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TIIE

TWENTY-EIGHTII BOOK

OF

ORLANDO FURIOSO.

Ye dames! and ye to whom each damc is dear,
To this unhallowed tale refuse an ear;
A tale mine host has caught from lying fame,
To stain the lustre of the female name:

Ver. 1. Ye dames ! &c.] This celebrated tale, one of the severest satires that was ever written upon the female sex, has been imitated by several authors, particularly by the witty Fontaine, the prior of France.

Boileau has compared this tale of Fontaine with the Joconde of 11. Boullion, and not only given the preference to the former, but endeavours to shew, that for the pleasantry of narrative, Fontaine is superior to the Italian author; at the same time he candidly speaks thus of Ariosto. Donnez, si vous voulez, à l'Arioste toute la gloire de l'invention, ne lui denions pas le pris que lui est jestement dù, pour l'elegance, la netteté et la brevité inimitable avec laquelle il dit tant de choses en si piu de mots; ne rabaissons point malicieusement, en faveur de notre nation, le plus ingenieux aute!r des derniers Siecles.” Dissertation sur la Joconde de M. Fontaine.

It must be confessed, that several parts of this tale are highly exceptionable in the original for licentiousness of idea and language; yet, if we compare the pasages with other writers of the early times, we shall find that Ariosto is by no means entitied to exclusive cen

A general grossness then prevailed among the poets, particuJarly of the humorous kind, as our own Chaucer will sufficiently

sure.

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80,

ORLANDO FURIOSO. B. XXVIII. Vet such a tongue alike in vain essays

5
To blot with censure, or exalt with praise:
In blaming others, fools their fully show,
And must attempt to speak when least they know.
Pass o'er this part unread, the story stands
Unhurt without it, nor the

page
demands;

10
What Turpin told before, I but rehearse,
No envy prompts, no malice points the verse:
My better lines your matchless worth have shown,
My loyal faith to all your sex is known.
To seal this truth a thousand proofs I give,

15 That still in you, and you alone, I live. Then pass, or with a careless eye survey Th’ opprobrious tale, the fable of a day. But to resume my task---when every guest A due attention in his looks express’d,

20 Mine host oppos'd against the Pagan sate, And thus began his story to relate.

Where Lombardy extends her fruitful plain
The young Astolpho held his peaceful reign,
His brother's heir---renown’d for every grace
Of manly person, and the charms of face.
Scarce could Apelles, Zeuxis, or a name
More fam'd in art, have sketch'd a lovelier frame.
Thus fresh in blooming youth the monarch shone,
Fair in all eyes, but fairer in his own.

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prove; and Spenser, in a later age, will scarcely incur less condemnation. The account of Hellenor annong the Satyrs, is equal for indelicacy to any parts of Ariosto. To this we may add, that the poets of a much more refined time have given themselves such unjustifiable liberties, that the severe eye of decency may find numer. ous passages to expunge in Prior, Dryden, and even Pope himself,

Much less he priz’d his state of kingly power,
His numerous armies, his exhaustless store
Of wealth and friends, in which he far excell'd
Each boasted prince that near dominion held,
Than beauty's gift, whose full perfection rais'd us
His form o'er every youth for beauty prais'd.
Amongst the train that in their prince's sight
Paid daily homage, was a Roman knight,
Faustus his name, whom dear the king esteem’d,
And oft with him would boast how high he deem'd 40
His person's charms, and bade him boldly tell
If one he knew to match, much less excel,
Such manly grace: Thus he in vaunting pride :
And, as he little thought, the knight reply'd,
O king! (said Faustus) doubtless few there are 15
Whose beauty can with Pavia's lord compare :
But one I know may urge so bold a claim,
My brother he, Jocundo is his name:
Set him apart, your charms all charms efface :
His equal yours, or boast superior grace.

Astolpho with surprise these words receiv'd,
And scarce such unexpected truth believ'd;
Then felt a wish within his bosom rais'd
To see this youth-unknown, so highly prais'd;
And Faustus urg'd his sacred faith to plight, 55
To bring this wonder to his prince's sight.

Great king (the knight return'd) with truth I fear,
Hard is the task to bring Jocundo here :
Pleas'd with his humble lot assign’d by Fate,
Scarce is he known to pass the city's gate;

60 He lives content with his paternal store, Nor squanders that, nor seeks to gather more ;

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And he as distant Pavia's towers would deem,
As some the banks of Tanais' iry stream;
But most I dread the attenipt the youth to tear 65
From her whose love partakes his joy and care;
Th’ enamour'd husband from a wife to draw,
Whose every wish to him is more than law.
Yet, gracious king, thy servant shall obey,
And prove each art to speed him on his way. 70

The king adds royal gifts to earnest prayers,
And for his embassy the knight prepares.

On wings of zeal observant laustus flew,
And soon Imperial Rome arose in view :
Then to his brother's humble roof he went,
Told the king's wish, and gain’d his slow consent;
Implor'd the wife, and check'd each rising sigh
With thoughts of mighty gifts and honours high,
And for his sake besought her to comply.
At length Jocundo fix'd the parting day,

80
And steeds and servants hir'd, and fair array
To deck his manly form, for oft the grace
Of costly vest improves a beauteous face.
Meanwhile with heaving breast and flowing tears,
The dear companion of his life appears;

85 Vows that his absence she shall ever mourn, And never live to see his wish'd return. Cease, my lov'd spouse, (the tender husband cries, While equal sorrows trickle from his eyes) Cease thy dear plaints, so Fortune spced my way, 90 As but two months I my return delay, Nor Pavia's profiter'd crown should bribe my longer stay. Ah, me! (she sigh’d) and inust I then sustain Such length of absence, such an age of pain?

Ah! no, the grave
will first my portion be,

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These fading eyes no more their lord shall see:
Then welcome death !--To sorrow thus a prey,
Food she rejects, and groans the night away ;
Touch'd with her grief he lifts his eyes to lieaven,
Oft sighs, and oft repents his promise given. 100

Now from her lovely neck a cross she drew,
Thick set with precious gems of various hue,
Which once a pilgrim of Bohemia bore
When sick, returning from Judæa's shore;
ller sire the drooping stranger entertain'd,

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And at his death the hallow'd relic gain’d.
This cross she begy’d him at his neck to wear,
And in his mind her dear remembrance hear,
With joy the youth is seen the pledge to take,
Not for memorial, but the giver's sake;

110 Since neither time nor place his faith could move, Nor fortune, good or ill, disperse his love; Nor could her image from his thought depart, Or death's strong grasp divide it from his heart.

On that black evening, which fore-run the day 115 That her lov'd consort summon'd on his way, Increasing grief her tender soul oppressid, And oft she fainted on her husband's breast, Not once they clos'd their eyes; no tongue can tell How oft they kiss'd, how oft they vade farewel; 120 Till breaking from her soft embrace he fled, And left her drown'd in sorrow on the bed.

Scarce two short miles he journey'd, ere his mind Recall’d the treasure to his care consign’d, The precious cross, which in his thoughless haste, 125 He left behind beneath his pillow placil.

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