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ART. I.-El Teatro Español; ó Coleccion de Dramas escogidos de Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca, Moreto, Roxas, Solis, Moratin, y otros célebres Escritores; precedida de una breve Noticia de la Escena Española y de los Autores que la han ilustrado. Num3. I.-XX. Londra. 1819, 1820, 1821.
THE HE drama of Spain, although its influence has been felt both in France and in England, is by no means generally known beyond the precincts of the Peninsula: the fame, in fact, of its writers has been, as it were, buried beneath their abundance. Whatever real merit Lope de Vega may possess, his celebrity is entirely ascribed to the marvellous facility with which he poured forth his prolific writings; and the long array of Calderon's works, consisting of sixteen volumes of plays and autos, is sufficient to appal a foreign reader. Occasionally the success of a particular imitation, the Cid of Corneille for instance, has excited the public curiosity to trace the source of so noble a poem; but in general the imitators themselves have awakened so little interest, that, instead of being able to reflect back their own fame on the originals to which they were indebted, they have themselves quietly sunk into neglect and disregard. Of the French writers who have thus taken refuge from the charge of plagiarism in utter oblivion, we might instance Quinault and Thomas Corneille; nor has the name of Dryden tempted any of his critics to trace back his Almanzor and the heroes of his Indian Emperor to their prototypes on the Spanish stage.*
If, however, there were no intrinsic merit in the works of the Spanish dramatists, it would still be a worthy object for the philosophy of literary history, to examine into the remarkable coincidence, in the manner of composition adopted by our own early writers, with that of Lope de Vega and Calderon. Nor has this forcible argument in their favour escaped the notice of those German critics, who have waged war so powerfully and successfully against the rigid and arbitrary rules of the French Aristarchs. Now, without recurring to the principles of romantic poetry' established by our theorizing neighbours, which we confess, after great toil and attention, we are unable clearly to
* Fletcher also appears to have had considerable intercourse with Spain. Three of his plays are from the Novelas di Cervantes. We think too that we trace his Elder Brother in the Di una Causa dos Effectos of Calderon. The supernatural part of Massinger's Virgin Martyr reminds us strongly of the same author's religious pieces.
VOL. XXV. NO. XLIX.