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conquering course through Asia; delivering the oppressed, and earning a title to the gratitude of travellers by destroying two knights (brothers likewise of Mambrino), who, the one by fraud, the other by force, had long been their terror.
Over the two months so spent, Tasso passes hastily to arrive at the least pleasing episode of his poem, — borrowed, without much judgment, from Virgil, in oblivion of the total difference of the circumstances of ./Eneas and Rinaldo, and only interesting as a sort of first sketch of the great episode of Armida in the 'Jerusalem Delivered.'
Floriana, Queen of Media, is holding her court on a flowery plain, overshadowed by pleasant trees, when the two knights-errant appear before her. Struck by their martial bearing, she at once sends a page to invite them to a joust with her warriors. They accept the challenge. Eight approved cavaliers, whose names are given, are overthrown by them in rapid succession; and the nameless throng that succeeds them meets with a like fate. A stroke—the last received in the conflict—which deprives Rinaldo of his helmet, shows the queen that the stranger is as handsome as he is valiant; and while her ladies are applauding his victory, she is falling more sud
denly in love with him than did Dido with her Trojan guest. Her palfrey, as she returns to the city, is led by the Christian knight. With her he enters her palace— richly furnished with cloth-of-gold hangings from its ivory cornices, and Persian carpets of exceeding beauty on its floors—to banquet with her at the table, loaded with massive gold and silver, embossed with stories of the Median kings. While the song resounds during the feast to the music of the golden lyre, Floriana has eyes for Rinaldo only. When it is over, she lends a willing ear to his tales of Roland and of Charlemagne, whose fame is not unknown to her; and bids him tell how, while yet almost a child, he had defended his mother's honour, and forced her calumniator, with his lance, to recant the slanders with which he had defamed her.
Forgetful that love, the pastime of Virgil's hero, is the business of his own, and that Rinaldo's engagement to Clarice is so entirely his poem's mainspring, that its violation is as grave an artistic as it is a moral defect, Tasso proceeds to make his hero return Floriana's passion, and forget in her society, for a while, the lady of his vows. The ancient flame is rekindled in his bosom by a dream :—
Love's gracious star was in the heaven displaying
Yet did such splendour that grieved face adorn,
VOL. CXXXIV.—NO. DCCCXHI.
Yet knowledge of more steadfast gazing born,
—Canlo ix. 82, 83.
Nor does he only see. The vision speaks, and chides the knight so efficaciously for his broken faith and ingratitude to one who has never ceased to love him, and who is now suffering for his sake, that Rinaldo on his awakening resolves, despite his pity for Floriana, to depart at once. When he has executed his
purpose, and gone away secretly along with Florindo, the forsaken queen, first in her anger sends soldiers to compel his return, and then, on their coming back, ignominiously defeated, without him, weeps piteously, and resolves to stab herself with a dagger, once Rinaldo's, which she thus apostrophises :—
O weapon pitiful of cruel lord!
But, only a weak copy of Virgil's despairing Dido, Floriana does not succeed in finding the death she covets. Her aunt, a potent enchantress, snatches the weapon from her grasp, bathes
her eyes in dews of Lethe, and transports her in her magic car to the Island of Pleasure, where all annoyance loses its force, and every coiner becomes glad..
There on the grass the queen she gently laid,
New wakened from that salutary sleep;
No thorn of love her quiet could invade,
Or thought of blessing lost now make her weep;
Though in her mind was fixed the ill sustained,
She could remember it yet not be pained.
—Canto x. 34.
Rinaldo, however, does not escape all punishment. At least the violent storm which he and Florindo encounter on their way back to Europe may seem a chastisement of his perfidy. The mast of their ship snaps amid the shrieks of despairing sailors, the vessel goes to pieces, and the two paladins are obliged to commit themselves to the frail support of a plank, off which a great wave
washes Florindo, leaving Rinaldo alone to lament his loss.
Having at length swum to shore near Ostia, the paladin seems for a while destitute of all things. But a courteous baron receives him into his castle, and supplies him with a horse and with armour. Nor is he long in regaining his own; for how could Tasso deprive his hero thus early in his career of the renowned horse and sword which had already figured so largely in the more famous accounts by other poets of his later adventures? Accordingly—defying probability with as much boldness as heretofore—he saves Bayard and Rinaldo's armour in the boat which brings the ship's crew to land before him. They are sold by the sailors to a knight, who speedily has to fight with their old owner for their possession, and is left senseless by him on the ground, though not till he has slightly wounded Rinaldo with his own sword. Bayard neighs with joy to feel his rightful master on his back again, and caresses him like a faithful dog.
After this Rinaldo rides back to Paris, where he finds Charlemagne—his campaign against the Saracens ended—once more holding peaceful jousts. As the young cavalier presents himself on the field, he is at once challenged by Grifon to acknowledge the superiority of an unnamed lady. "Less beautiful by much than my own," is the instant reply; and suiting the action to the word, Rinaldo speedily lays his adversary in the dust. All beg to know the name of so stalwart a champion. The
knight raises his visor, and is received with great joy by his father and by the whole court. Only Clarice looks sad and draws back in tears. For she was herself the damsel whose charms Grifon—though not by her permission—had been so highly exalting. She forgets that Rinaldo could not know this; and only remembers that he has avouched another lady to be her superior, whom she hastily concludes to be the fair one depicted on his shield. Now that shield was the property of the cavalier from whom Rinaldo reclaimed his horse and armour: in doing which, having spoiled his own, the paladin had seized on the shield of his vanquished antagonist, whose own lady-love is painted on it. The sight of this apparently successful rival to her charms stings Clarice with jealousy, "the cruel daughter of fear and love, that daughter who often slays her parent." Rinaldo comes forward to lift her on to her palfrey, and to guide it back to the city, as other favoured knights were doing to their ladies; but Clarice receives him with such coldness that he exclaims :—
Ah ! bad it is from beggar's hand to steal
Shall then that pain in many wanderings borne,
And all in arms for you alone I wrought,
No recompense enjoy save angry scorn,
Scorn to this heart with bitter sorrow fraught?
Scorn that a cloud in this my state forlorn
Has o'er your beauteous eyes, sweet radiance brought;
Eyes whence my wearied mind once strength could gain,
Refreshment welcome, and escape from pain.
—Canto xi. 11, 12.
Clarice interrupts this expostulation sharply with the words-
and, refusing to listen to any ex-
voked to kill him. Banished on this account from the city, he departs without having made his peace with Clarice—nay, knowing that she now holds him for wholly false and fickle. Too late, he flings the shield, t^ie primary cause of his troubles, into the Seine. No consoling message from his lady follows him. He rides on, he knows not and cares not whither,—
"The while eight times all vermeil in the sky
The dawn appeared, while pearly dew-drops flowed
and, on the ninth day, finds himself in the Valley of Grief.
This dolorous vale is shaded by weird trees, from amidst whose dark and poisonous leaves black ill-omened birds send cries which pierce the heart with a sense of desolation. Rinaldo, overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of unutterable sadness, flings himself from his horse and joins a sufferer, whom he finds crouching on the ground, in his lamentations. There he spends a miserable day and night amid the varied forms of horror which beset that woful dale. And there might the young warrior have easily mourned his life away, had not the ever-watchful Malagigi come timely to the rescue. A sudden movement startles Rinaldo from his lethargy; and looking up he sees that a knightly form has grasped Bayard's bridle and is leading him away. Rinaldo rouses himself to the pursuit, stung by hearing the stranger say that such a courser is too good for
a master who gives way to sorrow like a woman. As he follows, he finds his way through the dark wood by the light of the captor's armour, which casts bright gleams through its gloomy recesses.
Presently the dusky shades are left behind, and he finds himself in an open and smiling country where all looks cheerful and glad, and where he feels his mind lightened of his burden. Bayard is restored to him; and hope revives in his heart at the sight of the fish darting through clear water, the gay flowers that enliven the mead and the fresh green grass in which they bloom.
Nor do the happy presentiments so inspired deceive him. For when, on hearing a sudden clang of arms, Rinaldo hastens to the fray, and helps a single knight beset by many assailants to complete their overthrow, he has the delight of discovering in him the Florindo whom he believed (as the other believed him) to have been drowned I, by his wise paternal counsel led,
in their shipwreck. He learns from his equally delighted friend, how, cast inanimate on the seabeach near Ostia and tenderly nursed by a Roman knight, the descendant of Scipio, he had been discovered, by means of an indelible mark on his side, to be that very knight's long-lost son Lelius,
who had been stolen from him in his infancy by corsairs. Nor had he refused to embrace the faith of his ancestors when his father entreated him to do so: the piety so conspicuous afterwards in the 'Jerusalem Delivered' appearing, as in germ, when Lelius says of his conversion,—
Or rather by God's mighty will impelled,
And with a light divine upon me shed
To scatter clouds that o'er me darkness held,
Resolved to worship him who for us, dead
And living, showed his love, and Pluto quelled:
So was I washed in clear and holy wave
Which, the soul cleansing, doth the body lave.
The reason why Lelius (as he is henceforth called) has so speedily left his new-found home, and been met by Rinaldo in the south of France, is his hope that Olinda may now no longer despise his suit, which he is on his way to Spain to prosecute. As he cannot explain why the strange soldiers attacked him, Rinaldo asks the reason of one of the few who have survived the combat, and hears from him heavy tidings. Mambrino himself is their leader, come to Europe both for love of the as yet unseen Clarice, and from hate to Rinaldo; upon whom he burns to avenge the rescue of Auristella from his sailors, and the death of his own three brothers. And though he has not as yet attained his second object, yet, as the soldier says, he has been completely successful in his first; for, as Clarice fearlessly disported herself in the open air not far from Paris, Mambrino, who was lurking near in ambush, rushed forth and carried her away. Swiftly traversing France, he had come near to the Mediterranean, on which he meant to put to sea with her, when, see
ing the brave show in arms of Lelius, he detached this unlucky troop to capture and bring him after him. Their defeat can give Rinaldo no pleasure now that he has learned his lady's imminent peril. For a moment he feels a chill as of death strike through him; the next instant, flaming with wrath, he is spurring Bayard forward, with but faint hope of intercepting Clarice and her captors before they can reach the sea. An impassable torrent after a while bars the road against him and the faithful Lelius. They are ferried across it, nevertheless, by the everready Malagigi; who has provided, moreover, a strong horse for the one, and a fresh suit of armour for the other. Galloping on through the night, the cavaliers come up at daybreak with the enemy's squadron; in the midst of which rides fair Clarice, sad, and so weary that she can hardly keep her seat upon her palfrey. Overcome by wrath and pity, Rinaldo rushes forward to deliver her; and unhappy in very deed, says the poet, was he who first opposed himself to his fury. The usual catalogue