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account. Gradasso was instigated by the desire of winning the sword and courser of Rivaldo. These wars follow one another in awkward succession. The battles are too numerous, nor are Bojardo's descriptions of them sufficiently varied. But the embellishments of his poem are splendid. Monsters, and giants, and enchantments, are so wonderfully multiplied, and presented with such an inexhaustible profusion of imagination and ornament, that they dazzle and distract, while they excite our admiration. The genius of Bojardo is displayed to great advantage in his delineations of character. Ariosto has ennobled the personages of his predecessor; and developed their characters with greater consistency and taste. His heroes move with more grandeur, and they speak with more eloquence and dignity; but it is from Bojardo that he derived their portraits, and even the physiognomy of their souls. Bojardo taught him the art of peopling his poem with an endless multitude of personages, and of bestowing upon each a distinct and decided individuality; and although the characters of Bojardo are conceived more wildly than those of Ariosto, yet they are more natural and affecting. In the Orlando Furioso, Angelica is a fascinating coquette; but we sympathise with her in the Innamorato, when we behold her kneeling in despair to Rinaldo, who spurns her. When he is plunged in an enchanted dungeon, she appears before him and proffers freedom; she implores him with tears to pardon the sufferings which the enchanter inflicted on him for her sake, and supplicates his pity : but Rinaldo turns a deaf ear to her prayers, and prefers being eaten up alive by the monsters that surround bim. Yet Angelica delivers him. He abandons her without deigning even to bestow a look upon her; and whilst kings and nations are warring only for her, she remains alone weeping, and deploring her unrequited love. All the other personages of Bojardo act naturally, and conformably to their ages and characters. When Ariosto brings forward any of his personages, he still keeps his eye upon the rest, mindful of the general effect of the poem. Bojardo, on the contrary, is more absorbed in the delineation of individuals: he shares their joys and their sorrows, and forgets all his other characters; he even forgets his readers. He seeks to amuse himself, and though he tells his tale to a popular audience, we may yet discern that the story-teller is a feudal baron seated in his castle. He does not appear, like Pulci, in the guise of a poet invited to the table of the great, and surrounded by a learned and critical, though friendly, circle: but as a powerful chieftain, who condescends to gratify his guests by adding the recitation of his poem to the pleasures of the lordly banquet. Bojardo himself was so much delighted with his compositions, that during the last ten years of his life they constituted VOL. XXI. NO. XLII.
his sole employment. According to his plan, the Orlando Innamorato was to have consisted of one hundred cantos; but he only lived to complete sixty-nine, which are arranged in three books. In the last, which remains imperfect, mention is made of the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII. Bojardo died in the same year. He was the most accomplished nobleman of his age ; and filled various bigh situations, civil, military, and diplomatic; but his employments never diverted him from literature. His Timone, a coniedy in rhyme, is one of the earliest specimens of the Italian drama. He published the Historia Imperiale di Roccobaldo,' as a translation from the Latin; but Muratori has shewn that this work is really the composition of Bojardo. He translated the bistory of Herodotus from the original Greek, and the romance of Apuleius from the Latin, and his Latin poetry is sufficiently elegant, if allowance be made for the taste of his age: but he was not master of the beauties of the Italian language; his versification is harsh and abrupt; his style, though less confused than that of Pulci, is more ungrammatical. Pulci enlivened his poem with his native Florentine idioms. Bojardo, who lived at Ferrara, employed the provincialisms of Lonfbardy, which are neither significant nor graceful. But these faults are more than counterbalanced by the wonders of his fable, by the living passion of his personages, and, above all, by the uninterrupted flow of his narrative, which proceeds with unexampled vigour. Hence he always commanded the favour of the public; and hence Ariosto was induced to complete bis romantic lay. Bojardo began by making Orlando fall in love-- Ariosto finished consistently by driving him out of his senses.
Ferrara, and many other towns which then formed part of the dominions of the house of Este, contend amongst themselves for the honour of being the birth-place of Ariosto and Bojardo. But it has been ascertained with tolerable certainty that Ariosto was born at Reggio and Boiardo at La Frata. The question is of no importance except to those inconsiderable towns: but since both writers were subjects of the same state, and passed the greater part of their lives in a town where they had forefathers, and where they left descendants, it is to those circumstances that we may attribute the continuation which the younger bard added to the poem of his predecessor. When Bojardo died, Ariosto was twenty i years old. He began his poem in his thirty-first year, and he
1 finished it in his forty-first, in 1515. Agramante invades the empire of Charlemagne in the poem of Bojardo. Ariosto represents him as conqueror of part of France, and as marching round the walls of Paris. The general fable of the poem results from the wars between all Christendom and all the infidels in the world.
The suspension of the final catastrophe depends upon the love of Orlando and his consequent madness. Thus in the poems of Pulci and of Bojardo the action is protracted by the same reasons which retard the progress of the fable of the Iliad. Whilst Achilles and Orlando are away from the field, the Greeks and the Christians cannot be victorious. In the mean while other heroes appear, great actions are performed, and interesting events succeed each other. The art of Homer appears in the manner in which he detains us with the narrative of sundry events.
We e may quote the death of Patroclus, which fills three books; the last of which is employed in rescuing his corpse from the power of the Trojans; and we dwell upon this episode with pleasure, because we anticipate that Achilles will decide the chance of war at the sight of the body. In the Orlando Furioso the web is entangled, and the memory of the reader can scarcely assist him in tracing each complicated narration to its end. The events do not lead to one grand catastrophe, neither do they arise out of the main action of the poem. On the contrary many of the cantos might be arranged into a complete poem, in which not an action would appear bearing any relation to the madness of Orlando, or to the siege of Paris. His heroes jostle each other; and at the point when the reader becomes most anxious about the prosecution of their adventures, and most curious to learn their destiny, the poet breaks off abruptly and wanders elsewhere and as he does not resume the interrupted narrative until it is nearly forgotten by the reader, he recommences with a few stanzas containing a summary of its leading circumstances. But we must remember that this plan was sanctioned by ancient usage, and that the romantic
poem was intended for recitation. Ariosto had the advantage of long experience; he had reflected upon his art and upon the taste of his contemporaries. And it cannot be doubted that he was satisfied that his plan produced a powerful effect, since in talking with his friend Pigna, whom we have already mentioned, respecting other poems which he had planned, he observed: That he would never discontinue his practice of complicating the principal action of his poem by introducing a great variety of secondary fables, which, although they might distract and bewilder the reader, would at length surprize him by conducting him to the catastrophe of the poem, where he would meet with the development of so many various adventures. Plans are easily formed in theory, yet the greatest men find it difficult to carry them into execution. In the Orlando Furioso the chief personages disappear long before the catastrophe. Helen weeps over th
of Hector at the end of the Iliad; but we lose sight of Angelica, the cause of Orlando's madness, and of
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80 many bloody wars, before we get half through the Orlando Furioso. But such conclusions are ineffectual; we know that we are in the right, but we feel that the poet does not care for our reasonings. He intoxicates the imagination, compels us to be pleased with whatever pleases him, and to see only what he sees.
Aërial palaces-fairies—the ring of invisibility—the golden lance of victory—the winged horse—the flight to the moon, and many other wild fictions, while they amuse us in other poets, though they cause us to pity the credulity of the multitude, are all presented by Ariosto as fantastic creations of nature herself. If we pause and reflect, we cannot give credit to them ; but whilst we read it is scarcely possible to pause for reflection. Ariosto increases the power which he obtains over us by the suspense in which we remain during such a varied series of events, and the confusion which they produce in our memory. At the moment when the narrative of an adventure rolls before us like a torrent, it suddenly becomes dry; and immediately afterwards we hear the rushing of other streams, whose course we had lost but which we were desirous of regaining. Their waves mingle and separate again, and precipitate themselves in various directions; and the reader remains in a state of pleasing perplexity, like the fisherman, who, astonished by the barmony of the thousand instruments which sound in the isle of Circe, drops his nets, and listens to their music.
Perde le reti il pescatore; e ode.' . Ariosto, in the full consciousness of his power, bas created more personages, more intrigues, more battles, more enchantments, more empires, more nations than any of his predecessors. He has not abused his power, yet he is frequently entangled in the exuberance of his invention. Sometimes he says honestly, I have forgotten myself,' but usually he does not appear to be aware of his mistakes, and we must read him again and again before we can convict bim. No one (except the celebrated Dr. Cochi, whose manuscript observations on Ariosto are yet extant at Florence in the Bibliotheca Riccardiana) has remarked that many a warrior fights, after having been killed outright in the field of battle.
Italian poets had hitherto imitated the ancient classics without plan, or meaning. Ariosto enriched his poem with the spoils of Greece and Rome. He places Olimpia in the situation of Ariadne, and exposes her to a sea-monster like Andromeda. He does not hesitate to repeat the incident, and Angelica meets with the same perils. But the circumstances are varied with so much ingenuity, and the poet has gained such an ascendancy over us, that we should not object to a third repetition of the story. Perhaps no poet has imitated other writers oftener than Ariosto, and
yet there is no one who has a stronger claim to the merits of invention. Profoundly skilled in nature and in mankind, he uses the thoughts and images of his predecessors as a conqueror. The madness of his hero seems entirely his own idea ; but we find Orlando raving in the Morgante, when irritated beyond measure by Charlemagne,' he determines to quit France; he rages, and loses his senses, and attempts to kill his wife Alda whom he mistakes for Gano the traitor.
Orlando, che smarrito avea il cervello,
E gli parea a Gan dar veramente.- Pulci, Cant. I. From various and in some measure discordant sources, Ariosto has borrowed a great proportion of the materials which he has incorporated in his poem. The Odyssey, the Æneid, the Argonautic poems, Ovid, and numberless writers of greater or less repute, Greek, Roman, and Italian, have all been laid under contribution by him : thus the Venetians built the church of St. Mark with columns of every order, and of marbles of every tint, with fragments from the temples of Greece, and the palaces of Byzantium. The poem which has resulted from this system cannot be termed either classical or Gothic, but it is perfect in its kind, and though filled with imitations, the whole is original. Instances occur in which Ariosto has ruined passages from the classics in fitting them into his poem; but he not unfrequently surpasses his masters, and embellishes the poetry which appears to be inimitable.
• La verginella è simile alla rosa
• Come orsa che l'alpestre cacciatore
A riguardare ai figli in mezzo all'ira.'