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"The sounds, the sight
"One stopt him short,
A Christian woman spinning at her door
After this, he journeys on through deserted hamlets and desolated towns, till, on entering the silent streets of Auria, yet black with conflagration, and stained with blood, the vestiges of a more heroic resistance appear before him.
"Helmet and turban, scymitar and sword, Christian and Moor in death promiscuous lay
Each where they fell; and blood-flakes, parch'd and crack'd
Like the dry slime of some receding flood;
While he is gazing on this dreadful scene, with all the sympathies of admiration and from the ruins, and implores him to assist her sorrow, a young and lovely woman rushes in burying the bodies of her child, husband, and parents, who all lie mangled at her feet. heart and kindling eyes, to the vehement narHe sadly complies; and listens, with beating rative and lofty vow of revenge with which this heroine closes her story. The story itself is a little commonplace; turning mainly upon her midnight slaughter of the Moorish captain, who sought to make love to her after the sacrifice of all her family; but the expression of her patriotic devotedness and religious ardour of revenge, is given with great energy; as well as the effect which it produces on the waking spirit of the King. He repeats the solemn vow which she has just taken, and consults her as to the steps that may be taken for rousing the valiant of the land to their assistance. The high-minded Amazon then asks the name of her first proselyte.
"Ask any thing but that! The fallen King replied. My name was lost When from the Goths the sceptre past away!"
She rejoins, rather less felicitously, "Then be thy name Maccabee ;" and sends him on an embassage to a worthy abbot among the mountains; to whom he forthwith reports what he had seen and witnessed. Upon hearing the story of her magnanimous devotion, the worthy priest instantly divines the name of the heroine.
'Oh none but Adosinda!.. none but she, ..
"But when he reach'd
They scann'd his countenance: But not a trace
On heath and myrtle."-pp. 28-30.
He breath'd thanksgiving forth; then made his bed of sovereignty; and on the emaciate cheek
The King then communes on the affairs of Spain with this venerable Ecclesiastic and his associates; who are struck with wonder at the lofty mien which still shines through his sunk and mortified frame.
At length, the prelate lays his consecrating hands on him; and sends him to Pelayo, the heir-apparent of the sceptre, then a prisoner or hostage at the court of the Moorish prince, to say that the mountaineers are still unsub
dued, and look to him to guide them to vengeance.
These scenes last through two books; and at the beginning of the Fifth, Roderick sets out on his mission. Here, while he reposes himself in a rustic inn, he hears the assembled guests at once lamenting the condition of Spain, and imprecating curses on the head of its guilty King. He says a few words vehemently for himself; and is supported by a venerable old man, in whom he soon recognises an ancient servant of his mother's house
-the guardian and playmate of his infant days. Secure from discovering himself, he musters courage to ask if his mother be still alive; and is soothed to milder sorrow by learning that she is. At dawn he resumes his course; and kneeling at a broken crucifix on the road, is insulted by a Moor, who politely accosts him with a kick, and the dig;
nified address of "God's curse confound
thee!" for which Roderick knocks him down, and stabs him with his own dagger. The worthy old man, whose name is Siverian, comes up just as this feat is performed, and is requested to assist in "hiding the carrion;" after which they proceed lovingly together. On their approach to Cordoba, the old man calls sadly to mind the scene which he had witnessed at his last visit to that place, some ten years before, when Roderick, in the pride of his youthful triumph, had brought the haughty foe of his father to the grave where his ashes were interred, and his gentle mother came to see that expiation made. The King listens to this commemoration of his past glories with deep, but suppressed emotion: and entering the chapel, falls prostrate on the grave of his father. A majestic figure starts forward at that action, in the dress of penitence and mourning; and the pilgrims recognise Pelayo, to whom they both come commissioned. This closes the Sixth Book.
The Seventh contains their account of the state of affairs, and Pelayo's solemn acceptance of the dangerous service of leaving the meditated insurrection. The abdicated monarch then kneels down and hails him King of Spain! and Siverian, though with mournful remembrances, follows the high example. The Eighth Book continues this midnight conversation; and introduces the young Alphonso, Pelayo's fellow-prisoner, at the Moorish court, who is then associated to their counsels, and enters with eager delight into their plans of escape. These two books are rather dull; though not without force and dignity. The worst thing in them is a bit of rhetoric of Alphonso, who complains that his delight in watching the moon setting over his native hills, was all spoiled, on looking up and seeing the Moorish crescent on the towers!
The Ninth Book introduces an important person-Florinda, the unhappy daughter of Count Julian. She sits muffled by Pelayo's way, as he returns from the chapel; and begs a boon of him in the name of Roderick, the chosen friend of his youth. He asks who it is that adjures him by that beloved but now unuttered name:
"She bar'd her face, and, looking up, replied,
"The favouring moon arose, To guide them on their flight through upland paths Forest and mountain glen. Before their feet Remote from frequentage, and dales retir'd, The fire-flies, swarming in the woodland shade, Sprung up like sparks, and twinkled round their
The timorous blackbird, starting at their step,
Bright rose the flame replenish'd; it illum'd The cork-tree's furrow'd rind, its rifts and swells And redder scars, . . and where its aged boughs O'erbower'd the travellers, cast upon the leaves A floating, grey, unrealising gleam."—pp. 117, 118.
The rest soon sink in serene and untroubled sleep: But Roderick and Florinda, little dreaming of each other's presence, are kept awake by bitter recollections. At last she approaches him; and, awed by the sanctity of his air and raiment, kneels down before him, and asks if he knows who the wretch is who thus grovels before him. He answers that he does not:"Then said she. Here thou seest One who is known too fatally for all, The daughter of Count Julian!'... Well it was For Rodrick that no eye beheld him now! From head to foot a sharper pang than death Thrill'd him; his heart, as at a mortal stroke, Ceas'd from its functions; his breath fail'd."--p. 120.
Tell me? Or thinkest thou I know it not? Alas! who hath not heard the hideous tale Of Rod'rick's shame!'"'.
"There she cried, Drawing her body backward where she knelt, And stretching forth her arms with head uprais'd,.. There! it pursues me still!.. I came to thee, Father, for comfort-and thou heapest fire Upon my head! But hear me patiently, And let me undeceive thee! Self-abas'd, Not to arraign another, do I come!.. I come a self-accuser, self-condemn'd, To take upon myself the pain deserv'd; For I have drank the cup of bitterness, And having drank therein of heavenly grace, I must not put away the cup of shame."
"Thus as she spake she falter'd at the close,
thee! Thee.. thee, Florinda!'.. But the very excess Of passion check'd his speech."-pp. 121, 122.
Still utterly unconscious of her strange confessor, she goes on to explain herself:—
"I lov'd the King!.. Tenderly, passionately, madly lov'd him! Sinful it was to love a child of earth With such entire devotion as I lov'd Rodrick, the heroic Prince, the glorious Goth! He was the sunshine of my soul! and like A flower, I liv'd and flourish'd in his light Oh bear not with me thus impatiently! No tale of weakness this, that in the act Of penitence, indulgent to itself, With garrulous palliation half repeats The sin it ill repents. I will be brief." " pp. 123, 124.
She then describes the unconscious growth of their mutual passion-enlarges upon her own imprudence in affording him opportunities of declaring it—and expresses her conviction, that the wretched catastrophe was brought about, not by any premeditated guilt, but in a moment of delirium, which she had herself been instrumental in bringing on :
O'ercame him, thou wilt do for Roderick All he could ask thee, all that can be done On earth, and all his spirit could endure!' Then, vent'ring towards her an imploring look, Wilt thou join with me for his soul in prayer?" He said, and trembled as he spake. That voice Of sympathy was like Heaven's influence, Wounding at once and comforting the soul. O Father! Christ requite thee!" she exclaim'd; 'Thou hast set free the springs which with'ring Have clos'd too long.' [griefs "Then in a firmer speech, 'For Rodrick, for Count Julian, and myself, Three wretchedest of all the human race! Who have destroy'd each other and ourselves, Mutually wrong'd and wronging-let us pray!' pp. 133, 134.
Rejoicing in their task, The servants of the house with emulous love Dispute the charge. One brings the cuirass, one The buckler; this exultingly displays The sword, his comrade lifts the helm on high: Greek artists in the imperial city forg'd That splendid armour, perfect in their craft ; With curious skill they wrought it, fram'd alike To shine amid the pageantry of war, And for the proof of battle. Many a time Alphonso from his nurse's lap had stretch'd His infant hand toward it eagerly, Where, gleaming to the central fire, it hung High on the hall.
No season this for old solemnities!
For wassailry and sport; .. the bath, the bed,
pathos, is still too much speckled with strange words; which, whether they are old or new, are not English at the present day-and we hope never will become so. What use or ornament does Mr. Southey expect to derive for his poetry from such words as avid and aureate, and auriphrygiate? or leman and weedery, frequentage and youthhead, and twenty more as pedantic and affected? What good is there either, we should like to know, in talking of "oaken galilees," or "incarnadined poitrals," or "all-able Providence," and such other points of learning?-If poetry is intended for general delight, ought not its language to be generally intelligible?
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Third. By LORD BYRON. 8vo. pp. 79. London: 1816. By Lord Byron. 8vo, pp. 60. London: 1816.*
The Prisoner of Chillon, and other Poems.
Ir the finest poetry be that which leaves the deepest impression on the minds of its readers and this is not the worst test of its excellence-Lord Byron, we think, must be allowed to take precedence of all his distinguished contemporaries. He has not the variety of Scott-nor the delicacy of Campbell nor the absolute truth of Crabbe-nor the polished sparkling of Moore; but in force of diction, and inextinguishable energy of sentiment, he clearly surpasses them all. "Words that breathe, and thoughts that burn," are not merely the ornaments, but the common staple of his poetry; and he is not inspired or impressive only in some happy passages, but through the whole body and tissue of his composition. It was an unavoidable condition, perhaps, of this higher excellence, that his scene should be narrow, and his persons few. To compass such ends as he had in view, it was necessary to reject all ordinary agents, and all trivial combinations. He could not possibly be amusing, or ingenious, or playful; or hope to maintain the requisite pitch of interest by the recitation of sprightly adventures, or the opposition of common characters. To produce great effects, in short, he felt that it was necessary to deal only with the greater passions with the exaltations of a daring fancy, and the errors of a lofty intellect-with the pride, the terrors, and the agonies of
strong emotion-the fire and air alone of our human elements.
In this respect, and in his general notion of the end and the means of poetry, we have sometimes thought that his views fell more in with those of the Lake poets, than of any other existing party in the poetical commonwealth: And, in some of his later productions especially, it is impossible not to be struck with his occasional approaches to the style and manner of this class of writers. Lord Byron, however, it should be observed, like all other persons of a quick sense of beauty, and sure enough of their own originality to be in no fear of paltry imputations, is a great mimic of styles and manners, and a great borrower of external character. He and Scott, accordingly, are full of imitations of all the writers from whom they have ever derived gratification; and the two most original writers of the age might appear, to superficial observers, to be the most deeply indebted to their predecessors. In this particular instance, we have no fault to find with Lord Byron: For undoubtedly the finer passages of Wordsworth and Southey have in them wherewithal to lend an impulse to the utmost ambition of rival genius; and their diction and manner of writing is frequently both striking and original. But we must say, that it would afford us still greater pleasure to find these tuneful gentlemen returning the compliment which Lord Byron has here paid to their talents; and forming themselves on the model rather of his imitations, than of their own originals.—
* I have already said so much of Lord Byron with reference to his Dramatic productions, that I cannot now afford to republish more than one other paper on the subject of his poetry in general: And I se-In those imitations they will find that, though lect this, rather because it refers to a greater variety he is sometimes abundantly mystical, he of these compositions, than because it deals with such as are either absolutely the best, or the most never, or at least very rarely, indulges in abcharacteristic of his genius. The truth is, however, solute nonsense-never takes his lofty flights that all his writings are characteristic; and lead, upon mean or ridiculous occasions — and, pretty much alike, to those views of the dark and above all, never dilutes his strong concep the bright parts of his nature, which have led me, I tions, and magnificent imaginations, with a fear (though almost irresistibly) into observations more personal to the character of the author, than flood of oppressive verbosity. On the conshould generally be permitted to a mere literary trary, he is, of all living writers, the most concise and condensed; and, we would fain
hope, may go far, by his example, to redeem | by one character-not only in all the acts of the great reproach of our modern literature each several drama, but in all the different its intolerable prolixity and redundance. In dramas of the series;—and, grand and imhis nervous and manly lines, we find no elab-pressive as it is, we feel at last that these very orate amplification of common sentiments- qualities make some relief more indispensable, no ostentatious polishing of pretty expres- and oppress the spirits of ordinary mortals sions; and we really think that the brilliant with too deep an impression of awe and resuccess which has rewarded his disdain of pulsion. There is too much guilt in short, and those paltry artifices, should put to shame for too much gloom, in the leading character;ever that puling and self-admiring race, who and though it be a fine thing to gaze, now can live through half a volume on the stock and then, on stormy seas, and thunder-shaken of a single thought, and expatiate over divers mountains, we should prefer passing our days fair quarto pages with the details of one te-in sheltered valleys, and by the murmur of dious description. In Lord Byron, on the contrary, we have a perpetual stream of thick- We are aware that these metaphors may be coming fancies-an eternal spring of fresh- turned against us-and that, without metablown images, which seem called into exist-phor, it may be said that men do not pass ence by the sudden flash of those glowing their days in reading poetry--and that, as they thoughts and overwhelming emotions, that may look into Lord Byron only about as often struggle for expression through the whole flow as they look abroad upon tempests, they have of his poetry-and impart to a diction that is no more reason to complain of him for being often abrupt and irregular, a force and a charm grand and gloomy, than to complain of the which frequently realise all that is said of in- same qualities in the glaciers and volcanoes spiration. which they go so far to visit. Painters, too, With all these undoubted claims to our it may be said, have often gained great repuadmiration, however, it is impossible to deny tation by their representations of tigers and that the noble author before us has still some-others ferocious animals, or of caverns and thing to learn, and a good deal to correct. He banditti-and poets should be allowed, withis frequently abrupt and careless, and some-out reproach, to indulge in analogous exertimes obscure. There are marks, occasion- cises. We are far from thinking that there is ally, of effort and straining after an emphasis, no weight in these considerations; and feel which is generally spontaneous; and, above how plausibly it may be said, that we have all, there is far too great a monotony in the no better reason for a great part of our commoral colouring of his pictures, and too much plaint, than that an author, to whom we are repetition of the same sentiments and maxims. already very greatly indebted, has chosen He delights too exclusively in the delineation rather to please himself, than us, in the use of a certain morbid exaltation of character and he makes of his talents. feeling-a sort of demoniacal sublimity, not without some traits of the ruined Archangel. He is haunted almost perpetually with the image of a being feeding and fed upon by violent passions, and the recollections of the catastrophes they have occasioned: And, though worn out by their past indulgence, unable to sustain the burden of an existence which they do not continue to animate-full of pride, and revenge, and obduracy-disdaining life and death, and mankind and himself --and trampling, in his scorn, not only upon the falsehood and formality of polished life, but upon its tame virtues and slavish devotion: Yet envying, by fits, the very beings he despises, and melting into mere softness and compassion, when the helplessness of child-inflames our atmosphere with perpetual fiery hood or the frailty of woman make an appeal explosions and pitchy vapours. Lord Byron's to his generosity. Such is the person with poetry, in short, is too attractive and too whom we are called upon almost exclusively famous to lie dormant or inoperative; and, to sympathise in all the greater productions therefore, if it produce any painful or perniof this distinguished writer:-In Childe Harold cious effects, there will be murmurs, and in the Corsair-in Lara-in the Siege of ought to be suggestions of alteration. Now, Corinth in Parisina, and in most of the though an artist may draw fighting tigers and smaller pieces. hungry lions in as lively and natural a way as he can, without giving any encouragement to human ferocity, or even much alarm to human fear, the case is somewhat different, when a poet represents men with tiger-like dispositions:-and yet more so, when he exhausts the resources of his genius to make this terrible being interesting and attractive, and to represent all the lofty virtues as the natural
It is impossible to represent such a character better than Lord Byron has done in all these productions-or indeed to represent any thing more terrible in its anger, or more attractive in its relenting. In point of effect, we readily admit, that no one character can be more poetical or impressive:-But it is really too much to find the scene perpetually filled
This, no doubt, seems both unreasonable and ungrateful: But it is nevertheless true, that a public benefactor becomes a debtor to the public; and is, in some degree, responsible for the employment of those gifts which seem to be conferred upon him, not merely for his own delight, but for the delight and improvement of his fellows through all generations. Independent this, however, we think there is a reply to the apology. A great living poet is not like a distant volcano, or an occasional tempest. He is a volcano in the heart of our land, and a cloud that hangs over our dwellings; and we have some reason to complain, if, instead of genial warmth and grateful shade, he voluntarily darkens and