressed his
wonder at finding it interfered with by so noble a gentleman, especially
as it was returned by the princess with a fervour of which the other, if
he pleased, might have ocular testimony. "Greatly astonished at this news
was Ariodante. He had received all the proofs of his mistress's affection
which it was possible for chaste love to bestow, and with the greatest
scorn refused to believe it; but as the duke, with the air of a man who
could not help the melancholy communication, quietly persisted in his
story, the unhappy lover found himself compelled, at any rate, to let
him afford those proofs of her infidelity which he asserted to be in his
power. The consequence was, that Ariodante came with his brother to the
ruins I spoke of; and there the two were posted on the night when I
played my unhappy part in the balcony. He brought Lurcanio with him (that
was the brother's name), because he suspected that the duke had a design
on his life, not conceiving what he alleged against Ginevra to be
possible. Lurcanio, however, was not in the secret of his brother's
engagement with the princess. It had been disclosed hitherto neither to
him nor to any one, the lady not yet having chosen to divulge it to the
king himself. Ariodante, therefore, requested his brother to take his
station at a little distance, out of sight of the palace, and not to come
to him unless he should call: 'otherwise, my dear brother,' concluded he,
'stir not a step, if you love me.' "'Doubt me not,' said Lurcanio; and,
with these words, the latter entrenched himself in his post.

"Ariodante now stood by himself, gazing at the balcony,--the only person
visible at that moment in all the place. In a few minutes the Duke
of Albany appeared below it, making the signal to which I had been
accustomed; and then I, in my horrible folly, became visible to the eyes
of both, and let down the ladder.

"Meantime Lurcanio, beginning to be very uneasy at the mysterious
situation in which he found himself, and to have the most alarming fears
for his brother, had cautiously picked his way after him at a little
distance; so that he also, though still hidden in the shade of the lonely
houses, perceived all that was going on.

"I was dressed, as I had undertaken to be, in the identical clothes which
the princess had put off that night; and as I was not unlike her in air
and figure, and wore the golden net with red tassels peculiar to ladies
of the royal family, and the two brothers, besides, were at quite
sufficient distance to be deceived, I was taken by both of them for her
very self. The duke impatiently mounted the ladder; I received him as
impatiently in my arms; and circumstances, though from very different
feelings, rendered the caresses that passed between us of unusual ardour.

"You may imagine the grief of Ariodante. It rose at once to despair. He
did not call out; so that, had not his brother followed him, still worse
would have ensued than did; for he drew his sword, and was proceeding in
distraction to fall upon it, when Lurcanio rushed in and stopped him.
'Miserable brother!' exclaimed he, 'are you mad? Would you die for a
woman like this? You see what a wretch she is. I discern all your case
at once, and, thank God, have preserved you to turn your sword where it
ought to be turned, against the defender of such a pattern of infamy.'

"Ariodante put up his sword, and suffered himself to be led away by his
brother. He even pretended, in a little while, to be able to review his
condition calmly, but not the less had he secretly resolved to perish.
Next day he disappeared, nobody knew whither; and about eight days
afterwards, news was secretly brought to Ginevra, by a pilgrim, that he
had thrown himself from a headland into the sea.

"'I met him by chance,' said the pilgrim, 'and we happened to be standing
on the top of the headland, conversing, when he cried out to me, 'Relate
to the princess what you beheld on parting from me; and add, that the
cause of it was my having seen too much. Happy had it been for me had I
been blind!' And with these words,' concluded the pilgrim, 'he leaped
into the sea below, and was instantly buried beneath it.'

"The princess turned as pale as death at this story, and for a while
remained stupefied. But, alas! what a scene was it my fate to witness,
when she found herself in her chamber at night, able to give way to her
misery. She tore her clothes, and her very flesh, and her beautiful
hair, and kept repeating the last words of her lover with amazement and

The disappearance of Ariodante, and a rumour which transpired of his
having slain himself on account of some hidden anguish, surprised and
afflicted the whole court. But his brother Lurcanio evinced more and more
his impatience at it, and let fall the most terrible words. At length
he entered the court when the king was holding one of his fullest
assemblies, and laid open, as he thought, the whole matter; setting forth
how his unhappy brother had secretly, but honourably, loved the princess;
how she had professed to love him in return; and how she had grossly
deceived him, and played him impudently false before his own eyes. He
concluded with calling upon her unknown paramour to come forth, and shew
reasons against him with his sword why she ought not to die.

"I need not tell you what the king suffered at hearing this strange and
terrible recital. He lost no time in sharply investigating the truth of
the allegation; and for this purpose, among other proceedings, he sent
for the ladies of his daughter's chamber. You may judge, sir,--especially
as, I blush to say it, I still loved the Duke of Albany,--that I could
not await an examination like that. I hastened to meet the duke, who was
as anxious to get me out of the way as I was to go; and to this end,
professing the greatest zeal for my security, he commissioned two men to
convey me secretly to a fortress he possessed in this forest. 'Tis at no
great distance from the place where Heaven sent you to my deliverance.
You saw, sir, how little those wretches intended to take me anywhere
except to my grave; and by this you may judge of the agonies and shame I
have endured in knowing what a dupe I have been to one of the cruelest of
men. But thus it is that Love treats his most faithful servants."

The damsel here concluded her story; and the Paladin, rejoicing at having
become possessed of all that was required to establish the falsehood of
the duke, proceeded with her on his road to St. Andrews, where the lists
had been set up for the determination of the question. The king and his
court were anxiously praying at that instant for the arrival of some
champion to fight with the dreaded Lurcanio; for the month, as I have
stated, was nearly expired, and this terrible brother appeared to have
the business all his own way; so that the stake was soon to be looked for
at which the hapless Ginevra was to die.

Fast and eagerly the Paladin rode for St. Andrews, with his squire and
the trembling damsel, who was now agitated for new reasons, though the
knight gave her assurances of his protection. They were not far from
the city when they found people talking of a champion who had certainly
arrived, but whose name was unknown, and his face constantly concealed by
his visor. Even his own squire, it seems, did not know him; for the
man had but lately been taken into his service. Rinaldo, as soon as
he entered the city, left the damsel in a place of security, and then
spurred his horse to the scene of action, when he found the accuser and
the champion in the very midst of the fight. The Paladin, whose horse,
notwithstanding the noise of the combat, had been heard coming like a
tempest, and whose sudden and heroical appearance turned all eyes towards
him, rode straight to the royal canopy, and, begging the king to stop the
combat, disclosed the whole state of the matter, to the enchantment of
all present, except the Duke of Albany; for the villain himself was on
horseback there in state as grand constable, and had been feasting his
miserable soul with the hope of seeing Ginevra condemned. The combatants
were soon changed. Instead of Lurcanio and the unknown champion (whom the
new comer had taken care to extol for his generosity), it was the Paladin
and the Duke that were opposed; and horribly did the latter's heart fail
him. But he had no remedy. Fight he must. Rinaldo, desirous to make short
work of him, took his station with fierce delight; and at the third sound
of the trumpets, the Duke was forced to couch his spear and meet him
at full charge. Sheer went the Paladin's ashen staff through the false
bosom, sending the villain to the earth eight feet beyond the saddle. The
conqueror dismounted instantly, and unlacing the man's helmet, enabled
the king to hear his dying confession, which he had hardly finished, when
life forsook him. Rinaldo then took off his own helmet; and the king,
who had seen the great Paladin before, and who felt more rejoiced at his
daughter's deliverance than if he had lost and regained his crown, lifted
up his hands to heaven, and thanked God for having honoured her innocence
with so illustrious a defender.

The other champion, who, in the mean time, had been looking on through
the eyelets of his visor, was now entreated to disclose his own face. He
did so with peculiar emotion, and king and all recognised with transport
the face of the loved and, as it was supposed, lost Ariodante. The
pilgrim, however, had told no falsehood. The lover had indeed thrown
himself into the sea, and disappeared from the man's eyes; but (as
oftener happens than people suppose) the death which was desired when
not present became hated when it was so; and Ariodante, lover as he
was, rising at a little distance, struck out lustily for the shore, and
reached it.[4] He felt even a secret contempt for his attempt to kill
himself; yet putting up at an hermitage, became interested in the reports
concerning the princess, whose sorrow flattered, and whose danger,
though he could not cease to think her guilty, afflicted him. He grew
exasperated with the very brother he loved, when he found that Lurcanio
pursued her thus to the death; and on all these accounts he made his
appearance at the place of combat to fight him, though not to slay. His
purpose was to seek his own death. He concluded that Ginevra would then
see who it was that had really loved her, while his brother would mourn
the rashness which made him pursue the destruction of a woman. "Guilty
she is," thought he, "but no such guilt can deserve so cruel a
punishment. Besides, I could not bear that she should die before me. She
is still the woman I love, still the idol of my thoughts. Right or wrong,
I must die in her behalf."

With this intention he purchased a suit of black armour, and obtained a
squire unknown in those parts, and so made his appearance in the lists.
What ensued there I need not repeat; but the king was so charmed with the
issue of the whole business, with the resuscitation of the favourite whom
he thought dead, and the restoration of the more than life of his beloved
daughter, that, to the joy of all Scotland, and at the special instance
of the great Paladin, he made the two lovers happy without delay; and the
bride brought her husband for dowry the title and estates of the man who
had wronged him.

[Footnote 1: The main point of this story, the personation of Ginevra by
one of her ladies, has been repeated by many writers--among others by
Shakspeare, in _Much Ado about Nothing_. The circumstance is said to have
actually occurred in Ferrara, and in Ariosto's own time. Was Ariosto
himself a party? "Ariodante" almost includes his name; and it is certain
that he was once in love with a lady of the name of Ginevra.]

[Footnote 2: Rinaldo is an ambassador, and one upon very urgent business;
yet he halts by the way in search of adventures. This has been said to be
in the true taste of knight-errantry; and in one respect it is so. We
may imagine, however, that the ship is wind-bound, and that he meant to
return to it on change of weather. The Caledonian Forest, it is to be
observed, is close at hand.]

[Footnote 3: All honour and glory to the manly and loving poet!

"Lavezzuola," says Panizzi, "doubts the conjugal concord of beasts, more
particularly of bears. 'Ho letto presso degno autore un orso aver cavato
un occhio ad un orsa con la zampa.' (I have read in an author worthy of
credit, that a bear once deprived a she-bear of an eye with a blow of his
paw.) The reader may choose between Ariosto and this nameless author,
which of them is to be believed. I, of course, am for my poet."--Vol. i.
p. 84. I am afraid, however, that Lavezzuola is right. Even turtle-doves
are said not to be always the models of tenderness they are supposed
to be. Brutes have even devoured their offspring. The violence is most
probably owing (at least in excessive cases) to some unnatural condition
of circumstances.]

[Footnote 4: This is quite in Ariosto's high and bold taste for truth
under all circumstances. A less great and unmisgiving poet would have had
the lover picked up by a fisherman.]


It is impossible to conceive a nobler thing in the world than a just
prince--a thoroughly good man, who shuns no part of the burden of his
duty, though it bend him double; who loves and cares for his people as a
father does for his children, and who is almost incessantly occupied in
their welfare, very seldom for his own.

Such a man puts himself in front of dangers and difficulties in order
that he may be a shield to others; for he is not a mercenary, taking care
of none but himself when he sees the wolf coming; he is the right good
shepherd, staking his own life in that of his flock, and knowing the
faces of every one of them, just as they do his own.

Such princes, in times of old, were Saturn, Hercules, Jupiter, and
others--men who reigned gently, yet firmly, equal to all chances that
came, and worthy of the divine honours that awaited them. For mankind
could not believe that they quitted the world in the same way as other
men. They thought they must be taken up into heaven to be the lords of

When the prince is good, the subjects are good, for they always imitate
their masters; or at least, if the subjects cannot attain to this height
of virtue, they at least are not as bad as they would be otherwise; and,
at all events, public decency is observed. Oh, blessed kingdoms that are
governed by such hearts! and oh, most miserable ones that are at the
mercy of a man without justice--a fellow-creature without feelings!

Our Italy is full of such, who will have their reward from the pens of
posterity. Greater wretches never appeared in the shapes of Neros and
Caligulas, or any other such monsters, let them have been who they might.
I enter not into particulars; for it is always better to speak of the
dead than the living; but I must say, that Agrigentum never fared worse
under Phalaris, nor Syracuse under Dionysius, nor Thebes in the hand of
the bloody tyrant Eteocles, even though all those wretches were villains
by whose orders every day, without fault, without even charge, men were
sent by dozens to the scaffold or into hopeless exile.

But they are not without torments of their own. At the core of their own
hearts there stands an inflicter of no less agonies. There he stands
every day and every moment--one who was born of the same mother with
Wrath, and Cruelty, and Rapine, and who never ceased tormenting his
infant brethren before they saw the light. His name is Suspicion.[2]

Yes, Suspicion;--the cruelest visitation, the worst evil spirit and pest
that ever haunted with its poisonous whisper the mind of human being.
This is their tormentor by excellence. He does not trouble the poor and
lowly. He agonises the brain in the proud heads of those whom fortune
has put over the heads of their fellow-creatures. Well may the man hug
himself on his freedom who fears nobody because nobody hates him. Tyrants
are in perpetual fear. They never cease thinking of the mortal revenge
taken upon tormentors of their species openly or in secret. The fear
which all men feel of the one single wretch, makes the single wretch
afraid of every soul among them.

Hear a story of one of these miserables, which, whatever you may think of
it, is true to the letter; such letter, at all events, as is written upon
the hearts of his race. He was one of the first who took to the custom
of wearing beards, for, great as he was, he had a fear of the race of
barbers! He built a tower in his palace, guarded by deep ditches and
thick walls. It had but one drawbridge and one bay-window. There was no
other opening; so that the very light of day had scarcely admittance, or
the inmates a place to breathe at. In this tower he slept; and it was his
wife's business to put a ladder down for him when he came in. A dog kept
watch at the drawbridge; and except the dog and the wife, not a soul was
to be discerned about the place. Yet he had such little trust in her,
that he always sent spies to look about the room before he withdrew for
the night.

Of what use was it all? The woman herself killed him with his own sword,
and his soul went straight to hell.

Rhadamanthus, the judge there, thrust him under the boiling lake, but was
astonished to find that he betrayed no symptoms of anguish. He did not
weep and howl as the rest did, or cry out, "I burn, I burn!" He evinced
so little suffering, that Rhadamanthus said, "I must put this fellow into
other quarters." Accordingly, he sent him into the lowest pit, where the
torments are beyond all others.

Nevertheless, even here he seemed to be under no distress. At length they
asked him the reason. The wretch then candidly acknowledged, that hell
itself had no torments for him, compared with those which suspicion had
given him on earth.

The sages of hell laid their heads together at this news. Amelioration of
his lot on the part of a sinner was not to be thought of in a place of
eternal punishment; so they called a parliament together, the result of
which was an unanimous conclusion, that the man should be sent back to
earth, and consigned to the torments of suspicion for ever.

He went; and the earthly fiend re-entered his being anew with a subtlety
so incorporate, that their two natures were identified, and he became
SUSPICION ITSELF. Fruits are thus engrafted on wild stocks. One colour
thus becomes the parent of many, when the painter takes a portion of this
and of that from his palette in order to imitate flesh.

The new being took up his abode on a rock by the sea-shore, a thousand
feet high, girt all about with mouldering crags, which threatened every
instant to fall. It had a fortress on the top, the approach to which was
by seven drawbridges, and seven gates, each locked up more strongly than
the other; and here, now this moment, constantly thinking Death is upon
him, Suspicion lives in everlasting terror. He is alone. He is ever
watching. He cries out from the battlements, to see that the guards are
awake below, and never does he sleep day or night. He wears mail upon
mail, and mail again, and feels the less safe the more he puts on; and is
always altering and strengthening everything on gate, and on barricado,
and on ditch, and on wall. And do whatever he will, he never seems to
have done enough.

       *       *       *       *       *

Great poet, and good man, Ariosto! your terrors are better than Dante's;
for they warn, as far as warning can do good, and they neither afflict
humanity nor degrade God.

Spenser has imitated this sublime piece of pleasantry; for, by a curious
intermixture of all which the mind can experience from such a fiction,
pleasant it is in the midst of its sublimity,--laughable with satirical
archness, as well as grand and terrible in the climax. The transformation
in Spenser is from a jealous man into Jealousy. His wife has gone to live
with the Satyrs, and a villain has stolen his money. The husband, in
order to persuade his wife to return, steals into the horde of the
Satyrs, by mixing with their flock of goats,--as Norandino does in a
passage imitated from Homer by Ariosto. The wife flatly refuses to do any
such thing, and the poor wretch is obliged to steal out again.

  "So soon as he the prison door did pass,
    He ran as fast as both his feet could bear,
    And never looked who behind him was,
    Nor scarcely who before. Like as a bear
    That creeping close among the hives, to rear
    An honeycomb, the wakeful dogs espy,
    And him assailing, sore his carcass tear,
    That hardly he away with life does fly,
  Nor stays till safe himself he see from jeopardy.

    Nor stay'd he till be came unto the place
    Where late his treasure he entombèd had;
    Where, when he found it not (for Trompart base
    Had it purloined for his master bad),
    With extreme fury he became quite mad,
    And ran away--ran with himself away;
    That who so strangely had him seen bestad,
    With upstart hair and staring eyes' dismay,
  From Limbo-lake him late escapèd sure would say.

    High over hills and over dales he fled,
    As if the wind him on his wings had borne;
    Nor bank nor bush could stay him, when he sped
    His nimble feet, as treading still on thorn;
    Grief, and Despite, and Jealousy, and Scorn,
    Did all the way him follow hard behind;
    And he himself himself loath'd so forlorn,
    So shamefully forlorn of womankind,
  That, as a snake, still lurkèd in his wounded mind.

    Still fled he forward, looking backward still;
    Nor stay'd his flight nor fearful agony
    Till that he came unto a rocky hill
    Over the sea suspended dreadfully,
    That living creature it would terrify
    To look a-down, or upward to the height
    From thence he threw himself dispiteously,
    All desperate of his fore-damnèd spright,
  That seem'd no help for him was left in living sight.

    But through long anguish and self-murd'ring thought,
    He was so wasted and forpinèd quite,
    That all his substance was consumed to nought,
    And nothing left but like an airy sprite;
    That on the rocks he fell so flit and light,
    That he thereby received no hurt at all;
    But chancèd on a craggy cliff to light;
    Whence he with crooked claws so long did crawl,
  That at the last he found a cave with entrance small.

    Into the same he creeps, and thenceforth there
    Resolved to build his baleful mansion,
    In dreary darkness, and continual fear
    Of that rock's fall, which ever and anon
    Threats with huge ruin him to fall upon,
    That he dare never sleep, but that one eye
    Still ope he keeps for that occasion;
    Nor ever rests he in tranquillity,
  The roaring billows beat his bower so boisterously.

    Nor ever is he wont on aught to feed
    But toads and frogs, his pasture poisonous,
    Which in his cold complexion do breed
    A filthy blood, or humour rancorous,
    Matter of doubt and dread suspicious,
    That doth with cureless care consume the heart,
    Corrupts the stomach with gall vicious,
    Cross-cuts the liver with internal smart,
  And doth transfix the soul with death's eternal dart.

    Yet can he never die, but dying lives,
    And doth himself with sorrow new sustain,
    That death and life at once unto him gives,
    And painful pleasure turns to pleasing pain;
    There dwells he ever, miserable swain,
    Hateful both to himself and every wight;
    Where he, through privy grief and horror vain,
    Is waxen so deformed, that he has quite
  Forgot he was a man, and Jealousy is hight."

Spenser's picture is more subtly wrought and imaginative than Ariosto's;
but it removes the man farther from ourselves, except under very special
circumstances. Indeed, it might be taken rather for a picture of
hypochondria than jealousy, and under that aspect is very appalling. But
nothing, under more obvious circumstances, comes so dreadfully home to us
as Ariosto's poor wretch feeling himself "the less safe the more he puts
on," and calling out dismally from his tower, a thousand feet high, to
the watchers and warders below to see that all is secure.

[Footnote 1: This daring and grand apologue is not in the _Furioso_, but
in a poem which Ariosto left unfinished, and which goes under the name
of the _Five Cantos_. The fragment, though bearing marks of want of
correction, is in some respects a beautiful, and altogether a curious
one, especially as it seems to have been written after the _Furioso_;
for it touches in a remarkable manner on several points of morals and
politics, and contains an extravagance wilder than any thing in Pulci,--a
whale _inhabited_ by knights! It was most likely for these reasons that
his friend Bembo and others advised him to suppress it. Was it written in
his youth? The apologue itself is not one of the least daring attacks on
the Borgias and such scoundrels, who had just then afflicted Italy.

Did Ariosto, by the way, omit Macchiavelli in his list of the friends who
hailed the close of his great poem, from not knowing what to make of his
book entitled the _Prince?_ It has perplexed all the world to this day,
and is not unlikely to have made a particularly unpleasant impression on
a mind at once so candid and humane as Ariosto's.]

[Footnote 2: A tremendous fancy this last!

  "Sta for la pena, de la qual dicea
    Che nacque quando la brutt'Ira nacque,
  La Crudeltade, e la Rapina rea;
    E quantunque in un ventre con for giacque,
  Di tormentarle mai non rimanea."]


Rodomont, King of Algiers, was the fiercest of all the enemies of
Christendom, not out of love for his own faith (for he had no piety), but
out of hatred to those that opposed him. He had now quarrelled, however,
with his friends too. He had been rejected by a lady, in favour of the
Tartar king, Mandricardo, and mortified by the publicity of the rejection
before his own lord paramount, Agramante, the leader of the infidel
armies. He could not bear the rejection; he could not bear the sanction
of it by his liege lord; he resolved to quit the scene of warfare and
return to Africa; and, in the course of his journey thither, he had come
into the south of France, where, observing a sequestered spot that suited
his humour, be changed his mind as to going home, and persuaded himself
he could live in it for the rest of his life. He accordingly took up his
abode with his attendants in a chapel, which had been deserted by its
clergy during the rage of war.

This vehement personage was standing one morning at the door of the
chapel in a state of unusual thoughtfulness, when he beheld coming
towards him, through a path in the green meadow before it, a lady of
a lovely aspect, accompanied by a bearded monk. They were followed by
something covered with black, which they were bringing along on a great

Alas! the lady was the widow of Zerbino, the Scottish prince, who spared
the life of Medoro, and who now himself lay dead under that pall. He
had expired in her arms from wounds inflicted during a combat with
Mandricardo; and she had been thrown by the loss into such anguish of
mind that she would have died on his sword but for the intervention of
the hermit now with her, who persuaded her to devote the rest of her days
to God in a nunnery. She had now come into Provence with the good man for
that purpose, and to bury the corpse of her husband in the chapel which
they were approaching.

Though the lady seemed lost in grief, and was very pale, and had her hair
all about the ears, and though she did nothing but weep and lament, and
looked in all respects quite borne down with her misery, nevertheless she
was still so beautiful that love and grace appeared to be indestructible
in her aspect. The moment the Saracen beheld her, he dismissed from his
mind all the determinations he had made to hate and detest

  The gentle bevy, that adorns the world.

He was bent solely on obtaining the new angel before him. She seemed
precisely the sort of person to make him forget the one that had rejected
him. Advancing, therefore, to meet her without delay, he begged, in as
gentle a manner as he could assume, to know the cause of her sorrow.

The lady, with all the candour of wretchedness, explained who she was,
and how precious a burden she was conveying to its last home, and the
resolution she had taken to withdraw from a vain world into the service
of God. The proud pagan, who had no belief in a God, much less any
respect for restraints or fidelities of what kind soever, forgot his
assumed gravity when he heard this determination, and laughed outright at
the simplicity of such a proceeding. He pronounced it, in his peremptory
way, to be foolish and frivolous; compared it with the miser who, in
burying a treasure, does good neither to himself nor any one else; and
said, that lions and serpents might indeed be shut up in cages, but not
things lovely and innocent.

The monk, overhearing these observations, thought it his duty to
interfere. He calmly opposed all which the other asserted, and then
proceeded to set forth a repast of spiritual consolation not at all to
the Saracen's taste. The fierce warrior interrupted the preacher several
times; told him that he had nothing to do with the lady, and that the
sooner he returned to his cell the better; but the hermit, nothing
daunted, went on with his advice till his antagonist lost all patience.
He laid hands on his sacred person; seized him by the beard; tore away
as much of it as he grasped; and at length worked himself up into such a
pitch of fury, that he griped the good man's throat with all the force of
a pair of pincers, and, swinging him twice or thrice round, as one might
a dog, flung him off the headland into the sea.

What became of the poor creature I cannot say. Reports are various. Some
tell us that he was found on the rocks, dashed all to pieces, so that you
could not distinguish foot from head; others, that he fell into the
sea at the distance of three miles, and perished in consequence of not
knowing how to swim, in spite of the prayers and tears that he addressed
to Heaven; others again affirm, that a saint came and assisted him, and
drew him to shore before people's eyes. I must leave the reader to adopt
which of these accounts he looks upon as the most probable.

The Pagan, as soon as he had thus disposed of the garrulous hermit,
turned towards Isabella (for that was the lady's name), and with a face
some what less disturbed, began to talk to her in the common language of
gallantry, protesting that she was his life and soul, and that he should
not know what to do without her; for the sweetness of her appearance
mollified even him; and indeed, with all his violence, he would rather
have possessed her by fair means than by foul. He therefore flattered
himself that, by a little hypocritical attention, he should dispose her
to return his inclinations.

On the other hand, the poor disconsolate creature, who, in a country
unknown to her, and a place so remote from help, felt like a mouse in the
cat's claws, began casting in her mind by what possible contrivance she
could escape from such a wretch with honour. She had made up her mind to
perish by her own hand, rather than be faithless, however unwillingly, to
the dear husband that had died in her arms: but the question was, how she
could protect herself from the pagan's violence, before she had secured
the means of so doing; for his manner was becoming very impatient, and
his speeches every moment less and less civil.

At length an expedient occurred to her. She told him, that if he would
promise to respect her virtue, she would put him in possession of a
secret that would redound far more to his honour and glory, than any
wrong which he could inflict on the innocent. She conjured him not to
throw away the satisfaction he would experience all the rest of his life
from the consciousness of having done right, for the sake of injuring one
unhappy creature. "There were thousands of her sex," she observed, "with
cheerful as well as beautiful faces, who might rejoice in his affection;
whereas the secret she spoke of was known to scarcely a soul on earth but

She then told him the secret; which consisted in the preparation of a
certain herb boiled with ivy and rue over a fire of cypress-wood, and
squeezed into a cup by hands that had never done harm. The juice thus
obtained, if applied fresh every month, had the virtue of rendering
bodies invulnerable. Isabella said she had seen the herb in the
neighbourhood, as she came along, and that she would not only make the
preparation forth-with, but let its effects be proved on her own person.
She only stipulated, that the receiver of the gift should swear not to
offend her purity in deed or word.

The fierce infidel took the oath immediately. It delighted him to think
that he should be enabled to have his fill of war and slaughter for
nothing; and the oath was the more easy to him, inasmuch as he had no
intention of keeping it.

The poor Isabella went into the fields to look for her miraculous herb,
still, however, attended by the Saracen, who would not let her go out of
his sight. She soon found it; and then going with him into his house,
passed the rest of the day and the whole night in preparing the mixture
with busy solemnity,--Rodomont always remaining with her.

The room became so hot and close with the fire of cypress-wood, that the
Saracen, contrary to his law and indeed to his habits, indulged himself
in drinking; and the consequence was, that, as soon as it was morning,
Isabella lost no time in proving to him the success of her operations.
"Now," she said, "you shall be convinced how much in earnest I have been.
You shall see all the virtue of this blessed preparation. I have only to
bathe myself thus, over the head and neck, and if you then strike me with
all your force, as though you intended to cut off my head,--which you
must do in good earnest,--you will see the wonderful result."

With a glad and rejoicing countenance the paragon of virtue held forth
her neck to the sword; and the bestial pagan, giving way to his natural
violence, and heated perhaps beyond all thought of a suspicion with his
wine, dealt it so fierce a blow, that the head leaped from the shoulders.

Thrice it bounded on the ground where it fell, and a clear voice was
heard to come out of it, calling the name of "Zerbino," doubtless in joy
of the rare way which its owner had found of escaping from the Saracen.

O blessed soul, that heldest thy virtue and thy fidelity dearer to thee
than life and youth! go in peace, then soul blessed and beautiful. If any
words of mine could have force in them sufficient to endure so long, hard
would I labour to give them all the worthiness that art can bestow, so
that the world might rejoice in thy name for thousands and thousands of
years. Go in peace, and take thy seat in the skies, and be an example to
womankind of faith beyond all weakness.

[Footnote 1: The ingenious martyrdom in this story, which has been told
by other writers of fiction, is taken from an alleged fact related in
Barbaro's treatise _De Re Uxoria_.It is said, indeed, to have been
actually resorted to more than once; and possibly may have been so, even
from a knowledge of it; for what is more natural with heroical minds than
that the like outrages should produce the like virtues? But the colouring
of Ariosto's narration is peculiarly his own; and his apostrophe at the
close beautiful.]


Critical Notice of his Life and Genius.

Critical Notice



The romantic poetry of Italy having risen to its highest and apparently
its most lawless pitch in the _Orlando Furioso_, a reaction took place in
the next age in the _Jerusalem Delivered_.It did not hurt, however, the
popularity of Ariosto. It only increased the number of poetic readers;
and under the auspices, or rather the control, of a Luther-fearing
Church, produced, if not as classical a work as it claimed to be, or
one, in the true sense of the word, as catholic as its predecessor, yet
certainly a far more Roman Catholic, and at the same time very delightful
fiction. The circle of fabulous narrative was thus completed, and a link
formed, though in a very gentle and qualified manner, both with Dante's
theocracy and the obvious regularity of the _Aeneid_, the oldest romance
of Italy.

The author of this epic of the Crusades was of a family so noble and
so widely diffused, that, under the patronage of the emperors and the
Italian princes, it flourished in a very remarkable manner, not only in
its own country, but in Flanders, Germany, and Spain. There was a
Tasso once in England, ambassador of Philip the Second; another, like
Cervantes, distinguished himself at the battle of Lepanto; and a third
gave rise to the sovereign German house of Tour and Taxis. _Taxus_ is the
Latin of Tasso. The Latin word, like the Italian, means both a badger
and a yew-tree; and the family in general appear to have taken it in the
former sense. The animal is in their coat of arms. But the poet, or his
immediate relatives, preferred being more romantically shadowed forth by
the yew-tree. The parent stock of the race was at Bergamo in Lombardy;
and here was born the father of Tasso, himself a poet of celebrity,
though his fame has been eclipsed by that of his son.

Bernardo Tasso, author of many elegant lyrics, of some volumes of
letters, not uninteresting but too florid, and of the _Amadigi_, an epic
romance now little read, was a man of small property, very honest and
good-hearted, but restless, ambitious, and with a turn for expense beyond
his means. He attached himself to various princes, with little ultimate
advantage, particularly to the unfortunate Sanseverino, Prince of
Salerno, whom he faithfully served for many years. The prince had a high
sense of his worth, and would probably have settled him in the wealth and
honours he was qualified to adorn, but for those Spanish oppressions in
the history of Naples which ended in the ruin of both master and servant.
Bernardo, however, had one happy interval of prosperity; and during this,
at the age of forty-six, he married Porzia di Rossi, a young lady of a
rich and noble family, with a claim to a handsome dowry. He spent some
delightful years with her at Sorrento, a spot so charming as to have been
considered the habitation of the Sirens; and here, in the midst of his
orange-trees, his verses, and the breezes of an aromatic coast, he had
three children, the eldest of whom was a daughter named Cornelia, and the
youngest the author of the _Jerusalem Delivered_. the other child died
young. The house distinguished by the poet's birth was restored from a
dilapidated condition by order of Joseph Bonaparte when King of Naples,
and is now an hotel.

Torquato Tasso was born March the 11th, 1544, nine years after the death
of Ariosto, who was intimate with his father. He was very devoutly
brought up; and grew so tall, and became so premature a scholar, that
at nine, he tells us, he might have been taken for a boy of twelve. At
eleven, in consequence of the misfortunes of his father, who had been
exiled with the Prince of Salerno, he was forced to part from his mother,
who remained at home to look after a dowry which she never received. Her
brothers deprived her of it; and in two years' time she died, Bernardo
thought by poison. Twenty-four years afterwards her illustrious son, in
the midst of his own misfortunes, remembered with sighs the tears with
which the kisses of his poor mother were bathed when she was forced to
let him go.[2]

The little Torquato following, as he says, like another Ascanius, the
footsteps of his wandering father, joined Bernardo in Rome. After two
years' study in that city, partly under an old priest who lived with
them, the vicissitudes of the father's lot took away the son first to
Bergamo, among his relations, and then to Pesaro, in the duchy of Urbino,
where his education was associated for nearly two years with that of the
young prince, afterwards Duke Francesco Maria the Second (della Rovere),
who retained a regard for him through life. In 1559 the boy joined his
father in Venice, where the latter had been appointed secretary to the
Academy; but next year he was withdrawn from these pleasing varieties
of scene by the parental delusion so common in the history of men of
letters--the study of the law; which Bernardo intended him to pursue
henceforth in the city of Padua. He accordingly arrived in Padua at the
age of sixteen and a half, and fulfilled his legal destiny by writing the
poem of _Rinaldo_, which was published in the course of less than two
years at Venice. The goodnatured and poetic father, convinced by this
specimen of jurisprudence how useless it was to thwart the hereditary
passion, permitted him to devote himself wholly to literature, which he
therefore went to study in the university of Bologna; and there, at the
early age of nineteen, he began his _Jerusalem Delivered_; that is to
say, he planned it, and wrote three cantos, several of the stanzas of
which he retained when the poem was matured. He quitted Bologna, however,
in a fit of indignation at being accused of the authorship of a satire;
and after visiting some friends at Castelvetro and Correggio, returned
to Padua on the invitation of his friend Scipio Gonzaga, afterwards
cardinal, who wished him to become a member of an academy he had
instituted, called the _Eterei_(Ethereals). Here he studied his favourite
philosopher, Plato, and composed three Discourses on Heroic Poetry,
dedicated to his friend. He now paid a visit to his father in Mantua,
where the unsettled man had become secretary to the duke; and here, it is
said, he fell in love with a young lady of a distinguished family, whose
name was Laura Peperara; but this did not hinder him from returning to
his Paduan studies, in which he spent nearly the whole of the following
year. He was then informed that the Cardinal of Este, to whom he had
dedicated his _Rinaldo_, and with whom interest had been made for the
purpose, had appointed him one of his attendants, and that he was
expected at Ferrara by the 1st of December. Returning to Mantua, in order
to prepare for this appointment with his father, he was seized with a
dangerous illness, which detained him there nearly a twelvemonth longer.
On his recovery he hastened to Ferrara, and arrived in that city on the
last day of October, 1565, the first of many years of glory and misery.

The cardinal of Este was the brother of the reigning Duke of Ferrara,
Alfonso the Second, grandson of the Alfonso of Ariosto. It is curious
to see the two most celebrated romantic poets of Italy thrown into
unfortunate connexion with two princes of the same house and the same
respective ranks. Tasso's cardinal, however, though the poet lost his
favour, and though very little is known about him, left no such bad
reputation behind him as Ippolito. It was in the service of the duke that
the poet experienced his sufferings.

This prince, who was haughty, ostentatious, and quarrelsome, was, at the
time of the stranger's arrival, rehearsing the shows and tournaments
intended to welcome his bride, the sister of the Emperor Maximilian the
Second. She was his second wife. The first was a daughter of the rival
house of Tuscany, which he detested; and the marriage had not been happy.
The new consort arrived in the course of a few weeks, entering the city
in great pomp; and for a time all went happily with the young poet. He
was in a state of ecstasy with the beauty and grandeur he beheld around
him--obtained the favourable notice of the duke's two sisters and the
duke himself--went on with his _Jerusalem Delivered_, which, in spite of
the presence of Ariosto's memory, he was resolved to load with praises of
the house of Este; and in this tumult of pride and expectation, he beheld
the duke, like one of the heroes of his poem, set out to assist the
emperor against the Turks at the head of three hundred gentlemen, armed
at all points, and mantled in various-coloured velvets embroidered with

To complete the young poet's happiness, or commence his disappointments,
he fell in love, notwithstanding the goddess he had left in Mantua, with
the beautiful Lucrezia Bendidio, who does not seem, however, to have
loved in return; for she became the wife of a Macchiavelli. Among his
rivals was Guarini, who afterwards emulated him in pastoral poetry, and
who accused him on this occasion of courting two ladies at once.

Guarini's accusation has been supposed to refer to the duke's sister
Leonora, whose name has become so romantically mixed up with the poet's
biography; but the latest inquiries render it probable that the allusion
was to Laura Peperara.[3] The young poet, however, who had not escaped
the influence of the free manners of Italy, and whose senses and vanity
may hitherto have been more interested than his heart, rhymed and
flattered on all sides of him, not of course omitting the charms of
princesses. In order to win the admiration of the ladies in a body, he
sustained for three days, in public, after the fashion of the times,
_Fifty Amorous Conclusions_; that is to say, affirmations on the subject
of love; doubtless to the equal delight of his fair auditors and himself,
and the creation of a good deal of jealousy and ill-will on the part of
such persons of his own sex as had not wit or spirits enough for the
display of so much logic and love-making.

In 1569, the death of his father, who had been made governor of Ostiglia
by the Duke of Mantua, cost the loving son a fit of illness; but the
continuation of his _Jerusalem_, an _Oration_ spoken at the opening of
the Ferrarese academy, the marriage of Leonora's sister Lucrezia with the
Prince of Urbino, and the society of Leonora herself, who led the retired
life of a person in delicate health, and was fond of the company of men
of letters, helped to divert him from melancholy recollections; and a
journey to France, at the close of the year following, took him into
scenes that were not only totally new, but otherwise highly interesting
to the singer of Godfrey of Boulogne. The occasion of it was a visit of
the cardinal, his master, to the court of his relative Charles the Ninth.
It is supposed that his Eminence went to confer with the king on matters
relative to the disputes which not long afterwards occasioned the
detestable massacre of St. Bartholomew.

Before his departure, Tasso put into the hands of one of his friends a
document, which, as it is very curious, and serves to illustrate perhaps
more than one cause of his misfortunes, is here given entire.

_Memorial left by Tasso on his departure to France._

"Since life is frail, and it may please Almighty God to dispose of me
otherwise in this my journey to France, it is requested of Signor Ercole
Rondinelli that he will, in that case, undertake the management of the
following concerns:

"In the first place, with regard to my compositions, it is my wish that
all my love-sonnets and madrigals should be collected and published; but
with regard to those, whether amatory or otherwise, _which I have written
for any friend_, my request is, that _they should be buried with myself_,
save only the one commencing "_Or che l'aura mia dolce altrove spira_." I
wish the publication of the _Oration_ spoken in Ferrara at the opening of
the academy, of the four books on _Heroic Poetry_, of the six last cantos
of the _Godfrey_ (the _Jerusalem_), and of those stanzas of the two first
which shall seem least imperfect. All these compositions, however, are to
be submitted to the review and consideration of Signor Scipio Gonzaga, of
Signor Domenico Veniero, and of Signor Battista Guarini, who, I persuade
myself, will not refuse this trouble, when they consider the zealous
friendship I have entertained for themselves.

"Let them be informed, too, that it was my intention that they should
cut and hew without mercy whatever should appear to them defective or
superfluous. With regard to additions or changes, I should wish them
to proceed more cautiously, since, after all, the poem would remain
imperfect. As to my other compositions, should there be any which, to
the aforesaid Signor Rondinelli and the other gentlemen, might seem not
unworthy of publication, let them be disposed of according to their

"In respect to my property, I wish that such part of it as I have
_pledged to Abram --_ for twenty-five lire, and seven pieces of arras,
which are _likewise in pledge to Signor Ascanio for thirteen scudi_,
together with whatever I have in this house, should be sold, and that the
overplus of the proceeds should go to defray the expense of the following
epitaph to be inscribed on a monument to my father, whose body is in St.
Polo. And should any impediment take place in these matters, I entreat
Signor Ercole _to have recourse to the favour of the most excellent
Madame Leonora, whose liberality I confide in, for my sake._

"I, Torquato Tasso, have written this, Ferrara, 1570."

I shall have occasion to recur to this document by and by. I will merely
observe, for the present, that the marks in it, both of imprudence in
money-matters and confidence in the goodwill of a princess, are very
striking. "Abram" and "Signor Ascanio" were both Jews. The pieces of
arras belonged to his father; and probably this was an additional reason
why the affectionate son wished the proceeds to defray the expense of the
epitaph. The epitaph recorded his father's poetry, state-services, and
vicissitudes of fortune.

Tasso was introduced to the French king as the poet of a French hero and
of a Catholic victory; and his reception was so favourable (particularly
as the wretched Charles, the victim of his mother's bigotry, had himself
no mean poetic feeling), that, with a rash mixture of simplicity and
self-reliance (respect makes me unwilling to call it self-importance),
the poet expressed an impolitic amount of astonishment at the favour
shewn at court to the Hugonots--little suspecting the horrible design it
covered. He shortly afterwards broke with his master the cardinal; and
it is supposed that this unseasonable escape of zeal was the cause. He
himself appears to have thought so.[4] Perhaps the cardinal only wanted
to get the imprudent poet back to Italy; for, on Tasso's return to
Ferrara, he was not only received into the service of the duke with
a salary of some fifteen golden scudi a-month, but told that he was
exempted from any particular duty, and might attend in peace to his
studies. Balzac affirms, that while Tasso was at the court of France, he
was so poor as to beg a crown from a friend; and that, when he left it,
he had the same coat on his back that he came in.[5] The assertions of a
professed wit and hyperbolist are not to be taken for granted; yet it is
difficult to say to what shifts improvidence may not be reduced.

The singer of the house of Este would now, it might have been supposed,
be happy. He had leisure; he had money; he had the worldly honours that
he was fond of; he occupied himself in perfecting the _Jerusalem_; and he
wrote his beautiful pastoral, the _Aminta_, which was performed before
the duke and his court to the delight of the brilliant assembly. The
duke's sister Lucrezia, princess of Urbino, who was a special friend of
the poet, sent for him to read it to her at Pesaro; and in the course of
the ensuing carnival it was performed with similar applause at the
court of her father-in-law. The poet had been as much enchanted by the
spectacle which the audience at Ferrara presented to his eyes, as the
audience with the loves and graces with which he enriched their stage.
The shepherd Thyrsis; by whom he meant himself, reflected it back upon
them in a passage of the performance. It is worth while dwelling on this
passage a little, because it exhibits a brief interval of happiness in
the author's life, and also chews us what he had already begun to
think of courts at the moment he was praising them. But he ingeniously
contrives to put the praise in his own mouth, and the blame in another's.
The shepherd's friend, Mopsus (by whom Tasso is thought to have meant
Speroni), had warned him against going to court

  "Però, figlio,
  Va su l'avviso," &c.

  "Therefore, my son, take my advice. Avoid
  The places where thou seest much drapery,
  Colours, and gold, and plumes, and heraldries,
  And such new-fanglements. But, above all,
  Take care how evil chance or youthful wandering
  Bring thee upon the house of Idle Babble."
  "What place is that?" said I; and he resumed;--
  "Enchantresses dwell there, who make one see
  Things as they are not, ay and hear them too.
  That which shall seem pure diamond and fine gold
  Is glass and brass; and coffers that look silver,
  Heavy with wealth, are baskets full of bladders.[6]

         *       *       *       *       *

  The very walls there are so strangely made,
  They answer those who talk; and not in syllables,
  Or bits of words, like echo in our woods,
  But go the whole talk over, word for word,
  With something else besides, that no one said[7].
  The tressels, tables, bedsteads, curtains, lockers,
  Chairs, and whatever furniture there is
  In room or bedroom, all have tongues and speech,
  And are for ever tattling. Idle Babble
  Is always going about, playing the child;
  And should a dumb man enter in that place,
  The dumb would babble in his own despite.
  And yet this evil is the least of all
  That might assail thee. Thou might'st be arrested
  In fearful transformation to a willow,
  A beast, fire, water,--fire for ever sighing,
  Water for ever weeping."--Here he ceased:
  And I, with all this fine foreknowledge, went
  To the great city; and, by Heaven's kind will,
  Came where they live so happily. The first sound
  I heard was a delightful harmony,
  Which issued forth, of voices loud and sweet;--Sirens,
  and swans, and nymphs, a heavenly noise
  Of heavenly things;--which gave me such delight,
  That, all admiring, and amazed, and joyed,
  I stopped awhile quite motionless. There stood
  Within the entrance, as if keeping guard
  Of those fine things, one of a high-souled aspect,
  Stalwart withal, of whom I was in doubt

  Whether to think him better knight or leader.[8]
  He, with a look at once benign and grave,
  In royal guise, invited me within;
  He, great and in esteem; me, lorn and lowly.
  Oh, the sensations and the sights which then
  Shower'd on me! Goddesses I saw, and nymphs
  Graceful and beautiful, and harpers fine
  As Linus or as Orpheus; and more deities,
  All without veil or cloud, bright as the virgin
  Aurora, when she glads immortal eyes,
  And sows her beams and dew-drops, silver and gold.

In the summer of 1574, the Duke of Ferrara went to Venice to pay his
respects to the successor of Charles the Ninth, Henry the Third, then on
his way to France from his kingdom of Poland. Tasso went with the duke,
and is understood to have taken the opportunity of looking for a printer
of his _Jerusalem_, which was now almost finished. Writers were anxious
to publish in that crafty city, because its government would give no
security of profit to books printed elsewhere. Alfonso, who was in
mourning for Henry's brother, and to whom mourning itself only suggested
a new occasion of pomp and vanity, took with him to this interview five
hundred Ferrarese gentlemen, all dressed in long black cloaks; who
walking about Venice (says a reporter) "by twos and threes," wonderfully
impressed the inhabitants with their "gravity and magnificence."[9] The
mourners feasted, however; and Tasso had a quartan fever, which delayed
the completion of the _Jerusalem_ till next year. This was at length
effected; and now once more, it might have been thought, that the writer
would have reposed on his laurels.

But Tasso had already begun to experience the uneasiness attending
superiority; and, unfortunately, the strength of his mind was not equal
to that of his genius. He was of an ultra-sensitive temperament, and
subject to depressing fits of sickness. He could not calmly bear envy.
Sarcasm exasperated, and hostile criticism afflicted him. The seeds of a
suspicious temper were nourished by prosperity itself. The author of the
_Armida_ and the _Jerusalem_ began to think the attentions he received
unequal to his merits; while with a sort of hysterical mixture of demand
for applause, and provocation of censure, he not only condescended to
read his poems in manuscript wherever he went, but, in order to secure
the goodwill of the papal licenser, he transmitted it for revisal to
Rome, where it was mercilessly criticised for the space of two years by
the bigots and hypocrites of a court, which Luther had rendered a very
different one from that in the time of Ariosto.

This new source of chagrin exasperated the complexional restlessness,
which now made our author think that he should be more easy any where
than in Ferrara; perhaps more able to communicate with and convince
his critics; and, unfortunately, he permitted himself to descend to a
weakness the most fatal of all others to a mind naturally exalted
and ingenuous. Perhaps it was one of the main causes of all which he
suffered. Indeed, he himself attributed his misfortunes to irresolution.
What I mean in the present instance was, that he did not disdain to adopt
underhand measures. He skewed a face of satisfaction with Alfonso, at the
moment that he was taking steps to exchange his court for another. He
wrote for that purpose to his friend Scipio Gonzaga, now a prelate at the
court of Rome, earnestly begging him, at the same time, not to commit him
in their correspondence; and Scipio, who was one of his kindest and most
indulgent friends, and who doubtless saw that the Duke of Ferrara and his
poet were not of dispositions to accord, did all he could to procure him
an appointment with one of the family of the Medici.

Most unhappily for this speculation (and perhaps even the good-natured
Gonzaga took a little more pleasure in it on that account), Alfonso
inherited all the detestation of his house for that lucky race; and it is
remarkable, that the same jealousies which hindered Ariosto's advancement
with the Medici were still more fatal to the hopes of Tasso; for they
served to plunge him into the deepest adversity. In vain he had warnings
given him, both friendly and hostile. The princess, now Duchess of
Urbino, who was his particular friend, strongly cautioned him against the
temptation of going away. She said he was watched. He himself thought his
letters were opened; and probably they were. They certainly were at a
subsequent period. Tasso, however, persisted, and went to Rome. Scipio
Gonzaga introduced him to Cardinal Ferdinand de' Medici, afterwards Grand
Duke of Tuscany; and Ferdinand made him offers of protection so handsome,
that they excited his suspicion. The self-tormenting poet thought they
savoured more of hatred to the Este family, than honour to himself.[10]
He did not accept them. He did nothing at Rome but make friends, in order
to perplex them; listen to his critics, in order to worry himself;
and perform acts of piety in the churches, by way of shewing that the
love-scenes in the _Jerusalem_ were innocent. For the bigots had begun to
find something very questionable in mixing up so much love with war. The
bloodshed they had no objection to. The love bearded their prejudices,
and excited their envy.

Tasso returned to Ferrara, and endeavoured to solace himself
with eulogising two fair strangers who had arrived at Alfonso's
court,--Eleonora Sanvitale, who had been newly married to the Count of
Scandiano (a Tiene, not a Boiardo, whose line was extinct), and Barbara
Sanseverino, Countess of Sala, her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, who
was a Juno-like beauty, wore her hair in the form of a crown. The still
more beautiful daughter-in-law had an under lip such as Anacreon or Sir
John Suckling would have admired,--pouting and provoking,--[prokaloymenon
phileama]. Tasso wrote verses on them both, but particularly to the lip;
and this Countess of Scandiano is the second, out of the three Leonoras,
with whom Tasso was said by his friend Manso to have been in love. The
third, it is now ascertained, never existed; and his love-making to the
new, or second Leonora, goes to shew how little of real passion there was
in the praises of the first (the Princess Leonora), or probably of
any lady at court. He even professed love, as a forlorn hope, to the
countess's waiting-maid. Yet these gallantries of sonnets are exalted
into bewilderments of the heart.

His restlessness returning, the poet now condescended to craft a second
time. Expecting to meet with a refusal, and so to be afforded a
pretext for quitting Ferrara, he applied for the vacant office of
historiographer. It was granted him; and he then disgusted the Medici by
pleading an unlooked-for engagement, which he could only reconcile to his
applications for their favour by renouncing his claim to be believed. If
he could have deceived others, why might he not have deceived them?

All the lurking weakness of the poet's temperament began to display
itself at this juncture. His perplexity excited him to a degree of
irritability bordering on delirium; and circumstances conspired to
increase it. He had lent an acquaintance the key of his rooms at court,
for the purpose (he tells us) of accommodating some intrigue; and
he suspected this person of opening cabinets containing his papers.
Remonstrating with him one day in the court of the palace, either on that
or some other account, the man gave him the lie. He received in return
a blow on the face, and is said by Tasso to have brought a set of his
kinsmen to assassinate him, all of whom the heroical poet immediately put
to flight. At one time he suspected the duke of jealousy respecting
the dedication of his poem, and at another, of a wish to burn it. He
suspected his servants. He became suspicious of the truth of his friend
Gonzaga. He doubted, even, whether some praises addressed to him by
Orazio Ariosto, the nephew of the great poet, which, one would have
thought, would have been to him a consummation of bliss, were not
intended to mystify and hurt him. At length he fancied that his
persecutors had accused him of heresy to the Inquisition; and, as he had
gone through the metaphysical doubts, common with most men of reflection
respecting points of faith and the mysteries of creation, he feared that
some indiscreet words had escaped him, giving colour to the charge. He
thus beheld enemies all around him. He dreaded stabbing and poison; and
one day, in some paroxysm of rage or horror, how occasioned it is not
known, ran with a knife or dagger at one of the servants of the Duchess
of Urbino in her own chamber.

Alfonso, upon this, apparently in the mildest and most reasonable manner,
directed that he should be confined to his apartments, and put into the
hands of the physician. These unfortunate events took place in the summer
of 1577, and in the poet's thirty-third year.

Tasso shewed so much affliction at this treatment, and, at the same time,
bore it so patiently, that the duke took him to his beautiful country
seat of Belriguardo; where, in one of his accounts of the matter, the
poet says that he treated him as a brother; but in another, he accuses
him of having taken pains to make him criminate himself, and confess
certain matters, real or supposed, the nature of which is a puzzle with
posterity. Some are of opinion (and this is the prevailing one), that he
was found guilty of being in love with the Princess Leonora, perhaps of
being loved by herself. Others think the love out of the question, and
that the duke was concerned at nothing but his endeavouring to transfer
his services and his poetic reputation into the hands of the Medici.
Others see in the duke's conduct nothing but that of a good master
interesting himself in the welfare of an afflicted servant.

It is certain that Alfonso did all he could to prevent the surreptitious
printing of the _Jerusalem Delivered_ in various towns of Italy, the
dread of which had much afflicted the poet; and he also endeavoured,
though in vain, to ease his mind on the subject of the Inquisition;
for these facts are attested by state-papers and other documents, not
dependent either on the testimony of third persons or the partial
representations of the sufferer. But Tasso felt so uneasy at Belriguardo,
that he requested leave to retire a while into a convent. He remained
there several days, apparently so much to his satisfaction, that he wrote
to the duke to say that it was his intention to become a friar; and, yet
he had no sooner got into the place, than he addressed a letter to the
Inquisition at Rome, beseeching it to desire permission for him to come
to that city, in order to clear himself from the charges of his enemies.
He also wrote to two other friends, requesting them to further his
petition; and adding that the duke was enraged with him in consequence of
the anger of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who, it is supposed, had accused
Tasso of having revealed to Alfonso some indecent epithet which his
highness had applied to him.[11] These letters were undoubtedly
intercepted, for they were found among the secret archives of Modena,
the only principality ultimately remaining in the Este family; so that,
agreeably to the saying of listeners hearing no good of themselves, if
Alfonso did not know the epithet before, he learnt it then. The reader
may conceive his feelings. Tasso, too, at the same time, was plaguing
him with letters to similar purpose; and it is observable, that while
in those which he sent to Rome he speaks of Cosmo de' Medici as "Grand
Duke," he takes care in the others to call him simply the "Duke of
Florence." Alfonso had been exasperated to the last degree at Cosmo's
having had the epithet "Grand" added by the Pope to his ducal title;
and the reader may imagine the little allowance that would be made by
a haughty and angry prince for the rebellious courtesy thus shewn to a
detested rival. Tasso, furthermore, who had not only an infantine hatred
of bitter "physic," but reasonably thought the fashion of the age
for giving it a ridiculous one, begged hard, in a manner which it is
humiliating to witness, that he might not be drenched with medicine. The
duke at length forbade his writing to him any more; and Tasso, whose
fears of every kind of ill usage had been wound up to a pitch unbearable,
watched an opportunity when he was carelessly guarded, and fled at once
from the convent and Ferrara.

The unhappy poet selected the loneliest ways he could find, and directed
his course to the kingdom of Naples, where his sister lived. He was
afraid of pursuit; he probably had little money; and considering his ill
health and his dread of the Inquisition, it is pitiable to think what he
may have endured while picking his long way through the back states of
the Church and over the mountains of Abruzzo, as far as the Gulf of
Naples. For better security, he exchanged clothes with a shepherd; and as
he feared even his sister at first, from doubting whether she still
loved him, his interview with her was in all its circumstances painfully
dramatic. Cornelia Tasso, now a widow, with two sons, was still residing
at Sorrento, where the poet, casting his eyes around him as he
proceeded towards the house, must have beheld with singular feelings of
wretchedness the lovely spots in which he had been a happy little boy. He
did not announce himself at once. He brought letters, he said, from the
lady's brother; and it is affecting to think, that whether his sister
might or might not have retained otherwise any personal recollection
of him since that time (for he had not seen her in the interval), his
disguise was completed by the alterations which sorrow had made in his
appearance. For, at all events, she did not know him. She saw in him
nothing but a haggard stranger who was acquainted with the writer of the
letters, and to whom they referred for particulars of the risk which
her brother ran, unless she could afford him her protection. These
particulars were given by the stranger with all the pathos of the real
man, and the loving sister fainted away. On her recovery, the visitor
said what he could to reassure her, and then by degrees discovered
himself. Cornelia welcomed him in the tenderest manner. She did all that
he desired; and gave out to her friends that the gentleman was a cousin
from Bergamo, who had come to Naples on family affairs.

For a little while, the affection of his sister, and the beauty and
freshness of Sorrento, rendered the mind of Tasso more easy: but his
restlessness returned. He feared he had mortally offended the Duke of
Ferrara; and, with his wonted fluctuation of purpose, he now wished to be
restored to his presence for the very reason he had run away from it. He
did not know with what vengeance he might be pursued. He wrote to the
duke; but received no answer. The Duchess of Urbino was equally silent.
Leonora alone responded, but with no encouragement. These appearances
only made him the more anxious to dare or to propitiate his doom; and he
accordingly determined to put himself in the duke's hands. His sister
entreated him in vain to alter his resolution. He quitted her before the
autumn was over; and, proceeding to Rome, went directly to the house of
the duke's agent there, who, in concert with the Ferrarese ambassador,
gave his master advice of the circumstance. Gonzaga, however, and another
good friend, Cardinal Albano, doubted whether it would be wise in the
poet to return to Ferrara under any circumstances. They counselled him
to be satisfied with being pardoned at a distance, and with having his
papers and other things returned to him; and the two friends immediately
wrote to the duke requesting as much. The duke apparently acquiesced in
all that was desired; but he said that the illness of his sister, the
Duchess of Urbino, delayed the procuration of the papers, which, it
seems, were chiefly in her hands. The upshot was, that the papers did not
come; and Tasso, with a mixture of rage and fear, and perhaps for more
reasons than he has told, became uncontrollably desirous of retracing the
rest of his steps to Ferrara.

Love may have been among these reasons--probably was; though it does not
follow that the passion must have been for a princess. The poet now,
therefore, petitioned to that effect; and Alfonso wrote again, and said
he might come, but only on condition of his again undergoing the ducal
course of medicine; adding, that if he did not, he was to be finally
expelled his highness's territories.

He was graciously received--too graciously, it would seem, for his
equanimity; for it gave him such a flow of spirits, that the duke appears
to have thought it necessary to repress them. The unhappy poet, at this,
began to have some of his old suspicions; and the unaccountable detention
of his papers confirmed them. He made an effort to keep the suspicions
down, but it was by means, unfortunately, of drowning them in wine and
jollity; and this gave him such a fit of sickness as had nearly been his
death. He recovered, only to make a fresh stir about his papers, and
a still greater one about his poems in general, which, though his
_Jerusalem_ was yet only known in manuscript, and not even his _Aminta_
published, he believed ought to occupy the attention of mankind. People
at Ferrara, therefore, not foreseeing the respect that posterity would
entertain for the poet, and having no great desire perhaps to encourage a
man who claimed to be a rival of their countryman Ariosto, now began to
consider their Neapolitan guest not merely an ingenious and pitiable, but
an overweening and tiresome enthusiast. The court, however, still seemed
to be interested in its panegyrist, though Tasso feared that Alfonso
meant to burn his _Jerusalem_. Alfonso, on the other hand, is supposed to
have feared that he would burn it himself, and the ducal praises with it.
The papers, at all events, apparently including the only fair copy of the
poem, were constantly withheld; and Tasso, in a new fit of despair,
again quitted Ferrara. This mystery of the papers is certainly very

The poet's first steps were to Mantua, where he met with no such
reception as encouraged him to stay. He then went to Urbino, but did not
stop long. The prince, it is true, was very gracious; and bandages for
a cautery were applied by the fair hands of his highness's sister; but,
though the nurse enchanted, the surgery frightened him. The hapless poet
found himself pursued wherever he went by the tormenting beneficence
of medicine. He escaped, and went to Turin. He had no passport; and
presented, besides, so miserable an appearance, that the people at the
gates roughly refused him admittance. He was well received, however, at
court; and as he had begun to acknowledge that he was subject to humours
and delusions, and wrote to say as much to Cardinal Albano, who returned
him a most excellent and affecting letter, full of the kindest regard
and good counsel, his friends entertained a hope that he would become
tranquil. But he disappointed them. He again applied to Alfonso for
permission to return to Ferrara--again received it, though on worse than
the old conditions--and again found himself in that city in the beginning
of the year 1579, delighted at seeing a brilliant assemblage from all
quarters of Italy on occasion of a new marriage of the duke's (with a
princess of Mantua). He made up his mind to think that nothing could be
denied him, at such a moment, by the bridegroom whom he meant to honour
and glorify.

Alas! the very circumstance to which he looked for success, tended to
throw him into the greatest of his calamities. Alfonso was to be married
the day after the poet's arrival. He was therefore too busy to attend to
him. The princesses did not attend to him. Nobody attended to him. He
again applied in vain for his papers. He regretted his return; became
anxious to be any where else; thought himself not only neglected but
derided; and at length became excited to a pitch of frenzy. He broke
forth into the most unmeasured invectives against the duke, even in
public; invoked curses on his head and that of his whole race; retracted
all he had ever said in the praise of any of them, prince or otherwise;
and pronounced him and his whole court "a parcel of ingrates, rascals,
and poltroons."[12] The outbreak was reported to the duke; and the
consequence was, that the poet was sent to the hospital of St. Anne,
an establishment for the reception of the poor and lunatic, where he
remained (with the exception of a few unaccountable leave-days) upwards
of seven years. This melancholy event happened in the March of the year

Tasso was stunned by this blow as much as if he had never done or
suffered any thing to expect it. He could at first do nothing but wonder
and bewail himself, and implore to be set free. The duke answered, that
he must be cured first. Tasso replied by fresh entreaties; the duke
returned the same answers. The unhappy poet had recourse to every friend,
prince, and great man he could think of, to join his entreaties; he
sought refuge in composition, but still entreated; he occasionally
reproached and even bantered the duke in some of his letters to his
friends, all of which, doubtless, were opened; but still he entreated,
flattered, adored, all to no purpose, for seven long years and upwards.
In time he became subject to maniacal illusions; so that if he was not
actually mad before, he was now considered so. He was not only visited
with sights and sounds, such as many people have experienced whose brains
have been over-excited, but he fancied himself haunted by a sprite, and
become the sport of "magicians." The sprite stole his things, and the
magicians would not let him get well. He had a vision such as Benvenuto
Cellini had, of the Virgin Mary in her glory; and his nights were so
miserable, that he ate too much in order that he might sleep. When he
was temperate, he lay awake. Sometimes he felt "as if a horse had thrown
himself on him." "Have pity on me," he says to the friend to whom he
gives these affecting accounts; "I am miserable, because the world is

The physicians advised him to leave off wine; but he says he could not do
that, though he was content to use it in moderation. In truth he required
something to support him against the physicians themselves, for they
continued to exhaust his strength by their medicines, and could not
supply the want of it with air and freedom. He had ringings in the ears,
vomits, and fluxes of blood. It would be ludicrous, if it were not
deplorably pathetic, to hear so great a man, in the commonest
medical terms, now protesting against the eternal drenches of these
practitioners, now humbly submitting to them, and now entreating like a
child, that they might at least not be "so bitter." The physicians, with
the duke at their head, were as mad for their rhubarbs and lancets as the
quacks in Molière; and nothing but the very imagination that had nearly
sacrificed the poet's life to their ignorance could have hindered
him from dashing his head against the wall, and leaving them to the
execrations of posterity. It is the only occasion in which the noble
profession of medicine has not appeared in wise and beneficent connexion
with the sufferings of men of letters. Why did Ferrara possess no
Brocklesby in those days? no Garth, Mead, Warren, or Southwood Smith?

Tasso enabled himself to endure his imprisonment with composition. He
supported it with his poetry and his poem, and what, alas! he had been
too proud of during his liberty, the praises of his admirers. His genius
brought him gifts from princes, and some money from the booksellers:
it supported him even against his critics. During his confinement the
_Jerusalem Delivered_ was first published; though, to his grief, from
a surreptitious and mutilated copy. But it was followed by a storm of
applause; and if this was succeeded by as great a storm of objection and
controversy, still the healthier part of his faculties were roused, and
he exasperated his critics and astonished the world by shewing how coolly
and learnedly the poor, wild, imprisoned genius could discuss the most
intricate questions of poetry and philosophy. The disputes excited by his
poem are generally supposed to have done him harm; but the conclusion
appears to be ill founded. They diverted his thoughts, and made him
conscious of his powers and his fame. I doubt whether he would have
been better for entire approbation: it would have put him in a state of
elevation, unfit for what he had to endure. He had found his pen
his great solace, and he had never employed it so well. It would be
incredible what a heap of things he wrote in this complicated torment of
imprisonment, sickness, and "physic," if habit and mental activity had
not been sufficient to account for much greater wonders. His letters
to his friends and others would make a good-sized volume; those to his
critics, another; sonnets and odes, a third; and his Dialogues after
the manner of Plato, two more. Perhaps a good half of all he wrote was
written in this hospital of St. Anne; and he studied as well as composed,
and had to read all that was written at the time, _pro_ and _con_, in the
discussions about his _Jerusalem_, which, in the latest edition of his
works, amount to three out of six volumes octavo! Many of the occasions,
however, of his poems, as well as letters, are most painful to think
of, their object having been to exchange praise for money. And it is
distressing, in the letters, to see his other little wants, and the
fluctuations and moods of his mind. Now he is angry about some book not
restored, or some gift promised and delayed. Now he is in want of some
books to be lent him; now of some praise to comfort him; now of a little
fresh linen. He is very thankful for visits, for respectful letters, for
"sweetmeats;" and greatly puzzled to know what to do with the bad sonnets
and panegyrics that are sent him. They were sometimes too much even for
the allowed ultra courtesies of Italian acknowledgment. His compliments
to most people are varied with astonishing grace and ingenuity; his
accounts of his condition often sufficient to bring the tears into
the manliest eyes; and his ceaseless and vain efforts to procure his
liberation mortifying when we think of himself, and exasperating when we
think of the petty despot who detained him in so long, so degrading, and
so worse than useless a confinement.

Tasso could not always conceal his contempt of his imprisoner from the
ducal servants. Alfonso excelled the grandiloquent poet himself in his
love of pomp and worship; and as he had no particular merits to warrant
it, his victim bantered his love of titles. He says, in a letter to the
duke's steward, "If it is the pleasure of the Most Serene Signor Duke,
Most Clement and Most Invincible, to keep me in prison, may I beg that he
will have the goodness to return certain little things of mine, which
his Most Invincible, Most Clement, and Most Serene Highness has so often
promised me.[14]

But these were rare ebullitions of gaiety, perhaps rather of bitter
despair. A playful address to a cat to lend him her eyes to write by,
during some hour in which he happened to be without a light (for it
does not appear to have been denied him), may be taken as more probable
evidence of a mind relieved at the moment, though the necessity for
the relief may have been very sad. But the style in which he generally
alludes to his situation is far different. He continually begs his
correspondents to pity him, to pray for him, to attribute his errors to
infirmity. He complains of impaired memory, and acknowledges that he has
become subject to the deliriums formerly attributed to him by the enemies
that had helped to produce them. Petitioning the native city of his
ancestors (Bergamo) to intercede for him with the duke, he speaks of the
writer as "this unhappy person;" and subscribes himself,--

"Most illustrious Signors, your affectionate servant, Torquato Tasso, a
prisoner, and infirm, in the hospital of St. Anne in Ferrara."

In one of his addresses to Alfonso, he says most affectingly:

"I have sometimes attributed much to myself, and considered myself as
somebody. But now, seeing in how many ways imagination has imposed on
me, I suspect that it has also deceived me in this opinion of my own
consequence. Indeed, methinks the past has been a dream; and hence I am
resolved to rely on my imagination no longer."

Alfonso made no answer.

The causes of Tasso's imprisonment, and its long duration, are among
the puzzles of biography. The prevailing opinion, notwithstanding the
opposition made to it by Serassi and Black, is, that the poet made love
to the Princess Leonora--perhaps was beloved by her; and that her brother
the duke punished him for his arrogance. This was the belief of his
earliest biographer, Manso, who was intimately acquainted with the poet
in his latter days; and from Manso (though he did not profess to receive
the information from Tasso, but only to gather it from his poems) it
spread over all Europe. Milton took it on trust from him;[15] and so have
our English translators Hoole and Wiffen. The Abbé de Charnes, however,
declined to do so;[16] and Montaigne, who saw the poet in St. Anne's
hospital, says nothing of the love at all. He attributes his condition
to poetical excitement, hard study, and the meeting of the extremes of
wisdom and folly. The philosopher, however, speaks of the poet's having
survived his reason, and become unconscious both of himself and his
works, which the reader knows to be untrue. He does not appear to have
conversed with Tasso. The poet was only shewn him; probably at a sick
moment, or by a new and ignorant official.[17] Muratori, who was in the
service of the Este family at Modena, tells us, on the authority of
an old acquaintance who knew contemporaries of Tasso, that the "good
Torquato" finding himself one day in company with the duke and his
sister, and going close to the princess in order to answer some question
which she had put to him, was so transported by an impulse "more than
poetical," as to give her a kiss; upon which the duke, who had observed
it, turned about to his gentlemen, and said, "What a pity to see so great
a man distracted!" and so ordered him to be locked up.[18] But this
writer adds, that he does not know what to think of the anecdote: he
neither denies nor admits it. Tiraboschi, who was also in the service of
the Este family, doubts the truth of the anecdote, and believes that
the duke shut the poet up solely for fear lest his violence should do
harm.[19] Serassi, the second biographer of Tasso, who dedicated his
book to an Este princess inimical to the poet's memory, attributes the
confinement, on his own shewing, to the violent words he had uttered
against his master.[20] Walker, the author of the _Memoir on Italian
Tragedy_, says, that the life by Serassi himself induced him to credit
the love-story:[21] so does Ginguéné.[22] Black, forgetting the age and
illnesses of hundreds of enamoured ladies, and the distraction of lovers
at all times, derides the notion of passion on either side; because, he
argues, Tasso was subject to frenzies, and Leonora forty-two years of
age, and not in good health.[23] What would Madame d'Houdetot have said
to him? or Mademoiselle L'Espinasse? or Mrs. Inchbald, who used to walk
up and down Sackville Street in order that she might see Dr. Warren's
light in his window? Foscolo was a believer in the love;[24] Sismondi
admits it;[25] and Rosini, the editor of the latest edition of the poet's
works, is passionate for it. He wonders how any body can fail to discern
it in a number of passages, which, in truth, may mean a variety of other
loves; and he insists much upon certain loose verses (_lascivi_) which
the poet, among his various accounts of the origin of his imprisonment,
assigns as the cause, or one of the causes, of it. [26]

I confess, after a reasonable amount of inquiry into this subject, that
I can find no proofs whatsoever of Tasso's having made love to Leonora;
though I think it highly probable. I believe the main cause of the duke's
proceedings was the poet's own violence of behaviour and incontinence
of speech. I think it very likely that, in the course of the poetical
love-making to various ladies, which was almost identical in that age
with addressing them in verse, Torquato, whether he was in love or not,
took more liberties with the princesses than Alfonso approved; and it is
equally probable, that one of those liberties consisted in his indulging
his imagination too far. It is not even impossible, that more gallantry
may have been going on at court than Alfonso could endure to see alluded
to, especially by an ambitious pen. But there is no evidence that such
was the case. Tasso, as a gentleman, could not have hinted at such a
thing on the part of a princess of staid reputation; and, on the other
hand, the "love" he speaks of as entertained by her for him, and
warranting the application to her for money in case of his death, was
too plainly worded to mean any thing but love in the sense of friendly
regard. "Per amor mio" is an idiomatical expression, meaning "for my
sake;" a strong one, no doubt, and such as a proud man like Alfonso might
think a liberty, but not at all of necessity an amatory boast. If it was,
its very effrontery and vanity were presumptions of its falsehood. The
lady whom Tasso alludes to in the passage quoted on his first confinement
is complained of for her coldness towards him; and, unless this was
itself a gentlemanly blind, it might apply to fifty other ladies besides
the princess. The man who assaulted him in the streets, and who is
supposed to have been the violator of his papers, need not have found any
secrets of love in them. The servant at whom he aimed the knife or the
dagger might be as little connected with such matters; and the sonnets
which the poet said he wrote for a friend, and which he desired to be
buried with him, might be alike innocent of all reference to Leonora,
whether he wrote them for a friend or not. Leonora's death took
place during the poet's confinement; and, lamented as she was by the
verse-writers according to custom, Tasso wrote nothing on the event. This
silence has been attributed to the depth of his passion; but how is the
fact proved? and why may it not have been occasioned by there having been
no passion at all?

All that appears certain is, that Tasso spoke violent and contemptuous
words against the duke; that he often spoke ill of him in his letters;
that he endeavoured, not with perfect ingenuousness, to exchange his
service for that of another prince; that he asserted his madness to have
been pretended in the first instance purely to gratify the duke's whim
for thinking it so (which was one of the reasons perhaps why Alfonso,
as he complained, would not believe a word be said); and finally, that,
whether the madness was or was not so pretended, it unfortunately became
a confirmed though milder form of mania, during a long confinement.
Alfonso, too proud to forgive the poet's contempt, continued thus to
detain him, partly perhaps because he was not sorry to have a pretext for
revenge, partly because he did not know what to do with him, consistently
either with his own or the poet's safety. He had not been generous enough
to put Tasso above his wants; he had not address enough to secure his
respect; he had not merit enough to overlook his reproaches. If Tasso had
been as great a man as he was a poet, Alfonso would not have been reduced
to these perplexities. The poet would have known how to settle quietly
down on his small court-income, and wait patiently in the midst of his
beautiful visions for what fortune had or had not in store for him. But
in truth, he, as well as the duke, was weak; they made a bad business of
it between them; and Alfonso the Second closed the accounts of the
Este family with the Muses, by keeping his panegyrist seven years in a
mad-house, to the astonishment of posterity, and the destruction of his
own claims to renown.

It does not appear that Tasso was confined in any such dungeon as they
now exhibit in Ferrara. The conduct of the Prior of the Hospital is more
doubtful. His name was Agostino Mosti; and, strangely enough, he was
the person who had raised a monument to Ariosto, of whom he was an
enthusiastic admirer. To this predilection has been attributed his
alleged cruelty to the stranger from Sorrento, who dared to emulate the
fame of his idol;--an extraordinary, though perhaps not incredible, mode
of skewing a critic's regard for poetry. But Tasso, while he laments
his severity, wonders at it in a man so well bred and so imbued with
literature, and thinks it can only have originated in "orders."[27]
Perhaps there were faults of temper on both sides; and Mosti, not liking
his office, forgot the allowance to be made for that of a prisoner and
sick man. His nephew, Giulio Mosti, became strongly attached to the poet,
and was a great comfort to him.

At length the time for liberation arrived. In the summer of 1586, Don
Vincenzo Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua, kinsman of the poet's friend Scipio,
came to Ferrara for the purpose of complimenting Alfonso's heir on his
nuptials. The whole court of Mantua, with hereditary regard for Tasso,
whose father had been one of their ornaments, were desirous of having
him among them; and the prince extorted Alfonso's permission to take him
away, on condition (so hard did he find this late concession to humanity,
and so fearful was he of losing the dignity of jailor) that his deliverer
should not allow him to quit Mantua without obtaining leave. A young and
dear friend, his most frequent visitor, Antonio Constantini, secretary
to the Tuscan ambassador, went to St. Anne's to prepare the captive by
degrees for the good news. He told him that he really might look for his
release in the course of a few days. The sensitive poet, now a premature
old man of forty-two, was thrown into a transport of mingled delight and
anxiety. He had been disappointed so often that he could scarcely believe
his good fortune. In a day or two he writes thus to his visitor

"Your kindness, my dear friend, has so accustomed me to your precious and
frequent visits, that I have been all day long at the window expecting
your coming to comfort me as you are wont. But since you have not yet
arrived, and in order not to remain altogether without consolation, I
visit you with this letter. It encloses a sonnet to the ambassador,
written with a trembling hand, and in such a manner that he will not,
perhaps, have less difficulty in reading it than I had in writing."

Two days afterwards, the prince himself came again, requested of the poet
some verses on a given subject, expressed his esteem for his genius and
virtues, and told him that, on his return to Mantua, he should have the
pleasure of conducting him to that city. Tasso lay awake almost all
night, composing the verses; and next day enclosed them, with a letter,
in another to Constantini, ardently begging him to keep the prince in
mind of his promise. The prince had not forgotten it; and two or three
days afterwards, the order for the release arrived, and Tasso quitted his
prison. He had been confined seven years, two months, and several days.
He awaited the prince's departure for a week or two in his friend's
abode, paying no visits, probably from inability to endure so much
novelty. Neither was he inclined or sent for to pay his respects to the
duke. Two such parties could hardly have been desirous to look on each
other. The duke must especially have disliked the thought of it; though
Tasso afterwards fancied otherwise, and that he was offended at his
non-appearance. But his letters, unfortunately, differ with themselves on
this point, as on most others. About the middle of July 1586, the poet
quitted Ferrara for ever.

At Mantua Tasso was greeted with all the honours and attentions which his
love of distinction could desire. The good old duke, the friend of his
father, ordered handsome apartments to be provided for him in the palace;
the prince made him presents of costly attire, including perfumed silken
hose (kindred elegancies to the Italian gloves of Queen Elizabeth); the
princess and her mother-in-law were declared admirers of his poetry; the
courtiers caressed the favourite of their masters; Tasso found literary
society; he pronounced the very bread and fruit, the fish and the flesh,
excellent; the wines were sharp and brisk ("such as his father was fond
of"); and even the physician was admirable, for he ordered confections.
One might imagine, if circumstances had not proved the cordial nature of
the Gonzaga family, and the real respect and admiration entertained for
the poet's genius by the greatest men of the time, in spite of the rebuke
it had received from Alfonso, that there had been a confederacy to mock
and mystify him, after the fashion of the duke and duchess with Don
Quixote (the only blot, by the way, in the book of Cervantes; if, indeed,
he did not intend it as a satire on the mystifiers).

For a while, in short, the liberated prisoner thought himself happy.
He corrected his prose works, resumed and finished the tragedy of
_Torrismond_, which he had begun some years before, corresponded with
princes, and completed and published a narrative poem left unfinished by
his father. Torquato was as loving a son as Mozart or Montaigne. Whenever
he had a glimpse of felicity, he appears to have associated the idea of
it with that of his father. In the conclusion of his fragment, "O del
grand' Apennino," he affectingly begs pardon of his blessed spirit for
troubling him with his earthly griefs.[28]

But, alas, what had been an indulgence of self-esteem had now become the
habit of a disease; and in the course of a few months the restless poet
began to make his old discovery, that he was not sufficiently cared for.
The prince had no leisure to attend to him; the nobility did not "yield
him the first place," or at least (he adds) they did not allow him to be
treated "externally as their equal;" and he candidly confessed that he
could not live in a place where such was the custom.[29] He felt also,
naturally enough, however well it might have been intended, that it was
not pleasant to be confined to the range of the city of Mantua, attended
by a servant, even though he confessed that he was now subject to
"frenzy." He contrived to stay another half-year by help of a brilliant
carnival and of the select society of the prince's court, who were
evidently most kind to him; but at the end of the twelvemonth he was in
Bergamo among his relations. The prince gave him leave to go; and the
Cavaliere Tasso, his kinsman, sent his chariot on purpose to fetch him.

Here again he found himself at a beautiful country-seat, which the family
of Tasso still possesses near that city; and here again, in the house of
his father, he proposed to be happy, "having never desired," he says,
"any journey more earnestly than this." He left it in the course of a
month, to return to Mantua.

And it was only to wander still. Mantua he quitted in less than two
months to go to Rome, in spite of the advice of his best friends.
He vindicated the proceeding by a hope of obtaining some permanent
settlement from the Pope. He took Loretto by the way, to refresh himself
with devotion; arrived in a transport at Rome; got nothing from the Pope
(the hard-minded Sixtus the Fifth); and in the spring of the next year,
in the triple hope of again embracing his sister, and recovering the
dowry of his mother and the confiscated property of his father, he
proceeded to Naples.

Naples was in its most beautiful vernal condition, and the Neapolitans
welcomed the poet with all honour and glory; but his sister, alas, was
dead; he got none of his father's property, nor (till too late) any of
his mother's; and before the year was out, he was again in Rome. He
acquired in Naples, however, another friend, as attached to him and
as constant in his attentions as his beloved Constantini, to wit,
Giambattista Manso, Marquis of Villa, who became his biographer, and who
was visited and praised for his good offices by Milton. In the society of
this gentleman he seemed for a short while to have become a new man. He
entered into field-sports, listened to songs and music, nay, danced, says
Manso, with "the girls." (One fancies a poetical Dr. Johnson with the two
country damsels on his knees.) In short, good air and freedom, and no
medicine, had conspired with the lessons of disappointment to give him,
before he died, a glimpse of the power to be pleased. He had not got rid
of all his spiritual illusions, even those of a melancholy nature; but he
took the latter more quietly, and had grown so comfortable with the race
in general, that he encouraged them. He was so entirely freed from his
fears of the Inquisition and of charges of magic, that whereas he had
formerly been anxious to shew that he meant nothing but a poetical fancy
by the spirit which he introduced as communing with him in his dialogue
entitled the _Messenger_, he now maintained its reality against the
arguments of his friend Manso; and these arguments gave rise to the most
poetical scene in his history. He told Manso that he should have ocular
testimony of the spirit's existence; and accordingly one day while they
were sitting together at the marquis's fireside, "he turned his eyes,"
says Manso, "towards a window, and held them a long time so intensely on
it, that, when I called him, he did not answer. At last, 'Behold,' said
he, 'the friendly spirit which has courteously come to talk with me. Lift
up your eyes, and see the truth.' I turned my eyes thither immediately
(continues the marquis); but though I endeavoured to look as keenly as I
could, I beheld nothing but the rays of the sun, which streamed through
the panes of the window into the chamber. Whilst I still looked around,
without beholding any object, Torquato began to hold, with this unknown
something, a most lofty converse. I heard, indeed, and saw nothing but
himself; nevertheless his words, at one time questioning, at another
replying, were such as take place between those who reason strictly on
some important subject. And from what was said by the one, the reply of
the other might be easily comprehended by the intellect, although it was
not heard by the ear. The discourses were so lofty and marvellous,
both by the sublimity of their topics and a certain unwonted manner of
talking, that, exalted above myself in a kind of ecstasy, I did not dare
to interrupt them, nor ask Tasso about the spirit, which he had announced
to me, but which I did not see. In this way, while I listened between
stupefaction and rapture, a considerable time had elapsed; till at last
the spirit departed, as I learned from the words of Torquato; who,
turning to me, said, 'From this day forward all your doubts will have
vanished from your mind.' 'Nay,' said I, 'they are rather increased;
since, though I have heard many things worthy of marvel, I have seen
nothing of what you promised to shew me to dispel them.' He smiled, and
said, 'You have seen and heard more of him than perhaps --,' and here
he paused. Fearful of importuning him with new questions, the discourse
ended; and the only conclusion I can draw is, what I before said, that
it is more likely his visions or frenzies will disorder my own mind than
that I shall extirpate his true or imaginary opinion."[30]

Did the "smile" of Tasso at the close of this extraordinary scene, and
the words which he omitted to add, signify that his friend had seen and
heard more, perhaps, than the poet _would have liked_ to explain? Did he
mean that he himself alone had been seen and heard, and was author of the
whole dialogue? Perhaps he did; for credulity itself can impose;--can
take pleasure in seeing others as credulous as itself. On the other
hand, enough has become known in our days of the phenomena of morbid
perception, to render Tasso's actual belief in such visions not at
all surprising. It is not uncommon for the sanest people of delicate
organisation to see faces before them while going to sleep, sometimes
in fantastical succession. A stronger exercise of this disposition in
temperaments more delicate will enlarge the face to figure; and there can
be no question that an imagination so heated as Tasso's, so full of the
speculations of the later Platonists, and accompanied by a state of body
so "nervous," and a will so bent on its fancies, might embody whatever
he chose to behold. The dialogue he could as easily read in the vision's
looks, whether he heard it or not with ears. If Nicholay, the Prussian
bookseller, who saw crowds of spiritual people go through his rooms, had
been a poet, and possessed of as wilful an imagination as Tasso, he might
have gifted them all with _speaking countenances_ as easily as with coats
and waistcoats. Swedenborg founded a religion on this morbid faculty; and
the Catholics worship a hundred stories of the like sort in the Lives of
the Saints, many of which are equally true and false; false in reality,
though true in supposition. Luther himself wrote and studied till he
saw the Devil; only the great reformer retained enough of his naturally
sturdy health and judgment to throw an inkstand at Satan's head,--a thing
that philosophy has been doing ever since.

Tasso's principal residence while at Naples had been in the beautiful
monastery of Mount Olivet, on which the good monks begged he would write
them a poem; which he did. A cold reception at Rome, and perhaps the
difference of the air, brought back his old lamentations; but here again
a monastery gave him refuge, and he set himself down to correct his
former works and compose new ones. He missed, however, the comforts of
society and amusement which he had experienced at Naples. Nevertheless,
he did not return thither. He persuaded himself that it was necessary to
be in Rome in order to expedite the receipt of some books and manuscripts
from Bergamo and other places; but his restlessness desired novelty. He
thus slipped back from the neighbourhood of Rome to the city itself, and
from the city back to the monastery, his friends in both places being
probably tired of his instability. He thought of returning to Mantua; but
a present from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, accompanied by an invitation to
his court, drew him, in one of his short-lived transports, to Florence.
He returned, in spite of the best and most generous reception, to Rome;
then left Rome for Mantua, on invitation from his ever-kind deliverer
from prison, now the reigning duke; tired again, even of him; returned to
Rome; then once more to Naples, where the Prince of Conca, Grand Admiral
of the kingdom, lodged and treated him like an equal; but he grew
suspicious of the admiral, and went to live with his friend Manso;
quitted Manso for Rome again; was treated with reverence on the way, like
Ariosto, by a famous leader of banditti; was received at Rome into the
Vatican itself, in the apartments of his friend Cintio Aldobrandino,
nephew of the new pope Clement the Eighth, where his hopes now seemed to
be raised at once to their highest and most reasonable pitch; but fell
ill, and was obliged to go back to Naples for the benefit of the air.
A life so strangely erratic to the last (for mortal illness was
approaching) is perhaps unique in the history of men of letters, and
might be therefore worth recording even in that of a less man than Tasso;
but when we recollect that this poet, in spite of all his weaknesses, and
notwithstanding the enemies they provoked and the friends they cooled,
was really almost adored for his genius in his own time, and instead
of refusing jewels one day and soliciting a ducat the next, might have
settled down almost any where in quiet and glory, if he had but possessed
the patience to do so, it becomes an association of weakness with power,
and of adversity with the means of prosperity, the absurdity of which
admiration itself can only drown in pity.

He now took up his abode in another monastery, that of San Severino,
where he was comforted by the visits of his friend Manso, to whom he had
lately inscribed a dialogue on _Friendship_; for he continued writing
to the last. He had also the consolation, such as it was, of having the
law-suit for his mother's dowry settled in his favour, though under
circumstances that rendered it of little importance, and only three
months before his death. So strangely did Fortune seem to take delight in
sporting with a man of genius, who had thought both too much of her and
too little; too much for pomp's sake, and too little in prudence. Among
his new acquaintances were the young Marino, afterwards the corrupter of
Italian poetry, and the Prince of Venosa, an amateur composer of music.
The dying poet wrote madrigals for him so much to his satisfaction, that,
being about to marry into the house of Este, he wished to reconcile him
with the Duke of Ferrara; and Tasso, who to the last moment of his life
seems never to have been able to resist the chance of resuming old
quarters, apparently from the double temptation of renouncing them, wrote
his old master a letter full of respects and regrets. But the duke, who
himself died in the course of the year, was not to be moved from his
silence. The poet had given him the last possible offence by recasting
his _Jerusalem_, omitting the glories of the house of Este, and
dedicating it to another patron. Alfonso, who had been extravagantly
magnificent, though not to poets, had so weakened his government, that
the Pope wrested Ferrara from the hands of his successor, and reduced
the Este family to the possession of Modena, which it still holds and
dishonours. The duke and the poet were thus fading away at the same time;
they never met again in this world; and a new Dante would have divided
them far enough in the next.[31]

The last glimpse of honour and glory was now opening in a very grand
manner on the poet--the last and the greatest, as if on purpose to give
the climax to his disappointments. Cardinal Cintio requested the Pope to
give him the honour of a coronation. It had been desired by the poet, it
seems, three years before. He was disappointed of it at that time; and
now that it was granted, he was disappointed of the ceremony. Manso says
he no longer cared for it; and, as he felt himself dying, this is not
improbable. Nevertheless he went to Rome for the purpose; and though the
severity of the winter there delayed the intention till spring, wealth
and honours seemed determined to come in floods upon the poor expiring
great man, in order to take away the breath which they had refused to
support. The Pope assigned him a yearly pension of a hundred scudi; and
the withholders of his mother's dowry came to an accommodation by which
he was to have an annuity of a hundred ducats, and a considerable sum
in hand. His hand was losing strength enough to close upon the money.
Scarcely was the day for the coronation about to dawn, when the poet felt
his dissolution approaching. Alfonso's doctors had killed him at last by
superinducing a habit of medicine-taking, which defeated its purpose.
He requested leave to return to the monastery of St. Onofrio--wrote a
farewell letter to Constantini--received the distinguished honour of a
plenary indulgence from the Pope--said (in terms very like what Milton
might have used, had he died a Catholic), that "this was the chariot upon
which he hoped to go crowned, not with laurel as a poet into the capitol,
but with glory as a saint to heaven"--and expired on the 25th of April,
1575, and the fifty-first year of his age, closely embracing the
crucifix, and imperfectly uttering the sentence beginning, "Into thy
hands, O Lord!"[32]

Even after death, success mocked him; for the coronation took place on
the senseless dead body. The head was wreathed with laurel; a magnificent
toga delayed for a while the shroud; and a procession took place through
the city by torchlight, all the inhabitants pouring forth to behold it,
and painters crowding over the bier to gaze on the poet's lineaments,
from which they produced a multitude of portraits. The corpse was then
buried in the church of St. Onofrio; and magnificent monuments talked of,
which never appeared. Manso, however, obtained leave to set up a modest
tablet; and eight years afterwards a Ferrarese cardinal (Bevilacqua) made
what amends he could for his countrymen, by erecting the stately memorial
which is still to be seen.

Poor, illustrious Tasso! weak enough to warrant pity from his
inferiors--great enough to overshadow in death his once-fancied
superiors. He has been a by-word for the misfortunes of genius: but
genius was not his misfortune; it was his only good, and might have
brought him all happiness. It is the want of genius, as far as it
goes, and apart from martyrdoms for conscience' sake, which produces
misfortunes even to genius itself--the want of as much wit and balance
on the common side of things, as genius is supposed to confine to the

Manso has left a minute account of his friend's person and manners. He
was tall even among the tall; had a pale complexion, sunken cheeks,
lightish brown hair, head bald at the top, large blue eyes, square
forehead, big nose inclining towards the mouth, lips pale and thin, white
teeth, delicate white hands, long arms, broad chest and shoulders, legs
rather strong than fleshy, and the body altogether better proportioned
than in good condition; the result, nevertheless, being an aspect of
manly beauty and expression, particularly in the countenance, the dignity
of which marked him for an extraordinary person even to those who did not
know him. His demeanour was grave and deliberate; he laughed seldom;
and though his tongue was prompt, his delivery was slow; and he was
accustomed to repeat his last words. He was expert in all manly
exercises, but not equally graceful; and the same defect attended his
otherwise striking eloquence in public assemblies. His putting to flight
the assassins in Ferrara gave him such a reputation for courage, that
there went about in his honour a popular couplet

  "Colla penna e colla spada
  Nessun val quanto Torquato."

  For the sword as well as pen
  Tasso is the man of men.

He was a little eater, but not averse to wine, particularly such as
combined piquancy with sweetness; and he always dressed in black. Manso's
account is still more particular, and yet it does not tell all; for Tasso
himself informs us that he stammered, and was near-sighted;[33] and a
Neapolitan writer who knew him adds to the near-sightedness some visible
defect in the eyes.[34] I should doubt, from what Tasso says in his
letters, whether he was fond of speaking in public, notwithstanding his
_début_ in that line with the _Fifty Amorous Conclusions_.Nor does he
appear to have been remarkable for his conversation. Manso has left a
collection of one hundred of his pithy sayings--a suspicious amount, and
unfortunately more than warranting the suspicion; for almost every one of
them is traceable to some other man. They come from the Greek and Latin
philosophers, and the apothegms of Erasmus. The two following have the
greatest appearance of being genuine:

A Greek, complaining that he had spoken ill of his country, and
maintaining that all the virtues in the world had issued out of it, the
poet assented; with the addition, that they had not left one behind them.

A foolish young fellow, garnished with a number of golden chains, coming
into a room where he was, and being overheard by him exclaiming, "Is this
the great man that was mad?" Tasso said, "Yes; but that people had never
put on him more than one chain at a time."

His character may be gathered, but not perhaps entirely, from what has
been written of his life; for some of his earlier letters shew him to
have been not quite so grave and refined in his way of talking as readers
of the _Jerusalem_ might suppose. He was probably at that time of life
not so scrupulous in his morals as he professed to be during the greater
part of it. His mother is thought to have died of chagrin and impatience
at being separated so long from her husband, and not knowing what to do
to save her dowry from her brothers; and I take her son to have combined
his mother's ultra-sensitive organisation with his father's worldly
imprudence and unequal spirits. The addition of the nervous temperament
of one parent to the aspiring nature of the other gave rise to the poet's
trembling eagerness for distinction; and Torquato's very love for them
both hindered him from seeing what should have been corrected in the
infirmities which he inherited. Falling from the highest hopes of
prosperity into the most painful afflictions, he thus wanted solid
principles of action to support him, and was forced to retreat upon an
excess of self-esteem, which allowed his pride to become a beggar, and
his naturally kind, loving, just, and heroical disposition to condescend
to almost every species of inconsistency. The Duke of Ferrara, he
complains, did not believe a word he said;[35] and the fact is, that,
partly from disease, and partly from a want of courage to look his
defects in the face, he beheld the same things in so many different
lights, and according as it suited him at the moment, that, without
intending falsehood, his statements are really not to be relied on. He
degraded even his verses, sometimes with panegyrics for interest's sake,
sometimes out of weak wishes to oblige, of which he was afterwards
ashamed; and, with the exception of Constantini, we cannot be sure that
any one person praised in them retained his regard in his last days. His
suspicion made him a kind of Rousseau; but he was more amiable than
the Genevese, and far from being in the habit of talking against old
acquaintances, whatever he might have thought of them. It is observable,
not only that he never married, but he told Manso he had led a life of
entire continence ever since he entered the walls of his prison, being
then in his thirty-fifth year.[36] Was this out of fidelity to some
mistress? or the consequence of a previous life the reverse of continent?
or was it from some principle of superstition? He had become a devotee,
apparently out of a dread of disbelief; and he remained extremely
religious for the rest of his days. The two unhappiest of Italian poets,
Tasso and Dante, were the two most superstitious.

As for the once formidable question concerning the comparative merits
of this poet and Ariosto, which anticipated the modern quarrels of the
classical and romantic schools, some idea of the treatment which Tasso
experienced may be conceived by supposing all that used to be sarcastic
and bitter in the periodical party-criticism among ourselves some thirty
years back, collected into one huge vial of wrath, and poured upon the
new poet's head. Even the great Galileo, who was a man of wit, bred up
in the pure Tuscan school of Berni and Casa, and who was an idolator
of Ariosto, wrote, when he was young, a "review" of the _Jerusalem
Delivered_, which it is painful to read, it is so unjust and
contemptuous.[37] But now that the only final arbiter, posterity, has
accepted both the poets, the dispute is surely the easiest thing in the
world to settle; not, indeed, with prejudices of creeds or temperaments,
but before any judges thoroughly sympathising with the two claimants. Its
solution is the principle of the greater including the less. For Ariosto
errs only by having an unbounded circle to move in. His sympathies are
unlimited; and those who think him inferior to Tasso, only do so in
consequence of their own want of sympathy with the vivacities that
degrade him in their eyes. Ariosto can be as grave and exalted as Tasso
when he pleases, and he could do a hundred things which Tasso never
attempted. He is as different in this respect as Shakspeare from Milton.
He had far more knowledge of mankind than Tasso, and he was superior in
point of taste. But it is painful to make disadvantageous comparisons of
one great poet with another. Let us be thankful for Tasso's enchanted
gardens, without being forced to vindicate the universal world of his
predecessor. Suffice it to bear in mind, that the grave poet himself
agreed with the rest of the Italians in calling the Ferrarese the "divine
Ariosto;" a title which has never been popularly given to his rival.

The _Jerusalem Delivered_ is the history of a Crusade, related with
poetic license. The Infidels are assisted by unlawful arts; and the
libertinism that brought scandal on the Christians, is converted into
youthful susceptibility, led away by enchantment. The author proposed
to combine the ancient epic poets with Ariosto, or a simple plot, and
uniformly dignified style, with romantic varieties of adventure, and
the luxuriance of fairy-land. He did what he proposed to do, but with a
judgment inferior to Virgil's; nay, in point of the interdependence of
the adventures, to Ariosto, and with far less general vigour. The mixture
of affectation with his dignity is so frequent, that, whether Boileau's
famous line about Tasso's tinsel and Virgil's gold did or did not mean to
imply that the _Jerusalem_ was nothing but tinsel, and the _Æneid_ all
gold, it is certain that the tinsel is so interwoven with the gold, as to
render it more of a rule than an exception, and put a provoking distance
between Tasso's epic pretensions and those of the greatest masters of the
art. People who take for granted the conceits because of the "wildness"
of Ariosto, and the good taste because of the "regularity" of Tasso, just
assume the reverse of the fact. It is a rare thing to find a conceit in
Ariosto; and, where it does exist, it is most likely defensible on some
Shakspearian ground of subtle propriety. Open Tasso in almost any part,
particularly the love-scenes, and it is marvellous if, before long, you
do not see the conceits vexatiously interfering with the beauties.

  "Oh maraviglia! Amor, the appena è nato,
  Già grande vola, e già trionfa armato." Canto i. St. 47.

  Oh, miracle! Love is scarce born, when, lo,
  He flies full wing'd, and lords it with his bow!

  "Se 'l miri fulminar ne l'arme avvolto,
  Marte lo stimi; Amor, se scopre il volto." St. 58.

  Mars you would think him, when his thund'ring race
  In arms he ran; Love, when he shew'd his face.

Which is as little true to reason as to taste; for no god of war could
look like a god of love. The habit of mind would render it impossible.
But the poet found the prettiness of the Greek Anthology irresistible.

Olindo, tied to the stake amidst the flames of martyrdom, can say to his

  "Altre fiamme, altri nodi amor promise." Canto ii. st. 34.

  Other flames, other bonds than these, love promised.

The sentiment is natural, but the double use of the "flames" on such an
occasion, miserable.

In the third canto the fair Amazon Clorinda challenges her love to single

  "E di due morti in un punto lo sfida." St. 23.

  "And so at once she threats to kill him twice." _Fairfax_.

That is to say, with her valour and beauty.

Another twofold employment of flame, with an exclamation to secure our
astonishment, makes its appearance in the fourth canto

  "Oh miracol d'amor! che le faville
  Tragge del pianto, e'i cor' ne l'acqua accende." St. 76.

  Oh, miracle of love! that draweth sparks
  Of fire from tears, and kindlest hearts in water!

This puerile antithesis of _fire_ and _water, fire_ and _ice, light_
in _darkness, silence_ in _speech_, together with such pretty turns as
_wounding one's-self in wounding others_, and the worse sacrifice of
consistency and truth of feeling,--lovers making long speeches on the
least fitting occasions, and ladies retaining their rosy cheeks in the
midst of fears of death,--is to be met with, more or less, throughout
the poem. I have no doubt they were the proximate cause of that general
corruption of taste which was afterwards completed by Marino, the
acquaintance and ardent admirer of Tasso when a boy. They have been laid
to the charge of Petrarch; but, without entering into the question, how
far and in what instances conceits may not be natural to lovers haunted,
as Petrarch was, with one idea, and seeing it in every thing they behold,
what had the great epic poet to do with the faults of the lyrical? And
what is to be said for his standing in need of the excuse of bad example?
Homer and Milton were in no such want. Virgil would not have copied the
tricks of Ovid. There is an effeminacy and self-reflection in Tasso,
analogous to his Rinaldo, in the enchanted garden; where the hero wore
a looking-glass by his side, in which he contemplated his sophisticated
self, and the meretricious beauty of his enchantress.[38] Agreeably to
this tendency to weakness, the style of Tasso, when not supported by
great occasions (and even the occasion itself sometimes fails him), is
too apt to fall into tameness and common-place,--to want movement and
picture; while, at the same time, with singular defect of enjoyment, it
does not possess the music which might be expected from a lyrical and
voluptuous poet. Bernardo prophesied of his son, that, however he might
surpass him in other respects, he would never equal him in sweetness;
and he seems to have judged him rightly. I have met with a passage in
Torquato's prose writings (but I cannot lay my hands on it), in which he
expresses a singular predilection for verses full of the same vowel.
He seems, if I remember rightly, to have regarded it, not merely as a
pleasing variety, which it is on occasion, but as a reigning principle.
Voltaire (I think, in his treatise on _Epic Poetry_) has noticed the
multitude of _o_'s in the exordium of the _Jerusalem_.This apparent
negligence seems to have been intentional.

  "Cantò l'armi pietòse e 'l capitanò
    Che 'l gran Sepòlerò liberò di Cristò;
  Mòltò egli òprò còl sennò e còn la manò,
    Mòltò sòffri nel glòriòsò acquistò;
  E invan l'infernò a lui s'òppòse; e invanò
    S'armò d'Asia e di Libia il pòpòl mistò;
  Che il ciel gli diè favòre, e sòttò ai santi
  Segni ridusse i suòi còmpagni erranti."

The reader will not be surprised to find, that he who could thus confound
monotony with music, and commence his greatest poem with it, is too often
discordant in the rest of his versification. It has been thought, that
Milton might have taken from the Italians the grand musical account to
which he turns a list of proper names, as in his enumerations of realms
and deities; but I have been surprised to find how little the most
musical of languages appears to have suggested to its poets anything of
the sort. I am not aware of it, indeed, in any poets but our own. All
others, from Homer, with his catalogue of leaders and ships, down to
Metastasio himself, though he wrote for music, appear to have overlooked
this opportunity of playing a voluntary of fine sounds, where they had no
other theme on which to modulate. Its inventor, as far as I am aware, is
that great poet, Marlowe.[39]

There are faults of invention as well as style in the _Jerusalem_. The
Talking Bird, or bird that sings with a human voice (canto iv. 13), is a
piece of inverisimilitude, which the author, perhaps, thought justifiable
by the speaking horses of the ancients. But the latter were moved
supernaturally for the occasion, and for a very fine occasion. Tasso's
bird is a mere born contradiction to nature and for no necessity. The
vulgar idea of the devil with horns and a tail (though the retention
of it argued a genius in Tasso very inferior to that of Milton) is
defensible, I think, on the plea of the German critics, that malignity
should be made a thing low and deformed; but as much cannot be said for
the storehouse in heaven, where St. Michael's spear is kept with which
he slew the dragon, and the trident which is used for making earthquakes
(canto vii. st. 81). The tomb which supernaturally comes out of the
ground, inscribed with the name and virtues of Sueno (canto viii. st.
39), is worthy only of a pantomime; and the wizard in robes, with
beech-leaves on his head, who walks dry-shod on water, and superfluously
helps the knights on their way to Armida's retirement (xiv. 33), is
almost as ludicrous as the burlesque of the river-god in the _Voyage_ of
Bachaumont and Chapelle.

But let us not wonder, nevertheless, at the effect which the _Jerusalem_
has had upon the world. It could not have had it without great nature and
power. Rinaldo, in spite of his aberrations with Armida, knew the path
to renown, and so did his poet. Tasso's epic, with all its faults, is a
noble production, and justly considered one of the poems of the world.
Each of those poems hit some one great point of universal attraction,
at least in their respective countries, and among the givers of fame in
others. Homer's poem is that of action; Dante's, of passion; Virgil's, of
judgment; Milton's, of religion; Spenser's, of poetry itself; Ariosto's,
of animal spirits (I do not mean as respects gaiety only, but in strength
and readiness of accord with the whole play of nature); Tasso looked
round with an ultra-sensitive temperament, and an ambition which required
encouragement, and his poem is that of tenderness. Every thing inclines
to this point in his circle, with the tremulousness of the needle. Love
is its all in all, even to the design of the religious war which is
to rescue the sepulchre of the God of Charity from the hands of the
unloving. His heroes are all in love, at least those on the right side;
his leader, Godfrey, notwithstanding his prudence, narrowly escapes the
passion, and is full of a loving consideration; his amazon, Clorinda,
inspires the truest passion, and dies taking her lover's hand; his
Erminia is all love for an enemy; his enchantress Armida falls from
pretended love into real, and forsakes her religion for its sake. An old
father (canto ix.) loses his five sons in battle, and dies on their
dead bodies of a wound which he has provoked on purpose. Tancred cannot
achieve the enterprise of the Enchanted Forest, because his dead mistress
seems to come out of one of the trees. Olindo thinks it happiness to be
martyred at the same stake with Sophronia. The reconciliation of Rinaldo
with his enchantress takes place within a few stanzas of the close of
the poem, as if contesting its interest with religion. The _Jerusalem
Delivered_, in short, is the favourite epic of the young: all the lovers
in Europe have loved it. The French have forgiven the author his conceits
for the sake of his gallantry: he is the poet of the gondoliers; and
Spenser, the most luxurious of his brethren, plundered his bowers of
bliss. Read Tasso's poem by this gentle light of his genius, and you pity
him twentyfold, and know not what excuse to find for his jailer.

The stories translated in the present volume, though including war and
magic, are all love-stories. They were not selected on that account. They
suggested themselves for selection, as containing most of the finest
things in the poem. They are conducted with great art, and the characters
and affections happily varied. The first (_Olindo and Sophronia_) is
perhaps unique for the hopelessness of its commencement (I mean with
regard to the lovers), and the perfect, and at the same time quite
probable, felicity of the conclusion. There is no reason to believe that
the staid and devout Sophronia would have loved her adorer at all, but
for the circumstance that first dooms them both to a shocking death,
and then sends them, with perfect warrant, from the stake to the altar.
Clorinda is an Amazon, the idea of whom, as such, it is impossible for
us to separate from very repulsive and unfeminine images; yet, under the
circumstances of the story, we call to mind in her behalf the possibility
of a Joan of Arc's having loved and been beloved; and her death is a
surprising and most affecting variation upon that of Agrican in Boiardo.
Tasso's enchantress Armida is a variation of the Angelica of the same
poet, combined with Ariosto's Alcina; but her passionate voluptuousness
makes her quite a new character in regard to the one; and she is as
different from the painted hag of the _Orlando_ as youth, beauty, and
patriotic intention can make her. She is not very sentimental; but all
the passion in the world has sympathised with her; and it was manly and
honest in the poet not to let her Paganism and vehemence hinder him from
doing justice to her claims as a human being and a deserted woman. Her
fate is left in so pleasing a state of doubt, that we gladly avail
ourselves of it to suppose her married to Rinaldo, and becoming the
mother of a line of Christian princes. I wish they had treated her poet
half so well as she would infallibly have treated him herself.

But the singer of the Crusades can be strong as well as gentle. You
discern in his battles and single combats the poet ambitious of renown,
and the accomplished swordsman. The duel of Tancred and Argantes, in
which the latter is slain, is as earnest and fiery writing throughout as
truth and passion could desire; that of Tancred and Clorinda is also
very powerful as well as affecting; and the whole siege of Jerusalem is
admirable for the strength of its interest. Every body knows the grand
verse (not, however, quite original) that summons the devils to council,
"Chiama gli abitator," &c.; and the still grander, though less original
one, describing the desolations of time, "Giace l'alta Cartago."[40] The
forest filled with supernatural terrors by a magician, in order that the
Christians may not cut wood from it to make their engines of war, is one
of the happiest pieces of invention in romance. It is founded in as true
human feeling as those of Ariosto, and is made an admirable instrument
for the aggrandizement of the character of Rinaldo. Godfrey's attestation
of all time, and of the host of heaven, when he addresses his army in the
first canto, is in the highest spirit of epic magnificence. So is the
appearance of the celestial armies, together with that of the souls of
the slain Christian warriors, in the last canto, where they issue forth
in the air to assist the entrance into the conquered city. The classical
poets are turned to great and frequent account throughout the poem;
and yet the work has a strong air of originality, partly owing to the
subject, partly to the abundance of love-scenes, and to a certain
compactness in the treatment of the main story, notwithstanding the
luxuriance of the episodes. The _Jerusalem Delivered_ is stately,
well-ordered, full of action and character, sometimes sublime, always
elegant, and very interesting-more so, I think, as a whole, and in
a popular sense, than any other story in verse, not excepting the
_Odyssey_. For the exquisite domestic attractiveness of the second
Homeric poem is injured, like the hero himself, by too many diversions
from the main point. There is an interest, it is true, in that very
delay; but we become too much used to the disappointment. In the epic
of Tasso the reader constantly desires to learn how the success of the
enterprise is to be brought about; and he scarcely loses sight of any of
the persons but he wishes to see them again. Even in the love-scenes,
tender and absorbed as they are, we feel that the heroes are fighters, or
going to fight. When you are introduced to Armida in the Bower of Bliss,
it is by warriors who come to take her lover away to battle.

One of the reasons why Tasso hurt the style of his poem by a manner too
lyrical was, that notwithstanding its deficiency in sweetness, he was one
of the profusest lyrical writers of his nation, and always having his
feelings turned in upon himself. I am not sufficiently acquainted with
his odes and sonnets to speak of them in the gross; but I may be allowed
to express my belief that they possess a great deal of fancy and feeling.
It has been wondered how he could write so many, considering the troubles
he went through; but the experience was the reason. The constant
succession of hopes, fears, wants, gratitudes, loves, and the necessity
of employing his imagination, accounts for all. Some of his sonnets, such
as those on the Countess of Scandiano's lip ("Quel labbro," &c.); the one
to Stigliano, concluding with the affecting mention of himself and his
lost harp; that beginning

  "Io veggio in cielo scintillar le stelle,"

recur to my mind oftener than any others except Dante's "Tanto gentile"
and Filicaia's _Lament on Italy_; and, with the exception of a few of the
more famous odes of Petrarch, and one or two of Filicaia's and Guidi's, I
know of none in Italian like several of Tasso's, including his fragment
"O del grand' Apennino," and the exquisite chorus on the _Golden Age_,
which struck a note in the hearts of the world.

His _Aminta_, the chief pastoral poem of Italy, though, with the
exception of that ode, not equal in passages to the _Faithful
Shepherdess_ (which is a Pan to it compared with a beardless shepherd),
is elegant, interesting, and as superior to Guarini's more sophisticate
yet still beautiful _Pastor Fido_ as a first thought may be supposed to
be to its emulator. The objection of its being too elegant for shepherds
he anticipated and nullified by making Love himself account for it in a
charming prologue, of which the god is the speaker:

  "Queste selve oggi ragionar d'Amore
  S'udranno in nuova guisa; e ben parassi,
  Che la mia Deità sia quì presente
  In se medesma, e non ne' suoi ministri.
  Spirerò nobil sensi à rozzi petti;
  Raddolcirò nelle lor lingue il suono:
  Perchè, ovunque i' mi sia, io sono Amore
  Ne' pastori non men che negli eroi;
  E la disagguaglianza de' soggetti,
  Come a me piace, agguaglio: e questa è pure
  Suprema gloria, e gran miracol mio,
  Render simili alle più dotte cetre
  Le rustiche sampogne."

  After new fashion shall these woods to-day
  Hear love discoursed; and it shall well be seen
  That my divinity is present here
  In its own person, not its ministers.
  I will inbreathe high fancies in rude hearts;
  I will refine and render dulcet sweet
  Their tongues; because, wherever I may be,
  Whether with rustic or heroic men,
  There am I Love; and inequality,
  As it may please me, do I equalise;
  And 'tis my crowning glory and great miracle
  To make the rural pipe as eloquent
  Even as the subtlest harp.

I ought not to speak of Tasso's other poetry, or of his prose, for I
have read little of either; though, as they are not popular with his
countrymen, a foreigner may be pardoned for thinking his classical
tragedy, _Torrismondo_, not attractive--his _Sette Giornate_ (Seven
Days of the Creation) still less so--and his platonical and critical
discourses better filled with authorities than reasons. Tasso was a
lesser kind of Milton, enchanted by the Sirens. We discern the weak parts
of his character, more or less, in all his writings; but we see also the
irrepressible elegance and superiority of the mind, which, in spite of
all weakness, was felt to tower above its age, and to draw to it the
homage as well as the resentment of princes.

[Footnote 1: My authorities for this notice are, Black's _Life of Tasso_
(2 vols. 4to, 1810), his original, Serassi, _Vita di Torquato Tasso_ (do.
1790), and the works of the poet in the Pisan edition of Professor Rosini
(33 vols. 8vo, 1332). I have been indebted to nothing in Black which I
have not ascertained by reference to the Italian biographer, and quoted
nothing stated by Tasso himself but from the works. Black's Life, which
is a free version of Serassi's, modified by the translator's own opinions
and criticism, is elegant, industrious, and interesting. Serassi's was
the first copious biography of the poet founded on original documents;
and it deserved to be translated by Mr. Black, though servile to
the house of Este, and, as might be expected, far from being always
ingenuous. Among other instances of this writer's want of candour is the
fact of his having been the discoverer and suppresser of the manuscript
review of Tasso by Galileo. The best summary account of the poet's life
and writings which I have met with is Ginguéné's, in the fifth volume
of his _Histoire Littéraire_, &c. It is written with his usual grace,
vivacity, and acuteness, and contains a good notice of the Tasso
controversy. As to the Pisan edition of the works, it is the completest,
I believe, in point of contents ever published, comprises all the
controversial criticism, and is, of course, very useful; but it contains
no life except Manso's (now known to be very inconclusive), has got a
heap of feeble variorum comments on the _Jerusalem_, no notes worth
speaking of to the rest of the works, and, notwithstanding the claim
in the title-page to the merit of a "better order," has left the
correspondence in a deplorable state of irregularity, as well as totally
without elucidation. The learned Professor is an agreeable writer, and, I
believe, a very pleasant man, but he certainly is a provoking editor.]

[Footnote 2: In the beautiful fragment beginning, _O del grand'Apennino:_

  "Me dal sen della madre empia fortuna
  Pargoletto divelse. Ah! di que' baci,
  Ch'ella bagnò di lagrime dolenti,
  Con sospir mi rimembra, e degli ardenti
  Preghi, che sen portár l'aure fugaci,
  Ch'io giunger non dovea più volto a volto
  Fra quelle braccia accolto
  Con nodi così stretti e sì tenaci.
  Lasso! e seguii con mal sicure piante,
  Qual Ascanio, o Camilla, il padre errante."

  Me from my mother's bosom my hard lot
  Took when a child. Alas! though all these years
  I have been used to sorrow,
  I sigh to think upon the floods of tears
  which bathed her kisses on that doleful morrow:

  I sigh to think of all the prayers and cries
  She wasted, straining me with lifted eyes:
  For never more on one another's face
  was it our lot to gaze and to embrace!
  Her little stumbling boy,
  Like to the child of Troy,
  Or like to one doomed to no haven rather,
  Followed the footsteps of his wandering father.]

[Footnote 3: Rosini, _Saggio sugli Amori di Torquato Tasso_, &c., in the
Professor's edition of his works, vol. xxxiii.]

[Footnote 4: _Lettere Inedite_, p. 33, in the _Opere_, vol. xvii.]

[Footnote 5: _Entretiens_, 1663, p.169 quoted by Scrassi, pp. 175, 182.]

[Footnote 6: Suggested by Ariosto's furniture in the Moon.]

[Footnote 7: This was a trick which he afterwards thought he had reason
to complain of in a style very different from pleasantry.]

[Footnote 8: Alfonso. The word for "leader" in the original, _duce_, made
the allusion more obvious. The epithet "royal," in the next sentence,
conveyed a welcome intimation to the ducal car, the house of Este being
very proud of its connexion with the sovereigns of Europe, and very
desirous of becoming royal itself.]

[Footnote 9: Serassi, vol i. p. 210.]

(Footnote 10: "Alla lor magnanimità è convenevole il mostrar, ch'amor
delle virtù, non odio verso altri, gli abbia già mossi ad invitarmi con
invito così largo." _Opere_, vol. xv. p. 94.]

[Footnote 11: The application is the conjecture of Black, vol. i. p. 317.
Serassi suppressed the whole passage. The indecent word would have been
known but for the delicacy or courtliness of Muratori, who substituted an
_et-cetera_ in its place, observing, that he had "covered" with it "an
indecent word not fit to be printed" ("sotto quell'_et-cetera_ ho io
coperta un'indecente parola, che non era lecito di lasciar correre alle
stampe." _Opere del Tasso,_ vol. xvi. p. 114). By "covered" he seems to
have meant blotted out; for in the latest edition of Tasso the _et-cetera
is_ retained.]

[Footnote 12: Black's version (vol. ii. p. 58) is not strong enough. The
words in Serassi are "una ciurma di poltroni, ingrati, e ribaldi." ii. p.

[Footnote 13: _Opere_, vol xiv. pp. 158, 174, &c.]

[Footnote 14: "Prego V. Signoria the si contenti, se piace al Serenissimo
Signor Duca, Clementissimo ed Invitissimo, the io stia in prigione, di
farmi dar le poche robicciole mie, the S.A. Invitissima, Clementissima,
Serenissima m' ha promesse tante volte," &c. _Opere_, vol. xiv. p. 6.]

[Footnote 15: "Altera Torquatum cepit Leonora poetam," &c.]

[Footnote 16: _Vie du Tasse,_ 1695, p. 51.]

[Footnote 17: In the Apology _for Raimond de Sebonde_; Essays,
vol. ii. ch. 12.]

[Footnote 18: In his _Letter to Zeno,--Opere del

Tasso_, xvi. p. 118.]

[Footnote 19: _Storia della Poesia Italiana_ (Mathias's edition), vol.
iii. part i. p 236.]

[Footnote 20: Serassi is very peremptory, and even abusive. He charges
every body who has said any thing to the contrary with imposture. "Egli
non v' ha dubbio, che le troppe imprudenti e temerarie parole, che il
Tasso si lasciò uscir di bocca in questo incontro, furone la sola cagione
della sua prigionia, e ch' è mera favola ed _impostura_ tutto ciò, che
diversamente è stato affermato e scritto da altri in tale proposito."
Vol. ii. p. 33. But we have seen that the good Abbè could practise a
little imposition himself.]

[Footnote 21: Black, ii. 88.]

[Footnote 22: _Hist. Litt. d'Italie_, v. 243, &c.]

[Footnote 23: Vol. ii. p. 89.]

[Footnote 24: Such at least is my impression; but I cannot call the
evidence to mind.]

[Footnote 25: _Literature of the South of Europe_ (Roscoe's translation),
vol. ii. p. 165. To shew the loose way in which the conclusions of a
man's own mind are presented as facts admitted by others, Sismondi says,
that Tasso's "passion" was the cause of his return to Ferrara. There is
not a tittle of evidence to shew for it.]

[Footnote 26: _Saggio sugli Amori_, &c. ut sup p. 84, and passim. As
specimens of the learned professor's reasoning, it may be observed that
whenever the words _humble, daring, high, noble_, and _royal_, occur in
the poet's love-verses, he thinks they _must_ allude to the Princess
Leonora; and he argues, that Alfonso never could have been so angry with
any "versi lascivi," if they had not had the same direction.]

[Footnote 27: _Opere_, vol. xvii. p.32.]

[Footnote 28:

  "Padre, o buon padre, che dal ciel rimiri,
    Egro e morto ti piansi, e ben tu il sai;
  E gemendo scaldai
    La tomba e il letto. Or che negli altri giri
  Tu godi, a te si deve onor, non lutto:
    A me versato il mio dolor sia tutto."

  O father, my good father, looking now
    On thy poor son from heaven, well knowest thou
  What scalding tears I shed
    Upon thy grave, upon thy dying bed;
  But since thou dwellest in the happy skies,
    'Tis fit I raise to thee no sorrowing eyes
  Be all my grief on my own head.]

[Footnote 29:

  " Non posso viver in città, ove tutti i nobili, o non mi
concedano i primi luoghi, o almeno non si contentino the la cosa in
quel the appartiene a queste esteriori dimostrazioni, vada del pari."
                                             _Opere,_, vol. xiii. p. 153.]

[Footnote 30: Black, vol. ii. p. 240.]

[Footnote 31: The world in general have taken no notice of Tasso's
reconstruction of his _Jerusalem_, which he called the _Gerusalemme
Conquistata_. It never "obtained," as the phrase is. It was the mere
tribute of his declining years to bigotry and new acquaintances; and
therefore I say no more of it.]

[Footnote 32: _In manus tuas, Domine_. One likes to know the actual
words; at least so it appears to me.]

[Footnote 33: Serassi, ii. 276.]

[Footnote 34: "Quem _cernis_, quisquis es, procera statura virum,
_luscis_ oculis, &c. hic Torquatus est."--Cappacio, _Illustrium Literis
Virorum Elogia et Judici_, quoted by Serassi, ut sup. The Latin word
_luscus_, as well as the Italian _losco_, means, I believe, near-sighted;
but it certainly means also a great deal more; and unless the word
_cernis_ (thou beholdest) is a mere form of speech implying a foregone
conclusion, it shews that the defect was obvious to the spectator.]

[Footnote 35: "Il Signor Duca non crede ad alcuna mia parola."
                                                       _Opere_, xiv. 161.]

[Footnote 36: "Fui da bocca di lui medesimo rassicurato, che dal tempo
del suo ritegno in sant'Anna, ch'avenne negli anni trentacinque della sua
vita e sedici avanti la morte, egli intieramente fu casto: degli anni
primi non mi favellò mai di modo ch' io possa alcuna cosa di certo qui
                                                    _Opere_, xxxiii. 235.]

[Footnote 37: It is to be found in the collected works, _ut supra_; both
of the philosopher and the poet.]

[Footnote 38: It is an extraordinary instance of a man's violating, in
older life, the better critical principles of his youth,--that Tasso, in
his _Discourses on Poetry_, should have objected to a passage in Ariosto
about sighs and tears, as being a "conceit too lyrical," (though it was
warranted by the subtleties of madness, see present volume, p. 219), and
yet afterwards not in the same conceits when wholly without warrant.]

[Footnote 39: [Greek:

  Dardanion aut aerchen, eus pais Agchisao,
  Aineias ton hup Agchisae teke di Aphroditae
  Idaes en knaemoisi, thea brotps eunaetheisa
  Ouk oios hama toge duo Antaenoros uie,
  Archilochos t, Akamas te machaes en eidute pasaes.

                                                        _Iliad_, ii. 819.]

It is curious that these five lines should abound as much in _a_'s
Tasso's first stanza does in o's. Similar monotonies are strikingly
observable in the nomenclatures of Virgil. See his most perfect poem, the

  "Omnià secum
  `Armentàrius `Afer àgit, tectumque, Làremque,
  `Armaque, `Amyclæumque cànem, Cressàmque pharetràm."
                                                         Lib. iii. 343.

It is clear that Dante never thought of this point. See his Mangiadore,
Sanvittore, Natan, Raban, &c. at the end of the twelfth canto of the
_Paradiso_. Yet in his time poetry was _recitatived_ to music. So it was
in Petrarch's, who was a lutenist, and who "tried" his verses, to see
how they would go to the instrument. Yet Petrarch could allow himself to
  write such a quatrain as the following list of rivers

  "Non Tesin, Pò, Varo, Arno, Adige e Tebro,
  Eufrate, Tigre, Nilo, Ermo, Indo c Gange,
  Tana, Istro, Alfeo, Garrona, è 'l mar the frange,
  Rodano, Ibero, Ren, Senna, _Albia, Era, Ebro!_"

In Tasso's _Sette Giornate_, to which Black thinks Milton indebted for
his grand use of proper names, the following is the way in which the poet

  "Di Silvàni
  Di Pàni, e d' Egipàni, e d' àltri errànti,
  Ch'empier lè solitariè incultè selvè
  D'antichè maravigliè; e quell'accòltò
  Esercitò di Baccò in òriente
  Ond'egli vinse, e trionfò degl'Indi,
  Tornandò glòriòsò ai Greci lidi,
  Siccòm'e favòlòsò anticò gridò."

The most diversified passage of this kind (as far as I an, aware) is
Ariosto's list of his friends at the close of the _Orlando_; and yet such
writing as follows would seem to shew that it was an accident:

  "Iò veggiò il Fracastòrò, il Bevazzanò,
    Trifòn Gabriel, e il Tassò più lòntanò;
  Veggo Niccòlò Tiepoli, e con esso
    Niccòlò Amaniò in me affissar le ciglia;
  Autòn Fulgòsò, ch'a vedermi appressò
    Al litò, mòstra gaudiò e maraviglia.
  Il miò Valeriò e quel che là s'è messò
  Fuòr de le dònne," &c.

 Even Metastasio, who wrote expressly for singers, and often with
exquisite modulation, especially in his songs, forgets himself when he
comes to the names of his dramatis persome,--"`Artaserse, `Artàbàno,
`Arbàce, Màndàne, Semirà, Megàbise,"--all in one play.

  "Gran cose io temo. Il mio germàno `Arbàce
  Pàrte prià de l'aurorà. Il pàdre armàto
  Incontro, e non mi pàrlà. `Accusà il cielo
  `Agitàto `Artàserse, e m'àbbàndonà."

                                                 Atto i. se. 6.

I am far from intending to say that these reiterations are not sometimes
allowable, nay, often beautiful and desirable. Alliteration itself may be
rendered an exquisite instrument of music. I am only speaking of monotony
or discord in the enumeration of proper names.]

[Footnote 40: See them both in the present volume, pp. 420 and 445.]



The Mahomedan king of Jerusalem, at the instigation of Ismeno, a
magician, deprives a Christian church of its image of the Virgin, and
sets it up in a mosque, under a spell of enchantment, as a palladium
against the Crusaders. The image is stolen in the night; and the king,
unable to discover who has taken it, orders a massacre of the Christian
portion of his subjects, which is prevented by Sophronia's accusing
herself of the offence. Her lover, Olindo, finding her sentenced to the
stake in consequence, disputes with her the right of martyrdom. He is
condemned to suffer with her. The Amazon Clorinda, who has come to fight
on the side of Aladin, obtains their pardon in acknowledgment of her
services; and Sophronia, who had not loved Olindo before, now returns his
passion, and goes with him from the stake to the marriage-altar.


Godfrey of Boulogne, the leader of the Crusaders, was now in full march
for Jerusalem with the Christian army; and Aladin, the old infidel king,
became agitated with wrath and terror. He had heard nothing but accounts
of the enemy's irresistible advance. There were many Christians within
his walls whose insurrection he dreaded; and though he had appeared to
grow milder with age, he now, in spite of the frost in his veins, felt as
hot for cruelty, as the snake excited by the fire of summer. He longed
to stifle his fears of insurrection by a massacre, but dreaded the
consequence in the event of the city's being taken. He therefore
contented himself, for the present, with laying waste the country round
about it, destroying every possible receptacle of the invaders,
poisoning the wells, and doubly fortifying the only weak point in his

At this juncture the renegade Ismeno stood before him--a bad old man who
had studied unlawful arts. He could bind and loose evil spirits, and draw
the dead out of their tombs, restoring to them breath and perception.
This man told the king, that in the church belonging to his Christian
subjects there was an altar underground, on which stood a veiled image of
the woman whom they worshipped--the mother, as they called her, of their
dead and buried God. A dazzling light burnt for ever before it; and the
walls were hung with the offerings of her credulous devotees. If this
image, he said, were taken away by the king's own hand, and set up in a
mosque, such a spell of enchantment could be thrown about it as should
render the city impregnable so long as the idol was kept safe.

Aladin proceeded instantly to the Christian temple, and, treating the
priests with violence, tore the image from its shrine and conveyed it to
his own place of worship. The necromancer then muttered before it his
blasphemous enchantment. But the light of morning no sooner appeared in
the mosque, than the official to whose charge the palladium had been
committed missed it from its place, and in vain searched every other to
find it. In truth it never was found again; nor is it known to this
day how it went. Some think the Christians took it; others that Heaven
interfered in order to save it from profanation. And well (says the
poet) does it become a pious humility so to think of a disappearance so

The king, who fell into a paroxysm of rage, not doubting that some
Christian was the offender, issued a proclamation setting a price on
the head of any one who concealed it. But no discovery was made. The
necromancer resorted to his art with as little effect. The king then
ordered a general Christian massacre. His savage wrath hugged itself on
the reflection, that the criminal would be sure to perish, perish else
who might.

The Christians heard the order with an astonishment that took away all
their powers of resistance. The suddenness of the presence of death
stupified them. They did not resort even to an entreaty. They waited,
like sheep, to be butchered. Little did they think what kind of saviour
was at hand.

There was a maiden among them of ripe years, grave and beautiful; one who
took no heed of her beauty, but was altogether absorbed in high and holy
thoughts. If she thought of her beauty ever, it was only to subject it to
the dignity of virtue. The greater her worth, the more she concealed it
from the world, living a close life at home, and veiling herself from all

But the rays of such a jewel could not but break through their casket.
Love would not consent to have it so locked up. Love turned her very
retirement into attraction. There was a youth who had become enamoured
of this hidden treasure. His name was Olindo; Sophronia was that of the
maiden. Olindo, like herself, was a Christian; and the humbleness of his
passion was equal to the worth of her that inspired it. He desired much,
hoped little, asked nothing.[1] He either knew not how to disclose his
love, or did not dare it. And she either despised it, or did not, or
would not, see it. The poor youth, up to this day, had got nothing by his
devotion, not even a look.

The maiden, who was nevertheless as generous as she was virtuous, fell
into deep thought how she might save her Christian brethren. She soon
came to her resolve. She delayed the execution of it a little, only out
of a sense of virgin decorum, which, in its turn, made her still more
resolute. She issued forth by herself, in the sight of all, not muffling
up her beauty, nor yet exposing it. She withdrew her eyes beneath a veil,
and, attired neither with ostentation nor carelessness, passed through
the streets with unaffected simplicity, admired by all save herself. She
went straight before the king. His angry aspect did not repel her. She
drew aside the veil, and looked him steadily in the face.

"I am come," she said, "to beg that you will suspend your wrath, and
withhold the orders given to your people. I know and will give up the
author of the deed which has offended you, on that condition."

At the noble confidence thus displayed, at the sudden apparition of so
much lofty and virtuous beauty, the king's countenance was confused, and
its angry expression abated. Had his spirit been less stern, or the look
she gave him less firm in its purpose, he would have loved her. But
haughty beauty and haughty beholder are seldom drawn together. Glances
of pleasure are the baits of love. And yet, if the ungentle king was not
enamoured, he was impressed. He was bent on gazing at her; he felt an
emotion of delight.

"Say on," he replied; "I accept the condition."

"Behold then," said she, "the offender. The deed was the work of this
hand. It was I that conveyed away the image. I am she whom you look for.
I am the criminal to be punished."

And as she spake, she bent her head before him, as already yielding it to
the executioner.

Oh, noble falsehood! when was truth to be compared with thee?[2]

The king was struck dumb. He did not fall into his accustomed transports
of rage. When he recovered from his astonishment, he said, "Who advised
you to do this? Who was your accomplice?"

"Not a soul," replied the maiden. "I would not have allowed another
person to share a particle of my glory. I alone knew of the deed; I alone
counselled it; I alone did it."

"Then be the consequence," cried he, "on your own head!"

"'Tis but just," returned Sophronia. "Mine was the sole honour; mine,
therefore, should be the only punishment."

The tyrant at this began to feel the accession of his old wrath. "Where,"
he said, "have You hidden the image?"

"I did not hide it," she replied, "I burnt it. I thought it fit and
righteous to do so. I knew of no other way to save it from the hands of
the unbelieving. Ask not for what will never again be found. Be content
with the vengeance you have before you."

Oh, chaste heart! oh, exalted soul! oh, creature full of nobleness! think
not to find a forgiving moment return. Beauty itself is thy shield no

The glorious maiden is taken and bound. The cruel king has condemned her
to the stake. Her veil, and the mantle that concealed her chaste bosom,
are torn away, and her soft arms tied with a hard knot behind her. She
said nothing; she was not terrified; but yet she was not unmoved. Her
bosom heaved in spite of its courage. Her lovely colour was lost in a
pure white.

The news spread in an instant, and the city crowded to the sight,
Christians and all, Olindo among them. He had thought within himself,
"What if it should be Sophronia!" But when he beheld that it was she
indeed, and not only condemned, but already at the stake, he made
way through the crowd with violence, crying out, "This is not the
person,--this poor simpleton! She never thought of such a thing; she had
not the courage to do it; she had not the strength. How was she to carry
the sacred image away? Let her abide by her story if she dare. I did it."

Such was the love of the poor youth for her that loved him not.

When he came up to the stake, he gave a formal account of what he
pretended to have done. "I climbed in," he said, "at the window of your
mosque at night, and found a narrow passage round to the image, where
nobody could expect to meet me. I shall not suffer the penalty to be
usurped by another. I did the deed, and I will have the honour of doing
it, now that it comes to this. Let our places be changed."

Sophronia had looked up when she heard the youth call out, and she gazed
on him with eyes of pity. "What madness is this!" exclaimed she. "What
can induce an innocent person to bring destruction on himself for
nothing? Can I not bear the thing by myself? Is the anger of one man so
tremendous, that one person cannot sustain it? Trust me, friend, you are
mistaken. I stand in no need of your company."

Thus spoke Sophronia to her lover; but not a whit was he disposed to
alter his mind. Oh, great and beautiful spectacle! Love and virtue at
strife;--death the prize they contend for;--ruin itself the salvation of
the conqueror! But the contest irritated the king. He felt himself set at
nought; felt death itself despised, as if in despite of the inflictor.
"Let them be taken at their words," cried be; "let both have the prize
they long for."

The youth is seized on the instant, and bound like the maiden. Both are
tied to the stake, and set back to back. They behold not the face of one
another. The wood is heaped round about them; the fire is kindled.

The youth broke out into lamentations, but only loud enough to be heard
by his fellow-sufferer. "Is this, then," said he, "the bond which I hoped
might join us? Is this the fire which I thought might possibly warm two
lovers' hearts?[3] Too long (is it not so?) have we been divided, and now
too cruelly are we united: too cruelly, I say, but not as regards me;
for since I am not to be partner of thy existence, gladly do I share thy
death. It is thy fate, not mine, that afflicts me. Oh! too happy were it
to me, too sweet and fortunate, if I could obtain grace enough to be
set with thee heart to heart, and so breathe out my soul into thy lips!
Perhaps thou wouldst do the like with mine, and so give me thy last

Thus spoke the youth in tears; but the maiden gently reproved him.

She said: "Other thoughts, my friend, and other lamentations befit a time
like this. Why thinkest thou not of thy sins, and of the rewards which
God has promised to the righteous? Meet thy sufferings in his name; so
shall their bitterness be made sweet, and thy soul be carried into the
realms above. Cast thine eyes upwards, and behold them. See how beautiful
is the sky; how the sun seems to invite thee towards it with its

At words so noble and piteous as these, the Pagans themselves, who stood
within hearing, began to weep. The Christians wept too, but in voices
more lowly. Even the king felt an emotion of pity; but disdaining to give
way to it, he turned aside and withdrew. The maiden alone partook not of
the common grief. She for whom every body wept, wept not for herself.

The flames were now beginning to approach the stake, when there appeared,
coming through the crowd, a warrior of noble mien, habited in the arms of
another country. The tiger, which formed the crest of his helmet, drew
all eyes to it, for it was a cognizance well known. The people began to
think that it was a heroine instead of a hero which they saw, even the
famous Clorinda. Nor did they err in the supposition.

A despiser of feminine habits had Clorinda been from her childhood. She
disdained to put her hand to the needle and the distaff. She renounced
every soft indulgence, every timid retirement, thinking that virtue could
be safe wherever it went in its own courageous heart; and so she armed
her countenance with pride, and pleased herself with making it stern, but
not to the effect she looked for, for the sternness itself pleased. While
yet a child her little right hand would control the bit of the charger,
and she wielded the sword and spear, and hardened her limbs with
wrestling, and made them supple for the race; and then as she grew up,
she tracked the footsteps of the bear and lion, and followed the trumpet
to the wars; and in those and in the depths of the forest she seemed a
wild creature to mankind, and a man to the wildest creature. She had now
come out of Persia to wreak her displeasure on the Christians, who had
already felt the sharpness of her sword; and as she arrived near this
assembled multitude, death was the first thing that met her eyes, but in
a shape so perplexing, that she looked narrowly to discern what it was,
and then spurred her horse towards the scene of action. The crowd gave
way as she approached, and she halted as she entered the circle round the
stake, and sat gazing on the youth and maiden. She wondered to see the
male victim lamenting, while the female was mute. But indeed she saw that
he was weeping not out of grief but pity; or at least, not out of grief
for himself; and as to the maiden, she observed her to be so wrapt up
in the contemplation of the heavens at which she was gazing, that she
appeared to have already taken leave of earth.

Pity touched the heart of the Amazon, and the tears came into her eyes.
She felt sorry for both the victims, but chiefly for the one that said
nothing. She turned to a white-headed man beside her, and said, "What is
this? Who are these two persons, whom crime, or their ill fortune, has
brought hither?"

The man answered her briefly, but to the purpose; and she discerned at
once that both must be innocent. She therefore determined to save them.
She dismounted, and set the example of putting a stop to the flames, and
then said to the officers, "Let nobody continue this work till I have
spoken to the king. Rest assured he will hold you guiltless of the
delay." The officers obeyed, being struck with her air of confidence and
authority; and she went straight towards the king, who had heard of her
arrival, and who was coming to bid her welcome.

"I am Clorinda," she said. "Thou knowest me? Then thou knowest, sir, one
who is desirous to defend the good faith and the king of Jerusalem. I am
ready for any duty that may be assigned me. I fear not the greatest, nor
do I disdain the least. Open field or walled city, no post will come
amiss to the king's servant."

"Illustrious maiden," answered the king, "who knoweth not Clorinda? What
region is there so distant from Asia, or so far away out of the paths of
the sun, to which the sound of thy achievements has not arrived? Joined
by thee and by thy sword I fear nothing. Godfrey, methinks, is too slow
to attack me. Dost thou ask to which post thou shalt be appointed? To the
greatest. None else becomes thee. Thou art lady and mistress of the war."

Clorinda gave the king thanks for his courtesy, and then resumed.
"Strange is it, in truth," she said, "to ask my reward before I have
earned it; but confidence like this reassures me. Grant me, for what I
propose to do in the good cause, the lives of these two persons. I wave
the uncertainty of their offence; I wave the presumption of innocence
afforded by their own behaviour. I ask their liberation as a favour. And
yet it becomes me, at the same time, to confess, that I do not believe
the Christians to have taken the image out of the mosque. It was an
impious thing of the magician to put it there. An idol has no business in
a Mussulman temple, much less the idols of unbelievers; and my opinion
is, that the miracle was the work of Mahomet himself, out of scorn and
hatred of the contamination. Let Ismeno prefer his craft, if he will, to
the weapons of a man; but let him not take upon himself the defence of a
nation of warriors."

The warlike damsel was silent; and the king, though he could with
difficulty conquer his anger, yet did so, to please his guest. "They are
free," said he; "I can deny nothing to such a petitioner. Whether it be
justice or not to absolve them, absolved they are. If they are innocent,
I pronounce them so; if guilty, I concede their pardon."

At these words the youth and the maiden were set free. And blissful
indeed was the fortune of Olindo; for love, so proved as his, awoke love
in the noble bosom of Sophronia; and so he passed from the stake to
the marriage-altar, a husband, instead of a wretch condemned--a lover
beloved, instead of a hopeless adorer.

[Footnote 1: "Brama assai, poco spera, e nulla chiede." Canto ii. st. 16.
A line justly famous.]

[Footnote 2:

  "Magnanima menzogna! or quando è il vero
  Sì bello, che si possa a te preporre?"]

[Footnote 3: This conceit is more dwelt upon in the original, coupled
with the one noticed at p. 362.]



The Mussulman Amazon Clorinda, who is beloved by the Christian chief
Tancred, goes forth in disguise at night to burn the battering tower of
the Christian army. She effects her purpose; but, in retreating from its
discoverers, is accidentally shut out of the gate through which she had
left the city. She makes her way into the open country, trusting to get
in at one of the other gates; but, having been watched by Tancred, who
does not know her in the armour in which she is disguised, a combat
ensues between them, in which she is slain. She requests baptism in her
last moments, and receives it from the hands of her despairing lover.


The Christians, in their siege of Jerusalem, had brought a huge rolling
tower against the walls, from which they battered and commanded the city
with such deadly effect, that the generous Amazon Clorinda resolved to go
forth in disguise and burn it. She disclosed her design to the chieftain
Argantes, for the purpose of recommending to him the care of her damsels,
in case any misfortune should happen to her; but the warrior, jealous of
the glory of such an enterprise, insisted on partaking it. The old king,
weeping for gratitude, joyfully gave them leave; and the Soldan of Egypt,
with a generous emulation, would fain have joined them. Argantes was
about to give him a disdainful refusal, when the king interposed, and
persuaded the Soldan to remain behind, lest the city should miss too many
of its best defenders at one time; adding, that the risk of sallying
forth should be his, in case the burners of the tower were pursued on
their return. Argantes and the Amazon then retired to prepare for the
exploit, and the magician Ismeno compounded two balls of sulphur for the
work of destruction.

Clorinda took off her beautiful helmet, and her surcoat of cloth of
silver, and laid aside all her haughty arms, and dressed herself (hapless
omen!) in black armour without polish, the better to conceal herself from
the enemy. Her faithful servant, the good old eunuch Arsetes, who had
attended her from infancy, and was now following her about as well as he
could with his accustomed zeal, anxiously noticed what she was doing,
and guessing it was for some desperate enterprise, entreated her, by his
white hairs and all the love he had shewn her, to give it up. Finding his
prayers to no purpose, he requested with great emotion that she would
give ear to certain matters in her family history, which he at length
felt it his duty to disclose. "It would then," he said, "be for herself
to judge, whether she would persist in the enterprise or renounce it."
Clorinda, at this, looked at the good man, and listened with attention.

"Not long ago," said he, "there reigned in Ethiopia, and perhaps is still
reigning, a king named Senapus, who in common with his people professed
the Christian religion. They are a black though a handsome people, and
the king and his queen were of the salve colour. The king loved her
dearly, but was unfortunately so jealous, that he concealed her from
the sight of mankind. Had it been in his power, I think he would have
hindered the very eyes of heaven from beholding her. The sweet lady,
however, was wise and humble, and did every thing she could to please

"I was not a Christian myself. I was a Pagan slave, employed among the
women about the queen, and making one of her special attendants.

"It happened, that the royal bed-chamber was painted with the story of a
holy knight saving a maiden from a dragon;[1] and the maiden had a face
beautifully fair, with blooming cheeks. The queen often prayed and
wept before this picture; and it made so great an impression on her,
particularly the maiden's face, that when she bore a child, she saw with
consternation that the infant's skin was of the same fair colour. This
child was thyself. [2]

"Terrified with the thoughts of what her husband would feel at such a
sight, what a convincing proof he would hold it of a faith on her part
the reverse of spotless,[3] she procured a babe of her own colour by
means of a confidant; and before thou wert baptised (which is a ceremony
that takes place in Ethiopia later than elsewhere) committed thee to my
care to be brought up at a distance. Who shall relate the tears which
thy mother poured forth, and the sighs and sobs with which they were
interrupted? How many times, when she thought she had given thee the
last embrace, did she not gather thee to her bosom once more! At length,
raising her eyes to heaven, she said, 'O Thou that seest into the hearts
of mortals, and knowest in this matter the spotlessness of mine, dark
though it be otherwise with frailty and with sin, save, I pray thee,
this innocent creature who is denied the milk of its mother's breast.
Vouchsafe that she resemble her hapless parent in nothing but a chaste
life. And thou, celestial warrior, that didst deliver the maiden out of
the serpent's mouth, if I have ever lit humble taper on thine altar, and
set before thee offerings of gold and incense, be, I implore thee, her
advocate. Be her advocate to such purpose, that in every turn of fortune
she may be enabled to count on thy good help.' Here she ceased, torn to
her very heart-strings, with a face painted of the colour of death; and
I, weeping myself, received thee, and bore thee away, hidden in a sweet
covering of flowers and leaves.

"I journeyed with thee along a forest, where a tiger came upon us with
fury in its eyes. I betook me, alas, to a tree, and left thee lying on
the ground, such terror was in me; and the horrible beast looked down
upon thee. But it fell to licking thee with its dreadful tongue, and thou
didst smile to it, and put thy little hand to its jaws; and, lo, it gave
thee suck, being a mother itself; and then, wonderful to relate, it
returned into the woods, leaving me to venture down from the tree, and
bear thee onward to my place of refuge. There, in a little obscure
cottage, I had thee nursed for more than a year; till, feeling that I
grew old, I resolved to avail myself of the riches the queen had given
me, and go into my own country, which was Egypt. I set out for it
accordingly, and had to cross a torrent where thieves threatened me on
one side, and the fierce water on the other. I plunged in, holding thee
above the torrent with one hand, till I came to an eddy that tore thee
from me. I thought thee lost. What was my delight and astonishment, on
reaching the bank, to find that the water itself had tossed thee upon it
in safety!

"But I had a dream at night, which seemed to shew me the cause of
thy good fortune. A warrior appeared before me with a threatening
countenance, holding a sword in my face, and saying in an imperious
voice, 'Obey the commands of the child's mother and of me, and baptise
it. She is favoured of Heaven, and her lot is in my keeping. It was I
that put tenderness in the heart of the wild beast, and even a will to
save her in the water. Woe to thee, if thou believest not this vision. It
is a message from the skies.'

"The spirit vanished, and I awoke and pursued my journey; but thinking my
own creed the true one, and therefore concluding the dream to be false, I
baptised thee not; I bred thee what I was myself, a Pagan; and thou didst
grow up, and become great and wonderful in arms, surpassing the deeds
of men, and didst acquire riches and lands; and what thy life has been
since, then knowest as well as I; ay, and thou knowest mine own ways too,
how I have followed and cautiously waited on thee ever, being to thee
both as a servant and father.

"Now yesterday morning, as I lay heavily asleep, in consequence of my
troubled mind, the same figure of the warrior made its appearance, but
with a countenance still more threatening, and speaking in a louder
voice. 'Wretch,' it exclaimed, 'the hour is approaching when Clorinda
shall end both her life and her belief. She is mine in despite of thee.
Misery be thine.' With these words it darted away as though it flew.

"Consider then, delight of my soul, what these dreams may portend. They
threaten thee terrible things; for what reason I know not. Can it be,
that mine own faith is the wrong one, and that of thy parents the right?
Ah! take thought at least, and repress this daring courage. Lay aside
these arms that frighten me."

Tears hindered the old man from saying more. Clorinda grew thoughtful,
and felt something of dread, for she had had a like kind of dream. At
length, however, cheerfully looking up, she said, "I must follow the
faith I was bred in; the faith which thou thyself bred'st me in,
although thy words would now make me doubt it. Neither can I give up the
enterprise that calls me forth. Such a withdrawal is not to be expected
of an honourable soul. Death may put on the worst face it pleases. I
shall not retreat."

The intrepid maiden, however, did her best to console her good friend;
but the time having arrived for the adventure, she finally bade him be of
good heart, and so left him.

Silently, and in the middle of the night, Argantes and Clorinda took
their way down the hills of Jerusalem, and, quitting the gates, went
stealthily towards the site of the tower. But its ever-watchful guards
were alarmed. They demanded the watch-word; and, not receiving it, cried
out, "To arms! to arms!" The dauntless adventurers plunged forwards with
their swords; they dashed aside every assailant, pitched the balls of
sulphur into the machine, and in a short time, in the midst of a daring
conflict, had the pleasure of seeing the smoke and the flame arise, and
the whole tower blazing to its destruction. A terrible sight it was to
the Christians. Waked up, they came crowding to the place; and the two
companions, notwithstanding their skill and audacity, were compelled to
make a retreat. The besieged, with the king at their head, now arrived
also, crowding on the walls; and the gate was opened to let the
adventurers in. The Soldan issued forth at the same moment to cover the
retreat. Argantes was forced through the gate by Clorinda in spite of
himself; and she, but for a luckless antagonist, would have followed him;
but a soldier aiming at her a last blow, she rushed back to give the man
his death; and, in the confusion of the moment, the warders, believing
her to have entered, shut up the gate, and the heroine was left without.

Behind Clorinda was the gate--before and round about her was a host of
foes; and surely at that moment she thought that her life was drawing to
its end. Finding, however, that her dark armour befriended her in
the tumult, she mingled with the enemy as though she had been one of
themselves, and so, by degrees, picked her way through the confusion
caused by the fire. As the wolf, with its bloody mouth, seeks covert
in the woods, even so Clorinda got clear out of the multitude into the
darkness and the open country.

Not, however, so clear, alas, but that Tancred perceived her--Tancred,
her foe in creed, but her adoring lover, whose heart she had conquered in
the midst of strife, and whose passion for her she knew. But now she knew
not that he had seen her; nor did he, poor valiant wretch, know that
the knight in black armour whom he pursued, was a woman, and Clorinda.
Tancred had seen the warrior strike down the assailant at the gate; he
had watched him as he picked his way to escape; and Clorinda now heard
the unknown Tancred coming swiftly on horseback behind her as she was
speeding round towards another gate in hopes of being let in.

The heroine at length turned, and said, "How now, friend?--what is thy

"Death!" answered the pursuer.

"Thou shalt have it," replied the maiden.

The knight, as his enemy was on foot, dismounted, in order to render
the combat equal; and their swords are drawn in fury, and the fight

Worthy of the brightest day-time was that fight--worthy of a theatre full
of valiant be-holders. Be not displeased, O. Night! that I draw it out of
thy bosom, and set it in the serene light of renown: the splendour will
but the more exhibit the great shade of thy darkness.

No trial was this of skill--no contest of warding and traversing and
taking heed--no artful interchange of blows now pretended, now given in
earnest, now glancing. Night-time and rage flung aside all consideration.
The swords horribly clashed and hammered on one another. Not a cut
descended in vain--not a thrust was without substance. Shame and fury
aggravated one another. Every blow became fiercer than the last. They
closed--they could use their blades no longer; they dashed the pummels of
their swords at one another's faces; they butted and shouldered with helm
and buckler. Three times the man threw his arms round the woman with
other embraces than those of love--three times they returned to their
swords, and cut and slashed one another's bleeding bodies; till at length
they were obliged to hold back for the purpose of taking breath.

Tancred and Clorinda stood fronting one another in the darkness, leaning
on their swords for want of strength. The last star in the heavens was
fading in the tinge of dawn; and Tancred saw that his enemy had lost more
blood than himself, and it made him proud and joyful. Oh, foolish mind of
us humans, elated at every fancy of success! Poor wretch! for what dost
thou rejoice? How sad will be thy victory! What a misery to look back
upon, thy delight! Every drop of that blood will be paid for with worlds
of tears!

Dimly thus looking at one another stood the combatants, bleeding a while
in peace. At length Tancred, who wished to know his antagonist, said, "It
hath been no good fortune of ours to be compelled thus to fight where
nobody can behold us; but we have at least become acquainted with the
good swords of one another. Let me request, therefore (if to request any
thing at such a time be not unbecoming), that I may be no stranger to thy
name. Permit me to learn, whatever be the result, who it is that shall
honour my death or my victory."

"I am not accustomed," answered the fierce maiden, "to disclose who I am;
nor shall I disclose it now. Suffice to hear, that thou seest before thee
one of the burners of the tower."

Tancred was exasperated at this discovery. "In an evil moment," cried he,
"hast thou said it. Thy silence and thy speech alike disgust me." Into
the combat again they dash, feeble as they were. Ferocious indeed is the
strife in which skill is not thought of, and strength itself is dead; in
which valour rages instead of contends, and feebleness becomes hate and
fury. Oh, the gates of blood that were set open in wounds upon wounds!
If life itself did not come pouring forth, it was only because scorn
withheld it.

As in the Ægean Sea, when the south and north winds have lost the
violence of their strength, the billows do not subside nevertheless, but
retain the noise and magnitude of their first motion; so the continued
impulse of the combatants carried them still against one another,
hurling them into mutual injury, though they had scarcely life in their

And now the fatal hour has come when Clorinda must die. The sword of
Tancred is in her bosom to the very hilt. The stomacher under the cuirass
which enclosed it is filled with a hot flood.

Her legs give way beneath her. She falls--she feels that she is
departing. The conqueror, with a still threatening countenance, prepares
to follow up his victory, and treads on her as she lies.

But a new spirit had come upon her--the spirit which called the beloved
of Heaven to itself; and, speaking in a sorrowing voice, she thus uttered
her last words:

"My friend, thou hast conquered--I forgive thee. Forgive thou me, not for
my body's sake, which fears nothing, but for the sake, alas, of my soul.
Baptise me, I beseech thee."

There was something in the voice, as the dying person spake these words,
that went, he knew not why, to the heart of Tancred. The tears forced
themselves into his eyes. Not far off there was a little stream, and the
conqueror went to it and filled his helmet; and returning, prepared for
the pious office by unlacing his adversary's helmet. His hands trembled
when he first beheld the forehead, though he did not yet know it; but
when the vizor was all down, and the face disclosed, he remained without
speech and motion.

Oh, the sight! oh, the recognition!

He did not die. He summoned up all the powers within him to support his
heart for that moment. He resolved to hold up his duty above his misery,
and give life with the sweet water to her whom he had slain with sword.
He dipped his fingers in it, and marked her forehead with the cross, and
repeated the words of the sacred office; and while he was repeating them,
the sufferer changed countenance for joy, and smiled, and seemed to say,
in the cheerfulness of her departure, "The heavens are opening--I go in
peace." A paleness and a shade together then came over her countenance,
as if lilies had been mixed with violets. She looked up at heaven, and
heaven itself might be thought for very tenderness to be looking at her;
and then she raised a little her hand towards that of the knight (for she
could not speak), and so gave it him in sign of goodwill; and with his
pressure of it her soul passed away, and she seemed asleep.

But Tancred no sooner beheld her dead, than all the strength of mind
which he had summoned up to support him fell flat on the instant. He
would have given way to the most frantic outcries; but life and speech
seemed to be shut up in one point in his heart; despair seized him like
death, and he fell senseless beside her. And surely he would have died
indeed, had not a party of his countrymen happened to come up. They were
looking for water, and had found it, and they discovered the bodies at
the same time. The leader knew Tancred by his arms. The beautiful body of
Clorinda, though he deemed her a Pagan, he would not leave exposed to
the wolves; so he directed them both to be carried to the pavilion of
Tancred, and there placed in separate chambers.

Dreadful was the waking of Tancred--not for the solemn whispering around
him--not for his aching wounds, terrible as they were,--but for the agony
of the recollection that rushed upon him. He would have gone staggering
out of the pavilion to seek the remains of his Clorinda, and save them
from the wolves; but his friends told him they were at hand, under the
curtain of his own tent. A gleam of pleasure shot across his face, and be
staggered into the chamber; but when he beheld the body gored with his
own hand, and the face, calm indeed, but calm like a pale night without
stars, he trembled so, that he would have sunk to the ground but for his

"O sweet face!" he exclaimed; "thou mayst be calm now; but what is to
calm me? O hand that was held up to me in sign of peace and forgiveness!
to what have I brought thee? Wretch that I am, I do not even weep. Mine
eyes are as cruel as my hands. My blood shall be shed instead."

And with these words he began tearing off the bandages which the surgeons
had put upon him; and he thrust his fingers into his wounds, and would
have slain himself thus outright, had not the pain made him faint away.

He was then taken back to his own chamber. Godfrey came in the mean
time with the venerable hermit Peter; and when the sufferer awoke, they
addressed him in kind words, which even his impatience respected; but it
was not to be calmed till the preacher put on the terrors of religion,
remonstrating with him as an ingrate to God, and threatening him with the
doom of a sinner. The tears then crept into his eyes, and he tried to be
patient, and in some degree was so--only breaking out ever and anon, now
into exclamations of horror, and now into fond lamentations, talking as
if with the shade of his beloved.

Thus lay Tancred for days together, ever woful; till, falling asleep one
night towards the dawn, the shade of Clorinda did indeed appear to him,
more beautiful than ever, and clad in light and joy. She seemed to stoop
and wipe the tears from his eyes; and then said, "Behold how happy I am.
Behold me, O beloved friend, and see how happy, and bright, and beautiful
I am; and consider that it is all owing to thyself. 'Twas thou that
took'st me out of the false path, and made me worthy of admission among
saints and angels. There, in heaven, I love and rejoice; and there I look
to see thee in thine appointed time; after which we shall both love the
great God and one another for ever and ever. Be faithful, and command
thyself, and look to the end; for, lo, as far as it is permitted to a
blessed spirit to love mortality, even now I love thee!"

With these words the eyes of the vision grew bright beyond mortal beauty;
and then it turned and was hidden in the depth of its radiance, and

Tancred slept a quiet sleep; and when he awoke, he gave himself patiently
up to the will of the physician; and the remains of Clorinda were
gathered into a noble tomb.[6]

[Footnote 1: St. George.]

[Footnote 2: This fiction of a white Ethiop child is taken from the Greek
romance of Heliodorus, book the fourth. The imaginative principle on
which it is founded is true to physiology, and Tasso had a right to use
it; but the particular and excessive instance does not appear happy in
the eyes of a modern reader acquainted with the history of _albinos._]

[Footnote 3: The conceit is more antithetically put in the original

  "Ch'egli avria del candor che in te si vede
  Argomentato in lei non bianca fede."

  Canto xii. st. 24.]

[Footnote 4: The poet here compares his hero and heroine to two jealous

"bulls," no happy comparison certainly.

  "Vansi a ritrovar non altrimenti
  Che duo tori gelosi."           St. 53.]

[Footnote 5:

  "Qual l'alto Egeo, perchè Aquilone o Noto
    Cessi, che tutto prima il volse e scosse,
  Non s'accheta però, ma 'l suono e 'l moto
    Ritien de l'onde anco agitate e grosse;
  Tal, se ben manca in lor col sangue voto
    Quel vigor che le braccia ai colpi mosse,
  Serbano ancor l'impeto primo, e vanno
  Da quel sospinti a giunger danno a danno."
                                                      Canto xii. st. 63.]

[Footnote 6: This tomb, Tancred says, in an address which he makes to it,

  "has his flames inside of it, and his tears without:"
  "Che dentro hai le mie fiamme, e fuori il pianto." St. 96.]

I am loath to disturb the effect of a really touching story; but if I do
not occasionally give instances of these conceits, my translations will
belie my criticism.]





PART I.--Satan assembles the fiends in council to consider the best means
of opposing the Christians. Armida, the niece of the wizard king of
Damascus, is incited to go to their camp under false pretences, and
endeavour to weaken it; which she does by seducing away many of the
knights, and sowing a discord which ends in the flight of Rinaldo.

PART II.--Armida, after making the knights feel the power of her magic,
dismisses them bound prisoners for Damascus. They are rescued on their
way by Rinaldo. Armida pursues him in wrath, but falls in love with him.

PART III.--The magician Ismeno succeeds in frightening the Christians in
their attempt to cut wood from the Enchanted Forest. Rinaldo is sent for,
as the person fated to undo the enchantment.

PART IV.--Rinaldo and Armida, in love with each other, pass their time in
a bower of bliss. He is fetched away by two knights, and leaves her in

PART V.--Rinaldo disenchants the forest, and has the chief hand in the
taking of Jerusalem. He meets and reconciles Armida. RINALDO AND ARMIDA,

Part the First


The Christians had now commenced their attack on Jerusalem, and brought a
great rolling tower against the walls, built from the wood of a forest in
the neigbbourhood; when the Malignant Spirit, who has never ceased his
war with Heaven, cast in his mind how he might best defeat their purpose.
It was necessary to divide their forces; to destroy their tower; to
hinder them from building another; and to make one final triumphant
effort against the whole progress of their arms.

Forgetting how the right arm of God could launch its thunderbolts, the
Fiend accordingly seated himself on his throne, and ordered his powers to
be brought together. The Tartarean trumpet, with its hoarse voice, called
up the dwellers in everlasting darkness. The huge black caverns trembled
to their depths, and the blind air rebellowed with the thunder. The bolt
does not break forth so horribly when it comes bursting after the flash
out of the heavens; nor had the world before ever trembled with such an

The gods of the abyss came thronging up on all sides through the
gates;--terrible-looking beings with unaccountable aspects, dispensers of
death and horror with their eyes;--some stamping with hoofs, some rolling
on enormous spires,--their faces human, their hair serpents. There were
thousands of shameless Harpies, of pallid Gorgons, of barking Scyllas,
of Chimeras that vomited ashes, and of monsters never before heard or
thought of, with perverse aspects all mixed up in one.

The Power of Evil sat looking down upon them, huger than a rock in the
sea, or an alp with forked summits. A certain horrible majesty augmented
the terrors of his aspect. His eyes reddened; his poisonous look hung in
the air like a comet; the mouth, as it opened in the midst of clouds of
beard, seemed an abyss of darkness and blood; and out of it, as from a
volcano, issued fires, and vapours, and disgust.

Satan laid forth to his dreadful hearers his old quarrel with Heaven,
and its new threats of an extension of its empire. Christendom was to be
brought into Asia; their worshippers were to perish; souls were to be
rescued from their devices, and Satan's kingdom on earth put an end to.
He exhorted them therefore to issue forth once for all and prevent this
fatal consummation by the destruction of the Christian forces. Some of
the leaders he bade them do their best to disperse, others to slay,
others to draw into effeminate pleasures, into rebellion, into the ruin
of the whole camp, so that not a vestige might remain of its existence.

The assembly broke up with the noise of hurricanes. They issued forth
to look once more upon the stars, and to sow seeds every where of
destruction to the Christians. Satan himself followed them, and entered
the heart of Hydraotes, king of Damascus.

Hydraotes was a wizard as well as a king, and held the Christians in
abhorrence. But he was wise enough to respect their valour; and with
Satan's help he discerned the likeliest way to counteract it. He had a
niece, who was the greatest beauty of the age. He had taught her his art:
and he concluded, that the enchantments of beauty and magic united would
prove irresistible. He therefore disclosed to her his object. He told her
that every artifice was lawful, when the intention was to serve one's
country and one's faith; and he conjured her to do her utmost to separate
Godfrey himself from his army, or in the event of that not being
possible, to bring away as many as she could of his noblest captains.

Armida (for that was her name), proud of her beauty, and of the unusual
arts that she had acquired, took her way the same evening, alone, and by
the most sequestered paths,--a female in gown and tresses issuing forth
to conquer an army.[2]

She had not travelled many days ere she came in sight of the Christian
camp, the outskirts of which she entered immediately. The Frenchmen all
flocked to see her, wondering who she was, and who could have sent them
so lovely a messenger. Armida passed onwards, not with a misgiving air,
not with an unalluring, and yet not with an immodest one. Her golden
tresses she suffered at one moment to escape from under her veil, and
at another she gathered them again within it. Her rosy mouth breathed
simplicity as well as voluptuousness. Her bosom was so artfully draped,
as to let itself be discerned without seeming to intend it. And thus she
passed along, surprising and transporting every body. Coming at length
among the tents of the officers, she requested to be shewn that of the
leader; and Eustace eagerly stepped forward to conduct her.

Eustace was the younger brother of Godfrey. He had all the ardour of his
time of life, and the gallantry, in every respect, of a Frenchman. After
paying her a profusion of compliments, and learning that she was a
fugitive in distress, he promised her every thing which his brother's
authority and his own sword could do for her; and so led her into
Godfrey's presence.

The pretended fugitive made a lowly obeisance, and then stood mute and
blushing, till the general re-assured her. She then told him, that she
was the rightful queen of Damascus, whose throne was usurped by an uncle;
that her uncle sought her death, from which she had been saved by the man
who was bribed to inflict it; and that although her creed was Mahometan,
she had brought her mind to conclude, that so noble an enemy as Godfrey
would take pity on her condition, and permit some of his captains to aid
the secret wishes of her people, and seat her on the throne. Ten selected
chiefs would overcome, she said, all opposition; and she promised in
return to become his grateful and faithful vassal.

The leader of the Christian army sat a while in deliberation. His heart
was inclined to befriend the lady, but his prudence was afraid of a Pagan
artifice. He thought also that it did not become his piety to turn aside
from the enterprise which God had favoured. He therefore gave her a
gentle refusal; but added, that should success attend him, and Jerusalem
be taken, he would instantly do what she required.

Armida looked down, and wept. A mixture of indignation and despair
appeared to seize her; and exclaiming that she had no longer a wish to
live, she accused, she said, not a heart so renowned for generosity as
his, but Heaven itself which had steeled it against her. What was she to
do? She could not remain in his camp. Virgin modesty forbade that. She
was not safe out of its bounds. Her enemies tracked her steps. It was fit
that she should die by her own hand.

An indignant pity took possession of the French officers. They wondered
how Godfrey could resist the prayers of a creature so beautiful; and
Eustace openly, though respectfully, remonstrated. He said, that if ten
of the best of his captains could not be spared, ten others might;
that it especially became the Christians to redress the wrongs of the
innocent; that the death of a tyrant, instead of being a deviation from
the service of God, was one of the directest means of performing it; and
that France would never endure to hear, that a lady had applied to her
knights for assistance, and found her suit refused.

A murmur of approbation followed the words of Eustace. His companions
pressed nearer to the general, and warmly urged his request.

Godfrey assented to a wish expressed by so many, but not with perfect
goodwill. He bade them remember, that the measure was the result of their
own opinion, not his; and concluded by requesting them at all events, for
his sake, to moderate the excess of their confidence. The transported
warriors had scarcely any answer to make but that of congratulations to
the lady. She, on her side, while mischief was rejoicing in her heart,
first expressed her gratitude to all in words intermixed with smiles and
tears, and then carried herself towards every one in particular in the
manner which she thought most fitted to ensnare. She behaved to this
person with cordiality, to that with comparative reserve; to one with
phrases only, to another with looks besides, and intimations of secret
preference. The ardour of some she repressed, but still in a manner to
rekindle it. To others she was all gaiety and attraction; and when others
again had their eyes upon her, she would fall into fits of absence, and
shed tears, as if in secret, and then look up suddenly and laugh, and put
on a cheerful patience. And thus she drew them all into her net.

Yet none of all these men confessed that passion impelled them; every
body laid his enthusiasm to the account of honour--Eustace particularly,
because he was most in love. He was also very jealous, especially of the
heroical Rinaldo, Prince of Este; and as the squadron of horse to which
they both belonged--the greatest in the army--had lately been deprived of
its chief, Eustace cast in his mind how he might keep Rinaldo from going
with Armida, and at the same time secure his own attendance on her, by
advancing him to the vacant post. He offered his services to Rinaldo for
the purpose, not without such emotion as let the hero into his secret;
but as the latter had no desire to wait on the lady, he smilingly
assented, agreeing at the same time to assist the wishes of the lover.
The emissaries of Satan, however, were at work in all quarters. If
Eustace was jealous of Rinaldo as a rival in love, Gernando, Prince of
Norway, another of the squadron that had lost its chief, was no less
so of his gallantry in war, and of his qualifications for being his
commander. Gernando was a haughty barbarian, who thought that every sort
of pre-eminence was confined to princes of blood royal. He heard of
the proposal of Eustace with a disgust that broke into the unworthiest
expressions. He even vented it in public, in the open part of the camp,
when Rinaldo was standing at no great distance; and the words coming to
the hero's ears, and breaking down the tranquillity of his contempt,
the latter darted towards him, sword in hand, and defied him to single
combat. Gernando beheld death before him, but made a show of valour, and
stood on his defence. A thousand swords leaped forth to back him, mixed
with as many voices; and half the camp of Godfrey tried to withhold the
impetuous youth who was for deciding his quarrel without the general's
leave. But the hero's transport was not to be stopped; he dashed through
them all, forced the Norwegian to encounter him, and after a storm of
blows that dazzled the man's eyes and took away his senses, ran his sword
thrice through the prince's body. He then sent the blade into its sheath
reeking as it was, and, taking his way back to his tent, reposed in the
calmness of his triumph.

The victor had scarcely gone, when the general arrived on the ground. He
beheld the slain Prince of Norway with acute feelings of regret. What was
to become of his army, if the leaders thus quarrelled among themselves,
and his authority was set at nought? The friends of the slain man
increased his anger against Rinaldo, by charging him with all the blame
of the catastrophe. The hero's friend, Tancred, assuaged it somewhat by
disclosing the truth, and then ventured to ask pardon for the outbreak.
But the wise commander skewed so many reasons why such an offence could
not be overlooked, and his countenance expressed such a determination to
resent it, that the gallant youth hastened secretly to his friend, and
urged him to quit the camp till his services should be needed. Rinaldo at
first called for his arms, and was bent on resisting every body who came
to seize him, had it been even Godfrey himself; but Tancred shewing
him how unjust that would be, and how fatal to the Christian cause, he
consented with an ill grace to depart. He would take nobody with him but
two squires; and he went away raging with a sense of ill requital for
his achievements, but resolving to prove their value by destroying every
infidel prince that he could encounter.

Armida now tried in vain to make an impression on the heart of Godfrey.
He was insensible to all her devices; but she succeeded in quitting the
camp with her ten champions. Lots were drawn to determine who should go;
and all who failed to be in the list--Eustace among them--were so jealous
of the rest, that at night-time, after the others had been long on
the road, they set out to overtake them, each by himself, and all in
violation of their soldierly words. The ten opposed them as they came up,
but to no purpose. Armida reconciled them all in appearance, by feigning
to be devoted to each in secret; and thus she rode on with them many a
mile, till she came to a castle on the Dead Sea, where she was accustomed
to practise her unfriendliest arts.

Meanwhile news came to Godfrey that his Egyptian enemies were at hand
with a great fleet, and that his caravan of provisions had been taken by
the robbers of the desert. His army was thus threatened with ruin from
desertion, starvation, and the sword. He maintained a calm and even a
cheerful countenance; but in his thoughts he had great anxiety.

Part the Second.


The castle to which Armida took her prisoners occupied an island close to
the shore in the loathsome Dead Sea. They entered it by means of a narrow
bridge; but if their pity had been great at seeing her forced to take
refuge in a spot so desolate and repulsive, how pleasingly was it changed
into as great a surprise at finding a totally different region within the
walls! The gardens were extensive and lovely; the rivulets and fountains
as sweet as the flowery thickets they watered; the breezes refreshing,
the skies of a sapphire blue, and the birds were singing round about them
in the trees. Her riches astonished them no less. The side of the castle
that looked on the gardens was all marble and gold; a banquet awaited
them beside a water on a shady lawn, consisting of the exquisitest viands
on the costliest plate; and a hundred beautiful maidens attended them
while they feasted. The enchantress was all smiles and delight; and such
was her art, that although she bestowed no favour on any body beyond his
banquet and his hopes, every body thought himself the favoured lover.

But no sooner was the feast over, than the greatest and worst of their
astonishments ensued. The lady quitted them, saying she should return
presently. She did so with a troubled and unfriendly countenance, having
a book in one hand, and a little wand in the other. She read in the book
in a low voice, and while she was reading shook the little wand; and the
guests, altering in every part of their being, and shrinking into minute
bodies, felt an inclination, which they obeyed, to plunge into the water
beside them. They were fish. In a little while they were again men,
looking her in the face with dread and amazement. She had restored them
to their humanity. She regarded them with a severe countenance, and said
"You have tasted my power; I can exercise it far more terribly--can put
you in dungeons for ever--can turn you to roots in the ground--to flints
within the rock. Beware of my wrath, and please me; quit your faiths for
mine, and fight against the blasphemer Godfrey."

Every Christian but one rejected her alternative with abhorrence. Him she
made one of her champions; the rest were tied and bound, and after being
kept a while in a dungeon were sent off as a present to the King of
Egypt, with an escort that came from Damascus to fetch them.

Exulting was left the fair and bigoted magician; but she little guessed
what a new fortune awaited them on the road. The discord with which the
powers of evil had seconded her endeavours to weaken the Christian camp,
had turned in this instance against herself. It had made Rinaldo a
wanderer; it had brought his wanderings into this very path; and he now
met the prisoners, and bade defiance to the escort. A battle ensued, in
which the hero won his accustomed victory. The Christians, receiving the
armour of their foes, joyfully took their way back to the camp; and one
of the escort, who escaped the slaughter, returned to Armida with news of
the deliverance of her captives.

The mortified enchantress took horse and went in pursuit of Rinaldo, with
wrath and vengeance in her heart. She tracked him from place to place,
till she knew he must arrive on the banks of the Orontes; and there,
making a stealthy circuit, she cast a spell, and lay in wait for him in a
little island which divided the stream in two.[3]

Rinaldo came up with his squires; he beheld on the bank a pillar of white
marble, and beside it on the water a little boat. The pillar presented
an inscription, inviting travellers to cross to the island and behold a
wonder of the world. The hero accepted the invitation; but as the boat
was too small to hold more than one person, and the circumstance probably
an appeal to his courage, he bade his squires wait for him, and proceeded
by himself.

On reaching the island and casting his eyes eagerly round about, the
adventurer could discern nothing but trees and grottos, flowers and
grass, and water. He thought himself trifled with; but as the spot was
beautiful and refreshing, he took off his helmet, resolving to stay a
little and repose. He crossed to the farther side of the island, and lay
down on the river-side. On a sudden he observed the water bubble and
gurgle in a manner that was very strange; and presently the top of a head
arose with beautiful hair, then the face of a damsel, then the bosom.
The fair creature stood half out of the stream, and warbled a song so
luxurious and so lulling, that the little wind there was seemed to
fall in order to listen; and the young warrior was so drowsed with the
sweetness, that languor crept through all his senses, and he slept.
Armida came from out a thicket and looked on him. She had resolved that
he should perish. But when she saw how placidly he breathed, and what an
intimation of beautiful eyes there was in his very eyelids, she hung over
him, still looking.

In a little while she sat down by his side, always looking. She hung over
him as Narcissus did over the water, and indignation melted out of her
heart. She cooled his face with her veil; she made a fan of it; she gave
herself up to the worship of those hidden eyes. Of an enemy she became a

Armida gathered trails of roses and lilies from the thickets around her,
and cast a spell on them, and made bands with which she fettered his
sleeping limbs; and then she called her nymphs, and they put him into her
ear, and she went away with him through the air far off, even to one of
the Fortunate Islands in the great ocean, where her jealousy, assisted by
her art, would be in dread of no visitors, no discovery. She bore him to
the top of a mountain, and cast a spell about the mountain, to make the
top lovely and the sides inaccessible. She put shapes of wild beasts
and monsters in the woods of the lowest region, and heaps of ice in the
second, and alluring and betraying shapes and enchantments towards the
summit; and round the summit she put walls and labyrinths of inextricable
error; and in the heart of these was a palace by a lake, and the
loveliest of gardens.

Mere Rinaldo was awaked by love and beauty; and here for the present he
is left.

Part the Third.


Meantime the siege of the Holy City had gone on, with various success on
either side, but chiefly to the loss of the Christians. The machinations
of Satan were prevailing. Rinaldo, in his absence, was thought to have
been slain by the contrivance of Godfrey, which nearly produced a revolt
of the forces. Godfrey was himself wounded in battle by Clorinda: and now
the great wooden tower was burnt, and Clorinda slain in consequence (as
you have heard in another place), which oppressed the courage of Tancred
with melancholy.

On the other hand, the Powers of Evil were far from being as prosperous
as they wished. They had lost the soul of Clorinda. They had seen Godfrey
healed by a secret messenger from Heaven, who dropt celestial balsam
into his wound. They had seen the return of Armida's prisoners, who had
arrived just in time to change the fortune of a battle, and drive the
Pagans back within their walls. And worse than all, they had again felt
the arm of St. Michael, who had threatened them with worse consequences
if they reappeared in the contest.

The fiends, however, had colleagues on earth, who plotted for them
meanwhile. The Christians had set about making another tower; but in
this proceeding they were thwarted by the enchanter Ismeno, who cast his
spells to better purpose this time than he had done in the affair of the
stolen image. The forest in which the Christians obtained wood for these
engines lay in a solitary valley, not far from the camp. It was very old,
dark, and intricate; and had already an evil fame as the haunt of impure
spirits. No shepherd ever took his flock there; no Pagan would cut a
bough from it; no traveller approached it, unless he had lost his way:
he made a large circuit to avoid it, and pointed it out anxiously to his

The necessity of the Christians compelled them to defy this evil repute
of the forest; and Ismeno hastened to oppose them. He drew his line, and
uttered his incantations, and called on the spirits whom St. Michael had
rebuked, bidding them come and take charge of the forest--every one of
his tree, as a soul of its body. The spirits delayed at first, not only
for dread of the great angel, but because they resented the biddings of
mortality, even in their own cause. The magician, however, persisted; and
his spells becoming too powerful to be withstood, presently they came
pouring in by myriads, occupying the whole place, and rendering the very
approach to it a task of fear and labour. The first party of men that
came to cut wood were unable to advance when they beheld the trees, but
turned like children, and became the mockery of the camp. Godfrey sent
them back, with a chosen squadron to animate them to the work; but the
squadron themselves, however boldly they affected to proceed, lead no
sooner approached the spot, than they found reason to forgive the fears
of the woodcutters. The earth shook; a great wind began rising, with a
sound of waters; and presently, every dreadful noise ever heard by man
seemed mingled into one, and advancing to meet them--roarings of lions,
hissings of serpents, pealings and rolls of thunder. The squadron went
back to Godfrey, and plainly confessed that it had not courage enough to
enter such a place.

A leader, of the name of Alcasto, shook his head at this candour with a
contemptuous smile. He was a man of the stupider sort of courage, without
mind enough to conceive danger. "Pretty soldiers," exclaimed he, "to be
afraid of noises and sights! Give the duty to me. Nothing shall stop
Alcasto, though the place be the mouth of hell."

Alcasto went; and he went farther than the rest, and the trembling
woodcutters once more prepared their axes; but, on a sudden, there sprang
up between them and the trees a wall of fire which girded the whole
forest. It had glowing battlements and towers; and on these there
appeared armed spirits, with the strangest and most bewildering aspects.
Alcasto retired--slowly indeed, but with shame and terror; nor had he the
courage to re-appear before his commander. Godfrey had him brought, but
could hardly get a word from his lips. The man talked like one in a

At last Tancred went. He would have, gone before; but he had neither
thought the task so difficult, nor did he care for any thing that was
going forward. His mind was occupied with the dead Clorinda. He had now
work that aroused him; and he set out in good earnest for the forest, not
unmoved in his imagination, but resolved to defy all appearances.

Arrived at the wall of fire, Tancred halted a moment, and looked up at
the visages on its battlements, not without alarm. Many reflections
passed swiftly through his mind, some urging him forward, others
withholding; but he concluded with stepping right through the fire. It
did not resist him: he did not feel it.

The fire vanished; and, in its stead, there poured down a storm of hail
and rain, black as midnight. This vanished also.

Tancred stood amazed for an instant, and then passed on. He was soon in
the thick of the wood, and for some time made his way with difficulty. On
a sudden, he issued forth into a large open glade, like an amphitheatre,
in which there was nothing but a cypress-tree that stood in the middle.
The cypress was marked with hieroglyphical characters, mixed with some
words in the Syrian tongue which he could read; and these words requested
the stranger to spare the fated place, nor trouble the departed souls who
were there shut up in the trees. Meantime the wind was constantly moaning
around it; and in the moaning was a sound of human sighs and tears.

Tancred's heart, for a moment, was overcome with awe and pity; but
recollecting himself, and resolving to make amends for his credulity,
he smote with all his might at the cypress. The blow, wonderful to see,
produced an effusion of blood, which dyed the grass about the root.
Tancred's hair stood on end. He smote, however, again, with double
violence, resolving to see the end of the marvel; and then he heard a
woful voice issuing as from a tomb.

"Hast thou not hurt me," it said, "Tancred, enough already? Hast thou
slain the human body which I once joyfully inhabited; and now must thou
cut and rend me, even in this wretched enclosure? My name was Clorinda.
Every tree which thou beholdest is the habitation of some Christian or
Pagan soul; for all come hither that are slain beneath the walls of the
city, compelled by I know not what power, or for what reason. Every bough
in the forest is alive; and when thou cuttest down a tree, thou slayest a

As a sick man in a dream thinks, and yet thinks not, that he sees some
dreadful monster, and, notwithstanding his doubt, wishes to fly from the
horrible perplexity; so the trembling lover, though suspecting what he
beheld, had so frightful an image before his thoughts of Clorinda weeping
and wailing after death, and bleeding in her very soul, that he had
not the heart to do more, or to remain in the place. He returned in
bewildered sorrow to Godfrey, and told him all. "It is not in my power,"
he said, "to touch another bough of that forest."[5]

The astonished leader of the Christians now made up his mind to go
himself; and so, with prayer and valour united, bring this appalling
adventure to some conclusion. But the hermit Peter dissuaded him. The
holy man, in an ecstacy of foreknowledge, beheld the coming of the only
champion fated to conclude it; and Godfrey himself the same night had a
vision from heaven, bidding him grant the petition of those who should
sue him next day for the recall of Rinaldo from exile--Rinaldo, the right
hand of the army, as Godfrey was its head.

The petition was made as soon as daylight appeared; and two knights,
Carlo and Ubaldo, were despatched in search of the fated hero.

Part the Fourth


The knights, with information procured on the road from a good wizard,
struck off for the sea-coast, and embarking in a pinnace which
miraculously awaited them, sailed along the shores of the Mediterranean
for the retreat of Armida. They saw the Egyptian army assembled at Gaza,
but hoped to return with Rinaldo before it could effect anything at
Jerusalem. They passed the mouths of the Nile, and Alexandria, and
Cyrene, and Ptolemais, and the cities of the Moors, and the dangers of
the Greater and Lesser Whirlpools, and their pilot showed them the spot
where Carthage stood,--Carthage, now a dead city, whose grave is scarcely
discernible. For cities die; kingdoms die;--a little sand and grass
covers all that was once lofty in them and glorious. And yet man,
forsooth, disdains that he is mortal! Oh, mind of ours, inordinate and

After looking towards the site of Carthage, they passed Algiers, and
Oran, and Tingitana, and beheld the opposite coast of Spain, and
then they cleared the narrow sea of Gibraltar, and came out into the
immeasurable ocean, leaving all sight of land behind them; and so
speeding ever onward in the billows, they beheld at last a cluster of
mountainous and beautiful islands; the larger ones inhabited by a simple
people, the smaller quite wild and desolate. So at least they appeared.
But in one of these smaller islands was the mountain, on the top of
which, in the indulgence of every lawless pleasure, lay the champion of
the Christian faith. This the pilot shewed to the two knights, and then
steered the pinnace into its bay; and here, after a voyage of four days
and nights, it dropped its sails without need of anchor, so mild and
sheltered was the port, with natural moles curving towards the entrance,
and evergreen woods overhead.

It was evening, with a beautiful sunset. The knights took leave of the
pilot, and setting out instantly on their journey, well furnished with
all advices how to proceed, slept that night at the foot of the mountain;
for they were not to begin to scale it till sunrise. With the first beams
of the sun they arose and ascended. They had not climbed far, when a
serpent rushed out upon the path, entirely stopping it, but fled at the
sound of a slender rod, which Ubaldo whisked as he advanced. A lion, for
all his cavernous jaws, did the same; nor was greater resistance made by
a whole herd of monsters. They now mounted with great labour the region
of ice and snow; but, at the top of it, emerged from winter-time into
summer. The air was full of sweet odours, yet fresh; they sauntered (for
they could not walk fast) over a velvet sward, under trees, by the side
of a shady river; and a bewitching pleasure began to invite their senses.
But they knew the river, and bore in mind their duty. It was called the
River of Laughter.[7] A little way on, increasing in beauty as it went,
it formed a lucid pool in a dell; and by the side of this pool was a
table spread with every delicacy, and in the midst of it two bathing
damsels, talking and laughing. Sometimes they sprinkled one another, then
dived, then partly came up without spewing their faces, then played a
hundred tricks, pretending all the while not to see the travellers. Then
they became quiet, and sunk gently; and, as they reappeared, one of them
rose half into sight, sweetly as the morning star when it issues from the
water, dewy and dropping, or as Venus herself arose out of the froth of
the sea. Such looked this damsel, and so did the crystal moisture
go dropping from her tresses. Then she turned her eyes towards the
travellers, and feigning to behold them for the first time, shrunk within
herself. She hastened to undo the knot in which her tresses were tied up,
and shook them round about her, and down they fell to the water thick and
long, enclosing that beautiful sight; and yet the enclosure itself was
not less beautiful. So, hid in the pool below, and in her tresses above,
she glanced at the knights through her hair, with a blushing gladness.
She blushed and she laughed at the same time; and the blushing was more
beautiful for the laughter, and the laughter for the blushing; and then
she said, in a voice which would alone have conquered any other hearers,
"You are very happy to be allowed to come to this place. Nothing but
delight is here. Our queen must have chosen you from a great number. But
be pleased first to rid you of the dust of your journey, and to refresh
yourselves at this table."

So spake the one; and the other accompanied her speech with accordant
looks and gestures, as the dance accompanies the music.

Nor was the allurement unfelt.

But the companions passed on, taking no notice; and the bathers went
sullenly under the water.[8]

The knights passed through the gates of the park of Armida, and entered a
labyrinth made with contrivance the most intricate. Here their path would
have been lost, but for a map traced by one who knew the secret. By
the help of this they threaded it in safety, and issued upon a garden
beautiful beyond conception. Every thing that could be desired in
gardens was presented to their eyes in one landscape, and yet without
contradiction or confusion,--flowers, fruits, water, sunny hills,
descending woods, retreats into corners and grottos: and what put the
last loveliness upon the scene was, that the art which did it all was no
where discernible.[9] You might have supposed (so exquisitely was the
wild and the cultivated united) that all had somehow happened, not been
contrived. It seemed to be the art of Nature herself; as though, in a fit
of playfulness, she had imitated her imitator. But the temperature of the
place, if nothing else, was plainly the work of magic, for blossoms and
fruit abounded at the same time. The ripe and the budding fig grew on the
same bough; green apples were clustered upon those with red cheeks; the
vines in one place had small leaves and hard little grapes, and in the
next they laid forth their richest tapestry in the sun, heavy with
bunches full of wine. At one time you listened to the warbling of birds;
and a minute after, as if they had stopped on purpose, nothing was heard
but the whispering of winds and the fall of waters. It seemed as if every
thing in the place contributed to the harmony and the sweetness. The
notes of the turtle-dove were deeper here than any where else; the hard
oak, and the chaste laurel, and the whole exuberant family of trees,
the earth, the water, every element of creation, seemed to have been
compounded but for one object, and to breathe forth the fulness of its

The two messengers, hardening their souls with all their might against
the enchanting impression, moved forward silently among the trees; till,
looking through the branches into a little opening which formed a bower,
they saw--or did they but think they saw?--no, they saw indeed the hero
and his Armida reclining on the grass.[11] Her dress was careless,
her hair loose in the summer-wind. His head lay in her bosom; a smile
trembled on her lips and in her eyes, like a sunbeam in water; and as she
thus looked on him with passionate love, he looked up at her, face to
face, and returned it with all his soul.

Now she kissed his lips, now his eyes; and then they looked again at one
another with their ever-hungry looks; and then she kissed him again, and
he gave a sigh so deep you would have thought his soul had gone out of
him, and passed into hers. The two warriors from their covert gazed on
the loving scene.

At the lover's side there hung a strange accoutrement for a warrior,
namely, a crystal mirror. He rose a little on his elbow, and gave it into
Armida's hands: and in two different objects each beheld but one emotion,
she hers in the glass, and he his own in her eyes. But he would not
suffer her to look long at any thing but himself; and then they spake
loving and adoring words; and after a while Armida bound up her hair, and
put some flowers into it, as jewels might be put upon gold, and added a
rose or two to the lilies of her bosom, and adjusted her veil. And never
did peacock look so proudly beautiful when he displays the pomp of his
eyed plumes; nor was ever the rainbow so sweetly coloured when it curves
forth its dewy bosom against the light.[12] But lovely above all was the
effect of a magic girdle which the enchantress had made with her whole
art, and which she never laid aside day or night. Spirit in it had taken
substance; the subtlest emotions of the soul a shape and palpability.
Tender disdains were in it, and repulses that attracted, and levities
that endeared, and contentments full of joy, and smiles, and little
words, and drops of delicious tears, and short-coming sighs, and soft
kisses. All these she had mingled together, and made one delight out
of many, and wound it about her heart, and wore it for a charm

And now she kissed him once more, and begged leave of a little absence
(for love is courteous ever), and so went as usual to her books and her
magic arts. Rinaldo remained where he was, for he had no power to wish
himself out of the sweet spot; only he would stray a while among the
trees, and amuse himself with the birds and squirrels, and so be a loving
hermit till she returned. And at night they retired under one roof, still
in the midst of the garden.

But no sooner had Armida gone, than the two warriors issued from their
hiding-place, and stood before the lover, glittering in their noble arms.

As a war-horse, that has been taken from the wars, and become the
luxurious husband of the stud, wanders among the drove in the meadows in
vile enjoyment; should by chance a trumpet be heard in the place, or a
dazzling battle-axe become visible, he turns towards it on the instant,
and neighs, and longs to be in the lists, and vehemently desires the
rider on his back who is to dash and be dashed at in the encounter;--even
so turned the young hero when the light of the armour flashed upon him,
even so longed for the war, even so shook himself up out of his bed of
pleasure, with all his great qualities awaked and eager.

Ubaldo saw the movement in his heart, and held right in his face the
shield of adamant, which had been brought for the purpose. It was a
mirror that shewed to the eyes of every one who looked into it the very
man as he was.

But when Rinaldo beheld himself indeed,--when he read his transformation,
not in the flattering glass of the enchantress, but by the light of
this true, and simple, and severe reflector,--his hair tricked out with
flowers and unguents, his soft mantle of exquisitest dye, and his very
sword rendered undistinguishable for what it was by a garland,--shame and
remorse fell upon him. He felt indeed like a dreamer come to himself. He
looked down. He could not speak. He wished to hide himself in the bottom
of the sea.

Ubaldo raised his voice and spoke. "All Europe and Asia," said he, "are
in arms. Whoever desires fame, or is a worshipper of his Saviour, is a
fighter in the land of Syria. Thou only, O son of Bertoldo, remainest
out of the high way of renown--in luxury--in a little corner; thou only,
unmoved with the movement of the world, the champion of a girl. What
dream, what lethargy can have drowned a valour like thine? What vileness
have had attraction for thee? Up, up, and with us. The camp, the
commander himself calls for thee; fortune and victory await thee. Come,
fated warrior, and finish thy work; see the false creed which thou hast
shaken, laid low beneath thy inevitable sword."

On hearing these words the noble youth remained for a time without
speaking, without moving. At length shame gave way to a passionate sense
of his duty. With a new fire in his cheeks, he tore away the effeminate
ornaments of his servitude, and quitted the spot without a word. In a few
moments he had threaded the labyrinth: he was outside the gate. Ere long
he was descending the mountain.

But meantime Armida had received news of the two visitors; and coming to
look for them, and casting her eyes down the steep, she beheld--with his
face, alas, turned no longer towards her own--the hasty steps of her hero
between his companions. She wished to cry aloud, but was unable. She
might have resorted to some of her magic devices, but her heart forbade
her. She ran, however--for what cared she for dignity?--she ran down
the mountain, hoping still by her beauty and her tears to arrest the
fugitive; but his feet were too strong, even for love: she did not reach
him till he had arrived on the sea-shore. Where was her pride now? where
the scorn she had exhibited to so many suitors? where her coquetry and
her self-sufficiency--her love of being loved, with the power to hate the
lover? The enchantress was now taught what the passion was, in all its
despair as well as delight. She cried aloud. She cared not for the
presence of the messengers. "Oh, go not, Rinaldo," she cried; "go not, or
take me with thee. My heart is torn to pieces. Take me, or turn and kill
me. Stop, at least, and be cruel to me here. If thou hast the heart to
fly me, it will not be hard to thee to stay and be unkind."

Even the messengers were moved at this, or seemed to be moved. Ubaldo
told the fugitive that it would be heroical in him to wait and hear what
the lady had to say, with gentleness and firmness.

His conquest over himself would then be complete.

Rinaldo stopped, and Armida came up breathless and in tears--lovelier
than ever. She looked earnestly at him at first, without a word. He gave
her but a glance, and looked aside.

As a fine singer, before he lets loose his tongue in the lofty utterance
of his emotion, prepares the minds of his hearers with some sweet
prelude, exquisitely modulating in a lower tone,--so the enchantress,
whose anguish had not deprived her of all sense of her art, breathed a
few sighs to dispose the soul of her idol to listen, and then said: "I
do not beg thee to hear me as one that loves me. We both loved once; but
that is over. I beg thee to hear, even though as one that loves me not.
It will cost thy disdain nothing to grant me that. Perhaps thou hast
discovered a pleasure in hating me. Do so. I come not to deprive thee of
it. If it seem just to thee, just let it be. I too once hated. I hated
the Christians--hated even thyself. I thought it right to do so: I was
bred up to think it. I pursued thee to do thee mischief; I overtook thee;
I bore thee away; and worse than all--for now perhaps thou loathest me
for it--I loved thee. I loved thee, for the first time that I loved any
one; nay, I made thee love me in turn; and, alas, I gave myself into
thine arms. It was wrong. I was foolish; I was wicked. I grant that I
have deserved thou shouldst think ill of me, that thou shouldst punish
me, and quit me, and hate to have any remembrance of this place which I
had filled with delights. Go; pass over the seas; make war against my
friends and my country; destroy us all, and the religion we believe in.
Alas! _'we'_ do I say? The religion is mine no longer--O thou, the cruel
idol of my soul. Oh, let me go with thee, if it be but as thy servant,
thy slave. Let the conqueror take with him his captive; let her be
mocked; let her be pointed at; only let her be with thee. I will cut off
these tresses, which no longer please thee: I will clothe myself in other
attire, and go with thee into the battle. I have courage and strength
enough to bear thy lance, to lead thy spare-horse, to be, above all,
thy shield-bearer--thy shield. Nothing shall touch thee but through
me--through this bosom, Rinaldo. Perhaps mischance may spare thee for
its sake. Not a word? not a little word? Do I dare to boast of what thou
hadst once a kind word for, though now thou wilt neither look upon me nor
speak to me?"

She could say no more: her words were suffocated by a torrent of tears.
But she sought to take his hand, to arrest him by his mantle--in vain.
He could scarcely, it is true, restrain his tears: but he did. He looked
sorrowful, but composed; and at length he said: "Armida, would I could do
as thou wishest; but I cannot. I would relieve thee instantly of all this
tumult of emotion. No hate is there in him that must quit thee; no such
disdain as thou fanciest; nothing but the melancholy and impetuous sense
of his duty. Thou hast erred, it is true--erred both in love and hate;
but have I not erred with thee? and can I find excuse which is not found
for thyself? Dear and honoured ever wilt thou be with Rinaldo, whether in
joy or sorrow. Count me, if it please thee, thy champion still, as far as
my country and my faith permit; but here, in this spot, must be buried
all else--buried, not for my sake only, but for that of thy beauty, thy
worthiness, thy royal blood. Consent to disparage thyself no longer.
Peace be with thee. I go where I have no permission to take thee with me.
Be happy; be wise." While Rinaldo was speaking in this manner, Armida
changed colour; her bosom heaved; her eyes took a new kind of fire; scorn
rose upon her lip. When he finished, she looked at him with a bitterness
that rejected every word he had said; and then she exclaimed: "Thou hast
no such blood in thine own veins as thou canst fear to degrade. Thy
boasted descent is a fiction: base, and brutish, and insensible was thy
stock. What being of gentle blood could quit a love like mine without
even a tear--a sigh? What but the mockery of a man could call me his, and
yet leave me? vouchsafe me his pardon, as if I had offended him? excuse
my guilt and my tenderness; he, the sage of virtue, and me, the wretch! O
God! and these are the men that take upon them to slaughter the innocent,
and dictate faiths to the world! Go, hard heart, with such peace as thou
leavest in this bosom. Begone; take thine injustice from my sight for
ever. My spirit will follow thee, not as a help, but as a retribution.
I shall die first, and thou wilt die speedily: thou wilt perish in the
battle. Thou wilt lie expiring among the dead and bleeding, and wilt call
on Armida in thy last moments, and I shall hear it--yes, I shall hear it;
I shall look for that."

Down fell Armida on the ground, senseless; and Rinaldo stood over her,
weeping at last. Open thine eyes, poor wretch, and see him. Alas, the
heavens deny thee the consolation! What will he do? Will he leave thee
lying there betwixt dead and alive? Or will he go--pitying thee, but
still going? He goes; he is gone; he is in the bark, and the wind is in
the sail; and he looks back--ever back; but still goes: the shore begins
to be out of sight.

Armida woke, and was alone. She raved again, but it was for vengeance.
In a few days she was with the Egyptian army, a queen at the head of her
vassals, going against the Christians at Jerusalem.

Part the Fifth.


Rinaldo arrived without loss of time in the Christian camp before
Jerusalem. Every body rejoiced to see the right hand of the army. Godfrey
gladly pardoned him; the hermit Peter blessed him; he himself retired to
beg the forgiveness and favour of Heaven; and then he went straight to
the Enchanted Forest.

It was a beautiful morning, and the forest, instead of presenting its
usual terrors, appeared to him singularly tranquil and pleasing. On
entering it he heard, not dreadful thunder-claps, but harmonies made
up of all sorts of gentle and lovely sounds--brooks, whispering winds,
nightingales, organs, harps, human voices. He went slowly and cautiously,
and soon came to a beautiful river which encircled the heart of the wood.
A bridge of gold carried him over. He had no sooner crossed it, than the
river higher up suddenly swelled and rushed like a torrent, sweeping
the bridge away. The harmony meanwhile had become silent. Admiring, but
nothing daunted, the hero went on.

Every thing as he advanced appeared to start into fresh beauty. His steps
produced lilies and roses; here leaped up a fountain, and there came
falling a cascade; the wood itself seemed to grow young as with sudden
spring; and he again heard the music and the human voices, though he
could see no one.

Passing through the trees, he came into a glade in the heart of the wood,
in the centre of which he beheld a myrtle-tree, the largest and most
beautiful ever seen: it was taller than a cypress or palm, and seemed the
queen of the forest. Looking around him, he observed to his astonishment
an oak suddenly cleave itself open, and out of it there came a nymph. A
hundred other trees did the same, giving birth to as many nymphs. They
were all habited as we see them in theatres; only, instead of bows and
arrows, each held a lute or guitar. Coming towards the hero with joyful
eyes, they formed a circle about him, and danced; and in their dancing
they sang, and bade him welcome to the haunt of their mistress, their
loving mistress, of whom he was the only hope and joy. Looking as they
spoke towards the myrtle, Rinaldo looked also, and beheld, issuing out of

Armida came sweetly towards him, with a countenance at once grieving and
rejoicing, but expressing above all infinite affection. "And do I indeed
see thee again?" she said; "and wilt thou not fly me a second time? am
I visited to be consoled, or to be treated again as an enemy? is poor
Armida so formidable, that thou must needs close up thine helmet when
thou beholdest her? Thou mightest surely have vouchsafed her once more a
sight of thine eyes. Let us be friends, at least, if we may be nothing
more. Wilt thou not take her hand?"

Rinaldo's answer was, to turn away as from a cheat, to look towards the
myrtle-tree, to draw his sword, and proceed with manifest intentions of
assailing it. She ran before him shrieking, and hugged it round. "Nay,
thou wilt not," she said, "thou wilt not hurt my tree--not cut and slay
what is bound up with the life of Armida? Thy sword must pass first
through her bosom."

Armida writhed and wailed; Rinaldo nevertheless raised his sword, and it
was coming against the tree, when her shape, like a thing in a dream,
was metamorphosed as quick as lightning. It became a giant, a Briareus,
wielding a hundred swords, and speaking in a voice of thunder. Every
one of the nymphs at the same instant became a Cyclops; tempest and
earthquake ensued, and the air was full of ghastly spectres.

Rinaldo again raised his arm with a more vehement will; he struck, and
at the same instant every horror disappeared. The sky was cloudless; the
forest was neither terrible nor beautiful, but heavy and sombre as of
old--a natural gloomy wood, but no prodigy.

Rinaldo returned to the camp, his aspect that of a conqueror; the silver
wings of his crest, the white eagle, glittering in the sun. The hermit
Peter came forward to greet him; a shout was sent up by the whole camp;
Godfrey gave him high reception; nobody envied him. Workmen, no longer
trembling, were sent to the forest to cut wood for the machines of war;
and the tower was rebuilt, together with battering-rams and balistas, and
catapults, most of them an addition to what they had before. The tower
also was now clothed with bulls-hides, as a security against being set on
fire; and a bridge was added to the tower, from which the besiegers could
at once step on the city-walls.

With these long-desired invigorations of his strength, the commander of
the army lost no time in making a general assault on Jerusalem; for
a dove, supernaturally pursued by a falcon, had brought him letters
intended for the besieged, informing them, that if they could only hold
out four days longer, their Egyptian allies would be at hand. The Pagans
beheld with dismay the resuscitated tower, and all the new engines coming
against them. They fought valiantly; but Rinaldo and Godfrey prevailed.
The former was the first to scale the walls, the latter to plant his
standard from the bridge. The city was entered on all sides, and the
enemy driven, first into Solomon's Temple, and then into the Citadel, or
Tower of David. Before the assault, Godfrey had been vouchsafed a sight
of armies of angels in the air, accompanied by the souls of those who had
fallen before Jerusalem; the latter still fighting, the former rejoicing;
so that there was no longer doubt of triumph; only it still pleased
Heaven that human virtue should be tried.

And now, after farther exploits on both sides, the last day of the war,
and the last hope of the Infidels, arrived at the same time; for the
Egyptian army came up to give battle with the Christians, and to restore
Jerusalem, if possible, to its late owners, now cramped up in one corner
of it--the citadel. The besiegers in their narrow hold raised a shout of
joy at the sight; and Godfrey, leaving them to be detained in it by an
experienced captain, went forth to meet his new opponents. Crowns of
Africa and of Persia were there, and the king of the Indies; and in the
midst of all, in a chariot surrounded by her knights and suitors, was

The battle joined, and great was the bravery and the slaughter on both
sides. It seemed at first all glitter and gaiety--its streamers flying,
its arms flashing, drums and trumpets rejoicing, and horses rushing with
their horsemen as to the tournament. Horror looked beautiful in the
spectacle. Out of the midst of the dread itself there issued a delight.
But soon it was a bloody, and a turbulent, and a raging, and a groaning
thing:--pennons down, horses and men rolling over, foes heaped upon one
another, bright armour exchanged for blood and dirt, flesh trampled, and
spirit fatigued. Brave were the Pagans; but how could they stand against
Heaven? Godfrey ordered every thing calmly, like a divine mind; Rinaldo
swept down the fiercest multitudes, like an arm of God. The besieged in
the citadel broke forth, only to let the conquerors in. Jerusalem was won
before the battle was over. King after king fell, and yet the vanquished
did not fly. Rinaldo went every where to hasten the rout; and still had
to fight and slay on. Armida beheld him coming where she sat in the midst
of her knights; he saw her, and blushed a little: she turned as cold as
ice, then as hot as fire. Her anger was doubled by the slaughter of her
friends; and with her woman's hand she sent an arrow out of her bow,
hoping, and yet even then hoping not, to slay or to hurt him. The arrow
fell on him like a toy; and he turned aside, as she thought, in disdain.
Yet he disdained not to smite down her champions. Hope of every kind
deserted her. Resolving to die by herself in some lonely spot, she got
down from her chariot to horse, and fled out of the field. Rinaldo saw
the flight; and though one of the knights that remained to her struck him
such a blow as made him reel in his saddle, he despatched the man with
another like a thunderbolt, and then galloped after the fugitive.

Armida was in the act of putting a shaft to her bosom, in order to die
upon it, when her arm was arrested by a mighty grasp; and turning round,
she beheld with a shriek the beloved face of him who had caused the ruin
of her and hers. She closed her disdainful eyes and fainted away. Rinaldo
supported her; he loosened her girdle; he bathed her bosom and her
eyelids with his tears. Coming at length to herself, still she would
not look at him. She would fain not have been supported by him. She
endeavoured with her weak fingers to undo the strong ones that clasped
her; she wept bitterly, and at length spoke, but still without meeting
his eyes.

"And may I not," she said, "even die? must I be followed and tormented
even in my last moments? What mockery of a wish to save me is this! I
will not be watched; I believe not a syllable of such pity; and I will
not be made a sight of, and a by-word. I ask my life of thee no longer;
I want nothing but death; and death itself I would not receive at such
hands; they would render even that felicity hateful. Leave me. I could
not be hindered long from putting an end to my miseries, whatever
barbarous restraint might be put upon me. There are a thousand ways of
dying; and I will be neither hindered, nor deceived, nor flattered--oh,
never more!"

Weeping she spoke--weeping always, and sobbing, and full of wilful words.
But yet she felt all the time the arm that was round her.

"Armida," said Rinaldo, in a voice full of tenderness, "be calm, and know
me for what I am--no enemy, no conqueror, nothing that intends thee shame
or dishonour; but thy champion, thy restorer--he that will preserve thy
kingdom for thee, and seat thee in house and home. Look at me--look in
these eyes, and see if they speak false. And oh, would to Heaven thou
wouldst indeed be as I am in faith. There isn't a queen in all the East
should equal thee in glory."

His tears fell on her eyelids as he spoke--scalding tears; and she looked
at him, and her heart re-opened to its lord, all love and worship; and
Armida said, "Behold thy handmaid; dispose of her even as thou wilt."

And that same day Godfrey of Boulogne was lord of Jerusalem, and paid his
vows on the sepulchre of his Master.

[Footnote 1:

  "Chiama gli abitator' de l'ombre eterne
    Il rauco suon de la tartarea tromba.
  Treman le spaziose atre caverne,
    E l'aer cieco a quel romor rimbomba.
  Nè sì stridendo mai da le superne
    Regioni del cielo il folgor piomba:
  Nè sì scossa già mai trema la terra,
  Quando i vapori in sen gravida serra."
                                               Canto iv. st. 3.

  The trump of Tartarus, with iron roar,
    Called to the dwellers the black regions under:
  Hell through its caverns trembled to the core,
    And the blind air rebellowed to the thunder:
  Never yet fiery bolt more fiercely tore
    The crashing firmament, like rocks, asunder;
  Nor with so huge a shudder earth's foundations
  Shook to their mighty heart, lifting the nations.

The tone of this stanza (suggested otherwise by Vida) was caught from a
fine one in Politian, the passage in which about the Nile I ought to have
called to mind at page 168.

  "Con tal romor, qualor l'aer discorda,
    Di Giove il foco d'alta nube piomba:
  Con tal tumulto, onde la gente assorda,
    Da l'alte cataratte il Nil rimbomba:
  Con tal orror del Latin sangue ingorda
    Sonò Megera la tartarea tromba."

_Fragment on the Jousting of Giuliano de' Medici_.

  Such is the noise, when through his cloudy floor
    The bolt of Jove falls on the pale world under;
  So shakes the land, where Nile with deafening roar
    Plunges his clattering cataracts in thunder;
  Horribly so, through Latium's realm of yore,
    The trump of Tartarus blew ghastly wonder.]

[Footnote 2:

  "La bella Armida, di sua forma altiera,
    E de' doni del sesso e de l'etate,
  L' impresa prende: e in su la prima sera
    Parte, e tiene sol vie chiuse e celate:
  E 'n treccia e 'n gonna femminile spera
    Vincer popoli invitti e schiere armate."
                                          Canto iv. st. 27.]

[Footnote 3:

  "That sweet grove
  Of Daphne by Orontes."
_Parad. Lost_, b. iv.

It was famous for the most luxurious worship of antiquity. Vide Gibbon,
vol. iii. p. 198.]

[Footnote 4: I omit a point about "fires" of love, and "ices" of the
heart; and I will here observe, once for all, that I omit many such in
these versions of Tasso, for the reason given in the Preface.]

[Footnote 5: In the original, an impetuous gust of wind carries away the
sword of Tancred; a circumstance which I mention because Collins admired
it (see his Ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands). I confess I
cannot do so. It seems to me quite superfluous; and when the reader
finds the sword conveniently lying for the hero outside the wood, as he
returns, the effect is childish and pantomimic. If the magician wished
him not to fight any more, why should he give him the sword back? And if
it was meant as a present to him from Clorinda, what gave her the
power to make the present? Tasso retained both the particulars in the
_Gerusalemme Conquistata_.]

[Footnote 6:

  "Giace l'alta Cartago: appena i segni
     De l'alte sue ruine il lido serba.

  Muoiono le città: muoiono i regni:
    Copre i fasti e le pompe arena ed erba:
  E l'uom d'esser mortal par che si sdegni.
    Oh nostra mente cupida e superba!"

                                        Canto xv. st. 20.

  Great Carthage is laid low. Scarcely can eye
    Trace where she stood with all her mighty crowd
  For cities die; kingdoms and nations die;
    A little sand and grass is all their shroud;
  Yet mortal man disdains mortality!
    O mind of ours, inordinate and proud!

Very fine is this stanza of Tasso; and yet, like some of the finest
writing of Gray, it is scarcely more than a cento. The commentators call
it a "beautiful imitation" of a passage in Sannazzaro; and it is; but the
passage in Sannazzaro is also beautiful. It contains not only the "Giace
Cartago," and the "appena i segni," &c., but the contrast of the pride
with the mortality of man, and, above all, the "dying" of the cities,
which is the finest thing in the stanza of its imitator.

                     "Qua devictae Carthaginis arces
  Procubuere, jacentque infausto in littore turres
  Eversae; quantum ille metus, quantum illa laborum
  Urbs dedit insultans Latio et Laurentibus arvis!
  Nunc passim vix reliquias, vix nomina servans,
  Obruitur propriis non agnoscenda ruinis.
  Et querimur genus infelix, humana labare
  Membra aevo, cum regna palam moriantur et urbes."

                                             _De Partu Virginis_, lib. ii.

The commentators trace the conclusion of this passage to Dante, where he
says that it is no wonder families perish, when cities themselves "have
their terminations" (termin hanuo): but though there is a like germ of
thought in Dante, the mournful flower of it, the word "death," is not
there. It was evidently suggested by a passage (also pointed out by the
commentators) in the consolatory letter of Sulpicius to Cicero, on the
death of his daughter Tullia;--"Heu nos homunculi indignamur, si quis
nostrum interiit, aut occisus est, quorum vita brevior esse debet, cum
uno loco tot oppidorum cadavera projecta jaceant." (Alas! we poor human
creatures are indignant if any one of us dies or is slain, frail as are
the materials of which we are constituted; and yet we can see, lying
together in one place, the dead bodies of I know not how many cities!)
The music of Tasso's line was indebted to one in Petrarch's _Trionfo del
Tempo, v. 112

  _" Passan le signorie, passano i regni;"

and the fine concluding verse, "Oh nostra mente," to another perhaps
in his _Trionfo della Divinità, v. 61_, not without a recollection of
Lucretius, lib. ii. v. 14:

  "O miseras hominum menteis! o pectora caeca!"]

[Footnote 7: A fountain which caused laughter that killed people is in
Pomponius Mela's account of the Fortunate Islands; and was the origin of
that of Boiardo; as I ought to have noticed in the place.]

[Footnote 8: All this description of the females bathing is in the
highest taste of the voluptuous; particularly the latter part:

  "Qual mattutina stella esce de l'onde
    Rugiadosa e stillante: o come fuore
  Spuntò nascendo già da le feconde
    Spume de l'ocean la Dea d'Amore:
  Tale apparve costei: tal le sue bionde
    Chiome stillavan cristallino umore.
  Poi girò gli occhi, e pur allor s'infinse
  Que' duo vedere, e in se tutta si strinse:

  E 'l crin the 'n cima al capo avea raccolto
    In un sol nodo, immantinente sciolse;
  Che lunghissimo in giù cadendo, e folto,
    D'un aureo manto i molli avori involse.
  Oh che vago spettacolo è lor tolto!
    Ma mon men vago fu chi loro il tolse.
  Così da l'acque e da capelli ascosa,
  A lor si volse, lieta e vergognosa.

  Rideva insieme, e insieme ella arrossia;
    Ed era nel rossor più bello il riso,
  E nel riso il rossor, the le copria
    Insino al mento il delicato viso."
                                         Canto xv. st. 60.

Spenser, among the other obligations which it delighted him to owe to
this part of Tasso's poem, has translated these last twelve lines:

  "With that the other likewise up arose,
  And her fair locks, which formerly were bound
  Up in one knot, she low adown did loose,
  Which, flowing long and thick, her cloth'd around,
  And th' ivory in golden mantle gown'd:
  So that fair spectacle from him was reft;
  Yet that which reft it, no less fair was found.
     So hid in locks and waves from looker's theft,
  Nought but her lovely face she for his looking left.

     Withal she laughèd, and she blush'd withal;
     That blushing to her laughter gave more grace,
     And laughter to her blushing."
                              Fairy Queen, book ii. canto 12, St. 67.

Tasso's translator, Fairfax, worthy both of his original and of Spenser,
has had the latter before him in his version of the passage, not without
a charming addition of his own at the close of the first stanza:

  "And her fair locks, that in a knot were tied
    High on her crown, she 'gan at large unfold;
  Which falling long and thick, and spreading wide,
    The ivory soft and white mantled in gold:
  Thus her fair skin the dame would clothe and hide;
    And that which hid it, no less fair was hold.
  Thus clad in waves and locks, her eyes divine
  From them ashamed would she turn and twine.

  Withal she smilèd, and she blush'd withal;
    Her blush her smiling, smiles her blushing graced."]

[Footnote 9:

  "E quel che 'l bello e 'l caro accresce a l'opre,
  L'arte, the tutto fa, nulla si scopre.

  Stimi (si misto il culto è col negletto)
    Sol naturali e gli ornamenti e i siti.
  Di natura arte par, the per diletto
    L'imitatrice sua scherzando imiti."

The idea of Nature imitating Art, and playfully imitating her, is in
Ovid; but that of a mixture of cultivation and wildness is, as far as I
am aware, Tasso's own. It gives him the honour of having been the first
to suggest the picturesque principle of modern gardening; as I ought
to have remembered, when assigning it to Spenser in a late publication
(_Imagination and Fancy, p. 109_). I should have noticed also, in the
same work, the obligations of Spenser to the Italian poet for the passage
before quoted about the nymph in the water.]

[Footnote 10:

  "Par che la dura quercia e 'l casto alloro,
    E tutta la frondosa ampia famiglia,
  Par the la terra e l'acqua e formi e spiri
  Dolcissimi d'amor sensi e sospiri."
                                          St. 16.

Fairfax in this passage is very graceful and happy (in the first part of
his stanza he is speaking of a bird that sings with a human voice--which
I have omitted):

  "She ceased: and as approving all she spoke,
    The choir of birds their heavenly tunes renew;
  The turtles sigh'd, and sighs with kisses broke;
    The fowls to shades unseen by pairs withdrew;
  It seem'd the laurel chaste and stubborn oak,
    And all the gentle trees on earth that grew,
  It seem'd the land, the sea, and heaven above,
  All breath'd out fancy sweet, and sigh'd out love."]

[Footnote 11:

  "Ecco tra fronde e fronde il guardo avante
  Penetra, e vede, o pargli di vedere,
  Vede per certo," &c.
                                                                   St. 17.]

[Footnote 12: The line about the peacock,

  "Spiega la pompa de l'occhiute piume,"
  Opens wide the pomp of his eyed plumes,

was such a favourite with Tasso, that he has repeated it from the
_Aminta_, and (I think) in some other place, but I cannot call it to

[Footnote 13:

 "Teneri sdegni, e placide e tranquille
    Repulse, e cari vezzi, e liete paci,
  Sorrisi, e parolette, e dolci stille
  Di pianto, e sospir' tronchi, e molli baci."      St. 5

This is the cestus in Homer, which Venus lends to Juno for the purpose of
enchanting Jupiter

Greek: N kai apo staethesphin elusato keston himanta
  Poikilon' entha de ohi thelktaeria panta tetukto'
  Enth' heni men philotaes, en d' himeras, en d' oaristus,
  Parphasis, hae t' eklepse noon puka per phroneonton.]

                                                     Iliad, lib. xiv. 214.

  She said; and from her balmy bosom loosed
  The girdle that contained all temptinguess--
  Love, and desire, and sweet and secret talk
  Lavish, which robs the wisest of their wits.]


       *       *       *       *       *

No. I.



  Orlando ed Agricane un' altra fiata
    Ripreso insieme avean crudel battaglia,
  La più terribil mai non fu mirata,
    L'arme l'un l'altro a pezzo a pezzo taglia.
  Vede Agrican sua gente sbarattata,
    Nè le può dar aiuto, che le vaglia.
  Però che Orlando tanto stretto il tiene,
  Che star con seco a fronte gli conviene.

  Nel suo segreto fè questo pensiero,
    Trar fuor di schiera quel Conte gagliardo;
  E poi Che ucciso l'abbia in su 'l sentiero,
    Tornare a la battaglia senza tardo;
  Però che a lui par facile e leggiero
    Cacciar soletto quel popol codardo;
  Chè tutti insieme, e 'l suo Re Galafrone,
  Non li stimava quanto un vil bottone.

  Con tal proposto si pone a fuggire,
    Forte correndo sopra la pianura;
  Il Conte nulla pensa a quel fallire,
    Anzi crede che 'l faccia per paura.
  Senz' altro dubbio se 'l pone a seguire,
    E già son giunti ad una selva scura
  Appunto in mezzo a quella selva piana,
  Era un bel prato intorno a una fontana.

  Fermossi ivi Agricane a quella fonte,
    E smontò de l'arcion per riposare,
  Ma non si tolse l'elmo da la fronte,
    Nè piastra, o scudo si volse levare;
  E poco dimorò, che giunse 'l Conte,
    E come il vide a la fonte aspettare,
  Dissegli: Cavalier, tu sei fuggito,
  E sì forte mostravi e tanto ardito!

  Come tanta vergogna puoi soffrire,
    A dar le spalle ad un sol cavaliero!
  Forse credesti la morte fuggire,
    Or vedi che fallito hai il pensiero;
  Chi morir può onorato dee morire;
    Che spesse volte avviene e di leggiero,
  Che, per durar in questa vita trista,
  Morte e vergogna ad un tratto s'acquista.

  Agrican prima rimontò in arcione,
    Poi con voce soave rispondia
  Tu sei per certo il più franco Barone,
    Ch'io mai trovassi ne la vita mia,
  E però del tuo scampo fia cagione
    La tua prodezza e quella cortesia,
  Che oggi sì grande al campo usato m'hai,
  Quando soccorso a mia gente donai.

  Però ti voglio la vita lasciare,
    Ma non tornasti più per darmi inciampo.
  Questo la fuga mi fè simulare,
   Nè v'ebbi altro partito a darti scampo.
  Se pur ti piace meco battagliare,
    Morto ne rimarrai su questo campo;
  Ma siami testimonio il cielo e 'l sole,
  Che darti morte mi dispiace e duole.

  Il Conte gli rispose molto umano,
    Perchè avea preso già di lui pietate;
  Quanto sei, disse, più franco e soprano,
    Più di te mi rincresce in veritate,
  Che sarai morto, e non sei Cristiano,
    Ed anderai tra l'anime dannate;
  Ma se vuoi il corpo e l'anima salvare,
  Piglia battesmo, e lascierotti andare.

  Disse Agricane, e riguardollo in viso:
    Se tu sei Cristiano, Orlando sei.
  Chi mi facesse Re del Paradiso,
    Con tal ventura non la cangierei;
  Ma sin or ti ricordo e dotti avviso,
    Che non mi parli de' fatti de' Dei,
  Perchè potresti predicar invano;
  Difenda it suo ciascun co 'l brando in mano.

  Nè più parole; ma trasse Tranchera,
    E verso Orlando con ardir s'affronta.
  Or si comincia la battaglia fiera,
    Con aspri colpi, di taglio e di ponta;
  Ciascun è di prodezza una lumiera,
    E sterno insieme, com'il libro conta,
  Da mezzo giorno insino a notte scura,
  Sempre più franchi a la battaglia dura.

  Ma poi che 'l sol avea passato il monte
    E cominciossi a far il ciel stellato,
  Prima verso del Re parlava it Conte;
    Che farem, disse, the 'l giorno n'è andato?
  Disse Agricane, con parole pronte:
    Ambi ci poseremo in questo prato,
  E domattina, come il giorno appare,
  Ritorneremo insieme a battagliare.

  Così d'accordo il partito si prese;
    Lega il destrier ciascun come gli piace,
  Poi sopra a l'erba verde si distese:
    Come fosse tra loro antica pace,
  L'uno a l'altro vicino era e palese.
    Orlando presso al fonte isteso giace,
  Ed Agricane al bosco più vicino
  Stassi colcato, a l'ombra d'un gran pino.

  E ragionando insieme tutta via
    Di cose degne e condecenti a loro,
  Guardava il Conte il ciel, poscia dicia:
    Questo the ora veggiamo, è un bel lavoro,
  Che fece la divina Monarchia,
    La luna d'argento e le stelle d'oro,
  E la luce del giorno e 'l sol lucente,
  Dio tutto ha fatto per l'umana gente.

  Disse Agricane: Io comprendo per certo,
    Che to vuoi de la fede ragionare;
  Io di nulla scienza son esperto,
    Nè mai sendo fanciul, volsi imparare;
  E ruppi il capo al maestro mio per merto;
    Poi non si potè un altro ritrovare,
  Che mi mostrasse libro, nè scrittura,
  Tanto ciascun avea di me paura.

  E così spesi la mia fanciullezza,
    In caccie, in giochi d'arme e in cavalcare;
  Nè mi par che convenga a gentilezza,
    Star tutto il giorno ne' libri a pensare;
  Ma la forza del corpo e la destrezza
    Conviensi al cavaliero esercitare;
  Dottrina al prete, ed al dottor sta bene;
  Io tanto saccio quanto mi conviene.

  Rispose Orlando: Io tiro teco a un seguo,
    Che l'armi son del'uomo il primo onore;
  Ma non già che 'l saper faccia un men degno,
    Anzi l'adorna com' un prato il fiore;
  Ed è simile a un bove, a un sasso, a un legno,
    Che non pensa a l'eterno Creatore;
  Nè ben si puo pensar, senza dottrina,
  La somma maestade, alta e divina.

  Disse Agricane: Egli è gran scortesia
    A voler contrastar con avvantaggio.
  Io t' ho scoperto la natura mia,
    E to conosco, the sei dotto e saggio;
  Se più parlassi, io non risponderia;
    Piacendoti dormir, dormiti ad aggio;
  E se meco parlar hai pur diletto,
  D'arme o d' amor a ragionar t' aspetto.

  Ora ti prego, che a quel ch' io domando
    Risponda il vero, a fè d' uomo pregiato;
  Se in se' veramente quell' Orlando,
    Che vien tanto nel mondo nominato;
  E perchè qui sei giunto, e come, e quando;
    E se mai fosti ancora innamorato;
  Perche ogni cavalier, ch'è senza amore,
  Se in vista è vivo, vivo senza core.

  Rispose il Conte: Quell' Orlando sono,
    Che uccise Almonte e'l suo fratel Troiano;
  Amor m' ha posto tutto in abbandono,
    E venir fammi in questo luogo strano.
  E perchè teco piu largo ragiono,
    Voglio the sappi che 'l mio cor è in mano
  De la figliuola del Re Galafrone,
  Che ad Albracca dimora nel girone.

  Tu fai co 'l padre guerra a gran furore,
    Per prender suo paese e sua castella;
  Ed io quà son condotto per amore,
    E per piacer a quella damisella;
  Molte fiate son stato per onore
    E per la fede mia sopra la sella;
  Or sol per acquistar la bella dama
  Faccio battaglia, e d'altro non ho brama.

  Quando Agrican ha nel parlare accolto,
    Che questo è Orlando, ed Angelica amava,
  Fuor di misura si turbò nel volto,
    Ma per la notte non lo dimostrava;
  Piangeva sospirando come un stolto,
    L'anima e 'l petto e 'l spirto gli avvampava,
  E tanto gelosia gli batte il core,
  Che non è vivo, e di doglia non more.

  Poi disse a Orlando: Tu debbi pensare,
    Che come il giorno sarà dimostrato,
  Debbiamo insieme la battaglia fare,
    E l'uno o l'altro rimarrà su 'l prato.
  Or d'una cosa ti voglio pregare,
    Che, prima che vegnamo e cotal piato,
  Quella donzella, che 'l tuo cor disia,
  Tu l'abbandoni e lascila per mia.

  Io non potria patire, essendo vivo,
    Che altri con meco amasse il viso adorno:
  O l'uno o l'altro al tutto sarà privo
    Del spirto e de la dama al novo giorno;
  Altri mai non saprà, che questo rivo
    E questo bosco, ch'è quivi d'intorno,
  Che l'abbi rifiutata in cotal loco
  E in cotal tempo, che sarà sì poco.

  Diceva Orlando al Re: Le mie promesse
    Tutte ho servate, quante mai ne fei;
  Ma se quel che or mi chiedi io promettesse
    E s'io il giurassi, io non l'attenderei;
  Così poria spiccar mie membra istesse
    E levarmi di fronte gli occhi miei,
  E viver senza spirto e senza core,
  Come lasciar d' Angelica l'amore.

  Il Re Agrican, che ardeva oltre misura,
    Non puote tal risposta comportare;
  Benchè sia 'l mezzo de la notte scura,
    Prese Bajardo e su v' ebbe a montare,
  Ed orgoglioso, con vista sicura,
    Isgrida al Conte, ed ebbel a sfidare,
  Dicendo: Cavalier, la dama gaglia
  Lasciar convienti, o far meco battaglia.

  Era già il Conte in su l' arcion salito,
    Perchè, come si mosse il Re possente,
  Temendo dal Pagan esser tradito,
    Saltò sopra 'l destrier subitamente;
  Onde rispose con animo ardito:
    Lasciar colei non posso per niente;
  E s'io potess, ancora io non vorria;
  Avertela convien per altra via.

  Come in mar la tempesta a gran fortuna,
    Cominciarno l' assalto i cavalieri
  Nel verde prato, per la notte bruna,
    Con sproni urtarno addosso i buon destrieri;
  E si scorgeano al lume de la luna,
    Dandosi colpi dispietati e fieri,
  Ch' era ciascun difor forte ed ardito
  Ma più non dico; il Canto è quì finito.


  Seguon gli Scotti ove la guida loro
    Per l'alta selva alto disdegno mena,
  Poi che lasciato ha l'uno e l'altro Moro,
    L'un morto in tutto, e l'altro vivo a pena.
  Giacque gran pezzo il giovine Medoro,
    Spicciando il sangue da sì larga vena,
  Che di sua vita al fin saria venuto,
  Se non sopravenia chi gli diè aiuto.

  Gli sopravenne a caso una donzella,
    Avvolta in pastorale et umil veste,
  Ma di real presenzia, e in viso bella,
    D'alte maniere e accortamente oneste.
  Tanto è ch'io non ne dissi più novella,
    Ch'a pena riconoscer la dovreste;
  Questa, se non sapete, Angelica era,
  Del gran Can del Catai la figlia altiera.

  Poi che 'l suo annello Angelica riebbe,
    Di the Brunel l'avea tenuta priva,
  In tanto fasto, in tanto orgoglio crebbe,
    Ch'esser parea di tutto 'l mondo schiva:
  Se ne va sola, e non si degnerebbe
    Compagno aver qual più famoso viva;
  Si sdegna a rimembrar the già suo amante
  Abbia Orlando nomato, o Sacripante.

  E, sopra ogn'altro error, via più pentita
    Era del ben che già a Rinaldo volse.
  Troppo parendole essersi avvilita,
    Ch'a riguardar sì basso gli occhi volse.
  Tant'arroganzia avendo Amor sentita,
    Più lungamente comportar non volse.
  Dove giacea Medor, si pose al varco,
  E l'aspettò, posto lo strale all'arco.

  Quando Angelica vide il giovinetto
    Languir ferito, assai vicino a morte,
  Che del suo Re che giacea senza tetto,
    Più che del proprio mal, si dolea forte,
  Insolita pietade in mezo al petto
    Si sentì entrar per disusate porte,
  Che le fe' il duro cor tenero e molle;
  E più quando il suo caso egli narrolle.

  E rivocando alla memoria l'arte
    Ch'in India imparò già chirurgia,
  (Chè par che questo studio in quella parte
    Nobile e degno e di gran laude sia;
  E, senza molto rivoltar di carte,
    Che 'l patre a i figli ereditario il dia)
  Si dispose operar con succo d'erbe,
  Ch'a più matura vita lo riserbe.

  E ricordossi che passando avea
    Veduta un'erba in una piaggia amena;
  Fosse dittamo, o fosse panacea,
    O non so qual di tal effetto piena,
  Che stagna il sangue, e de la piaga rea
    Leva ogni spasmo e perigliosa pena,
  La trovò non lontana, e, quella côlta,
  Dove lasciato avea Medor, diè volta.

  Nel ritornar s'incontra in un pastore,
    Ch'a cavallo pel bosco ne veniva
  Cercando una iuvenca, che gli fuore
    Duo dì di mandra e senza guardia giva.
  Seco lo trasse ove perdea il vigore
    Medor col sangue che del petto usciva;
  E già n'avea di tanto il terren tinto,
  Ch'era omai presso a rimanere estinto.

  Del palafreno Angelica giù scese,
    E scendere il pastor seco fece anche.
  Pestò con sassi l'erba, indi la presse,
    E succo ne cavò fra le man bianche:
  Ne la piaga n'infuse, e ne distese
    E pel petto e pel ventre e fin a l'anche;
  E fu di tal virtù questo liquore,
  Che stagnò il sangue e gli tornò il vigore:

  E gli diè forza, che poté salire
    Sopra il cavallo the 'l pastor condusse.
  Non però volse indi Medor partire
    Prima ch'in terra il suo signor non fosse,
  E Cloridan col Re fe' sepelire;
    E poi dove a lei piacque si ridusse;
  Et ella per pietà ne l'umil case
  Del cortese pastor seco rimase.

  Nè, fin che nol tornasse in sanitade,
    Volea partir: così di lui fe' stima:
  Tanto sè intenerì de la pietade
    Che n'ebbe, come in terra il vide prima.
  Poi, vistone i costumi e la beltade,
    Roder si sentì il cor d'ascosa lima;
  Roder si sentì il core, e a poco a poco
  Tutto infiammato d'amoroso fuoco.

  Stava il pastore in assai buona e bella
    Stanza, nel bosco infra duo monti piatta,
  Con la moglie e co i figli; et avea quella
    Tutta di nuovo e poco inanzi fatta.
  Quivi a Medoro fu per la donzella
    La piaga in breve a sanità ritratta;
  Ma in minor tempo si sentì maggiore
  Piaga di questa avere ella nel core.

  Assai più larga piaga e più profonda
    Nel cor senti da non veduto strale,
  Che da' begli occhi e da la testa bionda
    Di Medoro avventè l'arcier c'ha l'ale.
  Arder si sente, e sempre il fuoco abonda,
    E più cura l'altrui che 'l proprio male.
  Di sè non cura; e non è ad altro intenta,
  Ch'a risanar chi lei fere e tormenta.

  La sua piaga più s'apre e più incrudisce,
    Quanto piu l' altra si restringe e salda.
  Il giovine si sana: ella languisce
    Di nuova febbre, or agghiacciata or calda.
  Di giorno in giorno in lui beltà fiorisce:
    La mísera si strugge, come falda
  Strugger di nieve intempestiva suole,
  Ch'in loco aprico abbia scoperta il sole.

  Se di disio non vuol morir, bisogna
    Che senza indugio ella sè stessa aïti:
  E ben le par che, di quel ch' essa agogna,
    Non sia tempo aspettar ch' altri la 'nviti.
  Dunque, rotto ogni freno di vergogna,
    La lingua ebbe non men che gli occhi arditi;
  E di quel colpo domandò mercede,
  Che, forse non sapendo, esso le diede.

  O Conte Orlando, o Re di Circassia,
    Vestra inclita virtù, dite, che giova?
  Vostro alto onor, dite, in che prezzo sia?
    O che merce vostro servir ritruova?
  Mostratemi una sola cortesia,
    Che mai costei v'usasse, o vecchia o nuova,
  Per ricompensa e guidardone e merto
  Di quanto avete già per lei sofferto.

  Oh, se potessi ritornar mai vivo,
    Quanto ti parria duro, o Re Agricane!
  Che già mostrò costei sì averti a schivo
    Con repulse crudeli et inumane.
  O Ferraù, o mille altri ch'io non scrivo,
    Ch'avete fatto mille pruove vane
  Per questa ingrata, quanto aspro vi fora
  S'a costu' in braccio voi la vedesse ora!

  Angelica a Medor la prima rôsa
    Coglier lasciò, non ancor tocca inante;
  Nè persona fu mai si avventurosa,
    Ch'in quel giardin potesse por le piante.
  Per adombrar, per onestar la cosa,
    Si celebrò con cerimonie sante
  Il matrimonio, ch'auspice ebbe Amore,
  E pronuba la moglie del pastore.

  Fêrsi le nozze sotto all'umil tetto
    Le più solenni che vi potean farsi;
  E più d'un mese poi stero a diletto
    I duo tranquilli amanti a ricrearsi.
  Più lunge non vedea del giovinetto
    La donna, nè di lui potea saziarsi:
  Nè, per mai sempre pendegli dal cello,
  Il suo disir sentìa di lui satollo.

  Se stava all'ombra, o se del tetto usciva,
    Avea dì e notte il bel giovine a lato:
  Matino e sera or questa or quella riva
    Cercando andava, o qualche verde prato:
  Nel mezo giorno un antro li copriva,
    Forse non men di quel commodo e grato
  Ch'ebber, fuggendo l'acque, Enea e Dido,
  De' lor secreti testimonio fido.

  Fra piacer tanti, ovunque un arbor dritto
    Vedesse ombrare o fonte o rivo puro,
  V'avea spillo o coltel subito fitto;
    Così, se v'era alcun sasso men duro.
  Et era fuori in mille luoghi scritto,
    E così in casa in altri tanti il muro,
  Angelica e Medoro, in varii modi
  Legati insieme di diversi nodi.

  Poi che le parve aver fatto soggiorno
    Quivi più ch'a bastanza, fe' disegno
  Di fare in India del Catai ritorno,
    E Medor coronar del suo bel regno.
  Portava al braccio un cerchio d'oro, adorno
    Di ricche gemme, in testimonio e segno
  Del ben che 'l Conte Orlando le volea;
  E portato gran tempo ve l'avea.

  Quel dono già Morgana a Ziliante,
    Nel tempo the nel lago ascoso il tenne;
  Et esso, poi ch'al padre Monodante
    Per opra e per virtù d'Orlando venne,
  Lo diede a Orlando: Orlando ch'era amante,
    Di porsi al braccio it cerchio d'or sostenne,
  Avendo disegnato di donarlo
  Alla Regina sua di ch'io vi parlo.

  Non per amor del Paladino, quanto
    Perch'era ricco e d'artificio egregio,
  Caro avuto l'avea la donna tanto
    Che più non si può aver cosa di pregio.
  Sè lo serbò ne l'Isola del pianto,
    Non so già dirvi con the privilegio,
  Là dove esposta al marin mostro nuda
  Fu da la gente inospitale e cruda.

  Quivi non si trovando altra mercede,
    Ch'al buon pastore et alla moglie dessi,
  Che serviti gli avea con sì gran fede
    Dal dì che nel suo albergo si fur messi;
  Levò dal braccio il cerchio, e gli lo diede,
    E volse per suo amor che lo tenessi;
  Indi saliron verso la montagna
  Che divide la Francia da la Spagna.

  Dentro a Valenza o dentro a Barcellona
    Per qualche giorno avean pensato porsi,
  Fin che accadesse alcuna nave buona,
    Che per Levante apparecchiasse a sciorsi.
  Videro il mar scoprir sotto a Girona
    Ne lo smontar giù de i montani dorsi;
  E, costeggiando a man sinistra il lito,
  A Barcellona andâr pel camin trito.

  Ma non vi giunser prima ch'un uom pazzo
    Giacer trovaro in su l'estreme arene,
  Che, come porco, di loto e di guazzo
    Tutto era brutto, e volto e petto e schene.
  Costui si scagliò lor, come cagnazzo
    Ch' assalir forestier subito viene;
  E diè for noia e fu per far lor scorno.

       *       *       *       *       *

  The troop then follow'd where their chief had gone,
    Pursuing his stern chase among the trees,
  And leave the two companions there alone,
   One surely dead, the other scarcely less.
  Long time Medoro lay without a groan,
    Losing his blood in such large quantities,
  That life would surely have gone out at last,
  Had not a helping hand been coming past.

  There came, by chance, a damsel passing there,
    Dress'd like a shepherdess in lowly wise,
  But of a royal presence, and an air
    Noble as handsome, with clear maiden eyes.
  'Tis so long since I told you news of her,
    Perhaps you know her not in this disguise.
  This, you must know then, was Angelica,
  Proud daughter of the Khan of great Cathay.

  You know the magic ring and her distress?
    Well, when she had recover'd this same ring,
  It so increas'd her pride and haughtiness,
    She seem'd too high for any living thing.
  She goes alone, desiring nothing less
    Than a companion, even though a king
  She even scorns to recollect the flame
  Of one Orlando, or his very name.

  But, above all, she hates to recollect
    That she had taken to Rinaldo so;
  She thinks it the last want of self-respect,
    Pure degradation, to have look'd so low.
  "Such arrogance," said Cupid, "must be check'd."
    The little god betook him with his bow
  To where Medoro lay; and, standing by,
  Held the shaft ready with a lurking eye.

  Now when the princess saw the youth all pale,
    And found him grieving with his bitter wound,
  Not for what one so young might well bewail,
    But that his king should not be laid in ground,--
  She felt a something strange and gentle steal
    Into her heart by some new way it found,
  Which touch'd its hardness, and turn'd all to grace;
  And more so, when he told her all his case.

  And calling to her mind the little arts
    Of healing, which she learnt in India,
  (For 'twas a study valued in those parts
    Even by those who were in sovereign sway,
  And yet so easy too, that, like the heart's,
    'Twas more inherited than learnt, they say),
  She cast about, with herbs and balmy juices,
  To save so fair a life for all its uses.

  And thinking of an herb that caught her eye
    As she was coming, in a pleasant plain
  (Whether 'twas panacea, dittany,
    Or some such herb accounted sovereign
  For stanching blood quickly and tenderly,
    And winning out all spasm and bad pain),
  She found it not far off, and gathering some,
  Returned with it to save Medoro's bloom.

  In coming back she met upon the way
    A shepherd, who was riding through the wood
  To find a heifer that had gone astray,
    And been two days about the solitude.
  She took him with her where Medoro lay,
    Still feebler than he was with loss of blood;
  So much he lost, and drew so hard a breath,
  That he was now fast fading to his death.

  Angelica got off her horse in haste,
    And made the shepherd get as fast from his;
  She ground the herbs with stones, and then express'd
    With her white hands the balmy milkiness;
  Then dropp'd it in the wound, and bath'd his breast,
    His stomach, feet, and all that was amiss
  And of such virtue was it, that at length
  The blood was stopp'd, and he look'd round with strength.

  At last he got upon the shepherd's horse,
    But would not quit the place till he had seen
  Laid in the ground his lord and master's corse;
    And Cloridan lay with it, who had been
  Smitten so fatally with sweet remorse.
    He then obey'd the will of the fair queen;
  And she, for very pity of his lot,
  Went and stay'd with him at the shepherd's cot.

  Nor would she leave him, she esteem'd him so,
    Till she had seen him well with her own eye;
  So full of pity did her bosom grow,
    Since first she saw him faint and like to die.
  Seeing his manners now, and beauty too,
    She felt her heart yearn somehow inwardly;
  She felt her heart yearn somehow, till at last
  'Twas all on fire, and burning warm and fast.

  The shepherd's home was good enough and neat,
    A little shady cottage in a dell
  The man had just rebuilt it all complete,
    With room to spare, in case more births befell.
  There with such knowledge did the lady treat
    Her handsome patient, that he soon grew well;
  But not before she had, on her own part,
  A secret wound much greater in her heart.

  Much greater was the wound, and deeper far,
    Which the sweet arrow made in her heart's strings;
  'Twas from Medoro's lovely eyes and hair;
    'Twas from the naked archer with the wings.
  She feels it now; she feels, and yet can bear
    Another's less than her own sufferings.
  She thinks not of herself: she thinks alone
  How to cure him by whom she is undone.

  The more his wound recovers and gets ease,
    Her own grows worse, and widens day by day.
  The youth gets well; the lady languishes,
    Now warm, now cold, as fitful fevers play.
  His beauty heightens, like the flowering trees;
    She, miserable creature, melts away
  Like the weak snow, which some warm sun has found
  Fall'n, out of season, on a rising ground.

  And must she speak at last, rather than die?
    And must she plead, without another's aid?
  She must, she must: the vital moments fly
    She lives--she dies, a passion-wasted maid.
  At length she bursts all ties of modesty:
    Her tongue explains her eyes; the words are said
  And she asks pity, underneath that blow
  Which he, perhaps, that gave it did not know.

  O County Orlando! O King Sacripant!
    That fame of yours, say, what avails it ye?
  That lofty honour, those great deeds ye vaunt,--
    Say, what's their value with the lovely she
  Shew me--recall to memory (for I can't)--
    Shew me, I beg, one single courtesy
  That ever she vouchsafed ye, far or near,
  For all you've done and have endured for her.

  And you, if you could come to life again,
    O Agrican, how hard 'twould seem to you,
  Whose love was met by nothing but disdain,
    And vile repulses, shocking to go through!
  O Ferragus! O thousands, who, in vain,
    Did all that loving and great hearts could do,
  How would ye feel, to see, with all her charms,
  This thankless creature in a stripling's arms?

  The young Medoro had the gathering
    Of the world's rose, the rose untouch'd before;
  For never, since that garden blush'd with spring,
    Had human being dared to touch the door.
  To sanction it--to consecrate the thing--
    The priest was called to read the service o'er,
  (For without marriage what can come but strife?)
  And the bride-mother was the shepherd's wife.

  All was perform'd, in short, that could be so
    In such a place, to make the nuptials good;
  Nor did the happy pair think fit to go,
    But spent the month and more within the wood.
  The lady to the stripling seemed to grow.
    His step her step, his eyes her eyes pursued;
  Nor did her love lose any of its zest,
  Though she was always hanging on his breast.

  In doors and out of doors, by night, by day,
    She had the charmer by her side for ever;
  Morning and evening they would stroll away,
    Now by some field or little tufted river;
  They chose a cave in middle of the day,
    Perhaps not less agreeable or clever
  Than Dido and Æneas found to screen them,
  When they had secrets to discuss between them.

  And all this while there was not a smooth tree,
    That stood by stream or fountain with glad breath,
  Nor stone less hard than stones are apt to be,
    But they would find a knife to carve it with;
  And in a thousand places you might see,
    And on the walls about you and beneath,
  ANGELICA AND MEDORO, tied in one,
  As many ways as lovers' knots can run.

  And when they thought they had outspent their time,
    Angelica the royal took her way,
  She and Medoro, to the Indian clime,
    To crown him king of her great realm, Cathay.[1]

[Footnote 1: This version of the present episode has appeared in print
before. So has a portion of the _Monks and the Giants_, in the first

       *       *       *       *       *

No. III.



  Feron camin diverso i cavallieri,
    Di quà Zerbino, e di là il Conte Orlando.
  Prima che pigli il Conte altri sentieri,
    All'arbor tolse, e a sè ripose il brando;
  E, dove meglio col Pagan pensosse
    Di potersi incontrare, il destrier mosse.

  Lo strano corso the tenne il cavallo
    Del Saracin pel bosco senza via,
  Fece ch'Orlando andò duo giorni in fallo,
    Nè lo trovò, nè potè averne spia.
  Giunse ad un rivo, che parea cristallo,
    Ne le cui sponde un bel pratel fioria,
  Di nativo color vago e dipinto,
  E di molti e belli arbori distinto.

  Il merigge facea grato l'orezo
    Al duro armento et al pastore ignudo;
  Si che nè Orlando sentia alcun ribrezo,
    Che la corazza avea, l'elmo e lo scudo.
  Quivi egli entrò, per riposarsi, in mezo;
    E v'ebbe travaglioso albergo e crudo,
  E, più che dir si possa, empio soggiorno,
  Quell'infelice e sfortunato giorno.

  Volgendosi ivi intorno, vidi scritti
    Molti arbuscelli in su l'ombrosa riva.
  Tosto the fermi v'ebbe gli occhi e fitti,
    Fu certo esser di man de la sua Diva.
  Questo era un di quei lochi già descritti,
    Ove sovente con Medor veniva
  Da casa del pastore indi vicina
  La bella donna del Catai Regina.

  Angelica e Medor con cento nodi
    Legati insieme, e in cento lochi vede.
  Quante lettere son, tanti son chiodi
    Co i quali Amore il cor gli punge e fiede.
  Va col pensier cercando in mille modi
    Non creder quel ch'al suo dispetto crede:
  Ch'altra Angelica sia, creder si sforza,
  Ch'abbia scritto il suo nome in quella scorza.

  Poi dice: Conosco io pur queste note;
    Di tal io n'he tante e vedute e lette.
  Finger questo Medoro ella si puote;
    Forse ch'a me questo cognome mette.
  Con tali opinion dal ver remote
    Usando fraude a sè medesmo, stette
  Ne la speranza il mal contento Orlando,
  Che si seppe a sè stesso ir procacciando.

  Ma sempre più raccende e più rinuova,
    Quanto spenger più cerca, il rio sospetto;
  Come l'incauto augel che si ritrova
    In ragna o in visco aver dato di petto,
  Quanto più batte l'ale e più si prova
    Di disbrigar, più vi si lega stretto.
  Orlando viene ove s'incurva il monte
  A guisa d'arco in su la chiara fonte.

  Aveano in su l'entrata il luogo adorno
    Coi piedi storti edere e viti erranti.
  Quivi soleano al più cocente giorno
    Stare abbracciati i duo felici amanti.
  V'aveano i nomi lor dentro e d'intorno
    Più che in altro de i luoghi circonstanti,
  Scritti, qual con carbone e qual con gesso,
  E qual con punte di coltelli impresso.

  Il mesto Conte a piè quivi discese;
    E vide in su l'entrata de la grotta
  Parole assai, che di sua man distese
    Medoro avea, che parean scritte allotta.
  Del gran piacer che ne la grotta prese,
    Questa sentenzia in versi avea ridotta:
  Che fosse culta in suo linguaggio io penso;
  Et era ne la nostra tale in senso:

  Liete piante, verdi erbe, limpide acque,
    Spelunca opaca e di fredde ombre grata,
  Dove la bella Angelica, che nacque
    Di Galafron, da molti in vano amata,
  Spesso ne le mie braccia nuda giacque;
    De la commodità che qui m'è data,
  Io povero Medor ricompensarvi
  D'altro non posso, che d'ognior lodarvi:

  E di pregare ogni signore amante
    E cavallieri e damigelle, e ognuna
  Persona o paësana o viandante,
    Che quì sua volontà meni o Fortuna,
  Ch'all'erbe, all'ombra, all'antro, al rio, alle piante
    Dica: Benigno abbiate e sole e luna,
  E de le nimfe il coro che provveggia,
  Che non conduca a voi pastor mai greggia.

  Era scritta in Arabico, che 'l Conte
    Intendea così ben, come Latino.
  Fra molte lingue e molte ch'avea pronte
    Prontissima avea quella il Paladino
  E gli schivò più volte e danni et onte,
    Che si trovò tra il popul Saracino.
  Ma non si vanti, se già n'ebbe frutto;
  Ch'un danno or n'ha, che può scontargli il tutto.

  Tre volte, e quattro, e sei, lesse lo scritto
    Quello infelice, e pur cercando in vano
  Che non vi fosse quel che v'era scritto;
    E sempre lo vedea più chiaro e piano;
  Et ogni volta in mezo il petto afflitto
    Stringersi il cor sentia con fredda mano.
  Rimase il fin con gli occhi e con la mente
  Fissi nel sasso, al sasso indifferente.

  Fu allora per uscir del sentimento;
    Sì tutto in preda del dolor si lassa.
  Credete a chi n'ha fatto esperimento,
    Che questo è 'l duol che tutti gli altri passa.
  Caduto gli era sopra il petto il mento,
    La fronte priva di baldanza, e bassa;
  Nè potè aver (che 'l duol l'occupò tanto)
  Alle querele voce, o umore al pianto.

  L'impetuosa doglia entro rimase,
    Che volea tutta uscir con troppa fretta.
  Così veggian restar l'acqua nel vase,
    Che largo il ventre e la bocca abbia stretta;
  Chè, nel voltar che si fa in su la base,
    L'umor, che vorria uscir, tanto s'affretta,
  E ne l'angusta via tanto s'intrica,
  Ch'a goccia a goccia fuore esce a fatica.

  Poi ritorna in sè alquanto, e pensa come
    Possa esser che non sia la cosa vera:
  Che voglia alcun così infamare il nome
    De la sua donna e crede e brama e spera,
  O gravar lui d'insopportabil some
    Tanto di gelosia, che sè ne pera;
  Et abbia quel, sia chi si voglia stato,
  Molto la man di lei bene imitato.

  In così poca, in così debol speme
    Sveglia gli spirti, e gli rifranca un poco;
  Indi al suo Brigliadoro il dosso preme,
    Dando già il sole alla sorella loco.
  Non molto va, che da le vie supreme
    De i tetti uscir vede il vapor del fuoco,
  Sente cani abbaiar, muggiare armento;
  Viene alla villa, e piglia alloggiamento.

  Languido smonta, e lascia Brigliadoro
    A un discreto garzon che n'abbia cura.
  Altri il disarma, altri gli sproni d'oro
    Gli leva, altri a forbir va l'armatura.
  Era questa la casa ove Medoro
    Giacque ferito, e v'ebbe alta avventura.
  Corcarsi Orlando e non cenar domanda,
  Di dolor sazio e non d'altra vivanda.

  Quanto più cerca ritrovar quiete,
    Tanto ritrova più travaglio e pene;
  Che de l'odiato scritto ogni parete,
    Ogni uscio, ogni finestra vede piena.
  Chieder ne vuol: poi tien le labra chete;
    Chè teme non si far troppo serena,
  Troppo chiara la cosa, che di nebbia
  Cerca offuscar, perchè men nuocer debbia.

  Poco gli giova usar fraude a sè stesso;
    Chè senza domandarne è chi ne parla.
  Il pastor, che lo vede così oppresso
    Da sua tristrizia, e che vorria levarla,
  L'istoria nota a sè the dicea spesso
    Di quei duo amanti a chi volea ascoltarla,
  Ch'a molti dilettevole fu a udire,
  Gl'incominciò senza rispetto a dire:

  Come esso a prieghi d'Angelica bella,
    Portato avea Medoro alla sua villa;
  Ch'era ferito gravemente, e ch'ella
    Curò la piaga, e in pochi dì guarilla;
  Ma che nel cor d'una maggior di quella
    Lei ferì amor: e di poca scintilla
  L'accese tanto e sì cocente fuoco,
  Che n'ardea tutta, e non trovava loco.

  E, sanza aver rispetto ch'ella fosse
    Figlia del maggior Re ch'abbia il Levante,
  Da troppo amor constretta si condusse
    A farsi moglie d'un povero fante.
  All'ultimo l'istoria si ridusse,
    Che 'l pastor fe' portar la gemma inante,
  Ch'alla sua dipartenza, per mercede
  Del buono albergo, Angelica gli diede.

  Questa conclusion fu la secure
    Che 'l capo a un colpo gli levò dal collo,
  Poi che d'innumerabil battiture
    Si vide il manigoldo Amor satollo.
  Celar si studia Orlando il duolo; e pure
    Quel gli fa forza, e male asconder puollo;
  Per lacrime e suspir da bocca e d'occhi
  Convien, voglia o non voglia, al fin che scocchi.

  Poi ch'allagare il freno al dolor puote
    (Che resta solo, e senza altrui rispetto),
  Giù da gli occhi rigando per le gote
    Sparge un fiume di lacrime su 'l petto:
  Sospira e geme, e va con spesse ruote
    Di qua di là tutto cercando il letto;
  E più duro ch'un sasso, e più pungente
  Che se fosse d'urtica, sè lo sente.

  In tanto aspro travaglio gli soccorre,
    Che nel medesmo letto in che giaceva
  L'ingrata donna venutasi a porre
    Col suo drudo più volte esser doveva.
  Non altrimenti or quella piuma abborre
    Nè con minor prestezza sè ne leva,
  Che de l'erba il villan, che s'era messo
  Per chiuder gli occhi, e vegga il serpe appresso.

  Quel letto, quella casa, quel pastore
    Immantinente in tant'odio gli casca,
  Che senza aspettar luna, o che l'albore
    Che va dinanzi al nuovo giorno, nasca,
  Piglia l'arme e il destriero, et esce fuore
    Per mezo il bosco alla più oscura frasca;
  E quando poi gli è avviso d'esser solo,
  Con gridi et urli apre le porte al duolo.

  Di pianger mai, mai di gridar non resta;
    Nè la notte nè 'l dì si dà mai pace;
  Fugge cittadi e borghi, e alla foresta
    Su 'l terren duro al discoperto giace.
  Di sè si maraviglia ch'abbia in testa
    Una fontana d'acqua sì vivace,
  E come sospirar possa mai tanto;
  E spesso dice a sè così nel pianto:

  Queste non son più lacrime, che fuore
    Stillo da gli occhi con sì larga vena.
  Non suppliron le lacrime al dolore;
    Finîr, ch'a mezo era il dolore a pena.
  Dal fuoco spinto ora il vitale umore
    Fugge per quella via ch'a gli occhi mena;
  Et è quel che si versa, e trarrà insieme
  E 'l dolore e la vita all'ore estreme.

  Questi, ch'indizio fan del mio tormento,
    Sospir non sono; nè i sospir son tali.
  Quelli han triegua talora; io mai non sento
    Che 'l petto mio men la sua pena esali.
  Amor, che m'arde il cor, fa questo vento,
    Mentre dibatte intorno al fuoco l'ali.
  Amor, con che miracolo lo fai,
  Che 'n fuoco il tenghi, e nol consumi mai?

  Non son, non sono io quel che paio in viso;
    Quel, ch'era Orlando, è morto, et è sotterra;
  La sua donna ingratissima l'ha ucciso;
    Si, mancando di fe, gli ha fatto guerra.
  Io son lo spirito suo da lui diviso,
    Ch'in questo inferno tormentandosi erra,
  Acciò con l'ombra sia, che sola avanza,
  Esempio a chi in amor pone speranza.

  Pel bosco errò tutta la notte il Conte;
    E allo spuntar della diurna fiamma
  Lo tornò il suo destin sopra la fonte,
    Dove Medoro insculse l'epigramma.
  Veder l'ingiuria sua scritta nel monte
    L'accese sì, ch'in lui non restò dramma
  Che non fosse odio, rabbia, ira e furore;
  Né più indugiò, che trasse il brando fuore.

  Tagliò lo scritto e 'l sasso, e sin al cielo
    A volo alzar fe'le minute schegge.
  Infelice quell'antro, et ogni stelo
    In cui Medoro e Angelica si legge!
  Così restâr quel dì, ch'ombra nè gielo
    A pastor mai non daran più, nè a gregge:
  E quella fonte già si chiara e pura,
  Da cotanta ira fu poco sicura:

  Che rami, e ceppi, e tronchi, e sassi, e zolle
    Non cessò di gittar ne le bell'onde,
  Fin che da sommo ad imo si turbolle
    Che non furo mai più chiare nè monde;
  E stanco al fin, e, al fin di sudor molle,
    Poi che la lena vinta non risponde
  Allo sdegno, al grave odio, all'ardente ira,
  Cade sul prato, e verso il ciel sospira.

  Afflitto e stanco al fin cade ne l'erba,
    E ficca gli occhi al cielo, e non fa motto;
  Senza cibo e dormir così si serba,
    Che 'l sole esce tre volte, e torna sotto.
  Di crescer non cessò la pena acerba,
    Che fuor del senno al fin l'ebbe condotto.
  Il quarto dì, da gran furor commosso,
  E maglic e piastre si straccio di dosso.

  Quì riman l'elmo, e là riman lo scudo;
    Lontan gli arnesi, e più lontan l'usbergo
  L'arme sue tutte, in somma vi concludo,
    Avean pel bosco differente albergo.
  E poi si squarciò i panni, e mostrò ignudo
    L'ispido ventre, e tutto 'l petto e 'l tergo;
  E cominciò la gran follia, sì orrenda,
  Che de la più non sarà mai ch'intenda.

  In tanta rabbia, in tanto furor venne,
    Che rimase offuscato in ogni senso.
  Di tor la spada in man non gli sovvenne,
    Che fatte avria mirabil cose, penso.
  Ma nè quella nè scure nè bipenne
    Era bisogno al suo vigore immenso.
  Quivi fe' ben de le sue prove eccelse;
  Ch'un alto pine al primo crollo svelse;

  E svelse dopo il primo altri parecchi,
    Come tosser finocchi, ebuli o aneti;
  E fe' il simil di querce e d'olmi vecchi,
    Di faggi e d' orni e d' illici a d' abeti;
  Quel ch'un uccellator, the s'apparecchi
    Il campo mondo, fa, per por le reti,
  De i giunchi e de le stoppie e de l'urtiche,
  Facchi de cerri e d' altre piante antiche.

  I pastor, che sentito hanno il fracasso,
    Lasciando il gregge sparso alla foresta,
  Chi di quà, chi di là, tutti a gran passo
    Vi vengono a veder che cosa è questa.

       *       *       *       *       *

The poet breaks off here, and enters afterwards at large into the
consequences of the madness of Orlando; omitted in this work, for the
reasons mentioned at page 224.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. IV.



  Ma, ecco omai l'ora fatale è giunta
    Che 'l viver di Clorinda al suo fin deve.
  Spinge egli il ferro nel bel sen di punta,
    Che vi s'immerge, e 'l sangue avido beve;
  E la veste che d'or vago trapunta
    Le mammelle stringea tenera e leve
  L'empie d'un caldo fiume. Ella già sente
  Morirsi, e 'l piè le manea egro e languente.

  Quel segue la vittoria, e la trafitta
    Vergine minacciando incalza e preme:
  Ella, mentre cadea, la voce afitta
    Movendo, disse le parole estreme:
  Parole ch'a lei novo on spirto ditta,
    Spirto di fè, di carità, di speme:
  Virtù ch'or Dio le infonde; e se rubella
  In vita fu, la vuole in morte ancella:

  Amico, hai vinto; io ti perdon: perdona
    Tu ancora, al corpo no, che nulla pave,
  All'alma sì: deh! per lei prega: e dona
    Battesmo a me ch'ogni mia colpe lave.
  In queste voci languide risuona
    Un non so che di flebile e soave,
  Che al cor gli serpe, ed ogni sdegno ammorza,
  E gli occhi a lagrimar gl' invoglia e sforza.

  Poco quindi lontan nel sen del monte
    Scaturía mormorando an picciol rio:
  Egli v'accorse, e l'elmo empiè nel fonte,
    E tornò mesto al grande ufficio e pio.
  Tremar sentì la man, mentre la fronte,
    Non conosciuta ancor, sciolse e scoprio.
  La vide, e la conobbe; e restò senza
  E voce, e moto. Ahi vista! ahi cognoscenza!

  Non morì già; che sue virtuti accolse
    Tutte in quel punto, e in guardia al cor le mise;
  E, premendo il suo affanno, a dar si volse
    Vita coll'acqua a chi col ferro uccise.
  Mentre egli il suon de' sacri detti sciolse,
    Colei di gioia trasmutossi, e rise:
  E in atto di morir lieto e vivace,
  Dir parea; S'apre il cielo; io vado in pace.

  D'un bel pallore ha il bianco volto asperso,
    Come a gigli sarian miste viole;
  E gli occhi al cielo affisa, e in lei converso
    Sembra per la pietate il cielo e 'l sole;
  E la man nuda e fredda alzando verso
    Il cavaliero, in vece di parole,
  Gli dà pegno di pace. In questa forma
  Passa la bella donna, e par che dorma.

  Come l'alma gentile uscita ei vede,
    Rallenta quel vigor ch'avea raccolto,
  E l'imperio di sè libero cede
    Al duol già fatto impetuoso e stolto,
  Ch' al cor si stringe, e chiusa in breve sede
    La vita, empie di morte i sensi e 'l volto.
  Già simile all' estinto il vivo langue
  Al colore, al silenzio, agli atti, al sangue.

  E ben la vita sua sdegnosa e schiva,
    Spezzando a sforza il suo ritegno frale,
  La bell'anima sciolta alfin seguiva,
    Che poco innanzi a lei spiegava l'ale;
  Ma quivi stuol de' Franchi a caso arriva,
    Cui trae bisogno d' acqua, o d'altro tale;
  E con la donna il cavalier ne porta,
  In sè mal vivo, e morto in lei ch'è morta.

       *       *       *       *       *

No V.



  Era in prence Tancredi intanto sorto
    A seppellir la sua diletta amica;
  E, benchè in volto sia languido e smorto,
    E mal atto a portar elmo e lorica,
  Nulladimen, poi che 'l bisogno ha scorto,
    Ei non ricusa il rischio o la fatica;
  Che 'l cor vivace il suo vigor trasfonde
  Al corpo sì, che par ch'esso n'abbonde.

  Vassene il valoroso in sè ristretto,
    E tacito e guardingo al rischio ignoto
  E sostien della selva il fero aspetto,
    E 'l gran romor del tuono e del tremoto;
  E nulla sbigottisce; e sol nel petto
    Sente, ma tosto il seda, un picciol moto.
  Trapassa; ed ecco in quel silvestre loco
  Sorge improvvisa la città del foco.

  Allor s' arretra, e dubbio alquanto resta,
    Fra sè dicendo: Or qui che vaglion l'armi?
  Nelle fauci de' mostri, e 'n gola a questa
    Divoratrice fiamma andrò a gettarmi?
  Non mai la vita, ove cagione onesta
    Del comun pro la chieda, altri risparmi;
  Ma nè prodigo sia d' anima grande
  Uom denso; e tale è ben chi qui la spande.

  Pur l'oste che dirà, s'indarno io riedo?
    Qual altra selva ha di troncar speranza?
  Nè intentato lasciar vorrà Goffredo
    Mai questo varco. Or, s'oltre alcun s'avanza,
  Forse l'incendio, che qui sorto i' vedo,
    Fia d'effetto minor che sembianza;
  Ma seguane che puote. E in questo dire
  Dentro saltovvi: oh memorando ardire!

  Nè sotto l'arme già sentir gli parve
    Caldo o fervor come di foco intenso;
  Ma pur, se fosser vere fiamme o larve,
    Mal potè giudicar sì tosto il senso:
  Perchè repente, appena tocco, sparve
    Quel simulacro, e giunse un nuvol denso,
  Che portò notte e verno; e 'l verno ancora
  E l'ombra dileguossi in picciol'ora.

  Stupido sì, ma intrepido rimane
    Tancredi; e poichè vede il tutto cheto,
  Mette securo il piè nelle profane
    Soglie, e spia della selva ogni secreto.
  Nè più apparenze inusitate e strane,
    Nè trova alcun per via scontro o divieto,
  Se non quanto per sè ritarda il bosco
  La vista e i passi, inviluppato e fosco.

  Alfine un largo spazio in forma scorge
    D'anfiteatro, e non è pianta in esso,
  Salvo che nel suo mezzo altero sorge,
    Quasi eccelsa piramide, un cipresso.
  Colà si drizza, e nel mirar s' accorge
    Ch' era di varj segni il tronco impresso,
  Simil a quei, chè in vece usò di scritto
  L'antico già misterioso Egitto.

  Fra i segni ignoti alcune note ha scorte
    Del sermon di Soria, ch'ei ben possiede:
  O tu, che dentro ai chiostri della morte
    Osasti por, guerriero audace, il piede,
  Deh! se non sei crudel, quanto sei forte,
    Deh! non turbar questa secreta sede.
  Perdona all'alme omai di luce prive:
  Non dee guerra co' morti aver chi vive.

  Così dicea quel motto. Egli era intento
    Delle brevi parole ai segni occulti.
  Fremere intanto udia continuo il vento
    Tra le frondi del bosco e tra i virgulti;
  E trarne un suon che flebile concento
    Par d'umani sospiri e di singulti;
  E un non so che confuso instilla al core
  Di pietà, di spavento e di dolore.

  Pur tragge alfin la spada, e con gran forza
    Percote l'alta pianta. Oh maraviglia!
  Manda fuor sangue la recisa scorza,
    E fa la terra intorno a sè vermiglia.
  Tutto si raccapriccia; e pur rinforza
    Il colpo, e 'l fin vederne ei si consiglia.
  Allor, quasi di tomba, uscir ne sente
  Un indistinto gemito dolente;

  Che poi distinto in voci: Ahi troppo, disse,
    M' hai tu, Tancredi, offesso: or tanto basti:
  Tu dal corpo, che meco e per me visse,
    Felice albergo gia, mi discacciasti.
  Perchè il misero tronco, a cui m'affisse
    Il mio duro destino, ancor mi guasti?
  Dopo la morte gli avversarj tuoi,
  Crudel, ne' lor sepolcri offender vuoi?

  Clorinda fui: nè sol qui spirto umano
    Albergo in questa pianta rozza e dura;
  Ma ciascun altro ancor, Franco o Pagano,
    Che lassi i membri a piè dell'alte mura,
  Astretto è qui da novo incanto e strano,
    Non so s' io dica in corpo o in sepoltura.
  Son di sensi animati i rami e i tronchi;
  E micidial sei tu, se legno tronchi.

  Qual infermo talor, ch'in sogno scorge
    Drago, o cinta di fiamme alta Chimera,
  Sebben sospetta, o in parte anco s'accorge
    Che simulacro sia non forma vera,
  Pur desia di fuggir, tanto gli porge
    Spavento la sembianza orrida e fera:
  Tale il timido amante appien non crede
  Ai falsi inganni: e pur ne teme, e cede:

  E dentro il cor gli è in modo tal conquiso
    Da varj affetti, che s' agghiaccia e trema;
  E nel moto potente ed improvviso
    Gli cade il ferro: e 'l manco e in lui la tema.
  Va fuor di sè. Presente aver gli è avviso
    L' offesa donna sua, che plori e gema:
  Nè può soffrir di rimirar quel sangue,
  Nè quei gemiti udir d'egro che langue.

  Così quel contra morte audace core
    Nulla forma turbò d' alto spavento;
  Ma lui, che solo è fievole in amore,
    Falsa imago deluse e van lamento.
  Il suo caduto ferro instanto fuore
    Portò del bosco impetuoso vento,
  Sicchè vinto partissi; e in sulla strada
  Ritrovò poscia, e ripigliò la spada.

  Pur non tornò, né ritentando ardio
    Spiar di novo le cagioni ascose;
  E poi che, giunto al sommo Duce, unio
    Gli spirti alquanto, e l'animo compose,
  Incominciò: Signor, nunzio son io
    Di non credute e non credibil cose.
  Ciò che dicean dello spettacol fero,
  E del suon paventoso, è tutto vero.

  Maraviglioso foco indi m'apparse,
    Senza materia in un istante appreso;
  Che sorse, e, dilatando un muro farse
    Parve, e d' armati mostri esser difeso.
  Pur vi passai; che ne l'incendio m' arse,
    Nè dal ferro mi fu l'andar conteso:
  Vernò in quel punto, ed annottò: fe' il giorno
  E la serenità poscia ritorno.

  Di più dirò; ch'agli alberi dà vita
    Spirito uman, che sente e che ragiona.
  Per prova sollo: io n'ho la voce udita,
    Che nel cor flebilmente anco mi suona.
  Stilla sangue de' tronchi ogni ferita,
    Quasi di molle carne abbian persona.
  No, no, più non potrei (vinto mi chiamo)
  Nè corteccia scorzar, nè sveller ramo.

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