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The pilgrim still should wend his way alone:
He shuns society-he seeks it not.
Tas. But ere he parts upon his weary journey, He bends once more before the holy shrine,
And mans himself for his uncertain route,
As one no more expecting to return.
Leon. O God! what voice was that? O Heaven! You are
Tas. A buried being from the grave uprisen,
And soon returning to a deeper grave.
Should remove the mask that hides my face,
Leon. Unfortunate! Oh, what a recognition!
Must Leonora meet you thus again?
Tas. That which I could not hope for has been granted
Once more my glance can lose itself in yours
Within those deep unfathomable stars,
Within whose ray my soul dissolved like gold,
I know it well.
Nothing I risk, for nothing can I lose.
Leon. Oh, that you knew all that I feel and suffer
Of all that brightest was in love and life,
clung to it in deepest misery;
It was the light that cheer'd my darken'd soul-
Rose swelling to my very head :—for this
I thank you, Leonora, even in death.
Leon. Nothing have you to thank me for, but grief.
Divinely charm'd, I deem'd myself a god
I thank thee for it, and till death will thank thee,
He raised his eyes unto the bride of Jove,
From bright Olympus down to Tartarus.
Leon. Oh, could I in one word condense my feeling,
Lay bare my being and my life before you!
Tas. To see you once-to loose the bands that held
The lips and heart in sad imprisonment ;
That was the spell that press'd upon my soul-
The longing unto death that wasted me!
God make them many-make them happy. Princess,
Leon. Betrothing? Tasso, what a word from you!
And never will be so-accept my oath.
I am not betrothed,
Tas. O now-support me now, ye heavenly powers!
Yes! my Torquato, I have loved thee much,
I love thee now, and I will ever love thee!
The same.—LUCRETIA (entering abruptly, seizes LEONORA's hand, and draws her
Luc. Your mask before your face. Fly, fly from hence.
Tas. Oh, one word more! By all the saints-remain !
TASSO. (A MASK meeting him.)
[Hurries out with Leonora.
Tus. What would you? Leave me I must go.
I see you are a pilgrim, who unthinking
Have lost your way; let me then lead you to it.
The Third Act introduces us to a
his way to his sister's residence, to seek repose beside the only relative that remains to him, and in the expectation
"That the same earth Should give him burial which first gave him birth." A very beautiful scene takes place between the poet and his devoted companion, in which he pours out his gratitude for the kindness with which she had tended him so far, and urges her to leave him and to return to her
home. Angioletta tells him that his entreaties are in vain-that her destiny and his are indissolubly linked together; and that where he goes she must follow. Tasso resumes
Tas. I stand upon the threshold of Sorrento.
A youth I left it-how do I return?
A beggar, sick-scarce master of my mind;
And glorified; for with that strain of mine
Returns Torquato Tasso to his home.
Ang. There you will see again your faithful sister; She loved you ever-she will love you still.
Tas. My heart indeed longs for her; 'tis a comfort'Tis a refreshment to my weary soul,
That, when my sun of life shall set at last,
And my day's work is done, one kindred being
You were companion of my course; you saw
No gay attendants danced before my car.
Ang. If on your way you felt distress-what then? Was not the fault your own? Have you not still Disdain'd to ask assistance from another?
Tas. That have I done; and, by my father's head,
That I have pined in want, and all but perish'd,
In days gone by! And who now cares for me?
For them I was the madman of St Anne's.
Even as men shun the contact of the infected,
So did they shrink from mine, and all because
I was no more the favourite of Ferrara.
Ang. If not the great, at least the people loves you; Have you not found your strains on every lip
Far as Italia's speech extends?
The boatman chant them to the labouring oar?
As through the mountain clefts he wound his way?
In every cottage when he knock'd for shelter?
Who bade you knock alone at princes' doors?
Where hearts did beat-by Heaven! they beat for you;
Tos. Yes! Angioletta!~ Yes! I found a heart-
Found it in prison, where I sought it not-
In this part of the play Zedlitz has, dexterously enough, introduced an incident which is said to have actually occurred to Ariosto, while acting as the Duke of Ferrara's commissary in clearing the territory of Garfagnana of banditti. Tasso is attacked by robbers: he draws his sword, and, weak as he is, defends himself with his usual courage. But, at the mention of the name of Tasso, which Angioletta utters in despair, the sword of the captain drops; he asks the forgiveness of Tasso, for having raised his sword against such a man, whose strains had penetrated
even into the fastnesses of the Abruzzi, and found an echo in the rude hearts of banditti. The robbers retire on seeing a group of peasants approaching: they, too, have heard from his servant that the poet of the Jerusalem is approaching, and they come with simple kindness and reverential humi. lity to greet his return to his home. Angioletta asks whether he does not now feel that he is revered by Italy, and that his name is not to pass away into forgetfulness, as he had despondingly anticipated. Tasso replies,—
Tas. I own my error. Man is good and noble
My heritage-my crown-shall be my song!"
The Third Act terminates with a touching scene between Tasso and his sister Cornelia, in which he compares the relief from his sufferings, which he experiences in her society, to the respite which Orestes obtains from the attacks of the Furies, when encircled by the arms of Electra.
In the Fourth Act his situation, after a residence of some time at Sorrento, is thus described in a conversation between Cornelia and Angioletta.
Cor. He moves with strange composure tow'rds the grave,
To leave unto the world, in worthiest shape,
His work-his lasting legacy of fame.
Ang. The sun's last rays, that soon will set for him,
His fame is heard, far as our tongue extends,
Wide o'er Italia's borders, far and near.
A parting gleam, however, is destined to be shed upon the close of his troubled life. The arrival of Cardinal Aldobrandini at Sorrento is announced. He comes to communicate to Tasso the invitation of Clement the VIII., that the poet would repair to Rome, and receive the laurel crown in the Capitol, in token of the respect and gratitude of his country. His persecutions from Alfonso and from the Della Crusca are at an end; and all unite in proffering to the poet their tardy reparation for the sufferings he had undergone.
Tas. Am I awake? or does the ancient night,
The sacred laurel shall surround my head-
That the world deems me worthy of such honour,
And that the after-world should recognise
Their sentence-this, I own, appears an object
Worthy a man's whole life, a cast whereon
To stake the whole revenues of the soul.
And I-where thousands fail'd-I have attain'd it
My solitary head stands out in light!
Call me not vain, if images like these
Float by, like light and many-coloured clouds
Before the glowing spirit's inner eye!
Ald. Fear it not, friend! How should I not conceive
That you are conscious of your own deserving?
That is not vanity, and pride becomes you.
Tas. He is no poet whom reward inspires;
Ald. Alas! it shines not always on the worthy.
Tas. I've been so long estranged from princely favour,
So long unused to aught of outward honour,
Its beams fall on me, as upon the blind
Falls the unwonted light-it dazzles me.
Ald. A prince-I speak of one, my worthy Tasso,
In disposition princely-one who wears
His crown within his heart-he knows full well
Is when he spreads the light of mind throughout