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ENGLISH POETRY.

243 their yet undiscovered feelings. When they came to that passage in the romance, where the lovers, after many tender approaches, are gradually drawn by one uniform reciprocation of involuntary attraction to kiss each other, the book dropped from their hands. By a sudden impulse and an irresistible sympathy, they are tempted to do the fame. Here was the commencement of their tragical history.

Noi leggiavam' un giorno per diletto
Di LANCILOTTO, comme amor le strinse ;
Soli eravamo, et senza alcun sospetto.
Per più fiate gli occhi ci sospinse
Quella lettura et scolorocc' il viso:
Ma sol un punto fù qual che ci vinse.
Quando legemmo il disiato riso
Effer baciato dà cotanto amante
Questi che mai da me no fia diviso
La bocca mi basciò tutto tremante :
GALEOTTO * fù il libro, et chi lo scriffe
Quel giorno più non vi legemmo ayante.

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But this picture, in which nature, sentiment, and the graces are concerned, I have to contrast with scenes of a very different nature. Salvator Rosa has here borrowed the pencil Correggio. Dante's beauties are not of the soft and gentle kind.

Through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen many a fiery Alp .

A hurricane suddenly rising on the banks of the river Styx is thus described.

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Et gia venia sù per le torbid onde
Un fracasso d'un suon pien di spavento,
Per cui tremavan amendue le sponde;
Non altrimenti fatto che d'un vento
Impetuoso per gli avversi ardori
Che fier la falva senz' alcun rattento
Gli rami schianta i abatte, et porta i fiori,
Dinanzi polveroso và superbo,
Et fa fuggir le fiere et glipastori ".

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Dante and his mystagogue meet the monster Geryon. He has the face of a man with a mild and benign aspect, but his human form ends in a serpent with a voluminous tail of immense length, terminated by a sting, which he brandishes like a scorpion. His hands are rough with bristles and seales. His breast, back, and sides have all the rich colours displayed in the textures of Tartary and Turkey, or in the labours of Arachne. To speak in Spenser's language, he is,

- A dragon, horrible and bright,

1

!

No monster of romance is more savage or superb.

Lo dosso, e'l petto, ad amenduo le coste,
Dipinte avea di nodi, e di rotelle,
Con più color sommesse e soppraposte
Non fur ma’ in drappo Tartari ne Turchi,
Ne fur tar tale per Aragne imposte'.

The conformation of this heterogeneous beast, as a fabulous hell is the subject, perhaps immediately gave rise to one of

Cantix.
e Fair. Qu.i. ix. 52.

Cant. xvii. Dante says, that he lay
on the banks of a river like a Beaver, the
CASTOR. But this foolish comparison is

affectedly introduced by our author for a
display of his natural knowledge from
Pliny, or rather from the Tesoro of his
mafter Brunetto.

the

the formidable shapes which fate on either fide of the gates of
hell in Milton. Although the fiction is founded in the classics.

The one seem'd woman to the waste and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold
Voluminous and vast, a ferpent arm'd
With mortal sting

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Virgil, seeming to acknowledge him as an old acquaintance, mounts the back of Geryon. At the same time Dante inounts, whom Virgil places before, “ that you may not, says he, be

exposed to the monster's venomous sting." Virgil then com-
mands Geryon not to move too rapidly, for, consider, what
a new burthen you carry

!
« Gerion muoviti omai,
Le ruote large, e lo fcender sia poco :
" Pensa la nuova foma che tu hai 6."

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In this manner they travel in the air through Tartarus: and
from the back of the monster Geryon, Dante looks down on
the burning lake of Phlegethon. This imagery is at once great
and ridiculous. But much later Italian poets have fallen into
the same strange mixture. In this horrid situation fays Dante,

I sentia già dalla man destra il gorgo
Far fotto noi un orribile strofcio:
Perche con gli occhi in giù la testa spordi
Allor fu io più timido allo scoscio
Perioch i vidi fuochi, e sente pianti,
Oud' io tremando tutto mi rancosco!.

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This airy journey is copied from the flight of Icarus and
Phaeton, and at length produced the Ippogrifo of Ariosto. Nor

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is it quite improbable, that Milton, although he has greatly improved and dignified the idea, might have caught from hence his fiction of Satan soaring over the infernal abyss. At length Geryon, having circuited the air like a faulcon towering without prey, deposits his burthen and vanishes k.

While they are wandering along the banks of Phlegethon, as the twilight of evening approaches, Dante suddenly hears the sound of a horn more loud than thunder, or the horn of Orlando'.

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Ma io senti sonare alto corno:-
Non sono si terribilimente Orlando ".

Dante descries through the gloom, what he thinks to be many high and vast towers, molte alti torri. These are the giants who warred against heaven, standing in a row, half concealed within and half extant without an immense abyss or pit,

Gli orribili giganti, cui minaccia
Giove del cielo ancora quando tuona“.

But Virgil informs Dante that he is deceived by appearances, and that these are not towers but the giants.

Sappi, che non son torri ma giganti
E son nel pezzo intorno della ripa
D'all umbilico in guiso, tutti quanti'.

One of them cries out to Dante with horrible voice. Another, Ephialtes, is cloathed in iron and bound with huge chains.

* In the thirty-fourth CANTO, Dante
and Virgil return to light on the back of
Lucifer, who (like Milton's Satan, ii.
927.) is described as having wings like
fails,

Vele di mar non vid' io mai eft celi.
And again,

Quando l'ale furo aperte affai.

This Canto begins with a Latin line,

Vexilla regis prodeunt inferni. 1 Or Roland, the subject of archbishop Turpin's romance. See supr, vol. i. 132. on CANT. xxxi.

Ibid.

• Ibid.

Dante

Dante wishes to see Briareus : he is answered, that he lies in an
interior cavern biting his chain. Immediately Ephialtes arosc
from another cavern, and shook himself like an earthquake.

Non fu tremuoto già tanto rubesto,
Che schotesse una torri così forte,
Come Fialte a scuotersi fu presto p.

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Dante views the horn which had founded fo vehemently hanging by a leathern thong from the neck of one of the giants. Antaeus, whose body stands ten ells high from the pit, is commanded by Virgil to advance. They both mount on his shoulders, and are thus carried about Cocytus. The giant, says the poet, moved off with us like the mast of a ship". One cannot help observing, what has been indeed already hinted, how judiciously Milton, in a similar argument, has retained the just beauties, and avoided the childish or ludicrous excesses of these bold inventions. At the same time we may remark, how Dante has sometimes heightened, and sometimes diminished by improper additions or misrepresentations, the legitimate descriptions of Virgil.

One of the torments of the Damned in Dante's INFERNO, is the punishment of being eternally confined in lakes of ice.

Eran l'ombre dolenti nell ghiaccia
Mettendo i denti in nota di cicogna'.

The ice is described to be like that of the Danube or Tanais. This species of infernal torment, which is neither directly warranted by scripture, nor suggested in the systems of the Platonic fabulists, and which has been adopted both by Shakespeare and

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p Ibid.

a pine-apple, of saint Peter's church at · Dante says, if I understand the pas. Rome, ibid. Cant. xxxi. sage right, that the face of one of the giants resembled the Cupola, shaped like

Come la pina di san Pietro a Roma.

CANT, xxxii.

VOL. III.

I i

Milton,

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