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cutcheons of the Moorish monarchs: the upper part is faced with the fine stucco-work invented at Damascus, consisting of large plates, cast in moulds, and artfully joined, so as to have the appearance of having been laboriously sculptured by the hand into light relievos and fanciful arabesques, intermingled with texts of the Koran, and poetical inscriptions in Arabian and Cufic characters. These decorations of the walls and cupolas are richly gilded, and the interstices pencilled with lapislazuli, and other brilliant and enduring colours. On each side of the hall are recesses for ottomans and couches. Above an inner porch is a balcony which communicated with the women's apartment. The latticed - jalousies” still remain, from whence the dark-eyed beauties of the haram might gaze unseen upon the entertainments of the hall below. (The Alhambra.)
Mateo justified his title by his learning in all the legendary lore pertaining to his alma mater, and by his implicit faith in all the tales of magic and sorcery with which, from time to time, he is represented as amusing his patron. From this quarter, and from other sources presenting themselves in the course of an actual residence in the Alhambra, Mr. Irving describes himself as having derived the materials of his work; and in this way, mingling pleasant fiction with lively portraiture, he has made up two slight but agreeable volumes. The same quiet humour, the same easy and happy style, the same talent for rich and beautiful, though unexaggerated description, which were so attractively conspicuous in his former publications, will be recognized in the present work, which we receive with regret as a parting gift, a friendly leave from a valued guest. If we have missed the more racy character that distinguishes his Rip van Winkle, his Dolf Heyliger, and his Stout Gentleman, we have, at least, found the same qualities under a different garb. His comedy sports as playfully, if not as vigorously, among his Spaniards and Orientals, as among his Englishmen and Hollanders. His diablerie has changed its country, but not its ingenious invention: he has done few things better than the fine description of the spell-bound warriors of Granada in the cavern of the Nevada mountains.
Mr. Irving has been judicious in the choice of his localities. A lovelier spot does not exist on earth, than the Vega, or great plain of Granada, spreading out to a circumference of nearly forty leagues, surrounded with lofty mountains, and watered by the Xenil. The industrious Moors made of this beautiful site, a rich and luxuriant garden, every where intersected by refreshing rills, drawn from the main stream, and forming a complete system of artificial irrigation. Orchards and vineyards, cornfields and pleasure-grounds, fountains and pavilions, grove and parterre, covered the whole surface of this region of delight. Its pure atmosphere, its glowing vegetation, its infinite variety, so enraptured the imaginative people who had thus called forth and
cherished its breathing beauty, that they believed the paradise of their prophet to occupy that portion of the heavens which overhung the kingdom of Granada. Nor were the glorious palaces which from their mountain throne overlooked this scene of enchantment, unworthy of its splendour. Enough has been already said and cited concerning these marvellous edifices, to convey some slight and general idea of their magnificence; but even the happiest description must fail to impress adequate notions of the exquisite finish and redundant fancy exhibited in the details. Of the structures of Grecian art, it is possible to give exact definition; for in them, beautiful as they are, every feature is subordinate to strict and severe principle, and every outline may be subjected to cord and compass. But the architecture of the Easterns, in this the high and palmy day of Arabian power and genius, displays a complication and luxuriance that bid defiance to simple description. The pencil alone can fairly exhibit the forms and enrichments of the Alhambra and the Generalife; yet, even in its happiest efforts, the imagination must supply much in the way of accompaniment, and all that relates to magnitude and extent. Maugre the difficulties and disagreeables connected with Spanish travel, we are surprised that our artists have not been more attracted in this direction. Mr. Murphy made, a few years since, a spirited, though, we fear, an unprofitable attempt to give a faithful portrait of the Moorish antiquities of Spain, but the plan of his work was in some respects injudicious, and it did not even pretend to give the picturesque character of these admirable remains. Lithography, skilfully managed, might be turned to good account here; and we would recommend Mr. Harding, Mr. Prout, or Mr. Stanfield, severally or together, to obtain passports forthwith from Ferdinand the Beloved. Instead of Rome and Venice, places of which we are getting a pictorial surfeit, we would recommend to the editors of our Landscape Annuals, Granada, Cordova, and Seville.
And the singular people by whom all these wonders were achieved—what was their origin, and whence did they derive all that mastery in arts and arms, which gave them the dominion of Spain, made them the instructors of Europe, and enabled them to design and build the Mosque of Cordova, the Alcazar of Seville, and the halls of the Alhambra ? These are questions which have been largely and sometimes ably discussed, but concerning which far more certainty is desirable in their solution, than has hitherto been attained. In architecture, at least, we suspect that their genius was imitative, rather than inventive; unless they may claim the horse-shoe arch,- a feature rivalling in ugliness and absurdity the broken entablature, or the truncated pediment. In science, they were the disciples of the Greeks: their metaphysics may have been unborrowed. Still, they were a brilliant and
high-spirited race, accomplished and industrious, gallant and 'gay ', although offering many embarrassing anomalies to the investigation of the historian.
Among the various specialties of their story, their conquest of Spain is, perhaps, the most remarkable. It was achieved marvellously and at once: one fierce struggle, one bloody fight, and the Iberian submitted to the Moor. The very origin of the business is involved in mystery: no one puts faith in the romance of La Caba, and yet, there are clear, though imperfect indications of strange and treacherous elements at work throughout the early scenes of Spanish subjugation. Happily for Spain-happily, at least, for the European Spaniard—the mercurial tribes that overran her fairest provinces, were connected by no consolidating bond of political constitution. The successful warrior became the powerful chieftain ; the Alcayde of a strong fortress held it on his own account, rather than for the interests of his sovereign; even the ties of family and clanship became sources of discord and motives of ambition. Nor did these causes of disunion and weakness cease or diminish with the continued possession of the land; while, on the other hand, the feuds and divisions which broke down the strength of the Christian states, and opened the way for the Moorish inroad, gradually yielded to the sense of a common danger, until, at length, the united force of an aroused and determined nation swept before it every vestige of opposition. The history, both general and particular, of these events, has of course been often written, and with various degrees of skill and success, but, up to a late period, on an erroneous principle. The old and shrewd fable of the Lion and the Sculptor, had found its application on both sides; but, on the Christian part especially, it seems to have been held ' very stuff of the conscience' to write without the smallest regard to the Arabian authorities. Other causes, however, than prejudice or bad faith, contributed to this neglect. The study of the Arabian language has always been exceedingly limited; nor have facilities for its acquisition at all times presented themselves. At the period, in particular, of the fall of Granada, the literature of the Moors was held in great contempt; and when that city fell into the hands of the Christian army, thousands of volumes were consigned to the flames, while as many as could be saved by the possessors were transported to Africa. Still nearer to our own times, this loss had been in part repaired by the library of Muley Zidan, Emperor of Marocco, which was taken at sea during the reign of Philip III., and deposited at the Escurial; but, in 1671, the greater portion was consumed by a casual conflagration. Enough, however, yet remains of this invaluable literature, to throw a strong and steady illumination along the whole track of Spanish history from the date of the invasion to that of the expulsion; and a slight exposition of the character of the materials on which the native annals of Spain have been hitherto constructed, will enable our readers to appreciate the labours of Señor Conde.
The early chronicles of Spain are singularly sterile: they have not even the comparative merit of piquant and picturesque detail, but set down events of all magnitudes in the dry, brief style of a shopkeeper's day-book. Erâ 1124 fuit illa die Badajoz, is the sole description of the bloody and disastrous battle of Zalaca, afforded by the Chronicle of Compostella. The Toledo Annalist is more communicative. Erà 1124, he informs us, arrancaron Moros al Rey Don Alonso en Zagalla.—' In 1124, the Moors . defeated the king Don Alphonso at Zagalla’. From such materials as these, as also from certain Arabian documents, the learned Archbishop of Toledo, Ruy Ximenes, compiled his history; a creditable, but imperfect work, and extending downward only to the year 1140. The general chronicle composed by the order of Alphonso the Sage, adopts with insufficient discrimination, the fabulous intromissions of the antient annalists. Such are the principal sources of Spanish history; and it will be acknowledged that they leave ample room for a diligent reference to Arabian documents. This interesting field has been explored by Conde with great diligence and with no mean skill. His opinion of the necessity for its laborious investigation, is strongly stated in the following passage, which we translate in illustration and enforcement of our preceding observations,
It was not, in fact, possible to write this history without the help of Arabian books. All that we know, up to the present time, of them and of their long sojourn in Spain, we owe to our old chronicles ; but the brief, imperfect, incorrect notions which they convey, their prevalent confusion, and the barbarous style which augments their obscurity, make them unfit for consultation ; and if it be also considered that they were written under the influence of strong antipathy, at the very time when all the passions in arms allowed no other intercourse between the nations, than such as might spring from the circumstances of war, it will be evident that no reliance can be placed on these ancient annals. It is because they have been made up from such vicious sources, that our histories exhibit such numerous errors; such, for instance, as the prevailing opinion that the conquerors of Spain were followed by innumerable armies, and by barbarous hordes, shedding, with no distinction of age or sex, torrents of blood, and covering the ground with ruins. These ideas, originating in the terror inspired by the rapidity of the conquest, were embodied in the traditions adopted by the old chroniclers; but, in order to form a sound judgement concerning the events of those times, we must consult the Arabian authors. From them only do we learn, that a veteran army, not only brave but animated by religious fanaticism, landed in Andalusia, ravaged the deserted fields of Lusitania, and, by a single victory gained over the degenerate Goths, effected the conquest of all Spain: that, instead of the oppression which they dreaded, so mild was the treatment of the conquered, as to give them cause for rejoicing in their transfer to masters who, leaving them the free exercise of their religion, the possession of their property, and the enjoyment of their freedom, exacted from them nothing but a moderate tribute, and submission to laws enacted for the general good.' (Conde- Preface.)
Señor Conde's is not the first, though it is the only decidedly successful essay to obtain the details of these transactions from Arabian writers. In 1765, M. Cardonne, an accomplished Orientalist, published an · Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne
sous la Domination des Arabes', drawn up from various manuscripts in the library of the king of France. The authorities were not of primary value, but they were the best within the reach of the learned Compiler; and the work itself was for many years the only reference of the kind, though now superseded by the present Writer's far superior and more extensive labours. Indefatigable industry, and the most scrupulous attention to accuracy, appear to have marked all Conde's processes of thought and composition. He not only analysed a large series of Eastern writers, but carefully examined the literature of other nations for comparison and elucidation. In his original work, the Arabian chroniclers were allowed to describe events in their own words carefully rendered; and so far did he carry his attention to accuracy, that he gave a minute description of the form, size, and character of every manuscript used by him in his task.
We exceedingly wish that M. de Marlès had dealt with the learned Librarian of the Escurial, as that well-judging scholar did with his Arabian manuscripts. He has, however, chosen a different course; and he had quite as good a right as his Grace of Newcastle, to do as it might please him with his own. That course, however, we cannot but regret, since an opportunity, not likely to recur, has been missed, of transferring from a language but partially studied, into the most current dialect of modern times, a work of the highest worth. M. de Marlès has made the Spanish original of Señor Conde, the ground-work of a complete history; discarding, to a great extent, the Arabic peculiarities of phrase, and supplying, what the Spaniard had almost altogether neglected, the contemporary history of the Christian states of Spain. By this process, he has probably increased the popularity of his book; and we will not quarrel with a valuable publication, because we differ from the Author as to its form. So far as we have examined the volumes, we have found them ably executed, and of uncommon interest. Nor is it enough to say of them, that they furnish the best historical illustration of their particular subject, that is to be found in the French language, since they are entitled to something very much beyond merely comparative praise : they may claim a high place among the permanent con