ページの画像
PDF
ePub

He had mended the version unconsciously. Hoole could hardly, by any chance, have given a line of such deep and varied intonation, particularly as he was obliged to have rave and wave in a passage about a storm. His line is

And Neptune's white herds low above the wave;

which is very different It does justice neither to the sound of the original, nor to the idea of extent suggested by the word mare, or deep; not to mention that Ariosto says nothing about Neptune, but leaves you to that indefinite and mysterious sense of the resemblance between roaring white billows and something animated, which strikes every one who has been at sea, and doubtless suggested the ancient popular superstition to which he may also allude. But it is doing too much honour to Hoole to find fault with him for a particular passage. Let the reader, if he has any curiosity, only dip into his first book, and he may judge of all the rest by a few of his hearts and smarts,-man, span,-side, spyd, &c.

The beautiful and pathetic tale of the two friends “ Medoro and Cloridano,” says Dr. Wharton, speaking of this episode, “ is an artful and exact copy of the Nisus and

Euryalus of Virgil; yet the author hath added some original beauties to it, and in particular hath assigned a more interesting motive for this midnight excursion, than what

we find in Virgil ; for Medoro and Cloridan venture into " the field of battle to find out among the heaps of slain “ the body of their lord. This perhaps is one of the most “excellent passages in this wild and romantic author, who yet abounds in various beauties, the merit of which ought not " to be tried by the established rules of classical criticism.” Postscript to his Virgil, quoted by Hoole. Hoole further observes on his own part (for he sometimes writes a respectable note) that in Virgil " the attempt of exploring the

enemy's camp is first suggested by Nisus, and that the “young Euryalus takes fire at the proposal; but in Ariosto " the youth is the first mover, instigated by love and grati“ tude to his dead prince, which circumstance greatly ele“ vates his character and adds to the pathos of the story.”It may

be added, that Ariosto has contrived to write the story of Angelica with that of Medoro in a manner singularly new and beautiful, and to reward the youth's virtue with life and love, without depriving the episode of its pathos. The danger also into which Medoro is brought by refusing to throw aside his master's dead body, and save himself by flight, is a circumstance exquisitely touching. On the other hand, if these are great additions, Virgil has one or two circumstances extremely natural and dramatic, which Ariosto seems to have thought it as well for his new incidents to omit; such as the discovery of Euryalus by means of the glittering belt he had carried off :---then the care he takes to provide for his mother before he sets out on the adventure, and her introduction after his death, where she gazes on his exposed head in a state of distraction, are both in the best style of the pathetic: and in short, if Virgil had been more improved upon by Ariosto than he has been, his merits would have been on a level with him, because he invented the episode. To say the truth, in comparing two good things, we are never very anxious to lean to this side or that. We are better pleased to relish them both to the full; and to like what they differ in, as well as what they have in common. Our great object is to make others sensible of the merits of as many good things as possible.

All night, the Saracens, in their battered stations,
Feeling but ill secure, and sore distressed,
Gave way to tears, and groans, and lamentations,
Only as hushed as possible, and suppressed;
Some for the death of friends and of relations
Left on the field; others for want of rest,
Who had been wounded, and were far from home;
But most for dread of what was yet to come.

Among the rest, two Moorish youths were there,
Born of a lowly stock in Ptolemais;
Whose story furnishes a proof so rare
Of perfect love, that it must find a place.
Their names Medoro and Cloridano were.
They had shewn Dardinel the same true face,
Whatever fortune waited on his lance,
And now had crossed the sea with him to France.

The one, a hunter used to every sky,
Was of the rougher look, but prompt and fleet:
Medoro had a cheek of rosy die,
Fair, and delightful for its youth complete:
Of all that came to that great chivalry,
None had a face more lively or more sweet.
Black eyes he had, and sunny curls of hair;
He seemed an angel, newly from the air.

These two with others, where the ramparts lay,
Were keeping watch to guard against surprise,
What time the night, in middle of its way,
Wonders at heaven with its drowsy eyes.
Medoro there, in all he had to say,
Could not but talk, in melancholy wise,

Of Dardinel his master, and complain
That he had won no honour that campaign.

Turning at last, he said, “ O Cloridan,
I cannot tell thee how it swells my blood
To think our lord lies left upon the plain
To wolves and crows; alas, too noble food!
When I reflect how pleasant and humane,
He always was to me, I feel I could
Let out this life that he might not be so,
And yet not pay him half the debt I owe.

I will go forth,—I will,---and seek him yet,
That he may want not a grave's covering:
And God perhaps will please that I shall get
Even to the quiet camp of the great king.
Do thou remain; for if my name is set
For death in heav'n, thou mayst relate the thing :
So that if fate cuts short the glorious part,
The world may know, at least, I had the heart.

Struck with amaze was Cloridan to see
Such heart, such love, such nobleness in a youth;
And laboured (for he loved him tenderly)
To turn a thought so dangerous to them both;
But noma sorrow of that high degree
Is no such thing to comfort or to soothe.
Medoro was disposed, either to die,
Or give his lord a grave wherein to lie.

Seeing that nothing bent him or could move, Cloridan cried, “ My road then shall be thine:

I too will join in such a work of love;
I too'would clasp a death-bed so divine.
Life pleasure—any thing—what would it behove,
Remaining without thee, Medoro mine!
Such death with thee would better far become me,
Than die for grief, shouldst thou be taken from me.

Thus both resolv'd, they put into their place
The next on guard, and slip from the redoubt.
They cross the ditch, and in a little space
Enter our quarters, looking round about.
So little dream we of a Saracen face,
Our camp is hush’d, and every fire gone out.
'Twixt heaps of arms and carriages they creep,
Up to the very eyes in wine and sleep. :.

[ocr errors]

Cloridan stoppd a while, and said, “ Look here!
We must not lose this opportunity:
Some of the race who cost our lord so dear,
Surely, Medoro, by this arm must die.
Do thou meanwhile keep watch, all eye and ear,
Lest any one should come:—I'll push on, I,
And lead the way, and make through bed and board
A bloody passage for thee with my sword.”

He said; and hushing, push'd directly through
The tent where Alpheus lay, a learned Mars,
Who had but lately come to court, and knew
Physic, and magic, and a world of stars.
This was a cast they had not help'd him to:
Indeed their flatteries had been all a farce;
For he had found, that after a long life
He was to die, poor man, beside his wife:

« 前へ次へ »