« PreviousContinue »
Tis all that heaven will let them do this day,
—Canto vii. 10, 11.
Rinaldo dares not oiler the con- bushes behind which she lurked, solations which he longs to give, a spy on her hunter-husband—by and rides on in the darkness; only, the dart which he cast at the wild however, feeling sorrow, not re- beast which he ignorantly supmorse,—for he has taken Hugh's posed her to be. Now his anguish life in fair field, and "nought he at his involuntary crime has found did in hate, but all in honour." strange expression. Day and night
The next day's light discloses to he watches the fair corpse in its
him another woful spectacle, and thin alabaster tomb, and constrains
one full of fantastic horror. En- all who pass by to drink of the
tombed in a transparent sepulchre, magic spring beside it; the foun
her fair flesh made, by magic, in- tain of sorrow, which at once makes
incorruptible, lies the beautiful them partners in his grief. It is
Clytia; a second Procris, who has thus that Tasso describes the ap
met with the fate of her Greek proach of Rinaldo and Florindo to
prototype, and been slain — be- the dolorous forest:— trayed by the movement of the
Twas at the hour when in dim caverns hiding
And through it with a crooked foot unclean
The knights around them gaze, but nothing there
Whilst yet the youths advance they near at hand
Who tear their hair, and beat their breasts, ami stand
The tomb they compassed of such living stone
Was wrought, stone so transparent to the light,
That, like to glass or water, it made known
Its inmost secrets to the gazer's sight;
So that to both the warriors soon were shown
Its mysteries hard to comprehend aright:
A ladye lay there, beautiful of face
And lovesome. Ah! what did she in that place?
She lay there dead, yet dead to fire she seemed
—Canto vii. 13-18.
The chief mourner among the whom it bound before now cease knights puts on his helmet, mounts from their lamentations, thank his horse, and commands the two Rinaldo as their deliverer, and strangers to drink the sorrowful hasten to quit the forest, water, or die by his hand. Rinaldo Once more our two young adresists, and, by his victorious lance, venturers proceed on their quest, brings the hapless widower's an- seeking opportunities of distinction guish to an end. He dies after by mountain, wood, and plain, telling his strange tale; nor does The gloomy shades which they the magician who has so long be- leave behind them render doubly friended him desert him in death; welcome the bright scenes amid for a second tomb rises at once which they soon find themselves; beside the first, to keep his corpse as they return to that Bay of in all honour beside that of his Naples which Tasso has such pleabeautiful wife and victim. The sure in describing, and so reviving former spell is broken by the death the happy memories of his own of the doleful knight; the cavaliers childhood, spent beside it:—
On the third day, while the sun equally
Here that fair youth was seen, whom pitiless
Here nard, acanthus, crocus, lilies show
Their opening petals gladly to the air;
And flowers that in this spot alone can blow
By Nature sent to make none other fair;
Amid the which, with sweet hoarse murmur, slow
A limpid stream creeps sinuous on, to bear
Gifts to the sea of coral and of gold,
Than which no richer Thetis' treasures hold.
Here rise not fir, or beech, or oak and pine,
While on this lovely place they gaze around,
—Canto vii. 53-57.
These ladies, clad, the one in pur- which their castle is seated, and pie embroidered with gold fleurs- then the alabaster stair which leads de-lys, the other in hunter's green to its hall. From thence they sparkling with gems,—their white gaze enraptured at the fair proshorses caparisoned with housings pect at their feet; while inside the of cloth-of-silver,—are emissaries room the goddess of Courtesy, iinf rom the Palace of Courtesy; a aged above her own altar in its stately building erected not far midst, first claims their attention, from Posilippo by Alba, Queen of which is afterwards drawn to the Naples, and by her order so en- portraits that hang on its walls and chanted that none can dwell there represent the knights and ladies who who are not pure in life and will- in future days are to be the most ing to spend their time in doing eminently courteous. Among these, courteous acts to others. Of the Tasso takes care especially to place goodly company of blameless dam- his own friends and those whose sels that inhabit it, one is chosen patronage he was already solicityearly to rule the rest; two of ing; especially Duke Alphonso of whom ride forth in turn daily to Este, whose courtesy towards the invite strangers to the shelter of poet was one day to fail so utterly their house. Rinaldo and Flor- ,—the Prince of Urbino, his early indo willingly follow the two mes- school friend—and his first patron, sengers, and climb first the hill on Cardinal Lewis. Among the pic
tures of courteous ladies, he describes his amiable and learned hostess, Claudia Rangona, and the three princesses of Este,—with two of whom his own fortunes were to be so closely involved. Of these,
however, he only mentions one by name, and that (so little real was the gift of prophecy here assumed), not Leonora, but her elder sister Lucretia, of whom he says :—'
Lucrece of Este' see, whose hair of gold
In this hall the knights sit down with twenty fair damsels to a sumptuous banquet, spread for them and waited on by twenty more. Another score act as cupbearers, while yet another play and sing in chorus during the feast. Each had vied with the rest in readiness to disarm them, and to bring scented waters in golden vessels for their hands before it
began. When the strangers have heard the story of the castle, they are filled with desire to enter its enchanted barque, which, as they learn, Alba prepared of old to carry knights-errant forth to suitable adventures, and which now lies moored in the bay below. So purposing, they retire to rest. On their rising—
When now Aurora, wakened by sweet strain
Of wanton birds, came lovely forth to sight,
With rosy hands the mantle dark of grain
Tearing that wraps the gloomy form of night,
While air, earth, water, gleesome laughed again,
Rejoicing in her treasures rich and bright,
And from her fair face heaven kept sprinkling round
With pearls, of morning dew congealed, the ground,—
—Canto viii. 1.
they bid a grateful farewell to their courteous entertainers, receive their parting gifts,—a silver jewelled saddle and accoutrements for Bayard; a surcoat, embroidered, as if by Arachne or Pallas, with the story of Niobe, for Florindo,— and get into the enchanted boat; which straightway, fiying like an arrow from the bow, carries them at once out of sight of shore. Its rapid course is stayed at evening beside a galley of Saracen corsairs, who have just captured a vessel.
Rinaldo leaps on to their deck with his friend and slays the captain of the robber crew; who instantly rush upon him, like bees on an intruder on their hive, but prove powerless to avenge their leader's death, and only procure their own. One alone survives the combat (sent back afterwards by the knights with their defiance to his master); and from him Rinaldo learns that those whom he has killed were servants of the great Paynim king, Mambrino, and that their newly made captives, whom he at once restores to liberty, were destined by them for their monarch's harem. Auristella, the beautiful queen of Arabia, with a train of fair damsels and her attendant knights, owes freedom and honour to Rinaldo, whom she would have gladly gifted with the treasures of the ship to which he restores her. Accepting her thanks only, the two friends return to their magic skiff, which, after it has landed them and their horses on an unknown shore, shoots back as swiftly as it came to Posilippo, there to await the coming of fresh adventurers.
In the strange land in which he finds himself, Rinaldo is speedily reminded of his absent lady; for a pavilion, palatial in size and decorations, which attracts his notice, proves to have been erected to the glory of Clarice by the enamoured Francardo. Her image stands on an alabaster column in the midst of the sumptuous tabernacle; and before it sacrifices smoke and incense burns continually. Hard by the Paynim lover stands, sword in hand, to demand the homage of all comers for his beauteous idol. By the clear light shining from the altar-flame Rinaldo discerns through the air, thick with Arabian perfumes, the eyes whence love first wounded him, the smile to him so inexpressibly sweet, and the lovelocks that first bound his heart. But while he gazes, Francardo's voice summons him harshly to dismount, and offer sacrifice to the image; confessing the while that none but he who thus presides over her worship is worthy to be her lover. "Who art thou? and what thy desert 1" is Rinaldo's rejoinder: "my present purpose is to agree to the first, and dispute the second, proposition." This purpose grows doubly strong when the
young man hears his long-despised rival's name; the blood rushes to his brow, and he declares himself ready to maintain with his sword that Francardo is of all men most unworthy of the privilege of placing his thoughts so high. At this defiance, the Paynim straightway assails him, without taking time to put on his armour. Rinaldo, refusing the encounter on such unequal terms, stands merely on the defensive. Francardo, too enraged to observe the laws of chivalry, rains blows on him notwithstanding; till Florindo's reproaches make him turn his arms against him. In the duel which ensues between Rinaldo's friend and Rinaldo's rival, the former receives a severe wound, but the latter is slain. A general melee follows. Francardo's soldiers rush from the surrounding tents to avenge their general's fall. They are headed by his cousin, Mambrino's brother Clarello, the Warrior of the Lion, — so called from the single combat in which he subdued an enormous lion, which now follows him faithfully to the field. Both attack Rinaldo; but Bayard's kicks keep the king of beasts at bay, till both he and his master fall before the paladin; who, however, mindful of the generosity with which the creature strove to avenge Clarello, changes his cognisance thenceforth, in his honour, from the panther to the lion. Meantime Florindo is getting hard pressed by the other warriors, till Rinaldo, coming to his assistance, makes their mutual victory complete. The survivors take to flight, and no one remains to dispute Rinaldo's right to fair Clarice's image; which he lifts from its pedestal, kisses, and bears away with him.
So soon as Florindo's wounds are healed, the friends pursue their