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petual allusions to incidents of the day, indeed, this may be, and has been, efor to passages in contemporary authors fected with much skill by Gries, by the or plays, which are made the subject of adoption of some equivalent in the satire or praise;- to prevailing fashions, German language sutlicient to give an absurdities, proverbial expressions, or idea of the Spanish dramatist's mean. popular ballads of the time-many of ing, without à formal explanation; but which would now baffle the research not unfrequently this has been found, of the best Spanish scholar and anti- even by Gries, with all his metrical fa. quarian. Recollecting by what slow cility, his perfect knowledge of the ori- . degrees, and by means of what a com- ginal, and unwearied pains, to be im. bination of labours, our own critical possible ; and although the words are commentaries on Shakspeare, imper- literally translated, their spirit and fect as they still are, have grown into meaning does not appear in the Gershape, we could not, indeed, hope man. A short accompanying commenthat any single individual, whatever tary, such as that of which some brief might be his learning or his enthusi- specimens are given by Schmidt, asm for his task, could hope to dis- (Wiener Juhrbücher, vols. xvii. xvïïi. pel the obscurity which hangs over and xix. Anzeige Blatt,*) would be many parts of Calderon—to reform the
invaluable, in explaining the leading many errors of the text-or to supply allusions to those historical events of the defective lines which occur in many the day of which Calderon's dramas are of the plays, from any authentic read- full,t- -as well as to the popular modes ings. But much, we are persuaded, and passing subjects of interest--to the might be done by any one critically ac- dramas of Moreto, Mira d'Amescua, quainted with the original-approach- Montalvan, Molina, and De Hoz, or the
, ing the task with a due understanding of novels of Cervantes from Don Quixote I the peculiar views and feelings of the to the Jealous Estremaduran, to which poet, and confining himself to a few of Calderon constantly refers either the best specimens of Calderon's tragic with candid praise, or good-humoured and comic powers—to amend their pre- raillery:-pointing out the meaning of sent mutilated condition, and, by a ju- the plays on words which are perpedicious commentary, to render intelli- tually occurring ; a few of them exgible, and even pointed and appropri cellent, but the greater part forced and ate, much which at present appears trivial, and appearing to us doubly so, puerile, impertinent, or absolutely un- from the doubtful glimmering of meanmeaning. Even among the Germans, ing which we are able to discern in where masterly translations of select them. Asaninstance how inadequately plays of Calderon, by Schlegel, Gries, a mere translation, however literal, and Malsburg, (not to mention the in- must be to convey any idea of the alferior names of Bärmann and others,) lusions intended by Calderon, and on have appeared, there is an extreme want which doubtless the effect of his verses of any such commentary to explain the upon his audience mainly depended, allusions to passing events, or the double take a few verses from the opening meaning through which the plays on scene of the Dama Duende, (the Gob. words derive their point. Sometimes, lin Lady.) The Gracioso Cosme, in
* Kritische uebersicht und anordnung der Dramen des Calderon de la Barca. Mit bemerkungen ueber Quellen und Nachahmungen und Erlauterungen wichtiger Emzelnheiten.
† See for example the allusion to the baptism of the Prince of Asturias, and to the war of Savoy under Feria, La Dama Duende, Scene 1 ;-to the reception of the Infanta Maria in Vienna, before her nuptials with the King of Hungary, afterwards Ferdinand III., Mejor esta que Estava, Scene 1, Act I.;--to the festivities in honour of the Prince of Asturias, La Vanda y la Flor, Scene, 1. In fact, there is scarcely a drama of Calderon in which such allusions do not abound.
See allusions to verses in Moreto's Lindo Don Diego, in the Astrologo Fingido, the origin of Dryden's Mock Astrologer;-to Tirso de Molina's Combidado de Piedra, the original of Moliére's Festin de Pierre, and Shadwell's Don Juan, in the Mananas de Abril y Mayo; to Lopé's Melindres de Belise, in No ay burlas con el amor ;--to the Don Quixote, Dama Duende, Act I. ;-El Sitio de Breda, Manos Blancas no ofenden ;-to the Curious Impertinent, Cusa con dos puertas Mala és Guardar ;to the Jealous Estremaduran, in El escondido y la Tapada, and so on,
answer to his master's observation, sion of the baptism of the Prince of that they had come an hour too late Asturias, observes,to witness the festivities on the occaCome las cosas se aciertan,
Ah! how many things in life are O se yerran por una hora!
Met or miss'd but by an hour ! Por una hora que fuera
Pyramus, bad he but hasted Antes Piramo a la fuente,
One hour sooner to the fountain, No hallara a su Tisbe muerta
Had not found his Thisbe dead, Y las moras no mancharan;
And our mulberry dye were wanting(Porque dicen los poetas,
(For, with mulberry juice the poets, Que con arrope de moras
Say that tragedy was written ;)
Had he come but one hour later,
Tarquin would have found Lucretia Recogida, con lo cual
Safe retired within her chamber, Los autores no auduvieran,
And the tribe of learned authors Sin ser Vicarios, llevando
Need not have so stoutly wrangled,
Whether 't were a rape or no,
Ilad she had an hour's reflection,
Ere she leapt from off the turret, Echarse Hero de la torre,
Whether she should leap or tarry, No se echara es cosa cierta,
Hero would have wiser been; Con que le hubiera excusado,
And our Doctor Mira Mescua, El Doctor Mira de Mescia
Might have spared himself the trouble De haber dado a los teatros,
Of enriching our collections Tan bien escrita comedia.,
With so well composed a play. These instances quoted by the narrow and national prejudices on the Gracioso seem to us far-fetched and one hand, and from indiscriminate pointless enough ; but to the Spanish admiration and extravagant eulogy on spectators of the year 1629, when the the other, would be a most valuable Dama Duende was first played, they addition for the English reader. It had something of the same interest was unfortunate for the due appreci. which the parodies in the Rehearsal had ation of Calderon's dramatic powers, for those who were familiar with the that when attention was again called originals in the heroic plays of Dry, to the Spanish stage by the essays and den. The allusion to Pyramus and translations of Augustus William Thisbe is pointed against the tragedy Schlegel, the subject was taken up of that name by Pedro Rosete Niño; rather in a spirit of blind and superand the remark as to the mulberry stitious adoration, than of rational and juice probably embodies some of the intelligent admiration, of a genius unsatirical commentaries of the day upon questionably of a high order, but as that production. The Torquin and undeniably deformed by grievous erLucretia of Francesco de Roxas, a rors of taste. Calderon was at once celebrated cultist in style, and many exalted into an idol, an object of reveof whose dramas were played under rence, in whom all that in other men Calderon's name, is next referred to; was regarded as faulty was suddenly while the compliment paid to Mira de converted into beauty. Frederick Mescua has reference to his play of Schlegel, with all the zeal of a " new Ero, than a favourite on the Spanish convertite," did not hesitate to claim stage."
for the Catholic poet not only an While an explanation of the difficul. equality of rank, but a superiority ties and obscurities of the text would over Shakspeare, on the ground that thus be indispensable in any English the latter " has the fault of too often selection of the dramas of Calderon, a placing before our eyes, in all its myscandid and impartial criticism, both of tery and perplexity, the riddle of life, their general scope and of the details like a sceptical poet, without giving of their execution, freed alike from us any hint of the solution; while
Wiener Jahrbücher, vol, xliii. p. 112; and vol. xvii. Anzeige Blatt, p. 4.
in Calderon," the enigma of life is Pintor de su Deshonra, (The Painter not barely expressed, but solved;" of his own Dishonour ;)--the last, inthat he uniformly “ makes spiritual deed, conspicuous for gloomy power purification the result of external sor- but all of them tending to justify, and rows; that in him “
every thing is even to consecrate the crime of secret conceived in this spirit of Christian and barbarous murder, when honour love and purification everything appears to have been wounded, or even, seen in its light, and clothed in the as in the Medico de su Honra, where splendour of its heavenly colouring.”* the marriage ties have not been broken How far this may be applicable gen. in fact, but only in imagination. In erally to the religious plays of Cal- short, Frederick Schlegel has absurdly deron we shall not pretend to judge, applied, as a general characteristic of for our acquaintance with them is ex- Calderon, what is only true of a very tremely limited ; although, were we to limited and peculiar portion of his draw any conclusions from the Devon works. Many of his plays have tion of the Cross or the Purgatory of either no moral at all, or a very bad St Patrick, pieces which have been one: and, in point of a pure, elevate rightly characterised as the very su.
the very su. ed, and humanizing spirit, generally blime of Catholic antinomianism, we informing his works, no impartial should hold his solution of the riddle reader, in the least degree acquainted of life, and his scheme of spiritual pu- with the writings of both dramatists, rification, a most extraordinary one could ever hesitate to give the preferindeed.
ence to Shakspeare. But how perfectly erroneous and We feel it just as difficult to admit delusive is this observation of Schle- the high merits which have frequently gel, when applied to that large, been claimed for Augustus William and by far the most interesting Schlegel's estimate of Calderon, in class of Calderon's plays, the Co his “ Dramatic Course." It fills the medias de Capa y Espada - gay ear, indeed, with expressions which pieces of intrigue, in which the only have an air of much profundity, and morality is that which the Spanish philosophical generalization ; but, as code of gallantry and honour had for à characteristic of Calderon, nothing the time consecrated, and in which, can be more vague and unsatisfactory. after a series of perplexities, disguises, It is indeed surprising how a writer, duels, and white lies told without re- whose thorough acquaintance with morse, to deceive fathers or brothers, Calderon had been evinced by his the whole winds up with a marriage ! “ Spanisches Theater," and whose enIf the spirit of Christian love and thusiasm for his subject was unbounded, spiritual purification can be traced in could have submitted to the public a the temptation, fall, and restoration to criticism from which so little light as virtue of Cyprian in the Magico Pro- to Calderon's peculiarities, the points digioso, or in the heroic devotion of of distinction between him and Lopé, the martyr Ferdinand in the Constant or the merits or demerits of his prinPrince, what traces of their existence ciples of composition, can be gathered. are to be found in such gay imbro- We are glad to find our own view of glios as the Peor esta que estava, (It the vague and unsatisfactory nature of is worse than it was,) or its pendant, this celebrated effusion confirmed by Mejor esta que estava ? (It is better the authority of the accomplished than it was ;) in the bombastic nur. Spanish scholar and German critic, sery extravagances of the Puente de Solger. In his review of Schlegel's Mantible, (Bridge of Mantible,) which work, he observes——" At last follows Schlegel has unaccountably honoured the delineation of Calderon ; but it with a translation; or in those dark deals so entirely with externals, that tragedies of jealous vengeance which we rise from its perusal with entire recur so frequently in Calderon—such disappointment. How instructive as El Medico de su Honra, (The might the author have proved, who Physician of his Honour ;) A Secreto appears to have studied the poet with Agravio Secreta Venganza, (Secret peculiar preference, had he favoured Vengeance for Secret Injury ;) or El us with some intelligent insight into
* Lectures on the History of Literature. Lecture 12.
the character of that poet whom he points, we find it difficult, even after has tried to popularize in Germany, considerable study of the subject, to and in regard to whom the Germans, come to any satisfactory conclusion in as they so often do, have ran into a ourownminds: as, for instance, how far thoughtless and visionary admiration! Calderon adopted the affectation and But, in regard to the position which extravagance of the Estilo CultoCalderon occupies in art, nothing is the euphuism of Madrid_from choice, said; and the author confines himself or simply in compliance with a fashion either to general elucidations of the which he knew to be contrary to good Spanish character, or rhetorical eulo- taste and good sense, but believed to gies of the poet himself.
be indispensable to the popularity of As to the point of view from whence his dramas at Court. On this point, Calderon views human life, his man- we think the internal evidence of his ner of contemplating the world, his works extremely contradictory. It is characteristic qualities, his composi- certainly true, that no one can occation, and exposition, we find not a sionally express an image, or illustrate word."
a comparison more simply and effect. Where Schlegel has failed, we ively. certainly are not vain enough to think Witness the following quaint but we should succeed; on the contrary, forcible lines from the speech of the we confess we shrink from the hiz. captive Portuguese knight, Don Alvar ardous task of attempting a general de Viseo, in Saber del Mal y del characteristic of Calderon. In some Bien:En el teatro del mundo
On the theatre of earth
All mankind are merely players.
One enacts a sovereign king,
One a prince, and one a noble,
Unto whom the rest do homage ;
For the space and for the instant
That the part endures, he seems
Master of the wills of all;
But the play of life played out,
With the dropping of the curtain,
Death within the green-room brings
Al the actors to their level,
Gold may be the body's dress,
But the soul's is nobleness.
- A Secreto Agravio Secreta Venganza. Calderon sneers at times, too, at the professors of the Estilo Culto, including himself.
D: esos hyperboles llenos
---Cua! es Mayor perfeccion. And, again, in llombre pobre todo es Trazas, in the description of Clara.
Dejo a parte locutiones
Su frente campo de nieve. And yet to find a whole play, even in the first act of the much-lauded in those of a level and domestic char- Constant Prince, Calderon might acter, undeformed by some of the very dispute the palm of pompous affectation hyperboles or subtiities which he re. with the Italian Marino, or with the probates, would be difficult, if not im- prince of the Cultoristos, Gongora possible. In his more extravagant himself; and, like Shadwellplays, such as the Judas Muccabeus,
's Be own’d, without dispute, La Gran Zenobia, or La Hija del Throuzh all the realms of nonsense absolute.". Ayre, nay, we are constrained to add, The few remarks, then, with which
we intend to preface our translations, spective places, as in the world of realishall be confined to such points in the ty. The aetion seems to grow out of literary character of Calderon, as we their joint operation, as the boughs
, conceive to be attended with the least which spring from a trunk wliich has
been grafted, partake of the character I. That there are certain general of both the original trees. Hence as points of resemblance between the the same events, or the same combidrama of England and that of Spain nation of circumstances, produce the such as the disregard of the unities most opposite or varying effects on and the union of the comic and tragic different beings in the world of reality, in the same composition, is sufficiently so on Shakspeare's dramatic system, known. It is more important to dis- something of the same variety is ob. criminate the points of distinction be- tained. No one in his plays can pretween them. And here, in comparing dict, from the mere announcement of the general character of Calderon's the position in which a particular chardramas with those of Shakspeare, we acter stands, even combined with a at once perceive one important differ. general knowledge of his character,
The drama, as a picture of hu- such as that he is ambitious, jealous, man life, exhibits actions as resulting revengeful, and so on, what course the from the combined operation of two action is to take. Looking at it retroinfluences--the native character and spectively, we shall rarely fail to perdisposition of the actor, on the one ceive that it is in precise accordance hand, which may be considered as re- with what may be supposed to be the presenting the principle of free-will, result of the combined forces, subjecand the combination of external tive and objective, which have been circumstances, over which he has brought into collision ; but, as the ño control, which represent the an- possible combinations resulting from tagonist and necessitating principle. the ever-varying action of mind upon Man cannot, indeed, escape from the unvarying circumstances are endless, influence of circumstances, nor mo. it is impossible to anticipate them bedify his external position; but, ac- forehand; and the result, therefore, cording to the constitution of his possesses for us at once the charm own intellectual or moral being, these of nature and of novelty. circumstances act differently upon
On the Spanish stage, and particuhis volition, and lead to different re. larly in the dramas of Calderon, this sults. One man, in a certain position, balance between the principle of liberty yields to temptation; another struggles and that of necessity is by no means
1 against and overcomes it; a weak preserved. The independent energy mind bends submissively to fancied of character in a great measure disapobligations, which have no better pears; the human beings are surroundfoundation than fashion or national ed by certain external events, or by prejudice; a strong mind, in the certain real or supposed fixed principles same circumstances, rises above thesë, of religion and morality, which oper. and, under the direction of a higher ate upon them like so many necesmorality, braves the tyranny of cus
sities, against which, in general, they tom, and the opinion of the world. scarcely struggle, and never with any In the representation of this action hope or chance of success. What may and reaction of circumstances and char- have led to this radical distinction in acter upon each other; in the harmo- the spirit of the dramas of the two nious and natural adjustment of their countries, giving to that of Spain much respective provinces, so as neither to of the fatalistic character of the Greek, necessitate the action, as if by a blind is an enquiry both curious and diffi. fatality, nor, on the other hand, to insu- cult. A late German critic, Ulrici, late the characters from the operation in a comparative view of the dramatic of events, no one has ever been so suc- principles of Shakspeare, Calderon, cessful as Shakspeare. In his works, and Goethe,* to which we willingly the influence of circumstances on the acknowledge our obligations, and from one hand, and the natural strength of whose temperate, judicious, and intelcharacter on the other, keep their re- ligible criticisms, a far more satisfac
* Ueber Shakspeare's Dramatische Kunst, und Sein Verhaltniss zu Calderon und Goethe. Von Dr Hermann Ulrici.-Halle, 1839.