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strewed with pearls; of its castles and palaces rising like so many giants above the city which they are bound to protect, is in our opinion admirable, and impresses us with the idea that the author has lavished all his poetical powers on this description of his native soil. But he has not been equally successful in drawing the human characters, and we are at a loss to find one that is even tolerably delineated. That of the Moorish girl Arlaja, though one of the most prominent since she exercises a kind of spell over Isabel, creates neither interest nor sympathy; of Ibn Farūj the African zealot, always ready to run to arms and anxious to strike a blow on the Spanish frontier, and who in hopes of kindling war between the Christian and the Granadian monarchs makes an unseasonable incursion into the Castilian territory, no more is said in the subsequent portion of the narrative. In fact we do not see in this novel any of those vigorously-drawn characters, which present to the observer a true and faithful picture of life, a talent possessed in such perfection by the immortal authors whom M. de la Rosa has tried to imitate. It may be said that the novel not being complete, the characters represented have not yet acquired the strength and perfection they may hereafter exhibit. We hope, for the sake of the distinguished author's high reputation in literature, that it may be so: but in its present state we see nothing to make the book commendable, if we except the style ; this, however, is by no means sufficient of itself to satisfy the reader.
It seems to us as if the Spanish language had, by the peculiar circumstances which contributed to its formation, acquired a degree of richness and flexibility not to be met with in any other tongue derived from the Latin : for while we find as many words of the latter in it as in the Italian, it possesses a vast quantity of others which have a Greek or Teutonic origin; and the number of those derived from the Eastern languages is not less than two thousand. No doubt therefore can be entertained that the Spanish, owing to its increase from the languages or dialects spoken by the different nations who settled in the Peninsula, is richer than most others in Europe: nor is it uncommon to find in it an idea expressed by three different words, borrowed severally from the languages formerly common in Spain, viz., the Latin, the Gothic, and the Arabic. Hence the great facility which Spanish affords for poetry, and the prodigious number of poets which Spain has produced. Hence too it naturally follows that prose has been written too much like poetry; that too much attention has been paid to what at different periods has been termed el buen estilo ; ihat an idea is often sacrificed to a sound, perspicuity to the rounding of a sentence; and that many books in Spanish literature present nothing but a heap of words, sounding well to the ear, but conveying no meaning whatsoever to the mind. Quevedo's prose is bombastic and redundant; Boscan, Garcilaso, Gongora, wrote nothing but poetry. Indeed the literary axiom that poetical genius is incompatible with good prose writing, may appear paradoxical in our own literature, but it is too visible in the Spanish. Cervantes, who in graphic power still remains without a rival, made various attempts at verse but never composed one good one: Feijoo and Isla were equally unsuccessful; and Jovellano's Epistles are much too prosaic to deserve notice.
This, however, must be taken merely as a general observation, and not by any means in reference to the prose-style of M. de la Rosa, which on the contrary is pure without being antiquated, eloquent and vigorous without affectation, and will afford no small gratification to those who can appreciate the gems of Spanish literature. For our own part, as enthusiastically fond of Cervantes, it is with great pleasure that we have met now and then in M. de la Rosa's book with expressions borrowed from that iinmortal author, and which he has reproduced with great felicity. On this point we readily concede bim an excellence seldom to be met with amongst modern Spanish writers, who in order to imitate the new French school in every particular, affect to neglect and disdain the beautiful and classic models afforded by the native authors of the sixteenth century.
Art. VI.-1. Antiquitates Americanæ ; sive Scriptores Septentrio
nales rerum ante-Columbianarum in America. (American Antiquities; or Accounts from Northern Writers respecting
America before the Time of Columbus.) Copenhagen. 1837. 2. Samling af de i Nordens Oldskrifter indeholdte Efterretninger
om de gamle Nordboers Opdagelsesreiser til America, fra det 10de til det 14de Aarhundrede. (Collection of the Evidence contained in Old Writings, respecting the Voyages of Discovery made to America by the Ancient Inhabitants of the North, from the 10th to the 14th Century.) Published by the Royal
Society of Northern Antiquarians. Copenhagen. 1837. We dare say that there are many who will learn with no less chagrin than surprise, that the discovery of America was made five centuries before Columbus. The fame of a hero is held so sacred by the bulk of mankind, that but little popularity can be expected to attend the historical justice which threatens in anywise to obscure it. It manifests, however, a very imperfect comprehension of the merits of that great navigator to suppose that they are likely to be effaced in the slightest degree by the authentic proof and general acknowledgment of the prior discoveries of the Northmen. The soul and spirit which launched Columbus across the Atlantic were never in the remotest manner prefigured by the motives which actuated the roving Scandinavians. A broad distinction is thus established at once between the merits of their respective discoveries, by the different characters of the speculations and incidents which led to them. The voyages of the Northmen are replete with the ordinary interest of human events, in which the most important consequences are often seen to arise unexpectedly: yet the series of lucky accidents which led those rovers in the course of years, from land to land, through a sea in which
of islands at convenient distances encourage the mariner and tempt him onward in his first essays, till they at length reached the coast of America; cannot emulate, but rather serves by comparison to exalt the achievement of Columbus, who with long premeditation, designing no less than to overleap the boundaries of the known world, succeeded in realizing so far the dreams of an enthusiastic imagination; and apparently verified his predictions by a discovery which must ever be reckoned the most extraordinary on record. The discoveries of the Northmen, made without aim or object, awakened no zeal and easily fell into oblivion : that of Columbus on the other hand, originating in the most extravagant hopes, was much exaggerated in its immediate importance; and kindled an ardour which continued to operate op society for ages.
We have thought it prudent to say so much in order to avert the jealousy which might resist the just claims of the early northern discoverers. We know how dangerous it is to appear the rival of one firmly established in the admiration of mankind; and how naturally the reluctance to allow his glory to be vied with, would convert everything vague or problematical in the narratives of the Northmen into arguments against their authenticity. Those narratives are, in the meantime, the most ingenuous, unpretending documents ever penned. They are, it is true, sometimes obscure; and as many points which interest us at the present day appeared to their authors to have little importance, they often fail to furnish the details necessary for the complete elucidation of the matters they treat of. Still the unbiassed, impartial reader cannot refuse his entire confidence to their general tenor, nor deny that they seem characterized by the highest degree of accuracy and fidelity
which can be conceived to belong to primitive history, derived wholly from tradition and composed from memory.
The early discovery of America by the Northmen is not now made known for the first time; but the evidence on which it rests has never hitherto been published in an ample and satisfactory
As early as 1570, Ortelius claimed for them the merit of being the first discoverers of the New World. But in so doing, he singularly illustrated the caprice and irregularity which so often marks the progress of opinion. Blind to the real merits of those discoverers, he advanced their claims on wrong grounds; and misled by the account of the voyages of the Zeni, which we now know to be for the most part a fabrication, he supposed that America had been discovered by the Northmen whom those Venetians accompanied in the fourteenth century; and confidently asserted that no further praise was due to Columbus than that of originating a stable and useful intercourse with the transatlantic continent.
A correct account of the early discoveries of the Scandinavians in the west, was given by Torfæus, in his “ Historia Vinlandia Antiquæ,” published in 1705, and in his “ Grönlandia Antiqua," which appeared in the following year. But these works soon became too scarce to forward the ends of their publication, and have been long reckoned, even in the North, among the choicest bibliographical rarities. The writings of Suhm and Schöning, Lindeborg and Schröder, in which similar information is to be obtained, being in the northern languages, and in many instances only to be found in periodical publications, never enjoyed an extensive European circulation.
John Reinhold Foster, in his History of Voyages and Discoveries in the North, and some other writers chiefly following in his steps and familiar to the English reader, have asserted the discovery of America by the Northmen, but without entering into any statement of circumstances or of evidence; and their unexplained opinions consequently appear to be the offspring of predilection. The only mode of convincing the literary world of a fact, is to publish the documents which prove it. This task was undertaken in the present instance by M. Rafn alone, and he had advanced half way towards the completion of his work, when the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, of which he is the secretary, resolved to take the publication of it off his hands; and the result is the handsome volume the title of which stands at the head of this article.* Its typographical execution is every way worthy of the care and industry be
* London, published by Messrs. Black and Armstrong, agents to the Society.
stowed on it by M. Rafn and his coadjutors, and, combined with them, leaves nothing to be desired. We have here the original Icelandic text, with the various readings or even the different versions of the MSS., accompanied by translations in Danish and Latin; in this part of his task the editor has had the invaluable assistance of the learned Icelanders Finn Magnusen and Sweinbiorn Egilsson. He has himself added copious notes, with geographical and historical disquisitions.
Before we enter on the history of the early discoveries of the Northmen in the west, it seems desirable that we should say a few words respecting its sources, and their number, age, and authenticity. Of the documents composing the volume of American Antiquities, two are of surpassing importance; and there is every reason to believe that they were both written in the twelfth century, or probably about four generations after the events which they relate. The first of these, entitled a Fragment concerning Erik the Red, is found inserted as an episodical chapter in the Saga or history of King Olave Tryggveson. Leif, the son of Erik, was sent to Greenland by King Olave on a mission, the chief object of which was the conversion of the colonists to Christianity. The mention of this incident leads to the history of Erik the Red and of his migration to Greenland ; and the writer, having concluded his account of King Olave, returns to narrate at length the adventures of the Greenland colonists and their voyages to Vinland. This venerable fragment contains a reference to a prior and more ample history of Erik the Red. It is impossible to conjecture its author; but an error which occurs in it in regard to the genealogy of an ancient Icelandic family, a topic on which the old Scandinavian writers are usually very exact as well as copious, seems to indicate that it was written in Greenland, and probably not introduced into Iceland until after the lapse of a couple of centuries.
The next piece in the volume which is quite equal in importance to the preceding, is the History of Thorfinn Karlsefne, or the Manly. The author of this Saga, in relating the adventures of Karlsefne and his voyage to Vinland, could not help giving some account of the previous voyages which had led to it; and as Gudrida, the wife of Karlsefne, had been previously married to a son of Erik the Red, the latter with the whole train of events connected with his migration to Greenland, enters on the scene. Gudrida, during her residence in Vinland, was delivered of a son named Snorre, three of whose descendants held bishoprics in Iceland, in the course of the twelfth century; and it is supposed that one of these was the author of the Karlsefnes-Saga,