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ART. III. Extractos em Portuguez e em Inglez; com as Palavras Portuguezas propriamente accentuadas, para facilitar o Estudo d'aquella Lingoa. 12mo. pp. 324. London, Wingrave. 1808.

[pp. 268-292] [original article in PDF format]

  1. THIS volume contains the six first books of Telemachus, and the episodes of Marcella and El Curioso Impertinente from Don Quixote. The publication of a collection which does not contain a single extract from an original Portugueze work may be considered as proof that there is a demand for books in that language which the English booksellers and compilers are ill able to supply. Our political and commercial relations with the Portugueze are likely to become more extensive and important than they have ever been heretofore: many persons must necessarily be desirous of obtaining some information respecting their literature, and we therefore take this opportunity of offering a general sketch of the subject, sufficient to explain what there is in the language, and what there is not. The limits of a Review will admit of nothing more, and this may be found useful in directing or in satisfying curiosity.

  2. They who conceive Portugueze to be a corrupt dialect of the Castillian are mistaken. Like the Attic and Ionic branches of the Greek, they are two boughs of equal extent and beauty, proceeding from one trunk. It was said by a man of genius that Spanish is just such a language as he should have expected to hear spoken by a Roman slave, sulky from the bastinado. The natives of Portugal, in a more complimentary similitude, love to speak of their language as the eldest daughter of the Latin: this daughter of Rome has been the servant of the Goths and of the Moors; still however the mother [268] tongue predominates more in Portugal than in any other part of the world. The Portugueze has about the same proportion of Arabick as the Castillian, but it has escaped all guttural sounds: how these have been introduced into the Castillian would form a curious inquiry, for they certainly did not exist in the first age of Spanish literature. The longer and more intimate connection between the Castillians and Moors, is a cause more obvious than satisfactory; for though the Portugueze cleared their country of the Moors at an early period, yet their after intercourse with them in Africa and in the East was very extensive, and they enriched their vocabulary without injuring the euphony of their speech. There is nothing in their language which is in the slightest degree unpleasant to an English ear, except a nasal sound less strongly marked, and far less disagreeable, than that which so frequently recurs in French.

  3. Antonio das Neves Pereira divides the history of Portugueze literature into three ages; the first comprizes four centuries, from the foundation of the monarchy to the reign of Affonso V.; the second comes down to the fall of Sebastian, and the third continues from thence to the present day. The first of these divisions is objectionable; it is as if we were to say the first period of English literature consists of the time anterior to Chaucer, and the second began with him and ended with the Elizabethan age; an arrangement which makes the latter too full, and leaves little or nothing for the former. It is true, that the first period would include Amadis of Gaul; but the original of that matchless romance was never printed, and the only manuscript then known to exist was in the Duke de Aveiro's library, which was destroyed by fire after the great earthquake at Lisbon. This having perished, there remains nothing anterior to the fifteenth century, except a few documents for history and a few verses. The poems of King Diniz are said to be still preserved; but though the Portugueze archives were well kept of late years, they had been long neglected. At Lisbon it was believed that these poems were at Thomar, and at Thomar we were referred for them back again to Lisbon.

  4. The earliest accessible poems in the language are those which are contained in the Cancioneiro of Resende; a large collection written chiefly by persons about the courts of Affonso V. and his son, but comprizing a few of earlier date, and some which were written by King Pedro, famous for his unfortunate amours with Iñes de Castro. There is a singular anecdote concerning this volume; the first treaty between the King of Pegu and any European power was sworn upon the Cancioneiro instead of the Bible, or Breviary: the Breviary which was on board the ambassador's [269] ship was old and greasy; he happened to have a copy of the Cancioneiro, then newly published, and this, because it was well bound and of respectable size and appearance, he made the chaplain produce with all due formalities, that the heathen might not judge meanly of the respect they paid to religion. The chief kaulin, or kahan, having read aloud a portion of one of the books of his law, Joam Correa, the ambassador, did the same; he opened upon a paraphrase of Solomon's text, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity; this accident brought with it a religious feeling, and he protested, on his return home, that he had sworn as devoutly, and considered his oath to be as binding, as if it had been taken upon the Gospels.—This book is one of the rarest in the language. Many passages have been carefully obliterated by the Inquisition, but their ink is luckily less durable than that of the printer, and heretical eyes may often succeed in making out the parts to which they are thus invited. Some of these merely exhibit the grossness of the times; others exemplify a sort of profaneness which is more characteristic and more curious, and which certainly did not originate in any want of devotion. There is a remarkable instance in a poem addressed to Queen Isabel of Castille; it is written upon the conceit that had she been living in the days of the Virgin Mary, Christ would have chosen her in preference to be his mother. The volume contains nothing narrative, it consists of satirical verses, complimentary ones, love poems, lamentations, &c. So much is to be gleaned from it respecting what may be called the domestic and intellectual history of its age, that its re-publication would be one of the greatest benefits which could be conferred upon the literature of Portugal. There is a copy in the king's library: it is the rarest of a very rare and valuable collection presented to him some years ago by the Portugueze ambassador.

  5. The poetry of every country is elder than its prose, and having therefore begun with it, it will be convenient to continue the subject in one unbroken sketch. The popular ballads of the Portugueze have perished. Brito had seen a large collection of them, belonging to the Marquis de Marialva, about the middle of the sixteenth century; but it fell into bad hands, and a single fragment which he recollected, and which has lately been published in the notes to the Chronicle of the Cid, is probably all that has been preserved of this important manuscript. Whether a Scott or a Finlay, if Portugal were to produce such antiquaries, could yet recover any considerable remains of this kind, is very doubtful. The Spaniards abound with these poems; by far the greater number relate to their wars with the Moors. These are [270] almost wholly of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, and at that time, which is the age of ballad poetry in Spain, the Portugueze had so long been rid of the Moors, that the peasantry thought no more of them as connected with their own country, than we do of the Picts or Danes. To this subject therefore they had no inducement; the heroes whom they would naturally celebrate would be those who had distinguished themselves in their wars against the Castillians,—wars which were yet fresh in remembrance;—but this was a theme not to be touched upon by the poets of a country which was then subject to Castille. These historical circumstance explain why no ballads were produced in Portugal at a time when they were the favourite species of composition in Spain; and what pieces of greater antiquity existed, have probably been weeded out of remembrance by the persevering warfare which bigotry has carried on against popular songs. There is another circumstance which must have contributed to their destruction. The Portugueze like the Italian is over-run with rhymes, and languages which abound with rhymes always abound with rhymers; hence the improvisatore has supplanted the ballad-singer,—a miserable exchange by which much has been lost, and nothing gained in its stead.

  6. The Spaniards acknowledge that they received the earliest fashion of their poetry from Galicia and Portugal; the present fashion of both countries is of Italian origin. Navagero the Venetian occasioned this revolution in their literature: During his embassy in Spain he persuaded Boscan to use the Italian modes of poetry in preference to the vernacular forms, and from that time the octave stanza became their heroic, the trinal-rhyme their moral or satirical measure, and sonnets swarmed as they have done in Italy. Boscan's example was followed in Portugal by Francisco de Sa de Miranda. Of this author, who was born in 1495, on the day of king Emanuel's accession, there are some interesting anecdotes recorded. A passage in one of his eclogues had given offence to a lady of high rank and influence; he would not explain away its meaning, and it was in vain to hope for preferment at court while her displeasure continued; he therefore contentedly retired to his paternal estate, and began a treaty of marriage with D. Briolanja de Azevedo, whom it appears he had never seen, and who had neither youth nor beauty to recommend her. Her brothers, with whom the negociation was carried on, were so sensible of this, that they would not let the settlement be concluded till he had seen her, and when the interview took place, Sa de Miranda addressed her in an odd [271] manner for such an occasion, saying, castigayme Senhora con esse bordam porque vim tam tarde,—punish me lady with this staff for having come so late. But he had chosen well; she was an excellent wife, mother, and mistress: her virtues were remembered with reverence in the neighbourhood for more than half a century after her decease, and Sa de Miranda never recovered her loss. He survived her three years in a state of melancholy little short of derangement; for from the hour in which she expired he never trimmed his beard nor pared his nails, never answered a letter, never went out of his house except to church, and never composed any thing except a sonnet upon her death.

  7. In some respects Sa de Miranda may be considered as the Surry of Portugueze poetry, but he had no predecessor greater than himself, he took more liberties with the language, and produced a more lasting effect upon it. He contributed to latinize it by introducing the regular superlative, and it is a curious proof of the unsettled state of the language at that time, and of the power of the poets, that such an innovation should have succeeded. His merit as an improver of his native tongue, none but the Portugueze can rightly appreciate, and they estimate it very highly. It is said of him by Francisco Dias, (a man whose melancholy history will hereafter be mentioned) that he found it confused, lawless, and meagre, that he reclaimed it from its savage state, tamed it to the infinite combinations of harmony, and fixed its pronunciation. Such is the sententious morality of his poems, that they were quoted from the pulpit. He never kindles the reader, never dazzles, never agitates him; but he enlightens, he enlivens, he pleases. He is never an ambitious writer, yet Francisco Dias does not characterize him truly when he states that it was always his endeavour to express his conceptions in the readiest language,—that the spirit of his thoughts embodied itself in the first shape which was presented,—that it was indifferent to him whether he poured his wine into a golden goblet or an earthen cruse, the value was in the contents not in the vessel, though the vessel was always well-proportioned and pure. There is certainly no affectation of ornament in his writings, but they were laboriously written, and painfully corrected. He says himself in one of his sonnets, addressed to a contemporary poet, that like a she-bear with her ill-shaped cubs, he had never done licking his verses.—

    'Os meus se nunca acabo de os lambar,
    Como ussa aos filhos mal proporcionadas.'

    The manuscript of his poems was every where interlined, and [272] many of the alterations were marked with a query, so that it could not be known which reading he meant to prefer. When his grand-daughter married D. Fernando Cores Sotomayor, a Galician hidalgo, this manuscript, which was in the author's hand-writing, was valued at a high price, and accepted by Soto-mayor as a part of his wife's portion;- an honourable proof of his love of literature, and of the estimation in which the poet was held.

  8. Sa de Miranda was followed by Antonio Ferreira; he imitated him in the sonnet, the elegy, and the Horatian epistle, and introduced the epigram, ode, and epithalamium. He aimed also at higher things. The Sofonisba of Trissino was the first regular tragedy of modern times, the Iñes de Castro of Ferreira the second; Ferreira is said also to have been the first person who imitated the verso sciolto of Trissino: some of his chorusses are in Sapphics. He improved upon his master; his language is more polished, and more flowing, and enriched with more of the graces of composition. Horace was his favourite poet; from this the bent and character of his mind may be understood,—but it was Horace in his sententious mood. He aimed at being useful by giving direct precepts, and of all the poets of his country he has the fewest conceits.

  9. If these writers, who are considered as the fathers of Portugueze poetry, are utterly unworthy to be compared with Dante and Chaucer, let it be remembered that Dante still remains unrivalled and unapproached among the Italians, and that except Shakespeare and Milton, (who are above all other men, as well the ancients as the moderns,) England has produced no poet of greater powers than Chaucer. It was no trifling merit in Sa de Miranda and Ferreira to write in their mother tongue, for Latin was then the epistolary and colloquial language of the learned, and in the vernacular dialects there were no conventional phrases of poetry, no beaten track which the imitator might tread. Pedro de Andrade Caminha was the friend of these poets, but his own pieces have the rust of ruder times, with a few spots of polish where he has rubbed against his companions. They were first printed by the Portugueze academy in 1791. Francisco Dias passes upon them a heavy censure; in his opinion Pedro de Andrade struck the lyre with frost-bitten fingers,—every thing is cold, unimpassioned and unimpressive,—his epigrams are his only good productions; he was a workman in steel who could do nothing but point needles. To say how far this censure is over-charged would require a minuter knowledge of the language [273] than any person who has not been bred up in the country can possibly possess. To an Englishman it is not perceivable that Pedro de Andrade is a worse poet than his friends, nor that one of them is better than another. They rendered essential service to the language of their country, and upon this their claims to remembrance must rest.

  10. Diogo Bernardes, who co-operated with these writers, has merits of a higher order. D. Francisco Manoel says of him that he is a poet of the Land of Promise, all butter and honey. Fraucisco Manoel was writing satire when he said this; had he been writing seriously he would have said that the style of Bernardes is sweet and mellifluous. Many of his poems might be read with pleasure in an English version. One of his countrymen has censured him for producing the most monstrous extravagancies by the side of the greatest beauties, like the English Schakepeer!—Bernardes accompanied Sebastian in the fatal expedition to Africa. Before they set out he wrote a sonnet prophesying victory, and affirming that when such a king went forth with Christ crucified upon his banners, Africa must inevitably be subdued:—on the very next page to this unfortunate prophecy, the elegies begin which the author wrote, 'being a slave in Barbary,' and in these Bernardes laments over the folly of Sebastian as well as his misfortunes, and thinks of the account which that king has to render for such a waste of innocent blood!

  11. To the shame of all these poets it must be remarked, that while they were commending one another, and lavishing praise upon every rhymer of rank, they never mentioned Camoens. Noble and opulent themselves, they reserved their praises for those who were noble and opulent also. Camoens was infinitely their superior by nature, but he was miserably poor, and they who felt their own inferiority, affected to neglect or to despise him whom they envied. They would not degrade themselves by commending genius in distress, and genius did not deign to notice them. There is neither occasion nor room here to enter into an examination of the merits of Camoens. Mickle has ornamented the Lusiad with a richness of description which is not to be found in the original, and Lord Strangford has given a character of licentiousness to his minor poems, of which the author is entirely innocent. That improvement of poetical language which in our country has with equal ignorance and absurdity been ascribed to Waller and to Pope, Camoens effected in Portuguese, nothing before him was so good, nothing after [274] him has been better. It would require a separate dissertation to appreciate rightly this celebrated poet. So much of the English Lusiad belongs to the translator, that an edition in which all the variations should be pointed out, is greatly to be desired.

  12. Heroic poetry was in fashion during that age as in this, with the poets rather than with the public, and the presses of Spain and Portugal have teemed from that time almost to the present with epic poems. The Portugueze heroes have not the same cause of complaint as those who lived before Agamemnon; their exploits were no sooner atchieved than they were celebrated, not merely in sonnets and complimentary odes, but at as much length as the wrath of Achilles. The poets of no other country have had a history so fertile of heroic themes. They have sung the founder of their state Count Henrique, and their first king Affonso Heuriques, their deliverance from Castille by the policy of Joam I. the chivalrous valour of Nunalvares Pereira, and the patriotism of the people; their victories in Africa, and the extinction of their power by Sebastian's utter overthrow; the discovery of India, the conquests of Goa and of Malacca, the two sieges of Diu, and the adventures of the first settler in Bahia. Their latest adequate subject is the Braganzan revolution; but that no public event might go without due commemoration, an epic poem was written upon the marriage of Catherine of Portugal with Charles II. and his consequent conversion to popery; and another in our own days upon rebuilding Lisbon after the earthquake. In the age of fable they found Ulysses for a national hero, in ancient history the great Viriatus, whose memory it well becomes them to love and cherish. Some of these are servile imitations of Tasso, others are written without any model, but unfortunately by writers who were unequal to what they had undertaken. Many passages of striking beauty are to be found in these long works, and instances of extraordinary absurdity, and whimsical taste are still more frequent. There is scarcely one among them which would not supply materials for an amusing analysis, and specimens sufficient to rescue the author from contempt, and reprieve him from oblivion.

  13. The octave stanza is the usual metre of these poems. Later critics have reprobated it as the worst form for narrative; they affirm that it tempts the poet to make use of vain circumlocutions, and to stuff his measure with redundant phrases and idle epithets; this he must do to eke out his meaning to the [275] requisite length; and at other times he must cramp and crowd his thoughts by the necessity of pausing at regular distances. These objections are deduced from want of skill in the poet, rather than from any defect inherent in the stanza. Jeronymo Cortereal wrote in the verso solto: epithets have never been strung together with more profuse tautology than by this writer both in his Naufragio de Sepulveda, and his Segundo Cerco de Diu. The couplet has been tried in imaginary imitation of the French or English, but it is altogether a different metre from either, and the principle upon which it has been recommended is that it admits a greater variety of pauses than the octave stanza. Francisco de Pina e de Mello uses it with the occasional license of a quatrain, or of a rhymeless line in his Conquista de Goa, and in what he calls his Epic-Polemick Poem, the Triumpho da Religiam. Of these forms of heroic rhyme it may safely be asserted that a good poet would write well in any, and a bad one in none. The verso solto is a feeble measure; it might perhaps be advantageously used in dramatic writing, but sufficient trials have been made in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, to prove that it is incapable of the strength and dignity of our heroic blank verse.

  14. In the bright morning of their literature the Portugueze had one distinguished dramatist, by name Gil Vicente. Lope de Vega and Quevedo are said to have imitated his style of satire, and it is also said that Erasmus learnt Portugueze for the sake of reading his works, which he affirmed approached more nearly to the manner of Plautus than any author had yet done before him. Emanuel and Joam III. with their families often witnessed the representation of his plays;- they were privately performed, and one of his daughters, who was lady of the bedchamber to the Infanta D. Maria, acted in them. This daughter herself wrote comedies, and compiled grammars of the English and Dutch languages. A shocking anecdote is related of Gil Vicente:- growing envious of the dramatic talents which his eldest son had displayed, he sent him to India, to get rid of him, and there the youth was slain. It is remarkable that these plays have never been re-published, though they are highly esteemed, and exceedingly rare.

  15. But notwithstanding this beginning, which was perhaps more promising than in any other country, the drama has not flourished in Portugal. The richness of the Spanish theatre has probably occasioned the poverty of the Portugueze. During the Castillian usurpation it was a wise part of the usurper's policy to [276] render the language of the country unfashionable, and encourage the Portugueze authors to write in Spanish. There had been writers unwise enough to do this even before the fall of Sebastian,—Spanish poems are to be found among the works of Sa de Miranda, Ferreira, and Camoens himself. Fortunately however for their countrymen, Barros and Moraes and Camoens had already modelled, and enriched, and perfected their language, and given them a national literature, which pride, as well as patriotism that never lost its hope, stimulated them to preserve. But many were led astray, and, wanting either feeling or foresight, Castillianized themselves during the reign of the Philips. During this time, which was the flourishing age of the Spanish drama, Spanish plays were represented at Lisbon, as English ones are now at Edinburgh. They were not in the dialect of the country, but they were sufficiently understood by all the audience. After the Braganzan revolution, as the influence of bigotry became greater, the theatre was discouraged, and, in later days, to the disgrace and degradation of national literature, the opera has supplanted it as a fashionable amusement.

  16. Of the Portugueze, who wrote in Spanish, Manoel de Faria e Sousa is the most celebrated; a man of great learning and considerable genius, yet of such execrable taste that his writings are rather a reproach than an honor to the language. Besides his criticisms, and the great historical works by which he is best known, he published nine volumes of poems. It is an extraordinary fact, that no complete set is known to exist. The least imperfect, which contained only five of the nine volumes, was in possession of D. Fr. Manoel de Cenaculo Villas Boas, bishop of Beja. We say was in his possession, because we know not whether that truly excellent and venerable prelate be still living, nor whether his library has escaped the dreadful ravages which the French committed in that part of Alentejo, when the Portugueze first revolted against Junot and his army of ruffians.

  17. Faria e Sousa had no lack of patriotism; he wrote in Spanish partly because he thought it more grandiloquous and therefore more suited to his own ambitious style, and partly because he expected to be more generally read. There are other writers of his age who may justly be stigmatized as literary renegados. When the Braganzan revolution took place, the literary taste of all Europe had been corrupted, and from that time, till the middle of the last century, Portugal produced no poets worthy of being ranked with those of the age of Sebastian. Even when the absurdities of a conceited and bombastic style were exploded, this [277] degradation of language which bad writers, and especially bad poets, every where occasion, was felt and acknowledged, and the Portuguese had still farther debased it by the vile fashion of laying aside sterling old words for new ones of French derivation, and of barbarizing their own nobler tongue by introducing French idioms. The first modern poet who distinguished himself by the purity of his language, was Pedro Antonio Correa Garçam, a member of the Arcadian Society. Another member of this society, the Desembargador, Antonio Diniz da Cruz e Silva, stands unrivalled in the latter ages of Portugueze poetry. His Pindaric odes were published in 1801, after the author's death, under his Arcadian name, Elpino Nonacriense. His dithyrambics, some of which are very spirited, still remain unprinted. The poem which has made him most popular, is a mock-heroic, consisting of eight cantos, in verso solto, and entitled the Hyssopaida. Joze Carlos de Lara, Dean of Elvas, used, for the sake of ingratiating himself with his bishop, to attend him in person, with the hyssop, at the door of the chapter-house, whenever he officiated: after awhile some quarrel arose between them, and he then discontinued this act of supererogatory respect; but he had practised it so long that the bishop, and his party in the chapter, insisted upon it as a right, and commanded him to continue it as a service which he was bound to perform. He appealed to the metropolitan, and sentence was given against him. This is the story of the poem. After his death, the dean's successor, who happened to be his nephew, tried the cause again and obtained a reversal of the decree; a prophetic hope of this eventual triumph is given to the unsuccessful hero. The Hyssopaida having been long circulated in manuscript was privately printed in 1802, with the false date of London. Permission never could be obtained for publishing it; indeed it is surprizing that it should ever have been asked, so undisguised is the general satire.

  18. Domingos dos Reis Quita, who has likewise obtained a high reputation, was another member of the Portugueze Arcadia. His tragedy of Iñes de Castro found its way, some years ago, into our language, in a publication called the German Theatre. Poor Domingos dos Reis would have been surprized at seeing himself there, and still more at finding the title of Don prefixed to his name, which was just as if a Frenchman had translated Burns and dignified him with the title of Milord. His father was a tradesman, who being obliged, by unfortunate circumstances, to leave Portugal, left him when only seven years old, with six other [278] children, to be brought up by the mother in what manner she could. Remittances from the father soon failed, and Domingos, at the age of thirteen, was apprenticed to a barber. From his earliest youth he was fond of reading, and especially of poetry. Luckily the works of Camoens, and of Francisco Rodrigues Lobo, fell into his hands; he studied them, learnt great part of them by heart, and imitated the best models which the language could supply. During many years he continued to write verses in secret, and when at length he had acquired confidence enough to shew them to his friends, he produced them not as his own but as the composition of a monk in the Azores. An amatory sonnet betrayed him: he soon attracted the notice of his literary contemporaries, and was introduced to the Conde de S. Lourenço, who was ever afterwards one of his best friends. Having thus obtained patronage, he learnt Spanish, Italian, and French, to compensate as much as possible for the deficiency of his education, and studied all the most celebrated authors in these languages, and as many of the Greek, Latin, German and English as were translated. At this time the Portugueze Arcadian Society was formed, for the purpose of restoring fine literature, and especially poetry, in a country where they had so long and so greatly degenerated. It is highly to the honour of those persons who established it, that Domingos dos Reis, notwithstanding his humble rank in life, was unanimously chosen one of their members. There were indeed some persons illiberal and envious enough to console themselves, for their own natural inferiority, by sarcastical remarks upon his poverty, and his former employment; but such satire neither injured him nor gave him pain. The Archbishop of Braga, when nominated to that see, would have taken him into his household, (a situation which he greatly desired, for his mind was of a religious character) had not some wretched bigot persuaded his grace that it did not become him to have a man of wit about his person; and for this crime of wit the untainted morals, unsuspected piety, and exemplary life of Domingos could not atone. Pombal thought highly of his talents, and wished to have rewarded them, but here also some envious enemy interfered, and the poet was praised and suffered to continue poor and dependant. The earthquake, which destroyed Lisbon, deprived him of the little he possessed in the world, and left him houseless and destitute; this, however, occasioned all the comforts of his future life. His best and truest friend was a lady, by name D. Theresa Theodora de Aloim, the wife of Balthezar Tara, a physician; into their house he was received when he would not [279] else have had where to lay his head, and with them he continued to reside, rather as a brother than as one indebted to their bounty for a subsistence. In 1761, symptoms of consumption appeared in him, and brought him to the brink of the grave: but by the unremitting attentions of D. Theresa and her husband, the fatal effects of the disease were warded off. Six years afterwards he had a second attack, and was a second time preserved, Tara and his wife nursing him with incessant care, and rising many times in the night, the one to watch the changes of the disease, the other to administer food or medicine. With these excellent friends, Domingos was as happy as a man can be who feels himself dependant. Motives of duty at length made him leave a home in which he had been so long domesticated. His mother, who till this time had lived with one of her married daughters, was now, in her old age and infirmities, become burthensome to a family which was numerous and poor. Domingos therefore took a house for her, and removed to it for the purpose of contributing to the comfort of her latter days. Some of his friends represented to him that this was a rash undertaking for one who had no certain income, and no other reliance than on Providence; to which he replied, that Providence, by which all things had their being, which provided for the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field, and which he beheld shining in the stars and vegetating in trees and herbs, would not forsake him. This faith was never put to the proof. Within six weeks after his removal, he was suddenly taken ill; Dr. Tara immediately had him carried to his own house, that he might again be attended with that affectionate and indefatigable care which had twice before saved his life; but the disorder baffled all medical skill, and, after six days suffering, he died, in the year 1770, and in the 43d year of his age.

  19. The imprudence of those who neglect the ordinary occupations and pursuits of life for the sake of devoting themselves to literature, has been enforced upon the world both by precept and example, as if the general example were so seducing that these lessons were necessary to warn the world against it. Some evil has resulted from this, and from the volumes which have been written, some to expose, and some to palliate, the vices and follies of men of genius. Genius and extravagance have been represented as if they were naturally connected; the dull and the hard-hearted have willingly embraced an opinion which excuses their hatred or contempt of superior endowments, and the profligate have as willingly assented to a doctrine which flatters [280] their profligacy. But a love of literature, and a passion for poetry, have been, at least, as frequently connected with inoffensive habits, pure morals, and a contented mind. Of this consolatary [sic] truth, the history of every country affords abundant proof; and, for one instance of patronage abused, every country has to record many of genius and learning patiently enduring adverse circumstances, and finally sinking under them without complaint. Portugal abounds with such instances, not more to the honour of individuals than to the disgrace of the nation—if the nation were alone in this disgrace. Francisco Dias Gomes was nearly in as humble a rank of life as Domingos dos Reis Quita; as exemplary in his moral character, but more unfortunate. This author was the son of a petty tradesman at Lisbon, who kept one of those shops in which all kinds of perishable articles are sold. His parents were good people, and carefully attended to the moral education of their children: perceiving uncommon talents in their son, they destined him to the profession of the law. He received the first rudiments of learning in the school of the Congregaçam de Oratorio; studied rhetoric and poetry under the royal professor Pedro Jose da Fonseca, and was then sent to Coimbra, but he had hardly commenced his course there before an uncle, whose name he bore, and whose opinion swayed the family, altered his destination. This uncle was really desirous of promoting the welfare of his relations, and he thought his nephew would reap more solid advantage from the humble profits of trade, than from the practice of an uncertain profession, in which there were so many adventurers that it was possible for only a few of them to succeed. The advice which he gave was accompanied by an offer to assist his nephew in opening a shop in his father's trade, and thus was Francisco Dias settled in a business wherein his talents were to be exercised through life in the lowest kind of calculation, and where, unless they possessed a strong vital principle, an unusual resisting force, they must perish, or vegetate in miserable barrenness. Thus was his genius nipt in the bud: he did not indeed lose ground, but he never advanced; the tree, which, in sunshine, and in a genial soil, would have been beautiful with blossoms and rich with fruit, continued to exist in this unwholesome shade, but it could not flourish; his powers of mind were like a child to whom nature has given a hale constitution, but who pines upon the scanty food of poverty. Francisco Dias felt the evils of his situation, and struggled against them. He read assiduously: poetry was his favourite pursuit and his passion; he acquired an extensive knowledge of the subject, and a [281] pure taste in language, but living in his shop, he had no means of studying the works of nature; he lost, or rather he never acquired, originality; his head became crouded with the ideas of others, and it is always easier to remember than to invent. The perpetual contrast between his inclination and his way of life prevented him from improving either in talents or in fortune. Carrying on a petty trade from necessity, and writing verses with an ardour which was probably heightened by his unworthy lot; without leisure to improve his mind, without applause to cheer it, it was impossible that he could either be a rich tradesman or a successful poet. Francisco Dias could never attain, in his circumstances, even to decent mediocrity. His reserved temper, and the obscurity of his situation, kept him from the knowledge of his contemporary men of letters; a few, however, were among his friends, but even to them he never communicated his embarrassments. Preserving, amid all his difficulties, the most resolute independence, he concealed his cares and troubles in his own breast. It was difficult therefore for his friends to discover his distress, and still more so to prevail on him to accept of any assistance. This stern spirit of independence he carried to an excess which at length cost him his life. In the spring of 1795 all his family were attacked by an epidemic fever; he acted as physician and nurse, and at last he himself sickened; he persisted in refusing all advice, and rejecting all attendance, except from his half-recovered wife and children; the disease proved fatal, and he died with that resignation and fortitude which he had uniformly manifested through a life of unremitting adversity. On this occasion the Royal Academy came forward to perform an act of beneficence to individuals, and of duty to the public; his poems were printed at their expense for the benefit of the widow and children, and his prose essays were published in their transactions. He left also an unfinished epic upon the conquest of Ceuta, and six cantos of a poem upon the seasons, which remain unpublished. Good sense, good feelings, pure morals, and pure language distinguish his productions; he holds a respectable rank among the poets of his country, nor can it be doubted that, under more favorable circumstances, he would have risen to a high one.

  20. These writers have borne a conspicuous part in reforming the taste of their country: the conceits, the puerilities, the bombast and the extravagancies, which characterize so large a portion of the poetry, both of Spain and Portugal, are not to be discovered in their works; in this respect they have furnished better models than they found. But that melancholy impression, which a [282] thoughtful mind receives in contemplating any great collection of poetry, is particularly felt in studying the Portugueze. Nature seems almost to have dealt the seeds of genius as prodigally as those of life, as if foreseeing how few were to spring up and arrive at maturity. You find the fancy of a poet, the feeling of one, the mechanism of verse, the passionate love of his pursuit, and yet some fatal defect in the mind or morals of the author, or some unhappy and insurmountable obstacles in his external circumstances, shall have perverted or palsied all his powers. This too must be said, that an Englishman, accustomed to the study of Shakespeare and Milton, feels (with perhaps the single exception of Dante) a want of moral dignity and of intellectual strength in the poets of all other countries. He may sometimes be pleased, oftentimes be amused, not unfrequently affected; but it is rarely that he finds himself strengthened, and enlightened, and elevated, as he needs must be by the perusal of our own mighty masters, if he have a heart and an understanding which can comprehend their excellencies. Songs and sonnets, satire and epigram, may be written in one country as well as in another; but it is only among free and enlightened nations that the great works of imagination ever have been, or ever can be, produced. A beautiful anthology may be formed from the Portugueze poets, but they have no great poem in their language. The most interesting, and the one which best repays perusal, has obtained no fame in its own country, and never been heard of beyond it. It is the life of Francisco Vieira, the painter, the best artist of his age, composed by himself. Much has been written concerning the lives of the painters; and it is singular that this very amusing and unique specimen of auto-biography should have been entirely overlooked.

  21. The boast of the fine literature of Portugal ought to have been Amadis of Gaul, which is among prose romances, what the Iliad is in heroic poetry, if it be not indeed more decidedly without a rival; but this glory Portugal has forfeited by the unpardonable fault of letting important works remain in manuscript till time or accident destroys them, a fault from which, even at this day, no country in Europe can be acquitted. Next in merit to Amadis, however wide the interval, is the Palmerin of Francisco de Moraes, a book which is considered as having perfected the prose language. The third and fourth parts of the same romance, by Diogo Fernandes de Lisboa, are also held in high estimation. George de Montemayor wrote in Spanish, but he was a Portugueze by birth. The Arcadia of Sannazaro, though it went through above sixty [283] editions in the course of a century, did not excite more admiration than the Diana of this writer: in our days critics may wonder at, and authors envy, an age when the public were so willing to be delighted. Francisco Rodrigues Lobo is the most celebrated of his imitators.—There is a point of insipidity, below which no scale of dullness can be graduated, and that point all the writers of this school, masters and scholars alike, seem to have attained. An ambitious attempt in fictitious narrative was made not many years ago, by P. Theodoro d'Almeida, an honorary member of our Royal Society. His work is entitled, O Feliz Independente do Mundo e da Fortuna, ou, Arte de Viver Contente en quaesquer Trabalhos da Vida:—The Happy Man independent of the World and of Fortune, or, the Art of living contentedly in all the Evils of Life. It is an imitation of Telemachus and the romances of that class. He began it in rhyme, then attempted it in verso solto, and finding that the nature of his design was too argumentative for verse, finally executed it in prose. This book is evidently the production of a rich and well-stored mind; but had the one half been tacked together into good sermons, the other would have been greatly improved by the separation: the action, as it now stands, is smothered under moralization. The same excellent principle is better enforced in the Sethos of the Abbe Terrasson, a work of manlier morals than any other in the French language.

  22. It is remarkable that the Portugueze, though they distinguished themselves so highly, both in the chivalrous and pastoral romance, should have produced nothing like the modern novel. The history of Charlemain and his Twelve Peers, from old Turpin, still keeps its ground in that country. Robinson Crusoe is eagerly read, and two translations of the Arabian Tales were presented to the Inquisition to be licensed in the same year. The Pilgrim's Progress, the only book in our language which rivals Robinson Crusoe in popularity, has failed to produce any effect in Portugal. This is the translator's fault; for never was book more cruelly mutilated. It was not indeed to be expected that a Roman Catholic translator should let Hate-Good the Judge quote the act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, that whoever would not fall down and worship the golden image should be thrown into a fiery furnace; nor that he should exhibit that old Giant Pope, though by reason of age, and also of the many shrewd brushes that he met with in his younger days, grown crazy and stiff in his joints, yet still sitting at his cave's mouth, grinning at Pilgrims as they go by, and biting his nails [284] because he cannot come at them. But besides these necessary castrations, so many which were purely gratuitous have been made, that the Peregrinaçam de hum Christam is but a meagre compendium of the first part; and not a word is to be found of old Honest, Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid, Mr. Ready-to-halt, who danced with her on the road, and footed it well with one crutch in his hand; nor even of Great-heart who slew Giant Despair.

  23. Bunyan has been peculiarly unfortunate in his translator; for both his allegories are admirably adapted to become popular anywhere, in the truest sense of the word; and in fact such allegories are exceedingly popular both in Spain and Portugal. Calderon has earned that style of composition almost to as great perfection in his Autos Sacramentales as John the Tinker himself. These religious dramas, or farces, as some of them may be called, have been suppressed of late years. Religion has not gained by their suppression, for there had been ample experience that the buffoonery which was not intended to be irreverent, was not understood to be so; and nothing better has been substituted in its place. There is perhaps no means by which the minds of the populace, while the populace remain what they are, can be so deeply impressed. To a common observer, the levity with which Catholic writers frequently treat their religion, and the grotesque manner in which they represent its abstrusest mysteries, may seem equally profane and astonishing. Alonzo de Ledesma has written whole volumes of conceits upon sacred subjects. Among the Quatrocientas Preguntas, or four hundred questions propounded by the Admiral of Castille to Fr. Luys de Escobar, is a riddle, describing, a fowl trussed for roasting, and fastened upon a wooden spit; but it is so worded as to imply something which neither the feelings of the writer, nor of the English public would permit to be named on such an occasion.* [285]

  24. There is a Spanish auto of which the title is Los Zelos de S. Joseph—The Jealousy of St. Joseph, a favourite theme with the poets, both of Spain and Portugal. S. Juana Iñes de la Cruz, a Mexican Nun, who flourished a century ago, and was then honoured with the appellations of the Tenth Muse, and the only American Poetess, was particularly fond of this topic. She has written some Coplas, of which the subject is a dialogue between the First Person in the Trinity and Joseph: they are contending which shall make the most delicate compliment to the other,—extraordinary compliments they are; and the conclusion is, that one cannot exceed the other, but each receives as great a favour as he bestows. A translation of the dialogue, if it were produced to authenticate this account, would hardly be tolerated in England; yet it was written by a nun, assuredly in the innocence of her heart and fullness of her faith, approved by the superiors of her order, and sanctioned by the Inquisition. When religion is the sole business of life, it is blended with all the thoughts and feelings of the zealous: it is equally predominant in their sportive as in their most serious moods; and he who has been kneeling one hour before the crucifix, and disciplining himself till the thongs of his scourge are clotted with blood, will turn God's grace into mockery the next, not from any lack of faith, but from its very intensity.

  25. The religious prose of these countries (for, on this subject, what is said of one will equally apply to both) is not less extraordinary than their poetry. In the sermons of Vieyra, one of the most excellent as well as most eloquent of men, the finest oratory is mingled with the most fantastic conceits that ever entered into the mind of man. Fray Gerundio, that satire which excited such sensation in Spain half a century ago, till the bigots triumphed and obtained its condemnation, is rather a portrait [286] than a caricature. The lives of the Saints, which are in every body's hands, are of all romances the most marvellous; and the Chronicles of the monastic orders contain more astonishing instances of fraud and folly, and of the power of the human mind in deceiving itself as well as others, than are to be found in any other book in the world. The journals of Bedlam, or of St. Luke's, would hardly throw more light upon insanity. These works are equally valuable to the Poet, the Historian, and the Philosopher.

  26. There are no modern travels in the language, because the Portugueze, who visit foreign countries, return with freer opinions than would pass the ordeal of the Inquisition. This Tribunal is no longer what it once was,—an Association for burning persons on false pretences of Judaism, in order to get possession of their property. As an ecclesiastical court, it now does little mischief: but the controul which it exercises over the press is fatal to all political freedom, and prevents the possibility of enlightening the people. A volume of poems was suppressed a few years ago, because the author would not expunge the word Fate. A translation of Darwin's Zoonomia was presented by a physician who had graduated at Edinburgh, and permission to publish it was refused. A work of Zimmerman's was sent to the Board of Censure; its preface contained a sketch of the different forms of government in Europe; one of the Censors,—a man of the highest authority in Lisbon, drew his pen across the whole sketch—wrote a preface himself in its stead, the sum of which was, that the most perfect form of government is an absolute monarchy, like that of Portugal,—and then returned the manuscript to the translator, to be printed with this introduction, or not printed at all. While such a tribunal exists, it may well be conceived that no Portugueze traveller will give his observations to the public. Their old literature is rich in this branch of knowledge. Notwithstanding the excellent and incomparable work of Bruce, much may yet be learnt from the Portugueze accounts of Abyssinia, especially from the very rare and not less curious work of Francisco Alvarez, the first European who ever returned from that country to tell the secrets of his prison-land. The Portugueze history of shipwrecks contains more information respecting the Terra do Natal, and the adjoining parts of South Africa than is to be found elsewhere; and the old Annual Relations of their Jesuits exceed the Lettres Edifiantes, as much in intrinsic value as in rarity. [287]

  27. In national history the Portugueze are almost unrivalled. During that period, when their atchievements were more extraordinary than those of any other people, they produced historians worthy to record them. No other country can produce such a series of excellent chronicles. Fernam Lopes, the first in order of time, is beyond all comparison the best chronicler of any age or nation. The subject of his greatest work is the successful struggle of Portugal against Castillo, under the Protector Joam, afterwards King Joam of Good Memory. Never had historian a more interesting theme: in his style he has all the beauty and vividness of Froissart, and he has the advantage of a subject complete in itself, of a nobler language, of a poet's mind, and of a patriot's feeling. His chronicle of the preceding reign was announced in the year 1790 for publication, by the Royal Academy of Lisbon; but the Academician*, to whom the charge of publishing the yet unedited documents of Portugueze history was assigned, left Portugal, and it still remains unprinted. A fine manuscript of it is in this country. Fernam Lopes was succeeded by Gomez Eannes de Azurara, who, notwithstanding an occasional display of pedantry, is equal in merit to any chronicler except his unequalled predecessor. He wrote the history of the Conquest of Ceuta, and the first part of the Chronicle of Affonso V. There is reason also to believe that the Chronicle of Duarte is in great part his,—these are works of extraordinary merit and of the deepest interest. He wrote also the Chronicles of D. Pedro and D. Duarte de Menezes, which relate to the barbarous and barbarizing warfare carried on in Africa, and may be considered as continuations of his Conquest of Ceuta. Gomez Eannes had written the history of the Portugueze Discoveries down to his own time; most unfortunately this has been suffered to perish, and very little has been preserved by other authors to supply its place. Ruy de Pina completed the Chronicle of Affonso V. with equal ability, and corrected or compiled those of the seven first kings, the undoubted works of Fernam Lopes beginning with the eighth. Ruy de Pina also added the Chronicle of Joam II. whom he had served in many important affairs. There is another excellent chronicle of this king, by Garcia de Resende, who had been one of his pages, and [288] who collected the Cancioneiro, which has already been spoken of. Damiam de Goes wrote that part of Joam the Second's life, previous to his accession, and the Chronicle of Emanuel. He is a valuable writer, though far inferior to his predecessors. Francisco de Andrada wrote the Chronicle of Joam III. and here the series ends. It had been continued by contemporary Writers for nearly two centuries; and nothing comparable to it can be produced by any other country. The Castillian Chronicles of the same period, good as they are, are as inferior in beauty of execution, as they are in splendour of subject.

  28. The affairs of India are related by Goes and Andrada, but these conquests had better historians, who perceived that events of such magnitude required a separate history. Fernam Lopez de Castanheda is the first of these writers, in order of time, and, in some respects, the most meritorious. Few men have ever so truly devoted themselves to literature, and to the best and only permanent glory of their country, as Castanheda. He accompanied his father to India, who went out with the famous Nuno da Cunha, and was the first ouvidor* of Goa. In those days, as well as in these, men went to India to make fortunes, and were even less scrupulous how they made them than they are now. 'But the wealth,' says Castanheda, 'which I laboured to obtain, was to learn minutely all that the Portugueze had atchieved in the discovery and conquest of India, not from common report, but from Captains and Fidalgos, who understood in what manner these things had taken place, (having been present both in council, and in the act and execution thereof,) and also from letters and official reports, which I examined with their evidences. Moreover, I visited the places where those actions, which I was to record, had been wrought, that every thing might be made clear; for many authors have erred greatly, because they knew not the nature of the places concerning which they wrote. And not only in India did I use this diligence, but in Portugal also, because I had not found persons abroad who could relate to me so great a variety of events, so particularly as I desired to learn them. These persons not only attested by oaths the truth of what they communicated, but gave me liberty to allege them as my witnesses. These persons whom I consulted in Portugal, I went about seeking in different parts, with much bodily labour and expence of the little which I possessed; and thus I have [289] past twenty years—the best years of my life—during which time I have been so persecuted by fortune, and have become so sick and poor, that having no other remedy whereby to subsist, I accepted the service of certain offices in the University of Coimbra: and there, in the time which was not taken up in official business, with sufficient labour of body and mind, I completed the work of this history.'—The offices which he thus mentions were those of Beadle, and Keeper of the Archives.

  29. Joam de Barros is a more celebrated name. His Decadas da Asia surpass all former works of history in the extent of learning which they display: for he possessed not only all the documents which the government of his own country could supply, but also an invaluable and at that time unparallelled collection of oriental manuscripts: an abridgement of one which has appeared in the Notices des MSS. de la Bibliotheque Nationale, evinces how faithfully he had consulted them. Barros will always be ranked among historians of the first class; and that he did not live to execute the whole series of works which he had planned, and for which he had collected materials, is perhaps the greatest misfortune that modern literature has sustained. There are, however, great and unpardonable defects in this splendid and most able writer. He never relates the whole truth when it would be dishonourable to his hero or his country. He always keeps the crimes and errors of the great in the shade, and does not always bring into light the virtues of the humble. There are parts of his work which would have been better, if Castanheda had not written before him: he seems to have been unwilling to repeat what a contemporary and a rival (as he regarded him) had already related; he therefore hurries over what Castanheda had particularized, and in those cases where he had learnt additional circumstances sometimes omits the old. This is remarkably exemplified in the two accounts of Vasco da Gama's voyage. Such conduct would have been pardonable, and even in some degree praiseworthy, had Burros generously referred to that competitor, who carried on his labours in sickness and poverty, while he himself was basking in the sunshine of fortune: but the pride which influenced him had nothing of this noble character. His prologue to the third Decade is manifestly aimed at Castanheda, and at Bras d'Alboquerque: it breathes the malicious spirit of a man who felt himself superior to them in eloquence and in intellectual powers, yet hated them because he could not but feel that they were bolder historians than himself. In this prologue he lays down such prudential rules for historical [290] composition as would make history useless to all moral purposes.

  30. The Decades of Barros were ably continued by Diogo de Couto:- a complete edition of both was published at Lisbon, 1778-1788, in 24 volumes, resembling the best productions of the Glasgow press. Couto wrote under the Philips; but he was of another age, for he had grown up when Portugal was an independent and powerful state. During the dolorous period of the Usurpation every thing declined. The resurrection of the kingdom seemed to rekindle that literary ambition in the Portugueze, which oppression and degradation had well-nigh extinguished; and the great Historia de Portugal Restaurado, or Portugal Restored, was produced by D. Luiz de Menezes, third Count of Ericeira. The inferiority of this history to some of those which preceded it is more to be ascribed to the subject, than to any want of ability in the author. The second deliverance of Portugal is scarcely less surprising than the first; but there is no beauty in the circumstances, no heroism in the actors; it is mortifying to find a glorious cause bring forth such a series of languid events. The house of Menezes exceeds any other family that has ever yet existed, in its long and most honourable attachment to literature. Five Counts of Ericeira in succession were distinguished authors. The Bibliotheca Ericeriana, which is annexed to the Henriqueida of the fourth Count, is a catalogue of an hundred and forty-five works composed by the various branches of the family, and the proportion of ore to dross is at least as great as would be found in any chance catalogue. The library was magnificent, as may well be supposed when learning had been the pride of a noble family for so many generations. It has been dispersed by an unworthy descendant, and some of the books were actually given in exchange for a great Spanish ass.

  31. Happy had it been for Portugal if it had recovered its intellectual with its political freedom; but the house of Braganza was not less enslaved by superstition than that of Austria, whose deadly yoke it had broken. Braganza himself had received from nature qualities which under happy circumstances would have made him a good and happy man: his birth, his honour, his duty to his country,—more perhaps than any personal ambition,—called him to the throne; and then danger begat suspicion, suspicion made him cruel, and his mind already prone to superstition, and probably predisposed to it by hereditary disease, sought in implicit obedience to the priests for that narcotic which popery administers to a troubled conscience,—that panacea which it promises [291] for the worst of crimes. Under his sons the moral and literary degradation of Portugal was completed. In the succeeding reign a fashion of literature spread from London and Paris to Lisbon, treasures poured in so abundantly from the mines of Brazil that the Crown literally knew not how to dispose of its wealth, and Joam V. was easily persuaded to institute a Royal Academy of National History. The academicians were fifty in number, and eighteen members were added who resided in the provinces. The plan upon which they were to proceed was on the most extensive scale. Memoirs of every period and every reign were to be separately compiled by different academicians, each having his allotted task. These having been examined and approved by the Academy were to be published, and from each of these a Latin history was to be drawn up by some other member. The same plan was to be pursued in the ecclesiastical history of the country, each diocese being separately taken; and all the documents in the kingdom were placed at the disposal of this learned body. The few works which were executed upon this plan give us no reason to regret that the whole series was not completed, nor that the Academy was dissolved. Another Royal Academy was established by the present Queen, and it has conferred greater benefit upon the literature of its country than any similar institution. The Dictionary indeed which it commenced was upon a wretched plan, and therefore was not continued beyond the letter A. But to enter fairly into this subject, and do justice to the labours of this meritorious body, would extend to too great a length an article which is already perhaps too long for its place.

  32. Returning then to the paltry volume which has given occasion to the present sketch, if, in trade-language, there is a demand for Portugueze books in England, the best way of answering and increasing that demand would be by publishing a well-selected anthology from the poets, arranged in chronological order. If also some of the best prose works were accurately reprinted, it is not unlikely that a sale for them would be found in Brazil, especially if such works were chosen as are rare and of high price in Portugal, and consequently not to be found in the colonies.[292]

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September 2006