Page images

At this period, Orlando, Oliver, and Turpin, are the only Paladins left alive, the rest being overwhelmed by a torrent of enemies, yet dying upon heaps of Pagans that had fallen by their hands. We know nothing finer or more impressive of its kind than the death of the hardy generous Oliver, whom the reader · follows over the bloody field with most earnest anxiety. In almost his last moments it will be seen that he affords another instance of the prevalence of those affections that distinguish him so importantly from Orlando. We should mention that, independently of many mortal hurts before inflicted, he has just received a fatal wound from the gigantic Caliph of Baldracha. Nevertheless,

“He scour'd that memorable field amain

Till now all sight and consciousness he lost,
And in the madness of his rage and pain

Orlando, that great Paladin, he crost,
Bowing 'ev'n him upon the splashy plain

By one dread blow upon his helm embost:
Orlando, at the stroke, in daz'd surprise
To Oliver uprais'd his doubting eyes.
“My dear and noble cousin (then he said)

Why against me is thus thy rage directed ?
Art thou on sudden turn'd a renegade,

Hast thou our faith, our God, and Christ, rejected ?'
* Pardon !' (cry'd Oliver) 'nor me upbraid ;

I knew you not, nor here to meet expected :
Wounded to death, I cannot see the day :
But, brother,* if thou haply 'scape, I pray,
“That to my sister, whom so dear you prize,

You will commend me ever lovingly;
And as in death these Pagans I despise,

Amidst the hottest battle let me die!'
Orlando's grief all utterance denies,

He scarce had strength remaining to comply,
While taking by the rein his cousin's horse
Into the thickest fight he turn'd his course.
Now strongly strike, my valiant coz! (he cried)

Thy death but proves thy noble prowess more!
Oliver spurr’d his starting charger's side,
! And woe to him his way that came before.

* They were brothers, by marriage, as well as cousins.

Full thirty Pagans by his weapon died

Weak as he was, with ev'ry sense forlore : Him and his steed could no obstruction stay ”Till he cut through the scatter'd foes’array."

His horse carries him to his tent, and, alighting, Oliver dies upon his knees in the act of prayer. This is a noble incident, and worthily related by the author. The death of Turpin is not so striking : he and Orlando retire from the field for a few moments, when the bold archbishop dies of fatigue and loss of blood ; and the angels,

“ Amid sweet songs and hymns of joy and grace,
Bore Turpin's soul to Heaven's holy place."

Orlando is then only left by all his great companions, and he fervently prays to be allowed to die upon the spot. A voice from Heaven promises that he shall soon rejoin the Paladins, and just afterwards his young squire, Terigi, arrives.

“The count receiv'd him with a kindly gladness,

And said, 'To yonder mountain let us go.'
Orlando and his squire both mov'd in sadness,

On foot towards the hill with progress slow:
Then on a rock Orlando, as in madness,

With Durlindana struck a furious blow,
Thinking to shatter thus his well-prov'd brand,
But the hard rock could not its edge withstand.

Full oftentimes again he struck his sword

Upon the jagged rock its blade to break,
With all the strength that in his arm was stor'd;

But vainly struck, the rock was all too weak.
Ceasing his fruitless efforts, he ador'd

Th' unequallid God, and of his sword 'gan speak:
Oh noble steel, so strong the rocks to hew,
Until this hour thy worth I never knew.

* Had I but known thy virtue from the first

I ne'er had doubted, temper'd as thou art,
Prov'd in this latest trial, hardest, worst.'

Then putting horn to mouth, his mighty heart,
Ev'n with the force of his own blowing, burst,

And from his visage made the red blood start.
The Sarasens, who on the field had stay'd,
Fled in confusion by the blast dismay'd.”

Charlemaine, at St. Jean piè de Port, heard it, and said to his barons,

« «What means that sound of my bold nephew's horn?

Marsilio has deceiv'd me much, I dread,
By Moorish fraud !'-Then Gan, as if in scorn,

Smiling, 'Oh sacred Emperor Charles, (he said)
Although grey hairs thy temples may adorn,

Thy thoughts I ween befit a younker's head.'
To quite this jeer no words the monarch spoke:
Again Orlando's horn the silence broke."

The traitor next tells Charles that Orlando is only hunting on the plain; and, in the mean time, Orlando orders Terigi to speed to Charlemaine with the news of the disastrous fight of Roncesvalles. It does not seem that the bursting of his heart occasioned instant death, since he blows a third time with all his remaining strength ;

" then beside his page
He fell upon his knees, spent, broken-hearted,

And praising God, his lordly soul departed.” At the third blast, all is confusion at St. Jean. Gan is accused of treachery, is struck by Ogier, Gerard, Namus, and others, and cast into a dungeon; while the emperor makes instant preparations to cross the Pyrennees, and, by a miracle, the mountains are removed and the rough places made plain that he may arrive with greater speed. On the road, Charles meets Terigi; and, to shew how well little circumstances are introduced to add to the general effect, we may mention that the squire, in the stupefaction of his suffering, and in the anxiety to make its cause known, forgot to kneel to the emperor. We can only give one stanza of his affecting relation of the disaster.

“ Dead is Orlando, flower of chivalry;

Dead is Astolfo, his brave cousin dear;
With Oliver and Sansonet they lie :

Turpin is dead, who never yet knew fear;
Dead are Avino, Otto, Berlinghri,

And Angiolino, strong of arm whilere:
Angolier of Bayonne and Hugo Count,
With noble Walter of the Lion-Mount.”

Charlemaine thus imprecates the most dreadful curses upon Ganelon.

“Curst be the father in his lonely tomb

That thee begot in matrimonial rite;
And curst no less the wretched mother's womb

That brought thee, worst of devils, forth to light.
Thy monstrous treachery to me and Rome,

Thy league detested with the Pagan might,
Have slain my hope, all Christendom's sweet flow'r,
And seed of heroes, in one damned hour!"

Terigi leads him to the body of Orlando, over which the emperor weeps bitterly; and, striking his breast and face, exclaims, addressing the corse;

“ Is this the promise that you made to me .

When in the land of Aspramont we fought:
When I first gave you knighthood with my blade,

After huge Almont to the earth you brought?
As Durlindana on your thigh I laid,

You promis'd, with a look that spoke your thought,
That when your task was ended with that sword,
Into my hand it should be then restor’d.”

Here a new wonder is shewn; for the dead body of Orlando, being filled by the Santo Spirito, rises from the earth.

“ To Charles, Orlando with his sword in hand

Turn'd, while a smile his deathly visage wore,
And murmuring said, 'Great Charles, as you command,

The noble sword you gave me I restore!'
Charles took it wond'ring, and upon the land

The life-deserted body fell once more:
The holy spirit that had fill'd it fed,,
And down it dropp'd a shapeless heap, and dead.”

This part of the story, we apprehend, differs from most of the other romances, some stating that Orlando failing to break his sword flung it into a river, while others relate that he succeeded in destroying it, not by striking it upon the rock, but by inserting it in a crevice and then dragging it transversely.We like the invention of Zinabi much better, nor was it inconsistent with the superstition of his time. Charles takes ample vengeance on the Moors, compelling Marsilio to throw himself from a lofty tower, and returns to Paris with the dead bodies of the Paladins, which are laid in the church of Nostra Donna di Parigi. We need not dwell upon the exemplary punishment of Ganelon, who is torn to pieces by four wild horses, after his wife has in vain interceded, and his nephew fought for him. Alda not being in Paris the emperor sends for her, and, when informed of the fate of her husband and her brother, she hastens in an agony of grief to Nôtre Dame, where, as we have said, their corses are deposited. :

“She groan'd, and tears ran down her pallid cheek

While she besought th' eternal Majesty,
That she might hear once more Orlando speak,

Her lord without a peer in chivalry:
Then to console the kneeling lady meek,

This miracle God wrought most wond'rously,
That Oliver, who lay her husband near,
Should comfort her, and she his voice should hear.
•Sweet sister! (said he) we are now at rest

Amid the glory of our Saviour dear.'
When his pale lips this sentence had exprest,

He sank again upon his mournful bier.
Fair Alda heard it :—with grief-stricken breast

She felt her own glad end approaching near,
And at her husband's and her brother's side
The fairest Alda laid her down and died.”

After thanks to his auditors, the poem concludes with the following stanza:

“ Lordings, for you this rhiming tale is told :

Sostegno di Zinabi, Florentine,
Entreats high God him in his care to hold,

And age preserve him from his wrath divine ;
And that to you he clearly would unfold

Whatever may from virtue's path incline,
Which leads to Paradise and heav'nly glory.-
Now to your honour here I end my story.”

If we had space, we should, probably, think it needless to add any thing to the running criticism with which we have accompanied our quotations.

Art. VII.Hudibras. The Second Part. London, Printed in the

year 1663. Butler's Ghost; or Hudibras, the Fourth Part, with Reflections

upon these T'imes. London, 1682.

« PreviousContinue »