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for the talent of improvisation, which is found
even among the lowest of the people. It is
mentioned by Baretti and other travellers.

9. Kindling at the deeds of Grceme. Over a
name sacred for ages to heroic verse, a poet may
be allowed to exercise some power. I have used
the freedom, here and elsewhere, to alter the
orthography of the name of my gallant country-
man, in-order to apprise the Southern reader
of its legitimate sound; — Grahame being, on
the other side of the Tweed, usually pronounced
as a dissyllable.


4. What! will Don Roderick here till morn-
ing stay, etc.? Almost all the Spanish his-
torians, as well as the voice of tradition,
ascribe the invasion of the Moors to the
forcible violation committed by Roderick upon
Florinda, called by the Moors, Caba or Cava.
She was the daughter of Count Julian, one
of the Gothic monarch's principal lieutenants,
who, when the crime was perpetrated, was
engaged in the defence of Ceuta against the
Moors. In his indignation at the ingratitude
of his sovereign, and the dishonor of his
daughter, Count Julian forgot the duties of
a Christian and a patriot, and, forming an
alliance with Musa, then the Caliph's lieuten-
ant in Africa, he countenanced the invasion
of Spain by a body of Saracens and Africans,
commanded by the celebrated Tarik ; the issue
of which was the defeat and death of Roderick,
and the occupation of almost the whole penin-
sula by the Moors.

19. The Tecbir war-cry and the Lelie's yell.
TheTecbir (derived from the words Alia acbar,
God is most mighty) was the original war-cry
of the Saracens. It is celebrated by Hughes
in the Siege of Damascus : —

" We heard the Tecbir ; so these Arabs call
Their shout of onset, when, with loud appeal,
They challenge Heaven, as if demanding conquest."

The Lelie, well known to the Christians dur-
ing the crusades, is the shout of Alia ilia Alia,
the Mahometan confession of faith. It is twice
used in poetry by my friend Mr. W. Stewart
Rose, in the romance of Parlenopex, and in the
Crusade of Saint Lewis.

21. By Heaven, the Moors prevail ! the Chris-
tians yield ! etc. Count Julian, the father of
the injured Florinda, with the connivance and
assistance of Oppas, Archbishop of Toledo, in-
vited, in 713, the Saracens into Spain. A con-
siderable army arrived under the command of
Tarik, or Tarif, who bequeathed the well-known
name of Gibraltar ( Gibel al Tarik, or the moun-
tain of Tarik) to the place of his landing. He
was joined by Count Julian, ravaged Andalusia,
and took Seville. In 714 they returned with
a still greater force, and Roderick marched
into Andalusia at the head of a great army,
to give them battle.

Orelia, the courser of Don Roderick, was
celebrated for her speed and form. She is
mentioned repeatedly in Spanish romance, and
also by Cervantes.

32,- When for the light bolero ready stand, etc.
The bolero is a very light and active dance,
much practised by the Spaniards, in which
castanets are always used. Mozo and inucha-
cha is equivalent to our phrase of lad and lass.

43. While trumpets rang, and heralds cried
" Castile!" The heralds, at the coronation of
a Spanish monarch, proclaim his name three
times, and repeat three times the word Castilla,
Castilla, Castilla; which, with all other cere-
monies, was carefully copied in the mock in-
auguration of Joseph Bonaparte.


2. While dozvnward on the land his legions
press, etc. I have ventured to apply to the
movements of the French army that sublime
passage in the prophecies of Joel (ii. 2-10)
which seems applicable to them in more re-
spects than that I have adopted in the text.

8. Vainglorious fugitive. The French con-
ducted this memorable retreat with much of the
fanfarronade proper to their country, by which
they attempt to impose upon others, and per-
haps on themselves, a belief that they are
triumphing in the very moment of their dis-
comfiture. On the 30th March, 181 1, their
rear-guard was overtaken near Pega by the
British cavalry. Being well posted, and con-
ceiving themselves safe from infantry (who
were indeed many miles in the rear) and from



artillery, thev indulged themselves in parading
their bands 'of music, and actually performed
" God save the King." Their minstrelsy was,
however, deranged by the undesired accom-
paniment of the British horse-artillery, on
whose part in the concert they had not cal-
culated. The surprise was sudden, and the
rout complete; for the artillery and cavalry
did execution upon them for about four miles,
pursuing at the gallop as often as they got
beyond the range of the guns.

10. Vainly thy squadrons hide Assuava's plain,
etc. In the severe action of Fuentes d' Honoro,
upon 5th May, 181 1, the grand mass of the
French cavalry attacked the right of the British
position, covered by two guns of the horse-
artillery, and two squadrons of cavalry. After
suffering considerably from the fire of the guns,
which annoyed them in every attempt at for-
mation, the enemy turned their wrath entirely
towards them, distributed brandy among their
troopers, and advanced to carry the field-
pieces with the desperation of drunken fury.
They were in no wise checked by the heavy
loss which they sustained in this daring at-
tempt, but closed, and fairly mingled with the
British cavalry, to whom they bore the propor-
tion of ten to one. Captain Ramsay, who
commanded the two guns, dismissed them at
the gallop, and putting himself at the head of
the mounted artillerymen, ordered them to fall
upon the French, sabre-in-hand. This very
unexpected conversion of artillerymen into
dragoons contributed greatly to the defeat
of the enemy already disconcerted by the re-
ception they had met from the two British
squadrons ; and the appearance of some small
reinforcements, notwithstanding the immense
disproportion of force, put them to absolute

10. And what avails thee that, for Cameron
slain, etc. The gallant Colonel Cameron was
wounded mortally during the desperate contest
in the streets of the village called Fuentes
d' Honoro. He fell at the head of his native

Highlanders, the 71st and 79th, who raised
a dreadful shriek of grief and rage. They
charged, with irresistible fury, the finest body
of French grenadiers ever seen, being a part
of Bonaparte's selected guard. The officer
who led the French, a man remarkable for
stature and symmetry, was killed on the spot.
The Frenchman who stepped out of his rank
to take aim at Colonel Cameron was also
bayoneted, pierced with a thousand wounds,
and almost torn to pieces by the furious High-
landers, who, under the command of Colonel
Cadogan, bore the enemy out of the contested
ground at the point of the bayonet.

14. O who shall grudge him Albuerd's bays,
etc. Nothing during the war of Portugal
seems, to a distinct observer, more deserving
of praise, than the self-devotion of Field-
Marshal Beresford, who was contented to
undertake all the hazard of obloquy which
might have been founded upon any miscarriage
in the highly important experiment of training
the Portuguese troops to an improved state
of discipline.

17. The conquering shout of Grwme. This
stanza alludes to the various achievements of
the warlike family of Graeme, or Grahame.
They are said, by tradition, to have descended
from the Scottish chief, under whose command
his countrymen stormed the wall built by the
Emperor Severus between the Friths of Forth
and Clyde, the fragments of which are still
popularly called Graeme's Dyke. Sir John the
Graeme, " the hardy, wight, and wise," is well
known as the friend of Sir William Wallace.
Alderne, Kilsythe, and Tibbermuir, were scenes
of the victories of the heroic Marquis of Mont-
rose. The pass of Killycrankie is famous for
the action between King William's forces and
the Highlanders in 1689. " Where glad Dun-
dee in faint huzzas expired." It is seldom that
one line can number so many heroes, and yet
more rare when it can appeal to the glory of a

j living descendant in support of its ancient

i renown.


Sir Walter Scott commenced the compo-
sition of Rokebv at Abbotsford, on the 15th of
September, 181 2, and finished it on the last
day of the following December. The edition of
1830 contained the following introduction : —

ween the publication of The Lady of the
/.it/:,; which so eminently successful, and
that of Rokcby, in 1813, three years had inter-
vened. I shall not, I. believe, be accused of
ever having attempted to usurp a superiority
over many men of genius, my contemporaries ;
but, in point of popularity, not of actual talent,
the caprice of the public had certainly given
me such a temporary superiority over men, of

whom, in regard to poetical fancy and feeling,
I scarcely thought myself worthy to loose the
shoe-latch. On the other hand, it would be ab-
surd affectation in me to deny, that I conceived
myself to understand, more perfectly than many
of my contemporaries, the manner most likely
to interest the great mass of mankind. Yet,
even with this belief, I must truly and fairly
say that I always considered myself rather as
one who held the bets in time to be paid over
to the winner, than as having any pretence to
keep them in my own right.

" In the mean time years crept on, and not
without their usual depredations on the passing
generation. My sons had arrived at the age



when the paternal home was no longer their
best abode, as both were destined to active life.
The field-sports, to which I was peculiarly at-
tached, had now less interest, and were replaced
by other amusements of a more quiet character;
and the means and opportunity of pursuing
these were to be sought for. I had, indeed, for
some years attended to farming, a knowledge of
which is, or at least was then, indispensable to
the comfort of a family residing in a solitary
country-house ; but although this was the favor-
ite amusement of many of my friends, I have
never been able to consider it as a source of
pleasure. I never could think it a matter of
passing importance, that my cattle or crops
were better or more plentiful than those of my
neighbors, and nevertheless I began to feel the
necessity of some more quiet out-door occupa-
tion, different from those I had hitherto pur-
sued. I purchased a small farm of about one
hundred acres, with the purpose of planting and
improving it, to which property circumstances
afterwards enabled me to make considerable
additions ; and thus an era took place in my
life, almost equal to the important one men-
tioned by the Vicar of Wakefield, when he re-
moved from the Blue-room to the Brown. In
point of neighborhood, at least, the change of
residence made little more difference. Abbots-
ford, to which we removed, was only six or
seven miles down the Tweed, and lay on the
same beautiful stream. It did not possess the
romantic character of Ashestiel, my former resi-
dence ; but it had a stretch of meadow-land
along the river, and possessed, in the phrase of
the landscape-gardener, considerable capabili-
ties. Above all, the land was my own, like
Uncle Toby's Bowling-green, to do what I would
with. It had been, though the gratification was
long postponed, an early wish of mine to con-
nect myself with my mother earth, and prose-
cute those experiments by which a species of
creative power is exercised over the face of
nature. I can trace, even to childhood, a
pleasure derived from Dodsley's account of
Shenstone's Leasowes, and I envied the poet
much more for the pleasure of accomplishing
the objects detailed in his friend's sketch of
his grounds, than for the possession of pipe,
crook, flock, and Phillis to boot. My memory,
also, tenacious of quaint expressions, still re-
tained a phrase which it had gathered from
an old almanac of Charles the Second's time
(when everything down to almanacs affected
to be smart), in which the reader, in the month
of June, is advised for health's sake to walk a
mile or two every day before breakfast, and, if
he can possibly so manage, to let his exercise
be taken upon his own land.

" With the satisfaction of having attained the
fulfilment of an early and long-cherished hope,
I commenced my improvements, as delightful
in their progress as those of the child who first
makes a dress for a new doll. The nakedness
of the land was in time hidden by woodlands
of considerable extent— the smallest of possible
cottages was progressively expanded into a sort

of dream of a mansion-house, whimsical in the
exterior, but convenient within. Nor did I for-
get what is the natural pleasuie of every man
who has been a reader ; I mean the filling the
shelves of a tolerably large library. All these
objects I kept in view, to be executed as con-
venience should serve ; and although I knew
many years must elapse before they could be
attained, I was of a disposition to comfort my-
self with the Spanish proverb, ' Time and I
against any two.'

" The difficult and indispensable point of find-
ing a permanent subject of occupation was now
at length attained ; but there was annexed to
it the necessity of becoming again a candidate
for public favor ; for as I was turned improver
on the earth *of the every-day world, it was under
condition that the small tenement of Parnassus,
which might be accessible to my labors, should
not remain uncultivated.

" I meditated, at first, a poem on the subject
of Bruce, in which I made some progress, but
afterwards judged it advisable to lay it aside,
supposing that an English story might have
more novelty ; in consequence, the precedence
was given to Rokeby.

" If subject and scenery could have influenced
the fate of a poem, that of Rokeby should have
been eminently distinguished ; for the grounds
belonged to a dear friend, with whom I had
lived in habits of intimacy for many years, and
the place itself united the romantic beauties of
the wilds of Scotland with the rich and smiling
aspect of the southern portion of the island.
But the Cavaliers and Roundheads, whom I
attempted to summon up to tenant this beauti-
ful region, had for the public neither the novelty
nor the peculiar interest of the primitive High-
landers. This, perhaps, was scarcely to be ex-
pected, considering that the general mind
sympathizes readily and at once with the stamp
which nature herself has affixed upon the
manners of a people living in a simple and
patriarchal state ; whereas it has more difficulty
in understanding or interesting itself in manners
founded upon those peculiar habits of thinking
or acting which are produced by the progress
of society. We could read with pleasure the
tale of the adventures of a Cossack or a Mongol
Tartar, while we only wonder and stare over
those of the lovers . in the Pleasing Chinese
History, where the embarrassments turn upon
difficulties arising out of unintelligible delicacies
peculiar to the customs and manners of that
affected people.

" The cause of my failure had, however, afar
deeper root. The manner, or style, which, by
its novelty, attracted the public in an unusual
degree, had now, after having been three times
before them, exhausted the patience of the
reader, and began in the fourth to lose its
charms. The reviewers may be said to have
apostrophized the author in the language of
Parnell's Edwin : —

' And here reverse the charm, he cries,
And let it fairly now suffice,
The gambol has been shown.'



" The licentious combination of rhymes, in a
manner perhaps not very congenial to our lan-
guage, had not been confined to the author.
Indeed, in most similar cases, the inventors of
such novelties have their reputation destroyed
by their own imitators, as Actaeon fell under
the fury of his own dogs. The present author,
like Bo'badil, had taught his trick of fence to a
hundred gentlemen (and ladies), who could fence
very nearly or quite as well as himself. For
this there was no remedy ; the harmony became
tiresome and ordinary, and both the original
inventor and his invention must have fallen into
contempt if he had not found out another road
to public favor. What has been said of the
metre only, must be considered to apply equally
to the structure of the Poem and of the style.
The very best passages of any popular style are
not, perhaps, susceptible of imitation, but they
may be approached by men of talent ; and those
who are less able to copy them, at least lay hold
of their peculiar features, so as to produce a
strong burlesque. In either way, the effect of
the manner is rendered cheap and common ;
and, in the latter case, ridiculous to boot. The
evil consequences to an author's reputation are
at least as fatal as those which come upon the
musical composer when his melody falls into
the hands of the street ballad-singer.

" Of the unfavorable species of imitation, the
author's style gave room to a very large num-
ber, owing to an appearance of facility to which
some of those who used the measure unques-
tionably leaned too far. The effect of the more
favorable imitations, composed by persons of
talent, was almost equally unfortunate to the
original minstrel, by showing that they could
overshoot him with his own bow. In short, the
popularity which once attended the School, as
it was called, was now fast decaying.

" Besides all this, to have kept his ground at
the crisis when Rokeby appeared, its author
ought to have put forth his utmost strength, and
to have possessed at least all his original advan-
tages, for a mighty and unexpected rival was
advancing on the stage, — a rival not in poetical
powers only, but in that art of attracting popu-
larity, in which the present writer had hitherto
preceded better men than himself. The reader
will easily see that Byron is here meant, who, ]
after a little velitation of no great promise, now |
appeared as a serious candidate, in the first two !
cantos of Childe Harold. I was astonished at i
the power evinced by that work, which neither
the Hours of Idleness, nor the English Bards
and Scotch Rroiewers, had prepared me to ex-
pect from its author. There was a depth in his
thought, an eager abundance in his diction,
which argued full confidence in the inexhaust-
ible resources of which he felt himself pos-
I, and there was some appearance of that
labor of the file, which indicates that the author
is conscious of the necessity of doing every
justice to his work, that it niay pass warrant.
Lord Byron was also a traveller, a man whose
i re fired by having seen, in distant scenes
of difficulty and danger, the places whose very

names are recorded in our bosoms as the shrines
of ancient poetry. For his own misfortune,
perhaps, but certainly to the high increase of
his poetical character, nature had mixed in
Lord Byron's system those passions which
agitate the human heart with most violence,
and which may be said to have hurried his
bright career to an early close. There would
have been little wisdom in measuring my force
with so formidable an antagonist ; and I was
as likely to tire of playing the second fiddle
in the concert, as my audience of hearing me.
Age also was advancing. I was growing in-
sensible to those subjects of excitation by which
youth is agitated. I had around me the most
pleasant but least exciting of all society, that of
kind friends and an affectionate family. My
circle of employments was a narrow one ; it
occupied me constantly, and it became daily
more difficult for me to interest myself in poeti-
cal composition : —

1 How happily the days of ThaTaba went by ! '

" Yet, though conscious that I must be, in the
opinion of good judges inferior to the place I
had for four or five years held in letters, and
feeling alike that the latter was one to which I
had only a temporary right, I could not brook
the idea of relinquishing literary occupation,
which had been so long my chief diversion.
Neither was I disposed to choose the alternative
of sinking into a mere editor and commentator,
though that was a species of labor which I had
practised, and to which I was attached. But I
could not endure to think that I might not,
whether known or concealed, do something of
more importance. My inmost thoughts were
those of the Trojan Captain in the galley race, —

' Non jam, prima peto, Mnestheus, neque vincere certo,
Quanquam O ! — sed superent, quibus hoc, Neptune, de-

disti ;
Extremos pudeat rediisse : hoc vincite, cives,
Et prohibete nefas.' l — ^En. lib. v. 194.

" I had, indeed, some private reasons for my
'Quanquam O!' which were not worse than
those of Mnestheus. I have already hinted
that the materials were collected for a poem on
the subject of Bruce, and fragments of it had
been shown to some of my friends, and received
with applause. Notwithstanding, therefore, the
eminent success of Byron, and the great chance
of his taking the wind out of my sails, there
was, I judged, a species of cowardice in desist-
ing from the task which I had undertaken, and
it was time enough to retreat when the battle
should be more decidedly lost. The sale of
Rokeby, excepting as compared with that of
The Lady of the Lake, was in the highest degree
respectable ; and as it included fifteen hundred
quartos, in those quarto-reading days, the trade
had no reason to be dissatisfied.

"Abbotsford, April, 1830."

1 " I seek not now the foremost palm to gain ;

Though yet — but ah ! that haughty wish is vain !
Let those enjoy it whom the gods ordain.
But to be last, the lags of all the race ! —
Redeem yourselves and me from that disgrace."





1. On Barnard's towers, and Tees 's stream,
etc. " Barnard Castle," saith old Leland,
"standeth stately upon Tees." It is founded
upon a very high bank, and its ruins impend
over the river, including within the area a cir-
cuit of six acres and upwards. This once
magnificent fortress derives its name from its
founder, Barnard Baliol, the ancestor of the
short and unfortunate dynasty of that name,
which succeeded to the Scottish throne under
the patronage of Edward I. and Edward III.
Baliol's Tower, afterwards mentioned in the
poem, is a round tower of great size, situated
at the western extremity of the building. It
bears marks of great antiquity, and was remark-
able for the curious construction of its vaulted
roof, which has been lately greatly injured by
the operations of some persons, to whom the
tower has been leased for the purpose of mak-
ing patent shot ! The prospect from the top of
Baliol's Tower commands a rich and magnifi-
cent view of the wooded valley of the Tees.

6. The morion's plumes his visage hide, etc.
The use of complete suits of armor was fallen
into disuse during the Civil War, though they
were still worn by leaders of rank and impor-
tance. " In the reign of King James I.," says
our military antiquary, "no great alterations
were made in the article of defensive armor,
except that the buff-coat, or jerkin, which was
originally worn under the cuirass, now became
frequently a substitute for it, it having been
found that a good buff leather would of itself
resist the stroke of a sword ; this, however,
only occasionally took place among the light-
armed cavalry and infantry, complete suits of
armor being still used among the heavy horse.
Buff-coats continued to be worn by the city
trained-bands till within the memory of persons
now living, so that defensive armor may, in
some measure, be said to have terminated in
the same materials with which it began, that
is, the skins of animals, or leather" (Grose's
Military Antiquities, Lond. i8ci, 4to, vol. ii.

P- 323)-

8. On his dark face a scorching clime, etc. In
this character I have attempted to sketch one
of those West Indian adventurers, who, during
the course of the seventeenth century, were
popularly known by the name of Buccaneers.
The successes of the English in the predatory
incursions upon Spanish America during the
reign of Elizabeth had never been forgotten;
and, from that period downward, the exploits
of Drake and Raleigh were imitated, upon a
smaller scale indeed, but with equally desperate
valor, by small bands of pirates, gathered from
all nations, but chiefly French and English.
The engrossing policy of the Spaniards tended
greatly to increase the number of these free-
booters, from whom their commerce and colo-
nies suffered, in the issue, dreadful calamity.

12. On Marston heath, etc. The well-known
and desperate battle of Long-Marston Moor,

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