C. K. (Cecil Knight) Jones.

Hispanic American bibliographies, including collective biographies, histories of literature and selected general works online

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Seiior Medina's life, as his biographer, Sefior Chiappa, has happily
said, is portrayed in the catalogue of his works. Although he has
spent many years in distinguished public service, his dominant interests
have been those of scholarship, and his chosen field of research has
been the colonial period of Spanish-American history and of the intro-
duction and development of the press in the former colonies of Spain.
In this field he has created for himself a position of distinguished
authority. His contributions to the bibliography of Spanish America
are comprehensive in character and equipped with full bibliographical
descriptions and biographical and critical annotations. This remarkable
and indispensable corpus bibliographicum in itself constitutes a mon-
ument more lasting than bronze and gives to the author the first place
among those who devote themselves to these studies.

In the first part of this list the compiler has endeavored to note all
of Sefior Medina's works that deal more specifically with bibliography,
biography, and literary history. A general list of his writings and
compilations, presumably complete up to 1906, will be found in Noti-
cias acerca de la vida y obras de Don Jose Toribio Medina by Victor
M. Chiappa, Santiago de Chile, 1907.



If we were to limit the bibliographical review which we have under-
taken to the works of this character that refer exclusively to America
the task would be both simple and brief. But, as is the truth in this
case, Spanish American works and authors are found mentioned more
or less fully in bibliographies of general character, in the chronicles of
the religious orders, in monographs on the history of printing in many
cities of Spain and in catalogues of public and private libraries and
dealers lists, it has seemed that we should at least mention these works
since from them we have had to take something even if no more than
a reference.

We should commence, then, with the general bibliographies. In
this class the post of honor belongs to Nicolas Antonio in recognition
of his work, Bibliotheca Hispana, first printed in Rome in 1672 and of
which a second edition was issued in Madrid during the years 1783-
1788. 1

In this work written in Latin are given notices of many American
authors, considering the word American in its broadest sense. The
titles of these works are given more or less abbreviated but always
with exactness, and the place of publication, year, and size are added.

The author shows himself in his work to have been a scholarly man
and so scrupulous in the notices he gives of works and authors that
with the exception of a very few errors, the Bibliotheca Hispana Nova
is a safe guide for the bibliographer. The Spanish edition is hand-
somely published and its copious indexes greatly facilitate its use,
compensating for what seems to us an error of having adopted in the
body of the work an arrangement by Christian instead of family names,
a system long used by Spanish authors in their indexes.

Nicolas Antonio y Bernal was born in Seville, July 28, 1617. His
early studies were carried on in the Colegio de Santo Tomas and in other
schools of that city until 1636 when he was sent to the University of
Salamanca. Here, three years later he was graduated as bachelor of
laws, to which study he devoted himself under the guidance of the
renowned jurist, Francisco Ramos del Manzano. In 1645, he went to
Madrid to solicit the habit of the Order of Santiago, which he obtained.
Here he remained until 1659, when Philip IV. sent him, now ordained
as a priest, to Rome, it is thought in the capacity of procurador general

1 The first two volumes of this edition, the Hispana vetus, were edited by
Francisco Perez Bayer; the second two, the Hispana nova, including authors
who flourished since 1500, were edited by T. A. Sdnchez, J. A. Pellicer, and
R. C. Casalb6n Cf. List, nos. 6-7.


of the kingdom. He lived in Rome until 1678 when he was recalled to
Madrid to serve on the Consejo de Cruzada. This function he per-
formed until his death which took place in 1684.

More comprehensive than Antonio's work, since according to the
title at least, it embraces all the cities of the world, is that published in
1713 in two volumes by Rafael Savonarola under the pseudonym of
Alfonso Lasor a Varea. This we have occasionally cited but it has but
little value for the Americanist.

As a bibliographical monument, the Biblioteca Lusitana of Diego
Barbosa Machado is, of course, infinitely superior and although, as
may be inferred, it relates almost exclusively to Portuguese works, it
treats when occasion offers of authors of interest to America.

The first volume of this work, really notable for its bio-bibliographical
researches and printed with typographical elegance, was published in
Lisbon in 1741 and was dedicated by the author to King John V. De-
spite this fact and for reasons not easy to explain the second volume
was dedicated to the Bishop of Porto. This incongruity was brought
to the author's attention and he afterwards had the title page and dedi-
cation removed for which reason copies of the original edition are to-
day rare. The third volume is very rare. It is said that, irritated
because it did not sell and because of the criticisms levelled at it, the
author destroyed all the copies that remained in his possession. The
fourth was published in 1759.

The Abbot Barbosa, says Silva, was a zealous and enthusiastic biblio-
phile a necessary result of his studies. At the cost of many sacrifices
and expenditures he was able to collect a select and extensive library
which he offered King Joseph to replace the royal library destroyed by
the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755. This was transferred to Brazil
when King John VI. withdrew to that country and forms today a most
important part of the National Library of Rio de Janeiro.

Barbosa Machado was born in Lisbon, May 31, 1682, the son of
Captain Juan Barbosa Machado and Catalina Machado. He was
abbot of the parochial church of San Adriano de Sever in Porto and one
of the first forty academicians of the Royal Academy of History of
Portugal. He died August 9, 1772.

Turning again to Spain, we must skip many years before finding a
general bibliography. This delay, however, has a certain compensa-
tion in the character of the work which is presented we refer to the
Ensayo de una biblioteca espanola de libros raros y curiosos, the first
volume of which was published in Madrid in 1863. It is so generally


known that comment here seems unnecessary. This magnificent
monument of Spanish bibliography, compiled by Remon Zarco del
Valle and Jose Sancho Rayon on the basis of the notices of the learned
and diligent investigator, Bartolome Jose Gallardo, contains many
titles of interest to the Americanist, the more interesting in that some
are of extraordinary rarity and all are described by a master hand with
all the details that the most exigent curiosity could demand.

But it will be easily understood that these general bibliographies,
whatever be their merit, interest the student of American bibliography
but indirectly in comparison with those wholly devoted to works deal-
ing with the New World. And it is unfortunate that of these there
have been so few even including works that treat but incidentally of
this subject.

We have pointed out that the predecessor of Leon Pinelo in the office
of historian of the Indias was Gil Gonzalez Davila, who, in his Teatro
eclesidstico de las Indias had occasion to mention, though without
bibliographical details, works written and published by the bishops
whose biographies he was writing. It is unnecessary to say that from
the point of view of the subject in hand his work hardly deserves

Neither these bare citations nor those found in some chronicles
relating to American authors of the different religious orders, of which
we shall speak later, can be compared with the Epitome of Le6n
Pinelo indeed taken together they are scarcely worth even a single title
of that work which, notwithstanding all of its defects and despite
the passing years continues to be a capital reference work for the
bibliography of America.

It was left to a man of equal application to undertake the task of
augmenting the bibliographical catalogue of the authors of the Indias.
This was Andres Gonzalez de Barcia Carballido y Zuiiiga, born in
Madrid about 1673, the time when Nicolas Antonio was publishing in
Rome his great Bibliotheca Hispana. Little is known of the life of
this worthy litterateur and bibliographer, the result in part of the
refusal of his descendants to furnish the author of his biography,
Alvarez Baena, necessary information. 2 ....

Gonzalez de Barcia was an indefatigable worker. He undertook to
collect as many books and papers, printed and manuscript, relating
to the Indias as possible, of which he published some of no inconsider-

2 Alvarez Baena Hijos de Madrid, v. 1. p. 107.


able value. Becoming engaged in a new edition of the Hechos de los
Castellanos of Antonio de Herrera he proposed to make as complete as
possible the list of "authors printed and manuscript who have written
concerning affairs of the West Indies" which appeared in the original
edition. For the realization of this object, he undertook to discover
the location of the complete work of Leon Pinelo, of which the Epi-
tome was an extract. In this his efforts proved fruitless and in sub-
stitution he had to have recourse to his own valuable and comprehen-
sive collection of American books, the result of years of effort. His
basis in his task was always the work of his predecessor which he com-
pleted by adding the titles of works published or written since the
appearance of the Epitome which he had before him, or which he took
from compilations, Spanish and foreign, published up to that time.
This was the origin of the Biblioteca Oriental y Occidental published in

We shall quote here the judgment of a notable bibliographer, which,
unfortunately, is wholly exact: "Many of the errors which mar the
utility of subsequent works can be traced to Barcia", says Harrisse.

As the latter took Leon Pineolo as a model for his work, so he in
turn served as a model for Antonio de Alcedo, author of the notable
Diccionario historico geogrdfico de las Indias Occidentals, in compiling
in 1807 his Biblioteca americana; catdlogo de los autores que han escrito
de la America en diferentes idiomas y noticias de su vida y patria, anos
en que vivieron y obras que escribieron, cited for the first time by Rich in
his BibUothcca Americana nova. The work consists of VI-1028 leaves
in manuscript. . . . 3

But whatever be the merits and defects of the work, the fact that it
has never been published has caused no advance in bibliographical
studies relating to America.

The Biblioteca Mexicana of Juan Jose de Eguiara y Eguren had a
happier fate than the preceding work although not so happy as might
have been desired. The first volume, embracing the letters A to C
was published in Mexico in 1755. The manuscript extended to the
letter J but the death of the author which occurred in 1753 prevented
the completion of the work which was to contain bio-bibliographical
notices of all authors born in New Spain (Mexico). Although in scope
it did not include material relating to America in general, and although
the fact of its being written in Latin (including titles of works) and

3 Now in the John Carter Brown Library.



with a certain defective critical spirit on the part of the author, which
led him to immerse himself in lengthy dissertations, caused it to lose
in large part the merit to which, conceived on a better plan, it could
have aspired, nevertheless the notices collected therein make it in some
respects superior to the work which, with the same objective, Jose Marino
Beristain de Sousa accomplished in his Biblioteca hispano-americana
septentrional. 1 The author, who had spent twenty years in the com-
pilation of this work, did not live to see it published.

The vast store of information it contains has not been surpassed by
later bibliographers, 5 and despite its faults, the most serious of which
we must agree with Garcia Icazbalceta in considering the liberty taken
in changing, abbreviating, and reconstructing titles to such a degree
that some are unrecognizable, the work remains indispensable to the
American bibliographer. In the course of our work we have had to
refer to it more than to any other work of its kind.

The Bibliotheque Americaine of Henry Ternaux-Compans, published
in Paris, 1837, is a work of more general character and specifically de-
voted to the bibliography of America. But its sole merit is that of
having arranged in chronological order the books in this field published
in all languages up to 1700. In the Spanish material the author was
able to use his own collection of books and, for not a few titles, Pinelo-
Barcia, but with so little care that sometimes the same work is cited
with two or three different dates.

Titles to the number of 1153 are given in abbreviated form and are
accompanied by a French translation and an occasional note of slight
value. This bibliography was thus replete with errors and it has been
a rich source for the transmission of these to many bibliographers who
have followed it.

We now come to the true founder of modern American bibliography.
We refer, as will have been divined, to Henry Harrisse, and to his
work Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, the first volume of which

4 The first edition was published in Mexico, 1816-1821. The fourth volume
containing the anonyms which the author left in manuscript and some additions
by others was published by Senor Medina in 1897 in a form similar to the edi-
tion of Amecarneca of 1883. A biography of the author was included in this

5 Garcia Icazbalceta himself in his incomparable Bibliografia Mexicana del
siglo XVI was unable to see some of the works mentioned by Beristain and Vicente
de P. Andrade in his Ensaya bibliogrdfico del siglo XVII found himself under the
necessity of simply mentioning many which the former apparently saw.


was published in 1866 with such typographical opulence in the fac-
similes of the books it describes and in other external aspects that it
marked an unimagined progress in works of this character. But even
with this its appearance hardly corresponded to the careful work, the
wealth of descriptions, the profundity of research, and the knowledge
that the author prodigally furnishes on each page.

This first volume was followed in 1877 by another containing Addi-
tions to the titles previously described, the two volumes containing 304
plus 186 titles of works relative, or containing references, to America
printed in any country and language from 1493 to 1551.

Despite the intensive investigation and the exceptional opportunities
the author enjoyed in securing material for his work, he was not able
to include in it all that had been written on the subject a matter, of
course, easily explained nor did he fail to fall into some errors.

Of him Mr. Growell has said :

Henry Harrisse's name is connected with one of the most erudite bibliographies
ever published; indeed, according to Nicolas Triibner, Harrisse's Bibliotheca
Americana Vetustissima is a "work unrivalled in its extent, accuracy, and com-
prehensiveness." This is the more remarkable because Harrisse had no biblio-
graphic training, and because the work in question was his first attempt in this
field. Before undertaking the work on the Bibliotheca Americana, he had devoted
himself exclusively to art, criticism, and the history of philosophy, translating
into English and annotating all the metaphysical works of Descartes. Being
unable to find a publisher in America for that class of books, he turned his atten-
tion to other subjects. At this time about 1864-65 he made the acquaintance
of Samuel Latham Mitchell Barlow, the generous collector to whose munificence
bibliographical science is indebted for this splendid publication. Mr. Barlow
shortly before had bought the library of Colonel Aspinwall that was destroyed in
the fire which consumed the premises of Bangs, Merwin & Company, 696 Broad-
way, where the books were temporarily stored. Fortunately, Mr. Barlow, a
few days before this disaster, had removed to his house a number of the rarest
treasures in the collection. Harrisse was tempted, by the aid of Mr. Barlow's
rich mine of invaluable works, to write a history of the beginning, the decline,
and the fall of the Spanish Empire in the New World. In making his selections
among the many works, Harrisse naturally made a preliminary work of bibliog-
raphy, and he began with Columbus. These notes were published in two instal-
ments in the New York Commercial Advertiser under the title Columbus in a
Nutshell. Mr. Bailow, finding that these notes were eagerly demanded . . .
proposed that they be reprinted with some important additions. . . . These
studies were included in the following volume: Notes on Columbus. New York,
1866. (v, 2-227 p., 13 photographs.) . .

These researches inspired Harrisse to prepare a study of all the authentic
facts relating to the discovery, the conquest, and the history of America down
to the middle of the 16th century. The bibliographical data collected in the


course of these investigations became the nucleus of the Bibliotheca Americana
Vetustissima. . . .

Harrisse was born in Paris in 1830. When quite young he came to the United
States to join his family, and went south, where he taught modern languages to
support himself while he was studying law. He received the degree of A. M.
from the South Carolina College, read Blackstone with the Hon. W. W.Boyce, and
prepared himself for the bar in the Law Department of the North Carolina Uni-
versity. The Hon. Stephen A. Douglas induced him to settle in Chicago; but
after a few years of unrequited efforts as a lawyer, he removed to New York and
entered the office of the late N. Dane Elingwood. . . . Thirty years ago he
made Paris his home. Being discouraged at the treatment which his works, all
written solely to promote a documentary and initial knowledge of the history of
our country, received at the hands of the American public, Harrisse gave up Ameri-
cana. At Mr. Barlow's request he returned to American subjects, toiling hence-
forth and unremittingly and gratuitously, as usual, at the task of clearing up
obscurities that rest upon the period of American discovery, which includes the
voyages of Columbus, Vespucci, the Cabots, and Cortereal. . . ".

A separate edition of 125 copies was issued of those pages of Har-
risse's work which relate to the books printed in America from 1540
to 1600. The Spanish bibliographer Zarce del Valle and Sancho Rayon
made a free translation of these pages adding notes, descriptions, and
comments of their own and published it in Madrid, 1872, in a hand-
some volume of 59 pages with 3 leaves of facsimiles. This, due to the
small edition, is now extremely rare.

During the years 1868 to 1892 there has been published in New York
A Dictionary of books relating to America from its discovery to the present
time, by Joseph Sabin. This reached the letter S, when the work was
interrupted. In truth, few titles available for Spanish-American
bibliography are found in it and these are transcribed usually from
dealers' catalogues and without the indispensable bibliographical no-
tices. It does not, therefore, in any degree correspond to what one
interested in this subject might expect from its title.

On the other hand, in the Historia de la literatura de Nueva Granada,
of Jose Maria Vergara, Bogota, 1867, a book of modest appearance
but written with true critical spirit and no little scholarship, are found
many data and references on Spanish-American books and authors
not available elsewhere.

American languages have received special attention from bibliog-
raphers. We shall not discuss the work of Lorenzo Hervas, published
in the dawn of the 19th century, the Mithridates of Adelung, the Index
alphabeticus of Juan Severino Vater, the Monographie of Squier, the
Apuntes of Garcia Icazbalceta, nor many other works containing more


or less extensive lists of writers in the native languages of America,
in order to comment more fully on the work of Hermann E. Ludewig,
of whom Harrisse has written a comprehensive biography. It is en-
titled The Literature of American aboriginal languages, London, 1868,
"with additions and corrections by Professor Wm. W. Turner", and
forms a valuable compend of the subject with references to authors
who have incidentally worked in this field. Of course, it is not free
from errors and omissions.

The value of the book, in its relation to Spanish bibliography, has,
however, disappeared almost wholly with the publication of the Bibliog-
rafid espaf&a de lenguas indigenas de America, by the Conde de Vinaza,
Madrid, 1892. This, also, is not exempt from omissions but it is much
superior to its predecessor in details and in the number of works de-
scribed. "In it", says the author,

'we have collected all the grammars, vocabularies, lists of words and phrases,
catechisms of Christian doctrine, and manuals for the administration of the
Sacraments, sermons, pietistic books and all kinds of works, printed or manu-
script, relating to the indigenous languages of America that have been written
by Spaniards, Portuguese or citizens of Latin America from the 16th century to
the present day. We have called the work, Bibliografid espanola because the
literature of those peoples who speak the language of Cervantes and Camoens
will always be called Spanish as well as because Portugal and Latin America
lived for a long space of time under the crown of our rulers, in the most glorious
period of our history.

"There are included also some works written in our classical age by missionaries
who, although born in Italy, Germany, or Flanders, passed the greater part of
their lives among Spaniards, were Spaniards in truth, and acquired a greater
facility and elegance in the use of Castilian than in their own." 6

On the occasion of the fourth centennial of the discovery of America
the Academy of History commissioned certain of its members to pre-
pare a Bibliografla Colombina, that is to say, of the printed and manu-
script documents, works of art, etc., that in some manner refer to the

6 The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., possesses a Bibliography of
South-Central America, including Mexico, in manuscript, prepared by Dr.
Rudolph R. Schuller. This contains some 7,000 titles, embracing history, geog-
raphy, ethnology, linguistics, technology, etc. The entries are on sheets in
the form and of the bibliographic fullness used by the same compiler in his Vocab-
ulario araucano de 1642-1643, Santiago de Chile, 1907. Cf . Report of the Libra-
rian of Congress, 1913, p. 34. In this connection should be mentioned Jos6 A.
Rodriguez Garcia's Bibliografid gramdtica y lexicografid castellanas, Habana,
1903-13, 2 v. in folio, an important contribution by a Cuban scholar to the bibli-
ography of the Spanish language. TRANSLATOR.


discoverer of the New World, and there appeared in due time a quarto
volume of about 700 pages. This comprehensive compilation, useful
to the investigator on account of some of the material it contains, is
exceedingly weak from every point of view in the real bibliographical
part. This has justly brought upon it severe criticism both in Spain
and abroad.

The catalogues of libraries, societies, and even of bookdealers, while
of more modest appearance than bibliographies, are in some cases of
greater practical value inasmuch as they contain titles of books whose
existence is not affirmed by mere references.

No one, for instance, can overestimate the value to American bibliog-
raphy possessed by the Catdlogo de la Biblioteca de Salvd, prepared by
Pedro Salvd y Mallen and published in Valencia in two bulky quarto
volumes in 1872, with facsimiles, portraits, printers' devices, etc. In
this work, without considering the numerous titles of interest, for some
reason or other to the Americanist, there is an entire section devoted
to books concerning the Indias described with a wealth of details and

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Online LibraryC. K. (Cecil Knight) JonesHispanic American bibliographies, including collective biographies, histories of literature and selected general works → online text (page 16 of 19)