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ground of consanguinity, when he contends for her love with Don Pedro, Conde de Lara, who had not waited for the sentence that made his suit lawful, to seek the Queen's hand by flattering her vanity. Of the levity and self-complacency of her Majesty, the following scene is an amusing and happy illustration. Candespina has, with a very few assistants, surprised the Arragonese castle in which Donna Urraca with a favourite maid of honour, Leonora Guzman, was kept prisoner by her husband, who would arrogate all authority in her dominions. The Conde has released the Queen, and with equal skill and secresy escorts her safely to the actual frontiers of Castile. The party halts for the last time in an Arragonese village:
The house that appeared the least miserable was selected, and, without further ceremony, Don Gomez sent its master orders to receive the Queen, not even announcing her exalted dignity. The plebeians were then accustomed to submit voluntarily or perforce to the will of the nobles, who issued their orders at the point of the spear, and did not wonder at their exactions. Accordingly, the Arragonese peasant expressed no repugnance to affording the hospitality thus courteously solicited. He showed his guests into what was called a saloon, in which no furniture was seen beyond a coarse deal table, a few benches of the same material, and a large leather chair, that was evidently the oldest and most respectable occupant of the place. In this saloon was an alcove, containing a bed, perfectly in keeping with the rest of the furniture, and destined for Donna Urraca.
"The Queen, upon entering this miserable hut, cast a glance around her, and a deep sigh told how much she missed the splendour of a court. The Conde understood her, but unable to remedy a single discomfort, he deemed it wise to say nothing upon such subjects. Engrossed by his plan respecting Don Hernando's mission, he scarcely waited till she had seated herself, when he bent his knee before her, and besought her permission to prefer a petition. Having obtained it, he set forth, clearly but concisely, the necessity that existed for soliciting the aid of the Senor de Najara, to escort her to Burgos, where Don Alfonso's partisans bore sway. The Queen listened to his discourse with evident signs of impatience, and then said, "Never should I have believed that the Queen of Castile would be reduced to beg the aid of her vassals." "Your highness," returned Don Gomez, "has not understood, assuredly by my fault, what I meant to say. There is no question of your highness's begging any one's aid, but of your condescending to announce your arrival in your own dominions to the Senor de Nájara; an honour which will pledge that cavalier to your defence."—" And how, Conde, do I chance to need his help? Have I not plenty of vassals in Castile as noble, as powerful, and as bold as he ?"-" Nobles there are in Castile, Senora, many, and very powerful; but I grieve to say, not all perhaps". . . . “ I understand you. You fear that they may adhere to the King of Arragon in preference to their natural Queen. Whilst they believed me his lawful wife, whilst I was absent, they may perhaps have submitted to Don Alfonso. But when I present myself, trust me, Conde, there will not be a single one who will not follow my standard."-" So it should be; so I would have it, but dare not rely upon its being so.-At least let your highness be assured that it were imprudent to present yourself before Burgos, without a stronger escort than that which now attends you.""How odd you are, Conde! Do you think the force with which you undertook to snatch me from the power of my enemies inadequate to escort me in my own dominions."
"Donna Leonora, who was present at this conversation, perceived the justness of the Conde's views; but saw, at the same time, that it was useless to contend against the Queen's vanity and that, unless the affair could be presented to her under a totally different light, she would never consent to that which was indispensable to her own interest. A happy expedient suddenly occurred to her, and, at the risk of incurring a sharp reproof, she ventured to mix in the conversation, saying to the Queen-" If your highness would permit me.... "-" How, Leonora, do you too mistrust the loyalty of my vassals?"-" No, Senora," returned the dextrous court favourite; "so far from it, I hold the Conde's fears to be wholly unfounded."—“ Donna Leonora !" exclaimed the Conde, provoked to see the lady in waiting thus spontaneously oppose his judicious plan; "Donna Leonora, have you maturely considered...." "Let her speak," said the Queen, interrupting him. "Go on, Leonora; let us see if you can convince this good cabellero.”— "I cannot think it necessary," said Leonora, even to refute the fears which the Conde de Candespina's unbounded zeal has led him to conceive. His lordship will pardon me if I think him wholly in error. I am much mis. taken if there be a single noble in Castile who is not ready to sacrifice himself for the charms of Donna Urraca."- Not for my charms, since I boast none, but for my rights, assuredly."—" Your highness speaks thus from modesty," pursued the lady; "but at any rate, your highness cannot need the Senor de Nájara's troops for your protection; nevertheless I should not hesitate to send for them."
The astonishment of the Queen and the Count, at this strange conclusion of Donna Leonora's speech, cannot well be described. The first looked at her angrily, the second with admiration; but she, who had foreseen this, without giving them time to recollect themselves, went on as follows:
'If your highness will deign to listen to me another minute, my meaning will appear. I repeat that the Senor de Nájara's troops are unnecessary for your security; but does your highness think it beseems your high dignity to enter Burgos in the same litter with your only female attendant, without domestics, without more guards than eight or nine, assuredly valiant soldiers, but whose arms are still blood-stained, whose garments are covered with dust."
"In very truth, Leonora, you are in the right, and I will send to the Senor de Nájara to come and escort us to our Castillian capital. Write the letter, Conde, and I will sign it; but take care to express, that the motive of our summons is suggested by Leonora, and not the slightest distrust of the loyalty of our vassals."
The following is a more bustling portion of the romance. The Queen has, by her own imprudence, again fallen into her husband's power; and two of her most stanch adherents, Don Hernando de Olea and Don Diego de Nájara, who have been seized with her, are confined in prison. Their escape is thus related ::
"The gaolers had been charged to visit the prison frequently, in order to prevent the captives from forcing the iron bars of their window, or organizing any other mode of escape. The last of these disagreeable visits, periodically paid to our prisoners, took place after midnight. The gaolers then entered, each with his lantern, each armed with a sword and dagger; they first examined the chamber, then each cautiously approached the bed of one of the captives, to ascertain that he really occupied it. This was the hour
which the two cabelleros selected for the execution of their hazardous enter
"It was about one o'clock in the morning, when a hoarse sound of keys and bolts announced the approach of the gaolers; the heavy door creaked upon its hinges, and the pale scanty light of the lanterns illumined the chamber. The breathing of the two prisoners was equal and heavy, and the most acute observer could not have guessed that they were awake, and struggling between hope and fear.
"They sleep," said the Castilian to the Aragonese gaoler.-" Would it were for ever!" returned he." Silence, lest they wake and hear.”—“ What should they hear? Don't you hear how Don Diego snores?"-" Perhaps," rejoined the first, without interrupting his examination of the apartment; perhaps your wishes may be quickly fulfilled."—"Oh! Oh! so that".... "Tis said they will be treated as they deserve"-meaning beheaded. -"Precisely." Dogs!" Hernando was about to exclaim, but fortunately restrained himself.-"The sooner the better," subjoined the gaoler. And now, having completed their examination of the dungeon, they, according to custom, placed their lanterns on the ground, and each approached the bed of a pri.***The two gaolers, satisfied that their prisoners were asleep, turned their backs to the beds, to resume their lanterns and depart. But at this instant both gentlemen sprang upon them, with unparalleled celerity, and strongly grasping their throats, brought them to the ground before they could speak a word, or recover from the alarm of so sudden and unexpected an assault. "Utter an Oh! and thou art dead, wretch," said Hernando to the Aragonese gaoler, placing his knee upon his breast, and threatening him with his own dagger, which, as well as his cutlass, he had just snatched from him ; whilst Don Diego held his opponent under equal subjection, telling him in a calm voice, that he must not stir if he wished to live. "All resistance is useless, slaves," said Don Diego. 'Ye are already disarmed, and under any circumstances we are more than a match for "'**** " you.' Keep you that one under control," he added; and as for you, friend, get up and undress yourself with all dispatch, if you would not try the temper of your own dagger."
"The confounded and trembling gaoler obeyed, and when he had finished, Don Diego again threw him upon the ground, where he tied his hands and feet with the sheets of his bed, and stopped his mouth with a cloth, so that he could not move nor call for help.
"When both gaolers were thus stripped and secured, Don Hernando and Don Diego disguised themselves in their apparel, not forgetting their arms, and still less the bunch of keys borne by one of them. Then, each taking up a ready prepared and concealed bundle, they issued from their dungeon, fervently recommending themselves to the protection of God, and closing the doors with all the precautions usually employed to insure their own safe custody by the gaolers, whose parts they were now to play.
Neither Hernando nor Diego had seen any more of the prison they inhabited than their own apartment, except upon the day they were brought thither. But the impression then made upon them was sufficient to enable them, aided by the lights they bore, and walking very cautious, to reach the guard-room, in which lay the soldiers wrapt in untroubled sleep. They
crossed it, unchallenged by the sentry, who, from their dress, believed them to be the gaolers, and issued forth into the street."
The continuation, too long to extract, tells how they were enabled to quit the town and reach the camp of Conde de Candespina. These samples show the tenour and the style of this work by the Alferez Escosura. We now pass to one of greater note.
The romance we mean is "Donna Isabel de Solis, Queen of Granada," Novela Historica, by Don Francisco Martinez de la Rosa. But before we speak of the book, we would say a word or two of the author. There is, perhaps, no more sad instance of the cruel effect of intestine strife upon literature than the career of Martinez de la Rosa. Had his native land been any other civilised country of Europe than Spain, this gifted writer would have flourished in the full enjoyment of popularity, encouragement, and honour: in Spain, his reward has been, first a captivity for years in an African dungeon, then exile, and eventually a necessity of exclusive devotion to politics to obtain that rank and station which belonged of right to his genius and birth. His earlier life has been one continued struggle to revive among his countrymen a taste for learning and letters. He has appeared as an essayist, a critic, an historian, a poet, a dramatist, in fine, as a writer in every style and upon every subject. All his productions have much attraction, and display ability of a superior order. In proof of his literary qualities, is the fact of his being appreciated by a people capable of paying tribute to merit. When driven from his country, Martinez de la Rosa wrote plays in France, in the French language, which were successfully performed at Paris. On his return to Spain, he became a distinguished partisan of that side misnamed Liberal, in a country where liberality has no existence. Amid his political greatness, however, he once more briefly resumed his pen, and in 1838-a period when there seemed some chance of peace, he brought out at Madrid the romance we are now going to describe.
The subject of" Donna Isabel de Solis" is taken from the later years of the struggle between the Spaniards and the Moors for the territory of Granada. The heroine of the tale, Donna Isabel, is the daughter of Don Sancho le Solis, governor of Martos, a fortress belonging to the knights of Calatrava, nd situate on the very verge of the Moorish dominions. The strange and omantic adventures of Isabel occupy the narrative. At the actual moment f her marriage with a noble suitor, Pedro de Venegas, the wedding ceremony is surprised, and put an end to, by an irruption of the Moors. Isabel's father and lover are slain, and she herself is carried into captivity. Here, after a series of romantic incidents, she is induced, by her passion for the Moorish king, Abu-l-Hassan, to forget her friends and country; she becomes the unhappy bride of the Mussulman monarch, and ascends the throne of Granada. The marriage eventually causes the fall of the Moorish power in Spain. This romance, as a mere story, is not one of very great interest: much of it is trivial and commonplace, and it frequently wants animation. The historical portion, though fine of itself, is too prolix to be connected with what is intended to be a stirring and adventurous tale. Still the work exhibits much striking talent. Many of the descriptions are extremely beautiful, especially a lively and truly poetical picture which the author gives of the city of Granada. The style and language of the romance throughout are excellent; the writing is pure without being antiquated, eloquent and vigorous without affectation, and will afford no small gratification to those who can appreciate the stately and sonorous dialect of Spain. As a speci
men of the work, we give the following account of the fatal interruption to the nuptials of Isabel de Solis at Martos:
"The night fixed for the espousals at length arrived, and a silent calm succeeded to the noise and bustle of the day, not unlike the tranquillity of the ocean after a storm. The followers of the different guests, and the menials of the castle, overcome with sleep and wine, lay dispersed about the courts and corridors. A few only of the principal household servants, and the ladies and knights who were to witness the ceremony, stood at the door of the chapel in anxious expectation of the signal. A low murmur announced at last the arrival of the bride and bridegroom with their friends, and immediately afterwards a dozen pages, with a torch of wax in one hand, and the cup in the other, were seen approaching the chapel with due solemnity and composure. They were followed by Isabel and Don Pedro, who, deeply absorbed in their own thoughts, walked in silence, scarcely daring to raise their eyes from the ground. Not so the Commendador, who, with Don Alonso de Cordova and the Senor de Zuheros, walked with head erect and cheerful countenance; the cortège being closed by Isabel's handmaidens, wrapt up in mantles, and by a few favoured esquires who had, by dint of entreaty, obtained this signal distinction.
"The chapel of the castle was small and dark, and had only one nave; the ceiling was of carved walnut, the altar adorned with wooden images, placed in gilt niches. But the antiquity of the retreat, and its rude ornaments, raised the soul above worldly contemplation, and inspired sweet and melancholy reveries. The idea that there, under the marble flags with which the chapel was paved, many of the ancestors of the Commendador, slept in peace, their ashes mingled with the earth redeemed by them from the Moors, and their bodies lying under the altars which they had in life defended, contributed not a little to impress the mind with religious feelings. In the centre of the chapel, a foot above ground, rose a sepulchre, on which was coarsely carved the figure of a young woman, with the hands crossed over the breast, the feet joined, and the face looking up to heaven. It was that of the mother of Isabel; and the Commendador felt a degree of consolation mixed with sorrow, in the thought that his sainted wife might witness and bless their daughter's union from her tomb. The bride was already at the foot of the altar, pale and tremulous; the bridegroom by her side breathless and agitated; the minister of heaven was pronouncing the sacred words, and on the point of receiving the fatal yes which was to unite them until death, when suddenly an appalling shriek struck every one with horror. The Commendador and his friends first thought it might be a scuffle among the people of the castle; but immediately after, the cry of "Fire!" and the approach of a confused multitude, the clatter of arms, the precipitate step of fugitives, the groans of the wounded and dying, too plainly told the fatal truth.
Isabel fainted away in the arms of her husband; her friends and retainers fled panic-struck; the Commendador rushed out like lightning to inquire into the cause of the alarm, but was himself met at the door of the chapel by the crowd of fugitives, who thronged to it for refuge. In vain did he demand to be heard; in vain he repeated question after question: no answer could be obtained, his voice was drowned in cries and lamentations, as though death were at hand. Alas! it was but too near.
"The Moors on the frontiers, encouraged by a long peace, and secure of making an easy prey of people plunged in heedless revelry, had, during the night, scaled the walls of the castle, and, profiting by the negligence of the