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« There stood
· Pale, and in tears, with ashes on his head.” The reader anticipates that it is Pelayo himself, who is holding his annual vigils over his mother's tomb, and imploring "pardon for her guilty soul. He recognizes Siverian, and an explanation takes place between all the parties. In answer to the messages delivered him, he states two reasons that prevent his immediate fight-his honor pledged to the Moors to return that evening to Cordoba, and his resolution not to leave behind him his fellow-hostage, the young and interesting Alphonso, son of Count Pedro.
In the ninth canto we find him returned to the town. He meets a woman at the gate awaiting his return, who conjures him by the souls of his mother and of Roderick not to deny her request. He demanded her name,
“ She bared her face, and looking up replied,
Florinda !” The passage descriptive of Pelayo's pity and astonishment is replete with beauty and tenderness; we cannot insert the whole extract, but the simile with which the passage concludes, is at once so novel and exquisite that it would be unpardonable to withhold it.
“ The voice of pity sooth'd and melted her;
a feeble smile
Like moonlight on a marble statue.” She informs him that she is solicited in marriage by Orpas the brother of Witiza, formerly Archbishop of Seville, but now a renegade, and entreats an asylum. When Julian invited the Moors into Spain, he promised Florinda's hand to Orpas as the price of his treasonable union; and the fulfilment of this promise was now demanded. Pelayo grants her request, and accompanied by her and Alphonso departs secretly from Core doba to join Roderick and Siverian, who await their coming (among the hills.) After a very picturesque and faithful description of a summer night in Spain, they are represented as all meeting round a fire in the woods, where all except Rode rick and Florinda yield to the effects of fatigue, and sink to repose. Finding herself in the company of a priest, Florinda rejaices at the happy opportunity of easing her over-burthened conscience in confession. Here follows a scene in which Mr.
Southey's powers are called fully into action, and in which, we think, he has been beyond all example successful. Never was love with all its fervor and tenderness painted with more fidelity or more masterly delineation. The eleventh book describes the travellers on their
way to the castle of Don Pedro. The filial impatience of Alphonso is painted in lines of great tenderness. The desolation of the surrounding country, at first, alarms them; but on a nearer approach Don Pedro's banner is seen waving from the turrets, for already had Adosinda infused her martial ardor into his dispirited vassals. They reach the castle, and Alphonso springs to the embrace of his parents.
This restoration of the son puts an end to the feuds that had divided these two houses, and Pelayo promises to bestow his daughter Hermisind on the youthful hero.
The twelfth canto invests the youth with the honors of knighthood. Roderick steps forward and tenders him the oath which is to bind him to the noble cause he has pledged himself to maintain, and addresses him in a strain of warm and dignified exhortation. The ceremony is scarcely completed, when a voice exclaims, “ the Moors !”. At that moment they were seen approaching, having learnt the escape of Pelayo and Alphonso. A desperate conflict ensues, in which the young hero performs prodigies of valour, and redeems the solemn pledge he had just given.
The thirteenth canto brings the troops, at midnight, to the castle of Pelayo. Here, to their amazement, they find all lonely and deserted; but they are quickly relieved from their apprehensions by the approach of their friends. Among them Pelayo beholds the traitress Guisla, but looks in vain for his wife.
“ But who is she that at her side,
Is stiff with blood." · The reader easily recognises the heroic Adosinda, who comes to witness the noble effects which her example has produced upon the minds of her countrymen. Here, too, Roderick beholds his mother, who brings Pelayo the cheering assurance
that his wife and children are in safety, in the mountain fastnesses of Covadonga. Roderick is impatient for an interview with his mother, but is unable to summon up resolution sufficient for the effort. In this state of uncertainty he is found by Siverian, who informs him that Rusilla requires his presence ; the invitation comes
“ like a knell, To one expecting and prepared for death,
But feeling the dread point that hastens on.” Rusilla appears not to recognise him at this interview. She had sent for him to entreat his prayers for the soul of Roderick, to thank him for the warmth he had shown at the inn against those who cursed her son, and for the humanity he had displayed towards the suffering Florinda. She too was present, and hears, with a grief still keener than that which wastes away her mortal frame, the apostasy of her father. But another cause excited Roderick's emotions :
“The dog who lay
To court and chide the long-withheld caress.” Roderick, fearful lest the dog should betray him, breaks off the interview as hastily as possible, and retires from the presence of his mother and Florinda
* Into the thickest grove; there yielding way To his o’erburthen'd nature, from all eyes Apart, he cast himself upon the ground, And threw his arms around the dog, and cried, While tears stream'd down; • Thou, Theron, thou hast known Thy poor lost master_Theron, none but thou !! » We were pleased to find Mr. Southey make so happy a use of this incident, for we cannot but confess the task appeared to us a dangerous one after the Argus of Homer, and especially in the hands of one of the “ Lake” school. Happily Mr. S. has not been deaf to the suggestions of criticism, but has risen superior to the prejudices of his sect, by avoiding former defects.
Nothing can be more delightful than the transition from these scenes of high and agitated feeling, to the repose and serenity that mark Pelayo's visit to the wild retreat of Gaudiosa and her children among the mountains of Covadonga. The scenery of this spot is depicted with all that vividness of coloring, and that realizing faithfulness which have before claimed our admiration.
In the eighteenth canto we find them returned in joy and confidence to Cangas, where a festival seems in preparation-it is for the coronation of Pelayo. This is the important moment that is to witness the consummation of Roderick's heroic sacria fice of his right to the sovereignty. The ceremony is performed by the primate Urban, who pronounces a blessing over the Prince, remarkable for its force and sublimity. At the cons clusion of this ceremony, Roderick approaches with the shield on which Pelayo is to be elevated. This is the moment to paint the hero, when, with a mind prepared for this act of noble renunciation, he stands proud in his heroic humiliation, and confirms the deed by which he abdicates the crown in the full vigour of his age, and at the moment when ambition has generally the strongest hold upon the heart. We cannot resist making an extract from this part of the poem:
« Roderick, in front of all the assembled troops,
Tall as himself,
Knows and rewards the secret sacrifice.” From this scene of joy and acclamation we pass to one of a softer and more affecting nature. Confident that the sacrifice he has made will ensure his mother's forgiveness, Roderick hastens from the court of the castle to Rusilla's chamber. The mother's eye had recognized her son the moment of the dog's fawnNO. IV. Aug. Rev. VOL. I.
ing around him, but she had restrained her feelings in order to observe his conduct. It had now reached a perfection beyond her exalted notions of duty, and she exclaims :
“ Yea, Roderick, even on earth
And this will yet be thine!”
Here the scene changes to the Moorish camp. All is warlike preparation. The enemy's numbers are constantly augmented by fresh hordes of Barbarians that pour in, burning for the final subjugation of Spain. The renegades pass in review before us, Ebba and Sisebert, Orpas and Count Julian himself. The latter is represented as possessed of no inconsiderable dignity of character, but struggling against the better feelings of his nature, and the convictions of the falsehood of the creed, to which motives of ambition alone attach him. He obtains from the Moorish chief an absolution from the promise of Florinda's hand to Orpas, and the assurance of a free exercise of her faith.
The twenty-first Canto exhibits the apostate Count performing his ablutions in a fountain near his tent. As he rises he finds his daughter standing before him, and by her side,
“A meagre man
Offers his homage to the eye of heaven !” . It was Roderick, who had accompanied Florinda, doubtless with the hope of still farther atoning for his crime by attempting the conversion of the man he had so deeply injured. Thus are brought together the three persons who are the cause of each other's ruin, and a discussion takes place, in which their various characters are admirably pourtrayed. This conference is interrupted by a messenger, who summons Julian to a council
When his advice is asked respecting the conduct of the war, the opinion he gives in favor of delay is construed by the Moorish chief, Abulcacem, into a proof of treachery. Orpas had previously poisoned his mind against Julian, and he seizes this opportunity of advising the assassination of the count in battle. This base device of cowardice and murder gives a finishing stroke to the picture of the renegade, nor does the Moor hesitate to adopt it.
The twenty-third Canto brings us again to the vale of Cova.