Gradasso, king of Sericane, meditates the invasion of France, in order to obtain Bayardo and Durindana. In the mean time Charlemagne is holding a court plenar at Paris; where the appearance of Angelica excites much confusion amid the assembled knights. She returns towards her own kingdom, pursued by Orlando and Rinaldo. Rinaldo having, however, drunk of the waters of Disdain, while she has unfortunately tasted those of Love, is seized with loathing for the damsel, and is, in his turn, followed in vain by her, whom he before pursued. He is now sent by Charlemagne in defence of Marsilius, king of Spain, whose territories were invaded by Gradasso. in his progress towards France. He is here separated from his army by a device of Malagigi, his own brother, who is become the tool of Angelica, and his troops, left without their leader, return home. Marsilius, in consequence of this desertion, buys peace of Gradasso, by assisting him in his invasion of France. Here Charlemagne and his paladins are made prisoners in a thorough rout of the Christian army. Gradasso, however, offers him peace and liberty for himself and followers, on the delivery of Bayardo, who had been brought back from Spain by the French troops, and on his promise to send him Durindana as soon as it is in his power. Charlemagne of course consents, and sends to Paris for the horse. This is, however, refused by Astolpho, who had taken upon himself the government of the city, and who sends a defiance to Gradasso. They meet, and the Indian king is unhorsed, who, in compliance with the conditions of a previous agreement, frees his prisoners and returns to Sericana. Astolpho, too, dissatisfied with the conduct of Charlemagne, departs from France. He now enrolls himself amongst the defenders of Angelica, besieged by Agrican in Albracca, in which warfare he is made prisoner; Orlando, with other puissant knights, takes the same side, and slays Agrican in single combat. On the other part, Rinaldo (whose hatred to Angelica equals his former love) joins the camp of the besiegers, and a desperate battle is fought between him and Orlando. Angelica, however, still enamoured of Rinaldo, separates them and dispatches Orlando upon a perilous quest. Many other adventures are achieved by these and other knights, and many episodes are connected with the two principal actions of the book, viz. the invasion of France, and the war before Albracca.
THE story says that there reigned formerly in parts beyond India, a mighty monarch, who was moreover so valiant and powerful in war that no one could stand against him; he was named Gradasso; he had the face and heart of a dragon, and was in stature a giant. But, as it often happens to the greatest and to the richest, to long for what they cannot have, and thus to lose what they already possess, this king could not rest content without Durindana the sword of Orlando, and Bayardo the horse of Rinaldo. To obtain which, he determined to war upon France, and for this expedition chose one hundred and fifty thousand horsemen.
But the author suspends the further mention of this monarch, of whom we shall soon again hear, to speak of Charlemagne, who had ordered magnificent jousts, and summoned thither all and singular his barons. And to this court plenar, besides his paladins, and greater and lesser vassals of the crown, were bid all strangers, baptized or infidel, then sojourning at Paris. Amongst the guests were the giant Grandonio, Ferrau, the king Balugantes, a relation of Charlemagne, Isolier and Serpentin, who were companions, and many others.
And now was the day when the great festival was to begin with a sumptuous banquet, made by Charlemagne, who assisted at it in his royal robes, and entertained, between Christians and Pagans, twenty-two thousand and thirty guests.
The tables, spread right and left, were ordered with due discrimination. At the first were seated the kings of Christendom, an English, a Lombard, and a Breton to wit, Otho, Desiderius, and Salomon: and next these all others, according to their dignity and the esteem in which they were held. At the second table were placed the dukes and marquisses; and at the third, the counts and simple knights. Those of the house of Maganza were especially honoured, and above all the others, Gano of Poictiers. Rinaldo saw this with eyes of fire; the more so that these traitors, laughing amongst themselves, were mocking him as not equally distinguished by the king. Accordingly we are told:
Yet while his heart with smothered fury beats,
He feigns to trifle with the cups and glasses:
But, inly murmuring, to himself repeats
“False, ribald crew! before to-morrow passes,
“This arm shall prove if you can keep your seats;
“Spawn of a nest of vipers, idiots, asses!
“And well I wot to have you on the hip,
“Unless my weapon swerve, or courser slip.”
King Balugantes marked his discontent,
And reading, as he weened, his secret thought,
To him his trucheman with a message sent,
To wot if it was true, as he was taught,
That honour, not by worth and wisdom went,
But in this Christian court was sold and bought:
That he a stranger and a Turk, if true,
Might render each and all the honour due.
The good Ilinaldo smiled, and to the sable
Reporter of the royal message said,
“To solve the question, as I best am able,
“(If I in rules of court am rightly read,)
“Honour and place to glutton at the table
“Are duly yielded, as to dame in bed;
“But in the field, where warriors spur their steeds,
“The worth of man is measured by his deeds.”
While this conversation is passing, music sounds; the meats are served up, and the feast is commenced with all the pomp and circumstance of chivalric magnificence.
In the middle of this their merriment, four giants enter the further end of the hall, having between them a damsel of incomparable beauty, attended by a single knight. Many ladies (some of whose names are specified) were seated at the different tables: but all were outshone by the beautiful stranger. The Christians, lords or simple knights, swarm about the damsel, and every Pagan is in an instant on his feet. She smiles upon all; but forthwith addresses herself to Charlemagne. After a complimentary preface, “Sir King,” said the damsel, “ before I show the motive which has brought us hither, learn that this knight is my brother Uberto, and that I am his sister, Angelica; both of us banished without reason from the paternal mansion. Upon the Tanais, where we dwelt, two hundred days’ journey from hence, news were brought us of this feast; and we have traversed so many provinces to see your magnificence, and, if possible, to gain the wreath of roses, which is said to be the guerdon of the jousts.
“For this purpose, my brother awaits all comers, Christian or Saracen, at the stair of Merlin14; it being premised that the war is to be conducted on the following conditions: Whoever is unseated in the tilt, shall be allowed no further course or trial, but remain the prisoner of him by whom he was unhorsed: while whoever flings my brother shall have me for his reward; and Uberto shall depart with his giants.”
14 It may be observed, that the abode of Merlin and the tomb of Merlin are always placed by the first romancers, to wit, those of the Round Table, in Britain; and their constantly laying their scene in our island, and choosing their actors from thence, has led M. de la Rue, and after him, Mr. George Ellis, to suppose that these earliest romancers were subjects of English kings, who wrote for the amusement of their court, the language of which was Norman. The romancers, however, who celebrated Charlemagne, and who were doubtless French, very naturally chose their heroes from France, and transferred the scene to that country. To these, I have already said, that Boiardo and Ariosto are mainly indebted for their fictions.
She remains kneeling awhile before Charles, as waiting his answer. All behold the damsel in mute admiration; but, above all, Orlando, approaching her with downcast eyes, gives the first signs of the passion which was destined to be his ruin. While Orlando is thus love-stricken, he is not single in his folly; and even the grey-haired Namus, and Charles himself, participate in it. But, while these and all the rest gaze upon her in silence, Ferrau is so transported with passion as to be about to snatch her up in his arms, and transport her away from the presence. Respect for Charlemagne, however, restrains him. While this is passing, Malagigi, brother to Rinaldo, a puissant magician, closely observes the strangers, and reads in them some mysterious purpose, different from what they pretended to be the object of their expedition. Charlemagne had now recovered from his embarrassment sufficiently to speak, and plied Angelica with different subjects of discourse, for the purpose of detaining her; but at length, not being able to prolong the interview with decency, gave her a dismissal by according the request
The damsel has scarce left the city, when Malagigi
Still fearing for the king, and full of care,
Flies to his book, retiring from the revel,
To know the secret purpose of the pair,
And at what aim the knight and damsel level.
He reads; and, as he reads, in upper air
Is heard a voice, and next appears a devil,
Who bids, in haughty tone, the wise magician
Proclaim his will, and give him his dismission.
Malagigi having proposed his questions, the fiend informs him that Angelica is an enemy come to put a notable scorn upon Charlemagne, and that her father, who is an ancient Indian king, called Galaphron, of Catay, has dispatched her for this object, accompanied by her brother, Argalia, and not Uberto, as she falsely designated him: that she is full of malice, and read in every sort of magic, whilst her brother is as valiant in arms, gifted with a courser of marvellous swiftness, and armed with an enchanted lance: the virtue of this is such, that no knight (no, not even Orlando or Rinaldo) could resist its push; nor are his other arms inferior to his spear. To this; he has received from his father a ring, which, when on the finger, makes enchantment of no effect, and when placed between the lips renders the wearer invisible. Galaphron, it is added, reckons much upon these gifts, but yet more upon the beauty of his daughter. Hence he has dispatched Argalia with the damsel, in trust, that she shall entice the Paladins into duel with her brother, who, unhorsing them, will send them prisoners to Catay. Malagigi is much disturbed at the devil’s news, and determines to seek the damsel in person, and frustrate her design. Argalia was already reposing himself under a fair pavilion, pitched near the stair of Merlin, while
Angelica beneath a pine was sleeping,
Her long light tresses scattered on the grass,
Beside a limpid font, whose waters, leaping,
Fell back into a pool as clear as glass.
A giant had the damsel in his keeping,
Who might for a reposing angel pass.
Her brother’s ring the sleeping lady wore,
Whose hidden virtues were described before.
False Malagigi, borne on fiendish steed,
Meantime through fields of air in silence swept;
And now, dismounting on the flow’ry mead,
Approached the weary damsel where she slept,
By that grim giant watched, who, for her need,
Good guard upon the sleeping lady kept,
While others of her following paced the sward,
And (such their charge) kept wider watch and ward.
The necromancer smiles at seeing the whole party, as it were, delivered over into his hands, and opens his books for the purpose of beginning his operations. Whilst he reads, a heavy slumber falls upon the watchers; and, having drawn his sword, (for he was a belted knight,) he approaches the princess with the intention of putting her to death. He yields, however, to the enchantment of beauty, and determines to make a different use of the opportunity. Not aware that the enchanted ring was on her finger, which she had accidentally received from Argalia, he conceives he has rendered her sleep as fast as that of her followers, and clasps her in his arms; but the ring, which is proof against all spells, does its duty. Angelica wakes with a shriek, and Argalia rushes to her assistance. Being unprovided with other weapon, he avenges the insult offered to his sister with a cudgel; but as he is bruising the unfortunate Malagigi, Angelica cries to him to bind the ravisher fast, while she holds him; as he is a potent necromancer, who, but for the assistance of the ring, would laugh at chains. Argalia runs immediately to wake the giant, but finding, after some time, that this was a fruitless attempt, he himself binds Malagigi, hands and feet. The damsel this while possesses herself of the magician’s book, and having evoked his fiends, bids them convey her prisoner instantly to King Galaphron, and inform him that her project goes well, since she has mastered the only enemy whom she had reason to fear. Malagigi is confined by Galaphron, in a dungeon under the sea. In the mean time, Angelica dissolves the enchanted sleep of her followers.
While these things are going on, all is uproar at Paris, since Orlando insists upon being the first to try the adventure at the stair of Merlin. This is resented by the other pretenders to Angelica, and all contest his right to the precedency. The tumult is stilled by the usual expedient of casting lots, and the first prize is drawn by Astolpho. Ferrau has the second, and the giant Grandonio the third. Next to these came Berlinghier and Otho, then Charles himself, and (as his ill fortune would have it), after thirty more, the indignant Orlando.
The character of the holder of the first lot is now developed, who is to play a considerable part in the romance.
Astolpho, who the winning ticket bore,
Was nimble, and with youthful beauty blest;
And, for these gentle gifts, was prized before
Christian or Pagan princes, east or west;
With that, was rich, and full of courteous lore,
And always loved to go in gilded vest!
One only fault the prince’s pride might humble;
Sir Turpin tells us he was given to tumble.
Astolpho goes forth upon his adventure with great gaiety of dress and manner, and Argalia and he encounter, after having with much courtesy renewed the engagements, which were before specified as regulating the duel. They engage; when Astolpho is immediately tilted out of his saddle. His rage and surprise are excessive; but his painful feelings receive some relief from the kindness of Angelica, who, moved to compassion for his misfortune, and somewhat touched by his gallantry and grace, grants him the liberty of the pavilion; where he is treated with every sort of kindness and respect. Here he is assigned a magnificent bed; the others retreat to their couches, and thus passes the night.
The sleepers are awakened at dawn by Ferrau’s bugle, who, as next upon the list, claims the second course. Argalia goes forth to meet him, clad in his enchanted arms, and mounted on his horse Rabican, who is described as blacker than a crow, save that three of his legs were pie-balled, and that his forehead was marked with a star.
Ferrau undergoes the fate of Astolpho; but when unhorsed, refuses to abide, like him, the established conditions, and springing upon his feet, in despite of the protest of Argalia, renews the battle with his sword. Argalia’s giants now rush between the combatants, and attack him; their master, however, in courtesy, retires from such unequal fray, and stands apart till his giants are overthrown. He then renews the contest, and Astolpho, who had been waked by the disturbance, in vain seeks to allay it. Ferrau says that he is no vassal of Charles’s, and therefore is not bound by any pact respecting the duel, which he may have made with Angelica: and that he is resolved to win her and wear her. In answer to the observation of Argalia, that he is without a helmet, which had been beat off and broken by the golden lance, he observes, that without one, he is a fair match for his opposite.
This dispute had been carried on by the combatants on foot, but they now remount in order to decide it on horseback, when Argalia in his fury forgets his lance, which he has left leaning against a pine. Many blows had been given and taken without effect, when the two knights paused in mutual astonishment, and Argalia informed Ferrau that his efforts were fruitless, as his armour was enchanted; a communication which Ferrau repaid by observing that his skin was invulnerable with the exception of one side. The recital of these gifts, which produces a sort of reciprocal respect, leads them to a further parley; in which Argalia agrees to give Ferrau Angelica to wife, provided she consents to the arrangement. But Angelica, who is startled by Ferrau’s ugliness and fierceness, and more especially by his ill-shaped head and black hair, her favour being especially set upon a light-haired lover, entreats her brother, rather than sacrifice her to such a man, to renew his battle which had been suspended, while she transports herself by magic to Catay; she then observes he may watch his opportunity, to escape and follow her to the wood of Arden, where she will wait his arrival.
He, in consequence, communicates to Ferrau the refusal of his sister. The battle is renewed; and upon its renewal, Angelica disappears. She is soon followed by Argalia, who turns his back upon his adversary. Ferrau pursues, but sees no traces either of the damsel or the knight. In the meantime Astolpho, who finds himself at liberty, puts on his armour, and his own lance having been splintered in the joust, takes, unconscious of its virtues, that of Argalia, which was left leaning against the pine. Returning home, he meets Rinaldo, who had wandered out to the wood, to learn the fortune of Ferrau. He, too, hearing of the disappearance of Angelica, gallops away in pursuit, while Astolpho continues his road to Paris.
Here Orlando seeks him, and learns all that has passed. Distracted with the news, and, above all, jealous of Rinaldo, he too, waits, only till evening to join in the pursuit; when he makes his secret sally, and rides towards the wood of Arden. Thus, three champions, to wit, Ferrau, Rinaldo, and Orlando are entered in the chase.
This, while Charlemagne is proceeding in his preparations for the tournament, the prize of which was to be the Crown of Roses. Many fair feats had already been wrought, and the knights are in the heat of the jousts, when Astolpho pricks forth into the medley15; but his courser falls with him and dislocates his foot. All regret this accident of the English prince, who is carried to his palace where his foot is set. The jousts are continued by the others, from whom Grandonio the giant bears — away the honours of the field, wounding and unhorsing knights on all sides. In the meantime,
Astolpho was return’d into the square,
His single faulchion to his girdle tied,
And rode in gallant guise an ambling mare,
Unarm’d and weaponless in all beside:
And laugh’d and loiter’d with the ladies there,
And jested with the circle far and wide:
While he thus idly chatted, Gryphon fell,
Thrust by Grandonio from his lofty sell.
15 Mischia, melee.
All who contend with Grandonio suffer the same destiny; while the outrageous Pagan overwhelms Charles and his paladins with invective. On the other hand, Charles vents threats and imprecations upon the absent Orlando, Rinaldo, and Gano, expressing at the same time his earnest desire to be revenged upon the Saracens.
Astolpho, hearing this, retreats, unobserved, to his palace, arms himself at all points and reappears amongst the combatants; not, as the author observes, that he expects to do himself much honour; in which opinion he seems to have agreed with the multitude who hailed his entrance with smiles and whispers, but with the intention of doing his duty to his lord, and leaving the event to Heaven. Accordingly
Firm on his prancing steed, he louted low
In graceful act, and “ Know, Sir King,” he cried,
“I come to venge thee of thy Pagan foe,
“Knowing that thou such wish hast signified.”
As one whose mood was still fastidious; “ Go,
“Go in the name of God;” King Charles replied:
Then, turning to the lords that hemm’d his seat;
“There lack’d but this to make our shame complete.”
Astolpho, thus dismissed, pours a volley of abuse upon Grandonio, and tilts at him in fury. The golden lance works an unexpected miracle, and the giant tumbles like a tower that is undermined. King Charlemagne and all are in amazement, while Astolpho, though no less surprized at his own prowess, pursues his fortune, and clears the field. These events were immediately recounted to Gan, who was in his own house, and who, having armed a party of his kinsmen and retainers, comes before the king, and alleges some frivolous pretext for his tardy appearance; which, whether believed or not, is accepted by the sovereign. He now sends a message to Astolpho, proposing to close the tournament, as the paynims are defeated. To which the English prince replies, ‘ that he considers him every whit as false a Pagan as the others,’ and immediately attacks him with his lance. Gan, Pinabello and all their household are unhorsed; but while Astolpho is in full career, a traitor assails him from behind, and bears him to the ground. He rises in fury, tilts at friends and foes, and outrages all, king Charlemagne among the rest; by whose order he is at last surrounded, mastered, and carried off to prison.
He was here ill bested, yet not so ill, says the
author, as the other three, who suffered the
pains of love for Angelica. These all arrived
by different roads, and at different times in the
wood of Arden. The first comer was Rinaldo;
who, penetrating into the forest, beheld a beautiful fountain in the shade.
The alabaster vase was wrought with gold,
And the white ground o’erlaid with curious care;
While he who look’d within it, might behold
Green grove, and flowers, and meadow, pictur’d there.
Wise Merlin made it, it is said, of old,
For Tristan when he sigh’d for Yseult fair:
That drinking of its wave, he might forego
The peerless damsel, and forget his woe.
But he to his misfortune never found
That fountain, built beneath the green — wood tree;
Altho’ the warrior pac’d a weary round.
Encompassing the world by land and sea.
The waves which in the magic bason bound,
Make him unlove who loves. Nor only he
Foregoes his former love; but that, which late
Was his chief pride and pleasure, has in hate.
Mount Alban’s lord, whose strength and spirits sink,
For yet the sun was high and passing hot,
Stood gazing on the pearly fountain’s brink,
Rapt with the sight of that delicious spot.
At length he can no more; but stoops to drink,
And thirst and love are in the draught forgot:
For such the virtue those cold streams impart,
Changed in an instant is the warrior’s heart.
Him, with that forest’s wonders unacquainted,
Some paces to a second water bring,
Of chrystal wave with rain or soil untainted.
With all the flowers that wreathe the brows of spring
Kind nature had the verdant margin painted:
And there a pine and beech and olive fling
Their boughs above the stream, and form a bower,
A grateful shelter from the noontide hour.
This was the stream of love, upon whose shore
He chanced, where Merlin no enchantments shed;
But nature here, unchanged by magic lore,
The fountain with such sovereign virtue fed,
That all who tasted loved: whence many, sore
Lamenting their mistake, were ill-bested.
Rinaldo wandered to this water’s brink,
But, sated, had no further wish to drink.
Yet the delicious trees and banks produce
Desire to try the grateful shade; and needing
Repose, he ‘lights, and turns his courser loose,
Who roam’d the forest, at his pleasure feeding;
And there Rinaldo cast him down, at truce
With care; and slumber to repose succeeding,
Thus slept supine: when spiteful fortune brought
Her16 to the spot whom least the warrior sought.
She thirsts, and lightly leaping from her steed,
Ties the gay palfrey to the lofty pine;
Then plucking from the stream a little reed,
Sips, as a man might savour muscat wine;
And feels while yet she drinks (such marvel breed
The waters fraught with properties divine)
She is no longer what she was before;
And next beholds the sleeper on the shore.
Enamoured of the slumbering knight, she hesitates long between love and shame, but, at length, no longer mistress of herself, pulls a handful of flowers, and flings them in his face. The gallantry is lost upon Rinaldo; who wakes, and flies from her with loathing. She pursues, and entreats his compassion in vain; and, at length, wearied with the chace, sinks down upon the turf, and weeps herself asleep. Ferrau now arrives in the forest, in the hope of finding Angelica, or wreaking his vengeance upon her brother. Occupied with these thoughts he lights upon Argalia; who, having followed his sister, had dismounted, and was also sleeping under a tree. Ferrau unties the sleeper’s horse, and drives him into the thicket. His adversary’s means of escape thus intercepted, he watches till the sleeping man should wake; nor is his patience put to a long trial. Argalia soon opens his eyes, and is in great distress at finding his horse gone; but Ferrau, who is as quickly on his feet, tells him not to think of his loss; as one of them must not quit the place alive, and his own horse will remain the prize of the survivor.
The two warriors now again engage in battle, and closing, Ferrau, through a chink in his armour, strikes Argalia to the heart. Argalia sinks beneath the blow, and dying entreats his adversary to have regard to his honor, and cast him and his armour into the river; that his memory may not be disgraced by the knowledge of his having been vanquished in enchanted arms. Ferrau, who compassionates his fate, promises compliance, with the reservation of wearing his helmet till he can provide himself with another. Argalia consents by a sign, and soon after expires.
Ferrau, who had waited by him till he drew his last sigh, now puts on the helmet, which he had previously taken from his wounded adversary’s head in order to give him air; and having razed off the crest, places it upon his own. He then, with the dead body under his arm, having remounted his horse, proceeds sadly towards the neighbouring river, into which he casts Argalia, all armed as he was, conformably to his dying request. He then pursues his melancholy way through the wood.
This while Orlando had arrived on this theatre of adventures, and comes suddenly upon Angelica, who is described as sleeping in act so exquisitely graceful, that he gazes on the vision hi stupid wonderment, and, at last, to contemplate her more closely, throws himself down by her side.
Ferrau arrives at this juncture, and supposing Orlando, whom he had not recognized, to be Angelica’s guard, insults and defies him. The paladin starts up and declares himself; when Ferrau, though somewhat surprized, making a virtue of necessity, stands to his arms. A desperate duel follows: during this Angelica wakes and flies: Orlando proposes a truce to his adversary, that he may follow her; but Ferrau, whose courage was now up, tells him she shall be the prize of the conqueror, and refuses. The battle is therefore renewed with more fury than before. The author here exclaims:
Gifted with odd half lights, I often wonder
How I should think of love; if well or ill.
For whether ’tis a thing above, or under
The rule of reason, foils my little skill;
If we go guided by some god, or blunder
Into the snare, which warps our better will;
If we by line and rule our actions measure,
And ’tis a thing we take or leave at pleasure.
When we behold two bulls each other tear,
A cow the cause of strife, with mutual wound,
It looks as if such foolish fury were
In nature and controlling instinct found:
But when we see that absence, prudence, care
And occupation, can preserve us sound
From such a charm, or, if you will, infection;
Love seems to be the fruit of pure election.
Of this so many men have sung and told,
In Hebrew, Latin, and in heathen Greek,
In Egypt, Athens, and in Rome, of old,
Who govern’d by such different judgments speak,
That I can ill decide with whom to hold,
And cannot waste my time the truth to seek.
Let it suffice, that Love’s a wayward god:
And so heav’n keep us from the tyrant’s rod!
The truth of these reflections the author considers as strikingly exemplified by the combat between the champions, which is interrupted by the appearance of a strange damsel upon a panting palfrey, who clamours eagerly for Ferrau. She, perceiving him, entreats Orlando to forbear his blows; which he immediately does upon the damsel’s request. Addressing herself to the paynim, she informs him that she is his relation Flordespina, and dispatched in search of him, to say that Gradasso king of Sericane, a fiend incarnate, has invaded the Spanish dominions; that king Falsiron is taken, Valencia ravaged, Arragon destroyed, and Barcelona besieged; that poor Marsilius is broken down by so many calamities, and that his last hopes rest on him, in pursuit of whom she was wandering. Ferrau balances for a moment between love and duty, but at length determines to suspend his combat, with the permission of Orlando, who agrees to the proposal, and who himself follows Angelica. Ferrau, on the other hand, departs with Flordespina for Spain. The author here leaves each to pursue his separate quest, and returns to Charles. This monarch calls a council in consequence of intelligence received, which was similar to that brought by Flordespina to Ferrau. He observes in this council, that Marsilius is his neighbour and relation, and is yet more entitled to succour from a consideration of common danger; and in consequence, with the consent of his peers, dispatches Rinaldo with a great charge of men at arms against Gradasso, who had crossed the streights of Gibraltar into Spain. He at the same time constitutes Rinaldo lieutenant of his southern provinces, who departs for the seat of war; and all the knights present at the tournament assemble under his banner. His coming, as well as that of Ferrau, (now arrived) is highly gratifying to Marsilius, who had sheltered himself in Gerona. The greatest part of Spain (as stated) had been already sacked, and all the Spanish warriors (with the exception of Ferrau) who had returned to the defence of their country, were killed, or prisoners. Even the giant-king, Grandonio, who we lately saw braving Charlemagne and all his peerage, had sought refuge in Barcelona. Marsilius, on the arrival of the French succours, now marches to his relief. The banners of the allied army are no sooner distinguished by Gradasso, where he lay camped, and served by giant-kings, than he issues extravagant orders to his various vassals. Four of these he dispatches with their followers against Barcelona, with orders not leave a soul alive in that city, with the exception of Grandonio, whom he wishes (as he says) to take alive, that he may bait him with his dogs. Others are sent forth, with orders to take or destroy the most distinguished amongst the captains of the confederates. This last command is given to Faraldo, king of Arabia, who is enjoined to bring him Rinaldo and the banner of Charlemagne, which, it seems, was also one of the principal objects of his expedition.
The battle now rages in the field, and within the city of Barcelona, in which the army of Gradasso had previously made lodgements. While the warfare within the town is still doubtful, the bands dispatched against the confederates under Rinaldo, are, after a long contest, defeated; and one of the surviving giantkings reports their discomfiture to Gradasso, who immediately arms and goes forth against the conquerors. His first object of attack is Rinaldo; but Bayardo, startled by the appearance of the Alfana, a monstrous mare, on which Gradasso rode, made a leap of twenty feet into the air, and thus evaded the charge. Gradasso, though somewhat surprized, gallops on, and unhorses many of the best amongst the confederates, who are immediately taken and bound by Alfrera, one of his giant-kings, who serves him as a lacquey.
Rinaldo now wheels Bayardo round, and spurs him at Gradasso; and both charge with such fury, that the Alfana and Bayardo crumble under their riders, who, however, preserve then” seats. Gradasso, who first recollects himself, gives immediate orders to Alfrera, who was following him upon a camelopard, to secure Rinaldo and his horse; and according to his practice, himself follows up the pursuit of the confederates.
Alfrera has, however, a more difficult task assigned him than Gradasso had imagined; for Bayardo, having regained his feet, bears away his rider, who was not yet himself. The paladin, however, waking from his short stupor, rides again hi chase of Gradasso, himself pursued in vain by the giant Alfrera.
Rinaldo charges Gradasso just as he has unhorsed his brother Alardo, and discharges a furious stroke upon his head. Gradasso repays the greeting in a way that would have ended the strife, but for Mambrino’s helmet, which saved the knight from any worse evil than a concussion of the brain; while Bayardo again galloped away with him in a state of half stupefaction. Recovering himself a second time, and full of shame and fury, he returns to seek Gradasso, and the combat is renewed with more equality than was promised by its commencement; Rinaldo, counterbalancing the strength of his opposite, by his own superior dexterity, and the quickness and docility of Bayardo. The combatants are, however, separated, and borne asunder by the tide of battle. After different adventures, they yet again meet, when Gradasso observing that Rinaldo is surrounded by the troops of Sericane, courteously proposes that their duel should be deferred till the succeeding day, to be fought under the following conditions, by both combatants on foot: “ If Rinaldo conquers, he is to have back all the prisoners made by Gradasso; and if Gradasso wins the day, he is to have Bayardo for his prize; but is in either case to return home, and never more set foot in Europe.” Rinaldo willingly accedes to this, and a place is fixed on, near the sea, for the combat, to which both are to come, with no other than defensive armour and their swords. But the author, while the barriers are preparing, returns to Angelica, who, being returned to India, determines on setting Malagigi at liberty, and making him her mediator with the disdainful knight. She accordingly frees him from his dungeon, unlocks his fetters with her own hand, and bids him hi return to unloosen her own. She then returns him his book, explains herself more precisely, and promises him final liberty, on condition of his bringing back Rinaldo.
Malagigi calls up a demon with the aid of his book, mounts him and departs. He is entertained, during his journey, with a relation of Gradasso’s enterprise, by the devil; who told him, as the author observes, “ all that had chanced, and indeed more, which was so much the easier, in that he lied.” Malagigi arrived at his destination, finds Rinaldo rejoiced to see him, but immoveable on the subject of Angelica; and hence, after many fruitless endeavours, vanishes with a threat. Having reached a spot convenient for his incantations, he opens his book, calls up a legion of demons, and from these, selects Draghinazzo and Falsetta. The latter is — bid to take the appearance of one of king Marsilius’s heralds, the coat of arms and battoon; and thus equipped, to inform Gradasso that Rinaldo expects to meet him at mid-day. Gradasso accepts the invitation, and gifts the false herald with a cup.
The same devil, again transformed, comes now to Rinaldo, as if from Gradasso, but with a very different appearance. He has a turban on his head, wears a flowing robe, and has rings in his ears, instead of on his fingers. His object is to remind Rinaldo, on the part of Gradasso, to meet him in the morning, which had been the time previously stipulated. Thus each, on the supposed invitation of the other, prepares for a different appointment. Rinaldo necessarily is first at the place, but sees nothing but a
Small pinnace anchor’d by the shore.
He, however, immediately after, descries a figure on the beach, in the garb and guise of Gradasso, but which was, in reality, no other than one of the fiends, Draghinazzo, evoked by Malagigi, and thus transmogrified. The combat immediately begins; and Rinaldo, after some blows given and taken, making a desperate two-handed stroke at the supposed Gradasso, buries his sword Fusberta in the sand. The devil avails himself of the opportunity to escape, flies to the boat, and is putting off. Rinaldo, however, follows him into his barque, and deals a blow at him, but the demon leaps from prow to poop:
Rinaldo chas’d him back from poop to prow,
The sword Fusberta flaming in his hand;
But he from side to side, from stern to bow,
Flits, while the barque is drifting from the land.
Rinaldo marks it not; who thought but how
To reach the foe with his avenging brand;
Nor from his long day-dream of vengeance woke,
Till the false fiend was melted into smoke.
Yet the paladin will not give over his hopes of finding him, and renews a fruitless search above and below. In the meantime, the barque is seven miles from shore, and Rinaldo observes, too late, that she is scudding, self-steered, before the wind.
The vessel at length takes the ground near a beautiful garden, and Rinaldo lands in front of a palace, worthy of its grounds. Here, says the author, I leave him, with less compunction, as he is in good quarters, and proceed in pursuit of Orlando, who, having wandered as far as the Tanais, in search of Angelica, meets an old man weeping the loss of his son, who had been taken prisoner by a giant. The paladin delivers the youth, and the old man, in gratitude, presents him with a book, which is capable (he says) of resolving the questions of any one who consults it. Instructed by this book, he seeks a sphynx, who appears to have been a yet better resolver of doubts, hi order to obtain information of the dwelling-place of Angelica. The monster tells him, that this is in Albracca of Catay. In the meantime the sphinx has her question for the interrogator, which it is death not to interpret; and plies Orlando with the riddle, solved by CEdipus. Orlando, with intent to cut the knot which he cannot untie, draws Durindana, attacks the monster sword in hand, and at length slays and tumbles her from the rock on which she made her abode. He has now leisure to look in his book for the solution of the sphynx’s enigma; and finds that her question of “ What animal “begins his career upon four legs, after a time “continues it on two, and ends it upon three?” means Man; designating thus the child who crawls, the man who walks, and the old man who supports himself with a stick. Having cleared up this point, he pursues his way still poring upon the book, and soon arrives at a river dark, deep, and dangerous, whose precipitous banks afford no means of passage. Orlando rides along the shore till he comes to a bridge, where he dismounts. This is kept by a giant, who tells him that he who arrives at that bridge, which is justly named the Bridge of Death, has little while to live; for that all the roads which lead from it wind back to that fatal water, into which either he or Orlando must soon be plunged never to rise again. Orlando, however, who seems little impressed by this warning, springs upon the bridge, and attacks him. A desperate combat now ensues, but with the usual issue. The giant is slain. He, however, in falling, springs a clap-net of iron, which closing on the paladin, beats his sword out of his hand, and envelopes him in its folds.
As he lies helpless in this trap, a friar arrives, who, after vain attempts to release him, offers him spiritual consolation, which is ill received: but the friar, having the sinner at his mercy, continues to inculcate it; and in illustration of the powers of a protecting Providence informs him of a late miraculous escape of his own. He was travelling with certain of his brothers, when they were surprised by a horrible cyclops, who made a feast on one of his companions, but cast him from a rock, as worthless carrion; when he luckily lighted amongst the branches of a tree, where he lay concealed till evening, and then effected his escape. He is yet engaged in his narration, when he breaks off with a scream and flies.
His sudden terror was produced by the sight of the very Cyclops of whom he spoke, who came armed with a club and three darts. He, however, instead of pursuing the friar, stops to consider Orlando. He then takes up Durindana, which lies near, and hews the chain-net in pieces, without injury to the count, whose skin was enchanted. Orlando instantly starts up, his bones aching with the blows, which had not been able to penetrate his flesh; and seizing the giant’s club, they, having thus exchanged weapons, engage in a desperate and equal combat. For if Orlando’s skin was invulnerable, the giant’s armour, which was made of griffins’ claws, was equally impenetrable. At length Orlando bethinks him of the three shafts, which the giant had laid down, as well as his club, when he possessed himself of Durindana.
Seizing these, and launching one of them at his single eye, it penetrates his brain and stretches him dead. At this juncture the friar, who yet trembles with fear as well as joy, reappears, and entreats Orlando to accompany him towards the dead cyclops’ den, for the purpose of liberating his companions.
This done, Orlando rides on; when, arriving at a place where many roads cross, he meets a courier, and asking him news, learns that he is dispatched by Angelica, to solicit the aid of Sacripant, king of Circassia, in favour of her father, Galaphron, besieged by Agrican, emperor of Tartary, in Albracca. This Agrican had been an unsuccessful suitor to the damsel, whom he now pursues with arms. Orlando, who learns that he is within a day’s journey of Albracca, now thinks that he is secure of Angelica, and proceeds with rapture towards her seat.
Thus journeying, he arrives at a bridge which united two mountains, and under which ran a foaming river. Here a damsel meets him with a goblet, and informs him, with much grace of demeanor, that it is the usage of the bridge to present the traveller with a cup, which she offers to Orlando, and which the paladin, in courtesy, drains. He has, however, no sooner swallowed the julep which sparkles in it, than his brain dances, and he is no longer conscious of the object of his journey, or even of his own existence. Under the influence of this fascination, he follows the damsel into a magnificent and marvellous palace.
Here the author leaves the count to return to Gradasso, who, deceived by the false herald that appointed him to meet Rinaldo upon the sea-shore at noon, in vain expects his arrival. He waits there till night, when he retires full of indignation at the supposed cowardice of his opponent. In the meantime, Ricciardetto (who had been left by his brother, Rinaldo, in charge of Charlemagne’s army), on the paladin’s departure for the false appointment according to the instructions he had received, in case of his not returning in a given time, withdraws Charles’s forces from Marsilius’s camp, and returns to France.
Gano immediately cries out upon Rinaldo’s treason, and all is dismay. On the other part, Marsilius, thus deserted, has no means of safety, but in making peace with Gradasso, and consenting to hold Spain as his liegeman. In consequence of his so doing, Gradasso, strengthened by the accession of Marsilius, with Grandonio and his other vassal kings, marches upon Paris. Charlemagne, with all his peerage, sallies to encounter him; but his army experiences a disastrous rout, and he, with almost all his paladins, is captured; while Paris is immediately invested by the invaders.
Gradasso, however, does not abuse his victory: he takes Charles by the hand, seats him by his side, and tells him he wars only for honour. Hence he renounces all conquests, but insists on the monarch promising him Bayardo and Durindana, both the property of his vassals, the first of which, as he maintained, was already forfeited by the treason of Rinaldo. To this; Charlemagne and his peers in acknowledgment of their defeat, were to remain his prisoners for a day: Bayardo, who had been brought back by Ricciardetto, was to be forthwith delivered up, and Durindana consigned to Gradasso in Sericana, upon the return of Orlando to France. To these terms Charlemagne readily accedes, and sends for the horse to Paris.
Here, Astolpho had assumed the command, having obtained his freedom during the confusion, which followed upon the rout of Charlemagne’s army, and asserted an authority which, in the absence of the other peers, there was no one to dispute.
He receives with great indignation the messenger dispatched for Bayardo, and throws him into prison; answering the embassy by a herald, who says, on the part of Astolpho, “that Charles has no right in the steed; but that Gradasso may come and fight for him; in which case he will meet him in the field.”
The next day the two knights encounter, having previously established the conditions of their combat. The enchanted lance performs a new wonder; and Gradasso, the terrible Gradasso, is unhorsed.
According to their previous agreement, Gradasso is to give up his prisoners, and return to his kingdom of Sericana. Astolpho, however, begs him not to spoil a jest which he wishes to put upon Charlemagne and his paladins, by making them believe that the issue of the duel had been different from what it was, and that they, therefore, (in consequence of the first proffer of Gradasso not having been acceded to,) were still the prisoners of that sovereign. When Astolpho has sufficiently bantered both king, count, and bishop (for Turpin was amongst the captives, and one of the objects of his raillery), he falls upon his knees, begs pardon of Charles for his irreverence, and observes, that as he is ill looked upon in his court, he will leave the field to Gano, and set out on the morrow in search of his cousins Orlando and Rinaldo. Having said this, Charles and his peers are freed, and Gano is getting into his saddle; when he is brought back by Astolpho, who observes, that he only gives him his liberty, (since the disposal of all is at his option,) on condition of his swearing before Charles, to constitute himself his prisoner for four days, whenever he should enjoin it. Charles undertakes for his compliance with such a requisition, and seeks to detain Astolpho with the bribe of Ireland; but the duke is inflexible, and departs. Gradasso also returns into Sericana.
The author now returns to Rinaldo, who was landed by the self-piloted boat in what was, it seems, denominated The Joyous Garden. He is scarcely disembarked, before a lady appears, who takes him by the hand, and conducts him into a palace, where he is served by attendant damsels, with everj r sort of luxury and magnificence. At last, the chief of the servants tells him, that all this is his which he surveys, being the present of a lady, who, to have his love, has brought him out of Spain. While Rinaldo stands lost in astonishment, the name of Angelica, who is proclaimed by this man to be the mistress of the palace, breaks the charm, and he flies in fury through the garden, till, arriving at the landing-place, he leaps again into his pinnace. The bark, however, remains immoveable, and he is about to cast himself into the sea in despair, when it darts from the shore and traverses the waves.
Arrived on the banks of a well-wooded country, it again takes the land; and Rinaldo disembarking, encounters a hoary and aged man upon the beach, who has a melancholy story for the paladin, of a ravisher who had that moment carried away his daughter. Pursuing the thief, Rinaldo falls into a pit-fall, and is carried away prisoner by a giant; who bears him to a castle, situated upon a promontory, the walls of which were covered with maimed bodies and heads, some of which yet quivered with the remains of life.
The giant, entering the building, casts Rinaldo down before an old woman of stern and forbidding appearance; who thus addresses him:
“Haply, Sir Knight, thou hast not heard display
Our castle’s use,” exclaims the beldame old;
In the short time thou hast to live, a day
Is yet thine own, the story shall be told:
Then listen to the legend, whilst thou may,
And I the melancholy tale unfold.
Thou in that space may’st hear the tale of sorrow,
And witness to its truth in blood to-morrow.”
She pursues her story17 thus: “Know, Sir Stranger, that this castle was formerly held by a rich lord, famous for his magnificence and hospitality, and yet more so, for the incomparable beauty of the lady whom he had to wife. This castellan was hight Gryphon, his castle Altaripa, and Stella was the name of his wife. It was his favourite pleasure to disport himself in the green-wood near the shore, where thou arrived’st this morning, and roving one day through this, he heard the hunting-horn of a stranger, whom he invited to his castle. The guest was Marchino, lord of Aronda, and my husband; who was so smitten by the beauty of Stella, that he could not rest till he had made her his own. He, however, dissembled his evil intentions, and took a friendly leave of his entertainer. This was only to return, as a treacherous enemy. He, accordingly, bearing some resemblance to Gryphon, counterfeited his ensigns, and came back with a party of his retainers, whom he concealed, as well as those, in the neighbouring wood. He, in the mean time, pursued the chace unarmed. Gryphon again sought him out, and finding him apparently distressed by the loss of a hound, joined him in his search. He was thus decoyed into the ambuscade, and assassinated. Marchino, having disposed of his rival, entered Altaripa under the disguise of Gryphon’s ensigns, where he did not leave a soul alive, with the exception of Stella. She, while preserved by the conqueror, brooded in secret over schemes of vengeance, and after pondering some time, determined to have recourse to that animal whose wrath is the most intolerable, namely, the wife who has been once loved, and after slighted for another. This was no other than myself, and the cruelties which I perpetrated, well justified her expectation. Two children, whom I had by Marchino, I killed and quartered. Think upon this: yet know that I still triumph in the recollection of my vengeance. Their heads only, I preserved: the remainder I cooked, and served up to the wretched father for his supper. This done, I departed secretly for the court of the king of Orgagna, who had long been a wooer to me, without success. Him I stirred up to vengeance against Marchino, and brought in arms against his newlyacquired castle of Altaripa.
17 I have thought it the duty of a translator, to preserve this story; but I would say to my readers, in the words of Ariosto,
Lasciate questo canto, che senz’ esso
Puo star l’ istoria, e non sara men’ chiara.
Mettendolo Turpino, anch’ io l’ ho messo.
Leave out this canto; since the tale will tell
Without it, and the story is as clear:
Which, told by Turpin, I relate as well.
While I was gone on this errand, Stella, with dishevelled hair, a smile upon her lips, but bitterness in her heart, presented herself before the murderer of her husband, with the heads of his two children in a charger, and disclosed to him the horrid tragedy, at which he had been an unwitting assistant. The traitor hesitated for a moment, as if suspended between the desire of lust and vengeance, and then slew the lady, and satiated both; nay, as if in outrage of God and man, pursued his impious loves with the body, till I returned with the king of Orgagna.
After a desperate resistance, we possessed ourselves of Altaripa, and Marchino, having been made prisoner, perished in such tortures as he had deserved.
The king of Orgagna now departed, leaving me mistress of the conquered castle, with three giants for my defence, having first buried the unfortunate Stella, together with the body of Gryphon, which had been left exposed and subjected to outrage by the barbarous Marchino.
More than eight months had now passed when a horrid cry was heard from the marble sepulchre, in which Gryphon and Stella were laid, and we fled in dismay from the sound. Only one of my giants, more daring than his fellows, approached the tomb, and lifted the lid; when a monster thrust forth its claw, and having dragged him into the grave, devoured him alive. We immediately walled up the space about the monument, as a protection against its attacks, and the monster, having made its way out of the sepulchre, remains thus enclosed between the defences which we have constructed. But such is his rage and craving for human flesh, that we supply him with this, lest he should tear down the wall in his fury. Hence the usage of this castle; which is to seize on all strangers, in order to provide him with food. The quarters which you see exposed on the walls, are the leavings of the beast: for though the custom sprung out of necessity, my heart is become hardened with cruelty, and I now live for no other pleasure.”
Rinaldo hears the hag with stern composure, and desires no other favour than that of being exposed to the monster, clad in armour, as he is, and with Fusberta in his hand. This the beldam grants, with a bitter smile of mockery, and the night closes upon him in his dungeon.
The succeeding morning, he is lowered down from the wall into the space tenanted by the beast, the horrible fruit of Marchino’s intercourse with the body of Stella. A desperate combat now ensues, Rinaldo being unable to make any impression on the scales of the monster: while he, on the contrary, shears away plate and mail from the paladin. While he is engaged in this hopeless struggle, the beast seizes Fusberta with his teeth, and disarms Rinaldo, who is left without defence.
The author here leaves him, as he says, to speak of a spirit hardly less afflicted, though in another manner: he means Angelica; who expects in trembling, the effect of Malagigi’s attempt. He arrives, and states his failure, but would comfort the damsel with the thoughts of vengeance; relating to what a perilous pass he had brought the miserable Rinaldo; for it was by his stratagem that he was conveyed to Altaripa. She, however, is in despair at his danger, and overwhelms Malagigi with repoaches. He tells her, it is not yet too late to save him, and furnishes her with the means. These are a rope, with a noose at the distance of every palm, a cake of wax, and a file. Furnished with these implements, and instructed by Malagigi in the use of them, Angelica fliesr” through the air to the succour of Rinaldo.
The miserable paladin had, in the mean time, sprang upon a beam, which projected from the wall, and thus remained hanging between heaven and earth, with little hope even of present safety; since the monster continually leapt at him, and, often, all but reached him with his claws. It was now evening, when Rinaldo was surprised by the shadow of a woman, and soon after by the sight of Angelica, kneeling before him, self-suspended in air. She reproaches herself for having brought him into this peril, and opening her arms, entreats him to take refuge in them, and escape. Such, however, are the effects of the fountain of hate, that Rinaldo spurns at the proposal, and vows if she does not immediately depart, he will cast himself down from the beam. After long and fruitless efforts to move him, she at length descends, throws her cake of wax to the monster, and immediately flings her rope, knotted with nooses, before him. The beast, who takes the bait, finding his teeth glued together by the wax, vents his fury in bounds, and leaping into one of the snares is noosed by Angelica, who leaves him thus entangled, and departs.
Though the monster is delivered over to him gagged and bound, so invulnerable is his hide, that Rinaldo makes long and fruitless efforts to destroy him; till, at length, leaping upon his neck, he squeezes his eyes out of their sockets; and the beast expires under the gripe.
Another difficulty yet remained to be overcome. The walls were of immense height, and the only opening in them was a grated window, of such strength that Fusberta was unable to separate the bars. In his distress, however, Rinaldo perceived the file which had been left by Angelica on the ground, and, with the help of this, effected his deliverance.
He is immediately discovered and surrounded, but he charges and slays his pursuers; and the beldam, having witnessed the destruction of her followers, throws herself headlong from a balcony of three hundred feet in height.
Departing hence, Rinaldo returns to the seaside; but, unwilling to trust himself again to the bark, pursues his way along the shore.
The author now returns to Astolpho, who had set out in search of his cousins, Orlando and Rinaldo, splendidly dressed and equipt, as was his use, and mounted on Bayardo; in the intention of returning him to his lord. Having arrived in Circassia, he finds there a great army, encamped under the command of Sacripant, the king of that country; who was leading it to the defence of Galaphron, the father of Angelica. Astolpho visits the camp of this faithful, but ill-requited lover of the princess; and not having the leopard on his buckler, which was of gold, is known through the Circassian army as the knight of the golden shield. Sacripant, much struck by the appearance of Astolpho and his horse, accosts him affably, and
Demands how his assistance may be bought,
And bids him make his price of service known,
“With gift of this fair host, whom thou hast brought
To war in Indian fields from tower and town;”
The British duke replies, “With this, or nought.
Leave me, or make me at this price thine own.
Nor will I serve, sir king, for other pay,
Born to command, unweeting to obey.”
This, with other more extravagant speeches, leads the Circassian captains to consider him as a madman, and Astolpho is left to pursue his journey. King Sacripant, however, has been too much struck with the appearance of his horse and armour, to part with him so easily, and having divested himself of his kingly ornaments, he determines to pursue him.
Astolpho was in the meantime advanced a day’s journey upon his road, when he was overtaken by a strange warrior:
The stranger knight was named sir Brandimart,
Lord of the Sylvan Tower and its domain:
Through paynim countries, and in every part
Bruited for glorious feats, by hill and plain.
Well versed in tilt and tourney’s valiant art;
In his appearance graceful and humane:
Courteous, with that: and over and above
His other virtues, famed for constant love.
A gentle damsel had the knight for guide,
Who with Astolpho bold encountered there;
Blooming in early youth and beauty’s pride;
And in his faithful eyes as dear as fair.
Him from afar the British duke18 defied,
And proudly bade him for the joust prepare
And wheel and take his ground, and guard his right,
“Or leave his lady love, a prize to better knight.”
Brandimart is as ready for battle as Astolpho; but observes, as the latter has no lady, he may wager his horse; as it was but fair that each should deposit his stake. The proposal is acceded to, and the knights encounter. Brandimart is unhorsed, and his steed falls dead, while Bayardo remains uninjured by the shock.
The paynim knight observing the disconsolate looks of the damsel, is so overwhelmed with despair, that he draws his sword and is about to plunge it into his own bosom. Astolpho, however, holds his hand, and exclaims that he contended but for glory, and having won the honours of the fight, was contented to leave him the lady.
While Brandimart is vowing eternal service and gratitude, king Sacripant arrives, and now longing for the damsel of the one as well as the steed and arms of the other, defies them to the joust. Astolpho, as mounted, meets the challenger, whom he instantly overthrows, and presents Brandimart with his courser; leaving the king to return to his army on foot. This disposition is scarcely made, when Brandimart’s damsel changes colour, and tells them they are approaching the waters of Oblivion, and advises them either to turn back, or to change their direction. Both refuse; and pursuing their path, arrive at the bridge where Orlando was left.
The damsel, as before, appears with the enchanted chalice, which is rejected by Astolpho with contumely. She immediately dashes it to the ground, and a fire blazes up, which renders the bridge impassable. Upon this the damsel, who accompanied them, seizes each by the hand, runs with them along the river, and brings them to another secret and narrow bridge, which they cross in safety, and find themselves beside the enchanted garden.
Brandimart instantly batters down the gate, and the two warriors entering, are attacked by sundry knights known and unknown, who, having no recollection of any thing, join blindly in the defence of their prison-house. While these are engaged by Brandimart, Astolpho entering the garden and pursuing his career, meets with Orlando, who being, like the rest, mindless of kindred or of country, makes at the English duke, who only escapes by the activity of Bayardo. He clears the wall, and bears off his rider.
The author pauses to tell us that the enchanted water signifies the affection, impression, or opinion which man takes from others, either at sight, or upon trust; and the cup, which the damsel lets fall, is that which gives its colouring to the thing seen.
Bayardo, this time, continues to gain upon Orlando’s horse; and while Astolpho is thus born out of danger, Brandimart is overlaid with fearful odds in the enchanted garden; and his lady, trembling for the issue of the battle, entreats him to yield to necessity, and comply with the usage of the fairy. So saying, she flies; and Brandimart, obeying her commands, yields, and drinking of the cup, becomes as intoxicated as the rest.
Orlando returns from the fruitless pursuit of Astolpho, and excuses himself to the fairy, who was named Dragontina, for not having been able to overtake her enemy; who pursues his way to Albracca, which Agrican is about to besiege. Here he is welcomed kindly by Angelica, though she is somewhat outraged by his rhodomontades. He is not long before he attempts to put them in practice. For having one night ordered the drawbridge to be lowered, he sallies out alone, arrives in Agrican’s camp, and unhorses his warriors, right and left, by means of the enchanted lance. Being, however, surrounded and taken, his capture spreads consternation among the besieged, and the author says that no one dared sally from the city.
Relief, was, however at hand; for, as the burghers and soldiers, are one day, leaning over their walls, they descry a cloud of dust, from which horsemen are seen to prick forth, as it rolls on towards the camp of the besiegers, which lay between the town and the new army that was approaching.
This turns out to be the army of Sacripant, which, arriving the morning after the capture of Astolpho, attacks that of Agrican, with the view of cutting a passage through his camp into the besieged city. Agrican, however, mounted on Bayardo, taken from Astolpho, but not armed with the lance of gold, with the virtues of which he appears to have been unacquainted, performs prodigies, and rallies his scattered troops, which had given way to the sudden and unexpected assault. Sacripant, on the other hand, encourages his own by the most desperate acts of valour, and, as an additional incentive to his courage, sends a messenger to Angelica, entreating that she will appear upon the walls. She not only complies with this invitation, but sends him a sword as an earnest of her favour.
She arrives in time to see a single combat between the two leaders, Agrican and Sacripant: in this, however, her defender appears to be rather overmatched, when the Circassians break the ring, and separate the two combatants, who are borne asunder by the crowd. Sacripant, who was severely wounded, profits by the occasion, and escapes into Albracca, where he is put to bed and carefully attended.
The duel is an omen of the event of the battle, and the Circassians, who had at first penetrated within their enemies’ lines, are now routed and fly in confusion towards the town. Angelica orders the drawbridge to be lowered, and the gates to be thrown open to the fugitives. With these Agrican, who was not distinguished hi the hurly-burly, enters the place pell mell, driving both Circassians and Catayans before him, and the portcullis is instantly dropt.
Thus shut into the besieged city, the Tartar king continues the chase, regardless of his retreat being intercepted, and deluges the streets with blood. Sacripant, hearing the tumult, and learning the cause, leaps from bed, naked and wounded as he was, and armed only with his sword and shield, opposes himself to his fury. His example and his reproaches take effect. Her allies the flyers, and, fresh forces coming to his assistance, and pouring in upon Agrican from all sides, the Tartar king slowly and reluctantly retreats.
The author here suspends this story, to speak ofRinaldo; whom we left issuing from the castle of Altaripa, and pursuing his way along the beach. Here he meets with a weeping damsel, who, being questioned as to the cause of her sorrow, tells him she wanders upon a hopeless quest, and is in search of one who will do battle with nine knights, amongst whom is Orlando. This is the lady loved of Brandimart; to whom Rinaldo promises his assistance, trusting to accomplish the adventure either by valour or by skill. The author here pauses from his narrative, and exclaims,
To the grim winter and the dismal night
Succeed the balmy spring and cheerful day.
That battle had so fill’d me with affright,
That I was all confusion and dismay:
But now the strife is over, and ’tis light,
Of ladies and of love shall be my lay;
And I will piece my broken tale and tell
What good Rinaldo and the maid befell.
The damsel, on their setting out together on the adventure, insists upon Rinaldo’s taking her horse. This he refuses, and a contest of courtesy follows, which is ended by Rinaldo’s accepting the palfrey, on condition of her mounting upon the croup. This she does, in some fear for her honour; but finding the cavalier cold and silent, at last proposes to beguile the way with a story. To this he consents, and she begins her narration as follows:
“There lived of late, in Babylon, a cavalier, called Iroldo, who had for his wife a lady named Tisbina, to whom he was passionately attached. Near them dwelt a Babylonian gentleman, named Prasildo, rich, gay, courteous and valiant; who, making one of a party of both sexes, in a garden, where a game was played which admitted familiarities between them, fell desperately in love with Tisbina, whom he vainly solicited, by every kind of gallantry and magnificence.
“All his efforts were however unavailing; and, disappointed in his hope, he fell into a state of melancholy which rendered life intolerable. One only occupation seemed to afford him some little relief. This was to brood over his sorrows in a wood, situated at a small distance from Babylon.
“As he here one day indulged his grief, (and it grew by indulgence,) he fell into such a fit of passion, that he determined, after a broken soliloquy, to slay himself and die with the name of Tisbina on his lips. By a strange accident, his intention was overheard by Iroldo and Tisbina herself, who were walking together in the wood. They were both moved to compassion; and Iroldo insisted upon Tisbina’s offering some consolation to the despairing lover.
“Her husband leaving her, that she may execute this purpose, she comes upon him as if by accident; pretends that, though modesty has hitherto restrained her, she has not been insensible to his tenderness; and assures him, that, if he will give her an indubitable proof of his devotion, in undertaking an adventure which she has at heart, she will reward him with the possession of her person.
“She then tells him that beyond the woods of Barbary, there is a garden, which is surrounded by an iron wall, to be entered through four gates. These are respectively called the gate of Life, of Death, of Riches, and of Poverty.
“In the centre (she said) was a tree, whose top was an arrow’s flight from the ground, with leaves of emerald, and golden fruit. Of this tree she required a branch, and again renewed her assurance of the price which she would pay for the acquisition. Prasildo joyfully promised it, and would have promised sun, moon, and stars, as easily as the achievement of the adventure; upon which he immediately departs.
“The lady, it appears, dispatched him to the garden of Medusa19, for so it was called, that he might find a cure for his love in absence and in travel: or, if he reached the spot, might find there a yet surer remedy for his distemper. For the sight of Medusa, who was to be found standing under the wonderful tree, occasioned every one to forget the errand he came on, and, if he had any speech with the dame, his very name and self.
19 Designed, I suppose, as the type of conscience; as one “whose sight would make him forget the errand on which he came,” &c.
“Prasildo, departing on this forlorn enterprise, traversed Egypt, and arriving near the mountains of Barca, encounters an old man, to whom he relates the object of his expedition.
“The old man assures him that fortune could not have directed him to a better counsellor, and immediately furnishes him with his instructions.
“He begins by telling him that the gates of Life and of Death are never used as entrances to the enchanted enclosure; and that it is only through the gate of Poverty that man can penetrate into the garden of Medusa. He next informs him that Medusa herself guards the marvellous tree; whose appearance deprives whoever sets eyes on her of his memory; but that she is to be terrified into flight by the reflection of her own face.
“He therefore counsels Prasildo to provide himself with a shield of looking-glass, being in other respects naked; for such appearance is a fitting guise for entering the gate of Poverty. This (he observes) is the most terrible and the most severely guarded of all, being watched by Misery and Shame, Cold, Hunger, Melancholy, and Scorn. “There,” said he, “is to be seen Roguery stretched upon the ground, and covered with itch, and (in strange union,) Industry and Laziness, Compassion and Desperation.
“Having succeeded in the enterprise, and torn off a branch of the tree, you will seek the opposite gate,” he pursues, “ by which you are to retreat; and will there find Wealth seated, and on the watch. Here you are to make an offering of a portion of the branch, that Avarice, who plays the porter, may open to you quickly; a wretch who asks the more, the more you give. Here, too, you will see Pomp and Honour, Flattery and Hospitality, Ambition, Grandeur, and Favour: then Inquietude and Torment, Jealousy, Suspicion, Fear, Solicitude, and Terror. Behind the door stand Hate, and Envy with a bow for ever bent.”
“Prasildo having received his full instructions, now crosses the desert, and, after thirty days’ journey, arrives at the garden. Here he easily passes the gate of Poverty, the entry of which no one defends. On the contrary, there ever stands some one near it, to encourage and invite. “Having entered the inclosure, he advances, holding his shield of glass before his eyes; and reaching the tree, against which Medusa was leaning, the Fairy, who raises her head at his approach, and beholds herself in the mirror, takes to flight; scared, it seems, by seeing reflected in it the head of a serpent; though in other eyes her beauty is divine.20 Prasildo, hearing the Fairy fly, uncovers his eyes, which were before protected by his shield, and leaving her to escape, goes directly to the tree, from which he severs a branch. Then, pursuing the directions received, makes for the opposite gate, where he sees Wealth, surrounded by her followers. This gate, which is of load-stone, never opens without noise, and is for the most part shut: Fatigue and Fraud are the guides who conduct to it. It is, however, sometimes open; but requires both luck and courage to enable any one to profit by the chance. It was open the day Prasildo came, and he made the offering of half the bough, as he was instructed, and escaped with the remainder of his prize.
20 The circumstance of Medusa not being able to contemplate the reflection of her own hideous appearance, though beautiful in the sight of others; the fact of no one being able to win the golden bough which she kept, but by refraining from looking her in the face; and other circumstances, confirm the conjecture which I have hazarded in a preceding note.
“Transported with pleasure, he issues from the garden, passes through Nubia, crosses the Arabian Gulf with a fair wind, and journeys day and night till he arrives in Babylon.
“Arrived there, he sends immediate news of his success to Tisbina, who is in an agony at learning the unexpected result of her device. Iroldo is rendered equally miserable, but insists upon the necessity of her redeeming her promise, though he knows he cannot survive its execution. She feels that she can as ill survive Iroldo; and they at last resolve, that faith must be kept with Prasildo, and that they will both die. They accordingly send to an aged apothecary for a deadly draught, which they divide between them; and each having swallowed a due portion, Iroldo covers his face and throws himself on his bed, while the yet more miserable Tisbina proceeds to the residence of Prasildo. Here she attempts to dissemble her sorrow and to feign a cheerfulness, foreign to her heart. But Prasildo detects the imposture, and at last extorts a full confession of the truth. This declared, he reproaches her, as having little faith in his generosity, with a bursting heart renounces the proffered happiness, and dismisses her with an affectionate kiss.
“Tisbina, who had assured him that if she had known him first, she should have loved him as devotedly as she did her husband, now departs, overflowing with gratitude, and returns to Iroldo who was still unaffected by the draught, but prostrate on the bed. She relates to him the sacrifice of her lover. The husband springs from his couch, thanks God for this last mercy, and invokes every blessing upon the head of Prasildo. While he is yet praying, he sees the countenance of Tisbina change, who sinks, as if overcome by sleep. The husband sees the operation of the drink with horror, and is transported from his short fit of pleasure, to a state of the most agonizing despair.
“The situation of Prasildo is scarcely less intolerable; who locked himself up in his chamber, in order to indulge his grief in solitude, upon the departure of Tisbina. While he is shut up in darkness, the ancient apothecary calls, and tells his valet that Prasildo’s life depends upon his immediate admission to him. The valet was a native of Casazzo, of a merry humour and full of faith and attachment, diligent, active, and experienced in all his duties; but of a frankness which sometimes gave his master offence. This man, having a master-key, admits the apothecary; who excusing the intrusion by his zeal for Prasildo’s repose, informs him that he had that morning furnished the chambermaid of Tisbina with a potion, by her mistress’s order, which he believed was destined for his destruction, as Tisbina had been shortly afterwards traced to his house; but adds, that he need be under no apprehension, even if he has swallowed the draught: since, in the apprehension of mischief, he had substituted a mere sleeping-potion, the effects of which were only calculated to last for a few hours.
“Prasildo, transported with joy, immediately flies in search of Iroldo, whose stronger constitution had as yet resisted the soporific, and informs him of the joyful tidings of the apothecary. Iroldo receives the news in such a manner as might have been expected, and concludes with making Prasildo a return such as he had never looked for. In a transport of gratitude, he insists on his receiving Tisbina, and accordingly departs from Babylon, leaving her yet asleep. On waking, she is combated by opposing feelings; but at length, as the generosity of Prasildo had made more impression on her heart, than she was willing to confess, even to herself, yields to Iroldo’s will, and takes Prasildo for her husband.”
The damsel was yet speaking, when a loud cry was heard, which filled her with consternation. Rinaldo however, re-assuring her as he best could, pressed forward through the wood (for they were then in the centre of one) towards the quarter from which it proceeded.
He soon perceived a giant standing under a vaulted cavern, with a large club in his hand, and of an appearance to have struck the boldest spirit with dread. On each side of the cavern was chained a griffin, who, together with the giant, were stationed there for the protection of the horse which was once Argalia’s.
This monster of enchantment was the creature.
For of a mare, composed of spark and flame,
(Strange wonder, and beyond the laws of nature)
Made pregnant by the wind, the courser came;
Matchless in vigour, speed, and form and feature.
Such was his birth, and Rabican his name:
Who, with his fellow-steeds, disdain’d to share
The proffer’d corn or grass, and fed on air.
This marvellous horse being driven away by Ferrau, in the wood of Arden, previous to his fatal encounter with Argalia, who had possessed himself of him by enchantment, on finding himself at liberty, returned to his native cavern, and was here stabled under the protection of the giant and the griffins. Towards these Rinaldo advances with deliberate valour, over ground whitened with the bones of their victims. He is the first to smite at the giant, but his stroke is rendered of no effect by the enchanted helmet of his adversary. In a second blow he is more fortunate; but his adversary, though wounded near the heart, escapes, and looses his griffins. One of these immediately seizes the giant by a foot: rises with him into the sky, hovers over Rinaldo’s head, and at length drops his burden, with intent to crush the intruder. Rinaldo, however, who was as remarkable for his activity, as for his strength and courage, shuns the descending mischief, and the giant falls to the ground crushed, without harm to the paladin. In the meantime, the other griffin, having towered in air, pounces upon Rinaldo, who, watching his opportunity, wounds her desperately in her descent. She has, however, strength enough to soar a second flight, and swooping upon Rinaldo’s helmet, loosens its circle with her claws; tear it she could not, since this was the enchanted helmet, which was once the head-piece of Mambrino.
In this manner the griffin repeats her attacks, and Rinaldo fends and parries as he can; while the damsel stands trembling near, and witnesses the contest.
The battle still continued, rendered more terrible by the approach of night; when Rinaldo, fearing he should not be able to distinguish his enemy, determined upon a desperate expedient, in order to bring it to a conclusion. He fell, as if fainting from his wounds, and on the close approach of the griffin, dealt her a blow, which sheared away one of her wings. The beast, though sinking, griped him fast with her talons, digging through plate and mail: but Rinaldo plied his sword in utter desperation, and at last accomplished her destruction.
The damsel now entreats Rinaldo to mount and proceed; but he thinks the adventure ill accomplished, and proceeds towards the entrance of the cavern. This was secured by a door,
Whose marble pannel a mosaic fill’d
Of pearl and emerald, sown with care so nice;
That he who saw the piece, if little skill’d,
Might deem it was a treasure passing price.
In the mid-picture lay a damsel kill’d;
And, writ in golden letters, the device
This legend bore: “ Let whoso passes, plight
His word to ‘venge my death, and do me right;
“Or he shall die the death; but if he swear
To slay the traitor who my death design’d;
The enchanted courser shall the warrior bear,
A courser that is swifter than the wind.”
The prince stopt not to think; but plighted there
In solemn form, his promise, as enjoin’d;
His promise to avenge, alive or dead,
The slaughter’d damsel’s blood, unjustly shed.
Then enters, and beholds the courser tied
With chains of gold, so famous for his speed.
With foot-cloth of white silk he was supplied,
And all things else convenient for his need.
Tho’ coal-black all the rest, the tail was pied,
And starred with white the forehead of the steed;
And white one foot behind. Bayardo’s might
Was more: but this had pass’d a dart in flight.
Rinaldo is delighted with his adventure, and, while surveying the steed, beholds a book, secured by a chain, in which was written in blood the history of the damsel’s death.
The book related that Truffaldino, king of Baldacca, had a count for his neighbour, distinguished for his virtues and accomplishments, whom that evil-minded prince misliked on that very account. His name was Orisello, and Montefalcon was that of the castle where he resided. This lord had a sister as distinguished for her merit, called Albarosa, who loved Polindo, a noble knight of equal virtue and daring.
The castle was built upon a rock, and so well fortified, that Truffaldino, who had warred upon the count, though he had made several assaults upon it, had always been defeated in his attempts.
Things being in this state, Polindo, who had a great love for travel, and often wandered from court to court, arrived at that of Truffaldino; who, for his own evil views, shewed him great favour, and having acquired his confidence, promised him assistance in his designs upon Albarosa. As a means of forwarding these, he presents him with a castle of pleasure, situated a day’s journey from Montefalcon; and Polindo having persuaded Albarosa to elope with him, carries her thither; but while they are supping together, with infinite delight, Truffaldino, who had entered the castle by a subterraneous passage, unknown to its new possessor, breaks in upon them with a party of his retainers, and binds them both. He then dictates a letter to the lady, which he orders her to send to her brother Orisello, in order to decoy him into his hands. She refuses; when the tyrant puts her to the torture, in the presence of Polindo, before whose eyes she expires, refusing compliance with her latest breath.
Rinaldo, having read this dreadful history, swears anew to avenge the treason, and, mounted upon Rabican, issues forth from the cavern. He and the damsel, however, have not ridden far, when the light fails them in a forest, where they dismount, secure their horses, and compose themselves to rest.
Beside the maid with zest Rinaldo sleeps;
For him, nor time, nor place, nor beauty move.
From whence we learn the antidote, which keeps
The heart and mind from that which is above
All other cure; that he, who sows and reaps,
Or tilts and tourneys, never dies of love:
But in this book I am ill read, nor can
Bolt, as I would, such matters to the bran.
And now the air on every side grew light,
Though the sun shew’d not yet his golden ray;
With few and fading stars the sky was dight,
And the glad birds rang out their matin lay.
Such was the season, neither day nor night;
When the maid view’d Rinaldo where he lay;
Who from her grassy couch before had crept,
And watch’d the weary warrior as he slept.
Of lively visage, though composed to rest,
The lusty knight in early youth appear’d,
Light in the flanks, and large across the chest;
And on his lip scarce bloom’d the manly beard.
On him the damsel gazed with alter’d breast,
To her by new-discovered gifts endear’d:
For slumber ever gives the sleeper’s face
I know not what of loveliness and grace.
While the damsel is engaged in contemplating the knight, she is startled by a loud roar, and turning, sees a centaur with a live lion, which he had just taken, in one hand, and a club and three darts in the other. Rinaldo is at the same time awakened by the sound, and grasping his shield, or rather the remnant of it, which had been left by the griffin, advances to her assistance.
The centaur now leaves his prey, and flying to a little distance, launches his darts at the paladin. These he avoids by his agility, when the monster returns and charges him with his club. Rinaldo, thus pressed, shelters himself, by placing his back against a pine, and maintains the combat with Fusberta. The centaur, who had at first seemed to have the advantage, in being able to curvet about the knight, and threaten him behind and before, finding himself deprived of this double means of annoyance, leaves him, and gallops after the damsel, who had in the meantime seated herself upon her palfrey. From this he snatches her in fury, throws her on his own croup, and flies with her through the forest.
Rinaldo, who is this while engaged in mounting Rabican, follows; and, such is the swiftness of his horse, is almost immediately up with the beast; who, being overtaken on the brink of a rapid river, casts his burden into the stream, which carries it away. Rinaldo and the centaur again join in battle; at first on the shore, and afterwards in the water. The paladin at length slays his savage opponent: but having slain the monster, is in doubt what course to pursue.
He at last determines to proceed in the adventure in which he had embarked, being especially moved thereto, by the hope of delivering Orlando. Deprived then of the guidance of the poor damsel, he resolves to steer the same northern course in which she had before directed him.
Here, however, according to the author, Turpin leaves the story to return to Albraccn. Agrican was left there, surrounded and alone, in the midst of his enemies. Whilst he is thus reduced to the last extremities, he is saved by the very circumstance which threatened him with destruction. The soldiers of Angelica, closing upon him from all parts, had deserted their defences, and his own besieging army enter these pell mell, in a part where the wall is accessible.
In this way was Agrican rescued, the city taken by storm, and the miserable inhabitants put to the sword. Angelica, however, with some of the kings who were her defenders, and amongst whom was Truffaldino, saved herself in the citadel, which was planted upon a rock. Hither also came Sacripant when all beside was lost.
But though the situation of the fortress rendered it impregnable, it was scantily victualled and ill provided with other necessaries besides food. Under these circumstances, Angelica announced to those blockaded with her in the citadel, her intention to go in quest of assistance; and, having plighted her promise to come back within a certain period, set out, with the enchanted ring upon her finger.
Mounted on her palfrey, the damsel passed through the enemies’ camp at night, without having occasion to avail herself of the talisman, and by sunrise was many miles clear of their encampment.
She at length arrives near Orgagna in Circassia, and here encounters an old man weeping bitterly, who entreats her assistance on behalf of his only son, who is dying of a fever. The damsel, who was well skilled in medicine, promises succour, turns her palfrey, and accompanies the elder.
This old man was a traitor, and his story a fiction, formed for the purpose of getting her into his hands. He was, it seems, employed to inveigle and capture damsels for the king of Orgagna, and for this purpose brought those who followed him to a tower, built over a river, which served him as a dungeon for his prisoners. Angelica following him thither, the door closed upon her, and she found herself a captive with many other dames and damsels. Amongst these was Flordelis, the lady of Brandimart, who, when cast into the river by the centaur, had drifted with the current, and was taken up more dead than alive, by the wicked elder. She now relates her adventures to Angelica, and tells her how she was going, accompanied by Rinaldo, to the garden of Dragontina, where Orlando, Brandimart, and many other valiant knights were enchanted by that fairy.
Angelica treasures up their history in her mind, as useful to the purpose which she had in hand, and on the door of the tower opening, to admit a new victim, slips the ring into her mouth and escapes.
Being again at liberty, she sets out for the garden of Dragontina, and, entering it unseen, disenchants Orlando, Brandimart, and the rest, by a touch of her talisman. These she conjures to assist her in the recovery of her kingdom, and all depart together for Albracca.
In the meantime a revolution had taken place in the citadel of that metropolis. Truffaldino, always false, had surprised Sacripant, and the other wounded princes in their beds, and cast them into prison. This done, he sent a messenger to Agrican, with an offer to deliver the fortress into his hands. Agrican, however, received the proposal in a manner little expected by Truffaldino, whom he reviled as a traitor and a coward; declared that he would never be indebted to fraud, for that which he could have by force; said he knew the extremities of the garrison, which must soon be his, and declared, that as soon as the place was in his possession, he would hang up Truffaldino by the heels.
Soon after this, Orlando, with his friendly squadron of knights (nine in number), with Angelica in the midst of them, arrives before Albracca; and charging through the camp of Agrican, arrives at the foot of the citadel: this is, however, kept against them by Truffaldino, who appears upon the walls, and declares that he will only admit Orlando and his followers, on their swearing to protect him for ever from the vengeance of Sacripant and the others; whom, for his own safety, he has been under the necessity of casting into prison. Orlando indignantly refuses; but, conjured by Angelica, consents; as do the others who accompany him; and after the oath has been taken as enjoined, the squadron enters the fortress.
This, however, is found so destitute of food, that a sally is resolved upon for the purpose of provisioning it: it is to be made by Orlando, Brandimart, Adrian, Clarion, and Uberto of the Lion; while Gryphon and Aquilant remain at home for the protection of Angelica and the citadel.
Orlando and his friends having made the warder lower his drawbridge, ride boldly towards the enemy’s camp; and Agrican, marking their scanty number, bids his squadrons stand apart, and leave a fair field for himself and Orlando, who engage in a desperate duel. While they are employed in this, with little vantage on either side, and to their mutual astonishment at finding themselves so equally matched, a loud larum is heard from the citadel, which announces the arrival of succours.
This was an army, raised by Galaphron, for the relief of Albracca; the vanguard commanded by a vassal giant; the second body by Marphisa, a young Indian queen, who had made a vow in her infancy, never to lay aside her armour, till she had taken three kings prisoners, to wit, Charlemagne, Gradasso, and Agrican; while the rear-guard was conducted by Galaphron himself. The van-guard, led by the giant, is immediately engaged with the besiegers; and its leader, armed with an immense hammer, deals such destruction amongst their ranks, that all is speedily in confusion and disarray.
Agrican, witnessing the rout of his followers, now entreats Orlando, for his lady’s love, that their combat may be suspended till the morrow, in order to give him an opportunity of rallying the fugitives. This Orlando not only grants, but offers to assist him in his design. The offer is, however, courteously declined by Agrican, who, flying in pursuit of the giant, unhorses him, and leaves him desperately wounded to the daggers of his followers. He himself charges the troops who come under the giant’s conduct; and the tide of battle is turned.
No attempt to stop the confusion of the vanguard is made by Marphisa, who this time was retired from the field, and sleeping under a tree.
But first the queen her chamber-wench bespoke.
“Attend to my command,” Marphisa said,
And when thou seest our Indian army broke,
And Galaphron, its royal leader, dead,
When all these things shall be, ’twere time I woke,
Then, bring my steed and rouse me from my bed.
But till these things shall be, such care delay,
“’Tis then this single arm shall change the day.”
Galaphron now observing the rout of his vanguard, determines to retrieve things, or perish in the attempt. With this resolution he spurs towards the enemy; when Angelica, beholding his danger from the walls, sends a messenger to Orlando, to entreat his assistance for her father; reminding him that he fought beneath her eyes.
The author here leaves the story suspended, and returns to Rinaldo; who journeying. northward, in the direction which Flordelis, the damsel of Brandimart, had first given him, arrives at a fountain; where he finds a cavalier weeping upon the ground. Having long observed his grief in silence, he at length dismounts from his horse, and entreats the sorrowing knight to inform him of its cause.
The stranger tells him that his misery is such as can find no remedy but in death: nor does the fear of that oppress him; but the knowledge that his death must be followed by that of another, llinaldo entreats him to explain how this can be, and prevails on him to relate his history at length.
This the stranger began in the following manner: “ About twenty days’ journey from hence is situated the famous city of Babylon, of which Tisbina was the wonder; a lady alike renowned for her charms and virtues. Of this treasure I became the possessor; yet, having possessed her, found it my cruel duty to vield her to another. For two vears afterwards I wandered, almost deprived of my reason; but time at last brought with it some alleviation of my sorrow. To this common remedy of grief was united the reflection that I had resigned her to the most virtuous and most courteous of men; and that, however dear it might cost me, it was impossible to repent my sacrifice.
“While I was thus wandering, my evil fortune led me into Orgagna, whose rightful king, Poliphernus, was absent with the army of Agrican; his kingdom having, during his absence, fallen into the possession of an evil woman, who makes all strangers her prey. This enchantress (for such she is), whose name is Falerina, has a beautiful garden, which is only open towards the east; where a serpent keeps the gate, to whom Falerina gives her unfortunate prisoners to be devoured. The names of these are paired, a cavalier and a lady, according to the order of their arrival; and a couple is thus every day offered to the monster.
“I was amongst the prisoners of Falerina; when tidings of my imprisonment, for my greater misfortune, reached the ears of Prasildo, the noble gentleman to whom I had relinquished Tisbina. Unknown to me, he immediately set out for the enchanted garden, loaded with treasure, with which he attempted to accomplish my release. All his endeavours, however, were vain; and desperate of accomplishing it in any other way, he offered himself as a victim in my place. This offer was accepted: I was thrust out of the dungeon, and he remains a prisoner in my stead. This day is that appointed for his sacrifice, which shall not be consummated, whilst I am alive: for it is my resolution, when he is led out of prison to be conducted to the place of punishment, to attack his guards and perish in his defence. My single source of grief is, that I shall not be able to purchase his deliverance with my life.”
Rinaldo bids the stranger be of better cheer, and offers to join him in the attack of Prasildo’s guards, to which Iroldo, who conceives this will be a useless sacrifice of life, very unwillingly accedes.
The issue of the attempt is, however, very different from what Iroldo had anticipated. The rabble, who were conducting two prisoners to the place of execution, are set upon by the knights, and scattered on all sides; principally by the valour of Rinaldo.
In the male prisoner Iroldo recognizes Prasildo, as he had expected; and the damsel turns out to be Flordelis. Rinaldo is now impatient to crown his victory with the destruction of the enchanted garden; but the damsel, his former guide, after vainly seeking to terrify him by a description of the various monsters and enchantments by which it was guarded, reminds him of the imprisonment of Orlando, and his unaccomplished promise to achieve the destruction of the garden of Dragontina. This consideration prevails over his anxiety to demolish that of Falerina; and in company with his two friends and the damsel, who all become Christians in admiration of his prowess and in gratitude for their deliverance, proceeds on his journey towards the garden of Dragontina.
This however had been previously destroyed and effaced, even to the last vestige, by the talisman of Angelica.
The knights, pursuing their journey towards its former situation, meet on their way a fugitive from Agrican’s army; who gives such an account of the prowess of a champion who fought upon the part of Angelica, that Rinaldo is persuaded this must have been Orlando; though all are at a loss to imagine how he could have been freed. They had not proceeded much farther, when they saw a warrior under some trees, to whom a damsel was presenting a horse. This warrior Flordelis recognized by her bearings for Marphisa, and who she especially counselled her companions to avoid. They, however, and more especially Rinaldo, treated the caution with contempt, and made boldly towards the virago.
As she is just mounting, to defy them to the joust, she is approached by an elderly man, all in tears, who relates the overthrow of Galaphron’s vanguard, and entreats her assistance; which she promises to bestow, as soon as she shall have unhorsed and taken the approaching strangers.
Advancing against them, she first encounters and overthrows Iroldo and Prasildo in succession, who are made prisoners by some of Marphisa’s followers, that were in waiting, together with the attendant damsel. She next meets Rinaldo, and breaks upon him an enormous lance, which had never yet failed her. Rinaldo too breaks his upon the damsel, and both, casting away their broken spears, encounter with their swords. Here Rinaldo’s dextrous skill in defence, and the superior temper of Fusberta, give him a temporary advantage; and in parrying a blow of his opponent, he beats the faulchion out of her hand. Full of fury, the virago deals him a deadly blow on the face with her gauntletted hand in return, and makes him reel in his saddle; while Rabican wheels round and carries off his half-stupefied rider. Marphisa instantly springs to ground and regains her sword, and Rinaldo recovering himself again spurs his courser to the encounter.
In the mean time, Orlando, at the command of Angelica, had galloped to the assistance of Galaphron, at the head of his brave companions, and had again changed the fortune of the day. He and Agrican now meet a second time in the medley, and renew the contest with more fury than before; and Agrican, being at last convinced that it will be impossible for him to effect any thing against Albracca but by the destruction of Orlando, determines to bring the battle to a desperate issue, and in order to get his adversary into a place where they shall be secure from interruption, feigns to fly; and is followed by Orlando to an open space in a wood, in the middle of which is a fountain. Here, after mutual reproaches, they again charge each other with their swords, and still with doubtful success. Night closes upon the combatants, who have passed the greater part of the day in the interchange of blows.
The two champions again suspend their combat almost of necessity, and agree upon a truce till day-light. They accordingly lie down together and engage in a friendly conversation. During this Agrican makes out his antagonist to be Orlando; and Orlando seizes the opportunity to attempt his conversion. Agrican, however, receives the proposal with utter contempt, and observes that love and arms are the only subjects of conversation becoming a knight.
This change of theme almost necessarily leads to the mention of Angelica, and the rivals, being kindled by the discourse which ensues between them, into new animosity, remount their horses and attack each other in the dark.
The contest is thus continued with various success, and day breaks upon this desperate and unheard-of duel. At length, however, the fortune of Orlando prevails, and he after receiving many desperate contusions (for wounded he could not be), inflicts a deadly gash in his adversary’s side.
Agrican is now deserted by his lofty spirit, and demands baptism from the hands of Orlando:
While tears descending bathed his manly face,
The gentle count dismounted to his aid,
Then locked the wounded knight in his embrace,
Upon the fountain’s grassy border laid:
And kiss’d his fading lips, and sought his grace,
And of the mischief done forgiveness prayed.
The speechless Tartar king his head inclin’d,
And with the cross his brows Orlando sign’d.
When having to his sorrow found that he
Was breathless, and all vital warmth was fled;
He weened his gallant spirit was set free,
And by the crystal fountain left him dead;
Clad as he was in armour cap-a-pe,
With sword in hand, and crown upon his head:
Then first towards his courser turn’d his view,
And in that steed the good Bayardo knew.
He is assured of this by a closer examination of the gentle horse, who comes neighing to greet the kinsman and comrade of his master.
Mounted upon him, and leading his own Brigliadoro, the count leaves the place, but has not rode far, before he hears the clash of weapons; when, having first secured Brigliadoro, he rides in the direction of the sound; and, guided by it, discovers a damsel, whom three giants were conducting, with a camel and much treasure, which they had carried away by force. One of the giants had charge of the lady; while the other two maintained a combat with a cavalier: but this story is broken off, by the author, who hastens to tell the effects, produced by the death of Agrican.
All was rout and dismay in the Tartarian army; and Galaphron entering the enemy’s camp, set free Astolpho and the other prisoners, who were detained there. Astolpho is scarcely presented to Angelica, before he demands the means of avenging himself on the enemy, and being furnished with a horse and arms, immediately returns into the field. Here he is fortunate enough to meet one clad in his own armour, and armed with the enchanted lance.
Of these he immediately repossesses himself, and joins Galaphron and his troops, who had pursued the flying enemy to the banks of a river, fast by where Rinaldo and Marphisa were still engaged. Marphisa was protected by enchanted harness, yet was armed with but half a sword; which, as related, was severed by Fusberta. On the other hand, the greater part of Rinaldo’s defensive armour had been hewed away.
Galaphron instantly knows Marphisa by her cognizance, but is at a loss to distinguish Rinaldo; till, observing Rabican, who had belonged to Argalia, he conceived that he saw in him the murderer of his son. Under this persuasion he rode at Rinaldo, and smote him with all his force, when Marphisa, enraged at this interference, immediately turned her arms against her aged commander. Brandimart and others coming up, rescue him from the hands of the virago, whom they take for some warrior of the Tartar troops; when Rinaldo, as generous as Marphisa, not enduring to see his former enemy overlaid with odds, joins her against those with whom she is now engaged. The main body of Galaphron’s army coming up, reinforces the enemies of Marphisa; who is on her part supported by the arrival of her own division, by whose succour, joined to that of Rinaldo, she is enabled to repel the assailants.
All this time, Iroldo, Prasildo, and Flordelis, were standing at some distance, and the damsel of Marphisa, was entertaining them with a history of the feats and prowess of her mistress. Flordelis is by this alarmed for the safety of Brandimart, one of the first who had assailed Marphisa, and goes in search of him amongst the warriors, whom the virago and Rinaldo had scattered, and who were making, in utter rout and confusion, for Albracca. She, however, to her infinite content, finds him safe and standing apart from the fray, he having separated from the enemies of Marphisa, after she was oppressed by numbers. The happy lovers, thus re-united, retire into a neighbouring wood, and after giving a loose to their mutual tenderness fall asleep upon the grass.
Here, however, a new and unexpected peril was impending. Their caresses were unfortunately overseen by a hermit, who dabbled in necromancy, and who, excited by the beauties of Flordelis, determined on making her his prize. Among other secrets, he was possessed of a root, which had the faculty of throwing the person to whom it was applied, provided it touched any part of the naked body, into a profound and indissoluble sleep. Armed with this, he approaches Flordelis, lifts her coats, and applies it to her thigh. Having thus so riveted her natural slumber, that he was sure she could not wake for an hour to come, the hermit snatches her up, and bears her off; being afraid to try the virtues of his root upon Brandimart, lest he should awake before the charm was consummated.
Brandimart slept soundly till he was awakened by a loud noise. At the same moment he missed Flordelis: yet, notwithstanding his unutterable grief, approached the quarter, from whence the sound proceeded, in which he distinguished the cries of a woman in distress.
On his arrival he found three giants, who were conducting a file of camels. Two of them followed, and another preceded the string, leading one, on which was seated a damsel, with dishevelled hair and weeping bitterly. In her Brandimart believed that he recognised Flordelis, and galloped in fury against the ravishers.
The giants instantly prepare to resist him, and in the combat which follows, he is put to great peril, and loses his horse.
It is at this moment that Orlando, who had lately slain Agrican, comes to his succour. His assistance renders the combat more equal: but Brandimart, though he has killed one of the giants, is beaten down by another. Orlando, however, avenges him on his enemy, and clears the field. He has now leisure to look to his bleeding friend, and finding there is yet life in him, consigns him to the care of the rescued damsel, who applies the proper medicaments to his wounds.
Marphisa and Rinaldo were this while still in full pursuit of their enemies, who found refuge within the citadel of Albracca. Marphisa having chased them up to the gates, menaced Galaphron with vengeance; and, indeed, she and Rinaldo had now a common cause. Marphisa on account of her recent quarrel with her former leader; and Rinaldo since the fountain of hate had disposed him to enmity with Angelica, and the oath, he had sworn on winning Rabican, bound him to take vengeance on Truffaldino, one of her defenders. They accordingly sit down before the place, and, on the second day, Rinaldo appears beneath the walls, sounds his horn and defies Truffaldino, king of Baldacca by the titles of traitor, renegado and tyrant.
There were at. this time, within the fortress, many warriors who had sworn to defend him against Sacripant and Torindo, whom he had imprisoned, and against all others whatsoever. Truffaldino calls on these to fulfil their engagement, and several knights, with the traitor king in the midst of them, descend from the citadel to do battle with Rinaldo, on his behalf.
These were the brothers Gryphon and Aquilant, who had enchanted horse and armour; Uberto, Adrian, and Clarion. They attack Rinaldo singly and successively. He soon defeats the two first comers, but he finds himself better matched with Gryphon of the enchanted arms; with whom he engages in a long and doubtful battle, after a fruitless expostulation and attempt to negotiate on the part of Gryphon.
Leaving these, the author returns to Brandimart; who, restored to life by the skill of the damsel, whom he and Orlando rescued from the giants, is rendered desperate by the discovery, that she is not Flordelis. He curses the hour in which he was rescued from death, as well as that in which he was born, and recapitulates all the circumstances of his life in the following apostrophe:
“Thou took’st me, Fortune, from a royal dome,
(Such early blow thy deadly malice gave;)
And I, thus ravished from my noble home,
In other lands was sold to be a slave;
And now, long doomed in foreign climes to roam,
But her remember to whose breasts I clave;
(My father’s and my country’s name effaced,)
My mother’s in my mind is only traced.
“Never did evil destiny so lour,
As upon me; to early bondage sold,
With one, entitled Lord o’ the Sylvan Tower:
When, but to make me suffer sevenfold,
Softened awhile appear’d the faithless Power;
And the good Master of the Sylvan hold
Freed me; and having none his name to bear,
Of his broad lands and living made me heir.
“But Fortune had so marked me for her prey,
That to fill up the bitter cup of woe,
Fairest among the fair, a damsel gay
She chose in her displeasure to bestow;
Simply to take the precious prize away.
Then can I choose but sink beneath the blow?
O thou, that hast renewed my fleeting breath,
Undo thy work, and give me back to death.”
Orlando, and the charitable damsel sympathise deeply in his grief; and the lady, to prove, at least, that he was not single in his sorrows, begins the narration of her own adventures.
She informs him, that she was daughter and heir of the king of the Distant Isles, where all the treasure of the earth is accumulated. Gifted with beauty and destined to inherit such riches, two lovers came to demand her in marriage on the same day, Ordauro and Folderico; the one handsome and the other more than seventy years old. The first distinguished by his prowess, the second by his wisdom and riches. The damsel’s father inclined hi favour of Folderico; but the damsel hoped by a sleight to transfer herself to Ordauro.
She had accordingly obtained a boon from the monarch; and this was, that no one should have her to wife, who had not previously vanquished her in the foot-race. By this, she considered herself as secure of success; but Folderico countermined her stratagem. Being paired with her in the course, he had recourse to the expedient of dropping three golden apples, and the damsel was distanced by the same means as Atalanta. Thus the old man won his wife; who, however, determined on taking such vengeance as was in her power.
Here the lady, who was her own historian, observed Brandimart’s distraction; who being charged with it, confessed that he had neither eyes nor ears but for Flordelis, and that he should never regain possession of himself, till she was found. On this the damsel and Orlando, who was mounted on Bayardo, and had resigned his Brigliadoro to Brandimart, as before related, offer to accompany him in an attempt to recover her, and they immediately proceed upon their search.
Flordelis, in the interval, had been carried off by the hermit to a cave; where she woke at the moment that a lion, who harboured there, sprang forth to punish the intrusion of the ravisher: who instantly dropt his plunder and fled. The beast, however, passing-by the proffered prey, follows and tears in pieces the hermit who had cast it down. Flordelis, while he is thus employed, escapes.
She, however, only gains a present respite from misfortune; for, flying at random, she falls into the hands of a hairy savage in the forest, who binds her to a tree with twigs; and then, gazing stupidly upon her, casts himself down at a little distance.
Brandimart was this while in pursuit of her, in the same wood, accompanied by Orlando and the damsel of the golden apples, who was seated upon his courser’s croup. Orlando now entreats that she will finish her story, which she continues.
Folderico who had won the damsel, carried her to a tower, which he possessed upon the sea-shore, called Altamura, where he kept her, together with his treasure, under lock and key, and utterly secluded from the sight of man.21
21 As the author is indebted to Greek fable for the beginning, so he is to Norman story for this subsequent adventure, which is taken, with some variation, from an old fabliau. See Barbasan’s or Le Grand’s fabliaux. The story would seem to be of Eastern origin.
But what will not love? Ordauro who was also rich, though not so wealthy as Folderico, purchased a sumptuous palace in the immediate neighbourhood of Altamura, and at an immense cost made a subterraneous passage from his palace to the damsel’s prison; by which he visited and enjoyed her without danger. At last, however, the lovers, tired of the restraint under which they carried on their intercourse, and emboldened by success, determined to make a desperate effort to escape.
With this view Ordauro communicates to Folderico news of his approaching nuptials with another daughter of Monodontes; for so was called the king of the Distant Isles; and invites him, as his brother-in-law, to the marriage feast. Folderico having carefully secured the gates of his tower, goes thither, and finding his wife installed as bride, becomes ferocious at the sight. Ordauro, however, with great difficulty, succeeds in appeasing him, by the assurance that she was a twin-sister of his own wife, to whom she bore a perfect resemblance; and, by bidding him return to his tower and satisfy himself of the fact. The means of proof appeared decisive, and accordingly Folderico accepts them. He finds his locks as they were left, and his wife, (who had returned by the subterraneous passage and changed her dress,) alone and overcome with melancholy. He again takes the way, which was somewhat circuitous, to the palace of Ordauro, and again finds her there, shining in all the festivity of a bride. He can no longer resist the conviction that the two persons, whom he had seen, were different women; lays aside his distrust, and even offers to convoy the bridegroom and his bride on a part of their journey towards Ordauro’s natural home, to which he was returning.
A certain advantage was thus gained; since Folderico never left his tower, though locked, for above an hour, and consequently would have soon discovered his loss, if the lovers had eloped in secret.
The party set out together; and at the end of the first day’s journey, Folderico turns back and gallops to his tower. He is now first assured of his disgrace. Full of rage, he pursues his rival; but does not dare make any attempt to recover his wife, till he has separated Ordauro from his adherents. Having effected this by a stratagem, he attacks his retainers, and repossesses himself of the lady. He is destined to a short possession of the prize; for he is, on his retui-n, beset by giants, who seize her, and all his treasure; which the wife was carrying off as a dowry to her new lord. He himself escapes.
Orlando listened with curiosity to this relation: but Brandimart, who only thought upon Flordelis, separated from his companions in order to pursue a separate search. Whilst he is engaged in this, he hears her cries, and, directed by them, finds her bound to the tree. He dismounts from his horse to assist her, and is about to loosen her bonds, when he is attacked by the savage, armed with a rustic club and shield. This strange woodman is described as gifted with extraordinary strength of body, and distinguished by some strange propensities:
He dwelt in woods, and on their produce fed,
And drank the limpid brook which bubbled by:
And (such his nature) ever, it is said,
Wept, when he saw a clear and cloudless sky:
Since, fearful of the sign, he lived in dread,
That tempest, clouds, and cold, and rain were nigh,
But joy’d in thunder and in hail; since he
Hoped warmer suns and happier days to see.
This savage, but for the exclamation of Flordelis, would have surprised Brandimart in the act of untying her. Being warned by her of his danger, he guarded himself against his attacks, which required all his skill and courage to repel. He indeed hewed in pieces the rustic weapon with which he was armed; but the monster, closing with him, grasped him in his arms, and attempted to cast him down a precipice, when he fortunately escaped from his embrace. The savage finding himself foiled in this hope, and weaponless, now flew to a sapling, which he was trying to pluck up by its roots, when the knight killed him while engaged in the attempt. Brandimart now releases Flordelis, seats her on his horse’s croup, and goes in pursuit of Orlando, from whom he had separated.
Whilst he is thus engaged, the author resumes the story of Albracca. Rinaldo was left in close combat with Gryphon, whom he at last stunned with a desperate blow. When Aquilant, believing his brother killed, took up the conqueror. Gryphon, however, reviving from the effects of the stroke, returned to the charge.
Marphisa seeing Rinaldo thus oppressed with odds, came to his assistance; and others again of those sworn to defend Truffaldino, who was an unwilling spectator of the fray, took part against her and Rinaldo. Orlando was, this while, pursuing his way in search of Brandimart, while Brandimart as vainly sought him through the forest.
Whilst Orlando is thus engaged, he sees a damsel issue from a wood upon a palfrey, who bears a book and horn. Addressing herself to the count, she tells him, that, if he is what his countenance bespeaks him, the fairest adventure awaits him, which ever was achieved by knight; and which, indeed, had hitherto foiled the prowess of all who had attempted it, who remained prisoners in the enchanted garden, which she invites him (if he has the courage sufficient for such an adventure) to attack. Orlando accepts the proposal with rapture; the damsel presents him with the book and horn; both necessary for the achievement of the enterprize; and, having instructed him in the use of them, retires to a distance.
Orlando accordingly, having first disposed of the other damsel whom he carried behind him, sounds the bugle, and a rock opens, from which issue two ferocious bulls, with horns of iron, and strangely coloured hair turned contrary to the natural grain:
And sometimes green; now black, now white it seemed,
Now yellow, and now red; and ever gleamed.
Orlando learned from the book, by whose rules he was to proceed, that he was to bind these beasts; and this done, was to enter the opening, from which they sallied, and plow with them the space within. Such was to be his first labour.
The bulls long maintained a severe fight with the champion, and often tossed, though they could not gore him: at length he so fatigued them by repeated blows from Durindana, (for their skin was as impenetrable as his own,) that he was enabled to master them, seized them by their horns, and bound them separately, with Bayardo’s bridle, to an adjoining column, which was the monument of the king Bavardo. He then made a plow of Durindana, the point of which served as a share and the hilt as a handle, yoked the bulls to the instrument, and having torn off the limb of a tree for a whip, ploughed the field, as he was directed. The work accomplished, he loosed his beasts, who ran roaring through the wood, and disappeared behind a mountain.
Orlando now devoutly thanks God for his first success, and the damsel of the book and horn, having dismounted from the palfrey in the meadow, wreaths her brows with the flowers which it produced. Orlando, however, does not allow himself a longer truce, but sounds a second challenge on his enchanted bugle.
Upon the second sound, the earth trembles, and a neighbouring hill vomits forth flame; which is followed by the appearance of a fiery dragon. The damsel of the golden apples is now about to fly; but she of the book and horn bids her
“in faith and hope, stand near,
For only he who proves the quest need fear.”
The damsel of the golden apples, who resented Orlando’s coldness during their journey through the forest, observes she is glad that he only is in danger, and that she cannot regret what may happen to him;
“In that there lives not a more worthless wight.” This reproach reaches Orlando’s ears, as he consults his book. This guide taught him that his only means of safety consisted in cutting off the dragon’s head, before he was consumed by the flame and venom, which issued from her mouth. The head cut off, he was to perform the labour of Jason, and sow the field in which he had laboured with the serpent’s teeth. From these was to spring a crop of armed men; and, if he saved himself from their swords, he might esteem himself the flower of chivalry.
He has scarce learned his lesson, when the serpent is upon him. Orlando protected himself from her assault with his shield; but this and all his armour was consumed by the flame which she vomited forth. He contends long with the monster, enveloped in fire and smoke, but at last separates her head at a blow. He immediately draws the teeth, puts them into his helmet, and sows them as the book had enjoined. The effect followed which had been foretold.
First, feathers sprouting from the ground appear,
By little and by little; then a crest;
And next is seen the bust of cavalier,
Furnish’dwith manly limbs, and spreading chest.
Foot in the front, and horsemen in the rear;
They rise and shout, and lay the lance in rest;
And, drums and trumpets sounding to the charge,
Level the spear, and lift the covering targe.
Orlando, however, though he had neither lance nor shield left him, soon reaps this harvest with Durindana; and the seed of the serpent thus springs and perishes in a day.
The victory achieved, he blows the third and last blast upon his horn, which the author thus prefaces:
These dragons and these gardens, made by spell,
And dog, and book by witch or wizard writ,
And savage hairy man, and giant fell,
And human face, to monstrous form ill fit,
Are food for ignorance, which you may well
Decypher, that are blest with shrewder wit:
Then muse upon the doctrine sage and sound,
Which lies conceal’d beneath this rugged ground.22
Such matter as is excellent and rare,
And things of scent or savour, rich or fine,
In open hand we do not loosely bear;
Nor cast such pearls to be defiled of swine.
Nature, great mistress, teaches better care,
Who loves the flower with fencing thorns to twine;
And covers well her fruits, and things of mark;
The kernel with its stone, the tree with bark;
22 The Italian reader will here again trace some lines of Dante.
A safe defence from bird, and beast, and storm;
And has conceal’d the yellow gold i’ the ground,
Jewels, and what is rare for tint or form;
That these may be with cost and labour found.
And vain and witless is th’ unwary swarm
Who show their wealth, if they with wealth abound,
The mark, at which knave, thief, and cheater level;
And so by matchless folly tempt the devil.
As duly would it seem to square with reason,
That good should be with toil and trouble bought.
And to obtain it otherwise were treason,
Than by activity of deed and thought.
’Tis thus we see, that art and labour season
The victual, which without their aid is nought;
And simple viands, in their nature good,
Convert to sweeter, and more savoury food.
If Homer’s Odyssey appear compounded
Of lying legends, deem not these unfit;
Nor, reading of some god or goddess wounded,
Let this aught scandalize your weaker wit:
For who the secrets of the sage has sounded,
Well knows, that for the sage, the poet writ;
And veils a different thing, from that which lies
Open to them, who see but with their eyes.
But stop not ye, content, at the outer rind;
Be not as these, but seek what is within;
For if no better nourishment you find,
You will have made small progress for your sin,
And see in these strange emblems ill-divined,
But sick men’s dreams, and fables. Then begin
A better task, their secret meaning measure,
And turn the stubborn soil for hidden treasure.
Returning to the story, Orlando sounded his horn a third time; and, on the echo dying away, was disappointed by the appearance of a little white bitch-hound.
This, the damsel of the book, in hopes to stay the count, who was now disposed to depart, assured him was that which was to crown his toils.
She explains herself, by informing him, that in a neighbouring lake is an island, the residence of the Fata, Morgana, whom God has set over riches; which she
“Distributes in the bowels of the mount,
Whence they are dug with long fatigue and pain;
And hides them in the river and the fount,
In India; where ants work the golden vein.
Nor let the tale seem strange, which I recount,
Since two fair fishes feed upon the grain.
Now good Morgana the bitch-hound has sent
To guerdon thee with treasure and content:
“The wondrous Fay, for various riches vaunted,
Mistress of all that seas or earth enfold,
Is owner of a hind, in this enchanted;
That she is white, and armed with horns of gold;
And that by her no forest long is haunted,
Still restless and impatient of a hold.
Her many hunters vainly seek to catch;
But you may take her with this little brach.
“Who soon shall rouse her from her secret lair,
Yelping upon the trail with questing cry:
Thou shalt pursue, thro’ holt or desert bare,
Though hound and hart more swift than arrow fly:
Six days shalt thou pursue the flying pair;
But on the seventh cease the chase to ply.
Since in a fount the milk-white hind shall soil,23
And thou be guerdon’d for thy tedious toil.
“Six times a-day (such riches shalt thou measure)
She sheds her horns; which yield an hundred weight.
And thus shalt thou collect such mighty treasure
As may defy the wit of man to rate;
Thrice blest, if countless wealth can purchase pleasure;
To this perchance deserve a happier fate;
And with the hind obtain what is above
That precious prize, the beauteous fairy’s love.”
23 The technical phrase for a stag taking the water: as he usually does when distressed. Hence our view-hollo of “Tayo!” for the stag, is taken from the old French cry of “Taihors,” or “out of the swamp!” as our “Tally ho!” for the fox, is derived from “Taillis hors!” or “out of cover!” which last etymology we learn from Lady Juliana Berners. All our hunting phraseology indeed is Norman; even where we should be least inclined to trace it to such a source. Thus the cry of “Hiloicks! Hiloicks!” used by us in trying a cover, we find in her precepts to be “Illocques, Illocques!” or “There! There!” The Normans indeed formed both our hunting code and hunting vocabulary. See many well founded allusions to this in Ivanhoe.
Orlando however treats the temptation with contempt, and unwillingly seating the damsel of the golden apples behind him, casts down the book and horn, and departs.
Proceeding with her, he arrives at a bridge, where he meets with an armed cavalier, who claims the damsel as his own. This turns out to be Ordauro, to whom Orlando resigns her with great satisfaction, and pursues his journey to Albracca.
Here the strife was still continued between Rinaldo and Marphisa, united on the one part; and Gryphon and Aquilant, and all those confederated to defend Truffaldino, on the other. Rinaldo having in this gained some advantage over his immediate opponents, Truffaldino, who was present, fled into the citadel. This put a short stop to hostilities, and the combat was suspended till the ensuing day; when Truffaldino was to be again produced, and to abide its issue.
In this interval two important circumstances occur. Astolpho (who was Agrican’s prisoner, when those, who entered Albracca with Angelica, took the engagement to defend Truffaldino) learning from Gryphon, that Rinaldo had been his antagonist, changes sides, and goes over to his cousin.
To counterbalance this loss to the besieged, Orlando arrives in Albracca, and is received with open arms by Angelica.
On the ensuing day the combat is renewed between the former parties with the addition of Astolpho on one side, and of Orlando on the other. In this Orlando and Rinaldo single each other out, and after bitter reproaches, Rinaldo reproving Orlando for his defence of a traitour, and Orlando twitting Rinaldo for his robberies and evil life, engage in a furious combat; but here Orlando is ill seconded by Bayardo, who will not advance against his own master.
At this moment Rinaldo sees Truffaldino treacherously unhorse Astolpho, and pursuing him, (for the traitour flies upon his approach,) comes up with him before he is overtaken by his defenders, makes him prisoner, and ties him by the feet to Rabican’s tail. With the wretch thus suspended, he gallops off at full speed; the superior swiftness of Rabican rendering all interference on the behalf of Truffaldino impossible; and drags him at his horse’s heels till he is dashed in pieces.
Whilst he is running this cruel course, Rinaldo thunders out reproaches and threats against the abettors of the tyrant; and Orlando, who had now obtained his own horse, Brigliadoro, through the arrival of Brandimart, who joins him, renews his battle with Rinaldo on personal grounds, the others considering themselves released from the necessity of fighting him by the death of Truffaldino.
Night however separates the two combatants, Rinaldo returning to Marphisa’s camp, and Orlando to the citadel of Albracca.
Here Orlando is received with all love and honour by Angelica; who is, however, sighing in her heart for Rinaldo, and, with this view, declares she will attend the duel which was to be renewed on the morrow, and sends Sacripant, delighted with the task, to demand a safeconduct for her from Marphisa. Previously however to Orlando’s taking the field, she demands of him a boon; swearing she will make him lord of her person, if he will promise to undertake an adventure upon her bidding; and avails herself of this promise, the next day, when the strife is at its hottest; telling Orlando that enough has been done for honour, and entreating him now to depart upon the promised quest; which was no other than the destruction of Falerina’s garden hi the kingdom of Orgagna.
The combatants being separated, and Orlando departed, Angelica seeks to communicate with Rinaldo, but in vain; and returns disconsolate to Albracca, from whence she sends a damsel to Rinaldo with Bayardo, whom Orlando had dispatched to that fortress on receiving Brigliadoro from Brand imart; but Rinaldo remains unmoved by these various acts of kindness.
The scene is now again changed, and Orlando, whom Angelica had dispatched upon what she conceived a fatal enterprise, pursues his way towards Orgagna.
He arrives at a bridge, on which is seen a cavalier, armed at all points, and mounted, as if for its defence. Near this was seen a beautiful damsel, suspended by her hair to a pine, and weeping bitterly. Orlando immediately moves to her relief; but is exhorted by the armed cavalier to leave her to a fate, which she had well deserved by her wickedness. In proof of which he proceeds to relate her adventures.
“My name,” pursued the knight, “ is Uldano, and hers Origilla. We were both born in the city of Bactria, and I, from earliest infancy, conceived a passion for her, which grew with my growth, and derived strength even from her fickleness. Another youth, of the name of Lucrino, loved her equally with myself; and both were so well kept hi play by her artifices, that each believed himself to be favoured.
“Being at length impatient of longer delay, I threw myself at her feet, and entreated her to take compassion on my torments. She appeared to meet my passion half-way; but told me, there was but one mode in which I could gratify my desires without the sacrifice of her honour, and suggested the following stratagem as the means.
“‘You know,’ said the damsel, ‘that my brother, Corbirio, though scarcely arrived at manhood, was slain by Oringo in combat, a man grown, and trained to arms. To avenge this treason, my father has offered a large reward to him who shall take the murderer, and would soon find one who would undertake to execute his revenge. You shall bear the cognizance of Oringo, shall suffer yourself to be taken, and thus procure admission into my father’s house. Here you shall receive the reward of your constancy, and I will afterwards effect your deliverance.’
“I, senseless as I was, gave into the snare, and had scarce departed, in order to assume the device and arms she suggested, when the traitress called to her my rival, Lucrino, and told him, that now was the time to win her by the death or capture of the murderer of her brother; for she knew his motions, and where he was to be found, indicating to him the place whither she had sent me with his borrowed ensigns.
“To complete her purpose more effectually, she furnished him also with the ensigns of a third lover, named Ariantes, to whom her father had promised her in marriage, on condition of his avenging him on Oringo.
“In the mean time, this Ariantes met and attacked me, taking me by my cognizance for Oringo, and I’ yielded myself a prisoner, after little resistance, in the hope of the reward promised by Origilla.
“Lucrino, who was, this while, dispatched by her in pursuit of me, fell in with the real Oringo, and both were desperately wounded in the combat which ensued. Lucrino had, however, strength enough left to master his opposite, and was bringing him away prisoner, when he was met by the father of Origilla, who at first judged him to be Ariantes; but when undeceived on a nearer approach, offered him his daughter in marriage, whom he had pres viously promised to Ariantes on the same conditions, provided he would deliver up his prisoner.
“The offer was scarcely accepted, when Ariantes arrived, bringing in me, disguised in the arms of Oringo; and the whole stratagem was now apparent.
“The clearing up this led to new contests: for Ariantes complained of Lucrino’s having taken his bearings; and Oringo thought himself wronged in that his had been usurped by me.
“Now, to wear the ensigns of another is death by our law, unless the penalty be remitted by him who has been offended; and the cause being brought before the king, we were all condemned; Oringo, for having slain (as before told) Corbino, who was a youth scarcely capable of defending himself; Ariantes, for having bargained away the life of another; and Lucrino and myself, for having usurped arms and ensigns, which we were not entitled to wear.
“Origilla was condemned to a yet heavier punishment; to wit, to be hanged up by the hair till she was dead; while we, in the expectation of our sentence, were to assist in the execution of hers; and to keep watch and ward over her, as she wavered in the wind. My lot (for we drew lots to determine the order of our guard) happened to be the first, and I have already slain seven knights, that would have relieved her; whose arms and bearings may be seen fastened to the tree.”
The knight had scarcely ended, when the wretched woman gave the lie to his assertions, and denounced him as having slain those he mentioned by treachery, hoping by the show of these trophies to terrify others from attempting to defend her.
Orlando believes the lady, and defies and unhorses Uldano. He is no sooner conquered, than a horn sounds, which a dwarf winds from a tower’s top; when another knight takes up the conqueror; and the four concerned are all successively encountered, and dismounted, by Orlando, who now cuts down the damsel, and departs with her seated on his horse’s croup.
Thus riding together, and beguiling the way with talk, they descried, in the middle of a meadow, a huge rock of marble cut into steps, and bearing an inscription in letters of gold; when the damsel informs him they are near a notable wonder, which well deserves his examination; since, if he will take the pains of climbing this pile, which is hollow within, he may from the top descry Hell and Paradise, opened to the sight below. Orlando believes the tale, and ascends the steps, when Origilla having possessed herself of Brigliadoro, laughs at him for his folly and departs.
Orlando, now examining the inscription, finds it imports nothing more than that this was the tomb of Ninus, the founder of Nineveh.
Little satisfied with the discovery, and cursing the damsel from the bottom of his soul, he departs on foot, in order to prosecute his adventure.
But here the author closes his first book, with the promise of treating of higher and worthier matters in his second.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48