Page images

be probably doing those worthy alcaldes injustice to suppose, that they were moved with compassion either for the challenger, who had still such an unequal contest before him, or for Don Arias, who having lost three of his children, was to risk his own life with that of his remaining son. But whether from unwonted feelings of pity, or because the case could not be judged, they held the third combat to be a drawn battle, and would not allow Ordonez to proceed in his accusation. Thus Don Arias, at the expense of the lives of his three gallant sons, delivered from impeachment the people of Zamora, born and unborn, living and dead, past, present, and to come, together with their waters, their food, their garments, and the stones of their battlements. It would have been, no doubt, as easy to have delivered up the murderer, whose act both parties agreed in condemning ; but it is not the least fantastical part of the story, that he was suffered to elude all punishment, excepting that the Chronicle assures us he could not escape it in hell, “where he is tormented with Dathan and Abiram, and with Judas the traitor, for ever and ever.” While this scene was passing before Zamora, Alfonso, the remaining brother of the deceased Sancho, received the news of his murder; and resolved immediately to quit Toledo, where he was the guest of the Moorish monarch, Alimaymon, in order to take possession of the kingdom of Castile, to which he was now sole heir. That monarch had already heard a rumour of Sancho's death, and posted guards in the passage to prevent his guest,

now become a hostage of importance, from departing without his leave. But when Alfonso boldly and openly requested his license to return to Castile, the generous Moslem answered,— “I thank God, Alfonso, that thou hast told me of thy wish to go into thine own country; for in this thou hast dealt loyally by me, and saved me from that which might else have happened, to which the Moors have always importuned me. And hadst thou departed privily thou couldst not have escaped being slain, on taken. Now, then, go and take thy kingdom; and I will give thee whatever thou hast need of to give to thine own people, and win their hearts that they may serve thee.”—P. 85.

He then requested him to swear friendship to himself and his sons; but in enumerating them, he “had a grandson whom he dearly loved, who was not named in the oath, and therefore Don Alfonso was not bound to keep it towards him.” And the historian records it as a high instance of generosity, that Alfonso, was so far from taking advantage of this omission, that, on a future occasion, when Alimaymon was as much in his power as he had been in Alimaymon's, he compelled the Moor to release him from the oath, but only that he might take it again fully, freely, and with all solemnity. When King Alfonso arrived in his kingdom, he found that many of his nobility, but especially the Cid, nourished a suspicion that he had been in some sort accessory to the murder of his brother Sancho. To purge himself of this guilt, the king and twelve knights as his compurgators, made oath of his innocence, upon the Gospels in the church of St Gadea, at Burgos. The Cid administered the oath with a rigour which implied the strength of his suspicions; and the following is the account of the manner in which the King was obliged to exculpate himself in the face of his people.

“And the King came forward upon a high stage, that all the people might see him, and my Cid came to him to receive the oath; and my Cid took the book of the Gospels and opened it, and laid it upon the altar, and the King laid his hands upon it, and the Cid said unto him, “King Don Alfonso, you come here to swear concerning the death of King Don Sancho, your brother, that you neither slew him nor took counsel for his death; say now you, and these hidalgos, if ye swear this.’ And the King and the hidalgos answered and said, ‘Yea, we swear it.” And the Cid said, “If ye knew of this thing, or gave command that it should be done, may you die even such a death as your brother the King Don Sancho, by the hand of a villain whom you trust; one who is not a hidalgo, from another land, not a Castilian; and the King and the knights who were with him said Amen. And the King's colour changed; and the Cid repeated the oath unto him a second time, and the King and the twelve knights said Amen to it in like manner, and in like manner the countenance of the King was changed again. And my Cid repeated the oath unto him a third time, and the King and the knights said Amen; but the wrath of the King was exceeding great, and he said to the Cid, “Ruydiez, why dost thou thus press me, man? To-day thou swearest me, and to-morrow thou wilt kiss my hand.” And from that day forward there was no love towards my Cid in the heart of the King.”—P. 88.

The Castilian monarch having this offence deeply engraved in his remembrance, took the first occasion which offered, to banish the Cid from his dominions, on pretence of some incursions which he had made on the friendly Moors of Toledo. The Cid then assembled the relations, vassals, and retainers, whom his influence or high military reputation had attached to his person, and resolved at their head to leave Castile, and subsist by a predatory war upon the Moors.

“And as he was about to depart, he looked back upon his own home, and when he saw his hall deserted, the household chests unfastened, the doors open, no cloaks hanging up, no seats in the porch, no hawks upon the perches, the tears came into his eyes, and he said “My enemies have done this. God be praised for all things.' And he turned toward the East, and knelt and said, “Holy Mary Mother, and all Saints, pray to God for me, that he may give me strength to destroy all the Pagans, and to win enough from them to requite my friends therewith, and all those who follow and help me.’”—P. 97.

In passing through Burgos, no one dared to receive him into his house, the King having given strict command to the contrary; and such sorrow had the Christian people at obeying these severe injunctions, that they durst not look upon the champion as he rode through the solitary streets of their city. When he came to his posada, or hotel, and struck against the door with his foot, none made answer but a little girl of nine years old, who informed him of the King's command. He turned in silence from the door of the inn, rode to the church of St Mary, where “he kneeled down, and prayed with all his heart,” and then encamped with his retinue on the sands near the city. There is something very striking in this picture—the silence with which the Cid receives his unjust sentence—the dignity with which he contemns the mean effort of the King to increase his distress and embarrassment;—the desolate state to which the city is reduced by the fear and pity of the inhabitants at his approach—the military train slowly parading its streets, and seeking in vain for hospitality or repose;—the swelling heart of the leader venting itself in devotion, when he saw every

house, but that of God, shut against him, are all beautiful and affecting circumstances. The next scene is of a very different nature, yet equally curious. The Cid, like other great persons, setting out upon travel, was in great want of money to maintain his followers. And now we venture to supply an incident from the romances, which, though characteristic, Mr Southey has omitted. We copy it from a slip-shod translation, which we happen to possess, and which may serve for a sample of these ballads.

“When the Cid, the Campeador
(Of his life may God take care),
With three hundred pennon'd warriors
Forth of good Castile would fare;
Nor the champion, nor his lady,
Had of treasure, coin, or rent,
Even a single maravedi;
All in war and wassaill spent.

Then Ximene took off her garland,
Glittering like the stars of heaven,
Deck'd with gems from Eastern far land,
Which the Moorish Kings had given;
Take then this, my Roderigo;
Pledged in wealthy merchant's hand,
'Twill supply thee gold, while we go
Wanderers far in foreign land.”

Sola and her little sister,
Daughters of the noble Cid,
When they saw the chaplet's glister
Taken from their mother's head,
Wept to part with such gay jewel,
Clamour'd loud around Ximene;
“Must such garland, O, how cruel,
From our mother dear be ta'en 2'

« PreviousContinue »