Collections of this kind seem to have appeared as early as the fifteenth century.. Writers on literature, however, usually refer to the Cancioneiro, which was printed in the year 1516, by Garcia de Resende, a man of talent, who flourished at the courts of John II. and Emanuel the Great.* A later collection of the same kind, which was edited by Father Pedro Ribeyro, professor of poetry, in the second half of the sixteenth century, has never yet been printed. The manuscript is dated 1577.t According to the statements of writers who seem to have been acquainted with Garcia de Resende's work, it would appear that this old Portuguese Cancioneiro contains many more poetic names than the better known Spanish collection of the same kind, and that among these names are several writers who lived in the fourteenth century. Here the author of this history of Portuguese literature, who has vainly endeavoured to render himself acquainted with Garcia de Resende's interesting collection, must deplore that he is now compelled to leave a chasm which cannot be easily filled up; for this certainly is the place in which it would be most proper to endeavour to discover, in those

* What is stated by Barbosa Machado shews how highly Garcia de Resende was esteemed by his contemporaries.

† Barbosa Machado likewise gives an account of this collection under the head D. Pedro I. p. 540, a place in which such a notice would scarcely be looked for.

This is expressly mentioned by the Spanish writer Sarmiento, who says: -El cancionero Portuguez contiene muchissimos mas poetas que el Castellano. Este contiene solos los del siglo xv. pero aquel contiene algunos del Siglo xiv.-Obras posth. p. 323.

features, which were doubtless common to all, or at least to most of the Portuguese lyric bards of the fifteenth century, the nature of the original difference of Portuguese and Spanish genius. It may, however,

be presumed that the Portuguese poets, who were at this period so much more numerous than the Spanish, had advanced no farther than the latter in poetic refinement, for even Bernardim Ribeyro, called the Portuguese Ennius,* who lived until the commencement of the sixteenth century, and who is more celebrated than any other poetic writer of the fifteenth century, does not surpass the authors of the old Spanish ballads, in any thing connected with the cultivation of genius and the improvement of poetic language. Thus in all literary probability the Portuguese Cancioneiro geral is merely a companion work to the Spanish collection. But the preponderating number of the poetic writers of Portugal, compared with those of Spain during the fifteenth century, is a circumstance particularly deserving of notice, since it proves that the soil of Portugal was then, as well as at an earlier period, even more fertile than Spain in poetic genius. Still, however, this indicates no peculiarly eminent talent. It is also but fair to observe, lest the superior number of the Portuguese poets, in proportion to the limited extent of their native land, should be too highly estimated, that in the fifteenth century, the Castilian monarchy was not what it now is; for it was bounded on the south by

It will soon be necessary to make this author the subject of a particular notice.

the Moorish kingdom of Granada, and on the east by the Arragonian dominions, where the Limosin language exclusively prevailed.


Narrative and particularly historical romances seem ́never to have been so highly esteemed by the Portuguese as by the Spaniards. It is probable that in this class of composition the Portuguese merely imitated the Spaniards, whom they instructed, on the other hand, in bucolic poetry.*

The enthusiasm with which the Portuguese devoted themselves to the cultivation of lyric poetry in their native tongue, was not abated by the passion for latin poetry, which towards the close of the fifteenth century prevailed in Portugal as well as in Italy. This literary coincidence was probably occasioned by the commercial intercourse which then subsisted between Portugal and Italy. The fame of Angelo Poliziano attracted one of his most ardent admirers, the ingenious Henrique Cayado, better known by the name of Ermigius, from Portugal to Italy, where he entered the ranks of the revivers of latin poetry. Cayado was imitated by a considerable number of Portuguese writers who became celebrated for

* I have met with no notice of a Romanceiro distinguished from the Portuguese Cancioneiro by any remarkable number of narrative romances.

the composition of latin verse.* But it does not appear that the national poetry, in the vernacular language, was in any way neglected or despised by the Portuguese nobility; and the favour of the great exercised a more powerful influence over the poetic spirit of the nation, than the example of the learned. There is also very little ground for supposing that the Portuguese writers endeavoured to form the romantic poetry of their country on the model of the antique. A correct notion of the essential distinction between romantic and classic composition secured at this period the Portuguese as well as the Italians against the introduction of incongruous and spurious forms in their poetry; and taste was not yet sufficiently cultivated to admit of a judicious union of the classic and the romantic styles.


The general improvement of the language, and the renewed intimacy with ancient literature, had even as early as the first half of the fifteenth century an advantageous influence on the Portuguese chronicle writers. At this period a very copious chronicle of the reign of King John I. of Portugal, was written in the Portuguese language, by a knight and statesman, named Fernando Lopes. This writer distinguished himself as early as the reign of King Duarte, or Edward, whose successor, Alphonso V. in the year 1449, conferred on him the

Dieze, in his Remarks on Velasquez, p. 76, has collected notices of the lives of those Portuguese who in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries distinguished themselves by the composition of latin verse,


dignity of Cronista, or state-historiographer.* narrative style of this diligent compiler is, indeed, quite as dull and monotonous as that of the older Portuguese chroniclers; but he obviously made efforts to express himself with a certain degree of dignity. He neglects no opportunity of making his historical characters deliver speeches, after the manner of the ancient writers; and a certain degree of energetic simplicity is to be found in some of those harangues.†

According to the testimony of Barbosa Machado, Lopes wrote several chronicles; only one was however printed, a damaged copy of which I have now before me. It is entitled: Chronica d'El Rey D. Joaõ I. de boa memoria &c. composta por Fernam Lopes. Lisboa 1644. With Zurrara's continuation it forms one thick folio volume. It is singular enough that in these old Portuguese chronicles, the word Rey (King) is always preceded by the Castilian article El, instead of the Portuguese 0. Thus El Rey, united as if forming one word, has become in the official stile of Portugal the substitute for O Rey.

†The following speech, which is short, and is not badly conceived, may be transcribed here entire as an interesting specimen of Portuguese prose of the fifteenth century. Nuno Alvarez, who commands the Portuguese army against the Castilians, whom his brothers have joined, thus addresses his companions in arms:

Amigos, eu nam sey mais que diga do que vos jà tenho dito, però ainda vos quero responder a isso, que me dissestes. Quanto he o que dizeis: que os Castellanos sam muytos, et vem grandes Capitanes, et senhores com elles, tanto vos serà mayor honra, et louvor de serem por vós vencidos, ca jà muytas vezes aconteceo os poucos vencerem muytos, porque todo o vencimento he em Deos, et nam nos homens. Na outra cousa, em que duvidaes, segundo parece, que he a vinda de meus Irmaõs em sua companhia, a isso nam temais por nenhuma guisa, nem Deos quizesse tal, que nenhum por mim fosse enganado. Ca eu nao os hey por meus Irmanos nesta parte, pois que vem por desviar a terra,

« VorigeDoorgaan »