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E no mi partiraggio
Da voi, donna valente;
Ch' eo v' amo dolcemente:
E piace a voi ch' eo haggia intendimento;
Che lo meo core adesso a voi s' inchina.
We should be more abundantly qualified to enter into an examination more accurate and successful, than has hitherto been made, of the origin and early progress of the literary language of Italy, if we possessed all the poetry of Pietro delle Vigne. It was not until three hundred years after his death, that any attempt was made to dig them out from their obscurity. It was already too late: three short pieces make up the whole of the discovery; and these were published for the first time towards the middle of the sixteenth century. The enterprise, almost superhuman, of creating a new literary language, which Dante achieved, will be less astonishing, when we consider that it was encouraged and facilitated by such predecessors as Pietro delle Vigne. One hundred years before Dante, and in an epoch of which there remains no trace of correct Italian writing, not even among the Florentines, (and it is believed that throughout Italy the language spoken was a sort of Latin mutilated in its terminations, and barbarized by importations from the languages of the North.) Nature had endowed Pietro delle Vigne with so fine a tact and such a correctness of taste, as to select his words and frequently to turn his phrases in such a way as to ensure them a permanent and distinguished place in the language of Italy. In the following lines there is no part of the syntax which is not perfectly grammatical, nor a word which has become antiquated, nor one inelegant expression.
Or potess' io venire a voi, amorosa,
Si bel parlare, donna, con voi fora;
Among the three pieces which remain of Pietro, there is one sonnet; and being the most ancient specimen known of this form of composition, the invention has been attributed to him. What is certain, however, is, that the Provençal poets and the Troubadours, even in the opinion of M. Ginguené, were unacquainted with it, and that they received the earliest models of it from the Italians. We republish this rarity the more willingly, as it contains a distinct profession of that platonic love, which almost all the Italian poets, with Petrarch at their head, have never ceased to celebrate.
Peroch' amore no si po vedere
Ma poch' amore si faze sentere,
Per la vertute de la calamita
E questa cosa a credere me 'nvita
Love is so subtle, mortals cannot see
His outward form or grasp him with the hand;
Though blind and but a shadow, still doth he
Like to the virtue of the mystic stone
Than man hath e'er believed unto this hour.
A beautiful passage of Dante, admirably translated by Mr. Cary, will, in some measure, compensate for the scanty relics of Pietro delle Vigne's poetry; and will, at the same time, instruct our readers in all which is certainly known as to the tragic death of this uncommon man. The causes which contemporary writers, both Italians and foreigners, and amongst others Matthew Paris, assign for his death, are apparently so romantic, and in reality so contradictory, that it is impossible to ascertain any thing else, than that Pietro, having lost the favour of Frederick, was condemned to lose his eyes, and to pass the rest of his life in a prison, where he destroyed himself. Dante, in his circuit of Hell, enters upon a forest
"Where no track
Of steps had worn a way. Not verdant there
The boughs and tapering, but with knares deform'd
And matted thick: fruits there were none, but thorns
Instead, with venom fill'd."
HELL, Canto xiii. v. 3.
From the trees of this forest wailings and deep groans issue forth; and Dante, stretching out his hand, gathers a branch from a great wilding-when a voice from the trunk exclaims
Why pluck'st thou me?'
These words it added: Wherefore tear'st me thus ?
Is there no touch of mercy in thy breast?
Men once were we, that now are rooted here.
Thy hand might well have spared us, had we been
HELL, Canto xiii. v. 33.
M. Ginguené infers (and we think rightly) from the spelling of these lines, that they were transcribed from some old manuscript by a Venetian copyist.
He then renews his dialogue with the trunk, which continues to utter its mournful cries, and to pour forth words and blood: when he is informed that every one of these melancholy plants incloses the soul of a suicide. When departs
The fierce soul from the body, by itself
A savage plant. The Harpies, on its leaves
HELL, Canto xiii. v. 96.
To make the unhappy soul some amends for the wrong he had done it in wrenching off the branch from the tree in which it was confined, Dante demands the name it bore in the world above, in order that he, on his return, may revive its fame :-it answers
"I it was who held
Both keys to Frederick's heart, and turn'd the wards
By the new roots, which fix this stem, I swear,
Clear he from wrong my memory, that lies
HELL, Canto xiii. v. 60.
Frederick himself survived his unfortunate Chancellor not more than two years, leaving, as Voltaire observes, "le monde aussi troublé à sa mort qu'à sa naissance."†
*The harlot.] Envy. Chaucer alludes to this in the Prologue to the Legende of Good women:
"Envie is lavender to the court alway,
For she ne parteth neither night ne day
Out of the house of Cesar; thus saith Dant." Note of Mr. Cary.
+ Essai sur les Maurs, c. 53.
CAMPAIGNS OF A CORNET.
I WAS Congratulating myself, as far as my own personal safety was concerned, on the successful termination of my first essay in arms, and beginning to think there were but few terrors in the frown of War, when I heard a report that the enemy had dispatched a fresh body of troops to supply the place of the regiments which had just been discomfited, and to form a rallying point for the fugitives. The newly-arrived corps took up nearly the same position, from which their comrades had been driven. This da capo sort of proceeding was rather more than I had contracted for; but the advantage which we had so lately obtained, seemed, if possible, to inspire our troops with a double share of ardour. I was absolutely astonished at the physical phenomenon which our men displayed after a most laborious and toilsome march, and after all the exhaustion of the battle, each individual in the regiment seemed as vigorous and alert as if he had just risen from his couch, refreshed with quiet slumber. For my own part, as I saw the enemy advancing, there seemed to be a sort of re-action in my frame; and my strength and vivacity rose in proportion to their former depression. I found each artery in my body as hardy as the Nemaan lion's nerve," and I exulted in the sound of the bugles, which at that moment reiterated the charge. We now had to "fight our battle o'er again;" for we found that the French, like the Dutch in Clarendon's time, "would endure to be beaten longer than we could endure to beat them." I knew still less of the last charge than I had done of the first, for, on closing with the enemy, my head and the butt-end of a French musket came in contact, and my unfortunate sconce being fashioned of the more yielding material, enforced me, like many of the brave fellows about me, to measure my length upon the ground. I must have lain for some time insensible to the trampling of both friends and foes, who must, I am sure, have stepped very inconsiderately over my recumbent frame; for, on recovering my recollection, I found, that in addition to the blow I had received, some very heavy heels had left their vestigia in various parts of my body. I scarcely know the length of time which I lay in this torpid state, but on opening my eyes, I perceived some fellows of a most disgusting appearance busily engaged in turning over the dying and the dead, and apparently taking out administration of all their personal effects. I was now exceedingly puzzled; and in truth I was hung between the horns of a very awkward dilemma-whether on the one hand to sham dead, like the valiant knight at the fray of Shrewsbury, and thus escape captivity, at the expense of all my clothes and a gold repeater, and, moreover, with the chance of being "embowelled" by-and-by; or on the other, by lustily crying quarter, to incur the certain horrors of a long duress. Seeing one of these "pernicious blood-suckers" approaching for the purpose of exercising his calling upon my prostrate carcase, I began to fear, lest if he thought me insensible, he might put a final period to my course of glory, by the application of a singularly large knife, with which he was reaping a golden harvest from the shoulders of the fallen. At this moment I felt great relief at the sight of a French officer riding across the field, upon which I exclaimed, with a very audible voice, "Je vive." The officer, hearing
my cry, rode up to me, and calling to two or three of his men who followed him, bade them convey me to the French quarters. I was stronger than I expected, though my bones ached pretty considerably. Seeing that I was much bruised, the officer commanded one of the dragoons to dismount, and I seating myself on the outside of the longtailed caracoling charger of this chasseur-à-cheval, followed my conductors for about two miles, till we passed the encampment in which the French were stationed, and reached a village which I found was the head-quarters of the French General. My companions informed me that the French, by bringing up several fresh regiments, had regained the position from which we had at first driven them, and our troops had then directed their efforts against another body of the enemy, which occupied a position in another part of the ground; and I concluded, from the reserved and lame account of the transaction which I received, that the English had succeeded in their attempt. On my arrival I was conducted into the presence of the French General St.who interrogated me as to the movements, force, and station of our own army; but of course I resolutely refused to give any answer, which raised me a good deal in the estimation of the General himself, who, though a stern soldier, was a man of honour and high principle, and, from what I saw of him afterwards, seemed to be well acquainted with the world. I received an invitation to dine with him the next day, and was immediately assigned quarters in a neighbouring house, and placed under close arrest at my own request, as I refused for the present to be admitted to my parol of honour. At the appointed hour next day, with a silk handkerchief bound round my head, which still reminded me of the heavy arm of my Gallic adversary, I was ushered into a spacious room in a chateau, where the French General was lodged. Several staff-officers of the French army were standing around him, and, talking with them, I perceived two of our own officers, in one of whom, at the first glance, I recognized my brother Tom. We were very nearly furnishing our hosts with a scena, but at last I contented myself with shaking him heartily by the left hand, his right being hung in a sling, in consequence of a flesh-wound, which he had received just before he was made prisoner. The dinner was got up in very good style, and certainly better than any I ever afterwards saw in the British army. The amusing politeness and vivacity of the French officers were quite new to me; nor could I, from any circumstance which happened during my visit, have conjectured that my companions had, but four-and-twenty hours ago, been opposed to me in mortal hostility. The general tone of feeling which characterized our hosts, displayed itself in their frequent recurrence to the three maxims of Vive l'amour, Vive la guerre, and Vive la bagatelle. When our feast was concluded, General St. commanded a guard to attend my brother, the other officer, and myself, to a small but comfortable house in the neighbourhood, in which there were only a young man and his sister left, the rest of the family having fled to Toulouse for safety from the chances of war. We were
not allowed our parol of honour, but were guarded with a sentinel before our door.
The first sound we heard on entering our new mansion, was one of those sweet and plaintive airs to which the French girls seem attached,