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E dove ei volge il tardo e grave piede
C. II. st. 35.
Rinaldo retires; Clarice gives a bad reception to one of his letters; he is banished by Charlemagne ; and, after having shed tears abundantly, and recovered his spirits, he at length reaches a spot where he hears the clashing of arms: no sweeter sound could fall upon his ear, so that he hastens like
“ Affamato leon che l' unghie e i denti
C. II. st. 68.
He finds several warriors assaulting a knight: the latter with
“ Tu sospesi per l'aria ir gli diresti,
C. XII. st. 9. By the way they are joined by Rinaldo's cousin, the famous magician Malagigi. Mambrino and his crew. being overtaken, a description is given of them, their arms, devices, &c. Battle is instantly given. Mambrino, observing that his people have the worse of it, orders them all to retire, and pits himself singly against Rinaldo, who salutes him with such a furious blow, that had not Mambrino's helmet been enchanted, our hero would have cut him through, as though he had been a blade of trefoil. Mambrino is stunned by the blow, but soon recovers, and roars like a mad bull.
• Nè sì di rabbia il tauro ardendo mugge,
è in dubbio e teme;
C. XII. st. 55.
After exchanging a number of blows, and whilst Mambrino is half stupified by three or four thundering hits on his enchanted helmet, Rinaldo hastens to Clarice, leaves Mambrino with an odd inch or two of nose,* mounts his mistress on horse
* M. Ginguené, in his Histoire Litteraire de l'Italie, which deserves great praise, and which every Italian, that knows the difficulties under which a foreigner must labour in such an undertaking, readily awards him, gives an analysis of the Rinaldo, and states, that “Mambrin lui-même est tué par Renaud après un combat long et sanglant."- Partie II, chap. 17me. In which the excellent historian mistakes. The combat between those two knights is long, but not bloody, for neither of them is wounded. Mambrino was clad in enchanted armour, which was the reason that Rinaldo could only stun him by dint of heavy blows; and, of course, could not kill him. Rinaldo was preparing to unlace his stunned antagonist's helmet and then despatch him:
“ E ben avrebbe, il suo desir a riva
C. XII. st. 68. And this thought was to go and look after Clarice, leaving Mambrino half dead only from the blows he had received. He is not afterwards mentioned : it is plain, therefore, that he was not killed.
back and conveys her to a palace of his cousin Malagigi's, who recommends the lovers to tie the nuptial kņot with all speed-for which they did not require any persuasion-and the poet leaves them to their bliss with the following apostrophe.
“ Or chę sì destro il cielo a voi si gira,
C. XII. st. 89.
Such is the Rinaldo of Tasso, written at the age of eighteen. It is plainly of the same class as the Orlando Furioso; in the plan, however, it is not a servile imitation of that poem. The young poet has departed from it; and in a short but solid preface prefixed, he states his reasons for so doing: and so much the more interesting is this preface, as it fully evinces that, at that early period, he was fully aware of the necessity of unity, to constitute a real epic poem, and that his mind was already deeply imbued with the principles of sound criticism. This preface is, besides, pleasing if we consider the extreme modesty with which the young poet gives his opinion, stating his reasons not as absolutely good, but as approved by Veniero, Molino, his father Bernardo Tasso, and by Speroni, names still respected. He gives his reasons for not beginning each canto with a piece of moralizing, as Ariosto in his Furioso, and his father in his Amadigi, have done. He obseryes that Ariosto, probably owing to his being obliged to recite his cantos, at intervals, to the Court, was under the necessity of prefixing a sort of proëme in order to connect them. He then shews that the various stories, of which Ariosto's poem and the Amadigi are composed, were another reason for so doing; a reason which did not apply to his Rinaldo, the subject of which was the exploits of a single knight, to which he had endeavoured, according to the rules of Aristotle, liberally interpreted, to give an epic unity; not, however, in the strict sense of the word : for although some parts of the poem may seem superfluous, nevertheless, every one must see, that they cannot be said to be so, when considered all together; since, though it might be said, that taking away any one of these parts would not spoil the poem, yet they must 'not,on that account,"be considered unimportant when viewed as a whole. This position he then confirms by a quaint illustration-"appunto come sebbene, un capello levato dal capo, non rende deforme, pure deforme rena, derebbe il toglierli tutti.” He proceeds to entreat that his
work may not be tried, either by the rigorists of the Aristotelian school, who constantly keep their eyes fixed on the perfect models of Homer and Virgil, or by tắe partial admirers of Ariosto.
It was thus that Tasso argued at eighteen. Tasso being deeply imbued with the reading of Virgil, whom he used to call his own poet, and with that of Homer and the other classics, could not but frequently imitate them, as may, indeed, be seen from some of the stanzas we have cited, and a thousand other instances might be pointed out--but his imitations are not servile copies, nors are they simple translations enchaced in his work as misplaced ornaments: they are always, on the contrary, spontaneous and naturally rising from the subject'; they are beauties suggested by poetic inspiration in a given circumstance, which he seizes on with pleasure, shapes and colours with a master hand, and, without ever recollecting that another had used them, renders them completely his own. Nor is he always an imitator; he oftener creates; and, on equal terms, vies with the great bards of antiquity, and with Ariosto, among the moderns, more than with any other. If his style in the Rinaldo has not the magnificent colouring and elevation so conspicuous in the Gerusalemme, it must, at least, be admitted, that it has fewer concetti and seicentismi: in fact, there is but a single one in all the stanzas we have given, and that we have marked in italics. C. IV: 50.
If the octaves have not that epic gravity, and that full and sounding swell, which afterwards rendered Tasso incomparable in that measure, they run spontaneously, and, at times, with the flow and ease of those of Ariosto, and give the ideas with astonishing force and beauty. The comparisons are frequent; original very often, and striking : the descriptions rich, full of fire, delicate, hit off with all the truth of nature, and without the least apparent art. If the characters are not sufficiently individualised, he has this defect in common with all the writers of the romantic.epic; he, on all occasions, gives a heightening to his hero above all his other personages; and the reader's interest for him never for a moment slackens; the adventures are ingenious, well connected, arising out of each other, and full of variety ; Rinaldo figures in some, even when he does not participate in them; although it is mortifying not to let us know what becomes of Isoliero, of whom we hear no more after the fourth canto, nor of the 'loves of Florindo, to which the oracle promises a happy result, at the end of the fifth. Lastly, the unity is as fully preserved as the young poet intended; but this unity cannot remedy the capital defect of the action, which is not great,--an essential quality in a real epicthe whol raonsisting in the marriage of Rinaldo with Clarice two personages who, notwithstanding the matchless valour of the one, and the peerless beauty of the other, are quite insufficient to render the action deeply interesting.
We proceed to observe upon some passages, strewn, if we may so. phrase it, with the seeds of some of the beauties which afterwards sprang up so richly in the Gerusalemme, and which we will, in general, content ourselves with alluding to, and dwelling but for a moment on a few. The forest of Ismeno, at least in its qualities, seems to have originated in the Forest of Sighs, in the Rinaldo. Floriana, a copy of Dido, is the Armida of the Gerusalemme: the gardens of Armida are much improved, but still, of the same kind as those in which the Palace of Courtesy stood, and those in which Rinaldo finds himself on leaving the Forest of Sighs. In the tomb of Ireno that suddenly rises up, we recognise that of the warrior slain by Rinaldo, in the seventh canto. The description of the death of Clorinda, of her face after death, of the grief of Tancredi on recognising it, seems sketched out in Clizia, and in her husband's account of her untimely end. The death of Lesbino, the Sultan's page, in the Gerusalemme, is an embellished copy of the death of Acteon, in the Rinaldo. Rinaldo slaying the proud Anselmo is the Rinaldo of the Gerusalemme who kills the proud Gernando; as the single combat between Rinaldo and Mambrino, is the rough draught of that between Tancredi and Argante, in the latter poem. Let us make a short comparison of the two pictures and their fellows in the Gerusalemme.
In both poems, Rinaldo is a young man full of fire and blood, who cannot put up with the shadow of an insult; in both cases, he takes ferocious vengeance : but whilst the youthful poet represents him as avenging himself with a poniard, without giving Anselmo an opportunity of defence, the hero of the Gerusalemme not only uses a sword, but does not aim a thrust till he has given his antagonist the lie in formal words, as much as to bid him defend himself; and in fact, Gernando, although he saw no chance of escaping his fate, preserves an intrepid mien.
6 E il
gran nemico attende, e 'l ferro tratto Fermo si reca di difesa in atto."
Gerus. Lib. C. V. st. 27.
Rinaldo, in the Gerusalemme, coolly and quietly retires. without a hand raised to oppose him, in the midst of the fellows of his fallen foe: and who would have dared to stop him? But Rinaldo, in the poem before us, waits the assault of the whole host of the Maganzesi, and, at length, retires in the noble attitude we have above read, and which gives rise to the com