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Chill'd by my nation's cold neglect, thy fires
Oh, be it thine these glories to renew,
And John's bold path and Pedro's course pursue: Snatch from the tyrant noble's hand the sword, And be the rights of human-kind restored.
E nao sei por que influxo do destino,
Olhai lédos vaō, por
Quaes rompentes leões, e bravos touros,
A perigos incognitos do mundo,
Por servir vos, a tudo aparelhados,
Canto x. str. 145.
The statesman prelate to his vows confine,
The priest, in whose meek heart heaven pours
Mas eu que fallo, humilde, baixo e rudo,
Para servir vos, braço as armas feito,
De quem virtude deve ser prezada.
Canto x. str. 159.
Miscellaneous Poems of Camoens: Gil Vicente; Rodriguez Lobo; Cortereal; Portuguese Historians of the Sixteenth Century.
We have now completed our long examination of the great master-piece of Portuguese poetry. The Lusiad is a work of a conception so wholly new, and at the same time so lofty and national in its character, that it appeared important to give some account not only of its most celebrated episodes, but also of its general plan and of the objects which the author had in view. We dwelt with pleasure on the union of so many claims to renown advanced by the poet in favour of a nation so little known; and we beheld as it were the completion of Spanish poetry, in the epic, which alone remained to be added to the literature of the two nations. Scarcely any other Portuguese poetry is known beyond the limits of the kingdom, and even the professed students of foreign literature are often unacquainted with the names of the numerous other poets of
Portugal. Their works are, indeed, so rare, that I have with difficulty been enabled to obtain a small number by repeated journeys and researches into all the public and private libraries. The Portuguese themselves, for the most part, are little better acquainted with their own poetic treasures. I have known men who, on their return from Lisbon, were desirous of purchasing a few volumes as a kind of remembrance of their residence in that singular country, but who invariably received the same answer from the booksellers, whose knowledge of the Portuguese poets was confined to Camoens alone.
The species of composition in which the Spaniards most excelled, and with which they are most abundantly supplied, is almost entirely wanting to Portugal. Her dramatic literature presents a barren field. There is only one solitary poet, of any name, who has written in the spirit of his nation. This is Gil Vicente, of whom we shall have occasion to say more hereafter. Their other pieces consist of comedies and classical tragedies, composed rather on the model of the ancients, than with a view to the dramatic wants of the nation. These are rather essays of power by a few distinguished characters, in a career wholly new, than finished productions, calculated to form the elements of a school and to be relished by the public. Their theatrical success was short, and the stage of Lisbon exhibits little else be
sides Italian operas and Spanish comedies represented in their original form and language.
This, however, will be found to be the only branch of poetic composition which this ingenious nation has not cultivated with success. The same chivalric and romantic spirit which inspired the Spaniards, was felt, perhaps, in a superior degree by the Portuguese, inasmuch as they were called to the performance of great exploits with far inferior means. Engaged in continual combats with enemies, from whom they recovered their country foot by foot; without communication with the rest of Europe, with the single exception of a rival nation in possession of all their frontiers; inclosed between sea and mountain, and compelled to risk upon the ocean that adventurous spirit too closely circumscribed within their own narrow boundaries; habituated to the tempest and to the imposing image of the infinite which boundless seas present to the imagination, the Portuguese, likewise, were familiar with the most delightful and magnificent objects in their own country. Here they found every thing which could develope the powers of imagination, and imbue the very soul with poetry; a land of myrtles and of orange bowers, delicious valleys, and mountains whose wild ranges comprehended all the variety of forms and temperature in the world. If their language