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THE VISION OF DON RODERICK.
And Cattraeth's glens with voice of triumph rung.-P. 306. This locality may startle those readers who do not recollect that much of the ancient poetry preserved in Wales refers less to the history of the principality to which that name is now limited than to events which happened in the north-west of England and south-west of Scotland, where the Britons for a long time made a stand against the Saxons. The battle of Cattraeth, lamented by the celebrated Aneurin, is supposed by the learned Dr. Leyden to have been fought on the skirts of Ettricke Forest. It is known to the English reader by the paraphrase of Gray, beginning
" Had I but the torrent's might,
With headlong rage and wild affright," &c. But it is not generally known that the champions mourned in this beautiful dirge were the British inhabitants of Edinburgh, who were cut off by the Saxons of Deira, or Northumberland, about the latter part of the sixth century. Llywarch, the celebrated bard and monarch, was Prince of Argood, in Cumberland; and his youthful exploits were performed upon the Border. As for Merlin Wylit, or the savage, his name of Caledonian, and his retreat into the Caledo. nian Wood, appropriate him to Scotland.
Or round the marge of Minchmore's haunted spring.-P. 306. A belief in the existence and nocturnal revels of the fairies still lingers among the vulgar in Selkirkshire. A copious fountain upon the ridge of Minchmore, called the Cheese Well, is supposed to be sacred to these fanciful spirits; and it was customary to propitiate them by throwing in something upon passing it. A pin was the usual oblation, and the ceremony is still sometimes practised, though rather in jest than earnest.
For fair Florinda's plundered charms to pay.-P. 308. Almost all the Spanish historians, as well as the voice of tradition, ascribe the invasion of the Moors to the forcible violation committed by Roderick upon Florinda, called by the Moors, Caba, or Cava. She was the daughter of Count Julian, one of the Gothic monarch's principal lieutenants, who, when the crime was perpetrated, was engaged in the defence of Ceuta against the Moors. In his indignation at the ingratitude of his sovereign, and the dishonour of his daughter, Count Julian forgot the duties of a Christian and a patriot; and, forming an alliance with Musa, then the caliph's lieutenant in Africa, he countenanced the invasion of Spain by a body of Saracens and Africans, commanded by the celebrated Tarik, the issue of which was the defeat and death of Roderick, and the occupation of almost the whole Peninsula by the Moors. The Spaniards, in detestation of Florinda's memory, are said, by Cervantes, never to bestow that name upon any human female, reserving it for their dogs.
The Tecbir war-cry, and the Lelie's yell.-P. 311. The Tecbir (derived from the words Alla acbar, “God is most mighty") was the original war-cry of the Saracens. The Lelie, well known to the Christians during the crusades, is the shout of Alla illa Alla, the Mohammedan confession of faith.
“By heaven, the Moors prevail ! the Christians yield !”—P. 311. Count Julian, the father of the injured Florinda, with the conniv. ance and assistance of Oppas, Archbishop of Toledo, invited, in 713, the Saracens into Spain. A considerable army arrived under the command of Tarik, or Tarif, who bequeathed the well-known name of Gibraltar (Gibel al Tarik, or the Mountain of Tarik) to the placo of his landing. He was joined by Count Julian; ravaged Andalusia. and took Seville. In 714 they returned with a still greater force, and Roderick marched into Andalusia, at the head of a great army, te give them battle.
When for the light Bolero ready stand.-P. 314. The Bolero is a very light and active dance, much practised by the Spaniards, in which castanets are always used. Mozo and Nuchacha are equivalent to our phrase of lad and lass.
While trumpets rang, and heralds cried, “ Castilc!”—P. 316. The heralds at the coronation of a Spanish monarch proclaim his name three times, and repeat three times the word Castilla, Castilla, Castilla!
Behind their wasteful march, a reeking wilderness.-P. 320. I have ventured to apply to the movements of the French army that sublime passage in the prophecies of Joel, which seems appli cable to them in more respects than that I have adopted in the text. See Joel ii. 2-10.
Gave his poor crust to feed some wretch forlorn.-P. 321. Even the unexampled gallantry of the British army in the cam paign of 1810-11 will do them less honour in history than their humanity, attentive to soften to the utmost of their power the horrors of war. Soup-kitchens were estal lished by subscription among the officers, wherever the troops were quartered for any length of time. The commissaries contributed the heads, feet, &c., of the cattle blaughtered for the soldiery; rice, vegetables, and bread, where it could be had, were purchased by the officers. Fifty or sixty starying peasants were daily fed at one of these regimental establishments, and carried home the relics to their famished households. The emaeiated wretches, who could not crawl from weakness, were speedily employed in pruning their vines. While pursuing Massena, the soldiers evinced the same spirit of humanity; and, in many instances, when reduced themselves to short allowance, from having out marched their supplies, they shared their pittance with the starving inhabitants who had ventured back to view the ruins of their habi. tations, burned by the retreating enemy, and to bury the lodies of their relations whom they had butchered.
Vain-glorious fugitive! yet turn again !-P. 322. The French conducted this memorable retreat with much of the fanfaronnade proper to their country. On the 30th March, 1811. their rear-guard was overtaken near Pega by the British cavalry. Being well posted, and conceiving themselves safe from infantry (who were, indeed, many miles in the rear), and from artillery, they indulged themselves in parading their bands of music, and actually performed “God save the King." Their minstrelsy was, however, deranged by the undesired accompaniment of the British horseartillery, on whose part in the concert they had not calculated. The surprise was sudden, and the rout complete.
Vainly thy squadrons hide Assuava's plain.-P. 322.
action of Fuentes d'Honoro, upon 5th May, 1811, the grand mass of the French cavalry attacked the right of the British position, covered by two guns of the horse-artillery and two squad. rons of cavalry. After suffering considerably from the fire of the guns, which annoyed them in every attempt to formation, the enemy turned their wrath entirely towards them, distributed brandy among their troopers, and advanced to carry the field-pieces with the desperation of drunken fury. They were in no ways checked by the hcavy loss which they sustained in this daring attempt, but closed, and fairly mingled with the British cavalry, to whom they bore the proportion of ten to one. Captain Ramsay, who commanded the two guns, dismissed them at the gallop, and, putting himself at the head of the mounted artillerymen, ordered them to fall upon the French, sabre in hand. This very unexpected conversion of artillerymen into dragoons contributed greatly to the defeat of the enemy, already disconcerted by the reception they had met with from this two British squadrons; and the appearance of some small reinforcc. inents, notwithstanding the immense disproportion of force, put them to absolute rout.
And what avails thee that, for Cameron slain.-P. 322. The gallant Colonel Cameron was wounded mortally during the desperate contest in the streets of the village called Fuentes d'Honoro. He fell at the head of his native Highlanders, the 71st and 79th, who raised a dreadful shriek of grief and rage. They charged with irresistible fury the finest body of French grenadiers ever seen, being a part of Buonaparte's selected guard.
O who shall grudge him Albuera's bays.-P. 323. Nothing during the war of Portugal seems more deserving of praise than the self-devotion of Field Marshal Beresford, who was contented to undertake all the hazard of obloquy which might have been founded upon any miscarriage in the highly-important experiment of training the Portuguese troops to an improved state of discipline. In exposing his military reputation to the censure of imprudence from the most moderate, and all manner of unutterable calumnies from the ignorant and malignant, he placed at stake the dearest pledge which a military man had to offer; and nothing but the deepest conviction of the high and essential importance attached to success can be supposed an adequate motive. Than when wild Ronda learned the conquering shout of Grame.
P. 323. This stanza alludes to the various achievements of the warlika family of Græme, or Grahame.
On Barnard's towers and Tees's stream.-P. 327. Barnard Castle, saith old Leland, "standeth stately upon Tees." It is founded upon a very high bank, and its ruins impend over the river, including within the area a circuit of six acres and upwards. This once magnificent fortress derives its name from its founder, Barnard Baliol, the ancestor of the short and unfortunate dynasty of that name, which succeeded to the Scottish throne under the patronage of Edward I. and Edward III. Baliol's tower, afterwards mentioned in the poem, is a round tower of great size, situated at the western extremity of the building. It bears marks of great antiquity, and was remarkable for the curious coustruction of its vaulted roof.
And the buff-coat in ample fold.-P. 329. The use of complete suits of armour was fallen into disuse during the civil war, though they were still worn by leaders of rank and importance. “In the reign of King James I.," says our military antiquary, “no great alterations were made in the article of defensive armour, except that the buff-coat, or jerkin, which was originally worn under the cuirass, now became freque:tly a substitute for it, it having been found that a good buff leather would of itself resist the stroke of a sword; this, however, only occasionally took place among the light-armed cavalry and infantry, complete suits of armour being still used among the heavy horse."--Grose's Military Antiquities.
On his dark face a scorching clime.-P. 330. In this character I have attempted to sketch one of those WestIndian adventurers, who, during the course of the seventeenth century, were popularly known by the nanue of Buccaneers. The successes of the English in the predatory incursions upon Spanish America, during the reign of Elizabeth, had never been forgotten; and from that period downward, the exploits of Drake and Raleigh were imitated, upon a smaller scale, indeed, but with equally despc. rate valour, by small hands of pirates, gathered from all nations, but chiefly French and English.
Monckton and Mitton told the news.-P. 336. Monckton and Mitton are villages near the river Ouse, and not very distant from the field of battle. The particulars of the action were violently disputed at the time.
The moated mound of Risingham.-P. 336. Risingham, upon the river Reed, near the beautiful hamlet of Woodburn, is an ancient Roman station, formerly called cum. Camden says, that in his time the popular account bore that it had been the abode of a deity or giant, called Magon.
An outlaw's image on the stone.-P. 336. About half a mile distant from Risingham, upon an eminence covered with scattered birch-trees and fragments of rock, there is cut upon a large rock, in alto-relievo, a remarkable figure, called Robin of Risingham, or Robin of Reedsdale. It presents a hunter, with his bow raised in one hand, and in the other what seems to be a hare. There is a quiver at the back of the figure, and he is dressed in a long coat, or kirtle, coming down to the knees, and meeting close, with a girdle bound round him. The popular tradition is, that it represents a giant, whose brother resided at Woodburn, and he himself at Risingham.
The statutes of the Buccaneer.-P. 337. The “statutes of the Buccaneers” were, in reality, more equitable than could have been expected from the state of society under which they had been formed. They chiefly related, as may readily be conjectured, to the distribution and the inheritance of their plunder.
Down his deep woods the course of Tees.-P. 343. The view from Barnard Castle commands the rich and magnificent valley of Tees. Immediately adjacent to the river, the banks are very thickly wooded; at a little distance they are more open and cultivated; but being interspersed with hedge-rows, and with isolated trees of great size and age, they still retain the richness ot woodland scenery. The river itself flows in a deep trench of solid rock, chiefly limestone and marble. The finest view of its romantic course is from a handsome modern-built bridge over the Tees, by the late Mr. Morritt of Rokeby.
And Eglistond's grey ruins passed.-P. 344. The ruins of this abbey or priory are beautifully situated upon the angle formed by a little dell called Thorsgill, at its junction with the Tees. Eglistone was dedicated to St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, and is supposed to have been founded by Ralph de Multon about the end of Henry the Second's reign. There were formerly the tombs of the families of Rokebys, Bowes, and Fitzhughs.
Raised by that legion long renowned.-P. 345. Close behind the George Inn at Greta Bridge, there is a well. preserved Roman encampment, surrounded with a triple ditch. lying between the river Greta and a brook called the Tutta. Very
many Roman altars and monuments have been found in the vicinity.
Awoke, when Rokeby's turrets high.-P. 345. This ancient inanor long gave name to a family by whom it is said to have been possessed from the Conquest downward, and who are at different times distinguished in history. The Rokeby. or Rokesby, family continued to be distinguished until the great civil war, when, having embraced the cause of Charles I., they suffered severely by fines and confiscations. The estate then passed from its ancient possessors.
What gales are sold on Lapland 8 shore.-P. 348. Olaus Magnus states that the Findlanders were wont formerly to sell winds to merchants that were stopped on their coasts by contrary weather.
How whistle rash bids tempests roar.-P. 348. That this is a general superstition is well known to all who have been on ship-board, or who have conversed with seamen. The most formidable whistler that I remember to have met with was the apparition of a certain Mrs. Leakey, who, about 1636, resided, we are told, at Mynehead, in Somerset.
Of Erick's cap and Elmo's light.-P. 348. "Ericus. King of Sweden, in his time was held second to none in the magical art; and he was so familiar with the evil spirits, which he exceedingly adored, that which way soever he turned his cap, the wind would presently blow that way. From this occasion he was called Windy Cap."--Olaus Magnus.
The Demon-frigate braves the gale.-P. 348. This is an allusion to a well-known nautical superstition concerning a fantastic vessel, called by sailors the Flying Dutchman, and supposed to be seen about the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope. She is distinguished from earthly vessels by bearing a press of sail when all others are unable, from stress of weather, to show an inch of canvas.
How, by some desert isle or key.-P. 348. What contributed much to the security of the Buccaneers, about the Windward Islands, was the great number of little islets, called in that country keys. These are small sandy patches, appearing just above the surface of the ocean, covered only with a few bushes and weeds, but sometimes affording springs of water, and in general much frequented by turtle. Such little uninhabited spots afforded the pirates good harbours, either for refitting or for the purpose of ambush; they were occasionally the hiding place of their treasure, and often afforded a shelter to themselves.
Before the gate of Mortham stood.-P. 350. The castle of Mortham, which Leland terms “Mr. Rokesby's place, in ripa citer, scant a quarter of mile from Greta Bridge, and not a quarter of a mile beneath into Tees," is a picturesque tower, surrounded by buildings of different ages. The battlements of the tower itself are singularly elegant, the architect having broken them at regular intervals into different heights; while those at the corners of the tower project into octangular turrets. A wall with embrasures encloses the southern front, where a low portal arch affords an entry to what was the castle court. At some distance is most happily placed, between the stems of two magnificent elns, the monument alluded to in the text. It is said to have been brought from the ruins of Eglistone priory, and appears to have been a tomb of the Fitz-Hughs. The situation of Mortham is eminently beautiful, occupying a high bank, at the bottom of which the Greta winds out of the dark, narrow, and romantic dell which the the text has attempted to describe.