"I am Clorinda," she said. "Thou knowest me? Then thou knowest, sir, one who is desirous to defend the good faith and the king of Jerusalem. I am ready for any duty that may be assigned me. I fear not the greatest, nor do I disdain the least. Open field or walled city, no post will come amiss to the king's servant."
"Illustrious maiden," answered the king, "who knoweth not Clorinda? What region is there so distant from Asia, or so far away out of the paths of the sun, to which the sound of thy achievements has not arrived? Joined by thee and by thy sword I fear nothing. Godfrey, methinks, is too slow to attack me. Dost thou ask to which post thou shalt be appointed? To the greatest. None else becomes thee. Thou art lady and mistress of the war."
Clorinda gave the king thanks for his courtesy, and then resumed. "Strange is it, in truth," she said, "to ask my reward before I have earned it; but confidence like this reassures me. Grant me, for what I propose to do in the good cause, the lives of these two persons. I wave the uncertainty of their offence; I wave the presumption of innocence afforded by their own behaviour. I ask their liberation as a favour. And yet it becomes me, at the same time, to confess, that I do not believe the Christians to have taken the image out of the mosque. It was an impious thing of the magician to put it there. An idol has no business in a Mussulman temple, much less the idols of unbelievers; and my opinion is, that the miracle was the work of Mahomet himself, out of scorn and hatred of the contamination. Let Ismeno prefer his craft, if he will, to the weapons of a man; but let him not take upon himself the defence of a nation of warriors."
The warlike damsel was silent; and the king, though he could with difficulty conquer his anger, yet did so, to please his guest. "They are free," said he; "I can deny nothing to such a petitioner. Whether it be justice or not to absolve them, absolved they are. If they are innocent, I pronounce them so; if guilty, I concede their pardon."
At these words the youth and the maiden were set free. And blissful indeed was the fortune of Olindo; for love, so proved as his, awoke love in the noble bosom of Sophronia; and so he passed from the stake to the marriage-altar, a husband, instead of a wretch condemned—a lover beloved, instead of a hopeless adorer.
[Footnote 1: "Brama assai, poco spera, e nulla chiede." Canto ii. st. 16. A line justly famous.]
"Magnanima menzogna! or quando e il vero Si bello, che si possa a te preporre?"]
[Footnote 3: This conceit is more dwelt upon in the original, coupled with the one noticed at p. 362.]
TANCRED AND CLORINDA.
The Mussulman Amazon Clorinda, who is beloved by the Christian chief Tancred, goes forth in disguise at night to burn the battering tower of the Christian army. She effects her purpose; but, in retreating from its discoverers, is accidentally shut out of the gate through which she had left the city. She makes her way into the open country, trusting to get in at one of the other gates; but, having been watched by Tancred, who does not know her in the armour in which she is disguised, a combat ensues between them, in which she is slain. She requests baptism in her last moments, and receives it from the hands of her despairing lover.
TANCRED AND CLORINDA
The Christians, in their siege of Jerusalem, had brought a huge rolling tower against the walls, from which they battered and commanded the city with such deadly effect, that the generous Amazon Clorinda resolved to go forth in disguise and burn it. She disclosed her design to the chieftain Argantes, for the purpose of recommending to him the care of her damsels, in case any misfortune should happen to her; but the warrior, jealous of the glory of such an enterprise, insisted on partaking it. The old king, weeping for gratitude, joyfully gave them leave; and the Soldan of Egypt, with a generous emulation, would fain have joined them. Argantes was about to give him a disdainful refusal, when the king interposed, and persuaded the Soldan to remain behind, lest the city should miss too many of its best defenders at one time; adding, that the risk of sallying forth should be his, in case the burners of the tower were pursued on their return. Argantes and the Amazon then retired to prepare for the exploit, and the magician Ismeno compounded two balls of sulphur for the work of destruction.
Clorinda took off her beautiful helmet, and her surcoat of cloth of silver, and laid aside all her haughty arms, and dressed herself (hapless omen!) in black armour without polish, the better to conceal herself from the enemy. Her faithful servant, the good old eunuch Arsetes, who had attended her from infancy, and was now following her about as well as he could with his accustomed zeal, anxiously noticed what she was doing, and guessing it was for some desperate enterprise, entreated her, by his white hairs and all the love he had shewn her, to give it up. Finding his prayers to no purpose, he requested with great emotion that she would give ear to certain matters in her family history, which he at length felt it his duty to disclose. "It would then," he said, "be for herself to judge, whether she would persist in the enterprise or renounce it." Clorinda, at this, looked at the good man, and listened with attention.
"Not long ago," said he, "there reigned in Ethiopia, and perhaps is still reigning, a king named Senapus, who in common with his people professed the Christian religion. They are a black though a handsome people, and the king and his queen were of the salve colour. The king loved her dearly, but was unfortunately so jealous, that he concealed her from the sight of mankind. Had it been in his power, I think he would have hindered the very eyes of heaven from beholding her. The sweet lady, however, was wise and humble, and did every thing she could to please him.
"I was not a Christian myself. I was a Pagan slave, employed among the women about the queen, and making one of her special attendants.
"It happened, that the royal bed-chamber was painted with the story of a holy knight saving a maiden from a dragon; and the maiden had a face beautifully fair, with blooming cheeks. The queen often prayed and wept before this picture; and it made so great an impression on her, particularly the maiden's face, that when she bore a child, she saw with consternation that the infant's skin was of the same fair colour. This child was thyself. 
"Terrified with the thoughts of what her husband would feel at such a sight, what a convincing proof he would hold it of a faith on her part the reverse of spotless, she procured a babe of her own colour by means of a confidant; and before thou wert baptised (which is a ceremony that takes place in Ethiopia later than elsewhere) committed thee to my care to be brought up at a distance. Who shall relate the tears which thy mother poured forth, and the sighs and sobs with which they were interrupted? How many times, when she thought she had given thee the last embrace, did she not gather thee to her bosom once more! At length, raising her eyes to heaven, she said, 'O Thou that seest into the hearts of mortals, and knowest in this matter the spotlessness of mine, dark though it be otherwise with frailty and with sin, save, I pray thee, this innocent creature who is denied the milk of its mother's breast. Vouchsafe that she resemble her hapless parent in nothing but a chaste life. And thou, celestial warrior, that didst deliver the maiden out of the serpent's mouth, if I have ever lit humble taper on thine altar, and set before thee offerings of gold and incense, be, I implore thee, her advocate. Be her advocate to such purpose, that in every turn of fortune she may be enabled to count on thy good help.' Here she ceased, torn to her very heart-strings, with a face painted of the colour of death; and I, weeping myself, received thee, and bore thee away, hidden in a sweet covering of flowers and leaves.
"I journeyed with thee along a forest, where a tiger came upon us with fury in its eyes. I betook me, alas, to a tree, and left thee lying on the ground, such terror was in me; and the horrible beast looked down upon thee. But it fell to licking thee with its dreadful tongue, and thou didst smile to it, and put thy little hand to its jaws; and, lo, it gave thee suck, being a mother itself; and then, wonderful to relate, it returned into the woods, leaving me to venture down from the tree, and bear thee onward to my place of refuge. There, in a little obscure cottage, I had thee nursed for more than a year; till, feeling that I grew old, I resolved to avail myself of the riches the queen had given me, and go into my own country, which was Egypt. I set out for it accordingly, and had to cross a torrent where thieves threatened me on one side, and the fierce water on the other. I plunged in, holding thee above the torrent with one hand, till I came to an eddy that tore thee from me. I thought thee lost. What was my delight and astonishment, on reaching the bank, to find that the water itself had tossed thee upon it in safety!
"But I had a dream at night, which seemed to shew me the cause of thy good fortune. A warrior appeared before me with a threatening countenance, holding a sword in my face, and saying in an imperious voice, 'Obey the commands of the child's mother and of me, and baptise it. She is favoured of Heaven, and her lot is in my keeping. It was I that put tenderness in the heart of the wild beast, and even a will to save her in the water. Woe to thee, if thou believest not this vision. It is a message from the skies.'
"The spirit vanished, and I awoke and pursued my journey; but thinking my own creed the true one, and therefore concluding the dream to be false, I baptised thee not; I bred thee what I was myself, a Pagan; and thou didst grow up, and become great and wonderful in arms, surpassing the deeds of men, and didst acquire riches and lands; and what thy life has been since, then knowest as well as I; ay, and thou knowest mine own ways too, how I have followed and cautiously waited on thee ever, being to thee both as a servant and father.
"Now yesterday morning, as I lay heavily asleep, in consequence of my troubled mind, the same figure of the warrior made its appearance, but with a countenance still more threatening, and speaking in a louder voice. 'Wretch,' it exclaimed, 'the hour is approaching when Clorinda shall end both her life and her belief. She is mine in despite of thee. Misery be thine.' With these words it darted away as though it flew.
"Consider then, delight of my soul, what these dreams may portend. They threaten thee terrible things; for what reason I know not. Can it be, that mine own faith is the wrong one, and that of thy parents the right? Ah! take thought at least, and repress this daring courage. Lay aside these arms that frighten me."
Tears hindered the old man from saying more. Clorinda grew thoughtful, and felt something of dread, for she had had a like kind of dream. At length, however, cheerfully looking up, she said, "I must follow the faith I was bred in; the faith which thou thyself bred'st me in, although thy words would now make me doubt it. Neither can I give up the enterprise that calls me forth. Such a withdrawal is not to be expected of an honourable soul. Death may put on the worst face it pleases. I shall not retreat."
The intrepid maiden, however, did her best to console her good friend; but the time having arrived for the adventure, she finally bade him be of good heart, and so left him.
Silently, and in the middle of the night, Argantes and Clorinda took their way down the hills of Jerusalem, and, quitting the gates, went stealthily towards the site of the tower. But its ever-watchful guards were alarmed. They demanded the watch-word; and, not receiving it, cried out, "To arms! to arms!" The dauntless adventurers plunged forwards with their swords; they dashed aside every assailant, pitched the balls of sulphur into the machine, and in a short time, in the midst of a daring conflict, had the pleasure of seeing the smoke and the flame arise, and the whole tower blazing to its destruction. A terrible sight it was to the Christians. Waked up, they came crowding to the place; and the two companions, notwithstanding their skill and audacity, were compelled to make a retreat. The besieged, with the king at their head, now arrived also, crowding on the walls; and the gate was opened to let the adventurers in. The Soldan issued forth at the same moment to cover the retreat. Argantes was forced through the gate by Clorinda in spite of himself; and she, but for a luckless antagonist, would have followed him; but a soldier aiming at her a last blow, she rushed back to give the man his death; and, in the confusion of the moment, the warders, believing her to have entered, shut up the gate, and the heroine was left without.
Behind Clorinda was the gate—before and round about her was a host of foes; and surely at that moment she thought that her life was drawing to its end. Finding, however, that her dark armour befriended her in the tumult, she mingled with the enemy as though she had been one of themselves, and so, by degrees, picked her way through the confusion caused by the fire. As the wolf, with its bloody mouth, seeks covert in the woods, even so Clorinda got clear out of the multitude into the darkness and the open country.
Not, however, so clear, alas, but that Tancred perceived her—Tancred, her foe in creed, but her adoring lover, whose heart she had conquered in the midst of strife, and whose passion for her she knew. But now she knew not that he had seen her; nor did he, poor valiant wretch, know that the knight in black armour whom he pursued, was a woman, and Clorinda. Tancred had seen the warrior strike down the assailant at the gate; he had watched him as he picked his way to escape; and Clorinda now heard the unknown Tancred coming swiftly on horseback behind her as she was speeding round towards another gate in hopes of being let in.
The heroine at length turned, and said, "How now, friend?—what is thy business?"
"Death!" answered the pursuer.
"Thou shalt have it," replied the maiden.
The knight, as his enemy was on foot, dismounted, in order to render the combat equal; and their swords are drawn in fury, and the fight begins.
Worthy of the brightest day-time was that fight—worthy of a theatre full of valiant be-holders. Be not displeased, O. Night! that I draw it out of thy bosom, and set it in the serene light of renown: the splendour will but the more exhibit the great shade of thy darkness.
No trial was this of skill—no contest of warding and traversing and taking heed—no artful interchange of blows now pretended, now given in earnest, now glancing. Night-time and rage flung aside all consideration. The swords horribly clashed and hammered on one another. Not a cut descended in vain—not a thrust was without substance. Shame and fury aggravated one another. Every blow became fiercer than the last. They closed—they could use their blades no longer; they dashed the pummels of their swords at one another's faces; they butted and shouldered with helm and buckler. Three times the man threw his arms round the woman with other embraces than those of love—three times they returned to their swords, and cut and slashed one another's bleeding bodies; till at length they were obliged to hold back for the purpose of taking breath.
Tancred and Clorinda stood fronting one another in the darkness, leaning on their swords for want of strength. The last star in the heavens was fading in the tinge of dawn; and Tancred saw that his enemy had lost more blood than himself, and it made him proud and joyful. Oh, foolish mind of us humans, elated at every fancy of success! Poor wretch! for what dost thou rejoice? How sad will be thy victory! What a misery to look back upon, thy delight! Every drop of that blood will be paid for with worlds of tears!
Dimly thus looking at one another stood the combatants, bleeding a while in peace. At length Tancred, who wished to know his antagonist, said, "It hath been no good fortune of ours to be compelled thus to fight where nobody can behold us; but we have at least become acquainted with the good swords of one another. Let me request, therefore (if to request any thing at such a time be not unbecoming), that I may be no stranger to thy name. Permit me to learn, whatever be the result, who it is that shall honour my death or my victory."
"I am not accustomed," answered the fierce maiden, "to disclose who I am; nor shall I disclose it now. Suffice to hear, that thou seest before thee one of the burners of the tower."
Tancred was exasperated at this discovery. "In an evil moment," cried he, "hast thou said it. Thy silence and thy speech alike disgust me." Into the combat again they dash, feeble as they were. Ferocious indeed is the strife in which skill is not thought of, and strength itself is dead; in which valour rages instead of contends, and feebleness becomes hate and fury. Oh, the gates of blood that were set open in wounds upon wounds! If life itself did not come pouring forth, it was only because scorn withheld it.
As in the AEgean Sea, when the south and north winds have lost the violence of their strength, the billows do not subside nevertheless, but retain the noise and magnitude of their first motion; so the continued impulse of the combatants carried them still against one another, hurling them into mutual injury, though they had scarcely life in their bodies.
And now the fatal hour has come when Clorinda must die. The sword of Tancred is in her bosom to the very hilt. The stomacher under the cuirass which enclosed it is filled with a hot flood.
Her legs give way beneath her. She falls—she feels that she is departing. The conqueror, with a still threatening countenance, prepares to follow up his victory, and treads on her as she lies.
But a new spirit had come upon her—the spirit which called the beloved of Heaven to itself; and, speaking in a sorrowing voice, she thus uttered her last words:
"My friend, thou hast conquered—I forgive thee. Forgive thou me, not for my body's sake, which fears nothing, but for the sake, alas, of my soul. Baptise me, I beseech thee."
There was something in the voice, as the dying person spake these words, that went, he knew not why, to the heart of Tancred. The tears forced themselves into his eyes. Not far off there was a little stream, and the conqueror went to it and filled his helmet; and returning, prepared for the pious office by unlacing his adversary's helmet. His hands trembled when he first beheld the forehead, though he did not yet know it; but when the vizor was all down, and the face disclosed, he remained without speech and motion.
Oh, the sight! oh, the recognition!
He did not die. He summoned up all the powers within him to support his heart for that moment. He resolved to hold up his duty above his misery, and give life with the sweet water to her whom he had slain with sword. He dipped his fingers in it, and marked her forehead with the cross, and repeated the words of the sacred office; and while he was repeating them, the sufferer changed countenance for joy, and smiled, and seemed to say, in the cheerfulness of her departure, "The heavens are opening—I go in peace." A paleness and a shade together then came over her countenance, as if lilies had been mixed with violets. She looked up at heaven, and heaven itself might be thought for very tenderness to be looking at her; and then she raised a little her hand towards that of the knight (for she could not speak), and so gave it him in sign of goodwill; and with his pressure of it her soul passed away, and she seemed asleep.
But Tancred no sooner beheld her dead, than all the strength of mind which he had summoned up to support him fell flat on the instant. He would have given way to the most frantic outcries; but life and speech seemed to be shut up in one point in his heart; despair seized him like death, and he fell senseless beside her. And surely he would have died indeed, had not a party of his countrymen happened to come up. They were looking for water, and had found it, and they discovered the bodies at the same time. The leader knew Tancred by his arms. The beautiful body of Clorinda, though he deemed her a Pagan, he would not leave exposed to the wolves; so he directed them both to be carried to the pavilion of Tancred, and there placed in separate chambers.
Dreadful was the waking of Tancred—not for the solemn whispering around him—not for his aching wounds, terrible as they were,—but for the agony of the recollection that rushed upon him. He would have gone staggering out of the pavilion to seek the remains of his Clorinda, and save them from the wolves; but his friends told him they were at hand, under the curtain of his own tent. A gleam of pleasure shot across his face, and be staggered into the chamber; but when he beheld the body gored with his own hand, and the face, calm indeed, but calm like a pale night without stars, he trembled so, that he would have sunk to the ground but for his supporters.
"O sweet face!" he exclaimed; "thou mayst be calm now; but what is to calm me? O hand that was held up to me in sign of peace and forgiveness! to what have I brought thee? Wretch that I am, I do not even weep. Mine eyes are as cruel as my hands. My blood shall be shed instead."
And with these words he began tearing off the bandages which the surgeons had put upon him; and he thrust his fingers into his wounds, and would have slain himself thus outright, had not the pain made him faint away.
He was then taken back to his own chamber. Godfrey came in the mean time with the venerable hermit Peter; and when the sufferer awoke, they addressed him in kind words, which even his impatience respected; but it was not to be calmed till the preacher put on the terrors of religion, remonstrating with him as an ingrate to God, and threatening him with the doom of a sinner. The tears then crept into his eyes, and he tried to be patient, and in some degree was so—only breaking out ever and anon, now into exclamations of horror, and now into fond lamentations, talking as if with the shade of his beloved.
Thus lay Tancred for days together, ever woful; till, falling asleep one night towards the dawn, the shade of Clorinda did indeed appear to him, more beautiful than ever, and clad in light and joy. She seemed to stoop and wipe the tears from his eyes; and then said, "Behold how happy I am. Behold me, O beloved friend, and see how happy, and bright, and beautiful I am; and consider that it is all owing to thyself. 'Twas thou that took'st me out of the false path, and made me worthy of admission among saints and angels. There, in heaven, I love and rejoice; and there I look to see thee in thine appointed time; after which we shall both love the great God and one another for ever and ever. Be faithful, and command thyself, and look to the end; for, lo, as far as it is permitted to a blessed spirit to love mortality, even now I love thee!"
With these words the eyes of the vision grew bright beyond mortal beauty; and then it turned and was hidden in the depth of its radiance, and disappeared.
Tancred slept a quiet sleep; and when he awoke, he gave himself patiently up to the will of the physician; and the remains of Clorinda were gathered into a noble tomb.
[Footnote 1: St. George.]
[Footnote 2: This fiction of a white Ethiop child is taken from the Greek romance of Heliodorus, book the fourth. The imaginative principle on which it is founded is true to physiology, and Tasso had a right to use it; but the particular and excessive instance does not appear happy in the eyes of a modern reader acquainted with the history of albinos.]
[Footnote 3: The conceit is more antithetically put in the original
"Ch'egli avria del candor che in te si vede Argomentato in lei non bianca fede."
Canto xii. st. 24.]
[Footnote 4: The poet here compares his hero and heroine to two jealous
"bulls," no happy comparison certainly.
"Vansi a ritrovar non altrimenti Che duo tori gelosi." St. 53.]
"Qual l'alto Egeo, perche Aquilone o Noto Cessi, che tutto prima il volse e scosse, Non s'accheta pero, ma 'l suono e 'l moto Ritien de l'onde anco agitate e grosse; Tal, se ben manca in lor col sangue voto Quel vigor che le braccia ai colpi mosse, Serbano ancor l'impeto primo, e vanno Da quel sospinti a giunger danno a danno." Canto xii. st. 63.]
[Footnote 6: This tomb, Tancred says, in an address which he makes to it,
"has his flames inside of it, and his tears without:" "Che dentro hai le mie fiamme, e fuori il pianto." St. 96.]
I am loath to disturb the effect of a really touching story; but if I do not occasionally give instances of these conceits, my translations will belie my criticism.]
RINALDO AND ARMIDA:
ADVENTURES OF THE ENCHANTED FOREST.
PART I.—Satan assembles the fiends in council to consider the best means of opposing the Christians. Armida, the niece of the wizard king of Damascus, is incited to go to their camp under false pretences, and endeavour to weaken it; which she does by seducing away many of the knights, and sowing a discord which ends in the flight of Rinaldo.
PART II.—Armida, after making the knights feel the power of her magic, dismisses them bound prisoners for Damascus. They are rescued on their way by Rinaldo. Armida pursues him in wrath, but falls in love with him.
PART III.—The magician Ismeno succeeds in frightening the Christians in their attempt to cut wood from the Enchanted Forest. Rinaldo is sent for, as the person fated to undo the enchantment.
PART IV.—Rinaldo and Armida, in love with each other, pass their time in a bower of bliss. He is fetched away by two knights, and leaves her in despair.
PART V.—Rinaldo disenchants the forest, and has the chief hand in the taking of Jerusalem. He meets and reconciles Armida. RINALDO AND ARMIDA, ETC.
Part the First
ARMIDA IN THE CHRISTIAN CAMP.
The Christians had now commenced their attack on Jerusalem, and brought a great rolling tower against the walls, built from the wood of a forest in the neigbbourhood; when the Malignant Spirit, who has never ceased his war with Heaven, cast in his mind how he might best defeat their purpose. It was necessary to divide their forces; to destroy their tower; to hinder them from building another; and to make one final triumphant effort against the whole progress of their arms.
Forgetting how the right arm of God could launch its thunderbolts, the Fiend accordingly seated himself on his throne, and ordered his powers to be brought together. The Tartarean trumpet, with its hoarse voice, called up the dwellers in everlasting darkness. The huge black caverns trembled to their depths, and the blind air rebellowed with the thunder. The bolt does not break forth so horribly when it comes bursting after the flash out of the heavens; nor had the world before ever trembled with such an earthquake.
The gods of the abyss came thronging up on all sides through the gates;—terrible-looking beings with unaccountable aspects, dispensers of death and horror with their eyes;—some stamping with hoofs, some rolling on enormous spires,—their faces human, their hair serpents. There were thousands of shameless Harpies, of pallid Gorgons, of barking Scyllas, of Chimeras that vomited ashes, and of monsters never before heard or thought of, with perverse aspects all mixed up in one.
The Power of Evil sat looking down upon them, huger than a rock in the sea, or an alp with forked summits. A certain horrible majesty augmented the terrors of his aspect. His eyes reddened; his poisonous look hung in the air like a comet; the mouth, as it opened in the midst of clouds of beard, seemed an abyss of darkness and blood; and out of it, as from a volcano, issued fires, and vapours, and disgust.
Satan laid forth to his dreadful hearers his old quarrel with Heaven, and its new threats of an extension of its empire. Christendom was to be brought into Asia; their worshippers were to perish; souls were to be rescued from their devices, and Satan's kingdom on earth put an end to. He exhorted them therefore to issue forth once for all and prevent this fatal consummation by the destruction of the Christian forces. Some of the leaders he bade them do their best to disperse, others to slay, others to draw into effeminate pleasures, into rebellion, into the ruin of the whole camp, so that not a vestige might remain of its existence.
The assembly broke up with the noise of hurricanes. They issued forth to look once more upon the stars, and to sow seeds every where of destruction to the Christians. Satan himself followed them, and entered the heart of Hydraotes, king of Damascus.
Hydraotes was a wizard as well as a king, and held the Christians in abhorrence. But he was wise enough to respect their valour; and with Satan's help he discerned the likeliest way to counteract it. He had a niece, who was the greatest beauty of the age. He had taught her his art: and he concluded, that the enchantments of beauty and magic united would prove irresistible. He therefore disclosed to her his object. He told her that every artifice was lawful, when the intention was to serve one's country and one's faith; and he conjured her to do her utmost to separate Godfrey himself from his army, or in the event of that not being possible, to bring away as many as she could of his noblest captains.
Armida (for that was her name), proud of her beauty, and of the unusual arts that she had acquired, took her way the same evening, alone, and by the most sequestered paths,—a female in gown and tresses issuing forth to conquer an army.
She had not travelled many days ere she came in sight of the Christian camp, the outskirts of which she entered immediately. The Frenchmen all flocked to see her, wondering who she was, and who could have sent them so lovely a messenger. Armida passed onwards, not with a misgiving air, not with an unalluring, and yet not with an immodest one. Her golden tresses she suffered at one moment to escape from under her veil, and at another she gathered them again within it. Her rosy mouth breathed simplicity as well as voluptuousness. Her bosom was so artfully draped, as to let itself be discerned without seeming to intend it. And thus she passed along, surprising and transporting every body. Coming at length among the tents of the officers, she requested to be shewn that of the leader; and Eustace eagerly stepped forward to conduct her.
Eustace was the younger brother of Godfrey. He had all the ardour of his time of life, and the gallantry, in every respect, of a Frenchman. After paying her a profusion of compliments, and learning that she was a fugitive in distress, he promised her every thing which his brother's authority and his own sword could do for her; and so led her into Godfrey's presence.
The pretended fugitive made a lowly obeisance, and then stood mute and blushing, till the general re-assured her. She then told him, that she was the rightful queen of Damascus, whose throne was usurped by an uncle; that her uncle sought her death, from which she had been saved by the man who was bribed to inflict it; and that although her creed was Mahometan, she had brought her mind to conclude, that so noble an enemy as Godfrey would take pity on her condition, and permit some of his captains to aid the secret wishes of her people, and seat her on the throne. Ten selected chiefs would overcome, she said, all opposition; and she promised in return to become his grateful and faithful vassal.
The leader of the Christian army sat a while in deliberation. His heart was inclined to befriend the lady, but his prudence was afraid of a Pagan artifice. He thought also that it did not become his piety to turn aside from the enterprise which God had favoured. He therefore gave her a gentle refusal; but added, that should success attend him, and Jerusalem be taken, he would instantly do what she required.
Armida looked down, and wept. A mixture of indignation and despair appeared to seize her; and exclaiming that she had no longer a wish to live, she accused, she said, not a heart so renowned for generosity as his, but Heaven itself which had steeled it against her. What was she to do? She could not remain in his camp. Virgin modesty forbade that. She was not safe out of its bounds. Her enemies tracked her steps. It was fit that she should die by her own hand.
An indignant pity took possession of the French officers. They wondered how Godfrey could resist the prayers of a creature so beautiful; and Eustace openly, though respectfully, remonstrated. He said, that if ten of the best of his captains could not be spared, ten others might; that it especially became the Christians to redress the wrongs of the innocent; that the death of a tyrant, instead of being a deviation from the service of God, was one of the directest means of performing it; and that France would never endure to hear, that a lady had applied to her knights for assistance, and found her suit refused.
A murmur of approbation followed the words of Eustace. His companions pressed nearer to the general, and warmly urged his request.
Godfrey assented to a wish expressed by so many, but not with perfect goodwill. He bade them remember, that the measure was the result of their own opinion, not his; and concluded by requesting them at all events, for his sake, to moderate the excess of their confidence. The transported warriors had scarcely any answer to make but that of congratulations to the lady. She, on her side, while mischief was rejoicing in her heart, first expressed her gratitude to all in words intermixed with smiles and tears, and then carried herself towards every one in particular in the manner which she thought most fitted to ensnare. She behaved to this person with cordiality, to that with comparative reserve; to one with phrases only, to another with looks besides, and intimations of secret preference. The ardour of some she repressed, but still in a manner to rekindle it. To others she was all gaiety and attraction; and when others again had their eyes upon her, she would fall into fits of absence, and shed tears, as if in secret, and then look up suddenly and laugh, and put on a cheerful patience. And thus she drew them all into her net.
Yet none of all these men confessed that passion impelled them; every body laid his enthusiasm to the account of honour—Eustace particularly, because he was most in love. He was also very jealous, especially of the heroical Rinaldo, Prince of Este; and as the squadron of horse to which they both belonged—the greatest in the army—had lately been deprived of its chief, Eustace cast in his mind how he might keep Rinaldo from going with Armida, and at the same time secure his own attendance on her, by advancing him to the vacant post. He offered his services to Rinaldo for the purpose, not without such emotion as let the hero into his secret; but as the latter had no desire to wait on the lady, he smilingly assented, agreeing at the same time to assist the wishes of the lover. The emissaries of Satan, however, were at work in all quarters. If Eustace was jealous of Rinaldo as a rival in love, Gernando, Prince of Norway, another of the squadron that had lost its chief, was no less so of his gallantry in war, and of his qualifications for being his commander. Gernando was a haughty barbarian, who thought that every sort of pre-eminence was confined to princes of blood royal. He heard of the proposal of Eustace with a disgust that broke into the unworthiest expressions. He even vented it in public, in the open part of the camp, when Rinaldo was standing at no great distance; and the words coming to the hero's ears, and breaking down the tranquillity of his contempt, the latter darted towards him, sword in hand, and defied him to single combat. Gernando beheld death before him, but made a show of valour, and stood on his defence. A thousand swords leaped forth to back him, mixed with as many voices; and half the camp of Godfrey tried to withhold the impetuous youth who was for deciding his quarrel without the general's leave. But the hero's transport was not to be stopped; he dashed through them all, forced the Norwegian to encounter him, and after a storm of blows that dazzled the man's eyes and took away his senses, ran his sword thrice through the prince's body. He then sent the blade into its sheath reeking as it was, and, taking his way back to his tent, reposed in the calmness of his triumph.
The victor had scarcely gone, when the general arrived on the ground. He beheld the slain Prince of Norway with acute feelings of regret. What was to become of his army, if the leaders thus quarrelled among themselves, and his authority was set at nought? The friends of the slain man increased his anger against Rinaldo, by charging him with all the blame of the catastrophe. The hero's friend, Tancred, assuaged it somewhat by disclosing the truth, and then ventured to ask pardon for the outbreak. But the wise commander skewed so many reasons why such an offence could not be overlooked, and his countenance expressed such a determination to resent it, that the gallant youth hastened secretly to his friend, and urged him to quit the camp till his services should be needed. Rinaldo at first called for his arms, and was bent on resisting every body who came to seize him, had it been even Godfrey himself; but Tancred shewing him how unjust that would be, and how fatal to the Christian cause, he consented with an ill grace to depart. He would take nobody with him but two squires; and he went away raging with a sense of ill requital for his achievements, but resolving to prove their value by destroying every infidel prince that he could encounter.
Armida now tried in vain to make an impression on the heart of Godfrey. He was insensible to all her devices; but she succeeded in quitting the camp with her ten champions. Lots were drawn to determine who should go; and all who failed to be in the list—Eustace among them—were so jealous of the rest, that at night-time, after the others had been long on the road, they set out to overtake them, each by himself, and all in violation of their soldierly words. The ten opposed them as they came up, but to no purpose. Armida reconciled them all in appearance, by feigning to be devoted to each in secret; and thus she rode on with them many a mile, till she came to a castle on the Dead Sea, where she was accustomed to practise her unfriendliest arts.
Meanwhile news came to Godfrey that his Egyptian enemies were at hand with a great fleet, and that his caravan of provisions had been taken by the robbers of the desert. His army was thus threatened with ruin from desertion, starvation, and the sword. He maintained a calm and even a cheerful countenance; but in his thoughts he had great anxiety.
Part the Second.
ARMIDA'S HATE AND LOVE.
The castle to which Armida took her prisoners occupied an island close to the shore in the loathsome Dead Sea. They entered it by means of a narrow bridge; but if their pity had been great at seeing her forced to take refuge in a spot so desolate and repulsive, how pleasingly was it changed into as great a surprise at finding a totally different region within the walls! The gardens were extensive and lovely; the rivulets and fountains as sweet as the flowery thickets they watered; the breezes refreshing, the skies of a sapphire blue, and the birds were singing round about them in the trees. Her riches astonished them no less. The side of the castle that looked on the gardens was all marble and gold; a banquet awaited them beside a water on a shady lawn, consisting of the exquisitest viands on the costliest plate; and a hundred beautiful maidens attended them while they feasted. The enchantress was all smiles and delight; and such was her art, that although she bestowed no favour on any body beyond his banquet and his hopes, every body thought himself the favoured lover.
But no sooner was the feast over, than the greatest and worst of their astonishments ensued. The lady quitted them, saying she should return presently. She did so with a troubled and unfriendly countenance, having a book in one hand, and a little wand in the other. She read in the book in a low voice, and while she was reading shook the little wand; and the guests, altering in every part of their being, and shrinking into minute bodies, felt an inclination, which they obeyed, to plunge into the water beside them. They were fish. In a little while they were again men, looking her in the face with dread and amazement. She had restored them to their humanity. She regarded them with a severe countenance, and said "You have tasted my power; I can exercise it far more terribly—can put you in dungeons for ever—can turn you to roots in the ground—to flints within the rock. Beware of my wrath, and please me; quit your faiths for mine, and fight against the blasphemer Godfrey."
Every Christian but one rejected her alternative with abhorrence. Him she made one of her champions; the rest were tied and bound, and after being kept a while in a dungeon were sent off as a present to the King of Egypt, with an escort that came from Damascus to fetch them.
Exulting was left the fair and bigoted magician; but she little guessed what a new fortune awaited them on the road. The discord with which the powers of evil had seconded her endeavours to weaken the Christian camp, had turned in this instance against herself. It had made Rinaldo a wanderer; it had brought his wanderings into this very path; and he now met the prisoners, and bade defiance to the escort. A battle ensued, in which the hero won his accustomed victory. The Christians, receiving the armour of their foes, joyfully took their way back to the camp; and one of the escort, who escaped the slaughter, returned to Armida with news of the deliverance of her captives.
The mortified enchantress took horse and went in pursuit of Rinaldo, with wrath and vengeance in her heart. She tracked him from place to place, till she knew he must arrive on the banks of the Orontes; and there, making a stealthy circuit, she cast a spell, and lay in wait for him in a little island which divided the stream in two.
Rinaldo came up with his squires; he beheld on the bank a pillar of white marble, and beside it on the water a little boat. The pillar presented an inscription, inviting travellers to cross to the island and behold a wonder of the world. The hero accepted the invitation; but as the boat was too small to hold more than one person, and the circumstance probably an appeal to his courage, he bade his squires wait for him, and proceeded by himself.
On reaching the island and casting his eyes eagerly round about, the adventurer could discern nothing but trees and grottos, flowers and grass, and water. He thought himself trifled with; but as the spot was beautiful and refreshing, he took off his helmet, resolving to stay a little and repose. He crossed to the farther side of the island, and lay down on the river-side. On a sudden he observed the water bubble and gurgle in a manner that was very strange; and presently the top of a head arose with beautiful hair, then the face of a damsel, then the bosom. The fair creature stood half out of the stream, and warbled a song so luxurious and so lulling, that the little wind there was seemed to fall in order to listen; and the young warrior was so drowsed with the sweetness, that languor crept through all his senses, and he slept. Armida came from out a thicket and looked on him. She had resolved that he should perish. But when she saw how placidly he breathed, and what an intimation of beautiful eyes there was in his very eyelids, she hung over him, still looking.
In a little while she sat down by his side, always looking. She hung over him as Narcissus did over the water, and indignation melted out of her heart. She cooled his face with her veil; she made a fan of it; she gave herself up to the worship of those hidden eyes. Of an enemy she became a lover.
Armida gathered trails of roses and lilies from the thickets around her, and cast a spell on them, and made bands with which she fettered his sleeping limbs; and then she called her nymphs, and they put him into her ear, and she went away with him through the air far off, even to one of the Fortunate Islands in the great ocean, where her jealousy, assisted by her art, would be in dread of no visitors, no discovery. She bore him to the top of a mountain, and cast a spell about the mountain, to make the top lovely and the sides inaccessible. She put shapes of wild beasts and monsters in the woods of the lowest region, and heaps of ice in the second, and alluring and betraying shapes and enchantments towards the summit; and round the summit she put walls and labyrinths of inextricable error; and in the heart of these was a palace by a lake, and the loveliest of gardens.
Mere Rinaldo was awaked by love and beauty; and here for the present he is left.
Part the Third.
THE TERRORS OF THE ENCHANTED FOREST.
Meantime the siege of the Holy City had gone on, with various success on either side, but chiefly to the loss of the Christians. The machinations of Satan were prevailing. Rinaldo, in his absence, was thought to have been slain by the contrivance of Godfrey, which nearly produced a revolt of the forces. Godfrey was himself wounded in battle by Clorinda: and now the great wooden tower was burnt, and Clorinda slain in consequence (as you have heard in another place), which oppressed the courage of Tancred with melancholy.
On the other hand, the Powers of Evil were far from being as prosperous as they wished. They had lost the soul of Clorinda. They had seen Godfrey healed by a secret messenger from Heaven, who dropt celestial balsam into his wound. They had seen the return of Armida's prisoners, who had arrived just in time to change the fortune of a battle, and drive the Pagans back within their walls. And worse than all, they had again felt the arm of St. Michael, who had threatened them with worse consequences if they reappeared in the contest.
The fiends, however, had colleagues on earth, who plotted for them meanwhile. The Christians had set about making another tower; but in this proceeding they were thwarted by the enchanter Ismeno, who cast his spells to better purpose this time than he had done in the affair of the stolen image. The forest in which the Christians obtained wood for these engines lay in a solitary valley, not far from the camp. It was very old, dark, and intricate; and had already an evil fame as the haunt of impure spirits. No shepherd ever took his flock there; no Pagan would cut a bough from it; no traveller approached it, unless he had lost his way: he made a large circuit to avoid it, and pointed it out anxiously to his companions.
The necessity of the Christians compelled them to defy this evil repute of the forest; and Ismeno hastened to oppose them. He drew his line, and uttered his incantations, and called on the spirits whom St. Michael had rebuked, bidding them come and take charge of the forest—every one of his tree, as a soul of its body. The spirits delayed at first, not only for dread of the great angel, but because they resented the biddings of mortality, even in their own cause. The magician, however, persisted; and his spells becoming too powerful to be withstood, presently they came pouring in by myriads, occupying the whole place, and rendering the very approach to it a task of fear and labour. The first party of men that came to cut wood were unable to advance when they beheld the trees, but turned like children, and became the mockery of the camp. Godfrey sent them back, with a chosen squadron to animate them to the work; but the squadron themselves, however boldly they affected to proceed, lead no sooner approached the spot, than they found reason to forgive the fears of the woodcutters. The earth shook; a great wind began rising, with a sound of waters; and presently, every dreadful noise ever heard by man seemed mingled into one, and advancing to meet them—roarings of lions, hissings of serpents, pealings and rolls of thunder. The squadron went back to Godfrey, and plainly confessed that it had not courage enough to enter such a place.
A leader, of the name of Alcasto, shook his head at this candour with a contemptuous smile. He was a man of the stupider sort of courage, without mind enough to conceive danger. "Pretty soldiers," exclaimed he, "to be afraid of noises and sights! Give the duty to me. Nothing shall stop Alcasto, though the place be the mouth of hell."
Alcasto went; and he went farther than the rest, and the trembling woodcutters once more prepared their axes; but, on a sudden, there sprang up between them and the trees a wall of fire which girded the whole forest. It had glowing battlements and towers; and on these there appeared armed spirits, with the strangest and most bewildering aspects. Alcasto retired—slowly indeed, but with shame and terror; nor had he the courage to re-appear before his commander. Godfrey had him brought, but could hardly get a word from his lips. The man talked like one in a dream.
At last Tancred went. He would have, gone before; but he had neither thought the task so difficult, nor did he care for any thing that was going forward. His mind was occupied with the dead Clorinda. He had now work that aroused him; and he set out in good earnest for the forest, not unmoved in his imagination, but resolved to defy all appearances.
Arrived at the wall of fire, Tancred halted a moment, and looked up at the visages on its battlements, not without alarm. Many reflections passed swiftly through his mind, some urging him forward, others withholding; but he concluded with stepping right through the fire. It did not resist him: he did not feel it.
The fire vanished; and, in its stead, there poured down a storm of hail and rain, black as midnight. This vanished also.
Tancred stood amazed for an instant, and then passed on. He was soon in the thick of the wood, and for some time made his way with difficulty. On a sudden, he issued forth into a large open glade, like an amphitheatre, in which there was nothing but a cypress-tree that stood in the middle. The cypress was marked with hieroglyphical characters, mixed with some words in the Syrian tongue which he could read; and these words requested the stranger to spare the fated place, nor trouble the departed souls who were there shut up in the trees. Meantime the wind was constantly moaning around it; and in the moaning was a sound of human sighs and tears.
Tancred's heart, for a moment, was overcome with awe and pity; but recollecting himself, and resolving to make amends for his credulity, he smote with all his might at the cypress. The blow, wonderful to see, produced an effusion of blood, which dyed the grass about the root. Tancred's hair stood on end. He smote, however, again, with double violence, resolving to see the end of the marvel; and then he heard a woful voice issuing as from a tomb.
"Hast thou not hurt me," it said, "Tancred, enough already? Hast thou slain the human body which I once joyfully inhabited; and now must thou cut and rend me, even in this wretched enclosure? My name was Clorinda. Every tree which thou beholdest is the habitation of some Christian or Pagan soul; for all come hither that are slain beneath the walls of the city, compelled by I know not what power, or for what reason. Every bough in the forest is alive; and when thou cuttest down a tree, thou slayest a soul."
As a sick man in a dream thinks, and yet thinks not, that he sees some dreadful monster, and, notwithstanding his doubt, wishes to fly from the horrible perplexity; so the trembling lover, though suspecting what he beheld, had so frightful an image before his thoughts of Clorinda weeping and wailing after death, and bleeding in her very soul, that he had not the heart to do more, or to remain in the place. He returned in bewildered sorrow to Godfrey, and told him all. "It is not in my power," he said, "to touch another bough of that forest."
The astonished leader of the Christians now made up his mind to go himself; and so, with prayer and valour united, bring this appalling adventure to some conclusion. But the hermit Peter dissuaded him. The holy man, in an ecstacy of foreknowledge, beheld the coming of the only champion fated to conclude it; and Godfrey himself the same night had a vision from heaven, bidding him grant the petition of those who should sue him next day for the recall of Rinaldo from exile—Rinaldo, the right hand of the army, as Godfrey was its head.
The petition was made as soon as daylight appeared; and two knights, Carlo and Ubaldo, were despatched in search of the fated hero.
Part the Fourth
THE LOVES OF RINALDO AND ARMIDA.
The knights, with information procured on the road from a good wizard, struck off for the sea-coast, and embarking in a pinnace which miraculously awaited them, sailed along the shores of the Mediterranean for the retreat of Armida. They saw the Egyptian army assembled at Gaza, but hoped to return with Rinaldo before it could effect anything at Jerusalem. They passed the mouths of the Nile, and Alexandria, and Cyrene, and Ptolemais, and the cities of the Moors, and the dangers of the Greater and Lesser Whirlpools, and their pilot showed them the spot where Carthage stood,—Carthage, now a dead city, whose grave is scarcely discernible. For cities die; kingdoms die;—a little sand and grass covers all that was once lofty in them and glorious. And yet man, forsooth, disdains that he is mortal! Oh, mind of ours, inordinate and proud!
After looking towards the site of Carthage, they passed Algiers, and Oran, and Tingitana, and beheld the opposite coast of Spain, and then they cleared the narrow sea of Gibraltar, and came out into the immeasurable ocean, leaving all sight of land behind them; and so speeding ever onward in the billows, they beheld at last a cluster of mountainous and beautiful islands; the larger ones inhabited by a simple people, the smaller quite wild and desolate. So at least they appeared. But in one of these smaller islands was the mountain, on the top of which, in the indulgence of every lawless pleasure, lay the champion of the Christian faith. This the pilot shewed to the two knights, and then steered the pinnace into its bay; and here, after a voyage of four days and nights, it dropped its sails without need of anchor, so mild and sheltered was the port, with natural moles curving towards the entrance, and evergreen woods overhead.
It was evening, with a beautiful sunset. The knights took leave of the pilot, and setting out instantly on their journey, well furnished with all advices how to proceed, slept that night at the foot of the mountain; for they were not to begin to scale it till sunrise. With the first beams of the sun they arose and ascended. They had not climbed far, when a serpent rushed out upon the path, entirely stopping it, but fled at the sound of a slender rod, which Ubaldo whisked as he advanced. A lion, for all his cavernous jaws, did the same; nor was greater resistance made by a whole herd of monsters. They now mounted with great labour the region of ice and snow; but, at the top of it, emerged from winter-time into summer. The air was full of sweet odours, yet fresh; they sauntered (for they could not walk fast) over a velvet sward, under trees, by the side of a shady river; and a bewitching pleasure began to invite their senses. But they knew the river, and bore in mind their duty. It was called the River of Laughter. A little way on, increasing in beauty as it went, it formed a lucid pool in a dell; and by the side of this pool was a table spread with every delicacy, and in the midst of it two bathing damsels, talking and laughing. Sometimes they sprinkled one another, then dived, then partly came up without spewing their faces, then played a hundred tricks, pretending all the while not to see the travellers. Then they became quiet, and sunk gently; and, as they reappeared, one of them rose half into sight, sweetly as the morning star when it issues from the water, dewy and dropping, or as Venus herself arose out of the froth of the sea. Such looked this damsel, and so did the crystal moisture go dropping from her tresses. Then she turned her eyes towards the travellers, and feigning to behold them for the first time, shrunk within herself. She hastened to undo the knot in which her tresses were tied up, and shook them round about her, and down they fell to the water thick and long, enclosing that beautiful sight; and yet the enclosure itself was not less beautiful. So, hid in the pool below, and in her tresses above, she glanced at the knights through her hair, with a blushing gladness. She blushed and she laughed at the same time; and the blushing was more beautiful for the laughter, and the laughter for the blushing; and then she said, in a voice which would alone have conquered any other hearers, "You are very happy to be allowed to come to this place. Nothing but delight is here. Our queen must have chosen you from a great number. But be pleased first to rid you of the dust of your journey, and to refresh yourselves at this table."
So spake the one; and the other accompanied her speech with accordant looks and gestures, as the dance accompanies the music.
Nor was the allurement unfelt.
But the companions passed on, taking no notice; and the bathers went sullenly under the water.
The knights passed through the gates of the park of Armida, and entered a labyrinth made with contrivance the most intricate. Here their path would have been lost, but for a map traced by one who knew the secret. By the help of this they threaded it in safety, and issued upon a garden beautiful beyond conception. Every thing that could be desired in gardens was presented to their eyes in one landscape, and yet without contradiction or confusion,—flowers, fruits, water, sunny hills, descending woods, retreats into corners and grottos: and what put the last loveliness upon the scene was, that the art which did it all was no where discernible. You might have supposed (so exquisitely was the wild and the cultivated united) that all had somehow happened, not been contrived. It seemed to be the art of Nature herself; as though, in a fit of playfulness, she had imitated her imitator. But the temperature of the place, if nothing else, was plainly the work of magic, for blossoms and fruit abounded at the same time. The ripe and the budding fig grew on the same bough; green apples were clustered upon those with red cheeks; the vines in one place had small leaves and hard little grapes, and in the next they laid forth their richest tapestry in the sun, heavy with bunches full of wine. At one time you listened to the warbling of birds; and a minute after, as if they had stopped on purpose, nothing was heard but the whispering of winds and the fall of waters. It seemed as if every thing in the place contributed to the harmony and the sweetness. The notes of the turtle-dove were deeper here than any where else; the hard oak, and the chaste laurel, and the whole exuberant family of trees, the earth, the water, every element of creation, seemed to have been compounded but for one object, and to breathe forth the fulness of its bliss.
The two messengers, hardening their souls with all their might against the enchanting impression, moved forward silently among the trees; till, looking through the branches into a little opening which formed a bower, they saw—or did they but think they saw?—no, they saw indeed the hero and his Armida reclining on the grass. Her dress was careless, her hair loose in the summer-wind. His head lay in her bosom; a smile trembled on her lips and in her eyes, like a sunbeam in water; and as she thus looked on him with passionate love, he looked up at her, face to face, and returned it with all his soul.
Now she kissed his lips, now his eyes; and then they looked again at one another with their ever-hungry looks; and then she kissed him again, and he gave a sigh so deep you would have thought his soul had gone out of him, and passed into hers. The two warriors from their covert gazed on the loving scene.
At the lover's side there hung a strange accoutrement for a warrior, namely, a crystal mirror. He rose a little on his elbow, and gave it into Armida's hands: and in two different objects each beheld but one emotion, she hers in the glass, and he his own in her eyes. But he would not suffer her to look long at any thing but himself; and then they spake loving and adoring words; and after a while Armida bound up her hair, and put some flowers into it, as jewels might be put upon gold, and added a rose or two to the lilies of her bosom, and adjusted her veil. And never did peacock look so proudly beautiful when he displays the pomp of his eyed plumes; nor was ever the rainbow so sweetly coloured when it curves forth its dewy bosom against the light. But lovely above all was the effect of a magic girdle which the enchantress had made with her whole art, and which she never laid aside day or night. Spirit in it had taken substance; the subtlest emotions of the soul a shape and palpability. Tender disdains were in it, and repulses that attracted, and levities that endeared, and contentments full of joy, and smiles, and little words, and drops of delicious tears, and short-coming sighs, and soft kisses. All these she had mingled together, and made one delight out of many, and wound it about her heart, and wore it for a charm irresistible.
And now she kissed him once more, and begged leave of a little absence (for love is courteous ever), and so went as usual to her books and her magic arts. Rinaldo remained where he was, for he had no power to wish himself out of the sweet spot; only he would stray a while among the trees, and amuse himself with the birds and squirrels, and so be a loving hermit till she returned. And at night they retired under one roof, still in the midst of the garden.
But no sooner had Armida gone, than the two warriors issued from their hiding-place, and stood before the lover, glittering in their noble arms.
As a war-horse, that has been taken from the wars, and become the luxurious husband of the stud, wanders among the drove in the meadows in vile enjoyment; should by chance a trumpet be heard in the place, or a dazzling battle-axe become visible, he turns towards it on the instant, and neighs, and longs to be in the lists, and vehemently desires the rider on his back who is to dash and be dashed at in the encounter;—even so turned the young hero when the light of the armour flashed upon him, even so longed for the war, even so shook himself up out of his bed of pleasure, with all his great qualities awaked and eager.
Ubaldo saw the movement in his heart, and held right in his face the shield of adamant, which had been brought for the purpose. It was a mirror that shewed to the eyes of every one who looked into it the very man as he was.
But when Rinaldo beheld himself indeed,—when he read his transformation, not in the flattering glass of the enchantress, but by the light of this true, and simple, and severe reflector,—his hair tricked out with flowers and unguents, his soft mantle of exquisitest dye, and his very sword rendered undistinguishable for what it was by a garland,—shame and remorse fell upon him. He felt indeed like a dreamer come to himself. He looked down. He could not speak. He wished to hide himself in the bottom of the sea.
Ubaldo raised his voice and spoke. "All Europe and Asia," said he, "are in arms. Whoever desires fame, or is a worshipper of his Saviour, is a fighter in the land of Syria. Thou only, O son of Bertoldo, remainest out of the high way of renown—in luxury—in a little corner; thou only, unmoved with the movement of the world, the champion of a girl. What dream, what lethargy can have drowned a valour like thine? What vileness have had attraction for thee? Up, up, and with us. The camp, the commander himself calls for thee; fortune and victory await thee. Come, fated warrior, and finish thy work; see the false creed which thou hast shaken, laid low beneath thy inevitable sword."
On hearing these words the noble youth remained for a time without speaking, without moving. At length shame gave way to a passionate sense of his duty. With a new fire in his cheeks, he tore away the effeminate ornaments of his servitude, and quitted the spot without a word. In a few moments he had threaded the labyrinth: he was outside the gate. Ere long he was descending the mountain.
But meantime Armida had received news of the two visitors; and coming to look for them, and casting her eyes down the steep, she beheld—with his face, alas, turned no longer towards her own—the hasty steps of her hero between his companions. She wished to cry aloud, but was unable. She might have resorted to some of her magic devices, but her heart forbade her. She ran, however—for what cared she for dignity?—she ran down the mountain, hoping still by her beauty and her tears to arrest the fugitive; but his feet were too strong, even for love: she did not reach him till he had arrived on the sea-shore. Where was her pride now? where the scorn she had exhibited to so many suitors? where her coquetry and her self-sufficiency—her love of being loved, with the power to hate the lover? The enchantress was now taught what the passion was, in all its despair as well as delight. She cried aloud. She cared not for the presence of the messengers. "Oh, go not, Rinaldo," she cried; "go not, or take me with thee. My heart is torn to pieces. Take me, or turn and kill me. Stop, at least, and be cruel to me here. If thou hast the heart to fly me, it will not be hard to thee to stay and be unkind."
Even the messengers were moved at this, or seemed to be moved. Ubaldo told the fugitive that it would be heroical in him to wait and hear what the lady had to say, with gentleness and firmness.
His conquest over himself would then be complete.
Rinaldo stopped, and Armida came up breathless and in tears—lovelier than ever. She looked earnestly at him at first, without a word. He gave her but a glance, and looked aside.
As a fine singer, before he lets loose his tongue in the lofty utterance of his emotion, prepares the minds of his hearers with some sweet prelude, exquisitely modulating in a lower tone,—so the enchantress, whose anguish had not deprived her of all sense of her art, breathed a few sighs to dispose the soul of her idol to listen, and then said: "I do not beg thee to hear me as one that loves me. We both loved once; but that is over. I beg thee to hear, even though as one that loves me not. It will cost thy disdain nothing to grant me that. Perhaps thou hast discovered a pleasure in hating me. Do so. I come not to deprive thee of it. If it seem just to thee, just let it be. I too once hated. I hated the Christians—hated even thyself. I thought it right to do so: I was bred up to think it. I pursued thee to do thee mischief; I overtook thee; I bore thee away; and worse than all—for now perhaps thou loathest me for it—I loved thee. I loved thee, for the first time that I loved any one; nay, I made thee love me in turn; and, alas, I gave myself into thine arms. It was wrong. I was foolish; I was wicked. I grant that I have deserved thou shouldst think ill of me, that thou shouldst punish me, and quit me, and hate to have any remembrance of this place which I had filled with delights. Go; pass over the seas; make war against my friends and my country; destroy us all, and the religion we believe in. Alas! 'we' do I say? The religion is mine no longer—O thou, the cruel idol of my soul. Oh, let me go with thee, if it be but as thy servant, thy slave. Let the conqueror take with him his captive; let her be mocked; let her be pointed at; only let her be with thee. I will cut off these tresses, which no longer please thee: I will clothe myself in other attire, and go with thee into the battle. I have courage and strength enough to bear thy lance, to lead thy spare-horse, to be, above all, thy shield-bearer—thy shield. Nothing shall touch thee but through me—through this bosom, Rinaldo. Perhaps mischance may spare thee for its sake. Not a word? not a little word? Do I dare to boast of what thou hadst once a kind word for, though now thou wilt neither look upon me nor speak to me?"
She could say no more: her words were suffocated by a torrent of tears. But she sought to take his hand, to arrest him by his mantle—in vain. He could scarcely, it is true, restrain his tears: but he did. He looked sorrowful, but composed; and at length he said: "Armida, would I could do as thou wishest; but I cannot. I would relieve thee instantly of all this tumult of emotion. No hate is there in him that must quit thee; no such disdain as thou fanciest; nothing but the melancholy and impetuous sense of his duty. Thou hast erred, it is true—erred both in love and hate; but have I not erred with thee? and can I find excuse which is not found for thyself? Dear and honoured ever wilt thou be with Rinaldo, whether in joy or sorrow. Count me, if it please thee, thy champion still, as far as my country and my faith permit; but here, in this spot, must be buried all else—buried, not for my sake only, but for that of thy beauty, thy worthiness, thy royal blood. Consent to disparage thyself no longer. Peace be with thee. I go where I have no permission to take thee with me. Be happy; be wise." While Rinaldo was speaking in this manner, Armida changed colour; her bosom heaved; her eyes took a new kind of fire; scorn rose upon her lip. When he finished, she looked at him with a bitterness that rejected every word he had said; and then she exclaimed: "Thou hast no such blood in thine own veins as thou canst fear to degrade. Thy boasted descent is a fiction: base, and brutish, and insensible was thy stock. What being of gentle blood could quit a love like mine without even a tear—a sigh? What but the mockery of a man could call me his, and yet leave me? vouchsafe me his pardon, as if I had offended him? excuse my guilt and my tenderness; he, the sage of virtue, and me, the wretch! O God! and these are the men that take upon them to slaughter the innocent, and dictate faiths to the world! Go, hard heart, with such peace as thou leavest in this bosom. Begone; take thine injustice from my sight for ever. My spirit will follow thee, not as a help, but as a retribution. I shall die first, and thou wilt die speedily: thou wilt perish in the battle. Thou wilt lie expiring among the dead and bleeding, and wilt call on Armida in thy last moments, and I shall hear it—yes, I shall hear it; I shall look for that."
Down fell Armida on the ground, senseless; and Rinaldo stood over her, weeping at last. Open thine eyes, poor wretch, and see him. Alas, the heavens deny thee the consolation! What will he do? Will he leave thee lying there betwixt dead and alive? Or will he go—pitying thee, but still going? He goes; he is gone; he is in the bark, and the wind is in the sail; and he looks back—ever back; but still goes: the shore begins to be out of sight.
Armida woke, and was alone. She raved again, but it was for vengeance. In a few days she was with the Egyptian army, a queen at the head of her vassals, going against the Christians at Jerusalem.
Part the Fifth.
THE DISENCHANTMENT OF THE FOREST, AND THE TAKING OF JERUSALEM, &c.
Rinaldo arrived without loss of time in the Christian camp before Jerusalem. Every body rejoiced to see the right hand of the army. Godfrey gladly pardoned him; the hermit Peter blessed him; he himself retired to beg the forgiveness and favour of Heaven; and then he went straight to the Enchanted Forest.
It was a beautiful morning, and the forest, instead of presenting its usual terrors, appeared to him singularly tranquil and pleasing. On entering it he heard, not dreadful thunder-claps, but harmonies made up of all sorts of gentle and lovely sounds—brooks, whispering winds, nightingales, organs, harps, human voices. He went slowly and cautiously, and soon came to a beautiful river which encircled the heart of the wood. A bridge of gold carried him over. He had no sooner crossed it, than the river higher up suddenly swelled and rushed like a torrent, sweeping the bridge away. The harmony meanwhile had become silent. Admiring, but nothing daunted, the hero went on.
Every thing as he advanced appeared to start into fresh beauty. His steps produced lilies and roses; here leaped up a fountain, and there came falling a cascade; the wood itself seemed to grow young as with sudden spring; and he again heard the music and the human voices, though he could see no one.
Passing through the trees, he came into a glade in the heart of the wood, in the centre of which he beheld a myrtle-tree, the largest and most beautiful ever seen: it was taller than a cypress or palm, and seemed the queen of the forest. Looking around him, he observed to his astonishment an oak suddenly cleave itself open, and out of it there came a nymph. A hundred other trees did the same, giving birth to as many nymphs. They were all habited as we see them in theatres; only, instead of bows and arrows, each held a lute or guitar. Coming towards the hero with joyful eyes, they formed a circle about him, and danced; and in their dancing they sang, and bade him welcome to the haunt of their mistress, their loving mistress, of whom he was the only hope and joy. Looking as they spoke towards the myrtle, Rinaldo looked also, and beheld, issuing out of it—Armida.
Armida came sweetly towards him, with a countenance at once grieving and rejoicing, but expressing above all infinite affection. "And do I indeed see thee again?" she said; "and wilt thou not fly me a second time? am I visited to be consoled, or to be treated again as an enemy? is poor Armida so formidable, that thou must needs close up thine helmet when thou beholdest her? Thou mightest surely have vouchsafed her once more a sight of thine eyes. Let us be friends, at least, if we may be nothing more. Wilt thou not take her hand?"
Rinaldo's answer was, to turn away as from a cheat, to look towards the myrtle-tree, to draw his sword, and proceed with manifest intentions of assailing it. She ran before him shrieking, and hugged it round. "Nay, thou wilt not," she said, "thou wilt not hurt my tree—not cut and slay what is bound up with the life of Armida? Thy sword must pass first through her bosom."
Armida writhed and wailed; Rinaldo nevertheless raised his sword, and it was coming against the tree, when her shape, like a thing in a dream, was metamorphosed as quick as lightning. It became a giant, a Briareus, wielding a hundred swords, and speaking in a voice of thunder. Every one of the nymphs at the same instant became a Cyclops; tempest and earthquake ensued, and the air was full of ghastly spectres.
Rinaldo again raised his arm with a more vehement will; he struck, and at the same instant every horror disappeared. The sky was cloudless; the forest was neither terrible nor beautiful, but heavy and sombre as of old—a natural gloomy wood, but no prodigy.
Rinaldo returned to the camp, his aspect that of a conqueror; the silver wings of his crest, the white eagle, glittering in the sun. The hermit Peter came forward to greet him; a shout was sent up by the whole camp; Godfrey gave him high reception; nobody envied him. Workmen, no longer trembling, were sent to the forest to cut wood for the machines of war; and the tower was rebuilt, together with battering-rams and balistas, and catapults, most of them an addition to what they had before. The tower also was now clothed with bulls-hides, as a security against being set on fire; and a bridge was added to the tower, from which the besiegers could at once step on the city-walls.
With these long-desired invigorations of his strength, the commander of the army lost no time in making a general assault on Jerusalem; for a dove, supernaturally pursued by a falcon, had brought him letters intended for the besieged, informing them, that if they could only hold out four days longer, their Egyptian allies would be at hand. The Pagans beheld with dismay the resuscitated tower, and all the new engines coming against them. They fought valiantly; but Rinaldo and Godfrey prevailed. The former was the first to scale the walls, the latter to plant his standard from the bridge. The city was entered on all sides, and the enemy driven, first into Solomon's Temple, and then into the Citadel, or Tower of David. Before the assault, Godfrey had been vouchsafed a sight of armies of angels in the air, accompanied by the souls of those who had fallen before Jerusalem; the latter still fighting, the former rejoicing; so that there was no longer doubt of triumph; only it still pleased Heaven that human virtue should be tried.
And now, after farther exploits on both sides, the last day of the war, and the last hope of the Infidels, arrived at the same time; for the Egyptian army came up to give battle with the Christians, and to restore Jerusalem, if possible, to its late owners, now cramped up in one corner of it—the citadel. The besiegers in their narrow hold raised a shout of joy at the sight; and Godfrey, leaving them to be detained in it by an experienced captain, went forth to meet his new opponents. Crowns of Africa and of Persia were there, and the king of the Indies; and in the midst of all, in a chariot surrounded by her knights and suitors, was Armida.
The battle joined, and great was the bravery and the slaughter on both sides. It seemed at first all glitter and gaiety—its streamers flying, its arms flashing, drums and trumpets rejoicing, and horses rushing with their horsemen as to the tournament. Horror looked beautiful in the spectacle. Out of the midst of the dread itself there issued a delight. But soon it was a bloody, and a turbulent, and a raging, and a groaning thing:—pennons down, horses and men rolling over, foes heaped upon one another, bright armour exchanged for blood and dirt, flesh trampled, and spirit fatigued. Brave were the Pagans; but how could they stand against Heaven? Godfrey ordered every thing calmly, like a divine mind; Rinaldo swept down the fiercest multitudes, like an arm of God. The besieged in the citadel broke forth, only to let the conquerors in. Jerusalem was won before the battle was over. King after king fell, and yet the vanquished did not fly. Rinaldo went every where to hasten the rout; and still had to fight and slay on. Armida beheld him coming where she sat in the midst of her knights; he saw her, and blushed a little: she turned as cold as ice, then as hot as fire. Her anger was doubled by the slaughter of her friends; and with her woman's hand she sent an arrow out of her bow, hoping, and yet even then hoping not, to slay or to hurt him. The arrow fell on him like a toy; and he turned aside, as she thought, in disdain. Yet he disdained not to smite down her champions. Hope of every kind deserted her. Resolving to die by herself in some lonely spot, she got down from her chariot to horse, and fled out of the field. Rinaldo saw the flight; and though one of the knights that remained to her struck him such a blow as made him reel in his saddle, he despatched the man with another like a thunderbolt, and then galloped after the fugitive.
Armida was in the act of putting a shaft to her bosom, in order to die upon it, when her arm was arrested by a mighty grasp; and turning round, she beheld with a shriek the beloved face of him who had caused the ruin of her and hers. She closed her disdainful eyes and fainted away. Rinaldo supported her; he loosened her girdle; he bathed her bosom and her eyelids with his tears. Coming at length to herself, still she would not look at him. She would fain not have been supported by him. She endeavoured with her weak fingers to undo the strong ones that clasped her; she wept bitterly, and at length spoke, but still without meeting his eyes.
"And may I not," she said, "even die? must I be followed and tormented even in my last moments? What mockery of a wish to save me is this! I will not be watched; I believe not a syllable of such pity; and I will not be made a sight of, and a by-word. I ask my life of thee no longer; I want nothing but death; and death itself I would not receive at such hands; they would render even that felicity hateful. Leave me. I could not be hindered long from putting an end to my miseries, whatever barbarous restraint might be put upon me. There are a thousand ways of dying; and I will be neither hindered, nor deceived, nor flattered—oh, never more!"
Weeping she spoke—weeping always, and sobbing, and full of wilful words. But yet she felt all the time the arm that was round her.
"Armida," said Rinaldo, in a voice full of tenderness, "be calm, and know me for what I am—no enemy, no conqueror, nothing that intends thee shame or dishonour; but thy champion, thy restorer—he that will preserve thy kingdom for thee, and seat thee in house and home. Look at me—look in these eyes, and see if they speak false. And oh, would to Heaven thou wouldst indeed be as I am in faith. There isn't a queen in all the East should equal thee in glory."
His tears fell on her eyelids as he spoke—scalding tears; and she looked at him, and her heart re-opened to its lord, all love and worship; and Armida said, "Behold thy handmaid; dispose of her even as thou wilt."
And that same day Godfrey of Boulogne was lord of Jerusalem, and paid his vows on the sepulchre of his Master.
"Chiama gli abitator' de l'ombre eterne Il rauco suon de la tartarea tromba. Treman le spaziose atre caverne, E l'aer cieco a quel romor rimbomba. Ne si stridendo mai da le superne Regioni del cielo il folgor piomba: Ne si scossa gia mai trema la terra, Quando i vapori in sen gravida serra." Canto iv. st. 3.
The trump of Tartarus, with iron roar, Called to the dwellers the black regions under: Hell through its caverns trembled to the core, And the blind air rebellowed to the thunder: Never yet fiery bolt more fiercely tore The crashing firmament, like rocks, asunder; Nor with so huge a shudder earth's foundations Shook to their mighty heart, lifting the nations.
The tone of this stanza (suggested otherwise by Vida) was caught from a fine one in Politian, the passage in which about the Nile I ought to have called to mind at page 168.
"Con tal romor, qualor l'aer discorda, Di Giove il foco d'alta nube piomba: Con tal tumulto, onde la gente assorda, Da l'alte cataratte il Nil rimbomba: Con tal orror del Latin sangue ingorda Sono Megera la tartarea tromba."
Fragment on the Jousting of Giuliano de' Medici.
Such is the noise, when through his cloudy floor The bolt of Jove falls on the pale world under; So shakes the land, where Nile with deafening roar Plunges his clattering cataracts in thunder; Horribly so, through Latium's realm of yore, The trump of Tartarus blew ghastly wonder.]
"La bella Armida, di sua forma altiera, E de' doni del sesso e de l'etate, L' impresa prende: e in su la prima sera Parte, e tiene sol vie chiuse e celate: E 'n treccia e 'n gonna femminile spera Vincer popoli invitti e schiere armate." Canto iv. st. 27.]
"That sweet grove Of Daphne by Orontes." Parad. Lost, b. iv.
It was famous for the most luxurious worship of antiquity. Vide Gibbon, vol. iii. p. 198.]
[Footnote 4: I omit a point about "fires" of love, and "ices" of the heart; and I will here observe, once for all, that I omit many such in these versions of Tasso, for the reason given in the Preface.]
[Footnote 5: In the original, an impetuous gust of wind carries away the sword of Tancred; a circumstance which I mention because Collins admired it (see his Ode on the Superstitions of the Highlands). I confess I cannot do so. It seems to me quite superfluous; and when the reader finds the sword conveniently lying for the hero outside the wood, as he returns, the effect is childish and pantomimic. If the magician wished him not to fight any more, why should he give him the sword back? And if it was meant as a present to him from Clorinda, what gave her the power to make the present? Tasso retained both the particulars in the Gerusalemme Conquistata.]
"Giace l'alta Cartago: appena i segni De l'alte sue ruine il lido serba.
Muoiono le citta: muoiono i regni: Copre i fasti e le pompe arena ed erba: E l'uom d'esser mortal par che si sdegni. Oh nostra mente cupida e superba!"
Canto xv. st. 20.
Great Carthage is laid low. Scarcely can eye Trace where she stood with all her mighty crowd For cities die; kingdoms and nations die; A little sand and grass is all their shroud; Yet mortal man disdains mortality! O mind of ours, inordinate and proud!
Very fine is this stanza of Tasso; and yet, like some of the finest writing of Gray, it is scarcely more than a cento. The commentators call it a "beautiful imitation" of a passage in Sannazzaro; and it is; but the passage in Sannazzaro is also beautiful. It contains not only the "Giace Cartago," and the "appena i segni," &c., but the contrast of the pride with the mortality of man, and, above all, the "dying" of the cities, which is the finest thing in the stanza of its imitator.
"Qua devictae Carthaginis arces Procubuere, jacentque infausto in littore turres Eversae; quantum ille metus, quantum illa laborum Urbs dedit insultans Latio et Laurentibus arvis! Nunc passim vix reliquias, vix nomina servans, Obruitur propriis non agnoscenda ruinis. Et querimur genus infelix, humana labare Membra aevo, cum regna palam moriantur et urbes."
De Partu Virginis, lib. ii.
The commentators trace the conclusion of this passage to Dante, where he says that it is no wonder families perish, when cities themselves "have their terminations" (termin hanuo): but though there is a like germ of thought in Dante, the mournful flower of it, the word "death," is not there. It was evidently suggested by a passage (also pointed out by the commentators) in the consolatory letter of Sulpicius to Cicero, on the death of his daughter Tullia;—"Heu nos homunculi indignamur, si quis nostrum interiit, aut occisus est, quorum vita brevior esse debet, cum uno loco tot oppidorum cadavera projecta jaceant." (Alas! we poor human creatures are indignant if any one of us dies or is slain, frail as are the materials of which we are constituted; and yet we can see, lying together in one place, the dead bodies of I know not how many cities!) The music of Tasso's line was indebted to one in Petrarch's _Trionfo del Tempo, v. 112
_" Passan le signorie, passano i regni;"
and the fine concluding verse, "Oh nostra mente," to another perhaps in his Trionfo della Divinita, v. 61, not without a recollection of Lucretius, lib. ii. v. 14:
"O miseras hominum menteis! o pectora caeca!"]
[Footnote 7: A fountain which caused laughter that killed people is in Pomponius Mela's account of the Fortunate Islands; and was the origin of that of Boiardo; as I ought to have noticed in the place.]
[Footnote 8: All this description of the females bathing is in the highest taste of the voluptuous; particularly the latter part:
"Qual mattutina stella esce de l'onde Rugiadosa e stillante: o come fuore Spunto nascendo gia da le feconde Spume de l'ocean la Dea d'Amore: Tale apparve costei: tal le sue bionde Chiome stillavan cristallino umore. Poi giro gli occhi, e pur allor s'infinse Que' duo vedere, e in se tutta si strinse:
E 'l crin the 'n cima al capo avea raccolto In un sol nodo, immantinente sciolse; Che lunghissimo in giu cadendo, e folto, D'un aureo manto i molli avori involse. Oh che vago spettacolo e lor tolto! Ma mon men vago fu chi loro il tolse. Cosi da l'acque e da capelli ascosa, A lor si volse, lieta e vergognosa.
Rideva insieme, e insieme ella arrossia; Ed era nel rossor piu bello il riso, E nel riso il rossor, the le copria Insino al mento il delicato viso." Canto xv. st. 60.
Spenser, among the other obligations which it delighted him to owe to this part of Tasso's poem, has translated these last twelve lines:
"With that the other likewise up arose, And her fair locks, which formerly were bound Up in one knot, she low adown did loose, Which, flowing long and thick, her cloth'd around, And th' ivory in golden mantle gown'd: So that fair spectacle from him was reft; Yet that which reft it, no less fair was found. So hid in locks and waves from looker's theft, Nought but her lovely face she for his looking left.
Withal she laughed, and she blush'd withal; That blushing to her laughter gave more grace, And laughter to her blushing." Fairy Queen, book ii. canto 12, St. 67.
Tasso's translator, Fairfax, worthy both of his original and of Spenser, has had the latter before him in his version of the passage, not without a charming addition of his own at the close of the first stanza:
"And her fair locks, that in a knot were tied High on her crown, she 'gan at large unfold; Which falling long and thick, and spreading wide, The ivory soft and white mantled in gold: Thus her fair skin the dame would clothe and hide; And that which hid it, no less fair was hold. Thus clad in waves and locks, her eyes divine From them ashamed would she turn and twine.
Withal she smiled, and she blush'd withal; Her blush her smiling, smiles her blushing graced."]
"E quel che 'l bello e 'l caro accresce a l'opre, L'arte, the tutto fa, nulla si scopre.
Stimi (si misto il culto e col negletto) Sol naturali e gli ornamenti e i siti. Di natura arte par, the per diletto L'imitatrice sua scherzando imiti."
The idea of Nature imitating Art, and playfully imitating her, is in Ovid; but that of a mixture of cultivation and wildness is, as far as I am aware, Tasso's own. It gives him the honour of having been the first to suggest the picturesque principle of modern gardening; as I ought to have remembered, when assigning it to Spenser in a late publication (Imagination and Fancy, p. 109). I should have noticed also, in the same work, the obligations of Spenser to the Italian poet for the passage before quoted about the nymph in the water.]
"Par che la dura quercia e 'l casto alloro, E tutta la frondosa ampia famiglia, Par the la terra e l'acqua e formi e spiri Dolcissimi d'amor sensi e sospiri." St. 16.
Fairfax in this passage is very graceful and happy (in the first part of his stanza he is speaking of a bird that sings with a human voice—which I have omitted):
"She ceased: and as approving all she spoke, The choir of birds their heavenly tunes renew; The turtles sigh'd, and sighs with kisses broke; The fowls to shades unseen by pairs withdrew; It seem'd the laurel chaste and stubborn oak, And all the gentle trees on earth that grew, It seem'd the land, the sea, and heaven above, All breath'd out fancy sweet, and sigh'd out love."]