The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 17, No. 481, March 19, 1831 online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 17, No. 481, March 19, 1831 → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

E-text prepared by Jonathan Ingram, David Garcia, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Note: Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of this
file which includes the original illustrations.
See 12598-h.htm or


VOL. 17, NO. 481.] SATURDAY, MARCH 19, 1831. [PRICE 2d.

* * * * *


[Illustration: Inkstand.]

[Illustration: Chair.]

We need not bespeak the reader's interest in these "trivial fond"
relics - these consecrated memorials - of one of the most celebrated poets
of Italy. They are preserved with reverential care at Ferrara, the
poet's favourite residence, though not his birthplace. The Ferrarese,
however, claim him "exclusively as their own" Lord Byron, in the
Notes[1] to _Childe Harold_, canto 4, says, "the author of the
Orlando is jealously claimed as the Homer, not of Italy, but Ferrara.
The mother of Ariosto was of Reggio, and the house in which he was born
is carefully distinguished by a tablet with these words: - '_Qui nacque
Ludovico Ariosto il giorno 8 di Settembre dell' anno_ 1474.' But the
Ferrarese make light of the accident by which their poet was born
abroad, and claim him exclusively for their own. _They possess his
bones, they show his_ ARM-CHAIR, and his INKSTAND, and his autographs.
The house where he lived, the room where he died, are designated by his
own replaced memorial, and by a recent inscription."

Ferrara, we should here mention, is a fortified town, and a day's
journey, _en voiturier_, from Florence to Vienna. The Tomb, as well as
the above relics, a bronze Medallion of the great Poet, and an account
of his last illness and death - the two latter found in his tomb - are in
the public library at Ferrara. This library also contains the original
MSS. of _Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata_, and Guarini's _Pastor Fido_;
and in the Hospital of St. Anne, at Ferrara, travellers are shown the
cell where Tasso was confined.

The INKSTAND is of bronze, and its singular device is said to refer to
the Poet's amorous caution. In his Life,[2] we are told that "The amours
of Ariosto are a difficult theme for both his eulogists and his
biographers. He has alluded in his Poems to several ladies with whose
charms he was captivated, but, with the exception of Alessandra and
Genevra, the names under which they are mentioned are fictitious. His
caution in this respect is thought to have been hinted at in the device
placed on his favourite inkstand, and which consisted of _a little
Cupid having his forefinger on his lip in token of secresy_." The
evidence in proof of Alessandra's being his wife is little short of

Reverting to the early life of the Poet - he studied at Ferrara, but
losing his tutor, who was called from thence, and appointed preceptor
to the son of Isabella of Naples, Ariosto was left without the present
means of gaining instruction in Greek. To this period Mr. Stebbing thus
alludes: -

"To the regret he experienced at losing his master, was added that of
hearing soon after of his decease; but scarcely had he recovered from
the distress he felt at this circumstance, when the death of his father
put an end for some time to all his literary thoughts and pursuits. He
has pathetically described his situation at this period in his sixth
Satire, which contains several allusions both to the present and
previous circumstances of his life.

"'My father dies; thenceforth with care oppressed
New thoughts and feelings fill my harass'd breast;
Homer gives way to lawyers and their deeds,
And all a brother's love within me pleads;
Fit suitors found, two sisters soon are wed,
And to the altar without portions led.
With all the wants and wishes of their age
My little brothers next my thoughts engage,
And in their father's place I strive untired
To do whate'er that father's love inspired.
Thus watching how their several wills incline
In courts, in study, or in arms to shine;
No toil I shun their fair pursuits to aid,
Still of the snares that strew their path afraid.
Nor this alone - though press we quick to land,
The bark's not safe till anchor'd on the strand.'"

Passing over the commencement of the Orlando Furioso, which
soon followed the above melancholy event - "To be the freer from
interruptions, and at the same time render his moderate income equal to
his support, he left Ferrara, and took up his residence on an estate
belonging to his kinsman Malaguzzo, between Reggio and Rubiera. He has
described this retreat, and the pleasant manner in which he spent his
time during his short residence there, in his fifth Satire; but it is
disputed whether the account alludes to this or an earlier period of
his life:

"'Time was when by sweet solitude inclines
The storied page I fill'd with, ready mind;
Those gentle scenes of Reggio's fair domain,
Our own dear nest, where peace and nature reign;
The lovely villa and the neighbouring Rhone,
Whose banks the Naiads haunt serene and lone;
The lucid pool whence small fresh streams distil
That glad the garden round and turn the mill;
Still memory loves upon these scenes to dwell,
Still sees the vines with fruit delicious swell,
Luxurious meadows blooming spread around,
Low winding vales and hills with turrets crown'd.'

"The Duke Alphonso, seeing him left without a patron, and provided with
so small an income, invited him to return to Ferrara, which he did, and
found no reason, it is said, to regret that he had once more put himself
under the protection of the house of Este. Alphonso, knowing his love of
retirement and the peculiarity of his habits, promised to leave him at
perfect liberty to pursue his studies and live in the way that most
suited his wishes. He kept his promise, and there is reason to believe
that the presents he bestowed on the poet enabled him to build the
cottage in which he resided, with few interruptions, till his death.
This favourite house of Ariosto's was situated near the church of S.
Benedetto, and stood in the midst of a spacious garden which formed both
his pride and delight. Here he continued to compose additional cantos to
the 'Orlando Furioso,' and occasionally, to relax his mind with lighter
species of poetry, sometimes writing a satire, and at others reverting
to the comedies composed in his younger years, and which he subsequently
made fit for the stage."

He again quitted Ferrara, on an appointment "by Alphonso, but again soon
returned: -

"On his return he established himself, with his two unmarried sisters,
in the house he had built near the church of Saint Benedict, and resumed
his former occupations. Of his lighter amusements, gardening was that
in which he took most pleasure; and it is curious to know that he was
as fond of altering the plan of both his house and grounds, as he was
of remodelling the stanzas of the Orlando. His son, Virginio proposed
writing an account of his illustrious father's life; but unfortunately,
he never pursued his design beyond the commencement, and a few
memorandums are all that have come down to us. From these, however,
we learn the singular fastidiousness of Ariosto in his horticultural
amusements, and some other traits of his character, which render him not
the less an object of our veneration, by showing us the simplicity as
well as power of his mind. 'In gardening,' says Virginio, 'he pursued
the same plan as with his verses, never leaving any thing he had planted
more than three months in the same place: and, if he set a fruit-tree,
or sowed seed of any kind, he would go so often to examine it, and see
if it were growing, that he generally ended with spoiling or breaking
off the bud.'

"We learn, from the same interesting document, that he had at first no
intention of building a house for constant residence in this garden,
but that, having raised a mere cottage for temporary shelter, he grew
so fond of the spot, that he wished never to leave it. The structure,
after all, was not fully suited to his taste, and he felt as great an
inclination to improve it by continual alterations as his garden. His
constant lamentation was, that he could not change the arrangement of
his house as he could that of his verses: and a person having asked him
one day, how it happened that he who could describe castles and palaces
so magnificently, had built such a cottage, he replied, that he made
his verses without the aid of money.

"In his favourite garden he passed many hours of the day, deriving new
inspiration from its green and refreshing solitudes. The Orlando was
still in progress, and still under correction, his confidence in
himself, it seems, having been little increased either by years or
practice. In speaking, however, on this subject, he was accustomed to
say, that poetry might be compared to a laurel, which sprung up of
itself, and which might be greatly improved by cultivation, but would
lose all its natural beauty if too much meddled with: - this is the case,
he would continue, with stanzas, which come into the mind, we know not
how, and which may be improved by the correction of a little original
roughness, but are deprived of all their grace and freshness by too nice
a handling." - (_Stebbing's Life._)

The life-time of Ariosto was shortened by the intensity with which he
applied himself to the production of his works. One of his last labours
was a corrected and enlarged edition of his splendid Orlando Furioso.
The printing was, however, so badly executed, as to cause him to say
"he had been assassinated by his printer." Mr. Stebbing observes, "it
is probable that this circumstance, combined with the fatigue attending
his close application while preparing the edition for the press, had a
serious effect on his health, which now began to exhibit signs of rapid
decline."[3] In the spring of 1533 he was seriously attacked with
indigestion. The constant application of medicine to remove this
complaint brought on a consumption, and on the night of June 6, in the
same year, he breathed his last, "his death, it is worthy of mention,
having been preceded only a few hours by the total destruction of
Alphonso's splendid theatre by fire;" which theatre, it should be
added, the poet had designed for his noble patron a few years before:
"so superb and convenient was the structure, when finished, that it was
the admiration of all Italy."

"Ferrara, all Italy, and even Europe, lamented Ariosto as the first
poet of the age, and as worthy of being enrolled in the same chart of
fame with the greatest that had ever lived. His funeral was rendered
remarkable by the attendance of a large body of monks, who to honour
his memory, followed him, contrary to the rules of their order, to the
grave. His son, Virginio, shortly after built a small chapel in his
garden, and formed a mausoleum to which he intended to remove his
remains, but the same monks prohibited it, and the body was left in
the humble tomb in which it was originally deposited, till the new
church of S. Benedetto was built, when Agostino Mosti, a gentleman of
Ferrara, raised above it a monument more worthy of the poet. In 1612 his
great grandson, Ludovico, erected a still nobler one, and removed the
ashes of his ancestor from the tomb of Agostino, as the latter had done
from the one in which they were originally deposited. This monument of
Ludovico, which still exists, is built of the most costly marble, and
adorned with two statues representing Glory and Poetry, together with
an effigy of the poet in alabaster."

Lord Byron illustrates a singular circumstance respecting the tomb of
Ariosto. "Before the remains were removed from the Benedictine Church to
the Library of Ferrara, his bust, which surmounted the tomb, was struck
by lightning, and a crown of iron laurels melted away: -

"'The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust
The iron crown of laurels' mimic'd leaves;
Nor was the ominous element unjust,
For the true laurel-wreath which glory weaves
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves,
And the false semblance but disgraced his brow;
Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves,
Know, that the lightning sanctifies below
Whate'er it strikes; - yon head is doubly sacred now.'"[4]

The transfer of these sacred ashes on the 6th of June, 1801, was one of
the most brilliant spectacles of the short-lived Italian republic, and
to consecrate the memory of the ceremony, the once famous fallen
_Intrepidi_ were revived, and re-formed into the Ariostean academy.
The large public place through which the procession paraded, was then
for the first time called Ariosto Square.[5]

We must return to Mr. Stebbing's delightful _Lives of the Italian
Poets_, which work has so frequently aided us in the previous

[1] For these Lord B. acknowledges his obligation to his excellent
friend J.C. Hobbouse, Esq. M.P.

[2] In "Lives of the Italian Poets." By the Rev. Henry Stebbing,
vol. ii.

[3] Few persons will be disposed to question this extreme
sensitiveness, since instances of similar effects on men of
genius are by no means rare. Whoever has read Mr. Moore's _Life
of Byron_ must have remarked the asperity with which he
inveighs against blundering printers in the Letters to Mr.
Murray, his publisher.

[4] "Childe Harold," canto 4, st. xli.

[5] Notes to lines 1 and 2 of the preceding stanza.

* * * * *


(_For the Mirror._)

"I saw thy form in youthful prime,
Nor thought that pale decay
Would steal before the steps of time,
And waste thy bloom away." - MOORE.

Her place of rest is mantled o'er
With dews of early morning;
She heeds not now the winter's roar,
Nor flowery spring's adorning.

Alike to her, when summer's heat
Glows on her verdant bed,
Or when the snows of winter beat,
And a fleecy covering shed.

And rarely do they mention _her_,
Who most her fate should mourn;
And little did they weep for her,
Who never can return.

But back to memory let me bring
Her laughing eyes of blue:
She was, on earth, as fair a thing
As fancy ever drew.

She lov'd and was belovd again!'
And quickly flew the winged hours;
Love seem to wreath his fairy chain
Of blooming amaranthine flow'rs.

She deem'd not time could ever blight
That whisper'd tale she lov'd to hear;
Alas! there came a gloomy night,
That threw its shadows on her bier.

He told her time should never see
The hour he would forget her -
That future years should only be
Fresh links to bind him to her;

That distant lands his steps might trace,
And lovely forms he'd see,
But Fanny's dear, remembered face,
His polar-star should be.

"O! ever shall I be the same,
Whatever may betide me, -
Remembrance whispers Fanny's name,
And brings her form beside me.

"Believe, believe, when far away,
Distance but closer draws the chain;
When twilight veils the 'garish day,'
Remembrance turns to thee again."

He's gone! - but Fancy in her ear
Still murmurs on his last farewell,
While Hope dries in her eye the tear,
And bids her on each promise dwell.

And long she hop'd - from day to day, -
From early morn to dusky eve
Her thoughts were wand'ring far away,
Nor deem'd that he could e'er deceive.

Fond maid' - he thinks no more on thee -
He mocks at thy enduring faith;
While the foul tongue of calumny
Accelerates thy early death.

This world to her a desert grew,
The sunny heavens no more were fair;
Fast gathering tears obscured her view,
And only night's dark clouds were there.

Faded and chang'd the glorious dream,
The vision bright that floated round her;
And death was in the ghastly gleam
That gave her eyes unearthly splendour.

She lingered not, to feel that earth
Is rife with Disappointment's thorn -
That vows of faith are little worth,
And fleeting as the hues of morn.

Farewell! farewell! pale lilies drooping
On her low bed as emblems wave; -
And see! - the angel Pity stooping
To shed her tear on Fanny's grave!

_Kirton Lindsey._


* * * * *


(_To the Editor._)

The Halcyon is now only known by the name of the King Fisher (_ispida_,
the _alcedo ispida_ of Linnaeus), a very beautiful bird, frequenting
waters, and feeding on fish. It builds in deep holes in the banks of
rivers, and lays five, or, according to some, nine eggs. It much
approaches to the Picus, or Woodpecker, in many points; but wants its
great character, which is, the having two toes behind. The legs of this
bird are very short, and are black before and red behind; its colours,
particularly its green and blue, which are its general ones, are
extremely bright and beautiful. It takes its prey after the manner of
the Osprey, balancing itself at a certain distance over the water for
a considerable space, and then darting below the surface, brings up the
prey in its feet. While it remains suspended in the air, on a bright
day, the plumage exhibits a most beautiful variety of very dazzling
and brilliant colours.

This bird was called Halcyon by the ancients. Aristotle has described
the bird and its nest; which, according to him, resembled those
concretions that are formed by the sea water, and fashioned in the shape
of a long necked gourd, hollow within, but so narrow at the entrance,
that if it overset the water could not enter. This nest was called
Halcyoneum, and had medical virtues ascribed to it: it was also a
floating one; and therefore it was necessary for the poets who have
described it to place it on a tranquil sea, and to supply the bird with
charms to allay the fury of a turbulent element during its incubation,
for it had at that season power over the seas and winds. During the days
of this bird's incubation, in the depth of winter, the mariner might
sail in full security; and therefore they were called "Halcyon Days."



* * * * *

(_From another Correspondent._)

In the agreeable communications of your correspondents, they seem in
their quotations to have overlooked the following, from Dryden: -

"Secure as when the halcyon breeds, with these
He that was born to drown might cross the seas."
_Astraea Redux._

And again, in his stanzas on the death of Oliver Cromwell -

"And wars have that respect for his repose
As winds for halcyons when they breed at sea."

Cowley likewise, in his preface to his Miscellanies, says, talking of
his mind, "It must, like the halcyon, have fair weather to breed in."

The story of Ceyx and Alcyone is beautifully told in Ovid, Met. 11.
fab. 10.

* * * * *


(_For the Mirror._)

In the vale of Evesham, was fought the most memorable battle recorded in
the annals of English history, between Simon de Mountfort, the powerful
Earl of Leicester, and Prince Edward, afterwards King Edward the First;
in which the earl was completely defeated, and the refractory barons,
with most of their adherents taken or slain. This important battle
restored Henry the Third to his throne and liberty. When he had ascended
the throne, he determined to still further curtail the enormous power of
the barons; and by his writs summoned together, as his advisers,
representatives from numerous cities and boroughs, as well as counties;
the battle of Evesham therefore may be considered, says a modern writer,
"_as the origin of our present House of Commons_."

The learned John Selden says, "All are involved in a parliament. There
was a time when all men had their voice in choosing knights. About Henry
the Sixth's time they found the inconvenience, so one parliament made
a law, that only he that had forty shillings per annum should give his
voice, they under should be excluded." "In a word (says Chamberlayne)
a parliament's authority is most absolute; a parliament can do all that
_Senatus populusque Romanus_ could do, _centuriatis Comitis seu
Tributis_; it represents the whole kingdom, so that the consent of
the parliament is presumed to be the consent of every man in England."


* * * * *


(_For the Mirror._)

It is thine - it shall win thee a wreath for thy brow
When thy spirit seems more energetic than now; -
It is thine in the war-cloud of gloom and of fire,
The pride of thy kindred - the sword of thy sire!

It is thine - let the bright rose around it entwine, -
Let it glance in the sunbeam which smiles on the shrine,
And sheathe it triumphant when cravens retire,
The pride of thy household - the sword of thy sire!

It is thine - but the warrior who bore it is laid
Where the rose throws its balm, and the cypress its shade,
And churls and marauders have ceased to retire
From the star of the battle - the sword of thy sire!

It is thine - thou shall wave it with banner and plume
When the trumpet is heard in the war-cloud of gloom:
It is thine to defend thee when rebels conspire,
The choice of thy childhood - the sword of thy sire!



* * * * *


* * * * *


"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

It seems that Valodimir Mavrovitch, the fratricide, was the second son
of Count Baileskow, the representative of one of the oldest and most
renowned families in Poland. In his youth, Valodimir was the most
elegant boy almost ever seen, and scarcely less remarkable for talent
than beauty; but he had a peculiar enthusiasm about him, in which, as
his tutor, Father Theophilus, often said, lay his destiny. "In all other
respects, he is only," said the father, "a nobler youth than common;
but in this singular endowment he has something supernatural to man.
He is without fear - he knows not what it is; and, with a dexterity
inconceivable, accomplishes the most abstruse and difficult purposes.
In his lessons, such is his aptitude, that he learns as if he had
brought knowledge with him into the world; and in field-sports, the
chase, and all exercises, he possesses an ardour and courage by which
he outstrips every competitor. His generosity is equally unbounded; and
whatever he undertakes is pursued with an indefatigable eagerness that
knows not impediment; but amidst this unexampled energy in purpose there
is cause for fear. It matters not to him, when once interested, whether
his object be good or bad; and in this fatal inability to discriminate
the value of his aims lies his danger."

(We are compelled considerably to abridge this story to suit our
limits. - The mystical portion of it, or "the story of the Demon," as the
narrator, a Pole, calls it, is thus told to an English tourist:) -

"When I was on the eve of my departure from the castle of Baileskow,
my paternal inheritance, and the residence of my mother, to make a
tour through Germany and Italy, the carriage being at the gate, and the
servants with torches around - for it was then before the dawn of day - as
I crossed the court from the hall-door to embark, an old man met me.
He had the air of a priest, but not exactly the garb, and his eyes,
I thought - or it might be an after fancy - were luminous.

"'Valodimir Mavrovitch,' said the stranger, 'THINK!' - I would have
answered, but the torch-light which shone through the gateway upon him
shifted, and I was surprised that he too had disappeared, like one of
the shadows of the servants on the castle wall.

"I was surprised at the brief and emphatic admonition of the Demon, for
it was no less; but instead of obeying his injunction, after embarking
in the carriage, I fell asleep.

"In the course of the journey, I met with neither accident nor
adventure; but in the evening of the afternoon that I reached Munich, I
strolled out from, the hotel at which I had put up, and entered, after a
short walk, a coffee-house, in which several persons were smoking, with
ices and liquors before them. One table only was vacant - it was near the

1 3 4

Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 17, No. 481, March 19, 1831 → online text (page 1 of 4)