網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

donga. Half the Moorish army halts at the entrance of the valley, and Count Julian's forces are ranged in the front, that his exposed situation may favor the plan laid against his life. The remainder, under the command of Alcahman, enter the hårrow defile veiled in a fog, which conceals the danger to which they are exposed, for Pelayo had stationed a considerable force on the heights, where they stood with the trunks of trees and loosened rocks, awaiting the preconcerted signal to precipitate them upon the devoted host. Adosinda is here introduced, and the magnanimous part she sustains is powerfully described; but we must refer to the poem itself for all but the conclusion of

che passage.

“ The Moor turn'd pale,
For on the walls of Auria he had seen
That well-known figure, and had well believed
She rested with the dead. What, hoa ! she cried,
Alcahman! In the name of all who fell
At Auria in the massacre, this hour
I summon thee before the throne of God,
To answer for the innocent blood ! this hour,
Moor, miscreant, murderer, child of hell, this hour
I summon thee to judgment ! IN THE NAME

OF GOD! FOR SPAIN AND VENGEANCE !" These last words contain the appointed signal – it is repeated from rock to rock, the implements of ruin are let loose, and a scene follows which is described with an energy of language that is quite overwhelming.

Meanwhile the impetuosity of the youthful Alphonso had drawn on an attack in the other quarter, and Julian, stationed in the ran, receives the fatal blow. Before he is borne off the field, the troops, at the instigation of their dying leader, join the Spaniards, and turn their arms against the perfidious Moors. At his request he is then carried to the church, whither his daughter, attended by the priest, hastens to find him:

“ Eagerly she came, A deep and fearful lustre in her eye, A look of settled woe-pale, deadly pale, Yet to no lamentations giving way, Nor tears, nor groans-within her breaking heart · She bore the grief.” The last moments of Julian are full of repentance. The priest receives his confession, administers the sacrament to both the father, the daughter, and himself, and then throws himself on the earth before the dying count and the astonished Florinda, implores forgiveness, and discovers himself to be · Don Roa

the tomb :

dissay around him.

derick Julian pronounces his pardon, tells him his unfaithful wife is no more, and gives him the hand of Florinda. But heaven has ordained it otherwise, and she follows her father'to

« On the Goth she gazed,
While onderneath the emotions of that hour
Exhausted life gave way. O God, she said,
Lifting her hands—thou hast restored me all-
All-in one hour-and round his neck she threw
Her arms, and cried, My Roderick, mine in Heaven.'
Groaning he claspt her close, and in that act

And agony ber happy spirit fled.” We now reach the last Canto. It describes the final and decisive battle

that established Pelayo on the throne. On quitging the church, Roderick hastens to the field

of action,

where be beholds Orpas, who had come to solicit a parley, mounted on his favorite steed Orelio. Fired with indignation, he disRounts the renegade, and tramples him to death under the hoofs of the charger. He demands a sword — Count Julian's is brought to him, and he rushes to the fight, scattering havoc and

This piece is marked with some touches that are truly sublime- the following lines, for instance. Roderick is still habited as a priest ; and

“ His loose robe this day
Is death's black banner, shaking from its folds
Dismay and ruin. Of no mortal mould
• Seems he who in that garb of peace confronts

Whole hosts, and sees them scatter where he turns !” Roderick has cut his way through the enemy, and approaching the spot where Pelayo and Siverian are stationed, they reCognise him on his courser as their long-lost friend and sovereign. He tells them of the death of Julian and his daughter, exchanges his priestly robes for the armour of the old man, sends an affec.. tionate message to his mother, and replunges into the hottest of the battle, setting up the ancient war-cry, • Roderick the Goth! Roderick and victory! The Spaniards recognise their monarch, and are roused e'en to maddening valor by that spiritstirring word. Roderick meets Sisibert, and dispatches him at a single blow; he then makes his way through the thickest ranks, in search of Ebba, who also falls beneath his avenging and resistless sword. The Moors are completely routed, and right alone terminates the conflict. The recal is then sounded, and the victors rally round their triumphant banners. But where is the kingly champion, who led the path to glory? The poet must answer :

« Days, months, and years, and generations past,
And centuries held their course, before, far off,
Within a hermitage near Viscus' walls,
A humble tomb was found, which bore inscribed

In ancient characters, King Roderick's name.” After the enthusiasm which is thus kindled in the reader's mind, it would be cold to stop and offer any remarks on the character of the hero, and the conduct of the poem ; we confidently refer our readers to the volumes themselves.

We had marked some passages as prosaic, others as quaint and affected, in particular the tedious detail of Roderick's digging his own grave in the second Canto; but these are trifling defects, and they sink before the frequent and original beauties that abound throughout the poem. In proof of our assertion we need but refer the reader to the vivid and powerful description of the scenery around Cordoba in the fifth Canto, and of the vale of Covadonga in the sixteenth. We are conscious that we have far exceeded our usual limits, but there is one passage among many, with which we cannot refrain from treating the reader before parting. It is that in which Florinda avails herself of the scene before her, to enforce the truths which Roderick is endea vouring to impress on the mind of her infidel father :

“ Methinks if ye would know
How visitations of calamity
Affect the pious soul, 'tis shown you there!
Look yonder at that cloud which, through the sky
Sailing above, doth cross in her career
The rolling moon! I watch'd it as it came,
And deem'd the deep opaque would blot her beams :
But, melting like a wreath of snow, it hangs
In folds of wavy silver round, and clothes
The orb with richer beauties than her own,
Then passing, leaves her in her light serene."

ART. XII. Essays on the Sources of the Pleasures received from

Literary Compositions. Second Edition. London, Longman.

8vo. pp. 390. 10s. 6d, THESE Essays are nine in number, and on the following subjects :-On the Improvement of Taste-On the Imagination, and the Association of Ideas On the Sublime-On Terror

On Pity-On Melancholy – On the Tender Affections On Beauty-On the Ludicrous.

In his first essay, the author observes that a prior acquaintance with inferior productions tends to disable us from appreciating the higher. And he shows that not only our mental but our external faculties are capable of a much higher degree of improvement from use and habit, than they generally receive. • The pleasure arising from objects of taste is in a great measure influenced by the association of ideas, which is again affected by casual circumstances; as, by the books that first awoke our imagination, and by our habitual studies and pursuits. In celebrated works, the defects are apt to become agreeable, not only from their connexion with real beauties, but from regard to the genius of the author, and the consciousness of the number and judgment of his admirers. Even our aversion to the character, the opinions, or the country of an author, may cause a disrelish for the beauties of his works.

The perfection of taste demands great sensibility in the moral feelings :

“ Upon the whole, then, our taste will be improved, according as our moral sensibility and intellectual faculties are improved ; according as our knowledge is extensive ; according as we have become acquainted with first-rate compositions; according as we are disposed and accustomed to connect agreeable trains of thought with proper objects; according as we have learned to counteract unfavorable associations: and according as we have been trained to direct our full attention to the more affecting circumstances, and to apprehend them completely and distinctly, even when they are too complicated or too delicate for common observers."

But even taste, however correct, cannot overcome the languor of satiety; and we are instinctively urged to improve and diversify our powers of discrimination, by the study of inferior objects, recommended by the interest of 'vovelty. The passive pleasures of taste, our author remarks, will be most grateful, when they are sought as a recreation from the engrossing anxieties of business, or the severer pursuits of science.

The standard of taste has been much canvassed. This writer founds the principles of criticism on the general sentiments of mankind; i. e. « the cultivated and well-informed." But the principles of criticism

“ Exhibit a standard which may at all times be readily consulted ; and this is more than we can say of nature, or of the general sentiments of any part of mankind. But the establishment of these principles is an arduous work, where many errors mingle themselves with the investigations of the ablest men, and where, as in every other department of philosophy, we must only look for an approxi

p. 12.

mation to what we are never destined in our present state completely to attain.” p. 16.

The imagination often represents objects more vividly in dreams, than sensation can transmit them to our waking faculties; and this results from the comparative fewness of the objects that engage our thoughts while asleep. The imagination has another source of enjoyment, in the power of combining and uniting those qualities, which may never have existed in real objects.

Association is incessantly propagating a train of ideas, from the impulse of the imaginative faculty. Their union gives rise to emotions, which are frequently more animated than those of real life; even when we discredit the existence of the objects that may be suggested by the imagination.

“ The reader, probably, has no belief in ghosts and enchantments : yet he will feel some degree of horror when his imagination is awakened by the tales

Of the death-bed call
To him who robb’d the widow, and devour'd
The orphan's portion; of unquiet souls
Risen from the grave to ease the heavy guilt
Of deeds in life conceal'd; of shapes that walk
At dead of night, and clank their chains, and wave

The torch of Hell around the murd'rer's bed.” p. 22. We pass over many very sensible observations of a similar kind, which will be better understood in the original; and come to the author's precepts for the conduct of Imagination. The reader should be prepared for the intended impression, and the writer should be more solicitous to supply him with appropriate hints, than to enter into minute detail. Judgment in selecting the most efficient of a multitude of ideas is of no less importance than copiousness of invention. The crisis of time and circumstance must be well studied.

“ Every one, who has witnessed the representation of Venice Preserved, may recollect a circumstance, which shows how much may be done by a proper preparation. I allude to the sudden alarm, which seizes the audience in the parting scene between Jaffier and Belvidera, when the bell gives the first toll for the execution of the conspirators. The effect of the bell would have been little or nothing, if it had been heard before this affecting interview begins. It is from the trembling sensibility to which we are previously subdued, that the signal for the execution shakes us to the very heart.” p. 37.

As imagination is more powerful than language or painting,

« 上一頁繼續 »