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standyng poole, covered and overflowcd all England, fewe books were read in our tongue, savyng certaine bookcs of chevalrie, as they said, for pastime and pleasure; which, as some say, were made in the monaste
ries, by idle monks or wanton chanons. As one for example, La mnrte d'.4rthune; the whole pleasure of which book standeth in two speciall poynts, in open manslaughter and bold hawdrye; in which boolte they be counted the noblest knightes that do kill most men without any quarrell, and commit fowlest adoulteries by sutlest shiftes; as Sir Lancelot, with the wife of King Arthur, his master; Sir Tristram, with the wife of King Marke, his uncle; Sir Lamerocke, with the wife of King Lote, that was his own aunt. This is good stuffe for wise men to laugh at, or honest nien to take pleasure at, yet I know when God's Bible was banished the court, and La lllorte d'Arthure received into the prince's chamber.»-AscnAu's Schoolmaster.
AND TO THE GOMMITTEE OF SUBSCRIBERS FOR RELIEF OF THE PORTUGUESE SIJFFRRERS,
Tn; following poem is founded upon a Spanish tradition, particularly detailed in the Notes; but bearing, in general, that Don Roderick, the last Gothic King of Spain, when the invasion of the Moors was impending, had the temerity to descend into an ancient vault, near Toledo, the opening of which had been denounced as fatal to the Spanish monarchy. The legend adds, that his rash curiosity was mortified by an emblematical representation of those Saracens, who, in the year 7|._',, defeated him in battle. and reduced Spain under their dominion. I have presumed to prolong the Vision of the Be"°!‘“!°“s °f SP3!" ‘1°Wl1 to the present eventful
crisis of the Peninsula; and to divide it, by a supposed change of scene, into Tnitsn Pntuons. The Fntsr of these represents the Invasion of the Moors, the Defeat and Death of Roderick, and closes with the peaceful occupation of the country by the victors. The SECOND Panto» embraces the state of the Peninsula, when the conquests of the Spaniards and Portuguese in the East and West Indies had raised to the highest pitch the renown of their arms; sullied, however, by superstition and cmelty. An allusion to the inhumanities of the in quisition terminates this picture. The LAST PART of the poem opens with the state of Spain previous to the unparalleled treachery of Boxumrrrn; gives asltetch of the usurpation attempted upon that l.tnsuspiCl0l1S and friendly kingdom, and terminates with the arrival of
the British succours.
It may be farther proper to.mention, that the object of the poem is less to commemorate or detail particular incidents, than to exhibit a general and impressive picture of the several periods brought upon the stage.
I am too sensible of the respect due to the Public, especially by one who has already experienced more than ordinary indulgence, to offer any apology for the inferiority of the poetry to the subject it is chiefly designed to commemorate. Yet I think it proper to mention,‘ that while I was hastily executing a work, written for a temporary purpose, and on passing events, the task was cruelly interrupted by the successive deaths of Lord President BLAIR, and Lord Viscount MBLVILLE. In those distinguished characters, I had not only to regret persons whose lives were most important to Scotland, but also whose notice and patronage honoured my entrance upon active life; and I may add, with melancholy pride, who permitted my more advanced age to claim no common share in their friendship. Under such interruptions, the following verses, which my best and happiest efforts must have left far unworthy of their theme, have, Iurn myself sensible, an appearance of negligence and incoherence, which, in other circumstances, I might have been able to remove.
Ye mountains stern! within whose rugged breast
The friends of Scottish freedom found repose; Ye torrents! whose hoarse sounds have soothed their
Returning from the field of vanquish‘d foes; Say, have ye lost each wild majestic close,
That erst the choir of bards or druids flung; What time their hymn of victory arose,
And Cattraeth's glens with voice of triumph rung, And mystic Merlin harp'd, and gray-hair‘d Llywarch
0! if your wilds such minstrelsy retain,
As sure your changeful gales seem oft to say, When sweeping wild and sinking soft again,
Like trumpet-jubilee, or harp’s wild sway; If ye can echo such triumphant lay,
Then lend the note to him has loved you long! Who pious gather'd each tradition gray
That floats your solitary wastes along, And with affection vain gave them new voice in song.
tt There, of Numantian fire a swarthy spark
Still lightens in the sun-burnt native’s eye ; The stately port, slow step, and visage dark,
Still mark enduring pride and constancy. And, if the glow of feudal chivalry
Beam not, as once, thy nobles‘ dearest pride, lbcrial oft thy crestless peasantry
Have seen the plumed llidalgo quit their side,
\( And cherish'd still by that unchanging race,
Are themes for minstrelsy more high than thine ; Of strange tradition many a mystic trace,
Legend and vision, prophecy and sign ; Where wonders wild of Arabesque combine
With Gothic imagery of darker shade, Forming a model meet for minstrel line.
Go, seek such theme !v—The mountain spirit said : With filial awal hettrd—l heard, and l oVy'd.
The chosen soldiers of the royal guard
IV. in the light language of an idle court, They murmur'd at their master's long delay, And held his lengthen'd orisons in sport :14 What! will Don Roderick here till morning stay, To wear in shrift and prayer the night away? And are his hours in such dull penance past, For fair Fl0rinda.'s plunder‘d charms to pay'.'»—(5) Then to the cast their weary eya they cast, And wish'd the lingering dawn would glimmer forth at last.
V. But, far within, Toledo’s prelate lent An ear of fearful wonder to the king; The silver lamp a fitful lustre sent, So long that sad confession witnessing: For Roderick told of many a hidden thing, Such as are lothly utter'd to the air, When fear, remorse, and shame the bosom wring, And guilt his secret burthen cannot hear, And conscience seeks in speech 8. respite from despair.
Know by their hearing to disguise their mood 2»-
Sent to the monarch's cheek the burning blood-~
1 The predecessor of ltotlcrick upon the Spnnish throne. ltnd slain by his connivnnco, as is affirmed by Rodriguez of Toledo, the father of Spanish history.
XXI. I( By Heaven, the Moors prevail! the Christians yield !-Their coward leader gives for flight the sign! The sceptcr'd craven mounts to quit the fieldIs not yon steed Orelia!-—Yes, ‘t is mine! (8) But never was she turn'd from battle-line; Lo! where the recreant spurs o'er stock and stone! Curses pursue the slave and wrath divine! Rivers ingulf him‘,»—u Hush!» in shuddering tone, The prelate said; \( rash prince, yon vision'd form ‘s thine own.»XXII. Just then, a torrent cross'd the flyer's course; The dangerous ford the kingly likeness tried; But the deep eddies whelm'd both man and horse, Swept like benighted peasant down the tide; And the proud llloslemah spread far and wide, As numerous as their native locust band; Berber and Ismael's sons the spoils divide, With naked scymitars mete out the land, And for their bondsmeu base the free-born natives
Then rose the grated harem, to inclose
Ilow fares Don Roderick ?—E’eu as one who spies _
Flames dart their glare o'er midnight's sable woof, And hears around his children’s piercing cries,
And sees the pale assistants stand aloof; While cruel conscience brings him bitter proof,
Ilis fully, or his crime, have caused his grief, And, while above him nods the crumbling roof,
He curses earth and heaven—himself in chiefDesperate of earthly aid, despairing 'lIeaven’s relief!
XXV. That scythe-arm'd giant turn'd his fatal glass, And twilight on the landscape closed her wings; Far to Asturian hills the war-sounds pass, And in their stead rebeck or timhrel rings; And to the sound the bell-deck'd dancer springs. Bazaars resound as when their marts are met, In tourney light the Moor his jerrid llings, And on the land, as evening seem'd to set, The imaum‘s chaunt was heard from mosque or minaret. XXVI. So pass'd that pageant. Ere another came, The visionary scene was wrapp'<l in smoke, Whose sulph‘rous wreaths were cross’d by sheets offlame; Willi every flash a bolt explosive broke, Till Roderick dc-em'd the fiends had burst their yoke, And waved 'g:tinst heaven the infernal gonfalone! I-‘or War a new and dreudful language spoke, Never by ancient warrior heard or known; Lightning and smoke her breath, and thunder was her tone.