great battle was fought, on the banks of the Gua- ment of its literature-influences so peculiar, that dalete, which decided the fate of Roderic, the last it is no wonder they should have produced results of the Goths, and of his monarchy. It was to the to which no other part of Europe has furnished a Goths—the Spaniards, as their descendants were parallel. The Oriental and the European for eight called-what the battle of Hastings was to the centuries brought into contact with one another! English. The Arab conquerors rode over the yet, though brought into contact, too different in country, as completely its masters as were the blood, laws, and religion, ever to coalesce. Unlike Normans of Britain. But they dealt more merci- the Saxons and Normans, who, sprung from a fully with the vanquished. The Koran, tribute, common stock, with a common faith, were graduor the sword, were the terms offered by the vic-ally blended into one people; in Spain, the contors. Many were content to remain under Moslem flicting elements could never mingle. No length rule, in the tolerated enjoyment of their religion, and, to some extent, of their laws. Those of nobler metal withdrew to the rocks of the Asturias; and every muleteer or water-carrier, who emigrates from this barren spot, glories in his birthplace as of itself a patent of nobility.

Then came the struggle against the Saracen invaders that long crusade to be carried on for centuries-in which the ultimate triumph of a handful of Christians over the large and flourishing empire of the Moslems is the most glorious of the triumphs of the cross upon record. But it was the work of eight centuries. During the first of these, the Spaniards scarcely ventured beyond their fastnesses. The conquerors occupied the land, and settled in greatest strength over the pleasant places of the south, so congenial with their own voluptuous climate in the East. Then rose the empire of Cordova, which, under the sway of the Omeyades, rivalled in splendor and civilization the caliphate of Bagdad. Poetry, philosophy, letters, everywhere flourished. Academies and gymnasiums were founded, and Aristotle was expounded by commentators who acquired a glory not inferior to that of the Stagirite himself. This state of things continued after the Cordovan empire had been broken into fragments, when Seville, Murcia, Malaga, and the other cities which still flourished among the ruins, continued to be centres of a civilization that shone bright amidst the darkness of the Middle Ages.

of time could give the Arab a right to the soil. He was still an intruder. His only right was the right of the sword. He held his domain on the condition of perpetual war-the war of race against race, of religion against religion. This was the inheritance of the Spaniard, as well as of the Moslem, for eight hundred years. What remarkable qualities was this situation not calculated to call out! Loyalty, heroism, the patriotic feeling, and the loftier feeling of religious enthusiasm. What wonder that the soldier of the cross should fancy that the arm of Heaven was stretched out to protect him? That St. Jago should do battle for him, with his celestial chivalry? That miracles should cease to be miracles? That superstition, in short, should be the element, the abiding element, of the national character? Yet this religious enthusiasm, in the early ages, was tempered by charity towards a foe whom even the Christian was compelled to respect for his superior civilization. But, as the latter gained the ascendant, enthusiasm was fanned by the crafty clergy into fanaticism. As the Moslem scale became more and more depressed, fanaticism rose to intolerance, and intolerance ended in persecution when the victor was converted into the victim. It is a humiliating story-more humiliating even to the oppressors than to the oppressed.

The literature, all the while, with chameleonlike sensibility, took the color of the times; and it is for this reason that we have always dwelt with greater satisfaction on the earlier period of the Meanwhile, the Spaniards, strong in their reli- national literature, rude though it be, with its corgion, their Gothic institutions, and their poverty, dial, free, and high, romantic bearing, than on the had emerged from their fastnesses in the north, and later period of his glory-brilliant in an intellecbrought their victorious banner as far as the Douro.tual point of view, but in its moral aspect, dark and In three centuries more, they had advanced their unrelenting. line of conquest only to the Tagus. But their Mr. Ticknor has been at much pains to unfold progress, though slow, was irresistible, till at these peculiarities of the Castilian character, in length the Moslems, of all their proud possessions, retained only the petty territory of Granada. On this little spot, however, they made a stand for more than two centuries, and bade defiance to the whole Christian power; while, at the same time, though sunk in intellectual culture, they surpassed their best days in the pomp of their architecture and in the magnificence of living characteristic of the East. At the close of the fifteenth century, this Arabian tale-the most splendid episode in the Mahometan annals—was brought to an end by the fall of Granada before the arms of Ferdinand and Isabella.

order to explain by them the peculiarities of the literature, and, indeed, to show their reciprocal action on each other. He has devoted occasional chapters to this subject, not the least interesting in his volumes, making the history of the literature a running commentary on that of the nation; and thus furnishing curious information to the political student, no less than to the student of letters. His acute, and at the same time accurate, observations imbued with a spirit of sound philosophy, give the work a separate value, and raise it above the ordinary province of literary criticism.

But it is time that we should turn to the ballads Such were the strange influences which acted on or romances, as they are called in Spain, the the Spanish character, and on the earliest develop-first of the great divisions already noticed. No

where does this popular minstrelsy flourish to the | the best idea of the original.

But in this humble

same extent as in Spain. The condition of the poetry it is eminently successful. To give these country, which converted every peasant into a sol-rude gems a polish would be at once to change dier, and filled his life with scenes of stirring and their character, and defeat the great object of our romantic incident, may in part account for it. We author-to introduce his readers to the peculiar have ballads of chivalry, of the national history, culture of a primitive age. of the Moorish wars, mere domestic ballads; in A considerable difficulty presents itself in findshort, all the varieties of which such simple poet-ing a suitable measure for the English version of ical narratives are susceptible. The most attrac- the romances. In the original they are written in tive of these to the Spaniards, doubtless, were the eight-syllable line, with trochaic feet, instead those devoted to the national heroes. The Cid of the iambics usually employed by us. But the here occupies a large space. His love, his loy- real difficulty is in the peculiarity of the measure alty, his invincible prowess against the enemies the asonante, as it is called, in which the rhyme of God, are all celebrated in the frank and cordial depends solely on the conformity of vowel sounds, spirit of a primitive age. They have been chro-without reference to the consonants, as in English nologically arranged into a regular series-as far verse. Thus the words dedo, tiempo, viejos, are as the date could be conjectured—like the Robin all good asonantes, taken at random from one of Hood ballads in England, so as to form a tolerably these old ballads. An attempt has been made by complete narrative of his life. It is interesting to more than one clever writer to transplant them observe with what fondness the Spaniards are ever into English verse. But it has had as little sucready to turn to their ancient hero, the very type of cess as the attempt to naturalize the ancient hexCastilian chivalry, and linked by so many glorious ameter, which neither the skill of Southey nor of recollections with the heroic age of their country. Longfellow will, probably, be able to effect. The The following version of one of these ballads, Spanish vowels have, for the most part, a clear by Mr. Ticknor, will give a fair idea of the orig- and open sound, which renders the melody of the inal. The time chosen is the occasion of a sum-versification sufficiently sensible to the ear; while mons made by the Cid to Queen Urraca to surrender her castle, which held out against the arms of the warrior's sovereign, Sancho the Brave.

Away! away! proud Roderic!
Castilian proud, away!
Bethink thee of that olden time,
That happy, honored day,
When, at Saint James' holy shrine,
Thy knighthood first was won ;
When Ferdinand, my royal sire,
Confessed thee for a son.

He gave thee then thy knightly arms,
My mother gave thy steed;
Thy spurs were buckled by these hands,
That thou no grace might'st need.
And had not chance forbid the vow,
I thought with thee to wed;

But Count Lozano's daughter fair
Thy happy bride was led.
With her came wealth, an ample store,
But power was mine, and state;
Broad lands are good, and have their grace,
But he that reigns is great.
Thy wife is well; thy match was wise;
Yet, Roderick! at thy side
A vassal's daughter sits by thee,

And not a royal bride!

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the middle station which it occupies between the perfect rhyme and blank verse seems to fit it, in an especial manner, for these simple narrative compositions. The same qualities have recommended it to the dramatic writers of Spain as the best medium of poetical dialogue; and, as such, it is habitually used by the great masters of the national theatre.

No class of these popular compositions have greater interest than the Moorish romances, affording glimpses of a state of society in which the Oriental was strangely mingled with the European. Some of them may have been written by the Moriscoes, after the fall of Granada. They are redolent of the beautiful land which gave them birth -springing up like wild-flowers amidst the ruins of the fallen capital. Mr. Ticknor has touched lightly on these in comparison with some of the other varieties, perhaps because they have been more freely criticized by preceding writers. Every lover of good poetry is familiar with Mr. Lockhart's picturesque version of these ballads, which has every merit but that of fidelity to the original.

The production of the Spanish ballads is evidence of great sensibility in the nation; but it Our author has also given a pleasing version of must also be referred to the exciting scenes in the beautiful romance of "Fonte frida, fonte which it was engaged. A similar cause gave rise frida,"-" Cooling fountain, cooling fountain,' to the beautiful border minstrelsy of Scotland. But which we are glad to see rendered faithfully, the adventures of robber chieftains and roving outinstead of following the example of Dr. Percy, laws excite an interest of a very inferior order to in his version of the fine old ballad in a similar that created by the great contest for religion and simple style, "Rio verde, rio verde," which, we independence which gave rise to the Spanish balremember, he translates by "Gentle river, gentle lads. This gives an ennobling principle to these river," &c. Indeed, to do justice to Mr. Tick-compositions, which raises them far above the popnor's translations, we should have the text before ular minstrelsy of every other country. It recomNowhere do we recall so close fidelity to mended them to the more polished writers of a later the original, unless in Cary's Dante. Such fidel-period, under whose hands, if they have lost someity does not always attain the object of conveying thing of their primitive simplicity, they have been CCXCVIII. LIVING AGE. VOL. XXIV. 14


easy to extemporize in verse as in prose.

made to form a delightful portion of the national | eral Chronicle" into verse, without great violence literature. We cannot do better than to quote on to the original-a remarkable proof of the near this the eloquent remarks of our author. affinity that exists between prose and poetry in Spain; a fact which goes far to explain the facilBallads, in the seventeenth century, had become ity and astonishing fecundity of some of its popu the delight of the whole Spanish people. The sol-lar poets. For the Spaniards, it was nearly as dier solaced himself with them in his tent, and the muleteer amidst the sierras; the maiden danced to them on the green, and the lover sang them for his The example of Alfonso the Tenth was folserenade; they entered into the low orgies of lowed by his son, who appointed a chronicler to thieves and vagabonds, into the sumptuous enter- take charge of the events of his reign. This tainments of the luxurious nobility, and into the practice continued with later sovereigns, until the holiday services of the church; the blind beggar chronicle gradually rose to the pretensions of chanted them to gather alms, and the puppet-show-regular history; when historiographers, with man gave them in recitative to explain his exhibition; they were a part of the very foundation of fixed salaries, were appointed by the crowns of the theatre, both secular and religious, and the Castile and Aragon; giving rise to a more comtheatre carried them everywhere, and added every-plete body of contemporary annals, from authentic where to their effect and authority. No poetry of public sources, than is to be found in any other modern times has been so widely spread through country in Christendom. all classes of society, and none has so entered into the national character. The ballads, in fact, seem

to have been found on every spot of Spanish soil. They seem to have filled the very air that men breathed.

The next of the great divisions of this long period, is the Chronicles-a fruitful theme, like the former, and still less explored. For much of this literature is in rare books, or rarer manuscripts. There is no lack of materials, however, in the present work, and the whole ground is mapped out before us, by a guide evidently familiar with all its intricacies.

The Spanish Chronicles are distributed into several classes, as those of a public and of a private nature, romantic chronicles, and those of travels. The work which may be said to lead the van of the long array is the "Chronica General" of Alfonso the Wise, written by this monarch probably somewhere about the middle of the thirteenth century. It covers a wide ground, from the Creation to the time of the royal writer. The third book is devoted to the Cid, ever the representative of the heroic age of Castile. The fourth records the events of the monarch's own time. Alfonso's work is followed by the "Chronicle of the Cid," in which the events of the champion's life are now first detailed in sober prose.

Such a collection, beginning with the thirteenth century, is of high value, and would be of far higher, were its writers gifted with anything like a sound spirit of criticism. But superstition lay too closely at the bottom of the Castilian character to allow of this; a superstition nourished by the strange circumstances of the nation, by the legends of the saints, by the miracles coined by the clergy in support of the good cause, by the very ballads of which we have been treating, which, mingling fact with fable, threw a halo around both that made it difficult to distinguish the one from the other. So palpable to a modern age are many of these fictions in regard to the Cid, that one ingenious critic doubts even the real existence of this personage. But this is a degree of scepticism, which, as Mr. Ticknor finely remarks, "makes too great a demand on our credulity."

This superstition, too deeply seated to be eradicated, and so repugnant to a philosophical spirit of criticism, is the greatest blemish on the writings of the Castilian historians, even of the ripest age of scholarship, who show an appetite for the marvellous and an easy faith scarcely to be credited at the present day. But this is hardly a blemish with the older chronicles, and was suited to the twilight condition of the times. They are, indeed, a most interesting body of ancient literature, with There is much resemblance between large por-all the freshness and chivalrous bearing of the tions of these two chronicles This circumstance age; with their long, rambling episodes, that lead has led to the conclusion that they both must have been indebted to a common source, or, as seems more probable, that the "Chronicle of the Cid" was taken from that of Alfonso. This latter opinion Mr. Ticknor sustains by internal evidence not easily answered. There seems no reason to doubt, however, that both one and the other were indebted to the popular ballads, and that these, in their turn, were often little more than a versification of the pages of Alfonso's Chronicle; Mr. Ticknor has traced out this curious process by bringing together the parallel passages which are too numerous and nearly allied to leave any doubt on the matter.

Sepulveda, a scholar of the sixteenth century, has converted considerable fragments of the "Gen

to nothing; their childish fondness for pageants and knightly spectacles; their rough dialect, which, with the progress of time, working off the impurities of an unformed vocabulary, rose, in the reign of John the Second and of Ferdinand and Isabella, into passages of positive eloquence. But we cannot do better than give the concluding remarks of our author on this rich mine of literature, which he has now, for the first time, fully explored and turned up to the public gaze.

As we close it up, (he says-speaking of an old chronicle he has been criticizing,)-we should not forget, that the whole series, extending over full two hundred and fifty years, from the time of Alfonso the Wise to the accession of Charles the Fifth, and covering the New World as well as the

Old, is unrivalled in richness, in variety, and in picturesque and poetical elements. In truth, the chronicles of no other nation can, on such points, be compared to them; not even the Portuguese, which approach the nearest in original and early materials; nor the French, which, in Joinville and Froissart, make the highest claims in another direction. For these old Spanish chronicles, whether they have their foundations in truth or in fable, always strike further down than those of any other nation into the deep soil of the popular feeling and character. The old Spanish loyalty, the old Spanish religious faith, as both were formed and nourished in the long periods of national trial and suffering, are constantly coming out; hardly less in Columbus and his followers, or even amidst the atrocities of the conquests in the New World, than in the half-miraculous accounts of the battles

of Hazinas and Tolosa, or in the grand and glorious drama of the fall of Granada. Indeed, wherever we go under their leading, whether to the court of Tamerlane, or to that of Saint Ferdinand, we find the heroic elements of the national genius gathered around us; and thus, in this vast, rich mass of chronicles, containing such a body of antiquities, traditions, and fables as have been offered to no other people, we are constantly discovering, not only the materials from which were drawn a multitude of the old Spanish ballads, plays, and romances, but a mine which has been unceasingly wrought by the rest of Europe for similar purposes, and still remains unexhausted.

We now come to the Romances of Chivalry, to which the transition is not difficult from the romantic chronicles we have been considering. It was, perhaps, the romantic character of these compositions, as well as of the popular minstrelsy of the country, which supplied the wants of the Spaniards in this way, and so long delayed the appearance of the true Romance of Chivalry.

Long before it was seen in Spain, this kind of writing had made its appearance, in prose and verse, in other lands; and the tales of Arthur and the Round Table, and of Charlemagne and his Peers, had beguiled the long evenings of our Norman ancestors, and of their brethren on the other side of the Channel. The first book of chivalry that was published in Spain even then was not indigenous, but translated from a Portuguese work, the Amadis de Gaula. But the Portuguese, according to the account of Mr. Ticknor, probably perished with the library of a nobleman, in the great earthquake at Lisbon, in 1755; so that Montalvan's Castilian translation, published in Queen Isabella's reign, now takes the place of the original. Of its merits as a translation who can speak? Its merits as a work of imagination, and, considering the age, its literary execution, are of a high order.

An English version of the book appeared early in the present century, from the pen of Southey, to whom English literature is indebted for more than one valuable contribution of a similar kind. We well remember the delight with which, in our early days, we pored over its fascinating pages the bright scenes in which we revelled of Oriental mythology, the beautiful portraiture which is held up of knightly courtesy in the

person of Amadis, and the feminine loveliness of Oriana. It was an ideal world of beauty and magnificence, to which the Southern imagination had given a far warmer coloring than was to be found in the ruder conceptions of the Northern minstrel. At a later period, we have read-tried to read-the same story in the pages of Montalvan himself. But the age of chivalry was gone.

The "Amadis" touched the right spring in the Castilian bosom, and its popularity was great and immediate. Edition succeeded edition; and, what was worse, a swarm of other knight-errants soon came into the world, claiming kindred with the Amadis. But few of them bore any resemblance to their prototype, other than in their extravagance. settled by the worthy curate in "Don Quixote," were summarily who ordered most of them to the flames, declaring that the good qualities of Amadis should not cloak the sins of his posterity.

Their merits

The tendency of these books was very mischievous. They fostered the spirit of exaggeration, both in language and sentiment, too natural to the Castilian. They debauched the taste of the reader, while the voluptuous images, in which most of them indulged, did no good to his morals. They encouraged, in fine, a wild spirit of knight-errantry, which seemed to emulate the extravagance of the tales themselves. Sober men wrote, preachers declaimed against them, but in vain. The Cortes of 1553 presented a petition to the crown, that the publication of such works might be prohibited, as pernicious to society. Another petition of the same body, in 1555, insists on this still more strongly, and in terms that, coming, as they do, from so grave an assembly, can hardly be read at the present day without a smile. Mr. Ticknor notices both these legislative acts, in an extract which we shall give. But he omits the words of the petition of 1555, which dwells so piteously on the grievances of the nation; and which we will quote, as they may amuse the reader. "Moreover," says the instrument, we say that it is very notorious what mischief has been done to young men and maidens, and other persons, by the perusal of books full of lies and vanities, like Amadis, and works of that description, since young people especially, from their natural idleness, resort to this kind of reading, and becoming enamored of passages of love or arms, or other nonsense which they find set forth therein, when situations at all analogous offer, are led to act much more extravagantly than they otherwise would have done. And many times the daughter, when her mother has locked her up safely at home, amuses herself with reading these books, which do her more hurt than she would have received from going abroad. All which redounds, not only to the dishonor of individuals, but to the great detriment of conscience, by diverting the affections from holy, true, and Christian doctrine, to those wicked vanities, with which the wits, as we have intimated, are completely bewildered. To remedy this, we entreat your majesty, that no book treat



ing of such matters be henceforth read, that those now printed be collected and burned, and that be published hereafter without special license; by which measures your majesty will render great service to God, as well as to these kingdoms," &c. &c.

But what neither the menaces of the pulpit nor the authority of the law could effect, was brought about by the breath of ridicule

That soft and summer breath, whose subtile power Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour. The fever was at its height when Cervantes sent his knight-errant into the world, to combat the phantoms of chivalry; and at one touch of his lance, they disappeared forever. From the day of the publication of the "Don Quixote" not a book of chivalry was ever written in Spain. There is no other such triumph recorded in the annals of genius.

We close these remarks with the following extract, which shows the condition of society in Castile under the influence of these romances.

Spain, when the romances of chivalry first appeared, had long been peculiarly the land of knighthood. The Moorish wars, which had made every gentleman a soldier, necessarily tended to this result; and so did the free spirit of the communities, led on as they were, during the next period, by barons, who long continued almost as independent in their castles as the king was on his throne. Such a state of things, in fact, is to be recognized as far back as the thirteenth century, when the Partidas, by the most minute and pains-taking legislation, provided for a condition of society not easily to be distinguished from that set forth in the Amadis or the Palmerin. The poem and history of the Cid bear witness yet earlier, indirectly indeed, but very strongly, to a similar state of the country; and so do many of the old ballads and other records of the national feelings and traditions that had come from the fourteenth century.

But in the fifteenth, the chronicles are full of it, and exhibit it in forms the most grave and imposing. Dangerous tournaments, in some of which the chief men of the time, and even the kings themselves, took part, occur constantly, and are recorded among the important events of the age. At the passage of arms near Orbigo, in the reign of John the Second, eighty knights, as we have seen, were found ready to risk their lives for as fantastic a fiction of gallantry as is recorded in any of the romances of chivalry; a folly of which this was by no means the only instance. Nor did they confine their extravagances to their own country. In the same reign, two Spanish knights went as far as Burgundy, professedly in search of adventures, which they strangely mingled with a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; seeming to regard both as religious exercises. And as late as the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, Fernando del Pulgar, their wise secretary, gives us the names of several distinguished noblemen, personally known to himself, who had gone into foreign countries, "in order,' ," as he says, "to try the fortune of arms with any cavalier that might be pleased to adventure with them, and so gain honor for themselves, and the fame of valiant and bold knights for the gentlemen of Castile."

A state of society like this was the natura result of the extraordinary development which the institutions of chivalry had then received in Spain. the rest was knight-errantry, and knight-errantry Some of it was suited to the age, and salutary; in its wildest extravagance. When, however, the imaginations of men were so excited as to tolerate and maintain, in their daily life, such manners and institutions as these, they would not fail to enjoy the boldest and most free representations of a corresponding state of society in works of romantic fiction. But they went further. Extravagant and even impossible as are many of the adventures recorded in the books of chivalry, they still seemed so little to exceed the absurdities frequently witnessed or told of known and living men, that many persons took the romances themselves to be true histories, and believed them. Thus, Mexia, the trustworthy historiographer of Charles the Fifth, says, in 1545, when speaking of "the Amadises, Lisuartes, and Clarions," that "their authors do waste their time and weary their faculties in writing such books, which are read by all and believed by many. For," he goes on," there be men who think all these things really happened, just as they read or hear them, though the greater part of the things themselves are sinful, profane and unbecoming." And Castillo, another chronicler, tells us gravely, in 1587, that Philip the Second, when he married Mary of England, only forty years earlier, promised, that, if King Arthur should return to claim the throne, he would peaceably yield to that prince all his rights; thus implying, at least in Castillo himself, and probably in many of his readers, a full faith in the stories of Arthur and his Round Table.

Such credulity, it is true, now seems impossible, even if we suppose it was confined to a moderate number of intelligent persons; and hardly less so, when, as in the admirable sketch of an easy faith in the stories of chivalry by the innkeeper and Maritornes in Don Quixote, we are shown that it extended to the mass of the people. But before we refuse our assent to the statements of such faithful chroniclers as Mexia, on the ground that what they relate is impossible, we should recollect, that, in the age when they lived, men were in the habit of believing and asserting every day things no less incredible than those recited in the old romances. The Spanish Church then countenanced a trust in miracles, as of constant recurrence, which required of those who believed them more credulity than the fictions of chivalry; and yet how few were found wanting in faith! And how few doubted the tales that had come down to them of the impossible achievements of their fathers during the seven centuries of their warfare against the Moors, or the glorious traditions of all sorts, that still constitute the charm of their brave old chronicles, though we now see at a glance that many of them are as fabulous as anything told of Palmerin or Launcelot !

But whatever we may think of this belief in the romances of chivalry, there is no question that in Spain, during the sixteenth century, there prevailed a passion for them such as was never known elsewhere. The proof of it comes to us from all sides. The poetry of the country is full of it, from the romantic ballads that still live in the memory of the people, up to the old plays that have ceased to be acted and the old epics that have ceased to be read. The national manners and the national dress, more peculiar and picturesque than

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