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but some large place of meeting. It is said he intended to seize the Colonel and carry him off; but as this seems to have been totally impracticable, it is rather probable that his intention was to kill him on the spot, and in the midst of the confusion to escape. Whatever his intention was, it was frustrated, for Briggs happened to be elsewhere.
"The congregation, as might be expected, was thrown into great confusion on seeing an armed man on horseback make his appearance among them; and the Major, taking advantage of their astonishment, turned his horse round, and rode quietly out. But having given an alarm, he was presently assaulted as he left the assembly, and being seized, his girths were cut, and he was unhorsed.
"At this instant his party made a furious attack on the assailants, and the Major killed with his own hand the man who had seized him, clapped the saddle, ungirthed as it was, upon his horse, and, vaulting into it, rode full speed through the streets of Kendal, calling his men to follow him; and, with his whole party, made a safe retreat to his asylum in the lake. The action marked the man. Many knew him : and they who did not, knew as well from the exploit that it could be nobody but Robin the Devil.”
AND TO THE Committee of SUBSCRIBERS FOR RELIEF Of the portugUESE SUFFERERS, IN WHICH HE PRESIDES,
THIS POEM, THE VISION OF DON RODERICK,)
COMPOSED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE FUND UNDER THEIR MANAGEMENT, IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED BY WALTER SCOTT.
The following Poem is founded upon a Spanish Tradition, particularly detailed in the Notes; but bearing, in general, that Don Roderick, the last Gothic King of Spain, when the Invasion of the Moors was impending, had the temerity to descend into an ancient vault, near Toledo, the opening of which had been denounced as fatal to the Spanish Monarchy. The legend adds, that his rash curiosity was mortified by an emblematical representation of those Saracens who, in the year 714, defeated him in battle, and reduced Spain under their dominion. I have presumed to prolong the Vision of the Revolutions of Spain down to the present eventful crisis of the Peninsula; and to divide it, by a supposed change of scene, into THREE PERIODS. The FIRST of these represents the Invasion of the Moors, the Defeat and Death of Roderick, and closes with the peaceful occupation of the country by the Victors. The SECOND PERIOD embraces the state of the Peninsula, when the conquests of the Spaniards and Portuguese in the East and West Indies had raised to the highest pitch the renown of their arms, sullied, however, by superstition and cruelty. An allusion to the inhumanities of the Inquisition terminates this picture. The LAST PART of the Poem opens with the state of Spain previous to the unpa
1 [The Vision of Don Roderick appeared in 410, in June, 1814; and in the course of the same year was also inserted in the 2d volume of the Edinburgh Annual Register-which work was the property of Sir Walter Scott's then publishers, Messrs. John Ballantyne and Co.
ralleled treachery of BONAPARTE; gives a sketch of the usurpation attempted upon that unsuspicious and friendly kingdom, and terminates with the arrival of the British succours. It may be farther proper to mention, that the object of the Poem is less to commemorate or detail particular incidents, than to exhibit a general and impressive picture of the several periods brought upon the stage.
I am too sensible of the respect due to the Public, especially by one who has already experienced more than ordinary indulgence, to offer any apology for the inferiority of the poetry to the subject it is chiefly designed to commemorate. Yet I think it proper to mention, that while I was hastily executing a work, written for a temporary purpose, and on passing events, the task was most cruelly interrupted by the successive deaths of LORD PRESIDENT BLAIR, and LORD VISCOUNT MELIn those distinguished characters, I had not only to regret persons whose lives were most important to Scotland, but also whose notice and patronage honoured » my entrance upon active life; and, I may add, with melancholy pride, who permitted my more advanced age to claim no common share in their friendship. Under such interruptions, the following verses, which my best and happiest efforts must have left far unworthy of their theme, have, I am myself sensible, an appearance of negligence and incoherence, which, in other circumstances, I might have been able to remove.
EDINBURGH, June 24, 1811.
Lives there a strain, whose sounds of mounting fire
Or died it with yon Master of the Lyre,
Who sung beleaguer'd Ilion's evil star ?'
Yes! such a strain, with all o'er-pouring measure,
[The Right Hon. Robert Blair of Avontoun, President of the Court of Session, was the son of the Rev. Robert Blair, author of "The Grave." After long filling the office of Solicitor-General in Scotland with high distinction, he was elevated to the Presidency in 1808. He died very suddenly on the 20th May, 1811, in the 70th year of his age; and his intimate friend, Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville, having gone into Edinburgh on purpose to attend his remains to the grave, was taken ill not less snddenly, and died there the very hour that the funeral took place, on the 28th of the same month.]
[MS." Who sung the changes of the Phrygian jar."]
[MS." Claiming thine ear 'twixt each loud trumpet-change."]
4 ["The too monotonous close of the stanza is sometimes diversified by the adoption of the fourteen-foot verse,-a license in poetry, which, since Dryden, has (we believe) been altogether abandoned, but which is nevertheless very deserving of revival, so long as it is only rarely and judiciously used. The very first stanza in this poem affords an instance of it-and, introduced thus in the very front of the battle, we cannot help considering it as a fault, especially clogged as it is with the association of a defective rhyme-change-revenge."-Critical Review, Aug. 1811.]
Each voice of fear or triumph, wo or pleasure,
That rings Mondego's ravaged shores around;
But we, weak minstrels of a laggard day,
Timid and raptureless, can we repay1
The debt thou claim'st in this exhausted age?
A theme; a theme for Milton's mighty hand ’—
Ye mountains stern! within whose rugged breast
Say, have ye lost each wild majestic close,
What time their hymn of victory arose,
And Cattraeth's glens with voice of triumph rung,
[MS.-"Unform'd for rapture, how shall we repay."]
Lyres that could richly yield thee back its due;
A theme, more grand than Maro ever knew
How much unmeet for us, degenerate, frail, and few !"]
3 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 Ettrick 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," etc.
But it is not so generally known that the champions, mourned in this beautiful dirge, were the British inhabitants of Edinburgh, who were cut off by the Saxons of Deiria, or Northumberland, about the latter part of the sixth century.-TURNER'S History of the AngloSaxons, edition 1799, vol. i. p. 222.-Llywarch, the celebrated 'bard and monarch, was Prince of Argood, in Cumberland; and his youthful exploits were performed upon the Border, although in his age he was driven into Powys by the successes of the Anglo-Saxons. As for Merlin Wy!lt, or the Savage, his name of Caledonia, and his retreat into the Caledo
O! if your wilds such minstrelsy retain,
As sure your changeful gales seem oft to say,
Then lend the note to him has loved you long!
That floats your solitary wastes along,
And with affection vain gave them new voice in song.
For not till now,
In phrase poetic, inspiration fair;
They came unsought for, if applauses came;
Hark, from yon misty cairn their answer tost; '
Seek not from us the meed to warrior due:
nian wood, appropriate him to Scotland. Fordun dedicates the thirty-first chapter of the third book of his Scoto-Chronicon, to a narration of the death of this celebrated bard and prophet Яear Drumelzier, a village upon Tweed, which is supposed to have derived its name (quasi Tumulus Merlini) from the event. The particular spot in which he is buried is still shown, and appears, from the following quotation, to have partaken of his prophetic qualities:-"There is one thing remarkable here, which is, that the burn called Pausayl runs by the east side of the churchyard into the Tweed; at the side of which burn, a little below the churchyard, the famous prophet Merlin is said to be buried. The particular place of his grave, at the root of a thorn-tree, was shown me, many years ago, by the old and reverend minister of the place, Mr. Richard Brown; and here was the old prophecy fulfilled, delivered in Scots rhyme, to this purpose :
"For, the same day that our King James the Sixth was crowned King of England, the river Tweed, by an extraordinary flood, so far overflowed its banks, that it met and joined with the Pausayl at the said grave, which was never before observed to fall out."-PENNYCUICK'S Description of Tweeddale. Edin. 4745, iv. p. 26.
[ MS. - Hark, from grey Needpath's mists, the Brothers' cairn. Į
Since our grey cliffs the din of conflict knew,
"Decay'd our old traditionary lore,
Save where the lingering fays renew their ring,
Or round the marge of Minchmore's haunted spring;
That now scarce win a listening ear but thine,
And rugged deeds recount in rugged line,
"No! search romantic lands, where the near Sun
In verse spontaneous chants some favour'd name,
Her eye of diamond, and her locks of jet;
"Explore those regions, where the flinty crest
Or where the banners of more ruthless foes
Than the fierce Moor, float o'er Toledo's fane,
The blended ranks of England, Portugal, and Spain.
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 Cheesewell, 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.
2 The flexibility of the Italian and Spanish languages, and perhaps the liveliness of their genius, renders these countries distinguished for the talent of improvisation, which is found even among the lowest of the people. It is mentioned by Baretti and other travellers.
3 Over a name sacred for ages to heroic verse, a poet may be allowed to exercise some power. I have used the freedom, here and elsewhere, to alter the orthography of the name of my gallant countryman, in order to apprize the Southern reader of its legitimate sound; -Grahame being, on the other side of the Tweed, usually pronounced as a dissyllable.