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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 dignified 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 uilh 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 » a bit of rhetoric of Alphonse, 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, Florinda ! . . Shrinking then, with both bet Dujci She hid herself, and bow'd her head abas'd
Upon her knee!
Pelayo stood confue'd: He had not seen
She then tells him, that wretched as ehe is. the renegade Orpas seeks her hand; аса begs his assistance to send her beyond his reach, to a Christian land. He promised ihn: she shall share his own fate; and the; put till evening.
The Tenth Book sends all the heroic purr upon their night pilgrimage to the mouotauB of Asturia. Roderick and Siverian had goce before. Pelayo. with Alphonse and Florinda, follow in the disguise of peasants. T'--.: midnight march, in that superb climate, а well described :—
'The favouring moon arose.
To guide them on their Bight through upland
The timorous blackbird, starling at their itep,
"Bright rose the flame replenish'd; it fllom'd
The rest soon sink in serene and untroobW sleep: But Roderick and Florinda. littledn-aring of each other's presence, are kepi з*.ч' by bitter recollections. At last she approerhfi him ; and. awed by the sanctity of his air -; raiment, kneels down before him, and ask? •' he knows who the wretch is who thus erov^.! before him. He answers that he does no' —
"Then said she, ' Here thon вей! One who is known too fatally for all,. • The dauehter of Count Julian!' . . . Well с ««-• For Rod'rick that no eye beheld him now: From head to foot a sharper pang than dea:b Thrill'd him; his heart, as at a mortal str^k*. Ceas'd from its functions; his breath fsU'd."--p. 1*
The darkness and her own emotions prevent her, however, from observing him, »nd she proceeds :—
"' Father! at length she »aid. all tonguistmid ТЫя general ruin shed their bitterness On Rod'rick; load his memory with rcprotch. And with their curses persecute his soul.' ... 'Why shouldst thou tell me thief eicliim'J '••<
From his cold forehead wiping as he spskf ifs;: The death-like moisture: .. Why of Rod'ncii
Tell me f Or (hinkest thou I know it not?
"'There! she cried,
Drawing her body backward where she knelt,
"Thus as she spake she falier'd at the close,
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 ! ..
Trnderly, passionately, madly lov d him!
Sinful it was to love a child of earth
\Viih such entire devotion as I lov'd
Rod'nck, ihe heroic Prince, the glorious Golh!
He was the sunshine of my «nul! and like
A flower. I liv'd and flourish'd in his light
Oh bear not with ine thus impaiiemly!
No tale of weakness this, that in the act
Of penitence, indulgent to itself.
With earnjlouH palliation halt repeats
The sin it ill repents. I will be brief.'"
pp. 123, 124.
She then describes the unconscious growth cf their mutual passion—enlarges upon her C'-.Tri imprudence in affording him opportunity of declaring it—and expresses her conviction, that the wretched catastrophe was brought about, not by any premeditated guilt, bat in a moment of delirium, which she had herself been instrumental in bringing on :—
"'Here then, О Falher, at thy feet I own
Whom I lov'd best.'
1 Dost thou recall that curse!' Cried Rod'nck. in a deep and inward voice. Soil wiih his head depress'd, and covering still Hi* countenance. 'Recall it ?' she rxclaim'd; 'Father! [ came to thee because I gare The reine to wrath too long.. because I wrought Hit rum. death, and infamy. . . О God, Forgive the wicked vengeance thus indulg'd! As I turgive the King !' "—p. 138.
Roderick again stops her enthusiastic selfaccusation, and rejects her too generous vindication of the King; and turning to Siverian, iddg—
"' To that old man.' snid he,
'And to the mother of ihe unhappy Golh,
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 f* He said, and trembled as he spake. That voice Of sympathy was like Heaven's influence, Wounding at once and comforting the soul. 'О Falher! Christ requite ihee! she exclaim'd; 'Thou hast set free the springe which with'rine
Have clos'd too long.'" [grieta
"Then in a firmer speech, 'For Rod'rick, for Count Julian, and myself. Three wrelchedesl of all the human race! Who have destroy'd each other and ourselves, Mutually wrong'd and wronging—let us pray!"
pp. 133, 134.
There is great power, we think, and great dramatic talent, in this part of the poem. The meeting of Roderick and Florinda was a touchstone for a poet who had ventured on such a subject; and Mr. Southey, we must say, has come out of the test, of standard weight and purity.
The Eleventh Book brings them in safety to the castle of Count Pedro, the Father of tho young Alphonso, formerly the feudal foe, but now the loyal soldier of Pelayo. They find him arming in his courts, with all his vassals, to march instantly against the Moors: And their joyful welcome, and the parental delight of father and mother at the return of their noble boy, are very beautifully described.
The Twelfth Canto continues these preparations.—The best part of it is the hasty and hopeful investiture of the young Alphonso, with the honours of knighthood. The mixture of domestic affection with military ardour, and the youthful innocence, ingenuous modesty, and unclouded hopes of that blooming age, are feelingly combined in the following amiable picture, in which the classical reader will recognise many touches of tme Homeric description :—
"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 pageaniry 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 ihe hull.
No season this for old solemnities!
For wassailry and sport; . . the baih, the bed.
The vigil, . . all preparatory rites
Omitted now, .. here in the fare of Неатеп,
Before the vassals of his father's house,
With them in instant peril to panake
The chance of life or death, the heroic boy
Dons his first arms! the coaled scales of steel
Which o'er ihe tunic to his knees depend;
The hose, the sleeves of mail: bareheaded then
He siood. But when Cnunt Pedro took the spur?,
And bent his knee, in service lo his son,
Alphonso from that gesture half drew back,
Starting in rev'rence, nnd a deeper hue
Spread o'er the glow of joy which flnsh'd hie checke.
Do ihm the rest, Pelayo! said the Count
So shall the ceremony of this hour
Exceed in honour what in form it lacks."
The ceremony is followed by a solemn vow of fidelity to Spain, and eternal war with the Infidel, administered by Roderick, and devoutly taken by the young Knight, and all his assembled followers.
The Thirteenth Book containsabrief account of the defeat of a Moorish detachment by this faithful troop; and of the cowardice and rebuke of Count Eudon, who had tamely yielded to the invaders, and is dismissed with scorn to the castle which his brave countrymen had redeemed. They then proceed to guard or recover the castle of Pelayo.
The Fourteenth Book describes their happyarrival at that fortress, at the fall of evening: where, though they do not find his wife and daughters, who had retired for safety, to a sacred cave in the mountains, they meet a joyful and triumphant band of his retainers, returning from a glorious repulse of the Moors, and headed by the inspiring heroine Adosinda: who speedily recognises in Roderick her mournful assistant and first proselyte at Auria, while he at the same moment discovers, among the ladies of her train, the calm and venerable aspect of his beloved mother, Ru silla.
The Fifteenth Book contains the history of his appearance before that venerated parent. Unable to sleep, he had wandered forth before dawn—
With its cold dews might bathe his throbbing brow,
While he is meditating under what pretext to introduce himself, the good Siverian comes to say, that his lady wishes to see the holy father who had spoken so charitably of her unhappy son.—The succeeding scene is very finely conceived, and supported with great judgment and feeling.
"Count Julian's daughter with Rusilla sate;
0 Father Maccabee, this is a hard world.
»Tie noted for a wonder; and the man
Who utters the strange speech shall be admir'd
For such excess of Christian charity.
Thy Christian chanty hath not been lost; . .
Father, I feel its virtue: . . it hath been
Balm to my1 heart! . . With words and grateful
All that is left me now for gratitude, . . [tears, . .
1 thank thee! and beseech ihee in thy prayers That thou wilt still remember Rod'nck's name.'"
pp. 180, 181.
The all-enduring King shudders at these words of kindness ;—but repressing kif nation—
"' О venerable Lady, he replied.
If aughi may comfort that unhappy soul
It must be thy compassion, and thy praters.
She whom he most hath wrong'd, she who alone
On earth can grant forgiveness for his cnme
She hath forgiven him ! and thy blessing now
Were all that he could ask, . . all that could bnrt
Profit or consolation to his soul.
If he hath been, as sure we may believe,
A penitent sincere.' "—p. 182.
Florinda then asks his prayers for her unhappy and apostate father; and hie adrice u to the means of rejoining him.
"While thus Florinda spake, the dog who liv
He makes a short and pious answer to :к desolate Florinda ;—and men—
"Deliberately, in self-possession, still,
Thy poor lost master,.. Theron, none but th<vi
The Sixteenth Book contains the re-mno of Pelayo's family in the cave of Coradona. His morning journey to the place of :h.- meeting, through the enchanting ecenen'(! his native Ы1Ц and with the joyous compa-J of self-approving thoughts, is well litsc '.
Arrived at last upon the lonely pbtfwa
which masks the cave in which the ?;•• -•
burst out. and his children are concealed. £.•
; sounds his bugle note; and the rock piv« cr
i its inhabitants! There is something ar.JW
ting and impressive, but withal a l:"'e '••••
classical and rapturous, in the full-length p*
ture of this delightful scene.
"But when a third and broader blast
Rung in the echoing archway, ne'er did w»r;.
With magic power endued, call up a sight
So strange, as sure in that wild solitude
It seem'd when from ihe bowels of ihe rock.
The mother and her children hasien'd fool'
She in the sober charms and dignity
Of womanhood mature, nor verging yet
Upon decay ; in gesture like a queen,
Such inborn and habitual majesty
Ennobled all her steps: . . Favila men
In form and stature, aa the Sea Nympb'» «on.
When that wise Centaur, from his cave. »'•;
Beheld the boy divine his growing strength if If*ь
Against some shaggy lionet essay '.
And fixing in ihe half-grown mane b» Him«.
RoJI with him in fierce dalliance intertwin'd.
But like a creature of some higher sphere
Hi« sister came. She scarcely touch'd the rock,
f о light was Hermesind's aenal speed.
Beauty and grace and innocence in her
In heavenly union shone. One who had held
The faith of elder Greece, would sure have thought
She was some glorious nymph of seed divine,
Oread or Dryad, of Diana's train
The youngest and the loveliest! yea she seem'd
Angel, or soul beatified, from realms
Of buss, on errand of parental love
To earth re-sent."—pp. 197, 198.
"Many a slow century, since that day, hath fill'd
Its course, and countless multitudes hare trod
With pilgrim feet that consecrated cave;
Yet not in all those ages, amid all
The nntold concourse, hath one breast been swoln
With such emotions as Pelayo felt
That hour."—p. 201.
The Seventeenth Book brings back the story to Roderick; who, with feelings more reconciled, but purposes of penitence and mortification as deep as ever, and as resolved, musée by the side of the stream, on past and future fortunes.
"Г pon я smooth grey stone sate Rod'rick there; The wind alipve him stirr'd the hazel boughs, And murm'rin? at his feet the river ran. He ra'e with folded arms and head declin'd t '«in hie breast, feeding on bitter thoughts, Ï ! Nature gave him in the exhausted sense '•' '.••»', n respite something like repose! An«! 'lien ihe quiet sound of gentle winds Л iid wners with their lulling consonance I¡ -.i'il'd him of himself. Of all within i; ijvioiie ihrre In; sale; sentient alone M'i>utnar,l nature, . . of the whisp' ring leaves 7'ni *>oth'd his ear. .. the genial bream of heaven T .11: finu'd his cheek, . . the stream's perpetual
T ist. »-ir h jis shadows and its glancing lights,
pp. 205, 206.
In this quiet mood, he is accosted by Siverj'i, who entertains him with a long account of Pelayo's belief in the innocence, or comparative innocence, of their beloved Roderick; anil of his o\vn eager and anxious surmises that he may still be alive.
Tho Eighteenth Book, which is rather long It! heavy, contains the account of Pelayo's Mronation. The best part of it, perhaps, is -He short sketch of his lady's affectionate nuitation in his glory. When she saw the preparations that announced this great event—
Brieh'en'd. The quicken'd action of the blood
2M with я deeper hue her glowing cheek; Aiii in hi-r lips thi're sate a smile, which spake 1 !>- Konournbl* pride of perfect love; Rejoicing, for her husband's sake, to share The lot he chose, the perils he defied, The lofty fortune which their faith foresaw."
Roderick bears a solemn part in the lofty ceremonies of this important day; and, with » cahn and resolute heart, beholds the allegiance of his subjects transferred to hie heroic Kinsman.
The Nineteenth Book is occupied with an interview between Roderick and his mother,
who has at last recognised him; and even while she approves of his penitential abandonment of the world, tempts him with bewitching visions of recovered fame and glory, and of atonement made to Florinda, by placing her in the rank of his queen. He continues firm, however, in his lofty purpose, and the pious Princess soon acquiesces in those pious resolutions: and, engaging to keep his scent, gives him her blessing, and retires.
The Twentieth Book conducts us to the Moorish camp and the presence of Count Julian. Orpas, a baser apostate, claims the promised hand of Florinda; and Julian ap
Eeals to the Moorish Prince, whether the iw of Mahomet admits of a forced marriage. The Prince attests that it does not; and then Julian, who has just learned that his daughter was in the approaching host of Pelayo, obtains leave to despatch a messenger to invite her to his arms.
The Twenty-first Book contains the meeting of Julian with his daughter and Roderick; under whose protection she comes at evening to the Moorish camp, and finds her father at his ablutions at the door of his tent, by the side of a clear mountain-spring. On her approach, he clasps her in has arms with overflowing love.
"' Thou hast not then forsaken me, my child.
Howe'er the inexorable will of Fate
May in the world which is to come divide
Our everlasting destinies, in this
Thou wilt not, О my child, abandon me!'
And then with deep and interrupted voice,
Nor seeking to restrain his copious tears,
'My blessing be upon thy head !' he cried,
A father's blessing! though all faiths were false.
It should not lose its worth! ... She lock'd her
Around his neck, and gazing in his face [hands
Through streaming tears, exclaim'd, 'Oh never
more. Here or hereafter, never let us part !' "—p. 258.
He is at first offended with the attendance and priestly habit of Roderick, and breaks out into some infidel taunts upon creeds and churchmen; but is forced at length to honoui the firmness, the humility, and candour of this devoted Christian. He poses him, however, in the course of their discussion, by rather an unlucky question.
"' Thou preachest that all sins may be eflac'd:
This ethical dialogue is full of lofty sentiment and strong images ; but is, on the whole rather tedious and heavy. One of the newest pictures is the following; and the sweetest scene, perhaps, that which closes the book immediately after:—
"' Methinks if ye would know How visitations of calamity Affect the pious soul, 'tis shown ye there' Look yonder at that cloud, which through :he sky Sailing alone, doth cross in her career The rolling moon! I watch'd it aa it came
A nd deem'd the deep opaque would blot her beams;
"Thus having said, (he pious suff'rer sate.
The Twenty-second Book is fuller of business than of poetry. The vindictive Orpas persuades the Moorish leader, that Julian meditates a defection from his cause; and, by working on his suspicious spirit, obtains his consent to his assassination on the first convenient opportunity.
The Twenty-third Book recounts the carnage and overthrow of the Moors in the Strait of Covadonga. Deceived by false intelligence, and drunk with deceitful hope, they advance up the long and precipitous defile, along the cliffs and ridges of which Pelayo had not only stationed his men in ambush, but had piled huge stones and trunks of trees, ready to be pushed over upon the ranks of the enemy in the lower pass. A soft summer mist hanging upon the side of the cliffs helps to conceal these preparations: and the whole line of the Infidel is irretrievably engaged in the gulf, when Adjsinda appear.« on a rock in the van, and, with her proud defiance, gives the word, which is the signal for the assault. The whole description is, as usual, a little overworked, but is unquestionably striking and impressive.
"As the Moors
Advanc'd, the Chieftain in the van was seen,
At Anna in the massacre, this hour
I summon thee before the throne of God,
To answer for the innocent blood! This hoar '.
Moor, Miscreant, Murderer,Childof Hell! thUhoir
I summon thee to judgment! ... In the name
Of God! for Spain and Vengeance.
From voice to voice on either side it past
With rapid repetition, .. ' In the name
Of God! for Spain and Vengeance!' and fortbwifa
On either side, along the whole defile.
The Asturiana shouting, in the name of God,
Set the whole ruin loose; huge trunks and Komi,
And loosen'd crags! Down, down they roll'J »rs
And bound, and thund'ring force. Such wasihtt'i3
pp. 298, 299.
The Twenty-fourth Book is full of tngical
matter, and is perhaps the most interestiic f:" the whole piece. A Moor, on the insist, "i of Orpas and Abulcacem, pierces Julian wi:i a mortal wound; wKo thereupon exhorts Ь • captains, already disgusted with the ji-aluj tyranny of the Infidel, to rejoin the standr: and the faith of their country; and then requests to be borne into a neighbouringchurch, where Florinda has been praying for Li- л •• version.
"They rais'd him from the earth;
He, knitting as they lifted him his brow.
He then, on the solemn adjuration of Roderick, renounces the bloody faith to which he had so long adhered; and reverently receives at his hand the sacrament of réceme,:.ation and peace. There is sreat feeling auJ energy we think in what follows :—
"That dread office don». Count Julian with amazement saw the Prisit Kneel down before him. 'By the jacram^n;. Which we have here partaken!' Roderick ст.«. 'In this most awful moment. By that hop*. - • That holy faith which comforts ihee in dea'b, Grant thv forgiveness, Julian, ere thou die»t! Behold the man who most hath injur'd thee' Rod'rick! the wretched Goth, the guilty cao» Of all thy euilt, . . the unworthy instrument Of thy redemption, . . kneels before thee bert. And prays to be forgiven!'
The dying Count, . . • Roderick !' .. and frort'!