Графични страници
PDF файл

tor, more even than by a laboured description of the vision itself, that the narrator of such a tale must hope to excite the sympathetic awe of bis audience. Thus, in the vision so sublimely described in the book of Job, chap. iv, no external cause of terror is even sketched in outline, and our feelings of dread are only excited by the fear which came upon the spectator, and the trembling which made all his bones to shake. But the fable of Dryden combines a most impressive description of the vision, with a detailed account of its effect upon Theodore, and both united make the most admirable poem of the kind that ever was written. It is somewhat derogatory from the dignity of the apparition, that Theodore, having once witnessed its terrors, should coolly lay a scheme for converting them to his own advantage; but this is an original fault in the story, for which Dryden is not answerable. The second apparition of the infernal hunter to the assembled guests, is as striking as the first; a circumstance well worthy of notice, when we consider the difficulty and hazard of telling such a story twice. But in the second narration, the poet artfully hurries over the particulars of the lady's punishment, which were formerly given in detail, and turns the reader's attention upon the novel effect produced by it, upon theassembled guests, which is admirably described, as " a mute scene of sorrow mixed with fear.” The interruptedbanquet, the appalled gallants, and the terrified women, grouped with the felon knight, his meagre mastiffs, and mangled victim, displays the hand of the master poet. The conclusion of the story is defective from the cause already hinted at. The machinery is too powerful for the effect produced by it; a lady's hard heart might have been melted without so terrible an example of the punishment of obduracy.

It is scarcely worth while to mention, that Dryden has changed the Italian names into others better adapted to English heroic verse,


Of all the cities in Romanian lands;
The chief, and most renowned, Ravenna stands : n'
Adorned in ancient times with arms and arts, 'i '?
And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts.
But Theodore the brave, above the rest,
With gifts of fortune and of nature blessed,
The foremost place for wealth and honour held,.
And all in feats of chivalry excelled.

This noble youth to madness loved a dame,
Of high degree, Honoria was her name;
Fair as the fairest, but of haughty, mind ',
And fiercer than became so soft å kind :
Proud of her birth, (for equal she had none;)...
The rest she scorned, but hated him alone.
His gifts, his constant courtship, nothing gained
For she, the more he loved, the more disdained.
He lived with all the pomp he could devise, o..)
At tilts and tournaments obtained the prize,
But found no favour in his lady's eyes :

He w caried at ls suit, the t and the me

Relentless as a rock, the lofty maid
Turned all to poison that he did or said:
Nor prayers, nor tears, nor offered vows, could)

move; The work went backward; and the more he strove To advance his suit, the farther from her love.

Wearied at length, and wanting remedy, He doubted oft, and oft resolved to die. But pride stood ready to prevent the blow, For who would die to gratify a foe?.. His generous mind disdained so mean a fate; That passed, his next endeavour was to hate. But vainer that relief than all the rest; The less he hoped, with more desire possessed ; Love stood the siege, and would not yield his breast.)

Change was the next, but change deceived his care; He sought a fairer, but found none so fair. He would have worn her out by slow degrees, As men by fasting starve the untamed diseas But present love required a present ease. Looking, he feeds alone his famished eyes, Feeds lingering death; but, looking not, he dies. . Yet still he chose the longest way to fate, Wasting at once his life, and his estate.

His friends beheld, and pitied him in vain, For what advice can ease a lover's pain ! Absence, the best expedient they could find, Might save the fortune, if not cure the mind : This means they long proposed, but little gained, Yet after much pursuit, at length obtained.

Hard you may think it was to give consent, But, struggling with his own desires, he went; With large expence, and with a pompous train, Provided as to visit France or Spain, Or for some distant voyage o'er the main. .. But love had clipped his wings, and cut him short, Confined within the purlieus of his court,

Three miles he went, nor farther could retreat; :
His travels ended at his country-seat:
To Chassis' pleasing plains he took his way,
There pitched his tents, and there resolved to stay.
The spring was in the prime; the neighbouring

Supplied by birds, the choristers of love:
Music unbought, that ministered delight
To morning walks, and lulled his cares by night:
There he discharged his friends; but not the expence
Of frequent treats, and proud magnificence.
He lived as king's retire, though more at large
From public business, yet with equal charge;
With house and heart still open to receive;
As well content as love would give him leave :
He would have lived more free; but many a guest,
Who could forsake the friend, pursued the feast,

It happ'd one morning, as his fancy led, Before his usual hour he left his bed, . To walk within a lonely lawn, that stood On every side surrounded by the wood : Alone he walked, to please his pensive mind, And sought the deepest solitude to find: 'Twas in a grove of spreading pines he strayed ; ) The winds within the quivering branches played, And dancing trees a mournful music made. The place itself was suiting to his care, Uncouth and savage, as the cruel fair. He wandered on, unknowing where he went, Lost in the wood, and all on love intent: The day already half his race had run, And summoned him to due repast at noon, But love could feel no hunger but his own.

While listening to the murmuring leaves he stood, More than a mile immersed within the wood, At once the wind was laid ; the whispering sound Was dumb; a rising earthquake rocked the ground;

With deeper brown the grove was overspread,
A sudden horror seized his giddy head,
And his ears tinkled, and his colour fled.
Nature was in alarm; some danger nigh
Seemed threatened, though unseen to mortal eye.
Unused to fear, he summoned all his soul,
And stood collected in himself, and whole:
Not long; for soon a whịrlwind rose around,
And from afar he heard a screaming sound,
As of a dame distressed, who cried for aid,
And filled with loud laments the secret shade.

A thicket close beside the grove there stood,
With briers and brambles choked, and dwarfish wood :
From thence the noise, which now approaching near,
With more distinguished notes invades his ear;
He raised his head, and saw a beauteous maid,
With hair dishevelled, issuing through the shade;
Stripped of her clothes, and even those parts revealed,
Which modest nature keeps from sight concealed.
Her face, her hands, her naked limbs, were torn,
With passing through the brakes and prickly thorn;
Two mastiffs gaunt and grim her flight pursued,
And oft their fastened fangs in blood embrued ;
Oft they came up, and pinched her tender side,
Mercy, O mercy! heaven, she ran, and cried; :
When heaven was named, they loosed their hold

again; Then sprung she forth, they followed her amain.

Not far behind, a knight of swarthy face,
High on a coal-black steed pursued the chace;
With flashing flames his ardent eyes were filled,
And in his hand a naked sword he held:
He cheered the dogs to follow her who fled,
And vowed revenge on her devoted head.

As Theodore was born of noble kind,
The brutal action roused his manly mind;
Moved with th' unworthy usage of the maid,
He, though unarmed, resolved to give her aid.

« ПредишнаНапред »