Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

CRITICAL REVIEW;

OR,

Annals

OF

LITERATURE

• En pas réww pida, JOB
Ούχ ' ήδομαι, το δ' ορθού εξαίρη, όμως,

Soph. TRACHIN,

[blocks in formation]

London:
PRINTED FOR THE PROPRIETORS,

By W. SMITH, King Street, Seven Dials.
PUBLISHED BY W. SIMPKIN AND R. MARSHALL

(SUCCESSORS TO CROSBY & Co.)
Stationers' Court, Ludgate Street,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE

CRITICAL REVIEW:

Series the Fifth.

Vol: V.]

JANUARY, 1817.

[No. I.

Art. 1.--Some Account of the Lives and Writings of Lope

Felix de Vega Carpio, and Guillen de Castro. By HENRY RICHARD Lord HOLLAND, London, Longman and Co.

2 vols. 8vo. pp. 261-232. 1817. As far as this work refers to the division assigned to the Life and Writings of Lope de Vega, there is no addition to the preceding publication which appeared in 1806, excepting in the appendix, (p. 202-214, where we have some further account of the life, with the particulars, of the retirement and death of Don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos; a dozen or fourteen lines on the advantages of the Spanish versification in the use of asonantes, (p. 221 and 222;) and a sonnet in imitation of Lope de Vega, which Mr. Whitbread communicated to the noble author, (p. 225.)

We ought, however, in justice to Lord Holland, to ob serve, that he has availed himself of the hints, that were given him in the several reviews of his work. There is more boldness and freedom in the translations of the second volume. In page 60 of the former edition, his lordship said, that Cervantes and Shakspeare expired on the same day, this is corrected in vol. i. p. 80, of the new work. It had been suggested that the son of Lopez died in his sixth, not in his eighth year, as mentioned page 6, in the former edition : Lord H. either retains bis prior notion, or has pot tħought this immaterial fact worth correcting, but he has properly paid attention to the erroneous version (page 18) of the conclusion of the song of the giant to Chrisalda, and the fitness of the alteration will immediately appear to the Spanish student. ; The original is,

“Y quanto el mar, el ayre, el suelo encierra

Si me quieres, ofrezco a tu belleza. CRIT. Rey. Vol. V. Jan. 1817.

B

The former translation was, most frigidly and inaccurately,

“ Thus, what contains or sea, or earth, or air,
I to thy form, if you approve

, compare."TIN In the present edition, vol. i. p. 19, it is judiciously varied : " Thus what contains or sen,

or earth, or air,

to my It is perhaps scareely deserving notice, that comedias (p. 281) is substituted by tragedias, (p. 259, vol. i. ;) but it is meriting attention that in the orthography Qui.cotte is corrected to Quixote ; and that generally throughout the present work, the exclusion of the double consonant is

preserved, in compliance with the regulations : long since adopted by the Real Academin Española, which have been considered as the standard of the language.

If the inquiry in the present review were into the political and economical institutions, and not the literature of Spain, there is no subject on which we could dwell with so much delight as the biography of that distinguished patriot Jovellanos, whose portrait, from a bust in the possession of Lord Holland, is one of the embellishments of this publication. Perhaps we should observe, in reference to Lopë de Vega, that there has appeared a disposition in every writer who introduces a new character to notice in a community where from neglect or accident that character has been little known, to magnify the deserts and lessen the demerits of his subject; but we acknowledge that we see as little of this disposition in our noble author as in most other individuals in the like circumstances, and the same degree of impartiality is preserved with regard to Guillen de Castro, to whom the sequel of our review will be confined.

This new part of the work is comprhended in about 136 pages of the text, and six of the notes. Guillen de Castro, who was a contemporary of Lope de Vega, is spoken of with much commendation by Cervantes, although he calls the latter 6 el monstruo de la naturaleza. As two of the comedies of G. de Castro were taken from the narratives in Don Quixote, it may be supposed that the author of this inimitable production made himself

particularly acquainted with the merits of his copyist. We may pretty correctly ascertain

the date when G, de Castro, wrote, as the appearance of Don Quixote occurred in 1605, and Cervantes mentions him in the preface to his own comedies, which was

[graphic]

written in 1615. Our author is of opinion, that the greater portion of the plays of G de Castro were published before that time. The characteristic excellencies of this dramatist, according tờ Cervantes, are, pathetic tenderness and sweetnfess of style; and, as we have intimated, there is no doubt that this admirable critic had a just discernment of the merits of the subject of his eulogy.*.

There were two plays by G. de Castro, under the title of " Las mocedades del Cid,” which were distinguished as the first and the second part, but it is from the former only that he acquired his reputation. They are founded on a work which is acknowledged to be the first book known in the Spanish tongue, and which was composed perhaps as early as the middle of the twelfth century. Since our author has said little on this curious part of the subject, it may be acceptable if we notice some particulars of the Poem as distinguished from the Chronicle of the Cid.

Sandoval was the first who mentioned the Poem of the Cid, whieli had been preserved at Bivar, and Berganza afterwards ingerted seventeen lives of it in his Antiguedades. Some leaves are deficient in the beginning of the manuscript, and one in the middle; so that in its present state the whole fragment consists of 3,744 lines, the three last of which are added by the transcriber. The character would indicate that it was written in the fourteenth century, but the language is considerably older than that of Gonzalo Berceo, who flourished at the commencement of the thirteenth, and to whom the celebrated poem of Alexandro is attributed. Sanchez (whom we are disposed to concur with, and who is the author of the Coleccion de Poesias anteriores ał siglo 15) assigns the middle of the twelfth century, or about fifty years after the death of the Cid, as the period of its composition. Mr. Southey, who notices all these authorities, does not venture to determine the date, but assert's, that it is “the oldest poem in the Spanish language;" and he adds, " in my judgment, it is unquestionably and beyond all comparison the finest.”+

Don Manual Joseph Quintana, who is the friend to whom his lordship has addressed his work, published in 1807 three small volumes on Spanish poetry, froni the time of Juan Mena to the present; and he in his introduction remarks, that when this poem appeared, the language began to take

* His words are, “ Suavidad y dubuira de Don Guillen de Castro.". + Chronicle of the Cid.

« PreviousContinue »