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Unless I err (thus to himself he said)
By force a passage yonder shall be made.
Now, as he pass'd along the ocean's side,
Alcina's stately city he descry'd.
An ample wall the whole encompass d round,
Which wide enclos’d a mighty space of ground.
The height appear’d to reach the distant skies,
And seein’d of solid gold 10 wondering eyes!
When now more nearly to the walls he drew,
(Such walls as ne'er before could mortals view)
lle left the plain and beaten path, that strait
Led o'er the meadow to the lofty gate;
And to the right, that tow'rds the mountain lay,
The warrior more securely took his way.
But soon an hideous crew oppos’d his course
With savage fury, and with brutal force.
A crew so strange was never seen before,
That such deform’d and monstrous figures wore.
Some, from the neck below appear'd like men,
While heads of apes and cats above were scen.
Ver. 123.-- an hideous creu ---] This passage is copied by Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, where he describes the troop of carnal lusts, besieging the fort or dwelling of temperance,
B. ii. C. xi,
Deformed crcatures in strange difference;
Some having heads like harts, some like to snakes,
Some like wild boars late rouz' out of the brakes,
Some like to hounds, some like to apes dismay'd,
Some like to pattocks all in plunes array'u.
Thene monsters that attempt to stop Rogero, in his passage to Logistilla, or Virtue, signifying the differeni species of vice in the most brutal and sordid shapes. Their captain is Idleness, the prowoter of every evil,
Some, running, stamp'd with goatish feet the road,
And some the shape of nimble centaurs show'd. 430
Lascivious youths were there, and old men mad;
Some naked, some in hairy vestments clad.
One, without reins, a speedy courser rides;
This, a slow ass; and that, an ox bestrides:
Some on a centaur's back their seat maintain ; 136
Some press the ostrich, eagle, or the crane:
One held a bowl; a horn another blew :
Female and male; some, mixtures of the two.
A file, one bore, and one a ladder took ;
A shovel, this; and that, an iron hook.
The captain of the band was there beheld,
Ilis face was bloated, and his paunch was swollid.
Upon a tortoise heavily he satc,
And mov'd along the field in tardy state;
His limbs supported as he pass'd along;
495 Drowsy with wine his heavy eye-lids hung. Some from his face and forehead wip'd the sweat; And others fann'd him to abate the heat. One, form’d with human feet, with hands and breast, But like a dog his head and ears confest,
450 With barking sought Rogero's course to stay, and make him to the city bend his way. You threat in vain, (reply'd th’undaunted knight) While I have power to wield this sword in fight. As thus he spoke, his shining blade he drew, 455 And brandish'd it before the monster's view: The monster thought to strike him with his spear, But this Rogero saw, and, drawing near, Swift through his paunch the deadly weapon sent, That tlırough his back, a fool behind, it went,
his courage rouz’d, he brac'd his shield,
But still his foes more numerous press’d the field,
On every hand at once attack'd the knight,
Who with unyielding force maintain'd the fight;
While, as amid the furious throng he press’d, 465
Some to the teeth he clove, and some the breast.
Shield, helm, and cuirass no defence afford
Against the edge of his descending sword.
But now, thick swarming, round the youth they close,
And so on every side his course oppose,
To force the throng a greater strength demands
Than huge Briareus with his hundred hands.
Yet from the covering had the knight reveal'd
Before their eyes the necromancer's shield,
(That shield whose lustre laid the gazers low, 475
Left by Atlantes at his saddle bow)
At once their headlong fury had been quell’d,
And prostrate all to press the earth compellid:
But here his generous soul perchance disdain'd
To gain a conquest, not by valour gain’d.
He fought deterinin'd rather on the field
To die, than to such foes his freedom yield:
When sudden from the gate appear'd in sight
(Where shone the walls with golden splendor bright)
Two lovely dames, whose air and habit show'd 435
That not to lineage mean their birth they ow’d;
Ver. 485.--lorely dames,---] By these two ladies, who easily persuario Rogero to turn again and enter the city of Alcina, may be generally understood, that though a good disposition will for a long time with. stand the assaults of vice, which comes undisguised in its native deformity, it may notwithstanding yield to that temptation, which appears dressed up in the garb of decency..
Nor seem'd brought up in humble cottage state,
But bred in rich apartments of the great;
Each on a beauteous unicorn was plac'd,
Whose snowy hue the ermin's white defac'd.
So lovely both were form’d, so richly drest,
And every look such dignity express'd,
That each enraptur'd gazer seem'd to own
Their charms were worthy heavenly eyes alone.
Beauty and gallantry such forms must wear
Would they embody'd to the sight appear!
And now the damsels near the meadow drew,
Where brave Rogero closely prest their view.
At once on every side disperse the bands :
The ladies to the knight present their hands,
Who, while his visage flush'd with rosy-red,
Return'd them thanks for such a courteous deed;
Then, at their suit, agreed to turn once more
And seek the golden gate he shunn'd before.
The ornaments that o'er the portal rise,
And jutting forward, seem to meet the eyes,
On every side are richly cover'd round,
With jewels that in eastern climes abound.
Ver. 489.---a beauteous unicorn---] I see no particular allegorical allusion in the unicorns, on which these ladies are seated; which seem merely inserted for the sake of poetical description, and may be very allowable in this author, when Tasso, in the historical part of his poem, has employed the same fictitious animals to draw the chariot of Armida.
Jer. Del. B. xvii.
Freno il dotto auriga al giogo adorno,
Quattro unicorni, a coppia a coppia avvinti.
Beneath the golden yoke, in pairs constrain’d,
Four unicorns the skilful driver rein'd.
Iługe stately columns, by a master-hand
Of di'mond fram'd, the solid weight sustain'd.
So fair a structure ne'er before was seen
To sate the ravish'd eyes of mortal men!
Before the threshold wanton damsels wait,
Or sport between the pillars of the gate :
But beauty more had brighten'd in their face,
Hlad modesty attemper'd every grace.
In vestures green cach damsel swept the ground,
Their temples fair with leafy garlands crown’d.
These, with a courteous welcome led the knight
To this sweet paradise of soft delight.
And sure we this a paradise may name,
Where gentle love first lights his lambent flame:
Vhere festive pleasures every day employ,
Where every moment passes wing’d with joy:
No thoughts of hoary age depress the mind,
Nor care, nor want can here an entrance find;
While, with her horn, obsequious Plenty stands
To pour her riches forth from willing hands;
And with a smiling front for ever clear,
Inviting April revels thi ough the year.
Enamour'd youths, and tender damsels, seem
To chant their loves beside a purling stream.
Some, by a branching tree, or mountain's shade,
In sports and dances press the downy glade;
While one discloses to his friend, apart,
The secret transports of his amorous licart.
High o'er the beech and oak with wing display'd,
High o'er the lofty pine and laurel shade,
The little loves in sportive circles fly,
And view their triumphs with exulting eve: