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absence of vigour and precision, which finds compensation in naturalness and charm. In a word, the Portu
guese have more poetical feeling than conscious art, and perhaps for this very reason Portugal has produced an astonishing number of spontaneous perfect lyrics:
"Fez huas lirias no som
Que mi sacam o coraçom."
The rivers of Portugal-the Mondego, Douro, Tejo crystallino, the doce Neiva, brando Lima, manso Leça— all have their poets. The lyric of Francisco de Sá de Menezes,1 addressed to the River Leça, is inimitable in the easy flow and inevitable grace of its verses:
Ó rio Leça,
Como corres manso!
Vão teus movimentos;
(River Leça, still,
Calm thy waters move
Thee no winds assail
Nor time's changes prove.)
1 1515-1584. The few of his poems that have survived fully confirm the praises of his contemporaries, Antonio Ferreira, Diogo Bernardes, etc. See Poesias de Sá de Miranda (ed. C. Michaëlis de Vasconcellos, 1885), Notas, pp. 749-751.
In the same spirit and with equal beauty of expression
Não causará em mim esquecimento,
O seu brando e suave movimento."
Portuguese literature, poor in clear-cut or striking effects, may not attract many readers, but, to those who study it, appears like a fair, humble shepherdess of the serra, with all the grace of the scented woods, pleasant streams, and flowered hills of Portugal:
"A serra é alta, fria e nevosa;
Vi venir serrana gentil, graciosa."
To write its complete history, embracing the literature
1 He was freed, among other Portuguese captives, by Philip II. 2 He celebrated the Lima continually (in O Lyma), and many years earlier he wrote to Sá de Miranda that his walks were ever along its banks:
"Agora rio abaixo, rio acima,
Que vae suavemente murmurando,
Só me vou pela beira do meu Lima.”
3 The best general sketch of Portuguese literature is to be found in Geschichte der portugiesischen Litteratur, von Carolina Michaëlis de Vasconcellos und Theophilo Braga (Grundriss der romanischen Philologie). Bd. 2. Abtg. 2 (sold separately); in Senhora Michaëlis de Vasconcellos' article in La Grande Encyclopédie (Portugal: Littérature), or in Mr. Edgar Prestage's article in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
of Galicia, ancient and modern, must be a task occupying many years. Perhaps, however, there is some danger at the present day lest, while learned critics, in a kind of literary spillikins, are skilfully sifting their facts and dates, the general reader may take less and less interest in the literature thus scientifically presented to him, and continue in scarceness. These straggling notes can lay no claim to original research, but may possibly serve as a stepping-stone till the crying need for a more thorough and complete study of Portuguese literature in English is supplied. The name of Mr. Edgar Prestage is well known to English readers. Probably no Englishman has so intimate an acquaintance with Portuguese literature, which he has studied for twenty years. There is, therefore, good reason to hope that he will supply this want and provide English students with the first history of Portuguese literature ever written in English.
No doubt it will come as a shock to many that Portugal has other subjects of interest to offer besides port-wine, revolutions, and rotative politics. Great indeed would be the reward of these chapters could they help to spread a juster, more sympathetic attitude towards this land of unfailing song, which throughout its history has bred many an
"Homem de braço e saber;"1
many, that is, capable of carrying through with sword and pen what Sir Peter Wyche in the seventeenth century described as "Performances of the Portuguese, notorious for the Wisdome of the Contrivance and Gallantry of the Execution."
1 It is the phrase of Sá de Miranda describing the Spanish poet, the Marqués de Santillana.