Imágenes de páginas

The lights

" Faustus,

gyman was seated with his family at of the national character. a round oak tea-table, in the apart, and shades, the greatness and weakment which served as kitchen and ness of character, no less than the parlour. He rose, on hearing me ask peculiarities of manners and opiwhere I should find the grave of Rom- nions of different nations, are all, ney. “Poor George Romney,” said more or less, faithfully imitated in he, (the tears starting into his eyes,) their dramatic poetry. The singular “I will show you his grave myself'; he mixture of openness and reserve, of was a friend I loved very truly; but generosity and credulity, which fornis first (said he very courteously) re the prominent feature of our own nafresh yourself with a dish of tea." Itional character, is delineated with excused myself from a compliance remarkable fidelity, in our English with his hospitable invitation, but comedy: the light-headed gaiety and gladly accepted his escort to the heartlessness of French manners are churchyard. My venerable conduc- drawn to the life by Moliere, Destor was above eighty years of age ; he touches, Piron, and D'Harleville : and told me he had been fifty-one years Vin the gloomy sublimity of the Gercarof Dalton, andthat he had seen many man drama, as exemplified in the a head laid in the grave, but none that

the Robbers," and he honoured more than poor George “ Wallenstein,” is the natural result Romney. He took me to the plain of the metaphysical speculations, and stone tablet, on which was engraved the perpetual contemplation of the the following inscription :

morbid anatomy of mind, to which Georgius Romney,

that nation is devoted. The Spanish Pictor Celeberrimus,

theatre, however, is decidedly the Obiit Nov. 15, 1802.

most strictly national in Europe. Requiescat is pace.

Conscious how well fitted the manThe vicar told me that his oak tea.

ners of their country were for dramatable was made by Romney during

tic representation, they have seldom his apprenticeship, and he would in. stooped to borrow either their matter sist on my going home with him to

or their manner from those of other see it. He said it did him good to countries. And when they have done see one who honoured genius.' He

So, they have given such a national described to me a cheerful day he had colouring to the thoughts and invenpassed with Cowper, Hayley, and tions of others, that their identity is Romney; "one of those days (he scarcely to be recoguized.

qu'ils ont emprunté, ils ont Espagnowithout forgetting.” I'inquired i lizé.” Though, by the adoption of there were any original sketches or

this exclusive system, they might designs of this great artist remaining

seem to have written only for their in his native village, but the old gen- it is this very circumstance which, at

own nation, and not for strangers, yet tleman informed me, that his son, the the present day, gives a particular Rev. John Romney of St John's Cole lege, Cambridge, had collected all that charm to the Spanish drama." It must could be found of his father's works.

yield the palm to England in the After a short visit to the vicaragę, to both England and Germany in the

delineation of individual characterwhere I was introduced to the vicar's family and the oak tea-table, I took painting of passion-and to France in leave of my venerable acquaintance, eloquent declamation of its tragedies ;

the easy wit of its comedies, and the delighted with his frankness and ur

but the manners and the state of sobanity, and not less with his enthusiasm on the subject of his gifted ciety which are developed in the Spafriend. I am, Mr Editor, respectfully

nish drama, are such as would be inyours,


teresting in the hands of the most injudicious writer, while it will be admitted that the Spanish dramatists

have exhibited them in all the strength, La invencion, la gracia y traza es propia

beauty, and variety of contrast or com

bination, of which they are susceptiA la ingeniosa, fabula de Espana.

ble. Lope de Vega. "Arte Nueva.

It is always a task of great interest, The dramatic literature of every though, at the same time, of great nation may be considered as a picture doubt and uncertainty, to ascertain

" Tout ce


the moral or physical causes which rated and matured, uniting to the operate in the formation of national pride, gravity, and firmness of the manners and national literature. In Gothic, the pomp, imagination, and general, the only landmarks by which exaggeration of Eastern manners. Yet we can be guided, are those great po- in this union the distinguishing chalitical events, whose consequences, racteristics of either were softened onby placing the mind under the opera- ly, not effaced. Had Spain become tion of circumstances before untried, altogether Asiatic, her literature would may be supposed to communicate to have lost many of those points of init a new direction and a visible im- terest which it now possesses : had petus. But these important events, she remained entirely Gothic, instead by which, to use the metaphor of of standing forth Dugald Stewart, meridians are drawn through the vast and crowded map of in shape and gesture proudly eminent,

above the rest time, are but of rare occurrence, and the changes of manners, so impercep- while the other nations of Europe were tible in their gradation, as to elude sunk in ignorance, she might have been research, and disappoint the most but now emerging from the womb of penetrating observer.

In the case of barbarism, and struggling into intelSpanish literature, however, the in- lectual existence. vestigation is comparatively easy. The Without attempting to determine invasion of Spain by the Arabs fure exactly what peculiarities the Spanish nishes a point d'appui, on which spe- character possessed before the change culation may rest with comparative which the Arabian invasion produced, security. We have, indeed,

no data we shall briefly analyse its features to go upon with regard to the man when the two component parts had been ners or the literature of the Visigoths, in some measure blended together. for not a restige of either has descend- Few features of the Spanish character ed to our time, but judging from the are more prominent than their excessive situation of the other Gothic nations, national and family pride. Both these and calculating the effect which a par are noble and generous emotions. Natial introduction of Eastern manners tional pride is the best sécurity for and literature would produce on a na national honour, and the pride of tion thus situated, we will a priori ar. birth, regulated by judgment, may lead rive nearly at the very conclusions to the most beneficial results. The which an examination of Spanish li- advocates of universal equality may terature would suggest to us. In com ask with the sneer of Juvenal, “ Stemparison with the European states, mata quid faciunt ?" but the dispasArabia was the only seat and metro- sionate reasoner will readily answer, polis of knowledge, and, like an- that the honours which have been cient Rome, she disseminated science handed down through a long and glowith her conquests, she found Spain rious ancestry are regarded by the buried in ignorance and barbarism, possessor as a sacred deposit, to be and her exertions soon rendered it carefully preserved by himself, and little inferior to herself. “ Sateritiam again to be transmitted pure and uninvenit, marmoream reliquit.” She sullied to his successor. The venerable introduced the Sciences, the Belles halls, the storied trophies, and the Lettres, the Fictions of the East. portraits of his ancestors, are silent yet Time, and the moderation of the con- eloquent monitors, that daily remind querors, gradually wore off the feel- him what he owes to his progenitors, ings of mutual antipathy between to himself, and to his posterity. The the victors and the vanquished, and family whose proud boast it was that seldom did so intimate a union take “ all the sons were brave, and all the place, between two nations differ daughters chaste," possessed in this ing in manners and religion, as belief a stimulus to virtue, more efthat which prevailed in Granada or fectual perhaps than the most striking Cordova about a century after the precepts of morality; Sentiments fall of the Gothic dynasty. It was such as these, carried, as they frefrom this blending of manners and quently were, to an extravagant exintimacy of intercourse, that the na cess, gave rise to a fretful and nertional character of Spain was gene

vous delicacy on the subject of ho

nour, which rendered an appeal to eminence, whose lives' do not com the sword a matter of daily and hour. pletely contradict the observation. ly occurrence. The Spanish cavalier Cervantes lost an arm at the battle of was one

Lepanto. Garcelaso fell fighting at

the siege of a fortress in Provence. que nunca ha recusado

His contemporary Mendoza was a disBatalla con ningun hombre

tinguished general as well as a reQue ocasion le huviese dado.

spectable poet. And disposed as they were to catch at

Lopé embarked on board the Armaevery shadow of offence, occasions da, and abused Sir Francis Drake in were seldom wanting. For, however consequence. Calderon bore arms in sensitive the Spanish cavalier might

Flanders. Ercilla, celebrated in the be on every point, which, in the most Arancana, the battles in which he had distant


affected “ the honour of himself borne a part, while, like Cahis house," he was not, on that ac,

moens, “one hand the sword employcount, disposed to be more careful of ed, and one the pen." We might easily endangering or injuring that of ano- swell the list, but we must alreaily have ther. The extreme seclusion in which sufficiently illustrated our assertion. the Spanish ladies lived, gave rise to The jealousy of the Spanish character a thousand intrigues, plots, romantic

was intimately connected with their adventures, and rencontres, and af- punctilious nicety of honour, and the forded an open arena for gallantry restraint by which they endeavoured and duelling. In short, though à to effect their purpose, by actually special reservation might be made in increasing the evil, augmented to an his own favour, the Spaniard's creed alarming height the passion which of honour with regard to others seems had given rise to it. In the warm evidently to have been, thatevery action temperature of Spanish character, was honourable that could be avowed jealousy attained an unnatural growth and defended with the sword, and and expansion. It struck its roots that it was always a sufficient apology into the heart, and choaked with

its for a bad cause to die fighting in its baleful luxuriance the nobler shoots defence.

and blossoms of the soul. It became

the universal theme of the poet and Alto morire ogni misfatto ammenda. the novelist, the primum mobile of the

stage, and the national feature by But the energy of the Spanish cha- which Spain was best known to other racter was not always dissipated in nations. We shall have occasion, petty quarrels, or exercised only in however, to advert more particularly the inglorious field of nocturnal ren to this point in considering the use contre. The same spirit which which has been made of the passion prompted the Spanish cavalier to re

of jealousy by the poets of the Spavenge by the sword an imaginary nish theatre. wrong or personal insult, animated With these discordant passions, rehim in defence of the king, his coun ligion was most strangely and unactry, and his religion ; and those cur countably blended. Fallen from its rents of restless valour which over native purity, and debased by super. flowed in private and family quarrels, stitions, it harmonized with all, and and desolated the land which they became the alternate engine of good should have strengthened and ferti and evil ; at one time animating the lized, were irresistible when united mind to the most generous actions, at in their

proper channel, and turned a another affording a specious pretext gainst a foreign enemy. To be satis and a ready excuse for all that could fied how universally these sentiments debase or dishonour humanity. It of warlike enthusiasm were diffused mingled with the common concerns of among the Spaniards, let us look for life, with

business, amusement, or ina moment to the lives of their poets. trigue. Every one knows the effect The uniform and unvaried tenor of of the tolling of the vesper bell at the lives of literary men is a constant Madrid. The loungers on the Prado, complaint of biographers, and yet, as and even the actors on the stage, Lord Holland remarks, there are few stop, uncover, and pray, or appear to of the Spanish poets of distinguished pray for a few minutes. But the re

ligious effect of this ceremony, if any circumstances, too, by which it is aeffect be produced by it, is as mo roused are in general so very trivial, mentary, as the empty sound that as to prevent the least pity for the causes it. Business and pleasure re- sufferings it occasions, and even to sume their respective rounds as be communicate an air of the ludicrous fore, and the assignation which this to the everlasting interruption inay have broken off, is

Muriendo estoy de zelos, renewed before the “_squilla de lontano" has ceased. This is but one

which is the whining complaint of instance, but many will occur to every Spanish lover. every one in the least acquainted

The enthusiastic loyalty of the Spawith Spain and its inhabitants. It nish character, as exhibited by their was this union of the externals of de dramatists, will perhaps appear to a votion with every petty incident, and foreigner as exaggerated as their reevery passion, good or bad, that indu- presentations of jealousy. It is reced a traveller to remark with seve presented as paramount to every conrity, but, at the same time, with some sideration, as suppressing the strongtruth, that he knew no nation that est feelings of our nature, and even had the name of God so much in their leading the innocent to the commisa mouths, or so little in their hearts, as

sion of crime. In the “ Estrella de the Spaniards.

Sevilla,” the chief interest arises from In thus analysing the leading fea

the situation of Sancho Ortiz, who is tures of Spanish character, we have, informed by the king, that he had according to the remark with which received a personal insult, and rewe set out, been describing the ma- qucste:l to revenge his quarrel. Santeriel of the Spanish theatre, and the cho swears to do so instantly, and the manners and passions which it repre- king delivers to him a sealed paper sents; for the extreme nationality of containing the name of his enemy. the Spanish theatre rendered the e On opening the letter, he finds that motions exhibited on the stage a most it contains the name of Bustos Tas literal and correct transcript of those bera, his most intimate friend, and the which were felt and acted upon in brother of his intended wife. Though real life. In particular, nothing can

distracted by love and friendship, excel the truth and dramatic effect loyalty at last prevails, and he comes with which the passion of jealousy,

to the resolution of sacrificing every the glow of chivalrous loyalty, and feeling to the duty he owes to his sothe pride of birth, have been trans- vereign. ferred to the stage, and clothed in the

El rey no puede mentir graces of poetic eloquence. The un No-que es imagen de Dios. varying regularity with which the Bustos, habeis de morir. former of these feelings is brought forward, may, however, appear a lit

No se, si es injusto el rey tle revolting to the foreign reader.

Es obedecerle ley, Jealousy, as Lord Holland remarks in

Si lo es, Dios le castigue. his Life of. Lopé, is introduced to pal

Lopé, Estrella de Sevilla, Act. I.

Esc. 8. liate any enormity, or account for every absurdity. It is the engine by The Spanish writers have been emiwhich the complicated machinery of nently successful in the noble sallies the Spanish drama is almost invarias of national and family pride, with bly set in motion. That this passion which their drama abounds. It must is powerfully dramatic, will be readi- be confessed, that some of these effuly admitted, but, at the same time, sions overstep the thin partition which there are few more likely to pall upon divides the sublime from the ridicuthe mind. Every change and grada lous; but in general there is sometion of jealousy has been anatomized thing extremely imposing in the by Lope, and the succeeding writers orientalism of their addresses to each under the Philips, but yet with such other, recounting their array of troa sameness and monotony in point of phies and titles, and in the exalted effect, as must lead every one, save a

sentiments of honour by which they Spaniard, to wish that the services of are accompanied.

the green-eyed monster" had been Generoso Don Ramon less frequently called into action. The Conde de Monforte in victo;

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Cuya memoria la fama

Don Louis, enraged at finding his sister Ha de negar al olvido :

Angela in Manuel's apartment, leaves Don Vicente soy de Fox

the room in search of his sword; beSi noble, ilustre, ed antiguo

fore going, however, he addresses his Bien lo sabes pues me das

intended antagonist, “a Dios, Don El nombre de tu enemigo. Calderon, Gustos, y. disgustos, fc. replies Don Manuel, “que con bien

Manuel, que os guarde ;" “a Dios," Jorn. I.

os lleve.How strong and universal must The bustling activity of the pasha been the effect of such feelings, sions and manners from which the when we find that they were cherish- Spanish writers drew the materials ed by the peasant as well as the hi- of their dramas, has evidently commudalgo! In Lopé's comedy of “ El nicated to their theatre that complexiMejor Alcalde el Rey,” Sancho, the ty of plot, and that negligence in delishepherd of Don Tello, in begging a neating individual character, by which favour of his master, prefaces his re- it is distinguished. Lope and Calderon, quest, by informing him, that in who wrote with the facility, and free every thing, save the gifts of fortune, quently with the carelessness of improhe considered himself his equal. visatori, found that, with such ample

materials before them, it was much eaPero en Galicia, Senores

sier to invent new incidents, or to vary Es la gente tan bidalga, Que solo en servir al rico

old ones, than to form a new conception El que es pobre no le iguala.

of character, which was a work of paJorn. I. tient study and observation. Accord

ingly, the nobler task of painting chaThe Spanish poets have, in this in- raeter has been almost completely nestance, had the good sense to make glected by the Spanish dramatists: And

even their failings lean to virtue's if the decline of the old school, and the side;" for an appeal to the price and introduction of the French taste unnative honour of their characters is der Yriarte and Moratin, was producalmost never represented as unsuc tive of the least benefit to the Spanish cessful. In the" Por la Puente Ju- theatre, it was in the additional proana,” the Marquis of Villena, after minence which it gave to character. exerting every art to get Juana into But if the Spanish writers have not his power, when on the point of suc

chosen the better path, they are withcess, is at once disarmed by the ener.

out a rival in that walk to which they getic appeal which concludes her ad- have confined themselves. No dradress. "Alluding to the means bymatic authors have ever equalled them which he had succeeded in carrying in the variety and novelty of their inher off to a small island in the Tagus, cidents, in the contrivance of interest

ing situations and coups de theatre, Entré en la Barca, esta tarde,

in the progression of interest with Confianza peligrosa,

which they hurry the reader from Pero justa, en la nobleza

scene to scene, in the ease and nature De vuestra persona heroyca,

with which their underplots fall into Que no ha de degenerar

the stream of the main action, and De sus magnanimas obras

in the grace and happiness of their Sino ayudarme a cobrar

denouements. Some complain that Como quien es, honra y gloria this complication of plot is carriel to De Girones y Pachecos,

such a degree, as frequently to render Mi ser-mi vida, y mi honra the piece confused and unintelligible. Por titulo-por senor

We must not, however, in this in-
Por grande-por hombre sobra
Pues soy muger, y inuger

stance, judge by our own feelings. Que os ha contado su historia.

The Spanish dramatists wrote for Lopé, Por la Puente Juana, ted by all who have visited Spain,

their countryınen, and it is admit. Jor. III. Esc. 20.

that the Spaniards possess an increThis stately and formal courtesy dible acuteness and facility in followof Spanish manners sometimes be- ing out the doublings and the wind. comes a little ludicrous under circum- ings of these plots, while the bewilstances of deep interest. In Calderon's dered foreigner sees nothing but conbeautiful play of “La Dama Duende," fusion,

she says,

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