תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

And PRIAM eke, in vain how he did run
To arms, whom PYRRHUS with despite hath done
To cruel death, and bath'd him in the baign
Of his son's blood before the altar fain.

But how can I descrive the doleful sight
That in the Thield fo lively fair did shine ?
Sith in this world, I think, was never wight
Could have set forth the half not half so fine :
I can no more, but tell how there is seen
Fair Ilium fall in burning red gledes down,
And, from the soil, great Troy, Neptunus' town.

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,
By this rude rime to memorize thy name,

Whose learned Muse hath writ her owne record
In golden verse, worthy immortal fame.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Thou much more fit, were leisure for the fame,

Thy gracious foveraignes prayses to compile,
And her imperiall majestie to frame
In loftie numbers and heroick stile.

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,

11

1

Thence come we to the horrour and the hell,
The large great kyngdomes, and the dreadful raygne
Of Pluto in his trone where he dyd dwell,
The wide waste places, and the hugie playne ;
The waylinges, Ihrykes, and fundry sorts of payne,
The fyghes, the fobbes, the depe and deadly groane,
Earth, ayer, and all resounding playnt and moane.

Thence did we passe the threefold emperie
To the utmost boundes where Rhadamanthus raignes,
Where proud folke waile their wofull miserie ;
Where dreadfull din of thousand dragging chaines,
And baleful shriekes of ghosts in deadly paines

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.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Torturd eternally are heard most brimi
Through filent shades of night fo darke and dim.

[ocr errors]

From hence upon our way we forward paffe,
And through the groves and uncoth pathes we goe,
Which leade unto the Cyclops walles of brasse :
And where that mayne broad food for aye doth floe,
Which parts the gladsome fields from place of woe:
Whence none shall ever passe t' Elizium plaine,
Or from Elizium ever turne againe.

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
That whilom fate on top of Fortune's wheele,
Now laid full low, like wretches whurled downe
Even with one frowne, that staid but with a smile, &c.

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,
His cloake of blacke, all pild, and quite forlorne,
Wringing his handes, and Fortune oft doth blame,
Which of a duke hath made him now her skorne;
With gastly lokes, as one in maner lorne,
Oft spred his armes, stretcht handes he joynes as faft,
With rufull cheere and vapored eyes upcast.

Breme, i. e, cruel,

His cloake he rent, his manly breast he beat;
His hair al torne, about the place it layne:
My heart so molt' to see his grief so great,
As feelingly, methought, it dropt away :
His eyes they whurled about withouten staye :
With stormy syghes the place did so complayne,
As if his hart at eche had burst in twayne.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Thryse he began to tell his doleful tale,
And thryse the syghes did swalowe up his voyse ;
At eche of whiche he fhryked so withale,
As though the heavens ryved with the noyse :
Til at the last recovering his voyse;
Supping the teares that all his breast beraynde

On cruell Fortune weping thus he playnde.
Nothing more fully illustrates and ascertains the respective
merits and genius of different poets, than a juxtaposition of
their performances on similar subjects. Having examined at
large Sackville’s Descent into Hell, for the sake of throwing a
still stronger light on his manner of treating a fiction which
gives so large a scope to fancy, I shall employ the remainder of
this Section in setting before my reader a general view of Dante's
Italian poem, entitled CommeDIA, containing a description of
Hell, Paradise, and Purgatory, and written about the year 1310.
In the mean time, I presume that most of my readers will re-
collect and apply the fixth Book of Virgil: to which, however,
it may be necessary to refer occasionally.

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

& Melted:

poem

1

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.

to

:

« הקודםהמשך »