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And PRIAM eke, in vain how he did run
But how can I descrive the doleful sight
These shadowy inhabitants of hell-gate are conceived with the vigour of a creative imagination, and described with great force of expression. 'They are delineated with that fulness of
proportion, that invention of picturesque attributes, distinctness, animation, and amplitude, of which Spenser is commonly supposed to have given the first specimens in our language, and which are characteristical of his poetry. We may venture to pronounce that Spenser, at least, caught his manner of designing allegorical personages from this model, which so greatly enlarged the former narrow bounds of our ideal imagery, as that it may justly be deemed an original in that style of painting. For we must not forget, that it is to this INDUCTION that Spenser alludes, in a sonnet prefixed to his Pastorals, in 1579, addressed To the right honourable THE LORD OF BUCKHURST, one of ber maiesties priuie councell.
In vaine I thinke, right honourable lord,
Whose learned Muse hath writ her owne record
Thou much more fit, were leisure for the fame,
Thy gracious foveraignes prayses to compile,
The readers of the FAERIE QUEENE will easily point out many particular passages which Sackville's INDUCTION suggested to Spenser.
From this scene SORROW, who is well known to Charon, and to Cerberus the hideous bound of bell, leads the poet over the loathsome lake of rude Acheron, to the dominions of Pluto, which are described in numbers too beautiful to have been relished by his cotemporaries, or equalled by his successors,
Thence come we to the horrour and the hell,
Thence did we passe the threefold emperie
c The two next stanzas are not in the Here wept the guiltless Slain, and lovers first edition, of 1559. But instead of them,
dead the following stanza.
That flew themselves when nothing else
avayl'd. Here pul'd the babes, and here the maids A thousand forts of Sorrows here that unwed
wayla With folded hands their forry, chance be. With fighs, and tearés, fobs, shrieks, and wayl'd;
all yfere, That, О alas ! it was a hell to here, &C.
Torturd eternally are heard most brimi
From hence upon our way we forward paffe,
Here they are surrounded by a troop of men, the most in armes bedight, who met an untimely death, and of whofe deftiny, whether they were sentenced to eternal night or to blissfull peace, it was uncertain.
Loe here, quoth SORROWE, Princes of renowne
They pass in order before SORROW and the poet. The first is Henry duke of Buckingham, a principal instrument of king Richard the third.
Then first came Henry duke of Buckingham,
Breme, i. e, cruel,
His cloake he rent, his manly breast he beat;
Thryse he began to tell his doleful tale,
On cruell Fortune weping thus he playnde.
Although I have before insinuated that Dante has in this poem used the ghost of Virgil for a mystagogue, in imitation of Tully, who in the Somnium Scipionis supposes Scipio to have shewn the other world to his ancestor Africanus, yet at the same time in the invention of his introduction, he seems to have had an eye on the exordium of an old forgotten Florentino
poem called TESORETTo, written in Frottola, or a short irregular measure, exhibiting a cyclopede of theoretic and practic philosophy, and composed by his preceptor Brunetto Latini about the year 1270 ". Brunetto fupposes himself lost in a wood, at the foot of a mountain covered with animals, flowers, plants, and fruits of every species, and subject to the supreme command of a wonderful Lady, whom he thus describes. “ Her head touched the heavens, which served at once 6 for a veil and an ornament, The sky grew dark or serene
at her voice, and her arms extended to the extremities of “ the earth'.” This bold personification, one of the earliest of the rude ages of poetry, is Nature. She converses with the poet, and describes the creation of the world. . She enters upon a most unphilosophical and indeed unpoetical detail of the physical system : developes the head of man, and points out the seat of intelligence and of memory. From physics she proceeds to morals : but her principles are here confined to theology and the laws of the church, which she couches in technical rhymes *.
Dante, like his master Brunetto, is bewildered in an unfrequented forest.
He attempts to climb a mountain, whose fummit is illuminated by the rising fun. A furious leopard, pressed by hunger, and a lion, at whose aspect the air is affrighted, accompanied by a she-wolf, oppose his progress; and force him
See fupr. vol. ii. 219.
See fupr. vol. ii. 263. k Brunetto's TESORETTO was abstract. ed by himself from his larger prose work on the same subject, written in old French and never printed, entitled Tesoro. See fupr. vol. ii. 116. 222. And Hist. ACAD. INSCRIPT. tom. vii. 296. feq. The TeSORO was afterwards translated into Italian by one Bono Giamboni, and printed at Trevisa, viz. “ IL TESORO di Messer Bru“ netto Latino, Fiorentino, Precettore del “ divino poeta Dante : nel qual si tratta “ di tutte le cose che a mortali se appar“ tengeno. In Trivija, 1474. fol. After a table of chapters is another title, “ Qui - inchomincia el Tesoro di S. Brunetto
“ Latino di firenze : e parla del nascimen
to e della natura di tutte le cose." It was printed again at Venice, by Marchio Sessa, 1533. octavo. Mabillon seems to have confounded this Italian translation with the French original. It. ITALIC. p. 169. See also Salviati, Avertis. Decam. ii. xii. Dante introduces Brunetto in the fifteenth Canto of the INFERNO: and after the colophon of the first edition of the Italian Tesoro abovementioned, is this insertion. Risposta di Dante a Brunetto “ Latino ritrovado da lui nel quintodeci.
mo canto nel suo inferno." The Te. SORETTO or Little Treasure, mentioned above in the text, has been printed, but is exceedingly scarce.