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In this regular return of the hémistiche, the French verse of ten-syllables differs from the Italian and English heroic. In these languages we observe a marked but irregular cæsura. For instance, in the first stanza of the Jerusalem, so remarkable for its discordant o's, which Voltaire first rang in our ears, to prove that the Italian was not perfect
“ Canto l'arme pietose, e'l capitano
Che 'l gran Sepolcro liberò di Cristo.
Molto soffrì nel glorioso acquisto."
Again, in those four lines which the same illustrious critic has scanned with that perfect accuracy, than which no better evidence of his intimate acquaintance with our language and versification can be wanted, we meet with the same cæsura.
“ At Trumpington-not far from Cambridge, stood
In verses of eight and fewer syllables, as in some of our own, there is no cæsura; and their time is measured simply by the number of feet and the rhyme. As thus :
“ L'amant frivole et volage
But it is time to abandon this discussion, and return to the subject of our critique.
Of the poems of Bernard, the most prominent are his Art d'aimer, and the tale of Phrosine et Mélidore. With us the latter is so much the greater favorite, that we shall scarcely find it necessary, in the course of the present article, to borrow from the former, either for the purpose of extract or illustration. But first we must tell the story...
This we remember in Bandello. The tales of that jovial priest are not before us; but the reader will recognise the story in turning over the first edition of that amusing Italian novelist, which he happens to meet with. Whence it was stolen by
Bandello, we cannot say. That he invented it himself is scarcely probable—he would never have put himself to the pains. It was, doubtless, originally adapted from the old and beautiful tale of Hero and Leander; a subject so exquisitely fitted for poetry, that it has been sung in every language, and will be read by every generation with unexhausted pleasure, while the deeply-rooted feelings shall remain on which its interest is founded. Whether it has been improved by the alterations in the present story, the reader will best decide.
In the opulent city of Messina, the illustrious family of the Faventini were distinguished by their wealth and dignity. Aymar, the representative of his race, and the haughtiest of the Sicilian nobles, was guardian of an only sister, whose beauty and accomplishments were not inferior to her birth. With these pretensions Phrosine might look forward to the most splendid connexions in her country, and Aymar was determined to match her into none but the noblest families. He was constantly urging her marriage, and it was only retarded by the intrigues of a second brother-for a purpose almost too revolting for the deepest strain of poetry. "Julius had no design upon her portion, nor did he obstruct his sister's nuptials for the purpose of delivering her from a marriage which he knew she hated. The motive of the licentious noble was love-if so execrable a passion may be called by a name so gentle. With an avowal of his guilty flame, great part of the first canto is occupied. The knowledge of this desperate passion détermined Phrosine to accede to the proposition of Melidore—a lover whose pretensions, though favoured by herself, were contemptuously rejected by her guardian. After repeated refusals, grounded on his ignoble origin, Melidore appealed from Aymar to his mistress; and purposed, as the reader will have anticipated, to dispense with the permission of the former. Their escape, however, is thwarted by meeting this froward guardian, who returns unexpectedly with Julius, and having measured his sword with that of the plebeian suitor, locks up his sister and concludes the canto.
Not far from Messina, and opposite the Faventine palace, was a small, desolate island, in which an ancient hermit, disgusted with life and mankind, had erected his solitary hut. Here, too, the disconsolate Melidore sought a refuge for his grief and disappointment. Shortly after the arrival of the martyr of love, the martyr of religion expired, and left the undisturbed possession of his cell, and its spare accommodations, to its new proprietor. Here Melidore hoped to avoid the persecution of mankind; for in his flight from Messina he had escaped in a single boat, and all the world concluded him dead all but a solitary fisherman, through whom Phrosine became acquainted with his destiny.
The knowledge of her lover's existence was a sufficient stimulus to prevent her dying of sorrow. One night, having wept herself to sleep, she dreamed. She thought the god of love invited her to cross the strait between Messina and the hermit's island, as Leander had crossed the Hellespont. Phrosine had too much confidence in dreams to forget or neglect the intimation. It haunted her imagination the next day, and recurred with peculiar force when she bathed in the cool evening. Her bath was a natural excavation in the rock, on whose summit the Faventine palace was erected. Here she could enjoy, with safety, and unnoticed, the sea-breezes and the sea-waters. On the evening which succeeded her dream, she looked over the “dark-blue' strait with uncontrolable longing, and determined to venture on the deeper water in the precincts of her bath. Her first advances in the act of swimming are beautifully told in the following elegant verses.
« C'est toi, dit-elle, ô fatal élément,
The third canto opens with some general reflexions upon the condition of women in society, which are no less striking for their truth, than for the elegant and polished verse in which they are delivered. We cannot interrupt the story for the pur
pose of dilating on the subject so completely sketched in the following lines.
“ Reines des cours, mais esclaves des lois,
An occasion soon occurred, on which Phrosine was compelled to exercise her newly-developed faculty. The passion of her unnatural brother, while it protected her from the importunities of Aymar, and allowed her to repine in quiet over her early widowhood, had ceased to show itself of late in a more open form. But this interval of peace was of short duration. She was sailing on the strait one evening with Julius, who had apparently resumed the manners of an affectionate brother, but only for the purpose of more securely accomplishing his aim. While they were at a great distance from land, she was compelled to trust her person to the waves, to avoid his odious solicitations. The sea was a less implacable enemy, and bore her safely to the beach. This accident gave her an opportunity of visiting the hermit’s island. The pretence was gratitude to its patron saint for her escape from the ocean; the motive, to examine the cliffs and discover a secure landing-place. On her visit to the cell of her hermit-lover, she left a letter on the altar to apprize him of her purpose. He prepared the beacon which was to guide her to the haven, and awaited with impatience and dread the approaching hour of evening.
“ Déjà dans l'onde, achevant sa carrière,
Partez, Phrosine; on peut tout en aimant:
With this description the third canto is concluded.
In the mean time, the impatient lover keeps watch upon the beach, in a fever of anxious expectation.
“ De son rocher l'amoureux Mélidore
The lady, however, returns to life and love; and hereupon ensues a scene, which reminds us of Haidee's marriage in Don Juan. Phrosine addresses her lover thus :
" "Je t'ai gardé cet amour immortel
Such is the substance of the story. The catastrophe is wrought up with considerable skill, and far exceeds the original, both in spirit and pathos. The intrigue is unfortunately discovered through the intermediation of an ancient Sybil.