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Torquato Tasso


There is no error in opinion or judgment, no widespread prejudice, so difficult to eradicate or overcome as one that is founded on sentiment, and when the sentiment is a generous one, seeking to make some atonement for supposed injustice done in the past, in thought or in deed, the prejudice will be apt to cling the more tenaciously. “Peace to Torquato's injured shade,” exclaims Byron in his heart-stirring lines—but was this a just apostrophe? Nobly gifted, deeply afflicted and unfortunate though he was, was Tasso indeed injured, as implied, by his fellow man? Most sad and suffering as his life became, we may be committing a deep injustice in asserting it to have been brought upon him by cruelty or even unkindness; and a fair impartial review of his whole life and circumstances would seem to reveal a far different history. This has been most forcibly impressed by reading the pages of one who from the outset seems to have believed in the grievous wrong done to Tasso by Alfonso d'Este, and to have viewed every event by the light of a preconceived opinion; while to one coming without opinion formed to the perusal of these pages, ignorant until then of the course of events, they would seem, we think, strikingly to set forth the very opposite view; the very facts the author brings forward in evidence of his assertions seeming to furnish the strongest indications of a contrary explanation. To any one coming with even a moderate knowledge of mental disease to the study of this sad life, it will surely seem one in which the tendency to, and at length declaration of, this malady can be most clearly traced out from the very early days of Tasso down to the very last hour of his life. This is not to disturb the shade of Tasso, rather to yield it the desired rest; for who would not rather think of him as bowed beneath the weight of a sad inscrutable affliction sent by no mortal hand, than as the victim of cruelty and injustice, which would indeed have been scarcely human in their refinement, but of which we must consider Alfonso d'Este may have been most unjustly accused?

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* The Life of Torquato Tasso. By the Rev. R. Milman. In 2 Vols.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Torquato Tasso

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