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literature. Though the Spanish temperament is, as a rule,
more ascetic than mystic, Spanish literature happens to
be exceptionally rich in acknowledged masterpieces of
mysticism : it is enough to point to the writings of Francisco
de Osuna, Bernardino de Laredo, Saint Theresa, Saint
John of the Cross, and Luis de Leon. To what extent
were these typical representatives of the Spanish
school of mystics known in later Elizabethan England ?
With the exception of Saint John of the Cross, they were
all available in print, and there were many more (like Juan
de los Angeles) to choose from. Yet not one of them seems
to have been translated. This is precisely what might be
expected. The practical English mind turned from the
dizzy sublimities of these rare spirits to the more intelligible
asceticism of Luis de Granada, whose Guia de Pecadores
was translated in 1598 by Francis Meres ; but here, again,
it seems only too likely that the English version was based
on a French rendering. Diligent bibliographers have found
in the Register of the Stationers' Company the names of
a few other devout Spanish writers who were translated into
English ; but these writers are either not authentic mystics,


or, if they are, their works were usually translated from
languages other than Spanish. If Meres probably trans-
lated Granada from the French, Lodge undoubtedly trans-
lated him from the Latin, and similarly Estella was Englished
through Italian and Latin renderings. In all these cases,
there is no attempt to preserve more than the letter of
the original, and, even so, the letter is prone to be blurred
or indistinct : for the rest, the quintessential Spanish spirit
of the originals evaporates in the process of translating
a translation of these originals. No Spanish mystic found
a competent English translator till 1629, when Mabbe
translated Cristobal de Fonseca, an author known all the
world over (at least by name), owing to the fact that he
is mentioned in Don Quixote. But, if one may say so
without disrespect, neither Cervantes nor Mabbe can be
congratulated on his taste in this instance, for Fonseca
is one of the poorest writers of the mystic school.

If we persist in our search for signs of Spanish influence
on the works of English divines, our best chance of finding
it is in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. For part of his
system Hooker is undeniably indebted to Francisco Suarez,
an authoritative orthodox philosopher of the day ; but,
as Suarez wrote in Latin, Hooker's indebtedness is not in
any sense literary. Thirty or forty years after Hooker's
death, The Flaming Heart proved Crashaw to be a rapturous
devotee of Saint Theresa. Unfortunately it proves nothing
more. If we could catch Crashaw in our net, a little
ingenuity might enable us to bring Coleridge into some
distant relation with Spanish literature, for Coleridge admits
that the central idea of Christabel was suggested by the author
of the Hymn in honour of Saint Theresa. But did Crashaw
know Spanish ? There are abundant indications that he knew
Marino too well : of direct Spanish influence there is no such
unequivocal sign, though it is hard to believe that Crashaw read

Saint Theresa in translations only. Again, George Herbert's
preface to Nicholas Ferrar's translation of the Consider aciones
shows his acquaintance with the work of that remarkable
| heterodox mystic, Juan de Valdes. But it must be borne
in mind that the Spanish text of the Consider aciones has
only recently been discovered, and that both Herbert and
Ferrar (like all their contemporaries) were compelled to read
Valdes' treatise in an Italian version. Moreover, these English
writers take us to the fourth or fifth decade of the seven-
teenth century, and (finally) nothing resembling Crashaw's
and Herbert's metaphysical conceits can be found in the
Spanish authors whom they respectively admired.

We are on more promising ground when we go back
to the Elizabethan period, and deal with the Spanish novel.
The romances of chivalry may be neglected otherwise
one might be tempted to dwell on the fact that Catalan
Tirant lo Blanch, one of the oldest and best examples of its
class, includes the story of Sir Guy of Warwick, and there-
fore comes into touch with Norman England.) It is doubt-
less true that the Spanish romances of chivalry were read
here long after Spaniards had tired of them, and, as late as
the eighteenth century Burke and Johnson sauntered
through their enchanted caves ; but they arrived a little
too late in the day to carry all before them in England,
as they had done in France, and they were not introduced
here under favourable circumstances. It was no great
recommendation in literary circles that the chief translator
of these knight-errantries was Anthony Munday, a dismal
draper of misplaced literary ambitions who was pilloried
by Ben Jonson as Antonio Balladino, and finally driven
back to his yard-wand. It is no wonder, in these circumstances,
that the Spanish romances of chivalry were not a frank
success in England among the cultured class. Overbury,
in his Characters, gives us to understand that such books were


chiefly read by chambermaids, and we may leave the subject
with the inevitable remark that Munday's poor versions were
pieced together from French translations. This is further
confirmation of the view that a knowledge of Spanish was
rarer in England than we are commonly given to understand.
Endymion Porter, the grandson of a Spanish lady, was a
notable exception at a much later period. Partly educated
in Spain, he no doubt knew Spanish well, and he figures in
{ Suckling's Sessions of the Poets ; but a lively hope of favours
to come, rather than any notable literary performance of
Endymion's, is the only possible explanation of his friend
Lycidas-Herrick's hyperbole :

For, to say truth, all garlands are thy due :
The laurel, myrtle, oak, and ivy too.

But let us return to prose and fact once more. The
romances of chivalry were supplanted in Spain by the
pastoral novel. The poetic pastoral had been introduced
into England as early as 1514 by Alexander Barclay, whose
chief model was Giovanni Baptista Mantuano. English
readers became familiar later with Sannazaro's Arcadia,
the pattern of the prose pastoral romance which leapt into
vogue in Spain with Jorge de Montemor's Diana. y A book
so fashionable on the continent as the Diana could not fail
to attract attention in England also, but one may easily over-
estimate the amount of attention it received here at first.
The Diana circulated in a French version, and two frag-
ments of the text were, as we have seen, adapted by Googe.
But it was not translated as a whole till 1583, and this
translation by Bartholomew Yong was not printed till 1589,
some thirty years after the original was published : evidently
there was no unseemly haste in the matter. Nevertheless,
before Yong's translation appeared, Montemor's Diana
had left its mark on English literature. In his Apologie
forPoetne, Sir Philip Sidney appeals pointedly to the authority

of Sannazaro, and is silent respecting Montemor ; and yet
he was no less indebted to the Portuguese-Spaniard than
to the Italian. Sidney's verse translations of passages in the
Diana have been already mentioned : in his Arcadia he
draws on both Sannazaro and Montemor, the love-story
being suggested by the Diana. To some degenerate readers
of our day the Arcadia seems almost as tedious as Hazlitt
thought it ; but Montemor found an admirer even more
illustrious than Sir Philip Sidney. Part of the plot of
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is taken from the Diana,.
and it is now established that Shakespeare (or the writer
of the play which he recast) read the Spanish book in a
French translation. Montemor's Felismena is the prototype
of Sidney's Daiphantus, and of Viola in Twelfth Night ;
his landscape is reproduced in the forest of Arden, and
it is perhaps not mere fantasy to imagine that some far-off
reminiscence of Montemor's ' cold pastoral ' pervades
Endymion and the Ode on a Grecian Urn. *

The name of another great English poet is casually con-
nected with Lazarillo de Tormes, the earliest of the Spanish
picaresque stories, which was translated by David Rouland
of Anglesey in 1568, and printed in 1576. A copy of Til
Howleglas in the Bodleian Library contains the following
inscription in Gabriel Harvey's handwriting : * This Howies-
glass, with Skoggin, Skelton and Lazarillo, given me at
London, of Mr. Spensar XX December [15^8, on condition
...[illegible]... by reading of them ouer before the first of
January, ymmediately ensuing : otherwise to forfeit unto
him my Lucian in fewer uolumes.' Sixteen years after
Spenser gave this copy of Lazarillo de Tormes to Harvey
(who seems to have thought it a foolish book), Thomas
Nash published the first English picaresque novel under
the title of Jacke Wilton ; and, though the incidents
have scarcely any resemblance to those in the Spanish story,


Jacke Wilton keeps up the picaresque tradition by its
spirit, good-humour, and contempt for the conventional code.
To follow out the development of the picaresque tale in
this country would be to write a long chapter in the history
of the English novel: it would, moreover, be a work of
supererogation, as the subject has been exhaustively treated
in Professor Chandler's excellent monograph. /

The influence of the Spanish novel grew more and more
marked after the publication of Don Quixote in 1605 : that
great book lent a new importance to all Spanish literature.
But the influence of Spanish fiction must be sought in the
English drama .> Here, as elsewhere, we must be on our
guard against current misconceptions. Coleridge is, perhaps,
responsible for the idea that there is an intimate relation
between the national theatres of Spain and England, and for
the notion that this indebtedness extends to form as well
as to substance. It may be said without any hesitation,
that these theories are erroneous. During the active period
of Shakespeare's life, few Spanish plays were available in
print ; those few were of slight importance, and there is not
even a reasonable presumption that any of them were known
in England. Here and there we may find correspondences,
as between Lope de Rueda's Los Enganados and Shakespeare's
Twelfth Night ; but both have drawn upon Bandello, or
perhaps upon a dramatized version by an Academy at Siena
called ' Gl ' Ingannati.' | Nor can we accept the suggestion
that Shakespeare went to the Conde Lucanor for The Taming
of the Shrew, a recast of a previous play which dramatized
a story that was common property everywhere. Equally
untenable is the theory that the bullies of our drama
the Ancient Pistols and the Bobadils came to us from Spain :
they are literary descendants of Plautus' Miles Gloriosus.
So, again, we may dismiss as far-fetched the view that
certain Spanish politicians were the originals of characters


in Marlowe's and Shakespeare's plays. To take one example,
we should not be tempted to regard Don Adriano de Armado,
the ' fantastical Spaniard ' in Love's Labour's Lost, as a
burlesque of Antonio Perez. He is developed from the
character of Sir Tophas in Lyly's Endimion, with touches
added perhaps from a crack-brained Spaniard, nicknamed
the ' fantastical Monarcho,' and known in the flesh to Shake-
speare as a recognised public butt who had lounged about
London town for years.

Most of these current hypotheses are fanciful. What
is true is that English dramatists went to Spanish sources
not to Spanish plays, but to Spanish novels for picturesque
colouring and romantic episodes*. In 1571 Pedro Mexia's
Silva de varia lection was translated (it is. needless to
say, trom the French) by Thomas Fortescue, whose Forest,
or collection of histories supplied Marlowe with the raw
material for his Scythian Tamburlaint, which was staged
in 1587. A still more interesting case is that of The Tempest,
the source of which can now be indicated. A Spaniard
called Antonio de Eslava (not otherwise known to fame)
published at Pamplona in 1609 a collection of mediocre
stories entitled Nocbes de Invierno, and this volume was
reprinted at Antwerp a year later. Thence it came somehow
into Shakespeare's hands, and from the fourth chapter of the
Noches de Invierno the plot of The Tempest is borrowed,
Dardano of Bulgaria reappearing as Prospero of Milan, and-
Serafma as Miranda, ' created of every creature's best.'
This provenance may be thought to lend colour to the
tradition that Shakespeare dramatized an episode from
Don Quixote a book that he might easily have read in
Shelton's translation published in 1612, or perhaps even in
the manuscript which Shelton had kept by him for some
four or five years. At any rate, the following entry occurs
under the date of 1653 in the Register of the Stationers'


Company : ' The History of ' Cardenio, by Mr. Fletcher
and Shakespeare, 2os. } ^

Whatever may be the fact with respect to Shakespeare,
nobody read Cervantes with greater profit to himself than
Fletcher. /There are two opinions as to the relation between
Don Quixote and The Knight of the Burning Pestle : there
can be only one opinion as to Fletcher's debt to the Novelas
i exemplares on which six of his plays are based. Some traits
in The Beggars' 1 Bush, too, seem borrowed from Cervantes's
j-itanilla (the obvious source from which Rowley and
Middleton derived The Spanish Gipsy}. Cervantes's post-
humous romance, Los Trabajos de Persilesy Sigismunda, and
the old-fashioned Historia de Aurelio y Isabela of Juan de
Flores are likewise utilized by Fletcher who borrows further
from Lope de Vega, Mateo Aleman and Gonzalo de Cespedes.
Professor Schelling in his valuable Elizabethan Drama sums
up the results of recent research by saying that, of the
fifty-two plays attributed to Beaumont and Fletcher, seven-
teen ' show traces in their plots of Spanish sources,' and
he inclines to favour Mr. Rosenbach's conjecture that six
more of the fifty-two plays may probably be of Spanish
origin. Yet it does not follow that Fletcher knew Spanish, for
most of the books which he utilized were available in English
or French translations. It is, indeed, alleged that he derived
The Island Princess from the younger Argensola's Conquista
de las Islas Molucas, and Lome's Cure it is not for me to
discuss the correctness of the attribution of this play to
Fletcher from La Fuerza de la Costumbre, a comedia by the
Valencian dramatist Guillen de Castro. Mt seems certain
that neither of these works was translated out of Spanish
in Fletcher's time ; it is less certain that they are respectively
the sources of the two English plays just mentioned. The
question is still under discussion, and it must suffice to say
that, at the present stage, the balance of probabilities is

against the view that Fletcher knew Spanish. Nor is there
any reason to suppose that Ben Jonson was better equipped
in this respect. His casual references to Amadis de Gaula,
to Don Quixote, and to Carranza imply no real knowledge of
Spanish literature ; and the tags and phrases in The Alchemist
might easily be pieced together from the reprint of
Perceval's dictionary edited by that John Minsheu whom
Jonson ungratefully branded as a ' rogue ' when tartly
discussing his contemporaries with William Drummond of

A moment ago we referred to the alleged derivation
of Love's Cure from a Spanish play a remarkable fact,
if the derivation be established finally. Another alleged
example of the same kind is The Renegado of Massinger
which is stated to be based on Cervantes's Los Banos de Argel;
and possibly a third example may be The Fatal Dowry
of the same English dramatist which has some points in
common with Cervantes's interlude entitled El viejo celoso.
Neither of these Spanish pieces was translated in Massinger's
day, but this is not final. The relation between the Spanish
and the English plays has not been demonstrated in detail,
and, even if it were, a considerable margin must be left for
the possibilities of coincidence. For my own part, I confess
to a growing scepticism respecting many of these supposed
resemblances between plays written in Spain and plays
written in England at this period. However, at a later
time during the reign of Charles I one or two English
dramatists do seem to show an increasing acquaintance with
the Spanish stage. Shirley, the last important dramatist of
the Elizabethan school, is credibly reported to have utilized
Tirso de Molina's El Castigo del -penseque in The Opportunity,
and Lope de Vega's Don Lope de Cardona in The Young
Admiral : this statement is supported by high authority,
but a minute demonstration of the extent of Shirley's
borrowing would be still more satisfactory.

Henceforward, the rapid accumulation of printed
matter makes it impossible to deal with the subject in detail.
One feature is constant : little or no interest is taken in
Spanish lyrical poetry. In his Mytbomystes, published in
1632, Henry Reynolds goes forth to search for Spanish poets
of distinction, finds them far back in Seneca, Lucan, and
Martial, and at a later date discovers ' some good theologians
also in rhyme ' ; but, he continues, with a conciliatory com-
pliment to the Spanish school of novelists, ' for other poesies
in their now spoken tongue, of any great name ... I cannot
say it affords many, if any at all.' And all the evidence goes
to show that Reynolds accurately expressed the current
English opinion. References to the Celestina occur in The
Anatomy of Melancholy (and they become more frequent in
successive editions) ; but it seems possible that Burton read
the Celestina in Earth's Latin version, and, at any rate, there
is no evidence that Burton read any other Spanish verses
beyond the few songs in the tragi-comedy. Donne had
accompanied Essex in his expedition to Cadiz in 1596, and may
have had a working knowledge of Spanish ; yet what might be
taken for Gongorism in Donne is, as Mr. Gosse has shown, a
personal form of expression natural to a super-subtle
intelligence rejoicing in the metaphysical refinements of the
scholastic tradition. Donne's hyperboles and paradoxes are
his own, and the chronology of his poems shows that he
cannot have read much less imitated Gongora's later
cryptic compositions which contrast so woefully with the
limpid elegance of his earlier manner. Gongora can have
been known to few Englishmen of the seventeenth century
besides Thomas Stanley, who attempted with more
gallantry than success a translation of the first Soledad in /
1651. Stanley is likewise responsible for a version of Boscan's
J Octavo Rima, and Boscan (together with Garcilaso) was
read nearly half a century before by Drummond of Haw-

2 5

thornden, a connoisseur of Italian literature, and a follower
of Guarini's ; still, but for Drummond's own statement, we
should never have guessed that he had read a line of Boscan or
Garcilaso, for no shadow of Spanish influence is visible in his
poems. One very slight (and perhaps fortuitous) parallelism
occurs to me as worth a passing mention : the resemblance
between the estribillo of the decimas spoken by the imprisoned
Segismundo in the first act of Calderon's La Fida es sueno,
and the refrain of Lovelace's incomparable song To Althea
from Prison. This may conceivably be a case of unconscious
reminiscence. La Fida es sueno was printed in 1636, and
Lovelace appears to have served in Spain ten years later.'
But this matter is of little more importance than the quatrain
in Waller, which purports to be translated from the Spanish.
After the Restoration, English playwrights in search of
exciting plots and thrilling incidents began to look for them
in the collections of Spanish comedias which were now
appearing. It would seem that, while residing on the
Continent during the Commonwealth, the future Charles II
had learned something of the Spanish theatre, and his taste
in this direction would be encouraged by his Master of
Requests, Sir Richard Fanshawe ; for Fanshawe had already
visited Spain on behalf of Charles I, and, when captured
after the battle of Worcester, had beguiled his leisure by
translating Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza's Fiestas de
Aranjuez, and Querer por solo querer. Charles IPs literary
taste was not impeccable, but it was above the farrago of
Spanish picaresque cliches brought together by Richard
Head and Francis Kirkman under the title of The English
Rogue. If Dryden, the second Earl of Bristol, Tuke,
Mrs. Aphra Behn, Wycherley and Crowne did in England
what Rotrou, Quinault, the brothers Corneille and even
Moliere (in his first phase) had done in France, they were
certain of approval at Court, and, in one or two cases,


their adaptations seem to have been made at the King's
suggestion. But, though the Restoration playwrights con-
trived a few effective acting plays by utilizing Spanish
comedias, this method produced no dramatic masterpieces.

So much for the drama of the later seventeenth century.
In Hudibras Butler took from Don Quixote the idea of a
reforming Knight and a Squire faring forth, just as he took
his hero's name from The Faerie Queene ; but, except for
this and a rare occasional touch, the connection between
DJH Quixote and Hudibras is slight, the virulent party-spirit
of the English book differing as widely from the universal
irony of the Spanish as Cervantes's kindly patrician humour
differs from Butler's vehement and robustious wit. The
translation of Quevedo's Suenos made by Roger L'Estrange
through the French ran through many editions, but left
no permanent mark on English literature. 1 The 'same may
be said of Philip Ayres' version of Salas Barbadillo's El necio
bien afortunado, and the translation of Gracian's El Criticdn,
issued by Sir Paul Rycaut in 1681. It has, indeed, been
suggested that Defoe took the idea of Man Friday from
Rycaut's version : this seems about as plausible as Coleridge's
freakish contention that Robinson Crusoe derives from
Cervantes's Persiles y Sigismunda. This is a fair illustration
of what confronts us at almost every turn in the history of
Spanish literature : fantastic theories put forward at random
under cover of a name illustrious in some other department,
but of no authority whatever in our branch of study.

The best results of Spanish influence are observable
in the eighteenth century when the tide of adaptations
begins to slacken. The picaresque novel attains the highest

I. My friend, Professor Kuno Meyer, informs me that L'Estrange's trans-
lation of the Suenos exercised considerable influence on Welsh literature. It
appears to have suggested Ellis Wynne's Gweledigaetheu y Bardd Czvsc (Visions
of the Sleeping Bard), a Protestantized adaptation of Quevedo's book. Twenty-
three editions of Wynne's work have appeared since its first publication in 1703.


level of ironical portraiture in Jonathan Wild the Great,
a book which some have found deficient in character-drawing,
but which abounds in the characterization of personages
observed by Fielding's unerring eyes. It is Fielding himself
who states that Joseph Andrews is * written in imitation of
the manner of Cervantes,' and in Parson Adams we have
a creation which is a near approach to the Manchegan
Knight. Smollett met with defeat when, in The Adventures
of Sir Lancelot Greaves, he rashly matched himself with
Cervantes : it was not for him to bend the bow of Achilles,
but in Ferdinand, Count Fathom he reproduced the picaresque
verve, if not the judicial temper, of his Spanish models.
In 1765 Bishop Percy made a new departure by including
in his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry translations by two
Spanish ballads (one of them a genuine antique) ; though
they cannot be said to have attracted much notice at the
time, they entitle Percy to rank as a pioneer on the road
followed afterwards by Lockhart and Gibson.* Spanish
literature was now beginning to appear in its true perspective,
and attention inevitably concentrated on Cervantes. The
eighteenth century belongs to him, so to say. We need but
mention the performances of the indefatigable Captain John
Stevens who showed his interest in things Spanish in many
compilations of his own, and by laying violent hands on
earlier versions of Spanish classics. The first sumptuous
edition of Don Quixote in the original was issued here by
Tonson in 1737-38 ; the first serious attempt at a biography
of Cervantes was expressly written for this edition by
Mayans y Siscar, the most eminent Spanish scholar of the


Online LibraryJames Fitzmaurice-KellyRelations between Spanish and English literature → online text (page 2 of 3)