Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic.
Translated, with Notes. By J. G. LOCKHART.
New York: Wiley & Putnam.
The enterprising publishers, Messrs. Wiley & Putnam, who have reprinted, in a plain but very
neat form, Mr. Lockhart's gorgeously illustrated work, have judiciously prefixed to it, by way of
introduction, a critique on the book from the Edinburgh Review, and have added at the end of the
volume an analytical account, with specimens of the Romance of the Cid, from the Penny
Magazine. This is done with the greatest propriety, for the Cid seems to be the proper centre of
Spanish legendary poetry. The Iliad, the Nibelungen, the Cid, the Robin Hood Ballads, Frithiof's
Saga, (for the last also depends for its merit on its fidelity to the legend,) are five admirable
collections of early popular poetry of so many nations; and with whatever difference of form,
they possess strong mutual resemblances, chiefly apparent in the spirit which they communicate
to the reader, of health, vigor, cheerfulness, and good hope. In this day of reprinting and of
restoration, we hope that Southey's Chronicle of the Cid, which is a kind of "Harmony of the
Gospels" of the Spanish Romance, may be republished in a volume of convenient size. That is a
strong book, and makes lovers and admirers of "My Cid, the Perfect one, who was born in a
fortunate hour." Its traits of heroism and bursts of simple emotion, once read, can never be
forgotten; "I am not a man to be besieged;" and "God! What a glad man was the Cid on that day,"
and many the like words still ring in our ears. The Cortes at Toledo, where judgment was given
between the Cid and his sons-in-law, is one of the strongest dramatic scenes in literature. Several
of the best ballads in Mr. Lockhart's collection recite incidents of the Cid's history. The best
ballad in the book is the "Count Alarcos and the Infanta Solisa," which is a meet companion for
Chaucer's Griselda. The "Count Garci Perez de Vargas" is one of our favorites; and there is one
called the "Bridal of Andalla," which we have long lost all power to read as a poem, since we
have heard it sung by a voice so rich, and sweet, and penetrating, as to make the ballad the
inalienable property of the singer.