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left by Berni. Montalvo had no such plea for adding his supplement to Amadis ; the design. was compleat, and whatever he added to the finished structure could only mar its proportions. It is dangerous to attempt subjects which have been ennobled by a great master. Even the Greek Tragedians were not equal to the task of dramatizing the characters of Homer : they could not bend the bow of Mæonides. They teach us to despise Ajax, and to dislike Ulysses; for they attribute nothing but cunning to the one, and only brutal courage to the other. They caught the outline, but the finer shades, and discriminating lines escaped them. In our own literature we have an illustrious instance; who can tolerate the tale of Paradise Lost in the rhymes of Dryden's play? It is fortunate for the fame of even Milton, that he did not execute his design of writing a second Macbeth.
When the Curate purged Don Quixote's library with fire, he spared three romances ; Tirante the White, for its quaintness ; Palmeirim of England, partly for its merit, and partly because by some unaccountable blunder, he fancied that it was written by a King of Portugal; Amadis of Gaul, because it was the first of the kind, and the best.
The censure of Cervantes was more efficient than his praise. Lobeira, like Ariosto, would
have received no injury from his ridicule, if like Ariosto he had stood alone. But the old judgement was reversed, the proscription acted like the laws of treason in the East, and the father suffered for the faults of his worthless children. Montalvo and his imitators sheltered themselves under a great name; the Sergas of Esplandian is called the fifth book of Amadis of Gaul, the histories of Esplandian's son, and his son's son, were the sixth, seventh, and eighth; and thus they went on from generation to generation. Fortes creantur Fortibus might be their standing motto. Instead of concluding, Chronicle-like, with “he died, and his son reigned in his stead," they keep Amadis alive like a Patriarch, or an Adept; the father of a flock sees not so many generations sprung from him ; to such longevity do they prolong his life, that instead of fixing his birth not many years after the Crucifixion, it should have been dated some time before the Flood.
This perpetual succession of heroes was ill imagined. The son was always to exceed the father, and in his turn yield to the grandson; as our hosiers, besides the best stockings, sell the extra best, and the best superfine. Esplandian must fight with Amadis, and Lisuarte of Greece with Esplandian, and Amadis of Greece with Lisuarte. Hence also the ridiculous hyperboles ; when all the varieties of fighting had been exhausted by Amadis, it only remained to make taller giants for Esplandian, and give a stronger
scythe-sweep to his sword to mow them down. The fictions of Lobeira are more modest. Famongomadan and his family are but giants of the O'Bryan breed, with names, to the great merit of heir god-fathers, of a most giantly proportion. it the author of Amadis be compared in his battles with Ariosto, his descriptions will be found as lively and as varied, he brings every thing before the eye with the same poet's power, but he rarely or never so wantonly abuses his prerogative.
In one respect the after romances copy the original with undeviating servility; they all have their Amadis and their Galaor, the constant and the general lover. There is at least some morality in the preference, but all the first-born are illegitimate. The hero must be every way irresistible. The loves of King Perion and of his son are justified or palliated by a pledged promise, which the Catholic Church considers binding. Lobeira expressly says they were not without fault, because the promise had been so secret. Montalvo's morals are more casuistical and convenient. It is glory enough for me, says Urganda, when she gives the bastard sons of Galaor and King Cildadan as comrades to Esplandian, it is glory enough for me, since I can have no children myself, that these, by my means, have been born of others ; for they shall do such things for the service of God, that not only will they be forgiven who begot them against the command of the holy church VOL. I.
and I who was the cause, but it will be imputed to them as so great a merit, that they shall thereby obtain rest for their bodies in this world, and for their souls in the next. B. 4. ff. 270.
Montalvo and his followers have totally changed the machinery. The Urganda who appears to Galvanes and the Child of the Sea, is a true fairy, like Morgaine le Fay and the Lady of the Lake. Arcalaus is but a poor enchanter; he has only a room in his castle protected by a spell; his courage is more formidable than his black art, it is the fleetness of his horse that preserves him, not his magic. But the Urganda who sails about in the great serpent is an enchantress of a different species, and her rivals Zirfea and Melia are as tremendous as the Medea of classical romance.
The difference of religious temper is remarkable. Vasco Lobeira, who had never borne arms against any but the Castilians, made his hero fight with Christian enemies, and only now and then kill a stray Pagan. In Montalvo's days the reign of persecution had begun; the expulsion or extirpation of the Moors was a favourite hope of the Spaniards after they had subdued them, and the heroes of Spanish romance naturally became the champions of the faith. It is no wonder that the original work differs so materially from the swarm of imitations! Tressan need not have supposed that they must have been written in a different country to account for its superiority. Lobeira could paint heroes from the life. The fame
of the Black Prince and the odour of his virtues were still fresh in Spain. It was the age of chivalry, the noon-day of heroism and honour. A Portugueze, one of the good and loyal Portugueze as their own excellent chronicler calls them, who fought at Aljubarrota, for King Joam of good memory, might conceive the character of Amadis. Nuno Alvares Pereira might be his living pattern. But a Spaniard who described humane and generous valour in the days of Ferdinand and the Austrian family, could paint only from a dim recollection of the past. A century the most eventful of any in human history had changed every thing, the mode of warfare, the politics, the religious feelings of Europe were all altered. The Inquisition and the house of Austria, two curses more fatal than all the plagues of Egypt, were established in Spain, and her civil and religious liberties were destroyed.
Inferior as these after-books of Amadis certainly are, they form so singular an epoch in the history of literature that an abridgement of the whole series into our language is to be desired. Should this be attempted, it must be from the Spanish, not from the Bibliotheque des Romans, nor from the versions of D'Herberay. D'Herberay has omitted much that is curious in manners, and inserted much that is abominable in morals; he is inaccurate and obscene. There is occasionally, though but rarely, a rude and savage nakedness in the original which I have veiled. The French