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pleasing in Macbeth, or Fiesco; in the Jerusalem Delivered, or the Oberon; but it sensibly offends in the Æneid, and in the Orlando; in the Winter's Tale of Shakspeare, and in the Cid of De Castro; because a revolution actually takes place in the body or mind, which changes the pursuits and objects of the personages. In the drama, says Boileau, and justly, we cannot bear to see the hero--
• Enfant au premier acte, et barbon au dernier:' but this dislike does not originate in its being a violation of the unity of time; it originates in its being inconsistent with the unity of action. It is a doctrine, therefore, as applicable to the epopæia as to the stage.
In order to have brought the fable of his Amadis within due compass, Mr. Rose should have begun with the arrival of the full-grown Amadis at the court of Perion and Elisena. The narrative of his education and previous adventures should have given occasion to the very interesting and pathetic interview in which he is discovered to be their son. In the course of these adventures, he should already have been brought acquainted with Oriana, and owe, to his new rank and station, the means of her deliverance and possession. All this rounding of the fable might have been accomplished with little transposition, and with little omission, of the more familiar and prominent incidents; no one of which ought to be dropped without strong reasons for its suppression.
As to the characters, they are, perhaps, incapable of very discriminate evolution in a romance of chivalry. Every knight is brave, and in love; one may be humane like Amadis, another cruel like Arcelaus; this may be constant like Amadis, that versatile like Galaor; but the possible varieties are not great. Ariosto is encumbered with too many personages to characterise each knight with peculiarity: it is a merit of the story of Amadis that it does not require a numerous band of heroes. These few, however, should have been marked with dispositions of a more distinct contour than Mr. Rose has chosen to impress.
The translator's style has the same fault as that of Way's 'Fabliaux ;' it is neither of one age nor of another; it is a mosaic, whose cement is a modern patent-varnish, whose inlay is a rub. bish of giallo-antico, rusty-iron, and French porcelain. The basis of the English language is a Gothic dialect: hence all words of Saxon derivation have the national physiognomy about them; the air of natives. These words, when forgotten, may freely be revived; when wanted, may freely be introduced. The old French words, on the contrary, which, from the Norman conquest, till the introduction of protestantism, were so pro
fusely and officiously used by allour professional men and almost all our authors, are not natural to our language, nor akin to the received stock of terms : when once obsolete, they will seldom bear revival. Protestantism exploded the Norman or Frenchified English, and restored the ancient vulgar dialect to the rank of a national language, by introducing it both into our worship and our literature. We have since taken many words directly from the Latin and the Greek; but we have banished more French words than we have invited. In attempting to form a sort of English Gaulois, which, by its antiquated yet interesting simplicity, should seem to be the appropriate dress, the natural costume, of a tale of chivalry, attention should be paid to this irresistible tendency of our language. Not all the words in the glossary to Chaucer can be restored to circulation : the Saxon terms have the best chance: of the French only the technical may be retained; the names of pieces of dress and armour, now in use no more. The modern Latin terms of the language must studiously be avoided, although familiar; they are like new purple patches on an old garment, which disguise its fashion and reveal its shabbiness.
We shall extract from this metrical chronicle the account of a night and a day spent by Amadis.
• Now sunk the sun ; and from the distant sky
“ Caitiff accurs'd!” made Amadis reply,
“ Bethinks me, sir,” the taunting churl replied,
And, eftsoons as Aurora's dawning light
Long thro' drear wilds, the weary knight did fare ;
« Grammercy, lovely damsels! on her side
The knight and friendly damsels sunk to rest.' p. 130. Of this passage the earlier lines are completely modern : the conversation of the knights is almost uniutelligibly an. tique : the Line
• And eftsoons as Aurora's dawning light is not metrical: the lyre was not in use during the age of chivalry: Amadis's patient procrastination of revenge is scarcely
spirited enough for a knight: the words lurid, momentary, unprofitable, circling, admonish'd, ferocious, vindicate, &c.belong to the modern style: the words craven, losel, are not revivable, because abuse makes no impression which is not understood : wood (furious ), and sell (saddle), are not revivable, because liable to be confounded with words in common use of very different meaning. Several of the proper names, although they occur in the Portuguese romance, ought to have been changed, because they are geographically improbable: although the ignorance of Lobeira's readers might not have been alarmed, this is no reason for exercising the indulgence of an English reader. There is much bad grammar: I wot, here used as a present tense, is the past tense of to weet, or to wit, to know. Bethink is never a verb impersonal. Eftsoons is an adverb absolute, signifying swiftly as an eft : it cannot be followed by as. To joy is not a verb active, and cannot govern lyre. The casement clos'd for the clos'd casement is not an allowable, because an equivocal, transposition. Discourteous, though received by Johnson, is not a very defensible substitute for uncourteous. So matchless---does matchless admit of degree? In the versification there are many splines. This word is, perhaps, not universally understood: it is the technical translation of the French cheville. When there is a gap, chink, or rift, in the wainscot, which a carpenter is employed to fill up, he cuts a lath to the length of the aperture, planes it to the right width, and inserts it. Such inserted bits of wood, contrived to fit á given vacancy, are called splines, or chevilles; and those hemistichs, and shorter portions of lines, which are inserted by poets merely to eke out the metre, or to provide the requisite rime, are, by analogy, called, among the French critics, chevilles. Why may not we call them splines? It is one of the most important secrets of versification to shape one's splines dexterously, and in a workmanlike manner; to make the afterinsertions appear like a part of the original conception; to inlay epithets and dovetail hemistichs together without the appearance of thwarting the grain, or interrupting the veins of the wood. The following are awkward splines, not fitted in neatly :---The echoing hills reply---That fears the face of light---Ill-advis'd---Graced with chiefs of mightiest fame--With toil opprest.
If this captious sort of criticism were extended to a whole book of the poem, we should make our readers believe that it is a very bad one; yet it is because we do not think it incorrigible that we have given the author a specimen of the sort of severity which we wish him to exercise on himself. The scourges of criticism should be actively used by voluntary Hagellants, and cautiously inflicted by public disciplina. rians.
In refashioning this pleasing poem---for we think it might yet be rendered an ornament to our national literature... surely it would be worth while to recast the couplets into stanzas. There is a fatiguing uniformity in the couplet, which is little perceived in a short effort, in a satire, a he roid, or even a tale; but which, in a long work, as in Pope's Iliad, for instance, wearies the most passive perseverance, and palls on the most greedy taste. Stanzas, on the contrary, by distancing the rimes, conceal the iterated recurrence of flight, light, might, knight, and those other hackneyed endings, which threaten the reader, not in vain, with sleep. In stanzas Amadis was originally sung; in stanzas the more cele brated metrical romances have been composed; so that an association of congruity, an opinion of the aptness of that dress, already exists. The Tasso of Fairfax retains a hold which the couplets of Hoole have lost. Blank verse seems to require a stalking stateliness of tone, at variance with half the topics of a metrical romancer.
The preface and notes display an attentive perusal of that literature most conducive to the writer's object. The traditional achievements of the heroes of chivalrous romance should all be studied by the poet who intends to immortalise any one. He will often find incidents worthy of transplantation, or manners evolved in circumstances, which he has to feign; and, above all, he will observe that main drift of exploit in which the peculiar character of the heroic age of the modern world consists. He will also sometimes want to allude to the adventures which may have stimulated the early ambition of his own knights; and to render his very inventions poetically probable, by making them consistent with the established fictions of others.
This poem will derive a welcome illustration froin Mr. Southey's excellent abridgement of the original Amadis, and will contribute to prepare for · The Child of the Sea' an extensive and enduring popularity in Britain.
Art. VI.---Amadis of Gaul, from the Spanish Version of Gar
ciordonez de Montalvo, by Robert Southey. 4 Vols. 12mo. 11, 1s. Boards. Longman and Rees. 1303.
IN the sixth chapter of Don Quixote, the curate and the barber undertake a scrutiny of the courteous knight's library, and condemn to the flames those books which were thought to have affected his intellects. A few, however, were held worthy of a better fate, than to increase the bonfire in the court; and among these were the four volumes of Amadis of Gaul, which Nicolas had heard say was the first book of chivalry printed in Spain, and which he is for condemning, as the foundation of a mischievous