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FROM THE END OF THE THIRTEENTH TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
RISE OF PORTUGUESE POETRY.
THAT songs in the Portuguese language were sung on the banks of the Tagus, before any kingdom of Portugal existed cannot be doubted. Indeed even Spanish writers, who have considered the question with impartiality, do not deny that Portuguese poetry flourished at an earlier period than the Castilian; and all accounts of the first dawnings of modern civilization in Portugal denote an original poetic tendency in the national genius. That destiny, however, by which Portugal has been from an early period politically severed from the other parts of the Peninsula could alone have prevented the Portuguese poetry from being like the Galician,
completely absorbed and lost in the Castilian; for the Galician and Portuguese languages and poetry, were originally, and even after the separation of Portugal from the Castiles, scarcely distinguishable from each other.*
The foreigner, who is not prepossessed by any national partiality, in favour of either the Castilian or the Portuguese modifications of the Hispanic romance, might, perhaps, be induced to conclude that poetry would on the whole have sustained no essential loss, had the language of Portugal been rejected by literature, and reduced like the Galician dialect to the rank of a common popular idiom; for the Castilian poetry was from its origin, so closely allied to the Portuguese, that it is certain the former might easily have incorporated into itself the latter without producing the slightest inconsistency in any of its characteristic features. Still, however, to him who is capable of feeling the more delicate relations of the beautiful in nature and in art, it must be an increased pleasure to hear the same melody performed on two similar, yet differently constructed instruments. The historian of Portuguese literature ought, therefore, to direct his particular attention to those apparently unimportant, and yet in themselves very remarkable properties, whereby Portuguese poetry has in the varied progress of its cultivation more or less deviated from the Castilian, or, as it is now usually styled, the Spanish;† and also to the manner in which
* See the History of Spanish Literature, p. 12 and 17. †The Portuguese of former times never resigned the common denomination of Spaniards to the inhabitants of the Castilian