Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

the administration of public affairs, upon pretense he was in. capable of business, and no longer fit to govern.

The gate of the Plessis was never opened, nor the drawbridge let down, before eight o'clock in the morning, at which time the officers were let in ; and the captains ordered their guards to their several posts, with pickets of archers in the middle of the court, as in a town upon the frontiers that is closely guarded : nor was any person admitted to enter except by the wicket and with the king's knowledge, unless it were the steward of his household, and such persons as were not admitted into the royal presence.

Is it possible then to keep a prince (with any regard to his quality) in a closer prison than he kept himself ? The cages which were made for other people were about eight feet square ; and he (though so great a monarch) had but a small court of the castle to walk in, and seldom made use of that, but generally kept himself in the gallery, out of which he went into the chambers on his way to mass, but never passed through the court. Who can deny that he was a sufferer as well as his neighbors, considering how he was locked up and guarded, afraid of his own children and relations, and changing every day those very servants whom he had brought up and advanced ; and though they owed all their perferment to him, yet he durst not trust any of them, but shut himself up in those strange chains and inclosures. If the place where he confined himself was larger than a common prison, he also was much greater than common prisoners.

It may be urged that other princes have been more given to suspicion than he, but it was not in our time ; and, perhaps, their wisdom was not so eminent, nor were their subjects so good. They might too, probably, have been tyrants, and bloody-minded ; but our king never did any person a mischief who had not offended him first, though I do not say all who offended him deserved death. I have not recorded these things merely to represent our master as a suspicious and mistrustful prince; but to show that by the patience which he expressed in his sufferings (like those which he inflicted on other people), they may be looked upon, in my judgment, as a punishment which our Lord inflicted upon him in this world, in order to deal more mercifully with him in the next, as well in regard to those things before mentioned, as to the distempers of his body, which were great and painful, and much dreaded by him before they came upon him; and likewise, that those princes who may be his successors may learn by his example to be more tender and indulgent to their subjects, and less severe in their punishments, than our master had been: although I will not censure him, or say I ever saw a better prince; for though he oppressed his subjects himself, he would never see them injured by anybody else.

THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE.

BY PULCI: BYRON'S TRANSLATION.

[Luigi Pulci, an Italian poet, born at Florence in 1432 ; died about 1487. He was an intimate friend of Lorenzo de' Medici and Politian, and the author of “Il Morgante Maggiore" (first published in 1481), a burlesque epic, in twentyeight cantos, with Roland as the hero. Apart from its literary excellence, the poem is valuable as a source of information regarding the early Tuscan dialect.]

IN THE beginning was the Word next God;

God was the Word, the Word no less was he:
This was in the beginning, to my mode

Of thinking, and without him naught could be:
Therefore, just Lord! from out thy high abode,

Benign and pious, bid an angel flee,
One only, to be my companion, who
Shall help my famous, worthy old song through

And thou, oh Virgin! daughter, mother, bride

Of the same Lord, who gave to you each key
Of heaven, and hell, and everything beside,

The day thy Gabriel said “ All hail !” to thee,
Since to thy servants pity's ne'er denied,

With flowing rhymes, a pleasant style and free,
Be to my verses then benignly kind,
And to the end illuminate my mind. . .

[ocr errors]

Twelve paladins had Charles in court, of whom

The wisest and most famous was Orlando;
Him traitor Gan conducted to the tomb

In Roncesvalles, as the villain planned to,

While the horn rang so loud, and knelled the doom

Of their sad rout, though he did all knight can do; And Dante in his comedy has given To him a happy seat with Charles in heaven.

'Twas Christmas day; in Paris all his court

Charles held ; the chief, I say, Orlando was, The Dane; Astolfo there too did resort,

Also Ansuigi, the gay time to pass In festival and in triumphal sport,

The much-renowned St. Dennis being the cause; Angiolin of Bayonne, and Oliver, And gentle Belinghieri too came there:

Avolio, and Arino, and Othone

Of Normandy, and Richard Paladin, Wise Hamo, and the ancient Salemone,

Walter of Lion's Mount and Baldovin, Who was the son of the sad Ganellone,

Were there, exciting too much gladness in The son of Pepin: when his knights came hither, He groaned with joy to see them all together.

But watchful Fortune, lurking, takes good heed

Ever some bar 'gainst our intents to bring. While Charles reposed him thus, in word and deed,

Orlando ruled court, Charles, and everything; Curst Gan, with envy bursting, had such need

To vent his spite, that thus with Charles the king One day he openly began to say: “Orlando must we always then obey ?

“A thousand times I've been about to say,

Orlando too presumptuously goes on; Here are we, counts, kings, dukes, to own thy sway,

Hamo, and Otho, Ogier, Solomon, Each have to honor thee and to obey;

But he has too much credit near the throne, Which we won't suffer, but are quite decided By such a boy to be no longer guided.

“And even at Aspramont thou didst begin

To let him know he was a gallant knight, And by the fount did much the day to win;

But I know who that day had won the fight

If it had not for good Gherardo been:

The victory was Almonte's else; his sight He kept upon the standard, and the laurels In fact and fairness are his earning, Charles.

“If thou rememberest being in Gascony,

When there advanced the nations out of Spain, The Christian cause had suffered shamefully,

Had not his valor driven them back again.
Best speak the truth when there's a reason why:

Know then, oh emperor! that all complain :
As for myself, I shall repass the mounts
O'er which I crossed with two and sixty counts.

“ 'Tis fit thy grandeur should dispense relief,

So that each here may have his proper part, For the whole court is more or less in grief:

Perhaps thou deem'st this lad a Mars in heart?" Orlando one day heard this speech in brief,

As by himself it chanced he sat apart: Displeased he was with Gan because he said it, But much more still that Charles should give him credit.

And with the sword he would have murdered Gan,

But Oliver thrust in between the pair, And from his hand extracted Durlindan,

And thus at length they separated were.
Orlando, angry too with Carloman,

Wanted but little to have slain him there;
Then forth alone from Paris went the chief,
And burst and maddened with disdain and grief.

From Ermellina, consort of the Dane,

He took Cortana, and then took Rondell,
And on towards Brara pricked him o'er the plain;

And when she saw him coming, Aldabelle
Stretched forth her arms to clasp her lord again :

Orlando, in whose brain all was not well, As “Welcome, my Orlando, home," she said, Raised up his sword to smite her on the head

Like him a fury counsels; his revenge

On Gan in that rash act he seemed to take, Which Aldabella thought extremely strange;

But soon Orlando found himself awake;

VOL. XI.

And his spouse took his bridle on this change,

And he dismounted from his horse, and spake
Of everything which passed without demur,
And then reposed himself some days with her.

Then full of wrath departed from the place,

And far as pagan countries roamed astray, And while he rode, yet still at every pace

The traitor Gan remembered by the way; And wandering on in error a long space,

An abbey which in a lone desert lay, 'Midst glens obscure, and distant lands, he found, Which formed the Christian's and the pagan's bound.

The abbot was called Clermont, and by blood

Descended from Angrante: under cover Of a great mountain's brow the abbey stood,

But certain savage giants looked him over;
One Passamont was foremost of the brood,

And Alabaster and Morgante hover
Second and third, with certain slings, and throw
In daily jeopardy the place below.

The monks could pass the convent gate no more,

Nor leave their cells for water or for wood; Orlando knocked, but none would ope, before

Unto the prior it at length seemed good; Entered, he said that he was taught to adore

Him who was born of Mary's holiest blood, And was baptized a Christian; and then showed How to the abbey he had found his road.

Said the abbot: “You are welcome; what is mine

We give you freely, since that you believe With us in Mary Mother's Son divine;

And that you may not, cavalier, conceive
The cause of our delay to let

To be rusticity, you shall receive
The reason why our gate was barred to you:
Thus those who in suspicion live must do.

you in

6 When hither to inhabit first we came

These mountains, albeit that they are obscure, As you perceive, yet without fear or blame

They seemed to promise an asylum sure:

« VorigeDoorgaan »