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the plan admitted. Mr Rose has indeed stated his pretensions so very modestly, that perhaps we are warranted in thinking, that a culpable degree of diffidence has prevented him from assuming a tone of poetry more decided and animated. “That the extract I now present to the public,” says Mr Rose, “is closely translated, I cannot venture to affirm. I have, I confess, attempted to introduce some of those trifling ornaments, which even the simplest style of, poetry imperiously demands, and have, in many instances, altered the arrangement, and very much contracted the narration of the original: I trust, however, that I shall not be convicted of having, in my trifling
deviations, introduced any thing which is at variance with the spirit or tone of the celebrated romance.”
With the alterations and abbreviations of Mr Rose we have not the most distant intention of quarrelling ; on the contrary we think, that his too close adherence to his original is the greatest defect in the book. Mr Rose was not engaged in translating a poem, but in composing one; the story of which was adopted from a prose work. We therefore do not conceive that he was obliged to limit himself to trifling ornaments, or to the very simplest style of poetry. Even in modernizing ancient poetry, and that, too, the poetry of Chaucer, containing no small portion of fire, Dryden thought himself at liberty to heighten and enlarge the descriptions of his great master. But in his versions from prose pieces, in the tale of Theodore and Honoria, for example, he borrowed from Boccacio only the outline of the story; the language, the conduct, and the sentiment, were all his own, and all in the highest strain of poetry. In like manner, we cannot see why Mr Rose should have thought himself obliged to follow in any respect the prose of Herberay, while he himself was writing poetry. We can easily conceive that a prose romance may be converted into a metrical romance or epic poem; but we cannot allow, that there ought to subsist betwixt two works, the style of which is so very different, the relations of a translation and an original work. In consequence of Mr Rose's plan, it appears to us that his poem has suffered some injury. The necessity of following out minutely the prose narrative, occasions an occasional languor in the poem, for which simple, and even elegant versification, does not atone. We will, however, frankly own, that the casual circumstance of having perused Mr Southey's prose work before the poem of Mr Rose may have had some influence upon our criticism; since our curiosity being completely forestalled, we may have felt a diminished interest in the latter from a cause not imputable to want of merit.
The avowed model upon which Mr Rose has framed his Amadis is the translation of Le Grand's Fabliaur by Mr Way; and it is but justice to state that, in our opinion, he has fully attained what he proposed. An easy flow of verse, partaking more of the school of Dryden than of Pope, and checkered, occasionally, with ancient words and terms of chivalry, seems well calculated for the narration of romance and legendary tale. The following passage is a successful imitation of Chaucer:—
“To tell, as meet, the costly feast's array,
We do not pretend to say, that Mr Rose's poetry is altogether free from the common-places of the time. Such lines occur as these:—
“Nearer and nearer bursts the deafening crash,
But if Mr Rose's plan prevented him from aspiring to the higher flights of poetry, he never, on the other hand, disgusts the reader by sinking into bathos. We are persuaded that the public would be interested in a modern version of some of our best metrical romances by Mr Rose. We are the more certain of this, because we have read the notes to Amadis with very great satisfaction. We pay them a very great compliment, indeed, when we say, that they resemble in lightness and elegance, though not in extent of information, those of George Ellis to Way's Fabliaux.
souTHEY’s CHRONICLE of THE CID.
[From the Quarterly Review, Feoruary, 1809.]
THE name of the Cid is best known to us by the celebrated tragedy of Corneille, founded on a circumstance which happened early in the champion's career, and which the Spanish compilers of his story do not dwell upon with any peculiar emphasis. Those who are deep read in Don Quixote may also recollect, that the Campeador and his great exploits against the Moors was one of the subjects that deranged the brain of the worthy knight of La Mancha. Few English or French literati know more of a hero as famous in Spain as Bertrand du Guesclin in France, Glendower in Wales, or Wallace in Scotland; yet have his achievements been recorded in the “letter blake,” and harped in many a hall and bower. “Desde Sevilla a Marchena, Desde Granada hasta Leja.” Mr Southey, to whom the fabulous heroes of Spain, her Amadis, and her Palmerin, have such obligations, has undertaken the same generous task in favour of the Cid, the real champion of a history scarcely less romantic than theirs. His work is not to be considered as the precise translation of any of the numerous histories of the Cid, but as a compilation of all that relates to him extracted from those several sources. First, a prose chronicle of the life and achievements of the Cid, printed in 1552 and 1593, which there is some reason to ascribe to Gil Diaz, a converted Moor, one of the Cid's most faithful followers. This is corrected and enlarged from a general chronicle of Spanish history. Secondly, a metrical legend, of which the Cid is the hero. This work, which fluctuates between history and romance, has a considerable degree of poetical merit, is the oldest poem in the Spanish language, and, in Mr Southey's judgment, decidedly and beyond all comparison the finest. Lastly, the translator has laid under contribution the popular ballads or romances which celebrated the feats of this renowned warrior—and were sung by minstrels, jongleurs, and glee-men, at places of festive resort. Mr Southey is not inclined to rank very highly either the authority or the antiquity of these songs, and has made little use of them in compiling his Chronicle. By these lights, however, he has guided the narrative through the following details. Rodrigo of Bivar, “a youth strong in arms and of good customs,” destined to protect his country from the Moors, was born at Burgos in the reign of King Ferrando of Castile, and in the year 1026.