Poems and plays: by William Hayley, Esq. In six volumes. ... [pt.4]












[Page] NOTE I. VERSE 36.
AND ſmiles of triumph hid his mortal pang.]

An alluſion to ridens moriar, the cloſe of the celebrated Northern Ode, by the Daniſh king Regner Lodbrog; a tranſlation of which is inſerted in the curious little volume of Runic poetry, printed for Dodſley, 1763.

Bartholin, in his admirable Eſſay on the Cauſes which inſpired the Danes with a Contempt of Death, affirms, that it was cuſtomary with the [Page 4] Northern warriors to ſing their own exploits in the cloſe of life. He mentions the example of a hero, named Hallmundus, who being mortally wounded, commanded his daughter to attend while he compoſed a poem, and to inſcribe it on a tablet of wood. BARTHOLIN. Lib. i. cap. 10. NOTE II. VERSE 60.
And galls the ghoſtly tyrant with her laſh.]

The poetry of Provence contains many ſpirited ſatires againſt the enormities of the Clergy. The moſt remarkable, is the bold invective of the Troubadour Guillaume Figueira, in which he execrates the avarice and the cruelty of Rome. The Papal cauſe found a female Poet to defend it: Germonda of Montpellier compoſed a poetical reply to the ſatire of Figueira. See MILLOT's Hiſt. des Troubadours, vol. ii. p. 455. NOTE III. VERSE 76.
Struck with ill-fated zeal the Latian lyre.]

There never was a century utterly deſtitute of ingenious and elegant Poets, ſays the learned Polycarp Leiſer, after having patiently traced the obſcure progreſs of Latin poetry through all the [Page 5] dark ages. Indeed the merit of ſome Latin Poets, in a period that we commonly ſuppoſe involved in the groſſeſt barbariſm, is ſingularly ſtriking; many of theſe are of the Epic kind, and, as they deſcribe the manners and cuſtoms of their reſpective times, a complete review of them might form a curious and entertaining work. I ſhall briefly mention ſuch as appear moſt worthy of notice.

Abbo, a Pariſian monk, of the Benedictine order, wrote a poem on the ſiege of Paris by the Normans and the Danes, at which he was preſent, in the year 886: it is printed in the ſecond volume of Ducheſne's Script. Francorum; and, though it has little or no poetical merit, may be regarded as an hiſtorical curioſity. The following lines, addreſſed to the city of Paris, in the beginning of the work, may ſerve as a ſpecimen of its language:

Dic igitur, praepulchra polis, quod Danea munus
Libavit tibimet, ſoboles Plutonis amica,
Tempore quo praeſul domini et dulciſſimus heros
Gozlinus temet paſtorque benignus alebat!
Haec, inquit, miror, narrare poteſt aliquiſne?
Nonne tuis idem vidiſti oculis? refer ergo:
Vidi equidem, juſſiſque tuis parebo libenter.

Leiſer has confounded this Poet with another of this name; but Fabricius has corrected the [Page 6] miſtake, in his Bibliotheca Latina mediae et infimae Aetatis.

Guido, Biſhop of Amiens from the year 1058 to 1076, wrote an Heroic poem on the exploits of William the Conqueror, in which, according to Ordericus Vitalis, he imitated both Virgil and Statius. William of Apulia compoſed, at the requeſt of Pope Urban the IId, a poem, in five books, on the actions of the Normans in Sicily, Apulia, and Calabria, to the death of Robert Guiſcard their prince; addreſſing his work to the ſon of that hero. It was written between the years 1080 and 1099; firſt printed in 1582, 4 to; and again in Muratori's Script. Ital.—Du Cange, in his Notes to the Alexiad of the Princeſs Anna Comnena, has illuſtrated that hiſtory by frequent and long quotations from William of Apulia; but though the learned Critic gives him the title of Scriptor Egregius, his poetry appears to me but a few degrees ſuperior to that of the Monk Abbo, whom I have juſt mentioned. The Reader may judge from the following paſſage, which I ſelect not only as a ſpecimen of the Author's ſtyle, but as it ſhews that the wives of theſe martial Princes ſhared with them in all the perils of war:

[Page 7]
Uxor in hoc bello Roberti fortè ſagittâ
Quâdam laeſa fuit, quae vulnere territa, nullam
Dum ſperabat opem, ſe penè ſubegerat hoſti,
Navigio cujus ſe commendare volebat,
Inſtantis metuens vicina pericula lethi:
Hanc deus eripuit, fieri ludibria nolens
Matronae tantae tam nobilis et venerandae.

The Princeſs Comnena has alſo celebrated the fortitude which this Heroine, whoſe name was Gaita, diſplayed in the battle; and it is remarkable, that the royal female Hiſtorian deſcribes the noble Amazon more poetically than the Latin Poet.

Gualfredo, an Italian, who ſucceeded to the biſhoprick of Siena in the year 1080, and died in 1127, wrote an Heroic poem on the expedition of Godfrey of Boulogne, which is ſaid to be ſtill preſerved in MS. at Siena. I believe Gualfredo is the firſt Poet, in point of time, who treated of the happy ſubject of the Cruſades; which was afterwards embelliſhed by two very elegant writers of Latin verſe, Iſcanus and Gunther, of whom I ſhall preſently ſpeak, and at length received its higheſt honour from the genius of Taſſo. There is alſo an early Latin poem on this ſubject, the joint production of two writers, named Fulco and Aegidius, whom the accurate Fabricius places in the [Page 8] beginning of the 13th century: the title of the work is Hiſtoria Geſtorum Viae noſtri Temporis Hieroſolymitanae. It is printed in the fourth volume of Ducheſne's Script. Franc. and with conſiderable additions in the third volume of Anecdota Edmundi Martene. I tranſcribe part of the opening of this poem, as the curious reader may have a pleaſure in comparing it with that of Taſſo:

Ardor ineſt, inquam, ſententia fixaque menti
Verſibus et numeris tranſmittere poſteritati
Qualiter inſtinctu deitatis, et auſpice cultu
Eſt aggreſſa via memorando nobilis actu,
Qua ſacroſancti violantes jura ſepulchri
Digna receperunt meriti commercia pravi.
Inque ſuis Francis antiqua reſurgere Troja
Coepit, et edomuit Chriſto contraria regna.
I will only add the portrait of Godfrey:
Inclytus ille ducum Godefridus culmen honoſque,
Omnibus exemplum bonitatis militiaeque,
Sive haſta jaculans aequaret Parthica tela,
Cominus aut feriens terebraret ferrea ſcuta,
Seu gladio pugnans carnes reſecaret et oſſa,
Sive eques atque pedes propelleret agmina denſa,
[Page 9] Hic inimicitiis cunctis ſibi conciliatis
Cunctis poſſeſſis pro Chriſti pace relictis
Arripuit callem Chriſtum ſectando vocantem.
The poem cloſes with the capture of Jeruſalem.

Laurentius of Verona, who flouriſhed about the year 1120, wrote an Heroic poem, in ſeven books, intitled, Rerum in Majorica Piſanorum. Edidit Ughellus, tom. 3. Italiae ſacrae.

But, in merit and reputation, theſe early Latin Poets of modern time are very far inferior to Philip Gualtier de Chatillon, who ſeems to have been the firſt that caught any portion of true poetic ſpirit in Latin verſe. He was Provoſt of the Canons of Tournay* about the year 1200, according to Mr. Warton, who has given ſome ſpecimens of his ſtyle in the ſecond Diſſertation prefixed to his admirable Hiſtory of Engliſh Poetry. I ſhall therefore only add, that the beſt edition of his Alexandreid, an Heroic poem in ten books on Alexander the Great, was printed at Leyden, 4to, 1558.

The ſuperior merit of Joſephus Iſcanus, or [Page 10] Joſeph of Exeter, has been alſo diſplayed by the ſame judicious Encomiaſt, in the Diſſertation I have mentioned; nor has he failed to commemorate two Latin Epic Poets of the ſame period, and of conſiderable merit for the time in which they lived—Gunther, and William of Bretagny; the firſt was a German monk, who wrote after the year 1108, and has left various hiſtorical and poetical works; particularly two of the Epic kind—Solymarium, a poem on the taking of Jeruſalem by Godfrey of Bulloign; and another, intitled Ligurinus, on the exploits of the Emperor Frederick Barbaroſſa, which he completed during the life of that Prince. The firſt was never printed; of the latter there have been ſeveral editions, and one by the celebrated Melancthon, in 1569. That his poetical merit was conſiderable in many reſpects, will appear from the following verſes, in which he ſpeaks of himſelf:

Hoc quoque me famae, ſi deſint caetera, ſolum
Conciliare poteſt, quod jam per multa latentes
Saecula, nec clauſis prodire penatibus auſas
Pierides vulgare paro, priſcumque nitorem
Reddere carminibus, tardoſque citare poetas.

[Page 11] William of Bretagny was preceptor to Pierre Charlot, natural ſon of Philip Auguſtus, King of France, and addreſſed a poem to his pupil, intitled Karlotis, which is yet unpubliſhed; but his greater work, called Philippis, an Heroic poem in twelve books, is printed in the collections of Ducheſne and Pithaeus; and in a ſeparate 4to volume, with a copious commentary by Barthius. Notwithſtanding the praiſes beſtowed on this Author by his learned Commentator, who prefers him to all his contemporaries, he appears to me inferior in poetic ſpirit to his three rivals, Gualtier de Chatillon, Iſcanus, and Gunther. Yet his work is by no means deſpicable in its ſtyle, and may be conſidered as a valuable picture of the times in which he lived; for he was himſelf engaged in many of the ſcenes which he deſcribes. His profeſt deſign is to celebrate the exploits of Philip Auguſtus; and he cloſes his poem with the death of that Monarch, which happened in 1223. He addreſſes his work, in two ſeparate poetical dedications, to Lewis, the ſucceſſor of Philip, and to Pierre Charlot his natural ſon, who was Biſhop of Noyon in 1240, and died 1249. He ſeems to have been excited to this compoſition by the reputation of Gualtier's Alexandreid; to which he thus alludes, in the verſes addreſſed to Lewis:

[Page 12]
Geſta ducis Macedum celebri deſcribere verſu
Si licuit, Gualtere, tibi, quae ſola relatu
Multivago docuit te vociferatio famae—
— — — — —
Cur ego quae novi, proprio quae lumine vidi,
Non auſim magni magnalia ſcribere regis,
Qui nec Alexandro minor eſt virtute, nec illo
Urbi Romuleae totum qui ſubdidit orbem?

He takes occaſion alſo, in two other parts of his poem, to pay a liberal compliment to Gualtier, to whom, in poetical ability, he confeſſes himſelf inferior; but this inferiority his admirer Barthius will not allow. Of their reſpective talents the reader may judge, who will compare the paſſage which Mr. Warton has cited from the Alexandreid, with the following lines, in which William of Bretagny uſes the very ſimile of his predeceſſor, comparing his hero Philip to a young lion:

Rex dolet ereptum comitem ſibi, frendit, et irae
Occultare nequit tectos ſub pectore motus,
Nam rubor in vultu duplicatus prodit aperte
Quam gravis illuſtrem trahit indignatio mentem.
Qualiter in Lybicis ſpumante leunculo rictu
Saltibus ungue ferox, et dentibus aſper aduncis,
[Page 13] Fortis et horriſonis anno jam penè ſecundo,
Cui venatoris venabula forte per armos
Deſcendere levi ſtringentia vulnere corpus,
Colla rigens hirſuta jubis deſaevit in hoſtem
Jam retrocedentem, nec eum tetigiſſe volentem,
Cum nihil ex facto referat niſi dedecus illo.
Nec mora nec requies, quin jam deglutiat ipſum,
Ni prudens hoſtis praetenta cuſpide ſcuto
Unguibus objecto, dum dat veſtigia retrò,
In loca ſe retrahat non irrumpenda leoni.
Sic puer in comitem rex debacchatur, et ipſum
Subſequitur preſſo relegens veſtigia greſſu.

I will add the following paſſage from the eleventh Book, as it contains an animated portrait, and a ſimile more original than the preceding.

At laevo in cornu, qui nulli marte ſecundus,
Bolonides pugnae inſiſtit, cui fraxinus ingens
Nunc implet dextram, vix ulli bajula, qualem
In Bacchi legimus portaſſe Capanea cunas,
Quam vix fulmineo dejecit Jupiter ictu:
Nunc culter vitae impatiens, nunc ſanguine pugni
Mucro rubens; gemina e ſublimi vertice fulgens
Cornua conus agit, ſuperaſque eduxit in auras
E coſtis aſſumpta nigris, quas faucis in antro
Branchia balenae Britici colit incola ponti;
[Page 14] Ut qui magnus erat magnae ſuperaddita moli
Majorem faceret phantaſtica pompa videri.
Ac velut in ſaltus ſcopuloſa Bieria ſaltu
Praecipiti mittit ingenti corpore cervum,
Cujus multifidos numerant a cornibus annos,
Menſe ſub Octobri nondum Septembre peracto,
Annua quandò novis Venus incitat ignibus illum,
Curſitat in cervos ramoſa fronte minores,
Omnibus ut pulſis victor ſub tegmine fagi
Connubio cervam ſolus ſibi ſubdat amatam.
Haud ſecus e peditum medio, quibus ipſe rotundo
Ut caſtro cauta ſe circumſepſerat arte,
Proſiliens volat in Thomam, Robertigenaſque
Drocarum Comitem, Belvacenumque Philippum

William of Bretagny had an immediate ſucceſſor in Latin poetry, who appears to have at leaſt an equal portion of poetical ſpirit; the name of this Author is Nicholas de Brai, who wrote an Heroic poem on the actions of Louis the VIIIth, after the death of that Monarch, and addreſſed it to William of Auvergne, who was Biſhop of Paris from the year 1228 to 1248. As a ſpecimen of his deſcriptive power, I ſelect the following lines, which form part of a long deſcription of a Goblet preſented to the King on his acceſſion:

[Page 15]
—Parant intrare palatia regis
Magnifici cives, gratiſſima dona ferentes,
Tegmina quos ornant variis inſculpta figuris;
Et patrem patriae jucunda voce ſalutant,
Et genibus flexis praeſentant ditia dona.
— — — — —
Offertur crater, quem ſi ſit credere dignum
Perditus ingenio fabricavit Mulciber auro;
Margine crateris totus depingitur orbis,
Et ſeries rerum brevibus diſtincta figuris:
Illic pontus erat, tellus, et pendulus aer,
Ignis ad alta volans coeli ſupereminet illis:
Quatuor in partes orbis diſtinguitur, ingens
Circuit oceanus immenſis fluctibus orbem.
Ingenio natura ſuo duo lumina fecit
Fixa tenore poli, mundi famulantia rebus.

The Author proceeds to deſcribe Thebes and Troy, as they are figured on this ſuperb Goblet; and concludes his account of the workmanſhip with the four following lines, of peculiar beauty for the age in which they appeared:

Martis adulterium reſupino margine pinxit
Mulciber, et Venerem laqueis cum Marteligavit;
Pluraque caelaſſet ſub margine, ſed pudor illi
Obſtat, et ingentis renovatur cauſa doloris.

[Page 16] This Poem, which the author ſeems to have left imperfect, is printed in the fifth volume of Ducheſne's Script. Francorum.—England is ſaid to have produced another Heroic Poet of confiderable merit, who celebrated in Latin verſe the exploits of Richard the Firſt, and who was called Gulielmus Peregrinus, from his having attended that Prince to the Holy Land. Leland mentions him by the name of Gulielmus de Canno, and Pits calls him Poetarum ſui temporis apud noſtrates facile Princeps; but I do not find that his Work was ever printed; nor do the ſeveral biographical writers who ſpeak of him, inform us where it exiſts in MS.

In Italy the Latin language is ſuppoſed to have been cultivated with ſtill greater ſucceſs, and the reſtoration of its purity is in great meaſure aſcribed to Albertino Muſſato, whoſe merits were firſt diſplayed to our country by the learned author of the Eſſay on Pope.—Muſſato was a Paduan, of high rank and great talents, but unfortunate. He died in exile, 1329, and left, beſides many ſmaller Latin pieces, an Heroic Poem, De Geſtis Italorum poſt Henricum VII. Caeſarem, ſeu de Obſidione Domini Canis Grandis de Verona circa Moenia Paduanae Civitatis et Conflictu ejus.—Quadrio, from whom I tranſcribe this title, ſays it is printed [Page 17] in the tenth volume of Muratori. Voſſius, who ſpeaks of him as an Hiſtorian, aſſerts that he commanded in the war which is the ſubject of his Poem.

In a few years after the death of Muſſato, Petrarch received the laurel at Rome, for his Latin Epic poem, intitled Africa; a performance which has ſunk ſo remarkably from the high reputation it once obtained, that the great admirer and encomiaſt of Petrarch, who has publiſhed three entertaining quarto volumes on his life, calls it ‘"Un ouvrage ſans chaleur, ſans invention, ſans interet, qui n'a pas meme le merite de la verſification & du ſtyle, & dont il eſt impoſſible de ſoutenir la lecture.’—I muſt obſerve, however, that Taſſo, in his Eſſay on Epic Poetry, beſtows a very high encomium on that part of Petrarch's Latin poem, in which he celebrates the loves of Sophoniſba and Maſiniſſa; and indeed the cenſure of this amiable French writer, who in other points has done ample juſtice to the merits of Petrarch, appears to me infinitely too ſevere. There are many paſſages in this neglected Poem conceived with great force and imagination, and expreſſed with equal elegance of language. I ſhall ſelect ſome verſes from that part of it which has been honoured by the applauſe of Taſſo. The [Page 18] following lines deſcribe the anguiſh of the young Numidian Prince, when he is conſtrained to abandon his lovely bride:

Volvitur inde thoro (quoniam ſub pectore pernox
Saevit amor, lacerantque truces praecordia curae),
Uritur, invigilant moeror, metus, ira, furorque;
Saepè & abſentem lacrymans dum ſtringit amicam,
Saepè thoro dedit amplexus et dulcia verba.
Poſtquam nulla valent violento fraena dolori,
Incipit, et longis ſolatur damna querelis:
Cura mihi nimium, vita mihi dulcior omni,
Sophoniſba, vale! non te, mea cura, videbo
Leniter aethereos poſthac componere vultus,
Effuſoſque auro religantem ex more capillos;
Dulcia non coelum mulcentia verba Deoſque
Oris odorati, ſecretaque murmura, carpam.
Solus ero, gelidoque inſternam membra cubili;
Atque utinam ſocio componat amica ſepulchro,
Et ſimul hic vetitos, illic concorditer annos,
Contingat duxiſſe mihi ſors optima buſti.
Si cinis amborum commixtis morte medullis
Unus erit, Scipio noſtros non ſcindet amores.
O utinam infernis etiam nunc una latebris
Umbra ſimus, liceat pariter per clauſtra vagari
Myrtea, nec noſtros Scipio disjungat amores.
Ibimus una ambo flentes, et paſſibus iiſdem
[Page 19] Ibimus, aeterno connexi foedere; nec nos
Ferreus aut aequos Scipio interrumpet amores.

The well-known cataſtrophe of the unfortunate Sophoniſba is related with much poetical ſpirit. The cloſe of her life, and her firſt appearance in the regions of the dead, are peculiarly ſtriking:

Illa manu pateramque tenens, & lumina coelo
Attollens, Sol alme, inquit, Superique valete!
Maſiniſſa, vale! noſtri memor; inde malignum
Ceu ſitiens haurit non mota fronte venenum,
Tartareaſque petit violentus ſpiritus umbras.
Nulla magis Stygios mirantum obſeſſa corona
Umbra lacus ſubiit, poſtquam diviſa triformis
Partibus hand aequis ſtetit ingens machina mundi.
Obtutu attonito ſtabant horrentia circum
Agmina Poenarum, ſparſoque rigentia villo
Eumenidum tacitis inhiabant rictibus ora.
Regia vis oculis inerat, pallorque verendus,
Et vetus egregia majeſtas fronte manebat.
Indignata tamen ſuperis, irataque morti,
Ibat et exiguo defigens lumina flexu.

With Petrarch I may cloſe this curſory review of the neglected authors who wrote Heroic poems [Page 20] in Latin, during the courſe of the dark ages.—A peculiar circumſtance induces me to add another name to the preceding liſt. John, Abbot of Peterborough, in the reign of Edward the Third, wrote an Heroic poem, intitled Bellum Navarrenſe, 1366, de Petro rege Aragoniae & Edwardo Principe. This performance, containing five hundred and ſixty verſes, is ſaid to be preſerved in MS. in the Bodleian Library; and I have thought it worthy of notice, becauſe it treats of the very ſubject on which Dryden informs us he had once projected an Epic poem.

Of the many Latin compoſitions of the Epic kind, which later times have produced, the Chriſtiad of Vida, the Sarcotis of Maſſenius, and the Conſtantine of Mambrun, appear to me the moſt worthy of regard; but even theſe are ſeldom peruſed: and indeed the Poet, who in a poliſhed age prefers the uſe of a dead language to that of a living one, can only expect, and perhaps only deſerves, the attention of a few curious ſequeſtered ſtudents. NOTE IV. VERSE 81.
Thy daring Dante his wild Viſion ſung.]

Dante Allighieri was born at Florence, in May 1265, of [Page 21] an ancient and honourable family. Boccacio, who lived in the ſame period, has left a very curious and entertaining Treatiſe, on the Life, the Studies, and Manners of this extraordinary Poet; whom he regarded as his maſter, and for whoſe memory he profeſſed the higheſt veneration. This intereſting biographer relates, that Dante, before he was nine years old, conceived a paſſion for the lady whom he has immortalized in his ſingular Poem. Her age was near his own; and her name was Beatrice, the daughter of Folco Portinari, a noble citizen of Florence. Of this fair one the beſt accounts are obſcure. Some refining commentators have even denied her corporeal exiſtence; affirming her to be nothing more or leſs than Theology: but we may queſtion if Theology was ever the miſtreſs of ſo young a lover. The paſſion of Dante, however, like that of his ſucceſſor Petrach, ſeems to have been of the chaſte and Platonic kind, according to the account he has himſelf given of it, in one of his early productions, intitled Vita Nuova; a mixture of myſterious poetry and proſe, in which he mentions both the origin of his affection, and the death of his miſtreſs; who, according to Boccacio, died at the age of twenty-four. The ſame author aſſerts, that Dante fell into a deep melancholy in conſequence of this [Page 22] event, from which his friends endeavoured to raiſe him, by perſuading him to marriage. After ſome time he followed their advice, and repented it; for he unfortunately made choice of a lady who bore ſome reſemblance to the celebrated Xantippe. The Poet, not poſſeſſing the patience of Socrates, ſeparated himſelf from her with ſuch vehement expreſſions of diſlike, that he never afterwards admitted her to his preſence, though ſhe had borne him ſeveral children.—In the early part of his life he gained ſome credit in a military character; diſtinguiſhing himſelf by his bravery in an action where the Florentines obtained a ſignal victory over the citizens of Arezzo. He became ſtill more eminent by the acquiſition of civil honours; and at the age of thirty-five he roſe to be one of the chief magiſtrates of Florence, when that dignity was conferred by the ſuffrages of the people. From this exaltation the Poet himſelf dated his principal misfortunes, as appears from the fragment of a letter quoted by Lionardo Bruni, one of his early biographers, where Dante ſpeaks of his political failure with that liberal frankneſs which integrity inſpires.—Italy was at that time diſtracted by the contending factions of the Ghibellins and the Guelphs: the latter, among whom Dante took an active part, were again divided into the Blacks [Page 23] and the Whites. Dante, ſays Gravina, exerted all his influence to unite theſe inferior parties; but his efforts were ineffectual, and he had the misfortune to be unjuſtly perſecuted by thoſe of his own faction. A powerful citizen of Florence, named Corſo Donati, had taken meaſures to terminate theſe inteſtine broils, by introducing Charles of Valois, brother to Philip the Fair, King of France. Dante, with great vehemence, oppoſed this diſgraceful project, and obtained the baniſhment of Donati and his partizans. The exiles applied to the Pope (Boniface the VIIIth), and by his aſſiſtance ſucceeded in their deſign. Charles of Valois entered Florence in triumph, and thoſe who had oppoſed his admiſſion were baniſhed in their turn. Dante had been diſpatched to Rome as the ambaſſador of his party, and was returning, when he received intelligence of the revolution in his native city. His enemies, availing themſelves of his abſence, had procured an iniquitous ſentence againſt him, by which he was condemned to baniſhment, and his poſſeſſions were confiſcated. His two enthuſiaſtic biographers, Boccacio and Manetti, expreſs the warmeſt indignation againſt this injuſtice of his country.—Dante, on receiving the intelligence, took refuge in Siena, and afterwards in Arezzo, where many of his party were aſſembled. [Page 24] An attempt was made to ſurpriſe the city of Florence, by a ſmall army which Dante is ſuppoſed to have attended: the deſign miſcarried, and our Poet is conjectured to have wandered to various parts of Italy, till he found a patron in the great Can della Scala, Prince of Verona, whom he has celebrated in his Poem. The high ſpirit of Dante was ill ſuited to courtly dependence; and he is ſaid to have loſt the favour of his Veroneſe patron by the rough frankneſs of his behaviour. From Verona he retired to France, according to Manetti; and Boccacio affirms that he diſputed in the Theological Schools of Paris with great reputation. Bayle queſtions his viſiting Paris at this period of his life, and thinks it improbable that a man, who had been one of the chief magiſtrates of Florence, ſhould condeſcend to engage in the public ſquabbles of the Pariſian Theologiſts. But the ſpirit both of Dante, and the times in which he lived, ſufficiently account for this exerciſe of his talents; and his reſidence in France at this ſeaſon is confirmed by Boccacio, in his life of our Poet, which Bayle ſeems to have had no opportunity of conſulting.

The election of Henry Count of Luxemburgh to the empire, in November 1308, afforded Dante a proſpect of being reſtored to his native city, as he attached himſelf to the intereſt of the new Emperor, [Page 25] in whoſe ſervice he is ſuppoſed to have written his Latin treatiſe De Monarchia, in which he aſſerted the rights of the Empire againſt the encroachments of the Papacy. In the year 1311, he inſtigated Henry to lay ſiege to Florence; in which enterprize, ſays one of his Biographers, he did not appear in perſon, from motives of reſpect towards his native city. The Emperor was repulſed by the Florentines; and his death, which happened in the ſucceeding year, deprived Dante of all hopes concerning his re-eſtabliſhment in Florence.

After this diſappointment, he is ſuppoſed to have paſſed ſome years in roving about Italy in a ſtate of poverty and diſtreſs, till he found an honourable eſtabliſhment at Ravenna, under the protection of Guido Novello da Polenta, the lord of that city, who received this illuſtrious exile with the moſt endearing liberality, continued to protect him through the few remaining years of his life, and extended his munificence to the aſhes of the Poet.

Eloquence was one of the many talents which Dante poſſeſſed in an eminent degree. On this account he is ſaid to have been employed on fourteen different embaſſies in the courſe of his life, and to have ſucceeded in moſt of them. His patron Guido had occaſion to try his abilities in a ſervice of this [Page 26] nature, and diſpatched him as his ambaſſador to negociate a peace with the Venetians, who were preparing for hoſtilities againſt Ravenna. Manetti aſſerts that he was unable to procure a public audience at Venice, and returned to Ravenna by land, from his apprehenſions of the Venetian fleet; when the fatigue of his journey, and the mortification of failing in his attempt to preſerve his generous patron from the impending danger, threw him into a fever, which terminated in death on the 14th of September 1321. He died, however, in the palace of his friend, and the affectionate Guido paid the moſt tender regard to his memory. This magnificent patron, ſays Boccacio, commanded the body to be adorned with poetical ornaments, and, after being carried on a bier through the ſtreets of Ravenna by the moſt illuſtrious citizens, to be depoſited in a marble coffin. He pronounced himſelf the funeral oration, and expreſſed his deſign of erecting a ſplendid monument in honour of the deceaſed: a deſign which his ſubſequent misfortunes rendered him unable to accompliſh. At his requeſt, many epitaphs were written on the Poet: the beſt of them, ſays Boccacio, by Giovanni del Virgilio of Bologna, a famous author of that time, and the intimate friend of Dante. Boccacio then cites a few Latin verſes, not [Page 27] worth tranſcribing, ſix of which are quoted by Bayle as the compoſition of Dante himſelf, on the authority of Paul Jovius. In 1483, Bernardo Bembo, the father of the celebrated Cardinal, raiſed a handſome monument over the neglected aſhes of the Poet, with the following inſcription:

Exigua tumuli Danthes hic ſorte jacebas
Squallenti nulli cognita paenè ſitu;
At nunc marmoreo ſubnixus conderis arcu,
Omnibus et cultu ſplendidiore nites:
Nimirum Bembus, Muſis incenſus Etruſcis,
Hoc tibi, quem in primis hae coluere, dedit.

Before this period the Florentines had vainly endeavoured to obtain the bones of their great Poet from the city of Ravenna. In the age of Leo the Xth they made a ſecond attempt, by a ſolemn application to the Pope for that purpoſe; and the great Michael Angelo, an enthuſiaſtic admirer of Dante, very liberally offered to execute a magnificent monument to the Poet. The hopes of the Florentines were again unſucceſsful. The particulars of their ſingular petition may be found in the notes to Condivi's Life of Michael Angelo.

The perſon and manners of Dante are thus repreſented by the deſcriptive pen of Boccacio:— [Page 28] ‘"Fu adunque queſto noſtro Poeta di Mezzana ſtatura; e poichè alla matura età fu pervenuto, andò alquanto gravetto, ed era il ſuo andar grave, e manſueto, di oneſtiſſimi panni ſempre veſtito, in quello abito, che era alla ſua matura età convenevole; il ſuo volto fu lungo, il naſo aquilino, gli occhi anzi groſſi, che piccioli, le maſcelle grandi, e dal labbro di ſotto, era quel di ſopra avanzato; il colore era bruno, i capelli, e la barba ſpeſſi neri e [Page 29] creſpi, e ſempre nella faccia malinconico e penſoſo—Ne coſtumi publici e domeſtici mirabilmente fu compoſto e ordinato; più che niuno altro corteſe e civile; nel cibo e nel poto fu modeſtiſſimo.’—Though Dante is deſcribed as much inclined to melancholy, and his genius particularly delighted in the gloomy and ſublime, yet in his early period of life he ſeems to have poſſeſſed all the lighter graces of ſprightly compoſition, as appears from the following airy and ſportive ſonnet:

[Page 28]
Guido, vorrei, che tu, e Lappo, ed io,
Foſſimo preſi per incantamento,
E meſſi ad un vaſſel, ch'ad ogni vento
Per mare andaſſe a voler voſtro e mio;
Sicché fortuna, od altro tempo rio,
Non ci poteſie dare impedimento:
Anzi vivendo ſempre in noi talento
Di ſtare inſieme creſceſſe 'l diſio.
E monna Vanna, e monna Bice poi,
Con quella ſu il numer delle trenta,
Con noi poneſie il buono incantatore:
E quivi ragionar ſempre d' amore:
E ciaſcuna di lor foſſe contenta,
Siccome io credo che ſariamo noi.
[Page 29]
Henry! I wiſh that you, and Charles, and I,
By ſome ſweet ſpell within a bark were plac'd,
A gallant bark with magic virtue grac'd,
Swift at our will with every wind to fly:
So that no changes of the ſhifting ſky,
No ſtormy terrors of the watery waſte,
Might bar our courſe, but heighten ſtill our taſte
Of ſprightly joy, and of our ſocial tie:
Then, that my Lucy, Lucy fair and free,
With thoſe ſoft nymphs on whom your ſouls are bent,
The kind magician might to us convey,
To talk of love throughout the live-long day;
And that each fair might be as well content
As I in truth believe our hearts would be.

[Page 30] Theſe lively verſes were evidently written before the Poet loſt the object of his earlieſt attachment, as ſhe is mentioned by the name of Bice. At what time, and in what place, he executed the great and ſingular work which has rendered him immortal, his numerous Commentators ſeem unable to determine. Boccacio aſſerts, that he began it in his thirty-fifth year, and had finiſhed ſeven Cantos of his Inferno before his exile; that in the plunder of his houſe, on that event, the beginning of his poem was fortunately preſerved, but remained for ſome time neglected; till its merit being accidently diſcovered by an intelligent Poet, named Dino, it was ſent to the Marquis Maroello Maleſpina, an Italian nobleman, by whom Dante was then protected. The Marquis reſtored theſe loſt papers to the Poet, and entreated him to proceed in a work which opened in ſo promiſing a manner. To this incident we are probably indebted for the poem of Dante, which he muſt have continued under all the diſadvantages of an unfortunate and agitated life. It does not appear at what time he completed it; perhaps before he quitted Verona, as he dedicated the Paradiſe to his Veroneſe patron.—The Critics have variouſly accounted for his having called his poem Comedia. He gave it that title, ſaid one of his ſons, becauſe it opens with diſtreſs, and cloſes with felicity. The very high [Page 31] eſtimation in which this production was held by his country, appears from a ſingular inſtitution. The republic of Florence, in the year 1373, aſſigned a public ſtipend to a perſon appointed to read lectures on the poem of Dante: Boccacio was the firſt perſon engaged in this office; but his death happening in two years after his appointment, his Comment extended only to the ſeventeen firſt Cantos of the Inferno. The critical diſſertations that have been written on Dante are almoſt as numerous as thoſe to which Homer has given birth: the Italian, like the Grecian Bard, has been the ſubject of the higheſt panegyric, and of the groſſeſt invective. Voltaire has ſpoken of him with that precipitate vivacity, which ſo frequently led that lively Frenchman to inſult the reputation of the nobleſt writers. In one of his entertaining letters, he ſays to an Italian Abbé, ‘"Je fais grand cas du courage, avec lequel vous avez oſé dire que Dante etoit un fou, et ſon ouvrage un monſtre—Le Dante pourra entrer dans les bibliotheques des curieux, mais il ne ſera jamais lu."’ But more temperate and candid Critics have not been wanting, to diſplay the merits of this original Poet. Mr. Warton has introduced into his laſt volume on Engliſh Poetry, a judicious and ſpirited ſummary of Dante's performance. We [Page 32] have ſeveral verſions of the celebrated ſtory of Ugolino; but I believe no entire Canto of Dante has hitherto appeared in our language, though his whole work has been tranſlated into French, Spaniſh, and Latin verſe. The three Cantos which follow were tranſlated a few years ago, to oblige a particular friend. The Author has ſince been ſolicited to execute an entire tranſlation of Dante: but the extreme inequality of this Poet would render ſuch a work a very laborious undertaking; and it appears very doubtful how far ſuch a verſion would intereſt our country. Perhaps the reception of theſe Cantos may diſcover to [Page 33] the Tranſlator the ſentiments of the public. At all events, he flatters himſelf that the enſuing portion of a celebrated poem may afford ſome pleaſure from its novelty, as he has endeavoured to give the Engliſh reader an idea of Dante's peculiar manner, by adopting his triple rhyme; and he does not recollect that this mode of verſification has ever appeared before in our language: it has obliged him, of courſe to make the number of tranſlated lines correſpond exactly with thoſe of the original. The difficulties attending this metre will ſufficiently ſhew themſelves, and obtain ſome degree of indulgence from the intelligent and candid reader.

[Page 32]
NEL mezzo del cammin di noſtra vita
Mi ritrovai per una ſelva oſcura,
Che la diritta via era ſmarrita:
E quanto à dir qual era, è coſa dura,
Queſta ſelva ſelvaggia ed aſpra e forte,
Che nel penſier rinnuova la paura.
[Page 34] Tanto è amara, che poco è più morte:
Ma per trattar del ben, ch'i vi trovai,
Dirò dell' altre coſe, ch'i v'ho ſcorte.
I non ſo ben ridir, com'i v'entrai;
Tant'era pien di ſonno in ſu quel punto,
Che la verace via abbandonai.
Ma po' ch'i fui al piè d'un colle giunto,
Là ove terminava quella valle,
Che m'avea di paura il cor compunto;
Guarda'in alto, e vidi le ſue ſpalle
Veſtite già de' raggi del pianeta,
Che mena dritto altrui per ogni calle.
Allor fu la paura un poco queta,
Che nel lago del cor m'era durata,
La notte, ch'i paſſai con tanta pieta.
E come quei, che con lena affannata
Ufcito fuor del pelago alla riva,
Si volge all'aqua periglioſa, e guata;
Coſi l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva,
Si vols' à retro à rimirar lo paſſo,
Che non laſciò giammai perſona viva.
Poi ch'ebbi ripoſato il corpo laſſo,
Ripreſi via per la piaggia deſerta,
Si che 'l piè fermo ſempre era 'l più baſſo.
Ed ecco, quaſi al cominciar dell' erta,
Una lonza leggiera e preſta molto,
Che di pel maculato era coperta.
[Page 36] E non mi ſi partia dinanzi al volto;
Anz' impediva tanto 'l mio cammino,
Ch'i fu per ritornar piu volte volto.
Temp' era dal principio del mattino,
E 'l ſol montava in ſu con quelle ſtelle,
Ch' eran con lui, quando l'amor, divino
Moſſe da prima quelle coſe belle
Si ch'a bene ſperar m'era cagione
Di quella fera la gaietta pelle,
L'ora del tempo, e la dolce ſtagione:
Ma non ſi, che paura non mi deſſe
La viſta, che m'apparve d'un leone.
Queſti parea, che contra me veneſſe
Con la teſt'alta, e con rabbioſa fame,
Si che parea, che l'aer ne temeſſe:
Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame
Sembiava carca con la ſua magrezza,
E molte genti fe' già viver grame.
Queſta mi porſe tanto di gravezza
Con la paura, ch'uſcia di ſua viſta,
Ch'i perde' la ſperanza dell' altezza.
E quale è quei, che volentieri acquiſta,
E gingne 'l tempo, che perder lo face,
Che 'n tutt' i ſuoi penſier piange, e s'attriſta;
Tal me fece la beſtia ſenza pace,
Che venendomi 'ncontro, a poco a poco
Mi ripingeva là, dove 'l ſol tace.
[Page 38] Mentre ch'i rovinava in baſſo loco,
Dinanzi gli occhi mi ſi fu offerto
Chi per lungo ſilenzio parea fioco.
Quando i' vidi coſtui nel gran diſerto;
Miſerere di me gridai a lui,
Qual che tu ſii, od ombra, od uomo certo.
Riſpoſemi: non uomo, uomo già fui,
E li parenti miei furon Lombardi,
E Mantovani, per patria amendui.
Nacqui ſub Julio, ancorche foſſe tardi,
E viſſi a Roma, ſotto 'l buono Aguſto,
Al tempo degli Dei falſi e bugiardi.
Poeta fui, e cantai di quel giuſto
Figlioul d'Anchiſe, che venne da Troja,
Poichè 'l ſuperbo Ilion fu combuſto.
Ma tu, perchè ritorni à tanta noja?
Perchè non ſali il dilettoſo monte,
Ch'è principio e cagion di tutta gioja?
Or ſe' tu quel Virgilio, e quella fonte,
Che ſpande di parlar sì largo fiume?
Riſpoſi lui, con vergognoſa fronte.
Oh degli altri poeti onore e lume,
Vagliami 'l lungo ſtudio, e'l grande amore,
Che m'han fatto cercar lo tuo volume.
Tu ſe' lo mio maeſtro, e'l mio autore:
Tu ſe' ſolo colui, da cu'io tolſi
Lo bello ſtile, che m'ha fatto onore.
[Page 40] Vedi la beſtia, per cu'io mi volſi:
Ajutami da lei, famoſo ſaggio,
Ch'ella mi fa tremar le vene e i polſi.
A te convien tenere altro viaggio,
Riſpoſe, poichè lagrimar mi vide,
Se vuoi campar d'eſto luogo ſelvaggio:
Che queſta beſtia, per la qual tu gride,
Non laſcia altrui paſſar per la ſua via,
Ma tanto lo 'mpediſce, che l'uccide:
Ed ha natura sì malvagia e ria,
Che mai non empie la bramoſa voglia,
E, dopo 'l paſto, ha più fame, che pria.
Molti ſon gli animali, a cui s'ammoglia;
E più ſaranno ancora, infin che 'l veltro
Verrà, che la farà morir di doglia.
Queſti non ciberà terra, nè peltro,
Ma ſpienza, e amore, e virtute,
E ſua nazion ſarà tra Feltro e Feltro:
Di quell' umile Italia fia ſalute,
Per cui morío la Vergine Cammilla,
Eurialo, e Turno, e Niſo di ferute:
Queſti la caccerà per ogni villa,
Fin chè l'avrà rimeſſa nello 'nferno,
La onde 'nvidia prima dipartilla.
Ond' io, per lo tuo me', penſo e diſcerno,
Che tu mi ſegui, ed io ſarò tua guida,
E trarrotti di qui, per luogo eterno,
[Page 42] Ov' udirai le diſperate ſtrida,
Vedrai gli antiche ſpiriti dolenti,
Che la ſeconda morte ciaſcun grida:
E poi vedrai color, che ſon contenti
Nel fuoco; perchè ſperan di venire,
Quando che ſia, alle beate genti:
Alle qua' poi ſe tu vorrai ſalire,
Anima fia, a ciò di me più degna:
Con lei ti laſcerò nel mio partire:
Che quello 'mperador, che laſsù regna,
Perch' i' fu' ribellante alla ſua legge,
Non vuol che'n ſua città per me ſi vegna.
In tutte parti impera, e quivi regge:
Quivi è la ſua cittade, e l'alto ſeggio:
O felice colui, cu' ivi elegge!
Ed io a lui: Poeta, i' ti rechieggio,
Per quello Iddio, che tu non conoſceſti,
Acciocch' i' fugga queſto male e peggio,
Che tu mi meni, là dov'or diceſti,
Sì ch' i' vegga la porta di ſan Pietro,
E color che tu fai cotanto meſti.
Alior ſi moſſe, ed io li tenni dietro.
LO giorno ſe n'andava, e l'aer bruno
Toglieva gli animai, che ſono 'n terra,
Dalle fatiche loro: ed io ſol' uno
[Page 44] M'apparecchiava a ſoſtener la guerra,
Si del cammino, e sì della pietate,
Che ritrarrà la mente, che non erra.
O Muſe, o alto 'ngegno, or m'ajutate:
O mente, che ſcriveſti ciò ch'i' vidi,
Qui ſi parrà la tua nobilitate.
Io cominciai: Poeta, che mi guidi,
Guarda la mia virtù, s'ell' è poſſente,
Prima ch' all' alto paſſo tu mi fidi.
Tu dici, che di Silvio lo parente,
Corrutibile ancora, ad immortale
Secolo andò, e fu ſenſibilmente.
Però ſe l'avverſario d'ogni male
Corteſe fu, penſando l'alto effetto,
Ch' uſcir dovea di lui, e 'l chi, e 'l quale,
Non pare indegno ad uomo d'intelletto:
Ch' ei fu dell' alma Roma, e di ſuo 'mpero,
Nell' empireo ciel, per padre, eletto:
La quale, e'l quale (a voler dir lo vero)
Fur ſtabiliti, per lo loco ſanto,
U' ſiede il ſucceſſor del maggior Piero.
Per queſta andata, onde li dai tu vanto,
Inteſe coſe, che furon cagione
Di ſua vittoria, e del papale ammanto.
Andovvi poi lo vas d'elezione,
Per recarne conforto, a quella fede,
Ch' è principio alla via di ſalvazione.
[Page 46] Ma io, perchè venirvi? o chi 'l concede?
Io non Enea, io non Paolo ſono:
Me degno à ciò, nè io, nè altri il crede.
Perchè ſe del venire i' m'abbandono,
Temo che la venuta non ſia folle:
Se' ſavio, e 'ntendi me', ch'i' non ragiono.
E quale è quei, che diſvuol ciò ch'e' volle,
E per nuovi penſier cangia propoſta,
Si che del cominciar tutto ſi tolle;
Tal mi fec' io' in quella oſcura coſta:
Perchè, penſando, conſumai la 'mpreſa,
Che fu, nel cominciar, cotanto toſta.
Se io ho ben la tua parola inteſa,
Riſpoſe del magnanimo quell' ombra,
L'anima tua è da viltate offeſa:
La qual molte fiate l'uomo ingombra,
Si che d'onrata impreſa lo rivolve,
Come falſo veder beſtia, quand' ombra.
Da queſta tema acciocché tu ti ſolve,
Dirotti, perch' i' venni, e quel, ch'io'nteſi,
Nel primo punto, che di te mi dolve.
Io era tra color, che ſon ſoſpeſi,
E donna mi chiamò beata e bella,
Tal che di comandare i' la richieſi.
Lucevan gli occhi ſuoi più, che la ſtella:
E cominciommi a dir ſoave e piana,
Con angelica voce, in ſua favella:
[Page 48] O anima corteſe Mantovana,
Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura,
E durerà, quanto 'l moto lontana:
L'amico mio, e non della ventura,
Nella deſerta piaggia è impedito
Sì nel cammin, che volto è per paura:
E temo, che non ſia già sì ſmarrito,
Ch'io mi ſia tardi al ſoccorſo levata,
Per quel, ch' io ho di lui, nel Cielo, udito.
Or muovi, e con la tua parola ornata,
E con ciò, che ha meſtieri al ſuo campare,
L'ajuta sì, ch'i' ne ſia conſolata.
I' ſon Beatrice, che ti faccio andare:
Vegno di loco, ove tornar diſio:
Amor mi moſſe, che mi fa parlare.
Quando ſarò dinanzi al ſignor mio,
Di te mi loderò ſovente a lui:
Tacette allora, e poi comincia' io:
O donna di virtù, ſola, per cui,
L'umana ſpezie eccede ogni contento
Da quel ciel, ch' ha minor li cerchi ſuoi:
Tanto m'aggrada 'l tuo comandamento,
Che l'ubbidir, ſe già foſſe, m'è tardi:
Più non t'è uopo aprirmi 'l tuo talento.
Ma dimmi la cagion, che non ti guardi
Dello ſcender quaggiuſo, in queſto centro,
Dall' ampio loco, ove tornar tu ardi.
[Page 50] Da che tu vuoi ſaper cotanto addentro,
Dirotti brevemente, mi riſpoſe,
Perch'i' non temo di venir qua entro.
Temer ſi dee di ſole quelle coſe,
Ch' hanno potenza di fare altrui male:
Dell' altre nò, che non ſon pauroſe.
Io ſon fatta da Dio, ſua mercè, tale,
Che la voſtra miſeria non mi tange,
Nè fiamma d'eſto 'ncendio non m'aſſale.
Donna è gentil nel ciel, che ſi compiange
Di queſto 'mpedimento, ov' i' ti mando,
Sì che duro giudicio laſſu frange.
Queſta chiefe Lucía in ſuo dimando,
E diſſe: Ora abbiſogna il tuo fedele
Di te, ed io a te lo raccomando,
Lucía nimica di ciaſcun crudele
Si moſſe, e venne al loco, dov'i' era,
Che mi ſedea con l'antica Rachele:
Diſſe, Beatrice, loda di Dio vera,
Che non ſoccorri quei, che t'amò tanto;
Ch' uſcáo per te della volgare ſchiera?
Non odi tu la pieta del ſuo pianto,
Non vedi tu la morte, che 'l combatte
Su la fiumana, ove 'l mar non ha vanto?
Al mondo non fur mai perſone ratte
A far lor pro, ed a fuggir lor danno,
Com' io, dopo cotai parole fatte,
[Page 52] Venni quaggiù dal mio beato ſcanno,
Fidandomi nel tuo parlare oneſto,
Ch' onora te, e quei, ch'udito l'hanno.
Poſcia che m'ebbe ragionato queſto,
Gli occhi lucenti, lagrimando, volſe:
Perchè mi fece del venir più preſto:
E venni à te così, com' ella volſe:
Dinanzi a quella fiera ti levai,
Che del bel monte il corto andar ti tolſe.
Dunque che è? perchè, perchè riſtai?
Perchè tanta viltà nel cuore allette?
Perchè ardire e franchezza non hai?
Poſcia che tai tre donne benedette
Curan di te, nella corte del Cielo,
E'l mio parlar tanto ben t'impromette?
Quale i fioretti, dal notturno gielo,
Chinati e chiuſi, poi che'l ſol gl'imbianca,
Si drizzan tutti aperti in loro ſtelo,
Tal mi fec' io, di mia virtute ſtanca:
E tanto buono ardire al cuor mi corſe,
Ch'i' cominciai, come perſona franca:
O pietoſa colei, che mi ſoccorſe,
E tu corteſe, ch'ubbidiſti toſto
Alle vere parole, che ti porſe!
Tu m'hai con deſiderio il cuor diſpoſto
Sì al venir, con le parole tue,
Ch'i' ſon tornato nel primo propoſto.
[Page 54] Or va, ch'un ſol volere è d' amendue:
Tu duca, tu ſignore, e tu maeſtro:
Così li diſſi: e poichè moſſo fue,
Entrai per lo cammino alto e ſilveſtro.
"PER me ſi va nella città dolente:
Per me ſi va nell' eterno dolore:
Per me ſi va tra la perduta gente.
Giuſtizia moſſe 'l mio alto fattore:
Fecemi la divina poteſtate,
La ſomma ſapienzia, e 'l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fur coſe create,
Se non eterne, ed io eterno duro:
Laſciate ogni ſperanza, voi che 'ntrate."—
Queſte parole di colore oſcuro
Vid' io ſcritte al ſommo d'una porta:
Perch'io, Maeſtro, il ſenſo lor m'è duro.
Ed egli a me, come perſona accorta,
Qui ſi convien laſciare ogni ſoſpetto:
Ogni viltà convien, che qui ſia morta.
Noi ſem venuti al luogo, ov' i' t'ho detto,
Che tu vedrai le genti doloroſe,
Ch'hannoperduto 'l ben dello 'ntelletto.
[Page 56] E poichè la ſua mano alla mia poſe,
Con lieto volto, ond'i' mi confortai,
Mi miſe dentro alle ſegrete coſe.
Quivi ſoſpiri, pianti, e alti guai
Riſonavan, per l'aer ſenza ſtelle,
Perch'io al cominciar, ne lagrimai.
Diverſe lingue, orribili favelle,
Parole di dolore, accenti d'ira,
Voci alte e fioche, e ſuon di man con elle
Facevano un tumulto, il qual s'aggira
Sempre 'n quell' aria, ſenza tempo, tinta,
Come la rena quando 'l turbo ſpira.
Ed io, ch' avea d'error la teſta cinta,
Diſſi, Maeſtro, che è quel, ch' i' odo?
E che gent' è, che par nel duol sì vinta?
Ed egli a me: Queſto miſero modo
Tengon l' anime triſte di coloro,
Che viſſer ſanza infamia, e ſanza lodo.
Miſchiate ſono a quel cattivo coro
Degli angeli, che non furon ribelli,
Nè fur fedeli a Dio, ma per ſe foro.
Cacciarli i ciel, per non eſſer men belli:
Nè lo profondo inferno gli riceve,
Ch'alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d'elli.
Ed io: Maeſtro, che è tanto greve
A lor, che lamentar gli fa sì forte?
Riſpoſe: Dicerolti molto breve.
[Page 58] Queſti non hanno ſperanza di morte:
E la lor cieca vita è tanto baſſa,
Che 'nvidioſi ſon d'ognì altra ſorte.
Fama di loro il mondo eſſer non laſſa:
Miſericordia e giuſtizia gli ſdegna.
Non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda, e paſſa.
Ed io, che riguardai, vidi una inſegna,
Che, girando, correva tanto ratta,
Che d'ogni poſa mi pareva indegna:
E dietro le venía sì lunga tratta
Di gente, ch'i' non avrei mai creduto,
Che morte tanta n' aveſſe disfatta.
Poſcia ch' io v'ebbi alcun riconoſciuto,
Guardai, e vidi l'ombra di colui,
Che fece, per viltate, il gran rifiuto.
Incontanente inteſe, e certo fui,
Che queſt' era la ſetta de' cattivi
A Dio ſpiacenti, ed a' nemici ſui.
Queſti ſciaurati, che mai non fur vivi,
Erano ignudi, e ſtimolati molto
Da moſconi, e da veſpe, ch'erano ivi.
Elle rigavan lor di ſangue il volto,
Che miſchiato di lagrime, a' lor piedi,
Da faſtidioſi vermi era ricolto.
E poi, ch'a riguardare oltre mi diedi,
Vidi gente alla riva d'un gran fiume;
Perch' i' diſſi: Maeſtro, or mi concedi,
[Page 60] Ch'io ſappia, quali ſono, e qual coſtume
Le fa parer di trapaſſar sì pronte,
Com'io diſcerno per lo fioco lume.
Ed egli a me: Le coſe ti fien conte,
Quando noi fermerem li noſtri paſſi
Su la triſta rivierae d'Acheronte.
Allor con gli occhi vergognoſi e baſſi
Temendo, no 'l mio dir gli fuſſe grave,
Infino al fiume di parlar mi traſſi.
Ed ecco verſo noi venir, per nave,
Un vecchio bianco, per antico pelo,
Gridando, Guai à voi anime prave:
Non iſperate mai veder lo cielo:
I' vegno, per menarvi all' altra riva
Nelle tenebre eterne, in caldo e'n gielo:
E tu, che ſe' coſtì, anima viva,
Partiti da coteſtí, che ſon morti:
Ma poi ch' e' vide, ch' i' non mi partiva,
Diſſe: Per altre vie, per altri porti
Verrai a piaggia, non qui, per paſſare:
Più lieve legno convien, che ti porti.
E'l duca a lui: Caron, non ti crucciare:
Vuolſi così colà, dove ſi puote
Ciò che ſi vuole, e più non dimandare.
Quinci fur quete le lanoſe gote
Al nocchier della livida palude,
Che 'ntorno agli occhi ave' di fiamme ruote.
[Page 62] Ma quell' anime, ch'eran laſſe e nude,
Cangiar colore, e dibattero i denti,
Ratto che 'nteſer le parole crude.
Beſtemmiavano Iddio, ei lor parenti,
L'umana ſpezie, il luogo, il tempo, e'l ſeme,
Di lor ſemenza, e di lor naſcimenti.
Poi ſi ritraſſer tutte quante inſieme
Forte piangendo, alla riva malvagia,
Ch'attende ciaſcun'uom, che Dio non teme.
Caron dimonio, con occhi di bragia,
Loro accennando, tutte le raccoglie:
Batte col remo, qualunque s'adagia.
Come d' Autunno ſi levan le foglie,
L' una appreſſo dell' altra, infin che 'l ramo
Rende alla terra tutte le ſue ſpoglie;
Similemente il mal ſeme d' Adamo:
Gittanſi di quel lito ad una ad una,
Per cenni, com' augel, per ſuo richiamo.
Così ſen vanno ſu per l'onda bruna,
E avanti che ſien di là diſceſe,
Anche di qua nova ſchiera s'aduna.
Figliuol mio, diſſe il maeſtro corteſe,
Quelli, che muojon nell' ira di Dio,
Tutti convegnon qui d' ogni paeſe:
E pronti ſono al trapaſſar del rio,
Che la divina giuſtizia gli ſprona,
Sì che la tema ſi volge in diſio.
[Page 64] Quinci non paſſa mai anima buona:
E però ſe Caron di te ſi lagna,
Ben puoi ſaper omai, che'l ſuo dir ſuona.
Finito queſto la buja campagna
Tremò sì forte, che dello ſpavento
La mente di ſudore ancor mi bagna.
La terra lagrimoſa diede vento,
Che balenò una luce vermiglia,
La qual mi vinſe ciaſcun ſentimento:
E caddi, come l' uom, cui ſonno piglia.
IN the mid ſeaſon of this mortal ſtrife,
I found myſelf within a gloomy grove,
Far wandering from the ways of perfect life:
The place I know not, where I chanc'd to rove;
It was a wood ſo wild, it wounds me ſore
But to remember with what ills I ſtrove:
[Page 35] Such ſtill my dread, that death is little more.
But I will tell the good which there I found.
High things 'twas there my fortune to explore:
Yet how I enter'd on that ſecret ground
I know not to explain; ſo much in ſleep
My mortal ſenſes at that hour were drown'd.
But when I reach'd the bottom of a ſteep,
That roſe to terminate the dreary vale,
Which made cold terrors thro' my boſom creep,
I look'd on high, where breath'd a purer gale,
And ſaw the ſummit gliſten with that ray
Which leads the wand'rer ſafe o'er hill and dale.
This ſoon began to chaſe thoſe fears away,
Which held my ſtruggling ſpirit bound ſo faſt
During that night of darkneſs and diſmay:
And, as th' exhauſted wretch, by fortune caſt
Safe from the ſtormy deep upon the ſhore,
Turns to ſurvey the perils he has paſt,
So turn'd my ſoul, ere yet its dread was o'er,
Back to contemplate that myſterious ſtrait
Where living mortal never paſt before.
Ariſing ſoon from this repoſe elate,
Up the rough ſteep my journey I begin,
My lower foot ſuſtaining all my weight.
Here, while my toilſome way I ſlowly win,
Behold a nimble Panther ſprings to ſight!
And beauteous ſpots adorn his motley ſkin:
[Page 37] He at my preſence ſhew'd no ſigns of fright,
But rather ſtrove to bar my doubtful way;
I often turn'd, and oft reſolv'd on flight.
'Twas now the chearful hour of riſing day;
The ſun advanc'd in that propitious ſign
Which firſt beheld his radiant beams diſplay
Creation's charms, the work of love divine!
So that I now was rais'd to hope ſublime,
By theſe bright omens of a fate benign,
The beauteous Beaſt and the ſweet hour of prime.
But ſoon I loſt that hope; and ſhook yet more
To ſee a Lion in this lonely clime:
With open jaws, athirſt for human gore,
He ruſh'd towards me in his hungry ire;
Air ſeem'd to tremble at his ſavage roar.
With him, enflam'd with every fierce deſire,
A famiſh'd She-wolf, like a ſpectre, came;
Beneath whoſe gripe ſhall many a wretch expire.
Such ſad oppreſſion ſeiz'd my ſinking frame,
Such horror at theſe ſtrange tremendous ſights,
My hopes to climb the hill no longer aim;
But, as the wretch whom lucre's luſt incites,
In the curſt hour which ſcatters all his wealth,
Sinks in deep ſorrow, dead to all delights,
So was I robb'd of all my ſpirit's health,
And to the quarter where the ſun grows mute,
Driven by this Beaſt, who crept on me by ſtealth.
[Page 39] While I retreated from her dread purſuit,
A manly figure my glad eyes ſurvey'd,
Whoſe voice was like the whiſper of a lute.
Soon as I ſaw him in this dreary glade,
Take pity on me, to this form I cry'd,
Be thou ſubſtantial man, or fleeting ſhade!—
A man I was (the gracious form reply'd)
And both my parents were of Lombard race;
They in their native Mantua liv'd and dy'd:
I liv'd at Rome, rich in a monarch's grace,
Beneath the good Auguſtus' letter'd reign,
While fabled Gods were ſerv'd with worſhip baſe.
A Bard I was: the ſubject of my ſtrain
That juſt and pious Chief who ſail'd from Troy,
Sinking in aſhes on the ſanguine plain.
But thou, whom theſe portentous ſights annoy,
Why doſt thou turn? why not aſcend the mount,
Source of all good, and ſummit of all joy!—
Art thou that Virgil? thou! that copious fount
Of richeſt eloquence, ſo clear, ſo bright?
I anſwer'd, bluſhing at his kind account;
O thou! of Poets the pure guide and light!
Now let me profit by that fond eſteem
Which kept thy ſong for ever in my ſight!
Thou art my Maſter! thou my Bard ſupreme,
From whom alone my fond ambition drew
That purer ſtyle which I my glory deem!
[Page 41] O! from this Beaſt, ſo hideous to the view,
Save me! O ſave me! thou much-honour'd Sage!
For growing terrors all my power ſubdue.—
A different road muſt lead thee from her rage,
(He ſaid, obſervant of my ſtarting tears)
And from this wild thy ſpirit diſengage;
For that terrific Beaſt, which caus'd thy fears,
Worries each wretch that in her road ſhe ſpies,
Till death at length, his ſole relief, appears.
So keen her nature, ſleep ne'er ſeals her eyes;
Her ravenous hunger no repaſt can ſate;
Food only ſerves to make its fury riſe.
She calls from different animals her mate;
And long ſhall ſhe produce an offspring baſe,
Then from a mighty victor meet her fate.
Nor pomp nor riches ſhall that victor grace,
But truth, and love, and all excelling worth;
He from his reſcu'd land all ill ſhall chaſe,
The ſaviour of the realm that gives him birth,
Of Italy, for whom Camilla fell,
And Turnus, fighting for his native earth,
And Niſus, with the friend he lov'd ſo well.
The Beaſt this victor to that den ſhall drive
Whence Envy let her looſe, her native hell!
Now for thy good, well-pleas'd, I will contrive,
That by my aid, while I thy ſteps controul,
Thou ſhalt in ſafety at thoſe realms arrive
[Page 43] Where thou ſhalt ſee the tortur'd ſpirits roll,
And hear each mourn his miſerable fate,
Calling for death on his immortal ſoul.
Then ſhalt thou viſit thoſe, who in a ſtate
Of purifying fire are ſtill content,
And for their promis'd heaven ſubmiſſive wait:
If to that heaven thy happy courſe is bent,
A worthier guard will ſoon my place ſupply;
A purer ſpirit, for thy guidance ſent!
For that Immortal Power, who rules on high,
Becauſe I ne'er his perfect laws have known,
His ſacred preſence will to me deny.
There in the realms of light he fix'd his throne;
There o'er the world Almighty Lord he reigns:
O bleſt the ſervant whom he deigns to own!—
Poet (I anſwer'd) by thy living ſtrains,
And by that God, tho' not reveal'd to thee,
That I may 'ſcape from theſe, and heavier pains,
Be thou my leader, where thy way is free!
So that my eyes St. Peter's gate may find,
And all the wonders of the deep may ſee!
He led, and I attentive march'd behind.
THE day was ſinking, and the duſky air
On all the animals of earth beſtow'd
Reſt from their labours. I alone prepare
[Page 45] To meet new toil, both from my dreary road,
And pious wiſh to paint in worthy phraſe
The Unerring Mind, and his divine abode.
O ſacred Muſes! now my genius raiſe!
O Memory, who writeſt what I ſaw,
From hence ſhall ſpring thy ever-during praiſe!
Kind Poet (I began, with trembling awe)
Mark if my ſoul be equal to this aim!
Nor into ſcenes too hard my weakneſs draw!
Thy Song declares, the Chief of pious fame
Appear'd among the bleſt, retaining ſtill
His mortal ſenſes and material frame;
Yet, if the great Oppoſer of all ill
Shew'd grace to him, as knowing what and who
Should from him riſe, and mighty things fulfil,
Moſt worthy he appear'd, in Reaſon's view,
That Heaven ſhould chuſe him as the Roman Sire,
Source of that empire which ſo widely grew,
Mark'd in its growth by the angelic choir
To be the ſeat where Sanctity ſhould reſt,
And Peter's heirs yet raiſe dominion higher.
From his dark journey, in thy Song expreſt,
He learn'd myſterious things; from whence aroſe
Rome's early grandeur and the Papal veſt.
To Paul, while living, heaven's high powers diſcloſe
Their ſecret bliſs, that he may thence receive
Strength in that faith from which ſalvation flows.
[Page 47] But how may I this high exploit atchieve?
I'm not Aeneas, nor the holy Paul:
Of this unworthy I myſelf believe:
If then I follow at thy friendly call,
Midway perchance my trembling ſoul may ſink:
Wiſe as thou art, thou may'ſt foreſee my fall.
Now as a man who, ſhudd'ring on the brink
Of ſome great venture, ſudden ſhifts his mind,
And feels his ſpirit from the peril ſhrink;
So, in this ſcene of doubt and darkneſs join'd,
Wavering I waſted thought in wild affright,
And the firſt ardour of my ſoul reſign'd.
If thy faint words I underſtand aright,
(Reply'd the mighty and magnanimous ſhade)
Thoſe miſts of fear have dimm'd thy mental ſight,
Which oft the ſeat of human ſenſe invade,
And make blind mortals from high deeds recoil,
By Terror's airy phantaſies betray'd:
But, that ſuch fears thy ſoul no more may ſoil,
I'll tell thee whence I came; at whoſe requeſt;
When firſt I pitied thy uncertain toil.
From the ſuſpended hoſt in which I reſt,
A lovely Spirit call'd me, fair as light;
Eager I waited on her high beheſt;
While eyes beyond the ſolar radiance bright,
And with the ſweetneſs of an angel's tongue,
Thus her ſoft words my willing aid invite:
[Page 49] O ever gentle ſhade, from Mantua ſprung!
Whoſe fame unfading on the earth ſhall laſt
As long as earth in ambient air is hung;
My friend, whoſe love all baſe deſire ſurpaſt,
In yon drear deſart finds his paſſage barr'd,
And compaſs'd round with terrors ſtands aghaſt;
And much I fear, beſet with dangers hard,
He may be loſt beyond all friendly reach,
And I from heaven deſcend too late a guard.
But go! and with thy ſoft ſoul-ſoothing ſpeech,
And all the aid thy wiſdom may inſpire,
The ways of ſafety to this wanderer teach!
My name is Beatrice: the heavenly quire
For this I left, tho' ever left with pain;
But love ſuggeſted what I now deſire.
When I the preſence of my lord regain,
On thee my praiſes with delight ſhall dwell.
So ſpake this angel, in her heavenly ſtrain.
Bright Fair, (I cry'd) who didſt on earth excel
All that e'er ſhone beneath the lunar ſphere,
And every mind to virtuous love impel!
Had I e'en now perform'd the taſk I hear,
That ſwift performance I ſhould think too ſlow:
Nor needs there more; your gracious will is clear:
Yet how you venture, I would gladly know,
From thoſe pure realms, to which again you fly,
So near the center of eternal woe.
[Page 51] What you require (ſhe ſaid, in kind reply)
I briefly will explain: how thus I dare,
Unconſcious of alarm, theſe depths to try.
From theſe things only ſprings our fearful care,
By which our hapleſs friends may ſuffer ill;
But not from other; for no fear is there.
Such am I form'd, by Heaven's moſt gracious will,
That torture cannot touch my purer frame,
E'en where fierce fires his flaming region fill.
A gentle ſpirit (Lucia is her name)
In heaven laments the hardſhips of my friend,
For whom I aſk your aid: to me ſhe came,
And kindly bade me to his woes attend:
Behold (ſhe ſaid) thy ſervant in diſtreſs!
And I his ſafety to thy care commend.
Lucia, the friend of all whom ills oppreſs,
Me, where I ſate with penſive Rachel, ſought,
In heavenly contemplation's deep receſs:
In mercy's name (ſhe cry'd) thus loſt in thought,
Seeſt thou not him who held thy charms ſo dear,
Whom Love to riſe above the vulgar taught?
And doſt thou not his lamentation hear,
Nor ſee the horror, which his ſtrength impairs,
On yon wide torrent, with no haven near?
Never was mind, intent on worldly cares,
So eager wealth to gain, or loſs to ſhun,
As, when acquainted with theſe deadly ſnares,
[Page 53] I flew from the bleſt confines of the ſun,
Truſting that eloquence, which to thy name
And to thy followers ſuch praiſe has won.
She having thus explain'd her gracious aim,
Turn'd her bright eyes, which tears of pity fill:
And hence more ſwift to thy relief I came;
And, pleas'd to execute her heavenly will,
I ſav'd thee from the fury of that Beaſt,
Which barr'd thy journey up the brighter hill.
Why then, O why has all thy ardour ceas'd?
And whence this faintneſs in thy feeble mind?
Why has its noble energy decreas'd,
When theſe pure Spirits, for thy good combin'd,
Watch o'er thy ſafety in their heavenly ſeat,
And I reveal the favour thou ſhalt find?—
As tender flowers, reviv'd by ſolar heat,
That thro' the chilling night have ſunk depreſt,
Riſe and unfold, the welcome ray to meet;
So roſe my ſpirit, of new life poſſeſt;
And, my warm heart on high atchievements bent,
I thus my animating guide addreſt:
Gracious that Spirit who thy ſuccour ſent!
And friendly thou, who freely haſt diſplay'd
Thy zeal to execute her kind intent!
Thy ſoothing words have to my ſoul convey'd
Such keen deſire to thoſe bright realms to ſoar,
I ſcorn the terror that my ſtep delay'd.
[Page 55] Now lead!—thy pleaſure I diſpute no more.
My lord, my maſter thou! and thou my guard!—
I ended here; and, while he march'd before,
The gloomy road I enter'd, deep and hard.
"THRO' me you paſs to Mourning's dark domain;
Thro' me, to ſcenes where Grief muſt ever pine;
Thro' me, to Miſery's devoted train.
Juſtice and power in my Great Founder join,
And love and wiſdom all his fabrics rear;
Wiſdom above controul, and love divine!
Before me, Nature ſaw no works appear.
Save works eternal: ſuch was I ordain'd.
Quit every hope, all ye who enter here!"—
Theſe characters, where miſty darkneſs reign'd,
High o'er a lofty gate I ſaw engrav'd.
Ah Sire! (ſaid I) hard things are here contain'd.
He, ſapient Guide! my farther queſtion ſav'd,
With ſpirit anſwering, "Here all doubt reſign,
All weak diſtruſt, and every thought deprav'd;
At length we've reach'd that gloomy drear confine,
Where, as I ſaid, thou'lt ſee the mournful race
For ever robb'd of Reaſon's light benign."
[Page 57] Then, ſtretching forth his hand with gentle grace,
From whence new comfort thro' my boſom flows,
He led me in to that myſterious place.
There ſighs, and wailings, and ſevereſt woes,
Deeply reſounded through the ſtarleſs air;
And as I firſt advanc'd, my fears aroſe.
Each different cry, the murmuring notes of care,
Accents of miſery, and words of ire,
With all the ſounds of diſcord and deſpair,
To form ſuch tumult in this ſcene conſpire,
As flies for ever round the gloomy waſte,
Like ſand when quicken'd by the whirlwind's fire.
I then (my mind with error ſtill diſgrac'd)
Exclaim'd—O Sire! what may this trouble mean?
What forms are theſe by ſorrow ſo debas'd?—
He ſoon reply'd—Behold, theſe bounds between,
All who without or infamy or fame
Clos'd the blank buſineſs of their mortal ſcene!
They join thoſe angels, of ignoble name,
Who not rebell'd, yet were not faithful found;
Without attachment! ſelf alone their aim!
Heaven ſhuts them out from its unſullied bound:
And Hell refuſes to admit this train,
Leſt e'en the damn'd o'er theſe their triumphs ſound.
O Sire! (ſaid I) whence then this grievous pain,
That on our ears their lamentations grate?—
This (he reply'd) I will in brief explain:
[Page 59] Theſe have no hope that death may mend their fate;
And their blind days form ſo confus'd a maſs,
They pine with envy of each other's ſtate:
From earth their name has periſh'd like the graſs;
E'en Mercy views them with a ſcornful eye.
We'll ſpeak of them no more: Behold! and paſs!—
I look'd, and ſaw a banner rais'd on high,
That whirl'd, unconſcious of a moment's ſtand,
With rapid circles in the troubled ſky:
Behind it, driven by Fate's ſupreme command,
Came ſuch a hoſt! I ne'er could have believ'd
Death had collected ſo complete a band.
When now I had the forms of all perceiv'd,
I ſaw the ſhade of that ignoble prieſt,
Of ſovereign power by indolence bereav'd.
Inſtant I knew, from every doubt releas'd,
Theſe were the baſe, the miſcreated crew
To whom the hate of God had never ceas'd.
Vile forms! ne'er honor'd with exiſtence true!
Naked they march'd, and ſorely were they ſtung
By waſps and hornets, that around them flew;
Theſe the black blood from their gall'd faces wrung;
Blood mixt with tears, that, trickling to their feet,
Fed the faſtidious worms which round them clung.
When now I farther pierc'd the dark retreat,
Numbers I ſaw beſide a mighty ſtream:
Sudden I cry'd—Now, Sire, let me entreat
[Page 61] To know what forms in diſtant proſpect ſeem
To paſs ſo ſwiftly o'er a flood ſo wide,
As I diſcern by this imperfect gleam?—
That ſhalt thou know (return'd my gracious Guide)
When the near reſpite from our toil we reach,
On ſullen Acheron's infernal tide.—
With downcaſt eyes, that pardon now beſeech,
And hoping ſilence may that pardon win,
E'en to the river I abſtain'd from ſpeech.
And lo! towards us, with a ſhrivell'd ſkin,
A hoary boatman ſteers his crazy bark,
Exclaiming, "Woe to all ye ſons of ſin!
Hope not for heaven, nor light's celeſtial ſpark!
I come to waft you to a different lot;
To Torture's realm, with endleſs horror dark:
And thou, who living view'ſt this ſacred ſpot,
Haſte to depart from theſe, for theſe are dead!"
But when he ſaw that I departed not,
In wrath he cry'd, "Thro' other paſſes led,
Not here, ſhalt thou attempt the farther ſhore;
But in a bark to bear thy firmer tread."—
O Charon, ſaid my Guide, thy ſtrife give o'er;
For thus 'tis will'd in that ſuperior ſcene
Where will is power. Seek thou to know no more!—
Now grew the bearded viſage more ſerene
Of the ſtern boatman on the livid lake,
Whoſe eyes ſo lately glar'd with anger keen:
[Page 63] But all the naked ſhades began to quake;
Their ſhuddering figures grew more pale than earth,
Soon as they heard the cruel words he ſpake:
God they blaſphem'd, their parents' injur'd worth,
And all mankind; the place, the hour, that ſaw
Their firſt formation, and their future birth.
Then were they driven, by Fate's reſiſtleſs law,
Weeping, to that ſad ſcene prepar'd for all
Who fear not God with pure devotion's awe.
Charon, with eyes of fire and words of gall,
Collects his crew, and high his oar he wields,
To ſtrike the tardy wretch who ſlights his call.
As leaves in autumn thro' the woody fields
Fly in ſucceſſion, when each trembling tree
Its ling'ring honors to the whirlwind yields;
So this bad race, condemn'd by Heaven's decree,
Succeſſive haſten from that river's ſide:
As birds, which at a call to bondage flee,
So are they wafted o'er the gloomy tide;
And ere from thence their journey is begun,
A ſecond crew awaits their hoary guide.—
My gracious Maſter kindly ſaid—My ſon!
All thoſe who in the wrath of God expire,
From every clime haſte hither, one by one;
Nor would their terrors from this ſtream retire,
Since heavenly juſtice ſo impels their mind,
That fear is quicken'd into keen deſire.
[Page 65] Here may no ſpirit paſs, to good inclin'd;
And hence, if Charon ſeem'd to thwart thy will,
Hence wilt thou deem his purpoſe not unkind.—
He paus'd; and horrors of approaching ill
Now made the mournful troop ſo ſtand aghaſt,
Their fears yet ſtrike me with a deadly chill!
The groaning earth ſent forth a hollow blaſt,
And flaſh'd a fiery glare of gloomy red!
The horrid ſcene my fainting power ſurpaſt:
I fell, and, as in ſleep, my ſenſes fled. NOTE V. VERSE 127.
[Page 64]
The gay Boccacio tempts th' Italian Muſe.]

Boccacio was almoſt utterly unknown to our country as a Poet, when two of our moſt accompliſhed Critics reſtored his poetical reputation.

Mr. Tyrwhitt, to whom Chaucer is as deeply indebted as a Poet can be to the judgment and erudition of his commentator, has given a ſketch of Boccacio's Theſeida, in his introductory diſcourſe to the Canterbury Tales; and Mr. Warton has enriched the firſt volume of his Hiſtory of Engliſh Poetry with a conſiderable ſpecimen of this very rare Italian Epic poem, of which our country is ſaid to poſſeſs but a ſingle copy.—The father of Boccacio was an Italian merchant, a native [Page 65] of Certaldo, near Florence, who in his travels attached himſelf to a young woman of Paris; and our Poet is ſuppoſed to have been the illegitimate offspring of that connection. He was born in 1313, and educated as a ſtudent of the canon law; but a ſight of Virgil's tomb, according to Filippo Villani, his moſt ancient Biographer, made him reſolve to relinquiſh his more irkſome purſuits, and devote himſelf entirely to the Muſes. His life ſeems to have been divided between literature and love, as he was equally remarkable for an amorous diſpoſition, and a paſſionate attachment to ſtudy. His moſt celebrated miſtreſs was Mary of Arragon, the natural daughter of Robert, King of Naples, the generous and enthuſiaſtic patron of Petrarch. To this lady, diſtinguiſhed by the name [Page 66] of The Fiammetta, Boccacio addreſſed his capital poem, the Theſeida; telling her, in an introductory letter, that it contained many alluſions to the particular circumſtances of their own ſecret attachment. In his latter days he retired to Certaldo, and died there in the year 1475, of a diſorder ſuppoſed to have ariſen from exceſſive application. Few authors have rendered more eſſential ſervice to the republic of letters than Boccacio, as he not only contributed very much to the improvement of his native language, but was particularly inſtrumental in promoting the revival of ancient learning: a merit which he ſhared with Petrarch. The tender and generous friendſhip which ſubſiſted between theſe two engaging authors, reflects the higheſt honour on both; and their letters to each other may be ranked among the moſt intereſting productions of that period. Boccacio compoſed, according to Quadrio, no leſs than thirty-four volumes. His Novels are univerſally known: his Poetical Works are as follow: 1. La Theſeida in Ottava Rima. 2. L'Amoroſa Viſione in Terza Rima. 3. Il Filoſtrato in Ottava Rima. 4. Il Ninfale Fieſolano in Ottava Rima.—He piqued himſelf on being the firſt Poet who ſung of martial ſubjects in Italian verſe; and he has been generally ſuppoſed the inventor of the Ottava Rima, the common Heroic meaſure [Page 67] of the Italian Muſe: but Quadrio has ſhewn that it was uſed by preceding writers; and Paſquier, in his Recherches, has quoted two ſtanzas of Thibaud King of Navarre, written in the ſame meaſure, on Blanch queen of France, who died in 1252. The neglect into which the Poems of Boccacio had fallen appears the more ſtriking, as he peculiarly prided himſelf on his poetical character; informing the world, by an inſcription on his tomb, that Poetry was his favourite purſuit—Studium fuit alma Poeſis, are the laſt words of the epitaph which he compoſed for himſelf. NOTE VI. VERSE 142.
She ſpoke exulting, and Triſſino ſung.]

Giovanni Giorgio Triſſino was born of a noble family in Vicenza, 1478: he was particularly diſtinguiſhed by a paſſion for Poetry and Architecture; and one of the very few Poets who have been rich enough to build a palace. This he is ſaid to have done from a deſign of his own, under the direction of the celebrated Palladio. He had the merit of writing the firſt regular tragedy in the Italian language, entitled Sophoniſba; but in his Epic poem he is generally allowed to have failed, though ſome learned Critics (and Gravina amongſt them) have [Page 68] endeavoured to ſupport the credit of that performance. His ſubject was the expulſion of the Goths from Italy by Beliſarius; and his poem conſiſts of twenty-ſeven books, in blank verſe. He addreſſed it to the Emperor Charles the Vth; and profeſſes in his Dedication to have taken Ariſtotle for his preceptor, and Homer for his guide.

The reader will excuſe a trifling anachroniſm, in my naming Triſſino before Arioſto, for poetical reaſons. The Italia Liberata of the former was firſt publiſhed in 1548; the Orlando Furioſo, in 1515. Triſſino died at Rome, 1550; Arioſto at Ferrara, 1533. NOTE VII. VERSE 194.
Of a poetic Sire the more poetic Son.]

The reputation of Torquato Taſſo has almoſt eclipſed that of his father Bernardo, who was himſelf a conſiderable Poet, and left two productions of the Epic kind, L'Amadigi, and Il Floridante: the latter remained unfiniſhed at his death, but was afterwards publiſhed in its imperfect ſtate by his ſon; who has ſpoken of his father's poetry with filial regard, in his different critical works. The Amadigi was written at the requeſt of ſeveral Spaniſh [Page 69] Grandees, in the court of Charles the Vth, and firſt printed in Venice by Giolito, 1560. The curious reader may find an entertaining account of the Author's ideas in compoſing this work, among his Letters, volume the firſt, page 198. I cannot help remarking, that the letter referred to contains a ſimile which Torquato has introduced in the opening of his Jeruſalem Delivered.

The Italians have formed a very pleaſing and valuable work, by collecting the letters of their eminent Painters; which contain much information on points relating to their art. The letters of their Poets, if properly ſelected, might alſo form a few intereſting volumes: as a proof of this, I ſhall inſert a ſhort letter of the younger Taſſo, becauſe it ſeems to have eſcaped the notice of his Biographers, and relates the remarkable circumſtance of his having deliberated on five different ſubjects before he decided in favour of Goffredo;

Al M. Illuſtre Sig. Conte Ferrante Eſtenſe Taſſone.

Io ho ſcritto queſta mattina a V. S. che io deſidero di far due Poemi a mio guſto; e ſebben per elezione non cambierei il ſoggetto che una volta preſi; nondimeno per ſoddisfar il ſignor principe [Page 70] gli do l' elezione di tutti queſti ſoggetti, i quali mi paijono ſovra gli altri atti a ricever la forma eroica.

Eſpedizion di Goffredo, e degli altri principi contra gl' Infedeli, e ritorno. Dove avrò occaſione di lodar le famiglie d' Europa, che io vorrò.

Eſpedizion di Beliſario contra i Goti.

Di Narſete contra i Goti, e diſcorro d' un principe. E in queſti avrei grandiſſima occaſione di lodar le coſe di Spagna e d' Italia e di Grecia e l' origine di caſa d' Auſtria.

Eſpedizion di Carlo il magno contra Lanſoni.

Eſpedizion di Carlo contra i Longobardi. In queſti troverei l' origine di tutte le famiglie grandi di Germania, di Francia, e d' Italia, e 'l ritorno d' un principe.

E ſebben alcuni di queſti ſoggetti ſono ſtati preſi, non importa; perche io cercherei di trattargli meglio, e a giudicio d' Ariſtotele.

Opere di Torquato Taſſo, tom. ix. p. 240.

This letter is the more worthy of notice, as the ſubject on which Taſſo fixed has been called by Voltaire, and perhaps very juſtly, ‘Le plus grand qu'on ait jamais choiſi.’ ‘Le Taſſe l'a traité dignement,’ adds the lively Critic, with unuſual candour; [Page 71] yet in his ſubſequent remarks he is peculiarly ſevere on the magic of the Italian Poet. The merits of Taſſo are very ably defended againſt the injuſtice of French criticiſm, and particularly that of Boileau and Voltaire, in the well-known Letters on Chivalry and Romance. Indeed the genius of this injured Poet ſeems at length to triumph in the country where he was moſt inſulted, as the French have lately attempted a poetical verſion of his Jeruſalem.

I enter not into the hiſtory of Taſſo, or that of his rival Arioſto, becauſe the public has lately received from Mr. Hoole a judicious account of their lives, prefixed to his elegant verſions of their reſpective Poems. NOTE VIII. VERSE 197.
Shall gay Taſſoni want his feſtive crown.]

Aleſſandro Taſſoni, the ſuppoſed inventor of the modern Heroi-comic Poetry, was born at Modena, 1565. His family was noble; but his parents dying during his infancy, left him expoſed to vexatious law-ſuits, which abſorbed a great part of his patrimony, and rendered him dependant. In 1599 he was engaged as Secretary to Cardinal Aſcanio [Page 72] Colonna, whom he attended on an embaſſy into Spain. He was occaſionally diſpatched into Italy on the ſervice of that Prelate, and in the courſe of one of theſe expeditions wrote his Obſervations on Petrarch. In 1605 he is ſuppoſed to have quitted the ſervice of the Cardinal, and to have lived in a ſtate of freedom at Rome, where, in 1607, he became the chief of a literary ſociety, intitled Academia degli Umoriſti. He was afterwards employed in the ſervice of Charles Emanuel, Duke of Savoy; which, after ſuffering many vexations in it, he quitted with a deſign of devoting himſelf to ſtudy and retirement. But this deſign he was induced to relinquiſh, and to ſerve the Cardinal Lodoviſio, nephew of Pope Gregory XV. from whom he received a conſiderable ſtipend. On the death of this patron, in 1632, he was recalled to his native city by Francis the Firſt, Duke of Modena, and obtained an honourable eſtabliſhment in the court of that Prince. Age had now rendered him unable to enjoy his good fortune: his health declined in the year of his return, and he expired in April 1635. His genius was particularly diſpoſed to lively ſatire; and the incidents of his life had a tendency to increaſe that diſpoſition. After having paſſed many vexatious and unprofitable years in [Page 73] the ſervice of the Great, he had his portrait painted, with a fig in his hand; and Muratori ſuppoſes him to have written theſe two lines on the occaſion:

Dextera cur ficum, quaeris, mea geſtet inanem:
Longi operis merces haec fuit; aula dedit.

His celebrated Poem, La Secchia rapita, was written, as he has himſelf declared, in 1611; begun in April, and finiſhed in October. It was circulated in MS. received with the utmoſt avidity, and firſt printed at Paris 1622. In a catalogue of the numerous editions of the Secchia, which Muratori has prefixed to his Life of Taſſoni, he includes an Engliſh tranſlation of it, printed 1715. NOTE IX. VERSE 209.
And raſhly judges that her Vega's lyre.]

The famous Lope de Vega, frequently called the Shakeſpear of Spain, is perhaps the moſt fertile Poet in the annals of Parnaſſus; and it would be difficult to name any author, ancient or modern, ſo univerſally idolized while living by all ranks of people, and ſo magnificently rewarded by the liberality of the Great. He was the ſon of Felix de Vega and Franciſca Fernandez, who were both deſcended from honourable [Page 74] families, and lived in the neighbourhood of Madrid. Our Poet was born in that city, on the 25th of November 1562. He was, according to his own expreſſion, a Poet from his cradle; and, beginning to make verſes before he had learned to write, he uſed to bribe his elder ſchool-fellows with a part of his breakfaſt, to commit to paper the lines he had compoſed. Having loſt his father while he was ſtill a child, he engaged in a frolic, very natural to a lively boy, and wandered with another lad to various parts of Spain, till, having ſpent their money, and being conducted before a magiſtrate at Segovia, for offering to ſell a few trinkets, they were ſent home again to Madrid. Soon after this adventure, our young Poet was taken under the protection of Geronimo Manrique, Biſhop of Avila, and began to diſtinguiſh himſelf by his dramatic compoſitions, which were received with great applauſe by the public, though their author had not yet completed his education; for, after this period, he became a member of the univerſity of Alcala, where he devoted himſelf for four years to the ſtudy of philoſophy. He was then engaged as Secretary to the Duke of Alva, and wrote his Arcadia in compliment to that patron; who is frequently mentioned in his Occaſional Poems. He quitted that employment on his marriage with Iſabel de [Page 75] Urbina, a lady (ſays his friend and biographer Perez de Montalvan) beautiful without artifice, and virtuous without affectation. His domeſtic happineſs was ſoon interrupted by a painful incident:—Having written ſome lively verſes in ridicule of a perſon who had taken ſome injurious freedom with his character, he received a challenge in conſequence of his wit; and happening, in the duel which enſued, to give his adverſary a dangerous wound, he was obliged to fly from his family, and ſhelter himſelf in Valencia. He reſided there a conſiderable time; but connubial affection recalled him to Madrid. His wife died in the year of his return. His affliction on this event led him to relinquiſh his favourite ſtudies, and embark on board the Armada which was then preparing for the invaſion of England. He had a brother who ſerved in that fleet as a lieutenant; and being ſhot in an engagement with ſome Dutch veſſels, his virtues were celebrated by our afflicted Poet, whoſe heart was peculiarly alive to every generous affection. After the ill ſucceſs of the Armada, the diſconſolate Lope de Vega returned to Madrid, and became Secretary to the Marquis of Malpica, to whom he has addreſſed a grateful Sonnet. From the ſervice of this Patron he paſſed into the houſehold of the Count of Lemos, whom he celebrates as an inimitable [Page 76] Poet. He was once more induced to quit his attendance on the Great, for the more inviting comforts of a married life. His ſecond choice was Juana de Guardio, of noble birth and ſingular beauty. By this lady he had two children; a ſon, who died in his infancy, and a daughter, named Feliciana, who ſurvived her father. The death of his little boy is ſaid to have haſtened that of his wife, whom he had the misfortune to loſe in about ſeven years after his marriage. Having now experienced the precariouſneſs of all human enjoyments, he devoted himſelf to a religious life, and fulfilled all the duties of it with the moſt exemplary piety; ſtill continuing to produce an aſtoniſhing variety of poetical compoſitions. His talents and his virtues procured him many unſolicited honours. Pope Urban the VIIIth ſent him the Croſs of Malta, with the title of Doctor in Divinity, and appointed him to a place of profit in the Apoſtolic Chamber; favours for which he expreſſed his gratitude by dedicating his Corona Tragica (a long poem on the fate of Mary Queen of Scots) to that liberal Pontiff. In his ſeventy-third year he felt the approaches of death, and prepared himſelf for it with the utmoſt compoſure and devotion. His laſt hours were attended by many of his intimate friends, and particularly his chief patron the Duke of Seſſa, whom [Page 77] he made his executor; leaving him the care of his daughter Feliciana, and of his various manuſcripts. The manner in which he took leave of thoſe he loved was moſt tender and affecting. He ſaid to his Diſciple and Biographer, Montalvan, That true fame conſiſted in being good; and that he would willingly exchange all the applauſes he had received, to add a ſingle deed of virtue to the actions of his life. Having given his dying benediction to his daughter, and performed the laſt ceremonies of his religion, he expired on the 25th of Auguſt 1635.

The ſplendor of his funeral was equal to the reſpect paid to him while living.—His magnificent patron, the Duke of Seſſa, invited the chief nobility of the kingdom to attend it. The ceremony was prolonged through the courſe of ſeveral days; and three ſermons in honour of the deceaſed were delivered by three of the moſt celebrated preachers. Theſe are printed with the works of the Poet, and may be conſidered as curious ſpecimens of the falſe eloquence which prevailed at that time. A volume of encomiaſtic verſes, chiefly Spaniſh, and written by more than a hundred and fifty of the moſt diſtinguiſhed characters in Spain, was publiſhed ſoon after the death of this lamented Bard. To this collection his friend and diſciple Perez de [Page 78] Montalvan prefixed a circumſtantial account of his life and death, which I have chiefly followed in the preceding narrative. An ingenious Traveller, who has lately publiſhed a pleaſing volume of Letters on the Poetry of Spain, has imputed the duel, in which Lope de Vega was engaged, to the gallantries of his firſt wife; but Montalvan's relation of that adventure clears the honor of the lady, whoſe innocence is ſtill farther ſupported by a poem written in her praiſe by Pedro de Medina Medinilla: it is printed in the works of our Poet, who is introduced in it, under the name of Belardo, celebrating the excellencies and lamenting the loſs of his departed Iſabel.

Of the perſon and manners of Lope de Vega, his friend Montalvan has only given this general account:—that his frame of body was particularly ſtrong, and preſerved by temperance in continued health;—that in converſation he was mild and unaſſuming; courteous to all, and to women peculiarly gallant;—very eager when engaged in the buſineſs of his friends, and ſomewhat careleſs in the management of his own. Of his wealth and charity I ſhall have occaſion to ſpeak in a ſubſequent note. The chief expences in which he indulged himſelf were books and pictures; of the latter, he diſtributed a few as legacies to his intimate friends: [Page 79] to the Duke of Seſſa, a fine portrait of himſelf; and to me, ſays Montalvan, another, painted when he was young, ſurrounded by dogs, monkies, and other monſters, and writing in the midſt of them, without attending to their noiſe.—Of the honours paid to this extraordinary Poet, his Biographer aſſerts that no perſon of eminence viſited Spain without ſeeking his perſonal acquaintance; that men yielded him precedence when they met him in the ſtreets, and women ſaluted him with benedictions when he paſſed under their windows. If ſuch homage can be deſerved by the moſt unwearied application to poetry, Lope de Vega was certainly entitled to it. He declared that he conſtantly wrote five ſheets a day; and his biographers, who have formed a calculation from this account, conclude the number of his verſes to be no leſs than 21,316,000. His country has very lately publiſhed an elegant edition of his poems in 19 quarto volumes; his dramatic works are to be added to this collection, and will probably be ſtill more voluminous. I ſhall ſpeak only of the former.—Among his poems there are ſeveral of the Epic kind; the three following appear to me the moſt remarkable. 1. La Dragontea. 2. La Hermoſura de Angelica. 3. La Jeruſalem Conquiſtada. The Dragontea conſiſts of ten cantos, on the laſt expedition [Page 80] and death of our great naval hero Sir Francis Drake, whom the Poet, from his exceſſive partiality to his country, conſiders as an avaricious pirate, or rather, as he chuſes to call him, a marine Dragon: and it may be ſufficient to obſerve that he has treated him accordingly. The poem on Angelica ſeems to have been written in emulation of Arioſto, and it is founded on a hint in that Poet: it was compoſed in the early part of our Author's life, and contains many compliments to his ſovereign Philip the IId: it conſiſts of 20 cantos, and cloſes with Angelica's being reſtored to her beloved Medoro. In his Jeruſalem Conquiſtada he enters the liſts with Taſſo, whom he mentions in his preface as having ſung the firſt part of the hiſtory which he had choſen for his ſubject. From the great name of Lope de Vega, I had ſome thoughts of preſenting to the reader a ſketch of this his moſt remarkable poem; but as an Epic Poet he appears to me ſo much inferior to Taſſo, and to his countryman and cotemporary Ercilla, that I am unwilling to ſwell theſe extenſive notes by an enlarged deſcription of ſo unſucceſsful a work: the Author has propheſied, in the cloſe of it, that, although neglected by his own age, it would be eſteemed by futurity:—a ſingular proof that even the moſt favoured writers are frequently diſpoſed to declaim againſt the period in which they [Page 81] live. If Lope de Vega could think himſelf neglected, what Poet may ever expect to be ſatisfied with popular applauſe?—But to return to his Jeruſalem Conquiſtada. Richard the Second of England, and Alphonſo the Eighth of Caſtile, are the chief heroes of the poem; which contains twenty cantos, and cloſes with the unfortunate return of theſe confederate Kings, and the death of Saladin. It was firſt printed 1609, more than twenty years after the firſt appearance of Taſſo's Jeruſalem.—One of the moſt amiable peculiarities in the character of Lope de Vega, is the extreme liberality with which he commends the merit of his rivals. In his Laurel de Apolo, he celebrates all the eminent Spaniſh and Portugueze Poets; he ſpeaks both of Camoens and Ercilla with the warmeſt applauſe. Among the moſt pleaſing paſſages in this poem, is a compliment which he pays to his father, who was, like the father of Taſſo, a Poet of conſiderable talents.

Among the ſmaller pieces of Lope de Vega, there are two particularly curious: a deſcriptive poem on the garden of his patron the Duke of Alva; and a ſonnet in honour of the Invincible Armada. The latter may be conſidered as a complete model of Spaniſh bombaſt: ‘"Go forth and burn the world,"’ ſays the Poet, addreſſing himſelf to that [Page 82] mighty fleet; ‘"my ſighs will furniſh your ſails with a never-failing wind; and my breaſt will ſupply your cannon with inexhauſtible fire."’—Perhaps this may be equalled by a Spaniſh character of our Poet, with which I ſhall cloſe my imperfect account of him. It is his friend and biographer Montalvan, who, in the opening of his life, beſtows on him the following titles: El Doctor Frey Lope Felix de Vega Carpio, Portento del Orbe, Gloria de la Nacion, Luſtre de la Patria, Oracula de la Lengua, Centro de la Fama, Aſſumpio de la Invidia, Cuydado de la Fortuna, Fenix de los Siglos, Principe de los Verſos, Orfeo de las Ciencias, Apolo de las Muſas, Horacio de los Poetas, Virgilio de los Epicos, Homero de los Heroycos, Pindaro de los Lyricos, Sofocles de los Tragicos, y Terencio de los Comicos, Unico entre los Mayores, Mayor entre los Grandes, y Grande a todas Luzes, y en todas Materias. NOTE X. VERSE 239.
The brave Ercilla ſounds, with potent breath,
His Epic trumpet in the fields of death.]

Don Alonzo de Ercilla y Zuniga was equally diſtinguiſhed as a Hero and a Poet; but this exalted character, notwithſtanding his double claim to our [Page 83] regard, is almoſt totally unknown in our country; and I ſhall therefore endeavour to give the Engliſh reader the beſt idea that I can, both of his gallant life, and of his ſingular poem.—He was born in Madrid, on the 7th of Auguſt 1533, the third ſon of Fortun Garcia de Ercilla, who, tho' deſcended from a noble family, purſued the profeſſion of the law, and was ſo remarkable for his talents, that he acquired the appellation of ‘"The ſubtle Spaniard."’ The mother of our Poet was alſo noble, and from her he inherited his ſecond title, Zuniga: Ercilla was the name of an ancient caſtle in Biſcay, which had been long in the poſſeſſion of his paternal anceſtors. He loſt his father while he was yet an infant; a circumſtance which had great influence on his future life: for his mother was received, after the deceaſe of her huſband, into the houſehold of the Empreſs Iſabella, the wife of Charles the Vth, and had thus an early opportunity of introducing our young Alonzo into the palace. He ſoon obtained an appointment there, in the character of page to the Infant Don Philip, to whoſe ſervice he devoted himſelf with the moſt heroic enthuſiaſm, though Philip was a maſter who little deſerved ſo generous an attachment. At the age of fourteen, he attended that Prince in the ſplendid progreſs which he made, at the deſire of his Imperial father, [Page 84] through the principal cities of the Netherlands, and through parts of Italy and Germany. This ſingular expedition is very circumſtantially recorded in a folio volume, by a Spaniſh hiſtorian named Juan Chriſtoval Calvete de Eſtrella, whoſe work affords a very curious and ſtriking picture of the manners and ceremonies of that martial and romantic age. All the cities which were viſited by the Prince contended with each other in magnificent feſtivity: the brilliant ſeries of literary and warlike pageants which they exhibited, though they anſwered not their deſign of conciliating the affection of the ſullen Philip, might probably awaken the genius of our youthful Poet, and excite his ambition to acquire both poetical and military fame. In 1551, he returned with the Prince into Spain, and continued there for three years; at the end of which he attended his royal maſter to England, on his marriage with Queen Mary, which was celebrated at Wincheſter in the ſummer of 1554. At this period Ercilla firſt aſſumed the military character; for his ſovereign received advice, during his reſidence at London, that the martial natives of Arauco, a diſtrict on the coaſt of Chile, had revolted from the Spaniſh government; and diſpatched an experienced officer, named Alderete, who attended him in England, to ſubdue [Page 85] the inſurrection, inveſting him with the command of the rebellious province. Ercilla embarked with Alderete; but that officer dying in his paſſage, our Poet proceeded to Lima. Don Hurtado de Mendoza, who commanded there as Viceroy of Peru, appointed his ſon Don Garcia to ſupply the place of Alderete, and ſent him with a conſiderable force to oppoſe the Araucanians. Ercilla was engaged in this enterprize, and greatly diſtinguiſhed himſelf in the obſtinate conteſt which enſued. The noble character of the Barbarians who maintained this unequal ſtruggle, and the many ſplendid feats of valour which this ſcene afforded, led our author to the ſingular deſign of making the war, in which he was himſelf engaged, the ſubject of an Heroic poem; which he intitled "La Araucana," from the name of the country. As many of his own particular adventures may be found in the following ſummary of his work, I ſhall not here enlarge on his military exploits; but proceed to one of the moſt mortifying events of his life, which he briefly mentions in the concluſion of his poem. After paſſing with great honour through many and various perils, he was on the point of ſuffering a diſgraceful death, from the raſh orders of his young and inconſiderate Commander. On his return, from an expedition of adventure and diſcovery, to [Page 86] the Spaniſh city of Imperial, he was preſent at a ſcene of public feſtivity diſplayed there, to celebrate the acceſſion of Philip the IId to the crown of Spain. At a kind of tournament, there aroſe an idle diſpute between Ercilla and Don Juan de Pineda, in the heat of which the two diſputants drew their ſwords; many of the ſpectators joined in the broil; and a report ariſing that the quarrel was a mere pretence, to conceal ſome mutinous deſign, the haſty Don Garcia, their General, committed the two antagoniſts to priſon, and ſentenced them both to be publicly beheaded. Ercilla himſelf declares, he was conducted to the ſcaffold before his precipitate judge diſcovered the iniquity of the ſentence; but his innocence appeared juſt time enough to ſave him; and he ſeems to have been fully reinſtated in the good opinion of Don Garcia, as, among the complimentary ſonnets addreſſed to Ercilla, there is one which bears the name of his General, in which he ſtyles him the Divine Alonzo, and celebrates both his military and poetical genius. But Ercilla ſeems to have been deeply wounded by this affront; for, quitting Chile, he went to Callao, the port of Lima, and there embarked on an expedition againſt a Spaniſh rebel, named Lope de Aguirre, who, having murdered his captain, and uſurped the chief power, was perpetrating the moſt [Page 87] cruel enormities in the ſettlement of Venezuela. But Ercilla learned, on his arrival at Panama, that this barbarous uſurper was deſtroyed; he therefore reſolved, as his health was much impaired by the hardſhips he had paſſed, to return to Spain. He arrived there in the twenty-ninth year of his age; but ſoon left it, and travelled, as he himſelf informs us, through France, Italy, Germany, Sileſia, Moravia, and Pannonia; but the particulars of this expedition are unknown. In the year 1570 he appeared again at Madrid, and was married to Maria Bazan, a lady whom he contrives to celebrate in the courſe of his military poem. He is ſaid to have been afterwards gentleman of the bed-chamber to the Emperor Rodolph the IId, a prince who had been educated at Madrid: but the connection of our Poet with this Monarch is very indiſtinctly recorded; and indeed all the latter part of his life is little known. In the year 1580 he reſided at Madrid, in a ſtate of retirement and poverty. The time and circumſtances of his death are uncertain: it is proved that he was living in the year 1596, by the evidence of a Spaniſh writer named Moſquera, who, in a treatiſe of military diſcipline, ſpeaks of Ercilla as engaged at that time in celebrating the victories of Don Alvaro Bazan, Marques de Santa Cruz, in a poem which has never appeared, and is [Page 88] ſuppoſed to have been left imperfect at his death. Some anecdotes related of our Poet afford us ground to hope that his various merits were not entirely unrewarded. It is ſaid, that in ſpeaking to his ſovereign Philip, he was ſo overwhelmed by diffidence that language failed him: ‘"Don Alonzo!"’ replied the King, ‘"ſpeak to me in writing."’ He did ſo, and obtained his requeſt.—The Spaniſh Hiſtorian Ovalle, who has written an account of Chile, in which he frequently ſupports his narration by the authority of Ercilla, affirms that our Poet preſented his work to Philip with his own hand, and received a recompence from the King. But in this circumſtance I fear the Hiſtorian was miſtaken, as he ſuppoſes it to have happened on the return of Ercilla from Chile; and our Poet, in a diſtinct portion of his work, which was not publiſhed till many years after that period, expreſsly declares, in addreſſing himſelf to Philip, that all his attempts to ſerve him had been utterly unrequited. Ercilla left no legitimate family; but had ſome natural children, the moſt eminent of which was a daughter, who was advantageouſly married to a nobleman of Portugal.

In that elegant collection of Spaniſh Poets, "Parnaſo Eſpanol," there is a pleaſing little amorous poem, written by Ercilla in his youth, [Page 89] which is peculiarly commended by Lope de Vega; who has beſtowed a very generous encomium on our Poet, in his "Laurel de Apolo." But the great and ſingular work which has juſtly rendered Ercilla immortal, is his Poem intitled Araucana, which was publiſhed in three ſeparate parts: the firſt appeared in 1577; he added the ſecond in the ſucceeding year; and in 1590 he printed a complete edition of the whole. It was applauded by the moſt eminent writers of Spain; and Cervantes, in ſpeaking of Don Quixote's Library, has ranked it among the choiceſt treaſures of the Caſtilian Muſe. Voltaire, who ſpeaks of Ercilla with his uſual ſpirit and inaccuracy, has the merit of having made our Poet more generally known, though his own acquaintance with him appears to have been extremely ſlight; for he affirms that Ercilla was in the battle of Saint Quintin: a miſtake into which he never could have fallen, had he read the Araucana. Indeed the undiſtinguiſhing cenſure which he paſſes on the poem in general, after commending one particular paſſage, ſufficiently proves him a perfect ſtranger to many ſubſequent parts of the work; yet his remark on the inequality of the Poet is juſt. Ercilla is certainly unequal; but, with all his defects, he appears to me one of the moſt extraordinary [Page 90] and engaging characters in the poetical world. Perhaps I am a little partial to him, from the accidental circumſtance of having firſt read his poem with a departed friend, whoſe opinions are very dear to me, and who was particularly fond of this military Bard. However this may be, my idea of Ercilla's merit has led me to hazard the following extenſive ſketch of his work:—it has ſwelled to a much larger ſize than I at firſt intended; for I was continually tempted to extend it, by the deſire of not injuring the peculiar excellencies of this wonderful Poet. If I have not utterly failed in that deſire, the Engliſh reader will be enabled to judge and to enjoy an author, who, conſidering his ſubject and its execution, may be ſaid to ſtand ſingle and unparalleled in the hoſt of Poets. His beauties and his defects are of ſo obvious a nature, that I ſhall not enlarge upon them; but let it be remembered, that his poem was compoſed amidſt the toils and perils of the moſt fatiguing and hazardous ſervice, and that his verſes were ſometimes written on ſcraps of leather, from the want of better materials. His ſtyle is remarkably pure and perſpicuous; and, notwithſtanding the reſtraint of rhyme, it has frequently all the eaſe, the ſpirit, and the volubility of Homer. I wiſh not, however, [Page 91] to conceal his defects; and I have therefore given a very fair account of the ſtrange epiſode he introduces concerning the hiſtory of Dido, which has juſtly fallen under the ridicule of Voltaire. I muſt however obſerve, as an apology for Ercilla, that many Bards of his country have conſidered it as a point of honour to defend the reputation of this injured lady, and to attack Virgil with a kind of poetical Quixotiſm for having ſlandered the chaſtity of ſo ſpotleſs a heroine. If my memory does not deceive me, both Lope de Vega and Quevedo have employed their pens as the champions of Dido. We may indeed very readily join the laugh of the lively Frenchman againſt our Poet on this occaſion; but let us recollect that Ercilla has infinitely more Homeric ſpirit, and that his poem contains more genuine Epic beauties, than can be found in Voltaire.

Ercilla has been honoured with many poetical encomiums by the writers of his own country; and, as I believe the moſt elegant compliment which has been paid to his genius is the production of a Spaniſh lady, I ſhall cloſe this account of him with a tranſlation of the Sonnet, in which ſhe celebrates both the Hero and the Poet.

[Page 92]
Mil bronces para eſtatuas ya forxados,
Mil lauros de tus obras premio honroſo
Te ofrece Eſpan̄a, Ercilla generoſo,
Por tu pluma y tu lanza tan ganados.
Houreſe tu valor entre ſoldados,
Invidie tu nobleza el valeroſo,
Y buſque en tí el poeta mas famoſo
Lima para ſus verſos mas limados.
Derrame por el mundo tus loores
La fama, y eternice tu memoria,
Porque jamás el tiempo la conſuma.
Gocen ya, ſin temor de que hay mayores
Tus hechos, y tus libros de igual gloria,
Pues la han ganado igual la eſpada y pluma.
[Page 93]
Marble, that forms the Hero's mimic frame,
And laurels, that reward the Poet's ſtrain,
Accept, Ercilla, from thy grateful Spain!
Thy ſword and pen alike this tribute claim.
Our Warriors honour thy heroic name;
Thy birth is envy'd by Ambition's train;
Thy verſes teach the Bard of happieſt vein
A finer poliſh, and a nobler aim.
May glory round the world thy merit ſpread!
In Memory's volume may thy praiſes ſtand,
In characters that time ſhall ne'er deſtroy!
Thy ſongs, and thy exploits, without the dread!
To be ſurpaſs'd by a ſuperior hand,
With equal right their equal fame enjoy! A SKETCH OF THE ARAUCANA.
[Page 94]

THE Poem of Ercilla opens with the following expoſition of his ſubject:

I Sing not love of ladies, nor of ſights
Devis'd for gentle dames by courteous knights;
Nor feaſts, nor tourneys, nor that tender care
Which prompts the Gallant to regale the Fair;
But the bold deeds of Valour's fav'rite train,
Thoſe undegenerate ſons of warlike Spain,
Who made Arauco their ſtern laws embrace,
And bent beneath their yoke her untam'd race.
Of tribes diſtinguiſh'd in the field I ſing;
Of nations who diſdain the name of King;
Courage, that danger only taught to grow,
And challenge honour from a generous foe;
And perſevering toils of pureſt fame,
And feats that aggrandize the Spaniſh name:
For the brave actions of the vanquiſh'd ſpread
The brighteſt glory round the victor's head.

He then addreſſes his work to his ſovereign, Philip the Second, and devotes his firſt Canto to the deſcription of that part of the New World which forms the ſcene of his action, and is called Arauco; [Page 95] a diſtrict in the province of Chile. He paints the ſingular character and various cuſtoms of its warlike inhabitants with great clearneſs and ſpirit. In many points they bear a ſtriking reſemblance to the ancient Germans, as they are drawn with a kind of poetical energy by the ſtrong pencil of Tacitus. The firſt Canto cloſes with a brief account how this martial province was ſubdued by a Spaniſh officer named Valdivia; with an intimation that his negligence in his new dominion gave birth to thoſe important exploits which the Poet propoſes to celebrate. CANTO II.

ERCILLA begins his Cantos much in the manner of Arioſto, with a moral reflection; ſometimes rather too much dilated, but generally expreſſed in eaſy, elegant, and ſpirited verſe.—The following lines faintly imitate the two firſt ſtanzas of his ſecond Canto:

Many there are who, in this mortal ſtrife,
Have reach'd the ſlippery heights of ſplendid life:
For Fortune's ready hand its ſuccour lent;
Smiling ſhe rais'd them up the ſteep aſcent,
[Page 96] To hurl them headlong from that lofty ſeat
To which ſhe led their unſuſpecting feet;
E'en at the moment when all fears diſperſe,
And their proud fancy ſees no ſad reverſe.
Little they think, beguil'd by fair ſuceſs,
That Joy is but the herald of Diſtreſs:
The haſty wing of Time eſcapes their ſight,
And thoſe dark evils that attend his flight:
Vainly they dream, with gay preſumption warm,
Fortune for them will take a ſteadier form;
She, unconcern'd at what her victims feel,
Turns with her wonted haſte her fatal wheel.

After blaming his countrymen for abuſing their good fortune, the Poet celebrates, in the following ſpirited manner, the eagerneſs and indignation with which the Indians prepared to wreak their vengeance on their Spaniſh oppreſſors:

The Indians firſt, by novelty diſmay'd,
As Gods rever'd us, and as Gods obey'd;
But when they found we were of woman born,
Their homage turn'd to enmity and ſcorn:
Their childiſh error when our weakneſs ſhow'd,
They bluſh'd at what their ignorance beſtow'd;
Fiercely they burnt with anger and with ſhame,
To ſee their maſters but of mortal frame.
[Page 97] Diſdaining cold and cowardly delay,
They ſeek atonement, on no diſtant day:
Prompt and reſolv'd, in quick debate they join,
To form of deep revenge their dire deſign.
Impatient that their bold decree ſhould ſpread,
And ſhake the world around with ſudden dread,
Th' aſſembling Chieftains led ſo large a train,
Their ready hoſt o'erſpread th' extenſive plain.
No ſummons now the ſoldier's heart requires;
The thirſt of battle every breaſt inſpires;
No pay, no promiſe of reward, they aſk,
Keen to accompliſh their ſpontaneous taſk;
And, by the force of one avenging blow,
Cruſh and annihilate their foreign foe.
Of ſome brave Chiefs, who to this council came,
Well may'ſt thou, Memory, preſerve the name;
Tho' rude and ſavage, yet of noble ſoul,
Juſtly they claim their place on Glory's roll,
Who robbing Spain of many a gallant ſon,
In ſo confin'd a ſpace ſuch victories won;
Whoſe fame ſome living Spaniards yet may ſpread,
Too well atteſted by our warlike dead.

The Poet proceeds to mention, in the manner of Homer, but in a much ſhorter catalogue, the principal chieftains, and the number of their reſpective vaſſals.

[Page 98] Uncouthly as their names muſt ſound to an Engliſh ear, it ſeems neceſſary to run through the liſt, as theſe free and noble-minded ſavages act ſo diſtinguiſhed a part in the courſe of the poem.—Tucapel ſtands firſt; renowned for the moſt inveterate enmity to the Chriſtians, and leader of three thouſand vaſſals: Angol, a valiant youth, attended by four thouſand: Cayocupil, with three; and Millarapue, an elder chief, with five thouſand: Paycabi, with three thouſand; and Lemolemo, with ſix: Maregnano, Gualèmo, and Lebopia, with three thouſand each: Elicura, diſtinguiſhed by ſtrength of body and deteſtation of ſervitude, with ſix thouſand; and the ancient Colocolo with a ſuperior number: Ongolmo, with four thouſand; and Puren, with ſix: the fierce and gigantic Lincoya with a ſtill larger train. Peteguelen, lord of the valley of Arauco, prevented from perſonal attendance by the Chriſtians, diſpatches ſix thouſand of his retainers to the aſſembly: the moſt diſtinguiſhed of his party are Thomè and Andalican. The Lord of the maritime province of Pilmayquen, the bold Caupolican, is alſo unable to appear at the opening of the council. Many other Chieftains attended, whoſe names the Poet ſuppreſſes, leſt his prolixity ſhould offend. As they begin their buſineſs in the ſtyle of the ancient [Page 99] Germans, with a plentiful banquet, they ſoon grow exaſperated with liquor, and a violent quarrel enſues concerning the command of the forces for the projected war: an honour which almoſt every chieftain was arrogant enough to challenge for himſelf. In the midſt of this turbulent debate, the ancient Colocolo delivers the following harangue, which Voltaire prefers (and I think with great juſtice) to the ſpeech of Neſtor, on a ſimilar occaſion, in the firſt Iliad:

Aſſembled Chiefs! ye guardians of the land!
Think not I mourn from thirſt of loſt command,
To find your rival ſpirits thus purſue
A poſt of honour which I deem my due.
Theſe marks of age, you ſee, ſuch thoughts diſown
In me, departing for the world unknown;
But my warm love, which ye have long poſſeſt,
Now prompts that counſel which you'll find the beſt.
Why ſhould we now for marks of glory jar?
Why wiſh to ſpread our martial name afar?
Cruſh'd as we are by Fortune's cruel ſtroke,
And bent beneath an ignominious yoke,
Ill can our minds ſuch noble pride maintain,
While the fierce Spaniard holds our galling chain.
Your generous fury here ye vainly ſhew;
Ah! rather pour it on th' embattled foe!
[Page 100] What frenzy has your ſouls of ſenſe bereav'd?
Ye ruſh to ſelf-perdition, unperceiv'd.
'Gainſt your own vitals would ye lift thoſe hands,
Whoſe vigour ought to burſt oppreſſion's bands?
If a deſire of death this rage create,
O die not yet in this diſgraceful ſtate!
Turn your keen arms, and this indignant flame,
Againſt the breaſt of thoſe who ſink your fame,
Who made the world a witneſs of your ſhame.
Haſte ye to caſt theſe hated bonds away,
In this the vigour of your ſouls diſplay;
Nor blindly laviſh, from your country's veins,
Blood that may yet redeem her from her chains.
E'en while I thus lament, I ſtill admire
The fervor of your ſouls; they give me fire:
But juſtly trembling at their fatal bent,
I dread ſome dire calamitous event;
Leſt in your rage Diſſention's frantic hand
Should cut the ſinews of our native land.
If ſuch its doom, my thread of being burſt,
And let your old compeer expire the firſt!
Shall this ſhrunk frame, thus bow'd by age's weight,
Live the weak witneſs of a nation's fate?
No: let ſome friendly ſword, with kind relief,
Forbid its ſinking in that ſcene of grief.
Happy whoſe eyes in timely darkneſs cloſe,
Sav'd from that worſt of ſights, his country's woes!
[Page 101] Yet, while I can, I make your weal my care,
And for the public good my thoughts declare.
Equal ye are in courage and in worth;
Heaven has aſſign'd to all an equal birth:
In wealth, in power, and majeſty of ſoul,
Each Chief ſeems worthy of the world's controul.
Theſe gracious gifts, not gratefully beheld,
To this dire ſtrife your daring minds impell'd.
But on your generous valour I depend,
That all our country's woes will ſwiftly end.
A Leader ſtill our preſent ſtate demands,
To guide to vengeance our impatient bands;
Fit for this hardy taſk that Chief I deem,
Who longeſt may ſuſtain a maſſive beam:
Your rank is equal, let your force be try'd,
And for the ſtrongeſt let his ſtrength decide.

The Chieftains acquieſce in this propoſal; which, as Voltaire juſtly obſerves, is very natural in a nation of ſavages. The beam is produced, and of a ſize ſo enormous, that the Poet declares himſelf afraid to ſpecify its weight. The firſt Chieftains who engage in the trial ſupport it on their ſhoulders five and ſix hours each; Tucapel fourteen; and Lincoya more than double that number; when the aſſembly, conſidering his ſtrength as almoſt ſupernatural, is eager to beſtow on him [Page 102] the title of General: but in the moment he is exulting in this new honour, Caupolican arrives without attendants. His perſon and character are thus deſcribed by the Poet:

Tho' from his birth one darken'd eye he drew
(The viewleſs orb was of the granate's hue),
Nature, who partly robb'd him of his ſight,
Repaid this failure by redoubled might.
This noble youth was of the higheſt ſtate;
His actions honour'd, and his words of weight:
Prompt and reſolv'd in every generous cauſe,
A friend to Juſtice and her ſterneſt laws:
Faſhion'd for ſudden feats, or toils of length,
His limbs poſſeſs'd both ſuppleneſs and ſtrength:
Dauntleſs his mind, determin'd and adroit
In every quick and hazardous exploit.

This accompliſhed Chieftain is received with great joy by the aſſembly; and, having ſurpaſſed Lincoya by many degrees in the trial, is inveſted with the ſupreme command. He diſpatches a ſmall party to attack a neighbouring Spaniſh fort: they execute his orders, and make a vigorous aſſault. After a arp conflict they are repulſed; but in the moment of their retreat Caupolican arrives with his army to their ſupport. The Spaniards in deſpair [Page 103] evacuate the fort, and make their eſcape in the night: the news is brought to Valdivia, the Spaniſh Commander in the city of Concepcion;—and with his reſolution to puniſh the Barbarians the canto concludes. CANTO III.
O CURELESS malady! Oh fatal peſt!
Embrac'd with ardour and with pride careſt;
Thou common vice, thou moſt contagious ill,
Bane of the mind, and frenzy of the will!
Thou foe to private and to public health;
Thou dropſy of the ſoul, that thirſts for wealth,
Inſatiate Avarice!—'tis from thee we trace
The various miſery of our mortal race.

With this ſpirited and generous invective againſt that prevailing vice of his countrymen, which ſullied the luſtre of their moſt brilliant exploits, Ercilla opens his 3d canto. He does not ſcruple to aſſert, that the enmity of the Indians aroſe from the avaricious ſeverity of their Spaniſh oppreſſors; and he accuſes Valdivia on this head, though he gives him the praiſe of a brave and gallant officer.—This Spaniard, on the firſt intelligence of [Page 104] the Indian inſurrection, diſpatched his ſcouts from the city where he commanded. They do not return. Preſſed by the impatient gallantry of his troops, Valdivia marches out:—they ſoon diſcover the mangled heads of his meſſengers fixed up as a ſpectacle of terror on the road. Valdivia deliberates what meaſures to purſue. His army entreat him to continue his march. He conſents, being piqued by their inſinuations of his diſgracing the Spaniſh arms. An Indian ally brings him an account that twenty thouſand of the confederated Indians are waiting to deſtroy him in the valley of Tucapel. He ſtill preſſes forward; arrives in ſight of the fort which the Indians had deſtroyed, and engages them in a moſt obſtinate battle; in the deſcription of which, the Poet introduces an original and ſtriking ſimile, in the following manner:

The ſteady pikemen of the ſavage band,
Waiting our haſty charge, in order ſtand;
But when th' advancing Spaniard aim'd his ſtroke,
Their ranks, to form a hollow ſquare, they broke;
An eaſy paſſage to our troop they leave,
And deep within their lines their foes receive;
Their files reſuming then the ground they gave,
Bury the Chriſtians in that cloſing grave.
[Page 105]
As the keen Crocodile, who loves to lay
His ſilent ambuſh for his finny prey,
Hearing the ſcaly tribe with ſportive ſound
Advance, and caſt a muddy darkneſs round,
Opens his mighty mouth, with caution, wide,
And, when th' unwary fiſh within it glide,
Cloſing with eager haſte his hollow jaw,
Thus ſatiates with their lives his rav'nous maw:
So, in their toils, without one warning thought,
The murd'rous foe our little ſquadron caught
With quick deſtruction, in a fatal ſtrife,
From whence no Chriſtian ſoldier 'ſcap'd with life.

Such was the fate of the advanced guard of the Spaniards. The Poet then deſcribes the conflict of the main army with great ſpirit:—ten Spaniards diſtinguiſh themſelves by ſignal acts of courage, but are all cut in pieces. The battle proceeds thus:

The hoſtile ſword, now deeply dy'd in blood,
Drench'd the wide field with many a ſanguine flood;
Courage ſtill grows to form the fierce attack,
But waſted vigour makes the combat ſlack:
No pauſe they ſeek, to gain exhauſted breath,
No reſt, except the final reſt of death:
The warieſt combatants now only try
To ſnatch the ſweets of vengeance ere they die.
[Page 106]
The fierce diſdain of death, and ſcorn of flight,
Give to our ſcanty troop ſuch wond'rous might,
The Araucanian hoſt begin to yield;
They quit with loſs and ſhame the long-fought field:
They fly; and their purſuers ſhake the plain
With joyous ſhouts of Victory and Spain.
But dire miſchance, and Fate's reſiſtleſs ſway,
Gave a ſtrange iſſue to the dreadful day.
An Indian Youth, a noble Chieftain's ſon,
Who as our friend his martial feats begun,
Our Leader's Page, by him to battle train'd,
Who now beſide him the hard fight ſuſtain'd,
As he beheld his kindred Chiefs retire,
Felt an indignant flaſh of Patriot fire;
And thus incited to a glorious ſtand
The flying champions of his native land:
Miſguided Country! by vain fear poſſeſt,
Ah whither doſt thou turn thy timid breaſt?
Ye brave compatriots, ſhall your ancient fame
Be vilely buried in this field of ſhame?
Thoſe laws, thoſe rights, ye gloried to defend,
All periſh, all, by this ignoble end!
From Chiefs of dreaded power, and honour'd worth,
Ye ſink to abject ſlaves, the ſcorn of earth!
To the pure founders of your boaſted race
Ye give the cureleſs wound of deep diſgrace!
[Page 107] Behold the waſted vigor of your foe!
See, bath'd in ſweat and blood, their courſers blow!
Loſe not your mental force, your martial fires,
Our beſt inheritance from generous ſires;
Sink not the noble Araucanian name
From glory's ſummit to the depths of ſhame;
Fly, fly the ſervitude your ſouls deteſt!
To the keen ſword oppoſe the dauntleſs breaſt.
Why ſhew ye frames endued with manly power,
Yet ſhrink from danger in the trying hour?
Fix in your minds the friendly truth I ſpeak;
Vain are your fears, your terror blind and weak:
Now make your names immortal; now reſtore
Freedom's loſt bleſſings to your native ſhore:
Now turn, while Fame and Victory invite,
While proſp'rous Fortune calls you to the fight;
Or yet a moment ceaſe, O ceaſe to fly,
And for our country learn of me to die!
As thus he ſpeaks, his eager ſteps advance,
And 'gainſt the Spaniſh Chief he points his lance;
To lead his kindred fugitives from flight,
Singly he dares to tempt th' unequal fight:
Againſt our circling arms, that round him ſhine,
Eager he darts amidſt the thickeſt line,
Keen as, when chaf'd by ſummer's fiery beam,
The young Stag plunges in the cooling ſtream.

[Page 108] The Poet proceeds to relate the great agility and valour diſplayed by Lautaro, for ſuch is the name of this gallant and patriotic Youth: and, as Ercilla has a ſoul ſufficiently heroic to do full juſtice to the virtues of an enemy, he gives him the higheſt praiſe. Having mentioned on the occaſion many heroes of ancient hiſtory, he exclaims:

Say, of theſe famous Chiefs can one exceed
Or match this young Barbarian's noble deed?
Vict'ry for them, her purpoſe unexplor'd,
Tempted by equal chance their happy ſword:
What riſk, what peril, did they boldly meet,
Save where Ambition urg'd the ſplendid feat;
Or mightier Int'reſt fir'd the daring mind,
Which makes a Hero of the fearful Hind?
Many there are who with a brave diſdain
Face all the perils of the deathful plain,
Who, fir'd by hopes of glory, nobly dare,
Yet fail the ſtroke of adverſe chance to bear;
With animated fire their ſpirit ſhines,
Till the ſhort ſplendor of their day declines;
But all their valor, all their ſtrength expires,
When fickle Fortune from their ſide retires.
This youthful Hero, when the die was caſt,
War's dire decree againſt his country paſt,
[Page 109] Made the ſtern Power the finiſh'd cauſe reſume,
And finally reverſe the cruel doom:
He, by his efforts in the dread debate,
Forc'd the determin'd will of adverſe Fate;
From ſhouting Triumph ruſh'd the palm to tear,
And fix'd it on the brow of faint Deſpair.

Caupolican, leading his army back to the charge, in conſequence of Lautaro's efforts in their favour, obtains a complete victory. The Spaniards are all ſlain in the field, except their Commander Valdivia, who flies, attended only by a prieſt; but he is ſoon taken priſoner, and conducted before the Indian Chief, who is inclined to ſpare his life; when an elder ſavage, called Leocato, in a ſudden burſt of indignation, kills him with his club.

All the people of Arauco aſſemble in a great plain to celebrate their victory: old and young, women and children, unite in the feſtival; and the trees that ſurround the ſcene of their aſſembly are decorated with the heads and ſpoils of their ſlaughtered enemies.

They meditate the total extermination of the Spaniards from their country, and even a deſcent on Spain. The General makes a prudent ſpeech to reſtrain their impetuoſity; and afterwards, beſfowing [Page 110] juſt applauſe on the brave exploit of the young Lautaro, appoints him his lieutenant. In the midſt of the feſtivity, Caupolican receives advice that a party of fourteen Spaniſh horſemen had attacked ſome of his forces with great havoc. He diſpatches Lautaro to oppoſe them. CANTO IV.

APARTY of fourteen gallant Spaniards, who had ſet forth from the city of Imperial to join Valdivia, not being appriſed of his unhappy fate, are ſurpriſed by the enemy where they expected to meet their Commander;—they defend themſelves with great valor. They are informed by a friendly Indian of the fate of Valdivia. They attempt to retreat; but are ſurrounded by numbers of the Araucanians:—when the Poet introduces the following inſtance of Spaniſh heroiſm, which I inſert as a curious ſtroke of their military character:

Here, cried a Spaniard, far unlike his race,
Nor ſhall his abject name my verſe debaſe,
Marking his few aſſociates march along,
O that our band were but a hundred ſtrong!
[Page 111] The brave Gonſalo with diſdain replied:
Rather let two be ſever'd from our ſide,
Kind Heaven! that Memory may our feats proclaim,
And call our little troop The Twelve of Fame!

They continue to fight with great bravery againſt ſuperior numbers, when Lautaro arrives with a freſh army againſt them. Still undaunted, they only reſolve to ſell their lives as dear as poſſible. Seven of them are cut to pieces.—In the midſt of the ſlaughter a furious thunder and hail ſtorm ariſes, by which incident the ſurviving ſeven eſcape. The tempeſt is deſcribed with the following original ſimile:

Now in the turbid air a ſtormy cloud
Spreads its terrific ſhadow o'er the crowd;
The gathering darkneſs hides the ſolar ray,
And to th' affrighted earth denies the day;
The ruſhing winds, to which the foreſts yield,
Rive the tall tree, and deſolate the field:
In drops diſtinct and rare now falls the rain;
And now with thickening fury beats the plain.
As the bold maſter of the martial drum,
Ere to the ſhock th' advancing armies come,
In aweful notes, that ſhake the heaven's high arch,
Intrepid ſtrikes the ſlow and ſolemn march;
[Page 112] But, when the charging heroes yield their breath,
Doubles the horrid harmony of death:
So the dark tempeſt, with increaſing ſound,
Pours the loud deluge on the echoing ground.

The few Spaniards that eſcape take refuge in a neighbouring fort; which they abandon the following day on hearing the fate of Valdivia. Lautaro returns, and receives new honors and new forces from his General, to march againſt a Spaniſh army, which departs from the city of Penco under the command of Villagran, an experienced officer, to revenge the death of Valdivia. The departure of the troops from Penco is deſcribed, and the diſtreſs of the women.—Villagran marches with expedition towards the frontiers of Arauco. He arrives at a dangerous paſs, and finds Lautaro, with his army of 10,100 Indians, advantageouſly poſted on the heights, and waiting with great ſteadineſs and diſcipline to give him battle. CANTO V.

LAUTARO with great difficulty reſtrains the eager Indians in their poſt on the rock. He ſuffers a few to deſcend and ſkirmiſh on the lower ground, where ſeveral diſtinguiſh themſelves in [Page 113] ſingle combat. The Spaniards attempt in vain to diſlodge the army of Lautaro by an attack of their cavalry:—they afterwards fire on them from ſix pieces of cannon.

The vext air feels the thunder of the fight,
And ſmoke and flame involve the mountain's height;
Earth ſeems to open as the flames aſpire,
And new volcano's ſpout deſtructive fire.
Lautaro ſaw no hopes of life allow'd,
Save by diſperſing this terrific cloud,
That pours its lightning with ſo dire a ſhock,
Smiting his leſſen'd hoſt, who ſtrew the rock;
And to the troop of Leucoton the brave
His quick command the ſkilful Leader gave:
He bids them fiercely to the charge deſcend,
And thus exhorts aloud each ardent friend:
My faithful partners in bright victory's meed,
Whom fortune ſummons to this noble deed,
Behold the hour when your prevailing might
Shall prove that Juſtice guards us in the fight!
Now firmly fix your lances in the reſt,
And ruſh to honor o'er each hoſtile breaſt;
Through every bar your bloody paſſage force,
Nor let a brother's fall impede your courſe;
Be yon dread inſtruments of death your aim;
Poſſeſt of theſe you gain eternal fame:
[Page 114] The camp ſhall follow your triumphant trace,
And own you leaders in the glorious chace.
While theſe bold words their ardent zeal exalt,
They ruſh impetuous to the raſh aſſault.

The Indians, undiſmayed by a dreadful ſlaughter, gain poſſeſſion of the cannon.—Villagran makes a ſhort but ſpirited harangue to his flying ſoldiers. He is unable to rally them: and, chuſing rather to die than to ſurvive ſo ignominious a defeat, ruſhes into the thickeſt of the enemy:—when the Poet, leaving his fate uncertain, concludes the canto. CANTO VI.
THE valiant mind is privileg'd to feel
Superior to each turn of Fortune's wheel:
Chance has no power its value to debaſe,
Or brand it with the mark of deep diſgrace:
So thought the noble Villagran, our Chief,
Who choſe that death ſhould end his preſent grief,
And ſmooth the horrid path, with thornso' erſpread,
Which Deſtiny condemn'd his feet to tread.

With the preceding encomium on the ſpirit of this unfortunate officer the Poet opens his 6th [Page 115] Canto. Thirteen of the moſt faithful ſoldiers of Villagran, perceiving their Leader fallen motionleſs under the fury of his enemies, make a deſperate effort to preſerve him.—Being placed again on his horſe by theſe generous deliverers, he recovers from the blow which had ſtunned him; and by ſingular exertion, with the aſſiſtance of his ſpirited little troop, effects his eſcape, and rejoins his main army; whom he endeavours in vain to lead back againſt the triumphant Araucanians. The purſuit becomes general, and the Poet deſcribes the horrid maſſacre committed by the Indians on all the unhappy fugitives that fell into their hands.—The Spaniards in their flight are ſtopt by a narrow paſs fortified and guarded by a party of Indians. Villagran forces the rude entrenchment in perſon, and conducts part of his army ſafe through the paſs; but many, attempting other roads over the mountainous country, are either loſt among the precipices of the rocks, or purſued and killed by the Indians. CANTO VII.

THE remains of the Spaniſh army, after infinite loſs and fatigue, at laſt reach the city of Concepcion.

[Page 116]
Their entrance in theſe walls let fancy paint,
O'erwhelm'd with anguiſh, and with labor faint:
Theſe gaſh'd with ghaſtly wounds, thoſe writh'd with pain,
And ſome their human ſemblance ſcarce retain;
They ſeem unhappy ſpirits 'ſcap'd from hell,
Yet wanting voice their miſery to tell.
Their pangs to all their rolling eyes expreſs,
And ſilence moſt declares their deep diſtreſs.
When wearineſs and ſhame at length allow'd
Their tongues to ſatisfy th' enquiring crowd,
From the pale citizens, amaz'd to hear
A tale ſurpaſſing e'en their wildeſt fear,
One general ſound of lamentation roſe,
That deeply ſolemniz'd a nation's woes;
The neighbouring manſions to their grief reply,
And every wall return'd the mournful cry.

The inhabitants of Concepcion, expecting every inſtant the triumphant Lautaro at their gates, reſolve to abandon their city. A gallant veteran upbraids their cowardly deſign. They diſregard his reproaches, and evacuate the place:—when the Poet introduces the following inſtance of female heroiſm:

'Tis juſt that Fame a noble deed diſplay,
Which claims remembrance, even to the day
[Page 117] When Memory's hand no more the pen ſhall uſe,
But ſink in darkneſs, and her being loſe:
The lovely Mencia, an accompliſh'd Dame,
A valiant ſpirit in a tender frame,
Here firmly ſhew'd, as this dread ſcene began,
Courage now found not in the heart of man.
The bed of ſickneſs 'twas her chance to preſs;
But when ſhe heard the city's loud diſtreſs,
Snatching ſuch weapons as the time allow'd,
She ruſh'd indignant midſt the flying crowd.
Now up the neighbouring hill they ſlowly wind,
And, bending oft their mournful eyes behind,
Caſt a ſad look, of every hope bereft,
On thoſe rich plains, the precious home they left.
More poignant grief ſee generous Mencia feel,
More noble proof ſhe gives of patriot zeal:
Waving a ſword in her heroic hand,
In their tame march ſhe ſtopt the timid band;
Croſs'd the aſcending road before their van,
And, turning to the city, thus began:
Thou valiant nation, whoſe unequall'd toils
Have dearly purchas'd fame and golden ſpoils,
Where is the courage ye ſo oft diſplay'd
Againſt this foe, from whom ye ſhrink diſmay'd?
Where thoſe high hopes, and that aſpiring flame,
Which made immortal praiſe your conſtant aim?
[Page 118] Where your firm ſouls, that every chance defied,
And native ſtrength, that form'd your noble pride?
Ah whither would you fly, in ſelfiſh fear,
In frantic haſte, with no purſuer near?
How oft has cenſure to your hearts aſſign'd
Ardor too keenly brave and raſhly blind;
Eager to dart amid the doubtful fray,
Scorning the uſeful aid of wiſe delay?
Have we not ſeen you with contempt oppoſe,
And bend beneath your yoke unnumber'd foes;
Attempt and execute deſigns ſo bold,
Ye grew immortal as ye heard them told?
Turn! to your people turn a pitying eye,
To whom your fears theſe happy ſeats deny!
Turn! and ſurvey this fair, this fertile land,
Whoſe ready tribute waits your lordly hand;
Survey its pregnant mines, its ſands of gold;
Survey the flock now wandering from its fold,
Mark how it vainly ſeeks, in wild deſpair,
The faithleſs ſhepherd, who forſakes his care.
E'en the dumb creatures, of domeſtic kind,
Though not endow'd with man's diſcerning mind,
Now ſhew the ſemblance of a reaſoming ſoul,
And in their maſters miſery condole:
The ſtronger animals, of ſterner heart,
Take in this public woe a feeling part;
[Page 119] Their plaintive roar, that ſpeaks their ſenſe aright,
Juſtly upbraids your ignominious flight.
Ye fly from quiet, opulence, and fame,
Purchas'd by valor, your acknowledg'd claim;
From theſe ye fly, to ſeek a foreign ſeat,
Where daſtard fugitives no welcome meet.
How deep the ſhame, an abject life to ſpend
In poor dependance on a pitying friend!
Turn! let the brave their only choice await,
Or honourable life, or inſtant fate.
Return! return! O quit this path of ſhame!
Stain not by fear your yet unſullied name;
Myſelf I offer, if our foes advance,
To ruſh the foremoſt on the hoſtile lance;
My actions then ſhall with my words agree,
And what a woman dares your eyes ſhall ſee.
Return! return! ſhe cried; but cried in vain;
Her fire ſeem'd frenzy to the coward train.

The daſtardly inhabitants of the city, unmoved by this remonſtrance of the noble Donna Mencia de Nidos, continue their precipitate flight, and, after twelve days of confuſion and fatigue, reach the city of Santiago, in the valley of Mapocho. Lautaro arrives in the mean time before the walls they had deſerted:—and the Poet concludes his canto with a ſpirited deſcription of the barbaric [Page 120] fury with which the Indians entered the abandoned city, and deſtroyed by fire the rich and magnificent manſions of their Spaniſh oppreſſors. CANTO VIII.

LAUTARO is recalled from his victorious exploits, to aſſiſt at a general aſſembly of the Indians, in the valley of Arauco. The different Chieftains deliver their various ſentiments concerning the war, after their Leader Caupolican has declared his deſign to purſue the Spaniards with unceaſing vengeance. The veteran Colocolo propoſes a plan for their military operations. An ancient Augur, named Puchecalco, denounces ruin on all the projects of his countrymen, in the name of the Indian Daemon Eponamon. He recites the omens of their deſtruction. The fierce Tucapel, provoked to frenzy by this gloomy prophet, ſtrikes him dead in the midſt of his harangue, by a ſudden blow of his mace. Caupolican orders the murderous Chieftain to be led to inſtant death. He defends himſelf with ſucceſs againſt numbers who attempt to ſeize him. Lautaro, pleaſed by this exertion of his wonderful force and valour, intreats the General to forgive what had paſſed; and, at [Page 121] his interceſſion, Tucapel is received into favour. Lautaro then cloſes the buſineſs of the aſſembly, by recommending the plan propoſed by Colocolo, and intreating that he may himſelf be entruſted with a detached party of five hundred Indians, with which he engages to reduce the city of Santiago. His propoſal is accepted. The Chieftains, having finiſhed their debate, declare their reſolutions to their people; and, after their uſual feſtivity, Caupolican, with the main army, proceeds to attack the city of Imperial. CANTO IX.

THE Poet opens this Canto with an apology for a miracle, which he thinks it neceſſary to relate, as it was atteſted by the whole Indian army; and, though it does not afford him any very uncommon or ſublime imagery, he embelliſhes the wonder he deſcribes, by his eaſy and ſpirited verſification, of which the following lines are an imperfect copy:

When to the city's weak defenceleſs wall
Its foes were ruſhing, at their trumpet's call,
The air grew troubled with portentous ſound,
And mournful omens multiplied around;
[Page 122] With furious ſhock the elements engage,
And all the winds contend in all their rage.
From claſhing clouds their mingled torrents guſh,
And rain and hail with rival fury ruſh.
Bolts of loud thunder, floods of lightning rend
The opening ſkies, and into earth deſcend.
O'er the vaſt army equal terrors ſpread;
No mind eſcapes the univerſal dread;
No breaſt, tho' arm'd with adamantine power,
Holds its firm vigor in this horrid hour;
For now the fierce Eponamon appears,
And in a Dragon's form augments their fears;
Involving flames around the Daemon ſwell,
Who ſpeaks his mandate in a hideous yell:
He bids his votaries with haſte inveſt
The trembling city, by deſpair depreſt.
Where'er th' invading ſquadrons force their way,
He promiſes their arms an eaſy prey.
Spare not (he cry'd) in the relentleſs ſtrife,
One Spaniſh battlement, one Chriſtian life!
He ſpoke, and, while the hoſt his will adore,
Melts into vapour, and is ſeen no more.
Quick as he vaniſh'd Nature's ſtruggles ceaſe;
The troubled elements are ſooth'd to peace:
The winds no longer rage with boundleſs ire,
But, huſh'd in ſilence, to their caves retire:
The clouds diſperſe, reſtoring as they fly
The unobſtructed ſun and azure ſky:
[Page 123] Fear only held its place, and ſtill poſſeſt
Uſurp'd dominion o'er the boldeſt breaſt.
The tempeſt ceas'd, and heaven, ferenely bright,
Array'd the moiſten'd earth in joyous light:
When, pois'd upon a cloud that ſwiftly flew,
A Female form deſcended to their view,
Clad in the radiance of ſo rich a veil,
As made the ſun's meridian luſtre pale;
For it outſhone his golden orb as far
As his full blaze outſhines the twinkling ſtar.
Her ſacred features baniſh all their dread,
And o'er the hoſt reviving comfort ſhed.
An hoary Elder by her ſide appear'd,
For age and ſanctity of life rever'd;
And thus ſhe ſpoke, with ſoft perſuaſive grace:
Ah! whither ruſh ye, blind devoted race?
Turn, while you can, towards your native plain,
Nor 'gainſt yon city point your arms in vain;
For God will guard his faithful Chriſtian band,
And give them empire o'er your bleeding land,
Since, thankleſs, falſe, and obſtinate in ill,
You ſcorn ſubmiſſion to his ſacred will.
Yet ſhun thoſe walls; th' Almighty, there ador'd,
There arms his people with Deſtruction's ſword.
So ſpoke the Viſion, with an angel's tongue,
And thro' the ſpacious air to heaven ſhe ſprung.

[Page 124] The Indians, confounded by this miraculous interpoſition, diſperſe in diſorder to their ſeveral homes; and the Poet proceeds very gravely to affirm, that, having obtained the beſt information, from many individuals, concerning this miracle, that he might be very exact in his account of it, he finds it happened on the twenty-third of April, four years before he wrote the verſes that deſcribe it, and in the year of our Lord 1554. The Viſion was followed by peſtilence and famine among the Indians. They remain inactive during the winter, but aſſemble again the enſuing ſpring, in the plains of Arauco, to renew the war. They receive intelligence that the Spainards are attempting to rebuild the city of Concepcion, and are requeſted by the neighbouring tribes to march to their aſſiſtance, and prevent that deſign. Lautaro leads a choſen band on that expedition, hoping to ſurprize the fort the Spaniards had erected on the ruins of their city; but the Spaniſh commander, Alvarado, being apprized of their motion, ſallies forth to meet the Indian party: a ſkirmiſh enſues; the Spaniards retire to their fort; Lautaro attempts to ſtorm it; a moſt bloody encounter enſues; Tucapel ſignalizes himſelf in the attack; the Indians perſevere with the moſt obſtinate valour, and, after a long conflict (deſcribed with a conſiderable [Page 125] portion of Homeric ſpirit) gain poſſeſſion of the fort; Alvarado and a few of his followers eſcape; they are purſued, and much galled in their flight: a ſingle Indian, named Rengo, harraſſes Alvarado and two of his attendants; the Spaniſh officer, provoked by the inſult, turns with his two companions to puniſh their purſuer; but the wily Indian ſecures himſelf on ſome rocky heights, and annoys them with his ſling, till, deſpairing of revenge, they continue their flight. CANTO X.

THE Indians celebrate their victory with public games; and prizes are appointed for ſuch as excel in their various martial exerciſes. Leucoton is declared victor in the conteſt of throwing the lance, and receives a ſcimitar as his reward. Rengo ſubdues his two rivals, Cayeguan and Talco, in the exerciſe of wreſtling, and proceeds to contend with Leucoton. After a long and ſevere ſtruggle, Rengo has the misfortune to fall by an accidental failure of the ground, but, ſpringing lightly up, engages his adverſary with increaſing fury; and the canto ends without deciding the conteſt. CANTO XI. [Page 126]

LAUTARO ſeparates the two enraged antagoniſts, to prevent the ill effects of their wrath. The youth Orompello, whom Leucoton had before ſurpaſſed in the conteſt of the lance, challenges his ſucceſsful rival to wreſtle: they engage, and fall together: the victory is diſputed. Tucapel demands the prize for his young friend Orompello, and inſults the General Caupolican. The latter is reſtrained from avenging the inſult, by the ſage advice of the veteran Colocolo, at whoſe requeſt he diſtributes prizes of equal value to each of the claimants. To prevent farther animoſities, they relinquiſh the reſt of the appointed games, and enter into debate on the war. Lautaro is again appointed to the command of a choſen troop, and marches towards the city of St. Jago. The Spaniards, alarmed at the report of his approach, ſend out ſome forces to reconnoitre his party: a ſkirmiſh enſues: they are driven back to the city, and relate that Lautaro is fortifying a ſtrong poſt at ſome diſtance, intending ſoon to attack the city. Villagran, the Spaniard who commanded there, being confined by illneſs, appoints an officer of his own name to ſally forth, with all the forces he can raiſe, in queſt of the [Page 127] enemy. The Spaniards fix their camp, on the approach of night, near the fort of Lautaro: they are ſuddenly alarmed, and ſummoned to arms; but the alarm is occaſioned only by a ſingle horſe without a rider, which Lautaro, aware of their approach, had turned looſe towards their camp, as an inſulting mode of proclaiming his late victory, in which he had taken ten of the Spaniſh horſes.

The Spaniards paſs the night under arms, reſolving to attack the Indians at break of day. Lautaro had iſſued orders that no Indian ſhould ſally from the fort under pain of death, to prevent the advantage which the Spaniſh cavalry muſt have over his ſmall forces in the open plain. He alſo commanded his ſoldiers to retreat with an appearance of diſmay, at the firſt attack on the fort, and ſuffer a conſiderable number of the enemy to enter the place. This ſtratagem ſucceeds: the Spaniards ruſh forward with great fury: the Indians give ground, but, ſoon turning with redoubled violence on thoſe who had paſſed their lines, deſtroy many, and oblige the reſt to ſave themſelves by a precipitate flight. The Indians, forgetting the orders of their Leader, in the ardour of vengeance ſally forth in purſuit of their flying enemy. Lautaro recalls them by the ſound of a military horn, which he blows with the utmoſt violence. They [Page 128] return, but dare not appear in the preſence of their offended Commander. He iſſues new reſtrictions; and then, ſummoning his ſoldiers together, addreſſes them, in a ſpirited, yet calm and affectionate harangue, on the neceſſity of martial obedience. While he is yet ſpeaking, the Spaniards return to the attack, but are again repulſed with great loſs. They retreat, and encamp at the foot of a mountain, unmoleſted by any purſuers. CANTO XII.

THE Spaniards remain in their camp, while two of their adventurous ſoldiers engage to return once more to the fort, and examine the ſtate of it. On their approach, one of them, called Marcos Vaez, is ſaluted by his name, and promiſed ſecurity, by a voice from within the walls. Lautaro had formerly lived with him on terms of friendſhip, and now invites him into the fort. The Indian Chief harangues on the reſolution and the power of his countrymen to exterminate the Spaniards, unleſs they ſubmit. He propoſes, however, terms of accommodation to his old friend Marcos, and ſpecifies the tribute he ſhould expect. The Spaniard anſwers with diſdain, that the only tribute the Indians would receive from his countrymen would be [Page 129] torture and death. Lautaro replies, with great temper, that arms, and the valor of the reſpective nations, muſt determine this point; and proceeds to entertain his gueſt with a diſplay of ſix Indians, whom he had mounted and trained to exerciſe on Spaniſh horſes. The Spaniard challenges the whole party: Lautaro will not allow him to engage in any conflict, but diſmiſſes him in peace. He recalls him, before he had proceeded far from the fort, and, telling him that his ſoldiers were much diſtreſſed by the want of proviſion, entreats him to ſend a ſupply, affirming it to be true heroiſm to relieve an enemy from the neceſſities of famine. The Spaniard ſubſcribes to the ſentiment, and engages, if poſſible, to comply with the requeſt. Returning to his camp, he acquaints his Commander Villagran with all that had paſſed; who, ſuſpecting ſome dangerous deſign from Lautaro, decamps haſtily in the night to regain the city. The Indian Chief is ſeverely mortified by their departure, as he had formed a project for cutting off their retreat, by letting large currents of water into the marſhy ground on which the Spaniards were encamped. Deſpairing of being able to ſucceed againſt their city, now prepared to reſiſt him, he returns towards Arauco, moſt ſorely galled by his diſappointment, and thus venting his anguiſh: [Page 130]

What can redeem Lautaro's wounded name?
What plea preſerve his failing arms from ſhame?
Did not my ardent ſoul this taſk demand,
Which now upbraids my unperforming hand?
On me, on me alone can cenſure fall;
Myſelf th' adviſer and the guide of all.
Am I the Chief who, in Fame's bright career,
Aſk'd to ſubdue the globe a ſingle year?
While, at the head of this my glittering train,
I weakly threaten Spaniſh walls in vain,
Thrice has pale Cynthia, with repleniſh'd ray,
Seen my ill-order'd troop in looſe array;
And the rich chariot of the blazing ſun
Has from the Scorpion to Aquarious run.
At laſt, as fugitives theſe paths we tread,
And mourn twice fifty brave companions dead.
Could Fate's kind hand this hateful ſtain efface,
Could death redeem me from this worſe diſgrace,
My uſeleſs ſpear ſhould pierce this abject heart,
Which has ſo ill ſuſtain'd a ſoldier's part.
Unworthy thought! the mean, ignoble blow
Would only tempt my proud and vaunting foe
To boaſt that I preferr'd, in fear's alarm,
My own weak weapon to his ſtronger arm.
By Hell I ſwear, who rules the ſanguine ſtrife,
If Chance allow me yet a year of life,
[Page 131] I'll chaſe theſe foreign lords from Chile's ſtrand,
And Spaniſh blood ſhall ſaturate our land.
No changing ſeaſon, neither cold nor heat,
Shall make the firmer ſtep of War retreat;
Nor ſhall the earth, nor hell's expanding cave,
From this avenging arm one Spaniard ſave.
Now the brave Chief, with ſolemn ardor, ſwore
To his dear native home to turn no more;
From no fierce ſun, no ſtormy winds to fly,
But patiently abide the varying ſky,
And ſpurn all thoughts of pleaſure and of eaſe,
Till reſcu'd fame his tortur'd ſoul appeaſe;
Till earth confeſs the brave Lautaro's hand
Has clos'd the glorious work his ſpirit plann'd.
In theſe reſolves the Hero found relief,
And thus relax'd the o'erſtrain'd cord of grief;
Whoſe preſſure gall'd him with ſuch mental pain,
That frenzy almoſt ſeiz'd his burning brain.

Lautaro continues his march into an Indian diſtrict, from which he collects a ſmall increaſe of force; and, after addreſſing his ſoldiers concerning the expediency of ſtrict military diſcipline, and the cauſe of their late ill ſucceſs, he turns again towards the city of St. Jago; but, receiving intelligence on his road of its preparations for defence, he again ſuſpends his deſign, and fortifies a poſt, which he [Page 132] chuſes with the hope of collecting ſtill greater numbers to aſſiſt him in his projected enterprize. The Spaniards at St. Jago are eager to ſally in queſt of Lautaro, but their Commander Villagran was abſent on an expedition to the city of Imperial. In returning from thence he paſſes near the poſt of Lautaro. An Indian ally acquaints him with its ſituation, and, at the earneſt requeſt of the Spaniſh officer, agrees to conduct him, by a ſhort though difficult road, over a mountain, to attack the fort by ſurprize. The Poet ſuſpends his narration of this intereſting event, to relate the arrival of new forces from Spain in America; and he now begins to appear himſelf on the field of action. ‘"Hitherto,"’ ſays he, ‘"I have deſcribed the ſcenes in which I was not preſent; yet I have collected my information from no partial witneſſes, and I have recorded only thoſe events in which both parties agree. Since it is known that I have ſhed ſo much blood in ſupport of what I affirm, my future narration will be more authentic; for I now ſpeak as an ocular witneſs of every action, unblinded by partiality, which I diſdain, and reſolved to rob no one of the praiſe which he deſerves."’

After pleading his youth as an apology for the defects of his ſtyle, and after declaring that his only motive for writing was the ardent deſire to preſerve [Page 133] ſo many valiant actions from periſhing in oblivion, the Poet proceeds to relate the arrival of the Marquis de Canete as Viceroy in Peru, and the ſpirited manner in which he corrected the abuſes of that country. The canto concludes with reflections on the advantages of loyalty, and the miſeries of rebellion. CANTO XIII.

SPANISH deputies from the province of Chile implore aſſiſtance from the new Viceroy of Peru: he ſends them a conſiderable ſuccour, under the conduct of Don Garcia, his ſon. The Poet is himſelf of this band, and relates the ſplendid preparations for the enterprize, and the embarkation of the troops in ten veſſels, which ſail from Lima towards the coaſt of Chile. Having deſcribed part of this voyage, he returns to the bold exploit of Villagran, and the adventures of Lautaro, the moſt intereſting of all the Araucanian Heroes, whom he left ſecuring himſelf in his ſequeſtered fort.

A path where watchful centinels were ſpread,
A ſingle path, to this lone ſtation led:
No other ſigns of human ſtep were trac'd;
For the vex'd land was deſolate and waſte.
[Page 134] It chanc'd that night the noble Chieftain preſt
His anxious miſtreſs to his gallant breaſt,
The fair Guacolda, for whoſe charms he burn'd,
And whoſe warm heart his faithful love return'd.
That night beheld the warlike ſavage reſt,
Free from th' incumbrance of his martial veſt;
That night alone allow'd his eyes to cloſe
In the deceitful calm of ſhort repoſe:
Sleep preſt upon him like the weight of death;
But ſoon he ſtarts, alarm'd, and gaſps for breath,
The fair Guacolda, with a trembling tongue,
Anxious enquires from whence his anguiſh ſprung.
My lovely Fair! the brave Lautaro cries,
An hideous viſion ſtruck my ſcornful eyes:
Methought that inſtant a fierce Chief of Spain
Mock'd my vain ſpear with inſolent diſdain;
His forceful arm my failing powers o'ercame,
And ſtrength and motion ſeem'd to quit my frame.
But ſtill the vigor of my ſoul I keep,
And its keen anger burſt the bonds of ſleep.
With quick deſpir, the troubled Fair one ſaid,
Alas! thy dreams confirm the ills I dread.
'Tis come—the object of my boding fears!
Thy end, the ſource of my unceaſing tears.
Yet not ſo wretched is this mournful hour,
Nor o'er me, Fortune, canſt thou boaſt ſuch pow'r,
[Page 135] But that kind death may ſhorten all my woes,
And give the agonizing ſcene to cloſe.
Let my ſtern fate its cruel rage employ,
And hurl me from the throne of love and joy;
Whatever pangs its malice may deviſe,
It cannot rend affection's ſtronger ties.
Tho' horrible the blow my fears foreſee,
A ſecond blow will ſet my ſpirit free;
For cold on earth thy frame ſhall ne'er be found,
While mine with uſeleſs being loads the ground.
The Chief, tranſported with her tender charms,
Cloſely around her neck entwin'd his arms;
And, while fond tears her ſnowy breaſt bedew'd,
Thus with redoubled love his ſpeech purſu'd:
My generous Fair, thy gloomy thoughts diſmiſs;
Nor let dark omens interrupt our bliſs,
And cloud theſe moments that with tranſport ſhine,
While my exulting heart thus feels thee mine.
Thy troubled fancy prompts my mutual ſigh;
Not that I think the hour of danger nigh:
But Love ſo melts me with his ſoft controul,
Impoſſibilities alarm my ſoul.
If thy kind wiſhes bid Lautaro live,
Who to this frame the wound of death can give?
Tho' 'gainſt me all the powers of earth combine,
My life is ſubject to no hand but thine.
[Page 136] Who has reſtor'd the Araucanian name,
And rais'd it, ſinking in the depths of ſhame,
When alien lords our nation's ſpirit broke,
And bent its neck beneath a ſervile yoke?
I am the Chief who burſt our galling chain,
And freed my country from oppreſſive Spain;
My name alone, without my ſword's diſplay,
Humbles our foes, and fills them with diſmay.
Theſe happy arms while thy dear beauties fill,
I feel no terror, I foreſee no ill.
Be not by falſe and empty dreams depreſt,
Since truth has nothing to afflict thy breaſt.
Oft have I 'ſcap'd, inur'd to every ſtate,
From many a darker precipice of fate;
Oft in far mightier perils riſk'd my life,
And iſſued glorious from the doubtful ſtrife.
With leſs'ning confidence, and deeper grief,
Trembling ſhe hung upon the ſoothing Chief,
His lip with ſupplicating ſoftneſs preſt,
And urg'd with many a tear this fond requeſt:
If the pure love, which, prodigal and free,
When freedom moſt was mine, I gave to thee;
If truth, which Heaven will witneſs and defend,
Weigh with my ſovereign lord and gentle friend;
By theſe let me adjure thee; by the pain
Which at our parting pierc'd my every vein,
[Page 137] And all the vows, if undiſpers'd in air,
Which then with many a tear I heard thee ſwear;
To this my only wiſh at leaſt agree,
If all thy wiſhes have been laws to me:
Haſte, I entreat thee, arm thyſelf with care,
And bid thy ſoldiers for defence prepare.
The brave Barbarian quick reply'd—'Tis clear
How low my powers are rated by thy fear.
Canſt thou ſo poorly of Lautaro deem?
And is this arm ſo ſunk in thy eſteem?
This arm, which, reſcuing thy native earth,
So prodigally prov'd its valiant worth!
In my try'd courage how complete thy truſt,
Whoſe terror weeps thy living lord as duſt!
In thee, ſhe cries, with confidence moſt pure,
My ſoul is ſatisfy'd, yet not ſecure.
What will thy arm avail in danger's courſe,
If my malignant fate has mightier force?
But let the mis'ry I forebode ariſe;
On this firm thought my conſtant love relies:
The ſword whoſe ſtroke our union may disjoin,
Will teach my faithful ſoul to follow thine.
Since my hard deſtiny, with rage ſevere,
Thus threatens me with all that love can fear;
Since I am doom'd the worſt of ills to ſee,
And loſe all earthly good in loſing thee;
[Page 138] O! ſuffer me to paſs, ere death appears,
The little remnant of my life in tears!
The heart that ſinks not in diſtreſs like this,
Could never feel, could never merit bliſs.
Here from her eyes ſuch floods of ſorrow flow,
Compaſſion weeps in gazing on her woe!
The fond Lautaro, tho' of firmeſt power,
Sheds, as ſhe ſpeaks, a ſympathetic ſhower.
But, to the tender ſcenes of love unus'd,
My artleſs pen, embarraſs'd and confus'd,
From its ſad taſk with diffidence withdraws,
And in its labour aſks a little pauſe. CANTO XIV.
WHat erring wretch, to Truth and Beauty blind,
Shall dare to ſatirize the Female Kind,
Since pure affection prompts their anxious care,
Their lovely weakneſs, and their fond deſpair?
This fair Barbarian, free from Chriſtian ties,
A noble proof of perfect love ſupplies,
By kindeſt words, and floods of tears that roll
From the clear ſource of her impaſſion'd ſoul.
The cheering ardor of the dauntleſs Chief
Fails to afford her troubled mind relief;
Nor can the ample trench and guarded wall
Preſerve her doubtful heart from fear's enthrall:
[Page 139] Her terrors, ruſhing with love's mighty force,
Level whatever would impede their courſe.
She finds no ſhelter from her cruel doom,
Save the dear refuge of Lautaro's tomb.
Thus their two hearts, where equal paſſion reign'd,
A fond debate with tender ſtrife maintain'd;
Their differing words alike their love diſplay,
Feed the ſweet poiſon, and augment its ſway.
The ſleepy ſoldiers now their ſtories cloſe,
And ſtretch'd around their ſinking fires repoſe.
The path in front with centinels was lin'd,
And the high mountain was their guard behind;
But o'er that mountain, with advent'rous tread,
Bold Villagran his ſilent forces led.
His haſty march with painful toil he made;
Toil is the price that muſt for fame be paid.
Now near the fort, and halting in its ſight,
He waits the coming aid of clearer light.
The ſtars yet ſhining, but their fires decay,
And now the reddening Eaſt proclaims the day.
Th' advancing troop no Indian eye alarms,
For friendly darkneſs hover'd o'er their arms;
And on the quarter where the mountain roſe,
The careleſs guard deſpis'd the thought of foes.
No panting horſe their ſtill approach betray'd;
Propitious Fortune lent the Spaniards aid;
[Page 140] Fortune, who oft bids drowſy Sloth beware,
And lulls to ſleep the watchful eye of Care.
When Night's obſcure dominion firſt declines,
And glimmering light the duſky air refines,
The weary guards, who round the wall were plac'd,
Hail the new day, and from their ſtation haſte;
Secure of ill, no longer watch they keep,
Quick to forget their nightly toils in ſleep:
Thro' all the fort there reign'd a calm profound;
In wine and ſlumber all its force was drown'd.
The Spaniſh Chief, who ſaw the fav'ring hour,
Led on by ſlow degrees his ſilent power.
No Indian eyes perceiv'd his near advance;
Fate ſeem'd to bind them in a cruel trance;
Each in ſound ſlumber draws his eaſy breath,
Nor feels his ſlumber will be clos'd by Death.
So blind are mortals to that tyrant's ſway,
They deem him diſtant, while they ſink his prey.
Our eager ſoldiers now no longer halt,
While kind occaſion prompts the keen aſſault;
A ſhout they raiſe, terrific, loud, and long,
Swell'd by the voice of all the ardent throng;
Whoſe ranks, obedient to their Leader's call,
Ruſh with light ardor o'er th' unguarded wall,
And gain the fort, where Sleep's oppreſſive weight
Expos'd his wretched victims, blind to fate.
[Page 141]
As villains, conſcious of their life impure,
Find in their guilty courſe no ſpot ſecure;
For vice is ever doom'd new fears to feel,
And tremble at each turn of Fortune's wheel;
At every noiſe, at each alarm that ſtirs,
Death's penal horror to their mind occurs;
Quick to their arms they fly with wild diſmay,
And ruſh where haſty terror points the way:
So quick the Indians to the tumult came,
With ſleep and valor ſtruggling in their frame.
Unaw'd by danger's unexpected ſight,
They rouſe their fellows, and they ruſh to fight.
Tho' their brave boſoms are of armour bare,
Their manly hearts their martial rage declare.
No furious odds their gallant ſouls appal,
But reſolute they fly to guard the wall.
It was the ſeaſon when, with tender care,
Lautaro reaſon'd with his anxious Fair;
Careſt, conſol'd, and, in his anger kind,
Mildly reprov'd her weak, miſtruſting mind.
Spite of his cheering voice ſhe trembles ſtill;
Severer terrors now her boſom fill:
For ſterner ſounds their ſoft debate o'ercome,
Drown'd in the rattle of th' alarming drum.
But not ſo quick, on Apprehenſion's wings,
The wretched miſer from his pillow ſprings,
[Page 142] Whoſe hoarded gold forbids his mind to reſt,
If doubtful noiſe the nightly thief ſuggeſt:
Nor yet ſo haſty, tho' with terror wild,
Flies the fond mother to her wounded child,
Whoſe painful cry her ſhuddering ſoul alarms,
As flew Lautaro at the ſound of arms.
His mantle rapidly around him roll'd,
And, graſping a light ſword with haſty hold,
Too eager for his heavier arms to wait,
The fierce Barbarian hurried to the gate.
O faithleſs Fortune! thou deceitful friend!
Of thy falſe favours how ſevere the end!
How quick thou cancell'ſt, when thy frown appears,
Th' accumulated gifts of long triumphant years!
To aid the Spaniards in their bold emprize,
Four hundred Indians march'd, their firm allies,
Who on the left their line of battle cloſe,
And haſte to combat with their painted bows;
Launching adroitly, in their rapid courſe,
Unnumber'd arrows with unerring force.
As brave Lautaro iſſued from his tent,
A ſhaft to meet the ſallying Chief was ſent;
Thro' his left ſide (ye valiant, mourn his lot!)
Flew the keen arrow, with ſuch fury ſhot
It pierc'd his heart, the braveſt and the beſt
That e'er was lodg'd within a human breaſt.
[Page 143] Proud of the ſtroke that laid ſuch valor low,
Death ſeem'd to glory in th' important blow;
And, that no Mortal might his triumph claim,
In darkneſs hid the doubtful Archer's name.
Such force the keen reſiſtleſs weapon found,
It ſtretch'd the mighty Chieftain on the ground,
And gave large outlet to his ardent blood,
That guſh'd apace in a tumultuous flood.
From his ſunk cheek its native colour fled;
His ſightleſs eyes roll'd in his ghaſtly head;
His ſoul, that felt its glorious hopes o'erthrown,
Retir'd, indignant, to the world unknown,

The noble ſavages, not diſmayed by the death of their Leader, continue to defend the fort with great fury. CANTO XV.

THE Poet opens this canto with a lively panegyric on Love: he affirms that the greateſt Poets have derived their glory from their vivid deſcriptions of this enchanting paſſion; and he laments that he is precluded by his ſubject from indulging his imagination in ſuch ſcenes as are more likely to captivate a reader.

He ſeems to intend this as an apology (but I [Page 144] muſt own it is an unſatisfactory one) for deſerting the fair Guacolda, whom he mentions no more. He proceeds to deſcribe the ſharp conteſt which the undaunted Indians ſtill maintained in their fort:—they refuſe quarter, which is offered them by the Spaniſh Leader, and all reſolutely periſh with the brave and beloved Lautaro. The Poet then reſumes his account of the naval expedition from Peru to Chile; and concludes the canto with a ſpirited deſcription of a ſtorm, which attacked the veſſels as they arrived in ſight of the province to which they were ſteering. CANTO XVI.

THE ſtorm abates. The Spaniards land, and fortify themſelves on an iſland near the country of the Araucanians. The latter hold a council of war in the valley of Ongolmo. Caupolican, their General, propoſes to attack the Spaniards in their new poſt. The elder Chieftains diſſuade him from the deſign. A quarrel enſues between Tucapel and the aged Peteguelen:—they are appeaſed by a ſpeech of the venerable Colocolo; by whoſe advice a ſpirited and adroit young Indian, named Millalanco, is diſpatched, as a peaceful ambaſſador, to learn the ſituation and deſigns of the Spaniards. [Page 145] He embarks in a large galley with oars, and ſoon arrives at the iſland. He ſurveys the Spaniſh implements of war with aſtoniſhment, and is conducted to the tent of the General, Don Garcia. CANTO XVII.

THE Indian addreſſes the Spaniſh officers with a propoſal of peace and amity. He is diſmiſſed with preſents. The Chieftains, on his return, pretend to relinquiſh hoſtilities; but prepare ſecretly for war. The Spaniards remain unmoleſted on the iſland during the ſtormy ſeaſon. They ſend a ſelect party of an hundred and thirty, including our Poet, to raiſe a fort on the continent: theſe execute their commiſſion with infinite diſpatch, and all the Spaniſh troops remove to this new poſt. The Araucanians are alarmed. An intrepid Youth, named Gracolano, propoſes to the Indian General, Caupolican, to ſtorm the fort. The Indians advance near it, under ſhelter of the night. The Poet deſcribes himſelf, at this juncture, as oppreſſed by the exceſſive labours of the day, and unable to purſue his poetical ſtudies according to his nightly cuſtom: the pen falls from his hand: he is ſeized with violent pains and tremblings: [Page 146] his ſtrength and ſenſes forſake him. But ſoon recovering from this infirmity, he enjoys a refreſhing ſleep. Bellona appears to him in a viſion, and encourages him both as a ſoldier and a poet. She conducts him, through a delicious country, to the ſummit of a moſt lofty mountain; when, pointing to a ſpot below, ſhe informs him it is St. Quintin, and that his countrymen, under the command of their ſovereign Philip, are juſt marching to attack it: ſhe adds, that her preſence is neceſſary in the midſt of that important ſcene; and leaves the Poet on the eminence to ſurvey and record the battle. CANTO XVIII.

AFTER the Poet has deſcribed the ſucceſs of his royal maſter at St. Quintin, a female figure of a moſt venerable appearance, but without a name, relates to him prophetically many future events of great importance to his country. She touches on the diſturbances in the Netherlands, the enterprizes of the Turks, and the exploits of Don John of Auſtria, at that time unknown to fame. Theſe ſhe hints very imperfectly, telling the Poet, that if he wiſhes for farther information, he muſt follow the ſteps of a tame deer, which he will find in a particular ſpot; this animal will lead [Page 147] him to the cell of an ancient hermit, formerly a ſoldier, who will conduct him to the ſecret cave of the unſocial Fiton, a mighty magician, who will diſplay to him the moſt miraculous viſions. His female Inſtructor then adviſes him to mix ſofter ſubjects with the horrors of war, and to turn his eyes and his thoughts to the charms of the many Beauties who then flouriſhed in Spain. He beholds all theſe lovely fair ones aſſembled in a delicious paradiſe; and he is particularly attracted by a young lady, whoſe name he diſcovers to be Donna Maria Bazan (his future wife): in the moment that he begins to queſtion his Guide concerning this engaging Beauty, he is rouſed from his viſion by the ſound of an alarm. He ſnatches up his arms, and hurries to his poſt:—while the morning dawns, and the Indians begin to attack the fort. CANTO XIX.

THE Indians advance in three ſquadrons. The Youth Gracolano o'erleaps the trench, ſupported on a lofty pike, by which he alſo paſſes the wall. He defends himſelf in the midſt of the Spaniards with great ſpirit; but, finding himſelf unſupported, he wrenches a lance from a Spaniſh ſoldier, and tries to leap once more over the trench; [Page 148] but he is ſtruck by a ſtone while vaulting through the air, and falls, covered, as the Poet expreſsly declares, with two-and-thirty wounds. Some of his friends are ſhot near him; but the Indians get poſſeſſion of the Spaniſh lance with which he had ſprung over the wall, and brandiſh it in triumph. The Spaniard, named Elvira, who had loſt his weapon, piqued by the adventure, ſallies from the fort, and returns, amid the ſhouts of his countrymen, with an Indian ſpear which he won in ſingle combat from a Barbarian, whom he had perceived detached from his party. The Indians attempt to ſtorm the fort on every ſide: many are deſtroyed by the Spaniſh fire-arms. The head of the ancient Peteguelen is ſhot off; but Tucapel paſſes the wall, and ruſhes with great ſlaughter into the midſt of the enemy. The Spaniards who were in the ſhips that anchored near the coaſt haſten on ſhore, and march to aſſiſt their countrymen in the fort, but are attacked by a party of Indians in their march. The conflict continues furious on the walls; but the Indians at length retreat, leaving Tucapel ſtill ſighting within the fort. CANTO XX. [Page 149]

TUCAPEL, though ſeverely wounded, eſcapes with life, and rejoins the Indian army, which continues to retreat. The Spaniards ſally from the fort, but ſoon return to it, from the apprehenſion of an ambuſcade. They clear their trench, and ſtrengthen the weaker parts of their fortification. Night comes on. The Poet deſcribes himſelf ſtationed on a little eminence in the plain below the fort, which was ſeated on high and rocky ground:—fatigued with the toils of the day, and oppreſſed by the weight of his armour, which he continues to wear, he is troubled with a lethargic heavineſs; which he counteracts by exerciſe, declaring that his diſpoſition to ſlumber in his poſt aroſe not from any intemperance either in diet or in wine, as mouldy biſcuit and rain-water had been for ſome time his chief ſuſtenance; and that he was accuſtomed to make the moiſt earth his bed, and to divide his time between his poetical and his military labours. He then relates the following nocturnal adventure, which may perhaps be conſidered as the moſt ſtriking and pathetic incident in this ſingular poem: [Page 150]

While thus I ſtrove my nightly watch to keep,
And ſtruggled with th' oppreſſive weight of ſleep,
As my quick feet, with many a ſilent ſtride,
Travers'd th' allotted ground from ſide to ſide,
My eye perceiv'd one quarter of the plain
White with the mingled bodies of the ſlain;
For our inceſſant fire, that bloody day,
Had ſlaughter'd numbers in the ſtubborn fray.
As oft I paus'd each diſtant noiſe to hear,
Gazing around me with attentive ear,
I heard from time to time a feeble ſound
Towards the breathleſs Indians on the ground,
Still cloſing with a ſigh of mournful length;
At every interval it gather'd ſtrength;
And now it ceas'd, and now again begun,
And ſtill from corſe to corſe it ſeem'd to run.
As night's encreaſing ſhade my hope deſtroys,
To view the ſource of this uncertain noiſe,
Eager my mind's unquiet doubts to ſtill,
And more the duties of my poſt fulfil;
With crouching ſteps I haſte, and earneſt eyes,
To the low ſpot from whence the murmurs riſe;
And ſee a duſky Form, that ſeems to tread
Slow, on four feet, among the gory dead.
With terror, that my heart will not deny,
When this ſtrange viſion ſtruck my doubtful eye,
[Page 151] Towards it, with a prayer to Heav'n, I preſt,
Arms in my hand, my corſelet on my breaſt;
But now the duſky Form, on which I ſprung,
Upright aroſe, and ſpoke with plaintive tongue:
Mercy! to mercy hear my juſt pretence;
I am a woman, guiltleſs of offence!
If my diſtreſs, and unexampled plight,
No generous pity in thy breaſt excite;
If thy blood-thirſty rage, by tears uncheck'd,
Would paſs thoſe limits which the brave reſpect;
Will ſuch a deed encreaſe thy martial fame,
When Heaven's juſt voice ſhall to the world proclaim
That by thy ruthleſs ſword a woman died,
A widow, ſunk in ſorrow's deepeſt tide?
Yet I implore thee, if 'twas haply thine,
Or for thy curſe, as now I feel it mine;
If e'er thy lot, in any ſtate, to prove
How firm the faithful ties of tender love,
O let me bury one brave warrior ſlain,
Whoſe corſe lies blended with this breathleſs train!
Remember, he who thwarts the duteous will
Becomes th' approver and the cauſe of ill.
Thou wilt not hinder theſe my pious vows;
War, fierceſt war, this juſt demand allows:
The baſeſt tyranny alone is driven
To uſe the utmoſt power that chance has given.
[Page 152] Let but my ſoul its dear companion find,
Then ſate thy fury, if to blood inclin'd;
For in ſuch grief I draw my lingering breath,
Life is my dread, beyond the pangs of death.
There is no ill that now can wound my breaſt,
No good, but what I in my Love poſſeſt:
Fly then, ye hours! that keep me from the dead;
For he, the ſpirit of my life, is fled.
If adverſe Heaven my lateſt wiſh deny,
On his dear corſe to fix my cloſing eye,
My tortur'd ſoul, in cruel Fate's deſpight,
Will ſoar, the faithful partner of his flight.
And now her agony of heart implor'd
An end of all her ſorrows from my ſword.
Doubt and diſtruſt my troubled mind aſſail,
That fears deceit in her affecting tale;
Nor was I fully of her faith ſecure,
Till oft her words the mournful truth inſure;
Suſpicion whiſper'd, that an artful ſpy
By this illuſion might our ſtate deſcry.
Howe'er inclin'd to doubt, yet ſoon I knew,
Though night conceal'd her features from my view,
That truth was ſtamp'd on every word ſhe ſaid;
So full of grief, ſo free from guilty dread:
And that bold love, to every danger blind,
Had ſent her forth her ſlaughter'd Lord to find,
[Page 153] Who, in the onſet of our bloody ſtrife,
For brave diſtinction ſacrific'd his life.
Fill'd with compaſſion, when I ſaw her bent
To execute her chaſte and fond intent,
I led her weeping to the higher ſpot,
To guard whoſe precincts was that night my lot;
Securely there I begg'd her to relate
The perfect ſtory of her various fate;
From firſt to laſt her touching woes impart,
And by the tale relieve her loaded heart.
Ah! ſhe replied, relief I ne'er can know,
Till Death's kind aid ſhall terminate my woe!
Earth for my ills no remedy ſupplies,
Beyond all ſuff'rance my afflictions riſe:
Yet, though the taſk will agonize my ſoul,
Of my ſad ſtory I will tell the whole;
Grief, thus inforc'd, my life's weak thread may rend,
And in the killing tale my pangs may end.

The fair Indian then relates to Ercilla the particulars of her life, in a ſpeech of conſiderable length:—ſhe informs him, that her name is Tegualda;—that ſhe is the daughter of the Chieftain Brancol;—that her father had often preſſed her to marry, which ſhe had for ſome time declined, though ſolicited by many of the nobleſt Youths in [Page 154] her country; till, being appointed, in compliment to her beauty, to diſtribute the prizes, in a ſcene of public feſtivity, to thoſe who excelled in the manly exerciſes, ſhe was ſtruck by the accompliſhments of a gallant Youth, named Crepino, as ſhe beſtowed on him the reward of his victories;—that ſhe declared her choice to her father, after perceiving the Youth inſpired with a mutual affection for her;—that the old Chieftain was delighted by her chuſing ſo noble a character, and their marriage had been publicly ſolemnized but a month from that day. On this concluſion of her ſtory, ſhe burſts into new agonies of grief, and entreats Ercilla to let her pay her laſt duties to her huſband; or rather, to unite them again in a common grave. Ercilla endeavours to conſole her, by repeated promiſes of all the aſſiſtance in his power. In the moſt paſſionate exceſs of ſorrow, ſhe ſtill entreats him to end her miſerable life.—In this diſtreſſing ſcene, our Author is relieved by the arrival of a brother officer, who had been alſo ſtationed on the plain, and now informs Ercilla that the time of their appointed watch is expired. They join in comforting the unhappy Mourner, and conduct her into the fort; where they conſign her, for the remainder of the night, to the decent care of [Page 155] married women, to uſe the chaſte expreſſion of the generous and compaſſionate Ercilla. CANTO XXI.
IN pure affection who has ſoar'd above
The tender pious proof of faithful love,
Which thus awak'd our ſympathetic care
For this unhappy, fond, barbarian Fair?
O that juſt Fame my humble voice would raiſe
To ſwell in loudeſt notes her laſting praiſe!
To ſpread her merits, in immortal rhyme,
Through every language, and through every clime!
With pitying females ſhe the night remain'd,
Where no rude ſtep their privacy profan'd;
Though wretched, thankful for their ſoothing aid,
With hopes her duty would at length be paid.
Soon as the welcome light of morning came,
Though ſoundeſt ſleep had ſeiz'd my jaded frame,
Though my tir'd limbs were ſtill to reſt inclin'd,
Solicitude awak'd my anxious mind.
Quick to my Indian Mourner I repair,
And ſtill in tears I find the reſtleſs Fair;
The varying hours afford her no relief,
No tranſient momentary pauſe of grief.
[Page 156] With trueſt pity I her pangs aſſuage;
To find her ſlaughter'd Lord my word engage,
Reſtore his corſe, and, with a martial band,
Eſcort her ſafely to her native land.
With blended doubt and ſorrow, weeping ſtill,
My promis'd word ſhe pray'd me to fulfil.
Aſſembling now a menial Indian train,
I led her to explore the bloody plain:
Where heaps of mingled dead deform'd the ground,
Near to the fort the breathleſs Chief we found;
Clay-cold and ſtiff, the gory earth he preſt,
A fatal ball had paſs'd his manly breaſt.
Wretched Tegualda, who before her view'd
The pale disfigur'd form, in blood imbru'd,
Sprung forward, and with inſtantaneous force
Frantic ſhe darted on the precious corſe,
And preſs'd his lips, where livid death appears,
And bath'd his wounded boſom in her tears,
And kiſs'd the wound, and the wild hope purſues
That her fond breath may yet new life infuſe.
Wretch that I am! at length ſhe madly cried,
Why does my ſoul theſe agonies abide?
Why do I linger in this mortal ſtrife,
Nor pay to Love his juſt demand, my life?
Why, poor of ſpirit! at a ſingle blow
Do I not cloſe this bitter ſcene of woe?
[Page 157] Whence this delay? will Heaven to me deny
The wretch's choice and privilege, to die?
While, bent on death, in this deſpair ſhe gaſp'd,
Her furious hands her ſnowy neck inclaſp'd;
Failing her frantic wiſh, they do not ſpare
Her mournful viſage nor her flowing hair.
Much as I ſtrove to ſtop her mad intent,
Her fatal purpoſe I could ſcarce prevent:
So loath'd ſhe life, and with ſuch fierce controul
The raging thirſt of death inflam'd her ſoul.
When by my prayers, and ſoft perſuaſion's balm,
Her pangs of ſorrow grew a little calm,
And her mild ſpeech confirm'd my hope, at laſt,
That her delirious agony was paſt,
My ready Indian train, with duteous haſte,
On a firm bier the clay-cold body plac'd,
And bore the Warrior, in whoſe fate we griev'd,
To where her vaſſals the dear charge receiv'd.
But, leſt from ruthleſs War's outrageous ſway
The mourning Fair might ſuffer on her way,
O'er the near mountains, to a ſafer land,
I march'd to guard her with my warlike band;
And there ſecure, for the remaining road
Was clear and open to her own abode,
She gratefully declin'd my farther care,
And thank'd and bleſs'd me in a parting prayer.

[Page 158] As I have been tempted to dwell much longer than I intended on ſome of the moſt pathetic incidents of this extraordinary poem, I ſhall give a more conciſe ſummary of the remaining cantos.—On Ercilla's return, the Spaniards continue to ſtrengthen their fort. They receive intelligence from an Indian ally, that the Barbarian army intend a freſh aſſault in the night. They are relieved from this alarm by the arrival of a large reinforcement from the Spaniſh cities in Chile:—on which event Colocolo prevails on the Indians to ſuſpend the attack. Caupolican, the Indian General, reviews all his forces; and the various Chieftains are well deſcribed. The Spaniſh Commander, Don Garcia, being now determined to march into the hoſtile diſtrict of Arauco, addreſſes his ſoldiers in a ſpirited harangue, requeſting them to remember the pious cauſe for which they fight, and to ſpare the life of every Indian who is diſpoſed to ſubmiſſion. They remove from their poſt, and paſs in boats over the broad river Biobio. CANTO XXII.

THE Spaniards are attacked in their new quarters—a furious battle enſues. The Spaniards are forced to give ground, but at laſt prevail. The [Page 159] Indian Chief, Rengo, ſignalizes himſelf in the action; defends himſelf in a marſh, and retreats in good order with his forces. The Spaniards, after the conflict, ſeize an unhappy ſtraggling Youth, named Galvarino, whom they puniſh as a rebel in the moſt barbarous manner, by cutting off both his hands. The valiant Youth defies their cruelty in the midſt of this horrid ſcene; and, brandiſhing his bloody ſtumps, departs from his oppreſſors with the moſt inſulting menaces of revenge. CANTO XXIII.

GALVARINO appears in the Aſſembly of the Indian Chieftains, and excites them, in a very animated ſpeech, to revenge the barbarity with which he had been treated. He faints from loſs of blood, in the cloſe of his harangue, but is recovered by the care of his friends, and reſtored to health. The Indians, exaſperated by the ſight of his wounds, unanimouſly determine to proſecute the war. The Spaniards, advancing in Arauco, ſend forth ſcouts to diſcover the diſpoſition of the neighbouring tribes. Ercilla, engaging in this ſervice, perceives an old Indian in a ſequeſtered ſpot, apparently ſinking under the infirmities of [Page 160] age; but, on his approach, the ancient figure flies from him with aſtoniſhing rapidity. He endeavours in vain, though on horſeback, to overtake this aged fugitive, who ſoon eſcapes from his ſight. He now diſcovers the tame Deer foretold in his viſion; and, purſuing it, is conducted through intricate paths to a retired cottage, where a courteous old man receives him in a friendly manner. Ercilla enquires after the magician Fiton: the old man undertakes to guide him to the ſecret manſion of that wonderful Necromancer, to whom he declares himſelf related. He adds, that he himſelf was once a diſtinguiſhed warrior; but, having the misfortune to ſully his paſt glory, without loſing his life, in a conflict with another Chieftain, he had withdrawn himſelf from ſociety, and lived twenty years as a hermit. He now leads Ercilla through a gloomy grove to the cell of the Magician, whoſe reſidence and magical apparatus are deſcribed with great force of imagination. Fiton appears from a ſecret portal, and proves to be the aged figure who had eſcaped ſo ſwiftly from the ſight of Ercilla. At the requeſt of his relation, the old Warrior, he condeſcends to ſhew Ercilla the wonders of his art. He leads him to a large lucid globe, ſelf-ſuſpended in the middle of an immenſe apartment. He tells him it is the work of forty [Page 161] years ſtudy, and contains an exact repreſentation of the world, with this ſingular power, that it exhibits, at his command, any ſcene of futurity which he wiſhes to behold:—that, knowing the heroic compoſition of Ercilla, he will give him an opportunity to vary and embelliſh his poem by the deſcription of a moſt important ſea-fight, which he will diſplay to him moſt diſtinctly on that ſphere. He then invokes all the powers of the infernal world. Ercilla fixes his eye on the globe, and perceives the naval forces of Spain, with thoſe of the Pope and the Venetians, prepared to engage the great armament of the Turks. CANTO XXIV.

DESCRIBES circumſtantially the naval battle of Lepanto, and celebrates the Spaniſh admiral, Don John of Auſtria. Ercilla gazes with great delight on this glorious action, and beholds the complete triumph of his countrymen; when the Magician ſtrikes the globe with his wand, and turns the ſcene into darkneſs. Ercilla, after being entertained with other marvellous ſights, which he omits from his dread of prolixity, takes leave of his two aged friends, and regains his quarters. The [Page 162] Spaniards continue to advance: on their pitching their camp in a new ſpot, towards evening, an Araucanian, fantaſtically dreſt in armour, enquires for the tent of Don Garcia, and is conducted to his preſence. CANTO XXV.

THE Araucanian delivers a defiance to Don Garcia, in the name of Caupolican, who challenges the Spaniſh General to end the war by a ſingle combat. The meſſenger adds, that the whole Indian army will deſcend into the plain, on the next morning, to be ſpectators of the duel. Don Garcia diſmiſſes him with an acceptance of the challenge. At the dawn of day the Indian forces appear in three diviſions. A party of Spaniſh horſe precipitately attack their left wing, before which Caupolican was advancing. They are repulſed. A general and obſtinate engagement enſues. The mangled Galvarino appears at the head of one Indian ſquadron, and excites his countrymen to revenge his wrongs. Many Spaniards are named who diſtinguiſh themſelves in the battle. Among the Indian Chiefs Tucapel and Rengo diſplay the moſt ſplendid acts of valour; and, [Page 163] though perſonal enemies, they mutually defend each other. Caupolican alſo, at the head of the left ſquadron, obliges the Spaniards to retreat; and the Araucanians are on the point of gaining a deciſive victory, when the fortune of the day begins to turn. CANTO XXVI.

THE reſerved guard of the Spaniards, in which Ercilla was ſtationed, advancing to the charge, recover the field, and oblige the main body of the Indians to fly. Caupolican, though victorious in his quarter, ſounds a retreat when he perceives this event. The Indians fly in great diſorder. Rengo for ſome time ſuſtains an unequal conflict, and at laſt retreats ſullenly into a wood, where he collects ſeveral of the ſcattered fugitives. As Ercilla happened to advance towards this ſpot, a Spaniard, called Remon, exhorts him by name to attempt the dangerous but important exploit of forcing this Indian party from the wood. His honour being thus piqued, he ruſhes forward with a few followers, and, after an obſtinate engagement, in which many of the Indians are cut to pieces, the Spaniards obtain the victory, and return to their camp with ſeveral priſoners. After this great defeat of [Page 164] the Indian army, the Spaniards, to deter their enemies from all future reſiſtance, barbarouſly reſolve to execute twelve Chieftains of diſtinction, whom they find among their captives, and to leave their bodies expoſed on the trees that ſurrounded the field of battle. The generous Ercilla, lamenting this inhuman ſentence, intercedes particularly for the life of one, alledging that he had ſeen him united with the Spaniards. This perſon proves to be Galvarino; who, on hearing the interceſſion for his life, produces his mangled arms, which he had concealed in his boſom, and, giving vent to his deteſtation of the Spaniards, inſiſts on dying with his countrymen. Ercilla perſiſts in vain in his endeavour to ſave him. As no executioner could be found among the Spaniſh ſoldiers, a new mode of deſtruction, ſays our Poet, was invented; and every Indian was ordered to terminate his own life by a cord which was given him. Theſe brave men haſtened to accompliſh their fate with as much alacrity, continues Ercilla, as the moſt ſpirited warrior marches to an attack. One alone of the twelve begins to heſitate, and pray for mercy; declaring himſelf the lineal deſcendant of the moſt ancient race and ſovereign of the country. He is interrupted by the reproaches of the impetuous Galvarino, and, repenting his timidity, atones for it by inſtant death.

[Page 165] The Spaniards advance ſtill farther in the country, and raiſe a fort where Valdivia had periſhed. Ercilla finds his old friend the Magician once more, who tells him that Heaven thought proper to puniſh the pride of the Araucanians by their late defeat; but that the Spaniards would ſoon pay dearly for their preſent triumph. The Wizard retires after this prophecy, and, with much intreaty, allows Ercilla to follow him. Coming to a gloomy rock, he ſtrikes it with his wand; a ſecret door opens, and they enter into a delicious garden, which the Poet commends for its ſymmetry, expreſsly declaring that every hedge has its brother. The Magician leads him into a vault of alabaſter; and, perceiving his wiſh, though he does not expreſs it, of ſeeing the miraculous globe again, the courteous Fiton conducts him to it. CANTO XXVII.

THE Magician diſplays to our Poet the various countries of the globe; particularly pointing out to him the ancient caſtle of Ercilla, the ſeat of his anceſtors in Biſcay, and the ſpot where his ſovereign Philip the Second was ſoon to build his magnificent palace, the Eſcurial. Having ſhewn [Page 166] him the various nations of the earth on his marvellous ſphere, Fiton conducts his gueſt to the road leading to the Spaniſh camp, where the ſoldiers of Ercilla were ſeeking their officer. The Spaniards in vain attempt to ſooth and to terify the Araucanians into peace; and, finding the importance of their preſent poſt, they determine to ſtrengthen it. Ercilla proceeds with a party to the city of Imperial, to provide neceſſaries for this purpoſe. On his return, as he is marching through the country of ſome pacific Indians, he diſcovers, at the cloſe of day, a diſtreſt female, who attempts to fly, but is overtaken by Ercilla. CANTO XXVIII.

THE fair fugitive, whom our Poet deſcribes as ſingularly beautiful, relates her ſtory. She tells him her name is Glaura, the daughter of an opulent Chieftain, with whom ſhe lived moſt happily, till a brother of her father's, who frequently reſided with him, perſecuted her with an unwarrantable paſſion;—that ſhe in vain repreſented to him the impious nature of his love;—he perſiſted in his frantic attachment, and, on the appearance of a hoſtile party of Spaniards, ruſhed forth to die in her [Page 167] defence, intreating her to receive his departing ſpirit. He fell in the action; her father ſhared the ſame fate: ſhe herſelf eſcaped at a poſtern gate into the woods. Two negroes, laden with ſpoil, diſcovered, and ſeized her. Her cries brought a young Indian, named Cariolano, to her reſcue: he ſhot an arrow into the heart of the firſt ruffian, and ſtabbed the ſecond. Glaura expreſſed her gratitude by receiving her young deliverer as her huſband. Before they could regain a place of ſafety, they were alarmed by the approach of Spaniards. The generous Youth intreated Glaura to conceal herſelf in a tree, while he ventured to meet the enemy. In her terror ſhe ſubmitted to this expedient, which, on recovery from her panic, ſhe bitterly repented; for when ſhe iſſued from her retreat, ſhe ſought in vain for Cariolano, and ſuppoſed, from the clamour ſhe had heard, that he muſt have periſhed. She continued to wander in this wretched ſtate of mind, ſtill unable to hear any tidings of her protector. While the fair Indian thus cloſes her narrative, Ercilla is alarmed by the approach of a large party of Barbarians. One of his faithful Indian attendants, whom he had lately attached to him, intreats him to eſcape with the utmoſt haſte; adding, that he can ſave him from purſuit by his knowledge of the country; and that he will riſque [Page 168] his own life moſt willingly, to preſerve that of Ercilla. Glaura burſts into an agony of joy, in diſcovering her loſt Cariolano in this faithful attendant. Ercilla exclaims, ‘"Adieu, my friends; I give you both your liberty, which is all I have at preſent to beſtow, and rejoins his little troop."’ Before he enters on the account of what followed, he relates the circumſtance by which he attached Cariolano to his ſervice; whom he had found alone, as he himſelf was marching with a ſmall party, and a few priſoners that he had taken. The Youth at firſt defended himſelf, and ſhot two Spaniards with his arrows, and continued to reſiſt the numbers that preſſed upon him with his mantle and his dagger, evading their blows by his extreme agility, and wounding ſeveral. Ercilla generouſly ruſhed in to his reſcue, and declared he deſerved a reward for his uncommon bravery, inſtead of being deſtroyed ſo unfairly. The Youth, in conſequence of this treatment, flung down his dagger, and became the affectionate attendant of Ercilla. Our Poet, after relating this incident, returns to the ſcene where his party was ſurprized in a hollow road, and ſeverely galled by the enemy, who attacked them with ſhowers of ſtones from the higher ground. Ercilla forces his way up the precipice, and, after diſperſing part of the Indian force, effects his eſcape with [Page 169] a few followers; but all are wounded, and obliged to leave their baggage in the poſſeſſion of their numerous enemies. CANTO XXIX.

OPENS with an encomium on the love of our country, and the ſignal proofs of this virtue which the Araucanians diſplayed; who, notwithſtanding their loſs of four great battles in the ſpace of three months, ſtill continue firm in their reſolution of defending their liberty. Caupolican propoſes, in a public aſſembly, to ſet fire to their own habitations, and leave themſelves no alternative, but that of killing or being killed. The Chieftains all agree in this deſperate determination. Tucapel, before they proceed to action againſt the Spaniards, inſiſts on terminating his difference with Rengo, a rival Chieftain, by a ſingle combat. A plain is appointed for this purpoſe: all the people of Arauco aſſemble as ſpectators: the Chiefs appear in complete armour, and engage in a moſt obſtinate and bloody conflict. CANTO XXX.

AFTER many dreadful wounds on each ſide, the two Chieftains, cloſing with each other, [Page 170] fall together, and, after a fruitleſs ſtruggle for victory, remain ſpeechleſs on the ground. Caupolican, who preſided as judge of the combat, deſcends from his ſeat, and finding ſome ſigns of life in each, orders them to be carried to their reſpective tents. They recover, and are reconciled. The Spaniards, leaving a garriſon in their new fort, under a captain named Reynoſo, had proceeded to the city of Imperial. Caupolican endeavours to take advantage of this event. He employs an artful Indian, named Pran, to examine the ſtate of the fort. Pran inſinuates himſelf among the Indian ſervants belonging to the Spaniards. He views the fort, and endeavours to perſuade a ſervile Indian, named Andreſillo, to admit Caupolican and his forces while the Spaniards are ſleeping. Andreſillo promiſes to meet Caupolican in ſecret, and converſe with him on this project. CANTO XXXI.

OPENS with a ſpirited invective againſt treachery in war, and particularly thoſe traitors who betray their country. Andreſillo reveals all that had paſſed to his Spaniſh captain; who promiſes him a great reward if he will aſſiſt in making the ſtratagem of the Indians an inſtrument of deſtruction [Page 171] to thoſe who contrived it. They concert a plan for this purpoſe. Andreſillo meets Caupolican in ſecret, and promiſes to introduce the Indian forces into the fort when the Spaniards are ſleeping in the heat of the day. Pran is ſent forward, to learn from Andreſillo if all things are quiet, juſt before the hour appointed for the aſſault. He examines the ſtate of the fort, and, finding the Spaniards apparently unprepared for defence, haſtens back to the Indian General, who advances by a quick and ſilent march. The Spaniards in the interim point all their guns, and prepare for the moſt bloody reſiſtance. CANTO XXXII.

AFTER a panegyric on clemency, and a noble cenſure of thoſe enormous cruelties, by which his countrymen ſullied their military fame, the Poet relates the dreadful carnage which enſued as the Indians approached the fort. The Spaniards, after deſtroying numbers by their artillery, ſend forth a party of horſe, who cut the fugitives to pieces. They inhumanly murder thirteen of their moſt diſtinguiſhed priſoners, by blowing them from the mouths of cannon: but none of the confederate Chieftains, whom the Poet has particularly [Page 172] celebrated, were included in this number; for thoſe high-ſpirited Barbarians had refuſed to attend Caupolican in this aſſault, as they conſidered it as diſgraceful to attack their enemies by ſurprize. The unfortunate Indian Leader, ſeeing his forces thus unexpectedly maſſacred, eſcapes with ten faithful followers, and wanders through the country in the moſt calamitous condition. The Spaniards endeavour, by all the means they can deviſe, to diſcover his retreat: the faithful inhabitants of Arauco refuſe to betray him.

Ercilla, in ſearching the country with a ſmall party, finds a young wounded female. She informs him, that marching with her huſband, ſhe had the misfortune of ſeeing him periſh in the late ſlaughter;—that a friendly ſoldier, in pity to her extreme diſtreſs, had tried to end her miſerable life in the midſt of the confuſion, but had failed in his generous deſign, by giving her an ineffectual wound;—that ſhe had been removed from the field of battle to that ſequeſtered ſpot, where ſhe languiſhed in the hourly hope of death, which ſhe now implores from the hand of Ercilla. Our Poet conſoles her; dreſſes her wound, and leaves one of his attendants to protect her. On his return to the fort, he diſcourſes to his ſoldiers in praiſe of the fidelity and ſpirit diſplayed by the Indian females, [Page 173] comparing them to the chaſte and conſtant Dido. A young ſoldier of his train expreſſes his ſurprize on hearing Ercilla commend the Carthaginian Queen for a virtue to which, he conceived, ſhe had no pretence. From hence our Poet takes occaſion to vindicate the injured Eliza from the ſlanderous miſrepreſentation of Virgil; and flatters himſelf that the love of juſtice, ſo natural to man, will induce every reader to liſten with pleaſure to his defence of the calumniated Queen. He then enters on her real hiſtory, and relates circumſtantially her lamentation over the murdered Sichaeus, and the artifice by which ſhe eſcaped with her treaſures from her inhuman brother Pygmalion:—ſhe engages many of his attendants to ſhare the chances of her voyage; and, having collected a ſupply of females from the iſland of Cyprus, ſhe directs her courſe to the coaſt of Africa. CANTO XXXIII.

DIDO, as our Poet continues her more authentic ſtory, purchaſes her dominion and raiſes her flouriſhing city. The ambaſſadors of Iarbas arrive at Carthage, to offer this celebrated Queen the alternative of marriage or war. The Senate, who are firſt informed of the propoſal, being fearful that [Page 174] the chaſte reſolutions of their fair Sovereign may ruin their country, attempt to engage her, by a ſingular device, to accept the hand of Iarbas. They tell her, that this haughty Monarch has ſent to demand twenty of her privy counſellors to regulate his kingdom; and that, in conſideration of their age and infirmities, they muſt decline ſo unpleaſant a ſervice. The Queen repreſents to them the danger of their refuſal, and the duty which they owe to their country; declaring that ſhe would moſt readily ſacrifice her own life for the ſafety or advantage of her ſubjects. The Senators then reveal to her the real demand of Iarbas, and urge the neceſſity of her marriage for the preſervation of the ſtate. The faithful Dido knows not what to reſolve, and demands three months to conſider of this delicate and important point:—at the cloſe of that period, ſhe aſſembles her ſubjects; and, taking leave of them in a very affectionate harangue, declares her reſolution to die, as the only means by which ſhe can at once ſatisfy both Heaven and earth, by diſcharging her duty to her people, and at the ſame time preſerving her faith inviolate to her departed Sichaeus. Invoking his name, ſhe plunges a poniard in her breaſt; and throws herſelf on a flaming pile, which had been kindled for a different ſacrifice. Her grateful ſubjects lament her death, [Page 175] and pay divine honours to her memory. ‘"This * (ſays our Poet) is the true and genuine ſtory of the famous defamed Dido, whoſe moſt honoured chaſtity has been belied by the inconſiderate Virgil, to embelliſh his poetical fictions."’

Our Poet returns from this digreſſion on Dido, to the fate of the Indian Leader Caupolican.—One of the priſoners, whom the Spaniards had taken in their ſearch after this unfortunate Chief, is at laſt tempted by bribes to betray his General. He conducts the Spaniards to a ſpot near the ſequeſtered retreat of Caupolican, and directs them how to diſcover it; but refuſes to advance with them, overcome by his dread of the Hero whom he is tempted to betray. The Spaniards ſurround the houſe in which the Chieftain had taken refuge with his ten faithful aſſociates. Alarmed by a centinel, he prepares for defence; but being [Page 176] ſoon wounded in the arm, ſurrenders, endeavouring to conceal his high character, and to make the Spaniards believe him an ordinary ſoldier.

With their accuſtom'd ſhouts, and greedy toil,
Our furious troops now riot in their ſpoil;
Through the lone village their quick rapine ſpread,
Nor leave unpillag'd e'en a ſingle ſhed:
When, from a tent, that, plac'd on ſafer ground,
The neighbouring hill's uncultur'd ſummit crown'd,
A woman ruſh'd, who, in her haſty flight,
Ran through the rougheſt paths along the rocky height.
A Negro of our train, who mark'd her way,
Soon made the hapleſs fugitive his prey;
For thwarting crags her doubtful ſteps impede,
And the fair form was ill prepar'd for ſpeed;
For at her breaſt ſhe bore her huddled ſon;
To fifteen months the infant's life had run:
From our brave captive ſprung the blooming boy,
Of both his parents the chief pride and joy.
The Negro careleſsly his victim brought,
Nor knew th' important prize his haſte had caught.
Our ſoldiers now, to catch the cooling tide,
Had ſallied to the murmuring river's ſide:
[Page 177] When the unhappy Wife beheld her Lord,
His ſtrong arms bound with a diſgraceful cord,
Stript of each enſign of his paſt command,
And led the pris'ner of our ſhouting band;
Her anguiſh burſt not into vain complaint,
No female terrors her firm ſoul attaint;
But, breathing fierce diſdain, and anger wild,
Thus ſhe exclaim'd, advancing with her child:
The ſtronger arm that in this ſhameful band
Has tied thy weak effeminated hand,
Had nobler pity to thy ſtate expreſt
If it had bravely pierc'd that coward breaſt.
Wert thou the Warrior whoſe heroic worth
So ſwiftly flew around the ſpacious earth,
Whoſe name alone, unaided by thy arm,
Shook the remoteſt clime with fear's alarm?
Wert thou the Victor whoſe triumphant ſtrain
Promis'd with rapid ſword to vanquiſh Spain;
To make new realms Arauco's power revere,
And ſpread her empire o'er the Arctic ſphere?
Wretch that I am! how was my heart deceiv'd,
In all the noble pride with which it heav'd,
When through the world my boaſted title ran,
Treſia, the wife of great Caupolican!
Now, plung'd in miſery from the heights of fame,
My glories end in this deteſted ſhame,
[Page 178] To ſee thee captive in a lonely ſpot,
When death and honour might have been thy lot!
What now avail thy ſcenes of happier ſtrife,
So dearly bought by many a nobler life;
The wondrous feats, that valor ſcarce believ'd,
By thee with hazard and with toil atchiev'd?
Where are the vaunted fruits of thy command,
The laurels gather'd by this fetter'd hand?
All ſunk! all turn'd to this abhorr'd diſgrace,
To live the ſlave of this ignoble race!
Say, had thy ſoul no ſtrength, thy hand no lance,
To triumph o'er the fickle pow'r of chance?
Doſt thou not know, that, to the Warrior's name,
A gallant exit gives immortal fame?
Behold the burthen which my breaſt contains,
Since of thy love no other pledge remains!
Hadſt thou in glory's arms reſign'd thy breath,
We both had follow'd thee in joyous death:
Take, take thy Son! he was a tie moſt dear,
Which ſpotleſs love once made my heart revere;
Take him!—by generous pain, and wounded pride,
The currents of this fruitful breaſt are dried:
Rear him thyſelf, for thy gigantic frame,
To woman turn'd, a woman's charge may claim:
A mother's title I no more deſire,
Or ſhameful children from a ſhameful ſire!
[Page 179]
As thus ſhe ſpoke, with growing madneſs ſtung,
The tender nurſling from her arms ſhe flung
With ſavage fury, haſt'ning from our ſight,
While anguiſh ſeem'd to aid her rapid flight.
Vain were our efforts; our indignant cries,
Nor gentle prayers, nor angry threats, ſuffice
To make her breaſt, where cruel frenzy burn'd,
Receive the little innocent ſhe ſpurn'd.

The Spaniards, after providing a nurſe for this unfortunate child, return with their priſoner Caupolican to their fort, which they enter in triumph.

The Indian General, perceiving that all attempts to conceal his quality are ineffectual, deſires a conference with the Spaniſh Captain Reynoſo. CANTO XXXIV.

CAUPOLICAN entreats Reynoſo to grant his life, but without any ſigns of terror. He affirms it will be the only method of appeaſing the ſanguinary hatred by which the contending nations are inflamed; and he offers, from his great influence over his country, to introduce the Chriſtian worſhip, and to bring the Araucanians to [Page 180] conſider themſelves as the ſubjects of the Spaniſh Monarch. His propoſals are rejected, and he is ſentenced to be impaled, and ſhot to death with arrows. He is unappall'd by this decree; but firſt deſires to be publicly baptized: after which ceremony, he is inhumanly led in chains to a ſcaffold. He diſplays a calm contempt of death; but, on ſeeing a wretched Negro appointed his executioner, his indignation burſts forth, and he hurls the Negro from the ſcaffold, entreating to die by a more honourable hand. His horrid ſentence is however executed. He ſupports the agonies of the ſtake with patient intrepidity, till a choſen band of archers put a period to his life.

Our brave Ercilla expreſſes his abhorrence of this atrocious ſcene; and adds, that if he had been preſent, this cruel execution ſhould not have taken place.

The conſequence of it was ſuch as Caupolican foretold:—the Araucanians determine to revenge his death, and aſſemble to elect a new General. The Poet makes an abrupt tranſition from their debate, to relate the adventures of Don Garcia, with whom he was himſelf marching to explore new regions. The inhabitants of the diſtricts they invade, alarmed at the approach of the Spaniards, [Page 181] conſult on the occaſion. An Indian, named Tunconabala, who had ſerved under the Araucanians, addreſſes the aſſembly, and recommends to them a mode of eluding the ſuppoſed avaricious deſigns of the Spaniards, by ſending meſſengers to them, who ſhould aſſume an appearance of extreme poverty, and repreſent their country as barren, and thus induce the invaders to turn their arms towards a different quarter. He offers to engage in this ſervice himſelf. The Indians adopt the project he recommends, and remove their valuable effects to the interior parts of their country. CANTO XXXV.

DON GARCIA being arrived at the boundaries of Chile, which no Spaniard had paſſed, encourages his ſoldiers, in a ſpirited harangue, to the acquiſition of the new provinces which lay before them. They enter a rude and rocky country, in which they are expoſed to many hazards by their deceitful guides. Tunconabala meets them, as he had projected, with the appearance of extreme poverty; and, after many aſſurances of the ſterility of that region, adviſes them to return, or to advance by a different path, which he repreſents to them as dangerous, but the only practicable road. On [Page 182] finding them reſolved to preſs forward, he ſupplies them with a guide. They advance, with great toil and danger. Their guide eſcapes from them. They continue their march, through various hardſhips, in a deſolate region. They at length diſcover a fertile plain, and a large lake with many little inhabited iſlands. As they approach the lake, a large gondola, with twelve oars, advances to meet them: the party it contained leap aſhore, and ſalute the Spaniards with expreſſions of amity. CANTO XXXVI.

THE young Chieftain of the gondola ſupplies the Spaniards with proviſions, refuſing to accept any reward: and our Poet celebrates all the inhabitants of this region, for their amiable ſimplicity of manners. He viſits one of the principal iſlands, where he is kindly entertained. He diſcovers that the lake had a communication with the ſea, by a very rough and dangerous channel: this circumſtance obliges the Spaniards, though reluctant, to return. They lament the neceſſity of paſſing again through the hardſhips of their former road. A young Indian undertakes to conduct them by an eaſier way. But our adventurous Ercilla, before the little army ſet forth on their return, engages [Page 183] ten choſen aſſociates to embark with him in a ſmall veſſel, and paſs the dangerous channel. He lands on a wild and ſandy ſpot, and, advancing half a mile up the country, engraves a ſtanza, to record this adventure, on the bark of a tree. He repaſſes the channel, and rejoins the Spaniſh troops; who, after much difficulty, reach the city of Imperial. Our Poet then touches on ſome particulars of his perſonal hiſtory, which I mention in the ſlight ſketch of his life. He afterwards promiſes his reader to relate the iſſue of the debate among the Araucanian Chieftains, on the election of their new General; but, recollecting in the inſtant that Spain herſelf is in arms, he entreats the favour of his Sovereign to inſpire him with new ſpirit, that he may devote himſelf to that higher and more intereſting ſubject. CANTO XXXVII.

OUR Poet, in this his laſt canto, ſeems to begin a new work. He enters into a diſcuſſion of Philip's right to the dominion of Portugal, and his acquiſition of that kingdom; when, ſinking under the weight of this new ſubject, he declares his reſolution of leaving it to ſome happier Poet. He recapitulates the various perils and hardſhips of [Page 184] his own life, and, remarking that he has ever been unfortunate, and that all his labours are unrewarded, he conſoles himſelf with the reflection, that honour conſiſts not in the poſſeſſion of rewards, but in the conſciouſneſs of having deſerved them. He concludes with a pious reſolution to withdraw himſelf from the vain purſuits of the world, and to devote himſelf to God. NOTE XI. VERSE 280.
At once the Bard of Glory and of Love.]

The Epic powers of Camoens have received their due honour in our language, by the elegant and ſpirited [Page 185] tranſlation of Mr. Mickle; but our country is ſtill a ſtranger to the lighter graces and pathetic ſweetneſs of his ſhorter compoſitions. Theſe, as they are illuſtrated by the Spaniſh notes of his indefatigable Commentator, Manuel de Faria, amount to two volumes in folio. I ſhall preſent the reader with a ſpecimen of his Sonnets, for which he is celebrated as the rival of Petrarch. Of the three tranſlations which follow, I am indebted for the two firſt to an ingenious friend, from whom the public may wiſh me to have received more extenſive obligations of a ſimilar nature. It may be proper to add, that the firſt Sonnet of Camoens, like that of Petrarch, is a kind of preface to the amorous poetry of its author.

[Page 184]
EM quanto quis Fortuna que tiveſſe
Eſperanca de algum contentamento,
O goſto de hum ſuave penſamento
Me fez que ſeus effeytos eſcreveſſe.
Porèm temendo Amor que aviſo deſſe
Minha eſcritura a algum juizo iſento,
Eſcureccome o engenho co' o tormento,
Para que ſeus enganos naō diſſeſſe
[Page 186]
O vós, que amor obriga a ſer ſogeytos
A diverſas vontades! quando lerdes
Num breve livro caſos taō diverſos;
Verdades puras ſaō, & naō defeytos.
Entendey que ſegundo o amor tiverdes,
Tircis o entendimento de meus verſos,
ALMA minha gentil, que te partiſte
Taō cedo deſta vida deſcontente,
Repouſa là no ceo eternamente,
E viva eu cà na terra ſempre triſte.
Se là no aſſento etereo, onde ſubiſte,
Memoria deſta vida ſe conſente,
Naō te eſqueças de aquelle amor ardente
Que já nos olhos meus taō puro viſte.
Eſe vires que póde merecerte
Algūa couſa a dor queme ſicou
Da magoa, ſem remedio, de perderte,
Roga a Deos que teus annos encurtou,
Que taō cedo de câ me leve a verte,
Quaō cedo de meus olhos te levou.
[Page 188]
QUANDO de minhas magoas a comprida
Maginaçaō os olhos me adormece,
Em ſonhos aquella alma me aparece
Que para mi foy ſonho neſta vida.
Lá numa ſoidade, onde eſtendida
A viſta por o campo desfallece,
Corro apos ella; & ella entaō parece
Que maes de mi ſe alonga, compelida,
Brado: Naō me fujays, ſombra benina.
Ella (os olhos em mi c'hum brado pejo,
Como quem diz, que ja naō pode ſer)
Torna a fugirme: torno a bradar; dina:
E antes q' acabe em mene, acordo, & vejo
Que nem hum breve engano poſſo ter.
[Page 185]
WHile on my head kind Fortune deign'd to pour
Her laviſh boons, and through my willing ſoul
Made tides of extaſy and pleaſure roll,
I ſung the raptures of each paſſing hour.
But Love, who heard me praiſe the golden ſhower,
Reſolv'd my fond preſumption to controul;
And painful darkneſs o'er my ſpirit ſtole,
Leſt I ſhould dare to tell his treacherous power.
[Page 187] O ye, whom his hard yoke compels to bend
To others' will, if in my various lay
Sad plaints ye find, and fears, and cruel wrong,
To ſuffering nature and to truth attend;
For in the meaſure ye have felt his ſway,
Your ſympathizing hearts will feel my ſong.
GO, gentle ſpirit! now ſupremely bleſt,
From ſcenes of pain and ſtruggling virtue go:
From thy immortal ſeat of heavenly reſt
Behold us lingering in a world of woe!
And if beyond the grave, to ſaints above,
Fond memory ſtill the tranſient paſt pourtrays,
Blame not the ardor of my conſtant love,
Which in theſe longing eyes was wont to blaze,
But if from virtue's ſource my ſorrows riſe,
For the ſad loſs I never can repair,
Be thine to juſtify my endleſs ſighs,
And to the Throne of Grace prefer thy prayer,
'That Heaven, who made thy ſpan of life ſo brief,
May ſhorten mine, and give my ſoul relief.
[Page 189]
WHile preſt with woes from which it cannot flee,
My fancy ſinks, and ſlumber ſeals my eyes,
Her ſpirit haſtens in my dreams to riſe,
Who was in life but as a dream to me.
O'er a drear waſte, ſo wide no eye can ſee
How far its ſenſe-evading limit lies,
I follow her quick ſtep; but ah! ſhe flies!
Our diſtance widening by ſtern Fate's decree.
Fly not from me, kind ſhadow! I exclaim:
She, with fix'd eyes, that her ſoft thoughts reveal,
And ſeem to ſay, "Forbear thy fond deſign!"
Still flies:—I call her; but her half-form'd name
Dies on my falt'ring tongue.—I wake, and feel
Not e'en one ſhort deluſion may be mine.

[Page 188] The Spaniſh Commentator of Camoens conſiders this viſion as the moſt exquiſite Sonnet of his author, and affirms that it is ſuperior to the much longer poem of Petrarch's, on a ſimilar idea. It may amuſe a curious reader to compare both Camoens and Petrarch, on this occaſion, with Milton, who has alſo written a Sonnet on the ſame ſubject. The Commentator Faria has a very [Page 189] pleaſant remark on this ſpecies of compoſition. He vindicates the dignity of the amorous Sonnet, by producing an alphabetical liſt of two hundred great Poets, who have thus complimented the object of their affection; and he very gravely introduces Achilles as the leader of this choir, for having celebrated Briſeis. If the Sonnets of the Portugueſe' Poet are worthy of attention, [Page 190] his Elegies are perhaps ſtill more ſo, as they illuſtrate many particulars of his intereſting life, which ended in 1579, under the moſt cruel circumſtances of neglect and poverty.

Portugal has produced no leſs than fourteen Epic poems; twelve in her own language, and two in that of Spain. At the head of theſe ſtands the Luſiad of Camoens. The Malaca Conquiſtada of Franciſco de Sa' de Meneſis—and the Ulyſſea, or Liſboa Edificada, of Gabriel Pereira de Caſtro, are two of the moſt eminent among its ſucceſſors.—For a liſt of the Portugueſe Epic Poets, and for an elegant copy of the Malaca Conquiſtada, I am indebted to the very liberal politeneſs of the Chevalier de Pinto, the Ambaſſador of Portugal. NOTE XII. VERSE 287.
Where Eulogy, with one eternal ſmile.]

Though a vain inſipidity may be conſidered as the general characteriſtic of the French Eloges, it is but juſt to remark, that ſeveral of theſe performances are an honour to the country which produced them; and particularly the little volume of Eloges lately publiſhed by Mr. D'Alembert. This agreeable Encomiaſt has varied and enlivened the tone [Page 191] of panegyric by the moſt happy mixture of amuſing anecdote, judicious criticiſm, and philoſophical precept: we may juſtly ſay of him, what he himſelf has ſaid of his predeceſſor Fontenelle: ‘Il a ſolidement aſſuré ſa gloire . . . . par ces Eloges ſi intereſſans, pleins d'une raifon ſi fine et ſi profonde, qui font aimer et reſpecter les lettres, qui inſpirent aux génies naiſſans la plus noble emulation, et qui feront paſſer le nom de l'auteur à la poſterité, avec celui de la compagnie célebre dont il a été le digne organe, et des grands hommes dont il s'eſt rendu l'egal en devenant leur panégyriſte.’ D'Alembert, Eloge de la Motte, p. 279. NOTE XIII. VERSE 302.
No great Examples riſe, but many a Rule.]

Before the appearance of Boſſu's celebrated treatiſe on Epic poetry, the French had a ſimilar work written in Latin. The learned Jeſuit Mambrun publiſhed, in 1652, a quarto volume, entitled, Diſſertatic Peripatetica de Epico Carmine. His Diſſertation is founded on the principles of Ariſtotle, whom he conſiders as infallible authority; and he introduces the Greek Philoſopher to decide the following very curious queſtion, which he argues with becoming gravity, Whether [Page 192] the action of a woman can be ſufficiently ſplendid to prove a proper ſubject for an Epic poem.—Having reaſoned on this delicate point, with more learning than gallantry, he thus concludes the debate! ‘Congruenter magis finem huic quaeſtioni ponere non licet, quam verbis Ariſtotelis capite 15 Poeticae, ubi de moribus diſputat, [...]—id eſt, ſecunda proprietas morum eſt, ut ſint congruentes, ut eſſe fortem mos eſt aliquis; at non congruit mulieri fortem eſſe aut terribilem ut vertit Riccobonus, vel prudentem ut Pacius.’ The latter interpretation of the word [...] would render the deciſion of theſe Philoſophers very ſevere indeed on the Female character, by ſuppoſing it incapable of diſplaying both fortitude and prudence.—The Fair Sex have found an advocate, on this occaſion, in a French Epic Poet. The famous Chapelain, in the preface to his unfortunate Pucelle, has very warmly attacked theſe ungallant maxims of Mambrun and Ariſtotle. In ſpeaking of certain critics, who had cenſured the choice of his ſubject, before the publication of his poem, he ſays, ‘Ceux-cy, jurant ſur le texte d'Ariſtote, maintiennent que la femme eſt une erreur de la nature, qui ayant toujours intention de [Page 193] faire un homme, s'arreſte ſouvent en chemin, et ſe voit contrainte, par la reſiſtance de la matiere, de laiſſer ſon deſſein imparfait. Ils tiennent la force corporelle tellement neceſſaire, dans la compoſition d'un heros, que quand il n'y auroit autre defaut à reprocher à la femme, ils luy en refuſeroient le nom, pour cela ſeulement, qu'elle n'a pas la vigueur d'un Athlete, et que la molleſſe de ſa complexion l'empeſche de pouvoir durer au travail. Ils n'eſtiment ce Sexe capable d'aucune penſée heroique, dans la creance que l'eſprit ſuit le temperament du corps, et que, dans le corps de la femme, l'eſprit ne peut rien concevoir, qui ne ſe ſente de ſa foibleſſe.—Ces Meſſieurs me pardonneront, touteſois, ſi je leur dis qu'ils ne conſiderent pas trop bien quelle eſt la nature de la vertu heroique, qu'ils en definiſſent l'eſſence, par un de ſes moindres accidens, et qu'ils en font plutoſt une vertu brutale, qu'une vertu divine.—Ils ſe devroient ſouvenir que cette vertu n'a preſque rien à faire avec le corps, et qu'elle conſiſte, non dans les efforts d'un Milon de Crotone, où l'eſprit n'a aucune part, mais en ceux des ames nées pour les grandes choſes; quand par une ardeur pluſqu' humaine, elles s'elevent audeſſus d'elles-meſmes; qu'elles forment quelque deſſein, dont l'utilité eſt auſſi grande que la difficulté, et qu'elles choiſiſſent les moyens de l'executer avec [Page 194] conſtance et hauteur de courage. Pour prevenus qu'ils ſoient en faveurs des hommes, je ne penſe pas qu'ils vouluſſent attribuer à leur ame un ſeul avantage, auquel l'ame de la femme ne puſt aſpirer, ni faire deux eſpeces des deux ſexes, deſquels la raiſon de tous les ſages n'a fait qu'une juſqu'icy—je ne croy pas non plus qu'ils imaginent que les vertus morales ayent leur ſiege ailleurs, que dans la volonté, ou dans l'entendement. Mais ſi elles y ont leur ſiege, et ſi l'on ne peut dire que ces deux facultés ſoient autres, dans l'ame de la femme que dans l'ame de l'homme, ils ne peuvent, ſans abſurdité, accorder une de ces vertus à l'homme, et ne l'accorder pas à la femme. En effet, cette belle penſée d'Ariſtote qui a donné occaſion à leur erreur, eſt ſi peu phyſique, qu'elle fait plus de tort à la philoſophie du Lycée, qu'elle n'appuye l'opinion de ceux que nous combattons."’ Chapelain then enters into an hiſtorical defence of Female dignity, and oppoſes the authority of Plato to that of Ariſtotle, concerning the propriety of women's ever appearing on the great theatre of active life. Happy had he ſupported the Female cauſe as forcibly, in the execution of his poem, as in the arguments of his preface: but Chapelain was unfortunately one of the many examples, which every country affords, that the moſt perfect union of virtue and erudition is utterly inſufficient to [Page 195] form a Poet; and, as he had the ill fate to be perſecuted by the pitileſs rigour of Boileau, his inharmonious poem can never ſink into a deſirable oblivion. The treatiſe of Mambrun ſeems to have excited, among the French, an eagerneſs to diſtinguiſh themſelves in the field of Epic poetry; for ſeveral Epic poems were publiſhed in France in a few years after that work appeared; but moſt of them, and particularly thoſe on ſcriptural ſubjects, were hardly ever known to exiſt.

Le Jonas inconnu ſeche dans la pouſſiere,
Le David imprimé n'a point vu la lumiere,
Le Moïſe commence à moiſir par les bords.
BOILEAU, Sat. ix.

The Alaric of Scudery, and the Clovis of Deſmareſts, can ſcarce be reckoned more fortunate; but in this band of unſucceſsful Epic writers, there was one Poet, of whom even the ſevere Boileau could not allow himſelf to ſpeak ill; this was Le Moine, the author of St. Louis. The Satiriſt being aſked, why he had never mentioned the poetry of Le Moine? replied with the two following verſes, parodied from Corneille,

Il s'eſt trop élevé pour en dire du mal,
Il s'eſt trop égaré pour en dire du bien.
[Page 196] The judicious and candid Heyne has beſtowed conſiderable applauſe on Le Moine, in one of his notes to the 6th book of Virgil, where he examines the different methods by which the Epic Poets have introduced their various pictures of futurity. From his account, Le Moine excels in this article. I can ſpeak only from the opinion of this learned Critic, for the neglected French Poet is become ſo rare, that I have ſought in vain for a copy of his work.—The number of obſcure Epic writers in France is very trifling, compared to thoſe which Italy has produced; the Italians have been indefatigable in this ſpecies of compoſition, and, as if they had reſolved to leave no Hero unſung, their celebrated Noveliſt, Giraldi Cinthio, has written an Epic poem, in twenty-ſix cantos, on the exploits of Hercules. NOTE XIV. VERSE 304.
Keen Boileau ſhall not want his proper praiſe.]

Nicolas Boileau Deſpreaux was born in or near Paris, for it is a conteſted point, on the firſt of November 1636, and died in March 1711 of a dropſy, the very diſeaſe which terminated the life of his Engliſh rival. The Lutrin of Boileau, ſtill conſidered by ſome French Critics of the preſent time as the beſt poem to which France has [Page 197] given birth, was firſt publiſhed in 1674. It is with great reaſon and juſtice that Voltaire confeſſes the Lutrin inferior to the Rape of the Lock. Few Poets can be ſo properly compared as Pope and Boileau; and, wherever their writings will admit of compariſon, we may, without any national partiality, adjudge the ſuperiority to the Engliſh Bard. Theſe two great authors reſembled each other as much in the integrity of their lives, as in the ſubjects and execution of their ſeveral compoſitions. There are two actions recorded of Boileau, which ſufficiently prove that the inexorable Satiriſt had a moſt generous and friendly heart; when Patru, the celebrated Advocate, who was ruined by his paſſion for literature, found himſelf under the painful neceſſity of ſelling his expenſive library, and had almoſt agreed to part with it for a moderate ſum, Boileau gave him a much ſuperior price; and, after paying the money, added this condition to the purchaſe, that Patru ſhould retain, during his life, the poſſeſſion of the books. The ſucceeding inſtance of the Poet's generoſity is yet nobler.—when it was rumoured at court that the King intended to retrench the penſion of Corneille, Boileau haſtened to Madame de Monteſpan, and ſaid, that his Sovereign, equitable as he was, could not, without injuſtice, grant a penſion to an author like himſelf, juſt aſcending Parnaſſus, [Page 198] and take it from Corneille, who had ſo long been ſeated on the ſummit; that he entreated her, for the honour of the King, to prevail on his Majeſty rather to ſtrike off his penſion, than to withdraw that reward from a man whoſe title to it was incomparably greater; and that he ſhould more eaſily conſole himſelf under the loſs of that diſtinction, than under the affliction of ſeeing it taken away from ſuch a Poet as Corneille. This magnanimous application had the ſucceſs which it deſerved, and it appears the more noble, when we recollect that the rival of Corneille was the intimate friend of Boileau.

The long and unreſerved intercourſe which ſubſiſted between our Poet and Racine was highly beneficial and honourable to both. The dying farewell of the latter is the moſt expreſſive eulogy on the private character of Boileau: Je regarde comme un bonheur pour moi de mourir avant vous, ſaid the tender Racine, in taking a final leave of his faithful and generous friend. NOTE XV. VERSE 313.
Nor, gentle Greſſet, ſhall thy ſprightly rhyme.]

This elegant and amiable writer was born at Amiens, and educated in the ſociety of the Jeſuits, to whom he has paid a grateful compliment in bidding [Page 199] them adieu. At the age of twenty-ſix he publiſhed his Ver-vert, a poem in four cantos, which commemorates

La cauſe infortunée
D'un Perroquet non moins brillant qu' Enée:
Non moins dévot, plus malheureux que lui.

Voltaire has ſpoken invidiouſly of this delightful performance; but a ſpirited French Critic has very juſtly vindicated the merits of Greſſet in the following remark:—‘Le Ver-vert ſera toujours un poeme charmant et inimitable, ſans ſouiller ſa plume par l'impiété et la licence qui deſhonorent celle de l'auteur de La Pucelle, le Poete a ſu y répandre un agrément, une fraîcheur et une vivacité de coloris, qui le rendent auſſi piquant dans les détails, qu'il eſt riche et ingénieux dans la fiction. On placera toujours cet agreable badinage parmi les productions originales, propres à faire aimer des etrangers la gaieté Françoiſe en écartant toute mauvaiſe idée de nos moeurs.’ NOTE XVI. VERSE 325.
See lovely Boccage, in ambition ſtrong.]

Madame du Boccage is known to the Engliſh reader as the correſpondent of Lord Cheſterfield. This ingenious and ſpirited Lady has written three poems of [Page 200] the Epic kind—Le Paradis Terreſtre, in ſix cantos, from Milton; La Mort d'Abel, in five cantos, from Geſner; and a more original compoſition, in ten cantos, on the exploits of Columbus. I have alluded to a paſſage in the laſt poem, where Zama, the daughter of an Indian Chief, is thus deſcribed:

Comme Eve, elle etoit nue; une egale innocence
L'offre aux regards ſans honte, et voile ſes appas;
Les Graces qu'elle ignore accompagnent ſes pas,
Et pour tout vêtement, en formant ſa parure,
D'un plumage azuré couvrirent ſa ceinture.

The works of this elegant female Poet contain an animated verſion of Pope's Temple of Fame. And ſhe has added to her poetry an account of her travels through England, Holland, and Italy, in a ſeries of entertaining letters, addreſſed to Madame du Perron, her ſiſter. NOTE XVII. VERSE 344.
To ſwell the glory of her great Voltaire.]

Though the Henriade has been frequently reprinted, and the partizans of Voltaire have endeavoured to make it a national point of honour to ſupport its reputation, it ſeems at length to be ſinking under that neglect and oblivion, which never fail to overtake every feeble offspring of the Epic Muſe. [Page 201] Several of our moſt eminent Critics have attacked this performance with peculiar ſeverity, and ſome have condemned it on the moſt oppoſite principles, merely becauſe it does not coincide with their reſpective ſyſtems. Their ſentence has been paſſed only in ſhort and incidental remarks; but a French writer, inflamed by perſonal animoſity againſt Voltaire, has raiſed three octavo volumes on the defects of this ſingle poem. Mr. Clement, in his "Entretiens ſur le Poeme Epique relativement à la Henriade," has endeavoured to prove it utterly deficient in all the eſſential points of Epic poetry;—in the ſtructure of its general plan, in the conduct of its various parts, in ſentiment, in character, in ſtyle. His work indeed diſplays an acrimonious deteſtation of the Poet whom he examines; and perhaps there is hardly any human compoſition which could ſupport the ſcrutiny of ſo rigid an inquiſitor: the Henriade is utterly unequal to it; for in many articles we are obliged to confeſs, that the juſtice of the Critic is not inferior to his ſeverity. He diſcovers, in his diſſection of the Poem, the ſkill of an anatomiſt, with the malignity of an aſſaſſin. If any thing can deſerve ſuch rigorous treatment, it is certainly the artifice of Voltaire, who, in his Eſſay on Epic Poetry, has attempted, with much ingenuity, to ſink the reputation of all the great Epic Writers, that he might raiſe himſelf [Page 202] to their level; an attempt in which no author can ultimately ſucceed; for, as D'Alembert has admirabiy remarked on a different occaſion, ‘Le public laiſſera l'amour propre de chaque ecrivain faire ſon plaidoyer, rira de leurs efforts, non de genie, mais de raiſonnement, pour hauſſer leur place, et finira par mettre chacun à la ſienne.’ NOTE XVIII. VERSE 475.
And, ſhrouded in a miſt of moral ſpleen.]

It ſeems to be the peculiar infelicity of Pope, that his moral virtues have had a tendency to diminiſh his poetical reputation. Poſſeſſing a benevolent ſpirit, and wiſhing to make the art to which he devoted his life, as ſerviceable as he could to the great intereſts of mankind, he ſoon quitted the higher regions of poetry, for the more level, and more frequented field of Ethics and of Satire. He declares, with a noble pride ariſing from the probity of his intention,

That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But ſtoop'd to truth, and moraliz'd his ſong.
The ſeverity of Criticiſm has from hence inferred, that his imagination was inferior to the other faculties of his mind, and that he poſſeſſed not that vigour of genius which might enable him to rank with our more ſublime and pathetic Bards. This [Page 203] inference appears to me extremely defective both in candour and in reaſon; it would ſurely be more generous, and I will venture to add, more juſt, to aſſign very different cauſes for his having latterly applied himſelf to moral and ſatyric compoſition. If his preceding poems diſplayed only a moderate portion of fancy and of tenderneſs, we might indeed very fairly conjecture, that he quitted the kind of poetry, where theſe qualities are particularly required, becauſe Nature directed him to ſhine only as the Poet of reaſon.—But his earlier productions will authorize an oppoſite concluſion. At an age when few authors have produced any capital work, Pope gave the world two poems, one the offspring of imagination, and the other of ſenſibility, which will ever ſtand at the head of the two poetical claſſes to which they belong: his Rape of the Lock, and his Eloiſe, have nothing to fear from any rivals, either of paſt or of future time. When a writer has diſplayed ſuch early proofs of exquiſite fancy, and of tender enthuſiaſm, thoſe great conſtituents of the real Poet, ought we not to regret that he did not give a greater ſcope and freer exerciſe to theſe qualities, rather than to aſſert that he did not poſſeſs them in a ſuperlative degree? Why then, it may be aſked, did he confine himſelf to compoſitions in which theſe have little ſhare? The life and character of Pope will perfectly explain [Page 204] the reaſons, why he did not always follow the higher ſuggeſtions of his own natural genius. He had entertained an opinion, that by ſtooping to truth, and employing his talents on the vices and follies of the paſſing time, he ſhould be moſt able to benefit mankind. The idea was perhaps ill-founded, but his conduct in conſequence of-it was certainly noble. Its effects however were moſt unhappy; for it took from him all his enjoyment of life, and may injure, in ſome degree, his immortal reputation: by ſuffering his thoughts to dwell too much on knaves and fools, he fell into the ſplenetic deluſion, that the world is nothing but a compound of vice and folly; and from hence he has been reproached for ſuppoſing that all human merit was confined to himſelf, and to a few of his moſt intimate correſpondents.

There was an amiable peculiarity in the character of Pope, which had great influence both on his conduct and compoſition—he embraced the ſentiments of thoſe he loved with a kind of ſuperſtitious regard; his imagination and his judgment were perpetually the dupes of an affectionate heart: it was this which led him, at the requeſt of his idol Bolingbroke, to write a ſublime poem on metaphyſical ideas which he did not perfectly comprehend; it was this which urged him almoſt to quarrel with Mr. Allen, in compliance with the caprices of a [Page 205] female friend; it was this which induced him, in the warmth of gratitude, to follow the abſurd hints of Warburton with all the blindneſs of infatuated affection. Whoever examines the life and writings of Pope with a minute and unprejudiced attention, will find that his excellencies, both as a Poet and a Man, were peculiarly his own; and that his failings were chiefly owing to the ill judgment, or the artifice, of his real and pretended friends. The laviſh applauſe and the advice of his favourite Atterbury, were perhaps the cauſe of his preſerving the famous character of Addiſon, which, finely written as it is, all the lovers of Pope muſt wiſh him to have ſuppreſſed. Few of his friends had integrity or frankneſs ſufficient to perſuade him, that his ſatires would deſtroy the tranquillity of his life, and cloud the luſtre of his fame: yet, to the honour of Lyttelton, be it remembered, that he ſuggeſted ſuch ideas to the Poet, in the verſes which he wrote to him from Rome, with all the becoming zeal of enlightened friendſhip:

No more let meaner Satire dim the rays
That flow majeſtic from thy nobler bays!
In all the flowery paths of Pindus ſtray,
But ſhun that thorny, that unpleaſing way!
Nor, when each ſoft, engaging Muſe is thine,
Addreſs the leaſt attractive of the Nine!

[Page 206] This generous admonition did not indeed produce its intended effect, for other counſellors had given a different bias to the mind of the Poet, and the malignity of his enemies had exaſperated his temper; yet he afterwards turned his thoughts towards the compoſition of a national Epic poem, and poſſibly in conſequence of the hint which this Epiſtle of Lyttelton contains. The intention was formed too late, for it aroſe in his decline of life. Had he poſſeſſed health and leiſure to execute ſuch a work, I am perſuaded it would have proved a glorious acquiſition to the literature of our country: the ſubject indeed which he had choſen muſt be allowed to have an unpromiſing appearance; but the opinion of Addiſon concerning his Sylphs, which was ſurely honeſt, and not invidious, may teach us hardly ever to decide againſt the intended works of a ſuperior genius. Yet in all the Arts, we are perpetually tempted to pronounce ſuch deciſions. I have frequently condemned ſubjects which my friend Romney had ſelected for the pencil; but in the ſequel, my opinion only proved that I was near-ſighted in thoſe regions of imagination, where his keener eyes commanded all the proſpect.

[Page 207] NOTE I. VERSE 103.
PROCEED, ye Siſters of the tuneful Shell.]

For the advice which I have thus ventured to give ſuch of my fair readers as have a talent for poetry, I ſhall produce them a much higher poetical authority. In the age of Petrarch, an Italian Lady, named Giuſtina Perrot, was deſirous of diſtinguiſhing herſelf by this pleaſing accompliſhment; but the remarks of the world, which repreſented it [Page 208] as improper for her ſex, diſcouraged her ſo far, that ſhe was almoſt tempted to relinquiſh her favourite purſuit. In her doubts on this point, ſhe conſulted the celebrated Poet of her country in an [Page 209] elegant Sonnet; and received his anſwer on the intereſting ſubject in the ſame poetical form. I ſhall add the two Sonnets, with an imitation of each:

[Page 208]
IO vorrei pur drizzar queſte mie piume
Colà, Signor, dove il deſio n'invita,
E dopo morte rimaner' in vita
Col chiaro di virtute inclyto lume
Ma' volgo inerte, che dal rio coſtume
Vinto, ha d' ogni ſuo ben la via ſmarrita,
Come degna di biaſmo ogn' hor m' addita
Ch' ir tenti d' Elicona al ſacro fiume.
All ago, al fuſo, piu ch' al lauro, o al mirto,
Come che qui non ſia la gloria mia,
Vuol ch' habbia ſempre queſta mente inteſa.
Dimmi tu hormai, che per piu dritta via
A Parnaſſo t' en vai, nobile ſpirto,
Dovrò dunque laſciar ſi degna impreſa?
[Page 210]
LA gola, e 'l ſonno, e l' ozioſe piume
Hanno del mondo ogni virtù ſbandita,
Ond' è dal corſo ſuo quaſi ſmarrita
Noſtra natura vinta dal coſtume:
Ed è ſi ſpento ogni benigno lume
Del ciel, per cui s' informa umana vita,
Che per coſa mirabile s' addita
Chi vuol far d' Elicona naſcer fiume.
Qual vaghezza di lauro, qual di mirto?
Povera e nuda vai filoſofia,
Dice la turba al vil guadagno inteſa.
Pochi compagni avrai per l'altra via
Tanto ti prego più, gentile ſpirto,
Non laſciar la magnanima tua impreſa!
[Page 209]
GLADLY would I exchange inglorious eaſe
For future fame, the Poet's fond deſire!
And ſtill to live, in ſpite of death, aſpire
By Virtue's light, that darkneſs cannot ſeize:
But, ſtupified by Cuſtom's blank decrees,
The idle vulgar, void of liberal fire,
Bid me, with ſcorn, from Helicon retire,
And rudely blame my generous hope to pleaſe.
Diſtaffs, not laurels, to your ſex belong,
They cry—as honour were beyond our view:
To ſuch low cares they wiſh my ſpirit bent.
Say thou! who marcheſt, 'mid the favor'd few,
To high Parnaſſus, with triumphant ſong,
Should I abandon ſuch a fair intent?
[Page 211]
LUXURIOUS pleaſure, and lethargic eaſe
Have deaden'd in the world each bright deſire:
Our thoughts no more with Nature's force aſpire;
Cuſtom's cold powers the drooping fancy ſeize:
So loſt each light that taught the ſoul to pleaſe,
Each heavenly ſpark of life-directing fire,
That all, who join the Heliconian choir,
Are frantic deem'd by Folly's dull decrees.
What charms, what worth to Laurel-wreaths belong?
Naked and poor Philoſophy we view,
Exclaims the crowd, on fordid gain intent.—
Aſſociates in thy path thou'lt find but few;
The more I pray thee, Nymph of graceful ſong,
Indulge thy ſpirit in its noble bent! NOTE II. VERSE 210.
[Page 210]
As wounded Learning bluſhes to recite!]

Milton ſold the copy of Paradiſe Loſt for the ſum of five pounds, on the condition of receiving fifteen [Page 211] pounds more at three ſubſequent periods, to be regulated by the ſale of the Poem.—For the ceiling at Whitehall, Rubens received three thouſand pounds. NOTE III. VERSE 298.
[Page 212]
Receive the Laurel from Imperial Charles!]

Arioſto is ſaid to have been publicly crowned with laurel at Mantua, by the Emperor Charles the Vth, towards the end of the year 1532. This fact has been diſputed by various writers, but it ſeems to be ſufficiently eſtabliſhed by the reſearches of Mazzuchelli.

The cuſtom of crowning Poets with laurel is almoſt as ancient as poetry itſelf, ſays the Abbé du Reſnel, in his Recherches ſur les Poetes couronnez, a work which contains but ſcanty information on this curious topic. Petrarch is generally ſuppoſed to have revived this ancient ſolemnity, which had been aboliſhed as a pagan inſtitution in the reign of the Emperor Theodoſius. It appears however, from two paſſages in the writings of Boccacio, that Dante had entertained ſerious thoughts of this honourable diſtinction, which his exile precluded him from receiving, as he choſe, ſays his Biographer, to be crown'd only in his native city.

An amuſing volume might be written on the honours which have been paid to Poets in different ages, and in various parts of the world. It is remarkable, that the moſt unpoliſhed nations have been the moſt laviſh in rewarding their Bards. [Page 213] There are two inſtances on record, in which poetical talents have raiſed their poſſeſſors even to ſovereign dominion. The Scythians choſe the Poet Thamyris for their king, though he was not a native of their country, ‘ [...].’ Hiſt. Poet. Script. Edit. Gale, p. 250. Saxo Grammaticus begins the ſixth book of his Hiſtory by relating, that the Danes beſtowed their vacant diadem on the Poet Hiarnus, as a reward for his having compoſed the beſt epitaph on their deceaſed ſovereign Frotho. From the four Latin verſes which the Hiſtorian has given us, as a tranſlation of this extraordinary epitaph, we may venture to affirm, that the poetical monarch obtained his crown on very eaſy conditions. NOTE IV. VERSE 314.
For him her fountains guſh with golden ſtreams.]

Of the great wealth which flowed into the hands of this extraordinary Poet, his friend and biographer Montalvan has given a particular account. This author concludes that Lope de Vega gained by his dramatic works alone a ſum nearly equal to 20,000 pounds ſterling; the revenue ariſing from [Page 214] the poſts he held, and from his penſion, was very conſiderable. His opulence was much encreaſed by the moſt ſplendid inſtances of private liberality. He received many coſtly preſents from various characters to whom he was perſonally unknown; and he was himſelf heard to ſay, in ſpeaking of his generous patron, that the Duke of Seſſa alone had given him, at different periods of his life, ſums almoſt amounting to ſix thouſand pounds.

It muſt be confeſſed, that the noble patrons of Engliſh poetry have not equalled this example of Spaniſh munificence, even if we admit the truth of our traditionary anecdotes concerning the generoſity of Lord Southampton to Shakeſpeare, and of Sir Philip Sidney to Spenſer. Conſidering the liberality for which our nation is ſo juſtly celebrated, it is remarkable, that not a ſingle Engliſh Poet appears to have been enriched by our monarchs: yet Spenſer had every claim to the bounty of Elizabeth; he ſung her praiſes in a ſtrain which might gratify her pride; and of all who have flattered the great, he may juſtly be conſidered as the moſt worthy of reward. His ſong was the tribute of his heart as well as of his fancy, and the ſex of his idol may be ſaid to purify his incenſe from all the offenſive particles of ſervile adulation. The neglect which he experienced from the vain, imperious, [Page 215] and ungrateful Elizabeth, appears the more ſtriking, when we recollect, that her lovely rival, the beautiful and unfortunate Queen of Scots, ſignalized her ſuperior generoſity by a magnificent preſent of plate to the French Poet Ronſard. This neglected Bard was once the darling of France, and perhaps equalled Lope de Vega in the honours which he received: his ſovereign, Charles the Ninth, compoſed ſome elegant verſes in his praiſe, and the city of Toulouſe preſented him with a Minerva of maſſive ſilver.

If our princes and nobles have not equalled thoſe of other kingdoms in liberality to the great Poets of their country, England may yet boaſt the name of a private gentleman, who diſcovered in this reſpect a moſt princely ſpirit; no nation, either ancient or modern, can produce an example of munificence more truly noble then the annual gratuity which Akenſide received from Mr. Dyſon; a tribute of generous and affectionate admiration, endeared to its worthy poſſeſſor by every conſideration which could make it honourable both to himſelf and to his patron!

It has been lately lamented by an elegant and accompliſhed writer, who had too much reaſon for the complaint, that ‘"the profeſſion of Literature, by far the moſt laborious of any, leads to no [Page 216] real benefit."’ Experience undoubtedly proves that it has a general tendency to impoveriſh its votaries; and the legiſlators of every country would act perhaps a wiſe, at all events an honourable part, if they corrected this tendency, by eſtabliſhing public emoluments for ſuch as eminently diſtinguiſh themſelves in the various branches of ſcience. It is ſurely poſſible to form ſuch an eſtabliſhment, which, without proving a national burthen, might aggrandize the literary glory of the nation, by preſerving her men of letters from the evils ſo frequently connected with their purſuits, by ſecuring, to thoſe who deſerve it, the poſſeſſion of eaſe and honour, without damping their emulation, or deſtroying their independence.

[Page 217] NOTE I. VERSE 76.
THE looſe Petronius gave the maxim birth.]

Ariſtotle has ſaid but little, in his Poetics, concerning that weighty point, which has ſo much employed and embarraſſed the modern Critics—the machinery of the Epic poem; and the little which he has ſaid might rather furniſh an argument for its excluſion, than juſtify its uſe. But Rome, in her moſt degenerate days, produced a writer, to whoſe authority, contemptible as it is, moſt frequent appeals have been made in this curious literary [Page 218] queſtion. In almoſt every modern author who has touched, however ſlightly, on Epic poetry, we may find at leaſt ſome part of the following ſentence from Petronius Arbiter:—‘Ecce, belli civilis ingens opus quiſquis attigerit, niſi plenus litteris, ſub onere labetur. Non enim res geſtae verſibus comprehendendae ſunt, quod longe melius hiſtorici faciunt; ſed per ambages, deorumque miniſteria, & fabuloſum ſententiarum tormentum praecipitandus eſt liber ſpiritus; ut potius furentis animi vaticinatio appareat, quam religioſae orationis ſub teſtibus fides.’

Theſe remarks on the neceſſity of celeſtial agents, were evidently made to depreciate the Pharſalia of Lucan; and Petronius may be called a fair Critic, as Pope ſaid of Milbourne, on his oppoſition to Dryden, becauſe he produces his own poetry in contraſt to that which he condemns. His ſpecimen of the manner in which he thought an Epic poem ſhould be conducted, ſufficiently proves the abſurdity of his criticiſm; for how inſipid is the fable in thoſe verſes which he has oppoſed to the Pharſalia, when compared to the firſt book of Lucan! Yet the Epic compoſition of Petronius has not wanted admirers: a Dutch Commentator is bold enough to ſay, that he prefers this ſingle rhapſody to three hundred volumes of ſuch poetry as [Page 219] Lucan's: an opinion which can only lead us to exclaim with Boileau,‘Un ſot trouve toujours un plus ſot qui l'admire.’

If men of letters, in the age of Lucan, differed in their ſentiments concerning machinery, the great changes that have ſince happened in the world, and the diſquiſitions which have appeared on the ſubject, are very far from having reconciled the judgment of modern writers on this important article. Two eminent Critics of the preſent time have delivered opinions on this topic ſo ſingularly oppoſite to each other, that I ſhall tranſcribe them both.

‘"In a theatrical entertainment, which employs both the eye and the ear, it would be a groſs abſurdity to introduce upon the ſtage ſuperior Beings in a viſible ſhape. There is not place for ſuch objection in an Epic poem; and Boileau, with many other Critics, declares ſtrongly for that ſort of machinery in an Epic poem. But waving authority, which is apt to impoſe upon the judgment, let us draw what light we can from reaſon. I begin with a preliminary remark, that this matter is but indiſtinctly handled [Page 220] by Critics. The poetical privilege of animating inſenſible objects for enlivening a deſcription, is very different from what is termed machinery, where deities, angels, devils, or other ſupernatural powers, are introduced as real perſonages, mixing in the action, and contributing to the cataſtrophe; and yet theſe two things are conſtantly jumbled together in the reaſoning. The former is founded on a natural principle; but can the latter claim the ſame authority? So far from it, that nothing is more unnatural. Its effects at the ſame time are deplorable. Firſt, it gives an air of fiction to the whole, and prevents that impreſſion of reality which is requiſite to intereſt our affections, and to move our paſſions; which of itſelf is ſufficient to explode machinery, whatever entertainment it may afford to readers of a fantaſtic taſte or irregular imagination. And next, were it poſſible, by diſguiſing the fiction, to delude us into a notion of reality, which I think can hardly be, an inſuperable objection would ſtill remain, which is, that the aim or end of an Epic poem can never be attained in any perfection where machinery is introduced; for an evident reaſon, that virtuous emotions cannot be raiſed ſucceſsfully, but by the actions of thoſe who are endued [Page 221] with paſſions and affections like our own, that is, by human actions: and as for moral inſtruction, it is clear that none can be drawn from Beings who act not upon the ſame principles with us. Homer, it is true, introduces the Gods into his fable; but the religion of his country authorized that liberty; it being an article in the Grecian creed, that the Gods often interpoſe viſibly and bodily in human affairs. I muſt, however, obſerve, that Homer's Deities do no honour to his poems. Fictions that tranſgreſs the bounds of nature ſeldom have a good effect; they may inflame the imagination for a moment, but will not be reliſhed by any perſon of a correct taſte. They may be of ſome uſe to the lower rank of writers; but an author of genius has much finer materials of nature's production for elevating his ſubject, and making it intereſting.—Voltaire, in his Eſſay upon Epic Poetry, talking of the Pharſalia, obſerves judiciouſly, that the proximity of time, the notoriety of events, the character of the age, enlightened and political, joined with the ſolidity of Lucan's ſubject, deprived him of all liberty of poetical fiction. Is it not amazing, that a Critic who reaſons ſo juſtly with reſpect to others, can be ſo [Page 222] blind with reſpect to himſelf? Voltaire, not ſatisfied to enrich his language with images drawn from inviſible and ſuperior Beings, introduces them into the action. In the ſixth canto of the Henriade, St. Louis appears in perſon, and terrifies the ſoldiers; in the ſeventh canto, St. Louis ſends the God of Sleep to Henry; and in the tenth, the demons of Diſcord, Fanaticiſm, War, &c. aſſiſt Aumale in a ſingle combat with Turenne, and are driven away by a good angel brandiſhing the ſword of God. To blend ſuch fictitious perſonages in the ſame action with mortals, makes a bad figure at any rate, and is intolerable in a hiſtory ſo recent as that of Henry IV. This ſingly is ſufficient to make the Henriade a ſhort-lived poem, were it otherwiſe poſſeſſed of every beauty."’ Elements of Criticiſm, vol. ii. p. 389, 4th edition.

‘"The Pagan Gods and Gothic Fairies were equally out of credit when Milton wrote. He did well therefore to ſupply their room with Angels and Devils. If theſe too ſhould wear out of the popular creed (and they ſeem in a hopeful way, from the liberty ſome late Critics have taken with them) I know not what other expedients [Page 223] the Epic Poet might have recourſe to; but this I know—the Pomp of verſe, the energy of deſcription, and even the fineſt moral paintings, would ſtand him in no ſtead. Without admiration (which cannot be effected but by the marvellous of celeſtial intervention, I mean the agency of ſuperior natures really exiſting, or by the illuſion of the fancy taken to be ſo) no Epic poem can be long-lived. I am not afraid to inſtance in the Henriade itſelf, which, notwithſtanding the elegance of the compoſition, will in a ſhort time be no more read than the Gondibert of Sir W. Davenant, and for the ſame reaſon."’ Letters on Chivalry and Romance, Letter X.

I have thus ventured to confront theſe eminent critical antagoniſts, that, while they engage and overthrow each other, we may obſerve the injuſtice produced by the ſpirit of ſyſtematical criticiſm, even in authors moſt reſpectable for their talents and erudition.—Here is the unfortunate Voltaire placed between two critical fires, which equally deſtory him. The firſt Critic aſſerts that the Henriade muſt be ſhort-lived, becauſe the Poet has introduced inviſible and ſuperior agents;—the ſecond denounces the ſame fate againſt it, becauſe it wants [Page 224] the agency of ſuperior natures: yet ſurely every reader of Poetry, who is not influenced by any particular ſyſtem, will readily allow, that if Voltaire had treated his ſubject with true Epic ſpirit in all other points, neither the introduction nor the abſence of St. Louis could be ſingly ſufficient to plunge the Henriade in oblivion. Indeed the learned author, who has ſpoken in ſo peremptory a manner concerning the neceſſity of ſupernatural agents to preſerve the exiſtence of an Epic poem, appears rather unfortunate in the two examples by which he endeavours to ſupport his doctrine; for the Epic poems both of Davenant and Voltaire have ſufficient defects to account for any neglect which may be their lot, without conſidering the article of Machinery.

If I have warmly oppoſed any deciſions of this exalted Critic, it is from a perſuaſion (in which I may perhaps be miſtaken) that ſome of his maxims have a ſtrong tendency to injure an art highly dear to us both; an art on which his genius and learning have caſt many rays of pleaſing and of uſeful light. NOTE II. VERSE 166.
[Page 225]
But howling dogs the fancied Orpheus tore.]

This anecdote of Neanthus, the ſon of King Pittacus, is related by Lucian. The curious reader may find it in the ſecond volume of Dr. Francklin's ſpirited tranſlation of that lively author, page 355 of the quarto edition. NOTE III. VERSE 276.
And ſpotleſs Laurels in that field be won.]

The Indian mythology, as it has lately been illuſtrated in the writings of Mr. Holwell, is finely calculated to anſwer the purpoſe of any poetical genius who may wiſh to introduce new machinery into the ſerious Epic Poem. Beſides the powerful charm of novelty, it would have the advantage of not claſhing with our national religion; for the endeavours of Mr. Holwell to reconcile the ancient and pure doctrine of Bramah with the diſpenſation of Chriſt, have ſo far ſucceeded, that if his ſyſtem does not ſatisfy a theologiſt, it certainly affords a ſufficient baſis for the ſtructure of a Poem. In peruſing his account of the Indian ſcripture, every reader of [Page 226] imagination may, I think, perceive, that the Shaſtah might ſupply a poetical ſpirit with as rich a maſs of ideal treaſure as fancy could wiſh to work upon.—An Epic Poet, deſirous of laying the ſcene of his action in India, would be more embarraſſed to find intereſting Heroes than proper Divinities.—Had juſtice and generoſity inſpired and guided that Engliſh valour, which has ſignalized itſelf on the plains of Indoſtan; had the arms of our country been employed to deliver the native Indians from the oppreſſive uſurpation of the Mahometan powers; ſuch exploits would preſent to the Epic Muſe a ſubject truly noble, and the mythology of the Eaſt might enrich it with the moſt ſplendid decorations. Whether it be poſſible or not to find ſuch a ſubject in the records of our Indian hiſtory, I leave the reader to determine.—Our great Hiſtorian of the Roman empire has intimated, in a note to the firſt volume of his immortal work, that ‘"the wonderful expedition of Odin, which deduces the enmity of the Goths and Romans from ſo memorable a cauſe, might ſupply the noble ground-work of an Epic poem."’ The idea is certainly both juſt and ſplendid. Had Gray been ever tempted to engage in ſuch a work, he would probably have convinced us, that the Northern mythology has ſtill ſufficient power to ſeize and enchant [Page 227] the imagination, as much in Epic as in Lyric compoſition.

It may amuſe our ſpeculative Critics, to conſider how far the religious Gothic fables ſhould be introduced or rejected, to render ſuch a performance moſt intereſting to a modern reader. Few judges would agree in their ſentiments on the queſtion; and perhaps the great diſpute concerning Machinery cannot be fairly adjuſted, till ſome happy genius ſhall poſſeſs ambition and perſeverance enough to execute two Epic poems, in the one adopting and in the other rejecting, ſupernatural agents; for Reaſon alone is by no means an infallible conductor in the province of Fancy; and in the poetical as well as the philoſophical world, experiment is the ſureſt guide to truth.

Fabricius calls him Epiſcopus Magalonenſis. Bib. Lat. tom. ii. p. 255.
Eſte es el cierto y verdadero cuento,
De la famoſa Dido disfamada
Que Virgilio Maron ſin miramiento
Falſeó ſu hiſtoria y caſtidad preciada
Por dar a ſus ficciones ornamento
Pues vemos que eſta Reyna importunada
Pudiéndoſe caſar y no quemarſe
Antes quemarſe quiſo, que caſarſe.