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ROUSES FROM HIS AGONY.

411

and fix themselves in a little rocky bay, opening out to the lonely roar of the Atlantic.

“Behind them was the desert, off'ring fruit

And water for their need; on either side
The white sand sparkling to the sun; in front,
Great Ocean with its everlasting voice,
As in perpetual jubilee, proclaim'd
The wonders of the Almighty, filling thus
The pauses of their fervent orisons.

Where better could the wanderers rest than here?” — p. 14. The Second Book begins with stating, that Roderick passed twelve months in penance and austerities, in this romantic retreat.—At the end of that time, his ghostly father dies; and his agonies become more intolerable, in the utter desolation to which he is now left. The author, however, is here a little unlucky in two circumstances, which he imagines and describes at great length, as aggravating his unspeakable misery; — one is the tameness of the birds — of which we have spoken already the other is the reflection which he very innocently puts into the mouth of the lonely king, that all the trouble he has taken in digging his own grave, will now be thrown away, as there will probably be nobody to stretch him out, and cover him decently up in it! However, he is clearly made out to be very miserable; and prays for death, or for the imposition of some more active penance

any thing But stillness, and this dreadful solitude ! At length he is visited, in his sleep, by a vision of his tender mother; who gives him her blessing in a gentle voice, and says, “ Jesus have mercy on thee.” The air and countenance of this venerable shade, as she bent in sorrow over her unhappy son, are powerfully depicted in the following allusion to her domestic calamities. He traced there, it seems, not only the settled sadness of her widowhood

“ But a more mortal wretchedness than when
Witiza's ruffians and the red-hot brass
Had done their work, and in her arms she held
Her eyeless husband; wip'd away the sweat

412

SOUTHEY'S RODERICK_BEGINS HIS CRUSADE.

Which still his tortures forc'd from every pore;
Cool'd his scorch'd lids with medicinal herbs,
And pray'd the while for patience for herself
And him,--and pray'd for vengeance too! and found

Best comfort in her curses.”—p, 23, 24. While he gazes on this piteous countenance, the character of the vision is suddenly altered; and the verses describing the alteration afford a good specimen both of Mr. Southey's command of words, and of the profusion with which he sometimes pours them out on his readers.

“ And lo! her form was chang'd!
Radiant in arms she stood ! a bloody Cross
Gleam'd on her breastplate; in her shield display'd
Erect a Lion ramp'd; her helmed head
Rose like the Berecynthian Goddess crown'd
With towers, and in her dreadful hand the sword,
Red as a fire-brand blaz'd! Anon the tramp
Of horsemen, and the din of multitudes
Moving to mortal conflict, rung around;
The battle-song, the clang of sword and shield,
War-cries and tumult, strife and hate and rage,
Blasphemous prayers, confusion, agony,
Rout and pursuit, and death! and over all

The shout of Victory ... of Spain and Victory!”—p. 24, 25. In awaking from this prophetic dream, he resolves to seek occasion of active service, in such humble capacity as becomes his fallen fortune; and turns from this first abode of his penitence and despair.

The Third Book sets him on his heroic pilgrimage ; and opens with a fine picture.

“ 'Twas now the earliest morning; soon the Sun,

Rising above Albardos, pour'd his light
Amid the forest, and with

ray

aslant
Ent'ring its depth illum'd the branchless pines ;
Brighten'd their bark, ting'd with a redder hue
Its rusty stains, and cast along the floor
Long lines of shadow, where they rose erect,
Like pillars of the temple. With slow foot

Roderick pursued his way." - p. 27. We do not know that we could extract from the whole book a more characteristic passage than that which describes his emotion on his first return to the sight of

FIRST SIGHT OF HIS CONQUERED REALM.

413

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man, and the altered aspect of his fallen people. Не approaches to the walls of Leyria.

“ The sounds, the sight
Of turban, girdle, robe, and scymitar,
And tawny skins, awoke contending thoughts
Of anger, shame, and anguish in the Goth!
The unaccustom'd face of human-kind
Confus'd him now, and through the streets he went
With hagged mien, and countenance like one
Craz'd or bewilderd.

One stopt him short,
Put alms into his hand, and then desir'd,
In broken Gothic speech, the moon-struck man
To bless him. With a look of vacancy
Roderick receiv'd the alms; his wand'ring eye
Fell on the money; and the fallen King,
Seeing his own royal impress on the piece,
Broke out into a quick convulsive voice,
That seem'd like laughter first, but ended soon
In hollow groans supprest!
A Christian woman spinning at her door
Beheld him, and with sudden pity touch'd
She laid her spindle by, and running in
Took bread, and following after called him back,
And placing in his passive hands the loaf,
She said, Christ Jesus for his Mother's sake
Have mercy on thee! With a look that seem'd
Like idiotey he heard her, and stood still,
Staring awhile; then bursting into tears
Wept like a child !

“ But when he reach'd
The
open

fields, and found himself alone
Beneath the starry canopy of Heaven,
The sense of solitude, so dreadful late,
Was then repose and comfort.

There he stopt
Beside a little rill, and brake the loaf;
And shedding o'er that unaccustom'd food
Painful but quiet tears, with grateful soul
He breathed thanksgiving forth; then made his bed

On heath and myrtle.” — p. 28——30. After this, he journeys on through deserted hamlets and desolated towns, till, on entering the silent streets of Auria, yet black with conflagration, and stained with blood, the vestiges of a more heroic resistance appear before him.

· Helmet and turban, scymitar and sword,
Christian and Moor in death promiscuous lay

414

SOUTHEY'S RODERICK-MEETS WITH A HEROINE,

The story

Each where they fell; and blood-flakes, parchd and crack'd
Like the dry slime of some receding flood;
And half-burnt bodies, which allur'd from far
The wolf and raven, and to impious food

Tempted the houseless dog." - p. 36. While he is gazing on this dreadful scene with all the sympathies of admiration and sorrow, a young and lovely woman rushes from the ruins, and implores him to assist her in burying the bodies of her child, husband. and parents, who all lie mangled at her feet. He sadly complies; and listens, with beating heart and kindling eyes, to the vehement narrative and lofty vow of revenge with which this heroine closes her story. itself is a little commonplace; turning mainly upon

her midnight slaughter of the Moorish captain, who sought to make love to her after the sacrifice of all her family; but the expression of her patriotic devotedness and religious ardour of revenge, is given with great energy; as well as the effect which it produces on the waking spirit of the king. He repeats the solemn vow which she has just taken, and consults her as to the steps

the steps that may be taken for rousing the valiant of the land to their assist

The high-minded Amazon then asks the name of her first proselyte.

". Ask any thing but that!' The fallen king replied. My name was lost

When from the Goths the sceptre past away!'” She rejoins, rather less felicitously, “ Then be thy name Maccabee ;” and sends him on an embassage to a worthy abbot among the mountains; to whom he forthwith reports what he had seen and witnessed. Upon hearing the story of her magnanimous devotion, the worthy priest instantly divines the name of the heroine.

Oh none but Adosinda! . . none but she, . .
None but that noble heart, which was the heart
Of Auria while it stood its life and strength,
More than her father's presence, or the arm
Of her brave lord, all valiant as he was.
Hers was the spirit which inspired old age,
Ambitious boyhood, girls in timid youth,
And virgins in the beauty of their spring,
And youthful mothers, doting like herself

ance.

PROGRESS OF HIS MISSION.

415

With ever-anxious love: She breath'd through all
That zeal and that devoted faithfulness,
Which to the invader's threats and promises

Turn'd a deaf ear alike,” &c.— p. 53–54. The King then communes on the affairs of Spain with this venerable Ecclesiastic and his associates; who are struck with wonder at the lofty mien which still shines through his sunk and mortified frame.

They scann'd his countenance : But not a trace
Betray'd the royal Goth! sunk was that eye
Of sovereignty; and on the emaciate cheek
Had penitence and anguish deeply drawn
Their furrows premature, ... forestalling time,
And shedding upon thirty's brow, more snows
Than threescore winters in their natural course

Might else have sprinkled there."- p. 57. At length, the prelate lays his consecrating hands on him ; and sends him to Pelayo, the heir-apparent of the sceptre, then a prisoner or hostage at the court of the Moorish prince, to say that the mountaineers are still unsubdued, and look to him to guide them to vengeance.

These scenes last through two books; and at the beginning of the Fifth, Roderick sets out on his mission. Here, while he reposes himself in a rustic inn, he hears the assembled guests at once lamenting the condition of Spain, and imprecating curses on the head of its guilty king. He says a few words vehemently for himself; and is supported by a venerable old man, in whom he soon recognises an ancient servant of his mother's house — the guardian and playmate of his infant days. Secure from discovering himself, he musters courage to ask if his mother be still alive; and is soothed to milder sorrow by learning that she is. At dawn he resumes his course; and kneeling at a broken crucifix on the road, is insulted by a Moor, who politely accosts him with a kick, and the dignified address of “God's curse confound thee!” for which Roderick knocks him down, and stabs him with his own dagger. The worthy old man, who name is Siverian, comes up just as this feat is performed, and is requested to assist in “ hiding the carrion ;” after which they proceed lovingly together.

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