Imatges de pÓgina



[From the Quarterly Review, Feoruary, 1809,!

The name of the Cid is best known to us by the celebrated tragedy of Corneille, founded on a circumstance which happened early in the champion's career, and which the Spanish compilers of his story do not dwell upon with any peculiar emphasis. Those who are deep read in Don Quixote may also recollect, that the Campeador and his great exploits against the Moors was one of the subjects that deranged the brain of the worthy knight of La Mancha. Few English or French literati know more of a hero as famous in Spain as Bertrand du Guesclin in France, Glendower in Wales, or Wallace in Scotland ; yet have his achievements been recorded in the “ letter blake,” and harped in many a hall and bower.

“Desde Sevilla a Marchena,

Desde Granada hasta Leja." Mr Southey, to whom the fabulous heroes of Spain, her Amadis, and her Palmerin, have such obligations, has undertaken the same generous task in favour of the Cid, the real champion of a history scarcely less romantic than theirs. His work is not to be considered as the precise translation of any of the numerous histories of the Cid, but as a compilation of all that relates to him extracted from those several sources. First, a prose chronicle of the life and achievements of the Cid, printed in 1552 and 1593, which there is some reason to ascribe to Gil Diaz, a converted Moor, one of the Cid's most faithful followers. This is corrected and enlarged from a general chronicle of Spanish history. Secondly, a metrical legend, of which the Cid is the hero. This work, which Auctuates between history and romance, has a considerable degree of poetical merit, is the oldest poem in the Spanish language, and, in Mr Southey's judgment, decidedly and beyond all comparison the finest. Lastly, the translator has laid under contribution the popular ballads or romances which celebrated the feats of this renowned warrior—and were sung by minstrels, jongleurs, and glee-men, at places of festive resort. Mr Southey is not inclined to rank very highly either the authority or the antiquity of these songs, and has made little use of them in compiling his Chronicle. By these lights, however, he has guided the narrative through the following details.

Rodrigo of Bivar, “& youth strong in arms and of good customs,” destined to protect his country from the Moors, was born at Burgos in the reign of King Ferrando of Castile, and in the



His father Diego Laynez, chief of the noble house, had received a blow from the Count Don Gomez, the Lord of Gormaz. The consequences are described in a picturesque manner, and form a good specimen of this singular narrative.

“ 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 be sleep by night, nor would be lift up his eyes from the ground, nor stir 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 the 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 of 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 Mudarra in former times, and when Rodrigo held its cross in his band, he thought within himself that his arm was not weaker than Mudarra's. And he went out, and defied the count, and slew him, and smote 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 to him his appetite : the tongue, quoth he, which insulted you is no longer a tongue, and the band which wronged you is no longer a hand. And the old man arose and embraced his son, and placed him above him at the table, saying, that he who had brought home that head should be the head of the house of Layn Calvo.”—P. 3.

This prosperous commencement was followed by a victory which Rodrigo obtained over five of the Moorish petty princes, who had allied themselves to spoil the country of Castile. Their defeat was so complete, that they submitted to be in future the vassals of the victor. About the same time Ximena Gomez, daughter of the count (the Chimene of Corneille), came before the King, and having stated that Rodrigo had slain her father, prayed his Majesty to command him to make atonement by taking her to wife, “ for God's service, and that she might be enabled to grant him her hearty pardon.” Neither the King nor Rodrigo felt a desire to resist so singular a request, and the marriage was concluded accordingly. We cannot stop to relate how Rodrigo displayed his charity by plucking a foul leper out of a morass, and placing him at his own table, and how the leper proved to be no less a person than St Lazarus, who had thus disguised bimself to prove the young warrior's love of God and his neighbour ; nor can we narrate his single combat with Martin Gonzales, nor those repeated conquests over the Moors, which caused him to be distinguished among the vanquished by the name of El Cid, or THE LORD, a title which he afterwards made so famous in history. While his fame was rapidly advancing, the kingdom of Castile was convulsed with civil war. The King Don Ferrando had died, leaving three sons and one daughter, among whom, with the usual impolicy of the times, he attempted to divide his dominions. But the kings of Spain were of the blood of the Goths, which is emphatically said to be a fierce blood; and certainly no history, except

ing that of the heaven-abandoned Jews, is stained with more murders, conspiracies, and unnatural civil broils. The Cid was among the subjects of Castile, whose fealty descended to the eldest son, Don Sancho, and he had no small part in the wars which that monarch made upon his brethren, Garcia and Alfonzo. When Sancho had dethroned and imprisoned hoth his younger brothers, he forced Alfonzo to become a monk, but he escaped from his convent, and Aed to the Moors of Toledo, who received him with great hospitality. Mean while, Sancho resolved to deprive his sister Urraca of the city and dependencies of Zamora, which the King, her father, had bequeathed to her. And it was while besieging this city that he was treacherously slain by one of her adherents, who pretended to desert to his party. This gave occasion to one of those scenes which illustrate the singular manners of the age. It was resolved in the camp of the deceased monarch that the town of Zamora shonld be impeached for the treason committed, and for having received the traitor within her gates after the perpetration of the murder. The task of denouncing it devolved upon Diego Ordonez, a right good and noble warrior; for the Cid, who might otherwise have been expected to be foremost in the revenge of his master's death, had uniformly refused to bear arms against Donna Urraca, because they had been brought up together, and he remembered “the days that were past.” Diego Ordonez came before the walls fully armed, and having

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