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LAST OF HIS BATTLES. 431
kisses his heroic daughter, and expires. The concluding lines are full of force and tenderness.
“When from her father's body she arose,
The Last Book describes the recognition and exploits of Roderick in the last of his battles. After the revolt of Julian's army, Orpas, by whose counsels it had been chiefly occasioned, is sent forward by the Moorish leader, to try to win them back; and advances in front of the line, demanding a parley, mounted on the beautiful Orelio, the famous war horse of Roderick, who, roused at that sight, obtains leave from Pelayo to give the renegade his answer; and after pouring out upon him some words of abuse and scorn, seizes the reins of his trusty steed; and
—— “‘How now," he cried,
He then vaults upon the noble horse; and fitting Count Julian's sword to his grasp, rushes in the van of the Christian army into the thick array of the Infidel, —where, unarmed as he is, and clothed in his penitential robes of waving black, he scatters death and terror around him, and cuts his way clean through the whole host of his opponents. He there descries the army of Pelayo advancing to co-operate; and as he rides up to them
432 souTHEY — RodeRICK AND VICTORY |
with his wonted royal air and gesture, and on his wellknown steed of royalty, both the King and Siverian are instantaneously struck with the apparition; and marvel that the weeds of penitence should so long have concealed their sovereign. Roderick, unconscious of this recognition, briefly informs them of what has befallen, and requests the honourable rights of Christian sepulture for the unfortunate Julian and his daughter.
“‘In this, – and all things else,'—
He then borrows the defensive armour of this faithful servant; and taking a touching and affectionate leave of him, vaults again on the back of Orelio; and placing himself without explanation in the van of the army, leads them on to the instant assault. The renegade leaders fall on all sides beneath his resistless blows.
“And in the heat of fight
“O'er the field it spread,
THE CONCLUSION. 433
Mountains, and rocks, and vales, re-echo'd round;
The carnage at length is over, and the field is won 1 —but where is he to whose name and example the victory is owing
“Upon the banks
Days, months, and years, and generations pass'd,
These copious extracts must have settled our readers' opinion of this poem; and though they are certainly taken from the better parts of it, we have no wish to disturb the forcible impression which they must have on the means of producing. Its chief fault undoubtedly is the monotony of its tragic and solemn tone— the perpetual gloom with which all its scenes are over"ast–and the tediousness with which some of them are "eveloped. There are many dull passages, in short, and * Considerable quantity of heavy reading — some silli"Ss, and a good deal of affectation. But the beauties,
"Pon the whole, preponderate; — and these, we hope, WOL. II. F F
434 SOUTHEY — SOME FAULTS OF DICTION.
speak for themselves in the passages we have already extracted. The versification is smooth and melodious, though too uniformly drawn out into a long and linked sweetness. The diction is as usual more remarkable for copiousness than force;— and though less defaced than formerly with phrases of affected simplicity and infantine pathos, is still too much speckled with strange words; which, whether they are old or new, are not English at the present day—and we hope never will become so. What use or ornament does Mr. Southey expect to derive for his poetry from such words as avid and aureate, and auriphrygiate 2 or leman and weedery, frequentage and Ayouthhead, and twenty more as pedantic and affected? What good is there either, we should like to know, in talking of “oaken galilees,” or “incarnadined poitrals,” or “all-able Providence,” and such other points of learning' – If poetry is intended for general delight, ought not its language to be generally intelligible :
LORD BYRON's PoETRY. 435
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Third. By Lord ByRoN. 8vo. pp. 79. Iondon: 1816.
The Prisoner of Chillon, and other Poems. By Lord ByRoN. 8vo. pp. 60. London: 1816. *
If the finest poetry be that which leaves the deepest impression on the minds of its readers — and this is not the worst test of its excellence — Lord Byron, we think, must be allowed to take precedence of all his distinguished contemporaries. He has not the variety of Scott-nor the delicacy of Campbell–nor the absolute truth of Crabbe – nor the polished sparkling of Moore; but in force of diction, and inextinguishable energy of sentiment, he clearly surpasses them all. “Words that breathe, and thoughts that burn,” are not merely the ornaments, but the common staple of his poetry; and he is not inspired or impressive only in some happy pasSages, but through the whole body and tissue of his composition. It was an unavoidable condition, perhaps, of this higher excellence, that his scene should be narrow, and his persons few. To compass such ends as he had in view, it was necessary to reject all ordinary agents, and all trivial combinations. He could not possibly be amusing, or ingenious, or playful; or hope to maintain the requisite pitch of interest by the recitation of Sprightly adventures, or the opposition of common
* I have already said so much of Lord Byron with reference to his Dramatic productions, that I cannot now afford to republish more than one other paper, on the subject of his Poetry in general: And I select this, rather because it refers to a greater variety of these compositions, than because it deals with such as are either absolutely the best, or the most characteristic of his genius. The truth is, however, that all his Writings are characteristic; and lead, pretty much alike, to those Views of the dark and the bright parts of his nature, which have led *I fear (though almost irresistibly), into observations more personal "the character of the author, than should generally be permitted to a mere literary censor.