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Printed for Otridge and Son ; R. Faulder; Cuthell and Martin;
Pernor, Hood, and Sharpe ; J. Walker; J. Nunn ; R. Lea; Lacko
Tue fabulous histories of wandering knivhts, distressed damsels, giants, enchanted castles, and the whole train of legendary adventures, that, for a long time, were the delight of our ancestors, are now universally exploded : the inimitable satire of Cervantes has contributed not a little to bring them into disrepute; but however justly he may have ridiculed their many absurdities, yet, perhaps, we have too rashly adopted the contempt, which almost every one now professes for writings, from which it is certain that the greatest poets have derived many fine images; to which we are probably, in a great measure, indebted for the FAIRY QUIEN of our admired Spenser, and which have been the foundation of the ORLANDO FURIOSO, that has procured to its author the appellation of DIVINE
The Italians have among them many works of a similar nature with this poem, being accustomed to translate, or compose romances in the octavo stanza.
Among others, Bernardo Tasso, the father of the great Torquato, published a free translation of the Amadis de Gaul, divided into one hundred cantos: but the much greater part of these performances are not to be considered as rising to any degree of competition with Ariosto,
being little else than wild stories of chivalry, with scarce any tincture of poetical imagery and expression; or heavy dull narratives of fiction without imagination, and of events without interest.
Most of these poems, or rather rhyming romances, are drawn from the current romances of the times; such as the history of king Arthur, and his round table, and the account of Merlin and his prophecies: but the chief of them are built on the romantic history of Charlemain, and the twelve peers of France, called Paladins; which was a title of honour given by Charlemain, to that number of valiant men belonging to his court, who employed their arms in defence of the faith. The principal of these was Orlando, the great hero of chivalry, whose fabulous achievements filled all the books and provincial songs of that age. It is recorded, that when William the Conqueror marched with his Normans to engage IIarold, at the memorable battle of Hastings, his soldiers animated each other by singing the popular ballad of the exploits of Roland, or Orlando.
Dr. Burney, in his elegant History of Music, a book not merely professional, as the title might seem to indicate, but full of general information, has presented us with a great literary curiosity in this old military song, which he thus introduces : “ Charlemain had a great passion for these heroic songs, and, like our Alfred, not only had them collected, but knew them by heart. One of these, in praise of Roland, the Orlando Inamorato, and the Furioso, of Boyardo, Berni, and Ariosto, was longer prescrved than any of the rest. This, the French historians tell us, was began at the battle of Ilastings, by a knight called Taillefer, on whom this honour was