Stories from the Italian Poets: With Lives of the Writers, Volume 1
by Leigh Hunt
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"Suppose they will not trust themselves with me," said the spirit.

"Enter Rinaldo's horse, and bring him, whether he trust thee or not."

"It shall be done," returned the demon; "and my serving-devil Foul-Mouth, or Fire-Red, shall enter the horse of Ricciardetto. Doubt it not. Am I not wise, and thyself powerful?"

There was an earthquake, and Ashtaroth disappeared.

Marsilius has now made his first movement towards the destruction of Orlando, by sending before him his vassal-king Blanchardin with his presents of wines and other luxuries. The temperate but courteous hero took them in good part, and distributed them as the traitor wished; and then Blanchardin, on pretence of going forward to salute Charlemagne at St. John Pied de Port, returned and put himself at the head of the second army, which was the post assigned him by his liege lord. The device on his flag was an "Apollo" on a field azure. King Falseron, whose son Orlando had slain in battle, headed the first army, the device of which was a black figure of the devil Belphegor on a dapple-grey field. The third army was under King Balugante, and had for ensign a Mahomet with golden wings in a field of red. Marsilius made a speech to them at night, in which he confessed his ill faith, but defended it on the ground of Charles's hatred of their religion, and of the example of "Judith and Holofernes." He said, that he had not come there to pay tribute, and sell his countrymen for slaves, but to make all Christendom pay tribute to them as conquerors; and he concluded by recommending to their good-will the son of his friend Gan, whom they would know by the vest he had sent him, and who was the only soul among the Christians they were to spare.

This son of Gan, meantime, and several of the Paladins who were disgusted with Charles's credulity, and anxious at all events to be with Orlando, had joined the hero in the fated valley; so that the little Christian host, considering the tremendous valour of their lord and his friends, and the comparative inefficiency of that of the infidels, were at any rate not to be sold for nothing. Rinaldo, alas! the second thunderbolt of Christendom, was destined not to be there in time to save their lives. He could only avenge the dreadful tragedy, and prevent still worse consequences to the whole Christian court and empire. The Paladins had in vain begged Orlando to be on his guard against treachery, and send for a more numerous body of men. The great heart of the Champion of the Faith was unwilling to think the worst as long as he could help it. He refused to summon aid that might be superfluous; neither would he do any thing but what his liege lord had desired. And yet he could not wholly repress a misgiving. A shadow had fallen on his heart, great and cheerful as it was. The anticipations of his friends disturbed him, in spite of the face with which he met them. I am not sure that he did not, by a certain instinctive foresight, expect death itself; but he felt bound not to encourage the impression. Besides, time pressed; the moment of the looked-for tribute was at hand; and little combinations of circumstances determine often the greatest events.

King Blanchardin had brought Orlando's people a luxurious supper; King Marsilius was to arrive early next day with the tribute; and Uliviero accordingly, with the morning sun, rode forth to reconnoitre, and see if he could discover the peaceful pomp of the Spanish court in the distance. Guottibuoffi was with him, a warrior who had expected the very worst, and repeatedly implored Orlando to believe it possible. Uliviero and he rode up the mountain nearest them, and from the top of it beheld the first army of Marsilius already forming in the passes.

"O Guottibuoffi!" exclaimed he, "behold thy prophecies come true! behold the last day of the glory of Charles! Every where I see the arms of the traitors around us. I feel Paris tremble all the way through France, to the ground beneath my feet. O Malagigi, too much in the right wert thou! O devil Gan, this then is the consummation of thy good offices!"

Uliviero put spurs to his horse, and galloped back down the mountain to Orlando.

"Well," cried the hero, "what news?"

"Bad news," said his cousin; "such as you would not hear of yesterday. Marsilius is here in arms, and all the world has come with him."

The Paladins pressed round Orlando, and entreated him to sound his horn, in token that he needed help. His only answer was, to mount his horse, and ride up the mountain with Sansonetto.

As soon, however, as he cast forth his eyes and beheld what was round about him, he turned in sorrow, and looked down into Roncesvalles, and said, "O valley, miserable indeed! the blood that is shed in thee this day will colour thy name for ever."

Many of the Paladins had ridden after him, and they again pressed him to sound his horn, if only in pity to his own people. He said, "If Caesar and Alexander were here, Scipio and Hannibal, and Nebuchadnezzar with all his flags, and Death stared me in the face with his knife in his hand, never would I sound my horn for the baseness of fear."

Orlando's little camp were furious against the Saracens. They armed themselves with the greatest impatience. There was nothing but lacing of helmets and mounting of horses; and good Archbishop Turpin went from rank to rank, exhorting and encouraging the warriors of Christ. Accoutrements and habiliments were put on the wrong way; words and deeds mixed in confusion; men running against one another out of very absorption in themselves; all the place full of cries of "Arm! arm! the enemy!" and the trumpets clanged over all against the mountain-echoes.

Orlando and his captains withdrew for a moment to consultation. He fairly groaned for sorrow, and at first had not a word to say; so wretched he felt at having brought his people to die in Roncesvalles.

Uliviero spoke first. He could not resist the opportunity of comforting himself a little in his despair, with referring to his unheeded advice.

"You see, cousin," said he, "what has come at last. Would to God you had attended to what I said; to what Malagigi said; to what we all said! I told you Marsilius was nothing but an anointed scoundrel. Yet forsooth, he was to bring us tribute! and Charles is this moment expecting his mummeries at St. John Pied de Port! Did ever any body believe a word that Gan said, but Charles? And now you see this rotten fruit has come to a head;—this medlar has got its crown."

Orlando said nothing in answer to Uliviero; for in truth he had nothing to say. He broke away to give orders to the camp; bade them take refreshment; and then addressing both officers and men, he said, "I confess, that if it had entered my heart to conceive the king of Spain to be such a villain, never would you have seen this day. He has exchanged with me a thousand courtesies and good words; and I thought that the worse enemies we had been before, the better friends we had become now. I fancied every human being capable of this kind of virtue on a good opportunity, saving, indeed, such base-hearted wretches as can never forgive their very forgivers; and of these I certainly did not suppose him to be one. Let us die, if we must die, like honest and gallant men; so that it shall be said of us, it was only our bodies that died. It becomes our souls to be invincible, and our glory immortal. Our motto must be, 'A good heart and no hope.' The reason why I did not sound the horn was, partly because I thought it did not become us, and partly because our liege lord could be of little use, even if he heard it. Let Gan have his glut of us like a carrion crow; but let him find us under heaps of his Saracens, an example for all time. Heaven, my friends, is with us, if earth is against us. Methinks I see it open this moment, ready to receive our souls amidst crowns of glory; and therefore, as the champion of God's church, I give you my benediction; and the good archbishop here will absolve you; and so, please God, we shall all go to Heaven and be happy."

And with these words Orlando sprang to his horse, crying, "Away against the Saracens!" but he had no sooner turned his face than he wept bitterly, and said, "O holy Virgin, think not of me, the sinner Orlando, but have pity on these thy servants."

Archbishop Turpin did as Orlando said, giving the whole band his benediction at once, and absolving them from their sins, so that every body took comfort in the thought of dying for Christ, and thus they embraced one another, weeping; and then lance was put to thigh, and the banner was raised that was won in the jousting at Aspramont.

And now with a mighty dust, and an infinite sound of horns, and tambours, and trumpets, which came filling the valley, the first army of the infidels made its appearance, horses neighing, and a thousand pennons flying in the air. King Falseron led them on, saying to his officers, "Now, gentlemen, recollect what I said. The first battle is for the leaders only;—and, above all, let nobody dare to lay a finger on Orlando. He belongs to myself. The revenge of my son's death is mine. I will cut the man down that comes between us."

"Now, friends," said Orlando, "every man for himself, and St. Michael for us all. There is no one here that is not a perfect knight."

And he might well say it; for the flower of all France was there, except Rinaldo and Ricciardetto; every man a picked man; all friends and constant companions of Orlando. There was Richard of Normandy, and Guottibuoffi, and Uliviero, and Count Anselm, and Avolio, and Avino, and the gentle Berlinghieri, and his brother, and Sansonetto, and the good Duke Egibard, and Astolfo the Englishman, and Angiolin of Bayona, and all the other Paladins of France, excepting those two whom I have mentioned. And so the captains of the little troop and of the great array sat looking at one another, and singling one another out, as the latter came on; and then either side began raising their war-cries, and the mob of the infidels halted, and the knights put spear in rest, and ran for a while, two and two in succession, each one against the other.

Astolfo was the first to move. He ran against Arlotto of Soria; and Angiolin then ran against Malducco; and Mazzarigi the Renegade came against Avino; and Uliviero was borne forth by his horse Rondel, who couldn't stand still, against Malprimo, the first of the captains of Falseron.

And now lances began to be painted red, without any brush but themselves; and the new colour extended itself to the bucklers, and the cuishes, and the cuirasses, and the trappings of the steeds.

Astolfo thrust his antagonist's body out of the saddle, and his soul into the other world; and Angiolin gave and took a terrible blow with Malducco; but his horse bore him onward; and Avino had something of the like encounter with Mazzarigi; but Uliviero, though he received a thrust which hurt him, sent his lance right through the heart of Malprimo.

Falseron was daunted at this blow. "Verily," thought he, "this is a miracle." Uliviero did not press on among the Saracens, his wound was too painful; but Orlando now put himself and his whole band into motion, and you may guess what an uproar ensued. The sound of the rattling of the blows and helmets was as if the forge of Vulcan had been thrown open. Falseron beheld Orlando coming so furiously, that he thought him a Lucifer who had burst his chain, and was quite of another mind than when he proposed to have him all to himself. On the contrary, he recommended himself to his gods; and turning away, begged for a more auspicious season of revenge. But Orlando hailed and arrested him with a terrible voice, saying, "O thou traitor! Was this the end to which old quarrels were made up? Dost thou not blush, thou and thy fellow-traitor Marsilius, to have kissed me on the cheek like a Judas, when last thou wert in France?"

Orlando had never shewn such anger in his countenance as he did that day. He dashed at Falseron with a fury so swift, and at the same time a mastery of his lance so marvellous, that though he plunged it in the man's body so as instantly to kill him, the body did not move in the saddle. The hero himself, as he rushed onwards, was fain to see the end of a stroke so perfect, and, turning his horse back, he touched the carcass with his sword, and it fell on the instant. They say, that it had no sooner fallen than it disappeared. People got off their horses to lift up the body, for it seemed to be there still, the armour being left; but when they came to handle the armour, it was found as empty as the shell that is cast by a lobster. O new, and strange, and portentous event!—proof manifest of the anger with which God regards treachery.

When the first infidel army beheld their leader dead, such fear fell upon them, that they were for leaving the field to the Paladins; but they were unable. Marsilius had drawn the rest of his forces round the valley like a net, so that their shoulders were turned in vain. Orlando rode into the thick of them, with Count Anselm by his side. He rushed like a tempest; and wherever he went, thunderbolts fell upon helmets. The Paladins drove here and there after them, each making a whirlwind round about him, and a bloody circle. Uliviero was again in the melee; and Walter of Amulion threw himself into it; and Baldwin roared like a lion; and Avino and Avolio reaped the wretches' heads like a turnip-field; and blows blinded men's eyes; and Archbishop Turpin himself had changed his crozier for a lance, and chased a new flock before him to the mountains.

Yet what could be done against foes without number? Multitudes fill up the spaces left by the dead without stopping. Marsilius, from his anxious and raging post, constantly pours them in. The Paladins are as units to thousands. Why tarry the horses of Rinaldo and Ricciardetto?

The horses did not tarry; but fate had been quicker than enchantment. Ashtaroth, nevertheless, had presented himself to Rinaldo in Egypt, as though he had issued out of a flash of lightning. After telling his mission, and giving orders to hundreds of invisible spirits round about him (for the air was full of them), he and Foul-Mouth, his servant, entered the horses of Rinaldo and Ricciardetto, which began to neigh and snort and leap with the fiends within them, till off they flew through the air over the pyramids, crowds of spirits going like a tempest before them. Ricciardetto shut his eyes at first, on perceiving himself so high in the air; but he speedily became used to it, though he looked down on the sun at last. In this manner they passed the desert, and the sea-coast, and the ocean, and swept the tops of the Pyrenees, Ashtaroth talking to them of wonders by the way; for he was one of the wisest of the devils, and knew a great many things which were then unknown to man. He laughed, for instance, as they went over sea, at the notion, among other vain fancies, that nothing was to be found beyond the pillars of Hercules; "for," said he, "the earth is round, and the sea has an even surface all over it; and there are nations on the other side of the globe, who walk with their feet opposed to yours, and worship other gods than the Christians."

"Hah!" said Rinaldo; "and may I ask whether they can be saved?"

"It is a bold thing to ask," said the devil; "but do you take the Redeemer for a partisan, and fancy he died for you only? Be assured he died for the whole world, Antipodes and all. Perhaps not one soul will be left out the pale of salvation at last, but the whole human race adore the truth, and find mercy. The Christian is the only true religion; but Heaven loves all goodness that believes honestly, whatsoever the belief may be."

Rinaldo was mightily taken with the humanity of the devil's opinions: but they were now approaching the end of their journey, and began to hear the noise of the battle; and he could no longer think of any thing but the delight of being near Orlando, and plunging into the middle of it.

"You shall be in the very heart of it instantly," said his bearer. "I love you, and would fain do all you desire. Do not fancy that all nobleness of spirit is lost among us people below. You know what the proverb says, 'There's never a fruit, however degenerate, but will taste of its stock.' I was of a different order of beings once, and—But it is as well not to talk of happy times. Yonder is Marsilius; and there goes Orlando. Farewell, and give me a place in your memory."

Rinaldo could not find words to express his sense of the devil's good-will, nor of that of Foul Mouth himself. He said: "Ashtaroth, I am as sorry to part with you as if you were a brother; and I certainly do believe that nobleness of spirit exists, as you say, among your people below. I shall be glad to see you both sometimes, if you can come; and I pray God (if my poor prayer be worth any thing) that you may all repent, and obtain his pardon; for without repentance, you know, nothing can be done for you."

"If I might suggest a favour," returned Ashtaroth, "since you are so good as to wish to do me one, persuade Malagigi to free me from his service, and I am yours for ever. To serve you will be a pleasure to me. You will only have to say, 'Ashtaroth,' and my good friend here will be with you in an instant."

"I am obliged to you," cried Rinaldo, "and so is my brother. I will write Malagigi, not merely a letter, but a whole packet-full of your praises; and so I will to Orlando; and you shall be set free, depend on it, your company has been so perfectly agreeable."

"Your humble servant," said Ashtaroth, and vanished with his companion like lightning.

But they did not go far.

There was a little chapel by the road-side in Roncesvalles, which had a couple of bells; and on the top of that chapel did the devils place themselves, in order that they might catch the souls of the infidels as they died, and so carry them off to the infernal regions. Guess if their wings had plenty to do that day! Guess if Minos and Rhadamanthus were busy, and Charon sung in his boat, and Lucifer hugged himself for joy. Guess, also, if the tables in heaven groaned with nectar and ambrosia, and good old St. Peter had a dry hair in his beard.

The two Paladins, on their horses, dropped right into the middle of the Saracens, and began making such havoc about them, that Marsilius, who overlooked the fight from a mountain, thought his soldiers had turned one against the other. He therefore descended in fury with his third army; and Rinaldo, seeing him coming, said to Ricciardetto, "We had better be off here, and join Orlando;" and with these words, he gave his horse one turn round before he retreated, so as to enable his sword to make a bloody circle about him; and stories say, that he sheared off twenty heads in the whirl of it. He then dashed through the astonished beholders towards the battle of Orlando, who guessed it could be no other than his cousin, and almost dropped from his horse, out of desire to meet him. Ricciardetto followed Rinaldo; and Uliviero coming up at the same moment, the rapture of the whole party is not to be expressed. They almost died for joy. After a thousand embraces, and questions, and explanations, and expressions of astonishment (for the infidels held aloof awhile, to take breath from the horror and mischief they had undergone), Orlando refreshed his little band of heroes, and then drew Rinaldo apart, and said, "O my brother, I feel such delight at seeing you, I can hardly persuade myself I am not dreaming. Heaven be praised for it. I have no other wish on earth, now that I see you before I die. Why didn't you write? But never mind. Here you are, and I shall not die for nothing."

"I did write," said Rinaldo, "and so did Ricciardetto; but villany intercepted our letters. Tell me what to do, my dear cousin; for time presses, and all the world is upon us."

"Gan has brought us here," said Orlando, "under pretence of receiving tribute from Marsilius—you see of what sort; and Charles, poor old man, is waiting to receive his homage at the town of St. John! I have never seen a lucky day since you left us. I believe I have done for Charles more than in duty bound, and that my sins pursue me, and I and mine must all perish in Roncesvalles."

"Look to Marsilius," exclaimed Rinaldo; "he is right upon us."

Marsilius was upon them, surely enough, at once furious and frightened at the coming of the new Paladins; for his camp, numerous as it was, had not only held aloof, but turned about to fly like herds before the lion; so he was forced to drive them back, and bring up his other troops, reasonably thinking that such numbers must overwhelm at last, if they could but be kept together.

Not the less, however, for this, did the Paladins continue to fight as if with joy. They killed and trampled wheresoever they went; Rinaldo fatiguing himself with sending infinite numbers of souls to Ashtaroth, and Orlando making a bloody passage towards Marsilius, whom he hoped to settle as he had done Falseron.

In the course of this his tremendous progress, the hero struck a youth on the head, whose helmet was so good as to resist the blow, but at the same time flew off; and Orlando seized him by the hair to kill him. "Hold!" cried the youth, as loud as want of breath could let him; "you loved my father—I'm Bujaforte."

The Paladin had never seen Bujaforte; but he saw the likeness to the good old Man of the Mountain, his father; and he let go the youth's hair, and embraced and kissed him. "O Bujaforte!" said he; "I loved him indeed my good old man; but what does his son do here, fighting against his friend?"

Bujaforte was a long time before he could speak for weeping. At length he said, "Orlando, let not your noble heart be pained with ill thoughts of my father's son. I am forced to be here by my lord and master Marsilius. I had no friend left me in the world, and he took me into his court, and has brought me here before I knew what it was for; and I have made a shew of fighting, but have not hurt a single Christian. Treachery is on every side of you. Baldwin himself has a vest given him by Marsilius, that every body may know the son of his friend Gan, and do him no injury. See there—look how the lances avoid him."

"Put your helmet on again," said Orlando, "and behave just as you have done. Never will your father's friend be an enemy to the son. Only take care not to come across Rinaldo."

The hero then turned in fury to look for Baldwin, who was hastening towards him at that moment with friendliness in his looks.

"'Tis strange," said Baldwin; "I have done my duty as well as I could, yet no body will come against me. I have slain right and left, and cannot comprehend what it is that makes the stoutest infidels avoid me."

"Take off your vest," cried Orlando, contemptuously, "and you will soon discover the secret, if you wish to know it. Your father has sold us to Marsilius, all but his honourable son."

"If my father," cried Baldwin, impetuously tearing off the vest, "has been such a villain, and I escape dying any longer, by God! I will plunge this sword through his heart. But I am no traitor, Orlando; and you do me wrong to say it. You do me foul dishonour, and I'll not survive it. Never more shall you behold me alive."

Baldwin spurred off into the fight, not waiting to hear another word from Orlando, but constantly crying out, "You have done me dishonour;" and Orlando was very sorry for what he had said, for he perceived that the youth was in despair.

And now the fight raged beyond all it had done before; and the Paladins themselves began to fall, the enemy were driven forward in such multitudes by Marsilius. There was unhorsing of foes, and re-seating of friends, and great cries, and anguish, and unceasing labour; and twenty Pagans went down for one Christian; but still the Christians fell. One Paladin disappeared after another, having too much to do for mortal men. Some could not make way through the press for very fatigue of killing, and others were hampered with the falling horses and men. Sansonetto was thus beaten to earth by the club of Grandonio; and Walter d'Amulion had his shoulders broken; and Angiolin of Bayona, having lost his lance, was thrust down by Marsilius, and Angiolin of Bellonda by Sirionne; and Berlinghieri and Ottone are gone; and then Astolfo went, in revenge of whose death Orlando turned the spot on which he died into a gulf of Saracen blood. Rinaldo met the luckless Bujaforte, who had just begun to explain how he seemed to be fighting on the side which his father hated, when the impatient hero exclaimed, "He who is not with me is against me;" and gave him a volley of such horrible cuffs about the head and ears, that Bujaforte died without being able to speak another word. Orlando, cutting his way to a spot in which there was a great struggle and uproar, found the poor youth Baldwin, the son of Gan, with two spears in his breast. "I am no traitor now," said Baldwin; and so saying, fell dead to the earth; and Orlando lifted up his voice and wept, for he was bitterly sorry to have been the cause of his death. He then joined Rinaldo in the hottest of the tumult; and all the surviving Paladins gathered about them, including Turpin the archbishop, who fought as hardily as the rest; and the slaughter was lavish and horrible, so that the eddies of the wind chucked the blood into the air, and earth appeared a very seething-cauldron of hell. At length down went Uliviero himself. He had become blind with his own blood, and smitten Orlando without knowing him, who had never received such a blow in his life.

"How now, cousin!" cried Orlando; "have you too gone over to the enemy?"

"O, my lord and master, Orlando," cried the other, "I ask your pardon, if I have struck you. I can see nothing—I am dying. The traitor Arcaliffe has stabbed me in the back; but I killed him for it. If you love me, lead my horse into the thick of them, so that I may not die unavenged."

"I shall die myself before long," said Orlando, "out of very toil and grief; so we will go together. I have lost all hope, all pride, all wish to live any longer; but not my love for Uliviero. Come—let us give them a few blows yet; let them see what you can do with your dying hands. One faith, one death, one only wish be ours."

Orlando led his cousin's horse where the press was thickest, and dreadful was the strength of the dying man and of his half-dying companion. They made a street, through which they passed out of the battle; and Orlando led his cousin away to his tent, and said, "Wait a little till I return, for I will go and sound the horn on the hill yonder."

"'Tis of no use," said Uliviero; "and my spirit is fast going, and desires to be with its Lord and Saviour." He would have said more, but his words came from him imperfectly, like those of a man in a dream; only his cousin gathered that he meant to commend to him his sister, Orlando's wife, Alda the Fair, of whom indeed the great Paladin had not thought so much in this world as he might have done. And with these imperfect words he expired.

But Orlando no sooner saw him dead, than he felt as if he was left alone on the earth; and he was quite willing to leave it; only he wished that Charles at St. John Pied de Port should hear how the case stood before he went; and so he took up the horn, and blew it three times with such force that the blood burst out of his nose and mouth. Turpin says, that at the third blast the horn broke in two.

In spite of all the noise of the battle, the sound of the horn broke over it like a voice out of the other world. They say that birds fell dead at it, and that the whole Saracen army drew back in terror. But fearfuller still was its effect at St. John Pied de Port. Charlemagne was sitting in the midst of his court when the sound reached him; and Gan was there. The emperor was the first to hear it.

"Do you hear that?" said he to his nobles. "Did you hear the horn, as I heard it?"

Upon this they all listened; and Gan felt his heart misgive him.

The horn sounded the second time.

"What is the meaning of this?" said Charles.

"Orlando is hunting," observed Gan, "and the stag is killed. He is at the old pastime that he was so fond of in Aspramonte."

But when the horn sounded yet a third time, and the blast was one of so dreadful a vehemence, every body looked at the other, and then they all looked at Gan in fury. Charles rose from his seat. "This is no hunting of the stag," said he. "The sound goes to my very heart, and, I confess, makes me tremble. I am awakened out of a great dream. O Gan! O Gan! Not for thee do I blush, but for myself, and for nobody else. O my God, what is to be done! But whatever is to be done, must be done quickly. Take this villain, gentlemen, and keep him in hard prison. O foul and monstrous villain! Would to God I had not lived to see this day! O obstinate and enormous folly! O Malagigi, had I but believed thy foresight! 'Tis thou went the wise man, and I the grey-headed fool."

Ogier the Dane, and Namo and others, in the bitterness of their grief and anger, could not help reminding the emperor of all which they had foretold. But it was no time for words. They put the traitor into prison; and then Charles, with all his court, took his way to Roncesvalles, grieving and praying.

It was afternoon when the horn sounded, and half an hour after it when the emperor set out; and meantime Orlando had returned to the fight that he might do his duty, however hopeless, as long as he could sit his horse, and the Paladins were now reduced to four; and though the Saracens suffered themselves to be mowed down like grass by them and their little band, he found his end approaching for toil and fever, and so at length he withdrew out of the fight, and rode all alone to a fountain which he knew of, where he had before quenched his thirst.

His horse was wearier still than he, and no sooner had its master alighted, than the beast, kneeling down as if to take leave, and to say, "I have brought you to your place of rest," fell dead at his feet. Orlando cast water on him from the fountain, not wishing to believe him dead; but when he found it to no purpose, he grieved for him as if he had been a human being, and addressed him by name in tears, and asked forgiveness if ever he had done him wrong. They say, that the horse at these words once more opened his eyes a little, and looked kindly at his master, and so stirred never more.

They say also that Orlando then, summoning all his strength, smote a rock near him with his beautiful sword Durlindana, thinking to shiver the steel in pieces, and so prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy; but though the rock split like a slate, and a deep fissure remained ever after to astonish the eyes of pilgrims, the sword remained unhurt.

"O strong Durlindana," cried he, "O noble and worthy sword, had I known thee from the first, as I know thee now, never would I have been brought to this pass."

And now Rinaldo and Ricciardetto and Turpin came up, having given chase to the Saracens till they were weary, and Orlando gave joyful welcome to his cousin, and they told him how the battle was won, and then Orlando knelt before Turpin, his face all in tears, and begged remission of his sins and confessed them, and Turpin gave him absolution; and suddenly a light came down upon him from heaven like a rainbow, accompanied with a sound of music, and an angel stood in the air blessing him, and then disappeared; upon which Orlando fixed his eyes on the hilt of his sword as on a crucifix, and embraced it, and said, "Lord, vouchsafe that I may look on this poor instrument as on the symbol of the tree upon which Thou sufferedst thy unspeakable martyrdom!" and so adjusting the sword to his bosom, and embracing it closer, he raised his eyes, and appeared like a creature seraphical and transfigured; and in bowing his head he breathed out his pure soul. A thunder was then heard in the heavens, and the heavens opened and seemed to stoop to the earth, and a flock of angels was seen like a white cloud ascending with his spirit, who were known to be what they were by the trembling of their wings. The white cloud shot out golden fires, so that the whole air was full of them; and the voices of the angels mingled in song with the instruments of their brethren above, which made an inexpressible harmony, at once deep and dulcet. The priestly warrior Turpin, and the two Paladins, and the hero's squire Terigi, who were all on their knees, forgot their own beings, in following the miracle with their eyes.

It was now the office of that squire to take horse and ride off to the emperor at Saint John Pied de Port, and tell him of all that had occurred; but in spite of what he had just seen, he lay for a time overwhelmed with grief. He then rose, and mounted his steed, and left the Paladins and the archbishop with the dead body, who knelt about it, guarding it with weeping love.

The good squire Terigi met the emperor and his cavalcade coming towards Roncesvalles, and alighted and fell on his knees, telling him the miserable news, and how all his people were slain but two of his Paladins, and himself, and the good archbishop. Charles for anguish began tearing his white locks; but Terigi comforted him against so doing, by giving an account of the manner of Orlando's death, and how he had surely gone to heaven. Nevertheless, the squire himself was broken-hearted with grief and toil; and he had scarcely added a denouncement of the traitor Gan, and a hope that the emperor would appease Heaven finally by giving his body to the winds, than he said, "The cold of death is upon me;" and so he fell dead at the emperor's feet.

Charles was ready to drop from his saddle for wretchedness. He cried out, "Let nobody comfort me more. I will have no comfort. Cursed be Gan, and cursed this horrible day, and this place, and every thing. Let us go on, like blind miserable men that we are, into Roncesvalles; and have patience if we can, out of pure misery, like Job, till we do all that can be done."

So Charles rode on with his nobles; and they say, that for the sake of the champion of Christendom and the martyrs that died with him, the sun stood still in the sky till the emperor had seen Orlando, and till the dead were buried.

Horrible to his eyes was the sight of the field of Roncesvalles. The Saracens, indeed, had forsaken it, conquered; but all his Paladins but two were left on it dead, and the slaughtered heaps among which they lay made the whole valley like a great dumb slaughter-house, trampled up into blood and dirt, and reeking to the heat. The very trees were dropping with blood; and every thing, so to speak, seemed tired out, and gone to a horrible sleep.

Charles trembled to his heart's core for wonder and agony. After dumbly gazing on the place, he again cursed it with a solemn curse, and wished that never grass might grow within it again, nor seed of any kind, neither within it, nor on any of its mountains around with their proud shoulders; but the anger of Heaven abide over it for ever, as on a pit made by hell upon earth.

Then he rode on, and came up to where the body of Orlando awaited him with the Paladins, and the old man, weeping, threw himself as if he had been a reckless youth from his horse, and embraced and kissed the dead body, and said, "I bless thee, Orlando. I bless thy whole life, and all that thou wast, and all that thou ever didst, and thy mighty and holy valour, and the father that begot thee; and I ask pardon of thee for believing those who brought thee to thine end. They shall have their reward, O thou beloved one! But, indeed, it is thou that livest, and I that am worse than dead."

And now, behold a wonder. For the emperor, in the fervour of his heart and of the memory of what had passed between them, called to mind that Orlando had promised to give him his sword, should he die before him; and he lifted up his voice more bravely, and adjured him even now to return it to him gladly; and it pleased God that the dead body of Orlando should rise on its feet, and kneel as he was wont to do at the feet of his liege lord, and gladly, and with a smile on its face, return the sword to the Emperor Charles. As Orlando rose, the Paladins and Turpin knelt down out of fear and horror, especially seeing him look with a stern countenance; but when they saw that he knelt also, and smiled, and returned the sword, their hearts became re-assured, and Charles took the sword like his liege lord, though trembling with wonder and affection: and in truth he could hardly clench his fingers around it.

Orlando was buried in a great sepulchre in Aquisgrana, and the dead Paladins were all embalmed and sent with majestic cavalcades to their respective counties and principalities, and every Christian was honourably and reverently put in the earth, and recorded among the martyrs of the Church.

But meantime the flying Saracens, thinking to bury their own dead, and ignorant of what still awaited them, came back into the valley, and Rinaldo beheld them with a dreadful joy, and shewed them to Charles. Now the emperor's cavalcade had increased every moment; and they fell upon the Saracens with a new and unexpected battle, and the old emperor, addressing the sword of Orlando, exclaimed, "My strength is little, but do thou do thy duty to thy master, thou famous sword, seeing that he returned it to me smiling, and that his revenge is in my hands." And so saying, he met Balugante, the leader of the infidels, as he came borne along by his frightened horse; and the old man, raising the sword with both hands, cleaved him, with a delighted mind, to the chin.

O sacred Emperor Charles! O well-lived old man! Defender of the Faith! light and glory of the old time! thou hast cut off the other ear of Malchus, and shown how rightly thou wert born into the world, to save it a second time from the abyss.

Again fled the Saracens, never to come to Christendom more: but Charles went after them into Spain, he and Rinaldo and Ricciardetto and the good Turpin; and they took and fired Saragossa; and Marsilius was hung to the carob-tree under which he had planned his villany with Gan; and Gan was hung, and drawn and quartered, in Roncesvalles, amidst the execrations of the country.

And if you ask, how it happened that Charles ever put faith in such a wretch, I shall tell you that it was because the good old emperor, with all his faults, was a divine man, and believed in others out of the excellence of his own heart and truth. And such was the case with Orlando himself.


No. I.


Poscia ch' i' ebbi il mio dottore udito Nomar le donne antiche e i cavalieri, Pieta mi vinse, e fui quasi smarrito.

I' cominciai: Poeta, volentieri Parlerei a que' duo the 'nsieme vanno, E pajon si al vento esser leggieri.

Ed egli a me: Vedrai, quando saranno Piu presso a noi: e tu allor gli piega, Per quell' amor ch' ei mena; e quei verranno.

Si tosto come 'l vento a noi gli piega, Mossi la voce: O anime affannate, Venite a not parlar, s' altri nol niega.

Quali colombe dal disio chiamate, Con l' ali aperte e ferme, al dolce nido Volan per l' aer dal voter portate:

Cotali uscir de la schiera ov' e Dido, A noi venendo per l' aer maligno, Si forte fu l' affettuoso grido.

O animal grazioso e benigno, Che visitando vai per l' aer perso Noi che tignemmo it mondo di sanguigno; Se fosse amico il Re de l'Universo, Noi pregheremmo lui per la tua pace, Poich' hai pieta del nostro mal perverso.

Di quel ch'udire e che parlar ti piace, Noi udiremo, e parleremo a vui, Mentre che 'l vento, come fa, si tace.

Siede la terra, dove nata fui, Su la marina, dove 'l Po discende, Per aver pace co' seguaci sui.

Amor ch'al cor gentil ratto s'apprende, Prese costui de la bella persona Che mi fu tolta, e 'l modo ancor m'offende

Amer ch'a null'amato amar perdona, Mi prese del costui piacer si forte, Che come vedi ancor non m'abbandona

Amor condusse noi ad una morte Caina attende chi 'n vita ci spense. Queste parole da lor ci fur porte.

Da ch'io 'ntesi quell'anime offense, Chinai 'l viso, e tanto 'l tenni basso, Finche 'l poeta mi disse: Che pense?

Quando risposi, cominciai: O lasso, Quanti dolci pensier, quanto disio Meno costoro al doloroso passo!

Po' mi rivolsi a loro, e parla' io, E cominciai: Francesca, i tuoi martiri A lagrimar mi fanno tristo e pie.

Ma dimmi: al tempo de' dolci sospiri, A che, e come concedette amore Che conosceste i dubbiosi desiri?

Ed ella a me: Nessun maggior dolore, Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Ne la miseria; e cio sa 'l tuo dottore. Ma s'a conoscer la prima radice Del nostro amor to hai cotanto affetto, Faro come colui the piange e dice.

Noi leggiavamo tin giorno per diletto Di Lancilotto, come amor to strinse Soli eravamo, e senza alcun sospetto.

Per piu fiate gli occhi ci sospinse Quella lettura, e scolorocci 'l viso Ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.

Quando leggemmo il disiato riso Esser baciato da cotanto amante, Questi che mai da me non sia diviso,

La bocca mi bacio tutto tremante: Galeotto fu il libro, e chi to scrisse: Quel giorno piu non vi leggemmo avante.

Mentre the l'uno spirto questo disse, L'altro piangeva si, che di pietade I' venni men cosi com' io morisse,

E caddi come corpo morto cade.

* * * * *

Translation in the terza rima of the original.

Scarce had I learnt the names of all that press Of knights and dames, than I beheld a sight Nigh reft my wits for very tenderness.

"O guide!" I said, "fain would I, if I might, Have speech with yonder pair, that hand in hand Seem borne before the dreadful wind so light."

"Wait," said my guide, "until then seest their band Sweep round. Then beg them, by that lose, to stay; And they will come, and hover where we stand."

Anon the whirlwind flung them round that way; And then I cried, "Oh, if I ask nought ill, Poor weary souls, have speech with me, I pray."

As doves, that leave some bevy circling still, Set firm their open wings, and through the air Sweep homewards, wafted by their pure good will;

So broke from Dido's flock that gentle pair, Cleaving, to where we stood, the air malign; Such strength to bring them had a loving prayer.

The female spoke. "O living soul benign!" She said, "thus, in this lost air, visiting Us who with blood stain'd the sweet earth divine;

Had we a friend in heaven's eternal King, We would beseech him keep thy conscience clear, Since to our anguish thou dost pity bring.

Of what it pleaseth thee to speak and hear, To that we also, till this lull be o'er That falleth now, will speak and will give ear.

The place where I was born is on the shore, Where Po brings all his rivers to depart In peace, and fuse them with the ocean floor.

Love, that soon kindleth in a gentle heart, Seized him thou look'st on for the form and face, Whose end still haunts me like a rankling dart.

Love, which by love will be denied no grace, Gave me a transport in my turn so true, That to! 'tis with me, even in this place.

Love brought us to one grave. The hand that slew Is doom'd to mourn us in the pit of Cain." Such were the words that told me of those two.

Downcast I stood, looking so full of pain To think how hard and sad a case it was, That my guide ask'd what held me in that vein.

His voiced aroused me; and I said, "Alas All their sweet thoughts then, all the steps that led To love, but brought them to this dolorous pass."

Then turning my sad eyes to theirs, I said, "Francesca, see—these human cheeks are wet— Truer and sadder tears were never shed.

But tell me. At the time when sighs were sweet, What made thee strive no longer?—hurried thee To the last step where bliss and sorrow meet?"

"There is no greater sorrow," answered she, "And this thy teacher here knoweth full well, Than calling to mind joy in misery.

But since thy wish be great to hear us tell How we lost all but love, tell it I will, As well as tears will let me. It befel,

One day, we read how Lancelot gazed his fill At her he loved, and what his lady said. We were alone, thinking of nothing ill.

Oft were our eyes suspended as we read, And in our cheeks the colour went and came; Yet one sole passage struck resistance dead.

'Twas where the lover, moth-like in his flame, Drawn by her sweet smile, kiss'd it. O then, he Whose lot and mine are now for aye the same,

All in a tremble, on the mouth kiss'd me. The book did all. Our hearts within us burn'd Through that alone. That day no more read we."

While thus one spoke, the other spirit mourn'd With wail so woful, that at his remorse I felt as though I should have died. I turned

Stone-stiff; and to the ground fell like a corse.]

No. II.



Translated from his Commentary on the Passage.

"You must know, that this lady, Madonna Francesca, was daughter of Messer Guido the Elder, lord of Ravenna and of Cervia, and that a long and grievous war having been waged between him and the lords Malatesta of Rimini, a treaty of peace by certain mediators was at length concluded between them; the which, to the end that it might be the more firmly established, it pleased both parties to desire to fortify by relationship; and the matter of this relationship was so discoursed, that the said Messer Guido agreed to give his young and fair daughter in marriage to Gianciotto, the son of Messer Malatesta. Now, this being made known to certain of the friends of Messer Guido, one of them said to him, 'Take care what you do; for if you contrive not matters discreetly, such relationship will beget scandal. You know what manner of person your daughter is, and of how lofty a spirit; and if she see Gianciotto before the bond is tied, neither you nor any one else will have power to persuade her to marry him; therefore, if it so please you, it seems to me that it would be good to conduct the matter thus: namely, that Gianciotto should not come hither himself to marry her, but that a brother of his should come and espouse her in his name.'

"Gianciotto was a man of great spirit, and hoped, after his father's death, to become lord of Rimini; in the contemplation of which event, albeit he was rude in appearance and a cripple, Messer Guido desired him for a son-in-law above any one of his brothers. Discerning, therefore, the reasonableness of what his friend counselled, he secretly disposed matters according to his device; and a day being appointed, Polo, a brother of Gianciotto, came to Ravenna with full authority to espouse Madonna Francesca. Polo was a handsome man, very pleasant, and of a courteous breeding; and passing with other gentlemen over the court-yard of the palace of Messer Guido, a damsel who knew him pointed him out to Madonna Francesca through an opening in the casement, saying, 'That is he that is to be your husband;' and so indeed the poor lady believed, and incontinently placed in him her whole affection; and the ceremony of the marriage having been thus brought about, and the lady conveyed to Rimini, she became not aware of the deceit till the morning ensuing the marriage, when she beheld Gianciotto rise from her side; the which discovery moved her to such disdain, that she became not a whit the less rooted in her love for Polo. Nevertheless, that it grew to be unlawful I never heard, except in what is written by this author (Dante), and possibly it might so have become; albeit I take what he says to have been an invention framed on the possibility, rather than any thing which he knew of his own knowledge. Be this as it may, Polo and Madonna Francesca living in the same house, and Gianciotto being gone into a certain neighbouring district as governor, they fell into great companionship with one another, suspecting nothing; but a servant of Gianciotto's noting it, went to his master and told him how matters looked; with the which Gianciotto being fiercely moved, secretly returned to Rimini; and seeing Polo enter the room of Madonna Francesca the while he himself was arriving, went straight to the door, and finding it locked inside, called to his lady to come out; for, Madonna Francesca and Polo having descried him, Polo thought to escape suddenly through an opening in the wall, by means of which there was a descent into another room; and therefore, thinking to conceal his fault either wholly or in part, he threw himself into the opening, telling the lady to go and open the door. But his hope did not turn out as he expected; for the hem of a mantle which he had on caught upon a nail, and the lady opening the door meantime, in the belief that all would be well by reason of Polo's not being there, Gianciotto caught sight of Polo as he was detained by the hem of the mantle, and straightway ran with his dagger in his hand to kill him; whereupon the lady, to prevent it, ran between them; but Gianciotto having lifted the dagger, and put the whole force of his arm into the blow, there came to pass what he had not desired—namely, that he struck the dagger into the bosom of the lady before it could reach Polo; by which accident, being as one who had loved the lady better than himself, he withdrew the dagger, and again struck at Polo, and slew him; and so leaving them both dead, he hastily went his way and betook him to his wonted affairs; and the next morning the two lovers, with many tears, were buried together in the same grave."

The reader of this account will have observed, that while Dante assumes the guilt of all parties, and puts them into the infernal regions, the good-natured Boccaccio is for doubting it, and consequently for sending them all to heaven. He will ignore as much of the business as a gentleman can; boldly doubts any guilt in the case; says nothing of the circumstance of the book; and affirms that the husband loved his wife, and was miserable at having slain her. There is, however, one negative point in common between the two narrators; they both say nothing of certain particulars connected with the date of Francesca's marriage, and not a little qualifying the first romantic look of the story.

Now, it is the absence of these particulars, combined with the tradition of the father's artifice (omitted perhaps by Dante out of personal favour), and with that of the husband's ferocity of character (the belief in which Boccaccio did not succeed in displacing), that has left the prevailing impression on the minds of posterity, which is this:—that Francesca was beguiled by her father into the marriage with the deformed and unamiable Giovanni, and that the unconscious medium of the artifice was the amiable and handsome Paulo; that one or both of the victims of the artifice fell in love with the other; that their intercourse, whatever it was, took place not long after the marriage; and that when Paulo and Francesca were slain in consequence, they were young lovers, with no other ties to the world.

It is not pleasant in general to dispel the illusions of romance, though Dante's will bear the operation with less hurt to a reader's feelings than most; and I suspect, that if nine out of ten of all the implied conclusions of other narratives in his poem could be compared with the facts, he would be found to be one of the greatest of romancers in a new and not very desirable sense, however excusable he may have been in his party-prejudice. But a romance may be displaced, only to substitute perhaps matters of fact more really touching, by reason of their greater probability. The following is the whole of what modern inquirers have ascertained respecting Paulo and Francesca. Future enlargers on the story may suppress what they please, as Dante did; but if any one of them, like the writer of the present remarks, is anxious to speak nothing but the truth, I advise him (especially if he is for troubling himself with making changes in his story) not to think that he has seen all the authorities on the subject, or even remembered all he has seen, until he has searched every corner of his library and his memory. All the poems hitherto written upon this popular subject are indeed only to be regarded as so many probable pieces of fancy, that of Dante himself included.

* * * * *


Francesca was daughter of Guido Novello da Polenta, lord of Ravenna.

She was married to Giovanni, surnamed the Lame, one of the sons of Malatesta da Verrucchio, lord of Rimini.

Giovanni the Lame had a brother named Paulo the Handsome, who was a widower, and left a son.

Twelve years after Francesca's marriage, by which time she had become mother of a son who died, and of a daughter who survived her, she and her brother-in-law Paulo were slain together by the husband, and buried in one grave.

Two hundred years afterwards, the grave was opened, and the bodies found lying together in silken garments, the silk itself being entire.

Now, a far more touching history may have lurked under these facts than in the half-concealed and misleading circumstances of the received story—long patience, long duty, struggling conscience, exhausted hope.

On the other hand, it may have been a mere heartless case of intrigue and folly.

But tradition is to be allowed its reasonable weight; and the probability is, that the marriage was an affair of state, the lady unhappy, and the brothers too different from one another.

The event took place in Dante's twenty-fourth year; so that he, who looks so much older to our imaginations than his heroine, was younger; and this renders more than probable what the latest biographers have asserted—namely, that the lord of Ravenna, at whose house he finished his days, was not her father, Guido da Polenta, the third of that name, but her nephew, Guido the Fifth.

* * * * *



Non eravam partiti gia da ello, Ch' i' vidi duo ghiacciati in una buca Si, che l'un capo a l'altro era capello:

E come 'l pan per fame si manduca, Cosi 'l sovran li denti a l'altro pose La've 'l cervel s'aggiunge con la nuca.

Non altrimenti Tideo si rose Le tempie a Menalippo per disdegno, Che quei faceva 'l teschio e l'altre cose.

O tu che mostri per si bestial segno Odio sovra colui che tu ti mangi Dimmi 'l perche, diss' io, per tal convegno,

Che se tu a ragion di lui ti piangi, Sappiendo chi voi siete, e la sua pecca, Nel mondo suso ancor io te ne cangi,

Se quella con ch' i' parlo non si secca.

La bocca sollevo dal fiero pasto Quel peccator, forbendola a' capelli Del capo ch' egli avea diretro guasto:

Poi comincio: tu vuoi ch' i' rinnovelli Disperato dolor the 'l cuor mi preme Gia pur pensando, pria ch' i' ne favelli.

Ma se le mie parole esser den seme, Che frutti infamia al traditor ch' i' rodo, Parlare e lagrimar vedrai insieme.

I' non so chi tu sei, ne per che modo Venuto se' qua giu: ma Fiorentino Mi sembri veramente, quand' i' t' odo.

Tu de' saper ch' i' fu 'l Conte Ugolino, E questi l' Arcivescovo Ruggieri: Or ti diro perch' i' son tal vicino.

Che per l' effetto de' suo' ma' pensieri, Fidandomi di lui, io fossi preso, E poscia morto, dir non e mestieri.

Pero quel che non puoi avere inteso, Cioe, come la morte mia fu cruda, Udirai e saprai se m' ha offeso.

Breve pertugio dentro da la muda, La qual per me ha 'l titol da la fame, E 'n che conviene ancor ch' altrui si chiuda,

M' avea mostrato per lo suo forame Piu lone gia, quand' i' feci 'l mal sonno, Che del futuro mi squarcio 'l velame.

Questi pareva a me maestro e donno, Cacciando 'l lupo e i lupicirui al monte, Perche i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno.

Con cagne magre studiose e conte Gualandi con Sismondi e con Lanfranchi S' avea messi dinanzi da la fronte.

In picciol corso mi pareano stanchi Lo padre e i figli, e con l' agute scane Mi parea lor veder fender li fianchi.

Quando fui desto innanzi la dimane, Pianger senti' fra 'l sonno miei figliuoli Ch' eran con meco, e dimandar del pane.

Ben se' crudel, se uo gia non ti duoli Pensando cio ch' al mio cuor s' annunziava E se non piangi, di che pianger suoli?

Gia eram desti, e l'ora s'appressava Che 'l cibo ne soleva essere addotto, E per suo sogno ciascun dubitava,

Ed io senti' chiavar l'uscio di sotto A l'orribile torre: ond' io guardai Nel viso a miei figliuoi senza far motto:

I' non piangeva, si dentro impietrai: Piangevan' elli; ed Anselmuccio mio Disse, Tu guardi si, padre: che hai?

Pero non lagrimai ne rispos' io Tutto quel giorno ne la notte appresso, Infin che l'altro sol nel mondo uscio.

Com' un poco di raggio si fu messo Nel doloroso carcere, ed io scorsi Per quattro visi il mio aspetto stesso,

Ambo le mani per dolor mi morsi: E quei pensando ch' i 'l fessi per voglia Di manicar, di subito levorsi

E disser: Padre, assai ci sia men doglia, Se tu mangi di noi: tu ne vestisti Queste misere carni, e tu le spoglia.

Quetami allor per non fargli piu tristi: Quel di e l'altro stemmo tutti muti: Ahi dura terra, perche non t'apristi?

Posciache fummo al quarto di venuti, Gaddo mi si gitto disteso a' piedi, Dicendo: Padre mio, che non m' ajuti?

Quivi mori: e come tu mi vedi, Vid' io cascar li tre ad uno ad uno Tra 'l quinto di, e 'l sesto: ond' i' mi diedi

Gia cieco a brancolar sovra ciascuno, E tre di gli chiamai poich' e 'fur morti: Poscia, piu che 'l dolor, pote 'l digiuno.

Quand' ebbe detto cio, con gli occhj torti Riprese 'l teschio misero co' denti, Che furo a l'osso come d' un can forti.

Ahi Pisa, vituperio de le genti, Del bel paese la dove 'l si suona; Poiche i vicini a te punir son lenti,

Muovasi la Capraja e la Gorgona, E faccian siepe ad Arno in su la foce, Si ch' egli annieghi in te ogni persona:

Che se 'l Conte Ugolino aveva voce D'aver tradita te de le castella, Non dovei tu i figliuoi porre a tal croce.

Innocenti facea 'l eta novella; Novella Tebe, Uguccione, e 'l Brigata, E gli altri duo che 'l canto suso appella.

* * * * *

Translation in the heroic couplet.

Quitting the traitor Bocca's barking soul, We saw two more, so iced up in one hole, That the one's visage capp'd the other's head; And as a famish'd man devoureth bread, So rent the top one's teeth the skull below 'Twixt nape and brain. Tydeus, as stories show, Thus to the brain of Menalippus ate:— "O thou!" I cried, "showing such bestial hate To him thou tearest, read us whence it rose; That, if thy cause be juster than thy foe's, The world, when I return, knowing the truth, May of thy story have the greater ruth."

His mouth he lifted from his dreadful fare, That sinner, wiping it with the grey hair Whose roots he had laid waste; and thus he said:— "A desperate thing thou askest; what I dread Even to think of. Yet, to sow a seed Of infamy to him on whom I feed, Tell it I will:—ay, and thine eyes shall see Mine own weep all the while for misery. Who thou may'st be, I know not; nor can dream How thou cam'st hither; but thy tongue doth seem To skew thee, of a surety, Florentine. Know then, that I was once Count Ugoline, And this man was Ruggieri, the archpriest. Still thou may'st wonder at my raging feast; For though his snares be known, and how his key He turn'd upon my trust, and murder'd me, Yet what the murder was, of what strange sort And cruel, few have had the true report. Hear then, and judge.—In the tower, called since then The Tower of Famine, I had lain and seen Full many a moon fade through the narrow bars. When, in a dream one night, mine evil stars Shew'd me the future with its dreadful face. Methought this man led a great lordly chase Against a wolf and cubs, across the height Which barreth Lucca from the Pisan's sight. Lean were the hounds, high-bred, and sharp for blood; And foremost in the press Gualandi rode, Lanfranchi, and Sismondi. Soon were seen The father and his sons, those wolves I mean, Limping, and by the hounds all crush'd and torn And as the cry awoke me in the morn, I heard my boys, the while they dozed in bed (For they were with me), wail, and ask for bread. Full cruel, if it move thee not, thou art, To think what thoughts then rush'd into my heart. What wouldst thou weep at, weeping not at this? All had now waked, and something seem'd amiss, For 'twas the time they used to bring us bread, And from our dreams had grown a horrid dread. I listen'd; and a key, down stairs, I heard Lock up the dreadful turret. Not a word I spoke, but look'd my children in the face No tear I shed, so firmly did I brace My soul; but they did; and my Anselm said, 'Father, you look so!—Won't they bring us bread?' E'en then I wept not, nor did answer word All day, nor the next night. And now was stirr'd, Upon the world without, another day; And of its light there came a little ray, Which mingled with the gloom of our sad jail; And looking to my children's bed, full pale, In four small faces mine own face I saw. Oh, then both hands for misery did I gnaw; And they, thinking I did it, being mad For food, said, 'Father, we should be less sad If you would feed on us. Children, they say, Are their own father's flesh. Starve not to-day.' Thenceforth they saw me shake not, hand nor foot. That day, and next, we all continued mute. O thou hard Earth!—why opened'st thou not? Next day (it was the fourth in our sad lot) My Gaddo stretched him at my feet, and cried, 'Dear father, won't you help me?' and he died. And surely as thou seest me here undone, I saw my whole three children, one by one, Between the fifth day and the sixth, all die. I became blind; and in my misery Went groping for them, as I knelt and crawl'd About the room; and for three days I call'd Upon their names, as though they could speak too, Till famine did what grief had fail'd to do."

Having spoke thus, he seiz'd with fiery eyes That wretch again, his feast and sacrifice, And fasten'd on the skull, over a groan, With teeth as strong as mastiff's on a bone. Ah, Pisa! thou that shame and scandal be To the sweet land that speaks the tongue of Si.[1]

Since Florence spareth thy vile neck the yoke, Would that the very isles would rise, and choke Thy river, and drown every soul within Thy loathsome walls. What if this Ugolin Did play the traitor, and give up (for so The rumour runs) thy castles to the foe, Thou hadst no right to put to rack like this His children. Childhood innocency is. But that same innocence, and that man's name, Have damn'd thee, Pisa, to a Theban fame?[2]

* * * * *



Chaucer has told the greater part of this story beautifully in his "Canterbury Tales;" but he had not the heart to finish it. He refers for the conclusion to his original, hight "Dant," the "grete poete of Itaille;" adding, that Dante will not fail his readers a single word—that is to say, not an atom of the cruelty.

Our great gentle-hearted countryman, who tells Fortune that it was

"great cruelty Such birdes for to put in such a cage,"

adds a touch of pathos in the behaviour of one of the children, which Dante does not seem to have thought of:

"There day by day this child began to cry, Till in his father's barme (lap) adown he lay; And said, 'Farewell, father, I muste die,' And kiss'd his father, and died the same day."

It will be a relief, perhaps, instead of a disappointment, to the readers of this appalling story, to hear that Dante's particulars of it are as little to be relied on as those of the Paulo and Francesca. The only facts known of Ugolino are, that he was an ambitious traitor, who did actually deliver up the fortified places, as Dante acknowledges; and that his rivals, infamous as he, or more infamous, prevailed against him, and did shut him up and starve him and some of his family. But the "little" children are an invention of the poet's, or probably his belief, when he was a young man, and first heard the story; for some of Ugolino's fellow-prisoners may have been youths, but others were grown up—none so childish as he intimates; and they were not all his own sons; some were his nephews.

And as to Archbishop Ruggieri, there is no proof whatever of his having had any share in the business—hardly a ground of suspicion; so that historians look upon him as an "ill-used gentleman." Dante, in all probability, must have learnt the real circumstances of the case, as he advanced in years; but if charity is bound to hope that he would have altered the passage accordingly, had he revised his poem, it is forced to admit that he left it unaltered, and that his "will and pleasure" might have found means of reconciling the retention to his conscience. Pride, unfortunately, includes the power to do things which it pretends to be very foreign to its nature; and in proportion as detraction is easy to it, retraction becomes insupportable.[3]

Rabelais, to shew his contempt for the knights of chivalry, has made them galley-slaves in the next world, their business being to help Charon row his boat over the river Styx, and their payment a piece of mouldy bread and a fillip on the nose. Somebody should write a burlesque of the enormities in Dante's poem, and invent some Rabelaesque punishment for a great poet's pride and presumption. What should it be?

* * * * *

No. IV.


Fiorenza dentro da la cerchia antica, Ond' ella toglie ancora e Terza e Nona, Si stava in pace sobria e pudica.

Non avea catenella, non corona, Non donne contigiate, non cintura Che fosse a veder piu che la persona.

Non faceva nascendo ancor paura La figlia al padre, che 'l tempo e la dotte Non fuggian quindi e quindi la misura.

Non avea case di famiglia vote Non v'era giunto ancor Sardanapalo A mostrar cio che 'n camera si puote.

Non era vinto ancora Montemalo Dal vostro Uccellatojo, che com' e vinto Nel montar su, cosi sara nel calo.

Bellincion Berti vid' io andar cinto Di cuojo e d'osso, e venir da lo specchio La donna sua sanza 'l viso dipinto:

E vidi quel de' Nerli e quel del Vecchio Esser contenti a la pelle scoverta, E le sue donne al fuso ed al pennecchio.

O fortunate! e ciascuna era certa De la sua sepoltura, ed ancor nulla Era per Francia nel lotto deserta.

L'una vegghiava a studio de la culla, E consolando usava l'idioma Che pria li padri e le madri trastulla:

L'altra traendo a la rocca la chioma Favoleggiava con la sua famiglia Di Trojani e di Fiesole e di Roma.

Saria tenuta allor tal maraviglia Una Cianghella, un Lapo Salterello, Qual or saria Cincinnato e Corniglia.

* * * * *

Translation in blank verse.

Florence, before she broke the good old bounds, Whence yet are heard the chimes of eve and morn. Abided well in modesty and peace. No coronets had she—no chains of gold— No gaudy sandals—no rich girdles rare That caught the eye more than the person did. Fathers then feared no daughter's birth, for dread Of wantons courting wealth; nor were their homes Emptied with exile. Chamberers had not shown What they could dare, to prove their scorn of shame. Your neighbouring uplands then beheld no towers Prouder than Rome's, only to know worse fall. I saw Bellincion Berti walk abroad Girt with a thong of leather; and his wife Come from the glass without a painted face. Nerlis I saw, and Vecchios, and the like, In doublets without cloaks; and their good dames Contented while they spun. Blest women those They know the place where they should lie when dead; Nor were their beds deserted while they liv'd. They nurs'd their babies; lull'd them with the songs And household words of their own infancy; And while they drew the distaff's hair away, In the sweet bosoms of their families, Told tales of Troy, and Fiesole, and Rome. It had been then as marvellous to see A man of Lapo Salterello's sort, Or woman like Cianghella, as to find A Cincinnatus or Cornelia now.

* * * * *

No. V.



L'abate si chiamava Chiaramonte, Era del sangue disceso d'Angrante: Di sopra a la badia v'era un gran monte, Dove abitava alcun fiero gigante, De' quali uno avea nome Passamonte, L'altro Alabastro, e 'l terzo era Morgante: Con certe frombe gittavan da alto, Ed ogni di facevan qualche assalto.

I monachetti non potieno uscire Del monistero, o per legne, o per acque. Orlando picchia, e non volieno aprire, Fin che a l'abate a la fine pur piacque: Entrato drento cominciava a dire, Come colui che di Maria gia nacque, Adora, ed era cristian battezzato, E com' egli era a la badia arrivato.

Disse l' abate: Il ben venuto sia: Di quel ch' io ho, volentier ti daremo, Poi the tu credi al figliuol di Maria; E la cagion, cavalier, ti diremo, Accio che non l'imputi a villania, Perche a l'entrar resistenza facemo, E non ti volle aprir quel monachetto; Cosi intervien chi vive con sospetto.

Quando ci venni al principio abitare Queste montagne, benche sieno oscure Come tu vedi, pur si potea stare Sanza sospetto, ch' ell' eran sicure: Sol da le fiere t'avevi a guardare: Fernoci spesso di brutte paure; Or ci bisogna, se vogliamo starci, Da le bestie dimestiche guardarci.

Queste ci fan piutosto stare a segno: Sonci appariti tre fiere giganti, Non so di qual paese o di qual regno, Ma molto son feroci tutti quanti: La forza e 'l malvoler giunt' a lo 'ngegno Sai che puo 'l tutto; e noi non siam bastanti: Questi perturban si l'orazion nostra, Che non so piu che far, s'altri nol mostra.

Gli antichi padri nostri nel deserto, Se le lor opre sante erano e giuste, Del ben servir da Dio n'avean buon merto: Ne creder sol vivessin di locuste: Piovea dal ciel la manna, guesto e certo; Ma qui convien che spesso assaggi e gust Sassi, che piovon di sopra quel monte, Che gettano Alabastro e Passamonte.

E 'l terzo ch' e Morgante, assai piu fiero, Isveglie e pini e faggi e cerri e gli oppi, E gettagli infin qui; questo e pur vero: Non posso far che d'ira non iscoppi. Mentre che parlan cosi in cimitero, Un sasso par che Rondel quasi sgroppi; Che da' giganti giu venne da altro Tanto, ch' e' prese sotto il tetto un salto.

Tirati drento, cavalier, per Dio, Disse l'abate, che la manna casca. Rispose Orlando: Caro abate mio, Costui non vuol che 'l mio caval piu pasca: Veggo che lo guarebbe del restio: Quel sasso par che di buon braccio nasca. Rispose il santo padre: Io non t' inganno; Credo che 'l monte un giorno gitteranno.

* * * * *

No. VI.



Orlando and Bujaforte.

La battaglia veniva rinforzando, E in ogni parte apparisce la morte: E mentre in qua e in la, combatte Orlando, Un tratto a caso trovo Bujaforte, E in su la testa gli dette col brando: E perche l'elmo e temperato e forte, O forse incantato era, al colpo ha retto: Ma de la testa gli balzo di netto.

Orlando prese costui per le chiome, E disse: Dimmi, se non ch' io t'uccido. Di questo tradimento appunto e come: E se tu il di', de la morte ti fido, E vo' che tu mi dica presto il nome. Onde il pagan rispose con gran grido, Aspetta: Bujaforte io te lo dico, De la montagna del Veglio tuo amico.

Orlando, quando intese il giovinetto, Subito al padre suo raffigurollo: Lascio la chioma, e poi l'abbraccio stretto Per tenerezza, e con l'elmo baciollo; E disse: O Bujaforte, il vero hai detto Il Veglio mio: e da canto tirollo: Di questo tradimento dimmi appunto, Poi the cosi la fortuna m' ha giunto.

Ma ben ti dico per la fede mia, Che di combatter con mie genti hai torto; E so che 'l padre tuo, dovunque e' sia, Non ti perdona questo, cosi morto. Bujaforte piangeva tuttavia; Poi disse: Orlando mio, datti conforto; Il mio signore a forza qua mi manda; E obbedir convien quel che comanda.

Io son de la mia patria sbandeggiato: Marsilio in corte sua m' ha ritenuto, E promesso rimettermi in istato: Io vo cercando consiglio ed ajuto, Poi ch' io son da ognuno abbandonato: E per questa cagion qua son venuto: E bench' i mostri far grande schermaglia. Non ho morto nessun ne la battaglia.

Io t' ho tanto per fama ricordare Sentito a tutto il mondo, che nel core Sempre poi t' ebbi: e mi puoi comandare: E so del padre mio l'antico amore: Del tradimento tu tel puoi pensare: Sai che Gano e Marsilio e traditore: E so per discrezion tu intendi bene, Che tanta gente per tua morte viene.

E Baldovin di Marsilio ha la vesta; Che cosi il vostro Gano ba ordinato: Vedi che ignun non gli pon lancia in resta: Che 'l signor nostro ce l'ha comandato. Disse Orlando: Rimetti l'elmo in testa, E torna a la battaglia al modo usato: Vedrem che segnira: tanto ti dico, Ch' io t'aro sempre come il Veglio amico.

Poi disse: Aspetta un poco, intendi saldo, Che non ti punga qualche strana ortica: Sappi ch' egli e ne la zuffa Rinaldo: Guarda che il nome per nulla non dica: Che non dicesse in quella furia caldo, Dunque tu se' da la parte nimica: Si che tu giuochi netto, destro e largo: Che ti bisogua aver qui gli occhi d'Argo.

Rispose Bujaforte: Bene hai detto: Se la battaglia passera a tuo modo, Ti mostrero che amico son perfetto, Come fu il padre mio, ch' ancor ne godo.

The poor youth takes his way through the fight, and unfortunately meets with Rinaldo.

Rinaldo ritrovo quel Bujaforte, Al mio parer, che sarebbe scoppiato, Se non avesse trovato la morte: E come egli ebbe a parlar cominciato Del re Marsilio, e di stare in suo corte. Rinaldo gli rispose infuriato: Chi non e ineco, avverso me sia detto; E cominciogli a trassinar l'elmetto. E trasse un mandiretto e due e tre Con tanta furia, e quattro e cinque e sei, Che non ebbe agio a domandar merze, E morto cadde sanza dire omei.

Orlando and Baldwin.

Orlando, poi che lascio Bujaforte, Pargli mill'anni trovar Baldovino, Che cerca pure e non truova la morte: E ricognobbe il caval Vegliantino Per la battaglia, e va correndo forte Dov' era Orlando, e diceva il meschino: Sappi ch' io ho fatto oggi il mio dovuto; E contra me nessun mai e venuto.

Molti pagani ho pur fatti morire; Pero quel che cio sia pensar non posso, Se non ch' io veggo la gente fuggire. Rispose Orlando: Tu ti fai ben grosso; Di questo fatto stu ti vuoi chiarire, La soppravvesta ti cava di dosso: Vedrai che Gan, come tu te la cavi, Ci ha venduti a Marsilio per ischiavi.

Rispose Baldwin: Se il padre mio Ci ha qui condotti come traditore, S' i' posso oggi campar, pel nostro Iddio Con questa spada passerogli il core: Ma traditore, Orlando, non so io, Ch' io t' ho seguito con perfetto amore: Non mi potresti dir maggiore ingiuria.— Poi si straccio la vesta con gran furia,

E disse: Io tornero ne la battaglia, Poi che tu m' hai per traditore scorto: Io non son traditor, se Dio mi vaglia: Non mi vedrai piu oggi se non morto. E in verso l'oste de' pagan si scaglia Dicendo sempre: Tu m' hai fatto torto. Orlando si pentea d'aver cio detto, Che disperato vide il giovinetto.

Per la battaglia cornea Baldovino, E riscontro quel crudel Mazzarigi, E disse: Tu se' qui, can Saracino, Per distrugger la gente di Parigi? O marran rinnegato paterino, Tu sarai presto giu ne' bassi Stigi: E trasse con la spada in modo a questo, Che lo mando dov' egli disse presto.

Orlando meets again with Baldwin, who has kept his word.

Orlando corse a le grida e 'l romore, E trovo Baldovino il poveretto Ch' era gia presso a l'ultime sue ore, E da due lance avea passato il petto; E disse. Or non son io piu traditore— E cadde in terra morto cosi detto: De la qual cosa duolsi Orlando forte, E pianse esser cagion de la sua morte.

[Footnote 1: Si, the Italian yes. A similar territorial designation is familiar to the reader in the word "Languedoc," meaning langue d'oc, or tongue of Oc, which was the pronunciation of the oui or yes of the French in that quarter.]

[Footnote 2: Alluding to the cruel stories in the mythology of Boeotia.]

[Footnote 3: The controversial character of Dante's genius, and the discordant estimate formed of it in so many respects by different writers, have already carried the author of this book so far beyond his intended limits, that he is obliged to refer for evidence in the cases of Ugolino and Francesca to Balbo, _Vita di Dante_ (Napoli, 1840), p. 33; and to Troya, _Del Vettro Allegorico di Dante_ (Firenze, _1826), pp. 28, 32, and 176.]


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