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At this period, Orlando, Oliver, and Turpin, are the only Paladins left alive, "the rest being overwhelmed by a torrent of enemies, yet dying upon heaps of Pagans that had fallen by their hands. We know nothing finer or more impressive of its kind than the death of the hardy generous Oliver, whom the reader follows over the bloody field with most earnest anxiety. In almost his last moments it will be seen that he affords another instance of the prevalence of those affections that distinguish him so importantly from Orlando. We should mention that, independently of many mortal hurts before inflicted, he has just received a fatal wound from the gigantic Caliph of Baldracha. Nevertheless,
"He scour'd that memorable field amain
And in the madness of his rage and pain
Bowing 'ev'n him upon the splashy plain
Orlando, at the stroke, in daz'd surprise
To Oliver uprais'd his doubting eyes.
'My dear and noble cousin (then he said)
Art thou on sudden turn'd a renegade,
Hast thou our faith, our God, and Christ, rejected V
'Pardon !' (cry'd Oliver) 'nor me upbraid;
Wounded to death, I cannot see the day:
But, brother,* if thou haply 'scape, I pray,
'That to my sister, whom so dear you prize,
You will commend me ever lovingly;
Amidst the hottest battle let me die!'
He scarce had strength remaining to comply,
'Now strongly strike, my valiant coz! (he cried)
Oliver spurr'd his starting charger's side,
* They were brothers, by marriage, as well as cousins.
Full thirty Pagans by his weapon died
Weak as he was, with ev'ry sense forlore:
His horse carries him to his tent, and, alighting, Oliver dies upon his knees in the act of prayer. This is a noble incident, and worthily related by the author. The death of Turpin is not so striking: he and Orlando retire from the field for a few moments, when the bold archbishop dies of fatigue and loss of blood; and the angels,
"Amid sweet songs and hymns of joy and grace,
Orlando is then only left by all his great companions, and he fervently prays to be allowed to die upon the spot. A voice from Heaven promises that he shall soon rejoin the Paladins, and just afterwards his young squire, Terigi, arrives.
"The count receiv'd him with a kindly gladness,
Orlando and his squire both mov'd in sadness,
Then on a rock Orlando, as in madness,
Thinking to shatter thus his well-prov'd brand,
But the hard rock could not its edge withstand.
Full oftentimes again he struck his sword
Upon the jagged rock its blade to break,
But vainly struck, the rock was all too weak. ,
Th' unequall'd God, and of his sword 'gan speak:
'Had I but known thy virtue from the first
Prov'd in this latest trial, hardest, worst.'
Then putting horn to mouth, his mighty heart,
Ev'n with the force of his own blowing, burst,
The Sarasens, who on the field hadstay'd,
Fled in confusion by the blast dismay'd."
Charlemaine, at St. Jean pit de Port, heard it, and said to his barons,—
"'What means that sound of my bold nephew's horn?
Marsilio has deceiv'd me much, I dread,
Smiling, 'Oh sacred Emperor Charles, (he said)
Thy thoughts I ween befit a younker's head.'
The traitor next tells Charles that Orlando is only hunting on the plain; and, in the mean time, Orlando orders Terigi to speed to Charlemaine with the news of the disastrous fight of Roncesvalles. It does not seem that the bursting of his heart occasioned instant death, since he blows a third time with all his remaining strength ;—
"then beside his page
He fell upon his knees, spent, broken-hearted,
At the third blast, all is confusion at St. Jean. Gan is accused of treachery, is struck by Ogier, Gerard, Namus, and others, and cast into a dungeon; while the emperor makes instant preparations to cross the Pyrennees, and, by a miracle, the mountains are removed and the . rough places made plain that he may arrive with greater speed. On the road, Charles meets Terigi; and, to shew how well little circumstances are introduced to add to the general effect, we may mention that the squire, in the stupefaction of his suffering, and in the anxiety to make its cause known, forgot to kneel to the emperor. We can only give one stanza of his affecting relation of the disaster.
"Dead is Orlando, flower of chivalry;
Dead is Astolfo, his brave cousin dear;
Turpin is dead, who never yet knew fear;
And Angiolino, strong of arm whilere:
Charlemaine thus imprecates the most dreadful curses upon Ganelon.
"Curst be the father in his lonely tomb
That thee begot in matrimonial rite;
That brought thee, worst of devils, forth to light.
Thy league detested with the Pagan might,
Terigi leads him to the body of Orlando, over which the emperor weeps bitterly; and, striking his breast and face, exclaims, addressing the corse;
"Is this the promise that you made to me
When I first gave you knighthood with my blade,
As Durlindana on your thigh I laid,
You promis'd, with a look that spoke your thought,
That when your task was ended with that sword,
Into my hand it should be then restor'd."
Here a new wonder is shewn; for the dead body of Orlando, being filled by the Santo Spirito, rises from the earth.
"To Charles, Orlando with his sword in hand
And murmuring said,' Great Charles, as you command,
Charles took it wond'ring, and upon the land •' The life-deserted body fell once more:
The holy spirit that had fill'd it fled,
And down it dropp'd a shapeless heap, and dead."
This part of the story, we apprehend, differs from most of the other romances, some stating that Orlando failing to break his sword flung it into a river, while others relate that he succeeded in destroying it, not by striking it upon the rock, but by inserting it in a crevice and then dragging it transversely.— We like the invention of Zinabi much better, nor was it inconsistent with the superstition of his time. Charles takes ample vengeance on the Moors, compelling Marsilio to throw himself from a lofty tower, and returns to Paris with the dead bodies of the Paladins, which are laid in the church of Nostra Donna di Parigi. We need not dwell upon the exemplary punishment of Ganelon, who is torn to pieces by four wild horses, after his wife has in vain interceded, and his nephew fought for him. Alda not being in Paris the emperor sends for her, and, when informed of the fate of her husband and her brother, she hastens in an agony of grief to Notre Dame, where, as we have said, their corses are deposited.
"She groan'd, and tears ran down her pallid cheek
While she besought th' eternal Majesty,
Her lord without a peer in chivalry:
This miracle God wrought most wond'rously,
'Sweet sister! (said he) we are now at rest
Amid the glory of pur Saviour dear.'
He sank again upon his mournful bier.
She felt her own glad end approaching near,
After thanks to his auditors, the poem concludes with the following stanza:—
"Lordings, for you this rhiming tale is told:
Sostegno di Zinabi, Florentine,
And aye preserve him from his wrath divine;
Whatever may from virtue's path incline,
If we had space, we should, probably, think it needless to add any thing to the running criticism with which we have accompanied our quotations.
Art. VII.—Hudibras. The Second Part. London, Printed in the year 1663.
Butler's Ghost; or Hudibras, the Fourth Part, with Reflections upon these Times. London, 1682.