It was not thus with Señor Castro. He is just the man into whose hands the Buscapié ought to have fallen, and

we can well imagine the exulting eureka with which he : hailed the lost work of his illustrious countryman. The

MS., thus accidentally found, was speedily prepared for publication, and came forth from the Cadiz press in March of the last year, with copious and valuable notes from the pen of the editor.

It is proper to remark, here, that the authenticity of the work has been questioned. A French critic, M. C. Landrin, Jr., attacked the Buscapié, in an article which appeared in La Presse, June 9, 1848. This drew forth the editor in defence of its authenticity. His reply to M. Landrin, published in El Heraldo, Madrid, July 29, is before us.

From this article we learn that M. Landrin assailed the literati of Spain in general, and Señor Castro, in particular, denominating Cadiz, the place of his present abode," the land of exaggeration and puff,” and insinuating that he was attempting a literary hoax. Señor Castro commences his reply by reminding M. Landrin of certain apocryphal publications of his own countrymen, and having thus turned the tables upon his critic, proceeds to examine and repel his objections to the authenticity of the Buscapié.

It is urged by_M. Landrin that the Buscapié is merely an apology for Don Quixote, and he has too favorable an opinion of the modesty of Cervantes to suppose that he ever extolled his own productions. To this it is replied that Cervantes was in the habit of doing that very thingbestowing upon himself the praise which his contemporaries denied him. In the prologues to his works, he introduces persons who discuss their merits, and pronounce a decision in favor of the author. Cervantes himself avows this to be his policy, in the Viage del Parnaso.

Jamas me contenté ni satisfice
De hipócritos melindres. Llanamente

Quise alabanzas de lo que bien hice. Such self-commendation, although worthy of reprehension in others, is excusable in Cervantes; since he was perhaps, the only man of his times, who could intelligently appreciate his own works. It is true that Don Quixote was received with applause ; many editions were called for; and the story of the ingenious hidalgo was eagerly

devoured by persons of every class. But the book was admired not as one which displayed intellectual power and various learning, and was pervaded by a sound philosophy,, but merely as a pleasing tale of fiction, written in an easy and graceful style, and very creditable to the author as a man of wit and humor. It is to this misappreciation of the work that we are to ascribe the fact that its author lived in poverty and neglect, while many other literary men of his nation were "clothed in fine linen and fared sumptuously." Señor Castro further remarks that Cervantes wrote his Adjunta al Parnaso, for the purpose of securing public favor in behalf of his dramas, and the prologue to the Persiles with a similar design. Moreover, this very practice of self-commendation, in which the French critic finds an argument against the authenticity of the Buscapié, is censured, as one of the peculiarities of Cervantes, by Dr. Cristobal Suares de Figueroa, in a work entitled Pasajero, and published at Barcelona, in 1618. Señor Castro might have added that it is by no means incredible that an author should review his own works. Pope praised his Pastorals, and Walter Scott reviewed one of his novels.

The remarks of Sismondi on this point, are so apposite and beautiful that they are worthy of insertion here, in connection with the observations of the editor of the work.

“ Cervantes pleads his own case before Apollo (in the Journey to Parnassus) and sets forth the merits of his different works with a degree of pride which has sometimes been censured. But who will not pardon the proud feeling of conscious superiority, which sustains genius when sinking beneath the pressure of misfortune? Who will insist upon humility in a man, who, whilst he formed the glory of his age, found himself, in old age, and in sickness, exposed to absolute want? Was it not just that Cervantes, to whom his country had denied all recompense, should appropriate to himself that glory which he felt that he had so truly merited ?"'*

M. Landrin states another objection to the authenticity of the Buscapié, founded upon the improbability that Cervantes would have deemed it necessary to praise his Don Quixote, inasmuch as the work was favorably received, at its first appearance. But while it is conceded that Don Quixote was greatly admired, it is at the same time contended by Señor Castro that a certain class of critics assail

* Literature of Europe. II. p. 229. London. 1816.

[ocr errors]

ed it as extravagant and improbable. In their judgment, it lacked verisimilitude. They seemed to think that the author was guilty of the very folly which he satirized. He was attacking windmills—assailing evils which had no existence, except in his own imagination. When had any such character as he describes, sallied forth in quest of adventures ? Where were knight-errants then? He had expended his wit upon a phantom. In reply to critics of this stamp Cervantes wrote the Buscapié.

The French critic, supposing that Señor Castro is the author of the pretended work of Cervantes, accuses him of folly in making Cervantes promise to reveal in the Buscapié certain things which were concealed in Don Quixote, when in fact he makes no such revelation. Señor Castro alledges in defence, that as editor of the work, it was no part of his business to alter it, and in reference to the author, he

says, that while it was not necessary for him to explain to any candid reader the design of Don Quixote, since he had done this, repeatedly, in the work itself, he had to encounter the blundering or cavilling critics to whom we have referred. Mistaking its design, they had charged the work with extravagance, and declared moreover, that it was quite as pernicious in its influence as the books of chivalry which it pretended to exterminate. Such critics deserved, and received, from Cervantes a sound flagellation.

The Buscapié, in matter and in style, resembles the other works of Cervantes; and as M. Landrin deems him incapable of copying himself, he takes occasion from this circumstance, to assail its authenticity. A sufficient reply to this objection is found in the fact that Cervantes does copy himself in his confessedly genuine productions; as for instance in chapters 21 and 50 of the first part of Don Quixote, Other instances are cited by the editor.

Finally, M. Landrin compliments Señor Castro on the cleverness which he displays in this literary imposture ; but thinks that, although in some portions of the work, he has succeeded, by the use of stereotyped expressions, in imitating the manner of Cervantes, he appears, in others, in his own modern style. Señor Castro is not inclined to bow to the decision of this French critic in a matter of Spanish style. A writer, who confounds moribundo with molido, only betrays his presumption in opposing his judgment to that of the literati of the kingdom. The authenticity of

the Buscapié has been admitted by those distinguished scholars, Don José Joaquin de Mora, in an article

published in the Heraldo, Don Manuel Cañete, in the Faro, Don Francisco Flores Arenas, in the Moda, of Cadiz, and by other writers in various periodicals.

Señor Castro expresses his obligation to M. Landrin for the compliment which he unintentionally pays him, in pronouncing him to be the author of a work which, in the estimation of his Spanish contemporaries, bears evident traces of the genius which produced Don Quixote-an honor which has never before fallen to the lot of any Spaniard.

Our readers will, doubtless, concur with us in the opinion that Señor Castro has placed his antagonist hors du combat, and ought to be suffered to repose on his laurels. This luxury, however, has been denied him. A paragragh appeared in the Faro Industrial of Havana, Sept. 17, 1848, which asserted that the authenticity of the Buscapié was still in doubt, that some persons in Madrid, who had written on the subject, had declared against it. The learned editor took up the cudgel again, and addressed a communication to the Diario De La Marina of Havana, under date of Dec. 12, which was published in that Journal, Feb. 10, 1849.

In this communication, he affirms that the Buscapié was published in Spain, early in March preceding-that the scholars of the capital had written in praise of the work, and sustained its authenticity upon very strong grounds—and that, after the lapse of nine months, no one could be found who pretended to have proved, either by good or bad reasons, that it was not the production of the hero of Lepanto. He then cites, somewhat in extenso, the opinions of the eminent scholars to whom he had referred in his reply to M. Landrin, and declares that, in Madrid, up to the date of his communication, no one had published anything against the Buscapié. A Frenchman, in La Presse, had endeavored to prove it to be apocryphal, but his objections were so trifling that, even after the publication of them, the Buscapié was translated into French by Col. Ruspaldizza. M. Hippólito Lucas, the translator of several of the old Spanish dramas, acknowledged its authenticity in an article which he furnished for Le Srécle ; Miss Thomasina Ross translated it for Bentley's Miscellany;

and versions have been published in German and Swedish. Such is the editor's reply.

There is one circumstance, which, although not noticed by the editor, must, we think, be allowed considerable weight in determining the authenticity of the Buscapié. It is this: 'We have Ruidiaz's description of the work. If Señor Castro, or any one else, had forged the MS. from which the edition before us is taken, he would, doubtless, have adhered to that description. The present work would have corresponded to that scholar's account of the Buscapié. This, however, is not the case. The work before us is not altogether such as Ruidiaz's account led us to expect—while the resemblance between the two is sufficiently close to identify them; and the discrepancies which appear, may very properly be ascribed to the fact, that Ruidiaz has given us merely the reminiscences of a cursory perusal, and that, too, after the lapse of sixteen years. Intentional discrepancy is not usually the aim of an impostor; and, upon the supposition that Señor Castro forged the work, as M. Landrin alledges, it is scarcely credible that he would have increased the difficulties of his task, and ihe chances of detection, by departing from the programme sketched by his predecessor.

Señor Castro, notwithstanding the positive assertion of Ruidiaz, does not believe that the copy of the Buscapié which he read, was a printed volume. But we see no reason to question the fact. He could scarcely mistake in so plain a case, even after an interval of sixteen years. Cervantes, as the MS. shows, obtained the imprimatur (aprobacion) of the proper authorities; and the probability is, that it was published—a probability which is reduced to certainty by the testimony of a single reputable witness to its existence in a printed form. The loss of the printed work is certainly very remarkable; but the history of literature furnishes analogous cases. Many of the Greek and Roman classics have perished, and some of them even since the age of Cassiodorus-the sixth century--the period at which Tiraboschi places the serious and systematic commencement of the transcription of the classics. Petrarch saw, in his youth, several of Cicero's treatises, which are now lost, besides Varro's great work, Rerum Divinarum et Humanarum, which has since disappeared, and "it is probable," as Dunlop has observed, "that had not some

« ElőzőTovább »