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Say, thou hast left his legions in their blood,
And if he chafe, be his own fortune tried-
But you, ye heroes of that well-fought day,
Or bind on every brow the laurels won ?'
Yes! hard the task, when Britons wield the sword,
And Red Barosa shouts for dauntless GRAME!
O for a verse of tumult and of flame,
Bold as the bursting of their cannon sound,
To bid the world re-echo to their fame!
For never, upon gory battle-ground,
With conquest's well-bought wreath were braver victors crown'd!
O who shall grudge him Albuera's bays,2
Who brought a race regenerate to the field,
Roused them to emulate their fathers' praise,
Temper'd their headlong rage, their courage steel'd, 3
[See Appendix, Note D.]
[MS." O who shall grudge yon chief the victor's bays."]
3 Nothing during the war of Portugal seems, to a distinct observer, 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. How great the chance of miscarriage was supposed, may be estimated from the general opinion of officers of unquestioned talents and experience, possessed of every opportunity of information; how completely the experiment has succeeded, and how much the spirit and patriotism of our ancient allies had been underrated, is evident, not only
And raised fair Lusitania's fallen shield,
And gave new edge to Lusitania's sword,
Not on that bloody field of battle' won,
Though Gaul's proud legions roll'd like mist away,
He gaged but life on that illustrious day;
He braved the shafts of censure and of shame,
Nor be his praise o'erpast who strove to hide
He dream'd 'mid Alpine cliffs of Athole's hill,
And heard in Ebro's roar his Lyndoch's lovely rill. 4
from those victories in which they have borne a distinguished share, but from the liberal and highly honourable manner in which these opinions have been retracted. The success of this plan, with all its important consequences, we owe to the indefatigable exertions of FieldMarshal Beresford.
[MS.-"Not greater on that mount of strife and blood,
While Gaul's proud legions roll'd like mist away,
And tides of gore stained Albuera's flood,
And Poland's shatter'd lines before him lay,
And clarions bail'd him victor of the day.
Not greater when he toil'd yon legions to array,
Far dearer than bis life, the hero pledged his fame."]
[MS.-" Nor be bis meed o'erpast who sadly tried
With valour's wreath to hide affection's wound,
"These lines excel the noisier and more general panegyrics of the commanders in Portugal, as much as the sweet and thrilling tones of the harp surpass an ordinary flourish of drums and trumpets."-Quarterly Review.
"Perhaps it is our nationality which makes us like better the tribute to General Grahame
O hero of a race renown'd of old,
Whose war-cry oft has waked the battle-swell,
Wild sounding when the Roman rampart fell!
But ne'er from prouder field arose the name,
Than when wild Ronda learn'd the conquering shout of GRÆME."
But all too long, through seas unknown and dark,
And nearer now I see the port expand,
And now I gladly furl my weary sail,
And, as the prow light touches on the strand,
I strike my red-cross flag and bind my skiff to land.3
--though there is something, we believe, in the softness of the sentiment that will be felt, even by English readers, as a relief from the exceeding clamour and loud boastings of all the surrounding stanzas. -Edinburgh Review.]
This stanza alludes to the various achievements of the warlike family of Græme, or Grahame. They are said, by tradition, to have descended from the Scottish chief, under whose command his countrymen stormed the wall built by the Emperor Severns between the Friths of Forth and Clyde, the fragments of which are still popularly called Græme's Dyke. Sir John the Græme, "the hardy, wight, and wise," is well known as the friend of Sir William Wallace. Alderne, Kilsythe, and Tibbermuir, were scenes of the victories of the heroic Marquis of Montrose. The pass of Killycrankie is famous for the action between King William's forces and the Highlanders in 1689,
"Where glad Dundee in faint huzzas expired."
It is seldom that one line can number so many heroes, and yet more rare when it can appeal to the glory of a living descendant in support of its ancient renown.
The allusions to the private history and character of General Grahame may be illustrated by referring to the eloquent and affecting speech of Mr. Sheridan, upon the vote of thanks to the Victor of Barosa.
["Now, strike your salles, yee tolly mariners,
For we be come unto a quiet rode,
Till she repaired have her tackles spent
And wants supplide; and then againe abroad
Well may she spede, and fairely finish her intent !"
Faerie Queene, Book i. Canto 12. ]
3["The Vision of Don Roderick has been received with less interest by the public than any of the author's other performances; and has been read, we should imagine, with some degree of disappointment even by those who took it up with the most reasonable expectations. Yet it is written with very considerable spirit, and with more care and effort than
And guide me, Priest, to that mysterious room,
Where, if aught true in old tradition be,
His nation's future fate a Spanish King shall see.-P. 308.
The transition of an incident from history to tradition, and from tradition to fable and romance, becoming more marvellous at each step from its original simplicity, is not ill exemplified in the account of the "Fated Chamber" of Don Roderick, as given by his namesake, the historian of Toledo, contrasted with subsequent and more romantic accounts of the same subterranean discovery. I give the Archbishop of Toledo's tale in the words of
most of the author's compositions;-with a degree of effort, indeed, which could scarcely have failed of success, if the author had not succeeded so splendidly on other occasions without any effort at all, or had chosen any other subject than that which fills the cry of our alehouse politicians, and supplies the gabble of all the quidnuncs in this country,— our depending campaigns in Spain and Portugal,-with the exploits of Lord Wellington and the spoliations of the French armies. The nominal subject of the poem, indeed, is the Vision of Don Roderick, in the eighth century;-but this is obviously a mere prelude to the grand piece of our recent battles,-a sort of machinery devised to give dignity and effect to their introduction. In point of fact, the poem begins and ends with Lord Wellington; and being written for the benefit of the plundered Portuguese, and upon a Spanish story, the thing could not well have been otherwise. The public, at this moment, will listen to nothing about Spain, but the history of the Spanish war; and the old Gothic king, and the Moors, are considered, we dare say, by Mr. Scott's most impatient readers, as very tedious interlopers in the proper business of the piece.. The Poem has scarcely any characters; and consists, in truth, almost entirely of a series of descriptions, intermingled with plaudits and execrations. The descriptions are many of them very fine, though the style is more turgid and verbose than in the better parts of Mr. Scott's other productions; but the invectives and acclamations are too vehement and too frequent to be either graceful or impressive. There is no climax or progression to relieve the ear, or stimulate the imagination. Mr. Scott sets out on the very highest pitch of his voice; and keeps it up to the end of the measure. There are no grand swells, therefore, or over-powering bursts in his song. All, from first to last, is loud, and clamorous, and obtrusive,-indiscriminately noisy, and often ineffectually exaggerated. He has fewer new images than in his other poetryhis tone is less natural and varied,—and he moves, upon the whole, with a slower and more laborious pace."-JEFFREY, 1811.
"No comparison can be fairly instituted between compositions so wholly different in style and designation as the present poem and Mr. Scott's former productions. The present poem neither has, nor, from its nature, could have the interest which arises from an eventful plot, or a detailed delineation of character; and we shall arrive at a far more accurate estimation of its merits by comparing it with "The Bard' of Gray, or that particular scene of Ariosto, where Bradamante beholds the wonders of Merlin's tomb. To this it has many strong and evident features of resemblance; but, in our opinion, greatly surpasses it both in the dignity of the objects represented, and the picturesque effect of the machinery.
"We are inclined to rank The Vision of Don Roderick, not only above 'The Bard,' but, (excepting Adam's Vision from the Mount of Paradise, and the matchless beauties of the sixth book of Virgil,) above all the historical and poetical prospects which have come to our knowledge. The scenic representation is at once gorgeous and natural; and the language, and imagery, is altogether as spirited, and bears the stamp of more care and polish than even the most celebrated of the author's former productions. If it please us less than these, we must attribute it in part perhaps to the want of contrivance, and in a still greater degree to the nature of the subject itself, which is deprived of all the interest derived from suspense or sympathy, and, as far as it is connected with modern politics, represents a scene too near our immediate inspection to admit the interposition of the magic glass of fiction and poetry."—Quarterly Review, October, 1814.]
Nonius, who seems to intimate, (though very modestly,) that the fatale palatium, of which so much had been said, was only the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre.
"Extra muros, septentrionem versus, vestigia magni olim theatri sparsa visuntur. Auctor est Rodericus, Toletanus Archiepiscopus ante Arabum in Hispanias irruptionem, hic fatale palatium fuisse ; quod invicti vectes æterna ferri robora claudebant, ne reseratum Hispaniæ excidium adferret; quod in fatis non vulgus solum, sed et prudentissimi quique credebant. Sed Roderici ultimi Gothorum Regis animum infelix curiositas subiit, sciendi quid sub tot vetitis claustris observaretur; ingentes ibi superiorum regum opes et arcanos thesauros servari ratus. Seras et pessulos perfringi curat, invitis omnibus; nihil præter arculam repertum, et in ea linteum, quo explicato novæ et insolentes hominum facies habitusque apparuere, cum inscriptione Latina, Hispaniæ excidium ab illa gente imminere; Vultus habitusque Maurorum erant. Quamobrem ex Africa tantam cladem instare regi cæterisque persuasum; nec falso ut Hispaniæ annales etiamnum queruntur.”—Hispania Ludovic. Nonij. cap lix.
But, about the term of the expulsion of the Moors from Grenada, we find, in the "Historia Verdadeyra del Rey Don Rodrigo," a (pretended) translation from the Arabic of the sage Alcayde Abulcacim Tarif Abentarique, a legend which puts to shame the modesty of the historian Roderick, with his chest and prophetic picture. The custom of ascribing a pretended Moorish original to these legendary histories, is ridiculed by Cervantes, who affects to translate the History of the Knight of the Woful Figure, from the Arabic of the sage Cid Hamet Benengeli. As I have been indebted to the Historia Verdadeyra for some of the imagery employed in the text, the following literal translation from the work itself may gratify the inquisitive reader :
"One mile on the east side of the city of Toledo, among some rocks, was situated an ancient tower, of a magnificent structure, though much dilapidated by time, which consumes all: four estadoes (i. e. four times a man's height) below it, there was a cave with a very narrow entrance, and a gate cut out of the solid rock, lined with a strong covering of iron, and fastened with many locks; above the gate some Greek letters are engraved, which, although abbreviated, and of doubtful meaning, were thus interpreted, according to the exposition of learned men :- The King who opens this cave, and can discover the wonders, will discover both good and evil things. Many Kings desired to know the mystery of this tower, and sought to find out the manner with much care: but when they opened the gate, such a tremendous noise arose in the cave, that it appeared as if the earth was bursting; many of those present sickened with fear, and others lost their lives. In order to prevent such great perils, (as they supposed a dangerous enchantment was contained within,) they secured the gate with new locks, concluding, that, though a King was destined to open it, the fated time was not yet arrived. At last King Don Rodrigo, led on by his evil fortune and unlucky destiny, opened the tower; and some bold attendants, whom he had brought with him, entered, although agitated with fear. Having proceeded a good way, they fled back to the entrance, terrified with a frightful vision which they had beheld. The King was greatly moved, and ordered many torches, so contrived that the tempest in the cave could not extinguish them, to be lighted. Then the King entered, not without fear, before all the others. They discovered, by degrees, a splendid hall, apparently built in a very sumptuous manner; in the middle stood a Bronze Statue of very ferocious appearance, which held a battle-axe in its hands. With this he struck the floor violently, giving it such heavy blows, that the noise in the cave was occasioned by the motion of the air. The King, greatly affrighted and astonished, began to conjure this terrible vision, promising that he would return without doing any injury in the cave, after he had obtained a sight of what was contained in it. The statue ceased to strike the floor, and the King, with his followers, somewhat assured, and recovering their courage, proceeded into the hall; and on the left of the statue they found this inscription on the wall, 'Unfortunate King! thou hast entered here in evil hour. On the right side of the wall these words were inscribed, "By strange nations thou shalt be dispossessed, and thy subjects foully degraded.' On the shoulders of the statue other words were written, which said, 'I call upon the Arabs.' And upon his breast was written, 'I do my office. At the entrance of the hall there was placed a round bowl, from which a great noise, like the fall of waters, proceeded. They found no other thing in the hall; and when the King, sorrowful and greatly affected, had scarcely turned about to leave the cavern, the statue again commenced its accustomed blows upon the floor. After they had mutually promised to conceal what they had seen, they again closed the tower and blocked up the gate of the cavern with earth, that no memory might remain in the world of such a portentous and evil-boding prodigy. The ensuing midnight they heard great cries and clamour from the cave, resounding like the noise of battle, and the ground shaking with a tremendous roar; the whole edifice of the old tower fell to the ground, by which they were greatly affrighted, the vision which they had beheld appearing to them as a dream.
"The King having left the tower, ordered wise men to explain what the inscriptions