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some additional explanation to this British part of his enthusiasm, to find that his mother was of Welsh origin. His connections were probably a good deal among the countrymen of her family. His first wife was the daughter of a Powell. That he did not do what he intended, has been regretted by every poet who has alluded to it, from Dryden to Walter Scott. We remember a note in the latter's edition of Dryden, where he asks, what would not have been done with such subjects as the Perilous Chapel and the Forbidden Seat? So much, that being compelled to bring this article to a close, we dare not trust ourselves with dwelling upon it, — with fancying a thousandth part of the grand and the gorgeous things, the warlike and the peaceful, the bearded and the vermeil-cheeked, the manly, the supernatural, and the gentle, with which his poem would have burnt brightly down to us, like windows painted by enchantment.
OR, THE STORY OF DON ALPHONSO DE MELOS AND
THE JEWELLER'S DAUGHTER.
VERYBODY has heard of the bull-fights in
Spain. The noble animal is brought into an arena to make sport, as Samson was among the Philistines. And truly he presents him
self to one's imagination, as a creature equally superior with Samson to his tormentors; for the sport which he is brought in to furnish, is that of being murdered. The poor beast is not actuated by a perverse will, and by a brutality which is deliberate. He does but obey to the last the just feelings of his nature. He would not be forced to revenge himself, if he could help it. He would fain return to the sweet meadow and the fresh air, but his tyrants will not let him. He is stung with arrows, goaded and pierced with javelins, hewn at with swords, beset with all the devilries of horror and astonishment that can exasperate him into madness; and the tormentors themselves feel that he is in the right, if he can but give bloody deaths to his bloody assassins. The worst of it is, that some of these assassins, who are carried away by custom, are persons who are otherwise among the best in the kingdom. They err from that very love of sympathy, and of the admiration of their fellows, which should have been employed to teach them better.
The excuse for this diabolical pastime is, that it keeps up old Spanish qualities to their height, and prevents the nation from becoming effeminate. To what purpose ? And in how many instances ? Are not the Spanish nobility the most degenerate in Europe ? Has not its court, for three generations, been a scandal and a burlesque ? and would any other nation in Christendom consent to be made the puppets of such superiors ? What could Spain have done against France without England ? What have all its bull-fights, and all its other barbarities, done for it, to save it from the shame of being the feeblest and most superstitious of European communities, and of having no voice in the affairs of the world ?
Poor foolish Matadore! Poor, idle illiterate, unreflecting cavallero ! that is to say, “horseman !” which, by the noble power or privilege of riding a horse (a thing that any groom can do in any decent country), came to mean “gentleman !” (and no other country has derived its idea of a
gentleman from that of a centaur), can you risk your life for nothing better than this ? Must you stake wife, children, mistress, father and mother, friends, fortune, love, and all which all of them may bring you, at no higher price than the power of having it said you are a better man than the butcher ? Is there no sacred cause of country to fight for? No tyrant to oppose ? No doctrine worth martyrdom ? that you must needs, at the hazard of death and agony, set the only wits or the best qualities you possess on outdoing the greatest fools and ruffians in your city? And can you wonder that your country has no cause which it can stand to without help, or to any purpose ? that your tyrants are cruel and laugh at you ? and that your very wives and mistresses (for the most part) think there is nothing better in the world than a flaring show and a brutal sensation ?
Bull-fights are going on now, and bull-fights were going on in the wretched time of King Charles the Second, of the House of Austria, whose very aspect seemed ominous of the disasters about to befall his country; for his face was very long, his lips very thick, his mouth very wide, his nose very hooked, and he had no calves to his legs, and no brains in his skull. His clemency consisted in letting assassins go, because passion was uncontrollable ; and his wit, in sending old lords to stand in the rain, because they intimated that it would be their death. However, he was a good-natured man, as times went, especially for a King of Spain; and it is not of public disasters that we are to speak, but of the misery that befell two lovers in his day, in consequence of these detestable bull-fights.
Don Alphonso de Melos, a young gentleman of some five-and-twenty years of age, was the son of one of those Titulados of Castile, more proud than rich, of whom it was maliciously said, that “ before they were made lords, they didn't dine; and after they were made lords, they didn't sup.” He was, however, a very good kind of man, not too poor to give his sons good educations; and of his second son, Alphonso, the richest grandee might have been proud; for a better or pleasanter youth, or one of greater good sense, conventionalisms apart, had never ventured his life in a bull-fight, which he had done half a dozen times. He was, moreover, a very pretty singer; and it was even said, that he not only composed the music for his serenades, but that he wrote verses for them equal to those of Garcilaso. So, at least, thought the young lady to whom they were sent, and who used to devour them with her eyes, till her very breath failed her, and she could not speak for delight.
Poor, loving Lucinda ! — We call her poor, though she was at that minute one of the richest as well as happiest maidens in Madrid; and we speak of her as a young lady, for such she was in breeding and manners, and as such the very grandees treated her, as far as they could, though she was only the daughter of a famous jeweller, who had supplied half the great people with carcanets and rings. Her father was dead : her mother too ; she was under the care of guardians ; but Alphonso de Melos had loved her more than a year; had loved her with a real love, even though he wanted her money; would, in fact, have thrown her money to the dogs, rather than have ceased to love her; such a treasure he had found in the very fact of his passion. Their marriage was to take place within the month; and as the lady was so rich, and the lover, however noble otherwise, was only of the lowest or least privileged order of nobility (a class who had the misfor
tune of not being able to wear their hats in the king's presence, unless his majesty expressly desired it), the loftiest grandees, who would have been but too happy to marry the lovely heiress, had her father been anything but a merchant, thought that the match was not only pardonable in the young gentleman, but in a sort of way noticeable, and even in some measure to be smilingly winked at and encouraged; nay, perhaps, envied ; especially as the future husband was generous, and had a turn for making presents, and for sitting at the head of a festive table. Suddenly, therefore, appeared some of the finest emeralds and sapphires in the world upon the fingers of counts and marquises, whose jewels had hitherto been of doubtful value ; and no little sensation was made, on the gravest and most dignified of the old nobility, by a certain grandee, remarkable for his sense of the proprieties, who had discovered “serious reasons for thinking” that the supposed jeweller's offspring was a natural daughter of a late prince of the blood.
Be this as it may, Don Alphonso presented himself one morning, as usual, before his mistress, and after an interchange of transports, such as may be imagined between two such lovers, about to be joined for ever, informed her, that one only thing more was now remaining to be done, and then — in the course of three mornings — they would be living in the same house.
“And what is that?” said Lucinda, the tears rushing into her eyes for excess of adoring happiness.
“Only the bull-fight,” said the lover, affecting as much indifference, as he could affect in anything when speaking with his eyes on hers. But he could not speak it in quite the tone he wished.
“The bull-fight!” scarcely ejaculated his mistress, turn