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which will show how successful Mr. Wiffen is in the mechanical structure of the ottava rima.

• Years have flown o'er since first my soul aspired

In song the sacred missal to repeat,
Which sainted Tasso writ with pen inspired
Told is one rosary, and the task compleat:
And now, 'twixt hope and fear, with toil untired,
I cast the ambrosial relique at thy feet;
Not without faith that in thiy goodness tbou.
Wilt deign one smile to my accomplished vow.


Not in dim dungeons to the clank of chains,

Like sad Torquato's, have the hours been spent
Given to song';, but in bright halls, where reigns
Uncumbered Freedom -with a mind unbent
By walks in woods, green dells, and pastoral plains,
To sound, far-off, of village merriment;
Albeit, perchance, some springs where Tasso drew
His 'sweetest tones, have touched my spirit too.

O that as happier constellations bless

My studious life, my verses too could boast
Some happier graces (should I wish for less ?)
To atone for charms unseized and splendours lost!
No! the bright rainbow marks the child's caress,
Who can bụt sorrow, as his fancy's crossed,
That e'er so beautiful a thing should rise

To elude his grasp, yet so enchant his eyes.' These stanzas prove Mr. Wiffen's capability of well versifying Tasso, and yet more, of modernizing Fairfax; he has caught much of the Italian variety of rhythm, and avoided all the vulgar seductions of abrupt elision and smooth monotony of cadence.

Having thus returned from the incidental to the more imme diate duties of a translator, it is but just to observe in' conclusion that the exercise of these in the faithful mode in which we conceive they should be exercised, is especially difficult in rendering from the Greek, or from the Italian. To confine ourselves to the latter: it is a language so harmonious in itself, and possessed of so exquisite a prosody, that every thing may be simply related in its verse with dignity and effect; whereas the comparative poverty.of sounds in our own tongue has led our poets and orators to the use of a figurative, and sometimes even to an unnatural, style of phraseology, which is the most opposed to that of Italian poetry. To attempt therefore to give the tint of the original is not always possible; but it is surely better to give no colouring at all than to give a false one; and we acquiesce in the answer which the translator of Ariosto évidently anticipates to the following question :--Would a real lover of Raphael prefer a copy of one of his pictures, which, though well painted, did not convey a true idea of his colouring, or a print of it carefully exe

ted, which would give at least a faithful idea of the design?

But it may be said, is the translator, working according to Mr. Wiffen's system, and not dealing in equivalents, to copy closely every line, however hard to bend into another language; is he to render every thing literally? We say, No: this would be a real infraction of the precept of Horace; one, by the way, of which our favourite Ben Jonson has occasionally been guilty, as in his version of vultus nimium lubricus aspici, to wit,'a face too slippery to behold. What then is to be the guide, and how far is such an author to be literal or not? We answer again, he is to be as faithful an interpreter as the idiom and construction of his own language allow; and (as example is always clearer than precept) we will cite, as the model of translation best agreeing with our notions of what is fitting, a great statesman's extemporaneous version of Tacitus's comparison of eloquence to fire. Eloquentia, sicut flamma, materie alitur, motu excitatur, et urendo clarescit: Somebody having cited this passage after dinner as impossible to be rendered into English, Mr. Pitt instantly disproved the asserțion by repeating ; ' It may be said of eloquence as of a flame, that it requires matter to feed, motion to excite it; and that it brightens as it burns. The example is short, but sufficient. We have here a version of Tacitus, which is spirited, and yet close enough to assist a boy in the lower school of Eton in the construction of his task. :: If any rule can be considered as absolute, we conceive that which, wé maintain; is without exception; and if there be foreign authors, ancient or modern, who cannot be subjected to it, we aver that they may be paraphrased, but cannot be translateda Such is that exquisite idiomatic poet Catullus among the Latins; and such is Aristophanes among the Greeks, of whom we have seen most brilliant and successful imitations and no translation,

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Art. II.-1. Histoire de l'Homme au Masque de Fer, accompagnée des Pièces 'authentiques et de Fac-simile. Par J. Delort. Paris.

1825. 2. The True History of the State-Prisoner commonly called The

Iron Mask;' ertracted from Documents in the French Archives.

By the Hon. George Agar Ellis. London. 1826. THE 'HE debt of gratitude to a discoverer of historical truth

is often more readily acknowledged than faithfully paid. • Extorta voluptas'! is the secret murmur of the many against

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those who remove cherished doubts and specious errors; and no work was ever inore calculated to excite such inward repinings than M. Delort's treatise on the celebrated anecdote of the Man in the Iron Mask. By a research well directed and pursued under favourable auspices, he has divested this strange incident of obscurity and exaggeration, and, at the same time, destroyed the far greater part of its romantic effecti

Voltaire, who first gave the fact a place in history, delivered itz as rumour had conveyed it to him, inaccurately, and with embellishinents well fitted to encourage wild surmises. It was, according to his narrative, some months after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, that an unknown prisoner, young and of noble appearance, distinguished stature, and great beauty of person, was sent in profound secrecy to an island on the coast of Provence. The unfortunate wore, while travelling, a mask, so contrived by means of steel springs, that he could take his meals without uncovering his face, a peremptory order having been given, that, if he disa closed his features, he should be instantly put to death. The minister, Louvois, paid him a visit, and spoke to him standing, and with an attention which implied respect. It was said that, during this period of his confinement, he one day traced some words with a knife on a silver plate and threw it from a window looking to the sea : a fisherman brought it to the governor of the island, who, when he had ascertained by a rigid examination that the man could not read, dismissed him, with the remark, that he was very lucky in his ignorance. In 1690, St. Mars, who had been governor of Pignerol, was appointed to command the Bastille, and under his care the mysterious captive was transferred to Paris, masked as before. In the Bastille he was lodged as commodiously as the nature of the place allowed; his table was excellent, all his requests were complied with, and the governor seldom sat down in his presence. He played the guitar and had a passion for lace and fine linen. The physician, who frequently attended him, inspected his tongue but never saw his face. The very tone of his voice was said to inspire interest; no complaint ever escaped him, nor did he attempt, even by a hint, to make himself known. He died in 1703, and was interred, at night, in the barying-ground of St. Paul. So great was the importance ascribed to this dark event, that M. de Chamillart (the unfortunate war-minister and successor of Louvois) was importuned even on his death-bed, by his son-in-law, the Maréchal de la Feuillade, to unfold the mystery; but he replied that it was the secret of the state, which he had sworn never to reveal.

. It is unnecessary now to examine the various conjectures that were grounded on these and other circumstances which disclosed

them selves,

themselves, or were invented, as the story obtained celebrity.* The masked prisoner was from time to time pronounced to have been Fouquet, the disgraced minister of finance; a nameless person acquainted with Fouquet's secrets; an Armenian patriarch; Louis, Comte de Vermandois, son of Louis the Fourteenth, by Mademoiselle de la Vallière; and the redoubted duc de Beaufort, nicknamed, in the days of the Fronde, Le Roi des Halles. It is true, that the Comte de Vermandois was believed by his mother to have died in the camp before Dixmude, in 1683, and that his father had caused him to be, ostensibly at least, interred at Arras; it is also true that Beaufort was apparently slain and beheaded by the Turks at the siege of Candia ; but, on the other hand, the unknown captive was named, in the register of his burial, Marchiali, which word, by a transposition of the letters, might be read Hic Amiral, evidently pointing out either Beaufort or Vermandois, both of whom were admirals of France! OA grounds not less solid, it has been supposed, that the mysterious prisoner was James, Duke of Monmouth, whom the Londoners imagined they had seen executed on Tower-hill, in 1685. .

But the most favoured hypothesis was that which made Marchiali a son of Anne, mother of Louis the Fourteenth. It was at one time boldly advanced that the prisoner was a twin brother of that monarch, brought into the world clandestinely a few hours after him, and concealed for reasons that are not strikingly cogent. A more plausible supposition was, that the queen had at some earlier period produced an illegitimate son, who, being born in wedlock, and senior to the acknowledged prince, might bave disputed the succession, and was, therefore, to be buried in captivity. The adulterous father was, by some romantic persons, conceived to have been the duke of Buckingham; more feasible suspicions rested on Mazarin. Voltaire, who supposed himself better informed upon the subject than in truth he was, appears to have favoured this last opinion, and it is openly maintained in a supplementary note on the Dictionnaire Philosophique, perhaps written, but at least known and uncontradicted by him. The ingenious essay of Gibbon tends to nearly the same conclusion, but he refers Queen Anne's frailty to the period of her widowhood. The name, Marchiali, was made serviceable to these latter theories, as indicating an Italian father, and the pri

A work published in the beginning of the French revolution, entitled La Bastille dévoilée, contains (in vol. iii. livraison 9.) an ample digest of all that had, up to that time, been known, fancied, or fabled, on the present subject.

See the Dictionnaire Philosophique-Tit. Ana, Anecdotes. Euvres de Voltaire, tom. xxxvii. Ed. 1784. And Supplément au Şiècle de Louis XIV. ibid. t. xxvii.

(Euvres,' t. 1xx. p. 485.
Miscellaneous Works, 8vo. '1814. vol. v.
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soner's love of fine linen greatly strengthened the presumption as to his mother, for Anne of Austria was known to abhor coarse drapery.

Amidst these various speculations, an opinion existed that the object of so much curiosity was the confidential agent of a duke of Mantua, and had incurred this strange and protracted imprisonment, by disappointing Louis the Fourteenth in a political intrigue. So modest, a solution of that which Voltaire termed the most singular and astonishing of all historical mysteries was not likely to obtain general favour; it was early refuted, and would have been so again and again but that M. Delort has lately found out documents which prove it to be true.

This gentleman produces, from the archives of France, and those of the Foreign Office at Paris, a series of letters minutely develop ing the transactions of the French court with the Mantuan niinister, and establishing, beyond any reasonable doubt, the identity of that personage with the Man in the Iron Mask. We proceed to take a short view of the correspondence, thus collected, premising, however, that the principal facts discovered in its earlier part had been long before related with tolerable accuracy by the Italian annalist Múratori, of whose statements we shall, in some few instances, avail ourselves.

In 1677, when the grandeur of Louis the Fourteenth was at its highest pitch, and he was served in all departments by men of courage, genius, and industry, whose ambition lay in gratifying that of their master, the Abbé d'Estrades, ambassador of France to the Venetian State, formed the hope of acquiring for his sovereign, Casal, an important town and fortress in the territory of Ferdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua. This prince, who succeeded his father at a very early age, had arrived at manhood without attaining to power; his mother, a lady of the house of Austria, bore sway over his dominions, and they were wholly subjected, through her, to German influence. The duke himself was a debauched and uneducated young man, who dissipated his time and such money as he could command, in low company, degrading riot, and promiscuous amours.

D'Estrades selected, as his agent with the duke, Ercolo Antonio Matthioli, a native of Bologna, bachelor of laws in the university of that place, and a senator of Mantua. He had been secretary of state to the preceding duke, who graced him with the title of count: he enjoyed, also, the favour and confidence of Ferdinand, but without retaining his former station. As a displaced minister he still busied himself in observing the policy and relations of the Italian states; and appears to have cultivated an intercourse with the Spanish government at Milan, in some hope


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