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ment, his own interests, were not in any way concerned. He had seen a good many of his friends marry, and most of them seemed to be acting under the impulse of a blind caprice. Sometimes it all turned out moderately well; more frequently it was quite the contrary. One fact seemed to be well established, and it was, that no one was willing to accept advice when he had made up his mind that a particular woman was essential to his happiness in life. Such a man always persisted in taking his own road, and he had ample leisure afterwards to wish that he had taken any road but that. These had been the results of Lord Splint's observations of mankind; and they did not inspire him with any extravagant eagerness to rush into the campaign which Lady Tresham had prepared for him.
Three days went by, and as yet no opportunity had been found of making even an approach to the subject. The young baronet seemed determined to avoid it; and Lord Splint remained fixed in his belief that it would be unwise to run the risk of appearing as an intermeddler on the scene. Soon it would be necessary for both the Under Secretaries to return to their official duties. Public affairs were in a state which did not seem to be satisfactory to anybody in the country, not even to Mr Spinner himself. It is true that the younger members of the Administration could not do much to make the crooked straight; but it was necessary that they should be at their posts. Lord Splint needed no spur: he had found so great a pleasure in the daily routine of office work, that he wished himself back again under the shadow of the Victoria clock tower before he had been out of London twenty-four hours. It is a great thought that one is serving one's country, even if it be only in
a subordinate capacity. Few men who have experienced the joys and cares of office, ever relinquish them voluntarily. As for Sir Reginald, he was not now filled with the same ardour; but it must be considered that he had engrossing affairs of his own to occupy his mind. The face of Kate Margrave was before him a hundred times a-day, — sometimes with that winning smile upon it which Reginald remembered only too well, sometimes with a half-reproachful expression, which caused him to ask himself whether he had done right in keeping a silence which might be deemed harsh, and even cruel. Yet he was not even quite sure where she was —somewhere in London, so he had gathered from her letter; no doubt he could ascertain where by writing to Delvar. But if Kate had wished him to know, would she have left him to adopt any such expedient as that? Might it not well be that the sentence pronounced in her letter was the right one, and that, whatever might be the pain to him or to her, it was better that they should not meet again?
On the afternoon of this third day the two friends went out for a long stroll,—through deep lanes, where primroses gleamed like stars; and over hills, where the gorse was spreading a carpet of gold on either side of the narrow pathway. Spring, for once, had deigned to visit England in the guise with which the poets of older days invested her; everything in nature was rejoicing beneath the unclouded rays of the sun. Reginald remembered Kate's passionate love for wild flowers; it was with a recollection of her that he plucked some primroses and violets as he walked along; but he had no sooner gathered them than he flung them from him with a sigh.
"My dear fellow," said Lord Splint, unable longer to maintain his reserve, "it is quite evident that you are ill at ease. You are thinking, of course, of that strange affair down at the Grange yonder —is it not so?"
"You have heard all about it 1"
"Oh yes; so has everybody else. Recollect, too, that I know the young lady well, and esteem her as highly as you do. But in such a position as this you are powerless. You cannot restore the lost fortune."
"I cannot do that ; but I am not willing to have it even seen that I deserted my betrothed the moment trouble fell upon her. Come what may, I should prefer to stand by her, if she would let me.
"There, as I understand it, is the difficulty. I only know the general facts from your mother; but is it not true that Miss Margrave has almost closed the door even to correspondence of any kind!"
"I daresay that would be the interpretation wlrich her letter would bear; but I have been most unwilling to take it in that light. She was considerate for me, and was not thinking of herself when she wrote that letter. I honour her all the more for her high feeling and pride; but have I a right to take advantage of the spirit she has shown 1 I can tell you frankly that I am not at all disposed to do so."
"It is entirely a question for you to decide," said Lord Splint, after a moment's pause. "I certainly think that a marriage under such circumstances as these would be a very grave experiment."
"Well, well, marriage is always that—at least so people who have tried it tell you."
"Not always: the risks may at least be greatly diminished. At any rate, I do not think that any
one would counsel you to act precipitately in such a matter as this. Will there be any great harm in your waiting a little while, and"
"Without seeing Miss Margrave again?" interrupted Sir Reginald, impatiently.
"No; I was not going to suggest that. See her again, by all means, if you can do so without wounding her delicacy. But, remember, her father's circumstances are greatly altered, and neither of them might wish you to suddenly present yourself at their lodgings."
"Lodgings 1" The word seemed to disclose to Reginald's startled view the greatness and significance of the change which had happened.
"So I understood from Delvar before I left town. I did not hear precisely where—somewhere in the north of London. Delvar had been to see them, and Miss Margrave was endeavouring to gain some employment by her pencil. She is veiy clever."
A deep flush suffused the lover's face. If he had been as rich as Lord Splint at that moment, there would have been no longer any uncertainty in his mind as to the proper course for him to pursue. "Ought there," he said over and over again to himself, "to be a doubt even now?"
"And she will succeed," continued the young man with the old head; "and in the meantime they are not in necessitous circumstances. I am morally certain that she would rather make the most modest independence by her own exertions than be a burden to a man whom she knows to be almost as poor as herself. This is not the romantic or heroic view of the affair; but it is the sensible one."
"It seems to me the cold-blooded one. Were you ever in love, Splint?"
"Am I not married?" returned the young lord, with a look of real or feigned astonishment.
"To be sure—I forgot. Well, would you have acted as you now advise me to act if Miss Malbrook had lost all her money one day, and had been obliged to find refuge in some obscure London lodginghouse J"
"It is always difficult to say how one would act under imaginary circumstances,"replied Lord Splint, with some uneasiness of manner. "I cannot say what I should have done. I suppose it would have depended very much on the lady. Had she expressed a desire not to see me again, I think I should have consulted her wishes."
"You are a good fellow at heart, Splint, I believe; but you do not talk like one now."
"What would you have me say? That poverty is easier for two persons to bear than for one? You are always reading Keats—do you remember what he says 1—
* Love in a hut, with water and a crust, Is—Love forgive us !—cinders, ashes, dust.'
There you have, for once, sober fact from a poet. You see it agrees entirely with my view. Two persons in your position who marry without a comfortable provision— I do not mean wealth—are foredoomed to misery. The man will blame the woman for hindering him in his career; the woman will blame the man for not giving her the ample means to which she thinks herself entitled. Such are my opinions. They will be yours some day."
Reginald could scarcely restrain a smile at the portentous manner of the rising statesman. It almost seemed that he had abandoned his old model, Fox, and was paying the homage of imitation to Mr
Spinner. But the conversation came to an end. Both saw the uselessness of pursuing it further.
That evening, as Lord Splint was hurrying up-stairs to dress for dinner, Lady Tresham opened her door and beckoned him within. "Have you spoken to him?" she said, eagerly.
"I have; and I believe that his affections are more deeply involved than you seem to have supposed."
"Dear Lord Splint," she said, wringing her hands, "can nothing be done 1 Is he resolved upon this wretched marriage 1"
"It is hard to say, but I am rather inclined to hope that I have made some impression upon him."
"He is so obstinate—so diificult to move when he is set upon a purpose. His father was the same ;" and the poor lady sighed, for she remembered how very difficult it had been to manage her husband.
"Well, we must hope for the best. I have urged him at least to wait, and I think he will do that. His manner gave me that impression."
"Then he has not written to her?"
"Evidently not; in fact he does not know her address."
"And you think he will take your advice and wait?"
"I am sure he will."
"My dear friend, how good you have been to me! I know Reginald; he will not promise anything, but he will not be carried away by impulse. You have indeed done well. The young lady will never be my son's wife."
She appeared at dinner radiant and delighted; but mothers cannot always read their sons' hearts. The next day the two officials returned to their duties without another word on a subject which both wished more than ever to shun.
THE RINALDO OF TOEQUATO TASSO.
The title of this paper will unavoidably suggest a false idea to the reader's mind. He will expect from it a disquisition on the character of Rinaldo, the youthful hero of Tasso's 'Jerusalem Delivered '; an examination into the extent to which the Italian poet's brilliant copy of the Homeric Achilles falls short of the Hellenic delineation of the "divine wrath " of the son of Peleus; and a comparison of Armida with Dido, and of Eneas with Rinaldo, in that fine episode of his work in which Tasso owes so much to Virgil. It is desirable, therefore, to explain at once that the Rinaldo now to be treated of is not the creation of Tasso, but of the old romancers—not the son of Berthold and Sophia, but the son of Aymon and Beatrice; not the individual property, so to speak, of the singer of the Crusade, but the figure already made familiar to the Italian public in the pages of Boiardo and of Ariosto.
Of him Tasso, while yet a student at Padua, wrote, taking his hero's earliest youth as his theme; a theme congenial to his own age, which was then but eighteen. The poem in octaves which he indited in Rinaldo's honour, is more than half the length of the 'Jerusalem Delivered,' and is contained in twelve books. Forgotten now,— so completely, that it is very probable that these words may give the first intimation to many readers that they ever had of its existence, —it was yet extremely popular at its first appearance, encircled its youthful author's head with a halo
of celebrity, and forged one of the earliest links in that chain—golden at first but afterwards of iron— which drew him to Ferrara and to the Court of Alphonso of Este.
Although in itself lacking several of the attributes necessary to secure abiding popularity to so long a poem, the Rinaldo, alike for its own undoubted merits, and still more as the first essay of the yet immature genius which was afterwards to produce such great results, is not unworthy of attention; and it may be that a short account of it may win the gratitude of some reader curious in Italian literature, or succeed not unacceptably in occupying a vacant half-hour for some lover of the tales of chivalry.
The epoch of the Rinaldo, then, is, as has been already intimated, the time of Charlemagne,—-whose great conflicts with the Saracens, so vigorously depicted by Ariosto, form only a background for Tasso's picture of a young champion who fights, in the first place, for love— in the second, for mere personal glory. His hero is first exhibited to us as fired with generous emulation by the exploits of his cousin Orlando, the Roland of northern song; he laments in a secluded meadow near Paris the inglorious days which he has himself been spending. A kindred regret has been awakened likewise in the breast of another cousin of Rinaldo, that potent enchanter Malagigi, so familiar to readers of the 'Orlando Furioso,' and he hastens to assist his young kinsman, who, attracted by the neighing of a war-horse, sees a splendid suit of armour hanging ready for his use on the tree to which the courser is tethered, and knows that it is meant for him by seeing his ancestral crest, the panther, on the shield. Rinaldo has already received knighthood from the hands of Charlemagne on the day on which, a mere boy, he vindicated his mother's honour from unjust aspersions; but the vow which he then made, to wear no sword till he has taken some brave warrior's weapon by force, still binds him; and so, while putting on the arms provided for him by Malagigi's thoughtful care, he leaves the sword behind. Nor is the horse which he now mounts destined long to bear him. His sorcerer kinsman knows that the hour has come for him to win a nobler steed which the fates are reserving for him. In the forest of Ardennes roves, free and terrible to all who meet him, the mighty Bayard,— brought there of old by Amadis of Gaul,1 and laid, after his death, under a spell which preserves him in perpetual youth for the use of a descendant of his former owner who shall be his equal in valour. Both these conditions are fulfilled by Rinaldo, and Malagigi impels him to the enterprise.
II Rinaldo di Torquato Tasso.
Tasso—vol. xvi. of Blackwood's Foreign Classics.
On his way to seek it, the knight has an encounter of vast influence on his future life. A sunshine is made in the shady places of the forest through which he rides by a beauteous lady, who is there chasing a milk-white hind. Her golden hair waves freely to the wind, a sweet light shines from her
eyes, lilies and rosos mingle on her cheeks, while from her brow of ivory there "descends a grace able to gladden any sorrowful soul." Rinaldo looks and loves at once, bursting forth into the reverent salutation — "Lady or goddess, whichsoever you be, may heaven ever bring you safety and peace! and even as it has already made you charming and beautiful, so may each star rain blessedness upon your head !". Then vowing himself to the damsel's service, he humbly asks her name. Thereupon the unknown beauty is disclosed to him as Clarice, sister of the Count of Gascony, and hears in return that she sees before her the descendant of Constantino, the son of Aymon, Count of Claremont. "Who has not heard of your ancestors, and of the exploits of your father, and of your cousin Orlando against the Moors 1" rejoins the lady; "but as yet fame has reported to us none of yours." "With your favour I would not fear to meet that paladin in arms, and would bring you a good account of him," answers Rinaldo, stung to the heart by the implied doubt. Just at this moment Clarice's own attendant knights ride up in search of her ; and she, with the recklessness of consequences usual in the chivalric romances, smilingly bids Rinaldo prove himself on them—saying that he who is a match for Orlando can easily overthrow them all. The knight takes her at her word, challenges the whole troop to show who is worthiest to guard their lady, and a terrible, and, alas! bloody combat follows—in which,
1 Here the young Torquato links his work to his father Bernardo's, whose 'Amadigi' was his loved employment in prosperity, and the consolation of his exiled years. The old romances made Malagigi, not Rinaldo, subdue Bayard; and indeed Tasso was indebted to them for very little but the names of his hero and heroine.