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in the midst of her victories;-her character was entirely changed, and at the moment when this phenomenon occupied and alarmed all Europe, her literature, shone forth in its greatest brilliancy.
The power of Spain had already received, in the latter years of the fifteenth century, an increase sufficient to endanger the equilibrium of Europe. Alphonso V. of Aragon, after having conquered the kingdom of Naples, had, it is true, left it to his natural son, and Ferdinand the catholic recovered this kingdom by a signal perfidy, only in 1504. But Sicily, Sardinia, and the Balearian islands were already united to the crown of Aragon, and the marriage of Ferdinand with the queen of Castile, without confounding the two monarchies, gave this ambitious prince the disposal of the armies of all Spain, which he began very soon to use in Italy. The united armies of Ferdinand and Isabella wrested from the Moors the kingdom of Grenada, in 1492. The same year, Christopher Columbus discovered for the crown of Spain, those countries so extensive, so rich, so happily situated, where the Spaniards have found a new home, and whence they, for a long time, drew the treasure by means of which they flatiered themselves they would subdue the world.
In fine, in 1512, Ferdinand, as regent of Castile, conquered Navarre; and all that vast peninsula, except Portugal, was subjected to the same dominion. When, in 1516, Charles V. united to this great monarchy the rich and industrious provinces of the Low Countries, his patrimonial inheritance, and in 1519, the imperial authority with the succession of Maximilian in Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia,this power so new in Europe, so disproportionate to all those which had grown up since Charlemagne, was well fitted to turn the head of a youthful sovereign, and to inspire him with the project of founding a universal monarchy. The lustre of the victories which Charles V. gained, in pursuing this vast design, the respect or fear with which he inspired all the nations of Europe, the glory of the Spanish arms, which he conducted in triumph to Italy, France, Germany, to countries where the Castilian standards had never penetrated, were equally adapted to dazzle the nation and to inspire her with that enthusiasm for him whom she regarded as her hcro, which rendered her inattentive to the revolution in her laws and constitution.
But this ambitious dream of the king and people was alike injurious to both. Charles V. in the midst of his victories, and in spite of the extent of his states, was proportionally, both weaker and poorer than Ferdinand and Isabella his immediate predecessors had been. He was arrested in every one of his enterprizes, and deprived of the fruit which he had a right to expect from them, by the want of soldiers and money, wants which his predecessors never experienced. The contributions of Italy, Spain, Flanders, and Germany, joined to the treasures of the New World, did not prevent his troops from being constantly disbanded for the want of pay; the immense and continual levies which he made in all the states in subjection to him, did not secure him a superiority over his enemies in the open field; and however great were the acquisitions which he legally made by inheritance or by forfeiture * to the empire, he never added one pro
* Par incameration à l'Empire.
vince to his states by the right of conquest, but was, on the contrary, forced to contract his hereditary frontiers on the side of the Turks.
The Spanish nation, the only one of those in subjection to him which he could preserve from foreign invasion, suffered itself as early as the minority of Charles V. to be stripped of a part of its privileges, by cardinal Ximenes. Intoxicated with the victories of its king, it every day abandoned some new right. Those gallant knights who had always fought for the interests of their country alone, and waged war when and how they pleased, made it a point of honour to become the most devoted and obedient soldiers. Fighting incessantly for quarrels of which they knew nothing and in which they had no interest, they resolved all their duties into that of a severe discipline. In the midst of nations whose language they did not understand, and all of whom they held in equal contempt, they signalized themselves by an inflexible severity and a pitiless cruelty. The first of European soldiers, they were nothing but soldiers. Those Spanish bands, those terrible battalions of infantry, presented a front of iron to their enemies, a heart of steel to the unfortunate; it was these whom the prince always selected for a cruel enterprize, very certain that no sympathy would stay them in the execution of the most ri. gorous orders. They showed themselves ferocious in the wars against the protestanis of Germany; ferocious against the catholics, in the pillage of Rome. At the same period, the soldiers of Cortes and Pizarro manifested a cruelty in the New World which at this epoch was the opprobrium of Castilians, and of which, however, no trait had been remarked in all the history of Spain, prior to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. Cruelty seemed to have become a characteristic of the Spanish soldier, duplicity and Machiavelism that of the chiefs. The most illustrious men of this period are soiled by deeds of perfidy which cannot be paralleled. The great captain Gonsalvo of Cordova, the marquis of Pescairo, Alphonso d'Avalos, Anto. nio de Leva, and the most illustrious Castilians, made the breach of faith and the most sacred oaths, a sport; so many accusations of poisonings and assassinations are preferred against them, that even in suspending our belief on each of them, yet does their collected force imprint a deep stain on the memory of these pretended great men.
At the same time, the clergy had gained in power what morals had lost in efficacy; the Inquisition was established in Castile in 1478, by the united authority of Ferdinand and Isabella; it was immediately invested with extraordinary powers for the repression of the Moors, against whom, however, it had not been found necessary to employ such rigour even in the time of their greatness, and who had long ceased to be an object of fear. But Ferdinand, who was the most deceitful of kings, although his zeal for the Inquisition had gained him the name of catholic, took, in fact, no interest in religion. He had shown this warmth in favour of the Inquisition, because he regarded it as a powerful political engine with which he could intimidate the grandees and reduce the people to dependence. It required nearly a generation of men to accustom the Spaniard to the sanguinary proceedings of this tribunal, and to make fanatics of the people. This work of an infernal policy was scarcely accomplished when Charles V. began to reign. The frightful speciacle of the autos da fé, was
probably, what gave to the Spanish soldiery the ferocity so striking in all this period, and which was previously so foreign to the national character. The Jews, against whom the people nourished, at all times, a hatred founded on commercial jealousies, were the first victims devoted to the inquisition: they constituted an important part of the population, and were almost extirpated. The Moors were in their turn, given up to it; suffering drove them to revolt, and revoli drew on them new punishments; the ancient tie between the two nations was broken; a bitter hatred took its place, and the inquisition had no repose until after having burnt a part of the Moors, converted another portion, and ruined the greatest number, it prevailed on Philip III., in 1614, to drive from their homes six hundred thousand of these unfortunate people, the feeble remains of a nation at one time so numerous and so powerful. The inquisition at last, turned its re. doubtable attention to the Christians themselves; it took care that no error, no disagreement in matters of faith should be introduced into Spain; and at the epoch of the reformation, when every mind was solely occupied with religious controversies, it succeeded in preventing the establishment of any reformed community in Spain, by burning every innovator, as soon as he was discovered. By this terrible example, it diverted all the rest of the nation from every metaphysical idea, from all religious meditations and from every effort of the mind, which might lead to such dangers on this earth, and which were represented as exposing the soul to still more frightful punishment in the life to come.
Thus the reign of Charles V., in spite of all the glory which seems to be attached to it, was as disastrous for Spain as it was for Italy. The Spaniards lost at the same moment, their political and religious liberty; their private and public virtues, humanity and good faith; their commerce, population and agriculture; and in recompence for so many losses, they acquired the glory of camps, and the execration of the people, against whom they carried their arms. But, as we have remarked as to Italy, it is not at the moment when a nation loses all its political advantages, but at least fifty years after, that its elasticity of mind is broken, and its literature declines or perishes altogether. *
Just at the time when the native language of the Aragonese was abandoned for the Castilian, there appeared a man who, under the reign of Charles V., made a complete revolution in Castilian poetry. He was endowed with a grace and delicacy of style, and a richness of imagination, which enabled him to give examples of what he deemed a better taste.
This man was John Boscan Almogaver, born towards the end of the fifteenth century, of a patrician family of Barcelona. He had sery. ed in the armies in his youth, and had then travelled; but it was at his return to Grenada, in 1526, that his intimacy with André Navagéro, ambassador of Venice, to the emperor; a man celebrated both as a poet and historian, inspired him with the pure and classic taste which then predominated in Italy. His friend, Garcilaso de la Vega, associated himself with him in the project of effecting a reform in Spanish poetry. Both of them studied correctness and grace, despising ihe accusations of their adversaries, who reproached them with introducing among a valiant nation, the soft and cffeminate taste of
the vanquished. They undertook to overturn all the laws of Castilian versification, to introduce new ones, on a system directly opposite, and they succeeded.
Boscan, who was one of the instructors of the too famous duke d'Alva, finished his days in an agreeable retirement in the midst of his family and friends. He died about the year 1544. There is in his poetry a harmony of style, and an elegance of expression, which account for the esteem in which the Spaniards hold the first among their poets, whom they regard as classic.
The Spaniards give Mendoza, but the third place among their poets, atter Boscan and Garcilaso, * because in comparing him to the two latter, they find harshness in his poetry. Boutterwerk on the other hand, compares his epistles in verse, to those of Horace.
The grand reformation effected, by the example of the Italians, in Castilian poetry, was imitated by the Portuguese; and we must place in the first rank, in this new school, iwo of them, t Miranda and Montemayor.
Behold then, the men, who are with propriety called the classic poets of Spain; they, who under the brilliant reign of Charles V., and in the midst of the commotions which his ambitious policy excited in Evrope, changed the laws of Castilian versification, the national taste, and almost the language; who gave to poetry a more graceful, correct and elegant form, and who have served as models to all those who from that time, have pretended to classic poetry. Whilst Europe and America were deluged in blood by the Spaniards, Boscan, Garcilaso, Mendoza, and Montemayor,ß all of them soldiers, all engaged in these same wars, which were destined to shake all Christendom during a century, describe themselves as shepherds, wearing garlands of flowers, who watch, tremblingly, the favour of a look from their mistresses, who scarcely allow themselves to complain; who interdict to themselves even jealousy, because it is not sufficiently submissive. There is in all their poetry a Sybarite or Lydian softness, which we might with propriety look for among the Italians, made effeminate by servitude, but which is astonishing in men so masculine, the warriors of Charles V. * *
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, was born in poverty and obscurity, in 1549, at Alcala de Honarès; he took the title of Hidalgo or gentleman, but no account has been preserved either of his family, or early education. It is ascertained only, that he was sent to school at Ma. drid, where he acquired some knowledge of the classics. At the same time, he read with extreme avidity, all the poets and romance writers of Spain, and he attached, from his earliest youth, the greatest importance to the purity of the Castilian language, and to elegance of diction. He very soon wrote a quantity of verses, sonnets, romances, and a pastoral romance intitled Filena, but which has not been preserved. The absolute want of fortune determined him to travel, to seek abroad those resources which he could not find in his own country. He attached himself to the person of cardinal Aquaviva, who took him to Rome. The love of fame, and the activity of his mind, soon induced him to relinquish the almost servile duties which he had at first undertaken for that prelate. He entered the army
* Born about 1503, at Toledo. † Died 1575. | Died 1558. § Born about 1520. served under Marc-Antonio Colonna—and under Don Juan of Austria: he was in the battle of Lepanto, where he lost his left hand by a shot from an arquebuse. Obliged to abandon the profession of arms, in which it is probable he did not rise above the rank of a common soldier, he embarked to return to Spain; but the vessel was captured by a Barbary corsair, and taken into Algiers. He remained there five years and a half, in the most rigorous slavery; and was at last ransomed in 1581.
This man, who returned to his country maimed, ruined, without protection, without hopes, and without resources, found still in the force of his mind, enough of gaiety and fire of imagination, to secure for himself a livelihood and a reputation by the dramatic art, and to compose comedies and tragedies, which were received by the public with great applause. It was in 1584, when he was, of course, thirtyfive years old, that he published his Galatea; about the same time, he furnished to the theatre at least thirty comedies, which have not been preserved. The rivalship of Lopes de Vega, who, about this time, obtained prodigious success, caused him some humiliation, and induced him to lay down his pen; he married, and it is probable he then lived on the portion of his wife. It appears that he obtained at Seville a small employment, which barely kept him above want, as long as Philip II. lived. The death of this monarch in 1598, restored some elasticity to those geniuses who felt themselves overpowered by his sinister reign. Cervantes who had abstained from publishing any thing, during twenty-one years, gave to the public, in 1605, the first part of his Don Quixotte. The success of this book was unprecedented; thirty thousand copies of it were sold as we are assured, during the lifetime of the author: it was translated into every language, and was applauded by all classes of society. The king himself, Philip III. seeing from his balcony, a scholar on the banks of the Mançanarès, who was interrupted in the perusal of a book by continued bursts of laughter, said to his courtiers,—that man is either mad, or he is reading Don Quixotte. However, neither Philip III., nor any of the lords of his court, ever thought of granting a pension or any other aid of that sort, to this author, the glory of Spain, who was then living in poverty, and who wrote this book, seasoned with so much comic wit, in the prison where he was confined for debt.
One of his cotemporaries, concealing himself under the name of Arelloneda, undertook to continue Don Quixotte, and published, in 1614, at Saragossa, a continuation of this romance, very inferior to the original. Cervantes felt the greatest indignation at this literary fraud; and he issued in his turn, in 1615, a second volume of Don Quixotte, in which he several times turns into_ridicule the Arago. nese continuation of his history, and introduces Don Quixotte himself complaining of the wretched impostures which had been circulated concerning him. He had already, in 1513, published his twelve novels,-in 1614, his Journey to Parnassus-in 1615, eight comedies, and eight interludes, which he sold at a low price to a bookseller, not being able to have them received at the theatre. He laboured a long time, at a romance intilled by him, the Labours of Persilius and Si. gismond; but he had scarcely accomplished it when he died; and this work was published only after his death, in 1617, by his widow, Catherine de Salazon. The preface, which the author wrote when he