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War a new and dreadful language spoke,
The poet then describes the succeeding era of Spavisis history, by strangely introducing into his vision of real scenes and events, two allegorical personages, of considerable merit in their way, but perfectly out of place here.
• This clad in sackcloth, that in armour brigh,
In look and language proud as proud might be,
Yet was that bare-foot Monk more proud than he;
So round the loftiest soul his toils he wound,
Till ermined Age, and Youth in arms renowned, Honouring his scourge and hair-cloth, meekly kissed the ground. After some happy allusions to the principal features of the age, its foreign discoveries and domestic persecutions, our inagician shifts the scene, displays the peaceful amusements of the peasantry, and again brings in his apparition Valour, lying at a lady's feet, and his apparitiou Bigotry with a book in which he pattered a task of little good or ill.' He then notices the introduction of the French troops into this quiet scene, which he finely compares to the cloud seen by Elijah.
• As that sea-cloud, in size like human hand
When first from Carmel by the Tishbite seen,
Awhile, perchance, bedecked with colours sheen,
Limning with purple and with gold its shroud,
And blotted heaven with one broad sable cloud-
Even so upon that peaceful scene was poured,
Like gathering clouds, full many a foreigri band,
And offered peaceful front and open hand ; - -
By friendship’s zeal and honour's specious guise,
Then, burst were honour's oath, and friendship’s ties! .
pp. 37, 38,
The most popular part of the poem is now to come, in which all the bad qualities of the French ruler are depicted in the blackest hues. The following stanza is likely to be the favourite, and has ceriainly a degree of merit, though we are not sure that it is strictly just.
• From a rude isle his ruder lineage came :
The spark, that, from a suburb hovel's hearth
Hath not a meaner or more sordid birth.
The sable land-flood from some swamp obscure,
And by destruction bids its fame endure,
Hath not a source more sullen, stagnant, and impure.' p. 36. It may be doubted whether Bonaparte's origin was so remarkably mean; or, if it was, whether his character is much more detestable, on that account, than if like Nero, Domitian, or Roderick, he had been the descendant of a dozen or more of kings. Nor is that soul of tremendous and infernal energy, particularly analogous to a swamp. Neither is it perfectly certain, that his conquests may not prove like a more genial and benignant inundation, which after tearing down inveterate obstacles to improvement, and sweeping away the accumulated nuisances and corruptions of ages, may indeed cover the land for a while with unsightly wrecks and a piteous desolation, but eventually subside, and give birth to an unexampled prosperity.
Mr. Scott now calls in another spectre, and again confounds a vision of allegory, with a vision of fact,
• Before that Leader strode a shadowy form:
Her limbs like mist, her torch like meteor shew'd,
And all he crushed that crossed his desperate road,
Realms could not glut his pride, blood could not slake,
It was AMBITION bade his terrors wake,
Nor deigned she, as of yore, a milder form to take.' pp. 39, 40. The following stanza contains some trite invective, in a new and forcible form.
• The ruthless Leader beckoned from his train
A wan fraternal Shade, and bade him kneel,
While trumpets rang, and heralds cried, “ Castile !!!
Scarce in his own, e’er joyed that sullen heart';
That the poor puppet might perform his part,
At last, Valour is roused and bursts his bands like the awakening Nazarite,' The general insurrection is then de. tailed, and the ever.memorable defence of Zaragoza duly extolled. The bombardment of Gerona is painted with Mr. Scott's usual force.
- O'er their heads the air
Anil reddening now with conflagration's glare,
While by the fatal light the foes for storm prepare.' p. 48. At length lon Roderick, who has been very attentive to Mr. Scott's vision all this while, though Mr. Scott has seldom been very attentive to him, hears the Evglish huzza, which, with a politic eye to the gallery critics, the poet has thus celebrated.
• Afar was heard that thrice-repeated cry,
In which old Albion's heart and tongue unite,
. Whether it hail the wine-cup or the fight,
And bid each arm be strong, or bid each heart be light.' p. 49, The landing of the troops, and the various kinds of force are described with great animation.
A various host they came-whose ranks display
Each mode in which the warrior meets the fight,
And meditates his in the marksman light;
Where mounted squadrons shake the echoing mead, -
Nor the fleet ordnance whirld by rapid steed,
That rivals lightning's flash in ruin and in speeď .p. 51. A con plimentary stanza is appropriated to each of the three British nations; and then the several battles in which they have distinguished themselves should be duly set forth, but the bard seems at last to have some scruples about the propriety of mixing truth with fiction, and most abruptly dissipates the whole vision, king, prelate, and all, to make room for his Conclusion, or what he calls,
•One note of pride and fire, a patriot's parting strain.'. This paruing strain, we are sorry to say, is so full “ of tumult and of flame,' so big and burly, that we should hardly succeed in selecting any passage as worthy of admiration. Perhaps the only exception is the following sentence, which will obtain but little credit with those, who know the cha. racter of the lowest of the soldiery, even in an army of Englishmen.
. The rudest centinel, in Britain born,
With horror paused to view the havoc done,
Wiped his stern eye, then fiercer grasped his gun.' p. 61. The greater part of this Conclusion, however, is much in the manner of those insufferable commendations which bring up the rear of an official despatch, enriched also with much of that blustering defiance and declamatory panegyric which we find in the next column of a ministerial print. The reader may perhaps wish to see a short specimen of what, when seen, he may think proper to denominate fustian.
• Yet fain my harp would wake its boldest tone,
O'er the wide sea to hai! CADOGAN brave ;
Mindful of meeting brief that Fortune gave
To give each Chief and every field its fame :
And red Barosa shouts for dauntless Græme!'.
Shiver'd my barp, and burst its every chord,
If I forget thy worth, victorious BERESPORD!' p. 66. In all this, however, we find not a word of praise to the merit, or pity for the fate of him, whose life was poured forth by the improvident eagerness of his country, in defending a bigotted, inhospitable, ungrateful people, because they were too stupid to defend themselves. Ainidst all this clamorous applause, the poet has not a single farewell or benediction to leave upon the grare of his good, his gallant countryman), Sir John Moore! Is it possible, then, that Mr. Walter Scott should entertain a sentiment still stronger than that of national pride?-and is it possible, too, that this stronger sentiment should be that of , party-spirit?
In every other instance, we think, the land of his birth is sufficiently evident. We hardly know what the Irish scholar will say to the sly insinuation of superior antiquity on the part of the Scottish nation, which he may be inclined to suspect in the following verse,
Old Albin's red claymore, green Erin's bayonet,' p. 9; or what the Irish soldier will say to the still less equivocal and very extraordinary assertion, in another part of the poem,
But ne'er in battle-field throbb'd heart so brave,
Having freely animadverted on the leading features of this poem, in the course of the preceding analysis, we shall only, add a few general observations. It will occur to every reader, that the plan is extremely objectionable, The tradition itself might have formed the basis of a very interesting and beautiful poem; and as far as Mr. Scott bas adhered to his subject with any tolerable degree of fidelity, he has clearly proved his competence to the task. But as he was determined upon warping this theme to a purpose of popular and transient interest, he has produced a work more defective and unsatisfactory than any entire poem that ever came froin the hand of genius. The beginning of it, however striking and poetical, is only made use of as an introduction to the middle; and it absolutely closes, without coming to any end. For a time, we really feel for Don Roderick; and can almost forgive and admire the unaccountable plantasmagoria which reveal his fate. But when the poet entirely turns away from him, and gives us a metrical history of transactions which were only recorded the other day in the newspapers, the outrage upon common sense and propriety becomes perfectly intolerable : and when at last he shoves Don Roderick abruptly out of doors, and confesses that he has only been playing a trick' upon us which he is ashamed of himself, we cannot help de. manding, with some little spleen, why he did not think of this before he began. In fact we know of nothing so grossly unnatural and impossible as this vision, according to Mr. Scott's manner of conducting it, except that monster of absurdity, the Columbiad of Joel Barlow. * All the prodigies of Kehama are absolutely credible, in comparison with this palpable fiction of Mr. Scott's. Our attention to them, is never suffered to relax; we constantly sympathize with the prominent characters of the tale; no plain, tangible. facts are introduced, to form a contrast to the imaginary scenes througlı which we are conducted, and awake us from the transporting dream; the poet himself is absorbed in it, and never mocks us for being the dupes of his art, by reminding us that he is a Briton, and an admirer of Lord Wellington. Mr. Scott makes one or two attempts, we own, to recall our attention to the king and the archbishop; but they are become quite strangers, when we have heard the British huzza ; and we begin to wonder at their presence. Instead of Roderick being genuine flesh