ページの画像
PDF
ePub

The Hebrew scriptures record a sacrifice similar to this in that of Jephtha's daughter.

The persuasire roice of Orpheus. Orpheus was a fabulous musician. It was pretended that the music of his voice and his lyre was so enchanting that rocks were animated, and rivers ceased to flow, at the sound.

Compel me not that is beneath to rier. The pagan notion of death, as has been before observed, was that of descent, of darkness, and of doubt. It is the most welcome truth of Christianity, that it brings life and immortality to light; and since the establishment of Christianity, the idea of the state after death includes that of purer ele. ments than those of earth, and of powers to expatiate more extensively amidst the wonders of the universe.

Queen of Chaleis and of Aulis. Diana was the guardian goddess of these adrerse, that is, opposite cities—the former on the coast of Eubea, and the latter on that of • Greece.

SOUTHEY.

.

Robert Southey is among the most distinguished of living authors, in the various departments of Poetry, History, and Biography. His poetic talent has been chiefly displayed in the Epic.--Thalaba, Madoc, the Curse of Kehama, and Roderick, the Last of the Goths, are his principal poems. The last mentioned of these is the greatest favourite of the public, and deserves to be so.

The poem of Roderick, &c. is founded, as the name imports, upon the history of the last Gothic King of Spain, Upon the dismemberment of the Roman Empire, Hispania, the modern Spain, was taken by those northern barbarians called Goths. The Goths established a regal government, which subsisted from A. D. 411 to A. D. 712. Roderick, the Last of the Goths, had a private quarrel with a distinguished nobleman of his court, and the latter, indignant against the king, conspired with the Moors, a nation of the opposite shores of Africa, to dethrone Roderick and surrender the sovereignity to the Moors.

The authenticity of this statement of the origin of the Moorish conquest of Spain is disputed--but it is the tradition of the Moors and Spaniards, and upon the assumed fact, Mr. Southey has founded his poem. Many of Roderick's subjects remained faithful to him, but multitudes rebelled, and after a battle with the Moors and the rebels, Roderick is said to have disappeared, and never to have been found again, A. D. 712.

The most faithful adherent of Roderick was Pelayo, a prince of his blood, who became the founder of a new kingdom, that of Asturia. The following account of Pelayo, is taken from a French, Abrégé de l'Histoire d' Espagn. “Pelayo seeking liberty, and preferring a desert to a state of bondage, led a few faithful followers to a sequestered spot enclosed by rocks in the interior of Asturia. Being a man of talent and integrity, he acquired an absolute ascendancy over his friends, and they appointed him their king. His subjects were few, and his territory barren rocks; but the men were faithful and coura. •

geous. Their asylum was discovered and invaded bythe Moors, but the refugees defended themselves; and froni this commencement originated the kingdom of Asturia, long one of the most powerful in Spain. Pelayo died in A. D. 737.

It may here be remarked that under the Moors, Spain was divided into several sovereignties. Kings of Asturia, of Oviedo, of Arragon, of Castile and Leon, are numbered among the Princes of Spain. From the extinction of the Gothic kingdom to the accession of Philip II. A. D. 1555, these separate principalities subsisted, but all Spain acknowledged Philip, and received the laws of Madrid.

Mr. Southey supposes that immediately after his de. feat Roderick sought a profound solitude, and in this situation he describes him. Roderick was accompanied in his concealment by Romano, an old man, who died and left the unhappy king alone.-Roderick had been guilty of a crime, and his self-reproach aggravated his affliction.

RODERICK IN SOLITUDE.
The fourth week of their painful pilgrimage
Was full, when they arrived where from the land
A rocky hill, rising with steep ascent,
O’erhung the glittering beach ; there on the top
A little lowly hermitage they found,
And a rude cross, and at its foot a grave,
Bearing no name nor other monument.
Where better could they rest than here, where faith
And secret penitence and happiest death
Had blest the spot, and brought good angels down,
And opened as it were a way to Heaven?
Behind them was the desert, offering fruit
And water for their need; on either side
The white sand sparkling to the sun ; in front
Great Ocean with its everlasting voice,
As in perpetual jubilee, proclaim'd
The wonders of the Almighty, filling thus'
The pauses of their fervent orisons.

Where better could the wanderers rest than here?

Twelve months they sojourn'd in their solitude, And then beneath the burden of old age Romano sunk. No brethren were there To spread the sackcloth, and with ashes strew That penitential bed, and gather round To sing his requiem, and with prayer and psalm Assist him in his hour of agony. He lay on the bare earth, which long had been His only couch ; beside him Roderick knelt, Moisten'd from tiine to time his blacken'd lips, Received a blessing with his latest breath, Then closed his eyes, and by the nameless grave Of the fore-tenant of that holy place Consign’d him earth to earth.

Two graves are here, And Roderick transverse at their feet began To break the third. In all his intervals Of prayer, save only when he search'd the woods And fill'd the Water-cruise, he labour'd there; And when the work was done, and he had laid Himself at length within its narrow sides And measured it, he shook his head to think There was no other business now for him. Poor wretch, thy bed is ready, he exclaim'd, And would that night were come!... It was a task, All gloomy as it was, which had beguiled *The sense of solitude; but now he feltThe burthen of the solitary hours:-The silence of that lonely hermitage Lay on him like a spell; and at the voice Of his own prayers, he started, half aghast.

Then too, as on Romano's grave he sate And pored upon his own, a natural thought Arose within him,.. well might he have spared That useless toil: the sepulchre would be No hiding-place for him ; no Christian hands Were here who should compose his decent corpse And cover it with earth. There he might drag

His wretched body at its passing hour,
And there the sea-birds of her heritage
Would rob the worm, or peradventure seize,
Ere death had done its work, their helpless prey,
Even now they did not fear him : when he walk'd
Beside them on the beach, regardlessly
They saw his coming; and their whirring wings
Upon the height had sometimes fann'd his cheek,
As if, being thus alone, humanity
Had lost its rank, and the prerogative
Of man was done away.

For his lost crown
And sceptre never had he felt a thought
Of pain : repentance had no pangs to spare
For trifles such as these,—the loss of these
Was a cheap penalty :-that he had fallen
Down to the lowest depth of wretchedness,
His hope and consolation. But to lose
His human station in the scale of things,
To see brute Nature scorn him, and-renounce .
Its homage to the human form divine ;-
Had then almighty vengeance thus reveal'd
His punishment, and was he fallen indeed
Below fallen man.

Oh for a voice
Of comfort,-for a ray of hope from heaven!
A hand that from these billows of despair
May reach and snatch him ere he sink engulph'd!.
At length, as life when it hath lain long time
Opprest beneath some grievous malady,
Seems to rouse up with re-collected strength,
And the sick man doth feel within himself
A second spring ; so Roderick's better mind
Arose to save him. Lo! the western sun
Flames o’er the broad Atlantic; on the verge
Of glowing ocean rests; retiring then
Draws with it all its rays, and sudden night
Fills the whole cope of heaven. The penitent
Knelt by Romano's grave, and, falling prone,

« 前へ次へ »