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well knew what an heroic poem ought to be; and has described* with great force and spirit the qualities with which a writer who undertakes so arduous a task ought to be endowed : among other points, he insists upon the necessity of forming a careful and coherent plan. This part of a poet's business, Lope de Vega seems never to have taken into consideration. He wrote bis Angelica, not indeed like Sir Richard Blackmore, to the rumbling of his chariot wheels, but to the rattling of cordage and the flapping of sails, the roaring of the winds, and the voice of the stormy sea : it was begun and finished on board the Armada, the general and himself, he says, completing their enterprizes at the same time; he might have added, with equal ill success,- for Lope throughout the work seems as little to have seen the way before him, as the general, when the tempests and the victorious English drove his scattered fleet into the German ocean.
It would be wasting time to analyze a poem like this, where the parts have as little beauty in themselves, as connexion with each other; and the whole is without regularity, order, purport or interest of any kind. The Beauty of Angelica gives name to it, because a certain king of Seville, who dies for grief when his wife has died of the same passion upon marrying him, bequeaths his kingdom to that person, whether man or woman, who should be pronounced by seven royal judges superior to every other candidate in personal charms. The stir which such a legacy excites in the female world, is described with much liveliness, and the grave arguments of the judges are not ill represented.
One grave old judge affirmed it was their place,
The unerring laws of beauty to define,
As sculptors try their work by rule and line;
Is the result, he therefore must opine
For beauty is the symmetry of parts,
There is the magnet which attracts all hearts;
Harmonious union to the whole imparts,
* Vol. I. Book II]. p. 161.
O dotards, through your spectacles who pry,
And ask the measure of a lovely face;
And ye may then I ween compute the space
'That intervenes between the earth and sky. * Among other candidates was a queen of Media, by name Nereyda, so ugly, that if it were ever true what slanderers have said, that women, like crocodiles, were bred by putrefaction in the slime of the Nile, it could only be true of her. Her appearance enables the poet, by a happy transition, to introduce his lieroine.
Phantom of Lethe, wherefore art thou seen,
An inky spot upon this tablet white,
Who to the feast of Phineus took their flight?
Or has thy mirror thus deceived thy sight?
That gathers in the East before the day,
The orb of fire, which slowly wins its way;
Too suddenly had felt the dazzling ray,
Arose in all the lustre of her light.t The description of Angelica, which immediately ensues, is justly censured by Lord Holland, as being long, cold, minute and common-place :--but there is more discrimination,' he adds, in the character of Medoro's beauty, than is usual in Lope's poetry.'** Tal viejo dize que mirar importa DIedid el ayre'de unos bellos ojos
Si ygual el cuerpo con el rostro sea, Y me direys del cielo al suelo el trecho.' Qual suele escultor que el leño corta;
Canto III. ff. 30. Y por medidas justas le tentea,
+ A donde vas fantasma del Letheo, Que en la inateria alarga, quita, acorta, Mancha de escura tinta en blanco raso ?
Para que salga lo que fue la ydea, Harpia entre las mesas de Fineo, Que la beldad de Tisbe sin medida
Aragne entre las musas del Parnaso? Con arte quieren que se juzgue, y mida.
Piensas que el premio se concede al feo? Otro le aprueva, y dize que consiste
Hante engañado o el espejo a caso ? En una union de miembros la hermosura, Sal del templo de Venus, y no acuerdes Y que si ygual aqueste al otro assiste
Que se apaguen en ti sus hachas verdes. Entonces es períeta la figura;
Mas bien sera que vayas como niebla Y que de esta unidad se adorna y viste
Para que venga el sol cou dulce salva, Del cuerpo la acabada compostura ; Por cuya sombra y frigida tiniebla Y que por esso la beldad tenia
Qual suele por la noche rompa el alva. El vonbre de concordia y armonia.
Que ya de resplandores cerea y puebla,
salva O caducos juezes con antojos
La èstrella de la Reyna del Cathaya Quereis medir un rostro, un tierno pecho, Que deshara tu sonibra con su rayo.'
passage which is thus commended, is very happily rendered by his lordship
• And with her he, at whose success and joy
The jealous world such ills had suffer’d, came,
A softer frame than haply knighthood needs;
On foot a gallant youth, on horse an airy knight.'+ Among the oddities of this poem, Lord Holland extracts an inscription under a golden statue of Philip III. as being . probably the only eight Latin lines of titles and names which are to be found in modern metre, and in a poem written in modern language:
Phillippo Tertio, Cæsari invictissimo,
Omnium maximo regum triumphatori,
Catholici secundi successori,
Ecclesiæ Chrisii et fidei defensori,
Hoc simulacrum dedicat ex auro.' Though this poem was written in 1588, it was not published till 1602,-an unaccountable instance of delay, cousidering how rapidly the author wrote, and how much he published. He had wanted time to correct it, he says, in his dedication : some additions it had manifestly received, as appears from the political references which it contains, but correction seems to have been always the least of Lope's labours. The licenser of the Barcelona edition, Fray Jayme Rebullosa, wishes it might please God that the writer would employ his extraordinary ability, happy genius, great learning, and continual study, in celebrating the beauty of the Angelicas of Heaven, meaning the Eleven Thousand Virgins whose skulls are to be seen at this day in satin caps at Cologue, and any other of the sisterhood of monastic saints.
+Entró con ella aquel que tantos daños
Causó en el mundo por su dicha y gozo,
Tierno en extremo, y algo afeminado,
Mas de lo que merece un caballero,
At the same time with the Hermosura de Angelica, and in the same volume, Lope de Vega published an heroic poem, in ten books, upon Sir Francis Drake. Its title is La Dragontea, the reader being duly apprized, at the end of a list of names of places, persons, and things mentioned in the poem, that as often as he may find the word Dragon he has to understand by it the person of Francis Drake. The year before the destruction of the Armada, Drake had scoured the coast from Cadiz to Cape St. Vincent, and from thence to Cascaes; he had burnt, sunk, or carried off, at least ten thousand tons of their greater shipping, besides fifty or sixty smaller vessels, and that in the sight and under the protection of their forts, and almost under the eyes of their Great Admiral. . I remember,' says Lord Bacon, 'Drake, in the vaunting style of a soldier, would call this enterprize the singeing of the king of Spain's beard.' Two causes, Lope de Vega said, induced him to write his Dragontea ; one was that the people might be undeceived in their opinion of this enemy, the truth being, that every grain of gold which he had taken had cost him much blood; the other, that oblivion might not cover the important victory which had at last been gained over him: he was desirous also that the king should see the valour of the Spaniards, and the miserable end to which the enemies of the church came. There is a preface to the poem in a similar strain, by D. Francisco de Borja, better known afterwards as Principe de Esquilache. It may be asked, he says, seeing the English had had such good success against the Spanish Indies and the fleets of Spain, Why a Spaniard should compose a poem upon this subject? The answer is, the English never had obtained any such advantage, except it was owing to the inclemency of the sea, or to great superiority of force. In the present instance, when they came fairly to action, a hundred Spaniards had routed a thousand English, and killed three hundred of them: as many more had been slain at Puerto Rico and in the Canaries; their two conmanders had perished, and of a fleet of fifty four sail which left England, five only had returned: all this was to the honour of Spain, and was faithfully related in this poem, following the account transmitted by the Royal Audience of Panama, and attested by competent witnesses. The Duke of Ossuna also prefixed a sonnet to the poem, addressed to the Prince, and saying that India, weary of presenting silver and gold to one who deserved greater things, sent him now the horns of that haughty
Bull who had persecuted her with such fury, filled with flowers b the Muses.
The names in this poem are given with as much precision as the facts; Cavendish is called Candir; Hawkins, Achines ; and Si Thomas Baskerville is metamorphosed into Don Thomas Vasuile It opens in a bold spirit of Catholic fiction. Christianity appear before the throne of God, and complains against Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake. In her harangue she makes a pun upon the name of Sir Thomas More, calling him,
Aquel martir Thomas, Christiano y Moro.' And she adjures the Almighty by the Virgin Mary, and by the mystery of the Sacrament, not to let the Dragon of this new Medea exalt himself against the Wopian. Her prayer is heard ; meantime Drake sees in a vision that personage whom the Scripture describes with a crown upon her head, and the golden cup of her abominations in her hand; she does not tell him that the King of Spain is lawful master of the two worlds, nor of the great victories of Don Juan de Austria and the Alvas; but she tells him that while he is sleeping Spain sleeps, reminds him of his circumnavigation, and of his giving the master of the register-ship a receipt in his books for one million six hundred thousand ducats, which he had taken in her; and she exhorts bim to undertake a second expedition in hope of equal success. In the progress of the expedition, Lope tells us, that some ships were lost, and the people who were on board went to hell by water; and that eighteen Englishmen, who were taken in another, were constrained to confess what they knew of their leader's plans, by having their skin and their verves made to touch their bones, the thought of which operation makes him jocosely remark, that they had a great hatred to confession !*The heart of the writer must here have been as much corrupted as his
Camden relates in his history, that when the squadron anchored before Puerto Rico, the enemy played upon them with their ordnance from the forts, and at supper-time, Sir Nicholas Clifford, Knight, and Brute Brown were mortally wounded with a shot.' The name of this last person would have been subjected to scurvy jests in abundance, if Lope had known it: he dwells upon the incident itself with much satisfaction; the salt, he says, was overturved for a sign of bad luck, sixteen
who at the board supt with death that night; the table, the dishes, the servants, the master and all going to hell together. At the end of the poem this veracious poet asserts, that Drake did not die of disease, but was poisoned by his own people, because he took all the ** Diez y ocho Ingleses que tomo pregunta, • Al tormento confiessan los que tiepen, Y el cuero y nervios con el huessos junta. Tạn gran odio (señor) ai confessarse.'