Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[graphic]

system adopted by a government which professed itself generally friendly to the abolition ; unanimously the patrons of religion and social order; and altogether chivalrous in the cause of oppreffed princes, and exiled nobles. Unhappily, not they, and not even the enemy whom they encouraged in his African traffic, but their own countrymen, have reaped the reward of so much inconsistency

so much shortfighted rapacity—such sneaking froin the performance of their duty-and skulking behind the established prejudices of the mercantile mob. But, whatever the country may have hereafter to pay for the calamities which are now oppressing the West Indian body, let us never forget that the creatures of the slave trade are they who now solicit relief from the calamities which it has entailed upon them; and, as often as their tale is told, while it excites our compassion, let it also keep alive the memory of that long reign of impolicy and contradictions, to which England and Europe, as well as the other parts of the world, owe so many of their present afflictions.

ART. VIII. Partenopex of Blois; a Romance : Freely translat

ed from the French of M. Le Grand, with Notes. By William Stewart Rose. 4to. London. 1808.

TF critics could be prepossessed by the external beauty of a book,

we should perhaps speak too favourably of this work. But we are past all gallantry of that kind. The whiteness, firmness, and purity of paper,-the strength and rotundity of types,-the breadth of margins, --even the attractions of coloured engraving, we can behold with equanimity-Integri laudamus; and if the author has sent his poeni into the world with all these arts of fascination, in imitation of those fair suitors of whom he has read in romance, to smooth the wrinkled brow of criticism, we must tell him, that, to us, he might as well have offered base gold, or even his annual buck (see p. 200.) from the New Forest.

Yet we cannot pass without notice, the engravings from designs by Mr Richard Smirke, which decorate this elegant volume. For these, Mr Rose claims the praise of exhibiting 'a faithful picture of the scenery and habits of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the result of much industry and faithful observation.' We believe this to be perfectly well deserved. They are strictly according to the costume of those times; and free from that mixture of arms, dresses, and styles of architecture, which generally prevails in the drawings of undistinguishing artists. Considered in this light, they not only adorn, but illustrate the poem ; and may Þe strikingly contrasted with those contemptible blots in aqu D : 3

[graphic]
[graphic]

venged themselves on the monks. Among the vulgar, we suspect the feats of Beelzebub to have been the most popular. But, in the court and the castle, it was quite the contrary : the romances were full of pageants and tournaments, of chivalrous lore and warfare ; and the terrors of enchantment were always of a kind that yielded to valour and fortune : whereas the religious legends were apt to lead to a much less favourable conclusion. The story of that tall black man, who beckoned out of his hall, in the inidst of a feast, a certain Count of Maçon, might have excited some uncomfortable feelings in the heart of a feudal baron.

· The romance of Partenopex, or rather an extract from it, made its first appearance in the Bibliotheque des Romans, under the title of Partenuple de Blois, translated from a story in Spanish prose. M. le Grand has, however, successfully established the French origin of this work. His own translation is made from a MS. poem, in the library of St Germain-des-Prés, which he is at first inclined to consider as a production of the twelfth century : he afterwards, reasoning from a piece of internal evidence, revokes his first opinion, and, with greater appearance of probability, ascribes it to the thirteenth.

Of its French origin, little doubt will probably be entertained by those conversant with the literature of the middle ages. It is scarcely necessary, after the able essays on these subjects by Mr Ellis and others, to insist, that all the antient romances were written in verse. Nor is this the only ground on which M. le Grand might vindicate the title of his country. The oldest verse which Spain can boast, is that of the Troubadours, whose works consist exclusively of metaphysical disquisitions on love, and satires ; and even this strain of poetry, amongst the Spaniards, dates long posterior to the period which, arguing from the månners it reflects, and the sentiments which it breathes, must have given birth to Partenopex de Blois.'

The kings of France, as every body knows, are descended from Priam, through Marcomeris, son of Hector ;-such luck had these Trojans to found every where better kingdoms than that from which they were forced to fly. In the course of this royal stem between Priam and Pharamond, there reigned a certain Cleoner, whose nephew, son of the Count of Blois, was yclepped Partenopex, the hero of our tale. On a certain day the king went out to hunt the boar in the wood of Ardennes, when Partenopex, after slaying one beast, is separated from his company in quest of another, which he has started. In vain Cleoner and his courtiers seek him on every side, and make the air reecho with their shouts and horns : no Partenopex was within hearing ; nor voice nor bugle made reply:' and they return home to supper without tidings. Meanwhile, D d Ꮞ

« Far

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

• Far prick'd the boy, nor slack'd his courser's pace,
Nor wist that he was single in the chase,
Till day was well nigh spent ; then, heartless, laid
His limbs beneath an oak’s embowering shade ;
Bent, with the morrow's early dawn, once more
The forest's devious mazes to explore.
Rous'd by the lark, he strives to measure back
His homeward way; but, weetless of the track,
Still by the same o'er-ruling spell misled,
Worse than afore the gentle valet sped.
'Twas eve ; when from afar was heard the roar
Of hollow billows, bursting on the shore ;
And from those wilds forth issuing on the strand,
He view'd a bark fast anchor'd by the land.
Gay was the hull, and seemly to behold;
The flag was sendal, purfled o’er with gold..
Scarce might he climb the deck, with toil foredone,
But in the shallop living wight was none.
While long and sore he mus’d, a gentle gale
Blew, rustling from the shore, and swell’d the sail.
Self-steer'd, o'er sparkling waves the vessel flew ;

The shore, receding, lessen'd from his view.' After some melancholy thoughts on the awkward situation in which he is placed, our hero goes to sleep; but,' waked by the noontide sun,' he finds himself in a spacious port, by the side of which stands a castle, of marvellous extent and beauty. It is well discribed in the following lines.

Fast by the marrin of the tumbling flood,
Crown'd with embattled towns, a castle stood.
The marble walls a chequer'd field display'd,
With stones of many-colour'd hues inlaid.
With that ('twas wrought of fayery) so dight,
The workmanship did pass the substance bright.
Flank'd with protecting towers, a league of ground
The far extending girt encompass'd round.
Within, trim garden, mead, and fruitful vale,
In gay confusion lay, and passing tale-
Fit ornaments to grace a rich domain ;
Huge garners to bestow the golden grain ;
Tall mills, with crystal streams encircled round,
And villages, with rustic plenty crown'd.
These, fading in the distance, woods were seen,
With gaily glittering spires, and battlements between.
• Beneath the porch, in rich mosaic, blaze

The sun, and silver lamp that drinks his rays.
Here stood the symbol'd elements pourtray'd,
And nature all her secret springs display'd.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Here

« PreviousContinue »