This hasty production of a Poet, otherwise not celebrated for the patient revision of his labours, is dedicated to the Committee of Subscribers for the relief of the Portuguese sufferers; and the profits of the sale of its copy-right are placed at the disposal of that benevolent society. The benevolent intentions of the author would disarm criticism, were it possible for criticism to impede the present popularity of Mr. Scott's compositions, and were his immediate purpose dependent on the circulation of his poem: but, as we are safe from any apprehensions of obstructing the designs of charity, we shall proceed with our usual freedom to praise and to censure, as we see cause for the discharge of either duty.
The plan of the poem is concisely stated by its author in an advertisement prefixed; and we extract the principal part of that advertisement, omitting some private reasons which Mr. Scott offers for the imperfections of the performance. We are sorry for any cause which diminishes the excellence of his works, in any degree or manner:
"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 unparalleled treachery of Buonaparte; 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."
The note to which Mr. S. alludes, as containing a particular detail of the tradition in question, is for the most part a translation of a very amusing passage in a Spanish history; and though we have no room to transcribe this extract, we recommend it to the attention of all lovers of romance. It precludes, indeed, any great claim to originality in the poem before us, but it establishes still farther that fact, of which Mr. Scott's admirers cannot be too fully aware, that no living writer possesses the art of adapting old inventions to his own poetical purposes with superior, if with equal adroitness. — While we are referring to the subject of the notes, we must observe that they afford considerable superfluous information, few in number as they are. The short account of the death of Colonel Cameron, at Fuentes d'Onoro, is interesting enough: but the long extract from the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1809 is rather too daring a specimen of book-making. The quotation, also, from the prophet Joel, (not to mention the sanguine spirit of interpretation which has applied a part of that prophecy to Massena's retreat!!) is an equally offensive example of the same unpoetical bias. We could say much more on this degrading topic; for the whole appearance of the book is that of a chef d'oeuvre
In the lucrative taste
Of wide printing, and waste
Where there's room on the margin
To write poems as large in,
And each line, like a section,
Seems to yawn for — connection.
In fact, each page holds only a stanza and a half; an arrangement which, besides its obvious intent of eking out a meagre volume, offends the eye of the fastidious judge of typography. The beauty of the page, to speak technically, is destroyed by this division. However, it may truly be called the consummation of the art of printing; and, indeed, Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming keeps it in countenance. How would poor Spenser stare, could he behold this modern division of his stanza! not to mention any other causes for his astonishment, in the writings of his imitators — we beg pardon — we mean those original poets who have adopted the measure of Spenser's verse.
An introduction precedes "the Vision," in which the poet eulogizes Lord Wellington in some animated strains, but declares that it would demand a nobler spirit of poetry than now survives the decay of ages, to render justice to that victorious General:
But we, weak minstrels of a laggard day,
Skill'd but to imitate an elder page,
Timid and raptureless, can we repay
The debt thou claim'st in this exhausted age?
Thou givest our lyres a theme, that might engage
Those that could send thy name o'er sea and land,
While sea and land shall last; for Homer's rage
A theme; a theme for Milton's mighty hand—
How much unmeet for us, a faint degenerate band!
Ye mountains stern! within whose rugged breast
The friends of Scottish freedom found repose;
Ye torrents! whose hoarse sounds have soothed their rest,
Returning from the field of vanquished foes;
Say, have ye lost each wild majestic close,
That erst the choir of bards or druids flung,
What time their hymn of victory arose,
And Cattraeth's glens with voice of triumph rung,
And mystic Merlin harp'd, and grey-hair'd Llywarch sung.
O! if your wilds such minstrelsy retain,
As sure your changeful gales seem oft to say,
When sweeping wild and sinking soft again,
Like trumpet-jubilee or harp's wild sway;
If ye can echo such triumphant lay,
Then lend the note to him has loved you long!
Who pious gather'd each tradition grey,
That floats your solitary wastes along,
And with affection vain gave them new voice in song.
For not till now, how oft soe'er the task
Of truant verse hath lightened graver care,
From muse or sylvan was he wont to ask,
In phrase poetic, inspiration fair;
Careless he gave his numbers to the air,—
They came unsought for, if applauses came;
Nor for himself prefers he now the prayer;
Let but his verse befit a hero's fame,
Immortal be the verse! — forgot the poet's name.
Hark, from yon misty cairn their answer tost:
"Minstrel! the fame of whose romantic lyre,
Capricious swelling now, may soon be lost,
Like the light flickering of a cottage fire;
If to such task presumptuous thou aspire
Seek not from us the meed to warrior due:
Age after age has gather'd son to sire,
Since our grey cliffs the din of conflict knew,
Or, pealing through our vales, victorious bugles blew.
"Decayed our old traditionary lore,
Save where the lingering fays renew their ring,
By milk-maid seen beneath the hawthorn hoar,
Or round the marge of Minchmore's haunted spring;
Save where their legends grey-hair'd shepherds sing,
That now scarce win a listening ear but thine,
Of feuds obscure and border ravaging,
And rugged deeds recount in rugged line
Of moonlight foray made on Teviot, Tweed, or Tyne.
No! search romantic lands—
We certainly wish that the poet would take the advice of his native mountains and torrents, and "search romantic lands" for a longer and more varied tale. We should hail its appearance, in due reason, with genuine satisfaction: — but we confess that we have had enough of "rugged deeds in rugged line,"
And moonlight foray made on Teviot, Tweed, or Tyne.
As to the assertion in the above extract, respecting "applauses coming unsought for," carelessness concerning fame, and the like, we assure the author that we are as much convinced of the sincerity of these phrases, — as we ever were of the accuracy of any similar statement.
It needs not be said that the mountains and torrents, who. form the "high and mighty" council of the poet, dismiss him to Spain:
—"cherished still by that unchanging race,
Are themes for minstrelsy more high than thine;
Of strange tradition many a mystic trace,
Legend and vision, prophecy and sign;
Where wonders wild of Arabesque combine
With Gothic imagery of darker shade,
Forming a model meet for minstrel line,
Go, seek such theme!" — The Mountain Spirit said:
With filial awe I heard — I heard, and I obeyed.
Most exactly has Mr. Scott copied his model. His, assuredly, is the "minstrel line,"
Where wonders wild of arabesque combine
With Gothic imagery of darker shade.
We will not, however, interrupt our quotations of passages which we think are peculiarly deserving of attention, by any minute verbal criticisms; reserving our remarks on these points for the remainder of our critique.
We have often had occasion to praise Mr. Scott's extraordinary genius for descriptive poetry. In our opinion, scarcely any poet of any age or country has excelled him, in bringing before our sight the very scene in the world around us which he is describing, — in giving a reality of existence to every object on which he dwells; and it is on such occasions, especially suited as they seem to the habits of his mind, that his style itself catches a character of harmony, which is far from being universally its own. How vivid, yet how soft, is the following picture!
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.
The stanza which succeeds completes the general description of this night-scene, and we therefore insert it; premising, however, that we deem it very inferior, in point of execution, to the foregoing:
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,
Which glimmer'd back, against the moon's fair lamp,
Tissues of silk and silver twisted sheen,
And standards proudly pitch'd, and warders armed between.
The description of King Roderick, before his father-confessor, is well finished; and the dark allusion to his guilt in the violation of Florinda, daughter of Count Julian, (which event primarily occasioned the conquest of Spain by the Moors,) is poetically introduced: but the picture of the scene of "the Vision" is, perhaps, the best passage in the book, and we therefore extract it at full length. The prelate and the king (who, we may observe, en passant, remind us of the Monk and Deloraine in "the Lay of the Last Minstrel,") have proceeded to the "ancient gateway" which closes the entrance of the fated vault. After an ineffectual remonstrance on the part of the holy man,
—the key the desperate King essay'd,
Low-muttered thunders the Cathedral shook,
And twice he stopped and twice new effort made,
Till the huge bolts rolled back, and the loud hinges bray'd.
Long, large, and lofty was that vaulted hall;
Roof, walls, and floor were all of marble stone,
Of polished marble, black as funeral pall,
Carved o'er with signs and characters unknown.
A paly light, as of the dawning, shone
Through the sad bounds, but whence they could not spy;
For window to the upper air was none;
Yet, by that light, Don Roderick could descry
Wonders that ne'er till then were seen by mortal eye.
Grim centinels, against the upper wall,
Of molten bronze, two Statues held their place;
Massive their naked limbs, their stature tall,
Their frowning foreheads golden circles grace.
Moulded they seemed for kings of giant race,
That lived and sinned before the avenging flood;
This grasped a scythe, that rested on a mace;
This spread his wings for flight, that pondering stood,
Each stubborn seemed and stern, immutable of mood.
Fixed was the right-hand Giant's brazen look
Upon his brother's glass of shifting sand,
As if it's ebb he measured by a book,
Whose iron volume loaded his huge hand;
In which was wrote of many a fallen land,
Of empires lost, and kings to exile driven;
And o'er that pair their names in scroll expand—
"Lo, DESTINY and TIME! to whom by Heaven
The guidance of the earth is for a season given."
Even while they read, the sand-glass wastes away;
And, as the last and lagging grains did creep,
That right-hand Giant 'gan his club upsway,
As one that startles from a heavy sleep.
Full on the upper wall the mace's sweep
At once descended with the force of thunder,
And, hurtling down at once, in crumbled heap,
The marble boundary was rent asunder,
And gave to Roderick's view new sights of fear and wonder.
For they might spy beyond that mighty breach
Realms as of Spain in visioned prospect laid,
Castles and towers, in due proportion each,
As by some skilful artist's hand pourtray'd:
Here, crossed by many a wild Sierra's shade,
And boundless plains that tire the traveller's eye;
There, rich with vineyard and with olive-glade,
Or deep-embrowned by forests huge and high,
Or washed by mighty streams that slowly murmured by.
And here, as erst upon the antique stage
Passed forth the band of masquers trimly led,
In various forms and various equipage,
While fitting strains the hearer's fancy fed;
So, to sad Roderick's eye in order spread,
Successive pageants filled that mystic scene,
Shewing the fate of battles ere they bled,
And issue of events that had not been;
And ever and anon strange sounds were heard between.
First shrilled an unrepeated female shriek!—
The subsequent conflict of the Christians and the Moors, shadowed out as it is in this visionary perspective, excites a lively interest; and "Roderick's kingly likeness," on his well-known horse, flying from the combat, and lost in the torrents of a distant river, affords an admirable hint for scenic exhibition. This remark had occurred to us, before we saw a play of Calderon mentioned in the notes, as being partly founded on the legend before us. Let us suggest it to our theatres, in their present anxiety to gratify the taste of the public for melodram and pantomime.
We now come to the second period of the Vision; and we cannot avoid noticing with much commendation the dexterity and graceful ease with which the first two scenes are connected. Without abruptness, or tedious apology for transition, they melt into each other with very harmonious effect; and we strongly recommend this example of skill, perhaps exhibited without any effort, to the imitation of contemporary poets. The state of Spain under the Moors is briefly sketched, and the scene changes;—
So passed that pageant. Ere another came,
The visionary scene was wrapped in smoke,
Whose sulph'rous wreaths were crossed by sheets of flame;
With every flash a bolt explosive broke,
Till Roderick deemed the fiends had burst their yoke,
And waved 'gainst heaven the infernal gonfalone!
For War a new and dreadful language spoke,
Never by ancient warrior heard or known;
Lightning and smoke her breath, and thunder was her tone.
From the dim landscape roll the clouds away—
The Christians have regained their heritage;
Before the Cross has waned the Crescent's ray,
And many a monastery decks the stage,
And lofty church and low-browed hermitage.
The land obeys a Hermit and a Knight,—
The Genii these of Spain for many an age;
This clad in sackcloth, that in armour bright,
And that was VALOUR named, this BIGOTRY was hight.
The subsequent stanzas, which prolong the personification of Valour and Bigotry, and continue to describe the condition of the Peninsula after its recovery from the Moors, are pleasing in design; and the transient outline which we obtain of the increase of Spanish power and splendour, from the acquisitions of Spain in the New World, is afforded us by a master's pencil.
The opening of the third period of the Vision is, perhaps necessarily, more abrupt than that of the second. No circumstance, equally marked with the alteration in the whole system of antient warfare, could be introduced in this compartment of the poem. Yet, when we have been told that "Valour had relaxed his ardent look," and that "Bigotry" was "softened," we are reasonably prepared for what follows:
Grey Royalty, grown impotent of toil,
Let the grave sceptre slip his lazy hold,
And careless saw his rule become the spoil
Of a loose Female and her Minion bold;
But peace was on the cottage and the fold,
From court intrigue, from bickering faction far;
Beneath the chesnut tree Love's tale was told;
And to the tinkling of the light guitar
Sweet stooped the western sun, sweet rose the evening star.
As that sea-cloud, in size like human hand
When first from Carmel by the Tishbite seen,
Came slowly overshadowing Israel's land,
Awhile perchance bedecked with colours sheen,
While yet the sunbeams on its skirts had been,
Limning with purple and with gold its shroud,
Till darker folds obscured the blue serene
And blotted heaven with one broad sable cloud—
Then sheeted rain burst down and whirlwinds howled aloud;—
Even so upon that peaceful scene was poured,
Like gathering clouds, full many a foreign band,
And HE, their Leader, wore in sheath his sword,
And offered peaceful front and open hand;
Veiling the perjured treachery he planned,
By friendship's zeal and honour's specious guise,
Until he won the passes of the land;
Then burst were honour's oath and friendship's ties!
He clutched his vulture-grasp and called fair Spain his prize.
An Iron Crown his anxious forehead bore;
And well such diadem his heart became,
Who ne'er his purpose for remorse gave o'er,
Or checked his course for piety or shame;
Who, trained a soldier, deemed a soldier's fame
Might flourish in the wreath of battles won,
Though neither truth nor honour decked his name;
Who, placed by fortune on a Monarch's throne,
Recked not of Monarch's faith or Mercy's kingly tone.
Here we must beg leave to stop in our citation of the passage which describes the atrocious invasion of Spain. We are as ready as any of our countrymen can be to designate that act by its proper epithets: but we must decline to join in the author's declamation against the low birth of the Invader; and we cannot help reminding Mr. Scott that such a topic of censure is unworthy of him, both as a poet and as a Briton.
We pass on to the landing of the English on the Peninsula, and transcribe the whole passage; which is vigorous and glowing, and which discriminates, with a just patriotism, the sons of the Thistle, the Shamrock, and the Rose.
It was a dread yet spirit stirring sight!
The billows foamed beneath a thousand oars,
Fast as they land the red-cross ranks unite,
Legions on legions brightening all the shores.
Then banners rise and cannon-signal roars,
Then peals the warlike thunder of the drum,
Thrills the loud fife, the trumpet-flourish pours,
And patriot hopes awake and doubts are dumb,
For, bold in Freedom's cause, the bands of Ocean come!
A various host they came — whose ranks display
Each mode in which the warrior meets the fight,
The deep battalion locks its firm array,
And meditates his aim the marksman light;
Far glance the lines of sabres flashing bright,
Where mounted squadrons shake the echoing mead,
Lacks not artillery breathing flame and night,
Nor the fleet ordnance whirl'd by rapid steed,
That rivals lightning's flash in ruin and in speed.
A various host — from kindred realms they came,
Brethren in arms but rivals in renown—
For yon fair bands shall merry England claim,
And with their deeds of valour deck her crown.
Her's their bold port, and her's their martial frown,
And her's their scorn of death in freedom's cause,
Their eyes of azure, and their locks of brown,
And the blunt speech that bursts without a pause,
And freeborn thoughts which league the Soldier with the Laws.
And O! loved warriors of the Minstrel's land!
Yonder your bonnets nod, your tartans wave!
The rugged form may mark the mountain band,
And harsher features, and a mien more grave;
But ne'er in battle-field throbb'd heart so brave
As that which beats beneath the Scottish plaid;
And when the pibroch bids the battle rave,
And level for the charge your arms are laid,
Where lives the desperate foe that for such onset staid!
Hark! from yon stately ranks what laughter rings,
Mingling wild mirth with war's stern minstrelsy,
His jest while each blithe comrade round him flings
And moves to death with military glee:
Boast, Erin, boast them! tameless, frank, and free,
In kindness warm, and fierce in danger known,
Rough Nature's children, humorous as she:
And HE, yon Chieftain — strike the proudest tone
Of thy bold harp, green Isle! — the Hero is thine own.
The stanzas which follow, and conclude "the Vision," are, in our judgment, very unworthy of their place:
Now on the scene Vimeira should be shown, &c. &c.
But shall fond fable mix with heroes' praise? &c. &c.
This is a sort of lame finale to a magic-lanthorn-exhibition, leaving the spectators in pain and doubt as to the mode of their own departure, as well as that of the characters in the scene. Mr. S. does not recur to the authorized stage-practice of "exit, kneeling;" or the appearance of a beefeater, commanding the Dramatis Persona "to lay down their swords in the Queen's Name!" — he merely cries, "Pass!" with the Conjuror, and tells us — "they are gone!" We are bound to believe him.
The stanzas intitled the "Conclusion," which are as completely detached from the poem as the "Introduction," commemorate Bonaparte's vain threats of driving the English into the sea, and the retreat and discomfiture of Massena. Even the battle of Albuera happened in time for a stanza in this sweeping tail-piece; which, we hope, might have included some additional successes, had its publication been a little longer delayed. Eager, however, as the author is to notice contemporary glories, such a delay would not have squared with the design of that publication; a design, of which we must once more express our warm applause. We have only to mention that the tributes to Beresford, to Cameron, to Cadogan, and to Graham, which occur in this portion of the volume, and from the passage dedicated to the praise of the last-named soldier, we extract the following lines:
Nor be his praise o'erpast who strove to hide
Beneath the warrior's vest affection's wound,
Whose wish, Heaven for his country's weal denied;
Danger and fate he sought, but glory found.
From clime to clime, where'er war's trumpets sound,
The wanderer went; yet, Caledonia! still
Thine was his thought in march and tented ground;
He dreamed mid Alpine cliffs of Athole's hill,
And heard in Ebro's roar his Lyndoch's lovely rill.
—"Dulces reminiscitur Argos!" — We confess that we prefer such an allusion as the above, when we find it in a poem, to the discovery of it in a parliamentary speech.
Our readers will now have been amply enabled to form their own judgment of the merits and the defects of the present poem. If we are again called to subjoin our general sentiments respecting the claims of Mr. Scott to the high station of popular favour in which he stands, we have little to remark that we have not often remarked before, on the leading features of his poetic character. Nature has done every thing for him: Art has added much: he abounds in cultivated genius; and he wants nothing (we speak it "in sorrow rather than in anger") but a more correct and more exalted taste: — a taste that would at once impel him to the choice of some noble subject, worthy of his highest mood of enthusiasm, and would chastise his style by purer models of composition. Must not every judicious admirer of his excellence, every friend of his genius, be ready to exclaim — "Oh! that you could be called,
—merito, puri sermonis amator!
Fortibus atque utinam scriptis adjecta foret vox
Attica, ut aequato virtus polleret honore
Cum Graecis, neque in hac despectus parte jaceres!
Unum hoc maceror et doleo tibi deese.
We must now proceed to establish the justice of our censure, and too clearly to manifest the reason of our regret. The faults which we are about to specify (numerous as they may appear, and certain as we are that in regard to many of them our readers will agree with our strictures,) are really only a portion of those which have obtruded themselves on our notice in our second perusal of the poem. At the first reading, Mr. Scott always captivates too much by his native energy and spirit, to allow the full exercise of cool judgment.
—Each loud trumpet-change
That clangs to Britain victory, to Portugal revenge.
Introduction. Page 3.
To say nothing of the inharmonious pause in this Alexandrine, how are we to pass over the affectation of repeated compound substantives, like "trumpet-change;" or its idle rhyme, "revenge," which occurs again in this short poem? "A choir of bards or druids 'flinging a close,'" page 5., is any thing but English; and a poet's "romantic lyre" which
Capricious swelling now, may soon be lost,
is ridiculously said to be
Like the light "flickering" of a cottage fire. Page 7.
The continuation of the passage which we extracted at page 8. (ending, "No! search romantic lands!")
— where the near Sun
Gives with "unstinted boon" ethereal flame,
is truly execrable in phraseology. "Unstinted boon" is more aukward and prosaic than any expression which we at present remember, even among the laborious strugglings of blank verse to raise its language on the stilts of poetry.
The blended ranks of England, Portugal, and Spain, p. 9.
is a sort of geographical Alexandrine, as unmusical in its rhythm as it is unpoetical in its expression.
There of Numantian fire the "swarthy spark"
Still kindles in the sunburnt native's eye, page10.
is perfectly unintelligible, considered as sense: but, regarded as it ought to be, it is distinct enough. "'Gainst," for "against," ibid. is low and familiar, as is "'gan" for "began," afterward. "Moonlight," page 13. pronounced as an Iambic, is a common fault of the ballad style, but we wish that it did not here disfigure a very beautiful passage, as it also does in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel." "Tramp" and "camp," and "damp" and "lamp," page 14., are not pleasing as closely following rhymes.
Fear "tame" a monarch's "brow," remorse a warrior's "look," p. 17.
is an unmeaning antithesis.
The old man's faded cheek waxed yet more pale,
As many a secret sad the King "bewray'd." — Ibid.
The first of these lines is in the true "Tales of Wonder" manner; where the slow and thrilling pronunciation of the reader is intended to help out the limping poetry the writer; and in the second line, why, in the name of Rabelais, is "bewray'd" used instead of "betray'd?"
The "Grim Centinels, against the upper wall," page 22. notwithstanding the general merit of the passage, rather remind us of the clock-figures at St. Dunstan's Church. "Was Wrote," page 23. would have excited a smile or a frown in our countenances, had not the New School decided that grammar is out of the question in genuine poetry.
—O'er that pair their "names in scroll" expand, Ibid,
irresistibly suggests to our recollection the usual expedient for explaining the plot of the drama at Sadler's Wells: — but, lest this our recollection should offend Mr. Scott, we must assure him that we do not remember any such word as "upsway." Ibid.
"The fate of battles, ere they bled," page 25. we are too dull to understand: but we are sure that such a collection of new compound words and outlandish phrases, as that which fills the following stanza and several others, is less "dignified than entertaining:"—
Then answered kettle-drum, and Atabal,
Gong-peal, and cymbal-clank, the ear appal,
The Tecbir war-cry, and the Lelies yell. — 25, 26.
It must be highly gratifying to Mr. Scott's readers to understand that he has the authority of Mr. William Stuart Rose for the poetical use of the word "Lely!" a Mohammedan shout. We want nothing but
Roderick Vigh Alpine Dhu, ho, ieroe!
(Lady of the Lake.)
to render the concert complete.
—Menials to their misbelieving foes,
Castile's young nobles "held" forbidden wine, page 28.
is not a very intelligible mode of telling the reader that the Spaniards were cup-bearers to the Moors, whose religion interdicted the use of wine. The stanza following (page 29.) begins with a spirited description of Don Roderick's grief and indignation at the degrading sight of his enslaved country:
How fares Don Roderick? e'en as one who "spies"
Flames dart their glare o'er midnight's sable "woof," &c. &c.
but such words as "woof" and "aloof," "proof" and "roof," should nor rhyme in the same stanza; in which also "grief," "chief," and "relief," occur, as a relief to the ear! This is mere idleness. It cannot surely be a defect in musical ear.
The succeeding stanza sounds big with "timbrels," "rebecks," "bell-deck'd dancers," "bazars," and, "jerrids;" and shortly afterward, page 34. we are beset with the "crowns of Caciques," and the "aigrettes" of "Omrahs." — Such things and persons, we shall be told, must be mentioned, if occasion arises: they must: but do not let them be crowded together, as if the writer imagined that some charm was possessed by these less common terms, beyond that which is inherent in the more ordinary phrases and images of poetry.
"Mozo," and "Muchacha," page 35. being equivalent, as we are told by the author, to our phrases of lad and lass, are absurdly used in an English poem. "Gore-moisten'd," page 41. is a horrible compound. "In act to fly," page 43. is as bad as "in act to go." See Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming. "Tempest-scud" is another instance of the fondness which both these authors entertain for such chain-shot substantives. "Lacks not artillery," page 51. is an aukward compliment to the Board of Ordnance. "Whirl'd by rapid steed," "rivals lightning's flash," ibid., and "rich with vine and flock," page 58. may be noticed among numerous instances of Mr. Scott's perseverance in that leading peculiarity of his style, the omission of the article before the noun, and the substitution of the singular for the plural number. The epithet "wrackful," in page 60, is a new acquaintance to us, but may be familiar to Mr. Scott. "Unfoughten," page 62. is an obsolete and unpoetical, if an authorized word. The ironical taunt, of "Honour's Fountain" being foredoomed to clear the stain from the dishonoured arms of Massena, is better than the pun which conveys it.
Oh! for a verse of tumult and of flame? page 6.
is worthy of Nat. Lee. — "Fame" and "Fame," ibid. rhyme together, unless the printer has in one case substituted "fame" for "name," which we conclude must have occurred. — "Shivered my harp," — p. 66. for "be shivered," is not only an inadmissible licence, but reminds us of the nautical phrase, "shiver my timbers;" and the parenthesis page 6.
("With Spenser's parable I close my tale").
is worthy of the — Bellman.
Why must we be compelled to condemn errors, and instances of idleness, which might so easily be avoided? — but we have spoken on this subject until we are tired, and must bid adieu to Don Roderick. We are assured, as we premised, that the great merits of its author have so won upon the public, as to make them for the present overlook all his faults. Would that we had equal hopes of succeeding in our repeated and earnest endeavours to give a nobler impulse to his genius!