« ZurückWeiter »
the press, and now,—the world is ceasing to inquire what they are doing.
No room remains for remarks on the measures of our government, relating to the vast preparations and armies professedly intended for the assistance of Spain; what is worse, we have no room for adding many remarks on the book which has given occasion to this article.
The Cid (i.e. Lord) Rodrigo Diaz was a most renowned hero, of the eleventh century, who was sometimes in the service of the Christian monarch of Spain, and sometimes maintained himself independent in his conquests from the Moorish part of the country. There are several ancient records, and an epic poem, concerning him, in the Spanish language ; Mr. Southey has formed the present work, by combining and harmonising the several relations together, faithfully translating, as he assures us, what he has selected from each, and noting, in the margin of each paragraph, the work, and the part of the work from which it is taken. The translation is in the antiquated English dialect, which appears to us to be, in general, pretty successfully supported.
The story is something between a history and a romance; and Mr. Southey has not attempted to distinguish what is true from what is fabulous; the Spanish literature evidently supplied no means for doing this, nor would it have been worth while, had it been practicable, as the fabulous parts are probably quite as amusing as the true, and give as striking a picture of the times. In this view the work is very interesting. We are transported into an age and country, where the gentl men go out to work in the morning, with their steeds and lances, as regularly as the farmers with their team and plough, and indeed, a good deal more so. The Cid surpasses all his contemporaries for diligence and success in such laudable occupation. His course of enterprise is so rapid, so uniformly successful, and so much of a piece in other respects, that in some parts of the book the mind is quite tired of following him. In many
other parts, however, the narrative is eminently striking, especially in describing some of the single combats, and most of all, in the long account of an extraordinary court of justice, held on two young princes or noblemen, who had abused their wives, the daughters of the Cid. Nothing in the whole library of romantic history can exceed this narrative. The Cid appears a humane warrior, according to the standard of those times, and yet he could calmly be guilty of the most infernal cruelties; for instance, burning alive many Moors, in the siege of Valencia. The destruction of “ infidels,” indeed, in any and every manner, seems to have been regarded as one of the noblest exercises of Christian virtue. Three or four of his constant companions in arms display such magnanimous bravery, and such an affectionate fidelity to him, as to excite the reader's interest and partiality in no small degree. A prominent feature of the story throughout, is the frequent recurrence of religious and superstitious ideas, in the discourse of the warriors, in all situations.
Strictures on Subjects chiefly relating to the Established Religion and the
Clergy; in Two Letters to his Patron from a Country Clergyman. By the Rev. JOSIAH THOMAS, M.A., Rector of Street-cum-Walton,
Somerset. 8vo. High Church Claims exposed, and the Protestant Dissenters and Metho
dists vindicated ; or Free Remarks on a Pamphlet entitled Strictures, &c. In a Letter to the Author, by a Layman. 8vo.
A WORTHY country clergyman, in suddenly awaking as it should seem from a dream, in which he had beheld a dreadful assault made, or just on the point of being made, on the Established Church, has raised, naturally enough in such a moment, a very violent outcry. man, however, can be held strictly responsible for any expressions he may utter just at the instant of awaking in a fright, and as we can have no doubt he is long before this time restored to tranquillity, though not without some remaining sense of mortification at having been betrayed into such an indecorum, it cannot be necessary for us to employ much time in commenting on the expressions of terror that involuntarily escaped him.
If indeed we could have supposed the person who was visited with this terror, and who uttered these outcries, to be really at the time broad awake, and sitting in full daylight in his parsonage-house, we might have deemed it not amiss to divert for a little while from the graver matters of our profession, to make a remark or two on so odd a circumstance. Our first suggestion would have been due to this Mr. Thomas himself, in the way of friendly hint to his discretion, that, in case the fit of terror should return upon him, (possibly the identical evil spirit that haunted Saul has condescended to so much humbler an appointment)—he had better make an effort not to let his cries be quite so loud and public. It would be well if at such a moment he could have self-possession enough to consider, that other people, not participating in the misfortune bequeathed to him by the king of Israel, will feel but little sympathy with his emotions. We indeed might be always ready, like that most gentle shepherd, the son of Jesse, to take the harp and play him a “ ditty of comfort,” as we hope to do in the present instance; but we would softly admonish him not to expect such benevolence from any other quarter. For making this one disturbance, perhaps, the members of the establishment in general may be willing to laugh at him and forgive him ; but he will certainly provoke their indignation, if he should again, by such an idle and noisy alarm, interrupt them in their business, their studies, or their pastoral vocations.
If this reverend gentleman has really been so unfortunate as to fall under the calamity which we have ventured to surmise, it must be obvious that his being subject to such gloomy and spectral visitations, will sufficiently account for his being unable to see any thing but omens, and to pronounce any thing but vaticinations, of evil; and will furnish a good reason why nothing he utters should be either depended on or wondered at. Or if this his afflictive privilege of second sight is put out of view, and the reasonableness of his alarms and prognostics is judged of from a calm consideration of the matters in question, the friends of the church will soon decide what degree of regard is due to his forebodings, threatenings, and lamentations. We
presume they cannot want to hear any more about the man, when they are informed, that it is chiefly (as far as we have been favoured to understand him) in the pious and useful labours of the Wesleyan Methodists, that he foresees the speedy destruction of our church ; an establishment which has, even from antiquity and prescription, an exceedingly strong hold on the general popular mind, which has in its service the main share of the learning of the nation, which commands millions of revenue, which is an integral part of the constitution, and is supported by the whole power of the state with which it is inseparably combined, which has formidable courts however of its own, which has the king for its head, and almost the whole of the nobility, and the vast majority of the other wealthy and polished classes of society, for its faithful adherents! And, more than all this mighty assemblage of advantages and securities, the clergy of this church, with an extremely few exceptions, are, even according to Mr. Thomas's own account, (which we can the more readily admit, as he seems disposed to make the worst of every thing affecting the prospects of the church) eminently pious, and moral, and indefatigable. Yet all these things, notwithstanding, this venerable, learned, wealthy, pious, and more than trebly fortified establishment, has not, as we are now given to understand, the smallest chance, without the assistance of some strong and new measures of coercion, of maintaining itself against the ram's horns, (not battering rams, courteous reader,) of the Methodist preachers ;-on whom every form of contempt and contumely is nevertheless at the same time exhausted, on whom all the epithets expressive of meanness, ignorance, and insignificance are lavished, throughout this learned gentleman's performance. we be fated to hear next? It appears to us that the manifestation of the celebrated prophet, Richard Brothers, infected a portion of our nation with a silly credulity which has never been entirely expelled : for since that time a succession of men, not altogether devoid of sense and information, have been found gravely uttering, on a variety of subjects, the most ridiculously extravagant predictions; and entertaining no juster ideas of the relation between causes and effects than to foresee, some of them the downfall of the Christian state in the east, and some of them the downfall of the Christian church at home, from a continuance of the benevolent efforts of preachers in the two quarters to persuade the people into Christianity and all its attendant moral virtues.