Page images

of the Amadis, (the Feliciano de Silva :) but he extracts from it only the leading outlines of the fable, the name and idea of the heroine, (Armida.) If the old writer introduces hundreds of knights beating their breasts, and uttering cries of lamentation in the enchanted castle of Armida, Tasso is too well educated in the school of the ancients to take pleasure in so strange an exhibition of the pathetic. The enchantments of his Armida are throughout human. It is the nature of Tasso to avoid the monstrous, the shapeless, the widely fantastical. Even in regard to the works of minds more allied to his own, this is obvious. He has made much use, for instance, of the Christiad of Vida ;-the description of the Infernal Council; the call of the Tartarian trumpets, at which the depths of hell tremble; the assemblage of monsters, compounded of snake and man, of gorgons and centaurs; the speech of their infernal ruler, who reminds them of their former happiness and present condemnation to these realms of darkness-are all taken from Vida.'- But when he comes to his description of Satan, with a hundred heads wreathed with snakes and fiery dragons, with a hundred hands all armed with torch and trident,' he stops short. These extravagant conceptions, he thinks, overpass the bounds of legitimate representation; he omits them. He paints his Satan after the description which Claudian gives of Pluto as the monarch of the subterranean world. Even antiquity itself he does not always follow. Much as he admired Virgil, he does not implicitly adopt his descriptions. He applies the incidents of Camilla's life, as we have seen, to his heroine Clarinda; he follows Virgil in the flight of the attendant with the child; but when it is bound to a lance, and flung across the river, this appears to him too violent, too improbable. He seeks another mode of deliverance. The attendant plunges with the child into the stream, swimming with one arm, with the other supporting it; but the current is too violent for him, and his charge is swept away. Through the aid of St George, the protector of the child, it is safely deposited on the bank. While Tasso avoids the violent, he still interweaves religion and miracle into his poem.'


The religious spirit, which indeed in Tasso assumes an air of almost mystical devotion, and delights in the representation of supernatural impulses, has formed the reconciling element between the classic and the romantic portions of his poem. out this belief in a marvellous supernatural agency guiding, even in a visible form, the affairs of the world, all that fairy machinery which chiefly connects his poem with those of Boiardo and Ariosto, must have been omitted. But believing, as he did, that a thousand spirits, good or bad, might walk the earth, subordinate. to an omnipotent and benevolent Intelligence, he found little difficulty in admitting the agency of spells and enchantments even into a Christian and historical epic.

Closely connected with this visionary feeling of religion is his treatment of the passion of love. Erminia who, in the house of Tancred, had never spoken to him, is suddenly seized with an impulse to seek him in the camp of the Crusaders. Tancred sees Clarinda but an

1840. Ranke's Italian Narrative and Romantic Poetry.


instant; but is so fascinated by the sight, that he seeks the field of battle
only that he may attain forgetfulness. If the sentimental consists in the
union of the spirit of love and pity, this is in Tasso a very important
Almost all his love resolves into pity;-in Gildippe and
Odoardo not less than in Sophronia and Olindo, in Tancred and Cla-
rinda, in Erminia and Tancred, nay, even in Rinaldo and Armida.
The complaints of Tancred would have been more suitable in the mouth
of Orpheus, to whom such were ascribed by the ancients, than to a war-
rior such as Tancred.'

Ranke concludes his observations on Tasso with the following judicious remarks, with which we shall close this article:

In the main he accomplished the task he had prescribed for himself. He succeeded in uniting the multiplicity which the public mind required, with the unity which was sought after by the learned. He, for the first time, subjected the materials of romance to the classic laws, without destroying their essential character. Tasso had the good sense to write not for the learned alone, the nobles and high priests of literature, but for the people at large-as he says himself, for every man ; and he attained his end, general approbation and popularity. Perhaps the very faults of the work contributed to this favourable reception; but much more its sustained grace and dignified movement ;-the mild, allbeautifying, and never overpowering fancy of the poet; the skill with which a theme, so elevating both to the faith and the imagination, had been treated in a manner at once congenial to the primitive grandeur of the subject, and yet in harmony with the advanced intelligence of the time; above all, the inimitable melody of so many exquisitely constructed stanzas. Foreigners have undoubtedly greater pleasure in the perusal of Ariosto: the Italians will not allow the superiority of Tasso to be contested. We must hear them read and recite his stanzas: they linger on the single verses with a sort of musical voluptuousness; they dwell on the closing rhymes with satisfied delight. The genius of the nation worked unconsciously in Tasso in this particular: he gave perfect pleasure to his countrymen; the pattern which he set is followed now."'

In the Jerusalem we find a union of many elements ;-intelligence and feeling for the materials of romance; seriousness and dignity of representation; a comprehensive acquaintance with and imitation of antiquity according to the Aristotelian rules; the revival of the ideas of Christianity. In depth and majesty it cannot be compared with the work of Dante; nor in life and richness with that of Ariosto; but it is a happy embodiment of the manifold tendencies of the time, conceived and executed at the right moment: not indeed the production of a great genius, full of original and creative power, but the successful labour of a sensitive, active, imaginative, and learned artist and poet.'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mate v1.1 22s terms is er 1 are aî tennines ʼn lesed “he 1 st ledente matuos terest tells i SET angg the last wha of the mise; da ve canBOK TARI TAN TAe az promjen để vur wonder 12 reving the auMitaine state of przemyon Vita Liese neramer's so 173the Inverans, Sonut a Coentran tente a Cantus so well preThe arineers empieret a the last mission of weyyah, that the tentared it might have been disiy returns fre the fragmenna than ay on the spot. ughtyre at inek azár on the Mander, was so Inle ahmied by the action of the armosphere, that is admitted of measurements The temple of Dana Lezbeing taken in the utmost detall, together with drawings of the freze representing the rattle of the Greeks with the Arrazors:a building pee any interrating, from being adduced by Vitruvius as a modes for an octoetjie pseudodipteral temple. The entabiatures at Myra, and those of the temple of Apolo Didymaus at Mietus, the sumptuous sarcophagi at Xanthus, the majestic remains at Azani and Labranda, are astonishingly perfect; while, again, the theatre of Patara, with its proscenium and inscription commemorative of its erection-those of Myra and Side, and Antephellus and Aspendus-furnish us with such com

plete insight into the ornaments of the scenes and the dramatic machinery, that posterity will hardly desire additional information.

Asia Minor is distinguished for the excellence and number of its ancient geographers. It has been described by Strabo, Ptolemy, and Pliny: Xenophon has left a narrative of the route of Cyrus from Sardes in Lydia, to Celænæ in Phrygia, from thence to Iconium in Lycaonia, and to Tarsus on the south-east coast. Arrian describes the progress of Alexander the Great, which carries us through the wider range of Lycia and Pamphylia in the south, Gordium in the north of Phrygia, Ancyra and Cappadocia, terminating, like the preceding historians, at Tarsus in Cilicia; whilst Livy, again, has described the marches of Cn. Manlius through parts of the same provinces so that the amount of materials illustrative of the country when it was in its most flourishing condition, is both ample and satisfactory. It has been frequently visited by different English travellers, some of whose journals are before the world; and it is chiefly from our own countrymen that our acquaintance with its modern aspect is derived; foreigners having hitherto contributed extremely little to augment our scanty knowledge of its geography and physical character. We are not unaware of the exertions of the French Government in this quarter from the year 1833 to 1837, or of the loss of life which befell seven of the distinguished individuals who were employed in furthering the objects of the mission; but the superb work to which these labours have given rise, under M. Texier, is so little advanced, that it is to be feared many years will still elapse before it can be completed. As far as we are capable of judging from the two parts that have appeared, it will leave us little to desiderate. The remarks of a few travellers may perchance yet remain in manuscript; but it is not asserting too much when we express our belief, that every discovery of the least value up to the year 1824, when Col. Leake published his volume on the country, has been incorporated among that gentleman's observations. Rather more recently, the English chaplain at Smyrna, following the example of his predecessors, made a visit to the Seven Churches; and of this he has printed an account. Yet he, like others who have gone over the same ground, used far too great expedition to enable him to make his remarks with the requisite degree of minuteness. We must not expect to find in this work those hydrographical notices, with which members of other professions are of necessity so much better acquainted; but he affords us just reasons for complaining that his book is, in no instance, distinguished by measurements or plans of the remarkable ruins he

ART. III. A Journal written during an Excursion in Asia Minor, in 1838. By CHARLES FELLOWES. 8vo. London: 1839.

T HE want of a more accurate and extended knowledge of the internal geography of Asia Minor has been long felt among scholars, who, notwithstanding the missions sent forth by the Dilettanti Society, and the voluntary labours of private individuals, remain in complete ignorance as to the real position of many ancient cities of great celebrity. In no country which Englishmen have traversed, does so little attention seem to have been paid to the actual bearings of one place with respect to another; owing partly to the unskilfulness of the traveller to make the requisite chorographical observations, and partly to the rapidity with which his journey has been performed. We are immediately struck with this upon glancing over the various narratives that have been published: we find in them perpetual reason for complaining of the insufficiency of our guides. Allusion is more frequently made to their privations and inconveniences, than a careful description given of the monuments of art that are still preserved. It is much to be lamented that travellers should have visited a region offering so many new and inviting reflections to learning, and so many fresh tokens of civilization in times most remote, in this unsatisfactory way;-that they should have contented themselves by taking merely general views, and giving as little detailed information to their readers as possible. We are not unaware of, neither are we disposed to underrate, the obstacles that exist in travelling through this country. Its deserted state often places the bare necessaries of life out of the traveller's reach; and the ignorance of its inhabitants leads them to watch all his movements with prejudice and suspicion. We know that it is not merely needful to possess a temper imperturbable as that of the Turks-one little liable to be ruffled by accidents-but also to unite with it a constitution that has long been disciplined by temperance, and made capable of bearing excessive fatigue. We are not unaware of the wearisomeness of incessantly riding on wooden saddles, and of the disturbed repose which may be found at nightfall, perhaps, under the black tent of some wandering Turcoman. Yet we have also experienced that these varied difficulties are speedily lightened, if not indeed entirely forgotten, amid the lofty associations which the magnificence of the country arouses. Whether traversing its boundless and fertile plains, or attempting to scale its snow-clad mountains; whether wandering over the parched

« PreviousContinue »