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THE Morgante Maggiore, of the first canto of which translation is offered, divides with the Orlando Ina orato the honour of having formed and suggested style and story of Ariosto. The great defects of rdo were his treating too seriously the narratives hivalry, and his harsh style. Ariosto, in his conation, by a judicious mixture of the gaiety of Pulci, avoided the one, and Berni, in his reformation of bardo's poem, has corrected the other. Pulci may be pasidered as the precursor and model of Berni albgether, as he has partly been to Ariosto, however aferior to both his copyists. He is no less the founder f a new style of poetry very lately sprung up in Engnd. I allude to that of the ingenious Whistlecraft. ve serious poems on Roncesvalles in the same language, d more particularly the excellent one of Mr Merivale, to be traced to the same source. It has never yet * in decided entirely, whether Pulci's intention was or s not to deride the religion, which is one of his farite topics. It appears to me, that such an intention uld have been no less hazardous to the poet than to e priest, particularly in that age and country; and e permission to publish the poem, and its reception aong the classics of Italy, prove that it neither was
nor is so interpreted. That he intended to ridicule the monastic life, and suffered his imagination to play with the simple dulness of his converted giant, seems evident enough; but surely it were as unjust to accuse him of irreligion on this account, as to denounce Fielding for his Parson Adams, Barnabas, Thwackum, Supple, and the Ordinary in Jonathan Wild,—or Scott, for the exquisite use of his Covenanters in the << Tales of my Landlord.»>
In the following translation I have used the liberty of the original with the proper names; as Pulci uses Gan, Ganellon, or Ganellone; Carlo, Carlomagno, or Carlomano; Rondel, or Rondello, etc. as it suits his convenience, so has the translator. In other respects the version is faithful to the best of the translator's ability in combining his interpretation of the one language with the not very easy task of reducing it to the same versification in the other. The reader is requested to remember that the antiquated language of Pulci, however pure, is not easy to the generality of Italians themselves, from its great mixture of Tuscan proverbs; and he may therefore be more indulgent to the present attempt. How far the translator has succeeded, and whether or no he shall continue the work, are questions which the public will decide. He was induced to make the experiment partly by his love for, and partial intercourse with, the Italian language, of which it is so easy to acquire a slight knowledge, and with which it is so nearly impossible for a foreigner to become accurately conversant. The Italian language
like a capricious beauty, who accords her smiles to
all, her favours to few, and sometimes least to those who have courted her longest. The translator wished also to present in an English dress a part at least of a poem never yet rendered into a northern language; at the same time that it has been the original of some of the most celebrated productions on this side of the Alps, as well as of those recent experiments in poetry in England which have been already mentioned.