« AnteriorContinuar »
says Ockley) by the Arabian, Abu Jaafar Ebn Tophail, (about 1198, Ockley's Preface to his Translation.) We may even grant, that the romances of Alexander the Great, written in Christian Europe, were borrowed from Arabian Tales, founded on the Persian fiction of Escander, (1 Wart. 132.) We may venture also to grant, as an established maxim of modern criticism, (1 Wart. 1st Diss.) that the fictions of the East were communicated to Europe, through the medium of the crusades; and we may admit with Andrès (vol. j. pp. 201-202, &c.) that there are many points of resemblance (to be hereafter considered) between the Arabic, and the Spanish and Provençal literature; yet we are not prepared, even after all these admissions, to credit the opinion of Andrès, contradicted as we think it is, by many facts and reasons.
There is much weight of authority we are aware, against us. La Harpe (vol. iv. p. 209) holds the opinion of Andrès. Sir William Jones, in his French dissertation on oriental poetry, says, “La rime est très ancienne chez les Arabes, desquels les poetes Provençaux et Castillans l'ont reçue.” The learned Huet says, “Ex Arabibus, meo quidem judicio, versuum simili sono concludendorum artem accepimus." The Abbé Massieu, in his history of French poetry, is of opinion, that the Spaniards borrowed rhyme from the Moors, and the South of France from the Spaniards. Quadrio adopts the same sentiment, and the Quarterly Review (No. xxi. p. 7) coincides.
Let us first survey concisely our historical ground, in a literary point of view. The Mussulmans, in the beginning of the eighth century, possessed themselves of many of the Greek authors, (1 Wart. 20 Diss.) and set the highest value on the physics, mathematics, and metaphysics of the Greeks. But their poetry, oratory, history, politics and ethics were despised and neglected. (1 Wart. 1st Diss. 1 Andr. 202.) After the revival of the Greek philosophy by the Saracens, Aristotle and Euclid were very common in Europe, through the medium of Moorish literature long before Homer and Pindar. And yet Florian tells us that Averroes, who flourished A.D. 1150, was the first who
of the miraculous actions of the Italian saints. They are as complete a specimen of Kctitious narration, as any book of fairy tales. Every nation of Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire, abounded with such narratives of supernatural agency, Nor is this at all remarkable, when we consider, that Ovid was not only the great favourite of the Troubadours, Rambaldo Vacheiras and Bernardo di Ventadour, but was more frequently cited by the authors of the dark ages, than any other ancient poet. From such devotion to the marvellous heathen mythology, we are not astonished at the growth of these monkish legends to 100 thick folios. May we not say of them, as Hallam does of the works of Roscelin, Peter Lombard, Aquinas, “et id genus omne,” “Few, very few, for a hundred years past, have broken the repose of the immense works of the schoolmen.” (Vol. iv. Mid. Ages, p. 387.)
communicated to the Moors a taste for Greek literature. He first translated Aristotle into Arabic, and acquired by his annotations, the emphatic title of “The Commentator.' The European schools may have done nothing for many ages but translate, &c. Arabic books. Gerbert, Leonardo, Morley, Gerard, Campanus, Athelard, and a crowd of other European scholars, may have gone from England, France and Italy, to study in the Saracen Universities of Spain. Charlemagne may have had great numbers of Arabic works translated into Latin; but the books thus rendered, and the studies thus pursued by Christian scholars in Spain, were confined to physical, mathematical and metaphysical science. No Christian ever went thither to study poetry or eloquence.d Nor is there the slightest evidence, that they ever brought away with them any information or improvement of mind, except in the above mentioned departments. "Non trovo chi andasse alle loro scuole ad apprendere la poesia e la eloquenza, come molti vi si portavano per imparare le matematiche; non vedo tradotti in latino i loro poeti ed oratori, come tradotti furono da principio i matematici e i medici.” "Non che i fonti della nostra eloquenzia, e poesia nati sieno dalle Arabiche scuole, non che i loro libri sieno stati i modelli a nostri poeti ed oratori." We must, therefore, conclude irresistibly, that the schools of Saracen Spain, had no influence on the rise, progress and character of European literature (considered as distinguished from science) in France or Italy. And may we not fearlessly assert, that they had as little influence on the Spanish, when we look at the remarkable fact, that, after a period of 400 years, the early language and authors of the peninsula, instead of resembling the Arabian, themselves so rich, various and accomplished, belong beyond controversy, in sentiment and thought, in style and taste, to the same class of half-formed dialects and infant literature, with those of France and Italy ?
But let us now consider, whether the effect could have been produced through the medium of the people. The first caliph, who patronised literature was Ali, and he began to reign A. D. 655. The Saracens entered Spain A. D. 711, and soon
* In the middle of the twelfth century, says Andrès, (vol. ii. p. 185) there was no copy of Homer in all France; whilst the Greek Philosophy and Metaphysics were familiar, through the means of the Arabians. It is true, the whole character of the Saracen poetry shows, that the Mahometans never studied or imitated the Greek poetry; yet Theophilus of Edessa, a Maronite, translated Homer into Syriac, about the year 770; and about 750, both Pindar and Homer were turned into Arabic. a 1 Wart. 2 Diss.
b Andrès, vol. ii. p. 34. c1 Wart. 2 Diss. Andrés, vol. ij. pp. 27--32. d Andrès, vol. ii. pp. 135--137. e Andrès, vol. i. p. 187. VOL. II.-N0. 3.
conquered all but the northern and north-western provinces : but we cannot believe, that they ever produced any great radical change in the people, except in the south and southeast, for the following reasons. The original inhabitants of Spain lost their languages and religion in those of the victorious Romans; but we know that the Goths, though conquerors, yielded their's to the influence of the conquered in Italy, France and Spain ; especially after Euric, towards the end of the fifth century, had united the Alani, Suevi and Vandals, under one crown. They became a Latin Christian people; but the Saracens preserved their own language and religion, and so did the Spaniards.* The language of Spain, as far back as we can trace it (with the exception of the Biscayan, doubtless a relict of the Cantabrian) # is as much a dialect of Latin, as the Italian, and was less affected by the Arabic, than by the Gothic.
The facts that the Moors adopted Cordova as their capital, and not some central city, such as Toledo, the Gothic capital, and
* This is true of the Gothic, but not of the Moorish parts of Spain: that is, of the south as compared with the north, on a general survey of Spain, for several centuries after the battle of Xeres. As late as the eleventh century, A. D. 1039, it was necessary to transcribe an Arabic version of the Acts of the Spanish Councils, for the use of the Bishops and Clergy in the Moorish kingdoms. Spain had, in a few generations, in the South at least, imbibed the manners of the Arabians—they had submitted to circumcision, and to the legal abstinence from wine and pork: the name of Mozarabes (adscititii) derived from Musa, their conqueror, marked their civil and religious conformity; but it was not till the middle of the twelfth century, that the worship of Christ, and the succession of Pastors was abolished in the kingdoms of Seville and Cordova, of Grenada and Valencia ;--and when Ferdinand of Castile, retook Seville, &c. no Christians, except captives, were found. (9th Gib. bor, c. 51, p. 486, &c.) Abderame the First, (756 to 787) though he did not persecute his Christian subjects, yet deprived the cities of their Bishops, and the Churches of their Priests. (Gonzalva, of Cordova, vol. i. p. 39, Summ. Hist. of Moors.) It is a remarkable fact, in connexion with the question of Moorish influence, that the Castilian or classic Spanish, is the appropriate dialect of New Castile, the ancient Moorish kingdom of Toledo, wbich was not taken from the Moors, until 1085; and yet a dominion of 374 years, left but few vestiges of the supposed predominance of the Arabic language and literature. Nor let us forget, that Sismondi himself, (vol. i. p. 38, N) assigns the reign of Ferdinand the Great, A. D. 1037, to 1065, as the æra of the origin of the Castilian, the literary language of all Spain, ancient and modern. This must, of course, have sprung up and pursued its own progress towards maturity, uninfluenced by the Moors; and must have displaced the Moorish dialect, in Toledo and throughout New Castile generally, as speedily and thoroughly, as the Anti-Episcopal Biscayans, who would never permit a Bishop to set foot within their territory, compelled Ferdinand of Castile, to send away one, whom he had inadvertently brought with him! and having gathered the very earth that he had trod upon, burnt it and scattered the ashes to the winds.
+ The Biscayans speak that language, but write the French or Spanish, according to the kingdom, to which they belong. As we are on the subject of rhyme, we may mention, as a curious fact, that the first four lines of the Lord's Prayer, in the language of Biscay, are rhymed, at least if we judge by the practice of French poets:
"Gure Aita, ceruëtan aicena,
Eguin bedi hire vorondatea." f Del: de l'Esp. et du Portug. tom. v. p. 873.
that their power, their wealth and magnificence were lavished so prodigally only in the south, show that their actual strength and influence were chiefly seated in that portion of Spain: and, as they had previously colonized their eastern conquests, and all the north of Africa (the sleeve of the Robe, as their historians call it,) they could not have had so redundant a population to transplant into the peninsula, as to bear any comparison in numbers with the natives, except in the south. The great superiority of the Saracens in wealth, arts and arms, their wonderful improvement and embellishment of Southern Spain, their equity and toleration, sufficiently account for the acquiescence of that portion of the country. But from the time of the conquest in 711, beginning with the kingdoms of Oviedo and Leon, which arose immediately after it, there was an unremitted struggle between the Moors and Spaniards for 700 years; during which period, Spain was covered with Catholic and Mussulman kingdoms. Compendio de la Hist. de España. tom. i. p.
149. As early as 739-757, Alfonso, the Catholic, reigned from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees, and from the Bay of Biscay to Tierra de Campos, in old Castile. In 778, Charlemagne established the march of Spain, extending from the Pyrenees to the Ebro. Roussillon and Catalonia, Navarre and Arragon became his; and they continued under the jurisdiction of France, till the reign of Charles the Sinple, (about A. D. 900) when they became independent both of France, and of Gothic and Saracen Spain. Ramiro II. 845 to 851, took Madrid from the Moors, and possessed himself of Saragossa. Alfonso the Great, 862 to 910, extended his dominions to the Tagus and Guadiana. Ordogno II. 913 to to 924, possessed himself of many parts of Andalusia. Indeed, with the exception of Grenada, Murcia, Valencia and Andalusia, (in Arabic, the region of the Evening, the Hesperia of the Greeks, but most probably derived from its Vandal name, Wandalenhaus,) the other parts of Spain appear to have been, more or less, in every succeeding reign, the seat of war, and the subject of conquest and reconquest. Even Abderame the III. who reigned fifty years, from 912 to 961, and was their greatest monarch in arts and arms, possessed only Portugal, Andalusia, Grenada, Murcia, Valencia, and the greater part of New Castile. It is very remarkable also, that the Christians, for nearly 250 years after the battle of Xeres, (718 to 967) were ruled by such a succession of eminent statesmen and warriors, as is, perhaps, unexampled in the annals of nations. Victory almost invariably declared for them; and in the period from the battle of Xeres (711) to the fall of Grenada, (1492) 3700
g Gibb. vol. ix. c. 51, p. 480. h Sismondi, vol. i. p. 94.
battles were fought. It would seem then a fair conclusion, that the Moors could not have exercised a deep, permanent, extensive influence, except in the southern and south-eastern provinces, over the national habits, taste, and literature of the Hispano-Goths, with whom the literature of Spain had its origin.
Let us now survey the Spanish literature itself, in order to discover the supposed genealogy of modern rhyme. When the Romans had conquered Spain, they converted its tribes into a Latin people. Hence, Latin became the native language, and the literary influence of Rome is attested by the writings of the Senecas, Quinctilian, Trogus Pompeius, Justin, Lucan, Mela, Columella, Silius Italicus, Martial, Florus, Hyginus, Vigilantius, Prudentius, Juvencus, Dracontius, Orosius, Ildefonso, and Isidore. But no such state of things attests a correspondent effect on the part of the Saracens, whose power and glory, in arts and arms, were on the decline, at the end of the tenth century. Is it not a very remarkable fact, that there should have been no Spanish literature, in any part of Spain, where the Moorish power prevailed ? Indeed, none is found anywhere, until more than half of the peninsula had been reconquered.j Andrès himself dates the beginning of the vulgar Spanish poetry from the taking of Toledo, A.D. 1085, and Sismondi classes the Castilian, the noblest dialect of the Spanish, under the reign of Ferdinand the Great, A. D. 1037 to 1065. He denies that the claim of Spanish literature to such antiquity, as of the eighth century, is well grounded; and will not concede to the oldest poetry of the peninsula, an earlier date than the eleventh century. The most ancient poetry extant, is the Cid, which belongs to the middle of the twelfth century. The poem of Fernan Gonzales, he ranks after the æra of the Cid. The verses of Gonzalo Hermiguez, are classed as Galician or Portuguese, and referred to the middle of the eleventh century. Bouterwek, in his work on Spanish literature,' says, that the most ancient of the Spanish romances, in the form, in which they now appear, do not ascend to the twelfth century: and in page 85, that it is difficult to fix the date of the Cid, more especially as there is an ancient prose chronicle, of the same kind: the very state of facts, as to the Niebelungen, the ancient heroic poem of Germany, which appears in verse in the thirteenth century, but in prose in the ninth or tenth." The poem of Alexander the Great, is traced no farther back than the twelfth or thirteenth century; and instead of being a copy or imitation of the eastern fiction of Escander, is supposed i Hist. of Spain, vol. i. 162. j Andrès, vol. ii. p. 157. & Andrès, vol. ii. p. 158.
Vol. ii, p. 84. m Sism. vol. i. p. 100.