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conferred for his strong and powerful voice. Here he performed the office of herald minstrel at the head of the Norman army, and was among the first that fell in the onset.” The song, to which I beg to refer the reader, so far as it is preserved, attorasian wmirahle picture of the rough martial spirit of the times. I have here inserted one stanza, with the translation, that gives, though in a ludicrous vein, the exact character of Ore lando, as drawn by the romance writers.
“ Pour l'ennemi qui résistoit,
On stubborn foes he vengeance wreak'a,
And laid about him like a Tartar;
He was the first to grant them quarter.
Each milder virtue took possession :
Ilis heart surrender'd at discretion.
* The song (says Dr. Burney) upon Roland, continued in favour among the French soldiers, so late as the battle of Poictiers, in the time of their king John, who, upon reproaching one of them with singing at a time when there was no Rolands left; was answered, That Rolands would be found if they had a Charlemain at their head *."
* See Dr. Burney's History of Music, vol. ii. p. 375,
The romance of Charlemain is said to have been the production of a monk, about two hundred years after the time of that prince: to this story the author has prefixed the name of Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, a prelate of reputation, who accompanied Charlemain in most of his expeditions, and is reported to have written his life; which work is supposed to be lost.
The most celebrated of the Italian poems of the romance kind, before Ariosto, are the MORGANTE MAGGIORE, of Pulci, and the ORLANDO INAMCHATO of Boyardo. The first of these was published in the year 1488, and has its name from Morgante a giant, the principal personage of the poem, whom the poet converts to Christianity, and makes the companion of Orlando in his adventures. This poem, which is of a very singular nature, concludes with the death of Orlando, and the defeat of the Christians in the valley of Ronscevalles; and is thought by some to be entirely a burlesque on the fables of the Paladins : but though many parts of it may appear to be ludicrous, yet others are undoubtedly serious, as the relation of Orlando's death, where that hero, before he departs from life, utters a very devout prayer, which surely no imagination can construe into ridicule. The Italians have indeed many burlesque poems, and among others, one entitled RICCIARDETTO, written about the year 1700, wherein the characters of Orlando, Rinaldo, and other heroes of romance, are introduced evidently to ridicule the actions related of them, which ridicule consists in carrying the fictions to the highest pitch of incredibility: Among other passages, the author describes a tree, the branches of which extended twenty miles round; at the foot of which was a
damsel ready to be devoured by two toads, that are represented so large as to be capable of encountering with a whale. In another place, Orlandino and Rinalduccio, the sons of Orlando and Rinaldo, attack the dwelling or Death, have a personal engagement with him, and by force take from him his scythe and darts. In fictions of this kind the intention of the poet is
apparent; accordingly Ricciardetto is placed by Mr. Baretti among the mock Epics, while the poems of Pulci, Boyardo, and Ariosto are all ranked by him in the number of serious pieces.
Baillet, in his review of modern poets *, seems to have little knowledge of Pulci, and only quotes the opinion of Father Rapin, who affirms that Pulci, in his poem
of Morgante, observes no propriety, and appears to have debauched his fancy hy the perusal of books of chivalry. But Monnoye, in his notes on Baillet, delivers himself thus: “ Luigi Pulci, was a Florentine, and undertook his Morgante at the instigation of Lucrece Tomobuoni, tlie mother of Laurence de Medicis. This extraordinary poem, which is in the octavo stanza, is divided into twenty-eight cantos: the author has observed no rules in the composition of his work, and this not from a designed neglect, as Vincentio Gravina professes to believe, but because he was entirely ignorant of them. He has, without any regard to the judgment of the critics, confounded time and place, united the serious with the comic, and made the giant, his hero, die in a burlesque manner, by the bite of a sea-crab in his heel; which event happens in the xxth canto, so that he is
* Jugemens des savans,
spoken of no more in the eight following. The beauty of his narrative, however, compensates for all his faults, and the lovers of the Florentine dialect are to this day delighted with the Morgante. Some writers attribute this poem
to Politian, and affirin that Pulci had it from him; but this appears very improbable, as all the Italian poems we have of Politian, are in a very different style."
Mr. Baretti, in his account of the manners and customs of Italy, speaks thus of Pulci: “ It is reported by the biographer of Luigi Pulci, that this poet, who fourished about the year 1450, used often to sing long cantos extempore at the table of Laurence de Medicis. It is even pretended he afterwards put into writing many of those cantos, hy the advice and assistance of Laurence himself, Argyropolo, Politian, Giambullari, Marcilius Ficinus, and other learned men, familiarly adınitted to the table of that famous patron of learning; and that the Morgante Maggiore was thus formed, a long poem of the Epic kind, incoherent indeed and full of extravagancies, yet no less delightful than the Furioso itself.”
But whatever merit Pulci may have with an Italian, he would be little relished by a mere English reader, to whom his fictions must appear highly extravagant, and his humour puerile and absurd: nor indeed could we bear, what must appear to us an unccountable mixture of religion, heroism, chivalry, and buffoonery. The exordium of his poem is almost word for word from the heginning of St. John's Gospel*, and every canto opens
* In principio era il Verbo appresso a Dio,
Morgante Mag. C. i, st. 1.
with a religious address, or allusion to some point of scripture, which unaccountable practice seems to have been pursued by most of these kind of romance writers
of that age.
It is to be observed, that though many of the names in Pulci are the same in Boyardo and Ariosto, yet the actions of the first have no sort of connection with those of the last-mentioned poets.
In the year 1496, Matteo Maria Bovardo, count of Scandiano, published his ORLANDO INAMOLATO, the subject of which is the falling in love of Orlando, and the great actions performed by him for Angelica, in various parts of the world, interspersed with the adventures of many other personages, most of whom aitcrwards make their appearance in the Furioso.
It is said by Castelvetro, that the names of Agramant, Sacripant, Gradasso, &c. given to the heroes of Boyardo's romance, were the real names of the vassals of that count, living in Scandiano, a principality of the Mum denese *.
This may perhaps be the case with respect to mny of the names made use of by him; but it cannot be so with Agramant, Orlando, Rinaldo, Olivero, and otheis, that are known to have been popular in the current romances of the times.
This work abounds with a great variety of entertaining incidents, Boyardo being reckoned, by some, one of the greatest inventors that Italy ever produced, but as he was esteemed very inferior to Pulci, in point of language and versification, though far beyond liina in other
* Jugemens des savans, see Monnoye's notes.