"Schiera gentil the pur adorna il mondo."
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 di lo prese."
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." 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."
He "scourges" ships at sea with tempests—say rather the "miserable seamen;" while night-time grows blacker and blacker on the "exasperated waters."
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."
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." 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." 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."
The great Galileo knew Ariosto nearly by heart.
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, "Haec me verbosas suasit perdiscere leges." De Diversis Amoribus.]
"Mio padre mi caccio con spiedi e lancie," &c.
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.]
"Gia mi fur dolci inviti," &c.
[Footnote 6: See, in the present volume, the beginning of Astolfo's Journey to the Moon.]
"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.]
"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 e 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.]
"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 potro," &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 praeclarum 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.]
"Apollo, tua merce, tua merce, 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.]
"Se avermi dato onde ogni quattro mesi Ho venticinque scudi, ne si 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 piu tosto ch'esser servo, Torro la povertade in pazienza"
[Footnote 19: Panizzi, vol. i. p. 29. The agreement itself is in Baruffaldi.]
[Footnote 20: See the lines before quoted, beginning" Apollo, tua merce."]
[Footnote 21: _Bibliographical Notices of Editions of
Ariosto_, prefixed to his first vol. p. 51.]
"La novita del loco e 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.]
"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.]
"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.]
"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."
"Il vin fumoso, a me vie piu interdetto Che 'l tosco, costi a inviti si tracanna, E sacrilegio e 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."
[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.]
"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 regret,
"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 e 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 Shakspeare?]
[Footnote 37: See vol. i. of the present work, pp. 30, 202, and 216.]
[Footnote 38: Baruffaldi, 1807; p. 105.]
"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 Selvaggio."]
[Footnote 40: "Chi vuole andare," &c. Satira iv.]
"Se Nicoletto o Fra Martin fan segno D' infedele o d' cretico, ne accuso Il saper troppo, e men con lor mi sdegno:
Perche salendo lo intelletto in suso Per veder Dio, non de' parerci strano Se talor cade giu cieco e confuso."
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 Niccolo 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 recitatavi Sara, se nol sapete, e la Cassaria, Ch'un altra volta, gia vent'anni passano, Veder si fece sopra questi pulpiti, Ed allora assai piacque a tutto il popolo, Ma non ne riposto gia degno premio, Che data in preda a gl'importuni ed avidi 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.]
"Le lacrime scendean tra gigli e rose, La dove avvien ch' alcune se 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.]
"Vengono e van, come onda al primo margo Quando piacevole aura il mar combatte."
Canto vii. st. 14.]
"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.]
ADVENTURES OF ANGELICA.
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.
ADVENTURES OF ANGELICA.
(CONTINUED BY ARIOSTO FROM BOIARDO.)
Part the First.
ANGELICA AND HER SUITORS.
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.
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.
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
Cosi voto nel mezo, the concede Fresca stanza fra l'ombre piu nascose: E la foglie coi rami in modo e 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. 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 astonishment.
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.
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. 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, 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 Riphaean mountains, far on the other side of the Frozen Sea.
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. 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.
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.
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 prize.
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.
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.
ANGELICA AND MEDORO.
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 heaven.
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 sword."
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.
"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.
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 friend.
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
"ANGELICA AND MEDORO"
written in as many different ways as true-lovers' knots could run.
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 them.
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.
PART THE THIRD
THE JEALOUSY OF ORLANDO.
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
"ANGELICA AND MEDORO."
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, 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.]
"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 qua e di la strani viaggi; Ch' ad ogni ombra veduta o in monte o in valle Temea Rinaldo aver sempre alle spalle."
Canto i. st. 33.]
"Ecco non lungi un bel cespuglio vede Di spin fioriti e di vermiglic rose, 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.
[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.]
"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 praefixo 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 Andromeda.]
"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 digressing.]
[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.]
"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 originates:
"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 AEneid. 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.]
"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.
* * * * *
ASTOLFO'S JOURNEY TO THE MOON.
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.
JOURNEY TO THE MOON
When the hippogriff loosened itself from the tree to which Ruggiero had tied it in the beautiful spot to which he descended with Angelica, 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 adventures.
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 AEneas 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."
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. 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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. 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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 time.
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 AEneas 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 —.  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 si santo ne 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, Ne 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.