Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

longer compositions, the Dorothea. This is not a pastoral, as it might be supposed to be from the manner in which Lord Holland mentions it; it is what the author calls an Accion en prosa, a story told in dialogue, having nothing of the regularity even of a Spanish drama, and far exceeding all dramatic bounds in length: there exist several specimens of such works both in Spanish and Portugueze. In the Eclogue to Claudio, Lope calls this his last and his favourite work:

[ocr errors][merged small]

Y por dicha, de mi la mas querida,
Ultima de mi vida.'—

Fernando, the hero of the piece, is a young poet richer in genius than in fortune, very much in love with Dorothea, who is equally in love with him, though it appears, much to the surprize of the reader, in the course of the story, that she has a husband living abroad. Fernando is at the same time the favourite of a rich and handsome widow named Marfisa; he draws upon her bounty; and a hypocritical procuress contrives to introduce Don Bela, a wealthy creole, to Dorothea, and by dint of costly presents to obtain for him a gracious reception. Both parties have their fits of jealousy, with apparent reason on both sides. Fernando leaves Madrid, and returns to it. A friend who had studied astrology casts his nativity; the horoscope is to this purport, that Dorothea and her mother will persecute him till he is banished from the realm; a little before this banishment he will marry, much to the displeasure of his relations, and lose his wife to his own excessive grief seven years afterwards. He will then return to Madrid, where Dorothea, being then a widow, will wish to marry him, but the sense of honour and resentment on his part will resist all the temptation of her caresses and her wealth. He will afterwards be very unfortunate in love, but by the help of prayer will come out of these troubles well, and enter into a different state of life. Marfisa is to marry twice, and be murdered by her last husband for jealousy. The story disposes of two other personages more speedily. Don Bela is killed in a chance quarrel, and the old procuress falls into a well and is drowned. This was the end of Don Bela, Martisa, and Gerarda. What remains are the troubles of Don Fernando. The poet could not fail in truth, for the story is true.--Look to the example, for which end it hath been written.' In these words Fame addresses the imaginary spectators at the end. Such is the story of the Dorothea, which has neither plan, interest, nor catastrophe; and why it should have been the author's favourite is incomprehensible, unless in the person of Fernando he has related some of the adventures of his own early life.

Many pieces of poetry are inserted with little artifice in the Do

rothea,

rothea, indeed some of his most admired minor poems are to be found in this work and in the Arcadia. But the characteristic merits and faults of this remarkable writer are no where more strikingly exemplified than in his Rimas Sacras, where he has written sometimes with the utmost extravagance of fancy and perversion of taste; at other times, with a strength of religious feeling which commands from the reader something more than approbation. By the dedication of this volume to Frey Martin de San Cirilo, it pears that this Carmelite was the person who effected his conversion from the world: he offers it to him as the fruits of that field which his paternity had cultivated. Among the extraordinary compositions in this collection is a sonnet to St. Sebastian, in which God and man are described shooting at him as at a mark, and he dies by the arrows of divine love before those of human cruelty can reach him. There is a sermon of the Archbishop of Toledo's, versified in trinal rhyme by the poet in the course of the day in which he heard it delivered. There is a Villanesca (which may perhaps in this place be best translated a Carrol) al Santissimo Sacramento; it begins by addressing the wafer as a knight in masquerade, and ends in a sort of epigram, which it is more fitting to transcribe than to translate.

Mas siendo verdad que un dia
Verbum caro factum est,
Quien dio su palabra en carne

No es mucho que en Pan se de.

There is a song to St. Francisco, a personage whose history, gloss it as the Romanists may, is one of the most audacious instances of Romish impiety and imposture. A young merchant, says Lope, wishes to be married; two beautiful damsels are proposed to him; Humility is the one, Poverty the other: he marries them both; the articles being made for him by Chastity. Christ comes to give them away, and pledges his five wounds for their dowry; the writings are made by God himself upon his hands and his feet and his side.

A la boda, a la boda,

Virtudes bellas,
Que se casa Francisco
Yay grandes fiestas.

To the marriage then away

All ye Virtues so fair,

"Tis Francisco's wedding day,

And there's merry-making there.

There is a second and more serious poem upon this atrocious legend, in which Christ is represented stamping himself upon Francisco as upon yielding wax, body upon body, and soul upon

soul!

soul!* And there is a sonnet upon a relic of St. Lorenzo, recently, as it appears, acquired by the crown of Spain, which may vie with any specimen of this peculiar class of poems. It calls upon the angels to spread a clean table for Christ that he may eat of the victim, the smoke of which is ascending in an aromatic cloud. It takes a rose colour upon the gridiron; Love has seasoned it; broil it quickly; turn it on the other side that it may be done; and when the table is ready, O ye angels, say that the meat must be eaten with all speed, because the most Christian king is waiting for a bone'!

Yet in this same volume there are strains of sober piety and elevated devotion, in which a true Christian might devoutly join, and bless the man who has expressed for him so well the aspirations of hope and faith. Such, for instance, are these lines in the Introduction.

Even as a culprit strives to reach
Some Noble's house for privilege,
So from thy wrath to hide my head,
My God, within thy gates I fled :
I knew thy mercy, Lord, how great:
Father, thy love how infinite!

When from thy justice I would flee,
The surest refuge was with thee.f

Such too is the following Sonnet, though it falls feebly at the

close.

My mother bore me mortal; the free sky
Gave me its common boon of light and air,
And the first breath I uttered was a cry.
Kings are as helpless at their birth as I.
My limbs, with no defence of down or hair,
Were wrapt in clothes when Earth and Misery
Received me for a guest in Life's huge inn,
Where all my hours and ways were written down.
So I pursue my road: the soul aspires
To immortality, her promised crown;

• Entonces con fuego ardiente

El Serafin encendido, Haziendose todo un sello, Con ser su ser infinito, Imprimiole como estampa Viendole papel tan limpio,

En el cuerpo a Christo rauerto,
Y en el alina a Christo vivo.
Tal suele obediente cera

Mostrar el blason antiguo
Sobre la nema a su dueño
Eu un instante esculpido.

How little is the mythology of this abominable Church at this time known in England; and how little, in consequence of this ignorance, is its real character understood!

+ Qual delinquante que passa

Por casa de grande fuy,

Andava huyendo de ti

Y entreme en tu misma casa,

Luego en esto bien senti

De essa tu bondad inmensa,
Porque no ay mayor defensa
Que contigo, para ti.

[ocr errors]

The

The body nothing is, nor aught desires.
This is our course; we end as we begin ;
Equal we all are born, and when we die,
Nature restores a like equality.*

Such too is this other, with which, being best as well as last, we shall conclude our specimens of Lope de Vega's poetry.

I must lie down and slumber in the dust,
And if to-morrow thou should'st call me, Lord,
Perhaps it were too late-perhaps thy word
Might find no entrance in the ear of death.
O, Sovereign Power, and merciful as just,
The influence of thy present grace afford :
Visit me now, for what am I but breath,
Dust, ashes, smoke that vanisheth away!
Full well I know that at the judgement-day,
I shall again put on these bones of mine;
These eyes shall see my Saviour and my God.
O sure and only joy! O thought divine,
To comfort and sustain me on the road
That leads to poor Mortality's abode.†

Here then we conclude. It would be too wide a field to enter upon Lope's dramatic works, and it is the less needful because it is that part of his writings upon which Lord Holland has dwelt most at length. And we conclude the more willingly with this sonnet, because we could imagine nothing which would leave upon the reader an impression more favourable to the poet,-or more salutary to himself (let us be permitted to add) if he should, in some degree, partake of the feeling with which it has been translated as well as written.

* Hombre mortal mis padres me engendra

ron,

Ayre comun y luz los cielos dierou,
Y mi primera voz lagrimas fueron,
Que assi los Reyes en el mundo entraron.
La tierra y la miseria me abrazaron,
Paños, no piel o pluma me embolvieron ;
Por huesped de la vida me escrivieron,
Y las horas y passos me contaron.
Assi voy prosiguiendo la jornada,
A la immortalidad el alma asida,
Que el cuerpo es nada, y no pretende
nada,

Un principio y un fin tiene la vida,
Porque de todas es igual la entrada,
Y conforme a la entrada la salida.

Yo dormire en el polvo, y si mañana
Me buscares, Señor, sera possible
No hallar en el estado convenible
Para tu forma la materia humana.
Imprime agora, O Fuerza soberana,
Tus efetos en mi, que es impossible
Conservarse mi ser incorruptible,
Viento, humo, polvo, y esperanza vana.
Bien se que he de vestirme el postrer dia
Otra vez estos buessos, y que verte
Mis ojos tienen, y esta carne mia.
Esta esperanza vive en mi tan fuerte,
Que con ella, no mas tengo alegria
En las tristes memorias de la muerte.

ACT.

ART. II. Historical Sketches of the South of India; in an Attempt to trace the History of Mysoor; from the Origin of the Hindoo Government of that State to the Extinction of the Mahomedan Dynasty in 1799. By Colonel Mark Wilks. Vols. ii. and iii. London. 1817.

MORE than seven years have now elapsed since the appearance

[ocr errors]

of the first of these from which, in our Eleventh Number, we traced the progress of that extraordinary character Hyder Ali from his twenty-seventh year, when known only as Hyder Saheb, a profligate, disorderly vagabond, to his elevation to the rank of Hyder Naick, or Hyder the Corporal; thence to that of Futté Hyder Behauder;-to the dignity of Nabob of Sera, and finally to his adoption of the title of Hyder Ali Khan Behauder: we followed him in his career to the complete usurpation of the government of Mysore in 1767, when he took possession of the palace of Seringapatam, keeping as a mere pageant, in close confinement and under the eye of his own agents, the legitimate raja, then a boy of eighteen years of age.

We shall now return to the conclusion of our former Article and, with Colonel Wilks, resume the narrative at the period of Hyder's assumption of the real power of the state. The details into which the author enters are somewhat minute and tedious, and, as far as regards the local disputes, the petty intrigues, the disgraceful traffic on all sides in treaties made only to be broken, have now lost most of their interest. We shall, therefore, confine ourselves chiefly to those transactions in which Hyder and his son Tippoo were personally concerned, the one in labouring to establish, the other in overturning, the Mahomedan dynasty of Mysore.

Hyder had no sooner sat down in Seringapatam, than he learned that a confederacy was carrying on between the Nizam Ali, Mahomed Ali, and the English, in concert with the Mahrattas, for the conquest of Mysore. He was well aware that every confederacy of the Mahrattas, with whatever power, had uniformly two distinct objects-plunder during the confederacy, and exclusive possession after its close. His knowledge of the Mahratta force, and his experience of the talents of Mâdoo Row, by whom it was directed, determined him not to risk his own army beyond the protection of the capital, and to have recourse to a new mode of defence and of impeding the enemy's progress. Accordingly, the most peremptory orders were issued to all his officers, civil and military, to break down the embankments of the reservoirs, on the approach of the Mahratta army; to poison the wells with milk-hedge (euphorbia tiraculli); to burn all the forage, even to the thatch of the houses;

to

« AnteriorContinua »