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humanity not only warrants his plan, but in the twofold sense of the word embraces it.'

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After speaking of the unbounded tenderness' that beautifies Pulci's serious passages, he proceeds thus:

"A charm of another sort in Pulci, and yet in most instances, perhaps, owing the best part of its charmingness to its being connected with the same feeling, is his wit. Foscolo, it is true, says it is, in general, more severe than refined; and it is perilous to differ with such a critic on such a point; for much of it, unfortunately, is lost to a foreign reader, in consequence of its dependance on the piquant old Tuscan idiom, and on popular sayings and allusions. Yet I should think it impossible for Pulci in general to be severe at the expense of some more agreeable quality; and I am sure that the portion of his wit most obvious to a foreigner may claim, if not to have originated, at least to have been very like the style of one who was among its declared admirers-and who was a very polished writer-Voltaire. It consists in treating an absurdity with an air as if it were none; or as if it had been a pure matter of course, erroneously mistaken for an absurdity. Thus the good abbot, whose monastery is blockaded by the giants (for the virtue and simplicity of his character must be borne in mind), after observing that the ancient fathers in the desert had not only locusts to eat, but manna, which he has no doubt was rained down on purpose from heaven, laments that the relishes' provided for himself and his brethren should have consisted of showers of stones.' 6 The stones, while the abbot is speaking, come thundering down, and he exclaims, 'For God's sake, knight, come in, for the manna is falling! This is exactly in the style of the 'Dictionnaire Philosophique.' So when Margutte is asked what he believes in, and says he believes in neither black nor blue,' but in a good capon, whether roast or boiled,' the reader is forcibly reminded of Voltaire's Traveller, Scarmentado, who, when he is desired by the Tartars to declare which of their two parties he is for, the party of the black-mutton or the white-mutton, answers, that the dish is equally indifferent to him, provided it is tender.'

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We must now turn to the last Memoir' in these volumesthat of Tasso. This perplexing and much-debated subject has been treated in a masterly manner by our author, who has not only sifted evidence with the acuteness of a philosopher, but has had the courage to look at the subject in its truc light, leaving romance and sentiment to shift for themselves. The quantity of nonsense written about Tasso is an abuse of the privilege which biographers have of setting themselves down asses.' Professor Rosini, who edited Tasso's works, and who is a man of reputation in Italy, may be taken as a sample of the extravagances which are deemed permissible in transalpine literary criticism. In his Saggio sugli Amori di Tasso,' amidst a mass of sweeping assumptions and loose reasonings, he lays down this critical canon-that

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a man of an ingegno severo, like Tasso, would not deliberately write a falsehood; from which we are to conclude, that whenever he speaks in his verses of his lady-loves, what he says is strictly true. With such a canon a man may go a great way in criticism; with what result we shall leave our readers to determine. Tasso's life is in itself perplexing enough; we need no extra confusion on the part of biographers; many things in it will probably never be cleared up; but all that seems capable of explanation is, we believe, rightly explained by Leigh Hunt. One of the points worthy notice in his memoir, is the admirable manner in which the reader is prepared for Tasso's madness. This is one of the disputed subjects. Was Tasso mad, before imprisonment and ill-treatment drove him so? Sentimental biographers answer in the negative: foolishly enough, as it appears to us, since Tasso's imprisonment, though galling, was not accompanied by any degree of ill-treatment which could have affected a sane mind. The disease was earlier. In the vivid picture of his restlessness, inconsequences, and perpetual suspicion, Leigh Hunt has shown us the mind diseased, which even before the imprisonment broke forth into frantic vehemence. Alfonso, whatever may have been his conduct afterwards, seems to have behaved kindly enough on first hearing of Tasso's outbreaks. He merely directed, in the mildest and most reasonable manner, that Tasso should be confined to his apartments, and put into the hands of a physician. This afflicted Tasso deeply: what step of the kind had ever any other effect upon an unsound mind? Yet he bore it in silence, and the duke took him to his beautiful country seat of Belriguardo; 'where, in one of his accounts of the matter, the poet says that he treated him as a brother; but in another he accuses him of having taken pains to make him criminate himself, and confess certain matters, real or supposed, the nature of which is a puzzle to posterity.' It was Belriguardo, as most of our readers will remember, that Göthe makes the scene of his exquisite dramatic poem, Torquato Tasso: a work as profound as it is enchanting, but which takes the utmost poetical licence with the history it treats of. Those persons who fancy that Alfonso imprisoned Tasso because he discovered the poet's love for the princess, forget that the occasion of the imprisonment was Tasso's furious outburst of indignation at not being sufficiently attended to, and his calling the court a ciurma di poltroni, ingrati, e ribaldi,' in a speech of good set terms,' but of very uncourtly flavour. Let us héar Leigh Hunt on this debated question:

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"The causes of Tasso's imprisonment, and its long duration, are among the puzzles of biography. The prevailing opinion, notwithstanding the opposition made to it by Serassi and Black is, that the poet

made love to the Princess Leonora-perhaps was beloved by her; and that her brother the duke punished him for his arrogance. This was the belief of his earliest biographer, Manso, who was intimately acquainted with the poet in his latter days; and from Manso (though he did not profess to receive the information from Tasso, but only to gather it from his poems) it spread over all Europe. Milton took it on trust from him ;* and so have our English translators Hoole and Wiffen. The Abbé de Charnes, however, declined to do so;† and Montaigne, who saw the poet in St. Anne's hospital, says nothing of the love at all. He attributes his condition to poetical excitement, hard study, and the meeting of the extremes of wisdom and folly. The philosopher, however, speaks of the poet's having survived his reason, and become unconscious both of himself and his works, which the reader knows to be untrue. He does not appear to have conversed with Tasso. The poet was only shown him; probably at a sick moment, or by a new and ignorant official. Muratori, who was in the service of the Este family at Modena, tells us, on the authority of an old acquaintance who knew contemporaries of Tasso, that the good Torquato' finding himself one

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day in company with the duke and his sister, and going close to the

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princess in order to answer some question which she had put to him, was so transported by an impulse more than poetical,' as to give her a kiss; upon which the duke, who had observed it, turned about to his gentlemen, and said: What a pity to see so great a man distracted!' and so ordered him to be locked up. But this writer adds, that he does not know what to think of the anecdote: he neither denies nor admits it. Tiraboschi, who was also in the service of the Este family, doubts the truth of the anecdote, and believes that the duke shut the poet up solely for fear, lest his violence should do harm.|| Serassi, the second biographer of Tasso, who dedicated his book to an Este princess inimical to the poet's memory, attributes the confinement, on his own showing, to the violent words he had uttered against his master.¶ Walker, the author of the Memoir on Italian Tragedy,' says, that the life by Serassi himself induced him to credit the love story:" ** so does Ginguéné.†† Black, forgetting the age and illnesses of hundreds of enamoured ladies, and the distraction of lovers at all times, derides the notion of passion on either side; because, he argues, Tasso was subject to frenzies, and Leonora forty-two years of age, and not in good health. What would

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* "Altera Torquatum cepit Leonora poetam," &c.

Vie du Tasse,' 1695, p. 51.

In the Apology for Raimond de Sebonde;' Essays, vol. ii., ch. 12.
In his 'Letter to Zeno.'-Opere del Tasso, xvi., p. 118.

Storia della Poesia Italiana' (Mathias's edition), vol. iii. part i., p. 236. Serassi is peremptory, and even abusive. He charges every body who has said any thing to the contrary with imposture."Egli mon v' ha dubbio, che le troppe imprudenti e temerarie parole, che il Tasso si lasciò uscir di bocca in questo incontro, furone la sola cagione della sua prigionia, e ch'è mera favola ed impostura tutto ciò, che diversamente è stato affermato e scritto da altri in tale proposito." Vol. ii., p. 33. But we have seen that the good abbé could practise a little imposition himself.

** Black, ii., 88. tt'Hist. Litt. d'Italie,' v. 243, &c.

‡‡Vol ii., p. 89.

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Madame d'Houdetot have said to him? or Mademoiselle L'Espinasse ? or Mrs. Inchbald, who used to walk up and down Sackville-street, in order that she might see Dr. Warren's light in his window? Foscolo was a believer in the love ;* Sismondi admits it; and Rosini, the editor of the latest edition of the poet's works, is passionate for it. He wonders how any body can fail to discern it in a number of passages, which, in truth, may mean a variety of other loves; and he insists much upon certain loose verses (lascivi) which the poet, among his various accounts of the origin of his imprisonment, assigns as the cause, or one of the causes, of it.‡

"I confess, after a reasonable amount of inquiry into this subject, that I can find no proofs whatsoever of Tasso's having made love to Leonora; though I think it highly probable. I believe the main cause of the duke's proceedings was the poet's own violence of behaviour and incontinence of speech. I think it very likely that, in the course of the poetical love-making to various ladies, which was almost identical in that age with addressing them in verse, Torquato, whether he was in love or not, took more liberties with the princesses than Alfonso approved; and it is equally probable, that one of those liberties consisted in his indulging his imagination too far. It is not even impossible, that more gallantry may have been going on at court than Alfonso could endure to see alluded to, especially by an ambitious pen. But there is no evidence that such was the case. Tasso, as a gentleman, could not have hinted at such a thing on the part of a princess of staid reputation; and, on the other hand, the 'love' he speaks of as entertained by her for him, and warranting the application to her for money in case of his death, was too plainly worded to mean any thing but love in the sense of friendly regard. 'Per amor mio' is an idiomatical expression, meaning for my sake;' a strong one, no doubt, and such as a proud man like Alfonso might think a liberty, but not at all of necessity an amatory boast. If it was, its very effrontery and vanity were presumptions of its falsehood. The lady whom Tasso alludes to in the passage quoted on his first confinement is complained of for her coldness towards him; and, unless this was itself a gentlemanly blind, it might apply to fifty other ladies besides the princess. The man who assaulted him in the streets, and who is supposed to have been the violator of his papers, need not have found any secrets of love in them. The servant at whom he aimed the knife or the dagger might be as

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* Such at least is my impression; but I cannot call the evidence to mind. 'Literature of the South of Europe,' (Roscoe's translation), vol. ii., p. 165. To show the loose way in which the conclusions of a man's own mind are presented as facts admitted by others, Sismondi says, that Tasso's passion' was the cause of his return to Ferrara. There is not a tittle of evidence to show for it. Saggio sugli Amori,' &c. ut sup. p. 84, and passim. As specimens of the learned professor's reasoning, it may be observed that whenever the words humble, daring, high, noble, and royal, occur in the poet's love-verses, he thinks they must allude to the Princess Leonora ; and he argues, that Alfonso never could have been so angry with any 'versi lascivi,' if they had not had the same direction.

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little connected with such matters; and the sonnets which the poet said he wrote for a friend, and which he desired to be buried with him, might be alike innocent of all reference to Leonora, whether he wrote them for a friend or not. Leonora's death took place during the poet's confinement; and, lamented as she was by the verse writers according to custom, Tasso wrote nothing on the event. This silence has been attributed to the depth of his passion; but how is the fact proved? and why may it not have been occasioned by there having been no passion at all?

"All that appears certain is, that Tasso spoke violent and contemptuous words against the duke; that he often spoke ill of him in his letters; that he endeavoured, not with perfect ingenuousness, to exchange his service for that of another prince; that he asserted his madness to have been pretended, in the first instance, purely to gratify the duke's whim for thinking it so (which was one of the reasons perhaps why Alfonso, as he complained, would not believe a word he said); and, finally, that, whether the madness was or was not so pretended, it unfortunately became a confirmed though milder form of mania, during a long confinement. Alfonso, too proud to forgive the poet's contempt, continued thus to detain him, partly perhaps because he was not sorry to have a pretext for revenge, partly because he did not know what to do with him, consistently either with his own or the poet's safety. He had not been generous enough to put Tasso above his wants; he had not address enough to secure his respect; he had not merit enough to overlook his reproaches. If Tasso had been as great a man as he was a poet, Alfonso would not have been reduced to these perplexities. The poet would have known how to settle quietly down on his small courtincome and wait patiently in the midst of his beautiful visions for what fortune had or had not in store for him. But in truth, he, as well as the duke, was weak; they made a bad business of it between them; and Alfonso the Second closed the accounts of the Este family with the Muses by keeping his panegyrist seven years in a mad-house to the astonishment of posterity, and the destruction of his own claims to re

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Did Tasso love three Leonoras; did he only love the princess? In one of his canzones (though we cannot at this moment recover the passage) he says, 'three have I sung; one only have I loved.' But this does not prove that the loved one was the princess; and as to the three Leonoras, modern criticism has amply demonstrated that there were only two-the princess and the Countess Scandiano. Goldoni, indeed, in his lively comedy of 'Tasso,' has given us the established three; and, curiously enough, while assuming as a matter of course that Tasso was in love with the princess (tulti sanno che il Tasso divento innamorato della principessa) he transforms this princess into an attendant at court, out of respect for the illustrious family of Este. Il rispetto per questa illustre casa, che regna amora in Italia, mi ha fatto cambiare nella mia

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