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wrong door, I came into a dark passage, leading, as I supposed, to an inner court. This being my first visit to a convent, a natural curiosity tempted me to proceed, when, instead of a court, I found myself in a large apartment. The light (which descended from above) was so powerful, that for nearly a minute I could distinguish nothing, and I rested on a form attached to the wainscoting. I then put up my hand to shade my eyes, when, — the fearful vision is even now before me, – I seemed to be standing before an abyss in space, boundless and black. In the midst of this permeable pitch stood a colossal mass of gold, in shape like an altar, and girdled about by a huge serpent, gorgeous and terrible ; his body flecked with diamonds, and his head an enormous carbuncle, floating like a meteor on the air above. Such was the Throne. But no words can describe the gigantic Being that sat thereon, – the grace, the majesty, its transcendant form ; and yet I shuddered as I looked, for its superhuman countenance seemed, as it were, radiate falsehood ; every feature was a contradiction, — the eye, the mouth, even to the nostril, — whilst the expression of the whole was of that unnatural softness which can only be conceived of malignant blandishment. It was the appalling beauty of the King of Hell. The frightful discord vibrated through my whole frame, and I turned for relief to the figure below ; for at his feet knelt one who appeared to belong to our race of earth. But I had turned from the first only to witness in this second object its withering fascination. It was a man apparently in the prime of life, but pale and emaciated, as if prematurely wasted by his unholy devotion, yet still devoted, — with outstretched hands, and eyes upraised to their idol, fixed with a vehemence that seemed almost to start them from their sockets. The agony of his eye, contrasting with the prostrate, reckless worship of his attitude, but too well told his tale : I beheld the mortal conflict between the conscience and the will, the visible struggle of a soul in the toils of sin. I could look no longer.” — pp. 14 – 16.
We think Mr. Allston has managed his story with good judgment in not restoring Monaldi to his wife, as we at first hoped he would. The man who has once aimed the dagger at the heart of the woman he loves, however strong and damning the circumstances that frenzied him to the deadly deed, and however thoroughly he may afterwards deplore and repent his suspicions, and however firmly he may be convinced of her innocence, can never be to her what he was before. The idea of settling down from such storms of the passions, in which life has been attempted and blood has been shed, into another domestic calm, is shocking and preposterous. Better, far better, the Christian deathbed, and the lucid interval of rational affection and gentle resignation, with which this affecting story is brought to an appropriate close.
Art. VII. – Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Ro
mantic, translated, with Notes, by J. G. LOCKHART, Esquire. A new Edition, revised, with an Introductory Essay on the Origin, Antiquity, Character, and Influence of the Ancient Ballads of Spain ; and an Analytical Account, with Specimens, of the Romance of the Cid. New York. Wiley & Putnam. 8vo. pp. 272.
A COLLECTION of Spanish popular poetry opens to the lover of romance a region comparatively little explored, and one where a most fertile soil promises a rich harvest. The glory of no other nation is so intimately interwoven with poetry and song; and the most splendid deeds of her heroes are embalmed in romance.
“Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale ?
Ah, such, alas ! the hero's amplest fate !
?” And why should it be humiliating to the pride of fame, to live longer in the songs of the multitude, than in the records of history written comparatively for a few ? Have not the praises of the bard ever been regarded as the hero's best reward ? And would not the immortal Cid, had one of the Moorish magicians, who, no doubt, were numbered in the trains of the captive kings, permitted him to see in a magic glass the picture of futurity, would he not rather have renounced the fame secured to him in the dead leaves of dry chronicles, than the conviction, that, after seven or eight centuries, the rocks of Asturia would still resound with the echo of his name, called forth by “a peasant's plaint” ?
* Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto I.
Who of our readers has not heard of the rich treasure of Spanish Romances, and is not, in a certain measure, familiar with their lofty spirit and national dignity ? Nevertheless, comparatively speaking, only a very small number have ever been translated into English; and among these how very few are the versions which are not to be considered as paraphrases rather than translations ! The extreme simplicity of these romances, the peculiar character of the Spanish language, with its melodiously protracted words, its pompously sonorous sounds, and its harmonious diffuseness, all renders it exceedingly difficult to translate Spanish poetry without encountering the danger of making constant additions ; especially when rendering it into a language with so many monosyllabic words, and so philosophically condensed, as is the English. The most skilful translator may, therefore, find it hard to avoid the insertion of epithets; in which poetical ornament, indeed, English poetry abounds as much as Spanish poetry is deficient.
Percy, who first unveiled to his countrymen the rich treasures of their own popular poetry, had also the merit of being the first to point out to them those of Spain. But the claims, which we, at the present day, feel ourselves entitled to make on a translator, are very different from those current in Percy's time. Correctness and fidelity are now considered as necessary requisites in a good translation ; just as antiquarian exactness is expected in the publication of an old manuscript. No one, in the present state of criticism, would ever think of calling Percy's “ Gentle River " a translation ; although the Bishop assures us, that “the version was rendered as literal as the nature of the two languages would permit.” Our readers may judge for themselves. Rio verde, rio verde,
“Gentle river, gentle river, Green river, green river, Quanto cuerpo en ti se baña Lo, thy streams are stained Many corpses are bathed in
De Christianos y de Moros, Many a brave and noble cap-
shore." A strict adherence not only to the form and to the genius of the original as a whole, but also to its peculiar modes of expression, so far as these constitute the individual features of its physiognomy, — this is what we now require from a translator of poetry. Considered in this point of view, the versions of Spanish Romances, the title of which stands at the head of this article, can at the utmost be considered as fine imitations, but by no means as good translations. The work of Mr. Lockhart enjoys, as we are informed, a high popularity in England. Mr. Hallam, who, · however, “ admits his slight acquaintance and imperfect knowledge of the originals,” thinks that they are known to the English public by these translations, “ with inconceivable advantage."*
And the writer of a very able article in the " Edinburgh Review,” (which forms an appropriate preliminary essay to the new American edition of this work,) gives high praise to Mr. Lockhart, for having " emancipated himself from the drudgery of counting lines and interpreting single words ; from that servility which has obscured the clearest, and deformed the most beautiful ; » and thinks these poor, simple ballads, translated with “sufficient fidelity,”
frequently improved by a judicious pruning.” † There can indeed be no doubt, that, as poems, these versions are elegant and beautiful, and the attractive dress in which they appear again before the public, must necessarily secure them additional favor. But the public must, nevertheless, not expect to get from them a correct idea of the form of the Spanish popular Romances. We do not, it is true, exact from an English translation, the imitation of the assonant rhyme, which, in the Spanish ballads, continues throughout the whole in alternate lines. I It is altogether foreign to the genius of the English language, and would be utterly lost to the English ear; and even to supply its place
Edinburgh Review, No. 146.
+ Ibid. Assonant rhymes, so called in distinction from the consor:ant rhyme, the only one used in English, are: dos, traydor, hablo, no ; and, again, vida, mia, solian, etc.; or, fama, lama, montaña, &c. VOL. LIV. — NO. 115.
by the consonant rhyme, and to continue the same throughout the whole ballad, would have no pleasing effect in English ; at any rate, such an attempt would require the most skilful artist in verse.
But the peculiarity of the structure of the Spanish popular ballads, which we consider as indispensable, is the irochaic measure.
The Spanish, like the French, count, but do not measure, their syllables; but the cadence of the whole, in their popular ballads (as indeed in most of their poetry), is invariably trochaic ; and this feature contributes much to their elegiac and dignified character ; just as the iambic and dactylic measure is a feature equally essential to English popular poetry. Mr. Lockhart has not paid the least attention to this principle. He uses indiscriminately the trochaic or the iambic, more frequently, however, the latter ; nay, he often begins with the one, and continues with the other, so as to leave it very obvious, of how little importance he considered it. Indeed, this liberty is only a slight one, in comparison with others he has taken. Spanish popular minstrels have their standing phrases, with which they address their audiences, just as the English also have ; *
“Deste os quiero decir."
Of this I will tell you now. or more frequently ;
dirà.” You shall hear what he (she) said. Such are their general phrases for introducing an action, or a speech. These words are mostly omitted in the English ; instead of them, we find others peculiar to English popular ballads, such as ; “ Then out and spake," &c.; or, “A
A woeful man was he ;” and numerous others. These familiar expressions, the prevalance of the iambic measure, and that pleasing abundance of rhymes in the middle of the verse, characteristic of English, but entirely foreign to Spanish ballads, 1 - all these combine to give precisely the impression
* Such as “ Listen, lively lordlings, all;” or, “Hearken to me, gentlemen,” “Come, and ye shall hear," etc.
+ Such as; “ Good king, my hand thou mayst command, else treason blots my name;
I'll take the life of my dear wife, -(God, mine be not the blame !)”.