« السابقةمتابعة »
"Tis hard to cay, if greater want of skill
But of the two, less dangerous is the offence
TO OUR READERS.
"A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada," is a title which very imperfectly explains the nature of the exceedingly handsome book before us. On seeing it announced, we were unable to make out whether we were to expect a
ting up of the LITERARY JOURNAL. These consist principally in the rejection of the lines formerly used, by which means we are enabled to add materially both to the breadth and length of our columns, and to give, we think, a lighter and less monotonous air to our pages. The quarto weekly periodicals have now very slightly the advantage of us in regard to the quantity of matter they contain, while they have all the disadvantage of being sold at a higher price.
OUR readers will perceive, that with our new type, which we this day beg to introduce to their favour, we have made one or two slight alterations and improvements in the get-piece of fiction, a history, or a mixture of both. The mixture of both comes nearest the truth. Taking for the basis of his work certain voluminous manuscripts left scattered, through different convent libraries in Spain, by a monk of the name of Antonio Agapida, (for the existence and authenticity of whose writings, we are, of course, willing to take Mr Irving's word,) he contrives to present us with a wellconnected and glowing narrative of the ten years' war, which commencing in 1748, terminated with the extinction of the Moorish dynasty in Spain. As we have a great deal to say in favour of this production, it may be as well to pave the way for our praise, by pointing out in the first place, what we feel to be its defects, although these, we are glad to say, are not numerous.
As to our future literary exertions, we can only say that we shall proceed as we have begun, anxiously studying to make each succeeding number better than its predecessor. In the critical department, whatever weight may be attached to our judgment, we are resolved that our opinions shall always be delivered faithfully and impartially; and we trust that we have already acquired some character upon this score. It is, upon all occasions, our most carnest desire to avoid falling into so serious an error as that to which Pope alludes, with his usual precision, in these lines ;
We have to remark, primo loco, that the "Chronicle" commences too abruptly. Had Mr Irving favoured us with a brief historical introduction for the purpose of tracing rapidly the leading events which had characterized the dominion of the Moors in Spain, beginning with their memorable victory over Roderick, on the banks of the Guadalete, nearly eight hundred years before their final overthrow, and including some short notices of the Ommeyades, the Almoravides, and other illustrious houses, and of the wars they had so frequently carried on against the Christians, he would have invested his subsequent details with greater inIt is now well known that our JOURNAL enjoys the con- terest than they are at present likely to possess for the getributions of many of the most eminent men of the day; neral reader, who is plunged at once in medias res, though and hoping that what has been already done may serve as in all probability sufficiently ignorant of the political and some guarantee for what we shall yet do, we have only to civil relations which had previously subsisted between the thank the public for the smiles they have so lavishly bestow-conclusion of his Chronicle, which ends nearly as abruptly two people. In like manner, our author errs towards the ed upon us, and repeat our assurance that we wish to be judged of not by our promises and intentions, but by our
as it begins, leaving the reader's curiosity only imperfectly sa-
In the war, whose incidents he describes, the Moors
were, in point of fact, the injured people, for a kingdom and country were wrested from them, to which conquest originally, and subsequent possession for many generations, had confirmed their title. They were, besides, an heroic and noble-minded race; and it is well known that their progress in civilization, aided as that had been by the reminiscences of their Eastern descent, was more rapid and efficient than that of their Spanish neighbours. We do not therefore like to think that a "Chronicle of Granada" should deny to its most distinguished possessors, the praise so justly due to them. One other objection, and we have done. There is a little too much monotony especially in the first volume, in the perpetual succes
A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada. From the
WASHINGTON IRVING's reputation in this country de
pends on his "Sketch Book." Neither his "Tales of a Traveller," nor his "Life of Columbus," have met with nearly so much success. There is a great deal of merit, however, though of different kinds, in both these works. Irving is not a very powerful or original thinker; but he possesses, to perfection, the art of expressing winning sentiments in graceful and elegant language. He has cultivated his taste in composition with almost Addisonian nicety; and he sails over the summer sea of prose rejoicing in the soft breezes that follow his track. Like his prototype, he perhaps sacrifices too much to the Graces; yet he is so full of refinement and polish, that it is not difficult to forgive him for being less masculine and nervous.
of forays, and rencounters, and petty engagements, and small military expeditions, which it describes. Some of these are highly interesting and full of romance, and as the work proceeds the operations become more important; but we cannot help regretting that the narrative is not more frequently relieved by incidents which would have broken in upon the interminable series of skirmishes, sieges, and battles, and which, in the glimpses they might have presented of the domestic manners of the times, would have afforded a profitable and agreeable variety. Mr Irving might easily have availed himself of the facilities afforded by his present residence in Spain, to achieve this additional object.
"The sentinels looked out from the watch-towers of
Loxa, along the valley of the Xenil, which passes through the mountains of Algaringo. They looked to behold the
As a whole, however, we have been very much charm-king returning in triumph, at the head of his shining
host, laden with the spoil of the unbeliever. They looked to behold the standard of their warlike idol, the fierce Ali Aten, borne by the chivalry of Loxa, ever foremost in the
wars of the border.
the Holy Land ;"-" How Queen Isabella took a view of the City of Granada, and how her curiosity cost the lives of many Christians and Moors ;" &c. &c.
It would not be difficult to select numerous passages, each more interesting, and displaying finer powers of writing, than the other; but we shall content ourselves with only two or three, leaving the reader to enjoy the rest of the work at his own best leisure. Chapter XVII. begins in the following simple and beautiful manner :—
ed with this work. The subject is a remarkably happy one; and its execution is worthy of the best days of chivalry. The Moors, who, in the time of their greatest glory, reigned masters over all Spain, had, in the decay of their power, gradually been deprived of territory after territory, till the kingdom of Granada alone remained. It remained, however, powerful and flourishing, and
there was not a Moor who did not feel towards it as a
father who has lost all his children save one, and who heaps upon the survivor the whole affections of his heart. And Granada was worthy of a patriot's love, with the tideless Mediterranean on its shores, with its green hills and majestic sierras, with its deep, rich, and verdant valleys, with its cities and their alhambras, and with an air so pure, and sky so serene, that the Moors believed the paradise of their prophet to be situated in that part of the heaven which overhung their kingdom. When, therefore, the ambition of Ferdinand and Isabella, who had united under one sceptre, the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Arragon, directed its attention to the conquest of Granada, it was no marvel that one of the fiercest and most anxiously contested wars took place that ever depopulated a country;-it was no marvel that every inch of ground was disputed, and that the Spaniards, animated by a desire to drive the infidels finally and for ever out of Spain, and the Mahometans, no less desirous of preserving a country and a name in Europe, should perform such prodigies of valour as had rarely been equalled, and have never been surpassed. These are the deeds which Mr Irving undertakes to recount, and he does so in a style such as becomes the author of the "Sketch Book," -flowing, graceful, and picturesque.
In the year 1478, a Spanish cavalier was dispatched by Ferdinand to the court of the Moorish sovereign, Muley Aben Hassan, to demand the tribute which it had been customary for his father to pay, but which the son had allowed to fall into arrear. When the Spaniard delivered his message, a haughty and bitter smile curled the lip of the fierce monarch. "Tell your sovereign," said he," that the kings of Granada, who used to pay tribute in money to the Castilian crown, are dead. Our mint at present coins nothing but blades of cimeters and heads of lances." The defiance thus boldly thrown down was the immediate prelude to the war of ten years. It is impossible for us to attempt following that war through all its various fortunes and chivalrous exploits; but a few of the titles to the different chapters, which are given in the quaint style of the old Spanish writers, will afford our We readers some notion of the nature of the contents.
meet with many such headings as these: How the
"How the people of Granada were affected on hearing of
"In the evening of the 21st of April, they descried a single horseman, urging his faltering steed along the banks of the river. As he drew near, they perceived, by the flash of arms, that he was a warrior; and, on nearer approach, by the richness of his armour, and the caparison of his steed, they knew him to be a warrior of rank. He reached Loxa faint and aghast; his Arabian courser coHaving vered with foam and dust and blood, panting and staggering with fatigue, and gashed with wounds. brought his master in safety, he sunk down and died before the gate of the city. The soldiers at the gate gathered round the cavalier, as he stood, mute and melancholy, by his expiring steed. They knew him to be the gallant Cidi Caleb, nephew of the chief alfaqui of the Albaycen of Granada. When the people of Loxa beheld this noble cavalier thus alone, haggard and dejected, their hearts were filled with fearful ferebodings. 'Cavalier,' said they, 'how fares it with the king and army?' He cast his hand mournfully towards the land of the Christians. 'There they lie!' exclaimed he: The heavens have
fallen upon them! all are lost! all dead!' Upon this there was a great cry of consternation among the people, and loud wailings of women; for the flower of the youth of Loxa were with the army. An old Moorish soldier, scarred in many a border battle, stood leaning on his lance by the gateway. Where is Ali Atar?' demanded he eagerly If he still live, the army cannot be lost!' "I saw his turban cloven by the Christian sword,' replied Cidi Caleb. 'His body is floating in the Xenil.' When the soldier heard these words, he smote his breast, and threw dust upon his head; for he was an old follower of Ali Atar. The noble Cidi Caleb gave himself no repose; but, mounting another steed, hastened to carry the disastrous tidings to Granada. As he passed through the villages and hamlets, he spread sorrow around; for their chosen men had followed the king to the wars.
"When he entered the gates of Granada, and announced the loss of the king and army, a voice of horror went throughout the city.
"Beautiful Granada!' they exclaimed, 'how is thy glory faded! The vivanambla no longer echoes to the tramp of steed and sound of trumpet; no longer is it crowded with the youthful nobles, eager to display their prowess in the tourney and the festal tilt of reeds. Alas! the flower of thy chivalry lies low in a foreign land! The soft note of the lute is no longer heard in thy mournful streets, the lively castanet is silent upon thy hills, and the graceful dance of the zambra is no more seen beneath thy bowers! Behold, the Alhambra is forlorn and desolate! In vain do the orange and myrtle breathe their perfumes into its silken chambers; in vain does the nightingale sing within its groves; in vain are its marble halls refreshed by the sound of fountains and the gush of limpid rills! Alas! the countenance of the king no longer shines within those halls; the light of the Alhambra is set for ever!"-Vol. i. pp. 163-9.
Our next extract is of a more spirit-stirring kind :—
THE DARING EXPLOITS OF A MOORISH AND A CHRISTIAN
THE FATE OF THE MOORISH CAVALIER.
"While this grim and reluctant tranquillity prevailed
"When the Moorish knights beheld that all courteous challenges were unavailing, they sought various means to provoke the Christian warriors to the field. Sometimes a body of them, fleetly mounted, would gallop up to the skirts of the camp, and try who should hurl his lance far-along the Christian line, there rose a mingled shout and thest within the barriers; leaving his name inscribed on sound of laughter near the gate of the city. A Moorish it, or a label affixed to it, containing some taunting defi- | horseman, armed at all points, issued forth, followed by ance. These bravadoes caused great irritation; but still a rabble, who drew back as he approached the scene of the Spanish warriors were restrained by the prohibition danger. The Moor was more robust and brawny than of the king. was common with his countrymen. His visor was closed; he bore a large buckler and ponderous lance; his cimeter was of a Damascus blade, and his richly ornamented dag
"Among the Moorish cavaliers was one named Tarfe, renowned for his great strength and daring spirit, but whose courage partook of fierce audacity rather than chi-ger was wrought by an artificer of Fez. He was known valric heroism. In one of these sallies, when they were by his device to be Tarfe, the most insolent, yet valiant, skirting the Christian camp, this arrogant Moor outstrip- of the Moslem warriors; the same who had hurled into ped his companions, overleaped the barriers, and, gallop- the royal camp his lance, inscribed to the queen. ing close to the royal quarters, launched his lance so far rode slowly along, in front of the army, his very steed, within, that it remained quivering in the earth, close by prancing with fiery eye and distended nostril, seemed to the pavilions of the sovereigns. The royal guards rush-breathe defiance to the Christians. But what were the ed forth in pursuit; but the Moorish horsemen were al- feelings of the Spanish cavaliers, when they beheld, tied ready beyond the camp, and scouring in a cloud of dust to the tail of his steed, and dragged in the dust, the very for the city. Upon wresting the lance from the earth, a inscription, Ave Maria, which Fernando Perez del Pullabel was found upon it, importing, that it was intended gar had affixed to the door of the mosque! A burst of for the queen. horror and indignation broke forth from the army. Fer"Nothing could equal the indignation of the Christian nando del Pulgar was not at hand to maintain his prewarriors at the insolence of the bravado, when they heard vious achievement, but one of his young companions in to whom the discourteous insult was offered. Fernando arms, Garcilasso de la Vega by name, putting spurs to Perez del Pulgar, surnamed 'he of the exploits,' was his horse, galloped to the hamlet of Zubia, threw himself present, and resolved not to be outbraved by this daring on his knees before the king, and besought permission to infidel. Who will stand by me,' said he, in an enter- accept the defiance of this insolent infidel, and to revenge prise of desperate peril? The Christian cavaliers well the insult offered to our blessed Lady. The request was knew the hair-brained valour of Del Pulgar; yet not one too pious to be refused; Garcilasso remounted his steed; hesitated to step forward. He chose fifteen companions, he closed his helmet, graced by four sable plumes; grasp. all men of powerful arm and dauntless heart. In the ed his buckler, of Flemish workmanship, and his lance, dead of the night he led them forth from the camp, and of matchless temper, and defied the haughty Moor in the approached the city cautiously, until he arrived at a post-midst of his career. A combat took place, in view of the ern gate, which opened upon the Darro, and was guard- two armies, and of the Castilian court. The Moor was ed by foot soldiers. The guards, little thinking of such powerful in wielding his weapons, and dexterous in an unwonted and partial attack, were for the most part managing his steed. He was of larger frame than Garasleep. The gate was forced, and a confused and chance- cilasso, and more completely armed; and the Christians medley skirmish ensued. Fernando del Pulgar stopped trembled for their champion. The shock of their ennot to take part in the affray. Putting spurs to his counter was dreadful; their lances were shivered, and horse, he galloped furiously through the streets, striking sent up splinters in the air. Garcilasso was thrown back fire out of the stones at every bound. Arrived at the in his saddle, and his horse made a wide career before he principal mosque, he sprang from his horse, and, kneel- could recover his position, gather up the reins, and return ing at the portal, took possession of the edifice as a Chris- to the conflict. They now encountered each other with tian chapel, dedicating it to the blessed Virgin. In tes- swords. The Moor circled round his opponent as a hawk timony of the ceremony, he took a tablet, which he had circles when about to make a swoop; his Arabian steed brought with him, on which was inscribed in large let- obeyed his rider with matchless quickness; at every attack ters, Ave Maria,' and nailed it to the door of the of the infidel, it seemed as if the Christian knight must mosque with his dagger. This done, he remounted his sink beneath his flashing cimeter. But if Garcilasso steed, and galloped back to the gate. The alarm had was inferior to him in power, he was superior in agility; been given; the city was in an uproar; soldiers were ga- many of his blows he parried, others he received on his thering from every direction. They were astonished at Flemish buckler, which was proof against the Damascus seeing a Christian warrior speeding from the interior of blade. The blood streamed from numerous wounds, rethe city. Fernando del Pulgar, overturning some, and ceived by either warrior. The Moor, seeing his anta cutting down others, rejoined his companions, who still gonist exhausted, availed himself of his superior force; maintained possession of the gate, by dint of hard fight- and, grappling, endeavoured to wrest him from his sading, and they all made good their retreat to the camp. dle. They both fell to the earth; the Moor placed his The Moors were at a loss to conjecture the meaning of knee on the breast of his victim, and, brandishing his this wild and apparently fruitless assault; but great was dagger, aimed a blow at his throat. A cry of despair their exasperation, when, on the following day, they dis- was uttered by the Christian warriors, when suddenly covered the trophy of hardihood and prowess, the Ave they beheld the Moor rolling lifeless in the dust! GarMaria, thus elevated in the very centre of the city. The cilasso had shortened his sword, and, as his adversary mosque, thus boldly sanctified by Fernando del Pulgar, raised his arm to strike, had pierced him to the heart. was eventually, after the capture of Granada, converted It was a singular and miraculous victory,' says Fray into a cathedral."-Vol. ii. pp. 327-30. Antonio Agapida; but the Christian knight was armed by the sacred nature of his cause, and the holy Virgin gave him strength, like another David, to slay this gigantic champion of the Gentiles.""-Vol. ii. pp. 335-38.
The matter did not end here. Shortly afterwards, Isabella rode out from the camp to take a nearer view of the town of Granada. She was attended by a retinue of knights, who had the strictest orders not to leave her side under any circumstances. Many Moorish horsemen came galloping towards them, brandishing their lances
and cimeters, and defying them to single combat, which they found themselves most unwillingly obliged to decline. The "Chronicle" then proceeds thus:
We have room for only one extract more. It describes, in moving and eloquent terms, the departure of Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, together with his fa
mily, from that splendid palace which his forefathers had built, and which stood in the midst of that princely city he was never again to revisit :
"It was a night of doleful lamentings within the walls of the Alhambra, for the household of Boabdil were preparing to take a last farewell of that delightful abode. All the royal treasures, and the most precious effects of the Alhambra, were hastily packed upon mules; the beautiful apartments were despoiled, with tears and wailings, by their own inhabitants. Before the dawn of day, a mournful cavalcade moved obscurely out of a postern gate of the Alhambra, and departed through one of the most retired quarters of the city. It was composed of the family of the unfortunate Boabdil, whom he sent off thus privately that they might not be exposed to the eyes of scoffers, or the exultation of the enemy. The mother of Boabdil, the Sultana Ayxa la Horra, rode on in silence, with dejected yet dignified demeanour; but his wife, Zorayma, and all the females of his household, gave way to loud lamentations, as they gave a last look to their favourite abode, now a mass of gloomy towers behind them. They were attended by the ancient domestics of the household, and by a small guard of veteran Moors, loyally attached to the fallen monarch, and who would have sold their lives dearly in defence of his family. The city was yet buried in sleep, as they passed through its silent streets. The guards at the gate shed tears as they opened it for their departure. They tarried not, but proceeded along the banks of the Xenil, on the road that leads to the Alpuxarias, until they arrived at a hamlet, at some distance from the city, where they halted, and waited until they should be joined by King Boabdil.
Trials and other Proceedings in Matters Criminal before the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland; Selected from the Records of that Court, and from Original Manuscripts preserved in the General Register House, Edinburgh. By Robert Pitcairn, W.S. Part I., from the commencement of the reign of King James VI., to July 22, 1590. Edinburgh: published by William Tait, and by John Stevenson. London: by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, and by John Cochran. 1829.
This hill, from which Boabdil looked back, for the last time, on fair Granada, is still known in Spain by the poetical name of El ultimo suspiro del Moro, or " the last sigh of the Moor."
THERE are two very different classes of readers who find pleasure in perusing the records of a criminal court. The mere lover of the interesting or the horrible, who runs over their contents as he would the Mysteries of Udolpho, looks merely to the tale, the truth or falsehood of which it is the object of the proceedings to elicit, and his pleasure is derived from the shuddering interest all feel in the story of fierce passion and crime, heightened occasionally, and rendered more piquant, by the naive manner in which a witness may deliver his evidence. The student of man and society, however, finds in such pages a wide field for deep reflection. The very forms of judicial procedure-the mere abstract canvassing of points of law, interest him; for, in following them out through a lapse of years, he sees how the principles of justice, at first vaguely conceived, become more and more distinctly apprehended; how gradually a comprehensive and consistent system emerges out of a few apparently unconnected rules; and how long practice gives fitness In and efficiency to the institutions for enforcing law. the deeds which are submitted to the investigation of the court, in the bearing of the perpetrators, nay, in the manner in which the witnesses, subject to bias and misapprehension, vary and perplex the tale, he learns to know the human heart in all its waywardness. It is this that makes the law of a nation, and particularly that part of its law which takes cognizance of crime, one of the most instructive chapters in its history.
The present number of the work, the name of which we have transcribed above, will be found possessed of comparatively few attractions for the former class of readers. It is more likely to be rightly appreciated by the latter, who, devoted to historical research, and the study of human nature, know how to value every piece of additional authentic information, completing with it the knowledge of some point which they had already acquired, or storing it up, broken and fragmentary as it is, in the hope, at some future period, to be able to reunite it to the mass from Even to this class, the which it has been shivered. work may possibly not yet appear so valuable as it will hereafter prove, when eked out by the selections from the earlier part of the records, which we are told, in the Pro
"Having rejoined his family, Boabdil set forward with a heavy heart for his allotted residence, in the valley of Porchena. At two leagues distance, the cavalcade, winding into the skirts of the Alpuxarias, ascended an emiAs they nence commanding the last view of Granada. arrived at this spot, the Moors paused involuntarily, to take a farewell gaze at their beloved city, which a few Never steps more would shut from their sight for ever. had it appeared so lovely in their eyes. The sunshine, so bright in that transparent climate, lighted up each tower and minaret, and rested gloriously upon the crowning battlements of the Alhambra; while the vega spread its enamelled bosom of verdure below, glistening with the silver windings of the Xenil. The Moorish cavaliers gazed with a silent agony of tenderness and grief upon that delicious abode, the scene of their loves and pleasures. While they yet looked, a light cloud of smoke burst forth from the citadel; and presently a peal of artillery, faintly heard, told that the city was taken possession of, and the throne of the Moslem kings was lost forever. The heart of Boabdil, softened by misfortunes, and overcharged with grief, could no longer contain itself, Allah achbar!spectus, are to follow. God is great!' said he; but the words of resignation died upon his lips, and he burst into a flood of tears."-Vol. ii. p. 372.
To those who love to dwell on all that is brilliant and chivalrous, and to whom the glories of the old days present a theme for rich and splendid thought, to those who love to study the romance of real life, and to forget their own misfortunes in the far more startling reverses with which the men of forgotten generations were familiarized, to those who love to see the tedious details of history woven into a narrative, which, in many respects, rivals in interest the most cunningly devised fable, we heartily recommend Washington Irving's "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada."
Part I. contains the proceedings before the Court of Justiciary in Scotland, during the stormy period which intervened between the accession of James VI. to the Scottish throne, and his return from Denmark with his Queen in 1590. We must confess that we have not received so much information respecting the principles of law which dictated the decisions of the Court, or respecting the forms which it observed, as we had anticipated. We are not quite certain whether the Editor be altogether free of blame for this. It is true, as he tells us in the preface, that the "Books of Adjournal" must have been very carelessly kept during the period which it embraces; that the proceedings are often recorded" in a very brief and unsatisfactory manner;" and that, in many instances, the minute books alone have been preserved. It is likewise true, that there is strong ground of suspicion, that in some instances portions of the Record have been suppressed by one or other of the prevailing factions. At the same time he confesses, that along with the minute books, "the dittays, evidence of witnesses, and other productions," have been preserved. It