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And lasts no longer than the present sway,
The people's right remains; let those who dare Dispute their power, when they the judges are.
He joined not in their choice, because he knew Worse might, and often did, from change ensue. Much to himself he thought, but little spoke; And, undeprived, his benefice forsook.
Now, through the land, his cure of souls he stretched,
And like a primitive apostle preached.
Still cheerful; ever constant to his call;
SIGISMONDA AND GUISCARDO.
THIS celebrated tale was probably taken by Boccacio from some ancient chronicle or traditional legend. It excited great attention among the learned of his time, and was translated into Latin by Leonardo Aretino. Francesco di Michele Accolti de Arezzo, who was accounted one of the best civilians of his age, rendered into Italian verse the lamentation of Sigismonda over her lover's heart; and the learned Philip Beroald made a Latin poetical version of the whole fable. Translations and imitations without number have been executed in foreign languages, without mentioning the tragedies which have been founded upon it. In England, the story was translated and versified in the octave stanza by William Walter, a follower of Sir Henry Marney, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. A prose translation is to be found in Painter's "Palace of Pleasure;" and the tale being wrought into a tragedy by Robert Wilmot and others, was presented before Queen Elizabeth, at the Inner Temple, in 1568.† Dryden will not readily be suspected of deriving much aid from his black-lettered predecessors. He made Boccacio's story his own, and told it in his own way. One gross fault he has engrafted upon his original; I mean the coarseness of Sigismonda's character, whose love is that of temperament, not of affection. This error, grounded upon Dryden's false view of the passion and of the female character, and perhaps arising from the depravity of the age rather than of the poet, pervades and greatly injures the effect of the tale. Yet it is more than counterbalanced by preponderating beauties. Without
* He flourished in the reign of Henry VII.; and his work, entitled, "The Stately Tragedy of Guiscard and Sigismond," is printed in 1597, probably from an earlier edition.
It was published by Wilmot, in 1592, under the title of "The Tragedy of Tancred and Gismund," and occurs in the 2d volume of Dodsley's old plays.