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ture produced during the later sixteenth century. Happily so much as this is not required. Some ignorance of—or at least some want of familiarity with — the less important, is permitted where the writer is "thoroughly acquainted with the literature which happened to be of greatest prominence in the special period.” I must leave others to decide how far my handling of the Spanish, English, and French portions of the subject can be held to excuse my less intimate familiarity with the Italian and Portuguese. The all but unbroken silence of Germany during this period made it unnecessary to take account of it. Modern Dutch and modern Scandinavian literature had hardly begun; such Scottish poets as Scott and Montgomerie are older than their age. These and other things, on the principles of the series, fall into the previous or the next volume.
Although the reasons for the course taken with the literature of Spain are given in the text, they may be repeated here by way of preliminary excuse. It has been decided to treat the Spaniards as an example of the overlapping necessary to the satisfactory carrying out of a series in periods. I have begun with them earlier than with others, have ended with them later, and have as far as space permitted treated them as a whole. For this there is what appears to me to be a sound critical reason. Although Spain undoubtedly belongs to Europe, yet there is in her something which is not quite European. The Spaniards, though they have always been, and are, vigorous and interesting, have a certain similarity to some oriental races. This is not the place for an essay on the Spanish national character. The comparison is only mentioned as a justification for pointing out that, like some oriental races, the Spaniards have had one great period of energy. At no time have they been weak, and to-day they can still show a power of resistance and a tenacity of will which promise that if ever the intellect of the nation revives, they will again play a great part in the world. But it is none the less a matter of fact that, except during their one flowering time, they have not been what can be called great. From the fifteenth century till well into the seventeenth, those defects in the national character, which have kept the Spaniards stationary and rather anarchical, were in abeyance. The qualities of the race were seen at work on a vast stage, doing wonderful things in war, colonisation, art, and letters. Yet the very reason that the Spaniard was then exercising his faculties to the full extent to which they would go, gives a complete unity to his Golden Age. It cannot be divided in any other than a purely arbitrary way. England and France were destined to grow and develop after the Later Renaissance. Tasso and Bruno were the last voices of a great Italian time. But Spain suspended the anarchy of her middle ages at the end of the fifteenth century, gathered force, burst upon the world with the violence of a Turkish invasion, flourished for a space, and then sank exhausted at the end of a hundred and fifty years.
It may be thought that too little attention has been paid to the Portuguese. I will not venture to assert that the criticism is ill founded. Still I shall plead by way of excuse that what the lesser Peninsular nation did in literature was hardly sufficiently original to deserve fuller notice in a general survey of a very fertile period. Så de Miranda and his contemporaries, even Camoens and his follower Corte-Real, were after all little more than adapters of Italian forms. They were doing in kindred language what was also being done by the Spanish “ learned poets.” In Camoens there was no doubt a decided superiority of accomplishment, but the others seem to me to have been inferior to Garcilaso, Luis de Leon, or Hernan de Herrera. And this “ learned poetry” is in itself the least valuable part of the literature of the Peninsula. In what is original and important, the share of the Portuguese is dubious or null. They have a doubtful right to the Libros de Caballerías. They have a very insignificant share in the stage, and no part in the Novelas de Pícaros. Barros and the other historians were men of the same class as the Spaniards Oviedo or Gómara. For these reasons, I have thought it consistent with the scheme of the book to treat them as very subordinate.