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The Lament of Tasso.
the indignation of the spectator. Ferrara is much decayed, and depopulated : the castle still exists en
tire; and I saw the court where Parisina and Hugo | Ar Ferrara, in the Library, are preserved the ori.
were beheaded, according to the annal of Gibbon.(1) ginal MSS. of Tasso's Gerusalemme and of Guari| ni's Pastor Fido, with letters of Tasso, one from Titian to Ariosto, and the inkstand and chair, the tomb and the house of the latter. Bat, as misfortune has THE LAMENT OF TASSO. a greater interest for posterity, and little or none for the cotemporary, the cell where Tasso was confined in the hospital of St. Anna attracts a more fixed attention than the residence or the monument of Ariosto Long years !-It tries the thrilling frame to bear,
at least it had this effect on me. There are two And eagle-spirit of a Child of Song-
I (1) The original MS. of this poem is dated, “The Apen. pride of his intellect often vainly strove to scorn ; and be sines, April 20, 1817. It was written in consequence dashed the weakness froin his heart, and the tear from his of Lord Byron having visited Ferrara, for a single day, eyes, like a man suddenly assailed by feelings which he on his way to Florence. In a letter from Rome, he wished to hide, and which, though true to his nature, were 1998,- "The Lament of Tasso, which I sent from Florence, inconsistent with the character which that mysterious na. has, I trust, arrived. I look upon it as a "These be good ture had been forced, as in self-defence, to assume. rhymes as Pope's papa said to him when he was a boy." “But there is one poem in which he has almost wholly laid
aside all remembrance of the darker and stormier passions ; "In a moment of dissatisfaction with himself, or during
in which the tone of his spirit and his voice at once is romle melancholy mood, when his soul felt the worthless.
changed, and where he who seemed to care only for ago. less of fame and glory, Lord Byron told the world that
nies, and remorse, and despair, and death, and insanity, in his Moge should, for a long season, shroud herself in 80
all their most appalling forms, shows that he has a heart Itade, and every true lover of genius lamented that her
that can feed on the purest sympathies of our nature, and lofty music was to cease. But there was a tide in his
deliver itself up to the sorrows, the sadness, and the melanspirit obeying the laws of its nature, and not to be con
choly of bumbler souls. The Prisoner of Chillon is a poem trolled by any human will. When he said that he was to
over which Infancy has shed its first mysterious tears for i be silent, be looked, perhaps, into the inner regions of his
sorrows so alien to its own happy innocence, -over which soal, and saw there a dim, hard, and cheerless waste, like the sand of the sea-shore; but the ebbed waves of passion
the gentle, pure, and pious soul of Woman has brooded
with ineffable, and yearning, and bursting tenderness of af. is dee course returned, and the scene was restored to its
fection, and over which old Age, almost loosened from this farrer beauty and magnificence,-its foam, its splendours,
world, bas bowed his hoary head in delighted approbation and its thunder. The mind of a mighty poet cannot submit
of that fraternal love, whose beauty and simplicity fling a even to chains of its own imposing: when it feels most en.
radiance over the earth he is about to leave, and exhibit slaved, even then, perhaps, is it about to become most free;
our fallen nature in near approximation to the glories of its and one sudden flash may raise it from the darkness of its
ultimate destiny. The Lament possesses much of the ten. despondency up to the pure air of untroubled confidence. It
derness and pathos of the Prisoner of Chillon. Lord Byron required, therefore, but small knowledge of human nature,
has not delivered himself onto any one wild and fearful vi. to assure ourselves that the obligation under which Lord Byron bad laid himself could not bind, and that the potent
sion of the imprisoned Tasso, he has not dared to allow
himself to rush forward with headlong passion into the 1 spirit within him would laugh to scorn whatever dared to carb the frenzy of its own inspirations.
horrors of bis dungeon, and to describe, as he could fear.
fully have done, the conflict and agony of his uttermost "It was not long, therefore, till he again came forth in bis
despair,- but he shows us the poet sitting in his cell, and perfeet strength, and exercised that dominion over our spi singing there-a low, melancholy, wailing lament, somerits which is truly a power too noble to be possessed without
times, indeed, bordering on utter wretchedness, but oftener being wielded. Though all bis heroes are of one family, yet partaking of a settled grief, occasionally subdued into mournare they a noble band of brothers, whose countenances and
ful resignation, cheered by delightful remembrances, and wbose souls are strongly distinguished by peculiar cbaracter.
elevated by the confident hope of an immortal fame. His istics. Each personage, as he advances before us, reminds
is the gathered grief of many years, over which his soul has os of some other being, whose looks, thoughts, words, and brooded, till she has in some measure lost the power of Beeds had troubled us by their wild and perturbed grandeur.
misery; and this soliloquy is one which we can believe he but though all the same, yet are they all strangely differ
might have uttered to himself any morning, or noon, or eat. We hail each successive existence with a profounder
night of his solitude, as he seemed to be half communing sympathy; and we are lost in wonder, in fear, and in sorrow,
with own heart, and half addressing the ear of that human utbe infinitely-varied struggles, the endless and agonising nature from which he was shut out, but of which he felt the modifications of the human passions, as they drive along continual and abiding presence within his imagination.”through every gate and avenue of the soul, darkening or Vilson.-L. E. brightening, elevating or laying prostrate.
(2) Tasso's biographer, the Abate Serassi, has left it "From such agitating and terrific pictures, it is delightful without doubt, that the first cause of the poet's punishment to turn to those compositions in which Lord Byron has al. was his desire to be occasionally, or altogether, free from lowed his soul to sink down into gentler and more ordinary his servitude at the court of Alfonso. In 1575, Tasso Teelings. Many beautiful and pathetic strains bave flowed resolved to visit Rome, and enjoy the indulgence of the jufrom his beart, of which the tenderness is as touching as bilee; "and this error," says the Abate, increasing the the grandeur of his nobler works is agitating and sublime. suspicion already entertained, that he was in search of anTo those, indeed, who looked deeply into his poetry, there other service, was the origin of his misfortunes, On his Leser was at any time a want of pathos; but it was a pathos return to Ferrara, the Duke refused to admit him to an
subduing and so profound, that even the poet bimself audience, and he was repulsed from the houses of all the seemed afraid of being delivered up unto it; nay, he seemed dependants of the court; and not one of the promises which ashamed of being overcome by emotions, whicb the gloomy | the Cardinal Albano had obtained for him were carried into effect. Then it was that Tasso-after having suffered these hardships for some time, seeing himself constantly discountenanced by the Duke and the Princesses, abandoned by his friends, and derided by his enemies--could no longer contain himself within the bounds of moderation, but, giving vent to his choler, publicly broke forth into the most injurious expressions imaginable, both against the Duke and all the house of Este, cursing his past service, and retracting all the praises he had ever given in his verses to those princes, or to any individual connected with them, declaring that they were all a gang of poltroons, ingrates, and scoundrels (poltroni, ingrati, e ribaldi). For this of fence he was arrested, conducted to the hospital of St. Anna, and confined in a solitary cell as a madman." Serassi, Vita del Tasso.-L.E.
And the mind's canker in its savage mood,
Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
pass'd; 'Mid sights and sounds like these my life may close: So let it be-for then I shall repose. was carried into effect at the intercession of Don Vincenzo Gonzago, Prince of Mantua.” Hobhouse. -LE
(2) “The opening lines bring the poet before us at once, as if the door of the dungeon was thrown open. From this bitter complaint, how nobly the unconquered bard rises into calm, and serene, and dignified exultation over the beauty of that young creation, his soul's child,' the Gerusalemme Liberata. The exultation of conscious genios then dies away, and we behold him, 'bound between dis. traction and disease,' no longer in an inspired mood, but sunk into the lowest prostration of human misery. There is something terrible in this transition from divine rapture to degraded agony.” Wilson.--LE.
(3) in a letter to his friend Scipio Gonzaga, shortly after his confinement, Tasso exclaims,-"Ah, wretched me! I had designed to write, besides two epic poems of most noble ar. gument, four tragedies, of which I had formed the plan. I had scbemed, too, many works in prose, on subjects the most lofty, and most useful to human life; I had designed to write philosophy with eloquence, in such a manner that there might remain of me an eternal memory in the world. Alas! I had expected to close my life with glory and renown; but now, oppressed by the burden of so many calamities, I have lost every prospect of reputation and of honour. The fear of perpetual imprisonment increases my melancholy; the indignities which I suffer augment it; and the squalor of my beard, my hair, and habit, the sordidness and filth, exceedingly annoy me. Sure am I that, if sur, who so little has corresponded to my attachment-if she saw me in such a state, and in such amiction-she would have some compassion on me." Opere, t. X. p. 387.-L.E.
(4) "For nearly the first year of his confinement Tasso endured all the horrors of a solitary cell, and was under the care of a gaoler whose chief virtue, although he was a poet and a man of letters, was a cruel obedience to the
(1) win the hospital of St. Anna, at Ferrara, they show a cell, over the door of which is the following inscription : - Rispettate, 0 posteri, la celebrità di questa stanza, dove Torquato Tasso, infermo più di tristezza che delirio, ditenuto dimorò anni vii. mesi ii., scrisse verse e prose, e fu ri. messo in libertà ad instanza della città di Bergamo, nel giorno vi. Luglio, 1586,'--The dungeou is below the groundfloor of the hospital, and the light penetrates through its grated window from a small yard, which seems to have been common to other cells. It is nine pacés long, between five and six wide, and about seven feet high. The bedstead, so they tell, has been carried off piecemeal, and the door half cut away by the devotion of those whom the verse and prose' of the prisoner have brought to Ferrara. The poet was confined in this room from the middle of March 1679 to December 1580, when he was removed to a contiguous apartment much larger, in which, to use his own expres. sions, he could philosophise and walk about.' The inscription is incorrect as to the immediate cause of his enlargement, which was promised to the city of Bergamo, but
I have been patient, let me be so yet,
And yet my love without ambition grew;
And yet I did not veuture to repine.
VI It is no marvel—from my very birth My soul was drunk with love, which did pervade And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth; of objects all inanimate I made Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers, And rocks, whereby they grew, a paradise, Where I did lay me down within the shade Of waving trees, and dream'd uncounted hours, (5) Though I was chid for wandering; and the wise Shook their white aged beads o'er me, and said Of such materials wretched men were made, And such a truant boy would end in woe, And that the only lesson was a blow;And then they smote me, and I did not weep, But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt Return'd and wept alone, and dream'd again The visions which arise without a sleep.
Look on a love whicb knows not to despair, (3)
commands of his prince. His name was Agostino Mosti. Tango says of him, in a letter to his sister, ed usa meco ogni sorte di rigore ed inamanità,'" Hobhouse.-L.E.
U "This fearful picture is finely contrasted with that which Tasso draws of bimself in youth, when nature and meditation were forming his wild, romantic, and impassioned genios. Indeed, the great excellence of the La. Rest consists in the ebbing and flowing of the noble prison. eri soal;his feelings often come suddeply from afar off,
sometimes gentle airs are breathing, and then all at once The Ibe storins and tempest,--the gloom, though black as ught while it endures, gives way to frequent bursts of radiance,--and wben the wild strain is closed, our pity and commiseration are blended with a sustaining and elevating Sense of the grandeur and majesty of his character." Wilson.-L.E.
(2) Not long after his imprisonment, Tasso appealed to de mercy of Alfonso, in a canzone of great beauty, couched in terms so respectful and pathetic, as must have moved, it might be thought, the severest bosom to relent. The heart of Alfonso was, however, impregnable to the appeal; and Tasso, in another ode to the princesses, whose pity he invoked in the name of their own mother, who had berself known, if not the like borrors, the like solitude of imprisonment, and bitterness of soul. Considered merely as
poems," says Black, " these canzoni are extremely beautiful; but, if we contemplate them as the productions of a mind diseased, they form important documents in the history of man." Life of Tasso, vol. ii. p. 408.-L.E.
(3) “As to the indifference which the Princess is said to have exhibited for the misfortunes of Tasso, and the little effort she made to obtain his liberty, this is one of the negative arguments founded on an hypothesis, that may be easily destroyed by a thousand others equally plausible. Was not the Princess anxious to avoid her own ruin? In taking too warm an interest for the poet, did she not risk destroying herself, without saving him?" Foscolo.-L. E.
14) “Tasso's profound and unconquerable love for Leonora, sustaining itself without hope throughout years of darkness and solitude, breathes a moral dignity over all his senti. ments, and we feel the strength and power of his noble spirit in the un-upbraiding devotedness of his passion." Wilson.-L.E.
(5) It has been remarked by an anonymous author of Memoirs of Lord Byron, that “this is so far from being in character, that it is the very reverse ; for, whether Tasso was in his senses or not, if his love was sincere he would have made the object of his affection the sole theme of his meditation, instead of generalizing his passion, and talking about the original sympathies of his nature."-P.E.
| And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain; | And the whole heart exhaled into one want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved
VII. I loved all solitude—but little thonght To spend I know not what of life, remote From all communion with existence, save The maniac and his tyrant;-bad I been Their fellow, many years ere this had seen My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave, (1) But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave? Perchance in such a cell we suffer more Than the wreck'd sailor on his desert shore; The world is all before bim-mine is here, Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier. What though he perish, he may lift his eye And with a dying glance upbraid the sky I will not raise my own in such reproof, Although 't is clouded by my dungeon roof.
I once was quick in feeling—that is o'er;-
VIII. Yet do I feel at times my mind decline, (2) But with a sense of its decay:-I see Unwonted lights along my prison shine, And a strange demon, who is vexing me With pilfering pranks and petty pains, below The feeling of the healthful and the free; But much to one, who long hath suffer'd so, Sickness of heart, and narrowness of place, And all that may be borne, or can debase. I thought mine enemies had been but man, But spirits may be leagued with them-all Earth Abandons- Heaven forgets me;—in the dearth Of such defence the Powers of Evil can, It may be, tempt me further,--and prevail Against the outworn creature they assail.
(1) In the MS.
( corrupted “My mind like theirs or to its grave."--LE.
I adapted! (2) "Nor do I lament," wrote Tasso, shortly after his confinement, “ that my heart is deluged with almost con. stant misery, that my head is always heavy and often painful, that my sight and hearing are much impaired, and that all my frame is become spare and meagre; but passing all this with a short sigb, what I would bewail is the infirmity of my mind. My mind sleeps, not thinks; my fancy is chill, and forms no pictures ; my negligent senses will no longer furnish the images of things; my hand is sluggish in writing, and my pen seems as if it shrunk from the office. I feel as if I were chained in all my operations, and as if I were overcome by an unwonted numbness and oppressive stupor."-Opere, t. viji. p. 258.-L. E. (3) In the MS. "Whích nations yet shall visit for my sake."-L. E.
aster-days (4) « Those who indulge in the dreams of earthly retribution will observe, that the cruelty of Alfonso was not left without its recompense, even in his own person. He sur. vived the affection of bis subjects and of his dependants, who deserted him at his death; and suffered his body to be interred without princely or decent bonours. His last wishes were neglected; bis testament cancelled. His kinsman, Don Cæsar, shrank from the excommunication of the Vati
can, and, afer a short straggle, or rather suspense, Ferrari passed away for ever from the dominion of the house of Este.” Hobhouse.-L. E.
(5) In July, 1586, after a confinement of more than heter years, Tasso was released from his dungeon. In the Dope of receiving his mother's dowry, and of again beholding sister Cornelia, he shortly after visited Naples, where bid presence was welcomed with every demonstration of esteet and admiration. Being on a visit at Mola di Gaeta, received the following remarkable tribute of respect, Marc di Sciarra, the notorious captain of a numerous trooper banditti, hearing where the great poet wax, sent to compa ment him, and offered him not only a free passage, but pro tection by the way, and assured him that he and his fole lowers would be proud to execute his orders. See Mase Vita del Tasso, p. 219. Mr. Rogers thus introduces incident into his description of the life, fearful and fall change," of the mountain-robber :
«• Time was, the trade was nobler, if not honest;
No power in denth can tear our names apart,
Yes, Leonora! it shall be our fate
(1) In the MS.
ness, will have had this truth impressed upon their hearts (wring
in a manner never to be erased. In this vault, of which * As none in life could wrench thee from my heart."-LE. the sight makes the hardest heart shudder, the poet emrend
ployed himself in finishing and correcting his immortal epic (2) "The 'pleasares of imagination have been explained poem. Lord Byron's Lament on this subject is as sublime and justified by Addison in prose, and by Akenside in verse, and profound a lesson in morality, and in the pictares of Let there are moments of real life when its miseries and the recesses of the human soul, as it is a production most ta necessities seem to overpower and destroy them. The eloquent, most pathetic, most vigorous, and most elevating histors of mankind, however, furnishes proofs, that no bo- among the gifts of the Muse. The bosom which is not dily suffering, no adverse circumstances, operating on our touched with it-the fancy which is not warmed,- the material nature, will extinguish the spirit of imagination. understanding which is not enlightened and exalted by it, Perhaps there is no instance of this so very affecting and is not fit for human intercourse. If Lord Byron had written No very sublime as the case of Tasso. They who have seen nothing but this, to deny him the praise of a grand poet De dark, horror-striking dungeon-hole at Ferrara, in which would have been flagrant injustice or gross stupidity." he was confined seven years under the imputation of mad. Sir E. Brydges.-L.E.
A VENETIAN STORY. (1)
RosaliwD. Farewell, Monsieur Traveller: look you lisp, and wear strange suits; disable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your nativity; and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think that you have swam in a Gondola.-As You Like It, Act IV, Sc. I.
Annotation of the Commentators.
Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout The moment night with dusky mantle covers
The skies (and the more duskily the better), Some weeks before Shrove Tuesday comes about, | The time less liked by husbands than by lovers The people take their fill of recreation,
Begins, and prudery flings aside her fetter; And bay repentance, ere they grow devout,
And gaiety on restless tiptoe hovers, However high their rank, or low their station, Giggling with all the gallants who beset her; With fiddling, feasting, dancivg, drinking, masquing, And there are songs and quavers, roaring, humming, And other things which may be had for asking. | Guitars, and every other sort of strumming.
Roger Ascham, Queen Elizabeth's tutor, says, in his by Lord Byron's confession, the merit of having first intro. Moolmaster" Although I was only nine days at Venice, I duced the Bernesque style into our language ; but his per12*, is that little time, more liberty to sin, than ever I formance, entitled “ Prospectus and Specimen of an intended beard tell of in the city of London in nine years."
National Work, by William and Robert Whistlecraft, of Beppo was written at Venice, in October 1917, and ac- | Stowmarket, in Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers, in. und great popularity immediately on its publication in the tended to comprise the most interesting Particulars relating day of the following year. Lord Byron's letters show that to King Arthur and his Round Table," though it delighted be attached very little importance to it at the time. He all elegant and learned readers, obtained at the time little was not aware that he had opened a new vein, in which notice from the public at large, and is already almost for. Les genius was destined to work out some of its brightest gotten. For the causes of this failure, about which Mr. Rose Ingmaphs. "I have written," he says to Mr. Murray, “a and others have written at some length, it appears needless prema bemorous, in or after the excellent manner of Mr. to look further than the last sentence we have been quoting wastlecraft, and founded on a Venetian anecdote which from the letters of the author of the more successful Beppo, Based me. It is called Beppo--the short name for Gin Whistlecraft had the verse ; it had also the humour, the
that is, the Joe of the Italian Joseph. It has po w it, and even the poetry of the (talian model; but it labies and ferocity." Again “ Whistlecraft is my immediate wanted the life of actual manners, and the strength of stir. model, but Berni is the father of that kind of writing ; ring passions. Mr. Frere had forgot, or was, with all his wich, I think, suits our language, too, very well, we shall
genius, unfit to profit by remembering, that the poets, whose by this experiment. It will, at any rate, show that I style he was adopting, always made their style appear a Kad write cheerfully, and repel the charge of monotony and secondary matter. They never failed to embroider their Tannerisin." He wished Mr. Murray to accept of Beppo merriment on the texture of a really interesting story. Lord
free gift, or, as he chose to express it, “ as part of the Byron perceived this; and avoiding his immediate master's tract for Canto Fourth of Childe Harold;" adding, one fatal error, and at least egnalling him in the excellences
ter, "if it pleases, you shall bave more in the same which he did display, engaged at once the sympathy of hond; for 1
'; for I know the Italian way of life, and, as for the readers of every class, and became substantially the founder and the passions, I have them still in tolerable vigour," of a new species of English poetry, * Right Honourable John Hookham Frere has, then, In justice to Mr. Frere, however, whose "Specimen " has
long been out of print, we must take this opportunity of te one day received by the mail a copy of Whistlecraft's pro
showing how completely, as to style and versification, he and specimen of an intended national work, and, moved by euidens, immediately after receiving it began Beppo, which he
bad anticipated Beppo and Don Juan. In the introductions Bhished at a sitting," Gall.-P.E.
to bis cantos, and in varions detached passages of mere