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could venture to put into stanza;-and therefore the poetical account, while it is in danger of disgusting the judicious, by the misapplication of the common hyperboles of poetry, is almost sure to disappoint every one by its inadequacy and incomplete


In this predicament, we think, the work before us is obviously placed. It 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 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 present 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.

But we are taking it for granted, we find, that our readers are already acquainted with the work to which we profess to introduce them;-and undoubtedly the presumption is, that Mr. Scott's light-winged quartos will be in the hands of one half of them, before our heavy octavos have taken their flight to overtake them. At the same time, we owe some account of them to the other less fortunate half ;-and, at all events, have a few remarks to offer, which we could not otherwise render very intelligible. As the poem, however, is of very moderate length, our abstract of it shall be brief in proportion.

The work is written, throughout, in the regular stanza of Spenser; and consists of a long introduction,-the Vision itself,-and a long conclusion; the whole amounting to about one hundred stanzas. The introduction begins with lamenting, that, since the death of Homer, there has been nobody worthy to sing of the exploits of Lord Wellington and the English armies in Spain; and

then the poet proceeds to demand of the Highland Mountains, whether they have not retained a portion of the poetical fire of their ancient bards and minstrels, which they might lend him for the occasion. The Mountains reply, very honestly, that it is so long ago since they have seen any of the said fire, that they scarcely think there is a spark of it left; but advise him to turn to warmer regions of the south, where they understand that the poetical spirit is still in considerable preservation, and where ancient and recent events will furnish him with abundance of taking topics. He hears, and obeys,-and proceeds forthwith to the Vision.

Don Roderick, the last of the Gothic kings of Spain, is reported, in certain ancient legends, to have descended into an enchanted vault near Toledo, the opening of which had been denounced as fatal to the Spanish Monarchy; and here, it is said, he saw a vision emblematical of his own destruction, and of the impending conquest of his kingdom by the Moors. This legend is the basis of the poem now before us; in which the monarch's prophetic vision is prolonged down to the debarkation of the English forces in Mondego bay, in the year 1808. It begins with a fine description of Don Roderick's midnight confession in the cathedral of Toledo, with his impatient guards waiting on the moonlight shores of the river, and the aged archbishop shuddering with horror at the dreadful disclosures of his impenitent sovereign. Desparing at last of absolution, Don Roderick suddenly insists upon being conducted to the magic vault, where he may at once read the worst of his destiny; and compels the trembling prelate to lead him to the place. With some difficulty he opens the massive doors; and finds himself in a huge arched room of black marble, where he sees two gigantic statues of bronze; one holding an hour-glass, and the other a ponderous mace,-with scrolls over their heads, announcing them to be respectively Time and Destiny. While the fated intruders are gazing on these strange objects, the last sands ebb out in the hour glass; and the armed figure rearing his mace, strikes a large hole in the end wall of the apartment, through which the astonished monarch sees the fates of his remotest descendants. This magnificent pantomine Mr. Scott has distributed into three acts ;-the first representing the Moorish conquest and dominion ;-the second, the splendid period of the Spanish history, when their valour subdued America and the East, and their superstitions stained the glory of their arms with persecution and bloodshed;-and the third, the exhausted and inglorious, but tranquil state, in which they were left by the decay of their chivalrous and superstitious ardors,-with the rousing produced by the usurpation of Bonaparte, and the heroic example of their English auxiliaries. The last trait, of course, se

duces the author into greater minuteness of detail, than he had ventured upon in his sketch of the earlier periods; and accordingly, after giving a full account of the debarkation in Mondego bay, and a description of the constituent parts of the British army, he suddenly checks himself, and recollects that fiction should not be allowed to mix with the records of recent heroism; and, abruptly dismissing Don Roderick, with the vault, and its statues and visions, closes the poem with a few patriotic lines in his own character, and with announcing his intention to be still more patriotic in the Conclusion.

This Conclusion is rightly so called-inasmuch as it concludes the poetical part of the volume before us; but it really might have performed this office, with equal propriety, to any other poetical work whatsoever. It has not, from beginning to end, the least connection with, or allusion to, Don Roderick and his adventures; but consists of a splendid versification of Lord Wellington's official despatches, from the time of his retreat to Torres Vedras, down to the very latest accounts that had been received from him before the printing of the present work was completed. It begins with Bonaparte's orders to Massena to drive the English army into the sea,-proceeds by the battle of Busaco to the lines before Lisbon, describes the devastation which accompanied the subsequent retreat of the French, and the battles of Fuentes d'Honoro, of Borosa and Albuera,—and ends with a magnificent encomium on Generals Beresford and grahame.

Such is the argument, or naked outline of the poem before us. It has scarcely any story, the reader will perceive, and 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 overpowering 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 poetry,-his tone is less natural and varied, and he moves, upon the whole, with a slower and more laborious pace. We cannot afford a whole dissertation, however, upon the peculiarities of this new style; and shall intersperse the few other remarks we have to offer, with the specimens which we are about to exhibit.


The Introduction, though splendidly written, is too long for se short a poem ; and the poet's dialogue with his native mountains, is somewhat too startling and unnatural. The most spirited part of it, we think, is their direction to Spanish themes.


"No! search romantic lands, where the near Sun
Gives with unstinted boon ethereal flame,
Where the rude villager, his labour done,

In verse spontaneous chaunts some favour'd name;
Whether Olalia's charms his tribute claim,

Her eye of diamond, and her locks of jet ;
Or whether, kindling at the deeds of Græme,
He sing, to wild Morisco measure set,
Old Albin's red claymore, green Erin's bayonet!
"Explore those regions, where the flinty crest
Of wild Nevada ever gleams with snows,
Where in the proud Alhambra's ruined breast
Barbaric monuments of pomp repose;
Or where the banners of more ruthless foes

Than the fierce Moor, float o'er Toledo's fane,
From whose tall towers even now the patriot throws
An anxious glance, to spy upon the plain
The blended ranks of England, Portugal, and Spain.
"There, of Numantian fire, a swarthy spark

Still lightens in the sun-burnt native's eye;
The stately port, slow step, and visage dark,

Still mark enduring pride and constancy.
And, if the glow of feudal chivalry

Beam not, as once, thy nobles' dearest pride,*
Iberia! oft thy crestless peasantry

Have seen the plumed Hidalgo quit their side,
Have seen, yet dauntless stood-'gainst fortune fought and died."
p. 8-10.

After this, our great objection to the Vision is, that it carries us too far away from the themes which are here announced,-or brings us too soon back to them. For a mere introduction to the exploits of our English commanders, the story of Don Roderick's sins and confessions, the minute description of his army and attendants, and the whole interest and machinery of the enchanted vault, with the greater part of the Vision itself, are far too

It is amusing to see how things come round. When we published our review of Don Pedro Cevallos, we were overwhelmed with reproaches for having vilipended the privileged orders of Spain, and said that it was only through the spirit of her commonalty that she could be saved;-and now her nobles are given up by the stoutest champion of nobility in Great Britain! If we will only wait patiently a little longer, we shall all be agreed-where agreement is worth wishing for.

long and elaborate. They withdraw our curiosity and attention from the subjects for which they had been bespoken, and gradually engage them upon a new and independent series of romantic adventures, in which it is not easy to see how Lord Wellington and Bonaparte can have any concern. But, on the other hand, no sooner is this new interest excited,-no sooner have we surrendered our imaginations into the hands of this dark enchanter, and heated our fancies to the proper pitch for sympathising in the fortunes of Gothic kings and Moorish invaders, with their imposing accompaniments of harnessed knights, ravished damsels, and enchanted statues, than the whole romantic group vanishes at once from our sight; and we are hurried, with minds yet disturbed with these powerful apparitions, to the comparatively sober and cold narration of Bonaparte's villanies, and to drawn battles between mere mortal combatants in English and French uniforms. The vast and elaborate vestibule, in short, în which we had been so long detained,

"Where wonders wild of Arabesque combine
With Gothic imagery of darker shade."

has no corresponding palace attached to it; and the long noviciate we are made to serve to the mysterious powers of romance, is not repaid, after all, by an introduction to their awful presence. The poem comes, in this way, to be substantially divided into two compartments;-the one representing the fabulous or prodigious acts of Don Roderick's own time,-and the other, the recent occurrences, which have since signalized the same quarter of the world. Mr. Scott, we think, is most at home in the first of these fields; and we think, upon the whole, has most success in it. The opening of the poem affords a fine specimen of his unriz valled powers of description.

"Rearing their crests amid the cloudless skies,

And darkly clustering in the pale moonlight,
Toledo's holy towers and spires arise,

As from a trembling lake of silver white;
Their mingled shadows intercept the sight

Of the broad burial-ground outstretched below,
And nought disturbs the silence of the night;

All sleeps in sullen shade, or silver glow,
All save the heavy swell of Teio's ceaseless flow.
All save the rushing swell of Teio's tide,

Or, distant heard, a courser's neigh or tramp;
Their changing rounds as watchful horsemen ride,
To guard the limits of King Roderick's camp.
For, through the river's night-fog rolling damp,
Was many a proud pavilion dimly seen,
You. .vin


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