Imatges de pÓgina

Two days in that great city did I tarry,
Delaying my departure in regard
That I might to the God Apollo carry

A line of notice from the darling Bard
Lope, whom as his life he seem'd to prize.
I found him in the lowest damp retreat
Of all the wide and fertile vale which lies

Between Punhete and Pyrene's feet.
A dish of season'd compliments I brought,
Kneaded with salt and butter was the paste,
And more to please his palate as I thought,
Sweetened with honey to the Poet's taste:
Presenting this, I ventured to require
A letter to Apollo for his favour,
And, if he deign'd to grant my bold desire,
Another for the Rhymers of strong savour.
If you should visit Sparta, he replied,
A city of Arcadia which I know,
(Having been there myself,) I will provide
Some friendly introductions ere you go.
Yet a long time had now elapsed, he said,
Since aught of Lord Anfriso he could hear,
Nor knew he if he were alive or dead.

I answered, Sir, I shall not travel there ;
Nor will I enter in the Holy Land

Except with caution and in safe disguise;
Because the school-boys there, I understand,
Inveigh against your Reverence with loud cries:
For they complain that what Torquato did
Hath been unhappily undone by you.
Thereat the indignant Lope at my head
With furious force his weighty inkstand threw.
I saw his sudden purpose, and in fear

Turning my back began all speed to fly :
The heavy weapon reached me in the rear,
And rearward I returned a long loud sigh.
Humbly I then essayed to supplicate

The offended author's favour as before:
But even while I spake, the Bard irate
Drew back, and in my face he shut the door.*

• Dons dias dilatey minha partida,
Para levar a Febo hum só bilhete
De Lope, que he sua alma, e sua vida.
Achey-o no nais humido retrete

Que tem a fertil e comprida veyga
Dos montes Perineos atè Punhete.
Apresentey-lhe huma redonda teyga
Chea de recheados cumprimentos
Amassados com mel, sal e manteyga.



Declarey-lhe meus altos pensamentos,
E para Apollo lhe pedi huma carta,
E outra para os Vates fedorentos.
Disse rue; Padre meu, se vay a Esparta,
Cidade de Arcadia, onde eu estive,

Eu lha mandarey dar, antes que parta.
Posto que ha muytos dias, que nam tive
Novas de Anfriso, que era o senhor della,
Nam sey se he morto já, ou se inda vive.


Lope de Vega did not succeed better in narrative poetry when he pitched it in a lower key; the attempt was made in his Isidro de Madrid, a poem in ten cantos, consisting of about six thousand lines. Scholars and historians are well acquainted with the name of St. Isidore; the personage whom Lope celebrated was a peasant born in that village which has since grown to be the capital of Spain, about the time when the body of St. Isidore was translated from Seville to Leon, and therefore christened after him. The legend is a modest one; and for any thing which appears in it, Isidro, if there ever were such a person, may have led a decent, clean and comfortable life. The miracles wrought by him, or for him, were of the most convenient kind—while he was at mass or at prayers the oxen ploughed by themselves, and sometimes a supernatural team assisted them, with angels as ploughmen: when he carried his master's corn to the mill, he would feed the birds as he went and give liberal handfulls to the poor; nevertheless, however, small the quantity which was put in the hopper, it produced always as much meal as if there had been no expenditure on the way. His kettle had the convenient virtue of producing as much food as he chose to bestow in alms; and he could with the same ease oblige Iban de Vargas his master by raising a child from the dead for him, or a horse. His wife, Maria de la Cabeza, was in every way a fit helpmate for such a husband; she was equally pious, equally charitable, and could, when it was required, equally work miracles. The devil, who on the whole gave Isidro very little trouble, afflicted him with a fit of jealousy, of which Maria effectually cured him by making use of her cloak for a boat, and crossing the Xarama upon it when that river was swollen by rain. During his life no Saint could be more gentle and obliging: after his death he became a severe creditor, and stood upon the point of honour with all the punctiliousness of a newly made grandee. A lady vowed to contribute a certain sum toward the expenses of his canonization, if the marriage of her sister should be effected according to her desire; the marriage took place, the payment was forgotten, and Isidro sent his wife with a swarthy and stern alguazil leading a black dog in a chain, to arrest her in a dream. A cavalier made a similar vow, if by the Saint's favour he might obtain the lady whom he loved; and he promised to make the offering on his wedding-day;

Eu lhe disse; Senhor, nam hey de entrar

Nem menos entrarey cm Palestina,
Senam emmascarado, e com cautella.
Porque dizem os meninos da doutrina
Que quanto Frey Torcato fez primeyro,
Foy por vossa mercè posto em ruina.
Deytou Frey Lope maŭ do seu tinteyro,

E com elle me fez hum horrendo tiro; Virey The as costas, deo-me no trazeyro; Lancey por elle entam hum gram suspiro, E para Lope bravo e agastado,

Humilde e braudo me revolvo e viro, Fechou-me a porta, fuy me envergonhado.'

A Fenis Benascida Vol.v. p. 13, 14.

-on the wedding day he was too happy to remember his debt:before the wedding guests had departed, he was called away from the table by an old man whom he had no power to resist,-it was Isidro himself, who led him to the church in which the offering ought to have been made, and, telling the terrified and confounded bridegroom to remember, and discharge his debts, withdrew into his tomb, and left him to pass the night there as pleasantly as he could.

Saints and miraculous images come into fashion in catholic countries for a season, like mineral springs and quack medicines, and Isidro happened to be in full vogue when Lope flourished. Philip III. had been dangerously ill with a fever at Casarrubios, a small town about thirty miles from the capital; the people of Madrid being as devout as they were loyal, sent the body of Isidro in procession to visit him; the king recovered; the physicians were allowed as little merit as in all likelihood they deserved, and Isidro had the whole credit of the cure. Such a cure at once established his reputation; it did not become his Catholic Majesty to be ungrateful; Isidro had done much for him, and happily it was still in his power to do something for Isidro; for though he was not the fountain of ecclesiastical honour, no person had better interest at the fountain head, or could solicit a Saintship for a favourite with surer prospect of success. Measures accordingly were taken for Isidro's apotheosis, and while the process was going on at the court of Rome, Lope, whose piety was completely in the mode, celebrated his history in a long poem. It is written in the Copla Real, a measure composed of quintillas, or stanzas of five lines. The following passage will at once exemplify the metre, and explain the poet's reason for preferring it.

Si os pusiere por objeto
De tantos algun discreto
Que sois humildes y
Dezid que son Castellanos
Los versos como el sujeto.
Todo paxaro en su nido

Natural canto mantiene,
En que a ser perfeto viene,
Porque en el canto aprendido
Mil imperfeciones tiene.'

ff. 2.

If some critic too perverse
Should among thy faults rehearse
What he calls thy creeping strain,
Say the subject is of Spain,
Spanish therefore is the verse.

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Every bird that free as day

Sports his native woods among
Warbles well its native song:
Is it taught another lay?

Then it falters and goes wrong.

In conformity with this opinion, which however was merely taken up for the occasion, he justifies his choice in the preface, and gives the preference to the vernacular metres over those which Boscan and Garcilaso, at Navagero's instigation, had introduced from the Italian. He would have done well in acting upon this opinion, if while he adopted one of the old Castillian metres he could at the same time have imitated the condensation of thought and terseness of expression which characterize the famous coplas of Manrique, or if he could even have rivalled the skill which is displayed in the Gloses upon that exquisite poem,—a poem so inimitable in its execution, that it is as impossible to translate it as to paint the fragrance of a rose, or the sound and the motion of a waterfall. But in whatever metre Lope de Vega wrote, the characteristic vices of his style predominated. It was impossible to cure him of what D. Francisco Manoel calls his looseness.-Whatever might be the subject, away he went after every will-ofthe-wisp which started up in his fancy, and these digressions from the straight story are so capricious and so frequent, that it is an act of grace when he returns to the business of his narration, and you see no reason why he should ever get to the end. They called him the Potosi of rhymes; his wealth of words indeed was inexhaustible, and this betrayed him into a thoughtless and fatal prodigality. Lope observes with great delight that he, as well as Isidro, was a native of Madrid; wherever had been his birth-place, he says, he should have adored the saint with equal love; but he rejoiced more in having been born in Isidro's native place, though poor and trampled under foot, than he should have done had he been in any other place the heir of rank, honours, and prosperity. The early life and occupation of Isidro are prettily described: He is said to have learnt the language of birds; Lope we may be sure supposed this to be a miraculous gift; but there is a living artist of the first rank in English art, who having passed much of his time in boyhood alone, in lonely situations, and having ears as discriminative and as observant as his eyes, has acquired this knowledge, and in consequence almost as great a command of birds as a skilful apiarist possesses over bees: from the song of the parents he learns where the nest is situated, whether it contains eggs, or if the brood be hatched; and he knows the number of the young birds, and their age, before he sees them. This strange philosophy as Lope calls it, Isidro acquired by loving all created beings, and see

ing in all things their divine Author. The fields, the running waters, and the flowers were his books of divinity; oftentimes while he was absorbed in these studies the hours passed unperceived, and he returned home at evening with his scrip full and his stomach empty; and he walked beside his cattle instead of riding them, because, he said, the labour of the day had been enough for them. But the poem on the whole is even more loose and rambling than the Angelica or the Jerusalem;-the saint is favoured with a long theological discourse by an angel, in which, as one of our old authors says, edification becomes tedification,-and he makes a journey in a dream through the Holy Land, which the unmerciful poet describes step by step.

When the beatification of Isidro was effected, great rejoicings were made at Madrid, and among other festivities a justa poetica, or poetical tournament was celebrated. Prizes were proposed in nine contests, according to the number of the Muses. The first was for a cancion, or lyrical poem, which was to be in imitation of a favourite poem of Garcilaso; the subject was a procession which the people of Madrid made with the body of Isidro to the church of our Lady of Atocha in order to procure rain after a three years' drought, the object being of course immediately and effectually obtained. The muse Calliope offered as a reward for the best piece on this theme, a silver fountain of the value of four hundred reals; for the secoud, an image of the saint illuminated and adorned with gold, of the value of twenty crowns; and for the third, a piece of plate worth an hundred and fifty reals. For a sonnet upon the miracle of the angels ploughing for Isidro while he was at mass, Clio offered as her three prizes, a jar of dead silver worth five-and-twenty ducats, an escritoire of ebony and ivory worth sixteen, and a pair of pearlcolour silk stockings, with white garters and open-work of gold. The muse Erato required four decimas upon the miracle of the fountain which Isidro produced when his master was thirsty; the prizes were, two silver candlesticks worth thirty ducats; a gold emblem of the Trinity, valued at a hundred and fifty reals; and six ells of satin, three black and three lion-coloured,-a colour which it would be in vain to inquire for in these days by that name. The fourth subject was the procession of the saint's body to Casarrubios, when he was called in to the king; this was Thalia's subject; it was to be celebrated in four octave stanzas, and the prizes were, a golden cord worth thirty ducats; a golden book (probably for a comfit-box) worth sixteen; and six ells of pearl-coloured taffeta. For the fifth, Melpomene proposed four lines to be glosed, a golden Agnus Dei weighing thirty ducats; a chain, de resplandor de precio, which would go twice round the neck and was worth twenty ducats; and a belt of gold embroidery, valued at a hundred and fifty reals. The

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