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His father Diego Laynez, chief of the noble house, had received a blow from the Count Don Gomez, the Lord of Gormaz. The consequences are described in a picturesque manner, and form a good specimen of this singular narrative.
“Now Diego was a man in years, and his strength had passed from him, so that he could not take vengeance, and he retired to his home, to dwell there in solitude, and lament over his dishonour. And he took no pleasure in his food, neither could he sleep by night, nor would he lift up his eyes from the ground, nor stir out of his house, nor commune with his friends, but turned from them in silence, as if the breath of his shame would taint them. Rodrigo was yet but a youth, and the count was a mighty man in arms, one who gave his voice first in the Cortes, and was held to be the best in the war, and so powerful, that he had a thousand friends among the mountains. Howbeit all these things appeared as nothing to Rodrigo when he thought of the wrong done to his father, the first which had ever been offered to the blood of Layn Calvo. He asked nothing but justice of Heaven, and of man he asked only a fair field; and his father seeing of how good heart he was, gave him his sword and his blessing. The sword had been the sword of Mudarra in former times, and when Rodrigo held its cross in his hand, he thought within himself that his arm was not weaker than Mudarra's. And he went out, and defied the count, and slew him, and smote off his head, and carried it home to his father. The old man was sitting at table, the food lying before him untasted, when Rodrigo returned, and pointing to the head which hung from the horse's collar, dropping blood, he bade him look up, for there was the herb which should restore to him his appetite : the tongue, quoth he, which insulted you is no longer a tongue, and the hand which wronged you is no longer a hand. And the old man arose and embraced his son, and placed him above him at the table, saying, that he who had brought home that head should be the head of the house of Layn Calvo.”—P. 3.
This prosperous commencement was followed by a victory which Rodrigo obtained over five of the Moorish petty princes, who had allied themselves to spoil the country of Castile. Their defeat was so complete, that they submitted to be in future the vassals of the victor. About the same time Ximena Gomez, daughter of the count (the Chimene of Corneille), came before the King, and having stated that Rodrigo had slain her father, prayed his Majesty to command him to make atonement by taking her to wife, “for God's service, and that she might be enabled to grant him her hearty pardon.” Neither the King nor Rodrigo felt a desire to resist so singular a request, and the marriage was concluded accordingly. We cannot stop to relate how Rodrigo displayed his charity by plucking a foul leper out of a morass, and placing him at his own table, and how the leper proved to be no less a person than St Lazarus, who had thus disguised himself to prove the young warrior's love of God and his neighbour; nor can we marrate his single combat with Martin Gonzales, nor those repeated conquests over the Moors, which caused him to be distinguished among the vanquished by the name of El Cid, or THE LoRD, a title which he afterwards made so famous in history. While his fame was rapidly advancing, the kingdom of Castile was convulsed with civil war. The King Don Ferrando had died, leaving three sons and one daughter, among whom, with the usual impolicy of the times, he attempted to divide his dominions. But the kings of Spain were of the blood of the Goths, which is emphatically said to be a fierce blood; and certainly no history, except
ing that of the heaven-abandoned Jews, is stained with more murders, conspiracies, and unnatural civil broils. The Cid was among the subjects of Castile, whose fealty descended to the eldest son, Don Sancho, and he had no small part in the wars which that monarch made upon his brethren, Garcia and Alfonzo. When Sancho had dethroned and imprisoned both his younger brothers, he forced Alfonzo to become a monk, but he escaped from his convent, and fled to the Moors of Toledo, who received him with great hospitality. Mean while, Sancho resolved to deprive his sister Urraca of the city and dependencies of Zamora, which the King, her father, had bequeathed to her. And it was while besieging this city that he was treacherously slain by one of her adherents, who pretended to desert to his party. This gave occasion to one of those scenes which illustrate the singular manners of the age. It was resolved in the camp of the deceased monarch that the town of Zamora should be impeached for the treason committed, and for having received the traitor within her gates after the perpetration of the murder. The task of denouncing it devolved upon Diego Ordonez, a right good and noble warrior; for the Cid, who might otherwise have been expected to be foremost in the revenge of his master's death, had uniformly refused to bear arms against Donna Urraca, because they had been brought up together, and he remembered “the days that were past.” Diego Ordonez came before the walls fully armed, and having
summoned to the battlements Arias Gonzalo, who commanded the city for Urraca, he pronounced this celebrated impeachment in the following words:– “The Castilians have lost their Lord ; the traitor Wellido slew him, being his vassal, and ye of Zamora have received Wellido and harboured him within your walls. Now therefore I say that he is a traitor who hath a traitor with him, if he knoweth and consenteth unto the treason. And for this I impeach the people of Zamora, the great as well as the little, the living and the dead, they who now are and they who are yet unborn ; and I impeach the waters which they drink and the garments which they put on; their bread and their wine, and the very stones in their walls. If there be any one in Zamora to gainsay what I have said, I will do battle with him, and with God's pleasure conquer him, so that the infamy shall remain upon you."—P. 75.
In answer to this defiance, Gonzalo informed the champion, with great composure, that perhaps he was not aware of the law of arms in the case of impeachment of a council; which provided that the accuser should contend not with one only, but with five champions of the community successively, and his accusation was only held true if he retired victorious from this unequal contest. Ordonez, though somewhat disconcerted at this point of military law, which was confirmed by twelve alcaldes, chosen on each side, was under the necessity of maintaining his impeachment. Gonzalo, on the other hand, having first ascertained that none of the people of Zamora had been privy to the treason, resolved, that he himself and his four sons would fight in their behalf. With difficulty he is prevailed upon, by the tears and intreaties of Urraca, to let his sons first try their fortune. One of them enters the lists after his father had armed, instructed, and blessed
VOL. XVIII. D
him. The youth is slain in the conflict; and the victor calls aloud, “ Don Arias, send me another son, for this one will never fulfil your bidding.” He then retires from the lists to change his horse and arms, and to refresh himself with three sops of bread and a draught of wine, agreeably to the rules of combat. The second son of Gonzalo enters the lists, and is also slain. Ordonez then lays his hand on the bar, and exclaims, “Send me another son, Don Arias, for I have conquered two, thanks be to God!” Rodrigo Arias, the eldest and strongest of the brethren, then encounters the challenger, and in the exchange of two desperate blows he receives a mortal wound; while, at the same time, the horse of Ordonez, also wounded, runs out of the lists with his rider. This was a nice point of the duello; for, on the one hand, the challenger had combated and vanquished his enemy; on the other, he had himself, however involuntarily, been forced out of the lists; which was such a mark of absolute defeat that even death was not held so strong. And there is a Spanish story of a duel, in which the defendant slew the challenged party; but the defunct being very corpulent and heavily armed, the victor was unable to heave him over the palisade, and after labouring the whole day to no purpose, was at sunset very rationally held to be convicted of the treason of which he had been accused; because he could not give the necessary and indispensable proof that he had vanquished the accuser. The judges of the field, in the impeachment of Zamora, did not choose positively to decide so nice a dependence. It would