« ПретходнаНастави »
was going to lay violent hands upon himself; but, thinking better of it, he frequently thought to leave her entirely; or else to hate her, if he could, as much as she had hated him. But this proved a vain design; for he constantly found that the less his hope, the greater always his love. Persevering then in his love and extravagant way of life, his friends looked upon him as destroying his constitution, as well as wasting his substance; they therefore advised and entreated that he would leave the place, and go and live somewhere else; for, by that means, he might lessen both his love and expence. For some time he made light of this advice, till being very much importuned, and not knowing how to refuse them, he promised to do so; when, making extraordinary preparations, as if he was going some long journey either into France or Spain, he mounted his horse and left Ravenna, attended by many of his friends, and went to a place about three miles off, called Chiassi, where he ordered tents and pavilions to be brought, telling those who had accompanied him, that he meant to stay there, but that they might return to Ravenna. Here he lived in the most splendid manner, inviting sometimes this company, and sometimes that, both to dine and sup as he had used to do before. Now it happened in the beginning of May, the season being extremely pleasant, that, thinking of his cruel mistress, he ordered all his family to retire, and leave him to his own thoughts, when he walked along, step by step, and lost in reflection, till he came to a forest of pines. It being then the fifth hour of the day, and he advanced more than half a mile into the grove, without thinking either of his dinner, or any thing else but his love, on a sudden he seemed to hear a most grievous lamentation, with the loud shrieks of a woman: this put an end to his meditation, when, looking round him, to know what the matter was, he saw come out of a thicket full of briers and thorns, and run towards the place where he was, a most beautiful lady, naked, with her flesh all scratched and rent by the bushes, crying terribly, and begging for mercy : in close pursuit of her were two fierce mastiffs, biting and tearing wherever they uld lay hold, and behind, upon a black steed, rode a gloomy knight, with a dagger in his hand, loading her with the bitterest imprecations. The sight struck him at once with wonder and consternation, as well as pity for the lady, whom he was desirous to rescue from such trouble and danger, if possible; but finding himself without arms, he seized the branch of a tree, instead of a truncheon, and went forward with it, to oppose both the dogs and the knight. The knight observing this, called out, afar off, " Anastasio, do not concern thyself; but leave the dogs and me to do by this wicked woman as she has deserved." At these words the dogs laid hold of her, and he coming up to them, dismounted from his horse. Anastasio then stept up to him, and said,
"I know not who you are, that are acquainted thus with me; but I must tell you, that it is a most villainous action for a man armed as you are to pursue a naked woman, and to set dogs upon her also, as if she were a wild beast; be assured, that I shall defend her to the utmost of my power." The knight replied, “I was once your countryman, when you were but a child, and was called Guido de gli Anastagi, at which time I was more enamoured with this woman, than ever you were with Traversaro's daughter; but she treated me so cruelly, and with so much insolence, that I killed myself with this dagger which you now see in my hand, for which I am doomed to eternal punishment. Soon afterwards she, who was over and above rejoiced at my death, died likewise, and for that cruelty, as also for the joy which she expressed at my misery, she is condemned as well as myself; our sentences are for her to flee before me, and for me, who loved her so well, to pursue her as a mortal enemy; and when I overtake her, with this dagger, with which I murdered myself, do I murder her; then
I open her through the back, and take out that hard and cold heart, which neither love nor pity could pierce, with all her entrails, and throw them to the dogs; and in a little time (so wills the justice and power of heaven) she rises, as though she had never been dead, and renews her miserable flight, whilst we pursue her over again. Every Friday in the year, about this time, do I sacrifice her here, as you sec, and on other days in other places, where she has ever thought or done any thing against me; and thus being from a lover become her mortal enemy, I am to follow her as many years as she was cruel to me months. Then let the divine justice take its course, nor offer to oppose what you are no way able to withstand." Anastasio drew back at these words, terrified to death, and waited to see what the other was going to do: who having made an end of speaking, ran at her with the utmost fury, as she was seized by the dogs, and kneeled down begging for mercy, when with his dagger he pierced through her breast, drawing forth her heart and entrails, which they immediately, as if half famished, devoured. And in a little time she rose again, as if nothing had happened, and fled towards the sea, the dogs biting and tearing her all the way; the knight also being remounted, and taking his dagger, pursued her as before, till they soon got out of sight. Upon seeing these things, Anastasio stood divided betwixt fear and pity, and at length it came into his mind that, as it happened always on a Friday, it might be of particular use. Returning then to his servants, he sent for some of his friends and relations, when he said to them, "You have often importuned me to leave off loving this my enemy, and to contract my expences; I am ready to do so, provided you grant me one favour, which is this, that next Friday, you engage Paolo Traversaro, his wife and
daughter, with all their women-friends and relations to come and dine with me: the reason of my requiring this you will see at that time." This seemed to them a small matter, and returning to Ravenna they invited all those whom he had desired, and though they found it difficult to prevail upon the young lady, yet the others carried her at last along with them. Anastasio had provided a magnificent entertainment in the grove where that spectacle had lately been; and, having seated all his company, he contrived that the lady should sit directly opposite to the scene of action. The last course then was no sooner served up, but the lady's shrieks began to be heard. This surprised them all, and they began to enquire what it was, and, as nobody could inform them, they all arose; when immediately they saw the lady, dogs, and knight, who were soon amongst them. Great was consequently the clamour, both against the dogs and knight, and many of them went to her assistance. But the knight made the same harangue to them, that he had done to Anastasio, which terrified and filled them with wonder; whilst he acted the same part over again, the ladies, of whom there were many present, related to both the knight and lady, who remembered his love and unhappy death, all lamenting as much as if it happened to themselves. This tragical affair being ended, and the lady and knight both gone away, they had various arguments together about it; but none seemed so much affected as Anastasio's mistress, who had heard and seen every thing distinctly, and was sensible that it concerned her more than any other person, calling to mind her usage of and cruelty towards him; so that she seemed to flee before him all incensed, with the mastiffs at her heels; and her terror was such, lest this should ever happen to her, that, turning her hatred into love, she sent that very evening a trusty damsel privately to him, who entreated him in her name to come to see her, for that she was ready to fulfil his desires. Anastasio replied, that nothing could be more agreeable to him; but that he desired no favour from her, but what was consistent with her honour. The lady, who was sensible that it had been always her fault they were not married, answered, that she was willing; and going herself to her father and mother, she acquainted them with her intention. This gave them the utmost satisfaction; and the next Sunday the marriage was solemnized with all possible demonstrations of joy. And that spectacle was not attended with this good alone; but all the women of Ravenna, for the time to come, were so terrified with it, that they were more ready to listen to, and oblige the men, than ever they had been before.
CYMON AND IPHIGENIA.
BEROALDUS, who translated this novel into Latin, and published it in Paris in 1499, affirms, that it is taken from the annals of the kingdom of Cyprus; and from his intimacy with Hugo IV., king of that island, may perhaps have had grounds for saying so, besides Boccaccio's own allegation to the same effect. Whether entirely fictitious, or grounded upon historical fact, it is one of those novels which have added most to the reputation of the " Decameron;" nor has the version of Dryden been the least admired among his poems. This popularity seems entirely due to the primary incident, the reforming of Cymon from his barbarism and idiocy, by the influence of a passion, which almost all have felt at one period of their life, and love to read and hear of ever afterwards. Perhaps the original idea of Cymon's conversion is to be found in the Idyl of Theocritus, entitled BOYKOAIEKOE. There is not in our language a strain of more beautiful and melodious poetry, than that so often quoted, in which Dryden describes the sleeping nymph, and the effect of her beauty upon the clownish Cymon. But it is only sufficient to mention that passage, to recal it to the recollection of every general reader, and of most who have read any poetry at all. The narrative, it must be confessed, is otherwise inartificial, and bears little proportion, or even reference, to this most striking and original incident. Cymon might have carried off Iphigene, and all the changes of fortune which afterwards take place might have happened, though his love had commenced in an ordinary manner; nor is there any thing in his character or mode of conduct, which calls back to our recollection, his having such a miraculous instance of the power of love. In short, in the progress of the tale, we quite lose sight of its original and striking commencement; nor do we find much compensation by the introduction of the new actor Lysander, with whose passion and disappointment we have little sympathy; and whose expedients, as Dry
den plainly confesses, are no other than an abus eof his public office by the commission of murder and rape. These are perhaps too critiobjections to a story, which Dryden took from Boccaccio, as Boccaccio had probably taken it from some old annalist, as containing a striking instance of the power of the gentler affections, in regulating and refining the human mind, and a curious illustration of the mutability of fortune, in the subsequent incidents attending the loves of Cymon and Iphigene.
Dryden, in the introductory verses, has hazarded a more direct attack upon Collier, than his consciousness of having merited his accusations had yet permitted him to bring forward.