2483. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, [c. 26 September 1814] 

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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2483. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, [c. 26 September 1814]⁠* 

18. [1] 

Now when from Covadonga down the vale
Holding his way, the princely mountaineer
Came, with that happy family in sight
Of Cangas, & his native towers, far off
He saw before the gate in fair array
The assembled land. Broad banners were displayd,
And spears were sparkling to the Sun; shields shone
And helmets glittered, & the blairing horn
With frequent sally of impatient joy
Provoked the echoes round. Lightly the Prince
Red from those ensigns & augmented force
That Odoar & the Primate from their hills {West}
Had brought their aid, but wherefore all were thus
Instructed, as for some high {great} festival
He found not, till Favila’s quicker eye
Catching the ready buckler, the glad boy
Leapt up & clapping his exultant hands
Shouted, King! King! my Father shall be King
This day! Pelayo started at the word,
And the first thought which smote him brought a sigh
For Rodericks fall: the second was of hope,
Deliverance for his country, for himself
Enduring fame, & glory for his line.
That high prophetic forethought gathered strength
As looking on his honoured mate he read
Her souls accordant augury: her eyes
Sparkled {Brightened}; the quickened action of her blood
Tinged with a deeper hue her glowing cheek,
And on her lips there sate a smile which spake
The honourable pride of perfect love,
Rejoicing for her husbands xxxx sake to share
The lot he chose, the perils he defied,
The lofty fortune which their faith foresaw.

Roderick in front of all the assembled troops
Held the broad buckler, following to the end
That stately purpose to the which his zeal
Had this day wrought the Chiefs. Tall as himself
Erect it stood before him, & his hands
Hung resting on its rim. This was an hour
That sweetened life, repaid & recompensed
All losses, & altho it could not heal
All griefs, yet put them from remembrance now {laid them for awhile to rest}
The active, agitating joy that filld
The vale, that with contagious influence spread
Thro all the exulting mountaineers, that gave
New ardour to all spirits, to all breasts
Inspired fresh impulse of excited hope,
Moved every tongue, & strengthened every limb,..
That joy which every man felt in himself
And saw reflected round in every face,
And heard in every voice & every sound,
Reachd not the King. Aloof from sympathy
He from the solitude of his own soul
Beheld the busy scene. None shard or knew
His deep & incommunicable joy,
None but that heavenly father who alone
Beholds the struggles of the heart alone
Knows & rewards the secret sacrifice.

Among the chiefs conspicuous Urban stood
He whom with well-weighd choice in arduous time
To arduous office, the consenting Church
Had calld, when Sindered fear-smitten fled
Unfaithful shepherd, who for life alone
Solicitous, forsook his flock, when most
In peril & in suffering they requir’d
Their pastors care. Far off at Rome he dwells
In ignominious safety, while the Church
Keeps in her annals the deserters name
But from the service which with daily zeal
Devout her ancient prelacy recalls,
Blots it, unworthy to partake her prayers.
Urban to that high station thus being calld
From whence disanimating fear had driven
The former Primate, for the general weal
Consulting first, removed with timely care
The relics & the written works of Saints,
Toledo’s choicest treasures, prized beyond
All wealth, their living & their dead remains.
These to the mountain fastnesses he bore
Of unsubdued Cantabria, there deposed
One day to be the boast of yet unbuilt
Oviedo, & the dear idolatry
Of multitudes unborn. To things of state
Then giving thought mature, he held advice
With Odoar whom of counsel competent
And firm of heart he knew. What then they plannd
Time & the course of overruled events
To earlier act had ripened, than their hope
Had ever in its gladdest dreams proposed
And here by agents unforeseen, & means
Beyond the scope of foresight brought about,
This day they saw their dearest hearts desire
Accorded them: all-able Providence
Thus having ordered all, that Spain this hour
With happiest omens & on surest base
Shoud from its ruins rear again her throne.

For acclamation & for sacring now
One form must serve, more solemn for the breach
Of old observances, whose absence here
Deeplier impress’d the heart than all display
Of regal pomp & wealth pontifical,
Of vestments radiant with their gems & stiff
With ornature of gold, the glittering train
The long procession, & the full-voiced quire.
This day the forms of piety & war
In strange but fitting union must combine.
Not in his alb & cope & orary
Came Urban now, nor wore he mitre here
Precious or auriphrygiate; bare of head
He stood, all else in arms compleat, & oer
His gorgets iron rings the pall was thrown
Of wool indeed, which on the Apostles tomb
Gregory had laid & sanctified with prayer.
That from the living pontiff & the dead
Replete with holiness, it might impart
Doubly derived its grace. One page beside
Bore his broad shadowed helm, another hand
Held his long spear, more suited in these times
For Urban than the crosier richly wrought
With argent foliature, the elaborate work
Of Grecian or Italian artist traind
In the Eastern Capital, or sacred Rome
Still oer the West predominant, tho fallen.
Better the Spear befits the Shepherds hand
When robbers break the fold! Now he had laid
The weapon by, & held a natural cross
Of rudest form, unpeeld, even as it grew
On the near oak that morn.
Mutilate alike
Of royal rites was this solemnity.
Where was the rubied crown, the sceptre where,
And where the golden pome, the proud array
Of ermines, aureate vests & jewelry
With all which Leuvigild for after Kings
Left, ostentatious of his power. The Moor
Had made his spoil of these; & on the field
Of Xeres where contending multitudes
Had trampled it beneath their bloody feet
The standard of the Goths forgotten lay,
Defiled, & rotting there in sun & rain.
Utterly is it lost; for never more
Herald or Antiquarys patient search
Shall from forgetfulness avail to save
Those blazoned arms, so fatally of old
Renownd thro all the affrighted Occident.
That banner before which imperial Rome
First to a Conqueror bowd her head subdued;
Which when the dreadful Hun with all his powers
Came like a deluge rolling oer the world,
Made head & in the front of battle broke
His force till then resistless; which so oft
Had with alternate fortune braved the Frank,
Driven the Byzantine from the farthest shores
Of Spain, long-lingering there, to final flight
And of their kingdoms & their name despoild
The Vandal & the Alan, & the Sueve,
Blotted from human records is it now
As tho it never had {it had never} been. So let it rest
With things forgotten! But Oblivion neer
Shall cancel from the historic roll, nor time
Who changeth all, obscure that fated sign
Which brighter now than mountain snows at noon
To the broad Sun displays its argent field.

Rose not the vision then within {upon} thy soul
O Roderick, when within that argent field
Thou sawest the rampant Lion, red as if
Upon some noblest quarry he had rolld
Rejoicing in his satiate rage, & drunk
With blood & fury? Did the auguries
Which opened on thy spirit bring with them
A perilous consolation, deadening heart
And soul, yea worse than death,. that thou thro
The chequerd way of life, evil & good
Thy errors & thy virtues hadst but been
The poor mere instrument of things ordain’d,
Doing or suffering, impotent alike
To will or act, perpetually bemockd
With semblance of volition, yet in all
Blind worker of the ways of Destiny!
That thought intolerable which in the hour
OF woe indignant conscience had repell’d
As little might it find reception now
When the regenerate spirit self approvd
Beheld its sacrifice compleat. With faith
Elate, he saw the bannered Lion float
Refulgent, & recalld that thrilling shout
Which he had heard when on Romanos grave
The joy of victory woke him from his dream
And sent him with prophetic hope to work
Fulfilment of the great events ordain’d,
There in imaginations inner world
Prefigured to his soul
Alone advanced
Before the ranks the Goth in silence stood
While from all voices round loquacious joy
Mingled its buzz continuous with the blast
Of horn, shrill pipe, & tinkling cymbals clash
And sound of deafening drum. But when the Prince
Drew nigh, & Urban with the Cross upheld
Stept forth to meet him, all at once were stilld
With instantaneous hush, as when the wind
Which has with {Before whose} violent gusts the forest oaks
Tossing like billows their tempestuous heads
Roll {Roar} like a raging sea, suspends it force
And leaves a calm so dead that not a leaf
Moves on the silent spray. The passi passing air
Bore with it from the thicket woodland undisturbed
The ring-doves gentle wooing, & the quiet voice
Of waters warbling near.
Son of a race
Of heroes & of kings, the Primate thus
Addresst him, thou in whom the Gothic blood
Mingling with old Iberias has restored
To Spain a ruler of her native line;
Stand forth & in the face of God & Man
Swear to uphold the right, abate the wrong
With equitable hand, protect the Cross
Whereon thy lips this day shall seal their vow,
And underneath that hallowed symbol, wage
Holy & inextinguishable war
Against the accursed nation that usurps
Thy countrys sacred soil.
So speak of me
Now & for ever O my Countrymen,
Replied Pelayo, & so deal with me
Here & hereafter, thou, Almighty God
In whom I put my trust!
Lord God of Hosts
Urban pursued, of Angels & of men
Creator & Disposer, King of Kings
Governor of Earth & Heaven, look down this day
And multiply thy blessings on the head
Of this thy servant, chosen in thy sight!
Be thou his Counsellor, his Comforter
His hope, his joy, his refuge & his strength;
Crown him with just[MS torn] & with fortitude,
Defend him with thy all sufficient shield.
Surround him every where with the right hand
Of thine all-present power, & with the might
Of thy omnipotence send in his aid
Thy unseen angels forth, that potently
And royally against all enemies
He may endure & triumph! Bless the law
Oer which he is appointed; bless it with x [2] 
The waters of the firmament, the springs
Of the low-lying deep, the fruits which Sun
And moon mature for man, the precious store
Of the eternal hills, & all the gifts
Of earth, its wealth & fullness!
Then he took
Pelayo’s hand & on his finger placed
The mystic circlet. With this ring O Prince
To our dear Spain, who like a widow now
Mourneth in desolation, I thee wed.
For weal or woe thou takest her till Death
Dispart the union: Be it blest to her
To thee & to thy seed.
Thus when he ceased
He gave the awaited signal. Roderick brought
The buckler. Eight for strength & stature chosen
Came to their honoured office: round the shield
Standing they lower it for the Chieftain feet
Then slowly raisd upon their shoulders lift
The steady weight: Erect Pelayo stands
And thrice he brandishes the shining sword
While Urban to the assembled people cries
Spaniards behold your King! The multitude
Then sent forth all their voices with loud acclaim
Raising the loud real, thrice did that [MS torn]
Ring thro air & echo from the walls
Of Cangas. Far & wide the thundering sound
Rolling among reduplicating rocks
Peeld oer the hills, & up the mountain vales.
The wild ass starting in the forest glade
Ran to the covert; the affrighted wolf
Skulkd thro the thicket to a den closer brake
The sluggish bear awakend in his den
Rousd up & answered with a sullen growl
Low-breathd & long, & at the uproar scared
The brooding Eagle from her nest took wing

Heroes & Chiefs of old, & ye who bore,
Firm to the last, your part in that dread strife
When Julian & Witizas viler race
Betrayed their country, hear ye from yon heaven
The joyful acclamation which proclaims
That Spain is born again? Oh ye who died
In that disastrous field, & ye who fell
Embracing [MS torn] martyrs zeal your death
Amid the flames of Auria, & all ye,
Victims innumerable, whose cries unheard
On earth, but heard in Heaven, from all the land
Went up, for xxxxxxx {vengeance not in vain ye cry}
Around the eternal throne: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; – rest innocent blood
Vengeance is due, & vengeance will be given;
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Rest innocent blood! The appointed age [MS obscured]
The star that harbingers a glorious day
Hath risen! Lo there the Avenger stands! Lo there
He brandishes the avenging sword, Lo there
The avenging banner spreads its argent field
Refulgent with auspicious light. Rejoice
O Leon! for thy banner is displayd,
Rejoice with all thy mountains & thy plains vales
And streams! And thou O Spain thro all thy realms
For thy deliverance cometh! Even now
As x on all sides the miscreant hosts move on,
From southern Betis, from the western lands
Where thro redundant vales smooth Minho flows,
And Douro rolls thro vineclad hills the wealth
Of Leons gathered waters; from the plains
Burgensian, in old time Vardulia call’d,
But in their castellated strength ere long
To be designd Castille, a deathless name,
From midland regions where Toledo reigns
Proud city on her royal eminence
And Tagus with {bends} his sickle guards {round} the scene,
Of Rodericks fall, from rich Riojas fields,
Dark Ebros shores, the walls of Salduba
Seat of the Sedetanians old, by Rome
Cæsarean & August denominate,
Now Zaragoza, in these later time,
Above all cities of the earth renownd
For duty perfectly performed; East, West,
And South, where’er their gathering multitudes
Urged by speed of vigorous tyranny,
With more than with commensurable strength
Haste to prevent the danger, crush the hopes
Of rising Spain, & twist round her neck
The eternal yoke, the ravenous fowls of heaven
Flock there presentient of their food obscene
Following the accursed armies, whom too well
They know their purveyors long. Pursue their way march
Ominous attendants! ere the Moon hath filld
Her horns, these purveyors shall become the prey
And ye on Moorish not on Christian flesh
Wearying your beaks shall clog your scaly feet
With foreign gore. Soon ye will learn to know
Followers & harbingers of blood the flag
Of Leon, where it leads you to your feast!
Terror & Flight shall with that flag go forth,
And Havoc & the Dogs of War & Death
[MS obscured]donga {with} the tainted stream
[MS obscured] this now rejoicing vale
[MS obscured] primitial triumphs will behold,
Nor shall the glories of the noon be less
Than such miraculous promise of the dawn.
Witness Calvijo, where the dreadful cry
Of Santiago, then first heard, oerpowerd
The Akbar, & that holier name blasphemd
By misbelieving lips! Simancas thou
Be witness, & do ye your record bear
Tolosan mountains, where the Almohade
Beheld his myriads scattered & destroyd
Like locusts swept before the stormy North.
Thou too Salado, on that later day
When thy swoln stream incarnadined, rolld back
The invaders to the deep, there shall they
xxxxxxxxxxx till
Till on their native Mauritanian shore
The waves shall throw their bones to whiten there

Notes

* Address: [deletion and readdress in another hand] To/ Walter Savage Esqre/ xxxxxxx/ Single Sheet./ {Tours/ France/ English/ Post Paid}
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298; FOREIGN/ 192/ 1814; ANGLETERRE
Postmark: PAID/ 26 SE 26/ 1814
MS: National Art Library, London, MS Forster 48 G.31 2/32–33
Unpublished. BACK

[1] A draft of the eighteenth book of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[2] X: inserted by Landor. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013