Imatges de pÓgina
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real chronicles of the age, and has not above a very conscionable proportion of miracles and prodigies, there is reason to believe that it is in many particulars fictitious. The conquest of Valencia seems particularly suspicious. In short, the whole may be dismissed with the account given of the adventures in Montesino's cave, by the ape of Ginez de Passamente, que parte de las cosas son falsas y parte verisimiles.

The faults which we have to notice belong to the style. This is an imitation of that of scripture; it is, we think, sometimes too periphrastical, and sometimes it abounds in unnecessary repetitions. It retains also marks of its derivation from metrical romance in the detail and accumulation of particulars, which though sometimes striking, at other times degenerate into mere expletives. Thus we have a march described with, “ Who ever saw in Castile so many a precious mule and so many a good going palfrey, and so many great horses, and so many goodly streamers set up, goodly spears and shields adorned with gold and with silver, and mantles, and skins, and such sandals of Adria.” This is all very well and very animated; but why should we again, only six lines below, have a repetition of “many a great mule, and many a palfrey, and many a good horse,” &c. &c. &c. As Mr Southey was compiling a history, and not making a literal translation of a single work, he would, we think, have been justifiable in compressing one of these descriptions. There are, besides, sundry odd phrases which we could have wished amended. Thus the pursuers making havoc among a flying army, are said to

“punish them badly;" we have elsewhere “happy man was his dole," and other expressions more venerable from simplicity than elegance. We dare not proceed too far in these censures, because Mr Southey has informed us, that reviewers, in censuring his introduction of new words, have only shown their own ignorance of the English language. Despite of this “retort churlish,” however, we must say, that if a word be so old that it has become new again, it is unfit, at least generally speaking, for modern use. We have a title to expect payment in the current coin of the day, and may except against that which bears the effigies of King Cnut, as justly as if it had been struck by Mr Southey himself. It also seems to us that the story would have been improved by abridging some of the Cid's campaigns, if the conscience of the editor had

permitted him.

While we are on the subject of faults, we may just remark that Mr Southey appears to have mistaken the sense of two or three Spanish terms; but his knowledge of the language is so deep and extensive, that we must, in justice to him, attribute the oversight to a momentary lapse of attention.

But in noticing these defects, we offer our sincere gratitude to Mr Southey for a most entertaining volume, edited with a degree of taste and learning, which few men in England could have displayed. The introduction and notes are full of the most ample and extraordinary details concerning the state of Spain in the middle ages, from works of equal curiosity and scarcity.

ARTICLE III.

SOUTHEY'S LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.

[The Pilgrim's Progress, wilh a Life of John Bunyan.

By Robert SOUTHEY, Esq. LL.D.- Quarterly Review, 1830.]

It has been the boast of our ancestors to improve the constitution of their country by the address with which they have infused a new spirit into old institutions, like the skilful architect who contrives to make the turrets of a feudal castle subservient to the accommodations of modern hospitality. Thus it is, that although Gibbon had, with good reason, stigmatized the nature of the task imposed on the poets laureate during the reign of George III. and his predecessors, as the establishment of a stipendiary bard, who every year, and under all circumstances, was bound to furnish a certain measure of praise and verse such as might be sung in presence of the monarch, the taste of our late amiable sovereign preferred, to the total abolition of the office, substituting for its old routine of drudgery the occasional exercise of varied talent and unequalled erudition in illustrating the antiquities and peculiarities of our national literature. Nor could Mr Southey have chosen a more interesting point for illustration, than the circumstances under which John Bunyan, in spite of a clownish and vulgar education, rose into a degree of popularity scarce equalled by any English writer.

This “ Spenser of the people," as Mr D’Israeli happily calls him, was born at Elstow, near Bedford, in the year 1628. His parents were the meanest, according to his own expression, of all families in the land. They were workers in brass, or, in common parlance, tinkers, whose profession bore to that of a brazier the same relation which the cobbler's does to the shoemaker's. It was not followed, however, by Bunyan's father as an itinerant calling, which leads Mr Southey to wonder why it should have come to be esteemed so mean. We believe the reason to be that the tinkers' craft is, in Great Britain, commonly practised by gipsies; and we surmise the probability that Bunyan's own family, though reclaimed and settled, might have sprung from this caste of vagabonds; that they were not, at all events, originally English, would seem the most natural explanation of young John's asking his father, whether he was not of Jewish extraction ? (expecting thereby to found on the promises made in the Old Testament to the seed of Abraham).

Of gipsy descent or otherwise, Bunyan was bred up with, and speedily forgot, the slender proportion of schooling then accessible to the children of the poor in England. He was by nature of enthusiastic feelings, and so soon as the subject of religion began to fix his attention, his mind appears to have been agonized with the retrospect of a mispent youth. A quick and powerful imagination was at work on a tender conscience ; for it would appear that his worst excesses fell far short of that utter reprobation to which he conceived them entitled. The young tinker, in the wildest period of his life, had never been addicted to intemperance, or to unlawful intercourse with women. He seems to have wrought for his family as an honest and industrious man, and early became the affectionate husband of a deserving wife. His looser habits, in short, seem only to have been those which every ignorant and careless young fellow, of the lowest ranks, falls into; and, probably, profane swearing, sabbath-breaking, and a mind addicted to the games and idle sports of Vanity Fair, were the most important stains upon the character of his youth :as Mr Southey sums it up, John Bunyan had been a blackguard. Repentance, however, in proportion to the imaginative power of the mind which it agitates, regards past offences with a microscopic eye ; nor can we wonder that such an ardent spirit, speaking, in his own energetic language, of his youthful faults, should paint them in blacker colours than the truth authorized. Bunyan had practised none of those debaucheries by which the heart of the epicurean is hardened against all feelings save

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