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The progress of the army is arrested at the pass of Ronceval, where earl Roland and his warriors fell, by a hermit, who bids them respect the spot, and pay their tribute of rogard to the memory of the hero. Constance advanced,
“By high heroic impulse fired,
She exhorts to the imitation of the deeds of Roland, and fills them with martial ardor; when their attention is arrested by the inspired hermit, who announces the success of their expedition; and then foretels the distresses of Spain from its present invader, the tyrant of France, and the succour it would receive from the “ empress of the main.” With the prophetic ode of the hermit” the poem closes.
Such a conclusion is abrupt and unsatisfactory, and it pears premature. The characters in the poem being suddenly taken from our view almost as soon as we have become interested in them, we must be satisfied with the knowledge of their fate which we may derive from the hints of the prophetic ode. The story, though it has some faults, and deserves no praise for originality of plan, or ingenuity of arrangement, is entertaining. Mr. Sotheby has neglected, we think rather unskilfully, one of the most certain and lawful arts of exciting and maintaining interest, which is, to keep the reader in ignorance of the approaching event, so that while the train of incidents is continually provoking curiosity, the developement shall produce surprise. This inattention is observable in the first canto. We are told that the boat which approaches Corunna contains its monarch, which destroys our power of sympathising with the eager expectations of those who discern it from the tower; and we feel no surprise, which otherwise we might have done in a high degree, when the arrival of the long lost king is declared. The palnier who arrives at Edward's court, we instantly know, för we
have before been told of Julian's adventure. So too as soon as Pedró leaves the harbour of Corunna, we expect the attack which is made upon his vessel, being told that Almanzor is m ambush. Such anticipations diminish our interest. '
We are confirmed by this poem in the opinion which we have expressed of Mr. Sotheby's character. We said he was deficient in imagination; and there are in this poem no incidents or imagery which disprove the assertion. This defi ciency appears in the structure of the narrative, in the style of versification, and in the triteness of the epithets and metaphors. :. We have here the same lions and storms,* which have been common stock, since the days of Homer. We said also that Mr. Sotheby did not discover much strength of conception, or spirit in execution; and the character of Pedro, which was capable of being very highly wrought, is very inadequately brought out. Nor should we attribute to Mr. Sotheby from this poem, any more than from his others, much originality. But most of his poetic ideas, and many of his expressions, indicate that he has been a studious reader of poetry. We are very often reminded of other writers by some phrase which we thought peculiar, or even by trains of ideas, and modes of description, which we indistinctly remem, ber to have met with before. The hermit's ode in “ Constance” compels us to recollect “ The Bard” of Gray; not from any similarity of beauties, but from an analogy of structure and expression. We do not mean to accuse Mr. Sotheby of plagiarism, or of direct and designed imitation ; but it seems as if when he composed he had other poetry than his own in his mind; as if he did not describe so much from conception of his subject, as from the recollection of other descriptions.
We can say of this poem, what has been said of almost each of Mr. Sotheby's former productions, that it will not increase his reputation; but we cannot so confidently add, what has been usually added, that it will not at all diminish it. Constance de Castile cannot be so highly praised as either of his translations, and we doubt whether it should rank so high as Saul. We certainly cannot extract so fine passages from ity as may be found in the description of Saul's advance to battle, and of his conduct during and immediately after the repulse. But if Mr. Sotheby is still far below the highest class of poets, even of poets of the present day, he is certainly not below all praise. We are not at all disposed to retract or qualify the tribute which we have already paid to his delicacy, purity, ele. gance, or taste. We will condemn no one for admiring his poems, because (with the exception of Oberon) there is nothing in them to injure; but we ourselves must be permited to be only moderately pleased with them.
* See pp. 117, 147.
Note A. page 19. THERE are several notes appended to the poem of Mr. Sotheby, which contain sometimes authorities for the truth of its incidents, sometimes illustrations, and at others mere assertions of facts. In these we have a right to expect and demand strict adherence to history, for they profess to give correct information. But we suspect there are some misstatements, which we will notice.
The first note we believe is incorrect. Pedro retreated from city to city, the country revolting only as the usurper ad- . Vanced, and he passed through Galicia, and embarked at Corunna for Bayonne. He was refused assistance from Portugal, but was not besieged at Corunna ; for when he was there, Hen. 'ry was in the southern part of the kingdom, at Toledo or Seville. It was but about fifteen months from the time of Hen
ry's invasion to Pedro's return. See Stevens Mariana, B. XVII. c. 5. Mod. Univer. Hist. vol. XX.
p. 1. The authority of Dillon, produced in the third note, does not prove that don Pedro was imprisoned in Portugal, while the testimony of Froissart renders it very improbable. “When « the king of Portugal heard in what manner his cousin don « Pedro had been slain, he was mightily vexed at it, and swore 6 he would have satisfaction for it. He immediately sent a 5 challenge to Henry, and made war upon him, remaining mas« ter of all the environs of Seville for a whole season.".
In a note to the third canto, Johnes' Froissart is quoted as asserting, that Ferdinand de Castro was the only knight who folTowed Pedro from his kingdom. A few pages after this account of Froissart, his translator has detected its incorrectness, and has the following note with respect to some compact between Edward and Pedro. 66 The number of witnesses to this 66 deed shows, that Froissart was misinformed, when he says, " that don Pedro was solely attended by Fernando de Castro. According to Mariana, he embarked at Corunna with his family and twenty two ships.
Note B, page 24, In a note upon the dream of Pedro, Mr. Sotheby has again quoted Froissart, and attributes the seizure of the king to the Bégue de Villaines; and expresses a doubt, which is copied from the translator Johnes, whether the relation of Froissart is not to be preferred to those of Mariana and Ferreras. These respectable historians attribute it to the treachery of Bertram du Guesclin, who promised to assist king Pedro in escaping from the castle of Montiel where he was besieged, but betrayed him to Henry; and their testimony is rejected by Mr. Sotheby for the same reason probably that it is by Johnes, 6 because avarice was not a vice of such gallant men;" a curious reason indeed, when we consider that this was an age
when crimes were so frequent, and religion so disregarded, that vice was hardly disgraceful., We leave our readers to choose between the authorities, reminding them that Froissart and Bertram were both Frenchmen. But the particulars of the seizure as related by Froissart are interesting, although
be incorrect, as to the person concerned in it: $0 much so, that we extract the following account.
“After the defeat of king Pedro and his army, king Henry and sir Bertram encamped themselves before the castle of Montiel where don Pedro was; they surrounded it on all sides."
This castle was of sufficient strength to have held out a considerable time, if it had been properly victualled; but when don Pedro entered it, there was not enough for four days, which much alarmed him and his companions. They were so strictly watched that a bird could not escape from the castle without being noticed.
“Don Pedro was in great anguish of heart at seeing him, self thus surrounded by his enemies, well knowing they would not enter into any treaty of peace or agreement with him ; so that considering his dangerous situation, and the great want of provisions in the castle, he was advised to attempt his escape, with eleven companions, about midnight, and to put himself under the protection of God: he was offered guides that would conduct him to a place of safety.
« They remained in the castle with this determination until midnight; when don Pedro, accompanied by Fernando de Castro, and others of the eleven companions, set out. It was very dark. At this hour le Bégue de Villaines had the command of the watch, with upwards of three hundred men.
“Don Pedro quitted the castle with his companions, and was descending by an upper path, but so quietly that it did not appear as if any one was moving; however, the Bégue de Villaines, who had many suspicions, and was afraid of losing the object of his watch, imagined he heard the sound of