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Boiardo, Matteo Maria / Stories from the Italian Poets: with Lives of the Writers, Volume 2
Produced by Stan Goodman, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed















Part the Second




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










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


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


Critical Notice of his Life and Genius.

Critical Notice


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gli presterò, volendosi impiccare."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Paradise Regained._

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

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

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

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

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

"Lone sitting by the shores of old romance."

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meantime the pretended Uberto had returned to his station at the
Horseblock of Merlin. He had had a beautiful pavilion pitched there; and
under this pavilion he lay down awhile to refresh himself with sleep. His
sister Angelica lay down also, but in the open air, under the great pine
by the fountain.

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