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The legend on made by himearnest expressio the brow
scholarda in Rome.truction at Naplese's son. Her
• lous boy' whom wood-pigeons had covered with leaves, and
the black viper and prowling bear had left unharmed. Ere six ! months had passed over the infant Tasso, he began,' says Manso, 'not merely to move his tongue, but to speak clearly and
fluently' - a prodigy the more memorable, since in after- years he suffered from an impediment in his speech. He would have gratified all the wishes of old Cornelius Scriblerus, if what this biographer further relates be true, that ' in his babyhood he was
never seen to smile, as other children do, and seldom even to cry.' The legend which his friend so unsuspiciously adopts, indicates the impression made by him in his riper years. He was doubtless a grave man. His was the earnest expression which looks out of Titian's portraits, and which is stamped on the brow of so many of our native poets. The scenes of his education were as various as might be expected in an exile's son. He received the first rudiments of instruction at Naples. His boyhood was disciplined in Rome Bologna and Padua accomplished the scholar, and Ferrara the courtier. His progress in learning was extraordinary: bis ardour and diligence almost incredible. He would often rise to study in the depth of night: and he never let the day surprise him in bed. The good Jesuits of Naples marvelled at their apt and towardly pupil: Maurizio Cataneo, *the first master in all Italy,' was equally charmed with his proficiency, and when at the age of seventeen years he was entered at the University of Padua, the eyes of the learned were already turned upon him.
The fathers of poets seem one and all to have resolved that their sons should be lawyers; and Oyid, Boccaccio, Petrarch and Ariosto, had all alike penned stanzas' when as dutiful sons they should have been "engrossing.' The sires of these distinguished writers might have pleaded an excuse for their mistake, which, however, would not avail the poetic Bernardo. They had never lisped in numbers, whereas the elder Tasso had been a rhymer all his life, and might have been supposed capable of entering into his son's prejudices against Trebonian and Cujacius. The legal studies of Torquato were neither more nor less successful than had been those of Ovid or Petrarch. He bewailed in smooth couplets his evil destiny: he groaned, after the approved fashion, over glosses de aquâ arcendâ' and
de stillicidio;' but after all, says his recent biographer, he had ‘no very great reason to complain so piteously, for he had
passed a year at Padua in supposed attendance on the law • lectures of the professors, and at the end of that period had produced -- an epic poem!' Of the student-life of Athens, when Bibulus and Horace
and in all stics. In mand perhapthe time of
pe field by chand Aristorand taveded by encost part polite ler
were learning the properties of curves and angles, we can only form a wide conjecture. Two centuries later, indeed, we know that the Athenian professors and undergraduates banded themselves in class-rooms and nations, and that occasionally the military were called in from Corinth to keep the peace. The lecturers and students of Padua in the sixteenth century presented a very similar spectacle. That city was, at the time of Tasso's matriculation, the most brilliant and perhaps the most turbulent of Italian universities. In medicine it had always been preeminent: and in all studies, except theology, it had outstripped Bologna. Guido Pancirola was lecturing on civil law; Sigonio and Robortello on classical literature and grammar: Danese Cataneo and Cesare Pavese on poetry and polite letters. But these professors were for the most part angry and jealous rivals, and were surrounded by eager and combative disciples. The streets and taverns rang with "barbara' and • baralipton:' and Aristotle and Aquinas were often driven from the field by club and dagger.
Tasso entered the university with a high reputation for chiralrous as well as scholastic accomplishments. Maurizio Cataneo was equally a master of arts and of his rapier : and, together with grammar and philosophy, he had taught his pupil to ride and fence. Tasso was then only seventeen years old : but his lofty stature, his grave demeanour, his early troubles and his unusual learning made him appear considerably older. The publication of his · Rinaldo' greatly extended his renown. It is little read now: and but for the “Gierusalemme' would be forgotten; yet it is a wonderful composition for a youth of eighteen. The earlier, as well as the later epic of Tasso, displays the preponderance of the critical over the imaginative faculties. His judgment and sensibilities transcended his conceptive powers. He has written a better poem than Ariosto, but he was far inferior as a poet. Nothing can well be less epic than the Gierusalemme'- except the Eneid. No narrative poem, on the other hand, if we except the earliest and noblest of the class, the Homeric Epos, is so skilfully connected, or so little tedious, as a whole, as the Jerusalem Delivered. But we are sliding into criticism, instead of tracing the course of Tasso's fortunes.
His name, his accomplishments, and his poem procured for him many friendships at Padua, which served to spread his reputation at the time, and were useful to him in his subsequent calamities. His most distinguished associates were the future cardinals Annibale di Capua and Scipione Gonzaga. Tasso's university career was, however, as unsettled as his school-days had been,
and as his dependence at court was destined to become. At the commencement of his second year's residence at Padua, a professional squabble caused him to migrate to Bologna. The following extract from Mr. R. Milman's pages will illustrate a 'gown-row' of the Italians in 1562.
• Sigonio and Robortello, professors of the Greek and Latin “humanities,” entertained a long-standing jealousy of one another. Mutual recriminations and accusations had long flown to and fro between them. No sooner did either commence lecturing on any subject than the other immediately started a rival course. Sigonio having begun to expound Aristotle's “Poetics,” with great elegance and 'eloquence, Robortello opened his antagonist school, but not with equal success. “Inde Iræ" – for the latter, being a fiery and violent man, took every opportunity of insulting Sigonio, who was of a meeker and more patient disposition. Their respective disciples participated in their masters' jealousies, exasperated their mutual indignation, and joined in the taunts and reproaches which they hurled at one another, even in public. One day, meeting in the street, they came to blows, and in the tumult Sigonio was gashed in the face with a poniard, and otherwise maltreated. Fearful of worse injury and desirous of peace, he migrated to Bologna, and Pendasio, another famous lecturer, and other parties with him.'
Piso Donato Cesi, Bishop of Narni, had been appointed governor of Bologna by Pope Pius IV. He had rebuilt the collegiate schools and halls, and was inviting the learned, as well Ultra-montan as Italian, to repair to the city and revive the glories of the university. Among the scholars so invited was the youthful Tasso, and the Bishop of Narni's letter seems to have nearly synchronised with the Sigonian row. The compliment thus paid him, and the wrongs and migration of a respected tutor, determined him to quit Padua.
He did not remain long at Bologna. But his residence there was marked by two events in his literary life, the one characteristic of his early proficiency and renown; the other, an event of permanent interest to the world. Although only nineteen years of age at the time of his migration, Tasso was appointed a public lecturer at Bologna : and his · Dialogues on Heroic Poetry as we now read them, are the expansion of his course of lectures on the same theme. At Bologna also he began and completed the first three cantos of his Gierusalemme. The fame of his poem was almost coeval with its conception. Bolognetti, when he saw this beginning, and heard the whole plan from the lips of the young author, is said to have exclaimed in the words of Propertius,
Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Graii,
Nescio-quid majus nascitur Iliade.' vol. XCII. NO. CLXXXVIII.
It is marvellous, observes Serassi, as cited by Mr. R. Milman, that among the hundred and sixteen stanzas, of which
this commencement consists, many of the most beautiful in • that portion of his poem are to be found, although his later and
more finished taste made him change the greater part of the • sketch, and exceedingly improve the order of the story, the • sublimity of the conceptions, and the beauty of the diction.' The most seemingly careless and the most obviously elaborate of the great narrative poets resemble one another in this respect. The pentimentos in Ariosto's manuscript are numberless: Spenser and Camoens were discontented even with their third or fourth amendments, and the shapely Pallas of Torquato's brain was slowly modelled and painfully refined, until few of its original lineaments remained unaltered.
The wrongs done to his tutor had caused him to leave Padua; he quitted Bologna on account of an insult offered to himself. A squib reflecting on the tutors, Heads of Houses, and principal citizens, was imputed, although it would seem unjustly, to Tasso. During a temporary absence from his rooms, the university beadle was ordered to seize his papers and carry them to the
judge of the place, one Marcantonio Arresio, by whom they • were strictly and unceremoniously overlooked.' Tasso was acquitted of all art or part in the unlucky pasquinade; but he was so seriously offended by the insult, that, after writing a letter of indignant justification to the Bishop of Narni, he quitted Bologna, and finally, on the solicitations of Scipione Gonzaga, returned to Padua. His next removal was apparently to high fortune, or at least to a fair vantage-ground of honours and wealth. It was really the most disastrous step of his life. At the age of twenty Torquato probably viewed his introduction at the court of Ferrara through the most roseate tints of youthful hope. At the age of fifty, and in his communications with Manso, he drew a picture of his suit and service under Alphonso in all the colours of a transcendental sorrow,
- as some great painter dips
His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse.' Our limits do not permit of our tracing the progress of Tasso's misfortunes at the court of Ferrara. Our information, indeed, in spite of the labours of so many biographers, is very unsatisfactory. We do not know whether he loved or was beloved by Leonora; or whether he preferred or was preferred by Lucretia ; or whether one or both of the Ladies of Este were poetical impersonations of that metaphysical passion which poets, and Italian poets especially, seem to have held it their
duty to entertain. Neither are we informed of the offence which Alphonso so cruelly avenged. On this point, as on so many others connected with Tasso, neither Manso nor Serassi can be implicitly trusted. The complexion of the Italian courts was eminently jealous; the tenure of court-favour amid so many ambitious patrons and so many anxious suitors was more than commonly precarious. We know, indeed, that the voung poet had enemies, and among them one that might and did probably poison the ducal ear against him, — Giambattista Pigna, the private secretary of Alphonso. It appears, also, that either the Este family were capricious in their favours, or that Tasso himself was too incautious or too irritable for a courtier. Before he incurred the wrath of the Duke, he had displeased, or fancied he had displeased, the Cardinal d'Este. Of this enigma, which is as inextricable as the cause of Ovid's banishment to Tomi, only two points are clear,- that no indiscretion on the part of Tasso can have merited torments in comparison with which • Luke's iron crown and Damien's bed of steel' are ordinary penalties; and that whatever may have been Alphonso's injuries or suspicions, his fell and ingenious vengeance stands high on the register of history's darkest crimes.
At first, and for some time after Tasso's arrival at Ferrara, all went merry as a marriage bell.' The Duke took much notice of him, and expressed deep interest in the progress of his epic. He accorded to him the privilege - in that ceremonious and heraldic age a high one, - of dining at the tavola ordinaria, the daily dinner-table of the princes themselves. On Tasso's return from France, and even after the cooling of Luigi d'Este's favour, Alphonso appointed him one of his gentlemen, with a monthly salary of about fifteen golden crowns, and a special exemption from any particular duties, in order that he might have leisure for his studies and for the completion of his great work. The society of the Ladies of Este must have constituted, however, the halcyon-calm of his life. In their society he was restored to the soothing and graceful influences of which he had been deprived from the time that, in his twelfth year, he bade his last farewell to his mother Porzia de' Rossi. In this respect alone he was more fortunate than the most favoured poet or wit in the circles of Cæsar and Mæcenas. The learned ladies of Rome, the Lælias and Cornelias, were the virtuous matrons of the commonwealth. The intriguing Livia, the Julias and Terentias were more witty than intellectual, and as licentious as they were witty. A metaphysical amour would have been incomprehensible to Horace; and, had so strange a phenomenon been pos- ·