« AnteriorContinuar »
the subjugation of Scotland. It was lost to the English by a stratagem not uncommon; a number of armed men being introduced within the walls in a wain of hay. The stories of necromantic glamour related by the old chroniclers owe their origin, in all probability, to some such realities as this. A garrison would think it more dishonour to acknowledge that they had been cheated by an enemy, than to say that they had been imposed upon by a spectral illusion, by means of which a body of warriors entered their walls in the form of a waggon. The spell read by the goblin-page in the book taken from the tomb of Michael Scott, was of a similar kind.
“ It had much of glamour might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
All was delusion, nought was truth. *In this part of the palace Queen Mary is supposed to have been born, and the room is pointed out to the visitor. " The hall an oblong room, of about twenty feet by twelve. Its floor being formed by the vaulted ceiling of the apartments below, has never been covered by wood, like the floors of modern apartments; but is framed with large square flags or bricks, after the fashion of the kitchens of the present day. It has thus an uncomfortable aspect, though a spacious fire-place at one extremity, where a whole ox might be easily roasted, tends a good deal to obviate that impression. The roof and windows are now gone, the floor is broken, and the dews of heaven descend upon its blackened and haggard walls.” A bed-chamber adjoins, but tradition points to the hall as the place where Mary first saw the light.
· The bed-chamber is remarkable by the orifice of a trap-door at one of the corners, from which a narrow stair descends into the vaults. An improbable story is told of James III. being obliged to take refuge from his rebellious nobles in this hiding-place, where it is said he remained for three days. A lady of the court sat upon the trap-door all the time spinning, in order to cover the place with her skirts, like Leah (Rachel ?) squatting upon the stolen images.
• The stair-tower at the corner of this court is surmounted by a kind of turret, which is remarkable on account of its height, overlooking the whole of the palace. This, no doubt, was used as a watchtower : and there is no reason for disbelieving the beautiful tradition connected with it ; which tells, that when the fated James, in spite of every kind of dissuasion, set out on that wild expedition which terminated at the field of Flodden, his disconsolate Queen retired there
weep alone. This brave and unhappy prince seems to have been the victim of too ardent an imagination. He ventured kingdom and life for a “ Ladye-love ” whom he had never seen, and lost both by the treachery of another whom he ought to have known too well to have trusted.
“And yet the sooth to tell,
From Margaret's eye that fell.--
All lonely sat, and wept the weary hour." The turret to this day retains the name of Queen Margaret's bower. If the tradition be untrue, I honour the inventor.
On the eastern side of the quadrangle is the parliamentary hall, a very splendid room, which, by the niches between the windows, appears to have been adorned with statues. On the south side are the ruins of the royal chapel; and on the north, the dining room, and other public apartments constructed by James V. after his accession to the double crown.
The roof of this vast edifice is entirely gone. It was set fire to in 1746, by Hawley's dragoons -a deed worthy of the men, who a fortnight before, had Hed hither from Falkirk.
• The church is almost entire, and is reckoned a very fine specimen of Gothic architecture. It was herė that the apparition appeared to James IV.
• Opposite the town house, is the cross well, a very curious and elaborate structure. It is a modern fac-simile of one which was erected in 1620; and is remarkable for the richness and intricacy of the carving. It further excites the envy of the citizens of Edinburgh by the copiousness of its supply of water.'
Mr. Roscoe has the disadvantage of coming after Washington Irving; but he has produced a very pleasing running accompaniment to the picturesque subject, in which the outline of history is filled up with the colouring of romance. Who would expect sober writing, when the theme is the Moors of Spain ? Mr. Roscoe describes himself as occupying a position midway
between history and tradition ;' and his very style is midway between prose and poetry. The impassioned interest' inspired by his task has given a somewhat ambitious elevation to his diction, which will not, however, be deemed too florid to suit with a description of the gorgeous beauty of the Alhambra and the pomp of the Arabian monarchs of Granada Here is a specimen.
-Who can wonder at the rapture with which the Moor looked upon the bright and beautiful city of his princes! In the dewy twilight of morning, breathing the soft spirit of its southern sea, mingled with the pure breezy freshness of its snowy sierra, in the radiance of the noonday sun, in the solemn shades of evening, Granada burst upon his sight with a splendour unknown to any other city in the world. Loved with a species of idolatry without parallel, perhaps, except in the glory of the Syrian Damascus, or the marble Tadmor in the palmy days of its famed queen; far around her swelled the mountains which appear to have been raised by nature for her lordly barrier, their snowbound crests emulating in whiteness the crystal of the moon-beamstheir deep dark woods bending in bold contrast to the glistening cloth
ing of the summits, and the not less exquisite splendour of the golden roofs of palaces and mosques that shone on the plains below. Wide spreading along the sunny sides of the delicious site of this queen of cities, the murmur of its golden river, the bloom of gardens and orchards vied with the luxury of an eastern Eden. Immediately on the skirts of those pleasure grounds which appeared only lavishly adorned to skreen in their sylvan récesses, the most lovely of women from the too ardent rays of the sun, extended yellow corn fields and purple vineyards far as the eye could reach over fertile lands, richly peopled with busy hamlets, strong thriving towns, with innumerable castles, and fortresses in the distance.
In the midst of this spacious glowing scene of fertility, encircled with all the gems of art, lay Granada, like some proud beauty, calm and stately, seated secure in her own spangled halls. From the two hills which she crowned with her numerous sumptuous edifices, the Darro and the Xenil were seen mingling their limpid waters, in which the peasants not unfrequently gathered the purest grains of gold and silver. The most conspicuous objects in the direction of the Darro, flowing through the valley of the two hills, and dividing the city, were the palace of the Alhambra, and the vermilion towers,--the former ve. nerable in the eyes of the Moor, as the grand citadel of his country's glory; the latter, as one of those monuments which seem to defy the calculations of time, still glowing midst the surrounding ruins of a fallen empire. To the north ward of the river rose the stern rude-looking towers of the Albaycin, and of Alcazaba ; while the broad intervening plain was covered with the light, airy, and variously adorned dwellings of the wealthy population. The city of Granada, thus beautiful in itself as in its situation, was probably founded by one of those colonies of Phænicia, which the adventurous merchants of that country had established in several provinces of Europe. The Romans appear to have regarded it as a place well worthy of their attention-calculated for a strong military station; and it was transmitted from them to the Goths. But it was reserved for the Saracens to invest it with all the strength and magnificence which it was naturally so well fitted to receive. Having, in the early part of the eighth century, fallen beneath the arms of the victorious Ommiades, it gradually assumed the character of a city, which had for its rulers the most polished and luxurious people in the world. It was not, however, till the close of the thirteenth century, that the Moorish people conceived the magnificent idea of the Alhambra. Their coffers were then sufficiently well stored to enable the monarch to carry through his noble design. The plans adopted by Muley Mohammed Abdallah were further pursued by his successor ; but the marble walls of the palace, the splendid shrines of the mosque, rose not without stains of blood upon their glittering decorations. Mohammed, the successor of Muley, was an usurper and a murderer; the money itself which defrayed the cost of the sacred edifice, was wrung by oppression from Christians and Jews. For several years subsequently, not a reign is described by the historians of the Moors, without the record of some deed of blood,—the work of princely hands. ...'
3 D ,
Christian historians are not always to be trusted when they narrate the deeds of Mussulman sovereigns or heroes ; but there can be no doubt that the fall of the Moorish kingdoms of Andalusia was precipitated by the profligacy of the reigning families. Mr. Roscoe's page becomes quite phosphoric when he describes the waning fortunes of the intrusive Arabs.
• As the Moslem crescent waved in the heavens before the glorious light of the cross, the minds of men were impressed with a mysterious feeling of solemnity and awe at the extent of the eventful changes now in progress. It was displayed in the more frequent councils, and still oftener recurring ceremonies and celebrations of religious faith. With all its pompous and spiritual observances, were conjoined those of an expiring chivalry, and the savage, iron institutes of religious hatred and persecution by which it was to be replaced. The Christian camp, now constantly under arms, prepared to meet the new contingencies and vicissitudes of the war, from whatever quarter they might arise.
• Nor were the apprehensions of change of fortune, or some sudden reverse, unfounded. In the depth of night, amidst the silence and repose of the vast wide-spreading camps, with their white pavilions glittering round the City of the Faith,-amidst all the splendours and luxuries of regal residence and sway—the cry of fire went through the tents of the besieger, and soon the whole scene of the spacious vega was illuminated with the unnatural vividness of death-fires, which cast their baneful hues over tower, and hill, and stream. It rose with more terrific grandeur from the centre of the royal pavilions, fed by the thousand combustible materials supplied by the luxurious tastes and refined genius of that golden age of chivalry and art.'
250. We shall make room for his account of the final expulsion of the Moors, although we cannot say that we think Mr. Roscoe's improved style the best adapted to historical writing.
• Ferdinand and Isabella took possession of Granada with all the pomp which could give splendour to their conquest ; and thus expired, never again to rise, the empire of the Moors in Spain. But, though the kingdom had perished, the native vigour of the Moorish character still survived, and operated on the remnant of the nation ; and at the close of the eventful drama, and when the curtain had fallen on the busy stage where princes and nobles ended their bloodstained career, a new scene of terror was commenced, in which the actors seemed guided by a yet fiercer, sterner, and more enduring spirit.
· Ferdinand and his consort, during their abode at Granada, beheld with disgust the freedom which the Jews enjoyed in the conquered city. In this feeling they were cheerfully met by many of their courtiers, who, strongly partaking of the spirit of the age, rejoiced at the idea of subjecting the Israelites to the alternative of conversion or death. A decree was accordingly passed, by which the intended victims were commanded to submit without delay to the rite of baptism, or to be deprived of their wealth, as the forfeit of their blindness and obstinacy. The consequence of this ordinance was, the submission of the weak,--the exile and ruin of the more conscientious. In a short time, the pretended converts found that, notwithstanding the sacrifice they had made, the same danger was hovering over them which had overwhelmed their brethren. An institution was erected which might claim the praise of novelty, even in the gloomiest annals of persecution. It was now, for the first time, that inquisitions were heard of, and that Christians assumed the ensigns of death, in order to act the part of guardians to divine charity. The miserable Jews who had subjected themselves to the Catholic law, could scarcely fail of falling into some offence against the doctrine or discipline of the church.
• In the expectation of this result, the lynx eye of the holy office was ever directed towards them with all the vulture-like keenness of unpitying bigotry. Instances of a supposed relapse soon became frequent; the sword was drawn, the book of judgment opened in the secret vaults of the Office, and crowds of victims were poured forth, to lay their already mangled bodies on the heaped up faggots. While the persecuted Jews were thus suffering, the Moors looked on with a gloomy presage of coming ill. Nor were they mistaken in their apprehensions. The principle which had led to the persecution of the Jews, gathered strength from the victims on which it fed. When Ferdinand again held secret council with his bigoted ministers, they did not scruple to pour forth the most contemptuous expressions of hate against the enfeebled Moors. The ears of the sovereign drank in their words with evident delight; but to diminish the privileges which had been formally confirmed to the vanquished people, was a dangerous experiment. It was to break the most solemn engagements, --to violate kingly honour, and overturn the foundations of all national confidence. How were the difficulties thus opposed to be overcome? The grand inquisitor and Ferdinand soon learned the
of silencing the scruples which had hitherto kept him true to his treaty. First one, and then another instance of oppression occurred in the commerce of the Moors with his government. The laws which protected them were then repealed, and the insulted Moslem felt himself scourged on to madness. This was the state of mind in which the crafty politicians of the court desired to find them. Pretending to avenge the insult put upon his laws, Ferdinand gathered his forces about Granada, and, by one exertion of power, drove the hated people, like a flock of sheep destined for slaughter, from the city. • A portion, however, of the exiles, as they looked back upon
the scenes of their happy youth, sank into the hopelessness of heartbreaking grief; and in that moment of agony professed their desire to