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WILEY AND PUTNAM'S

LIBRARY OF

CHOICE READING,
STORIES FROM THE ITALIAN POETS,



Lately Published.

In Two Parts, IGmo., and bound in extra cloth by Bradley.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENVENUTO CELLINI.

THE COMPLETE AND ANNOTATED EDITION OF ROSCOE.



Notices of the Work.

" Cellini was one of the most extraordinary men in an extraordinary age ;
his life, written by himself, is more amusing than any novel I know."

Horace Walpolc.

[F^rom the Retrospective Review.]

"This is, perhaps, the most perfect piece of autobiography that ever was
written, whether considered with reference to the candour and veracity of the
author, the spirit of the incidents, or the breathing vitality of the narrative. It
has also the recommendation of having been written at a very interesting pe-
riod of literary history, and of recording some curious particulars relative to
the private character of the great men of the time. * * We never, in the
whole course of our life, read a book of a more engaging description. * * * ,

" Benvenuto Cellini, a man of great genius, and uncommon versatility of tal-
ents ; caressed alike by kings, popes, and dignitaries of the Church of Rome ;
esteemed by men of learning ; lauded by the most eminent artists of his time ;
and beloved by all his acquaintance. Admitted into the privacy of the most
elevated in rank and station, he never forgot what was due to himself as a man :
he was neither servile to kings nor their mistresses; he neither flattered
popes nor their favourites ; he neither worshipped a cardinal's hat nor the tiara ;
he was bold for the right^ and thought not that St. Peter's chair could sanctify
wrong, or hallow injustice he dared to speak the truth ; an audacity fatal to
the hopes of the followers of courts, and the aspirers to place.

" Quick, bold, ardent and enterprising, he was eminently gifted by nature
with those talents which are essential to achieve excellence ; and although con-
fined for a great portion of his life to the humble walk of the goldsmith's busi-
ness, it is evident, from his extraordinary success in bronze-casting and in
sculpture, that he was equally calculated to excel in the higher departments of
art. Of this, his statue of Perseus and the piece of sculpture which he executed,
after his vision, of a Christ upon the cross, described by Vasari as an exquisite
and wonderful performance, afford sufficient proofs. His merits as an artist,
indeed, are allowed by those who were best able to appreciate them by his
friends Michael Angelo and Julio Romano. Uniting the different branches of
the fine arts, at the same time a musician, a poet, and a soldier, he seems to
have been exceeded by few in the capability of his intellect, and in its various
and successful application."



STORIES



FROM THE



ITALIAN POETS:



BEING A SUMMARY IN PROSE



POEMS OF DANTE, PULCI, BOLARDO, ARIOSTO AND TASSO;



WITH COMMENTS THROUGHOUT,



OCCASIONAL PASSAGES VERSIFIED,



CRITICAL NOTICES OF THE LIVES AND GENIUS OF THE AUTHORS.



BY LEIGH HUNT.



IN THREE PARTS.
PART I.



NEW YORK :
WILEY AND PUTNAM, 161 BROADWAY.

1846.



R CRitoHZiD's Power Prest T. B. SMITH, Stereotype

113 Fulton Street 810 William Street.






TQ



v.i-3

COP,^

'TO

SIR PERCY SHELLEY, BART



3 MY DEAR SIR PERCY.

W As I know no man who surpasses yourself in combining a love

of the most romantic fiction with the coolest good sense, and, in passing
from the driest metaphysical questions to the heartiest enjoyment of
JJhumour, I trust that even a modesty so true as yours will not grudge
o me the satisfaction of inscribing these volumes with your name.
i

^ That you should possess such varieties of taste is no wonder, consid-

"* ering what an abundance of intellectual honours you inherit ; nor might

the world have been the better for it, had they been tastes, and nothing

more. But that you should inherit also that zeal for justice to mankind,
^^
which has become so Christian a feature in the character of the age, and

that you should include hi that zeal a special regard for the welfare of
your Father's Friend, is a subject of constant pleasurable reflection to

Your obliged and affectionate

LEIGH HUNT.



298930



PREFACE.



THE purpose of these volumes is, to add to the stock of
tales from the Italian writers ; to retain at the same time
as much of the poetry of the originals as it is in the power
of the writer's prose to compass ; and to furnish careful bi-
ographical notices of the authors. There have been several
collections of stories from the novelists of Italy, but none
from the poets ; and it struck me that prose versions from
these, of the kind here offered to the public, might not be
unwillingly received. The stories are selected from the five
principal narrative poets, Dante, Pulci, Boiardo, Ariosto, and
Tasso ; they comprise the most popular of such as are fit for
translation ; are reduced into one continuous narrative, when
diffused and interrupted, as in the instances of those of An-
gelica, and Armida ; are accompanied with critical and ex-
planatory notes ; and, in the case of Dante, consist of an
abstract of the poet's whole work. The volumes are fur-
thermore interspersed with the most favourite niorceaux of
the originals, followed sometimes with attempts to versify
them ; and in the Appendix, for the better satisfaction of
the student, are given entire stories, also in the original, and
occasionally rendered in like manner. The book is partic-
ularly intended for such students or other lovers of the lan-
guage as are pleased with any fresh endeavours to recom-



viii PREFACE.

mend it ; and, at the same time, for such purely English
readers as wish to know something about Italian poetry,
without having leisure to cultivate its acquaintance.

I did not intend in the first instance to depart from the
plan of selection in the case of Dante \ but when I consid-
ered what an extraordinary person he was, how intense is
every thing which he says, how widely he has re-attracted
of late the attention of the world, how willingly perhaps his
poem might be regarded by the reader as being itself one
continued story (which, in fact, it is), related personally of
the writer, and lastly, what a combination of difficulties
have prevented his best translators in verse from giving the
public a just idea of his almost Scriptural simplicity I be-
gan to think that an abstract of his entire work might pos-
sibly be looked upon as supplying something of a desidera-
tum. I am aware that nothing but verse can do perfect jus-
tice to verse ; but besides the imperfections which are par-
donable, because inevitable, in all such metrical endeavours,
the desire to impress a grand and worshipful idea of Dante
has been too apt to lead his translators into a tone and man-
ner the reverse of his passionate, practical, and creative style
a style which may be said to -write things instead of
words ; and thus to render every word that is put out of its
place, or brought in for help and filling up, a misrepresenta-
tion. I do not mean to say, that he himself never does any
thing of the sort, or does not occasionally assume too much
of the oracle and the schoolmaster, in manner as w r ell as
matter ; but passion, and the absence of the superfluous, are
the chief characteristics of his poetry. Fortunately, this sin-
cerity of purpose and utterance in Dante, render him the
least pervertible of poets in a sincere prose translation ; and,
since I ventured on attempting one, I have had the pleasure



PREFACE.



of meeting with an express recommendation of such a ver-
sion 1 in an early number of the Edinburgh Review.

The abstract of Dante, therefore, in these volumes (with
every deprecation that becomes me of being supposed to pre-
tend to give a thorough idea of any poetry whatsoever, es-
pecially without its metrical form) aspires to be regarded as,
at all events, not exhibiting a false idea of the Dantesque
spirit in point of feeling and expression. It is true, I have
omitted long tedious lectures of scholastic divinity, and other
learned absurdities of the time, which are among the bars to
the poem's being read through, even in Italy (which Foscolo
tells us is never the case) ; and I have compressed the work
in other passages not essentially necessary to the formation
of a just idea of the author. But quite enough remains to
do so in every respect ; and in no part of it have I made ad-
ditions or alterations. There is warrant I hope I may say
letter for every thing put down. Dante is the greatest poet
for intensity that ever lived ; and he excites a correspond-
ing emotion in his reader I wish I could say, always on
the poet's side ; but his ferocious hates and bigotries too often
tempt us to hate the bigot, and always compel us to take
part with the fellow-creatures whom he outrages. At least,
such is their effect on myself. Such a man, however, is the
last whom a reporter is inclined to misrepresent. We re-
spect his sincerity too much, ferocious though it be ; and we
like to give him the full benefit of the recoil of his curses
and maledictions. I hope I have not omitted one. On the
other hand, as little have I closed my feelings against the
lovely and enchanting sweetness which this great semi-bar-
barian sometimes so aflfectingly utters. On those occasions

1 " It is probable that a prose translation would give a better idea of the ge-
nius and manner of this poet than any metrical one." Vol. i. p. 310.

2



i PREFACE.

he is like an angel enclosed for penance in some furious gi-
ant, and permitted to weep through the creature's eyes.

The stories from goodnatured Pulci I have been obliged
to compress for other reasons chiefly their excessive diffuse-
ness. A paragraph of the version will sometimes comprise
many pages. Those of Boiardo and Ariosto are more exact ;
and the reader will be good enough to bear in mind, that no-
thing is added to any of the poets, different as the case might
seem here and there, on comparison with the originals. An
equivalent for whatever is said is to be found in some part of
the context generally in letter, always in spirit. The least
characteristically exact passages are, some in the love-scenes
of Tasso ; for I have omitted the plays upon words and oth-
er corruptions in style, in which that poet permitted himself
to indulge. But I have noticed the circumstance in the com-
ment. In other respects, I have endeavoured to make my
version convey some idea of the different styles and genius
of the writers, of the severe passion of Dante, the overflow-
ing gaiety and affecting sympathies of Pulci, several of whose
passages in the Battle of Roncesvalles are masterpieces of
pathos ; the romantic and inventive elegance of Boiardo ; the
great cheerful universality of Ariosto, like a healthy anima
mundi ; and the ambitious irritability, the fairy imagination,
and tender but somewhat effeminate voluptuousness of the
poet of Armida and Rinaldo. I do not pretend that prose
versions of passages from these writers can supersede the ne-
cessity of metrical ones, supposing proper metrical ones at-
tainable. They demand them more than Dante, the tone
and manner in their case being of more importance to the
effect. But with all due respect to such translators as Har-
rington, Rose, and Wiffen, their books are not Ariosto and
Tasso, even in manner. Harrington, the gay "godson" of



PREFACE.



Queen Elizabeth, is not always unlike Ariosto ; but when
not in good spirits he becomes as dull as if her majesty had
frowned on him. Rose was a man of wit, and a scholar ;
yet he has undoubtedly turned the ease and animation of
his original into inversion and insipidity. And Wiffen,
though elegant and even poetical, did an unfortunate thing
for Tasso, when he gave an additional line and a number
of paraphrastic thoughts to a stanza already tending to the
superfluous. Fairfax himself, who upon the whole, and with
regard to a work of any length, is the best metrical translator
our language has seen, and, like Chapman, a genuine poet,
strangely aggravated the sins of prettiness and conceit in
his original, and added to them a love of tautology amount-
ing to that of a lawyer. As to Hoole, he is below criticism ;
and other versions I have not happened to see. Now if I
had no acquaintance with the Italian language, I confess I
would rather get any friend who had to read to me a passage
out of Dante, Tasso, or Ariosto, into the first simple prose
that offered itself, than go to any of the above translators for
a taste of it, Fairfax excepted ; and we have seen with how
much allowance his sample would have to be taken. I have
therefore, with some restrictions, only ventured to do for the
public what I would have had a friend do for myself.

The Critical and Biographical Notices I did not intend
to make so long at first ; but the interest grew upon me ;
and I hope the reader will regard some of them Dante's
and Tasso's in particular as being "stories" themselves,
after their kind, " stories, alas, too true ;" " romances of
real life." The extraordinary character of Dante, which is
personally mixed up with his writings beyond that of any
other poet, has led me into references to his church and creed,
unavoidable at any time in the endeavour to give a thorough



xii PREFACE.

estimate of his genius, and singularly demanded by certain
phenomena of the present day. I hold those phenomena to
be alike absurd and fugitive ; but only so by reason of their
being openly so proclaimed ; for mankind have a tendency
to the absurd, if their imaginations are not properly directed ;
and one of the uses of poetry is, to keep the faculty in a
healthy state, and cause it to know its boundaries. Dante,
in the fierce egotism of his passions, and the strange identi-
fication of his knowledge with all that was knowable, would
fain have made his poetry both a sword against individuals,
and a prop for the support of the superstition that corrupted
them. This was reversing the duty of a Christian and a
great man ; and there happen to be existing reasons why it
is salutary to shew that he had no right to do so, and must
not have his barbarism confounded with his strength. Mach-
iavelli was of opinion, that if Christianity had not reverted
to its first principles, by means of the poverty and pious lives
of St. Francis and St. Dominic,* the faith would have been
lost. It may have been ; but such .are not the secrets of its
preservation in times of science and progression, when the
spirit of inquiry has established itself among all classes, and
nothing is taken for granted, as it used to be. A few per-
sons here and there, who confound a religious reaction in a
corner with the reverse of the fact all over the rest of Eu-
rope, may persuade themselves, if they please, that the world

* Discern sopra la Prima Deca di Tito Livio, lib. iii. cap. i. At p. 136 of
the present volume I have too hastily called St. Dominic " the founder of the
Inquisition." It is generally conceded, I believe, by candid Protestant in-
quirers, that he was not, whatever zeal in the foundation and support of the
tribunal may have been manifested by his order. But this does not acquit him
of the cruelty for which he has been praised by Dante : he joined in the san-
guinary persecution of the Albigenses.



PREFACE. xiii



has not advanced in knowledge for the last three centuries,
and so get up and cry aloud to us out of obsolete horn-books ;
but the community laugh at them. Every body else is in-
quiring into first principles, while they are dogmatising on
a forty-ninth proposition. The Irish themselves, as they
ought to do, care more for their pastors than for the pope ;
and if any body wishes to know what is thought of his holi-
ness at head-quarters, let him consult the remarkable and
admirable pamphlet which has lately issued from the pen
of Mr. Mazzini.* I have the pleasure of knowing excellent
Roman Catholics ; I have suffered in behalf of their eman-
cipation, and would do so again to-morrow ; but I believe
that if even their external form of Christianity has any
chance of survival three hundred years hence, it will have
been owing to the appearance meanwhile of some extraordi-
nary man in power, who, in the teeth of worldly interests,
or rather in charitable and sage inclusion of them, shall have
proclaimed that the time had arrived for living in the flower
of Christian charity, instead of the husks and thorns which
may have been necessary to guard it. If it were possible
for some new and wonderful pope to make this change, and
draw a line between these two Christian epochs, like that
between the Old and New Testaments, the world would feel
inclined to prostrate itself again and for ever at the feet of
Rome. In a catholic state of things like that, delighted
should I be, for one, to be among the humblest of its com-
municants. How beautiful would their organs be then !
how ascending to an unperplexing Heaven their incense !

* It is entitled, " Italy, Austria, and the Pope ;" and is full, not only of
the eloquence of zeal, and of evidences of intellectual power, but of the most
curious and instructive information.



xiv PREFACE.

how unselfish their salvation ! how intelligible their talk
about justice and love !

But if charity (and by charity I do not mean mere tolera-
tion, or any other pretended right to permit others to have
eyes like ourselves, but whatever the beautiful Greek word
implies of good and lovely), if this truly and only divine con-
summation of all Christian doctrine be not thought capable
of taking a form of belief " strong" enough, Superstition must
look out for some new mode of dictation altogether ; for the
world is outgrowing the old.



I cannot, in gratitude for the facilities afforded to myself,
as well as for a more obvious and public reason, dismiss this
Preface without congratulating men of letters on the estab-
lishment and increasing prosperity of the London Library,
an institution founded for the purpose of accommodating
subscribers with such books, at their own homes, as could
only be consulted hitherto at the British Museum. The sole
objection to the Museum is thus done away, and the literary
world has a fair prospect of possessing two book-institutions
instead of one, each with its distinct claims to regard, and pre-
senting in combination all that the student can wish ; for
while it is highly desirable that authors should be able to have
standard works at their command, when sickness or other
circumstances render it impossible for them to go to the Mu-
seum, it is undoubtedly requisite that one great collection
should exist in which they are sure to find the same works
unremoved, in case of necessity, not to mention curious vol-
umes of all sorts, manuscripts, and a world of books of reference,



CONTENTS.



DANTE. PAOB

CRITICAL NOTICE OF HIS LIFE AND GENIUS, 1

THE ITALIAN PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, 45

The Journey through Hell, 47

The Journey through Purgatory, ....... 89

The Journey through Heaven, ....... 131

PULCI.

CRITICAL NOTICE OF HIS LIFE AND GENIUS, ; . . . 167

HUMOURS OF GIANTS, ... 189

THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES, . *. 207

BOIARDO.

CRITICAL NOTICE OF HIS LIFE AND GENIUS, 233

THE ADVENTURES OF ANGELICA, 249

THE DEATH OF AGRICAN, ........ 267

THE SARACEN FRIENDS, 275

SEEING AND BELIEVING, 291

ARIOSTO.

CRITICAL NOTICE OF HIS LIFE AND GENIUS, 299

THE ADVENTURES OF ANGELICA, (CONTINUED,) . . 339

Part I. Angelica and her Suitors, ...... 339

II. Angelica and Medoroi . . . 350

III. The Jealousy of Orlando 360

ASTOLFO'S JOURNEY TO THE MOON, 369

ARIODANTE AND GINEVRA, 381

SUSPICION, 393

ISABELLA, 401



CONTENTS.



TASSO. **<

CRITICAL NOTICE OF HIS LIFE AND GENIUS, ..... 409

OLINDO AND SOPHRONIA, 461

TANCRED AND CLORINDA, 471

RlNALDO AND ARM1DA, ETC., ....... 483

Part I. Armida in the Christian Camp, 483

n. Armida's Wrath and Love with Rinaldo, .... 490

HI. Tancred in the Enchanted Forest, ....'. 494

IV. The Loves of Rinaldo and Armida, 498

V. The Disenchantment of the Forest, and the taking of Jerusalem, 501

APPENDIX.

No. I. STORY OF PAULO AND FRANCESCA, 519

II. ACCOUNTS GIVEN BY DIFFERENT WRITERS OF THE CIRCUMSTAN-
CES RELATING TO PAULO AND FRANCESCA J CONCLUDING

WITH THE ONLY FACTS ASCERTAINED, .... 523

III. STORY OF UGOLINO, .... ... 526

IV. PICTURE OF FLORENCE IN THE TIME OF DANTE'S ANCESTORS, 533

V. THE DEATH OF AGRICAN, 535

VI. ANGELICA AND MEDORO, ....... 543

VII. THE JEALOUSY OF ORLANDO, ... . 552

VIII. THE DEATH OF CLORINDA, ....:. 559

IX. TANCRED IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST, . . . .561



DANTE:

Critical Noti of tjis #i



CRITICAL NOTICE



DANTE'S LIFE AND GENIUS.*



DANTE was a very great poet, a man of the strongest passions,
a claimant of unbounded powers to lead and enlighten the world ;
and he lived in a semi-barbarous age, as favourable to the inten-
sity of his imagination, as it was otherwise to the rest of his pre-
tensions. Party zeal, and the fluctuations of moral and critical
opinion, have at different periods over-rated and depreciated his
memory ; and if, in the following attempt to form its just estimate,
I have found myself compelled, in some important respects, to
differ with preceding writers, and to protest in particular against
his being regarded as a proper teacher on any one point, poetry
excepted, and as far as all such genius and energy cannot in
some degree help being, I have not been the less sensible of the
wonderful nature of that genius, while acting within the circle to
which it belongs. Dante was indeed so great a poet, and at the
same time exhibited in his personal character such a mortifying
exception to what we conceive to be the natural wisdom and tem-
per of great poets ; in other words, he was such a bigoted and
exasperated man, and sullied his imagination with so much that

* As notices of Dante's life have often been little but repetitions of former
ones, I think it due to the painstaking character of this volume to state, that
besides consulting various commentators and critics, from Boccaccio to Frati-
celli and others, I have diligently perused the Vita di Dante, by Cesare Balbo,
with Rocco's annotations ; the Histoire Litteraire <T Italic, by Ginguend ; the
Discorso sul Testo della Commedia, by Foscolo ; the Amori e Rime di Dante
of Arrivabene ; the Veltro Allegorico di Dante, by Troja ; and Ozanam's
Dante et la PhUosophie Catholique an Treizieme Siecle.

2



2 DANTE.

is contradictory to good feeling, in matters divine as well as hu-
man ; that I should not have thought myself justified in assisting,
however humbly, to extend the influence of his writings, had I
not believed a time to have arrived, when the community may
profit both from the marvels of his power and the melancholy ab-
surdity of its contradictions.

Dante Alighieri, who has always been known by his Christian
rather than surname (partly owing to the Italian predilection for
Christian names, and partly to the unsettled state of patronymics
in his time), was the son of a lawyer of good family in Florence,
and was born in that city on the 14th of May 1265 (sixty-three
years before the birth of Chaucer). The stock is said to have
been of Roman origin, of the race of the Frangipani ; but the
only certain trace of it is to Cacciaguida, a Florentine cavalier of
the house of the Elisei, who died in the Crusades. Dante gives
an account of him hi his Paradiso.* Cacciaguida married a
lady of the Alighieri family of the Valdipado ; and, giving the
name to one of his children, they subsequently retained it as a
patronymic in preference to their own. It would appear, from
the same poem, not only that the Alighieri were the more impor-
tant house, but that some blot had darkened the scutcheon of the
Elisei ; perhaps their having been poor, and transplanted (as he
seems to imply) from some disreputable district. Perhaps they
were known to have been of ignoble origin ; for, in the* course
of one of his most philosophical treatises, he bursts into an extra-
ordinary ebullition of ferocity against such as adduce a know-
ledge of that kind as an argument against a family's acquired
nobility ; affirming that such brutal stuff should be answered not
with words, but with the dagger. f The Elisei, however, must
have been of some standing ; for Macchiavelli, in his History of
Florence, mentions them in his list of the early Guelph and Ghi-

* Canto xv. 88.

t For the doubt apparently implied respecting the district, see canto xvi. 43,
or the summary of it in the present volume. The following is the passage al-



Online LibraryUnknownStories from the Italian poets ... with critical notices of the life and genius of the authors → online text (page 1 of 48)