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The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V2 by William H. Prescott

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and especially that of reviving a livelier relish for the study of the
Greek, by conducting it on principles of pure criticism, in the same
manner as Lebrija did with the Latin. [26]

The scope of the present work precludes the possibility of a copious
enumeration of the pioneers of ancient learning, to whom Spain owes so
large a debt of gratitude. [27]

The Castilian scholars of the close of the fifteenth, and the beginning of
the sixteenth century, may take rank with their illustrious contemporaries
of Italy. They could not indeed achieve such brilliant results in the
discovery of the remains of antiquity, for such remains had been long
scattered and lost amid the centuries of exile and disastrous warfare
consequent on the Saracen invasion. But they were unwearied in their
illustrations, both oral and written, of the ancient authors; and their
numerous commentaries, translations, dictionaries, grammars, and various
works of criticism, many of which, though now obsolete, passed into
repeated editions in their own day, bear ample testimony to the generous
zeal with which they conspired to raise their contemporaries to a proper
level for contemplating the works of the great masters of antiquity; and
well entitled them to the high eulogium of Erasmus, that "liberal studies
were brought, in the course of a few years, in Spain to so flourishing a
condition, as might not only excite the admiration, but serve as a model
to the most cultivated nations of Europe." [28]

The Spanish universities were the theatre on which this classical
erudition was more especially displayed. Previous to Isabella's reign,
there were but few schools in the kingdom; not one indeed of any note,
except in Salamanca; and this did not escape the blight which fell on
every generous study. But under the cheering patronage of the present
government, they were soon filled, and widely multiplied. Academies of
repute were to be found in Seville, Toledo, Salamanca, Granada, and
Alcalá; and learned teachers were drawn from abroad by the most liberal
emoluments. At the head of these establishments stood "the illustrious
city of Salamanca," as Marineo fondly terms it, "mother of all liberal
arts and virtues, alike renowned for noble cavaliers and learned men."
[29] Such was its reputation, that foreigners as well as natives were
attracted to its schools, and at one time, according to the authority of
the same professor, seven thousand students were assembled within its
walls. A letter of Peter Martyr, to his patron the count of Tendilla,
gives a whimsical picture of the literary enthusiasm of this place. The
throng was so great to hear his introductory lecture on one of the Satires
of Juvenal, that every avenue to the hall was blockaded, and the professor
was borne in on the shoulders of the students. Professorships in every
department of science then studied, as well as of polite letters, were
established at the university, the "new Athens," as Martyr somewhere
styles it. Before the close of Isabella's reign, however, its glories were
rivalled, if not eclipsed, by those of Alcalá; [30] which combined higher
advantages for ecclesiastical with civil education, and which, under the
splendid patronage of Cardinal Ximenes, executed the famous polyglot
version of the Scriptures, the most stupendous literary enterprise of that
age. [31]

This active cultivation was not confined to the dead languages, but spread
more or less over every department of knowledge. Theological science, in
particular, received a large share of attention. It had always formed a
principal object of academic instruction, though suffered to languish
under the universal corruption of the preceding reign. It was so common
for the clergy to be ignorant of the most elementary knowledge, that the
council of Aranda found it necessary to pass an ordinance, the year before
Isabella's accession, that no person should be admitted to orders who was
ignorant of Latin. The queen took the most effectual means for correcting
this abuse, by raising only competent persons to ecclesiastical dignities.
The highest stations in the church were reserved for those who combined
the highest intellectual endowments with unblemished piety. Cardinal
Mendoza, whose acute and comprehensive mind entered with interest into
every scheme for the promotion of science, was archbishop of Toledo;
Talavera, whose hospitable mansion was itself an academy for men of
letters, and whose princely revenues were liberally dispensed for their
support, was raised to the see of Granada; and Ximenes, whose splendid
literary projects will require more particular notice hereafter, succeeded
Mendoza in the primacy of Spain. Under the protection of these enlightened
patrons, theological studies were pursued with ardor, the Scriptures
copiously illustrated, and sacred eloquence cultivated with success.

A similar impulse was felt in the other walks of science. Jurisprudence
assumed a new aspect, under the learned labors of Montalvo. [32] The
mathematics formed a principal branch of education, and were successfully
applied to astronomy and geography. Valuable treatises were produced on
medicine, and on the more familiar practical arts, as husbandry, for
example. [33] History, which since the time of Alfonso the Tenth had been
held in higher honor and more widely Cultivated in Castile than in any
other European state, began to lay aside the garb of chronicle, and to be
studied on more scientific principles. Charters and diplomas were
consulted, manuscripts collated, coins and lapidary inscriptions
deciphered, and collections made of these materials, the true basis of
authentic history; and an office of public archives, like that now
existing at Simancas, was established at Burgos, and placed under the care
of Alonso de Mota, as keeper, with a liberal salary. [34]

Nothing could have been more opportune for the enlightened purposes of
Isabella, than the introduction of the art of printing into Spain, at the
commencement, indeed in the very first year, of her reign. She saw, from
the first moment, all the advantages which it promised for diffusing and
perpetuating the discoveries of science. She encouraged its establishment
by large privileges to those who exercised it, whether natives or
foreigners, and by causing many of the works, composed by her subjects, to
be printed at her own charge. [35]

Among the earlier printers we frequently find the names of Germans; a
people, who to the original merits of the discovery may justly add that of
its propagation among every nation of Europe. We meet with a
_pragmática_, or royal ordinance, dated in 1477, exempting a German,
named Theodoric, from taxation, on the ground of being "one of the
principal persons in the discovery and practice of the art of printing
books, which he had brought with him into Spain at great risk and expense,
with the design of ennobling the libraries of the kingdom." [36]
Monopolies for printing and selling books for a limited period, answering
to the modern copyright, were granted to certain persons, in consideration
of their doing so at a reasonable rate. [37] It seems to have been usual
for the printers to be also the publishers and venders of books. These
exclusive privileges, however, do not appear to have been carried to a
mischievous extent. Foreign books, of every description, by a law of 1480,
were allowed to be imported into the kingdom, free of all duty whatever;
an enlightened provision, which might furnish a useful hint to legislators
of the nineteenth century. [38]

The first press appears to have been erected at Valencia, in 1474;
although the glory of precedence is stoutly contested by several places,
and especially by Barcelona. [39] The first work printed was a collection
of songs, composed for a poetical contest in honor of the Virgin, for the
most part in the Limousin or Valencian dialect. [40] In the following year
the first ancient classic, being the works of Sallust, was printed; and,
in 1478, there appeared from the same press a translation of the
Scriptures, in the Limousin, by Father Boniface Ferrer, brother of the
famous Dominican, St. Vincent Ferrer. [41] Through the liberal patronage
of the government, the art was widely diffused; and before the end of the
fifteenth century, presses were established and in active operation in the
principal cities of the united kingdom; in Toledo, Seville, Ciudad Real,
Granada, Valladolid, Burgos, Salamanca, Zamora, Saragossa, Valencia,
Barcelona, Monte Rey, Lerida, Murcia, Tolosa, Tarragona, Alcalá de
Henares, and Madrid.

It is painful to notice amidst the judicious provisions for the
encouragement of science, one so entirely repugnant to their spirit as the
establishment of the censorship. By an ordinance, dated at Toledo, July
8th, 1502, it was decreed, that, "as many of the books sold in the kingdom
were defective, or false, or apocryphal, or pregnant with vain and
superstitious novelties, it was therefore ordered that no book should
hereafter be printed without special license from the king, or some person
regularly commissioned by him for the purpose." The names of the
commissioners then follow, consisting mostly of ecclesiastics, archbishops
and bishops, with authority respectively over their several dioceses. [42]
This authority was devolved in later times, under Charles the Fifth and
his successors, on the Council of the Supreme, over which the inquisitor-
general presided _ex-officio_. The immediate agents employed in the
examination were also drawn from the Inquisition, who exercised this
important trust, as is well known, in a manner most fatal to the interests
of letters and humanity. Thus a provision, destined in its origin for the
advancement of science, by purifying it from the crudities and corruptions
which naturally infect it in a primitive age, contributed more effectually
to its discouragement, than any other which could have been devised, by
interdicting the freedom of expression, so indispensable to freedom of
inquiry. [43]

While endeavoring to do justice to the progress of civilization in this
reign, I should regret to present to the reader an over-colored picture of
its results. Indeed, less emphasis should be laid on any actual results,
than on the spirit of improvement, which they imply in the nation, and the
liberal dispositions of the government. The fifteenth century was
distinguished by a zeal for research and laborious acquisition, especially
in ancient literature, throughout Europe, which showed itself in Italy in
the beginning of the age, and in Spain, and some other countries, towards
the close. It was natural that men should explore the long-buried
treasures descended from their ancestors, before venturing on anything of
their own creation. Their efforts were eminently successful; and, by
opening an acquaintance with the immortal productions of ancient
literature, they laid the best foundation for the cultivation of the

In the sciences, their success was more equivocal. A blind reverence for
authority, a habit of speculation, instead of experiment, so pernicious in
physics, in short, an ignorance of the true principles of philosophy,
often led the scholars of that day in a wrong direction. Even when they
took a right one, their attainments, under all these impediments, were
necessarily so small, as to be scarcely perceptible, when viewed from the
brilliant heights to which science has arrived in our own age.
Unfortunately for Spain, its subsequent advancement has been so retarded,
that a comparison of the fifteenth century with those which succeeded it,
is by no means so humiliating to the former as in some other countries of
Europe; and, it is certain, that in general intellectual fermentation, no
period has surpassed, if it can be said to have rivalled, the age of


[1] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 153.

[2] L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 154, 182.

[3] Carro de las Doñas, lib. 2, cap. 62 et seq., apud Mem. de la Acad. de
Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 21.--Pulgar, Letras, (Amstelodami, 1670,) let. 11.
--L. Marineo, Cosas Memorables, fol. 182.--It is sufficient evidence of
her familiarity with the Latin, that the letters addressed to her by her
confessor seem to have been written in that language and the Castilian
indifferently, exhibiting occasionally a curious patchwork in the
alternate use of each in the same epistle. See Correspondencia Epistolar,
apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 13.

[4] Previous to the introduction of printing, collections of books were
necessarily very small and thinly scattered, owing to the extreme cost of
manuscripts. The learned Saez has collected some curious particulars
relative to this matter. The most copious library which he could find any
account of, in the middle of the fifteenth century, was owned by the
counts of Benavente, and contained not more than one hundred and twenty
volumes. Many of these were duplicates; of Livy alone there were eight
copies. The cathedral churches in Spain rented their books every year by
auction to the highest bidders, whence they derived a considerable

It would appear from a copy of Gratian's Canons, preserved in the
Celestine monastery in Paris, that the copyist was engaged twenty-one
months in transcribing that manuscript. At this rate, the production of
four thousand copies by one hand would require nearly eight thousand
years, a work now easily performed in less than four months. Such was the
tardiness in multiplying copies before the invention of printing. Two
thousand volumes may be procured now at a price, which in those days would
hardly have sufficed to purchase fifty. See Tratado de Monedas de Enrique
III., apud Moratin, Obras, ed. de la Acad., (Madrid, 1830,) tom. i. pp.
91, 92. Moratin argues from extreme cases.

[5] Navagiero, Viaggio fatto in Spagna et in Francia, (Vinegia, 1563,)
fol. 23.--Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust, 17. The largest
collection comprised about two hundred and one articles, or distinct
works. Of these, about a third is taken up with theology, comprehending
Bibles, psalters, missals, lives of saints, and works of the fathers; one-
fifth, civil law and the municipal code of Spain; one-fourth, ancient
classics, modern literature, and romances of chivalry; one-tenth, history;
the residue is devoted to ethics, medicine, grammar, astrology, etc. The
only Italian author, besides Leonardo Bruno d'Arezzo, is Boccaccio. The
works of the latter writer consisted of the "Fiammetta," the treatises "De
Casibus Illustrium Virorum," and "De Claris Mulieribus," and probably the
"Decameron;" the first in the Italian, and the three last translated into
the Spanish. It is singular, that neither of Boccaccio's great
contemporaries, Dante and Petrarch, the former of whom had been translated
by Villena, and imitated by Juan de Mena, half a century before, should
have found a place in the collection.

[6] Antonio, the eldest, died in 1488. Part of his Latin poetical works,
entitled "Sacred Bucolics," was printed in 1505, at Salamanca. The younger
brother, Alessandro, after bearing arms in the Portuguese war, was
subsequently employed in the instruction of the infantas, finally embraced
the ecclesiastical state, and died bishop of St. Domingo, in 1525. Mem. de
la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.--Tiraboschi, Letteratura Italiana,
tom. vi. part. 2, p. 285.

[7] The learned Valencian, Luis Vives, in his treatise "De Christianâ
Feminâ," remarks, "Aetas noster quatuor illas Isabellae reginae filias,
quas paullo ante memoravi, eruditas vidit. Non sine laudibus et
admiratione refertur mihi passim in hae terrâ Joannam, Philippi conjugem,
Caroli hujus matrem, extempore latinis orationibus, quae de more apud
novos principes oppidatim habentur, latine respondisse. Idem de reginâ
suâ, Joannae sorore, Britanni praedicant; idem omnes de duabus aliis, quae
in Lusitaniâ fato concessere." (De Christianâ Feminâ, cap. 4, apud Mem. de
la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.)--It appears, however, that
Isabella was not inattentive to the more humble accomplishments, in the
education of her daughters. "Regina," says the same author, "nere, suere,
acu pingere quatuor filias auas doctas esse voluit." Another contemporary,
the author of the Carro de las Doñas, (lib. 2, cap. 62, apud Mem. de la
Acad. de Hist., Ilust. 21,) says, "she educated her son and daughters,
giving them masters of life and letters, and surrounding them with such
persons as tended to make them vessels of election, and kings in Heaven."

Erasmus notices the literary attainments of the youngest daughter of the
sovereigns, the unfortunate Catharine of Aragon, with unqualified
admiration. In one of his letters, he styles her "egregie doctam;" and in
another he remarks, "Regina non tantum in sexus miraculum literata est;
nec minus pietate suspicienda, quam eruditione." Epistolae, (Londini,
1642,) lib. 19, epist. 31; lib. 2, epist. 24.

[8] Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., dial. de Deza.--Mem. de la Acad. de Hist.,
tom. vi. Ilust. 14.

[9] Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 14.

Juan de la Eucina, in the dedication to the prince, of his translation of
Virgil's Bucolics, pays the following compliment to the enlightened and
liberal taste of Prince John. "Favoresceis tanto la sciencia andando
acompañado de tantos e tan doctísimos varones, que no menos dejareis
perdurable memoria de haber alargado e estendido los límites e términos de
la sciencia que los del imperio." The extraordinary promise of this young
prince made his name known in distant parts of Europe, and his untimely
death, which occurred in the twentieth year of his age, was commemorated
by an epitaph of the learned Greek exile, Constantine Lascaris.

[10] "Aficionados á la guerra," says Oviedo, speaking of some young nobles
of his time, "_por su Española y natural inclinacion_." Quincuagenas,
MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 36.

[11] For some account of this eminent Italian scholar, see the postscript
to Part I. Chap. 14, of this History.

[12] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 102, 103.

Lucio Marineo, in a discourse addressed to Charles V., thus notices the
queen's solicitude for the instruction of her young nobility. "Isabella
praesertim Regina magnanima, virtutum omnium maxima cultrix. Quae quidem
multis et magnis occupata negotiis, ut aliis exemplum praeberet, a primis
grammaticae rudimentis studere coepit, et omnes suae domûs adolescentes
utriusque sexûs nobilium liberos, praeceptoribus liberaliter et honorifice
conductis erudiendos commendabat." Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi.
Apend. 16.--See also Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial.

[13] Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 115.

[14] A particular account of Marineo's writings may be found in Nic.
Antonio. (Bibliotheca Nova, tom. ii. Apend. p. 369.) The most important of
these is his work "De Rebus Hispaniae Memorabilibus," often cited, in the
Castilian, in this History. It is a rich repository of details respecting
the geography, statistics, and manners of the Peninsula, with a copious
historical notice of events in Ferdinand and Isabella's reign. The
author's insatiable curiosity, during a long residence in the country,
enabled him to collect many facts, of a kind that do not fall within the
ordinary compass of history; while his extensive learning, and his
familiarity with foreign models, peculiarly qualified him for estimating
the institutions he describes. It must be confessed he is sufficiently
partial to the land of his adoption. The edition, referred to in this
work, is in black letter, printed before, or soon after, the author's
death (the date of which is uncertain), in 1539, at Alcalá de Henares, by
Juan Brocar, one of a family long celebrated in the annals of Castilian
printing. Marineo's prologue concludes with the following noble tribute to
letters. "Porque todos los otros bienes son subjectos a la fortuna y
mudables y en poco tiempo mudan muchos dueños passando de unos señores en
otros, mas los dones de letras y hystorias que se ofrescen para
perpetuidad de memoria y fama son immortales y prorogan y guardan para
siempre la memoria assi de los que los reciben, como de los que los

[15] Sepulveda, Democrites, apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi.
Ilust. 16.--Signorelli, Coltura nelle Sicilie, tom. iv. p. 318.--
Tiraboschi, Letteratura Italiana, tom. vii. part. 3, lib. 3, cap. 4.--
Comp. Lampillas, Saggio Storico-Apologetico de la Letteratura Spagnuola,
(Genova, 1778,) tom. ii. dis. 2, sect. 5.--The patriotic Abate is greatly
scandalized by the degree of influence which Tiraboschi and other Italian
critics ascribe to their own language over the Castilian, especially at
this period. The seven volumes, in which he has discharged his bile on the
heads of the offenders, afford valuable materials for the historian of
Spanish literature. Tiraboschi must be admitted to have the better of his
antagonist in temper, if not in argument.

[16] Among these we find copious translations from the ancient classics,
as Caesar, Appian, Plutarch, Plautus, Sallust, Aesop, Justin, Boëthius,
Apulius, Herodian, affording strong evidence of the activity of the
Castilian scholars in this department. Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi.
pp. 406, 407.--Mendez, Typographia Española, pp. 133, 139.

[17] Salazar de Mendoza, Dignidades, cap. 21.

Lucio Marineo Siculo, in his discourse above alluded to, in which he
exhibits the condition of letters under the reign of Ferdinand and
Isabella, enumerates the names of the nobility most conspicuous for their
scholarship. This valuable document was to be found only in the edition of
Marineo's work, "De Rebus Hispaniae Memorabilibus," printed at Alcalá, in
1630, whence it has been transferred by Clemencin to the sixth volume of
the Memoirs of the Royal Academy of History.

[18] His work "Guerra de Granada," was first published at Madrid, in 1610,
and "may be compared," says Nic. Antonio, in a judgment which has been
ratified by the general consent of his countrymen, "with the compositions
of Sallust, or any other ancient historian." His poetry and his celebrated
_picaresco_ novel "Lazarillo de Tormes," have made an epoch in the
ornamental literature of Spain.

[19] Oviedo has devoted one of his dialogues to this nobleman, equally
distinguished by his successes in arms, letters, and love; the last of
which, according to that writer, he had not entirely resigned at the age
of seventy.--Quincuagenas, MS., bat. 1, quinc. 1, dial. 28.

[20] For an account of Santillana, see the First Chapter of this History.
The cardinal, in early life, is said to have translated for his father the
Aeneid, the Odyssey, Ovid, Valerius Maximus, and Sallust. (Mem. de la
Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.) This Herculean feat would put modern
school-boys to shame, and we may suppose that partial versions only of
these authors are intended.

[21] Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas,
MS., dial. de Grizio.

Señor Clemencin has examined with much care the intellectual culture of
the nation under Isabella, in the sixteenth _Ilustracion_ of his work. He
has touched lightly on its poetical character, considering, no doubt, that
this had been sufficiently developed by other critics. His essay, however,
is rich in information in regard to the scholarship and severer studies of
the period. The reader, who would pursue the inquiry still further, may
find abundant materials in Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Vetus, tom. ii. lib.
10, cap. 13 et seq.--Idem, Bibliotheca Hispana Nova, (Matriti, 1783-8,)
tom. i. ii. passim.

[22] See Part I. Chap. 8, of this History.

[23] For a notice of this scholar, see the postscript to Part I. Chap. 11,
of this History.

[24] Mendez, Typographia Española, pp. 271, 272. In the second edition,
published 1482, the author states, that no work of the time had a greater
circulation, more than a thousand copies of it, at a high price, having
been disposed of in the preceding year. Ibid., p. 237.

[25] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. pp. 132-139.--Lampillas,
Letteratura Spagnuola, tom. ii. dis. 2, sec. 3.--Dialogo de las Lenguas,
apud Mayans y Siscar, Orígenes, (Madrid, 1737,) tom. ii. pp. 46, 47.

Lucio Marineo pays the following elegant compliment to this learned
Spaniard, in his discourse before quoted. "Amisit nuper Hispania maximum
sui cultorem in re litterariâ, Antonium Nebrissensem, qui primus ex Italiâ
in Hispaniam Musas adduxit, quibuscum barbariem ex suâ patriâ fugavit, et
Hispaniam totam linguae Latinae lectionibus illustravit." "Meruerat id,"
says Gomez de Castro of Lebrija, "et multo majora hominis eruditio, cui
Hispania debet, quicquid habet bonarum literarum."

The acute author of the "Dialogo de las Lenguas," while he renders ample
homage to Lebrija's Latin erudition, disputes his critical acquaintance
with his own language, from his being a native of Andalusia, where the
Castilian was not spoken with purity. "Hablaba y escrivia como en el
Andalucia y no como en la Castilla." P. 92. See also pp. 9, 10, 46, 53.

[26] Barbosa, Bibliotheca Lusitana, (Lisboa Occidental, 1741,) tom. i. pp.
76-78.--Signorelli, Coltura nelle Sicilie, tom. iv. pp. 315-321.--Mayans y
Siscar, Origenes, tom. i. p. 173.--Lampillas, Letteratura Spagnuola, tom.
ii. dis. 2, sect. 5.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. pp. 170,

[27] Among these are particularly deserving of attention the brothers John
and Francis Vergara, professors at Alcalá, the latter of whom was esteemed
one of the most accomplished scholars of the age; Nuñez de Guzman, of the
ancient house of that name, professor for many years at Salamanca and
Alcalá, and the author of the Latin version in the famous Polyglot of
Cardinal Ximenes; he left behind him numerous works, especially
commentaries on the classics; Olivario, whose curious erudition was
abundantly exhibited in his illustrations of Cicero and other Latin
authors; and lastly Vives, whose fame rather belongs to Europe than his
own country, who, when only twenty-six years old, drew from Erasmus the
encomium, that "there was scarcely any one of the age whom he could
venture to compare with him in philosophy, eloquence, and liberal
learning." But the most unequivocal testimony to the deep and various
scholarship of the period is afforded by that stupendous literary work of
Cardinal Ximenes, the Polyglot Bible, whose versions in the Greek, Latin,
and Oriental tongues were collated, with a single exception, by Spanish
scholars. Erasmus, Epistolae, lib. 19, epist. 101.--Lampillas, Letteratura
Spagnuola, tom. ii. pp. 382-384, 495, 792-794; tom. ii. p. 208 et seq.--
Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, fol. 37.

[28] Erasmus, Epistolae, p. 977.

[29] "La muy esclarecida ciudad de Salamanca, madre de las artes
liberales, y todas virtudes, y ansi de cavalleros como de letrados
varones, muy ilustre." Cosas Memorables, fol. 11.--Chacon, Hist. de la
Universidad de Salamanca, apud Semanario Erudito, tom. xviii. pp. 1-61.

[30] "Academia Complutensis," says Erasmus of this university, "non
aliunde celebritatem nominis auspicata est quàm a complectendo linguae ac
bonas literas. Cujus praecipuum oramentum est egregius ille senex,
planéque dignus qui multos vincat Nestoras, Antonius Nebrissensis." Epist.
ad Ludovicum Vivem, 1521. Epistolae, p. 755.

[31] Cosas Memorables, ubi supra.--Peter Martyr, Opus Epist., epist. 57.--
Gomez, De Rebus Gestis, lib. 4.--Chacon, Universidad de Salamanca, ubi

It appears that the practice of scraping with the feet as an expression of
disapprobation, familiar in our universities, is of venerable antiquity;
for Martyr mentions, that he was saluted with it before finishing his
discourse by one or two idle youths, dissatisfied with its length. The
lecturer, however, seems to have given general satisfaction, for he was
escorted back in triumph to his lodgings, to use his own language, "like a
victor in the Olympic games," after the conclusion of the exercise.

[32] For some remarks on the labors of this distinguished jurisconsult,
see Part I. Chap. 6, and Part II. Chap. 26, of the present work.

[33] The most remarkable of these latter is Herrera's treatise on
Agriculture, which since its publication in Toledo, in 1520, has passed
through a variety of editions at home and translations abroad. Nic.
Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. p. 503.

[34] This collection, with the ill luck which has too often befallen such
repositories in Spain, was burnt in the war of the Communities, in the
time of Charles V. Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. Ilust. 16.--
Morales, Obras, tom. vii. p. 18.--Informe de Ríol, who particularly
notices the solicitude of Ferdinand and Isabella for preserving the public

[35] Mendez, Typographia Española, p. 51.

[36] Archivo de Murcia, apud Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. vi. p. 244.

[37] Mendez, Typographia Española, pp. 52, 332.

[38] Ordenanças Reales, lib. 4, tit. 4, ley 22.--The preamble of this
statute is expressed in the following enlightened terms; "Considerando los
Reyes de gloriosa memoria quanto era provechoso y honroso, que a estos sus
reynos se truxessen libros de otras partes para que con ellos se hiziessen
los hombres letrados, quisieron y ordenaron, que de los libros no se
pagasse el alcavala.... Lo qual parece que redunda en provecho universal
de todos, y en ennoblecimiento de nuestros Reynos."

[39] Capmany, Mem. de Barcelona, tom. i. part. 2, lib. 2, cap. 6.--Mendez,
Typographia Española, pp. 55, 93.

Bouterwek intimates, that the art of printing was first practised in Spain
by German printers at Seville, _in the beginning of the sixteenth
century_. (Bouterwek, Geschichte der Poesie und Beredsamkeit, (Göttingen,
1801-17,) band iii. p. 98.)--He appears to have been misled by a solitary
example quoted from Mayans y Siscar. The want of materials has more than
once led this eminent critic to build sweeping conclusions on slender

[40] The title of the book is "Certamen poetich en lohor de la Concecio,"
Valencia, 1474, 4to. The name of the printer is wanting. Mendez,
Typographia Española, p. 56.

[41] Ibid., pp. 61-63.

[42] Mendez, Typographia Española, pp. 52, 53.--Pragmáticas del Reyno,
fol. 138, 139.

[43] Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. chap. 13, art. 1.

"Adempto per _inquisitiones_," says Tacitus of the gloomy times of
Domitian, "et loquendi audiendique commercio." (Vita Agricolae, sec. 2.)
Beaumarchais, in a merrier vein, indeed, makes the same bitter
reflections. "Il s'est établi dans Madrid un système de liberté sur la
vente des productions, qui s'étend même a celles de la presse; et que,
pourvu que je ne parle en mes écrits ni de l'autorité, ni de culte, ni de
la politique, ni de la morale, ni des gens en place, ni des corps en
crédit, ni de l'Opéra, ni des autres spectacles, ni de personne qui tienne
à quelque chose, je puis tout imprimer librement, sous l'inspection de
deux ou trois censeurs," Mariage de Figaro, acte 5, sc. 3.



This Reign an Epoch in Polite Letters.--Romances of Chivalry.--Ballads or
_Romances_.--Moorish Minstrelsy.--"Cancionero General."--Its Literary
Value.--Rise of the Spanish Drama.--Criticism on "Celestina."--Encina.--
Naharro.--Low Condition of the Stage.--National Spirit of the Literature
of this Epoch.

Ornamental or polite literature, which, emanating from the taste and
sensibility of a nation, readily exhibits its various fluctuations of
fashion and feeling, was stamped in Spain with the distinguishing
characteristics of this revolutionary age. The Provencal, which reached
such high perfection in Catalonia, and subsequently in Aragon, as noticed
in an introductory chapter, [1] expired with the union of this monarchy
with Castile, and the dialect ceased to be applied to literary purposes
altogether, after the Castilian became the language of the court in the
united kingdoms. The poetry of Castile, which throughout the present reign
continued to breathe the same patriotic spirit, and to exhibit the same
national peculiarities that had distinguished it from the time of the Cid,
submitted soon after Ferdinand's death to the influence of the more
polished Tuscan, and henceforth, losing somewhat of its distinctive
physiognomy, assumed many of the prevalent features of continental
literature. Thus the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella becomes an epoch as
memorable in literary, as in civil history.

The most copious vein of fancy, in that day, was turned in the direction
of the prose romance of chivalry; now seldom disturbed, even in its own
country, except by the antiquary. The circumstances of the age naturally
led to its production. The romantic Moorish wars, teeming with adventurous
exploit and picturesque incident, carried on with the natural enemies of
the Christian knight, and opening moreover all the legendary stores of
Oriental fable,--the stirring adventures by sea as well as land,--above
all, the discovery of a world beyond the waters, whose unknown regions
gave full scope to the play of the imagination, all contributed to
stimulate the appetite for the incredible chimeras, the _magnanime
menzogne_, of chivalry. The publication of "Amadis de Gaula" gave a
decided impulse to this popular feeling. This romance, which seems now
well ascertained to be the production of a Portuguese in the latter half
of the fourteenth century, [2] was first printed in a Spanish version,
probably not far from 1490. [3] Its editor, Garci Ordoñez de Montalvo,
states, in his prologue, that "he corrected it from the ancient originals,
pruning it of all superfluous phrases, and substituting others of a more
polished and elegant style." [4] How far its character was benefited by
this work of purification may be doubted; although it is probable it did
not suffer so much by such a process as it would have done in a later and
more cultivated period. The simple beauties of this fine old romance, its
bustling incidents, relieved by the delicate play of Oriental machinery,
its general truth of portraiture, above all, the knightly character of the
hero, who graced the prowess of chivalry with a courtesy, modesty, and
fidelity unrivalled in the creations of romance, soon recommended it to
popular favor and imitation. A continuation, bearing the title of "Las
Sergas de Esplandian," was given to the world by Montalvo himself, and
grafted on the original stock, as the fifth book of the Amadis, before
1510. A sixth, containing the adventures of his nephew, was printed at
Salamanca in the course of the last-mentioned year; and thus the idle
writers of the day continued to propagate dulness through a series of
heavy tomes, amounting in all to four and twenty books, until the much-
abused public would no longer suffer the name of Amadis to cloak the
manifold sins of his posterity. [5] Other knights-errant were sent roving
about the world at the same time, whose exploits would fill a library; but
fortunately they have been permitted to pass into oblivion, from which a
few of their names only have been rescued by the caustic criticism of the
curate in Don Quixote; who, it will be remembered, after declaring that
the virtues of the parent shall not avail his posterity, condemns them and
their companions, with one or two exceptions only, to the fatal funeral
pile. [6]

These romances of chivalry must have undoubtedly contributed to nourish
those exaggerated sentiments, which from a very early period entered into
the Spanish character. Their evil influence, in a literary view, resulted
less from their improbabilities of situation, which they possessed in
common with the inimitable Italian epics, than from the false pictures
which they presented of human character, familiarizing the eye of the
reader with such models as debauched the taste, and rendered him incapable
of relishing the chaste and sober productions of art. It is remarkable
that the chivalrous romance, which was so copiously cultivated through the
greater part of the sixteenth century, should not have assumed the poetic
form, as in Italy, and indeed among our Norman ancestors; and that, in its
prose dress, no name of note appears to raise it to a high degree of
literary merit. Perhaps such a result might have been achieved, but for
the sublime parody of Cervantes, which cut short the whole race of
knights-errant, and by the fine irony, which it threw around the mock
heroes of chivalry, extinguished them for ever. [7]

The most popular poetry of this period, that springing from the body of
the people, and most intimately addressed to it, is the ballads, or
_romances_, as they are termed in Spain. These indeed were familiar
to the Peninsula as far back as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; but
in the present reign they received a fresh impulse from the war with
Granada, and composed, under the name of the Moorish ballads, what may
perhaps be regarded, without too high praise, as the most exquisite
popular minstrelsy of any age or country.

The humble narrative lyrics making up the mass of ballad poetry, and
forming the natural expression of a simple state of society, would seem to
be most abundant in nations endowed with keen sensibilities, and placed in
situations of excitement and powerful interest, fitted to develop them.
The light and lively French have little to boast of in this way. [8] The
Italians, with a deeper poetic feeling, were too early absorbed in the
gross business habits of trade, and their literature received too high a
direction from its master spirits, at its very commencement, to allow any
considerable deviation in this track. The countries where it has most
thriven, are probably Great Britain and Spain. The English and the Scotch,
whose constitutionally pensive and even melancholy temperament has been
deepened by the sober complexion of the climate, were led to the
cultivation of this poetry still further by the stirring scenes of feudal
warfare in which they were engaged, especially along the borders. The
Spaniards, to similar sources of excitement, added that of high religious
feeling in their struggles with the Saracens, which gave a somewhat
loftier character to their effusions. Fortunately for them, their early
annals gave birth, in the Cid, to a hero whose personal renown was
identified with that of his country, round whose name might be
concentrated all the scattered lights of song, thus enabling the nation to
build up its poetry on the proudest historic recollections. [9] The feats
of many other heroes, fabulous as well as real, were permitted to swell
the stream of traditionary verse; and thus a body of poetical annals,
springing up as it were from the depths of the people, was bequeathed from
sire to son, contributing, perhaps, more powerfully than any real history
could have done, to infuse a common principle of patriotism into the
scattered members of the nation.

There is considerable resemblance between the early Spanish ballad and the
British. The latter affords more situations of pathos and deep tenderness,
particularly those of suffering, uncomplaining love, a favorite theme with
old English poets of every description. [10] We do not find, either, in
the ballads of the Peninsula, the wild, romantic adventures of the roving
outlaw, of the Robin Hood genus, which enter so largely into English
minstrelsy. The former are in general of a more sustained and chivalrous
character, less gloomy, and although fierce not so ferocious, nor so
decidedly tragical in their aspect, as the latter. The ballads of the Cid,
however, have many points in common with the border poetry; the same free
and cordial manner, the same love of military exploit, relieved by a
certain tone of generous gallantry, and accompanied by a strong expression
of national feeling.

The resemblance between the minstrelsy of the two countries vanishes,
however, as we approach the Moorish ballads. The Moorish wars had always
afforded abundant themes of interest for the Castilian muse; but it was
not till the fall of the capital, that the very fountains of song were
broken up, and those beautiful ballads were produced, which seem like the
echoes of departed glory, lingering round the ruins of Granada.
Incompetent as these pieces may be as historical records, they are
doubtless sufficiently true to manners. [11] They present a most
remarkable combination, of not merely the exterior form, but the noble
spirit of European chivalry, with the gorgeousness and effeminate luxury
of the east. They are brief, seizing single situations of the highest
poetic interest, and striking the eye of the reader with a brilliancy of
execution, so artless in appearance withal as to seem rather the effect of
accident than study. We are transported to the gay seat of Moorish power,
and witness the animating bustle, its pomp and its revelry, prolonged to
the last hour of its existence. The bull-fight of the Vivarrambla, the
graceful tilt of reeds, the amorous knights with their quaint significant
devices, the dark Zegris, or Gomeres, and the royal, self-devoted
Abencerrages, the Moorish maiden radiant at the tourney, the moonlight
serenade, the stolen interview, where the lover gives vent to all the
intoxication of passion in the burning language of Arabian metaphor and
hyperbole, [12]--these, and a thousand similar scenes, are brought before
the eye, by a succession of rapid and animated touches, like the lights
and shadows of a landscape. The light trochaic structure of the
_redondilla_ [13], as the Spanish ballad measure is called, rolling
on its graceful, negligent _asonante_, [14] whose continued repetition
seems by its monotonous melody to prolong the note of feeling originally
struck, is admirably suited by its flexibility to the most varied and
opposite expression; a circumstance which has recommended it as the
ordinary measure of dramatic dialogue.

Nothing can be more agreeable than the general effect of the Moorish
ballads, which combine the elegance of a riper period of literature, with
the natural sweetness and simplicity, savoring sometimes even of the
rudeness, of a primitive age. Their merits have raised them to a sort of
classical dignity in Spain, and have led to their cultivation by a higher
order of writers, and down to a far later period, than in any other
country in Europe. The most successful specimens of this imitation may be
assigned to the early part of the seventeenth century; but the age was too
late to enable the artist, with all his skill, to seize the true coloring
of the antique. It is impossible, at this period, to ascertain the authors
of these venerable lyrics, nor can the exact time of their production be
now determined; although, as their subjects are chiefly taken from the
last days of the Spanish Arabian empire, the larger part of them was
probably posterior, and, as they were printed in collections at the
beginning of the sixteenth century, could not have been long posterior, to
the capture of Granada. How far they may be referred to the conquered
Moors, is uncertain. Many of these wrote and spoke the Castilian with
elegance, and there is nothing improbable in the supposition, that they
should seek some solace under present evils in the splendid visions of the
past. The bulk of this poetry, however, was in all probability the
creation of the Spaniards themselves, naturally attracted by the
picturesque circumstances in the character and condition of the conquered
nation to invest them with poetic interest.

The Moorish _romances_ fortunately appeared after the introduction of
printing into the Peninsula, so that they were secured a permanent
existence, instead of perishing with the breath that made them, like so
many of their predecessors. This misfortune, which attaches to so much of
popular poetry in all nations, is not imputable to any insensibility in
the Spaniards to the excellence of their own. Men of more erudition than
taste may have held them light, in comparison with more ostentatious and
learned productions. This fate has befallen them in other countries than
Spain. [15] But persons of finer poetic feeling, and more enlarged spirit
of criticism, have estimated them as a most essential and characteristic
portion of Castilian literature. Such was the judgment of the great Lope
de Vega, who, after expatiating on the extraordinary compass and sweetness
of the _romance_, and its adaptation to the highest subjects, commends it
as worthy of all estimation for its peculiar national character. [16] The
modern Spanish writers have adopted a similar tone of criticism, insisting
on its study, as essential to a correct appreciation and comprehension of
the genius of the language. [17]

The Castilian ballads were first printed in the "Cancionero General" of
Fernando del Castillo, in 1511. They were first incorporated into a
separate work, by Sepulveda, under the name of "Romances sacados de
Historias Antiguas," printed at Antwerp, in 1551. [18] Since that period,
they have passed into repeated editions, at home and abroad, especially in
Germany, where they have been illustrated by able critics. [19] Ignorance
of their authors, and of the era of their production, has prevented any
attempt at exact chronological arrangement; a circumstance rendered,
moreover, nearly impossible, by the perpetual modification which the
original style of the more ancient ballads has experienced, in their
transition through successive generations; so that, with one or two
exceptions, no earlier date should probably be assigned to the oldest of
them, in their present form, than the fifteenth century. [20] Another
system of classification has been adopted, of distributing them according
to their subjects; and independent collections also of the separate
departments, as ballads of the Cid, of the Twelve Peers, the Morisco
ballads, and the like, have been repeatedly published, both at home and
abroad. [21]

The higher and educated classes of the nation were not insensible to the
poetic spirit, which drew forth such excellent minstrelsy from the body of
the people. Indeed, Castilian poetry bore the same patrician stamp through
the whole of the present reign, which had been impressed on it in its
infancy. Fortunately, the new art of printing was employed here, as in the
case of the _romances_, to arrest those fugitive sallies of imagination,
which in other countries were permitted, from want of this care, to pass
into oblivion; and _cancioneros_, or collections of lyrics, were
published, embodying the productions of this reign and that of John the
Second, thus bringing under one view the poetic culture of the fifteenth

The earliest _cancionero_ printed was at Saragossa, in 1492. It
comprehended the works of Mena, Manrique, and six or seven other bards of
less note. [22] A far more copious collection was made by Fernando del
Castillo, and first published at Valencia, in 1511, under the title of
"Cancionero General," since which period it has passed into repeated
editions. This compilation is certainly more creditable to Castillo's
industry, than to his discrimination or power of arrangement. Indeed, in
this latter respect it is so defective, that it would almost seem to have
been put together fortuitously, as the pieces came to hand. A large
portion of the authors appear to have been persons of rank; a circumstance
to which perhaps they were indebted, more than to any poetic merit, for a
place in the miscellany, which might have been decidedly increased in
value by being diminished in bulk. [23]

The _works of devotion_ with which the collection opens, are on the
whole the feeblest portion of it. We discern none of the inspiration and
lyric glow, which were to have been anticipated from the devout,
enthusiastic Spaniard. We meet with anagrams on the Virgin, glosses on the
creed and pater noster, _canciones_ on original sin and the like
unpromising topics, all discussed in the most bald, prosaic manner, with
abundance of Latin phrase, scriptural allusion, and commonplace precept,
unenlivened by a single spark of true poetic fire, and presenting
altogether a farrago of the most fantastic pedantry.

The lighter, especially the amatory poems, are much more successfully
executed, and the primitive forms of the old Castilian versification are
developed with considerable variety and beauty. Among the most agreeable
effusions in this way, may be noticed those of Diego Lopez de Haro, who,
to borrow the encomium of a contemporary, was "the mirror of gallantry for
the young cavaliers of the time." There are few verses in the collection
composed with more facility and grace. [24] Among the more elaborate
pieces, Diego de San Pedro's "Desprecio de la Fortuna" may be
distinguished, not so much for any poetic talent which it exhibits, as for
its mercurial and somewhat sarcastic tone of sentiment. [25] The
similarity of subject may suggest a parallel between it and the Italian
poet Guidi's celebrated ode on Fortune; and the different styles of
execution may perhaps be taken, as indicating pretty fairly the
distinctive peculiarities of the Tuscan and the old Spanish school of
poetry. The Italian, introducing the fickle goddess, in person, on the
scene, describes her triumphant march over the ruins of empires and
dynasties, from the earliest time, in a flow of lofty dithyrambic
eloquence, adorned with all the brilliant coloring of a stimulated fancy
and a highly finished language. The Castilian, on the other hand, instead
of this splendid personification, deepens his verse into a moral tone,
and, dwelling on the vicissitudes and vanities of human life, points his
reflections with some caustic warning, often conveyed with enchanting
simplicity, but without the least approach to lyric exaltation, or indeed
the affectation of it.

This proneness to moralize the song is in truth a characteristic of the
old Spanish bard. He rarely abandons himself, without reserve, to the
frolic puerilities so common with the sister Muse of Italy,

"Scritta così come la penna getta,
Per fuggir l'ozio, e non per cercar gloria."

It is true, he is occasionally betrayed by verbal subtilties and other
affectations of the age; [26] but even his liveliest sallies are apt to be
seasoned with a moral, or sharpened by a satiric sentiment. His defects,
indeed, are of the kind most opposed to those of the Italian poet, showing
themselves, especially in the more elaborate pieces, in a certain tumid
stateliness and overstrained energy of diction.

On the whole, one cannot survey the "Cancionero General" without some
disappointment at the little progress of the poetic art, since the reign
of John the Second, at the beginning of the century. The best pieces in
the collection are of that date, and no rival subsequently arose to
compete with the masculine strength of Mena, or the delicacy and
fascinating graces of Santillana. One cause of this tardy progress may
have been the direction to utility manifested in this active reign, which
led such as had leisure for intellectual pursuits to cultivate science,
rather than abandon themselves to the mere revels of the imagination.

Another cause may be found in the rudeness of the language, whose delicate
finish is so essential to the purposes of the poet, but which was so
imperfect at this period that Juan de la Encina, a popular writer of the
time, complained that he was obliged, in his version of Virgil's Eclogues,
to coin, as it were, a new vocabulary, from the want of terms
corresponding with the original, in the old one. [27] It was not until the
close of the present reign, when the nation began to breathe awhile from
its tumultuous career, that the fruits of the patient cultivation which it
had been steadily, though silently experiencing, began to manifest
themselves in the improved condition of the language, and its adaptation
to the highest poetical uses. The intercourse with Italy, moreover, by
naturalizing new and more finished forms of versification, afforded a
scope for the nobler efforts of the poet, to which the old Castilian
measures, however well suited to the wild and artless movements of the
popular minstrelsy, were altogether inadequate.

We must not dismiss the miscellaneous poetry of this period, without some
notice of the "Coplas" of Don Jorge Manrique, [28] on the death of his
father, the count of Paredes, in 1474 [29]. The elegy is of considerable
length, and is sustained throughout in a tone of the highest moral
dignity, while the poet leads us up from the transitory objects of this
lower world to the contemplation of that imperishable existence, which
Christianity has opened beyond the grave. A tenderness pervades the piece,
which may remind us of the best manner of Petrarch; while, with the
exception of a slight taint of pedantry, it is exempt from the
meretricious vices that belong to the poetry of the age. The effect of the
sentiment is heightened by the simple turns and broken melody of the old
Castilian verse, of which perhaps this may be accounted the most finished
specimen; such would seem to be the judgment of his own countrymen, [30]
whose glosses and commentaries on it have swelled into a separate volume.

I shall close this survey with a brief notice of the drama, whose
foundations may be said to have been laid during this reign. The sacred
plays, or mysteries, so popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, may
be traced in Spain to an ancient date. Their familiar performance in the
churches, by the clergy, is recognized in the middle of the thirteenth
century, by a law of Alfonso the Tenth, which, while it interdicted
certain profane mummeries that had come into vogue, prescribed the
legitimate topics for exhibition. [32]

The transition from these rude spectacles to more regular dramatic
efforts, was very slow and gradual. In 1414, an allegorical comedy,
composed by the celebrated Henry, marquis of Villena, was performed at
Saragossa, in the presence of the court. [33] In 1469, a dramatic eclogue
by an anonymous author was exhibited in the palace of the count of Ureña,
in the presence of Ferdinand, on his coming into Castile to espouse the
infanta Isabella. [34] These pieces may be regarded as the earliest
theatrical attempts, after the religious dramas and popular pantomimes
already noticed; but unfortunately they have not come down to us. The next
production deserving attention is a "Dialogue between Love and an Old
Man," imputed to Rodrigo Cota, a poet of whose history nothing seems to be
known, and little conjectured, but that he flourished during the reigns of
John the Second, and Henry the Fourth. The dialogue is written with much
vivacity and grace, and with as much dramatic movement as is compatible
with only two interlocutors. [35]

A much more memorable production is referred to the same author, the
tragicomedy of "Celestina," or "Calisto and Melibea," as it is frequently
called. The first act, indeed, constituting nearly one-third of the piece,
is all that is ascribed to Cota. The remaining twenty, which however
should rather be denominated scenes, were continued by another hand, some,
though to judge from the internal evidence afforded by the style, not many
years later. The second author was Fernando de Roxas, bachelor of law, as
he informs us, who composed this work as a sort of intellectual
relaxation, during one of his vacations. The time was certainly not
misspent. The continuation, however, is not esteemed by the Castilian
critics to have risen quite to the level of the original act. [36]

The story turns on a love intrigue. A Spanish youth of rank is enamoured
of a lady, whose affections he gains with some difficulty, but whom he
finally seduces, through the arts of an accomplished courtesan, whom the
author has introduced under the romantic name of Celestina. The piece,
although comic, or rather sentimental in its progress, terminates in the
most tragical catastrophe, in which all the principal actors are involved.
The general texture, of the plot is exceedingly clumsy, yet it affords
many situations of deep and varied interest in its progress. The principal
characters are delineated in the piece with considerable skill. The part
of Celestina, in particular, in which a veil of plausible hypocrisy is
thrown over the deepest profligacy of conduct, is managed with much
address. The subordinate parts are brought into brisk comic action, with
natural dialogue, though sufficiently obscene; and an interest of a graver
complexion is raised by the passion of the lovers, the timid, confiding
tenderness of the lady, and the sorrows of the broken-hearted parent. The
execution of the play reminds us on the whole less of the Spanish, than of
the old English theatre, in many of its defects, as well as beauties; in
the contrasted strength and imbecility of various passages; its
intermixture of broad farce and deep tragedy; the unseasonable
introduction of frigid metaphor and pedantic allusion in the midst of the
most passionate discourses; in the unveiled voluptuousness of its
coloring, occasionally too gross for any public exhibition; but, above
all, in the general strength and fidelity of its portraiture.

The tragicomedy, as it is styled, of Celestina, was obviously never
intended for representation, to which, not merely the grossness of some of
the details, but the length and arrangement of the piece, are unsuitable.
But, notwithstanding this, and its approximation to the character of a
romance, it must be admitted to contain within itself the essential
elements of dramatic composition; and, as such, is extolled by the Spanish
critics, as opening the theatrical career of Europe. A similar claim has
been maintained for nearly contemporaneous productions in other countries,
and especially for Politian's "Orfeo," which, there is little doubt, was
publicly acted before 1483. Notwithstanding its representation, however,
the "Orfeo," presenting a combination of the eclogue and the ode, without
any proper theatrical movement, or attempt at development of character,
cannot fairly come within the limits of dramatic writing. A more ancient
example than either, at least as far as the exterior forms are concerned,
may be probably found in the celebrated French farce of Pierre Pathelin,
printed as early as 1474, having been repeatedly played during the
preceding century, and which, with the requisite modifications, still
keeps possession of the stage. The pretensions of this piece, however, as
a work of art, are comparatively humble; and it seems fair to admit, that
in the higher and more important elements of dramatic composition, and
especially in the delicate, and at the same time powerful delineation of
character and passion, the Spanish critics may be justified in regarding
the "Celestina" as having led the way in modern Europe. [37]

Without deciding on its proper classification as a work of art, however,
its real merits are settled by its wide popularity, both at home and
abroad. It has been translated into most of the European languages, and
the preface to the last edition, published in Madrid, so recently as 1822,
enumerates thirty editions of it in Spain alone, in the course of the
sixteenth century. Impressions were multiplied in Italy, and at the very
time when it was interdicted at home on the score of its immoral tendency.
A popularity thus extending through distant ages and nations, shows how
faithfully it is built on the principles of human nature. [38]

The drama assumed the pastoral form, in its early stages, in Spain, as in
Italy. The oldest specimens in this way, which have come down to us, are
the productions of Juan de la Encina, a contemporary of Roxas. He was born
in 1469, and, after completing his education at Salamanca, was received
into the family of the duke of Alva. He continued there several years,
employed in the composition of various poetical works, among others, a
version of Virgil's Eclogues, which he so altered as to accommodate them
to the principal events in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. He visited
Italy in the beginning of the following century, and was attracted by the
munificent patronage of Leo the Tenth to fix his residence at the papal
court. While there, he continued his literary labors. He embraced the
ecclesiastical profession; and his skill in music recommended him to the
office of principal director of the pontifical chapel. He was subsequently
presented with the priory of Leon, and returned to Spain, where he died in
1534. [39]

Encina's works first appeared at Salamanca, in 1496, collected into one
volume, folio. [40] Besides other poetry, they comprehend a number of
dramatic eclogues, sacred and profane; the former, suggested by topics
drawn from Scripture, like the ancient mysteries; the latter, chiefly
amatory. They were performed in the palace of his patron, the duke of
Alva, in the presence of Prince John, the duke of Infantado, and other
eminent persons of the court; and the poet himself occasionally assisted
at the representation. [41]

Encina's eclogues are simple compositions, with little pretence to
dramatic artifice. The story is too meagre to admit of much ingenuity or
contrivance, or to excite any depth of interest. There are few
interlocutors, seldom more than three or four, although on one occasion
rising to as many as seven; of course, there is little scope for
theatrical action. The characters are of the humble class belonging to
pastoral life, and the dialogue, which is extremely appropriate, is
conducted with facility; but the rustic condition of the speakers
precludes anything like literary elegance or finish, in which respect they
are doubtless surpassed by some of his more ambitious compositions. There
is a comic air imparted to them, however, and a lively colloquial turn,
which renders them very agreeable. Still, whatever be their merit as
pastorals, they are entitled to little consideration as specimens of
dramatic art; and, in the vital spirit of dramatic composition, must be
regarded as far inferior to the "Celestina." The simplicity of these
productions, and the facility of their exhibition, which required little
theatrical decoration or costume, recommended them to popular imitation,
which continued long after the regular forms of the drama were introduced
into Spain. [42]

The credit of this introduction belongs to Bartholomeo Torres de Naharro,
often confounded by the Castilian writers themselves with a player of the
same name, who flourished half a century later. [43] Few particulars have
been ascertained of his personal history. He was born at Torre, in the
province of Estremadura. In the early part of his life he fell into the
hands of the Algerines, and was finally released from captivity by the
exertions of certain benevolent Italians, who generously paid his ransom.
He then established his residence in Italy, at the court of Leo the Tenth.
Under the genial influence of that patronage, which quickened so many of
the seeds of genius to production in every department, he composed his
"Propaladia," a work embracing a variety of lyrical and dramatic poetry,
first published at Rome, in 1517. Unfortunately, the caustic satire,
levelled in some of the higher pieces of this collection at the license of
the pontifical court, brought such obloquy on the head of the author as
compelled him to take refuge in Naples, where he remained under the
protection of the noble family of Colonna. No further particulars are
recorded of him except that he embraced the ecclesiastical profession; and
the time and place of his death are alike uncertain. In person he is said
to have been comely, with an amiable disposition, and sedate and dignified
demeanor. [44]

His "Propaladia," first published at Rome, passed through several editions
subsequently in Spain, where it was alternately prohibited, or permitted,
according to the caprice of the Holy Office. It contains, among other
things, eight comedies, written in the native _redondillas_; which
continue to be regarded as the suitable measure for the drama. They afford
the earliest example of the division into _jornadas_, or days, and of
the _intróito_, or prologue, in which the author, after propitiating
the audience by suitable compliment, and witticisms not over delicate,
gives a view of the length and general scope of his play. [45]

The scenes of Naharro's comedies, with a single exception, are laid in
Spain and Italy; those in the latter country probably being selected with
reference to the audiences before whom they were acted. The diction is
easy and correct, without much affectation of refinement or rhetorical
ornament. The dialogue, especially in the lower parts, is sustained with
much comic vivacity; indeed, Naharro seems to have had a nicer perception
of character as it is found in lower life, than as it exists in the
higher; and more than one of his plays are devoted exclusively to its
illustration. On some occasions, however, the author assumes a more
elevated tone, and his verse rises to a degree of poetic beauty, deepened
by the moral reflection so characteristic of the Spaniards. At other
times, his pieces are disfigured by such a Babel-like confusion of
tongues, as makes it doubtful which may be the poet's vernacular. French,
Spanish, Italian, with a variety of barbarous _patois_, and mongrel
Latin, are all brought into play at the same time, and all comprehended,
apparently with equal facility, by each one of the _dramatis personae_.
But it is difficult to conceive how such a jargon could have been
comprehended, far more relished, by an Italian audience. [46]

Naharro's comedies are not much to be commended for the intrigue, which
generally excites but a languid interest, and shows little power or
adroitness in the contrivance. With every defect, however, they must be
allowed to have given the first forms to Spanish comedy, and to exhibit
many of the features which continued to be characteristic of it in a state
of more perfect development under Lope de Vega and Calderon. Such, for
instance, is the amorous jealousy, and especially the point of honor, so
conspicuous on the Spanish theatre; and such, too, the moral confusion too
often produced by blending the foulest crimes with zeal for religion. [47]

These comedies, moreover, far from blind conformity with the ancients,
discovered much of the spirit of independence, and deviated into many of
the eccentricities which distinguish the national theatre in later times;
and which the criticism of our own day has so successfully explained and
defended on philosophical principles.

Naharro's plays were represented, as appears from his prologue, in Italy,
probably not at Rome, which he quitted soon after their publication, but
at Naples, which, then forming a part of the Spanish dominions, might more
easily furnish an audience capable of comprehending them. [48] It is
remarkable that, notwithstanding their repeated editions in Spain, they do
not appear to have ever been performed there. The cause of this, probably,
was the low state of the histrionic art, and the total deficiency in
theatrical costume and decoration; yet it was not easy to dispense with
these in the representation of pieces, which brought more than a score of
persons occasionally, and these crowned heads, at the same time, upon the
stage. [49]

Some conception may be afforded of the lamentable poverty of the
theatrical equipment, from the account given of its condition, half a
century later, by Cervantes. "The whole wardrobe of a manager of the
theatre, at that time," says he, "was contained in a single sack, and
amounted only to four dresses of white fur trimmed, with gilt leather,
four beards, four wigs, and four crooks, more or less. There were no
trapdoors, movable clouds, or machinery of any kind. The stage itself
consisted only of four or six planks, placed across as many benches,
arranged in the form of a square, and elevated but four palms from the
ground. The only decoration of the theatre was an old coverlet, drawn from
side to side by cords, behind which the musicians sang some ancient
_romance_, without the guitar." [50] In fact, no further apparatus
was employed than that demanded for the exhibition of mysteries, or the
pastoral dialogues which succeeded them. The Spaniards, notwithstanding
their precocity, compared with most of the nations of Europe, in dramatic
art, were unaccountably tardy in all its histrionic accompaniments. The
public remained content with such poor mummeries, as could be got up by
strolling players and mountebanks. There was no fixed theatre in Madrid
until the latter part of the sixteenth century; and that consisted of a
courtyard, with only a roof to shelter it, while the spectators sat on
benches ranged around, or at the windows of the surrounding houses. [51]

A similar impulse with that experienced by comic writing, was given to
tragedy. The first that entered on this department were professed
scholars, who adopted the error of the Italian dramatists, in fashioning
their pieces servilely after the antique, instead of seizing the
expression of their own age. The most conspicuous attempts in this way
were made by Fernan Perez de Oliva. [52] He was born at Cordova, in 1494,
and, after many years passed in the various schools of Spain, France, and
Italy, returned to his native land, and became a lecturer in the
university of Salamanca. He instructed in moral philosophy and
mathematics, and established the highest reputation for his critical
acquaintance with the ancient languages and his own. He died young, at the
age of thirty-nine, deeply lamented for his moral, no less than for his
intellectual worth. [53]

His various works were published by the learned Morales, his nephew, some
fifty years after his death. Among them are translations in prose of the
Electra of Sophocles, and the Hecuba of Euripides. They may with more
propriety be termed imitations, and those too of the freest kind. Although
they conform, in the general arrangement and progress of the story, to
their originals, yet characters, nay whole scenes and dialogues, are
occasionally omitted; and in those retained, it is not always easy to
recognize the hand of the Grecian artist, whose modest beauties are thrown
into shade by the ambitious ones of his imitator. [54] But with all this,
Oliva's tragedies must be admitted to be executed, on the whole, with
vigor; and the diction, notwithstanding the national tendency to
exaggeration above alluded to, may be generally commended for decorum and
an imposing dignity, quite worthy of the tragic drama; indeed, they may be
selected as affording probably the best specimen of the progress of prose
composition during the present reign. [55]

Oliva's reputation led to a similar imitation of the antique. But the
Spaniards were too national in all their tastes to sanction it. These
classical compositions did not obtain possession of the stage, but were
confined to the closet, serving only as a relaxation for the man of
letters; while the voice of the people compelled all who courted it, to
accommodate their inventions to those romantic forms, which were
subsequently developed in such variety of beauty by the great Spanish
dramatists. [56]

We have now surveyed the different kinds of poetic culture familiar to
Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella. Their most conspicuous element is the
national spirit which pervades them, and the exclusive attachment which
they manifest to the primitive forms of versification peculiar to the
Peninsula. The most remarkable portion of this body of poetry may
doubtless be considered the Spanish _romances_, or ballads; that
popular minstrelsy, which, commemorating the picturesque and chivalrous
incidents of the age, reflects most faithfully the romantic genius of the
people who gave it utterance. The lyric efforts of the period were less
successful. There were few elaborate attempts in this field, indeed, by
men of decided genius. But the great obstacle may be found in the
imperfection of the language and the deficiency of the more exact and
finished metrical forms, indispensable to high poetic execution.

The whole period, however, comprehending, as it does, the first decided
approaches to a regular drama, may be regarded as very important in a
literary aspect; since it exhibits the indigenous peculiarities of
Castilian literature in all their freshness, and shows to what a degree of
excellence it could attain, while untouched by any foreign influence. The
present reign may be regarded as the epoch which divides the ancient from
the modern school of Spanish poetry; in which the language was slowly but
steadily undergoing the process of refinement, that "made the knowledge of
it," to borrow the words of a contemporary critic, "pass for an elegant
accomplishment, even with the cavaliers and dames of cultivated Italy;"
[57] and which finally gave full scope to the poetic talent, that raised
the literature of the country to such brilliant heights in the sixteenth

* * * * *

I have had occasion to advert more than once in the course of this chapter
to the superficial acquaintance of the Spanish critics with the early
history of their own drama, authentic materials for which are so extremely
rare and difficult of access, as to preclude the expectation of anything
like a satisfactory account of it out of the Peninsula. The nearest
approach to this within my knowledge is made in an article in the eighth
number of the American Quarterly Review, ascribed to Mr. Ticknor, late
Professor of Modern Literature in Harvard University. This gentleman,
during a residence in the Peninsula, had every facility for replenishing
his library with the most curious and valuable works, both printed and
manuscript, in this department; and his essay embodies in a brief compass
the results of a well-directed industry, which he has expanded in greater
detail in his lectures on Spanish literature, delivered before the classes
of the University. The subject is discussed with his usual elegance and
perspicuity of style; and the foreign, and indeed Castilian scholar, may
find much novel information there, in the views presented of the early
progress of the dramatic and the histrionic art in the Peninsula.

Since the publication of this article, Moratin's treatise, so long and
anxiously expected, "Orígenes del Teatro Español," has made its appearance
under the auspices of the Royal Academy of History, which has enriched the
national literature with so many admirable editions of its ancient
authors. Moratin states in his Preface, that he was employed from his
earliest youth in collecting notices, both at home and abroad, of whatever
might illustrate the origin of the Spanish drama. The results have been
two volumes, containing in the First Part an historical discussion, with
ample explanatory notes, and a catalogue of dramatic pieces from the
earliest epoch down to the time of Lope de Vega, chronologically arranged,
and accompanied with critical analyses, and copious illustrative extracts
from pieces of the greatest merit. The Second Part is devoted to the
publication of entire pieces of various authors, which from their extreme
rarity, or their existence only in manuscript, have had but little
circulation. The selections throughout are made with that careful
discrimination, which resulted from poetic talent combined with extensive
and thorough erudition. The criticisms, although sometimes warped by the
peculiar dramatic principles of the author, are conducted in general with
great fairness; and ample, but not extravagant, commendation is bestowed
on productions, whose merit, to be properly appreciated, must be weighed
by one conversant with the character and intellectual culture of the
period. The work unfortunately did not receive the last touches of its
author, and undoubtedly something may be found wanting to the full
completion of his design. On the whole, it must be considered as a rich
repertory of old Castilian literature, much of it of the most rare and
recondite nature, directed to the illustration of a department, that has
hitherto been suffered to languish in the lowest obscurity, but which is
now so arranged that it may be contemplated, as it were, under one aspect,
and its real merits accurately determined.

It was not till some time after the publication of this History, that my
attention was called to that portion of the writings of Don Martinez de la
Rosa, in which he criticizes the various departments of the national
literature. This criticism is embodied in the annotations and appendix to
his elegant "Poetica" (Obras Literarias, (Paris, 1827,) tom. i. ii.) The
former discuss the general laws, by which the various kinds of poetry are
to be regulated; the latter presents a very searching and scientific
analysis of the principal productions of the Spanish poets, down to the
close of the last century. The critic exemplifies his own views by copious
extracts from the subjects of his criticism, and throws much collateral
light on the argument by illustrations borrowed from foreign literature.
In the examination of the Spanish drama, especially comedy, which he
modestly qualifies as a "succinct notice, not very exact," he is very
elaborate; and discovers the same taste and sagacity in estimating the
merits of individual writers, which he had shown in discussing the general
principles of the art. Had I read his work sooner, it would have greatly
facilitated my own inquiries in the same obscure path; and I should have
recognized, at least, one brilliant exception to my sweeping remark on the
apathy manifested by the Castilian scholars to the antiquities of the
national drama.


[1] Eichhorn, Geschichte der Kultur und Litteratur der Neueren Europa,
(Göttingen, 1796-1811,) pp. 129, 130.--See also the conclusion of the
Introduction, Sec. 2, of this History.

[2] Nic. Antonio seems unwilling to relinquish the pretensions of his own
nation to the authorship of this romance. (See Bibliotheca Nova, tom. ii.
p. 394.) Later critics, and among them Lampillas, (Ensayo Historico-
Apologético de la Literatura Española, (Madrid, 1789,) tom. v. p. 168,)
who resigns no more than he is compelled to do, are less disposed to
contest the claims of the Portuguese. Mr. Southey has cited two documents,
one historical, the other poetical, which seem to place its composition by
Lobeira in the latter part of the fourteenth century beyond any reasonable
doubt. (See Amadis of Gaul, pref.,--also Sarmiento, Memorias para la
Historia de la Poesía y Poetas Españoles, Obras Posthumas, (Madrid, 1775,)
tom. i. p. 239.) Bouterwek, and after him Sismondi, without adducing any
authority, have fixed the era of Lobeira's death at 1325. Dante, who died
but four years previous to that date, furnishes a negative argument, at
least, against this, since, in his notice of some doughty names of
chivalry then popular, he makes no allusion to Amadis, the best of all.
Inferno, cantos v., xxxi.

[3] The excellent old romance "Tirante the White," _Tirant lo Blanch_, was
printed at Valencia in 1490. (See Mendez, Typographia Española, tom. i.
pp. 72-75.) If, as Cervantes asserts, the "Amadis" was the first book of
chivalry printed in Spain, it must have been anterior to this date. This
is rendered probable by Montalvo's prologue to his edition at Saragossa,
in 1521, still preserved in the royal library at Madrid, where he alludes
to his former publication of it in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.
(Cervantes, Don Quixote, ed. Pellicer, Discurso Prelim.)

Mr. Dunlop, who has analyzed these romances with a patience that more will
be disposed to commend than imitate, has been led into the error of
supposing that the first edition of the "Amadis" was printed at Seville,
in 1526, from detached fragments appearing in the time of Ferdinand and
Isabella, and subsequently by Montalvo, at Salamanca, in 1547. See History
of Prose Fiction, vol. ii. chap. 10.

[4] The following is Montalvo's brief prologue to the introduction of the
first book. "Aqvi comiença el primero libro del esforçado et virtuoso
cauallero Amadis hijo del rey Perion de Gaula; y dela reyna Elisena: el
qual fue coregido y emendado por el honrado y virtuoso cauallero
Garciordoñes de Montalvo, regidor dela noble uilla de Medina del campo; et
corregiole delos antiguos originales que estauan corruptos, et compuestos
en antiguo estilo: por falta delos diferentes escriptores. Quitando muchas
palabras superfluas; et poniendo otras de mas polido y elegante estilo:
tocantes ala caualleria et actos della, animando los coraçones gentiles de
manzebos belicosos que con grandissimo affetto abrazan el arte dela
milicia corporal animando la immortal memoria del arte de caualleria no
menos honestissimo que glorioso." Amadis de Gaula, (Venecia, 1533,) fol.

[5] Nic. Antonio enumerates the editions of thirteen of this doughty
family of knights-errant. (Bibliotheca Nova, tom. ii. pp. 394, 395.) He
dismisses his notice with the reflection, somewhat more charitable than
that of Don Quixote's curate, that "he had felt little interest in
investigating these fables, yet was willing to admit, with others, that
their reading was not wholly useless."

Moratin has collected an appalling catalogue of _part_ of the books
of chivalry published in Spain at the close of the fifteenth and the
following century. The first on the list is the _Carcel de Amor_, por
Diego Hernandez de San Pedro, en Burgos, año de 1496. Obras, tom. i. pp.

[6] Cervantes, Don Quixote, tom. i. part. 1, cap. 6.

The curate's wrath is very emphatically expressed. "Pues vayan todos al
corral, dixo el Cura, que a trueco de quemar a la reyna Pintiquïniestra, y
al pastor Darinel y a sus eglogas, y a las endiabladas y revueltas razones
de su autor, quemara con ellos al padre que me engendro si andubiera en
figura de caballero andante." The author of the "Dialogo de las Lenguas"
chimes in with the same tone of criticism. "Los quales," he says, speaking
of books of chivalry, "de mas de ser mentirossissimos, son tal mal
compuestos, assi por dezir las mentiras tan desvergonçadas, como por tener
el estilo desbaraçado, que no ay buen estomago que lo pueda leer." Apud
Mayans y Siscar, Orígenes, tom. ii. p. 158.

[7] The labors of Bowles, Rios, Arrieta, Pellicer, and Navarrete would
seem to have left little to desire in regard to the illustration of
Cervantes. But the commentaries of Clemencin, published since this chapter
was written, in 1833, show how much yet remained to be supplied. They
afford the most copious illustrations, both literary and historical, of
his author, and exhibit that nice taste in verbal criticism, which is not
always joined with such extensive erudition. Unfortunately, the premature
death of Clemencin has left the work unfinished; but the fragment
completed, which reaches to the close of the First Part, is of sufficient
value permanently to associate the name of its author with that of the
greatest genius of his country.

[8] The fabliaux cannot fairly be considered as an exception to this.
These graceful little performances, the work of professed bards, who had
nothing further in view than the amusement of a listless audience, have
little claim to be considered as the expression of national feeling or
sentiment. The poetry of the south of France, more impassioned and lyrical
in its character, wears the stamp, not merely of patrician elegance, but
refined artifice, which must not be confounded with the natural flow of
popular minstrelsy.

[9] How far the achievements claimed for the Campeador are strictly true,
is little to the purpose. It is enough that they were received as true,
throughout the Peninsula, as far back as the twelfth, or, at latest, the
thirteenth century.

[10] One exception, among others, readily occurs in the pathetic old
ballad of the Conde Alarcos, whose woful catastrophe, with the unresisting
suffering of the countess, suggests many points of coincidence with the
English minstrelsy. The English reader will find a version of it in the
"Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain," from the pen of Mr. Bowring, to
whom the literary world is so largely indebted for an acquaintance with
the popular minstrelsy of Europe.

[11] I have already noticed the insufficiency of the _romances_ to
authentic history, Part I. Chap. 8, Note 30. My conclusions there have
been confirmed by Mr. Irving, (whose researches have led him in a similar
direction,) in his "Alhambra," published nearly a year after the above
note was written.

The great source of the popular misconceptions respecting the domestic
history of Granada is Gines Perez de Hyta, whose work, under the title of
"Historia de los Vandos de los Zegries y Abencerrages, Cavalleros Moros de
Granada, y las Guerras Civiles que huvo en ella," was published at Alcalá
in 1604. This romance, written in prose, embodied many of the old Moorish
ballads in it, whose singular beauty, combined with the romantic and
picturesque character of the work itself, soon made it extremely popular,
until at length it seems to have acquired a degree of the historical
credit claimed for it by its author as a translation from an Arabian
chronicle; a credit which has stood it in good stead with the tribe of
travel-mongers and _raconteurs_, persons always of easy faith, who
have propagated its fables far and wide. Their credulity, however, may be
pardoned in what has imposed on the perspicacity of so cautions an
historian as Müller. Allgemeine Geschichte, (1817,) band ii. p. 504.

[12] Thus, in one of their _romances_, we have a Moorish lady "shedding
drops of liquid silver, and scattering her hair of Arabian gold" over the
corpse of her murdered husband!

"Sobre el cuerpo de Albencayde
Destila liquida plata,
Y convertida en cabellos
Esparce el oro de Arabia."

Can anything be more Oriental than this imagery? In another we have "an
hour of years of impatient hopes;" a passionate sally, that can scarcely
be outmatched by Scriblerus. This taint of exaggeration, however, so far
from being peculiar to the popular minstrelsy, has found its way, probably
through this channel in part, into most of the poetry of the Peninsula.

[13] The _redondilla_ may be considered as the basis of Spanish
versification. It is of great antiquity, and compositions in it are still
extant, as old as the time of the infante Don Manuel, at the close of the
thirteenth century. (See Cancionero General, fol. 207.) The redondilla
admits of great variety; but in the romances it is most frequently found
to consist of eight syllables, the last foot, and some or all of the
preceding, as the case may be, being trochees. (Rengifo, Arte Poetica
Espanola, (Barcelona, 1727,) cap. 9, 44.) Critics have derived this
delightful measure from various sources. Sarmiento traces it to the
hexameter of the ancient Romans, which may be bisected into something
analogous to the redondillas. (Memorias, pp. 168-171.) Bouterwek thinks it
may have been suggested by the songs of the Roman soldiery. (Geschichte
der Poesie und Beredsamkeit, band iii., Einleitung, p. 20.)--Velazquez
borrows it from the rhyming hexameters of the Spanish Latin poets, of
which he gives specimens of the beginning of the fourteenth century.
(Poesía Castellana, pp. 77, 78.) Later critics refer its derivation to the
Arabic. Conde has given a translation of certain Spanish-Arabian poems, in
the measure of the original, from which it is evident, that the hemistich
of an Arabian verse corresponds perfectly with the redondilla. (See his
Dominacion de los Arabes, passim.) The same author, in a treatise, which
he never published, on the "poesía oriental," shows more precisely the
intimate affinity subsisting between the metrical form of the Arabian and
the old Castilian verse. The reader will find an analysis of his
manuscript in Part I. Chap. 8, Note 49, of this History.

This theory is rendered the more plausible by the influence which the
Arabic has exercised on Castilian versification in other respects, as in
the prolonged repetition of the rhyme, for example, which is wholly
borrowed from the Spanish Arabs; whose superior cultivation naturally
affected the unformed literature of their neighbors, and through no
channel more obviously than its popular minstrelsy.

[14] The _asonante_ is a rhyme made by uniformity of the vowels, without
reference to the consonants; the regular rhyme, which obtains in other
European literatures, is distinguished in Spain by the term _consonante_.
Thus the four following words, taken at random from a Spanish ballad, are
consecutive _asonantes_; _regozijo_, _pellico_, _luzido_, _amarillo_. In
this example, the two last syllables have the assonance; although this is
not invariable, it sometimes falling on the antepenultima and the final
syllable. (See Rengifo, Arte Poética Española, pp. 214, 215, 218.) There
is a wild, artless melody in the _asonante_, and a graceful movement
coming somewhere, as it does, betwixt regular rhyme and blank verse, which
would make its introduction very desirable, but not very feasible, in our
own language. An attempt of the kind has been made by a clever writer, in
the Retrospective Review. (Vol. iv. art. 2.) If it has failed, it is from
the impediments presented by the language, which has not nearly the same
amount of vowel terminations, nor of simple uniform vowel sounds, as the
Spanish; the double termination, however full of grace and beauty in the
Castilian, assumes, perhaps from the effect of association, rather a
doggerel air in the English.

[15] This may be still further inferred from the tenor of a humorous,
satirical old _romance_, in which the writer implores the justice of
Apollo on the heads of the swarm of traitor poets, who have deserted the
ancient themes of song, the Cids, the Laras, the Gonzalez, to celebrate
the Ganzuls and Abderrahmans and the fantastical fables of the Moors.

"Tanta Zayda y Adalifa,
tanta Draguta y Daraxa,
tanto Azarque y tanto Adulce,
tanto Gazul, y Abenamar,
tanto alquizer y marlota,
tanto almayzar, y almalafa,
tantas emprisas y plumas,
tantas cifras y medallas,
tanta roperia Mora.
Y en vanderillas y adargas,
tanto mote, y tantas motas
muera yo sino me cansan."

* * * * *

"Los Alfonsos, los Henricos,
los Sanchos, y los de Lara,
que es dellos, y que es del Cid?
tanto olvido en glorias tantas?
ninguna pluma las buela,
ninguna Musa las canta?
Justicia, Apollo, justicia,
vengadores rayos lança
contra Poetas Moriscos."

Dr. Johnson's opinions are well known, in regard to this department of
English literature, which, by his ridiculous parodies, he succeeded for a
time in throwing into the shade, or, in the language of his admiring
biographer, made "perfectly contemptible."

Petrarch, with like pedantry, rested his hopes of fame on his Latin epic,
and gave away his lyrics, as alms to ballad-singers. Posterity, deciding
on surer principles of taste, has reversed both these decisions.

[16] "Algunos quieren que sean la cartilla de los Poetas; yo no lo siento
assi; antes bien los hallo capaces, no solo de exprimir y declarar
qualquier concepto con facil dulzura, pero de prosequir toda grave accion
de numeroso Poema. Y soy tan de veras Español, que por ser en nuestro
idioma natural este genero, no me puedo persuadir que no sea digno de toda
estimacion."(Coleccion de Obras Sueltas, (Madrid, 1776-9,) tom. iv. p.
176, Prólogo.) In another place he finely styles them "Iliads without a

[17] See, among others, the encomiastic and animated criticism of
Fernandez and Quintana. Fernandez, Poesías Escogidas, de Nuestros
Cancioneros y Romanceros Antiguos, (Madrid, 1796,) tom. xvi., Prólogo.--
Quintana, Poesías Selectas Castellanas, Introd. art. 4.

[18] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. ii. p. 10.--The Spanish
translators of Bouterwek have noticed the principal "collections and
earliest editions" of the _Romances_. This original edition of Sepulveda
has escaped their notice. See Literatura Española, pp. 217, 218.

[19] See Grimm, Depping, Herder, etc. This last poet has embraced a
selection of the Cid ballads, chronologically arranged, and translated
with eminent simplicity and spirit, if not with the scrupulous fidelity
usually aimed at by the Germans. See his Sämmtliche Werke, (Wien, 1813,)
band iii.

[20] Sarmiento, Memorias, pp. 242, 243.--Moratin considers that none have
come down to us, in their original costume, of an earlier date than John
II.'s reign, the first half of the fifteenth century. (Obras, tom. i. p.
84.) The Spanish translators of Bouterwek transcribe a _romance_,
relating to the Cid, from the fathers Berganza and Merino, purporting to
exhibit the primitive, uncorrupted diction of the thirteenth century.
Native critics are of course the only ones competent to questions of this
sort; but, to the less experienced eye of a foreigner, the style of this
ballad would seem to resemble much less that genuine specimen of the
versification of the preceding age, the poem of the Cid, than the
compositions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

[21] The principle of philosophical arrangement, if it may so be called,
is pursued still further in the latest Spanish publications of the
_romances_, where the Moorish minstrelsy is embodied in a separate
volume, and distributed with reference to its topics. This system is the
more practicable with this class of ballads, since it far exceeds in
number any other. See Duran, Romancero de Romances Moriscos.

The Romancero I have used is the ancient edition of Medina del Campo,
1602. It is divided into nine parts, though it is not easy to see on what
principle, since the productions of most opposite date and tenor are
brought into juxtaposition. The collection contains nearly a thousand
ballads, which, however, fall far short of the entire number preserved, as
may easily be seen by reference to other compilations. When to this is
added the consideration of the large number which insensibly glided into
oblivion without ever coming to the press, one may form a notion of the
immense mass of these humble lyrics, which floated among the common people
of Spain; and we shall be the less disposed to wonder at the proud and
chivalrous bearing that marks even the peasantry of a nation, which seems
to breathe the very air of romantic song.

[22] The title of this work was "Coplas de Vita Christi, de la Cena con la
Pasion, y de la Veronica con la Resurreccion de nuestro Redemtor. E las
siete Angustias e siete Gozos de nuestra Señora, con otras obras mucho
provechosas." It concludes with the following notice, "Fue la presente
obra emprentada en la insigne Ciudad de Zaragoza de Aragon por industria e
expensas de Paulo Hurus de Constancia aleman. A 27 dias de Noviembre,
1492." (Mendez, Typographia Española, pp. 134, 136.) It appears there were
two or three other cancioneros compiled, none of which, however, were
admitted to the honors of the press. (Bouterwek, Literatura Española,
nota.) The learned Castro, some fifty years since, published an analysis
with copious extracts from one of these made by Baena, the Jewish
physician of John II., a copy of which existed in the royal library of the
Escurial. Bibliotheca Española, tom. i. p. 265 et seq.

[23] Cancionero General, passim.--Moratin has given a list of the men of
rank who contributed to this miscellany; it contains the names of the
highest nobility of Spain. (Orig. del Teatro Español, Obras, tom. i. pp.
85, 86.) Castillo's Cancionero passed through several editions, the latest
of which appeared in 1573. See a catalogue, not entirely complete, of the
different Spanish Cancioneros in Bouterwek, Literatura Española, trad., p.

[24] Cancionero General, pp. 83-89.--Oviedo, Quincuagenas, MS.

[25] Cancionero General, pp. 158-161.--Some meagre information of this
person is given by Nic. Antonio, whose biographical notices may be often
charged with deficiency in chronological data; a circumstance perhaps
unavoidable from the obscurity of their subjects. Biblioteca Vetus, tom.
ii. lib. 10, cap. 6.

[26] There are probably more direct puns in Petrarch's lyrics alone, than
in all the Cancionero General. There is another kind of _niaiserie_,
however, to which the Spanish poets were much addicted, being the
transposition of the word in every variety of sense and combination; as,
for example,

"Acordad Vuestros olvidos
Y olvida vuestros acuerdos
Porque tales desacuerdos
Acuerden vuestros sentidos," etc.

Cancionero General, fol. 226.

It was such subtilties as these, _entricadas razones_, as Cervantes
calls them, that addled the brains of poor Don Quixote. Tom. i. cap. 1.

[27] Velasquez, Poesía Castellana, p. 122.--More than half a century
later, the learned Ambrosio Morales complained of the barrenness of the
Castilian, which he imputed to the too exclusive adoption of the Latin
upon all subjects of dignity and importance. Obras, tom. xiv. pp. 147,

[28] L. Marineo, speaking of this accomplished nobleman, styles him "virum
satis illustrem.--Eum enim poetam et philosophum natura formavit ac
peperit." He unfortunately fell in a skirmish, five years after his
father's death, in 1479. Mariana, Hist. de España, tom. ii. p. 531.

[29] An elaborate character of this Quixotic old cavalier may be found in
Pulgar, Claros Varones, tit. 13.

[30] "Don Jorge Manrique," says Lope de Vega, "cuyas coplas Castellanas
admiren los ingenios estrangeros y merecen estar escritas con letras de
oro." Obras Sueltas, tom. xii. Prólogo.

[31] Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique, ed. Madrid, 1779.--Diálogo de las
Lenguas, apud Mayans y Siscar, Orígenes, tom. ii. p. 149.--Manrique's
Coplas have also been the subject of a separate publication in the United
States. Professor Longfellow's version, accompanying it, is well
calculated to give the English reader a correct notion of the Castilian
bard, and, of course, a very exaggerated one of the literary culture of
the age.

[32] After proscribing certain profane mummeries, the law confines the
clergy to the representation of such subjects as "the birth of our
Saviour, in which is shown how the angels appeared, announcing his
nativity; also his advent, and the coming of the three Magi kings to
worship him; and his resurrection, showing his crucifixion and ascension
on the third day; and other such things leading men to do well and live
constant in the faith." (Siete Partidas, tit. 6, ley 34.) It is worth
noting, that similar abuses continued common among the ecclesiastics, down
to Isabella's reign, as may be inferred from a decree, very similar to the
law of the Partidas above cited, published by the council of Aranda, in
1473. (Apud Moratin, Obras, tom. i. p. 87.) Moratin considers it certain,
that the representation of the mysteries existed in Spain, as far back as
the eleventh century. The principal grounds for this conjecture appear to
be, the fact that such notorious abuses had crept into practice by the
middle of the thirteenth century, as to require the intervention of the
law. (Ibid., pp. 11, 13.) The circumstance would seem compatible with a
much more recent origin.

[33] Cervantes, Comedias y Entremeses, (Madrid, 1749,) tom. i. prólogo de
Nasarre.--Velazquez, Poesía Castellana, p. 86.--The fifth volume of the
Memoirs of the Spanish Royal Academy of History contains a dissertation on
the "national diversions," by Don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, replete
with curious erudition, and exhibiting the discriminating taste to have
been expected from its accomplished author. Among these antiquarian
researches, the writer has included a brief view of the first theatrical
attempts in Spain. See Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. v. Mem. 6.

[34] Moratin, Obras, tom. i. p. 115.--Nasarre (Cervantes, Comedias,
pról.), Jovellanos (Mem. de la Acad. de Hist., tom. v. Memor. 6), Pellicer
(Orígen y Progreso de la Comedia, (1804,) tom. i. p. 12), and others,
refer the authorship of this little piece, without hesitation, to Juan de
la Encina, although the year of its representation corresponds precisely
with that of his birth. The prevalence of so gross a blunder among the
Spanish scholars, shows how little the antiquities of their theatre were
studied before the time of Moratin.

[35] This little piece has been published at length by Moratin, in the
first volume of his works. (See Orígenes del Teatro Español, Obras, tom.
i. pp. 303-314.)

The celebrated marquis of Santillana's poetical dialogue, "Comedieta da
Ponza," has no pretensions to rank as a dramatic composition,
notwithstanding its title, which is indeed as little significant of its
real character, as the term "Commedia" is of Dante's epic. It is a
discourse on the vicissitudes of human life, suggested by a sea-fight near
Ponza, in 1435. It is conducted without any attempt at dramatic action or
character, or, indeed, dramatic development of any sort. The same remarks
may be made of the political satire, "Mingo Revulgo," which appeared in
Henry IV.'s reign. Dialogue was selected by these authors as a more
popular and spirited medium than direct narrative for conveying their
sentiments. The "Comedieta da Ponza" has never appeared in print; the copy
which I have used is a transcript from the one in the royal library at
Madrid, and belongs to Mr. George Ticknor.

[36] Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, (Alcalá, 1586,) Introd.--Nothing
is positively ascertained respecting the authorship of the first act of
the Celestina. Some impute it to Juan de Mena; others with more
probability to Rodrigo Cota el Tio, of Toledo, a person who, although
literally nothing is known of him, has in some way or other obtained the
credit of the authorship of some of the most popular effusions of the
fifteenth century; such, for example, as the Dialogue above cited of "Love
and an Old Man," the Coplas of "Mingo Revulgo," and this first act of the
"Celestina." The principal foundation of these imputations would appear to
be the bare assertion of an editor of the "Dialogue between Love and an
Old Man," which appeared at Medina del Campo, in 1569, nearly a century,
probably, after Cota's death; another example of the obscurity which
involves the history of the early Spanish drama. Many of the Castilian
critics detect a flavor of antiquity in the first act which should carry
back its composition as far as John II.'s reign. Moratin does not discern
this, however, and is inclined to refer its production to a date not much
more distant, if any, than Isabella's time. To the unpractised eye of a
foreigner, as far as style is concerned, the whole work might well seem
the production of the same period. Moratin, Obras, tom. i. pp. 88, 115,
116.--Diálogo de las Lenguas, apud Mayans y Siscar, Orígenes, pp. 165-
167.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. ii. p. 263.

[37] Such is the high encomium of the Abate Andres, (Letteratura, tom. v.
part. 2, lib. 1.)--Cervantes does not hesitate to call it "libro divino;"
and the acute author of the "Diálogo de las Lenguas" concludes a criticism
upon it with the remark, that "there is no book in the Castilian which
surpasses it in the propriety and elegance of its diction." (Don Quixote,
ed. de Pellicer, tom. i., p. 239.--Mayans y Siscar, tom. ii. p. 167.)

Its merits indeed seem in some degree to have disarmed even the severity
of foreign critics; and Signorelli, after standing up stoutly in defence
of the precedence of the "Orfeo" as a dramatic composition, admits the
"Celestina" to be a "work, rich in various beauties, and meriting
undoubted applause. In fact," he continues, "the vivacity of the
description of character, and faithful portraiture of manners, have made
it immortal." Storia Critica de' Teatri Antichi e Moderni, (Napoli, 1813,)
tom. vi. pp. 146, 147.

[38] Bouterwek, Literatura Española, notas de traductores, p. 234.--
Andres, Letteratura, tom. v. pp. 170, 171.--Lampillas, Letteratura
Spagnuola, tom. vi. pp. 57-59.

[39] Rojas, Viage Entretenido, (1614,) fol. 46.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca
Nova, tom. i. p. 684.--Moratin, Obras, tom. i. pp. 126, 127.--Pellicer,
Orígen de la Comedia, tom. i. pp. 11, 12.

[40] They were published under the title "Cancionero de todas las Obras de
Juan de la Encina con otras añadidas." (Mendez, Typographia Española, p.
247.) Subsequent impressions of his works, more or less complete, appeared
at Salamanca in 1509, and at Saragossa in 1512 and 1516.--Moratin, Obras,
tom. i. p. 127, nota.

[41] The comedian Rojas, who flourished in the beginning of the following
century, and whose "Viage Entretenido" is so essential to the knowledge of
the early histrionic art in Spain, identifies the appearance of Encina's
Eclogues with the dawn of the Castilian drama. His verses may be worth

"Que es en nuestra madre España,
porque en la dichosa era,
que aquellos gloriosos Reyes
dignos de memoria eterna
Don Fernando e Ysabel
(que ya con los santos reynan)
de echar de España acabavan
todos los Moriscos, que eran
De aquel Reyno de Granada,
y entonces se dava en ella
princípio a la Inquisicion,
se le dio a nuestra comedia.
Juan de la Encina el primero,
aquel insigne poeta,
que tanto bien empezo
de quien tenemos tres eglogas
Que el mismo represento
al Almirante y Duquessa
de Castilla, y de Infantado
que estas fueron las primeras
Y para mas honra suya,
y de la comedia nuestra,
en los dias que Colon
descubrio la gran riqueza
De Indias y nuevo mundo,
y el gran Capitan empieza,
a sugetar aquel Reyno
de Napoles, y su tierra.
A descubrirse empezo
el uso de la comedia
porque todos se animassen
a emprender cosas tan buenas."

Fol. 46, 47.

[42] Signorelli, correcting what he denominates the "romance" of
Lampillas, considers Encina to have composed only one pastoral drama, and
that, on occasion of Ferdinand's entrance into Castile. The critic should
have been more charitable, as he has made two blunders himself in
correcting one. Storia Critica de' Teatri, tom. iv. pp. 192, 193.

[43] Andres, confounding Torres de Naharro, the poet, with Naharro the
comedian, who flourished about half a century later, is led into a
ludicrous train of errors in controverting Cervantes, whose criticism of
the actor is perpetually misapplied by Andres to the poet. Velasquez seems
to have confounded them in like manner. Another evidence of the extremely
superficial acquaintance of the Spanish critics with their early drama.
Comp. Cervantes, Comedias y Entremeses, tom. i. prólogo.--Andres,
Letteratura, tom. v. p. 179.--Velazquez, Poesía Castellana, p. 88.

[44] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. p. 202.--Cervantes, Comedias,
tom. i. pról. de Nasarre.--Pellicer, Orígen de la Comedia, tom. ii. p.
17.--Moratin, Obras, tom. i. p. 48.

[45] Bartolomé Torres de Naharro, Propaladia, (Madrid, 1573.)--The
deficiency of the earlier Spanish books, of which Bouterwek repeatedly
complains, has led him into an error respecting the "Propaladia," which he
had never seen. He states that Naharro was the first to distribute the
play into three jornadas or acts, and takes Cervantes roundly to task for
assuming the original merit of this distribution to himself. In fact,
Naharro did introduce the division into _five_ jornadas, and Cervantes
assumes only the credit of having been the first to _reduce them to
three_. Comp. Bouterwek, Geschichte der Poesie und Beredsamkeit, band iii.
p. 285,--and Cervantes, Comedias, tom. i. pról.

[46] In the argument to the "Seraphina," he thus prepares the audience for
this colloquial _olla podrida_.

"Mas haveis de estar alerta
por sentir los personages
que hablan quatro lenguages,
hasta acabar su rehyerta
no salen de cuenta cierta
por Latin e Italiano
Castellano y Valenciano
que ninguno desconcierta."

Propaladia, p. 50.

[47] The following is an example of the precious reasoning with which
Floristan, in the play above quoted, reconciles his conscience to the
murder of his wife Orfea, in order to gratify the jealousy of his mistress
Seraphina. Floristan is addressing himself to a priest.

"Y por mas daño escusar
no lo quiero hora hazer,
sino que es menester,
que yo mate luego a Orfea
do Serafina lo vea
porque lo pueda creer.
Que yo bien me mataria,
pues toda razon me inclina;
pero se de Serafina
que se desesperaría.
y Orfea, pues que haria?
quando mi muerte supiesse;
que creo que no pudiesse
sostener la vida un dia.
Pues hablando aca entre nos
a Orfea cabe la suerte;
porque con su sola muerte
se escusaran otras dos:
de modo que padre vos
si llamar me la quereys,
a mi merced me hareys
y tambien servicio a dios.

* * * * *

porque si yo la matare
morira christianamente;
yo morire penitente,
quando mi suerte llegare."

Propaladia, fol. 68.

[48] Signorelli waxes exceedingly wroth with Don Blas Nasarre for the
assertion, that Naharro first taught the Italians to write comedy, taxing
him with downright mendacity; and he stoutly denies the probability of
Naharro's comedies ever having been performed on the Italian boards. The
critic seems to be in the right, as far as regards the influence of the
Spanish dramatist; but he might have been spared all doubts respecting
their representation in the country, had he consulted the prologue of
Naharro himself, where he asserts the fact in the most explicit manner.
Comp. Propaladia, pról., and Signorelli, Storia Critica de' Teatri, tom.
vi. pp. 171-179.--See also Moratin, Orígenes, Obras, tom. i. pp. 149, 150.

[49] Propaladia; see the comedies of "Trofea" and "Tinelaria."--
Jovellanos, Memoria sobre las Diversiones Públicas, apud Mem. de la Acad.
de Hist., tom. v.

[50] Cervantes, Comedias, tom. i. pról.

[51] Pellicer, Orígen de la Comedia, tom. ii. pp. 58-62.--See also
American Quarterly Review, no. viii. art. 3.

[52] Oliva, Obras, (Madrid, 1787.)--Vasco Diaz Tanco, a native of
Estremadura, who flourished in the first half of the sixteenth century,
mentions in one of his works three tragedies composed by himself on
Scripture subjects. As there is no evidence, however, of their having been
printed, or performed, or even read in manuscript by any one, they hardly
deserve to be included in the catalogue of dramatic compositions.
(Moratin, Obras, tom. i. pp. 150, 151.--Lampillas, Letteratura Spagnuola,
tom. v. dis. 1, sec. 5.) This patriotic _littérateur_ endeavors to
establish the production of Oliva's tragedies in the year 1515, in the
hope of antedating that of Trissino's "Sophonisba," composed a year later,
and thus securing to his nation the palm of precedence, in time at least,
though it should be only for a few months, on the tragic theatre of modern
Europe. Letteratura Spagnuola, ubi supra.

[53] Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Nova, tom. i. p. 386.--Oliva, Obras, pref.
de Morales.

[54] The following passage, for example, in the "Venganza de Agamemnon,"
imitated from the Electra of Sophocles, will hardly be charged on the
Greek dramatist.

"Habed, yo os ruego, de mi compassion, no querais atapar con vuestros
consejos los respiraderos de las hornazas de fuego, que dentro me
atormentan." See Oliva, Obras, p. 185.

[55] Compare the diction of these tragedies with that of the "Centon
Epistolario," for instance, esteemed one of the best literary compositions
of John II.'s reign, and see the advance made, not only in orthography,
but in the verbal arrangement generally, and the whole complexion of the

[56] Notwithstanding some Spanish critics, as Cueva, for example, have
vindicated the romantic forms of the drama on scientific principles, it is
apparent that the most successful writers in this department have been
constrained to adopt them by public opinion, rather than their own, which
would have suggested a nearer imitation of the classical models of
antiquity, so generally followed by the Italians, and which naturally
recommends itself to the scholar. See the canon's discourse in Cervantes,
Don Quixote, ed. de Pellicer, tom. iii. pp. 207-220,--and, more
explicitly, Lope de Vega, Obras Sueltas, tom. iv. p. 406.

[57] "Ya en Italia, assi entre Damas, como entre Caballeros, se tiene por
gentileza y galania, saber hablar Castellano." Diálogo de las Lenguas,
apud Mayans y Siscar, Orígenes, tom. ii. p. 4.







Europe at the Close of the Fifteenth Century.--More Intimate Relations
between States.--Italy the School of Politics.--Pretensions of Charles
VIII. to Naples.--Treaty of Barcelona.--The French Invade Naples.--
Ferdinand's Dissatisfaction.--Tactics and Arms of the Different Nations.--
Preparations of Spain.--Mission to Charles VIII.--Bold Conduct of the
Envoys.--The French enter Naples.

We have now reached that memorable epoch, when the different nations of
Europe, surmounting the barriers which had hitherto confined them within
their respective limits, brought their forces, as if by a simultaneous
impulse, against each other on a common theatre of action. In the
preceding part of this work, we have seen in what manner Spain was
prepared for the contest, by the concentration of her various states under
one government, and by such internal reforms, as enabled the government to
act with vigor. The genius of Ferdinand will appear as predominant in what
concerns the foreign relations of the country, as did that of Isabella in
its interior administration. So much so, indeed, that the accurate and
well-informed historian, who has most copiously illustrated this portion
of the national annals, does not even mention, in his introductory notice,
the name of Isabella, but refers the agency in these events exclusively to
her more ambitious consort. [1] In this he is abundantly justified, both
by the prevailing character of the policy pursued, widely differing from
that which distinguished the queen's measures, and by the circumstance
that the foreign conquests, although achieved by the united efforts of
both crowns, were undertaken on, behalf of Ferdinand's own dominions of
Aragon, to which in the end they exclusively appertained.

The close of the fifteenth century presents, on the whole, the most
striking point of view in modern history; one from which we may
contemplate the consummation of an important revolution in the structure
of political society, and the first application of several inventions
destined to exercise the widest influence on human civilization. The
feudal institutions, or rather the feudal principle, which operated even
where the institutions, strictly speaking, did not exist, after having
wrought its appointed uses, had gradually fallen into decay; for it had
not the power of accommodating itself to the increased demands and
improved condition of society. However well suited to a barbarous age, it
was found that the distribution of power among the members of an
independent aristocracy was unfavorable to that degree of personal
security and tranquillity indispensable to great proficiency in the higher
arts of civilization. It was equally repugnant to the principle of
patriotism, so essential to national independence, but which must have
operated feebly among a people whose sympathies, instead of being
concentrated on the state, were claimed by a hundred masters, as was the
case in every feudal community. The conviction of this reconciled the
nation to the transfer of authority into other hands; not those of the
people, indeed, who were too ignorant, and too long accustomed to a
subordinate, dependent situation, to admit of it,--but into the hands of
the sovereign. It was not until three centuries more had elapsed, that the
condition of the great mass of the people was to be so far improved, as to
qualify them for asserting and maintaining the political consideration
which of right belongs to them.

In whatever degree public opinion and the progress of events might favor
the transition of power from the aristocracy to the monarch, it is obvious
that much would depend on his personal character; since the advantages of
his station alone made him by no means a match for the combined forces of

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