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She is wild as the sea!
She is wild! she is wild!
Who shall speak to the child?
in other countries, long bore its sure impress. The old laws, too, speak no less plainly. Indeed, the passion for such fictions was so strong, and seemed so dangerous, that in 1553 they were prohibited from being printed, sold, or read in the During the course of the period we have been American colonies; and in 1555 the Cortes ear- considering there runs another rich vein of literanestly asked that the same prohibition might be ture, the beautiful Provençal-those lays of love extended to Spain itself, and that all the extant and chivalry poured forth by the Troubadours in copies of romances of chivalry might be publicly the little court of Provence, and afterwards of Catburned. And finally, half a century later, the alonia. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuhappiest work of the greatest genius Spain has
produced bears witness on every page to the prev-ries, when the voice of the minstrel was hardly alence of an absolute fanaticism for books of chiv-heard in other parts of Europe, the northern shores alry, and becomes at once the seal of their vast of the Mediterranean, on either side of the Pyrepopularity and the monument of their fate. nees, were alive with song. But it was the melody of a too early spring, to be soon silenced under the wintry breath of persecution.
We can barely touch on the Drama, the last of the three great divisions into which our author has thrown this period. It is of little moment, for, down to the close of the fifteenth century, the Castilian drama afforded small promise of the brilliant fortunes that awaited it. It was born under an Italian sky. Almost its first lispings were at the vice-regal court of Naples, and, under a foreign influence, it displayed few of the national characteristics which afterwards marked its career. Yet the germs of future excellence may be discerned in the compositions of Encina and Naharro; and the "Celestina," though not designed for the stage, had a literary merit that was acknowledged throughout Europe.
Mr. Ticknor, who paid, while in Europe, much attention to the Romance dialects, has given a pleasing analysis of this early literature, after it had fled from the storms of persecution to the south of Spain. But few will care to learn a language which locks up a literature that was rather one of a beautiful promise than performance—that prematurely perished and left no sign. And yet it did leave some sign of its existence, in the influ
ence it exerted both on Italian and Castilian
This was peculiarly displayed at the court of John the Second of Castile, who flourished towards the middle of the fifteenth century. That prince gathered around him a circle of wits and poets, several of them men of the highest rank; like a bright streak in the dawn of that higher and the intellectual spirit thus exhibited shows civilization which rose upon Castile in the begin
Mr. Ticknor, as usual, accompanies his analysis with occasional translations of the best passages from the ancient masters. From one of these-a sort of dramatic eclogue, by Gil Vicente -we extract the following spirited verses. The scene represents Cassandra, the heroine of the piece, as refusing all the solicitations of herning of the following century. In this literary family to change her state of maiden freedom for
They say, ""T is time, go, marry! go!"
Of wedded weal or woe.
Yet still they say, " Go, marry! go!"
What grace the heavens bestow.
The man has not been born, I ween,
In vain they say, "Go, marry! go!"
She escapes to the woods, and her kinsmen, after in vain striving to bring her back, come in dancing and singing as madly as herself.
She is wild! she is wild!
As a shepherdess free ;
She is fair as the flowers,
circle King John himself was a prominent figure, correcting the verses of his loving subjects, and occasionally inditing some of his own. In the somewhat severe language of Mr. Ticknor, "he turned to letters to avoid the importunity of business, and to gratify a constitutional indolence." There was, it is true, something ridicu lous in King John's most respectable tastes, reminding us of the character of his contemporary, René of Anjou. But still it was something, in those rough times, to manifest a relish for intellectual pleasures; and it had its effect, in weaning his turbulent nobility from the indulgence of their coarser appetites.
The same liberal tastes, with still better result, were shown by his daughter, the illustrious Isabella, the Catholic. Not that any work of great pretensions for its poetical merits was then produced. The poetry of the age, indeed, was pretty generally infected with the meretricious conceits of the Provençal and the old Castilian We must except from this reproach the Coplas" of Jorge Manrique, which have found so worthy an interpreter in Mr. Longfellow, and which would do honor to any age. But the age of Isabella was in Castile what that of Poggio was in Italy. Learned men were invited from abroad, and took up their residence at the court. Native scholars went abroad, and
brought back the rich fruits of an education | interval between 1500 and 1700, occupied by the in the most renowned of the Italian universities. Austrian dynasty of Spain. It covers the golden The result of this scholarship was the preparation age, as generally considered, of Castilian literaof dictionaries, grammars, and various philolog- ture; that in which it submitted, in some degree, ical works, which gave laws to the language, and to the influences of the advancing European civilsubjected it to a classic standard. Printing was ization, and which witnessed those great producintroduced, and, under the royal patronage, presses tions of genius that have had the widest reputawere put in active operation in various cities of the tion with foreigners; the age of Cervantes, of kingdom. Thus, although no great work was Lope de Vega, and of Calderon. The condition actually produced, a beneficent impulse was given of Spain itself was materially changed. Instead to letters, which trained up the scholar, and opened of being hemmed in by her mountain-barrier, she the way for the brilliant civilization of the reign had extended her relations to every court in Euof Charles the Fifth. Our author has not paid the rope, and established her empire in every quarter tribute to the reign of Isabella to which, in our of the globe. Emerging from her retired and judgment, it is entitled even in a literary view. solitary condition, she now took the first rank He has noticed with commendation the various among the states of Christendom. Her literature efforts made in it to introduce a more liberal schol- naturally took the impress of this change, but not arship, but has by no means dwelt with the to the extent-or, at least, not in the precise manemphasis they deserve on the importance of the ner-it would have done, if left to its natural and results. independent action. But, unhappily for the land, the great power of its monarchs was turned against their own people; and the people were assailed, moreover, through the very qualities which should have entitled them to forbearance from their masters. Practising on their loyalty, their princes
With the glorious rule of Ferdinand and Isabella closes the long period from the middle of the twelfth to the beginning of the sixteenth century —a period which, if we except Italy, has no rival in modern history for the richness, variety, and picturesque character of its literature. It is that | trampled on their ancient institutions, and loyalty portion of the literature which seems to come was degraded into an abject servility. The respontaneously like the vegetation of a virgin soil, ligious zeal of early days, which had carried them that must lose something of its natural freshness triumphant through the Moorish struggle, turned, and perfume when brought under a more elaborate under the influence of the priests, into a sour fanatcultivation. It is that portion which is most thor- icism, which opened the way to the Inquisitionoughly imbued with the national spirit, unaffected the most terrible engine of oppression ever devised by foreign influences; and the student who would by man-not so terrible for its operation on the fully comprehend the genius of the Spaniards, body as on the mind. Under its baneful influmust turn to these pure and primitive sources of ence, literature lost its free and healthy action; their literary culture. and, however high its pretensions as a work of art, it becomes so degenerate in a moral aspect, that it has far less to awaken our sympathies than the productions of an earlier time. From this circumstance, as well as from that of its being much better known to the generality of scholars, we shall pass only in rapid review some of its most remarkable persons and productions. Before entering on this field, we will quote some important observations of our author on the general prospects of the period he is to discuss. Thus to allow coming events to cast their shadows before, is better suited to the purposes of the literary historian than of the novelist. His remarks on the Inquisition are striking.
We cannot do better than close with the remarks in which Mr. Ticknor briefly, but with his usual perspicuity, sums up the actual achievements of the period.
Poetry, or at least the love of poetry, made progress with the great advancement of the nation under Ferdinand and Isabella; though the taste of the court, in whatever regarded Spanish literature, continued low and false. Other circumstances, too, favored the great and beneficial change that was everywhere becoming apparent. The language of Castile had already asserted its supremacy, and, with the old Castilian spirit and cultivation, it was spreading into Andalusia and Aragon, and planting itself amidst the ruins of the Moorish power on the shores of the Mediterranean. Chronicle-writing was become frequent, and had begun to take the forms of regular history. The drama was advanced as far as the "Celestina" in prose, and the more strictly scenic efforts of Torres Naharro in verse. Romance-writing was at the height of its success. And the old ballad spirit-the true foundation of Spanish poetry-had received a new impulse and richer materials from the contests in which all Christian Spain had borne a part amidst the mountains of Granada, and from the wild tales of the feuds and adventures of rival factions within the walls of that devoted city. Everything, indeed, announced a decided movement in the literature of the nation, and almost everything seemed to favor
and facilitate it.
The second great division embraces the long
national character could not fail to be impressed The results of such extraordinary traits in the upon the literature of any country, and particularly upon a literature which, like that of Spain, had always been strongly marked by the popular temperament and peculiarities. But the period was with poetical effect. The ancient loyalty, which not one in which such traits could be produced had once been so generous an element in the Spanish character and cultivation, was now infected with the ambition of universal empire, and was lavished upon princes and nobles who, like the later Philips and their ministers, were unworthy of its homage; so that, in the Spanish historians and epic poets of this period, and even in more popular writers, like Quevedo and Calderon, we find a vain-glorious admiration of their country, and
a poor flattery of royalty and rank, that reminds us of the old Castilian pride and deference only by showing how both had lost their dignity. And so it is with the ancient religious feeling that was so nearly akin to this loyalty. The Christian spirit, which gave an air of duty to the wildest forms of adventure throughout the country, during its long contest with the power of misbelief, was now fallen away into a low and anxious bigotry, fierce and intolerant towards everything that differed from its own sharply defined faith, and yet so pervading and so popular, that the romances and tales of the time are full of it, and the national theatre, in more than one form, becomes its strange and grotesque mon
and Spanish bigotry, were, therefore, not the results of the Inquisition and the modern appliances of a corrupting monarchy; but the Inquisition and the despotism were rather the results of a misdirection of the old religious faith and loyalty. The civilization that recognized such elements, presented, no doubt, much that was brilliant, picturesque, and ennobling; but it was not without its darker side; for it failed to excite and cherish many of the most elevating qualities of our common nature-those qualities which are produced in domestic life, and result in the cultivation of the arts of peace.
As we proceed, therefore, we shall find, in the full development of the Spanish character and literOf course, the body of Spanish poetry and elo-ature, seeming contradictions, which can be reconquent prose produced during this interval-the ciled only by looking back to the foundations on earlier part of which was the period of the great- which they both rest. We shall find the Inquisiest glory Spain ever enjoyed-was injuriously tion at the height of its power, and a free and imaffected by so diseased a condition of the national moral drama at the height of its popularity-Philip character. That generous and manly spirit which the Second and his two immediate successors govis the breath of intellectual life to any people was erning the country with the severest and most restrained and stifled. Some departments of liter- jealous despotism, while Quevedo was writing his ature, such as forensic eloquence and eloquence of witty and dangerous satires, and Cervantes his the pulpit, satirical poetry, and elegant didactic genial and wise Don Quixote. But the more careprose, hardly appeared at all; others, like epic fully we consider such a state of things, the more poetry, were strangely perverted and misdirected; we shall see that these are moral contradictions while yet others, like the drama, the ballads, and which draw after them grave moral mischiefs. The the lighter forms of lyrical verse, seemed to grow Spanish nation and the men of genius who illusexuberant and lawless, from the very restraints trated its best days, might be light-hearted because imposed on the rest; restraints which, in fact, they did not perceive the limits within which they forced poetical genius into channels where it would were confined, or did not, for a time, feel the reotherwise have flowed much more scantily and straints that were imposed upon them. What they with much less luxuriant results. gave up might be given up with cheerful hearts, and not with a sense of discouragement and degradation; it might be done in the spirit of loyalty and with the fervor of religious zeal; but it is not at all the less true that the hard limits were there, and that great sacrifices of the best elements of the national character must follow.
The books that were published during the whole period on which we are now entering, and indeed for a century later, bore everywhere marks of the subjection to which the press and those who wrote for it were alike reduced. From the abject titlepages and dedications of the authors themselves, through the crowd of certificates collected from Of this time gave abundant proof. Only a little their friends to establish the orthodoxy of works more than a century elapsed before the governthat were often as little connected with religion as ment that had threatened the world with a unifairy tales, down to the colophon, supplicating par-versal empire was hardly able to repel invasion don for any unconscious neglect of the authority of from abroad, or maintain the allegiance of its own the church or any too free use of classical mythol- subjects at home. Life-the vigorous, poetical life ogy, we are continually oppressed with painful proofs, not only how completely the human mind was enslaved in Spain, but how grievously it had become cramped and crippled by the chains it had so long worn.
which had been kindled through the country in its ages of trial and adversity-was evidently passing out of the whole Spanish character. As a people they sunk away from being a first-rate power in Europe, till they became one of altogether inferior But we shall be greatly in error, if, as we notice importance and consideration; and then, drawing these deep marks and strange peculiarities in Span-back haughtily behind their mountains, rejected all ish literature, we suppose they were produced by equal intercourse with the rest of the world, in a the direct action either of the Inquisition or of the spirit almost as exclusive and intolerant as that in civil government of the country, compressing, as if which they had formerly refused intercourse with with a physical power, the whole circle of society. their Arab conquerors. The crude and gross This would have been impossible. No nation wealth poured in from their American possessions would have submitted to it; much less so high- sustained, indeed, for yet another century, the forms spirited and chivalrous a nation as the Spanish in of a miserable political existence in their governthe reign of Charles the Fifth and in the greater ment; but the earnest faith, the loyalty, the digpart of that of Philip the Second. This dark work nity of the Spanish people were gone; and little was done earlier. Its foundations were laid deep remained in their place, but a weak subserviency and sure in the old Castilian character. It was the to the unworthy masters of the state, and a low, result of the excess and misdirection of that very timid bigotry in whatever related to religion. The Christian zeal which fought so fervently and glo- old enthusiasm, rarely directed by wisdom from riously against the intrusion of Mohammedanism the first, and often misdirected afterwards, faded into Europe, and of that military loyalty which sustained the Spanish princes so faithfully through the whole of that terrible contest;-both of them high and ennobling principles, which in Spain were more wrought into the popular character than they ever were in any other country.
Spanish submission to an unworthy despotism,
away; and the poetry of the country, which had always depended more on the state of the popular feeling than any other poetry of modern times, faded and failed with it.
The first thing that strikes us, at the very commencement of this new period, is the attempt
ments Cervantes, though never beyond the measure of praise he bestows on many whose claims were greatly inferior. But in his stately flight, it is plain Quixote, to whose highest merits he seemed carefully to avoid all homage; and though I find no sufficient reason to suppose their relation to each other was marked by any personal jealousy or ill
that he soared much above the author of Don
to subject the Castilian to Italian forms of versification. This attempt, through the perfect tact of Boscan, and the delicate genius of Garcilasso, who rivalled in their own walks the greatest masters of Italian verse, was eminently successful. It would, indeed, be wonderful if the intimate relations now established between Spain and Italy did not lead to a reciprocal influence of their liter-will, as has been sometimes supposed, yet I can atures on each other. The two languages, descended from the same parent stock, the Latin, were nearest of kin to each other-in the relation, if we may so speak, of brother and sister. The Castilian, with its deep Arabic gutturals, and its clear, sonorous sounds, had the masculine character, which assorted well with the more feminine graces of the Italian, with its musical cadences and soft vowel terminations. The transition from one language to the other was almost as natural as from the dialect of one province of a country to that of its neighbor.
The revolution thus effected went far below the surface of Spanish poetry. It is for this reason, that we are satisfied that Mr. Ticknor has judged wisely, as we have before intimated, in arranging the division lines of his two periods in such a manner as to throw into the former that primitive portion of the national literature which was untouched, at least to any considerable extent, by a foreign influence.
Yet, in the compositions of this second period, it must be admitted that by far the greater portion of what is really good rests on the original basis of the national character, though under the controlling influences of a riper age of civilization. And foremost of the great writers of this national school we find the author of "Don Quixote," whose fame seems now to belong to Europe, as much as to the land that gave him birth. Mr. Ticknor has given a very interesting notice of the great writer and of his various compositions. The materials for this are, for the most part, not very difficult to be procured; for Cervantes is the author whom his countrymen, since his death, with a spirit very different from that of his contemporaries, have most delighted to honor. For
tunately, the Castilian romancer has supplied us with materials for his own biography, which remind us of the lamentable poverty under which we labor in all that relates to his contemporary, Shakspeare. In Mr. Ticknor's biographical notice, the reader will find some details probably not familiar to him, and a careful discussion of those points over which still rests any cloud of uncertainty.
find no proof that it was either intimate or kindly. On the contrary, when we consider the good nature all his other literary contemporaries, as well as the of Cervantes, which made him praise to excess nearly greatest of them all, and when we allow for the frequency of hyperbole in such praises at that time, which prevented them from being what they would now be, we may perceive an occasional coolness in his manner, when he speaks of Lope, which shows, that, without overrating his own merits and claims, he was not insensible to the difference in their respective positions, or to the injustice towards himself implied by it. Indeed, his whole tone, whenever he notices Lope, seems to be marked with much personal dignity, and to be singularly honorable to him.
Mr. Ticknor, in a note to the above, states that he has been able to find only five passages in all Lope de Vega's works where there is any mention of Cervantes, and not one of these written after the appearance of the "Don Quixote," during its author's lifetime-a significant fact. One of the passages to which our author refers, and which is from the "Laurel de Apolo," contains, he says, "a somewhat stiff eulogy on Cervantes." We quote the original couplet, which alludes to the injury inflicted on Cervantes' hand in the great Battle of Lepanto.
Porque se diga que una mano herida
Which may be rendered,
The hand, though crippled in the glorious strife,
We imagine that most who read the distich—the
teen years after the death of Cervantes, when he was beyond the power of being pleased or profited by praise from any quarter.
Mr. Ticknor closes the sketch of Cervantes
with some pertinent and touching reflections on the circumstances under which his great work was composed.
The romance which he threw so carelessly from rather as a bold effort to break up the absurd taste him, and which, I am persuaded, he regarded of his time for the fancies of chivalry than as anything of more serious import, has been estab
He inquires into the grounds of the imputation of an unworthy jealousy having existed between Lope and his illustrious rival, and we heartily concur with him in the general results of his investi-lished by an uninterrupted, and, it may be said, an gation.
unquestioned, success ever since, both as the oldest classical specimen of romantic fiction, and as one of Concerning his relations with Lope de Vega the most remarkable monuments of modern genius. there has been much discussion to little purpose. But though this may be enough to fill the measure Certain it is that Cervantes often praises this great of human fame and glory, it is not all to which literary idol of his age, and that four or five times Cervantes is entitled; for if we would do him the Lope stoops from his pride of place and compli-justice that would have been dearest to his own
spirit, and even if we would ourselves fully com- as might be expected, a substantial recompense. prehend and enjoy the whole of his Don Quixote, This remuneration was of the most honorable we should, as we read it, bear in mind, that this kind, for it was chiefly derived from the public. delightful romance was not the result of a youthful It is said to have amounted to no less than a hunexuberance of feeling and a happy external condition, nor composed in his best years, when the dred thousand ducats-which, estimating the spints of its author were light and his hopes high; ducat at its probable value of six or seven dollars but that with all its unquenchable and irresistible of our day, has no parallel-or, perhaps, not more humor, with its bright views of the world, and its than one-upon record. cheerful trust in goodness and virtue-it was written in his old age, at the conclusion of a life nearly every step of which had been marked with disap, pointed expectations, disheartening struggles and sore calamities; that he began it in a prison, and that it was finished when he felt the hand of death pressing heavy and cold upon his heart. If this be remembered as we read, we may feel, as we ought to feel, what admiration and reverence are due, not only to the living power of Don Quixote, but to the character and genius of Cervantes.
The next name that meets us in the volume is that of Lope de Vega Carpio, the idol of his generation, who lived, in all the enjoyment of wealth and worldly honors, in the same city, and, as some accounts state, in the same street, where his illustrious rival was pining in poverty and neglect. If posterity has reversed the judgment of their contemporaries, still we cannot withhold our admiration at the inexhaustible invention of Lope, and the miraculous facility of his composition. His achievements in this way, perfectly well authenticated, are yet such as to stagger credibility. He wrote, in all, about eighteen hundred regular dramas, and four hundred autos-pieces of one act each. Besides this, he composed, at leisure intervals, no less than twenty-one printed volumes of miscellaneous poetry, including eleven narrative and didactic poems of much length, in ottava rima, and seven hundred sonnets, also in the Italian measure. His comedies, amounting to between two and three thousand lines each, were mostly rhymed, and interspersed with ballads, sonnets, and different kinds of versification. Critics have sometimes amused themselves with computing the amount of matter thus actually thrown off by him in the course of his dramatic career. The sum swells to twenty-one million three hundred thousand verses! He lived to the age of seventy-two, and if we allow him to have employed fifty years -which will not be far from the truth-in his
theatrical compositions, it will give an average of something like a play a week, through the whole period, to say nothing of the epics, and other miscellanies! He tells us further, that, on one occasion, he produced five entire plays in a fortnight. And his biographers assure us that, more than once, he turned off a whole drama in twentyfour hours. These plays, it will be recollected, with their stores of invention and fluent versification, were the delight of all classes of his countrymen, and the copious fountain of supply to half the theatres of Europe. Well might Cervantes call him the "monstruo de naturaleza,"
-the "miracle of nature."
The vast popularity of Lope, and the unprecedented amount of his labors, brought with them,
Yet Lope did not refuse the patronage of the
have received, in the course of his life, more than
The fact is,
We remember meeting with something of a similar blunder in Schlegel's Dramatic Lectures, where he speaks of the poet Garcilasso de la Vega as descended from the Peruvian Incas, and as having lost his life before Tunis. that the poet died at Nice, and that, too, some years before the birth of the Inca Garcilasso, with whom Schlegel so strangely confounds him. One should be charitable to such errors-though a dogmatic critic, like Schlegel, has as little right as any to demand such charity-for we well know how difficult it is always to escape them, when, as in Castile, the same name seems to descend, as an heirloom, from one generation to another; if it be not, indeed, shared by more than one of the same generation. In the case of the Duke of Alva, there was not even this apology.
Mr. Ticknor has traced the personal history of Lope de Vega, so as to form a running commentary on his literary. It will be read with satisfaction, even by those who are familiar with Lord Holland's agreeable life of the poet, since the publication of which more ample researches have been made
into the condition of the Castilian drama. Those
who are disposed to set too high a value on the
But as his life drew to a close, his religious feelings, mingled with a melancholy fanaticism,