Page images
PDF
EPUB

SIX LIFE STUDIES OF

FAMOUS WOMEN.

FERNAN CABALLERO.

It is curious that in an age perhaps unequalled for memorial writing, no biography should exist of a writer so deservedly famous as Fernan Caballero. Her reputation may be called European, whilst in her own country she stands out as a delineator of national

manners and customs unrivalled and alone.

But neither in Germany, which may partly claim her as a child, seeing that the father of this astonishing woman was German, nor in Spain, where all but her earliest years were spent, and where she lately died in the full vigour of her intellect, at the ripe age of eighty, does any kind of biography as yet exist.

It is, therefore, only from scattered sources, and with considerable difficulty, that materials for the following brief monograph have been procured. Let us hope, ere long, that some Spanish biographer will take up the theme, and treat it with all the fulness it deserves.

Doña Cecilia Böhl de Faber, and Marquesa de Arco Hermoso, was born, some say in Switzerland, some say at Cadiz, in 1797. Her father, the son of a Hamburg merchant, had been sent to Cadiz to learn banking business there; he adopted Spain as his country, turned Catholic, and married a wellborn Spanish lady, the mother of Fernan Caballero. From her German father Fernan Caballero inherited something more than literary taste and aptitude ; well versed in the early literature of Spain, his collections of dramas and anthologies still hold their place, notably the “Floresta de Rimas Antiquas Castellañas,” well known to German scholars. The German edition of “Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature," contains a notice of Herr von Faber, or Señor de Faber, who was a member of the Spanish Acadeny, besides belonging to learned German societies. Intensely Spanish and Catholic by temperament, yet German in culture, Fernan Caballero thus manifested the characteristics of both societies and nationalities in an extraordinary degree. So familiar was she with German, that her first novel was written in that language, whilst no Spanish writer living or dead has shown such entire uncompromising oneness with Catholic Spain.

At seventeen, Doña Cecilia was married to a certain Captain Planells, with whom she made the journey to America, soon after becoming a widow. Her second husband, the Marquis von Arco Hermoso, also died in a

« PreviousContinue »