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than by many occasional reflexions, which though trivial in the present day, were at the commencement of the sixteenth century by no means common. allusion is made to the absurd notion of women in imagining they can secure the heart of a lover by the same persevering service which pleases themselves in the other sex.* By traits of this kind, and by the simple truth of description, this old Portuguese romance is sufficiently distinguished from the common class of romances of chivalry, which during the sixteenth century, became in a great measure the fashionable reading of the Spaniards and Portuguese. Spanish literature at that period could not boast of any work written in so cultivated a style, and yet that style soon afterwards became somewhat antiquated. From some passages in which allusion is made to Galician phrases, it is evident that the Portuguese in the age of Ribeyro, carefully distinguished their native tongue as a cultivated language, from the Galician, which had now become a common popular idiom.
* This passage may be regarded as a specimen of romantic didactic prosé:
Coitadas das mulheres que porque vem que as namoram os homens com obras cuidam que assi se devem elles tambem de namorar: et he muito pelo contrario, que aos homens namoramnos desdeis et presunçoens, apos huma brandura de olhos, asperesa muita de obras. Isto de seu natural lhes deve vir, porque sam rijos, que parece nam terem em muito senam o que trabalham muito. Nos outras boandas de nosso nacimento fazemos outra cousa: porem se elles com nosco entrassem a juizo, que razam mostrariam per si? Ca o amor que he senam vontade? Ella nam se dà, nem se toma por força, mas como quer que seja, ou pela desventura das mulheres, ou pela ventura dos homens.
In the polite literature of Portugal, Bernardim Ribeyro stands on the boundary of the old national and the modern taste, which at the commencement of the sixteenth century, began to be developed in Portugal as well as in Spain, in consequence of the imitation of the Italian style. In spite of all their defects and deformities, Ribeyro's verses as well as his prose romance, deserve to be honourably remembered, since they present remarkable monuments of the romantic character of the Portuguese at the period when the national greatness of that poetically organized people began suddenly to decline. A remnant of that character must, however, still be preserved, even by the Portuguese of the present day, otherwise a new edition of Ribeyro's romance would not at the end of the eighteenth century, have been presented to the Portuguese public, as a proof of the excellence of a language in which such a work was written.*
Among the contemporaries of Ribeyro the most distinguished was Christovao Falcao, or Christovam Falcam. He was a knight of the order of Christ, an admiral, governor of Madeira, and a celebrated poet in the age in which he lived. A long eclogue by this writer, which forms an appendix to the works of
*The publisher of the new edition of the Menina e Moça (see note p. 33.) expressly states in his preface, that by recalling public attention to that work, he proposes to refute the censures which have been pronounced on the Portuguese language.
Ribeyro,* so completely partakes of the character of the poems which it accompanies, that were it not for the separate title it might be mistaken for the production of Ribeyro himself. It therefore proves that Ribeyro's poetic fancies, his romantic mysticism, not excepted, were by no means individual. The fashionable form of the poetry of melancholy love in Portugal, was to complain and yet ostensibly affect to conceal itself. Thus, Christovao Falcao, by a slight change of his own christian name, gives the name of Crisfal to the shepherd who poetically represents himself. The subject of the poem is the love of Crisfal and Maria, the shepherdess who is the heroine of the eclogue. This shepherdess is evidently a real personage, and it is mentioned by writers on literature that the poet's mistress had the same christian name; she was a Maria Brandam. The rural scenery described in this eclogue, like that in the poems of Ribeyro, is all national: the Tagus, the Mondego, and the rocks of Cintra, are introduced here as in Ribeyro's romance. The story is simple. Two lovers are separated by the severity of their parents. The shepherd relates his sorrows, and calls to mind his past days of happiness. This reminiscence gives birth to a kind of tale which is interwoven with the complaints of the shepherd. The verses are redondilhas, and the eclogue consists of upwards of ninety of the ten line stanzas called decimas, exclusive of some cantigas in shorter stanzas, which are inter
* Egloga de Christovam Falcam, chamado Crisfal, annexed to the old edition of the Menina e Moça. See note page 33.
spersed through the work. The language and style, particularly in the lyric complaints, are even more antiquated than Ribeyro's. The most truly beautiful portion of the poem is the description of a brief interview and renewed farewell between Crisfal and Maria,* particularly towards the close.† The poet throws a
* Depois de me visto ter
dessejo do meu amor
ou crerei ao meu temor.
A ysto bem sem prazer
me tornou entam assi
com voz de pouco poder:
e temo que me engano.
veil of mystery over the subsequent fate of Crisfal, and does not choose to hint whether the hapless shepherd survives. A nymph who has heard his complaints inscribes them on a poplar, in order, as it is said, that they may grow with the tree to a height beyond the reach of vulgar ideas.* So delicate a winding up of
que as lagrimas sam salgadas,
Soltei as minhas entam
Amor de minha vontade
ora non mais! Crisfal manço
bem sey tua lealdade.
Ay que grande descanço
he falar coma verdade.
Eu sey bem que nam me mentes,
que o menter he diferente, nam fala dalma quem mente. 'Crisfal nam te descontentes
se me quereo veer contente.
* Isto que Crisfal dezia,
Assi, como o contava,
Dizem, que foi seu intento