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come to sift the verity of this calculation, the first absurdity which stares us in the face is that it is made for seventy three complete years ;-that is, from the day of his birth to three months after the day of his death. The computation of verses has probably been made at the rate of two hundred per sheet, or one thonsand per day. Stans pede in uno he might have written many of his verses at this rate,-just as Signor Luigi Silvestri, who is now exhibiting as an improvvisatore in Italy, could talk them ;-but all his verses are not in the right butter-woman's trot to market,' and to suppose that he continued upon the “ false gallop' every day, is forgetting that "dinners and suppers and sleeping hours' must be excepted; and that a large deduction must be made for the avocations, the distractions, the enjoyments, and the troubles of this world. Bringing it, however, to something like proof, we will take the number of his plays at five hundred, and the length of each at what appears upon examination a fair average of 3000 lines; this gives a product of one million and a half: double it upon the very unlikely supposition that an equal number of his pieces have been lost, it will then be three millions; all his other verses do not nearly amount to half a million more; and though Lope himself says that what he had printed was but the smaller part of what remained to print, there is no reason to surmise that any thing was suppressed after his death that was in a state for the press; and as we know how little he was accustomed to correct his writings, it may fairly be inferred that whatever was found would have been considered by his executors, as it had been by himself, in a finished state.
The sum of Lope de Vega's works is thus reduced to about onesixth of the usual statement; and upon this computation it will be found that some of his contemporaries were as prolitic as himself. The Portugueze Fr. Francisco de S. Agostinho Macedo left behind him an hundred and six printed works, and thirty-one in manuscript; he estimated the number of his verses at a million and a balf, and the greater part of bis compositions were in prose. Vicente Mariner, a friend of Lope, left behind him three hundred and sixty quires of paper full of his own compositions, in a writing so exceedingly small, and so exceedingly bad, that no person but himself could read it. Lord Holland has given a fac simile of Lope's hand-writing, and though it cannot be compared to that of a living dramatist, one of whose plays in the original manuscript is said to be a sufficient load for a porter, it is evident that one of Mariner's pages would contain: as much as a sheet of his friend's, which would, as nearly as possible, balance the sum total. Buit upon this subject an epigram of Quarles may be applied, written upon a more serious theme.
"In all our prayers the Almighty does regard
The judgement of the balance, not the yard:
To buy his wares by weight and not by measure.' In the balance, the works of Mariner and Macedo have been bolls found wanting, and the breath of time has scattered them like chaff. Those of their more fortunate contemporary will presently be weighed for the reader's satisfaction; and with regard to the quantity it may be observed, that a complete edition of his writings would not much, if at all, exceed those of Voltaire, who, in labour of composition, for he sent nothing into the world carelessly, must have greatly exceeded Lope. And the labours of all these men shrink into insigniticance when compared to those of some of the schoolmen and of the Fathers.
Other writers of the same age obtained a wider celebrity; Don Quixote, during the life of its ill-requited author, was naturalized in countries where the name of Lope de Vega was not known, and Du Bartas was translated into the language of every reading people. But no writer ever enjoyed such a full share of popularity.
* Cardinal Barberini,' says the noble biographer, “ followed him withe veneration in the streets; the king would stop to gaze at such a prodigy; the people crowded round him wherever he appeared; the learned and the studious thronged to Madrid from every part of Spain to see this phænix of their country, this “ monster of literature;" and even Italians, no extravagant admirers in general of poetry that is not their own, made pilgrimages from their country for the sole purpose of conversing with Lope. So associated was the idea of excellence with his name, that it grew in common conversation to signify any thing perfect in its kind; and a Lope diamond, a Lope day, or à Lope woman, became fashionable and familiar modes of expresing their good qualities.'-vol. i. pp. 85, 86.
His poetry is said to have been as advantageous to his fortune as to his fame. Montalvan estimates the profits which he derived from his dramatic works at not less than eighty thousand ducats, and it is affirmed that he received presents from individuals to the amount of ten thousand five hundred more. Yet he is charged with complaining most unreasonably' of neglect, ill-usage, and poverty.
Who,' says Lord Holland, 'could read without surprize his letter to his son, dissuading him from the study of poetry as unprofitable, and, in confirmation of his precepts, lamenting his own calamities, in a strain more suited to the circumstances of Camoens and Cervantes than to the idol of the public and favourite of princes!' The complaint of neglect was certainly preposterous; but may there not be reason for suspecting that the account of his gains has been, as greatly exaggerated as that of his writings ? and is not his own authority upon this point more to be relied upon
than that of an eulogist who seems to consider the quantity of his works and the amount of his profits as the criterion of his merit ? Of how little iinportance now is the question either to Lope de Vega, or to the world! The permament rank which impartial time has assigned him in literature is a more interesting topic of inquiry, and may best be estimated from a review of some of his works :-we say some, because it may be safely asserted that no living person has read them all; and perhaps the number which we have gone through may be carried to the account of supererogatory labour and mis-spent time.
Lord Holland has been led to dwell upon the Arcadia longer, he says, perhaps, than its merits appear to justify, because it furnishes striking instances of the defects and of the beauties of Lope's style, and because the author bimself seems to have been singularly partial to it. He is said to have written it at the instance of the Duke of Alva, which seems to imply that the subject was prescribed. Pastoral romance had been made fashionable by Sannazaro, and still more so in Spain) by George de Montemayor; when Alva, therefore, took Lope under his patronage, he might probably have advised him to try his strength in competition with these successful authors. The work of Sannazaro has been considered as his model, and Spanish critics pronounce the initation to be decidedly superior to the original; but it is difficult to conceive how they should imagine it to be an imitation, there being no other resemblance than the identity of name, and the intermixture of poetry with prose. The Arcadia of Sannazaro is purely pastoral, and has as little fable as one of the eclogues of Virgit; it consists, indeed, of several eclogues, convected with no great art by interludes of prose, in which two or three stories are told of love and lamentation, almost all devoid of incident, and none of them leading to any end: we have sheep and goats, lambs and kidlings, carved bowls and oaten pipes, crooks and garlands, the loves and the doves, dark pines, tall cypresses and shadowy chesuuts, cool groves and mossy caves, and murmuring streams, as soothing and as soporific as the mellifluous language in which they are described. The author introduces himself by his own name, and by that of Sincero which he had adopted, and he concludes the work by travelling from Arcadia through the caverns of the Nymph under ground and under the sea, till he emerges in his own country and finds some shepherds of his acquaintance singing there in the same manner as the shepherds whom he had left in Greece.
It is related of Vauquelin des Yvetaux, that having lost his enploy at court, resigned his abbey of la Trappe, and retired to enjoy an epicurean life according to his heart's desire, he became 'somewhat deranged in mind as well as in morals, and his insanity
took a pastoral turn: so by the aid of strong fancy, converting his garden in the Fauxbourg Saint Germain into one of the vallies of Arcadia, he dressed himself like a shepherd of romance, and with a straw hat lined with rose-coloured satin, a scrip by his side, and a crook in his hand, he drove his imaginary flocks up and down the regular walks and allies of the garden, protecting them from the wolf, while his mistress, Mlle. Dupuis, who had been a street musician, paraded by his side in the same costume, and played the harp to the pastoral verses which he sang.– A French courtier and debauchee would seem one of the last persons to be possessed by the spirit of Arcadian romance. Had there not, however, been some powerful charm in pastoral composition, it could not have maintained its popularity from the time of Theocritus downward; and it is easy to discover wherein this charm consists. Whatever advantage there may be in the society and the accommodation which large towns afford, the taste for a town life is formed by habit and calculation, not by nature : children who are born in cities pant for the country as the hart for the waterbrooks; and the eagerness with which all who can gratify this natural desire fly in the summer to green fields, the fresh air and the open sky, evinces that even in maturer life the instinct is not extinguished. In those regions where pastoral composition originated, this instinct is not stronger than in our own less genial climate, but it exists perhaps more continually; for where shelter is far more frequently required from the sun than from bleak winds or rain, there is no season wherein natural scenery ceases to be delightful for recollection or for hope. The creaking of the nora or water wheel by which the gardens of Spain are irrigated, and which in itself is not more agreeable than the creaking of any other wheel, is enumerated by the people among the delights of the country, because its sound is associated in their minds with water and freshness and verdure: How willingly then would such a people resign themselves to waking dreams of groves, meadows, fountains and running brooks ;-and it is little more than a dream that pastorals in general excite, so even is their strain, and so little, the demand which they make upon the intellectual faculties.
The Spaniards received this mode of composition from Italy, and immediately set upon it their own characteristic stamp. George of Montemayor introduced a greater variety of poems, more reasoning, more passion, a more connected story, and the aid of magic: in choice of diction he was not inferior to Sannazaro, and in method and materials the advantage was on his side. Lope de Vega was a younger as well as a more aspiring writer when he wrote his Arcadia, -it has therefore the faults of youth, a stilted style, an amplification of thought, and an elaborate display of the common-places of a school-boy's learning; but in the style there is often felicity as well as force, and in the amplification a redundant ingenuity is manifested. Human feelings also are delineated with truth as well as power and passion; and although the meagreness of its fable might make it appear insipid and tedious to a hasty, an idle, or a presumptuous critic, he who should be in a state of mind and knowledge to appreciate it fairly, let him open the volume where he might, would feel himself engaged with no ordinary writer, and would not readily lay it down from weariness.
Lord Holland observes that the abstract of a work of this nature (for it must be considered as a poem) forms a very unfair criterion of its merit.' To a certain extent this is true; the execution both in poetry and painting being of such importance that, if this fails, it matters little what may have been the design. It is true also that no criterion of a work can be so unfair as an ignoraut or malicious abstract of its contents,-a secret so well understood that it is one of the commonest practices of impudent malignity. But even in pictures the conception is that part and that alone which can be cominunicated by words, which displays the mind of the painter and which can be made immortal, when all that is mechanical and material has perished: in this it was that Timanthes excelled Raffaello, and therefore he will outlive him. So in works of fine literature,—although it be certain that an abstract can no more represent the beauties of composition, than the description of a picture can convey a sensation of its colouring and effect, yet a fair summary enables the reader to understand in what spirit it is conceived, and to judge at least of the ground plan.
The fable of Lope de Vega's Arcadia is meagre, as we have already hinted; it may however be abstracted in a few lines, which will not be misemployed if there should appear reason for supposing that it is connected with a curious fact in Spanish literature. Anfriso, a young shepherd of such noble extraction that he believes Jupiter to have been his grandfather, loves and is beloved by Belisarda; but the parents of the damsel are in treaty for marrying her to Salicio, who was as rich as he was ignorant, as presumptuous as he was rich, as bold as he was unpolished, and as fortunate as he was unworthy. The artful suggestion of some of his rivals induces Anfriso's parents to send him with his flocks to a distant pasture,—Belisarda's father is called by business in the same direction, and takes his daughter with him; the lovers renew their meetings, and scandalous tongues are so busy upon the subject that she at length beseeches bim to absent bimself a while, for the sake of both. Accordingly he sets out for Italy, not as a shepherd, but as a traveller. Here he loses his way at night among the mountains, and comes to the cavern of a certain magician by naine