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If we are not much mistaken, another and a much more serious charge will be presented against Mr. Southey, on account of the style of his translation, by those over-righte ous censors who are always on the watch for victims of their inquisitorial zeal, and to fix, by a forced construction, the imputation of impiety, blasphemy, and atheism, on the most innocent opinions or expressions. We apprehend that Mr. Southey has either from want of foresight, or from an utter contempt of their malice, laid himself open to some of these charitable conclusions; and shall not be at all surprised to hear it roundly stated that the Chronicle of the Cid,' is an open and scandalous attack upon revealed religion. The truth is, that Mr. Southey, in antiquating his phraseology has fallen into a very close imitation of the scriptural historical style. Nothing can be more true than that this style is, of all others, the most simple, the most pure, and, in every respect, the best model that our language affords, of clear unornamental narrative. This alone, we conceive would be a sufficient justification of Mr. Southey for adopting it. But if a further defence should be thought requisite let us apply to any one of these pious gentlemen who happens to understaud Latin, and request him to take up an old chronicle of the 13th or 14th century, and turn it literally into English, using only such words and phrases as were current two centuries ago. He will very soon start back with religious horror upon the discovery that he has, unawares, been prophaning the sacred language of our translated Bible. The truth is, it was the object of the authors of that translation to give to the public a plain version of the scriptures, in that style and language which were most familiar to every description of hearers; and therefore a professed imitator of the common phraseology of the 16th century can resort to no model so safe and unquestionable. Nevertheless, we think Mr. Southey would have done more wisely to avoid the recurrence of a few peculiar modes of expression, which, without doing him any great service, may bave ap. peared the most obnoxious to truly orthodox censoriousness.
We now proceed to give our readers, by examples, some idea of the nature of the entertainment they may expect to derive from a perusal of the work.
Rodrigo (or Ruy) Diaz, was born at the little town of Bivar near Burgos, in the year 1026, of the family of the ancient counts of Castile, but a short time before that district, under the new title of a kingdom, was united to Leon by King Ferdinand I. His first exploit in arms was that which is so celebrated as the subject of the chef d'oeuvre of Cor
neille; and on that account the detail of it here given, on which the tragedy was founded, must be in some degree interesting to all our readers :
At this time it came to pass that there was strife between Count don Gomez, the lord of Gormaz, and Diego Laynez the father of Rodrigo: and the Count insulted Diego and gave him a blow. Now Diego was a man in years, and his strength had passed from him, so that he could not take vengeance, and he retired to his home to dwell there in solitude and lament over his dishonour. And he took no pleasure in his food, neither could he sleep by night: would be lift up his eyes from the ground, out of his house, nor commune with his friends, but turned from them in silence, as if the breath of his shame would taint them. Rodrigo was yet but a youth, and the Count was a mighty man in arms, one who gave his voice first in the Cortes, and was held to be best in the war, and so powerful that he had a thousand friends among the mountains. Howbeit all these things appeared as nothing to Rodrigo when he thought of the wrong done to his father, the first which had ever been offered to the blood of Layn Calvo. He asked nothing but justice from heaven, and of man he asked only a fair field; and his father seeing of how good heart he was, gave him his sword and his blessing. The sword had been the sword of Mudarrar in former times, and when Rodrigo held its cross in his hand, he thought within himself that his arm was not weaker than Mudarra's. And he went out and defied the count and he slew him, and smo te off his head, and carried it home to his father. The old man was sitting at table, the food lying before him untasted, when Rodrigo returned, and pointing to the head which hung from the horse's collar, dropping blood, he bade him look up, for there was the herb which should restore him to his appetite, tle. tongue, quoth he, which insulted you, is no longer a tongue, and the hand which wrouged you is no longer a hand. And the old man arose and embraced his son and placed him at the table, saying that he who had brought him that head should be the head of the house of Layn Calvo.'
From what follows shortly after, it will appear that the poet has taken great liberties with the history, but no more than were absolutely necessary for the sake of dramatic effect.
King Don Fernando was going through Leon, putting the kingdom in order, when tidings reached him of the good speed which Rodrigo had had against the Moors. And at the same time there came before him Ximena Gomez, the daughter of the count, who fell on her knees before him and said, 'Sir, I am the daughter of count Don Gomez of Gormaz, and Rodrigo of Bivar has slain the count, my father, and of three daughters whom he has left I am the youngest. And, Sir, I come to crave of you a boon, that you will give me Ro
drigo of Bivar, to be my husband, with whom I shall hold myself well married, and greatly honored; for certain I am that his pos→ sessions will one day be greater than those of any man in your dominions. Certes, Sir, it behoves you to do this, because it is for God's service, and because I may pardon Rodrigo with a good will' The king held it good to accomplish her desire, and forthwith ordered letters to be drawn up to Rodrigo of Bivar, wherein he enjoined and commanded him that he should come incontinently to Palencia, for he had much to communicate to him upon an affair which was greatly to God's service, and his own welfare and great honour.
When Rodrigo saw the letters of his lord the king, he greatly rejoiced in them, and said to the messengers that he would fulfil the king's pleasure, and go incontinently at his command. And he dight himself full gallantly and well, and took with him many knights both his own, and of his kindred, and of his friends. And he took also many new arms, and came to Palencia to the king with two hundred of his peers in arms, in festival guise; and the king went out to meet him, and received him right well, and did him honour; and at this were all the counts displeased. And when the king thought it a fit season, he spake to him and said, that Donna Ximena Gomez, the daughter of the count whom he had slain, had come to ask him for her husband, and weed forgive him her father's death ; wherefore he besought him to think it good to take her to be his wife in which case he would show him great favour. When Rodrigo heard this it pleased him well, and he said to the king that he would do his bidding in this, and in all other things which he might command, and the king thanked him much. And he sent for the bishop of Palencia, and took their vows and made them plight them'selves, each to the other, according as the law directs. And when they were espoused the king did them great honour, and gave them many noble gifts; and added to Rodrigo's lands more than he had till then possessed; and he loved him greatly in his heart, because he saw that he was obedient to his commands, and for all that he had heard him say.
So Rodrigo departed from the king, and took his spouse with him to the house of his mother, and gave her to his mother's keeping. And forthwith he ade a vow in her hands that he would never accompany with her, neither in the desert nor in the inhabited place, till he had won five battles in the field. And he besought his mother that she would love her even as she loved him himself, and that she would do good to her and shew her great honour, for which he should ever serve her with the better good will. And his mother promised him so do; and then he departed from them and went out against the frontier of the Moors.'
This proceeding on the part of the lady must, we fear, seem rather shocking to decency, if not to probability, in the eyes of modern refinement; and there appear, indeed, to be some considerable doubts attending the whole story. Mr.
Southey, however, is inclined to admit its truth without qualification. The marriage proved a most fortunate one. Ximena Gomez brought the Cid two daughters, the wives first, of the Infantes of Carrion, and afterwards of the Kings of Arragon and Navarre. She was the partaker of all his prosperous and evil fortunes; and throughout the work there occur several traits of domestic affection and tenderness, which are far from the least interesting passages contained in it. She survived her husband a few years,and was buried with him in the monastery of Cardeña.
When the French were in Spain during the last war, nothing excited their curiosity till they came to Burgos, and heard that Chi mene was buried at Cardeña: but then every day parties were made who visited her tomb, and spouted over it passages from Corneille."
We have seldom met with a more entertaining trait of French nationality. Mudarra, mentioned in the extract, was one of the Infantes of Lara, a romantic brotherhood, whose history is detailed very much at large in Mr. Southey's
After his action with the five Moorish kings, the reputation of Ruy Diaz was fixed at the court of Castile; and, du. ring the remainder of Ferdinand's reign, he was the firmest support of the throne; and the most active champion of the Christian cause, in the several wars against the Moors of Estremadura and Portugal. On one of his expeditions a signal instance of the reward of charity is recorded, which, it is presumed, will hardly obtain implicit eredit at the present day among us heretics; but which, even now, it would probably be a sin of the first magnitude to doubt of in the latitude of Burgos, He and his companions met on the road a leper struggling in a quagmire, who prayed them for the love of God to help him. The rest passed by with silent compassion; but Rodrigo not only extricated the poor wretch from his peril, set him before him on his horse, and brought him to the inn where he lodged for the night, but made him partake of the same dish and of the same bed with himself. Christian charity certainly never extended further. than this; and it bad its desert; for in the middle of the night there stood before Rodrigo one in white garments, breathing celestial odours, who said,
I am St. Lazarus; and know that I was the leper to whom thou didst so much good and so great honour for the love of God: and because thou didst this for his sake,hath God now granted thee a great gift; for whensoever that breath which thou hast felt shalt come upen thee, whatever thing thou desirest to do, and shalt then begin,
that shalt thou accomplish to thy heart's desire, whether it be in battle or aught else, so that thy honour shall go on increasing from day to day,' &c. &c.
But this miracle of the leper is,it seems, no uncommon occurrence in the lives of saints. It was after the conquest of Coimbra, (the most important of Ferdinand's exploits against the Moors), that Ruy Diaz received the honour of knighthood, which, in that early age of chivalry, was still an ob ject of rare and difficult acquisition; and about that time the deputies from the five kings whom he had conquered first saluted him with the title of Cid (Lord), which Ferdinand decreed he should from thenceforth bear, as a mark of espe cial distinction from all his other nobles.
The death of Ferdinand(A. 1065), was an event most disas trous to the repose of the cbristian states in Spain; since,agreeably to the pernicious practice then prevalent in many paris of Europe,he on his death-bed divided his dominions among his three sons, reserving out of that distribution, certain smaller territories also for the subsistence of his daughters. The kingdom of Castile, and with it the important services of the Cid, fell to Don Sancho as his allotment. 'Now the kings of Spain, were of the blood of the Goths, which was a fierce blood, for it had many times come to pass among the Gothic kings, that brother had slain brother upon this quarrel; and from this blood was Don Sancho descended.' Accordingly, no sooner had he successfully repelled an invasion of the king of Arragon (in which the Cid had perform, ed such important services, that he was in consequence elevated to the highest rank in the army, and thenceforth sti. led the Campeador,'* than he discovered a pretext for in vading the dominions of his brother Garcia, king of Gallicia. Of course we shall not pretend to give a summary of the transactions of the war that ensued; but perhaps we shall hardly find a more favourable specimen of the spirit with which Mr. Southey has performed his task than in the account of the final battle of Santarem. With regard to the principal actors whose names occur in the following extract, it will be sufficient to state that Count Garcia Ardoñez was a Castilian nobleman of the highest rank in the service of King Sancho; Alvar Fañez Minaye, the hero of the day, was through life the favourite friend and companion of
Because, says the text, when the host was in the field, it was his office to choose the place for encampments; other writers, however, give a different ety mology of the term.