When one compares the few details left as about the life of Shakspere with the wealth of materials for writing the biography of Tasso we might suppose that there would be little doubt about the main facts in the life of the great Italian poet. Nevertheless some of the most important passages in his life have been the subject of controversy for the last 300 years. These questions especially regarded the treatment Tasso met with from the ducal family of Este, and unless we understand these relations correctly, we may totally misconceive the character of the poet and all the later events of his life. It seems strange that such questions have remained so long undecided; but biographers and critics are often much better acquainted with books and texts and languages than with human nature. A fine illustration of this is furnished by the Life of Tasso † by the Rev. Mr. Milman. Here we may refer the reader to a paper in this Journal of January, 1877. The author, whose initials are A. C. M., though his study of the life of Tasso had apparently gone no further than a perusal of Milman's book, was able to show many of the errors into which the biographer had fallen. In truth Mr. Milman, although he took up the traditional view that Tasso was the victim of vindictive persecution by the Machiavelian Duke of Ferrara, yet was too candid to repress a number of facts which, in the eyes of an able psychologist, showed that his whole treatment of the life of Tasso was founded upon a complete misconception or ignorance of the ordinary symptoms of mental derangement.
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